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"All or Nothing - Part 5"
Title: All or Nothing P5
Mike walked into the house, trailed from a safe distance by Davy and Peter. He was tired and angry; and if he never had to visit a hospital emergency room again, it would be too soon. Although he had what he considered a serious injury, he’d had to wait for hours while rich bitches with hang nails were taken ahead of him. By the time he got in to see a doctor, his hand was swollen to twice its normal size and was so sensitive that he could barely stand to touch it himself, let alone have somebody else fuck with it. And as if the waiting wasn’t bad enough, he’d had to fend off questions from the guys about what had happened between him and Micky in the first place.
He’d been very tempted to tell them exactly what had happened – all of it – but for some reason, he kept his mouth shut. Maybe he still felt protective of Micky and felt some sense of loyalty to him and his wishes? Maybe he just couldn’t think about anything except whether he’d ever be able to play again. Hell, he could barely sign his name to the form the nurse had given him; he couldn’t imagine holding a pick right now.
When he finally did get in to see a doctor, the first thing the guy did was make some smart ass remark about how he should avoid picking fights with walls. He then began his examination, and Mike could have sworn that the asshole took pleasure in the amount of pain he was inflicting on him. When he grabbed hold of each of his fingers and moved them around, it was excruciating; and when he forced Mike to spread his hand flat for the x-ray, he thought he would faint. The bastard wouldn’t even give him anything for the pain until after he’d set his hand, which seemed to take forever. Finally, he sent him on his way with a prescription and orders to report back in a week for a follow-up exam.
The doctor had told Mike that, if he followed his instructions, he should recover most of the dexterity in his fingers. All in all, it was an optimistic prognosis given the nature of the injury, but Mike couldn’t help but be worried and depressed about the whole situation. The only good things in his life were Micky and his music. He’d already lost one; if he lost the other, he may as well just swallow the whole bottle of pain pills and be done with it.
Before they even got home, Mike had already ignored the doctor’s first instruction and taken a dose of meds on an empty stomach. He would probably feel miserable as a result; but he already felt miserable, so what was the difference? At least his hand wouldn’t be bothering him.
They walked into the house to find Micky gone. Mike wasn’t too surprised; in fact, he was glad that he didn’t have to deal with seeing him on top of everything else at the moment. There was a note on the kitchen table addressed to all of them, but Mike didn’t wait around to hear what it read. Instead, he dragged himself upstairs and hoped to get a nap before the medication-induced nausea kicked in.
His bedroom was cold and empty. Mike supposed that he would have to get used to the feeling. Once Micky went to Vietnam, it would be like this all of the time… just like his life would be. He tried not to think about it as he lay down, took one of the pillows and placed it next to him, and then gently rested his hand on top of it. The doctor had told him to keep his hand elevated, and he hoped that by doing so, it would stop its throbbing and that he would be able to get some sleep. He glanced over at his bed, the bed where he and Micky had made love the night before, and noticed the folded note that was leaning against the lamp on the table. He looked up at the ceiling and swore under his breath. If he read the note, he would start to forgive Micky, and he wasn’t quite ready to do that yet. Instead, he closed his eyes and waited for the pills to start working.
* * *
Davy looked up toward Mike’s bedroom and handed Micky’s note to Peter. “What do you think this is all about?” he asked.
“Nothing,” Peter replied as he finished reading the note. “Micky went to see his family, that’s all.”
“Not that,” he said. “I mean, what’s going on with him and Mike?”
He shrugged. “You know as much as I do,” he said as he set the note on the table. “I’m sure it’s nothing. Micky hasn’t been himself since he got his draft notice, and you know how Mike can be sometimes. They probably just got on each other’s nerves.”
“No, there’s more to it than that,” Davy said. “Maybe it has something to do with Barbara?”
Peter thought for a moment. “That doesn’t make any sense. I’m sure Mike’s angry with her over what she’s saying about him, but why would he take it out on Micky?”
Davy hesitated. “Did you ever consider the possibility that she’s telling the truth?”
