Monday, May 26, 2014

Boystown 6: From the Ashes, a nick nowak novel excerpt by Marshall Thornton

In Boystown 6: From the Ashes by Marshall Thornton, it's winter 1984, and Private Investigator Nick Nowak has allowed his life to fall to pieces: he's stopped taking cases, lost his apartment and works as a bartender at a sleazy bar tucked under the El. All he wants to do is lick his wounds after the death of his lover, Detective Bert Harker. But, when the least likely person in the world shows up and asks him to take a new case he finds himself investigating the very un-suspicious heart attack death of a priest. Nick is convinced he's wasting his time until the clues begin to add up to.

Boystown 6: From the Ashes
MLR Press (May 23, 2014)
ISBN: 1-608209422 (print)
           1-020140247 (ebook)


St. Fortunata’s was the last place I ever wanted to go again. Aside from the fact that it barely looked like a Catholic church—it was modern and square, with a flat roof that was cocked at a jaunty angle to leave room for a sliver of stained glass—it was also the place where Harker’s funeral had been held.

I called ahead and found out that they had a six o’clock mass, which the pious could squeeze in between work and their favorite primetime sitcoms. I arrived at six forty-five. My workday had ended at five; I worked a twelve-hour shift five days a week. For that I was paid eight regular hours and four hours of free booze. Ludlow seemed to think this worked out better for him but I had trouble figuring out exactly how. The overtime hours would have been about seven dollars and fifty cents per. There were days when I managed to swill more than that in Johnnie Walker Red . That day I’d extended my shift by about an hour then stumbled my way through three different bus lines getting to the church. It might have been faster if I’d walked.

The congregation, weekday light, trickled out slowly. When I figured they were done, I stubbed out my cigarette and walked in. Just inside, I was confronted with the holy font. It stood there, sleek and modern. Like something you’d see in a bad sci-fi movie depicting a future that won’t happen. The last time I was there, I’d used the font by rote. This time I gave it the cold shoulder, walking by it into the nave. The pews were empty now. No one was there but a young priest wearing green robes with a white sash. He was returning the sacraments to the red velvet-lined boxes they were kept in.

As I walked up the aisle, he heard my footsteps and turned. His face was something of a surprise. Instead of the angelic look one might expect of a young priest, he was rough around the edges. Fair skinned, freckled, his short hair almost red. He had a broken tooth in front, and he hadn’t managed to shave very well. The overall look of him suggested that if he couldn’t win a back alley fight he’d at least hold his own.

He put down the chalice and stepped off the altar. As he walked toward me, I became very conscious of the fact that I smelled of stale scotch, cigarettes, and sweat from my shift at Irving’s. I hoped against hope that there was some trace of the Polo I’d put on about fourteen hours before.

The priest said, “I hope you’re here to sign up for altar boy. I can’t find much help during the week.”

“It’s a little late in the game for that, Father.”

“I could bend a few rules.” He smiled wanly and I felt a tug I didn’t want to feel. I was trying to get rid of the feeling when he asked, “What are you here for? I’m afraid you’ve just missed mass.”

I blushed. The whole thing was stupid and I was about to embarrass myself. “I’ve been asked to look into the death of Father Maniatis.”

He frowned. “Father Mani— Oh, you mean, Father Connie.”

“I do?”

“Yes, the Reverend Constantine Maniatis. He liked being called Father Connie. This isn’t his parish, though.” He looked me over closely, his eyes questioning.

“I’m sorry. My, um, client, I thought she went to this church. Her son’s funeral was here.” Mentally, I kicked myself. I’d made an assumption and it was wrong. If I was going to do this, I shouldn’t be doing it half-assed.

“It’s not always possible to have ceremonies in a parishioner’s home church,” he explained. “Scheduling conflicts, things like that. St. Fortunata is often used when the crowd is expected to be small.”

I glanced around. St. Fortunata had room for hundreds. But compared to St. Mary of Perpetual Help, the church I’d grown up in, it was miniscule. If Mrs. Harker’s home parish was any one of the grand old churches around Chicago I could see why she moved Harker’s funeral. She would never have wanted it to seem sparsely attended.

“And you are?” I asked.

“Reverend Joseph Biernacki.”

He reached out his hand and I shook it. He raised his eyebrows and kept them up until I complied with, “Nick Nowak.” He kept shaking my hand, refusing to take his eyes off mine. We played chicken for a long moment. He looked away and I won.

