The Beki Diaries, Chapter 3: Hurt

Previous chapters:
Chapter 1 – Pilot
Chapter 2 – Bagyo

Chapter 3 – Hurt

3-1

As kids, we were never afraid to take risks. We were not afraid to jump off a fence just to see what’s beyond the perforated bricks. We were not frightened to punch the bully because we know we have our friends to back us up. We were never scared to sneak out of the house to join our friends who are taking a swim in the river. But as we grow older, we tend to become more cautious of what we do because we realize that our actions, our rashness, and our disobedience can yield adverse consequences; like missing your balance and falling on the ground, or getting knock down by the bully after being counter-punched on the face, or getting the spanking from our livid mom for coming home late.

But our reluctance to take risks in the adult life isn’t only because we’re afraid to fail. It’s because of the corresponding hurt the failure entails. Hurt is defined as the unpleasant feeling caused by an intense or damaging stimuli, like getting a tattoo or stubbing your toe. For me though, there are three kinds of hurt adult life can leave you with.

The first one is the kind of hurt we feel on our skin, the one that you can just forget after a few minutes…

***

“Whip me, motherfucker.”

Toffee heard the crack of the whip in the air once again and felt another sting on his back which made him instinctively yelp. He’s tied on the bed, face down while Jake, a tall, handsome Dutch guy he met wandering around Greenbelt 3, was keen to following his wishes, even if it includes beating Toffee bloody with the whip in his hand. They’ve been at it for almost an hour now and it seems no one is about to budge.

“You like that huh, Whitey?” Toffee cried, breathing profoundly while hearing Jake’s own heavy breaths in the background. He cannot count anymore how many times the whip lashed his now sore skin but he was not going to submit just yet. He wanted to prove the man that he knows too how to play this kind of game. You retreat, you lose.

“Shut your filthy mouth, you little brown boy!” the Caucasian snarled. “I am the master here and you are my slave!”

“Just because you have the weapon doesn’t mean your powerful, you white shit!” Toffee shouted, his neck veins bulging. “Now hit me some more until I beg for mercy which I assure you will never happen!”

“Is that right, you cunt?” Toffee heard Jake’s footstep going further away from his side to near the foot of the bed. “Why don’t we try something new, my little brown slave?”

Toffee’s eyes grew bigger. “L-like what?” he queried nervously.

“Like sticking the handle up your fucking ass,” Jake told in a gloomy tone. “I’ve always had a thing for third world pussies. Seeing them get fucked makes me feel more powerful.”

Toffee swallowed hard at what he heard. “We never agreed on this. And I’m top, you shit.”

“Now, now, little Filipino. Where’s the fun in that? The magic happens outside your comfort zone.”

“No!” the anxious Toffee screamed. “Stop it! This isn’t what we agreed on!”

“Well, then beg.”

“No, I won’t do that.”

“Then prepare to be fucked by this whip.”

“No! Don’t!”

“Oops,” Jake blundered teasingly. “I just remembered I do not have lube. Mind if I fuck you without it? Oh, right. It’s not your choice. You’re just my brown slave and I’m your master.”

“No, don’t, Jake!” For the first time since his mother’s funeral, Toffee’s eyes began to tear up.

“Say ‘please Jake, I beg of you, stop.’”

With his hands and feet all tied up, Toffee has never felt so helpless. Out of the blue, he recalled a memory from his childhood, one that he has been wanting to repress and forget all his life he but just couldn’t escape from.

The memory has him in his room playing with his little toy cars when his Spanish father enters abruptly. His father grabbed his toys and threw them out of the window. Knowing that his wife isn’t around, the father tied the young Toffee on the bed using a blanket. He stuffed Toffee’s mouth with his underwear and began to rape his son. There was nothing the young Toffee could do but to cry and wait for his father to stop.

“What now, Toffee? Say it. Beg me to stop and I’ll let you go.”

Toffee whimpered as he wiped off his tears against the bed.

“You wish, motherfucker!”

Toffee twisted in pain as the foreigner shoved the whip handle up his crevice. He squirmed and screamed until he got used to the pain and it hurt no more.

***

Then there is the kind of hurt that exists only in your mind. It’s the kind of hurt burrowing from your doubts, suspicions and uncertainty. It is not physical pain but it can render you restless and uneasy due to the fear of the unknown and the ambiguity of the future.

