Monday, March 30, 2009

Transgressions excerpt by Erastes

England 1642: Two young men fall in love in a country poised on the brink of Civil War. David Caverly—who longs to escape his father's smallholding to join the King's Army, and of Jonathan Graie, the puritan apprentice David's father brings to help at the forge. They become friends, but it is not until Tobias--a King's Army scout who stops at the farm and seduces David--that David knows his friendship with Jonathan should be so much more.

Running Press (April 13, 2009)
ISBN: 0762435739


Hal had been gone a fortnight and David was worried. Of course he had no idea where the man had gone, it could be anywhere in the country, so two weeks, looked at from that perspective, was not that long a time, but still, David fretted. He had made a couple of drinking acquaintances among the other recruits: Robert Godwin, tall and slim, man, a natural pikeman, according to the reluctant praise of their Sergeant, and Allan Blake, who, despite being drunk nearly every hour God gave, somehow managed to fire a musket without blowing himself to kingdom come or getting himself flogged for his inebriation. These two young men had approached David one evening while he was sitting cleaning his musket and asked if he was going to the town. He had thanked them but refused politely, then found himself physically lifted off his bedroll and lugged like a sack of provisions down the stairs, where they dropped him on the cobbles of the yard.

"You can walk from here, Master Gray," said Blake, removing his hat to give a mock bow. "We are not your packhorses, although my learned friend here may resemble one more than most." At that, Godwin head-butted Blake in the stomach, who fell backwards over the still seated David and the men had been friends ever since. David was glad of it; being an only child for years, and then becoming so close to Jonathan, now he sorely missed a friend and companion.

Sixteen days after Hal's disappearance all three of them were outside an inn, shaded by leaves in a tree-lined courtyard.

"Still no word of your dashing corporal, David?" Blake teased, pulling the wench he had in his lap closer to him so he could look down her ample bosom.

David shook his head and tried to look as if it did not bother him; it was vitally important that his proclivities did not become common knowledge, as he knew men had been executed for such "unnaturalness." He made a mental note to try and bring the subject up with Hal--as to how he and Tobias managed it in secret--if he could, without upsetting his friend over the memory of the dead trooper. The sorrow of Hal's losing Tobias weighed almost as heavy on David's heart as his own loss of Jonathan. At least after the war he could, if he wanted to, swallow his pride and go home, hope his father had forgiven him, and go on his knees to Jonathan and beg for forgiveness. Hal's love was gone forever.

David's unusual moroseness caused Blake to tear his montero from his head and throw it at David. "Cheer up, for God's sake, David. Anne my dear," he waved airily at a buxom blonde watching them. "Please do me the great favor of attempting to make my poor friend smile. You would think by the way he misses our handsome corporal, that he had no other friends, which offends us." David looked up at the approaching strumpet and laughed out loud as she stalked down on him, her hips swinging, calling out to the other women about her challenge.

There were a few ribald comments and one wag from Pennyman's regiment shouted, "Ye won't be allowed as far as his lap me girl, you've not got the right artillery!"

David found himself blushing and in a desperate attempt to take the suddenly riotous attention away from himself, he pulled the girl into his lap and with an elegant wave to Pennyman's men and a dazzling smile, he kissed her hard.

There was an enormous cheer from the entire inn, everyone laughed and to David's enormous thankfulness they continued with their own affairs. He let the girl sit up straight and muttered his thanks.

"S'all right love," she said quietly in his ear, making it look for all the soldier's benefits that she was whispering lewd suggestions, "We all know that you be under young Haldane's protection. Pretend to say something to me, and then follow my lead." He did as she said, putting his mouth to her ear and she roared in laughter for all to hear.

"Why, you young scamp!" she shouted as she got off his lap in mock affront. "I don't do that for less than a Colonel! Come back when you've been promoted!" This caused another general laugh, but afterwards David was left in peace to drink and sing with the rest. As they swayed and sang their way back to the barracks, Godwin linked his arm through David's as they watched Blake skipping on ahead doing a passable impression of a jackass.

