[Follows " Microcosm", "Hebrews 13: 1-2 ", " The son never shines on closed doors" , "July 4th", "The Getaway", "Orpheus' path", " Clowns" , "Strange Fruit" and " C.R.P"]
Gina flopped into the chair tears splatting down in her plate. The black eye was not really black but rather a dark version of purple getting brighter as it spread on her cheekbone. Hernando’s signet ring has left a long scratch running from her temple, cutting through the eyelid and denting the bridge of her lovely freckled nose. With tears mingling with the sign of the struggle, she looks like a mess, her inward oozing outward.
Aaron was still mentally tracing his impossible way back home when he heard Jack’s phone on the glass-topped beside table. Suspicion crept instantly. He looked at the bumps on his boyfriend’s body, his sexy shaved chest, his hands behind his head flexed his arm muscles. The vibrations did not wake him up. Aaron just wanted a quick look at the phone, just to have an answer. The least sign was cause for concern. If Jack was in a bad mood in the morning, he always thought they would be done come the evening. Ill-at-ease in his black three piece suit, he would mask his inner agitation by cracking jokes with the guys as the family were gathered inside with the priest. On those days, after work, he always took a deep breath before putting the key in the lock.
Jack woke up with grunts and answered in a croaking voice. All Aaron managed to hear were tearing sobs muffled through the receiver. “ Come on honey, get a cab, Aaron and I are here for you”. This felt nice. These moments when the crippling forces of jealousy were done away with a smile, a word, an embrace. All the tensions would melt away. Aaron and I, he loved the way it sounded.
And now Gina is facing him while he hears Jack clattering the kitchen up in preparation of breakfast, the smell of coffee mingling with toast , mixed up with citrus being squeezed and the bubbling of boiling water for tea and eggs. He keeps silent as Gina is struck with a bout of sobs, both arms crossed on the table, her head buried in the middle of this heap. He feels so ineffectual. He wished he knew how to cook so he wouldn’t have to stay here in front of this poor girl, unable to give her comforting words or stroke her ginger hair tenderly promising everything is going to be okay. He feels he is being tested. He feels Jack’s watching the two of them from behind the kitchen counter evaluating his sensitivity, judging whether or not this boy was the right one. But Aaron is stuck.
And this was not the first time either. Aaron looked at him at movies as Jack ran a finger under his eyelids to wipe a lonely tear away as characters died or loved. During the evening news, he watched his right leg trembling as the spool of bad news was coldly and relentlessly unwound, caged children at the border, a missing airplane, famines or simply the local news when the presenter, in her perfectly-tailored suit looked straight at the camera to tell about the drowning of a boy in the family pool before moving on to the new lottery winner who plans to live on sausages and beer for the rest of his life. Stray cats in the streets, fledglings down from the nest, sea mammals running aground, they all were part of his emotional world, each deserved his attention, he felt their pain. Aaron stood at his side looking at this bundle of emotions, feeling cold and empty. Only when he felt or imagined Jack slipping away did it arouse panic, this was the only moment when he felt alive.
Jack’s cat comes inside the living-room and hisses as he sees Aaron. Even the cat feels it he thinks. The cat ignores Aaron’s hatred and prances his way toward Gina, rubs around her calves purring and finally hops on her lap to settle down and massage it. That hairy tramp chasing mice in the basement, going through the neighbourhood’s trash with its ridiculous pink collar, shitting in its litter while the whole world is open to him, that hairy rat is a better companion to Jack that he will ever be. It half-closes its eyes as Gina scratches on the head and swears he can see it leering at him. The good thing with cats is that they disappear some days and they are never seen again. All the poles in the block plastered with its pictures and the phone number on the strips of paper “Have you seen Scratchy? No, Aaron has strangled it and burned it at work.”
“ But I love him”. The words are heavy and feels like punches to Aaron. He looks at the poor girl bruised all over, ego and all. He imagines Hernando slapping her as soon as they left, taking his day out on her, for making him spend the night with these two maricons, the way they held their hands, the kiss he surprised as they were alone on the terrace.
“He’s got issues, drugs and stuff, I just wanted to help him”. Aaron feels sorry for the girl but he understands Hernando in a way. Mind you, he does not think the guy was justified in roughing her up. Playing fisticuffs is never justified. But a slap, a simple snapping one is sometimes all what it takes to make things right.
“ Why don’t you leave?” He hears Jack stopping whatever he is doing in the kitchen, he feels truly under scrutiny now, the next words that would come out of his mouth could be decisive.
“But I love him”. This proves too much for Aaron.
“Listen to me Gina. Whatever you did, you did not deserve this. Did you take a good look at you? It’s not just your face, it’s all that’s inside, the guy’s ruining you. Jack told me about the cheating. This was not the first time was it? ?o you go out of your ways every day to hide it all? You’re hiding it all from you, you don’t want to see it but girl, you’re a wreck. I don’t really know you but I can tell you deserve better than this spic.” He thinks his father is in the room.
“That’s racist” is all what she manages to utter out of shock.
“Well he called me queen “just for fun” I guess that makes us even”
Aaron stands up and leaves the room. He doesn’t want to look at Jack’s face. He doesn’t want to have breakfast with this lot.