Welcome …

Everyone should be as happy as this boy. Share his joy by clicking this image:-)

Welcome to the Café Palermo Annex, the site where I post my free online stories, all of which feature gay characters and the challenges they face in life. When I created the Café Palermo years ago, I figured I would be blogging a lot more and saw The Annex as kind of a secondary site.

It was just going to be the place where I stashed all the porn:-)

That turned out to be wrong and not just because my stories aren’t porn. They may not be War and Peace, but to me War and Peace is boring. I try to write entertaining stories that are both interesting and uplifting, especially (but hopefully not exclusively) for those who are part of the LGBTQ community.

Like I said, originally I thought this would be a secondary site, but I don’t blog very much anymore so the Annex has become the primary site in many ways.

I still post announcements on both sites and do occasionally have something to say over at the Café that I don’t post here; usually something I think members of the LGBTQ community should be aware of or perhaps some biting commentary on American politics and the clowns who run this country.

But how can you top Donald Trump after all? Just listening to that blustering, bigoted, bully is commentary enough on how ridiculous American politics has become. The man disgraces this country every time he opens his mouth; and he’s nasty, fat and has ludicrous hair to boot.

That any political party would even consider nominating someone like him for President tells you everything you need to know about the intelligence of many Americans these days; but this is the party that gave America Ronald Reagan after all so what more needs to be said?

To put it another way, why blog when just reading a newspaper or watching the news on television can entertain and appall you a lot more than I ever could by blogging? So typically I end up spending more time over here these days and the Annex has become the main site more or less.

When I began writing stories back in 2011, there was hardly anything here. Now there’s more than enough to keep you entertained for quite a long time if you’re into reading stories about gay men and boys.

Indeed, if I got paid by the word, I’d be very well off by now. But, alas, I foolishly made the mistake of giving away my stories for free so I’m no better off today than I was when I began. Perhaps my loss is your gain, but you’ll actually have to read the stories to make your own judgment about that:-)

If you’re wondering where to begin, the drop-down menu at the top of this page will connect you to all of my stories. There’s also a menu to the right further down if you have problems navigating the one up above.

Wondering which story to begin with? Unless it’s around Thanksgiving or Christmas, I probably wouldn’t recommend beginning with Stuffed or With Apologies Mr. Dickens. They’re part of my Holiday Tales and probably better read around the end of the year.

Connected was the first story I posted and is probably still my favorite for that reason. But I think I’ve gotten better as a writer over the years. My last two stories, First Love, First Time and The Opened Door, is one way for you to decide whether I’m right about that. Both are set at Harvard University, the former back in the 1970s and the latter in contemporary America.

Summer Boys, Summer Dreams is a tale built around baseball and another one of my favorites. Although it probably helps, you don’t really have to be into baseball that much to enjoy it.

Or you could just read all of them in whatever order you like. I’m not picky about things like that:-)

Not ready to start reading yet? Perhaps the picture galleries here and at the Café will delight your eyes. Almost all of the images have been used at one time or another to illustrate a chapter in one of my stories or drive home a point in one of my blog postings.

You can access a larger version of these images by clicking on the thumbnails. I hope you’ll feel free to comment on your favorites as I’ve already done in many cases; nicely, of course. Nastiness is frowned upon both here and at the Café and will be dealt with severely.

Dancing is always permitted at this site, of course, especially if you’re young and cute like that boy up above. If you click on that image, you’ll see more of his dance moves. He tries for sexy, but can’t quite pull it off. What he does pull off, however, is even better.

He reminds us what it’s like to be happy and carefree and what more can you ask for than that? Who knows? He might even be the model for a character in my next story.

Though you should probably turn down the sound on your computer if you do click on the image and don’t want everyone to know just how much of a slacker your are:-)

At the moment I’m taking a bit of a break having just finished my latest story, First Love, First Time, which is part of The Liberation Anthology. You can learn more about that project by clicking on the link. I’m trying to decide whether to begin posting another new story in the next month or so. You can find out more about that by checking out the post directly below this one.

In any event, thanks for stopping by. Like I said, the stories are free to read so dig in; and since you won’t be able to finish up in one visit, I hope you’ll feel free to come back and read all of them at your leisure.

