We hide who we are.
We do it with macho posturing and sexist by-play next to the coffee machine; with girls, girls, girls at discos, at work, and at bars, but never at home. At home it's just me and him, dark, sweaty and hot under me in my big bed, the brass railing knocking against the wall as I fuck him into oblivion. Or at his place, the big mirror overhead showing me his back and hips moving sinuously as he pounds into me or curls over me, sucking me deep.
The girls are strangely absent.
So far, we're getting away with it. You'd think the guys at work would be onto us already, what with the way we've always been, tighter than tight and doing things for each other I've never seen other partners do. Not just the two arms he put around me when we found Sweet Alice murdered in her bed by her latest and final john. Not just the shared coffee cups, or Starsky going to the mat for me when I was accused of murdering my ex-wife a few years ago. But I'm thinking specifically of me hanging over his hospital bed, tears too heavy to stay in my eyes, so they fell directly onto the sheets while I waited for him to die. Or not.
As it turns out: not.
Which is a good thing, because I don't think I could've handled his funeral. Not just because I'd want to crawl in the cold ground with him. But because no one would know why it would be so hard for me not to.
No one knows. Not my father, who could never understand why I brought my work buddy to my mother's funeral. Not his mother, who still calls him once a week with the hope her pleas will get him to deliver that grandchild she's been waiting for so uselessly. Not Huggy, who sometimes looks at us funny when we never go home with those girls from the Pits, the giggling, brown-eyed girls with their weekend libidos and their wide, whiskey-neat smiles.
Sometimes I wonder how long it will take for Starsky to get tired of it—the games, and the lies, and the cold knowledge of our difference. He's always been a joiner, part of every scene he happens upon, always instantly liked and accepted. I could live forever outside, on the fringes, where I've always been. But Starsky needs people around him.
All I need is him.
That's why the trip. At first, he looked at me like I was nuts, one sandwich shy of a picnic. When he realized I was serious, he argued it was too risky. When that didn't work, we got down to the meat of it—he didn't want to go hang out with a bunch of "light-weights" as he called them. On one hand, I knew where he was coming from. The scene was as unfamiliar to me as it was to him, and I expected us to show up and find some weird Oz-like fairyland, where all the guys sang show tunes and wore purple tutus.
But it wasn't like that at all.
I really only wanted to find a place where we could be ourselves, outside our bedrooms. Find a place where I could hold his hand or kiss him like I meant it. In front of other people. I didn't care who.
But what we found, instead, were friends. Gary, the fireman from New York with the ugly burn scar on his neck and the golden smile. And his guy, Chuck, an ex-policeman and now a writer of children's books. Alex, stockbroker and father of two, allowed to see his children only on supervised visits. Tony, the teacher who'd lost three jobs in four years each time the word got out, but who still burned to teach. The kids, he said, never gave a damn. It was the parents who were trouble.
The guys at the resort loved Starsky, of course, and not just because he had the best ass walking. He sat at the center of the parties and told great stories about the two of us, all nicely sanitized for public consumption, the blood and the vomit and heartbreak carefully omitted.
Except for one late night, after two bottles of Jack Daniels had met their maker and we were alone with Gary and Chuck. Then we talked about it, and about our brothers on the job, and what it was like to spend each day wondering who else was hiding in the blue and the black.
Who else? How alone are we really, Starsky and me?
I count down the days sometimes, when it gets bad and I find myself wishing. Now that we're back, we've already booked our stay for next year. One week a year, we can be free. And twelve long years to go before we've put in our thirty and no longer have to hide who we are.
So, sometimes when it's late and the night thoughts get me, I look down at him sleeping softly beside me.
And I wonder if twelve years is too much to ask.