Untreed Reads Publishing (2012)
eye contact. He had stopped writing now and was idly drawing circles. Michael rolled his eyes.
waist. He rested his chin on Greg’s shoulder.
like not being able to lay a hand on her little boy for—how long is she going to be here?”
only one sleeping bag clearly visible in the tent), the Halloween party (Michael was Caesar,
Greg was Mark Antony—though he’d threatened to go as Cleopatra), and a couple more that
Michael thought might border on the obscene.
the only suggestive thing about the book was its title, and Maurice, which was far more
blatant, was still on the shelf. Michael took that too.
Greg in a box too while you’re at it?”
For crying out loud, it’s not like either of you is all that subtle.”
“Oh, thank you very much,” Greg said in feigned indignation. Neither Michael nor Gina
seemed to notice.
her green wool coat, and came over to give Greg a hug and a peck on the cheek. Her lips
were frosty; the cold sharpened the scent of rose in her perfume. She smiled.
the latches and flipped the lid open. “Has my son been behaving himself as a decent
say it. “When he’s not getting on my case about leaving dirty dishes in the sink.”
Matching presents, Greg thought. How quaint. Either she knew or he’d been unofficially
when she said his name.
“‘Night,” Greg said, padded off to the guest bedroom and shut the door.
of a camel. From the other bedroom, he could hear Michael’s mother breathing. She didn’t
snore exactly—she was far too nice for that, and the sound she made was far more delicate.
She seemed to sigh dreamily with each breath that drifted through the half-open door. He got
up and went out to the living room.
Michael sounded like someone playing bagpipes with their feet—Greg hadn’t noticed the
finally moved in together, the first night Greg was jolted awake—it sounded like a
transmission grinding gears in Michael’s throat. His doctor suggested a different pillow,
which actually did the trick.
sofa, and watched music videos with the sound turned off.
began. For the next hour until he fell asleep, Greg perched on the camel’s back, listening to
Michael snoring on one side and Mrs. R sighing on the other.
She sat across from him. “Am I in time to save you from yourself?”
“I think I may be a lost cause,” he said, and started tapping the pack. She snatched it and
be sticking you on top of the tree.”
She shook her head. “I feel like an idiot. Michael took me to the store, for Pete’s sake. He
of toothpaste, shaving cream, razors. When Greg turned around, Michael was blocking the
“Oh, don’t give me this crap.” She shucked the potholders and pointed one at Michael’s
nose. “Your mother’s not stupid, you know.”
her hand on the side of his face and gave him a look of uncomprehending concern he figured
must be taught in all the motherhood manuals. Pulling the door shut, he heard her say,
“Michael, we need to talk.”
managed to pull himself together before Gina could pull him into an embrace.
glass of Wild Turkey and the bottle. She placed them on the coffee table without saying a
word and headed to her bedroom.
a secret from her. Now that I think about it, she always knew what we were getting her for
her birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day. There was no surprising her. She knew everything.”
“The week after we moved in together. He caved faster than you can say cohabitation.” He
long we’d been seeing each other. She was worried we were jumping in too soon.”
laughing, more from relief than anything else. Once they pulled themselves together,
Michael asked, “Are you going to come home?”
from his glass—he didn’t even grimace—and kept going. “And once I was done, I told her
if she didn’t like it, she could get on a plane tomorrow and go home. And then—”
in fact. And—” he glanced out the window again “—getting deeper. A sane person would
have picked up the phone.”
come and admit how much I’ve screwed up. Now I’m cold, and I’m wet, and I’m tired,
and I want you to come home with me. Please.”
mess out there. I don’t think either of us should be going out in it, not this late. Why don’t
we wait until morning and see if they’ve cleared the streets by then? Think your mom can
handle a night alone in the apartment?”
While Michael took his phone into the kitchen, Greg knelt in front of the fireplace and tossed
stared into the flames for a while. He closed his eyes. He didn’t think he’d drifted for that
long when he felt Michael’s hand on his shoulder.
“Mom thinks it’s a good idea to stay off the road too.” He sat on the floor and leaned back
Michael shook his head, still staring at the fire. “I’m fine here.”