I felt like I walked in between the living and the dead after Freckles ended contact with me. Nothing seemed to matter to me anymore. To be given the one thing I wanted, only to have it taken away just as I fully realized the greatness of it, was just devastating.
I played through so many scenarios as I picked up the pieces of my heart, completely confounded by where I went wrong. I kept asking myself what I said or what I did that made him turn against me. I kept thinking about that night we last messaged each other. I thought it had ended on a positive note.
What did I miss? Something was said, something I did or didn’t do, I missed something, somewhere. I was certain of it. Like a broken record, playing the same verse over and over, I kept replaying that night, re-reading our conversation, trying to figure out what went wrong. I was convinced that it was my fault, that I had done something wrong; Damien was too incredible, too altruistic, too genuine and honorable to have willingly just abandoned me.
I remembered that he had sent me a message about having a lot of thoughts going through his head. Back then I assumed he meant us and those guys we got into a fight with. Looking back, I realized that I may have been wrong. There was something more going on with Damien than he had let on that night. There were other troubles he was facing and he was trying to tell me, but couldn’t figure out how. Me being the impatient fool that I was, I took away his chance of saying anything more when I brought up his excellent grammar.
Such a fool I was. Such a fool. All I had wanted was to be the one person he could turn to about anything and the moment when he was actually trying to reach out to me, I was completely oblivious.
How does someone go back and undo what they have done? How do you go back to a moment lost in time and do it over again, the right way? You don’t. You can’t. What’s lost to time is lost and you can’t go back and you can’t relive it.
When I creeped over his Facebook page, I didn’t see anything negative. It seemed as though all was well. There had to have been something he wanted to talk to me about, something was bothering him enough to reach out to me and I was hell bent on finding out what, I just didn’t know how. I didn’t know why he never attempted to get back in touch with me, if he wasn’t mad at me or didn’t lose interest in me, then why did he never reply to me? Why the silence?
There was only one way to find out. I had to do it. I had to know what happened. If there was ever anything in my life worth fighting for, it was Freckles. I found hope again, I reclaimed the belief that we were meant to meet a second time and that it was meant for more than those twelve or so hours we spent together. Every choice we made in our lives had brought us to that second chance meeting that late summer day. I wasn’t going to let it end like that.
I took off early one Friday afternoon and headed to Vale Tech. If Damien wouldn’t reply to me then I had to seek him out in person.
I pulled into the parking lot outside the school and drove around until I found his truck. I parked a few spaces down. I knew it was probably crazy and might freak him out at my reluctance to accept his abandonment of me and showing up at his place of work, but my gut told me that I had to do this. Even if I was completely wrong and he did indeed want nothing to do with me anymore, I needed to know why and how he could have been such a cowardly douche bag about it.
For a September day, the sun was still invitingly warm. Though the nights were cooler, the coming of Autumn kept the days warm and as I sat in my car, rehearsing what I would say to Damien when he saw me, I felt re-charged and comforted by the sunlight shining through my car windows.
Opening the door, I scanned the lot to see if anyone else was walking about. I didn’t want to look suspicious standing around the lot and have the cops called on me. Getting questioned and possibly even arrested when I had no legitimate reason for being in the parking lot on school grounds, where Freckles could see me, would have been a horrible mishap to an already crazy plan.
Really it wasn’t a plan, I had no plan. I was being impulsive and audaciously brave. That’s what love does to someone and I was convinced that I indeed had been falling for Freckles from the first moment I saw him across the room in Subway. If ever I believed I had met “The One,” that very moment would have been it. And now, in the school parking lot, I was willing to do anything I had to, to make things right again.
I pulled out my phone to check the time, I expected Damien to be arriving at his truck any minute. As usual, my heart was pounding in my chest. So much time had passed since I last saw him, it was like I was about to meet him again for the first time all over. Or maybe that’s how he would always make me feel? I didn’t know because this was only going to be the third time he and I had crossed paths.
Fear struck me, I was so nervous, I could feel my hands start to shake. Thoughts about how he may react to my presence started flowing through my mind and I started to feel panicky. I wondered if my presence would make him angry. The thought that Freckles may not want to see me at all was terrifying and crushing. The thought that he may actually hate me would absolutely destroy me if proven to be true.
My courage began to melt away and every cell in my body said to turn and run, to run away before Damien saw me there standing next to his truck, waiting for him like some kind of clingy, clueless idiot. I felt sick to my stomach, like I could have puked right there in the parking lot.
I kept waiting, moments turned to fifteen minutes, which turned to thirty minutes. People had started pouring out of the buildings and driving out of the parking lot. With every passing stare from the strangers all around me, I felt more and more incredibly stupid for standing there like some distraught girlfriend.
