The poetry in writing is the illusion it creates.
(© 2017 by the author)
The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's
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As told by B.B. Daniels
I had just crossed 14th street where Park Avenue turns into Broadway when I saw him sitting on the stairs in Union Park Square. I was in a hurry for an appointment but slowed my pace as I approached and passed him. He was so beautiful I walked around and approached him again to get a better look. He was reading a book, or so I thought and seemed oblivious to everything around him including me. But then I noticed the book he was holding was upside down. I almost laughed when I wondered what he was up to. I was going to be late so I hurried on.
I usually ignore everyone I pass when I’m out and about which is the norm for New Yorkers. It’s the only way of maintaining privacy in the hustle and bustle of city life. But there was something about this man, besides being beautiful. I couldn’t imagine what it was. I felt a twinge of regret at not having the time to find out.
My appointment was with my dentist of all people, Kyle Chock, a Chinese-American, one of those gentle creatures God permits to live among us barbarians. I had been a patient of his for over fifteen years and never once felt the injections he administered regularly before he began his carpentry genius on my smile. Today he was installing two crowns that had arrived from the lab. A gold one and a white one – No. 5 in color. He asked why I wanted the gold one as it would show when I smiled. I told him I wanted to glitter a little. And besides, I had a gold one on the corresponding tooth on the other side. I wanted them to match.
There was always a good deal of laughter in his office which I appreciated. They were a happy group and made me feel part of their family which I thought very important. I’m a novelist and always made sure they received multiple copies of my latest contribution to the world of literature.
An hour later I was good to go, paid my bill, and grinned for two blocks, making sure I glittered at everyone I passed. I’m sure they thought I was nuts.
As I came through the park on my way to my apartment, I paused and then stopped. There he was, still sitting on the stairs, reading. Well, he had the book open. I wondered if he had turned it around. Since I had nothing better to do, I sat nearby and observed my Adonis. I say my Adonis because he was mine whether he liked it or not at least for the moment.
He did look up once and caught me looking at him, or was I staring? I looked away so quickly I almost got whiplash. A knee jerk reaction and a dead giveaway that I was stalking him. I should have smiled and glittered at him.
The thought of approaching him occurred to me but I changed my mind when the memory of a high school event came back with a vengeance, bearing unbelievable clouds of gloom and doom.
I was attracted to an upperclassman or woman, whose name was Gloria, a beautiful girl. The Autumn Dance was approaching. I asked my buddies if I should ask her to the dance. They said absolutely not. She probably already had a date. And besides, I wasn’t one of the macho athletes on the football team who were probably sniffing around for a date. I was an underclassman and not worthy of being noticed let alone considered as a date on such an occasion.
Their discouragement only encouraged me to the point where I decided to ask anyway. What was the worst thing that could happen? She would probably smile, thank me, and decline the invitation, but she would be aware of me. That alone would be worth the effort. It turned out to be one of the most devastating and demeaning moments of my young life, etched in my memory for all time.
With my buddies in the background, I approached her in the cafeteria during the lunch hour. She was sitting with her girlfriends chattering away as girls do. I walked up to her table and looked at her. Her friends noticed me first. They stopped chatting and looked at me with obvious disdain. I should have left, but waited until she turned and looked at me with that beautiful face of hers. I smiled and then asked if she would go to the Autumn Dance with me, and held my breath. Her answer was short and quick, “Get away from me, loser.” She and her friends began to laugh as I crept away, crushed and heartbroken at her cruelty. It took me days to recover. I felt so humiliated, I avoided her in the school hallways.
I gazed upon my Adonis and did not want that same scenario to happen again or anything close to it. I would have to worship him from a distance, a safe distance provided I ever saw him again after today which wasn’t likely especially in a large city.
The day was waning so I decided to give up my quest for love and everlasting happiness and go to my apartment. But, before I walked out of my day dream, I would pass by my chosen one once more and glitter at him when he looked up. I approached and passed him without my hoped-for reaction — he didn’t look up and his book was right side up this time. He didn’t even stir as I passed.
I crossed 14th Street, crestfallen. When I reached the other side, I paused and hesitantly looked back. He was gone. I looked in all directions hoping to catch a glimpse of him before he vanished from my life, but he wasn’t there. A wave of melancholy washed over me as my foolish heart sank down into my shoes. I should have spoken to him. Did I let love slip away – again?
When I turned around, my jaw dropped. He was standing in front of me, smiling.
“Hi,” he grinned.
The tone of his voice was so beautiful, my heart jumped out of my shoes and into my throat as I struggled to respond. I finally managed a ‘Hi’ that only Stupid Huey could have uttered, and waited for him to run for the hills.
“I’m … I’m ...”
“Are you all right?”
Out of the sheer joy of standing in front of my Max, I laughed, “Yes. I’m all right. I don’t get out much these days.”
“From the State Home.”
“For the Bewildered,” I was smiling so big, he had to see the glitter.”
He laughed at my misplaced humor, “How would you like to go somewhere and have a coffee?”
He looked deadpan at me, “Yes, of course, with me,” and broke into his beautiful smile again. His teeth were like a row of pearls and no glitter.
