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It was hot, for mid November. Even for the desert, it was hot. Cecil could practically hear Carlos muttering about Global Warming already, but tried to chase the fantasy away before it led to their usual inevitable argument because come ON, the Troposphere wasn’t really real. And don’t even get him started on this so-called ‘Ozone Layer’, buddy. Really. Cecil did his best to cut back on CO2 emissions, partially because it made Carlos happy but mainly because he didn’t want the plants to get all cocky and start walking around like they owned the place again. But a Stratosphere and whatnot? Come on.

It was hot, though, and the day was tired and listless. If you asked Cecil, it was time’s fault, really. It was supposed to be November, but who was to say that September hadn’t just decided to stretch on and on and on this year? It would explain the heat, certainly. And the malaise of a summer’s end dragging out for far too long. He checked his watch. It was 7:15pm, for what it was worth. Whatever else was going on in this crazy town, it was definitely 7:15pm, Mountain Time Zone. The sun, fresh from its little rest earlier that day, was still up. Was the sun still supposed to be up, at 7:15pm in November? Well. Who was he to dictate to the sun when it should be seen and not seen? Who were any of them to do so? He’d seen pictures of the sun, to scale with the Earth. Carlos had shown him. That thing was HUGE, and according to Carlos, made up of ongoing thermonuclear explosions. Nope. He wasn’t boss of the sun.

Carlos’ single storey house was a small, cheap rental, but well maintained. Especially today. Well maintained, that is – it was always small, and rented cheap. The grass was mown, the windows washed… my, Carlos had been busy. Cecil let himself in with the key Carlos had given him. Inside, the house smelled of fresh linen and furniture polish. Cecil reached into his overnight bag for the first of his dust sheets, but saw that the hallway mirror had already been covered. He smiled.

‘You were expecting me?’ he called, making his way through to the bedroom.

‘I was listening to your show,’ came the voice from the bedroom beyond. ‘I always listen to your show. You talked about me a lot, today. On your mind, was I?’

‘You were the only one doing anything.’

‘And how did you know I was reorganizing my closet?’

Cecil paused by the piles of Carlos’ clothes – the heap of drab old lab coats, plaid shirts and blue jeans to go out, and the stack of sharp, with-it lab coats, plaid shirts and blue jeans to keep. Cecil approved.

‘A good journalist never reveals his sources,’ he said.

‘You’re psychic, aren’t you.’

Cecil sighed. They’d had this conversation before. ‘As I say. I never reveal my sources.’ He went in to the bedroom.

‘Either way, it worked.’ Bathed in the golden evening sunlight, Carlos smiled up at Cecil from freshly laundered sheets. ‘All I have to do is say out loud that I’m going to bed, and here you are.’ He patted the empty expanse of bed next to him. ‘Poor baby, having to work through a Lazy Day. You must be exhausted. And hot. If you know what I mean.’

Cecil shot him a glance, and started taking off his piano keyboard tie.

‘Any word from the trees?’ Carlos asked, watching him disrobe.

‘No,’ replied Cecil, undoing the buttons to his paisley sundress.

Carlos sucked through his teeth. ‘We’re going to need those back soon, I’d say.’

‘I imagine we will,’ said Cecil, peeling off his satin evening gloves.

‘I miss my peach tree,’ added Carlos.

Cecil nodded sympathetically, kicking off his brogues.

‘Although it did make mowing the lawn easier without it,’ said Carlos. ‘I’d never actually tell it that, though.’

‘Don’t want to inflate their egos,’ Cecil warned, unclipping his stockings.

In his head, Cecil heard Carlos ask ‘what about Old Woman Jos…’

Cecil mentally played the Strexcorp Anthem as loudly as he could and pictured the corporation’s bright yellow logo completely filling his mind’s eye, blotting out Carlos’ enquiry. Walls had ears. Corn had ears. Heads had ears. Mind probes had human operators, who had ears. One couldn’t be too careful.

Carlos blinked and frowned to himself. If he was going to attempt a follow-up question, it was cut short when Cecil undid his garter belt, slipped off his mankini and slid beneath the light cotton sheet over his bed. Skin touched bed-warmed skin, soft and dry, smelling faintly of cooled sweat and desert heat and, in Carlos’ case, fresh cut grass.

Two sets of lips were presented with a wealth of really super places for lips to go. Cecil was pretty sure that at least a third of his lips’ 50 Places To Visit Before They Die were upon Carlos’ person. They were well traveled lips by now, though, so they settled for the crook of his neck (‘A Tour-De-Force! Five Stars. If you only kiss one body part this year, you could do much worse than it being the crook of Carlos’ neck’ – Cecil’s Lips, August 2013) and waited to see where they would felt particularly drawn to next. Carlos’ lips, in turn, set up a happy camp on the inside of Cecil’s left wrist. (‘Thoroughly enjoyable experience. Would recommend. Oh wait, I can make a pun out of this… Palmer by name, palmar by… not nature, I suppose. But it’s called the palmar side, see, and your surname… I’ll just stop talking, now’ – Carlos’ Lips, August 2013).

