By the time Daniel arrived at the record store, the EMT’s were strapping Bobby Lee down to a gurney with Patrick looking nervously on.
“Danny!” Patrick cried as Daniel took him in his arms.
“Are you OK?” Daniel whispered.
“Yeah. I did what you said and he started breathing again.”
“Good work. What happened here?” Daniel asked, pointing to the vomit on the front of Patrick’s paisley shirt.
“He got sick on me when he came to.”
“Good. Maybe now you’ll throw that thing away.” Daniel smiled and Patrick laughed. The two went to stand by Bobby Lee before he was taken to the hospital.
“How’s he doing?” Daniel asked the paramedic hooking Bobby Lee up to an IV.
“He’s conscious. That’s a good sign. Your friend saved his life,” she replied. Patrick took Bobby Lee’s hand.
“Sorry about your cool shirt,” Bobby Lee whispered.
“Don’t worry about it. Just get better,” Patrick said, tearing up.
“You gave me mouth to mouth. Does this mean we’re engaged?”
“Sorry. He’s already spoken for,” Daniel said.
“Excuse me, guys. We have to go,” the paramedic told them. As they lifted the gurney into the ambulance, Bobby Lee gave Patrick a mischievous wink. The panhandling kid with the piercings and tattoos had been loitering quietly in the background. He ran to the ambulance door.
“Hang in there, dude,” he said. Bobby Lee gave him a thumbs up as the ambulance drove away, siren blaring. Inside the store Daniel and Patrick began picking up the fallen guitars and records.
“Have you spoken to Barbara?” Patrick asked.
“Do you think we should go out there and get her?”
“Traffic’s a mess. Let’s wait. I’ll keep trying to call her.” Once they had created some order of the merchandise Patrick asked, pointedly,”Now will you think about moving to Santa Fe?”
“Oh, Patrick, come on,” Daniel moaned, “Seriously? Now? How many times do we have to go over this? Santa Fe is a desert. I hate the desert. Hot, dry, no ocean.”
“When’s the last time we went to the beach?” Patrick snapped.
“I don’t know,” Daniel snapped back,” But it’s there when we want to go.”
Patrick hung his head and nervously bit his lower lip. Daniel took his hand, saying, “Sit down a minute. I know you miss your mother in Santa Fe but we have a great life here in San Francisco and an earthquake isn’t going to drive me away. I found myself here. I found you here.”
“Don’t you want me to be happy?” Patrick asked, quietly.
“You know I do. Don’t you want me to be happy?”
“Well, there’s the dilemma.”
“I hate her being in that place alone. It makes me miserable thinking she might need me and I’m not there. I’m all she has left.”
They had had the same conversation often but lately Patrick had become more intense and Daniel feared he might lose him. Patrick’s guilt over leaving his mother in assisted living was becoming unbearable and he used any excuse to press for relocation to his childhood home. Emma, Patrick’s, mother, was suffering from early stage dementia. She would repeat herself several times in a conversation and would forget what she was saying mid sentence. She was a kind woman who loved her only son unconditionally and accepted his homosexuality even though it contradicted her religious beliefs. She also accepted Daniel as his partner and treated him like a son.
“How about this?” Daniel began with trepidation, “Let’s bring Emma out here for a visit and see if she likes it. If she does,” he took a deep breath, “she can move into the guest room for a while.” This was the thing he had hoped to avoid. He had been burdened with responsibility at an early age, caring for his clinically depressed, widowed mother. When she died, he grabbed his chance at freedom, left Chicago and moved to San Francisco.
“God has a very dark sense of humor,” he thought, “Mother, Barbara and now Emma.” He knew there would be no more late night parties with friends and impromptu weekends in the country. Emma’s presence would be a hindrance to their physical intimacy and it would require every ounce of patience he had to listen to her ramblings. He knew exactly what he was in for but he loved Patrick so much he was willing to give up his carefree life rather than lose him.
“You mean it?”
“Yes,” Daniel replied, emphatically.
“Are you sure you can handle it?”
“Believe me, I’m an old hand at old ladies.”
“How did I get so lucky?”
“Your luck is my lot,” Daniel teased, “And I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Patrick’s cell phone rang.
“It’s me. Are you OK? Have you heard from Daniel?” Barbara asked.
“We’re fine, sweetie. We’re here at the music store. How ’bout you? You OK?” Patrick replied, “It’s Barbara.” He handed the phone to Daniel.
“I’m fine. I’m at home. There’s hardly any damage here except that Seamus pooped all over the carpet. He’s under my bed and won’t come out but he’s all right. When are you coming home?”
“We’ll be there as soon as we can. There’s a bottle of champagne in the fridge upstairs. Let’s celebrate.”