Chapter Three

It was for the better part of an hour that Bradley and Oscar spent texting, the former barely moving from the piano bench that he had found himself at, drinking his now cold tea with a smile on his face. They spoke of everything and yet at the same time barely anything rational, just little parts of life that they felt the need to share. Bo wasn’t really sure how to approach all of this, but the contentment that he felt was fully satisfying enough that he really didn’t mind where it went.

Bo turned on the bench, reaching for his cane and standing in a fluid, and well-practiced, movement. He tottered for a moment, reaching for his mug only after tucking his phone into his sweatpants pocket, the smile was a constant on his face, despite the fact that he tried to shake it away.

“You’re acting like a teenager with a crush.” The words were spoken out loud, despite the fact that he was alone in the apartment. It was not necessarily a habit that he felt the need to break, his therapist had repeatedly reminded him that it was not necessarily a bad habit, just an odd one.

When the phone started to ring, Bradley hurried to answer it without a second thought, he had no fear of a phone call.

“I would have been fine just texting.” Bradley’s voice was soft, the worry of being too loud for his neighbors and Oscar’s ears overwhelming as he spoke, the phone pressed into his shoulder as he used both hands to wash his mug. His hips pressed into the countertop as he struggled to stay standing.

There was a huff of laughter on the other end of the line, as if the idea of not calling was far below Oscar.

I prefer to call when I ask someone out, and since you’ve got the advantage of google,” A pause, the beep of a horn, and Bradley felt his heart flutter, though he couldn’t be sure if it was the admittance of Oscar wanting to ask him on a date or the car horn in the background. “Breakfast? At nine? Broadway Restaurant, 2265 Broadway?

Bo smiled, the smallest amount of anxiety coming to the forefront of his mind at the thought of going on his first date in a long time. “Okay.” It was all he could say, his mind a little empty as he grinned. He set the mug in the sink, grabbing at the edge of the counter in a way of steadying himself before speaking again. “Don’t you have a meeting?”

It was usual for Bradley to be so soft spoken, but he could practically see the strain in Oscar’s face as if he were attempting to hear him better. The slight frustration in Oscar’s voice was apparent as he muttered a short phrase in a language that Bradley wasn’t exactly familiar with, though whether or not the frustration was directed towards Bo was beyond him.

Then how about 10?” Oscar’s voice was slightly distant from the speaker of the phone, and Bradley found himself nodding, despite the fact that the man couldn’t see him. “I should be done by then.”

Bo smiled, “That sounds perfect.” He found himself not wanting to hang up, just being in the almost presence of someone so calming was something he found himself enjoying. “If I’m allowed to ask, what is your meeting for?”

There were hundreds of things running through the man’s mind as he asked, the very idea of getting to know the handsome man from a few days ago rather exciting in his mind. Oscar was someone he could see himself being friends with for a long time, but it was apparent that the other man instantly saw the pair of them as something more.

The idea was worrying, but not unwelcome.

You can ask.” There was a rather long pause, and for just a moment Bradley wondered if his question was not welcomed. “I am working out the specifics for a project that I am working on.”

It was obvious by his phrasing that the project was still, in some ways, under wraps. Bradley felt no need to push, and just as he was about to say his goodbyes, and promise to see the man later, Oscar spoke again.

I’ve got to go.” It was spoken softly, as if it were an apology rather than an explanation. Bradley found himself frowning, slightly disappointed, but not in a sad way. “I’ll see you at 10?

“Of course.” Bo nodded, though he made no move to end the call.

Goodbye Bowie.” The beep of the call ending was overtaken by the happiness at hearing the handsome man call him ‘Bowie’; it was not a nickname he had heard before, and the idea of it belonging only to Oscar was rather encouraging.

Bo set his phone on the countertop, a bright smile on his face as he just thought about how the morning has gone so far, it was nowhere near what he had expected, but he didn’t find the break in his usual schedule awful. The usual chime of the clock was what ruled his day, but this wasn’t something he hated, that is, trying something as new as going to breakfast with someone brand new.

A glance at the clock hanging in his kitchen turned into a staring match, his mostly distracted mind unable to supply the time.

“Just after 9.” He muttered, reaching up a hand to card it through his hair as he smiled to himself. The walk to the diner that Oscar had picked out would take just over twenty-minutes at his usual speed, but something felt off in him while standing in the kitchen.

As if a wind were to blow just right and knock him off of his one-legged stand.

“I’ll need thirty then.” Once again he spoke aloud, the words seeming to echo around the empty apartment. He made an attempt to shrug away the strange feeling, but as he started to totter towards the front door, it only seemed to grow.

He snatched up his leg, holding it loosely in his right hand as he leaned heavily onto his cane, Bo made his way to his bedroom. A running list of everything that he had to do swirling through his head as he went, the sudden realization of the importance of today stopped him in his tracks, though he did little to let the thought continue.

I’ll call her later.” It was more of a thought than a vocal statement.

A tally of every time that Bo has called his sister in the past year, brought a disappointing frown as he sat on the edge of his bed.

