Thursday, May 14, 2015


1.    departing from an accepted standard.
deviant, deviating, divergentabnormalatypicalanomalousirregular; More
diverging from the normal type.
"aberrant chromosomes"

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions,
 perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.
Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

“I embrace and love my feminine self.”
~ Unknown aberrant male

I have discovered my difference -- my male-self -- my masculinity …
I have discovered my penis.
I am five or six years old and running naked through several rooms of our apartment, screaming, causing an uproar, all eyes turning to watch as I scamper by them: my mother, my sisters, and one of her woman friends. I am holding onto my new discovery -- my stiff appendage – my cock.
My dick is small but erect, proud and defiant.
My bare feet flap, flap, flap against the wooden floor...
In the bathroom, I climb up onto the toilet seat, huffing and puffing, my eyes tearing, my feet slipping against the cold porcelain. I stand tall upon my throne; my feet spread wide, my chest puffed out, my thoughts filled with childhood arrogance. My cock is projecting straight out in front of me like a tiny pink dart, hard and at attention. I scream out...loudly…to the crowd of women now assembled at the door. My voice holds no restrictions…
“I am a boy! I am a boy! See me!”   

December 27, 2014

“Who’s there?” A woman’s voice barks through the metal box, smoky and raspy, as nasally as a Long Island crawl.
“Sixth Precinct. Detective Straub and Detective Martin.” He checks the apartment number written on the crumpled piece of paper with a gloved hand, then glances back at the organized columns of messy handwritten names. “Are you Miss Brando?”
Mrs. Mrs. Brando. My husband’s gone. Deceased. Hold on for a second; I’ll let you in.”
The detectives look at one another and shrug their shoulders. Detective Martin has a navy-blue, thickly knitted scarf wound several times around her face. It covers her entire mouth. Her eyes light up. She breathes through her nose, a steady stream of cold air funneling out through her nostrils. A loud buzz groans as Detective Straub shoves open the door, and they enter into a small, heated vestibule. The annoying sound continues. They push through the next layer of protection and step into a carpeted foyer. In front of them, a narrow hallway leads to a back apartment. A wooden stairway lumbers heavenward.
“Up here. On the fourth floor. There ain’t an elevator.”
They peek up through layers of winding balustrade. A woman leans out over the railing, a cigarette clinched in her fingers as they begin their ascent. They round the corner of the third floor and hear locks unlatch. At the end of the hallway, a door opens. Bright light saturates the entranceway. An old woman appears, ethereal. She stops at the threshold and stands still, watching, as the two turn the bend. Dressed in a loose-fitting white gown, she holds onto the doorframe for support. Her hair is long, combed neatly, the color of snow. It cascades over her bony collarbone, her thin frame and skinny arms. She is barefoot. Her face is weathered like dried fruit, but sweet, innocent almost. The officers stop.
“Morning,” the male detective says.
She remains, silent, observing them, a ghostly presence, as they pass by her.
“Bessie?” Mrs. Brando yells down from upstairs. “Go back inside. I’ll take care of it.”
The detectives turn as the woman closes the door.  Locks secure.
“That’s Bessie. She’ll be 103 next month. Go figure.” Mrs. Brando waits at the top of the stairs. She has a cropped, short haircut. Tiny spikes of dirty blonde hair shoot up from her forehead like angry arrows. She takes the last full drag off her cigarette, then grinds the butt into a glass ashtray sitting on the floor, overflowing in a graveyard of ashes. “Hope you don’t mind me smoking?”
“We were given your name at the precinct.” The detective loosens some of his winter wear; gloves, hat, his scarf. The hallway is hot. Sweat trickles down the nape of his neck. “You’re the one who found him?”
“Christmas Day. I always bring him cookies. I make ‘em every year. On Christmas Eve. It’s a tradition. My husband, Marlon, used to love ‘em. So, before I go to mass in the morning, I check in on him, you know, make sure he’s doing okay…”
“That’s when I found him.” She moves toward a door. “I have the key, just like he had a copy of mine. We’re older. You never know. I used to have a cat. He would feed him when I went to visit my son. My son lives with his wife now in Connecticut.” She makes a “hoity-toity” signal with her finger. She rattles the key in the lock. The door squeaks as it opens. “The cops came that day, after I called it in. They didn’t say much. I tend to mind my own business.”
The three of them enter the apartment.  
“Did you notice anything suspicious, strange guests, any noises?”
“He was a quiet man. We’ve been neighbors for over thirty years. He was a part of the family, you know. If anything was out of the ordinary, I would have known it. Trust me.” She fumbles for another unfiltered cigarette from a crumpled pack and lights up. “You don’t mind, do you?” She takes a deep inhale as if it were life support.
The officers shake their heads. “What did he do?”
Smoke billows from her mouth and nose as she speaks. A few front teeth are missing. “Well, at one time he was a very famous writer.” She whispers, “Gay. He was gay. Although, in all the years we knew each other, I only saw him with one guy.” She points to a wall lined with shelves, each one packed with stacks of books. “He wrote that novel…what’s it called? My memory ain’t so good these days. Ah… The Wanting Hour, that’s it, that’s the one…way back in the 70s. It was a big deal, a big bestseller. New York Times…the whole enchilada! He lived on money from that and his social security, like the rest of us. Rent control, you know?”
The officers mosey over to the bookshelf. “Did you hear anything strange that night?”
“No, not really. I was baking. I went to bed late, around midnight.” Another bottomless drag off her cigarette. She leans against the wall and picks at a random piece of tobacco stranded on the bottom of her lip. “A delivery… I remember he had a delivery, later on in the night. I heard the buzzer. But that wasn’t unusual. Chinese, probably. Other than that…nothing, some music, normal stuff…a shower. He went to Marie’s Crisis earlier in the evening. I know that for a fact. I said good-bye to him when he left. I was smokin’ out in the hallway. He always hung out at that place. It’s close by, right down the street. All the staff knows him. We’ve been there a few times with Bessie downstairs…” She points her finger toward the floor. “She likes to sing, so, we take her there for her birthday.”

