His last day in Houston and he sat at the first leg of Terminal C hearing his parents and the twins chattering about the upcoming Kingdom Hall building plans. It all faded into a low grumble of nonexistent emotion about a nonexistent future in his soon to be nonexistent present, as many of the conversations had become in the past month with the absence of David.
In the subsequent weeks after the party he saw Ollie a few more times. New Orleans was a blast. He first showed up with a whole new set of clothes and a new cap, looking stunningly dapper with his freshly shaved angular jaw and ready-to-rape piercing blue eyes. After their third encounter, he told the young escort that he was leaving to New York.
Ollie took it hard, and gave James a remarkably simple and sentimental gift that James kept private… and was currently on his person as he is a nervous flyer. Being with him was the closest I’ve ever been to flying, so if the plane goes down, maybe I will have a chance? He isn’t superstitious, but all kinds of rules are bent when it comes to air travel. For a young escort who had absolutely nothing to his name, he gave the only thing he had to spare, and to James it was the most important gift he received during his entire departure tour.
The workers at Feathers (and later at the Gold Room) gave him a fantastic farewell party. Ozzy was particularly concerned about the situation but was supportive, giving him a scarf sure to spruce up any ‘dull church outfit’. Billy occupied the night with last minute lighting design changes to his almost finished play, what looked to be a rather dark masterpiece of this young, straight, muscle jock theater director. Brit and Derrick sat with him the next day at House of Pies, and even China Doll sitting a few tables over in her thick Chinese accent had to scream her goodbye to the entire restaurant… ending in grand applause for someone everyone eating didn’t know.
He spends a month with his ‘nose to the grindstone’ in order to prep himself for the goody godly goodiness that lays ahead. He thinks he has everything out of his system, except Ollie, or… even worse… what Ollie represented. He comes to grips with the fact that this was a luxury that straight people go through and this was not something he, as a homosexual was ever going to experience while serving in the Organization. This was a fact that cuts him deeply.
He is at his core soft and sensitive. The hard-working douche exterior is a facade used to keep people at bay and prevent anyone from asking too many questions. Even if questions are asked, he has no problem taking the lie down to the very core of his sole in order to keep up the appearance of the Golden Child he was bred to be. But the reality was that he is skinless and exposed at all times causing him to cry often at night, and he finally found strength in other people… people who are just like him… people who didn’t think he was better than them, people who humble him because of their strength and next to them he feels the ‘completeness’ that everyone on the straight side keeps talking about… sometimes sexually, sometimes in a bar fight, sometimes just sitting around with a straight friend watching gay porn trying to design lighting cues for a staged production he will never see. All these people are condemned by Jehovah (or at least by his servants) and they were the same people that made his soul leap from the weak comfortableness in lying to everyone he knows to the integrity and honesty of a structure like is seen in his father that he so often admired.
Maybe we all need to take different paths to be the best people we can be?
It was conversation that doesn’t lead anywhere with David. There is only one path. The path is through Jehovah. If you get there through another way, that mean’s you’ve got Satan’s “angel of light” shit going for you. You know this.
I know this, but I’ve never… FELT… it… this… whatever.
It is easier to change the subject than to discuss it as neither person knew what it is there was to discuss. Feeling everything the Organization told them to be as ‘good Christians’ by stepping away from their dogma and surrounding oneself with the energy of the world isn’t exactly an easy discussion to have, much less justify.
The grand time of enjoying the world is now over and everything he learned would be put to good use… even if he wasn’t sure what ‘good’ was anymore. It seemed absurd that a person like his molester can continually rape him and still progress in the organization without admitting anything to the elders (of which, he eventually became), and yet those that embrace who they are as sexual beings are considered so ugly in the face of Jehovah that they are only listened to through a thick spiritual demon-proof plexiglass cylinder that surrounds the Witness but keeps out the heavenly-offensive sinner.
The time is gone. With each page from Ollie… His time is gone.
This will never be repeated.
The heartbreak comes from saying farewell to ‘Honest James’ and the people who helped him understand his own psychology through their gracious sharing of their sociology and style. His Witness going-away party is about as emotionless as struggling through a heavily one-sided and disconnected surreal foreign movie. The effects are nice, but the lack of interest is not going to be compensated with shredded meat tacos or Tejano music. Everyone is there from all over Texas – the history of James until now – a happy and lighthearted “This is Your Life” muted and in black and white. And with each new attendee, he only sees the blind and the innocent.
