Mark lay on his bed that night, thinking about everything that had happened. "How could you be ashamed of something like this?" He wasn't ashamed. Not of his friends!"If you weren't ashamed you would have been able to tell me about this without being scared that I would stop liking them." Emily was right. He should have been able to tell her. But how could he tell this to the others? How could he be ashamed? How could he make this up to them?
"Hey."Mark looked up to see Roger in the door. Thankfully, he was alone. Mark didn't think he could bare facing Roger and Mimi at the moment.
"Hey..."he muttered back, unable to make eye contact with his friend. Roger walked closer.
"So, uh...did Emily have a good time?"he asked casually.
"Yeah, I guess,"Mark replied simply.
"Oh. That's good,"Roger said, nodding. "Did you have a good time?"Mark sighed, sitting up.
"I don't know if I want to talk about it,"he said. Roger shrugged.
"Okay. We don't have to talk,"he assured him. "I was just wondering."
"Well, let's just say we won't be seeing much more of Emily until-"Mark stopped. Roger was staring at him.
"Until...?"he repeated questioningly.
"Nothing. Never mind,"Mark insisted, laying back down on his bed.
"Okay,"Roger said, taking off his coat and going over to his own bed. "But if you ever want to talk about it..."
"Yeah. You'll be here,"Mark finished.
"Right."Roger picked up his guitar. "Is it okay if I play a little?"
"Yeah, sure,"Mark sighed. And Roger began playing a soft, slow tune. Mark closed his eyes as he listened. He needed some way to make it up to them...some way to make things right with Emily...
That night, Mark had a dream.
He was wandering through New York City...only it was empty. He saw Roger and Mimi, and he tried to say hello, but they walked by. Then he saw Collins and Angel...they also walked by. Then Joanne and Maureen. None of them seemed to notice Mark standing right there. Mark kept walking, looking for someone that would talk to him, someone that would notice him...
That's when Emily appeared, smiling. She took Mark's hand, and lead him into the Life Café, which was crowded with people. All Mark's friends were seated there, and now that he was with Emily, they all noticed him. They greeted him, waving and smiling.
Suddenly the horrible sound of beepers flooded the Café. Everyone got up and began running away. Everyone but Mark's friends. Mark found himself caught in the crowd, being shoved towards the door. He didn't want to go. He was being forced. He tried to reach back to Emily, but she was glaring at him and shaking her head. Mark watched as his friends slowly began disappearing, one by one, as Emily stood there, shaking her head.
Mark was thrown out onto the street, alone again. No one was there. Not even his friends. Not Emily. That's when Mark noticed his camera in his hands. He help it up to his eye...
Inside, he saw images of his friends, all laughing and smiling and looking happy. The only place he could see his friends was inside his camera. They were trapped inside, and Mark was outside, alone, with nothing but his camera...
Mark sat up abruptly. The loft was still dark. It was the middle of the night. He looked at his watch, still on his wrist. 3:00 in the morning. He sighed, putting his head in his hands again, and thinking about his dream. Or nightmare.
He didn't want to be alone with his camera. He didn't want his friends to be trapped inside his camera. He wanted to be with them, he wanted to be a part of them, he wanted the truth to leave the lense of his camera. And that night, Mark knew what he had to do.
Roger awoke the next morning to find his roommate working insanely cutting bits of film together. He yawned, stretching his arms and walking over to Mark, who had all his film spread out across the loft.
"What're you doing, man?"he asked.
"Yeah, I can see that. What time did you get up?"Roger asked.
"Oh, I've been up since 3:00,"Mark said. Roger frowned.
"Are you crazy!"he asked.
"I had a moment of inspiration, I had to act on it,"Mark insisted.
"Well don't forget to act on your exhaustion too. You need sleep,"Roger pointed out.
"Not now, I can't stop. This has to be perfect..."Mark muttered, examining a strip of film. Roger sighed, shaking his head.
"You're nuts, you know that?"he said, walking to the fridge. Mark grinned.
"You'll forgive me when you see the final cut,"he assured him. Roger laughed, but when he was out of earshot, Mark let out a deep breath. "I sure hope you'll forgive me..."
TWO WEEKS LATER
"Hi, you've reached Emily Weston, I'm not here right now but please leave a message and I'll get back to you as soon as I can."
"Hi, Emily, it's Mark. Mark Cohen. I mean, you probably know who I am and all, but just in case you met another Mark recently, I wanted it to be clear which Mark was calling. No that I'm implying that you're meeting other men or anything...I mean, it's fine if you do. Not that that's up to me anyways...okay, right, um, I'd really appreciate it if you could come into the city tonight. Times Square, seven o'clock. There's uh...something you should see. All right, I'll talk to you later...I hope."
