The Honesty of Life

by Julian

There's a line you cross when you've done many different things in life and
you need to be certain as to what the power of life constrains. Life can be
amazing or life can be a death sentence. And despite crossing the path of
a bus to hold it for a friend, grabbing a car from a bad section of street or
being tossed through a plate glass window; nothing has found itself to be
as deadly or as damning as sex.

When you are asked to give blood, there are three (3) standards by which
you are not allowed to donate blood: you've had a blood transfusion that
took place before 1986, you had sex with another man or you've been in
jail at any time at all. Obviously I have crossed the path once and found
lust in the wrong place, which I shan't detail at this time as this is more
clinical than erotic. I was flat broke, and went into a plasma center,
offering to sell my blood. That's when I learned I could be riddled with this
hidden time-bomb. A hedonist now on the verge of death, wrapped in
paranoia, all for tasting a forbidden fruit.

Magic Johnson can be calm or glib about it and Elizabeth Taylor can weep
– I don't give a fuck. They don't know me and they're not here with this.
Time limits all, and when you see your own blood being drawn you make
a face and recall all the things that have and have not gone into your body.
Bad food, bad booze, something you smoked... that girl. Or slut, babe,
blowjob, assfucking... whatever. The sting leaves, and a swab of white
and alcohol bite you gently, making you think about the last time you gave
blood, for charity, when you lived with your family. What has changed?
How long has it been since you were feeling and caring?

The place was sterile with a small sunshine of warmth on the soft-butter
colored wall and the shabby furniture. The application is a standard
routine about the continual gathering of facts and you gulp, wondering
how many other men your age go to their private physicians, company
doctors, or military medics upon entering the service with the same fears
as their blood was drawn from a vein and spilled into a transparent tube.
(This must be a golden age for the plastics industry! After all you need a
shitload of petroleum for plastic gloves and tubing and vials. You frown
just a bit and shiver, thinking carefully about the misery of knowing you
might have a death sentence applied to you. After all, it's been five years.
Your only lover has been your drunken rages and internal fears, jacking off
and nervousness and condom practice. What matter is that I will fucking
die when I get the results. All that happens are that sis that as the vial is
filled with something I have kept from others for so long I have a lower
trembling lip and my mind races to all moments I have had and where
they all have taken my mind, body and weariness. I loathe everyone...
everything, and there's a dripping of venom for my life as I see the label
placed and the girl remove her gloves. She's been considerate, with a
knowing nod, the one that tells you you're not the first one to tell her his
kind of story. She's pleasant and somewhat motherly in her appearance,
yet you know there's a knowledge and hidden sorrow in her eyes. After all,
how many of us could tell someone you are going to die? As humans we
can't say those things: we have to tell them, until their last breath, that they
(they dying) are going to live and live long or live well. That's what keeps
the specter of death off the lingering one, sealing one in comfort, for being
there or for dying, holding them, and suffering with them.

She lets you know that you're going to be hearing from them in a few days,
about four to six days. Until then she regards your health and says (as
she routinely does to other high-risk patients) to abstain or use a condom,
offering you some Lifestyles with odd colors and battered edges from a
plastic fishbowl on her desk, the way some office managers offer candy
for a visitor. You gulp, refusing gently, smiling softly and shaking her hand,
saying 'Thank you' very gently after this humiliating experience. She now
knows your secret and your real name, and she has everything to turn you
over to any group for statistics, monitoring or killing that the CDC and
AIDS-Awareness could be connected to so that people with our
sicknesses can be wiped off the map and not infect the rest of the world.
Or just taken from my home after it's posted on flyers and in newspapers
with your driver's license photo for everyone to see, and you're driven from
the shabby apartment into the night or to awaiting trucks and down the
road? Am I getting shipped to Africa?

You drive away softly, slowly. Working on the other side of this city district,
did someone see you come in here? Do they suspect you, a known flirt
and lothario, of now being gay, or a drug user? Are you looking past some
of the people you've known before? Did your friends, or lovers, or even
your one mistake, ever come here before you did today?

Your stomach turns, and you feel the tears well up in your eyes. Pleading
to God doesn't seem like a likely scenario, yet you slip into a church and
light an obligatory candle. You gasp softly, whimpering and pleading your
muttered prayer under your breath, saving the tone of God's hearing for
the moment when someone truly need (and more than likely deserving)
comes into the church and does the prayer-thing you're so lacking in
spiritual fortification. More deprecation arises in your blackened soul, and
you wonder why you ever went to church while your best friend banged
everything, married and fucked up more times than you can count, and
still told you in your last call, that he's getting married again after banging
his new to-be bride constantly, along with her three friends. Hopefully
they'll all never find out. That's his fucking fear: not where but whom and
how often.

