City of Valleys 19 



“This gentleman says you assaulted him earlier this evening.” The male officer entered.

“That’s right,” Mitch replied proudly.

“You have a right to -”

“Hey! Aren’t you going to hear my side -”

“Down at the station,” the female officer answered.

“You have a right to – ”

“This fuckin’ fruit grabs my pecker and I shoved him away. Since when is the victim arrested?”

Officer Hardy stopped him. “Be that as it may.”

“Could we sort this out inside.” Bev suggested. 

Other tenants peeked out of their apartment doors. 

“It sounds like a misunderstanding.” She ushered Mr. Meloski into the apartment ahead of her and shut the door. “Peace officers should make peace right?”

“Okay, let’s hear both sides. We don’t want any trouble do we?” Salvaro looked at Mitch.

“All I wanted was to stretch out in the sauna. I got this here pinched nerve and the heat helps. I go down three or four times a month. Right, Therese, hon?” 

“That’s right officer.”

“There’s usually no one there around supper time and I can relax without anyone bothering me.”

“Have you been bothered there before?” Officer Hardy asked.

“No, but I’ve heard stories.”

“From who?” Bev asked.

“In the elevator. I heard some guys talking about stuff happening when they were there.”

“What guys?”

“Who knows? One got off on the fourth floor, the other on the tenth.”

“Nice attention to detail.” Hardy snorted with disbelief.

“You are telling me Mr. Meloski sexually assaulted you?”

“He tried. Yeah. He put his hands on my … privates, and I shoved him away.”

“Were you awake at the time?” Salvaro asked.

“What does that have to do with it? Makes it worse in fact. Coming on to me in my sleep, the sicko.”

All this time Mr. Meloski wiped his glasses and rubbed his left cheek. The eye above puffed up into a fair shiner.

“Tell us your side, Mr. Meloski.” Office Hardy asked.

The man glanced at Bev for support. “My arthur-itis was bad so I went down to the sauna. The heat helps.”

“In your knees is it? You old fuckin’ fruit.” Mitch laughed.

“Anyway, I put my glasses in my pocket as they are no use in there. It’s so dim I couldn’t see. I said ‘Is there anyone there?’ and there was no reply, so I reached out to the bench and someone was there. My hand only touched him a moment and he hit me. I fell. As I got up he hit me again. When I came to, he was gone, but left his pass key. That’s how we knew who it was.”

Mitch’s jaw dropped. Therese doubled with laughter.

“I saw – ”

Hardy handed Mitch the glasses. They were the proverbial coke bottles. “You should be wearing these.”

“A simple misunderstanding. You both jumped to the wrong conclusions at the same time. How are you Mr. Meloski?”

“Fine. The missus is some worried though.”

“Miss Grant will take you to your place. We’ll deal with things here.”

After Bev and Mr. Meloski left, the officers started to go.

“What? That’s it? That fucking faggot came on to me and gets sent on his way? I’ll press charges now. What do I have to sign? You let them goddamned fairies get away with it once and there’s no stoppin’em.” 

Salvaro put his hand on Mitch’s shoulder. “Let go of it. That guy could sue your ass off for what you did. With no witnesses, you’d be fried.”

“But he – ”

“Trust me. It’s not worth it. Next time take a witness.” Salvaro nodded at Kevin.

When he nodded, his eyes meet Kevin’s, and for the first time Salvaro smiled. A smile that curled Kevin’s toes.

Once they left, Mitch downed several fast beers. 

“Goddamn this city! The cops are on the fuckin’ faggots’ side. I should have pounded that queer when I had the chance. Really taught him a fucking lesson.”

“And you going prison would teach him what? You know what happens in prisons. You’d be doin’ to some guy what you thought that old geezer wanted to do.”

“Yeah, yer right. You can’t teach ‘em anything. They think the world owes them. You got a good head on you, Kev, me son.”

“A head that wants hit the sack.”

“Yeah, screwing your dick off all week-end, you need rest. Bring me ‘nother beer before you go.”

Kevin got him the beer. In bed he mulled over Mitch’s anger at those “fuckin’ queers.” There’d never be a right moment to tell Mitch his prize boy was one of those slimy cocksuckers. 

The events of the past two days replayed he drifted to sleep. Mark, David, Paul, Miss Ing Thing, Big E’s were far removed from what he had to face to get there. Shit! Did he leave his number if they wanted to get hold of him to perform?

Who were those guys on the fourth and tenth floors? Were there gays out here? Could he run into them if he went to the sauna? 

Maybe he’d run into Officer Salvaro. That smile. Yeah, let Mitch catch him with Officer Salvaro. That’d shock the shit right out of him. 

Salvaro’s smile warmed his whole body as he fell asleep.



“The prodigal returns. Your room awaits.”

Kevin took the key from Philip and bounded to 224. Over the past months, his weekend getaways were an accepted routine in Mitch’s household thanks to Mitch’s notion that he had an uptown girlfriend. 

While he opened his back pack, Paul came into the room.

“Coveralls! Kevin! A trés butch touch.”

“Don’t you love the smell of crank shaft oil?” 

Paul pushed his hands into Kevin’s coveralls.

