Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.
May you be embraced by a love beyond recall that alters others
and a love within recall that alters you.
“Oh, got secrets to tell the old man.” He followed Harris up the stairs with a couple of cups of coffee. “Just like the old days.”
Harris sat as his desk and his Dad sat on the bed.
“Dad, why did you tell me about this curse business?”
“My Dad didn’t tell me till I‘d gotten married.”
“You married younger than I am now.” He licked frosting off his fingers.
“I was worried, afraid that your not knowing was getting the the way.”
“I can’t help feeling that no one sincerely likes me, that they are under a spell where they don’t have any choice. Some mornings I’ve been afraid to leave my apartment, not knowing when its going to happen.”
He told his Dad about the security footage, about Mamma Pazzoni trying to break into his apartment to break his neck for breaking her son’s heart.
“We can get a restraining order against that woman. One thing divorce lawyers learn to deal with is angry women.”
“That’s not the point Dad. I don’t want to have to deal with these types of consequences for things that aren’t my fault.”
“I know. I know. I went to a shrink for a few years, before I met your mother, to see if I could get to the roots of why I wasn’t connecting. When my father told me things fell into place but that understanding didn’t take away the fact that I had to deal with it.”
“But you didn’t have to fight it after you met mom, right. You said it stopped.”
“Pretty much. I had to work at it though. With what my father told me I was aware and was determined to act on that awareness. I learned to recognize the …. the on set of opportunity and to steer clear of it. When I consistently said ‘no,’ it happened less and less and finally stopped.”
“So you’re saying that even though I’m not responsible I am responsible.”
“Right.” he Dad laughed. “Have you told anyone?”
“Trevor Daniels. He doesn’t fully believe me. Or didn’t till I told him about that Frances and her deranged fiancee. I’m not sure he accepts it though. Who would.”
“You boys going to be up there all day?” His mother called up. “Your phone keeps ringing, Harris.”
“We’ll be right down.” His Dad finished off the last brownie. “Seems like years since we’ve had a father son talk. Feels good. Hope it helped.”
“I guess it did.”
Downstairs Harris checked his phone for messages. None. Missed calls were from an unknown number. He got his clothes out of the drier and dressed in his old room. There was a full sized poster of Cyclops on the back of the door. He could remember arguing with Timmy, one of the Mullins boys, about Cyclops’s abs – Tommy said they were part of the costume and Harris insisted they were part of Cyclops’s body. Reality was how one saw it, he supposed.
He went downstairs.
“Here’s brownies to take home with you, dear.” His mother put a container of them on the table by the front door. “Did you tell him, Tom?”
“I forgot. we got to talking about other things.”
“Tell me what?”
“Your cousin Michael is coming to town.” His Dad shrugged.
There was a look between his parents Harris didn’t understand.
“He’s staying here?”
“Oh, no. He’ll be at a big hotel. He’s a movie star, you know.” his mother explained.
“Now you’re telling me.”
“As you are aware I haven’t been much in touch with that sister of mine or her family.”
“He’s in those Mirror Mind movies.”
“What! I’ve seen the first two. The next one is coming out in the fall. I don’t remember any Michael Caldwell?”
“No. He acts as Marshall Caldwell. I read in the paper that the name was his mother’s idea. But I don’t know what part he plays. Clara sent the DVDs. I can’t be bothered with them. Do you want them?”
They were on the table beside the brownies. It was still pouring so he called for a taxi.
Marshall Travers. Harris wasn’t sure who was who in the movies. The series was about a bunch of what he considered, photogenic thumbs suffering to weepy music. Their reflected mirror selves and their physical selves were at war with one another. The reflected selves had powers like shape shifting and could dart into the real world while the physical selves remained human.
He was getting into the elevator at his condo when his phone rang.
“It’s Alex. I’ve been tryin’ to get ya all afternoon.”
“I told you I’d be at my parents.” he snapped.
Harris felt guilty now. He didn’t really know Alex but already felt he had endanger their relationship.
“I’m just getting home. Where are you?”
“Not t’far, I reckon. By Greendale station.”
“Come on over.”
