Monday, December 31, 2012

As I Remember Those Years excerpt by Kurt K Joyce

This excerpt from As I Remember Those Years by Kurt K Joyce is from an as of yet unfinished story about coming of age in the late 60's.  In this excerpt, the main character, Doug, arrives at college.

The regular format of this blog will return with the first excerpt of the new year, January 7th.


1 - Birth

As I remember those years...

In my youth, growing up, I was safe. Surrounded by friends and family, in my neighborhood in Flatbush, I was safe and secure. Cloistered in an upper middle class, Jewish, liberal community, I was safe, secure and sheltered. Now, seated in the back seat of my family’s Mercury station wagon, all my earthly possessions around me, on I-89 en route to Hancock, a small New England college (my first choice) - - for the first time since age five when I had my tonsils removed, I’m scared?

September, 1968. Saturday. It’s not that I’m going to miss high school all that much - I was only barely on the fringe of the “in-group”. In sports, when sides were chosen for teams, I was always the last one taken. In school plays, I rarely had even one line to say. And of course I didn’t have a date for the senior prom. But I did play alto sax - 1st seat, 1st stand in the school band - which made me at least semi-cool.

College Street. College Hill. The Merc is slowly making its way up the hill. At the top, my life awaits me.

* * * * *

“Hi! I’m Frank. Welcome to Hancock. Name?”

“Douglas Schoenfeld.”

“Glad to meet you, Doug,” shaking my hand while leafing through the papers on his clipboard, checking for my name. “You’re in Rutland, in State campus.” Freshman are housed in both State and East campuses. “That’s - turn left here on Maple, it’s four blocks up - past Faith, Hope and Charity, right turn at Grace. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you around campus, Doug.”

“Hi! I’m Shari. Welcome to Hancock. Your name?” Weird deja-vu, followed by a vision of Shari, leading a cheer, waving her pom-poms at the Big Game.

“Hi! I’m Doug Schoenfeld. Nice to meet you, Shari.”

“So nice to meet you, Doug,” shaking my hand while leafing through the papers on her clipboard, checking for my name. “You’re in Rutland, the dorm on the left.” The three dorms in State campus - Rutland, Middlebury, and Burlington - form the letter U, with the open end facing Grace Street. The two smaller, brick buildings flank Burlington, which resembles a plantation house with its three-story pillars guarding the entrance doors. “Room 309. You can pick up your keys at the front desk.”

“Thank you, Shari.” Walking toward Rutland, I hear from behind me a cheerful, “Nice meeting you, Doug.”

“Hi! I’m Doug Schoenfeld. I’m in room 309. I’m really looking forward to being here at Hancock.”

Apparently, my New York sarcasm doesn’t travel across state lines because he replies, “Hi! I’m Kurt. Nice to meet you, Doug,” shaking my hand while leafing through the papers on his clipboard, checking for my name. Fuck, I feel naked, am I the only person on this campus without a clipboard? “Doug, just sign next to your name. Here are your keys. Third floor, on the left, corner room all the way down the hall. And welcome to Hancock.” Had Hancock been invaded by smiling, perky aliens? First thing, I’ll check for a pea pod under my bed.

My room. My new sanctuary. Except for the window overlooking Maple and beyond to “downtown” Hancock (the intersection of Vermont Routes 100 and 125), there’s two of everything: two twin beds, two desks, two desk lamps, two desk chairs, two waste paper baskets, two small bookcases; on either side of the door, hidden behind floor-length curtains, closet alcoves each with a small chest of drawers. One side of the room is the complete mirror image of the other. Okay, Alice, which side of the looking glass for you? Or, I could procrastinate, and put off a decision; laziness has immediate rewards. Therefore, after unloading the car (under my Dad’s strict observation and supervision), and agreeing to meet my parents for dinner at 6:00, I kick off my Adidas, strip off my Hancock College t-shirt, and crash on the nearest of the two beds.

I can’t ignore the persistent knock at my door. “It’s open.” “Hi! Doug?” I nod my head. “I’m John Janus.” Of course, he’s holding a clipboard. “I’m the RA for Rutland. If you have any questions, problems, or just need to talk, I’m in 101. Oh, and we heard from your roommate, Luke Thiboudeaux. Car trouble - he should be arriving tomorrow. I’m glad we’ve met, and welcome to Hancock.” Not knowing or caring what an RA might be, I now at least know my roommate has a name - Luke!?!

