Until the Rain Ends
© by the author
David awoke in a strange room to the sound of a heavy rain beating against a roof and gurgling down drain pipes. He was lying on his side on a mattress placed directly on the floor. The thin mattress did little to cushion his body from the rough floorboards underneath. An arm was draped loosely over his torso; the rest of the body was pressed against his back. To judge from the other person’s breathing and the relaxed state of his arm, he was still asleep. A small, curtainless window at the other end of the room let in a dim, grey light. As he watched, a droplet of water streaked crookedly down the glass, joining with other drops and gathering them into itself.
He raised his head cautiously and looked around, careful not to disturb the person whose bed he was sharing. The room appeared to be in the attic of an old house. It couldn’t have more than 15 feet long by 10 feet wide. Overhead bare rafters supported unpainted boards. The steeply pitched roof met the floor at an angle along the two long sides of the room. There was no room to stand up fully except in the center. The occupant of the room apparently had few possessions. Three plastic milk crates held some neatly folded clothes. Other than the bed, there were only a wooden chair and a small table with some books and a portable typewriter sitting on it. The clothes David had been wearing the night before lay a few feet away in a heap on the floor. The room was cold and damp, and the blanket covering them did little to stave off the cold. The only warmth came from the other body in the bed.
He tried to remember who the other person was. He had gone to The Oasis with Daniel to meet Carter. They had had a couple of beers and chatted. Then Daniel had gone off to talk with someone he knew. Carter went to take a piss and never came back. Some guy saw him standing there alone and tried to pick him up. The guy was okay looking, just not his type. When the guy saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere, he had said, “See ya around,” and then wandered away.
He had spotted someone he knew, Mike something or other. They had been to bed once, and he thought the sex had been good. He was pretty certain of that, but when he had walked over to talk, Mike had barely said hello before his eyes started wandering. He didn’t bother to hide his lack of interest and had interrupted David to say, “Sorry, there’s someone over there I need to talk to. See you later” before walking away.
David had gone to the bar and waited in line to get another beer. He thought maybe he had drunk seven or eight beers in all. He wasn’t sure. He didn’t have a headache, but his mouth was dry and sour and his stomach was queasy. He had vague memories of taking the T and then crossing a bridge and walking through dark streets with someone, but he couldn’t remember anything about the guy he had gone home with. He must be on the north side of the Charles, maybe in Cambridge. The poverty of the room argued that it had to be a student. Please, god, he thought, let it be a student. Someone from Harvard or MIT would be nice for once.
His bladder reminded him insistently of all the beers he had drunk the night before. He slowly lifted the guy’s arm and started to ease himself out from it. The motion disturbed the other man’s sleep and he rolled over, turning his back to David. David stood up carefully, trying not to topple over. His back was stiff, and he wasn’t sure that his legs would support him. David stole a glance at the other guy, but when he had rolled over, he had pulled the covers up over his face. An unruly tangle of black hair was all that was visible.
A sharp twinge in his cock reminded him that he needed to find a toilet and quickly. He left off his examination of the guy and looked around the room. At the other end was a curtained off area, just to one side of the opening in the floor for the staircase. When he pushed the curtain back, he found a toilet and a sink. The toilet was set under the roof. There wasn’t room enough to stand in front of it without bending over, and in his present state he wasn’t sure he would be able to hit the bowl standing up. Besides he wanted to be as quiet as possible. He wasn’t even going to flush the toilet. As soon as he had pissed, he planned on putting on his clothes and leaving. Even when he sat down, however, he had to bend forward to avoid bumping his head.
From where he sat, he could look down the staircase. It was so steep that it would be almost like climbing a ladder to get up and down it. He wondered how he had managed to get up the night before. The stairs looked like they would make a lot of noise, and the door at the bottom might be locked. He considered his options. Either he could rush down the stairs noisily and count on be able to run off before the guy got out of bed or he could tiptoe down them gradually and ease the door open and creep out. He had no idea what was on the other side. In these old houses, he would probably end up on a second floor and have to pass through someone else’s space before reaching a door to the outside. He had no umbrella and no coat. He was going to get soaked, even if he could find the way back to his own apartment quickly.