It surprised me that men still took an interest in me. I was thinner than I’d ever been and at six foot three felt like I’d begun to resemble a telephone pole. My eyes were an indecisive hazel with crow’s feet stomped around the edges. My hair was too long, too curly, and dark with a few strands of gray. I still had my mustache and forgot to shave often enough that people frequently asked if I was growing a beard. Every so often one of the drunks at Irving’s would tell me to smile. I suppose it’s saying something that in a place like that I was known as glum.

“Do you go by Father Joey?” I asked, taking back my hand.

“No, I don’t. Are you Catholic?”


“Joseph is fine then. Father Joseph if you’re tempted to rejoin the flock.”

I couldn’t help but smirk a little. My whole family would have been horrified by a remark like his, and would have set about cursing Vatican II and all its ill effects. In their mind, saints and sinners alike were to show respect to a priest whether he expected it or not.

“Did you know Father Connie?” I asked.

“Mostly I knew of him. We’d met. Several times. He’s been at St. Boniface the Martyr for the last two years, I think. I don’t know where he was before that.” It seemed redundant to tag “the Martyr” onto St. Boniface’s name. As far as I knew, all saints were martyrs.

“Where is that?” I asked.

Lincoln Square. Lots of Germans,” he said, as if it was supposed to mean something to me. Then he added, “St. Boniface is the patron saint of Germany.” That was one of the things I liked about Catholicism. Everyone got a saint. Not that I could ever remember which one was supposed to be mine.

“Thanks,” I said and began to walk out of the church.

Behind me, Joseph said, “I have some coffee in the back.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“I said I have coffee in the back. You’ve been drinking.”

“Yes, I have. And I’m not finished.”

“All right, then.” Illogically, he smiled. “I hear confession on Saturday from twelve thirty to four.”

I walked back to him and got close, too close. “You want me to tell you my sins?” I asked, with a flirtatious turn in my voice.

“If you decide you’d like to take communion, yes.”

Twelve thirty to four, huh? You’re going to need to set aside more time.”

And with a dirty smile, I left.

For excerpts from other books in The Boystown Series, see 11/8/10, 12/26/11, 4/30/12, and 5/27/13

To purchase from MLR, click
To purchase from Amazon, click

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Noblest Vengeance excerpt by Neil Plakcy

In The Noblest Vengeance, the latest in The Have Body, Will Guard series by Neil Plakcy, partners Aidan and Liam are deeply in love, living as expatriates in Nice, France. When Aidan’s distant cousins in Istanbul need protection from dangerous adversaries he and Liam are on the next plane to Turkey – but the real danger to their relationship may come from their very different ideas about family connections. Can their love withstand assassins with a deadly secret to keep hidden – and Liam’s foul-mouthed mother?

The Noblest Vengeance
Loose-Id (May 12, 2014)
ISBN: 978-1-62300-763-8


Aidan Greene was so engrossed in the pictures on the laptop screen that he didn’t even notice his partner come up behind him. “What are you looking at?” Liam asked, looking over his shoulder. Their small mixed-breed dog, Hayam, hopped up from her place beside Aidan’s foot and snuffled hello to her other daddy.

“Pictures of my cousin’s son’s bar mitzvah.” Aidan pointed at the screen. “That’s my Aunt Sophia, my cousin Ellen, and her husband Gary.”

“Facebook,” Liam said, noting the heading on the screen. “For people with too much time on their hands.”

It was an argument they had been having for a while. Since they had moved to Nice, where they had regular, fast Internet service, Aidan had begun connecting with old friends and family online, mostly through Facebook. After nearly two years away from the United States he was feeling a bit nostalgic for his old life.

“It’s not a waste of time,” Aidan protested. With his parents both dead, all he had left were a mix of aunts, uncles, and cousins. When he lived in Philadelphia for a dozen years after college, he saw family often. Reading their online profiles and seeing their pictures made him realize that it had been a long time since he’d seen any of them in the flesh.

It made him sad to keep missing family events—an uncle’s funeral, the birth and bris of a cousin’s son, and so many other small rituals.

“All that social media stuff is for losers,” Liam said.

“So your sister Jeanne is a loser?” Aidan asked. “She’s on Facebook. Did you know that her dog died last week? And your other sister, Franny? She’s been posting videos of your nephew’s softball games on YouTube. Not to mention Joey Sheridan—he’s got a Pinterest page with photos of his workouts.”

