"What was truly stolen was your innocence. For that, I am sorry."
My eye twitched as his mom spoke: the discussion was heated but welcome for Heath and his sisters. I saw this as part of the process, a way for them to gracefully let go of the past and begin anew. I'd hoped for this to happen. The day Heath picked up the phone and called his mother to invite her back turned all our lives in a new direction. It was like turning into the sun instead of away-- you shade your eyes from the sun but its warmth soothes.
I worried a lot before she came. Mostly for Heath. The rain hadn't stopped once in over two days prior to her April Fools Day arrival, and I began to think that it was some kind of omen-- you know, like in that Damien movie, not that I'm comparing his mom to a antichrist-- but I hated the idea of rain. I couldn't help but wonder: the back mudroom was flooding; the Fox River was spilling over the banks, and Pete was flapping around his cage in a frenzy of unmatched spring fever. Heath said Pete's berserk behavior was just horny energy and that we needed to get him either a Mrs. Pete or a Mr. Pete. He explained that the river and the mudroom always flood and said, "Stop worrying, Jake." His words didn't make me stop worrying, but I did my best to show my sunny-side up. I said to myself-- this has nothing to do with his mother; April showers bring May flowers. Then I thought about the Flood. Rain, rain, rain. What happened to warm and sunny?
I found out that in the spring the sun was a tease in Wisconsin.
I used to see real sunshine before I moved here. And by the way-- I'm not a guest anymore-- I'm part of the family, a fixture. I'd moved in-- all my belongings, everything-- even my eight grade science project. Heath and I did all the packing together a month ago. We went back to my old apartment and got it all. I brought back my flat screen and put the "modern apparition," as Kate called it, into the living room. Maybe she doesn't appreciate it, but the guests did. I'd say that "this" guest appreciated that big screen the most. A sitcom writer needs to watch the competition.
Yard work was out so we watched reruns and first runs. MTV and the Food Network.
With all the rain I had my doubts about summer, but at least the wet, chilly nights allowed for a roaring fire. We enjoyed that warmth the night before Heath's mom arrived: our sex was hotter than the embers in the fireplace. Heath and I covered every inch of that big bed, rolling and biting and licking. I needed to get it out of my system before mom came to visit. Nothing to dampen the mood like a mother in the house. I always feel guilty doing it with parents around. And she was Heath's mom. Could be mine someday too, you know-- a mother-in-law? Then I could write mother-in-law jokes in sitcoms from experience. Move over Rodney Dangerfield.
Better check to see if Heath's mom has a good sense of humor first.
By that evening, the rain had slowed to a drizzle.
Mother Nature. Mother of Heath. Mother-in-law. Soon to be in the room down the hall.
Kick out the raspberry jams Heath's mother! No more sex for me! At least not with "mom" here, but I shouldn't have been so hasty because the next morning when she came, so did the sun.
Here comes the sun. And Heath's smile. Seriously, it was great to see him smile. Better than sunshine.
The family was together, and I was a part of it.
We sat in the living room with the sun pouring in the long windows. I crossed my hands behind my head and listened, staring down at the copy of a recent Newsweek magazine. On the cover, "Time and Space Revisited: Johann Galle and The Big Bang Theory."
Johann the dreamer, Johann the astronomer. In Newsweek.
The whole world knew the truth.
We did it. Jorge and Linden helped. First the story appeared in some obscure science journals, then AAAS's magazine. I was surprised when USA Today picked up the story. After that, it was all over the media. News at five, internet. Newsweek and Time picked it up. Even interviewed us.
But that wasn't why I was so happy about this particular copy of Newsweek. No, this Newsweek has a special place on the table. On page 37 was a small blurb with a mug shot of Austin Nichols. Underneath, a pull quote with him admitting the real creative genius behind "his" sitcom was me. He admitted he took credit for my work. He admitted it!
My work. In Newsweek.
Both Johann and I redeemed in the same magazine.
The best part was that part of my life was behind me. I never understood what a real partner was until Heath.
Heath and I. That was real.
Upstairs, watching the seasons in Wisconsin, season one of our sitcom, we write as one. We are one.
I looked up from the coffee table and silently thanked the cab driver for bringing me here the day after Thanksgiving. I thanked my lawyer, too.
I still couldn't believe that Austin admitted it all to the press.
Just proved that miracles do happen-- with a really good lawyer.
He looked at me over his reading glasses, and I got all hot. I sat on the bed with my laptop between my legs and Heath next to me. I'd like to fuck him silly right now, but our sitcom needed attention.
"I could take dictation," I suggested as I cracked my knuckles.
"Dick-ta-tion," he giggled. "You can dick-take from me anytime."
"Um, you're being junior high," I said, shoving him. "Besides it's take-dick, not dick-take. No archaic syntax in bed. How many times do I have to tell you that. Besides, we need to get this episode hammered out."
"It can wait." He nuzzled my neck.
"Your mom is down the hall--"
"So? She's your mother. Wouldn't you feel-- self-conscious? guilty even?"
Pete banged around in his cage. I swear he got turned on watching us. I needed to throw a sheet over his cage.
"Guilt? Not me! That's a Catholic thing," he said. "You can say three Hail Mary's after, then you'll be kosher."
"Catholics aren't kosher," I laughed.
I felt my guilt slip-sliding away with his hand slip-sliding up my leg.
