Chapter 27 …

Don't believe it?  Click on this image for more ...

At some level all of us know we’re going to die. But for most of us, most the time, death seems distant, something far away in the future. Knowing that makes the task of getting on with life easier.

But for those who were the first to contract the disease, living with AIDS must have been extraordinarily challenging indeed and that’s what I tried to capture a bit in last week’s chapter. And yet if the fear of death made living with AIDS hard, indifference made it harder still and that’s what the remaining chapters of our story will explore.

By the way, that image above doesn’t capture just how chilling that exchange was. You really have to listen to it to get the full effect. So I invite you to click on the image or follow this link and decide for yourself if you think I’m being too harsh in my assessment of Reagan and his political cronies as you read the remaining chapters.

For now, however, let’s briefly recap what we learned last week. For one thing, we learned Jimmy often disappeared into his room for hours on end to be by himself as the months passed.

Sensing Jimmy was pulling away, Jeff learned from Leo that Jimmy often prayed when he was alone. When he pursued the matter, Jeff also learned Jimmy had rediscovered the God of his youth, a fearsome, judgmental, God.

Is it any wonder then that Jimmy might conclude that he was destined to burn in Hell forever for his sins?

In an effort to help, Jeff asked around among his friends and was directed to a priest who worked at the Newman Center at American University. Having arranged to meet with Father Damien, Jeff was surprised at just how non-traditional the young priest was. Nonetheless, he sought his help.

At Jeff’s suggestion, Jimmy decided to go to confession. Jeff took him to a church across town where Father Damien sometimes helped out. Jimmy made his confession that evening and was surprised at just how kindly he was treated by Father Damien.

The chapter ended on a happier note, with Jimmy commenting on how much love and support he was receiving from those surrounding him. If nothing else, the chapter was an impressive demonstration of just how much Jeff loves Jimmy.

Putting aside his own personal beliefs (or non-belief in this case), he found a way to help Jimmy make peace with God; and he did so in a way that was an affirmation of everything people hope for in their savior.

Instead of a judgmental God ready to consign him to an eternity in Hell, Jimmy was introduced to a more forgiving and loving God.

Not every AIDS patient was as fortunate, of course.

Between bickering relatives, an often indifferent medical system, a Federal government that was actively hostile, and a disease that was cruel and horrific, many AIDS patients spent the final months of their lives dealing with agonizing conditions no human being should have to suffer.

Thanks for your leadership, Ronnie and Nancy. NOT!

In any event, I’ve posted Chapter 27. Let’s be thankful as the holidays approach that Jimmy has the support of loving friends.

Chapter 26

Love and sex ... similar but different somehow

One of the things we learned in last week’s chapter is that AIDS didn’t kill the longing for sex, at least not for Jeff. Or is Jeff confusing sex with the need for love and intimacy? Whatever the case may be and in spite of Jeff’s best efforts, the urge for something more only seemed to grow more powerful in the weeks that followed Jimmy’s return.

One of the ways the two tried to deal with this was by attending a couples counseling session at the Whitman Walker Clinic, a group Jeff found it difficult to participate in because he didn’t want Jimmy to know the effect his presence was having on Jeff.

But then one evening Jimmy wasn’t feeling well enough to join Jeff at their group session. Emboldened, Jeff joined into the conversation at last. In the ensuing discussion the subject of condoms came up.

Would they help prevent the transmission of AIDS? (Keep in mind the HIV virus itself had yet to be identified at the time).

By the way, in spite of my best efforts to do so, I was never able to determine exactly when gay men started using condoms for protection in real life back then. A lot of my sources had different recollections as to when people started doing that. If you can shed any light on the issue, let me know.

In any event, when Jeff asked whether anyone had put the question to the U.S. Surgeon General, Ned pointed out that the Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, was considered quite conservative. A mysterious stranger also added that the Surgeon General was being kept out of the loop on AIDS by Ronald Reagan’s political appointees.

I mention this because Koop would later go on to become a major player in the history of AIDS in the United States by endorsing the use of condoms, much to the distress of Reagan’s conservative supporters.

Not sure what to make of the evening’s discussion, Jeff raised the issue with Jimmy when he got back to the townhouse. That prompted a discussion in which Jimmy finally revealed for the first time that he had cheated with Bobbie; something that came as a shock to Jeff. How he cheated came as an even bigger shock.

