Categories
Art EVENT Fiction Issue 3 Prose

Three Steaks and You’re Out

“once you have the steak at Peter Luger you’ll want sex.”

By Schuyler Bishop

On their way to Peter Luger Steak House, with its juicy tenderloins and creamed spinach so rich it can stop your heart, Eyal and Kobe, handsome young men still on Tel Aviv time, take in the lights of lower Manhattan. They’re with Eyal’s gray-haired friend Harry on a half-filled J train, inching across the Williamsburg Bridge. Staid Harry, who’s 57, feigns interest in the magnificent view, but he’s thinking about Andrew, the mad passion of his life. Though Andrew moved out six months before, until a few weeks ago, when he started having a threesome with two architects, he was in constant contact with Harry, and there’s a chance Andrew might also be at the restaurant, with his mother and stepfather.

The train stops. Harry clears his head and looks past Eyal at Kobe, who’s blond, solid and handsome, a career officer in the Israeli army. “I was sorry to hear about your mother.”

“Thank you.” Kobe nods slowly into a darkening grimace. For more than a year he took care of his dying mother, who, since they were boys was very much a mother to Eyal as well. The New York trip is Eyal’s attempt to give Kobe a break. Harry and Eyal have been friends since they met in Amsterdam ten years before, when Eyal was 21, and though Eyal constantly tries to get Harry to join him in Barcelona, Berlin or Cape Town, they see each other only when Eyal comes to New York, three or four times a year. As always, Eyal’s expecting to pay for tonight, but Harry stuffed a wad of cash in his Levi’s, knowing Peter Luger doesn’t accept cards, the only currency Eyal carries. Wearing jeans makes Harry feel he’s betraying his WASP upbringing, but he dressed down knowing Eyal and Kobe would be in those fashionably shredded jeans, which they are.

Changing to what he hopes is a lighter subject, Eyal says, “So, Harry. You still see Andrew?”

Harry’s shoulders slump. He shakes his head. For Kobe’s benefit, Harry leans over Eyal, “Two weeks ago Andrew came and took everything he’d left behind. He won’t even reply to my emails.”

Eyal rolls his eyes. He’s determined to make this trip fun.

 “I’m sorry to hear,” says Kobe.

“I tell you, Harry,” says Eyal, “you just got to forget him. Andrew’s doing what twenty-one-year-olds do.”

“I’m trying, Eyal. But I can’t stop thinking about him.” Eyal, resigned, sits back so Kobe can hear. “I go to movies, I wish he was there. I read books, all the time I stop, think, Oh, Andrew would love this. I read his horoscopes. All day he’s in my mind. And then at night, it’s, What’s he doing? And I try to figure it out.”

“Harry, he’s gone.”

Kobe shakes his head at Eyal’s insensitivity. “Eyal says he’s never seen anyone so in love as you two.”

Wistfully, Harry says, “I’ve never been so in love. Or so loved. Like I’d be at my computer, and he’d come over and put his hand inside my shirt, just to touch me. All the time. We couldn’t keep away from each other. Walking down the street we’d hold hands, not to show off. We couldn’t help it. And it wasn’t a Daddy thing either. It was the most equal relationship I’ve ever had.”

Kobe leans in and says, “You were married for ten years, yes?” Harry nods. “And then there was Kevin, whom I met. You were with Kevin for many years.”

“Seventeen,” says Harry.

“For how long were you with Andrew?”

“Nearly a year. Two weeks after we met we were living together. He’s the young man I’ve wanted since I was fourteen.”

“I know it’s tough, Harry, but you must forget him.”

“I’m trying, Eyal. I just booked passage on the Queen Mary 2. New York to Southhampton. A gay transatlantic crossing.”

Eyal snickers, “Sex all day it sounds to me.”

Kobe shakes his head, the antidote to Eyal. “I’m sure it will be very elegant.”

Eyal accedes. “That’s good, Harry. The kind of thing you should do.”

