by Hyakunichisou 13 (百日草 十三)
- We’re gonna pop some cherries tonight
The way Greg would tell the story in later years, the moment he saw Tim Curry in a corset and torn stockings was the moment everything became clear. At the time, though, it felt like everything had just gotten way more complicated.
Because, okay, after Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder snuggled down together under their space blanket in the Fortress of Solitude, it probably wasn’t Superman’s bare shoulders that the other guys in the audience couldn’t stop thinking about. And Gil Gerard was pretty choice in a tuxedo. But they were–for TV and movie stars–still kind of regular-looking. His mom thought Christopher Reeve was handsome, for crying out loud. If Greg couldn’t help noticing the same thing, who could blame him?
So if, as was becoming increasingly probable, Greg was turning out to be gay, he could reconcile himself to having crushes on the John Davidsons of the world. That wouldn’t be so bad.
Then Frank-N-Furter threw off his midnight-blue cape, and everything Greg thought he understood about himself blew up like a satin-shelled glitter bomb.
“Oh my god,” he breathed.
“I know, this is so warped, right?” said his roommate Kevin, beside him. “Totally perverted.” He sounded thrilled.
It was Kevin’s fault they were sitting in this loud, shabby theatre in the first place. More specifically, Kevin’s crush on a girl from his Intro Psych class. You want to go, she’d assured him, and Kevin had basically whined Greg into coming with him. Greg knew, intellectually, that Toronto must be bursting with never-before-imagined hedonistic delights, but it was only a month into the term, and so far his main Saturday night opportunities had been getting hammered on crappy beer at the Brunswick House or getting a head start on one of his midterm papers. Going to see something called Rocky Horror in the middle of the night at least sounded like the kind of thing a first-year student should do to shake the dust of the suburbs off his shoes.
And now look what had happened.
Even the wall-to-wall yelling and throwing things couldn’t distract him from that strutting, slinking figure up on the screen. The laced-up gap where his corset didn’t meet in the front. The collar of thick white pearls. The fingertip-sized holes in the knees of his stockings. Every time Tim Curry appeared, every molecule of Greg’s body zapped to life as if he were Rocky in that electric bath and Frank’s hand was on the switch.
Admittedly, the end of the movie was kind of a weird downer, which by that time was fine by Greg, since his surprise boner was getting to be both uncomfortable and embarrassing. He stumbled out of the theatre into knots of people smoking and laughing on the sidewalk, dressed in sequined shorts, green hospital gowns, gold lamé everything. And black stockings and heels.
“That was such a freak-o-rama,” Kevin said enthusiastically.
A girl with long, straight blonde hair and a mouldy-looking black suit turned to look at them. “You enjoy the show, virgins?” she asked, not unkindly. The Frank beside her, long coat hanging open over patches of black cloth and skin, looked at Greg, who was utterly failing not to stare. Frank arched his eyebrows and widened his eyes, which flashed in the shadows of his makeup like searchlights.
“Get out, I am not,” Kevin said, and stalked off. Greg ducked his head and followed, his face feeling as red and hot as cherry-coloured lipstick.
- Where the fuck are we?
The power outage could hardly have come at a more perfect time if someone had scripted it. Brad and Janet were standing in the rain, singing about the darkness of everybody’s life. There was a muted pop as though some large, distant bulb had blown, and the sound and picture and aisle lights winked out, leaving the audience in an island of pocket-lighter glow.
There was a lot of booing and whistling, but after a while, when nothing else happened, people began to sift out. Greg found himself yawning, and when twenty minutes had gone by, he decided to bag the entire thing. He gathered up the grocery sack that he’d stocked with cheap playing cards and a folded newspaper and a slice of dry toast he’d stolen from the caf, and inched his way outside with his own lighter to guide him.
Both sides of the Danforth were dark, though looking east and west he could see the border where the streetlights and store signs resumed. Few people were lingering in front of the theatre. Greg crossed the road, zipping up his jacket and tucking his scarf around his throat. It would at least be nice to take the subway home, rather than standing around waiting for the desultory all-night bus.
As he stood looking at the hand-scrawled sign taped to the locked station doors–No power, subway closed–someone came up behind him and sighed. “Well, shit.”
