dontravis.com blog post #608
Poor Chuck, Nirvana slipped between his fingers (is that a tortured metaphor?) with the accidental death of his beloved Becky. But that’s not the end of the story. Let’s see what happens next.
BECKY ISN’T HERE ANYMORE
The following spring, one of the associates at my architectural firm mentioned that a college friend of his son’s needed a place to stay for a short period. The young man was apprenticing at a local computer chip factory for the summer. Inasmuch as I was alone in my house, which was near the manufacturing facility, I impulsively volunteered to allow him to stay with me. I must confess I experienced many an anxiety before the June date for the young man’s arrival rolled around.
But arrive, it finally did. He insisted he could make it to my house from the airport on his own. Ergo, when I heard the doorbell chime one Saturday morning in early June, I opened the door and stood as if pole axed.
My mysterious young man from Hawaii stood smiling and handsome on my porch. Well, it wasn’t the same young man, but the resemblance was strong—overwhelming—and my reaction the same—overwhelmed.
“Mr. Pierce? Hi, I’m Kielani Snider.”
Still mentally reeling, I accepted his hand. “Kielani… you mean, Kiel?”
“That’s the way most folks know me. But it’s actually Kielani.”
“Yes, sir. My mom’s from the Islands, and she hung that label on me. Means ‘Glorious Chief.’ Kinda pretentious, so I just use Kiel.”
I recovered enough to invite him and his two big bags inside.
Once I got over the shock of the meeting, Kiel proved to be a proper and gregarious young man. Eager to be liked, and easy to like. I had planned on taking him for dinner on his first night in town, but we got to talking and ended up munching on a tuna salad sandwich while we talked about my recent loss.
He had picked up on Becky’s presence… and her absence. Her presence in the room, by photos of her on the mantlepiece, the Hawaiian blanket hung as a tapestry in the dining room, her little statuettes scattered throughout the house. Her absence by the fact she wasn’t here.
Reluctant at first, I soon found talking about her with this personable young man was liberating. I’d expected a teenager as a temporary roomer, but what I got was a reasonably mature twenty-year-old—only nine years younger than I—capable of discussing unexpected things.
We quickly established a bond and a routine. I drove to work while he took a short bus ride to the chip factory in the morning, and he was home by the time I arrived after work, preparing us something to eat. Louise—who did my housekeeping once a week—complained things were so ship-shape she was no longer needed. But she said it with a smile, as she enjoyed Kiel’s company as much as I did. He always arrived at the house a couple of hours before she left.
As the summer progressed, I found myself fretting over Kiel leaving for school. Had he insinuated himself so deeply in my life as all that? With a shock, I realized it was true. I looked forward to going home in the evening to be with him. We started going to movies, to plays… even to a friendly bar whose manager would wink if I vouched for my companion. I vouched for him.
As the beginning of the new semester at his faraway college approached, I found my mood taking a downward turn. He came home on a Friday afternoon and sent it soaring.
“They’ve offered me a job,” he announced as soon as I came through the door.
“They? The chip factory?”
“Great. When do you start?”
“Dunno if I’ll accept yet.”
“Oh, your education?”
“That’s not a problem. They’ll support me through my degree at the University here. Be easier, in fact.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
I felt my eyes go wide. “Me? How?”
“Don’t know if I want to stay here if I can’t be with you.”
“Problem solved. You can stay here as long as you like. Just don’t have too many beer parties while I’m at work.”
“You don’t understand. I don’t want to stay unless I can be with you.”
“Kiel, you’re not listening. I just said you can stay as long as you like.”
“No, John. You’re not listening.”
“What do you mean I’m not—” My mouth clamped shut. “Oh! Uh. Well, I don’t know about that….”
A wicked smile played across his handsome—no, they were really beautiful—lips. “Don’t tell me a hunky guy like you’s never got with a man before?”
I felt my cheeks flush. “Nope. Never. Well, when I was a kid, a couple of us used to—you know—jerk off together.”
“That’s a start. Let’s be kids again.”
It was my time to host the company’s Christmas party that year. With Kiel’s flair for the outrageous measured against my more conservative vein, it proved a rousing success. I can’t accurately recall how many of my colleagues not only raved over the party but also congratulated me on having such a lively student brightening my house.
Late in the evening, while other revelers… well, reveled… I sat in a corner with my best bud from the office, a guy named Fred. His wife had been one of my late wife’s best friends. He took a casual look around the room as the party guests gathered around Kiel to sing the Christmas carols he played on my ukulele.
At length Fred shook his head. “Becky’s not here anymore.”
I started. “Fred, you know what happened last year.”
His eyes slid to me. “Oh yeah, I know, she’s gone. But take a look around. Becky’s not here anymore.”
My eyes scanned the living room and the dining room, and I understood what he meant. Her pictures were gone, the Hawaiian blanket on the dining room wall was missing, and there wasn’t a figurine in sight. When had that happened? Probably while Kiel and I progressed from delightful masturbating to fantastic lovemaking.
I relaxed muscles I didn’t know had tensed and met his eyes. “Guess you’re right, my friend. But as my Becky used to say, there comes a time to move on. So I’m moving on.”
Hope you enjoyed the story. But tell me something. Did Becky’s beyond-the-grave message to “move on,” anticipate the direction that moving on take? Do you think she had a clue as to John’s reaction to that young man in Haiwaii? Let me know the list of your thinking.
Stay safe and stay strong.
Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!
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See you next Thursday.