Monday, December 15, 2008

Angel Land excerpt by Victor J Banis

Late in the 21st Century—ravaged by the deadly Sept virus, the one time United States has disintegrated into The Fundamental Christian Territories, where Catholics, Baptists and Jews are registered as heretics, and gays are herded into walled ghettos: The Zones of Perversion.

Harvey Milk Walton, a runner, finds his way to the ghetto in Angel Land, oldest of the territories, where a legend says that his long ago martyred namesake will return one day to lead his people to freedom—but even to speak of freedom, of leaving the FTC, is punishable by death.

In a crumbling totalitarian society, where evil masquerades as piety, two men fall in love and begin to dream of escape—from Angel Land.

Angel Land
Publisher: Quest (Regal Crest) (November 10, 2008)
ISBN-10: 1935053051


The ultimate Family Value vacation!
Ride replicas of the legendary cable cars “halfway to the stars.”
See—close up—the Bridge of the Golden Gate, once crossed by motor cars*
See the actual ocean, in absolute safety—no bio-hazards
Visit an authentic restored “Frisco Watering Hole” of the Gay 90s
Religious services every hour, every day. Baptisms 24 hours
Plus—Tour free from unsightly perverts or homeless

Angel Land—your paradise on earth!

Fundamental Christian Values strictly enforced!
No alcohol**, drugs or non-marital sexual activities
All Catholics, Jews and all other heretics must be properly registered.
All tattoos must be prominently displayed at all times.

*For safety reasons, viewing distance appr. 1.2 miles. Actual bridge cannot be entered.
**Holy Spirits, the FCT’s own beer, available at selected locations

Travel arrangements by Halo There, the official travel agency of the FCT.
Travel brochure printed by permission of the Council of Churches, Ord. 3010a, petition on file

* * *

A MUTT. A stray, Dell told herself. Cute, Chip had said when he reported the stranger. Cute? Well, okay, even in the dim light she could see what might have caught Chip’s eye, but aside from that, this character had all the appeal of a sewer rat. And smelled about as nice.
“Rise and shine,” she said. “Open up your peepers.”
He continued to pretend like he was asleep. Damn it all, now Chip was giving him that toothy grin, you would think they’d invited this joker in for tea.
“Let’s try it this way: if you don’t rise pretty quick,” she said in her best Big Daddy voice, “I’m going to shine your peepers.”
That got a response. He opened his baby-blues—brown, actually, flecked with glints of gold—and turned himself right side up. “Hi,” he said. “Who are you?”
“I’m Chip,” Chip said, flashing the broken tooth again. “She’s Dell. Delta, but everyone calls her Dell.”
“The question is, who are you?” she asked.
“Harvey,” he said. He extended a hand, which she ignored. “Harvey Milk Walton. Pleased to meet you.”
Chip shot her a quick glance. She knew what he was thinking. Harvey Milk was a gay savior who had been assassinated a century or more earlier. There was a legend among Angel Land’s gays that he would come back one day to lead them to freedom.
A sweet story, but so far there had been at least a dozen of those Messiahs, all cashing in to make a few bucks in contributions before they disappeared, leading no one anywhere. She was still here, wasn’t she? She was willing to bet this one was another opportunist. And probably a runner, which meant they’d be looking for him. That could be trouble for the whole building if they found him here. For the whole Zone, even.
“Where are you from?”
He batted his eyes. “Right here. Our friendly neighborhood ghetto.”
“Don’t try to dick me,” she said. “I was born with a dildo in each hand, and I know every queen in this ghetto.”
Tall, big, with an arm gallery of tattoo art above the number and the green star on her wrist, she was an imposing presence, an effect she cultivated. She held a garden hoe in her right hand like a staff of office. As a weapon it was better than the batons the Lays carried. She had once cracked a skull open with it to end a fight. In her left hand she held her keys, an enormous ring of keys that she often jingled to emphasize a point. She gave her hip a bang with the ring and the keys jangled noisily.
“You’ll talk straight with me or I’ll turn you over to the gate guards. Let them ask the questions, if you’d like that better.”
Apparently he wouldn’t. The eyelashes stopped fluttering. “My name really is Harvey Milk Walton. I’m from Eden.”
“A runner,” Chip said. His chipped tooth disappeared with his grin.
“I’m a Born,” Harvey Milk Walton said.
Which was even worse, in her book. Anyone, even a homo, could be a Born Again. You took a vow to obey in all ways the Minister you were assigned to, until such a time as the Minister was willing to testify that you had “seen the light,” a day which for most Borns never came. Technically it was a voluntary matter, but troublemakers were often given a choice of camp or Born Again, and she had heard of Ministers who liked to “volunteer” attractive young women and sometimes young men. The Minister’s job was to educate his disciple in the niceties of Fundie religion. The Born’s job was to serve the Minister’s every whim, of whatever nature, twenty-four hours a day.
“A slave, in other words,” she said aloud, which was what it came down to.
He shrugged. “Look at it this way: if you had a choice of ‘Down in the Valley’ or down in the mines, which would you pick? My Minister’s name was Crow, by the way. I’ll let you work out the pun for yourself.”
She made an elaborate show of looking to the right and the left. “Is Minister Crow with you this morning?” she asked. Legally, a Born out in public had to be in his Minister’s company at all times. No exceptions.
“He had an accident. He’s dead.”
Chip jumped back as if someone had nipped his yum-yums. “You killed your Minister?” he stammered. He gave Dell a frightened look. “He killed his Minister. He’ll be number one on the Hit Parade. Every Lay in Angel Land will be hot on his trail.”
“I didn’t kill him. It was an accident.”
She liked this less and less. “What kind of accident?” she asked.
“We were…well, we came up on hols. We were at this inn, in the lav. He was, you know, he was worked up.”
“Worked up?”
“He was getting close. Close to going off. You know what going off means, don’t you?”
“Don’t get snotty, you’ll only live to regret it.” She rattled the keys again. “What were you doing?”
“I was darning his socks,” he said. “I was on my knees. What do you think I was doing?”
Even she had to admit she had asked for that one. She made a placating gesture with her hands. “Okay, that was a dumb question. So there you are, darning his socks, and he’s arriving, as they say, and then what happened?”
“Well, the thing was, he was practically there and he wasn’t going to pull out. You know how you can tell when they aren’t…well, maybe you wouldn’t know, but I can always tell, and I knew he wasn’t going to, even though he’d promised…