Kobe smiles. “And maybe you’ll meet someone.”

“I’m hoping. I’ve got to do something. You never met Andrew, did you, Kobe?”

“No, I’m sorry I didn’t.”

“He has the most expressive face I’ve ever seen. He’s handsome, but in an odd way. Like a young Jimmy Stewart. Incredibly bright.”

“And so thin,” says Eyal. “I love those thin boys.”

But Andrew’s not just another thin boy; Harry wants to do justice to Andrew’s story, but it’s too complicated to tell on the subway. Inspired by The Teenage Liberation Handbook and a year and a half as a total pothead, Andrew dropped out of high school, sure he could get a better education for himself. He volunteered to work on a gubernatorial campaign and so impressed everyone that after only two 60-hour weeks he was made a paid staff worker. Andrew humped, the candidate surprisingly won, and Andrew was rewarded with a desk, a shared office and a responsible job in the Maine statehouse. At the age of 16. But after a year of working in Augusta, he realized three things: politics wasn’t for him; he had a passion for David Hockney; and a high school dropout wasn’t going anywhere. Andrew started saving his money and, in addition to his statehouse job, worked weekends as a busboy in a restaurant in Portland and got his high school GED. At 20, with no parental support, he set off for New York City to take summer classes and, he hoped, enroll as a full-time student at NYU. That autumn he and Harry met. Lived blissfully together for a year, until Andrew was accepted at NYU, wanted to live on his own.

“And you met on Craig’s List?” asks Kobe, his voice rising to a high-pitched List.

“We did. We met for sex, but it was love at first sight.”

“You believe in love at first sight?”

“I do. And it’s not like it happens every week. Just five times in my whole life, including Andrew.”

 “I fall in love at first sight too,” says Eyal. “Nearly every night.” Eyal’s dark hair is gelled and fashionably cut. He’s not classically handsome, but he has some sort of lupine sex thing going on that makes him incredibly attractive; on the street, young men and women constantly stop him, to talk, touch and, they hope, have sex with him. “Well,” he says, wanting to put the subject to rest, “at least you can say you had him.”

“Doesn’t help.” Harry connects eyes with Kobe. “For Eyal, the answer to everything is sex.”

“Sex and more sex,” says Kobe. “But it doesn’t help me the way it helps him.”

Eyal says, “You could have had the steward.”

“I wanted to sleep. So I wouldn’t be jet-lagged.”

“The way to get over jet-lag is sex. But don’t worry: once you have the steak at Peter Luger you’ll want sex.”

“Eyal is crazy,” says Kobe. “What are you talking about?”

“You never noticed, Kobe?” Eyal puts a hand on Harry’s leg, looks him in the eyes. “Harry, you know that, don’t you? You eat steak, you want sex, you want sex, you want sex.”

Harry and Kobe laugh, say at the same time, “But you always want sex.” Laugh again. And Kobe says, “How can you tell Eyal?” The old woman across from them has given up all pretense of discretion and is leaning toward them with her ear cocked. Nearby conversations have stopped as the passengers listen intently.

“No, really,” says a humble Eyal, looking now at the floor. “Eating steak makes me want more sex.”

“I didn’t know that was possible,” says Harry. “But this is our stop.”

“Marcy, yes,” says Kobe. They step onto the elevated platform. The night’s warm, not a breath of the vaunted March winds. The only exit they see is a single, cramped, revolving grinder gate. Kobe and Eyal stand with a dozen other people. Harry sneaks through but then waits on the dark landing while the Israelis politely wait their proper turn and come through after everyone else. As Kobe exits the turnstile, Harry says, “I figured Andrew left me because I was too old. His new lovers—”

Kobe is incredulous. “Lovers, plural?” his voice rising to the final l.

“One’s fifty-five, the other’s fifty-eight.”

“Wait, wait, wait. Andrew is having a threesome?”

“A threesome.” Harry loves how precisely the Israelis speak English. But he can’t help himself: “And who knows, you might get to meet Andrew.”

