Finally, I'm home. It's been a long day, and all I want is to get some rest. Order some Chinese food. I don't feel like eating Mexican leftovers. I want to drink some Merlot to help me relax and watch a rented movie.
I hear a knock on the door. “Man! Let me get my coat off and my shoes before you knock.” I yell to the unknown behind my door.
I open the door to two men in black slacks with white shirts and black ties. The young man on the left was of Asian descent, a little on the big size, his short hair cropped and thick black-rimmed glasses framing his round face. He still had an innocent look. He's holding a comprehensive bible with his hands on his chest.
The other man is tall, slim, with short blond hair. His deep, blue eyes pierced mine. His smiling face flushed as if embarrassed. "We have the wrong address," he blurts out and turns his body, hiding his face. "I’m sorry. Didn't mean to disturb you." He quickly leaves his partner's side and practically jumps down the steps to the first floor of my two-story building.
The Asian young man stares at me. Smiles and hunches his shoulders.
I close the door and stare at it, waiting for answers. Was Keith at my door? How did he find me? Was it really him? Did he see me take my hand in marriage? Will he come back to kill me dead?
I opened the door to an empty hallway. They had gone. I close it and stare at it as if it would give me the answers to tonight’s knock. I go out and walk to the top of the stairs. I slowly descend into the depths of my despair, afraid that every step would lead me to the unknown, the hopelessness, the love, the comfort, the fears, the neglect, the abuse. I scout the parking lot of the apartment complex. Nothing. There are no cars with lights on. There are no cars moving or people walking.
The parking lot is as dead as my soul. Why now? It's been twenty years, and he's at my door?
I go back to my apartment. I change into some comfortable, raggedy, old sweats. The same ones Keith wore when I was with him. A comfort I never got to throw away. His scent is a smell of euphoria and dread that has plagued my memories for years. Being in these sweats makes me feel as loved and safe as when we first met. Sometimes they made me fear all men for Keith’s self-hatred of being gay. How many times did he punish me for being the gay lover of a Mormon man?
My nightmares have come to fruition. Now he knows where I live. Now I await my death. Again. If only he would understand how he hurt me. Maybe he’ll come to apologize, and we can be together again.
I eat without tasting the pungent Orange Chicken or the small pills of death. I swallow my sweet crimson juice. My last meal. If I had known I would die today, I would have ordered Sushi and warm Sake and eaten a gallon of mint chocolate chip ice cream. His favorite. I used to like Neapolitan ice cream.
The movie passed like a moment. What was this film about? Who was in it? All I could think of was of him at my door. I hear a noise. I get up from my seat and go to the door. I scan through the peephole. Nothing. Great! I hear things. Not again. Please, not again.
The pain in my chest is so sharp, and I double down. I can feel my life-giving muscle coming up into my throat. I swallow, holding it in. My broken heart wants to follow him without me.
I turn off the television and the lights and go to bed. I’m cold, and I turn on the heater. I was freezing. I raise the temperature to seventy-eight. The heater comes on, and I look out the peephole. Again. My latest obsession for the night. Nothing. Just the pain in my chest, stronger now, radiating down my stomach and knees. Love hurts. Love is pain. Love is death.
The porcelain god in the bathroom cradles my head as my insides become outsides. Chicken bites, dozens of half dissolved pills, and crimson liquid fill the bowl. I flush the contents of my stomach along with my hopes and dreams of being married to him. Hopes and dreams of being his. Hopes and dreams of being alive and safe.
I lay in bed waiting for the Grim Ripper to take me. Maybe Somnus will take me fast. I wish Morpheus would leave me alone tonight. I’m tired.
Yet, I'm wide-awake, wondering if it really was him. It can't be. Nobody knows where I live. I've been practically a hermit all these years. I kept friends at a distance, not an arm, but a whole body away from me. I moved to a city where no one knew me. I have a P.O. Box, so no one can find out where I live. I don't have social media. No one knows where I live. How did he find me? Why is he here in this city? What have I done to deserve this torment? Have I not sacrificed enough to appease the gods?
My mind is racing. Memories from when we met. Memories of our first night together, We were each other's first time with a man. Memories of waking up in the hospital. Memories, memories, memories. Are those nightmares just memories? Memories of being hit with closed fists. Memories of wanting to die in peace.
There’s a loud noise outside. I walk over the clouds so I’m not heard to the door, and place my eye on the glass to see what it is. The neighbor coming in from work, his hard, lean body in an oversized brown coat. Since he moved in, I’ve had a crush on him, and I saw him almost naked at the pool. I cringe at the screams of his infant son coming through the door. I go back to bed, depressed.
Another thud startles me. I get up and see that it's three twenty-three in the morning. I slept for three hours. My body was in a pool of sweat. My sweat. I'm thirsty and hot. I go to the kitchen and get a glass of water. I turn the heater down to seventy; I can't do this to myself. I head to my room, and halfway there, I turn back. I walk on broken eggshells to get to the door. I peek through the damn hole that I'm getting to know too intimately. Now I understand the allure of a glory hole that my neighbor talks about regularly. If only his wife knew what he did with his free time and asked me to do it at the adult book store.
I close my eyes and lean my forehead on the door for a moment. Where is he? Am I safe? Is he here to finally marry me? Is he going to kill me for sure this time? I go back to bed.
The sun's rays warm me up. I wake gently and comfortably. I forgot to close the curtains the night before, and the glorious sun awakened me. I am alive. I am free. If it really was him and he did nothing but get away from me, I meant nothing to him.
I am free. Free from the nightmares that have plagued me for years. Now I know what he would do if he found me. Now I know what I would do if I saw him.
I take a refreshing shower, dress for the weather outside, and go to the park. I run a few miles because I’m free, not because I'm being chased.
I AM FREE!!!