Monday, April 30, 2012

Boystwon 4: A Time For Secrets excerpt by Marshall Thornton

In the first full-length novel of the Boystown series, Boystown 4: A Time For Secrets by Lamba Award nominee Marshall Thornton, it’s late summer 1982 and private detective Nick Nowak is asked to find a retired gentleman’s long lost lover. Instead, he finds himself embroiled in a decades old murder connected to the man who wants to be Chicago’s next mayor. Meanwhile, an ambitious young reporter develops a friendship with Nick’s lover Bert, making Nick wonder exactly where their relationship may be heading.

Boystown 4: A Time For Secrets
MLR Press (March 2012)
ISBN: 978-1-60820-547-9 (print)
         978-1-60820-548-6 (ebook)


“You owe me five pounds of potatoes,” the man said, and I had no idea what he was talking about. His name was Ronald Meek, and he’d shown up at my office unannounced. He was in his mid-sixties, far too thin, with a hawk’s nose and a few tufts of tea-colored hair.

He arrived while I was in the middle of packing my files into some beat-up cardboard boxes I’d gotten from behind the Jewel. My landlord had finally decided to tear down the south Loop building, where my office had been located for a couple of years, and put up a building twice as big. They sent me a flyer inviting me to rent from them again in fall 1984 when the building would be finished. Of course, I’d have to win the Pick Three or marry some fat old heiress to do it. So I figured chances were slim I’d be back.

I’d rented a new office up on Clark Street a few blocks from my apartment in a neighborhood that was sometimes called Boystown and sometimes called New Town, depending generally on which team you batted for. Of course, I had no idea how I’d get all my crap up there but figured I’d manage. I had three days left before I had to be out, so I kept packing while I talked to Meek.

“Five pounds of potatoes?” I asked.  “Do you want to explain that?”

“You don’t remember me? I’m crushed.” He put on a face that mocked sadness.

I stopped what I was doing and took a closer look at him. The summer sun was bouncing off the building across LaSalle Street, so I got a little more light than usual. Otherwise, I might not have noticed that Meek was wearing makeup, subtly applied and covered with a light dusting of powder. On another man it might have seemed odd, but it went well with Meek’s green velvet blazer and paisley ascot. He sat in my guest chair with his legs crossed and a hand tucked under his chin. He reminded me of an overdressed praying mantis. None of this was familiar, though. I was sure I didn’t know him.

“You’re going to have to give me a clue,” I said, opening the bottom drawer of my desk and finding a two-year-old reverse phone book, back issues of Crain’s Chicago Business, and a company directory for First Chicago, something I was not supposed to have. I put everything into a box.

“I’m your knight in shining armor,” Meek said.

All his coyness began to piss me off. “Look, whatever this is about, just come out and say it.”

He took a deep breath and began. “One night about five years ago, I heard a commotion outside my window. I opened my window and looked down to find some young ruffians attacking a nice gay couple on the sidewalk below. Soooo…I got a bag of potatoes and started dropping them on the goons. A few minutes later they ran away.” He leaned over to make this point, “I saved your ass, Mr. Nowak. Though you hardly seemed grateful.”

Now I remembered him. I didn’t want to, but I did. My ex-lover, Daniel, and I had been coming home drunk from a bar when the kids jumped us. I wasn’t hurt, but Daniel ended up having a couple of surgeries to rebuild his cheekbone after getting hit square in the face by a baseball bat. I imagine all that surgery must have been extremely unpleasant. I wouldn’t know because we broke up that night, and I never got around to asking when our relationship had briefly rekindled the previous winter. By then his face looked good, too good, and we were, well, occupied.

“Other than receiving my undying thanks, is there a reason you stopped by?” I asked, giving up on packing and sitting back in my chair.

“You’re a private investigator?”

“It says so on the door.” Aside from the door with my name on it, my office boasted a desk, some filing cabinets, the guest chair Meek sat in, a half-dozen, half-filled cardboard boxes, and a dead plant I was considering moving to my new office solely for sentimental reasons. None of the stuff was any good; I could probably have just thrown it all away and started over.

“There’s someone I’d like to find. I thought you’d be right for the job.” He shifted in the chair as I waited for him to continue, his bravado fading. “He’s someone I once loved. We had a brief but quite intense affair. I suppose you’d say he’s the one who got away. I’m not getting any younger and I thought, if not now when?”

“What’s his name?”


“Does Vernon have a last name?” I was already afraid of the answer.

“I think it began with an S. Or maybe an M,” he said, naming the two largest sections of the phone book. “The last time I saw Vernon, he was throwing a party in his apartment at the Edgewater Arms. It was April 22, 1959.”

“Twenty-three years ago?”


I sighed. “What was the apartment number?”

He shrugged.

“You know the exact date, but you don’t know Vernon’s last name or his apartment number? That doesn’t make sense.”

“I keep a journal. On April 22, 1959 I wrote ‘went to a divine party at Vernon’s apartment in the Edgewater Arms. The view was amazing. Vernon was delightful. We all drank too much, and Vernon was very witty. We kissed on the roof under the stars.’ Well, we more than kissed, but discretion forbids.”

“Why didn’t you ever see him again?”

He sighed. “I’m not sure someone your age can understand. In the fifties, we were degenerates. Perverts. Sickos. To many of us, the idea of forming a relationship, having a real lover, well it barely entered our minds. We were told we couldn’t have that, that it wasn’t in our nature. We didn’t dare contradict that. Nowadays things are so different. If I were your age and I met Vernon today, well...I would make different choices, let me tell you.” He smiled in what he thought was a demure way. “Can’t you help me, please?”

“Is that all you know about Vernon? He was good kisser who lived at the Edgewater Arms?”

“No, not all. I know lots of things.”


“He’d been in the Navy. He was a Republican. He worked as a hairdresser on Oak Street, and the ladies called him Mr. Vernon. He was quite popular.”

“Have you tried to find him yourself?” I asked.

“Oh, I couldn’t. I’d have no idea where to start.”