The officers trudge through a slog of dirty, slushy snow to arrive at the basement bar before official opening hours. They knock several times on the outside window. Panes rattle. They stand beneath a dirty red-and-white metal awning. It moans like a sick cow in the frigid wind. A blonde woman wearing an oversized gray sweater comes into view. She has big brown eyes, a petite frame, and opens the door out of breath, just a crack, not wanting a blast of winter to invade the heated interior.
“May we come in?” the detective asks. His teeth chatter as he speaks. The temperature is plummeting along with the light of day. It fades a slow death between the concrete parking structures located across the street on 7th Avenue.
The male detective in front of her reminds her of an advertisement. The big, blue Michelin Man, the cartoon character with puffy layers of clothing heaped upon him. “What can I help you with?” She opens the door a bit wider. She peeks around the heft of clothing to view another detective, a female, standing behind him, eyes staring inquisitively. She has brown hair pulled back in a tight ponytail. Her cheeks are olive colored. No makeup.
“Sure, sure. Come on in. It’s freezing out there.”
They enter the tiny vestibule. The young girl locks the door behind them and scurries down a rickety stairway, around a corner, and disappears.
They look at each other, perplexed, until the girl appears again at the bridge of the stairs, waving them down.
“Please, please, come on down. It’s warmer down here.” Once again, she vanishes.
They follow the steep stairway around a bend and into a dark dungeon, both surprised by the small scope of the space. A field of twinkling, colorful lights hovers right below the ceiling. A male bartender stocks beer behind a long wooden bar pitched against the far wall. Bottles clang with his effort.  
“So, what can I help you with?” The girl massages her hands, vigorously, sparking warmth, assuaging nerves.
The detective glances at his notes. “I’m Detective Straub, and this is Detective Martin. We’re from the Sixth Precinct and we have a few questions… You were open on Christmas Eve, weren’t you?”
“Yes, yes, of course. It’s one of our busiest nights. You want to sit down?” She points at a few barstools pushed up under a high-top table. A red tablecloth falls sloppily over the side. “A soda, maybe, something to drink?” She makes a dash for the bar, catching the tablecloth as she flees. She fills two glasses with water from a fountain gun and tosses the cloth into a mounting hamper. “For some reason, Christmas Eve brings out the “singer” in people. We were slammed that night.  I’m Marie, the manager, by the way.” She walks back toward the officers and places her offering on the table.
“Did you happen to see this man?” The detective pulls a picture from his coat pocket and shows the girl a black-and-white photo mounted inside a tarnished silver frame.
The girl recognizes him immediately. “Yes, of course. That’s Will. He’s a regular of ours. He comes in all the time. Why? What happened to him?”
“He’s dead.”
“What?” She turns to the bar. “Zach...”
“He was found dead in his apartment on Christmas morning.”
She covers her mouth, processing the information. “Zach, Zach…” She moves to the bar and interrupts the bartender’s routine. “Zach, Will’s dead.”
“Will who?” He looks up.
“You know…Will? The old guy who sits on the end there.” She points to an empty barstool pushed against the brick wall.
“Him? You’re shitting me?” He stands up and puts his hands on his hips.
The detectives walk to the bar. “No, he’s dead alright.” They pass over the photo.
“What the hell happened? I just saw him the other night.”
“That’s why we’re here. We wanted to ask if either of you saw anything out of the ordinary, anything different? Did he leave with somebody?”
“Will’s one of our regulars. He comes in a lot.” Zach pushes a wave of unruly brown hair from his eyes. He wears a ragged t-shirt with a small hole in front. A black vest and white shirt occupy a hanger behind him. “He always has the same drink…a Maker’s Mark Manhattan…as long as I’ve been working here. Wow. That sucks, man.” He places the frame on the bar.
“Horrible.” The girl chimes in.
“So…nothing strange? Nothing out of the ordinary?” Officer Straub leans into the bar. He digests the place, the dirty, smeared mirror with the chiseled words, RIGHT OF MAN. The bottles of booze lined up in front of the back mural. LIBERTÉ ÉGALITE FRATERNITÉ!
“He seemed fine. I mean, he’d been getting a little forgetful lately, but, no, nothing I can remember. He comes in, has a few drinks, and leaves. I do remember him trying to start up a conversation with a few people, but they were only interested in singing. That’s about it.”
Detective Straub hands him a business card. “I know this sounds really CSI, but if you do remember anything, give us a call.”
“Sure, sure.” He does another hand rake through his hair.
The detective takes the photo and begins moving toward the stairway.
“Wait a minute. There was something…”
The officers turn.
“I remember him wanting to buy a drink for somebody, and when I asked who it was for, he said some kid who’d gone downstairs to the bathroom. He ordered a Jack and Coke, a double, but the drink just sat there. The kid never came back.”

