His reflection glanced back at him from a long mirror at the other end of the small oblong room; a room ripe with the smell of old caked-on piss and anti-septic air freshener. Stalls were in one corner and a row of porcelain sinks in the other, barely separated through the narrow path illuminated by the harsh neon bulb which glared overhead. Buzzing steadily. Eliminating every shadow to emphasize the gleam of the white-tile floor, so aggressively scrubbed that the rust-colored dirt between the tiles stood out like a grid of rectangular scars. The tiles were so small, Gentry noted in annoyance, that it was impossible not to cross the lines. He lurched forward just as a stall door opened and Mikey shuffled out.
“Sorry, didn’t see you there...”
“Why isn’t Zach with you?”
The bluntness of the question startled him. He didn’t expect such a lack of subtlety, but it was not unusual enough to make him hesitate in his reply:
“Because my private life is none of your business.”
Gentry’s hands reached out before his mind chose to act, and loudly shoved the metal trash can against the door.
“Your posters are all over the locker room, even the bathrooms. I can’t take a shit without knowing how out and proud you are.”
“Gentry.” Mikey said possessively, taking a deep breath but not breaking the shallow focus his eyes had on Gentry’s face. On those old dark eyes and the freckles so youthfully out of place, a gross reminder of childhood not quite overcome. He kept a safe distance with his feet pointed towards the blocked door, perhaps in a subconsciously futile effort. Yet it was more instinct than fear, because he already knew why Zach protected him, and understood that behind Gentry’s firm-footed stability was a wanton sickness that coursed through his veins, a nature he could not do anything about. It fulfilled Mikey in a way he wasn’t entirely aware of— he had seen that picture, found it beneath Zach’s old clothes, and it told him everything he needed to know:
“Your closeted act doesn’t fool me. Or anybody except you. The only reason Zach does anything for you is that he feels sorry for you, and now I can see why. He’s gone for just one moment, and you can’t take it. But even if he would have come, he would leave with me. Because he’s my boyfriend, and frankly, none of your business. So back off.”
Gentry pulled him into a stall and latched it shut. It happened so quicky he didn't need to think about it, and now the two of them were more than alone, with Gentry leaning against the steel bolt and Mikey staring back at him with thinly-veiled disgust. Mikey steadied himself against the white porcelain toilet, pressed into the other side of the stall, as far away as possible.
“I called the press because I expected you’d try something. You can beat me, kick me, piss on me, but I’m not backing down because I’m not scared of you. Violence won’t change the truth—”
“This is not about you.” Gentry said, to which Mikey blatantly replied:
“I know who this is about, and he isn't yours. You should be out there instead of in here. They haven’t even called prom queen yet, and your so-called date—”
“Is so drunk she won’t notice I’m gone. No one will miss you, either. Prom isn’t for connecting with people, it’s for setting yourself apart from them.”
“You can’t just lock me in a bathroom stall.”
The reply came as a shrug.
“Whatever you do to me, it will be in the paper the next day.”
“I’m not hurting anyone.”
“This is ridiculous.” Mikey sighed.
“Your excuse is ridiculous.”
“So, are we going to spend the whole night like this?”
“As long as it takes.”
Mikey looked away with exasperation, stiffly leaning back against the narrow walls. This confrontation felt surreal enough for him to pinch at signs of some hidden motive, idly searching for some spire of truth, and the stinging sensation of that lone barb of intent. It seemed like Gentry was making up the rules as he went along, as if the more in control he was, the more out-of-control things became. Mikey's thoughts were briskly interrupted by a pounding at the door, and Gentry’s quip:
“There is another bathroom on the second deck. They won’t notice that this one is closed.” His eyes stared past Mikey’s with a fishy determination, bruised hands blocking the lock from both his reach and vision. “This is what Gay Solidarity is all about, isn’t it? Using people to get what you want. I want to know why Zach isn’t here, and I can wait all night until you tell me.”