Moving On

The only indication that the reason Marty was lounging against the pillows was that he had just had sex came in his quick, shallow breaths. Coyote, however, looked spent and his rear cheeks were flushed. He lay on his stomach, as always when he slept, but his head was turned and his eyes were on Marty. They both were quiet and both looked pensive.

And though Marty opened his mouth, about to say something, it was Coyote who actually spoke first. “I think we should get a dog.”

This was so far from what Marty had been thinking, that his eyes went wide and he looked down at Coyote, head cocked.

“No, no. Hear me out here. We don’t have anything that’s ours. And a dog would belong to both of us. We could keep it at either place or switch on and off. And I know what you’re going to say,” Coyote said quickly, holding his hand up. “You’re going to say,” and here Coyote did his very best imitation of a concerned Marty, “‘But Coyote, what about your allergies? You can hardly be in the same room as Toby without sneezing.’ Well,” Coyote went on, in his normal voice once again, “I have an answer to that. There are plenty of breeds that don’t shed. And we can get air cleaners and filters. All it would take is finding one that doesn’t make me sneeze and itch all the time, and I know I’ve been around dogs like that before. Bichons, for example. Or any wire-haired dogs. Or hairless dogs like those Chinese Crested dogs. Of course, we probably shouldn’t get one of those. I mean, two gay guys with a tiny, prissy dog? That’s such a cliché.”

Marty took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Um… I think we need to talk.”

Coyote laughed. “Yeah, exactly. That’s exactly what I mean about clichés. Good example!”

Shaking his head and reaching over, putting his hand on Coyote’s shoulder. “No, I mean, we need to talk.”


Coyote’s hand reached out and tried to take hold of the beer bottle around its neck. But his aim was imprecise and his hand shot past its mark. He bumped the bottle with his thumb and it tipped over. Luckily, it was nearly empty, but what was left of the beer spilled out onto the tabletop. Coyote swore colorfully and jumped up from his chair as the spilled beer spread near the edge. Deciding it would be a shame to let it go to waste, he bent over and lapped at the spill with his tongue more like a dog than a coyote.

When he’d done the best he could at that, he slumped back into the kitchen chair and dropped his arms onto the tabletop. He picked up the bottle and lifted it to his lips, letting the remainder of the beer dribble down his throat.

“Little early to be drinking, isn’t it?”

Coyote looked up to see Auntie Al walking in. He glanced at the clock. Six o’clock on the dot. “Early,” Coyote said, nodding in agreement. “Unless one has been up all night, that is.” He raised a finger in the air, trying to make his point. Then he double-checked to be sure there was no more beer in the bottle. There were a few small drops he forced out and down his throat.

After looking around the kitchen, Al cleared his throat. “You had all these?” he asked, gesturing toward the dozen empty bottles scattered around on the countertops. Coyote nodded. “Then I’m cutting you off and making you some coffee.” He started clearing away the mess.

Coyote groaned and grabbed two bottles that had yet to be emptied. “Aw, Auntie! Don’t… I’m not all that drunk… and I don’t want to be sober.” Sober, he was forced to remember the horribly depressing goodbye scene at the airport earlier that day. “Pleeeeeeeease…”

Auntie Al took out the grounds and started the coffeemaker anyway. Then he dragged a chair over and sat down next to Coyote. He gave Coyote a look-over and frowned. “It’s Marty?”

Coyote’s head bobbed up and down. His hand tightened around the neck of the beer bottles.

“You really liked him, didn’t you?” Auntie Al asked, putting a hand on Coyote’s thigh as Coyote nodded again. “But you’ve broken up with guys before. Plenty, if I recall correctly. Hearts broken on both sides.”

“Sure… but this time it’s different. This time it’s Marty.” He rubbed his palm against his face and scrubbed at his eyes. “This time it’s not because we had a fight or cheated or decided we weren’t right for each other… actually, I’ve never been in a relationship that felt more right.”

Auntie Al said nothing, simply waited for Coyote to continue.