Christmas Eve, 2014

“You thought I brought you up here for sex?”
A cold draft of wind swirls through the building’s hallway. The boy shuts the door. 
Locks turn. Dead bolts secure.
Snow melts from his tennis shoes, leaving an insignificant puddle of water on the hardwood floor. He kicks at each heel without unlacing them. Tube socks, white, damp, and stained leave a noticeable wet trail as he ventures further into the living room. A restless wind howls outside. The apartment is warm and cozy. A still life snapshot of age and time, years upon years of artful collection and preserved memories. The boy casts off his light windbreaker, far too skimpy for the raging winter outside, and flings it over an overstuffed armchair.
“Well, didn’t you?” The boy has a toned physique. Fit. Perhaps he played sports in high school at one time, an athlete maybe.
“This apartment has been my sanctuary for over thirty years now. And, during that time, only once did I bring a young lad up here just for sex.” The old man suppresses a smile. Recollections flicker. “And he ended up staying with me for three years... It was hardly just for sex. Now, wouldn't you say?”
“When was that?” The boy takes a seat on the sofa. The plump folds of fabric enfold him. He rubs his hands over his arms to garner heat. The skimpy, short-sleeved shirt he wears is sadly out of season as well.
“Oh, another lifetime now, it seems.” The old man goes to the fireplace and flicks on a switch. The petrified logs neatly arranged on the hearth grow orange. They crackle with heat. “The landlord, the new landlord that is, converted all these old fireplaces into gas heaters a few years back. Yuck!” He reaches for an elongated Bic lighter and inflames two long-stemmed candles secured in antique silver candelabras. “It gives the idea of a fireplace, and, in this foul weather, it does offer up some heat.” He takes a deep, purposeful breath. “It’s that smell I miss though–you know, the aroma of real firewood burning. Ah! Yes! That’s all but forgotten.”
“You got anything to drink?” The boy looks around the apartment. Nerves trigger, a coiled cricket about to jump.
The living room has an entire wall lined with wooden shelves. Books of all sizes, shapes, and color fill the space. Old, classic, well-worn volumes stand upright, like soldiers at attention, one beside another, layer upon layer, some used purposely as bookends. A nice-sized bedroom is off to the side, the door slightly ajar. A Tiffany lamp casts a honey glow. A queen-sized bed rests against a far wall. Fluffy pillows line a stately dark headboard and a multi-colored quilt serves as a comforter. The boy strains his neck for a better sightline. A wooden circular table with clawed feet and four matching chairs sits near the only window in the main room. White shutters, now closed shut, fill in its entire floor-to-ceiling frame. 
“Let me see.” The man shuffles out of view. He disappears into a tiny kitchenette, keeping his bulky winter coat on. The refrigerator door opens with a pop. Gray shadows sway on the sidewall from the reflected light. His old feet are slow and methodical, well-rehearsed on the tiled floors. Glasses clink from the cabinet. The squeak of exertion from twisting the cork as the bottle opens. Then, he’s back, standing before the boy and offering a glass.
“Hope you like vino. It’s all I have, I’m afraid.”
“Fine.” The boy sits quietly. He reaches for the glass, then tastes. The wine is cold, clear and fruity, but not overly sweet. The man releases a huge sigh. He sits in an overstuffed armchair, the color a faded burgundy. A reading lamp strains its curvy metal neck around the back of the chair. Tightly crocheted off-white doilies line the armrests in an attempt to arrest the frayed fabric edges. The old man leans back and takes his first sip.
“So, why don’t you tell me about yourself?” The man’s eyes are soft and translucent, the light flickering from the candles dance inside them.
The boy is anxious. He takes another quick gulp of wine. “Ah…what do you want to know?”