Greg had been to the midnight matinees enough times by now to vaguely recognize him even under the ghost-white face paint and smoky eyes. Now his tousled hair was flattened under a red toque. He was wearing his long coat and–Greg couldn’t help glancing down–sweatpants and desert boots.
“Bus,” he said with resignation, not looking at Greg, and turned and walked back towards the corner.
Greg trailed him. Greg was headed to the bus stop too, of course, but it felt as though he were following this guy rather than just walking in the same direction. He’d been to Rocky Horror five times now, and had bought the cassette and knew all the lyrics and a lot of the callouts, but he hadn’t really talked to anyone there. It still felt as though he were a virg–a new guy, looking into an arcane club that remained mysterious, but that he knew he wanted to part of.
A bus came within a few minutes. The bars hadn’t closed for the night yet, and it wasn’t crowded. Frank took one of the double seats. Greg sat in front of him, hands squeezed between his knees, the back of his neck tingling.
Finally some kind of switch tripped in his brain, and he swivelled sideways in his seat. “Um.”
Frank looked at him. There was a spot of flesh showing under the white, as if he’d scratched the side of his nose.
“I was wondering, do you do your own makeup and stuff?”
“Yeah, mostly. I got someone to make the corset for me, but a lot of it’s second hand. Not the stockings, you can’t find those used. Why, are you interested in going in costume?”
“God, no,” Greg said with involuntary force. “I mean, I don’t think I could. I mean, I like to watch.” He felt himself go red.
“‘That ain’t no crime,'” Frank quoted, with a laugh. “You’ve been before, right?”
Greg nodded, probably too hard. “It’s amazing. I mean, Frank–but Riff Raff is pretty funny, and the music’s great, and at first I thought the end was kind of depressing but I think I get it now. And there’s so much going on, like every time I see it there’s something I hadn’t noticed before.”
“I know what you mean. I’ve probably seen it fifty times, but there’s always somebody trying out a new line or something. Are you by yourself?”
“Yeah.” Much as he’d enjoyed it, that one brush with decadence had apparently been enough for Kevin.
“If you want someone to hang out with, you should come sit with me and my friends. We’re usually down by the front. I’m Shawn, by the way.”
“Really? That’d be super. I’m Greg.”
Someone pulled the cord to signal a stop request, and the bell dinged. Shawn cupped his hands to peer out into the dark. “Where are we?”
“I think we’re near the Viaduct?”
“Broadview,” said a woman standing by the back doors.
“Oh shit, this is me,” Shawn said, swinging out of his seat. “See you around!”
“Same here, I mean, you too,” Greg said, and as Shawn stepped off the back stairs, there was a flicker and a flash, and both sides of the road blazed whitely up like lightning had come to stay.
- So’s Brad
They stepped out into the soft April night. “See you next week?” Kim called, as she and Randy walked in the opposite direction.
Shawn’s heels clacked on the sidewalk as they made their way to the subway. Tonight he’d forgotten to put his regular shoes into his knapsack with the rest of his clothes, and the black stockings poked out from under his jeans. Even the sight of those straps over the curve of his foot made Greg a little short of breath. Though tonight he was worked up for all kinds of reasons.
“You still coming back with me?” Shawn asked, as they sat down on the plump vinyl of the subway seat.
“Yeah. If you want me to.”
“Oh, I want you to.” Shawn gave him a sideways look and a little purse of his lips that made Greg feel as though fireflies were hovering over his skin.
Shawn had an apartment on the second floor of a converted old semi. His roommate spent most weekends at his girlfriend’s, and it wasn’t the first time Greg had been up here. This time, though, he was very aware of the night and the quiet, how there were only the two of them here.
The stairwell led straight into the kitchen. “You want something to drink?” Shawn asked. Greg nodded, and Shawn got a couple of cans of ginger ale out of the fridge while Greg took off his coat and draped it over one of the chairs.
Shawn took a few gulps from his can. “Let me just go wash my face off.”
Greg, halfway through swallowing a mouthful of ginger ale, tried to say Okay, though he didn’t really want to, and erupted into coughing.
“Or…not.” Shawn did that Frank-N-Furter thing with his eyebrows that left Greg a heap of self-consciousness and hormones. “Should I leave it on?’
Greg studied the dark keyhole in the top of his pop can until he could look up. He obviously hadn’t done a good job of blanking out his expression, because a slow smile spread across Shawn’s face. “Turn around.”