Kobe’s voice rises to a squeak: “Andrew’s going to join us at Peter Luger?”

Harry shakes no. “He might be there with his mother and his stepfather.”

 Eyal’s eyes bulge. “No, really? I hope not.”

 “Wait,” says Kobe. “I think I lost part of this story. Andrew has two lovers?”

“Yes. He hooked up with these two architects online.”

Eyal and Kobe lapse into their gutteral Hebrew, which they emphatically speak until they reach the sidewalk, when Kobe switches in mid-sentence to English, says, “So now Andrew has two lovers?”

“Very well known architects. A-list gays. They have the best apartment, well, loft, I’ve ever seen.”

 Kobe’s voice rises: “You’ve been there?”

 “Years ago. A fund-raiser. The whole top floor of this beautiful building. One of them had a thing for me.”

“I don’t care about these architects,” says Eyal. “You said Andrew’s mother might be at Peter Luger?”

Harry smirks, nods. “Last month Andrew told me his mother and stepfather were coming to New York this weekend. His stepfather was dying to go to Peter Luger’s. I told him he’d better make reservations fast.” Harry’s shoulders slump again. “That’s when we were still talking. I thought we were going to work it out, until he met Mark and Matthew.”

Kobe’s voice rises to squeak: “And his mother knows they have threesomes?”

“No, no, God no. They don’t even know he’s gay. His mother and stepfather are some sort of fanatical Catholics. They do missionary work in China, India, Africa…. Andrew wanted us to meet. Thought he could say I was one of his professors.”

 “That must hurt you,” says Kobe.

 “It does.”

They walk on, cross desolate streets, avoid puddles, Harry deep in his hurt. Kobe says, “It’s very bleak this part of the city. Are we going in the proper direction?”

“There it is, right up there,” says Harry, pointing to the lighted doorway half a dark block away. He knows no steak can fill the emptiness rising up from his gut. Two Lincoln Town cars pull up in front of Peter Luger’s. The four back doors pop open at the same moment, and there’s Andrew, stepping out the curbside door of the first car, into the light, animatedly laughing as he stands to his full height.

“Oh shit,” says Harry

“Isn’t that Andrew?” Eyal asks quietly.

Kobe catches his breath. “That’s Andrew?”

Harry nods, says, “That’s Andrew.”

Tall, thin Andrew, dressed in a jacket and tie, offers his hand and graciously helps his mother out of the car. Andrew’s stepfather is out the street-side door, slams it. But then he waves to the man who got out of the car behind theirs. Harry is perplexed. Then, squinting, adjusting his glasses, he realizes the two old men in the car behind Andrew’s are not just any old men. “Oh my God,” he says. “It’s Mark and Matthew.”

Kobe says a little too loud, “His lovers?”

Harry is panicking. His heart races, his breath shortens. “I don’t know if I can do this.”

Turning Harry by the arm, Eyal says, “Come on. Let’s go back to the subway.” Harry lets Eyal turn him, but then swivels back, wanting to see.

“Eyal,” says Kobe, pleading. “We have reservations.”

“We can’t go in there, Kobe.”

A flurry of jabbing Hebrew interspersed with “Peter Luger” and “subway” and “Harry” and “Andrew” and “reservations” quietly fly between the two old friends, then Kobe switches to English and says, “Let me just go cancel, so if I want to come back some time I can.”

“You sure?” Eyal still holds Harry’s arm. “We can go someplace else.”

“I can cancel the reservations,” says Kobe.

“No,” says Harry. “Fifteen times Eyal’s told me how excited you are to eat here. I can do this. Just give me a minute.”

Andrew’s mother and stepfather enter the restaurant and the two old men crowd around Andrew. One of them says something, and Andrew’s chirping laughter pierces the night—and Harry’s gut. Then one of them grabs Andrew’s butt and ticklish Andrew squeals and jumps, as he did so often when Harry grabbed him. Coyly, Andrew admonishes, “Mark. Stop that.” And they go through the front door.

