Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 15 • Fall 2005 • Fiction

Short Circuit

A Tony Allegro Mystery

Thomas Filippi

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware was a quaint seaside community bordering the mighty Atlantic Ocean. Beautiful beaches meshed with a smattering of intimate restaurants, shops, and specialty stores, catering to the myriad of visitors from all lifestyles. Rehoboth Beach was revered as the premier resort for the mid-Atlantic gay traveler, especially during the annual circuit party held each July.

Tony and his co-dependent best friend, Gavin, decided to attend this charitable event at the last minute. After arriving late afternoon, they hurriedly unpacked and set out to explore the sights before planning the rest of their vacation.

The next day, the girls were piled on top of each other at Poodle Beach, the gay stomping ground located off Queen Street. The charity volunteers pitched their tent to promote the activities and disseminate information while Tony and Gavin waited to get an umbrella and chairs from the handsome blond teenager manning the cabana booth.

"He's cute," whispered Gavin.

"He's jail bait," replied Tony.

"His little sign says he needs tips for tuition to the University of Delaware. He's legal."

"If he's more than 15 years younger than you, he's not legal." A scowl crossed Gavin's face as he swatted at flies. Boom boxes blared a mixture of disco and current dance hits.

"This is a great spot," said Gavin. "We can see the water, plus, there's enough room for cute boys to sit all around us. It's perfect." At that moment, a gaggle of girls, more like mature women, with skintight Speedos that started out as boxers and revealed more body hair than an average chimpanzee, decided to pitch camp directly in front of Tony and Gavin.

"I knew it, I just knew it," said Gavin under his breath. "Where are all the cute boys?"

"You said it yourself that Rehoboth is a more mature town. That's what makes it quaint."

"Yeah, quaint," said Gavin as he spied several hairy moons rising on this spectacularly sunny day.

"Tony," said Gavin, nudging his sleeping friend. "There's Greg, again. Yoo-hoo. Over here."

"Stop that!" cried Tony. A set of perfect Arctic white teeth framed by the blazing sun approached the two friends. As the shadowy figure bent down to their level, a muscular body came into flesh.

"Tony. Tony Allegro. Long time no see." The handsome man rivaled the psychologists' own Italian-American looks.

"Hi," said a high-pitched voice from behind the crouching figure.

"Oh, this is Jen, my best friend."

"Hey," said Gavin and Tony in unison.

"You remember Gavin," said Tony.

"Yeah, sure. What's going on Kevin?"

"It's Gavin," said the porcelain man to deaf ears.

"Seems like we were destined to meet again."

"In your pathetic wet dreams," Tony muttered under his breath.

"Let's get together and talk. I need to see you. Alone," he said, as he stole a quick glance toward Jen. "You going to the circuit party tonight?"

"Well..." Tony started while Gavin finished, "of course we are." He felt his best friend's eyes blazing behind Armani sunglasses.

"See you tonight, then," said Greg.

"Later, Kevin."

"It's Gavin," he said to Greg's delicious backside.

"Bye," said the fish.

"Gavin, why did you call him over?"

"Because you two belong together."

"We had one date. I haven't seen or heard from him in nearly five years."

"He still wants you," said Gavin.

"He still wants me because he never had me. He's a self-absorbed egomaniac."

"With a hot bod," added Gavin.

"Puh-lease. No one else existed beside him. That's why I knew we were driving one way down a dead-end road. As I was explaining how we were two different people, he was already on to the next guy."

"Awww...that's so sad," said the co-dependent romantic.

"More like pathetic. But life goes on. I know Mr. Right is out there waiting for me."

"Me, too," said Gavin as he thumbed through the local personals showcasing bare-chested men.

After a slow day at the beach and a quick dinner at a forgettable restaurant, Tony and Gavin returned to the motel. The Rehoboth Beach Convention Center was a block behind their motel. The streets were alive with a salty mix of a lazy sunset and colorful people meandering along wide sidewalks. As Tony and Gavin passed a bus stop, a sprightly teenager moved directly in front of Tony's path as Gavin continued on, oblivious to what was happening behind him.

"What's your name?" asked the handsome teen.

"Why?" said Tony with cold agitation.

"Just wanted to wish you a good night. My name's Ben," he said extending his hand.

"Tony," he replied with trepidation.

"With these arms you must work out a lot," said Ben while squeezing the psychologist's ample bicep. Gavin finally realized the void to his left and turned to find the whereabouts of his friend.

