Multiple 5 Star Reviews!
Older The Better
’The hardest part of loving someone is knowing when to set them free.’
Indiscriminate sex with strangers is the only pleasure Charles has left in life. No matter how much he wants a relationship, the memories of a painful break-up during his youth won’t allow him to commit—until a friend persuades him to confront the past—to confront the man who dumped him.
Taking his friend’s advice, Charles returns home, in the hopes of rekindling the romance with the man he lost. But, his father’s religious views and the backwater community he grew up in aren’t so understanding when it comes to same-sex relationships and, to his disillusionment, neither is the man he’s returned for.
Malcolm flicked on the kitchen lights and examined the antiseptic towelette as Charles closed the porch door behind him. He threw the blood-soaked pad in the garbage can under the sink.
The answering machine light flashed red. He wandered over to the desk and pressed playback. A man’s voice rumbled from the tape clear as a bell and the brief message resonated with a thick Russian accent. Charles froze for a moment with his jacket sagging down past his shoulders.
Malcolm pressed the stop button and looked up. “Who’s Andrei?”
The question knocked the wind from Charles’s lungs, and he exhaled nervously. “He’s irrelevant.”
“He’s very relevant. Todd already told me about him.”
“He had no right to say a word. And you’re just getting mad about it now?”
“I believe I’m entitled when he calls you angel on my answering machine!” Scowling, Malcolm stared into his eyes. “You just decide to show up on my back porch, and demand we get back together when you’ve been screwing some old man for his money!”
“It wasn’t like that.”
“Bullshit, Charlie! What are you trying to prove? That you’ll screw any asshole?”
“I’m sickened! Where the hell is your self-respect!”
“After you, sex was all I had,” he shouted in his face.
“Don’t blame your bad habits on me.” Malcolm glared in return.
“Really...maybe I should ask you what you were celebrating by telling a nineteen-year-old kid you love him, then dumped him!”
Malcolm turned his face away, a sullen frown pinching his features.
“I was so fucking in love with you, I couldn’t think straight,” Charles grumbled, shoving a chair aside. “And I still can’t.”
Malcolm sat at the kitchen table, cupping a fist at his lips. “If there’s nothing between you and this Andrei, why would he call you?”
“I couldn’t get a mortgage from the bank because I’ve been out of work for too long. My credit rating is in the toilet. So I asked him to lend me the money to purchase the store. I’d given him the house number as a backup. I guess he couldn’t reach me on my cell.” He sat at the other end of the table. “My turn. No more of your pride. No more lies. All I want is the truth.”
“If you’re asking me to ante up, I’m not inclined to admit how stupid I was.”
“I don’t care how embarrassed you are, I need to hear it.”
“The truth is....” Malcolm dropped his gaze and focused vacantly on the table. “I wasn’t myself after you moved to the coast. It took me a long time to accept the choice I’d made.”
“Why didn’t you just tell me?”
“Tell a young man to alter his life plans for me?” He didn’t move except to wipe at the tears with an unsteady hand.
He’d never known the man to cry, not openly. “You should’ve told me.”
“I wasn’t willing to live with that type of guilt.”
“It would’ve been my decision to make not yours.” He reached across the table quickly and clasped Malcolm’s hand with his. “You were my lover not my father!”
“Come on, Charlie—”
“That’s what you were!”
“Alright, lover.” He grimaced, slipping his hand away.
“How many men were there after me?”
Malcolm didn’t answer immediately. “I rebounded a month after you were gone with a young guy I’d hired to help pick the late plums....and there was a fellow from Penticton several years later. Neither relationship lasted.”
“That’s it...in all these years?” He didn’t really expect a more in-depth answer, answers with any type of substance weren’t suited to men like Malcolm. Questions had to be straightforward and the answers equally as clear-cut. Everything had to be either black or white. And, it’s that no-nonsense attitude, he’d found to be his most attractive quality. “No man would abstain that long unless he was in love.” He picked up his jean jacket, scraping the tabletop with the metal buttons. “Say the word and I’m with you until one of us dies. But as for your bullshit, I’m done. The choice is yours.”
“I do care!” Malcolm stood.
“There’s a huge difference between caring for someone and loving them, and I want both from you.”
Bashing the door extra forcibly, Charles’s anger exploded. He hit a support post hard, swearing then his cell went off, rumbling inside his jacket. After the third ring, he’d found enough strength to answer. “Lindsay, hi. I’m fine.” He snuffled, wiping his cheek with the twist of a palm, and jogged down the porch steps. “It’s just my allergies acting up. Really? They accepted the offer? Tomorrow at noon...I’ll be there.”
He made a snap decision. With or without Malcolm’s blessing, he was fully prepared to buy a piece of commercial real estate. “Andrei, it’s me again,” he said quieter, distancing himself from the house at a brisk pace. Checking the road both ways, he pursed his lips and ran a hand through his hair. “I know I dumped a lot on you the other day...but have you thought about it?”
He waited, and waited some more, half jogging and half walking along the road as the Russian chastised him laboriously. “I don’t need a lecture, I just need your answer. Will you or will you not lend me the money?” He stopped walking and listened intently then grinned and made a fist, which he brought down fast mouthing a silent yes like a football player that had just scored a touchdown. “I’ll bring my own lawyer. All legal. Yes. I can’t thank you enough, Andrei. Seriously, you’re a good man.”
Then he yelled to the heavens—a hoot followed by exultant laughter.
Barnes & Noble