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read_me.gif Southern Voice Washington Blade

World AIDS Day: One Goodbye In Ten

If there was a better way to go then it would find me

by j. brotherlove

“If there was a better way to go then it would find me
I can’t help it, the road just rolls out behind me
Be kind to me, or treat me mean
I’ll make the most of it, I’m an extraordinary machine”

“Extraordinary Machine” – Fiona Apple

[Fleshed from Red Notebook #2 - circa 1989]

My mouth opened. And when no sound came out, I shrugged instead of giving an answer. Isaac rubbed my shoulder as if to say everything would be okay. It felt like one of those things older people say to kids, forgetting how they can detect bullshit better than adults. Even though I didn’t believe Isaac, I appreciated the gesture. I took the elevator down to the first floor and walked out into the cold Chicago night.

After all, he was the only one who said anything about what was going on; the only one who seemed to know the truth. Hell, I didn’t even know the truth – not on a conscious level – despite the signs. And there were plenty.

There was the sudden weight loss, change in muscle tone, restless sleep, and the “vitamins”. Every week, K-Rose’s nagging mom, a part-time nurse, would come by our apartment and deliver vitamins to him. She was an imposing woman and very close to her son. I never got around to asking why a 36 year-old man needed his mother to bring vitamins every week.

Before that, there was the issue of his unexplained income. After all, he never worked as long as I knew him. He was “semi-retired”. So when he suggested we get an apartment together, my first question was “how are you going to pay for an apartment when you don’t work?”

“Don’t worry about that,” he told me, insulted. I never did worry about it; or anything else, really. Bills got paid and life appeared to flow.

But it wasn’t long after we moved in together that things went wrong. Increasingly, K-Rose became irritable and irrational. An aged pretty boy and only son, he was always entitled. But his demands became more difficult. He wanted things we couldn’t afford or fit inside of our tiny apartment; like a dog (which was strictly forbidden in our building).

Our sex life quickly declined and I began sleeping with other guys, spending more time away from the apartment. I even pulled a grand stunt and spent the night in Detroit with The One We Do Not Speak Of. When I returned home the next day, there was no big fight or argument; just a calm lecture and a hug. That’s when I realized K-Rose was letting me go. And I began to do the same.

And then his mother called me at work to say K-Rose had been rushed to the hospital. My reaction was subdued. I noticed he’d been sleeping badly and losing weight and I was concerned however, not worried for some reason. That changed when I went to visit him and got bitch-slapped into reality.

He wasn’t even in the main county hospital. He was in an older building in back, where they treated state prisoners and God knows what else. After nervously sharing a rickety elevator with a shackled inmate and guards, I walked onto a depressing site. A row of hospital beds stretched down a worn hallway separated by thin curtains and shreds of humility. I was bombarded by the smells and sounds of the large ward full of people with mysterious illnesses.

And there was my K-Rose, cranky and looking worse than he did from that morning. He didn’t offer much explanation for why he was in the hospital. And I didn’t probe. I told him not to worry; that a hospital is the best place for you when you feel sick. He thanked me for coming, kissed me on the cheek, and dismissed me.

And that’s when Isaac ran into me in the elevator lobby, catching me off-guard. I should have talked to him about my emotions. I knew I could trust him. Isaac was a gay elder, open to giving young boys advice, instead of just fucking them, like my dying boyfriend.

“How long has your lover had AIDS?” he asked, concerned. Honestly, I couldn’t begin to say. So the shrug I gave wasn’t really a lie. I thanked Isaac, accepted a warm hug and went home.

I sat on the bed for a long time before getting a sudden urge to search K-Rose’s nightstand for the vitamin packages his mother left earlier that week. Nervously, I opened the packet and out rolled several medications, including a little white capsule with a thin blue stripe.

“Are you happy now?” I asked myself and cried until I was tired enough to fall asleep.

Support World AIDS Day

“Once again, the blogger community is joining together to raise awareness about the world wide AIDS epidemic. Please click here to view a list that will be updated throughout the day of individuals raising their voices.”

pub: 12/01/2005 | previous entry | next entry | feedback x 2 | subscribe

*Whew* my heart was racing thru that one! Not sure if that was fact or fiction, but it was powerful nonetheless!

2. Dan

No, that was fact…

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