Greg did so. He heard cloth shifting. The pop can was slippery with sweat and condensation in his palm.
Shawn came up close behind him. “Are you quite sure about this, darling?” he asked, in Frank’s plummy tones.
It had been well after New Year’s before he and Shawn had started dropping hints at one another, each of them inching towards a revelation that couldn’t be taken back. He still couldn’t quite put his finger on how they’d finally bridged the gap. But they had, and there’d been necking at the foot of Shawn’s stairs or in the darkness on the porch, and Greg was ready for more. It was just sort of…terrifying.
“Hey,” Shawn said in his own voice. “It’s not a big deal.” His arms went around Greg, black-gloved and chilly from outside.
“I…kind of…” Greg’s throat was parched, and he couldn’t take a drink because he couldn’t remember how his body worked. “…like it?” he finished.
Because it was pretty twisted, wasn’t it? To have a man in front of him whom he liked a lot, and want him to be someone else? Someone who wasn’t even real, and who to be honest was kind of an awful person, but the sight of whom carbonated his imagination like nothing else for reasons he didn’t even understand?
“Oh, honey, me too,” Shawn crooned in his ear, half himself and half Frank. He slid his gloved hands down Greg’s chest.
“You don’t mind?”
“Nope.” Shawn’s hands tugged up the hem of his sweatshirt and wormed their way underneath. “‘What charming underclothes you have.'”
“They’re Fruit of the Loom.” Greg spoke the scripted reply automatically, and dissolved into snickers. His nervousness ebbed a little.
Shawn nudged his back. “Go over and sit on the couch,” he said. Greg crossed the room to the grey-and-brown plaid monstrosity that dominated the other half of the room. He sat down and put his can of ginger ale on the side table.
Shawn sashayed over to him like he was dominating a runway, and oh god, he’d taken off the jeans and sweater he’d put on over his costume for the trip home. His thighs and upper arms were naked, the black corset rising to meet the string of beads at his collarbone. He put his hands behind his head and rolled his hips, grinning, and then he put one high-heeled foot on the couch beside Greg’s leg, and all the breath in Greg’s lungs evaporated.
“Darling,” Shawn purred, and descended on Greg, kneeling over him and blotting out the overhead light. He slid his fingers around the back of Greg’s neck and leaned down and kissed him. Greg let his head fall against the back of the couch. Shawn kissed him hard and slow, only touching his body at those two points, until Greg thought he might just expire from sensory overload right there.
When Shawn pulled back, it was clear that he was as into this as Greg was. He smiled and ran his hands down the front of his corset and over the straps of his garters. “Touch me?”
Greg nodded. Shawn stretched his arms up again, exposing himself for Greg’s exploration. Greg brought his hands up to curve around Shawn’s ribs. The sparkly fabric of the corset was unexpectedly rough. He inserted his finger between the laces to meet bare skin; Shawn jumped a little at the contact. Greg dragged his fingers down, past the hem of the corset, over Shawn’s hips in the brief black shorts, down to the stockings. He wriggled his finger under the elastic. Shawn inhaled sharply. Greg ran his hands back up, over hips and waist, under the looser bottom of the corset as high as he could go. He could just reach Shawn’s nipples, hard under his fingertips.
“Oh god,” Shawn said.
Greg couldn’t and didn’t want to avoid it any longer. He cupped his hand around the front of Shawn’s shorts and for the first time felt another man’s dick in his hand.
As hard as his own, hot, dampness at the tip soaking through the black shorts. Greg glanced up at Shawn, who was open-mouthed and looking sort of desperate. He pulled the shorts away and down, and Shawn’s dick bobbed free. The shorts only went a few inches lower and were stopped by the clips at the top of his stockings, which was so tantalizing a sight that Greg felt a pulse of gratification go through him.
“Touch me,” Shawn said hoarsely, and this time it was a plea rather than a teasing invitation.
Greg wrapped his hand around Shawn’s dick and slid up to the tip, back down until the edge of his hand met coarse curls. It was a familiar handful at a strangely unfamiliar angle. He contemplated the flushed head of Shawn’s dick. Everybody agreed that blowjobs felt good, and Greg’s curiosity about that was enough to overcome the pretty intimidating reality of a hard penis a couple of inches away from his face. He squished down a little against the couch cushions and stuck his tongue out to lick the moisture at the crown.
