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The Storm That Is

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The Storm That Is

There were moments in his fucked up life that could never be explained.  Some he could work through, figure out and justify, at least in his head.  Others eluded him like a wisp through grasping fingers.  He was sure it was the same situation with Trevor; though he doubted Trevor bothered to put much thought into something he would consider a waste of time and effort. 

Funny enough, Michael shared the same sentiments in regards to Trevor’s absolute insistence of remaining counter-culture, whatever the cost.  Who would waste the energy?

And then he realized the exact fuck of it.  Of them both.

One day, while walking from his backyard to the swanky, upscale, Los Santos mansion he and his family called home, it hit him—hard. 

Much to his dismay, the glass of whiskey held in his limp hand had sank dangerously low, and so he’d gone to pour himself some more over a fresh scoop of ice.  The image of himself had come to mind then, how much older he’d gotten, and suddenly his thoughts were running of their own accord, drifting, wondering if the psycho was still alive, if he was six feet deep, if he looked any different now.  No doubt—and this is what had hit him so hard—his old running buddy would be ten times more energetic and immature as when they had last shared a beer together. 

The thought was disheartening.  Michael could see himself getting older, and Trevor, man, Trevor somehow grew younger. 

Yet within each other’s vicinity they balanced out, leveling like a scale. 

From there it was connect-the-dots.

The truth was, as much as their unique outlooks stood contrariwise, each would spin until reaching the other’s point of view.  There, a different perspective was visible, and unexpectedly they started to spout and do the same shit each had said and done in completely similar yet opposite situations.

Trevor killed without remorse.  Michael was capable of deep love.  Trevor burst into bouts of uncontrollable anger.  Michael thought rationally towards his next more.  Trevor was loyal and genuine.  Michael slinked on tipped toes.  Trevor crafted magnificent crimes.  Michael had a short temper.  Trevor loved freely.  Michael murdered without compunction.

It was all very concerning.

To Michael, the reality of this particular truth was both amusing and—needless to say—frightening.  It meant he was more like Trevor than he cared to admit.

Of course, there was no real reflection on this conundrum when he was in his twenties.  As soon as he witnessed that sallow, sickly little kid firing off a flare into his pursuer’s eye, it was, to put it jokingly, love at first sight.  They dumped the body together, then both puked after landing the plane.  Start of a beautiful friendship.

This was all well and good at the time, but damn if Michael couldn’t see it coming; the stress, the fighting, the detestation, the strange worship, the calm that always came after the storm.

Trevor was that storm.  A fucking tornado.  A typhoon.  And Michael felt—as much now as he did then—that he would never survive, would never make it past the torrent of wind that blew everything within its path to rubble.  Yet he did—every single time.

It wasn’t until years later, after unwillingly reuniting with his best friend in the quiet sanctuary of his Los Santos home under the guise of a false surname, did he realized how influential specific past events between them had shaped his luck.  It wasn’t merely luck, though.  That wasn’t possible.  Enough bullets shoot at you and eventually you take one in the chest.  In this scenario, Trevor was the gun and Michael the body.

But Michael wasn’t really the target, plus he had on a ‘vest’ if you will.  So somehow, someway, Michael had managed to find shelter in the eye of that storm that was Trevor Philips and stay alive

As a twenty-something-year-old kid, he’d never thought much about it.  He got up late every morning, met up with Trevor at a diner or a bar, drank his coffee, watched Trevor scarf down an omelet and beer, planned their next moves, listened to Trevor bitch at the incompetent waiter, eyed the woman opposite their table, kept breathing, went home again to his shit motel bed and remained blissfully none the wiser. 

Now, in his mid-forties, he had the mind to actually reflect on how he’d withstood such a troubled and unbalanced individual.  Not many people who surrounded themselves with Trevor Philips’s company lived to see the man age another year.  Michael had.

So, what was it then?  What made Michael so special?

There—with that exact question—did the storm start and gather force. 

 


 

 

It had been raining.  Harrisburg, a bumfuck town out in the middle of North Yankton, was even smaller and more pathetic than Ludendorff.  On the narrow road, an eight year old, navy blue, Ford Granada veered off to the right and continued the dirt path going southeast.  The windshield wipers moved rhythmically while the warm air from the car’s heating system slowly worked to defog the condensation obstructing his view.  He was about ten minutes away from his destination.

Three weeks had passed since last Michael had seen Trevor.  Their previous heist—an easy bank job done in a rural town four and a half hours away—had gone well.  Trevor had been right, as usual.  They came away clean and with their pockets equally full, though maybe less so than anticipated.  When their theft was complete, however, they parted ways to lay low for an extended amount of time. 

That time had now come and gone, and for Michael it was surprisingly exciting.  Years later he wouldn’t admit it, but at that moment he was yearning to see his best friend.  He smiled to himself as he tilted the wheel, coming to a stop outside a dingy motel.  Through covert correspondence, Michael had been informed of Trevor’s whereabouts: room three.  He jumped up the stairs, oblivious to the slight skip in his step, and knocked on the door. 

Clattering sounded from beyond the walls, and all of a sudden Trevor stood within the frame of the door, his left hand leaning on the knob, his right clutching the neck of a beer.

“Took you damn long enough,” he said and knocked back a swig.  Amber colored beer ran from the corner of his mouth down his jaw before being wiped away with the backside of his hairy forearm.  “I’m not your fucking lady in waiting.”

“Fuck you, T.”

“Aaah, fuck you, Mikey!  Get over here!”

Michael saw the hug coming and knew how to handle it.  He mirrored Trevor’s outstretched arms and collided with his friend, squeezing the other in the same fashion as was given.  The embrace ended and Michael stepped back, noticing both the familiar and not so familiar features in Trevor’s appearance.  His skin was more sallow than usual, with scars and red blemishes due to his recent interest in methamphetamines, and despite the cool, early autumn weather—and the knowledge that Michael would be on his way—he wore a soiled, gray, sleeveless shirt and a pair of women’s, black, boy-short underwear.

He caught Michael’s raised brow and took another gulp of beer before saying, “Yeah, yeah, she left ‘em here and mine are dirty.”

“Torn and shit-stained you mean?” Michael asked.

God, you know me inside and out, don’t you?”

Michael couldn’t help but smile. 

“Well, get in here, you asshole.  It’s fucking cold out!”

Michael stepped over the threshold at the summons, shimmying off his coat and closing the door after giving the room a once over.  It looked like hell, what with all the trash, meth making products, and used condoms lying about, but other than that it was fairly comfortable, at least for someone as cluttered and chaotic as Trevor Philips.

While Michael viewed the wreckage that was the motel room, his friend was already halfway for a Styrofoam cooler placed on a chair in the corner.  With that strange grace Michael could only conclude was hereditary, Trevor opened the top of the cooler and leaned down to grab four chilled beers.  He’d tossed the empty one held in his hand to his side, making the bottle bounce off the wall and roll along the carpet until vanishing under the queen sized bed.  Michael watched it until suddenly being handed two of the four beers.  He chugged the first down simultaneously with his friend, recalling this unspoken tradition with quiet appreciation.

After Trevor belched, he spoke.  “Soooo…  how’re things?”

