Purple Haze

Chain and Leon part ways outside the Dark Room, Chain excusing himself to his bunk. Leon walks back toward the main cabin alone.

He finds Skye standing on the sidewalk in semi-darkness. “Skye?”

The boy glances over and blows out smoke from a joint. “Oh. Hey, Leon.”

The silence feels awkward. Or maybe that’s just Leon.

“You’re not… hanging out with the band?”

Skye rolls his eyes elaborately. “My brother is being a fucking pain in the ass. ‘Oh, Skye,'” he singsongs in a high falsetto. “‘You’re spending too much money.‘ I don’t see what the big deal is. We’re going to have a record contract really soon.” He takes a long, angry pull on the joint, then wordlessly offers it to Leon.

“Yeah?” Leon sips the joint, lets the smoke out without really inhaling.

A flush creeps into Skye’s cheeks. “Mr. T is very interested. He thinks I have talent.” A beat. “We have talent.”

Leon considers for a second. It’s almost too easy.

“Oh, you definitely do,” he says, and touches Skye’s elbow. “I could tell the moment you started singing. You bring Rain’s lyrics to life.”

He was right. Suddenly Skye is all attention, basking in the praise, his eyes hungry for more. “That’s what Mr. T said too.” His lips begin curving in a hint of a smile. “Hey, you’re in the music business, right?”

Oh lord, could the kid be any more self-absorbed?

“That’s right,” Leon purrs. “I know promoters. Publicists. People who can get your face out there.” He slides his fingers from Skye’s elbow down to his hand and tugs.

***

“Um,” he says a while later.

Skye looks embarrassed. “Yeah, um… I came a little while ago, so…”

His erection is fading again; he starts going flaccid any time Leon isn’t completely focused on keeping him up. It’s been nearly fifteen minutes, and things are going nowhere. Leon rocks back on his heels.

“We can just…” Skye shrugs.

“Yeah.” Leon gets up, brushes mud from his knees. They’re under a tree, and the ground hasn’t entirely dried from the storm that passed through the day before.

Skye pushes himself off the tree he’s leaning against and runs his hands over his own ass, dislodging bits of bark. “I hope these aren’t stained,” he says, craning his head over one shoulder. “Do you see anything?” He turns so Leon can look.

The pants are a black-and-white diamond pattern that fit him like a glove. Leon can’t help grimacing wistfully… Skye really does have a magnificent little ass. “No. You’re good, man.”

“Cool.” He avoids looking back at Leon. “Okay, well. I’ll see you around.”

“Yeah. See you.”

***

His son is coming down the back steps at the same time that he’s approaching them. Leon begins to smile; Diego stops cold in his tracks. “What the fuck was that?” The boy’s face is white, his eyes narrowed in fury.

Leon takes half a step back. Had Diego seen him with Skye? “What the fuck was what?

“That… that… that bullshit on the stage.” Diego flings one arm in the direction of the main cabin. “That… with Enrique. Just… right in front of everyone.”

For a few seconds Leon is too stunned to speak. His jaw works soundlessly. “I… yeah?” he finally manages.

It’s Diego’s turn to stare open-mouthed at his father. “So what the fuck was it?”

“It was… it was the show. I don’t… what are you so upset about?”

“What am I – ? Are you fucking kidding me?” They glare at each other for several more seconds until Diego explodes. “Everywhere I look, you’re fucking someone! I can’t go anywhere, because all I see is you and every fucking person at this fucking party!”

Leon shakes his head slowly and raises his hands in an open-palmed shrug. “… and?”

They stare one another down, one livid, one dumbfounded.

This time Leon breaks the tension. “It’s a party, kid. Public sex is what we do. It’s free love, it’s the sexual revolution.” He looks around at the surrounding trees and darkness; he can’t see anyone from here, but he’s certain that if he walked out of the firelight in any random direction it wouldn’t take long to trip over someone with their dick out.

Diego’s lip curls into a sneer. “It’s disgusting.”

“How is it disgusting? This is Fire Island in the woods! This is what Mr. T’s party is about!”

“I don’t want to have to watch my dad having sex with someone I did!”

That brings Leon up short. “Are you… are you serious? Kid, I’ve been fucking Enrique for a lot longer than you have.”

White skin flushes red. “It’s not – it’s not just him, it’s – you’re – ”

“I’m what?”

“You’re… you’re a whore.” Diego spits the word.

Laughter, harsh and condescending, bubbles up from Leon’s chest. “No,” he says, “you’re thinking of Chain. Whores get paid. I do the paying.”

“Yeah, well, Enrique said you only did it because you owe him money.”

Leon feels himself reeling. Enrique talked about him behind his back? To his own son? He takes a deep, steadying breath. “Well… so what? Why does it even matter why I did it? Everyone loved it!”

“Not everyone. I heard Fernando say that you know someone’s washed up when they’re the one giving the blowjob on stage instead of getting blown.”

Pain like a gut punch. The world seems to close around Leon.

It can’t be true. They cheered for him. They howled and whistled, clapped for Enrique when he took a bow.

“Everyone here thinks you’re a joke,” Diego says, his voice dripping with scorn. “I could hear them all whispering. They were all staring at me when you put on your stupid show.”

Leon’s walls come slamming down. He looks at his son and raises his chin, makes his tone cold and aloof. “Well,” he says, and shrugs a shoulder. “That sounds like a whole lot of not my problem.”

Speechless, Diego stalks back up the main steps. And once again, Leon walks away.

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