“Once I had a secret love that burned within the heart of me.
All too soon that secret love became impatient to be free.”
Doris Day’s sweet voice was still on every Walker’s mind as they kept an eye on Kevin. He looked as if he would crumble any minute. Sarah felt that he should cry, but couldn’t. Looks of concern passed between her and her mother. Nora wanted to put her hand on Kevin’s back for extra support but found that Justin’s hand was already there. She smiled sadly at her youngest son.
The coffin sank into the ground, the ceremony was over and slowly the people, who had gathered, started to move toward the exit of the small cemetery. Almost everyone offering their condolences to Kevin for his loss. Kevin merely nodded. The Walkers tried to make sure that no one stayed too long, so that Kevin’s thin veil of strength wouldn’t be torn.
“Kevin, if there’s anything you need…”
“Thank you Robert, Kitty, but no…” Robert squeezed Kevin’s hand gently as if to give him strength and Kitty looked up at Kevin:
“If you need to get away… “ she said.
“… he can come and stay with me..” Tommy cut in.
Kevin closed his eyes, his head ached from the unshed tears. He didn’t need this and replied:
“No thanks, it is time to face this. It’s been a week since the accident killed him and I haven’t been home. I haven’t been able to get my head around the fact that he now gone for good. That he is… dead… With arranging the funeral… My own injuries...” He swallowed hard.
“Can you please leave me alone with him?” He asked. “Just for a few minutes…Please.”
“Sure, honey.” Nora answered and she signaled the others to go away. For a moment she considered staying, but then she saw someone walking up to Kevin and decided that maybe he was the person Kevin needed. She nodded to him as he passed, but Kevin wasn’t aware of the person approaching.
He kneeled by the grave.
“I’m sorry. I’m so terribly sorry. About everything. If only I had reacted sooner… paid better attention….” He sobbed.
“It wouldn’t have made a difference. It was his time to go and be with God.” A voice behind him said. Kevin got up.
“Jason!” Kevin’s surprise was evident.
“Robert called me and told me.” With Jason so close to him, Kevin suddenly fell to pieces, he started to cry and Jason wrapped his arms around him, held him close.
“Jason, he was still so young, he was happy, he wanted to do so many things..”
“I know.” Jason softly kissed Kevin’s hair.
“I don’t know what to do without him. It is so unfair. We only had a year and half, not even that.”
“I am so sorry for you, Kevin. I know how much you loved him.” He could feel Kevin nod against his chest. He and Kevin sat down on one of the benches.
“I don’t really know. One moment we were laughing and talking. We just came back from a seeing a movie and we had really enjoyed ourselves. And suddenly there was this light coming right at me, a loud crash and then nothing until I woke up at the hospital, where Tommy had to tell me that…..” Kevin pressed his trembling hand against his mouth. Jason could see him struggle with his grief and quietly gave him time to deal with it. “… He died on the way to the hospital. He didn’t have a chance.”
Jason didn’t know what to say. He and Kevin’s lover had nothing in common with each other and Jason had never really bothered to get to know him. He only knew from Robert that Kevin had been happy and that was all that mattered to him. Kevin’s happiness. He held Kevin tightly in his arms, trying to think of something that would be of comfort to Kevin. From over Kevin’s shoulder he saw someone approaching Kevin hesitantly. For a moment Jason could not believe his eyes. Then, he smiled and he gently forced Kevin to look up at him.
“You know, sometimes the Lord may take something from you, but he also gives you something back in return.” With these words he got up, gave Kevin a quick kiss of friendship on the lips and he walked away.
Before Kevin could be too surprised about Jason’s words or his sudden leaving, he heard a voice behind him say:
“Hope I didn’t chase him away.” Kevin spun around. Totally surprised.
“Scotty?! What are you doing here?!” Scotty gave a small nervous smile as he shrugged.
“I… ahm.. I wasn’t sure if I ‘d be welcome. You know after our break up a year and half ago…. I figured you may not want to talk to me anymore. And the last thing I wanted was to cause you more grief. I just… I was here in anyway… I had to see you… Had to know you are alright…”
“I’ve survived the accident with a few scratches, ‘s all, actually.” Scotty sat down next to Kevin, at first a bit awkward, but then he relaxed and put his arm around Kevin and they both sat quietly for a while. Kevin’s mind going back to the man they buried today.
God, he had seen him at this party not long after his break up with Scotty. They simply said hello to each other, a smile, a joke, some talking and two long dates later, they decided to sell their own places, buy a new apartment and move in together. Kevin had never so happy with his life as these last few months. They sometimes got separated due to his lover’s work, but he would call Kevin every morning to wake him up and Kevin would call every night just to say ‘goodnight’. And now those telephone calls would not come anymore. Kevin would have to deal with being alone again. And he had no idea how to do that.
“How long will you be in town?” Kevin asked quietly, wanting to break the silence.
“Indefinite.” Scotty replied.
“What about the restaurant in Pasadena?” Considering that that job was the reason for their break up in first place… The perfect job for Scotty and he seriously considered the offer. Afraid of a new mistake, like he had made with Jason, Kevin had told Scotty to chose between him and the job.... And although Scotty had already decided to turn down the offer, he had been so angry about Kevin's ultimatum that he packed his bags and left for Pasadena.
Scotty cleared his throat.
“Branching out. With extra training and a little luck, I will be running the kitchen by the end of next year. It’s not very far away from here, actually.”
“That is good news... God, Scotty, I have missed you. Will you please come back to my mom’s place with me? I could use you and your support right now.”
“I’d love to, but I also have to see if I can arrange a hotel for the next coming days. I have a lot to do here, now that I’m moving back.”
Kevin nodded. And he quickly made a decision. Life was too short. He had learned that.
“We have a spare room. I wouldn’t mind your staying with me. I am not sure I could stand to be alone there, but the idea of mom or one of my brothers or sisters staying with me, sort of …. “He shook his head.
“What? An actual bed? No air-mattress?” Scotty gently teased.
“Enough place to put our baggage..” Kevin smiled in return, although the smile did not yet reach his eyes, but then there came a small sparkle as he mischievously continued: “Holding of lobster and champagne for now, though.” Scotty bowed his head as a little blush appeared on his cheeks. When he looked up again, he said:
“You were always on my mind.”
“And you on mine.” Scotty’s smile became bigger for a moment, as they silently understood each other, than the smile disappeared again.
“In time. We’ll see.” He said.
“Will you stay with me?” The hopeful tone of voice did not go unnoticed.
“Could I say ‘no’ to you?” Scotty replied.
Kevin let his head rest on Scotty’s shoulder. He was tired. The medication was wearing off and his head started to hurt for real. But not as much as the pain he felt over losing the man he loved for the last 15 months. For now, he had to deal with that. One day at a time. But to know that Scotty would be there, would make it bearable. For now, he couldn’t think of another relationship, but maybe… in time… and maybe this time, their personalities and ambitions would bring them together rather than pull them apart. Who knows.
Scotty saw Nora waving at them.
“Kevin? I think it is time to go.” Kevin looked at the grave and swallowed hard.
“I know.” He got up slowly and he picked one of the flowers. And as it fell on the coffin he whispered:
“I loved you so much.” He turned around, ready to walk away, when everything overwhelmed him and things started spinning around him. He felt Scotty’s strong arm around his waist and with that support he managed to walk away from the grave of the man who had been his partner for these last months and who had died at the age of 37 years, Chad Barry