He wasn’t crazy about the way it tasted, but Shawn made a breathy sound that made Greg’s squeamishness weirdly irrelevant. He did it again, gently fitting his lips around Shawn’s dick and swirling his tongue. Shawn’s hands landed with a jolt against the back of the couch, his arms rigidly holding him up.
Greg tried sucking, then pushing his lips down further to fill his mouth, then both at the same time. Shawn gasped incoherent half-words. Greg lifted his hands to the backs of Shawn’s legs, sliding over the thin nylon, the bunched-up cotton. He grabbed Shawn’s backside, a hand on each buttock. Shawn’s hips jerked. Greg looked up. The kitchen light winked dark rainbow sparkles off the corset. Shawn was biting his crimson lip, the lipstick smeared a little from their kissing; his hair was wild and his half-closed eyes were dark as bruises. Greg sucked again, and Frank-N-Furter groaned out loud, deep and drawn-out, and Greg pulled his mouth back off him and came, untouched and fully clothed, just from the sound and the sight of it.
“Holy shit, did you–oh, fuck, oh–” said Shawn, and a second later he was groaning again, coming into the black vinyl palm of his glove.
“I’m sorry–was I–did I go too fast?” Greg panted, vaguely aware that he should be embarrassed but not yet really caring, pleasure still beating through him with lassitude on its heels.
“I don’t care. Shit.” Shawn was laughing. “Oh my god, that was the single most erotic second of my entire life.” He collapsed beside Greg, slumping against the side of the couch.
Greg turned his head towards him. Shawn’s lips were parted, wet and fire-engine red. Greg leaned over and pressed a kiss to them, tenderness welling up in him. He supposed he’d just lost some kind of virginity, but he felt as though he’d been given something instead. Sex hadn’t been anything like he’d imagined; it had been hotter and weirder and way more intimate. Like Rocky Horror, he thought; even when he thought he knew what to expect, he’d discovered something new.
- Say it
Heat from the paper bag of mushroom fried rice and chicken chow mein seeped into Greg’s arm through his fall jacket as he stood on the porch. He knocked again. He’d left a message on Shawn’s answering machine, but hadn’t heard back before he’d left campus. The upstairs light was on. Maybe Shawn had gone out to the corner store to grab some chips or something.
He heard thudding on the stairs, growing louder, and then Shawn opened the door. His hair was as messy as when he played Frank, and he was dressed in sagging sweatpants and a sweatshirt with the decal so laundered out it was unreadable. “Shit, sorry, I didn’t realize it was seven already.”
Greg followed him upstairs and put the bag on the counter. “How’s it going?”
Shawn groaned. “Fourth year is kicking my ass.” He sat heavily down in one of the chairs and let his forehead fall onto the glossy cover of Applications for New Polymers in Chemical Engineering that sat on top of a stack on the kitchen table.
“You need to take a break. Did you know your brain can only concentrate for like forty minutes at a time anyway?” Greg took the cartons out of the bag and pried the plastic lid off the fried rice.
“That smells amazing. You are saving my life right now.”
“I know, I am the best boyfriend.”
The word just seemed to pop out of his mouth. Greg took a shocked breath.
After a moment, Shawn said, “You totally are, though.”
Greg turned around. “Yeah?”
“Yeah.” Shawn held out a hand and reeled Greg in. He pulled Greg between his knees and took hold of the lapel of his plaid shirt to bring him down for a kiss. He tasted of ginger. Then Shawn pressed his face against the front of Greg’s shirt and clasped his arms around him.
Standing over him like this, the thing that Greg had been thinking all summer floated to the front of his mind and filled his mouth. The moment stretched, and the words gathered weight and insistence, and, finally, inevitability.
As Shawn started to pull away, Greg said, in a quiet rush, “Because I actually kind of love you.”
Shawn gave him a harder squeeze and released him. He looked up, smiling. “Love you too.”
They kissed again. Greg combed his hand through Shawn’s softly curled hair. “You should eat something. But, after that, we’ve got a couple of hours before the show.” He crowded in closer, nudging Shawn’s thighs further apart.
Shawn made a rueful face. “Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to make it to the show tonight.”
“Aw, no way. How come?”
