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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

This was my first father's day as an "out" Gay man. And my first with a boyfriend. As with most things that have happened since I came all the way out, it was refreshing beyond belief to celebrate with my son in the skin I'm comfortable in. It's also amazing that this Father's Day I can say that I'm close to seeing my daughter again. More than that though, it was amazing to celebrate it with this amazing man, and find in him as he hopefully found in me a man who exemplifies what it is to be a father. Every decision you torture yourself about, every sleepless night spent worrying about the best way to help with this situation or that, the best way to provide, best way to love...In short the best way to be perfect, because that's what Dad's are. We're perfect. We have the answers to life's questions (or we make them up when our kids ask) we protect our children from bullies, girlfriends, boyfriends and everyfriends. And we do it just because we want to see a smile, or hear that wonderful voice saying "I love you, daddy." No matter what age child it's coming from. This year, my boyfriend's daughter and I conspired to get her dad an acoustic guitar simply because she wanted to get him something he really wanted. And her smile when his face lit up at the gesture was pure father's day gold. My son took me to see Man of Steel, and he made me some lovely butterflies to hang up at work because a six year old's homemade gift is unbelievable no matter what. We made it a point to spend a good chunk of our time in one on one father/kid time and everyone involved had an amazing time.

As someone who is estranged from his father...who wonders on day's like today whether or not I should call him before it's too late. A son who is a good enough person that he feels bad about cutting his dad off even though that was the nicest, kindest option for us both (he deserved less) The meaning of Father's day is clear to me as if it were the message in a Peanuts special with Linus at the microphone explaining the importance of fathers to the world. Being a father to my son and working hard to have my daughter in my life reveals to me the amazing highs as well as the life crushing lows of parenthood; something that my own father doesn't have when it comes to me. As a father I appreciate my kids on Father's Day...but I also appreciate the other dad's out there who are in it for the long haul with their kids because I know what that takes and I know what its like when that's absent from life. As a son, I feel guilty, even after all these years; maybe because I know how bad a father waits to hear the "I love you" or see the smile. I accepted a long time ago that my father isn't like that. I guess I could never accept returning that coldness within myself.

So father's day will always be bittersweet for me. But at least from here on out I can spend them being who I am. And I can spend them in the company of another man who knows what it takes, I mean what it *really* takes to be a father. And for me that's just another reason why men are right for me. Being a father in love with another father validates who I am and it makes me a better dad...and isn't that what my kids really deserve? The best father?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Weep Not for Roads Untravelled


"Officer? ... O-officer?"

"Yes? How can I help you?"

The voices couldn't have been more opposite. The first, asking for the officer's help was frantic, and gave an almost nasal whine to the words; the second, a deeper voice with a gravelly quality, oozed confidence. 

"My name's Jonny. Jonny Kalamata ... like the Olives. I, uh ... I need some help I think." 

"What sort of help?" the officer asked, his tag gleamed the name Ford and he held his hands close to the buckle of his belt as Jonny approached him. 

"Well, that's just it. I can't really explain, it's more like I have to show you." and he stepped into the light. Officer Ford could see clearly that he wore a black t-shirt that was sticking to his wiry, muscular frame; the boy was clearly soaked.

"That's close enough," Ford said, easing one hand to the flashlight in his belt. 
"What's that all over your shirt?"

"It's part of the reason I need help. See I was with my ex and-"

"Is that blood on your shirt?" Ford asked, shining the light on the young man. 

"Yes sir, it is." Jonny said.

"I think you'd better just stand right there and start at the beginning, son." Ford said, gently moving his other hand to his firearm.

"Yes sir." Jonny said, almost dutifully, and began talking almost immediately.

