City of Valleys – 6  

City of Valleys – 6



Steven didn’t want to trade the air-conditioned restaurant for his afternoon rehearsal. No matter how many bodies moved in it, the damp, hot air on Church Street remained unmoved. The afternoon at Lubba’s had gone well. Paul fit in and worked out better than Steven expected one of Miss Ing’s love toys to work.

The sight of Paul’s tattoos was the highlight at the end of Steven’s shift. He changed in the staff room, while Paul took a breather there with his damp shirt hung over the air vent to cool it. Across his shoulders was a series of linked geometric knots based on a Celtic pattern he’d had found on a CD cover.

Steven wanted to know what the inked flesh felt like, but didn’t want a sexual harassment case on anyone’s first day of work.

Steven unlocked his bike and peddled to the East Side Community Centre. Evan was outside the centre with Tim McGuinn, one of the actors in the show, and Monica their stage manager.

“I though you were working today, Monica?” Steven locked his bike.

“We got taken over. Bookies is now an ex-bookstore.”

“Which means she won’t be missing rehearsals,” Evan added.

“Depends on the job market. Need anyone at Lubba’s, Steven?”

“Not unless there’s a sudden break-up.” He explained Paul as they went up to the rehearsal studio.

“Enough of that. If you wish to audition for Robert Ing, Monica, I’m sure Steven can book an appointment for you. But we are here for our true calling.” 

“That sounds threatening,” Tim whispered.

“Today we’ll work on the scene between the two of you. Monica will prompt.”

“I hope our nudity won’t offend her heterosexual sensibility.”

“Tim, I had a light lunch just in case.”

Steven had tried not worry about the first nude rehearsal. It wasn’t Steven who was naked, but his character, John. He had never been naked on stage and wasn’t sure how he’d react.

“What we’ll do is run the lines, the blocking, and mime the undressing.” Evan explained

“You both off book, I hope.” Monica found the place in the text. “It isn’t easy to hold your text and your text-ticles as the same time.”

“I’ll take your word for that.” Tim swigged from a water bottle.

“The same for the kiss. You don’t have to go for it right away but remember these guys aren’t air kissers.”

“Ass kissers, Evan?” Tim pretended to mishear.

“Save that for the uncensored midnight production. But till then we will stick to what is here.”

The kiss was buried deeper in Steven’s mind. Like many actors, he didn’t pay attention to stage business when he concentrated on his lines and his cues. What would it be like to kiss Tim? Could he stay John when he got that intimate? 

After a few simple stretches and vocal warm-ups, Evan said they were ready to commence. He sat at the far end of the room. A couple of chairs sketched in the set, with a quilt on the floor to represent the bed.

The first run throughs were rough. Steven saw that Tim was more apprehensive than he was.

“Okay, okay. I know it isn’t easy. You keep avoiding each other, when you are supposed to be ready for each other. Just sit and look at each other. Make eye contact and say the lines. Don’t act. Just look and speak.” Evan leaned forward in his chair.

They did that. Evan made them do it twice, and the third time they spoke the scripted actions.

“I’m unbuttoning John’s shirt.”

“Gabe unbuttons my shirt. I hold his hand over my heart.”

“John holds my hand over his heart. I feel it beat.”

After the fourth talk-through, they did a walk-through of the actions.

Steven touched Tim’s belt. Tim touched Steven’s buttons. At the point of the kiss, they leaned forward and their lips met. Brief, but actual contact was made.

“Good. I knew you had it in you. It’s time for a breather before we get down to brass tacks.”

Steven glanced at his watch. Almost two hours without a break. He was soaked with sweat from concentration and was grateful to sip water from his bottle. He went to the washroom and soaked his t-shirt and wrapped it around his neck.

When he got back Evan had orange popsicles for them.

“Go easy on these. Cold can slam the voice box shut,” Monica warned. “Rub them on the backs of your arms. That will cool you down quickly.”

“Aren’t we all cool enough?”

“As cucumbers, Evan.”

“Ready gentlemen?” Monica urged. “Then we’ll begin.”

