It had been months since Kyle had seen Alex since that passionate night on the hammock. The situation was just too real...too awkward. And, in the thick of all of it, he panicked. Everything that he knew was so black and white beforehand...and now, now there was only grey.
He sat alone in the bar that had become his sanctuary since that night. Ritualistically, he sat at the same table, ordered the same Crown and Coke and lamented. But, what he was lamenting was up for debate. He had cut off Vanessa's parents, wouldn't respond to phone calls or e-mails from them and on one occasion sat in silence as Linda-Vanessa's mother-begged for him to answer the door late one evening.
He sat alone in that bar, aimlessly fiddling with his cocktail napkin and staring at pictures of Vanessa he had on his cell phone. "God, I miss you..." he would whisper, holding back the tears of what could have been. And, then he would think of Alex. For so long after Vanessa had died, Alex had been there in every shape, form and fashion. And, in a moment of lust and passion, Kyle had capitalized on that...and, then he left him.
Alex tried calling and texting constantly after that night, but after a while, there was only silence. Kyle died a little more everyday being apart from his best friend, his brother. And, the worst of it all was that in that moment, when he had looked into those familiar blue eyes, he had felt something so distant from his past that he couldn't quite pin it down. After months of liquor, soul searching and tears, he knew exactly what that "something" was now...he truly loved him.
But, he was straight. And, he loved his wife. These were complications that would not easily be overcome. Not to mention, Kyle was in unfamiliar territory. He wasn't sure how he felt about being with a guy, or thinking of himself as gay. Yes, yes, it felt good...it felt right even. But, things were not so cut and dry in his world. "What would her parents think? What would the firm think?" Kyle had asked. He knew he was not ready for this.
So, like so many nights before, he sat in silence, heavily intoxicated and pondered over his grief and uncertainty. People would pass by and smile; he would smile weakly in return. Laughter and boisterousness filled the bar...but, for him in that dark corner, life-it seemed-was over
Alex drove to the lake most nights to think. A lot had changed over the last few months. He had decided against law school and had begun pursuing his love of music. After all, that was the original dream. So, like so many times before, he would come to the lake with a notepad and guitar and write...and, there were so many things to think over.
He had come out to his parents, much to their surprise but nevertheless maintaining their love and support. He had been on a few dates, nothing serious. And, he had gone to see Vanessa, just to talk. And, as the moonlight washed over the cold head stone, he tried to explain what had happened...to come to terms with it. But, he couldn't. He missed her so much; she would have known what to say.
He sat in the car for a moment before gathering his things and walking out to the familiar rock that jutted out into the water surrounded by the cold, night air. The lake's surface was like glass, and the moon danced upon the water invitingly. He sighed...and, he thought of Kyle. He had tried desperately to reach Kyle, to see what had happened, to figure out where he went wrong. He loved him so much. And, though he understood the weirdness of the situation, he couldn't grasp the concept of abandonment. It infuriated him.
For so long, Alex had been there in Kyle's time of need. "Where is he when I need him?" Alex often asked. It was unbearable at times. His heart never really worked right with Kyle gone. It was almost as if death had taken him too. Alex wept silently.
Kyle drove out to the lake after leaving the bar. It had been years since he'd been...not since his wedding day. But, on this cold night, he couldn't handle going back to the tomb of a house he called home. His mind kept wandering back to that night: the kiss, the passion, the mind-shattering orgasm...the love. He would never forgive himself for abandoning his best friend in such a way.
He often thought of calling Alex or finding a way to haphazardly run in to him somewhere, but he was sure that Alex had moved on when he stopped calling and texting. "Can you blame him, you dumb fuck?" Kyle thought. "This guy made you his world and gave the most precious gift any human can give another. And, what did you do? I wouldn't fucking talk to you either!" Tears rolled down his face, but that was nothing new. If he wasn't crying over his late wife he was crying over his lost love, it seemed.
It was misty out as he drove deeper into the country. When he'd reached the turn off on the lake, he could barely see fifty feet in front of him. However, as he pulled into the gravel lot, the sky cleared revealing a perfect oasis. The water looked calm, the stars shown brightly, and the moonlight bathed the rocks that stretched out into the water...the very place that he and Vanessa had stood reciting their vows. It was picturesque. The only flaw was that someone was already there on the rocks, but he hoped they wouldn't mind him venturing out there, just for old time's sake.
Alex was mindlessly strumming the guitar, occasionally brushing the tears away as he journeyed from song to song. Every so often, he'd stop and write a lyric down that he liked and admire the gorgeous stars that shown brightly above. He watched as his breath escaped him and created a unique cloud every time. He rubbed his hands together to keep them warm as the chill of the night set in him. But, he didn't care.
As he began strumming again, a song came to mind that he hadn't sang in some time. As he placated the chords, remembered the progressions and strumming pattern, rehearsing the lyrics in his head, he prepared himself to play. In that moment, he heard a car driving up the gravel road causing him to turn and see the headlights approaching. "Fuck," he thought. "Well, I'm not going anywhere, so they can just deal with it."
He again prepared to sing. As he began strumming, he heard the car door slam in the distance, but he continued anyway alternating from the G chord to E-minor of the renowned Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". As he continued to sway to the alternating chords, he remembered the day he played this song last...not far from where he sat.
Just off to the side of this very rock where he sat, he had played this song at Kyle's request as Vanessa approached him in her gown of white. It brought a tear to his eye as he recalled her beaming smile when she passed by him and Kyle grinning and winking at Alex as he played. That was the day that Kyle told Alex that he loved him for the very first time in a hug after the wedding. It was such a beautiful time...and, that hug...for Alex, time had stood still.