“There’s really no need for you to be so nervous. You aren't a prisoner here. You are free to go at your leisure, whenever you wish, if I make you so restless.”
“No, no, I’m fine. It’s just…well, usually, you know, it’s about the sex. I don’t usually stick around.”
“Ha! Well, I assure you, I don’t want sex from you, although, I must admit, you are an attractive vessel. God, that sounds so crass! Doesn't it?” A devious chuckle escapes. Dimples blossom on ruddy cheeks the color of pink roses. “So, with that being said, you can relax now and breathe.”
“Okay…” an awkward pause, “…then what do you want?”
The old man rests for a second.  He ponders the question, massaging his forehead. “What do I want?” He tips the glass to his mouth and takes another swallow. The fireplace crackles with fake intensity, like a cellophane candy wrapper opening and unfolding.
The boy finishes the wine in one gulp. He wipes his mouth with a backhanded swipe.
“There’s more in the refrigerator, if you like. Help yourself.” The old man slips out of his overcoat. He leans forward, pulls his arm through the first sleeve and then the next before patting the heavy, layered coat against the back of the chair.
“Why do you trust me? You’re old. I could hurt you. I could be dangerous.”
“True. You could very well be all of those things. But you aren't. And you won’t. Besides, you did save my life downstairs.”
The boy moves to the kitchen. He places the knife on the countertop. It brandishes a heavy black handle. The tiny teeth on the blade are sharp and rusty. Given the opportunity, this weapon could have inflicted serious damage on somebody or something. It makes a thump as it hits the counter. The old man jumps in his seat from the noise.
“Sorry.” The refrigerator is empty except for a few bottles of white wine, a Brita filtered-water container, and leftover Chinese takeout. He grabs the bottle and fills his glass to the rim. “You want more?”
“No, no, I’m fine.” The old man’s voice echoes with reverb from the next room.
The boy grabs the glass and walks back into the living room. A full wall of bookshelves, a built-in desk tucked perfectly underneath--messy with papers, letters, notebooks, journals, a slew of piled up photographs; black and white, sepia-colored snapshots, a life lived. Loose change; paper mostly, small notes–single dollars and five-dollar bills--strewn about. A red-lacquered, tiny chest filled with jewelry, the lid open, crammed with an assortment of watches, cuff links, and expensive tie clips. Disheveled tchotchkes, thrown from swollen pockets, a silver-and-gold hodgepodge without much notion of organization or order. A typewriter, classic, non-electric, with a piece of paper left in the cartridge. A few words lost on a sea of bone. Crumpled pieces of bond paper scattered about the floor, crunched up, thrown away, a wastebasket drowning in white.
And books, and more books, layer upon layer of every kind of book imaginable. Lining the shelves and filling the space are paperbacks, hardbacks, first editions, swollen leather covers, fanning out for miles, spread out across the entire wall. “Have you read all these?” On the floor is an antique phonograph. The boy moves carefully around its large horn speaker    
“Most of them.” He turns slightly to watch from his chair. It squeaks against the flooring. “Why don’t we listen to some music? Do you know how to work one of those contraptions?”
The boy analyzes the antique record player and laughs. “I don’t think so.”
“Okay, let me do it then. Something festive, but not too Christmassy. I deplore Christmas music.” He moves from his chair and pulls out an album from a bloated collection, a vinyl, a 33-RPM. He slips the disc out of its sleeve and places it on top of the felt-covered turntable. Layered on the spindle, several records wait in queue, one on top of the other, continuous music, uninterrupted melody. He flips a switch, places the needle on the record’s edge, and waits for a moment while the scratchy wave produces an aria of music. “Ahh…that’s better.” Classical piano begins. It serenades the room, soft and slow, building to a crescendo with a delicate mixture of strings and reedy wood instruments. The old man moves back to his chair. He uses his hands in the air, flamboyantly, like a conductor, phrasing the music with his fingers, lightly humming the melody.