* * * * *

Fuck! It’s a few minutes before 6:00. I’d been dreaming that I was on a ferryboat, crossing the calm waters to? Quick. Jeans off. Khaki chinos, a white button-down dress shirt, burgundy cordovan penny loafers - very preppy. I dash down Grace, past Oak and Walnut, to Elm Street. Since my parents are staying overnight at the Inn on Elm Street, we’re eating at the Restaurant in the Tavern in the Inn on Elm Street. That’s actually the name of the restaurant - the Restaurant in the Tavern in the Inn on Elm Street. Really.

The dining area is fashioned as a rustic country inn. Wood beams, wood paneling, wood plank flooring. On the far wall, a stone fireplace. Lighting is provided by electrified hurricane lamps on the walls, and wagon wheel chandeliers overhead with bulbs shaped to look like candles. Heavy, dark wood tables and chairs; straw place mats with mock pewter plates and tankards. I order the roast duck, with baked potato and corn. I have a Coke, ‘though I would have much preferred some beer. Unfortunately, at seventeen, I’m still underage - skipped eighth grade. Which might explain my nephophobia (fear of clouds); chemistry, biology, physics yes but never studied earth science.

During dinner, conversation ranges from the weather in Vermont to the economics of inflation, from a discussion of politics and the Vietnam war to gossip about family and neighbors. Then my Dad issues his pontifical pronouncement. “Your mother and I are very proud of your previous academic achievements.” Have I mentioned that the minimum standards for admission to Hancock are a high school grade average of 93 and standardized test scores (SATs) of 1350? “We, of course, have full confidence in you and expect no less from you here at Hancock; we know you won’t disappoint us. But we also want you to experiment, to broaden your interests, and not be afraid of the new and unknown.” To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before! “Most of all, to enjoy and have fun during these next four years. We have watched as you’ve matured from a child into a fine young adult, and want to tell you how nice it is to have you as our son.” Nice? NICE? Unexpectedly, my Dad hands me an envelope containing cash. My neurotic impulses are assuaged, temporarily.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, back at the ranch - Rutland, third floor, north wing, welcome party ...

Intros are made. “Hey Johnnie, he’s another New Yorker.” “Fuckin’ A!”

Beers are handed out, joints passed around. I am blitzed.

“Marilyn Monroe had to die ‘cause she knew too much about Kennedy’s assassination.”

"What a rip-off. Who are you going to complain to - the priest?”

Three of the guys do a bitchin’ imitation of the Supremes “Stop in the Name of Love.”

“I’m Jewish”

“But she died before his assassination.”

“So go to your express or local rabbi.” “Far out, man!”

Duncan Yo-Yo throws a watermelon out the window to watch it splatter.

“Jayne Mansfield was decapitated.”

“This weed is primo.”

If I only had a brain.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Have a wonderful holiday.  Gay/Lesbian Fiction Excerpts returns next Monday!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Daddy’s Money excerpt by Alan Chin

In Daddy’s Money by Alan Chin, everyone needs a little help now and then. For gay Muslim Sayen Homet, that help first came from his understanding mother, who brought him to America from the Middle East. Now that he’s working his way through Stanford Medical School, his help comes from a secret sugar daddy. But Sayen might be able to end their arrangement soon now that he has a boyfriend he can depend on, A student Campbell Reardon. Campbell is more than willing to support Sayen, even if it means coming out to his conservative family.

But when Campbell takes Sayen home to meet his parents, everything falls apart. Campbell doesn’t realize how his boyfriend pays for school… and neither of them knows Sayen’s sugar daddy is Campbell's father, Blake Reardon.

While everyone involved struggles to overcome their shock, it becomes obvious Blake will do anything to keep Sayen. Campbell and Sayen love each other, but in the face of so much hurt and betrayal, love might not be enough to hold them together.