He gathered himself, taking a slight breath as he began to sing,
"I've heard there was a secret chord...
That David played, and it pleased the Lord.
But you don't really care for music...do ya?
It goes like this,
The fourth, the fifth,
The minor fall, the major lift.
The baffled king composing...Hallelujah!
He sang, softly and sweetly...and, he muffled the tears.
Kyle had begun walking down to the rocks when he flashed back to that beautiful day. How she looked. The crowd that stood and watched. The flowers and doves. And, even the song that was played as she walked to the alter where he had stood. They had decided to not use the "Wedding March" and find something a little more unique. So, about a week before the wedding, while at her parents' home planning, he'd gone to the rest room and had walked by Alex's room.
Alex sat there playing on his guitar, expertly picking the strings and singing "Hallelujah!" Kyle stood in the shadow and listened to him play and sing and choked back tears at such a beautiful rendition. It was mesmerizing. And, to top it off, his voice was unparallel to anything he'd heard with qualities and tones that referenced John Mayer and Ed Sheeran. It was amazing. So, obviously after hearing such a piece, Kyle had been very enthusiastic about including Alex in the service. And, of course, Vanessa was very much on board when it came to including her kid brother.
As he continued down the path, a musical phantom lurked in the wilderness as he began hearing the oddly familiar G and E-minor chords. His throat tightened up as his eyes blurred with tears. The pain cut like a knife, right to his soul as the lyrics of the song flooded his memory. Just as if it were yesterday, he could hear Alex singing those poignant words. The pain was just too much.
"Baby...I have been here before
I know this room,
I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya.
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah
Alex continued to sing sweetly, reliving every moment he had had with Kyle. Every wrestle match, every drink, every football game and concert. There wasn't a part of his life that existed without Kyle in it. And, though the turmoil was almost too much to bear, he knew he would never change it for the world. His voice cracked as he continued to sing.
"There was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show it to me...do ya?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was...Hallelujah
Kyle continued his journey to the rock, barely able to catch his breath for sobbing. But, as he approached, not even fifty yards away, sat someone swaying, as if hearing the song he heard in his mind. His heart ached as the lyrics continued...
"Maybe there's a God above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew ya
It's not a cry you can hear at night
It's not somebody who has seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah
Now just twenty yards away, the silhouette had a familiar feature...beautiful blonde locks. It was at that moment that he realized that it was Alex, there in the flesh, singing before him. He stood still, unsure of what to do. His heart, his mind, his body and soul ached for Alex. God knows he had tried to deny it. But, somewhere, somehow, someway...this man had fallen in love with Alex, in every form of the word. "I have to go to him," Kyle thought as he continued toward his love.
Alex's voice began to rise with strength and grandeur with the last stanza...it was the one that meant the most to him. He remembered, "The verse that Kyle winked at me on." And, it was fitting for what had happened. He didn't know what went wrong. And, even if he couldn't be with Kyle in that way ever again, he knew he'd give his last breath to have his friend and brother back.
"I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool ya.
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
Alex's voice kept getting stronger, pushing through the tears, soaring with his soul as he called out with his heart for Kyle.
Tears rolled down his face as he looked at the shimmering moon on the still water...
The thought of that night, the feeling of passion...but more so, the feeling of the love between them...and the emptiness without it...Alex began to weep.
He slowed him strumming down as he muttered the last of the song a capella .
Alex lowered his head in despair.
"Alex?" Kyle whispered. Alex began to wipe his face as he turned. There he was.
"Kyle...what are you doing here?" Alex struggled to ask through the muck of his tears.
"I just came out here to think...I heard you sing my song. It," Kyle's throat tightened. "It was beautiful, Alex." He looked down at his shoes, unsure how to begin, what to say or how to say it.
"Thank you," Alex muttered as he continued to choke back the sobs welling up inside. "I, uh...you look, uh...you look terrible."
"I feel terrible. Alex, I'm," Kyle was straining again to speak. "I'm so sorry about what I did to you. I ran away from the problem instead of facing it."
"Oh, so I'm a problem?" Alex asked furtively.
"No, never...but, Alex, I ran away from you, from that night, from who we were as friends and brothers...because I didn't wanna face the cold hard truth." Kyle pulled a pack of cigarettes from his pocket and lit one taking a nervously long drag.
"When did you start smoking?" Alex questioned.
"Since this happened." Kyle mumbled.
"Those things will kill ya, ya know?" Alex said, smiling weakly trying to break the ice.
"They might...but, you know what will kill me? Living without you..." As Kyle spoke those words, a single tear cascaded down his cheek. Alex couldn't run fast enough to him and through his arms around him. In a locked embraced they both cried, not letting go for dear life. "You mean the world to me, Alex. You're all I've got. I don't wanna loose you," Kyle stammered in muffled sounds as his face buried into Alex's shoulder.
Alex stroked Kyle's hair, lovingly kissing the side of his head. "Kyle, my heart's been calling for you...begging to come back home to your arms. I'm not going anywhere." He pulled back and looked into Kyle's emerald eyes. "If you want me, I am here...let me keep you."
Kyle adoringly looked into those blue eyes that saw deep into his soul and leaned into him for a kiss. As they stood on that rock, surrounded by the crisp night sky, each of them knew that without the other they would never be whole again.