By Mistress Kat
I’m high again; higher than a drag queen’s heels, higher than the neon lights, higher than the sky that opens up, the rain plastering the t-shirt to my chest.
I didn’t mean to, but I didn’t mean not to either, so what does that mean? Try saying that ten times fast.
My face hurts from grinning and I can feel drops of water clinging to my lips as I duck inside the club, the bouncer waving a lazy hello. I’m a good customer, yes siree.
I have my own section of wall to lean on, hips cocked in invitation.
I’m on display.
I’m a one-man show.
I’m yours for the taking.
You don’t come here for relationships, you don’t even come for the good times.
You come to see and to be seen. You come for the music that makes your bones reverberate, for the blue drinks and the little pink pills and for the you wanna? and for the yeah, fuck yeah.
You come for the sex, and, ha, if you’re smart about it, you come inside a rubber.
Yeah, yeah, the joke’s on you; doesn’t mean you don’t find it funny. You’re gasping from laughter, folded in two like a fifty pound note.
And of course that’s when you see him.
He walks over, swagger and sweat and a smile full of teeth. He’s after that one thing and yeah, fuck yeah, he’s going to get it.
His hands are rough and calloused, a working man’s hands on a working man’s body, and man, he sure is working it.
He gets pulled into an empty stall, the walls gritty with dirt, but it doesn’t matter because the skin under his hands is smooth and whiter than the tiles have ever been.
It’s messy in the best of ways, sharp open-mouthed desperation and he hikes his legs higher, spreads them wider, and he loves it like this, he does, he does, he does, he—
—can’t remember the colour of his eyes, only that they were closed the whole time.
There is no number four
We will not leave together. We will not wake up in the same bed and argue over the morning paper while the coffee goes black and bitter from neglect.
Our breaths will not mingle under the covers, our socks will not get mixed in the laundry pile, our Christmas cards will not say and.
We will not learn from our mistakes and we will not share our hurts.
We think this is as much as we dare to ask for. We take no chances, we make no promises, we sing no foreign songs from the heart.
by Mistress Kat
(c) Mistress Kat
Time stops when you’re flying.
A day spent over the Atlantic Ocean is a not-a-day, an endless twilight, stretching across the sky like a shroud. It’s as if all life is suspended, contently awaiting judgement or resolution, the first kiss of wheels to tarmac that will kick-start everything once more.
The quiet drone of the plane permeates the air like smoke. Michael breaths it in, mouth open, eyes closed, skin aching.
Even after six months the craving for a cigarette is as intense as ever, clawing at the base of his skull and the back of his throat. There are empty spaces inside him now, hollow caverns no longer filled with nicotine and alcohol, white powder and blue pills; chemical dreams gone but not forgotten.
Across the aisle Danny is picking a tune on his guitar, a new one by the sound of it, and already there are words swimming in his head, shards of lyrics searching for the perfect refrain. Michael gets to his feet and stretches slowly. Whether it’s the music or Danny that pulls him the strongest, he can’t say. The two are so inexorably linked, twined together so tightly, that Michael can no longer listen to a song without picturing Danny’s long fingers playing it out, or write a line without wanting to see it surrounded by notes.
Everyone else is fast asleep, the rest of the band sprawled out across the seats like exhausted puppies, a group of stage hands and technicians unconscious around an unfinished game of poker. In the back row Claire is slumped over her laptop, red hair spilling out like licks of camp fire. Michael walks over and covers her shoulders with a thin airplane blanket, gently removing papers from under her folded arms. He attempts to organise contracts, accounts and tour schedules into separate piles, knowing full well he’ll get it wrong but that Claire will appreciate the effort anyway.
Danny’s eyes are following every movement and Michael thinks he’s smiling even though he can’t be sure, the shadows hiding Danny’s face from his view.
The momentary distraction dealt with, Michael gives in and folds himself in the seat opposite. Their knees are touching in the dirty yellow pool of the overhead light, denim brushing against denim. Danny’s fingers lift off the strings, coming to hover over Michael’s wrist in an almost-touch of always-welcome.
“Don’t stop. I liked it.”
“You like everything I play.”
Well, it’s true and there’s no denying it. They grin at each other in perfect sync and then Danny picks up the melody again. Michael lays a palm on the smooth wood, to better feel the rhythm, and it’s almost as good as touching Danny.
Soon he’s humming along, singing little segments of words, their measure and meaning understandable only to the two of them. The music rushes in through the cracks, cool and soothing like water on old burns that still linger.
Danny lets the final notes fall into the space between them, soft and perfect like feathers. His eyes are dark in the dim light of the cabin. “You think you can sleep now?”
Michael nods, yawning hugely. It’s gone quiet inside his head, wisps of the song fading away, leaving only the low-level buzz of awareness he always gets around Danny.
“Well, come on then.” Danny reaches over, grabs him by the arm, and yanks. In a few deft movements he manages to swap him over with the guitar, until it’s Michael’s head resting in Danny’s lap instead of the instrument.
It may be morning elsewhere, perhaps even as close as the next aisle where Ricky is clambering up, his size twelve boots stomping noisily toward the restroom, but in here everything is silent and heavy. Michael twines his fingers into the worn cloth of Danny’s t-shirt and lets his eyes drift shut, wrapping the smell of rain and skin and hotel detergent around him like a blanket.
Time stops when you’re flying, but he’s more than used to it. After all, it’s always done that with Danny.