Brad’s Search : Part 33


I wake up the next day and head into work. I tell Eric that I said yes to James’s proposition. He congratulates me and pats me on the shoulder.

The rest of the week goes smoothly. Throughout the week I’ve been gathering things together to make the move easier. My landlady has said she found someone to finish out my lease and move in, and that he’s interested in buying the rest of my big furniture.

Friday rolls around, and I commandeer Gary and Harry to help me move. They and James show up after I get home on Friday and help load the cars with mostly small things. We manage to get everything except my computer and office furniture into the cars. We all drive to James’s condo, and Gary and Harry get their first look at my soon-to-be home.

Gary and Harry just stand there in silence for a few seconds. Harry then says, “Wow, Brad, this is what you were talking about? I would have said ‘yes’ much sooner!”

Gary then quips, “Yeah. This is almost enough to make me break up with Gina, turn gay, and steal James away from you. Almost.”

James then wraps his arm around my shoulder. “Sorry boys.” He then plants a huge kiss on my cheek.

I spend the night at James’s - well, our - place. James and I head back to my old place the next morning to move my office furniture and computer. Turns out his friend Freddie has a pick-up truck, and is more than happy to let us borrow it to help move the big furniture. I don’t know how we did it, but we got all of my belongings out of my old place in just one weekend, and it’s pretty much ready to move in for the next tenant. All that moving has made us pretty tired, though. We barely have enough energy to head up the stairs, take off our shoes, and plop down on the bed, but we manage.

After about an hour, I stir awake from my nap. I look to my left; James is still peacefully asleep. I decide not to wake him, and instead head downstairs to have a look around.

Some things have changed since I first saw the place two weeks ago. Next to the stairs by the kitchen is a walkway that leads to a secluded area. James had used this area for storage, but he has since cleared it away. He and I haven’t discussed it yet, but that area would be great for my office; it would allow me to concentrate, and the area would generally be undisturbed, which is great because I sometimes have files and notes all over the place. I think he had that idea in mind when he cleared it out.

I walk to the large, open living area and take a look at the photographs on the mantle of the fireplace. One photograph is of a much younger-looking James with what I presume to be his parents. There is another photograph which I can tell was taken more recently than the first, but only James and his father are pictured.

“Admiring me during my younger years?”

I look to my right. James has woken up and joined me downstairs.

“Yeah. You and your parents look so beautiful in these pictures. Those are your parents, right?”

“Thanks, and yes, that’s them.”

I point to the second photograph. “Where’s your mom in this picture?”

James hesitates for a few seconds, then says, “I guess it’s time you knew something.”

I blankly stare at him for a few seconds. He then sits down on the couch and taps the cushion beside him, prompting me to sit there.

James sighs quickly and looks up at the ceiling. “My mom passed away just a few years ago.”

“Oh James, I’m so sorry to hear that.”

He gives me a half-smile. “Thanks. She died of a heart attack. She had just made it past her 50th birthday. All the warning signs were there, though. Throughout my childhood, she was a heavy drinker and smoker, and I mean heavy. Some days the house reeked so badly of smoke that my brother and I just stayed in our bedroom because that was the one room in the house that smelled the best.”

“You have a brother?”

“Yeah. He’s about two years older than me.”

I hesitate for a few seconds. “Can I ask you something?”

“You can ask me anything you want, Brad. Nothing’s off the table.”

“I don’t see your brother in any of those photos, and you hadn’t mentioned him until now. What’s the story behind that?”

James takes a deep breath. “After I came out, remember how I said my parents weren’t quite the most accepting people?”

I nod. James continues, “Well, my brother had an even worse reaction. He had a girlfriend at the time, and they eventually married, but at the time, he got extremely righteous and was convinced I was living in sin. My parents were religious and brought us up in church. I eventually came to dismiss all of it, but he ate it up, and he really went to town when I came out.”

“Yikes. Where is he now?”

“Oh, still married with kids, out in the Midwest somewhere. He said some pretty nasty things to me back then, and I haven’t quite had the motivation to forgive him yet. I’ve just put it all in the back of my mind and haven’t given it much thought.”

“Do you ever want to be on speaking terms with him again?”

“You know, at this point, I don’t think I would lose anything if I never spoke to him again. It’s been so long that I hardly feel any emotion at all. I don’t know - ever since then, I’ve been able to push it to the back of my mind, and I hardly ever think about him now.”

There is silence for a few seconds, then James continues, “Anyway, getting back to my mother: After she had died, Dad and I looked at her family history, and we saw a large number of deaths due to heart attack and a strong history of heart disease. Of course, her smoking and drinking didn’t help matters any. So now, I get my cholesterol checked often, make sure I eat right, and try not to drink too much. And I definitely don’t smoke.”

