Continuing our week-long Valentines flash fiction roundup! Don’t forget to check the other one posting for today, ND http://ndwylders.blogspot.com/.
Well today it’s my turn and I present for your enjoyment a little flash fiction featuring Derwin and Elliot, the boys from my WIP, Murder One. Those who have been reading my blog for a bit may remember when I posted an introduction to Elliot, a rent boy with the power to read objects, thrown out to the streets when he was fourteen. Derwin is a bounty hunter, plagued by guilt over the unsolved murder of his boyfriend.
This is “The Year Before”:
It’s the worst day of the year. Either the Johns are off banging their boyfriends, girlfriends, or spouses, or they’re sad, lonely, and desperate.
Desperate equals dangerous; I’ve learned that the hard way.
A man in his forties calls my Madame, begs to have me for the evening. I’m standing in the rain, wearing a fucking suit with a thin tie and rolled up ankles because he wants to relive his high school prom the right way.
He parks his car on the street and runs over to me. Before I know what’s happening, he slaps me hard across the cheek.
“That’s for Ellen!” he cries.
I don’t even know who ‘Ellen’ is. His wife, maybe. A past girlfriend?
As I’m rubbing my cheek, I glance across the street to a hunky guy sitting on a park bench, completely oblivious to the rain and the fact he’s soaking wet. His dark eyes meet mine. The pain in his expression hit my gut, and I notice his hands playing with something on his finger—a ring? I want to go to him, be with him. Nobody should look that sad today.
My client grabs my arm. “Come on, Johnny. You’re gonna pay for stealing my prom date. I’m fucking you into next week.” He kisses me hard, then pulls me to the car, shoving two hundred dollar bills into my hand.
Apparently it’s Role Play Night.
It’s fucking Valentine’s Day. But why should I care?
It was May of last year when he died. When I failed him and found him dead on the floor of our bedroom. Nine months now, and yet it feels like it was only just last week. At Christmas, I finally boxed up the last of his things and gave them to his sister.
She’s probably sold most of them by now.
I sit on a park bench in the rain outside my favorite coffee shop, debating whether to go inside and order myself a triple chocolate macchiato, or just walk home back to my apartment. I like the rain. It mourns with me.
Across the street is a young man in an outdated suit with a terrible thin metallic blue tie. His black hair has been spiked up in an eighties hairstyle, and he’s speaking with a man twice his age.
The guy can’t even be eighteen. And yet, as I watch, the other man strikes him across the cheek. My eyes widen, and I yearn to run across the street and punch the guy’s lights out.
The young man glares, rubbing his cheek, and then his eyes flick over to me. I feel a shock, from my toes up to my hairline, something that just makes my nerves stand to attention. There’s some connection, some commonality between us in that instant. I don’t know who he is. But I recognize the pain in that look, the mutual “fuck you” to the romantic holiday and all the hopes and dreams it represents.
Valentine’s Day isn’t for everyone.
For a heartbeat, before he turns away, I feel like some day it could come out okay for both of us.
Good luck, blue tie, I think. The man grabs the young guy and pulls him into the car, then gets into the driver’s seat and pulls out. For a second, I contemplate following. Maybe it’s not too late for that one. Maybe . . .
No. It’s too late. It’s always too late.
I sit back and submit to the rain.
Other blog posts this week: