A Day at the Museum
“What in the world is that?” Tom asked his husband, Ben. Tom didn’t know how he got talked into coming to a museum. He remembered how much he hated going to them. Yet here he was, standing in one of the exhibition rooms of the Lancaster Museum of Art, trying to figure out what all those colorful lines on a canvas on the wall meant.
“The sign says “River of Dreams.” I think it’s lovely. What would you say if I bought something like that for our living room?” Ben looked at him with a glint in his eye.
“I’d say please don’t.”
“Ha, ha. Don’t worry, honey, I don’t go for the abstract stuff. I like something I can identify in a piece of art.” Ben loved to pull Tom’s strings from time to time. “I’m just glad you agreed to come to the museum with me. I know it’s not your favorite way to spend your day off.” It was an idle Wednesday for both of them. Tom had a few days off and Ben had taken some vacation days he’d had left over. It was one of those ‘if you don’t use them, you lose them’ kind of deals, so he decided to take them and spend time with his fella.
They meandered down each room, taking in the pieces that were either hanging on the walls or some of the statues that stood in the middle and along the sides.
Tom stopped in front of a photo that spoke volumes to him; it was a man lying in a fetal position, his hands lying flat against the floor. The sign next to the piece read, “Despair.” He wasn’t sure why it meant something to him, but that part of him that cared so much about other people, that quality that made him a good firefighter, made him want to find out more about the man’s plight and do everything he could to help him. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been standing there, but it must have been long enough to make his partner worry about him.
“You okay, Tom?” He recognized the familiar touch of Ben’s hand on his shoulder. He turned and looked into his husband’s beautiful face.
“Yeah, just…” He couldn’t say more, only nodded his head toward the artwork.
Ben gazed at it and studied it, silently, for several minutes. He, too, was fixated on the man and could tell by the body language that there was a message, someone asking for help.
“You want to help this man, right?”
“Yeah, I do. It reminds me of a rescue we had a few weeks ago. A man was on the bridge that spans the river out on Route Thirty. He wanted to kill himself. I was right next to the guy, trying to talk him off. The police showed up and I can tell you it was touch and go for a while. It took about seven hours ‘tilI was finally able to talk the guy into coming off the edge. One of the most stress-filled hours for me, I can tell you. I still shudder to think what would have happened if he’d jumped.”
“Does anyone know why he wanted to jump?”
“He had family problems, he lost his job, his house was in foreclosure, and his wife took the kids and left him. He felt he was all alone in the world. He didn’t think he had any reason to live.” Tom wiped away the tears that threatened to spill.
“That would never happen to us, Tom. I love you so much and what we have is forever.”
Ben looked at him, fierce devotion clearly showing in his eyes. It made Tom’s heart melt. He leaned over and planted a kiss on Ben’s lips. “I love you too, forever.”
Tom didn’t know how many other people got as lucky as he did. But he did know he’d spend the rest of his days making sure that Ben was happy.