Jason knew he shouldn’t worry. Tomorrow he would go to Malaysia. Tonight would be his last night with Kevin in a while and he didn’t want to spend it arguing with Kev. But… Jason watches Kevin leave and he plays with the picture in his hand. He found it in one of the drawers and asked Kevin who the young man in question was… Kevin had told him that the young man in question meant nothing to him.
He wasn’t so much surprised by what Kevin told him, as by what Kevin didn’t tell him. The things that were in the pain in his eyes, in how his jaw got stuck in the fake smile that Jason had learned to recognize from the real one. In how he would not look at Jason, but at a far distant spot on the wall. In how strained his voice sounded because he spoke with the voice of the rational lawyer inside him and not with that of the real Kevin. Kevin was lying. Yet Kevin was always open about everything. He talked with ease about past relationships. So why this?
Jason returned to the bedroom and decided to put the picture back in place. Whatever, whoever he was, … perhaps he should stay in the past. Besides he had to finish his packing if he wanted to have some time with Kevin later on. As Jason put the picture back in the drawer his hand hit something made of paper. He reached for it and found an envelope. It was opened and addressed to the same name he had heard Kevin mention that afternoon. Scotty Wandell.
He knew he should put it back, but the uncharacteristic urge to be curious overtook his actions. He took out the letter inside as well as the pictures. They were of Kevin and this Scotty. Jason stared at them. Why had Kevin never mentioned this man before? From the pictures he could see that Kevin was very happy. He unfolded the letter and started to read. It was sometimes difficult because it was handwritten and he was not entirely used to Kevin’s writing.
“Dear Scotty, As you are not replying to my phone calls I thought I’d try to write you and see if perhaps I could reach you this way… I know I am probably still your ‘least favorite Martian’ and I know that after what happened between you and me on Valentine’s day, I probably don’t deserve a second (third?, fourth?) chance, but I just had to tell you how I feel about you, me and us….”
As Jason read the words, that seem to come straight from Kevin’s heart, he felt tears in his eyes. Overwhelmed by Kevin’s words filled with tenderness as he spoke of how happy Scotty had made him… He bit his lip. Kevin had never said anything like that to him.
What worried him most of all was the ending of the letter. “I love you. I love you so much that sometimes I don’t know how to make it through yet another day without you. I begging you. Please, call me, talk to me. If only to tell me to leave you alone, so I can give this closure for myself as well.... Eternally yours. Kevin.”
He turned the envelope to see the address, but it had the words “RETURN TO SENDER” marked all over it. Had Scotty ever read those words? What had happened between them? Why would Kevin have spoken of his other lovers, but not about Scotty? Why had he said that Scotty meant nothing to him and yet this letter contradicted everything?
A sound made him look up. Kevin was back.
“Hey! Sorry, I wanted to do something special for tonight, like going out or something, as it is our last night. But I thought you might prefer it, if it were just us, you and me, tonight?” A bit of uncertainty in his voice, as if he doubted that Jason might prefer that too.
“It’s alright. What did you get?”
“Chinese food… Should have been real American Hotdogs, I know, but you don’t like them…” he said with an apologetic smile. It was supposed to be a joke, but neither of them was laughing.
“Chinese is just perfect.” Jason said automatically.
He carefully placed the envelop on the table, right in front of Kevin.
“Kevin, who or what is Scotty to you? Why did you say he doesn’t mean anything, when you wrote him a love-letter that burns in my hands.” Kevin froze…
“You had no right to read that letter.” He whispered.
“We have been together for 3-4 months, in which I believed that you would never commit to me or anyone else. I finally get you to say ‘I love you’ and then I find this letter that is just so…heart-breaking. I’d like to know who the ‘Kevin’ in this letter is and I wonder what his connection is to the man I love.”
“Don’t worry. You’ll never meet that Kevin. He died months ago. Of a broken heart. ” Kevin said coldly.
“Don’t…. You have no idea. Come on, Jason, do you really expect me to believe that I am the only ‘great love’ in your life? Aside God and the church, that is.”
“But that is just it. You told me all about your boyfriends as I did about mine. No secrets between us, remember? So, why not Scotty?”
Kevin stared at the pictures. When he finally looked up to Jason, Jason was shocked by the infinite pain in his eyes.
“Because it hurts, Jason, It still hurts…” Jason put his hand on Kevin’s.
“Talk to me.”
“You really want to know about Scotty?... Scotty walked into my office as a witness in a fraude-case. He was obnoxious, rude in a funny way, terribly ‘gay’ and he infuriated me, while at the same time he charmed me, challenged me, surprised me… The case got settled out to court and he and I .. we got together and started something.
I guess we were supposed to be in love, but we were totally incompatible. Absolutely out of each other’s leagues. He was poor, I was rich. He had no real idea what he wanted to do with his life, I had a career. He had a life, I didn’t… We argued, we fought, we made up and started fighting again. But at the same time he was cute, caring, loving. He made me laugh. I loved being with him, because he made me feel alive. He was my rainbow. And when he left, it seemed as if all the colors in my life just faded.”
“He left? Why?”
“Because, as usual, I screwed everything up.” Kevin said with a shrug. “We broke up once again, I met Chad, (told you about him), I wanted to make Chad jealous so, when I accidentally ran into Scotty, I slept with him… Scotty was terribly hurt when he found out he was just to get someone else jealous. He didn’t deserve to be treated like that and he walked out of my life for the last time…
Haven’t heard from his ever since. My letter came back unopened… You see, he and I broke up so many times over all sorts of things, that I expected him to just pop up again somehow and we would be together again…. But it had been months, I kept hoping to run into him, that he was going to walk into my office again one day, that he would get in touch with me again….but when that didn’t happen I had to accept that we had our final break up …. It just felt like someone made a hole in me.” There were tears in Kevin’s eyes.
“And was I just there to fill that void?” Jason asked carefully.
“No. You never could. I just put a wall around it, so no one can fall into it… But it is still there and it still hurts.”
“Is that why you don’t talk about him?”
“I don’t talk about him, because no one cares. My family didn’t think highly of him, I think. They certainly never asked me anything. Just assumed that Kevin screwed up again. Because that is what they think I always do. I never talk about him or my love for him.”
Jason puts his arms around Kevin and kissed him tenderly.
“Don’t be. It’s gone. Over and done with.” Although Kevin sounds convincing, Jason doesn’t fully believe him.
“Kevin. If Scotty would be here, would we have happened?” Kevin looked up.
“When I’m exclusive, I’m exclusive.” Kevin replied automatically, but he didn’t sound like himself, and it didn’t really answer Jason’s question.
“Would you prefer him over me?” Jason questioned.
“Would you rather be a Muslim or a Jew?” He replied.
“Pointless discussion. You won’t change religion. Scotty won’t be back.” Though Kevin said it as a joke, it was clear he no longer wanted to talk. Jason shook his head, decided to let it rest and they continued to eat, discussing all topics, but somehow Kevin was still a bit absent-minded.
While putting the dishes in the dishwasher, Jason suggested to go to bed early. Kevin smiled.
“At last, a good suggestion… Go ahead, I’ll join you in a few seconds. Just clean up these last things.”
“Alright. .. You know, I really would have wanted to know the answer.”
“Scotty or me?” He reminded Kevin, before he smiled and left the kitchen. Kevin stared at the sink as memories of Scotty flooded through him, took his breath away with an intense pain and all that remained afterwards, was the bittersweet taste of something beautiful, lost forever.
“No, Jason, you don’t want to know the answer.” He whispered.