City of Valleys – 18
Evan’s script gave David no clue what the title ‘Three-Quarter Time’ meant. The plot was a variation on boy meets girl in the face of crisis. They solve the problem and at the same fall in love. The twist was that here, boy meets boy and they fall in love. David liked that it was not profound. He was tired of gay theatre that preached to the converted, exposed homophobia or childhood abuse, and bitched about equality. It was nice to have gay characters who were gay and who got to save the world.
As he read, he pictured himself and Kevin in the lead roles. Two men who discover their love for each other when they least expected it, unaware till a first kiss. He undressed Kevin, Kevin undressed him.
He doodled Kevin’s name along the edge of his sketch pad as he imagined costumes. Kevin Kevin Kevin.
If he nipped over to check how Robert had fared with the new costumes, he might bump into Kevin. Ask him out for supper, a casual “drop in here to uh … fit him for a tailored shirt.” Oh yes, get his tape out and around those shoulders. Or better yet, a nice skin-tight cat-suit for his stage show. That would call for inseam measurements.
David had, what he called, “restless underwear,” as he fantasized about Kevin’s cream-white flesh, those freckles to kiss, those light-haired wrists to stroke. God, why was he tongue-tied when he was near Kevin?
The streets were still active. Remnants of the parade floated around, balloons caught in trees, flags fluttering from balconies, confetti and streamers in the gutter.
When he got to Robert’s b’n’b, Philip was sweeping the sidewalk in front.
“Sweeping away the fairy dust?”
“If it was only dust these fairies left behind.”
“In and out. He went to the Queen’s Park rally which proved to be total fiasco. In the righteous rush, no one remembered they were closed on Sunday. Of course it was closed to spite us.”
“By the way, Kevin McLeod isn’t about is he?”
“Kevin – ” Philip scratched his chin “ – oh 224. Nah. He checked out ages ago. Left his key at the desk and was gone when I got back from the parade.”
“Uhh … You don’t have his phone number do you? He gave it to me at the garden party and I lost it. I’ll be seeing him later this week and promised to confirm.”
“Come on in and I’ll check.”
Philip checked the guest register.
“No address or phone number. He paid with a credit card but – right – he came in when Robert was having a fit, so we skipped all that stuff. Can’t help you.”
“I’m sure he’ll get in touch with me.”
“Maybe you’d like to return this to him?” Philip reached into a basket by the desk. “He left this.”
It was the “Real men eat men” t-shirt.
“No problem. Tell Robert I dropped by and that I hope everything went all right with the new looks.”
“It went well. Big E’s won for best float, though Papa Wiggie’s did get honourable mention and Best Costume nod to Tisu. The Myzix float was stunning.”
“Not the African motif from Fashion Cares? What is the connection between tribal dance and mineral water?”
“It sure made my mouth water.” Philip laughed.
“I suppose.” Kevin did that for him. “I’ll see to it that he gets his t-shirt.”
David sped home. In his apartment, the first thing he did was hold the t-shirt tight to his face for several deep breaths. He buried his nose in the sleeve. It smelled of sweat and little else. No perfume, no soap, only strong underarm man sweat.
He slipped it over a coat hanger. He placed it by the mask of H’matta as the first piece in his shrine to Kevin.
Yves leaned from the computer and rubbed his eyes with his palms. He wanted to write an obituary for Jake that went beyond facts. He had looked through Jake’s files at the hospice and the facts were slim. No family background. A list of symptoms, treatments, doctors’ appointments and notes about his mood.
He deleted what he had written. Was there something in one of the notebooks? Something to wake people up as to how closed off Jake was, and how people were closed off to each other.
He skimmed through them. They were a mix of fragments – some were personal reflections on actual events, others were narrative sketches, poems and a few broken bits of plays. None were dated, and all that separated them was a change in ink.
The Jake Rogers of all these years wasn’t reflected in the notebooks. Until Jake had arrived at the hospice, Yves hadn’t been in contact with him beyond “Hi How are you?” when he went into whatever bar Jake worked at at the time.
“What do you want me to tell them?” He asked the photo of Jake pinned on the wall by his desk.
He went to the study window. The sky was clear. The sun was gone but darkness hadn’t settled in yet. One of these years he had to do something with his yard to match what Luke and Steve had done with theirs.
Their yard was thick with flowering bushes, wild flower patches, a flat stone patio, and a funky little fountain at one side of it. One of these years. Steven sat in one of the lawn chairs by the fountain.
Yves went out to his back stoop.
“Hello yourself. Join me in a drink?”
“Don’t mind if I do.”
He went out his gate and in through Steven’s.
“How’s it going Steven?”
“Swell. Real fucking swell.”
There was an empty wine bottle and beer cans on the patio table. Steven had had more than a couple of drinks.
“Can I fix you something? We have the full range. Wine. Too humid for that. How about a Tom Collins? A Rusty Nail? Help yourself.” Steven waved towards the house. “There’s ice in the fridge.”
Yves returned with a rum and coke.
“How’s the face?”
