Another small sample of the work I'm attempting to have critiqued.
|Matt smiled as he watched Jason go. The dining room, save for Connie and himself, was now empty, the dark-haired woman having been chased off by their drunken revelry. He motioned Connie over with a finger, then bade her to lean in closer, then closer, before whispering a little more loudly than he intended “I think I love him.”
Connie smiled kindly. “I think you do too. It’s okay. He loves you too. And it’s high time you boys stopped assing around it. You need to tell him.”
“Well, no, not right now. But he’s going to come down, and you’re both going to finish eating, and then you’re going to go for a walk to clear your heads. And somewhere along the way there, you’ll find the right time.”
Jason finally came back then, another fresh shirt having been fetched from the bottom of his backpack. The dining room still being empty, he gave Matt another kiss, this one full and deep, before Connie cleared her throat and they came up for air.
“You boys have a room for that,” she said.
Jason giggled some more, then sat down, and they more or less wordlessly finished eating. Connie collected the plates, and shooed them off into the slowly waning twilight. She took the plates back into the kitchen, where Rosie was having a brief smoke-break with Chef.
“I think they’ll get everything sorted out.”
The food seemed to have absorbed a bit more of the alcohol from their brains, and as they ambled down the street, they were feeling more and more clear-headed. There was still a certain amount of teasing and joshing around as they walked, but it was, on the whole, much less silly and much more contained than their behavior back in the dining room. This didn’t stop them from taking advantage of a few choice spots, well hidden from all but those who were looking hardest for them, to pop into the shadows and steal a quick kiss. They’d remembered the news report they’d heard about the forthcoming meteor shower, and were stalking around attempting to find an open, clear spot, which had a good view of the sky. A brief stopover on Church Street, where a crowd was still gathered around the bearded stranger, talking, and listening, and being at peace, and then they passed on, up the hill, up towards the lake.
The slowly appearing stars over Clifton were like nothing either man had ever seen before. The bright, cold lights of Boston, and the warm neon glow of Miami had dotted out most of the sky from Matt’s eyes, and the floodlit nights in Chicago and New York, and the studies and (all forms of ) extracurricular activities at Penn had kept Jason’s view minimal as well. This wasn’t the purest, vastest sky that would ever been glimpsed by any man (nor, ultimately, even by these two), but for their purposes it was perhaps their first, long, hard glance out at the infinite. The moon hung warmly, low in the sky, near the horizon. It would be a while before the meteors began to do their cosmic dance, and so Matt and Jason took the moment to remain, cuddled and intertwined in one another’s arms, listening to the slow, gentle croaks of the bullfrogs at the lake, and the harsh, quick chirps of the cicadas in the nearby poplar tree.
It was a while before either of them spoke. When they finally did, it was, at once, together, and in perfect unison: “You know, I’ve been thinking…”
They stopped, laughed, and then Jason said, impishly, “Jinx. You go first.”
Matt smiled. “Okay, I’ve been thinking. About what’s going to happen tomorrow and after that, and what the hell I’m doing, and where I’m going, and all that very heavy, supposedly deeply psychological stuff, and I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I really know that I’d like to go with you if that doesn’t sound too crazy, because I know that people meet boyfriends everywhere, but I just don’t know if that includes a weird hotel in a tiny town in the middle of Pennsylvania is included in that and…”
Jason silenced his nervous tirade with a hand pressed to Matt’s lips, and a gentle “Shhhh.” He laughed, breathily.
“Now I do know that I’m having a bad effect on you,” said Jason, the laughter still in his voice. “You’re starting to talk like me.”
They both laughed then.
“I guess I am,” said Matt. He opened his mouth to speak again, but Jason shushed him with a kiss, and then turned his attention to Matt’s neck.
“No, no, wait, no.” Matt pulled back, almost causing himself pain. Every nerve ending in his body seemed to be calling out for him to stay close to Jason, but still he pulled away, trying to continue to speak.
