“Oh-my-fucking-god! Allé, I’m not here! Do not tell him I’m with you!”
I yelled in a sudden panic. The last thing I wanted was for Shane to see me hiding in the cargo area of a minivan. If I wasn't already his main shooting target then this would surely shoot me right to the top. This was hands down the worst walk of shame I’d ever experienced.
I noticed a couple of blankets. I could feel the car slow down so I frantically covered myself and laid in wait, again. My blood and adrenaline were pumping so fast, I could barely hear the window roll down over the pounding in my ears.
“Hey, Shaney. What’s going on?” Allé purred.
I imagined Shane leaning his elbows on the van’s window ledge while peering into the vehicle. No doubt trying to find me so he could shut me up. He need not worry, I had no plans to tell anyone, anything.
“Nothing. Have you talked to Gordy this morning?”
His voice didn't sound malices, but then, it never did with other people.
“No, sir, not a peep since last night. I wasn't at the club when he left but I'm assuming he's otherwise engaged this morning. Why are you asking?”
No reason my ass. Actually, my ass was literally the reason. He hadn’t had a chance to throw stones at me before I left. Threaten me to a life of silence, maybe even maim me. I could only imagine how upset he must’ve been when he woke up and I was gone before he could 'deal with the situation'.
“Okay," Allé's voice was skeptical, like a good suspicious friend. "Do you want me to deliver a message to him or anything?”
“Uh, yes. I mean, no. No message. Thanks, though.”
"Do you want his number?"
NOOOOOOOOO. Bad friend! Bad! I reprimanded him in my head.
"Oh, um...would that be weird?" He asked.
Yes. Yes it would be.
"Absolutely and he'd probably never talk to me again. So I rescind the offer."
There was this weird silence where no one was speaking and I wondered if it was awkward for them as it was for me under a pile of trunk blankets.
“Alrighty. See you around sugar.”
I heard Shane say bye followed by the van accelerating. There was no way I was going to breathe a sigh of relief yet, doing so only seemed to be a bad omen of things to come.
I was staring out of the back window, willing my dignity to return, when Allé broke the comfortable silence.
“Do you want to ride up front and tell me what’s going on?”
“Not really.” But I crawled over the seats anyway and plopped my shameful ass next to him.
I tried to ignore his pointed stares but eventually I lost out. Allé has this weird ability to make you say things. Against my will, I mumbled the bullet points. I left out the majority of the details as it was nothing I was keen on reliving, even in the dark depths of my mind. Of course, he was laughing by the end of it. Who wouldn’t be?
“Oh. My. God. This is amazing! Thank you for letting me be a part of it.”
I thought to myself, ‘who would want to be a part of this? Not me. It wasn’t anything to be proud of or excited about.’
“My pleasure. I’d gladly swap places with you—wait, where are we going?”
I was confused as we’d turned into a random parking lot until everything came rushing back to me—brunch plans with the DONNAS.
“Fuck me,” I whined, dropping my head in shame.
*** *** *** ***
Allé had finished retelling the sordid tale of my woe and everyone was left in stitches. The entire cafe was staring at us, undoubtedly catching every word since Allé’s voice could carry cars across a river.
I was sitting with my elbows on the table and my cheekbones resting against my palms while waiting for the dreadful brunch to wrap up. Luckily, Allé had loaned me his bright-pink peacoat , with fur and fringe, which was a lot better than yesterday’s wrinkled romper and cum stains. If only marginally.
“I wish I would’ve stuck around longer. It sounds as if we missed the good stuff,” Sam blew me a kiss. I dodged the invisible kiss quickly enough.
“Please, tell me the sex was great. It was fucking good, right?” Nick was bouncing in his seat.
I shook my head no, which of course was a lie, but I wasn’t about to tell anyone otherwise. That was top secret, classified information.
“Nooo, that’s so disappointing. I’m so disappointed! Ugh, I had such high hopes for him,” he stilled and started picking at his food.
Nelly was eyeing me and carefully studying me. “Are you sure? Your hair is atrocious. Maybe you did have a good time last night.”
I ran my fingers through my hair in a lame attempt at making it to look semi normal. Well, there went any hope that George or Harold would hear about my fab hair when Mr. Neighbor told my story. Such a shame.
“Trust me. Last night was nothing I want to relive.”
Which wasn’t a lie.
*** *** *** ***
After I got home, I took the longest shower of my life. They say your body is a temple. Mine was more like a canvas on which a crime took place. I showered in a vain attempt to scrub away the evidence (and other things that weren’t likely to disappear with antibacterial soap and hot water).
