Chapter 21 …


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.

Chapter 18 …

Then dark thoughts overwhelmed me ...

Last week we began to catch a glimpse of a different Jimmy. Someone less certain everything he learned growing up was the truth; someone more tolerant of those who behaved differently than him and less quick to pass judgment on others.

Now an honorary member of the club, his circle of friends and acquaintances quickly expanded as he became more familiar with the gay scene in Washington. He began spending less time with Eric and more with Bobbie, who he seems to like a lot however he dresses.

While this was happening, his relationship with Jeff became more frustrating for Jimmy. As the pace of work on Capitol Hill quickened, Jeff began spending more of his time at the office or back in the district with Congressman Bresnahan.

Tired from all the extra hours he was putting in and often not around, Jeff and Jimmy were having sex less often and that became a new source of frustration for Jimmy.

When Jimmy mentioned to Bobbie that Jeff would be back in the district over the Memorial Day weekend (no doubt watching his boss participate in a lot of parades and other traditional Memorial Day events), Bobbie volunteered that Charles would be away that weekend as well.

Asked whether he would be traveling with Charles, Bobbie said no; that he would be participating in a drag show charity event that weekend to benefit gay runaways and homeless youth.

Later, apparently with permission from Charles, Bobbie asked Jimmy to be his escort to the event and mentioned that Charles was also fine with letting Jimmy spend the night with Bobbie at their mansion in Virginia.

Hmm … I wonder why Charles would do something like? Not Jimmy though; apparently the invitation seems only to have fueled his desire for Bobbie rather than arousing any suspicion.

In the end, Bobbie turned out to be the star of the show and the charity event itself a big success as it apparently raised a lot more money for gay runaway and homeless kids than this web site ever does.

Once the show was over, the two boys returned to the mansion. After chatting some about the show and a phone call from Charles, they ended up heading off to separate bedrooms. Alone in his, Jimmy discovered that Bobbie had given him the pair of white meshed panties he had worn that evening as a token of appreciation for being his escort.

Restless and unable to sleep, Jimmy got up and spent some time looking out the window. Finished, he returned to the bed and spied the panties he had earlier tossed aside. Impulsively perhaps, he decided to wear them to bed as an imperfect substitute for Bobbie himself.

In Chapter 18, which I’ve now posted, we’ll finish Part III of the story. We’ll see what happens at the mansion and then quickly skim over the events of next three months.

Please be aware this chapter is much longer than usual. If you need a break, you can always stop at the end of the first section and come back later. And you may possibly need a break at that point if I’ve done a good enough job writing that section🙂

Also, like I suggested last week, the ending of the chapter will probably feel a bit rushed and choppy so I apologize for that in advance.

I could have probably fleshed it out a bit more, but the chapter was already too long and there should be enough to let you know how things turned out.


Chapter 17 …

Looks like a target to me for some reason ...

Tonight’s chapter turned out to be longer than originally expected because of all the time I’ve spent rewriting. Next week’s chapter is longer still, at least at the moment. I’m still debating whether to split it in two because I have enough material to do so.

I probably won’t, however, since I feel like we need to move on to Part IV. The downside is that I’ll need to cut it back some if I decide not to split it. That could make it feel kind of choppy and rushed.

In any event, feel free to weigh in if you have an opinion one way or the other about what I should do.

To recap, the boys discussed Jimmy’s reaction to the fashion show and seeing Bobbie dressed up like a girl in last week’s chapter. While clearly uncomfortable with the whole thing, Jimmy also realized he had been attracted to Bobbie and struggled to explain his conflicted feelings.

After that the two boys spent the rest of the afternoon together, first in the game room and later swimming in the pool. When it was finally time for Jimmy to head back to Washington, Bobbie gave Jimmy his card and told him he was welcome back at the mansion anytime.

In the ensuing discussion Bobbie made it clear he was looking for a best friend, an opportunity Jimmy jumped at given his attraction to Bobbie. When Bobbie suggested being best friends might be difficult if Jimmy became a full member of the club, Jimmy quickly agreed to seek honorary membership so he would have more time to spend with Bobbie.

We also learned why Del had only been an honorary member of the club for so long, why Bobbie had come to Jimmy’s rescue when he lost the special drawing to Del, and how that eventually worked out. It’s another story entirely, but let’s hope it wasn’t too painful for little Ryan🙂

On the drive back to Washington Jimmy ended up berating himself for being too judgmental. He seems to realize, if only belatedly, that not everything he learned growing up in North Adams is necessarily true; that being gay, like being straight, is neither right nor wrong in itself. That a lot depends on how you treat other people.

