Jamie – The Journey Begins Ch. 18 – The Big Apple and Beyond

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Our flight from Austin to Newark wasn’t too bad. Both Lucas and I were feeling a little sore from sitting so long, plus we remained on our self-induced no booze ban, so were probably feeling the effects of the flight more, not being half-charged.

After quickly getting out of the airport, we headed to our apartment to relax for a bit. It was just off Grand Street, lower East Side, so easy to get around. Walking and throwing our stuff on the floor, I headed to the refrigerator, grabbing us a soda each just to up our sugar levels after the flight. Lucas grabbed his cell out and started to check his messages. “Hey buddy, I’m going to have a quick shower and freshen up, ok?” he called out as I walked into the bathroom, stripping off on the way. It was fucking awesome – I needed that hot water on me! The only sad part was that it washed the remaining scent I could smell on me from Ben – not to be gross, but I could faintly smell him still, that personal, musky, sexy as smell.

Heading back out into the main room with the towel on my head rubbing my hair dry, I looked to see Lucas still sitting where I’d left him. “Hey! You going to freshen up a little before we head out, mate? I’m almost ready to go. You showering?”

“Yeah, give me five. Just chatting on messenger… one sec.” Lucas looked up at me for a sec. “Are fucking eating? Every time I see you naked you look 10lbs lighter! Your momma is going to kill me! She’ll think I’m starving you. Fuckin’ eat something, will you, Jamie?”

“Fine! I’ll eat something, okay? Don’t be too long in getting ready – there’s still time to do a few quick tourist things.”

After Lucas finally dragged himself off messenger, and showered, we headed out to Time Square for a look around and the next scene for our video diary. Plus, I grabbed a takeaway pasta dish to shut him and my mom no doubt up. From there we wandered to the Rockefeller Centre, and the Rock Observatory deck was so cool! A nice chilled afternoon in the Big Apple!


I’d texted Ben a few times after arriving in NYC. He’d left me a few messages, so I just had to reply…This is killing me: I’m so conflicted! Happy as to be in NYC and going to the Pride events tomorrow. I’m also equally sad because it would be months before I see Ben again. Even if he kept his promise to come out to Australia for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, it would be four or six months.

The more I thought about it, the more I doubted that his family would be happy with him gone for either – they are so close, kind of like mine, but no Mason, although he’d been nice to me surprisingly since the crash. But Ben’s brother, Daniel, was a surprise package: over the past few days, Daniel called me a few times to check on how I was, where I was going next and so on. He’d told me that Ben had already told their mom that he would be missing from either Christmas or Thanksgiving, depending on what leave he could get, and she was disappointed but happy. Go figure!

We walked into a bar near our apartment and took up a booth. “You want a beer, Jamie? Think it’s time,” Lucas smiled as he ordered us a couple of beers.

“Oi, Jamie, heard from Ben?”

“Yeah, a few messages and texts.”

“Oh cool! What’s he up to? How did he sound?”

“He’s busy with work… gave us a few names of places we should go to while we’re here, you know.”

“Yeah, but how did he sound? Sad? Happy? Lonely for some Aussie?”

Bastard, I’ve tried to distract him but he’s had coffee, so no go. Resigned, I replied, “I haven’t spoken to him since we left Texas, Lucas.”

“What! Why the fuck not?”

‘Oh god! Kill me now.’

“Because I don’t know what to say, and you know…”

“No, I don’t know. Tell me.”

“It’s hard, Lucas. I’m finding it really hard to be away from him, and then my mind starts to race.” I could feel the frustration building up inside me. “Plus, Daniel has been chatting to me, making sure that I’m okay. I think Ben is feeling worried because I haven’t called him, so Daniel is trying to find out if I’m ok.”

“Hmm, might have to have a word with Daniel. Clearly, you and Ben are both as brainless as each other!” Lucas laughed. “And Daniel seemed like a nice guy, too. Clearly, his family are nice people, mate. Just talk to him, Jamie. Don’t screw this up – I know how you feel about him.”

“But Lucas,” l looked at him pleading for mercy. He just looked at me with that, ‘no you’re not getting away with it’ look. “I just don’t know what to say. Ben said he would come down under to see me, right?” I was fidgeting around in my seat, somehow not standing up and pacing around, but in my head, I was.