Harry breathes deep, closes his eyes, imagines a river, uses every relaxation technique he knows to calm down. And it works. As they enter Peter Luger, Eyal says, “Harry. Don’t look for them. Just let’s enjoy our steaks.”

“Yes, I’m famished,” says Kobe.

“I’ll be okay,” says Harry.

“This is very nice,” says Kobe. He turns to fully take in the long wooden bar on the left, which was original to the steakhouse. Harry likes the bar, but, as always, he’s surprised at how cheesy the rest of the place seems. The tables are right, and some of the walls seem authentic, but the acoustic-paneled ceiling ruins it. And the chandeliers look more Home Depot than converted gas. If only someone would spend a few bucks. But the steaks, well, they’re worth the trip.

Kobe gives their name, and Harry takes a not-so-discreet gape into the room on the right, to see if he can see Andrew, but there are so many tables and he’s so anxious he can’t really focus and the diners are just lumpy blurs. Forget Andrew, he says to himself. Just relax. He takes a deep breath, thinks, I’ll come back later and go to the bathroom. He puts a hand on Eyal’s back, trying desperately to come back to the moment. Eyal turns and smiles, says, “We’re going to have fun.”

They’re led to the back, not to the main part on the left, where they seat the celebrities, but straight ahead to the nook by the kitchen. Harry goes to sit so he’s facing the room, but Eyal stops him, says, “No, Harry, you sit over here with me.” As he circles the table, Harry looks again for Andrew, but there’s too much activity, too many people. He sits facing the kitchen, and Eyal puts an arm around him, the kind of thing Eyal does all the time and which always surprises Harry. “Better we face away from the people, so we don’t look.”

“You’re right. But don’t you want to see the people.”

“I want to sit over here with you.”

The ancient, white-jacket waiter who approaches their table is polite, if brusque. “Good evening, gentlemen. Do you know what you want?”

“Thank you,” says Kobe. “Three Beefeater martinis. Straight up. And menus.”

“You need menus?”

“Yes, we’d like to see menus.”

The waiter nods. Departs.

Kobe says, “Did he think we wouldn’t want menus? People don’t look at menus here?”

“Just this place,” says Harry. “They expect you to know what you want.”

“I like looking at menus.” says Kobe. He gingerly picks up his thick wood-handled steakknife. “If the steak here you can cut like butter, why do we need a knife like this?”

The waiter returns, hands each a menu. Departs. Kobe thanks him, too late, and after opening and reading his, says, “What kind of menu is this: steak for 2, steak for 3, steak for 4?”

Eyal sees Harry’s shoulders slump. “Harry, are you okay?”

“I’m fine. Better I sit facing this way.”

Wanting to divert Harry’s attention, and knowing how he can always get Harry going, Eyal, who loves and knows more about American politics than most Americans, says, “Can you believe what’s going on here in America now?”

“I thought it couldn’t get any worse. Money, money, money.”

“American democracy,” says Eyal. “How do they get away with it?”

“Well, that’s what deTocqueville said would be the downfall of America.”

“Who is this de Tocqueville?”

“A Frenchman who toured America in the 1830s and in one trip figured out everything about us and our politics.”

“I like French boys,” says Eyal. Kobe couldn’t care less about French boys, de Tocqueville or democracy in America. He keeps reading the menu, turning it to make sure that’s all there is. Shakes his head, interjects tidbits into their continuing political conversation: “I heard the tomatoes and onions are not worth the money.”

Harry nods in agreement. “They’re always incredibly disappointing.” Kobe slathers an onion roll with butter, salts it and scarfs it down. “Oh, delicious!”

As their martinis arrive, Harry and Eyal are on to Europe. No, they’re not quite ready to order. They lift their stem glasses. “Cheers.” The martini is perfect, cool, biting, with just the hint of olive.

“I’ll be back in a minute,” says the gruff old waiter. “You look at your menus, decide what you want, then tell me.”

