The other side of life (a short story)

I followed the fine-looking man the night he went home from his office.

He was finishing some paperwork earlier that day while I was sitting in front of him, gazing lustily at his firm chest wrapped in his tight-fitting suit.

Those big, brown eyes, which could hypnotize any man or woman alike, were covered by a pair of dark-framed glasses. His dark eyebrows furrowed as he noted down the mistakes on the last reports and typed at his PC.

I was trying to be patient when, with a heavy sigh, the man leaned back to his chair. I smiled for I knew it was time for him to call it a day.

He got up, stretching before taking off his jacket, going down, and doing some push-ups.

He kept doing his workout routine, completely ignoring me standing behind him, gazing at his backside, wondering what it felt like to be beneath him.

I gasped a little when he abruptly got up from the floor and made his way to his desk to pick up the ringing telephone. I swore I could smell the shampoo from his wavy, black hair.

“No,” the beautiful man said into the phone. “There is no need for that. I think I am going to walk home this evening. Good night.”

The man put his black jacket back on and swiftly went to the door as I tried to match his speed. It was useless for me to tell him to slow down a bit because first, I did not know his name, and second, he could not see me at all.

Was I crazy to follow this man even though I was not on this side of life anymore? It was worth it, I decided. For his face was the only face I saw that day I departed this life and there was a mysterious need inside of me to watch this beautiful creature.

He gracefully walked out of the elevator when the door opened on the ground floor.

He walked out of the building, saying goodbye to the security officer at the reception desk. The moonlight made his bronze skin glow.

I followed him. I just couldn’t help myself.

***

Remy decided to go home by himself that night. It had been a long day at work. His friends had invited him to a sports bar near the office, but he declined the invitation. All he wanted was a cold beer and a hot shower.

Remy liked to walk home to his apartment whenever his restlessness came.

It was always very hot during the day. Remy liked the cool air embracing his skin and the wind sweeping his hair that gave him peace when evening fell in the city.

He took a pack of cigarettes from his pocket and lit one.

Suddenly he turned around. No one was there.

That was odd. He thought he heard someone. He observed the dark pavement behind him before he decided to let it go and continue his walk.

***

I was still following the man when he arrived at his apartment. As soon as he let himself inside, he quickly unbuttoned his shirt, stripped off and threw his clothes into a pile of dirty laundry.

Wearing only a jockstrap—fucking hot!—he went to the kitchen, opened the refrigerator and grabbed a can of beer.

DON’T FORGET TO DO THE LAUNDRY.

Reading a note plastered on the freezer, he smiled a bit as he gulped down his beer. The man then went to the bathroom, turned the shower on and stepped in, letting the hot water pour over his hair and body.

“Ah, heaven,” he muttered.

He took a washcloth and rubbed all his body. It was too much for me. The man was giving me a show.

I had to touch him. I knew I should not—or could not, for that matter—but I came toward him, slowly closing the distance between us.

I faced him and opened my hands to embrace his body. His eyes were still closed as I pressed my lips to his and put my hands around him.

***

Remy felt something cold touch his lips while hot water was pouring on his skin.

He opened his eyes and screamed. Naked and wet, he ran to the living room and frantically dialed.

“Hello?”

“Lukas! Thank God! Lukas, you won’t believe me—”

“Whoa, calm down, tiger. What’s up?”

“I saw him, Lukas. I saw him! I was in the bathroom and his face appeared out of nowhere in front of me!”

“Remy …”

“Don’t! Don’t tell me it was just a figment of my imagination. It was real, Lukas! You have to believe me,” Remy said, tears falling.

“I am with a client right now.”

“Lukas, please?” Remy’s voice broke.

A moment of silence.

“I believe you, sweetheart. I will come as soon as I can.”

Remy sat down on the couch in the living room, breathing hard. His hands were shaking as he reached for a photograph on a small table beside the sofa.

It was a picture of him hugging a younger, lean man from behind.

The man had a goatee and his eyes were piercing blue. Both of themwere smiling in the picture. Remy’s eyes looked straight to the camerawhile the lad glanced sideways at him.

Remy touched the man’s face in the picture tenderly.

***

Damn! I did not want that! I did not want the handsome man to cry. I did not want that at all! All I wanted was to touch him. To feel him.

The man was crying as he waited for his friend to come. I fought the urge to rush toward him and embrace him tightly.

I was confused, however.

I saw him, Lukas. I saw him!

That was what he said.

He knew my face? But how could he know? I did not know this man. All I knew was that his face was the only face I saw before departing to the other side.

I peeped at the picture he was looking at. The face of the gangly man he was embracing in the picture looked familiar. I went to the bathroom to look into the mirror.

That was me in the picture all right, even though I looked grayish now.