I wondered where he was, why he hadn’t left yet. I wondered if perhaps Megan had met him at work earlier in the day and picked him up for an afternoon together and that he may not be back until that night. The thought that she was having a great and wonderful relationship with Freckles made me feel sick to my stomach again.
Jealously, as if I didn’t have to deal with enough emotions. Surely I had gone through the gauntlet of feelings enough for that afternoon, I couldn’t think of anything I had not yet felt. I struggled to make a decision, to stay and wait or to let it go and leave.
Unable to take anymore emotions, I turned to hurry back to my car, my tail between my legs, a true coward if ever I was one. It was just too much. Perhaps not so much seeing Freckles, but hearing the truth right from his lips that he indeed didn’t want anything to do with me anymore.
As I turned and walked around the front of his truck, back towards my car, my heart stopped and the Earth shook beneath my feet. Standing there between me and my car was the one person I didn’t want to see. Freckles.
I couldn’t breathe. My lungs wouldn’t work, just the sight of him knocked the air right out of me. It was the scariest moment of my life.
I stood there motionless, like a deer in the headlights. Every muscle in my body screamed to move, to walk the long way around him, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t move a step in any direction.
My eyes locked with his, it felt like one of those Western movies where the sheriff and the outlaw are about to have a duel, each daring the other to make the first move. I looked into his face to see what expression he had, but Damien’s face was without expression.
In khakis and a blue polo adorned with the school’s insignia, and in his trademark cowboy boots and ball cap on his head, pulled down just above his eyes, the very hat I once held in my hands, he stared at me with a gaze that showed no emotion.
Stepping forward towards him I began, “Damien, I just wanted…”
“No!” Damien interrupted me and began walking aggressively towards me. Startled, I took a few steps back, shocked and horrified that he would be so threatening towards me.
He kept coming at me and got right in my face. I couldn’t speak, not a single word was uttered out of my mouth.
“How fucking dare you show your face here,” Damien continued, “How fucking dare you stand out here, waiting for me after all this time!”
Anger had come over him, his face morphed into what felt like pure hatred towards me. It didn’t feel real, it didn’t feel real to me at all, just some nightmare I couldn’t wake up from. I thought of asking him how he knew I was waiting for him, but there was no point. I was standing next to his truck, it was obvious, there was no backing out now.
“Me!?!?” I demanded justification from him as tears began to well up in my eyes, “At least I’ve made a fucking attempt to talk to you, in fact I sent you two messages to which you never fucking replied to me, you fucking asshole!”
I could feel the anger swelling inside of me and for a moment I thought that he and I were about to come to blows.
“You have no fucking idea what I’ve gone through these past few weeks!” Damien exclaimed.
“What?!?!” I shouted in confusion, bewildered as to what he was talking about.
“I’ve been through hell these past few weeks!” He responded, “I was at my breaking point and I fucking needed you!”
“What?!?!” I was dumbfounded, “What the hell are you talking about?”
Freckles looked me in the eyes and the anger on his face just vanished. The look that remained is one I will never forget. A look of complete defeat, of exhausted desperation. His gaze fell from my eyes and down to our feet. His body just gave way and he collapsed to his hands and knees and he began crying.
Though muffled in an attempt to stop himself from being heard, I could see his whole body shaking, as he knelt, hunched over at my feet. My head was spinning, nothing was going as I had played out in my head. Not a single foreseen scenario that I had anticipated was happening, I hadn’t practiced for this bizarre turn of events.
I reached down to touch Damien on the shoulder and as my hand touched his shirt he flung himself back up and shoved me into his truck. His right hand against my chest. He had me pinned against his fender, he was red in the face, tears streaming down, the blood vessels in his arms pumped full, I could feel the power in his emotions.
“Man, you have got to tell me what the hell is going on right now, I’m so lost, I have no idea what’s happening!” I cried out.
He sniffled loudly and wiped his face with the back of his left arm. He took a deep breath, trying to regain his composure.
In a cracked voice he asked, “You know that stuff you saw me take that night we hung out?”
“Yeah?” I answered.
“Those were pills and no I don’t have a prescription, I’ve been fucking addicted for a year, that’s the real reason Megan broke off our wedding. She told me to quit and I couldn’t and honestly I didn’t want to. She didn’t just call off the wedding, she dumped me too, we haven’t even spoken since I left Terryville. That’s the real reason I came here, to get away from the pain.” Freckles confessed.
“Wow, I didn’t know dude, I didn’t know. I mean I wondered about the pills, but I had no idea about all of that. I don’t know what to say, I’m sorry man.” I honestly didn’t know what else to say to him.
“When you asked me about them that night, I freaked out because I thought I was going to relive that moment Megan turned against me all over again. The night she left me. It fucking killed me man, she wouldn’t even talk to me anymore.” He vented, “I feared that if you knew, you’d kick me out of your life too.”
