City of Valleys 20



Steven hadn’t found a way to tell Luke about Tim. While Luke had recovered from the assault, Steven didn’t feel his emotional complications would help. The show’s closing was the end of that worry.

“Looking forward to the finish of the run?”

“No more than usual.”

“Don’t lie. You’ll miss this one. Good houses every show. Decent reviews and raves for you.”

“Evan has offered me a role in his next production.”

“What as? Lady Macbeth?”

“No, as the goodly, but conflicted Thane.”

“My my. A bit young stud for that aren’t you?”

“I haven’t taken it. I’m tempted but …”

“But what?”

The “but” was Tim as Banquo. Steven didn’t want to prolong his contact with Tim even with the compensation of his death every night. Tim haunted him enough.

Once he’d returned to rehearsals, he’d kept to himself. With Luke on the mend and his own injuries to heal, it was simple to let the cast believe that was the reason.

Tim accepted the distance, but when they’d begun work on the nude scene, his emotional yen for Steven had returned. Evan saw it as character development and Steven treated it that way, but Tim tried to push it past that with phone calls, invitations to work on their lines outside rehearsal.

Steven made sure that never happened. More than once he told Tim, “We can’t get involved while we’re working. It’s too distracting. After the run we’ll see if there’s anything there.”

Steven found that wine helped him enter his stage character. By the time the nude scene did come up, the emotional business with Tim was forgotten. It was John who was attracted to Gabe every night. 

“But what?”

“Sorry honey. Running lines in my head. What were we talking about?”

“The Scottish play and why you may not take it.”

“Oh, right. Remember that TV pilot I read for last month? They called and I got the part. The shoot starts same week the Scottish play opens.”

“Have you talked it over with Evan?”

“No. I haven’t decided. A series means I could stop waiting tables.”

“If it happens.”

“The lead in MacB is an actor’s dream.” He poured them each another glass of wine. “I have till the end of the month to get back to the TV people. Sure you won’t come? It’s the grand finale.”

“Yes, I’m sure. I am in charge of the cast party.”

“I’ll be glad when this is over to have time to do nothing but you.” 

“That would be a pleasant change.”

“Has baby been neglected?” He squeezed Luke’s inner thigh.

“Do you have time?” Luke squirmed.

“What we start now, we can finish later. Huh?”

“If you aren’t too bushed later.”

“Sorry, I get home by eleven. You get in at one, by which time I’ve fallen asleep.”

“Passed out is more like it.” Luke snapped.

“You asked me not to wait around for you at Lubba’s.”

“I don’t want to fight.”

“Neither do I, but something has been eating at you.”

“You’re so taken up by this play. More than any other since I met you. You get all moody before you leave and when I … shit Steven, I don’t know.”

“I’m sorry. I’ve become one of those self-possessed actors. Remember when I did Joey in ‘The Homecoming’?”

“God, you shadow-boxing all the time drove me crazy.”

“You were afraid I was turning into a psycho-dummy.”

“But you aren’t psycho in this show. Why are you moody here?”

“Let’s get out of town for awhile, after this closes. The Falls? New York? The two of us away from all this.” He held Luke. “We need a vacation. What do you think?”

“You might be on to something.”

Steven kissed him, grateful he had a vacation as an acceptable diversion from the truth. 


David toyed with the foam on his latté. He plunked the cup on the saucer and his spoon flipped to the floor.

“What’s with you?” Mark asked.

“Too much caffeine.”

“And not enough Evan?”

Evan, impressed with David’s initial designs, was more impressed with how amenable David had been to changing them. Evan’s notions weren’t too far from his own so compromise was pleasant. So pleasant that they had ended up in bed after their second costume conference. 

Of all the elements in the show, the one that never elicited a comment was the costumes. They fit and didn’t call attention to themselves, which to David was how he and Evan fit, comfortable, with no excitement.

“Any news on the Basher Boys?”

“You know this court system. Arraignment, postponement, postponement, arguments, more postponements. Thank God the evidence is solid.”

“Is it?”

“My sources tell me forensic evidence connects the club they used to at least three other attacks. Of course, they did have the wallet of the guy they had killed that night. Stuff from other robberies was stashed in one of their apartments. Tight as drum, but they’ll get off.”


“Poor misused heterosexual white boys acting out under the influence of drugs and the stress of having homosexual eyes on them. They weren’t at fault. The culture is.” David said.

“Sounds like we’re guilty and they’re innocent.”

“The leader claimed that his guilt after killing the first gay guy was so much that he was sick with himself for it and, get this, that made him more pissed off with gays so he had to get even.”

David had been on his way home from work when he ran into Mark at Tencity. He was tempted to say “Lighten up, girl friend,” but didn’t want to set Mark off on some gender tangent.

“How’s your case?”

“I got a lot of work ahead of me; until the criminal charges are dealt with, I can’t proceed with a civil case.”

“That could take years.”

“Don’t remind me. But enough about that crap. Anything beside Evan happening in your life? I see Index has opened in your old location.”

“Rainbow is more relaxed than Bookies or Index.”

The first week at Rainbow Books he hoped to see Kevin stand at the spot in front of the bulletin board where he had first seen him. But Kevin had disappeared.

