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  There’s a very long silence, until Andy says, “I don’t think so, Willem. Or rather: I don’t think there’s anything chemically wrong with him. I think his craziness is all man-made.” He is silent. “Make him talk to you, Willem,” he says. “If he talks to you, I think you’ll—I think you’ll understand why he is the way he is.” And suddenly, he needs to get home, and he is dressing and hurrying out the door, hailing a cab and getting into it, getting out and getting into the elevator, opening the door and letting himself into the apartment, which is silent, disconcertingly silent. On the way over, he had a sudden image, one that felt like a premonition, that Jude had died, that he had killed himself, and he runs through the apartment shouting his name.


  “Willem?” he hears, and he runs through their bedroom, with their bed still made, and then sees Jude in the far left corner of their closet, curled up on the ground, facing the wall. But he doesn’t think about why he’s there, he just drops to the floor next to him. He doesn’t know if he has permission to touch him, but he does so anyway, wrapping his arms around him. “I’m sorry,” he says to the back of Jude’s head. “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean what I said—I would be distraught if you hurt yourself. I am distraught.” He exhales. “And I never, ever should have gotten physical with you. Jude, I’m so sorry.”


  “I’m sorry, too,” Jude whispers, and they are silent. “I’m sorry about what I said. I’m sorry I lied to you, Willem.”


  They are quiet for a long time. “Do you remember the time you told me you were afraid that you were a series of nasty surprises for me?” he asks him, and Jude nods, slightly. “You aren’t,” he tells him. “You aren’t. But being with you is like being in this fantastic landscape,” he continues, slowly. “You think it’s one thing, a forest, and then suddenly it changes, and it’s a meadow, or a jungle, or cliffs of ice. And they’re all beautiful, but they’re strange as well, and you don’t have a map, and you don’t understand how you got from one terrain to the next so abruptly, and you don’t know when the next transition will arrive, and you don’t have any of the equipment you need. And so you keep walking through, and trying to adjust as you go, but you don’t really know what you’re doing, and often you make mistakes, bad mistakes. That’s sometimes what it feels like.”


  They’re silent. “So basically,” Jude says at last, “basically, you’re saying I’m New Zealand.”


  It takes him a second to realize Jude is joking, and when he does he begins to laugh, unhingedly, with relief and sorrow, and he turns Jude toward him and kisses him. “Yes,” he says. “Yes, you’re New Zealand.”


  Then they are quiet again, and serious, but at least they are looking at each other.


  “Are you going to leave?” Jude asks, so quietly that Willem can barely hear him.


  He opens his mouth; shuts it. Oddly, even with everything he has thought and not thought over the last day and night, he has not considered leaving, and now he thinks about it. “No,” he says. And then, “I don’t think so,” and he watches Jude shut his eyes and then open them, and nod. “Jude,” he says, and the words come to his mouth as he says them, and as he speaks, he knows he is doing the right thing, “I do think you need help—help I don’t know how to give you.” He takes a breath. “I either want you to voluntarily commit yourself, or I want you to start seeing Dr. Loehmann twice a week.” He watches Jude for a long time; he can’t tell what he’s thinking.


  “And what if I don’t want to do either?” Jude asks. “Are you going to leave?”


  He shakes his head. “Jude, I love you,” he says. “But I can’t—I can’t condone this kind of behavior. I won’t be able to stick around and watch you do this to yourself if I thought you’d interpret my presence as some sort of tacit approval. So. Yes. I guess I would.”


  Again they are quiet, and Jude turns over and lies on his back. “If I tell you what happened to me,” he begins, falteringly, “if I tell you everything I can’t discuss—if I tell you, Willem, do I still have to go?”


  He looks at him, shakes his head again. “Oh, Jude,” he says. “Yes. Yes, you still have to. But I hope you’ll tell me anyway, I really do. Whatever it is; whatever it is.”


