It was the darkest night that Matty could remember. The torrential rain continued it’s assault on the black Firebird, as the young civilian waited solemnly for any sign that it would pass. He had found a place to park to wait out the vicious weather, but every time the lights of the Monument pierced the deluge and the drumbeat diminished in the young man’s ears, the heavy hand of the Others reached out and the darkened street became their domain, once again.

             The auburn- haired youth sat silently in the shadowy car , deep in thought, staring straight ahead. His mind strained to find the answers to the cyphers that had tripped him in ways he had never anticipated. He thought back to the summers of his youth and the confluence of events that had cascaded to bring him here since then. He came to only one conclusion.

              He was alone, in a way that he had never been, in his entire life.

              It was approaching 3 A.M.  when Matty realized that his plans to see Mike had been poorly conceived. The rain continued it’s relentless assault on the sporty car and the young man shook his head. The sadness turned to a deep pain in his chest, and suddenly he found the night air stifling, so he rolled down the window and tried to breathe, but it was useless. The panic overtook him and he opened the door and climbed out of the low- riding car into the swirling torrent, but he barely felt it. It was as though the life was being squeezed from his heart as he staggered from the car to the brick building, doubled over,holding his head in his hands.

He leaned against the rough wall and then slid to the concrete sidewalk, his heart pounding. It was no use.

The reckoning had begun, and the Others watched… The sadness became despair as he remembered.

August 1975

           “Are you coming over sometime tonight, or should I put a lantern in the window for you?” the tall boy queried, sarcastically.

           “I’m coming, I’m coming, just hold your horses, Bubba! It’ll be worth your while! I just finished shaving and put on your favorite pants…”

          “Huh? The white cords? Oh my God… What are you tryin’ to do? You know I can’t resist a boy in white cords!” Matty chuckled. “Drag your butt though… I’m freakin’ bored and I showered over two hours ago already. Besides, you really shouldn’t be keeping a birthday boy waiting like this!” He grinned trying to picture the boy on the other end of the conversation.

         “Yeah, don’t I know! Gonna have the candles burning and the special sheets on the waterbed?? Oh… And that fur glove we used for our little game last…”

           “Shut up already!” Matty chuckled. He had always been uncomfortable talking about the intimacies that the two boys shared, and much preferred their adventures to be remembered in his heart and in the tingles that he felt every time that special smile overtook his face. The one that lasts a lifetime, even if it also brings sadness at times.

             Bobby laughed hysterically on the other end of the line. “Bubba… After all this time… Dear Bubba… Still as shy as the first time in the treehouse.” He sighed, and Matty could feel his gentle smile. “Well, it doesn’t matter. That’s one of the things I love about you so much… You’re still that same skinny catholic boy I defrosted that night in my bathtub after a couple of shots of Jack Daniels and our Christmas feast. I’ll always remember you like that. Standing in the living room in my best, purple robe, off in another world with the tree lights making you look like a little kid. My Bubba. My best friend… The only guy I ever loved…”

            Matty tried to talk, but choked on the words… He cleared his throat and rubbed the sudden tears from his eyes. Then, in typical fashion, he joked the silence away.

             “So… You love me more than Joey, then?”

             There was a moment of silence on the line and then an angry response. “Cripes, Matty! How many times do I have to tell you? What happened between me and Joe wasn’t planned, and I already said I was sorry like 200 times! Man! You know it was the fact that I was missing you so bad, and he showed up in town… I told you how bad I felt… dirty, and like a traitor… I didn’t know a few blow jobs could cause so much trouble between us!”

              Matty stopped him there, instantly regretting his poor attempt at humor.

              “Whoa! Stop, Bobby… I’m sorry, man. I meant it as a joke! I guess I… uh, well, I guess I should stop bringing that up, even if I am joking. I told you I blamed myself as much as anything, and I meant it, only… well, listen.  You know how much I love you, you maniac! …

               Bobby mumbled something under his breath that Matty couldn’t understand.

“Huh? I didn’t get that…”

                “Prick…”

                Matty grinned, and giggled quietly. “Yeah, I know. I love you too… So, when are you coming, then?”

                 “Leavin’ in two minutes. Just gotta put some gas in the bike…”

“OK, sweetheart… See you in a little bit then. Can’t wait…”

                   “Me neither…”

Those were the last words I ever spoke to him while he was still alive.

Bobby was taken from me in a way  that I will never understand. In the brutal tearing of human flesh against the ragged steel of a careening  truck, that wandered drunkenly  into his path, and stole the last breath of life from my precious boy.

                   I heard the crash down the street. My heart stopped, and I knew immediately. I ran outside and saw the smoldering wreckage. The shattered  metal of the red Honda 450. Bobby’s twisted body. The blood pooled on the darkened asphalt. I made it to his side but he was gone. I look back now, and try to remember him as he lived. Full of life and joy. A kindred spirit. Every ball field, farm, and treehouse I see, remind me of him. He was my heart… my soul. My only true love.

                  My birthdays will always be special to me in ways that most people will never understand. How could they?

                I miss you every day, sweetheart…. ❤

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