“No, no, no. We have to finish this now. We can’t keep avoiding it, because if we avoid it, if we left things keep going, then there’s every chance that the sun comes up in the morning, and I get on my bus to Hartford, and you get on your bus to Chicago, and we never see each other ever again. And I just don’t think I can live with myself if that happens.”
This was nothing Jason wanted to face. He was instantly sober, the last traces of the vodka purged from his system in a rush of adrenaline, testosterone, and plain old nerves. Every cell of his body was screaming out for him to take Matt in his arms, to never let go, and to tell him that they wouldn’t be giving up, and that was for damn sure. But it was the small, nagging voice in the back of his brain that moved his mouth to say “Don’t worry about it. We can worry about that when the time comes.”
A flash of anger crossed Matt’s face. “Check your watch, Jason,” he said, hotly, “It’s about fifteen minutes to later.”
“What, do you want me to make a decision tonight? Do you? Because I can’t think about that right now. I can’t. I mean, I’ve got all these problems, and our worlds are just too damned different and…”
Matt heard for the first time a little of his father’s famous temper in his voice, as he heard himself say “Oh, you have problems? You have problems, do you? That’s right, you grew up in a big house in a fancy neighborhood, and even though your parents know all about who you are and what you are and they’re fine, and maybe they weren’t around as much as they should have been, but you always had a roof over your head and food on the table, and now you’re off at your swanky college and you’ve got a decent summer job, except that getting there in the morning isn’t something that you can do. And you’ve got problems. Well forgive me for wishing I had it so rough.”
He was halfway to tears when his voiced trailed off.
Jason sat, stunned, for a moment, and then, before he could help himself, he said, feebly “My whole life hurts.”
“Jason, everybody’s life hurts. Connie, Mae, Dora, everyone we’ve met over the past couple of days, my parents, my sister, hell, probably your parents too. But so fucking what? That doesn’t mean we get some kind of free pass to do whatever we want to people. That just means we’re human and we have to keep doing the best we can.”
Jason, still slightly embarrassed, felt himself retreating slightly, and said “When you start talking like that, I notice that I sound like an asshole.”
A look of confusion, mixed with anger, sorrow, and deep and total frustration appeared on Matt’s broad Irish features, but before he could interrupt, Jason found himself continuing “So I’m an asshole. Then what are you doing with me, anyway? If I’m so awful.”
All the emotions seemed to ebb from Matt’s face, and it was a flat, almost monotone voice that said “Because you may be a spoiled rotten, pampered, soft, irresponsible, stuck up guy with an Ivy League education who has no idea what kind of gifts he’s been given and with no idea how the world works, and I may be some street punk with a little taste who grew up having to prostitute himself to be able to survive and support a totally fucked up, abusive boyfriend, and I may not have been exactly cultured even before my parents threw me out, but,” he paused, taking a deep breath, before nearly screaming, all the emotions and all the ups and downs of the past few days welling up again from somewhere deep inside him, “but, the only thing that matters is I love you!”
It was from a similar place that Jason found himself screaming “Well, I love you too!”
In a Tracy and Hepburn movie, this dramatic scene would have ended with the young lovers embracing, putting aside their past differences and laughing, deciding to move on together toward a common future. Neither Matt nor Jason had ever seen one of those movies (although Jason might have recalled, a hazy memory of a marijuana laced night, of eating mushroom pizza and watching, half-watching anyway, Turner Classic Movies), and so, in the deafening silence that followed their announcement, Matt stood, half blinded by tears, and rage, and pain, and that same deep and total frustration, and took off, not walking, nor jogging, nor even running, but sprinting down the mountain as fast as his legs could carry him. Jason sat, too stunned and exhausted to follow, or even to attempt to call after him, watching Matt retreat down the mountainside. He sat and sat, not able to think or feel, and he wasn’t sure he was entirely aware of who, or where he was. He didn’t know how long it at been, but the next thing he was really aware of was the wracking sobs coming from his own mouth, the heaving of his shoulders, and the tears which blurred his vision and streamed down his face.
In the deep purple of the nighttime sky, the stars began to fall.