36 lede

Nice and Respectable
by Irving A. Greenfield 

The MOMENT he walks into Carmine’s, I see his reflection in the large mirror behind the bar. A portly, gray-bearded man with a balding pate, he comes up to the bar and claims a stool, leaving one between us as etiquette demands at an uncrowded bar.
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Feast for Two by Patrice Sweeney

Dense steam, laden with the smell of seasoning, uncoiled from the dish just recently cooked. It was one of many; succulent and roasted to perfection. As it was placed amongst the other delicacies, the great table groaned with perverse pleasure for being weighed down so, and the two individuals oversaw the small kingdom of rich platters with mounting delight.

Looking by Mack Gallacher

His face had a pale, sharp sort of beauty. A complexion like fine sheepskin parchment stretched tautly over His angular bones. I sat three tables away, watching Him. I was too old to be watching a boy so intently. He was so very young. Eighteen at best. Strange how quickly you can leave that age behind. Ten years stood in the small distance between us. Young myself yet, but without His freshness. I’d been in one place too long for that. Sitting, I looked across the space between us, scattered with tables and chairs and others. An impediment obtruded itself in my observations in the form of another boy, one who held a neon rubik's cube in long, dark, delicate fingers, twirling it round and round. The brightly colored squares whirled into a single flashing blur. It distracted me from my object of gaze for a moment as I caught only glimpses of Him around the movement between us. Suddenly, the impediment leaned forward and stopped his dizzying phalanges in their acrobatics and my view was once more unrestricted. The completeness of His visage startled me anew. I’d forgotten in those short moments of obstruction how pale and smooth His cheek was, how black His eye, and how shyly He looked down at His book, avoiding my intrusive stare. Once, twice, His eyes flickered upward, nearly meeting mine before darting back into the safety of the pages that held His tenuous attention. I couldn’t help but laugh. At myself mostly. How odd I must seem. This girl woman across the room, staring, looking, gazing. My feelings were a jumble of awe, adoration, and desire – but I couldn’t quite decide if I wanted to kiss His lips or ask what kind of facial cleanser He used. Did I covet His attention or His even skin tone? Perhaps it was both. I had to leave. Had a class that I should have studied for during my study of His form, but He had made for much more interesting subject matter. I stood slowly, letting my eyes linger on His brow, His cheek, His lips, a distant kiss of farewell. He didn’t look up again, a courtesy I was grateful for, and I walked away without turning back.