Kyle Regan giggled to himself, he couldn’t even walk a straight line but veered to the left and stumbled along de Maisonneuve Street in Montreal. I’m so f***in’ drunk! It was midnight and warm for winter. Ahead, a neon sign blinked, Poutine! directing his senses toward the delight of hot gravy over melted cheese curds and French fries, so dirty and delicious, his mouth watered just thinking about it.
He had been out with some University classmates at the Peel recycled-beer Pub. He hadn’t wanted to go. It was too Jock and Jill but it was a bar and he loved to get hammered. He also felt obliged as it was an eighteenth birthday.
He may have seemed disoriented, standing on the winter curbside wearing a flimsy coat, no hat or gloves and appearing as if he was selling his body or seeking drugs when a white Jeep pulled up. The window rolled down and a fine-looking clean-cut guy in his mid-twenties appeared behind the wheel.
“Hey you wanna come with me to a club?” the guy asked, in a French accent. Invited off the street just like that!
Kyle’s need for poutine dissipated as he figured this guy was gay and the invite was presumably to a gay club. He was intrigued. He had heard of the gay village but never dared to look for it on a map for fear of incrimination.
“Huh, what did you say?” Kyle asked, stalling to assess if he could trust this character.
“Come with me to the bar? Come on. It’ll be fun,” he said. Kyle could hear his mother …cars!…strangers!…bad! but was aroused. He was also a sucker for a pretty face! He felt the remnants of beer and marijuana he’d shared with one of the jocks out behind the pub.
I’m young. It’s mild!
“Sure, let’s go,” Kyle said.
You better watch out for yourself. I can’t always take care of you, said his inner voice.
They rode along the tree-lined street heading east. Kyle tried to hold back giggles at the major language barrier between them. This guy hadn’t a clue of English and Kyle’s French was emergency French only, un autre biere. The less talking, the better.
The car reeked of Drakkar Noir.
What are you doing, Kyle?
I can do whatever I want.
French guy maneuvered the car into an alley behind a row of bars. They passed Saint-Hubert Street near the warehouses close to the docklands. Either these would be the last minutes of his life before being found in a dumpster or else he had finally made it to the worst kept secret in Montreal.
French guy turned off the ignition. Kyle saw he was older, in his late twenties with intense eyes, an army crew-cut, dressed in a ripped and faded jean jacket with a red bandanna sticking out of his front pocket. What he saw was appealing indeed. You never forget your first time!
They approached the darkened entrance to Sécurité Maximum, like the name of a prison. Hot! What happens to weaklings in prison? He’d seen Midnight Express on TV. Kyle’s mouth watered at the thought of the dungeon, the smell of dry ice and cigarette smoke. Tantalized, he followed the guy through the pitch-black hallway.
A mixture of men’s cologne and cigarettes hit him in the face which was not altogether unpleasant. He had gone way ahead and the place was packed so Kyle was already on his own. He stopped at a black door with a small round painted-out window. He pushed the door open into another dark room and saw hopping nightclub through a crack in the velvet curtain.
The beat throbbed. The car ride with French guy was long forgotten and replaced by dizziness and longing. You’ve never come this far before! Don’t chicken out now!
He opened the curtain. The room exploded with strobe lights and blaring house music, a female singer losing her mind, ‘cause you ride on time, gonna get up… The swirl of colored lights directed attention to an all-male dance floor. Kyle was shocked to see men dancing and touching each other. An entire microcosm of testosterone, living a secret life inside this huge warehouse. How could they all be bad?
He went to the bar and ordered a Brador beer from the translucent-skinned punk rocker and leaned against a wall and nervously sipped it.
There were no girls in sight. Maybe they were all in back beyond the velvet curtain, getting ready for a show. Maybe this wasn’t a gay bar at all but he knew that it was.
Kyle swilled down the rest of the beer in three gulps. A wave of too-much, too-soon, nausea crept up and rested at the top of his throat. He turned to his left and yacked up into a plastic-potted palm in the corner. Was there such a thing as over excitement?
Real class act! He laughed out loud at how ridiculous he must seem. Thankful for the darkness!
Someone tapped his shoulder, “It’s not great tonight. A coffee or something?” he asked.