Dennis’s heart kept pounding in his throat as he crawled out
of Walt’s car in the parking lot of the burger place and watched Raven’s long
legs emerge from the front seat onto the pavement beside him. Jesus, he was
about to go eat with this guy who looked like a god. Man, that was some kind of
new milestone. He leaned over and peered in the front seat. “Thanks for
driving, Walt. And for including me. Good to meet you.”
“Yeah. Same here.” Walt gave a wave to Raven. “See you
later, lover.” After Raven slammed the door, Walt drove off.
“He seems like a great guy.”
Raven nodded as he walked toward the door of the diner.
“Yeah, he’s the best. Been my friend since we were kids.” All those strong
planes in his face seemed to soften. “Sometimes I’m not sure how I’d get
through a day without Walt.” He pulled his jacket tighter and seemed to shudder
against the breeze. Weird that Dennis wanted to wrap his arms around Raven to
keep him warm. Weirder since he probably couldn’t get his arms halfway around
the guy’s chest.
“But Walt’s not your boyfriend?” He swallowed hard.”
Raven seemed to take a breath. “Uh, no. Just friends.”
“I heard he was your guy.”
He shrugged. “We exaggerate our friendship a little to keep
our families from trying to hook us up. I’d appreciate it if you kept it to
“Sure. No big.” Why did he want to laugh? Maybe just because
Raven Nez trusted him with a secret.
They got inside and were given a booth in the back. Walking
behind Raven, Dennis got to watch people stare. Women’s lips parted and stayed
open like they couldn’t catch their breath. A few people nudged each other,
probably recognizing him from TV or the newspapers. The height, the hair, the
overall gorgeousness. Hell, who wouldn’t stare? They slid onto the bench seats
opposite each other and ordered burgers with fries and Cokes.
Raven smiled. “I really enjoyed getting to see that film in
a new light. You were right. I’d never noticed the complete lack of law in the
film—except for the law of the crooks. But the nihilism thing. I don’t know.
The film is so exuberant and full of fun. I don’t think it says that God or
meaning is dead, you know?”
Dennis grinned. Wow,
Raven got it. The waitress brought their food, and Dennis dug in. So great
getting to eat something his mother hadn’t cooked, and with another person—kind
of like a friend. Of course, Raven wouldn’t be anything like a friend if he
knew who Dennis was and what he did. He fought a shudder.
Raven took a huge bite, chewed, then tried to talk around his
swallow which was kind of cute. “Butch and Jules get away, don’t they? I mean,
it seemed like they both found something.”
“Yeah, interesting observation. I mean, it’s like one found
Raven nodded. “And the other found love.”
Together they said, “Same thing.” Raven laughed and spit
some bread on the table. It was fun to see him a little less than cool.
Dennis wiped his mouth with his napkin. “You ever been in
“Is, uh, falling in love with a guy the same as falling in
love with a girl?” He snorted. “Sorry. Dumb question. You just said you’ve
never been in love.”
“And I’ve never been with a girl.”
“No kidding? Not even in high school or anything?”
“No. I knew I was gay when I was little. My grandfather
raised me to accept the idea that some people are two-spirited, so I was
actually excited when I realized I was. I rushed to tell my folks.” He shook
his head. “As you can imagine, they weren’t quite so thrilled.”
“That must have been tough.”
He shrugged, but he didn’t look casual. “My grandfather
intervened and told them stories of the old ways.” He shoved a couple of fries
in his mouth.
“So your grandfather brought your parents around?”
“Not really. They accept my being gay, but they don’t like
“Hell. Accepting is huge compared to some people I know.” Dennis
shuddered. “So Indians, I mean, Native Americans accepted, uh, homosexuality?”
“Some tribes. It’s not the Native way to deny something out
of existence or make laws against stuff that happens in nature. In some
communities the two-spirited were actually revered and considered closer to
spirit. Of course, often they were more like what we might call transgender.
Not just guys who love guys.”
“Hell, that seems a lot better than being told you’re bad by
your church for something you can’t change.” Jesus, he should change the
subject. This one made him want to cry.
Raven shoved back his empty plate and sipped his Coke.
“Yeah. I volunteer at the Gay Youth Shelter and, man, between their parents
throwing them out and their churches calling them perverts, a lot of those kids
barely escape suicide.” He stared at the dark liquid in his glass. “Some of
them don’t escape.”
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“That’s crazy.” So crazy he totally got it.