Chris – Erick’s boyfriend
Stephanie – Erick’s mother
Dina – Erick’s aunt
Lawrence – Erick’s uncle
Frank – Stephanie’s man friend
“Your mother’s going to be pretty surprised to see you,” Chris says as he sits on Erick’s bed buttoning up his shirt.
Erick tightens the belt around his ever-loosening pair of jeans, a tell-tale sign of the noticeable changes in his appearance since he started working out twice a week with Eugene two months ago.
“What are you talking about?” Erick asks.
“You’ve lost some weight since she last saw you.”
“You think so? I don’t think I’ve changed that much in two-and-a-half months.”
“So says you.”
Erick stands in front of a mirror that leans against the far wall of his walk-in closet. Chris bought it for him about a year ago because Erick refused to buy one for himself out of hatred toward all things with a reflection. “I don’t see it,” Erick says.
“What belt loop are you on?”
“The third,” Erick responds as surprise registers on his face. “Wow.”
“Three months ago I was talking about just getting a bigger belt.”
Chris gets up and walks over to kiss Erick on the forehead. “You’ve done really well. I’m proud of you. You should be just as proud of yourself.”
“I’m proud that I don’t have to go out and get an entirely new wardrobe because I can’t fit anything anymore.” Erick takes a second look at the pants he’s wearing. “On second thought, I might have to do that anyway but at least it will be for the opposite reason.”
Chris chuckles. “We should get going,” he suggests as he walks out of the bedroom.
Erick takes one last look at himself in the mirror. “On second thought, keeping these will leave me room for the inevitable re-growth.”
“My baby is disappearing!” Erick’s mother exclaims when she sees Erick walk toward her table at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles on Gower just north of Sunset in Hollywood. She had driven down for the day with her sister, Erick’s Aunt Dina. Like Erick’s mother, Dina is a woman of a certain age with the looks of a woman of less than a certain age. She and her husband, Erick’s Uncle Lawrence, were in town from Virginia for her class reunion. Also in tow was a man see had been seeing periodically that Erick didn’t like.
“Don’t worry, Mom. There’s still plenty there,” Erick responds as he gives her a hug. He then turns around to hug his Aunt Dina while Chris gives Erick’s mother a hug.
“There’s my favorite nephew,” Erick’s Aunt Dina says.
“What about Brent?” Erick asks.
“You’ve got a little belly there,” Erick’s mother whispers to Chris.
“Erick likes it,” Chris says with a wink and a smile to Erick’s mother.
“When I’m with Brent, he’s my favorite nephew,” Dina responds to Erick.
“Then you’re my favorite aunt…right now,” Erick jokes with a smile as he turns around and greets his uncle with a hug. “Uncle Lawrence…wazzuuuuuppppp."
“Wazzzzzzuhhhhhhh,” Lawrence responds.
Dina, Lawrence and Chris sit down at the table. “Erick, you remember Frank don’t you?” Erick’s mother asks.
Erick offers a closed-mouth smile, a sign to his mother that he’s going to be polite but that’s it. He shakes hands with Frank, a worse-for-wear man of Erick’s height who looks a few years older than Erick’s mother despite only being a few years younger. “How’s your trip so far?” Erick asks.
Frank pulls Erick’s mother closer to him. “So far, so good.”
Erick blinks a few times and clenches his mouth before words can escape. Chris grabs Erick by the wrist and pulls him down into the chair next to him.
As Erick's mother and Frank take their seats, Dina clears her throat to get Erick’s attention, contorts her face and looks in Chris’s general direction. Erick stares back at her in confusion.
“What?” Erick asks.
“Who’s the...um...white gentleman sitting next to you?”
“Oh! You haven’t met Chris yet?”
“Aunt Dina, this is Chris. Chris, this is my Aunt Dina -- mom’s sister. You’ve met my mother. And this is Uncle Lawrence. Do NOT call him Larry. Uncle Larry, this is Chris.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Chris,” Dina responds as she and Chris shake hands.
Chris and Lawrence also shake hands. “Likewise,” Lawrence concurs.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you both,” Chris replies.
Dina leans on the table and rests her chin on the palms of her hands. “And who is Chris?” she asks with a knowing smile.
Erick’s furrows his eyebrows in confusion. He looks over at Chris for some form of elucidation. Chris leans over to him. “She wants you to tell her that I’m your boyfriend,” he whispers.