Jigs a.k.a. TheExperiment has been inseparable with Andrew ever since they met on Grindr. Jigs was with Andrew when the latter met up with his parents in Hong Kong last week. He was with Andrew when the restaurateur fell three steps down the stairway in his luxurious Rockwell condominium. He even keeps Andrew company every night in his bathtub while the Chinoy takes a long bubble bath. Yes, Jigs has been inseparable with Andrew, albeit they have to always be on their smartphones just to be together.

It’s been less than three weeks since the two started talking on Grindr and exchanging numbers and personal details. However, the two are still yet to meet. In fact, they haven’t seen each other even on cam or on photos. But Andrew, the uptight elitist that he is, has never felt more intimate than he does with TheExperiment. But the more he heard of him on the phone, the more his thrill to meet him grew, the more he craved for more. That is why after a long, passionate sex on the phone, Andrew decided once more to pop up the one million dollar question:

“When are we going to meet?”

Actually, it’s kind of a double edged question for Andrew. He’s been worrying about the possibilities of TheExperiment not looking like his type of guy. See, he has always had a thing for buff guys. You know, a Taylor Lautner kind of dude. And while he is the virginest virgin among all virgins, Andrew firmly believes that he’s a bottom (although I don’t think that one is debatable) and that only a batak guy can satisfy his hunger for a hard, manly touch.

So what if TheExperiment doesn’t turn out the way Andrew wants him to be? What if he’s average or even ugly? Should he make some excuse like a friend needs him and just run for the hills? What if he’s short or chubby or has acne all over his face? Will he be able to see him through the superficial and focus on the rapport that they built during these two weeks of nonstop IM-ing and Skyping and chatting?

The truth is Andrew doesn’t have a plan. Dating for him is uncharted territory. This is the first time a guy was able to bear his queenly personality. And not only that, he also felt cared and loved and cherished by Jigs. But why was Jigs able to put up with all that? Could it be because nobody likes Jigs because Jigs is ugly?

“Okay,” Jigs answered after a long pause. “Let’s meet tomorrow. Trinoma?”

Andrew puffed up from the bed eagerly, “Really?!”

“Yes, if that’s what you really want,” the guy from the other line replied.

“Okay. I am so excited. Are you?”

“Honestly, I’m a little nervous.”

“Why is that?” Andrew laid himself back to bed and stared at the ceiling.

“I’m just worried I might not meet your expectations. Unlike you, I’m just a simple person. You’re the kind of person who runs his own business and drives his own car and goes to Hong Kong for a cup of tea with his parents. I, on the other hand, scour Jobstreet for employment. I toil and struggle in life and I ride buses and chase jeepneys just to make it to my workplace on time,” Jigs took a brief pause. “My wrong is I overlooked all the differences – mountains and hills and seas that divide us – and allowed myself to like you, which is very risky on my part. Because you, Andrew, you’re good-looking, smart and rich and you can get any guy you want. But me… I’m just the guy who rides buses and chase jeepneys.”

Andrew wanted to say “don’t worry, I’ll accept you no matter what differences we have” or “we’ll ride buses and jeepneys together” but he would be lying. Because he knows deep in his heart he’s not willing to compromise his preference for a handsome boyfriend who’s also smart and successful to ‘complete’ him. He needs someone who, when the right time comes, he can be proud enough to show to his affluent and fastidious parents. That is Andrew’s tragedy. He sees his homosexuality a deficiency that only a handsome someone can fill.

So instead of speaking words of encouragement, Andrew said what he thought was the right thing to say.

“You’re going to be fine.”

***

Later that night, I was trimming my filthy toenails when Hamed surprised me with a text message saying that he’s outside the gate and has something to give to me. I immediately got the broom and the dustpan to rid the floor of my junk and then went to open the gate. And there he was and all of his handsomeness wearing a cute gay sweatshirt and holding bags of what looks to me like groceries.

“What is all this?” I was surprised I forgot to greet him with a ‘hi’.

“Uhh, can you please invite me in first because it’s heavy,” Hamed responded.

“Oh! Right. Sorry. Please come in.”

I helped Hamed carry the bags and walked him to the room. This was the first time he made it inside our little studio type apartment. Usually, he would just drop me at the gate and I never invited him in because I thought it was too soon for me to do so. But this time, he caught me by surprise.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were going to come?” I asked him as I lay the grocery bags near the refrigerator. “And where did you get all this? Aren’t the malls closed by now?”

