"Come on, Nancy! I think I smell a clue!"
At least I hope it's a clue; Nancy's been known to leave any flavor of clue in the fabric of my car seat before, and in fact her name isn't really Nancy (she isn't really a she outside of queer parlance, either). Taylor may be puffing one down just to put me on. Regardless, he's been kind enough to play along with late-night Nancy Drew theatrics on this lovely Tuesday, so any smell will do (doo).
My idea is that there's a mystery a-brewin' out there somewhere, one that nobody has yet been turned on to: some sort of dastardly transistor radio theft, maybe a Manolo Blahnik buried at the bottom of Lake Ivanhoe, or worse, a tiny white kitten caught in a menacing tree. Whatever it might be, we're hitting the bars to overhear seemingly disposable conversations for the treasure maps that they really are. I'm wearing houndstooth and I'm not even kidding.
Pulling up to the first stop, The Copper Rocket, my sensitive parts are already tingling with anticipation. I rifle around my car looking for some legitimizing note-taking implements (or a rifle), momentarily sticking my head between my knees so that booze remnants might revisit my brain. Before we even reach the bar door, an ominous piece of evidence almost runs us over in the parking lot.
"Excuse me, gentlemen," a bicycle wobbles with an older black man on it. Now, every beggar begs a story, but this one is particularly engaging. Roy's got a disabled wife at home and needs money? Not that interesting. But boy, does he reach the right crowd when he dips into the fecal detail of his wife's daily enemas and her subsequent incontinence.
"I need money for Depends," he makes my wallet wiggle against my ass cheek. Then he does the unthinkable: He pulls out some literature — specifically an Internet facsimile of an Orlando Weekly article written about his plight in the Feb. 7 issue of the year 2000 (www.orlandoweekly.com/features/story.asp?id=6418) and flashes it for credibility. (Good luck there.) But then he says something, something like "I've been on my bicycle since Christopher Reeve …" and Taylor and I are throwing money at him.
"So is the clue ‘Superman' or is it ‘Depends'?" I scribble uncertainly.
"Let's go in and think about it."
We do, and my head begins swimming around my own personal cycling relationship with Christopher Reeve, and the fact that I don't really have one. The conundrum is only buoyed by the effervescence of draft beer and the flatulence of heavily loaded nachos. Erasure's "Drama" is blaring overhead, while an incidental conversation about Rolls-Royces and Fords is burping out of the meatheads to my left. I am so confused.
"I think the clue is Depends," I fart.
"Me too," Taylor inspects my barstool.
"Noooo, not like that. Think a little deeper. Like Depends equals deep end."
"There's a swimming pool at the Red Fox Inn!" We beam in unison.
Sleuthily, we position ourselves at the dark side of the pool, bending over and looking for clues that might not remind me of the time that I did coke with a bunch of Rollins girls, bent over and jumped in at 3 a.m. Those kind of clues won't get me anywhere. Those kind of clues might turn my hair green. We come across some painted numbers — "2.7 m, 9 ft" — which we loosely estimate is about the size of a large drink. Or, if you divide 9 into 2.7, you get .3, which is, we agree, very small.
Inside, a Lorna-less Mark (she's ill) is swinging through his lounge act, hiccupping "Moondance," which seems to play into the rectal theme of the evening swimmingly.
Mark says something like, "The bosses here don't know that Hitler's dead," followed by "I hope nobody's writing about tonight," smirking in my direction above a very, very shiny silver shirt. Over Taylor's shoulder, a Lithgow of sorts is giving me bedroom eyes, so I do what anybody with selective Tourettes would and bark "Third Rock!" at him.
Hanging a Louie at the geek theme, Taylor and I download ourselves farther down Mills to Will's Pub, where a spoken-word event does not disappoint, mostly because it does. Somebody onstage is going on longer than 30 seconds about interfacing computers and assorted downloading hijinks, while the crowd whimpers with nasal, after-school lab titters like the rattling of so many small penises against bony thighs.
"Peacock, then?" Taylor is a fucking genius.
By now I'm still struggling to put it all together: asses, penises and poo grinding around each other in that small space between my ears. Oh, and Hitler, too. I'm so internally busy that I accidentally pick up somebody else's lit cigarette from the ashtray next to me and start smoking it, which is just the sort of thing that could get my own ass kicked (or possibly fucked).
Tanya from Peacock may be sensing my smoky, bubbling conflict when she kicks by with a "Have you been to Studz?"
"Clue!" Taylor and I make hasty exits over each other.
But more than a clue, Studz is the hollow solution, the mystery squashed. The former perimeter gay dive has relocated uptown to the Cactus/Swank glory hole, and like at most gay bars, mystery is nowhere to be found; just black-painted walls and men with predatory dentures leaning against the bar.
"Maybe we're just supposed to take a dump here," Taylor slaps the clue book shut.
"Perfect," I fidget on my stool. "I could really use a clue."[email protected]