The text of the scene flowed up to the first button.

“Do I ask him about the murders before, after or during?”

“Steve, just keep going!” Evan ordered. “Remember – do not anticipate. What happens here is a surprise to your characters. If we see the actors getting ready, there will be no surprise.”

As Tim’s hands touched him, and his touched Tim, he watched from Evan’s point of view. They were two actors at work. He saw his shirt come off and fall to the stage next to Tim’s pants. His pants fell on top of that. Each removed his own underwear. There was a cool damp of sweat in the small of his back as he pulled Tim to him. It was natural and easy. Nothing to question.

Tim’s body was now Gabe’s. His body was John’s. Tim’s musky aftershave was now Gabe’s. Steven wasn’t attracted to the ruddy Gabe but John was. He held Gabe’s eyes as their faces neared. Gabe’s pubic hair brushed his stomach. Gabe returned his look as they sank to the floor. Desire sparked as their lips parted and tongues touched.



Evan and Monica applauded.

As he rolled away from Tim he was aroused and saw that Tim saw that he was aroused. Tim grabbed a shirt and dropped it on Steven’s groin.

“That’s what I call method acting.”

“You’d think I wasn’t getting enough at home,” Steven joked.

“Once more?” Monica asked. “Or do we need cold showers.”

“Steven, I didn’t realize that you were so …” Evan glanced down.

“Not something one puts on a résumé.” Steven got dressed.

“You ready?” Tim asked.

“It seems I’m always ready!” Steven tried to forget their faces. It was that awed look that meant he was no longer Steven or John but a guy with a big dick.


Kevin studied the notices on the bulletin board at Rainbow Books there was so much queer stuff. Classes in American Sign Language. Something called Fire Breath Training. Groups for Asian Lesbians, Radical Faeries, Leather Daddies, Single Gay Fathers.

His brain stopped absorbing as his eyes moved over the flyers. Pink, yellow, mauve posters with naked, semi-naked, big, thin, hairy, muscular, bald, pierced, black, Asian, men and women that offered doors into gay worlds he never dreamed existed.

He tore a number off one that offered a room to let in a gay household. It was time to escape Mitch and Therese, but he’d have to tell them something. He couldn’t disappear and expect them not to want to see to where.

As he stood there he blocked the exit for a thin black man.

“Sorry. Am I in your way?” He asked the man.

The black guy went back into the store without an answer. Kevin put a copy of Pride Pages, a free guide to gay organizations and businesses, into his backpack and left. It was time to hit his target – Church and Wellesley.

On the walk to Church he passed preparations for the parade and street fair. Some side streets were already blocked off for a dance that night, and a stage was set up for the bands.

Many of the high-rise balconies sported rainbow flags. Some had Christmas lights, many with helium-filled silver and pink balloons, and one had a large inflated teddy bear tethered to its rail.

He was submerged in an alien culture where everyone spoke English but the words didn’t mean the same thing. From the flyers he figured that a bear wasn’t the woodland creature but a big, hairy man.

There was little chance he’d return to Mitch’s tonight, but he have to tell them and not blurt out the truth. He checked his watch and figured they might still be out. 

He doubled back to a pay phone in the subway. He practiced several lies and even the truth. “Hi Mitch I’m staying downtown tonight to my dick sucked by sick faggots and to return the favour. See you at supper tomorrow.” The thought sent shivers up his spine.  

When he called he got, as he’d hoped, the answering machine. As casual as possible he said, “Hi Therese.” She always checked the messages, something Mitch had never figured out. “Cuz Kevin here and I … uh … I don’t think I’ll get back tonight. Don’t worry if I don’t show. I’ll call in the morning. Love ya. Bye. I’ll do a double set next week at Ten Pennies to make up for tonight. A triple if that agent shows up. Bye.”

He hung up pleased he had managed not to lie yet not tell the truth. Next he’d need a place for the night. The fantasy of a nice man who would give him sex and a place to sleep had appeal, but he’d feel better if he didn’t have to risk homelessness this first night on his own.

He went to a nearby parkette, sat in the sun, and took out the Pride Pages to check if there were any gay hotels.