* * *

I CAN ALWAYS tell, and he wasn’t going to, promise or no promise. Now, I like a treat as well as the next one, but it depended, needless to say, on who you were doing this with or to, and Minister Crow’s flabby little pee-pee was no one’s idea of a turn on. I had so far managed to convince him that I had never gone that far and didn’t care to, and up until this time, he had respected my feelings about that, if sometimes only just—I’d had a lot of his sap on my cheeks and on my chin and even in my eyes.
This time, however, I was one hundred percent certain that he meant to up the ante. So I did the only sensible thing. I bit him. Hard. That is one thing always guaranteed to spoil the fun. His fun, anyway, since I wasn’t having any to begin with.
He squealed like a sinner in the stocks and jerked back, his little preacher-boy bobbing about in front of my face. I could see that I had drawn blood and even though I knew I was in serious trouble, I have to admit it gave me a little bit of pleasure—the first real pleasure I’d ever gotten out of these interludes with Minister Crow, which just proves you can always get some satisfaction out of anything if you really sink your teeth into it.
“You accursed boy,” he shouted. Well, in fact, he said a couple of other things first, but no need to get into them. He was a Minister, after all, and no one can cuss like a Minister, if you ask me. Anyway, he brought his hand back to hit me, and he stepped back to give himself some more purchase. Which is to say, he really meant to give me a Sunday school lesson. I closed my eyes tight and braced myself.
Only, the thing was, the floor was wet—I’m not going to get into that—and his tights were down around his ankles, so instead of actually stepping back, he took a hop or two—and lost his balance. He went end over with a loud whoop. There was a thunk and a thud, and he hit the floor in front of me with a wheeze of expelled breath.
For a long time I stayed where I was, on my knees, eyes squeezed shut, and waited for him to get up and start hollering and swinging. He didn’t, however. He didn’t do anything. The silence was scary. After a minute or so, I opened one eye and peeked. The first thing I saw was this crimson puddle spreading around his head.
Nothing. I crawled forward on my knees and put a tentative hand on his shoulder. “Minister?” I said again. Still nothing. I gave the shoulder a shake. So far I had tried not to look him in the face, but I knew I was going to have to.
“Oh, poop,” I said aloud. His eyes were open. I didn’t need a Medical Worker to tell me they weren’t seeing me—weren’t seeing anything, in fact, and weren’t going to see anything ever again, not this side of the river.
I got up. My knees were shaking and sore from kneeling on that hard floor, and I rubbed them and stared at him and tried to think what to do. Like, was I going to call downstairs and say, “My Minister is dead up here?” The birds may not always nest in my tree but that didn’t sound to me like the smartest thing to do.
My heart was dancing a jig inside my chest. It got worse the longer I stared at him, and finally I went into the other room. At least there I didn’t have to see him.
What I saw instead was this big jug of wine that I had forgotten all about. He had ordered it sent up when we first got there. (You didn’t really think all Fundies were dry, did you?) It was bootleg, of course, nasty stuff, tasted like horse pee to tell the truth. Not that I would actually know, understand, that’s just an expression my Auntie used to use.
Still, if it was horse pee it must have come from a real stallion. I made a face and chugged down a big swig right from the bottle. Nasty or not, it helped. My heart stopped banging against my ribs and my breath slowed down to a string of mere gasps.
I poured some into a glass, parked my bare behind on the carpet and drank. After a while, I forgot about the dead Minister in the lav. By that time the bottle was empty. I turned over on my side, snatched a pillow from the bed, and went to sleep.
When I finally came to, it was close to dawn, the sun threatening to appear any minute. My head was about to explode and my mouth tasted like a whole platoon of Lays had used it for a crapper. I went into the bathroom, hoping maybe I’d just had a nightmare, but he was still there. The puddle around his noggin was dry and brown by now. One hand had landed in the crapper when he fell, and when I lifted it out to take a pee it was as cold as an Elder’s heart.
What was I going to do? Leaving your Minister to sleep on the lav floor for a night was not considered good form. Leaving him there dead was seriously rude.
I decided to take a shower to clear my head and also to give me some time to think. It helped my head but I still didn’t know what to do, so I went back into the other room and tried the wine bottle. It was still empty.
Outside the window the sky was growing lighter. Somewhere nearby a bird chattered. On the street below, a U worker—“ewes,” they called them, the lowest ranking members of the territorial society—swept the sidewalk. A coffee vendor washed his urns, getting ready for business.
I stood for a long moment looking down on the murky streets of Angel Land. We had only arrived the night before. I hadn’t had a chance yet to see anything of the town. Odds were, I might never get another chance, either.
I went for a walk.

1 comment: