“When did you start to have a drug problem, Clayton?”
Dr. Hudson office was a well decorated room with large windows with a view of the big yard outside. The embroidery on the walls and flowers on the table and window sills made it look very homely, but also like someone went through great lengths to make it that way. Dr. Hudson himself was a stern looking guy with round glasses, probably in his mid thirties, whom Cib really didn’t know anything about. He often wore grey suits that matched the walls creepily well.
“Well, I would think the death of my boyfriend probably had something to do with it,” Cib said and took a sip from his cup of coffee. It was the closest thing to nicotine he could get nowadays, he wasn’t even allowed to vape anymore. Not since he had started to see Dr. Hudson twice a week, not since-
All of it mostly felt like a dream. This was something that happened to people on the news, or in sad movies. Parker and Cib were just normal people, planning to buy a house together. It shouldn’t have happened to them.
“We both know you did drugs before that,” Dr. Hudson said matter-of-factly, tapping his pen on his black writing pad.
“Yeah sure, but it wasn’t anything heavy, nothing hefty,”Cib replied. “Just a puff here a huff there kind of situation if you know what I mean.”
If Dr. Hudson knew what he meant he didn’t show it.
“Did your boyfriend ever take any drugs with you?”
“I was super high the first time I met him so he definitely knew about my habits, but no, no he didn’t,” Cib swallowed, “He was always better than me.”
Whatever question Dr. Hudson asked, it always came back to Parker. He guessed that was why he were there, to get help with dealing with grief and that kind of stuff. Personally, he thought he was doing great. How good could you truly feel two months after the love of your life died?
Cib didn’t want to feel much better; he didn’t want to forget Parker. He kept a photo of the two of them in his pocket at all time, to look at whenever he felt unsure about the colour of his eyes or even the smallest wrinkle in his face. It was taken at one of Steven’s parties, just a week before-
Cib drank up the rest of his coffee in a single gulp. His throat burned, but he didn’t care. “This coffee sucks, dude.”
Cib had heard about Parker long before he met him. He and Steven worked together, and apparently he wasn’t very good at his job. But Steven could also be pretty rude, so he took it with a grain of salt. Steven had never mentioned how cute Parker was though, or how nice he was, or what a pretty smile he had, so he was taken back but how much he liked him when they finally met on one of Steven’s dogs’ birthday party. Cib didn’t remember much of that evening but at 4 AM he had fallen asleep on Steven’s a couch in the living room, already feeling hungover but with Parker’s number in his pocket and a smile on his face.
Cib had known he really didn’t have his life together, he still didn’t have a stable job or a nice apartment. He had moved from Canada seven months ago, and while he didn’t regret it, it hadn’t made his life miraculously better either.
He still lived in a very shitty apartment (granted with a much better view). He had spent the whole day before Parker would visit for the first time cleaning every square inch of it. It took five hours and afterwards it looked more presentable than before, that was for sure, but not by much. He still didn’t have any healthy food in the fridge. His clothes lay unwashed in the back of his drawers, and the nicest piece of furniture he had was a couch from IKEA. His bathroom cabinet was still filled with painkillers he couldn’t throw away.
Even when they were kissing on his couch later that evening Cib couldn’t help but think about if Parker had noticed the stained floors and dirty windows. Parker hadn’t said anything, but Cib had been to Parker’s house and in comparison Cib was living in the slums. He had run his fingers through Parker’s hair and vowed to work harder.
Depressing as it was, his therapy session was probably the highlight of Cib’s week. Even if he more often or not didn’t feel like he was getting anything from it, it was still a change of scenery. Dr. Hudson may not be the most interesting fellow, but to talk to anyone was nice. He didn’t talk to a lot of people anymore. He hadn’t realized before how many of his friends actually only were Parkers friends.
Many people had visited him at first, after the incident. People looking at him with sad eyes, talking to him carefully. They had been uncomfortable with seeing him, but at least Cib didn’t feel completely lonely when they were there. But now the only one from before who still cared enough to visit him recurrently was Steven (the last time he saw James was a month ago, he was probably busy). It wasn’t like Cib ever visited them in return, and with Parker gone they presumably didn’t see the point in continuing their visits.
Steven was a busy man, being in the 1% took loads of work, so Cib was grateful every time he came over. When he did, he often complained about how he was living, talked about how everyone else was doing (people Cib hadn’t seen in weeks), or even brought him gifts.
