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by E.P. Lee
Apr 03, 2021
AND the DOG BARKS... Chapters # 17 - 23
“AND THE DOG BARKS..."
CHAPTERS #17 - 23
Gal returns from Tel Aviv this Sunday at 11 a.m., he wants me to pick him up at the airport; I haven’t decided if I will, or not.
If I do pick him up, I’ll have to use my car.
Gal’s car has been parked on my back driveway parking pad for the last month and I won’t go in it again. Besides being dirty with clothes, papers, and wrappers of all kinds scattered about, the car smells of dead fish and sweaty people. Along with the dirt and smells, the windshield has a nine-inch crack just off the center mirror, making the vehicle unsafe to drive in addition to its being filthy, and smelly.
I went into the vehicle once while Gal was away. I had to move it so the gardener could trim the bushes nearby. And the smell, compounded by a week’s worth of unventilated Florida sunlight and heat was overpowering, simply overpowering. I almost passed out.
I won’t go into that car again.
I’ll just use my car and bring Gal his keys. Maybe that way Gal won’t come into the house and he’ll just transfer the luggage to his car in the back driveway and motor off to Key West. But I know Gal won’t do that. Gal hasn’t seen Freud in a month so into the house he and his luggage will come.
And the games will start again.
Gal was in Israel for a long stay this time, usually he goes for 17 days or so, but this trip was a 27, 28, or 30 day extravaganza. I know there was a minor, though, involved, dental procedure planned, and there was a wedding of a distant relative or friend, three, or four, times removed to attend. And of course his three children and two Lesbian wives, and his twice married, twice divorced, all devouring spinster of a sister, his Mother, the DRAGON LADY, and his two brothers and their elongated families of in-laws, and cousins, and on, and on, and on, and on to be visited, and attended to.
I know of the intimate family three (the sister, and the two brothers), pretty well. The middle brother, his wife, and two children stayed with us in East Hampton, and Manhattan, many times years ago. There were nine of them at the beach house, nine of them, on one East Hampton visit. And I know Gal is devoted to them all. From a distance only, and from a great distance at that, but Gal’s devotion is always present.
From a distance yesssss… but “devoted” to them all Gal is nonetheless.
I know all of that.
All of the intimate family members that I know are from Gal’s pre-America, pre-leaving Israel, historic period.
That period was before, and right after, Gal was in the Israeli Army. That period was before Gal left Israel on his “coming out” world tour to become an illegal alien in the United States. All of those people in Israel are from that 22-year period of Gal’s life where he didn’t know me.
The two Lesbian “wives” and the three children, them I don’t know.
Gal refuses to speak to me about them, or show me pictures, or even speak to them on his phone in my presence when they call him on weekends and he’s here. Gal will show the voluminous pictures he collects of this “modern family” to others whenever he’s asked for details on their conditions, lives, current events, and happenings, but even if I’m in the group, the next one down from the passing photos, he pulls the photos away and speaks softly to the others so that I might not hear the details of the goings on.
It’s bizarre behavior, and it’s tired now.
The oldest child, a boy, four and half years old, was born in October some eight days before my brain surgery. Gal returned to the United States the day I was operated on, and came from the Miami Airport directly to my hospital room with his luggage in tow.
Gal came to my hospital room every weekend for seven weeks after that, and stayed with me in that room for two nights before I was released as the hospital wouldn’t release me if a paid hospital attendant was still required for overnight care. I had to be unattended at night to go home.
And I couldn’t really be.
So for two nights, Gal stayed with me in my hospital room.
And then I went home, and Gal went back to Key West that same day. And I was unattended then. I was in my own house, but all alone. Gal couldn’t stay with me any further weekdays, or weeknights, as Gal had to work. But no matter that, others were able to help: Johan, Grace.
And Mitch, Mitch was around a lot.
I’m in recovery (sic) over four years now, and Gal’s son, the little boy in Israel will be five this October.
I knew nothing about the child at first. I only found out the boy existed some 15 months after he was born. It was early May, about a year and a quarter after I got home from the Hospital. Gal told me at dinner one Saturday night that he was going to Israel for the entire month of August as a Lesbian friend of his was giving birth to fraternal twin girls, and he was the father.
It was said to me, explained, exactly that way, conversationally, over coffee after dinner. It was said casually, completely without emotion or any flowery expression at all. And as I sat there, somewhat dumbfounded, taking a moment to reel it all in, Gal next blurted out the existence of the boy, and his fatherhood of same, from a birth some 15 months prior.
Only this time Gal beamed as he spoke of the child’s existence.
Gal just glowed with pride.
And I sat still in shock saying nothing at first, and then mouthing soft expressions like:
“Good for you…
And again slightly louder, normally, as I’d found my voice, so again:
And then the story burst forth.