“I’ll survive.” Steven splashed his drink on himself. “Oh, there I’ve gone and done it. The duchess will be furious. Who needs this on anyway?” He took off his t-shirt. “Ahh that’s better.”
“What’s the occasion?”
“Occasion? Gay fucking pride. Isn’t that reason enough? Gay fucking pride.” He reeled on his feet. “How are you my friend? I saw on the TV that you marched in the parade pushing what’s his name’s scooter. You’re a good man, Yves.”
Drunkenness unsettled Yves when it was this close to him. It reminded him of his Dad who was cold and distant sober, but after a few drinks wanted to be his pal, wanted to make a man of him. A Dad who thought all any boy needed to toughen him up was a punch out with his drunken Dad.
“Better sit before you make more bruises for yourself.” He urged Steven to the lawn chair.
Steven refused to sit. He took off his shorts and stood naked in front of Yves.
“You see this. Big isn’t it? Big is what I got and it’s all all people want when they know it’s there. Those assholes at rehearsal. Drop my pants for the big nude scene and their jaws drop as if they never seen a dick before. Suddenly it’s real love. Fucking Tim is all over me like … a … I don’t know what. Because I got this dick answer to a prayer.” Steven punched his thigh.
“Careful.” Yves wanted to console, but was afraid to touch. He had never seen Steven naked.
“This cock won’t keep Luke alive though, will it? Will it?” Steven fell hard to his knees.
“Let me help you to bed.” Yves tried to get Steven to his feet, but Steven sagged to the patio.
“It’s not fair. Luke works so hard. He’s a good man. He loves me so much.” Steven sobbed.
“Something has happened to Luke?”
“AIDS! He may have fucking AIDS because of those pricks. The stick had been used on someone who was infected and then on Luke.”
“Steven. Trust me, that isn’t a very efficient way for the virus to be transmitted. It dies fast when exposed to the air.”
“An interesting theory, but it will be years before we know for sure, won’t it? Too bad we don’t die as fast.” He groped for his drink.
“Better to leave something for tomorrow.”
“There’s lots where that came from.” Steven staggered. Yves reached out to him. “That’s all right. I’m fine. I can manage.” He started to walk.
Yves got up and with a light touch directed Steven to the house. He followed through the kitchen, up the steps and to the bathroom. Steven stood at the toilet and pissed.
“You do like to watch, don’t you, you naughty little boy.” Steven winked.
Once Steven was safe in bed, Yves put out the lights
“He won’t die will he? What will I do without him?”
“He’ll be all right.”
Home, he got ready for bed. What was it to love like that? Where did the love between Steven and Luke come from?
Kevin’s return wasn’t much of anything. Mitch jumped to his own conclusions, happy that Kevin had gotten some pussy and had brains enough not to pick any of the east coast gals at 10 Pennies so word could get back to his girl at home.
The apartment seemed smaller and duller. Therese was worn and tired from a week-end of housework and booze with Mitch. Sunday was order-out-night to give her a little break. Nothing more was mentioned about his absence while they ate soggy pizza and hard chicken wings. Kevin did sense that they were both pleased he had struck out on his own and a little resentful that they didn’t have the same freedom.
Mitch voiced his opinions about the fairy parade and how it was too bad so few of them had been killed the night before. It was predictable stuff that was pointless for Kevin to contradict. When he came out, Mitch would know better.
Kevin dozed after supper, while Mitch went to the building’s sauna to relax the pinched nerve in his back. He woke to shouts.
“What do you mean, self-defence?” Therese asked. “The super says Mr. Meloski is in his sixties.”
“That slimy cocksucker was asking for it, and I was the guy to give it to him.”
“He’s a grandfather, for Chrissake!”
Kevin went to the front room.
“Fairy Grandmother is more like it.”
“The police are on their way, Mitch.”
“Police! Good. When they hear what that geezer is up to …”
“Up to?” Kevin asked.
“I was relaxing and feeling pretty good too, when this faggot grabs my wiener and I shoved him away from me and then I plowed him.” He shook his right hand.
Kevin sat on the arm of the sofa. His heart pounded. He‚ didn’t enjoy shouting matches, and one about gays added to his anxiety. It had never entered his head that that sort of thing might go on in this very building.
“I thought we were safe from that sort of sick shit out here. I thought this was a safe place to bring up a kid.”
“You’re no kid,” Kevin blurted out.
“I said ‘You’re no kid.’ Why say this guy is after kids?”
“Less than two months in this city and he knows all about queers.” Mitch moved toward him.
“Not half as much as you.” If this was it, Kevin was ready.
“Guys!” Therese restrained Mitch. “We’ve got enough trouble with the police on their way.”
“Watch your fucking mouth cuz or you’ll be on the next plane home,” Mitch muttered.
There was a loud knock on the door.
“Open up. Police.”
Therese opened the door. Behind a male and a female officer stood Mr. Meloski and Bev Grant, the building super. The officers, Tim Salvaro and Denna Hardy, showed their badges. Mitch’s anger cooled in the presence of uniforms.
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