The irony was not lost on Tim. While he sat in the bustling middle of Royal Street with his fingers wrapped around the tip of Clive’s clarinet, Clive crouched forward and explained the issue with his cock. It was too large, he told Tim just loud enough that the other band members setting up for today’s gig, including Kira the violinist they’d brought in only a couple weeks ago, could overhear the humble brag. Tim felt hot embarrassment creep into the sides of his face, but tried to hide it with a creased brow and unwavering gaze, treating Clive’s problem with his latest conquest as if it was a topic of genuine concern. Still he felt the glances of the others, some quick, some lingering like campfire embers and he paid no mind, staying focused while Clive continued his tale about how he simply couldn’t fit in this girl’s butt. He’d known their bandleader for two years, and while he was frequently a difficult person – one ex-bandmate called him a double-sided verbal razor-blade coated in alcohol – Tim had liked Clive’s brashness and charisma. He was an excellent musician as well as a formidable playa, and the stories of his exploits gave Tim an active, vicarious sex life set to the whimsical tones of the Dixieland they played together. Recently though, Tim’s tolerance for both busking and Clive had started to wane, the excitement of playing in the center of all these rusted New Orleans pastels and greed-sodden, wide-eyed tourists having lost its organic rush. Playing had in general become a chore, as was listening to Clive drone on about his adventures between the sheets and the details he insisted were important with his booming voice and gregarious laugh were flat notes wafting through humid afternoons. Yet Tim listened, partly believing, partly irritated, and partly, if he were forced to admit it, still hopeful that he and Clive’s own chemistry still lurked behind each one of these ribald anecdotes; the water beneath his snake-oil salesman grin.
They’d kissed one time, right around when Tim had joined the band. It was a hazy evening, measured in empty pint glasses, neon, a hoarse voice and cigarette breath. Clive was the first man Tim had kissed. He’d noticed himself in flux beforehand, right after high school he started watching porn with an eye on the men, their length and thickness, the musculature and straight lines at the jaw, the abdomen. He grunted hardest when they came, timing himself with their release and while the women’s hunger still turned him on, it was the men tensing, letting go, weakening that was led him to climax. Kissing Clive was unexpected, thrilling. Their lips fit as naturally as any woman Tim had kissed and while he wasn’t crazy about the straw texture of Clive’s dreads under his open palm, Tim’s body roared when he felt the hardness growing in Clive’s pants rub against his leg. That was the anchor that kept him listening while every wind in life seemed to be blowing him away from music and from Clive, especially the hot air spewed while they were setting up for a gig.
Clive finished rolling his cigarette, clearing a dreadlock from his face and smiling big. He’d settled on the same conclusion as always to his conundrum: find someone new who can satisfy him. Then he laughed, big and dark, but melodic and charming like a canyon echo. And as Tim handed him his clarinet and went back to setting up his drum kit, he saw the violinist looking long at Clive with a bottom lip slightly tucked under a front tooth. Of course. The new band member induction. The story was bait, lines cast just loud enough to inspire curiosity. Clive wasn’t talking to Tim, but at him. The drummer sighed heavily, tightened his high-hat and knew this was going to be another long gig.