“Why are you looking at my family and friends?” Liam demanded. “What they do is none of your business.”

“Excuse me?” Aidan said. “Joey’s not my friend too? You ever asked him that?” Joey was an old friend of Liam’s, still a SEAL. He had visited them when they lived in Tunis and contrary to Liam’s expectations been fine to discover that his old buddy was romantically involved with another man. “And your family has nothing to do with me?”

“My family doesn’t even know you exist. And I’d like to keep it that way.”

Aidan stood up from the computer and confronted him. “Why? Do I embarrass you? Am I too gay?”

Hayam scurried toward the bedroom, her toenails clicking on the tile floor. “You are when you act like a drama queen,” Liam said. “My personal life is my own.”

Aidan shook his head. “You really are clueless, you know that? I am your personal life. I cook your meals and do your laundry and suck your dick. It doesn’t get more personal than that, pal.” Aidan pushed his palm against his partner’s chest. Liam was wearing a cotton T-shirt, and through the fabric Aidan could feel the warmth of his partner’s skin, the sinewy muscle beneath it.

Liam grabbed his wrist and turned it—enough to immobilize Aidan, not to hurt him. But Aidan knew that grip and how to rotate his arm so that his elbow bounced against Liam’s six-pack, startling him enough to release it.

Then they were wrestling in the middle of the living room, knocking aside chairs and the coffee table, each of them struggling to master the other. Aidan knew he was doomed to lose; Liam was so much bigger than he was, more muscular, with years of SEAL training. But for the past two years he had been exercising and learning the moves Liam used.

Anger was always a good workout tool for them. The adrenaline coursing through Aidan’s veins made him stronger and more agile. And he wasn’t above playing dirty, either. He reached up under Liam’s T-shirt, caught one of his partner’s nipple rings in his fingers, and twisted.

Liam yelped and pressed his stiff dick against Aidan’s thigh. Liam knew Aidan’s weakness—he was a horn dog, ready for sex after a single touch. And Liam was quite willing to exploit that. As Aidan wiggled to escape, Liam leaned down and kissed him hard, and Aidan gave up, melting into his touch.

With one meaty hand, Liam reached around and slapped Aidan’s butt, hard. “That’ll teach you,” he growled when he broke the kiss. “Don’t fuck around with me.”

“Seems like that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Aidan said, panting slightly. “Fucking around.” He reached down and stroked Liam’s dick through his silky gym shorts.

Liam released his grip on Aidan and stepped back. “No, just teaching you a lesson,” he said. “Now come on, we’ve got to get ready. We have a client today, remember?”

“Liam,” Aidan said, dragging the name out. “You’re not going to leave me here like this, are you?” He pointed down to where his dick pressed against his own shorts. He could feel a wet spot growing on his boxers.

“I’m going to take a shower,” Liam said. He pulled his T-shirt up over his head, exposing his bulging chest and improbably narrow waist. Then he dropped his shorts to the floor, leaving him clad only in his white jockstrap. His dick, stiff as well, pushed the pouch forward. “You can stay here. Or you can join me.”
He pushed the jockstrap down, and his dick pronged out. He stepped nimbly out of the waistband and raised it to twirl on one finger.

“I’m right behind you,” Aidan said.

For additional excerpts from The Have Body, Will Guard series, see entries for this blog on 7/16/12 and 8/16/10.


Groceries and Mink

(Flash fiction from the world of The Have Body, Will Guard series - a small excerpt that got dropped from the book The Noblest Vengeance)

It was a cold winter day in New Jersey, and gray clouds hung low over the Pathmark parking lot as Aidan and his mother got out of the car. She had worn her mink coat despite the ordinariness of the errand. She loved that coat, which seemed to represent to her some pinnacle of achievement. She had a diamond engagement ring and a diamond wedding band, and now a mink coat. She was, in the Yiddish word she often used, a balaboosteh – a perfect specimen of Jewish wife and mother.

Aidan trailed behind her through the aisles, sullen because he’d been roused from sleep that Sunday morning to help his mother with the shopping. They loaded their cart with the staples of suburban life: toilet paper, frozen dinners, a whole chicken, a bag of baking potatoes. The cart grew heavier and harder to push the farther they penetrated into the store.