I broke up with my girlfriend about six months ago. It wasn't anything bad, just time to move on, ya know? Well, we tried to be friends and still hang out but that wasn't going to well. I went over to her house on a Monday night, right after the break up and had dinner. That's when it really started. Dinner was pretty normal, I guess. Spaghetti, but I didn't eat much because I had this weird paranoia that she was going to poison me. Anyway, we ate dinner and then sat down to watch the news; just like we did when we were together. The news was filled with all these stories about zombies in North Carolina. I thought it was just the bath salts thing happening again, but she was always scared of zombies and watching the tv that night she was white as a sheet.

"Didn't you live in North Carlina?" I asked her.

"Yeah for just under a year." she said, still ashen.

"I wonder what caused it," I said, kind of absently.
"Mind if I get a drink?" 

"No. Not at all." she said.

I walked into the kitchen and made myself a mojito. 

"Would you like a drink?" I asked, and because I wasn't paying attention I cut my hand open on the lime I was putting in the drink.
"Ow! Shit!" I wasn't really hurt, mind you, I was just more like, pissed off because I'd been stupid. And because blood was dripping on my ex's floor. 
 "You have any paper towels?" I yelled. No answer though. I didn't care, really, I was used to her not talking to me. I found the paper towels, made my drink and got back to the news. She was still white as a sheet when I sat down.

"You okay?" I asked. I was feeling awkward so I was ready to use this as an excuse to leave. She didn't answer me though. She actually didn't move besides her eyes blinking every so often while she watched the news. 

"I bet this is all a hoax." I said. It just seemed too surreal, ya know? Zombies? In North Carolina of all places? What the fuck? Anyway, it was around then that I noticed a sort of growling. I looked over at my ex, and she had turned and was looking at my hand where the cut was, and the growling was coming from her.

Before I knew it she lunged at me and she was on top of me. I was surprised because we were broken up and I didn't expect her to come on to me. Then she got really close to my face and that's when I noticed something was wrong. Her eyes weren't right, they were all sort of white and glazed over, and her mouth, she almost seemed feral. I looked at he TV and saw dozens of other people, dragging themselves all over the street. Some were crawling and some were growling like my ex, but all of them looked scarier than shit! I didn't know what to do so I shoved my knee into her chest, like right between her tits and pushed her back hard. She flew backwards into the television and the screen went dark and the room got quiet.  I still didn't know what to do, but I didn't really get time to make a plan. I didn't even have time to ask her if she was okay. She pulled herself up and looked at me. Still growling and still angrier than hell. I walked backwards into the ktchen. Not taking my eyes off her. She followed me, her face a grimace, and I really couldn't tell you she was the same person I'd dated for the last few years. 

When I got to the kitchen I grabbed her cast iron skillet off the stove and waited. I let her get close and then I hit her. As hard as I could across the face with the skillet. Her head flew back far as she was knocked into the wall. But she didn't stop. She kept coming at me and I stood there letting her get close and hitting her every time. Her face was covered in blood and I now for a fact her nose and cheeks were broken. Her face was sinking in a little bit and I just kept hitting her. Over and over. But she just kept coming. I didn't know what to do. So I just kept hitting her. 

That's not the really messed up part, though. 

The really messed up part happened about an hour later when she was still coming at me and I was still hitting her. By that point I had gotten the point that it wasn't going to end and that I would have to try something else in order to stop her. I looked around the kitchen and found what I was looking for, the knife block. I reached over and grabbed a carving knife. The next time she got close to me, I grabbed at her hair with my free hand and yanked her back. She was growling at me and snapping her jaws, but before she could do anything I pulled the knife across her throat and watched the blood spill out. I remember a sort of laughing sound. I laughed out loud, I think, when there were bubbles in the blood because she was still growling at me. She never really stopped trying to get at me, but when I threw her on the floor a few moments later she had stopped moving and the blood was just pooling on the floor under her.


"Now wait just a minute son," Officer Ford interjected.
"Are you trying to tell me that you killed someone? That this happened six months ago and that for some reason tonight you're covered in blood and you need police assistance."

Jonny scratched his head and looked at Officer Ford sheepishly.
"That's about the size of it, I suppose." he said. 
"She wasn't really dead though. I mean, she kept coming at me."

