Andy: Close

So you think Andy is gay?, Irene says to me on the phone, apropos of nothing. I don't know; I say, I don't think Andy knows either. Irene laughs a bit. Not bad, she chuckles. We'll make an honorary girl out of you yet. I laugh, too, and then she realizes the irony of her words, and it turns into another of our laughter epidemics. When breath has been recovered, I spring my news, though it hardly counts as much of a surprise. Benny is crazy as ever, but these days they like to call it "visionary," and besides, I know I'll never be bored if he's running the show. My sister sends me a giant cookie, by way of Irene. The frosting on it reads "Try not to bankrupt this one, too, eh?" Irene and I eat what we can of it, give a few bits to Chester, and she sets the remainder aside to take in for her students. Her car battery dies again, Chester disembowels another in his long line of squeak toys, I make the most of the sunshine and my unanticipated little vacation. And then I go in, to pick up my CDs and coffee mug from work, to seal in one last set of memories.

The butcher paper is gone, and so are most of the desks and partitions. My computer has been removed, but they've carefully gathered my personal stuff into a little pile on the now-empty desk. Matt is apparently already in New York, and two other guys from the client team are going, plus Berman and the execs, but most of the folks have pulled a me. I put my stuff into a paper bag, a bit gingerly, and I sort of sense something, and I look up and Andy's there, where my cubicle wall would have been. A shuffling of feet, a clearing of throat. I'm, going, he says, pronouncing his commas, to New York, that is I smile for him and say again, Yes, good. Good for you. More shuffling, and then Andy says, Your apartment building, your intercom has four-digit dialing codes and a blue backlit display, right? I think for a bit, yes, from the time he and Irene and I had takeout Chinese after going hiking, he remembers. Uh, yes, but why?. He raises a finger, then continues: if you dial the intercom from your cell phone -- buzz yourself in your apartment to get the number -- if you pick up the handset yourself you can hit the number on your cell phone -- it should be 5, I think -- and that'll buzz the door open. I look at him again, floppy hair and black T-shirt. Slowly and clearly, I say to him, Andy. When you do your laundry, do you sit and watch the machine to make sure nobody takes your clothes? I gather up my bag and we walk to the door in silence. No, says Andy, and I can tell he is thinking on it. He is young still, and learning, and there will be time for him to crack the protocol of his own heart. Good luck, I say to him, and he he raises a hand, palm-out, half-wave. Hail and farewell. I return the gesture. Hail and farewell.

Back home, Chester is being finicky about his food. I shake the dish a bit, and he shows more interest. Cats. Irene comes over later, we cook dinner and she tells me about her day, about her one student who draws full-scale architectural plots for the graphics on his term project, and her other student who hadn't realized you could write to floppy disks. She's chopping carrots and chattering away and I'm kneading her shoulders and making deliberately dumb side comments, it's so wholly right, and look, Chester's finally eating his food and there he goes batting his new toy. We leave the dishes piled by the sink and watch a movie. Irene shifts against me, nuzzles inside the arc of my arm, her cheek to my shoulder; Chester bats a lazy eye and returns to grooming himself. I can smell her shampoo and her day's built-up scents, rich and alive. From inside my contentment, I think for a moment of Andy. Love, and comfort, and understanding. All these things come to us on a schedule known only to themselves, and yet they will come.

This is the final installment (out of ten) of the story "Security Guy." Click on the link for a complete version.