Aidan’s mother was a coupon-clipper, and she paused from aisle to aisle checking the small accordion file that held her coupons, arranged alphabetically. Aidan drummed his fingers impatiently on the cart handle.

At the register, as Aidan stood ready to bag the groceries, his mother handed a fistful of coupons to the cashier.

The woman behind her snorted and said, “Coupons and a mink coat!”

Aidan’s mother turned and said, in her most regal voice, “This is how I could afford the mink.”

The story had become one of those that were trotted out periodically, and the lesson Aidan had learned was that even if you had enough money to afford luxuries, you still ought to watch your spending. By the time he had reached his late thirties, both his parents long gone, it was a way of remembering who he was and where he had come from. And even though he brought his own rolling basket to the epicerie in Nice, where they’d never heard of coupons, he often felt his mother watching over his shoulder as he shopped.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Plain of Bitter Honey excerpt by Alan Chin

The Plain of Bitter Honey represents a dramatic turn in Alan’s writing. It is a futuristic story of two brothers, one straight and one gay, who battle a corrupt government and each other. This is a tale of survival, of devotion, of love, of finding deliverance and atonement.

This novel is a finalist in the 2014 ForeWord Review Book of the Year Award in the Science Fiction and has received a fistful of Five-Star reviews.  This is what Bob Lind, the reviewer for Echo Magazine, had to say about it:
I've said in the past that Alan Chin is my favorite author, and that is still the case with this new book. It is best described as a sci-fi/speculative/political novel, so unlike any of his previous works I have seen, and he handles the genre with mastery. The story is action-packed, well-constructed and expertly told, with a diverse, developed cast of gay and straight characters working together in situations that risks not only their lives, but perhaps the future of this country. Bravo … five stars out of five.

The Plain of Bitter Honey
Published by Bold Strokes Books (June, 2013)
ISBN: 9781602829220

[Twins Aaron and Hayden Swann are fighting a corrupt government taken over by ultra right-wing Fundamentalist Christians in 2055 America. Each brother fights in his own way, Aaron with bullets, Hayden with words. Then one night their world is turned upside down when they are caught in a government sting and they must both flee north into the badlands between San Francisco and Canada, where the only safe haven is a place called The Plain of Bitter Honey, a refuge where heads of the Resistance operate. But the brothers don’t know that government agents are tracking them to the hiding place of the Resistance. Can they find the inner strength to survive?]


The whine of hydraulic motors filled the compartment. The back door crept opened and the front began to rise.

Now came the dicey part. As trash spilled out of the container, they all had to fight their way to the top of the heap so they didn’t end up crushed under tons of garbage, and they had to do it silently—one scream and the armed guards in the cab would be on them. Thankfully, Gideon jumped to Aaron’s aid to help haul Hayden to the top. As the container’s angle grew sharp, the trash picked up speed sliding out the rear.

They rode the debris out, like surfing a wave.

The grade was steep and the brothers tumbled down along with the other freedom fighters. When they came to rest, Aaron still clutched his brother to his chest. Wet, putrid waste piled over them, enough to give them cover until the truck sped away.

Aaron waited until he heard the clang of the truck doors lock shut and the whine of the engine fade. He shook off the trash and pulled Hayden onto his shoulders.

Others scrambled to find the food and equipment scattered among the debris.

Aaron stumbled across a field of waste to lay his brother down in the shade of some cottonwood trees. He dashed back and dug though the rubbish to find his backpack, food and automatic weapon. He worked fast, knowing other trucks would soon show up to dump more refuse, and as soon as the trucks stopped for the day, the Caliban would arrive to scour the heap for anything edible. They had precious little time to gather the equipment and flee the area.

Within twenty minutes, they had assembled a pile of backpacks, blankets, tin cookware, canned food and jugs of water. It only took a few minutes to divvy up the load and pack. Everybody shouldered his or her load while Aaron hauled Hayden onto his back again.

Aaron stared at his pack propped against a tree, realizing that he couldn’t carry both Hayden and the pack, and everyone else was already weighed down. He flashed on its contents—family pictures, mother’s jewelry, childhood keepsakes, a few cherished books Hayden had acquired on the black market, the false passport, and the three hundred thousand dollars. He picked up his rifle, turned and lunged away, leaving the pack. 

Gideon took the point, leading them single file toward the foothills below Mt. Tam. As they left the area, they crossed a well-used path. Beside the trampled grass, Aaron noticed a patched-together signpost that read: To Vancouver, 800 scenic miles.