"Did you hear the rumors about the regiment?" Godwin said quietly and more soberly than he appeared to be.

David looked glanced at his friend's pale thin face in inquiry. "Rumors? No. I've hardly been off the training ground these last few days." The Sergeant had had him working with his musket for hours after the other men had been dismissed.

"I've heard we will be moving, and pretty soon, too."

David felt the color drain from his face. "Do you know where?"

Godwin shook his head. "Not really. Could be west, could be north. Things are muddled; where we are needed I suppose. Doesn't really matter though, does it? Action! At last! This is the year that Essex gets what he deserves!" And with a laugh, Godwin pulled a thoughtful David into their barrack.

David walked down to the end where his place was and his heart leapt to find Hal sitting on his bedroll. Hal jumped up and grabbed David by the arms.

"David! God, I've missed you." His handsome face was pale but wreathed in a smile. "I surmised you would be out drinking, you rascal. I have been waiting for hours. I was not going to scour Oxford searching the taverns for you." He ruffled David's still ragged hair. "Come out, walk with me for a while." He ignored David's concerns about curfews and Sergeants as he led the way out and down the stairs into the moonlit courtyard. As Hal went to step out into the quadrangle which was almost as bright as day, David caught him by the arm, still worried about being caught.

Hal winced and David was immediately solicitous. "Hal? You're hurt!" He sat him down on the grass and peeled off his jacket. Hal's shirt was badly bloodstained and cut off at the shoulder; his upper arm was bandaged. Hal smiled ruefully at David's concerned face.

"Looks far worse than it is, believe me. The man who fired at me was not trained by a Sergeant Winter, or I would be dead. I didn't even see him--the horse did, shied and between the shooter's stupidity and my horse's brains, together they probably saved my life." He pulled his jacket back around his shoulders. "Don't look so tragic. I'll live. The shot grazed my arm nothing more, and I've had worse. Master Thornell has patched me up." He reached over, took off David's hat and tipped his chin up so he could see his face. David's heart contracted at the story and he felt his eyes fill with unbidden tears.

Hal was smiling, but his brow was furrowed with concern. "Crying? Nay, not over me?"

"Not really," whispered David quietly, "but so much loss. I can't explain, I'm sorry." He stood up, embarrassed by his lack of control partly due to the ale and partly in concern for Hal's welfare.

Hal caught up with him at the quadrangle door and pulled him round. "Are you ever going to tell me what makes your face twist in agony when you think I do not see? Am I not enough of a friend that you can share your sorrow as well as your drink? If not, then tell me and we will be no more to each other than your new drinking companions, but tell me one way or the other for I deserve at least that courtesy. Don't let me hope..." His voice faltered.

David leant against the warm shadowed wall and slid down it into a crouching position. He kept his face turned from Hal and said "Don't, Hal, I can't bear for you to berate me. I left behind...someone. At home. Someone I loved."

"A lass?"

David gave a snarl, startling Hal with his sudden unexpected anger. "Don't play games with me Hal! You know what happened 'twixt me and Tobias. You helped arrange it. I was younger then, but not addled. You met him."

"Your brother?" Hal seemed to struggle to remember that day.

"No, not my sibling, but my blood brother, my friend, my conscience, my soul. Everything that was good about me, I left behind. With him."

Hal's voice was strangely quiet. "But you left him. Why?"

"We quarreled. Don't ask me any more for pity's sake." David's voice broke. "Don't you see, Hal? That's what destroys me. We quarreled. I was stupid, but I had no choice. I left him, the best person I have ever known. But he goes on, he lives. I could go back, he might even forgive me. But you... you. You lost your love, and you can never go back. I blame myself for both of us." His voice came in huge sobs for his own sorrow as much as Hal's; allowing all the loss of the last year, right from Edgehill to this moment, to wash over him. "Perhaps if Tobias and I, had not...he would be...would be..."