Michael cracked the top off his second beer and sat at the small table near the window.  “Eh,” he said, “you know how lying low can be.  I’m kinda’ bored.  Got all this money but can’t really do anything with it yet.”

Trevor nodded.  “Speakin’ the truth, my brother.”

“You don’t look too bad, though.”  Michael gestured at Trevor’s surroundings.  “Made yourself at home, I see.”

Home, Mikey, is where the heart is,” Trevor replied.  “And my heart has been all over this room.”

“I wanna’ get out.  Feel cooped up lately.”

“Nothin’ wrong with a little excursion.”

 “Wanna’ get wasted?  Go to a strip joint?”

Trevor waved off the suggestion with a look of repulsion.  “Mmno, no, no.  Yes to the wasted part, no to the strippers.  I’m sick of tits.  Let’s do somethin’ else.  Somethin’ we haven’t done before.  Somethin’… different.”

Michael hesitated.  Mid swig, he lowered his beer and gave his friend a questioning look, though he couldn’t help but notice the near… what was the word… suggestive way Trevor introduced this new thought.  It was almost sensual.

Trevor stared at him, mocking his blank look with an exaggerated tilt of the head and a gaping mouth.  “What’s on your mind, pokey?”

And just like that, the feeling—the imagined implication—was gone.  In his head.  Misconceived.  Michael felt he should have already considered this and dismissed the thought.  It was merely the way Trevor spoke; strange inflections and gestures and varying volumes.  The guy’s speech pattern was all over the place, much like his personality.  Yet… why did any of it come to mind?  Michael shook.

This involuntary action made Trevor stiffen.  His back went rigid and his fists slowly clenched.  “I asked you a question, bro.”  His lips contorted around his next words.  “I asked what’s. On. Your. Fucking. Mind.”

“Sorry,” Michael said.  “Got like a déjà vu feeling right there.”

“Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to fucking stare at people?”

 “Hey, hey,” Michael barked back.  “Calm the fuck down, alright?  Don’t go fuckin’ sprinting off the deep end just ‘cause of some stupid comment that got your fuckin’ panties in a knot, alright?  Have another beer and cool your jets, man.”

“Fuck you, Townley.”

Michael overlooked the insult and removed two additional bottles from the cooler—another for himself, the other for Trevor.  He cracked the tops off and handed one to his seemingly volatile friend, knowing somehow—whether by the act itself, the kindness behind the act, or the raw statement from which said act had transpired—that it would sedate the wild rage that was Trevor’s explosive anger and render him placid, at least for the time being.

Trevor glared but eventually gulped the entire bottle down, remaining silent, waiting.

“Okay,” Michael finally said.  He ran his hand through his hair and exhaled.  “You wanna’ do something different?  We can do something different.  What exactly would that be?”

Trevor didn’t react at first.  He stayed still.  Then, without warning, he grinned.

 


 

The fairs in Canada weren’t all that different from the ones in America.  There were the rides, the games, the animals, the spastic kids running about with their parents chasing after them, the unwholesome foods, the cotton candy.  Trevor had swiped a caramel apple from a booth as he and Michael passed for the bumper cars.  He’d held out the stick for Michael after taking two bites, to which Michael accepted with enthusiasm. 

It was strange.  There must have been some aura of harmony coming off the rides, for it was the first time in a long time that Michael had felt like a normal guy at a normal, family-friendly function. 

He had Trevor to thank for that.  So he did.

“Hey, T,” he said over his shoulder as they waited in line, “you know this was a really good idea.  I haven’t been to a fair in I-don’t-know-how-long.”

“I’ve never been,” Trevor replied.  He’d changed before they left and wore a pair of black cargo pants with his typical white shirt that was so dirty it seemed gray.  A look of pure anger flashed on his face as an oblivious teen bumped into his legs from behind.  Michael watched in interest as he turned and spoke to the kid.  “Normally, when someone makes a mistake they apologize, or did your parents ever teach you any goddamn manners?”

The kid gave him an up and down.  “Fuck you, gay wad.  Shouldn’t you be taking care of your early male pattern baldness ‘nstead of bitchin’ at random people?”

Michael nearly shat himself—whether from the insolent teen or the absolute frenzied look in Trevor’s eye, he wasn’t sure.  Either way, he couldn’t help but burst out laughing.  Trevor’s mouth opened as if to respond, but he turned to Michael and indicated the teen behind him with a jerk of his thumb.  “Fuckin’ brazen mouth on this one, Jeeeesus,” he said.  He turned back to the teen.  “Let this be known, kid, you just made a fuckin’ enemy, a big fuckin’ enemy.”

“Let it go,” Michael said between laughs.

“You should listen to your chubby friend.”

Michael’s laughter died.  “Hey, who you calling chubby, you snot-eating prick?  This ain’t flab.  You come at me and I’ll knock your sorry ass to the ground, quarterback style, bro.”

“Whatever,” the teen replied.

Trevor snarled and balled his fists.  “We will fucking destroy you, you little shit-mouth cunt.” 

That seemed to shut the obnoxious teenager up, but Michael could tell Trevor wasn’t done.  Honestly, he didn’t care.  Trevor made good on his word, and at that time in Michael’s life he wasn’t as considerate with whomever he decided to fuck with so long as they generally had it coming.  And this kid, well, this little shit had it coming.

So they fucked with ‘em.  Taught him a valuable lesson.  Didn’t hurt him.  Well, not really; they just ganged up on his car and rammed him from the front repeatedly until he began to cry. 

By the time the ride was done, Michael’s smile was back, though he knew the kid was lucky.  Trevor got out of his beat-up, orange car and proceeded with a loud victory shout along with several growls and hoots of profanity as he thrust his hips at the teen’s face.  The kid’s tear stained cheeks were pale and he stayed submissive, which, Michael concluded, was probably the wisest thing anyone his age could have done, but often times Trevor and ‘wise’ didn’t mix.  The silence actually managed to provoke Trevor rather than assuage him, and before Michael knew it he was dragging his maddened friend away from the ride by the arm. 

When that fiasco was dealt with, and when Trevor had composed himself, they went on the carousel, Trevor standing in front of his rising and falling mount, making lewd expressions as the muzzle of the animal—a dolphin of all creatures—came down upon his crotch.  Michael near wet himself while riding the neighboring zebra.  Parents blocked their children’s eyes.  Two young women in the sleigh behind Michael snickered to each other, eyeing Trevor’s antics while playfully catcalling him.  Trevor paid them no mind, focusing on Michael.  No one from the previous ride had accompanied them.

Soon they were bored of rides and switched to games.  The tents holding each little entertaining rip-off were striped in colors of blue and yellow; within each hung a wide variety of stuffed animals and cartoons.  They played Skee ball, Trevor chucking the ball hard, trying to hit the fifty pointer, getting them in maybe half the shots he took, while Michael—slow and steady—gently rolled his to the top hole.  Winning wasn’t important, though Michael couldn’t help but nudge Trevor after achieving a perfect score.  As the flimsy tickets spat out of the machine, Michael folded them up and shoved them into his pocket.  Trevor gave the few he’d made to a young, wide-eyed boy with a picture of Jeremy the jet plane on the front of his t-shirt.

