In this re-issue of The Butcher's Son by Dorien Grey, Dick Hardesty is pressed into service when someone starts burning down gay bars all over town and the police chief (nicknamed "the butcher") shrugs the whole thing off. Then drag queens and female impersonators get into the act and Dick is required to sleuth out who is hot and who is not. From the first of the Dick Hardesty series.
The Butcher's Son
Zumaya Boundless; 2nd edition (December 29, 2012)
As hard as it is for me to remember, sometimes, I haven’t always been a private investigator. None of us starts life doing what we end up doing, of course, but how we get where we are instead of someplace else is often pretty fascinating to contemplate. Now, in my case…
But we were hanging in there, putting on the good old “perfect couple” routine whenever anyone else was around and working on matching ulcers when they weren’t. I was up to two-and-a-half packs of cigarettes a day and rising; Chris was devoting considerable time to adding to his swizzle-stick collection. All in all, a real fun time.
Chris was always a lot more into bars than I was, so it wasn’t unusual for him to go out by himself, though I noted that lately he’d been going out a lot more than normal. We did hold to our Saturday-night-out-to-dinner tradition though, after which we’d stop in at the Ebony Room, a nice little neighborhood bar close to home, for a nightcap. This particular night, however, Chris suggested we go to a new bar he’d found, Bacchus’ Lair, which he said had a great drag show. I should have put “great” in quotes, since I was never much for drag, but Chris got a kick out of it, so we went.
I should also point out that this was after Stonewall, but not all that much, and the community hadn’t completely gotten its act together in most cities. Blatant homophobia was the attitude of choice for most police forces, and ours was particularly noted for its less-than-tolerant methods. It was also a solid source of income for the city—bust a gay bar, haul in 30 or 40 gays too scared or too poor to fight it, charge them with “lewd and lascivious conduct,” drop the charges down to “disturbing the peace” and slap a $350 fine for a “no contest” plea. The city was happy; the police were happy; the lawyers were happy. The gays weren’t happy, but who cared?
Bacchus’ Lair was located in a former loft upstairs over a discount furniture store on the edge of skid row. A lot of gay bars were in this area, probably partly because of the lower rents, and the smaller likelihood that neighbors would complain about the clientele. Bacchus’ Lair was decorated in Early Flamboyant—tables the size of dinner plates, purple tablecloths, purple carpet, purple stage curtains, wall fixtures with dangly globs of plastic that I suppose the management thought looked like grapes. Wall niches with little gold cherubs shouldering platters of plastic grapes. Oh, and a cover charge. And a two-watered-down-drink minimum. But you got to keep the little purple umbrellas that came with them.
Additional excerpt posted 3/9/09.
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