Categories > Theatre > Rent > Good Intentions3 Reviews
Collins finds out Mark HIV-positive. One worried phonecall, a lot of reassurance, and mockery of Mark's sexuality ensues.
His thoughts keep coming back to Roger, and it's not a comfortable feeling. Roger's been supportive, yeah, but there's something wrong, something he can't put his finger on, and it bothers him.
Almost as much as the fact that he can't sleep without Roger there anymore. It made sense, at first, when he couldn't sleep for days. Saw the doctor, got pills that left him feeling wretchedly hung over in the morning, and it was back to staring at the ceiling for hours on end, until one night he ended up crying on Roger's shoulder again, and falling asleep there. And Roger just let him.
And one night turned into two, and soon he was sleeping in Roger's bed every night. A little weird, yeah, but they'd shared a bed before, back when they were kids. So he's comforted by his best friend's presence, big deal, right?
He just can't shake the feeling that he's missing something important.
The phone rings, shocking him out of his reverie, and he winces. It could only be two people, Maureen or his mother, neither of whom he really wants to hear from at the moment... But to his surprise, it's neither.
"Hey, Mark, you there? It's Collins. Pick up the phone, man..."
Mark trips over his own feet on the way to the phone, yet somehow makes it, narrowly avoiding crashing into the table. "Collins?"
"Yeah. What the hell's going on over there? Maureen called me up with some bullshit story about you lying about having HIV to ruin her life or some shit like that. You okay?" Collins sounds worried and a little pissed, something Mark's never heard before.
He takes a deep breath and starts answering questions. "Yeah, I'm okay. Well, kind of. I'm... I'm positive, yeah. As for what's going on, I have no idea. I thought I got it from Maureen, but she's negative, and I haven't been with anyone else, and Roger said it could have been him, maybe, if he got hurt or something, and then he started getting that blank face he gets when he's really upset, and you know he wouldn't have, I mean, you're both so careful, but the fact remains that I have AIDS and I don't know how or why or what happened and my God my life makes no sense anymore!" The words are pouring out, and a small, rational part of Mark's mind is calmly noting that, okay, this is what hysteria feels like, and isn't it an interesting sensation? He should be getting this on film...
Collins' voice is low, soothing, the edge of anger gone. "Hey, hey, slow down. Okay, you're HIV positive, you don't know how... What's your T-cell count?"
"245." Mark can almost feel Collins wince over the phone.
"Okay. Okay. That's not good, but it's not critical, either. You don't even officially have AIDS yet, if you're above 200. You've still got time, you can figure this out, as long as you keep taking your AZT. Okay?"
"Okay." He knows this. Wasn't he telling the same thing to Roger not that long ago? But it's different now, it's different now that his life's the one being measured in numbers and countdowns and years instead of decades, and the enormity of it has him scared all over again, and guilty, and all he wants is to break down crying... But what does that mean to everyone else, if he can be so calm and steady with them, and break down when it's finally him?
"Mark? Mark, man, if you need to let it out..."
"No. I'm fine." He's proud of how steady his voice sounds.
"Hey, look, if you need me to come over there..."
"No. I've... got Roger." And that brings back everything he's been trying not to think about for the past half hour.
There's a long pause. "Everything okay with him? You sound a little less than thrilled about that."
"It's fine. He's been great. Really supportive."
Mark sighs and tries to find words. "He... He's always there. If I need anything, he's already got it in his hands before I can get up. He's just being so... aggressively supportive. Almost like he's happy that I'm positive." And, as he says it, he knows it's the truth.
"Man..." Collins is silent for a moment. "Look. You know the boy loves you."
"What?" The word comes out as a squeak.
Collins snorts softly, and Mark is sure he can hear him rolling his eyes. "Not like that. What is it about you straight boys, think everyone wants to get in your pants? He's your best friend. He loves you. Like a brother. And you've been taking care of him for so long, he finally gets to return the favor."
"You guess." Collins scoffs. "What the hell is there to guess? You really think he'd want you to get sick?"
"He's been kinda weird lately. Since Mimi." It comes out as a whisper, something he's afraid to admit even to himself, that after the first outpouring of grief, Roger's just been... wrong.
"Losing someone you love will do that to you." The grief in Collins' voice is as raw as it was when they lost Angel, and Mark swallows. I'm such an idiot...
"Shit, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to..."
"No, it's okay. But still, cut the boy some slack, okay? Mimi's not the first one he's lost. It's gonna be hard as hell on him. And, given that, given that he's lost April and Mimi... You really think he'd want you to go like that?"
"...No." He doesn't say that Collins hasn't been there, hasn't seen Roger. He doesn't mention how Roger didn't speak for a month, barely ate, barely even moved. How even when Roger started talking again, it was so much worse than it had been with April... At least withdrawal was something. Not just sitting there, unmoving, with dead eyes and the odd monosyllabic reply.
He doesn't say that he didn't think Roger was ever going to recover, and that the fact that he did is somehow frightening. Not that he's sorry to have his best friend back, but... It's all wrong, somehow.
He trusts Collins instead, because that's all he can do.
"You really think that's it?" He can't stop himself from voicing the question.
"Of course I do. What, you really think the he's obsessing over you or something?"
"...um. If you'd asked me that before, I'd have said no, but... I'm sleeping in his bed now. I can't sleep unless he's... holding me. And... um... he holds me pretty tight. I have to pry myself away from him in the mornings." Mark's cringing as he confesses this. Not quite how he wanted to say it, that part about not being able to sleep...
"And you think he's got a crush on you?" Collins is teasing him now, he can hear it. Great. "You sure it's not the other way 'round?"
"I thought you didn't swing that way." Collins laughs. "Look, just because he cares about you, it doesn't mean he wants in your pants, okay? The sleeping thing... Come on, he probably thinks you're his teddy bear or something. How long's it been since you got some, anyway?"
"Too long, but what does that have to do with anything?"
"Maybe nothing, maybe a lot. Try going out, finding a nice girl at Life Support. You need to get laid."
"Thanks a whole fucking lot, Collins." He's scowling at the phone, even though he knows Collins can't see him. "Look, I've gotta go. Roger's going to be back any minute."
"Wait, what? He left the house? I figured he was asleep or something if you were talking about him like that."
Mark sighs and wraps the phone cord around his fingers. "No, he's been going out lately. Getting food, stuff like that. Being obnoxiously helpful."
"Oh." Collins considers this for a moment. "Kind of like you were?"
"It's not the same!" Even as he protests, he knows just how lame he must sound. Maybe Collins is right...
"Right. Sure it's not. Because you didn't worry more than his own mama would have when he tested positive. Haven't you ever hand someone fuss over you before?"
"Other than my mom, no." Mark sighs and frees his fingers from the cord. "I guess you're right, though."
"Bitch, you know I'm right. I always am. And I meant what I said about getting some."
Mark laughs, despite himself. "Right. I'll keep that in mind. I've really gotta go now, though."
"Right. Later. Much love."
There's a click, and Mark puts the phone down, smiling a little. Collins is right. Of course he is. Roger's just acting exactly the way Mark himself did.
Nothing to worry about.