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The houses in rossford, part one of chapter six

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Old 10-31-2016, 07:43 PM
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Default The houses in rossford, part one of chapter six



CHAPTER
SIX

MONEY/ TROUBLE



“Dena, I know I said we could spend the afternoon together,” Brendan began, crossing the blacktop to where she sat with Will and Layla in Saint Barbara’s portico. “But I got a call for some extra hours, and you know I need extra hours. Kenny’s about to go over so I thought I’d just ride with him. Since my car’s still in the shop.”
Dena shrugged—what could she do?—and said, “Alright, I guess.”
Milo was a pace off, finishing a cigarette. He climbed from the wall and approached them as Brendan kissed Dena, quickly, and turned to go back into the school.
“I was about to take Layla to her uncle’s,” Will began. “But we can run you home first.”
“That’s not necessary,” said Milo. “I’ll drop you off.”
“I couldn’t ask that.”
“But you didn’t ask it,” Milo pointed out. “I offered. I mean, unless you don’t want me to.”
“No,” Dena said, quickly. “I do. Just… I didn’t want to put you out or anything.”
“Well, you’re not putting me out,” Milo said. “Or anything. All right?”
Dena nodded,
Milo held his hand out in courtly fashion and said, “Shall we go?”
Dena took it and nodded.
“Now,” Milo said, as they climbed into the red velvet cake plushness of the Crown Victoria, “you may notice the distinct scent of pine coming from this air freshener swinging from the rear view mirror. That, and other things like the plastic Virgin Mary on the dashboard, are all courtesy of my grandparents, Barb and Robert Affren. Now strap yourself in and get ready for a fun ride. Where are we off to, m’lady?”
“You know this car reminds me of a taxi cab?”
“Do I remind you of an Arab?”
“I am an Arab.”
“No, you’re not! Stop.”
“No, I am, seriously. My mother’s mother was from Iraq and my grandfather—that’s the Meraden—was from Syria, second generation. My great grandparents came from Lebanon.”
“Oh,” said Milo. “So you are an Arab. I guess that means you should smack me on the head.”
Dena reached over and smacked him. Softly.
“Uh, I need to show you how to get to Randolph Street,” she said. “I just realized you can’t really know this town that well.”
“Okay. So whaddo I do?”
“Well, first,” said Dena, “you make a U-turn or something, because you’ve been going in the wrong direction for the last two blocks.”
“Dena!”
“Well, see, that’s what you get for making fun of my people.”
“Let me turn this car around at the light.
“Are you all right?”
“Because you made fun of Arabs? Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.”
“No!” Milo hit the car horn. “Because of Saturday?”
“Oh… Oh, crap, yeah,” said Dena.
“My father is…” Dena shook her head. “I can’t even think about it, you know? I need some fucking answers. And… Even though I need them, I’m not entirely sure I’m ready for them. All right. Now a block after Saint Barbara’s you make a right turn. Oh, sorry, I meant two blocks.
“And to make it worse, Brendan.”
“He seems like a straight up guy.”
“He is,” Dena said. “But the whole thing about ‘I need more hours. I gotta go to the store.’”
“Well, I guess a guy has to work.”
“Not when he’s seventeen and his parents have money! He should be here, instead of working at Martins checking out people’s groceries to get some artificial sense of independence. I’m so… oh, crap!”
“What?”
“I’m sorry, I missed the last turn. You gotta turn the car around.”
Milo sighed and pulled the car over.
Dena, whose hand was pressed to her head, pulled it out of her thick hair and said, “Are you going to throw me out?”
“I should,” Milo said. “But it looks like you need to talk. Wanna grab a coffee or something?”
“I hate coffee,” said Dena, grinning. “Let’s grab a something, instead.”


