"Really, Maureen. Have a LITTLE tact, would you?" JoAnne smiles across at her. "We've decided to keep the baby. And stay together. With no more cheating. At all." She stares pointedly at Maureen. "Agreed," Maureen sighs and smiles. "And, we want you to be Godparents to the little..." "Crotchdropping," Maureen says and laughs hysterically.
I look at Mark. "What did I tell you?" I ask, and he snickers. "I cannot BELIEVE you just called our child a crotchdropping, Maureen," JoAnne says and looks pained. "Oh, Pookie. I'm kidding," Reenie says and giggles again.
They sit on our bed and talk with us for almost an hour. By the time they leave, I am ready for some peace and quiet. "Mark, let's go take a shower... together," I say and he smiles at me, looking weary. It's early in the morning and it's been a long day. I hope to offer him a little comfort while the water washes us clean.
I undress him. He gets embarassed by it, but he seems to enjoy it, too. Once in the shower, I wash his body slowly. He relaxes against the shower wall and smiles at me. "That feels so good, Baby," he says and then blushes. It isn't our way to use pet names for each other, but I actually enjoy it. I soap his legs and feet and he moans in pleasure. I tickle behind his knee and grin up at him as he chuckles. I wash him everywhere, taking extra time and attention to his dick. The soap makes it so slippery that it's hard to keep hold of it. I finally rinse him off and grab a towel from the rack. I dry his body gently and massage his head as I dry his hair. Then I lead him to bed.
"Play me a song," he says when I've tucked him in. "You haven't played me a song in a long time." I pick up the guitar and play Musetta's Waltz, and properly. "Beautiful," he says, "but not exactly what I meant, and you know it." I smile at him and play the opening cords to a song I wrote for him a few months ago. He's never heard the whole thing, just bits and peices I would peck out while he was editing film.
By the time I finish the song, he's fallen asleep. I laugh gently to myself and put the guitar away. I curl up next to him and try to sleep, but my mind is going a million miles an hour.
Mostly what I am thinking about is the family, and the missing members. I think about Angel and how she would have loved to see Mark and I like this. I think about how she would have laughed and said she always knew Marky liked boys, but she never would have guessed it from her "Rogie-poo". I think about Mimi, of course. She's been on my mind a lot lately, as we've been getting frequent updates on the court dates.
Mark turns over in his sleep and wraps his arms around me. He kisses my shoulder and nuzzles his face into my neck. I close my eyes.
I wake up to the smell of bacon. Bacon and coffee. And some wonderfully marvelous sweet smell. I hop out of bed and use the bathroom before heading toward the kitchen. I hear two voices talking and figure out quickly that it's Collins and Mark. When I walk in, Collins grins at me and offers me a plate. "I had a little hunch," he says, "that you could use breakfast. I heard Maureen's expecting." He laughs a deep hearty laugh. I'm glad that his bad mood has passed and I gladly sit down on the chair next to Mark, curling my legs under me.
"You know, when I was a kid, we used to call sitting like this 'Indian-style' but everyone is so PC these days we can only say 'cross legged'. I wonder why everyone went so PC all the sudden?" I look back and forth between Collins and Mark. They are grinning like idiots at each other. "Okay, what's going on?" I ask, and Mark beams at me. "Collins is in love," he says and they both laugh. I'm confused as hell. They always do this to me right when I get up so I can't follow the train of thought. Damn them.
"With WHO?" I ask and they both laugh again. I'm really getting pissed off now. "JESUS, MEN!" Collins loses it, laughing, then. "Roger, really! Calm down." Mark is snickering into his hand, and I wrap my arm around him and tickle him on the back of his neck. He giggles more and shrieks. "TELL ME!" I start to laugh and tickle him more.
"B-B-B-Ben-Benny," Mark giggles out and I stop tickling him. "What the... Collins, you HAVE to be kidding me. BENNY? As in Benjamin Coffin III? As in our used-to-be-friend-and-roomate-turned-landlord BENNY? What has POSSESSED you?" They both nearly fall off their chairs laughing then. "No, really... I mean.. damn. I'm stunned. It's just... BENNY? What happened with him and Muffy? And WHEN? And... you know what, don't tell me. I don't want to know about your love life." I shudder slightly and start to eat my food.