I place my hand on his knee. “Good. I want my boyfriend here for a long time.”

He leans in and we kiss. As we pull away, he says, “I don’t know about you, but all that moving has made me hungry.”

“Me too.”

“I’ve been craving an olive and mushroom pasta, with a fuckload of cheese.”

“That sounds absolutely heavenly.”

He gives me a quick peck, then says, “I’ll get right on it.”

He hops up, goes to the kitchen, begins boiling a pot of water, and gathers the rest of the ingredients.

“Is there anything I can help you with?”

“Can you chop up the mushrooms and olives?”

“Sure.”

I begin searching for the knives. He points to the drawer all the way to the right, “In there.” I find the exact knife I’m looking for and begin chopping the mushrooms and olives.

He adds a pinch of salt and about a quart of olive oil to the water. “So, now that you know about my mother, can I ask a bit about your father?”

“I guess that’s only fair.”

The water begins to boil, and James adds in the pasta. “Well, I remember you saying he was in the Air Force and flew helicopters.”

“Yeah. He actually died in flight - from what I’ve been told.”

James tilts his head to the side and waits for me to continue.

“This all happened about six years ago. While he was flying, some electrical problem occurred and the engine just up and quit. They were around all kinds of mountains, so it was pretty much impossible to make a good emergency landing. They ended up crashing, and no one survived.”

A tear begins forming. James walks over to me and hugs me tightly. We pull away and he holds my arms with his hands. I continue, “The last time I saw him was at my college graduation, back when Mom and I still lived in Denver. He told me how proud he was of me. His leave ended the day after, and that was the last time that Mom and I saw him.”

“I can tell he was very important to you.”

“He was, though I hardly knew him that well because he was out on assignment so much. Rather than uproot his whole family every time he got deployed, he felt it was best that Mom and I stay put in Denver so I could have as much of a stable childhood as possible. He was out in far reaches of the world anyway, so all of us living together would not have been practical. His death really hit Mom the worst, though, because they spent so much time together before he was always out on assignments.”

“Any brothers or sisters?”

“Nope.”

“So you’re all your mom has left.”

“That’s right.”

“Well, I can certainly imagine how tough that can be for her.”

“She’s a strong woman. She’s been amazing through this whole process.”

“She certainly sounds like a strong woman. But I’m glad she has you in her life, too.”

He stirs the pasta while I finish chopping the mushrooms and olives.

I turn to James. “Were you serious about taking a trip down to Denver to meet her?”

“Of course! I’d love to meet her.”

“Good, because I know this for sure: I will be so ready to take a vacation by the time this project at work is over.”

James chuckles. “I know the feeling. How long would you want to spend there?”

“I was thinking around a week. Will you be able to get that time off at the law firm?”

“Oh yeah, that won’t be a problem at all. Now if I were an actual attorney, it would be a different story. But luckily Dad hasn’t pushed me into getting a law degree yet.”

James fishes out a piece of pasta and tastes it. “It’s ready, mon chéri!”

I give James a funny look. “Yeah, that’s exactly the expression I would have used after cooking an Italian dish. But you are the chef.”

He quips back, “I may be the chef, but you’re doing a damn good job serving up the side dish of sarcasm.”

I smile and nod.

* * * * *

Dinner is exquisite. I never thought I’d love that combination of pasta, mushrooms, and olives.

James gathers up the dishes and walks to the sink. “I’ll have to make that again sometime, eh?”

“How about tomorrow?”

He chuckles. “Sure, I just have to drop by the market to grab the ingredients fresh.”

“Ah, that’s why it tastes so good!”

“What, you thought a five-star chef like me would buy any old thing that’s been sitting in a can on the shelf? Blasphemy!”

“Oh gosh, sorry, I beg for your forgiveness.”

He places his finger on my lips to stifle my sarcasm.

“So, market tomorrow?”

“Yeah.”

“Good. I’ve been dying to try this dish with sun-dried tomatoes but haven’t found a good seller yet. Hopefully my luck will turn around tomorrow.”

“Well, my luck for my entire life has turned around since we ran into each other.”

James grabs me by the arms. “Oh, what a sweet thing to say! Come here.” He plants a huge kiss on my lips.

I yawn. “That nap sure helped, but I’m pretty tired again. How about we call it a night?”

James winks at me. “Sure thing, cutie.”

We walk upstairs, strip off all of our clothes, and crawl under the sheets. James wraps his arms around me, and it’s not too long before we fall asleep.