It's in the Genes by devra
You know that saying, “My momma didn’t raise no fool?” Well that’s 100 percent correct, I’m not a fool, at least not on my momma’s side, my dad… well that’s an entirely different story, because from him I inherited the dreaded “the mouth and brain are not connected” gene. So see, the fact that Daniel is now furious with me has nothing to do with anything *I’ve* done, but totally the fault of those damn DNA molecules.
I really have no explanation for what occurred. I mean, there wasn’t any pause in the conversation, no empty silence, no floundering that would have precipitated my conversation. It was like any normal Saturday evening downtime for us. Daniel and I were watching TV and being guys, three empty beer bottles for me, a bottle of red wine, half empty compliments of Daniel, and the remains of our fast food feast were spread out on the coffee table.
There was something uninteresting on the Discovery Channel, the hockey game was on break and I was bored. Boredom led to my making some inane comment about red wine and McDonald’s. Daniel made some snarky remark that red wine really went better with Taco Bell, but that *I* had won the food choice argument yet again. The thought that someone really should teach Daniel the finer points of rock, paper, scissors flittered through my mind.
Daniel was preoccupied with both the show and sipping his wine and I opened my mouth to make some great comeback line and then it hit me and I couldn’t stop myself, though my brain was desperately trying to flag my mouth down, and I blurted out, “You’re beautiful.”
Daniel spewed a fountain of red wine across the room and I sat with my hand paused mid air, hovering over his back, ready to pound him if he started to choke. But like the true gentleman he is, Daniel placed the wine glass on the table, picked up a handful of napkins, blotted his face, chin, shirt and pants dry. He cleared his throat, turned off the remote, moved to face me. “Did you say what I think you just said?”
The only acknowledgment to Daniel’s question that I squeaked out was an “Uh huh.”
“Men aren’t beautiful.” He gathered up the trash, stuffing it into the bags still sitting on the floor by the coffee table. “I’m not beautiful.” Huffing indignantly, Daniel threw a bag of the trash onto the table and stomped off to get his keys from the divider, backtracking and tossing the second bag of garbage to join the other on the table.
“For cryin’ out loud, Daniel, it’s not like I called you stupid. I said you were beautiful.” I ran my fingers through my hair in frustration, ready to pull out the short strands, and stood. “Since when is beautiful such an insult?” I sidestepped the table and slapped down Daniel’s hand as he went to grab his coat. “What the hell are you doing?” With half a bottle of wine in his body, Daniel’s damn stupid if he thinks I’m going to let him drive home. On second thought, maybe I should have called him stupid as opposed to beautiful, if he believed he’s sober enough to think I would permit him to drive home.
He *was* furious, Daniel’s face was set in a hard grimace, his body was tense, his movements tight but it was the eyes. They weren’t angry. They were… hell I don’t know what they were, but angry was not my word of choice when I gazed into them. “I’m going home.” He leaned into me, rattling his keys in my face for emphasis.
I grabbed the keys. “No, you aren’t.”
“Yes,” he said tugging at the keys.
And I’ll be damned if my father’s genes don’t decide to make another guest appearance in my living room because one minute Daniel and I are having a tug of war over his car keys and *bam*, with the next tick of the clock, I’m lip locking Daniel.
* * *
Okay, so now Daniel’s isn’t furious anymore, flustered, yes, furious, no. The typical Saturday night with Jack and Daniel has taken on an almost surreal feeling with the two of us perched at opposite ends of the couch.
“That was um… interesting.” Daniel picks up his half finished glass of wine, glances in my direction, gulps down the remainder and refills the glass to the brim.
I wiggle my fingers at the bottle. “Can I get you something stronger than that?”
“Later, sure.” I grimace watching him down not only that glass but continue on to make a nice dent in the remainder of the bottle. Daniel gets up, wobbles a bit, straightens and grabs the two garbage bags still sitting on the table. “Can I help?”
“No… just stay put,” Daniel orders as he shakes the bags, “See these, I’m just throwing these out and I would feel much more comfortable if I knew where you were at all times.”
“Stay. I can stay.” I pat the couch, fold my hands in my lap and lean stiffly back.
