Brad’s Search : Part 43


James recovers from Paul’s shocking news. “What the fuck did you just say?”

“I slept with a man, James. I’m gay.”

“YOU’RE GAY?”

“Yes. Always have been. Always will be.”

James is silent for a few seconds, and Paul comes back. “You still there?”

“Yeah. I just can’t believe what you’re saying to me. After everything that’s happened...”

“Oh, James, trust me - if I could do anything to take it all back, I would. There is no excuse for how I treated you. I feel awful. I am so sorry.”

“I appreciate your apology, but it’s probably going to be a long time until I feel that I can forgive you.”

“I understand. I know things won’t be back to normal overnight, but I hope someday we can get back to how we used to be.”

“I guess we’ll see.” After a few seconds of silence, James continues, “So where did Patricia run off to with the kids?”

Paul sighs. “I don’t know.”

“What do you mean you don’t know?”

“The night she caught me cheating, she told me we’d talk about it in the morning and told me to sleep on the couch. When I woke up, she and the kids were gone. Just gone. That was about two weeks ago.”

“Holy shit.”

“Yeah. I have a pretty good idea where she went, though.”

“Where’s that?”

“Chicago. Her parents live on the outskirts of town. I’ve hired a private investigator. He’s there right now seeing what he can find, but he hasn’t come up with anything yet.”

“Jesus, Paul, that’s horrible. I don’t care if you cheated or not; she doesn’t have the right to take those kids away from you. She can go wherever the hell she wants, but those kids are yours, too.”

We hear Paul sigh over the phone. “I know, but there’s not much I can do about it now, except wait to hear from the PI.”

“I wish you the best, man. By the way, does Dad know about any of this?”

“He doesn’t know anything.”

“Paul, those are his grandkids! I can understand not telling me right away, but Dad?”

“What would you suggest I tell him when he asks why Patricia ran away?”

“The truth!”

“I’m afraid he’ll have a bad reaction.”

“Paul, you should have been more afraid of my reaction. Dad will understand. He cares about those kids, Paul. I promise you, he won’t mind the whole gay thing, or the whole cheating thing. You deserve to have those kids, too. That’s the most important.”

“Oh, God, James, thank you so much for understanding.”

“I’m trying to.”

“I’ve actually been thinking of taking a trip up there to see you and Dad - well, I wasn’t so sure I’d get to see you, but I hope you’d want to meet up, after all these years.”

“You know, honestly, before today, I would have said ‘no’. But after hearing about everything that’s happened to you... I’ve already gone through the whole coming out process, years ago. You need support, people who will listen, people who will tell you that nothing is wrong with being gay. Your wife obviously failed in that regard; that’s why you have Dad and me. You are still my brother, Paul. Nothing can change that. Nothing will change that.”

“Thank you, James. That means so much to me. Well, I’ve got to get off the phone here. The investigator is supposed to call back soon.”

“That’s fine.”

“All right. I’ll get back in touch with you soon when I can nail down some flights. I can’t wait to see you again, James. It’s been such a long time.”

“You’re right about that. It will be good to see each other again.”

“OK. You two have a great time at the wedding. Talk to you soon.”

“Thanks, Paul. Bye.”

“Bye.”

A beep sounds, indicating the call has ended. I glance at James. “Well?”

He laughs. “I wasn’t expecting the conversation to go quite like that.”

“How do you feel about him now?”

“To tell you the truth, I feel a lot better than before. I mean, there’s still a lot of pain that won’t go away instantly-”

“Of course.”

“-But he sounds like he truly understands all the pain I went through years ago, because he’s going through it now himself.”

“I gathered that, too. That really sucks about his kids, though.”

“Damn right. It’s not right at all what Patricia did. I’m determined to get him his kids back.”

“Can Willie help with that?”

“You read my mind. He doesn’t specialize in child custody cases, but he does have connections with a few attorneys in the Midwest. They have a good case. Patricia can’t just take matters into her own hands.”

“I hope things work out.”

“So do I.”

The rest of the drive goes smoothly. We cross the Columbia River into Oregon. I haven’t visited Portland that often, so James navigates me straight to the hotel. We pull up alongside the hotel, step out, and unload the luggage from the trunk. James hands the valet the key and a tip. We head inside.

The inside of the hotel is nothing short of magnificent. The lobby is absolutely humongous. A huge mural depicting the Portland skyline is painted behind the front desk. James and I walk up to check in.

“We have a reservation under Patrick Johnson. Has anyone else from that party checked in yet?” He hands the receptionist his identification.

The receptionist taps a few keys on the keyboard of her computer. “Good evening, Mr Briscoe. No one has checked in yet, but I can get you gentlemen checked in right now if you’d like.”

“Of course.”

She hands James a few papers to sign. “I have you down for two nights, checking out on Sunday. Is this right?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“You’ll be in room twelve-oh-six, on the twelfth floor. Do you have any special requests at this time that I may assist you with?”

“Not right now, but we’ll be sure to call down if we have any.”

She hands James two plastic access cards. “Wonderful, sir. Enjoy your stay.”

“Thank you.”

James hands me one of the cards. We each grab a suitcase and walk toward the elevator. James pushes the button, we step inside, and he pushes the button for the twelfth floor.

I gasp suddenly. James turns to me. “What’s wrong?”

“Did you ask Charles about that extra suit?”

He places his hand on my shoulder. “Relax. I spoke with him this morning and he has one within inches of your measurements. He has it all packed.”

I let out a sigh of relief.

The elevator reaches our floor and the doors open. We step out. The hallway is just as magnificent as the lobby. Marble and gold accents line the hallway, the end of which boasts a huge window overlooking Vancouver, Washington - where Patrick and Damon are to actually be married.

We make our way to the room. James inserts and removes the key, then opens the door.