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By Scott Petty
There was this day, a long time ago, tucked away in the deep recesses of his mind, recalled quite often to the front of his thought over and over again. In the annals of his personal history, it was one of those pivotal days, or a moment that seemed to germinate many more curious days yet to be lived. Teenagers are curious creatures. They are people caught in a cross-section of life and they walk through it with eyes wide open but with minds that are mostly blank. There are always more questions asked than answers given. It seems that the adolescent years are spent in writing all those questions, in questioning everything outside and inside. After a couple of decades pass people seem to become content to let the questions simply arise. By the time the twenties end people spend almost no time looking for new questions but only to find ways and means. They finally understand how to use their time more wisely. The questions will organically crop up so they only address the significant ones, disregard the insignificant, and rarely draft their own. Sufficient is the evil unto the day thereof. But only the passage of time will bring that calm and unless that ‘teen decade is handled with some measure of care the future arrives in fragments. In that case, people end up spending the rest of their lives in an attempt to assemble the pieces into a somewhat coherent picture. And maybe they can patch is up and pass the cracks off as artistic lines called ‘character.’ He sat on the edge of his bed at the beginning of another tired day after a night of little sleep. He looked back over his naked shoulder to the bed. It spread out like a vast, empty plain of tussled sheets, swirling around and about. He slept only on one side. The other half of the bed had been settled by a greedy feeling of loneliness. It loomed there like carbon monoxide. All the years he owned the bed it had just been him and the loneliness asleep each night. There might have been a guest once in a while but in the end Loneliness had its way and got its side of the bed back without an argument. That reason alone was why his mind turned back to that day again and again. He wondered (as he often did) if that historic day was not the moment that his life steered away from harmony and plunged into its current state of lonely discord. There was no other day like it. It was the head. Or maybe it was just another symptom and not the cause? There he was: almost thirty and asking questions. His question was solo. He only had one question to ask. It was a question he had ask though. It felt like the beginning of the end. If he figured out where it began, if he questioned it enough, if he prodded and poked at it with doubt and skepticism, then, he thought, all the problems would unravel and he would be able to simply rethread the fabric of his life into a more comfortable existence. Just that one day, he thought to himself as he struggled to shake sleep from his eyes, and I would be living another kind of life. It was a question that fell in the sphere of necessary.
That was when his mind sauntered back to 1996… It was at a time when local record stores were still prolific and offered vinyl and cassettes. Compact Discs had just reached their hay-day. Portable CD players were a status symbol. The internet was still a luxury ergo the protocols that made the digitalization of media standard had not as yet coated the cultural landscape. iTunes, mp3’s: these things were not around during that time. Everyone still had film in their cameras. On that day, in that year, he entered a local bookstore next to an adjoining record store. TOWER BOOKS next to TOWER RECORDS. He had not entered alone though. He had been followed into the store by an older brother—who was about a year and half older—and their father… …As he sat on his bed and remembered the scene again he was still unsure about what brought them to that store; why he had walked in with his brother and father. Maybe there was no particular reason; a chance stop just to see what was being sold? But they were there and that was all that mattered because that was the memory that remained with him untarnished year after year… …It so happened that the trio broke company at one point during their visit. They parted and scattered themselves among the cases of books. The store had been laid out thusly: upon entering a patron first laid eyes upon aisles carved out by book cases approximately five or six feet tall; to the right of the entrance a magazine rack was laid out. It was an “L” shape which hugged the wall. It turned the corner of the store and ran for about six more feet until it ran into the book cases which lined the side and back walls of the store; these shelves were taller. There was an aisle about four feet wide between the magazine rack and another “L” shaped book case which housed novelty and joke books. It was about four feet high. Upon the left side of the store the children’s section was placed with various cases, short and