A Life Discovered

by Bensiamin


Bailey had fed Walter and was putting a casserole in the oven when he heard the garage door open and then close as the Audi pulled in. In his peripheral vision he saw Walter raise his head attentively. A minute later the door to the kitchen opened, and Walter stood up and trotted to the door to be properly greeted.

Bailey turned to the door, dropping the hot pot mitts onto the counter and saw Eric, who had knelt down to greet Walter. He said, "Hi, angel. How was your day?" He then stepped over to put his arms around Eric's waist and kiss him. His coat was cold against Bailey's chest after working in the kitchen, and he shuddered, then pulled his boyfriend closer.

He felt Eric's lips nuzzle his ear and softly say, "I love the way I feel when you call me angel."

Bailey giggled. "Well, you should be used to it by now. You're my angel in all the best ways. You've been my protector and guide and lover, so there you go." He stepped back and said, "Drop your coat and get a glass of wine and help me with the rest of dinner."

Eric came back in a minute, poured himself some wine and asked, "How did Walter get along with the new doggy door set up today?"

Bailey grinned. "He was inside the garage and happy when I got home, and he'd obviously been out a few times. I could tell by the tracks and the yellow snow."

"We'll have some grass reseeding to do in the spring, and probably piles of dog poop we missed to pick up as well."

"Yeah, that's the price we have to pay." He turned to Walter and scowled. "Walter. Do you know what a pain you are? How much effort you take? How lucky we were to buy a house with an insulated garage?"

Walter had returned to his dog bed, but lifted his head at the sound of his name. He wasn't interested in moving off his dog bed again, but appeared to smile as if he understood and took for granted that human beings were supposed to provide those types of services in addition to food.

Eric sniffed the air. "I smell Mexican chicken casserole."

"Oh yeah! Help me do the salad and then all we have to do is dress it and warm up the tortillas."

"And we have plenty of that lime and cilantro cream sauce?"

"We do. If we didn't I would have made something else. You don't think I'd let you down like that, do you?"

"No way, Jose." Eric wrapped an arm around Bailey's waist and said softly, "I'm just checking. Have I told you how happy I am that we're now living together in our own house?"

Bailey tipped his head up as if he was calculating. "The answer would be yes for each and every of the thirteen days since we moved in here."

"And now we get to spend our first Christmas together in our new house. How great is that?"

"Pretty great, if you ask me." When the salad was prepped, Bailey picked up his wine glass and nodded toward the living room as he said, "I still don't believe the timing, that we could sell dad's house and find this one halfway between Auburn and Syracuse." They sat down together on the couch directly across from Eric's stereo cabinet. Bailey had The London Philharmonic's orchestral album of Pink Floyd music playing. Walter followed them in and hopped up on the couch next to Eric. He circled twice and dropped his chin on Eric's thigh, looking expectantly back and forth between them."

"I have to admit I looked down my nose at Camillus, but that's a Syracuse snob thing. It made the house more affordable and splits our commutes just about in half. All that on top of having a fenced back yard, and that we could get that contractor to modify the garage for Walter."

"Yep, amazing timing. The contractor, however, was all you. It helps being an architect who knows who to call." Bailey went on, "And Walter seems very happy with having his own backyard with a doggie door into his own heated area in the garage. Dad would have called it decadent and hardly becoming a dog that considered himself an upstanding representative of the breed."

Eric was stroking Walter's head and replied, "Don't be picking on him. He's a fine and upstanding dog. I'd argue that he might actually restore the breed's reputation because he doesn't howl or bray. Do you, boy?"

Walter raised an eyebrow as if he understood he was the subject of the conversation, but also couldn't be bothered to be involved in it. They talked about their day as they sipped their wine, and Bailey told Eric that the dashboard was now formally up and running and Everett was happy and satisfied. "He's already shown a pre-release version to his counterparts at a meeting in Chicago early this week. He said I should be prepared to go with him on one of his next corporate meeting trips to show it to the other division CEOs."

Eric smiled at him. "That sounds great, except for the part about going to Chicago in January. The weather is even worse than here."

Bailey grinned knowingly and said, "The next meeting isn't going to be in Chicago?"

"Oh, no?"

"Nope. There's another corporate acquisition in the making, a company in Arizona, and they're going to have the meeting in Scottsdale at some resort, so the execs can visit the company. Visit the company and play golf!" He leaned over and said softly, "Fancy a trip to Arizona next month?"

