Scotty stared at the wall. He had been sitting there for what seemed like hours; the restaurant was closed on Mondays and he had nothing to do. He thought back to previous Mondays, only a week or two ago, that he had spent with Kevin. Kevin was gone now, sleeping on Kitty's sofa at night and hiding out in his office during the day. He was so caught up in his thoughts that he nearly jumped out of his chair when he heard the knock on the door. Puzzled, he made his way to the door. Opening the door revealed Justin, standing there balancing a pizza box in one hand and carrying a large bag in the other.
"Hey Scotty!" He said breezily, pushing his way past him and into the apartment.
"Justin, what are you doing here?"
"Nothing. In fact, I'm not actually here."
"Yes you are, but you really shouldn't be. Didn't Kevin tell you…"
"That I'm not supposed to see you? Yes, but I haven't listened to Kevin my whole life; I'm not about to start now. But remember, I'm not here. If anyone asks, you spent the night alone wallowing, and I was at an NA meeting. Got it?"
"Yeah, but really Justin, you shouldn't be here."
"Give me your hand." He reached for Scotty's left hand and examined it carefully. "Would you look at that! You're still wearing your ring. You know what that means."
"That I'm desperately trying to hold on to what's left of my marriage?"
"It means that you're still a Walker. Remember what I told you before you got married? As soon as that ring goes on your finger, you're in for life."
"Like the mob. I remember."
"Good." He walked over to the table and put down his things. "I brought all the essential ingredients for a pity party." He pulled out a bottle of wine. "This is for you. As a Walker you have to embrace alcohol as an important part of the grieving process." Scotty smiled. "This is for me." He brought out a two liter of soda. "The great joy of not drinking is that I can have as much high-fructose corn syrup as I want and not feel guilty about it." He reached back into the bag. "Now the most important thing." He pulled out a plastic container and took off the lid, revealing a wiggling green mass.
"It isn't. Oh God, please tell me that isn't what I think it is."
"Lime Jell-O with bananas and walnuts. A food group in its own right!"
"And the most disturbing thing about a Walker Thanksgiving. And that's including Kevin's dinosaur impression."
"Don't knock it till you've tried it bro. I've let it slide all these years; I mean, more for me. But now the time has come for you to partake of the goodness. It's the ultimate self-pity food; it's gotten me through every difficult time in my life, and it will do the same for you. I've even learned how to make it myself."
"That's impressive. Kevin always said that your culinary talents were limited to sandwich making and the ability to boil water." He said the words without thinking, and suddenly he was holding back tears. He was so used to referencing his husband, to mentioning his name casually in conversation. But now it was only a painful reminder that he was alone. There was a pause, and they both looked at each other. "How is he?" Scotty asked quietly.
"He misses you. He won't admit it – you know how stubborn he is – but he really does. When he's at Kitty's he just sits on her couch and stares into space. I went over there the other day and tried to talk to him, and he talked, but he wasn't really there." He paused. "How are you?"
"Ok fine. I'm awful. I've never been so disappointed in myself; I've never hated myself so much. I didn't think this level of self-loathing was even possible. I ruined my marriage, Justin. One of the most meaningful things in my life, and there's a good chance it's gone forever."
"Don't say that…"
"I am going to say it! There's a possibility that we're not going to get past this. I screwed up, big time."
"Yeah, you did. Don't get me wrong, I'm pissed at you for hurting my brother, but I know it's more complicated than that. Kevin turns into a raging bitch when he's hurt or scared, and he's not easy to live with. After the accident, and after what happened with Michelle, he was definitely hurt, he was definitely scared, and he was definitely a raging bitch. I was amazed how you put up with it."
"We were…we are married. Putting up with your partner being a raging bitch is what this ring means. Whatever happens, you make it work." As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Scotty realized their implications. "Oh god, I'm sorry Justin, I didn't mean it that way."
"It's ok, what happened with Rebecca and me…it's…some couples can get through the bad shit, and some can't. And I know that you and Kevin can. But what I was trying to say is that yeah, you messed up, but you weren't the only one. Kevin knows that. He doesn't want you and him to be over; he just needs time."
