Nick entered the diner and looked around. He quickly spied Jason sitting in a corner booth stirring his coffee. Ah, a nice hot cup, Nick thought. Would do him good on this sort of night. Neon lights blinking in the outside cold kept illuminating his and Jason’s booth.
“Hey, man. Where’s my cup?” Nick asked, sliding into the booth opposite Jason. They shook hands.
“Bro. It’ll be here. He’ll see you. Told him you’d be here shortly,” Jason both greeted and answered Nick.
“So what’s the deal?” Nick asked outright.
“Thinkin’ of going public with that rich chap I told you about,” Jason said. “Turns out he’s a local politician. Down in Charlottesville.”
“Going public?” exclaimed Nick. “With a politician? Geez. You lost it man?”
“Ain’t lost shit. Just angry,” Jason said.
“Name’s gonna be shit, man. In the papers. On TV. You don’t know nothing about pressure,” Nick said.
“Pressure or no pressure, I’m sick of him. Sick of him gettin’ away with it.” Jason stammered.
“Gettin’ away with what? Being gay?” Nick asked.
“Yeah, man. Bein’ gay. But not only that—with crossing the color line.” Jason said.
“Don’t mean nothing anymore,” said Nick. “Used to, maybe. There’s plenty of ‘em out there nowadays. Othellos and white chicks. Brown Bettys and Madison Avenue guys. Anything goes, you know?”
“It ain’t right—all secretive like that,” Jason retorted. “Folks need to know. Folks who voted for 'im. And who am I? What do I got to lose, man?”
“Shit. Some people will hate you, man,” Nick said.
“Some,” replied Jason. “Not all, not all. They’ll be glad I blew the whistle. Time for a change. Gettin’ too much age on me, man.”
“That’s ‘we’, man. Ain’t no twenty-five myself,” Nick said.
“I can get famous a little. Write a book or be interviewed,” Jason said.
“You forget there’s another word,” Nick volunteered. “Infamous.”
“Hell, man. Let me sweat it. Ain’t got no choice, you see? Fella gets tired. Can’t sell the old bod forever.”
“Know what you mean there,” agreed Nick. “But I wouldn’t do it. No way. Get a job, man.”
The waiter brought Nick’s steaming coffee over--one hundred percent Colombian. Nick put the cup of delicious beverage slowly against his lips, savoring the aroma. He liked it straight, just like his old man. No sugar, no nothing. Coffee should taste like coffee.
“Anyway, let me know what you decide,” Nick said.
“You’ll know, bro,” Jason answered. “One way or the other, you’ll know real soon.”
“You a crazy friend, bro. Crazy friend,” Nick said softly and shook his head.
THE END OF “IN THE OUTSIDE COLD”