Who knew

i first met them at the nuyorican’s cafe. we were waiting to enter and they were there, wearing a felt coat that i felt, was too much for tonight. it was cold. i was alone; so i tried to talk to them. they corrected me and gave me their pronouns first, and i thought it alright. the line was moving, but they decided that they won’t go.

they wrote down their number, and their name all in lower case. i said, like bell hooks? they said of course. no letter deserve importance over any other. one day they’ll get it styled like that legally. i said fuck laws.

they looked at me and asked, do you want to come with?
i said, and what, miss the show?
they said, you’ll miss me.

on the stage just visible over the other queuers and through the cafe’s muggy storefront window—a single person, hands empty, swayed to the tune of unheard music. the most tender and dismissive of smiles played on his mauve-painted lips. he could sing, it was rumoured, the most poisonous of ballads. the disenchanted yearned to hear him, have him break their hearts to prove that they had hearts.

would i miss his show for them? i contemplated the fairness of such a trade.

sweeten the deal, i suggested,
to which they frowned, delicate brow furrowing; but you are the sweetest one here.