Aaron wondered whether this was the result of well-meant, wishful thinking or whether someone was making a joke. In any case, the sign stood like a beacon, daring all to proceed at their own risk.

They moved fast and stayed under cover as much as possible, but hadn’t gone a mile before Aaron began to lag behind. The average weight of the backpacks was seventy pounds; Hayden weighed one-eighty-five. 

Aaron struggled with every step.

He realized he could not keep up.

It became a nightmare. His head bowed and body bent under Hayden’s mass, Aaron lurched over rocks and small obstacles. The pain of his pinched toes had become sharp. He was a fool not to have picked better-fitting boots, and he was paying the price for his stupidity. As he stumbled across the open country, the pain crept from feet to his shins, to his knees. Aaron was in serious trouble. He would never make Canada, but he could go on for a while longer. He would stumble on as long as he could, and just hope someone else would take Hayden when he was done in.

Occasionally he heard a grunt or a voice, but everyone trudged along silently for the most part. Having been raised in the city, amidst a constant barrage of noise from traffic and crowds, this silence was unexpected, and frightening.

Once he thought he heard footsteps behind him. He stopped and half-turned, his ears and eyes straining, but he saw nothing. He only heard his own panting and the sound of his heart pounding.

He hurried on, mindful of the uneven path. If he broke a leg now, it meant certain death. He fell further behind until Gideon stopped the others under the cover of trees.

Aaron struggled to catch up. When he collapsed in the midst of the group, they were deep in debate. 

“We need to move fast and hard,” Cooper said. “If Aaron can’t keep up hauling his brother, we leave him.”
Weary, Aaron could smell their fear. He checked to make sure Hayden was breathing okay, and crawled to his feet.

 “Nobody gets left behind,” Gideon growled. “Now that we’re away from the dump, we need to move carefully and with intelligence, not fast and stupid.”

Cooper shook his head and Maggie spoke for the first time, “Coop’s right. I’m sorry about what happened to Hayden, but right now he’s an anchor. I’m not risking my life to save him.” She glared at Aaron.

If it were anyone but Hayden, he’d be the one insisting they leave him behind.

“All right,” Aaron said between gasps for breath. “I won’t beg you to stay with Hayden and me. Anybody who thinks I’m putting them at risk can leave us behind, and best of luck to you.” On our own, he thought, we don’t have a prayer.

“Listen up,” Gideon said, peering at Aaron. “I’m sticking with Aaron. If you want to live, you’d better damn well stick with us.”

Maggie took two steps toward Gideon. He didn’t flinch as she said, “You have a map of how to get to The Plain of Bitter Honey. Make me a copy.”

How she knew that information, Aaron had no idea, but he was not surprised. She was the smart one, and did her research.

“Too dangerous. If the Caliban gets their hands on that map, Bitter Honey would be wiped out. I won’t take that chance.”

The Armenian raised his sidearm level with Gideon’s head and clicked off the safety.

“Give her the map,” the Armenian hissed, “or I’ll take it off your dead body.”

“One shot and you’ll draw everyone within five miles down on us.”

The Armenian took a step toward Gideon, bringing the muzzle to within an inch of Gideon’s head.

Everybody froze. Gideon reached for his inside coat pocket.

“Slowly,” the Armenian snarled.

Gideon produced a map and held it out. “If you even suspect you’re being followed, eat it. You cannot let the Caliban get hold if it.”

Maggie snatched it from his fingers.  Aaron stepped closer, until he could see the drawing himself. It was indeed a map of the Pacific Northwest, done in pencil outlining the coastline with little triangles showing the mountain ranges. A compass sat in the top right-hand corner. At the top was a line and above it a word: Canada. But in the middle, within the triangles along the coastline near the California/Oregon border, was a small black dot with the words ‘Plain of BH’ under it.

She folded it back up and stuffed it inside her shirt.

Aaron couldn’t believe she was making such a stupid blunder. Leaving Gideon to go it on her own was madness. It revealed how scared she and the others were. It’s because we let them think they were going south, he thought. We should have let them know the minute we agreed to evacuate everyone who could have been identified. We sprung this run for Canada on them at the last moment, but they needed time to get used to the idea. It was too quick.

“Whoever is coming with me,” she said, “saddle up. I want to be on the other side of Mount Tam by sundown.”