scattered before a bank of tall windows which looked outside. There he was wandering about the various sections. Of the three he was the one with the great love affair for books and the written word. He inspected each spine and exposed cover and tried to write the story in his mind based on the titles he saw. He eventually emerged from the forest of books. He came out facing the magazines. A cursory glance made the whole thing appear to be a huge collage. From where he stood the magazines met with the book cases along the wall. The magazine rack was another five feet long past the corner. The magazines stacked there were of various interests and niches: tattoos to dogs; motor-cross to politics. The rack was two-tiered so below eye-level there were even more publications to behold. But the display underwent an abrupt change. This change happened about three feet from the corner of the store. A dark plastic panel leapt up and ran from the top to the bottom of the upper shelves. Other dark, foggy, plastic panels were there. Every shelf in this segregated section had them. They stood just high enough to cover up the magazines, everything except the title. It looked like a prison for all the naughty publications. This adult section took up approximately four feet of wall space. His curious glance rested upon the forbidden material. He made a soft attempt to tear his eyes away. He grew up in a pious home with parents who were devout in their faith. He had a lot of that instilled in him growing up and although it was but a mere candle compared to his parents’ roaring fire,
he had some of that faith in his heart. But what his eyes dared to consume his faith determined to be forbidden. He was not a boy merely curious to scrape at the first layer of sin. His desires dove past that. This desire was even more condemned by the faith he practiced. His desire was toward men. His eyes sought for the opportunity to see their naked forms; he sought to enjoy their shapes and worship their bodies. An inexplicable longing to consume images of the male body had slowly sprung up in his mind. It had been an issue that had lingered in the shadow of his thought for a large part of his life, but until that day it was not an issue that had a definite form. He never knew what to call it; he didn’t even really know it had been there until that day. He let the silent longing roll out on that day and pursued it further than he had before. But he thought that the pursuit would not be appropriate to begin with his father and brother hanging around in the store. So it was that the father and brother had joined this anxious boy near the front of the store. They had tired of books and indicated that they were going to adjourn to the record store next door to view the music and movies, so by some fortune—or misfortune—they left him to continue browsing alone. Alone: it was a blessing and a curse where he was free to make the choice. He could satiate the burning curiosity within and possibly enslave himself to the desire which he doubtfully would fully embrace or he could rip himself away and then his faith might ignite and roar into full force. As soon as he was left alone his eyes were restored to those magazines and one publication in particular. Over the dark, foggy plastic—which he assumed had been placed there to protect innocent eyes—he saw it. The top of his head, and just a hint of his eyes, had been left unguarded. Under the word PLAYGIRL were words that were printed in a pale royal blue: “90210” and then immediately below was the fateful name in magenta: “Brian Austin” with his last name in green. That was it. He had become ensnared. He took a glance around his settings; practically alone. The clerk was not immediately present. Other patrons—there were at most two others in the store—were off in another corner of the store. It was an opportune time, so he stole to the rack where his target sat; his eyes never left the ones that stared up back from the cover. He reached a trembling hand out and grasped the magazine from its perch. Furtively, he slipped it under his shirt. He retreated to an empty corner near the back of the shop. That part in the story where the hero goes through the great and eternal struggle between his evil nature and the good seemed to be missed on that day. It’s often that in conflicts of ethics or morals, good and evil (right and wrong, nice and mean, or whatever other words are used for the opposing forces), will strive as the hero contemplates. He deliberates on the pros and cons and considers on the consequences of a certain course of action. When this boy reached for that magazine there was a total lack of deliberation; there was not even a pause for consideration. The element of theft had not even deterred him nor wrought upon his mind a second of hesitation. Maybe he had already decided before he entered that store, but whatever the reason he grabbed that magazine without a pause. And once its glossy cover had been secured within his anxious grasp, he knew that it would be going home with him.
