As told by Clark Kent
“Sir, you were driving 31 miles an hour in a 20 mile an hour zone,” came the gruff announcement from Officer Krupke.
“I wasn’t,” said I.
“You were,” said he.
“I mean I didn’t realize I was. I’m not denying it. Are you going to arrest me and take me to jail?” A momentary fantasy I was having as this handsome police officer began writing on his citation pad.
“Only if you resist,” he mused and continued to write.
Only if I resist. Now there was a thought pregnant with possibilities. If I got myself arrested, I wondered if he would do a cavity search. Probably not. But, there’s no law against asking for one. I’d love to see the expression on his face if I did ask. On second thought, maybe not.
“Your driver’s license and registration, please.”
When I handed him the requested documents, I glanced up and thought he was having difficulty not smiling. “Ok, sock it to me, officer.”
As he wrote on his pad, I noticed he was writing the citation with his left hand. “You’re left-handed.”
I also noticed he was not wearing a wedding ring. “Are you married?”
“That is none of your business — sir.” The tone of his voice told me he was now having a tough time not smiling.
“Sorry.” I looked away, thought about it, then looked back, “It’s just that I’m gay, and I’m looking for a husband.”
“I could arrest you for soliciting.”
“I wasn’t soliciting. I was just stating a fact. I’m lonely and you’re a very attractive man.” I paused, “I’m sure no one has ever told you that before.”
No response. He finished writing the citation, tore it from the pad and handed it to me. “Thank you for your cooperation. Your options in dealing with this citation are written on the back. Have a good day.” He moved quickly away from my car. Perhaps a little too quickly. He also informed me I could pay for the ticket on-line — suggesting that if I used the right credit card I might be able to get cash back.
“Gee, thank you Officer, I really appreciate that.” I said it as sincerely as I could but I doubt he believed me. He moved away quickly, obviously to get away from me. My breath caught when I noticed how much this ticket was going to cost me, “Holly shit.” I wondered if he was any good at mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. I could have used some of that, especially after what he had just done to me.
I rolled up the window, sighed, and drove away, watching him in the rear-view mirror. He didn’t even glance in my direction. Well, so what if I made a fool of myself. I was glad I asked, consoling myself as I drove north through Golden Gate Park. I wasn’t a complete idiot, I was just lonely. So lonely I was sure my mind was cracking. I turned left on Geary Boulevard and drove to my apartment.
Max, my four-year-old Havanese pup was always happy to see me no matter what mood I was in. He wiggled around until I picked him up and held him for a moment, assuring him I was home and would be there until morning. I laid the traffic citation on the kitchen counter and hissed at it.
When I returned to the kitchen after showering, I popped one of those nondescript frozen dinners into the microwave and got Max’s dinner ready. On my way out of the kitchen, I glanced at the citation and sighed, remembering how handsome and unavailable he was. So much for my lonely hearts club. I turned the light out.
Max and I were watching some mind-numbing rerun on the boob tube when the phone rang. His ears perked up at the sound. It was 8:20. I wondered who would be calling at this hour.
“Hi, this is Clark.” No response. “Hello?”
“No, I’m not married,” came a soft, hesitant reply.
“You’re what?” It took a full nanosecond to realize who it was, who I hoped it was. “Oh my God, it’s you, Officer . . . I don’t know your name.”
“Rodriguez. Kyle Rodriguez.”
“That’s odd, you didn’t look Latin. I would have guessed Irish or Scottish.”
“Scottish. I’m adopted.”
“Oh.” Suddenly I was tongue-tied. ‘Please say something, Kyle.’
“I was wondering …”
“You name it and I’ll be there.” I began to breathe again.
“There’s a small restaurant on Geary at Fourth. Do you know it?”
“No, but I’ll find it. Does it have a name?”
“Michael’s Coffee Shop.”
“When?” I hated myself for being so eager but I couldn’t help it.
“It’s late, but how about this evening?”
I guess he was as eager as I was, oh goodie. “I’ll be there in half an hour. And I promise I won’t speed.”
I heard a muffled laugh. “Half an hour. See you then.”
“Ok, thanks, bye.” I dashed into the bedroom to change, and I was out the door in less than eight minutes. This was too good to be true. My only hope – that it wasn’t going to be too good to be true.