Harris has assumed that like Mamma Pazzoni Alex knew where he lived.
“Plaza Place. Tower 2. Buzz 512. Suite 1802.”
Harris put the brownies in the fridge. Went to the bedroom and checked to see how fresh his sheets where. They were fine. The buzzer rang.
“That didn’t take long. Come on up.”
Would he have to explain Andy Humphun?
When Harris had said no to him dropping by the other day Alex almost tore the phone off the booth wall. He banged the receiver against the plastic wall as hard as he could. Didn’t this fat jerk-off get how hard it was for a guy like himself to make that kind of call. Didn’t he see how slimy he felt using pay phones to keep Linda from finding out.
He’d always found it hard enough to call women. Calling a man for a date to have it put off made him see red. A red that stuck with him through the rest of day. After that call he went directly to the KB Gym to workout. Punching and kicking the bag didn’t reduce his need for something more.
At Story he was restless and inattentive, even swore at one customer. The Story crowd was such a bunch of lame ass losers anyway. At least at McBrick there would be a fight every week or so. A dust-up a man like him could handle.
At Story he was lucky if a customer got frustrated looking for a contact lens they had dropped on the floor.
When he got home from work he didn’t want to do anything, talk to anyone. Linda was asleep when he slipped into the bed. When he felt her hand stray on to his stomach he rolled away.
“What’s the matter? Baby don’t want to play.”
He didn’t want to have anything to do with her.
“Tired. In the morning.”
“Ahh, needs encouragement.” She played with his balls.
“No.” he pushed her hand away.
She sat up. “You’re fucking someone else. I knew it. The last time you had been that hot for me was when you were getting it off that skank Debbie. Guilt sex.”
“Jezz Linda. Can’t a guy sleep.”
“Not this guy.” she bit him playful on the shoulder.
“Yes, this guy.” he pulled the sheet back over his shoulders. “Let’s just get some sleep for a change, okay.”
“Whatever.” she lay back down, her back to his.
When he woke shortly before noon she was gone. One less thing to deal with. It was pouring rain.
While his bagel toasted he checked the time. What time had Harris said to call? Late afternoon? No harm in trying now. He punched the first numbers into his cell and stopped. No. Linda might see them. The bagel began to burn. He yanked it out of the toaster, singed his fingers. He swore, kicked a kitchen chair at the wall and punched one of the cupboard doors.
“Fuck fuck fuck.” What had this guy done to him. He couldn’t get him out his mind. Why?
He went on the computer to the gay porn he had bookmarked. The clip was about sixteen minutes long. If that was how long queer sex lasted he could probably manage that to get it out of his system. He watched it twice all the way through. The guys had such big cocks Alex wasn’t sure if they were real. If this is what Harris expected he hoped he wouldn’t be too disappointed. His cock wasn’t small by any means but it certainly wasn’t abnormally large like these peckers.
Fuck fuck fuck. Why was we worried about how another guy would judge his dick. If it was more than enough for Linda it should be more than enough for that fat-assed faggot.
He went to the gym and worked on the areas of his body he had missed the other day. Two days of this should drain away that energy but added to it.
He went to the pay phone there a couple of times to call Harris but there was no answer. What was the point of having a cellphone if the fucker never answered it?
The rain was worse when he left the gym. He didn’t want to go back to his place. He stopped for a coffee and sat glaring at the rain. He couldn’t sit still and walked aimless for awhile.
When he stopped at a pay phone by Greendale station and tried one more time he was soaked. Water was dripping through his pants into his shoes and socks.
“Hi!” Harris answered on the first ring.
“It’s Alex.” A wave of relief went through him. “I’ve been trying t’get ya all afternoon.”
“I told you I’d be at my parents.”
“I’m just getting home. Where are you?”
“Greendale station.” He’d better not put me off again.
“Come on over.”
“Plaza Place. Tower 2. Buzz 9512. Suite 1802.”
Alex repeated the numbers as he ran though the rain. Hell, if he forgot he’d use his cellphone. He didn’t give a fuck what Linda thought.
Shivering he pressed the buzz code in.
“That didn’t take long. Come on up.”
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