Daddy's Money
Dreamspinner Press (December 10, 2012)
ISBN: 978-1-62380-233-2


Campbell Reardon watched a woman’s face, red and dripping with sweat, scrunch into a mask of pure agony. Her breathing became loud, frantic, crescendoing into a scream. “Oh God! What’s happening?” Her panting accelerated, wet sobbing breaths on the verge of hyperventilation. She leaned back on the table with a sheet draped over her elevated knees.

Her husband held her hand, stroking her forehead. “Breathe, sweetheart. Concentrate.”

The woman’s moans built into another scream.

On the far side of the room, Nurse Peggy Warren prepared bathwater and blankets. She had a bird’s narrow lips, bottle-red hair with forties-era bangs, and a Carolina accent that always sounded slightly pretentious. Beside Campbell, crusty old Dr. Crill studied his wristwatch, timing the pains. Campbell was feeling his usual sting of resentment that came whenever he had to work with Dr. Crill. The dinosaur should have retired when I was in diapers. He was convinced that the reason Crill treated him with disdain was not the fact that he was a handsome twenty-six-year-old with wavy blond hair, perfect teeth, and brimming with life, but rather that everything about Campbell spelled money—manners, posture, grooming. Everything except the nervous expression he could feel on his face at that moment.

“Late again,” Crill snapped. “How many times have I warned him?”

Crill glared at Campbell with hard, unfathomable eyes until good manners forced Campbell to look away. He turned his head to stare out a bank of windows overlooking Stanford campus, but what caught his attention was a moth with squiggly yellow markings on its wings battering itself against the inside of the windowpane.

“I’m sure he’s only moments away, Dr. Crill.” Campbell continued to watch the moth, somehow hoping it would find a way back outside, to break free and ride the wind. He yearned for a miracle, and he knew that his desire had more to do with Sayen than the moth.

The woman in labor screamed again as agony arched her back off the table.

“Be strong, sweetheart,” her husband crooned. “Breathe deeply.”

She reached up and slapped her husband’s face once, twice. She tried for a hat trick but he pulled out of her reach. “Don’t tell me to breathe you turd… DO SOMETHING! Make them give me the fucking shot!”

“We have plenty of time here,” Dr. Crill said to Campbell. “I’ll be at the nurse’s station checking on other patients. Send the nurse for me if the baby crowns.”

Campbell nodded.

“And Campbell, if Sayen is not here by the time I return, I’m washing him out of the program. We take medicine seriously on this campus, and that means showing up on time, every time.”

“We don’t know what’s keeping him,” Campbell snapped, his anger leaping into the red zone. “It could be an emergency.”

The expression on Crill’s face revealed he did not like the tone the conversation had taken. He closed his eyes, obviously trying to determine if he was over reacting. “What do you think he’d prefer, Campbell, washing out of the program or setting him back a year?”

Campbell turned his attention to the windows. The moth still battered itself against the glass. “Are those the only choices, killing his dream or throwing him deeper into debt and delaying graduation by a year? Well, thanks. I’m sure he’ll be humbled with gratitude.”

Crill’s eyes narrowed as they followed Campbell’s stare to the window. “As well he should be. Few people get to choose.” He stood silent, no doubt waiting for a proper, reverential response. When none came he said, “Very well.”

Crill picked a pad of paper from a nearby table, strolled to the window, lifted the pad, and smashed the moth.

Campbell willed his face into neutral as his anger turned into shame, which stemmed less from ingratitude than from the dangerous way he had allowed himself to reveal his contempt when it could have been so easily concealed. That was a weakness that could get him drummed out of medical school, and he vowed never to allow himself that response again. His only hope of becoming a doctor was to placate Crill and all the other arrogant bastards like him in a self-effacing manner. And that I will do, no matter what.

Campbell’s chest squeezed tight. His lungs labored and his eyes watered. He reached into his pocket for his inhaler and lifted it to his mouth. One squirt brought sweet relief, and that helped calm him.

As Dr. Crill breezed out the doorway, another wave of pain rocked the patient. She grabbed her husband by the shirt-collar and squeezed. He fought to suck air into his lungs. As the pain rolled away, the husband pulled back, gasping for breath. He staggered to Campbell and clutched his arm. “Doc, you gotta give her that shot.”

