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The House


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The House

I waited years for the house to sell. Even then, I had to act through an intermediary. If David's parent's had known that I wanted their old place, they would have burned it down rather than see me get it.

They were like that. They hated my guts. They blamed me for everything about David. They blamed me for turning him gay. They blamed me that he got wanderlust and caught HIV and of course they blamed me when he died. Hell, they didn't even allow me to attend the funeral after I had taken care of him through those two horrible years as he died slowly.

It had been twenty-five years and it still burned,

To be honest I never knew whether they were so galled that their son was gay or that he loved a white trash kid from the wrong side of the tracks.

Didn't matter anyway. The high and mighty Whytes would be spending the rest of their days drooling and wearing a diaper in a nursing home.

It had been a long, hard struggle but I had won. I had finally won.

As I drove up the drive way the memories came flooding back. The pines towered along the front of the property and Lombardy poplars lined the drive. The old two story house with white columns across the front sat outlined by azalea and gardenia bushes with the lake and boat house behind it.

The memory of visiting David out here when we were ten was strong . We had trekked through those woods and skinny dipped in the warm August waters of the lake. It was there in those waters by late summer star light that we had our first kiss. Afterwards, we always had to sneak around but with each new discovery we found ourselves closer and closer. Just like his name, he became my beloved.

I parked by the garage behind the house and entered the house through the kitchen. My kitchen furnishing sat in four boxes in the corner. The house was empty for the most part. It swallowed the furniture I had in my old two bedroom apartment. Everywhere was the smell of fresh paint and in a few places the workmen were still attending to maintenance and repairs that had accumulated as the house sat empty.

The afternoon sun cast long shadows in the big downstairs rooms. I thought long and hard about the furnishings and drapes. Furnishing this great place would be a long term project. My IKEA and Wal-Mart stuff just didn't look right here. I didn't look right in this place but it was mine. After years of toil, struggle and self-denial, I had won despite them telling me that all I would ever be was a bar-tender or a prostitute.

I passed by the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of champaign that I had chilling and a glass. Bollinger, 1976. It had cost $400 but it was damn well worth it.

I went upstairs to the master bed room. Again my meager belongings were dwarfed by the house. The room was huge. Bigger than the whole apartment that I had lived in for years. I turned on the television and opened the French doors to the balcony overlooking the lake. The smell of pine triggered another memory.

David had just turned sixteen. His parents were in Europe or something. We had a bottle of cheap champaign and made love down there in the boat house.

I sat down in a recliner and took in the view. I popped the cork on the champaign and took a sip. It was sweet and dry. I drank the bottle as the sun set over the lake and the stars came out.

Somewhere along the way I went to sleep.

David came to me in a dream. He looked like he did when we were in our teens.

He said, "What are you doing here?"

"I own it now. It's all mine."

"Oh Jimmy, how could you?"

"What did I do wrong?"

"You didn't move on. Now you are as trapped in this place as I am."

I woke with a start.

Funny how a place so grand could suddenly feel like a prison. Cold, dusty and lifeless.

It was a prison that I chose because I could not change. I could not move on. I had to win and now I dwell there with the rest of the ghosts.

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Lovely...complicated...heartwarming...sad. How many of us get caught up in a cycle of people and places that will take us nowhere?

Short and sweet, a good reflection piece, James. Revenge does not often serve to deliver what is gone or revive the memories of moments lost. Having discovered my mistake, I would move out rather than face those ghosts every day.

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