Sitting at his desk grading papers Kyle's eyes wandered to a photo of the beach at night with the moon reflecting off the water that Jay had taken. His mind wandered back to when Jay had an exhibit at the art gallery,
"Come this way." As Karl led them though the gallery, the boys could not believe what they were seeing. All of Jay's photographs were beautifully framed and hung on the walls with great deliberation as to their location. Jay could not believe his snapshots, as he called them, were actually on display and people were not only going to pay to see them, but perhaps even buy them. The thought was mindboggling. "Here's the program." He handed them each a folded pamphlet.
'Provincetown, A Pictorial Essay by Jayson Williams' was printed in an elegant script on the front. Inside, there was a picture of Jayson and a short biography, along with a list of his photographs and a sale price. Jay's eyes bulged out of their sockets as he saw the pricings. There wasn't a single one under seven hundred-fifty dollars. "Karl, these prices have been printed wrong. The cheapest photograph is seven hundred-fifty dollars. It should be seven dollars and fifty cents."
"No, the prices are printed correctly. If anything, they're priced a little on the low side."
Kyle spoke up before Jay could. "You're kidding right?"
"No, I'm not."
"Nobody would pay that kind of money for a snapshot from a rank amateur." Jay replied in a self-effacing way.
"You'd be surprised. Actually, there are a couple of photographs I'm considering for my home."
Jay shot a stunned look at Kyle, who returned an equally stunned look.
A disembodied voice spoke up. "The gallery will be opening in two minutes."
"This is it. Are you ready?" Karl asked the obviously nervous Jay.
"No, but let's do it."
The first people through the door were, not surprisingly, Tommy, Andy and Bryan. Kim was on duty at the hospital and would join them later. Champagne and hors d'oeuvres were passed as a ton of people, in Jay's estimate, wandered through the exhibit, several stopping to talk with Jay about the photographs, several of them asking questions Jay could only respond to with "It just caught my eye, so I took a picture of it."
Kyle stood by his side, the unmistakable look of extreme pride and love battling for supremacy over his face. After a couple of hours, he excused himself and started wandering through the exhibit when a photograph he hadn't seen before caught his eye. He took a closer look then groaned when he recognized the subject of the photo. It was one of his paintings. As he stared at the photo in disbelief, a museum employee walked up to the photograph and placed a 'SOLD' tag on it. "Excuse me, Miss. This photograph has been sold?"
"Can you tell me how much it went for?"
"It went for twenty-seven hundred dollars, sir."
"Thank you, Miss." He excused himself and sought out Jay, only to find him talking with Karl, the curator.
"Hey baby. So how do you like the exhibit?"
"It's awesomely awesome, but I have one question. When did you take a picture of my waterfall painting, and how come I never saw it?"
"I took it the day you gave it to Kim and Bryan. I was just curious to see how a picture of a painting would turn out. I didn't know it was in the stack of pictures for the exhibit. I didn't check it, nor did I check the enlargements. I'm so sorry baby. I never would have included it without your permission. You know that."
"Jay, I'm not upset. It just took me by surprise. Normally you show me all of your pictures. Did you know you just made twenty-seven hundred dollars off of it?"
"You're kidding, right?"
"No. I wouldn't kid about something like this. Congratulations." He said, sincerely. "I thought you were only joking about people buying them. So, how does it feel to have made a big chunk of change?"
"I don't know. It hasn't happened yet."
"Ah, baby, it just did. I'm not kidding. Come see for yourself." He took Jay by the hand and led him to the photograph. Jay's eyes popped out of his skull when he saw the 'SOLD' tag. A few moments later, the assistant curator approached Jay and handed him a check.
"Here you go, Jayson. Congratulations on your first sale."
He was so proud of Jay that day, especially when it ended with him being hired on as a photographer with a major magazine. Photography was something Jay was passionate about. He also remembered when he had the attic renovated into a photography studio as a Christmas present for Jay. Christmas. Christmas with Jay. Dangerous area. Need to think about something else.
A few days later…
"Murphy's Mortuary, you stab 'em, we slab 'em." Andy answered his cell phone.
"You're very funny." Kyle responded, sarcastically.
"What's up?" Andy asked.
I've decided to go see Jay. I talked with Dr. Curtis and he's off the critical list. I'm just not sure what to say to him." Kyle responded.
"Well, how about starting out with 'I love you' and follow up with 'I want to try to work things out'."
"That's the thing. I'm not sure I want to. I mean, I'm still in love with him, but that's just not enough anymore. I can't trust him and that hurts. Trust was a major part of our relationship."
"What if he was forced into it against his will? You know, raped at gun- or knife-point?"
"I hadn't considered that. But then again, I didn't see any gun or knife when I walked in on them, nor did I find one when I was moving his things out into the garage."
"Think about it, Kyle. Jay's a top. Why would he willingly bottom for a perfect stranger but not you?"
"Hmmm, you're right, he wouldn't, but that doesn't change the fact that he did, and he wasn't putting up a fight. You know how strong he is. With his FBI training, he should have been able to overpower his attacker."
"I have to agree with you on that point, but there's got to be more to it than the obvious." Andy admitted, reluctantly.
"What more could there be?" Kyle asked, puzzled.
"I'm afraid only Jay can answer that question."
"You know, the more I think about it, the less I want to see him or ever talk to him again."
