I picked up my cell phone and flipped it open. Before dialing I hesitated, should I call her? All we would do is get into another argument. Biting my lip, I weighed the possibilities of what might happen. We’d fight and I’d probably end up being an asshole to everyone else, but Carolyn and I needed to talk. On the other hand we might make amends. I sighed, what to do?
Who am I kidding?, I wondered snapping my phone shut. Before I had a chance to put it down, it rang almost giving me a heart attack.
"Hello?" I asked leaning up against my bunk.
"Steve, we need to talk," formed the first words I heard.
Not "Hello, how are you?" just "Steve we need to talk". I sighed.
"Not now, Carolyn," I muttered, closing my eyes. I wasn’t in the mood for it.
"YES NOW!" she exploded, "Steve, honey, we have to talk! I want you to come home and get a proper job and help me raise our family!"
"I like what I do!" I said loudly. I wasn’t going to yell… focus on that…
"Leaving me here to raise the boys while you go off traipsing around the country signing photos and singing?"
"I LIKE MY JOB AND NO ONE IS GOING TO TELL ME TO STOP!" I yelled.
I was trying so hard not to lose my temper, and I failed. I hung up and whipped the phone onto my bunk. Walking into the lounging area, everyone was silent. I cursed, I was trying to keep the fights a secret. I gave a weak smile to a troubled looking Ed… but there was something different about him for the past few months and I couldn’t quite put my thumb on it. He turned back to his video games giving me a look that said "If you want to talk, I’m here". I opened a window and fished around for a pack of cigarettes, I only smoked on the bus when I was really worn out; every one knew that. Fin walked onto the bus. It took me a moment to realize we had stopped.
"We have three buses now, one for the techs and me… Tyler, Kevin and Jim… and Steve and Ed. No complaints?" he asked. I shook my head, I had none. The others didn’t have any either.
"Ok, this one can be Steve and Ed’s, I’m sure that the others don’t want one smelling like smoke. No offense."
"None taken…" I said taking one last drag and snuffing it out.
"Ok… guess you can move then. If you go out, be back no later than… about eleven. And if you rent anything we can return it tomorrow morning," he said, leaving. I glanced over to where the others were. Ed was staring at me trying to figure me out like he would a puzzle. His blue eyes looked into mine… It freaked me out so I broke eye contact. Jim was the first one done, he always traveled light.
"See you two later then, huh?" he asked, stepping outside. There would be four empty bunks… this would be interesting. I heard Ty giggle, then I saw him run out of the bus with his duffel bag and a crumpled piece of fabric that looked suspiciously like my grandmother’s curtains.
"TYLER!" yelled Ed jumping up and giving chase. Ty had stolen Ed’s man blouse. I giggled; everyone was continuously bashing Ed down for it. Kevin walked out last.
"Steve?" he asked, walking over to me, Hugo tucked under one arm.
"Yeah, Kev?" I asked, rummaging for another cigarette and finding that I was out. I cursed under my breath and made a mental note to get more, but for now I would live with Nicorette.
"Do you have anything you want to talk about?" he asked.
To tell him about Carolyn or not? Or not, I decided.
"No, thing’s between us are fine," I said. D’oh! I shouldn’t have said "between us"; that messed everything up. Kevin raised his eyebrows, but said nothing. He walked to his new bus obviously back in Kevvy land. I shook my head; I will not get the others involved… I will not. Ed trudged back into the bus holding a wet and muddy piece of fabric, which still showed signs of color.
"Let it go, Ed…" I said gently, trying not to laugh.
He glared at the wall opposite to him and gave the finger to anyone still outside.
"Ed?" I asked.
"It can be dry cleaned… it’s still good," He said, stubbornly shoving it into a plastic bag. Whatever bit of pride came from that shirt was beyond me, it looked like a nineteen fifty’s prom dress that was cut in half. Mind you, it probably was.
"Ed? Feel like coming to the store with me? We can pick up some munchies and some porn and stay up half the night," I suggested. He looked up at me finishing the small task of placing the shirt in the bag.
"Sure. Let’s get a cheesy one, let the people at the rental place freak out!" Ed agreed, going to get his coat. I chuckled and went for mine, I decided I would tell him tonight.
