Science Fiction Double Feature – Alexandrine J. Ogundimu

        “The critical thing,” Kyle says, playing with his lighter, “is whether or not you’re doing the after party this year.” 

        Jeremy’s hands, two big leather gloves stuffed with ground meat and horsehair, come up to Kyle’s mouth and cup around the cigarette so the wind, too hot for September, doesn’t blow out the cheap Bic. 

        “Rebecca wants us to,” Jeremy says. He leans his brown-skinned, leather-jacketed back against the Pregnancy Resource Center, a bible-thumping trap for scared young single mothers. “Personally, I’m over Rocky Horror. Not looking forward to another post-movie shitshow.”

        Kyle raises his other hand to his chest in faux-horror. “I literally can’t imagine October without it.”

        “Why you asking? Looking for a date?”

        Kyle regrets the cigarette, and the conversation, and the all-ages noise rock show. His body feels threatened by the thickness of Jeremy’s neck.

        “Look, you’re a really cool guy but I’m not looking right now,” Kyle says.

        Jeremy laughs in two and a half big shouts. Human, but grotesque. “Rebecca hates me trying to pick up boys without her. I know a guy for you.”

        “How are you and Rebecca?”

        Jeremy chews his response. “There has been tension.”

        “Well that’s. Okay.”

        Jeremy watches the cavalcade of burned out indie rockers and scenesters file out of Boney’s like he’s looking for someone. Kyle wants to reach out and turn his head back. Jeremy’s always like that, looking around, waiting for someone or something, being part of the scene, with it but never present. It aggravates Kyle, who wishes it was socially acceptable to just snap your fingers and be like hey, pay attention to me.

        “I’m more than a party monster.” Jeremy says. “There are other things. More important things.”


        “Community organizing. Healing wounds. Carefully planned assassinations.”

        Kyle rolls his eyes in cloaked fatigue. “I get it. You’re a fixture.” He waves the cigarette around the strip mall parking lot. “Rocky Horror is special for some of us. We don’t have many places to be ourselves. Not unless you like getting the shit kicked out of you.”

        At last, Jeremy turns back with a smirk. Soft eyes in his brick of a face. He pulls a sticker out of his jacket. “Does your heart not bleed for Abboton? Are you not a Hoosier?” 

        “My heart bleeds for no man.”

        “You still doing drag? That’s why you love Rocky Horror.”

        He hasn’t in years. “When I can.”

        From his jacket pocket Jeremy pulls a notebook and a pen. He puts the sticker in his mouth so he can write. Tears off the page, hands it to Kyle. A phone number and a name.

        “Friend of mine,” he says, teeth together. “You’d like him.”

        “I mean thanks, but like I said, I’m not looking. I’m a little,” Kyle searches for words. “I guess you could call it broken-hearted.” 


        Kyle giggles with pain. “More like my last time was rougher than I’d like.” He doesn’t want to think of it. Not about the strings of red lights or the smell of that boy’s underwear. There are words for what happened to Kyle, but he refuses to use them lest he become a victim. Or worse, a survivor. “It’s been six months.”

        “I wouldn’t set you up with someone like that.”

        Earlier today Kyle saw a couple at his favorite coffee shop, Abbey Road, while he was trying to get an almond milk latte (lactose intolerant). The boy fed the girl little bits of vegan carrot coffee cake, which was disgusting. It was also cute, and made him feel kind of like it would be nice to be fed vegan carrot coffee cake. 

        Kyle folds the number and stashes it in his phone case.

        “I might call him,” he says. “I’m not making any promises. I don’t trust any friend of yours not to be weird.”

        Jeremy takes the sticker out of his mouth. “Not that kind of weird.”

        “I didn’t mean it that way.”

        “Do what you like.” Jeremy turns around, peels the back off the sticker and applies it directly above the logo on the door of the Pregnancy Resource Center. “See you inside.”

        The sticker says, Save The World. Abort Your Baby.


