“I stand in the shower at the dead hour of the night, not moving and facing the figure of what I can tell is the man I’ve given the ultimate power to. His face is buried in the dark; it almost feels as if he doesn’t have one. I hope to set my eyes on him long enough until he starts to unravel himself to me, but I’m uncertain as to whether or not that’s about to happen. There’s a strong, inordinate curiosity to lighten his mystery and peek inside his crawl space, but I’m too afraid to discover what lies beneath. He’s like a lurid shadow, forever haunted. Troubled. Restless. Wicked.
There’s something damaged about him. Something displeasing. Something downright cruel. There’s a deformity I can scarcely identify. I wish I could for that it would set him free. But he’s trapped in the prison created by his mind.
Suddenly, his hand reaches for my throat, his fingers firmly wrap themselves around it. He holds on to it tight and then, he makes a quick and sudden jerking move and the back of my head hits the wall.”
My initial reluctance and gut feeling couldn’t get a complete and accurate inkling of what Matt’s twisted world consisted of, and I was hoping that would change once I visited his Seattle penthouse, relying heavily on the idea that touring his apartment was crucial in figuring out what kind of person he really was. I find it weird that we’ve immediately built a deep, almost destined connection during the span of only a few weeks of seeing each other. There’s a complex dynamic growing between us that’s hard to understand but also hard to resist. Those feelings could be an indication of a huge red flag, but I can’t be completely sure until I dig even deeper into Matt’s life and tackle his way of living. He wants me, and I need him, and although that doesn’t put us on the same level, it does put on the same page. I want to generate and explore his realms, and optimize my day to day living though him.
Upon my arrival I was welcomed by Umbra, Matt’s beautiful and large black and grey bobcat, the perfect companion for someone as elusive and nocturnal as he is; this kind of cat is known for its wildness, solitary lifestyle and hunting techniques. She hovered around me defensively, making me feel unwelcome, almost threatened. I cautiously tiptoed my way around her trying not to look like a coward and followed Matt into the living room. There was a clear, contrasting chasm between the way I lived and the way he lived. He has extravagant, life-sized oil paintings covering his apartment walls. Most of them displayed in either black or silver matte metal frame, adding even more value to them. Each room has at least one ridiculously expensive painting. They’re all absurdly artistic although he doesn’t necessarily strike me as the type of person who has a particular interest in art. It’s typical for a man that wealthy to buy expensive things simply because he could afford them. He also has a collection of neat and ostentatiously displayed books.
His kitchen which shared the space with the living room is as big as my drab little one bedroom which I’m particularly fond of nonetheless. After looking at each room, we made our way back to the living room where Umbra was majestically standing straight up on the coffee table, her tail tucked in close with her ears widely spread. He took her into his arms and sat down on his couch, and I imitated.
“Umbra can deliver a deathblow with a leaping pounce”, Matt said with an informative tone.
“Hmm; is keeping her even legal?”, I suspiciously asked.
“No, but you’d be surprised how domesticated those cats can be; Umbra in particular is quite amazing. You’ll see”, he added while tenderly petting her.
My eyes twitched involuntary to the sight of them, alternatively switching my attention from him to her and vice versa which caused some dismay. Umbra came across as a mischievous accessory, a villainous adornment to Matt’s ruthless and pestilent nature. I was excited to take on the challenge of knowing him although I was sure he wouldn’t open up easily if at all. Still water runs deep, and behind that calm and placid exterior lied a mysterious man whose extremely hard to read.
In the evening, we took a stroll downtown and entered one of the department stores. Inside, each of us went in a different direction, but I could tell he wasn’t letting me out of his sight. There was a strange amount of power in our exchange of glances, one that exceeded lust and desire. It was more like a predator watching his prey. Our lives were turning into some sort of illusive private but also conscious game we enjoyed playing outside of the real world.
I caught him deviously gazing at me from the other side of the room before moving around and standing right by me. I was looking at the display of silver necklaces; a silver one with a marine link chain caught my attention. When the sale associate turned to assist another customer, Matt swiftly pulled the necklace off the rack, concealed it in his palm and slickly slipped it in my jacket pocket. I looked at him in shock and he smiled and said:
“What? If you like it, you should keep it. It’s not like you haven’t done this before.”
I can’t understand Matt’s behavioral peculiarities or where they’re coming from, but he’s very much like me which scares but also excites me. We exited the mall successfully and crossed the street where a mid-century furniture store was located. We walked in and it was quiet and almost completely deserted. A saleswoman came out from behind the counter which briefly startled us. She asked if she could assist us before going back to her work. Matt walked me over to the bed with the softest sheets and almost jumped in it. He asked me to join him, but I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. I eventually sat down and lied next to him. He turned sideways and unbuttoned the top button of my shirt and tucked his cold hand in. He ran his fingers softly through the chain of my necklace before leaning on top of me and kissing me on my mouth, neck and chest. With his teeth, he pulled the link up and put it in his mouth before sticking it in mine, our tongues rolling it around over and over as we made out.
