The Poet, His Husband, and The Fox (Part II)
A continuation of James Penha's Grimm Brothers adaptation
The first part of this story was posted on Thursday; you can read it here.
When he returned home, Joshua remained unsure if he should tell the truth—the unbelievable truth—to Gabe… or just say that he had found the watch… somewhere… or just hide it and say nothing. But the chance to see his husband happy won the day.
Gabe was in the kitchen making doughnuts, an activity that freed his mind from the burdens of paranoia. Joshua called him from the doorway. “Gabe, look at this.”
“Wait… I’ve got my hands in the bowl… What?” He turned and saw the watch dangling in Joshua’s raised right hand. “WHAT? The Le Coultre? Where… ”
“And thereby hangs a tale.”
Joshua waited to tell the story of the magical fox till the doughnuts—apple cider doughnuts—were ready to melt in their mouths accompanied by a fruity white wine in the living room.
“This is really what happened? You’re not trying to make a fool out of me? To hurt me?”
“No way. Why would I ever do that? Have I ever done that? I wanted… I only want you to be happy.”
Joshua pointed to the Le Coultre snug on Gabe’s wrist. “C’mon. This isn’t proof enough?”
“It’s good,” Gabe admitted. “It’s good. But let me think of something else you can wish for from your foxy friend… something completely my own notion. Okay?”
“Yes, we can try that.”
“Hey, this is all new to me, you know. And there seem to be a lot of rules about wishes. But I’ll try. I will. What do you want to wish for?”
“A car, I think. Yes, a car. We talked about getting a new car. You can keep the old one. I want my own car if we can wish for it. And I want something special. A Mercedes Maybach.”
“Why not?” Gabe smiled as he popped another donut in his mouth and emptied his wine glass. He smiled, Joshua thought, more broadly than in a long time.
Joshua went online to discover that foxes eat “virtually anything. Being carnivores, they like cooked or raw meat and canned pet food. Foxes also like other savory items such as cheese, table scraps, bread soaked in fat, fruit and cooked vegetables.” So he just cooked dinner for three, packaged several Tupperware containers in—he laughed to himself as he said aloud—“foxy bag,” and waited for the gekker.
It was almost midnight when Joshua finally heard ack-ack-ack outside the house. Gabe was sprawled, sound asleep, on the couch. Joshua didn’t bother to wake him to ask if he wanted to meet the fox, but quietly gathered the plastic containers holding the fox’s dinner and slipped outside. Mischa was standing a yard or so from the steps leading to the front porch.
“Hungry?” Joshua removed, opened, and set the containers in front of the fox.
“Famished,” said Mischa who demonstrated the truth of his description by devouring the dinner in quick time. “Oh, good. Really good!”
“I hoped so,” said Joshua as he retrieved the Tupperware and poured a bottle of Evian into a bowl. “I wondered about wine—”
“No, you don’t want to make a fox drunk. Trust me.”
“But I’m glad the dinner was good.” Joshua paused. “Cause I—we—Gabe has quite a wish.”
“So you told him about me?”
“I did, yeah.”
“But he’s not here?”
“No, he’s asleep. And I—I’m just so used to keeping things to myself... to avoid crises—”
“But you told him about me? And he has a wish?”
“I’m not sure I follow your logic.”
“No, me neither. My approach to dealing with Gabe is way beyond logic.”
“I see that. And the wish?”
“He wants a Mercedes Maybach.” The fox laughed although it sounded much like a gekker. “You can’t do that?”
“Oh, I can do it. It’s just that I learn about people from what they wish for.”
“Yes, that must be so.”
“What color?” Joshua looked perplexed. “The car. What color?”
“He didn’t say... but I’ve never seen one that’s not black.”
“Okay, then, I have to sound a bit like a Jeopardy host and ask you to put this request in the form of a wish.”
“I wish for Gabe to have a black Mercedes Maybach.”
“Done!” Joshua looked around.” You’ll find it underneath the porte-cochère on the side of your house. And you’ll find me tomorrow night right here for dinner.”
The car was dazzling even in the moonlight that reached it beneath the roof of the porte-cochère. Joshua touched it to make sure it was real before hurrying inside to the living room where he woke Gabe. “You have got to see this, Gabe.” Wiping the sleep from his eyes, Gabe and Joey followed Joshua to the porte-cochère.
“Oh my God, Josh. You did it. Oh my God. C’mon, let’s go for a ride.”
“Why not?” Gabe found the fob in the driver’s seat. He took his place at the wheel, Joshua next to him and Joey in the back seat, started the car, and circled the house several times before daring to descend the steep driveway that led to the main road. “Where to?”
“Let’s go to the river. We haven’t been there in ages.”
When they arrived at the riverside, Gabe turned off the car and turned to Joshua. “I love you, you know.”
“I do.” They hugged each other and kissed with more passion than either had mustered for months.
“It’s not just the car,” said Gabe. “It’s that you did it… for me.”
“I have always wished the best for you, Gabe.”
Joshua slept well after a night of raucous lovemaking in the four poster bed that dominated the master bedroom, but he awoke with trepidation as he often—maybe usually—did that Gabe would be in the throes of a fit of paranoia. And, indeed, eyes open, Gabe was waiting for Joshua to turn to him.
“How do I know this isn’t some kind of trick to harm me?”
