Tears dripped off Will’s chin, he didn’t even try to stop them. One year, one long, lonely miserable year and all he had left were the tears. David, his David, the one with the beautiful eyes and ever-present smile, lay beneath his feet, resting forever.
Will ignored the damp, wet dirt soaking the knees of his jeans. What did it matter? There were days he wished he died that night, so they weren’t apart.
“I know it’s been a year, David, but it still hurts, hurts so bad I scream some nights. If you wonder why I don’t come more often, I can’t. My heart hurts so much I want to tear it out just to stop the pain.”
Squeezing his eyes tight didn’t stop the tears; nothing would. Unbidden, memories of David flashed into focus. Another thing he couldn’t stop. Not now, not here, not today. They consumed him.
“Something happened to me after you died, something I don’t understand. You would’ve figured it out. Fixing screwed-up heads was your field, not mine.”
That used to be their private joke. Once it made him laugh, now he only cried harder. “I heard when you called to me, asking for justice, and I felt you when you finally felt at peace. Pretty screwed up, isn’t it?”
There was more, a lot more, but it wasn’t why he came today. Digging into his coat pocket, he pulled out the gold ring. He turned it over examining it from all angles. It was his last link to David, but keeping it was worse.
“There’s so much I want to say, things I wanted us to do together that we can’t. I hate, David, hate like I never did before. I hate that you’re gone, hate those who did this to you, hate this fucking ring, and hate myself for buying it for you.”
Giving David the ring for Christmas was supposed to be a sign they’d be together forever. Not a wedding band, gays would never be allowed to marry, but it was something Will knew David would like; and he did.
“Seeing your face light up when you saw this, how could I know it would hurt us both so much?” Suppressing the urge to throw the ring as far as he could, he put it on the head stone, staring at it for a time.
The small boxwood near his knee reminded him what he came to do. Pressing his fingers into the moist earth, he slowly pulled the dirt away, mounding it on either side. Satisfied it was deep enough, he retrieved the ring.
Even in his dirt-covered hands, it sparkled. So like David. Reading the inscription, ‘Always’ he shook his head. He meant it to mean they’d always be together, not they’d always be apart. As much as he hated it, now that it was time to leave the ring, he wondered if he should.
“David, I know you’d want me to have this, but I’m not the Will you fell in love with anymore. There’s this thing in me that makes me find people’s killers and I do it. I can’t help it. It’s how I found your killers.”
Even now It called to him, demanding he do what it wanted. Soon he’d go, but nothing would make him miss today. Finding a clean part of the back of his hand, he wiped away the tears. His head jerked slightly, and he found it hard to swallow. Keep going. Tell him.
“Anyway, I can’t keep this anymore. It feels wrong, because I know you’d never approve of what I’ve become.”
Breathing became difficult between the sobs. He killed David and ruined his own life in the process. Twice he tried to stop crying, but each time he saw David’s name engraved on the headstone, he broke down again. Ignoring the dirt, he tried to clear his eyes.
“I just want you back.” His words came out a scream, disturbing the crowd of after-church visitors. Like everything else, today he didn’t care.
Numb, he turned his hand over and released the ring. It rolled to the bottom of the hole, and seemed to wink at him as a ray of sunlight broke through the clouds. The next instant the light was gone. He waited, staring at the ring, hoping David might speak through it again, but knew it wouldn’t happen. That glittering moment had been David saying, hello and goodbye; his final goodbye.
It took several deep breaths to steady him. He ran his hand along the root ball, helping the roots break free. David always talked about having a house with a boxwood garden. Now he’d have one watching over him.
Tamping the dirt firm around the plant, he sat back staring at the small boxwood and the marker. Maybe one of them would find peace now.
The pull to act tugged like an insistent child. Clenching his teeth and grinding them, he growled, “Not yet!”
People stared. Couldn’t they leave him alone? Maybe grieve for their own lost loved ones?
Running his hand over the smooth white marble, he flicked at the dirt he’d smudged over it. Why bother? No one came to see it but him. David’s family wouldn’t even buy a headstone to mark where their only son rested.
“I didn’t leave them out, David. They didn’t deserve it, but I listed them.”
The stone was so cold, but he traced every line over and over. When he felt the first drop of rain, he dropped his hand to his side. A wave of umbrellas preceded the exodus of ‘mourners’ until only he was left. A daft fool, sitting in the rain beside the boy who wasn’t coming back.
The rain hardened when he stood up. His tears mixed with the drops, leaving rivulets running down his face. Bending slowly, he kissed the top of the stone. “I love you, David.”
The pull intensified, and he checked his watch. Over a day since he first felt it. Too bad. David wouldn’t have understood if he missed today.
Soaked, he adjusted the shirt plastered to his body and pushed his hair back. Time to go. Maybe this time he’d die. The plot next to David was bought and ready for his use. Soon. He couldn’t take much more of this.
Will turned for a last look.David Anthony Bruno April 7, 1945 – September 12, 1970 Son, Brother, Best Friend We’ll miss you forever.