Shooting Matt Ch. 22

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Liam returns to the resort and to Matt.

Thanks to LarryInSeattle for his help with editing.


“You okay, sport?”

“Huh? Uh, yeah. Sure.”

Mary Beth nods. Her son is clearly not ‘okay’. He’s been silent since they left his dad’s. She understands, or she thinks she does. Liam grew up in that house. He spent very little time with her. Her old self resented that fact, viewing it as another aspect of how Randy was conspiring against her. Now, she is grateful for the fact. Liam has enough bad memories to deal with as it is.

“I wish we had more memories, more good memories, like the ones you must have had with Randy in that house,” she offers.

“We have some good ones. Remember the birthday cake?”

Mary Beth laughs. “Oh, good Lord, I’m not sure we can count that as a good memory, sport.”

“We laughed, didn’t we? It was a good time. And the time you tried to cut my hair? Okay, I didn’t think it was funny at the time but have you seen the pictures? Holy Batman. It was ahead of its time. Pun intended.”

“You have pictures?”

“Yeah, dad made a point of taking pictures, telling me he loved it. In fact, I think he did, in a way.”

“Hmm, I hope you’re right. I’ll scratch that one off the list of things to regret. You’re a good kid, a great kid. You’re going to be a good man, too; like your dad. I don’t want to get all mopey on you but I do wish we’d had more good times, me and you, the three of us.”

“I know. So, do I but it is what it is. I’m just glad you’re better now.”

“I am better now. Who would have thought, after that total disaster of a birthday cake, I’d be the assistant baker in a two-person bakery?”

“Really? Right? But, mom, get real. Glenna pretty much has you running it, doesn’t she?”

“Oh, no sir. Not at all. I’m not complaining but she’s still there, every step of the way. She may not always have to tell me what to do but there’s plenty of times I look up and see her nod. If anyone will take over, it’ll be Rosalita. She’s amazing.”

“She is but she’s not any better when it comes to baking than you are.”

“Aw, that’s so sweet, bein’ nice to your momma.”

“I’m not being nice. I’m telling the truth. Rosalita is an amazing cook but that doesn’t mean she’s an amazing baker, two separate deals.”

“Thanks, sweetie. I have a problem accepting compliments. I’m workin’ on it. You’re feelin’ pretty conflicted about your dad sellin’ the house, aren’t you?”

“Renting it, but yeah, I am, a little. I haven’t really lived there for over a year but it was always there, a place I could run to. In a few weeks, someone else’ will be in that room, using that stove, putting their own soda into the fridge. Jesus, mom, what if they’re like vegan organic freaks and drink like, natural, GMO-free, soy juice or some shit like that? What if the Coke I took out of the fridge as we were leaving is the last Coke that fridge ever sees? Fuck. They may totally fuck up the mojo of the place. That house is, what does pop always say? ‘Old school’. It should be full of men and women and kids that know how to change a fucking tire, how to make fart noises with their armpits, and keep the fridge full of Coke, PBR, or Rolling Rock, not a bunch of natural deodorant stinky new-age hippy dorks.”

Mary Beth laughs. She can’t help it. Liam smiles.

“I’m serious, you know.”

“Oh, I know, sport. I know and, truth be told, I agree. Think about this, though. With all the weird stuff that’s been goin’ down the past few weeks, don’t you think the house can take care of itself? I’d like to think that folks with the right mojo, as you put it, will walk in the door and realize they’re home. The, how did you put it? ‘stinky new-age hippy dorks’ will realize their feng isn’t shuiing right and walk away. Don’t you think?”

Liam ponders his mom’s comments, then nods his head. “I think you’re right.”

“Good, one less thing to worry about, huh?” She glances at her serious son, his attention fixed on the highway about to disappear under their wheels. “You and Matt must be doin’ okay, if you’re moving in together?”

“Is that your way of wondering if we’re rushing things?” Liam says, risking a glance and a smile.

“Guilty. I can’t help but worry. I love that boy, I really do. I think the two of you are terrific apart and terrific together, but it seems to me that college romances are almost as bad as high school romances for ending in heart break. Maybe my outlook is colored by my past. College is a stressful time, figuring out what you believe, realizing your parents are as full of shit as anyone else, although you could probably do graduate studies on that topic. Trying to figure out how you fit into this hybrid human construct, ‘the couple’, makes all that even harder. I know you two are head over heels for each other and I’d love nothing more than to be able to tell you that’s all it takes but it’s just not true. It’s hard fucking work. And running into that simple fact is Betturkey often painful, very painful.” Mary Beth sighs and ruffles the hair on the back of her son’s hair. “I sound like an old poop and I don’t mean to sound disapproving. I’m not. I just worry you and Matt’ll be shocked when the reality of how hard it is to make things work when life smacks you in the ass. I’ll shut up now. Thanks for lettin’ me tag along.”