“Hell no, I don’t want to meet him,” Layla said.
They were in Fenn’s kitchen, and Will shrugged, sorry he’d brought up the question.
Layla did not let it go.
“I find out that all my life my father was screwing someone else, and had a baby by her, who is a grown man now, who is my age now, and you think I want to meet him?”
“Lay,” Fenn said, pacifically, “don’t bite Will’s head off for something he didn’t do.”
Layla blinked, and seemed to see them both for the first time.
“I’m sorry, Will,” she said. “It’s just…”
“You don’t have to explain,” he told her. “It’s like… If I found out my dad did that it would be just like… my whole life was a lie.”
“I feel like my life is a lie,” Layla said.
“That’s nonsense,” Fenn told her. “Your father’s life was a life and… to hell with him.”
“I hope Mama doesn’t go into nice mode,” Layla said.
“Nice mode?” Will said.
“Yeah,” Layla shook her head. “She’ll start telling me things like, well, he is your brother. Maybe you should get to know him. Or… well, you know, your father is your father. I don’t want what he did to me to interfere with your relationship with him.”
“Um,” Fenn took a cigarette from his breast pocket, “Adele would say some bullshit like that.”
“Well, I hope she understands he didn’t just do it to her. He did to it to me.” Layla looked as if she were marshalling her thoughts. Her brows were furrowed.
“AND,” she said, “I don’t want to know him. That boy. And I don’t want to talk to my father, either.”
“You’ll have to,” Will said. “One day.”
She looked at him, disgusted.
“No, I don’t,” she said. “Not today and not any day if I don’t feel like it.”
Will shook his head.
“She’s a Houghton,” Fenn assessed, “to the teeth.”
There was a knock at the side door, and before Fenn could answer it Dan Malloy entered.
“Father Malloy,” the kids sat straighter.
“Danny, still in your work clothes.”
Dan blinked and looked down at himself, pressing his index finger to his Roman collar.
“Ah… yeah. Hey, guys,” he said to Layla and Will. Then, “Fennjamin, can I speak to you?”
“Fennjamin?” Layla said.
“It’s a childhood thing,” Fenn said, and stepped outside, motioning for Dan to follow.

On the stoop in the carport, Dan said, “I think I found out what you can do with the money.”
“Really?” Fenn said. “And you came right over on a Monday afternoon to tell me,”
“Well, I was feeling brave, Fenn, and I wanted to stay that way.”
“All right,” said Fenn. “Okay, what will we do.”
“Well, I found someone with a contact who can get us an appointment with this nice little off shore Caribbean bank. If you can find someone to get to Florida with the money, and then from Florida to the Keys, and then from the Keys meet the contact who will get you to… I don’t even know the island.”
“Is it in the Caymans?”
“Hell, I don’t know! Sure!”
“Well, good.”
“Fenn, you need someone you can trust, all right? You need someone who knows how everything works and can explain it to you, so you can get to your money.”
“Of course.”
“And… And I would recommend that you or whoever goes drives down there. I don’t trust planes for something like this. With security and everything the way it is now.
“And… and… we have to make sure the bills aren’t marked. Wait, no we really don’t. It’ll be in another country. No one will ask questions. Oh… oh,” Dan did a small dance of frustration, “We’ve gotta be really, really careful, Fenn.”
“I know,” Fenn grinned at Dan. And then he frowned.
“Daniel?”
“Yes?”
“Ah… your contact…?”
“Contacts.”
“Contacts?”
“Yes.”
“Who are they? I mean…. How did you get criminal contacts?”
Dan looked instantly stupid, and then completely guilty.
“Well, you’d never guess.”
“No, not if you don’t tell me.”
“Get ready for this…”
“Dan!”
“Bob and Barb Affren.”