Which he did. “This time the break-up’s not our choice. He’s moving.” The singer’s normally smooth voice cracked. “Microsoft bought out his company. Sniff! There were massive layoffs but he’s lucky. He didn’t get fired, just transferred to Redmond. Sniff! Sniff! I mean, it’s great he still has a job, but that’s the other side of the country and…” He broke off and drowned his sob in another gulp of beer, but Auntie Al didn’t need him to finish.

Auntie Al leaned forward and wrapped his arms around Coyote. He hugged tightly as Coyote rubbed his face into Auntie Al’s chest and shoulder. “I’m going to take you to bed now.”

Coyote coughed and spoke, his voice muffled in Auntie Al’s chest. “I love you, Auntie, but I’m not that drunk.”

Auntie Al pulled out of the hug and grabbed the beer out of Coyote’s hands so quickly the other man couldn’t react or put up a fight for them. “I’m going to make sure you have some coffee and then I’m going to tuck you into bed. When when you wake up, life will still be rotten but at least you won’t be intoxicated.”


What Auntie Al did not know was that Coyote had a bottle of wine in his bedroom. After he spent a few hours sleeping, he woke up in what was the beginning of a wretched hangover. There was only thing for it, and that was to keep drinking.

Coyote spent the next two days in a perpetual state of drunkenness, which was swiftly followed by half a day of vomiting, three days of sleeping, and a week of conscious depression. That last stage was the absolute worst of it all. For Coyote, it was actually the equivalent of the stage where he sat with his head in the toilet, dry heaving, but what made it worse was that his friends had to put up with him.

“Yo, would you like some of this?” There was no response. Sweetie reached in front of Coyote and took the green been casserole from Pit. Sweetie set it down and dished a spoonful out onto Coyote’s plate for him, then took a spoonful for himself before passing it on to Jamie. “Go on,” said Sweetie. “Eat up.”
“Don’t want to eat,” Coyote said, but he picked up his fork anyway.

Sweetie kept an eye on Coyote, watching the man mindlessly push the food around on the plate. Every so often he would stab a bit and bring it to his mouth. He chewed and swallowed automatically, not because he was hungry or remotely interested in the food, but because it was in front of him and he was expected to eat.

Of course, there was a lot that was expected of him that he wasn’t doing. He didn’t pitch in around the house in any capacity, with the possible exception of telling Auntie Al to get lost when the offer of washing Coyote’s bed sheets and clothes was given. He didn’t answer the phone when it rang, even if he was right there in the kitchen, within reach of it. And he didn’t perform with his band at Strokes, or even show up for scheduled practices.

In fact, he didn’t leave the house for any reason. His friends managed to make him eat and tried to restrict his alcohol intake. When they told him he needed to sleep, he went to sleep. When they told him he needed to shower, he showered.

“Hold still,” Olly said, sliding the razor down one of Coyote’s cheeks. Coyote sniffed as Olly tapped the razor against the sink—tink tink tink—and the shaving cream fell into the sink. “And don’t sneeze,” Olly instructed. “I don’t want to cut you.”

Above all, Coyote did not usually have the energy to speak. He did, of course, but sparingly. “I’ll try not to sneeze,” was all he said. What was going through his head, however, was his morning routine with Marty. The laughing, the touching. Marty loved him for his faults as much as for the rest. He couldn’t imagine finding anyone else like that.

He thought about that all the time, but didn’t say anything about it The only time when he was loose-lipped was when he was drinking, but even he knew he shouldn’t drink as much as he had at the beginning of his grief. He just didn’t care enough to do anything now. And he didn’t know why the others insisted on making him seem presentable or keeping him from starving to death.

“You’re all coming out to the club tonight, right?” Nik asked. He’d streaked his hair with purple earlier that day for the holiday. “And when I sthay all… I mean all.”

Further down at the dinner table, there was no indication that Coyote had heard. Coyote had, of course. The dining room was silent, apart from a soft clanking of silverware and the folding or rustling of napkins. But Coyote did not reply.

Nik sighed. “Sthomeone poke Yo and make sthure he’sth alive?”

Sweetie obliged. Coyote flinched, but just barely. Sweetie sighed and looked from his right to his left, where Olly was sitting. “Olly, man, I think we need your expertise here.”