With the Armenian continuing to hold his gun on Gideon, everyone except Liam and the Mexican girl shouldered a pack. Moments later, they trotted away at a fast clip, traveling due north.

“Thanks for sticking with us,” Aaron said, nodding in Liam’s direction as well, “but what the hell can we do without a map?”

“I don’t need it,” Gideon spat. “I’ve been there enough times. I made that stinking map to give to you in case something happens to me. Let’s move out. We’ll skirt around the west side of Tam. We hike single file. Walk in my footprints. No talking; we communicate with hand signals. We take it slow and we zigzag so it’s more difficult for them to trail us.”

“Are the Caliban as fearsome as people claim?” Liam asked. “I mean, I always thought that the rumors were government propaganda to keep us afraid.”

“I don’t know about you,” Gideon answered, “but I don’t plan to find out.”

Everyone nodded. Aaron asked Gideon why he chose to stay with him and Hayden.

“You risked your life to save your brother, and you wouldn’t leave him.”


“So you showed me you can be counted on. Out here that’s everything.”

Aaron didn’t ask why Liam and Juanita stayed. Sticking with Gideon was the smart move.

“What about the others?” Aaron said, looking up the trail they had taken.

“Forget them. They’re already dead.”

For another excerpt from Alan Chin'sThe Plain of Bitter Honey see the blog entry fro June3, 2013.  Other novels by Alan Chin include Island Song, The Lonely War, Match Maker, Butterfly’s Child, Butterfly’s Child Daddy’s Money, Simple Treasures, The Plain of Bitter Honey

To purchase (available in both ebook and paperback formats, click

Monday, May 5, 2014

Always Looking excerpt by Mykola Dementiuk

Always Looking by Mykola Dementiuk begins, "I started going out early with girls and guys, not for sex because at that age, who the hell knew what sex was?"

With those words, Danny's coming-of-age begins. From the gloomy, stifling hallways of high school in the 1960's to the vast expanse of 1970's New York, young Danny explores the complexities of love and lust in the arms of Luba, a girl he believes himself in love with, and then in the company of various men, from whom he learns his true nature.

Raised by a poor, single mother whose upcoming marriage to a second husband threatens Danny's shaky world, Danny finds that accepting -- and ultimately embracing -- the unpredictability and promise of his future means letting go of the past and taking the leap of faith he knows he needs in his journey to maturity.

Always Looking
JMS Books (January 13, 2013)


Chapter 6

Months passed into years and faded behind me. High school had become an ugly memory, but still I kept prowling the streets, always looking, always alert, and always ready. Luba’s closeness soon faded into jobs and other interests, but I still saw her every now and then. We’d make out in the East River Parkgetting a hand-job or a finger-fuck, and go back to our little lives before we’d meet again. I’d have a job for a little while or not have a job at all. I’d be living at home or not even be there at all; everything meant the same to me. All I did on a constant basis was just walk, which I did every day. My favorite place, amongst many, was Central Park, that lush and immense parkland of strollers, walkers and chronic masturbators, of which I now was one.

Central Park in the mornings is a desolate area peopled by only a few walkers making their way to work; it is not a time for idle strolling unless you have other things in mind, which I certainly did…

It was around 70th Street or so, as I passed a few people walking their dogs near the baseball fields, when I saw him: a seated man, his legs stretched before him, clutching his crotch, outlining the bulky penis within. I turned red but strolled nearer yet somewhat slower than before, looking at what the man was doing, rubbing himself. Our eyes met, and he winked at me, still holding onto his crotch. What could I do? I winked back at him, slightly rubbing my own crotch. I approached his bench and looked at him again. I blushed.

“You have another cigarette?” I quietly asked, looking down at his shirt pocket and the pack sticking out but really looking down at his bulky crotch.

He nodded. “I do,” he answered, “but what do I get in return?” And all the while he kept rubbing the large bulge in his pants as my mouth hung open.

At another time and place I would have told him, “Fuck you, asshole!” and stalked out of there, but instead I fell to his bench and leered at him.

“This…” I answered, looking around but grabbing his crotch. “Can I have one, please?”
From where did I get the audacity to do that? What bold nerves did I have or was I just a plain horny hard-up faggot?

It was a big meaty muscle I felt, certain that he was as erect as could be, but under my hand, it only grew bigger and larger. I was very impressed by the size of his stiffening prick. He slowly reached in his pocket and pulled out a pack of Viceroy cigarettes, drawing one out.