After that they wandered, living in the moment, watching the multi-colored lights come alive in the growing darkness.  Michael came to a stop before another tent and turned. 

“T,” he called over his shoulder. 

Trevor, who happened to be threatening one of the Italian ice vendors, sauntered to where Michael stood with two large cups of watermelon flavored ice in his hands—free of charge, of course.  He stopped where Michael stood and followed his friend’s gaze to view a water gun game.  “You think you can beat me, huh?” he said.  “You think you’re fuckin’ better than me?  Is that what you’re implying with that shit-eating grin of yours, Mikey, huh?”

“I do think I’m better than you,” Michael replied.  His voice carried a challenging tone.  “As a matter a fact, I think I’ll win.”

“Whoa-ho-hooo, that’s some hot talk for such a chill guy.  Sure you don’t wanna’ take a step back and analyze the situation?  Run it by L for good measure?” 

Michael didn’t rise to the bait.  He was too busy smiling at one of the stuffed animals to notice.  “Alright,” he said, tapping his index into Trevor’s chest, “here’s my challenge.  If I win, you gotta’ accept the prize, and you gotta’ carry it around for the rest of the night.”

Trevor gave a confused half-smile and replied in a sarcastic tone.  “Uh, okay.  That sounds horrible?  But alright.  I can always shove some rocks inside it, beat someone upside the head.  Now, what about if I win?”

“Whatever you want.”

It wasn’t the first time that Michael had witnessed a sick smile spread across his friend’s rugged face.  “I’ll tell ya’ when I win.  Which I will.”

“Deal.”

Trevor shoved the Italian ice into Michael’s hand and took a place before one of the mock guns.  Michael grasped the one beside him.  Once there were enough players the game commenced.  Michael had secured his arm and elbow before the start, but the gun was oddly positioned and he feared he would lose.  It was a nice surprise when the game finished and he reigned supreme, just as predicted.  Trevor cursed at the game and the three other players.

“You couldn’t’ve fuckin’ tried harder, huh?  You just had to go and let him beat your lame fuckin’ asses, didn’t you?  You fucks, you fucks, you fucking fucks!”

“I guess you won’t be tellin’ me what you wanted now that you can’t have it!”  Michael said. 

A discouraged look spread across Trevor’s normally severe mug, but as soon as it had appeared it was gone. 

“Well, give the man his fucking prize, dip shit!” he yelled to the game’s attendant.

The attendant hopped to, hunching behind the game counter, saying, “Which one did you want?”

Michael exhaled.  Ah, the moment of payment.  He didn’t skip a beat as he replied, “The moose.” 

Trevor was dumbfounded as the attendant gave Michael the jumbo stuffed animal.  His expression then turned to one of anger.  “No fuckin’ way, Michael, no fucking WAY, no, no—”

“You agreed.”  Michael held out the floppy-limbed moose in his friend’s direction, his face stern but proud.  “Is the ever honorable T backing out on a done deal?” he asked.  “Is Trevor Philips’s word no longer as good as gold?”

The speechless look came back, and Michael, knowing such expressions were few and far between, reveled in it as much as he could before watching it submerge again beneath a hardened exterior.

“Gimme that damn thing, you racist prick.”

Michael handed the stuffed animal off, immediately smirking when Trevor tucked said animal under his tattooed arm.

They meandered some more, eventually joking and laughing like the dear friends they were—at least once Trevor had ease up about the moose thing.  Michael took note of the way his friend had switched to carrying the stuffed creature over his shoulders, gripping the animal’s front limbs as they dangled, its head resting atop his own.  He looked like a child wearing they favorite blanket.  Michael chuckled.

Trevor growled in response.  “The fuck you so amused about?”

“How stupid you look,” Michael replied.

“Take me on the big wheel.”

Michael smiled.  “Can do, buddy.”

So they rode the Ferris wheel, Trevor yawning at the top, saying the height was no big deal in comparison to flying multiple aircrafts, that it was far less thrilling than racing a hundred down the highway in oncoming traffic, that it was far, far less impressive than his erect penis. 

Michael ignored the chatter beside him and enjoyed the ride, leaning back with his arms crossed while staring up at the night sky.  At some point their car became quiet, and Michael glanced over, expecting to see his friend gazing at the scattered lights glowing through the fog, or at the silhouetted line of the distant mountain ridge.  But he did not see that.

What he did see was Trevor leaning back, same as he, into the plush fabric of that silly stuffed moose, eyes dulled, watching him, lips freshly moistened, hand groping at the bulge in his tattered cargo pants.  His breathing was laden.

Michael couldn’t help but do a double take.  When his eyes came back for the second time, Trevor’s composure had switched back to cold and his hand made an effort to scratch at his crotch more than rub.  He coughed loudly.

“I think I have a rash, M,” he said. 

He then lifted his leg closest to Michael, resting it against the front of the car so that his knee was bent, cutting off sight to his groin.  Michael glanced away and cleared his throat.

In years to come, this sort of bi-curious nature wouldn’t have Michael batting an eye.  And Trevor—oh, mid-age Trevor wouldn’t have thought twice about displaying a healthy hard on for another dude.  In fact, the mature Trevor seemed to embrace the queer side of himself that screamed ‘homo’ with such fervor it was almost ridiculous to know he wasn’t gay. 

Yet it was no secret he also harbored a kind of strange, misplaced attraction to men, even if it wasn’t entirely sexual.  Michael had always suspected this behavior as a sort of dominance never fully explained, a kind of primitive ego boost or a quick love shot.  Or maybe the confusion came from Mrs. Philips. 

Either way, Michael of his mid-forties wouldn’t have cared, but Michael of his mid-twenties had no idea how to approach the matter.  Neither did Trevor.

The ride ended with them both in quiet contemplation about the other, neither bringing up anything in regards to the wheel.  Michael yawned and Trevor gave him a small smile.

“Wanna’ blow this place, cupcake?” 

Michael returned the expression and slinked his arm around Trevor’s shoulder, feeling the soft fur of the stuffed animal draping his friend’s upper back.  “Hell yeah, bud,” he said.

Both strolled leisurely in the direction of the fair’s exit, silent, Michael’s arm lingering around Trevor’s shoulder, Trevor’s hand situated upon Michael’s rear.  After a few moments those deft fingers slipped down into Michael’s back pocket, close but ever so casual.  They kept walking.

The fair was still alight by the time they stepped foot in the parking lot.  Michael paused, reaching into his pocket to find the keys to his car, when a sudden jerk left his arm without the shoulder he’d been leaning on.  Trevor stood tall, feet spread, his head turned towards a young man yelling at them from afar.

“Hey!” the young man said.  “Hey!  You two dickbags are gonna’ pay for making my cousin cry!”

“Oh, no,” Michael breathed.  Concern for himself was the last thing from his mind; it was for the young man that Michael’s concern extended to.  He stole a glance at Trevor before the whole thing went down.

“Hey, I’m talking to you, motherfuckers!”

Trevor slanted his head, and Michael saw the likes of a cobra about to strike.  “Are you?  Well, what’re you saying?”

“I’m saying you and your fucking chunky friend are about to get fucked for messing with my cousin, man!”

Michael’s remorse for the young man quickly veered.  The hate came out.  “Hey, hey, hey, fuck you, pal!”