While the two discussed the use of condoms, neither chose to pursue the matter at the end of the day. The fear of AIDS overwhelmed even the strongest of sexual urges back then, including for Jeff and Jimmy. But what about their need for love and intimacy? One wonders how they will deal with that in what remains of their time together.

As mentioned in this post at The Café, we’ll be finishing up the story by the middle of January. Tonight’s chapter, which I’ve now posted, is the first of what I hope will be a strong series of concluding chapters.

Chapter 25 …

fallow - adjective 1. (of land) plowed and left unseeded for a season or more; uncultivated

In last week’s chapter Jeff and Mark had a private discussion about what was best for Leo and agreed getting him back into school was the way to go. Mark promised to support Jeff’s efforts to do so while Jeff offered to help Mark find a better job.

In the weeks that followed both promises were fulfilled, with Leo enrolling in an alternative school on Capitol Hill while Mark found a new job with Jeff’s assistance in the congressional mailroom of one of Jeff’s gay friends.

If you were gay, it was all about networking even back then apparently; at least that’s what I’ve been told by those who contributed so much to this story.

Jeff was less successful in getting the medical appointments with prominent physicians he hoped would be better able to help Jimmy. As he soon discovered, most physicians were uninterested in treating patients with AIDS back then.

Instead, they would refer people to the handful of overworked doctors willing to do so. In the end, Jeff found himself spending more and more time arranging Jimmy’s medical care and getting him to his appointments and counseling sessions.

Indeed, Jeff and Jimmy eventually ended up in a counseling group aimed at helping couples deal with all the problems that came with AIDS.

Separately, Jeff decided to offer his resignation to his boss, Congressman Bresnahan, in the hope of spurring him to become more involved in the fight against AIDS. Though perhaps not the smartest strategy in the world, it apparently worked when the Congressman rejected Jeff’s resignation and promised to help.

Spurred into action, Jeff suggested to Tim and Susan that their bosses, Congressmen Wellman and Wilson, should take the lead in creating a new House AIDS Task Force to put more pressure on the Reagan Administration to do something about the burgeoning AIDS crisis. As part of that effort, he also proposed creating a staff working group for the Task Force.

To be co-chaired by Tim and Susan, the working group would do much of the actual work of the Task Force through three subcommittees; one focused on media outreach and public education, one on getting more members involved in the work of the Task Force, and a third focused on securing more funding.

Although that’s where we left things hanging last week, tonight’s chapter will take us back to a significant issue that both Jeff and Jimmy will struggle to deal with in the months ahead; Jeff more so perhaps.

Chapter 24 …

who is this and what's he looking at ...

Last week we introduced two new characters, Leo and Mark, and we’ll probably meet some others as the story unfolds. I mention this because our tale will be following a couple of different paths in the weeks ahead before we finish up around the end of the year and I turn my full-time attention to more important things.

Now that Jimmy and Jeff are living together again, we’ll be spending some time seeing how their relationship develops after seven years apart as well as what role AIDS will play in all of that. My guess is that it’ll play a pretty central role in everything that happens between them. However that may be, Leo and Mark will weave in and out of this part of the story as well.

Separately, we’ll also follow Jeff’s efforts to get something done on Capitol Hill about AIDS. That may be less interesting to some because it’s a political tale in many ways and I imagine most of us have had our fill of politics this year.

And yet, hard as it may be to believe, there was a time when politicians in Washington actually did try to get something accomplished that would benefit the public. If nothing else, the nostalgia may be good for you.

I realize things could be confusing at times as we move from one story-line to another, but I’ll do my best to keep them connected somehow. If I don’t always succeed, at least you’ll have had fair warning.

In any event, to recap, Jimmy moved back into the Capitol Hill townhouse he had shared with Jeff years earlier In last week’s chapter. They spent their first evening together in separate bedrooms, but after some dancing around the next evening it was agreed they would share the same bed as they had when they were living together before.

Jimmy insisted on keeping a separate bathroom, however, in order to minimize the risk to Jeff that might come from shaving and sharing toiletries.

Before going to bed that second evening, Jeff explained he would be up early on Saturday morning to fulfill his obligations at the Metropolitan Youth Center, about which we learned more.

When Jeff got to the Center the next morning, he was met by a young boy named Leo who turned out to be a runaway. The boy explained that a friend who had been helping him out since arriving in Washington had been arrested for selling pot in the early morning hours.