“I hoped that he might come for Thanksgiving… not because it was closer, but… well, maybe a little – a lot! But Christmas time can be bad at home, you know, with the fire season kicking in. My chances of getting any leave are pretty much unlikely.” I stopped and looked at Lucas. He was just giving me that all-knowing eye – bastard! – he knows me too well. “Anyways, he got to come down first. bursa escort See this is it: my mind is having this massive debate and we’ve only known each other for such a short time, plus I guess he’s got to come down under first, right? And it’s so far, for someone you’ve just met, right?”

“Yeah it is, but if you like someone, really like someone, Jamie, it’s just one night’s sleep.” Lucas smiled at me gently, trying to put my mind at ease.

“True. Maybe I’ll call him when we get back to our apartment. Thanks, Lucas.”

Saturday started with a lazy breakfast at a local café. Then we started to make our way down to Harlem Pride Day. Gotta say, it was fantastic. I’d forgotten all about Ben during the music and food.

“Lucas, this is fantastic! It’s so relaxed and a great family vibe too, right?”

“Love it,” and he leaned in a little closer. “Thanks for being cool about…” Lucas nodded his head towards our guest.

“All good, buddy,” I smiled and chugged on my cider. We hung around till the after party, then kicked on till 1 am, finally heading back to our apartment, still not blind drunk, but it had been fun. There were a few guys with iridescent face and body paint, charging ten bucks to paint you from waist to face. Under the UV lights, it looked awesome. I’d always wanted to try it after seeing the video’ My PNAU Go Bang’.

It was harmless sober fun and I was having plenty of it. Apparently, it attracts hot guys, too, so before long I was up and dancing the night away. There were a few that tried to make out with me, but I used the ‘can’t wreck the art’ line on them. Really it was because I was only interested in having what I couldn’t have.

“Fuck, Jamie! You look fucking amazing with that stuff on you. The way the guy traced out your body contours looks amazing. Let me take a pic for you.”

“Really, Lucas,” I stopped dancing for a moment and had the biggest scowl on my face possible. “The last pic you took for me fucked up stuff at home, remember?”

“Yeah, but to be fair, you’re not drunk, or hands down someone’s pants either, huh?”

“Okay, sure. Hey Hayley, come and join me please,” as I turned and grabbed her pulling the three of us together for a selfie. After Lucas clicked away, a random guy came over and took a better one with Lucas and Hayley either side of me, my arms draped over their shoulders. Turned out to be a fantastic picture. The rest of the night was easy – dancing and eating some food, a few drinks.

Lucas had messaged Hayley the day before. She was a friend of Ella that we’d seen a bit of in the hospital. She was up here seeing family in NJ, so joined us, it was nice to see them having so much fun together. I kinda felt a little envious, though… wished Ben was here, but was no way going to rain on their fun. And Hayley is awesome, funny and with an up-for-almost-anything attitude – they’re good together.


Sunday, the three of us made our way to the Pride march. A few guys we were talking to the night before suggested a few places to watch from. In the end, we met up with them near E15th ST. Even saw a few Aussies go past with ‘We voted YES’ stickers from our marriage equality vote last year, so I let out a few cheers and ‘g’day mate’s’ to them. One of the guys ran over and gave me a kiss. Aww!!

It was a full-on day – so many hot guys, warm day, sunshine, just perfect. After all that was over, we headed back to the apartment, stopping at our semi-regular haunts from the past day or so – Marie’s Crisis and Sons of Essex, both fantastic bars and also so different from each other. What an amazing few days of fun, laughter and sightseeing it’s been in NYC, but to be honest, still a little lovesick.

Monday rolled on with more tourist stuff – a solemn visit to ground zero, then a walk around Central Park, plus a one-hour phone call to Ben. I finally did it – I’d been messaging him, but his last message forced my hand. ‘James y r n t u takn my call, what did I do wrong.’

Well, that just fucked me over. I called him, and explained after a lot of false starts, pauses and just saying sorry, all the conversations I’d been having in my head and with Lucas too. Apparently, he’d called Ben yesterday and said ‘that I was okay, that I was just having trouble being adult at the moment, but to hang in there, it would be worth it.’

Ben was totally okay, and just asked me to talk to him if I was worried or upset, happy or any other thing – to just talk to him. Don’t over think it or freak myself out – kinda the same advice I’d used myself in the past… funny that.

I’d lost Lucas by mid-afternoon. He a Hayley were doing some sight-seeing. Lucas was a little uncomfortable with me suggesting that they go do some stuff together and we’d meet back at the bar later. I wandered around ‘downtown’ for a little while and ended up having coffee near New York University in one of the shops that was on Seinfeld’s “Comedian’s Car-Coffee” show, just by total accident. I was sitting there enjoying a coffee looking out the windows when bursa escort bayan Adam called from home. We were skyping and he recognized it.