"How do we do that?"

"Easy. You fly down on the last day. Everett knows we're together and he suggested it. He said if you're in that I can extend my reservation at the resort at the corporate rate, and we'd just have to pay that part."

"He's a cool dude. I've got unused vacation days and getting out of central New York in January sounds very attractive to me."

"I'll fill you in on the dates as soon as I hear." The timer went off in the kitchen and Bailey stood and extended his hand to pull Eric to his feet. They walked to the kitchen hand-in-hand, with Walter padding behind.

After they'd done the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen, Bailey poured them both another glass of wine and they walked back to the living room hand in hand, Eric saying, "We're so domestic."

Eric put on the Juan Carlos Jobim album of greatest hits, keeping the mood soft but upbeat, and as "A Girl from Ipanema" played, he said, "You know how lucky we are, right?"

"I think about it every day. Compare where I am now with where I was a year ago. My girlfriend was breaking up with me and moving out, and for a while I thought life was going down the tubes."

They talked about getting through those months and how Bailey had made it, then Eric said, "And then along comes summer and this very cute guy with wavy brown hair suddenly starts showing up at the Friday morning project meetings."

"You have no idea how nervous I was. This was…I mean, still is, my first real job. And Everett was handing me all this responsibility like he had it on good report that I had my shit together."

"He was right."

"Well, let's not make that call too soon. And, Mr. Tester, for the record, you're biased in your assessment."

"Why? Because I thought you were cute?"

"Well, yes. And, because it didn't take me long to figure out you had designs on me."

"Of course, I did. Who wouldn't? You were trying to be so serious but were clearly working through a ton of shit."

Bailey leaned across Eric, giving him a brief kiss as he did so, and stroked the top of Walter's head again laying on Eric's thigh, and said, "Yep. And then you took me out to dinner, and we ended up on that pier for a kiss that burned the soles of my feet."

"Which fortunately for us, Adrian capture with his camera."

"And was cool enough to tell us about and share with us."

"That was totally amazing."

"You understand that you helped me sort through so much of my stuff…and here we are…on the other side."

"The other side with our own house and dog and my parents thinking you're the best thing since sliced bread."

Bailey grinned. "Your parents are totally cool. I love them to death. That said, think about where we are. It's almost the middle of December. Christmas is around the corner. Tomorrow we're going to buy a Christmas tree. We'll have our friends over and do all that fun stuff, and we'll do it together. What a contrast this Christmas is to last year. I never dreamed it would change and be this good. Since I met you, it just seems to get better and better."

Eric smiled and kissed Bailey's cheek and then sat up. He said, "Funny you should say that. When I was putting all the records away in the stereo cabinet, I saw a lot of albums that I loved when I bought them and some I haven't listed to for a long time. There's one that has this special song I want to play for you."

"Is it as good as Spins ?"

"You'll have to tell me after you hear it." He disentangled himself from Bailey and Walter and stood up, crossing to the stereo cabinet as he said, " Spins was kind of about coming together and the first kiss or two. This one's more philosophical. When I found the album, I re-read the lyrics to this song and realized that when I first bought it, I really liked the guitar arrangement and the riff, and especially Greg Brown's deep voice, but that the meaning of the lyrics went by me."

"I find that hard to believe."

"Why? I wasn't in love then. I hadn't found my soulmate. I hadn't experienced a relationship that started out great and then got better and better." He paused and then said, "You up for this?"

"You're not going to make me cry, are you?"

"I don't think so, sweetheart. I think you'll really be into it. Remember what I said about how songs make you feel the lyrics. That's what this is about. I sat on the floor in here and read the lyrics, and then re-read them a couple of times. Anyway, I just want you to feel some of what's being said in this song, like I do."

Bailey smiled, and said, "Bring it on." Eric put away the Jobim album and put on the Greg Brown record and as he sat back down said, "It's called "If I Had Known." A pretty simple title for a pretty substantive song. Like a lot of love songs, it's about a guy and a gal." He turned to Bailey and smiled seductively, then added, "Just let that part go by and picture me instead." Then he sat back down next to Bailey, handing him the album cover with the lyrics and taking his hand.