Hal moved swiftly to David, knelt in front of the youth and pulled him forward onto his knees and into his arms. "Don't ever say that. Do you hear me? Not ever! It is not your fault. Tobias and I… I do not expect you to understand our friendship, but we had known each other for many, many years. I knew him so well that I knew that I was not enough for him, he needed more than I could give him and I loved him enough to let him go because he always came back to me."

"But not..."

"No. Not after Edgehill." The bitterness and sadness in Hal's words tore through David. "Somehow I knew he wouldn't. After he came back from you that night he was so quiet, somehow I knew, and I think he did too." He kissed David's hair softly. "It's not your fault, David, I promise. It's just war." Hal pulled David into an alcove between the buildings and bent towards David, grazed his face, with the softest of kisses, drew the tears from his eyes, and followed the trail of salt to his mouth.

David returned the kiss, as gently as it was given. Hal's tongue was tender, almost hesitant as he explored David's mouth, their lips barely connecting. Hal brought long fingers up to David's face and outlined the shape of his lips, as if attempting to memorize their shape and feel. As the kiss broke, David whispered, "He said as much to me. He knew he was not coming back. And then he never did..."

"Can we not comfort each other then, you and I?" Hal whispered into David's ear, his arms slipping around his waist. "Is your loss too recent? For mine is not...I have been lonely for too long a time."

David tipped his head back, opened his eyes. His gaze met Hal's, and he saw something he recognized. They were both lonely, but wanting. He gave the smallest of smiles, then leant forward and kissed Hal deeply, his hands fisted in the thick hair, as his hesitation vanished and his teeth clashed with Hal's in his haste. Finally, when David was quite breathless. Hal stopped, and without a sound led David by the hand and out of the courtyard.
To purchase click here

Monday, March 23, 2009

If I Were a Lady excerpt by Bryl R. Tyne

Fifth grade English teacher, Kendra Wright, doesn’t believe in instant love. In fact, at twenty-nine, she’s all but given up hope of ever finding love, period. That is, until she meets the new principal, Valerian Riche.

He may be stunning, gentlemanly and honorable, but falling for the man is the last thing on Kendra's agenda. But when Val makes the first move, Kendra’s life as the youngest spinster to ever grace the pages of history is turned upside down. She’s longed to be treated like the lady she knows she is, but technically, is not. But if the truth comes out, it will destroy her career and end the wildest romantic ride she’s ever known.

Kendra must end the relationship before she’s in too deep. Before the truth is revealed. But, how does a lady say no to the charm-charged wiles of a man as determined, and eager, as Val Riche? While she anticipates the horror of breaking the news, he persists on making her decision as difficult as possible. Maybe Val should’ve checked Kendra’s package before he unchecked his heart.

If I Were a Lady...
Noble Romance Publishing (March 16, 2009)
ISBN 978-1-60592-025-2

Excerpt: (scene from a theme park sky car ride)

I felt Val next to me as I gawked at the menagerie fifty-feet below us. “They’re everywhere.”

“You’re funny,” he said, pecking me on the cheek. “You’ve never seen animals before, either?”

“Oh, please.” I flashed him a sideways snarl. “Yes, in zoos. Not like out in the wild or something . . . . Look!” I poked the glass. He bumped my shoulder out of his way to see the pair of giraffes. Fighting or flirting, I wasn’t sure. When he started laughing, I shoved him toward the other end of the car. “What’s so funny, jackass?”

On the car’s floor, he lay where he landed, laughing with gusto and clutching his stomach.

“Whatever.” I returned to animal-watching. He’d lost his damned mind. Less than a minute later, Val had me pinned to the back of the seat by my shoulders. No laugh, not even a smirk, the second time I’d witnessed such seriousness in his eyes.

