Deleted Chapter (#4)
Deleted Chapter (#4)
A LOVE SONG FOR THE SAD MAN IN THE WHITE COAT
Part 3: Epilogue
Simon sat on the park bench, his long legs stretched out in front of him and crossed at the ankles. He was leafing through a book, frowning deep in thought. Matěj sat pressed with his back against Simon’s arm, his feet in the usual red sneakers perched on the opposite armrest. His longish shaggy hair reached to his eyebrows, he squinted in the sharp spring sunshine, taking a drag of his cigarette. He had a plain black T-shirt on, his tattoos on display. The small gauges in his ears were bright red. And because he refused to shave on weekends, his face was covered with two days’ worth of stubble. Simon, on the other hand, was clean shaven, his light brown hair cropped short, the button-down ironed.
An elderly couple passed them, the man looking straight forward with a stony face; the woman observed them slightly confused. Matěj winked at her smiling. She snapped her head forward leaning toward her husband saying something in his ear. The man shook his head at her. They didn’t look back as they disappeared behind the shrubberies.
Matěj wiggled against his boyfriend, leaning his head on Simon’s shoulder and put the cigarette back between his lips humming. He exhaled, watching the smoke against the blue sky. The sunshine was so intense at this time of the year it made his eyes tear up.
“You okay there?” Simon asked and turned his book, skimming the inscription on the back cover.
“No reason. Just checking.”
Matěj turned a little, his cheek on Simon’s shoulder.
“I already asked Mike to come tomorrow,” he said in a careful tone watching the passers-by in the park.
“Kiss-ass,” Simon murmured, not lifting his eyes from the book.
“Shut up. He’s cool. I like him.”
“He’s an arrogant know-it-all.”
“Exactly my type of man. You two are so similar, you should be best buddies.”
Simon chuckled. “Invite whoever you want. Except for my mother.”
“I wouldn’t dare. She hates me like the plague. I am the devil incarnate.”
“Just leave the gauges out next time we go visit and we should be fine.”
“I doubt that.”
Matěj rose, throwing the stubbed-out cigarette in the nearest bin. His Sunday smoking tradition had started in February. Matěj had said he wanted to stop, but the thought of never smoking again felt too dire, a tedious finality. Hence, Simon had suggested once a week—like a Sunday ritual. During the weekend, Matěj always put the gauges back in—he didn’t wear them at work—and he didn’t shave until Monday morning. On Sundays, he had his one and only cigarette for the week. As far as Simon knew, Matěj had kept it like that for three months.
Simon followed Matěj down the path, and they started walking in the direction of the metro station.
“Do I have to wear a tie tomorrow?” Matěj asked, looking away.
“Not on my account.”
“I think I should.”
“Like I said, I don’t care.”
“But you will be wearing a tie.”
Simon smiled. “Actually, I have a bow tie. Turquoise.”
Matěj turned to him, grinning. “A bow tie? Yes! I’ll love you in a turquoise bow tie. Perfect.”
There wouldn’t be a ceremony. Just a couple of signatures, and a quiet dinner at a pub in Dejvice. They could be wearing jeans and T-shirts, and nobody would care.
“I could buy a bow tie in the morning,” Matěj mused. “A red one.”
Simon caught his partner around his shoulders pressing a quick kiss on his temple. He dropped his arm immediately.
“I hate this, you know,” Matěj said frowning.
“What?” They reached the end of the path and crossed the road to the opposite sidewalk. The streets were crowded with families and groups of tourists. Everyone seemed to be out of doors on a spring Sunday afternoon.
“My feeling ashamed. And you tolerating it, humoring me.”
“You seemed relaxed back there in the park. I didn’t want to push it.”
Matěj caught Simon’s hand, interlacing their fingers. “Let’s push them for a few minutes,” he said eyeing the people around them.
They continued down the sidewalk and disappeared into the crowd.