Relaxed and clean (physically, anyway) then spent some time doing yoga. After last night, I was desperate to center myself. I sat cross-legged on the floor and took a deep breath. When I let it out, all of the stress and negativity that had consumed me all morning disappeared and, by the time I was done, I felt amazing.
What’s done is done. I cannot change it. I cannot control it. I can only move forward. I am a strong man. I am a confident man. I am a capable man.
Newly centered and restored to factory condition; I spent the rest of Saturday catching up on house chores. I made an extra effort to clean under my bed. Should anyone feel the need to retreat from my room in the wee hours of the morning, I’d hate for them to have to choose between seeing me and death-by-spiders. Also, spiders are nasty and I’ll kill them all. I’m a cold-hearted bitch like that.
I exhausted myself cleaning and slept like a log that night, which I was thankful for. It was always hard to go to work if I didn’t feel fully rested because the kids deserved my best during every shift.
*** *** *** ***
I stood outside of the Pediatric Oncology Ward. I felt like the worst person on the planet. I wasn’t necessarily dwelling on Friday night or the subsequent Saturday morning—okay, maybe a little—but those kids were fighting for their lives and almost all of them had compromised immune systems.
I knew they couldn’t catch an STD, it didn't work like that, and I thoroughly showered (twice) since yesterday morning, but I still felt like I’d let them down. I felt dirty, rotten, and undeserving to be around all of those wonderful kids. I couldn’t believe I’d been such a fool and jeopardized my health, and theirs.
The dreaded two week wait. Girls talk about it all of the time, but it’s usually referencing a possible pregnancy whereas I was referencing a possible STD.
The morning went as smoothly as it usually did. The kids that were admitted started waking up a few hours after I got there. Soon the others began showing up for treatments, and for the most part, everyone loved the mornings.
Calvin hadn’t been feeling well. His bloodwork came back and the news wasn’t great so they changed his medication protocol, but he wasn’t handling it well. When he asked me to eat lunch with him, I gladly accepted.
“Nurse Doo Doo, I have a question.”
He smiled when I narrowed my eyes at him, making him smile. A few years prior, we were playing around and one of the kids called me Donovan Doo Doo, which of course everyone thought was hilarious, so it stuck. Luckily, they don’t use the name all of the time, it's still too often.
“I’ll overlook what I just heard and let you proceed with the question.” I winked at him and he smiled brightly in return.
“Are you gay?”
For anyone who’s aware, my sexuality is blindingly obvious, so it was only a matter of time before the tween picked up on my subtlety.
“What do you think?”
“I think you are.”
“And why’s that?”
“I was watching Will and Grace with my mom and you remind me of Will’s friend, Jack, and he’s totally gay.”
I clapped my hands together and laughed at the comparison. I didn’t think I was anything like Jack, but I supposed it was close enough for a young kid. I raised a perfect brow at him and said.
“Well, Will’s totally gay, too.”
“I know and you resemble him also, but you’re more like Jack.” He mocked, “Like, ‘omg, girlfriend, let’s go shopping!’”
To tease him, I made sure to sound a little extra gay to mock back.
“Oh, shut up. I’ve never said anything like that, boyfriend!”
He shrugged and a small smile played on his lips.
“You’re not exactly like Jack—you’re not stupid or ditzy and you play baseball, but you act and talk like him, sometimes.”
He was such a cute kid and I definitely felt something akin to love for him. I waved my hand in the air.
“Ya, ya, ya. I’m gay. You found me out.”
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Nope, no boyfriend.”
“Why not? You’re super awesome! You’re the coolest guy I know, plus you’re the best dancer.”
I smiled. Leave it to a twelve year old to consider me the coolest guy he knows. I relaxed into my chair.
“I am, aren’t I? Pretty cool.”
I enunciated the last two words and let them sink in. I was surprised at how much joy it brought me to hear his words.
“So? Why don’t you?”
“Evidentially, I have high standards, that’s why.”
“What’s that mean?”
These types of conversation always made me nervous. How much of these conversation should the parents be having? How much was too much for me? Where’s the line? Luckily, Cal’s parents were cool, plus they were so concerned with his health. I doubted they’d spent much, if any, time talking to him about boring and stupid things such as relationships and standards.
“What do you want in a girlfriend?”
“I don’t know. I want her to be really good at Pokémon. That’d be cool.”
Keep reaching for the stars, kid.
“That would be cool and that’s a perfect example of a high standard. So now, you can never settle for a girl who isn’t good at Pokémon.”
His face fell with disappointment because that wasn’t what he’d wanted to hear. I had my suspicions that he’d been crushing on a girl, but I wasn’t sure.
“Who is she?”
“Daisy, but I don’t think she plays Pokémon.”
