Philip Noland is in his late thirties when his best friend, Jonathan, contracts AIDS. In an effort to maintain some control over Jonathan’s illness, Philip becomes his caregiver and go-between with the hospital doctors.
The mid-1980’s are a time of uncertainty and ignorance about the disease. Hysteria reigns supreme. Actors are reluctant to kiss gay costars because they believe saliva carries the virus. Others worry about sharing dishes and silverware. To add to the mix, what medical science doesn't know about this devastating illness could fill a condom the size of the Hindenburg.
Philip is not GQ gorgeous. He’s the first to admit it. But he never gives up on his search for a soul mate, someone to complete him. In spite of the growing warnings about safe sex, Philip continues to look for Mr. Right, often in all the wrong places.
Then he meets Joshua. Is Philip’s journey finally over? Or does fate have something -- or someone else -- in mind for him?
Philip began slowly. “I thought you didn’t like me, I mean --”
“I didn’t,” Jonathan said. “Not when we met. I thought you were such a snob. Who reads things like Jane Eyre these days? Who even likes her?”
“Touché. See what I mean? You’re full of those literary allusions. You can be snooty and kind of, oh, what’s the damn word?”
“Conceited, egotistic, pompous?”
“Yeah. Those are pretty good ones.”
“So you’re saying I’m all that.”
“Maybe at first, but once someone gets to know you well --”
“They hate me.”
“No,” Jonathan said, “they see there’s quite a lot there.”
“Gee, thanks. Like knowing I make regular visits to bathrooms with glory holes.”
“Especially that.” Jonathan giggled and gave Philip an air kiss then went over and sat on the arm of his chair. “You’re gay and human. Who’d a thunk?”
“You knew I was gay, Jon.”
“Sure.” Jonathan squeezed Philip’s shoulder. “It was the human part I was worried about.”
Philip raised his hand, about to give him a slap but instead kissed him playfully on the ear. “So now you know.”
“Yup. And I like you even more.”
Philip grabbed his crotch. “Enough to help me out down here?”
“No, not that much.” Jonathan took his arm from Philip’s shoulder and started rubbing his finger on something under his right ear.
“What is that?” Philip said.
“It’s a bump, I think. I’ve had it for days. Maybe just psychological,” Jonathan said, “but it seems to help if I rub it a little. Can you see anything?”
Philip looked closely at the reddish bump. He pressed his fingers against something that looked to him like a raised bug bite. “You’ve been bit. Seeing anyone lately who wears a black cape and turns into a bat?”
“My date last night.”
“Thought so. I’ve got some cortisone cream somewhere. That’ll help.”
“You know something, Phil?”
“Would you like me better if I didn’t know something?”
“What do you mean?”
“I thought you said I was a snob, an intellectual. Maybe you think I’m too smart for you.”
“Don’t be silly. I said I didn’t like you at first. But I do now. Plenty.” Jonathan leaned in and brushed Phil’s lips with his.
Philip responded. Wanted more. His friend was slim with smooth olive skin and sexy as hell. Jonathan pushed him away.
“Nope. Not like that. As a friend, okay?”
Philip gave him a dejected look then smiled, one of his best features people said, but no one could say he was handsome. Early hair loss and acne scars put paid to any claim he might have on good looks. “Okay, so what should I know, dear friend?”
“You’d make a really good nurse,” Jonathan said. “Chicken soup will be next.”
“No way. I’ll just get the skin cream.”
Philip was opening bathroom cabinets, rummaging through old toothpaste tubes, dental floss, and prescriptions that should have been discarded long ago, when he wondered if there’d been any truth in what Jonathan had said. Philip liked helping others. Guess that was why at thirty-three, he was well set on his career path of teaching developmental English to college freshmen. He’d never once given the medical profession a passing thought. Christ, he couldn’t even watch when they took his blood. He got shivers every time he had to visit anyone ill in a hospital. Funny what feelings and images an off hand remark could invoke. Philip found the cortisone cream amidst the rubble in the drawer, expiration date 1/6/86, and still good to go. He went back into the living room and glanced at Jonathan still rubbing his neck. He was ready to play doctor. Just not the fun kind.