Poor Max had such a bewildered look in his eyes as I closed the front door. I suspected it was more a look of betrayal. I was leaving him alone when I had promised him I wouldn’t. I’d make it up to him somehow.
Michael’s Coffee Shop was one of those modern places, built in the 60’s with glass windows everywhere, probably a Tastee Freez way back when. It wasn’t crowded, and I didn’t see Kyle as I sauntered in and took a seat facing the entrance with a street view to my right. I’d see him approaching from any direction. “Hi, Clark,” except the rear. His voice came from behind me. “I’m glad you could make it.” He slid into the seat across from me and smiled. My hormones began to move in directions my mother would not have approved of. A chill ran up and down my spine then settled around the knot in my stomach. I wasn’t sure if my reaction to this beautiful creature was love at first sight or the desperation of a lonely heart.
“Where did you come from?” I looked behind me.
“There’s an entrance in the men’s room?” I knew there wasn’t. I just couldn’t think of anything else to say.
He laughed, “No, I got here early and needed to use the head.” He clasped his big, beautiful hands together and placed them on the table in front of me.
I was tempted to reach out and shake one but decided against it for fear I might wind up kissing it instead. I wasn’t sure if it was desperation, lust, or love at first sight that was churning my insides into jello as I grappled for something to do or say to give the impression of being normal – I felt like an idiot. “You used the term - head. Only a sailor would say that. Were you in the Navy?”
“Ah, close enough,” the knot in my stomach tighten. But he was there and our knees were touching. Oh, sweet Jesus, don’t let this be another disingenuous suitor who will turn into a frog on the first kiss. There were so many frogs in my past, I was beginning to wonder if that’s all there were.
Then I noticed he had braces on his teeth. I hadn’t seen them when he wrote the speeding citation. I had the insane thought of how you would kiss someone with braces. What if you both wore braces and got stuck together. How embarrassing would that be?
I was pleased to see he was wearing civilian clothing instead of the uniform and that cap. He had beautiful crew-cut chestnut colored hair, a high forehead over almost bushy eyebrows, accenting hazel-green eyes which sparkled in the restaurant lighting. He was clean shaven, but there was late day stubble beginning to show which was very becoming, and a prominent dimpled chin beneath sensitive smiling lips framing those braces.
“Were you surprised when I called?”
“I was floored. I didn’t think you noticed my ranting about looking for a husband.”
“Oh, I noticed alright,” he chuckled.
“How did you find my number?”
“I have my ways,” he paused then smiled, “you’re in the phone book. Is Clark Kent really your name?”
“Yes, I’m afraid it is. Sometimes I wish it weren’t.”
The waitress arrived and filled two cups with coffee. We smiled at her, she returned our smiles and stood there for a few seconds – all of us smiling at one another. She reluctantly turned and walked away, but I knew she was watching us. Anyone with two brain cells could sense our hormones were spilling out all over the place.
“I suppose I should apologize for being so forward this afternoon.”
“No need. If you hadn’t, we wouldn’t be sitting here.”
“No, I guess we wouldn’t.” Here I was, sitting in front of this handsome man, with braces on his teeth, and I still had trouble making conversation. So, I said something incredibly stupid.
“I want you to know… that I never do anything… on my first date.” I held my breath, hoping he wouldn’t get up and walk out of my life forever.
He looked deadpan at me for a second then began laughing. “Neither do I.”
We laughed good-naturedly as I continued to size him up. He wasn’t a bodybuilder but I could tell by the way his shirt strained at the button holes he exercised regularly. I didn’t exercize and decided this was not going to work. I was just an average Joe. Clark Kent had no intentions of getting undressed in front of this well-developed man, at least not with the lights on.
“Were you serious about looking for a husband?” His intense facial expression told me he wasn’t kidding.
“I… I…” stuttered out of my mouth.
“Were you kidding?” his cheerful expression faded.
“No! I wasn’t kidding. I’m just so surprised to be sitting here with you. I’m at a loss for words.” I was pretty sure I was blushing and looked horribly pathetic.
“Good, because I’m looking,” he relaxed and smiled.
“Gosh, I feel like I should be handing you my resume or something. I’m not sure what we should do next. Quite frankly, I’ve never done this before.”