“Oh, hell, I don’t even know,” Dena said, gesticulating with the milkshake. “I mean, we’ve all got problems. Right?”
When Milo said nothing she said, “Right?”
“Oh. Yeah. I just thought you were being rhetorical.”
Dena looked out of the window in the shake shop.
“I never come up to the strip,” she said. “I always see kids who go to the strip and think… There’s this really rich area of town, called East Havens. Those bitches… I always think East Haven bitches come up here and have a good time and the girls laugh and toss their hair and say shit like, ‘Oh, my Gawd!’ and ‘Totally!’ And they all have names like Tiffany… Or Amber… or… What’s a new one now?”
“Heather?”
“Oh, Heather’s an old one. That’s like 1990. Heather…? She got knocked up at Prom and has a kid my age.”
Milo snorted his shake and said, “And his name is Lake. Or Langston. Or something like that.”
“Oh, God, yes! See, Milo. I knew I could count on you.”
“Dena, have you just considered this: I mean, I saw the house you live in… It’s not like you’re poor and on the wrong side of the tracks. Any of you.”
Dena frowned.
“You got a point,” she said, at last. “I mean, Brendan carries his cell phone with him wherever he goes, and his house… It’s not pretty. But it is big. You know, its one of those new fangled ones for attorneys who want swimming pools in their backyards surrounded by other attorneys who have swimming pools in their backyards. And one thing I don’t get… they all barbecue in their driveways, with the garage open. Why do they do that?”
“Does every house look a like?”
“Yes,” Dena said. “I mean… At least I live in an old neighborhood! But… why do we do that? Why do we pretend to be poor?”
Milo shrugged.
“Why did I steal a car?”
“Why did you steal a car?”
Milo blew out his cheeks and put his chin on his fist.
“If I say I was bored…”
“That’s that standard, stupid answer.”
“I know,” Milo said.
“I’ve been thinking about it, Dena. I mean, seriously thinking about why the fuck I stole someone’s car and I think… I really do believe it’s because I wanted to get thrown out. It’s like… I wanted my parents to pick me up and throw me as far as they could. And see where I landed. Was that stupid?”
“It was desperate,” Dena said.
Milo nodded.
“Yeah… But when you say it was desperate, that’s a little bit like what a pop psychologist would say to excuse really dumb behavior. He was frustrated. He was acting out of desperation. I think this once I’d settle for saying what I did was stupid.”
Dena grinned, and then she chuckled. And then she began laughing.
“What?”
“Well,” Dena said, after raising a finger to give herself time to breathe, “When you consider that your parents threw you as far as they could and you only ended up across two state lines. And in Indiana of all places, I’d say… yeah… It was kind of stupid.”

“Well, I don’t know if you heard this from Daniel or not,” Bob said. “But I would suggest that you take a car down there.”
“It’s not like it used to be,” Barb chimed in, shaking her head in disapproval. “What with Nine Eleven and all the strange things they have about what you can take onto a plane and what you can’t. You never know when someone’s gonna have to open your bag and then, oops, there’s half a million dollars. And how the hell do you explain that?”
“So your best bet it to get a good car and just drive,” Bob reiterated. “Do you know when you’ll be going?”
Fenn looked at Todd, and then said, “I still have the show to do.”
“I guess I could go,” Todd said. “That’s a lot of days away from my work.”
“Todd,” Barb patted his hand as if he was simple. “It’s four hundred thousand dollars. You can do any work you want to.”
“Hell, Bob threw up his hands. “You could make a documentary out of it. How I smuggled half a million dollars our of the country!”
“Well, you’d need a second,” Fenn said. “You know. A driving partner.”
“Take me!” Noah nearly shouted.
“Please, it’s just the adventure I need. I’m so useless around here. Take me.”
“You sure about that?” Todd said. “I mean, how many days drive is it?”
“Back in the Fifties about three,” said Barb.
“I’d say three at a leisurely pace now,” said Fenn. “My parents would have done it in two. But they didn’t do leisurely paces.
“And then, once you get to Miami, you gotta get to the Keys.”
“Are we really doing this?” Todd said.
“Well, we’re really NOT going to sit around with a bag full of money in the house,” Fenn said.
“Todd doesn’t want to go,” Paul observed. “I’ll go.”
Fenn looked at him.
“It means I’ll miss one rehearsal, right?”
“I guess,” Fenn said, listing off days on his fingers. His brow furrowed as he tried to remember what as going on at the theatre.
“Well, great! And this’ll be our way of earning our cut.”
“What is our cut?” Noah said.
“What is your cut for that matter?” Fenn said to Barb and Bob.
They looked at each other and laughed.
“This is our cut,” Bob said. “We haven’t planned a money run for almost fifty years.”
“You’ve done this before?” Paul said.
“How did you think we got Raoul?” said Barb.
“That’s the contact,” Fenn explained. “Or one of them.”
“One of them?” Todd mouthed.
“Or how do you think we knew about the bank?” Bob added, ignoring Todd.
“Should we ask exactly what you guys were doing in the Fifties?” Fenn said.
“No,” Barb murmured reflexively. “It’s probably best that you don’t.”

