I become Sarah to meet an older couple.
" Boyd killed the engine and they got out of the car. Jon opened the rear door and retrieved his luggage. Boyd was already at the door that led into the house, looking back as Jon struggled forward with his bags, trying not to bump into objects hanging on the walls of the garage.
They stepped through a small kitchen. Dim light filtered through a window above the sink, which looked out at the wall of the house next door. A wooden table filled much of the floor space. Cookware and appliances were arrayed on the countertop.
From the next room a voice called, "Boyd? Jon? Is that you?"
Jon's heart gave a leap and he hurried forward, wishing Boyd would walk faster. They entered the living room at the front of the house. A picture window framed by curtains looked out onto the street. The man sitting on the couch in front of it turned toward them and smiled. "You're here."
Jon had braced himself for this moment, not knowing how he would react to the sight of Matt. Now that he finally saw him his head felt light, and he had to fight not to let his bags, one in each hand, drop with a thud to the floor. His knees shook as he bent to put them down.
He was thin, so thin. The skin on his face was stretched tight across his cheekbones, deep hollows underneath. His chin and neck were crisscrossed by deep lines barely covered by a scraggly growth of beard. The hair on his head was an indeterminate color, sparse and lifeless. Matthew Mulroy's plain white shirt and gray trousers hung on his body as he rose to his feet and extended his arms. "Jon," he said.
His eyes hadn't changed, though Matt's weight loss had caused them to sink deep into their sockets. Nevertheless, they were the same brilliant blue that Jon remembered. The smile was the same as well.
Jon moved forward and embraced him, not squeezing hard, fearing he might hurt him. He was surprised at the strength of the arms that encircled his body.
"Thank god," Matthew said. "Welcome."
Jon looked out the window, blinking back tears. "Matt."
"He's going to be in the guest room upstairs, right?" Boyd said. "Have you taken your second dose of Crixivan today, Matt?"
Matt released Jon and wiped his eyes. "Yeah, damned if I know why." He smiled at Jon. "Boyd's my buddy, nurse and sadistic master, all rolled into one."
"I'll take his bags upstairs."
Jon turned, surprised. "Thanks a lot," he said, but Boyd had already left the room. In a moment they heard his heavy footfalls on the steps.
"I use the chairlift," Matt said. "Those stairs are too much for me now."
Jon took his face in both his hands and looked at him, not speaking. Matt's eyes filled again. "I've changed a lot, I know."
Jon shook his head. "You're the same old Matt to me."
Matt grasped his wrists. "Jon, if only I were. You don't know how much I hoped you would come. I know David must have called you. There's not much time."
Jon took him into his arms again. "I'm here now," he said, giving his voice a firmness he did not feel inside. "And we have all the time in the world."
THREE: MONDAY NIGHT, TEXAS
It was almost midnight when Kevin returned home. He had stayed at the University library in Austin until closing time, then continued studying at a nearby coffeehouse, sipping a latte while he typed on his laptop. He could have done the work at home but he was afraid Ward might be there.
He had driven Jon to the airport Saturday afternoon, a stiff and uncomfortable ride for both of them. Afterward he had come home to find Ward sitting in the living room, holding a can of Diet Coke.
He had spoken without ceremony. "Let's get one thing straight. Nothing's going to be different because Jon is gone."
Ward nodded. "Understood."
He hadn't expected it to be so easy. "I'm not, you know, thinking we'll eat together or anything. I mean we don't even cook that often, Jon and me."
"I wasn't planning on being your kept boy, Doctor K."
Ward had got up then and left. Kevin had stood looking after him, baffled and annoyed.
He pulled into the driveway and got out of his car.