"I can understand you feel that way, Kyle, but what if I'm right? If he didn't do it willingly, and you never gave him the chance to prove himself you'd regret it for the rest of your life. You owe it to the both of you to find out exactly what happened."
"And if I find out he did do it willingly?"
"Then he's out of your life for good. But you need to find out for sure."
"You're right, as usual. I'll go listen to what he has to say then I'll let you guys know. Would you guys like to come over for dinner later? I have a feeling I'll need some company."
"Sure. We'd love to."
"Is pizza okay?"
"It's fine with us. What time?"
"I have to stop by the art gallery and pick up a check. Another painting got sold today, and they want me to bring over about ten more. How about seven o'clock?"
"We'll see you around seven. Talk to you later, Bro."
"Thanks for listening and giving me the kick in the ass I needed."
"Not a problem. Later."
"Excuse me, Nurse. Could you please tell me what room Jayson Williams is in?" Kyle asked.
The nurse consulted her chart for a moment. "I'm sorry, but Mr. Williams is on the restricted visitation list. May I have your name please?"
"Matthews… Matthews… ah yes, here you are. Kyle Matthews. May I see some identification please?"
Kyle took out his wallet and handed her his driver's license.
The nurse examined the license carefully then looked sharply at Kyle before handing the license back to him "Thank you Mr. Matthews. He's down the hall, next to the last room on the left." She reached over and clipped a special visitor's badge to his shirt collar.
"Thank you, Nurse." He walked down the hall, checking names on the doors. He stood outside Jay's room for what seemed like an eternity before knocking on the closed door, showing his visitor's badge to the guard stationed there.
His heart sank as a very weak "Come in" answered his knock. He slowly opened the door and walked in, only to be stopped dead in his tracks at the sight of his now ex-boyfriend, restrained, bandaged and bruised with all kinds of wires and tubes coming out of various openings in Jay's hospital pajamas. Tears built up in his eyes and threatened to overflow. Jay looked up, saw Kyle standing there then looked away in shame.
"I brought you your favorite plant."
"Thanks." Jay replied quietly.
"How are you feeling? Are you up to talking?"
"Taking about what?"
"About what happened two weeks ago?" Kyle said, placing the plant on the window sill before carefully sitting on the edge of the bed.
"What's there to talk about? You walked in on me getting fucked in the ass and threw me out without even giving me the chance to explain, end of story." Jay responded belligerently.
"Okay. But at least tell me one thing."
"Why? Why'd you do it? Wasn't I good enough for you anymore? Am I too old, fat or ugly? Why, Jayson?" The tears came.
It broke Jay's heart to see Kyle crying. What was worse was, because of the restraints, he couldn't hold him. All he could was reach up and brush away the tears.
"God no, Kyle, you're the most wonderful, sexy, gorgeous man I ever laid eyes on. I love you so much it hurts."
The tears were quickly replaced by anger. "Then why did you do it, Jayson Edward Williams? How long have you been getting fucked by that guy? Was it a few days, a couple of weeks, Several months? How long, Jayson? And how many other guys where there?" He shouted.
Jay shrank back from the blast of anger hurled in his direction. He started to cry. "It was only that one time, and I didn't have any choice. I was forced to do it. There were no other guys." He said, sincerely.
"Like hell you didn't have a choice! There was no gun to your head or knife at your throat. You didn't even put up a struggle. You were just lying there with his dick in your ass."
Jay then told Kyle all about being seen kissing him, the email message and the phone call.
"And you honestly expect me to believe that crock of bullshit, Mr. Hotshot FBI Agent?"
"It's the truth, Kyle." Jay pleaded. "I've never lied to you about anything. Shit, I can't even keep a secret as simple as a Christmas present from you."
"Yeah, whatever, I'm obviously wasting my time." He got up and headed towards the door. "All of your stuff is in the garage whenever you want to come and pick it up." He stormed out, leaving Jay in tears.
He stormed to the elevator and punched the button angrily. Unbelievable. He actually expected me to believe that crock of shit. But yet in the five years we've been together, not once did he lie to me. Not even a white lie. But yet again, even if he was telling the truth about the email and the phone call, it's highly unlikely an FBI field agent would submit to such coercion.
That evening over pizza he told Tommy and Andy what Jay had said. "I want to believe him. I really do, but it's so far-fetched."
"Is it really that far-fetched? Think about it, Kyle. Jay worships the ground you walk on, and he'd do anything, even die, to protect you. You know that." Andy said softly.
"Yeah, I know. I just wish I could believe him."
"He's never lied to you. He can't even keep a secret from you. Why do you think he always waits until Christmas Eve or the day of your birthday to pick out your presents?" Tommy said as he cleared the table in preparation to play Killer Bunnies.
"True, but what kind of FBI agent would submit to that kind of coercion?"
"The closeted kind who is scared about the safety of his secret gay boyfriend and would do anything to protect him. I wish there was something I could to do help."
"You're doing it, believe me.
After about an hour, Kyle said "I'm sorry guys. I just can't seem to concentrate on the game."
"That's okay, bro. We'll help you finish cleaning up then call it a night. Get some rest and try not to think about it too much. You'll drive yourself nuts."
A few minutes later, Kyle was alone. Not finding anything of interest to watch on TV, he gave up and went to bed.