Monday, September 1, 2008

Cutting the Cheese excerpt by Edward C Patterson

Cutting the Cheese, A Novel by Edward C Patterson: Luke Oliver has just come out of the closet and confronts a brave new world - a meeting of the Gay and Lesbian Activist Association of New Birch and Sipsboro (GLAABS) - your run of the mill, gay political caucus. Run of the Mill? . . . my @$$. Stepping across the threshold of the Otterson estate exposes Luke to horny and hilarious shenanigans that give the Boys in the Band a run for its money. Who wants whom? Who has whom? Who will win Luke's . . . let's say, attentions? A self-effacing, comic romp through the Gay hierarchy, Cutting the Cheese is a reality check from the author's provocative coming out experience in a drizzled-pink world; an outrageous ride down the funny bone. Repeat riding is encouraged. It's every one for themself in New Birch's Gay Ghetto. To Hell with Robert's Rules of Order.

Cutting the Cheese
Publisher: CreateSpace (March 11, 2008)
ISBN: 1434893847



Kelly Rodriguez struggled with the plastic grocery bags while trying to shut the back door.

“Kelly? Is that you?” Mortimer shouted from the recesses of the living room.

Kelly swept into the kitchen balancing the bags. “No, it’s Tom Cruise,” he said. He flung the bags on the butcher block, waving his hands about his nose. “I was in the neighborhood, found these fucking bags of cheese and thought they needed a home.”

No response.

Kelly rolled his eyes and, placing his hands on his hips, did his best impression of a salad cruet. “Would you help me? This is your shit anyway!” He slammed his palm on the counter, and then muttered: “I’m not having the gay scary fairies of New Birch meeting.”

Kelly caught his reflection in the polished flour canister. Scary fairy, my ass, he thought. Lovely creature. “But I’m not some fucking slave, Mortimer! Do you hear me?”

Kelly continued to preen before the canister until Mortimer bounced into the kitchen his hands over his ears as if to block an air raid siren. “I heard you,” he said, “and they’re not the scary fairies.”

Sharp ears, Kelly thought giving Mortimer attitude.

Mortimer approached the hallowed butcher block and its cargo of cheese. “The Gay Activists of New Birch are the hope for our future. And who are you to call anyone scary?” Mortimer stepped back and waved his hand down Kelly’s skinny butt and tight Nelly shorts.

Kelly answered with a finger snap, and then blew a hiss between pursed lips. “And who are you? Vanna White?”

Mortimer shrugged. He had reached the butcher block. “I’m just glad you finally got back. I thought you’d gone to the moon.”

“Where else can you get this much cheese?” Kelly snickered. He grabbed a dishcloth and began washing the counters, occasionally smiling at his own image in the flour tin.

“They’ll be here any minute.”

“I’ll be out of your way,” Kelly said. “Roy gave me a chore list.” He twirled around, his back to the counter. “And I’m not hanging around here to be enlisted in the Cheddar brigade. It’s bad enough I’ve dish pan hands.”

Mortimer looked into the bags, his face gnarling like a sourdough pretzel. “Shit! This is cheddar-sharp.”

Kelly threw the dishcloth into the sink. “Not all of it.” Mortimer scowled placing his hand mid-hip. Kelly shot him a glance that would kill. Who the fuck does he think he is? I’m the houseboy and it’s not his house. Wait ‘til Roy gets home. “Sorry I didn’t beat the cream on the rock so disa here cheese, she’d be purfuct for y’all.” He bowed, the dishcloth now retrieved like a fop’s hanky. “If you don’t like what I got, you should have gotten off your princess ass and went yourself. Cheddar-Sharp! Not all of it.” He grabbed Roy’s chore list from the counter.

“I asked you not to get Cheddar-Sharp. Can’t you follow a simple set of instructions?” Mortimer looked at the cheese as it dumped across the block. He clicked his tongue as if the world turned on dairy purchases. “I wanted it to be perfect. Cheddar-Sharp is harder to cut. It crumbles and they don’t eat it.”

Kelly clanked the silverware into the dishwasher. “Roy asked me to help you. I’m not under any obligation for this meeting.” He dipped his back against the sink like some precious coquette at Twelve Oaks. “I’m not even a fucking activist you know.” He grinned as if the angel’s had tickled him.

“Well you should get some community spirit and a social conscience,” Mort said. “You should join up.”

Kelly’s grin faded. He charged toward the bags of cheese, his slinking gait beckoning for the runway. “Do you want this in the refrigerator? Or what?” he snapped.

Mortimer blocked him. “No, leave it be. I said they’d be here any minute. You don’t hear a word I say.”

I wish, Kelly thought. His eyes said as much.

Mortimer stacked the cheese blocks into a pyramid. “We’ll start cubing when they come.”

Kelly rolled his eyes, and then adjusted his crotch in an eat me gesture.
“What’s this meeting about anyway?” he asked, retreating to the silverware.

“I thought you didn’t care.”

“I didn’t say I didn’t care. I said I wouldn’t join.” Kelly twirled over to the counter, leaning back again — the perfect Liza Minelli. “Just think of it as an inquiring mind that needs to know.”