Mitch and Therese had been asleep when he left for work. Seven a.m. was not an hour either of them enjoyed on the weekend.

Like an adult, he got himself up, made his own breakfast and packed a lunch. Money had mounted in his bank account and he had close to enough for his own place.

“I love the smell of your crank shaft. This is so porn.”

“Porn?” Kevin’s coveralls fell around his ankles.

“You, the blue collar garage mechanic.” Paul unlaced Kevin’s work boots and nuzzled his cock at the same time.

Kevin had started work at National Home and Auto the week after Gay Pride. He’d gone in on Monday for a skills test, and was hired the next day. 

“Me, the tattooed love toy. How would Boss Ben react to this?”

The shop foreman, Ben Jackson, was an east-coaster who had been with National for thirty years. He had started at Kevin’s age and a mentor friendship had sprung up between them.

“Probably the same way Miz S.S. would.” Kevin giggled.

Miz S.S., Sheila Sibley, was manager of National. Called Miss Sibley to her face and Miz S.S. behind her back. She had come to the store three years ago with a fresh MBB, worked in personnel a year, moved to assistant-manager, and then climbed to the top of that heap. She tried to motivate her staff with confidence to be the best sales people possible. 

“She posted a new slogan this week, ‘Screws need screw drivers,’ and someone wrote ‘All I need is a good screw’ on it.” Kevin stopped as Paul tongued his balls.

“How was that company picnic?”

“As warned. Another pep rally. Guess what? National offers the full range of benefits for families, and their definition of family includes same-sex.”

“Cool. When will that kick in?” Paul undressed.

“My review is coming up. If they like me I’m inked.”


“Yeah, on the benefits payroll.”  

Kevin had spent time with Paul, but Paul, devoted to Robert, was not long-term material. What was Paul? Friend, encourager, fuck-buddy and someone who didn’t make demands. He felt lucky to have someone who didn’t use him only for his own pleasure.

“And Reverend Mitch still get to his Sunday service?”

After the incident in the sauna, Mitch had discovered a religion that allowed him to booze it up and still dish verbal abuse to Therese, and held services Sunday afternoons on TV.

“He wouldn’t miss it. Not that I’m there Sundays. I’ll have to head back early tomorrow. Therese’s birthday. I gotta to pick her up something. I saw a great futon for my own place this morning.” 

He had left earlier than usual that morning to enjoy the walk. A warm sun followed him as he window-shopped his way to work. It was fun to plan for his apartment. Mitch wanted him to get a place in their complex, but Kevin wanted something quite separate. He didn’t want Mitch dropping down two floors to watch his TV and drink his beer.

“You won’t be performing at Big E’s tomorrow?”

“Afraid not.”

Kevin performed at Big E’s Sunday afternoons and had built a following which proved to Robert that fags wanted more than Johnny Mathis or Cher.

“I need a real band. I’m tired of Karaoke.”

“Don’t tell me you’re getting tired of this?” Paul’s cock brushed Kevin’s mouth.

“Not in a hundred years.” Kevin teased the head with his tongue.

The city had taken over Kevin’s life and given it a shape. He kept his conversations with his folks light and about the weather. His calls to Deb were another matter. She was urgent in her need for him. She wept and begged him to send for her.

His talks with Shep were more painful because the life he wanted wasn’t out of the question, but not with Shep. He told Shep about his work at National and about his singing, but avoided mentioning where he performed. Bad enough if Mitch learned he was queer. It would be worse if Shep was told.

“You got the tickets?”

Robert had given them tickets to the last performance of Three-Quarter Time. 


“Great. I’ve been looking forward to it.” Kevin put his hands on Paul’s butt.

More than the play, he anticipated the cast party. Now that he was used to city life, he had to meet the right man. Tonight he would hunt in earnest.


Steven read the Squint review again:

‘Evan Daniels mistakes inconsistency for unpredictability. I spent nine-tenths of my time perplexed by what this pointless mess meant. The fact that most gay men lead lives of aimless unfulfilled pathos should comes as no surprise, but that anyone would bother expressing that on stage should expect it to be entertaining does come as a surprise.

‘Evan has thrown together a tired hodgepodge of derivative scenes that add up to the same old story: Woe is queer me. Worse yet, he demonstrates once again how sex-driven gay men are. In even the direst circumstance, the two leads find an opportunity to get naked. The exploitive nudity and explicit sexuality that close the first act is handled with a sensual tenderness that I didn’t think Daniels had in him. Too bad he didn’t show this side of him anywhere else in this tedious production.

‘The performances give the self-indulgent text more weight than it deserves. Steven Thomas is captivating and fresh in an otherwise stale character. Timothy McGuinn had some good moments, but is allowed to equate wide-eyed blankness with acting. The rest of the cast are energetic to the point of frenetic.

‘Performed on the ugliest set I have seen since the last Thicket production, I tremble at what will happen with their threatened production of the Scottish play.’

Steven poured another glass of wine. When the review came out, he was dismayed and disappointed. The fact that Squint was not considered of consequence didn’t take away the sting of the review.

Evan wasn’t surprised or stressed by it. Frank Donaldson, the reviewer, had been harsh on previous Thicket productions. Evan said that if Frank had liked the show, he had done something wrong. Other reviews had been positive, no raves but no pans either.