We came back to the bus laughing. Ed grabbed some gay porn on purpose and then he brought it to the front desk to rent it and told them he needed to know how to do it just right and of course received horrified looks from everyone and ended up admitting it was a joke. He then grabbed some real porn and was hovering around the video game resale aisle when two girls saw us while buying "Barenaked in America." We took this as a signal to run. Then we went to the 7-11 and once again were spotted by fans.
"Now that was fun…" I breathed, grabbing the pack of Players. Ed snatched them away from me and held out a pack of those weird patches. I scowled, but the look softened; I just couldn’t stay mad at him. I grabbed the extended package and slapped one on my arm. He seemed content with this and I felt relieved almost immediately.
"Steve, do you want to watch it tonight or right now?" he asked, grinning, most obviously referring to the gay porn incident.
"Tonight, sweetie!" I said, returning the grin and putting on the lisp. No matter how much Carolyn wanted me to quit the band, I wouldn’t. Around eleven, we both got bored of X-files and playing PS2 hockey. Then, we got around to turning on the rented film. It was cheesier than we had imagined. We would have been better off renting "Heavy Metal". At around one, I was bored of watching the same old thing so I switched it off unexpectedly.
"Why’d ya do that?" asked Ed, finishing off his coke and turning to look at me. I put my head in my hands; time to tell him.
"Carolyn wants me to quit the band…" I began quietly.
"What!?" He looked worried when I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye.
"You heard me. What am I going to do?" I asked, letting a rare tear fall down my cheek.
"I don’t know… I mean your family is important but she shouldn’t force you to choose," said Ed.
"I want to stay! But I also want to be on good terms with Carolyn! Oh God, help me…" I moaned, leaning into Ed. Then something happened that I certainly didn’t expect; I began to get aroused. This shocked me more than when Carolyn announced she was pregnant with Isaac. Ed must have felt the same way because he drew in a sharp, excited breath.
"Ed, how are things with Nat?" I asked, trying to get my mind off it.
"Well…" he began, getting depressed.
"You don’t have to say anything!" I said sharply; everyone knew there were problems between the two, but I didn’t want to make Ed feel worse.
"I should…" he said, slowly blinking back forming tears, "Me and Nat have been fighting for awhile and she too is threatening about my career." I saw tears well up in his eyes; both of us were on the verge of crying. The second one rolled down his cheek, I wiped it away with my thumb. He blushed and looked away.
"Don’t be embarrassed…" I said softly. Still no response. I rubbed his back and let him collect his thoughts. His shoulders slumped and he craned his neck back in relaxation.
What am I doing?, I asked myself. This is my best friend, but it feels so right… And I made up my mind. I leaned forward and just before contact I closed my eyes, kissing his neck.
The kiss came unexpected, but I didn’t mind at all. I moaned and leaned into him; this was almost too much with the wives talk.
"Steve…" I managed to say after a second. I turned around and looked at him. He seemed almost as shocked as I was, if not more. I propped myself up with my hands leaning over him and looking into his eyes. Bedroom eyes as the Seventies call them. They used to look like normal brown eyes, but now… The last few months that Nat and me have been fighting, I’ve had this new feeling toward Steve. But for those few months, I didn’t know what it was… until tonight. They looked so sad… but probably because of Carolyn, not me… right? I closed my eyes and leaned in to give him a kiss. The second our lips met, I was buzzed with electricity. I always wanted to know what it would be like to kiss him… and I mean really kiss him, not the little ones we shared onstage. I decided to be gentle and I ran my tongue lightly over his lips, demanding entry. He parted his lips letting my tongue pass. I was getting very hard now. So was he. Exploring the more sensitive parts of his mouth, I took one hand and snaked it down his front, running a thumb over his nipples. He moaned into my mouth. He delicately pushed his tongue into my mouth running it up the roof of it. My hand continued south until it reached just above his pants… Was this the smart thing to do? Suddenly Steve broke the kiss and leaned over to whisper in my ear.
"Touch me…" he begged, sitting up more. This sent a rush of blood to my cock; I was starting to feel lightheaded. Still, I didn’t move.