“That brainless cousin o’ yours messed with the wrong fucking lion, man,” Trevor said, “and now you’ve gone and messed with the alpha male himself.”

Michael wasn’t about to let up, but the metal bat held behind the young man’s arm made him reconsider his strategy.  Trevor saw it too.  They kept still, waiting for the man to get closer.

He did.

“I don’t care if you’ve got fucking tiger’s blood, dick, I’m gonna’ fuck you up, you cock-sucking faggot!” 

The swing was a good one, aimed at Michael’s temple, but it was Trevor who intercepted the blow.  He took hold of the bat and pried it from the young man’s grip, then flipped it right side into his palms and nailed the guy hard in the left shoulder, breaking his collar bone.  The young man went down in agony.  Michael sighed, but Trevor was not finished.

“Come on,” he said in a growl.  “Let’s get this fuck into the back of the car and take him somewhere out in the woods.  I wanna’ have his complete attention.”

A moment passed where Michael did not speak.  He thought with great intensity on his next actions, for he knew Trevor did not and never would.  The young man whose collar Trevor had broken was bawling at Michael’s feet, rocking and holding himself.  Police would soon come if they heard the noise.  They should run, Michael thought, Trevor and he.  But the guy had tested the last of his patience.  And he was having such a wonderful evening with his friend until this asshole had shown up.  His brows creased.

Mikey,” Trevor said, breaking Michael’s thoughts.  “We’re just gonna’ teach him a tiny, little lesson—a lesson, I might add, that he would eventually learn one way or the other in this perverted, heartless world.  Besides, you gonna’ let him get away with calling you fat?”

Michael hardened. 

Fuck no.”

 


 

Off the road and into the woods, both men found a sizable tree and tied their crying captive to the trunk with stretchable cargo rope.  He wiggled, but there was no way he was getting loose.

Michael got a good few punches in, broke the guy’s finger, but stopped after a while.  He’d had his fun, so he let Trevor take over, watching, listening.

Trevor backhanded the man across the face. 

“Let me school you for a moment, shit-for-brains.  And you better fuckin’ remember what I’m about to tell you, because I’m gonna’ quiz you on it word-for-fucking-word after I’m through.”

Michael lit up a cigarette.  Trevor paced in front of the young man like a hyena circling a wounded buffalo.

“Firstly, you approached two strangers by yourself.  Yeah, yeah, you had a weapon but you’re not fuckin’ crazy enough, let alone talented enough, to pull off taking two guys down by your lonesome.  See, I could take out a whole fuckin’ platoon of men and come out without a fuckin’ scratch, ya’ see, but that’s because I’m fuckin’ seasoned, okay?  I’m talented at what I do.  But, I’m not fuckin’ crazy.  I don’t bring a fuckin’ knife to a gun fight, though if it was a machete I would definitely have to consider it.”

Michael snorted.  Trevor continued.

“Secondly, you attacked us straight on.  I mean what the fuck kind of plan was that?  Poor is what I think.  This brings me to the sub-section of this section.  You attacked us with misplaced passion.  We’ve just learned that you’re no criminal genius, nor are you a violent psychopath, so you have nothing helping you except a handheld weapon that can easily be used against you.  This is a bad combination, friend.”

Michael checked the time on his phone.  Trevor went on.

“Thirdly, you insulted us.  You fueled the fire with emotion, and when it blew up in your face you clearly couldn’t handle it.  You called my friend fat.  You called him a faggot.  What is with the intolerance?  So what if he sucks my dick?  So what if I suck his?  So what if he fucks me in a dingy motel room and I can’t get enough because I have daddy issues coupled with a fear of abandonment, and his penis makes me feel loved for just a few measly moments in my shitty life?” 

Michael rolled his eyes at that, but something in Trevor’s tone put him on edge.  There was menace there.  Angry, spitting, menace.  Michael readied himself as Trevor’s fists clenched.

“What if I secretly long to have him inside me, huh?  Or vice versa?  Huh?  I mean, who wants to be defined by their sexuality anyway, am I right?  What if we love each other?  And what if it makes me feel fuckin’ completeHUH?  That’s my fuckin’ business, not yours!  You hear me, you bigoted shit-fuck?  That’s my fuckin’ business, NOT YOURS!”

TREVOR!”

Michael lunged forward, but by the time he was able to cease Trevor’s flying fists the man bound to the tree trunk had gone limp, his head drooping to his still chest.  Trevor was panting.

“Get the fuck off me!” he shouted, squirming. 

Michael released him with a savage shove.  “What the FUCK were you thinking?!  The guys dead, T!  Dead!  Now we gotta’ dump the body!  We’re supposed to be layin’ low, you stupid shit!”

“Fuck you, Michael!” Trevor replied.  His chest remained heaving and his tear streaked face shown red under the light of the full moon, but his thick brows creased and the rage seemed to ebb.  “I… I-I don’t know what came over me, Mikey.  I… I fucked up.”

Michael sighed, his own anger dissipating at the sight of Trevor’s shame.  “Look… it’s okay.  We’ll… I’ll take care of it.  Not a big deal.  Nobody saw us with ‘em.  Nobody saw us put ‘em in the trunk.  You said so yourself, he attacked us alone.  It’ll be fine.”

Trevor wiped at his face, his harsh demeanor returning.  “I ain’t fuckin’ worried about that.”

“Go to the ca—”

“Oh, don’t start.  Don’t fucking talk to me like I can’t handle this.  I’m a big boy.”

Michael’s temper flared.  “Hey.  You listen to me and you listen good, you crazy fuck.  I told you to do something and you did the exact fucking opposite.  You’re always going against what I say and now look what happened!”

“Don’t you fuckin’ raise your voice at me, you—”

ENOUGHI SAID GO TO THE FUCKING CAR!”

Nothing but the sound of crickets filled the air.  Both men stood feet spread, shoulders squared, muscles coiled as they stared each other down.  Michael’s thin lips were pressed into a straight line.  Trevor’s wild eyes were wide.  It seemed as though a fight would ensue, but just as Trevor dared to open his mouth in retort, he stopped himself, hesitating.  He then cursed as he walked off in the direction of their vehicle.

Michael exhaled.

When the knots were finally undone, Michael dumped their young victim’s limp body into a nearby creek and brushed his hands of the dirt.  Trevor was safe in his car.  Both sat wordless as they drove back to the motel.

 


 

“You should’ve let me handle it, brother.”

Trevor rubbed his nose with the bottom of his dingy t-shirt after throwing the stuffed moose onto the bed. 

Michael remained unimpressed.  “You went berserk.  Big fuckin’ surprise.”  He felt the need to drink, so he plucked a wet beer bottle from the puddle of melted ice within the Styrofoam cooler and cracked the top off.

“Hey, you show me some goddamn respect,” Trevor said.  “You know, if it weren’t for me you’d be nowhere.  I have fuckin’ backbone.  Something you lack, Townley.”

“And you’d be running around in fuckin’ circles lookin’ for a direction if it weren’t for me,” Michael replied.  He turned and held up his hands.  “Look, man, I don’t wanna’ fight with you, okay?  I just wanna’ chill out and have a couple more beers then call it a night.”

