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by E.P. Lee
May 27, 2021
AND the DOG BARKS ... CHAPTERS # 55 - 59
“AND THE DOG BARKS..."
CHAPTERS #55 - 59
It’s now three months until the main event, three more months and“the juggernaut”is gaining speed. Faster and faster it will go, faster, and faster,and faster,but all continues as our normal at first, our“normal”.Nothing changed between us, nothing, not the sex, not the immediate intimacy, not the laughter, not the overt warmth, not the work schedule, not“nothing”.
And nothing changed between Alcee and Mitch: not the fighting, not the inseparable togetherness, not the being stoned,“nothing”.
All was normal, routine,our“normal”, their“normal”.
And then, Mitch pulled back from me.
It was little things in the beginning, only little things. First it was what he said, or perhaps what he didn’t say. Mitch was quiet, unusually quiet. Not too unusual that as Mitch had been quiet before, and that always passed, always.
And then Mitch started leaving immediately after sex, and that was unusual. Mitch had always lingered before. But I didn’t make too much of it then as I knew that there were new pressures on him now: schoolwork, business, his music, time pressures, time constraints, that hadn’t existed ever before.
So I cut it all some slack.
But in about week three of this new behavioral paradigm Mitch broke an appointment, with grand apologies, many a“Mi Culpa”, but Mitch broke an appointment. And that week, two appointments became one, and the next week one appointment became none, and the fifth week no appointment could be made as Mitch was kind of incommunicado. And though we saw each other the sixth week, the time we spent together wastense, distant, cold.
No questions, or statements like:
“Could I stay here if…”
… were uttered to me, or anything else of intimate substance, or even day-to-day current events, was said. But this was a traditional part of our routine, our“normal”, as this too had happened many, many times before, so, so, so many times before. So I gave it little weight, little thought, little angst.
This too shall pass was my only conscious thought.
Perhaps I should have booked a trip to New York?
But I didn’t.
This was routine, the cause could have been anything from business stress, money problems, midterm exam schedules, shit with his parents, his brother, to more tension with Alcee, anything. So I wasn’t overly concerned. Mitch hadn’t pulled 100% incommunicado yet, we hadn’t had any bad words, and Mitch hadn’t brought any stuff back.
So I wasn’t ready to travel yet.
But more than that, as this circumstance was starting to play out, I didn’t want, or need, to travel as I was:
“on the fence” ...
... a bit myself now.
“WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE DOING”…
… was running around my brain more often then it wasn’t.
“Just what am I engaged in”…
… was another biggie.
And just then I thought:
“How much more of this shit can I handle anyway?”
“Haven’t I done all of this before?”
“Who the fuck is this character to treat me this way, and behave like this?”
And all of the understanding I had, all of the love I’d felt, all of the care I’d expressed, was put on hold as my defenses went up, and I waited for what I thought would happen next. And in week nine the other shoe dropped, and Mitch stopped responding to me at all: no calls, no texts, no scheduled appointments, no work, no visits, no nothing.
And at first I didn’t care.
I had people calling, and things to do, and places to go, and as my mind swirled round and round, I thought next:
“… who is this confused, needy, manipulative, crafty, destructive, and drug-abusing child to put me through this stuff?”
“And I’m his Lover?”
He could come to my home with things he’d been given, hide them in a closet so I wouldn’t see him returning them, get fucked one last time, and needs sated, run away…
And this was my“lover?”
... this was my“lover”.
And I knew that.) …
But at that moment, as this was going down around me, at that very moment when Mitch first withdrew completely, at that point in time when he pulled that last separation, I wasn’t going to deal with it on his terms. I was pretty much done for the moment. So I left Mitch alone for two, almost three weeks. I didn’t call him, and I stopped texting.
I just went about doing what I had to do, and I enjoyed what I did. And at first I was fine. I wasn’t pretending to be fine, I just was. I was active, I was busy, I was satisfied, and I was unbothered.
And then I wasn’t.
Time passed, as it always does, and soon it was only five more weeks until the“Main Event”, only five more weeks, and I was starting to get itchy.
Maybe I was just horny at first. Sex between us had been so regular for so long, and I’d been so satisfied by it all that I had stopped looking for other outlets. So maybe I was horny at first.
But truly I don’t think so. I think the“itch”I felt was a sense of loss, I was missing something.
I missed Mitch.
And then the“miss”started to strengthen. It was no longer an“itch”that needed to be scratched, but a rash that needed a salve. And then the salve failed, the“itch”couldn’t be stopped. I was scratching so hard I was going to hurt myself. I was going to draw blood.
There’s no question about it, I was going to bleed. And I don’t like to bleed. I’ve bled enough through my life.
I’ve bled when lovers had drawn blood in the past,“lovers”…
And I’ve bled through the wounds in my head, from those 56 staples needed to close up the incisions in my skull. And I’ve bled through my nose, and eye sockets, when I fell learning how to walk again after that horrific surgery. Those falls where Mitch had to pick me up from the floor and then fix those things I’d broken in the fall.
Mitch picked me up from the floor, bleeding.
Mitch picked me up from the floor.
And Mitch brought a walking skeleton back to life with warmth, intimacy, sex, and care when it got home after four and a half weeks in a coma, and seven weeks in the hospital total. “Seven weeks”… when on the second day I was home, the very first morning I was there, Mitch let himself in to the house with his key, came up to my bedroom, undressed immediately, and got into bed next to me. And it wasn’t the best sex we’d ever had, but it was close.
So now, on this day, I“missed”Mitch; now I“missed”Mitch a lot.