"Please…" he begged again. I placed my hand on the button of his fly and undid it. He sighed and traced my jaw-line. I undid his zipper and pulled his jeans down slightly. His erection strained against the fabric of his boxers. I rubbed the head and he gasped in surprise and delight. Then I pulled his boxers down and his swollen member stood up in the air proud and true. I stared at it. I wanted to give him head, but I was unsure on how to go about it. I gave his dick an apprehensive lick. He moaned in return and I knew I was going about it the right way. I gave in and ran my tongue along the entire shaft, then I took him into my mouth, sucking lightly. Taking the entire length, I swallowed nothing, it’s just what Nat did that felt so good. A violent tremor raced through Steve’s body as he started to orgasm. I didn’t want to end it… not yet.
"OH GOD! ED!" he cried into a pillow to muffle his sounds of ecstasy as he came. It tasted salty and bitter, but I swallowed it anyway.
"Your turn…" mumbled Steve, getting up and walking to the curtain that separated the bunks from the main area. He looked at me and slowly took off his shirt. And the second he dropped his pants, I could swear that my balls were going to explode. I got up and kissed him hard. Now it was my turn to beg.
"Steve… I really need this… I swear…" I whispered in his ear. I wanted to come so much it wasn’t funny. But it surprised me to see that I had such a dirty mind.
"Ok…" he said wandering through the curtain. I didn’t hesitate; I followed immediately. It was darker behind the curtain; I couldn’t see much. Then, to my surprise and delight, he came out from nowhere and pressed me up against the wall, kissing me hard. I was already in my boxers when we started watching the porn, so he wasted no time to slip one hand down my boxers. I almost came right then, but I barely held on. He started stroking me slowly, and kissed me more deeply, then he picked up speed. That did it. I collapsed as a strong orgasm rolled over me and I came. We slid to the floor, breathing hard, a sheen of sweat covered our bodies. I struggled up and opened the window inside my bunk. The cool wind washed over me. It felt so good. My body was tired and I felt weak in the knees; I usually did after something like that. Rubbing my shoulder, I turned around and groped in the darkness looking for my boxers which had miraculously made their way off my body in the events a minute ago. Plopping down next to Steve, I leaned into his body, enjoying the warmth of it in contrast to the cool breeze.
"Why did we do that?" I asked, closing my eyes trying to gather my thoughts.
"I don’t know…" he replied, placing his head on my shoulder. I snuggled closer and he put his arm around me.
"I’m tired…" I muttered. I could sleep where I was but I would be very sore come morning.
"Me too," he replied, getting up while I did. Sighing, I got up and flopped into my bunk and closed the slider. I snuggled under the covers and tried to get comfy. I glared at the window; now it was too cold. I slid it shut and turned to lie on my back. I got a new idea and kicked off my blankets. Attempt number two at trying to pull something logical out of the turmoil that was my mind. Why had Steve and me done that? It was stupid… insane. Tomorrow Nat would call it would be unavoidable. This sucks. I kicked the roof out of frustration. Hey... that took the pain out of it. I kicked it again. It was satisfactory but perhaps I should stop vandalizing my bunk. I gave it one more good kick and stubbed my toe.
"OW!" I cried, whipping up and clutching my injured foot. Then another thing slipped my mind, low ceilings.
"OW! MUTHAFUCKA!" I yelled, lying back down. I heard footsteps approaching my bunk.
"Ed? Are you ok?" asked Steve. Steve… mmmm… Uh oh, mind out of the gutter.
"Low ceilings… go to bed," I muttered while rolling over and pulling the blankets to my waist. I heard a sigh and the sound of clothes hitting the floor, Steve’s clothes… Oh God, I wanted to fuck him.
How exactly did this happen? I mean this is out of hand, you have never felt this way toward him before,I thought, counting the little dots on the roof of the bunk. The slider of Steve’s bunk clicked shut, and I wondered… Does he think these dirty thoughts too? Or am I in the middle of a big joke?
"You think you’ve won…" I muttered to the roof. "It’s not over yet!" and I kicked it again, hitting my stubbed toe.
