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no ghosts, no gods

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Title: no gods here, no ghosts and spirits
by volunteerfd

Summary:

Alternate universe where Louis has AIDS and Prior doesn't. Dialogue only.



Published at: 2017-08-19
Revised at: 2017-08-27 17:08:07 -0400

Chapter 1

WAITING ROOM - Louis and Prior

“My legs are gonna fall off.”

“They're not going to fall off. It’s nothing.”

“From vibrating. I’m vibrating, shaking, my legs are shaking and I can’t--stop--”

“Your legs are always shaking and they haven’t fallen off yet. Give me your hand. Feel better?”

“Yes.”

“Good.”

“There they go again. I’m buzzing. Oy. Maybe they were right.”

“Who?”

“Republicans. The Moral Majority. Maybe our lives are sinful. Whatever that means. Maybe we should all get married and get a nice house, white picket fence, kids running around the yard. Oh God. Kids. Oh God. A yard . But I don’t see Pat Robertson dying from a fucking plague. Maybe we should all be more like him.”

“Don’t say that. Don’t you ever say that. Pat Robertson is a fuckface.

“It’s probably nothing.”

“It’s never anything.”

“Right.”

“Never anything more than hypochondria.”

“It’s a cultural thing.”

“Lou.”

“It’s a proud cultural tradition! If no one’s trying to kill us, we gotta assume our bodies are.”

“Lou?”

“Yeah?”

“I love you. And whatever it is, we’ll--”

“Let’s pretend it’s nothing for as humanely possible."

“Mr. Ironson? The doctor will see you now.”


THE WAY HOME -Louis and Prior

“Prior?”

“Yeah?”

“Did you get...are you going to get tested?”

“I did. As soon as you told me you thought…”

“And do you…”

“No. Nope. I'm negative."

“Good. Good...Prior?”

“Yeah?”

“I wouldn’t blame you if you left.”

“What are you talking about?”

“If you wanted to leave--if you left--I--”

“Lou. Don’t be ridiculous. I wouldn’t do that to you.”

"Maybe not now. But down the road. If it gets too much. I'd understand."

THE NEXT DAY

THE CAFETERIA - Joe Pitt and Others

“Joe! Hey! Pull up a chair. Sit with us.”

“I’m sure Judge Wilson can cut up his own goddamn food for once.”

“Um.”

“How’s the wife? How’s the--uh--kids? You got kids yet?”

“Harper’s good. No kids yet. We’re trying.”

“I’ll bet you’re trying real hard, am I right?”

“Well, damn, look who it is.”

“Who?”

“That Jew in word processing. Rumor has it he’s a homo.”

“Rumor? Is he trying to keep it a secret?”

“I can’t believe they let him work here.”

“Excuse me--uh--who? Who are you talking about?”

“Louis.”

Louith.

“You’re Mormon, aren’t you? How do you feel about that?”

“About?”

“About people like him working here.”

“Well, uh, we try to love the sinner, hate the sin. “

“‘Love the sinner, hate the sin.’ That’s cute. And if he gives us all AIDS?”

“How the fuck’s he gonna give everyone AIDS? I’m not going near him.”

“It spreads, dumbass. Toilet seats and shit."

"He--he has AIDS?"

"Probably. They all do."

“Oh, look, Mormon boy’s uncomfortable. Welcome to New York, kid."

WEEKS LATER

APARTMENT-Louis and Prior

"I thought the world would be different. After the diagnosis. But it's been weeks and nothing's changed. Not really. I feel the same pretty much. I go to work, I come home, I eat, I sleep. Sunrise, sunset..."

"Yes, that is how the world works."

"Oy, I just put a kina hura on it."

"A what?"

"Don't laugh. It's Yiddish for jinx or curse--"

"Louis and his Yiddish words--

"--and now that I said everything's fine, it's all gonna collapse from under me."

"I don't think the world is going to stop turning just because you said it hasn't. The sun isn't going to explode just to spite you. "

"Is that why no one's doing anything? Because the world keeps turning for most people? Because there's not enough...death and destruction...How could anyone think that there's not enough death and destruction to do something? What's the number? How many--"

"Louis. Baby. "

"Am I going to be the one that tips the scale? Not because it's me, personally, who cares about a lowly fucking word processor but because of the number...Do they need to reach a number?"

"Shh. You're shaking."

"I want to drop dead in the Oval Office. I want to die right in front of that fucking--that fucking excuse for a president--I want him to see the sores. Oh, I'm going to die."

"What can I do? Dolly! Funny Girl! I'll do my best Barbra for you."

"Not fair. Making me laugh in the middle of my existential crisis. It cheapens my anguish."

"Honey, nothing can ever cheapen your anguish."

"I meant what I said. If you want to leave--"

"Jesus! It's like you want me to leave. What is with you? Do you want me to leave?"

"Of course not! It's just--I would understand--"

"Louis. I am never, ever, ever, ever going to leave you. Even if you grow two heads and two mouths and scaly, slimy tentacle arms. So you can just put that thought out of your head, OK?"

