Excerpt from Manuscript, Joseph #3

A brief look into two gay men’s troubled relationship. For more pieces from the POV of this narrator, click HERE and HERE. For stories from the POV of his ex-lover Warren, click HERE, HERE, & HERE.

“Do you think Benjamin was flirting with you at that party last night?”
I looked up from my book, scowling. I would have been annoyed to be interrupted anyway. You don’t get between a man and his much-needed reading time, especially after that man has spent the day working for a passive-aggressive horror show of a boss in a soul-crushing office environment. But Warren will not let up. That’s one of the things I love about him, his tenacity. Incidentally it’s also one of the things I hate about him. Tenacity = stubbornness. And Warren won’t admit he gets possessive. I hate it when men I’m in a relationship with get possessive, it’s a very unattractive trait.
“Warren, are we on about this again?”
Warren is lying on the couch with his legs stretched over me, reading The Brothers Karamazov. He’s more than halfway through, my brain would be exploding after the first ten pages. I can’t get into Russian literature. I read Anna Karenina in college, never again. He puts down the book, sits up straight, and scowls. Oh shit, here we go.”
“I just noticed he was touching you a lot last night.”
“He was drunk.”
“Warren, Ben has a boyfriend.”
“So? Ben said his boyfriend was a cold workaholic who treats him like a housewife. He’s not happy, Joseph.”
“Okay. So you think he might be hitting on me because his boyfriend’s a workaholic.”
Warren raised his eyebrows. “Yes, Joseph. And you know I don’t like it when you use that condescending tone.”
“What condescending tone?”
“Like I’m crazy.”
I smiled. “Well, hon, you’re coming off as crazy.”
“I think I’m coming off as quite rational.”
“Warren, what does it matter if Ben is hitting on me? I’m not attracted to him. I’m attracted to you. Do you think I’m the kind of guy that would have an affair?”
Warren sighed. “You’re right. I guess I just have issues… because of my dad.”
“Warren, I am not your dad.”
“I know you’re not. I’m sorry, Joseph. I’ll drop the whole thing.”

“Good. There’s nothing to worry about, Warren.”

Joseph, my feet are feeling a little sore. Can you give me a foot rub?”
I rolled my eyes and left my novel behind to tend to my co-dependent lover’s feet. I had to admit I hadn’t been loving the dynamic lately. I had thought about asking Warren to go to couples’ therapy, but he was so hypersensitive about these things. I had actually thought about cheating on him several times. It was more than me being sexually frustrated (though I was, it’s been almost a year,) I was emotionally frustrated. I didn’t feel like I could talk to Warren, he seemed to operate on his own wavelength. He went into these dark moods that seemed to last forever, where he came downstairs in the morning and started slamming cabinets and cursing. He wouldn’t let me touch him, he was petty and demanding.

Warren has many good qualities. He’s incredibly smart, probably the smartest person I’ve ever known. He can be insanely compassionate and generous. He tried to buy my mother a present that was more expensive than the one I got her before I suggested we switch gifts. Warren wants to help others so much it sometimes comes to bite him in the ass. He’s given large portions of money to meth addicts on the street, just because he couldn’t bear to see them go hungry. I’ve tried to explain to him that those kinds of people aren’t likely to be spending his money on food, but Warren is so infuriatingly naïve that I’m actually afraid for him.

Warren got robbed and beaten in the park by three young men a year into our relationship. It wasn’t a homophobic attack, they just wanted the money, and Warren screamed for help when they grabbed him. He was taking a shortcut through the park to a local bagel shop at 11PM. He had gotten a sudden, uncontrollable hankering for donuts. I rushed to the hospital and found Warren lying in a hospital bed with his face bruised a sickly purple.

They had given him painkillers and his eyelids were drooping. He smiled weakly and waved at me. I felt angry; at his attackers, at myself for not having been there, but I also felt angry at Warren. Why did he have to have such goddamn bad judgement? He was lucky to be alive.
“I didn’t get the donuts, but I got my ass kicked.” Warren mumbled.
“Warren, those guys could have killed you. Why do you have to make these kinds of decisions? You’re so fucking bright, and I love you, I really do, but you do such stupid shit sometimes.”
“Mmm… I love you too.” Warren said. His head rolled to the side and I knew he had fallen asleep.

“Oh, that feels nice.” Warren wiggled his toes and yawned. I had no problem rubbing his feet for him until I found out his mom used to do it regularly when he was a teenager. Knowing that Warren might be comparing my foot-rubbing performance to his mother’s seriously creeped me out. But of course I didn’t tell him that, I wasn’t a complete idiot. Warren once made a joke about having an Oedipal Complex and seeking out men that have similar caregiving qualities to his mother. Warren knows he has some serious issues. So do I, I’m just better at hiding it.

To my friends, I’m the reliable one; I can always be relied on to throw a great party, to provide a shoulder to cry on, to invite everyone to watch the Superbowl at my apartment, no matter how I’m feeling at the time. Would my friends really care if I just stopped showing up? I honestly don’t know. I don’t know how much they actually care about me. They like me, I’m a cool guy; I’m reliable. But I don’t think I’m really indispensable.
“Is that good?”
“Yeah. That felt really nice. Do you want to take it into the bedroom?”
Well, I guess my book will have to wait a little longer.


4 thoughts on “Excerpt from Manuscript, Joseph #3

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