“Hm,” Trevor said.  His previous fury had greatly diminished over the course of their ride back, and he seemed content to let the eternal tension festering between them drop.  He sat on the edge of the motel mattress, nodding.  “Yeah.  Yeah, that’s what I want too.”  He paused.  “Good day at the fair though, huh Mikey?”

Michael couldn’t help but shake his head and smile.  “Every day is a fuckin’ day at the fair with you, T.  I suppose it’s a good thing I happen to like riding fucked-up merry-go-rounds.”

“Good days should have happy endings, Michael,” Trevor said while switching on the television.

Michael did not speak.  He stood to the side of the TV, half empty beer in hand, his mind’s gears processing, debating.  Finally he licked his lips and asked, “So, uh… what was up with those couple statements you made back there?  You know, to that guy?”

Trevor’s brown eyes appeared placid as he stared at the television screen, his back laid into the moose and flat pillows propped against the headboard.  “Weren’t you listening, man?  I explained to him how much of an idiot he was.”

“No, I know that,” Michael replied.  “I mean… you know, that other stuff.”

Trevor raised a brow.

“You know… the motel room… vice versa and all…”

Trevor growled.  “I have no idea what you’re saying to me—be more specific.”

“‘Your business’?”

Michael could visibly see the chuckle traveling up Trevor’s throat into the air. 

Ooooooh, the thing about us being in the sack, yeah, yeah.” 

“Yeah, yeah?  That’s it?”

Trevor’s chuckling turned to laughter.  He waved Michael off as he reached for a glass pipe, lighting the bottom of the bowl.  White vapors wafted from his mouth as he spoke.  “I was just fuckin’ around, man, you know, making the guy scared.  He did call you a fag.  That kind of homophobic bullshit I can’t stand.” 

He offered the pipe to Michael, giving a surprised grin when it was actually taken.  Michael took the smallest hit possible and coughed while Trevor nodded, saying, “Yeah, I gotta’ start sellin’ this shit.”

Michael looked disgusted.  “Man, this stuff is repulsive.”

“I know, right?  So good!”

“You got pretty into it.”

“There’s a reason they call it a drug, amigo.”

“No, no.  I mean up in the woods.” 

“I just told you.  It scared ‘em.  He insulted us.”

“I imagine now it seems kinda’ pointless, seeing as how the guy’s dead.”

“Why are you so fixated on this, Michael?”

Ah, there it was.  The question begging to be answered, the mystery Michael himself couldn’t explain.  Why was he so fixated?  He couldn’t be sure, but whether caused by the events of their day or possibly the meth, Michael decided he didn’t care if he knew exactly why.  All he knew was it didn’t add up.  And that, more than anything, irked him. “I’m not fixated,” he managed to say.  “Just wondering.  I mean, why have a fuckin’ tangent about—”

“You wanna’ suck my dick, Michael?” Trevor asked, his voice low, mocking.  He groped himself.  “Is that it, sugar?  That what you trying to get at?”

“Jesus, Trev!”  Michael threw up his hands.  “I didn’t say that.”

“No, you didn’t.  You were doing a piss-poor job of skirting around saying that.  It’s okay, Mikey… it’s just me, you know.  Nothin’ to be ashamed of, wanting to experiment with your best bud…”

Michael was facing the other way, his hand rubbing the bridge of his nose while the television chattered, but even with the noise, the distinct sound of a zipper falling could be heard behind him.  He whirled around.

“Goddamnit, T, put that shit away!”

“Well, what the fuck, Townley!” Trevor barked.  “First you ask me to whip out my thick eight, then you fuckin’ tell me to put it away again—which one is it, bro?”

 “You know I never said anything even remotely like that!”

Trevor stared.  “Um, I’m pretty sure you were just saying to me ‘Trev, please whip out your cock so I can bury it in my throat’.”

Michael jumped in outrage.  “Nothing like that was ever fucking said, you fuckin’ lunatic!”

“Hey, don’t get mad at me for reading between the lines, brother.  You said it, not me.”

Throughout their argument, Michael had started to pace, yet after taking control of himself he slowed, a wide smile spreading his lips from ear to ear.  He pointed at his sprawled friend, chuckling.  “Oh, you sly fuck, you sly, sly fuck.  It ain’t me that was groping himself on the Ferris wheel.”

Trevor bounded forwards.  “I have a rash, I was scratching it.”

Michael glanced down.  “Really?  Seems to have cleared pretty fast.”

A wordless moment passed as Trevor followed Michael’s line of sight to his own exposed erection.  His expression went from confident to that of a man caught within the web of his own lie.  He nodded.  “Alright.  Sure.  Fine,” he said.  “You win.  Whatever.”  He paused.  “But you were thinkin’ about it.”

“Fuck you, Trevor.”  Michael leaned against the wall, his patience beginning to wear.

“You were thinking about it, Mikey, don’t you fuckin’ lie to yourself.  In fact, I’ll bet you were thinking about it long before I put it out there.”

Michael inhaled.  “Would you give it a rest, already?”

“Even that guy knew.  It’s so obvious.  That’s why he called you a faggot.”

That was it.  The audacity of that one fucking word rolling off those lewd lips made Michael snap.

AND NOW HE’S FUCKING DEAD THANKS TO YOUR FUCKING INCOMPETENCE!”

Silence.  The only sound Michael could hear was his own heavy breathing.  Trevor sat frozen, staring, swallowing, his Adam’s apple bobbing in the shallow light of the motel lamp.  This did not help.

“No,” Michael started, pointing harshly at Trevor.  “Ya’ see, this isn’t about fairs or dead guys or suckin’ dick.  This is about you not listening to me and me having to clean your shit.  It’s always about that.”

Trevor blinked.  “I listen,” he whispered.

Michael’s teeth ground in his skull.  “No.  No you fucking don’t.”

“I do.”

The bed creaked with the additional burden of Michael’s weight.  He knelt between Trevor’s legs, his chest hurting, his heart racing like a freight train.  “Prove it,” he said and bent down. 

Trevor reclined into the mess of moose and pillow, his arms spread eagle.  The room was quiet, save for the delicate moans that escaped him.  In his desire he laced his fingers through Michael’s dark hair, but Michael batted them away. 

“Keep your fucking filthy hands on the bed,” was Michael’s response.

This scenario went on for another ten minutes, Michael experimenting, pressing his lips carefully against the rock hard erection in front of his face, licking the tip, nibbling, keeping poor Trevor on the edge of control.  Despite his efforts, Trevor’s restraint was only partial, and he thrust his hips upward periodically, gaining him a jab in the stomach. 

“Cut that humping shit out, too,” Michael said.

“I could if you’d stop teasing…” Trevor replied, craning his neck to see Michael hovering above his length.

Michael frowned.  “I’ll do it how I wanna’ do it.”

They resumed, though Michael gave more in the next five minutes than in the previous ten.  As time passed, both eased into their respective roles, and serenity permeated the atoms of skin and light and air across the room. 

“Oh, Michael…” Trevor breathed.  His hands had released the cover and were suspended over Michael’s head, careful not to touch.  “Yeah… get it nice and wet, sugar…”

Michael unexpectedly surfaced.  Trevor looked at a loss. 

