: The morning sun on this mid August morning in Metairie is brilliant and brutal. Not even 9 am and the temperature is hovering just below 95°, the humidity levels keeping up in kind. Having just endured nearly 20 minutes of creeping morning traffic along a single block of 17th Street, Bruce Halloran finally manages to break free of the molasses train and pulls into the parking lot of Morning Call. Having to take a spot nearly on the opposite end of little strip mall, he is not at all happy having to walk over to the coffee stand. He is nearly as wet as the glass panes in the French doors at Morning Call, now opaque with condensation from the machine-cooled air inside. Halloran enters Morning Call, which is crawling with people as old or older than he, many of which seem to have no where else to go.
Looks like coffee break on the set of Cocoon, he thinks to himself. Navigating around the Metairites, his sweat-soaked shirt is now ice-cold and sticking to his pale, pasty pink skin. Perfect. He’s about to approach the counter when he sees a young, lithe arm begin waving to him from the opposite side of the room. It is the young Mr. Tschantz, conspicuously smooth in a sea of wrinkles and liver spots. He walks over to where the young man has saved him a stool and apparently taken the liberty of ordering Bruce beignets and a cafe au lait. He sits down next to Quentin Tschantz and sneers,
“Really, Q-Balls? You thought you’d be unnoticed at the retirement home?”
Quentin sips his cafe au lait and replies loudly,
“I have my reasons, Mr. Halloran.”
Bruce cringes. They’re supposed to be meeting in private so the partners at the firm won’t know the kid’s giving him more help than they’d like. Halloran peers around him and quickly takes notice...no one here has heard them. Peering closer at the folks surrounding them, Halloran sees a lot of hearing aids. Testing his theory, he drops his silverware on the counter next to an older man with his tits tucked into his shorts. Nothing. They’re all deaf as posts.
“I take it back, kid,” smirks Halloran. “You’re smarter than I gave you credit for.”
Quentin looks directly into Bruce’s eyes and says loudly again,
“Remember that, Mr. Halloran. Shall we begin?”
Bruce smirks a bit, and nods his ascension. Young Mr. Tschantz produces a thick manilla envelope from his briefcase with his right hand. His left automatically takes up a bunch of paper napkins and wipes the counter clear of powdered sugar, old cafe au lait, and water before placing the open folder between them.
“Your Dr. Youngblood has an exemplary public life,” Quentin starts, “but his private life is apparently a shambles. According to these depositions Grandfather was able to locate in the records, Mr. Youngblood is only just barely holding on to his practice. His three other partners have all filed lawsuits against Dr. Youngblood and their own practice for their fair share of revenues in the business. It seems Dr. Youngblood’s charitable works come with a rather high price. He has nearly bankrupted the practice on four separate occasions in the past, making donations to a veritable alphabet soup of charities. I’m certain you recognize some of these organizations.”
“I’d hardly call some of them organizations. More like loose assemblages.” Halloran sneers his way down the list, his eyes widening slightly at some of the fly-by-night scams at which Youngblood fairly threw money. “There’s a little framed plaque from everyone on this list in his office. All of them read Youngblood.”
“He’d have done better investing in an awards company,” quips young Mr. Tschantz, much to Bruce’s surprise. He didn’t think the kid owned a sense of humor, much less a slightly bitchy one. He nods to himself as Quentin continues.
“There was also...Mr. Halloran, I hesitate to tell you this.”
Bruce smiles, saying “it must be good, then. Spill, Q-Balls.”
“Please don’t call me that,” Quentin sighs, his smooth young brow knitted into a frown. “It seems that in the depositions, there were several references to Dr. Youngblood’s romantic life.”
“He’s a slut! I knew it!” Bruce hisses with glee. “Nobody with an ass that perfect doesn’t work it--”
“Mr. Halloran, please!” Quentin says emphatically, causing an elderly gentleman three seats away to turn in their direction for a scant moment. “Dr. Youngblood was not a ‘slut.’ He has had three long-term relationships, all of which caused problems with the doctor and his partners.”
“That’s what happens when you bring the trash home”
Quentin pinches the skin between his eyes and says painfully, “disregarding that unfortunate analogy, you’re not far off. But it was less about social position and more about...malleability. Malleable means--”
“I know what malleable means, you zygote,” Halloran huffs. “It’s what you’ll be if you condescend to me again. I put up with that crap out of Gary Pitts, I’ll be damned if I take it from you.”
Quentin thinks for a moment and merely says “understood.”
“Good. Go on.”
“As I was saying, in the depositions the partners all describe, in one way or another how Dr. Youngblood would find these young men. all of a particular type, and try to...well, mold them into what he wanted. The dichotomy struck one of them, saying it was so strange to see the doctor dedicating himself and everything else to the cause of gay mental health, and yet he steadily manipulated his boyfriends into the same kinds of behaviours he was working to eradicate.”
Halloran wolfs down a beignet in one breath, hardly a speck of powdered sugar to be found in its wake. He washes it down with a swig of now-tepid cafe au lait, and burps.
“Let me guess. All these guys kinda look like our friend Philsy, right?”
“That would seem to be the case, Mr. Halloran.” Young Mr. Tschantz closes up the folder and slides it towards Halloran, and rises to leave. Before he can go, Halloran stops him.
“So Q-Balls, I’ve gotta question. Your name. Tschantz. You act like you’ve been here forever, but I’d never heard the name until I met your firm, and I’ve lived here for nearly 40 years. Where are you from?”
Young Mr. Tschantz stands to his full height and says calmly and clearly, “I’m not surprised, Mr. Halloran. The Tschantz name is not commonly known. It is well known. Very well known. Good day, Mr. Halloran.”With that, the young man breezes out of Morning Call, leaving Bruce Halloran to ponder what he’s learned. Outside, the heat and humidity are now rising towards the triple digits. The air is clogged with the sounds of heavy machinery attempting to keep the shopping centers in the area a nice, icy 68 degrees as the glut of cars continue to spew out greenhouse gasses...This Is My New Orleans.