The evening was still lazy, and the only sounds for some time were the hum of a ceiling fan that was just about able to persuade the air to move about a tad, the shifting of skin on cotton and the soft, intimate whispers of lips pressing moist praises against the favoured body parts of a treasured other. Cecil’s lips continued to play around Carlos’ neck in a manner that would make even the most hardened vampire flush, skulk away and then write a strongly worded letter about the frankly obscenely teasing nature of it all. Carlos’ lips were wanderers, however. Always had been. Well – they were attached to a scientist after all, and those people liked to explore. They kissed a trail down Cecil’s forearm, hiked the valley of his inner elbow and the gentle hillock of his bicep, avoided the ticklish trough of the armpit, taking the high road of the shoulder instead, on to the broad plains of Cecil’s chest. Cecil’s lips lost contact as Carlos moved his head to take his lips over clavicle to sternum, taking a sharp turn there to journey down, down, down over chest, over belly, over naval, down down to where hair began to grow a line, a fuzzy arrow pointing towards a now inevitable destination. Down. Down. Following the trail into a forest and, like Hansel and Gretel, finding within there a delicious place to stop.

Cecil spread his legs to accommodate Carlos’ shoulders, his lips uncomplaining about the lack of Carlos’ neck, drawn back instead into a peaceful smile. Everything was perfect. The room about them was filled with hearts.

Little fluttering hearts.

Little, disembodied, still-beating, blood-spurting human hearts.

Gravity started imposing itself on them, one by one. And, one by one, they fell with a wet “splat” onto the bed.

Carlos looked up from his ministrations, annoyed. ‘Cecil, are you manifesting things again?’

Oh, for the love of Pete. This conversation, again? ‘It wasn’t me,’ objected Cecil.

‘You say that, Cecil. But if you look objectively at the occurrences and how your proximity and activity at the time tallies with each…’

Oh, he would have to bring science into this, wouldn’t he? OK, so generally a lot of things had been manifesting recently while they were getting intimate. So the first time he’d known the joy of being brought to sexual climax by his Carlos, a hard light rainbow bridge had shot from his gasping mouth, refracted through a glass coffee table and set fire to a rug. Who cares? It didn’t mean it was definitely him doing it. It could be any number of things or persons sanctioning their sexual congress with unexpected gifts materializing from unexpected places.

‘Stuff manifests’, replied Cecil. ‘These things happen.’

‘I don’t want a repeat of the kittens, Cecil.’

‘The kittens were cute, Carlos! Who wouldn’t love a bed full of kittens when they snuggle?’

‘They were confused, angry and very scratchy, Cecil. I had to get shots for tetanus and rabies. And then, there was the incident with the bluebirds. Tell me – why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?’

‘Not every time,’ Cecil sighed. ‘And they probably just wanted to be close to me.’

‘You very nearly died.’

Cecil shrugged. ‘Meh.’

‘”Meh”. That’s all you can say? “Meh”?’

‘It’s just a Meh kind of day, Carlos. Meh.’

‘Oh.’ Carlos turned away.

‘Well, not this bit of it, obviously.’ Cecil reached across and tucked one of the salt-and-pepper curls at Carlos’ temple back behind his ear.

Carlos huffed and turned back to him. ‘Look at you,’ he muttered fondly. ‘You have an aortic arch on your head.’

‘I do?’ Cecil touched his hair, feeling for the artery. ‘Well, that’s good luck, Carlos! It signifies a long, happy and healthy partnership. Do you have any idea how much brides pay stylists to weave these into their hair on the big day, as per the tradition?’

Carlos crooked a smile. ‘Oh, it’s lucky, is it?’


‘Signifies virility, does it?’

‘Happiness and health, Carlos.’

‘Same difference.’

‘Not really.’

Carlos plucked the artery from Cecil’s hair. ‘Does it signify anything in particular about the “Bride” getting quite comprehensively fucked before a deep, contented post-coital nap?’

Cecil managed a slight shrug. ‘I’ve never been married, so I haven’t actually seen the paperwork regarding the matter…’

Carlos stopped his mouth with a long, slow, terribly suggestive kiss. He shifted so that he was lying on top of Cecil, and ran a hand up the inside of his thigh…

That was when the dead pig fell on them both.

Carlos fought his way from underneath it as an impulse as automatic as all that rather off-putting screaming, leaving the weight on the pig to drop on to Cecil.

‘Oh shit. Cecil!’ Carlos struggled to pull the animal off his boyfriend. Are you OK?’

‘Carlos,’ muttered Cecil, eyeing the pig. ‘Carlos. Oh, Carlos!’ He beamed, tears in his eyes. ‘A blessing!’