It should be how many, but he calls me a fool and a tight-ass and tells me
all I can do is hope and get there by my own choice. Shit! That's why I went
on that foolish adventure and did something wicked, and AM now paying
for it. Fuck, fuck, fuck!

Raiding the library next, you learn about the statistics for men (mostly) of
minority backgrounds; apparently to the CDC we're spreading it and not
giving a shit about who gets it. It's even begun trickling down into the
junior high schools like fucking wildfire. You gulp, recalling someone
young and cute wanting a kiss that she hoped would make her toes curl
and giving it to her, thinking in the back of your dialogue, "Happy Sixteenth
Birthday Babe. If you were a little older I'd give you something to really

And scary, because if this weight comes down she will have to be told,
and you haven't seen her in years. How will you find some of the people
that you've been close to, telling them you have AIDS? How can you say
that you might waste away, and be convalesced and die slowly before
their eyes as painfully as they can imagine? And maybe even suffer worse
than that? And all this torture and anguish from one moment? Yet, it's
here, and you can't shirk it. Truth: prophetic and stomach churning. It's at
that moment you resolve you're probably going to Hell, damnation for your
sins of lust and ego, and knowing this makes your smile rise in the
corners of your mouth? If your suffering is your purgatory, maybe you still
have a chance at salvation? Maybe there's still a chance to find something
better in life that the personal buggery and deviations you have followed
for so very, very long.

The days pass numbly: eat, sleep, jack off, and work. A variation and
some slacking, a day off and a chance to read more about your future
outcome, and suddenly you can go for your results. You say nothing to
anyone, and even now you still haven't told anyone that this happened. All
they know is that you don't want to give blood, very plainly and flatly. When
one of your relatives ask why, you decline an answer, and know your
answer will only humiliate and sadden your parents. Anything needed
was done, expect that, because NOW, so many years later, you've taken a
risk and gambled, and have to pay the piper for your mistakes.

You have entered the place again; scared, withdrawn from others,
nervous, yet resolved with the need to carry on if you find out you're going
to die. But what needs to be done first? The list is so long, and there are
so many mistakes to apologize for in your past. There's a tingle in your
spine and a rumble in your stomach, and you wonder what you'll be told,
and by whom. The counselor who saw you the last time sees you again,
cheerful, professional, ushering you into her office and seating you. She
takes your results from a file, closed with your name on it. This is the
answer all the paranoia has been making you await. And you're hungry to
know. A breath, the papers shuffle and you get the results: negative. One
word: negative. Your shudder at the promises you made to yourself and
the things you know you have to do before time slips away in another
man. After all, just living is sometimes deadly, and you've attempted
suicide in your past and lingered too long when bar chairs crashed and
the sheriff arrived, saying with a shotgun in his grip, "What'cha looking at
boy?" You knew what and who he meant, and you couldn't deny being
stupid and running, admitting that you wanted to live.

It's been a decade since you had that happen. A long time since that
reading and a lot of new sins to mull over or enjoy with the dedication of a
resurrected pervert. And yet, you suddenly recalled that woman talking to
you as you stared blankly at your sneakers, shuffling your feet,
hyperventilating into your hands and taking the drink of water she offered
you calmly. She says she's surprised I was so calm; you tell her all your
time is invested in your friends, your family, and your secrecy. She offers
you a hug, something you won't take from someone, and you smile freely.
No one ever knows what worries you, and you can fix any situation, any
problem, and thing. You are the last though and the madness closes in
faster than it should from day to day, so you have to find a new life... now.
Even if your life still feels vacant with your own ego pushing everyone away
and maiming your life and soul. You have to do something new, or you
wasted your chance and your time.

Seeing this story on Yahoo and hearing the announcement on the
morning news as I had my coffee made me think that there is little time
left in my life. I've done, but can do more. I've been, and am, but can be
better. I was something amazing besides myself; I can still have a dream
if I get off my fat fucking ass and get back to my goddamned work.

And no one can or will do it for you ... these are your boots, walk in them.
Lots of other people have it better, and some have it worse than a guy with
conceit and personal issues. All I gotta do is get off my ass and do more
than hope and try. Maybe a good deed or two couldn't hurt.


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