Father Landers stood on the corner of West Forty-Fourth street and Seventh Ave. with his hands on his hips. Sweat ran down through the yellowing hair on his arms and onto the back of his clean white hands. He turned his head slowly to scan the sidewalk, his forehead wrinkled and tight with concentration. He froze suddenly as he picked Brian and Kathi out of the crowd. They were walking quickly, awkwardly trying to make their way through the people. Father Landers stood motionless, but without expression, his attention fixed on the two of them. Brian and Kathi were almost on top of him before they noticed.

"I thought I made it clear that we were all to meet back here at no later than five of one?" Father Landers said dryly. Brian and Kathi had barely stopped walking, but Father Landers didn't seem to notice and continued.

"It's ten past one. What's your excuse?"

Brian and Kathi stood in silence, staring at the dirty grey sidewalk. Neither of them wanted to start.

"Well?" Father Landers pressed, obviously losing his patience.

Brian inhaled deeply, waiting for Kathi to speak. She shifted her weight onto her left foot and looked up, but not at Father Landers. No one seemed to notice the three of them as they stood in the middle of the sidewalk. People just rolled off of them as if they weren't even there. Brian wished that he wasn't.

"As usual, you've got nothing to say, right Brian? But as for you, Kathi, I'm rather surprised that you're so quiet. I thought you had something to say about everything?" He paused, waiting for her reaction. She continued to look out across the street at the traffic.

"Well, I guess Brian's rubbed off on you, eh? Got you thinking his way, does he? I never thought I'd see you take a back seat to a man, Kathi, especially to someone who's spent his life in an all-male institution." He paused again, but there was still no reaction.

"Listen, I'm not here to play games. Wherever you were, you're late, and that's what matters. Although you don't seem to want to face it, I do have control over you. It's up to me to decide what becomes of you when this trip is over, and as far as I'm concerned, I wouldn't mind seeing either of you locked up. Remember Kathi, you still have an outstanding warrant for your arrest which I've been given jurisdiction over, so if you want to play hard ball, I'm your man. As for you Brian, I don't think it would be too hard for me to arrange for you to be put under observation at the State Hospital. You know all about the State Hospital, don't you Brian? You'd have a great time there. They give you three meals a day, and let you watch all the t.v. you want. There'll be plenty of people around for you to talk to, most of whom have probably heard voices at one time or another, and more interesting ones than the ones you hear. You'll feel right at home, won't you?"

Brian and Kathi remained in their positions, neither of them wanting to talk for fear that Father Landers might notice the smell of alcohol on their breath.

"Let's get one thing straight right now. If either one of you so much as even looks the wrong way for the rest of this trip, I'll personally be down on you so fast and so hard you won't know what hit you. There's nothing I'd rather see....."

"Excuse me, Paul," Phil said, laying his hand on Father Landers' shoulder from behind. "I don't mean to interrupt, but the others are getting restless, and we don't want to miss the show."

Father Landers didn't move. It was almost as if he hadn't heard Phil, or even noticed him as he moved around beside him.

"Paul?" Phil said nervously.

"I heard you," Father Landers shot back. "And don't walk up behind me like that. Tell the others to relax, we'll be right there."

"Right," Phil said as he turned and began to walk back in the direction he had come from. Brian and Kathi hurried quickly after him, leaving Father Landers alone, his hands still firmly planted on his hips. He turned and yelled back down the sidewalk.

"I'm not finished yet."

He yelled once more, but Brian and Kathi had already made the corner with Phil.

Everything went as planned at Radio City Music Hall. Brian and Kathi sat in different rows so as not to draw attention to themselves. During the opening number, Brian got up and went to the men's room. About ten minutes later, Kathi joined him out on the sidewalk. They unlocked their bikes and were walking them aimlessly when Jim spotted them from inside the Baskin Robbins where he sat eating a strawberry and oreo-cookie ice cream cone.

"And where do you two think you're going?" Jim asked, trying his best to imitate Father Landers.

"Nice try Jim, " Brian said without turning around. "You're not even close. If there's one voice I can recognize a mile away, it's Father Landers', and that's not it."

"What's up?" Jim said with a smile as he unlocked his bike. "Did you have any trouble getting out?"

"No, not getting out we didn't; it was more like getting in. Father Landers was waiting for us on the sidewalk. He nailed us before we could get back to the group. It was getting pretty hot when Phil came along and stuck his nose in."

"Yeah," Kathi said. "I never thought I'd be happy to see him."

"What'd Landers say? Are you guys going to hell, or what?"

"Close. He started threatening us. Said he'd take matters to the authorities."

"See, I told you you shouldn't have come on this trip."

"I know. Let's not get into that again. We're here now, so we might as well make the best of it. What do you feel like doing, Kathi?"

