Mittwoch, 13. Juli 2016

One last act of love

It had been fifty years since Jess and Aames had seen one another. Aames had graduated during his junior year, a year before his first love, had gotten married, moved away, had children and divorced, living a fairly traditional life; a life expected from someone in our little berg. Jess, on the other hand, had dropped out of school, gotten heavily into drugs, had several children with several different women and had little time for responsibility for the first twenty years after graduation. He had finally gotten back on track and made a good life for himself.

Aames had been in and out of the hospital with heart problems over the years. He smoked, didnt eat as well as he should have and worked in a fairly stressful job. He had become single and stayed that way for many years, with only a cat to keep him company. Although he loved the intimacy of sex with men, he no longer pursued that aspect of his life because in the gay community, a 68 year old, heavy-set man simply wasnt what most men were looking for.

Since the school they attended was so small, they had a multiple year reunion planned for the coming summer. Unbeknownst to either, they had both responded in the affirmative to the invitation. They were each excited to attend the reunion. They had each eventually done well for themselves and wanted to show their success to their classmates.

Aames hoped Jess would be there because he had always wanted to see Jess again if for no other reason but to know that he had found his way to happiness. Jess wanted to see Aames to apologize for how things ended between the two. Jess had told Aames that sex with males was not what he wanted and that if Aames ever called him again, Jess would tell everyone in school that Aames was a faggot. Aames was terrified by this threat at the time; but Aames had long ago made peace with the fact that Jess was simply a teenager trying to make sense out of his own life and was no longer upset by those events. It was the night of the reunion and Aames was dressed in a beautiful, charcoal grey suit and a lavender shirt and lavender and royal blue tie. He was as handsome as his portly body would allow. He had retained all his hair and, for the most part, it was still black. His Mexican heritage had given him smooth, supple skin, free of the standard wrinkles of a man his age. The one feature most people commented on about Aames was his beautiful brown eyes. People still said they were like does eyes, large, brown and beautiful.

Jess had come to the reunion with his wife, Carlyn. They were scurrying around trying to find all the pieces and parts of their outfits to make sure they were well put together. While Aames skin had remained soft and smooth, Jesss had grown more weathered looking. Carlyn was not a beauty, but she was as kind as the day is long. She loved her husband very much and it showed in all her words and actions toward Jess.

They each got in their respective cars and drove to the reunion site, a beautiful hotel restaurant in town. They served adequate food, but nothing fancy. Aames arrived first and began milling around, greeting all his old classmates. Aames had been to the other three reunions and was happy to reunite with his school chums once again. Jess, on the other hand, had never been to a reunion for their school. He was nervous to see everyone for fear that the old stories would tumble out of peoples mouths and embarrass him in front of his wife. He had smoked too much pot, drank too much alcohol and caused too much vandalism to have a very good reputation. But, he knew he had to face his classmates at some point or live in shame the rest of his life.

Jess was thrilled to find that everyone received him like a well-loved cousin. None of the stories were told and people simply said how happy they were to hear how well he had done. Aames saw Jess talking to a mutual friend of theirs. The years of swimming at the pool, playing tennis together and teaching Jess to play piano came flooding back to him in that moment. So did their passionate moments, especially that one moment when Aames first saw Jesss huge member. Aames chuckled to himself at the memory. He decided to let Jess find him and decide if he wanted to say hello. After about an hour, both men found their way into each others line of sight. They were about twenty feet away from each other. Both of them developed a welcoming smile toward the other, they walked toward each other and embraced in a hearty, friendly greeting.

"Carlyn, this is the man I told you about, Aames."

Carlyn effused, "Jess said that if anyone was here that he remembered, hed hoped it was you."

"Really?" Aames queried. He was totally confused. Aames had figured that he would be the last person Jess would talk about with his wife.

"Dont worry, Aames," Carlyn went on to say, "Jess told me all about your relationship in school. Hes been very honest. In fact, he talked about you when we first got together ten years ago. I bet you didnt know his eldest sons name is Aames."

Aames was floored. He couldnt get any words out at all. He stood gawking in disbelief at Jess and Carlyn.

"Its true, Aames," Jess said. "I wanted my first son to be named Aames."