Unlike Donald Trump, we welcome everyone at this site; even people with challenged hair:-)

Peeking ahead …

peeking ahead ...

Since I’m still not sure what comes next for me or this site I’ve been trying to decide what to say in this post. For now let me just say I may begin posting the second installment of The Liberation Anthology sometime toward the end of May or the beginning of June. Or I may not.

If I do, I’ll probably post a brief synopsis about the new story sometime after the middle of May, but I don’t think you’ll get a notification from WordPress if I do; and I’m not planning on sending out an e-mail announcing the story either because some may find it controversial and distasteful.

In other words, you’ll have to check back on your own after May 15th to see whether I’ve posted a synopsis under The Liberation Anthology heading at the top of this page and then decide for yourself whether it seems like a story worth reading.

At the moment the working title I’m using for the story is Homo! If you’re wondering why I would use a gay slur as the title, it’s because one of the big things the story is about is the power of words and no word was more charged for gay men fifty years ago than homo.

It was a cruel word, one designed to inflict pain; and while it may have lost some of its sting over the last half century, it’s still capable of hurting. If you think I should change it, let me know. I still could, but time is running out and I don’t have anything better at the moment.

Like I said, I could also still change my mind and decide not to post the story. There are a couple of reasons for that. For one thing, it would run through the end of the year and I’m not sure I want to commit that much time and energy to the project at this time.

While I also think it’s a very good story, I could probably make it longer and better if I took a leave of absence from this site and spent the next year working on it in private.

But probably the most important reason for not posting the story is because it raises some difficult questions about the ethical responsibilities of a writer and I’m not sure I have good answers for them.

If you ask people whether an author should avoid writing about the Holocaust because it was evil, for example, I think most would say no; that it’s perfectly acceptable for someone to write about bad things.

But what if the writer told you he wasn’t going to take a position one way or another about the moral issues raised by the Holocaust? That he was just going to portray it as a fact and let you decide what you think?

How would you feel about that?

What if the writer also told you the main character in the story would be a Nazi death camp guard and he wasn’t going to portray that guard as either good or evil, just as an ordinary person going about his everyday job without ever reflecting much on what he was doing?

Indeed, what if the guard was portrayed as a good husband, father and friend; or at least not a bad one?

How would you feel about such a story?

The story I’ve written is not about the Holocaust, but it raises a difficult and sensitive issue. Although it may not seem so at first, it’s also different from my other stories in important ways and many of you may not like that.

For example, my last two stories featured characters attending college and graduate school (or wanting to). I hope they came across as the intelligent people they are, but some would say their intelligence made them too cautious in dealing with life.

The lead character in the first half of Homo! is different. He’s not a good student and isn’t interested in school. He’s not career oriented or ambitious and doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about where he wants to be in five or ten years.

He’s not religious and hardly ever thinks about whether something is right or wrong. He’s just a happy-go-lucky fourteen year old kid who lives in the moment, knows what he likes and is focused on getting whatever he happens to want.

What he wants most of all is to have fun; and since he’s just recently discovered sex can be fun, the story will feature more sex than usual or at least be a lot more focused on sex. But you may find some of that sex controversial, distasteful, or even appalling.

Consider yourself warned if I go forward.

If all of that wasn’t enough, you may end up hating the ending as well. Assuming you get to the ending, of course; there’s a good chance you won’t because you’ll be mad at me for writing a story like this.

In short, if you’re looking for a feel good story, this probably isn’t the one for you. I won’t have a problem if you decide to pass on it.

Like I said, I’m still trying to decide whether to post it myself. If I don’t and decide to take some time off, thanks for your encouragement and support.

By the way, I’ve updated the galleries both here and over at The Cafe. Feel free to comment (nicely) on your favorite images by clicking on them and telling us why you like them or find them amusing.

Just so you know, those of you signed up to get notices from WordPress may get a notice in the next week or two as I plan to put up a post welcoming new readers or people who stumble onto this site accidentally. You can safely ignore it:-)

Should First Love, First Time continue?

where to?

Did you enjoy First Love, First Time? Would you like to see the story continue at a later time? It could, but that depends on you as much as it does on me as I’m not really sure where to go next and those young men in the image above keep pointing me in different directions😀

Writing is not the easiest thing in the world. You have to have ideas for a story and then be able to flesh them out with compelling characters and believable story lines. But ideas don’t come in endless supply for any author.