“Wait a second, you and Megan haven’t talked since you moved away from Terryville? You haven’t been hanging out with her since we last saw each other?” I asked, confused by the Facebook posts I had seen.
“No, she hasn’t spoken or even messaged to me since then, why?” He asked.
I didn’t know if I should confess that I stalked him on Facebook or not. If they were not together anymore, why did he post on Facebook that they were hanging out? Was their break-up a secret? Did other people not know they were no longer together? Were his posts fake?
The irony of the moment that was unfolding before me was hard to wrap my brain around. I didn’t even know how to surmount it. I decided no to mention the Facebook creeping thing.
“Dude, I am truly sorry about Megan hurting you, but don’t you realize that you did the same thing to me? I mean, you just completely shut me out without giving me any reason at all, you just disappeared. Man, that hurt so much, I felt so betrayed, so abandoned.” I opened up, making myself completely vulnerable.
“I know man, I am so fucking sorry.” Damien said, his right hand still on my chest, pressing me against his truck, “I didn’t know what else to do, I thought you were going to stop talking to me if you found out. So I stopped talking to you before you had the chance to hurt me.”
All the things he made me feel, his aggression and now his sorrow, it was all about fear. The fear of being abandoned. At that point, I just wanted to hug him and to tell him how I felt.
“I don’t know where to begin telling you what these last few weeks have been like for me. It’s almost been a month since I last saw you and each passing day felt like an eternity. And yet as we stand here in this parking lot, I feel as though it was yesterday. With each passing week I’ve felt everything from worry, to pain, to anger and everything else in between.” I said, caving to the demands of my heart to open up to him.
Damien looked at me for a brief moment, studying my eyes and my face, looking for answers to questions that I couldn’t perceive. Neither of us said anything, as I waited for his response. Underneath his hand, my chest would rise and fall with every breath. I could feel the heat penetrating my chest from his hand. His palm, his fingertips, I could feel every part of his hand against me.
“What are you saying exactly?” He asked, “Why did it upset you so much, I mean, really we only hung out that one day?”
I knew at that moment, it was time to come clean.
I retold the story to the most important audience there was, “Dude, I need to tell you something. That day at the fair was not the first time we’ve met. In fact, we met years ago, when I was only 18 years old. You were going to Vale Tech at the time, the first time you went there. I was at Subway in town with one of my buddies, when you and your friend walked in.”
“Say what? Did we talk? Cause I don’t remember this.” Damien asked.
“No man, we didn’t talk at all, but we did make eye contact.” I told him.
“Eye contact? That’s it? Dude, I see a lot of people, how am I supposed to remember one dude in a restaurant a long ass time ago?” He asked.
“I don’t know, I guess I just hoped that you would have remembered me, as I remembered you.” I said.
“Well, sorry dude, but I don’t recall seeing you before.” Damien said.
“It’s more than that man. There’s more to it than just remembering you when I saw your face again. The truth is I’ve remembered you every day since the first day I saw you those years ago and I’ve waited years for the chance to see you again and actually meet you properly and get to know you.” My voice cracked towards the end, as I feared his response.
He stood there, his eyes getting bigger with every word out of my mouth. His lips slowly slipped apart and his mouth hung open as every word out of my mouth traveled through his mind.
“What the fuck, bro!?!?” He exclaimed at the end, “What are you saying!?”
“Man, I think you know what I’m saying. I mean, come on dude, after we hung out, you can’t possibly tell me that you didn’t notice? You can’t be completely oblivious to it, my instincts tell me that you know, that you have known all along.” I said with a sense of sureness.
He paused again for a moment, looking into my eyes, “Wait, are you saying you’re a fag?”
“Really? A fag? Is that the best you can say?” I said, annoyed.
He jerked his hand away from my chest, “Whoa man, I ain’t no queer!” Damien asserted with a sense of cocky bravado, as if to maintain his manhood.
“Don’t do this,” I said, fearing he would freak out needlessly and end our conversation before it needed to, “We just need to talk this out and get on the same page!”
“Man, I’m not a faggot, so whatever you’re trying to get at, forget it, cause I’m not gay!” He proclaimed again.
“Damien stop, I didn’t say or suggest you’re gay, I know very well that you’re not a girly little queer, you don’t need to prove to me or convince me otherwise.” I said, trying to calm him down.
He was getting uncomfortable and antsy, I could tell he wanted the subject matter to change or he was going to end the conversation completely and walk away. Despite that, I knew that it was now or never, he couldn’t possibly hurt me anymore than he already had.
“Then what!? What are you trying to tell me!?” He demanded.
“I have feelings for you!!!” I shouted, it was so sudden that I didn’t even expect myself to say it, I was surprised by my own words and gasped at the end of my sentence.
Damien’s eyes got big again and his mouth flew open, “Holy fucking shit!!!” He announced, “Wow, wasn’t expecting that!”
