Chapter 09

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

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Homo!: Chapter 09

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SUMMARY: What if you were homosexual but refused to admit it to anyone, especially yourself? The year is 1971 and fourteen year old Jimmy Barnes has discovered growing up in a small town can be boring in a way not even the solitary masturbation sessions he enjoys so much can relieve. When his best friend takes a job at the local newspaper, Jimmy finds himself on his own for the summer. What follows is a decade long saga with numerous twists and turns, a tale that’ll reveal the best and the worst of the nineteen-seventies and beyond.

WARNING: This story is a work of adult fiction and intended for mature audiences only. Unless otherwise noted, all of the characters in the story are fictional; any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. While some of the places described or mentioned in the story are fictional as well, others may be real. However, some liberties may have been taken with the truth to enhance the story. Please note that the story may describe, depict or otherwise include graphic portrayals of relationships between men and/or adolescent boys that are homosexual in nature. If you do not like For approve of such discussions or it is illegal for you to read such material, consider yourself warned. If you continue to read this story, you are asserting you are fully capable of understanding and legally consenting to reading a work of adult fiction.

NOTICE: This story is my property and protected by the copyright laws of the United States and other countries. It may not be reproduced in any form without my written permission. You may download a single copy to read offline and to share with others as long as you credit me as the author. However, you may not use this work for commercial purposes or to profit from it in any way. You may not use any of the characters or fictional places in the story in your own work without my explicit permission. Nor may you use, alter, transform, or build upon the story in any way. If you share this story with others, you must make clear the terms under which it is licensed to them. The best way to do that is by linking to this web page.

NOTES: Please check these notes every week. If there’s something I want to alert you to as I post each chapter, this is where I will I do so.

HOMO!

Part III – March 1975

Chapter 9

Everyone was into it now, their bodies swaying in rhythm; even Jeff and I were into the song as we stared at the guys on the dance floor. They were holding their arms in the air, swinging them back and forth; they were becoming more and more frenzied. Their hips were bumping and grinding as if they were about to have sex right there in front of us.

The whole thing was unbelievable.

More than unbelievable really; shocking. And yet however shocking it was, there was something exciting about it as well. I was becoming aroused just watching the guys. By now they were dancing faster, singing the words of the song. Some were kissing passionately as the lights flashed wildly to the beat of the music.

It was surreal, at least that’s the word Jeff had used. I had no idea what it meant, but it sounded right to me.

“This music is really loud,” he shouted as the two of us stood there watching. “And the lights; the lights in this place are unbelievable.”

Tell me something I don’t know, Jeff. I’ve never seen anything like this before.

“Did you say something, Jimmy?” he asked, turning and looking at me.

“Uh, no;” I replied, returning his gaze. “But you’re right. The music, the lights; everything about this place is incredible.”

Jeff laughed.

We’re not in Kansas anymore, Jimmy.”

It was one of Jeff’s favorite sayings, but I didn’t have a clue what it meant. And yet now here I was in Washington, D.C., taking in something I could have never imagined in my wildest dreams.

“I need to go to the bathroom,” Jeff shouted above the din. “Do you want me to pick up a refill on the way back?”

“Um, sure,” I replied, grinning at him. “Another beer would be good.”

“No more beer tonight, Jimmy,” he said, returning my grin. “I don’t want you falling asleep on me when we get home tonight. You’ll have to settle for Coke.”

“Whatever,” I replied, annoyed. “But I don’t recall making any promises about later tonight before we left. You may find yourself sleeping alone if you’re going to be like that.”

I could tell immediately by the look in his eyes he was concerned, uncertain whether I was being serious or kidding. I stuck my tongue out at him and grinned. Reassured, he turned and headed off, leaving me standing there by myself.

Looking around, nothing had changed except for the song.

Gloria Gaynor was gone now, replaced by Frankie Valli, and just like that the mood of the place had changed. Guys were slow dancing now, their bodies wrapped tightly together. Some were hugging and kissing while others were feeling each other up right there on the dance floor in front of me.

Unbelievable! This place is totally unbelievable.

It was late March, about two months since my arrival in Washington. I had told Jeff earlier that evening I was thinking of moving back to North Adams. I didn’t have any friends and was bored. I had been telling Jeff how unhappy I was for weeks, but it wasn’t until I mentioned going home that it seemed to sink in.

“Don’t do that, Jimmy,” he pleaded. “I’ve been meaning to take you to some places where you might meet more guys your age. I’m not that familiar with them, but there’s this one place someone mentioned to me. It’s a gay bar called the Hide and Seek. I’ve never been there myself, but he says it’s a fun place. Would you like to check it out with me tonight? Please.”

