Though Jimmy’s ill and isn’t getting any better, he hopes to have a bit of fun during Pride weekend. When he meets Nolan, a young dancer in the parade, Jimmy takes a chance on making himself vulnerable for the first time in years.
What Jimmy doesn’t expect is how strong Nolan will make him feel with a simple gesture of support.
Note: This short story was originally published in the charity collection, Love Is Proud.
Outside, the sidewalk was filled with the last of the crowd pouring out of the club.
“Oh, wow, I'd forgotten how nice oxygen feels.” Paul fanned himself. He was sweating. “Can't believe you two got me to dance.” He gave Nolan an affectionate look. “You sure got moves for a bank teller.”
Jimmy couldn't believe his luck. On the dance floor, Nolan had stayed close to him, never slipping out of his hands. Guys had tried to cut in, but Nolan hadn't let anyone come between them.
“Actually,” Nolan said, reaching for Jimmy's hand and holding it tight, “I'm a dancer. I mean -- I'm starting at Montreal's Dance Academy in the fall. That's why I moved here. I was accepted.” He grinned. “I got in this time. It was my second audition. And I got in!”
Jimmy understood the dedication it must have taken Nolan to make this dream happen. One thing Jimmy could relate to after twenty years of making his way in the food industry, was ambition and the pursuit of goals. “Wow,” he said, squeezing Nolan's hand. “Congratulations.”
“If you wanna see me in action,” Nolan said with a little smirk Jimmy was already fond off, “my bank has a float in the parade tomorrow and I was crazy enough to volunteer to dance for them. I've never even been to a Pride event and now I'm gonna be in one. Isn't that nuts? My friends and family back home are gonna see me on TV and know exactly who I am. No more hiding for me.” He looked at Jimmy. “Will you be there?”
“Absolutely.” Jimmy swallowed pins, knowing he was pushing himself this weekend. If he wasn’t careful, he’d end up in the hospital again.
Nolan took his phone out. “Shit, I really need to get some rest now or I'll be good for nothing tomorrow, but can we exchange numbers and maybe meet up tomorrow or something?”
Paul pressed Jimmy's shoulder and winked. “Hey, I'm gonna get going,” he said. “Thanks for the amazing night, guys.” He hugged Jimmy. “He's so lovely,” he breathed into his ear. “Don't be afraid.” He walked away and then turned to look at them. “Have a great Pride!”
Nolan and Jimmy stood face to face for a moment, oblivious to the noise and people around them. “I think I'm probably a little older than you are, huh?” Jimmy finally said.
“I'm twenty-seven.” Nolan tilted his head, watching him closely. “And the fine lines around your mouth tell me you're a smiler.”
Jimmy couldn't help laughing. “Yeah. Guess I am.”
Nolan reached for Jimmy’s hand and turned it over, before skimming his palm with a fingertip. “Your life line is very long, so you're not going anywhere for a while. There's plenty of time.”
Jimmy stared at his hand inside Nolan's fingers. He wanted to tell him he was probably wrong about that. His viral load was detectable and he wasn’t well at all.
“Your love line tells me that --”
“No, tell me tomorrow ...” Jimmy tried to smile. “Okay?”
“Okay, well, I'll be the guy in the skimpy green briefs, with the money symbol painted on his chest.”