“Why didn’t she just ask if you were my boyfriend?” Erick whispers back in Chris’s ear.
Dina and Lawrence look back and forth between Erick and Chris.
Erick leans on the table and rests his chin on the palm of his hands. “Chris is my boyfriend.”
“Next time you should introduce him as such,” Dina advises.
“I thought it was obvious,” Erick retorts.
“It is, but I just wanted to hear you say it.”
“And now I’ve said it.’
“Thank you,” Dina says as she leans back in her chair. “Now don’t muck it up with this one. He’s cute.”
“Guilty as charged,” Chris says.
“And Chris, this is my friend Frank,” Erick’s mother adds.
Chris extends his arm across Erick to shake hands with Frank. “It’s nice to meet you.”
Erick looks up from his menu and shoots Chris the same closed-mouth grin he gave his mother earlier.
“Erick, what was that bar you took your grandmother and I to on Mother’s Day?” Erick’s mother asks as everyone finishes up their meals.
“That’s right. It’s this gay bar in West Hollywood,” Erick’s mother explains to Dina.
Dina’s draw drops and her eyes widen. “You took them to a gay bar?”
Erick nods and shrugs his shoulders. “There was no place else to go after we went to the House of Blues Gospel Brunch.”
“It was a lot of fun,” Erick’s mother piggybacks. “There was this teeny-tiny Asian lady who sang ‘Amazing Grace’. She brought me to tears.”
“At a gay bar?” Dina asks.
“No, at the brunch,” Erick’s mother replies.
“How did mom react to everything?” Dina asks.
“She had a ball!” Erick answers. “I was surprised. She was holding court like she invented gay.”
“Oh Erick, your grandmother has been around some stuff – the 1970s was her heyday!”
“Yes, even though she had two daughters at home,” Erick’s mother chimes in.
“At least we were of age to be home alone,” Dina counters.
“No. I was of age to be home alone. You weren’t, which meant I had to be home alone with you.”
“That’s not how I remember it.”
“Of course not.”
A tense moment passes between the two middle-aged sisters as years of unresolved feelings and unspoken words rise to the surface. Both of them offer each other a closed-mouth smile as they repress those feelings and swallow those words for at least another year until they next see each other.
“My God, it runs in the family,” Chris observes.
Erick’s mother snaps herself out of her looks-could-kill haze. “So why don’t we go to Larrabee’s?” she suggests enthusiastically.
Erick looks at Lawrence and Frank. “Are you serious, mom? With a minister and a man claiming he’d know how to turn any gay son of his into a straight man?”
Chris, Dina and Lawrence sit in momentary wide-eyed in silence.
“Why don’t we just go see the stars and the footprints instead?” Lawrence suggests as he rises out of his seat and looks around for a cashier. “I’ll go pay the bill.”
Dina rises up and walks after him. “I’ll pay the tip!”
Chris sits uncomfortably, unsure whether to stay or go.
“You can help her calculate it,” Erick says to Chris, who almost trips leaping out of his seat and away from the table.
Frank looks at Erick’s mother and then back at Erick. “I’m sorry you heard about that, Erick. But that was couple years ago. I really like your mother. And I will come to like everything about her life – including her gay son and everything about him,” he says with a chilling smile as he rests a firm hand on Erick’s shoulder.
Erick stares blankly at Frank’s face. He looks down at the worse-for-wear hand resting on his shoulder. An eyebrow raises. “You can like my mother all you want to, but like is all this will ever be,” Erick replies tersely in the form of an admonishment. He flashes a closed-mouth smile as he slowly rises up out of his chair.
“Funny you should say that because your mother and I have been talking about getting married,” Frank tells Erick as a form of a dig.
Erick pushes his chair under the table. “Talk about it all you want to, but know this much – there are only three reasons she would ever say yes…and none of them have anything to do with you.”
“Erick! You are out of line!” Erick’s mother hisses.
“So is whatever you think this is with him, mother,” Erick replies as he walks away.
Erick’s mother and Frank sit at the table in near shock. “Where’s a belt when you need one?” Erick’s mother says out loud to herself.
Original Fiction from a Sitcom Mind > The Halls of Shambala > I Am Erick Davidson - An Original Short Story Series >