Campbell glanced at the doorway, thinking he should probably go after Crill, but clearly not wanting to. “I wish I could, Mr. Bishop, but I’m a student here. I’m not allowed to administer drugs without a doctor’s supervision.”

“There must be something you can do. I mean, look at her. She’s in agony!”

Mr. Bishop clenched Campbell’s arm so tight he was in pain himself. Campbell could feel beads of sweat breaking onto his forehead. “Dr. Crill will be back any second. As soon as he’s here, I’ll administer the shot. I promise.”

Another scream sent Mr. Bishop back to his wife’s side to dab her forehead with a damp cloth.

Nurse Peggy turned on Campbell like an attack dog. “Her pains are under a minute. I’ll get Dr. Crill.”

Campbell rushed to put himself between Nurse Peggy and the door. He held out a hand to stop her. “We have to wait for Sayen,” he choked. He gave himself another blast from his inhaler.

The patient’s groans were constant. Her screams grew razor sharp. “Please, Doc,” Mr. Bishop pleaded, “do something.”

“I’m not making that poor woman suffer another second,” Nurse Peggy snapped.

"Peggy, no. Please don’t!”

“Screw Sayen!” She hurled past Campbell and jerked open the door, but then froze by what she saw in the corridor. Campbell cocked his head to the left so he could see out the doorway, and what seemed to fill the long hallway was Sayen on his skateboard, flying toward them like a charging bull.

“Hold the door,” Sayen yelled only moments before he rocketed into the delivery room. He leaned back on the board, screeching to a halt, then popped the board up and caught it with expertlike ease.

Sayen returned Nurse Peggy’s glare as the ends of his mouth lifted. “Hey, Pickles, you look more sour every time I see you. Lighten up and enjoy life.”

“Stop calling me that.”

Campbell stepped close to Sayen, and as he did, he felt that familiar weakness come to his chest, that feeling of awkwardness he always felt around this beautiful man. Sayen had a long face, bushy eyebrows suspended above deep-set eyes, the suggestion of a moustache set over impossibly thin lips, and a prominent Adam’s apple that constantly battled against his starched collar. “Crill is ready to wash you out. I’ve been stalling for time.”

Sayen grabbed Campbell’s wrist and turned it to check the face on Campbell’s Rolex. “I’m exactly on time.”

Campbell felt the heat from Sayen’s fingers on his wrist. He was always amazed at how this lovely man generated so much energy, as if he held an entire universe of burning life deep within, a brilliant comet streaking across an empty sky. “On time for Crill means ten minutes early. You know that.”

Another scream from the patient sent Nurse Peggy hurrying out the doorway.

"We both know that decrepit boob can’t even see his watch,” Sayen spat. “This has nothing to do with being late, and everything to do with him being a homophobic swine.”

“No argument there.” Yes, Campbell knew the truth of it all too well, and he felt a wave of admiration for this Muslim man who had the courage to be completely out. He also felt a tiny twinge of shame for not having the same pluck. In Sayen’s excited state, he had yet to let go of Campbell’s wrist. “If you’re timing my pulse, let me assure you, now that you’re here my heart rate has doubled.”

Sayen dropped Campbell’s arm. “We better scrub up before Pickles comes back dragging that knuckle scraper.”

They walked to the sink, rolled up the sleeves of their lab coats, and, side by side, soaped and scrubbed. Campbell felt waves of coziness. He seldom had the chance to be this close to Sayen. He could feel the energy radiating from him, and that warm strength comforted him. He nudged closer, but Sayen moved further away.

“Have dinner with me tonight,” Campbell said in a low voice.

Sayen glanced up, lifting one eyebrow. “You know I’m in a relationship.”

“Ah yes, the mystery man. Nobody believes he’s real.”

Sayen rinsed his hands. “He’s real alright. He just travels in different social circles.”

“He’s married?”

“Fuck off.” Sayen grabbed a towel and dried his hands. He turned his back on Campbell and slipped on rubber gloves.

Campbell cast his towel aside and lifted a glove. “I’d show you off regardless if I had a wife. Don’t you think you deserve better than that?” He stared into Sayen’s eyes. It never failed to amaze him that a man of North African ancestry, with thick, jet-black hair on his head and fine hair covering his arms, would have eyes the color of the sea. But then a purple spot below Sayen’s lips caught his attention. “You have a smudge of jam on your chin.”