“Why do you keep reading that awful review?” Luke asked.

“To get my creative juices going.”

“And the wine?”

“To calm me down.”

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 City of Valleys – 18 

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.” 

“Robert around?”

“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, neighbour.” 

“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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City of Valleys – 17 

City of Valleys – 17



Steven sat in an armchair, while one officer took notes opposite him; the other paced and asked questions. He had arrived at the hospital to see Luke. The officers were in Luke’s room to question him. Steven was taken to a nearby waiting room.

“I told you everything last night.”

“Recollections change. Things get remembered that are missed in the heat of the moment. Little things.”

“I suppose.”

“If we’re going to nail these perpetrators, we have to have everything as clear as we can get it.”

“I understand.”

“So the three of you were behind the community centre …”

“There was two of us. Yves showed up after the attack.”

“He wasn’t with you?”


“But you are neighbours? Right?”

“Yes. But he wasn’t with us. I didn’t know he was there till he showed up.”

“Good. Now you and your friend – ” the officer opened a note pad, “Luke Kwan – were in your car when the attack happened.”

“No. We were walking to the car.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yes. Luke hadn’t taken the car keys out. We were three or four cars away from our car.”

“Good. Go on.”

“We were talking, when these guys jumped on us.”

“All three at once?”

Steven paused. “No – one guy stepped out and called us faggots. The others were just behind him. He had a stick in his hand.”

“Stick?” The officers exchanged a look.

“Yes. He was, like, hitting it on the palm of his hand and then nodded to the other two and they jumped us.” Steven mimed the action.

“They came out from where?”

“Uh … between some houses.”

“Do you usually park in such a dangerous place?”

“Dangerous? It’s right by the Community Centre. But yes, we use it whenever we can. Close to the restaurant and free.”

“Now, you’re sure you didn’t say or do anything to antagonize these men? Come on to them sexually?”

“No! We were just talking.”

“About what? Do you remember?”

Steven thought again. “We were talking about the play I’m in. About how it was going.”

“Anything sexual in that?”

“What do mean?”

“Something someone might overhear that they could believe was directed at them?”


“All right. Now when these guys appeared, did you engage them in any sort of conversation?”

“They were on us before anything could be said.”

“Now this stick. Was it used on you?”

“I’m not sure. Things went pretty fast. Luke got hit with it.”

“Did you see that?”

“Only heard.”

“Do you have any martial arts training?”

“Me! No. Some stage fight workshops. Nothing … real.”

“You handled those guys all right.”

“Yeah. Right.” Steven gestured to his face. “You wanna see my ribs?” He lifted his T-shirt. “We were losing when Yves showed up.”

“It could have been worse.”

“As I said I have studied fight choreography.”

“Fight choreography?”

“For stage combat. You see it in movies all the time. Stunt guys throw punches that never connect. You learn how to move with the punch, to roll with it and not to resist. What I learned there took over here.”

“Now this stick. One of them had it when they attacked?”


“He didn’t just pick it up from the ground.”

“When he stepped out at us, he had it ready for action.”

“Fine. That’s all we need to know, for now. Thanks for being so patient, but we may have more questions later.”

“I can see my partner?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Steven said partner on purpose. ‘Your friend,’ indeed. 

Luke was at the window. Steven hugged him from behind.

“Oh baby, I miss you.”

“Same here.” Luke kissed him. “How you feeling?” 

“Better, but I’m beginning to get a temperature. You are too.” He gave Luke’s crotch a playful squeeze.

“You are felling better.” Luke sat on the bed. “What were the boys in blue after?”

“More questions. Were they sailors on leave? Who had the stick? Did you offer them blow jobs?”

“Same stuff with me. Did you incite them to a sexual frenzy? As if we had something we had done to start it.”

“I know. Did the doctor tell you anything?”

“If my head hasn’t exploded with an undetected blood clot I should be out tomorrow. Tuesday at the latest.”

“How long will you be wearing the turban?”

Luke’s head was wrapped in gauze to hold his stitches in place. His head had been shaved.

“As long as they don’t have to open me again, another day.”


“Yeah. They had to take splinters from the stick out of my skull. If they didn’t get all of them, they may have to go in again. Wood can lead to infection.”

“My bald love toy.”

“Did you hear about the other guys who were attacked last night? One of them had AIDS. Full-blown. The stick they used on him is the same one they used on me.”


“I might have been infected.”


Kevin had never been in such a crowd. People were three and four thick on both sides of Yonge street. He clambered on top of a newspaper box. The sidewalk was packed in either direction.

As each float or group appeared, the crowd clapped and cheered. He was amazed by the range of groups. Gay and Lesbian Catholics, Homos in the Civil Service, Gay Police, a gay chess club. The guy he ran into last night with David guided an empty electric scooter decked out in palm trees and snakes. The owner of the scooter had died that morning. Soon after it, a group twirled batons and short poles with flags on them. 

A float for a beauty salon had pulled people up from the parade route to give them make-overs. One float, for Myzix, lined with black men and women in skimpy silver trunks, slowed to a stop in front of him. The sun played across the oiled and sparkled skin of the muscular blacks. Kevin wanted to jump on to the float and roll around with them. He had no idea what Myzix was.