“Detective work isn’t rocket science. It’s mostly paperwork.” And the occasional gunfight, I thought but didn’t mention.

“I don’t just want to find him,” he admitted. “I’m hoping you’ll give him a message for me. Tell him that I’d like to see him, that I’d like to talk over old times. If he’s willing.”

“And if he says no?”

“Then that’s all you have to tell me.”

Something was a little off about the whole thing and I had a bad feeling, or maybe the grilled ham and cheese sandwich I’d had for lunch wasn’t sitting well. I couldn’t be sure. Given the few scraps of information he’d provided, I didn’t think I’d be able to do a lot for him. I didn’t want to rip him off. No, it wasn’t the sandwich. My gut said not to take the case. On the other hand, my bank account said I was about to start bouncing checks. I dug around in a cardboard box and found an index card. I slid it across my now empty desk. “Write down the message,” I said. “Write it down exactly as you want me to say it.” While he did that I told him my rates. He swallowed hard when I asked for a two hundred and fifty dollar retainer, but he handed me the message and took a checkbook out of his inside jacket pocket. He wrote me a check.

“I hope you’ll get started as soon as you can,” he said, sliding the check across my desk. I glanced at it; his bank was on the other side of the Loop. As soon as I walked over and cashed the check, I’d get started.

“Sure thing,” I said.

He said his goodbyes and rose to leave. Before he got to the door, I asked, “How did you find me?”

“You’re listed in the phone book.”

“My name is, yes, but I don’t remember introducing myself the night we met.”

“Oh.” He blushed. “There was a police investigation afterward. Don’t you remember?”

“Yeah, I remember.”

“The policeman who came by my apartment asked if I knew you, and not very nicely. I think he was hoping that the three of us knew one another and were somehow trying to con four nice kids from the suburbs.”

That didn’t sound far off. I was a cop then myself. It wasn’t just that cops didn’t like fags. Some cops didn’t like victims much either and seemed to delight in turning things around and making them guilty. If you were a fag and a victim you didn’t stand a chance. It was no surprise the CPD never bothered to find those four nice kids from the suburbs, which at the time didn’t bother me much. There were a couple of days when I even thought the whole thing might blow over and I’d get to hold onto my job. I stonewalled in the two interviews they tried to have with me. But then copies of the police report and Daniel’s statement made the rounds of the department.

“And, of course, I met Daniel,” Meek said.

“You did?”

“I went to see him in the hospital. He’s a nice young man.”

“Yes. He is a very nice young man.”

“He was grateful for my help.”

I nodded.

“Are the two of you still...?” Meek asked with a raised eyebrow.

“No. I’m with someone else now.”

“I guess that’s the way of the world,” he said, and floated out of my office.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Coming To: A Collection of Erotic and Other Epiphanies excerpt by Lukas Hand

What gay man hasn't had that encounter with another man that turned his world upside down? When he was left sweating and out of breath, heart pounding, perspective askew because the sensuality of warm flesh and breath is as intoxicating as any drug? Author Lukas Hand has collected stories of just these brief trysts, the ones we've all had--or wished we'd had--that meet at the crossroads of guilt and passion, repression and ardor. Previous engagements that end in surprising ways, drunken groomsmen at weddings, even a famous reporter named Clark with a penchant for dashing off...these are the assignations Hand offers readers in Coming To. All are memorable. All are arousing

Coming To: A Collection of Erotic and Other Epiphanies

Lethe Press, 2012


Louis and Clark

I still can’t say who rescued whom. Or if either of us was really a hero. What I remember is that he was beautiful in a way that only someone with my desperate sensitivity would immediately recognize. His glasses watered down the cobalt intelligence of his eyes, and his gleaming black hair needed a hand run through it. The preppy suit, though fashionable, was rumpled enough to suggest there were things more important to him than appearances—and to leave one guessing about the wonders that might be waiting beneath the creases.

Sitting alone at one of the seedier bars in town, I was needy enough to notice these things before anyone else, and lucky enough to have beside me the only empty seat in the house. Usually, such an opportunity would’ve paralyzed me, but somehow I recognized the moment as a gift.

“Hi,” I managed after willing him to look at me. When he smiled, I profusely thanked whichever god was on duty that this guy not been smiling when he walked through the door-otherwise he’d never have made it through the crowd. His smile was a phenomenon, like sunrise over a canyon, an invitation so dazzling I didn’t notice the dimples until later. I also didn’t know until later that it meant thanks. If I hadn’t spoken, he would’ve been gone within minutes. Now it seems there was an inevitability about everything. At the time I knew only that he was an alien beauty and that his smile was for me. It was enough to mobilize me into unusual action.

“I don’t think I’ve seen you here before,” I said, cringing as I channeled Pee Wee Herman’s voice over the roar of the crowd and the music.

“I’ve never been here before,” he said in a baritone that was both ordinary and operatic. I could hear him doing something from Puccini or at least Camelot. My stomach cramped when I realized it was my turn to speak.

“Well, you really haven’t been missing very much.”

He smiled again. “That’s not how it looks from where I’m sitting.”

I’ve replayed the footage a hundred thousand times since and not once have I been able to remember anything either of us said after that. It’s possible that we said little else. What I remember is the rapid, impressive rise of flesh beneath the thin fabric of his slacks and his smile reappearing like the sun from behind the clouds when we danced, when I took his hand to leave the dance floor, and again at my door.

It’s possible that it wasn’t so easy. Perhaps the details were whitewashed in a flow of light that flooded most of my hiding places that night. We may have had uncomfortable silences and awkward motions. We may have fumbled with buttons and zippers and worried about who would mention protection. It may not have been the perfection that I will always remember.

Certain details have remained clear. It was not his first time, but it had been a long time. His body had been sculpted with such symmetry it would’ve been otherworldly had it not risen at my touch and covered me. I remember his palm on the small of my back and his breath on my ear. I remember the silk of his hair like a feather floating down from my chest and his warm feet and hunger so tender that I thought I would cry.