        “Sad how low our standards have gotten. Remember freshman year? When you’d decide who to sleep with based on their opinions on Proust or Degas?” Amory, Kyle’s backup best friend, pulls at her chopped-up hair. “Jesus, I need a cut.”

        “It looks like shit.” Kyle’s drinking root beer out of a Chick-Fil-A cup in the food court at the mall. “You should have let me practice on you.”

        Amory takes in Kyle’s multicolored faux-hawk. “You look like a Skittles factory piss party.”

        They met at Abotton University, 3 years ago. He sat in the back of an LBGT Student Union meeting, murderously hungover, giant knockoff Wayfarers obscuring the entire upper half of his diminutive head. To his right, Kyle heard an almighty snore, loud enough to jerk the source awake. A similarly bespectacled young woman, Amory, wearing a post-apocalyptic combination of random clothing. 

        “I can’t believe I have senioritis and it’s like a week in.” Amory peers out from under her eyelids. She looks bored, but then, she always looks bored. “How’d you meet this guy?” she asks. 


        Amory nearly comes back to life. “Be careful. I like Jeremy, but I wouldn’t get too involved with one of his friends. They’re rough. And Jeremy is, well.”

        “Alleged cocaine distributor and confirmed vigilante?”

        “He gave you a phone number? In 2011? Who does that? What’s this guy’s name anyway?”

        “Brandon. Brandon Murphy.” Kyle reaches over and takes one of Amory’s fries. 

        She laughs. “That’s bizarre. Stop eating my food. This guy Brandon, I think he cheated on Rebecca.” 

        “A bisexual cheater. Well now I’m definitely not calling him.”

        “I’m a bisexual cheater.”

        “Sweetie, I love you, but you’ve dated nothing but boys since last Christmas.”

        “I went on a date with that sorority chick last week.” Amory shrugs and picks up the tattered copy of The New Yorker she brought with her. “I gotta get back soon. Are you coming to Rocky Horror?” 


        Kyle finds himself in his own room, surrounded by stacks of half-unpacked boxes. His old wigs and makeup are thrown about, unorganized. He listens to silence for hours. If there was ever any feeling, it has been diminished. And with nothing to look forward to, the unbearable sadness makes Kyle take the slip of paper out from behind his phone and dial the neatly etched numbers.

        “Hello, this is Brandon.” The tone is round and clipped, a practiced phone voice.

        “Um. Hi. My name is Kyle.” His mouth is dry.

        “What can I do for you, Kyle?”

        “Well, I’m a friend of Jeremy’s. He told me to call you.”

        There’s silence, then a low exhale and the faintest suggestion of a laugh. “He’s trying to set us up, isn’t he?”

        “I know, it’s stupid.”

        “Nah, it ain’t.” Brandon’s voice has softened and code-switched. Kyle thinks he sounds African-American, then wonders if that’s racist, then decides it is and kicks himself for being racist. “I don’t mind the old-fashioned blind date. Where do you want to go?”


        What scares people about Jeremy is that he’s cruel.


        It’s been almost a month, and Kyle and Brandon haven’t slept together. When Kyle looks back at their dates (Olive Garden, the movies), they’re tinted just golden enough to indicate positive early relationship energy. Lovely, matte brown skin and a nice smile. Their shared abstinence establishes, for Kyle anyway, that it isn’t a hookup. 

        “It worries me,” Kyle says. “You understand that, right?” They’re drinking coffee at Abbey Road. No carrot cake in sight.

        “Yes. I understand.” Brandon rubs his well-cared-for chin. “And like I said, it doesn’t work that way. I like who I like, and I like you. Nothing else matters.” He reaches across and takes Kyle’s hand. The women at the next table cast shaded eyes their way.

        “My friend Amory told me you dated Rebecca Cole.” Kyle paused. “That Jeremy was probably mad about it.  I know it’s dumb, but it’s something to deal with.”

        “It’s really not. It’s a distraction, if anything.”