After it the Big E’s float was a disappointment. Miss Ing wore a bizarre gown with a huge collar. She perched on a throne to give her royal wave, while guys tossed coupons and confetti to the crowd. The coupons offered two-for-one drinks any Sunday afternoon till September. Along the sides of the float flapped posters that couldn’t stay unfolded in the breeze.

As the parade drew to a close, people on the sidewalk joined it. Kevin was tempted, but it was the time he headed home.

His head ached as he packed at the Inn. He dropped the “Real men eat men” t-shirt on the bed. There was no way he could smuggle it home. He left his key at the front desk.

He went to the nearest subway station that avoided the crowds. It was cool and deserted. The train rumbled in. He got on with one last look.

The ride was a too fast blur back to where he had started. As he walked to the apartment complex, he was soaked with sweat from the oppressive heat. With each step, the thick air made it harder for him to breathe. He sat on a bench in front the buildings.

“Oh God,” he prayed. “Let me face what I have to face.”

He push himself into a quick and direct walk to his building. The air conditioning was out of service again. That alone would put Mitch in a bad frame of mind. In the hall, the air was worse, with the added benefit of boiled cabbage. 


By the end of the parade, Yves’ calves ached from starts and stops. A thirty minute walk took close to three hours. He rolled Trigger to the hospice and stripped it of the Fantasy Island drag. It was ready for its next owner.

“How did it go?” Nancy came out to ask him.

“Good. Lots of people remembered him.”

“He’d like that.”

“I’ll see to the memorial service.”

“That’s been done.”

“Oh! Who?”

“The manager at Big E’s called to say that they would do all that. Fitting, after all the years Jake worked in bars.”

“I suppose you’re right.” Yves figured this was Robert Ing’s work, but now that he had his chance, he didn’t care what anyone else wanted to do.

“His room has been cleared out and the body’ll go to the city morgue in the morning.”

“Business as usual.”

“You can’t stop the river with your hands.”


“There are some things of Jake’s you missed.” She went inside and came out with four books. “I think they are his journals.”


Jake had never mentioned journals to Yves. He flipped the first open to the middle and began to read. The handwriting was Jake’s.


It fell as if it wouldn’t stop. Swirls of thick flakes shoving each other out of the way in a rush to the earth. Not pretty swirls in the wind, just pell mell down, almost forming snowballs as they fell over one another in the race to the ground.

‘Tis the season,’ he muttered out the window into his back yard. He was wondering if it would be worth refilling the bird feeder.

The phone rang and he let it, hypnotized by the endless and almost impenetrable fall of snow. The ringing stopped.

The haze of snow blurred the more he watched. He could almost make out individual flakes but none remained long enough for him to focus. He went to the back door, opened it to get a clear look, a look without glass, or the reflection of his face between him and the snow. 

He stood watching with the door open. Straining his ears he could hear the flakes as they landed with a light hiss. He could smell the freshness that snow brought with it. Cold, clean.

He looked up directly over head and was dizzied by the endless flakes of snow. Some melting on his face, his eyes, his open mouth. The snow had no taste.

He stepped into the snow, feeling it fall on his naked body, melting on his shoulders, chest, pubic hair. The cold on his feet made him jump back into the house.

‘Coward,’ he muttered, ‘the touch of snow is no colder than the touch of no one.’

He pushed the door firmly closed. He was closing out not only the cold of snow and but the life of it. He drew the blinds to keep his eyes from the icy invitation.

His feet tingled from that fuzzy carpet of ice. The phone began to ring. This time he answered it knowing that if he didn’t his next step would be out the back door. Not to return again.’

Yves was stunned. The volumes were full of short pieces and poems. Undated, the books were numbered 1, 2, 6, 9. Where were the others?

On the subway home he read “Snow” again and again. Why were we such strangers to each other? Why do we hide ourselves even into death?

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City of Valleys -13 



Yves knelt in front of his mantel, crossed himself, and stared into the face of Christ. “Thank you Saviour for allowing me to share your burden tonight.”

He gave thanks every night before bed, but rarely did he look into the eyes of Christ. Those eyes led to the soul of God and were only for important moments.

He nursed his hand. It ached from the blow he had given one of the bashers. It was odd that hands which did so much to heal also did violence. Was this how Christ suffered after He cast out the money-lenders?

He was energized from the fight. He replayed his run across the street to help and his surprise that it was his neighbours, Steven and Luke, under attack. 

A police foot patrol had arrived almost as soon as he had made his call. They were followed by cruisers and ambulances. Extra cars were in the neighbourhood in case of trouble this time of year.

He answered their questions and was pleased there had been no cracks about his kilt. Luke was in serious condition. Steven was more in shock than physically injured.

He unlaced his boots and slumped in front of the TV. Rapid eye stimulation to help him to sleep. He tuned in TOTV, the local 24-hour news show, to see the weather for tomorrow’s parade. His doze was interrupted.

“The eve of Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade in Toronto has been marred by the brutal beating death of one man. We take you live to Valerie Munata.”

Valerie filled the screen. The camera moved back, and behind her were the police at the spot he had left moments ago.