“Nice weather.” A guy in blue tank top and matching shorts sat beside him.

“Perfect,” Kevin glanced from the guide.

“Usually is for Pride. Rained once, but stopped as soon as the parade started.”

“God likes gays after all.”

“No doubt He’s one himself.” The man inched closer. “You from out of town?”

“Sort of.” Kevin’s heart beat a bit faster. Was this a pick up? He stared at the man. He appeared to be in his late thirties, needed a shave, but wasn’t in too bad shape. 

The man adjusted his balls. “Going to be a warm day.”

“Yes.” Kevin covered his hard-on with the Pride Pages.

“I have cold beer at my place. Not far from here.”

“Sounds inviting, but I have to find a place for tonight.”

“There’s a couple of b’n’b’s on the way to my place. We can check them out.”


“Bed and breakfast. Not quite a hotel and cheaper.”

“All right. Kevin.” Kevin stuck out his hand.

“Mark.” The man shook Kevin’s.

“Pleased to meet you Mark.”

“If all goes well, the pleasure will be all mine.”

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City of Valleys – 5



Kevin sat on the subway opposite the route map over the door to count off each stop. The closer he got to town, the more his heart raced. It was hard for him to stay seated. When the train flashed above ground, he watched the blur of buildings.

It was odd not to have Mitch or Therese there to talk to, or to alert him about what stop to get off. It was a challenge to sit in silence, and he resisted the urge to strike up a conversation with strangers. Each time he had been tempted, the stony blankness of people’s faces stopped him. 

The closer he got to downtown, the closer he inspected men for signs that they might be gay. What should he look for? Mitch claimed you could always tell a fag by the amount of stink water he wore to cover up the stench of the asshole that had just been on his face.

Kevin eyed several men he hoped were gay, but if they were and they acknowledged him, he didn’t know where that might lead. The train filled at Pape, and a man squeezed into the seat between him and a large black woman.

“‘Scuse me.”

Kevin was too nervous to glance at the man. He peeked down at the man’s thighs, shoes, hairy forearms, but he couldn’t get himself to look at the face. 

The man got off a few stops later, and as he got up he adjusted his crotch. Kevin glanced up. The train jarred to a stop, and momentum pushed the man’s fly closer to Kevin’s face. The man exited. Kevin took a deep breath and realized how tense he had become.

So tense he almost missed the stop at Yonge and Bloor. He followed the flow of passengers to the street. 

As he crossed at the corner, he hoped his eyes didn’t bug out to push off his sun glasses. He was in a sea of people all intent on getting past or around each other to something important. He was sure that if he stopped at a store window, the crowd would shove him along before he could focus on anything. 

His stomach reminded him it was time to focus on food. He stopped at Pizza Palace and went in for a slice.

At a stool in the window, he had a chance to sit and watch. 

“Mind if I sit here”’ A guy about his age nodded to the stool next to his.


“Lots of people in town for Pride Day.” 

“Pride Day?”

“You from another planet or what?”

“Call me Kevin from Jupiter.”

“Ian from over the Rainbow.” Ian shook Kevin’s hand. “I can’t imagine any self-respecting faggot not knowing what Pride Day is. Oops!” Ian covered his mouth. “That is if you are? I mean I took it for granted that you were and if you aren’t I’m sorry for mistaking you for one.”

“I’m one.” Kevin laughed. “What’s this Pride thing.”

“Tomorrow is Gay and Lesbian Pride Day. There’s a parade of hundreds of thousands of crazed queers out and proud.” Ian finished his slice. “I gotta run. Drop in at Rainbow Books up the street. We have everything you’ll need for gay life. You picked the perfect weekend to come out.” Ian disappeared into the stream of people.

I’ll take his word for it. Kevin finished his pizza.


Outside the hardware store, Yves lashed the sturdy cardboard tubes to the back of Trigger. As long as they avoided doors with less than six feet of clearance they’d have no trouble. The tubes, to make palm tree trunks, were a bit too straight but with a wrap of burlap they’d pass.