"I don't care, as long as we get out of this heat."

"That's no problem," Jim said. "This whole city's air conditioned. That's how everyone survives. Let's head uptown and see what's playing for movies."

"Sounds good." Kathi said.

They walked their bikes west on Forty Second street. There were signs for movies everywhere, but Brian had never heard of any of the titles before. "Judi and the Parrot". "Bound Desire". "Desire Unbound", and even: "Splendor in the Ass". He wondered what Kathi was thinking, but she didn't seem to notice the marquees. Meanwhile, Jim was running up ahead of them, reading the posters inside the small glass cases in front of the theaters. Brian had never been to an X-rated movie before. He had come close once during his freshman year of college, but he had been very drunk and passed out shortly after the movie started. It had been a big thing for him at the time, sort of an attempt to put the church and all of it behind him, but it hadn't worked. Now, standing on the white hot sidewalk in front of the Crystal Theater with Kathi and Jim, it was still a big thing for him. Brian had always considered himself different from all that, as somehow more sensitive, and pure. This was probably a natural result of twelve years of Catholic education and an essentially lesbian upbringing, but Brian didn't see it that way. To him, it all came down to something basic, something essential, that made him different from everyone else he had ever met. What this something was, he couldn't quite put his finger on, but it was something he believed in none the less, and it was from this perspective that he viewed the world. Alone in himself he thought everything through and through until he had it clean and neat and ordered and then he would be through with it. Some things, however, were not that easy. If there was one thing that Brian could never figure out, it was pornography. Part of him knew it was wrong, part of him knew it was all in how you saw it, and part of him just didn't care. It was this last part that Brian usually let motivate him and, as with most things he couldn't come to a decision on, he chose to ignore it.

Jim didn't want to go to just any movie. he wanted to go to one that had been highly rated by the critics, although he wasn't sure just who reviewed such movies. Both he and Kathi were in agreement that regardless of what movie they went to, they shouldn't go in empty handed, and since Brian needed time to think, he offered to go and buy a bottle to bring into the theater.

Kathi and Jim stood inside the corridor which led into the Crystal theater. The darkness offered some relief from the midday heat, but Jim was still sweating rather heavily.

"I always sweat like this when I've been drinking," he apologized.

"Oh, you've been drinking too?"

"Yeah. It's the best way to kill time when you're in a strange place and you're waiting for something to happen. So how was your lunch?"

"It was okay. I mean, at least we were away from the rest of those infantile pea brains for awhile."

"I know what you mean, I don't know why Brian puts up with it."

"How long have you known Brian?"

"Since we were kids almost. We went through school together, worked together, did just about everything together till he joined the seminary. From then on, Brian was different. Sort of distant, and alone. I don't really know how to describe it, but things just haven't been the same. I can feel it, but he doesn't seem to; he just listens to what they tell him."

"I know what you mean, but he's not that bad......I mean at lunch, he seemed to have a mind of his own."

"Oh, he's got a mind of his own all right, it's just that he doesn't use it."

"What about his visions?"

"Who told you about those?"

"He did." "Huh. That's pretty strange. He usually doesn't tell anyone about them. Huh. Well, it's hard to say what those are all about. Brian's pretty creative when he wants to be. He went to art school for a year, you know."

"Really? He didn't mention it. He only told me he went to UNH."

"He did, but before that, he spent a year at this little art school in North Carolina. Anyway, it's hard to say what causes his visions. I think it might be a result of stress from all of the pressure they put on him at the seminary, but it may just be that he's using his imagination to get attention. You never know. And, then again, they could be real. I mean, who's to say whether he talks to God or not? I'd sure hate to be laughing at him if he really was. Know what I mean?"

"Really. It kind of scared me when he told me about it. I really didn't know how to react."

"Oh, it's nothing to worry about. He's usually pretty well under control, and when he isn't, it's hard to tell anyway."

Brian walked slowly into the darkness of the hallway, and stopped. He could hear Jim's voice, but he couldn't make out where it was coming from.


"We're over here," Jim called back.

"I can't see," Brian said without moving. Kathi rushed out of the darkness and grabbed his arm at the elbow.

"Are you all right, Brian? It's me: Kathi. Are you having a....?"

"I'm all right, my eyes just haven't adjusted to the darkness yet."

Jim walked over to them laughing. "She thought you were spacing out." He said, slapping Brian on the back. Brian looked at him blankly, but Jim kept on laughing hysterically. "Brian, are you all right?" He said, mimicking Kathi.

"Lay off Jim, she didn't know......"

"Lighten up, I'm just kidding around."

"There are some things that you just don't kid about, Jim," said Kathi quietly.

"It's all right, Kathi, I'm used to him," said Brian.

