He sat there in his car with the motor still running. He stared at the unopened garage door. He could feel his foot going numb from holding down the brake. He was afraid to put his car in park; afraid that if he did, he would never open the garage door and go inside his home. He didn’t think he could face what was waiting.
It was a broken home now. It didn’t break all at once. It started out as just a nick but that nick grew into a crack and then his home, his relationship, his everything was broken and decaying. He hadn’t noticed the nick when it happened three and half months ago. He had come home after work as usual. Michael was in the kitchen getting dinner ready. He had walked up behind Michael to give him a kiss, just a kiss. But Michael turned away. He didn’t think much of it at the time. He probably had rationalized it. Michael had been chopping vegetables. Michael’s mind was on cooking dinner. Michael was just having an off day.
It turned out Michael’s mind was preoccupied but it hadn’t been on dinner. Michael’s mind had been on another younger and fitter man; an upgrade of his now middle aging self. Michael found the upgrade on Grindr and at that time Michael was only chatting. But the chatting was the nick.
He knew Michael was a flirt when they started dating six years ago. He had been at a bar by himself. He couldn’t take another lonely night in his studio apartment. So he decided to go out and be lonely amongst a crowd of people. He had seen Michael walk into the bar in a miasma of friends and laughter. It was Michael laughter’s that caught his attention. It was an unabashed and sincere laughter… infectious. He didn’t even know what Michael and his friends were laughing about but he found himself laughing with them from across the bar. He felt that loneliness that had accompanied him start to ebb away.
It was Michael who came over to him with two beers in his hands. He took the proffered beer from Michael that night and Michael had taken his heart. He had never had feelings so penetratingly strong for another person. Michael had captured him completely and he knew he couldn’t go back to his life without Michael. His life before Michael wasn’t life. It was a hollow existence of wishing for the next day to come so the current one with all its lonesome agony would be over.
He had gone home with Michael that night. He got to hear that laughter, that beautiful laughter in the dark as they talked and made love. He found that he didn’t want the night to end. He was afraid Michael would dismiss him in the morning after the alcohol had worn off. But Michael hadn’t dismissed him.
He and Michael began dating. He barely spent any time away from Michael. The only time he was parted from Michael was when he was at work. He got to know Michael’s friends, the ones from the bar the night they had met. He got to see how Michael held them in rapture with his stories. How Michael’s friends looked at Michael with lust in their eyes. He tried not letting it bother him. He was the one Michael went home with. But those pangs of jealously were stronger than his will. He slowly stopped Michael from going out so much in very passive aggressive ways. He’d feign sickness or he was too tired or he just wanted to watch a movie on TV with him. He’d say whatever to Michael to get him to stay in and not go out with his friends with their lust filled eyes. Then like magic Michael stopped wanting to go out. Staying in had become comfortable for him. He determined it was due to a combination of things. He would please Michael in any way Michael wanted. Michael had extra cash because he wasn’t spending it at the bar. He promised Michael things like trips and the very home he was now idling in front of. He had always delivered on his promises.
But eventually after six years, Michael said he felt like he was being suffocated. The nick was now a crack. Michael missed his friends. Michael hated that he never wanted to go out. Michael was restless of this monotony that had become life. He didn’t want to lose Michael so they started going back out to the bars and meeting up with Michael’s friends; the friends with lust in their eyes.
Michael still wasn’t satisfied. Michael said he missed his freedom of singlehood. When he could do whatever he wanted. This broke him. He remembered going into the bathroom after Michael had confessed this. He leaned over the sink not sure if he was going to vomit or die of heartache. He had stayed in the bathroom for a long time silently crying into the sink. When he had finally composed himself he went back out to Michael who was watching TV. He asked Michael what he wanted. Michael told him without even looking at him and he said he would deliver. This was only three days ago. This is when his home, his relationship, his everything broke.
He finally opened the garage door and it creaked as it wheeled up the track. When the garage door came to a halt he pulled his car in and parked. He turned off the car and sat for a moment, building up the courage to go into his home and face what it now was.
He entered his home, which was dark and cast in shadows. He didn’t bother turning on any lights. He made his way upstairs to the bedroom. That was where Michael was. He was halfway up the stairs when he stopped. He didn’t think he could go on. He couldn’t face what was behind their bedroom door. He couldn’t face Michael. Not after last night when he delivered on his promise. He was shaking. He had to put a hand on the wall to steady him. He knew he had to face what was waiting for him.
Still shaking, he continued up the rest of the stairs. Their bedroom was just at the end of the hall. The door was ajar and he could see a sliver of light haloing the gap and shining down the hall toward him. The light was guiding him to their bedroom and beckoning him to face what he feared he couldn’t. He followed it leaving teardrops, like breadcrumbs, in his wake.
Outside their bedroom door he steeled himself for what he already knew was on the other side waiting for him. He soundlessly pushed the door open. The light from the bedside lamp showered him in light and blinded him for a moment. As his eyes adjusted, he saw the scene before him just as it had been this morning when he left. Michael was lying entwined in bloody sheets and the upgrade. Michael with unblinking eyes stared at him; Michael whose laughter had been silenced forever.
What Michael had wanted was a night with the upgrade that was unhindered by him. He had agreed. Michael invited the upgrade over last night and he had stayed out of the way. He slept in the guest bedroom but could still hear the muffled pleasures of the promise he delivered to Michael. It drove him crazy but he stayed in the guest bedroom. It wasn’t until morning came that he finally came out of the guest bedroom. He went downstairs to make breakfast when he heard Michael and the upgrade start back up again. He couldn’t take it anymore. He had only promised Michael a night, not a morning too.
He made his way upstairs to their bedroom. He flung opened the door and saw Michael entwined with the upgrade. He hadn’t noticed the butcher knife in his hand until he saw Michael look at it. Michael stopped but the upgrade so filled with lust continued. He snapped. The butcher knife slashed through the air reflecting the light from the bedside lamp. Michael and the upgrade were dead and their blood was soaking into the white, Egyptian cotton sheets. He stared at the two of them for only a moment and then got ready for work. He left them just as is.
He was now sitting on the bed with Michael’s head cradled in his lap. Tears were still falling and they pelted Michael’s head. He reached over to the bedside table and opened the drawer. He felt his hand wrap around the cool metal of the Glock-19 he kept loaded there. He couldn’t live his life without Michael. He couldn’t go back to a hallow existence. He put the barrel of the gun to his temple and there was no more life without Michael.