Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dying On 95

When I lived in DC it was customary for me to ride the metro into downtown to meet Michael and the gang for happy hour several times a week. We’d start the evening at JR’s and usually finish up the night at Omega tucked away in our little corner table. Usually by that late hour Michael was misty-eyed, drunk and well into his normal tirade about the unfairness of his stalled love life. His D & D obsessed, ex-boyfriend had run away to marry some like-minded guy from Baltimore in a gay elfin ceremony on Halloween night the previous year. No, I'm not kidding.

We would make all the expected soothing, sympathetic noises in our throats but at the same time trying to do or say nothing to encourage him to go on with the story that we’d all lived through a million times since the actual event.

“Count it as a blessing, Michael. I mean for God’s sake, you found a sex video of him and the little elf doing the nasty and saved on the desktop of household PC in file labeled Pern Porn. I mean, how stupid is that? On the household PC, the same one you guys used to pay bills and cruising for 3rds on Manhunt when you were too tired to top his bottomless butt hole. Damn ! What a ding dong."

“I know, I’m so screwed. What can I do?” He'd say and put his head down on the table and cry.

Here in lies the problem; Michael was black Irish from Boston and a very devout Roman Catholic. Though he and the Rob had never had a commitment ceremony performed, he considered them “married”.  For him to date other guys and give up on the thought of Rob he’d have to mentally divorce him and that to him was a HUGE sin. If I dared to say anything to him about it, he more or less would tell me that I was a stupid Southern Baptist and I didn’t understand the Catholic mindset. Michael could be quite vicious when he’s drunk but little did I know how just how vicious and crazy he could get until later on that night.

When we left Omega around midnight, he started heading toward the little side street he usually parked on instead of heading with me to the metro. Michael was extremely drunk and determined to drive home. We got into a huge fight right there on the street. It was ugly. I begged and pleaded with him to take the metro home with me instead of driving but he wouldn't hear of it, swearing that someone would break into his car (and they probably would have, to be honest). Finally thinking he’d come up with a good idea, he suggested I drive us home. I refused because I was quite intoxicated too. 

Michael sighed heavily and jumped in the car, revved the motor harshly and told me if I didn't get in, he’d lock me out of the apartment and I’d have nowhere to go when I finally did make it back to Arlington via the DC metro. I believed him and and I sure as hell didn't want to sleep on the street, so I got in and muttered a brief prayer to God. 

Wordlessly, he immediately plunged into traffic on 95 and floored it. I grabbed on of the overhead “Oh Shit” straps and started begging him to slow down as he started swerved through the traffic. We were going 110 and the car engine was screaming from the strain because Michael was still in forth gear.

“Michael, slow-the-fuck-down! You’re going to kill us!”

“No biggie, Ken. You’ve got AIDS and no one will ever love me. What have we got to live for? We’re a couple of major losers. No one would ever miss us.”

“You can’t decide for me about when I die. If you want to kill yourself, fine. Let me da fuck of this car! And I-Don’t-Have-AIDS! I’m HIV positive.”

Michael gave me one of those little “whatever” flips of the hand and kept driving.

Luckily the Crystal City exit was coming up and he decided to slow down so he wouldn’t miss it. As soon as we actually got on the exit, I opened the door and bailed out.

I know, I know, stupid.

But I had the fight or flight thing going on, I couldn’t fight him so I was going to get my ass out of that car somehow, never mind that I might have broken my neck in the process.

When my feet hit the curb, I cut a head-over-heels flip and landed in some azalea bushes the city had planted to pretty up the exits. Michael stopped the car for a brief moment and flung his cigarette out the window before speeding off into the night. We only lived two blocks away from the exit so I took my time detangling myself and climbing out of the bushes. Thank God, no one had witnessed this event and called the police. I could have just seen me trying to explain it.

"Well, officer, my roommate and best friend was really drunk and feeling sorry for himself and tried to kill us tonight because the love of his life married a gay elf and because I'm no more than a walking AIDS ribbon to him. That's why I jumped out of a moving vehicle."

"No, officer, I haven't been smoking crack. I am a quite drunk though."

"Never mind where I live and no, I don't want to press charges. I have to live with him, you know..."

I was in no hurry to get back to our penthouse on South Eades Street and for one, long moment I hoped that Michael was indeed so drunk that he’d drive off the top level of our parking garage and plunge to a gruesome death. But of course, I immediately felt ashamed of myself. I’m a nice Southern Baptist boy and I try not to let my heart fill up with hate. But for a harsh moment, I wanted him to die, seriously.

When I got home and quietly let myself in, my luck held out and Michael was already locked away in his bedroom. Whew. I let out a breath and didn't know I was holding and allowed myself to relax slightly. I knew a blow-out was coming but I so wasn’t in the mood to have it out with Michael then and there. 

I was tired, bone tired. Nothing to do but go to bed and hope tomorrow will be better. I climbed in bed in my boxers and turned out the light, willing my mind to slow down but it wasn’t working. I  was pondering taking a Ambien when I heard a faint, hesitant knock on my door.


Shit, shit, shit.


“Are you okay?”

Before I could answer, Michael entered the room and quickly slipped into my bed. He snuggled up to my back and wrapped his arms around me. 

“You’re a Goddamn idiot, jumping out of the car like that, you know?”

“Uh hello? You were trying to kill us!”

He started crying into my neck. I didn’t know what to say. It just really occurred to me that I didn't know this man at all and I was scared.

“I thought you were my friend, you don’t know how upset you made me.”

“I am your friend, Michael. What in the world are you talking about?”

“A real-true friend would have stayed in the car with me.”

“Michael, you were trying to kill yourself and take me along for the ride.”

“But, still…”

"So, I should have been willing to let you kill me ?"

"You should have stayed in the car. I'm just saying."

“I don’t recall ever telling you that I wanted to commit hari-kari even though as you put it, I have AIDS and nothing to live for. I don’t really want to die in a bloody car wreck on the interstate if I can help it.”

I waited a few moments for a reply but all I received was the sound of my bedroom door clicking shut as Michael crept back to his room in the dark and I was alone again.

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