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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