Leo had been told the Center might be able to help and that was why he was there. Jeff questioned the boy about his friend, an eighteen year old named Mark Collier, and found out that thirteen year old Leo considered Mark his boyfriend. At Mark’s suggestion, however, the two were apparently not having sex.

After discussing things Jeff agreed to try to locate Mark while Leo rested in one of the rooms available at the Center. Jeff was eventually successful in doing so. While Leo slept, Jeff also talked to his supervisor and one of the Center’s pro bono lawyers. Together they came up with a plan to get Mark out of jail and to help Leo and Mark once that happened..

When his shift ended, Jeff woke Leo up and explained everything that happened overnight and the proposal he intended to make to Mark. If Mark would agree to participate in a diversion program run by the Center, the police would free Mark to Jeff’s custody.

In turn Jeff would permit Leo and Mark to use his basement rental unit until other living arrangements could be made for them.

While Mark and Leo considered the proposal, the lawyer and Jeff discussed the case. Mark’s lawyer was skeptical about the whole thing. Even Jeff seemed to harbor some doubts.

That’s where tonight’s chapter, which I’ve now posted, picks up. Having made my final edits, I’m beginning to wonder whether I’ve gotten too far down into the weeds in the last portion of the chapter.

One of the downsides of doing research is that authors feel compelled to share a lot of the detail they’ve discovered with readers. As I mentioned above, I want to develop how Jeff goes about the task of getting something done in Congress about AIDS.

But if you find things too confusing, please feel free to let me know that via your comments or an email. You won’t hurt my feelings.

Boo hoo hoo . . . Kit weeps in anticipation of criticism🙂

You should also feel free to ask any questions you have or raise any points you’d like clarified after reading the chapter. I’ll do my best to clear up any confusion I’ve created.

Chapter 23 …

in high demand ...

Having spent much of Tuesday trying to learn more about gay cancer, Jeff called Ned Hilliard in last week’s chapter and arranged to meet at the Clinic. He explained to Ned he was willing to let Jimmy move back into his townhouse, but wasn’t sure how else he could help.

Later, when they met that evening, Ned emphasized to Jeff that things couldn’t be like they had been before. In partiicular, he stressed that Jeff and Jimmy would have to avoid having sex.

Jeff pressed for other clear rules when it came to living with Jimmy; whether they could sleep in the same bed, for example, or kiss and touch one another. Ned offered guidance on those and other issues, but stressed once again that too little was known about the disease for there to be any hard and fast rules.

Ned also mentioned he would be meeting with Jimmy the following evening and would reveal that he had been in touch with Jeff at that time. He was concerned Jimmy would be upset with what he had done, but promised to get back to Jeff with the results of that meeting once it was finished.

Ned turned out to be right. Jimmy wasn’t happy when he learned that Ned had told Jeff about his condition. After a stormy counseling session, however, he agreed to meet Jeff the following evening to apologize for walking out on him the way he did.

Ned conveyed the results of that meeting to Jeff. In turn, Jeff agreed to attend the meeting Ned had set up. That Thursday night meeting turned out to be quite cathartic and in the end Jimmy agreed to move back in with Jeff.

That’s where Chapter 23 picks up this evening. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be anxious to see how things turn out. I should also mention that tonight’s chapter is a bit longer than usual in spite of my best efforts to scale it back.

Like I mentioned last week, all of this may have happened a bit slower in real life, as will much of what happens in the chapters that follow. But keep your eye on what happens, not the precise timeline.

And yet, having said that, it didn’t happen exactly this way in all cases back then. How people reacted to HIV and AIDS varied dramatically and no story could possibly capture everything that happened back then.

While this is fiction informed by history, stories similar to this did happen in real life and the people who lived them deserve to be remembered for the heroes they were. I just hope I can do the truth justice in this tale.

Chapter 22 …

AIDS poster

In last week’s chapter we followed Jeff home after his conversation with Ned at the Whitman Walker Clinic. Distraught and filled with despair, we discovered he still loved Jimmy all these years later. Sad but kind of impressive as well.

Uncertain what to do, Jeff convened a luncheon meeting with some of his gay friends who work on Capitol Hill the next day to see if they knew any more about gay cancer than he did. But they turned out to be as clueless as Jeff regarding the disease.