At Fabrique Place they bought burlap and found some rainbow terry towel in the remainders bin. A couple of balloons covered in the terry towel became Jake’s all important “nice big coconuts.” Next they needed something to make leaves.

“Yves, as a writer you should know, are they called leaves or fronds? Because it helps if you know who your fronds are.” Jake laughed as they moved forward. “You’ve got to have fronds …”

“It helps to have fronds in high places.”

“Yves, a frond in need is a frond indeed.”

“You’ve got a frond.”

“Some my best fronds are …” 

“Fronds! Romans! Countrymen!” Tears poured down Yves face.

“Stop! Stop! I can’t take any more.” Jake pounded his chest with his hand.

Yves let silence settle as they both caught their breath.

“What a way to go! Laughed to death,” Jake gasped. 

“Sounds like you two are enjoying the sun.” Someone came up behind them. “Or is it that ample gentleman in the black net bikini sunning himself in the park that’s tickled you? Jake how you doing?”

“Mark Winslow! Fuck! Did you get a life transplant!” 

“No, Jake, a magic cocktail.”

“Must be magic. Last time I saw you, you were …”

“Don’t say it, Yves. We thought that last time was the last.”

“Fuck man, I hardly recognize you. You look …. healthy.” Jake tugged at the knees of his sweat pants. “You were the guy with all those friends, right?”

“Oh yeah, my recovery buds.”

“Lucky. You are so lucky, man, to have so many.”

“That I know.”

“I hardly recognized you Mark.”

“Everyone says I rebounded amazingly. I’ve put on nearly twenty pounds and am back at the gym, and thanks to God and my meds, I’m feeling fine.” Mark shook his backpack. A bottle of pills inside rattled.

“What meds are you on?” 

“If this is going to be another pharmacist convention I’ll leave you to it and …”

“I don’t have time to get into anything here, but tell you what, I’ll drop in soon and get caught up? I’m surprised you aren’t on this regimen.”

“Non-insurance doesn’t cover magic cocktails.” Jake frowned.

“We’ll talk Monday. I’ll check with my doctor.” With a quick air kiss, Mark continued on his way.

“Time for lunch? The patio at Mama D’s is open. No ceiling fixtures to worry about.”

Jake’s mood change was predictable. He picked at his food while he railed about the system and how only the rich would survive.

Yves took what he had learned to be the best approach in these circumstance. He agreed with the negative, echoed the positive, and was hopeful, though he himself didn’t understand how or why some people lasted years and others died within weeks.

How some people responded to medications while others got worse, no matter what they tried, was one of the angels that he wrestled, and each time he had to accept that life was a mystery only God could solve. 


After lunch David stopped by Rainbow Books with his résumé. He liked the aura of Rainbow Books. Two large floors of homo-energy that lived up to its claim as the Biggest Queer Store in the World. Whenever he did drop in, it was hard not to reorganize the shelves so people could find the books they wanted.

Ian Fisher, the owner, had explained that the confusion was a way to force people to talk to the clerks, to lure them out of their book closets.

David went up to the second floor and found Ian in his cluttered office.

“How’s the pre-Pride sale going?”

“Not bad. Are you checking out our prices for Bookies to undercut.”

“Please Ian, the gayest thing we carry is the Australian Rescue Team calendar. I wanted to drop this off.” 

“Business there that bad?” Ian dropped to gossip whisper.

“Worse. Index Ink has bought us out.”

“Fucking Yanks. When?”

“Today. No warning. A golden handshake and the offer to maybe become sale associates in the future. You have a sign outside ‘Staff Wanted’.” He put his résumé on the desk.

“Part time, summer stuff while we all take well-earned vacations. I was thinking of some college type and the pay is minimum.”

“Suits me fine. I want to start sewing my fingers to the bone but need to keep some money coming in at the same time.”

“When can you start?”

“You mean I got the job?”

“Contrary to current rumours, you don’t have to blow anyone to work here.”


“Tuesday it is.” Ian shook David’s hand.

David went downstairs and it was now harder to restrain himself from organizing the piles of books. As he came to the entrance, he was stopped in his tracks by a male vision in front of the events bulletin board.