“Ok,” as I tried to gain control of my knocking knees.
“Well, follow me, I know just the place.”
“I would love to follow you.” I made sure my tongue was secure inside my mouth and could only hope I wasn’t drooling.
He looked at me and we both laughed out loud.
“You’re what?” he kept smiling. Thank God he had a sense of humor.
“Certifiably or just run of the mill?”
He knew how to play. Thank you, God. “Borderline.”
He gently bumped up against me several times as we walked. By the time we got to the DunkIt Coffee Shop and sat down, I had such an erection I was having difficulty walking.
While we were having coffee and a Danish, he smiled, “Would you like to come up to my place? I’m just around the corner.”
“Do I have to keep my hands to myself?”
“No. I’d prefer that you didn't”
I figured I may as well push the envelope as far as possible, “Well, sure. I’d love to. I already have an erection. May as well not let that go to waste.”
He would have spit his coffee all over the table and me if it weren’t for a napkin he happened to be holding. He had difficulty speaking through his laughter, “Ok, let’s go. Hey, you never did tell me your name?”
“B.B. Daniels?” He stopped and looked sideways at me. “Is that bb as in bb gun or bb as in something else?”
“B.B. as in something else.”
“Are you going to tell me?”
“Okay. B.B. it is.”
“By the way, I’m not a slut. I want you to know that up front.”
“That’s ok, I believe you.”
I hesitated and then cautiously, “Are you?”
“No. I’ve been celibate for 10 years. I used to be a priest.”
“Yes,” he smiled sadly.
“So, you’ve not been with anyone?”
He shook his head. “Just my hand.”
“Oh, my God,” I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk. “Maybe this isn’t a good idea.”
“I don’t know. Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I saw you earlier when you came across the street. I hoped you would stop and say something but you didn’t.”
“Your book was upside down.”
“I was cruising and didn’t notice the book. I saw you circle around. Then later, when you came back and watched me, I knew I wanted to meet you. No, that’s not entirely true.”
“I just plain wanted you.”
“Oh,” now it was throbbing.
“When you passed by on your way out, I almost said something but you didn’t wait long enough so I followed you. And just so you know, I have an erection also. Come on, let’s go.”
I didn’t say a word, I just followed him while my mind whirled around the possibilities in being with this beautiful man, while I tried to ignore the wet, sticky feeling in my underwear.
When I was ready to leave his apartment, I hesitated in his foyer.
Max looked at me, “What?”
I said nothing. I just looked into his beautiful hazel green eyes.
Finally, he grinned, “Again?”
I nodded. He took my hand and led me back to the bedroom.
“You know, you can stay the night if you like. What do ya think?”
I smiled, “Yeah, I’d like to.”
His cat, Prissy, snuggled up against me.
I finally figured out it was his goodness that I sensed the first time I saw him. But there was more I would discover later. I stayed Friday night, then Saturday night, and Sunday night. By Monday morning I was convinced of his goodness and even though he was no longer a priest, he was still a man of God. He knew who he was and it showed.
He was such a perfect fit in every way. I had to force myself to leave. During the whole of that day, the temptation to phone him danced in my head. But, I wanted to give him space to think. So, I masterfully resisted.
As twilight faded, I walked out of the apartment house. I wanted to be with Max but was afraid of being overbearing. He knew where I lived and had my phone number. I was going to leave it to him to make the next move. I wandered aimlessly, reliving every moment I had spent with this dear man, trying to find a fault with him without success. He was perfect and I was not. I decided he deserved better than me and I should leave him alone.
I came to the corner of 14th and was about to cross the street to the park where I had first seen him when I saw someone that looked like him with someone else — another man. I backed up against the building and just stood there panicking, hoping that what I was seeing wasn’t true. Maybe it wasn’t him after all, but someone who resembled him, and who was the other man? When they got up and stood together under the lamp light, I knew it was him. When they embraced and walked away together, I knew everything I had experienced with him was a lie, a huge god damned, fucking lie. How could I have been so stupid and vulnerable to fall for the line of crap he handed me? I felt the humiliation, heartbreak, and shame of long ago all over again. Only this time it was worse, a hundred times worse.
I walked for another hour before I came back to my apartment. I was determined to tell him what I thought of him if he had the gall to call me. But he didn’t call. For three whole days, there was silence. As evening closed in on me the third day, my anger had subsided to a calm resolve. I had blocked his calls and would now try and forget that those three heavenly days ever existed. It was a fluke. He was a good fuck and probably was the slut he tried to convince me he wasn’t. Well, it worked. I had to give him credit for that.
The worst of it was, I found myself denying I had fallen in love with him, justifying its impossibility because you just don’t fall in love in three days. It takes time and friendship and all sorts of other experiences with a person before love happens.
His calls were blocked, so I didn’t have to worry about that happening but what if I ran into him. What would I do or say, probably something I would regret. I was still angry for being deceived. But in all honesty to him, he didn’t deceive me, I deceived myself.
In any event, I wasn’t ready for an encounter with him. I had to get away for a while and get back to writing. I had friends in New Hampshire. I’d go there for a while. Summer was almost over, the fall season would be perfect along the coast.