“This what? What’s this?” Joshua asked.
Joshua had sworn to himself endlessly not to get angry in response to Gabe’s uncontrollable fears, but he heard himself raising his voice when he averred, “But you wanted the car.”
“Is it registered in my name? What if the police stop me on the road and ask for the registration? Your friend didn’t give me the registration. What if it’s a trick to get me in trouble?”
“We can ask Mischa for it tonight… although I bet it’s sitting in the glove compartment… or—” Joshua got out of bed and picked up Gabe’s pants from the floor where they had been dropped in the lovers’ eagerness to get naked and in each other’s arms. Joshua plucked the wallet from the back pocket of the trousers, opened it, and exclaimed, “Ha!” He brought the wallet to the bed and showed Gabe, next to his driver’s license, the registration for the Mercedes. “Okay?”
“Don’t you find it somewhat creepy that your friend has access to my wallet?”
“Amazing. Magical. Miraculous. Yes. Creepy? No. You own a fucking Mercedes Maybach. This proves it! Creepy my ass.”
“I want him to take it back.”
“If you won’t ask him, I’ll do it myself.”
And so, that night, when he heard the fox’s gekker, Joshua and Gabe, trailed by Joey, both carried bags of Tupperware filled with foodstuffs for Mischa.
“Wow,” said the fox, “Mr. Mercedes himself is here. No need to thank me for the car. I thank you for the dinner.” Mischa gobbled up the baked chicken, sweet potatoes, spinach, and apple pie a la mode.
“I wish,” said Gabe, “I never had that car.”
Mischa stopped eating. He looked up, vanilla ice cream dribbling from his mouth, at Gabe and then over to Joshua who smiled sadly and raised his arms, hands to the sky, in an I-can’t-help-it gesture. “Your wish is my—”
“Command!” said Gabe sternly.
“My pleasure. It’s gone.” Gabe ran to see that the porte-cochère where he had parked the car the previous night was empty. As he walked back to Joshua and the fox, he reached in his back pants pocket for his wallet. The registration for the Mercedes had disappeared. He pushed the wallet in front of Mischa’s face. “How do you get in my wallet?”
Mischa scooted beneath the wallet in Gabe’s outstretched arm and faced him. “It’s magic, asshole. Did you see me move the car? That’s how I move stuff from your wallet. M-A-G-I-C.”
“He must have helped you!”
Joshua exclaimed “Me?” as Mischa exclaimed “Him?”
“And he must have described the scratches on my grandfather’s watch,” Gabe continued. “How else would you have known? No one else would have known.” He swung his right arm up and down, right and left, pointing his index finger back and forth repeatedly at Joshua and Mischa. “You two are in this together!”
“This?” asked the fox.
“Oh, I can tell you that,” Joshua said. “This is the worldwide conspiracy targeting Gabe.”
“Targeting you with an antique watch and the world’s greatest car?” Mischa could not hide his contempt. “Quite a conspiracy!”
“They play with my mind. They drive me crazy.”
Joshua approached Gabe, seeking to wrap his arms around him. “C’mon, Hon, trust me. You know me.”
But Gabe would have none of it. “Oh, I know you. I wish I had never known you.”
“My pleasure,” muttered the fox. A startled Joey sniffed the spot from which Gabe vanished.
“Wha—” Joshua babbled as he stared at the spot where seconds before Gabe had stood. “Wh— where is he?”
“I don’t know, Josh. He wished he had never known you, and so where he is now is the result of his life without you.”
“He won’t remember me?”
“You will be nothing to remember.”
“But I still remember him! I know him! If I go in the house, will all his things still be there?”
Joshua sat on the ground. He stared at the fox. After a long silence, he asked, “Can I—you—we—unwish this… like you unwished the car?”
“I think so. But, Josh, is that really what you want?”
“He was the love of my life.”
“He was driving you insane.”
“He thought I was helping to drive him insane.”
Joshua giggled, but not at the allusion to the famous film or the vernacular usage of its title. “What will Gabe think when he looks in his wallet? Everything is so different!”
“Yeah, but he won’t realize that.”
“Mercifully.” He paused. “And you, Mischa, why have you never wished that Benjy never met you?”
“Well, for one thing—and you need to keep this straight in your mind—you didn’t wish that Gabe never met you; Gabe wished that he never met you. Very different, yeah? And anyway, I told you I only have one wish to make on my own behalf. Ever. I don’t have to wish Benjy away to rid myself of him. That would be an awful waste of my one selfish wish.” The fox furrowed his brow. “This. This is my one wish.” Where there had been a fox there sat, without a gradual metamorphosis as one might see in a werewolf movie, a very naked, very fit, and very male human being, his body lightly covered with red hair slightly blonder than that which abundantly swept from the crown of his head to his shoulders.
Mischa tried to stand, but unused to balancing himself on two legs, he accepted the help of Joshua who wrapped his arms beneath the shoulders of the tottering fellow to prevent him from collapsing. They made their way to the bench on the front porch. “I need to sit a bit,’ said Mischa. “I know from too much experience that I’ll be okay in five or ten minutes.”
“Why now what?”
“Why use your one selfish wish to unfox yourself now.”
“I hope this doesn’t sound too corny… but… so we can make all our other wishes come true.”
“Yes, ours. Together.”
“Now that Gabe is gone?”
“Now that I am here.”