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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