Sayen held up his gloved hands, hesitating. Campbell felt a burning desire to lean forward and lick that sweet jelly off that bronzed skin, but instead he pulled a white, monogrammed handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to Sayen. He smiled. “Keep it.”

Sayen hesitated again, until Campbell said, “It’s only a hankie, not an engagement ring.” Sayen dropped his head, taking the handkerchief and cleaning his chin, then he slipped it into his pocket. He glanced at the patient, at her spread legs. His head jerked back to Campbell, a mask of panic etched his face.

“What’s wrong,” Campbell whispered.

“That’s my undergraduate-English teacher, Miss Bishop. Jesus, I can’t do this.” He pulled the white handkerchief from his pocket and dabbed his forehead, leaving a faint line of purple.

In the three years that Campbell had known Sayen, this was the first time he had ever seen the man so unnerved. He laid a calming hand at the back of Sayen’s neck, gentling him like an unbroken colt. “I thought you’d jump at the chance to rip the guts out of a homophobic Bishop.”

“This is no joke. She and I were really close. I can’t deal with her like this.”

“You can’t walk away from the people you care for, Sayen. She’s a woman in pain, and we’re going to help her bring new life into the world. Just focus on the baby.”

Sayen glanced at her spread legs again as sweat beaded on his forehead. “Shit, it’s crowning. What should we do?”

Campbell shrugged his shoulders. “You’re going to deliver a baby, what else?” He walked to the patient’s spread legs and lifted the sheet higher. He moved to Mrs. Bishop’s side and took her hand. He nodded to the husband, then to her. “Looks like someone is anxious to see its parents. It won’t be long now.”

Gloved and masked, Sayen advanced on Mrs. Bishop’s spread legs, but then he froze.

Campbell, aware that his friend’s distress had deepened, came to his aid. “What now?”

“There’s blood oozing out.”

“For Christsake, move over.” Campbell shoved Sayen aside and bent between the patient’s legs. Mrs. Bishop’s constant cries could shatter glass, but Campbell stayed calm, working to support the baby’s head as the tiny body emerged into the world. “Mrs. Bishop, I need you to push now. Push as hard as you can.”

Sayen turned away as more blood appeared. He continued to dab his face with the handkerchief, which became completely damp.

“You owe me dinner for this,” Campbell said over his shoulder, “and I’m hungry for sushi.”

Sayen leaned over the sink but managed to hold his stomach down. He glanced up at his image in the mirror and visibly tried to pull himself together. “You know I can’t afford sushi. How about Mickey D’s?”

Campbell shook his head, secretly pleased that he had gotten a dinner commitment out of this lovely man. “My dime. Sushi To Die For on 3rd Avenue, seven-thirty. And don't be late.”

Campbell pulled the baby away from the mother. “It’s a girl, Mrs. Bishop,” he said, holding it up for the parents to see.

Campbell held the infant while Sayen cut and tied the cord. They stood together at the foot of the bed while Campbell tried coaxing the baby into breathing. It didn’t respond.

"Slap it’s butt,” Sayen hissed.

Campbell shook his head. “We don’t do that any more. That was covered in one of the many classes you missed.”

“Fine, Mister Adorkable, do something!”

On her own, the baby balled her tiny fingers into fists and let out a cry that let the whole room know she was a fighter.

Relief swept through Campbell. He held that tiny bundle of bawling life in his hands as he gazed into Sayen’s fatally blue eyes, and he felt something pass between them, something so warm and natural it felt, well…loving. There was no other word for it. Caught in the wonder of seeing new life emerge into the universe, so frail and so dependent on him, he felt his infatuation for Sayen blossom into something deeper, some unknown force he could only call love.

They moved together as if joined at the hip to the waiting bath water, and worked as a team to fastidiously wash the tiny, pink body. Campbell felt warmth pour from Sayen as they fawned over the infant. It seemed as if their three bodies became one glowing force of nature, bound by some invisible strength. But even caught in this cocoon of heartfelt feelings, Sayen seemed to pull back.

“I can’t believe you’re so hot to be strapped down with one of these,” Sayen said. “I mean, they cry, keep you up all night, cost a fortune, and they smell.”

