As we drove to wherever he was taking me, I still had Asa on my mind.
“You’re thinking too loud. Tell me what happened.”
Craig did not believe in beating around the bush. He’d been the one to hit on me first our freshmen year of college, and he’d been the one to break it off, telling me we would make much better friends. He wasn’t wrong then and when it came to facing things head-on, he’d rarely ever been. I thought, or over thought, and Craig leaped.
“Fine. I’ll talk. But, I swear not one I told you so at least until I’m done.”
Making a ridiculously big show of zipping his lips, my annoying best friend and ex gave me the nod to go ahead and then focused back on the road to let me get it all out.
“The only reason I even considered stepping foot in that church or dealing with that sanctimonious blowhard Bishop Chambers was that I thought I’d get to see Asa. He would be forced to engage at least a little or be considered rude. When he wasn’t around the past two summers for youth sports, I realized how much I missed him. Look, even I know you can’t just go around hunting down folks’ contact information and asking them out. I know that’s what you would have done, but most people wouldn’t.”
“Talk like that is gonna have me commenting.”
“I digress. I get how unreasonable all of this sounds out loud. In my head, though, it made perfect sense. I believe in divine order and this is meant to be, trust me. I would not have spent the last eighteen months celibate without good reason. I have respected his age, his fear, and his hiding. I learned what it meant to want to pick up that daddy title. I am ready to bring myself to him. To take care of him. I worked on myself. I cleaned up my own less than stellar behavior.”
“You mean your man-whore ways?”
“That is not keeping it zipped.”
“But it wasn’t I told you so either. Carry on.”
“Look, when I came back to work youth sports the first time and he was one of the counselors I was thrilled. I thought, surely, he’s out by now. He’d been away at college for two years, but he was like a nervous cat around me. Plus, his mother was like a hovercraft. Adult or not, that woman would’ve reported me for whatever lewd act is still on the books in Tennessee and had me arrested. So, I pushed it out of my mind.”
When Craig only looked at me without comment, I took it as a green light to proceed. It was hard to believe he either didn’t have a comment or was able to hold it.
“Bruh, he was responding to me all summer. I thought the boy has got to be out by now. He hung out with the group sometimes. We talked about all sorts of things, scriptures, and he even shared that he was considering the ministry. Then there were the looks he gave me and the ones I caught were screaming go, go. I figured I would take him out during the last week after the camp was done and he was on board. All I did was touch his shoulder and I know he felt it too.”
Craig looked at me from the corner of his eye. “Shut up. I know it was there. I know what I felt.”
“The spark. Yeah, you’ve mentioned that a few hundred times.”
“We were good, man. I’m telling you. Even if he never came right out and said, ‘I’m gay and into you.’ He was feeling me. We were ten minutes from making an exit when his mother texted. I watched the light go out of his eyes. I don’t know what her message said, but he turtled up. The retreat was instantaneous. It wasn’t just that he rejected me or backed out of our plans. He backed out of being himself. I wanted to hug him to me and tell him it was going to be okay and that he could be honest with me and, for god’s sake, with himself.”
“You can’t snatch somebody out of the closet.”
“I didn’t want to snatch him out. I just wanted to take the nails out of the door. His mother and Bishop Blowhard had him boarded up tight.”
“Maybe Bishop Blowhard needs to be blown hard. A man can get really reasonable after a powerful orgasm.”
We pulled up to the restaurant, and I looked at Craig over the roof of his car. “And what would your plan be for his mother?”
Craig laughed out loud. Yeah, he wouldn’t be volunteering to help with that situation. When he settled down and caught his breath, he waved for me to come around the hood of the car. “Come on. Oh, and I’m getting the bottomless mimosas.”
“You always get them.”
“Yeah, but today you’re buying, so I thought it was worth restating.”