“I brought you something,” Steven said and reached into his backpack. It had been quite a long time since he had last seen him. Cib didn’t know if it was because of work, or if he simply also were starting to get bored of him now when Parker wasn’t around. That was a strange thought, because he had met Steven long before Parker, but he couldn’t help thinking it. Steven pulled out a wrapped present and slid it across the table towards Cib.
“Thank you, bro! You know you don’t have to, right?”
“Yeah, but I figured you don’t have much to do, so the least I can do is bring you something to read.”
Cib quickly ripped the wrapping paper away and studied the front cover.
“Ooooh, Royally Endowed! Didn’t know this was released yet!” He had read the first two books in the series back in May (two books both Steven and Parker had mocked him for reading, all based on the sexy naked guys on the covers).
“Yeah, it was released like two weeks ago, thought you would like to read it”, Steven leaned back into his chair. He truly looked exactly like he always had. Meanwhile, Cib almost couldn’t recognize himself in the mirror anymore. Was Cib the only one truly affected by this whole thing? Did nobody else care that Parker was-
Cib coughed, “Will probably have to hide it from Dr Hudson though, you never know what crazy thing he could deduct from me reading this.”
They both fell silent for a while, Cib flipping through the book and Steven fidgeting with his hands.
“Is the counseling going well?” Steven finally asked, rubbing his neck. “Is Dr Hudson nice?”
“Hmm,” Cib closed the book and looked up at the ceiling.“I don’t really know what he’s trying to accomplish, but I guess I trust that he knows what he’s doing.”
Steven sighed, not looking content with that answer. Cib knew Steven had really pushed for him to get counseling once a week, and he was the only reason Cib gave it a shot.
“To be totally frank with you, Steve,” Cib added. “I don’t think I need it, but it’s nice to talk to someone, it’s not like you’re visiting that often, so I’m not complaining,”
“Well, you do need it,” Steven said straightforwardly. “So don’t just dismiss it, and you’ll thank me later.”
Cib snorted. “Geez bro, I’m not quitting it, don’t worry, but don’t be surprised when it doesn’t change me in any way at all.”
“I guess that’s all I can ask for.”
Cib stroked his fingers over the hardback cover, admiring the guy’s abs. “You know what I would really like?” he said absent-minded.
He looked up from the book. “One of Parker’s shirts.”
Steven didn’t say anything and Cib couldn’t read his expression either so he continued.
“All of Parkers stuff was in his house, I have almost nothing to remember him by, soon I’ll forget what movies he loved, what he sounded like, or what he smelled like!”
Cib realised he had raised his voice quite a lot, and slumped back down into his chair. Steven still didn’t say anything.
“Please Steve, it would mean a lot to me if you could bring me on of his shirts.”
Steven sighed and put his hands on his face, before looking up at Cib with dejection in his eyes.
“Oh Cib, you know I can’t do that.”
The nights were always too long, filled with twisting and turning and thoughts he didn’t want to think. Unable to relax he sometimes began stroking himself, hoping to release some tension, promising to think about someone, anyone else. But the faceless guy with him in his mind would suddenly have curly hair, brown eyes would meet blue, and then all of a sudden it was Parker stroking his fully hard cock and kissing him deeply when he came.
Cib didn’t know what was the worst, jerking of to his deceased boyfriend, or to someone else only two months after his death.
They weren’t always happy with each other, him and Parker. They were pretty different people after all. Parker didn’t like him vaping (or smoking, or taking any drugs at all), Cib thought Parker was too much of a goody two shoes. Parker thought Cib should work more, Cib thought Parker should work less. But still, they worked good together. They understood each other, differences and all. And the sex, of course, was great.
Cib really didn’t like to think of it, but they had argued a lot just before it happened. In hindsight, it was stupid. Of course it was. It always was.
Neither one of them had ever been the jealous type. So why were they suddenly both angry about the other spending time with a girl? Cib should have known Parker would never betray him, but he was already angry about Parker spending less time with him so he let his feelings take hold on him. Cib remember their last argument so clearly, every word yelled and every hurt expression on Parker’s face. He never got to apologize.
“Do you remember how you felt when you got the news, Clayton?”