The baby continued to cry as Campbell lifted it out of the bathwater. “They give you unconditional love, which is something I’m in short supply of lately.” He wrapped the infant in a blanket and handed her to Sayen. Nuzzling into Sayen’s protective embrace, she stopped crying. Sayen pressed his cheek to the baby’s forehead, humming a soothing tune.

The baby seemed to smile. Both men shared a wonder-filled moment, drawn close to each other, with the baby between them. They could almost kiss.

Sayen broke away from the moment to cross the room and press the baby into its mother’s arms. Mrs. Bishop’s tears were now joyful. She cuddled her infant, then grabbed Sayen’s hand and pulled him toward her like a fish on a line, kissing his cheek. A line of red moved up from Sayen’s collar to cover his entire face.

Mrs. Bishop grabbed her husband and kissed him. “It’s a girl. Honey, we have a baby girl. I love you. I love you so much.”

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Monday, December 10, 2012

The Good Cop excerpt by Dorien Grey

One of the residual spots of conflicts in gay rights is in the police force, and The Good Cop by Dorien Grey takes that conflict head-on in the murder of a gay policeman and the investigation by the inimitable Dick Hardesty. We meet many of the familiar characters as well as get to know Jonathan, a young hustler who becomes more than a casual acquaintance. The entire police force is suspect in this community mystery of intrigue and murder.

In this excerpt, Dick meets Jonathan for the first time.

The Good Cop
GLB Publications (November 1, 2002)
ISBN-10: 1879194759
ISBN-13: 978-1879194755


When my eyes were able to discern more than just vague figures, I noticed a really cute, kind of skinny kid about two stools down from me, looking at me and grinning from ear to ear. I wondered at first if he knew me, then decided maybe he mistook me for somebody else. I nodded to him in a casual greeting which he apparently took as an invitation. He scooted over to the stool beside me. “How’s it goin’?” he asked, using words I’d heard somewhere just recently.

“Pretty good,” I replied, playing a little Hardesty game with myself. “You?”

“Okay,” he said brightly. “I’m horny, though. Are you horny?”

One of the things I truly do enjoy about hustlers is their subtlety. If you want beating around the bush, go somewhere else. But rather than respond as I automatically wanted to (“Hey, kid, I’m a Scorpio. Scorpios are always horny!”), I didn’t want to lead him on, so I opted for: “I just came in for a beer and a paper,” I said.

But then, not wanting the kid to think I was brushing him off—he was really cute, and hustlers do have feelings—I said: “How’s business?”

He’d lost his grin only momentarily, then immediately got it back as he showed me his right forearm which, aside from a small, apparently self-applied tattoo, sported an obviously new if not very expensive watch. “I got this the other day,” he said like a proud little kid who’d been given an unexpected present. “A john gave me a fifty dollar tip!”

I smiled. “You must be pretty good.”

"Oh, I am! You really should check it out yourself.”

I’d noticed that instead of the ubiquitous beer bottle, he had what looked like a mixed drink—coke and something, I guessed. It was nearly empty, and he raised his glass, tipped it all the way up to drain it, then set it slowly on the bar.

“What are you drinking?” I asked, then immediately realized he’d probably take it as an invitation.

“Just coke. I don’t drink.”

Well, that was certainly different, I thought.

“Want another?” I asked, rather surprising myself, since I have a long standing rule to never let myself get suckered into buying drinks for hustlers. But it was just a coke, after all, and this kid got to me, in some odd way.

“Sure,” he said, still grinning. “Thanks.”

I motioned to Bud, who nodded, reached into the cooler, scooped some ice into a glass, then filled it from the mixes tap. He brought it over and put it in front of the kid. I handed him another bill and indicated he should keep the change.

“My name’s Jonathan,” the kid said as he gestured his glass at me in thanks. “I just got here a couple weeks ago, and I sure like this town. Lots of rich guys here. Are you rich?”

I smiled again, looking at the kid in front of me and thinking for some reason of a puppy.

“No, I’m not rich.” I took another drink of my beer. “I gather you haven’t been hustling all that long?”