He gave him a skeptical look. “If it was true, Micky wouldn’t have anything to worry about, as far as the draft goes.”
“Unless he doesn’t want to admit it,” he speculated.
“No, think about it,” Davy continued his argument. “Mike started to say something this morning, but Micky stopped him. Something about the two of them…”
Peter shook his head. “You know, it’s this kind of shit that would keep them from telling us what’s going on… if,” he emphasized the word, “that’s what’s going on to begin with.”
“So you think it’s possible?”
“What I think is that we shouldn’t be talking about them behind their backs like this,” he said, annoyed. “Whatever is going on, it’s between them. It’s none of our business.”
“It certainly is,” Davy contended. “This affects us, too. We were in a bad enough position with Micky leaving, but now Mike won’t be able to play for… what, a couple of months?”
“Something like that. It depends on how well he—”
“It doesn’t matter,” he interrupted. “There’s a bigger issue here than the fact that they won’t confide in us. If we can’t work, we can’t pay our bills.”
“You and I can still work,” Peter pointed out. “We can sit in on some gigs, and if worse comes to worse, we can get day jobs.”
“Or we can split the group.”
He looked at Davy, disbelieving. What was he thinking? It was bad enough that he didn’t have any qualms about leaving Mike to fend for himself, but he also had the arrogance to think that other groups would be lining up to recruit him. Peter hesitated for a second, thinking that maybe he shouldn’t say what was on his mind; but the truth was, he and the other guys were getting tired of carrying Davy. If he was going to be a dick about this whole thing, then he should know where he really stood.
“Well, if you can find another group that’s willing to split the money equally with someone who possesses no musical talent whatsoever, then good luck.”
Davy was dumbfounded. Who the hell did he think he was, talking to him like that? Who did they think half the audience was there to see anyway? And who did they think was going to take over Micky’s vocal duties when he was gone? If these assholes really felt that way, then they could go fuck themselves. He grabbed his coat and walked out without saying another word.
* * *
Micky looked out the window of the bus as it sped along the northbound highway. It had been several hours since he left, and he was sure that Mike was back from the hospital by now. He almost called the house the last time the driver stopped to allow the passengers a chance to use the comfort room, but had decided not to. Though he desperately wanted to know how Mike was doing and what the doctor had said, it was not a call that he could make from a public phone with a three-minute time limit. That is, if Mike would talk to him at all.
During the bus ride, between fighting bouts of sleepiness and trying to avoid conversation with the middle-aged woman sitting next to him, he’d been able to reflect on the events of the last several days. He recalled Mike’s words to him, ‘How can you leave after last night? What am I supposed to do once you’re gone?’ It was a classic case of hindsight being twenty-twenty, and Micky now realized that Mike wasn’t as angry about him leaving as he was scared of what his life would be like without him.
He rubbed his eyes and pulled his hands down slowly over his face, finally letting them drop into his lap. It was all so clear now; how could he not have seen it before? He had been so busy worrying about how other people would feel about their relationship that he didn’t think about how Mike felt… or how he himself felt. But was this an actual relationship, or was it just a curiosity that Micky had needed to satisfy?
He couldn’t deny that their sexual encounters had been extremely pleasurable; and if it had happened with a close female friend, there wouldn’t be any problem. In fact, Micky would probably be happy about it and consider himself fortunate. After all, the deepest, longest-lasting relationships were between people who were friends first and lovers second; at least, that’s what he had always heard. He and Mike certainly fit that description. Why should it make a difference that he was a man?
Micky started to recognize some of the landmarks outside his window and knew that he was getting close to his mother’s home. He thought again about what Mike had said, that his mother wouldn’t be too shocked that this type of thing happened sometimes; but whether she would be okay with it happening to her own son was another matter. He hoped that he would be able to hide the fact that something other than the draft was bothering him. If she started to ask him what else was on his mind, he didn’t think he would be able to keep it from her.
