The doctor didn’t mince words.

HIV positive.


Not yet, but probably in your future.

Can’t be. I’m not gay.

Straights get AIDS too.

But I always use a condom.

Condoms are not 100 percent safe.

I thought they were the best protection?

The best protection is no sex at all.

What does this mean?

It means you are now in the highest risk group to be infected with the AIDS virus.

But I don’t have it yet?

Not yet.

He left the doctor’s office and sat in his car, quaking from the tears. AIDS. Well, not yet, but soon. AIDS means dying.

After the tears, anger. Which little bitch was it. The blonde he met in Seattle last month? The brunette in Fairfax? It had to be one of them. It couldn’t be Sally. She didn’t sleep around on him. That’s why they never used a condom. No need.

The doc told him to call his “sexual contacts” (nice way to put it) and advise them to get tested. He’d call them all right. One of them gave him the bug.

He headed home. Called Seattle. Got the recorder. Call right away. It’s important.

Fairfax was home. We may have a problem. Get tested.

You bastard! If you gave me AIDS I’ll kill you. He didn’t expect that.

Listen honey, you may have given it to me.

Go to hell. I’m clean. At least I was before I met you.

Fairfax called back. Same reaction. You bastard.

He didn’t call Sally. If Sally had AIDS, she caught it from him. He was sure of that.
Seattle called the next day. She wasn’t happy.

Over the next 10 days, he waited for the call backs. Which one, he wondered, infected him.

Seattle called. The tests came back negative. Of course, it could show up later, but if that happened it meant she got it from him. Do me a favor, she said. Stay the hell away from me.

Fairfax called the next day. Negative. Same result. Same message. Don’t call me again.

My God, could it be Sally? No way. She’s been faithful for the last five years. She bragged about it. You’re the only one, she always said. The first one and the only one.

Dinner. Quiet corner.

Honey, we have a problem.

What’s that?

I’m HIV positive.


Not yet.

Oh my God!

Honey, you need to get tested. Who knows, I may have caught this before I met you and it’s just now showing up. That happens. But we need to know if you’re all right.

Another week of waiting. He called. No answer. He went by her house. No one at home. Another week. No calls. Finally a letter.

This is difficult to write, it said, but I gave you HIV. I’ve known about it for some time. I lied. You weren’t the first. You weren’t the only. There were others. There have always been others. You slept around on me. I slept around on you. I’m sorry.

He tore up the letter. That bitch. She lied to him. She slept around on him. She knew she was infected. She said nothing.

That was a year ago.

He never talked to Sally again.

She didn’t call.

She didn’t come back.

She wasn’t there this week when he died.

–Doug Thompson
Washington, DC