“Well, you certainly aren’t shy.”
“Yeah, I know. Just out of curiosity, are you any good at mouth to mouth resuscitation?” As soon as I said it, I regretted it.
Kyle looked at me deadpan then began to laugh, “Play your cards right and you may find out.”
The knot in my stomach flipped over and tightened. He was examining me so closely I felt more vulnerable and pathetic than any time in my life.
“What?” I finally asked.
“You’re not at all what I expected.”
“Is that good or bad?”
“That’s good.” Suddenly his expression changed. Very quietly he whispered, “Look at me, and keep looking. Don’t make any movements. The cashier is being robbed.”
“Oh, Jeez,” I whispered. My peripheral vision told me he was right.
Kyle slowly pulled a cell phone from his pocket and pressed a button. He turned and looked out the window while watching the two men in the reflection. He said something into the phone. The only word I understood was - backup - as he continued to watch the robbery play out in the window’s reflection. I don’t think I could have moved even if I wanted to.
He turned slowly in my direction. “They have weapons. I’m going to let them leave. When I get up, you get under the table and stay there.”
My voice was gone. I nodded obediently. I did not want these two guys to see me looking at them as they left, so I stared into my coffee cup. I heard the door open. Kyle slipped to the floor and moved toward the entrance like a panther. It was amazing to watch him. One minute he was just this guy sitting in front of me, smiling, and the next minute he was this police officer doing his job. I slipped under the table as instructed.
Within seconds I heard tires screeching. Then I heard Kyle as he exited the restaurant. Someone shouted POLICE. I froze when I heard the gunfire. I don’t know how many shots were fired, it happened so fast. Then there was ear-splitting silence. I peeked out from under the table and saw someone slumped against the front door. Oh, my God, was it Kyle?
Without thinking, I dashed to the front door and pulled it open. Kyle fell backward into the coffee shop. I could see he was shot in the chest, probably through the lung. I looked up at the terrified waitress standing by the register. “TIN FOIL, I NEED TIN FOIL – NOW!” She turned and ran into the kitchen as I knelt next to Kyle.
“Kyle, can you hear me?” His eyes flickered open. He didn’t recognize me. He was going into shock. I raised my voice, “Kyle, can you hear me?” His head nodded slightly. “You’ve been shot in the chest. Now listen to me.”
He whispered, “I don’t think I’ll…” and closed his eyes.
I yelled even louder, “You better make it goddammit, or I’ll kick the livin’ crap out of you.” He smiled a little and nodded his head.
The waitress ran up with a roll of tin foil. “Tear off a piece and fold it into a twelve-inch square.”
My hands were covered with Kyle’s blood as I placed the foil on his chest. “Kyle, breathe in and hold it.” I pressed the foil patch over the wound. “OK breathe out.”
Without taking my eyes off of Kyle, I yelled as loud as I could, “I NEED PARAMEDICS NOW. SUCKING CHEST WOUND.” I could hear an officer repeating what I said into his car radio.
I repeated the procedure on Kyle, again, and again, watching the color of his skin, his wavering pulse. It was only minutes but it seemed like forever before the paramedics arrived. Finally, I heard them running toward me. I collapsed on the ground when they took over. They had all the equipment I was lacking. Now Kyle had a chance.
Two police officers helped me up. “Are you sure you’re not injured?”
“No, this is Kyle’s blood. I need to get to the restroom.”
The officers followed me, “Are you going to be okay?”
“Yeah, I’ll be fine. Thanks for your help. Did you get those guys?”
“Oh yeah, we got ‘em alright. Are you a friend of Officer Rodriguez?”
“Not really. We just met this evening. Do you know where they took him?”
“Saint Francis Memorial.”
“That’s on Hyde isn’t it?”
“Yes, did you want us to take you there?”
“No, no, there’s nothing else I can do. Hopefully, he’s headed for surgery. That wound was pretty bad. I hope he makes it.
“Where did you learn that tin foil thing you were doing?”
“I was a combat medic – Afghanistan.”
“Jesus, does Kyle know that?”
“No. He doesn’t really know anything about me.” I wondered if he ever would. “Are you guys going to the hospital?”
“Yes, right now.”
“Do you think you could call me and let me know how he is? I’d appreciate it.”
