Brad’s Search : Part 46


James turns to Patrick. “So, Brad wants to know more about you and Damon.”

“Sure, Brad, what would you like to know?”

I give James a mean look. “Thanks for making this easy for me.”

He winks at me. “You’re welcome, babe.”

I take a large sip of my lemon drop, and then look back at Patrick, who is patiently waiting for me to continue. “I was just blown away by how solemn and deep your vows were to each other. I’m curious and want to know more about how you two have gotten so close.”

“Of course, we’d be glad to share our story with you.” He looks at Damon, and they grasp each other’s hands. They seem like they’ve told this story quite a few times. Patrick starts, “I knew I was gay and came out at a pretty early age - it was around seventh or eighth grade if I remember correctly. My parents probably knew that I was gay even earlier than I did. They always accepted me. That was part of the problem, that they were so nonchalant.”

I finish taking another sip. “How could that be a bad thing?”

“Well, I developed a pretty big crush on one of my classmates in high school - a big crush. His name was Adam.” Patrick gets a dreamy look in his eyes. “He was tall, kind of a dirty blonde, played football... and he was straight-”

Damon butts in. “Of course.”

“-So, he found out - everyone found out - and I was ridiculed, harassed, called names, the whole nine yards. I fell into a depression, and then eventually I found Damon.” He squeezes Damon’s hand. The two look at each other, then Patrick looks back at me. “He hadn’t come out yet to anyone else, but he saw how much I was struggling, and we became really good friends. He even had a bit of a crush on me as well, right honey?”

“Oh my God, did I. Of course, Patrick didn’t want to have anything to do with me romantically - he was still way too infatuated with his straight guy. Heaven knows why...”

Patrick shrugs and smiles. “I guess I just really wanted what I couldn’t have.”

Damon nods. “That must have been why I was so into you at the time. You were in love with someone else, but I just wanted to rush in and fix everything for you.” He looks at me. “I couldn’t bear to see him that sad. I had to wonder: If this is what I’m going to have to go through, I’m never going to come out of the closet. I wanted to make everything better so that I could believe things could be better for me when I came out.”

“But they didn’t get better - at least not back then. The harassment continued. I couldn’t turn to anyone, not even my parents. Though they accepted me, they didn’t think the bullying and name-calling could be as harmful as it was. They thought I was overreacting. I couldn’t confide in anyone other than Damon, but it started getting to be too unbearable for him to take it all on.”

Damon sighs. “I tried. I tried to be there for him, but I fell in love with him hard. He would always turn down my romantic advances because he still had a crush on his straight guy. It was so difficult for me to be a friend and listen to him and give him advice when I wanted so badly to hold him, hug him, and kiss him. It got so hard for me that I eventually had to put a stop to it and say goodbye. That’s the one and only time it happened, and it will never happen again.”

I take the last sip of my drink. “What happened next?”

Patrick takes the story from there. “After he called off the friendship, I was left with no one at all. The bullying continued, my parents never took me seriously, and I could not turn to anyone else. I was all alone, and my depression got worse. I had nowhere to go. I ran all out of options - except for one.”

I covered my mouth. “Oh God.”

“After coming home from school one day, I went to the bathroom, opened the medicine cabinet, grabbed the first pill bottle I saw, and swallowed everything inside.”

Silence pierces the air while the gravity of Patrick’s story sets in. James places his hand on my shoulder and takes the empty martini glass from my hand. My other hand is still covering my mouth.

“Another drink, babe?”

I nod, but remain focused on Patrick. He takes a deep breath and goes on. “Next thing I remember, I woke up in a dark room with odd colored lights to my side. I was in the worst pain imaginable, but I could distinctly feel an itch on my arm. I moved to scratch it and noticed something attached to it. I realized it was an IV, and that the colored lights were part of a vitals monitoring machine. I was in the hospital.”

I am awestruck. “So the doctors must have gotten all the pills out of you.”

“They did. The pain was from the stomach pumping. I’m really glad I wasn’t conscious when they were doing that to me.”

“So who found you?”

“Damon.”

“Damon? I thought he cut off his friendship with you.”

Patrick looks at Damon, who continues the story. “Earlier that day, I don’t know why, but I had a very compelling desire to talk to Patrick. I don’t know if something within me wanted to be friends with him again, or to see how he was doing, I don’t know - I was just driven to talk to him for some reason.

“I went over to his house after school the same day he overdosed. His parents worked on the other side of town, and wouldn’t be home for a few hours, so Patrick was the only person who could open the door. I knocked and knocked, and after he didn’t answer, I started banging loudly and begged him to open the door. He never responded, of course, but something inside me told me to try the doorknob. I thought it was foolish; both of us always had a habit of locking the door when we got home. But I tried it anyway. And it opened.

“I called out to him. ‘Patrick, Patrick!’ No answer. I looked in his bedroom, and when I noticed he wasn’t there, checked the bathroom, and saw him on the floor, with the empty pill bottle in his hand.”

James returns with my drink and sits next to me.

