Someone To Give Thanks For

an excerpt

Chapter 1

Wednesday, November 23

David didn't need his alarm to wake him, not when he was travelling across the country for the one major holiday his whole family celebrated. Sitting up in bed, he switched the buzzer dial off two hours before it was due to bleep. Great! And so it begins.

With hours to kill, he rummaged through his laundry, dragged out his jeans, and gave them a sniff. The smoky stench from the club he had gone to the previous night curled his nose hairs. Lifting the t-shirt he had worn, not only smoke laden but sweat stained as well, his gag reflex kicked in. Dropping the shirt to the floor, he opted for something lower down in the basket, preferring the slight mildew scent to the body odor from multiple sources. Slipping feet into his favorite sneakers, David grabbed a sweater and headed out of his East Village apartment and started walking down Eleventh Street.

The sun hadn't yet begun to lighten the sky and the streets were abandoned. The silence of the day surrounded him, reminding him just how alone he was and adding to his already darkened mood. He couldn't even hear a bird's chirp. If it weren't for the fact Mom would give me shit for the next year, I'd forget all about Thanksgiving and going home. As soon as the thought crossed his mind, he dismissed it, begrudgingly admitting to himself that he actually loved going home to see his family. He so rarely got a chance to see everyone together and his mother took great pride in preparing a feast.

His dread of travelling home wasn't the result of his older brother Dominic's incessant wise-ass comments or the constant prying questions from his younger sister Antonia, Toni for short, about David's love life. It certainly wasn't the doting and coddling he received from his mother, Donna, or his father Anthony's unwanted advice on buckling down and buying rather than renting in the city. It wasn't even the constant, energy-sapping attentions of his niece Angelica or his nephew Joshua.

It was knowing he would soon see Keller, his best friend, the man he'd loved his entire life, that caused the knot of tension in his gut to clench and spasm uncomfortably. Everything about his friend complimented David. His six-foot-two sturdy frame was three inches taller than David's five-foot-eleven. Keller's bulging muscles, constantly pressing at the fabric of his clothing in all the right places, was the perfect balance of strength to hold David's leaner frame. Pale, smooth skin revealing his Irish heritage, offset David's permanent Mediterranean olive tones inherited from Italian ancestors.

Inhaling deeply through his nose, David's lungs filled with cool air, refreshing, helping to wake him, bringing greater clarity to his sleep-hazed mind. Piercing blue eyes, high-cheekbones, perfectly straight, white teeth framed by an intoxicating grin took shape in his mind. They were the features David and Keller shared. That, and dark brown, neatly cropped hair.

Shaking his head, David quickened his pace, allowing frustration to seep out of his body. Keller had always been the one. David had known it from childhood, right down to the marrow in his bones. As kids they had spent every waking hour together. When they became teens and as their guy friends talked about girls, the two of them played along in public, but explored each other in private. All through high school their lives moved in synchrony along a path of friendship and love.

It wasn't until he left for college six years ago that the two parted ways, David opting to head back east while Keller remained out west. Without Keller by his side, David spent his time waiting for vacations. Relying on drinks, somber memories of the friend he missed filled his evenings. When he finally returned home that first summer, his worst nightmares became his reality. Keller had a boyfriend.

David pushed the thought from his mind. Too many years had been wasted thinking about what could have been, how things could have turned out differently. Too many 'if only's'... Just stop. 'If only' is for the birds. It's not Keller's fault he lived his life. It's not his fault you won't live yours.

Standing at the corner of Eleventh and Avenue C, David leaned against a telephone pole, the cool wood soothing along the back of his neck. Birds were the first to wake, their chirrups taunting David with their buoyant happiness.

The first hint of morning began to light the sky. Several stars remained visible, but their luster had dimmed. Lighter tones bled into the midnight blue, giving it a slightly pastel hue, while the brighter reds, oranges, and yellows had not yet appeared. Trudging back toward his apartment, he decided there were better ways to waste his time. His flight to San Rafael, his hometown, the place where his best and worst memories resided, was in a few short hours. The irony that his five hour flight would bring him home only two hours after his departure time was not lost on him.

As if four days of fake smiles and unspoken desires isn't long enough, let's just tack on three more hours. A single laugh escaped him, breathy and sardonic. Squaring his shoulders and walking with purpose, he began the process of preparing to appear in control; to portray the success everyone else thought he was. Only he knew better. Success had nothing to do with his status or wealth. In his own eyes, he was a poor man.