from Spread Eagle
As soon as the party began Kit suspected it was going to be, if not a disaster, at least an ordeal. By eight o’clock he knew it for sure. Candles glowed on either end of the long table, but over the central section, around the elaborate centerpiece of dahlias and Hersheys kisses, a spectral darkness seemed to reign, and the men and women on either side seemed to drip with discomfort and, what’s worse, a boredom with everything around them. “Drip” was exactly the word to describe these losers, he thought. Every time Danny tried to rouse them with some scintillating gay joke, they just looked at him as if, after thirty years of sovereignty, gay wit had lost its cachet.
From his seat at the brightly lit foot of the table, Kit couldn’t put his finger on what was going so disastrously wrong. Glasses were filled to the brim, silverware laid on four deep, so it wasn’t that “cheapskate” vibe that you sometimes felt when someone was skimping on the extras. He peered toward the fifth and sixth seats down, to where Avery lay slumped in gloom, playing with his salmon meuniere, spearing its pink flakes around the edge of his Spode like Lady Chatterley decorating Mellors’ cock with cowslips. It was a criminal waste of food but worse than that, he seemed to be capturing the attention of all around him, guests who could not contain their torpid curiosity.
“Just eat the fucking fish,” Kit thought, squinting his eyes, willing the fierceness of his mind to snap some sense into Avery through ESP. Kid just sat there, pushing a chunk of salmon this way, then that. Languorously, as though he had all the time in the world and this dinner wasn’t supposed to ever come to an end. “My God, he is such a little diva,” Kit thought. “No one wanted Sam to die but Avery’s making this big production, just as if Sam were the great love of his life.”
On the other hand, could you really blame him? Presumably he hadn’t found many dead bodies in his lifetime, and Sam’s might have been the first, and he had been a friend—Sam—and he had been a fan—Avery.
“Quick, now, Danny’s coming back and you were going to have your surprise ready.”
Red-rimmed eyes turned dully to Kit’s. Such a gawky face, so inexpressive in general, but tonight a mask of misery. The surprise they had planned for Dan’s birthday had been months in the making, at first mere pillow talk between Kit and Avery when they’d started their hookup, later sort of a real plan involving all those art boys who hung around Avery at SFAI or at the strip club. Under the table knelt one of them—the one with the rabbity face and the foxy little ears that looked pinned back, his eyes always darting for the man with the biggest wallet in the room. Very soon now Danny would come back to the table from the kitchen, carrying his own cake. When he slid his legs into his chair Pierre had promised to do the Paulette Goddard thing to Dan, slip him out of his pants and swallow him up deep throat. X-rated, sotto voce, sex surprise for our birthday boy, but was Sam’s suicide going to put the damper on the fun?
“You know where Pierre is?” he mouthed to Avery.
“Zeroing in for the kill,” Avery’s mouth seemed to say, but the candlelight dimmed halfway across and he might have been just saying, piss off Kit.