In the end, realizing how much he likes Bobbie and wanting to spend more time with him, it seems like Jimmy is becoming more comfortable seeing himself as part of the gay community; though he doesn’t seem quite ready yet to admit everything that implies (and what seems obvious already to the rest of us).

It’s a delicate balancing act for Jimmy, one that could go either way.

Tonight the story moves forward from March to May. More relaxed, Jimmy will begin enjoying Washington more as well, some of his old fears replaced by new concerns.

How all of this will turn out for him remains to be seen, but tonight’s chapter, which I’ve now posted, will set the stage for the conclusion of Part III next week.

Have fun reading.

Chapter 16 …

It all depends on how you look at it ...

In last week’s chapter Jimmy and the rest of the boys traveled by limousine to Great Falls, Virginia, where they spent the day being entertained at the mansion where Charles and Bobbie live.

Before getting there, Jimmy had to endure a bit of skepticism from one of the boys about his relationship with Jeff. Fortunately Eric came to his rescue.

Having arrived at the mansion, the boys were served a lavish lunch, one followed by a fashion show in which Bobbie himself turned out to be the one modeling the latest in female attire. That left Jimmy panicked and hyperventilating, but Eric and Bobbie were able to calm him down.

Eric and Bobbie seem like decent enough dudes who understand how difficult it is for someone like Jimmy to face up to the truth. But whether their motives are entirely pure remains to be seen. Perhaps we’ll learn more tonight.

I mentioned in last week’s introduction to Chapter 15 that I wasn’t happy with what were supposed to be the final two chapters of Part III. In particular, the ending of this part of the story seemed much too rushed and confusing to me. To put it less generously, it was a disaster.

Dissatisfied, I’ve gone back to the drawing board and have done some extensive editing and rewriting . In the end, what were supposed to be the final two chapters have now become three.

I think I’ve improved the ending of Part III quite a bit, but one of the results is that the next two chapters will be a little shorter than usual. Depending on what you think of them, that might be a blessing in disguise🙂

In any event, I’ve just posted the new and shorter version of Chapter 16. Let’s hope the extra work I’ve put in pays off.

Chapter 15 …

Close enough :-)

Last week’s chapter ended a bit mysteriously. After deciding he and Jeff already had an open relationship, one requiring no further discussion between them, Jimmy also concluded that keeping Jeff happy was a job and managed to talk Jeff into giving him an allowance.

Deciding what he should do about the club turned out to be much harder for Jimmy, however. He wanted to join it, no doubt about it, but was also concerned he might end up having to do things that would challenge his sexual self-image.

When Eric called the next morning, Jimmy decided not to attend the lunch and club meeting that day. Once Eric hung up, however, Jimmy began to wonder whether he had made the right decision.

Later Eric called back and told Jimmy that Bobbie would be disappointed if Jimmy didn’t show up for the day’s events. That caused Jimmy to change his mind still again.

At lunch before the club meeting, Jimmy learned from one of the other club members how much the boys in the club were in awe of Bobbie. That didn’t come as any surprise to Jimmy given how attracted he already was to him.

Later, at the club meeting itself, Jimmy ended up losing the special drawing to Del. For some reason, however, Bobbie stepped in and offered Del a choice as to who he could spend time with during the coming week. Del quickly decided he wanted to be friends with Bobbie, not Jimmy.

While we’ll have to wait until next week to clear up that mystery, we’re down to the final three chapters of Part III. Given the absence of comments, it’s hard to tell whether anyone is still reading this story and that only reinforces my own doubts about it.

I’ve always felt what I was trying to do in this story was important. In retrospect, however, it would have probably benefited from a lot more work before starting to post it. I feel like I’ve spent too much time getting us to this point and too little on Part III’s denouement, which is still to come and is probably going to be much too rushed.

I’ve never believed in leaving readers high and dry by not finishing a story, but I’ve been thinking maybe this should be the exception. If you have any thoughts on that, feel free to weigh in.

In any event, I’ve now posted Chapter 15. If it strikes you as too bizarre, feel free to let me know that as well.

Chapter 14 …

A precarious perch indeed . . .

Monday is Labor Day in the United States and that’s traditionally considered the end of summer as well as an opportunity for one final blowout. Not that I’ll be guilty of doing something foolish like that, of course, but I’ll be taking the weekend off to spend some quality time reading and reflecting on life’s many conundrums 🙂

Part III of our story is slowly approaching its crescendo. Clinging to a familiar past, Jimmy is trying to decide whether to take the plunge into some less familiar waters. He’ll have to decide soon enough and tonight we’ll begin to get a glimpse of his answer.