Prying my legs apart, he lowered himself to his knees between them. “Kendra.” I averted my gaze and looked out the window. He brought my attention back to him with a soft touch to my face, but I lowered my head just as quickly. “Please look at me.”

Those tears aren’t real. I tried convincing myself, shutting my eyes, only to open them wide as his lips flitted over mine. “Kendra.”

“What? And why are we whispering?”

Silence. So silent, I swore I could hear the bead of sweat I watched descend the inside bridge of his nose. His tongue glided over his top lip then his bottom. Why am I shaking?

I wasn’t shaking. “Val? What’s wrong?” I brushed a droplet from his cheek.

“Kendra, I . . . I-think-I-love-you.”

Why had I been so worried about this moment? All the anxiety and the fear were for nothing. I answered him with ease. “You can’t, Val.” With the same sense of calm, I replied to his questioning eyes. “We’ve been around each other less than a week. You can’t love me. You don’t know me. Not at all.”

“Don’t tell me I don’t know what I want, Kendra.” He leaned forward and kissed me.

Inhibitions forgotten with the intensity of his touch, I forged ahead. My tongue met his and I lured him inside. He wants me. I sucked on his bottom lip. He sucked on mine. God, I want him to suck—

“I want to make love to you,” he said.

Okay, inhibitions almost forgotten . . . . Fear seized my gut, doubts taunted me, but I forced them away. I couldn’t remember ever wanting anyone as badly as I wanted Val Riche. I wanted him inside me, deep inside, fulfilling my desires, filling me.

If he gave me a minute, I’d figure out how to make it happen, too...
To purchase, click here

Monday, March 16, 2009

Deadly Wrong excerpt by Victor J Banis

In this excerpt from Deadly Wrong by Victor J Banis, Stanley has come to the town of Bear Mountain at the request of an old friend, who believes her brother is innocent of the manslaughter charge that has been brought against him. The authorities believe the death of Donnie McIntosh, the town queer, was an accident, plain and simple; but Stanley has begun to think that it was murder.

Deadly Wrong
MLR Press (February 1, 2009)


Libby's gallery was closed, though he saw lights in the rear and in the apartment above, indicating she was there. He paused on the sidewalk outside. She'd said she had some work to do, hadn't she? He knew that, by all rights, he should ring the bell by the door, tell her that he had changed his mind, that he wasn't the man for this job.

It was true, he had solved one murder in San Francisco, but with sheer luck and Tom Danzel's help. He wasn't an idiot. He knew perfectly well that he wasn't a real homicide detective. He had neither the temperament nor the equipment, mental, emotional or physical. He owed it to Libby to tell her that, now, before wasting anymore of her time or her hopes.

And yet, he couldn't stop thinking of the boy who had died, despised and ridiculed by the very men who used him for their selfish pleasure and their convenience, cared for by no one but the young man accused of killing him, who probably loved his friend more than either of them had ever grasped.

Little Donnie McIntosh hadn't just been murdered, either. He had been robbed—of his innocence, of his dignity, of any chance of happiness. Now the authorities wanted to rob him even of justice.

How could he walk away from that? Because if he did, no one was going to step up to the plate in his wake? Not just one life lost then, but two—because almost certainly, Carl Hunter would never recover from the damage of being convicted of Donnie's death, of having killed his friend.

He walked on, torn. At the far end of the street, before it turned and became highway again, he found a little church. Not a mission, he knew that the Camino Real hadn't extended in this direction, up into the mountains, but an old church, nonetheless, and interesting looking.

In San Francisco, the roughly carved wooden doors would have been locked for security purposes, but when he tried them, these opened with only a faint squeak of protest. He went in. The interior was small and Spartan, it's plain walls freshly whitewashed. Stained glass windows splashed Technicolor puddles across the floor—amber, vermilion, green. The scent of old candles, of incense, hung about the wood and plaster saints that lurked in little niches in the squat columns.