I decided I could live with the guilt and be a kosher Catholic as long as he kept that hand on Mr. Happy.
I set the laptop on the night table, then wrestled him down on the bed. Our legs and arms wrestled for dominance until I distracted Heath with a long, hot kiss. I flipped him under me and pinned his arms above his head.
"Cheater!" he cried out.
"All's fair in love and war." I decided that red flannel shirt needed to come off fast. I'd been inspecting those Blue Boy magazines under the bed, and there was a story on how to undress your man with your teeth. I looked at those white, pearly buttons and thought, "Why not?"
Off with the top button!
"What the fuck are you doin?!"
The next two I bit off fast and furious; they were about to come off anyway. On the forth button, I realized that chewing thread with your front teeth was hard work. Damn! But I was committed. By the time I was on the last two, I had threads stuck between my teeth like big chunks of old dental floss. The upside was that I had Heath begging.
Know what's harder than buttons? Zippers. But I managed. Heath kept laughing at me the whole time: first I nipped his dick through his Levis , then I bit down on the tab of the zipper, and tooth-by-tooth I yanked it down. Tell you what, that was tricky. Between Heath's groans and giggles I managed to free Mr. Happy's best buddy.
"Yeah, that will teach you to laugh at the Master of Your Domain," I said, winking up at him. Fortunately for me, no underwear between my mouth and that mighty-fine dick of his. I got to use my teeth on the real thing. Nice little nibbles, too. He was moaning and groaning and begging nonstop. I completely forgot all that thread in my teeth.
I worked Heath over good, sucking him hot and hard, my head bobbing up and down faster and faster. He cussed between moans and grabbed my hair with enthusiasm-- didn't take long, and I had him coming in my mouth. Kissed him with the spunk on my lips too. He loved it. His mouth had just started in on me when a knock came at the door.
"Heath? Are you hurt?"
I froze. His mother! Shit!
"No," he answered. "I just stubbed my toe."
"Stubbed my toe?" I whispered. "Is that all you can think of? Jeez, that's gay."
"Things aren't gay," Heath whispered back, nipping Mr. Happy. "People are."
Heath flicked out his hot tongue. Mr. Happy jumped for joy.
"You be careful in there," she called out.
"I will," he answered, then kissed Mr. Happy.
"You better be," I hissed at Heath. "Don't want to damage the goods."
"The goodies," Heath corrected, licking Mr. Happy with Mr. Magic Tongue. "Damage the goodies."
We listened for his mom's departure. Her door closed.
"Now, where was I?" Heath asked. "Oh, yes." Then he sucked me off better than a Eureka Boss SmartVac with on-board attachments.
The next morning our shoes were wet with dew as we walked to the old garden. I smiled up at the clear sky. Only a few fluffy clouds with a light breeze: a perfect day. Our final mission? To reunite the lovers. The sun warmed my face as I watched Heath digging. I'd offered to help, but Heath felt it was important that he do this for Henry. A few feet away, a robin watched us as she perched on a limb of an old oak tree.
Heath removed the sod carefully, then dug in the middle of the plot. With each shovel-full, Heath was closer to Henry's heart. In my left hand I held a hefty posthole digger upright, and in my right hand I held Johann's urn against my chest. I'd tied it up in a silk scarf long enough to lower it down onto the casket.
We'd decided the initial hole only need to be a few feet deep before using the post hole digger. I stood next to Heath's dirt pile and was surprised when the brave little robin flew down and snatched a plump night crawler from the freshly-turned soil at my feet. She cocked her head and looked at me, then flew off. I watched her disappear into the sun.
Heath wiped his brow with his shirt sleeve and nodded. The hole was deep enough. He set the shovel aside, and I handed him the posthole digger. Heath stood with legs apart, chopping the ground with the digger's jaws, then he'd take step, rotating around the hole. With each step he pulled out a jaw-full of earth, and he did this until we heard a hollow thump. He'd found Henry.
I knelt and carefully inched Johann down to Henry. When the urn touched the casket, I let the end of the scarf go, and it fluttered down. At last they were together. As I stood and brushed off my jeans, Heath took a shovel-full of earth and dropped it down the hole. Then he handed the shovel to me, and I did the same. We took turns until the ground was mounded up where they both rested.
Heath replaced the sod over the grave, fitting the pieces of the grassy puzzle together, and we took turns patting the sod down with the shovel.
When done, we stood side-by-side.
"May you love each other well," he whispered. We bowed our heads. I prayed that wherever they were, they were together and happy.
The weeks passed. Heath's mother stayed, and Heath and I settled into our lives together: We wrote, we loved, we dreamed. One day in early June, we took one of our regular visits to see Henry and Johann. The grass was greener, the sky bluer, and the robin watched us from her nest high up on a bough of the old oak tree. I thought of Walt Whitman's words, "The smallest sprout shows that there is really no death." We stopped in front of the grave, and there bloomed two violets, one pale white and one rich purple, their throats both a blaze of yellow. I reached for Heath's hand and gave it a squeeze. I knew then that they were happy.
We turned and walked hand-in-hand back to our home. When we stepped inside the door together, I turned to Heath and kissed him. All the ghosts were at rest. Heath's parents and Austin. Johann and Henry. And all the magic? That was still there.
But it was all our own.