Three days in the hospital was not without its visitors. Mae was pretty much there the whole time, except to go home and sleep. Thomas came to visit every day, and on the third day he even brought Noah.
“I’m going get s-some coffee,” Thomas told Noah, and left him alone with Mae and I.
“Hey, Noah,” I greeted him.
“Hi, Noah,” greeted Mae.
“Hey, Oncle and Tante,” he replied. He looked a little perplexed. “Um… why are you in the hospital, Oncle?”
“Um… well… I, uh, took too much bad medicine, and got sick.”
Noah looked thoughtful. “Bad medicine…? You mean, like heroin?”
I sat up straight in bed. “Non! Mon Dieu… non! It was, uh, Vicodin. That’s all.”
“Oh, okay. Vicodin is just as bad as heroin.”
Kid was smart.
“Hey, guess what?”
“What?” I was genuinely curious, as well as relieved that the awkward drug conversation was over.
“My thirteenth birthday is next week!” the kid told me excitedly.
“Really? Wow! Thirteen already?” I exclaimed.
Thomas walked in just then with his coffee. “Yup, little sh-shit’s growing up on me.”
“Hey, Oncle Guy,” Noah began. “How old is cousin Mason?” (Mason was my son’s name.)
“Oh, he’s 10 now,” I answered.
“Can he come over sometime?” Noah asked.
“Of course,” I told Noah. “I’ll have a talk with his mother.” Mason came to stay with Mae and I every other weekend. Ironically, Mason had brown curls and was tall like his mother, and actually looked more like Thomas than myself. If our boys had been the same age, I would have sworn they were switched at birth. Hah.
A nurse walked in carrying a clipboard. “Monsieur de Homem-Christo?”
“Discharge papers,” she indicated the clipboard. “You’re going home today.”
“Thank fuck!” I exclaimed, forgetting that Noah was present. I covered my mouth. “Sorry, you didn’t hear that.”
Noah shrugged. “Papa swears all the time.”
I knew it.
Mae would no longer let me keep Vicodin in the house, so I began my days with wine only. Thomas called me an alcoholic. I suppose that’s what I was. But since coming off the Vicodin, the shaking in my hands had become worse. A bottle of wine took care of that. Thomas told me only alcoholics got the shakes. Thomas had been pretty much straight edge since the age of 19, however he still drank wine when it was offered to him. He never drank enough to become drunk though, he would just have a glass to be social. I had just finished my first bottle of wine of the day when a text from Thomas came in:
Being an alcoholic.
Okay. Drinking wine.
Of course. I have this song idea, care to join me in the studio? I’m already there.
Is there any wine there
I’ll check. (One minute passed.) Two bottles.
Good. See you after I shower.
I showed up at our studio half-shot from my morning bottle of wine. “Thomaaaah!” I greeted him, throwing my arms around him. He cringed as I kissed each cheek in friendly greeting.
“Wine breath,” he reminded me.
“Sorry,” I apologized. I immediately searched for and found the two bottles of wine that Thomas had promised would be there. I cracked one open and took a swig, passing the bottle to Thomas afterwards. He took a sip and set the bottle down between us. He was sitting down at the mixer, so I joined him. “Alright,” I began. “Play it for me.”
“I-it’s not much,” Thomas explained. “Just an i-idea.” He pressed a button and played what he had come up with. I bobbed my head to the beat.
“Not bad,” I told Thomas when the clip had finished. “We could definitely work with it.”
Thomas beamed. Oh, how I loved that toothy grin of his. It made me feel giddy. Or was that the wine…? Either way, I smiled back at Thomas, my eyes coming to rest on that full pout of his. A kiss would have been nice right then, but even buzzed I thought better of it. I realized I was staring when I noticed how flushed Thomas’ face was. I cleared my throat and took a big swig of wine.
“So, uh…” Thomas began nervously. “I-I had a-a question…”
“Shoot,” I told Thomas.
“Wh-when w-was the last time… you were, uh… a-active?”
I looked at him, confused. “I know I’m fat, Thomah, but really?”
Thomas looked alarmed. “N-no! I didn’t mean that! I-I mean… sexually active.”
“Oh,” I replied, relieved we weren’t talking about my weight problem. “Uh… five years ago. Maybe.”
Thomas looked thoughtful. “So, 2007. During our last t-tour then?”
“Wh-who was it? I-if you don’t m-mind me asking?”
I shrugged, lighting up a cigarette. “One of the crew guys, Emile was his name.” I chuckled. “Plied me with ecstasy and turned me very receptive.”
“Ah,” breathed Thomas, turning red. I think he knew what I meant by ‘receptive.’ “I remember Emile. Have you, uh, been t-tested recently?”
I nodded. “Every year, Thomah. Even though it’s been five years since the last time, I still get tested every year.” I patted Thomas on the shoulder, standing up. “Every year I’m clean.”
Thomas looked relieved. I grabbed the ash tray off of the coffee table and resumed my spot next to Thomas. We sat quietly after that, me smoking a cigarette, and both passing the bottle of wine between us. That was the good thing about having been best friends since the 8th grade: silences were never uncomfortable.
“So, uh…” I began. “You’re bi then? Curious? Gay like me?” I laughed, watching as Thomas’ face and ears turned bright red. He swallowed hard.
“Bi… c-curious. I g-guess.”
“Only women, then?” I questioned. Thomas nodded. “Shame,” I continued. “Don’t know what you’re missing out on.”
Thomas just took a big gulp of wine and ran his fingers through his brown curls. He spread out the long fingers of his left hand and appeared to be inspecting his fingernails. “M-maybe we could, uh… d-do that thing… where we, uh, k-kiss… and you, uh, do that th-thing…?”
I actually broke out into a grin. Thomas had liked what we did that day. I set my cigarette in the ash tray and stood up. Still grinning, I stood between Thomas’ long legs and grasped at his shirt. I swiftly ripped his shirt open, sending the buttons flying in every direction.
“I’ve always wanted to do that,” I admitted with a slight flush. Then I leaned over and kissed him softly on each cheek. I giggled when his whiskers tickled my nostrils. Thomas’ big hands reached behind my head and pulled me closer. We kissed. His mouth was soft and warm, much like the rest of him, as my hands came to rest on his bare chest. I did ‘that thing’ Thomas had asked me to do, and Thomas moaned into my mouth, causing me to shiver. By the time we pulled apart, my eyes were closed and I was off in dreamland somewhere. I snapped out of it when I realized Noah had been standing behind his dad.
Long story short, Noah said he already knew, as his mom spared him no expense and told him about us. Part of me was relieved, but mostly I was alarmed.
“Sorry you had to see that,” I apologized to Noah. I noticed Thomas had his head in his hands, and had been like that since discovering his son had seen us. He eventually rubbed at his face and put his hands down.
“Noah…” he began.
“Papa, don’t worry,” Noah insisted. “I’m okay. It’s just… weird.”
“You know I still love Mama, right?” Thomas questioned his son.
Noah hung his head. “Mama said you’d probably leave her… for Oncle Guy.”
“Putain!” I exclaimed.