It seems that some three, or perhaps four years before, on one of Gal’s shorter twice, or thrice, yearly jaunts to Tel Aviv to see Mon, Spinster Sis, the Bro’s, and their extended families, Gal had gotten bored and gone to see an old, old friend that he hadn’t seen in years. This lady friend had been in New York City for a bit when Gal and I first met. I met her back then, briefly, but I met her, but she left NYC shortly thereafter, and Gal hadn’t seen her since.
Back in New York, when we’d met, she’d been gay but uncommitted, like Gal. But since returning to Tel Aviv, and resettling in Israel, she’d found a partner and they set up a full-time housekeeping gig. These two ladies had been living together for years by the time she and Gal rekindled their friendship, and the only thing missing from their committed relationship, the only thing missing to complete their lives as a couple, as a “Modern Family” in Tel Aviv, was children.
Over mucho gatherings the next week it was decided that Gal would become the sperm donor and the male titular head of their soon-to-be larger family. It was further decreed that Gal would send $500 per month, per child (they were planning on one child each) or $1,000 per month to Israel so that the children would be brought up in relative financial security and comfort.
And for this $1,000 monthly fee Gal would get to be called “Daddy”.
Some time over the next few days, whilst seeking shelter from the hot Israeli summer sun, bored but now purposeful Gal journeyed to a Tel Aviv sperm bank and made a prodigious donation. And some 14 months later the boy was born, 18 months after that came the twin fraternal girls.
The other seven embryos were destroyed. And now, month, after month, after month, year, after year, after year, Gal wires $1,500 a month to Tel Aviv.
And Gal is called “Daddy” often.
It gets complicated now, but I have to tell of it or the pieces won’t mesh, yet it’s so damned complicated, and so damn dicey.
“Complicated and dicey”…
And I don’t want to revel in it once again as I get angry, depressed, resentful, sad, maudlin, and PISSED all at once.
It’s because of that “boredom”, because of that prodigious sperm donation, because of those three children, it’s because of all of that…
… that I’m Here and not There.
I now reside Here because of all of that.
And I’m not happy.
I’m not happy at all.
But first, There, how did I get There, I’ve related how I bought There, but how did I come to reside There permanently?
After Gal and I separated some 15 years ago I rediscovered both my social and my sex life. It kind of helped that my business was dying right about then. But that’s a separate long story, and the short story is that I had a lot of money put away, good health, and a lot of free time on my hands, so I went out a lot to see friends. I went out to dinner, out for drinks, or to the theater, the ballet, art galleries, some museums, a day trip outside of the City here, longer weekends in East Hampton away from Jersey City there.
I just focused on me and what I wanted to do all the time, and whenever I wanted to do it.
Let the party begin.
It all came on slowly, but I went from a 60-hour workweek to a 40-hour plus party week schedule. Between weekend guests, both platonic and sexual, at the East Hampton abode, and the five, six, or seven hours a night I would spend out to dinner with friends, or at a Gay Boite` listening to piano bar music, I was engaged in satisfying whatever part of my ego that wanted to be satisfied whenever it demanded satisfaction.
And I never figured it out.
There I was, middle-aged, soft, not flabby or unsightly, but not buff, surely not “buff”, with a Friar Tuck fringe around an unwrinkled face, moving and grooving with people 20, and sometimes almost 30 years younger than myself.
I’d wanted to get:
“back out in traffic” …
… after I ousted Gal from my life, and I there I was. And I was hit. I was “hit” by a lot of oncoming motorcycles, cars, and trucks in that “traffic”.
And a lot.
There was Mr. Spanish, (AKA Fred), the Spanish Mid-Century Art and Antiques Dealer with his own gallery off Madison Avenue, near the cross street of the Museum of Modern Art. And there was Dale, a 29-year-old mixed race, Asian/African American gymnast of various talents. Dale was like that free “amuse-bouche” a four-star restaurant gives you before the meal, “entertaining”, but not satisfying.
Then there was Skip, interior designer to the stars. Skip whose full time lover was "Writer Emeritus" at Princeton or some such, and 30 years Skip’s senior. They had some sort of an open relationship those two did during the week, and I became the regular weekly Wednesday night piece-on-the-side. And then along came Robby the operating room nurse. And finally, at the very end of my “Party-Boy” escapade, Bradley came along just before I sojourned away from Manhattan. Bradley, was a bicycle taxi driver to the New York City masses. What drama he was.
What a “drama” they all were, and all were handsome, and all were in great shape, “gym bunnies” all. And all of them wanted to be with me.
… to be with me.
What a “drama” it all was (especially Bradley at the end, that one lingered for a long bit).
But I had all this time on my hands, and they had all these physical wants and emotional needs. So it all fit together like that proverbial “hand” in that proverbial “velvet glove”.
It all fit together.
And I hated it.
I wasn’t that much of a Party-Boy.
