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Story by Stephen S. Mills (Read author interview) March 25, 2014

art by Paul Bilger

Same stop. Same train. Two gay men with cellos. One case black. One silver. They do not know each other. This is New York where two gay men with cellos can be at the exact same place at the exact same time and not know each other. That’s the thing about the city: there’s always someone out there just like you. Your double. Might read the same books. Buy the same clothes. Play the same instrument. They talk. These two men with cellos because that is what you do when you meet your double. Especially when your double is cute and gay like you. Gay as in the butt-fucking kind. Not the happy kind. Though these two look fairly happy and musically talented too or so I assume from the size of their cellos. That’s a bad sexual joke. Cellos are the same size I think. I know very little about music and I haven’t taken the time to look up cello sizes. I went to the symphony once as a kid. It was Halloween. All the musicians wore costumes and I couldn’t help but stare at the man with the utter sticking straight out of his crotch. Or was it a she? I don’t know. It didn’t matter at the time. These men of course are not dressed as cows. One is starting his master’s today. The other is off to rehearsal. These cellos have brought them together and because of that they will be in love by 42nd Street or maybe 59th by the way the one is moving his arms. His voice rising in excitement. This will be the beginning of something. And they will say Oh yes, we met on the subway, both carrying cellos, how strange is that? But it’s not that strange. That’s what I’m saying. People meet everyday in this city where people carry their whole lives in bags on their backs. Yes this is the beginning of something but also the end in a way. The end of mystery. They’ve discovered a double but what they don’t know is how hard the road ahead will be. The road that begins after that first date in a restaurant or a bar where they will both be amazed at all they have in common. They will sit with wide mouths as they discover their shared love of Mad Men, Jackson Pollock paintings, and Grace Kelly. This will make them tipsy on the pure magic of it all, which will cause them to fall into each other’s arms barely making it to the bed where clothes will be removed and sex will be made. For it will not be love. Not that first time. For there will only be one cello in the room: pressed against the wall. Its shadow stretching long and thin over their bodies which over time will slowly pull to each side of the bed discovering that secret spot where one goes back to two.

About the Author

Stephen S. Mills holds an MFA from Florida State University. His work has appeared in The Antioch Review, The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, PANK, The New York Quarterly, The Los Angeles Review, Knockout, Assaracus, The Rumpus, and others. He is also the winner of the 2008 Gival Press Oscar Wilde Poetry Award. His first book, He Do the Gay Man in Different Voices, is out from Sibling Rivalry Press, was a finalist for the Thom Gunn Poetry Award and won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. He currently lives in New York City. Website: http://www.stephensmills.com/

About the Artist

Paul Bilger’s photography has appeared at Qarrtsiluni, Brevity, and Kompresja. His work has also been featured on music releases by Dead Voices on Air and Autistici. When not taking pictures, he is a lecturer in philosophy and film theory at Chatham University. He is the art director at SmokeLong Quarterly. 

This story appeared in Issue Forty-Three of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty-Three

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