Repeatedly Bradley promised himself that he would call her on a more constant basis, but when it seemed like every call revolved around either coming to see a show or how the parents were doing, Bo found the call more of a hassle than anything else.

Bo never told his sister about his accident, and now that it was nearly two years since, it seemed like too long of a time to wait to tell her, and he felt like it was something that he should tell her in person.

Amelia Jones was a wonderful person, she dedicated all of her time to volunteering at homeless shelters and throughout different parts of New Orleans, as she never left home. Bo had originally felt the need to pull her up to New York as often as he could, but she loved the life that she led, and she truly believed that New Orleans needed her help. Not that Bradley disagreed, their hometown needed a lot of help it seemed.

Though he constantly found himself worrying whenever he heard news that a new tropical storm or hurricane was headed her way. Bradley trusted that she was safe, and if Mel ever needed him, she reached out.

Today was her second wedding anniversary, her husband was a kind man, though the last time he had seen either of them was the wedding, months before his accident. Bradley stood, shifting his hips side to side as he let his leg fall into place, sighing once it did.

Wearing a prosthesis is always strange, the leg can shift in the metaphorical socket as he walks, and sometimes when he gets sweaty it feels like he’s wearing a suction cup on his stump. But he’s working on getting used to it, and after almost two years, there’s very little that throws him off when it comes to the fake limb.

But Mel didn’t know, and neither did her husband, and if by some chance she saw a news article or a story on his accident, she never said a word. It had been top news for a while, the entire Broadway community was absolutely heartbroken to hear what had happened, but like all news stories he fell off the radar. There was a slim chance she heard anything, but Bradley still worries.

Bo made his way back into the kitchen, tucking his cane into the crook of the kitchen chairs as he grabbed his phone. There was very little left for him to do in his apartment, as so much of his time was going to be spent walking to the restaurant, he felt the need to dial his sister as he left through the front door, double checking that he locked it as he went.

Oli!” Mel’s voice was much too loud as she spoke, but Bradley found himself smiling at her excitement. “It’s been so long! I’ve missed you.

A light laugh passed on both sides of the phone call, “I’ve missed you to Mel.” Bradley watched his footing as he stepped onto the elevator, this particularly one always left too much of an edge for the man to step up to without having to look. “Happy Anniversary to the pair of you.”

Thank you Oli!” Mel’s excitement did not dwindle as Bradley continued down and out of his building, a smile at the doorman as he passed by. “Daniel says the same. What of the city? I haven’t seen you in so long!

It was fully Bradley’s fault that it had been so long, and he voiced that without a second thought. “I’m sorry Mel, and it’s alright here. Loud, busy, but still home.” The conversation felt almost scripted, and Bradley felt odd.

It’s so loud! What are you doing so early?” Bradley could see the smile on Mel’s face as he continued down the streets, the easy pathway second nature to him as he walked.

“I am heading to breakfast,” Bradley smiled, the second part of the sentence added as an afterthought, “With a friend.”

There was a bit of a squeal on the other end and it was assumed that Mel believed that it was a date, the assumption was, of course, correct. “What’s her name?

And that was the hardest thing for Bradley.

He had never told his sister about his sexual preference as he never saw it to be important to their continued relationship. Their parents knew, and did not like it, but because of their shame they saw no reason to share the truth with anyone else. Mel just happened to fall into the ‘anyone else’ category.

It seemed that this small part of his life also needed to be shared in person, and so Bradley lied, which tended to be his usual reaction to things like this.

“Olivia.” It was a close enough substitute, Bradley felt a pang in his chest at the lie.

Is she one of your cast-mates or whatever it is called?” The phrasing of the sentence could be taken as a dismissive one, but Bradley knew that it was fully because of his sister's unsure nature revolving around all things Broadway.

It took a moment for him to respond, and when he did it was said all in one breath, his concentration falling on crossing the street rather than the depths of the response. “We met a few days ago, bumped into each other on the street.”

If his sister noticed the lack of pronouns she said nothing.

Right,” There was still a tone of excitement as she spoke, but Mel had relaxed ever so slightly, “Daniel and I are planning a trip to Boston for his work, and I was hoping we could come up and see you?

It threw a wrench in his anonymity, “Of course.” Bo wished more than anything that she would stay away, but he would never tell her that. “Just let me know when, you can stay with me for a few days? See a couple shows.”

Yay! I’ll let you know soon!” The excitement in her voice blossomed even more at the thought of seeing Bo again, and he could admit feeling the same. “I’ve got to get ready, I love you Oli.

Bradley sighed, a bright smile on his face as he paused at a crosswalk. “I love you to Mel.”

She was the one to hang up, and Bradley tucked the phone into his back pocket, feeling rather empty without the constant voice of his sister in his ear. Mel truly was a beacon in his life, but just like any younger sister, he could find her annoying at times, though he was sure the feeling was mutual.

Bo continued through the city, finding his footsteps all too carefully as he went. Reminiscent of a time when both feet could feel the shape of the Earth below them.

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