"You really think that?"
"I know that. You're the best thing that's happened to my brother since the day he gave up break dancing."
"It's a chapter of Walker family history best forgotten."
"My point is that he loves you, and you love him. He just needs some time to process what happened. You were his hero Scotty. And now…"
"And now I'm not."
"No, he's just finally realizing that you're not perfect." He paused, and the two men looked at each other. After a long moment, Justin broke the silence. "Ok dude, if we discuss our feelings any more my brain will explode. Open your wine; let's eat before the pizza gets cold." Scotty smiled.
"I'll just get some plates. And a corkscrew."
"It's a screw cap; I wanted to simplify the alcohol delivery process."
"Wow. You really do care!" Scotty responded sarcastically.
"Hey! Don't forget spoons for the Jell-O!"
"You're not seriously expecting me to eat that, right?" Scotty returned from the kitchen with plates and glasses. Justin hadn't bothered to wait and was already stuffing a piece of pizza into his mouth. He was simultaneously rummaging through the bag he had brought.
"I almost forgot the other essential." He triumphantly pulled out a DVD case.
"You rented 'Glitter?'"
"How much do you love me right now?"
"We already have it."
"Yeah, but yours is scratched and always skips, right?"
"How do you know?"
"Because your other half was bitching and moaning about how he missed watching 'Glitter' with you and how you always got pissy when it skipped, even though you knew it would happen anyway, and how you were too cheap to buy a new copy, and how if only he had bought you a new one this never would have happened, and it's all his fault, blah, blah, blah."
"Kevin wouldn't say that. He hates 'Glitter;' he says so every time I want to watch it."
"It reminds him of you. He loves you. Therefore, he actually really likes it. But enough of the symbolism and hidden meanings. Just take a minute and think about what I had to go through to get this for you. A straight guy with an untarnished record of a lifetime of heterosexuality goes to the video store and rents 'Glitter.' Do you know how people looked at me?"
"The same way people looked at me every time I rented it, which before I got my own copy was a lot. Congrats Justin, you now know how the average gay guy feels every day."
"Ok, good point. Now let's watch this. I'm actually kind of curious about it now."
"Oh Justin, your life is never going to be the same."
Scotty put the disc into the DVD player and the two sat down. They watched and ate in companionable silence. After an hour or so, Justin rose from the couch and returned a few moments later carrying the plastic container. He thrust a spoon into Scotty's hand with a stern command of "eat." Deciding that it was in his best interest not to piss off his brother in law, Scotty took a bite. Then another. Then another. He watched the movie, hardly noticing the passage of the spoon from the dish to his mouth. When the movie finished he stared in bewilderment at the empty container on his lap and the spoon in his hand. "Where did it go?"
"Dude, you ate it. Didn't I tell you you'd love it?"
"How?…I…wow. You were right; it is kind of amazing. I don't think I've had Jell-O since I was a kid. I forgot how totally delicious it is, it a really horrible artificially flavored way."
"Don't forget the Blue #16 and the Yellow#9. Those artificial coloring are what add the subtle nuances. I think it should go on the menu at the restaurant."
"You are so full of shit Justin." Scotty grabbed one of the couch pillows and threw it at Justin with as much force as he could muster. Justin caught it with one hand and laughed.
"But come on, don't you feel better now?"
"Yeah." Scotty acknowledged seriously.
" You just needed some cheering up. Everything is going to work out with you and Kevin."
"I hope so."
"Trust me Scotty." They smiled at each other. "Alright, I should get going."
"Don't forget 'Glitter.'"
"And make sure you hide it well."
"What do you mean?"
"I know you Justin. You loved it. In fact, you loved it so much that you're going to call the video store tomorrow with some elaborate tale of an ex-girlfriend who took a hammer to your DVD collection. Then you're going to hide it in the case of one of those stupid action movies you like. I'm just saying, hide it well. You don't want to have to explain it to one of your siblings, do you?"
"Damn your powers of deduction!" He smiled sheepishly and made for the door.
"Good night Justin. And thanks."