I had some ideas for a story about someone’s first love and first time and I shared them with you in Part I. But what comes next for the characters in the story?

Like I said, I’m not really sure.

From the beginning, I always envisioned First Love, First Time as an experimental story. What I did in the story is what most writers do. I gave you a main character, Lane Bailey, two lead secondary characters, Paul Miller and Bruce Donnelly, and quite a few other characters who were much less well developed.

I set the story in 1973 and wrote the first ten chapters. But if the story was going to continue, I knew I’d need help figuring out where it should go.

So if you’re interested in seeing the story continue, what do you think?

Should we follow Lane to Washington, D.C., and see what happens there? Stay in Cambridge and see how Paul’s senior year unfolds? Or shift the focus to the Berkshires and see what happens to Bruce? We could do any or all of those things if we want or we could do other things entirely.

For example, we could move the story back in time to see how Anderson became the homophobe we’ve seen in Part I. Could it be there’s a family connection to A. Lawrence Lowell? Or was he molested as a boy by a father, brother or friend?

Lots of things are possible for any of the characters, but I don’t think I would react well to a suggestion that Anderson was molested by an alien from another planet. That might make for an interesting story, but it’s not the kind of story I write😀

Or we could move forward and see what happens to other characters like Mark Simmons or Bill Emerson, who we barely got to meet in Chapter 2. Or what about Allen Reeves, Paul’s fellow graduate student, who we found out was arrested for soliciting a male prostitute in Chapter 4?

How did that happen? How did it affect his life? We don’t know very much about Allen, but not knowing a lot provides a much broader canvas to paint on.

If you go back and read the story again, you’ll find many cases where a story line seemingly relevant to the story in a modest way is allowed to fade off. For example, Lane goes for a walk in the woods in Chapter 7 and ends up at Kemp Park where he has a brief conversation with a young boy.

Do you ever wonder what happened to that boy? I do.

Later still, at the rock off the trail behind the lake, he has a conversation with another boy, but one that is never developed or connected in any way to the larger story. What was that all about?

The point is I put these things there in large part as potential story lines for you as readers to develop if you wanted to, not because they were critical to the story itself.

As I said, Lane doesn’t have to remain the main character in the future. But if that’s what you prefer, the possibilities are basically endless for Lane.

We learned in Chapter 4 that his new job in Washington will involve writing a chapter on impeachment for a book. He’s not happy about that because impeachment is a tool rarely used in American history. But it is 1973 after all and from where we sit today we know Richard Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment in 1974.

If you do a little research, you’ll find out that the first impeachment resolution against Nixon was introduced in July, 1973, by Congressman Robert Drinan of Massachusetts; not for anything having to do with Watergate, though, but for Nixon’s actions in southeast Asia, particularly his bombing campaign against Cambodia.

That doesn’t mean you have to introduce a real character like Father Drinan into the story. You could, I suppose, but you could also introduce a fictional member of Congress, which might give you more flexibility in sketching out a story line.

A story line could be as simple as having Lane somehow being dragged into the Nixon impeachment in some way. The fun part would be figuring out how and what happened once he was and how that affected his social life, if at all.

Of course we also know from Chapter 9 that Lane was planning to go back to North Adams at the end of the summer. Did he do so; and if he did, did something happen while he was there to make him change his mind about moving to Washington?

Did he and Bruce end up together after all? And what happened after they did if that’s the case?

Keep in mind I’m not asking you to write the next part (although you’re welcome to do that if you’re especially ambitious and you’ll certainly be credited for it if you do). What I’m asking is that you share your ideas and suggestions with me for how to move the story forward.

You can tell me in 50 words (probably much too short to be honest about it) or 500 words or 5000 for that matter. From my perspective, the more detail the better. But it’s up to you to decide how much you want to flesh out your ideas and suggestions.

Just so you know, however, I’m willing to work with you to do that if need be.

Indeed, the story doesn’t have to move forward in a single story line. We could have several different versions of how the story continues depending on how many of you want to participate in the effort and how much time and energy you’re willing to invest.