“Sure,” I responded, desperate to try anything new even if the place catered to guys like Jeff who were different.

Or should I say gay?

Like Kevin in Albany, Jeff had been telling me lately I should use the word gay to describe him and his friends. I didn’t have a problem with that. Whatever the right word might be, however, I was surprised when we got to the place.

Everywhere I looked there were guys. Jeff had told me there would be lots of them, but I couldn’t believe there were that many guys who were gay. Back in North Adams, Jeff was the only one I knew for sure who was like that; although I had begun to have suspicions about Kevin as well.

But here I was in a bar in Washington that catered to guys who liked guys. They were everywhere. Some of them were dancing together, which was incredible. I mean, guys dancing together? I could have never imagined something like that in my wildest dreams.

Others were playing pool or games on the different machines scattered around the place. They were pretending to be absorbed in what they were doing even though it was apparent they were checking out everyone passing by.

But most of the guys were just standing around like Jeff and me waiting for something to happen.

What, Jimmy? What are they waiting for? Why are they here?

You know why they’re here, Jimmy.

They’re looking to meet other men like themselves.

That was what made the place so different, so exotic, so wicked; along with the fact that it was huge, of course. I had never seen a bar as large as this one. But it was different in other ways as well.

It had that elaborate lighting system that fascinated me and disc jockeys to play the music continuously. They knew how to blend one song into another seamlessly to make the place come alive and then calm it down. They made Dick Clark and American Bandstand look like a bunch of amateurs, that’s for sure.

Even more exciting was all the energy the place exuded. It made your heart pump. I liked being there and was glad Jeff had brought me. It wasn’t boring like North Adams even if the men were different.

There were some girls walking around the place, but not many and hardly any of the men were paying attention to them. In fact, they almost seemed out of place even though some of them were good looking enough.

But even leaving aside how few women there were, I couldn’t get over the fact there could be this many men who liked other men. When Jeff told me there would be lots at the place, I thought maybe he was talking about twenty or thirty guys.

But everywhere I looked there were men; hundreds of men and you could tell pretty quickly most of them were gay just by the way they walked and talked and carried themselves. There were even some boys my age scattered in; not a lot, but some.

To be honest, the place made me nervous at first. I remember being glad Jeff didn’t carry on like a lot of these men were doing, at least not most of the time. Sometimes when we smoked pot alone he would act a little weird. But he wasn’t like that in public and I was grateful for that.

But soon enough I had relaxed and now here I was by myself looking at all the men because I didn’t know what else to do while Jeff was off at the bathroom.

Judging by the number of people trying to buy drinks, it was obvious it was going to be a while before he got back; and since I didn’t know what else to do, I just stood there looking, trying to ignore all the guys walking by who were staring at me and smiling.

There must have been at least ten older guys who had done that since Jeff left me alone and I was beginning to feel self-conscious. They were probably assuming I was different too even though I wasn’t; at least not the way they were.

I mean, sure, Jeff and I had sex, but that was different. He was the one who was gay, not me. Not that there was anything wrong with it, but I didn’t want guys getting the wrong idea.

****

Lost in my thoughts, I was surprised when I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around. Standing in front of me was a boy maybe a year or two younger than me. Jeff had told me you had to be eighteen to get into the place and they had checked my license on the way in.

It made me wonder how someone as young as him had gotten in.

“Hi,” he said. “My name is Eric. What’s yours?”

“Jimmy,” I replied, surprised he had just come up and started talking to me like that.

“I saw you and your friend standing here,” he continued. “When he left, you looked kind of lost so I figured I’d come over and introduce myself.”

“Um, well, thanks,” I replied. “You’re right. I do feel kind of lost in here.”

“But now you’ve been found,” he said, grinning at me.

His grin was infectious and I liked the way he had put it; about me being lost and then found. It was exactly the way I was feeling right about then since most of the guys in the place seemed older than the two of us.

Although some people might have been turned off by the zits that were still wreaking havoc with his face, Eric was cute; and yet what did it for me was his grin. It was a friendly grin, a welcoming grin, and I was glad to meet someone around my own age.

“You’re new here, aren’t you?” he continued. “I know everyone in this place and I’ve never seen you here before so you must be new. Is this your first time?”

“It is,” I said. “I just moved to Washington in January. I’m living with a friend from my home town and he suggested we come here tonight. So, yeah, this is the first time I’ve been to this place. It’s, uh . . . different, I guess; not what I expected.”

“What were you expecting, Jimmy?” he asked.

“Uh, well, I dunno,” I replied. “Someplace darker, I guess, smaller; maybe twenty or thirty people, but definitely not this.”

