Drama Gay LGBTQ+

The movie concludes and everyone is hollering, except for Marc, who decides that the old saying is flawed: an audience full of folks in their underwear is awful, actually. He looks over to Benji, his dark beard scruff, his soft cheeks, his deep brown eyes behind round frames—he’s hollering as well. It clashes with his gentle air.

Marc dumps the last of his popcorn in his mouth, and spits out the kernels like watermelon seeds, licking the salted butter from his lips. With oily fingers, he brushes back the blonde fly-aways caught at the corner of his mouth. He’s always saved the last of his snacks at the movies, so that in case he was disappointed, at least he would have something. He’s glad he did.

He crumples the bag and throws it on the floor. It doesn’t matter much; the place is a wreck. Debris coats the vinyl floor: rice, playing cards, toilet paper—Scott toilet paper, apparently that’s important.

Benji beams, as the projected light slowly fades from the reflection in his glasses. In the darkened room, concealed from social graces, Marc relieves his disgust and crinkles his nose.

“Well,” Marc says, standing faster than the lights of the theater return, impatiently brushing the wrinkles from his jeans. He bites the inside of his pursed lips and raises his eyebrows expectantly.

There’s a light,” Singing springs from the back of the theater, and a few chuckles ring out in response. These people love their call-and-responses.

Benji stops laughing as he looks up at Marc, matches his stern expression, and promptly pushes himself out of the seat.

“Right, let’s get out before the crowd,” Benji says, before remembering that they are, in fact, not in the seats at the end of the row.

He attempts to push past the gentleman between them and the runway as politely as he can, but is fully aware of how disorienting it must be for the man. Your movie ends, the lights come up, and immediately, there’s a stranger’s junk in your face. Though Benji had been okay with it the whole time, happy about it even, he’s suddenly aware of how naked he is. Aware of how clumsily his fishnets spill out of his tighty-whities. How his boa doesn’t suffice as a top. How clunky his high heels are.

“Excuse me,” Ben says, and Marc silently follows behind him.

They step into the cool night air, and the lights spelling “Clay County Theater” flash off the pavement of Main Street, and bounce off the townhouses across it.

Marc huffs and pulls off his gingham scarf, holding it out to Benji.

“Now aren’t you glad I didn’t dress up?”

“Everyone always dresses up for Rocky Horror,” Benji meekly pulls off his feathers, swapping them for the wool. “You were the only one.”

“No, there was that girl.”

“And she stood out to you, yeah?”

“Now you’re the one standing out,” Marc says, looking over his shoulder. The streets are empty aside from the flamboyant group exiting the theater behind them. He sighs a breath of relief. “C’mon,” Marc says, whipping back around. At least they’re parked close.

Through the adjacent ally, in the parking lot behind the theater, Marc starts the old sedan. He turns on the heat, digs his palms into the steering wheel, his fingers unfurled, and sighs deeply.

“Thanks,” Benji cups his hands, trying to catch the warm air being expelled by the heat vent. “You know, you didn’t have to come.”

“I wanted to,”

“Doesn’t seem like it, Mr. Huff n’ Puff.”

“I’m a Slytherin,” Marc gives an effortful smile. It curls genuinely after a moment, when Benji registers the wordplay and chuckles regrettably.

“That kind of movie’s more your speed?”

“Yeah. This one was,” Marc pauses, “a little much.”

“That’s why we all love it, because it’s too much.”

“I guess it’s a little much for me. I don’t get it, it’s strange.”

Benji glances down at himself, pulls the scarf tighter, and doesn’t respond.

The two arrive at the familiar row of smushed-together brick buildings, only 15 minutes from the theater. Up three flights of stairs, they open the door into the kitchen of their apartment and walk through to the living room. Benji tosses his scarf and balled-up boa on the sunken faux-leather couch, which sits between a clay-potted peace lily and a lamp whose shade blocks too much of the light.

Marc plops next to the scarf, and turns on the TV for the illusion of background noise, though leaving it at an imperceptibly low volume. He nudges the feathers away from his thigh.

