The next two years seemed to pass quickly. Winston and I fell into a comfortable routine. He didn’t move in, and I never saw his place—he said it was small and messy—but we were together several times every week and he usually slept at my apartment from Friday through Sunday. I was set to receive my MBA from Stanford in June. We took a lot of drives in his convertible. It was an easy way to put any possible disapproval behind us and just “be” together.
And of course, the sex was mind-blowing. At first, I doubted that I could handle his gargantuan prick, but I found that I actually needed its size to be really satisfied sexually. He even let me fuck him a few times, although I was embarrassed that my cock was so small, compared to his. We had a great sex life, and I was beginning to think it might turn out to be more than just that.
Then one Tuesday evening, a sharp knock came at my door. Thinking it would be Winston, surprising me by showing up unexpectedly, I threw the door open with a warm smile and then stared in shock.
Two uniformed policemen stood there, looking solemn. My knees buckled and one of the cops quickly took my arm and gently guided me into the room and seated me on the couch. One sat next to me, and the other took the chair opposite.
Up to this point, none of us had spoken. The officer in the chair looked up at me and said, “I’m Sergeant Luís Guzmán, and this is Officer Paul Chen.” I looked at them surprise. I had not even noticed their ethnicity.
Guzmán continued, “I’m sorry, Mr. Hobson, but I’m afraid we have some bad news for you.”
The blood drained from my face. I thought, “Mom? Dad? Natalie? Who could it be? What the fuck has happened?”
Guzmán cleared his throat. “Sir, would you like a glass of water or something?”
I shook my head, and he continued solemnly, as if reading from a well-rehearsed script, “Detective Winston Buchanan has been shot. He’s at Stanford Medical Center in critical condition. The doctors say it doesn’t look good.”
I was stunned. Winston had been shot. He was in the hospital. It didn’t look good. Then, I thought, “Why are these cops here, with me? Do they know about Winston and me? Is that going to be a problem for him? Will he get fired for it?”
“Mr. Hobson?” Guzmán said. “Are you all right, sir?”
“Uh, yes. Thank you. I. . .” And then I lost it. I started sobbing and shaking. Officer Chen put a hand on my shoulder. Guzmán stood, went into the kitchen and got me a glass of water. Handing it to me, he said, “I realize this is quite a shock, Bruce, but we need to get going. . .”
“Wha. . . What?” I said, looking up at him, confused. He had said we needed to get going.
“Winston asked to see you. He’s sort of holding on until you get there.”
Numb, I got up and let the two policemen guide me to their cruiser. With lights and siren, we rushed to the hospital, which was only ten minutes away. They all but carried me inside, into the E.R., to a curtained area where a doctor and two nurses stepped aside to let me approach the bed.
Winston lay there, covered in white sheets, with IVs in both hands and machines beeping and blinking around him. His eyes were closed, but I could see that he was breathing shallowly. I looked toward the doctor, who stepped forward.
“He has two bullets in his chest. One is in a lung, and the other, the problem one, is lodged in his heart. If we tried to operate, he would quickly bleed out. There really isn’t anything we can do for him except keep him comfortable until it’s over.”
I gasped, trembling with emotion. Sergeant Guzmán stepped up and put his both hands on my shoulders.
“He wanted to see you. . .” he reminded me.
I stepped closer and picked up Winston’s right hand. It was cold, but I could see that he was still breathing.
“Winston?” I barely whispered. His eyes opened, and he turned his head toward me. He managed a weak smile.
“Bruce! How the fuck are you?”
I smiled. He was still here, my lover, my friend.
“A hell of a lot better than you are!”
“I forgot to duck.” His voice was raspy, strained.
“What have I told you about that?” I tried to smile again.
“My bad. . .” he took a quivering breath. “Listen. . . I wanted. . . to say. . .” The effort was too much and his chest heaved.
The doctor stepped forward a little. “Just take it easy, Detective Buchanan.”
Winston nodded and then looked up at me again. Tears were running down my face and I could barely breathe.
“To say. . . I love you, Bruce.” He took a deeper breath, gaining strength. “I know we haven’t said that to each other, but my time is running out, so it needs to be said.”
“I. . . I love you, too, Winston,” I croaked. “I’ll always love you.”
He smiled. “I’ll probably be late picking you up for the drive on Saturday. . .”
I was confused. I looked at the doctor, who shook his head. Winston was slipping fast, and his mind was playing tricks on him.
Through my tears, I said, “That’s OK, Win. I’ll wait for you. I’m in no hurry.”