There was a tube of toothpaste on a shelf over the sink. He spread some on his finger and then ran it over his teeth and tongue. He spat into the sink. He turned the tap until a thin dribble of water appeared and rinsed his hand off. When he turned around, he discovered that he was being watched. The guy had rolled back onto his other side and was facing David. The cover had been pushed down, revealing a muscular shoulder and arm. The curve of his pillow hid part of his face, but the eye that was visible was open and gazing at David. The man was smiling.
He made a satisfied growling noise deep in his chest and then said, “Morning, David. You OK?”
Oh god, thought David. He knows my name, and I don’t have the slightest idea what his is. I don’t have a clue what we did last night or what we talked about. “Fine. I’m fine,” he stammered out.
“What time is it?” The man sat up in bed and stretched. He rose effortlessly from the bed. Clearly he hadn’t drunk too much last night. He yawned and stretched again. He walked over to David and kissed him. “Mmm. Nice soft lips.” His put an arm around David’s waist and pulled him closer. “Nice firm body. Mmm. So much to like.” He began kissing David lazily on the neck. His hand moved down David’s back until it reached his ass. He cupped one of David’s buttocks in his hand and then massaged it, the tips of his fingers pressed into the crack. He seemed very familiar with David’s body.
The guy moaned with contentment and then paused long enough to look out the window. “We’ll have to find something to do until the rain stops. Then we can go out and get breakfast or lunch. Or maybe we can keep busy until dinner.” He grinned at David and pulled him back toward the bed.
For a few seconds David thought about leaving, but his body decided the issue for him, that and the strong pair of arms lowering him onto the mattress and the hard cock pressing against his groin and the joy in the other man’s eyes as he moved in for another kiss. “Did I tell you last night that you’re perfect? You’re the most beautiful man I’ve ever met.”
David didn’t know whether he had been told that and for the next hour he didn’t care. Nor did he care during the hour that followed after they had slept for a while.
“Let me give you my number.” The rain had stopped in the early afternoon, and they had bought lunch at an Italian deli just off Mass Avenue east of Harvard. The guy lived in Cambridge, after all, somewhere south of Central Square. They sat in the deli talking for almost two hours. The owner of the store was from Italy, and he approved of slow meals. Americans always ate too fast. He like to see people linger over their food and talk, especially when they were as happy as these two young men. It was what meals were for.
David tore a napkin from the holder on the table and wrote down his name, David Haslett, and his phone number. “It’s best to call at night. I’m not usually there during the day. Sometimes my roommate is in during the day, but he’ll forget to tell me you called. So it’s no good leaving a message.”
The other man picked up the piece of paper and glanced at it. He pulled the pen from David’s hand, turned the piece of paper over, and then wrote a phone number on the other side. “I don’t have my own phone. This is my landlady’s phone, but she’ll take a message for me. She lives on the first floor. She’s nice, but she’s a bit deaf. You may have to shout.” He handed the piece of paper back to David.
So that’s it, thought David. He doesn’t keep my phone number, and he gives me his deaf landlady’s phone number. Guess who’s not going to call me or return my call if I can persuade some old lady to take a message. And I still don’t know his name or anything about him except that he’s funny and considerate and sharp not to mention great in bed and, god why do the good ones always run away?
The moment before David had been flying, the happiest he had been in months, convinced that he found Mr. Right. Now he had to trudge to Harvard Square and spend 45 minutes getting home on the subway. It was time to cut his losses and end the best evening of his life to date. “Hey, it’s been fun, but I’d better get going. I have a long ride on the T. And I have an essay due on Monday. I need to get started on it tonight.”
“I’ve got work to do too. We didn’t spend much time studying today, did we?” And then he laughed again.
At least he’s happy, thought David. He still didn’t know the guy’s name. He thought about asking, but then decided it didn’t matter. They weren’t ever going to see each other again.
“David, it’s for you.” David’s roommate held out the phone receiver toward David.
“Who is it? Is it my mom?”
“No, some guy. I don’t know who.”
David’s mouth twitched in annoyance as he took the receiver. He didn’t have time to chat today. “Hello?”
“David, hi, uh, this is Nathan.”