“I don’t understand what you’re so stressed out about?” Fenn said from where he sat on the edge of the bed.
Todd, who was combing his spiky hair in the mirror, stopped and rounded the bed to sit next to Fenn.
“It’s not that I don’t like Paul and Noah.”
“Yes?”
“But… I mean, does it even sound right to give our money to two pornstars and then trust them to make it safely to the Florida Keys and… where ever else?”
“Well, if you feel that way, then why don’t you go?”
“I don’t want to be in a car for three days, and I don’t know Paul and Noah the way you do.”
“No one knows Noah. Not really. You know, I think they make you nervous.”
“They’re pornstars!” Todd hissed.
“Well, they were pornstars. Now they’re our housemates. And business partners. Why, if Paul hadn’t called us into the house to rescue Noah, then that bag of money would be buying new patrol cars for the Port Ridge Police Department instead of… Being with us.”
Todd said nothing.
“Have we decided exactly when this money run is going to happen?”
“Two days from now, right?”
“Wednesday…. Hold on…”
Fenn picked up the phone. He dialed a number.
“Yeah… It’s me. I know it’s late. Yes! I know what time it is. How do you like this? Would you like to make the money run to the Caymans?”
Todd’s ears perked up. He leaned over Fenn, trying to hear the conversation, but Fenn put a hand in his face and pushed him away.
“Yeah. Yeahhhh… I know. Paul and Noah. We need you as supervision. Really? Oh, God, I thought you’d say no. I KNEW you were going to say no. I love you… I know you do. All right. All right. Bye.”
Fenn hung up the phone and sat on the edge of the bed, looking very pleased.
“I got the only person I knew that you would know was beyond reproach. He’ll be going with the boys. It’ll be just like one of those a rabbi walks into a bar jokes.”
“You got a rabbi?”
“I got a priest.”
Todd looked at him.
“I got Dan Malloy.”

“Is this film or digital?” Noah said.
“Uh…” Paul was staring at the camera like it was a puzzle. “It’s digital. I think we can load it right onto the computer. You ever done this before?”
“I’ve done this a lot before. You have too.”
“You know what I mean. Filmed?”
“I’ve seen Guy do it. If his dumb ass can shoot trash, then you know we can.”
“I’ll just… put it on the tripod like this… Make sure it’s seeing us.”
Then Paul looked back at Todd’s camera and said, “How do we know it’s seeing us?”
“Look, whatever we screw up we can re-shoot. And what we don’t like we can always edit out.”
Noah climbed off of the bed and approached Paul. Standing on the tips of his toes, he folded his fingers in Paul’s hair and kissed him deeply on the mouth. Paul was looking at the camera. He kissed Noah back; his mouth lingered on Noah’s lips pulling on his lips, his tongue twisting with Noah’s.
“It’s weird thinking of the camera on us.”
“We’ve done this shit a million times. Just… don’t think of the camera.”
“But it was different.”
In the past there were only two ways Paul had sex: on camera, or when he was high, and usually not with the same person. As Noah kissed him and began to pull up his knit shirt, kissing all over his chest, he realized that those props were gone.
“Imagine all of those people that’ll be watching,” Noah murmured. “All of those fucking people watching you… Fuck me…”
Every night Paul fucked Noah in the dark it was a high. His sex life had never belonged to him. It had always been someone else’s property. Now, the night covered them, fused them together, and they became something like the tree that falls in the forest. Did they make a sound? Whatever the tree made was what they made, twisting their bodies together, inserting fingers into tightness, tongues into pungent wetness, cock into crack into mouth and ass.
Noah’s mouth took his penis. Noah struggled to fit it all the way in, and Paul felt himself growing and growing under Noah’s tongue, the way he pulled up and down. He moaned and moved to the bed, struggling to pull off his jeans.
“No,” he murmured.
Noah didn’t hear him. Noah’s mouth went between his legs, to his scrotum, onto his ass, into his asshole, back to his cock, to balls to asshole again, kissing thighs.
“No…” Paul murmured, his penis large, raging, taken in by Noah’s mouth. I don’t think I’ll think of all those people watching.
A gentle invasion, Noah’s index finger pushed into Paul’s asshole, in and out, making him moan as his mouth went up and down onto his cock.
“No, I don’t think I want to think about anything!