Unfortunately, I forgot about the U.S. mail and was taken aback when I discovered a letter from Max. I laid it on my desk and looked at it for a day before I threw it away. It was probably some candy-assed excuse that would have made it worse or he had decided he wasn’t interested in me. I just didn’t want any more pain from this mistake. I wanted it to go away. I could handle rejection from a publisher on something I had written but not this. It probably would have been a very nice version of ‘get away from me, loser.’
I finished packing and checked the apartment to make sure everything was turned off. As I walked to my car I heard sirens off in the distance but thought nothing of it. There were always sirens going off in this city or so it seemed. I placed my bag in the back seat and drove away.
I couldn’t have driven more than three blocks when I found myself in the most unbelievable traffic jam. When I realized I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, I parked and locked my car, and walked to where the action was. The sirens had stopped but the red lights from ambulances and police cars lit up the intersection. I had been a combat medic in Iran for two tours of duty and figured I might be able to help.
When I heard someone yell, MEDIC, I NEED A MEDIC, I jumped the police line and ran forward. The second I saw the figure on the ground, his chest covered in blood, I knew he had been shot. I knelt down next to the man trying to help him.
“MAX!” I was shocked to see him.
“Go over to that ambulance and look for a medical chest or bag and bring it here. Sir, can you hear me? Sir, I’m here to help you.” I placed my hand firmly over the hole in his chest. “Breathe in.” I took my hand away. “OK, breathe out.”
“This is all I could find.”
“Look for a metallic twelve-inch square or something similar. Breathe in, sir. Breathe out. That’s it, Max.” He handed the patch to me as I reached out, placed it firmly on the man’s chest. “Breathe in, sir,” I removed the patch, “Breathe out. Find a Medic, Max. I need help here.” Max dashed off, covered with this poor man’s blood.
It seemed like forever before I heard the rush of footsteps coming in my direction.
“Ok, sir, we can take it from here.”
“It’s a sucking chest wound. May have gone through his heart. He needs surgery fast.” I fell to the side as the professionals took over.
Max squatted down, “BB, are you all right?”
“I’m fine. A little bloody but it’s not mine. Max, what’s with the collar?
“Come on, I’m getting you outta here.”
“Don’t you remember, I live right over there.”
I suddenly recognized where I was. “I can’t. I’m on my way to New Hampshire.”
“Not looking like that you aren’t. Now, come on.”
I was so glad to see him, I just let him lead me away.
“Take your clothes off and get in the shower. I’ll put the kettle on.”
“Max, forget the kettle. Get in here with me. You’re bloodier than I am.”
He laughed, took his clothes off and got in the shower. After we had scrubbed the blood off of each other, I grabbed him. “What’s with the collar?”
“Why are you so angry?”
“I saw you in the park with that man.”
“What man? When?”
“A few days after that weekend.”
Max began to laugh.
“What’s so funny?”
“That was no man.”
“That was my bishop.”
“Your bishop? You’re having an affair with your Bishop?”
“I’m not having an affair with anyone — except you, I hope.”
“But I thought …”
He put his arms around me and pulled me into a tight embrace.
“But the collar?”
“Bishop O’Connell has been after me for months to come back as a deacon. The night you saw me was simply one of the many meetings we had. He finally convinced me and I agreed.”
“But the hug?”
“That’s all it was, just a hug, a thank you for his efforts.”
“You’re a priest again?” I didn’t have a clue what a deacon was?”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I tried to, but my calls were blocked.”
“Oh, God. That’s my fault.”
“Why did you do that? I was afraid to come to your apartment. I thought you didn’t want me after all.”
“I’m such a fool, Max. Please forgive me.”
“Never.” He locked his lips onto mine and looked into my eyes like no one had ever done before. I could not help but melt into his embrace and take advantage of the love pouring out of this Godly man.
I’m convinced, if it had been anyone else, they would have told me to take a hike. But not Max. And if it hadn’t been for the misguided Canon law of celibacy, Max would still be a priest.
The Catholic Church has shot themselves in the foot so often with this man-made law. I wonder if they know how lucky they are to still have Max in their service if only as a deacon. I certainly hope so.
I’ve always enjoyed intimacy with another human being but that night with Max was insane. Once you add selfless love to the mix, no holds are barred — euphemistically speaking, of course.
When our passion cooled, Max whispered in my ear, “Ok BB, now is the moment.”
“What moment is that?”
“What does BB stand for?”
“Oh, please, do I have to tell you?”
“Not another kiss until you do.”
“Ok, but promise me you won’t laugh.”
“Cross your heart?”
“And hope to live with you forever after.” He could hardly get the words out he was grinning so.
“It means … Beautiful Baby.”
“No, I’m not kidding. My parents were in their late 40’s when I happened. They were so overjoyed, that’s the name they gave me. They had tried all their married life to have a child with no results.”
“That is so beautiful. I guess when they stopped trying the miracle happened.”
“You think I’m a miracle?”
“In my life you are.”
“May I have more kisses?”
“How many would you like?”
“Oh, I don’t know. A million or two?”
“Humm. You’re a cheap date. How about a billion or two?”
“Sounds good to me. When do we start?”