They're coming for us. We've been dodging them for the past three states, but let's face it, they travel faster. That raggedy blue pick-up we bought in Green River doesn't look like it'll hold together for another night; there's something wrong with the radiator and it's leaking oil and I'm no good with machines. We wouldn't get very far on foot. And they're still coming, you can feel it on the wind. They won't stop. I'm so tired of running
We're holed up in a cheap motel room that smells like bleach and mildew. It's like most cheap motels; two beds, a painting with bad perspective, bolted-down lamp, nightstand, Gideon's bible. There's a low, nubbly couch that is the exact color of chee-tos. There's probably a coffee machine in the bathroom, I haven't looked. The carpet is the color of rust, with a pattern of gold swirls worked into it. The bolted-down lamp is out, but I can still see the gold swirls on the rust carpet. It reminds me of blood and dust.
The light from the motel's sign tints the venetian blinds red, then blue, then red as the neon blinks on and off. Brown water stains on the ceiling make rorschach patterns; all I can see in them is an unhappy ending. From the ancient color tv a man in a white suit shouts at us to repent for our sins, the end is nigh, he says. In the flickering light of the television, Alex looks far younger than he is, and more innocent. He's still as beautiful as he was the first time we met. I wish I could tell him I was sorry for putting him through all this. It's hard to apologize for loving someone.
If I left him now, maybe they'd only come after me. Maybe they'd leave him alone and he could try to pick up the pieces of a life. But I know that this is only a fool's hope. They'd never stop at just me. They never give up. They never stop. They'd find out about him. And they'd come after him and hurt him and enjoy it, and he'd be alone.
I'm pacing now, back and forth the way I always do when there's something on my mind. Alex throws a pillow at me. I look in his direction, try hard not to look pained. He beckons for me to come closer. I do.
He smiles at me and says, "Do you remember that time we crashed that swanky masquerade party? We wore those black plastic masks from the dollar store."
"We were the hit of the ball. You could hear those rich people's teeth grinding --"
"They sounded like maracas!" he bounces on the bed.
"Like maracas," I continue,"They were so annoyed at seeing two boys in jeans take over their dance floor."
"What was the dance we did?"
"The quebradita," I sigh, "the little break."
He leaps up from the bed and stretches out his hand towards me. I take it and he spins me close and dips me. Pressed close together like this there is a sweet sort of stillness. The only sound I can hear is the buzzing from the neon sign and the snoring of the people in the next room. Alex is my world. When you love someone like that, you want to spend forever with them. He pushes me onto the bed and crawls up next to me. He lays his head on my shoulder.
"Stefan," he says in his quietest voice, "I don't believe that anything bad could really happen to me, as long as I'm with you."
"I don't think anything terrible would have any real bite as long as you're with me," I say and ruffle his hair.
"I love you," he says.
I answer only with kisses.
We're lying together naked in a pool of light that flickers red, then blue, then red. I know all the contours of his body. It is a quiet moment. I cup his face in my hands and kiss it again and again. He closes his eyes; I wish there were somehow to save the way his long, dark lashes rest upon his cheek. I wish there were a word for that feeling.
Tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after that, they will catch us. They will find us asleep together and drag us out into the burning sun. Our skin will blister and char. We will reach for each other as they try to separate us, as they pierce our hearts with wood. Nothing but ashes will remain, and even these they will scatter to the winds.
Tomorrow. But tonight we have each other.