At dinner, things between us started to intensify even more. Since we both shared almost the same psychology, our interactions came with a lot of curiosity rather than judgment; I could tell him anything. Neither him or I had to filter and lie about ourselves. We were two wicked individuals sitting in front of each other exchanging life experiences very openly and it didn’t feel weird. As we conversed, he’d discreetly brush his fingers against mine, a gesture that I welcomed and appreciated tremendously since I’ve never had this kind of physical contact before. I felt my infatuation with him grow with every compliment and sweet look he gave me. The slightest thought of being separated from him at that point made my body ache. Even that he managed to see. He said that we’ll always be together, that he’ll always love me, that I was special. He spoke so certainly about our future together although it was something inherently uncertain, and that put me at ease. I was facing someone who saw life with the same pair of eyes. Someone who didn’t believe in labels or boundaries but who still acknowledged that people like us were marginalized and so a mask of sanity and conformism was necessary in order to survive.
Our date was another perfect time for me to break the ice and ask him about his childhood and life in general. I’ve timed each question carefully so he didn’t feel like he was being interrogated and he nicely answered all of them clearly and concisely. I was mainly focused on figuring out how we were equals even though it didn’t need a genius to understand what he meant by saying that. I’ve always had the theory that criminal defense attorneys were one step removed from being actual criminals, and that’s because they spend a lifetime defending the worst of the worst. It’s the same with police officers. It’s a popular belief that most criminals hide behind decent positions as those provide a perfect disguise while engaging in ethical wrongdoings and successfully getting away with them. It was clear that Matt didn’t relate to the world like everybody else. I didn’t either. My biggest concern however, was figuring out how serious his criminal behavior was. I was mainly trying to get him to say he’s never killed anyone because that would’ve been a deal breaker. Judgment aside, I don’t think I’m capable of fully understanding and sympathizing with a killer. I certainly wouldn’t blindly ask for their execution, but involving myself in such crimes, especially impulsive and motiveless ones, doesn’t coincide with the person that I am.
I’ve built my own theology regarding what is acceptable to me and what isn’t. For me, there’s a clear line separating criminals from outlaws; the way I see it, criminals commit crimes just for the sake of it – because they could. Outlaws on the other hand, commit crimes in specific moments and for justifiable reasons. I call those crimes situational; they’re non-premeditated and are committed to assert our own justice when justice isn’t served for us. I don’t decide to create chaos because I feel like it, there has to be a reason. I live beyond the spirit of the law and beyond society through a carefully constructed justice system I’ve created for myself. I take my strict rules very seriously and feel like I’ve lost my credibility and sense of self whenever I break any of them.
Matt was born in Bellingham to a dominantly present mother and an absent father he’s never gotten the chance to know since he had left them when he was five years-old after leading what seemed to be a poisonous marriage. However, he said that didn’t prevent him from having a normal childhood. Instead, a health-related situation that quickly proved fatal did. He was at school when an intense pain in his abdomen started, and he had no idea what had caused it. When he came back home, his mom examined him and tried to identify the cause but couldn’t, and he ended up being rushed to the hospital. He didn’t specifically tell me what happened to him, but mentioned how doctors said he had to be treated immediately. The surgery was successful, and he was back home in no time. After his recovery, though, something wasn’t quite right. He couldn’t point out the exact moment he felt different, not until his mother and his friends at school started treating him differently, and he noticed that their response came with good reason. He had grown acrimonious, subdued and increasingly withdrawn. He had transitioned into a disengaged and friendless adolescent, someone unpopular and socially inept. His anti-social behavior grew throughout his high school years and remained during his college years when he moved to California to pursue law.
“I maintained a facade of social activity, but I knew deep inside I was losing my natural sense of relating to other people”, he concluded.
Going through law school was hard for him. He couldn’t remain focused in class, did poorly on his exams which eventually caused him to give up and drop out before going back and resuming his studies until he graduated. Life started to pick up then as he landed his first job which pushed and aspired him to become a good lawyer. His personal life was practically non-existent at that point, but he didn’t worry about that and embraced his introverted nature; the only time he socially interacted with people was during business meetings and when clients were involved.