Benji heads to the bedroom, stopping at the frame of the hallway, “I guess this isn’t working for you, then?” He stretches his arm to caress the wall with his fingertips and mocks a plaintive swoon.

“Definitely not.”

“That’s a little strong,” Benji drops his pose. “You don’t want a man in heels?” He exaggerates the theater in his tone, kicking one leg up behind him, framing his face, puckering his lips.

“Not really, no.”

Benji slumps again, “Alright, alright.” He turns and drags himself down the hall.

Marc watches his silent rerun until Benji returns in grey sweatpants and a wrinkled t-shirt for a band he doesn’t listen to anymore.

Marc walks over to him, “Now that’s more like it.” He brushes his hands through Benji’s hair, “You look like yourself again.”

“That was ‘myself’ too,” Benji shivers away from Marc’s hands, but holds his gaze.

“Benji, you know what I mean,”

“I do know what you mean.” He pulls away.


“No, you know what?” He spurs toward the couch, reaching for his things. “I’ll sleep at Chris’s tonight.”

“Chris?” A sharp staccato slices through Benji’s quavering crescendo. Marc closes his eyes and tries to speak calmly. His words still strain as he speaks more to himself than to Benji, “You two don’t even talk, you’re just trying to upset me.”

“We talk sometimes—we only stopped talking because of you.”

“I didn’t make you stop.”

“All of your snide little comments about him,” Benji cradles the wool scarf behind his neck. “Did you expect him to keep coming over?”

Marc didn’t know that Chris had heard him. Maybe he messed up— no, there’s no time for that right now. Right now, Benji is having a hissy-fit.

“You can’t blame me. You’re around him. You know.”

“Know what?” Benji crosses his arms and cocks a brow, anticipating what he had already surmised.

“He’s so… gay.

The leaves of the peace lily bob with the breeze of the overhead fan. In the corner of the room, steam cascades from a humidifier, curling off the plush carpet. And still wafts the mild scent of lavender and smoke from the candle that Marc blew out before leaving for the damned show.

“He’s gay!” Benji throws his hands out from himself, and they abruptly bounce back. “I’m gay, you’re gay! We’re gay! I don’t know what you want.”

“I’m not like that.

“Wow,” Benji grabs the boa, coils it overtop the scarf, and straightens his posture. He struts through the kitchen and slips on his sneakers, which squeak on the porcelain tile. “I love you, but you have some stuff to work out. I’ll be back tomorrow.”

Marc yo-yos his gaze from the boa to Benji, to the boa, to Benji—who does not look up, despite Marc’s silent plead. When their eyes finally meet, Marc fights to look unbothered, effortfully emotionless, but his jaw remains clenched, and his voice falters, “Are you walking?”

“Yeah? It’s not far.”

“Listen, this is serious. This is different,” —Benji, walking down the street. A passer-by yells something at him. He buries his chin in the feathers and watches the pavement, trying to ignore it. The stranger persists, and then— “Don’t go out with that,” Marc says.

“I’ll be fine.” Benji turns to leave, “Love you,” and closes the door behind him.

May 24, 2022 18:04

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


K. Antonio
11:23 May 29, 2022

Hello, Danny. I saw in your profile that you didn't mind critique/feedback. - First of all, I really enjoyed how this story began. It was odd, interesting, but also well-though out. After the first paragraph I was instantly curious to know how the story was going to unfurl. - I really enjoyed how specific you were in the beginning, the minute details really helped bring the setting to life. - I also really liked how this story deals with a real issue in the LGBTQ+ community. The difference between Marc and Benjie and how they're differen...


D. Grimes
23:15 May 30, 2022

Wow thank you so so much! It's absolutely wonderful that you gave me - not only specific things to work on - but suggestions on why it wasn't working as well & what to do about it That's extremely appreciated - as well as your kind words about what was working, it seriously made my chest tighten up :') I think i visually wanted to contrast the soft environment with the arguing, but it really did unnecessarily de-escalate things Also idk why I'm treating 1000 words as the goal instead of the minimum - I really could dig a lot deeper into th...


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.