Officer Ford scratched his chin.
"It's true, things have been kind of up in the air since these Zombies showed up. Let's stick with tonight. How did you get covered in blood tonight?"

"Officer Ford, you'd better come with me for that one."

"I don't think so son, I think you'd better just tell me right now."

"I don't really know where to begin." Jonny said, and launched into more of his tale.

I felt bad leaving her there, but I couldn't just take her with me either. I watched her twitch for about an hour before she stopped moving. The creepy part, though, is that she didn't die. She should have. I mean, I sliced her throat and everything. But she didn't. The creepier part was that I felt so detached from it. She came at me like a zombie and I dropped her. The woman I'd loved for years and I dropped her like that, like it was nothing. I watched her bleed out, twitch until all the blood was gone and I just stood there like it was nothing. I couldn't tell you then and I can't tell you now if that was because of the adrenaline of having no choice, or if it was because I had genuinely come to hate that woman for what she'd done to me in our "relationship." It didn't really matter though, she was dead and that's really all I cared about. She was dead and I was standing.

I stepped around the blood, being careful not to get my shoes in it and noticed that when I moved her eyes moved with me. I got a bit closer to her and waited. She moved incredibly fast but incredibly clumsy. Her arm snaked out and her hand wrapped around my ankle. I didn't think, I brought the knife down hard and sliced into it. The knife wasn't sharp like you see in the movies, so I brought it down again. And again. Over and over, hacking and hacking until her arm came off. Then I backed away again, she followed me with those dead eyes and I watched her. 

I left her there. I didn't really know what else to do. I went back to the couch where the news was on and I finished my drink. The news was full of stories about these zombies. The whole thing was surreal. I looked at my clothes and realized I was covered in blood. I walked to the bathroom to clean myself off and catch my breath. What else was I going to do? I wasn't gone for more than five minutes but it was that five minutes that really counted.

When I went back downstairs, still covered in blood but none of it on my skin anymore I heard a sort of sickening crunching sound. After what had already happened I couldn't imagine things getting worse, that is until I went downstairs. The sounds were all I had to guide me as I walked into the kitchen, as slowly as I could. The crunching was louder and more defined and there was also a crying sound, but what was most disturbing, was the absence of other sounds. The growling had stopped, there were no sounds of movement and when I rounded the corner into the kitchen I understood why.

While I had been upstairs, the kids . . . my ex's two kids had gotten up and made their way down the stairs. More than anything else that happened that night or since then, I wish I could save them. They are 8 and 5 and I loved them like they were my own. I mean, I stayed as long as I did mostly because of them, but that . . . that's another story. The important thing is the sight that greeted me because it will stay with me until I die. The youngest was laying on the ground in the pool of blood, curled up next to what used to be his mother in a sickening parody of cuddling. She silently ate his face, tearing the flesh from his skull with her teeth and using her tongue to lap up the blood. Her eyes were empty and her silence betrayed that there was nothing left inside her of this boy's mother. She silently and ravenously ate him. The whimpering came from the corner where the other boy cowered. I called to him but he didn't respond, whether in shock or frightened beyond belief.


"Are you trying to get arrested son?" Officer Ford once again interjected.

"No sir. I told you I need help. You asked for the details."

"Son, you're telling me a story that happened six months ago. A story that, by rights, I should arrest you for. The thing is, though, the story, if you're telling the truth, seems like just wrong place wrong time. No matter what, though, I'm going to have to take you in." he approached Jonny with his handcuffs out.

"Wait!" Jonny exclaimed,
"Don't you want to know what happened tonight? How I got covered in blood?"

"Son, I've asked you twice to tell me that and you gave me this cock and bull nonsense about zombies from six months ago. Now, I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure that it doesn't take blood longer than six months to dry."

"You're right, sir, it doesn't. I tried to tell you that I need to show you but you wouldn't let me. That's why I told you the story. I figured that you'd either see that I needed police help or that you'd think I was crazy and want to follow me to the bodies."