“I don’t mind. I’m glad you came.”

The road hums the miles away. Neither of them pays any attention to the radio. The highway begins to take them more east than south and the hills begin to rise. Mary Beth wishes it would rain; everything is covered with white dust. A nice steady soaking rain would wash the world clean. She closes her eyes and remembers how green everything looks after a nice rain.

“You ever dance in the rain, sport?”

“Not since I was a kid. Dad would let me run around in the yard in my underwear sometimes if there was no lightning.”

“Hmm, I used to do the same thing. I don’t mean to embarrass you but the next time it rains, I’m gonna find a nice quiet part of the resort, strip bare ass naked, and dance in the rain.”

“Sounds cool,” Liam replies, shrugging. His mother can’t see the shrug. Her eyes are closed and she’s five years old, spinning in circles, arms spread wide, trying to catch rain drops in her mouth.

“I do worry, you know. A lot.” It’s the tone of Liam’s voice, the undercurrent of fear she hears more than the words that pulls her back to the present.

“About what, honey? Me? Your dad? You and Matt?”

“Me and Matt. Sometimes I think it can’t be real, it’s too intense, too out there to be real, that we must be fooling ourselves. I mean how do you know if you’re in love, or just want to be in love, or just in love with the idea of being in love? I know he’s not dumb and most of the times it’s kinda funny but the dopey surfer crap drives me nuts sometimes. Can’t I be ‘Liam’ once in a while? Do I always have to be ‘bro’ or ‘brah’ or ‘dude’?”

Mary Beth nods. She rests her hand on the top of his shoulder. “Everyone is going to have something they do that makes you want to smack ’em sometimes. For what it’s worth, I think the first thing you need to do in a situation like that is ask yourself is that thing, that habit, so irritating that it’s a deal breaker? I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk about, that you shouldn’t let Matt know that it drives you up a wall at times. I am saying that it’s very, very hard for people to change. I’m sure he’ll try but if it can’t change enough, can you live with it?”

“It’s not just that, mom. That was just the first thing that popped into my head. It’s not that big a deal.”

“Oh, honey, if it was the first thing that popped into your head, trust me, it’s a big deal. But I get what you’re saying and I wish I had a good answer. I can’t tell you how you know if you love someone; you just do. That’s trite as network news but that doesn’t make it any less true. I have a hard time saying that you shouldn’t periodically assess your life, your relationships, but at the same time don’t start running around in endless circles, trying to figure out every last nuance. Trust your feelings. The time to worry is when you realize you’re spending most of your time trying to convince yourself that your feelings are wrong.”

He nods. “I get all that, mom. My brain hears it but it’s really fucking confusing. I had a crush on Matt through most of high school. Maybe it would have been different if I’d been out and able to date other guys but I wasn’t and I didn’t. I spent all my time wondering how to get his attention, how to tell if he liked me. Was he gay or not. If I pushed too hard would he kick my ass or try to kick my ass. And then, boom, we’re like all over each other. It can’t be that simple, can it?”

“Why not? Simple doesn’t mean easy. You’re already learning it’s hard but yeah, why not that simple? Not every crush is doomed to fail.” She chuckles and smacks the back of his head. “True, 99.9 percent of them are doomed but there’s always the exception. See how it plays out. What else can you do?”

“Thanks, mom, seriously.” He turns to smile at his mother. “That helped a lot. It’s hard to talk to dad, because, well, you know.”

“No doubt your father would’ve handled everything with delicacy and aplomb. That’s one of the things I found irritating about him, that fucking low key, quiet competence.”

Liam threw his head back and snorted. “It does get on your tit doesn’t it? Just once I’d like to see him flabbergasted.”

“Me, too, but remember, he’s probably not as calm and collected as he seems. That’s also irritating, the way he holds things in if he thinks doing so is best for the other person. I swear, and I don’t mean to sound like I’m blaming Randy for anything, ’cause I used to do even crazier shit just to see if I could get him to blow up, scream at me, something.” Her voices tails off. Liam glances at his mom. She looks Betturkey Giriş ready to cry. “I used to hope I could get him to hit me, so I could hold that over him. God, what a fucking horrible cunt I was.”