I had thought maybe I was the man’s guardian angel and was assigned to observe him before this revelation.

The hell I am, I told myself, a guardian angel was not supposed to touch himself while watching the man he was supposed to watch over jacking off in the shower.

However, I still could not remember who Remy had been in my previous life.

***

“Lukas!”

Remy embraced the tall man with dark-blonde hair as soon as he opened the door. Lukas, who was slimmer than Remy but taller, smiled and put his arms around his lover.

“I am here, baby. I’m always here.”

“He was here, Lukas. I—”

“Sshhh. Calm down, baby.”

Lukas leaned down and put his lips to Remy’s. He then wrapped his lover in a tight embrace.

“I’m here, baby. I’m sorry I’m late,” he whispered.

Remy smiled.

***

I felt a rage when I saw the tenderness between the two men. I was seeing red. That was supposed to be me holding Remy. Kissing him.

They were lying on the couch and lovingly caressing each other. Suddenly Remy spoke.

“I saw him, Lukas. I saw Noel.”

“Baby, it was just a dream,” said Lukas, hugging Remy tightly.

“I don’t think I can ever forgive myself. I don’t think I will ever forget him.”

Noel?

“We have to move on, honey. We have to,” said Lukas, stroking Remy’s chest.

Remy laughed, shakily.

Noel? Was that my name? Of course that was my name for Remy had said so but why couldn’t I remember? Who was I? Who am I?

***

Remy began to cry against Lukas’ chest.

“I never wanted him to die, Lukas. I just did not expect him to be outside my office when that mad shooter came in September and murdered all of those people. I felt so guilty because … because he never knew I wasn’t there. I was with you.”

Lukas hugged Remy closer. His eyes were also filled with tears.

“I never hated Noel even though he had made me the other guy in your life, Remy,” said Lukas, a lump on his throat.

“Yes, we had good times together, but who threw a surprise party for your birthday? Who gave you that watch you like to wear as a gift after you graduated from your Masters?” he said.

“I was jealous of him because sometimes I felt I only had your body but your heart was his.”

Remy touched Lukas’ lips with his fingers.

“Don’t talk like that.”

“It’s the truth,” Lukas said with a sad smile.

“No, it’s not. Yes, I was in love with Noel and probably will always be. But he is gone. You were there when no one else was after his death. You even came here tonight just because I thought I saw his face in the bathroom.”

“Ah, so you agree that it was just your imagination?” said Lukas, grinning.

“Yeah, maybe it was. But you have to believe me, it was so real.”

“Do you think his soul is still here, somewhere?”

“Maybe, but I know one thing for sure.”

“What’s that?”

“That you are here.”

***

My name is Noel and I remember everything.

That beautiful man, Remy, who was sleeping with a smile on his face as Lukas held him close was my partner for several years. I always knew that Remy fooled around behind my back.

He needed to submit to men that he thought were more masculine than him.

I always forgave him even though he broke my heart more than a few times.

He eventually stopped after one night when we almost broke up after our biggest fight. It ended with him on his knees, crying and begging me to give him one last chance.

But I did not think I could ever forgive him about Lukas.

Lukas. Lukas! That man drove me crazy. I did not like the way he looked at Remy whenever the three of us bumped into each other during a party or when we went to the movies. I hated him.

I hated Lukas not because he looked at Remy with lust. I hated him because he looked at Remy with tenderness and love. I hated him even more when I noticed the way Remy looked back at Lukas.

After a while, some of my friends told me that they saw Remy and Lukas together on several occasions. I could not take it anymore.

The truth was, I hated Lukas because deep down inside I knew he was the one who could give Remy what he needed.

I was going to break up with Remy, giving him his freedom so we both could move on. I went to his office but his secretary told me that he went out with “a client” named Lukas.

I fought the tears in my eyes as I walked out of the building. I knew where Lukas’ home was and maybe Remy was at his place. I was going to take a cab to go there and confront both of them when I heard the gunshots.

However, as the shooter came closer, I closed my eyes and opened my arms. I imagined Remy, smiling, looking at me as I heard the gunfire and my chest burst open in a gush of red.

Everything was fast-forward after that.

I remembered lying on a bed in a white room with Remy sitting by my side. He was looking at me with tears in his eyes and holding my hand. I tried to say something but nothing came out and then everything went dark.

I heard Remy crying after I was pronounced dead by the doctor.

I knew then why Remy’s face was the one I remembered.

I looked down now at Remy and Lukas, lying peacefully asleep.

A demon in me wanted to go to the kitchen to ignite a fire and burn the apartment down, killing both of them. I caught that monster and locked it in a cage inside my heart. I still loved Remy and would for eternity.

It was time to go.

I leaned down and kissed Remy’s lips.

“I hope you are happy, baby. I really do.”

I left the apartment for good.

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