Disclaim her: Hmm, if I owned this I wouldn't be here, i would be locked away with Mark and Roger…… Don't own it, its all Mr. Larsons'!
I have a confession to make…..
It was killing him to hold it in.
It had been killing him for a while now, but this. The idea that it might have been his fault.
He couldn't sleep. He lost what weight he had finally managed to put on.
"Mark, you lost that weight." His head hung, he couldn't even look at the Dr.
"What happened? You were doing so well?"
"It's been a bad month." Mark shrugs.
"How so, how can it be so bad you lose 20 lbs in three weeks since I saw you last?"
"My roommate, she killed herself. She found out she was positive, slit her wrist in the bathroom. Left a note for her boyfriend, my other roommate." His voice is monotone, and soft. Very unlike his normal self.
"Mark, I can see how that is hard on you, but you have to keep at a healthy weight."
"She killed herself for this, and Roger doesn't know what is going on. He locks himself in the bedroom and gets high all day. Collins has to leave at the end of the summer to go to MIT to teach. I have to find the money for rent, food, and both our meds." His head finally shifts up. "So I am sorry if food falls a little low on the list of things I can't afford. Can I just get my meds?" He asks. He can't deal with this right now, its just to much.
"Get help Mark, go to the meetings."
"Right, whatever, I have to get to work."
Mark spent the next 8 hours at the coffee shop he was working at. It wasn't much, but for now it was paying bills. Collins was working with Roger, the first stages of withdrawal. He wasn't working till he left for university. Just reading and planning his classes.
So he was there to care for Roger, while Mark worked to prepare for what was to come.
Mark had been to confession once with Roger. When they were in college together. He went home to visit Roger's family for Christmas and for the sake of all their sanities he pretended to be Catholic for Roger's grandparents. That meant a confession before mass with the family.
It was an interesting experience. But he did feel better for letting things out.
And so he found himself standing before the sanctuary of a popular tourist cathedral in Manhattan. He figured it was far enough away and to full for the priest to actually remember him later. And he figured it would help to talk about it.
Forgive me father for I have sinned…. I have a confession to make.
"Hey Mark, how was work?" Collins calls as Mark trudged into the room.
"Great, you know. Work, got paid, got some food." He proceeds to put the meager groceries away in the kitchen. Mostly cereal and some soup, and coffee.
"Nice. He's sleeping. Should be out the rest of the night. I am going to head out, I need a long walk, and a cold drink." Collins gave Mark a hug and took his leave.
Mark slept on the couch, awoken hours later by Roger crying in his room.
It was a long cycle after that. Of work and Roger crying at night. The worst Mark had during those three months was Roger clinging to him as they slept. Roger needed the reassurance that someone was there, not leaving, constant. Mark had to wonder how he was constant, and that lead to darker thoughts than Mark could deal with.
Mark took all the extra hours he could, he knew once Collins left there would be no more working until Roger was truly clean and independent. And they would need the money for medications.
And so it went, Mark managed to save and scrimp enough to make it through with a little help now and again from Collins, they made it to Christmas. And still it was eating at Mark. And still no one knew.
And then they met Angel and Mimi and Joanne. And every one was happy, and he retreated back into his camera, into the film. Couldn't say it now. Not now, it would ruin it all. Couldn't steal that happiness after they had finally found it.
And Roger's words would haunt him in their inadvertent truth.
Facing the fact you live a lie
Mark was one big lie. One very large lie.
And part of Mark intend it to take that lie to grave with him, however soon it came.
Mark was a lie, and Mark knew this wasn't the kind of lie you recover from.
This was a lie that would change everything.
But Mark kept it. And Roger came home, and Mimi came back to life. And they were happy again.
And Mark kept loosing weight.
He worked, and he slept, and he worked and he slept.
And his friends joked about his work. And he would smile.
He smiled and he sank farther away.
And they would laugh that his hips stuck out so far from his skin, and he would eat the cookie with dinner they got him, and he would laugh.
He watched Collins get weaker, and then better. He watched Mimi go through Rehab. He watched Roger propose so they could spend what time they had left together. He saw Maureen and Joanne mouthing the vows at the wedding.
And then what he saw was the white of the hospital.
Wait, hospital. How the fuck did he end up the one in bed in the hospital.
"I told you to get your weight up, to stay healthy Mr. Cohen." His doctor again, standing over him. Oh, right. He hadn't been eating enough.
"It's been a tuff year."
"That's what you always say. You have people outside waiting on you. They seem rather agitated." He glanced at Mark. "You didn't tell them?"
