Holding dinner jackets over their shoulders, Raffles and Bunny strolled under the cover of vibrant green-leaved trees as they made their way away from the park.
“That was a wonderful concert,” Bunny said with an enthusiastic spring in his step.
Raffles waved his cane in the air like he was a conductor. “Quite right, Bunny, how wonderful indeed. A fine summer’s eve, exquisite music, and the best company.”
Smiling, Bunny soon found his eyes mesmerised by the cane and he swayed in time with it, moving his arms upwards until he was playing an imaginary violin with a passionate flourish of his hands.
“You’re in a particularly good mood, Bunny.”
“I am rather.” Next, Bunny mimed playing the trumpet whilst making loud instrument noises with his mouth which sounded more like he was blowing raspberries.
Raffles laughed as they traversed the long winding road that led to uneven cobblestones and to the edge of town. The humid insufferable heat of the day had finally cooled and night had emerged at last, allowing the twinkling stars to come to life in the dark sky above.
“That last piece reminded me of the night sky,” Raffles said, placing on his jacket and looking upwards. “Didn’t it just pluck the strings of your own heart?”
Nodding, Bunny placed on his own jacket and thrust his arm through Raffles’. “It did rather. The violins especially produced such sorrow. The whole piece was quite a love story, starting so simple, to melancholic, and to that final crescendo of absolute joy.”
“Love is in the air tonight. I must’ve seen dozens of courting couples at that concert.”
“It puts one in the mood, certainly,” Bunny said, attempting to gaze upon Raffles’ wonderful profile without anyone seeing. He hesitated for a moment, standing still and shuffling from one foot to the other.
Raffles stopped walking when he realised Bunny had fallen behind.
“Not a stone in your shoe again, Bunny? I told you to invest in some better ones.”
“Very funny, no. I was thinking, that’s all.” He caught up with his friend.
“Love as a matter of fact.”
“Ah well it’s quite the complex subject.”
“Have you…ever been in love, A.J?”
“With a person?”
Bunny laughed. “Yes, a person! No jewels, no paintings and most importantly not yourself!”
“Am I not a person?”
“Well for arguments sake, let’s say it’s exceedingly shallow and preposterous to be in love with yourself.”
“In that case I suppose I have, once or twice maybe.”
Bunny bowed his head, picturing many a beautiful woman in his mind. “Oh?”
“And have you?” Raffles looked carefully at his friend.
“Yes. Once and a half.”
“A half?” Raffles let out a deep throaty laugh.
“Well half of me did, half of me wasn’t sure.”
“Well, here’s to finally finding the two halves!” Raffles said, nudging him with the cane. “It’s a beautiful night, shall we take a moment and sit?”
“Of course. On the wall here?”
Nodding, Raffles lifted the tails of his jacket and sat down beside Bunny who was now staring down at the ground, still deep in thought about the conversation of love.
“Love is a painful thing sometimes, isn’t it?” Bunny said, looking up shyly.
“Yes. Anything on your mind, Bunny? Such talk of love. Are you afflicted yourself?” He glanced at him and then also looked away shyly.
“Sometimes I feel it’d be easier not to be in love for you’re never allowed to love the person you truly want.”
With a sigh, Raffles rubbed Bunny’s arm. “But love comes in so many forms, my dear fellow. There’s brotherly love, passionate love, there’s love of the aesthetic nature. There are brothers in arms, domestic kinds of love. Don’t worry yourself trying to define how you feel. If you care for someone, then that is all that matters.”
“But should I tell them how I feel?”
“Oh absolutely. Take their hand, Bunny, like this,” he said, taking his hand, and placing it in his own. “Look them in the eye and say it, even with a whisper.”
Bunny gulped as Raffles’ blue eyes continued to stare deep into his soul. Could he say it? Could he find the words? He couldn’t even move his body. He froze in utter terror at the suggestion of it. Why did he have to be such a coward?
“I will do it, I promise I will, soon,” he said finally.
“Don’t take too long, Bunny. The song doesn’t play forever.”
There was a pause then as both men sat in the breeze of the night and just listened to the sound of silence. Bunny’s mind raced with thoughts, as though he was having a conversation with himself whilst Raffles only heard the music of the concert re-playing in his mind’s ear. He waved his cane in the air again.
“Raffles, you know what I was saying about being in love? Would it be so very wrong if… it were you?”
Lighting a cigarette, Raffles took a long drag and then smiled. “Why ever should that be wrong? In fact, it would be very right. And I think you’re very brave for having the courage to tell me, for this is one instant where you are far braver than I.”
“Braver than you, A.J?”
“I feel quite the same.”
Bunny laughed. “You also love you?”
With a smirk, Raffles shoved him. “You know what I mean. Our hearts are as one, Bunny. We make music together you and I. I knew as soon as you came back into my life that I should never want you out of it. We are the perfect pair. We are as that tune back there— so simple and then so melancholic when you were at the very depths of despair. And then together we have built to that crescendo of joy in this very moment.”
“One hopes the song doesn’t end with a solitary violin with a broken string.”
“For now, Bunny. We live for now. We love one another. Back to the Albany for a drink?”