"OK."

"And neither is Little Sheba."

"Great."

MORE WEEKS

EMERGENCY WAITING ROOM -Prior and Joe

“Thank you for helping him here. That was very kind of you.”

“It’s just what we do where I’m from.”

“Which is?”

“Salt Lake.”

“Salt Lake? You’re certainly a long way from the rugged midwest. Can’t ride into midtown on a steer. Although I have rode out of midtown on a few. Haha--nevermind.”

“Um. Came here for work. Chief clerk for--nevermind. You’re his--brother?”

“Lord, I hope not.”

“Oh. I see.”

“The WASP and the Jew. Like a German fairy tale. Or a wacky sitcom. What a mismatched pair. So you’re not--?”

“Not what?”

“Nothing. Nevermind.”

“I’m not--that. Whatever you were implying. I’m not.”

“No one is. No one is that and no one is dying. Like in The Odyssey. Is that in your curriculum in Salt Lake? Between the Bible and the Book of Mormon? Or are the Greeks too faggy?”

“First of all, the Book of Mormon is the Bible. Part of it. And second of all, I’m sorry about your, uh, about Louis, but I don’t need to stand here and be insulted--”

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Really. Thank you for--thank you for helping him. Not many would have…I just thought since you did…”

“He seems like a sweet guy.”

“He’s an ass. He’s just...a stubborn, insufferable asshole who goes on and on...about politics and...all these ideas, all this philosophy whirling in his head. Don’t get him started on Reagan, you know? Actually, he starts himself. And he…”

“Oh...oh, I’m sorry. Please don’t--Do you need tissues?”

“You’re kind. You’re actually kind. Imagine that. An actually kind person. It must be the Utah blood. I’m sorry again. It was wrong of me to assume--”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“Do they talk? At the law clerk office thing?”

“Talk about what?”

“Him. This.”

“I don’t know. I expect they do. I don’t partake. Gossip is a sin.”

Lashon hara . That’s what Louis tells me it’s called. In Judaism. In my opinion, it sounds more like a cheer. Lashon hurrah! I didn’t get your name.”

“Joe. Joe Pitt.”

“Well, thanks for helping my gay Jewish lover to the hospital after his collapse. You are, as he would say, a mensch.”

“And your name?”

“Prior Walter.”

“Huh. Interesting name.”

“Stitched on the Bayeux Tapestry. Like I said. A WASP.”

“That’s, um, that’s a really interesting name. Look, I gotta get home to my wife--”

“Of course, of course. Thank you.”

“I hope...I hope everything works out.”

LATER THAT NIGHT

HOSPITAL ROOM - Belize and Prior

“He’s kind of cute when he’s asleep...and quiet.”

“He usually talks in his sleep. Politics, fascism, the end times...”

“Poor guy, having to live with all those thoughts.”

“I have to live with them, too.”

“Poor Prior and his taste in men.”

“Yeah. You would know.”

“Not fair! I am the zenith of all sexual experience, and it’s all downhill from there.”

“You’ve seen the...the blood and guts of this. How bad does it get?”

“Nothing you can’t handle.”

“And him?”

“Louis? Louis can’t handle anything. There you go. I made you laugh. So it’s nothing we can’t handle.”

“Look, I know you two didn’t always see eye-to-eye but it would mean a lot--”

“Say no more.”

EVEN LATER THAT NIGHT


HOSPITAL ROOM - Louis and Prior

“Is that my lover I feel pressed against me?”

“Sorry, sir, I think I have the wrong room.”

Prior! Don't tease me. I'm disoriented.”

“Belize let me stay here. ”

“And you stayed.”

“Of course I did.”

"And crawled into bed with me, and slept in this tiny little hospital cot..."

"I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."

“Oh God. If it were me...if the positions were reversed…”

“You’d do the same.”

“I don’t know. I don’t know what I’d do. I’d leave.”

“Louis…”

“I’d leave.”

"Louis. Stop. No one ever really knows what they're going to do in these situations."

"I do. I'd abandon you. Why would I make something like that up? I can't deal with illness. I can't even deal with my own. I'd kill myself if I could but I can't because you're here. Or I think about leaving you and crawling off somewhere to die. And I don't. Because I'm a coward. Because I need this comfort and warmth even though I know, I know I can't return it."

"My Louis. Always so dramatic and self-deprecating."

"It's not self-deprecating. It's honest self-assessment."

"Hey, I don't know how you want me to respond--if you want me to hate you for what hypothetical you would do in your hypothetical situation--but I really, really just want you to get some rest and feel better, OK? I absolve you for what you didn't do. And now sleep. By the way, Belize says you're cute when you're quiet."

"Why do you stay?"

"Because I love you."

"You make it sound so easy."

"Because it is. Not everything's complicated. Some things are pretty simple, actually. I love you and I'm staying."

A FEW DAYS LATER

APARTMENT - Belize and Louis, and Prior eventually

“Home sweet home. Prior will be thrilled. You feel OK, Lou?”

“Oh God, I forgot about the cat.”