Things will really begin to pick up with next week’s chapter and once they do they’ll move pretty rapidly. Everything we’ve read up until now is pointing us toward the next part of the story, which I consider both the best and indeed the very point of the tale. Whether you’ll agree or be happy with that remains to be seen.

In any event, after having lunch together at the Hawk and Dove in Chapter 12, Eric brought Jimmy to Head & Tails in last week’s chapter. Housed in a nondescript warehouse, Head and Tails turned out to be a different kind of gay establishment; one featuring semi-nude dancers, peep shows and adult movies, among other things.

Here the two boys caught a performance by Bobbie, who lives with someone named Charles but apparently dances part time at the place whenever he’s in Washington. To say Jimmy was shocked by what he saw would be an understatement; and yet it was also apparent he was attracted to Bobbie, who ended giving Jimmy his g-string.

During his break (and after spending time with the paying customers first), the three boys ended up talking about a variety of things. Jimmy was surprised to discover Bobbie was originally from a community close to North Adams.

Asked whether he might be interested in dancing at Head & Tails, Jimmy demurred. Later, on the walk back to Capitol Hill, Eric explained daddies to Jimmy and a bit more about the Triple C club. Back at home Jimmy tried on the g-string Bobbie had given him and ended up jerking off in the thing before falling asleep.

That’s where Chapter 14, which I’ve now posted, picks up. Have fun reading.

Chapter 13 …

pole dancer?

Last week’s chapter found Jimmy and Eric having lunch on Capitol Hill at a place called the Hawk and Dove. Unlike most of the places mentioned in the story, the Hawk and Dove (or Hawk ‘n’ Dove to be more precise) is an actual bar/pub/restaurant in Washington that’s been around for many years.

Opened originally in 1967, it has changed quite a bit since then. Indeed, that’s true for the Capitol Hill area generally, especially the Capitol itself and the surrounding congressional complex. Once considered the people’s house, the Capitol has been turned into an armed fortress these days that’s really only for political insiders, not ordinary Americans.

It’s a disgrace, but I digress.

The point is that the Hawk and Dove was a popular gathering spot on Capitol Hill back in the 1970s when our story takes place. While I’m told the current version is nothing like the original, feel free to check it out if you’re ever in Washington.

Most of the other places mentioned in the story are real in some sense as well. They’re fictionalized versions of actual places that existed in Washington a half century ago. In some cases I’ve tried to stay true to the original. The Hide and Seek, for example, is a fictional version of the Lost and Found, the biggest gay bar in Washington for many years back in the 1970s and 1980s.

I’ve tried to stick close to the original for many of the other places in the story like Exiles & Castaways and Outlaws. In some cases, however, I’ve taken liberties in one way or another for narrative purposes.

In tonight’s chapter, for example, you’ll be introduced to a place called Head & Tails. It’s an altered and somewhat cleaned up version of the Cinema Follies, which had a tragic but somewhat colorful history.

In trying to capture the era that I’m writing about, I’ve relied on accounts from others who were alive back then as well as on a lot of documentary records that have been collected and preserved about gay life in Washington by The Rainbow History Project.

The Project has done great work in preserving gay history in Washington. Feel free to contribute if you’re interested in supporting that work . . . and be sure to mention me if you do🙂

So, yeah, there’s a lot more that goes into writing a story like this than meets the eye; and while I think I’ve done a pretty good job of capturing the era, I’d be the last to say I’ve gotten everything exactly right.

But feel free to let me know if you have questions about any of the places mentioned. I’ll do my best to answer them, but keep in mind that I’ve barely scratched the surface of the many gay establishments that existed back in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s in Washington.

In any event, Jimmy and Eric discussed a variety of things over lunch at the Hawk and Dove, including Jimmy’s new outfit and his reaction to the bars he had visited that weekend. When Jimmy complained at one point about not having a job, Eric told him his job was to keep Jeff happy and that he should be getting an allowance for doing that.

In the ensuing discussion, the two exchanged thoughts on allowances and open relationships, revealed some secrets to one another, and finally got around to discussing the club Eric had mentioned to Jimmy when the two first met Friday evening.

Jimmy seemed interested in joining the club initially as a way of making some new friends. But once Eric explained how the club worked and what was involved, Jimmy became less certain what he wanted to do.

Toward the end of lunch Eric suggested the two visit a place called Head and Tails where Bobbie worked as a dancer and where Eric thought Jimmy might be able to get a job if he was still interested in doing so. Jimmy quickly agreed and that’s where this week’s chapter picks up.

I hope you’re reading this introduction since I left town on Wednesday and will not be back until Sunday. Scheduling these posts and a new chapter in advance is always a challenge for me🙂

Hopefully everything worked out fine. If so, have fun reading Chapter 13.