Chapter 21 …

grief

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2 thoughts on “Chapter 21 …

  1. You were in New England? Did you see my mom?

    As I read and then digest these recent chapters I keep thinking about how different things are now. I assume Tommy has been out of the picture since Jimmy left North Adams, and Jimmy’s ability to completely fall off of Jeff’s radar, and also how easy it was to separate and hide his true self from his parents …. with social media and instant communication now, those things just couldn’t happen. Which leads me to think about how much sooner we could have caught AIDS and how many lives could have been saved if social media had existed then.

    1. I was indeed in New England, Tim, but doubt I met your mother; which is probably good as the last thing I need is another tongue-lashing about how I’m corrupting her child with my stories 🙂

      But thanks for the comment. It was quite perceptive and I’m pretty disappointed I never thought about that myself. You’re right. Word about gay cancer would have spread a lot more rapidly back then if the internet had existed and we had all the different social media outlets we have now.

      Whether more lives would have been saved is hard to say for sure, but I suspect you’re right on that as well. For one thing, the politicians would have been forced to act much more rapidly so that would have helped.

      You’re also right that Jimmy would have had a much harder time keeping his secret. That’s why a lot of people moved far from home back then; to keep their secret from parents and friends and yet be able to live their lives a bit more openly than they could in their home towns.

      It is indeed amazing how much things have changed in the last half century. And yet the more they change in some ways, the more they stay the same way in others. I saw something online the other day about how STDs are rampant once again these days.

      I also saw something about how few gay men know about PrEP (less than half) and also how two gay men on PrEP had recently become infected with some rare strain of the HIV virus.

      So when you read things like that you have to wonder just how smarter we are these days.

      But it’s a great point, Tim, and one well worth thinking about. And I do hope everyone will feel free to chime in if they feel I’m getting the times wrong.

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