* * *
Mike opened his eyes, forgetting for a moment what had happened that day. As soon as he stirred, however, everything came back to him with a vengeance; especially the pain in his hand. He stared at the clock on the bedside table, did some quick mental calculations, and discovered that he was overdue for a pill. This time, though, he would be sure to take it with food, since he was even now feeling nauseous from his earlier dose.
He also saw again the note that Micky had left him. He still wasn’t sure if he wanted to read it, but he didn’t particularly want Peter or Davy to find it, either. He grabbed it and held it in his good hand as he swung his legs over the side of the bed and sat up, promptly giving himself a head rush. God, he was a sorry specimen, he thought. He closed his eyes and waited for the feeling to subside; then got up and walked to the dresser, stuffing the note in his pocket as he did.
He looked at himself in the mirror and wiped the sleep from his eyes. As he finger-combed his hair, he suddenly realized what a challenge personal hygiene was going to be in the weeks to come, especially shaving. Well, he’d been thinking of growing a beard anyway. Besides, he didn’t really need to look good for anybody now.
Mike went downstairs to find Peter sitting on the sofa, talking to himself and playing some tune he didn’t recognize. He shuffled into the kitchen and grabbed a couple of half-stale cookies; the only food that was in close proximity and didn’t require any preparation. He then popped a pill and washed it all down with half a glass of milk. He hoped it was enough to keep him from getting an upset stomach, since he wasn’t at all hungry and couldn’t bring himself to eat any more than that. Not wanting to go back to his empty room, he went into the living room and sat in the arm chair next to the sofa.
Peter stopped playing. “How are you doing?”
Mike leaned his head against the back of the chair. “It hurts like hell.”
He rolled his eyes. “Ask a dumb question…” He set the guitar down and shifted so that he was facing him. “I know you’re probably not in the mood for this, but you should know about the conversation I had with Davy earlier.”
“You’re right; I’m not in the mood.” He raised his head and looked at him. “But tell me anyway,” he sighed.
“We read Micky’s note – you know that he went to visit his family, right?” He waited for Mike’s nod and went on. “Well, Davy started getting all bent out of shape because he didn’t know what you guys had argued about.”
Mike tried to keep his expression neutral, telling himself not to react until Peter was finished.
“Anyway, I told him that whatever’s going on, it’s none of our business,” he continued. “Then we started talking about what we’ll do for money with Micky leaving and you not being able to play.” He chuckled insincerely. “You won’t believe what the little fucker said.”
That piqued his interest. “What?” he asked, sitting up a little.
“He said that he and I should split the group.”
Mike could feel his composure starting to leave him. He stood up and paced around the room. “What did you say?”
“Oh, it was beautiful,” Peter replied proudly. “I basically said that there weren’t too many groups out there who’d be willing to give an equal cut to someone with no musical talent.”
Mike couldn’t help but smile slightly, wishing he’d been a fly on the wall during that exchange. The subject of whether to keep Davy around had come up from time to time; and he was not only glad that Peter had put the troll in his place, but that he had displayed such loyalty to him and to the group.
“Where is he now?” he asked.
“Probably looking for a band that’s in desperate need of a maraca player.”
Mike shook his head. “He does have a point, though,” he said. “Money’s going to be a problem.”
“Money’s always a problem,” Peter said, “but I called my friend, Steve, and he said that I could sit in with the Springfield for a while.”
“Why would he be willing to do that?” Mike asked, his cynical side coming forward.
“He’s a good friend,” he answered simply. “They have kind of a rotating lineup anyway, so it’s not like I’d be displacing anybody.”
“It’s just temporary, though, right?” he asked, trying not to sound as worried as he was. “Once I’m back in the game…”
“Don’t worry, man. I’m not leaving the group,” Peter assured him.
Mike nodded, somewhat relieved. There really was no group to leave at this point; just four guys who used to play together. He absently stuck his hand in his pocket, again finding Micky’s note. He looked at Peter, feeling a little guilty for not telling him what was going on; especially given the fact that he had defended them to Davy and that he was staying with the group when he could easily leave for greener pastures.