Be aware it won’t be easy, however. Writing never is.

Look, this may not be the best idea I ever had and I know it’s not easy. It’s something you need to think about and I’m certainly not in any rush. Mostly what I am looking for right now is whether you think this is a good idea and an expression of interest in pursuing it if you are.

If you have questions feel free to comment on this post or to e-mail me directly. I’ll do my best to respond.

In the meantime, here are some other stream of consciousness suggestions as you think about whether and to what extent you want to participate in this experiment.

1. Do feel free to choose any of the characters as a vehicle for continuing the story. If none of the characters work for you, use one of them to introduce a character who does.

2. Do feel free to move the story either backward or forward in time. At the same time, be aware of what’s happening if you do. Lyndon Johnson was President in 1968, not George W. Bush (although Bush was President from 2001 to 2009 if you want him to be a part of the story). AIDS became a problem in the 1980s, not 1975. Don’t ask, don’t tell was a 1990s (and later) issue, not a 1980s issue.

3. Do feel free to give your characters sex lives, but check with me before getting too heavily invested in certain sexual practices as part of a character or storyline. I’m pretty open-minded when it comes to sex, but I would find it difficult to write about a character who enjoyed inflicting real pain on others without their consent; or at least holding them up as role models.

4. Don’t situate characters in locales I’m not familiar with unless you’re willing to spend a LOT of time helping me understand that locale. I know New England and Washington pretty well. I’m not familiar at all with what Moscow looked like in 1986. In short, the further away we get from locales I’m familiar with, the less comfortable I’ll be and the more work you’ll be expected to do.

5. Don’t feel compelled to provide a happy ending, but perhaps try to leave open the possibility of happiness.

For a fairly complete list of the story characters in Part I of First Love, First Time, you can check out this page to help refresh your memory. For some tips on writing that may or may not be useful, you can check out this one as well.

That’s it for the moment except to say this experiment was always intended to be fun. I’m not sure anyone will be interested in pursuing this further. If you are, let’s try to keep it fun. If an idea or suggestion doesn’t work for me, don’t feel offended. I won’t feel offended if no one is interested in seeing the story continue.

Still, it is indeed true that mighty oaks from little acorns grow; or, to put it another way, nothing ventured, nothing gained😀

Or we can bag it completely if the interest and the ideas just aren’t there for now. The story is fine as it is. The point is, unless we can do it well, it doesn’t make sense to try to continue the story.

And be sure to come back next Monday when I’ll have more to say about my plans for the immediate future.

Chapter 10 …

By the rude bridge that arched the flood ...

Tonight’s chapter concludes Part I of First Love, First Time. Whether there will be any more parts remains to be seen. The story could continue in the future if that’s what you want. But since I didn’t receive any suggestions regarding how to end Part I this evening, I’m guessing tonight’s chapter will be the end of the story.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. I enjoyed writing this story more than most and I’m satisfied with the tale as it comes to its conclusion this evening. I’ll be posting again later this week about the story. If you’re interested in seeing it continue, be sure to check out that post. For now, however, we need to finish Part I.

As you’ll recall, Lane finally revealed he was homosexual to Bruce in last week’s chapter, but only after Bruce had previously done the same thing in Chapter 8. Having discovered they shared a similar sexual orientation, Lane seemed eager to take their relationship further.

Bruce rebuffed his efforts, however, partly because he didn’t see Lane being happy if he settled down in North Adams and partly because he didn’t feel Lane was ready for a relationship with another man quite yet.

Having difficulty coming to grips with what he had learned the previous evening, Lane decided to revisit the lake the next day. Eventually Bruce joined him there and the two went for a walk in the woods.

Left undecided as the chapter ended was whether Lane and Bruce might attempt to build a life together. Whether tonight’s chapter will answer that question remains to be seen. You’ll have to read Chapter 10, which I’ve now posted, to find out.

I hope the ending won’t disappoint you, but thanks for reading the story no matter what.

As mentioned, I’ll be back with another post about the story on Thursday if you’re interested in seeing it continue. I’ll also be posting sometime next week about my plans for this site and the future.

Chapter 9 …

wooded beauty

As you may recall from last week’s chapter, Bruce picked up Lane at his home and the two drove to Wahconah Park in Pittsfield where they took in what proved to be an exciting minor league baseball game.

