Christopher, Craig & Co.
Part 60: Loose Ends.
Don’t ask me where the next week went; most of it passed in a blur. Following my harrowing experience in the trunk of the car, Scott drove me home. I’d been faced with having to explain about my panic attacks to Wade, and he was trying very hard to keep an eye on me. That wasn’t what I wanted him spending his time doing, but it was sweet of him to be so concerned. I was once again reminded how lucky I was to have Wade in my life, but at the same time I felt guilty. Wade was still a kid, and he should be having a lot more fun and worrying a lot less than he does living here with me.
Scott was busy attending classes, working at the bar, and working for the F.B.I. I got the impression his bosses were looking for much more progress from his investigation than they were getting. Like Wade, Scott seemed to be keeping a closer eye on me this week. I knew I was to blame for that—I had allowed Scott to see me in one of my weakest moments, and his protective urges had kicked in. On the upside he was seriously considering singing at an upcoming open mic night, having had to postpone his debut the last time due to a work-related reason he was unable or unwilling to share. Scott’s involvement with the F.B.I. was a subject he rarely brought up. I understood the position he was in, and I tried to be an adult about it. It wasn’t as if I’d been offering full disclosure of my activities.
The week passed: I worked, taught my class, and succeeded in postponing any and all hypnosis sessions. I was still waiting for the other shoe to drop with Richard, but I hadn’t seen or heard from him since our run in at the Club. I had devised several scenarios ending with his disappearance from society, but I wasn’t completely sure I could hypnotize him, and I knew that no matter how much I hated him I wasn’t a cold-blooded killer and therefore wouldn’t be able to plot his murder. In the heat of the moment when he was attacking me, yes, I probably could bash in his skill with any number of his ridiculously expensive and priceless antique pottery pieces, but to buy a gun at a pawnshop and stealthily approach his house under cover of darkness, creep into his bedroom while he slept unaware, and shoot him execution style?
I had seen way too many film noirs.
I was trying to convince myself that if I wanted it badly enough I could have a normal life. Saturday morning I realized that wasn’t as readily available an option as I’d hoped.
I was at my computer, catching up on email, when the doorbell rang. Both Scott and Wade were still asleep upstairs, having worked late the night before, so I hurried to answer the door before the bell rang again.
I was surprised to find Andrew on my doorstep. He flashed me a dimpled grin. “Hey, Christopher.”
“Andrew, come in. I thought Wade said you were working this weekend.” I shut the door behind him; the winter wind had kicked up and it was cold outside.
“The mall’s not open yet. I’ve been working on my thesis this morning.”
“Oh,” I led the way to the kitchen. “Wade’s not up yet. Can I get you some coffee?”
I poured him a cup and we settled at the kitchen table. I noticed he was wearing his running shoes. “How are things going?” I asked.
“Pretty good. I picked up a couple extra shifts at the store this week. And I finished my economics paper.”
“Yep. If I can take four classes this summer I should be able to graduate a semester early.”
“That’s wonderful. But will you be able to balance work and classes this summer and still have time to have any sort of life?”
He shrugged. “If I have to sacrifice a little in order to get done with school early, it’s worth it. Once I have my degree I can get a real job and get out of the shoe store and on to bigger and better things.”
“I suppose,” I said. “Have you told Wade all of this?”
“No. Not yet. We haven’t been able to see much of each other this week.”
So I’d heard. Wade had been a bit disappointed that Andrew was so busy. In fact, Scott told me Wade was wondering if Andrew was losing interest in him. I wasn’t sure how I felt about Wade confiding in Scott. I was glad he had a close friend he felt that comfortable with, but I felt a little left out when Wade didn’t discuss these things with me. It was times like these that I stopped and realized that one day Wade was going to want to move out and have his own life. And I knew I was going to be very depressed when that came to pass.
I was interested in finding out where Wade and Andrew stood, if only to be prepared if Wade was going to need a lot of ice cream. I tried for a delicate way to word my next question. “Are you two not as in touch as you once were?” That sounded ridiculous even to me.
“No, nothing like that,” Andrew said. “Why?”
I shrugged. “No reason,” I lied. “You just haven’t been around much.”
“I’ve just been busy is all.” He took a sip of coffee.
“Shine your shoes,” I said, and waited for him to enter his suggestive state. “Andrew, how are you really doing?”
“Great!” he replied.
“You’re doing okay with school and work and everything else?”
I frowned. Andrew did seem to be happy with this latest attitude shift/pair of shoes. I knew in my heart that Wade would be happier if I altered Andrew’s instructions a bit to include more time in his life for Wade, but as much as I love Wade I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Hypnotizing Andrew was supposed to be about Andrew, not Wade. And besides, it could all work out for the best in a couple of days anyway. At least, that was what I told myself before I brought Andrew out of his trance.