“Take off your clothes.”

Trevor did as told, eventually sliding those horrendous panties he’d worn to the fair off.  Michael followed suit.  When both were relatively bare—apparently Trevor’s socks did not qualify as clothing—Michael palmed himself and tilted his head in indication of his developing hard on.

“Your turn,” he said.  “And don’t skimp.  You’re the one who’ll want it nice and wet, if you know what I mean.”

Trevor gave an innocent look.  “I have lube—”

“Better make sure.”

In contrast to the rather composed and gentle manner in which Trevor received oral, Michael was nowhere near as kind.  He grabbed at Trevor’s unkempt hair with both hands and forced him down.  Consequently, Trevor flailed and attempted to pull back, but Michael yanked at the soft tufts held between his fingers, an edge in his voice. 

“What did I fuckin’ say about those hands, huh?”

A gag was all he got in response.  In the end the offending extremities moved, permitting him access.  For a solid twenty minutes, Michael face-fucked Trevor’s yielding mouth, driving his length as deep as his pelvis would allow.  When he finally let go Trevor flew back and gasped, strands of spit hanging from his parted lips and running down his chin.  Michael waited for the predictable anger to emerge, but nothing—no biting remarks or spiteful quips—came. 

“Nothing to say?” he asked, smirking.

“Mm… ‘s wet…” was all that came.

Michael snorted.  “Yeah, no fuckin’ shit.”  He pointed towards the headboard.  “Lie down.”

Trevor did not object, lying on his back near the headboard with his legs locked at the knees as if he were suddenly fearful of letting them stray apart.  Michael pried them open. 

“Lube,” Trevor said.  He gripped Michael’s shoulder but was flipped fiercely, shoved onto his stomach with his arm seized behind him.  The ever present moose became a tactful device in which Michael applied to elevate his hips.  “Use fucking lube, Michael,” he repeated.  His voice was shrill, and yet there was no real reason for him to fret.  Michael had greased himself as fast as he could flick the bottle’s cap off.

A few good strokes and Michael positioned himself, but Trevor shied.  “Whoa, whoa, wait, wait,” he said and turned to place a hand on Michael’s chest.  He appeared bashful.  “Ain’t you gonna’… you know… give me a finger or—”

Michael scowled.  “I’ll fucking shove my whole goddamn fist up your ass you touch me again.”

“Right,” Trevor replied.  He settled onto his stomach, gripping the bed once more, but his head snapped back as he felt two fingers pushing inside.

“Raise your fuckin’ ass up some more,” Michael said suddenly.

“Huh?”

“I said raise up your fuckin’ ass.”

Trevor arched his back—the moose helping to lift his hips—and sneered.  “Boy, aren’t we genteel.” 

The statement earned him a whack upside the head.  After that there was no more discussion.  Michael removed his fingers, placed his palm against the curve of Trevor’s lower back, and eased himself in.

Ahh,” Trevor said, hissing.  “Oh, Mikey, Jesus, oh… good lord… oh, good lord above…”

Michael’s eyes slipped shut.  As he let himself revel in the satisfaction surrounding him the noise amplified and his heart beat thumped louder in his chest.  He felt strong, physically strong, confident and energetic.  Suddenly he was on top of the whole goddamned world.  He peered down at the image before him, of his friend, his wayward Trevor, spread and speared on his cock.  It made him incredibly hard. 

Without thought, he thrust fiercely.

Gah!” Trevor yelled.  His hands flew up in defense yet again.  “M, you’re really fuckin’ high.  Remember, take it easy on me, I’m new at—”

A surge of rage made Michael yell more violently at his friend than he ever had before. 

“GET YOUR FUCKING HANDS ON THE BED OR I’LL FUCKING BREAK THEM OFF!”

Trevor grabbed at the comforter as if it were his lifeline.  Shock made him conform, but there was clear exhilaration in his sharp, brown eyes.  They fucked for what seemed like hours, Trevor’s knuckles white, fingers enmeshed with the covers as if they were stitched into the seams, Michael as careless and frantic as a wild stallion.  The sound of slapping skin and Trevor’s pathetic whimpering practically echoed, as if they were in a cavern.  They were positive space, connected—the rest was negative and unimportant.

After a while Michael wanted something new, something different, so he flipped Trevor onto his back and immediately sought out the familiar warmth between his thin legs. 

Trevor clawed at the pillows, tugging at the stupid moose now behind his head.  “Mikey,” he said through his teeth.  “Mike, it hurts.  You feel so good, but it fuckin’ hurts.  Oh God, you feel exquisite, I wanna’ come.  I wanna’ come, oh God, I’m gonna’—”

“Don’t touch yourself,” Michael said.  “Don’t even think about it.  Keep those hands where they are.”

Trevor groaned.  “It fuckin’ hurts, man, oh God it fuckin’ hurts.  I’m gonna’ fucking explode.  Please, Mikey, please, good God let me come…”

Michael shifted, adjusting his aim.  He thrust faster.  The muscles in Trevor’s neck twitched.

“That’s it, that’s the fucking spot, holy shit, holy shit, shit, shit, shit—”

“Yeah…” Michael said.

“—you’re gonna’ make me come, oh God, oh fuck, shit, oh shit, keep going, keep fuckin’ me, yes, yes, yes—”

“Mm, yeah…”

“—oh yes, I love you, I love you, I love you, oh God I fucking love you, Michael, Michael, Michael, Michael—”

“Oh, T…”

As Trevor released he reared, but Michael clutched at his hips to keep him from breaking their union.  There were no words to describe it, the sensation; Michael could feel the rhythmic pulse around him, could feel it throb deep in his stomach.  Trevor convulsed for a full minute, his actual orgasm lasting likely half that time, but the after effects keeping his body in rigorous spasms.  Michael kept his pace throughout.

“Yeah… ride that shit…”

“Oh, Mikey,” Trevor said.  “Oh, God…”

“Shut up.”

A look of uncertainty spread across Trevor’s face as Michael moved for the edge of the bed, but this confusion didn’t last for long.  Michael grabbed his friend’s neck with one hand and his erection with the other and forced the two to meet.  With his length fully enveloped, he pumped himself with Trevor’s slackened lips to his peak.

“Yeah,” he said.  “Yeah, you fuckin’ taste yourself, you psychotic, Canadian, redneck fuck.”

As he came he sent a combination of both ejaculate and snot shooting from Trevor’s nose.  Finally his hands loosened, and Trevor pulled back to gasp as if he’d just breached the ocean surface after being forced underwater for several minutes.  He looked tired and spent, and under his eyes were dark circles, a testament to his fatigue.  The excess jism that had spurt from his nostrils lingered on his face in white streaks, mixing with his tears, yet he didn’t seem to notice or care.  He simply sat on his knees and breathed.

Michael stared.  In that precise moment he couldn’t help but think the sight of it all was somehow beautiful.  The calm, that was. 

He drew forth his hand and thumbed the rest of himself into Trevor’s mouth.  Trevor languidly ingested, swallowing slowly, humming to himself softly.  This disturbed Michael, so he retreated and stood.  Trevor did not follow.  He stayed on the motel mattress, dumb-struck by their recent connection.  With the feeling of guilt creeping into his mind, Michael unmade the bed for the both of them and laid his weary head into one of the pillows.  The shame intensified when Trevor did not look at him.