With a deep breath, he allowed himself to savour the man in front of him. The guy stood about five-foot-eight, in ragged cutoffs, with a light dust of hair on his sturdy legs and a firm upper body. David gazed on this image of perfection. The face wasn’t pretty, but solid, masculine and topped off with short cropped brownish hair, it sent a signal to David’s balls that he hadn’t heard for a while. The man’s burgeoning moustache iced the cake.

He saw David. “Sorry, am I in your way?”

“Uh … no … not at all.” David’s eyes darted up and down. He tried to think of anything to say to make this man talk to him. He was grateful that being black meant no one could see him blush.

“David!” Ian called from behind him. “I forgot to get you to fill out this employee form. It’s for the book-keeper.”

David took the form and when he turned back the apparition was gone. 

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Picture Perfect 70

Picture Perfect 70

“Pizzas here!” Peter called. “or is that pizzae?”

“You plan on feeding an army?” Dan looked at the stack of pizza boxes on the dining room table. “One each for each of us! I’m lucky to finish two slices in a large. These have to be extra large.”

“Be grateful I didn’t order the Super Bowl party size.” Jeremy said.

Ashley spread the boxes over the table, flipped open the top of each. “Pepperoni classic with extra cheese where are you. Nope this one is – what is it?”

“Looks like shrimp and lobster to me.” Peter said handing Jeremy a plate and a carving knife. “No enough pizza cutters to go around.”

“This one has sausages and bacon.” Ashley said.

“Meat Lovers.” Jeremy explained. “there should be ground beef and salami under the extra cheese.”

“Daddy did you order one for me?” she opened another boxx. “Oh here it is. Give me that pizza slicer. Got bigger plates?”

‘“Nope.” Dan said. “We only have plates for people with normal sized appetites. And this one is,” he opened the last box. “Spinach, egg plant and I’m not sure.”

“Avocado and sun dried tomatoes. That one also has feta for those of us who get tired of mozzarella or cheddar. Crust is gluten free, too.” Jeremey explained. “The vegan deluxe. You’ll never miss the meat.”

“Oh yummy,” Peter said, “There’s nothing more tempting than cardboard with hot spinach.”

“Try it, you’ll like it.” Jeremey said before he pushed the tip of the sea food pizza in his mouth.

They each managed to try, of not fully eat, a slice from each of the pizzas. 

“I hope everyone is stuffed.” Peter said. “If they are thank the man who paid the chef. Those of us about to explode with goods salute you Mr. Moxham.”

“My pleasure.”

“I’m sleepy.” Ashley announced.

“It is getting late.” Jeremey checked his watch. “We’ll head home in half an hour, princess. Need time for the dough to settle.”

“You can nap in my room.” Peter said.

“Your room?” she said. “You don’t live here! Dan does.”

“True. But unlike you I am a guest who stayed for longer than dinner.”

He went upstairs with her.

“So he is really house sitting?” Jeremy said. “I thought that was was a euphemism for sleeping together.”

“No, it isn’t a euphemism. But yes we are sleeping together.” Dan collected the dirty plates.


“You mean you’ve been celibate all these years?”

“No but …”

“The lobster pizza was pretty good.” Dan began to combine remains of pizzas into two boxes. “I wasn’t sure about it at first. The idea of putting seafood on a pizza struck me as being more inventive than tasty.”

“Like the idea of gay men courting?” Jeremy asked.

“You mean inventive or tasty? Sorry, I didn’t mean that to sound as sarcastic as it did.”

“I’m a little confused.” Jeremy said. “You know I find you attractive.”

Just then Peter came back into the room. “Did I miss something, sir?”

Dan massaged his forehead with the palm of his hand. “I came home to deal with business business not emotional business. I’m not looking to be courted. I’m not looking for a replacement for Sanjay. Not yet anyway. I don’t know where you got it into your head I was I husband hunting.” He went down to his study and shut the door.