Olly sighed and stood up. Coyote showed some signs of life in the form of looking up with a warning death stare. Olly answered silently by folding his hands, his fingers interlocking. Then he flipped his hands over, stretching his fingers and his arms out in front of him. Coyote shifted in his seat and moved for his drink, to make himself unavailable.

But it was too late. Olly had rounded the table and leapt upon Coyote. Coyote fought, by way of keeping his mouth closed and his face wearing a grimace. But thirty seconds into it, everyone could tell that he was quickly losing the fight. Olly ran his fingers over Coyote’s body, alternating against the tender spots of his stomach and his neck. Coyote tried curling in on himself or batting Olly away, but Olly was too quick, his fingertips making their way to spots like Coyote’s underarms and under Coyote’s chin. It was only a matter of minutes before Coyote burst out with unrestrained laughter.

In trying to get away, Coyote ended up falling out of his chair and Olly followed him down to the floor, tickling mercilessly until he got the all clear from Sweetie or Nik. And that did not come for quite some time. By then, Olly’s hands were tired and Coyote had tears in his eyes and a pain in his side from laughing so hard.

Curled up on his side in the fetal position, Coyote looked up at the table, seeing a half dozen faces looking down at him with smiles.

“Nice to hear you laugh again,” said Auntie Al.

Coyote sighed. “Mean fucks, all of you.” He made a move to bat Olly away, but Olly jumped back before Coyote made contact. “Can’t you just let a guy be depressed?”

“Nope,” said Sweetie, reaching down to give him a hand up. Coyote refused it, and picked himself up, instead. Mercifully, none of them said what he dreaded them saying: that he should forget all about his relationship with Marty and move on. He knew they probably all thought it, but he couldn’t say it to himself yet and didn’t want to hear it from anyone else. “We don’t let up because we love you, Yo. And it’s Valentine’s Day. So what do you say, you’ll come to the club tonight?”

Coyote didn’t answer right away. He climbed into his chair and gulped down some water, wishing it were vodka. There was one good thing about Strokes: there would be plenty of alcohol. But there would also be men. And men sucked. They made you love them and then, when you’re all ready to buy dogs with them, they up and move to the other side of the damn country. “I’ll go,” he said. “But don’t expect me to have a good time.” Sweetie leaned forward, nearly out of his seat, and hugged Coyote. 


The hourly drink special tasted like cherry-flavored piss. As appropriate for his mood as it was, Coyote decided that he needed something more favorable and, frankly, a little stronger. He didn’t care how badly the band had performed without him. All he cared about was getting drunk and forgetting what night it was. It felt horrible to suddenly and unexpectedly be alone on Valentine’s Day.

ihhSchhh!” He sneezed into his hand and wiped his hand against the leg of his black jeans. Then he sniffled and went right back to his comfortable state of depression.

Someone sat down on the barstool beside him but he did not bother to look up until he felt a hand on his back. And then he only looked up out of habit because it could only be one of two people. He had guessed correctly which it was. Feeling his emotions rising, he looked back down at the counter in front of him and angrily brushed away a bit of confetti there upon. Then he ran a hand through his purple-highlighted hair.

“You know, sometimes I wish I could be like you, Nik,” Coyote said at last. “Relationships take so much out of a guy- it’s almost unnatural. All that planning and effort and emotion. And, worst of all, time. You spend so much time with someone and, in the end, all it fizzles down to is a handful of moments to remember.” Coyote cleared his throat. “Lying with my head in his lap while I write a new song. Being embarrassed about sneezing through a lunch date. Picking him up after he falls on his ass ice skating. Standing graveside at Mom’s funeral and trying to be strong but crying my eyes out in his car afterward.” His voice broke and he dared not continue right away. He cleared his throat. “So what’re you doing here?”

“I wasth watching you on the monitorsth in the officthe, Coyote, and you looked stho mistherable I had to come down.”

Coyote made no attempt at hiding his deep sigh. “Thanks, but I don’t need you right now telling me to jump back in the game just because it’s Valentine’s Day and there are a bunch of single guys out there who’d love to take me home.”

