by Guilie Castillo-Oriard
“… And, be angered, puffs away from this, turning his back on the dew-dropping sun.”
The applause was thunderous. Mercutio was James’s favorite, Shakespeare’s masterpiece of wit, careless bravery, and utter disdain for convention. James sauntered through the theater after-party as if the sword was still strapped to his waist, as if he wore tights and puffed sleeves instead of slacks and shirt of purple satin.
He abandoned the pretty thing, starstruck at his panache and the credits he’d shamelessly dropped, and went in search of drinks. Women bored him; they had nothing to say. People in general bored him, actually.
At the bar he saw him. He was surrounded by enthralled listeners, the women arching their backs, the men posturing, striving for camaraderie. He wasn’t familiar; must be a newcomer.
James approached the circle, taking as his due the parting of the crowd, until he stood at the stranger’s elbow. His studied boredom faltered, then evaporated; the voice of the stranger was compelling, his gestures hypnotizing. A sun among lightless planets spinning senselessly. James could not stay away.
“Why are you following me?”
They were in the mens’ room. James lowered his eyes to the lather on his hands.
“Hey. I’m talking to you. Stop following me, creep.”
James was fast; he was at the door first, and the stranger’s look of annoyance melted into confusion then something else as he saw the thin blade in James’s hand.
Never turn your back, not on the dew-dropping sun.