His head throbbed. His study smelled of Jeremy’s cologne. All he wanted was to be free of emotional encumbrances for a while. Yet, everywhere he turned there was another opportunity, another someone trying to attach themselves to him. It wasn’t as if what that great looking or even had a big fat thick dick. Ordinary. He was ordinary.

There was knock on his door. “Ice cream?” Peter said.

“I’ll be right out.”

On his way up to the FairVista store in the morning Dan wished he had exercised more restraint when it got to the ice cream and brioche. Neither of which did anything to dispel the awkwardness of acting normal with Ashley in their midst. Once Jeremy left with her Dan went directly to bed. Peter had enough sense to let him sleep alone.

In the morning he was glad he had turned the message alert off before going to bed as there was three texts from Linda. The first sent at midnight, said “wlcm hm thnx 4 pics.” The second sent two hours later said “pics r exclnt.” The third was sent an hour ago said. “Must talk asap.”

As she hadn’t sent Hamid to pick him up he didn’t he didn’t think her asap was that urgent. Peter had already left for work when he got up with an ice cream hangover. His stomach felt bloated from the excess of glutenated products they had eaten. Cold sea food pizza made for a good breakfast though. 

The FairVista hadn’t changed. There were some discreet Halloween decorations here and there but this wasn’t where anyone shopped for costumes, monster makeup or candy to give away. Christmas was the serious season. He could smell the coffee when the doorman opened the mall door for him.

“Lovely morning Mr. James.”

“Yes, it is.”

Linda was at one of the Cuppa tables with a coffee and biscotti in front of her.

“Smell it when you came in?” she asked.

“Couldn’t miss it.” 

“I read how movie theatre would pump the smell of popcorn to the street so people would get the craving for it when they passed. Bakeries do with the fresh bread too. Have one?”

“Water for me.” He took a bottle of water out of his shoulder bag. “I’m here. By the way I had supper last night with Jeremy Moxham.”

“Then you already know what I wanted to talk to you about. Saves me the trouble of having to explain it to you.”

“No explaining to do. It’s your business now.”

“I want your guarantee that you won’t pull Lifend out of here.”

“Why would I do that Linda.”

“You know why.”

“Oh that! Lifend has their own system of checks and balances. You can’t accidentally add their name to anything.”

“I’ve gone over the store’s contractural agreement with them.”


“How flexible will they be on some of those stipulations.”

“Not at all. No discounts. No trade-ins. They own the stock until it is sold.”

“FairVista wants me to capitalize even more of their name though.”

“You can use the logo on site as much as you want to & when you advertise my product demonstrations & workshops. They aren’t concerned with getting their name out there beyond that.”

“It makes it hard to sell them. People expect discounts at some point.”

“That’s what exclusivity means.” Dan said. “They sell what they want, at the price they want. There are not seconds, discontinued lines or even knock-offs. They are paying enough for the square footage they are using here. Plus they pay for the amount of window display they get. Those you can expand, at no cost to them, but cannot reduce it, to make room for another Cuppa’s coffee table.”

“FairVista …”

“Fuck FairVista, Linda. They know their contractual obligations to Lifend. Lifend doesn’t want its own store. They want a single North American site where people can buy period. They sell to people who can afford to fly to Toronto to make face-to-face purchases.”

“I get that.”

“Then why bringing Jeremy Moxham into this?”

“I was hoping to bring him in as a business partner. Without the Depot …”

“Partner? Really! Are you serious?”

“It makes sense to me. We need someone with a name value to the public & to FairVista. Something that can do more for us than this rinky-dink cable crime show of yours.”

“Teresa sends her regards.”

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Picture Perfect 69

Picture Perfect 69

Dan checked the security cameras around the house to make sure Sanjay was gone. There was still time for him to take Doctor Grey’s orders. Which resting spot would be the best. The one where he would be least likely to fall asleep. That left out every room in the house. He plopped a cushion the living room floor. Tested it for neck support. Set his cell timer for thirty-five minutes. Put the drops into his eyes. Two in each. He covered his eyes loosely with a folded towel. The floor was hard and as he lay there became harder. Next time he’d get something to buffer his hips and shoulder blades. Not too comfortable but not so hard.

