the Whole No. 3: My Secular Rosary
My Secular Rosary
"My hands clench the squeegee:
When I Fall
Joey showed up late, dropped off by Kelly and Brianna. He climbed out of the passenger's seat then leaned back in to kiss his daughter goodbye. He always kissed goodbye, no matter how pressed for time they were, no matter how late.
"It's important," he told Justin once. "You have to let people know that you care about them, cause you never know what's gonna happen."
That was true, Justin supposed, but it hadn't felt true before. It did now.
"Hey man!" he called, waving.
Justin smiled. "Hey," he said. He watched as Joey approached, smiling, looking down at his shoes and then back up. "You're late, Fatone," he said.
Joey slung an arm around his shoulders. "Yeah, yeah." He smelled of something flowery and perfumey, something that must have been from Kelly's shampoo. "How pissed are they?"
Justin shrugged. He shoved his hands into his pockets. Joey leaned on him. He wanted to put an arm around Joey's waist, but he wasn't really allowed to do that anymore. "They're okay. JC's got 'questions' and stuff."
Joey laughed. JC always had questions, ever since Joey'd hurt his leg. He liked to walk the stage with Mike and Earl and point out things and say "so, um, will that be like that?" even though the stage looked the same at every show and JC knew, for example, that the ramp down to the stage did not have little reflecting lights on it.
"They leaving today?" Justin asked. Joey glanced back at the driveway, empty now.
"Yeah," he said. "Yeah. I'm gonna miss them." He squeezed Justin a little.
"Sure." Justin nodded. He didn't understand how much Joey loved his little girl, he knew, but he could feel it, coursing under Joey's skin. Joey always felt things deep. That was part of what made him so ... Joey. He remembered the day he and Joey had broken up, Joey's startled teary face. It had surprised Justin, who hadn't ever cried when someone broke up with him because, when he thought about it later, no one had ever broken up with him. But it hadn't been serious, Justin had thought. He'd been wrong.
"You wanna go somewhere, maybe?" he asked. Joey wasn't as tall as he was, but he was bigger and Justin could still duck his head and glance upward, slantways, at Joey's face. He'd slumped against a lot of walls when he and Joey had kissed. "After? Take your mind off of it?"
Joey shook his head. "I've got plans. We're going to this place Lance heard about. You wanna come?"
"Sure, maybe," Justin said, but he knew he wasn't going. JC was probably going and Chris might, depending on where it was, but it was Joey and Lance's thing. Justin didn't need that.
"You should come," Joey said. "It'll be fun."
"I bet. There's probably two-steppin' and shit," he muttered. Joey chuckled, and squeezed again.
"Hey!" Chris shouted, when they stepped out onto the stage. "Fatone makes it!"
"Hey!" Joey shouted back. "Kirkpatrick makes a smart remark! Surprise, surprise!" His arm slipped from Justin's shoulders. Justin wished for it back.