Eric laughed.

“Yeah,” he replied. “This place can be pretty overwhelming, especially for people like you new to Washington. It’s the biggest gay bar in the District of Columbia; it also has the best dance floors and music if that’s what you’re into.”

“But you shouldn’t feel nervous or out of place,” he added. “Everyone here is new in a way. That’s the way it is in Washington. You get people from all over the country here. Except me, of course; I’m from the Maryland suburbs myself, but I’m living in Washington now. Where are you and your daddy from?”

“Massachusetts,” I said, surprised the kid had mistaken Jeff for my father.

I mean, sure, Jeff was older than me, but not that much older. Eric couldn’t have gotten a very close look at him if he thought Jeff was my Dad.

“North Adams, Massachusetts, to be precise,” I added.

“Is that near Boston?” he asked. “I know four or five people here tonight from Boston. I could introduce you to them if you want.”

“No,” I replied. “North Adams is about as far from Boston as you can get and still be in Massachusetts. It’s at the other end of the state, right in the corner where Massachusetts, Vermont and New York come together. You’ve probably never heard of it.”

“I see,” Eric said, totally uninterested in my geography lesson. “Well wherever it is, it isn’t here and you’re here now, thank God. Washington can always use more cute boys. Welcome to Washington, Jimmy.”

“Thanks,” I responded. “And by the way, just so you know, that guy you saw me with before; Jeff? He’s my friend, not my Dad. You must be blind if you thought he was my father; either that or you didn’t get a very good look at him. He’s only 25 and I’m 19 so there’s no way he could be my Dad.”

“Assuming he was interested in being a Dad,” I added, smirking. “In case you didn’t notice, he isn’t into the girls that much.”

“I noticed,” Eric responded, giggling. “There aren’t many guys in here interested in girls. Are you, Jimmy?”

“I like girls just fine,” I said. “I had a couple of girlfriends back home.”

“I see,” Eric replied. “But now you’re living in Washington with a guy older than you.”

I wasn’t sure what to make of that so I didn’t say anything.

“And I didn’t call him your Dad, silly,” he added, giggling. “I called him your daddy. There’s a difference, you know.”

I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about and I guess he must have seen the puzzled look on my face.

“Or maybe you don’t know,” he continued, giggling again. “It doesn’t matter I suppose. We can talk about it later. But you’re lucky; I’ll say that. Most of the boys in here like us have, uh, friends that are a lot older than yours; and yours is even good looking, very good-looking. Like I said, you’re lucky.”

“Uh, well, like I mentioned, he’s just a friend,” I said, not wanting Eric to think I was gay too.

“So what do you think of this place?” Eric asked, smiling at me.

“It’s, uh . . . it’s different from any bar I’ve ever been in before, that’s for sure,” I replied. “I like it though. The lights, the music, the excitement; I like it. It can be confusing at times though.”

“How so?” Eric asked.

“Uh, well, take that woman over there,” I said, pointing across the way.

“What about her?” Eric responded.

“I’m not sure why exactly,” I said, “but I’m kind of wondering whether she really is a woman at all. She looks like a guy dressed up as a woman.”

“That’s Franny.” Eric replied, nodding his head. “His real name is Francis, but he goes by Franny Fanny. He’s a drag queen. Hardly any of the drag queens hang out here at the Hide and Seek. They have their own bars. But Franny is kind of a fixture here. Do you want me to introduce you to her?”

“Oh, jeez, no,” I said, shocked by the suggestion. “I don’t know why a guy would dress up like a woman in the first place, but he looks really freaky dressed like that, don’t you think?”

“Freaky is kind of a harsh term, Jimmy,” Eric responded. “I admire Franny’s courage for being who she is and so does everyone else in here. She may not be the best looking drag queen in the world, but she’s a real sweetie deep down inside.”

“Here, let’s go talk to her,” Eric added, taking me by the arm and dragging me halfway across the floor to where the guy was standing.

“Eric, love,” Franny said, smiling at the kid. “So nice to see you and your very handsome young friend. You have excellent taste in your friends, Eric.”

“His name is Jimmy, Franny,” Eric replied, “and he was just telling me how beautiful you looked. Weren’t you, Jimmy.”

“Uh, yeah,” I lied, playing along.

“Oh, you’re such a sweetie for saying that, Jimmy; thank you,” the guy said, leaning down and kissing me on the cheek.

By then I was in total shock. I didn’t know what to say or do. I could barely breath.

“Jimmy’s new here, Franny, and I think you may be the first drag queen he’s ever seen,” Eric chimed in. “Isn’t that right, Jimmy?”