“Do you write?” The boy places his glass upon the desk by the typewriter and pulls out one of the books.
“Oh, yes, when I was younger.”
He opens the cover and flips through several pages, fanning the contents with his fingers. “I love this author. We had to read him in school.”
“And who might that be?”
“Ellery Flynn. He was required reading in the tenth grade. Our English teacher believed in diversity.”
“Well, yes, that author certainly was diverse, that’s for sure.” He chuckles. “If I’m not mistaken, he wrote several novels. Which one are you looking at?”
The Wanting Hour.”
“Ah…The Wanting Hour. Wonderful, haunting book, a coming–of-age story of sorts, centered around a young homosexual male. That was the last novel Flynn wrote, I think.”
The boy scans several more pages. A black and white photograph takes up the entire back flap. The author sits in a chair, his hair longish and dark, shoulder length, and his eyes twinkle with a certain familiarity. The boy studies the face. “Wonder why?”
“I suppose, like most things in life, the muse abandoned him.”
“This book changed my life… Wait a minute.” The boy looks over at the man, then back to the picture. “Holy shit! This isn't you, is it?”
The old man stays as he is. He stares at the empty sofa across from him, at the framed artwork of Keith Haring centered above it, several cartoon people the color of blue and yellow and green shaking madly.
The boy moves behind the old man. “You’re Ellery Flynn, aren't you?”
“Holy fucking shit! I can’t fucking believe it! Ellery Flynn!” He stomps his foot on the floor.
“Shhhh. You’ll wake Bessie.”
“I don’t give a flying fuck. Who the fuck is Bessie? Wow! Man, this is freaking me out.” He leans down by the side of the chair. He touches the old man’s arm. “Are you really him, really?”
“What does it matter? Does it change anything?”
“You changed my life!” 
The old man repositions himself in his chair. He leans back into the faded fabric. “Really? I did all that? Why, for heaven’s sake?”
“This is the first book that made any sense to me. You know, about being different.”
“Different?” The old man picks up his glass from the coffee table. He massages his bushy eyebrow with an index finger. Hair sprouts, wiry mutants, shooting out in different directions, like wild antennae in search of a signal.
“Well, it’s kind of embarrassing to talk about.”
“I don’t know what’s worse…being born different or living life trying to comprehend somebody else’s asinine definition of normal. Personally, I think being normal is far more embarrassing.”
The boy walks to the desk and slips the book back into its tight slot. He claps his hands several times to remove the dust, grabs his glass and positions himself behind the old man’s chair. “I've done some pretty bad things in my life…things I’m not proud of.”
“None of us are perfect.”
The boy leans down. He pushes his chest into the man’s back. Using his upper-body weight, he leans into his shoulders, reaches his free arm around the man’s throat and whispers into his ear. “No, seriously…” Heat emanates from the boy’s face. So close, so, so close, the prickle of facial hair grazes his cheeks.
“What? Did you kill somebody?”
The boy tightens his stranglehold. “I never killed anybody, but…”
“I’m listening…”
The boy is suddenly up, energized, moving around the coffee table and flopping onto the sofa. “Let’s just say I've done some things.” He stares across the coffee table at the man. He leans forward. He has his arms tucked into his lap, studying the old man’s face. “You are him! Shit!” He shakes his head. “You made my fucking Christmas, man! Ellery Fucking Flynn. Damn!” A huge smile breaks out across his face. He bites at his lower lip, glances around the apartment. “Wow! This is cool. Really fucking cool, man.” He takes a deep breath. He listens to the classical music for a second. “I like this shit. What is it?”