Damon goes on. “All that had happened during our friendship - the longing desire to be with him, the unreturned romantic gestures, all the hurt - it all just went away. I wasn’t angry or sad at him anymore. I wanted to - needed to - be his friend again, needed to be his source of support. I was shocked for a few seconds, but knew I had to act fast. I grabbed the nearest phone and called 9-1-1 and told them what was going on, and the only thing I could do until they arrived was lay down next to Patrick, hold his hand, and keep telling him, if he could hear me, to hold on and not let go.

“The time seemed to pass slower than ever, but the ambulance got there and the paramedics took over. I had told the 9-1-1 operator where Patrick’s parents worked, and they had already gotten in contact with them and they were on their way home and got there minutes after the paramedics. There was only room for Patrick and one other person in the ambulance, so Olivia went with him and Troy took me in his car and we followed the ambulance to the hospital.

“They had to wheel Patrick into the emergency room, and there just wasn’t enough space for Troy, Olivia, and me to be with Patrick at the time. We all hugged each other and they just kept telling me how brave I was and thanked me for how quickly I acted.”

Patrick speaks up. “And all three of them stayed at the hospital until I woke up in that dark room. After I realized where I was, I saw three dark figures sitting in chairs. I was a bit scared because I had no idea who they were at first, but after I had a bit of time to clear my head, I realized Damon was there along with my parents. I called out to them a few times, and they woke up.”

I look at Damon. “Oh my God. How was that like for you when he woke up?”

“I seriously thought I would never hear him speak again - once when our friendship fell apart, and now this. When I heard him call my name, I can’t explain to you the feeling of happiness and relief I had.”

“So all three of them get up and stand next to me and are just so ecstatic that I came through and was OK, even though I was in a hell of a lot of pain. I got hugs and kisses from my parents, but Damon still kept his distance. My parents decided to give Damon and me some time to ourselves to talk in private, so they walked out of the room.”

“I didn’t know how Patrick would react to my being there. We hadn’t spoken in so long. He asked me to come closer to him, and he reached out his hand, which I took in mine. He looked straight at me and told me he was really glad I was there. I told him I was really glad he was alive. I told him I found him on the floor and was the one who called 9-1-1.”

“I felt so guilty that I had inundated him with so much of my drama, and now here he was being my hero and saving my life. I told him how sorry I was for everything that had happened between us, but he just-”

“-I just told him to hush and that none of that mattered anymore. The only thing that mattered was that he was alive. And then, I don’t know what came over me, but I leaned down and kissed him on the lips. Right after I realized what I had done, I stood straight up and apologized for kissing him, but I wasn’t apologizing for long, because he reached up and pulled my head back down, and we kissed again.”

Patrick wraps his arms around Damon. “And we’ve been kissing ever since!” They then kiss each other a few times and hug tightly for a few moments. James grabs my hand and squeezes it.

After Patrick and Damon break their hug, I speak up. “Thank you guys so much for sharing that with me. I have so much of a better understanding of why you love each other so much.”

Damon looks at Patrick. “I almost lost him once; I don’t want to lose him again.”

Patrick nods. “Neither did my parents. Ever since that day, they really began caring about how the others in school were treating me, and they made sure to support me in everything I did. They have gone to great lengths even with this wedding. My mother can be quite overbearing at times, but it’s only because she wants to make sure she shows me how much she really cares now. Dad, too.”

Damon continues, “So, you can obviously see why I’ve chosen to get my PhD in psychology. My friendship with Patrick made a great impact on me, and it taught me that what I really want to do is help others overcome their most difficult challenges.”

“The world needs someone like Damon. No one needs to go through what he and my parents went through that day. But, as tough as that day was, it brought all of us so much closer together, and I’m really glad it happened.”

Damon looks at Patrick. “So am I. And tomorrow I’ll be marrying the man of my dreams!”

Patrick smiles. “Oh, and who is that, babe?”

We all laugh as Damon playfully punches Patrick’s shoulder. “You, silly!”

James stands up as I finish the rest of my second drink. “Well, guys, I know we have a long and eventful day tomorrow. We should all get our beauty rest - especially you two.”

Patrick speaks up. “Yes, I was just thinking the same thing. Telling that story always takes a lot out of me.”

Damon kisses Patrick’s cheek. “But I’m so glad you’re still alive to tell it.”

Patrick kisses him on the lips, then looks at us. “Have a good night, guys; we’ll see you in the morning.”

James and I retire to our bedroom and get ready for bed. We both take off all of our clothes and crawl under the sheets.

I wrap my arm around his shoulder and place my hand on his chest. “I don’t know what I would do if I ever came home to you lying on the floor after overdosing.”

He looks up at me. “That’s not something you ever have to worry about. But if that ever did happen, there would be no one I’d want at my side more than you.”

I lean down and kiss him. “I’m really glad they’re getting married tomorrow. If anyone deserves it, it’s them.”

He nods. “You’re right. Those two found love out of the worst circumstances. Just goes to show you anything is possible.”

“You have a great group of friends. I really appreciate you for introducing them to me and for bringing me here.”

“Of course! Now, save all that sentiment for tomorrow. We need to get to sleep.”

I chuckle. “All right. I love you, James.”

He turns to me and kisses me. “I love you, too, Brad.” He turns back around and I wrap my arms around him and we fall asleep.