From there they drove to a nearby restaurant, The Mill on the Floss. I’ve never eaten there myself so I can’t really say how good the food is. But both Lane and Bruce seemed to enjoy it so it may be worth checking out if you’re ever in the area.

Feel free to write a review if you do. I’ll be happy to post it here:-)

At the restaurant Lane struggled to get a conversation going, but eventually Bruce came to his rescue by filling him in on what had happened to him after high school. Drafted by the Boston Red Sox, he bounced around the minor leagues before eventually realizing he was never going to make it all the way to the top.

Once he realized that, Bruce decided he wanted to coach. Following a conversation with the principal at St. Joseph’s High School, he accumulated enough credits for his college degree over a number of years. Then he gave up baseball and returned to North Adams where he ended up teaching and coaching at St. Joe’s.

In turn, Lane explained how he wound up at Harvard, but decided he couldn’t pursue what he wanted to talk to Bruce about without letting him he know he was homosexual. That was something he still wasn’t ready to do so the two spent their dinner together talking about other things.

On the drive home, Lane thanked Bruce for being a caring person and the perfect role model for him when he was younger. In the ensuing conversation, one thing led to another and then to an intense discussion of that day at the lake the two boys had spent together when Lane was fourteen. That ended with a surprising revelation for Lane, which is precisely where we’ll pick up this evening.

Tonight’s chapter sets the stage for the conclusion of Part I of our story next week and that poses something of a dilemma for me. As I drafted the story, I tested out several possible endings for Part I and finally settled on the one I thought best at that time.

And yet I’ve told you all along that this is an experimental story so nothing is set in concrete. If you’re hoping for a particular ending after reading tonight’s chapter, feel free to let me know either by leaving a comment or emailing me.

I’m not saying I’ll agree with what you propose and change the tentative ending I’ve already written. It’s possible I could, but I’m really more curious to know how you as readers would like to see Part I end after you’ve finished tonight’s chapter. Like I mentioned, nothing is written in stone.

The point is I could change the ending if I wanted to. But if you have a particular ending you favor, you’ll have to let me know pretty quickly. Either that or possibly be willing to wait two weeks for the final chapter.

One thing I would stress, however, is you really need to think about the whole story, not just the last couple of chapters, if you decide to make a suggestion. Bruce is obviously an important person for Lane, but so is Paul even if we haven’t seen very much of him lately.

In any event, Chapter 9 is up. I hope you enjoy it; and I really do encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to affect the outcome of Part I. I may not change anything, but there really are many possible endings for Part I and none is the perfect one.

There are just different endings, one of which may appeal to me or you or to that young man up above more than others. I was looking for woodsy and he was the best I could do. Whether he would make a good Bruce is for you to decide.

Chapter 8 …

The Mill on the Floss

Tonight’s chapter will prove revealing for Lane. He’ll learn things about his youth he never knew, something that will allow him to put his memories in better context and should have the added benefit of helping you better understand him as readers.

What the chapter will not do is tell us how Lane reacts to what he learns and what effect it will have on him. We’ll have to wait for Chapter 9 for that.

This was not a deliberate decision on my part, one designed to leave you hanging. Once you read the next chapter it should be obvious there was simply too much material to cram into one. Like the saying goes, haste makes waste😀

In any event, I hope you’ll enjoy tonight’s chapter for what it is, not what it isn’t. Much of the chapter takes place at a restaurant named The Mill on the Floss (featured above and, as always, much better viewed if clicked).

In last week’s chapter Lane revisited some of the places around town that were a big part of his youth. He took a walk through the woods to Kemp Park, where he played Little League baseball and where he had a brief conversation with a young boy after catching a home run with his bare hands.

By the way, having done this myself on more than one occasion, it’s not something I generally recommend unless you’re trying to impress someone you care about a lot😀

From Kemp Park Lane revisited Windsor Lake, the setting for one of his most powerful memories, the fun afternoon he spent with Bruce when he was fourteen years old. Eventually he headed home through the woods surrounding the lake, following a hidden trail that led him to a rock where he used to spend time thinking about things as a boy.