He squeezed my hand and looked around the room. Seeing the two officers, he said, “Guzmán, Chen. Thanks.”
They both nodded solemnly.
Winston turned to look at me. He squeezed my hand again and then sighed deeply. Suddenly, the machines attached to him began to squeal and beep. The doctor stepped forward quickly and felt for a pulse in Winston’s neck, then got out his stethoscope and listened to his chest.
“Code Blue,” the doctor said urgently.
The team went into action immediately. I was firmly guided back to where the two policemen were standing. A crash cart was brought in, and paddles were applied to Winston’s bare chest. As I watched, I only thought about how strong and commanding his body was, especially as it made powerful love to me all those times.
The paddles worked, and the machines quiesced. The doctor inserted a plastic tube in my lover’s mouth, and taped it in place as a machine started huffing and puffing, breathing for Winston. Then it occurred to me to ask, “Why are you doing all this? Didn’t you say there was nothing you could do?”
The doctor stepped away from Winston’s bed and came over to me. “Your friend is an organ donor. One of the first things he said to me was to make sure that any of his organs that could help someone would be saved. We are just keeping him going until the O.R. is ready to harvest them. Unfortunately, his heart can’t be used, but he was such a strong and healthy man that just about everything else can save a life or help restore someone to health.”
I just lost it at that. Even dying, this robust, loving man thought only of others. The two officers gripped my arms and led me to a chair just outside the curtains. They stood in silence as my body shook with sobs.
Soon, a pair of orderlies and a nurse in surgical scrubs appeared, and they prepared to take Winston away to the O.R. The doctor who had been caring for him stepped out and said, “If you’d like, you can have a moment with him. . .”
I don’t know where I got the strength. I stood shakily, shook my head at the two policemen who looked ready to help, and walked over to Winston’s bedside. I took his hand in mine again, squeezed it, and then leaned over and kissed his forehead. Then I fell on him, sobbing uncontrollably. The doctor guided me away, into the supporting arms of the policemen. The wheels of the bed were unlocked, and it was rolled down the hall by the nurse and orderlies.
In the unnatural silence after they were gone, I just sat, stunned. Finally, Sergeant Guzmán came close and spoke softly, “Sir, can we take you home now?”
I looked up, confused. “Will he. . . I mean, will they. . .”
“I believe that after his organs are saved, he will be taken to a funeral home.”
“Where? Which one?”
“I’m not sure. Do you know if he had a will or any specific wishes for. . .”
I shook my head. I was ashamed to admit that we were not close enough to have discussed death or funerals. I was beginning to panic.
“I don’t. . . what should I do?”
“Sir, the department has people. . . they will be in touch and can help with all the. . . arrangements.”
“What about Winston’s family? Who will tell them?”
“I’m afraid Winston only has a sister in North Carolina. We’ll get in touch with her, but I’m pretty sure they were not close. As far as I can tell, you’re as good as his next of kin.”
“Yes, sir. And I’ve been authorized to ask you if you would be willing to coordinate with the department for his funeral. As you might expect, a police officer who dies in the line of duty receives very particular honors.”
The two officers returned me to my apartment. The next several hours were a blur. The next morning, three more policemen, one of them with stars on his uniform, knocked at my door. They asked me if I was able to discuss a few things with them.
They told me that Winston’s funeral would be attended by hundreds of police officers from all over California and many western states. A long procession would conduct his coffin from the funeral home after a brief service, to the national cemetery where he would be buried with full military honors. I knew that he had served in Viet Nam, so that part was not surprising.
As we talked, it began to dawn on me that these policemen were treating me as if I were a member of Winston’s family. When they paused in their explanations, I said, “Thank you for telling me all of this, but could I ask. . . what is my role? I mean, you’re acting like I’m his. . . brother. . . or something.”
The officer with the stars, who had introduced himself as Captain Biggs, said, “I’m sorry sir. I should have explained. Winston listed you as his next of kin.”
“But I’m not. . . actually. . .”
“I know about your relationship, sir, and I have to say that there’s nobody who was closer to Winston or who loved him more or who he loved more than you.”
“You mean. . . it’s all right with the department? I thought. . .”
“Yes, I understand. You probably thought Winston would be in trouble if your relationship were known.” He paused as I looked at him in wonder.
“We have come a long way, sir, and a relationship between two people of the same. . . gender. . . is fully accepted now. Winston was a proud man, but he was even prouder of his love for you. I don’t think anyone would have had the balls. . . uh, pardon my French. . . to give him any guff over who he loved.”