A feeling of nostalgia descended upon him. At one time he'd attended a church much like this one, and he felt a momentary sense of peace in the silence that hovered as palpably as the potpourri of familiar scents. He paused to look around. Along the wall to the right, candles flickered before an altar to the virgin, and opposite it, a statue of Saint Anthony, with candles of his own, fewer than the virgin's, but still plentiful. A lot of prayers answered, presumably.

Rejoice with me, for I have found that which was lost.

But when he remembered those familiar words, he unexpectedly found himself thinking of what Carl had said about Donnie's abusers: "Even a priest…" The memory brought him up short.

Had Donnie McIntosh come here, seeking solace, to kneel before the Saint of lost causes? Had he found peace here, however fleetingly? Had his prayers been answered, or had he only found himself delivered over to yet another tormentor? Wherever God erects a house of prayer, the Devil always builds a chapel there.

A carpet of vivid red ran down the center aisle, making him think of a dying boy's blood pouring into the sand. He followed the crimson path down to the low rail, carved of pine—probably locally, he thought. Behind a simple altar, a painting of the ascension served as reredos, brave in its heady use of bright colors to achieve a beatific, if not an altogether artistic, effect.

Stanley had heard no one come in or disturb the quiet, but someone cleared his throat behind him and he turned to find a priest watching him from a distance—a small man, remarkably young for his snow white hair, with wide set eyes and a thick lips that gave him a sensual appearance when he smiled.

"Did you wish to make a confession?" His voice had a thick accent. Mexican, Stanley thought, or Spanish.

"Thank you, no." Stanley smiled apologetically. "I'm afraid I'm just an intruding tourist."

"There are no intruders here," the priest said, making a sweeping gesture with one hand. "You're a visitor to Bear Mountain? Perhaps I could give you a tour of our humble church. You were admiring our Saint Anthony. It's quite a lovely one, is it not? It was, how does one say, un don en Dios. Through the auspices, as it were, of a generous worshipper."

Stanley listened politely, his smile fixed, but it was Carl's words, not the priest's, that rang in his ears. Even a priest… Of course, that might have been an exaggeration, Donnie's or Carl's. Or, even if true, there was no reason to suspect it was this particular priest. One read of all those abuses, scandals—but that was surely still only a small number of wayward priests when one considered the overall number.

Still, the sense of peace that he had felt when he first came in had abandoned him and he found that his earlier disquiet had returned in full force.

"Perhaps some other time," he said, starting back up the center aisle. Midway, though, he paused and looked back. "Father, to be frank, I've come to Bear Mountain to look into the death of a young man. Donnie—Donald McIntosh. Did you know him?"

"I knew of him." The smile vanished. A veil seemed to have fallen over the priest's face—or perhaps that was only a trick of the dim light and the flickering candles. And Stanley's imagination.

"Did he come here, to Saint…?" Stanley realized he didn't even know the name of the church.

"To Saint Boromeo's? Perhaps. I can't really say."

"But you never saw him yourself? Never took his confession?"

"No. I never took his confession. Everyone is welcome here regardless, of course. We are here to offer comfort to the weary, and solace to those who are troubled."

Stanley could not help thinking of one who had assuredly been troubled, and who presumably had found no solace here.

"Good night, Father," he said, and turning his back on the motionless priest, followed the red carpet to the vestibule. The wooden doors complained again faintly as he went out.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Butcher's Son excerpt by Dorien Grey

Dick Hardesty is pressed into service when someone starts burning down gay bars all over town and the police chief (nicknamed "the butcher") shrugs the whole thing off. Then drag queens and female impersonators get into the act and Dick is required to sleuth out who is hot and who is not. From the first of the Dick Hardesty series.

An additional excerpt posted 1/16/08.