I remember him asking at some point in a fevered whisper, “What do you want?” I remember having no words—only a moaning sound I didn’t know I could make, obviously coming from me but with no precedent. I remember being surprised that I had the balls to purposefully position his hands on my ass and to press him into me and to grind my own aching erection so furiously into his that I thought we might literally start a fire, like two pieces of flint going at it in the darkness.

I remember feeling him enter me and thinking that I must be levitating. There was no sensation anywhere other than fire burning from my asshole all the way up and down my body. I surely must have been shooting sparks from my fingertips and toes. God knows it wasn’t my first time. But I remember thinking for the first time that this was what a beginning must feel like—or an ending. Only after all these shifts in the cosmos and the return of something approaching normal breathing did I ask some of the usual questions.

“I’m a newspaper reporter,” he said.

I recognized the paper as a large daily in another city a few hours away. “Are you here working on a story?”

“No,” he said. “I came here to get away for a few days.”

I didn’t ask what he was trying to get away from, partly because I suspected the answer might be important. Also, he had discovered the back of my knees, and he still had an appetite. I had no idea there were so many nerve endings at my joints, knees, elbows, wrists and ankles. It was as though I was learning to straighten and bend for the first time in my life.

By the time he got up to leave the next morning, I had learned that he was apparently accomplished out of bed as well and that he was good at his job. He’d effortlessly managed to obtain my meager life story-my early escape from a humid, Bible belt town, my meandering career path, the random eclecticism of my lovers-all without once seeming nosy. All I knew about him as his astonishing legs filled out his slacks and his shirt assumed heroic proportions was that he’d left a small town in the Midwest in search of a journalism degree and a name for himself and that he treated his work as a calling. And the most important thing: that I would be seeing him again.

I made the first of several offers to drive him to the airport-he said he had flown-but he insisted on calling a cab. He also insisted on calling me rather than giving me his phone number to arrange our next meeting. He said that his job often meant being on call twenty-four hours a day and he could be impossible to reach. I was so captivated by the delayed revelation of his dimples, I barely noticed the sense that there was more to his story.

I heard nothing from him for the next five days, six hours, and forty-two minutes. I cycled at least ten times through childlike anticipation to Bette Davis indifference to suicidal ideation, and when the phone rang at eight p.m. the following Saturday I could only snatch it up to my ear and breathe “Yes” when he asked to come over. He was at my door in eight minutes. We were naked in eight seconds and we came together in rapid succession three times in eighty-eight minutes. Eight was my new favorite number.

“I’m sorry I didn’t call sooner,” he said when I was curled like a kitten in his arms a couple of hours later. The only response I could think of was to pull him even closer.

“I thought of calling every day and picked up the phone several times, but I was afraid if I heard your voice it would be impossible for me not to see you. I didn’t know when I would be able to get away.”

“Because of work?”

“My schedule is inhuman,” he said. “I never know when I’ll be called away on assignment or what sort of crisis I’ll be leaping into next. I can never predict what will happen from one day to another.”

“You sound more like a S.W.A.T. team than a reporter,” I said.

“I have to go where the stories are. Often that means going where people are in trouble,” he said, more to himself than to me. “There are so many people depending on me.”

I made a subconscious decision not to follow up. Of course I knew there was plenty more to learn, but in my experience the news only got worse as it unfolded. I was willing to forego a few facts to preserve a nice fiction.

“I was adopted,” he said in response to a safer question, “by these two wonderful people. I grew up on a farm in a family so close it sounds like a 50’s sitcom when I try to describe it. It was just the best place in the world to be a boy. A place where it was hard to be anything but content.”

“Even when you’re a boy who likes other boys?” I said, having had my rose-colored glasses stomped on a few times in the picturesque, well-mannered South.

“There was only one boy,” he said. “I never gave any of this a thought until then. I guess because everybody knew each other so well. I practically grew up with everyone in my school. A new face was like a meteor crashing in a cornfield. His parents had moved from New Jersey and bought a small farm down the road from ours. We got to be friends.”

“Friends.” I repeated the word out loud trying to hear the real meaning it held in this context. There had to be a better word.

“It sounds like another cliché,” he said. “He was this seventeen-year-old kid from Jersey bringing all that attitude with him to one of the simplest spots in the western hemisphere.”

“He must’ve noticed you right away,” I said.

“He noticed everything. All the time. I really think that’s when I stopped taking things for granted and started asking questions about who I was and what I could do. I learned to be curious from him.

“Of course, it’s outrageous that I wasn’t curious from the start-knowing I was adopted and always feeling so different. But he’s the one who sparked that. He forced me to ask questions. He said to me once, ‘If anybody ever needed to know the truth about himself, it’s you.’”

“Pretty profound for a seventeen-year-old.”

“That was part of the attraction,” he said.

“He seduced you with his wisdom?”

He grinned. “I invited him to stay over one night after a basketball game. I was already in my bed watching him undress, and this switch just got thrown. If I’d stopped to think for even a second I would’ve been too shocked at myself to move. One minute we were both staring up at the ceiling, and the next minute I was all over him.”

“You started it?” I’d assumed that lovers of his caliber were made and not bred.

“I tore his underwear off and started licking him from his ears to his toes. Sounds crazy, but I still remember the taste of the arch of his foot, the musk under his arms, the slight salty tang of his uncut cock and that sweet hole. I wanted to eat him up,” he said. “Like I’d been starving, and he was this heaping plate of my favorite foods. I devoured him out of sheer instinct. I didn’t really know what to do and later on, he showed me how to slow things down. He guided my cock inside him and started to rock back and forth on top of me and I remember being afraid that I might actually buck him up so hard that his head would go through the roof. Sometimes I don’t know my own strength. I would cum inside him over and over and his cum would be sticky and sweet all over my neck and my chest, but there was always this hunger that would swell up one more time, and I’d have to take him again.

“I think I have some idea how he felt,” I said. He was talking to his breakfast.

“I always thought it wasn’t me when it happened, that it was something about him. It was so amazing to me. I wouldn’t be able to think or to speak. I would just try to forget it, and pretend nothing had changed. Go back to being myself.”