“You want it in your mouth, don’t you, baby?” He straightened his leg. “You want to kiss and suck it…?”

If he hadn’t said what he did at that moment, I might have gone and lost myself in the emotions I was feeling and followed them to the natural course of events as they were leading me to do something to him. But his words “You want it in your mouth…” jarred me to wakeful remembrance, and the reality of what I was doing couldn’t be denied. I was feeling a hard-up man, like the man in the subway restroom many years ago. I ejaculated, contorting on the bench, lost in the feelings of peace and satisfaction. I sat bolt upright, letting go of his covered penis.

“What the fuck?” he muttered as I ran deeper into the park.
Oh no, why was it happening again?

Chapter 7

Down the paths I fled, gagging and belching, sweat pouring over me. It was certain I was a dirty faggot—no question about that. Again I spat out and belched again. Oh Christ, what is wrong with me? But I did ask him for a cigarette. That was all. I was reaching for a cigarette, I imagined, and the dirty faggot tricked me. You have to watch it in the park; the faggots are everywhere.  I collapsed onto a bench and looked out on the still waters of the Central Park Lake. It was early morning, and the rowboats where still docked at the boathouse. A few people walked along in the distance. Nearby a fancily made-up woman who was smoking a cigarette, her hair high on her head, her bosom puffed out, clad in white trousers and high-heels, walked a little dog that seemed it didn’t want to go anywhere.

“Fifi, what is wrong with you?” she squealed at the puppy, “Mommy doesn’t have all day, you know.”

I instantly bent down to the little dog.

“Hey, puppy,” I said waving my fingers at him.

“Woof, woof!” it squeaked, darting away and getting tangled in the woman’s legs.

She spun around, shaking the dog and chain, tossing her half-smoked cigarette away.

“Fifi, stop that!”

“Woof, woof!”

She got a hold of the dog, and I sat smiling, looking at the woman also bending down to her puppy.

“How old is the little puppy?” I asked, still twirling my fingers at the dog.

The woman looked at me and reached for another cigarette.  “Next week she will be one year,” she said, stooping down and picking up Fifi in her arms. She hugged the little puppy, which responded by trying to lick her face. “Eww!” The woman shrieked and quickly bent down, setting the dog back on the ground. “Bad dog, Fifi. Bad, bad dog!” She shook her head and lit the cigarette. I bit my lips.

“You have another one?”

She looked at me but held out the open pack to me.  Salem; there were four or five remaining. I took one, as she held out the matches to me.

“You live around here?” she asked.

I shook my head, blowing out the smoke.

“No, ma’am, I live downtown.” The menthol smoke was a bit repulsive, but I didn’t let on.

“Hmm, downtown, what’s that? The Lower East Side?”

I nodded.

“Yes, ma’am, I was just out walking, you know?” and winked at her.

She snorted and shook her head.

“Long walk,” she said, and picked up her little puppy and started back on the walkway.

“Don’t go,” I feebly muttered, but she walked quickly without turning back to look at me and disappeared from sight on the trail. I sat smoking her menthol cigarette. Salem, I read the name and flung the half-smoked butt into the Lake.

Chapter 8

It was early afternoon when I walked near the Central Park Zoo, a carousel spinning round as merry thumping music played. When I was a kid a few times my parents had taken me for a ride on one of the carousel ponies—I think that green one?  No, that yellow one? Oh, what the hell, I can’t remember. I chuckled and sat down to watch the kids going round and round.

A few people sat on the benches, happily looking after their kids then getting up and going to them as the ride ended. At the far end of the benches sat a man, seemingly reading a paperback, but all the while glancing up at the kids or whoever passed him by. I know that look, I thought, turning very red: a flaming faggot, that was what he was. I sat a while, trying to adjust the hard-on in my pants, then got up and started walking in his direction.

Oh no, what am I doing? It had been a few hours since I last tried it, and here I am again, trying to entice a man. I’m nothing but a filthy faggot, but this had been going on for years—in the parks, in the restrooms, doing it, but then fleeing as if nothing happened. I wanted to shake my head, but I just stared at him as I drew nearer.

