In November he collapses on the stage.
He’s had dinner a few times with his son. Diego and Claire seem to have ended their thing, and now he’s seeing an NYU student named Jacques, someone he met through Eli. Leon schools his face to stillness when he mentions it, even though a part of him is relieved to know his son is still at least partially gay. Diego is thinking about school himself, encouraged by Jacques, and by Sorrento.
“So what are you thinking of studying?”
“I don’t really know yet. But I guess I can’t model forever.” He looks down at his plate. “Enrique says he can help me make some good money while I’m there, too.”
Leon takes a deep breath. “I know my advice hasn’t always been… fatherly.” Diego grins wryly. “But I wouldn’t. I really wouldn’t. Once you start down that road, it’s a tough one to get off of again.”
“That’s a little… pot calling the kettle black, isn’t it?”
“Call it the voice of regretful experience.”
They share a wistful smile, and Diego nods. Leon knows it it isn’t actually agreement, but lets it go.
Sorrento has grand plans.
“City council?” Leon tone is dubious.
“Yes! I don’t think it’s insane. First…” He takes a deep breath and sighs, his lips pursed so it becomes a long apprehensive exhalation. “First I bite the bullet and come out to my parents. They still think I’m dating Charlotte.”
“But then, man. You’ve got all this celebrity clout right now as an openly gay man. We’re gonna use that. If we rally a base…”
“You really think we could pull it off?”
“I think we gotta try. Even if it doesn’t work the first time… It’s groundwork, y’know? Let’s get out there and start making a difference. Let’s give it a shot.”
Leon thinks about it for a few minutes. “Okay,” he says finally. “Let’s give it a fucking shot.”
They clink bottles and drink to it, long and deep.
It’s been a rough few days. He’s had some kind of stomach bug, the kind where anything he eats seems to run right through him, so mostly he hasn’t. It’ll pass in a couple more days, he thinks.
The show is a mix now, the old alongside the new. They’re drawing bigger crowds, revitalizing the fan base. Sorrento’s intentions of cleaning up the drugs are going… less well; officially they’re banned, but he can’t search every pocket or watch every space. But it’s improving.
Which is why Leon stays in the back alley and takes a furtive look around before taking a hit. He’s just so tired lately. So busy. This will be the last time, he tells himself. Just get through this show, then he’ll find the time to recharge. He’ll stay clean for Rain.
He says it every time.
The audience still goes nuts for his new hit. They’re mostly gay men, after all. Who among them wouldn’t love a song about gorgeous men falling from the sky?
“It’s raining men! Hallelujah! It’s raining men, amen! Tall, blonde, dark and lean, rough and tough and strong and mean.”
Rain is out there. He’s not at every performance anymore, but he is tonight. They’ll go back to Leon’s place after this. Between their schedules there’s hardly been time for sex lately, and his thoughts keep wandering into anticipation, imagining the taste of his lover’s skin.
“It’s raining men! Hallelujah! It’s…”
The walls suddenly recede, and his body flushes icy cold. His own voice comes to him as a distant muffled sound, someone else singing as he sinks underwater. He tries to shake his head and stumbles as ringing fills his ears.
The mike falls from nerveless fingers. Feedback squeals, and the music stutters to a ragged halt as the players all cut off at different times. One stands up. “Leon?”
His vision fills with stars, then blackness like the closing of an iris.
He never feels himself hit the floor.
“It’s Raining Men” © Paul Jabara and Paul Shaffer, 1982. Used without permission.