“Peter,” he began, “I can’t tell you right now what Mick and I argued about. It’s not that I don’t trust you or anything, but…” He sighed and closed his eyes in frustration.
He was a little disappointed, but nodded his understanding. “It’s cool, Mike. Like I told Davy, it’s between you guys. And now that you’re up,” he said, changing the subject, “I’m gonna head over to Steve’s and rehearse with them for a while.” He grabbed his guitar and headed for the door. “I’ll see you later.”
Mike waved a goodbye to him and then walked over to the bandstand and eyed his beloved twelve-string which leaned, immaculately polished, on its stand. He ran his fingers over the strings and hoped that he’d be able to play it again soon. Chord progressions started running through his head, even though writing a new song was the furthest thing from his mind. He wasn’t really in the mood to be creative, but he didn’t want to forget the melody and went in search of something on which to write it down. As usual, there wasn’t any paper around when he needed it, so he pulled Micky’s note from his pocket.
He glanced over it quickly without reading it until he found an empty place at the bottom of the back side. He then grabbed a pencil and scribbled, as best as he could with his left hand, the chords that were in his head. As he did, he unintentionally read the closing words of the note, ‘I’m sorry again, Mike’.
He sat in the arm chair and stared at the paper, trying to convince himself that he was only looking over the chords he had just written. His eyes, however, kept drifting back to Micky’s words. Finally, he turned the paper over and read the note.
‘Mike, I wanted to be here when you got back, but I had a bus to catch. You probably need a break from me anyway. I know that you think I’m a coward or something because I can’t tell everyone what’s been going on. Maybe you’re right. I just don’t have the kind of independent spirit you have, and yes, I do worry about what people think of me. That may be a weakness of character, but that’s the way I am. I don’t want to get sappy here, but I need you to know that, whatever happens, I’ll always remember the last few days and what we shared. I never meant for things to turn out the way they did, and I never meant for you to be hurt – in any way. I’m sure your hand will be fine. Just do what the doctor tells you. As for everything else, all I can say is that I’m sorry. I’ll call when I get to my mom’s to see how you’re doing. I hope you’ll want to talk to me, but if you don’t, I understand. Anyway, I’ll be back in four or five days. In the meantime, take care of yourself. I’m sorry again, Mike. Micky.’
He crumpled up the paper. It was too much to deal with right now; the group splintering, his useless hand, and now this. Just what the hell was Micky trying to say, anyway? This had all the earmarks of a love note, but he hadn’t actually used the word. But why should he? After all, if Mike had used the word last night, maybe Micky would still be here.
As if on cue, the phone rang. It had to be Micky; but even if it wasn’t, Mike didn’t want to talk to anybody. He sat in the chair and waited for it to stop, but whoever was on the other end was patient. Finally, he got up and walked over to the phone, picked it up to silence it, and immediately hung it up again. After a few seconds, he picked up the receiver and set it on the table; then locked the front door and went upstairs.
* * *
Micky’s heart sank at the sound of the phone hanging up. He slowly put the receiver back on the hook and slid down to the floor, drawing his knees up to his chest and resting his forehead on his arms. He closed his eyes tightly and took a deep breath, trying to hold back all of the emotions he was feeling. His happiness at being home was matched by his depression over the draft and the fight with Mike. Having him – who else would it have been? – hang up on him only made it worse.
A gentle knock came at the bedroom door, followed by the voice of his seven-year-old sister. “Micky?”
He cleared his throat and rubbed his hands over his face. “Come on in, Gina,” he answered.
The little girl came bounding into the room, all freckles and pigtails. Micky couldn’t help but smile as she jumped on him and wrapped him up in the biggest hug she could manage. He pretended that she had knocked the wind out of him and then started tickling her.
“Mom says supper’s almost ready,” she said between laughs.
“Okay, tell Mom I’ll be down as soon as I finish unpacking,” he replied, standing up.
“Mom says you can finish that later.”
He rolled his eyes. Was there ever an age when girls weren’t bossy? “Well then, tell Mom I’ll be down in a minute.”
