A Night in Toronto
By Avery Boltwood
Three friends are dancing in a Toronto gay club: Sarah, Curtis, and me. Sarah’s here
for the dancing. She’s the straightest of our trio. And Curtis, too, is here for the dancing, but
he wouldn’t mind a casual encounter. I’m not here for the dancing. (I won’t say I’m
desperate. I’ll leave that up to you.) But focus on the club! Everything is happening here. It’s
happening on stairs, around corners, behind pillars. Boys are mingling upstairs, pissing in
the basement, snogging on the dance floor. The boys are ghosts—a mass of flailing
shadows, divided into silhouettes by unnatural lights. Blue and green lasers. Flashes of
strobe. Faces appear for moments. Lights flutter through the smoke. Tonight is a series of
Polaroid snapshots. Things happen suddenly, but fade in slowly—from black, from nothing,
for who knows what reason.
Who knows where my friends are. Three people are dancing in a circle: a boy in
suspenders, a boy in stripes, and me. Suspenders is attractive. Stripes and I are both aware.
We look at each other. We both want to make a move. Neither does. Oh, look. There’s Curtis.
He’s kissing a boy in polka-dots.
Suspenders and Stripes are gone.
I walk upstairs to the bar. “Can I get a vodka lemonade?” Back downstairs, back to
the dance floor. Curtis is still with Polka-Dots. Jesus, look at their necks. Think of the bruises
they’ll have in the morning. Back upstairs, back to the bar. “One shot of Fireball.” I glance
downstairs. He’s still with Polka-Dots. “Make that two.”
I turn around. I’m dancing with Suspenders. Tomorrow, Sarah and Curtis will tell me
they were stunned. Tonight, I’m making out with Suspenders. We take turns pulling away.
A breath of air. A bit of a dance break. It’s a queer sense of propriety. We can’t seem too
interested in each other. God forbid anyone should think we’re kissing each other because
we want to. We’re not kissing each other specifically. Anybody would do. (But not Stripes?
Maybe I’m round two.) I dive back into the kiss.
I’m sitting at Burger King, nursing a large Sprite. I vomited earlier. Twice. I vomited
intentionally though—with dignity, I like to think. Sarah’s waiting on her order. She got off
with a headache. Curtis is waiting in the car. He never mentions having a hangover. I don’t
see any bruises on his neck either. I never got Suspenders’ name. But we’ll never see each
other again. Sarah’s still waiting. When her order is ready, Sarah, Curtis, and I will hit the
road again. We’re still a long way from North Carolina.
It would be nice to know his name.