It was an absolute truth. There was no room in his mind for concerns about being discovered; getting caught was not a fear that registered. He only had a mind to satiate his flowering curiosity. He snuck off to the back of the store with the ill-gotten magazine hidden under his shirt. Once he stood in a shadowed corner near the back he adjusted his loot so that it sat securely in the elastic of his underwear. The magazine took to the shape of his body; it wrapped easily around his side and faded away like just another layer of flesh. He looked up and saw that he remained alone. There was no one to be seen as he passed through the store with his arm hanging casually by his side. As he maneuvered toward the exit, his eyes were locked upon the door. The store and all the objects therein became mere streaks of undistinguishable colors. He pushed the doors open and hurriedly trotted back to his father’s car. He never looked back. In his mind there was never a second guess or a doubtful glance. He only had an eye and a mind for his destination. He wondered how the bootie was to be smuggled into the house. The car was locked so all he could do was stand there in heavy contemplation about the feast he would soon engage in. His curiosity burned fervently inside. It ranted and roared to be freed. He kept the anticipation in check as he waited for his father and brother’s return from the record/video store. They soon emerged from TOWER RECORDS. It felt like hours to him, but it was but mere moments from when he fled TOWER BOOKS. They looked pleased. He felt dark. Dad unlocked the doors. He slid into the car. The magazine shifted against his body. He felt its corners poke at his body like an ugly reminder of where he was going with this endeavor. It was not down a floral strewn road. It would be sharp like the corners of the magazine that scraped back and forth against his skin. It would not even be a path. It was just going to be a mass of space he would attempt to cross. The drive home consisted of dad’s benign questions about his son’s time in the book store: “did you find anything interesting?” “Did you see anything you liked?” The son offered equally vague replies: “Kind of,” and “nah.” The car eventually pulled up along-side the curb outside their house. Anxiety was renewed. The plunder had shifted from its secure position during the ride home; he felt it. He knew it was no longer secured in the band of his underwear. It had ridden up slightly. He would have to move carefully, when it came time to move, in order to prevent the evidence from spilling out onto the ground. The car stopped. The engine was killed. The doors were opened erratically. They all stepped out. He slid slowly from the back seat with his forearm locked to his side. The publication was pinned in place. He had landed in his room without incident. The magazine had not escaped his clutches. There he stood in the midst of temporary safety. Anxiety was quickly replaced by a beaming sense of anticipation. In all his life his own naked body had been the only one he had ever seen. His own parts were all he had to consider. That was about to change. Up to that point he still had not peeled back the enticing cover. The contents remained a brilliant mystery. He resituated the publication beneath his clothing and
took off to a place of more substantial refuge: the bathroom. The door was shut. The door was locked. He turned from the door and switched on the light. The fan over-head roared into life. The sound added an additional layer of security. He relaxed a little more at the sound of rushing air being sucked away by the whirling blades. He sat down upon the toilet and commenced a visual feast. It is enough to say that his adolescent eyes consumed page after glossy page; picture upon picture leaked into his mind. His breath was drawn from his lungs by what he saw. Perfect men with perfect proportions and divine symmetry were all laid out before him without the obstruction of clothes. He had to look twice or three times to be sure he knew what he was seeing… …That boy, now a man, stood up and shook off the reverie. He scratched his naked shoulder a little as he stood up from the bed. The room rested in gray tones as some morning light seeped in through the tightly closed blinds. His boxers slipped away from his thighs and hung freely above his knees. He staggered from his bed to the bathroom. That memory played in his mind often. He thought long upon it. He noted that the matter had never really been settled nor had it gone away as his parents so desperately wanted. He never admitted it out-loud but he too wanted it to just go away. He longed to have the same kind of simple harmony his family always seemed to enjoy. Question something long enough and intently enough, jabbing at it with doubt and skepticism then it just might go away. That’s what he thought, anyway, as he looked at his tired eyes in the bathroom mirror. He chastised himself for being so pathetic. Alone at thirty he thought to himself, no relationships, no family of my own. He turned the faucet on. He cupped his hands under the cascade and collected a sample of frigid water. He threw it into his face. He let out a gasp as the cold water attacked his pores. He shook his head and scattered drops from his face. He turned back to the reflection. At least, he thought, at least I can still look myself in the eye. If I ever stopped that then I’ve probably given up all together. His eyes, a charming mix of green and brown with a hint of gray, rested for a moment. He forced his eyes to meet their reflection. He studied them. They bounced almost imperceptibly right and left and back again. He looked past the irises and back into his memory. He blamed himself for the sad state of his life at that moment. Or he wanted to take full responsibility but he inadvertently laid part of the blame at God’s feet and maybe an even smaller portion to his parents. His parents: they never had the meddle to confront and take on his confusion… …He found an excuse to return to TOWER BOOKS for additional thefts. He geared up for another visit to TOWER BOOKS. His adolescent mind focused more than it ever had. He had never played chess before. He imagined that it was played something like this: he argued with himself; he guessed his opponent’s answer to his every move and then countered that and then strategized for two or three more moves after until he could only see the end of the debate. His debates included ways to distract his driver from the evidence of his crimes. The power of his curiosity caged any remorse. He knew the wrong he committed. But knowledge was a far cry from feeling. So he continued in his planning.