“T…” he said and brushed his knuckles against his friend’s elbow.  “Trev, you alright?  Say something so I know you haven’t gone into a fuckin’ coma.”

Trevor did not speak, but turned and leaned in, his head tilted in anticipation of a kiss.  Michael blocked him gently. 

Trevor blinked.  “Oh.  I get it,” he said, his expression growing dark.  “I wasn’t aware I was your whore for the evening.”

Of course, with Trevor everything tended to happen fast, so as soon as Michael could even get a world of protest out, the bathroom door was slammed shut.  It locked from the inside. 

“Trevor,” Michael said.  “Come on… don’t… don’t get upset.  Look, that was nothing.  Just a reaction.  Nothing against you personally.  You know that.”

“FUCK YOU, MICHAEL!” Trevor screamed from the other side.

“Don’t do this, T,” Michael said back.

“FUCK YOU!”

Michael sighed.  He sat on the bed in wait, knowing the other man would eventually get bored in such a small space and come out in search of either food, drugs or liquor, but Trevor seemed to be persistent.  The shower switched on, and Michael’s brow rose in curiosity.  Soon he was yawning.  He cracked his neck, his head swinging from side to side, and stretched his back.  He was beyond exhausted.  Beyond caring.  He went to the bed and fell, closing his eyes to the mounting emotions of guilt and shame and love snaking into his gut.

 


 

Nighttime was riddled with terrors.  He woke with a start and jerked, his eyes snapping open, his heart thudding erratically against his ribs like the galloping hooves of a Clydesdale or the thrashing of a crazed drummer.  People, the ones he’d hurt, chased him as he slept, and he had to tell himself it was only a nightmare before he could begin to calm.  Taking a deep breath, his heart rate lowering, he looked to his right.  Trevor slept by his side, stuffed moose supporting that fraying head of hair. 

It didn’t seem believable that Trevor could sleep so peacefully.  Then again, perhaps it was not so peaceful, as Michael could soon tell.

Trevor’s face contorted as he mumbled something in protest, a ‘please, don’t’.  It wasn’t until the near incoherent word ‘dad’ came out that Michael understood.  A strange compassion made him lift his hand and caress his knuckle against that quivering bottom lip.  After that, Trevor seemed to relax, shifting under the sheets some and settling again.  Michael actually smiled. 

The expression faded when he couldn’t get back to sleep.  Eventually he decided to do something, if only to tire himself.  “Trevor,” he whispered.  “Hey, Trev.”

Trevor did not stir.

“T,” Michael said again, more insistent.  He rolled over, fitting himself between Trevor’s thighs, his mouth suspended close.  “Trevor.”

A grunt pierced the quiet.  Lips smacked.  “Mmm, what?”

“I can’t sleep,” he replied.

Trevor groaned.  “Seriously?  I was starting to have good dreams…”

“I can’t sleep.”

“Yeah, yeah, it’s always about y—”

The remainder of his statement was muffled by Michael’s insistent lips.  After a moment he withdrew.  The rush of Trevor’s breath blew hot on his cheek.

“Really?” Trevor asked.  “Now you kiss me?”

“…  I can’t sleep,” was all Michael could think of to say.

Rumbling laughter ensued and Michael felt flushed.

Trevor’s laughter dissolved into soft chuckles.  “Oh, M.  You really are pathetic aren’t you?”

Michael didn’t respond.  He was suddenly happy the darkness concealed the look of stiff shame on his face, but somehow he imagined Trevor noticing nonetheless. 

“I’m going back to sleep,” Trevor said and turned to his side, a blatant snub.  “You wake me again and I’ll cut your goddamn nose off.”

Michael heard the mattress squeak as Trevor got comfortable, then only the void remained.  He felt reluctant to let his friend treat him with such disrespect, and yet he was in no position to do anything about it, except to swallow his pride.

“I know you want me to leave you alone but…”  Michael bit his lip.  “Would you consider holding me?”

Trevor shifted back.  “What’s that, Mike?”

“Give it up, T.  Let’s just do this thing, okay?”

“Whooooa, excuse me?”  Trevor shot forward, forcing Michael back.  “You dare take that tone with me?  After treating me like a fuckin’ come depository?  It was nothing to you—meant nothing.”

“It wasn’t nothing.  I was just… unprepared for the aftermath, is all.”

Trevor made an angry sound.  “It always about you, fuckin’ always about Michael.  Your pain, your pleasure, your safety, your happiness.  You never think of anyone else but yourself.”

Michael was admittedly stunned.  Was he that bad?  Was he that hell bent on getting his own way?  He wasn’t sure.  No one had ever ripped the truth from him so heartlessly and laid it out in front of him as plainly as Trevor had.  It was overwhelming.  He felt his voice crack in his throat as he said, “I do too.”

Trevor snorted.  “No you don’t.”

“I do,” Michael tried to say.

Within the course of their speaking, Trevor had tactfully redirected Michael onto his back, resting on top of him.  “Prove it…” he whispered.

Their mouths met once again, but Trevor brought the heat.  His tongue slithered and slid and lapped at Michael’s mouth and lips, his hands roaming uninhibited, his hips abiding their natural rhythm. 

Silently, Michael stared past the silhouetted outline of Trevor’s head at the dark, beige ceiling.  He did all he could to rest, lie back, loosen up, but Trevor’s hands on his bare skin, freeing his flaccid length, made a sickening frisson zip along his spine.  These sharp trembles—the ways Trevor made his body feel—were so distracting, had made his focus so obscured, that before he knew it he was being entered.  He groaned.  Trevor hushed him.  Soon they were in limbo, on the cusp of climactic union, and Trevor’s low rasp of a voice was apparent above the moaning, the squeal of the bed, and the amplified buzz of the motel heaters.

“Lights,” Trevor said unexpectedly.  “Need lights.  Turn ‘em on.  Gotta’ see you like—”

No,” Michael replied.  He whipped his arms around Trevor’s shoulders, his legs wrapping Trevor’s lower back, locked.  “No, don’t,” he said again.   “Don’t leave me now, even for a second.”

Trevor gently placed his palms on each side of Michael’s face.  “Shit, M.  Jesus, you feel so fucking beautiful, so fucking magnificent.  I’m gonna’ come… God, I’m gonna’ come inside you.”

“Trevor, no…”

“Yes, Michael.”

Michael moaned.

“Oh, Mikey,” Trevor said in a breath as he let himself go.

Throughout, Michael did not reach his completion, having had no real time to adjust to the new sensation of being penetrated, so when Trevor finally withdrew it became obvious he needed to continue his work.  He grabbed Michael’s thighs to pull and lift, giving access.  His head dropped.  Michael could barely contain the sounds filling his throat. 

In less than five minutes Michael—with the help of Trevor’s agile tongue dipping beyond the recently widened hole of his ass—palmed himself towards his end.  He laid spent without a care or thought as to anything beyond the slight twitch in his leg or the wetness at his backside. 

Trevor whispered things to him, tender things, but he couldn’t hear them, nor would he remember them if he had.

Finally, with his guilt cleared and his heart sated, he could sleep.

