They always do it in the church parking lot. Ricky is angry at God, and Sam is a great lover of irony. They think they're in love – or, at least, Ricky does. Sam is more interested in simply exploring this specific type of body ever since he noticed he had a rather unusual habit in the locker room, but he feels an odd sort of affection for Ricky that he doesn't have for anyone else. He equates that with love.
Tonight they go at it with greater fervour than normal. The car rocks slightly when Sam's left leg accidentally hits the door; even though they have a routine now, neither of them are particularly small boys and the backseat was less than ideal. But Ricky wants it that way and Sam isn't about to say no.
In approximately nine hours Sam is leaving for a university in Texas. He got a basketball scholarship that his parents weren't going to let him pass up. Ricky is trying not to think about it by urging Sam to go deeper, faster, trying to block out everything except the pleasure-pain of sex.
It is almost working.
Ricky knows that saying goodbye to Sam is going to crush him. He knows he's going to spend the next two days on his bed, staring listlessly up at the ceiling, just as he knows that Sam would be angry at him if he tried to follow Sam to Texas. He had mentioned the possibility, once, and been brushed off with a laugh and a little wave of the hand. Don't be stupid, Sam had said, you don't want to do that. Oh yes I do, Ricky had replied in his head. But now I know you don't want me to.
Sam isn't thinking any such complex thoughts at the moment. In fact, he's doing very little thinking at all. He's not thinking about all the little things he's going to miss – Ricky's smirk, his knobby knees, the taste of his sweat – although he will on the long cross-country drive. He'll start to think about calling Ricky when he gets settled in, just to see how he's doing. But he'll forget just as quickly.
When they finish and redress, Ricky takes extra care to place the used condoms right at the entranceway to the church. Sam smiles at this little ritual; it's Ricky's way of giving God the finger.
The drive back to Ricky's sleepy suburb is quiet and the air is filled with something. Ricky would call it apprehension, but Sam thinks it's tension. He's not looking forward to any long, drawn-out goodbyes. He doesn't want to see Ricky cry. It hasn't happened yet, but Sam is ninety-nine percent sure it's going to.
He's wrong. Ricky doesn't say anything when he gets out of the car, just flashes a queer little smile and waves his hand. Sam watches him leave in surprise, but glad that he neatly avoided a scene.
Ricky doesn't believe in crying, not anymore. He hasn't done it since he was nine and his mother died. Suck it up, his father had told him, take it like a man. Don't give God the satisfaction of seeing you cry. Let that bastard know that He can't hurt you. What Ricky doesn't know now is that all nine years of his pent-up tears are going to come crashing down, smothering him, in another two years. He's going to try to kill himself. Just like his mother.
Sam drives away, contemplating driving around the rest of the night, saying goodbye to all the old haunts, or simply going home and sleeping. He's leaning toward the former because he doesn't think that he's ever going to come back. He's wrong again, but he's excited for Texas. He always wanted to be a cowboy.
Tonight is not the last time Sam and Ricky ever see each other, but it's the last time they ever talk. Sam will eventually give into his parents' pressure and marry a girl. Marie is a tall stick of a woman, more angles than curves, and she always laughs at Sam's jokes. Sam likes her as a friend. Her sharp body makes it easier for him to get it up during sex.
Ricky will go through a string of lovers. Each subsequent unsuccessful relationship will push him closer to the brink, before he finally snaps and tries to hang himself. It's painful; his neck doesn't break like he hoped it would, and he slowly strangles himself to death. His frantic movements will alert his neighbour to his actions and she will enter through his unlocked door. When he gets counselling at the local clinic, he'll meet Matt. Matt won't want to get in a relationship with one of his patients, but Ricky will eventually wear him down.
Years later, Sam takes Marie back home on a holiday. They go to the fanciest Italian restaurant downtown, because Sam likes to flaunt his money. Ricky and Matt are also there, enjoying a night on the town and getting in a little quality time away from the stress of their jobs. Sam and Ricky's eyes accidentally meet across the crowded room. Sam is surprised to see how much Ricky's appearance has changed. Ricky is not surprised to see Sam with his hand in a woman's.
The eye contact lasts for somewhere between two and three seconds. Then they both look away, and nothing more needs to be said.
Started/completed: 20 December 2004