Le Nez

                Le Nez sniffs the world for love, sifting through the scents for timid lovers with unsure tongues. He searches for those suffering from the most unrequited of diseases; who themselves lack the language to make their dreams a reality. They do not know it, but he empathizes with their plight. He knows what it means to desire the impossible. His curse cannot be lifted, that of perverse ugliness. His whole face is nose, a crooked, rancid, pockmarked thing. It drips with viscous fluid, and itches with the smells of the universe. It obliterates face, and all people would see—if he allowed others to look upon him—is the unholy protuberance. No, his curse is forever, those he helps, their lack is one he can address, their void is one he can fill… even if only for a night.

                It was a quiet man he found that fateful night. One who quested in the club's darkness for connection but knew not how to make it. A young man, his eyes fixed on another who danced on the floor alone. Handsome dark features fixed in bliss. He watched he who was free, who did not care if all he captured all the world's eyes, or none of them. He who appeared to feel joy for its own sake. The young loner watched him dance, and longed to drink of the same freedom. He watched the muscles shift and move beneath the dancer's clothing, and imagined himself pressing against them. He saw their flesh dancing as one. It was a feeling more powerful than lust; it was the spark from which flames love.

                If only, if only… He sighed. If only this could ever be.

                Alas, he was too much a coward to walk over there himself. And here Le Nez stepped in. The young man, Marcus, closed his eyes and imagined what might pass if he drummed up the courage. He saw, in his mind's eye, himself pushing through the crowd, weaving through the body-throng, through groups and couples that fed on one another in the night. He pushed until he reached his dancer, and took a deep-breath. The words came to him, spoken by another mind but with his mouth. A presence that whispered reassuring in his ear: Trust me, I will guide you true. Trust my words.

                Somehow, over the noise, he was heard.

                "Sorry to interrupt-"

                His dark object of desire did not stop dancing, but their eyes meant and he flashed the shy young Marcus a sudden grin.

                "Uh, sorry to interrupt, but I was wondering… if I might join you."

                The other did not stop smiling, but said. "And what if I came here to be alone?"

                Marcus quailed, even in his dream. Every fiber of his being longed to turn tail and recede back into the crowd, but whatever force that guided him would not allow surrender.

                "Perhaps you did, perhaps that's even what you told yourself. 'I just want to dance.' 'I'm not looking for anything special.' But I don't think that's true. Here you are, in a roiling pot of sex. We do not come here to be alone. And you are… so…"

                The other man had stopped dancing now, hung on Marcus's words. "Yes?" He was definitely listening now.

                "Free, open, in a way I've never been. And I am quiet and reserved in a way you may not know."

                "You don't seem so tonight."

                "This… is new for me. We are new for each other… but it needn't always be so. We could get to know each other. We could start with a dance."

                Marcus was too enraptured by the man before him, actually talking to him, actually interested, to wonder where these words came from. Words that would not occur to him in a thousand years. Now his hand moved like a marionette, lightly touching the other man's arm. And he knew, from how wide the stranger's black pupils grew, that they both felt the electricity that flowed from one to the other and back. The time for words was over, and both their bodies knew how to move. Two ships collided in the dark, two bodies joined for a moment however brief, each one filling the other's negative spaces. They did not dance so much as flow together, each wondering: How did I go my whole life without this moment?

                Time passed, hours, no more was spoken. Eventually the lights flickered on and the music quieted. Marcus opened his eyes, and for the first time truly realized what had passed was not a dream. He had said these things, he had brought them together. They stepped together slowly in the quiet. His words were his own again, but the courage he was gifted, from wherever it came, remained.

                "I never caught your name."

                "Arsenault… my friends call me Arty."

                "Arty, I'm Marcus."

                "Nice to meet you Marcus," He smiled again, more deeply, as open as his dancing in those early hours. "I live just up the street, want to…?"

                Marcus did not answer. He did not need to. He merely returned the open smile and squeezed Arty's hand. He felt it strongly: Even if they parted, even if words never again flowed as easily as they had this night, his courage would not fade; his soul would remain forever enriched.

                They stepped past Le Nez, who wore his impossible ugliness like a cloak. None would look at him; none would acknowledge such a perversity could exist. He would have smiled, had he a mouth, for he smelled it in the air. The strong, musky smell of love wafting by. And he disappeared back into the air. His part done, the final act performed.

                In the end, like always, I am left with nothing. Le Nez sighs silently. Nothing but my panache.