        A pleasing frission of tension runs up Kyle’s arm. The fact they haven’t slept together allows Kyle a modicum of hope. Although, Brandon convinced Kyle to let him suck him off after Olive Garden. Kyle relented only because he seemed so earnest. Afterwards Brandon thanked him, said It’s been a while since I’ve done that. 

        “Look at it this way,” Brandon says. When he’s serious his phone voice comes out. “I’m attracted to people based on personality and style. Physicality doesn’t factor into it. I don’t care if someone is a man or a woman or some in between shit. If you have something I like, I’m there. And you,” he half smiles, bites his bottom lip, “got something I like. All there is to it.”

        A few years ago Kyle probably would have asked, right then, if they could find somewhere to fuck. 

        Brandon looks out the window. “I don’t know Amory. What happened with Rebecca was wild. She used to party. Of course shit went down, you know?”

        “So you and Jeremy are cool.”

        “Jeremy doesn’t have to know everything that happened in his woman’s life. They got their own thing. And besides, that was years ago. You were still in high school. No one’s still mad about that.”

        Kyle nods. It makes sense. It is a sickness endemic to being in a scene, where people sleep with each other out of boredom and spite, trading partners with little concern for compatibility or feeling. 

        So Kyle, full of optimism, leans over and strokes Brandon’s cheek. “Okay, I know this is silly. But do you want to go to Rocky Horror this weekend?”

        The women at the next table get up, rustle past the boys with disapproving glares. The woman with the kindest eyes puts her hand on Kyle’s arm. 

        “I’ll pray for you,” she says, glancing at Brandon. Her hand is wet and hot.


        The preparations for Rocky Horror are a delight and a burden. 

        Ashe sits among a hodgepodge of mismatched stockings, fake tits, ratty wigs, Kyle is forced to admit that he’s past his prime. There’s simply nothing vaguely resembling a costume, or even a theme, among the various detritus he’s thrown around his increasingly messy bedroom. The more he looks, the more discarded he feels. 

        So with a sigh and a growing panic attack, he picks up his phone.


        “You’re gonna owe me for this one,” Amory says. She’s standing, slightly bewildered, next to a mannequin wearing a bustier and strapon. “I should be studying for Ethics right now. In fact, I am studying right now.” She waves her phone. 

        Kyle throws his hands, frantically searching through corsets. The associate laughed when they said they were looking for Rocky Horror stuff, correctly assuming that at this late date, 48 hours before the showing, anyone who would dress up already has all their shit.

        “I’m amazingly sorry, sweetie,” Kyle says. He didn’t bother to put his contacts in so glasses slip down his nose. “I told you I’d buy you Arby’s.”

        “What’s with you recently?” She flips through her phone. “Is this Brandon’s influence? Is he giving you pills?”

        “What kind of a question is that?” Kyle turns, holding up two items. One is a medium purple, the other black and embroidered with roses. “Which one of these makes me look more like Frank?”

        “Both make you look like a hooker, so just pick one. You’re not doing a character.”

        “I am absolutely doing Frank. I can tease my hair and dye it black. Call it a punk re-imagining of a punk icon.” He abandons the corsets and begins to filter through stockings. “What size do you think I am? My thighs have grown. Climbing all those fucking ladders at work.”

        “If you don’t dress up, it’s okay. You’re 23, there’s no shame in it.”

        “It’s a big deal to me, okay? I haven’t felt fun in years. I haven’t felt sexy in months, ever since you-know-what.”

        Amory puts her phone away. Her eyes bend down at the outside corner. “Is that what this is about?”

        “No.” He turns back to the wall. “It’s about having a good time with Brandon, then getting laid.” Kyle pulls a pack of spiderweb tights off the rack at random. “Come on.”

        His arms full, he stomps over to the register and dumps his purchases on the counter. Shoes, hair dye, condoms, lube, tights, corset, “cutlets,” they all tumble one upon the other. The associate bags them, scans tags, enters codes. She’s jovial but tired. Her weariness only heightens Kyle’s anxiety. 

