A Cold Place in the Spring
January 11 2006
Soon the night was over and the darkness gave way to the dawn. The sun peered in through Jim’s bedroom window as if it were a spectator looking at some sideshow in a circus. Jim was still lying there curled up on the floor clutching his pillow from last night. He had somehow managed to cry himself to sleep and slept right through the night without a stir. He must have not awoken at any point in the night because he would most certainly have crawled back into the bed rather than spend the entire night on this cold, hard floor. As he began to move his legs and arms, he realized that the hard floor had taken its toll on his back. He felt the stiffness in it that accompanied an uncomfortable night’s sleep. Slowly he dragged himself off the floor and stood up. He could still see the way that the bed had been ruffled from last night’s activities, a stark reminder of the mistake he had made. He only wished that he could forget about it. He wanted to forget about what he had done. But he knew he couldn’t. He would keep reminding himself. He always would. He was that kind of person. Jim had inherited that from his mother and had been further trained to do it by her and the way that she held him so accountable for everything in his life. He was a professional torturer. The only thing was that his victim was always himself. He knew the torture he would inflict on himself for this one would make any terrorist cringe in discomfort. Yes, it was going to be bad.
Just when Jim thought that it could be no worse, the phone rang. He slowly walked over to the cordless phone that he had on his nightstand in the bedroom and picked up the receiver. Looking at the caller id, he saw that it was his mother. “She’s calling even earlier today,” he thought. He didn’t know if he could face dealing with her this morning. Even though she was not standing in front of him, the sound of her voice would be enough to send him over the edge. So, he did what he thought was the best thing to do. He let the phone ring and would allow his mother to leave a message on his voice mail. Shortly, it stopped ringing, but Jim knew that she was talking to his voice mail. “Better it than me,” he thought.
After a few moments of regaining his composure, Jim sat down on the end of the bed. He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror that stood on his dresser. If he had known this, he would have sat on another part of the bed. Not only did he not want to talk to his mother, but also he didn’t want to see his reflection in the mirror this morning. He knew he would have to though. He needed to start getting ready to go the church. He couldn’t take the day off even though he was the boss so to speak. The church finance committee meeting was this morning at 10:00. He had to be there for that. Missing it was not an option. Before heading into the bathroom to take a shower, he picked up the phone to play his mother’s voice message. Listening to her voice, even though it was only a recording, was like having cold ice poured down his naked back. It made him even more uncomfortable than he thought. She didn’t leave a long one, just that she knew it was early and that he was probably still asleep or in the shower, but that she would call him on his cell phone later in the day to make arrangements to meet him tomorrow evening for dinner as they had discussed earlier. Then, the message was over. As he hung up the phone, he realized that there was something strange about the way he felt. Yes, he did feel awkward about listening to her message in light of what he had done last night, but he wasn’t sure if the feelings stemmed from the fact that he was gay. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but there was more to it.
Jim decided that it would be best to wait for her to call back later that day like she said. For now, he would get ready and go over to the church. Even though he would rather not face the day, he knew that he had to. It wouldn’t go away and he had to get out of that room and out of his house where the scene from the night before had taken place. He had to leave, if only for the day. Jim showered, got dressed and headed over to the church. When he entered the sanctuary this morning, as he did everyday as he went to his office, he noticed that the room was unusually cold. It was springtime in Atlanta, and outside it was a little warm. The sanctuary should have been at least moderate temperature, but it was a little cold. Was it the room, or was it he? Just then, the door from the side hallway where his office was located opened and in walked Phillip. This was the last person he wanted to see today. The sanctuary was big enough that he thought he could just quickly move along to his office without being seen. This was not to be. Phillip walked toward him. It was almost as if he had seen Jim come in and purposefully come out to meet him. Phillip was wearing his usual attire, a pull over with a pair of khaki dress pants. Jim thought he looked better than he ever had. But this was not good. He could not face Phillip after the events of last night. But it seemed as if he had no choice.
“Hey Jim. I hope you didn’t think you could sneak by me in here this morning,” Phillip said with a smile.
“Oh, hey there, Phillip. No, I was so deep in thought that I really didn’t see you there,” Jim said to the hot young youth minister. Jim’s insides were breaking down because not only was he swooning over Phillip, but he was also lying to him, right there in the sanctuary of the church. But in his mind this was the only thing he could say.
“I wanted to check on you again this morning, Jim. Could we go in your office and talk?”
Jim was a little taken back by the question, but he managed to get out a response. He looked down at his briefcase and then back at Phillip.
“Ah . . . yeah. That would be great. Let’s go on over now. I’m not too busy this morning.”
The two walked through the sanctuary. Jim shivered a little from the cold he felt inside the sanctuary. He had on a long sleeved dress shirt and a tie. He wondered if Phillip was cold. He was wearing a short-sleeved pull over. He turned and looked at Phillip as they walked through.
“Does it seem a little cold in here to you, Phillip? Jim asked.
“Not really. It is starting to warm up outside. Are you feeling okay, Jim?
“Oh yeah. I am just cold natured I guess.”