While there he met another boy named Jimmy and the two had a brief conversation.

Yeah, what was that all about, Kit?

Kit smiles.

You have to pay attention to small details like this, dudes and dudettes; more to the point, you have to have a really good memory.

One more stop, at a hidden location within the woods, and then Lane returned home for the day. Later he looked up Bruce in the high school yearbook and was surprised at just how good looking he was.

While his parents were off playing Bingo at the local church that evening, Lane called Bruce to see whether he would be interested in getting together for lunch or dinner. They talked about a bunch of things and Bruce agreed to meet Lane; indeed he invited Lane to attend a minor league baseball game with him on Saturday in a nearby community.

When Bruce showed up for the game on Saturday, Lane quickly discovered his older friend hadn’t changed very much from his youth. He was still in shape, still had the same baby-face, and was still as attractive as ever.

On the drive to the game in Pittsfield, the two talked about a number of things, including their memories of Billy Reid; the young boy they played ball with in the Little League who died of leukemia.

Tonight’s chapter picks up with their arrival at Wahconah Park in Pittsfield. Have fun reading and be sure to let me know what you think if you’re so inclined.

Chapter 7 …

Windsor Lake

What are some of the main things we’ve learned from the story so far?

We know our protagonist, Lane Bailey, is a homosexual, one not entirely comfortable with his sexuality. That seems hardly surprising given the story takes place in 1973 when both social attitudes and legal norms in the United States took a far dimmer view of homosexuality than today.

We also know Lane’s attracted to one of his students, a Harvard junior named Paul Miller, and indeed has spent much of the year getting to know Paul better even though he’s assumed all along Paul is heterosexual.

Isn’t it funny how an attraction can be so much more powerful when it’s seemingly beyond one’s reach?

However that may be, a late night conversation between the two at Winthrop House has left Lane a bit less certain of Paul’s heterosexuality. Faced with his impending graduation and departure from Cambridge, Lane has been reflecting on his youth in an effort to figure out when he first became aware of his homosexuality and indeed why he’s the way he is.

He hasn’t made a lot of progress in answering those questions, but his efforts at self-reflection have stirred up some powerful youthful memories.

In last week’s chapter Lane recalled a memory involving an older youth, the same one he played Little League baseball with when he was ten. But this memory took place four years later when Lane was fourteen and struggling with all the changes brought on by adolescence.

He recalls an incident at a lake one day when he was feeling lonely and friendless. Then the older, more popular, youth he admired sat down on the hill next to him. The two spent the rest of the afternoon together, playing in the water and working on their tans, all of which succeeded in lifting Lane’s spirits.

Now, years later, Lane debates whether his admiration for Bruce was perhaps the earliest indication of his homosexuality. At first he thinks not, but then later is less certain what to make of the incident, especially knowing he tried to pull down Bruce’s swimsuit while they were playing in the lake.

In the end, frustrated at having accomplished so little, Lane headed back to Conant Hall. Along the way he became aware he was being followed by someone, a young man who turned out to be homosexual as well. After some hesitation on Lane’s part, he invited the young man back to his room, ostensibly so they could get to know one another better.

Once there, however, Lane is offered the chance to have sex with someone else for the first time in his life. He starts to undress, then stops. In the end, he decides not to pursue it and nothing happens. But that outcome seemingly only adds to Lane’s despair.

At that point the story fast forwarded to Lane’s graduation and then his trip back home to western Massachusetts. Quickly bored by the small town he grew up in, he ends up visiting the grave of his friend Billy where his father fills him in on what Bruce has been up to since Lane moved away.

In tonight’s chapter and the two that follow, Lane will discover much more about his youth. What effect that will have on him remains to be seen, but it will have a powerful impact on the direction of the story one way or another.

Since the lake and surrounding woods play such a prominent role in these chapters, our featured image tonight is of a place known locally as the Fish Pond. We strive for authenticity in all things😀

By the way, the Fish Pond will also be featured in our next story if and when I ever get around to that.

I’m told the lake looks somewhat different in this picture than it did back when Lane was growing up. There’s no raft or diving tower, for example; no youthful crowds trying to cool off as there would be later in the season.

But, hey, there are limits to what you can find on the internet so it’ll have to do. It should be good enough to give you a sense of the place we’re talking about.