“Until you got hungry again.”

“The strangest part was he was never surprised. It was like he was always expecting it. For me it was a shock every time. I never got used to the feeling that I’d forgotten who I was supposed to be.”

“And who was that?” The question slipped out before I could catch it.

“You really don’t know, do you?” He smiled so thankfully I had to kiss him. “That was the problem with him. He seemed to know who I was without ever being told. He seemed to know everything there would be to know about us before any of it even happened. That was part of the reason why I eventually stopped it, but he didn’t seem surprised by that either. He nodded his head like it was exactly what he thought I would do. I hardly ever saw him after that.”

Somewhere in the telling of this tale I’d heard a warning. Something about staying dumb. Ignorance was part of my charm, so I wore it like his class ring, determined as any school girl not to spend too much time studying my new obsession.

A pattern emerged. He would call late Friday evening to say he was coming. He would be at my door in half an hour and in my bed within minutes. Each time he appeared I forgot all my questions, but during the week I would wander through them like a desert. I wondered about his days and his nights and his work and his family. I would wonder who were his friends and how he could afford to fly to me every weekend on a reporter’s salary. I would wonder what was behind his superhero smile and farm boy appetite that made him seem so starved and alone. And I would dream.

I rarely remembered my dreams. My theory was that I daydreamed so much during waking hours that at night I was out of ideas. But I remembered this dream every time, at least once or twice every week, and it was always the same. It would be sometime after midnight. I would be sleeping and suddenly he was there, hovering like the Holy Ghost outside my window, whispering my name.

At first I assumed he was haunting me and that I should ignore it like I did most visions. But he held out his hand and he smiled. It seemed the most natural thing in the world to get out of bed and to move through the open window into his arms.

“Don’t worry, I’ve got you,” he would breathe in my ear, his body a blanket around me. I wouldn’t care that there was nothing under my feet but the wind.

We would begin to rise effortlessly as a prayer, and I would remember sermons from my father’s small town southern pulpit about Jesus rapturing the saints off the doomed Earth into the clouds. The analogy broke down when I became aware that my lord and I both had throbbing erections, but a leap of faith had been made just the same. I had come to believe in a savior.

We continued to rise until we were poised like angels over the Earth, smiling at the moon as if we had formed it ourselves. I would feel his heart pulsing and the thrill of his lips on my neck as we lingered in our private atmosphere high above the planet. Our clothes would fall off of us like dead leaves, drifting back to Earth. We would be naked and gleaming in the moonlight, our mouths locked together, our tongues plunged deep into each other’s throats, our hands holding our bodies tightly together as though the universe depended on it.

Without ever realizing that I’d turned my back to him, his breath would be heavy and moist at my ear and that heroic shaft would be probing the crack of my ass and then entering me somehow softly and aggressively in one superhuman thrust. I would feel him lengthen even further inside me, filling me so unbelievably full that I could feel nothing else but him in me and my own unrecognizably hard cock stretching out toward the Milky Way. Suspended there somewhere between heaven and Earth my new god would not only fuck me, he would make love to me while the stars winked, and I would decide that in fact I had been raptured. He had taken me home. I would never remember our descent.

I kept meaning to tell him about the dream. I had the feeling that it wouldn’t surprise him. After weeks of crumbling resolve, I was preparing to form the sentence when he silenced me with the frighteningly solemn declaration that there was something I needed to know. Before I could protest or plead like a child about to be abandoned, he said it.

“There’s this woman at home.”

It answered one of the questions I was always forgetting to ask. In that context he could’ve as easily said “There’s this inoperable tumor, or there’s this comet on a collision course with Earth.”

“She’s my partner,” he said. “We’ve worked closely at the paper almost since I started there.”

In fact I already knew this. During my weeks in the desert, waiting for him to call, I had gone to the library and started reading the newspaper that stole so much of his time. I would read every story he wrote, and more often than not, he shared a byline. I knew this wasn’t the point.

“We have this complex relationship,” he said. “We depend on each other and trust each other but she’s very competitive. Sometimes it feels like a game. She’s competing with me, and I’m competing with myself-especially when I’m saving her from the trouble she always gets herself into. She doesn’t have a clue who I am even though she thinks she has me all figured out. It gets exhausting sometimes, even for me, but for some reason I think it’s still worth the effort. I can never seem to walk away for long.”

He’d said so much more than I wanted to hear. But even though the news was as bleak as I’d expected, the appropriate emotions refused to be summoned. He looked too much like an orphan for me to be jealous or panicked. No use blaming nature for a natural disaster, I told myself with pre-hysteric calm, especially when there’d been warnings.

So I made myself into a cradle, ignoring my other options. When the time came for him to leave, he would be carrying the weight of some other world on his shoulders. I pointed out to myself that I was perhaps the one person who knew that he felt the strain and who could be generous. At least for a while, I had something he desperately needed. It was easy to trade all my hopes for that kind of a chance to play hero-and for a shot at a few more unscheduled flights.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Zero Break: A Mahu Investigation Excerpt by Neil Plakcy

In Zero Break, the latest Mahu investigagion by Neil Plakcy, zero break refers to the deep-water location where waves first begin, often far offshore. For Honolulu homicide detective and surfer Kimo Kanapa'aka, it means his most dangerous case yet.

A young mother is murdered in what appears to be a home invasion robbery, leaving behind a complex skein of family and business relationships, and Kimo and his detective partner Ray Donne must navigate deadly waters to uncover the true motive behind her death and bring her killer to justice.

Kimo is also in trouble at home, as he and fire investigator Mike Riccardi consider fathering children themselves.

Zero Break: A Mahu Investigation
MLR Press (March, 2012)
ISBN: 978-1-60820-591-2 (print)
978-1-60820-592-9 (ebook)


Chapter 1: Little Caesar’s Discovery

“Kanapa’aka, you and Donne are up,” Lieutenant Sampson said, walking up to my desk in the Criminal Investigation division on the second floor of police headquarters in downtown Honolulu. He handed me a piece of paper with an address on Lopez Lane, in the shadow of the H1 Freeway. “Home invasion robbery-homicide.”

