Excerpt: Oasis

     As my eyes wandered, I saw movement in the shadows, on the other side of the dance floor. In the far corner, bent over a mop that had to be dirtier than the indescribable muck it was designed to remove from the worn, wood floor, was a boy of questionable gender, with shoulder-length, wavy blond hair and a face I would have wanted to get close to, if he had instead been his sister. Possessing no breasts and a bulge where none should exist in any of my fantasies, he was unqualified to alleviate my sense of being stranded in hell, though surprisingly his face held me, until Emmett returned to his stool.
     As Emmett pulled himself up on his seat, the bartender came to ask us if we had selected anything from the menu for dinner.
     "It’s decision-making time, Emmett," I said, turning my attention back to food. "Pick your poison."
     He laughed, and after we had placed our orders for dinner and another round, I turned to him and nodded toward the dance floor, and the boy quietly mopping the floor.
     "Who’s he?" I asked.
     "Folks around here call him Crystal," the old man replied.
     "Why’s that? Don’t they know his real name?"
     "Well," Emmett began, tilting his head a little and looking at my reflection in the mirror, "he just kind of showed up here, about a year ago. Some trucker had him on his truck and they stopped for lunch, and when lunch was over, the boy stayed. He hasn’t spoken a word that I know of. Cactus, here, took him in and lets him stay in the old trailer, out back. He does odd jobs around the place and Cactus pays him a little, and feeds him."
     "So, how did he get the name Crystal?" I asked.
     Emmett chuckled, and then smiled.
     "Have you seen his eyes?" he asked.