Harry swigs his martini, sighs with satisfaction, says, “Steak for three, right?”

Kobe says, “Unless you want the filet.”

“No, you don’t want the filet here,” says Harry. “The porterhouse. That’s what they’re known for,” though he doesn’t want to say that the recent reviews have not been good. The waiter returns, they order steak and more martinis. They go on about this and that, but all Harry’s really thinking about is Andrew. How he wishes Andrew and his mother were across from him. Wishes Andrew was grabbing his knee under the table, as he always did.  

Pleasantly buzzed, Harry turns to say something to Eyal and sees Andrew returning to his table, obviously from the bathroom. Their eyes meet for a moment, and Andrew rears in panic, retreats quickly to his table. Eyal puts a gentle hand on Harry’s arm, turns him back. “So, now you’ve seen him and he’s seen you. As I was saying….”

Their second martinis arrive. Harry takes a slug and excuses himself to go to the bathroom. Just by the maitre d’s station, he turns, tries to focus on Andrew’s table. The maitre d’ gives him a look. He thinks I’m a stalker. His shoulders shiver, he turns quickly to the bathroom door. I am a stalker.

While peeing into the urinal, he says quietly, “What am I doing?” Then he washes his hands and after taking in his sagging features, says to his mirror image, “I’m pathetic.” He rinses his face with cold water and, sotto voce, sings, “I’m gonna wash that man right outta my hair.”

Returning to his table, he sees Andrew’s back, nestled between Matthew and Mark, across from Evelyn. Tom, her Asian husband, who takes off from his emergency room doctor job to spread the word to the world, sits to her left, on the wide aisle, across from Mark.

The steak arrives, already sliced, and the white-jacket waiter places the platter on an inverted saucer so the juice pools to one side. He spoons creamed spinach onto their plates, then disappears, and Harry picks through the bloody meat, looking for a medium slice. The steak is so tender Kobe cuts it with his fork, just to say he could, and so bloody it disgusts Harry. Harry digs into the spinach, and thinking of Popeye’s “I’m strong to the finach,” he shovels creamed spinach into his mouth. It’s so good he forgets Andrew even exists, savors every bite.

But then the room quiets and Harry hears Mark’s squeaky voice say, “You were on the Queen Mary? We’re going on the Queen Mary.” And Harry knows immediately that they’re going on the same cruise he’s going on. His blood boils. He picks up his steak knife but his hands shake so badly he can’t even cut through his bloody steak. He tries to collect himself, ignore what he heard, but instead focuses on hearing through the cacophony of conversations what they’re saying at Andrew’s table. He picks up his martini glass, downs what’s left just as the white-jacket waiter brings three more.

Eyal asks if Harry wants to leave.

“No, no, I’m fine.”

“You’re not fine at all.”

Too loud, Harry responds, “Okay, I’m a mess!” He pushes out his chair. Eyal grabs his arm, and into his lap Harry says, “Fucking Mark. He’s just so fucking perfect. I fucking hate him.” He twists to see behind him.

“Harry, don’t,” says Eyal, calmly. “Just ignore them, okay? Stay with us.”

Harry scootches his chair back under the table, acknowledges with rapid nods and a lifted hand that he knows Eyal’s right. Quietly, he says, “But did you hear what he said? They’re going on the fucking Queen Mary too.”

Kobe’s voice rises to the question mark, “The three of them?”

“I don’t fucking know.” Ruffled, Kobe rears back.

Eyal says, “Harry. We’re on your side.”

“I’m sorry. Sorry, Kobe. I just….” Harry picks up his martini. “To better times,” he says and gulps down half his cocktail. He puts his glass on the table, pushes out his chair. Eyal takes his arm. “Harry. There are times to let go and times to hold back, and this is one of those times to hold back.”

