It’s impossible to just go for a nice lunchtime walk with Drin to a restaurant. He’s too tall, he just looks too authoritative. On his way out the door, people who know him at the Metro run up and chatter at him as he walks. But knowing him doesn’t matter, either. Out on the street, total strangers come up and talk to him.
Drin opens the side door, squints down the street. “Okay, sweetheart, stay with me here. We got the tourist crowds going here, all this nice weather.”
It’s nothing like the anonymity Dance is used to, trotting about with papers in his arms, just another small man in old sweatshirts and ragged tennis shoes. Poor ethnic people are never noticed, never acknowledged, in tourist areas downtown. Now, he’s getting stares just for being Drin’s companion. Get used to it, he tells himself.
In a four-block walk, five people try to stop Drin and speak to him. Nobody begs him for money, which is unusual for the area. Two ask directions. One asks about the parking meters, another about how late the city permitting office is open. The last one asks if he can figure out her income for her on her tax documents. He is happy to answer these questions from total strangers. But he doesn’t slow his leisurely long-legged stride, either, he just keeps walking. If they want to talk to him, they trot with him for a moment.
“Courthouse is about three blocks east. The records section charges a fee these days, though.”
“You have to pay for parking at that kiosk down at this end.”
“I think they close early these days, you could ask at any of the other city offices, or call them. Yeah, try that 411 call feature on your phone.”
“No, but you could get help from volunteer tax preparers who work with seniors at tax season workshops. Try calling AARP and getting a local number to call. Some of the local senior daycare facilities have workshops for the families, too.”
Dance watches, bemused. The way people come up at Drin in waves, and magically part for him to go through, seems just like Poseidon going for a stroll, or Moses parting the Red Sea, or something. Dance feels like a dolphin riding on his bow-wave. A slightly nervous one, given how oddly some of the people act when they approach Drin. They keep startling him.
Part of it is that he’s distracted. Dance tries to focus on them, but his gaze keeps drifting back to Drin. He has a hard time watching anything besides that lazy walk, the maddening planes in those soft, faded high-pockets jeans, and how the belt rides on Drin’s hips. The way the zipper tab glints in the light. That’s the problem with having a good memory. Dance tells the impatient little man in his own pants to shut up.
Drin gives a crooked smile at Dance, with a nod after the tax lady. “First time Bud Innes saw that stuff, he started calling me Mister Mayor.”
“How do they know our Drin has all these answers?”
“Same way you did? I guess I just got a bossy face. Hell, do I have auditor stamped on my ass?”
Dance peers at him, squinting in the bright light. He blurts, “Our Drin has a very fine ass.”
Drin’s eyes come round in surprise, and then he chuckles. “Well, now we know what you had in mind for lunch!”
Dance can feel his neck burning, his whole head heating in furious embarrassment. He tries again. “Not looking bossy to us– to me. Not knowing about auditor markings, but our Drin looks like a– like this big wonderful hot-looking bear rolling through these streets.”
“If you start calling me Daddy right in front of the Metro, I’ll have to spank you on the spot.”
“Promise?” Dance grins.
“Believe me, I’ve got much better ways of marking you in front of everybody as my sweetie.”
“Yes?” Dance asks, worried and delighted and apprehensive all at once. He doesn’t want to spoil it by acting the wrong way, if Drin surprises him with something.
Drin just gives that slow killer grin, and winks at him. The one that Emma calls his bush-rider grin.
Dance is delighted when Drin stops at a tiny hole-in-the-wall place. It’s a favorite cheap lunch place for Metro people, too, and Dance introduces Drin to those who look interested. Drin waves at folks, reaches out those long arms and shakes hands with those he doesn’t know yet. For awhile they’re talking to lots of people, shifting about here and there. Gradually many of the musicians drift out, obligated for a practice by the winds, one which Dance was told he didn’t have to attend. He may rejoin it later on, to keep an eye on things.
When he and Drin finally get to eat, they end up sitting outside under umbrellas just so they can hear themselves talk. The tiny chairs creak under Drin’s weight. They eat bowl after bowl of pho soup and untidy noodles.
Dance still knows he’s being watched. He feels constrained, gesturing while he’s trying to describe graphics for the next order of program guides to go out. “Yes, I think– Drin, what is it?”
“I’m distracted,” Drin says, looking up over the rim of his noodle bowl.
Dance hesitates. Would it be rude to ask, or should he–
“Here, you have a spot,” Drin murmurs, and leans in with a napkin, and gravely dabs the spot from Dance’s third-best rehearsal sweatshirt, sliding those freckled fingers up inside Dance’s collar and frowning at his work until he’s sure he’s got it clean. Then he slides his fingers up Dance’s neck to cup the back of his head, and he gives Dance a kiss on the cheek. And chuckles.
Dance looks up into the man’s eyes. “Bastard,” he says, with his train of thought a derailed wreck, and his whole being focused on the heat throbbing all over him.
Drin gusts another breath of warm air into his neck and kisses him again, and sits back, looking very satisfied. “Distracting?”
“Well, I’m done with work, even if you have to work on a Saturday. Is this where we decide if I’m going to disrupt your afternoon practices, or be a really good patron?”
Dance gives a tight little whining noise, breathing in tight short bursts. It is astonishing how much he wants the man he’s looking at. “Neither. I put things in a locker in the top floor green room.”
Drin’s pupils zoom out to huge black disks. “You’re sure we can–”
“I have a key.”
“You want to lock me in with you?”
Dance looks down, taking more short breaths. “Oh yes. Yes, I do. But not now. Not lunchtime, the office people notice, they laugh so much, telling stories. First break. Also, then our tummies must be less stuffed, yes?”
“So I can sit watching and torture you properly the whoooole time, and you have to behave.” He rubs one hand leisurely up and down his shirt, and he sighs like a man who’s eaten too much, which only emphasizes things. The upper slope of his chest, the arch of his ribs, the points of his nipples– all kinds of things.
Dance sighs. “I’ll be lucky if I make it to the restroom here before I–” he gives a helpless little wave of his hand.
Drin laughs again. “Talk to me about the membership mailers, maybe that’ll cool down your problem.” He gives Dance another wicked look. “Of course it won’t help me a bit, I love hearing you talk about stuff. Anything.”
“Drin, you are very naughty!”
“Oh, I am,” he agrees, and slurps up another noodle sloooowly, in a lascivious manner.
Dance groans. It’s going to be a long, horrible afternoon, especially if he has to waddle out hastily at every break. Walking back is the first challenge. He tries to think about what he has to deal with next, in practice, and that helps, but every time he looks at Drin, his penis stiffens all over again. Dance says crossly, “You keep giving me a hard-on.”
“Turn about is fair play,” Drin says, and leans back perilously in the chair, stretching his legs, planting his feet wide apart, and his jeans– Oh, indeed, looking at that doesn’t help a bit.