"Have a good night," said Tony, walking away briskly.

"He was cute," said Gavin, turning his head back towards the inebriated teen.

"So, because he's cute, that means he can't be a mugger, gay basher or serial killer?"

"Exactly!" said Gavin.

"If you lived in Milwaukee, you would've ended up in Jeffrey Dahmer's refrigerator."

"He was rather cute, Tony."

"And you're rather demented."

The Convention Center was packed with diehard circuit boys from the 1960s forward. "Everyone seems so old," said Gavin, as they stood in line for drink.

"Well, you said it's a retro party. To most of these guys, this is classic, timeless music. The younger generation can't fully appreciate the significance of it all. Neither can we."

"What's to understand? It's just music, superfly."

"You just proved my point."

The hall was pounding with classic beats and flashing colored lights. Long white rectangular fabric panels were suspended from wires that divided undulating funsters from the wallflowers. "Wow! Feel the excitement?" said Gavin.

"So this is a circuit party."

"Is it what you expected?" said Gavin.

"I'm not sure. I've read that the purpose is to raise money for charity. But it seems a lot people are on something," said Tony.

"I can't help but feel dirty in some way. Does that make sense?"

"Nope," said Gavin, taking a moment to adjust his thong borrowed from a female friend. "Let's go dance."

A crowd had formed in anticipation of the main event. Martha Wash took to the stage to thunderous applause. Sweaty bodies that were pressing harder and harder against each other suddenly surrounded Tony and Gavin. An official-looking lesbian urged the crowd to back away from the stage, further compressing the bodies into a huddled mass. A rousing medley of anthems from the 1980s onwards shook the bodies of the mature crowd, who were reliving their heyday as carefree youths void of worries and life-threatening diseases. After a lively rendition of her signature song, It's Raining Men, Ms. Wash exited the stage as the crowd dispersed to gain some much-needed breathing room. As the DJ focused the mood on the early years of disco, where every singer from every genre seemed to have a disco song, a shrill scream wafted toward the rafters of the Convention Center.

"Dolly Parton singing disco makes me wanna scream, too," said Gavin.

"I don't think that's why she's screaming," said Tony, moving toward the circle of people shrouding the mystery. It seemed as though time progressed in slow motion. Actions were disjointed, sounds muffled. Tony reached the perimeter of the circle as Dolly Parton abruptly stopped singing. Peering over the robust shoulder of a shocked circuit boy, Tony stared into the fixed eyes of his former beau, Greg. Crouching by his crumpled body was his best friend, Jen.

A thorough investigation was performed by the entire Rehoboth Beach police force comprised of Officers Bentley and Smith. "Looks like a clear case of drug overdose," said the elder officer. "These kids and their club drugs." He shook his thick head that wore a mask of disappointment, closed his notebook and walked away while the paramedics prepared the lifeless body for transport to the city morgue.

Tony and Gavin approached the slim shaking figure of Jen, who was standing with her arms wrapped tightly around her body as she watched the stretcher leave the hall. "Jen, what happened?" said Tony with disbelief.

"You heard the officer. It was a drug overdose," Jen said with the terse coldness of a woman who just lost her first love and her future.

Swallowing his rising impatience, the psychologist pressed on. "Greg said he had to speak to me about something. Have any idea what that might be?"

"How the hell would I know?"

"You're his best friend," said the voice of reason.


"Jen. Cut the crap and tell me what's going on."

The trio walked to a nearby restaurant and ordered iced teas, then continued to the deserted boardwalk to sit on a wooden bench overlooking the darkened horizon and foreboding surf.

"I can't believe he's gone," said Jen, cradling her head in her hands, her long brunette locks tangled and stuck to her sweaty hands.

Placing a gentle hand on her knee, Tony probed Jen's mind to glean some information regarding Greg's secret. "All I know is that Greg said he was going to see you in Rehoboth."

"How could he possibly know that? I didn't even know I was coming until Gavin called..." An invisible light bulb suddenly turned on above the handsome psychologist, illuminating the heavens.

"Tony," said Gavin, who was also blinded by the invisible light, "let's go back to the motel and..."

"Gavin..." Tony drawled out as he turned to look at his best friend.

"All right. All right. I was online and chatted with Greg. We talked about you. He said he missed you but knew you wouldn't speak to him." After a pause, Gavin continued. "He said he desperately needed to talk to you. Something about how he learned his lessons from dating psychotic guys. I know how you are about your privacy. I thought a chance meeting might open your mind...Are you mad at me?" Gavin's eyes lingered in sorrowful anticipation."