He was an older man than the other was, and it seemed that he would read a few sentences, all the while looking up as if he was awaiting someone. I neared him, turning to my left to take a seat on his bench. The man sat up, uncrossing his legs and turning to his side. I sat down. He nodded, and I nodded back. It didn’t seem as if he had been smoking; I made no mention of it.

“Nice day,” he said.

I nodded.

“Sure is, too nice to be indoors.”

This time he nodded.

“You from around here?” he asked.

I knew what to say. I wasn’t going to admit anything, not like with the woman and her stupid dog.

“Near here, but not very far way, either.”

He looked at me.

“Nice,” he said, nodding his head. “I like to meet boys from this area. What street do you live on?”

I instantly thought about Haaren HS on 59th Street and knew there were some brownstones on the next block.

“60th and 10th,” I lied, “You?”

He winked and nodded.

“Also near here, 75th and Madison.”

I smirked.

“We’re practically neighbors.”

He giggled.

“Right you are, neighbors…”

He sat holding his book, thinking and looking at me.

“What you reading?” I asked, gesturing to his book, “Anything interesting?”

He looked at the cover and shrugged, holding out the book to me.  “It’s okay, but not as good as the old movie, you ever see it?”

I got up, took a few steps closer, and joined him on the bench, taking the book from him. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. “Kidnapping, pornography, seduction,” read the back cover.

“Yeah, that’s a movie, too,” I said, handing back his book.

“But I’ve never seen it,” I winked. “But I sure do like that bit about pornography, you know what I mean?”

He looked at me and then glanced at his book.

“You know, next week The Big Sleep will be playing up at the Paris Cinema, that movie house on 59th Street that shows old films. You ever been there?”

I shook my head.

“No, never have.”

“Oh, but you should see it. It’s a classic with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. You should go,” he looked at me as if thinking of something. “Here, read the book,” he said, handing over the Chandler novel. “Perhaps if we live so close to each other we can meet and go to the Paris Theater together. It’s on 59th Street off 5th Avenue. You ever been there?”

Again I shook my head and watched him closely.

“Perhaps.” I shrugged. “Next week you say?” He nodded. “Okay, I’ll meet you there.”

He brightened.  “Oh, goodie, it will be like our first date.” He clutched my hand, giving it a nice gentle squeeze. “I’m so happy. By the way, what’s your name? I’m Phillip.”

I snorted, frowning and shaking my head.  “Danny,” I told him, narrowing my eyes. “But it’s not our date. I’m not a queer. Did you think I was a queer?”

He let go of me. “You aren’t? I was sure you were one, but you certainly look like one.”

I was angry.

“You’re crazy and sick,” I said, waving my arm at him and standing up. “Forget I gave you my name. You’re a perv, goodbye.”

“I’m dreadfully sorry,” he pleaded, reaching out for me. “I didn’t know it was like your first time, forgive me. Forget I ever mentioned queers. Very sorry, let’s start all over, okay?”

I stood a moment, looking at him, and dropped to the bench again.

“You have a cigarette?” I angrily asked.

He shook his head.

“Oh, no, those things are dreadful,” he said, and winked.  “I’d rather be sucking something else, if you know what I mean?”

I smirked and shook my head.  “Yeah, I do, you’re queer.”

He nodded. “Yes but you and I are like two peas in a pod. Apart, we’re nothing, but together, we grow into a blooming garden. All we need is a little tenderness and love. Don’t you think so, sweetie?”

And he blinked at me and again tried reaching for my hand. In the near distance the carousel started up again, but this time not many people were on it, just a few frightened little kids with their caregivers standing close by them and waving them on. I did nothing as his hand moved over mine and settled on my crotch, giving me a firm squeeze. By then I had already melted from his closeness, responding more to what was going to occur in the movie house as we watched the old film he was planning to see. I did not care that he gripped my dick and balls, ready for anything, when I felt it: that sudden and quick gyrating spasm in the pit of my belly and was soon rushing frantically upwards. I ejaculated, clamping my eyes shut, my body shaking and shivering with pleasure. I looked about me; he was staring right at me with his hand on my covered but quickly dwindling penis.  How could this be happening, I wondered, and right out in the open? I pushed his hand off and jumped up.

“Gotta go,” I said, holding out his book.

“Go where?” he asked, not taking the book. “Read it. We have a date next week at the Paris, Wednesday at noon time.  Now don’t forget,” he called after me.

But I had hurried away on the trail, half-running, half-walking, and tapping his book on my leg, fleeing from the park.