“Valerie Munata here. Police are at the scene of another brutal attack on gay men. Three men … ”

Photos of them came on the screen.

“ … who attacked and brutally beat to death one young man were stopped by a passer-by from doing the same to another. Officer Dougal, what can you tell us about this?”

She pushed her microphone at one of the officers.

“One man, who had escaped, was caught nearby. Evidence links this attack to at least one and possibly two earlier this evening. In one of those, the victim was found dead.”

“Is there any connection between this attack and a string of recent attacks on gay men in this area?”

“I can’t comment on that. Now if you’ll excuse me.”

“Thank you Officer Dougal.” Valerie faced the camera. “Over the past years the Gay Pride Parade has grown into a week-long festival that brings millions of dollars into the city.”

While Valerie continued with the commercial benefits of the gay community, footage of past parades was shown. Shots of drag queens and leather men that enraged Yves.

He was sick and tired of these same stereotypes on TV whenever queers were mentioned. In his documentary “On Coming Out,” he had showed average, ordinary types. He was frustrated that gays were always linked either with bad drag or HIV.

“Merde!” he shouted at the TV. “We have lives!”

In his bedroom, he caught his reflection in the mirror. Who am I to bitch in this kilt? He didn’t plan to go to Pride Day in a suit and tie in order to change the image he hated.


When Steven left the hospital he was relieved that Luke was all right. Luke had a severe gash that required more than a couple of stitches. He would be there for a few days’ observation.

Steven was grateful that he didn’t have to contact Luke’s folks with bad news. They knew he and Steven were lovers, but they held on to the dream of their son settled down with a Korean girl.

It was near four in the morning when he got home. After a glass of wine he showered the blood off his body. He rinsed his mouth several times. His ribs ached and a bruise had formed along his right side. X-rays had shown nothing broken. He flexed his hands in the hot water. 

He’d never hit anyone that hard before and it hurt. He had never expected his stage combat classes would prove useful in a real life situation.

He dried himself, called Tony, the weekend manager, and left a message about what had happened and not to worry. He ended, “Don’t call till after 10. I’m going to take a couple of sleeping pills. Thanks. Bye.”

He washed the pills down with the last of the wine and lay on the bed. As he drifted off, he heard Luke sing: “The way you look tonight.”


Kevin bolted upright. Where was he? His dream, in which Mitch discovered gay porn in his back pack, was so vivid his heart pounded.

He followed the swirls of painted stars as he recollected the day before. It was a flip book of vacation pictures with no time to dwell on any one. The final shot was of Paul on the bed as he stepped out of the shower.

Paul had stayed for half an hour after they had had sex. They cuddled and talked. Kevin didn’t feel he had been used the way he had been used in the afternoon. 

There was a note from Paul on the side table. “Drop by Lubba’s for lunch. Have a great Pride day. Paul.”

Kevin didn’t know what time anything started. How soon was too soon? The breakfast part of the bed and breakfast was downstairs. He put on his t-shirt from last night and his jeans. He laid his damp cut-offs in the sun at his window.

He went down to the kitchen.

“Good morning, 224. Here for your delectation we have an array of breads, buns, bagels, jams, fresh fruit, cereal.” Philip presented each item. “And fresh perked Colombian, direct from the buttocks of Don Juan.”

“If only,” one of the guests replied.

“Two-two-four meet one-eleven.” 


Kevin wasn’t sure, did one toast a croissant, butter a bagel on top or on the bottom? He settled for toast, spread thick with blueberry jam. He followed that with cereal, an apple, a peach and more toast.

“Getting your money’s worth, I see.” one-eleven remarked.

Kevin blushed, left his toast, and went back to his room. So much to figure out. So much to figure out.


When the phone rang for the third time in ten minutes Yves figured it was Jake. He picked it up in mid-ring.

“I’m glad I caught you before you left Yves.”

“Good morning to you too, Nancy.”

“Jake passed away around three this morning.” 

The phone almost slid out of his hand. 

“I thought you should know.” After a minute of silence she asked, “Are you all right Yves?”

“T’anks for calling Nancy. Dere’s no rush for his room”

“There’s always another on the waiting list, but we can hold off a few days. Bye.”


He knelt before his altar. His head dropped and tears fell into his open hands. He rubbed his tears into his palms and the backs of his hands. 

He stood and went to the kitchen, plugged in the kettle. Once it had come to a boil, he poured the water into the tea pot. He watched the pot fill, overflow; watched the water run across the counter, onto the floor; watched till the kettle was empty.

His mother had taught him to make something immediate to do when he couldn’t think of what to do. If he let this grief sit on him, he’d become immobile. Now he’d have to clean up this mess.

After he mopped up, he sat on his back steps. The yard was small but it was his yard. Nothing much grew beside hollyhocks and mystery wild flowers. In another month they would flower. He saw once more how a little deck would be nice out here when he got around to it.

Why bother with this pride bullshit? People kill us in the streets and there’s nothing we can do about it. Nothing. Why not go back to bed and sleep through the day?

Sleep away the endless death of people he loved, or who he could love, but they would die before he had that chance. Sleep away the people who claimed HIV was God’s punishment, that gays deserved to be beaten to death for being useless and dirty, for being abominations.