A little creek you could spit across
Jimmy and me each took one more toss
Our spinners bright in the evening air
People always said, There ain't no fish in there
Well grownups they ain't always right
Jimmy and me walked home slow that night
Right down Main Street in our P.F. Fliers
With two 5 lb. bass making grown men liars

Jimmy if I had known-
I might have stopped fishing right then
It's just as well we don't know
When things will never be that good again

A hayride on an Autumn night
Well we was 15 if I remember right
We were far apart at the start of the ride
But somehow we ended up side by side
We hit a bump and she grabbed my arm
The night was as cold as her lips were warm
I shivered as her hand held mine
And then I kissed her one more time

And Jane if I had known-
I might have stopped kissing right then
It's just as well we don't know
When things will never be that good again

She was older than me I guess
Summer was invented for her to wear that dress
I knew about risk and she knew about proof
And that night she took me up on the roof
We could see the lights of the little towns
We could watch the August stars come down
Shooting stars, meteorites-
We went on a ride through the sky that night

And, oh, if I had known-
I'd do it all over again
Some things just get better and better
And better than they've already been

Watch the YouTube video of Greg Brown performing If I Had Known


"Wow!" Bailey said, as the last guitar sounds ebbed into the silence between the tracks.

Eric stood up and lifted the tone arm, then said, "I'm glad you liked it. Can we talk about it for a minute?" Bailey nodded.

"I mean more that that wild electric guitar solo in the middle. I mean about the lyrics, the message." Bailey nodded again, waiting.

"We don't have to analyze every line, but you heard the two visual part of the story, right? Fishing and kissing."

"I like kissing better."

"Me too, sweetheart. But that's not the point. The point is that in both cases he didn't know at the time he caught the five-pound bass or later when he had that first kiss and Jane took him on a ride through the sky, that it would never be that good again."

Furrows appeared on Bailey's brow, and he said, "I needed to hear you say that." He paused and then added, "to understand that it can happen, and you don't even know it happened."

"That's what hit me when I read the lyrics again the other day. It's a song about not knowing when things in life have gotten as good as they can get. You know, like if that was the best fishing ever then he might have stopped fishing right then."

"Or if he'd know that the kissing that night was the best ever," Bailey added, "he might have stopped kissing then?"

Eric knelt down in front of Bailey's and took both of his hands in his. "Well, that's a hypothetical. Maybe…maybe not. But a big part of the message is that everything peaks. I guess some things sooner, some later. It's easy to miss when it happens. I've got to believe that, like you said, we're going to get better and better and better. But we live in a finite world, life changes and so do we." Eric paused and his eyes got soft. Bailey thought he could see moisture in them.

"Oh, angel, what are you thinking?"

"That this kind of thing can, likely will happen to us too. I just want us to be conscious of it. Never to stop loving and talking. And to promise each other that we're going to try not to reach that point. And if we do, that we commit to not letting things fall away from there. Fall away from that point when they were the best ever."

Bailey let Eric's hands go and slid his up his boyfriend's chest, across his face and to the back of his neck. Then he pulled Eric close, their lips meeting as Bailey said softly, "I promise. I never want us to take what we have for granted or slip back from the best moments…whenever they happen."

"I love you."

"I love you too, angel. So much. And you know what? That best moment that you're worrying about us reaching some time? That moment is a long way away from us. We're not even close to it."

"That's what I wanted to hear," Eric said softly, as he pulled Bailey tight to him.

Over breakfast, Eric asked, "What time are we meeting Adrian."

"Ten o'clock. We haven't seen him for a month, and he was bummed to learn we were moving up towards Syracuse."

"But he's a good kid, and knows how to capture the vibe with his camera. He did it on the pier?"

"I'll never forget that. It's my wallpaper forever."

"That's how Everett found out about us, isn't it?"

"Yeah, he was amazed when he saw it, and he didn't even have your tongue shoved down his throat!"

"Do we need to give Walter a bath?"

"I don't think so. He got one last weekend, and he's been rolling in the snow. He smells fine. I already checked. We can just brush him and spray some of that cedar coat spray on him. Anyway, this isn't a formal deal, we're not getting dressed up. We're just going to the mall where they've already got a Christmas tree set up with lights and decorations."

"Yeah, going to the mall with our dog to get our first Christmas card photo taken."

"Which just goes to prove that you've made me as conventional as you claim you are."

Happy Holidays - Eric, Bailey, and Walter

AI-generated image by Bensiamin using Microsoft Designer

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