Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Apollo of Hérouxville (4)

“Do you have any idea,” Theo continued, “what it is like living with someone as impossible as you?”

The Head gave him a sneer, then turned to the boy. “Ray, let me ask you something. When you said I was hot, did you do it because you think I am? Or to make fun of me?”

The boy snapped a nervous glance at the man from Hérouxville, who returned it with a quick nod. “Because you are.”

“There!” the Head cried triumphantly. “You see?”

“Bradley — “ Theo started, then stopped, frustrated. “Well, Raymond, I hope you like bony knees…”

The man from Hérouxville jumped in before the boy could say anything: “Bony knees? How arch!”

“The snoring — oh dear god, the snoring. Will your little friend there like the way you snore? Go on, ask him.”

“He snores? Perfect! As it turns out, Ray here is an insomniac who’s afraid of being alone in the dark.”

“I’m not an — “

Fine,” Theo snarled. “This is all just too much. You think he’s all that hot? He’s yours. Take him. I give him to you freely. Bradley, enjoy your little mythic fantasy. For myself, I’m staying in a world where the concept of ugliness actually means something.” Without waiting for a reply, he turned and stormed out of the bar.

“I feel…” the Head began, “I feel like a monstrous weight has been taken off me. What… joy. Oh Raymond, how can I ever thank you for that! I must… I must ask everyone to come meet you! Now! Don’t move! I’ll bring them all to you!” With a happy little laugh, he happily skipped off into the darkness.

The boy shook his head in disbelief. “Would you mind telling me just what the heck happened here?”

The man laughed. “My. Such a night for your first time in a gay bar. I don’t think there’s anything more I can teach you, my boy.”

“But I’m not an insomniac!”

The man nodded. “He knows that already.”

“Sure, but does his husband?”

“Oh, most definitely.”

“This is all… wrong, all of it. I don’t want this guy! And he doesn’t want me — “

“No, he doesn’t. He wants his Theodore, just as Theo wants him. Right now, they see that. I daresay right now they’re looking for each other.”

“After what Theo said?”

“Even after what Theo said. It is what people in love do: they say spiteful, hurtful, very human things to each other, and then they apologize. And then they try to work it out. And these two, they will do this together because that’s who they are and what they need.”

“And where does that put — “

“You? By doing absolutely nothing, my dear little Ray, you have become nothing less than a god to Bradley.– and possibly even to Theodore as well. You healed the sick and raised the dead. Beyond that? I wouldn’t expect much: one does not approach, let alone touch, a god.”

“You’re as crazy as they are.”

“Quite possibly.”

“What is it with these stupid answers?” The boy slammed his fists on the unforgiving countertop. “This is all your fault! I came in here tonight, looking for just someone to, you know, talk to — and I wind up in all this… conceptual drama. Because of you and your stupid secret!”

“Ray — “

“Now I’ll never know if I’m telling some guy he’s hot just because he is or because I want him to be! It’s like… like… your damn Apollo. Big hot stud, right? Every gay man’s ideal, no matter what it might be! One size fits all! Yeah, well, some Perfect Beauty. I can’t touch him! He doesn’t exist! And even if He did, I don't think I'd want to touch him! Given the choice between him and… and that cute blond number standing over there, tell me why I should even bother with your Apollo.”

The man smiled sternly. “Now you ask too much, my little friend. Whether he exists or not, he’s still the Perfect Beauty.”

“You’d better explain that one to me, because that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

“Close your eyes.”


“Just do it, Ray. Do it so you can see Apollo. So He can tell you Himself. That’s what you want, right?”

“… Yeah.”

“Then do it…. All right, Ray. Tell me what you see.”

His eyes firmly shut, the boy shifted uncomfortably. “I can’t. It’s… it’s like trying to tell someone what colour sunshine is, what music smells like. I can see Him, but…”

“Keep your eyes closed. Talk to Him. Not me.”

“And what would I say to Him — You? You’re a god. I’m just… me. I have a pretty simple life, and it’s enough. Every day, when I get off work, I walk up five flights to my apartment. There’s a neighbour’s cat usually waiting outside my door, and we sit on the carpet in the hall and we talk about our day. Then I give her some tuna and pet her a bit and she leaves. I make some dinner and, if it’s a nice night out, I eat it out on the fire escape. It’s not much of a life, but it’s mine. What possible place could someone like You find in something like that?”

The man smiled. “Maybe none, because you don’t need an Apollo.”

“Well, if I ever find a Perfect Beauty, it won’t be because his head is one-seventh of his height and the width of his shoulders inspired the Golden Mean. Do me a favour, Apollo: take your perfection and go away. Please. Just go.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. Let me find a hot man on my own terms.”

“You realize, Ray, that once Apollo leaves you, He will not come back.”

His eyes still shut, the boy grinned, “Yes, He will, but in the man I want.”

(to be continued)

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