It was only early october but Cib already felt that winter was near. From the window he could see the trees swaying in the wind, their leaves already orange. The months went away fast, but inside of Dr. Hudson office everything looked exactly like it always had. Cib wondered how many more months he would have to visit it.
Cib laughed softly. “I felt strangely hypnotized, I almost can’t remember a thing,” he said, “I think I yelled at the policeman, I was convinced that he either was out of his fucking mind, or just fucking with me.”
He heard the familiar scratching of Dr. Hudson writing something down, but he had learned to ignore it by now.
“I had just been with him, there was no way that he was dead.” Cib had been laying down on the couch but he quickly sat up.
“And do you know what the worst thing is, doctor?” Cib said, but didn’t give Dr. Hudson any time to answer, “The last thing we did was fight, I don’t know even know what it was about or even what the last word I said to him was, but it sure wasn’t anything nice!”
Dr. Hudson hadn’t put down his pen, but he wasn’t writing anymore. Instead, he was just looking at him intensely with a strange expression Cib had never seen on him before. It made him want to hide away.
“Do you regret the fight you had with your boyfriend, Clayton?”
Cib huffed, he couldn’t believe his ears. “Yeah of-fucking-course I do! We fought and then he died and now I will never see him again or get to apologize or hug him and it’s all her fault! It wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for her! If it weren’t for fucking Sami Jo!”
It was the second time he saw Sami Jo since it happened. He was surprised when he saw her, he didn’t get the impression that she would ever want to see him again last time they met. She still looked just as beautiful, and Cib realised that he had missed her.
“Hey Cib,” she said.
“Hey Sami Jo,” he said.
“How are you doing?” she asked.
“Ok,” he answered.
She twirled with her hair. “I’m so sorry for everything, Cib.”
“Why? You haven’t done anything wrong.”
She never had. It wasn’t her fault that she was beautiful, nice and funny and happened to become friends with them. It wasn’t her fault she entered their life during their most insecure time.
“But I still feel guilty, I should have cleared things up, it wasn’t right of me to act the way I did,” Sami Jo said, hoarse, and he could almost see tears in her eyes, “If you hadn’t fought then perhaps...”
“You can’t know that,” he interrupted her, “It’s nobody’s fault.”
Cib reached out to touch her hands, but she cringed away. She always did. He guessed it was meaningless to hope that they could be as close as they were before. Neither of them could ever go back to how they were. She brushed away her hair from her face. He noticed she had dark circles under her eyes. “
But it is, it really is Cib.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” he said.
“I should leave,” she said, and she did.
Cib is scrolling on Instagram, when Parker storms through the door looking absolutely distraught.
“What’s this, Cib?” he says, his voice thick with emotions,“You said you had stopped with this shit!”
Cib sees the plastic bag in Parkers clenched hands, and he immediately understands what it’s all about. He hid it under the bathroom sink last night, after he had injected himself with it, in hope of Parker never finding it.
“I have!” he yells, “I have babe, it was just a one-off thing, you know I’ve been dealing with a lot lately!”
He puts his hands on Parkers shoulders in an attempt to calm him down. But Parker cringes away, the disappointment clear in his eyes. God, he's so stupid, why did he think he could hide anything from his boyfriend? “
I don’t know if I can keep doing this Cib...” Parker looks down on the floor, not willing to meet his eyes, “Not if I can’t trust you.”
“Of course you can trust me!” Cib cries, “But can I trust you? You haven’t exactly been around lately!”
Parker shakes his head. “If this is about Sami Jo you know nothing happened between us!” He throws the plastic bag on the floor, and Cib has to restrain himself to not immediately pick it up, the white powder trickling down through the wooden floor cracks.
“This is your last chance Cib, don’t fuck it up,” he says before slamming the door shut. Cib doesn’t go after him.
Later that evening they make up, they lay in their bed and Cib kisses him tenderly. Parker kisses back but he can still see the hurt in his eyes. “I love you,” he says, “I love you so much” “I love you too,” he says back, barely more than a whisper.
Cib didn’t go to the next session. He didn’t want to talk to Dr Hudson, and god damn it, that was his right. He was tired of people talking to him like they knew so much better. Like Cib had no clue how to live his own life. Parker had treated him like that sometimes too, but he did it because he truly cared about Cib, not because he got paid to do it.