“Stop it!” Liam’s voice is hard and cold. His tone is mitigated by the soft hand he rests on top of his mom’s. “Do not ever, ever, call yourself that in front of me again, fucking ever. You were a mess. You were a huge pain in the ass. You were a junkie and junkies fuck shit up. You could be pretty horrible at times but that shit’s in the fucking past. You think I never got so frustrated I didn’t wish he’d hit me, or you’d hit me, so I’d have proof you were both assholes and I was a poor mistreated, misunderstood, suffering martyr?”

Mary Beth sniffs a few times and nods. “Okay. You’re right. Sorry.” And a moment later, “Thank you, Liam. I love you.”

“I know. I love you, too.”


“Brah, you okay?”

“Matt, can you call me Liam? I mean, I don’t mind ‘brah’ or ‘bro’ or ‘dude’ once in a while but not all the time. Okay?”

Matt steps off the porch and puts his arms around his friend. “Liam, what’s wrong? Come on. Let’s go inside.” He looks over Liam’s shoulder. “Mary Bee, would you tell Leon I’m going to miss our session this afternoon. I’ll make it up after supper.”

“Sure, honey. I’ll see you boys at supper.” She blows them a kiss only Matt sees and heads down the hill.

Once they’re inside the cabin, Matt leads Liam to the rumpled bed. “Liam, lay down. You want water, a beer?”

“Do we have any Coke?”

“One Coke coming up.”

When Matt returns, he’s carrying two cans. He sets one down, pops the top on the other, and hands it to Liam, who remains sitting on the edge of the bed. Matt sits beside him, ignoring his own soda.

“What’s up, dude? Sorry, Liam.”

“Dude, dude is okay once in a while, just not all the time, okay?”

“Sure, it’s just a habit. I thought it was sort of funny, that you liked it.”

“I do. It’s not that. Oh, fuck, I don’t know. It’s nothing.” He starts to rise but Matt stops him with a hand on his arm. “Liam, it’s pretty fucking clear it’s something, even if it’s something you can’t quite figure out.” Matt looks troubled. “Or is it you know what it is but don’t want to say it. Are you breaking up with me?”

“What?” Liam jerks his head to look at Matt whose face is a textbook photo of dismay. “No! Why would you think that? Do you want to break up?” Liam puts his head in his hands. “Oh, Jesus, that’s it, isn’t it? You were feeling sorry for me. Poor Liam and his addict mom and his school-girl crush. Now the pity’s run out, hasn’t it?”

“You are so fucking full of shit, you dumb mother-fucker,” Matt snarls. “Feel sorry for you? Why? I knew your mom had problems, so do most people’s parents. You got an awesome dad, a house, a car. What the fuck in your life would make me feel sorry for you? Jesus! You’re the one that came in here, head hanging down, looking guilty. Why wouldn’t I wonder if you’re about to dump me? I don’t fucking feel sorry for you. Jesus, what a fucking idiot.” Matt jumps up and starts for the door.

“Don’t go. I’m sorry. I’m all fucked up. Please sit back down.”

Matt scowls over his shoulder. The scowl stays but he does return and sits on the edge of the bed.

“I’m freakin’ out about dad renting out our house. I’m freakin’ out, a little, about us, trying to figure it all out. Part of that, is why a big-time jock, funny, gorgeous and smart, is hanging out with me. I’m not a jock. I’m not gorgeous. I’m more a smart ass than funny. I’m pretty smart but smart doesn’t count for a lot when it comes to getting a boyfriend. So, I’m sorry. I admit it; sometimes I’m super insecure about us. I try not to be but I can’t help it.”

“You’re a fucking moron. I’m with you because I enjoy being with you. You’re a fucking pain in the ass but you are funny and smart. And yes, gorgeous. You won’t believe that; there’s not a lot of reason for me to keep saying it, but you are. You’re fun in bed. Most guys would love to have a boyfriend like you, if you don’t believe that, that’s your problem, not mine. If you want to make an issue out of not believing it, then it becomes our problem.” Matt stands. “I’m going to go do my work out with Leon. Why don’t you take a nap or go for a walk or something? I’ll see you before supper.”

After Matt leaves, Liam rolls into the bed and pulls a pillow over his head. It’s Matt’s pillow. He can tell by the scent.


“Uh-oh, that doesn’t look good.”

Glenna looks up and sees Matt walking toward the lake, head down. She looks at Mary Beth. “What’s wrong? He’s heading down for his session with Leon.”

“Yeah, but when I left them five minutes ago the plan was for him to skip the session until after supper, so he and Liam could catch up. Besides, he’s upset. You can see it in the way he walks.”

“Um, first lover’s spat?”

“That would be my guess,” Mary Beth says Betturkey Güncel Giriş with a sigh. “Liam is twisting himself into knots. He’s not happy unless he thinks he has every aspect of a particular thing figured out. He’s discovering relationships don’t work like that. They aren’t computer programs that can be de-bugged or a motor that can be fixed by replacing a spark plug.” She looks at Glenna. “Do cars even have spark plugs anymore?”

