“One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it.” -Chekhov
“Wash your hands,” he says. I look up at him, obedient. I’m distracted thinking about our afternoon. “There’s a lot of lead.” His voice always drops slightly when he tells me what to do, and my body instantly reacts to his octave change. I so want to please him. I’m still strangely aroused by our afternoon. We’d gone shooting.
“No concealed weapons” the door read. I begin to involuntarily shake a little as we stepped into the shop. Camilo scanned the guns lined like jewelry in a glass case and pointed to one. The precise way with which he handled it caused my hands to shake harder. I wrapped my arms around myself, and stared at him, fascinated. He cracked it open and snapped it shut with ease and efficiency. Lining the sight up, he pointed the barrel at the wall to the left of the clerks baseball cap and said, “This one.”
We signed our lives away and I’m startled that they just handed us a gun and 4 rounds of ammo like its nothing. We walked back to the range and he gestured for me to put my earplugs in. Inside, we are the only two. He strings up our first target and slides it back along the wire. Taking the gun in his hand he guides me through each step, how to hold it, what the rules are. He loads the first clip and I step back directly under an air vent. Immediately I miss the heat of him next to me. Chills cover my skin as he pulls the trigger, and my body jolts at the sound. Silently I mouth, “Holy shit.”
Adrenaline churns through me as he expertly fires shot after shot. He knows exactly what he is doing. I’ve never seen anything like it. He is a real life hero. My whole body is shaking from the thrill and fear. I’m excited, terrified and impressed by him. He turns to me with a smile, “Come on.”
I try and breathe normally and shake my body out a bit before wrapping my right palm around the handle and cup my left thumb up under my right like he showed me. My right finger is lined up straight above the trigger, “Don’t move that finger until you are ready to shoot”, he warns me heavily. I nod, meekly. I’m holding a loaded gun in my hand.
My anticipation palpable, I feel my heart pulse in my trigger finger as I pull back gently. The pop is instant and electrifying. I’m trembling as I pull back again and again. I line up my focus and try to breathe, readying my next shot. I’m momentarily derailed by another loud blast. Other people have come in, and are shooting a few feet away from us. Overwhelmed, I look back to Camilo scared and he reaches out to hold the gun down, “Don’t look away while you’re holding it”. I nod needing his reassurance. I don’t want to mess up, I want to impress him. The air thick with gunfire, I finish my shots.
The trigger pulls an empty chamber, and I very slowly lay the gun down on its side. My heart pounds in my chest- I did it. I let the air out of my lungs for the first time in minutes and suck it back in quickly as the others continue to fire shots. Camilo gives me a nod of approval and I beam. He takes the gun and gestures to the door, “I’m going to switch this one out,” he says and steps out.
I lean against the wall, hiding. I begin to count the blasts in my head, my fingers pressed tightly into my earplugs. The sound ricochets around the space. “Come back come back come back” I will silently, needing him to feel safe. The second he returns, I am ok again.
I hover close as he loads the new gun. He slides 16 bullets into the clip, snaps it in and hands it to me, “This one will be gentler.” I nod and try to stand comfortably, breathe and focus. I need to nail this, action movie style. I mentally channel Angelina Jolie and cock my right foot back, drop my shoulders and pull the trigger.
We finish our last round and step out. I am exhilarated but trying to play it cool, this is something Camilo does every weekend. I keep the last target, smug knowing that every bullet hit the bad guy. We got him.
Driving home, I gaze over at him while he toys with the radio, skipping around picking the perfect song. I’m still vibrating from the experience, awake in ways I haven’t been in forever. I’m intrigued. By him, and by the affect he has on me. He drives like the expert he is, fast and in control. I’m completely confident that I’m safe. Smiling, savoring the adventure, I close my eyes, and push my face into the wind.
August 24th 2012
Driving back from our last trip to the beach, both of us still warm from the sun, he smiled at me.
“I had such an amazing time,” he sighed, content. “All expectations surpassed.”
“Me too.”I responded quietly. I thought back to the conversation we had earlier. Perched in sunlight and silence upon a huge rock that melted into the Mediterranean he asked me, “Why didn’t you end up with David?”
I surfaced from my blissed out state of unbelief that hadn’t subsided since my arrival. Marc would tease me daily, “Where are you?” he’d ask.
“In the Med!” I’d squeal, both of us laughing. Our little jokes never got old. I couldn’t believe I was in Ibiza.
Opening my eyes slowly… I couldn’t believe he was bringing up an old boyfriend. I sighed heavily, never sure our conversations were safe ones. What was his thought process? Not coinciding with mine, I knew.
I spoke slowly, carefully, “I loved him very much, but deep down I knew he wasn’t my person.” Saying it out loud a million years and miles away, the words resurrected that pull from my insides. I felt sad.
He was quiet for a minute. Then asked, “So, why don’t you believe me when I say that I know you aren’t my person?”
I didn’t immediately feel the impact of those words. Those words have ricocheted me from a fighter to a useless puddle a million time since; but in that moment, that space, it was just me and him, and he was telling me something important in a way that I could finally understand. In that moment, it was peaceful.
The sun was setting, my last one of the trip. My instinct was to fight for this, fight for this man that I loved with every bit of energy I had. Instead we sat, silent again watching the sun dip below the hills, the fight in me quiet. We had a million perfect moments together, how could this be the end?
I thought about our morning. He’d snuck out while I slept and driven all over the island scavenging the perfect breakfast, even buying a vase for a perfect sunshine replica gerber daisy. I’d held his face in my hands and kissed his forehead. “You have no idea what this has done for me.” He held my hand listening. You have no idea what this is going to do to me.” I knew the end of this would destroy me, but for now, I was settling with the sun, on a plateau of light and love.
We gathered our things and walked to the car. Driving through this magic place I tried to sear it into my memory. I wanted to remember everything. Suddenly, all of it clicked into place. It really was as simple as it sounded. He is not my person.
I looked at the man that I loved, “I want you to know, from the deepest place in my heart- that if you’re not him; if you’re not the one… That you pointed me in the right direction to find him. I’m not the same person I was when I met you.”
“That’s the most heartfelt thing you’ve ever said to me,” he smiled.
“I’m just so grateful for this”, I said, mentally pleading for him to understand the enormity behind my tiny little words. He’d wined and dined me all over the world. I fell deeply in love. I had lived a fairy tale, and it was ending. I felt like I was speeding in a car and realized there were no brakes. Devastation was inevitable, but god damn it I was enjoying the ride.
“You deserve it,” he charged uncharacteristically into the conversation. “You are such an amazing person, and you have so many good qualities. You deserve everything I can give you and more.” He paused to take my hand in his. “You are so special- and I think deep down you know that. You deserve everything.”
“That’s the most heartfelt thing you’ve ever said to me,” I smiled, happy tears wetting my cheeks. For the second time that day, we held hands so hard that it hurt when we finally let go.