His polo shirt that morning was a shade of emerald green that reminded me of The Wizard of Oz. Yeah, I’m a friend of Dorothy, and proud of it, though it hasn’t always been easy being the only openly gay detective in the Honolulu Police Department.

I took the paper from him and pushed my chair back. “Your turn to drive,” I said to Ray Donne, my partner.

A blast of hot air assaulted us as we walked from the air-conditioned building into the garage. “Jesus, it’s only ten o’clock,” Ray said. “And it’s March, for Christ’s sake. Back in Philly I’d still be freezing my nuts off.”

Ray was an island transplant, and even though he’d been in Hawai’i for nearly three years, he still had some of the wide-eyed innocence of your average tourist. “You and Mike do anything fun this weekend?” he asked, as we got into his Toyota Highlander SUV.

I loved the way Ray was so accepting of my relationship with Mike Riccardi. Around some cops I had to be careful not to say anything that could be construed as too gay—like mentioning my partner by name.

“We went out on my friend Levi’s boat,” I said. “He wanted to show off his latest investment, generating energy from wave power.”

“That’s pretty controversial, isn’t it?” Ray asked, swinging out of the garage and onto South Beretania Street, narrowly avoiding a collision with a clueless tourist in a rented convertible. “Especially for surfers, right?”

“Yeah.” I’d been surfing since I was old enough to stand on a board, and I had a proprietary interest in the ocean and its ability to generate killer waves. “He makes a good argument—the waves are a regular source of power, and it can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. I’m not convinced, but hey, he’s dating one of my best friends.” I stretched my legs and said, “How about you and Julie. You do anything?”

“Trying to make a baby. What can I say? It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.”

Ray and Julie wanted to have kids. She had finished her MA in Pacific Island Studies the year before, and was slogging through the last courses for her PhD in geography, focused on the islands of the Pacific. They were hoping to start a family when she was working on her dissertation.

I laughed and said, “Better you than me, brah,” and we joked around until we pulled up in front of a small bungalow with attached carport, painted a bright yellow, with red trim around the windows and doors. The house stood out in a row of drab single-story homes with peeling paint and overgrown postage-stamp sized yards.

I knew the neighborhood from my years driving a squad car. It was a mix of retired servicemen who had landed in the islands after Vietnam, recent immigrants from Asia living in multi-generational family groups, and long-time islanders in service jobs, often working two shifts just to make ends meet.

The responding patrol officer was Lidia Portuondo, a beat cop I’ve known for years. She was standing outside the house in the bright sunshine, next to her patrol car. A light breeze whipped the hem of the flowered muumuu worn by the heavyset haole, or white, woman she was talking to. The woman’s miniature pinscher, on a red leash, yipped and jumped around in a frenzy as we got out of the SUV.

“This is Mrs. Robinson,” Lidia said.

I smiled and Ray started whistling the Simon and Garfunkel song. Lidia gave the woman our names, then stepped back.

I knelt down to pet the min pin. “And who’s this?” I asked. He skittered back from me, sniffing nervously.

“This is Little Caesar,” Mrs. Robinson said proudly.

“Like the pizza,” Ray remarked.

She glared at him. “Like the emperor.”

I motioned us all over to the shade of a big kiawe tree. “Were you the one who called the police?” I asked.

“I certainly did. I went out to get the paper this morning, and Little Caesar slipped between my feet. He knew something was wrong. He went right across the street and into the back yard.”

I could see a hint of a smile playing on Lidia’s face. She’s a pretty haole woman in her early thirties, with dark hair pulled into a French twist. Her family went back to the original Portuguese immigrants from the island of Madeira, and when I looked at her I could see the no-nonsense attitude her ancestors must have had to survive in the fields.

“I ran after him,” Mrs. Robinson said. “I don’t like him to be out without a leash. You should see the way people drive around here.”

I suppressed a chuckle at the picture of the tiny black dog with pointy ears racing across the street, the big woman in the flowered muumuu in hot pursuit.

“When I got to the back yard, I saw the sliding glass door to the lanai had been smashed. I grabbed Little Caesar and came right back here and called the police.”

She shook her head. “This neighborhood is falling apart, between all the immigrants and the teenagers who run around in packs, their pants falling down. The police don't do anything to protect us. I don’t know what I’d do without Little Caesar.”

Lidia picked up the narrative. “I responded about half an hour ago. I rang the front bell of the home across the street and got no answer, so I walked around to the rear of the residence, where I observed the broken door Mrs. Robinson reported.”

Ray was taking notes. “And then?”

“I looked in the door and saw a Caucasian woman in her early thirties lying on the living room floor. I entered the residence and established that she was no longer breathing and that there was no one else inside.”

Mrs. Robinson gasped and tightened her hold on Little Caesar’s leash. “This neighborhood just isn’t safe anymore,” she said. “My son wants me to move out to Mililani where he lives.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Robinson,” I said. “I’m sure we’ll have some questions for you in a little while. Can we find you across the street?”

She nodded, and tugged the dog’s leash. “Mommy has a treat for Little Caesar, back at the house.” The dog recognized the word ‘treat,’ and started jumping up and down again as she led him back to her house.

I turned to Lidia. “Lead the way.”

We checked the front door and found it locked. The two living room windows were locked, too, and an air conditioner blocked the only other window on the street. Ray and Lidia went left, while I went right. When we met up in the back yard we compared notes. No signs of forced entry on either side.

A hibiscus hedge with yellow blossoms that matched the paint job marked the boundaries of the back yard, separating it from its neighbors, but there was no fence to keep out predators.

Lidia pointed at the smashed door and then stepped back. A metal lawn chair lay sideways on the small paved lanai next to the door; it looked like that was what had been used to break in. We stepped up and peered into the living room.