“Beats the hell outta me.” She bumps her new friend with her shoulder. “They’ll be alright, one way or another. There’s nothing to be done for it but ride it out and see where it ends up.”


“Has the lake done something that’s made you angry?”

Matt looks at Leon, confused.

“You’re not swimming. You’re beatin’ the hell out of the water. Are you angry with the lake?”

“No,” Matt snaps and turns away, swimming hard towards the swim platform. Leon lets him swim himself to exhaustion. The kid can barely haul himself up onto the dock. He rolls onto his back and pants. Leon, sitting on a chair, regards him with what would appear to be no more than casual interest.

Realizing that Leon has no intention of asking him again if there’s anything wrong, Matt concedes defeat with a sigh. “Liam and I had a fight.”

“Did he punch you in the mouth? Break your back?”

“No! We argued. It wasn’t a fight, fight.”

“I punched you in the mouth. I broke your back.”

“Yeah, so?”

“So, if I did that to you and you can lie here and talk to me, why aren’t you talking to Liam?”

“Because, Leon, as you may recall, I didn’t go out of my way to have a conversation with you for quite some time. I’m not pissed at you anymore. I am still pissed at Liam. Pretty simple, huh?”

“Why so mad?”

“I’m tired of him acting like this is all an act, that I can’t really luh…like him. That I feel sorry for him or just want his dick or something. What about me? Why shouldn’t I worry about the same shit? Huh? How do I know he’s not just fucking the dumb jock until he can find something better?”

“You can’t, not really, but you don’t really worry about that, do you?”

“No, Liam’s not like that but, oh fuck, can we drop it?”

“Sure. You’re running this conversation, not me. You want to do a couple cool down laps?”

“Nah, I’m bushed. I’m not sure I can stand.”

Leon unfolds his long body from the chair and holds out a hand. “Come on, champ. Go take a shower. Talk to Liam.”


Liam is lying diagonally across the bed when Matt walks in. He appears to be sleeping but Matt gets the impression he’s faking. Matt strips off his trunks and walks to the kitchen sink. He rinses them out with clean water and then hangs them on the line on the side porch. It’s late afternoon, the people not on the lake are napping or fucking, or maybe simply trying to figure out what is going on with their lives. Matt wonders if the latter might make up a larger portion of the whole than he’d ever realized. Was that part of becoming an adult? Paying your own car insurance? Getting yourself up in the morning? Realizing nothing was ever as simple or easy as you’d imagined?

He stirs himself from his thoughts and goes back inside. He grabs two towels from the bathroom and crosses to the bed. It hits him that he now thinks of it as ‘our bed’ not ‘the bed’. The thought makes his stomach queasy but it also helps him make up his mind.

He sits on the edge of the bed. “Liam? Wake up. Come on, you’ll feel better after a shower. Come on.” Liam doesn’t stir. “Come on, please. I’m not pissed anymore but it bugs the shit outta me that you don’t trust me when I say I want to be with you, that I love you. That’s all. I’m not planning on leaving you. But the look on your face and the way you were talking made me worry that’s what you were getting ready to tell me.” He waits a moment then rises. “Okay, take it easy. I’m gonna go shower. I’ll be back and we can figure out what we’re doing for supper. Maybe we could head into town, take a break from this place.” He’s halfway to the door, wrapping the towel around his waist and working one foot into a flip-flop, when the bed squeaks.

“Hang on. I’ll come with you.” Liam looks at him and raises his eyebrows. “You just taking a towel?”

“No way, dude. I got my soap and shampoo.” Matt grins as he holds up the once-red plastic pail that holds his toiletries. Liam pulls off his shirt and shorts and finally his underwear. Matt points to the second towel on the back of the kitchen chair. Before he picks up the towel, Liam puts his arms around Matt and squeezes him tightly. “I’m sorry,” he whispers against Matt’s chest. “I’m really trying not to be such a fucking basket case. I’m not trying to tell you I’m leaving. I’m trying to tell you I can’t wrap my head around being this lucky. It seems too good to be true. I keep waiting for the shit storm to hit.” He pulls back and kisses his friend. “I don’t mind if you call me ‘dude’ or ‘bro’. It’s cool, but I do like hearing you say my name sometimes.”

Matt kisses him back. “Right on, Liam.” He squeezes his lover as best he can with a towel in one hand and a shower pail in the other. “Don’t make my dick hard, bro,” he whispers, smiling at Liam, “not yet anyway.”

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