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by E.P. Lee
May 18, 2021
AND the DOG BARKS... CHAPTERS # 49 - 54
“AND THE DOG BARKS..."
CHAPTERS #49 - 54
I had given Mitch that same, old, feature-phone that I had let Brad use when we had formed theLLCtogether.
When our business deal fell apart I never asked for the phone back as Mitch had paid the bill on time every month, and I still had a month or two to go on the contract. And truthfully, it was one of the“hooks” I relied on for continued contact between us just in case.
It wasn’t a“hook”I had ever used before. In point of fact I never needed to use a“hook”. In point of fact, I never, EVER, used a “hook”to continue contact between us,as Mitch never missed a payment on anything, he was never even close to late, not once, not on the big white van, and not on the phone, not on nothing.So even if I had wanted to use either item as a“hook”, I had nothing to say. So I never did.
Mitch was always responsible with me financially, and Mitch always came back to me physically and emotionally.
It had become“routine”,our“routine”.
I got back to Miami at about four p.m. that day, and into the house at about six. The house was silent when I got there. Only the gentle whoosh of the air handler was heard, then the hum of the refrigerator as it cycled on. Gal wasn’t bringing Ziggy back from the Keys until the weekend a day away, and the quiet, I hate that“quiet”, was omnipresent!
I immediately ran into the bedroom and put the CD player on. And the house stayed quiet for a few seconds, with just the sounds of the mechanicals continuing, and then the music piped up, and me, I started puttering about, opening bags, putting things away, things into drawers, things into the closet.
And then, at about the 20thminute I was in the house, my cell phone rang. I answered immediately without looking at the screen and it was a still indignant, but no longer as loud, Mitch ranting out of the earpiece:
“How could you do that to me?”
I listened briefly, and then I interrupted forcefully, speaking just as loudly as he was:
I didn’t DO anything.”
And Mitch started to rehash the indignity of it all, the EMBARRASSMENT, and as the details were repeated, and repeated, and as his voice started to rise in volume, I interrupted again, calmly, but forcefully, and said:
More normally now:
“I didn’tDOanything to you.
It’s really stupid, and it should never have occurred, and I’m sorry…
I’ve told you that over, and over, again already.
Why don’t you meet me for lunch tomorrow so you can yell at me in person?”
And Mitch said:
it was all “routine.
If it hadn’t been for those missing morning newspapers.
If I hadn’t let Brad use that old cell phone some three, or four, years before.
If I hadn’t taken naked pictures of Mitch (HOT), on that cell phone back in our early beginnings.
If I hadn’t sent those naked pictures to my email account before I deleted them from the phone.
If I hadn’t given the same cell phone to Mitch when we formed the business.
If I hadn’t left the cell phone with Mitch now.
If Brad hadn’t been a jealous bitch.
Brad’s phone call to Mitch had made Mitch jealous, and a jealous Mitch wanted me back. That’s not how I ever thought this would go down. That’s not how I thought this would ever play out.
Mitch wasn’t gay, we weren’t boyfriends, we certainly weren’t lovers.
Or were we?
It was all “routine”.
Mitch and I never separated like that again, at least until just before he died that is.
We had interruptions of a week, or two, sometimes. And frequent those interruptions could be. But there was never any question from that point on that we had something going on between us, and that“something”was continuing.
Mitch was“straight”and when Mitch remembered he was "straight","straight" ruled. And then Mitch would run away for a bit, like for that week, or two, and just before he had that fatal accident, and died, for three weeks or so.
But Mitch never cut me off like that again. And Mitch never cut me out of his life like that again. It was all routine, our“routine”.
Close, closer, closest, gone…
Intimate, more intimate, damn this hurts“intimate”, and GONE!
It was routine, our“routine”,routine.
And the sex was: hot, hotter, hottest,SCORCHING, and stopped, no more!
That was our“routine”.
And if the“interruption”dragged on I would travel to NYC, exactly as before fromFort Lauderdale, flight viaJet Blue,NYCairport transfer via black car, stay at the same hotel, cocktails at the same roof bar, the same calls to the same friends, drinks and dinners out, the Club for music, shopping, theater, museums, and then home. But no further visits were had with Brad.
I had a“routine”.
And it mostly worked for me.
“Worked for me!”
And through it all I never stopped loving Mitch. My need for him was constant, and at times I was obsessed.
Through 4 ¾ years we soldieredon, andon, andon, until that time, some five months before Mitch died, when we got too close. Everything was working so well between us then, the sex, the work, the number of times we saw each other each week, the early morning visits, the late afternoon stop-by visits. It was a really great time between us, perfect,almost idyllic.
But all relationships morph and change.
And this relationship was no exception, we were moving to a point where something had to give, and that something was Alcee.
And I was getting angry at the games, at the ever-present gay denial in Mitch’s life, at Mitch’s casual denigration of my life, whoIwas, and that I was never“good enough”. And then there was the perpetual subterfuge that was always at play when we were together with Alcee in public, or around his friends.
Mitch was having CONSTANT trouble with Alcee then, lots and lots of trouble. Mitch was hoping Alcee would bite the bullet, make it easy on him, and leave; and soon he wanted that departure to be, soon! Mitch wanted Alcee to leave to go to law school, or leave to go back to live with her Mother. But“leave”, Mitch wanted Alcee to“leave”, just“leave”.
But Mitch wouldn’t demand that she go.