Jim was telling the truth this time. He was a little on the cold natured side. But he knew that the sanctuary wasn’t really all that cold this morning. It was really just he. It was the frigid feeling in his soul that was causing him to shiver here in the church. And the fact that Phillip was walking behind him did not help things. Jim opened the door to his office and asked Phillip to come in and take a seat. He just could not believe that he was there talking to Phillip this morning, especially after he had hooked up the night before. He felt awful. He felt as if he had let the young man who was in front of him down. He would have been able to handle it a little better if he had made love with someone he knew and was building a friendship and relationship with, but not this. He had had a night full of hollow sex with a stranger. His heart fluttered as he looked at Phillip across the desk from him. This time, it wasn’t just the boys blue eyes that made him nervous.
“So what’s on your mind this morning?” He asked Phillip.
“Jim, I really wasn’t that satisfied with our conversation last night. You have to understand that I wasn’t trying to pry into anything, but I have always been able to read people’s minds and see into their souls so to speak. And you just look like your soul is so troubled. My mom always told me that I should go into the ministry or into palm reading since I could read people so well. Fortunately, I took her advice. But I can see that you are really in pain about something. I just want you to know that I am here for you if you need me. Just remember that.”
Jim felt so confused at the moment. He was so touched that Phillip was this concerned about him. It made his heart beat faster to think about it. But he also felt ashamed at the thought of what he had done last night, and the thought of what he would do to Phillip if given the chance. He so wanted to open up and talk about what had happened and what was going on in his heart and in his mind with Phillip, but he knew that that was very dangerous territory. For now, as always, he would simply gloss this situation over and deal with his pain and confusion the only way he knew how-by himself. He gathered his thoughts and looked in Phillip’s direction.
“Once again, I really appreciate your concern. You will never know how much I do. But for now, I have to deal with the issues I’m facing alone. No one else will understand. For now, I’ll just rely heavily on prayer and the grace of God.”
The expression on Phillip’s face had changed from one of concern, to one of confusion. Jim did the best he could to maintain composure even though it was difficult. He knew that the wheels of the young man’s mind were turning. And he couldn’t blame him either. His would be too if he were in this situation.
Phillip leaned over closer to the desk from where he was sitting. He looked Jim right in the eye and said, “Jim, there is very little that you could tell me that would shock me. I have seen a lot of things in my life even though I am only 22 years old. I dealt with a lot in high school and in college. I had friends who were haunted by their past, their present, and chased by the devil. They all knew that they could come and talk to me whenever they wanted. Some of them did. You can too. That is all I wanted to say. I have a really good set of ears and a big heart. You can trust me with anything.”
“Thank you. That means a lot to me. It really does. I gather that about you- you being the easy one to talk to and all. I believe that. It shows. I can tell it from your spirit. Thanks, Phillip. I will remember that.” Jim thought to himself as he heard Phillip’s words, “You do have a great set of ears and a lot of other great things. And I bet your heart is big. But would it be big enough for me after I told you what it really was that was bothering me?” Jim knew he couldn’t say those things to Phillip. So he just smiled and nodded.
“Okay. I’m always here when you need me,” Phillip said with a forced smile.
Then, as the two stood up and walked to the door, Phillip did something that Jim did not see coming. He leaned over and hugged Jim. Jim almost could not handle it. The feeling of Phillip’s warm arms around him sent a wave of electricity through his body that touched the very depth of his soul. He could feel the warm, soft skin of Phillip’s cheeks and smell the tantalizing scent of his cologne. He wanted to push back but he knew that it would have been odd and it might have even hurt Phillip. That was the last thing Jim wanted to do-hurt this warm, sensitive, caring, and beautiful young creature in front of him. “How could I hurt him?” Jim thought as the two embraced. No, Jim knew that he could never hurt someone he loved so much. The only problem was that he loved Phillip a lot differently than Phillip loved him. Oh how he wanted to be honest with him about his feelings. He was so damned confused. Just then, the pain began to creep in. The pain of knowing that he could never tell Phillip how he felt and that he would never hold Phillip in the way that he wanted to hold him. This was as far as it went, and one of the two players in this game had no clue how the other one felt. This was torture of the toughest kind. Jim would not wish this on the world’s worst enemy.
As the two pulled back from their embrace, Jim smiled and felt himself getting excited in a very sensitive place. He tried his best to disguise it. As he pulled away from Phillip, the young man glanced downward at the floor. Jim was a little embarrassed. Was he looking at the floor, or did he notice something? Oh no, Jim felt that he was in a mess. He hoped that his secret had not been given away by his heightened sense of sexual arousal while hugging Phillip. Just then Phillip looked at him and said, “Well, I think it would be best to let you get to work. I think I need to do the same thing.”
Phillip walked off in a hurry. Did he notice something? What was it that he meant when he alluded to the fact that Jim could tell him anything, ANYTHING? Why did he say that? And most of all, had he felt Jim’s erection. Once again, Jim felt ice cold. His hands started to shake and his stomach was in knots. He had not bargained for this. He needed an out. He needed someone who would understand him. There was no one. He was alone in that cold office. As he stood there closing the door and wondering what to do, Kathleen came over the phone intercom and called his name.
“Jim, are you there?” He could hear her say.
“Yeah, right here.” Jim composed himself and walked over to the phone.
There is a call for you on line two. The fellow didn’t give his name. But he said that you would want to take the call.
“Okay, I’ll get it.”
Who could this be? As Jim answered the phone, he heard the voice on the other line, and at that moment, he felt a warm ray of sunshine beam through the glass into the room. He smiled as he said, “How did you know that I wanted you to call me today?”