In any event, Chapter 7 is up. Have fun reading as we begin to pull the final threads of Part I of our story together.

Chapter 6 …

Harvard Yard at night

I had my choice of several images to feature for tonight’s chapter, but decided to use that one above which shows Harvard Yard at night. Darkness seemed appropriate given Lane’s gloomy mood the last time we encountered him.

Like they say, however, it’s always darkest before the dawn, which was the main alternative image I considered using and one well worth your consideration if you’re looking for something more optimistic.

After a bit of a slow start in Harvard Yard, tonight’s chapter will actually skip over a lot of territory I might have spent a lot more time developing in a different kind of story; one that was intended to be more than just a beginning.

We won’t get to see Ken and Amelia get married, for example, or how Lane and Paul spend their last few days on campus before each returns home at the end of the semester. There’s a lot more that could have been developed with both of those story lines and others as well.

Say whatever you will about that, but don’t say I don’t ever do you a favor. I was tempted to split tonight’s chapter into two, which would have left you hanging at an especially interesting and crucial moment. A cheap trick, to be sure, but one I’ve been accused of before; probably correctly😀

Being the nice guy I am, however, I didn’t do that. Feel free to thank me however you choose; cash, sexual favors, they’re all good.

To recap, last week’s chapter turned out to be quite an introspective one for Lane after Paul left his office. It began with him questioning whether he was right in assuming Paul was heterosexual. Then, ashamed of himself for doubting that, he headed back to his room in Conant Hall.

Once he reached Harvard Yard, however, he found his way back to Memorial Church where Ken and Amelia’s wedding rehearsal had been held earlier in the evening. Still another round of self-doubt caused him to try to recall a time before he realized he was homosexual.

That brought back memories of his First Communion and all the fears, doubts and worries connected with that event; not to mention all the guilt which seems to have played such a big role in his life. Whatever else we know about Lane, it seems fair to say he was a worrier from a very young age.

Later still he recalled the death of one of his Little League teammates and the kind words directed to him by an older youth who played for the team as well.

Tonight’s chapter resumes with Lane still sitting on the steps of Memorial Church in Harvard Yard on the Friday evening before the wedding. I’m not an expert by any means, but Lane seems to be experiencing some kind of catharsis brought on by his impending graduation and years of frustration about his sexuality.

Instead of focusing on the future, he seems to be retreating into the past. Where that will lead him remains to be seen, but we may begin to get a glimpse in tonight’s chapter, which is now up.

Have fun reading and see if you can figure out where I would have ended the chapter if I had decided to split it in two. I don’t think it’ll be real hard, which is probably all the more reason to thank me for not doing so😀

Chapter 5 …

Teaching children they may go to Hell is child abuse ...

In last week’s chapter Lane flew to Washington for a job interview; one that would require him to write a chapter on impeachment for a book about the ways in which Congress can hold other governmental officials accountable.

Apparently the interview went well as Lane was offered the job within a matter of days. With no other prospects in hand, he promptly accepted. Think how frustrated he must have been when his friend Ken told him Brown University had an opening for a teaching position a couple of nights later.

More surprising still, the reason the job was available is that the person Brown had originally hired, a fellow graduate student at Harvard named Allen Reeves, had been arrested for soliciting a male prostitute in downtown Boston. Forced to tell Brown about that, his job offer was promptly rescinded.

The main purpose of Ken’s visit, however, was to ask Lane to be the best man at his wedding to his girlfriend, Amelia, something Lane promptly agreed to do even though he wasn’t enthusiastic about the prospect.

Still later Paul mentioned to Lane he wanted to talk to him about something. They agreed to meet at Lane’s office in Winthrop House after the wedding rehearsal on a Friday evening.

The rehearsal went well, the meeting somewhat less so, as Paul sought Lane’s opinion about whether it would be appropriate for a friend of his to start a romantic relationship with one of his Teaching Fellows.

Lane tried to discourage that since Paul’s friend was a student of the Teaching Fellow. In the aftermath of their conversation, Lane and Paul learned that each of them would be returning to Cambridge for the summer and agreed they would try to get together at that time.

Tonight’s chapter picks up right at the point where Paul is about to leave.