Nik shifted in his seat. He looked back at Coyote with sympathy. “I wasthn’t going to…” he started, but knew better than to continue once Coyote shot him a disapproving look. Nik tried again, “What I mean isth, I just thought you could usthe a friend tonight.”

“Oh, I’ve got a friend,” Coyote replied. He was rubbing his index and middle finger back and forth over the top of the bar, rubbing at some invisible spot. But he stopped to pick up his shot glass and nodded at it with reverence. “Meet Jack. He’s smooth, relaxing, and reliable.” He lifted the glass to his lips and drank it down in a single gulp.

Eyeing him, “You practically drank usth dry in the housthe, are you working your way through the club now?” His green eyes fell on the empty shot glass. “Your friend isth…” His voice died away as he realized what he was about to say.

“Gone?” Coyote finished for him, sounding bitter. “Yeah. Seems to be a pattern with my friends, doesn’t it? But at least it’s easy to get this one back.” He reached for the bottle and poured another glassful. “There he is. Hey, Jack.” Then he paused, pulling his hand back so as not to spill as he directed a sneeze into his shoulder. “ehTChhh!” He scrubbed his nose roughly into his shoulder and sniffed hard. “Damn cigarette smoke,” he muttered.

“You don’t have to sthit here,” Nik pointed out.

“Yeah I do.” He drank down the shot and pulled a face as the strength struck him. Then he filled it up again, nearly missing. “This is where the drinks are. This is the fastest way to my goal.” He sniffed and rubbed at his nose again as he looked around the club, which was filled with white and pink and red. There were hearts dangling from the ceiling and go-go boys dressed up as cupids. And since his band had finished its set, the music was nothing but crappy techno love songs. Everywhere around him, men were dancing and touching and kissing. Everyone looked so abnormally happy that Coyote couldn’t stand it. “I can’t get through today without being completely and utterly and hopelessly shitfaced.” He downed another shot and sighed. “I have a way to go yet. So leave me alone.”

Coyote reached for the bottle to fill up again, but Nik reached out and took a hold of it for a moment. “Can I asthk you sthomething?”

“Shoot,” Coyote answered with no inflection, his eyes fixed on the bottle so he could grab it as soon as it became available again. He tried his best to ignore the fact that a Cher song was pumping through the club’s sound system, because he refused to give up wallowing for something so simple.

Nik gave it a second, then asked, “Did you love him?” Coyote twitched. “Did you love Marty?”

Coyote swallowed hard then nodded. “Deeply. More than anyone I’ve ever been with.” He sniffed and rubbed again at his nose. “Still do.” His nostrils flared a few times and he cupped his hand to his face. “hehhKSch! heh-Chhhh!” Annoyed, he glanced around as though to identify the smokers, though he wouldn’t call them out. He looked down at the counter again, then down at his lap. “God, I love him.”

“And you wish you were with him right now?”

Coyote’s head bobbed up and down in a series of sloppy nods.

Nik put his hand on Coyote’s back again and patted. “Then, if I may, what the hell are you doing here?”

Coyote pondered for a moment then laughed and leaned back on the stool. “That’s a damn good question,” he replied, rubbing at his nose. He swiveled and slid off his barstool. He swayed unsteadily, grabbing hold of the bar with one hand and Nik with the other. “Fuck… this exceedingly cheery room is spinning.”

Nik chuckled and slid his arm around the man’s waist then he motioned over for Rich to come over and help him with Coyote.


Two weeks, three days, and a matter of hours after Marty left town, Coyote made up his mind to follow him out to Washington state. Though they were sad to see him go, most of the housemates had been through this before many times with Coyote. In fact, Sweetie explained to Jamie, Coyote usually moved in and out within a year. His staying around as long as he had already was practically a record.

“You’re sthure about thisth?” Nik asked as he folded items of Coyote’s wardrobe and placed them in a soft-sided suitcase.

“I’m positive,” said Coyote, carefully boxing up his CD collection in a special container so that he’d have easy access to his favorites while driving. “It’s time for me to move on anyway. And who knows? Maybe the garage band history of Seattle will inspire my music.” It never took him long to find a band to play with whenever he moved to a new place. But this time the move had nothing at all to do with the music scene and everything to do with not giving up on love.