There came a day that he approached his father, as cool as he could play with the thrill bubbling in his gut, and presented his request for transportation to TOWER BOOKS. The father, unaware at that point of his son’s emerging lusts, conceded to provide the needed transportation. The boon had not been granted freely though. “What do you want to get there,” the father asked casually. The boy never saw the practical, immediate hurdles. He only paid attention to the ones off in the distance or the ones sitting off to the side of the track, the ones that were unlikely to ever arise; those were the kind of plans this boy usually made. His experience in shoplifting made him to start making more practical plans. It was still a work in progress though. He stumbled over the question with many “um’s” and “uh’s” as he attempted to spin a viable response for his father. It became more difficult with each new visit. “Well, uh, I was thinking of getting, um…I saw this, uh, book the other time we had gone?” His phrase turned into a question at the last second. He stuck that inflection in there to test the viability of his statement thus far. “What kind of book?” his father queried, unaware of how he casually punched holes into his son’s plans. “Oh, uh…well, it’s like this kind of um…this funny…uh…joke kind of a book.” Caution signs popped up all over in his mind. He felt his plan sinking desperately into a cold sea. His dad appeared unconcerned with the answers. He had no idea what was going on in his son’s life. But his son watched with anxious eyes as the conversation was considered. He had no idea what the inquisition had to do with a ride to the book store. His anxiety was replaced by an impatient anger of being withheld from his desire. His voice broke into a brave trot: “Never-mind. If you’re too busy or whatever…” It was an abrupt statement to engender some kind of action in his father. It worked. “No, no,” his father said with just a faint whiff of apology. They stepped into the car; it was a small compact 1980’s Toyota Corolla. The paint faded to a creamy yellow. The brown interior smelled of oil. The father ignited the engine and off they went to TOWER BOOKS. His son sat silently intent only on his objective. That kind of focus would have carried him to great heights if he had only employed it in more productive efforts rather than just applying it to obtain pornography. They parked. They stepped out onto the dry, cracked pavement. The young man looked back and forth. He glanced toward the store. His gazed penetrated the windows and sought the number of patrons trolling the aisles. From his position in the parking-lot there appeared to less than a handful. Anything more than a couple would have made the endeavor appear hopeless. He could work around strangers though. His father was the primary distraction. “So I’ll go get the book. I’ll just come by the video store when I’m done?” The plan was built
entirely on the assumption that the Father would find the bookstore an undesirable venue and would stroll into the video/record store instead. The young man knew his father well enough that the assumption was safe. “Yeah,” his father said with a slight hint of boredom. “Just come find me when you’re done. I’m going to check out the videos.” They parted ways. The mission was afoot. He swung back the glass door and shyly entered the store. The lie he had concocted for his father was quickly flung to the back of his mind. There was a careful map drawn out in his head which he brought to the forefront of his thought. It dictated that he first peruse various aisles. He kept his eyes focused on the books. Eye contact was avoided at all costs. His peripheral vision picked up a clerk behind the cash register to his left in service to a customer. A man with his wife chatted conspicuously near the back. He refrained from looking at the magazines. In order to accomplish this he knew he had to play it cool; patience was requisite. His feet picked up and led him on his predetermined path. First the books linking the back wall. He stopped there and looked up and down the shelves. He grabbed one and flipped through it. He stopped on page 113 and read a few lines. It was out of the section on History. He replaced the book to its spot. He turned and rounded a corner and then headed down the arts, crafts, and cooking section. He merely looked at the spines pointed outward as he made his way to another section. His plan was explore the various sections and, oh! He would just “so happen” to emerge from the forest of books pointed right at the magazines. With this sweeping view he knew that there would be an opportunity to casually espy a title. He could lock in on a target. Then, as his plan scripted, he would make his way through the magazines and once the coast was clear, remove his objective from its perch and tuck it away and retreat to the back of the store and secure the publication within the waistband of his underwear. The plan seemed so perfect. Once he came out of the books to look upon the magazines he encountered his first problem. A couple of guys, one in jeans and a cowboy hat and another in shorts and an indiscriminate tee-shirt, stood there with magazines adorned in nude woman. They looked comfortable, content, and unlikely to abandon their pursuits any time soon. But, the boy wondered to himself, how did they look at those magazines in public? He had an automatic erection when he viewed his magazines. He shook off the thought and returned to his plan. He enacted an alternative with slickness. He turned toward an end display of Gary Larson and other comic-strip books. Ah, the Gary Larson looked appropriate. It was a book that was bigger than a magazine. He picked it up with a gleam in his eye. His exit strategy. He removed the Gary Larson book. He kept an eye on those two gentlemen as he walked up to the cash register. As he paid for the book he worked on how to keep himself in the store. One of the men, the one in the cowboy hat, replaced his magazine and walked off. The young man thanked the cashier. He looked into his TOWER bag--a bright, yellow thing--and then looked up and noticed some other books on display. He acted as though they had taken his attention from his recent purchase. He grinned a contrived grin as he picked the unobtrusive book up. He flipped through its illustrated pages. His eyes had abandoned it as soon as he had peeled back the cover though. He only