        When the total comes he pulls his card and hands it over. Declined. 

        “Try again, please.”


        “Kyle. Come on.” Amory rummages through her purse for cash. “Let me help you out.”

        He brings hands to eyes, pushes up the glasses. The music on the radio switches to some obscure new wave song, and the unbidden memories return to the surface.


        The last time Kyle fucked, he was drunk.

        Sig Ep had this big 80s party towards the end of March. The weather was dragging its feet, wanting to stay in the flat Indiana freeze, but that night was hot even for an erratic spring. Restless in the record highs, students crossed the quad and walked the streets in skimpy party wear. 

        Kyle wasn’t supposed to be there — he’d dropped out the first week of sophomore year. But he had a new top, and Amory knew the door guy from Physics. He looked the other way when Kyle presented an expired ID, made no mention of the pocketknife in Kyle’s girl jeans. The door guy was this scruffy jock, too much cologne.

        “Enjoy the party,” he said to Amory. But he looked at Kyle.

        The magic of frat parties is that you never know anyone and can never find a drink, but you’re still hammered and grinding before long. And given Amory’s impeccable pregame techniques and suspiciously good cocaine, it wasn’t long before they were both moving from room to room, dancing with anyone who’d let them.

        It was only after several rounds in and out to smoke that Kyle saw the door guy again. He’d completed his shift, and was free to move about the house. Kyle offered him a sip out of a red Solo cup, which he accepted gratefully, not breaking eye contact as he drained half the liquid. The door guy handed it back and leant down to Kyle’s ear.

        “I don’t really drink,” he said. He smelled of garlic and Powerade. “But I got some pot in my room if you wanna smoke.”

        Kyle looked around for Amory but couldn’t find her. Oh well, she’d catch on.

        The door guy lived on the fourth floor, in a single. His bed was tiny, the room hung with red Christmas lights. Posters of naked women and male UFC fighters plastered the walls, a futile exercise in overcompensation. He’d have to be a senior to have his own room. Kyle could imagine three long years of furtive hookups before at last, privacy. The whole place smelled of beer, cum, and shame. The guy locked the door and rummaged in a shoebox. 

        “So are you a top?” Kyle asked him.

        The guy stopped, looked at him. “I’m not gay.”

        “Yeah.” Kyle laughed. “Me neither.”

        The door guy grunted as he packed the bowl. “Just trying to be friendly.” He handed it over.

        It was good shit, and Kyle, drunk and stupid, took as big a hit as he could, then sat on the bed. He kicked his shoes off and started rubbing his new friend’s belly. The door guy remained solid, but didn’t try to stop Kyle, just let him pick up the hem of his t-shirt, lean over and kiss him on the neck. At last he turned his head a little and let Kyle kiss him on the mouth. 

        Kyle took another hit before he went down on the guy. His mouth was too dry, and he struggled to wet it before giving up and asking for lube. While the guy searched Kyle stretched out on his belly and closed his eyes for just a moment.

        Okay so, he didn’t really fall asleep, but by the time he realized there was a cock pressing against his ass he also couldn’t move. And not being able to move and form a sentence meant that when the door guy penetrated him, he couldn’t tell him to stop.

        Kyle immediately filled with discomfort. It wasn’t that he was afraid, really. The enthusiastic and more sober man pumping into him was rough, but not too rough. It was just that Kyle didn’t want to have sex anymore, but he couldn’t say anything. He had to lay there as the guy pumped in and out, held him down by the ass. He grabbed handfuls of Kyle’s hair and pulled his neck up before pushing him back into the pillow. It occurred to Kyle that if he stopped fighting, went limp, then he could simply wait until this man was done and recover on his own, and this revelation granted some relief. He wondered if the guy used a condom. There was something strange about how the guy kept muttering and pressing deeper. It was like he was trying to get Kyle to do some of the work. 

        By the time Kyle managed to move enough to wave an arm and let out a feeble moan, the door guy was saying “Wait, wait, don’t move. I’m almost done.”