Huntington, West Virginia.
We traveled light, by train, on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, the train tracks built alongside the muddy green waters of the Guyandotte and Ohio River. We listened to the static sound of the Shirelles sing Baby it’s You from a beat-up, pocket-sized transistor radio.
It was the summer before my sixteenth birthday. Almost one year, exactly, before I would run away from home. We were visiting family, distant cousins I think, kinfolk who were used to my mother and her fleeting fits of drama with men. We arrived in the middle of a scorching summer. We used ice cubes to cool us down while sitting in our seats. The heat was stifling. We slid the frozen, slippery chips across the tops of our forehead and chest, dropping the last blast of icy coldness into our mouths at the very last second—just before it melted into nothingness. We kept the windows open and listened to the monotonous sound of wheels churning, clicking, and rattling beneath us. The breeze was hot and humid. We took turns standing, catching the drafts of hot air with our wet spots in an attempt to keep cool. 
The station was familiar. A wide concrete platform with wooden-slat beams painted forest green, the trim an off-white. We had escaped here before. Our family--my sisters, my mama and I--had run away, like fugitives, to this quiet place along the banks of the boggy river. Many times. Tearing the family away, uprooting us in the middle of the night, scooping us up from our warm beds, and from the clutches of those wastrel men, those hairy beasts, all heated and horny and threatening mama in one way or another.
West Virginia. 
Our safety net.
My cousin’s name was Edna. She was a widow and lonely for our rambunctious company. She dressed in yellow kitchen aprons, wore butterfly barrettes in her tightly curled hair and welcomed us into her lovely home and her accepting family. She generously offered us a smorgasbord of delicious food, (all cooked up by herself) a few nights of peaceful, rest-filled sleep, and plenty of blue-sky sunshine.
We water-rafted down the gray waters of the Ohio River, us kids melting into the tops of inflated black tire tubes or sneaking into the Camden Amusement Park to ride the wooden, rickety Big Dipper rollercoaster, sometimes several times in a row, until we disembarked dizzy and drunk with happiness. A mini vacation, sort of. We always looked forward to our visits, us kids outside, producing sweat, while Edna and mama sat inside at the kitchen table, drinking pots of coffee and spinning stories--invented ones or real, no one knew, no one cared. It didn't really matter.
We slept in our cousins’ rooms. I was paired with Gene, one year older than me, and my sisters were allowed to share one bedroom all to themselves, (since they were getting older, entering their last years of high school and dealing with growing pains and puberty.) The youngest of my female cousins slept on the living-room sofa in order to make room.
Gene was a country boy, fair and strong with blue eyes and a tanned body. He was an intimidating masculine presence, a tree trunk of twisted muscles, blessed with God-given symmetry. My continual scrutinization of him and my critical self-judgement of myself never added up to much resolution--skinny frame, knobby knees and my soft, girlish personality. I had yet to come to terms, or get a handle on a comfortable and/or succinct way to communicate with boys my own age. The language exchanged between them was so different from anything I’d ever known, learned about, or experienced with my feminine family at home.
Gene was a handsome boy, though, mature beyond his years and fine as the lacy silk sewn into Edna’s dresses. He reminded me of a colorful peacock, strutting around; proud, tall, and full of country spit and vinegar. The oldest of four kids, he assumed the role of husband, father, and emotional rock to the family after his daddy, Loyd, passed away from a heart attack.
Racing diesel-powered, homemade go-karts around a circular patch of dusty dirt track in the back of the house, or shooting bb’s at wild pigeons pecking at the street from his bedroom window, Gene, for some reason, always accepted my difference, my specialness, my aberrant nature.
