Kevin’s knee jiggled restlessly in the cramped bus seat, earning him a curious look from Arnold and a semi murderous glare from the people in front. He could contain his anxiety to a low point of keeping still but it had to come out somewhere. He pressed a palm to the top of his knee to stop it slightly but still felt the coiling energy contained there.
“What if he’s not here either?”
“He will be”
Kevin, in his haze of anxiety, was incredibly impressed with how Arnold was handling everything. Uganda had made a child into a man that was comforting someone who had been so strong before love, and the loss of everything he had believed in, had broken him.
They had already been to the nearest village to theirs with little to no result thanks to a grumpy woman who had obviously had some choice words for Naba who blushed and refused to translate. All she had told them was that he had been there and not paid as to why they had not received the warmest of welcomes. Naba assured them that he couldn’t have gone any further than where they were travelling now in the timeframe he was given.
Arnold’s head swung in his direction and pierced him with a strong look. “Are you kidding me?”
The entirety of the bus fell silent as they felt tens of pairs of eyes glued to them as if they were circus acts.
“White boys” An older lady scoffed in their direction as she turned back towards the front.
Arnold blushed and lowered his voice to as close to a whisper as he could get. Which was fairly far off. “You can not be telling me that the Kevin Price is nervous?”
Kevin shot him a look before he resumed to glaring at his black glad legs, picking at the odd bits of fluff that had accumulated whilst he was on the bus. This whole trip felt like a colossal practical joke.
“You are!” Arnold yelled once again, forgetting himself and earning a hastily delivered apology from Naba. It was definitely the best idea for Arnold to have brought Naba with them- only heavenly father knew how many times she’d saved their scrawny asses in the last few days.
“Alright I am, okay! Jesus” Kevin hissed, swatting at the accusatory hand that Arnold was pointing in his face.
Arnold nodded but kept the glare glued to his face for a second. “Blasphemy Elder!”
Kevin screwed up his face and turned to face the window petulantly, blocking out the obnoxious whiny voice of his angry best friend for a few minutes.
Elder Kevin Price had never been in love before- heck he’d barely even had a crush throughout school. Whilst other boys his age had thrown the rules to the wind, knowing their official work didn’t begin until they enrolled at university, he had his nose stuck firmly into the book they based their lives around. He’d spent years and knew practically every verse by heart but it had all come crashing down before him. Not only did the book make no sense to him now, he was now on his way to further throw himself into sin. So why didn’t he care? Elder Kevin Price was a straight-laced little Mormon boy. Connor’s nickname for him was Kev. Kev. Kev Price.
“Kev. I wanna be called Kev from now”
The pair looked at him strangely but Arnold shrugged. “No problems buddy but why the change?”
Kevin felt heat seep into his cheeks as he closed his eyes and turned back towards the window. “Elder Kevin Price was perfect and great and believed in things that were impossible. Kev knows that some things aren’t possible and that life isn’t one big adventure but at least he has his boyfriend”
Naba laid a gentle hand on Kevin’s arm, the warmth and affection feeding into him slowly.
“Urm Kev? I know it’s rude but what does this make you?”
Kevin turned back towards his companions slowly. “What do you mean?”
“Are you gay now?” he blurted suddenly.
Kevin laughed genuinely for the first time in week, lacing his own fingers together on his lap as he kept his eyes trained on his friend. “I hadn’t thought about it. I guess so”
“But don’t you like girls?”
“Girls always liked me. I always thought they were a bit too... sweet smelling” he admittedly, his voice trailing towards the end. He’d barely admitted all of those to himself but he was spilling his guts to the two people who wouldn’t judge him. Plus the rest of the bus that wanted to listen.
“What about... you know... Sister Smith?”
Kevin felt a pang in his chest- guilt maybe? It wasn’t a common emotion for the one and only, mostly completely self obsessed man that was Kevin Price. Only mostly as now he was travelling cross country just to find a man. Something new for him.
“I was...” He took a deep breath as he pursed his lips together in thought. “It wasn’t the most original thought I’ve ever had but I thought he’d sent her as a sign to stop whatever I was doing”
Arnold’s brow furrowed in concentration as he went through Kevin’s words in his head and attempting to come to a conclusion before giving in and giving his friend another bear hug. “It’s okay best friend. You’ll still be my favourite even if you don’t like boobies”
Naba glared towards her boyfriend and shoved him, her lips pursed in playful anger. “I thought I was your favourite”
Arnold’s eyes widened in shock as he looked back and forth between the two most important people in his life before heaving a heavy sigh and dropping his head into his hands. “I can’t choose” he wailed pitifully to himself which caused the entirety of the bus to turn towards them once again, one of them even going so far as to throw a piece of rotting bread towards his lowered head. He shot up, startled, before Naba began to smooth it all over again.
Kevin glanced towards the right of the bus and breathed a sigh of relief as he spotted the sign for Lira, seeing the light at the end of their hellish journey. To some rejoiceful cheers, the three exited the bus without much drama and looked around the slightly larger village than their own.
The two men looked hopefully towards Naba before she rolled her eyes and began walking towards the tallest building in the vicinity.
“ Ambapo ungeweza kuwa bila mimi? ” Naba muttered angrily under her breath as Kevin attempted to move his feet from where they had halted.
“Hey buddy. It’ll be okay”
Kevin nodded slowly as he looked down at his hands thoughtfully. He had held Connor whilst he cried. When he laughed. When he was stressed. What if he never saw him again?
“He needs you”
Those miniscule three words caused a light to burn in his chest brightly. A sense of importance mixed with the overwhelmingly suffocating panic over Connor and spurred one foot to move in front of the other until he was level with Arnold who was watching Naba with rapt interest as she spoke rapid Swahili to the desk attendant.
“Isn’t she so cool when she talks swine flu?” Arnold said wistfully, gazing towards his girlfriend with pure adoration. Kevin thought better than correcting him at that tender moment. He’d soon realise... surely.
Naba nodded resolutely and said some pleasantries that Kevin understood- of course he had attempted to learn, he was Kevin Price- before walking back towards them.
“He’s here” she murmured to Kevin gently, placing a hand on his shoulder gently. “I have a plan of what to do-”
Naba continued explaining her plan to Kevin who had tuned out from the conversation and focusing on the fact that he may be coming to the end of this tortuous journey. His eyes strayed to the stairwell to notice the arrival of the source of this entire thing. Their eyes locked over the lobby and Kevin nodded once before beginning the slow walk over to him without a word to either of his friends