Eyebrow of Doom

It's December in Los Angeles, and all through the city, the sinuses of cup-shaking, bell-ringing Santas are burning with dry cold.

Elijah's house is on a hillside, and upstairs, the curtains are all open onto the bright, clear sky. Elijah is throwing his mail onto his bed, on top of a pile of laundry he's just brought up.  He drags out a shirt, and one of the envelopes falls on the floor. When he holds up the shirt, it is rumpled from the wash like a used napkin.  He decides not to change.

He takes the stairs down at a canter, the junk mail fluttering in his hand.

Downstairs, only one of the curtains has been opened. Dom is on the couch, careening his many-bannered touring car around a pixelated corner.  He tilts his body in the direction he wants the car to go, tongue in the corner of his lips, knuckles tight around the controller.

"Whatcha doing?" Elijah says, sitting down on the couch, bouncing the couch.

"Gardening," Dom says, after a moment.  "No, wait. Ending world hunger."

"Well, quit it," Elijah says.  "We've got shit to do." He waves a Safeway flyer with holly leaves printed in the corners, from the mailbox.  "Did you know you can put lemon peel in turkey stuffing?"

"Don't talk to me about turkey," Dom says, powering down the straight, the pitch of the sound of his engine rising.  "We've just had turkey, and whatever we were giving thanks for, it wasn't turkey, I can tell you."

"That was great turkey," Elijah says.

"It was turkey," Dom says.  Once the lap-change fanfare and canned applause has sounded, he says, "Invented American holidays."  

And then he says, after negotiating a section of es-bends, "You don't have anything to do with the stuffing, anyway.  It's your mumsy-wumsy.  Stop trying to be important."

"There used to be kids at school, you know," Elijah says, "that used to come over just to play with my stuff."

Dom's car crashes into a tire barricade.  A tire smashes through the windshield and hurtles directly toward the screen.  A canned woman is heard screaming. The screen fades to black.

"You probably had more stuff than them.  You were probably an annoying yuppy prat," Dom says.

Elijah watches Dom flick the flashing car-shaped cursor down a menu.  Dom says, "You would have had a tutor anyway, wouldn't you?  When you weren't in the cryogenic bubble."

"Get screwed," Elijah says, and knocks Dom's knee with his own.  Dom gives up on the menu and lets the controller hang loose on his knee.  

Elijah says, "I want to do something Christmassy.  Go shopping or something."

"Did my shopping weeks ago," Dom says.

"What for?" Elijah says.

Dom says, "To get it in the seamail."

"Oh," Elijah says.

A little bit later, Dom sees that Elijah is watching him, and Dom looks away again with a jerk of his head.

Elijah says, "Do y'wanna coffee?  Or tea or whatever?"

Dom shakes his head.


As Elijah pours the coffee he has brewed, he finds Dom reaching around him to plug in the electric kettle that he had to try three department stores to find. Dom puts a teabag in the mug beside Elijah's.

Dom rubs his eyes as if he has just woken up.

"You could, you know," Elijah says, "you could still go home for Christmas.  If you're feeling a bit, you know."

"Thank you, Doctor Freud," Dom says.  But he smiles, and the bridge of his nose creases.

Elijah does not move out from under Dom's arm.  Dom says, "Well now, of *course* it couldn't be that I'm really mad at you.  You're far too cute."  Dom rubs the back of his finger on Elijah's nose.

Elijah makes a scrunched-up kissy face at Dom.

"But you could, you know," Elijah says, as the kettle starts to whistle.

Dom unplugs the kettle and pours the water.  He blinks from the steam.  "Nah.  It's all organised," he says.

"We could get you a flight," Elijah says.  "We could send you as freight or something.  You could be, like, a rare species of carnivorous..."

Dom dunks his teabag.  "It's alright," he says.


K-mart is a concrete castle set above winding gardens. Cement beds of ornamental dune grass swirl across the asphalt, and cars and pedestrians try to find their way closer at right angles, on the parallel, on the diagonal.  Dom keeps saying slyly, at crucial moments, "That way!"  This is not accompanied by any pointing.