He took a small sip from his coke—I got the impression he wanted to make it last—and shook his head. “No, not really. Just since I got here. I’m 19 but I tell everybody I’m 21. I’ve been trying to find a regular job, but they’re really hard to find unless you’ve got a car, and hustling pays really well. Maybe I’ll just do this for a while. I had the same guy pick me up twice now, and he gave me a fifty dollar tip both times!”

I strongly suspected that Jonathan was assuming fifty dollar tips were going to be common, and that he hadn’t been selling himself long enough to find out what the life really was like for most hustlers. I didn’t envy him the learning process.

He might have been conning me, but I think I’ve been around long enough to know when someone is and when they’re not. And I didn’t really think Jonathan was. He didn’t have the usual tough-guy bravado hustlers adopt as a survival mechanism.

Give him time, my mind sighed.

“You’re serious about getting a real job?”

“Sure. But like I say, I can make a lot of money hustling. I’ve been working since I was 12. Not hustling, of course, but working. Maybe now I can take it easy for a while.”

Hardesty! Stay out of it! my mind commanded.

But Jeezus, he’s just a kid! I thought.

And you can’t save the world, my mind responded, gently.

“Well, I tell you what. There’s a diner on the ground floor of the building I work in, and I see they’ve got a sign in the window for a busboy. If you’d be interested, you could check it out.”

He grinned yet again. “Sure! I been a busboy a couple times. Maybe I will. Where’s this at?”

I gave him the address, then finished my beer.

“Well, good luck, Jonathan,” I said, extending my hand. I wasn’t really surprised to know that I sincerely meant it.

For an additional excerpt from The Good Cop, see May 19th, 2008.

To purchase, click

Monday, December 3, 2012

Beau & The Beast excerpt by Rick R Reed

Inspired by the timeless tale, “Beauty and the Beast”, by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont, Rick R. Reed has crafted in Beau & The Beast a new fairy tale for our times that manages to be ethereal, romantic and ripped-from-the-headlines realistic.

Beau is a down-on-his-luck street artist living on the streets of Seattle, drawing portraits of tourists to make enough money to live hand-to-mouth. He has a knack for capturing his subjects’ “very souls” on paper. One rainy night, he is accosted by a group of fag-bashing thugs, intent on robbing him of his art supplies and humiliating Beau for who he is. Beau is beaten into unconsciousness…

…and awakens in a beautiful bedroom, his head bandaged and with no memory of how he got there. Outside his window, pine trees and mountain vistas beckon.

Beau’s tale grows even more mysterious when a large, muscular man begins bringing the injured Beau his food. The man says nothing—and wears a wolf mask. When he finally does speak, it’s only to tell Beau to call him “Beast.”

What secrets does the wolf mask hide? What do these two outsiders have in common? And will their odd circumstances bring them to the brink of love—or tear them apart? The answers lie in Rick R. Reed’s haunting love story that reveals that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

This is the opening from Rick R Reed’s gay, modern-day fairy tale and in many ways, it really sets the scene for what’s to come. The line about seeing into a soul is particularly pertinent, if you read the entire story.

Beau & The Beast
Amber Allure
ISBN-13: 978-1-61124-346-8


Seattle’s Elliott Bay, Beau thought, was a study in gray. With his artist’s eye, he could appreciate the gunmetal shade of the churning waters, here and there supporting the weight of massive ferries taking late afternoon commuters to Bainbridge and Vashon Islands. Beau thought the clouds appeared pearlescent in their pale tones of faded white, smoke, and touched with peach as the sun, all but invisible on this drizzly day, set over the water. Even the buildings, across the sound, and lining Alki Beach in West Seattle, appeared as colorless geometric shapes, stalwarts lined up against the approaching night.

Beau had been here almost all afternoon, just behind Pike Place Market, hoping even on this chilly and damp day, that he would be able to attract tourist trade from the busy marketplace. After all, even Seattle’s tepid winters drew tourists and their favorite destination, equal to the Space Needle, was Pike Place Market and the Elliott Bay waterfront behind it.

But today, the blustery winds, constant drizzle bordering on mist, and oppressive dark skies more suited to night, kept most tourists pursuing activities indoor in nature.