And all of these thoughts were running through my head at once, all of these thoughts were just rampaging through my mind. But still I was cautious, cautioned, just no more blood, please.
Just no more blood.
No more blood!
I didn’t want to bleed any more.
But Mitch, I missed Mitch.
Those fucking memories…
And the itch got worse, and worse,and soon it became a want and, and the“want”got stronger, and stronger, and soon it became a need, and the“need”became more possessive, and more possessive still, and soon I was obsessed,“obsessed”with my“need”,my“want”,my“itch”.
So I called Mitch.
So I called again.
And yet again…
And never a response.
Never a response…
So I sent a text.
And I texted again, and again, and again, and never a reply.
I was getting desperate.
I was starting to bleed a lot. And I hate blood, especially my blood, and I was bleeding,“bleeding”.And I so didn’t want to bleed. Please, please, please,just no more blood.
Those fucking memories…
In my obsession, in my“need”,I remembered an event, an occurrence where Mitch had been in pain, and I had the right knowledge, the right insight, the right words, to ease his pain.
There was this time period, maybe two years before, where Mitch had been overworked by nasty people looking for their own advantage only, and abusing Mitch. And one day, on a late afternoon unscheduled stop by, a dejected and depressed Mitch had placed the whole load on me, and I said then:
Suck it up.
They have to put their pants on one leg at a timejust like you…
just like you… (and finally more softly)
just like you…”
And Mitch had laughed, and we had sex like always, and all was fine.
And often in the next year or so, when Mitch was down, depressed, or just over-worked, I would use that line and it would elicit a smile. So this one day, a Sunday, almost four weeks after the itch started, after four weeks of scratching, after two full weeks of“bleeding”…
I texted Mitch:
“I just put my pants on both legs at the same time…”
Instantaneously I got a text back:
And then four more short texts, one received right after the other, like they had been fired off as one:
“Been sick with the flu…”
“Sorry I haven’t been in touch”
“We have to get together”
And then a short phone call with all the same details, and a final statement:
“We’ll set something up…”
And then silence.
Less than one week to go to "The Main Event".
But I was calm now, the bleeding was staunched; three letters texted to my cell phone were enough to stop the bleeding and ease my pain.
“LOL”received and I was calm as this was how all of our separations always ended, all of them. This was part of our routine.
Either I would text Mitch, or Mitch would text me.
And usually the text was over some inanity, some silliness, one of life’s absurdities. Or one of us would call the other. And it could have been me calling Mitch, or Mitch calling me, as both happened:
... and often.
Mitch called me because he was jealous.
I called Mitch because I was needy.
... but this was how it always ended. Whether we saw each other the day of first contact, or we saw each other days later, this was how the separations ended, and the new beginnings began.
And it was fine.
So I was calm now, I’d stopped bleeding. I had entered waiting mode. I was waiting to see what was going to happen next. Mitch had to decide how soon we saw each other.“Soon”wasn’t for me to decide. Mitch always determined“soon”, the first get together. And that was OK,“soon”was fine, I was more than OK with“soon”.
These fucking memories.
The next day, Monday, was quiet. Mitch didn’t call me during the day, and I didn’t call him. I knew the drill, had been given the scoop, and now I had to wait for the right circumstances, the right needs, to fall into place.
I had to wait for the planets to fall into perfect alignment…
… for things to go forward.
But at 7:30 p.m. that Monday evening my phone rang and it was Mitch, and he asked quickly, right after“hello”...
“Would you please open the driveway gate?
I want to drive in with the van.
I need to put the big ladder away.”
Mitch didn’t need me to open the driveway gate for that.
Mitch could do just what he’d been doing all of those times he wanted to put that same ladder away when we weren’t speaking these past three or four weeks. He could park the big white van on the street, open the pedestrian gate, put the ladder away, leave, and never speak to me. He’d followed that same regimen that morning, at ladder pick-up, and every other morning that he needed that same ladder for work before, so why call me now?
Mitch didn’t need me to open the driveway gate, not for a heartbeat.
I knew what it was.
This was Mitch’s way of seeing me for the first time. Alcee would be in the passenger seat of the van, and Mitch would get out of the van, put the ladder away, and run to the house to say hello to me.
This was Mitch’s way of getting to see me for a minute, a short minute. And a minute was all he wanted.
So I played my part, opened the driveway gate, opened the front door, and went to the downstairs family room to see if this would play out the way I expected it to.
And it did.
Less than a minute later, Mitch knocked on the front door and at my shouted:
Mitch bounded through the door and into the back family room in a flash, and right into my arms. Mitch loved being held, he just loved it. Mitch loved it especially when it was dangerous.
Mitch loved all intimacy when it could be exposed (but that’s another story). And I never did understand that. I never did. Perhaps Mitch felt that if he was exposed,“discovered”, a load would have been taken off of his shoulders and he would have been free. But that never happened, not right then, and not before, that never happened.
Just then though, as I held him for a good long minute, Mitch said:
“I can’t stay, Alcee is in the van.
… (Like I didn’t know that.) …
But I want to come back and catch up on work and stuff and you…
But not tomorrow…
I have a big job tomorrow, so Wednesday, I’ll be here Wednesday.”
And I said:
You don’t look well.
I think you need some rest until this thing is out of your system”
To which Mitch replied:
Wednesday, I’ll see you Wednesday”
And with that, Mitch hugged me again, kissed me kind of deep this time, broke the hold, turned, and bolted out the family room and then the front door. I walked to the front door, watched the big white van turn around in the driveway, waved goodbye, and watched the taillights of the van crest the corner in the distance. Then I locked the door and went back upstairs.