“I’m not going to lie. You’re probably right, but there’s a difference between high standards and unrealistic expectations. Hoping a thirteen year old girl loves Pokémon is teetering on the edge of unrealistic. As you get older, your standards will change as you'll begin to realize what’s really important to you.”
“That’s good news. What about you? What are your standards?”
I got up from my chair and scooted him over so I could stretch out next to him on his bed.
“Well, my non-negotiables are—he has to be a good person who treats people with respect. Someone who accepts all of me, including my limited number of flaws. Someone who can have fun, because I love having fun, and I don’t want to marry someone who’s super-duper lame. Also, soft hands.
“Those are the boxes that he has to check, and if he doesn't, he won’t have a chance with me. There’s also other things I’d prefer, but I’d be able to overlook for the right person. I’d love for him to have all of his teeth, a bank account that’s not overdrawn, and a driver’s license that’s not suspended. I’d love for him to be bigger than me—which isn’t hard to do. Someone whos good at communicating his feelings, and…umm...well, there’s other things, but we’ll have to wait to discuss those until after you turn eighteen.”
Hypocrite was definitely the word of the day. I wanted to cringe as I lectured Cal on the importance of setting standards and then holding to them when I just bedded, without a condom, someone who ticked none of my boxes. That wasn't completely true, as far as I could tell, he had all his teeth and damn if his hands weren't incredible. On the bright side, I wasn't dating him.
We talked a while longer about Daisy, how they’d talked a few times, and he thought she was cute. It reminded me of the book, “The Fault in Our Stars”, but I didn’t say anything because that would’ve been terribly cruel and depressing. I decided I was going to try to schedule some of their treatments together so they could hangout. Calvin needed a little emotional pick-me-up, and Daisy was going to be what Nurse Doo Doo prescribed.
*** *** *** ***
Luckily, the hospital was next to the ballpark. there wasn’t much time between getting off from work and the start of practice. I usually changed at work and walked the two blocks instead of driving my car, especially in the summer when my car was five hundred degrees inside by the time I was off from work.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous while walking to practice on Monday. I was dreading the first interaction with Shane since...that night. Though I was sure things would return to normal shortly after. Heck, maybe there wasn’t anything to be nervous about and I was overreacting, which was plausible. After all, we were only two guys getting our rocks off—no biggie.
No biggie? That must’ve been why I was uncharacteristically wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses as I strode over to the park. I’ve never been particularly good at hiding my facial expressions, and I wanted to be calm and cool in case I needed to engage with Shane.
I arrived as the other team was finishing up. I found a few teammates and we started chatting. I couldn’t fully focused on our conversation, I was too hyper aware of Shane, his movements, his location, and who he was talking to. I didn’t want anyone to notice how aware I was so I ended up overcompensating by being too involved in the conversation before me.
Ha-ha-ha. Omg, so funny! I wanted to puke at how insincere I was being. All I could think about was if Shane noticed how much I wasn't paying attention to him?’
I hoped so. I wanted him to see how much I didn’t care about him.
My teammates dispersed and, before I had a chance to follow them to the dugout, Drew and Aaron caught my attention. Drew was looking yummy, as always (but straight, boo). Aaron thumped the bill of my cap and laughed.
“What’s going on here? Are you trying to fly under the radar or something?”
“Or something,” I mumbled. “I found this cap and thought I’d butch it up a little. How do I look?”
I spun around to show off my manly attire.
“I don’t know, why don’t we ask Shane? Yeah, we should definitely call Shane over.”
Aaron put his fingers to his lips as if he was actually going to whistle him over. That stopped me dead in my tracks and I raised my hands.
“Whoa-whoa-whoa, fellas! Come on now, let’s not do anything rash. We’re all adults here.”
Aaron laughed as he crossed his arms over his chest. “So, you are trying to fly under someone’s radar?”
Obviously the answer was yes, but they’d never hear it from my lips.
“Officially, no. Unofficially? Well, I’m not eager to face the mistakes of the weekends past. So can we be cool? Okay?” I begged.
I was secretly eyeing Shane through the protection of my mirrored aviators just in time to see him finish up a conversation before he spotted us and started to walk in our direction. I could feel his eyes burning through me.
“Sure, we’re cool. I have to say, you nailed the whole walk of shame last weekend. Seriously, it was spot on—the best I’ve ever seen.”
He gave me the hand signal for perfection and I let out a loud, high-pitched bark and quickly covered my mouth with both hands as I proceeded to laugh my ass off. If only he’d had a clue about the events that’d transpired that morning. I squeezed his shoulder as I caught my breath.
“Oh, Aar, you have no idea. The things I could tell you.”
“What’s so funny that you have Gordy squeaking?”