He’d fought this battle too long, and when he got ahead things got worse behind his back, behind all their backs. Sleep, more sleep, would fix that.

As he plodded upstairs the phone rang. It was Nancy again. For half a second he hoped she had made a mistake.

“Yves, what will we do with Trigger?”


“Trigger is all set for the parade.”

“I’ll take it.” He’d show them.

“It’s a shame he couldn’t hold on.”

“I know, Nancy. I know.” It’s a shame he had to die at all. 


Naked, David sat on his couch. About forty minutes earlier, he had seen the news report of the Anti-Gay Attacks last night. The news channel had a rainbow graphic to go with the title.

TV coverage of the celebration had grown as Pride Day had grown from a day to a week-long event capped by the parade. Increased coverage meant increased acceptance. As long as the news stuck to the life-style and not the sex itself, it was suitable for the general public.

Now the city had its own gay tragedy entertainment. Murder and rescue, all one needed for a great movie of the week. No affection between men would be shown, only the violence.

The Attack coverage sapped his want to be out and proud. Street corner interviews with people in the “city’s gay ghetto” asked them the same question, “How do you feel about the killings?” As if there were surprise answers. As if someone would say, “Oh, girl-friend, that bitch deserved to die.”

Yet, despite his numbness, he waited for the next update. A news conference was promised. Till then more interviews, where someone said, “How chilling … How shocked … How scared this made them feel.”  

“Anti-Gay Attack” came on the screen in its rainbow flag letters.

“This is Valerie Munata, with the latest details on the brutal beatings that have marred this year’s Gay Pride Celebrations. In three separate incidents last night, a gang hunted down gay men.

“The first man, Mr. Jason Kelly, managed to escape. He alerted the police. We spoke to Mr. Kelly earlier this morning.”

Jason stood at his apartment door. The hall wallpaper was familiar. Jason, in his fifties, wore a dark blue bathrobe. He held a little black and white dog. It was apparent neither had expected to be interviewed.

“I was out walking Dancer when they came at me. At first I didn’t think anything of it. Lots of people stop to talk to me when I walk Dancer. One of them had a stick in his hand and was swinging it at me.

“Dancer jumped right at him and saved me. I blocked the stick with my arm …”

He slid the right sleeve of his bathrobe back to show a bruise along his forearm.

“I grabbed Dancer and we took off, with them right after us. I went into the first store I came to and called the police right away. When I saw them on the TV, I recognized them.”

“Thank you Mr Kelly. We now take you to the news conference just starting.”

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Picture Perfect 131

Picture Perfect 131

The shower stopped.

Dan gasped. Was he hearing things in the silent house? He stood at the foot of the stairs listening intently. There was no sound other than traffic noise from the street outside. A car starting. 

He went up the stairs slowly lest his footsteps made the steps creak. At the top he peered into the dark. He took a deep breath. There wasn’t the smell of a shower, no humidity in the air. He turned on the hall light. The glare made the empty space even emptier.

He went into the bathroom. The shower was dry. There was no water on the tiles or on the floor around it.

He sagged against the wall. So this is grief, he thought. The house had to be empty before he could feel it.

“What’s keeping you, sir?”

The whisper came from the second bedroom. It wasn’t Peter. It was vaguely familiar though. 

“Who’s there?” Dan said. “I know it isn’t Peter.”

“That’s right, sir.” The voice said in a normal pitch. “That’s fucking right.”

A man rushed out of the dark & pushed Dan off balance & down the stairs. 

“Back to you, Danny boy.”

As he lost his balance Dan grabbed the stair railing to keep himself upright. The force of the shove wrenched his shoulder as he clutched the rail. Punches struck the back of his head, his arm as the man tried to get Dan to let go. Dan’s RCMP training kicked in as he sagged forward slightly then pushed himself upright momentarily distancing himself from his attacker. He took a step down & swung himself over the railing onto the living room floor.

He reached for his shoulder bag by the front door  but his attacker grabbed him from behind. They fell to the floor. Dan tried to elbow the man on his back in the stomach but there wasn’t enough leverage. He took a deep breath & pushed up with his right arm. His attacker slid off his back & Dan quickly rolled so that he was on top of the man. 

“John!” He finally saw the face of his assailant. “What the fuck!” It was John Kilpatrick.

Dan blocked John’s left hand as it swung up at him.

“Don’t act so surprised Mr. James.” John grabbed Dan’s hair with his other hand & yanked hard.

Dan fell back & scrambled to his feet. As John got up Dan hit him in the jaw with the side of his forearm & darted back toward the kitchen.

“You can’t be this sore about the show? Me winning that stupid award? What?” Dan shouted as John backed him to the kitchen counter.

“The two things I loved the most in my life you’ve taken away from me. You didn’t realize that did you?  Not that you cared  anyway. When your …. whatever he was  …. fuck toy was killed I thought that was good. I laughed. That’s right I laughed.”

“What two things?”

“My career & …. Octavio.” John began to cry.

“Octavio? Who the fuck is …. Roberto!”

“That’s right you stupid, self-centred asshole.” He grabbed Dan by the shoulders & banged his head again the cupboard doors.

“If you hadn’t switched cars he’d still be alive.”