As Lidia had described, the body of a slim woman in her early thirties lay on the floor, curled into the fetal position, facing the windows. Her shoulder-length dark hair swirled on the carpet next to her, a single strand falling across her forehead. She wore an oversized UH Warriors T-shirt in dark green. It looked like she’d been stabbed, multiple times. Her blood had soaked into the faded beige carpet and dried the shirt to her skin in places.

The air inside felt almost as hot as it was outside as Ray and I stepped gingerly through the broken door. I’m no pathologist, but I’ve seen enough bodies to know that she had been dead for at least a couple of hours. The blood had settled toward the side of her body on the floor, and her skin was as pale as a TV vampire’s. I phoned the ME’s office while Ray called for a crime scene tech. Then we both put on rubber gloves to avoid contaminating the scene with our own prints.

Lidia stayed out front by her cruiser as we evaluated the house. The first thing we did was begin taking pictures, before we touched or moved anything, beginning with exterior shots of the lawn chair and the broken door.

The living room décor was a real contrast to the gruesomeness of the dead body on the floor. Kids’ toys were scattered over the sofa and coffee table, and framed photos of two women and two small girls hung on the walls. One was the haole on the floor, though her brown hair was longer in the pictures and she had more of a tan. The other woman was somewhat slighter, most likely Chinese, with dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. The girls looked like they were a mix of both races.

In one of the photos, the haole woman was perched on a surfboard at Makapu’u Point, the lighthouse in the background of the shot. The picture had been taken with a telephoto lens, and the woman smiled exuberantly. Her evident happiness reminded me of how I felt when I was out on the water.

Somehow that made it worse, knowing that a fellow surfer had died.

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Monday, April 9, 2012

The Blue Moon Cafe excerpt by Rick R Reed

In Rick R Reed’s Blue Moon Café, someone--or something--is killing Seattle's gay men. A creature moves through the darkest night, lit only by the full moon, taking them, one by one, from the rain city's gay gathering areas.

Someone--or something--is falling in love with Thad Matthews. Against a backdrop of horror and fear, young Thad finds his first true love in the most unlikely of places--a new Italian restaurant called The Blue Moon Cafe. Sam is everything Thad has ever dreamed of in a man: compassionate, giving, handsome, and with brown eyes Thad feels he could sink into. And Sam can cook! But as the pair's love begins to grow, so do the questions and uncertainties, the main one being, why do Sam's unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?

Prepare yourself for a unique blend of dark suspense and erotic romance with The Blue Moon Cafe, written by the author Unzipped magazine called, 'the Stephen King of gay horror.' You're guaranteed an unforgettable reading experience, one that skillfully blends the hottest romance with the most chilling terror... The 2011 EPIC eBook Award Winner for Best horror Erotic Romance, The Blue Moon Cafe might be the only book in history that features a homophobic werewolf preying on gay men. It’s a solid blend of horror and romance.

The Blue Moon Café
Publisher: Amber Allure (GLBT imprint of Amber Quill Press)(March 7, 2010)
ISBN: 978-1-60272-656-7 (Electronic)
ISBN: 978-1-60272-802-8 (Paperback)


In his imagination, Thad pictured the two of them coming in his front door and Sam throwing him roughly up against the door, covering his face and neck with kisses while his hands roamed, tweaking a nipple there, fondling his balls here. In the pregnant darkness, the man would work Thad into a frenzy of carnal desire so great he didn’t know if they would make it to the bedroom or if they would consummate their passion right on the living room floor. He saw their muscles, slicked with sweat, working in unison like a machine to bring each other to dizzying heights of pleasure.

He hadn’t pictured Edith greeting them at the door and the poor little Chihuahua manically jumping up and down on him, whining to be taken outside—immediately. So, with reluctance, Thad flipped on the overhead light so he could find her leash. He looked back at Sam, who waited outside in the shadows. “You can just go on in and have a seat on the couch. She won’t take me more than a minute.”

“It’s okay. I can wait out here.” Sam groped in his pocket and brought out a pack of cigarettes. He extracted one, lit it, and exhaled a plume of blue gray smoke into the night air. Thad was both repelled and attracted by the site of Sam lighting up.

Ugh. A smoker. Something I will have to work on changing. He then couldn’t deny the “bad boy” thrill the site of the man smoking gave him. Or maybe not.

Thad ducked back in and stooped to affix harness and leash to Edith, who was all but hopping up and down with impatience. She whimpered and stared desperately up at him.

“I know, I know,” Thad soothed. “Small bladder.”

The two stepped outside and Edith froze when she saw Sam. Her eyes widened and the hackles along her neck and back went up. She immediately began a furious yapping, baring her teeth, and lunging toward Sam, her tiny frame testing the endurance of the leather leash. Thad was surprised the old girl had so much fury and strength within her seven pound frame. He sent a weak smile Sam’s way to apologize for her behavior. “I don’t know what’s up with her. She’s usually not like this.”

“Maybe it’s the dark. I’ll walk over here.” Sam hurried back down the walkway until he stood near the street, the orange tip of his cigarette glowing in the dark.

Thad squatted down to comfort the little dog, shaking with fury and what seemed like terror. He had acquired Edith as a puppy and had made sure she was well socialized from about eight weeks old on, taking her everywhere with him and exposing her, over the years to all sorts of people, other dogs, and even cats. He had never seen her behave like this. Great! I finally find a man I think I could be nuts about and my dog doesn’t like him. Something I’ll have to work on. Thad walked Edith in the opposite direction from Sam and she calmed down enough to re-establish her original goal and to take care of it.

“I’ll put her in the bathroom,” Thad called to Sam as he headed back to the apartment. “Give me just a sec. I’ll leave the door open and then you can come in.”

Thad hurried to make a bed of towels for Edith in one corner, then rushed into the kitchen to put some peanut butter in her little Kong toy. He presented it to her. “Here, now I’ve been nice to you. Now you be nice to me. No more trouble from you.” He took one last glance back at the dog, busy with getting peanut butter out of her toy, before closing the bathroom door.

Sam leaned against his front door, smiling. He didn’t look tired in the least, even though it was near two in the morning and he had worked all evening. The color in his cheeks was high, his lips full and slightly parted, and the way he stared at Thad was all invitation. Thad simply wanted to get lost in that big, furry body.