Let me be upfront and tell you that this week’s chapter may not be your cup of tea if you’re Catholic although I’ve tried my best to avoid being offensive. My apologies if you think I’ve failed.

You may also have problems if you don’t like chapters where a character ends up wandering around inside his own mind.

But this was the only way I could think of to get to where we need to go eventually; at least quickly get there. To understand the man Lane is today we need to know much more about how he grew up. We’ll find out more about that in tonight’s chapter, which I’ve now posted.

Not many people seem to be, but have fun doing so if you’re one of those actually reading the story.

Chapter 4 …

Memorial Church

Dedicated on Armistice Day, November 11, 1932, Memorial Church honors the memory of the Harvard men who died fighting in World War I (just as Memorial Hall was dedicated in 1874 to honor those who died fighting for the Union during the Civil War).

The names of the 373 alumni who gave their lives during World War I are engraved alongside a sculpture named The Sacrifice. Since then other memorials have been established within the Church honoring alumni who later died fighting in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

To the best of my knowledge, however, the names of those sacrificed by President Lowell and other Harvard toadies over the years aren’t honored at all on campus. By the way, at least one of those young men did actually fight in World War I. But he didn’t die in the fighting after all.

He was only the victim of a Harvard witch hunt.

Morning Prayers is still held in Appleton Chapel Monday through Saturday from 8:45 to 9:00 a.m.; and there is, I believe, still a rule, routinely ignored, discouraging the holding of classes or other academic exercises at that time in order to encourage student attendance.

Alas, attendance tends to be sparse.

The service consists of music, prayer, and a brief address given by a member or friend of the University. The music is provided by the Choral Fellows of the Harvard University Choir, who sing a wide selection of anthems and psalms in a variety of styles. On Saturdays, the music is provided by soloists, small ensembles, or instrumentalists.

In anticipation of the Third Annual LGBTQ Conference at Harvard, which took place this past Saturday, March 5, 2016, Memorial Church featured a special week of Morning Prayer talks from February 29 through March 5 entitled The Queer Divine: Perspectives and Theologies from LGBTQ Lived Experiences.

I’m not entirely sure what that entailed, but the advertisement for these Morning Prayers indicated that Harvard Divinity School students of various religious traditions and experiences would “reflect upon life at the nexus of queer identities and the divine.”

You can find out a bit more about the first of those talks here if you wish; and feel free to consider this and my previous post as my own little contribution to the queer divine.

But wherever the nexus between queer identities and the divine may be, I suspect it’s a long way from where the founders of Harvard had in mind when they instituted Morning Prayers in 1636; the place where President Lowell conducted his inquisition in 1920; or even with how Harvard administrators ran the place for decades after Abbott Lawrence Lowell was dead and buried.

Don’t fool yourself, however. Homophobia is still alive and well at Harvard even these days.

By the way, finding a decent picture of Memorial Church wasn’t easy and I’m not entirely satisfied with the image I’ve featured above. Capturing the Church in a single image is difficult. Some pay too little regard to its breathtaking steeple; still others, taken from the west, east or north, would convey entirely different impressions.

Nor do exterior images capture the Church’s majestic interior or its organs, one of which is pictured here and here. Whatever the case, Memorial Church is indeed a memorable part of Harvard and will play a central role in tonight’s chapter and the two that follow.

As you may recall, Lane successfully defended his dissertation in last week’s chapter, an experience that apparently was less satisfying than he hoped it might be.

After spending the evening debating whether he should use his remaining time at Harvard to build a genuine friendship with Paul, he received a pair of tickets to a Red Sox game from Professor Jeffords the following morning.

Lane invited Paul to join him at the game and Paul accepted. The two had lunch at Winthrop House on the day of the game, an experience made less happy for Lane after still another unpleasant encounter with Paul’s roommate, Anderson.

Miraculously, the Red Sox continued their winning ways. But the conversation between Lane and Paul that followed the game raised some questions, at least for me. Whether they’ll be answered in this week’s chapter remains to be seen. You’ll have to read on to find out.

In any event, Chapter 4 is now up. It’s a long one so be well fortified before taking it on. Once you are, have fun reading. As always, any comments you have on the chapter or on this and the previous post would be welcomed.