“But what if Marty…”

Coyote shrugged at the question Olly didn’t want to finish.

“Then I’ll wish him well, turn the car around, and drive back. But I can’t leave it as it is. I have to give it a shot. And a grand, romantic gesture might be what it takes for both of us.”

The housemates all helped him pack his things into suitcases and boxes, going in and out during the day as their schedules let them. They kept the mood light with stories and jokes in order to keep their emotions in check. And Auntie Al kept them all supplied with cookies, sandwiches, and plenty of drinks. But when a six pack of beer and a six pack of woodchucks were brought out, Coyote did not touch any of them.

On the night when they finished packing and loading everything into Coyote’s car, they pulled Coyote away from the house for one final fling. Assuming they were heading to Strokes, even though it was too early to go there, Coyote was incredibly surprised when they pulled up outside Rich and Ben-Ji’s townhouse. “What’s this?”

“Just a little something we threw together for you,” Olly said. “Everyone’s going to be there to say good bye.” They parked up on the street then dragged Coyote inside the house. The moment they made it to the living room, a microphone was thrust into Coyote’s hand by Alex, one of the other members in Coyote’s current band.

“Well,” said Coyote, looking around at the sea of people who had all turned up just for him. He took in all the streamers, balloons, and banners. He soaked in the presence of a fine buffet and an open bar. “I’m just glad no one’s making a big fuss about this.” Everyone, to the last, laughed at that. “No, really, I’m honored. And who knows…” He shrugged. “Maybe I’ll be back in a couple weeks. But I’ll be sure to call ahead just in case you want to throw me a Welcome Back party.” He waved at the room as a whole. “Thanks again, everyone. I’ll miss you.”

After he handed the microphone back to Alex, the man hugged him. He hugged back and, a moment later, found himself in the middle of a big group hug involving the whole band. Coyote had already worked out a contract so they could keep playing Strokes in his albescence, at least one day a week for the next couple months, but he knew they’d miss him as lead vocalist.

He’d gone away lots of times before. He was no stranger to being on the road on tour for more months out of the year than not. But this felt different to him. And, it seemed, it felt different enough to his friends for them to throw him this party.

As soon as the band members broke away, he was pulled into another hug by Turbo. “I’m really going to miss your performances,” he said. “You’re the best I’ve ever worked with.” Coyote was sure he must have been exaggerating a bit, but his ego didn’t mind much; he thanked Turbo all the same.

“Coyote?” When Turbo was done with him, Julia was right there. As he leaned in to give her a hug, he saw Kevin, Julia’s boy, hovering not far behind. “You take care of yourself, all right?” She patted him on the back and then pulled back.

“I will,” Coyote promised. “You, too. I—”

“Jules?” Julia turned and both looked to see Kevin coming over to them. “Can we go now?”

“We just got here,” she replied, right out.

He shrugged and came just short of making a face of abject displeasure. “You said we wouldn’t say long. This isn’t my scene, and you said we could go when I wanted to, remember?”

She sighed and nodded. “Okay.” She kissed Coyote’s cheek. “May your journey be safe and may the winds be with you.”

The moment she retreated with Kevin towards the spare room where guest coats were being piled, Jamie and Sweetie came up to Coyote. “I’m sure it’s what everyone’s saying, but I’m really going to miss you this,” Jamie said, catching him in a tight hug and lifting him up off the floor a few inches with a laugh. “It was great getting to know you. And I hope to see you back again soon. Just not too soon, because I hope it works out.”

Coyote nodded. “Thanks, man. I really hope so, too.” An ache settled in his stomach when he thought about leaving these guys. But there was a flutter of excitement higher up in his chest that he couldn’t ignore either. He looked around the room at his friends. There was Rich and Ben-Ji, Sweetie and Jamie, and even Julia had someone. Whether or not Marty took him in, the important thing was that he wasn’t giving up yet on the relationship he wanted. That had to count for something.