“You bet.” One of the officers wrote my phone number on his pad and looked up in surprise when I told him my name. “You take care. We’ll talk to you later.”
“Thanks.” The two officers left me standing alone in the men’s room. That was a hellofa first date, I mused. I wondered if I would ever see Officer Rodriguez again.
The waitress who assisted me began to cry when I went to pay for the coffee. “I was so scared,” she whispered through her tears.
“I was too,” I assured her with a smile. “Now all we can do is pray that the officer will survive.” I thanked her for her assistance, paid for the coffee, and drove home.
Max met me at the door. He knew something had happened and would not leave my side. The smell of Kyle’s blood got his attention. He kept looking at me, probably wondering if it was mine.
It was shortly after noon, five days later, when the phone rang. “Hi, this is Clark.”
“This is Officer Foster. I calling about Officer…”
“Yes, yes, how is Kyle?”
“He survived surgery. They just released him from intensive care.”
“That’s a good sign.”
“When he came to, he asked for Clark Kent. I thought he was kidding until I saw your name on Officer Greenwood’s report.”
“Yeah, that’s me alright.”
“I think he’d like to see you and thank you. Can you drop by the hospital?”
“Yes, I can. Thanks.”
I checked in at the reception desk and was not surprised I had to show my ID. There were police officers everywhere who looked at me suspiciously as I made my way to Kyle’s room. I just smiled and kept walking.
I stood in the doorway of his room not knowing if I should enter or not. There were two women and a man sitting at his bedside. The older woman noticed me, got up and ran over. “Are you Clark Kent?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Oh my dear boy,” she held my face with her hands and kissed both of my cheeks, “you saved my boy’s life. How can we ever thank you?”
I wasn’t quite sure what to say. The younger woman and the man joined us.
“This is my husband, Jose, and my daughter, Brenda.”
Kyle’s dad shook my hand so hard I thought my arm would come off. His sister flung her arms around me and kissed my cheek.
“How is Kyle?” I could hardly see him from where I was standing.
“He’s been asking for you. We’re going to the cafeteria. We’ll be back shortly.” They smiled and filed out of the room.
I moved slowly to his bedside not knowing what to expect or to say. Kyle heard me sit down and turned his head, “Hi,” he smiled drowsily.
“Hi, yourself.” I was so glad to see him. His cheeks were rosy so I knew he would survive.
“Some first date, eh?” he reached out.
I took his hand and held it. “Yeah, I thought the same thing. When I saw you sprawled out on the floor of the restaurant, with a hole in your chest, I wondered if there would be a second date.”
“You saved my life.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Yes, you did. I felt myself slipping away. If you hadn’t yelled at me and threatened to kick the crap out of me, I would have gone.”
I grimaced, “You would remember that.”
“I’ll never forget it. If it hadn’t been for you, I would have been gone by the time the paramedics got there. I owe you big time.”
“No, Kyle, you don’t owe me anything outside of getting well so you can continue to go after the bad guys and write speeding tickets for lonely guys like me.”
He gripped my hand so hard it hurt. I wanted his arms around me, holding me that tight.
“Did they tell you about the injury?”
“No, they didn’t. But from what I saw, I was pretty sure it went through your left lung and possibly your heart.”
“It did go through my heart. It sealed itself as soon as the bullet passed through. Funny thing about hearts.”
“Yeah. Well, mine would have been broken if you hadn’t made it.” I gripped his hand tight. “You owe me alright. I had to pay for your coffee.”
“Oh, Jeez, I forgot about that. When I’m able, let’s go back to Michael’s and sit at the same table. I’ll buy the coffee and we can pick up where we left off. Deal?”
“Deal. It won’t be soon enough.”
“I’m going to be laid up for some time. There’s so much more I want to know about you.”
“I have a dog named Max. He knows what your blood smells like. Do you like dogs?”
“Humm.” His eyes were fluttering.
“You’re tired. I’m going to leave now.”
“No, wait.” He held on to my hand. “Still interested in finding that husband?”
I smiled, “I may have found him.”
He smiled as his eyes fluttered shut. His grip on my hand relaxed as he fell asleep.