“I bought the groceries earlier and I wanted to surprise you. Now could you give me a time out from all your questions and allow me to rest?” He finished his sentence with a smile. It’s the same smile that caught me dumbfounded the first time we met.

“All right. Iced tea?”

“Please. Oh, and may I use the bathroom?”

“Oops. I think my sister is still in there. Could you, like, hold in your pee just a little longer? I think she’s about finished now.”

“No problem.”

“And I’m sorry if the room’s a little messy,” I said while mixing the pitcher of apple iced tea. “Supposedly, it’s my sister’s turn to clean today but she spent the whole day watching Girls. I don’t even understand why she watches that. She’s not at all girly.”

Hamed let out a chuckle. “You shouldn’t be too hard on her.”

“Hey! Be on my side!”

Hamed and I laughed. And then the door of the bathroom opened.

My sister Mika was a little shocked when she came out of the bathroom and saw the man sitting on my bed. She only had a towel wrapped around her, her silvery blue hair dripping from the shower she had. She glared at me and I glared back.

“Who’s this guy?”

“He’s Hamed. Hamed, this is my sister Mika,” I said without taking my eyes off her.

“Hi, Mika,” greeted Hamed with a grin.

“Hi,” Mika responded before turning again to me. “Is he your boyfriend?”

I was caught off guard by Mika’s question. Not knowing what to say, I looked at Hamed and saw him staring back at me, his eyes smiling. “You’re crazy” was all I’ve mustered to say to Mika.

“I don’t understand why you always get all the cute ones. You’re not even cute yourself,” she responded. I grabbed the pitcher cover and threw it to her. She tried to evade but it hit her shoulder. I turned to Hamed and handed him a glass of iced tea, “I told you she’s a bitch.” He replied with an innocent smile, the kind that makes Dahmer want to drag him to bed and rape him.

An hour later, we were all watching Takashi Miike’s Audition when I received an unexpected text message from Toffee.

Harry, am outside ur gate

Somehow perplexed, I abruptly stood from where I was sitting and re-read the message again just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Hamed noticed and he asked what’s wrong while Mika was too hooked on the movie’s torture scene to care.

“It’s a text from my friend, Toffee. He said he’s outside the house.”

“Huh?” Hamed’s brows curled up. “But it’s late. Did he say what he wants?”

“Not really,” I took a fleeting pause. “I’ll go to him. Wait for me here.”

“No, I’ll go with you,” he insisted.

And so the two of us went out of the room to the gate and see if Toffee was really out there. I opened the gate carefully and, to my surprise, found Toffee lying frail on the ground. He’s got bruises all over his face and there were bloodstains on his khaki shorts. His cellphone was still on his hand.

“Oh shit. Toffee!” My knees buckled and I crouched on the ground. I took his head and laid it on my lap. “What happened?!”

“We should bring him to the hospital,” Hamed said. “I’ll get my keys.”

“W-wait,” Toffee cried in a weak voice. “I d-don’t want to g-go to the hospital.” His voice was very shaky.

“Tell me what happened, Toffee! Why do you have blood on your clothes?!” I asked, worried.

“Harry,” Hamed called. “I think we should bring him inside first.”

I nodded. Hamed and I carried Toffee to the house and inside the room. Mika, a little shocked, immediately paused the movie and helped us carry Toffee to my bed.

“Oh my god, it’s Toffee,” she exclaimed. “And what happened to him?” Mika has always had a crush on Toffee. The first time I introduced him to her, she thought he was straight and started hitting on him on Facebook by sending him shit on Farmville. Toffee finally noticed and he sent her a photo of him sucking another man’s tongue. She couldn’t go to school for a week.

“We don’t know yet,” I replied. “Could you heat some water please? We need to tend his bruises.”

“Can I help change his clothes?” she said.

“Mika, now’s not the time to be a slut. Water!”

After taking care of his wounds with warm water and Betadine, Toffee finally told us what happened. After being beaten by the Dutch foreigner with a whip, he raped him while he was tied on the bed and then just threw him outside the hotel.

“Toffee, you got to stop doing this. You’re just hurting yourself,” I said while caressing his hair. Hamed was just there, looking at me in silence.

“Th-thank you, Harry,” Toffee replied. His voice was still weak but I can see that he’s way better now than when we first found him outside the house. And then he glanced at Hamed and then looked back at me, “Is he… your new boyfriend?”

I looked at Hamed and immediately shook my head, “Oh. No. He’s not my boyfriend.”

