(c) Anel Viz
Keith Daniels had agreed to it under duress. His agent said it would be good publicity (as if he needed any more!), that the money would go to a worthy cause. It would enhance his image. “You always plug ecology issues,” he argued.
Keith countered that it was a tacky idea, raffling him off for a date, pure Bye Bye Birdie, that insipid sixties musical. What if the winner turned out to be a dog?
“Would that matter? The lottery isn’t about sex; there’ll be chaperones. In fact, so much the better if she is. It’d show your fans that at least one rock star isn’t a narcissistic snob. Anyway, it’s a double date and you’ll be in good company: Sarah Windham. Don’t forget the music video you get to turn with her.”
Whoever had come up with the idea had put together quite a production. Two of the hottest names in pop music coming together for a song called “Gotta Love Them Trees” that would top the charts, lottery tickets sold at a hundred bucks a pop for a date with each of them, a three-day Amazon cruise that would be filmed and aired on the Nature Channel, all proceeds to go to Save the Rainforest.
There were two drawings, one for men and one for women , respectively. No same-sex dates. To buy a ticket you had to show proof that you were over eighteen and unmarried. Despite all their politically correct democratic hoopla, the sponsors were appalled when it turned out Sarah’s number belonged to a widower in his mid-sixties. Sarah, whose enthusiasm for the project had never waned, was a good sport and phoned the man personally to congratulate him on winning. “He sounded very nice,” she told the reporters, “a perfect gentleman.”
Keith had fared much better, in fact, he’d lucked out. Jamie was a stunner, a professional woman of mixed race in her mid-twenties, poised, sophisticated, and as glamorous as a fashion model. The day after the results were announced, the tabloids ran her photo on the front cover billed as Keith’s latest heart-throb, with Sarah’s mousy widower tucked away in a small box in the lower right-hand corner.
From the moment they boarded the private jet and he took his seat next to Jamie, Keith felt ill at ease, and his discomfort grew throughout the flight. She was beautiful, she was charming, she was…
“A guy,” he told the project organizer directly after they landed, “a trannie. I’m sure of it.”
“Now what do we do?”
“I don’t see how we can call it off. It’d make us look like… like…”
“You’re absolutely sure?”
“We’ll have to get her…”
“…to sign a paper making him liable for millions if this leaks out.”
“And if he won’t sign?”
“We’ll plead the rain forest.”
“What good will his promise do us? Some people have to know about it.”
“How about you come out as bi? People don’t object to that in rock stars. They almost expect it of them.”
“Maybe he’s in the process of transgendering.”
“Does that make a difference?”
“Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit! Well, I’ll think of something and have a word with him.”
“No, I’ll handle it. You’ve made enough of a botch of things as is.”
If Keith didn’t have his image and career to worry about, he wouldn’t have cared. In his private life he was bi, but he wanted that kept secret. Of course there were rumors circulating – the price of celebrity – and he supposed some people believed them. Jamie must’ve, or he wouldn’t have bought a ticket, would he?
In retrospect, he thought the situation hilarious.
Victor Banis says: “I can always recommend books by Anel Viz … they are each of them so unique and so thought provoking that the discerning reader cannot but be glad to have discovered them.” Anel has been a regular contributor to Gay Flash Fiction and Wilde Oats since their inception, and his works have appeared in a number of other magazines, in anthologies, and as individual publications. He writes in many different genres, from flash fictions to four very long novels, as well as verse, prose poems, stories, humor, and essays. His novel P’tit Cadeau won a 2011 Golden Rose for best contemporary m/m. Most recently, he published a two-volume anthology of novellas and short stories, Horror, Dark & Lite. He is currently working on more projects than he can keep track of.