had eyes for the smoky plastic that separated out the adult magazines. That other guy gave up his magazine before sneaking out of the store too. The store now seemed empty. The sales associate walked away. The couple from earlier were silent in some corner. The boy’s heart beat out a wild rhythm. He put his decoy back down and casually walked toward the magazine rack. Of course he would need to pass by the adult section to get to yet another decoy: the magazine on photography. He needed to see that magazine on photography because he had just started as a yearbook photographer at school. This whole story etched itself out in his mind as he stepped toward the magazines. His eyes darted all over the store as he inched his way along in front of the magazines. The closer a person got to the rack the less those panels of plastic concealed. He stopped only slightly to reach a trembling hand up toward the image of a young white male on the cover of a generic magazine called “Inches” or “Dude Flesh.” He steadied his hand enough to grip the magazine while he stepped toward the more genial magazine on photography. His eyes remained elevated, fixed on his surroundings. They scanned the room in great sweeping arcs. The couple made their way out of the store while another individual entered. The sales associate was still out of the picture. He slipped his plunder into the bag behind his Gary Larson book. He reached out the same trembling hand and took up the magazine on photography. He feigned interest. He tried to convince himself that he was actually interested in learning about developing his other interests. The only interest he had was his desire for the male body. The only development he thought to see through was the one he had just slipped into his bag. All others seemed moot at that point. None of them ignited his senses like that one did. The photography magazine went back on the rack. He looked at it a moment longer as if he contemplated purchasing it. He turned toward the door. The sales associate had appeared with a customer out of the back of the store. The young man coolly walked out. He turned toward the record store to retrieve his father, but met him halfway. “I was coming to look for you. I wondered what was taking you so long,” his father said as they met on the sidewalk outside the stores. The boy felt like he was losing it. He held onto his composure like the monkey bars. “Oh well, you know how book stores are,” he attempted to keep a level voice which rippled with the adrenaline. “Just got to looking around and lost track of time.” The father caught sight of the bag. The boy knew the question before it left his father’s lips: “What’d you end up getting?” He pointed toward the bag. It was the moment that would take a deal of finesse and skill to pull off. He held up the bag and slipped the book up half way out, enough to have the title exposed: The Far-Side in embossed black lettering. He had the magazine poised behind the book. He fought back the vibrations that wanted to sneak out.
His dad grinned in confusion: “What is that?” “It’s Gary Larson,” he let the book (and magazine) fall back to the bottom of the bag, “the guy that does those Far-Side comics and calendars?” “Yeah,” his dad said, “but why did you buy it?” His father was a frugal man. His son shrugged. “I just saw it last time and wanted it. He’s funny.” His father decided that there was no reasoning with an adolescent. They returned to the car. Again he found himself secured in the bathroom when he returned home. The Gary Larson book had been quickly abandoned. Instead he found new bodies to worship with his eyes. They were photographed specifically for men. Unlike Playgirl which had been intended for women (but no doubt had a strong gay audience). He sat there and found that the giddiness that accompanied his first experience with nude men was not present with him. There was a small sense of it, but it had faded and worn like an aged piece of clothing. The warm thrill of that initial exposure went cold. It was the evolution of desire: curiosity grew into hunger; hunger transformed into need; need distended into avarice; and after that it simply went numb which meant that his consumption had matured into a habit. He kept his bounty stashed in the bottom drawer of his chest of drawers. They were mixed into the stack of comic books he kept there, as if sliding them into the middle would provide an invincibility that would not be got any other way. He had accumulated about five magazines; not an easy number to obtain considering his lack of independence. The boy lived in between two planes of loyalty: on one had he had faith and love, and on the other were his lusts and selfishness. The latter seemed to win out; how else could he steal without remorse? How else would he be able to keep those magazines and feed upon them daily? How else could he have not seen the trouble that crept upon him, had he not been wholly overtaken by his desires? It came to him, a day unforeseen. He arrived home from school. His mother had company, a close family-friend. The boy entered the house without a thought in his head: neither concern, nor fear. The family-friend approached the boy. She put her arm around his shoulders and gently suggested him to his own room. She swung the door back and asked “What are we going to do about this mess?” She urged him into the middle of a crowded room. The carpet was absent. He laughed at her commentary. He was annoyed at the same time. There he stood amid the clothes strewn all about; books were laid here and there, and in between were all the knick-knacks and pieces of trash that never found a destination. “Yeah,” he said as he scratched his head, “I don’t know. I know I really need to straighten this all out. It really does get annoying.” Then mom entered. She had a wide smile on her face as if the world were in complete harmony. Her son, her youngest son, stood in his room with a similar grin. She picked her way to where he stood.
