Saturday, March 18, 2017

I Find Dead People All The Time--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Monday, December 17

     I taught yoga, made dinner, and casually told the boys I was having our locks changed. I worried that locking their father out of the house would make them feel creepy, bad. I told them, “I’ve been uneasy about our house’s lack of security for a long time. A locksmith is coming in half an hour to change our locks and put deadbolts on the doors.”
     No reaction. Good.
     Kurt showed up and started changing the locks. When he was done, I mentioned I’d been friends with his brother in high school. Kurt’s brother, Devin, came out as gay after I lost touch with him. He got married before same-sex marriages were recognized, got divorced, and drank to excess. His ex found him dead and bloated in his apartment.
     “I’d meet Devin for drinks sometimes,” Kurt said. “We’d be talking, getting along, then his friends would wander in and he’d pour on this flaming gay act. He could never be regular with me. Be himself the whole time.
     “My dad had a hard time with Devin being gay,” Kurt continued. “Devin invited us over last summer for a barbecue and I should have known something was up. We got there and everything was going well, then some guy showed up wearing something like a diaper. He was skin and bones and had sores all over. He was either dying of AIDs or a meth addict or both. He was sashaying all over the apartment. More guys showed up. The gay pride parade was that day. My poor father was sitting on the couch. I’m sitting with him. Everyone’s looking at us like they hate us. Devin was a big storyteller, so who knows what he told them. I got my dad out of there and took him home. That’s the last time I saw Devin.
     “He wanted to be buried next to my mother. The two of them were close. He used to say she was the only one who understood and loved him. He always talked about how he wanted to die. He was so fucked up. He was trying to get AIDs from his boyfriend. His boyfriend wouldn’t sleep with him because he was sick. Devin wanted to get it and die with him. I told Devin, ‘It doesn’t work that way. If you get it now, he’ll still go before you.’
     “His ex found him dead sitting in a chair in front of the TV with a six-pack next to him. He’d already had one and was working on another. He was fat. Probably had a lot more to drink before the first six-pack. He died of a heart attack.
     “My father is willing to put Devin in his cemetery plot next to my mother, but his ex won’t give us his ashes. Every time I ask to meet him at the apartment he tells me he can’t deal with it. I know it must have been terrible finding him dead. I find dead people all the time.”
     “You do?”
     “I get called to open doors to homes and find dead people inside. Happens a lot. I’m used to it. I don’t know what to do. I’m sorry for venting.”
     “I’ve been venting, too, lately. It helps.”
     Kurt nodded.
     He left and Tom asked, “Did the locksmith give you extra keys?”
     “Yes, but you’ve already lost two.” Kurt warned me not to give Tom a key because JB would get it. “You’re not getting one. I’ll leave the door open if I’m not home.”
     “Okay,” Tom said, disappointed.
     When Blake got home from the gym I slipped him a key.
     “I hope your father never puts you in this position, but if he asks, please don’t give him a key.”
     Blake gave me a withering look. “Really? That’s insulting.”

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