"He and Muffy. Well, that was a marriage of convience that wound up not so convieniant for any of the parties involved." Collins stops laughing. "As for when? Well, it all started after Angel's funeral. I was so fucking sad all the time. And Benny was always right there, ready to listen or talk or pay the bills. I decided one night to thank him for all the support he had given to all of us, and we went out drinking. He kissed me, and I just figured he was drunk and being stupid, but he called me the next week and asked if we could go out again."
"The rest," Mark says, turning to me, "Is history. Our Collins and our oh so beloved friend-and-landlord have fallen head over heels in love." My mind is spinning. Collins and Benny. This is all way too much. Collins laughs again, and I look up at him. "You should see your face, Rog. You look like your cat just died or something."
The phone rings and the machine picks up. The voice coming out of the answering machine says, "Roger, this is your..." "Mother," I finish, picking up the phone. "Hello, Roger. I was wondering if you were going to answer today, or if I was going to have to talk to that horrible machine again. I don't know why you don't ever just answer the phone. Are you having financial problems again? Do you need me to send money? How about food? Are you eating? Taking your AZT like you should? How is that lovely Collins doing? And Mark? How IS Mark these days, Roger, you never talk to me anymore and..." "MOTHER, breath," I laugh and she inhales deeply. "For goodness sakes, old woman. Let a guy get a word in edgewise, huh?"
"We screen because we always have. We are eating fine, and we have money. Collins is actually here right now. We were all eating breakfast and talking when you called. Mark is great. He's eating pancakes. I haven't taken my AZT this morning, but that's because I get sick if I take it on an empty stomache. Any other questions?" She smiles into the phone. I don't even have to see her to know she's doing it. "I'm sorry, Roger darling. I just love you. I worry. Moms are supposed to do that, you know." "I know, Mom," I say, "But mind your blood pressure. You worry too much. I've gotta run." We say our goodbyes and hang up the phone.
"Still can't tell her can you?" Collins says, frowning slightly at me. "Yeah, no. Not yet. I don't think she would disapprove of us," I wrap my arms around Mark, "But I'm not sure how she would take the full 'Hey Mom, guess what... I like boys.' proclimation." Mark looks at me with a sad smile. "Next time she calls, I'm telling her," he says and moves to pick up his plate. He carries it to the sink and rinses it off before walking to the bedroom. Collins stands up and takes his plate to be rinsed too before giving me a big clap on the shoulder and heading off. I sigh and walk to the bedroom.
Mark is laying on the bed. His jaw is clenched and his eyes seem glassy. I go to the bed and slide next to him. "Marky, what's going on?" "Roger, you have to tell her," he says, and I nod. "No, not like 'okay, I'll tell her someday', Roger. You have to tell her soon. I'm not just somone you are playing a game with. You keep saying you love me, but you won't even tell your mother. Practically the second you were with Mimi, your mom knew. Are you ashamed of us?" He starts to cry, silently. I get up.
"Where are you going?" he asks and I don't say a word to him. I just walk into the living room and to the phone. I dial my mother's house and when she picks up I say, "Mom. It's me. I just wanted you to know something." "Are you sick?" I stop for a minute and raise an eyebrow. "You mean OTHER than the HIV? No. No, Mom. I should tell you... Hell I should have told you a while ago... Mark and I, Mom. We're together." She sighs into the phone, "Oh, is THAT all? I thought it was something SERIOUS!" and I laugh. "Okay, that's all I needed to say." We hang up again and when I get back to the room, Mark is sitting up in the bed, a horrified look on his face. "What did she SAY?" he asks and I sit down, pretending to be dejected.
"Well, she disowned me. Told me she would never call again. She called me a flaming queer and told me I would be lucky to ever work in this town again and..." I start laughing and he hits my shoulder. "You JERK! I thought you were SERIOUS at first!" I prop myself up agianst the pillows and pull him to me. "No, actually, she said 'is that all' and 'I thought it was something serious'". He smiles and puts his head on my shoulder. "I didn't really expect you to tell her," he says and I kiss his forhead. "I can't bear to see you sad, honey," I say and he looks up at me. I kiss him gently.