“He was …”

“I rescued him while I was covering the revolution in San Costa. The gorillas taught me a lot during the months I was with them. You didn’t know that, did you?” 

“The bomb?”

“Yeah, but I didn’t set the timer right. But that’s all the past. You’ll be the past soon too. Both of us.” He head butted Dan.

Dazed Dan sank to the floor. 

John fumbled with the knobs on the stove, turning the gas on full. Listening for the gas to hiss he pulled a lighter out of his pocket.

Dan shook his head & pulled himself to to his feet. He started laughing.

“What’s so funny?” John said.

“Gas.” Dan took a breath & stepped back away from John & the stove. “I had it turned off yesterday. The law you know, empty house can’t have live gas feed.”

He yanked out one of the drawers & swung it hitting John. 

“Good thing I never had these replaced.” He said as John collapsed to the floor.

He waited a few minutes for John to get up to continue the battle. When he didn’t, Dan stooped to check his pulse. John was still alive.

Dan leaned against the counter to catch his breath. He wiped at the sweat that was dripping into his eyes to discover that it was blood. He was afraid to take his eyes off John lest he come to. He tried to recall if the alarm system had voice activation. Had he set it before he went upstairs? There was a trigger at the kitchen door that opened to the garage.

Keeping John in view he took the few steps to the door & pressed the alert button on the alarm panel. It would send a signal to the security firm. The garage door was still wide open after the moving van had departed. Was that how John was able to get in?   He turned the garage light on to alert the security that would arrive to come that way.

John remained still on the floor. Dan longed to go the front door to grab his shoulder bag with his phone in it but was afraid that if he lost visual contact with John that John would either disappear like the villain in all slasher movies or he would resurrect to attack him again.

He didn’t breath easy until he heard a car pull up & the doors slam as someone got out.

“Stickler Security.” A female called out. “Mr. James? Is there a problem?” She & another guard walked into the garage.


An hour later Dan was sitting on the stairway as an EMS medic wiped the blood off his face. A policeman askied him about the attack. 

“I checked the bathroom & that shower hasn’t been used recently.” The officer said.

“I told you it was dry when I went up to check it. That’s when John, Mr. Kilpatrick jumped out to push me down the stairs.”

“Right. How do you ….”

The officer was interrupted by shouts from outside where another officer was questioning John by the EMS vehicle. 

“I want him arrested.” John was yelling. “He attacked me for no reason at all. No reason. I’m calling my lawyer.”

The officer talking with Dan raised his eyebrows. “You see Mr. James, we have two different stories about what happened.”

The medic applied some disinfectant on Dan’s forehead.

“You’ll need stitches, sir. That’s a nasty cut. There’ll be a scar.”

“Thanks.” More than anything Dan wanted to be alone to gather his thoughts. He went over the sequence of the attack, trying to recall what John had said.

“Ask him about Octavio.” He told the officer. 

“Octavio? Who is Octavio?” 

Just then they both heard the shower go on.

“What the … ” The officer said. “Who is up there?” He stomped up the stairs. He was gone a few minutes & came back down with a small portable speaker dangling at the end of a nylon cord loop. It was still playing the sound of a shower.

“This was hanging on the back of the bathroom door.” He said.

“It’s a wireless puck speaker.” Dan said. “We sell them at the Depot. He must have set it off now when he used his cellphone.”

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Picture Perfect 27

The next afternoon Dan was looking over the specs for the latest Lyphend camera. As with most of their models the price range went from four to five figures, including a limited edition of twelve at six figures. The limited edition price always included a portion that was donated to a charity. This one was to go to Eyes Without Borders which brought eye care to people in need. That need could be anywhere in the world. Even in over-privileged nations people couldn’t afford needed eye-surgery or even glasses.

Shouting erupted from the store below. Someone was very angry. Occasionally under-medicated street people would wander into the store. This sounded like one of those. It was the sort of physical confrontation that he found difficult to handle.

The hardest part of his RCMP training was the hand-to-hand combat. He was good enough to get a passing mark but he dreaded that class more than any other. He’d often found himself physically sick by the end of the class. He was grateful that he never had to put use what he had learned or ever had to defend himself.

He went to the monitors to see who it was and if he needed to call the police. It was a man moving too much for Dan to fully see his face. He went to the bottom of the stairs and stood at the entrance to the Depot.

“What’s all the commotion?” Dan asked.

The man turned and charged at him. Dan held his ground, stepped aside at the right moment and nudged the man as he rushed passed him. The man lost his footing and fell on the stairs.

The man laid quiet for a moment then turned himself over. His nose was bleeding.

“What the fuck!” He said. “Look what you’ve done.”

It was John Kilpatrick from Unsolved Cold.

“John?” Dan said reaching over to help him up.

John grabbed Dan’s forearm with his left hand, pulled himself up and at the same time swung with his right fist catching Dan under his eye.

Dazed Dan staggered back as John hit him again in nearly the same spot. Blindly he struck out with his elbow and felt it hit John’s chin. John crumpled to the floor.

By then Ushio was pulling Dan away. The pain in his eye made him dizzy. Ushio lead him to a chair by the order desk.

“Police are on the way.” Sandy said. 