There is such legitimate honesty in their truth but their truth is less than 1/1000th of what the world actually was as a composite entity. The laughter and congratulations, the emotional outpouring of support and happiness are misplaced against the real loss of what is lost in the longing that he had to just stay stationary and learn… learn everything there was to learn about people in the deepest corners of the world making their way through the day with addiction and tolerance, substance and coping skills, or blissful avoidance and smiles. He wants to walk where others walked and run in paths unclaimed, run so hard that the arrogant condescension of the religion he was attached to would drown in the backdraft and dissipate it’s judgmental flames into it’s own honest consistency of thin smoke and ash.
The plane is boarding… or so he is told. Suddenly all eyes are on him.
He tries to be witty.
He tries to play it off.
Loud clumping footsteps of overused Doc Martins are coming closer with a very out-of-breath white boy dressed in blue polo shirt running to catch everyone at the gate. He slows down to catch his breath as the other guy in a blue polo shirt meets him out of earshot of the others, speaking only into the pupils of the other.
I can’t believe you came.
I know. Normally I wouldn’t. You know… not the cool thing to do.
Well this is the nicest not-cool thing ever.
They embrace in a way that speaks a conversation of loss and pain, hellfire of loneliness and confusion, abandonment, and paths slightly turning into different, seemingly opposite directions. It was a touch which teared up in the heart and snaked its way into the eyes meaning that this one person will have to be the last person he embraces with any reality as the countdown from now until full weeping was a minimal five minutes, maybe six at best.
Don’t… go crazy up there.
I promise nothing.
Well, at least don’t die.
Least of all, I cannot remotely promise that.
The soft whispers release the embrace and the two similarly dressed guys separated and were careful not to look each other in the eyes.
Half-hugs to the twins under the guise of needed to get to the parents.
Half-hugs to the family under the guise of being late to board the plane.
Where is David going? You girls want to go eat?
Yeah, we could use the company.
Goodbye, Son. Call us when you get there.
He boards his plane. Window seat. He sees a big green truck in the parking lot just sitting there.
When the captain gives the signal, James leaves his window seat for the laboratory.
He screams in pain. It is a pain he has never felt before.
From the tiny toilet in the back of a 757, he immediately begins construction on a structure to avoid ever feeling such loss ever again. Loss as a whole… people, life, sex, love, hope, honestly, and faith… it was all so fragile and beautiful. Most of all it’s all integrated together in a finely woven silk sheet of energy threads and if one anchor fails, the entire fabric unravels… and with one lift off, it was all unraveling. It is impossible to cope with on the flight without causing more scars than were already going to be carried with him for the rest of his life.
I guess I had a heart after all.
Back at the seat he broke out the fake ID he had purchased in his last trip to New York while 42nd street was still in its seedy state. He is legally over 21 now, so he doesn’t need it anymore, but… still… for old time’s sake.
Jack and Coke, please.
Oh. You’re heading home.
So I am told.
Here you go. Let me know if you need another.
He places a bracelet on his seat tray.
He toasts a goodbye, a thank you, appreciation for what was, and for what will never be. He thinks he can barely see the lights of Houston dying in the background haze and he wanted to thank each bulb… the collection of them, the wires linking them, the designers and the engineers who created the visual, the installers, and the maintenence people who flip the switch to light the night for those like himself, sailors on the dark rivers of asphalt and mischief. For the nicity of everyone, the function of their society… above and underground… working together, Thank you. To the gay brothers and sisters who have the courage to be themselves, out, and humane to each other, Thank you. For taking on a stray cat and keeping him safe while he learned void of scars or trauma (except those left on his clients), Thank you.
For allowing him to see the true nature of who he is, Thank you for the rest of my life.
He places the bracelet back in his pocket. It was too much to get to specific people just yet.
Ma’am? I’m going to need one more.
When exercising the muscle of hope, one must always be prepared when hitting “the wall”. It was one of the last lessons he was learning… how forcing something not ready to manifest itself could be made worse with the lubrication of drugs and alcohol.
Did you want me to make it a double, sir?
No. Just the one. And a water. I have a long evening ahead still.
A long evening tonight, the rest if his life tomorrow.
James P. Perez © 2013