           


 

 

Birds actually chirped that morning.  Michael could swear a boisterous sparrow had pierced through the haze that was his silent slumber.  He twisted onto his side, his arm stretching beneath his pillow to feel thecool of the fabric, yawning.  He cleared his throat and glanced to his side, expecting to see a hot young babe lying next to him.  He saw Trevor.

The sight nearly sent him bolting from the bed.  But as the memories of their night filled his mind his muscles relaxed. 

Subsequently, he looked around the room at the once cluttered floor and messy table.  He realized it was cleaner than before, probably more so than it had ever been.  He glanced at Trevor’s sleeping figure once more and realized the man was clothed in a washed pair of jeans and a pressed plaid shirt, his hair slightly damp, his skin smelling fresh.  The implication was that he’d showered and tidied the place up before Michael had awakened.  This made Michael anxious.

He tried to rise from his spot, to tiptoe from the bed and possibly slip out the door unheard, but he wasn’t sure that was the right decision in regards to his unstable friend, though it didn’t matter much anyway seeing as how Trevor woke at the sound of the bed moving.

“Hey sleepy head,” Trevor said, his voice strangely smooth, the typical inflections evened out, his tone nonviolent.

“Yeah,” Michael replied.  His eyes darted.  “So, uh… when did you get up?”

Trevor gave him a dreamy smile.  The expression terrified Michael.  “Couple hours ago.  You hungry?  I was thinking of getting us some coffee across the street.  Maybe we can hit up that diner across town.  After that we could come back and pack up… maybe relax a little too…”

Michael licked his lips nervously and stared at the third-rate painting on the far wall.  Trevor went on.

“Of course, if you don’t want anything right away, Mike, we could just indulge in one another…”

Languidly, Trevor ran his palm up Michael’s bare thigh.  Michael jerked and jumped off the bed, only to have Trevor pursue him with a look of concern.

“You okay?  You look kinda’ pasty, Mikey.  I’ll get you some water.”

Flowing water and Trevor handing him a glass brought Michael back to some semblance of reality.  He shook his head, still speechless.

“You want me to just pick you something up at that diner?  I know how you like your coffee.  I can grab you some cigarettes too, sugar.”

Sugar.  It was the way Trevor had said it.  Sweetly.  Nicely.  Affectionately.  Without a hint of sarcasm or scorn. 

Michael practically flew backwards as if he’d been punched.  Trevor had his arms outstretched to catch him, but Michael kept their distance with a loud shout.

NO,” he screamed.

Trevor halted.  “Michael, what the fuck is wrong with you?”

“T, listen… listen to me.”  Michael’s breathing was erratic and he held up his hands, blocking his friend.  “Just stay where you are.  Stay and listen.”

Trevor smiled that wistful smile again.  “I can listen…”

Michael nearly threw up.  “Trevor… this… you and me… y-you got the wrong idea.”

Trevor blinked.

“About last night—”

“And this morning.”

Michael paled.  “We… we fucked this morning?”

“No.  But I was a little hungry and helped myself to some crème a la Michael.”

Michael’s head was reeling.  “No, no, no, no, no, shit no…”

“Huh?”  Trevor’s face harshened. 

“T… T, I’m sorry.  I can’t…”  Michael started to pace, but stopped and caught Trevor’s eyes.  He gave his most sincere impression.  “Trevor, what happened last night, and this morning, or at any other point in time… was a mistake.  An honest mistake.”

Trevor stayed quiet.

“You and I are real good friends.  Best friends.  Brothers, man.  That’s our relationship.  That’s what it is, and that’s what it’ll always be.  I don’t wanna’ lose that.  You understand me?”

For the longest time, Trevor didn’t respond.  His face was unreadable, his mouth slack, his eyes unflinching.  Then all of a sudden he laughed. 

“O-of course!  Y-you thought I was…?  No, no, man, no.  I was… I, no, I was just offering to get you something.  No, I didn’t think there was something, like… us.  Hell no.”  He turned and grabbed the meth pipe from the small trash bin.  “Besides—that’s not how I roll.  Plus, that type of bullshit would fuck up our partnership, and this shit ain’t a game to me.”  He was quick to pack the pipe and light it, taking a deep hit.

“Yeah…” Michael agreed, his heart sinking.

There was a long period where neither man spoke.  Both got ready for the day, Michael gathering his clothes and jacket and keys, Trevor taking great measure not to look into Michael’s guilt stricken eyes.  When an hour had past them, Michael made for the door, expecting Trevor to follow, but Trevor lingered, leaning against the frame of the door as he had upon greeting Michael the previous day.     

“You coming?” Michael asked.  He felt stupid, but he didn’t know what else to say.

Trevor gave a smile but the bottom of his jaw trembled ever so slightly.  “Actually, think I’m gonna’ stick around here, Mikey boy.”

“You sure?”

“I’ll meet up with ya’ later.  Promise.”

At that moment, Michael was gripped with an unexpected fear.  Not of his friend, but for his friend.  He stepped close, held Trevor’s sullen brown eyes with his own green ones, and said, “Hey, man, I love you.  You know that, right?”

Trevor was seemingly caught off guard.  He nodded.  “Course.  Love you too, Mikey.”

“I’ll… I’ll be down at that diner.”  Michael thumbed the direction.  “Meet ya’ there in, say… couple hours?”

“Heh…”  Trevor let his cheek rest against the yellowed door frame.  He looked weary.  “I’ll give you a call.”

The door shut and Michael fought the urge to jam it open again, to hug Trevor and beg his forgiveness, to hold him and take away the horrible pain he’d caused, but his feet were stuck to the ground.  After a minute he managed to turn and descend the stairwell leading to the parking lot, unlocking his car and ducking inside.  He drove to the diner and sat there for six hours before heading back to his own motel room to crash for the rest of the day.

      


 

 

Time passed.  Michael didn’t see Trevor until a week later, but he almost wished he hadn’t.  Trevor was a mess, a tweaked out disaster coming off a seven day meth binge.  He looked worn to shreds.  His skin was splotchy and red from picking.  Dark semi-circles could be seen under his eyes.  His hair was scruffy and beard stubble lined his gaunt cheeks.  Michael had barely recognized him.

“Jesus,” Michael said under his breath.  “You, uh, you okay, T?”

Trevor simply looked at him with a cracked grin.  “Never been better, Mikey!  Never been better!”

           


 

           

The calm was always something Michael enjoyed.  After Trevor had tapered off a binge, or altogether randomly stopped his disgusting habit by some sheer strength of will, both men would then meet up and continue their usual existence of theft and burglary.  Trevor never mentioned that night, or the scant few that happened thereafter—a result of Michael’s pervasive guilt and lonesomeness—where they came together in a whir of panicky emotions, most of which were lust and an outlandish, eccentric brand of love.

He kept dodging that fucking bullet consistently.  And only when the calm came, when he was centered within the tranquil eye of Trevor’s tempest soul, did he hark back to the very source of his good fortune, to the nights one could count on a single hand where they’d laid together in the darkness, connected in every way.

He hoped, what with everything that could potentially unfold—with Brad dead and his relentless friend on the scent of his betrayal—that he could survive the storm one last time.