Scott Favor cradled Mike across his lap in the back of a chauffeur-driven Lincoln. It had taken a while, but private investigator Rob Thacker always got his man, and Scott had been on cloud nine when the call came in that he'd been traced. He knew, at last, he would see Mike again, but he had no idea the reunion would be so dramatic. Scott's right hand still ached from the knock-out jab he'd dealt to the guy trying to load Mike onto a pick-up like he was a sack of potatoes. The other guy, in the driver's seat, just took off - obviously in no mood for fighting.
'Mikey. Come on, wake up,' he called gently. Mike began to tremble. Then he opened his eyes and closed them again letting out something between a wail and a sigh. He started to breathe irregularly, and broke up when he tried to speak.
'This... isn't... happening, man. This for sure is not happening.'
'It's happening Mike. Now get sat up.' Scott helped him sit. Mike opened his eyes again, reached out and touched Scott's face, and collapsed onto his shoulder as uncontrollable sobs erupted from deep inside. He cried like a kid for his mother. He cried for lost times. He cried up all the evil all the slights, all the bad trips, all the ill-usage and pain that had been his lot for most of his life. And all the time Scott held him.
Joe Parsons kept his eyes on the road - mostly. His eyes did stray, maybe a couple of times, to the scene playing out on the back seat. He didn't have much time for faggots, but what he saw in the mirror felt kind of right. Like two brothers parted long ago, meeting up again for the first time in a decade.
Eventually the crying stopped, and Mike sat up straight throwing Scott's arm off with some force. Scott was puzzled.
'So, how are you Mike?'
'What the fuck do you care?'
Scott recoiled, like he'd been slapped. 'I care, man. I'm here. I came for you.'
Mike looked out at the passing desert. 'You came for me?'
'Great! The magnificent Scott Favor came for poor little Mikey Waters. So when you gonna leave me again. Tomorrow? Next week?'
Scotty shook his head, confused and saddened.
'Never, Mike. Never.'
'Hell you say, never! So you have decided, for whatever reason, that you, the great Scott Favor, needs me, the low-life Mike Waters. As it is written and so it shall be!'
Scott swallowed hard. 'It's not like that Mike. I missed you. Look!' he said, chucking a thumb over his back. 'I went and grew wings for you Mike.' He found it hard to countenance Mike's cold stare. 'I'm gay, Mike. All that stuff I used to say. I thought it was true, but I was kidding myself. I'm like you Mike.'
'Bullshit! There's no such thing as "gay". Or "straight".'
Scott's preconception of how this would all go was wildly off kilter, and he was stuck for a direction. 'I don't buy that. When I at last admitted to myself, what I was, I felt good. It made sense of all the problems in my life. I missed you so much. You can't say there's no such thing.'
'No. Well, I can, see! I had a vision. I'm not straight or gay - or even "bi" before you can chuck that one at me. I'm Mike Waters, I am a man, and I can fall in love with people. Same as every last person on the whole planet. They all don't know though, so they let themselves stay in their little box and they're never free.'
'No. It's not true. I do not accept that.'
'Stay in your box then.'
'You're saying we're all the same? What about those guys who hate us so much they beat up on us - even kill us.'
'They're trying to beat it out of themselves. They're killing on the outside what they themselves have on the inside, but they are so fucked up they won't even look in that direction. I'm telling you. I know what I'm talking about.'
'You are Scott Favor, and you're in love with you. Scott wants it, Scott gets it. Well, fuck you! I love you, but I don't trust you and I'm not going to let you do to me what you did before.'
Now it was Scott's turn. Scott had not shed a single tear since he was twelve years old. Mike reached out and caught one on his fingertip. Rubbing it between finger and thumb, Mike felt on the verge of comforting his old friend. He swayed on the edge for a while, but having once before experienced the fall, he stepped back. 'Best get your man to stop the car. Drop me here. I'm used to long lonely roads.'
Scott cried silently turning his face away. Mike would not be diverted from his course. 'Hey, man!' he shouted to Joe Parsons. 'Stop the car. I'm getting out.'
'No,' Scott said quietly, unsteadily. 'Please. You hear me out first.'