Chapter 5 …

Hmm ... I wonder what's on his leg

In last week’s chapter our story shifted forward to August, 1974, where we caught up with Jimmy Barnes three years after his best summer ever, the summer of 1971. Not surprisingly, a lot has happened in the interim.

For one thing, Jimmy has finished high school and is now working full-time for minimum wage at the local McDonald’s. To put things in perspective, the minimum wage Jimmy is earning is $2 an hour.

At the time we catch up with him, Jimmy is walking home with his best friend, Tommy, who will be leaving town soon to study journalism at the University of Massachusetts. While Jimmy is happy for Tommy, he’s also concerned he’ll end up alone in a small, boring, town for the rest of his life.

Concerned about his future, Jimmy and Tommy discuss several possible career choices Jimmy might be able to pursue. But none of them are appealing to Jimmy for one reason or another.

We also learned Jimmy had become involved with several girls during his high school years. However, the relationships have apparently never quite worked out to Jimmy’s satisfaction, leaving him sexually frustrated as well. By the time we catch up to him in August, 1974, Jimmy has been without a girlfriend since just before the previous Christmas.

Faced with the prospect of spending his life in a dead-end job in a small, boring, town and barely able to support himself, Jimmy has apparently been trying to cope with life by spending his weekends drinking beer across the border in New York state, where the drinking age is lower, and by smoking pot.

He tries to persuade Tommy to go over to New York with him that evening, but Tommy has a date and the two part. Just before they do, however, Tommy tells Jimmy that Jeff Landry is back in town managing the campaign of the Democrat running for Congress that year. If you’re a Democrat, 1974 is a good year to be running for office with the Nixon Presidency collapsing.

Unable to afford his own apartment or a car, Jimmy finally arrives home where he takes a shower and then makes a halfhearted and unsuccessful effort to get his father to let him borrow the family car for the evening. Shot down, Jimmy steps outside and tries to focus on what he can do on a Friday night in a small, boring, town without a car to get around.

That’s where Chapter 5, which I’ve now posted, picks up tonight. Have fun reading.

Chapter 4 …

Let's hope he's wearing sunscreen ...

Last week’s chapter found Jimmy obsessed with figuring out whether Jeff was a homo. Eventually he learned the answer to that question; and then, to his surprise and delight, he was able to persuade Jeff to do what he had only been fantasizing about up until then.

Chapter 3 marked the end of Part I of our story. I could have written at least several more chapters for Part I that would have allowed me to develop some of the other characters in the story much better.

In particular, I could have had a lot more to say about Jeff and Kevin as well as the reasons they dislike one another. I could have also had more to say about Jimmy and Tommy’s friendship and how that factored into what happened in Part I.

And, of course, I could have also written a lot more about what happened between Jimmy and Jeff that summer after that initial incident in the school. In the end, however, I felt that would be gratuitous. As it was, it was hard enough to write as much as I did.

I did try to write that last chapter carefully, but even now I’m not entirely satisfied with it. One reader has already suggested Jimmy comes across as much more sophisticated in the art of seduction than I wanted to portray him.

And I’m still not satisfied I got Jimmy’s reaction to what happened in the teacher’s lounge exactly right. I wanted to portray Jimmy’s excitement about what happened without actually portraying what happened. But Jimmy wasn’t equally excited about everything that happened and I’m not sure I captured that very well.

Like they say, it is what it is and everyone will have to decide for themselves whether the chapter succeeded or failed. Whatever the case may be, it wasn’t because I wasn’t aware of how sensitive the subject matter was. A better writer would have written it better, but I felt it had to be written for the story as a whole to work.

You can decide for yourself whether that’s the case once we reach the end of the story many months down the road. For now, we turn to Part II. If Part I left you unhappy, you should probably stop reading now.

Part II takes place late in 1974 and early 1975. Jimmy has just turned eighteen and recently graduated from high school. We’ll learn a bit about his high school years and what’s become of Jimmy; and then we’ll follow what happens to him over the course of the next several months.

