As the crowd begins filtering toward the main cabin, Leon finds himself alongside a distinguished-looking older gentleman. His rumpled hair is silvering but still thick, and his slender frame is nearly swallowed by a snowy white linen tunic belted over flowing linen pants of the same blinding hue. With his hemp sandals, he resembles nothing quite so much as a biblical prophet, stepped straight from the sands of Galilee.
“Well hello, Leon,” Abner says as they fall into step. The two have little more than a passing acquaintance, but both have been to Mr. T’s parties in the past.
“Abner! Hey man, it’s good to see you. Hey, I think I ran into one of your students earlier.”
“Oh? Which one might that be?”
“Cute kid, kinda shy, talks a lot? Eli, I think?”
“Ahhh, yes.” Abner looks pleased. “I hope he didn’t bore you to death.”
“He was… a little over my head,” Leon admits. “He was telling me something about how he compares writing to other writing and then criticizes it?”
Abner snorts. “Poorly. I’ll be sure to chastise him for showing off.”
“Eh, don’t do that! I think I helped loosen him up a little.” They move closer to the cabin doors. “Anyway, I thought you were a poet. But you’re teaching him, um… comparative literature?”
“Well, of course, poetry is merely one aspect of the creative sphere of literature. We all have our individual areas of interest, and my role merely is to steer and shape and guide him in the pursuit of his passion.” Abner turns to survey the loose knots of men strung along the path to the cabin, looking for his contemporaries. “Eli’s focus is on comparative literature. Jerrod’s is on rhetoric. Rain,” he says with a tiny scoff, “likes to come to our meetings and try to convince us his lyrics have some deeper meaning for society.”
Leon bursts out laughing. “I was just talking to Rain. He was pretty happy to tell me about why disco is dead and he’s bringing on the wave of the future.”
“Oh, that pretentious little shit. What else did he tell you?”
“Well, again, a lot of it sort of went over my head…”
“Yes, that’s because Rain doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about.” Abner focuses intently on Leon’s eyes as he speaks, breaking gaze only to blink owlishly. “Listen, disco will never die as long as old fags like us are still around. Disco is our music. It represents the triumph of the gay man over the heteronormative oppression of rock and roll, the reclamation of dance as free expression of sexuality, a rallying cry by the marginalized in the face of the dominant paradigm that tries to keep us in the closet.”
Leon blinks for a moment, then pumps his fist in the air. “Hell yeah! Disco isn’t dead. Never let ’em tell you it is!” He claps Abner on the back as they move through the cabin doors.
“So, what else did our precious Rain have to say?” Abner starts to ask, but at that moment Chain slips up next to Leon and snuggles in against his side. Leon turns his head to give him a quick kiss on the mouth and wraps his arm around the boy’s waist, letting his fingers trail over the warm bare skin there.
“You found the angel,” Chain says.
“I think you just found me,” Leon says with a wink, but Chain ducks and shakes his head, smiling shyly.
“He means me,” Abner says. “He’s been calling me ‘angel’ all evening.”
“Because you’re a vision in white.” Chain looks up coyly at the poet through his thick dark lashes.
“I think you look more like a guru,” Leon puts in.
Abner gives them both a self-deprecating look. “I look like a poor old poet who dressed himself in his bedsheets because he can’t afford anything like these fabulous gold pants or this leather harness.”
“You look like a visionary,” Leon says, but Abner holds up both hands.
“Please, I can’t possibly accept such undeserved and gratuitous adulation,” he says. “I am but an aging relic, satisfied merely to be present among all this young and succulent flesh that old men such as myself may admire, if no longer sample.”
Leon can’t help thinking the poet is selling himself overly short, but the three of them have reached the serving table, and Abner assembles a plate and slips away to join the literary circle before Leon finishes fussing with his salad. Seeing an open seat with his son and their friends from Studio 54, he leaves the professor to school Rain about disco, and moves toward whatever the night holds next.