But he was still a little flustered. “Sorry about that. She isn’t usually so unfriendly. I don’t know what got into her.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’m not much of a dog person—maybe she knew that. And maybe you don’t know what’s gotten into her, but I have an inkling you have a very good idea what’s going to be getting into you.” Sam winked and then laughed.

“You dog!” Thad crossed the room, flicked off the lights, and pressed his body against Sam. The kisses, against the door, just as he had imagined, commenced. Thad was, for once, grateful he didn’t have a job to go to come Monday morning, because he knew his face would be red and chafed from the pressure of Sam’s beard. This way, he imagined he would smile with fond memories every time he looked in a mirror.

They kissed for what seemed like the next hour, until both of them panted and half their faces were wet with the other saliva. Without ever leaving the front door, shirts had been undone and pulled open, flies opened, and shoes kicked into corners.

Breathlessly, Thad forced himself away from Sam and said the three little words every man longs to hear: “To the bed.” He grabbed Sam and tugged him toward the bed that occupied one corner of his studio. They fell upon it, laughing and tearing at each other’s clothes...


...Sam and Thad lay on their backs, breathless. Thad spoke first, but only after several minutes had passed, long enough for him to process what had just happened and to allow his respiration to return to a somewhat normal pace. “That was amazing. I’m no Mary Poppins, but I can honestly say I don’t know when it’s been that good for me.” Thad let out a long, quivering breath. “You’re right; you are an animal.”

Sam laughed and the sound was comforting, here in the pale, silvery light from a waning moon outside. Thad snuggled into the crook between Sam’s chest and arm, resting his head on the fur that blanketed Sam’s chest. This, he thought, surprising himself, is just about as good as the sex.

“I just go with my instincts.” Sam stroked Thad’s hair gently. “If that makes me an animal, then I am guilty as charged.” He moved slightly away from Thad. “Don’t kill me, but do you mind if I have a cigarette? I can go outside if you want.”

Thad shook his head, grinning. “A smoke after sex. That’s so cliché. But go ahead. Normally, I wouldn’t allow it, but I’ll make an exception for you…Sam.” Thad liked how the name felt on his tongue.

“Grazie.” Sam turned to sit up and grope in his pants pocket, bringing out a pack of Marlboro Reds and a lighter. He leaned back against the headboard and lit up. The room filled with the acrid stench of burning tobacco and paper and instead of being repelled, as he normally would be, Thad moved close to Sam again, taking up his newly claimed spot on the man’s chest. He stared up at him, watching him smoke. Lazily, he traced circles in the hairy mat covering Sam’s chest. His fingers stopped when he caught sight of a design on Sam’s left pectoral, something he had hadn’t noticed in the dim light or perhaps because it was all but hidden by the forest of hair. Thad got up on one elbow.

“You have a tattoo?”

In the dark, Sam nodded. “I’ve had it for years, way before tattoos were all the rage like they are these days.”

“Especially here in Seattle.” Thad often wondered if there was some requirement that all citizens of Seattle must have at least one tattoo. “What’s it of?” Thad strained to make out the design’s contours in the dim light and couldn’t.

Sam leaned forward to switch on the little bedside lamp. Thad squinted at the sudden light source, then directed his gaze down at the muscled chest before him. “What is it?” Thad traced the design with his fingers, lowering his head to peer more closely at it. He nipped at Sam’s nipple and Sam laughed.

“It’s Lupa, the she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus, the twins who founded Rome in mythology. Cool, no?” Sam flexed his chest so the wolf seemed to move. Two cherubic twin boys below the figure suckled at her teats.

“It’s kind of weird. But it suits you.” Thad reached over Sam to turn off the light again. “What brought you to America?”

Did Thad detect a slight stiffening when he asked the question? He had only meant to further their little post-coital conversation. “I don’t mean to put you on the spot,” he hurried to say, wondering if he had imagined the slight body language. “If it’s none of my business, just say so.”

Sam relaxed against the bunched up—and damp—pillows. “No. It’s okay. We came from a small village in Sicily. Lots of mountains, rocks, olive trees…not much else. You would probably think it’s pretty, but me, I was bored. We just decided one day to go, to come to America, to see if we could make a go of it here. We tried New York City first, but it was too crazy there. Too many people, too expensive. We wanted someplace where everything was not concrete, where there was some nature. Seattle was, how would you say? A natural choice.”

Now it was Thad’s turn to stiffen just a bit. What was with all the ‘we’ this and ‘we’ that? His feelings, briefly at an all-time high, sunk. Was Sam married? Did he have a lover? Was Thad just that night’s side dish? Sam’s olive cake with Marion berries? Would Sam soon be getting up to hurry home to someone who was sleeping with one eye open, waiting for the sound of his key in the door? Thad did not want to come off as suspicious, but he couldn’t resist his next question and thought he might as well get everything out in the open right from the start.

“You said ‘we’. Who’s ‘we’?” Thad tried to bite his lip to keep himself from saying it, but he couldn’t resist the impulse. “Wait. Don’t tell me. There’s a boyfriend—or a wife—right?” Thad held his breath, waiting for the bad news to be delivered. It wouldn’t surprise him, but it would certainly deflate him. And it would be just about right for how his life had been going lately.

Sam chuckled and took a last drag off his cigarette. He got up and went to the window to flick it outside. His ass, high and firm, glowed in the moonlight and Thad wondered if he would have to rethink his policy of not dating committed men. Hell, with that ass, I may have to rethink my policy of being a total bottom.

He’s not talking because he’s trying to think of the right way to tell me. Thad clutched a pillow to his chest, almost as if he was bracing himself for a blow, which he was.

Sam weighed down the bed as he slid back in beside him. “You silly boy. There’s no one else. I said ‘we’ because I have a son. He came with me.” Sam took Thad’s face in his hands and snatched him up in his dark-eyed gaze. “There’s no one else.” He let go and Thad immediately missed the contact. “I travel light. I usually like, um, no complications? But when I saw you, I couldn’t resist.”

