Something that went nowhere

Body and Blood

There’s a man standing over Luke. This is not unusual in and of itself, but he’s tall, gorgeous, and dressed to kill. Well-groomed, too; he’s not wearing eau de tavern, anyhow.

“Excuse me,” he says. “May I have this dance?”

Luke looks up at the stranger, then back down at the pink drink he’s been nursing for half an hour. Then back up. “Me?” he asks. He only gets offers from nice guys in his drunken fantasies. Couldn’t hurt to go along with it. “What the hell.” He sets the drink down on the bar with a twenty. “Do I know you from somewhere?”

The stranger puffs up, like a peacock showing off to his hens. “I didn’t realize I needed an introduction.”

“No, no,” Luke assures him, fast as he can. “It’s just that I’m… and you’re… well.” Jeans and a moth-eaten T-shirt. Good show, he tells himself. You’re a real cover boy.

“My name’s Theo,” says the stranger. “Theo Gabriel. No relation to Peter. You’re Luke Bentley, and you’re depressed because your last boyfriend died of AIDS.”

“What the fuck?” Luke considers tossing his drink into Theo’s face — but he might have been Dave’s friend. Not a wise move. “Yeah, I am kind of in mourning right now.”

“Because he hit you, you left, and he caught the bug.” Theo sits on the next stool over. “Two waters,” he says to the bartender. “In goblets, if you please.”

“Did you know him?” asks Luke.

“Not well.” Theo folds a napkin into a surprisingly steady paper crane. “My dad did, briefly. The rest — well, you’ve heard the gossip for yourself. The circumstances of your parting were not exactly secret.”

The water arrives. Thank God.

“Wait.” Theo stops him with one hand. “Let’s say grace, eh?” He draws a symbol in the air above the glasses. “That should do it. Drink up.”

“You first.”

“Us together.”

They clink glasses and sip, or try to, anyway. Luke coughs. “Is that wine?”

“Riesling,” says Theo. “It’s kind of a family talent.”

Clearly, Luke has had one pink drink too many. “Check, please.”


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