Jules and he were going well, great in fact – he sounded so happy. She’d moved into my place that we were going to share. Adam was ‘visiting’ a lot, but they weren’t going to get too serious till her divorce came through, not wanting to start out on the wrong foot or something. I couldn’t be happier for them – love them both to bits they are so suited – two of my best friends together – you can’t wish for better really. We chatted about shit, nothing of real substance, and three espresso’s later we ended the call. I headed out and decided to walk a few blocks to Washington Square Park when Ben called. So we chatted while I walked and sat down in the sun near the fountain and watched the people have fun.

I hadn’t realized that we’d been chatting for almost an hour till Ben got all frantic saying he was going to be late for work. We both know he’s never late – his late is less than twenty minutes early, but anyway, I was enjoying our now normal messenger chat sessions and was kinda sad to say bye.

We were only interrupted by his sister cutting in, and they switched the call to a video at Jack’s insistence, apparently. She’d come over with the kids to say hi. Little Jack was full of questions and asked me why I made Uncle Ben cry… I almost died on the spot – I did know what to say. Next minute, Amber grabbed the cell and explained to both Jack and me about the importance of not repeating adult conversations or things we don’t quite understand. Jack responded with ‘he did understand – Uncle Ben was sad and Uncle Dan said it was because of Jamie.

I started to laugh a little at poor Amber – she was getting somewhat flustered. I saved her in the end, too. “Jack, I’m sad too, buddy. I had to go and finish my holiday and Uncle Ben couldn’t come, so I’m sad too.”

His little eyes were working on the reply. “Did you cry too, Jamie?”

“Yes, buddy, I did.” And with that Jack was gone and Amber was apologizing again. I finally made her understand that it was okay. Ben jumped back on the line for a moment and apologized a thousand times for Jack. “I’m so sorry, James, really am. I didn’t want you to know-”

I cut him off. “Ben, it’s okay, really, but can I ask you something, please?”

“Yeah, sure. I’ma guessing, I know what it is you’re gonna ask, but anyways…”

Taking a deep breath, I asked, “Is it true, Ben? Have I made you cry?”

Ben looked at me and didn’t say a word. He just nodded. It was ripping me up to see his expression, a quite pained expression. “Oh god, Ben. I’m so, so sorry. Was it when we arrived and I was having trouble being an adult, I guess, yeah?”

Ben just nodded again. I felt a tear slip from my eye. “Ben, please, please forgive me. You’re the last person on this earth I want to hurt, please.” Lifting my hand to my face, I wiped away a few more escaping tears.

“It’s okay, James. Lucas called me and explained the turmoil you were going through. He said you were having trouble being adult at the moment.”

I saw a tear roll down Ben’s face. Oh for fuck’s sake Spence, you are such a dumb fuck-wit at times, really.

“Hey, it’s okay. We talked about it, right?” I nodded without speaking. “And when there is a problem to work out, we’re going to talk again, right, both of us. Yeah?”

Again I just nodded, words were escaping me. Then it started to fall into place. “Ben, I just want you to know, you are the best thing that has happened to me in a long, long time. I promise I won’t hurt you again. I swear on St. Florian,” I smiled weakly. “Okay, you’d better go, I guess, because you really are going to be late now.” I smiled and waved into the camera. Ben did the same, blowing me a kiss and hanging up. I slipped my cell back into my pocket. “I think I love you, Ben,” I said to the open space in front of me.

A voice from beside me answered. “He’s very lucky if you do love him. If he doesn’t, I’ll swap.” I turned to see some random guy sitting about fifteen feet away, with a few girls beside him smiling at me. “He’s very lucky,” he said, returning to the conversation with his friends.


After three amazing days of sun, fun and Lucas acting like the biggest straight queer around – well with Hayley in tow, so not too queer I guess, ha-ha – it was time for us to pack up and head to our airports. I was flying out of JFK to Heathrow-London for a few days, then to France, doing a road trip from Nice to Marseille via Cannes, Toulon, and Saint-Tropez, then home to Australia.

Lucas was heading home to Houston where he was still settling in. He’d been promoted to some job, couldn’t tell me what, but it involved him moving from Huntsville, AL, down south to Houston, TX.

Well, at least he was going to be closer to Aiden and his family. Joshua, his other brother, had moved up north to NH and was busy farming the old place. It was like they were scattered all over the country. At least we stayed escort bursa close together. Well, once you get into the same country, hemisphere, ha ha.

Looking back on the past few days, I’d been well behaved. Yeah I flirted around, but nothing more than that. But little Jack’s conversation with me was weighing heavily on my mind. Lucas and I said our goodbyes at the apartment, our cabs coming and taking us in two different directions. It’s always so fucking hard to say goodbye to Lucas, ever since we were kids. I’d cry for ages each time one of us would have to go home. It didn’t change much over time. The past two months had been so intense, so personal, so life altering on so many levels. Shit we’d almost died together, plus having a load of laughs and fun along the way – I was going to miss him.

We hugged each other for a good ten minutes, switching between tears and silence, but the cabs were here now, so we had to go. I promised that I’d be careful in London and France. He promised to call in and see Ben for me.

Riding out to JFK I just couldn’t stop thinking about what to do. My mind, like a magnet, was pulling me back to Texas, to Ben, but here I was heading to JFK and on to London.

As I watched the skyline of NYC pass me by, I reflected on all that had happened. Still fresh tears on my cheeks from saying goodbye to Lucas, I think he won this time. To make each other feel better and not bad about crying when we said goodbye, as kids we declared the winner of the goodbye – if there is such a thing – is the one with more tears or tear stains on their faces.

The trip to France along the Cote d’Azur was something that I was really looking forward to – might be able to get in some water skiing and lying beside the Med. Hmm, I can almost feel, smell the wine, food, and beach from there.

I pulled out my cell and loaded up Skype, dialing Steph. I needed my big sister. “Hey, Steph! How are you?”

“Hey man-child! How are you? Nice accent you’ve developed over there, mate! Jeez, you almost sound like Lucas. Where is he anyway?”

I smiled at the sass Steph had paid out on me – she never lets an opportunity go by. “He’s on the way to LaGuardia. I’m heading to JFK.”

“Who won?”

“Lucas, but it was close to a draw.”

“So, what up Jamie, you look like someone kicked your puppy.”

Taking another deep breath, “Well… Steph.”


Settling back into my seat, I asked the cabin crew to bring me a JD and Coke when they could. Thankfully it was delivered to me not that long into the flight. I downed the drink and closed my eyes – Fuck! I hope I’m doing the right thing – and let the booze and the past few days of sightseeing and enjoyment carry me off to sleep.

When I woke up, my chest, ass, and legs were all killing me from sitting still too long. God, I was hungry! My stomach was growling away like a wild lion! The cabin crew – Erin – laughed at my own shock when my growl started again. “Mr. Spence, you missed your meal. Let me get that for you now,” she smiled sweetly.

“Oh thanks, Erin,” I said, somewhat embarrassed.

I chowed down on the meal and some extra fruit, washed down with a couple of cokes.

After landing I collected my bag and carry on, heading out the terminal building. Shit! Damn it was cold! There was a strong cool breeze outside, and I’d left NYC in shorts and a tee. Hurriedly, I pulled out a top and slipped it on – could have done with some jeans, too, but I didn’t want to strip down and be arrested for indecency or waste time getting redressed and miss the cab.

Anyways, the cab would be warm. I just needed to harden the fuck up. Sure enough, I didn’t have to wait too long. Jumping into the cab, I gave him the address and we headed out pretty much in silence. He was chatty and wanted to know all about my accent and travels. I was more upset about Ben – I just couldn’t get him out of my mind. I wasn’t very chatty and actually apologized at some point for being sullen.

I’d had a long chat with Steph at JFK airport. She was amazing, as usual, and helped me confirm what I was thinking. Then she started to give me crap because I looked half-starved. What was Mom doing-couldn’t she see that I was thin and stuff?

I told her about the shower at the hospital, including, obviously, Mom’s reaction when I came back in. Apparently, an extra serve of food wasn’t enough, according to Steph. She knew how quickly at times my body would burn up reserves. Plus, a month of limited exercise and ”d lost some muscle tone too. With a smile, I happily told her that I’d started to regain some weight now that I was into the protein and carbs. She seemed happy with that, well, for the moment.

The cab stopped pulled me back to reality. It was dark out – not much street lighting. At first, I wondered if I had given him the wrong address, and voiced that. The driver pointed me to the satnav screen. “Yeah-okay-nope, that’s the right one. Sorry, mate.” I felt somewhat stupid.

After apologizing again, I got out, grabbed my bags, paid him and sent him on his way. I stopped for a moment and wondered if I should have asked him to wait. As the rear lights of the cab disappeared down the road, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next.

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