When people open up, they tend become vulnerable and get carried away, accidentally stirring up details about their past they wouldn’t normally reveal. Well, not Matt. He knew how much to share and when, almost making me suspect he was lying about the person he was, but that’s just me. I’m very cautious when it comes to trust and I really should try and not let my extreme wariness take over our relationship, so I took his word for everything he said. After all, his aloofness and the way he talked proved he was no longer preoccupied trying to impress me by coming off as a typical flawless gentleman. The fundamental basis of our attraction is based on the fact we both operate differently than everyone else. As he recounted his past to me, shoddiness took over his stories before he closed down the subject completely. The last thing he mentioned was going through some turmoils and having spent some time in a juvenile delinquent facility.
Around midnight, the restaurant emptied out almost completely, so we left. We strolled down the street under light precipitation. Eventually, intense rain started pouring on us. Matt dragged me deep inside an alley, pushed me against a brick wall and started kissing me. Our necking was interrupted by a group of degenerate lowlives calling us “Gross, disgusting faggots.” We moved out of their sight but it was obvious they were looking to start something. I urged Matt to run away and get a cab, but he refused to budge. He took of his coat and rolled up his sleeves. In response to that, one of the men revealed a pocket knife while the others hurled more homophobic slurs and cheered for him to beat us up.
A fight immediately ensued between Matt and the armed man. Matt lunged at him and twisted his wrist to disarm him. His knife fell to the ground and I rushed to grab it while he proceeded in punching the guy and breaking both of his front teeth. Throughout their altercation, I remained close to him with my arm stretched out toward the rest of the gang, the knife still in hand and made sure they felt threatened. When Matt was done with their leader, they slowly backed off then ran away and disappeared into the night.
I found the fight thrilling, but it also raised a lot of questions as to who Matt really is. Anyone else would’ve fled under those circumstances. The fact he had the courage to stand up for both of us isn’t the issue. I admire him even more for that. But it’s the way he dealt with it that shook me. His fighting back was fast and slick, so effortless it almost seemed as if he’s done it many times before.
When we returned home, we immediately got into bed. He rolled over to my side, pulled me as close to him as possible and spooned me. His embrace was warm and reassuring I knew I’d be able to be relax and fall asleep. However, that didn’t happen when I suddenly felt Umbra’s startling presence lurking inside the bedroom. I was worried she might end up appearing right in front of me.; I was afraid to close my eyes, but even more afraid to keep them open. I eventually managed to ward off my unpleasant and unrealistic thoughts by substituting them with a fabricated visualization of the sight of a soothing ocean which helped put me right to sleep.
The next morning, I woke up and found Matt in the kitchen making breakfast. He asked if I had slept well and I lied and said I did; the apartment’s ominous atmosphere wasn’t the only reason I kept waking up during the night, it was also my inability to sleep in someone else’s bed although the bed was really big and comfortable. As we ate and talked, he abruptly asked me if I wanted to move in with him and I laughed thinking he was joking. He wasn’t. I’ve only been here a couple of days, but he didn’t see how that was an issue. I was torn because I wanted to move in with him but couldn’t just abandon my apartment in Iowa, so I weighed my pros and cons. I was reluctant by the idea of moving in with him, but was also drawn by hunger, obsession, loneliness and risk.
Matt has everything I need. Without him, my life feels stripped of meaning or purpose. Although I’m focused and determined to make something out of my skills as a photographer and finally launch some kind of career for myself, I’m hesitant and worried I might not make it. Even with the praise and appreciation I’ve received at the gallery, I still doubt myself. Artists lead rough lives and I’m not willing to go through that. I just want comfort, luxury and reassurance. I really don’t want to worry anymore.
Walking around his apartment and familiarizing myself with it lessened from my worries. After last night, I was ready to let my guards down and allow this to be the start of something special; a unique and special partnership. But the question that’s been bugging me from the start still needed an answer. What exactly made him come to me? I couldn’t stand the idea of starting a relationship while some things remained unclear.
In the evening, as I looked directly in the light coming from the lamp across from me, totally immersed in my private thoughts, I finally took the initiative and interrupted him while he worked in his office. He lifted his eyes while remaining seated, his arctic blue eyes turning the room into a soulless and airless space. Without any further hesitance, I spelled the words right out:
“Why now?, I asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Why come to me now?”
“I’m not sure”, he simply answered.
“Something must’ve happened. What is it that pushed you to come back to me?”
After a decent pause, he finally spoke:
“I had a dream about you the night before I came by the gallery. It was violent.”
An indefinable alarming feeling took over me as soon as he said the word “violent.”
“You were angry. Rageful”, he continued.
“And…?”, I asked, impatiently.
“I don’t remember the details. But I was concerned about you. It felt like… It felt like you needed saving.”
That’s when I finally realized Matthew was one in a million, maybe even the only one. The person who made love to me instead of just screwing me; the person who gave me acceptance and benignancy which everyone else was too hardened to give me. I’d crawl over glass to be with this man for he is so beautiful and so flawlessly pure. He is my long-awaited soulmate.