There it was. Had Aames remembered his history incorrectly? Had he misunderstood the events of that time?

"You two need to talk, apparently," Carlyn lovingly said. She embraced Aames and Jess and continued, "Im going to talk with your friend, Debbie, Jess. You go have a good chat with Aames for a while."

She turned on her heels, smiled at us both and left them to talk.

"Lets go outside for a walk and talk for a while, Aames," Jess suggested.

"Thats fine with me." Off they went to talk over old times and for Aames part, try and get some answers.

"You look plain confused, Aames," Jess said smiling.

"I am, Jess. I thought when you broke up with me, you were disgusted by what we had done and never wanted to see me again."

"Aames, I was seventeen, confused about my sexuality, and you were the focus of my frustration. The truth is that at my core, I loved you. You know the old adage, When were mad, we take it out on the person closest to us. "

"And, Ive missed you for forty years. Ive thought about you this whole time, wondering how youve been and if you think of me." Aames was shocked to hear Jess utter these words. "The hardest part of what I have to say to you is, Im sorry, Aames, for the way we ended our relationship. I never meant to hurt you. I was simply scared of who I was and I didnt want to be that man."

"I know, Jess. I figured that out eventually, and its o.k. Many of us have to go through that to get to a healthy place about who we are."

"Carlyn was telling the truth when she said I have a son named, Aames. He was named after you."

Aames became very emotional. His first love had loved him after all. What Jess didnt know is that Aames self worth was affected by Jesss refusal of his love in high school. Aames never knew if he truly had value all those years and it negatively impacted his relationships all along the way.

"Its good to know you did care, Jess. It makes a difference. It really does." Aames extended his hand in friendship.

Jess chuckled, reached out with both arms and embraced his old friend.

"I still do care, Aames."

Although Aames felt as though the hug should end, Jess held on tightly for longer than was probably appropriate, but Aames didnt care. Jess then leaned back, looked at Aames and kissed him on the lips. The kiss was tender and sweet and enormously welcomed.

"I had to feel your kiss one more time, Aames. Please forgive me."

"Nothing to forgive, Jess. Its what I wanted, too."

They found a bench, touching one another in intimate, but not sexual ways, as they professed their nearly lifelong love for one another.

After all, they had been together for the first time when they were eight years old. If they didnt tell the truth now, who knows when they would have another chance? They both knew that they did not have a romantic future between them. They could, however, more comfortably enjoy their memories having asked for and received forgiveness for the sins of their past.

It was getting late and Carlyn was probably wondering where they were, so, they decided to start back.

"I have something for you," Jess said. He reached into his back pocket, pulled out his wallet and withdrew an old picture. "Ive had this since we were kids. Ive made a copy for myself, but its time you have a copy, too." It was a faded, slightly crumpled picture of the two of them going fishing when they were eight years old in front of Aames parents house. Jess was in his floppy hat and had a fishing pole tightly grasped in his little hand and Aames was in his blue dungarees and fishing shoes, a tackle box and fishing pole of his own. Both the boys were smiling ear to ear with their arms around each other.

"Ive had this in my wallet since you left town after you graduated," Jess said. Aames heart was as full as it ever had been before. They hugged once again and Jess returned to his wife. Aames indicated he would simply sit outside for a few minutes looking at the picture. After a while, he decided he couldnt go back in. He had seen the person he had come to see and done what he needed to do. Aames got in his car and drove back to his hotel room. He got undressed, laid on the bed and looked at the picture. Aames had rarely been as happy as he was that night. With his picture in his hand, he closed his eyes to go to sleep, realizing Jess had always loved him and missed him. The circle was complete.

Aames never woke up after that. He died from a pulmonary embolism in his hotel room. He was found by the cleaning staff that next morning. In his hand remained his treasured picture.

Jess and Carlyn attended the funeral, which was held in their hometown as Aames had wanted. Just before they closed the casket, Jess kissed his friend on the forehead and into the coffin slipped a copy of the picture he had given to Aames the night he died. The lid was closed and Aames was buried with both Jess and he knowing that, no matter what undercurrents ran below the bridge to the past on which they stood the night before he died, Aames first love was a true and lasting love.

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