Brad’s Search : Part 14

I wake up to a familiar torso-rubbing. That must mean I’m in bed with Kelly.

“Good morning, sleepyhead.”

I look over at Kelly and try to give her my best smile. “Morning.”

“You must have come in pretty late last night. Did you find another hot babe here?”

I laugh - and I’m pretty sure Kelly doesn’t know the real reason why.

Kelly and I get ready, pack up everything, and head down to meet the rest of the group at the restaurant for breakfast. We all find a table and go up to grab food. I just had to try more of that salmon.

Gary expresses his condolences to Kelly. “I’m sorry you didn’t get more of a chance to try out snowboarding or skiing.”

“Oh, that’s all right; I’m sure I’ll have more chances.” Kelly gives my arm a quick squeeze. Mom just tilts her head to the side and smiles.

Gary turns to Gina. “How did your pictures come out, babe?”

“Actually pretty well. I’m thinking of sending some to a friend of mine. She works at an imaging company.”

Sharon squeals in excitement. “We could be looking at the next Dorothea Lange!”

Gary nudges me and whispers in my ear, “Or Bruce Weber.”

I whisper back, “She’s taken pictures of you?” Gary just smiles at me knowingly with that evil grin.

We wrap up breakfast and get up to move the bags to the cars. We start walking to the elevators. Harry asks me, “Are you all packed up?”

I turn to answer him as we round the corner. “Yeah, how ab-” I accidentally run into someone. “Oh, sorry, excuse me, sir.”

I look up and notice it’s Stan.

Crap. And I almost made it out of there undetected.

“Good to see you, Brad.” He doesn’t sound happy.

“Er, good to see you too, Stan.”

“You here with anyone?”

“Well, I-”

Mom steps in. “Brad! Is this the man you were dating?”

“Mom, don’t-”

Kelly looks utterly confused. “What are you two talking about? I’m his girlfriend.”

Stan quips back, “Brad dating a girl? That’s news to me. I happen to be his ex-boyfriend, and the greatest thing he’ll never have.”

Kelly turns her attention to me. “So what, you’re bisexual?”

I can hardly muster a, “Well-”

Stan laughs. “Hardly.”

Mom looks at me with a sadness in her eyes. “Brad? Is this true?”

A few very tense seconds pass. I take a deep breath. “Yes, it’s true. Kelly, meet Stan, my ex-boyfriend. Stan, meet Kelly, my-”

Kelly interrupts. “His ex-girlfriend.”

Kelly shakes Stan’s hand rather vigorously, then storms away. I look up at Gary and Harry. They’re both speechless.

Stan just looks at me, says, “See you ‘round, Brad,” and walks away.

Mom yells after Stan, “Nice meeting you!”

Harry turns to me. “So, Brad, you’re all packed up?”

I am so angry from how this situation turned out that I can’t help but yell at Harry. “Yeah, didn’t we cover all of that before I ran into Stan?”

“Sorry, Brad, we must’ve; I just forgot.”

Gary suggests, “You stay here; Harry and I will go upstairs to pack and will text you when Kelly’s gone.”

“All right.”

Gary and Harry go upstairs while Mom sits on a couch in the lobby. I can’t blame them. No one really wants to be near someone when they’ve fucked up really badly.

Minutes later, my phone vibrates and it’s a text from Gary. I head upstairs and meet them at my room. We go in and I grab the bags.

“We saw Kelly as she was leaving. She said she arranged a ride with Julia and her friends back to Seattle.”

“Is that all?”

“Well, she also scathingly said, ‘Give my regards to that filthy, lying snake.’”

“I guess we can call that relationship over.”

“Was it ever official to begin with?”

I sigh. “I guess not. But I’m telling you guys one thing.” I point at both of them. “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever let you guys talk me into doing.”

Harry quips, “We may have done the talking, but you did all the rest.”

I had to give him that one.

Gary turns his attention to me. “I agree; the whole thing was pretty stupid. Gina’s not too happy about it, but I’ll try to do my best and calm her down. Are we still good, though?”

“Are you crazy? You guys stood right there during the whole thing. Where am I going to find two other people who stick by me through thick and thin?”

“That’s what I was hoping for.”

I hug each of them, then we all bring the bags downstairs and load the cars up.

Mom and I get in my car while Gary, Harry, and Gina get in Gary’s. I roll my window down. “Drive safely.”

“You too. Have a safe flight, Sharon. And come and see us again.”

“You know I will!”

I pull out of the parking lot and head onto 410.

The drive back to the airport is fairly silent. Mom, one of the most accepting and loving people I’ve ever known, won’t even speak to me. It takes all my effort to keep from crying on the way to the airport.

We pull into the parking lot fairly close to the entrance. I walk up and flag down a skycap to help with the bags. We get everything inside and up to the counter. I go to the kiosk to print out Mom’s boarding pass while Mom attempts to locate her Denver buddy’s best friend.

I return with her boarding pass. “Got everything taken care of?”

“Yep. He is so charming. When I get back to Denver, I’ll have to arrange to take them out to dinner.”

“I’ll walk you to security.”

We walk, still silent. We arrive at the entrance to security and we face each other.

Mom looks at me with those sad eyes again. “Brad, you know I love you no matter what.”

“Yes, Mom, I know.”

“Did you love her?”

“You know, I don’t think I could have ever felt the way about a woman like I did with Kelly. I didn’t know I was capable of it.”

“Brad, your love knows no boundaries. I’m happy that your heart was open to receiving it, and also to returning it.”

I could feel myself tearing up. She continued, “This doesn’t change anything between you and me. You’ll always be my baby boy - gay, straight, bi, whatever.”

“Thanks, Mom, but after sampling the buffet, I think I’ll stick with men.”

“Oh, you hush!”

She pulls me into a tight hug, and I don’t think she wants to let go. She eventually pulls away.

“You have so much going for you, Brad - living in a fabulous city, a new job - you have so much ahead of you. Just keep living and loving.”

“I will.”

“OK, one more for the flight.”

We hug tightly again.

“Call me when your flight lands.”

“I will, baby boy. I love you.”

“I love you too, Mom.”

And with that, she walks to security. She turns to me and waves. I wave back, and then turn around and leave the airport.