- Adler was not Adler Bond as he'd sold earlier, goofing. So, and quickly, he cleared that one up so the other man could also give his own. Real. With a clear conscience.
The man was Milton Wintour Mantell, ringing a bell, and Adler knew instantly who he was. His family at least. Old money in the publishing business with interests in televison, film, and cable.
They were at the rooftop now, under that shed with its roaring fire and Milton was looking foward to this already, despite the nagging little at the back of his mind and far from motivational. His mother had advised him too to be "careful out there". But out here, the fire; a guy with great guy potential; seeming so kind, genuine and funny, he could always make it up to his mother.
He said then to Adler as they sat facing each other on that bench, low on their spines and their legs splayed for the fire (to seams tearing): 'I've always had a special place for winter in my heart. The evenings especially. So cold, rainy, and wet I can only look through my window; helpless by what's outside.'
Adler smiled. Said: 'Man, that is the most vivid.'
Milton smiled too. And Adler said: 'Why do you love winters may I ask? And this not being one?'
'The comfort of the indoors', Milton mapped out in front of him. 'The coziness, my grandmother's knitted socks and... with plenty of color!'
It was a shared one they both appreciated, laughing, before a silence punctuated.
Adler was not sure if now was the time to throw in the gay storyline. He crossed his fingers, but, and said: 'So, you're out here with me (Uh-huh) and we're out in the fire (Yes?) does that mean you are gay?'
Milton was not sure about that. But he would try and answer as best as he could. Gay he wasn't. Not straight either, or bisexual. So he said then: 'I don't know, it's a journey for me. And I wanna be careful. Of the labels too. You? You've always known?'
Adler nodded serenely as he smiled unconvincingly. So all this is a journey to him, self discovery and means back to "the truth"?
He said still, and this time convincingly, like it was a conviction: 'Since I was ten, I guess. He was older, experienced and a gent.'
Milton's was different. Grandfather's farm at the edge of eternity; windmills that still pumped faithfully; the busy summers, snowcapped mountains in winter; the meadows...
He sat up straight and said like a homing pigeon: 'Where I grew up and spent most of my teens holds very cherishable memories for me, despite that men just had no business falling in love or having sex in the woods and people were casual about it.'
'So you had to take the straight and narrow? Yes, narrow.' That was Adler with a scowl never intended to come under veils.
'Yes', Milton said hesitantly and sitting up straight. 'But don't get me wrong, I did indulge women and loved it. Only that I knew at the back of my mind there was more across the valley.'
'Which you're about to find out --- journey, mother?'
Now, that sounded a lot better. Adler sat up straight too, then. Said: 'I'm a man you can trust, Mantell. And yes, I wanna ride along, join you on that journey if there's space.'
'Of course!' Milton beamed, those apostrophe like eyes resembling many shiny diamond sequins under a very starry, moony sky before he looked away, his face no longer sequins, no longer very starry, moony sky.
When he came back, he said: 'But there's something you should know about me first.'
'What?' Adler asked non-committally before realizing the mistake in it. Said then, critically: 'What is it about you I that should know first?'
Milton blinked twice. 'I have a baby on the way.'
At least it was not that big bad.
'I'm relieved', Adler said, making Milton smile. A paragon of charm, manly beauty. 'So, where's the mother, if you don't mind me?'
'You're still together?'
More relief. And Adler closed his eyes, holding his heart. Then there were Milton's own eyes when Adler opened his. And that tight lipped smile.
Adler jumped then, to say: 'I've had a little snack and drink. And you?'
Milton shook his head. That smile again. Adler's eyes this time. Something about them, Milton thought, further and beyond their large size. Never disfiguring but... It was an intangible quality they held. He could not place it. But so far he was happy. All was well. Said then: 'You are very kind. Like I've never seen, in a rare way. Are you always this way?'
Adler smiled. At least somebody lived; created line in the conversation that could make him blush almost. He said, answering: 'It depends on my location and setting; the audience too... you know the rest.'
They both laughed quietly. Little snorts before Adler shifted on the bench to say: 'I try to defuse any potential disasters. "Kindness", as you — sir — compliment, does it well for me. I just don't wanna have another Brokeback Mount on my hands.'
'Brokeback Mount?' Milton had not expected that. But he was quick to get and answered then, saying: 'Not another Brokeback Mount, not my grandfather's cabin high up there or summer work that wears down.'
Adler nodded. At least they had an understanding and it was a good start. Across the nightly dark lake, the lights shone very brightly in Bobby Harbor.