The Hired Man
Untreed Reads (July 14, 2015)
I must have finished the conversation with Tim somehow because suddenly I was aware that I was sitting there, with the phone still in my hand, listening to a dial tone, afraid to move for fear I would throw up.
Slowly, I eased the phone back onto the cradle and leaned forward with my elbows on my desk and cupped my hands over my nose and mouth, forcing myself to take slow, deep breaths.
I had to tell Phil, but I couldn’t do it by phone. When the nausea had subsided, I let my motor responses take over. They got me out of the chair, walked me to the door, made sure it was locked behind me, then walked me to the elevator. By the time I reached my car, I was sufficiently pulled together to let my mind, which had been spinning wildly out of control, shift into gear.
How was I going to tell Phil? What could I say? I didn’t even know Billy’s last name, which meant that Phil was going to have to go with me to the coroner’s office to try to identify the body.
Having sex with a guy doesn’t make you best friends, and I’d only met Billy a handful of times, if that. But what I knew of him I liked. A lot. He was funny and sexy as all hell, and sweet and young, and beautiful and full of life and some son of a bitch had taken all that away from him and I still thought I might throw up.
“It’s Billy,” I managed to say. “He….”
“Is he hurt?” he asked. “Is he in the hospital?”
I shook my head.
Phil looked at me and duplicated my head shake, in slow motion. His eyes filled with tears and his lower lip began to quiver. He started to say “No,” but couldn’t make it. I moved forward and put my arms around him as he put his head on my shoulder and started crying like the very little boy who lives somewhere deep inside us all.