Grad student Gabe Mangan hurries home to his parents’ working-class suburb, sure his cancer-stricken father is already dead. On the way, he agonizes over his father’s destructive role in his first gay romance. His father was a proud bigot, anti-social and confrontational, and Gabe’s boyfriend is an African-American from an elite Denver family.
Can Gabe heal the wounds inflicted upon his connections to both his father and his first love?
Gabe grabbed the heavy glass dish and in terror, for a suspended moment, held it over his father's head. He wondered what would crack first, and loudest. Restraining the urge to find out, he overturned the entire glommy mass onto Patrick's already-full plate. Then he set the dish down, kissed the top of his mother's gray head, and rushed for the door, but not fast enough to elude Patrick's aim. Outside, with the sticky sauce dribbling from the nape of his neck into his collar, Gabe stumbled among his father's collection of giant illuminated plastic Wise Men.
He swung back to the city for his skis, making it to Vail and Marty's warm side past midnight. Startled awake, Marty smiled, kissed Gabe, then asked why he seemed scented by “fruit compote.”
Before Gabe could recount apple sauce tortures, Marty was already back to sleep, exhausted by Vail’s expert terrain. Gabe lit the scented candle on Marty’s nightstand and studied him, inch by inch.
In the overheated ski condo’s stuffiness, Marty had kicked off blanket and top sheet and lay naked, smiling through dreams. Gabe’s gaze roved his compact chest, his flat, taut stomach, all that golden skin in candle shine.
Whenever they made love, in wild regions zoned only for them, Marty claimed Gabe’s “working-class-Irish-scholarship-boy vibe” was a total turn-on.
“So, you’re slumming, and I’m just another big Mick with a dick?”
“Not unless I’m just another uppity Negro rich prick.”
“We can’t talk this way.”
“No. Not that I’m taking anything away from your big-Mick dickness, but my God, man, you’re brilliant, too!”
Gabe loved that, flattered that he wasn’t just a hack but a serious, brooding graduate student, discriminating with literature even if he didn’t know what the hell to do with some four-tined little fork on Marty’s family’s place settings. Gabe smiled and told him, “But don’t forget, I’m half-Bohunk, too.”
“And all hunk,” Marty had said, laughing and kissing him up and down his face, as if tracing with his lips Gabe’s dumb-mutt, outer-outskirts-of-Europe double helix. “Despite your tragic chromosomes.”
Totally uncool, barely suppressing a gauche gasp, he kept studying Marty’s body in the candlelight, overwhelmed by that old how can it be, that I came to share a bed with this god? Eyes shut tight, Marty babbled happily, swaying arms, crimping fingers. Gabe dreamed, too, dreamed of licking applesauce -- fruit compote -- off Marty’s sweet stomach, feasting all the way down.