"Shut *up*!" Elijah says, half in earnest.  An SUV in front of them swings suddenly, sharply right, straight over the top of a wave-shaped bed of grass.

"Oh, yeah," Dom says.

At last there is a park, eight whole bays out from the building.  Elijah waits as a mother and three small children, wide-eyed at their proximity to his back bumper, file past.

Inside, down some long carpet paths, in front of the Christmas decorations, Elijah seizes the loose end of a bundle of fat gold tinsel, whips Dom on the backside with it -- ineffectually, since the shiny foil bits have great wind resistance -- and says, "Cryogenic bubble!"

"Oi!" Dom says.  He grabs some red tinsel, pulls an end loose, and it's on.  Dom thwacks Elijah across the arm.  Elijah skates one across the top of Dom's skull. Dom lashes Elijah's torso.  Elijah gets another crack at Dom's backside.  Red and gold foil bits are pummelled loose from the tinsel to flutter in the air. There are gold bits in Dom's hair, a red bit on Dom's cheekbone, mixed red and gold bits on Dom's shoulder, and Elijah feels bits tickling in the hair on his own arms.

"Gentlemen," a sales assistant -- a pale man with shirt buttons straining over his belly -- says.

"Sorry!" they say, more or less at once.  

They seem to have duelled their way a whole aisle away from where they picked up the tinsel, into the paper plates and plastic forks.  They scuttle back, eyes down.

A woman watches them put the tinsel back.  Dom says, very seriously and English-ly, "He gets a bit overexcited in the holidays."

Elijah, who has turned to scuttle away again, turns back so fast that Dom almost bumps into him.


In the afternoon Dom calls home, and stays on the phone for an hour and a quarter.  Elijah watches TV while Dom's voice rumbles in the background. Then Elijah goes upstairs to his room, pushes the pile of laundry aside, and sits on his bed.  The sill of the window cuts the band of smog off the clear sky.  He can hear shrieking from small voices next door.

After a long silence in Dom's phone conversation -- in which Elijah has come downstairs, gone into the kitchen, unpacked the whole bottom shelf of the fridge to find the last Coke, and come back out into the hall again, all while Dom has said nothing -- Elijah grabs Dom from behind and blows a raspberry on the back of his neck.

Dom gives an, "Ungh!" and then says, chuckling, into the phone, his hand squeezing Elijah's wrist wrapped around his middle, "Just Elijah being a git."

Dom holds the receiver up over his shoulder, and a tiny, tinny voice says, "Hello Elijah!"

"Hi!" he says.


They go to the party that night as Santa's hobbits, wearing Santa hats and stick-on pointy ears from K-mart.  It's one of those Brentwood houses with artfully curved beds of alternating succulents and gleaming white pebbles.  The hostess at the door says, "Hey, Elijah."  And then, "More elves?"

They jinx each other correcting her, "Hobbits!"  

The whole downstairs is a circle of rooms interconnected with doors.  They start off wandering around climbing over the legs of people sitting on the floor.  Then Elijah gets cornered by a girl in the kitchen who wants to talk about *The Ice Storm*.  Dom stands behind her, making distractingly serious eye contact with Elijah over her shoulder and mouthing indecipherable words.  When Elijah sticks his tongue out at Dom, the girl says, "What?"

Dom challenges a pair of genuine elves to a best-of-three at the pool table.  They win the first, then lose the second after an interference foul involving Dom's hat and one ear falling off.  Dom says, "Finicky!"  In the third, Elijah manages to sink the black on a sharp angle, one knee almost hooked up over the cushion, and win.  Dom says, "Racial superiority or what?"  

By this stage they have been asked if they are elves so many times that they have begun to say, "Hobbits!" pre-emptively to everyone new they meet.

In the den, they ignore a kissing couple on the couch and jump up and down with three other people to the *Saturday Night Fever* soundtrack.

There's a while where they are hiding behind the downstairs doorways and making incomprehensible sign language at each other, and giggling -- the next day when Elijah tries to remember why, he can't.  At about this time, they start shouting, "Hobbits!" randomly to no one in particular.