        Kyle was forming words when suddenly he felt a huge jerk as the guy pulled out, then a warmth all over his back. 

        “Shit dude, sorry. Got it on your shirt. I’ll get you a towel.”

        He unlocked the door and left. Kyle slowly came back to his body, pulled his pants back on, fingered the knife in his pocket and briefly imagined waiting for the door guy, pretending to be asleep. He didn’t need to see his top to know it was ruined. 

        Never once would Kyle try to define what had happened. He’d been okay with it, right? And the door guy wasn’t a bad person. There had been an error in communication, plain and simple. Odd things happen every day. Sex is messy, romance isn’t much fun.


        It’s the night of Rocky Horror. Kyle throws things in his room left and right, searching for an eyeshadow palette. 

        He didn’t buy anything at the sex shop. He just left, hyperventilating from tears, all but carried out by Amory. She had put aside her flashcards to make him tea, and refused to listen to his apologies.

        “Dude, it’s just a test,” she’d said. “I need to get you right.” 

        With nothing to wear Kyle has been forced to improvise a costume that would only count as one in the most limited of terms. He’s dressing as a “partygoer,” one of the anonymous dancers present during the Time Warp number who all wear some variation on a tuxedo adorned with absurd props. They have few lines and no tangible effect on the plot. 

        I’m going as part of the chorus. He pushes the awful thought down into his mind. Through great mental effort he assembles a costume out of an ill-fitting blazer and waistcoat, dark dress slacks. There’s no shirt in his closet or any of the piles that works, so he throws on a lime green tee before topping with the jacket, shoving a fake flower through the buttonhole. 

        Kyle gets a group text from Jeremy. 


        That’s all it needs to say. Everyone knows the time and place. Everyone will work their schedule around. There is no singular, tangible element to a Jeremy party that makes it stand out. There is only the unknowable sense of perfection that marks every great party, regardless of scale or cost. 

        Jeremy’s parties are cool.

        He does his makeup in the mirror, hastily covering up his bad shave job and ingrown hairs, racing to apply eyeshadow. Brandon keeps sending fretful texts. Kyle sends back one word answers. He steps away from his vanity and looks in the full-length mirror on the inside of the bedroom door.

        “I look like shit,” he says to the empty room.

        He remembers that an attractive boy is waiting for him, that he will spend the night with friends. These are the things that matter. They are the material for special nights that have been set aside. The red string lights return to his inner eye.

        He checks his phone. Buried under the group text and cross-talk confirming who will be at the party, there’s messages from Brandon. 

        I’m outside. Where are you? Are we still going you said you’d be ready.

        Kyle breathes deep, attempts to control himself. He runs outside, slamming his door shut. When Kyle gets to the car he looks at Brandon. “You’re wearing that?”

        His date sits in the Mustang, leant back in the driver’s seat, wearing a red t-shirt and Wranglers. After all that. “What took you so long?” Brandon asks. “Watch the seats. I don’t like dressing up.”

        “What’s the point in going to see Rocky Horror if you don’t dress up?” 

        “Because it’s a tradition. And I wanted to see you,” Brandon says, as he kisses Kyle lightly on the mouth, not enough to smudge the lipstick.

        Tonight, a boring outfit is anathema, a desecration of the holiday compounded by the effort Kyle has made. But there’s nothing for it. 

        “I guess it doesn’t matter,” Kyle says. “So long as you’re here.”

         Brandon grins. “That’s what I figured.”


        There’s already a stream of cars pulling onto the gravel when they get to the park. People pick their way towards the outdoor auditorium in stilettos, leaning on each other and almost falling, dreading the sprained ankle. Floodlights make every costume clear, the askew wigs, caked-on makeup, ill-fitting corsets. Everyone laughs and screams. Disorderly high-schoolers scoot about, roughhousing, their dirty sense of fumbling adolescent lust infecting everything. It makes Kyle’s skin crawl. Tonight is cooler than it has been, the chill of autumn finally coming into the atmosphere. Many people are wearing jackets over their lingerie. Kyle shivers and is briefly thankful for the blazer. 