Try as I might, and I did try, I wasn’t that much of a “Party-Boy”. I was used to being a couple. And dating was treacherous. Dating back then was like walking on an unknown minefield where you put your foot down in the wrong place one minute, and instantly the world as you thought you knew it existed was gone. And there I was gaining weight from all the food, alcohol, laughter, good times, and sex.
And I hated it.
So Manhattan Playboy (sic) that I was, out about town until two, three, or four o’clock in the morning four, or five, nights a week, said:
“I need to escape…”
Or I might hurt myself.
I wasn’t used to all of this fun, all of this stability, this laughter, the perpetual absence of fear, stress, and need. I had to get back to my normal, and where better to do that than where I knew no one, and nothing?
I would close up the New York City apartment for a short while, and try life at my now vacant house in Miami.
I would journey There.
I would go There.
And that’s just how I got There.
And There was I!
And I accomplished my primary goal immediately as There pretty much nixed the “Party-Boy” routine from jump as I had massive things to do and not a clue of where to go out, or who to go to those places with. Nor was the house “There” yet, as it was the “dump” I first saw before purchase described previously only worse for wear now. Everything that had been bad about the house before had been made worse by the rental tenants of the past fifteen months and their negligence and abuse.
And time, and the hot Florida sun itself, had increased the visual decay on the exterior walls pus-yellow paint, fading it unevenly, and bubbling it in spots. The garden was bereft of color, overgrown with weeds and devoid of any charm. And inside the house, oh my… the rust on the appliances had spread. The Cuban Tile painted concrete floors had faded. The porcelain tiles in the bathrooms had been additionally chipped. And the already badly scarred, and previously abused fixtures around the house had all deteriorated further. And then there was a double wide laundry closet, a “double wide laundry closet”, in the living room staring back at me daily; a “laundry” in the living room.
In the living room?
And this was my home in Paradise?
And I didn’t know where to go out.
I had only gone out as a couple before in Miami. I had gone out, by myself, some, on that last trip to Miami when I was on my “voyage of rediscovery”, sure. But back then I thought I was still part of a couple. So in these first days of residence I didn’t know where to go, or what to do.
I knew no one of any substance in Miami, but Roxanne, and her boyfriend Mr. StudlyLeather Pants wouldn’t share. Of course I knew Antonio too, but no, not on a regular basis that. I couldn’t see Antonio with any regularity. I could never be with Antonio on a regular basis.
I’d be ill.
And even if I could have just used Antonio for whom he would’ve introduced me to, there was no value there. Antonio attracted, and bonded with likes usually, “likes”. They were "likes" in the sense that they were similarly affected, only somewhat intelligent, vapid, non-substantial, low-end, but pretty, droids just like him. And I couldn’t do that on an everyday basis again. After all, I had left some “substantial”, pretty, “droids” back in NYC just before, and I wasn’t going to go down that road here; not immediately upon arrival anyway.
… “not immediately upon arrival!”
So I had all this time on my hands, and just then Gal called:
“How about lunch tomorrow?”
I querulously replied:
I hadn’t seen Gal in over two and a half years by then.
We’d spoken, regularly, once every two months or so over that time. Gal would call regularly to ask about Ziggy. And those calls were devoid of tension, they were devoid of any pleasure for me too for that matter.
But Gal and I had 13 years of couplehood between us, and of course one dead, and one still living animal. And I had no anger left. Indeed, I had no real anger when I ended the relationship.
“Let’s do lunch…”
I felt protected when I agreed to go to lunch with Gal that day, I was secure with myself right about then.
My health was stable:
… the doctor said just two months previous at my yearly physical. The last 18 months had given me a lot of money, well over a million dollars in cash did I have, and my immediately passed social life had filled me with confidence, pleasure, and sex.
I felt protected.
All of that positive sense-of-self, and positive personal reality that I had experienced in New York before I came down to Miami was lingering about, and Brad (Bradley, the New York City Bicycle Taxi, Pedicab, driver), was arriving in two days for a four-day R & R turn in the hot, tropical, Florida sun. It was to be Brad’s third four-day visit, and I would have only been in Florida seven weeks.
This was towards the middle of our first relationship go around, and we had been playing with:
Perhaps we should try living together…”
And so Brad was trying out Florida in small four-day bursts, and often those bursts were during those first four months of my Florida residency.
… often those bursts were.
Brad was here twice in September just after my arrival, and he planned on attending twice again in October, and twice in November to come, and twice yet again in December before the Christmas Holidays. We had agreed on a schedule of events through to the end of the year.
But in December there was trouble between us, we seemed to draw apart, so only one visit was planned for January next, and only one again in for early February, and then we had a hiatus in our involvement until April, and then another burst of togetherness, so two trips were planned for April, and two trips in May. But right then, on this October day where “lunch” was being discussed, Brad was arriving on the morrow. And Dale was mouthing off about a visit a little later in October. So regardless of what went down in a visit with Gal the next day, at this planned lunch, my life, as I had created it, would continue on apace the next day.