The one window in his hospital room faced due North, so he was never able to actually see the sun. And, since he would likely never leave this room alive, that meant that he would never feel the direct warmth of the sun's light on his face again.

He had turned quite pasty as well as gaunt. Christobal had lost over 200 pounds now and was down to under 100. Sometimes he would have a phlegmy laugh about how he must have looked at the height (or width) of his obesity. Someone out there had that picture of him in a red Speedo at Sloane's pool party two summers ago. He wished he could see a copy of that now. He tried to imagine that image in his mind: A besotted queer weighing in at a cool 315 with a martini glass in one hand and the other flitting in mid-air as if to call attention to himself with a make-believe castanet. . . A receding hairline and jowls framed above a pair of moobs which literally made a flapping noise each time he took a step. . . Mockishly thin legs for a man of this size almost hidden by the enormous gut which all but covered up the little piece of bright red spandex hiding the nervous little apparatus. . . The little twitch in his suit which would finally seek out the death sentence . . . The sentence which would lead him to this dim hospital room where he could lie in a haze and look forward to a painful release.

He had usually kept his desires in check well enough to avoid the disease pits which had claimed so many of his friends and their friends. He had spent most of his emotional chips on Pedro, and (aside from that madness in Mexico so long ago with Sloane), there had only been half a dozen others to whom he'd ever released himself. The rest of his love life had been in his mind and his right hand. So what had happened at that pool party that hot August day to make him so reckless? He tried to put the pieces together in his morphined mind as he looked at the bibelot on his bedside table and then rang for the (not exactly ugly) black male nurse and some forgetfulness.


The experiment with religious salvation had not lasted long. Sondra had actually agreed to attend the church services with him after Pedro had left him in that desolate state, which seemed like a lifetime ago. The folks at the church were nice enough, but Sondra had wasted no time in treating the congregation like she would any of her other circle of friends, and soon it was no secret that the good folks had invited a couple of reprobates into their fold who were probably not going to be part of the Flock of the Lamb anytime in this lifetime. Sondra only went back once, but Christobal stuck out his attempt at redemption by way of the Blood of that same Lamb for almost a year. Toward the end of that year, no one at the church really wanted to speak to him. They would smile and nod, but then the whispering would begin with flimsy Orders of Service sheets held up to tight lips.

Those Christians really opened those tight lips when it was chow time, however; and they taught him how to enjoy food again. It seemed to him that they might have misunderstood the parable of the fatted calf somewhat. The potato salad and BBQ ribs and lemon meringue pies looked like false idols to him, but if all these good folks were digging in, the Lord must approve.

It astounded Christobal to watch himself rationalize somehow that God wanted him to substitute food for sex. He thought about the camel and the eye of the needle and he thought about Christ fasting while awaiting a confrontation with the Devil himself. And then he thought about how good those baked beans looked with that bacon on top.


So, one year and one hundred solid LDL markers later, he had left that church where the men played basketball while the women cooked their lunch. He hadn't seen Sondra or Sloane for months, and a part of him was curious as to whether they were living or dead. He called the last number he had for Sloane and got a message saying, "This number has been changed. The new number is ....." The new number had an exchange in an area which Sloane could have never afforded. This piqued Christobal's interest and he dialed the new number he'd been given.

"Who's calling," said the gruff voice on the line.

"I'm a friend of Gordon."

"They're all friends of Gordon, asshole. What's your name?"

"Tell him the Evil One is calling."

"You're fucking with me, right?"

"No, you tell him what I said and he'll know who I am."

The gruff-voiced fellow laid the phone down with a couple of grumbling "motherfuckers" and was gone for quite a while. Christobal could hear many voices in the background and the sound of splashing water. After about ten minutes, Sloane answered. "Is this you, you fat-assed queen? Goddammit, I thought you'd been pulled up by the Rapture to hear Sondra tell it. What happened? God couldn't lift your fat fucking carcass up in his glorious whirlwind? And how come I didn't read about this in the fucking paper? Where in the fuck are you?"

"I'm in the same apartment, Gordon. Where are you living?"

"I'm living large, asshole. I'm five by five out here in the valley. Hell, we're having a pool party. Why don't you get on your tricycle and haul your belarded butt out here? Shit, I might even have a little surprise for you, old buddy."

After hanging up, Christobal thought of at least a dozen reasons why he should forget this invitation. And then he called a cab.