The Butcher's Son
GLB Publishers (May, 2001)
ISBN: 1-879194-86-4


It had turned rather cool by the time we reached the street. We made a circle around to the car to drop off the plastic grapes Chris had made me steal from the bar we'd just left, and then turned toward the Dog Collar. I didn't much care for the place. It was a big, cavernous dump that boasted 4 pool tables and a downstairs "dungeon" for those into group sex. Like a lot of older buildings, it had very high ceilings, which the management had recently tried to make appear lower by stretching some sort of black mesh fabric from wall to wall.

The clientele, as the bar's name might indicate, was supposedly ultra-butch. I've got nothing at all against being butch, mind you—if it's authentic. But the Dog Collar crowd was plastic grapes butch. Still, it always drew a good crowd, and was obviously packed tonight.

We were about two doors from the entrance, when we heard a muffled "Whoomp" which sounded like it came from the alley behind the bar, and a moment or two later, the double front doors burst opened and a tidal wave of men washed out into the street, running. Shouts of…"Fire!" could be heard from inside and from those in the river of men gushing through the door. Chris and I stood frozen in mid step, then moved away from the buildings with the crowd and into the street. A wide, flat ribbon of smoke unfurled slowly out the top of the door, over the heads of those scrambling to get out.

No dictionary could ever have described the word "chaos" more vividly. Men were running, pushing, tripping over one another as they emerged, turning around to shout for friends still inside. Two or three guys fought against the tide, trying to go back in, but they couldn't buck the crowd coming out, and the smoke was getting heavy now.

The single fact of that outward-opening, double-door entrance was all that prevented a human logjam forming there, and blessedly anyone who made it as far as the door was able to escape.

In the far distance, the sound of sirens could be heard. The street was a milling mass of men; leathermen, pseudo leathermen, male strippers in g-strings and loincloths, college types, hunks, average Joes, older, younger; a cross section of the male gay community. Ironically, music still blared from inside the bar.

Small clusters of guys gathered together, some holding each other, some holding others back. Others pushed their way back and forth through the crowd, trying to locate friends. There were obviously many people hurt—most were coughing uncontrollably as they ran out, and others collapsed just outside the door and were dragged away from the entrance and carried across the street to be laid out on the sidewalk, where others huddled over them, doing what they could to help. Some just stood staring wide-eyed at the door as a few snake-tongues of orange fire began to lick out over the top of the doorway, as if tasting the air. The cacophony of sounds, however, could not hide what were too obviously screams from inside. The music had stopped.

Chris and I were totally walled in by the crowd, many still coughing and smelling of smoke, on one side of the semi-circle of onlookers. We weren't close enough to the front to be able to do anything, and we were sick with the feeling of helplessness. Still they kept coming out—guys at the front of the crowd, which was being driven back by the increasing heat and billowing smoke, would rush forward to grab anyone who made it through the doors and lead them to safety, or run interference to prevent others from trying to reenter the building to save friends or lovers..

We stood there, pressed against those crowded around us, and looked around to see if there were anyone we knew. Chris stood on tip-toe, trying to see over the heads of those directly around us. Fewer were coming out, now. One guy—probably one of the strippers—stumbled through the doorway, totally naked, obviously badly burned, his hair smoldering. He appeared slowly, back-lit by an angry pulsating orange, and leaned against the door frame as though it were a part of his number. Then he pushed himself forward, made it just outside the door, and toppled like a fallen tree onto the sidewalk before those dashing in to help him could reach him. They picked him up and carried across the street, the crowd parting to allow them through. And an instant later, a form appeared, from the other side of the doorway, crawling on all fours, his shirt on fire. He was grabbed and pulled forward by several guys who slapped at his shirt with their hands to put out the fire. They got him to his feet, but he looked frantically around at the crowd, then broke away and ran back toward the door, from which no one else was emerging. Two of those who'd helped him ran after him and grabbed him just before he reached the door, which was by this time engulfed in flame. They dragged him backward as he fought to break free, straining forward and yelling something we could not make out over the incredible din. There were no more screams coming from inside the bar; just the triumphant roar of the flames.

