Leon’s Song

Abner finds him by the river, staring into the water and furiously smoking a cigarette.

“Ahhh.” He steps up behind Leon with hands clasped behind his back. “I’ve always found the babble of a brook clears the mind. Leon,” he says abruptly, “You have the look of a man in a state of distress.”

“Are all poets this observant?”

This gets a light chuckle from Abner. “I most graciously accept your jibe about my powers of vigilance,” he says in a voice that wears self-deprecation like a scarf: an accessory that can be added or removed at his whim.

“However,” he continues, “even a poet as self-absorbed as myself cannot miss that you shouted down your son before stomping into the woods and sucking on that cigarette as if it were an especially young and delectable penis.” He steps up and turns to face Leon, his white garb glowing in the moonlight. “So tell me your troubles, and I’ll give you this old poet’s poor but well-meaning advice.”

Leon drops the cig and grinds it out with the heel of his shoe. “Is everyone laughing at me?” He doesn’t look at Abner.

In his peripheral vision he registers the poet’s surprise. “Certainly not! Not that I’ve seen.” A beat. “Why?”

“Diego.” He finally turns incrementally toward Abner. “He was upset about people staring at him during my part of the show. Embarrassed about seeing me suck a cock in front of everyone.”

“That boy,” Abner says emphatically, “needs someone to loosen him up. Look, didn’t you hear them cheering?”

Leon nods miserably.

“Someone out there will always criticize you,” Abner says. “But fuck ’em. No, really, listen to me.” He grabs Leon by the arms. “Fuck. Them. You think I haven’t gotten my share of hate? My share of ridicule? You and I have been fighting homophobia all our lives. Me through writing. You through music.”

Leon just keeps nodding.

“You’ve been an inspiration to me. The courage you had to be so flamboyantly gay, right in the public eye. I even…” He trails off, and if Leon didn’t know better he’d swear the man blushes. “I used to dream of meeting you. Of knowing you.” He emphasizes the word meaningfully.

Maybe… maybe he’s still got it after all. Leon reaches his own hand up to cover Abner’s arm as the poet still holds him by the shoulders. “Used to?”

Abruptly Abner drops his hands and takes a step away. “Oh,” he sputters. “I’m flattered, truly, but I’m afraid I just entered into a relationship.”

Disappointment slumps Leon’s shoulders, but at least it’s a rejection with a reason. “Oh, I see.” He does his best to smile. “Who’s the lucky man?”

“My student, Eli.”

“The kid I gave a handjob to on the porch earlier? I guess it must be very recent.”

A look something like relief crosses Abner’s face, and Leon thinks, Push. He closes the gap between them.

Suddenly a voice rings out, carrying from the main cabin. “Hey everyone! LEON SUCKS!”

They both whirl toward it. “What did he just say?” Abner begins striding toward the cabin. “That little shit. I’ll fight him, I swear.”

It’s not really that far away, and the figure’s white hair and black clothes are unmistakable. Rain. Leon’s heart drops into his shoes. Diego must have spoken to him.

“Come on!” Rain shouts again. “They’re playing Leon’s song!”

Leon’s song. He realizes his mistake, and his body floods with relief so palpable it weakens his knees.

“Oh!” Abner stops short. “That was not what I heard the first time.”

“Me either.”

“I was afraid I would have to go kick his ass,” Abner says. “Doubtless I would have come out the worse for the encounter, but I still would have gone down swinging for the worthy cause.”

Rain shouts once more. “Everyone! Get the fuck in here and dance!” He disappears into the cabin.

Abner grins at Leon. “I suppose we’d best get the fuck in there and dance.”

“Guess so.” For once, he says it with a smile.

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