“Well,” Noah said, with a breathless girlishness, as he sat in front of Todd’s laptop. “Here we go. We’re about to be downloaded. Ey, do you think we should start our own site?”
“What? Like Guy?”
“Yeah,” Noah clicked Enter, and grinned. “There it goes. And you can charge folks. And folks’ll pay.”
“You mean, shoot you and me fucking each other over and over again.”
“No,” Noah made a noise and waved that away. “I mean we get some of the other guys, find out where the fuck Burt is for instance. Start something up here. Not in this house. I mean, Fenn and Todd probably wouldn’t like that.”
“Todd wouldn’t,” Paul agreed.
“Would you? Oh, fuck! There we are baby. Let’s watch this shit.”
“I don’t know if I want to.”
“Want to start a company? Or want to watch our hot ass video? Don’t worry, Pauly, I saw it last night. It’s pretty tight. I touched it up a bit.
“You know, we’ll need our own camera. We can’t just keep sneaking Todd’s. That’s not right. And our own equipment. If we want to get good. I’m sorry,” said Noah, “I interrupted.”
“I mean, I don’t know if I want to see a video of us. That just sounds… redundant. And I don’t really know if I want to start my own porn company.”
“Other Worlds Video, Paul. They started just like us. They were doing little shit for someone like Guy, someone who had never acted and just wanted to get fucked and have dicks in his mouth, and knew the best way to get it was to pay people. And they left and started their own shit. They do gay and straight stuff. Their stuff is fantastic.”
“Well, then maybe you should do it,” Paul told him, trying not to sound rude. “The way you talk about it, you sound like it’s… Hollywood or something. Like the Oscars. To me it’s just crappy shit people do to get off, or to pay their bills or to… or because the only way they can get laid is in front of a camera and by beautiful people. I don’t like it like you do.”
“You do like it like I do,” Noah said. He turned to the screen, frowned at it, worked it a bit, and then Paul heard his own voice.

“You know what I mean. Filmed?”

Then Noah’s: “I’ve seen Guy do it. If his dumb ass can shoot trash, then you know we can.”
“I’ll just… put it on the tripod like this… Make sure it’s seeing us.”
“How do we know it’s seeing us?”
“Look, whatever we screw up we can re-shoot. And what we don’t like we can always edit out.”

“I’ve seen you nail the fuck out of folks, Pauly. And get nailed. And love it. Man, I saw Pizza Slut, so… Com’on, for old Noah. Let’s just do a few more. I mean, Let’s do one…” Noah moved to set up the camera, “where we’re doing it to ourselves doing it.”
“You mean now?”
“Yeah.”
Paul just looked at him.
Noah touched the bridge of his nose. He brought his finger down Paul’s nose slowly, to rest on his lips. He pressed his lips to Paul’s and they stayed there. He sucked on them, pulled them, pushed his tongue through Paul’s.
Noah’s hand plunged into Paul’s jeans, into his underwear, started to stroke him.
“I’m making movies with the hottest guy in the biz,” Noah murmured while kissing Paul and pulling him down to the bed.
“Now, how hot is that?”

