Adam Henry Carrière ~ A Simple Set of Love Stories

The separate blacks of the warm night and the cold waves combined to push the orange glow of the city back from the acres of sand Shant and Graham paddled barefoot over. They passed a pair of young couples, who were making out on the last stretch of dry beach. Shant touched Graham’s arm, turned around and said to the dates, “Me and my stepbrother are gonna go skinny-dipping. Wanna come with us?” All six tittered as they stripped down, ran forward with a roar, and then screamed in an uneven chorus as the chilled water engulfed their bodies. Shant and one of the girls took a second dive. It was all Graham could do not to try and start an orgy. He swore the remaining girl and her beefy date had been checking him out through the shadows.

Graham’s toes kept slipping off the wagon’s pedals. “There’s sand in my crack,” Shant chuckled. Waiting at a stoplight back on the boulevard, Graham softly asked if Shant wanted to keep going until they reached Miami. “Not without all my new mint stuff,” Shant replied with a giggle.

The small old dog and the large black cat were huddled together on the oriental carpet inside the Victorian’s front door. They scarcely stirred as Shant and Graham slipped in. Shant glanced down at them and took a mystified Graham by the hand into the plush sitting room adjacent. “I love you so much, Graham. I love you so much,” he repeated, before resorting to the one indisputable language they could commune within utterly free of false impressions and delusions, masks or fetters.


No one sleeping inside the mansion saw or heard the little early-model German convertible roll up to the house. Blaise cursed himself for not coming earlier, when someone might’ve been awake. He was more than a little strung out, but coming down, slowly. He had gotten lost more than once trying to find the place. Now he didn’t want to leave. He unlatched then flipped back his car’s canvas top, for a minute thinking it might be funny to beat off where he sat. The second he saw a light come on in one of the century-old Victorian’s upstairs rooms, he drove out of the cul-de-sac.


Roque all but went into hysterics as soon as he saw the POLICE LINE – DO NOT CROSS ribbons hanging from one corner to the next across the gate that led up to Sebastian’s house. He knew what they meant. Zeke had spent the early morning ride from downtown weighing his options once they would reach the estate. He turned toward his son and coolly slapped him once, hard, turning him around where he sat. Zeke then clutched Roque’s tiny arms. “Your buddy wasn’t hurt. He’s with his mom,” a frenzied bitch who’d swallowed a bowl of pills before they finally found her, Zeke recalled angrily. Her boy was in a stupor before he recognized Zeke and sailed into his arms, sobbing, while the salty Italian sergeant, already at the scene, had whispered to Zeke that the incoherent mother hadn’t yet told Sebastian his father had done gone with the explosive’s wind. Zeke had to do it. It was the worst thing he had ever done as a police officer. Striking his son Roque came in a close second.

Zeke gave the wide-eyed Roque one strong shake. “Now you listen. Sebastian’s fine, he’s gonna be all right. Know how I know? Because we’re gonna take care of him. His mom’s real sick and she asked me to watch him until she gets better. I’m gonna talk to Mr. Ned and all your uncles and set it up. But you’re not gonna tell anyone at school about this, not until after it happens. Comprende?”

Roque nodded once and squeaked, “Si, Papi, comprende.” Zeke crushed him inside his arms, unspeakably proud that Roque had not cried and kept it together on their way to the schoolhouse. The boy flashed a nippy smile when Zeke made a joke about his classmates watching him arrive in the custody of the police. Zeke hoped that wreck of a woman got her little Sebastian back to school too, just to get him the fuck away from her.


Jonny still felt Shant’s hands scouring his body with hot water and mint soap. He fantasized his parents finding them in the shower in nightmarish fragments. He saw incoherent glimpses of his and Shant’s nakedness, the flowers on the shower curtain, and the spotless white floor tiles coming and going out of a dark miasma. The pain was terrible, yet he could still smell the mint. Hands he didn’t know and couldn’t see ran across his body. Electricity, or maybe lightning, seemed to flash close to him. Warmth and coldness vied within his veins. Little by little, the agony inside his ribcage turned into an unbearable metallic noise that wafted through the gathering fog. He was slipping backward into it. The darkness was beyond all imagining. Jonny tried to hang onto the new set of hands he fought to recognize before his entire being sank into the thudding penumbra, once and for all.