Shawn gestured at the table, laden with textbooks and notebooks and his softly humming electric typewriter. “I can’t sleep late tomorrow. I have to get a draft of this paper done, and I had a lecture last week that I understood maybe half of and I want to re-do the reading so I don’t get behind.”
“I know. But you go. Say hi to everybody for me.”
“We still have a little time after dinner,” Greg said hopefully.
Shawn ran his hands up the back of Greg’s legs, over his butt to the small of his back. “For sure we do.”
“Hey, Greg,” Jagmeet from two rooms down said, leaning into Greg’s open doorway, “Milton at the desk says there’s a guy in the lobby for you.”
“Huh? Oh, thanks.” Greg glanced up from his course reading to the clock. He still had over an hour before he was meeting Shawn for dinner. But when he went downstairs, there Shawn was, inhaling a cardboard cup of cafeteria coffee.
“Did you finish early?” Greg asked, gladness filling him. Between end-of-term papers and exams, and then the holidays, he felt like he’d barely seen Shawn all of December.
“Nah. I’m sorry, I have to cancel. I didn’t get as much done as I wanted.”
“Oh. You don’t want to take a break? Go back to it fresh tomorrow? We don’t have to go to the show. We could go back to your place, stop at Blockbuster and rent a video, just hang out and relax.”
“I have too much to do.” Shawn hiked up the backpack that pulled him down at one shoulder. His hair needed a wash, and there were grey circles under his eyes. Greg longed to pull him into a hug, rub his back, make him rest. But they couldn’t do that in the lobby of his residence building.
“Let’s at least grab dinner. Let me just go upstairs and get my meal card.”
“I got some coffee. I’m good.” Shawn raised his cup, cutting off what Greg had been about to say next. “I’ll call you next week, okay?”
“Yeah. That’s fine. Don’t forget to sleep,” he said, but Shawn was already walking away.
- Did somebody say toast?
“I just don’t have time for that anymore,” Shawn said.
“But your exams are over.” Sitting on the kitchen chair with his coat still on, Greg looked at the table, still stacked with notebooks and file folders, with a new strata of newspapers on the top.
“Sure, but there’s that job fair next week. I have to redo my resume. And go buy a suit, because my old one is pretty fearsome.”
“You don’t have a few hours to go out and have fun with your friends?” It came out sharper than Greg had meant it to. He’d been clutching the hope that when the school year was finished, the Shawn he’d known would emerge from this harried-looking stranger and smile back at him. And now Shawn himself was putting a new hurdle in the way?
Shawn toyed with a pencil. “I don’t know. I mean, dressing up and throwing things at a movie screen. Isn’t it starting to feel kind of immature?”
Greg pulled the knit cuffs of his jacket further down over his wrists, though it wasn’t cold in the apartment. “You mean I’m immature.”
“No! No, I don’t. It’s just, you’ll see, third year is going to be hard. Fourth year is going to be brutal. You’re not going to have time to waste on that either.”
“It’s not wasted.” It was the thing he looked forward to all week, the buzz and the routine of it, the way everyone shouting the callouts together felt like harmony as much as the songs did.
“I’m not a student anymore,” Shawn said, as if he hadn’t spoken. “It’s time to get real. Get a job and my own apartment and act like an a adult and just be, you know, a normal person.”
Greg tasted bitterness and salt. “You mean I’m not normal.”
“No, no, that’s not what I meant–“
He stood up. “I’m pretty sure it is.” Months of feeling pushed aside crashed down on him. “If you don’t want me around, just say it.”
Shawn reached for his hand. Greg jerked it away. “I do, Greg, honestly, it’s just that things are different now–“
“Not for me. And if not doing things I like is being normal, I’m not interested.”
His voice broke a little on the last words, and he folded his arms and headed for the stairs. Shawn might have called after him; he couldn’t tell, because he couldn’t hear over the booming of his heart and the rushing in his ears.
At the theatre, he paid for his ticket and huddled into his usual seat. The pre-show din fell around him like a comforter.
“Are you okay?” asked Kim, scattering popcorn as she sat down next to him.
She tossed her long blonde hair back over her shoulder and glanced past him. “Shawn not coming after all?”
“Nope. Probably not ever.”
