Love Imitates Art
By Jack Greene
Dumped by his boyfriend just before they go on holiday, Oxford student Colin decides to go to Paris anyway, with his best friend Nigel in tow.
The most romantic city in the world works its magic and Colin has an intense fling with handsome artist Julien.
When Colin goes back home he can't forget about Julien, but is Julien who he seems to be?
Colin groaned as he slipped his backpack on his shoulders. “Why must children scream constantly?” he asked rhetorically.
“What?” Nigel, his flatmate and best friend, asked as he slung his messenger bag over his head and stepped off the Eurostar train. He had earbuds on and he pulled one out as he spoke.
“Never mind,” Colin sighed as they joined the queue shuffling toward the metro lines. “Which line do we want?” He pulled out the crumpled printout of the hotel reservation.
“No idea,” Nigel said, turning around and walking backwards in order to ogle the armed police officers patrolling Paris Gard Du Nord station. “Mmm, even the cops are hot here.” He smiled flirtatiously at one of the men, a tall, muscle-bound man with a close-shaved head. “Look at the size of his gun! Bonjour, sexy!”
“Shh! Do you want to get us arrested?” Colin hissed as he dug in his wallet for the metro passes. He handed Nigel one. “We want the number six line, but I don’t see it here...” He peered at the signs, pushing up his glasses.
“We could just take a taxi,” Nigel suggested. “That’s what I always do.”
“Can’t afford it,” Colin responded. “Taxis are really expensive in Paris!”
“Oh,” Nigel shrugged. “I never paid for one. I’m usually here with somebody.” By somebody, Nigel meant one of his boyfriends, who were invariably rich and gorgeous. Nigel was slumming with Colin this time because Colin had been dumped by his boyfriend at the last minute, too late to get his money back for the holiday he’d booked for the two of them. Colin had wanted to just take the loss and stay home, but Nigel had talked him into going anyway, just to get out of the house. Colin regretted it already. From the crowded tube ride to St. Pancras Station, to the undisciplined screaming spawn on the train, to the metro line confusion, Colin wished he was still at home, curled up on the couch in their flat watching some crappy movie and eating a curry.
He’d been so looking forward to this holiday with Daniel; he’d gotten a great deal on a package of train, hotel, and metro passes. He’d envisioned strolling hand in hand with his boyfriend along the Champs-Élysées, sitting in a sidewalk café sipping an espresso, and making love in a creaky bed in their hotel in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Instead, Daniel had cancelled at the last minute, claiming a business trip. Colin had been upset, of course, and when he’d pushed the issue Daniel had suggested that perhaps they shouldn’t see each other anymore. Colin had been stunned, and it wasn’t until later that he realized that Daniel likely hadn’t broken up with him because of the trip. He’d probably been looking for an excuse for some time, and probably was already seeing someone else. That was the kind of luck Colin had with romance.
Nigel, on the other hand, dated rich men who bought him things and paid for taxis. Which made sense; Nigel was a model, chicly thin with shoulder length black hair and pale gray eyes. Colin was thin, too, but he felt he was more scrawny than chic with thick brown hair that never behaved and glasses that slid down his nose.
Colin found a metro map on the wall and studied it for a moment before he figured out that they had to change at another station to get to the line they needed. “Right, I know where we need to go,” he told Nigel, who had wandered off to check out the cops again. “Nigel! Over here!”
Nigel ambled back. “Cool.” He followed along behind Colin as he led them down a flight of concrete steps to the correct metro line.
“Two stops on this one then we change,” Colin explained, and Nigel shrugged.
“Does this hotel have a bar?” Nigel pulled out his cigarettes.
“I don’t know, and you can’t smoke here,” Colin admonished him.
“You can smoke anywhere in Paris!” Nigel protested. “That’s why I love it.”
“You can’t smoke on the metro,” Colin insisted.
Nigel sighed, put upon.
They made it to the hotel without further incident, though Nigel was annoyed when they got to their stop; he’d been chatting up a couple of guys sitting next to them.
“Bye!” Nigel called over his shoulder as Colin all but dragged him off the subway car.
“Do you ever stop?” Colin grumbled as they waited for the front desk to finish with the guest in front of them.
“No,” Nigel said cheerfully, glancing around the small lobby. It was done in black and white and was very modern looking. Colin normally wouldn’t have sprung for a hotel like this but the deal had been too good to pass up. He’d thought Daniel would like it. Thoughts of Daniel made him sad again.
Nigel seemed to sense it. He clapped Colin on the shoulder and said, “Cheer up, mate! We’ll get you hooked up with some hot Frenchman soon enough.”
“I don’t want to get hooked up—Sorry,” he said to the woman at the front desk. “Checking in.” He handed over the printout.
Luckily, checking in went without a hitch and soon they were trudging up the tiny spiral staircase toward their room. The room was tiny, as usual for a Paris hotel room, containing one double bed. Colin knew it wouldn’t be a problem, though, because it was highly unlikely that Nigel would spend the night there. Nigel never had a problem finding a hot man to spend the night with.
“Right,” said Nigel, looking in the mirror. Now can we get a drink?”