In the twenty steps to the kitchen, Daniel looks over his shoulder at least five times and I wiggle my fingers in a half hearted wave just before he enters the kitchen.
“I’m still here. Right on the couch. Just where I said I would be. Couch. Me. Here, ” I shout. The garbage can opens and close, the running water, the clink of a glass from the cabinet, the opening of an aspirin bottle, I hear it all. “Headache, Daniel?”
“Shut up, Jack.” The kitchen cabinet door is slammed shut with a vengeance.
“Thanks dad,” I hiss, slinking low into the couch cushions.
* * *
The bottle of wine is empty, and I’m dying for a beer, but I’m terrified if I get off the couch and the leave the safety of the corner I’m huddling in, Daniel will find a way to murder me and leave no evidence in his wake.
“Beautiful?” Daniel rips his glasses off his face and flings them onto the coffee table.
“Daniel, maybe you should be a little careful…”
Daniel keeps on talking, as if I wasn’t even in the room. “Beautiful? In the middle of a documentary on the Mayan culture he calls me beautiful.”
“Enough already! What the hell should I’ve said? You’re the linguist… share some of your lingual talent with me.”
Unfocused eyes lock onto mine and blink owlishly. “Maybe you shouldn’t have said anything.”
“Because it was… is better, the other way.”
“What other way?” I’m totally confused now, this isn’t about my offending him with my kiss and grope. Daniel is off on another plane of thought processes and he’s leaving me in the dust.
If I thought I was befuddled just moments ago, it doesn’t even hold a candle to how I feel at the sad smile Daniel now wears. “Come on,” I prod gently. “Give me something to go on, okay?”
“It’s safer to rely on this.” He taps his temple.
“My imagination. Illusions.”
“Illusions? Like in fantasies?”
“Yes… no… not really. More like… happily every after.”
“Who? Happily ever after… you and Sha’re?”
“I loved her.”
“I know you did.”
“But she’s de… she’s gone. No more ‘what if’s’ and happy endings with Sha’re.”
“No… but this isn’t about Sha’re, is it?” I’m starting to connect the dots.
“Fuck you, Jack,” he shouts. “I enjoyed relying on illusions. Why the hell did you have to go and… and….”
Daniel nods and wraps his arms around his body, in a gesture that I thought he had thrown out with the trash. I guess old habits are hard to shake.
“Daniel, you have fantasies about…”
There is venom in those eyes now. "See that’s the problem, you think fantasies and I think…" he drops his head. "Contentment. I don't want to be lonely anymore. Love. I want more than just fantasies, Jack. I want to be happy."
He’s gonna lose emotional control and he allows himself one shudder to rein in his feelings.
"Can you call me a cab, I need to go home."
Victorious, I pump my fist in the air.
I swoop down on him, pulling him tightly into my arms. “I can do happy,” I whisper into his ear.
“Oh god,” he mutters. “I think I’m gonna be sick.”
* * *
It’s gotta be love. There is no other explanation as to why I’m cleaning up the bathroom and smiling. Vomit usually doesn’t have this euphoric effect on me.
Daniel is sleeping, curled up on my side of the bed, an empty glass of water and the bottle of aspirin on the nightstand, but I think even with those precautions, he’s gonna be hurting in the morning. I slip into bed, trying to find a comfortable position on a side of the bed I’m not accustomed to, but one that for some strange reason I believe, after tonight, I’ve inherited.
Daniel leans into my hand as I rub his back. “Feeling any better?”
“Headache,” he admits, moaning when my fingers massage his neck. “Happy.”
“Good.” I slide over the mattress, and plant a kiss to the spot my fingers were just touching. “See, I told you I could do happy.”
“Talk in the morning?” He yawns. “Long talk?”
“Yup… in the morning.” I throw my leg over his, and wrap my arm around his midsection. I don’t know how much Daniel will feel like talking in the morning but I know one conversation for me that’s a priority. Wonder if my dad would think it’s strange to be woken up by a telephone call early on a Sunday morning from his son, thanking him for his genes. ‘Nah’, I decide as I tug the warmth in my arms closer, ‘hearing from me will probably just make good ole Dad happy’.
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