“You think I could go upstairs and see Wade?” he asked.
I shrugged again. “I think he’d be glad to see you.”
Andrew flashed me a grin and darted down the hall to the staircase.
I took a slug of coffee and sighed. What if my meddling in Andrew’s dominant personality traits was complicating Wade’s relationship? Should I have attempted to shift things in Wade’s favor while I had Andrew under? I shook my head. There were no easy answers.
Craig, of all people, came to mind. I had hypnotized him into the perfect, mindless, devoted slave and lover. And it hadn’t made me happy. Adjusting men’s attitudes with hypnosis was one thing; altering their feelings was another. Besides, from all I’d seen and learned I knew that though I could match people up for sex, it was impossible to create love with hypnotic suggestion. And as sad as it was, sex without love eventually became empty and meaningless and left both partners ready to move on.
I made my way back to the computer and set about typing up the parameters for a research assignment I was planning to assign in class this week.
The phone rang so I reached for it absently. “Hello?”
I knew that voice. I hadn’t heard it in awhile, but it made me smile. My very own Queer Pizza Boy. “Hi, Mike. It’s good to hear from you!” I said. I meant it, too.
“I hope it’s not too early to call…”
“Not at all. But I’d think it’s early for you. What’s it, about seven there?”
“Yes. Actually, I’m at the airport. I’m catching a flight back to New York this morning and I was wondering if you’d have any time this week to catch up? I’ve got to do a couple of appearances this weekend, but I figured since I was going to be practically in town… It’d be great to see you.”
I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was something Mike wasn’t saying. It didn’t matter, though. I had often wondered what Mike’s life had been like since he’d left for the west coast. Despite a couple of short letters from him, I hadn’t really heard much about his new life. “Of course. Just give me a call when you hit town.”
“Thanks, Christopher. Talk to you later.” Mike disconnected.
I set the phone down, wondering what that was about. Something in his voice made me wonder if encouraging him to follow his dream and move to California had been a mistake.
Ah, well, I’d find out soon enough.
I was just getting back into my research assignment when I heard a car pull up out front and two car doors slam. I pushed aside the blinds and saw Marty and Lee approaching the front door.
I scrambled to the door before either of them could ring the bell. I was completely certain I didn’t want to have to explain their presence to Scott.
Lee’s hand was raised to press the bell when I opened the door. He looked surprised to see me. “Christopher, good morning!”
“Come on in, guys.” I ushered them into the den and out of the line of sight of the staircase.
Marty paused and bent to begin removing his boots.
“You can leave them on,” I said.
He smiled and straightened up.
I gestured for them to sit on the couch. I perched on the arm of my chair. “I trust everything went okay?”
“Better than ok,” Lee said. “I would have had Marty back here sooner, but he proved to be quite popular with the producers of the show. He may have a future in the entertainment industry. As it stands his image will be gracing several promotional articles for the show.”
I cringed. That may or may not open an entire Pandora’s box. Well, it was too late to worry about it now.
“So you had a good time, Marty?”
“It was awesome.”
“I got some great new stuff while I was there,” he added.
Lee smiled. “They let him keep some of the product placements.”
It suddenly occurred to me that my hosting skills were lacking. “I’m sorry,” I said. “Would either of you like a cup of coffee or anything?”
Lee shook his head. “No, I must be getting back. I’ll be sure to pass along word as soon as I’m apprised of an airdate. You’ll want to see this one, mate.”
I suspected I’d be amazed at what I saw.
“Perhaps we can get together for dinner soon?” he continued, getting to his feet.
“Sounds good. I’ll call you later in the week.”
Marty stood, too. “I need to get back to my place. This was fun and all, but I wonder if I can even catch up in my classes. I might have to just drop this semester.”
I shook my head. “Give it your best effort. I’m sure you can pull it off. You didn’t miss that much actual class time.”
Lee offered his hand and I shook it. “Always a pleasure doing business with you, Christopher.”
I laughed and walked them to the front door.
I opened it and winced when I realized someone was standing outside: Nick. Before I could even say hello he began talking.
“Christopher, look at this!” He held up a handbill promoting a personal appearance by adult film star Mike Tool. “Mike’s coming to town this weekend. And he’s been making pornos since he left!”
Nick walked in the door, kicked off his sneakers, and thrust the sheet at me.
I studied the paper. Mike Tool? I rolled my eyes. That must be Michael Taylor’s nom de guerre.
“Nick?” Lee’s voice trembled.
Nick turned at the sound of the voice. It was a toss-up as to which of them looked more startled. “Uncle Lee?”
I glanced between the two of them.