Coyote pulled into a visitor’s parking spot in the parking deck and turned off his car’s engine. He sniffed at himself and made a face. He smelled ripe, which made sense since he hadn’t had a shower in over a day, having driven pretty straight through from Nebraska without stopping for more than a few hours at a time for breaks. The old car had arrived in better shape than Coyote had, thanks to a tune up Pit had performed on it as a going away present.

He popped a breath strip into his mouth and released the latch for the trunk of his car to get his luggage. After dragging a comb through his hair and changing his shirt, Coyote headed to the elevator. Marty lived on the eighteenth floor, in apartment 18B. B for benevolence. B for betting the farm. B for boyfriend? He took a deep breath before hitting the buzzer for the door, keeping the button depressed for a good three seconds before letting up to be sure it was heard. After being on the road for about five days, there was a sense of urgency in all his movements now. Which was why he was barging in on Marty after midnight. But, oddly, Coyote wasn’t worried about the outcome.

Marty answered the door before Coyote could debate with himself about buzzing again. He wore his boxers, the flashy red ones that turned Coyote on so much, and nothing else. “Coyote?” he asked in disbelief.

Coyote hadn’t actually told Marty of his plans, figuring Marty would probably talk him out of it. He’d sent a text message with a sort of announcement, but there had been no arrival date or explanation. Before there could be one now, however, Coyote saw movement behind Marty inside the apartment.

“Hey,” came a sleepy voice. A man tugged the door open and glared at Coyote. He was also in boxers, though he also had on a sleeveless undershirt. He was, in a word, gorgeous. “What’s this?”

“Oh…” Coyote backed up. “I didn’t realize… so sorry to interrupt. I… my car’s downstairs… cell phone’s on… later you can—”

Marty turned to the guy, and on his arm. “It’s okay, Bill. I know him. Go back to bed.”

“Kay,” he said, yawning. “Just keep it down. Got work in the morning, yeah?” And with that, the man disappeared back into a bedroom, closing the door behind.

Marty looked at Coyote now, and sighed. “Come on in,” he said. “Just keep your voice down. My roommate’s kind of picky about noise.”

“Roommate?” said Coyote, a look of recognition crossing over his face. Then he smiled. “I’m getting déjà vu here.”

Marty laughed very softly and led Coyote to a brown leather couch. “You came all the way out here to win me back, Yo? That’s your surprise?”

“That’s right. Whatever it takes. I was absolutely miserable without you.”

“You pulled up stakes just like that and drove all the way across country for me?”

“For you. And for us,” Coyote said. “To see if we could make it work.”

“Well then,” said Marty, very softly and very slowly. “I guess I owe it to you to give it a try, also.”

Coyote blinked. He was shocked that it had been so easy. Ever since leaving Maryland, he’d been working out what to say. His speech started with how the breakup hadn’t been because of any fault in their relationship and it ended with all the reasons Coyote could think of that made them good together. Right now, however, he couldn’t think of anything other than how badly he needed to kiss Marty.

So he dove in, hands on cheeks, then heads and necks, then moving lower. Marty kissed back, pushing Coyote onto his back on the couch and gripping Coyote’s hips between his thighs. Coyote bucked happily but the movement made a couch cushion bang into the coffee table, which rocked unsteadily but did not tip because both men reached out to grab hold of it.

“Marty!” came a sleepy voice from behind a closed bedroom door.

“Sorry!” Marty called back. “You won’t hear another peep out of us, I promise!”

Coyote restrained his giggles. He whispered, “What about Mister Grumpy in there?”

“Just a temporary living situation,” Marty explained. “I move out on Friday to a two bedroom apartment in Redmond.”

“Got another noise-conscious roommate all lined up, I suppose?”

Marty grinned at him. “Not unless you developed that trait since I saw you a few weeks ago. With what I’m getting paid, I can afford to go without a roommate, but with a live-in boyfriend. The place can be ours.

Coyote blinked again. “Aw hell,” he sighed. “I love you.”

“Love you too,” Marty replied. He gave Coyote another kiss, which was more tender and involved slightly less groping. “Welcome to Seattle, Yo.”  He slid his arms around Coyote in a hug.

Coyote hugged back, glad that he had left one warm and loving home for what definitely seemed like another.