"Hey Benny, thank for helping me out with this."Benjamin Coffin II grinned at Mark, as they stood in Times Square at 6:50 that evening.
"Well, my boss is gonna pummel me when he finds out I used Cyberland's equipment to help you with this...but it's for a good cause,"he explained. Then he paused. "...isn't it?"Mark grinned too.
"I hope so,"he said. Suddenly Maureen, Joanne, Angel, Collins, Roger and Mimi all came walking around the corner.
"Well, I'd better get going,"Benny said suddenly. "I'll catch you later, Mark."
"Sure. Thanks again, Benny!"Mark called, waving as Benny walked off. Benny waved back, as he walked over to his Range Rover, got in, and drove away.
"Marky!"Maureen squealed, running over and hugging Mark. "We've hardly seen you at all lately! How have you been?"
"You were pretty upset about Emily, huh?"Angel asked sympathetically.
"Look man, I just want you to know that we're all still here for you,"Collins assured Mark, patting his shoulder. Mark grinned.
"Thanks guys,"he said.
"So, why did you want to meet here, in Times Square? I mean, we never come out here,"Joanne pointed out. Mark looked at his watch. 6:56.
"Well, I have something planned for tonight, actually,"he said.
"Ooh, a Mark-planned night!"Angel giggled.
"Gee, can't wait to see where this goes,"Roger teased. "Will be sitting on the sidewalk while Mark dances around us with a camera? Or will we be walking down the sidewalk while Mark dances around us with a camera?"
"Roger!"Mimi scolded, hitting Roger's arm. Mark just laughed.
"Not exactly,"he replied. He looked at his watch again, then looked around. 6:58, and no sign of Emily. She was probably still mad at him. She probably wouldn't even come...
At 6:59, the big screen that had been projecting images from the news suddenly went blank. The news that had been on was shut off, as static filled the huge display screen. The group all looked around nervously.
"Whoa...what's going on?"Mimi asked. People all around Times Square were stopped, muttering questioningly. Everyone except Mark.
Suddenly an image came on the screen. It was an old, homeless man, grinning and waving. Then there was a little boy, waving as his mother pulled him across the street. Then there was a clip of Angel and Collins skipping down the sidewalk. Then there was an angry-looking homeless women, slumped against a wall. Then Roger, playing his guitar. Then Joanne and Maureen. Then a clip of an old, homeless couple huddled over a fire. Then there was a clip of Benny, grinning.
Words flashed across the screen: Can you tell how many of those people are infected with the AIDS virus?
All the clips were shown again, faster this time, flipping by quickly. Then came more words: Anyone can have AIDS. AIDS does not change how good of a friend you are. AIDS does not change how kind of a person you are. AIDS is not something to be ashamed of. If you're afraid to support someone with AIDS, then get with reality. ACTUAL REALITY. ACT UP. FIGHT AIDS.
More clips of Mark's friends and various homeless people appeared, as those last words flashed on the screen. The screen began to fade to black, as more words appeared: This documentary created by Mark Cohen, to enlighten New York of the current AIDS epidemic...and to apologize to his friends for being an ass.
And the screen went black. For a good ten seconds, Times Square was completely silent. Then, Collins began to clap. Angel joined in quickly, followed by Maureen and Joanne. Mimi and Roger also joined in, as well as a nearby cab driver. A few shop owners who had left their stores to watch the documentary on the big screen, also began clapping. Then some people on the sidewalk. Pretty soon, all of Times Square was applauding Mark Cohen's documentary.
And the ones clapping the hardest were Mark's friends. He turned to them all.
"Look guys...I need to apologize. I always thought I was 100 okay with the fact that you're sick...but Emily showed me that I wasn't. I was ashamed to tell her the truth. And that's not right. I shouldn't be ashamed of that, I shouldn't be ashamed of you. You're my family, you're the most important people in my life, and I could never do anything to hurt you. So...I had to make things right. I hope this meant something to you, and...I hope Collins isn't mad that I used his theory without asking,"Mark explained. They were all smiling at Mark, in a way they had never smiled at him before.
"Aw...come here, man!"Collins grabbed Mark, pulling him into a huge hug. Angel quickly joined, squeezing Mark in between them.
"Mark, you're the best documenter ever!"she cried. The second they let go of Mark, Mimi came running over, throwing her arms around him.
"Mark, you're amazing, you know that!"she asked. Mark laughed.
"Thanks Mimi,"he said. Then Roger came over, hugging his friend.
"You deserve a lot more credit than you get, man,"he joked. "That was incredible."
