TO HAVE AND TO HOLD
Ray and Benny make a decision.
An established relationship story.
Written: October 2010. Word count: 1,100.
"Well, Benny?" Ray said, after at least ten seconds of silence had gone by. "Aren't you going to answer me?"
Benny's expression was serious. Several more seconds of silence went by, Ray felt like screaming. "Are you quite certain, Ray? Is this what you really want?"
"Sure it is, Benny." Ray answered quickly. And it was, wasn't it? Sure it was a big step, but he was certain. After all they'd lived together for five years; they knew one another. Okay, so it wasn't always easy, but important relationship weren't. They both had to make compromises, but that's what it was all about. They shared the tasks out between them and it all worked out. Besides, his mother would be happy if they finally did tie the knot. Ever since Chicago had allowed people of the same sex to marry, she'd been dropping subtle and not so subtle hints to them.
More seconds of silence went by. "But, Ray, what about your job?
Ray shrugged. "They know I live with another man, Benny, it won't make any difference. I'm not the only gay cop on the force."
"I'm aware of that, Ray. However, I just wonder if you've thought this through?"
Ray sighed and put his hands on his virtually bald head. "Benny, do you want to marry me, yes or no?" He stared unblinkingly at his lover, silently counting the seconds in his head.
Benny blinked. "But of course I want to marry you, Ray," he said, his tone heavy with surprise. "I thought you knew that."
"Well, gee, Benny, given you didn't tell me, how could I have known?"
Benny took his hand; he looked very serious. "I just thought that given we were so attuned to one another you would realize. I am so very sorry that I gave you even a moment of doubt."
Ray looked at the man he loved; the most annoying man in the world; the most wonderful man in the world. Of course he'd had a moment of doubt. He didn't deserve Benny, how could he? He wasn't smart like Benny was, wasn't good looking like Benny was, couldn't fix things like Benny did. Okay, so he could cook, but a lot of that was reheating from stuff Ma brought round for them. What could he give Benny? Maybe he shouldn't have pushed Benny to answer; maybe the fact he hadn't answered had been his answer.
"We donít have to do it, Benny," he said, letting his gaze skitter away from Benny's deep blue eyes. "We can just carry on -"
Benny's kiss was sweet, pure, still with the same innocence he had shown the first time he'd kissed Ray and loving. When Ray opened his eyes again, he found Benny was kneeling on the floor in front of him, cupping his face between his hands. He smiled; it made him look years younger. "Ray Vecchio," he said his tone sincere, "I love you and I would be honored to marry you."
Ray swallowed hard as he saw the truth in Benny's words echoed in his steady gaze. "Great," he said, swallowing again around the lump in his throat. "Ma'll be pleased."
Benny nodded. "I believe she will." He kissed Ray again and then stood up and headed towards the hall. Moments later he returned pushing the vacuum cleaner and carrying a duster and the can of polish.
Ray stared at him. "Benny, what's going on?"
Benny unwound the cable and plugged the vacuum cleaner in. "I'm going to vacuum the carpets, Ray."
Ray continued to stare. "But why?"
"Because as soon as you call your mother to tell her, she'll insist on coming straight round and -"
"Benny, Ma won't mind a bit of dust," Ray said. But he was already standing up and had picked up the duster and polish. "She knows we work all day." He sprayed polish on the table and began to rub it with the duster. He paused. "Why do you think I'm going to call Ma now?" he called over the noise of the vacuum cleaner.
Benny paused and just looked at Ray. Then he turned the cleaner off and said simply, "Because I know you, Ray." Seconds later he switched the vacuum back on and continued to push it around the living room.
Ray stopped polishing and just stood and stared at his lover - his husband to be - his Benny. He knew he had a sappy grin on his face, but he didn't care. This was the man who made his happy, who fulfilled him, who completed him, who was going to marry him. He finished polishing the table, put the duster and polish down, he'd finish it in a bit, and called out, "I'll go and call, Ma."
THREE HOURS LATER
"Yes, Ma. Goodnight, Ma," Ray said, closing the cab door and waving as it drove away. The night air was crisp, the stars shone brightly, the full moon hung low in the sky. Living on the outskirts of Chicago meant there were few street lamps to spoil nature - something Benny loved. Ray took a lungful of the clean, fresh air; it really was better than the heart of Chicago.
As they'd expected his mother had been delighted with their news. She'd cried, hugged them, launched into long speeches that were half in English half in Italian and had then told them she would organize their wedding.
Ray had learned years ago that once his mother was determined there was no point in arguing with her, so they'd given in and agreed. "You sure you don't mind, Benny?" he said, as Benny put his arm around his shoulders and pulled him a little nearer. "Ma taking over, I mean," he added.
"No, Ray, of course I don't mind."
"Because if you do, I'll call her and tell her it's not what we want."
Benny turned Ray around and held him in a loose embrace as he gazed at him; the light from the moon allowed Ray to see Benny's face. "Ray, all that matters is that we get married. Howe we do it doesn't matter."
Ray touched Benny's face. "Yeah, you're right."
"And it will make your mother very happy."
Ray laughed. "Sure will." He shivered slightly; the evening was getting cool. "Let's go inside and warm up, Benny," he said.
"Yes, Ray. I never did finish the vacuuming. Your mother arrived sooner than I'd expected."
"That wasn't the kind of warming up I had in mind," Ray said."
"Was it not?" Benny's tone was far too innocent.
Ray laughed. "Come on, Benny. Let me warm you up."
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