April First

Paul receives an invitation to a dinner party.
It includes an inkjet print photo of him.
In the image his body is small on a cool beach empty of volleyball.
His body is circled in red marker.
The red wicked into a slight bleed on the porous fibers.
Hand written in blue ballpoint are the words You will enjoy the party.
Printed in fourteen point Times Roman is Please RSVP.

He knows what RSVP means in the modern vernacular.
But not what the letters stand for.
He types it into a search engine.
It is French. Répondez s’il vous plaît.
Respond, if you please.
What if he does not please?
What if he prefers to watch Home Alone on the telly?
It would be the seventeenth time.
It is recorded so he can zip through commercials.

Paul digs the envelope out of the recycling.
He should have tossed it in the shredder pile of papers.
It has no return address.
He examines the invitation front and back.
There is no time, date or address.
He decides the invitation is a frenemy messing with him.
The hand written words are masculine lines.
It is probably Dave’s boyfriend.
Dave’s birthday is two weeks from Tuesday—tomorrow.

He should go out and purchase Dave a birthday card.
Not right now. Later. Tomorrow afternoon.
Paul and Dave have been friends since grade school.
They have not spoken in person for five years.
It has nothing to do with Dave’s boyfriend.
It has a little to do with Dave being gay.
They run in different circles.
Paul runs in squares.
Dave does not like square people.

Paul sets the invitation in the recycling.
He looks again at the photo of him on the beach.
He wears his leather jacket and red kepi.
That was late spring of this year.
Opening day at the ballpark and he did not have tickets.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

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