“I’m sorry, I can’t.” Harry is a man possessed—pumped up with gin. He pulls his arm out of Eyal’s grip. Kobe says, “Eyal, stop him.” Lapses into Hebrew. Harry stands. Turns. He sees Andrew’s holding a martini aloft. His head is bouncing, happy. Andrew turns to Mark, smiles broadly. 

Eyal leans across the table. “Kobe, maybe he’ll get it out of him.”

“He’s dangerous.”

“What can he do? What can I do?”

After hesitating a moment, Harry strides across the room to Andrew’s table, stops beside Mark. Smiles at Evelyn, who nervously smiles back. Takes another step, so he’s able to see everyone. Looks down at an aghast Andrew. Mark says dismissively, “Yes? May we help you?” But then recognizes him. “Harry?”

Harry glares at Mark. Andrew blurts out, “Mark knows everyone,” then he squeezes Mark’s thigh so that Mark turns, sees how ashen he is. Harry sees Evelyn’s thin face twist into the very same perplexed look Andrew makes. Harry says, “Oh my God, he does have your expressions.” Evelyn smiles. “You’re Evelyn, right? Andrew’s mother?”

Evelyn, totally caught off guard that someone could know her, not from her past but because she’s Andrew’s mother, brightens. “Yes, and you’re… Harry?”

Momentarily disarmed, Harry says, “Yes, I’m Harry.” Andrew stands, says, “Harry, can we talk?” He excuses himself as he pushes behind Mark. Harry continues to take in Evelyn, whose smile is exactly Andrew’s. The last martini kicks in. Evelyn’s face blurs. He turns too fast to look at Andrew, has to steady himself on Mark’s shoulder. Mark glares up at him. Evelyn says, “Is Harry another one of your professors?”

Andrew smiles, nods to his mother. But Harry now sees only Mark, and keeping his face from blurring takes all Harry’s concentration.

Eyal is now on Harry’s right. “Come on, Harry.”

But Harry’s not budging. To Mark, he says, “The Queen Mary? I’m on that crossing too. The gay one, right?”

Haughtily, Mark says, “What are you talking about?”

“I heard you from across the room. Are the three of you going?” he asks, pointing.

“I’m Tom,” says Tom. “Andrew’s step-father.” Harry turns slowly, offers his hand. Eyal whispers into Harry’s ear, “Harry, come on, let’s go back to our table.”

Harry doesn’t move, knows if he does the room will start spinning. Eyal says a polite, “Hey, Andrew.”

“Eyal,” says Andrew, nodding, then grimacing with his whole face.

As if nothing is amiss, Eyal asks the table, “Are you having a nice evening?”

Haughty Mark says, “And who are you?”

Eyal introduces himself, disarms Mark. Shakes with Evelyn and Tom. Kobe joins them, flanking Eyal, but before he can introduce himself, their white-jacket waiter butts in, says, “Are you changing tables? There’s no changing tables.”

“No,” says Eyal. “Can’t you see, we’re just saying hello. And in a minute we’ll go back to our table. Now if you’ll excuse us.”

As the waiter departs, Kobe, who’s quite taken by Matthew, smiles lasciviously and says across the table to Matthew, “That waiter is very rude.”

Matthew coyly smiles back, says, “He is rude.” Then, tearing himself from Kobe’s gaze, he says cheerily, “I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s sure nothing I expected.”

“Nor I,” says Kobe.

He introduces himself quickly to the others, then says, “And you must be Matthew.”

“Time to go, Harry,” says Eyal.

Evelyn says, “But how is it you all know Andrew? Are you his professors too?”

Harry snickers, says sarcastically, “Professors?”

Kobe fills the void, politely says, “Eyal and I are from Israel.” Thrilled to have something to talk about, Evelyn says, “Oh, we’ve been to Israel. The Holy Land.”

“Ya Jerusalem,” says Eyal, who, also taken with Matthew, focuses on his prey. “We’re from Tel Aviv. We hate Jerusalem.”