“Ah.” Her gaze was sympathetic. They’d never actually told anyone in words that they were together, but a crowd that gathered to celebrate a musical parody about a bisexual alien who wore women’s lingerie could see what was in front of their faces. “That sucks. But it happens, you know? The long term is not for everybody.”
His eyes pricked. “I thought it was. Anyway, it’s for me,” he said, as the house lights slid into twilight. “I’m going to come back every weekend until I’m sixty.”
“Oh, hon, me too.” She linked her elbow through his over the armrest. “Me too.”
- You should be so lucky
Greg got to the theatre an hour in advance, and the line was already around the corner. As he walked to the end, he nodded to people he hadn’t seen in months–Debbie and LaToya up from Michigan, and Larry who’d moved to Oshawa for work, and a bunch of other people he recognized but had never learned the names of. Leather jackets, magenta-dyed hair and fishnets were everywhere. People snuck drinks from jacket-pocket flasks; someone had a boombox playing Bowie at their feet. It was like an impromptu carnival. Or a wake.
“I can’t believe this crowd,” Kim said, squeezing in beside him. “It’s like everybody who ever saw the thing in their life is here. Hey, Janowski!” She waved at another Riff Raff, who had a foot of height and about a hundred pounds on her. “Man, if all these people showed up regularly, maybe it wouldn’t be closing.”
He wasn’t going to think about that. He wasn’t going to think about next Saturday, and all the Saturdays after it.
A Frank with scarlet hair and a warm-looking cloak clacked past. A guy with three cameras strung around his neck was chatting with an alien Riff Raff in a quilted silver coat with black shoulder fins. Two Columbias leaned against each other, one’s arm around the other’s waist. Greg looked hard at them all. He was going to remember this, store up everything about it, so he could remind himself that he’d been here.
Footsteps stopped beside him on the sidewalk. “Well,” he heard Kim say. Greg turned.
Wild hair, dramatically shaded eyes, glossy mouth red as Dorothy’s ruby shoes. Coat hanging open over shimmering corset and bare thighs.
“Hi,” Shawn said.
They hadn’t spoken in a month. Greg lowered his eyes against Shawn seeing the hunger and hope that surged up at the sight of him. He looked away, towards the main street, where red and white car lights gleamed on the asphalt, still damp from the day-long drizzle. “Hi.”
Shawn cleared his throat. “You were right.”
“Yeah?” He kept his voice blasé.
“Yeah. Giving up something you love because you think it makes you adult, or normal, or whatever? It’s stupid.”
“I’m sorry. I was being a complete jerk. Please let me make it up to you?”
“Why did you change your mind?” Greg folded his arms and gave him a stony stare. If Shawn so much as quirked his mouth or circled his wrist in a Frank-N-Furter way, Greg was going to heave him off the sidewalk.
“Missing you. So much. And…” He made a sheepish face. “Sleeping for about twenty-four hours straight, and eating something that contained actual food. That helped screw my head on better. Greg, I know I fucked everything up. I was a lousy boyfriend who didn’t deserve you. I’m sorry.”
“Okay, well, I get that you were stressed out and everything. But–” He had to look away to force the words out. “I can’t go out with someone who thinks I’m a weirdo for liking what I like.”
“I don’t. Please. Greg.” He had sounded rehearsed before, even his chagrined expression, but now his voice cracked a little. “When I found out they were closing the show, all I could think of was all those times I could have come but didn’t. I missed out on so many great nights. Now it’s ending, and I’ve lost my chance.” He scraped teeth over his bottom lip, marring the shine of his lipstick. “When I got dressed up tonight I got this amazing feeling, like, I was so happy I was going to see you again, and then I remembered what I’d done and it was like a punch in the stomach. I know I made you think I thought there was something wrong with you, and I’m so sorry. Because you’re amazing. You’re brave and kind and smart and generous and way more patient than I deserved, and I really, really hope you can forgive me, because I don’t want to miss out on any more time with you.”
Greg had to stick his hands in his pockets to prevent himself from reaching out. “You think I’m brave?”
“The bravest. You came to the show all by yourself, how many times? Because once you found out what you wanted, you never pretended you didn’t.”
Greg felt his face go hot, remembering some of the times he’d been very clear on what he wanted. “I didn’t know you thought that,” he said. “But you’re the guy apologizing in public, plus you’re sort of half naked, so I guess we’re even.”