“Which means we’ll see them in about two days.” Dan said. His eye had quickly swollen shut.

“Here,” someone handed him a cloth with ice in it.

He glanced up with his good eye. It was Jill. “Thanks.”

“What was that all about?” she asked.

“I don’t know. Ask him.”


Dan peered around. John Kilpatrick was gone.

“I was John Kilpatrick. Don’t ask me why though? I only met the guy the once a few weeks ago.”

“Weird.” Sandy said. “I think you should go to St, Mike’s emerg and get that looked at a s a p boss man. I’ll deal with the police when they get here.”

Dan got up. Dizzy he sat back down.

“I’ll get a cab.” Jill went out to the street and came back a few minutes later. “Got one. Come on.”

“Ushio get my shoulder bag from upstairs. I’ll need some i.d.”

Three nurses, two x-rays, two resident doctors, one ophthalmologist, a gauze apparatus over his eye and six hours later Dan was squinting around the waiting area for Jill. She was talking with two unformed police officers.

They came over to him and introduced themselves.

“I’m Officer Marks and this is my partner Officer Howard.”

He shook their hands.

“How’s the eye?” Jill asked.

“Not as bad as it feels. Luckily they found no fractures around the eyesocket or cheek. The eye itself appears to been bruised but the extent of that damage can’t be ascertained until the swelling goes down. No broken blood vessels though, which is a good sign.”

“You’ll be glad to know that we have detained Mr. Kilpatrick.” Marks said.

“Thanks.” Dan said. “That was fast.”

“Being that drunk makes a person do foolish things like wandering up Yonge Street with blood dripping down your face. Made him very easy to pick up.” Howard said. “His blood alcohol count was off the charts.”

“When we got the call from your store we realized some of what happened.” Marks said. “We’re still not clear on why though.”

“Neither am I.” Dan said. “It was just a routine day at the office and bam he comes in ranting at my staff.”

“We saw the video. Great security setup you have.” Marks said.

“Didn’t keep this from happening though.” Dan half-laughed.

“You don’t know why he was upset?” Howard asked again.

Dan explained how he knew Kilpatrick, then a bit about the missing children’s case and his personal interest in it.

“He’s said nothing to you?” Dan asked.

“We won’t get much out him till he sobers up. By which time I’m sure he’ll have his lawyer by his side. That was the one thing he most clear about. He wanted his lawyer to sue you, some black bastard named Baxter.” Mark said.

“You should talk to Baxter then.”

“You know who that is?”

“He’s the producer of Unsolved Cold.” Dan said. “I have his card.” He looked in the little pockets inside this shoulder bag and found it. “Here it is.” He handed it to Marks who looked at it then handed it to Howard. 

“We’ll get in touch with him.” Howard sighed as he made a note of the name and number on a pad. “We’ve dealt with Quintex before.” he glanced at Marks.

“Yeah they wanted to do a Bad Boys Toronto then discovered how boring Toronto really is.”

“Is there anything more?” Dan asked.

“Nope. it’s all pretty much open and shut as they say. Assault, video evidence, witnesses. He’ll be charged. His lawyer will see what we have and they plea. Most likely it won’t even go to trial. Unless …”

“Unless what?” Dan asked.

“We find some evidence that you instigated this. That become mitigating circumstances. But that doesn’t sound the case here.” Howard said.

“Can we give you a lift?” Marks asked.

“Sure.” Jill smiled. “You can drop us off at the scene of the crime. I’ll give you a cup of coffee you won’t forget.”

Sandy was still waiting for him at the Depot. Ushio had gone home. He filled her in on what had happened. Once the store was closed and secure for the night he went up to his retreat on the third floor. He was glad his Dad had kept this part the old apartments. A full bathroom and bedroom that Dan had sometimes used when he was visiting home from university.

He resisted calling Sanjay because telling him about this would be too melodramatic. He longed to have someone to sit and talk to about all that he had been going though but couldn’t think of anyone. Outside of Sanjay he had no gay friends. Jill was good up to a point but what could she say about these things he suspected about his father, about his fears that Sanjay would actual leave him.

Now this incident with Kilpatrick. His recollections of the interview last week were vague. He hadn’t had much conversation with John off camera. A few words about camera and light setups and that was it. 

Restless he took out his personal laptop. Nothing on V-Files held his attention. His last nook post was still getting some response. Guys wanting to know what equipment he used to get such a clear image. There was market he had never thought to tap. Nor would he.

His bandaged eye throbbed and his good eye was starting to ache. The ophthalmologist had warned him that would happen. Too much strain on one eye would affect it.

He shut the laptop and laid on the bed. He got up and went to the bathroom to see what was in the medicine cabinet. Thankfully there were some Dozease. He took two, along with one of the pain killers the doctor had given him, laid back down again and dropped into a fitful sleep.

He woke several times thinking he could hear someone in the bedroom, then in his office beneath him. One time he went to the top of the stairs but heard nothing. The monitors showed him the empty spaces, the empty store, as passing car lights illuminated it.

When he could hear the Carafe opening up he took a quick shower, put on clean clothes. The stale smell of the rooms reminded him he needed to air his getaway if he was going to use it more frequently. Without Sanjay at the house it was pointless to keep going back there every night.

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