"No. I'm not mad. Your intentions were good. But I told you repeatedly that I would know when I meet Mr. Right. It will happen naturally. But we'll talk about that later." Turning to Jen, Tony said, "So you have no idea what he was going to say to me?" She lowered her head and shook it sideways in an attempt to hide her lying eyes.

Back in the motel room, Tony pulled off a damp Ferucco muscle shirt cooled by the brisk ocean breeze, revealing a golden athletic chest.

Gavin went into the bathroom, embarrassed for anyone other than his higher power to see his pale body ravaged from the effects of Ben and Jerry's double chocolate fudge ice cream. I could lose that paunch when I want. I'm just not ready, he rationalized as he slipped into Donna Karan knock-off pajamas his mother purchased at America's haute couture store for the budget-conscious -- Target. Over the hum of the hair dryer, Tony's words would be inaudible to normal human ears, but Gavin could decipher between the two.

"I hope this won't dampen our trip, Tony."

"Death has a way of doing that."

Exiting the bathroom, Gavin said, "So you slept with a dead guy. It could happen to anyone."

"Gavin, I did not sleep with a dead guy. His name was Greg and we went on one date. We were acquaintances. That's all."

"I don't believe it. You never did it with him?"

"Heck no. I'm not that kind of guy. I look at a guy's heart first, then his mind. In the end, that's all that matters."

"That's true," said Gavin, rolling his eyes as he turned toward the TV and flipped it on. A news story flashed across screen. Boob Tube Barbie read, "Accidental death washes up at Rehoboth Beach's annual charity ball. Investigators had no comment. However, spectators report rumors of a fatal mix of club drugs Ecstasy and GHB. Organizers stated the charity events would continue despite cutting short the evening's festivities."

"She's hiding something. I just know it. Tell me exactly what you and Greg discussed. And I mean everything."

Gavin was busy changing channels between Blind Date and Iron Chef. Gavin turned to look at his best friend. He lay back on the bed and stared up at the cottage cheese ceiling. "We chatted. That's all. The usual stuff."

"There had to be something," said Tony.

"Greg was talking about you and him."

"There couldn't be that much to tell."

"He didn't seem to have a problem. Greg was saying how he messed everything up and wanted to reconcile."

"Please. He used that word, reconcile? That has way too many syllables. Anyway, I could never do that with him. We're so not each other's type. He's all surface. It could never have worked out. Never. Well, maybe."

"Tony?" said Gavin, interrupting his friend's tirade of pragmatics. "I think you're forgetting one major point." Tony's facial expression was blank. "Greg is dead."

Tony rolled his eyes. "I just can't help feeling there's something wrong here. Greg was into health. He wouldn't even take aspirin."

"You haven't seen or heard from him in five years. A lot can happen. People change," said Gavin in one of his rare lucid moments.

"So what's your excuse?" said Tony.

"I've changed," Gavin whined.

"Yeah. You've become weirder."

In another hotel room, a handsome young blond man was smoking a cigarette after a tryst.

"Wasn't that something?" asked his mature lover.

"Yeah, that was hot."

"Not the sex. The guy that dropped dead." Anger burst through the young man's veins like a thermometer placed in a flame. "You didn't mean anything you said. Did you? All that talk about taking care of me and loving me."

"I did. I swear. I did take care of you and love you. And you me. But now it's back to reality. It was only sex."

"Maybe to you."

"Well, junior. It's time for you to go. I've got to look young and rested for the beach and it's a work day for you."

"You're just like all the others." The man would never grow older or have any more wrinkles. He would rest in eternal peace that night and many more nights to come, especially when maid service found his dead body sprawled on the bed with some unidentified pills left on the nightstand and a VIP charity pass stuffed in his mouth.

The beach was buzzing with gossip from last night intermingled with the morning news of the drug-related death of a circuit party organizer. "Why is everyone so into gossip?" asked Tony. "It serves no purpose."

"Gossip makes the world go 'round," said Gavin as he continued to fix his hair to no avail in the wake of strong breezes rolling off the Atlantic while they waited in line for an umbrella and chairs. "Our cutie pie doesn't seem to have too much pep today," said Gavin.

"You mean your cutie pie. It must be a tough job. It's quite a workout."

"I'd work him out," whispered Gavin.

"Please. I'm trying to keep my breakfast down."