“Uh, yeah,” I replied. “Nice to meet you, uh . . . uh . . . .

“Franny,” Eric said, realizing I wasn’t sure how to address the guy. “Nice to meet you, Franny. That’s what Jimmy’s trying to say, but your beauty has left him tongue-tied.”

“Oh, I understand perfectly,” the guy responded, smiling at me. “But I’m sorry, Jimmy. I absolutely refuse to date younger men like you.”

“I told him that, Franny,” Eric said, “but he was just so smitten. He insisted I introduce you even though I told him you’d break his heart.”

“You should introduce him to Bobbie, Eric,” Ralph replied. “I think Bobbie would be all that’s needed to mend that broken heart of his.”

“I will, Franny,” Eric said, kissing the guy on the cheek and leading me back to where we had met originally.

“You see; that wasn’t so hard, was it?” Eric added. “Drag queens are people too, Jimmy, and you just made Franny’s night by speaking to him. He’ll remember that and put in a good word for you with everyone he knows; and, believe me, Franny knows everyone in Washington, just like me.”

“He seemed, uh . . . okay; not at all what I expected,” I replied, still in a state of shock about what had happened. “I didn’t mean to be harsh like that. You were right. I’ve never seen a drag queen before and I guess I was just surprised. You’ll have to tell me more about them; drag queens, I mean.”

“I understand,” Eric said. “I can teach you a lot if you’re willing to learn.”

****

Right about then Jeff reappeared and joined us, drinks in hand.

“And who do we have here?” he asked, looking at Eric. “I go off to the bathroom and to get drinks and it looks like you’ve already made a new friend, Jimmy.”

“Eric,” the kid replied. “My name is Eric; and you must be Jeff. Jimmy was just telling me all about you and I was telling him how lucky he was to have a good looking friend like you.”

“Thanks,” Jeff said, shuffling his feet nervously, as if embarrassed by the compliment. “But I’m the lucky one; having a friend like Jimmy. Do you live in Washington, Eric?”

“I do,” Eric replied. “I live up on Capitol Hill with my, uh . . . my friend. He works for a congressman.”

“Really,” Jeff said, “which one?”

Suddenly Eric, who had been quite talkative up until then, fell silent.

“Oh, jeez, never mind; I shouldn’t have asked that I suppose,” Jeff finally said, realizing Eric wasn’t going to respond. “I’m just kind of curious because I work for a congressman too. He was elected last November and offered me a job on his staff after he won. Jimmy and I just moved to Washington recently.”

“Interesting,” Eric said. “Are the two of you are planning to live together for the foreseeable future?”

“I hope so,” Jeff replied. “We’re, uh . . . we’re friends and I’m renting a townhouse over on Capitol Hill. It’s one of those deals where I have an option to buy the place at the end of two years if I like it. I’ll probably do that if my boss gets reelected; buy it at the end of two years, I mean.”

“Good for you,” Eric said. “Do you like the place, Jimmy?”

“Yeah, it’s fine,” I responded. “It’s bigger than I expected; a little noisy at times from all the cars going by. But, then again, anyplace in the city would be noisy I suppose. I guess it’s going to take some adjusting for me to get used to that if I decide to stay.”

“Are you thinking of leaving?” Eric asked, picking up on my words.

He seemed to be good at that; listening to people and hearing what they were really saying.

Looking over, I could see Jeff was as interested in my response as Eric.

“I’m not sure,” I said. “I like living in a big city. I like Jeff’s place and Jeff’s a friend. But he’s my only friend in Washington right now and I don’t have a job. I need to make some more friends so I’m not stuck home alone all day with nothing to do.”

“I see,” Eric replied. “I’m sure you’ll make more friends if you stay, Jimmy, especially if you come back to places like this. My friend Bob and I live up on the Hill too; actually most of my closest friends live on the Hill.”

“That’s what I love about this place; Hide and Seek, I mean. It’s just so close to the Hill. I can walk here when Bob’s working late and entertain myself while he slaves away doing the nation’s business.”

“You’ll have to get used to that, Jimmy,” he added, looking over at me. “Jeff is an important person doing the nation’s work; and those congressmen are meanies, slave drivers really. You’ll have to get used to him getting home late. Won’t he, Jeff?”

“I guess,” Jeff responded. “I didn’t get home until 10 o’clock the day of the swearing in. But it’s not too bad right now. I guess it will be in a couple of months, but the House was in recess most of February and even now it’s not very busy.”

“Both of us are glad about that Jimmy, aren’t we?” he added, rubbing my back with his hand and letting it drift down to my butt.