At least one denied there was any such thing as gay cancer. To him it was an elaborate hoax. While others disagreed with that assessment, they didn’t know much about the disease either. However, one of them worked for a congressman who was a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Aware that its Subcommittee on Health had been looking into the matter, he put Jeff in touch with Tim Ward, the Subcommittee’s staff director.

Making up a story that his boss was meeting with some constituents interested in the disease, Jeff pressed Ward to find out what he knew. But even though he’s the most knowledgeable House staffer about the disease, Ward, like Ned Hilliard, knows very little with certainty and doesn’t have much good news to share.

None of the Federal health agencies are doing anything to address the problem as President Reagan and his political appointees are more interested in cutting funding for Federal health programs than in addressing a disease that afflicts socially undesirable people, i.e., gays, drug users, and Haitians, among others.

Others who should be interested, like the medical profession, drug companies and the blood banks, are doing nothing as well. Indeed, even the gay community itself has its head struck in the sand when it comes to the disease.

Jeff offers his help and that of his boss, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, but leaves the meeting discouraged. And that’s where tonight’s chapter, which I’ve now posted, picks up.

I realize things may be moving a bit more quickly in the story than they might have back then, but other than that I hope the story rings true to the times. If you think I’ve gotten something wrong, let me know.

I also wanted to mention that AIDS Walk Washington will be held in two weeks and I’ll be walking as usual. These walks are held primarily in local communities throughout the United States at different times of the year, but I’m told there are similar events in some parts of Canada and Australia as well.

Wherever you live there are charitable organizations assisting people with HIV and AIDS. If you like the story, think about what you can do to help. You can even click on the image below to contribute to the Whitman Walker Clinic (now known as Whitman Walker Health), which plays a major role in this story.

And here’s another link that may connect you to an organization closer to where you live.

I'll be walking and hope you can find a way to contribute ...

Chapter 21 …

grief

I’m back. New England was both colorful and fun, but let’s go to the tape as Warner Wolf, a famous Washington sports broadcaster from the early 1970s, liked to say back then. Hey, not all the research I do for these stories actually ends up in them so I’ll take whatever opportunity I can to show off my bona fides🙂

In last week’s chapter we got a peek at Jeff’s weekend. He spent the early hours of Saturday morning volunteering at the Metropolitan Youth Center (My Center), but no one showed up. After that he retreated to the Capitol Hill Gymnasium for a workout. We learned a bit about the different clienteles that used the gym and what Jeff thought of them.

Saturday afternoon brought a visit to a new mall in the Virginia suburbs where Jeff engaged in the great American pastime, shopping. Jeff accepted a dinner invitation with Richard and Ronald Saturday evening, but declined their offer to go bar hopping.

Sunday was apparently spent hiking in some nearby Maryland mountains, probably ones close to Camp David (although that wasn’t specifically mentioned). You have to wonder whether Ronald Reagan was up there at the time resting and relaxing while his minions were off wreaking havoc throughout the world.

Monday brought a return to the weekly work routines for Jeff. At the end of the day he drove over to the Whitman Walker Clinic in Adams Morgan and met with Ned Hillard, the counselor he had spoken to the previous Friday evening.

Surprisingly, the patient Hilliard was treating turned out to be Jimmy Barnes. Even more surprising, Jeff learned that Jimmy was afflicted with GRID (gay-related immune deficiency). Wow! Who could have seen that coming, at least back then?

The reason Hilliard wanted to meet with Jeff was to seek his help. Understaffed, underfunded, and overwhelmed with new clients similarly afflicted with what’s being called gay cancer, Ned wanted to know whether Jeff might be willing to help out with Jimmy. He was seeking help even though doing so required him to release patient information against medical protocols.

We learned a bit about where Jimmy had been in the interim. We’ll probably learn more at some later point. For his part Jeff is overwhelmed by what he’s learned. It dredges up a lot of old memories and feelings even while he has to try to stay focused on the present and what Ned Hilliard is asking of him.

In the end, Jeff agrees to think about helping Jimmy out and leaves the clinic dazed and confused. That’s where tonight’s story, which I’ve now posted, picks up.

It’s probably asking too much to encourage you to have fun reading anymore. But hopefully you’ll find the reading interesting and engaging. Let me know if you do.

Chapter 20 …

Is the tide rolling in or out?