David didn’t recognize the voice. It didn’t sound like the one Nathan he knew. “Oh, hi, you got a cold or something? You sound funny.”
“No, I’m fine. It’s Nathan O’Shay. From the weekend before last. We met at the Oasis and then …”
David’s heart stopped for a second and then exploded. For ten days he had tortured himself thinking about that day and what he had done wrong. Everything had seemed perfect until the moment Nathan had handed him back the slip of paper with his phone number on it. That had hurt so much. But he must have done something wrong because—
“I’m sorry I didn’t call before, but I … well, to be honest, I wasn’t sure that you wanted me to call. You were sort of stiff at the end, and you didn’t call and I thought you weren’t interested in seeing me, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you, and I decided to take a chance and see if you would like to go out on a date this Friday. I was thinking we could get something to eat and then maybe a movie. Have you seen the new Monty Python yet?” The words came out in a rush as if Nathan had memorized the speech and wanted to get it all out before David could interrupt.
“But how did you know my phone number? You gave me back the piece of paper I wrote it on.” It was the first thing that came to David’s mind, and he blurted it out without thinking. Even as he said it, he realized how aggrieved he sounded. Way to go, David, he thought, let him know you’re angry about what he did.
There was a pause on the other end of the line. “Oh, that’s simple, it’s the seventh through the tenth of the Fibonacci numbers. Well, the seventh through tenth in the series that starts with zero. If you start with one, then it’s the same as the sixth through the ninth numbers.” Nathan sounded confused that this wouldn’t be obvious to anyone.
David didn’t know what he was talking about. He’d never heard of a Fibonacci number before, but he knew that as soon as he hung up, he was going to find out what they were. And then the answer to one of his questions popped into his head. “You go to MIT, don’t you?”
“Yeah, didn’t I tell you that?”
“I don’t know. Maybe. I don’t remember. My mind was on other things.”
“Yeah, I guess mine was too. It got kind of wild, didn’t it?”
“Yeah, it got kind of wild, kind of wonderful in fact.”
“Yeah, kind of wonderful.” Both of them paused to savor the implications of that. “So about Friday …”
“Yes. Yes. Oh yes, Nathan O’Shay.” His name was Nathan O’Shay. David said it to himself several times.
“It’s raining again. We always seem to pick rainy nights.” David smiled unseen into the darkness. They were in Nathan’s bed again, with the light turned out. It was the fifth night they had spent together. The rain beating against the roof was all that could be heard in the attic. They could have been miles from the nearest house.
“Well, that settles it. You can’t leave while it’s raining. You’ll have to stay here until the rain ends. And the way it’s raining, that will be tomorrow.”
“Too bad we don’t live in a rainforest. We wouldn’t ever have to leave then.”
“You know, it’s always raining somewhere. We didn’t specify where it has to be raining. The rain might stop here, but it’s going to be raining somewhere else.” Nathan tightened his arms around David.
It didn’t seem possible to get closer. David pushed his hand into Nathan’s hair, spreading his fingers apart so that locks of Nathan’s hair covered his hand. He held on fiercely and pressed his forehead against Nathan’s. “Always so logical,” he whispered. ‘Mr. Spock. A Mr. Spock with a permanent case of pon farr.”
Nathan’s answer was a kiss.
They talked for hours that night. Toward morning, Nathan asked, “What are you looking for?”
The hope in his voice was matched only by the hope in David’s heart. “At this exact moment, I am looking for the right words, the words that will convince you to want to see me again. And again. Oh, god, what am I looking for? … I am looking for someone who makes me feel complete, who feels that I make him complete. I want my heart to ache if that person is unhappy, especially if I am the cause of that unhappiness. I want never to look back on tonight with regret and ask what if I had answered your question differently. Is that too much to ask? And now it’s your turn. What are you looking for?”
“I’m not looking for anything.”
“Already found it.”
On November 7, 2004, almost thirty years after David Haslett and Nathan O’Shay first met, their families and friends gathered at the Concord Inn in Concord, Massachusetts, to witness their marriage. The music played during the ceremony gave rise to some comment. A recording of rain falling seemed an unusual choice.