Chapter 4 is up and I hope you enjoy it. Please be aware, however, that I may have to abandon or close down my WordPress sites very soon. I’m having major problems uploading files to the sites and have had to spend hours finding temporary fixes this past week.

I don’t know what the problem is exactly and it was only after spending far too much time and energy that I was able to get the pdf version of this chapter uploaded tonight. However, the solution I used is not a viable one for the long term.

As I said, unless things change, I’m probably going to throw in the towel. I simply cannot afford to invest any more time and effort in managing these sites than I already do. I spend far too much time already and it simply isn’t worth the hassle anymore.

I apologize for any inconvenience if that happens.

Chapter 3 …

awesome smile ...

Having reached the lake at the beginning of last week’s chapter, Jimmy and Tommy spent some time in the water cooling off before heading back to the shore to work on their tans. That gave Jimmy the opportunity to think some more about his conversation with Tommy on the way to the lake.

We learned how Jimmy met Jeff, the older college youth who had taken a job as the playground supervisor at the elementary school in Jimmy’s neighborhood. Not having a job for the summer, Jimmy had agreed to help Jeff out coaching the summer league baseball team in the morning.

Without Tommy around, Jimmy soon began spending more and more time with Jeff as the summer unfolded; helping him out at the playground in the afternoon, then going swimming with him after the playground closed, and finally driving around town with him in the evening, which Jimmy liked because it got him away from his father and the same boring neighborhood.

At the end of their day at the lake Jimmy and Tommy headed home. Sensing things are changing, Jimmy asked his father whether coaching is something he could do as a career. But his father dismissed the idea in an especially nasty way.

The end of the day found Jimmy in bed playing with himself. As he did, he found himself wondering again whether Tommy could be right about Jeff being a homo.

That led Jimmy to fantasize about being alone in the woods with Jeff. In the end, uncertain whether Jeff is a homo, Jimmy decided he needed to find out.

We’ll learn how that turns out in tonight’s chapter, which I’ve now posted and is another one of those chapters that is a bit longer than usual.

Have fun reading.

Chapter 2 . . .

a fine lad indeed ...

In last week’s chapter we were introduced to Jimmy Barnes, a fourteen year old boy living in a small community in western Massachusetts where there isn’t very much to do during the summer except to go swimming.

Compounding the problem, Jimmy’s best friend, Tommy, with whom he’s been used to spending summer days at the lake, has taken a job at the local newspaper, leaving Jimmy on his own and alone.

Jimmy’s father doesn’t seem to like his son very much, perhaps in part because he’s frustrated with the competition a new supermarket is providing to the mini-mart he owns. While popular, Jimmy doesn’t seem very ambitious or to have much interest in school.

What Jimmy does have is a new found interest in sex; whacking off in particular. He’s learned how to do this and everything else he knows about sex from Tommy, who Jimmy considers much smarter than himself.

On the day we meet him, Jimmy is on his way to the lake with his best friend. Perhaps a bit jealous, as boys can be, Tommy seems upset that Jimmy is spending more time with the new playground supervisor at the local school than he is with Tommy.

At one point Tommy even suggests that Jimmy’s new friend might be a homo. The two argue about that; but then, their destination in sight, they end up racing to the lake where they plan to spend the afternoon together.

So what are the ingredients we have so far? Summer, boys, and a lake! What a perfect opportunity to devour some eye candy:-)

In any event, this week’s chapter, which I’ve now posted and is a bit longer than usual, picks up where the last one left off. Have fun reading.

Homo!

There are two ways to be fooled.  One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.  Søren Kierkegaard

There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true. Søren Kierkegaard

Tonight we begin a new story, one I’m calling Homo! It begins in 1971 and ends more than a decade later.

To appreciate the story it’s important to understand how different things were in the nineteen-seventies, especially public attitudes toward homosexuality. One way to get a more realistic feel for that is by reading this post and viewing this 1961 YouTube film and/or this 1973 remake, which uses the same audio track but different actors.

While hard to believe, these public service announcements capture the mood of the times very well and should prove useful in helping you better understand why some of the characters in this story behave as they do.