Mitch couldn’t bring himself to make that demand. Mitch would complain to me in person every time we were together, and Mitch would complain to his father, to his mother, to his brother, to his close guy friends on the phone at the same rate too. Constant were those verbalized complaints. I would overhear those calls, those complaints, daily, and multiple times at that.
But Mitch couldn’t tell Alcee to leave.
And they never did separate before he died.
Alcee and Mitch fought constantly.
Not a peaceful moment did they spend together any longer. They fought all of the time and viciously. The fights were brutal, hard edged, nasty, raucous, no verbal holds barred, affairs. The fights were LOUD, with shouting and hysterics on both their parts. And the fights were kind of drug induced as they were always stoned, really, really stoned, one step short of“obliterated”stoned, or“passed out" stoned, a state attained an hour after getting home from work.
Then Mitch started staying with me a little longer at night, until 7:30 p.m. at first, and then until 8 p.m., and sometimes we would go to dinner. In the four previous years we’d carried on we had never gone to dinner once, only now we would, and we would talk:
“Sure you can stay with me if you move out of the apartment and Alcee stays there…
Our way of broaching living together I suppose.
And living together scared the shit out of me. There was a life chasm between us, a gigantic“life chasm”. A“chasm”created by the vast difference in our ages, our educations, our cultural memories (me1960’s soul, theBeatles,disco, andPop, and Mitch90’s House,Techno,R & B, Hip Hop, and Rap(and I hated most of that), I just hated it.)
And Mitch was scared shitless about us living together too. He would bring it up and then ponder how could he“live”with a guy? Mitch was 100% STRAIGHT and he was living with a woman. Mitch was“living”with a woman, he was“living”with a woman named Alcee. And while“living”with a woman named Alcee Mitch wasn’t gay.
Or so Mitch believed.
In Mitch’s mind his essence as a person, his very sense of self, was defined, personified, by that living arrangement. And so Alcee stayed, and stayed, and stayed and Mitch did nothing directly to terminate the relationship. But they fought continuously day by day, theyfought, and fought, andfoughtsome more, and they stayedstoned, and stoned,and morestonedwhen they were together.
And I was getting confused, and sometimes angry. I just didn’t get it any longer. The quality of Mitch’s life with Alcee was in the toilet. What Mitch put into his relationship with that bitch was amazing to me. And what Mitch got out of that relationship was totally negative in his eyes, let alone what I saw of it in mine. So I was getting very“confused”.
But Mitch wouldn’t leave Alcee as living with Alcee Mitch wasn’t gay, Mitch was straight. And without Alcee…
And here we two, Mitch and me, we’re together often, and we’re never fighting, we’re having great sex, and spending more, and more, and more time together. We’re being increasingly intimate with each other, Mitch is confiding in me constantly, and Mitch and I drawing closer, and closer, and closer, but I’m never enough.
I’m just not enough!
I don’t have a vagina.
And the vagina Mitch has, Mitch hates.
And then one day Mitch and I went out to lunch for Pizza. And it went downhill from there. Just like a truck without brakes going down a steep, steep hill,“without brakes”, super-fast it went, a juggernaut, unstoppable.
And still more time passed, it’s some 15 months now since”serendipity”,some 15 months of “normal”between us, and here we are, out of the house, having pizza for lunch.
On this one particular“normal”day, the second workday in a“normal”week, Mitch had completed the needed toils, we had showered together, messed around, and finally, hungry, went off for a late pizza lunch at about two o’clock.
The dive Pizzeria we liked was still crowded with early out High School students digging in before going home to Momma and some late lunch diners not yet ready to return to work.
We ordered our usual large pepperoni and sausage pie and settled in at a booth, Mitch with a beer, me with a Diet Coke. Forty minutes later, we’re still sitting in the booth, satisfied, talking softly, with two or three slices of cold pizza in front of us, congealed oil pooling up on top of the cheese and pepperoni.
Just then, this slightly stooped little lady, some 80 plus years old, slowly walked by the booth carrying a small bag with her leftover lunch in it, and she said:
“Good that you left some…
All of that grease and spice would boil up my stomach.”
And Mitch piped up instantly:
I’m fine with it.”
And the Old Lady said:
you’re young yet…
Good to see Fathers and Sons out together on a weekday for lunch…
Good to see that…”
And immediately Mitch said:
“He’s not my Father…
He’s my Lover…”
Silence ruled just then.
The little old lady made no response. She silently looked at Mitch for moment, and quickly glanced at me, and then shuffled on slowly as before, and left the store.
Mitch stayed silent as she left, and so did I.
I was speechless, not silent. Had I heard that conversation right?
Mitch said to someone, in PUBLIC, that I’m his“lover?”
So I asked Mitch:
“Why did you say that?”
And Mitch replied:
She was so RUDE…
… and I wanted to shock her.”
And the conversation stopped there.
I had no response then, none and I thought that we’d best just leave. So I gathered my keys and cell phone, put the empty Diet Coke can on top of the pizza box, and made ready to stand. We both got up, I disposed of the trash, and we went to the car. Neither one of us said anything much on the way home.
And once home, light conversation was had over when Mitch would be back again, either the next Tuesday, or the next Wednesday. All of that depended on school projects, it depended on other work, it depended on Alcee’s schedule, family commitments, and all of that was“normal”stuff, and a usual,“normal”end of day discussion.