Jason had warned us to come early, that the club would make us wait well past midnight if we didn’t arrive early enough. I knew better than to doubt him; he has called this city home for years now, adapted so fully that even the parts of him that used to belong to me (dog-eared novels, Nintendo controller with the wonky joystick, sewing machine and too-small cardigans) have grown wild and strange. But Eliot needed me. Still, Eliot needs me.
I clench Eliot’s hand as the snow curls around our bodies, the men around us twisting their teeth and tongues at each other. We watch them in silence. Eliot, their mouths. I, their faces, but who would know me here? To whom would Jason have told about me?
Eliot tries to join them, but his accent is Texas-slathered and stilted. The men, adorned in leather and pink-chested in the cold, humor him.
“Tu le connais?” the men ask. Eliot turns to me, translating their question, his hurt, and I think of the guidebook he bought me, unopened in my backpack. The condom wrappers on Jason’s floor. The ring chilled against my finger.
“C’est mon garçon.” Eliot shoves his ring in their faces for emphasis, and the men laugh. That, at least, I understand.
Garçon – endless tantrums and constant demands. Never thanking he who packs your lunches, presses your clothes, says I love you when you don’t deserve it. Garçon – guilt incontinent.
“Mari,” the men answer. “Garçon is just boy.” Eliot laughs. Mari is, of course, the word he meant.
“I didn’t think it sounded right,” Eliot says. By now, Jason is inside. And warm, sticky with sex and the scent of it. He is probably on his third or fourth drink. He is probably surrounded by men throwing glances behind his head hoping to be caught. He is probably wondering if we followed his advice.
“It’ll just be another adventure,” I had told Eliot when I suggested meeting up with Jason. “Just one more thing we can say we did.” It took many conversations for Eliot to finally relent, and it took seeing him, so much more charming and soft-spoken than the Jason of my stories, for Eliot to feel at ease. When the time came, he took Jason readily, like I told him he would, and his face broke the way I expected it to. Jason has always known the frequency at which boys shatter.
I had hoped, in that manic state, that Eliot would finally understand my insistence on meeting with Jason, how even now I could yearn for him, but when we returned to our hotel room, Eliot had cried. I held him and told him it was fine; it was best to get it out of his system. We had to get to the club before midnight. Jason had said. Jason had said.
The smell of unwashed men wafts out the building as the doorman beckons.
“Guess it’s our time,” the men say. “Prêt, garçon?”
I paw at Eliot’s hand and smile. I hope that by the time the night is over we will be in bed together, in bed and drunk and happy. I hope that by the time he falls asleep in my arms he will forgive Jason. That we will wake up together and the light will slice our bodies through the blinds. And on the train home we will say how lovely a trip it had been, how much we had loved this city and its clubs and its men, and I love you. I paw at Eliot’s hand and smile, but the men have seized him by the arms and are leading him into the club and he is smiling. I think of him, alone, surrounded by those men and their language and their laughter. He needs me. Eliot, he’s always needed me.
Matthew Mastricova is a fiction reader for Third Point Press. His work can be found in Catapult, Cosmonauts Avenue, Electric Literature, WhiskeyPaper, and elsewhere.
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