"Ow…" I grumbled, turning to lay on my side.
What am I doing? I’m fighting with my friggen ceiling… Mental Health is Over-rated! I thought, rolling my eyes and opening the slider to peer across to Steve’s bunk. Soft snoring emitted from within. I opened the slider the rest of the way. No sleep for me tonight! Oh well. I need an aspirin really bad. I dug around in the cupboard for the aspirin. Finding it, I popped three of the tiny pills in my mouth, ignoring the label, and gulped down some water. Now to release my anger… but how? It took me a minute to realize that my grip on the cup was increasing when a thin crack started to form.
"Oops…" I muttered throwing it in the sink. I got up and walked to the couch, flipping on the TV. The porn from earlier appeared.
"Gord Dammit!" I cursed, turning it off. Tapping my foot impatiently, I thought back to the previous events from tonight. Why had that happened?
Maybe it was because you needed someone… and you found Steve... came the reply. That can’t be bad… but what about our friendship? A sudden jolt shot across me, what if I ruined our friendship?
Oh god… I thought, lying down. My last thought was of Steve, strangely, and my dreams were clouded of him.
I woke up the next morning, everything around me a blur of color. Blinking owlishly, I patted the shelf in my bunk for my glasses. I pulled them on; the world around me coming into focus, including Kevin’s bright blue eyes. My reaction? I screamed. His reaction? He screamed. He took off towards the lounging area at a run, not looking back. He must think he pissed me off. I opened the slider and rolled out of bed, knocking all my sheets to the ground. Tapping my foot impatiently, I began to root through my duffel bag for a new pair of jeans and a T-shirt. Pulling them on, I heard the curtains move and Kevin walked inside. He looked at me nervously and braced himself to run. I guess he thought I was mad at him.
"Morning Kev," I said, pulling on my watch. "Why did you do that?"
"Oh, I wanted to know if I could take that movie back before we go. Ed’s asleep and I was checking if you were." Ed… That little word sent a jolt of reality to my head as I remembered the night before. I walked to his bunk and peered inside. No one was there.
"I thought you said he was asleep." I said, looking over at Kevin. He braced himself to run again.
"No, he’s in the lounging area on the couch. I don’t know why, but it may have something to do with the cracked glass in the sink," replied Kevin. That too sent a jolt through me, but this one was a jolt of worry. I ran out into the main area and looked at the glass in the sink. A bottle of pills was spilled on the counter and a glass was in the sink; cracked. I bit my lip and walked over to Ed. Were his problems with Nat so bad it would push him to overdose? I tapped his shoulder. No response. Was he even breathing? I kneeled down and looked at his face… Yes, there was a faint trace of breath on my face. The same breath that had… Ok, mind out of the gutter. Kevin was looking at me in a weird way. Suddenly, I had the desire to shoo him out.
"Kev? Are you taking the movie back?" I asked, feeling very guilty I was practically kicking him out. He looked at me strangely for an explanation.
"Oh… umm, well, Ed was sort of grumpy last night and being an asshole so I suggest you leave before he gets all bitchy at you…" I said. That was lame, but it worked. The keyboardist ran from the bus; porno in hand. I sighed, how to wake him up? He was grinning in his sleep, probably a really nice dream too.
What kind of dream? I thought to myself. MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER HE’S YOUR BEST FRIEND!
"How am I going to do this?" I asked aloud. Blinking, I thought of a perfect idea. Smiling, I leaned forward, brushing a hair away from his face. Should I? Umm is this a good idea? I moved closer, keeping my eyes open slightly to see any reaction. The second I kissed him lightly, Ed gasped and opened his eyes to see what was going on. I slowly pulled my head back. Ed was fully awake and in a daze. His morning hard on was bigger than usual… Not that I look there or anything. He gasped and rolled off the couch. The remote was digging into his bottom. I picked it up off the couch and tossed it onto the floor.
