“You have a kid?”
Whizzer stares at Marvin, looking equally shocked and infuriated.
“Look,” Marvin replies curtly, “it’s not like I was trying to hide it from you. It just didn’t exactly seem relevant to bring up until now.”
“Relevant? Jesus, Marvin, we’ve been seeing each other for nearly three months. Of course it’s relevant.”
Marvin picks at his dinner in silence for a moment, avoiding Whizzer’s judgemental gaze. Meanwhile, Whizzer seems to have given up on his food entirely, pushing his plate away in a huff.
“I put up with you being married. I didn’t ask any questions. But this? This is too much.” He says, throwing his hands up in frustration.
In that moment, Whizzer truly regrets not asking more questions. He had allowed himself to be pulled in by the excitement of an illicit affair. Being with Marvin almost made him feel like a kid again, kissing boys behind the gym bleachers and hoping no one saw him. But he is in far over his head this time. He should have called it quits when Trina caught him with Marvin and chased them both out of her house in a flurry of shouting and broken glass. And now there’s a child involved?
“If you want to leave, then fine. Leave.” Marvin gestures firmly towards the door. “My family is important to me. I want you to be a part of it. I want you to meet my son. If you can’t deal with that, this is not going to work out.”
A sinking feeling settles in the pit of Whizzer’s stomach as he realizes how trapped he is. He should leave. He should run out of Marvin’s dingy, tacky apartment and never look back. Just move on to the next adventure, like he always does. But Whizzer has broken the rules to his own game: he’s let himself get attached. There is something undeniably intoxicating about being with Marvin. The way Marvin makes his heart race with giddiness. The way Marvin needs him. It’s both pathetic and exciting. And so he doesn’t leave. He doesn’t even stand up. He simply folds his arms and tries desperately to look like he’s still in control of this situation.
“You should have told me before now, Marvin. You can’t just keep a secret like that from me.”
He doesn’t sound nearly as assertive as he intends to, and Marvin sees him falter. He makes his move.
“I’m sorry.” Marvin lets out a sigh. “I didn’t want to rush things. But if this thing between us is going to last, then I’d like you to meet him.”
This seems to work. Whizzer’s expression softens almost imperceptibly. Apologies from Marvin are exceedingly rare, and Whizzer almost gives in right then and forgives him. But not yet. He can’t surrender that easily.
“And what makes you so sure that this ‘thing between us’ is going to last? You lied to me.”
“Stop it, Whizzer.” Marvin replies coldly, his patience quickly evaporating. “You agreed to this whole affair. You knew what you were getting into. Do not put this all on me.”
He’s not entirely wrong, and Whizzer knows it. This entire arrangement they have is built on a foundation of deceit. And Whizzer has gone along with it eagerly. Encouraged it, even. It was a game. And now, the stakes are too high to stop. What is he supposed to do? Being alone is exhausting. The cycle of bars and clubs and one night stands. People who use him only to kick him to the curb the next week. For all of Marvin’s faults, Whizzer feels comfortable here with him. He feels safe, even. It’s too much to give up.
“Does it really mean that much to you?”
“I told you,” Marvin replies, “My family means everything to me.”
Whizzer nods slowly, hesitating before he speaks again.
“What’s the kid’s name?”
At that, Marvin can’t help but breathe a small sigh of relief. Maybe, just maybe, he can pull this off. He can keep his lover, his child, his wife. There is no losing. No sacrifice. Not if he does this right.
“Jason. His name’s Jason.”
Whizzer doesn’t betray any emotion on his face.
“Does he know you’re queer?”
Queer. That word, and the bluntness with which Whizzer uses it, makes Marvin flinch. Giving a name to what he is makes it far too real. But he lets it go. Arguing now would be foolish, especially when Whizzer is so close to giving in.
“No. I mean, I think he might have guessed it, but I haven’t told him.”
“So, you haven’t introduced him to any other guys you’ve been with?” Whizzer asks.
Marvin is beginning to feel interrogated, but he still keeps his cool.
“I have. Always as ‘a friend from work’. Or something like that.”
It takes Whizzer a moment to process what he’s hearing. When he does, he shakes his head.
“Incredible.” He says dryly. “So you lie to your kid. Just like you lied to lied to me. Just like you lied to your wife. And now-”
“Whizzer, don’t…” Marvin warns, cutting him off.
“Oh, no, I’m not done.” He raises his voice, planting both hands on the table. “Why should I help you lie anymore? I am not going to be your ‘friend from work’ just so you can keep pretending you have some picture-perfect, traditional family. Don’t drag me into this.”
Whizzer expects Marvin to yell back. To escalate things like he always does. There’s something almost comforting in the routine of their arguments. So, when Marvin slumps in his seat, his eyes fixed on the floor, it is unnerving.
“I’m trying my best here, Whizzer.” He says, dragging his hand over his face. “This is all a mess, and I know that. Maybe I’m an idiot for thinking this will all work out. But I want you. You make me happy. I don’t want to lose that. I can’t lose that. But I also can’t give up my family for you.”
The silence is deafening. Once again, Whizzer’s brain tells him to leave. If he doesn’t leave now, the door will close for good and he’ll be trapped. But, as is too often the case, he doesn’t listen to his brain. All he can see are Marvin’s sad, tired eyes. And so, he lets the door close.
“Fine.” He mutters under his breath. “Alright. I’ll play along for now. But don’t you dare forget I’m doing you a huge favor.”
Marvin reaches across the table, taking Whizzer’s hand in his own.
“I know. Thank you, Whizzer.” And, for once, he seems to genuinely mean those words.
But Whizzer quickly pulls his hand away.
“And no more lies. I’ll be your ‘friend’ for now, but you have to tell your kid the truth eventually. I’m not going back in the closet to make the rest of your family comfortable.”
“Of course.” Marvin acquiesces. “I promise. I just...I need time to figure this all out.”
Whizzer nods, a resigned expression on his face.
“Good. So, when do you want me to meet him?”