If you’re reading this, I’ve successfully scheduled this post introducing Chapter 20 to magically appear at the usual time. Let’s hope I’ve been equally successful in scheduling Chapter 20 itself to appear. If not, I’ll post it when I get back from out of town next week.

As I’m writing this, I’m uncertain whether I’ll be able to respond to any comments or emails on this chapter or anything else while I’m away. But as I mentioned in the previous post, please don’t let that deter you. If I can’t respond while I’m away, I’ll do so on my return.

In Chapter 19 last week we caught up to Jeff about seven years after Jimmy walked out on him. He’s been a pretty enigmatic character in the story thus far, but we’ll learn a lot more about Jeff in Part IV.

In the last chapter we learned he was still living in Washington and still in the same Capitol House townhouse he originally rented when he first came to D.C. in 1975. However, he seems to have actually purchased the place in the interim as he has a mortgage.

We also learned Jeff is still working for Congressman Bresnahan although he’s spending less time back in the congressional district they represent in western Massachusetts since the Congressman has pretty much entrenched himself with the voters.

These days Jeff seems primarily focused on the work of the House Appropriations Committee, perhaps the most powerful committee in the House of Representatives at that time because it determined how much money would be allocated to support different Federal agencies and programs.

We learned Congressman Bresnahan was a member of the Committee’s Foreign Operations Subcommittee, the subcommittee that recommends funding for overseas programs. That subcommittee no longer exists as a separate entity these days having been folded into the Appropriations subcommittee that determines funding for State Department operations.

At the time, however, Foreign Operations was a very important subcommittee for anyone interested in U.S. foreign policy.

It’s 1982 so Ronald Reagan is President and apparently neither Jeff nor the Congressman are big fans of his approach to foreign policy, which is heavily focused on stemming a perceived communist menace in Central America being led by the Nicaraguan contras.

I don’t know about you, but I find it a bit ironic that thirty-five years later, after helping kill thousands of innocent people and spending billions of dollars fighting that communist menace, the leader of those contras, Daniel Ortega, is the President of Nicaragua these days.

I also find it interesting that one of the major issues in our own 2016 Presidential campaign revolves around all the Hispanics who have flooded into the United States over the years. Do you think the instability we created in the 1980s in Central America and the brutal regimes we supported there have something to do with that?

Ah, yes, Ronald Reagan, so beloved by all our conservative friends; the President who keeps on giving years after his death from pneumonia and Alzheimer’s disease. But I digress.

The point is Jeff is involved in work he finds exciting and interesting. But he’s also living alone. Like many people who come to Washington, he seems to use work as a substitute for a social life. To put it another way, Jeff has become a bit disconnected from the gay community.

He doesn’t have a boyfriend. He doesn’t seem to be looking for one. His connections to the community involve reading the local gay newspaper, volunteer work at a center that helps homeless and runaway kids, primarily gay boys, and participation in an informal group of House staffers who are also gay and working on Capitol Hill.

In the last chapter, we listened in on two phone conversations Jeff had on a Friday evening in May, one with a counselor at a clinic providing health services to the D.C. gay community and the other with a gay friend who also worked on Capitol Hill and was attempting to persuade Jeff to spend Friday evening visiting the baths or bars with him and his boyfriend.

Jeff declined and that’s where Chapter 20, which I’ve hopefully managed to schedule, picks up. If it’s up and you have a reaction, feel free to share it with me. I’m definitely interested in seeing how people react to the story at this point.

Posting Schedule …

me and a friend are off traveling :-)

I’ll be away for a week beginning tomorrow, October 12. While I should be able to post Chapter 20 on Friday, October 14, at the usual time, I’ll have to schedule that and my introduction to Chapter 20 in advance and there’s always a possibility I could screw up one or both of those.

If I do, I’ll post anything missing as soon as I get back next week. I also may not be able to respond to any comments and/or emails until my return. But don’t let that stop you. I’ll definitely do so when I get back.

Being away also means that I’ve had less time to work on Chapters 20 and 21. I’ve been editing and rewriting both at the same time this week, but only had four days to do that. I’ll probably have one or two more days for Chapter 21 next week when I get back, but I can’t be certain of that.

While I’ll do my best, one or both of these next two chapters may be less polished than I would like. I apologize in advance.

I should probably also mention that the images for my introductory posts will be a bit more random in Part IV. Of course, that may come as a surprise to some of you who may think they’ve been pretty random all along🙂

But I usually try to find an image that is connected to what’s happening in the chapter, if only tenuously. I’ll still keep trying, but you may have to settle for plain old eye candy for some of the remaining chapters.