“Mom says be sure to wash up first.”
He gave her an exaggerated sideways glance. “Anything else?”
Gina thought for a few seconds and then shook her head vigorously, causing her pigtails to fly into her face.
Micky laughed and scooped her up under his arm. “Let’s go wash up, then,” he said as he carried her down the hall and into the bathroom. “You hold still while I fill the tub.”
When he turned on the water, she started kicking and screaming – that eardrum-piercing at-play scream that little girls do so well. The two continued their horseplay until their nine-year-old sister, Debbie, appeared in the doorway.
“Mom wants to know what’s going on up here,” she said, her hands on her hips.
They looked at each other and then back to her. “Nothing,” they answered in unison.
* * *
Mike lay in Micky’s bed, listening to himself breathe. He had been trying to go to sleep, but every time he started to doze off, he heard Micky’s voice saying the words that he had written in his note. When he opened his eyes to silence that voice, they would wander over to his own empty bed.
His hand started throbbing again and the sound reached his ears, resonating louder and louder until he thought that he couldn’t stand it anymore. Then, suddenly, everything was quiet. He heard the doorknob turning and he pretended to be asleep. The door opened and then closed, but the person hadn’t gone away; Mike could feel that they were still in the room with him. He opened his eyes and was shocked to see who was standing at the foot of the bed.
Mike stared at him, trying to bring his features into focus. He wanted to say something – anything, but he couldn’t speak. Fearing that he would disappear if he looked away, Mike kept his eyes on him as he came around the side of the bed and sat next to him. Before he could wonder how this could possibly be happening, he was being kissed; a long, tender, loving kiss that swept him up in a wave of emotion.
All of his senses came alive at that moment. He smelled and tasted what he had come to know simply as Micky; and his depression and anger gave way to his arousal, an arousal more intense than any he had felt before. Micky apparently shared this feeling, parting from him just long enough to take hold of his shirt and rip it from him. The garment had already been ruined when the doctor cut it to put on his cast, so Mike didn’t care. Actually, he wouldn’t have cared anyway. All that mattered was that Micky was here.
He felt a bit awkward, his hand in the cast and his mind still foggy from sleep and pain pills. Micky didn’t mind picking up the slack, though, as he caressed his bare chest. Mike felt him teasing his nipples with his fingertips, and then licking and kissing them. He closed his eyes and sighed, content to let Micky do whatever he wanted to; and daring to hope that he would take on his cock at some point.
When Micky began unfastening Mike’s belt, he knew that he would get his wish. He lifted his ass off the bed as Micky pulled off his jeans and shorts. His cock sprang free and begged for attention, which it was immediately given. Mike thought he was in heaven when Micky took a firm hold of the shaft and began stroking it with a rhythm that was neither too fast nor too slow. It was just the way Mike would have done it himself, and he was impressed that Micky seemed to know exactly what to do without being told. He looked down just in time to see him lower his head; and howled when his warm, wet mouth enveloped the swollen organ.
Somewhere in the back of Mike’s mind, he pondered how Micky could be so good at giving head. It was as if he had already mastered the art; giving such superb attention to his cock and balls that one would have sworn he had years of experience at it. The thought soon left him, though, and Mike threw his head back against the pillow, closing his eyes tightly and thrusting his hips upward. But where he expected to find Micky’s waiting mouth, there was nothing but air.
He forced his eyes open and found himself alone in the dark. He sat up quickly and switched on the bedside lamp, blinking against the light as he looked around the room in vain. His hard on was real, but everything else had been a dream. Dejected, he got up pulled one of the sheets from his bed and wrapped it around him. He lay back down, enveloping himself in the smell of baby oil and Micky’s cologne, and then took one of the pillows and held it tightly to him as he reached down to give his aching cock the relief it needed. He stroked himself clumsily with his left hand for what seemed like an eternity until he finally came. The release was not accompanied by the usual ecstasy; but rather by the inadequacy of being reduced to jerking off while draped in sex-stained sheets.
He never felt less like a man.