For Tommy, there was nothing more calming and centering than being on his board, a few hundred feet out from the shore, watching a monster wave making its way to him. But, he knew that what happened this time was all wrong as the tendons of his right shoulder were ripped suddenly away from their connections and his arm separated from the rest of his body like a Thanksgiving Day turkey drumstick.
The repeating dream faded as his scream woke him and he came to spasmodic consciousness. Rorey was flung unceremoniously from his chest…and the bed.
“God damn dude, you have cuddlepsy!”
He was awake and still a little drunk, but the pain was clearing the buzz fast. His arm was still connected to his body, but the spikey pain was shooting through his shoulder again. “Shit, I’m really sorry Rorey, but you must have hit that trigger spot in my shoulder when you moved in for the snug. I had that dream again and I could feel my arm being ripped out of the socket.” He moved his arm back down to his side and rubbed the shoulder. Rorey just stood there with his arms crossed. He looked sorry, a little pissy, and his morning wood was starting to sag.
“Come snuggle a bit on the other side?”
Walking and bobbing around to the other side of the bed, Rorey crawled back under the covers and put his arm over Tommy’s little Buda belly.
Tommy thought the accident had ambushed his (imagined?) pro surfing career. Since he was a kid, the ocean was always the only place he wanted to be and, as far as he was concerned, surfing was the best thing about being at the ocean. He was far from being a pro, but it was everything he’d dreamt of since he was a kid. In the last couple of years he’d become a promising amateur, winning a half dozen contests in various locations every year. Until the accident.
A little more than two weeks ago he met Rorey, at the liquor store, when they were both shopping. Tommy, to replace the liquor bottles he emptied the prior weekend, feeling sorry for himself in his bedroom rental, and Rorey, to buy the ingredients for a martini party he was throwing the coming Saturday. Tommy’s mood had been too low to put off Rorey when he started flirting with him and asked him to come to his party Saturday night. In the end, Tommy said yes.
The following Saturday he knocked lightly on the door, hearing the music and laughter inside the apartment, and vaguely thought. “God, with any luck no one will hear and I can just go home again.” His arm had been aching so he had swallowed just a little premedication prior to the party, telling himself that he would go light on the alcohol. When the door opened, Rorey stood in front of him. His hair was all spikey, standing up on his head in a way that was really cute on someone that was, well, his age. He gave him a lop-sided grin and grabbed both of his shoulders to drag him into a welcoming kiss. “Ow, fuck!” It came out louder than needed and he gritted his teeth.
“Oh man, sorry dude.”
“It’s okay…have a little shoulder thing going on and sometimes it hurts like a bitch. It’s not your fault.”
“Sure, um, well, come on in. I’m really glad you came.”
Rorey’s apartment was sparse, and a studio at that, but the twenty or so guests that were there were all the same age as them and filled it up with color and movement. There were big windows at the far end of the room and lots of people floated around between Rorey and them.
Near the windows lived a long, wooden plank table. It was clearly old and pock-marked, but polished smooth with time and use. Flowers in a half dozen vases dominated the length, “I picked them this morning on a run,” Rorey confessed. One end of the table held the martini makings, along with a few non-alcoholic beverages. The other end held simple savory snacks along with a large bowl of fresh strawberries for dipping in a chocolate fondue. The portion of the room closest to him was a cozy sitting space with a worn futon couch, bean bags and director’s chairs. For a one room apartment, it was functioning well with the little crowd. The colors were odd for a male oriented room, but the blues, greens, yellows, pinks, and oranges tended to bring the outside in and made a happy splash on the back of Tommy’s eye balls.
“You want something to drink?”
He desperately wanted a glass of vodka on the rocks. Isn’t that, basically, a martini? However, it looked like the choice was either something deeply brown or something with a strong pinkish tint. “I think I’ll try the pink one.” He must have twisted his face in an off-kilter way, because Rorey’s eyebrows went up and he said, “I can make something different for you if you like?”
“It’s cool…what is it?”
“Watermelon martini.” He returned, a little apologetically.
Tommy smiled and took a sip of the sweet vodka drink. “It’s lovely, I hope you made a pitcher of them.” And he shuddered and smiled inside, at the same time.
Tommy met, well, maybe twenty new people. He literally knew no one at the party besides Rorey.
“Adios Lucky, see ya Monday at the hotel.” Rorey said to the last guest as he closed the door behind him.
“Jeeze, I probably should leave, too.” Tommy said, as he made for the door. “I don’t want to overstay my welcome.” Rorey slipped it shut, turned the deadbolt and positioned himself between Tommy and the doorknob.
“I didn’t get enough time with you tonight dude. I was hoping you could hang out and keep me company while I clean up.”
“Oh…I ‘spose, no harm that. Where do you want to start?”
Rorey rolled his eyes, took Tommy’s hand and steered him to the sitting area. “I’m done cleaning. Now I want to hang out with you.” He pulled Tommy on top of him and into a deep kiss, falling into one of the bean bag chairs. He was investigating the inside of his mouth with a very forthright tongue and seemed to be looking for any sweetness left from the watermelon juice.
Tommy didn’t get home until late the next morning. He ended up telling Rorey all about his accident as they sat, intertwined in each other’s arms, in the bean bag chair. They talked into the night, Tommy feeling his confidence and spirit returning with each revelation to this supportive and upbeat listener. For his part, Rorey listened patiently to the entire story, asked questions where appropriate and cooed when it was called for.
At the end of the story, he announced, “Tommy, you’re coming to Dana Point with me tomorrow, and after that, you need to listen to my story. If we’re going to live together, that’s the way it has to be.”
“Should I be scared?” was all Tommy could think of saying.
The smell of the ocean caused Tommy to jog the last couple of blocks down to Dana Point, pulling Rorey behind, with his eyes on the surf. The water looked mild today, but maybe that was best for his reentry anyway. Because for Tommy, there was nothing more calming and centering than being on his board, a few hundred feet out from the shore, watching a monster wave making its way to him, but now, the story included Rorey, too.