"Look over there. Isn't that our cute waiter from the Blue Moon?" Tony just shook his head. "He looks great in a Speedo. Let's sit near him."

"He smokes and is chatting on a cell phone. I don't want to sit downwind of him. It fights with the whole nature-ocean thing."

Lady J. hung up the phone at the hostess station. How odd, she thought. Peter called off work again. That's the third time in two weeks.

Peter quickly closed the cover of his cell phone and lit up another cigarette. A few minutes later, a familiar face showed up attached to a girl.

"Look, Gavin. It's Jen! I thought she didn't know anyone. Sure looks like she knows our waiter."

"You mean my waiter. Maybe she met him at the Blue Moon."

"I thought they just got into town?"

"Well, Miss Marple, we're at the beach. Sun and fun. And that's exactly what I plan on doing," said Gavin as he plopped another piece of cinnamon bun between his pursed lips.

"I may think like her, but you're eating your way to look like her."

"He was no good for you, Peter. I tried to tell you."

"Well, it doesn't matter anymore. Men are liars. I'm always honest, but they lie to get in my pants. After they do, it's over. I can't take it anymore."

Gavin craned to hear the clandestine conversation amid the pounding surf and disco music. Jen glanced over at the obvious intrusion and half-heartedly waved.

Gavin returned the gesture, and then looked at his best friend. "Tony. I think you're right. Something's up."

"Now, you're hearing me."

"No, I mean with Umbrella Boy. He's got a crush on you."

"I'm not into twenty-somethings. That's Greg's speed. I mean was."

"I'm just trying to help."

"Next time you think about helping my love life? Don't."

That night, Tony and Gavin attended the second and final event at the Convention Center. All traces of death had been removed, although gossip remained a permanent fixture.

"My favorite DJ is spinning tonight."

"Is that him on stage?" asked Tony.

"Beats me. I've never seen a picture of him before." Tony was bumped from behind. Turning swiftly, he faced Umbrella Boy.

"Sorry," said the collegian with crystal blue eyes rivaling some of the prettiest waters in the Caribbean and framed by wavy blonde hair.

"No problem," said Tony as he started to turn back toward Gavin.

"I know you from the beach," he interjected.

"Yes, that's right. You're working for tuition."

Gavin interrupted. "There's Jen. Let's grab her."

Turning toward the teen, Tony said, "Have a great time." The youth started to reply, yet Tony had already dissolved into the crowd.

"Hello, again," said Gavin.

"Hey," said Jen flatly.

"It's Gavin. You remember Tony? We saw you on the beach this afternoon talking to our waiter."

"Your waiter?"

"Yeah. The guy from the Blue Moon."

"Oh, he's just an acquaintance. Nothing more," said Jen matter-of-factly. "What?" she said as she stared at faces filled with disbelief. "You don't believe me?"

"Jen," said Tony, "your best friend is dead and you act like you don't care. What gives?"

"I can't say I'm sorry. He used me like he used everyone else. The past five years I've been there for him through his many relationships. Many, many, relationships. Did he once ever bother to ask how I was doing? Nope. It was always about him. We came down here the past two weekends. One of the poor suckers he slept with was Peter." She nodded towards the handsome waiter. "He was impressionable and Greg was on top of him like flypaper. Drinks, heavy kissing, and the rest can be summed up as lie to 'em, love 'em and leave 'em. I tried to warn Peter, but it's hard to convince raging hormones when there's a wet tongue down your throat."

"Don't I know it," said Gavin, whose last French kiss came from an overexcited golden retriever.

"Peter had a real hard time. He felt betrayed. Then he watched the whole scene play out this past weekend with Greg's newest flavor of the day. Peter and I kind of bonded. I had five years of Greg using guys for sex and promising them the world. Men are pigs."

"I beg to differ," said Tony. "I'm not into using anyone. That's why Greg and I didn't work out. I got his number immediately. Greg was never with me sexually."

"Or with me!" added Gavin with pride.

Looking Gavin up-and-down, Jen said with sarcasm, "Even Greg had standards. Who would have thought?"

The next morning, news spread that both deaths were ruled possible homicide by the coroner due to tainted drugs. Rumors swirled that there was a drug-pushing serial killer on a rampage in Rehoboth Beach. The local papers played up the media frenzy by reporting headlines such as: Homocidal Killer Threatens Seaside Community.

"Tony. You have to solve these horrendous crimes. Do it for Greg."