“NOAH WANTS ME TO make porn.”
Fenn cocked his head.
They were sitting on the sofa in the living room. Everyone else was asleep upstairs.
“He… He’s been bored, Fenn. He needs something to excite him. So, he wants to make porn and put it on the Net.”
“I take it…” Fenn put down the large tea mug, “that he needs someone to make the porn with?”
“That’s where I come in.”
“Yes,” Fenn nodded. “I thought so.”
“He wants us to make porn and… get some other folks. Start up something new now that Guy won’t be doing anything for awhile.”
“And you want to know?”
“I want to know what you think.”
“Well,” Fenn shook his head, “I’m going to have to be academic and annoying about it and ask you, ‘what do you think?’”
“Fenn!”
“I mean, do you want to? If you want to do it, then it doesn’t matter what good reasons I have for it or against it. But if you really don’t want to do it, then you shouldn’t.”
“It just doesn’t feel right,” Paul stopped for a moment. He had come dangerously close to saying what he wasn’t ready to admit yet, that he and Noah had already shot and put two movies online.
“Well, then you’ve got your answer.”
“But… it’s like I said. He’s bored. He needs something That’s how he is. He thrives on… something to excite him. Something naughty.”
“That’s why he wants to do the money run.”
“Yes.”
“And that’s why you and Dan Malloy are going along.”
“But what comes next?”
“Whaddo you mean?”
“I mean when the run’s over?”
“You come back and do the play. You work for the playhouse now. I thought that made you happy.”
“Look. It does, Fenn. This whole set up—except I have to get a place of my own eventually—makes me happy. But Noah’s going to need that excitement.”
“Paul,” Fenn said, firmly, “it is not my job to keep Noah excited. And it’s not yours either.”
Fenn stood up and yawned. “We should both get to bed.”
Fenn was quiet a moment, and then he said, “Are you afraid if you don’t keep that boy excited he’ll go away?”
Paul didn’t answer. He stared at his cup, his face firm.
“You can do everything you want to entertain him; you can’t make that boy stay, and you shouldn’t have to try. Good night, Paul.”

“What I’m saying, is that it’s time to really do… whatever the fuck we want with this playhouse,” Fenn said at the meeting that morning, pouring some more of the too black, too bitter coffee Tom liked to make into his cup.
“For the sake of paying for our own upkeep, at least,” Tara said.
Others nodded and Brian, folding his hands suggested, “A workshop.”
Fenn nodded for him to continue.
“I mean, we’ve got our connection to the college. It’s no reason we couldn’t work with them to make one of the best acting programs this side of Yale. Real theatre. Not community crap.”
“We never do community crap,” Tom said with a small smile, tracing a circle on the table.
“And we can never really afford to pay people what they deserve,” said Brian. “I mean, Fenn’s right. If we’ve come into some money then we can really be something. We’re not Chicago, but we’re the biggest city around here. We could draw in folks from everywhere, probably as far as Indy.”
“That’s awfully big,” Tom shook his head, uncertainly. “I mean, I think we might be reaching too high.”
Fenn opened his mouth, but before he could say anything, Brian said, “That’s how you get anything done. You reach. Start small with as much as you can chew all the time. But don’t be afraid to reach.”
“We need to do another play,” Fenn said. Tara and Brian nodded. “I mean, from now on I want us doing a lot of different plays at once. I want this place to be jumping, and we’ve got it open to that theatre troupe at the college. Well, I think we need to put out the word to anyone trying to do any acting that we’re here. For a price, obviously. I want this place to be fucking jumping. All the time.”
“What about more than plays?” Tara said. “I mean, we can’t do a play every night and I know lots of dykes who want to do slam poetry. They want to sing and try to be Ani DeFranco all over again.”
“Yes, Goddamnit yes,” Fenn cried. “Anything that keeps this place filled and people coming.
“But I want to get back to Brian’s idea.”
Brian put down his pencil and nodded.
“Can you make it happen? Something with the college?”
Brian grinned. “I can try to make something happen. Try very hard.”
“Make it happen.”
Brian smiled and nodded. “I’ll make it happen.”
“Good,” Fenn said. “And Tom, can you get on finding us another play and putting out casting calls?”
“I can do this.”
“I am excited as fuck,” Tara declared.
“For so long we were just limpin’ along, praying the lights didn’t get turned out. And now, look at us, doing shit. Planning a future. Feels damn good.”