It was Mortimer’s turn to roll eyes and snap fingers. “Important stuff.”

Kelly chuckled. He had been to the Gay Activist of New Birch meetings — at least twice, and he had seen these committee groups and sub-groups meet in various homes in the area. Not once did he ever consider the content to be weighty enough to label it Important stuff.

“Be a shit then,” Mortimer snapped. He continued the cheese set-ups. “I don’t think you take anything seriously.” He glanced back at Kelly. “Well, maybe your waistline, or by some stretch, your hair.”

“What’s wrong with my hair?” He glanced into the flour canister again.

No one ever took the houseboy seriously, especially Kelly Rodriguez. Sure he was a looker — had those thin, wiry hips, good for bed bearing and clock cleaning, but the boy had attitude — too much for a serious community member, like good old Mortimer. Kelly had moves, true. He danced naked in D.C. — on the bar top, down past his BVDs. That’s where Roy Otterson first saw him, somewhere between the five dollar squeeze and the one hundred dollar nibble at the club La Cage, where the D.C. cops turn their heads the other way as they did with all the O Street doings. Kelly knew a Sugar Daddy at five hundred yards. Roy Otterson never had a quiet bankroll. Roy knew its power — power to draw young Kelly into the Otterson coterie of fops and tag-alongs — a hummingbird knowing the nectar in one sniff. For this, Kelly now cleaned the toilets and mopped up party spills in service to the generous and powerful lord of the manor, but — seriously — no one took Kelly Rodriguez seriously — especially Mortimer Levine.

Kelly combed his fingers through his hair. “Of course I take it seriously,” he said. “I think very highly of the committee’s decision on the bunting color at the Gay Pride Parade. Heavy, man. Real heavy.” He gave Mortimer an Italian glance — an over the shoulder, Gloria Swanson glare.

“You wouldn’t understand these things.”

“Like I don’t vote!” Kelly skipped over to Mortimer, and then perched his chin on his nemesis’ shoulder, winking with butterfly lashes. “You know Mortimer, just because you’re Roy’s Project of the Month, doesn’t give you free reign to get snotty with me.” He straightened (as a figure of speech). “I’ve seen that basement apartment rented to the best . . . and the worst, not saying where you lie in the course of things . . . dear. You know, they come and go and come and come and come . . . but in the end — they go.” He flicked his hands in an inevitable whoosh.

“Look who’s talking — the twink du jour.”

“At least I know it.” Kelly was nobody’s fool and anybody’s purchase. He would be the first to admit it — in fact, proclaim it: “Houseboys are in it for the moolah and the perks and Roy’s riches flow freely to those of us who open our hearts and do a little light cleaning.”

“You mean spread your legs and do a lot of apple polishing.” Mortimer continued to spread the cheese out on the block.

Kelly clunked his elbows on the block and supported his pretty little head in those caressing palms like a candy heart perched in a show window. “What’s your point, Sir Mortimer?” No response. “I’ll tell you the point. I get the master bedroom, while you get the basement apartment — the damp, cold basement apartment with the water bugs and no windows.”

Mortimer clicked his teeth. He had taken a steady stream of Kelly’s tongue-lashing since he had arrived as Roy’s star tenant. But after all, Kelly was the hired-help. One should never stoop to quibble with the hired-help. Instead, one rises to the occasion and underscores the reality of existence — values and impact.

“Roy has confidence in my work,” Mort snarled, and then smiled. “He’s backing a winner.” Roy Otterson constantly sponsored emerging artists — writers, musicians and sometimes a dancer or three — it was his hobby; that, and the constant expansion of the house, this ghost of Tara future that all gay men in New Birch aspired to occupy, if only for the price of a committee meeting and a lump of Cheddar-Sharp cheese.

Kelly thought of Roy’s winners in terms of horse racing with so many contenders on the track. “Roy has confidence in my work,” he said. “And I go to the bank the winner.” He preened over his reflection again. “No illusions here.” He stood at attention, took a stiff breath and marched to the butcher block. His hand slammed down on a pale block of cheese. “Look here — mild cheddar.” He poked at another. “Most of this is mild, mild, mild.” Suddenly, the doorbell rang — or should we say clanged, a rich string of chimes and chords playing Bach’s O Jesu, heart of man’s desiring, a most unfitting tune for the Otterson estate. “Oh, there’s the doorbell. Shall I get it, your lordship?” Kelly cocked his head. “Surely you don’t want me to greet your company, or are you just going to lie there in state surrounded by rank cheese?” A few things surrounded in rank cheese crossed Kelly’s mind. He snickered.

“Fuck you.” Mortimer threw the cheese aside and headed through the kitchen door.

Kelly chuckled. They all think they’re hot shit because they think they have talent, he thought. Roy’s been through writers, musicians, singers, philosophers and even a dress designer. Flashes in the pan. He returned to his reflection and grinned, his teeth blossoming like a pretty jackass wreathed for some bacchanal. Talent is playing Indiana Jones in bed — and I‘ve a doctorate in that. “And when my charms fade,” he muttered, “or if the MasterCard’s declined, then — and only then I’ll consider my next career move.” His nose twitched. “Oh, that cheese stinks already.”

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