I met his family as they were returning to his room. They asked a lot of personal questions about my relationship with their son, and brother. Since I had only met him, I had little to offer. I wasn’t sure if they knew he was gay or not. It didn’t matter since I wasn’t sure he and I would ever have any kind of a relationship. We had only spent minutes together before the robbery. I literally knew nothing about him. He would need the support of his family rather than any attention from me during his recovery, which might take several months – a guess on my part since I didn’t have the details of the injury or the surgical procedure they performed to save him. I chatted for a few minutes with these loving people then returned home.
My loneliness seemed more acute having come so close to a possible partner only to have him snatched away by circumstances beyond my control. Besides, I don’t think I could have gotten past those braces. How do you suck face with someone who has braces? I decided life sucks, and I tried to forget Officer Krupke.
It must have been three weeks, possibly more, when my doorbell rang. Max sprang to the front door ahead of me, barking and wagging his tail furiously. It was Kyle’s sister whose name I had conveniently forgotten, “Hi, what a surprise …”
“Brenda.” Her smile acknowledged my memory loss. “Hi, Clark. I should have called. Is this a convenient time?”
“Yes, of course. Please, come in. The kettle is on for tea – care for some?”
“Oh, he’s fine.”
“So, what’s the problem?”
“There’s no problem.”
“Sure there is. Why else would you be here?”
“Um, I see,” she paused a few seconds. “He’s not responding the way he should. He’s a strong man and should have been further along in recovering.”
“And you think I can help.”
“Well, yes. I’m hoping you will help.”
“Do you have anything against the English language?”
“Well then, speak it plainly, please.”
She was silent as she gathered her thoughts. Finally, she looked up at me, “My parents don’t have a clue what’s going on. I do. Kyle and I are very close.”
“Is there more?”
“He’s depressed, and you’re all he can talk about.”
“Really?” I was surprised.
“Yes, really. Any chance you can spend some time with him until he’s on his own again?”
“Why doesn’t he ask me himself? He knows my phone number.”
“He’s afraid he would be imposing on you.”
“Did he tell you that?”
“No, but I know him well enough.”
“I don’t know, Brenda. I’d like to help. I’m not sure it’s a good idea. He must have friends who can help. How about his fellow officers? They’re a tight group.”
“They have been helping. At least right after the shooting. They’re releasing him from hospital tomorrow.”
“Where’s he going?”
“My parents for the time being. Look, this probably is an imposition. I shouldn’t have asked.”
“No, it’s not. I’m glad you came over. I’ll think about it.”
“He’s never had anyone close. At least he’s never said anything. You probably won’t believe this, but he’s shy.”
“No he’s not!” I laughed.
“Yes he is.” Brenda looked at me questioningly.
“Did he tell you how we met?”
“Not exactly. All I know is that something happened that got his attention.”
I laughed when I thought of what I said while he wrote that citation. “He caught me speeding and gave me a ticket. Did he tell you that?”
“No, he didn’t. When did that happen?”
“The day of the robbery.” I hesitated, then decided to tell her. “Since you’re so close with Kyle, while he was writing the citation I asked him if he was married – he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring.”
“Oh yes I did. Then I told him I thought he was good looking, I was lonely, and looking for a husband.”
“Oh, my God. Then what happened?” Brenda leaned forward.
“He said he could arrest me for soliciting. He wasn’t kidding, so I apologized and thought that was the end of it – until he called me at home that evening.”
Brenda sat staring at me, waiting for more.
“You’ve probably guessed by now that I’m not shy.”
Brenda smiled her acknowledgment. “He actually called you?”
“I swear to God. I almost fell over when I recognized his voice.”
“We agreed to meet for coffee at Michael’s. He mentioned that he was also looking for a husband and then he…”
“Wait a minute. What did he say?”
“He told me he was also looking for a husband.” I paused, wondering if Brenda knew as much about Kyle as she said she did. “Then he spotted the robbery in progress, and that was the end of our first date – if you can even call it that.”
Brenda stared at me. “He actually said that to you?”
“Yes, he did. Sounds like he didn’t mention it to you.”
“So, that’s the reason,” she mused. She looked up, “Were you serious about finding a partner?”
“Yes, I was, I mean I am.”
“So what’s stopping you from seeing him?”
“I don’t know. Circumstances I suppose.”