This must be what a jail cell is like. Only without the expensive designer carpeting of course. But with some hairy brute, aka Sanjay, ready to push your face into the cold steel bars, tear your jail orange off and shove his … that’s not relaxing. Pleasant thoughts but not that arousing. How had Linda taken getting those photographs. He wished he could have seen her face as she realized what they were.  Suddenly his alarm went off.

As he dressed after his shower Dan put some clothes aside to take back to the east coast with him. Even with Quintex’s on camera wardrobe he found himself without enough changes for each day. Rinsing kept his socks & undies relatively fresh but he really needed something for hanging around his hotel room. Sweats. Sweats. Several more t-shirts & definitely more socks & undies. None of the hotel rooms were warm enough to dry what he had fast enough.

He heard Peter come in through the garage. He checked his cell and there wasn’t enough time for them to start something they could finish.

“You up here, somewhere.” Peter called up the stairs.

“Yep. I’m back in the closet.” Dan replied.

“Back in the designer closet by the looks of you.” Peter said. “Where were you hiding this.” He felt the fabric of the pin-striped shirt Dan had put on.

“In a garment bag.”

“A shirt of substance for a man of substance? Where are you going to dinner. This is a reservation-only, private dining room type of shirt.”

“You think?” Dan started to unbutton it.

“You’re not going to let him do that.” Peter raised an eyebrow.

“Actually I was saving that for you once they left.”

“Thank you, sir.” Peter pushed Dan’s hands away to redo the buttons.

The doorbell rang.

“It’s them.” Dan said.

“Put your pants on & I’ll get it. Black jeans will work best, sir.”


“They slide off you nicely.”

Dan pulled on the jeans, slipped on a pair of loafers & followed Peter down the stairs.

“Oh! Hello.” Ashley said. “We were expected.”

“Hello Peter.” Jeremy ushered her in.

“Ashely.” Dan kissed her. “Father.” he shook hands with Jeremy.

“This is Peter Eastgate. He’s my house sitter.”

“You work at Carafe?” Jeremy asked.


“Knew I’d seen you somewhere before.”

“Yes … well … I just got in from pouring my last latte. I’ll change & be right down, sir.” He ran up the stairs.

“He’ll be joining us?” Ashley said.

“What was I supposed to do. Give him twenty bucks and send him to the movies?”

“Fifty would be more like it.” Ashely said.

“Nice house.” Jeremy said.

“When I started the structural updates at the Depot I had the same architects do some work here.”

“Taylor Tech?” Jeremy asked.

“You can tell?”

“Not really,” he laughed. “But I know who did the Depot.”

He walked in to the kitchen. “Now this is impressive. Clearly a chef’s domain.” He leaned against the counter and crossed his legs at the ankles.

“Sanjay did have some in put. He developed his special desserts here.” He fucked me there and there too.

“When are we going to eat what?” Ashley said.

Dan nudged Jeremy away from the sink. “I’ll make coffee which you decide.”

“What are you in the mood for?” Jeremy asked.

“No chicken.” she said. “You have flyers?”

“Somewhere. Ask Peter. He’s been looking after the mail all week. Or check the recycle bin. In the garage through there.”

“It’s dark.” she said. “Goody.”

“Clever ruse to get her out of the way for a few minutes.” Jeremy stood closer to Dan. “I hope we weren’t too forward inviting ourselves over here like this.”

“Forward is your style.”

“Not always.”

“You did say you had something to discuss.”

“Yes I do, but it can wait until we’ve eaten. Nice shirt by the way. Luigi Borrelli? We’d better not order anything that might splash it. Some fabrics were meant to be looked at, not worn.”

“Look!” daughter returned with a dozen flyers. “We never get this many at our place. Do we Daddy?”

“If we do, Mitchell gets rid of them before you can see them and tell him what to cook.”

“Have we decided yet?” Peter came into the kitchen. “Gerald’s is good.” He took flyer from the top of the fridge. “After all pizza is the classic family Saturday night meal.”

