“I did it, Stephen. I did it like you told me. I left them in the desert.”

“What are you talking about?” Thomas asked sleepily. “Wait, what are doing in my house?”

Walking into Stephen’s house, Thomas realized he had never been in it without Sharon, some tedious couples thing or play date with the kids. Everything had taken on a new significance: the small bowl Stephen dropped his keys into, the immaculate hallway rug, the white, white, white bedroom filled with light.

Stephen sat up in bed, the light sheet falling away to show his well-toned body. “Tom, what are you talking about?”

“I’m free, I’m free,” I said to him, climbing on the bed and jumping up and down. “We can finally be together.”

We went camping exactly where Stephen suggested, the spot bleak and rugged and isolated. Sharon hated it immediately. “I wanted to go glamping,” she whined. “I wanted to sleep in a sustainably-sourced yurt.” Jackson rolled his eyes and played on his phone until it got dark.

“It’s OK, it’s all going to be OK. I made it look like a bear attack!” I told Stephen excitedly. I was confused when he reached for his phone.

“Who are you calling?” I asked, sitting down on the bed. It was still warm from him. I slid an arm under the sheet to feel it. The whole room had his smell: clean sweat and cut grass and two-stroke engine exhaust. Stephen had a job doing something with computers. But he never smelled like computers.

“I’m calling the police, you fucking maniac!’ Stephen said. I slapped the phone out of his hand.

Sharon was easy. I “bumped” into her while we were hiking the ridge. I watched her fall between two boulders, pinballing between them and I was screaming so that if anyone was around I could call it an accident. Mommy fall down, go boom, Jackson would have said when he was three.

“Why would you call the police? I’m going to go over there and talk to them in a few minutes, silly.” I darted in for a quick kiss. He pushed me away playfully, knocking me off the bed and into the glass balcony doors. “Oh, you,” I said, “always such a tease.” He bolted for the bedroom door and I caught him by the boxer shorts and brought him down. As he clawed at the carpet, I pulled the shorts off. His ass was magnificent.

I watched his wife leave for work, dressed business casual. Sharon told me what she did for a living but I didn’t remember it. She would have to go too. At least they didn’t have any kids. Jackson died hard, screaming Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! as I ripped him up. Bear attack! Rowr! I’m sure the dull knife will look like claws. BOY ATTACKED BY BEAR WHILE GUARDING MOTHER’S DEAD BODY the headline will read. Thoughts and prayers. Set up a GoFundMe. Leave with Stephen for somewhere warm after the fickle eye of social media moved on.

“I got strong for you!” I say as I climb up his back. Painfully erect inside my Dockers, my penis nestles in-between his butt cheeks. Stephen is crying with joy. I try to get my shirt off with one hand but he uses his free arm to elbow me in the face. I fall back stunned, seeing stars. That’s a weird turn of phrase. Do real stars rise and fade when you see them? It makes no sense at all.

That first day I saw him getting the bicycle off the roof of his Forester I knew he wanted me; so I bought a Forester myself and used it to get in shape. Sharon insisted on coming with me and dragging Jackson along. I wanted to go camping with Stephen, couldn’t she understand that? I joined a gym. I ate twelve eggs for breakfast. I made my dad bod melt away. Sharon got all excited that I was taking care of myself but her torn-up vagina repulsed me, her dark-nippled breasts sagged like a milch cow. I would leave the bedroom when she changed clothes. The only release I had was Stephen. I’d watch him from our bedroom window mowing his yard or staining his deck or swimming endless laps in his pool. I wiped myself off with Sharon’s curtains.

“You want to play rough?” I ask him. “That’s OK, I like to play rough too.” I climb back onto his and grab his throat from behind. I dig my fingers into his neck and feel his pulse. I should have brought some rope or tape so we could really play. He gurgled and thrashed, really getting into it. “Stephen?” came a woman’s voice. Goddammit! His wife was supposed to be gone. He began to kick at the floor and bucked me off.

Stephen, Stephen, Stephen, I rolled his name around in my mouth like it was the sweetest candy. That first night on the I saw him in the driveway, in bed with Sharon but thinking about him, I pulled her panties off and took her from behind, in the dark, pushing her face down into her pillow so she couldn’t ruin it by talking. Surprise anal. Surprise! I had to sleep on the couch for a few days but I wanted to be alone anyway. She’s dead now. Her brains are all over the pine needles and rocks. I am free, we will be free.

“Hi, honey, I’m home!” I yell from the top of the stairs. I took the time to strip off my shirt and shorts while Stephen struggled to breathe, no sense getting any blood on them. “Tom!” she gasps, staring at my erection. It is longer and thicker than it has even been. I feel like the skin would begin to split and slough off if it got any harder. “What’s happening?” she asks in her dumb little bird voice. “What’s happening, what’s happening?” I say, mocking her and walking down the steps toward her, my mighty erection bobbing. I’m huge. I could fuck the world. I could fuck it in half.

I’m at the bottom of the stairs. I don’t remember falling. I’m at the bottom of the stairs. I reach for her leg as she runs past me. I am wet. My ears are ringing. Stephen is looking at me. “Motherfucker!” he spits. My chest begins to hurt. My hand is wet. I begin to stroke my erection furiously. “I love you,” I tell him. “I love you.”