“Yet,” Hamed butted in. He was looking at me although it seems like his word was for Toffee. “I’m not his boyfriend yet.”

“You’re lucky, whoever you are,” Toffee said. And then he looked straight to my eyes and could see tears welling up in his. “Harry is the best boyfriend anyone could possibly have.”

I gave him a smile.

An hour later, Toffee was sleeping soundly on my bed when Hamed said that it was getting late and he has to go home. He needed to be up early the following day for work. So I accompanied him to the gate but before finally going to his car, he took my hands and stared into my eyes. If this were a Sarah Geronimo movie, this is when we’re supposed to kiss under the bright moonlight.

“Are you sure you can take her of him?” Hamed asked.

“Yeah, and don’t worry, I’m sure Mika’s more than willing to help me change his clothes.”

“You’re going to help him change?”

“Uhh, the man could barely move his arms. Of course, I’ll help him. Why?”

“Nothing. It’s just that I know he’s just a friend but he’s good-looking… and you’re cute and – “

I cracked a smirk on my face, “Hamed, are you jealous?”

He let out a soft chuckle, “I’m not jealous! He may be handsome, but I’m sexy and smart.”

I soft-punched him on the chest and giggled, “Don’t flatter yourself.”

“But seriously, Harry. What are we?” His voice has gone from pert to slightly somber. “You can’t always tell everyone you know that I am your friend when we know we’re more than that. Don’t get me wrong though, I am not rushing you. But I just want to make sure we’re on the same page. I want to make sure that all this late night flirting with you under the moonlit sky will lead to something more. Something deeper. Something we know we both want.”

“Hamed, I was like Manila, a train-wreck, when you met me in that grocery store. But you helped fixed me and here I am now, better. But give me just a little time to put myself together again because you’re special and you deserve the whole me, the complete me,” I paused and took a deep breath. “Chick flicks have brainwashed us into thinking that the purpose of finding a partner is to find someone who will complete us. I don’t believe that shit. That’s selfish. When we’re broken, we rebuild ourselves. And then we offer ourselves wholly to the person who deserves it.”

“I understand,” Hamed replied. “I am willing to wait until you’re ready. That, I’m sure of.”

“Thank you, Hamed. Good night.”

When I went back to the room, I found Toffee sitting on the bed, lost in thought. I walked to him and sat beside him on the bed.

“Hey, I thought you were already asleep? Did Mika wake you up? She snores like a pig.”

“No, it’s not Mika,” said Toffee. “By the way, thank you for taking care of me.”

“Don’t mention it. We’re best friends, right?”

“Yeah, I guess we are.”

Then, there was silence. Toffee has been quite timid around me recently and I do not know why. Before this whole gloomy Toffee act, he used to talk a lot about his sexcapades and we would laugh. He would tell me who the last guy he fucked and how huge his penis was. But Toffee has been awkwardly quiet the past few days which makes me wonder if we’re okay.

“Toffee, are we okay?”

“’Course we are. Why?”

“It’s just that… we do not talk about your fun stories anymore.”

Toffee briefly glanced at me and looked away.

“Harry, I just got raped. You want us to have a little chit-chat about how I was violated?”

“Of course, not. It just feels like something has changed between us. Like, there’s something you’re not telling me.”

“Don’t mind me. Concern yourself with what your little boyfriend wants.”

“Hamed? He’s not my boyfriend,” I answered swiftly. “At least, not yet.”

“Can I be honest?” he asked.

“Of course.”

“I think you’re a slut,” he told without looking at me. “You’re emotionally slutty. You cannot live without another man in your life. You think you can never be happy without another man in your life.”

Ouch.

“If I were a slut, what does that make you, Toffee? Different sexual partners every night? I wouldn’t even be surprised if I woke up one day and you have HIV.”

“Fuck you, Harry. I don’t need the men I have sex with. What I need is the sex. You, on the other hand, you throw yourself at these guys, hoping they come and save you from your miserable ennui. Did you really think you were in love with Allen? No. You just used him to cure you of your boredom and your insecurities. You are the bigger slut, Harry.”

I slapped him on the face as I began to fume like a volcano. But he didn’t budge. He just kept talking.

“What do you want to happen with you and Hamed, now? You want to be his boyfriend so he can fill up the space in your life Allen left? And what happens if you break up again? You call your friends, arrange a meeting just so we can hear you whine about how you are so incompatible or how you hated the way he treated you? I am so tired of hearing the same shit from you all the time! All your hurt, all your tears, you caused them to yourself! It’s nobody’s fault but yours!”