Shawn’s eyes widened, white in the purple and grey of his eyeshadow. “Is that a yes?”
“I missed you too.” Greg finally let himself extend a hand to grasp Shawn’s leather-gloved arm. “If you mean it–if you really get that things need to be different–yeah, I want to try again.”
The tension eased out of Shawn’s face, and he smiled–his own smile, relief and pleasure shining through Frank-N-Further’s high-gloss mask. He stepped closer and crowded Greg against the brick wall of the theatre. “Thank you,” he whispered, and kissed him, right there on the street in the sight of several hundred of the people who knew them best.
Epilogue: Don’t dream it, be it
“Is this it? Or…” Greg considered the distance to the stage. “I think it was this row.”
“Close enough.” Shawn settled into the newly reupholstered seat. He flexed his shoulders. “Wait, is this…comfortable? It can’t be an authentic experience unless there’s a lump sticking into my back.”
Greg sniffed the air. “And do I smell…the absence of decades of buttery topping and mould?” He twisted to look back towards the entrance. “I can’t believe how good this place looks. I have to say, they did an amazing job with the reno.”
“I can’t believe it’s been forty years since Rocky Horror came out.”
“Bite your tongue.”
“Later, old man.” Shawn smirked at him. He’d opted for the hospital scrubs version of Frank’s getup. No one wants to see me in a corset, he’d said, though Greg had taken that opportunity to prove that at least one person did.
The theatre was filling up. More young people than he’d expected, but plenty of older ones, some of whom he recognized more from the quirks of their costumes than by their greying hair and lined faces.
“Shove over, assholes,” Kim said cheerfully, appearing in the aisle. The black suit she was wearing was clean, modern, and very sharp. They stood to hug her and be introduced to her niece, who was decked out in a lot of shiny gold.
“She’s a virgin,” Kim stage-whispered.
“Circle of life,” Shawn said, as the young woman rolled her eyes.
The lights dipped, and they sat. The first sweet chords sounded. “Let there be lips!” several dozen people shouted in ragged unison, and the crowd broke out in cheers and applause.
Watching Brad and Janet make their rain-soaked way through the storm, Greg shivered and pulled his jacket, which he had draped over the seat, back around his shoulders.
“Cold?” Shawn whispered. “Here.” He circled his feather boa around Greg’s neck.
“Thanks.” Greg snuggled into the boa, and leaned against Shawn. I think perhaps you’d better both come inside, Riff Raff said. The “Time Warp” guitar riff started, and the crowd rose with a collective whoop.
“Careful. You don’t want to put your back out again,” Shawn said.
“What do you think I am, old?” Greg grinned at him, and raised his feather boa in the air, and started to dance.
Good gosh, that was excellent! I love how specific it is to a certain time and place and experience!
This is excellent!!
Awwwww, oh my god, this is so cute! *sniffle* That last scene is just perfect. ^_^
This made me nostalgic for an experience I never quite actually had. Very nice!
What queenofzan said. I love the whole feeling of the experience here, community and revelation and comfort. And Shawn and Greg are so sweet, and relatable in their road bumps.
I really appreciate how this story captures time and place, as well as sharing what this one weird little cult phenomenon meant (and still means!) to more than a few of the people who partake. Greg and Shawn feel very genuine and I enjoyed the hints of their lives outside their mutual love of Rocky Horror, and just like everyone else in these comments I thought the epilogue was very sweet! Stories about OLD couples, ones who have come through so much together and remained proud in the face of who knows how much adversity, mean a lot to me, and this is a perfect example of just such an animal.
Now that’s what the undergrad experience should be.
Ahhh, as someone who worked props for a pretty elaborate rocky show for several years (and filled in as Janet one wild night) this spoke to me!!! It’s been a decade since I’ve been to a Rocky show but those callbacks never leave your brain. :) This was delightful!
This didn’t speak to me so much as scream my name from across a crowded theater, run over and grab my hand. Rocky was Saturday nights of high school, coming home from college to go, hunting up a place to see it in London, and crying when the theater at home closed and was torn down to make way for a yuppie/hipster strip mall. That feeling, taking the leap into the community and finding a home with the other weirdos and freaks and misfits… it’s invaluable and a life saving thing, and you’ve nailed it. Thank you for writing something that resonates so deeply with so many people.