The top of her head cam up to where his mouth was. She looked up at him with endearing light eyes. She smiled harmlessly at him. Her right hand rose up and patted his chest. Through her smile she spoke the most serious words the boy had ever heard her speak: “We need to talk.” Those words: they smacked him like an arctic wind. His breath went out of him. He had no doubt what brought on that directive. His eye glanced over at the bottom drawer as his mother picked her way out of the mess. The sensation that his mother’s words wrought was immediate. His blood seemed to retreat from his extremities. The edges of his appendages went numb. He was unable to tell if that feeling of crackling heat had begun at his toes and worked upward or if it was in the upper half of his body and sunk down to his toes. He just knew that his entire body had that feeling. That crackling feeling seemed to hollow out his entire body. All of the components simply evaporated. He felt nothing but fear reverberating within his empty out frame. Trouble was all that it said. He had no plan for getting caught. He set his bag down on the floor with the rest of his things. And then he simply sat down. His hand started to tremble like they did when he prepared to snatch a magazine from the rack. He hadn’t cried. He just trembled. After the family-friend left and the house fell silent, the boy timidly left his room. His mother sat in the living room. She sat on the edge of the couch with her feet up on the sofa. Her boy sat down in the recliner beside the couch. “Your father found the magazines in your room the other day,” she said. The boy refrained from looking at his mother. His father found the evidence, but it had been his mother who had been sent in to make the arrest and interrogate the culprit. The circumstances forced her to draft questions and pose them to her baby. Her interrogation consisted of one question: “Do you like men?” He sat there, in the chair next to his mother as she shoved the question at him. He knew that the idea repulsed her. He wanted to end this as quickly as possible. They both agreed to end it without any words. “No,” he said in a slightly pleading voice, but a very contrived pleading. His mother said nothing in reply. They kept their eyes off one another, afraid to see the truth staring back at each other. He knew she would see his true desires. His eyes must have been smoldering with an unashamed curiosity. Conversely his mother sat there and knew that if her son looked into her eyes he would see the pain of ignorance and disappointment. Her youngest child had wandered into paths that she would never follow or be able to watch him walk down to make sure he made it to the other end safely. That was the curse of certain kinds of faith: it kept the faithful from being able to take certain paths (or no paths at all) and for loved ones who strayed, they would always feel lost. What mother would not see
that as a curse? She would stand on her perfectly paved pathway unable to see to it that the fruit of her womb made it safely to the end. It was not much longer after that confrontation that the internet bloomed with all its new protocols. The chain of TOWER stores soon died after that too. A new medium was born and a new source to satiate his longings existed. He fed the habit unabashedly without putting much effort into finding a reason to justify it. He simply did it because it was there… …That day in TOWER BOOKS was the day he had had lost his innocence; that conviction in what he thought of as was right and what was wrong. The line between the two snapped on that day and the contents from each side poured together and merged into swirls of gray. He stepped away from the bathroom sink and gave his entire body a quick glance up and down. It was all there. It was all his and his alone. But it wasn’t all put together. There was not a whole person looking back out of that mirror. No person would want a man so fragmented. He was confused—still to that day—and alone—just as he always had been—stuck between men and women, heaven and hell. But he tried not to throw too many “What ifs” on his back. Understanding “why” would have been nice, but that was a luxury he was not entitled to. So he resigned himself to his fate, the one he helped to carve out with the deeds he had committed on that day. The memory of the day when he began this divided existence would live forever in his mind, he was sure. There was never going to be a chance to change that one single choice, to put the magazine back on its rack and leave the curiosity behind. He still had faith though: faith that maybe one day that experience would serve to help him in some other conflict, to propel him through the questions and find the answers. Then maybe, just maybe, he would be a whole person who could stop living for himself. i
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