Tony glared at his best friend.

"OK, do it for me. I want to be famous!"

I think the only way to find Greg's killer is to put myself in Greg's shoes, thought Tony.

Peter was working on his tan rather than waiting tables. "Wish me luck," said Tony as he stripped down to blue floral trunks and walked toward his prey. "What's up, sport?" said the handsome psychologist.

A hesitant smile crossed Peter's face as he lowered his sunglasses to make sure this attractive man was speaking to him and not a figment of heat stroke. After a twenty-minute conversation, the two agreed to meet that night. Returning to his chair, Gavin drilled him for juicy details.

Later that night, Tony met up with Peter, who acted very affectionate. Tony continued to ask about Greg, causing Peter to blow a fuse. "I don't want to talk about Greg. That's history. In more ways than one," Peter said with a tinge of irony in his voice. Playing the part of a lying sex-crazed cad was as foreign to Tony Allegro as Swahili, but he managed to play the part well. After more alcohol and even more physical pawing, the two men decided to retreat to Tony's motel room, where two eyes were concealed behind slats in a closet door, focusing on the lovebirds like radar locked on target.

Lying beside one another in bed after a night of passion, the young man lit a cigarette, lay back, and placed his hands behind his head thinking, I finally landed a real man.

A gruff voice shattered his bliss. "You mind putting that thing out? It's disgusting," said the elder before swallowing a pill.

"Anything you say." The handsome young man quickly extinguished the cigarette and rolled inwards, placing his arms around his new paramour's neck.

"Whoa, don't get too comfortable," said the startled man as he attempted to remove two tanned muscular arms, which fought to hold on even tighter. "Let go!"

A look of surprise mixed with confusion and dabbled with pain covered the youth's face. "You used me. You tricked me!" Rage built to a crescendo as the older man rolled over and went to sleep, permanently.


Gavin, who was hiding in the closet, came out after the striking young man left the room. "Gee, Tony. I thought he was gonna kill you! He's got some temper! Tony, are you OK? Tony?"

The following day, the police were informed that a third circuit boy had died in this quaint seaside community. Lady J. was equally concerned. Rehoboth Beach was a premier gay resort. The tourism industry could suffer a huge blow if these murders remained unsolved or worse, continued. Another problem was her top waiter calling off work so many times in the past two weeks. Hormones, she thought with a carefree chuckle as she slid on her Keds and left for the gym.

The beach was actually more crowded rather than becoming a desert. The publicity drew more people to this sleepy haven. Umbrella Boy was in an unusually dark mood this morning. Business was booming; he was exhausted. At that same time, a handsome figure left the Rehoboth Beach Police Station and walked to Poodle Beach.

"Tony! Where have you been? There's a huge problem." Tony's eyes widened behind his sunglasses. "Umbrella Boy told me he's out of chairs. Can you believe it?" Gavin grumbled. "He likes you. Talk to him."

As the handsome psychologist approach the shed, Umbrella Boy's dark mood lightened considerably. "I hear you're already out of chairs," said Tony with his charismatic voice.

"For you? Never. You can have mine."

"You don't have to do this because I'm old and you think I won't be able to get up off a blanket."

"You? Old? No way. I'm pretty much done here until later this afternoon. I'm not using it."

"Hey, what about me?" whined Gavin as he was afraid he wouldn't be able to rise off a blanket with poise due to his expansive midriff.

"You take the chair, Gavin. Me and...what's your name?" Tony asked the working man.


"Well, me and Sam are going to get acquainted. Shall we go?"

"Tony. Tony? Where are you going?"

"Don't worry. I'm gonna get to know my new friend. You told me to have fun and relax. And that's what I'm doing. I'll catch up with you later."

I don't like the sound of this, Gavin thought as he spotted Jen trailing the couple as they headed toward the boardwalk. A pair of orange spandex-clad buns attached to a muscular body distracted Gavin as he tried to remember exactly what he didn't like the sound of.

Back in Tony's motel room, he tried to make Sam as comfortable as possible. They talked about college, Sam's goals, and his dreams. A recurring theme was finding a relationship. Not just a boyfriend, but a relationship. Tony was empathic and used all the skills he honed as a psychologist. Sam was enthralled at the prospect of finally finding an honest man to share the rest of his life with. Sam, who was one hundred percent sure Tony was the one, suddenly felt the need to consummate the deal. As they lay back on the motel bed, Tony was awash in a sea of touch. It had been ages since he felt like a teenager in lust. Sam's hands roamed where no man's had roamed in quite some time. Tony gave in to the electric sparks emanating from soft gentle fingertips massaging his skin while his mind wandered into a never-ending spiral of bliss. Focus, Tony, focus, his subconscious reminded.

