About three miles southeast of Pemberton steps in Bernal Heights, Travis Weatherford, a blond with stormy Nordic good looks and green eyes and he was well built, snorted the last line of cocaine from a mirror in his bungalow on Montezuma Street. It burned horribly at first up through his nose to the top of his brain zigzagging in the back of his skull like a swarm of butterflies. He cleared his throat and coughed, his eyes watery but his pulse settled, and he breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, a total sense of serenity came over him, the butterflies subsided, he was pleased and relaxed.
The world seemed normal again, at least in his head it was a world of rainbows and waterfalls and blue birds, and he smiled sitting straight up and perfectly still there on the sofa staring at red embers and ash burning in the fireplace when he remembered a handsome young man. An unforgettable young man full life and disobedience. His image coming to him in slow motion. They were side by side in a sauna room. 21st Street Baths. Even now he could still smell his sweaty body in the dripping hot steam, shiny and black, he wanted him as their fingers gripped, locked, and effortlessly their lips trembled with the eagerness of urgent sex.
It was a different kind of sex that embraced them that afternoon, inexplicable and not even gentle but frantic and extraordinary for him then and now, forever in another place or time.
The telephone rang and he turned his head staring absently at the end table hesitating before finally grabbing the receiver with his right hand. “Hello, this is Travis,” he said with a slight Texan drawl.
“Mista Weatherford, sar?”
“Yes, this is he. Whose speaking?”
“Ty-rone. Ty-rone Belin.”
“Tyrone?” Travis picked up his Scotch and Soda with his other hand and sipped. “How can I help you, Tyrone?”
“I is callin' sar, cause of momma sayin’ I oughta call ya since we knows ya’ll be friends out dere in Frisco. I is ‘e brotha, Ty-rone, 'ere en Georgia.”
“You mean, Clarence’s brother?”
“Then Clarence has finally come back to his senses and on his way from Georgia to San Francisco?”
“No sar, see ‘e cant calls ya.”
“I don’t understand.”
“M-my brotha,” Tyrone stuttered, “ ‘e dead, sar.”
“What?” Travis said his face white, and he dropped his drink in his lap. “What do you mean he’s dead?” He persisted wiping his crotch with his free hand until the glass slipped past his knee, he could not catch it and it hit the floor hard. “He can’t be dead," he muttered to himself out loud as one tear came down his right cheek. “I mean, what you’re telling me can’t be happening, can't be true-”
“Sar, we's buried ‘e dis pas’ Fridie,” Tyrone said.
"So you're just now telling me about this after burying him a week ago?" Travis snapped looking down at the glass by his feet. It had not broken and shattered into pieces like the terrible way he felt now. He wanted to scream.
“Lissen 'ere sar, we's all upset down ‘ere. Nobodies knows haw siq ‘e is wen e’s comes down ‘ere. It gotts ta de plac’ ware ‘e cant eat no mo! wit’ dem sores all in ‘e mouf en dem lesion sores all orn ‘e face ‘e bodi. Lordie, we be almosta ta scared ta touch ‘e. Doc up en Alicetown as scared ta touch ‘e ta."
"Oh my God," Travis choked up blinking back tears. “He went back there to die, didn’t he? When I thought. When I thought. Dammit. Oh, Dammit. What a fool I’ve been." Furiously Travis pulled his hair, gritting his teeth, cursing God under his breath. He did not hear Tyrone’s desperate stutters anymore. "I gotta go, Tyrone. I can't talk anymore. But thanks much, buddy. Thank you for letting me know about Clarence. My condolences to you and your family.”
He hung up the phone, shaken and frozen to the spot. He wiped his eyes. Then it struck, the painful aching, the burning misery. Long guttural wails echoed from his mouth as he screamed out his sorrow.
The pain would not ease, it kept coming, digging into his gut like a parasite. His head pounding as if it would split wide open any second. Blood spilling everywhere. He would be dead, too, like Clarence, like all those others he met in bars and bathhouses, Bueva Vista Park and Mission News, Golden Gate YMCA, Union Square Macy’s and The Emporium Market Street, had sex and swallowed never knowing their surnames and, sometimes not even first names but he always remembered the body part.
He smashed the mirror he had used to line cocaine, and then the lamp, leaving him weeping in the shadows of a dying fire.