“No, we don’t hate it,” says Kobe. “We’re rivals. Like New York and Boston.” Eyal leans over Mark and shakes with Matthew, saying, “You’re very strong. Do you work out?” 

Matthew politely rises out of his chair, to show his physique. “Yes, every day.”

Evelyn and Tom sit quietly trying to figure what is going on, while Mark fumes, knowing exactly what is going on. He grimaces fiercely at Matthew but is ignored. Kobe says to Matthew, “We’re staying at the Sheraton Towers.”

“We’re at the Sheraton, too,” says Tom. 

Always the diplomat, Kobe says, “It’s a lovely hotel. We got a very good rate.”

Tom laughs. “We didn’t get a very good rate.” Laughs again, but only Evelyn cares about his joke.

“I work out at the gym too,” says Mark.

“That’s good,” says Eyal. “But you, Matthew, what do you do at the gym? Machines? Heavyweights?”

“Machines, mainly.”

Kobe says, “I work out too.”

“Yes, I can see,” says Matthew.

Mark is miffed that he’s left out. “We work out together.”

Eyal asks Matthew, “Do you always work out together?”

“As a threesome?” asks Kobe, his voice rising to the question.

“No, I like to work out with others,” says Matthew. “Mark likes to think we’re a threesome, but—”

“Matthew!” says Mark. “Are you forgetting?’

“I often go on my own,” says Matthew.

Andrew, flummoxed, says out of the side of his mouth, “Matthew, what are you doing?”

“Yes, Matthew,” says Mark, “what are you doing?”

 “Actually, I believe I’m going to the Sheraton.”

Andrew, regaining his composure, says, “Mom, Tom, do you mind if we go out by the bar for a few moments to talk?”

“Yes, come on, Harry,” says Eyal, “let’s go out to the bar.”

All Mark’s attention is on Matthew. Through gritted teeth he says, “You’re not going to the Sheraton.”

“I didn’t want to come here tonight, but you insisted. So I’m here.”

Mark says, “Would you please sit down and shut up.”

“You can tell Andrew what to do, Mark, but not me.”

“Wait a second,” says Evelyn. “You’re not Andrew’s professors?”

“I am,” says Mark, unconvincingly.

“But if you’re not Andrew’s professors…?”

“Honey,” says Tom, the situation finally dawning on him. “I don’t think we want to….”

A humbled Harry takes in the table, then turns to Andrew, by his side, who now seems more sad than anything. Sheepishly, Andrew says to Harry, “The Queen Mary? I was going to tell you—”

“Don’t,” says Harry, raising his hands to stop Andrew before he does any more damage. “I shouldn’t have come over.” A calmness washes over Harry. The storm has passed. And Harry finally realizes Andrew is gone. And that Andrew’s life is not the ideal he thought it was. And that all those declarations, that he’d never been in love like he had with Harry, that they very well might get back together, that he just needed more time, were just Andrew’s way of trying to ease Harry’s pain and his own guilt for leaving.

But other forces have been unleashed. Kobe’s burgeoning sex drive has taken over, and as Andrew slithers behind Mark to get back to his seat and Mark tries to figure how to gain back control, Kobe says to Matthew, his voice, like his sex drive, deep, steady, powerful, “You know the Sheraton Towers?”

“I do.”

“Room 1508.”

“I’ll be there,” says Matthew. “Steak always makes me…..”

“What?” says Eyal. “Sex, right? Harry, what did I tell you? Kobe? You didn’t believe me, did you? Steak makes you want sex.”

Tom laughs nervously, says, “Quite a gay group we’ve got here.”

And that’s when Evelyn vomits steak, spinach, Diet Coke, steak sauce and onion roll all over Mark, Matthew and her son.


Author and playwright Schuyler Bishop has shared work in Sports Illustrated, The New York Times and Alyson’s Best Gay Love Stories 2005. His first book, Thoreau in Love, was published in 2013. After a couple of years at sea and in Florida, he’s happily back in New York City.

Photo by Roman Arkhipov on Unsplash.