"Is he your friend?" I asked, laughing. He scowled. Then a phone rang. It was to the Zelda tune so it was Ed’s; mine had that Mozart one. He got up and tweaked my cheek grinning like a maniac. I sighed; at least we weren’t going to hate each other for what happened last night. Now I could have a real cigarette. Lighting one, I waited to hear the news about the phone call, and besides, we had to talk. I heard him from the bunk area. His tone was not very pleasant; it must be Natalie on the phone. I walked inside, snuffed out the fresh cigarette and looked at him. I could hear Nat’s voice over the phone.
"ED! Come home NOW!" she yelled. Time to listen to a battle of wills.
"NO! If you want me to come home and go to school, you'd realize that we’d be out of money, and anyways, I LIKE MY JOB!" he yelled, digging his hands into a pillow.
"YOU COME HOME BEFORE YOU COME HOME TO AN EMPTY HOUSE!"
"What?" he asked slowing down, confused.
"I MEAN IT! I’LL LEAVE YOU AND I’LL TAKE THE KIDS!" she yelled back and I could hear her voice with a shake to it, like she was going to cry but I was sure she meant it.
"Nat… I…" and he hung up. Dropping his cell phone to the floor, he slid to his knees sobbing. He never cried like that before. Or any other way, for that matter. I kneeled beside him and rubbed his back. There was nothing I would be able to do… Nothing would make him forget what she said.
"Steve… did you… did you hear what she said?" he choked, leaning into my side. I wrapped one arm around him, but I wasn’t sure it would help much.
"Ed… I’m sure it’ll work out just fine. I bet she’s said things like that before, everyone does. Even Carolyn." I said, trying to calm him down. And thinking about Carolyn was painful, so painful. He opened his mouth to speak but all that came out was a painful whimper.
"Shh…" I said, trying to sound soothing. He sniffed and snuggled up to me and I wrapped my other arm around him. He leaned into me a little more and we sat there for what seemed like hours in silence; save his choked sobs. I was forced to move when I heard the driver come onto the bus. I thought that maybe it would be a little dangerous if she caught me spooning with my best friend. He sniffed as I got up and placed a hand on my shoulder.
"Yea?" I asked turning to look at him.
"Thanks for being here for me Steve, I don’t know what I would’ve done if it had been one of the other guys. Thanks," he said, looking me in the eye.
"No problem, I’m here for you if you need me." He blushed and looked around for some clean clothes. He found a pair of jeans and did the old sniff test. He pulled them on and I walked into the lounging area. Fin was approaching the bus.
"HEY FIN!" I called as he boarded the bus.
"Hey Steve," he replied and climbed on.
"What’s up?" asked Ed, peaking his head out of the curtain.
"Nothing, stopping for a week in the next city. Are the wives coming?" Ed bit his lip and ducked out of the way before any tears rolled down his cheeks.
"No!" I said quickly. It must have been too quickly since Fin narrowed his eyes.
"Oh… you know Carolyn’s job; teaching. And then the two boys have school. Same with Hannah. So they won’t be coming…" I said, hoping that was a good enough excuse.
"But isn’t it spring break?" he asked. Uh-oh, it was. Umm… think fast Steve.
"Oh… really. Well they won’t be coming anyway, Carolyn’s parents are staying at our place!" I invented. Fin does not need to know about the fights, and it would be hard on the kids. Fortunately, this seemed to satisfy him about me. And he turned his head to Ed.
"What about you, Ed?" he called.
"Umm… they’re going to the lake for the week. They aren’t coming," he replied. He was trying hard not to burst out in tears most likely. Fin shrugged and ran off the bus and the driver started it. I walked to the back to find Ed staring at the floor miserably.
"Ed… it’s ok…" I whispered, pulling him into a hug. He returned it and we just sat there for awhile not doing much.
"Steve?" he asked quietly.
"Yes?" I replied, trying to make sense of all that was happening.
"I think I know why we did that…"
"Why do you think?"
"We needed someone to lean on, and we found each other. What might be happening if you were on the different bus? Would this be going on?" he asked, pulling out and looking me in the eyes.
I thought he was absolutely right; no questions asked.
"I think you’re right, Ed. I think you are…" I replied quietly. He leaned
forward and found my lips and it felt like jolts of electricity were coursing
through my veins. We broke it after a minute and just sat there hugging
and looking off into space. I hoped the moment would never die.