On his way out the door, and to Saint Barbara’s, Brian turned around and said to Tom and Fenn, who had been talking:
“Fenn, I just wanted to say I agree with Tara. It is exciting. You know… to be making something happen. We’re gonna do this?”
“Yes we are,” he nodded at Brian, and Brian smiled and left.
“One, Two,” Fenn murmured.
“What are you—?” Tom began.
“Three…. Four…. Five.” Fenn turned around. “Brian’s a nice guy, Tom. You should try to not screw it up.”
“What are you…? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Now that you’re sleeping with him again, you should try not to ruin it.
“Now, don’t give me that stupid look. I know what’s going on.”
“Nothing’s going on.”
“The history of us is this. I left you on a Monday, and Brian was back in bed with you Tuesday. He realized you still wanted me on Wednesday. On Thursday I said that ship had sailed, and ever since Friday you all keep coming together, breaking up, coming together, having the discretion to do it behind my back and not in my face. And, Tom, he’s as in love with you as he always was. And you…. You’d better not still be in love with me. If that’s what’s keeping you from Brian… Don’t let it. He’s talented. He’s beautiful. He’s a prize. He’s there. Don’t let him go.”

WHAT ARE WE?”
“Whaddo you mean, what are we?”
“Well,” Tom said, as they walked through the park, “Fenn gives me this big speech. Well, not a big speech. It was a very little one about… not screwing us up this time.”
Brian laughed.
“That implies that there was an us the last time. That there was a last time.
“Look, I always knew what was going on. Maybe sometimes I was bitter, but I always knew what I’d signed up for.”
“Fenn told me,” Tom said, “That the only thing in the way of me having anything was the idea that things weren’t over with him. He said, and I quote, you’d better not still be in love with me.”
Brian dug his hands into his pockets.
“My students at the school are getting better. The one, TJ, he shows real promise.”
“What do you think about that?” Tom said.
“About what?”
“That I can’t let go. Do you think that’s true?”
“I don’t know if it’s true. I can’t believe you’re discussing this with me.”
“But I like you. I’ve always liked you. I’m attracted to you. We have so much in common.”
“You know what I think?” Brian said.
“What?”
“I think we are two stunningly hot and talented guys. I also think, unfortunately, you were in love once. Real love, and you were so stupid you screwed it up. By screwing me. And I think that you keep on looking for that real love that most people don’t ever get. That you had. And until you get it any relationship you’re in will just sort of pale in comparison. Even the one, or ones you’ve been in with me.”
“So… how do you feel about us the way we are?”
“Most people are the way we are,” Brian said. He shrugged. “Maybe we’re just conscious of it. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
“I like Fenn. I hate that because I wasn’t able to steal your heart from him, and all I could do was break you all up I was still angry. I hate the way I’ve felt all these years. Jealous, and mean and… I’ve hated it. And now we’re building this playhouse up and doing it together, and I can finally start to live in a sort of human fashion with someone I’ve wronged… numerous times.”
Brian stopped and took Tom’s hands.
“And even if it doesn’t last, or if it’s not… What you had before, or what you’ll have in the future… I don’t mind what it is right now.”

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