The family never knew.
I never told a soul.
Those hot summer nights, Gene and I rushing barefoot from the bathroom, pushing each other’s bodies through the silent hallways of the house to slip nude in between freshly bleached sheets, a sense of urgency mounting in each of our steps. Lying there, naked, our shoulders burnt -- kissed by the sun of that day--and listening to each other’s rhythmic breathing. Our bodies, a bundle of restlessness, a mounting swell of curiosity and nerves and tingly energy.
Gene’s hand reaching first, out and over, and across the landscape of sheets, slightly grazing my hip with the tip of his finger, my body lifting up off the bed, levitating from the lightness, the heat of his touch. All that pent-up tension stirring and growing stronger around my stomach, a sensation so foreign, yet so satisfying and stimulating, my breathing irregular, my heart pulsing with an unfamiliar beat. The weight of a thousand restraints holding me back from something, supposedly, so wrong, yet impossible to deny or stop. Me wanting to reach out as well, race my hand across that expanse of space and fabric, to explore and discover Gene’s naked flesh. To trace my fingers through that slight patch of hair sprouting upon his chest, allow my tongue to follow the soft pleasure-trail of fur rambling down his body, like a wild vine, below his belly button to his pubic patch.
All the secret spaces of his body I had viewed, inconspicuously, in the daylight hours, shifting my gaze so as not to stare, so as not to get caught, so as not to face embarrassment or feel the burning shame of my secret crush. Him standing there, shirtless, his t-shirt wrapped tight around his thin waist, waving the white flag above his head for the race to begin.
A taste of cool water can overwhelm the senses in times of serious drought. To be acknowledged and accepted into a fold of masculine fraternity, no matter what the venue, can be a life-altering event. Those nights in West Virginia, cradled in Gene’s muscular caress -- the noisy crickets serenading us through the open window -- brought more insight into the way men can love--could love--than any other introduction I would ever experience. It meant much more to me than those awkward, backseat bus rides, coming home from neighboring football games, and the spastic introduction to a “stinky finger” with a girl I hardly knew, nor cared to. Or the Boy Scout “circle jerks,” where boys exposed themselves in ritualistic pubescent glory and shot their wads like a “pitch it” toss, to see who could shoot the furthest. Those incidences made more a mockery of my emerging sexuality rather than encourage it to blossom, naturally, as it had in the sweet expression of intimacy I’d shared with Gene in that West Virginia town.
Dare I say there was a tenderness present between the two of us, a camaraderie of loving spirits, of secrets shared only between the two of us and no one else? A quality I rarely experienced again, even later in life, with a carousel of horny men offering casual sex as an illusion, a mask of love, motivated more by lust than intimacy. As if together, in those stolen few moments, Gene and I were able to hold on to a feeling so special, so infant in its beginning stages, and so beautiful, we somehow knew our awakening could, would never last. That it, alone, in itself, would never sustain the ridicule and scrutiny of a loveless, cruel, judgmental and hateful society.
Those memories with Gene would forever teach me a new way of communicating with men, as shortsighted and superficial as that may sound. If I couldn't be a part of their tribe, be one of them, an equal partner in their masculine, selected fold, I could at least compete for their attention, approval, and acceptance with sex. I could find a lost part of my missing masculinity mirrored in those men, and communicate my lack of it with an act as simple and forgettable as sex.

Gene died early, like his daddy. Not quite forty. Heart attack. He left behind him a wake of sorrow--three beautiful girls and a loving, devoted, wife. 

Available for pre-purchase on Amazon.
Launch date: Labor Day 2015


  1. Awesome!! Can't wait to read the whole book. Hard to not stop reading!! Wow!!

  2. I can't wait to read the whole book!! 😊😊