Thursday Morning: What the Fuck?


Walking from the bus stop, I suddenly worried. Chris hadn’t been answering the phone. Would he be there? Would he not? I wasn’t sure which I preferred. Part of me wanted to grab my things and go, but I also wanted to clear the anxious, off-balance way I felt about the the way we’d split. We needed to talk.

I climbed up to our apartment, then hesitated at the door with my key extended. This wasn’t my home anymore. I knocked. Twice. Three times. Fuck this, I thought, turning the key in the lock. I pulled back from the rank backdraft that hit my face as I opened the door. What the hell? A stone dropped hard in my stomach. Something was really wrong.

I looked around our dim apartment. The sunny day tried to peek around drawn curtains, highlighting the shambles in bits and pieces. Were we robbed? I took another step in, frightened but compelled. Overturned liquor bottles, beer cans and wine bottles. Food plates knocked over and turning to mould. My clothes strewn around, some of them ripped and torn. A hole in the wall, chairs upturned. And that smell – that gross, rotting smell like meat left on the counter. My skin crawled. Where was Chris?

“Chris?” I called tentatively. I wondered if I should leave. If we’d been robbed, the bad guys might still be here. I didn’t feel safe. But more than that, I felt with a dread of certainty that we hadn’t been robbed at all, that Chris had made this mess, that he was the one who wasn’t safe. I didn’t want to think any further than that. What had he done?

I almost jumped out of my skin at a loud a groan and shuffling from the other side of the bed.

“Chris?” my voice came out high and scared. He lurched up, using the bed for leverage.

“Chrith…Chrithy…Chrishtine? Go away. I don’t want you to see me.”

I almost wet myself with relief. I let myself acknowledge what I’d feared – I thought he’d killed himself. Instead, he was just drunk. I felt a little like laughing, but he was no laughing matter. He looked like hell.

“Have you just been sitting here, drinking in the dark, since I left?”

He slumped back to the ground, dejected.

“Yeah, pretty much.” 


He laughed with me, just a little. I approached cautiously – the smell was definitely coming from him. Old vomit, dried food and maybe even urine.

“I can’t believe this! You’re supposed to be the together one. You reek!”

I stomped to the bathroom, turned on the shower, then took a deep breath and held it before dragging him, semi-cooperative, to his feet. We stumbled our way to the bathroom and I pushed him into the shower fully clothed. Now an obedient child, he let the water beat down on his head and drip from his soiled clothing. I sniffed myself – great, now I smelled too. I stripped down, and stepped behind him into the shower. The way he stood, head down, sagging, made me suddenly afraid. Chris was solid, strong. This man in front of me was not that. Who had I been living with, who had I come here for? If Chris could feel this way, the world must be more dangerous than I’d ever let myself believe. 

Tentatively, I reached over and tugged at his shirt, helping him pull it over his head and drop it to the tub floor. We stripped him down, item by item, and I kicked the sopping clothes pile away from our feet. I picked up the soap. Slowly, I washed Chris from the top of his head, down his back to his feet, and moved around to the front, making my way back up again, sudsing up his little chest soul-patch and sliding along his neck, behind his ears, around his forehead. When he was clean, really clean, I pressed myself against him and we stood glued together in the warm, beating flow until the water started to cool. I wrapped him in a towel and dried myself fast, then patted him dry since he just stood there, staring blankly. I took his hand and led him to the bed, tucking him in under a new blanket from the closet. I dressed in the only t-shirt I had left in the drawer before lying down beside him. I lifted his arm around me and settled in before speaking.

“So, Chris, what the fuck?” 

He sighed heavily, eyes still closed. I wasn’t sure he would reply until he sucked in his breath and his chest got hard under my cheek. 

“Everything is shit, that’s what the fuck. My research is a failure. You’re leaving me. You’re right, I’m a loser. A waste of space. You were my last chance and I’ve blown it. I’ll never have love.”

“Chris, you’re a genius. Whatever is going on for you now, it will be different in a few years.”

“So you are leaving me!”

“I didn’t say that.”

“You didn’t have to.”

“Look, Chris, you’re a great guy, you’re smart and sexy. We might make it work, we might not, but it’s just stupid to think I’m your last chance. You can have any girl.”

Chris laughed his irritated, bitter laugh. 

“You don’t know. You don’t know anything.” 

“What don’t I know?”

“You don’t know me. What I’m like.”

“What are you like?”

He didn’t answer. I tried a softer approach.

“Chris? Maybe…tell me a story. So I’ll know what you’re like. Tell me something I don’t know.”

He stayed silent. Shallow breathing, mind churning, his arm stiff around me. I reached up, stroking his head while I waited. Finally, he pulled in a sharp breath then pushed it out in a huff.