Chapter 19 …

Looking back ... or just searching for something?

Last week we finished Part III of our story. Not surprisingly perhaps, Jimmy and Bobbie ended up having sex although the form their coupling took seems to have been a bit of a surprise for Jimmy. Apparently a pleasant one though.

After that the two boys spent the Memorial Day weekend together taking turns in what seems to have been a veritable weekend orgy. Good for them🙂

Although Bobbie had promised to explain his relationship with Charles more fully to Jimmy, he never did. All he ended up telling him was what Jimmy wanted to hear, that Charles was fine with the two of them having sex. And by then Jimmy’s thoughts were focused on a more immediate concern, i.e., what to tell Jeff about the weekend.

In the end, Jimmy decided not to tell Jeff anything. Like most of us, he seems to have been content to let things drift along. Eventually Jeff headed back to the district with Congressman Bresnahan for August. While also suggesting that Jimmy go home for a visit with his parents, Jeff seemed content to let Jimmy make his own decision.

Later, Bobbie invited Jimmy to the Delaware beaches. Once there, he informed Jimmy that he and Charles would be leaving Washington after their vacation and invited Jimmy to come live with them permanently. Although conflicted, Jimmy finally agreed and ended up leaving a note for Jeff at the townhouse before disappearing.

Part IV of the story, which begins this evening, moves the timeline forward about seven years, to May, 1982. But before moving on, perhaps it would be worthwhile to step back and take a look at the larger picture.

We first met Jimmy as a fourteen year old boy in 1971. Like most boys his age then and now, he seemed quite interested in sex, having been introduced to its wonders by his then best friend, Tommy. Living in a small town where there just wasn’t much to do, Jimmy seems to have spent most of his waking moments obsessing about sex as many fourteen year old boys often do.

With Tommy working and no longer available to spend carefree summer days with him, Jimmy volunteered to help out the new playground supervisor, Jeff.

When Tommy, perhaps a bit jealous, suggested Jeff’s interest in Jimmy might not be entirely platonic, Jimmy’s curiosity was aroused and he ended up persuading the older youth to give him a blow job. What followed was apparently a quite enjoyable summer for Jimmy, but Jeff eventually returned to college and graduate school.

Three years later, in 1974, Jimmy and Jeff ran into one another again when Jeff was back home campaigning for one of his professors, who was running for Congress. Jimmy had experimented with girls over for the years, but apparently found them wanting in a variety of ways.

In the absence of a current girlfriend, Jimmy once again ended up seducing Jeff, his experience fucking girls apparently put to good use. Later still Jimmy accepted Jeff’s invitation to go to Washington with him when Jeff’s boss was elected to Congress.

Washington was a much bigger city than North Adams, of course, and had a much more active gay scene as well. In an effort to make friends, Jimmy found himself drawn into that scene.

It’s the 1970s and gay people are in the process of liberating themselves, throwing off all the old restraints and reveling in their sexuality. There’s a club scene, a drag scene, a bath scene, a leather scene, and much more. Whatever you want is available, sometimes for free, sometimes for a price. But whatever your fancy, pretty much anything goes.

Is it surprising that a small town boy thrown into this environment would be affected by it? Probably not. Unanchored and caught between what he’s been taught all his life and the excitement all around him, Jimmy’s still trying to figure himself out like so many others in the 1970s.

And there’s the rub perhaps. Like Jimmy Barnes in that helpful public service announcement, there are dangers lurking out there for our Jimmy Barnes as well.

Perhaps the biggest danger of all is not some pedophile lurking in the shadows. Perhaps it’s just the difficulty of finding an appropriate balance between what he’s been taught to believe all his life, who he actually is, and what’s now available to him in the aftermath of Stonewall.

We’ll discover the results of Jimmy’s journey of self-discovery in Part IV. And we’ll also finally get a more well rounded look at Jeff as well.

Of course, you as a reader don’t necessarily have to read on. The story told in Parts I through III is a self-contained story, one all too typical of the 1970s. So feel free to stop if you wish. Or you can continue on. As Bobbie told Jimmy that memorable Friday evening, it’s your choice entirely.

In any event, I’ve now posted Chapter 19. Welcome to the 1980s.