"Hey, you're the guy who made that movie?"the cab driver called over suddenly.
"Uh...yeah! Yeah, that's me,"Mark answered.
"Hey...thanks pal. Some of us really needed that,"he said. And he waved as he drove off. Mark grinned, as Maureen wrapped her arms around his neck.
"Marky, when you're famous...you're taking me with you!"she insisted.
"Well don't strangle the boy or he'll be dead before he can ever be famous!"Joanne snapped, pulling Maureen off of him. Mark laughed, relieved that all his friends were able to forgive him. But there was one thing still missing...
Suddenly Mark felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around...
"Hey Mark."Emily smiled at him, with her big, kind smile. Mark grinned back widely.
"You came,"he said, trying to sound calm, though he was bubbling over with excitement.
"Of course I came!"Emily replied. There was a pause.
"Um...so, what'd you think?"Mark asked, rather nervously.
"That was...amazing Mark. It must have taken a lot of courage for you to be able to do that, and you really did it,"Emily said. "Look, I felt terrible about that night. I got way out of line, I mean, it wasn't my place to be telling you what to do anyways..."
"Emily...you were right. You made me realize something that needed to be fixed. So thank you,"Mark replied. Emily grinned, hugging Mark.
"You're amazing, Mark,"she said.
"So...does this mean we're still on for coffee this week?"Mark asked hopefully. Emily nodded.
"I think we are,"she agreed, nodding.
"Great!"Mark said happily.
"Hey Mark!"Mark turned back to the group.
"How did you manage all of that anyways?"Collins asked.
"Yeah, I mean, you must have had help with all that technical stuff,"Maureen added. Mark grinned, as he spotted the Range Rover, still parked down the street.
"Oh, I just had some help from an old friend,"he replied.
"Well whoever your friend is, give them my number, because I could use a production manager like that!"Maureen announced.
"Hey!"Joanne cried. And the group all laughed, together...as a family once again.
"Hey!"Mark greeted happily as he walked into the coffee shop.
"Hello there,"Emily replied, closing her notebook. It was about a month later. Mark and Emily had continued to meet every week, as usual. And they had remained friends.
"So, how's your week so far?"Mark asked, sitting down.
"I have some good news. Well, actually, lots of good news,"Emily replied.
"Really? Tell me,"Mark urged.
"Well, my mother called last night. She and my father want to talk to me,"Emily explained. Mark frowned.
"And this is good news...how?"he asked.
"She said they wanted to apologize, and talk to me about moving in with them!"Emily finished.
"No way! Emily, that's great!"Mark said happily.
"So, since I finally had some good news and a burst of excitement...I was also able to finish your poem last night,"Emily continued.
"Really? So I get to read it?"Mark asked hopefully.
"Sure. Go pick up a copy of the New York Times,"Emily replied, grinning. Mark's jaw dropped.
"You got it published!"he cried.
"Oh, more than just that. I got hired! I didn't want to tell you until things were definite, but I've been working on an internship at the New York Times...and I got the job!"Emily cried.
"Emily, that's...that's amazing!"Mark exclaimed.
"Oh, and also..."Emily suddenly pulled out a little, dark picture.
"Whoa...what's this?"Mark asked, squinting at it.
"My son,"Emily replied.
"Oh!"Mark said, shocked. Emily laughed.
"It's an ultra-sound. That's my son, who will be born in almost exactly two months," Emily explained.
"Wow! That's amazing...look at how small that thing is!"Mark said, examining the picture. "Do you have any name ideas yet?"
"Oh, I have a few,"Emily assured him. "I particularly like Jonathan. It sounds like a good, strong name."
"Hmm...Jonathan sounds like a composer's name,"Mark commented.
"My son, a composer...well, all I know is he better compose something good! Not another silly Broadway show,"Emily joked. The two laughed.
"Wow...so you're finally getting what you wanted out of life, huh?"Mark asked.
"Well, I just made the best out of a bad situation. Someone once told me that helped," Emily said, smiling. Mark smiled back.
"That person must have known what he was talking about,"he replied.
"Yeah. I think he did."
Later that day, Mark was able to pick up a copy of the New York Times. On the fourth page, was a poem: Hero of La Vie Boheme, by Emily Weston, in dedication to a close friend.
And there you are, the end of the story! Sorry, no baby. You can imagine what it would be like with Mark taking care of a baby!(if you're really wondering, check out my other story 'Bohemian Day Care'! Haha, just kidding)Anyways, I'm sure lots of you caught on to the name choice at the end there. I love sticking in clues like that. Well, thank you for reading my story. I'm glad so many of you enjoyed it! Thanks again!