“Okay, here’s a story. The night before the wedding, Bash’s wedding, we were here, a few guys from school and other guys Bash knows. Kind of a bachelor thing, but weird? Because he’s gay, and some of the guys were gay – it was awkward, they kept giving him a hard time and he just took it. Then those guys went off to one of their bars, the guys from school went home, and by eleven, it was just me and Bash, sharing a bottle of scotch, like comrades. I wasn’t completely pissed but I sure wasn’t sober. He…he kissed me. Then he, we…I mean, I…he…”

Understanding dawned.

“You had sex?”

Chris rolled away angrily, leaving me only his back to contemplate. Arms crossed tightly to his chest.

“No! I don’t know, sort of. He…oh, whatever. We did some stuff. Okay? But then I told him to go, and he did.”

“Don’t get all defensive, I just want to know where you’re going with this. So what, you think you’re gay then?”

“No! I’ve had sex with, like, six women including you, and I like sex with women! This was just one weird thing. I don’t even know if I liked it.”
I waited. His words came slowly, in a small, unsettled voice.

“But I have to admit, after Bash, I kept thinking about it. Because my last girlfriend before Luca…we never…I didn’t…well, and then Luca, she turned out to be…what she was… So I started wondering. Maybe I’m not straight, after all?”

“Would that be so bad?”

He sat up fast to stare at me, bug-eyed incredulous.

“Are you kidding me? It would be a life sentence. Do you think I want to live like that? I want a normal life – adventurous, yes, but not marginalized. I want a wife, and I want kids, and I definitely don’t want to have to worry what people think about my sexual preferences whenever I meet them. Being gay would be a nightmare!”

“I’m sure the gay guys out there might have something to say about that.”

“Well, they aren’t me. And I’m not them. I’m not gay. Because of you, Christine, I know that. I wanted you right away. I can’t tell you what a…relief it is, that I want to fuck you. Damn, that sounded very bad. But Christine, sex with you is like…the only time I ever feel like I know who I am.”

“So you’re not gay.”

“But…I’m scared maybe it’s just you, that if I lose you, I may not find another woman I want…enough. I don’t want you to think I don’t love you. I do. Every inch of your squirmy you-ness. I love you, Christine, and I love sex with you, so I want to marry you. Is that so bad?”

I sighed.

“No, it’s not bad. It’s just…too much. Too fast. I don’t know what I want or why I do anything I do. I can’t jump into something so permanent just because you’re afraid you won’t want to fuck another woman. You’ve got to get that, don’t you?”

“So go already.” Plaintive. Lost and alone. I knew what that felt like.

“Hey, you’re a sexy guy. The sex with you is amazing, maybe the best I’ve had. So I wouldn’t worry about it. What’s gay? What’s straight? Whatever, that’s what I say. Sex is sex. Love is love.”

“Easy for you to say. Girls are allowed be be bi.”

“Now you’re just being whiney. Look, I gotta get back. Shape up! You’re better than this. We’ve got dress rehearsal tonight, and I expect to see you there, looking hot and virile. Get some sleep, eat something, drink water and pull yourself together!”

He grabbed me then, pushing me back down to the bed. Chris pressed a messy, desperate kiss into my mouth, too much tongue and spit. I shoved him away and rolled off the bed.

“Jesus! This is not the time, Chris.” I started gathering my clothes from around the room, shoving them into a plastic bag I’d found next to the stale takeout. He lay back on the bed, sulking.

“So that’s it, we’re done? You’re leaving?”

“Oh, Chris, why does it have to be so black and white? I’m going back to Timeless right now, yes, and I’m taking my things so I have them. But I don’t hate you, I’m not cutting you out. I asked you to come tonight. I’m inviting you along.” I knelt beside the bed, and held his hand in mine. With my other hand, I turned his head so our eyes could meet.

“Just come along for the ride, will you? You can get off if that’s what you want, but don’t try to make it out like I’m kicking you off the train. Clean yourself up and woo me a little, if you want me back. I’d like that. Let’s just see how things go, okay?”

“Yeah, maybe. I don’t know.”

“That’s good enough for me. Not knowing is so much better than knowing the worst.”

“You’re really weird, Christine.”

“That’s why you love me!”

“Yes it is.” He lifted my hand to his lips and kissed it. I ran my fingers over the two-days stubble on his cheek, velcro-prickles.

“See you soon.” He closed his eyes as I leaned in to kiss his forehead smooth. Before leaving, I set the alarm on his clock for 6pm, so he’d have enough time to get ready and make the show. I opened a window, but left him with his own mess to clean, closing the door gently behind me.



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