Although it may seem familiar in some ways, at least initially, Homo! is different from my other stories. You’ll have to take my word for that now because explaining how it’s different would give away too much.

Unlike some of my more recent stories, Homo! is also a more sexual story. If you find reading such stories difficult, this may not be the best one for you. I also apologize in advance if you find yourself offended by some of what takes place. I understand where you’re coming from, but the story begins almost a half century ago when attitudes about many things were different than today.

That doesn’t mean those attitudes were right and some may feel I do a disservice to the gay community by writing about such things. All I can say is that the choices I made were ones I felt necessary for the story to have any credibility.

If you stick with it, I think you’ll find it a very good story, one that is deeply moving and well worth the time and effort you invest. But that’s just my opinion, of course. The only way you’ll find out for sure is by reading the story yourself.

As you can see, I’ll be posting chapters for this story on Friday evenings between now and the end of the year. It’s not really an experiment or an effort to confuse you. I just wanted to avoid all the Monday holidays so I could have a little fun myself on those three day weekends.

I’d also like to acknowledge the help and assistance of Steve from New Zealand. He read the first seven chapters of the story and provided his own candid take on them. Those chapters have changed some since he read them so by no means is he responsible for their content.

If you find them upsetting, the blame is entirely mine.

I haven’t heard from Steve in a while so I hope he’s okay. In any event, Chapter 1 is up. Have fun reading and feel free to let me know what you think.

Coming soon …

Last Friday I posted a brief synopsis for Homo!, the second story in The Liberation Anthology and one I’ve decided to go forward with in spite of some reservations.

Homo! is a provocative name for a story, one some readers may find distasteful or objectionable. And yet it’s important to keep in mind just how powerful the word homo was years ago to understand and appreciate the lead character in our story, a boy named Jimmy Barnes who’s fourteen years old when we first meet him in 1971.

For a long time I had planned to use another name for the lead character in Homo!, but late in my research on the story I came across a short film (or perhaps what we would call a public service announcement these days) named Boys Beware.

The film was directed by someone named Sid Davis and “produced with the cooperation of the Inglewood Police Department and the Inglewood Unified School District” in California (not far from Los Angeles International Airport).

Released in 1961, you can view the original version by clicking the link above. In the film a police officer named Lt. Williams narrates the fate of four boys who had the misfortune to encounter homosexuals at the park, the beach, or while getting ready to deliver their newspaper route.

Of the four stories, the most famous has been dubbed The Courting of Jimmy Barnes by some. Tired one day after a long afternoon playing baseball at the park, Jimmy decides to hitchhike a ride home. As fate would have it, he’s picked up by a balding, mustachioed, older man wearing sunglasses named Ralph.

Ralph turns out to be a homosexual. Who would have guessed? He’s also kind of creepy, but that’s probably predictable given his sexual orientation. Here’s a picture of Jimmy and Ralph together. By the way, does Jimmy look a bit old to be a junior high school student?

beware jimmy barnes!

In any event, Ralph drives Jimmy home and gives him a playful pat on the shoulder after milking him for information about how he spends his time. Nothing happens, but only because Ralph is grooming Jimmy for what he has planned.

Over the course of the next five minutes we watch as Ralph buys Jimmy a Coke at a drive-in, takes him fishing, and plays miniature golf with him. As Lt. Williams helpfully reminds us, however, “payments are expected in return” for such generosity. Soon enough we see Jimmy climbing the stairs to the second floor of a seedy motel followed closely by Ralph.

Sadly, we never get to see what actually happens in the motel room, but we do learn that Jimmy finally gets it together enough to tell his parents what’s happening. Why he does that is never explained. Personally I’m guessing Ralph was lousy in bed and Jimmy was bummed out by that.

Whatever the reason, Ralph is arrested and sent away to the slammer while Jimmy gets to go home on probation with his doting all-American parents.

As I said, The Courting of Jimmy Barnes is only one of the four scenarios narrated in the film to warn young boys in California about the danger posed by homosexuals.

Another unsuspecting boy, Mike Merritt, accepts a ride home from a stranger after playing basketball at the park. In a commendable bow to diversity, a later version of the film portrays both Mike and the older man in question as black.