        The box office is manned by a stern older woman.

        Through the gates with their tickets, standing near the top of the concrete stairs, Kyle scans the space below, phone in hand, Brandon’s hand at the small of his back, rubbing, the kind of hand that operates independently of the rest of the body. Kyle sees the back of Amory’s tattered black hair one section below and he runs down, leaving Brandon to jog behind, taps her shoulder, hug. Her costume is almost identical to Kyle’s.

        “He didn’t dress up,” Kyle says into her ear. “That’s weird, isn’t it?”

        “What?” she says. “Maybe. Come on, introduce me.”

        There’s a shriek. A big blonde girl grabs hold of Amory and pulls her into a hug. An enormous hand claps Kyle on the shoulder and he jumps, alerted, ready by instinct to fight, but it’s Jeremy in a Rocky costume, gold trunks and matching boxing shoes. 

        “Aren’t you cold?” Kyle asks.

        Jeremy cocks his head. “Why would I be? Nice to see you too.”

        The blonde is dressed as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, garter and corset, gloves and all. She clutches a black wig in her right hand as she holds Amory in a bear hug. The smaller woman scrambles to escape with amused, pleading gestures. 

        “Hey,” Kyle says. “Lay off, Bec. You’re going to kill her.”

        Instead, Rebecca brings him into the hug too. She’s a couple inches taller than him in heels, and twice as strong any time. 

        “This is going to be fun, this is going to be so much fun,” she says, then pushes him away to wolf-whistle at his costume. He strikes a half-assed pose while she roots around in her enormous purse and pulls out a Sprite bottle. “Quick, take a drink. I didn’t sew a secret pocket into this thing to stay sober.”

        Kyle takes a drink and passes the bottle to Brandon, who’s getting his hand crushed by Jeremy, a dark look in both their eyes despite their smiles. Jeremy’s much taller and his body isn’t nearly as good but at least he dressed up, thinks Kyle, and he’s annoyed with himself for caring because it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t really matter.

        Rebecca waves an arm in a drag queen-like sweep towards her boyfriend. “I made him dress up. He’s my monster. My big, scary, sexy, monster.” She turns to Brandon. “Where’s your fucking costume, man?”

        “I don’t dress up,” he says. 

        “You’ve never been any fun,” she says. She grabs his belt buckle and pulls. “Never any fun.”

        “He’s spoken for,” Jeremy says, pointing his chin at Kyle. “Isn’t he?”

         Kyle nods.

        The girls push their way into the row, Rebecca going on and on about her work, the events she’s putting on, all the boys and girls she’s pulled into her orbit, and they keep talking between pulls on the Sprite bottle.


        Not long after Jeremy returned to Indiana from New York in infamy, some fascists hung a noose in front of a buddy’s house. There was a police investigation, but given it was an isolated incident nothing ever came of it.

        The fascists, barely 21 and still stupid, couldn’t help but shoot their mouths off at The Pit. Unfortunately for them a couple hipsters overheard, and they told two friends, who told an artist that painted exclusively with products stolen from fast food restaurants. That artist told Rebecca, who told Jeremy.

        When Jeremy was done, one of the guys needed his jaw wired shut, and the other a titanium bar and six screws in his right leg. They both had giant, bleeding swastikas carved into their chests.

        Jeremy had wanted to castrate them. It was Rebecca who talked him out of it, who said it was enough that every girl those bastards wanted to fuck would have to stare at the hooked cross on their chests and decide if she could live with that pumping back and forth above her, until death tore them apart.


        “I am not going to the party alone,” Amory says, shifting her weight back and forth on the gravel, blowing cigarette smoke everywhere. “And I can’t not go. I can’t keep putting off hang time with Rebecca. So you literally have to go with me.”

        Kyle turns to Brandon. “Please? Can you?”