"All right, all right, take it easy. I didn't mean anything by it, I was just having a laugh. What'd you get at the store?"

"Rum. I figured we could mix it with cokes inside."

You're smarter than you look Brian," said Jim. "Well, let's lock up the bikes and go in."

"You think they'll be safe here?" Brian asked.

"Sure. It says in the guarantee that these locks can't be sawed through. Besides, we're leaving them right out here in the open. That's the key to locking your bike in the city. If you hide it where you think no one will find it, someone will, and when they do, they'll have an easy time of it while they're stealing it because no one else'll be around to bother them. But if you lock it up right out here in the open where everyone can see it, no one will dare to steal it because everyone else'll be watching. As long as we take our packs in with us, we'll be fine."

They locked their bikes in the rack next to the Seven-Eleven with their new guaranteed-for-life Kryptonite locks. There was no line to get into the theater, so they each paid their four-fifty and went inside. Although the sign said that the shows ran continuously, the screen was blank inside. Brian felt stifled by the closeness of the place. There were seven seats across, but only one aisle that ran down the left hand side. Kathi followed Brian into one of the front rows. Jim sat on the outside, a few seats from the aisle.

Brian sat back in the chair and draped his long naked legs over the back of the chair in front of him. The air was dark and soft on his face. As he looked around the almost empty theater, he began to feel a heaviness in his head in anticipation of the film. He wondered what he would do when it came on. Jim kept turning around, as if his eagerness would somehow summon the projectionist to start the film. Kathi seemed more interested in the rum than anything else, and excused herself to go buy some more cokes.

"Hey, Brian, you okay?" Jim asked.

"Huh? Yeah, sure, I just...."

"What're you staring at the wall for? This picture is gonna be great, it's in English and everything, I mean, what more can you ask for?"

"Not much, I guess."

"I got us two each," Kathi said as she stood in the aisle with a small cardboard tray full of paper cups. "We won't have to keep getting up this way."

Brian listened carefully to the music that began to fill the theater. It was nothing he recognized, but he found it somewhat soothing and familiar all the same. The movie started without the usual dimming of the lights Brian was used to. This was because the theater was already as dark as it would get. It never changed. Jim and Kathi were carefully mixing drinks on the floor in front of them, making sure not even so much as a drop of rum was spilled. Brian could barely make out the movement of their hands in the darkness. As the light from the movie filled the room, Brian looked around at the seats behind them. There were a few people, but all of those who were there seemed to wear the same expression. Open mouthed, staring through the screen, their raptured smiles were almost too happy, in a sort of childlike excitement, and yet, at the same time, they appeared almost embarrassed at being so enthusiastic. Brian wondered what it was they saw, and what they were thinking, but he was too afraid to look at the screen.

"Here's your drink Brian." Kathi said, touching his left elbow gently. "I mixed it for you myself, let me know what you think."

"Oh, thanks." Brian said, trying hard not to appear startled. He wasn't sure how Kathi felt about being there, but if there was anything he didn't want her to know, it was how he felt about the same thing. He wondered what it was that made man fascinated with the female body. It's probably that fascination with whatever it is that you don't have, he thought. He remembered back to his senior year in high school when he had been going out with Robin Lacey. Robin wasn't the best looking girl at Parson High. She wasn't even in the top five or ten, but she still had a certain something about her that everybody loved. It was probably her eyes. They weren't just green, like the grass is green. They were an incredible mixture of green and yellow and light blue that made them absolutely fascinating to look into. They moved gently, alive with color and excitement. Combined with Robin's curly, sandy-blonde hair, her eyes always attracted attention, so much so that almost everyone she saw commented on them at one time or another. Brian had fallen in love with her the day they met, and they dated seriously for six months. People knew that they had something special, maybe something lasting, they said, and they warned Brian that he should be careful not to let Robin slip away. Brian wasn't worried about that though. Both he and Robin were totally taken with one another, and there was little doubt in either of their minds that they would be spending the rest of their lives together.

Everything was fine until Brian met Lisa Gunshrub. Lisa was one of the best looking girls at Parson High. In fact, she may even have been the best looking one, but that really depended on who you asked. Brian met her after one of his art classes and immediately became interested in her. They talked a bit, but they didn't seem to have all that much in common. She was pretty, but she didn't really share Brian's interest in learning, so to speak. Still, she fascinated Brian somehow, partly because of her looks, and partly because of her incredibly athletic figure. When Brian told Jim about meeting her, Jim, and everyone else Brian told, said that she was a nice girl, but that she wasn't Brian's 'type'. Besides, he had an almost perfect relationship with Robin, with whom he had practically everything in common. It was foolish to even think about jeopardizing his relationship with Robin to go out with Lisa. Only a fool would do something that stupid, and Brian, more than anyone else, was aware of that.