"Bodies? What bodies?"

"I told you. My ex. And the baby she killed. They're just around the corner and I need help."

Officer Ford considered the other man for a moment before deciding. He drew his firearm and pointed it at Jonny's chest. Jonny reflexively put his hands in the air.

"Lead on, boy. But you keep those eyes in front and no funny business."

"No sir, officer." Jonny said, dutifully.

He began walking and, true to his word, after rounding the corner and walking less than two blocks a gray/blue house clearly became their destination. Jonny walked up to the front door and pulled a key from his pocket. He deftly opened the door, as if he'd lived there for years. Officer Ford brought up the rear, pausing slightly before entering behind Jonny.

The first thing that happened was the wretching. He hadn't been prepared for the stench that made its way through the house and into his nostrils. Doubling over, he vomited on a large area rug that was in the living room. To his right he noticed the television, broken as Jonny had described. Glancing to the kitchen, he thought he smelled the faint metallic odor of blood. Forcing himself up and toward the kitchen he realized that Jonny was no longer in his line of sight. He trained his gun toward the room in front of him, and as he approached, he identified the source of the smell.

Sprawled on the floor, covered in dried blood and quite obviously decomposing, was the body of a woman. Jonny's ex, Officer Ford assumed. Remarkably, she moved as he entered the room, her head straining to get closer to him. He swallowed back a wretch along with bile and more vomit and without thinking fired one shot into the creature's head. 

"Whoa!" Jonny said, appearing in a nearby doorway.
"Was that really necessary?"

"I don't know what's going on here, son, but you need to come out of there nice and easy and we'll get this sorted out."

"There's nothing to sort out." Jonny said, taking a step out of the doorway.


"No sir. See, that night, the end of the story was that I realized they wouldn't eat me. I don't even think they knew why because they kept getting close, but even when I gave up and decided to let them, all they did was get close enough to sniff me, run their teeth against my skin but they never bit, not once."

"They?" Officer Ford asked.

It was then that Jonny came out of the door fully. Behind him came a small form, a shock of red hair on his head. The boy had deadened, empty eyes and from his throat came a guttural growl.

"She only got to eat one of them. I wouldn't let her get the other. The problem was, he was already gone. I'm not really sure what caused all this. I just knew that with his mother gone I would have to look after him."

"What did you do?" Officer Ford breathed. 

"I've been feeding him. I didn't really know what else to do." 

"Son, you need to get down on your knees and put your head on your hands." 

Jonny complied, getting on his knees.

"Don't you want to see the bodies?" Jonny asked.
"Could get you a promotion I bet, taking out a scumbag like me."

"You stay right there." 

Jonny moved so swiftly that Officer Ford couldn't have seen it coming if he'd been fully prepared. Jonny threw one hand out from behind his head and from his jacket sleeve a small piece of metal glinted in the overhead light. The knife caught Officer Ford in the belly and stuck there. He immediately dropped the gun and fell forward, within reaching distance of the animated corpse on the floor. 

"Just a one inch blade. I just had to stop you shooting me. The rest will come in time. See, I couldn't leave him here. Not with her. I couldn't seem to kill her so I did the next best thing. I brought him food and let him eat."

Jonny moved the boy close enough to Officer Ford, then backed away as the boy and his undead mother devoured the man. Jonny winced slightly at the screams but he'd long since been desensitized to the sounds of death. He watched with pride until there was nothing left of Officer Ford but bone, then the cold panic hit him again. The feeling that accompanied the realization that he didn't know what to do. He ushered the boy back into the doorway where he'd been hidden and said softly,

"I'll be right back." before shutting the door on him. 

Then retrieving his knife and tucking it once more into his sleeve he walked back out into the night.

"I wonder who can help me now?" he said to himself. 

In the distance he saw headlights heading toward him. With a smile he moved into the middle of the road and waited.