        “Really don’t want to,” Brandon says.

        “Well you don’t have much of a choice here,” Amory says. “You can’t abandon your date.. Jeremy has room in his car and he’s the only one that’s sober.”

        “I have room,” Brandon says. 

        Jeremy comes out of nowhere and puts his hands on the two boys’ shoulders, smiling. “I insist.”


        They’re the first ones back to the house, obviously, so Rebecca puts on some Portishead while Jeremy ducks out and changes into black pants and a white t-shirt and pours everyone shots of tequila, which Brandon doesn’t want but is too scared not to take.

        “Everybody drinks here,” Jeremy says. 

         They all sit around while Rebecca rolls a blunt and Amory drinks out of an enormous wine glass and it suddenly occurs to Kyle how boring every other day is, and how odd it is that this is a day set aside. And he realizes, the reason for the vow, seven months and counting now, is so that sex can be special again.

        The blunt is lit and Amory looks at it distastefully. She takes a shallow hit and passes it to Brandon. Rebecca kicks open a door right off the living room. 

        “Put your coats and shit on the bed,” she says. “It’s the shagging palace. Everybody fucks in here.”


         Rebecca presses a pill into Kyle’s hand.

         “It’s like a rainbow,” he quotes.

         She smiles and nods.


        The house is full, the music loud. Rebecca stands on the coffee table, spins around in the loose full length dress she’s changed into. No panties. Everyone is drunk, high or both. Everyone knows everybody, or knows somebody that does. They are in bands, tattoo artists. Everyone paints, writes poetry, is into activism, everyone has an opinion on Donald Trump. Two guys in the corner argue Joy Division versus New Order. Many wear costumes. Most don’t. The crowd is older and a lot of them skipped Rocky Horror, preferring the annual bash at Jeremy and Rebecca’s.

        “People say Jeremy killed a guy,” Amory says to Kyle, outside leaning against the porch. “People are stupid.”

        “What do you think?”

        She knocks on the columns. “I love these old houses. How the hell do they afford this?”

        “He still scares me,” Kyle says. 

        “He should. I need a place like this.”

        Inside, through the window, Kyle can see Brandon talking to a tall, pretty guy, who keeps grabbing Brandon’s bicep and laughing. He takes Amory’s wine glass. 

        “You need a haircut, that’s what you need.”

         “Stop drinking my wine,” she says.

        The party whirls inside. Somebody puts on “The Time Warp” and the coffee table gets moved aside so eight or so people can perform the dance, sliding back and forth, led by Rebecca. She laughs and barely even keeps up with the steps. Jeremy sits on the couch, fingering a bottle. She whirls and winks at him, and it occurs to Kyle that the roles have changed, if there were ever any roles to begin with.


        Brandon slams Kyle up against the wall in the shagging palace and it surprises Kyle since Brandon is so much shorter. His shirt is pulled up and he feels his dick harden. Brandon reaches up and kisses him, smearing the lipstick, past caring, It’s been so long, and Kyle is excited because this is it, the moment when he breaks his silly little self-inflicted dry spell and goes for it because he can, wants to, because this time it means something. 

        But they’re drunk and high and the room is strung with Christmas lights, just like it was with the frat boy. The man pressed against Kyle could be anyone, just another low-fat slab, and the depersonalization sucks the lust out of him as everything loses the temporary glow of the last few hours. In a very real way, he never left that room in the frat house.

        Brandon’s not even dressed up and his eyes are dilated. The whole thing feels trashy and wrong. 

        He pushes Brandon away. “Not now.”

        “You’re serious.”

        “Not like this, okay? I’m off tomorrow,” Kyle says. He touches Brandon’s cheek and finds some tissues, turning to wipe his mouth off in the floor-length mirror. “Let’s talk later, okay?”

        Brandon comes up behind him, wraps his arms around, grabs at Kyle’s crotch. “I want you. Why don’t you want me?”

        Kyle turns and sits on the bed. “Baby.” 

