Where We Land

It’s like when Danny was 20, he soared above sad old farts like his father who never even seemed to look up and see the sky. Danny’s father got up at 6am every day of his life and was on the 8:10 into the city. He walked back in the door at 6pm, ate his dinner while reading the evening paper, and slumped into his chair to watch the Dean Martin Show or re-runs of Rawhide or Combat before catching the news and weather and going to bed. Danny would have maybe felt sorry for the old man except his Dad seemed to be perfectly content in a bovine kind of way with this set up.

Danny had begun sneaking into the city in his teens with a fake ID and a lot of ideas. His parents never seemed to notice or care where he went or when he came back home. One time as he was walking in the door his father was pulling on his coat to go to work. That was when his father might have said something. He didn’t. Danny didn’t either. Later, Danny wondered about that.

Much later, when Danny was living in the city and hitting the clubs and bathhouses every night, he didn’t much stay in touch with the old man or his mother. When his mother called he would always chat with her for a bit but to this day couldn’t remember anything she ever said.

But rent had to be paid, money had to be had, and even Danny couldn’t dance every night away forever. He thought he’d done a neat end run around the problem by picking up shifts at his old dance dive, The Last Tango, doing a bit of drug dealing, and sucking the occasional Wall Street cock when the electric bill was due. He began to realize that these were strategies with a shelf life. Danny was going to have to come up with something more reliable that didn’t amount to a prison sentence like the one his old man had served out without complaint for thirty years, dying six months into his well-deserved retirement in Tucson.

By the time Danny began considering hooking up for money, he was no longer young and pretty. Appearing in gay (or even straight) porn wasn’t going to cut it. At the age of 37, Danny came to the shocking realization that he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. By this time, he had settled into a routine of tending bar on the weekends and sitting behind the counter of the last record store in town in the afternoons on weekdays. He read a lot at the record store. Sometimes he flew down to Tucson when his mother sent him a round trip ticket and had himself a week off.

Money was never going to float down out of the sky and time seemed to be flashing by more quickly every year, first mechanically and now more like a super computer. How could he be 45 years old and still living in a rented studio apartment? Jesus, his feet and back were killing him by the end of his shift at The Last Tango. The record store was gone. The bookstore he’d found work at was going soon. His mother died and he had to pay his own way to Tucson for the funeral, coming back to the last filthy March snow, broke and confused.

Ziggy, Anthony, and Germ liked the old guy well enough, although The Last Tango wasn’t really their scene. But the old guy kept his mouth shut mostly, poured the drinks strong, and wasn’t a total prick about closing time. They felt bad about the fire that night. Ok, Ziggy and Germ felt bad. Anthony felt bad about nothing. He didn’t even go see the old guy in the hospital or go to his funeral when he didn’t make it. That funeral depressed the shit out of Ziggy and Germ, though. Like two other people showed up. Afterwards, they went to check out the new joint Anthony had been going to. After all, there was no reason to go back to The Last Tango.

“Winter Heart” — AleXander Hirka, digital photo-montage

Published April 2017 as part of the “Two Stories Up!” Series (2016–2017). 
Two Stories Up! was an ongoing project that had Tammy Remington and AleXander Hirka (The Anomalous Duo) each composing a new (extremely short) short story every two months which was then sent via postal mail to interested readers.