Shane asked as he arrived at our little group. I pursed my lips and narrowed my eyes at him. I didn’t find his comment funny at all, maybe if it was someone else, I could find the humor; but Shane? No way.
Luckily, I was wearing sunglasses so I was able to cool my features without being noticed. I reminded myself to, ‘kill him with kindness’. Aaron was about to say something, but I cut him off because I didn’t want him to say anything stupid.
“Aaron was telling me he’s been wetting the bed lately. I thought he was joking, but it turns out he’s serious.”
I gave him the ‘oops, I’m bad’ face and turned my attention back to Aaron.
“Anyhoo. There’s a medical supply store on the corner of 77th and Eddison that sells very discreet men’s diapers. We use them at work and they’re wonderful. Oh, and don’t drink any liquids two hours before you go to bed, that should help, too. They also sell mattress pad protectors that are easily washable, and should save your mattress from smelling like urine. Anyway, I have to go to practice, ciao!”
I waved goodbye with my fingers and left Aaron with his mouth open and Drew trying to hold back his laughter. I was sure Aaron was defending his honor and trying to talk his way out of his bedwetting dilemma, but at least the attention was off of me—for a while anyway.
Practice was the most fun, yet. After the game against Yarley’s, word had spread that the DONNAS were actually decent, so we started challenging ourselves at practice. I hadn’t pushed myself in years and it felt great. I’d missed baseball a lot more than I’d allowed myself to admit. By the time we’d finished, I felt invincible, as if I could do anything, which was perfect because I hadn’t expected, or been prepared for, what happened next.
I momentarily froze and my eyes widened when I heard Shane’s voice as I walked toward the parking lot.
“Hey, wait up.”
As I turned around and saw him jogging in my direction. I was able to hide my emotions, though, which ranged from surprise, to anger, to fear, to frustration, and alas, nervousness. The emotion I hated the most was lust. Why did he have to be so attractive and why did the sex have to be so good? I didn’t like him and I didn’t want him...that much. Just enough to irritate the hell out of me.
He nervously smiled as his eyes danced around, unsure of where he should look. I felt the same. It’s always incredibly awkward to talk after a drunken night together. I kept watching him and waiting for him to say something, but he didn’t, he only watched me watch him. So that’s what we were doing when I finally broke the silence—watching each other watch the other and waiting for someone to end our misery.
“Did you need something?”
That question was all Shane needed to jumpstart the conversation.
“Why’d you run out the other morning?”
He didn’t waste any time getting to the heart of the matter. Normally, I loved a blunt personality, but this was not a conversation I wanted to have now, or ever. On the other hand, I figured I might as well pull the “Band-Aid” off.
“I had plans and barely made it on time as it was.”
Which was true. Kind of.
“You could’ve woken me up. I would’ve driven you wherever you needed to go. There was no need to run out like the house was on fire.”
But, wasn’t it?
I was already having a hard time accepting the reality in which I’d woken up in Shane’s bed. I envisioned a scenario where I’d wake-up in his bed, proceed to engage in pillow talk, and end with him driving me to a brunch—not a fucking chance in hell! My brain almost imploded as it tried to construct the images. Plus there was the fact he most definetely would have murdered me before I had the chance to step out of his truck, so there's that.
I lightly chuckled at the ridiculousness of it all and humorously fumbled my words as I tried to find the right thing to say. Not wanting to be a total blubbering idiot, I stopped, took a deep breath, and started over.
“Look, I’m sorry, Shane. I think it’s cute that you think that was an option, I really do, but it wasn’t. The whole evening was a mistake that never should’ve happened and we both know it. My leaving saved us both from the super awkward morning-after conversation. We can continue with the way things have been between us. I promise, you don't have to worry about anything. I'm never gonna tell anyone. Last weekend never needs to be mentioned again. It never happened.”
I snapped my fingers and made a dramatic show of hands as a magician does after making something disappear. How I wished that magic was real.
“Listen, I have to go. Are we good? Water under the bridge? Are we in agreement that there’s no need to mention last weekend ever again?” I asked.
He looked a little irritated by my words and I couldn’t blame him, it was probably annoying as shit to stand there, listening to the person you despised the most, state something so obvious. He compliantly nodded. He was probably thinking, ‘no shit, Sherlock! Obviously I’m not going to tell anyone we had sex. What kind of fool do you take me for?’
“Great, then we’ll consider it erased from the history books. It was nice doing business with you.”
Not wanting to hang around longer than necessary, I said started the trek to my car. I thought about the conversation and decided that I was glad he’d waited for me. We were able to clear the air. That meant we could move past the awkwardness and move on to other, more important things.