“God, this day is crazy as hell, this month has been fucking crazy as hell, but please you have to realize that I first saw you a long time ago. I’ve had years to think, remember and wonder. You’ve had like a month. I’m new to you, but you’re not new to me.” I said, trying to smooth out the shock of the moment, desperately hoping he wasn’t completely repulsed by my confession.
He lowered his head, still in shock, shaking it back and forth. He put his left hand on the top of his hat and took a few steps back, “I can’t believe this is happening right now! Man, I can’t deal with this shit right now, I’ve got too much to handle as it is and now the only guy in this town that I have as a friend just tells me he’s got the hots for me?”
“Whoa!” I yelled out, “Let’s make better choices in words, you make it sound weird as hell. I’ve got the hots for you? Really man, that’s how you want to see it?”
“How else am I supposed to take it!?!?” Freckles shouted back.
“It’s a lot more than just a gay ass crush, I have deep feelings for you!” I proclaimed.
“That’s not helping!” He screamed.
“Okay, okay, let’s just stop for a second and take a breather! Let’s ground ourselves in this moment and just breath for a second!” I commanded.
“Fine!” Damien shouted, throwing his hands up and walking in circles.
We stayed there in the parking lot, hours had passed since I had first arrived and the sun was going down. I knew I had to get a grip on how this conversation was going to end and I needed to maintain control over myself and over Damien’s responses, I had to make sure we found a place of compromise.
I started out, “Look, my feelings for you are not just based on sexual impulse…”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get it man, you want me to be your boyfriend, what chick or fag doesn’t?” Damien said cutting me off.
“Your ego is not helping right now!” I said in frustration at his continued jump to conclusions.
“What I’m trying to say is that I care about you deeply, without condition. There is no one else in this world more important to me than you, no one else I’d rather spend time with than you.” I confessed.
“Dude, you gotta dial it down a little, you’re killing me man, I can’t handle all of this shit at once, you’re freaking me out!” He pleaded.
“I’m sorry, I just want you to understand me, where I’m coming from, what I think of you.” I surrendered.
Damien came up to me and put his hands on my shoulders, “I know man, I get it, you like me, I understand that. You like me the way that girls like me, you have feelings for me, I get it, really I do. I’m flattered I guess, though completely weirded out by it.”
“I want to be your best friend.” I admitted with a childish sense of defeat.
“And I want to be yours, I need a best friend right now, my life is a wreck and I have problems I can’t deal with on my own.” Damien said with the utmost seriousness, “But dude, I just can’t let you touch my wiener.”
Freckles laughed hysterically at his comment. I rolled my eyes and tried to maintain my composure.
“And don’t ask me to put my dick in your butt!” He laughed.
“Wow, thanks for making this incredibly awkward man! And who said I ever wanted you to?” I said, holding my face in my hands from embarrassment. At least he was taking it lightheartedly and no longer freaking out unnecessarily.
“Isn’t that what faggots like doing? Butt sex?” He asked.
I had no idea how to answer him. I took a moment to gather my thoughts, this was definitely not how I thought this conversation would go or the setting in which we’d ever have this conversation, but if he wanted answers right at that moment, then I owed that much to him.
“A lot of gay men have anal sex, yes, that’s true, but no not all do. It’s personal preference.” I answered.
“Have you?” He asked innocently.
“Uh… I can’t believe you’re asking me this… I’ve tried it before, yes.” I answered with embarrassment.
“Did you like it?” Damien asked.
If it wouldn’t have been for the fact that I knew he was just trying to figure out where I was coming from, how I felt and my intentions towards him, I would not have entertained his awkward questions. However, I knew he needed immediate clarity and understanding about me.
“Honestly, no, I didn’t, it’s not what other gay men make it out to be. Just like with straight people, it’s nothing like what they make it in porn. It’s nothing worth bragging about and I have no intention of doing it again in the future. It doesn’t matter to me anymore.” I told him.
“So then what do you do with other guys?” He asked.
“We’re getting side-tracked here, can we maybe talk about this another time, I just feel really weird as hell talking about it right now after what just happened and after the past month of feeling like total shit about myself?” I pleaded.
“Alright bro, I have to get going anyway, I will message you later on and maybe tomorrow night we can hang and talk some more, get this shit between us settled and squared away?” Damien asked.
“Yeah, man that would be nice,” I said, holding my arms out signaling him to hug me, “Come on man we need to hug it out.”
“Dude, really? After you just told me you like my body… Haha!?!?” He laughed aloud, “Just giving you grief, I’m man enough to handle it.”
Damien closed the space between us and for the first time we hugged, complete body contact and it was the greatest thing I’d ever felt. I had no idea if he truly understood how much I cared about him or liked him, but it meant a great deal to me that we had seemingly resolved our misunderstanding and were on our way to repairing the deep damage that had been done.
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