i go to a party in little tokyo. r. warns me before we go out that a. will be there, probably. oh i see and i have to take a moment because i really don’t want to see a., i mean i do want to see him but i only want to see him in one way and that way is lost now.
it’s packed and overheated. there is no air conditioning. r. orders me a drink; a. has known me from a time when i never touched hard liquor and i think he would point and laugh and be surprised that i now drink it straight. a new tick in my personality–this signals that some time has passed since me and a. have last spoken.
we see a. he is in the back room. i watch him through a partition of glass. he has no idea i am in the room, watching him. i have to admit that my heart was beating very fast and i turned away, filled to the brim with a feeling of waste. it’s like brother, and i can’t reach out to him. almost 10 years of friendship and now i’m spying at him through glass partition (what metaphor!), his arm draped casually over a girl, whose face the crowd obscures.
i stop and look off into the distance while my elbows rest on the bar. r. takes a leak. no one bothers me and i sip. maybe a quarter of an hour passes and i don’t see a. anymore. perhaps he spotted me and left. so i go into the smoking room and light a cigarette, when i move seats i look up. the first image i see is of a.’s hand grabbing a fleshy piece of ass and then caressing it upwards slowly. why did i turn my head just then and why was it that that i saw?
was it because i have always denied a.’s sexuality, have for the purposes of our friendship and my own comfort, considered him non sexual. perhaps i was not as careful as i would have been around other men, and perhaps he took offense; and that offense oxidized over the years to pissed-offness. real hot and on the surface.
so i missed something. i admit i may have been at fault in ways that a. has yet to think of. but i think when two people love each other as a. and i had for so long, there’s a kind of transcendence through sheer osmosis, of correctness. of upperhandedness. i have often thought if i just drove to his apartment, forced him to open the door and laid everything bare, he would forgive me. and it would be the same. but then again, consider the example of the doctor. does 1,5,10,25 years of silence render a villain, new?
r. says no. there’s just some pretending.
a. leaves with the girl. we never speak though there are several near collisions. he turns around, i look away, he steps forward, i get up. the crowd is always in the way. in his last email to me, he says he loves me and everything is great but if he could please never see my face again. when he first came to LA, he had nothing and lived in his car and then a one room shack in the bad part of the valley. i’d park my mom’s honda accord out front. we would go drink and karaoke and stay out late, speaking earnestly on long drives about books and films and life. we were the best of friends but we never broke the rules.