It’s been two months since John revealed his secret to me. There were many questions still running through my mind. Why did John and Lecia get marry? If he is gay and she was a lesbian how did they have a child? Why did they have a child? Was he friendly to me because he liked me more than a friend? How did I not pick up that he was gay? He was not very feminine like the typical gay man but now that I look back there were some signs.
This whole thing was confusing. There were classmates at my high school (Campion) that many of us suspected were gay. We had no problem with them.
I wondered if Steven knew about the whole “thing”. He was the one that introduced me to John. I wondered if I should ask him. How would he react if he never knew? Like the typical Jamaican male he had some strong opinions against gay men. We once saw some gay men while we were out clubbing on Miami Beach. He mentioned “fya bun fi all battyman”. Maybe I should not mention it to him.
Perhaps the biggest question I was what should I do? Should I continue my friendship with John?
There was no avoiding John. Part of the deal I made with him when buying my townhouse was he would help me find a renter a month after I moved in. He had clients that would come to him who did not qualify for a mortgage because of bad credit or needing to build credit. Many of them needed an affordable place to rent while they rebuild their credit and save some money. He was going to recommend my place to these clients. I told him to give me two months to settle into the place and get things sorted out before I would take a renter.
John called as I expected he would. He was always timely as a business man.
“How are you doing?” he asked.
“Okay,” I replied. It felt awkward.
“Let’s clear the air”, John stated. It did not take long to start a discussion.
It seemed he knew every question in my head and ever stereotype I had about gay men. He went in to details I did not want to hear. He explained that he and John tried to live a lie. They conceived a child together to cover the lie. He also said he was not attracted to his friends. He told me Stephen did not know and he wanted to keep it that way.
Now you have a decision to make. We can continue being friends or you can walk away. The one thing is we still have business to complete. I have someone who wants to rent the room in your house.
I did not know how to respond. The one thing I always liked about John was he was always upfront and honest.
When can I bring the person to see the place?
I was still thinking about all he said.
“Are you there?” he asked.
Yes! I replied
“So, when can I bring the person by,” he asked again.
I gave him a date to bring the person by. It was an older Jamaican man who migrated recently. He liked the place. We agreed on a price and he would move in within a month. For some reason I started to wonder if he was gay, I was now paranoid.
He would make a deposit with John within a week.
John called after a week. The man was not taking the place. He was moving in with a girlfriend.
It was back to the drawing board. John would try to find someone else.
Hurricane Isabel was headed to South Florida as a Category 1 storm. I was worried. Channel 7 news with their over dramatized newscasters did not help to quell my fears.
In the past I never had to worry about protecting my property from a storm or hurricane. The apartment management would board up the windows or put up the storm shutters. All Sue and I had to do was buy supplies to stock in the house to ride out the storm. This time was different. The townhouse had windows and a glass door that needed to be protected from storm winds.
I was never handy around the house. Growing up I never lifted a hammer or screw driver. My father had a handyman who would fix everything around the house. I remember once following him around the house while he was fixing “stuff” and my mother scolded me telling me to let him do his work. I never had to do anything with the apartment as the management company fixed everything. With a hurricane coming I did not know where to start.
I called Stephen first. I did not get him at home so I tried his mobile phone. He was headed out of town to Orlando to get away from the storm. There was a girl talking in the background.
Next I called Seth. He was pretty handy as I had seen him do projects around his house. He and Krystal were now living together before they moved to Jamaica.
“Did you buy plywood yet?” was the first question Seth asked.
“No” I replied
“Dude, you need to get your a** down to Home Depot now to get some plywood” before they run out.
I embarrassingly asked him what type of plywood and what size. He laughed before telling me what to do. He would not be able to help me. He had to protect his house but would check on me later. He told me to tie the plywood on my car roof. I was not too happy about doing that. I did not want to scratch my car.
As I was about to leave the house the phone rang.
It was John.
“Are you set for the hurricane” he asked.
“Yes”, I replied.
“You sure”, he pressed.
I really did not know what I was doing.
“Ahh. I was going to get some plywood to board up the windows” I replied
“Do you need help. I have a truck you can pick the plywood up for you” he explained.
“Okay” I replied reluctantly. At this point I did not care who could help me. They could be green and from another planet, I needed the help.
John came over with a truck.
“Lecia cooked today and sent this for you” he quickly handed me a bag with 2 pirates dishes of food and entered the house. He took out his tape measure and started to measure the windows.
“Eat first then we can go. You will need the energy”, John said with a smile.
It was stew peas and white rice. Lecia had the best stew peas I have ever tasted. She knew it was one of my favorite dishes. Before the secret she always would send food for me with John.
After I finished eating John took me to Home Depot. He knew exactly what to get. He had brought a power drill to attach the plywood to windows and doors. We were finished in about an hour. During the whole time we had a easy conversation with no mention of the “secret”. At no point did I feel he was patronizing me or trying to win my friendship. It was just John being John. The wind and rain had started.
“Thanks John”, I told him after we put the last piece of plywood up.
“No problem”, he replied as he walked back to his truck to go home.
I closed the door to sit out the storm.
Seth called to check on me. I told him everything worked out. He would not have made it anyway because the weather was starting to get nasty.
As I “rode out” the storm alone that night I thought about John. He had protected his home and then came and did mine. Before he revealed his secret to me he was a friend I could depend on. He was still that friend. I did not agree with his lifestyle but I could not change him or Lecia. He was a friend I could count on and that is all that mattered.