A faint "no" was uttered and duly ignored. Tony and Sam were swept away as flesh was bared.

"No, I can't," Tony said softly, as he regained a slight sense of consciousness while feeling his shorts sliding down past his swim trunks. "No. I said no." Tony fought against the stinging emotions in his body that were surging with untapped desire along with frozen vocal chords rendering him mute. Sam tried to clear the negative reverberations in his ears. "No." Tony's words gained strength as he pulled himself from the depths of unyielding passion. He placed his strong hands around Sam's wrists and forced them from his clothing. Sam struggled to regain his foothold and not be deterred from his divine mission. Tears began forming in Sam's glazed eyes as he felt the seeds of rejection, but this time before sex, sending him into a fever-pitched animalistic rage that was unknown to him. He sat up, straddling Tony's body, placing his fists to his ears to squelch the conflicting words ravaging his synapses.

Sam began pummeling Tony's chest as the psychologist tried to rationalize with him. "It's not you, Sam, it's me. Stop it! Do you hear me? Stop!"

"You're just like all the others!"

"What are you talking about? Sam?" Tony tried to grab his would-be-paramour's hands before he reached for the lamp next to the bed. "You lied to me, Greg. You lied to me!"

"Greg? I'm Tony. Sam! I'm not Greg!"

"You're all the same. Greg used me and spit me out. So did Daniel and Scott. But they got what the deserved. They won't have the chance to hurt me again. Ever. And neither will you!" shouted Sam as he held the lamp over Tony's skull.

"Freeze! Put down that lamp!" commanded Officer Bentley as he and Officer Smith burst out of the closet. "I said put the lamp down now or else!" Sam quickly weighed his options as he returned to full consciousness. Self-preservation won out. As Officer Smith confiscated the lamp, the motel door flung open, bathing two slim figures in shadow.

"Tony! Tony! Thank God!" As Gavin spied the scene, he was dumbfounded as he watched the police handcuff Umbrella Boy.

"Tony. He did it? What a shame. He was really cute," said Gavin with pity as Sam was escorted out of the room. Shouts of innocence echoed from the hallway.

"He would have bashed my skull in."

"I'm glad you're okay," said Jen and Gavin, moving into the lit room.

"That makes three of us. But what are you doing here?"

"I followed Jen as she followed you. I caught up with her and she finally told me that Greg had been with Umbrella Boy just last week. Greg was coming down to confront him as he had been e-mailing him and calling him non-stop. Plus, he wanted to try and make amends with you. Right, Jen?" She nodded in agreement.

"Officer Smith?" said Tony. "Is Sam connected to all these deaths?"

"We're still investigating that. Unofficially, we have information that all the victims were seen with a blonde-haired young man matching his general description," said the quiet arm of the law. "You can rest easy. We feel we got the right man."

"Tony, you did it!" exclaimed Gavin.

"I hope you're right," replied his friend with trepidation, "I hope you're right."

Officer Smith chimed in, "We'll take your statement down at the station. Be there in twenty minutes. Thanks for all your help."

As Office Smith left, Tony said, "I don't know what it is about this town." He sat up and swung his legs around the side of the bed. "I expected a relaxing vacation. And what do I get? Circuit parties, death, and more guys coming out of my closet than at a gay pride rally. Have you learned anything, Gavin?"

"Awww...Tony. I don't think I've found independence, yet."

"And you probably never will," said Tony as he hugged his best friend, vowing to return one day when he was in love.

"Well, hello stranger," said Lady J. to her wayward employee. "What has little Peter been up to other than another new hair color?" A strange smile filled his handsome face, which was bursting at the seams and framed by auburn locks. "I just have to tell someone. I met this great guy, and I'm in love. Absolute love. His name is Tony. Tony Allegro."

Thomas Filippi was born and raised in Allentown, Pennsylvania, then moved to West Virginia to attend college. He holds a Master of Education and Master of Rehabilitation Counseling from West Virginia University. Mr. Filippi's first novel, Dungeons and Drag Queens -- A Tony Allegro Mystery, was published in 2003. He is an educator and relationship therapist in Miami Beach, Florida.

Go To: Issue 15 or Lodestar Quarterly home page