Yet here Beau sat on his little collapsible folding stool behind the market, easel set up and hoping to do a portrait or two to make enough money to perhaps get himself a room for the night in one of the fleabag motels lining Aurora Avenue farther north. He hoped for the added bonus of a little something extra to lessen the aching emptiness of his belly. The reality of the term ‘starving artist’ was not lost on poor Beau.

His skin was moist and he had grown weary of smiling and trying to cajole those tourists that did walk down to the waterfront to let him try to capture their likenesses with charcoal and paper. Now, all he wanted to do was find a place to hole up for a while, to try and dispel this chill that had crept into his very bones. Seattle was like that in the winter—even though the temperature seldom dipped down to freezing, the damp caused the chill to seep in, thwarting even layers of flannel, wool, and fleece.

On better days, Beau sometimes walked away from this area with enough money in his pocket to treat himself to teriyaki and a room, if he was lucky, for more than one night. On better days, Beau engaged with the tourists and locals who posed for him, getting an original portrait for only ten dollars (the highest amount he found he could charge, to his dismay).

Packing up his art supplies, Beau tried to warm himself by remembering the praise he would get on those good days, when he would do several portraits. He remembered one woman, a regal looking, olive-complexioned lady with a mass of graying hair she had pulled sloppily atop her head, effusing over her portrait. In it, Beau had captured the beauty that shone from her, luminosity not immediately apparent to the casual observer. He didn’t think the woman was being conceited when she smiled at the drawing, tears springing to her eyes, and said, “Why it’s like you captured my very soul.”

And that’s exactly what Beau tried to do when he drew someone—find their essence, some unique feature that made them them. He knew he was good, better than the hardscrabble existence he eked out, but aside from times being hard these days, he also constantly told himself that, albeit poor, he was free. He had no boss to answer to, save himself and his own biological imperatives—which were sometimes very demanding indeed—no set hours around which he would be forced to fashion his life.

Yes, he had to admit to himself, he was homeless, even though he usually made enough money to keep him off the streets most nights. Yet he had no permanent address, no real place to store his art supplies and to hang the straw hat he favored wearing. But when the fact of his aimlessness left him low, he could always remind himself he was free.


And alone.

Beau finished putting what he could in the large backpack that transformed him into a beast of burden. He folded up his easel, compacting it, and turned to look once more at the waters of the sound, now still and shiny, mirror like, reflecting the last of the dying light of day. Below him, rush hour traffic rushed north and south. He checked his pockets, pulling out its meager contents. Today, he had five dollars and fifty-three cents to his name, barely enough to buy him a bowl of pho, the flavorful Vietnamese noodle soup that could be found in just about every neighborhood here in Seattle. It certainly didn’t leave him enough for shelter for the night.

That was okay.

He was free.

He would find a doorway in Belltown, the close-to downtown neighborhood, and curl up in layers of fleece and denim, and perhaps tomorrow would dawn a brighter day—and a more prosperous one.

He began trudging away from the waterfront and toward the market and Post Alley, looking forward to being away from his makeshift workplace, to eating some pho, and finding a quiet place where he could sleep for a while.

The walk toward food and possible shelter was all uphill and Beau wished he had not left it so late to attempt to find either. Quickly, as it did in winter, the sun beat a hasty retreat behind the mountains, barely noticeable anyway behind its thick shield of dark clouds—and now it had fallen to dull dark, the only illumination the artificial lights of the city.

Beau squared his broad shoulders, looking forward to sitting down for a while in the little Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Bac, near the downtown Greyhound station. He could practically taste the savory, star-anise flavored broth as he trudged uphill toward downtown, imagining the steaming noodles wrapped around chopsticks, the Thai basil, bean sprouts, and mint leaves floating in the soup, the tender pieces of beef tendon.

Simple thoughts like these kept him going, kept his mind off the ache in his shoulders and back from lugging around virtually everything he owned.

He was so focused on food, as hungry people often are, that he didn’t notice the two strangers trailing him. They were young men about Beau’s own age, but lacking his delicate, fragile, yet manly grace and beauty. These two were thugs, apparent in the cockiness of their walks, the fierceness of their frowns framed by dark stubble, and their attire, which leaned toward too-baggy jeans, hoodies, and heavy, steel-toed boots.
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