“Enough, Toffee! How dare you talk to me that way after I took you in from the streets and cared for you! Fuck you! You’re just jealous because no one bothers to take you seriously and love you! You’re jealous because people treat you like their handsome little toy that’s only good for fucking!”

“Oh, fuck you!” He retorted. “How they treat me is my choice! How I want them to see me is my choice! It’s my fucking choice not to show them my heart! It’s my choice not to show them who I am! And you know why? Do you fucking want to know why!?”

“Why!? Tell me why you want to be so fucking depressed all the time!”

“It’s because of you!” Toffee screamed with all his might. Mika was startled with the noise and started to move on her bed. Then she shouted “keep it low, you faggots” before going back to sleep again. Toffee and I were both crying grievously but I’ve never seen him cry so hard in my entire life.

“W-what do you mean it’s me?”

“I fucking love you, Harry. And it sucks because you’re fucking ordinary-looking.”

“Are you trolling me? It’s not funny.”

He grabbed my shoulders and embraced me so tight I almost couldn’t breathe. He wailed and squirmed in anguish after his little revelation while I remained emotionless on the bed, staring to nowhere.

“I’ve loved you so long.”

“But – “

“I know. I’m your best friend and you cannot love me back.” He wiped his tears and chuckled. “I’m exhausted. Let’s go to sleep. And please let’s keep this conversation a secret, if that’s okay with you.”

I just nodded.

That night, I couldn’t sleep. My thoughts were consumed by the words of the guy lying beside me. I’ve loved you so long. Never in my life have I expected such words to come out from Toffee. He was a stone monster, an unfeeling robot, a person who doesn’t know a shit about love and only cared about fucking. Apparently, I was wrong all along. Toffee has a heart… and he decided to offer it to me. Fuck my life.

***

The following day while he was at school, Isko received a phone call from his boyfriend, Joseph, who hasn’t come home in two days after their recent fight.

“Hello? Where in the hell are you?” Isko prompted.

“Babe, w-where are you? I-I missed you.” Joseph’s voice was shaky and Isko could hear him sobbing on the phone.

“Well, get home already! I fucking missed you, too! I haven’t heard from you in two days!” Although he tried to come across as pissed, Isko was relieved to know that his boyfriend was safe. “You missed a lot of My Husband’s Lover episodes. Let’s do a marathon later when I get home.”

“Babe,” Joseph said in a strangely sullen tone. “I’m here. Please come home know. I’m dying… to see you.”

“But I still have one more class. I promise I’ll go straight home after school. I’ll take the MRT.”

“But… I need to see you now,” Joseph’s voice is growing weaker and weaker by the second.

“Joseph? Are you okay? What’s happening there?”

“I-I was so sad, Babe. These past two days, I realized that… that without you, I am nothing. B-but when I got home this morning, our home is empty. I am all alone, Babe.”

“You are not alone. I’m here!”

“B-babe, I-I’m sleepy… I’ll c-call you later…”

With his lips trembling and his entire body shaking, Isko ran out of the school building and impatiently hailed a cab. He hasn’t believed in a god since sophomore college but for the first time in a long time, he begged to him and demanded him to keep his lover away from harm.

***

Meanwhile in the hope of kicking their virtual relationship up a notch, Andrew was out in Trinoma to finally meet his virtual boyfriend, TheExperiment. As he waited in their agreed meeting place, he couldn’t help but to feel nervous and excited. Here goes nothing, he told himself.

A few minutes later, he was startled by a tap on his back. He turned around to see who it was.

“Hi, Andrew. It’s me, Jigs.”

But he didn’t hear him. He was too busy staring at his untidy hair, his nerdy glasses and his acne scars. Andrew then surveyed him from head to foot, noting all the tacky things he saw (and smelled) about Jigs: his faded jeans, the Divisoria shirt, the cheap-smelling cologne, his scrawny arms. It’s worse than he expected, and it’s so much more than he could take.

“Hi, Jigs.” His smile turned into a disappointed frown.

Jigs looked at Andrew with a smile and reached out his hand for a shake. But Andrew ignored him and pretended like he’s reading something on his iPhone.

“Actually, I waited for you to tell you that I have to leave now,” Andrew said. “It’s busy in the restaurant right now and I am needed so…”

“Don’t you want to grab something to eat first?”

“Uhm, actually, no. I’m not hungry.”