Out on the upstairs balcony so Elijah can have a smoke, they are overheard declaring, "Hobbits!" to each other by some elves who are trying to tell the difference between dead-end curves of white pebbles and the path, so that they can leave.

The elves start shouting, "Elves!"  The matter takes a while to be resolved.  In the dark, an elf is heard to say, "Fuck!  Cactus!"

They rummage through the melted ice in the laundry sink for the last beer bottles, slick and dark as seals, with their labels soaked off.  There's no light on, and Elijah fishes and fishes in the freezing water.  He tries to say, "I'm turning into the abominable snowman."

"A-bomb-in-a-bubble," Dom tries to correct.

"A-bomb-bubble," Elijah says, losing his grip on the bottle.

Negotiating the front path between two beds of cacti to leave, quite separately and accidentally they turn to each other and declare as one, "Hobbits!"

The hostess, who is on the sidewalk seeing someone into a cab, calls out, "You know, you guys really aren't that funny."

"What would you know," Dom roars, "filthy human!"

"That," Elijah shrieks, "doesn't make any sense!"

"Whose side are you on?" Dom demands.


In out of the dry, cold night air they come, and their keys go down on the bureau in the hall one next to the other, clink clink.  Dom socks his hip into Elijah's and says, "Out the way!"

"Wasn't in the way.  You were," Elijah says, staggering sideways.  Dom dodges Elijah's retaliatory bump, and Elijah's hip is left gyrating in mid air.

Dom snickers and says, "You don't have the booty for that, baby."

Which is like the stupidest thing, ever, for someone with Dom's accent to say, and Elijah is working up to some sort of serious response, following Dom down the hall, when suddenly at the door to the kitchen, Dom is rounding on him, brandishing something.

"Baby, you shouldn't have!" Elijah says.  It's plastic mistletoe, and Dom is holding it in the air and sort of looming at him, all teeth.

"Oh, you know you want to," Dom says.

Elijah snatches the sprig, holds it against the small of his back above his ass, and gives a damsel-in-distress gasp.

But Dom just grins with more teeth and says, "All in good time."  He looms a bit more, closer.  His teeth disappear and he kisses Elijah on the mouth.

It's quite safe and familiar: the wet flicker of Dom's tongue, the beery taste of Dom's mouth, the bulk of Dom's torso in his arms.  They often do this and wait for the flashbulbs to go off and the people to giggle.

No one is here but them, and the silence is not familiar.

Dom is still kissing him.  It doesn't usually go on this long -- it feels like the cab could have gone all the way back to the party in the time Dom has been kissing him, now.  Dom's tongue feels different than usual in Elijah's mouth, too -- slower, more deliberate.  Deeper, even.  

Elijah doesn't remember Dom ever pushing him right up against the wall like this before, hard plaster against the back of his skull.  He doesn't remember the bottom lip nibbling, the tongue sucking, the shifts and slides of pressure, the speeding up and slowing down.

But he doesn't remember his own fingers running through Dom's hair before, either; he doesn't remember his hand kneading Dom's shoulder.

He doesn't remember what he has done with the mistletoe: he supposes it has fallen on the floor.

Dom's hands are under Elijah's jacket, rucking up his shirt at the back.  Elijah realises he is arching to give Dom space.  Then Dom's fingers are sliding up over bare skin.  

The beer must be wearing off, because that *tickles*.

Dom's other hand is squeezing Elijah's ass, and Elijah's hips can't seem to decide if they want to push forward into Dom's hips, or push backward and push his ass into Dom's hand, but then Dom is pulling him in so close that it doesn't seem to matter.

Their hips press, and shift, and shift again.

Two of Dom's fingers slip into the waistband of Elijah's jeans, cool and wriggly as fish.  Dom nuzzles Elijah's neck, lips still wet from kissing.  He says, humming against Elijah's windpipe, "Is this my stocking, eh?"

It's like when you unwrap a present that is a complete surprise: one minute it's still wrapped and then the next minute it's open, and the wow of it -- looking back at the first minute when it was still wrapped, you can hardly believe that minute ever existed.  

"Um," Elijah says, "uh-huh."