The first squad car came racing down the street, siren wailing, lights flashing, horn blasting, followed by no fewer than three fire trucks, with the lights of others closing in from both directions. The crowd scattered before them.

And over all the sirens, and the yells, and the dull thrum of the fire, which was now pouring out of the door and had broken through the roof, I heard a voice:
"Dick! Dick!" I looked around and Chris pointed to the guy whose shirt had been on fire, still being held by his rescuers. It was our neighbor, Bob Allen.

Ambulances were beginning to arrive as the firemen rolled out their hoses and the police…several squads of them by this time, began moving the crowd back to allow the arriving ambulances to get through.

We shouldered our way through the mass of guys to Bob. He had blood running down his left temple from a gash somewhere just above the hairline. But his face! I hope I never see another expression on anyone's face like I saw on Bob's. The two guys holding him, seeing that we knew him, reluctantly released him. He grabbed us both, one with each hand, and his knees started to buckle. We grabbed him and held him up between us.

He tightened his grip on our arms. "You've got to help me go back in!" he pleaded, and suddenly my head jerked up to meet Chris's eyes, which mirrored my own shock in realizing why.

"Ramón!" Bob said, pointing to the inferno. "Ramón's still in there!"

Monday, March 2, 2009

IM excerpt by Rick R Reed

To celebrate the e-book edition release of IM from MLR Press, I’d like to share with you a particularly chilling excerpt from the book. IM is about a serial killer preying on gay men online through Internet hook-up sites. I like this excerpt because it shows the cat and mouse game played throughout the book by victim and killer and this excerpt does it especially intriguingly.

MLR Press (May 10, 2007; February 14,2009)

Chapter Ten

IT HAD been so long. So long since he had felt the embraces of a man, so long since he had “punished” one. All the emotions of caring, affection, lust, and rage wrapped into one twisted bundle.

Timothy Bright sat on his bed. Behind him, the bedclothes were a mass of rumpled sheets and blankets, the striped mattress peeking out at the bottom. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a night of untroubled sleep, one not tormented by nightmares, one in which he had not awakened, the darkness closing in, his heart running the last leg of a marathon, panting, his mouth dry and the bedclothes a sweaty mess.

Beside him was his small computer desk, topped with his iMac. All the men he had chatted with, even the ones leaving explicit e-mails about what they wanted to do and what they wanted done to them, were desperate: pathetic figures all reaching out.

Reaching out, in his case, for a hand that would bite, rather than feed. What they deserved.

Timothy rose and glanced at the clock. 4 a.m. Didn’t these guys ever take time to sleep or was their sleep as troubled as his?

The last one he had chatted with, the one with whom he was about to “hook up” had looked extremely handsome online: crisp pictures of big muscles, big dick, everything about him young and hungry. All of them probably several years old, his online description exaggerated. All of it, in fact, lies. None of the guys with 44 inch chests, 30 inch waists and 9 inch dicks were what they said.

No matter. He was not what he had told the guy, either. It was amazing how many of these guys just believed the descriptions he dreamed up, without having any photographic evidence for back up. The funny thing was, once he arrived, once he was there on the threshold of their doors, it no longer mattered. He was there and he was male.

That was what mattered.

Timothy rooted through his drawers, looking for his slut clothes. He dressed quickly, pulling on the black jock strap, fraying where the straps met the pouch, ripped and faded Levis, the Bulls T-shirt with the sleeves cut off, the leather biker jacket and engineer boots.

The last thing he did was tuck the knife, recently purchased in the sporting goods department of K-Mart, into his jacket pocket. Having it there, he felt secure, recalling how sharp the blade was, how its pointed tip promised certain death. Power.

The knife was perfect for gutting animals.


Mark Deitrich hoped the guy didn’t show up. He had been disillusioned so many times in the past with guys whose pics were, well, overly flattering. And the one on the way didn’t even have a pic.

