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.