Last night was… fun. I still thought about it when I went to bed that night. Cole seemed like a cool guy. It was very easy to talk to him because he always seemed to have a new topic in hand whenever we had fallen silent. He sure loved to talk… I didn’t mind because he was right: I was the silent type.
I was really nervous the next day from the moment I woke up. And odd… I couldn’t put my finger on it. I felt somehow… lighter. I couldn’t remember if I had ever felt like that before. It was almost scary.
Thankfully, I had an easy day at work because I was struggling to focus. I made sure to stay away from the lifts and other big machines so I wouldn’t get injured again, and instead of doing my usual tasks, I volunteered to clean up shelves and help the boss with the inventory. He was surprised since I never offered to clean anything, but happy for the help, nonetheless.
“There’s something different about you today,” he noted after a while.
“Oh…” I muttered, and it was the end of that conversation.
I didn’t feel different. Nervous, of course, but not different. However, his words kept popping in my head throughout the day, and before I knew it, I was trying to find out if there really was something different about me. It got so bad I was even watching every word I said, and that made me stutter a lot because I wasn’t focusing on what I was supposed to say.
It was safe to say I was a bit irritated once I finally got off from work around five. I couldn’t believe something so simple could throw me off balance like that. I didn’t even know why it annoyed me so much…
As the gym appeared in my view, I finally forgot my boss’s words when the nervousness nearly swallowed me whole. It was ridiculous how nervous I was! Because of what? Cole?
I stopped by the door, my hand resting on it. I was suddenly unable to go inside. What was I doing? What on earth was I doing?
I stepped back from the door, feeling horrible. My father’s voice in my head was suddenly clear as day. His words mocked me, ridiculed me, and I felt like I always did when he was still around: disgusting. A squealy pig… All those things he used to call me… I always believed it all. He’d made sure I believed every word he said. That I was nothing. That I had no value.
That I had no right to even be alive.
“It should be legal to kill fags like you!”
I gasped for air when I felt something running down my cheek. I lifted my hand to touch it, realizing I was crying silently.
What was I doing…?
I turned around and saw him standing a few feet away, staring at me in worry. Cole…
“Randall? Are you all right?”
I couldn’t face him. I turned my back on him without saying a word and started walking away as fast as I could. He yelled after me, asking me to stop, but I ignored him. For a moment, I thought he was going to follow me, but I couldn’t hear his footsteps anymore, but he yelled my name one more time.
The mental strength I had yesterday was long gone, and my father’s words followed me all the way home, making things so much worse. At home, I went into my bedroom and sat down at the furthest corner from the door, wrapping my arms around my head and knees. I was hyperventilating. I tried to calm down, but I felt like my father was hovering over me, about to hit me with a chair or a bottle or whatever he always used to make sure I had no fight left.
“I hope those rapists kill you!”
Why did I ever step foot in that bar…?
For several days, I only went to work. I avoided the gym and took a long way home, so I didn’t have to walk past Cole’s bar. I hardly ate anything. I hardly slept. Every time I closed my eyes, I feared my dad was there, ready to hit me with something.
I was crumbling, and I couldn’t stop it. I had no strength to stop it. Death was constantly on my mind, and it scared me, but at the same time… it was a way out. My father wouldn’t be able to get to me anymore. I wouldn’t feel like this anymore… like I was… like I was a fag.
I wasn’t. I wasn’t a fag. Just once, I wanted to feel good about myself. I… I wanted to feel like an actual human being, not this mess.
But I continued. I continued waking up for work. I was barely keeping myself together, but I knew how to push through my life as a walking corpse. My father had taught me that.
A week after I stopped going to the gym, my boss approached me when I arrived. He gave me a peculiar look and was holding something in his hand.
“Your friend dropped by yesterday,” he said. “He told me to give you this.”
I frowned at an envelope he was holding. “What friend?”
“Said his name is Cole.”
Cole. Even hearing his name made me sick to my stomach.
“Randy…” the boss breathed out, looking at the envelope. “You’re not well – I can see that.”
“I’m fine,” I said, turning my back on him and that fucking envelope.
“You’re not. You’re pale, you’re jumpy, and I can see you’re struggling. All you have to do is say the word, and I’ll handle this guy.”
“What?” I asked, turning to look at him.
“Is this Cole bothering you? If he is, I will help you deal with him. I can get a restraining order against him, and–”
“What? No, no, no… It’s nothing like that,” I said, feeling flustered all of a sudden.
“Then what’s going on?” he asked, tapping the envelope.
“I… He… Well…” I started feeling claustrophobic. “He just wanted to be friendly, and I blew him off…”
My boss nodded slowly, but he still seemed suspicious. “Then what’s in this? It’s not a letter.”
“It’s not?” I asked, stepping closer to him.
“Sounds like a DVD,” he said, shaking it a bit.
“O-Oh…” I breathed out, almost choking when I realized what was inside. “He wanted me to see this old movie…”
He looked at the envelope, then at me. “You sure you don’t want it?”
I hesitated for a long, long time. I wanted to take it, but at the same time, I didn’t want to have anything to do with it.
“Randall? Are you all right?”
I didn’t know I was moving, not until I was holding the envelope. It really did seem like there was a DVD inside… I opened it slowly and pulled out the movie Cole mentioned. Vanishing Point.
“I know that movie. It’s really good,” Boss said quietly. “But seriously – I know you don’t share much, or at all, but as the boss of this dump, it’s my duty to make sure my employees are in full health. You are definitely not in full health.”
There was something else in the envelope. I pulled out a letter and unfolded it. There were a few lines of text from Cole. He asked if I was all right, and apologized if he came on too strong at the bar… Came on… as in… he had been… flirting with me? I mean… yeah… I guess, but why? Why me?
I read the last line where he said he wished to see me at the gym soon, that he wanted to talk. He had scribbled down his name across the bottom right corner of the paper. I stopped to stare at it, feeling all kinds of weird emotions inside me all of a sudden.
“Everything all right?” Boss asked quietly.
I nearly broke down in tears because of his words. I hated it. I hated how weak I was. Only sissies cried…
But as I stared at the DVD, I suddenly saw the answer I had been looking for during the past week.
Therapy. It was time to go back to therapy.
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