He didn’t eat his breakfast the next morning and only nibbled on some bread at lunch. At dinner he ate too much and stood bent over the toilet clearing out his stomach in the evening. He could almost feel a familiar hand rubbing his back and whispering that it was going to be okay while he spewed up bile. Just like all those nights Cib came home from a long night out drinking.
“Are you proud of me?” he asked, tears in his eyes and mouth full with the taste of vomit.
But no one answered.
Steven looked angry.
“I’m not angry, I’m disappointed,” he said, “I thought we had discussed this.”He looked down and rubbed his forehead. “I thought you were doing better.”
Cib didn’t feel like talking to anyone, not even Steven, but here he is. He should have known Steven would find out about him not going to his last three therapy sessions sooner rather than later. But he wished he hadn’t come here to argue about it with him.
“I don’t want to hear any excuses, Cib,” Steven cut him off, “Do you know how much I’ve fought for you, how much I’ve given up for you?!”
He was yelling, but Cib doesn’t have the energy to flinch or to yell back. Instead, he only looks at him with tired eyes.
“Do you know how hard it is for me to even be here? To continue to be your friend?”
Cib wanted to say something, to apologize, but he couldn’t get out any words.
“I always thought this wasn’t you, that this would blow over, but now I’m starting to think that this always has been you, and I was just too blind to see it.”
They stared at each other.
“I should leave,” he said, and he did.
“So how are you feeling, Clayton?”
Cib had gone to the next session. Dr. Hudson hadn’t acknowledged his former absence in the slightest, starting their session just like normal. It irked Cib; he wanted a reaction, perhaps even a compliment on coming back on his own.
“I’m fine, I think,” Cib answered, fidgeting with his fingers. “Or perhaps I’m not.”
He looked out from the window. The orange leaves had began to fall down from the trees, leaving them bare and cold. “I thought I would be, but it’s already winter soon and I don’t feel any different from how I did back in June. It feels like I’m stuck, something’s blocking me and I have no idea how to get over it.”
Dr. Hudson fell silent, it looked like he was pondering hard on something. He wrote something down on his notepad, took a deep sigh and opened his mouth.
“Why did you kill your boyfriend, Clayton?”
Cib stared at him, mouth agape. "Wh-what?"
Dr Hudson stared back, face neutral as ever. "Why did you kill your boyfriend, Clayton?" he repeated.
“I-I didn’t,” Cib stammered, “Why would I do that?”
“You did Clayton, denying it will not let us make any progress here.”
“No, no, no, I didn’t!” Cib jumped up from the sofa. “It was Steven! Steven fucking killed Parker!”
He’s driving to Parker’s house, his heart’s beating and the world’s blurry.
Dr. Hudson shook his head. “He didn’t Clayton, you know that.”
“Then it was Sami Jo, she killed Parker!” Cib grabbed Dr. Hudson shoulders and shook him violently. “They cheated on me, she tricked him, and that bitch killed him!”
Parker had given him a key long ago, so he simply unlocks the front door and walks in. Parker’s watching TV on the couch.
“He never cheated on you, Sami Jo told us everything when she testified.”
“Yeah, she testified against me so she could go free!” Cib couldn’t think straight, it felt like the small office was closing in on him. “I didn’t kill him!”
Parker smiles when he sees him and stands up to greet him with a kiss.
“You did, you were angry and under inf-”
“I fucking didn’t!”, his hands suddenly grabbed Dr. Hudson’s throat. “I loved him! I fucking loved him so goddamn much!”
Cib was grabbed from behind and pushed into the mattress. “You don’t understand!” he screams. “We all killed him together! They forced me to do it!”
The guard put him in a rear wrist lock, and he winces in pain, he tries to fight it but the guard doesn’t give him any chance to escape.
“Are you a good listener, Parker?”
Dr. Hudson took of his glasses, cleaned them on his shirt and sighed. “Take him back to his cell, this obviously isn’t working," he told the guard.
“It wasn’t my fault!” Cib screamed as he was dragged out from the office into the long white corridors. “I loved him!”
He was thrown into his cell and fell down on the cold, dirty floor. He laid there long after he had heard the gate being locked behind him.
Parker’s laying still on the floor. The blood trickles down through the wooden floor cracks.
Cib laid beside him, tears slowly trickling down his face.
“I loved you,” he said, barely more than a whisper.