But that was okay. Mark was suddenly very tired of all the online games and even the games played in the bars, superficial and never what he really wanted. Besides, a sense of weariness washed over him, filling him with a lethargy that bordered on comatose. He wanted nothing more than to just hop into bed, curling up with the latest Stephen King and letting those fantastic nightmares lull him off to sleep. He would awaken the next morning hopeful. Today he would meet someone who was in it for more than just the sex. Today would be the start of a relationship, the first he’d had with a man in his twenty six years.

Mark went into the bedroom and shooed his two cats, Chloe and Purdy off the bed and pulled back the comforter. He kicked off the gray Nike shorts he wore and looked at himself in the mirror over the bed.

Why couldn’t the guys on the line be honest? So many of them, when they did bother to show up, were disappointments, nothing like their pics or profiles. Didn’t they realize they would be found out as liars as soon as their prospective “date” opened his door?

He guessed they were like salesman, hoping against hope that once they got in the door, he could be persuaded.

But they never could persuade Marl. More often than not, he tried to muster up an apologetic expression before saying the line that would send them away. “Sorry. I think I’ll take a pass.”

He would have respected them more, he thought, if they had tried to argue. Even if they had called him a jerk. But they were all wimps and if they didn’t tell him that the situation was “cool,” they would at least walk away, wordless, head hung low in disappointment. Mark knew he was good looking, everything he claimed on the line, and coming so close to finding what he was sure they were seeking, had to be hard. Listen to you! Ever hear of modesty?

But he wasn’t about to sleep with a guy just because he’d bothered to make the trip to his front door. It was his own fault, anyway, for not being honest.


Timothy finally found a parking space on Pine Grove. If he had showed up a few hours later, when the residents of the neighborhood had gone off to work, perhaps parking wouldn’t have been such a challenge. During the twenty minute ride from Rogers Park, he had smoked five Marlboros and drunk two Blue Moons. Before he left, he had done three one hitters. What was wrong with him? He wondered as he bumped first into the car behind him, setting off its alarm and then into the one in front of him, the bumpers sounding a hollow ‘boom’ as the cars made impact. It seemed he needed the drugs and alcohol to do what needed to be done. He wondered if clouding his vision this way would one day cause him to get in trouble.

The pre-dawn air was cold, suffused with the damp of Lake Michigan just a few blocks to his east. A wind blew out of the north, chilling him, cutting through the leather of his jacket. He quickened his pace.


Mark pulled the covers up around him. He was on page 676 of Insomnia and wanted to get through it. Why did King have to write these long tomes that took him weeks to read? He had three other books waiting and it seemed the pages just kept coming, no end in sight. But he was too far along in the book to just put it aside.

The buzzer sounded. “Oh shit,” he whispered, throwing back the covers and setting his book on the nightstand. He was tempted to just let it sound a few times, inducing in him a guilty nervous tension, and not answer it. The guy would go away eventually. Where had his horniness disappeared to?

Still, he couldn’t just leave the guy down there. That was exactly the kind of behavior he abhorred. He slid into his shorts and went to the front hallway, where he pressed the intercom buzzer.

“Who is it?”

“It’s Ray, from the line.”

Mark buzzed him in, wondering if this guy would be the blond muscle boy he promised. Fat chance.

He waited by the front door, thinking the guy would have to be an Adonis for him to do anything with him tonight. There was no anticipation as he imagined the elevator bringing the guy up, only dread. But hey, get through this and you can crawl back into bed and let sleep overtake you. Another night alone, chalk it up.

A tentative knock.

Mark peered through the peephole and saw nothing. This does not bode well, he thought, imagining the guy stepping back, out of view. If he was everything he said he was, he would not hide from my view. He would step proudly up for inspection, if he had any confidence in his looks.

Oh well, I didn’t really want anything tonight anyway.

Mark swung the door open.

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