The everlastingly harried but endearingly unctuous – a few might say charming – studio production chief was already amped up from a sugar- and caffeine-laden breakfast on the go and frankly a little chipper at the prospect of an early lunch with his star screenwriter nee voodoo witch doctor. What new diabolical plots would he be hatching on the expense account today? He seemed to swim in scripts the production maven would happily cut a few easy checks for and dump right into Development where they’d never emerge; Ned wrote well past the ten-mile limit over most audiences’ heads, but it was important to keep him close for emergency reclamation projects, not to mention keeping the other studios the fuck away from him. Plus, the chief found Ned terribly attractive, dashing almost, but above all reeking in humble assurance and quiet self-reliance, two exceptional commodities for a writer in general and a movie biz habitué in particular. Who wouldn’t fall for a man like that? The exec wished he had been a little more grown-up about letting his attraction hang out, as it were, but Ned took it with his usual grace. Ned’s early call to the office suite was unexpected but warmly welcomed. Did I know a good cardiology man? Why, the studio exec knew the best heart man in town, one whose craft was honed by keeping half the old guard’s tickers running despite decades of coffee, cigarettes, steak dinners at Chasen’s, and plenty of Scotch in between. Cedars-Sinai built a wing on his billing. He’d have the good doctor out to see Ned’s little friend before lunch. And he couldn’t wait to hear Ned’s pitch on a simple teenaged love story with a ‘corkscrew’ of a twist.

Ned quietly went to the small Mission-style church near Emiliani Street before their lunch. He lit a candle for Jonny, plus another two for his departed wife and child. He considered a fourth for Miles, seeing as his handwritten manuscript was out in the Rolls, but Ned thought that might be a little untoward. As if being ‘toward’ was his strong suit.


Roque and Sebastian changed into their gym clothes with the rest of their class but lingered behind in the boys’ locker room as Sebastian robotically related the insane whirlwind of events that had overwhelmed him since being dropped off by Roque’s family a few nights earlier. Roque didn’t like Sebastian’s dull monotone or his faraway look, and he sure didn’t like how Sebastian could speak about such things without shouting out the really awful bits (like his frenzied mom crashing head-first through their glass patio doors) or crying at any point. Neither boy knew Sebastian was fairly heavily medicated.

A boy in their class was sent to get them. He came upon where they were sitting at the very same moment Roque kissed Sebastian’s cheek, paused, and then kissed him again on his tiny lips. The boy screamed, “They’re being gay!” to the otherwise empty locker room. In a flash, Roque had him by his t-shirt. With it he hurled the boy against a row of lockers before belting him as hard as he could right in the mouth. Small sixth graders don’t usually throw terrifically hard punches, but this one hit loose flesh (and a row of front teeth) so there was some blood. Before the boy could scream anything else, their genial but bored gym coach appeared with half the rest of the class in tow. He had no chance to ask what had happened; Sebastian sleepwalked up to him and said, “I did it.”

The coach, knowing Sebastian had just lost his dad, took one look at the scene and ordered everyone outside to the track. The boy with the split lip avoided Roque and Sebastian for the rest of the class and never repeated either what he’d seen or had said.


from the new novel Shant, now available in quality paperback from Hammer & Anvil Books exclusively on Amazon dot com {US GB FR DE IT SP JP}.

Adam Henry Carrière is an online habitué specializing in letters, publishing design, and instruction. A former NPR broadcaster, he holds a BA in Film & Video from Columbia College and an MA in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California. He has taught writing at both his alma mater and for the United States Navy across the Pacific. Born on the South Side of Chicago, Adam is presently domiciled in Las Vegas, where he has won the Nevada Arts Council Fellowship in Poetry. He styles as Verleger / Herausgeber of Danse Macabre, Nevada’s first online literary magazine, and DM du Jour, its daily gazette. He is the author of Miles  (2013) and the coming poetry collection Faschingslieder (2018).


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