        Brandon doesn’t want an answer to his question. All he wants is release.

        He presses Kyle into the bed. Kyle tries to stay vertical, but arousal and drugs make him pliable as the smaller, firmer man straddles him and kisses, hard, working his way down his chest. Kyle tries to push as the hands rip his waistcoat and unbuckle his belt.

        “I’m serious,” he says. “I don’t want to right now.”

        But Brandon continues unabated, putting Kyle’s half-hard cock in his mouth, and while physically it feels fine the room turns gray. 

        So he lets his body go soft, figures that he might as well let it happen. Brandon flips him over and pulls down Kyle’s overpriced briefs, lays down on top of him, touches him with rude strokes.

        “I know you want me, baby.” Brandon slurs into Kyle’s ear. “I can tell, it’s been a while. Don’t worry about it, okay?”

        Kyle, he doesn’t even nod. There’s a few tears but he’s decided to dead-fish it, let Brandon get it over with so he can find Amory and creep home. A condom is unwrapped. Just enough spit so he doesn’t tear in half. Of course it doesn’t feel good. It’s exactly like it was last time, worse if anything. He’s unsure of why he ever expected things to be different.

        And then, a miracle.

        “I’ll grab your coat.”

        Jeremy’s voice. It’s more foghorn than mammal. The door almost flies off the hinges and light comes in. There’s a moment that hangs forever. Kyle turns his streaked-mascara eyes behind him, locks his gaze with Jeremy.


        “The fuck you doing, nigga?”

        Brandon’s weight is removed. 

        Kyle turns to see his lover, ex-lover now, held by the throat against the floor by one massive Jeremy arm, while the other punches him, over and over, mostly body shots. There is no rage. Just pure mechanical technique, a quick rhythm of jackhammer strikes. And for the only time in his life, Kyle sees true killer intent, the ability to cause pain with no consideration for the humanity of the subject. The horrid weapon of the masculine enemy, now turned upon itself. The audience at the door, they rush in to break them up, prevent manslaughter. 

        Rebecca, she just laughs. Like her throat’s ready to tear. Hollow, like a dead woman.


        The next day it’s far too warm and sunny for October. Kyle calls in to work. 

        “I realize that you don’t have to talk to me,” Amory says. She meets Kyle at Abbey Road so he can pick at a pumpkin muffin and brood. “But I kind of wish you would.”

             Pain and betrayal. Something else will have to change. 

        “When I say it’s not that big a deal, I mean it,” he says. “I’ll be fine. I am fine.” He adjusts his giant sunglasses and peels off some of the muffin top and chews on it. 

        “Are you okay? I’m not sure what to say in these situations.”

        Kyle has something important to tell Amory, but he can’t remember so instead he says, “I feel used.” 

        She reaches out towards him. “I am so sorry.”

        “Don’t do that. Pity me. I don’t need to be consoled. I just need time.”

        Amory sits back in her chair and pulls out a cigarette, tapping it on the table. “You’ve probably realized by now that I’m useless in times like this. So I guess, if you don’t want to be consoled you chose the right person to hang out with.”

        “It was intentional, I assure you.”

        There is a hard look in her eye, but she says nothing.

        “I think it’s time I broke the vow,” Kyle says. He looks seductively over the glasses at Amory and licks his upper lip. He must maintain the persona. “You know, I’m off today.”

        She throws the cigarette at him and laughs. He catches it just before it hits the ground. “Yeah sure, I’ll let you bend me over in the bathroom. Just let me smoke first, loosen up my asshole a bit.”

        The sun is finally setting when they go outside, throwing up the chemical-plant streaks of red and purple, and Kyle cups his hands around her cigarette so she can light it even though he doesn’t really have to. The frat guy is on a date at some dark little bar. Jeremy and Rebecca tumble on the dirty sheets in the shagging palace. The sunlight hits everywhere, one last good warm day for the year, and all over town monsters of every kind are bringing each other back to life.