“You’re not hungry or you’re not just into me? You can be honest. I’m from UP, I can take it.”

“No, that’s not true.” Of course, he’s lying. “I’m really just in a hurry.”

“You weren’t in a hurry before you met me.”

“I’m sorry, Jigs. But I have to go.” Andrew turned away from him and walked as fast as he could. Without wasting a minute, he immediately deleted TheExperiment’s phone number and his messages from his phone. He also blocked him on Grindr and Skype through his smartphone. It was Andrew’s first-ever break up and he never thought the moving-on process was this easy and painless.

***

The last kind of hurt is the one that shatters your heart and rips your soul apart. It isn’t a one time, big time kind of a painful shock. Once it’s there in your system, you go through it every day as it grinds down your self-worth over time. It’s the kind of hurt you can never move on from. You just try to survive it and live your life through it.

The silence was disturbing when Isko reached their condo unit. It isn’t something he was used to. In the past three years, Isko would come home to the sound of the TV and Joseph’s loud, strident laughter while watching re-runs of Sex and the City. It’s something he finds annoying, Joseph’s shrill laugh, but has come to love. It’s his indication that their relationship is healthy and is going through a rather stable course.

The two first met during a birthday party his affluent UP friend, Emma, threw at a downtown Makati hotel. Isko sat alone at a corner table sipping his drink while loathing in his mind the ‘phoniness’ of the wealthy people surrounding him: the fake smiles and pretentious gestures, the pompous clothes, the pseudo-intellectual conversations, and the conscious effort of trying too hard to fit in. In his mind, he’s insulting them and throwing red wine at all their lavish outfits. However, his daydreaming came into a halt when an attractive young man sat on the other end of his table.

“Hi, my name is Joseph Javier.”

He’s not sure if it’s the guy’s eloquence or his handsome face but Isko was easily drawn to him. Before the night was over, he found out that Joseph was the closeted gay son of a wealthy Cebuano banker and landowner who was recently involved in a controversial government funds scam. He studied in the United States and returned to the Philippines to help his family manage their several businesses and properties. In short, he’s exactly the kind of guy Isko loves to hate: rich, handsome and has a history of corruption in his family. But for some reason, Isko allowed his values and opinions about capitalism and elitism take the backseat and decided to get to know the guy more.

In a few weeks, they became lovers. It’s indeed a whirlwind kind of romance, but Isko didn’t really believe that the phase of getting-to-know has to be prolonged and stretched thin. For him, the easiest way to get to know a person is to let him be your lover because that’s when he decides to become comfortable and express his true self.

The first year of their relationship is one of the best in their lives. Isko thought he’s found the right person for him, although ironically, he’s one of those people he cannot stand. But he was able to stand Joseph. He thought maybe their relationship is like the unending tension between Christians and Muslims where it’s feasible for everyone to live in peace and harmony no matter which side they’re on as long as effort and understanding put to it.

The second year of their relationship was a little shakier. Isko wanted Joseph to come out to his conservative and pious parents because for him, it’s the only way to take their relationship to another level. Isko demanded a future from Joseph, and that future doesn’t include anymore Joseph and him walking in the mall acting like fraternity brothers. He wanted to get to hold Joseph’s hand in public. He wanted to kiss him and show people how beautiful their love for each other is. He wanted to proclaim to the world that there can be love between two men and that it isn’t just about sex. He told Joseph that in order for them to be happy together, they have to be happy with their own personal selves first. And so, during Joseph’s expensive birthday celebration in Cebu, he outed himself in his “thank you for coming” speech. Isko thanked him for coming out.

But the repercussions weren’t all positive. Joseph was disowned by his wealthy parents for being gay because according to them, it’s bad feng shui to have a gay son. Joseph was forced to live his life as a normal employee who squeezes himself in trains and buses every day on his way to the office. But he was happy. He was happy because finally, he’s free. He’s free to hold Isko’s hand and to kiss Isko’s lips and to proclaim to the world his love for the only man he has ever loved in his life. It was his crowning moment of awesome, like Jack shouting that he’s the king of the world.

The succeeding years were some of their happiest until the recent fight and Joseph’s subsequent fall to depression.

“Joseph,” Isko called as he closed the door carefully. “Where are you? I’m here.”

He received no response. With his heart beating out of his chest, Isko opened the door to their room and entered. And there he found Joseph’s body lying on the tiled floor, bathing in his own blood, his left wrist slit.

***

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Read Chapter 4 here.

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