With that, I sighed in relief. The captain and the other offices, one of whom was the police chaplain, went over the funeral details with me, stopping to ask me if certain arrangements were OK with me. I told them to honor Winston as much as possible, and just tell me what part I needed to play.
The funeral took place on a bright, sunny day with a gentle breeze off the mountains making hundreds of flags flutter. I was picked up by a police limousine and introduced to the Chief of Police, who was in it waiting for me.
The service in the funeral home consisted of a series of speeches by Winston’s fellow officers and superiors, plus some prayers by the police chaplain. The coffin was draped in an American flag and carried out to the sound of skirling bagpipes. It was placed on a gun carriage and led a slow procession through the city, out to the national cemetery. There, some prayers were said and taps were played. An honor guard carefully folded the flag from Winston’s coffin and presented it to me.
Back in the city, there was a reception for dignitaries in City Hall, where the flags were at half-staff and a lot of black crêpe was draped over the balustrades. I was surrounded by policemen and friends of Winston’s, who all treated me like a grieving spouse.
I was shocked and amazed that everyone was so cordial and sympathetic. My loss was respected, and no one acted like it was anything out of the ordinary that Winston and I were lovers.
Sergeant Guzmán and Officer Chen drove me back to my apartment. I invited them in, but they demurred, so I found myself alone on my balcony, a glass of Chablis in my hand.
I thought back over the previous couple of years. Winston and I had found a comfortable rhythm of spending time together, sharing fun with a small group of friends, driving in the countryside, and of course mind-blowing sex.
My head was spinning as I went over the memories. I found myself crying, laughing, shaking my head in denial, and my cock was hard as a rock through it all.
“What kind of a world is this?” I wondered aloud bitterly. “To give me a man like Winston to love, to make it all work so perfectly, and then to steal him from me in just a few short minutes?”
I drank the whole bottle of Chablis and then opened another. I think I would have kept doing that all night, except that I threw up and figured I had better stop. I cried myself to sleep.
The next morning, a knock came at the door. Red-eyed, I peered through the peep-hole. I almost didn’t recognize my visitors. Sergeant Guzmán and Officer Chen were in civilian clothes, looking solemnly from their side of the peep-hole.
I opened the door and silently invited them in. We all shook hands, and I offered them something to drink.
“You got a beer?” Guzmán asked. I smiled and quickly handed both of them a Coors.
We sat, and I looked at them, wondering what brought them to my apartment.
Clearing his throat, Guzmán said, “Mr. Hobson. . . Bruce. . . we’re here to. . . uh. . . give you something.” He reached in his pocket and pulled out a set of car keys. My heart froze as I recognized them at once.
“Winston’s convertible?” I said incredulously.
“Yes. The department’s attorneys found his will, and he left the car to you. Along with this note.” He handed me a folded piece of paper.
My hand shook as I took it from him.
Unfolding it, I read aloud, “Bruce, lover, we both know my fucking job is dangerous. I don’t have any intention of you ever reading this, but just in case, I want you to have the convertible. I know you’ll cherish it a lot more than anyone else ever could. Be strong. Remember me, but move on when you’re ready. All my love, Winston.”
I looked up. Guzmán and Chen had tears in their eyes. I probably would have had them, too, but I had cried so much over the past days that there weren’t any tears left to shed.
The three of us sat in silence for a while. They finished their beers and made moves as if to get up to leave. I awoke from my reverie and remembered that I was their host.
“I want to thank you both—for everything you’ve done.”
“Sir, it was an honor. Winston was a good friend and a good cop.”
As they rose and we shook hands, I asked one more question. “May I ask why you two were given this assignment. I mean, wasn’t Winston a detective? Wouldn’t a fellow detective have been the logical representative?”
They looked at each other, then turned to me. Chen said, “We gladly took the job because we are together, just like you and Winston.” He paused to let that sink in. “I think the department figured we would be better able to appreciate what you are feeling.”
I stepped over and hugged Chen, then Guzmán. Finding new tears, I smiled at them and said, “Thank you. I hope you two have a wonderful life together. And I hope we meet again some time.” I paused and looked at them fervently, “And be safe.”
We shook hands at the door as they left. A few minutes later, I took the keys to the convertible and went outside. There it sat, clean as a whistle, top down, and waiting for me. I started the engine and headed for the 280. I didn’t know where I was going, but I felt Winston riding with me, his loving smile cheering me on my way.