“Do you have something against the English language?” Brenda was delighted to shoot that back at me.
“Well, then speak it plainly, please.”
I hadn’t faced it before, but there it was, “I’m afraid.”
“Of not having it work out, and finding myself alone again.”
“That’s the most incredible reason for sidestepping a perfectly good relationship I’ve ever heard in my entire life.”
“But nothing. You’re coming to dinner at my parent’s home on Sunday. You better be there or I’ll come looking for you.”
“Hey, I dislike being hustled.” I gritted my teeth to keep from smiling.
“Dislike it if you must, just be there. Dinner is at 6 sharp.”
“What about your parents. I might let the cat out of the bag with my big mouth.”
“If they haven’t figured it out by now, it’s about time they did. Thank you for tea. I’ll leave you to your own devices for the time being. Here’s the address. I’ll see you Sunday. Bring wine if you feel obligated, but it’s not necessary.”
Max and I escorted Brenda to the front door. “Are you always this bossy?”
“When it comes to Kyle, you bet I am.” She kissed my cheek, hugged me so tight I was about to gasp for breath, and then she disappeared down the stairs.
I figured I had better attend dinner, fearing she might make good her threat.
It was 15 minutes to six when I parked in front of the Rodriguez home. There were three cars in the driveway and two squad cars parked on the street. I got out of my car and felt like I was about to walk into the lion’s den, possibly the jaws of the lion.
The front door was ajar. I walked in without knocking or ringing the doorbell. The aroma of good food cooking was intoxicating, accented by animated conversation and laughter coming from the living room. I decided I was not one of the boys and turned around. I left the wine and flowers on the hall table and moved quietly to the front door. Perhaps no one would notice.
“And where do you think you’re going?” It was Brenda.
I stopped and turned around. “Look, you folks are having such a good time. I’m not going to fit in.”
She gently took my hand and pulled me toward the archway of the living room. “You really are a pushy broad.”
“I know.” She smiled and put her arm through mine as we came into view of the other guests.
There was that split second of silent recognition, then all hell broke loose. All I remember hearing was, ‘The hero has arrived.’ I spotted Kyle in his wheelchair. He had the biggest grin in the room. I was glad Brenda had stopped me from leaving.
Kyle reached out to me. I took his hand and he pulled me toward him. He grabbed my head and kissed me on the mouth before I realized it. I stood up fearing the reaction to his gesture. I didn’t have time to worry about it. Everyone in the room pressed forward, hugging me, kissing me, shaking my hands. It was so overwhelming I began to laugh with relief.
My arrival seemed to signal the other visitors to make their departure. Soon, there were just the five of us. I found myself admiring this family of four during dinner. They were so in tune with one another. They laughed, argued, and disagreed while being bound together in love, understanding, and a mutual respect for one another. The prospect of a relationship with Kyle took on new meaning as did the possibility of being part of this loving family.
I kept a close watch on my big mouth that evening so the cat did not escape the proverbial bag. I suspect that if Kyle’s parents did not know of his orientation, and found out – I doubt they would have cared.
In the ensuing months, I spent a good deal of my free time with Kyle as his recovery progressed and my longing for him grew. The day came when he was well enough to move back to his apartment. Then we had a chance to get to know one another on a different level. Thank God, he wasn’t a frog.
One afternoon we ventured into Golden Gate Park. The Santa Ana winds were blowing in from the desert bringing warm temperatures rarely experienced in San Francisco. We walked to Ocean Beach, had lunch at the Chalet Restaurant and were on our way back when Kyle stopped in the middle of the walkway and looked at me. He had been so quiet, I knew something was on his mind. I accommodated him and stopped, looked at him, smiled, and waited. I knew Kyle cared for me but at that moment, he looked at me in a way I had not experienced before. It was intense, passionate, longing, difficult to comprehend, but he was aiming it at me and I felt it.
“Kyle, what is it? You’re scaring me.”
Finally, he almost whispered, “What are you looking for? What do you want?”
“I’m not sure what you mean.” I had a pretty good idea of what he meant but wanted him to give me more to work with.