It wasn’t until they were drifting off to sleep that the paranoid side of Thad caught up with him again, causing him to wonder if the fucking was a way to stave off further conversation. Who was this son? Did Sam really just come to America for a change? How many people actually do that…or can even afford to? Stop it, now. He’s here with you now…

And the men drifted off to sleep together...

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Kisser: A Masculine Femininity excerpt by Mykola Dementiuk

In Mykola Dementiuk’s Kisser: A Masculine Femininity, Richard doesn’t think he’s one of those queers. Or is he?

When Ralphie kisses him in the park, then invites him home, new sensations open up in Richard’s life. Soon he wants more than kissing – he wants kissing, and something harder and stickier, too. But a young man on the verge of accepting his sexuality has much to learn about men, and there are all kinds of men in the world.

Follow Richard as he drifts from the park into the gay heart of Greenwich Village and back again. There he meets Mr. James, who might just be the man who will take Richard all the way.

Kisser: A Masculine Femininity
JMS Books (March 2012)
ISBN: 9781611522679


Chapter 4

When I first met Ralphie, he had been working at various Greenwich Village gay bars, but at that time, Studley’s was the tops. This was in the middle 70’s, when ‘Gay Rights’ was still an unheard of fantasy. To be gay in Greenwich Village was the norm. I had been to Washington Square Park many times, looking at the weird people who thronged the area, the Beatniks, the hippies, the outcasts who all fit in there, but I seldom strayed off of the well known paths and twisted streets to find what was really there, gay Greenwich Village. I was headed for it now.

The streets greeted me openly yet I still felt odd, my wide trousers caused many to turn back and give a questioning look as they strode past. I knew right away I wasn’t dressed for the Village streets, where a male who hustled was clad in slim tight pants and a T-shirt, and not in inappropriately wide dress pants such as I was wearing. In fact, I thought of myself in a wide skirt or dress as I swished and walked along.

Along Christopher Street I suddenly reddened and covered my face; there was Studley’s Bar, a multi colored gay banner over the window, a certain sign that it was gay-owned or gay-operated. An elderly man in a business suit came out of Studley’s Bar, looking very slim and elegant. He lit a cigarette and walked on, as I did, too, sauntering after him, as he paused and looked at a few store windows, causally taking his time. I was nervous but approached him.

“Is this the way,” I asked, “to get to the subway, streets are very twisted down here.”

He puffed his cigarette.

“Yes, it is, young man,” he said, looking me up and down, and getting out of the way of a woman walking past. “Twisted indeed.” He looked at me as if wondering, then said, “On the next block make a right and the subway’s right there. You can’t miss it.”

I nodded and said, “Thanks,” and turned to walk on.

“You’re not from around here?”

“Brooklyn.” I stepped aside as another man walked past us. “Took the subway here, but I forgot where it was.”

“Oh, tough Brooklyn, is that where they still wear Zoot suits?” He smirked, glancing down at my pants. “I was there one time and I think it was one time too many.”

I looked at him as we both moved aside. The busy street seemed to be filled with people.

“Zoot suits, what is that?”

“Suits like you’re wearing,” and he pointed at my very wide pants, almost sneering at them. “Those came about in the Jazz Age in the 1930’s. Don’t see much of that anymore. Zoot suits were very fashionable at one time, big with the African-American crowd. I suppose being from Brooklyn, it’s understandable that you’d still be wearing it.”

Oddly, I felt as if he was sneering at me. I only wore it because Dad had it in his closet when he died. Mom kept all his clothes as if they were mementos. I saw the suit one day and thought it looked very neat and cool. I never knew there’d be such a history with it.

“It isn’t so bad,” I said, “you get used to it, after a while.”

“I suppose you boys from Brooklyn have your way of dressing, as we have ours.”

We stood on the street before a building as people walked up and down past us.

“What way do you have?” I asked

He smiled and licked his lips.

“It’s hard to explain but, honey, why wear anything? Get undressed, that’s my motto. But I don’t want to take your time, you have a subway to catch. Don’t want to delay you.”

I shrugged.

“There’s always another one coming by. What’s a little time?”

We looked at each other, both of us licking our lips.

“By the way, young man, I live right here,” he said and nodded quietly, glancing at a building on our left. “You’re welcome to come up and we can resume our little conversation, undisturbed.” Again he moved aside for a walker, male or female, it was hard to tell.

I looked at him. What was I doing? Am I crazy, a sick pervert? Going to a stranger’s apartment?

“You don’t mind?”

“Not at all, honey, not at all.” His smile was wide and he led me into the building, away from the people walking on the street.

“By the way, young man, what is your name?”

I smiled.

“Dick,” I answered, “but my close friends call me Dickey.”

“Ooh, I like that. You can call me Hard, or Mr. Hardy, which ever you prefer.”

We smiled at each other, him winking at me.

“Okay Hard, or Mr. Hardy,” I said, winking back at him.

“You know, I saw many bars and clubs on this street,” I said, as we climbed the stairs. “People start partying early, that’s for sure.”

On the first floor he turned and smiled at me.

“Some drink all the time, others don’t. I like to imbibe, it sets your spirits free for a little action.” He winked as we continued up another flight of stairs.

“That sure was a busy street,’ I said, “with lots of people. I wonder where they are going?”

“Oh, I know, busy, busy, busy, but Christopher Street is always like that. Young men looking for older men, while older men are always seeking out sweet younger ones.” He shrugged.

“You pay your money, honey, and you always have your choice.” And again he winked as we stood outside a doorway on the third floor and was about to turn the lock.

“Have you been looking long, honey? I like to please young men if they know how to please me. Do you know how?”

I’d known what he was talking about ever since I’d seen him step out of Studley’s Bar, but the nearness of having my longings and desires fulfilled, of actually seeing what one man does to another, panicked me and I felt very frightened. I shook my head.

“No,” I said. “Sorry, no…” and I stepped back, pounded down three flights of stairs, and darted out into the busy street.
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