bagpipe, Altoids, bellboy, Jackson Street, salutations, stratify

by Lesa Soja

"Let's go for a walk," Chris said.

"No," Justin said.


"I don't wanna."

"You wanna sit here forever while the dirty socks stratify around you?"

"My mom will get them," Justin said.


"Fuck off."

"Hey, JC! Wanna go for a walk?"

"Walk?" JC said.

Chris groaned and went over to him. "Greetings and salutations," Chris said, wagging JC's jaw up and down. "You have a very nice planet here. Take me to your leader. - Walk, boys. One foot in front of the other."

"Oh, all right," JC said.


The night was warm, and Justin's neighborhood was solidly quiet. They walked down the middle of the street.

"What's up Justin's ass, anyway?" Chris asked. "Jackson Street Boyz turn him down for being too blond?"

JC frowned. "He'll get over it."

"Over what?"

JC kicked at an Altoids tin, the only litter they'd seen. "Nothing."

"JC -"

"Just leave it, okay?"

"Fine," Chris said. Their steps were quiet on the asphalt.

"Why'd you wanna come out here, anyway?" JC asked after another block.

Chris stood still and looked over at him. "So I could do this," he said finally, and put a hand on JC's ass and kissed him. JC got a handful of Chris's hair and pushed his head back.

"This is not a good idea," he said.

"Oh, for fucking out loud," Chris said, letting go. "I think I'd rather have the bagpipe saying aooga," and he stalked off down the street.

"Chris," JC said, following him.

Chris's shoulders were hunched forward and he wouldn't look at JC.

"You wanted Justin instead?" JC said, trying not to raise his voice. "You wanted Justin to skip down the street with you and hold your hand and whisper it's a wonderful night for a romance? 'Cause you'd be outa luck, man. Justin won't do that shit outside."

"Oh, yeah, 'cause you're the expert on -"

JC glared.

"Oh," Chris said. And then, "So what the hell, C. Justin's not here."

A car turned the corner and they stepped up onto the sidewalk.

"That's not the point," JC said, when the headlights had gone by them.

"Tell me what the point is, swami."

"The point is, you don't know what you want."

"Oh, but you do?"

"I know," JC said. "What it is. That I want."

JC's back was to the streetlight, and Chris couldn't see his face well.

"But," he said.

"Just shut up," JC said tiredly.

Chris put his hand on JC's elbow, slid it up to his shoulder. "You could just," he said. "Take a break, maybe."

"I don't think so."

"He wouldn't know."

"He wouldn't notice if I sent the bellboy over with an engraved announcement on a platter. Not the point, Chris."

Chris squeezed the back of JC's neck. "Justin has nothing to do with this."

JC stopped again and turned towards him. Chris could see his eyes now and they looked huge. He put a hand on Chris's waist and leaned in, and his lips were open this time. Chris dug his fingers into JC's scalp. He ran his tongue over JC's teeth and into the corners of his mouth and tasted musky bitterness there. A sigh pushed up through his lungs and he shifted closer to JC's chest.

JC pulled back. "I think he does," he said quietly.

Chris looked away. JC turned, and they walked back to the house in silence.