He started the engine and I continued to think about last night. Alternatively, I wondered what possibly could be floating in his mind, certainly not the details of our encounter. For all I knew, he could be lost in pointless thought, wondering in what location I would be hiding where I actually might be camouflaged by my pink pajamas. Perhaps he considered more practical information, such as reevaluating my camping savvy with the fish and the fire abilities I exhibited in our breakfast preparation. Perhaps his attempt at humor featured a self-deprecating tone, because he furtively wanted me to reveal details about his behavior that he couldn’t recall. I might not have recalled many specifics either, but at least I remembered it happening.
As we pulled away from our isolated spot in the mountains, the truck growled at its new load, especially as he navigated a tight turn to extricate the vehicle and get the firewood headed back downhill.
No topic sprung to mind to discuss on our initial return to civilization, so I rode silently, enjoying the splashing of sunlight on the mountains. When he voiced concerns about the previous night, I let him initiate the conversation, so I finally caught a glimpse of the content behind his eyes.
“About last night, I wanted to ask you something.” There were lots of somethings I wanted to ask him, but he conveniently forgot everything.
“When, umm, when we…” he stumbled for the words.
“Had sex?” Stop beating around the bush, I mentally told him.
He nodded. “Did we, umm, cover all our bases?”
Safe sex? This is the safe sex conversation I thought about when I was packing? And we were having it now? I decided to make him sweat this one.
“Well, did you come prepared for such contingencies?” I asked, already knowing the answer. Clearly he didn’t.
Crap. I was wondering about STDs and he probably was wondering about parenthood.
“So you’re asking me if I am on the pill?”
He said nothing, so I knew he wanted me to answer my own question.
“I am not.”
He turned and looked at me. Panic best described the expression on his face, although I expected worse. I’d seen worse. And he deserved to be panicked.
“I can’t have kids.” He poorly tried to hide the enormous exhale that followed, so I took advantage of his peace of mind to press him equally. “But do I need to worry about getting tested for any diseases?”
He delivered me another sideways glance. “No.”
I returned the sideways glance and hoped I used it correctly to make him continue his explanation. I lacked his talent with the non-verbal expressions, so it may have appeared more like an evil eye. Regardless, it worked; I got a response, just not the one I wanted.
“I could ask you the same thing.” He spoke not impolitely, but directly. I was prepared for this approach.
“My last clean test was in March and you are the only man I have been with since I left Texas.”
I wondered if he would be so forthcoming.
“My last clean test was when I left the military, and I haven’t been with anyone since my ex wife.”
Holy shit! The math since my last test was a matter of months. His math was calculated in years, maybe more than a decade. And of course I would have to pretend I didn’t know he was married or when he got out of the military.
“When did you get out of the military?”
“You’re not going to ask the other question?” Of course I wanted to ask the other question, but his attempt to dominate this conversation needed to end. His impulsive actions led to the need for this conversation anyway.
“Of the two dates, the one that currently concerns me is the date of your last test. Perhaps a discussion about our sexual histories is a subject for the next item we accidentally have sex.”
“Two-thousand and six.”
Whew, almost a decade. I nodded in response and whether or not either of us intended it to be the last word, we ended the discussion and we drove on in silence.
He navigated around several switchbacks, and when coming around a sharp inclined corner, a deer blocked the road, indecisive as to which direction to flee. He slammed on the brakes and the truck bounced once when we stopped and a second time when the trailer bumped us forward. He instinctively threw his arm in front of me to brace me against the sudden jolts.
“I’m sorry. You okay?” He asked without removing his arm, as if its presence changed the outcome.
I caught my breath and reached up to touch his sleeve and squeezed it with a touch of gratitude.
“Yes, thank you. And I’m sorry.”
“I could have been a little less bitchy back there.” There wasn’t a better word to describe my treatment of him. I’m sure it wasn’t his favorite topic of discussion and I made it more painful than it needed to be.
“You really weren’t that…”
I gave him the sideways glance, evil eye again. “Yes I was.”
“Yes, you were.” He smiled ever so slightly. “You’re one-hundred percent positive? You can’t have kids?”
I nodded. “How about we don’t discuss your ex wife or my reproductive system for the remainder of the weekend?”
“Deal.” He resumed our descent.