“Aw, she likes you!”

“She’s taunting me. She knows I don’t like it. Her. So it’s-- psychological mind games.”

“The cat? Is playing psychological mind games? You can’t pay me enough to live in your brain for a day. Blanket, water...What else can I get you? A book?”

“It must be pretty dire. If you’re being nice to me.”

“Lou, I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. And you’re far from my worst.”

“Top five?”

“My, but you flatter yourself.”

“Top ten.”

“Not even close, honey. Do you have any reading material that isn’t morbid or heavy? Ooh, Vogue!

“I can’t read, anyway. My eyes are…fucked up. It’s like Biblical or something. I keep expecting the gift of Prophecy. I need something from all this stigmata, you know? Another Jew dying for the nation’s sins! The long-anticipated sequel!”

“You are the most dramatic gay man I know and there’s a lot of competition.”

“"You sound impressed.”

“Very impressed, Louis. You’re a very impressive person.”

“Thanks for doing this. For Prior. I...I’m not good with these things.”

"Few people are, dear."

"'Dear.' You're being so nice to me. It's scary."

"I could be meaner if you'd like."

"Actually, I kind of would."

"Fine. You dress like a straight man."

"Lou? Belize? Aw, and Little Sheba is all curled up on his chest. I'm sure he loves that."

"According to Louis, Little Sheba is torturing him psychologically."

"I didn't say torturing, I said--"

"Manipulating. The cat is psychologically manipulating your boyfriend, Prior."

"I know. Little Sheba is an evil mastermind."

"Whatever. Dogs are loyal. Cats are devious."

"I thought cats were stupid."

"Ah, reunited for five minutes and already squabbling! I'll leave you to it. A kiss for Prior and a kiss for Louis. Passe une bonne nuit!""

"I thought you were gonna start being meaner to me!"

"What?"

"Nothing. Inside joke."

"You and Belize have inside jokes now?"

LATER THAT NIGHT

BEDROOM - Louis and Prior

"So, um, things got a little intense..."

"Intense? You mean after you collapsed at work, a deeply closeted Mormon cowboy practically carried you into the hospital, and you spent a night crying in my arms?"

"I guess that's an accurate summation of it, yes."

"Louis. This whole situation is intense. You're intense. And when I fell in love with you, I signed up for everything. So."

"I just want to say that--I'm glad I'm here. I'm glad I'm home. With you. And I...I'm grateful that you're here. And I'm grateful the positions aren't reversed."

"Why are you always thinking about that? You're not guilty enough, you need to punish yourself for the sins of a hypothetical version of you? You can only live in one timeline, honey."

"Can't it be one where we got a dog instead?"

"You're an ass. I love you."

"Is it true? The Mormon guy--he carried me--into the hospital?"

"I might be exaggerating."

"Good."

"I might not be."

"Prior!"

WEEKS LATER

BEDROOM -- NIGHT - Louis and Prior

"It's getting worse."

"It's alright, baby. We'll get you to a hospital. They'll fix you up."

"There's no fixing me. There's no fixing this. Oh God, oh God…Am I going to be the last one? Please let me be the last one."

"I'm putting your robe on, Louis, and we'll go to the hospital now. Belize is on shift and--Louis? Louis!"

WAITING ROOM--NIGHT--Belize and Prior

"Prior..."

"How is he?"

"We're going to look after him. You should go home, sleep in your own bed."

"My--what--"

"There's nothing more you can do for him tonight. He's in the best hands. I promise."

DAYS LATER

HOSPITAL ROOM --NIGHT - Belize and Louis

“Shh, shh, it's OK. It’s just a little accident. You’ll be OK.”

An accident?”

“You poor thing.”

“Try waking up in your own piss because you’re falling--falling apart, your whole body is failing you--”

“All set. Lie back down, let me get the covers.”

“--and I’m wetting the bed and have to be tucked in like a child.”

“Louis.”

“I think I should break up with Prior. He deserves someone--vibrant and healthy. He's here every day. Every day. Tell him to leave me. Please.”

“Oh, I have. Lots of times. Before all this. But now I like you two together. Comfy?”

“I...why do I feel calmer all of a sudden? Like I’m at peace with everything. Why do I get the feeling that everything is going to be OK? And I can drift off right now and it will all be...Oh god. I’m dying. I’m dying. I can’t believe I’m dying. I don’t want to die. Not now. Not now! A lifetime of morbid thinking and I’m clawing--clawing--”

“Shh. Louis--”

“--clawing out of the abyss. I thought I made peace with this but--you can never really make peace with this--oh, I just broke up with Prior. I just asked you to break up with Prior for me. I’m a coward. That’s the shape up of my life--”

“Louis--”

“Moments before my death I piss myself and abandon my lover in weakness--””

“Louis, baby, listen to me. It’s just the drugs.”

“What?”

“I put the good stuff in your IV to help you sleep and you’re resisting it. Putting up a pretty damn good fight, actually.”

“I’m not dying?”

“No, honey.”

“Oh. I’m a little...disappointed..."