  They are quiet once more, and this time, their quiet turns to sleep, and the two of them fit into each other and sleep and sleep until Willem hears Jude’s voice speaking to him, and then he wakes, and he listens as Jude talks. It will take hours, because Jude is sometimes unable to continue, and Willem will wait and hold him so tightly that Jude won’t be able to breathe. Twice he will try to wrench himself away, and Willem will pin him to the ground and hold him there until he calms himself. Because they are in the closet, they won’t know what time it is, only that there has been a day that has arrived and departed, because they will have seen flat carpets of sun unroll themselves into the closet’s doorways from the bedroom, from the bathroom. He will listen to stories that are unimaginable, that are abominable; he will excuse himself, three times, to go to the bathroom and study his face in the mirror and remind himself that he has only to find the courage to listen, although he will want to cover his ears and cover Jude’s mouth to make the stories cease. He will study the back of Jude’s head, because Jude can’t face him, and imagine the person he thinks he knows collapsing into rubble, clouds of dust gusting around him, as nearby, teams of artisans try to rebuild him in another material, in another shape, as a different person than the person who had stood for years and years. On and on and on the stories will go, and in their path will lie squalor: blood and bones and dirt and disease and misery. After Jude has finished telling him about his time with Brother Luke, Willem will ask him, again, if he enjoys having sex at all, even a little, even occasionally, and he will wait the many long minutes until Jude says he doesn’t, that he hates it, that he always has, and he will nod, devastated, but relieved to have the real answer. And then he will ask him, not even knowing where the question has been hiding, if he’s even attracted to men, and Jude will tell him, after a silence, that he’s not certain, that he had always had sex with men, and so assumed he always would. “Are you interested in having sex with women?” he’ll ask him, and he’ll watch as, after another long silence, Jude shakes his head. “No,” he’ll say. “It’s too late for me, Willem,” and he will tell him it’s not, that there are things they can do to help him, but Jude will shake his head again. “No,” he’ll say. “No, Willem, I’ve had enough. No more,” and he will realize, as if slapped, the truth of this, and will stop. They will sleep again, and this time, his dreams will be terrible. He will dream he is one of the men in the motel rooms, he will realize that he has behaved like one of them; he will wake with nightmares, and it will be Jude who has to calm him. Finally they will heave themselves from the floor—it will be Saturday afternoon, and they will have been lying in the closet since Thursday night—and shower and eat something, something hot and comforting, and then they will go directly from the kitchen into the study, where he will listen as Jude leaves a message for Dr. Loehmann, whose card Willem has kept in his wallet all these years and produces, magician-like, within seconds, and from there to bed, and they will lie there, looking at each other, each afraid to ask the other: he to ask Jude to finish his story; Jude to ask him when he is leaving, because his leaving now seems an inevitability, a matter of logistics.


  On and on they stare, until Jude’s face becomes almost meaningless as a face to him: it is a series of colors, of planes, of shapes that have been arranged in such a way to give other people pleasure, but to give its owner nothing. He doesn’t know what he is going to do. He is dizzy with what he has heard, with comprehending the enormity of his misconceptions, with stretching his understanding past what is imaginable, with the knowledge that all of his carefully maintained edifices are now destroyed beyond repair.


  But for now, they are in their bed, in their room, in their apartment, and he reaches over and takes Jude’s hand, holds it gently in his own.


  “You’ve told me about how you got to Montana,” he hears himself saying. “So tell me: What happened next?”


  It was a time he rarely thought about, his flight to Philadelphia, because it was a period in which he had been so afloat from himself that even as he had lived his life, it had felt dreamlike and not quite real; there had been times in those weeks when he had opened his eyes and was genuinely unable to discern whether what had just happened had actually happened, or whether he had imagined it. It had been a useful skill, this persistent and unshatterable somnambulism, and it had protected him, but then that ability, like his ability to forget, had abandoned him as well and he was never to acquire it again.


  He had first noticed this suspension at the home. At nights, he would sometimes be awakened by one of the counselors, and he would follow them down to the office where one of them was always on duty, and he would do whatever they wanted. After they were done, he would be escorted back to his room—a small space with a bunk bed that he shared with a mentally disabled boy, slow and fat and frightened-looking and prone to rages, whom he knew the counselors also sometimes took with them at night—and locked in again. There were a few of them the counselors used, but aside from his roommate, he didn’t know who the other boys were, only that they existed. He was nearly mute in those sessions, and as he knelt or squatted or lay, he thought of a round clock face, its second hand gliding impassively around it, counting the revolutions until it ended. But he never begged, he never pled. He never bargained or made promises or cried. He didn’t have the energy; he didn’t have the conviction—not any longer, not anymore.


  It was a few months after his weekend with the Learys that he tried to run away. He had classes at the community college on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and on those days, one of the counselors would wait for him in the parking lot and drive him back to the home. He dreaded the end of classes, he dreaded the ride home: he never knew which counselor would be waiting for him, and when he reached the parking lot and saw who it was, his footsteps would sometimes slow, but it was as if he was a magnet, something controlled by ions, not will, and into the car he would be drawn.


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