After two weeks, he put Kevin’s t-shirt into a dry cleaner bag and hung it in his closet. The sight of it every morning made it impossible for him to forget and he’d have to forget. Nights with Evan helped with that, though Evan was for the time being, not for time everlasting.

H’matta hung alone again. Then when Kevin surfaced at Big E’s, the t-shirt came out of the closet. David started to burn incense in front of H’matta for his/her energy to do what David was incapable of: attract Kevin to him.

“You did good work for Evan. I mean the clothes. Very tasteful, a mere hint of other world.”

“You expected a cast of Miss Ings up there?”

“In a Thicket production, that would have fit.”

“Thanks. Clean and subtle is much harder.”

“I gotta run. I’m supposed to be at Yves’ in ten minutes.” Mark grabbed his briefcase. “Mustn’flt be too late.”


When Mark Winslow had called to set up an appointment, Yves expected he was on the prowl to finance his suit against the city, the police and the world.  

“Sorry I’m late. The traffic was bad. Nice place.” 


“Feels like a home.” He looked at the carving. “A station of the cross. The sixth or eighth?”

Yves was uncomfortable. He rarely talked about the religion behind the piece. It was easier to let others reflect on the sensual figures. Horny was much easier to share than spiritual.

“Fifth. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross.”

“If I remember, he didn’t volunteer did he.”

“No he didn’t.”

“That why you picked this one?”

“Actually it picked me.”

“Like what happened to Simon.”

“Exactly. Like I didn’t pick to be queer, God picked me to be queer. Simon didn’t ask to help, he was picked by God to help.”

“Simon helped without question?”

“He did need to be encouraged.”

“Don’t we all. Don’t we all.”

“Can I get you something? A coffee or …”

“No thanks. Let’s get down to business.” Mark opened his briefcase. “Were you close to Jake?”

“As close as anyone. He kept pretty much to himself.”

“While I was at the hospice, he had me draw up a will. It’s pretty simple and there is an insurance policy.”

“Insurance? I thought he sold those benefits.”

“He did sell one but had another. The unsold policy was one his family had purchased when he was a child. You are the named as the sole beneficiary of Mitchell Winter Robson.”


“You’ll get $15,000.”

Yves took a deep breath.

“Mitchell Winter Robson was Jake’s real name. The will doesn’t leave much. I am to give you this safety deposit box key. He asked that you deliver the contents to his family.”

“His family?”

“I got the impression that all you need to know is in that box.” Mark put the key on the coffee table. “I’ll do the paper work for the insurance company.”


“I should have done this sooner, but to be honest I forgot. Pride Weekend, and then I was out of town for the summer.”

“Anything else?”

“Not unless you have any questions.”

“Maybe once I use the key.” Yves shrugged.

Once Mark had left, Yves picked up the key. It was ice in the palm of his hand and he dropped it.


Steven liked to be the first to arrive at the theater, to sit alone with the space, with its mixture of make-up and disinfectant. As the day passed from his thoughts he settled into character.

He sat front row centre and breathed deep to relaxed his muscles from head to toe. He breathed in the energy of the space, of this show, of the shows he had done before, of shows that he had seen, the energy of all shows everywhere. 

“Leave some air for the other actors,” Monica joked. This had become a ritual remark and if she didn’t say it he did.

“Yes, Mistress Manager.”

After she got the coffee and tea urns filled and plugged in, Monica busied herself with the props. Steven lay on stage and did some stretches and voice warm-ups.

“I left the Act Two flowers backstage.” he called out.

“Got them,” she called. “You see where Tim put his clothes from Act One?”

“Don’t you take them off at intermission?”

“Usually.” She came out of the dressing room. “But they weren’t there last night. Does stuff like that bug you?”

“Like what?”

“Like actors who don’t look after their costumes.”

“Never noticed,” Steven laughed. “By the time we get to that point, I don’t see that as part of Tim but of Garth.”

Over the next hour, the cast arrived. Some ran through lines to keep them in place. Every performance was another chance to get it right.

Steven and Tim’s first entrance was from the opposite side of the stage and their waiting area was separate from the rest of the cast. It had become called the Holding Pen. 

Because of the layout of the theatre, he and Tim had to be in the Holding Pen when the house opened unless they wanted to dash there in the blackout before curtain. Steven preferred the Pen wait to the dash as it spared him cast chatter and gossip.

He could smell the coffee and helped himself to half a cup. A full cup resulted in distracting piss urges before intermission.

“How is everyone?” Evan burst into the theater with David Walters in tow. “Everyone center stage, please.”

David carried a bouquet of pink roses which Evan proceeded to bestow, one-by-one, to the cast with a kiss on the forehead. “These aren’t in lieu of money, though if any of you would like to settle out of court, my lawyer would appreciate it.” He had one rose left. “Who did I miss? Everyone here Monica?”

“All except Tim. Not like him to be late.”

“Better late than not at all,” one of the cast remarked.

“Five minutes to house open,” Monica announced. “Twenty to curtain.”

The performers scurried into the dressing room. 

“Last show. How does it feel?” David followed Steven.

“Terrific show. A great run.”

“Anything need mending?” David glanced over the costumes. “Nothing? See you at the party later.”

“Opening the house now.”

“Tim isn’t here!” one of the cast whispered.

“Can’t keep a full house waiting.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees  sweet,eh? 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.