"Not like you think."
"They claim to be your family."
"In the only way that matters."
"Then they will understand."
"Oh they understand the disease, three of them have it. What they won't understand is that it is my fault one of them has it."
"Don't have one, she left me for another girl."
"He doesn't know I have it, and he didn't get it from me like that, it was, complicated."
"Do you want me to let them in?"
"What were they told?"
"The nurse told them it was complications with your condition. She assumed they would know."
"Send them in."
"Marky? Pookie what's wrong?" Trust Maureen to be the first in the room.
Mark hangs his head, he doesn't want to explain.
"I haven't been eating and resting enough." He didn't want to say this here.
"They said it was complications with your condition. What condition Mark?"
"Being me apparently." He muttered, but Collins caught it and couldn't quite stifle a laugh.
"Seriously man, what's wrong?" Collins looked down, and then he did the one thing Mark was dreading, he picked up the chart at the foot of his bed. And Mark knew just when it sunk in, just when Collins made it down the chart to that line, cause his face paled a little, and anger welled up in his eyes. But his voice was still quiet.
"Leave." Not what Mark expected.
"What's it say?" Roger asked.
"Go, I need to talk to Mark, look Rog, its something I need to talk to him about, just go, I will let you back in soon. It says he will be fine by tomorrow." Collins almost had to shove the group out of the room.
"How long?" Collins asked as soon as he heard the door shut.
"3 years." Mark meet his eyes, daring him to ask how. Mark needed this, to rage at someone.
"So that was, God Mark why didn't you say anything, how the fuck did this happen?"
"That mugging, right after April moved in. It wasn't a mugging, they raped me Col, raped me and you and everyone else were to fucking high to notice me limp back into the loft." Mark was angry, but his voice was level. He could vividly remember coming home that night to the party in the loft. His limping form, covered in ripped clothes and bandages from the ER.
"You knew for 3 fucking years and you said nothing?"
"You never asked what was wrong." Mark was trying to hold on to being angry.
"We all ask about you all the time man."
"Yeah, you ask if I eat enough, if I sleep enough. Never anything past that and my films. Roger even joked about the bruises on my face the next day, asking if I ran into something with the camera." Mark was bitter, but there was more.
"So then all those years for medication."
"I had to get mine too."
"Mark, I mean, how did you, why?" Collins was at a loss for words, and it was scarry in a way that he had no words for Mark. He was wasn't sure if that should make him more or less worried about Roger's reaction.
"I wanted to say something, but no one wanted to talk about that mugging, and I didn't want to bring up being raped. How do you bring that up to talk about Collins, just blurt it out? It's not that easy. And then by the time I had dealt with it. April was there, and then Maureen, and fuck then the suicide." Mark was shaky now, his voice giving out.
"Mark, what about that?" Fuck how did Collins always know that one worst thing to ask?
"It was my fault." Hollow, that was the only want to describe his voice.
"My fault they got it. How do you tell your best friend he has aids cause his girlfriend got high and thought it would be funny if I did to?"
"She did what?"
"She thought me high would be funny, loosen me up. So she shot me up while I was asleep, I woke to the needle in my arm, and before I could stop her she was on to Roger, smirking about the fun we could all have."
"Aw fuck man you don't know that." Collins tried, but he was still in shock.
"Yeah, I do." Mark just knew. And part of Collins agreed, they had always wondered. Roger wasn't one to sleep around. Yeah, pick up girls, flirt. But above all Roger had wanted to be safe. He had already lost a band mate to OD and AIDS.
"So what are you going to do?"
"Chart really say I can go home tomorrow?" Mark asked. He already knew the answer, knew it when he saw the lesions last week on his arms. Knew when the cough had stuck around for three. He knew.
"Naw man I made that up. All it had was your condition."
"Send in Roger. I have to let this go."
"I don't have the time not to be." Mark replied, and this time his eyes wouldn't meet Collins.
"What do you mean?" Collins voice was low and worried and angry.
"It doesn't say I am going home, because I won't be."
"How do you know that man, you look fine."
"T cells were low the last few visits, it would have been better if I had the money for the meds, but I gave them all to Mimi and Roger. They deserve the time."
"Fuck, Mark." Collins all but yelled. "You can't make that kind of decision. You can't just give up like that."
"He deserves the time to be happy after what I did to him."
Mark simply shrugged.
"Send him in, just him." Mark said. Collins left the room. Roger entered, worried and curious.
"Roger, I have a confession to make."
Forgive me father…..