The first time that he kissed Lisa Gunshrub it was almost an accident. They had been up all night in Lisa's car talking and, at four o'clock in the morning right in the middle of a somewhat lackluster, one-sided discussion about Brian's love of basketball, Lisa leaned over and kissed him on the lips. It was a long kiss. Not like the kind Brian was used to with Robin that were quick and more full of friendship than anything else. This kiss was different. It was long, and full and deep. Lisa used her whole mouth, in such a way that it almost hypnotized Brian, so much so, that he broke up with Robin the next day, and started to see Lisa. Things were great for the first seven days. They saw each other every day and every night and almost never stopped laughing. they never even had an argument, not even a minor one, but on the fourteenth day, Lisa called Brian and told him she had decided to start going back out with her old boyfriend on the baseball team.

Brian was stunned. He cried for awhile, and then he called Robin. He told her he was sorry and that he wanted to go back out with her. Things would be different this time. They would be better. Robin didn't see it that way though. She said she wanted to keep in touch, but she didn't ever want to date Brian again.

Brian suddenly realized that the movie was almost half over, and he hadn't seen a bit of it. He smiled to himself and looked down at his empty coke cup. He didn't remember drinking any of it, but it was gone, so he tapped Kathi on the arm for another one. Brian couldn't quite make out the expression on her face, as she quickly handed him the cup and turned back to face the screen. Brian took a long pull at the straw and slumped further down in his seat. He thought again about Lisa and Robin. It was that fascination with the unknown. With what he didn't have. That was what pornography was all about. It was the fantasy of obtaining the unobtainable, the ultimate perfect achievement. Heaven on earth.

Brian closed his eyes, happy that he had figured it all out. He knew that the whole problem was that man was insatiable. There would always be another girl, someone different, or more beautiful, or more this, or more that. The breeze of the air conditioning felt good as he let his body go. It felt good to be free, and to be able to relax.

Brian slowly became aware of a slight pulling at his left arm. Thinking he had been sleeping on it too long, he rolled toward his right, but the tugging persisted. Suddenly, he realized that he was in a movie theater and not in his bed at home.

"Hey. Wake up. I can't believe you fell asleep. Man, what a great movie this was, and you slept right through it."


"Man, you're out of it," Jim said, as if to himself. "Hey, wake-up. C'mon. Let's go."

Brian used his hands to pull his legs off the seat in front of him. They were asleep, and felt like long, tingling, painful extensions of his pelvis.

"Did you miss it all?" Jim asked.

"What? Oh, well, I guess...."

"Wow, I can't believe it. What a great movie."

"Where's Kathi?"

"She went to the bathroom. She's going to meet us in the lobby."

As the blood rushed back into Brian's legs, they made their way up the slanted runway to the lobby. They stood beside the doors, letting their eyes adjust.

"What's the matter, having trouble walking?" Kathi said from one of the seats beside the candy counter. She was laughing, but in a controlled way, as if to hide the fact that she was drunk, but Brian noticed anyway. Her hair was somewhat mussed, and her eyes seemed more tired than they had earlier in the day.

"What time is it?" Brian asked.

"It's quarter to five."

"Oh God, what time does the show get out at Radio City?"

"Relax Brian, you've got plenty of time." Jim said.

"Shut up Jim, this is serious. Kathi, what time is the show over?"

"I'm not sure, let's see, I think I've got the program here somewhere. Umm, let's see, I think it says here, ummm, five thirty. Yeah, five thirty."

"Whew, for a minute there...."

"We're not out of the woods yet Brian," Kathi broke in. "There was an intermission at three thirty. I hope they didn't miss us."

"Oh no....."

"Don't worry about it, they were probably so intent on feeding their faces that they never even noticed anything else."

"I hope so." Brian said.

"We still have to worry about sneaking back in," said Kathi.

"That's true."

"Unless you decide not to go back."

"Don't start with that again Jim," Brian said as he walked through the double glass doors. He tried to brace himself for the heat outside, but it didn't' work. As the doors swung out in front of them, Brian felt the thick, stale air pressing against his neck and chest. It was like trying to run in the ocean with the water up to your neck.

They walked past the theaters and towards the Seven Eleven in silence, trying to adjust to the heat. They were almost on top of the bike rack before they noticed anything different. Brian stopped, and dropped his packs on the sidewalk. He wanted to do something, but his body stood, motionless, staring at the back tire of his bike, which was the only thing that sat securely locked to the rack with his new Kryptonite lock. The spaces around it where Jim and Kathi had locked their bikes were empty. Together, they stood on the stained and dirty sidewalk, stunned and dripping with sweat in the white heat, trying to deal with the disappearance of their dreams.