That undoubtedly explains why Mike “probably never realized until too late that he was riding in the shadow of death,” as Lt. Williams tells us. “Sometime that evening, Mike Merritt traded his life for a newspaper headline.”

Didn’t you just know it would be the black kid who got murdered? In addition to being black, Mike must have been stupid as well for deciding to accept a ride home from an older black man. Foolish, Mike, foolish! Everyone knows all black men are violent.

A third boy, Denny, is tricked into entering a man’s car to chase two boys the man claims stole a couple of bikes, but the man is arrested after Denny’s friend, Jerry, writes down the car’s license plate and gives it to Denny’s mother.

Like any good mother would do, she promptly reports the incident to the police and the police quickly track down and arrest the man. Being efficient like that, I’m betting they’re from the Inglewood Police Department.

Either that or the dude who tricked Denny was driving around somewhat aimlessly rather than quickly finding a place where he could molest the kid and then possibly kill him (although we can’t be certain that was the plan because Denny is white after all).

Or perhaps the dude didn’t have a job and just spent all day driving around town trying to pick up boys without having any plan about what to do once he had lured them into his car. We’ll never know.

Finally, a fourth boy, Bobby, has a narrow escape, having realized a bit late he was being tailed by a man who was in the beachside public restroom where he and his young friends had been earlier. Hmm … I wonder what those boys were doing in that restroom as there’s no indication they were swimming, that’s for sure.

Of the four boys chronicled, Bobby seems to have been the brightest and most alert, thank God! But even Bobby made the mistake of straying away from his friends.

“One never knows when the homosexual is about,” Lt. Williams intones solemnly. “He may appear normal. It may be too late when you discover that he is mentally ill.”

Not to be too heavy-handed about the whole thing, Lt. Williams reminds us that “the decision is always yours” although he then ups the pressure a bit by telling us “your whole future may depend on making the right one.”

Whew! Aren’t we lucky the three white boys survive their encounters, all of which conflate homosexuality and pedophilia; being one means you’re automatically the other.

In all four of the clips homosexuals are portrayed as creepy older men who are violent or sick and dress tastelessly to boot while the younger boys they prey upon are either too innocent or too doltish to have a clue what’s going on and just how mentally unbalanced these men are.

“What Jimmy didn’t know was that Ralph was sick. A sickness that was not visible like smallpox, but no less dangerous and contagious. A sickness of the mind. You see, Ralph was a homosexual: a person who demands an intimate relationship with members of their own sex.”

You can look at films like this today and shake your head, but they seem to have accurately captured the mood of the country back in the 1960s and 1970s. Boys Beware was later retitled Boys Aware and released again in a colorized version in 1973.

It uses the same script and soundtrack, but different actors. In this version Jimmy Barnes definitely looks younger than in the original; although you have to wonder a little about Jimmy because he seems positively enthralled with the new Ralph. And Lt. Williams does tell us after all that “Jimmy hadn’t enjoyed himself so much in a long time” as when he was around Ralph.

Still a third edition of the film was apparently produced in 1979; and even as recently as 2015 a high school teacher in Missouri was suspended after showing Boys Aware in one of his classes.

Of the four clips, the longest and best known is the one about Jimmy Barnes. Unlike the other boys, Jimmy is apparently guilty of some crime because he ends up on probation. But the exact nature of his crime is never made clear.

Whatever his crime may have been, I thought it appropriate to name my lead character in the story we begin next week Jimmy Barnes to present an alternative and hopefully more realistic version of what may have happened to him thanks to the kind of attitudes reflected in this public service announcement.

As I said earlier, do try to keep in mind just how powerful a word homo was years ago if you want to understand Jimmy. In any event, I hope you’ll come back on June 3rd and take a look at the story if it sounds like something that might appeal to you.

In the meantime, if you want a better appreciation for the attitudes homosexuals faced when our story takes place, you should definitely take a look at Boys Beware or Boys Aware, perhaps even both if you want to torture yourself with how tasteless men dressed back in the day.

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.