“Let’s me see.” Ashley gabbed the take out menu from Peter. “Lobster and shrimp!” she read off various combinations. “Pineapple, ham and avocado! Don’t they do ordinary pizzas with pepperoni? Oh they do. We’ll get that one.”

“Lets see.” Jeremy took the menu. “The classic. Any toppings either of you would like to add or avoid?” He tapped into his cell phone. “Don’t you love apps?” He looked at the cell for a few minutes. “They’ll be here in …”

“Forty minutes or it’s free.” Ashley said. “What’ll we until it comes?”

She ran into the living room and turned on the TV.

“Why don’t you give Jeremy a tour of the house.” Peter said. “I’ll set the table and put some cokes on ice.”

“Sounds like a good idea.” Jeremy said. “Lead the way.”

“This is my retreat from my retreat.” Dan turned the lights on in his study. “The house is a retreat and here I can hide from the house.”

“Stuffy.” Jeremy pretended to wipe dust off the desk.

“Haven’t been in here much the last few weeks.”

“How can you work in a room with no windows? The Depot is all glass front.”

“A man answers his own question.” Dan said.

“Let me ask you one.” Jeremy sat in the armchair. “Your sister has approached me with an investment opportunity. In the FairVista location.”

“Makes some sense.”

“I’m fully aware she’s trading on your friendship with me or she wouldn’t have the … nerve to ask me. Actually she isn’t asking me she’s asking my Corporation.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know the difference between person and business.”

“My question is would it matter to you what I did?”


“Would you be … pissed off, for want of a better word, if I said yes or no.”

“I don’t think so. Linda will make a go of things regardless. She’s always been driven to succeed. Over-driven in fact.”

“I can tell.”

“Is that the question? Nothing about the business?”

“This is a social call not a financial consultation.” Jeremy stood and slowly smoothed out his pants.

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Epic Ripple

I’ve been reading & thinking about the epic economic ripples of covid. Luckily I’m on a fixed income so I have no real concern about earning an hourly wage. I recently read about a shopping mall declaring bankruptcy because its tenants have lost so much revenue due to necessary covid restrictions they can’t pay the per-square-foot rent. Seems the only ones making $ are food delivery services & labs processing covid swabs 🙂

When a restaurant closes – as many have along the Danforth here in Toronto it is easy to see the direct results: waiters, cooks out of work. But this ripples out, as the restaurant also has supplier such as laundry service, bakeries for breads & desserts, equipment (broken dishes have to be replaced), butchers, fresh produce. 

So the providers of those supplies have less customers. Bakeries have suppliers too – flour, dairy etc – suppliers who now have less demand for their goods. The restaurant has less income to tax & so the actual tax base our country runs on is gradually reduced too – less taxes effects the services we count on – health care for one. 

I’m not an economist just an occasional diner. I sometimes buy coffee on my morning walks but I can’t drink enough coffee to save any indy coffee shop, or even a chain – Starbucks has been closing stores. I suspect the economic structure is going to have to be restructured because once the low income base crumbles there’ll be no money to bail out the billionaires.

Walk Away

I walked away

didn’t look back

I would have if

as in the legend

it would have sent you back to Hades

then again maybe not

I wasn’t that invested in revenge

just in getting out of there

freeing myself of what wasn’t working

even though you seemed to feel it was working

each step away became easier

each hour away was easier

each day each week each month

now years later

there’s almost a sense of nostalgia

not that I miss you as a person

but as an emotion


I didn’t return your calls

there was no point

especially as they decreased in frequency

even when you got me on the phone

or waved to me in the street

I didn’t invest more time that necessary

didn’t open that door any wider than I had to 

didn’t want that old cat sneaking back in

between my legs

as you did with such grace and dexterity

no done is done


I didn’t want to be friends with you

you never understood why

which was one of the reasons 

I walked away

each step another one 

back to myself

the apologies and promises

stopped meaning anything

they weren’t worth the air they were uttered with


I supposed it would have been easier for you

if had gotten angry

stormed and raged

but I left in quietness and security

one step after the other

no regrets no hesitation

I walked into silence

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