While Waiting… - Banbury McBurg
They hadn’t seen him and he took advantage of it shamelessly. He slid deeper down in his chair, shielded his eyes and began to watch in earnest.
The first person was a middle height guy, with shoulder-length auburn hair, faded jeans and a corduroy jacket that looked well-worn and comfortable. He stood with his back to Joe so he couldn’t see his face but the guy’s wild gesticulations indicated passionate arguments with his interlocutor. Joe couldn’t make out his words and merely appreciated his vivid manner of speech.
Joe couldn’t see the guy’s companion too well either. He or she sat in the chair in the alcove and all Joe could see were long legs in black jeans and hiking boots, and occasionally hands with long, elegant fingers.
The inaudible conversation became boring and Joe was about to get up and go into the café when the short guy suddenly laughed, bent, and definitely kissed his companion. “That’s something anyway.” Joe grinned and settled back down instead.
Corduroy guy squatted down and began to rub his friend’s knees, talking quietly. Joe thought of moving to a chair nearby, then about going into the café again when the guy turned at some noise. Joe saw his face.
He was… No, ‘beautiful’ was strangely wrong for that face. He was stunningly interesting. Joe liked to take photos and he knew that it was very difficult to find interesting faces – there are a lot of simply beautiful people but not many who were really interesting. And this guy was interesting – not because of his appearance but because of his countenance. Those few minutes that he'd been watching him in the departure hall made Joe's fingers itch to pick up his camera.
Then the guy turned to his friend and smiled. Joe gasped. He saw a face of such utter love that he couldn’t even be jealous. He’d never ever seen the whole world shown in one short glance.
Then the guy took his friend’s hand and kissed his knuckles.
Joe firmly shut his eyes. He felt like a voyeur.
He almost missed the new announcement but the guy he was watching so closely got up and shouldered his heavy backpack. Joe heard the announcement clearly – the flight to Cascade was due to board. The guy tied his hair back with a leather thong and offered his hand to his friend.
Joe had his eyes glued on them . Hmm. The friend appeared to be a man as well. Tall, broad-shouldered, with short-cropped hair and striking blue eyes. Not only handsome but a very interesting face as well.
He gave Joe an unexpected once-over, thorough but not hostile. More curious than anything else. Joe inwardly shuddered but couldn’t persuade himself to stop lurking. He also got up and outwardly nonchalant, trotted behind his guys.
The crowd was heavy and Joe had to give up the pretention of dissembling in order to keep up with his prey. He almost lost them. Then he turned the corner to the gates and stopped dead. They stood in line – the bigger guy put his arm around the shoulders of the other one, tucked his head under his chin and laid his cheek on his crown, smiling.
There was pure peace in this gesture. Peace with himself and the world around him; as if this crown was his Omphalos and Holy Grail simultaneously.
Joe watched them with a strange sensation in his guts. As if he was missing something. Something vital. He closed his eyes for a moment and froze in realization. He’d seen the tall guy somewhere. Moreover, this somewhere wasn’t on TV or in a newspaper. It was… It was…
Joseph bit his finger.
It was a photo in his mom’s drawer. A photo from graduation. There were three people in it – mom, her best friend Allison, and mom’s boyfriend, though she said once that he wasn’t a ‘real’ boyfriend – he’d already known that he’d join the army right after graduation and he didn’t want to burden her with his ‘issues’. This boyfriend was not older than eighteen, tall, lean, with a dark bush of hair – but his eyes were unforgettable.
And then there was one more thing that mom said that evening. Jim was his biological father.
Jim and his friend stepped through the gates and vanished from sight. Joe stretched his neck out to find them and his hearing suddenly snapped into focus. He caught words said by a deep pleasant baritone, “Hey, Chief, don’t go to sleep on me yet, let’s find our seats.” His vision blurred then also focused sharply and he saw the taller form slide his arm around the waist of the other man, lean closer and plant a kiss on the crown of the auburn mop of hair, then suddenly turn his head and meet Joseph’s eyes…
Jim once more surveyed the tall, lean, dark haired young man of about twenty who’d watched them for an hour or so. Quite an average guy except for his vaguely familiar, acute, blue eyes. Jim shrugged, squeezed Blair’s shoulder and maneuvered him through the plane doors.
He glanced back one more time but the boy had disappeared already. Jim stepped inside and just caught a scrap of phone conversation from outside. It was too far away for him to make out the voice coming from the other end of the phone but on this end a young, not yet completely masculine voice was chuckling and saying, "... no, Mom, I'll be there in no time... No, it's okay... No, my voice sounds the way it always does. You're just moming me. ...On second thought, I do have a question for you..."
The door closed.
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Acknowledgments: Thank you Annie and Mary for the beta and to Patt for the cover art.