Two men in their twenties, quite different men from different backgrounds, end up sharing their experiences with each other, and with a candor they'd never before exercised with anybody else. One is openly gay but quails from relationships. The other is afraid to explore his sexuality at all. There are other issues as well; both young men are psychologically and emotionally scrambled. Coping mechanisms have essentially been holding their lives together, but not particularly well.
The current-day narrative is in third person. The sections in which the men relate their traumas -- and not in the kind of detail that would constitute kiddie porn -- are in first person. Below is the beginning of one character's tale.
I saw it from the bus as I was coming back from my first clarinet lesson. First private lesson, that is, with a music teacher who wasn’t my band director. My mother wanted to drive me to and from Mr. Eger's studio, but I told her no. I was thirteen and starting to stretch my wings. Independence felt good.
Only, that’s what put the rainbow and the windows in my path. A sparkling rainbow arching over an otherwise plain storefront, with bluebirds hovering at each end. And display windows packed with a jumble of things that didn’t look new. The sight was captivating. A thirteen-year-old boy—especially a quirky and somewhat rebellious boy like me—couldn’t possibly resist such a lure.
Later I’d think, If only I’d been sitting on the other side of the bus, I wouldn’t have seen it. Over the Rainbow Resale would never have intruded on my life.
I was deluding myself. Seeing the store was inevitable. Fate had made it inevitable. I know that sounds crazy, but I believed that for years.
The following week I got off the bus just a few doors down from the shop. Since I had a bus pass, I wouldn’t have to walk the remaining distance, maybe a mile or so, to my house. This mattered because I was carrying my clarinet. Not that it was heavy, but I was afraid someone might snatch it from me. I was more slightly built than even most girls my age. If I’d been mugged (and it never occurred to me most muggers weren’t after clarinets), I couldn’t have hung on to my most treasured possession.
At first I dawdled on the sidewalk, hugging the case to my chest, and studied the stuff in the windows. A manikin wearing a polka-dot bikini and a Creature from the Black Lagoon mask. A barbecue grill heaped with molded plastic food and a rubber plucked chicken. Painted wood fish and frogs sitting on the rungs of a swimming pool ladder. African-looking busts draped in costume jewelry. An old-fashioned picnic basket stuffed with garden tools. A red bicycle. An alto sax with silk flowers erupting from its bell.
Beyond this summery mad mess, the shop looked dim and dingy inside. But a multicolored OPEN sign hung crookedly on the door. I set my clarinet case at my feet, cupped my hands around my eyes, and peered inside. The ceiling lights were on. I saw shelving units, brimming with merchandise, set at odd angles to each other, and more weird stand-alone displays, and even a few racks of clothing. But no one was manning the old office desk that sat near the wall to the left of the door. It must have been the checkout area, I thought, because a scrolled-brass behemoth of a cash register weighed down a counter behind the desk.
Someone had to be there.
I crept inside…and immediately heard it. Magical music dancing behind the buzzer sound that wavered from somewhere in the back of the shop. Notes like a fusion of dripping water and muffled bells.He’d seen me. I didn’t know it then but I know it now. He’d seen me staring enrapt at the junk in the windows, a clarinet case clutched to my heart, and he’d scurried away to set his trap.