He had never been this serious before. As usual, I was at a loss for words. Then, I recalled something my mother told me a long time ago. I looked up into those beautiful, pleading hazel green eyes of his, “Kyle I’m not looking for anything other than what you’re willing to give.” I paused a few seconds, “Let me tell you why I say that. My mother once told me that in any relationship I should have in my life, whether it be a friend or a lover, give everything you can give and expect nothing in return. And, if you find someone who lives by the same philosophy, you’ll experience a little bit of heaven right here on earth.”
Kyle said nothing. He gazed at me for a moment then turned and we resumed our walk. It would be many weeks before I found out what he experienced from what I had said.
Finally, the day came when he was able to resume his duties as a police officer. It seemed as if I was relegated to the background of his life, I saw less of him. I felt left out, no longer necessary, no longer needed. I was jealous but of what I wasn’t sure. Perhaps he had gotten to know me too well. Or, I had broken my own rule – I expected something from him. I should have said something, but I didn’t.
Two weeks went by without hearing from Kyle. No one was at fault. It was just one of those things. He resumed his life and probably decided he didn’t need a husband after all. We never did go back to Michael’s Coffee Shop and take up where we left off. I would have liked that.
I was returning from Sausalito one afternoon and didn’t think anything about the flashing blue lights coming up behind me. It was evening rush hour and drizzling rain. The traffic was slow and heavy. But I did find it curious when those lights followed me as I turned off of Presidio Boulevard onto Geary Boulevard. They got closer. I wasn’t speeding, so why was I being tailed? I heard the bleep bleep coming from the squad car and obediently pulled over at the first convenient place. The blue lights were still whirling along with the flashing head lights as I saw someone get out of the squad car and walk in my direction. ‘This better be good.’
“Sir, please step out of your vehicle.”
“Kyle?” I looked around and saw him standing tall in the soft drizzling rain, feet apart, no hat, and those braces glittering at me. He had a small black box cupped in his left hand.
As you may imagine, Kyle got down on one knee in a puddle of water and proposed marriage, offering me a ring of engagement. I accepted and, as usual, I was at a loss for words. I was surprised when he noticed the tears running down my rain-soaked face. We laughed.
The entire scene was completed in less than five minutes, but in those few minutes, folks in the slow moving traffic on Geary Boulevard took photos of Kyle and me which ended up splashed across the front page of the San Francisco Examiner the next morning, along with the headline: COP PROPOSES IN HEAVY TRAFFIC. How the paper got our names remains a mystery, but there they were in black and white.
My phone began ringing at 5:30 am when the first edition hit the streets. I was frantic, not knowing what the repercussions would be for Kyle and his position with the police force. I tried calling him but kept getting his message prompt. My concerns were needless.
The gay community in San Francisco came out in force, supporting us in every way possible. They made headlines with their support. One group was handing out flowers to every policeman they could find. It was a positive boost for the Police Department. The evening news was filled with what I thought was a very private affair, albeit on a busy street, but nevertheless.
Within days after our engagement, Kyle was decorated for bravery for his part during the robbery shootout. In his acceptance speech, he did not hesitate to mention Clark Kent, the man who saved his life. “Yes, his name really is Clark Kent, and he is my hero. I wouldn’t be standing here today if it weren’t for him. When I began to slip away he yelled at me, threatening to kick the livin’ crap out of me if I didn’t stay with him.” When the laughter subsided, he added, “I stayed with him and decided I never wanted to leave him, so I asked him to marry me.” Jaw dropping astonishment silenced the audience.
Finally, someone piped up, “Did he accept?” I took my cue and stood up, “Yes, I did.”
The audience could not restrain themselves, they rushed forward and mobbed both of us with congratulations and best wishes.
After the acceptance ceremony, when we were alone, he quietly told me about his reaction to what I had said to him in Golden Gate Park the day the Santa Ana winds blew in from the desert.
“I loved you before you told me of your mother’s wisdom, but as you spoke those words, my heart sank right down into my shoes. I knew I could live that philosophy – with you at my side.”
They write about the look of love. At that moment, it was gushing out of Kyle like a waterfall. It was so intense I felt dizzy for a moment. As usual, I was at a loss for words.
I laugh when I think of that traffic stop so long ago on Route 1 into San Francisco when that beautiful police officer stood next to my car door and arrested me – in more ways than one.
For what it’s worth, kissing someone with braces is no problem, no problem at all.