It was embarrassing, him doing that in front of Eric. It made me mad.

“I guess,” I said, stepping away from him so he wouldn’t be able to do it anymore. “But it gets boring being alone in that house all day. You need to find me a job, Jeff; the sooner, the better. You promised you would.”

“I will,” he replied; “at least I’m trying my best. But it’s not something you need to worry about. I’m not charging you rent and I’m happy to buy whatever you need. You know that, Jimmy.”

“That’s very generous of you, Jeff,” Eric interjected. “Bob’s the same way with me; always telling me how I don’t need to work, that he’ll take care of me no matter what. It’s a big relief knowing that; and most of my friends think the same thing. They’re grateful to have friends like you, Jeff.”

“Though I can understand how Jimmy feels as well,” he added. “Sometimes it does get a little boring when you’re not working. You can only sleep so late in the morning or watch so many soap operas during the day. After a while I get restless myself like Jimmy.”

“That’s why I introduced myself to him. Me and my friends have a little club and we get together at least once a week if we can; sometimes more often. We play cards and games or visit the monuments; you know, stuff that’s fun and keeps us entertained. It helps keep the boredom away.”

“I see,” Jeff responded. “That sounds like a good thing.”

“How long are you guys going to be here tonight?” Eric asked.

“Not too long,” Jeff responded. “This is our first time. It’s better than I thought it would be. I thought it would be a dive, but it’s really very nice. But Jimmy and I have plans for the evening, don’t we, babe?’

Babe?

I couldn’t believe he had said that in front of Eric. By now I was steaming.

“Call me babe again, Jeff, and I may deck you,” I said, pushing back. “Unlike a lot of people in here, I’m a guy; a real one. If you’re looking for a babe, look elsewhere.”

“Sorry,” he responded. “I didn’t mean anything by it, Jimmy. I apologize.”

“You’re right,” Eric interjected, trying to smooth things over by changing the subject. “This place isn’t a dive, but Washington has plenty of dives too. It has a gazillion bars, bathhouses, restaurants and other places where guys like to get together and have fun. You’ll have to let me and Bob show the two of you around sometime.”

“Sure,” Jeff responded. “That would be helpful. Isn’t that so, Jimmy?”

“I guess,” I said, still seething from his earlier remark.

“Well, it’s settled then,” Eric said, winking at me. “The three of us are officially friends; and being a good friend, I’ll bring some of my friends and their friends around to meet the two of you if you stick around a while longer. That way you can go home later on knowing you’ve made a bunch of new friends.”

“Sounds good,” Jeff said.

And that’s exactly what happened. Jeff and I spent the next two hours exploring the Hide and Seek. Wherever we went Eric was there, usually with two new dudes he wanted to introduce. It didn’t take long to notice the pattern. There was always an older guy who would spend time talking to Jeff while Eric and I would talk to some younger boy about the same age as us.

Not that I was complaining. I was glad to be finally meeting some people my own age even if their friends seemed much older.

You’re not the only one in the world who needs a regular outlet, Jimmy. Those boys are probably just as horny as you.

Like I said, it had been nice to meet Eric and his friends. By the time the evening was over we had even exchanged telephone numbers, with Eric promising to call me on Monday. I was looking forward to that. It would be good to have someone to talk to besides Jeff.

Eventually the lights in the place started blinking.

“Closing time,” Eric said, seeing the confused look on my face. “Do you mind if I enlist Jimmy to help me find Bob, Jeff? I never know where that man is and finding him at the end of the evening can be a pain in the butt. It would be great if Jimmy could help. I promise to bring him back as soon as we find my friend.”

“Sure,” Jeff said. “Just don’t be too long. I’m looking forward to getting home and getting to bed,” he added, grinning.

I glared at him, then turned and walked away with Eric.

“You should have stuck out your tongue at him,” Eric whispered as the two of us walked off; “let him know not to take anything for granted.”

I didn’t say anything in response, but decided to ask a question instead.

“I notice you keep referring to the guy you live with as Bob or your friend in front of Jeff. But when it’s just the two of us talking, you call him your daddy. What’s that all about?”

“Oh, good, you’re very perceptive, Jimmy,” he replied. “I like that. But why don’t we talk about that on Monday when I call. By the way, where do the two of you live on Capitol Hill exactly?”

“It’s near 6th and Pennsylvania Avenue,” I replied.

“Great,” Eric said. “That’s close to where Bob and I live. You can invite me over to your place or you can come over to mine; whichever you prefer. That’ll be better than talking on the phone. Maybe we could even have lunch together. How about I call around 11:45 a.m. and you pencil me in for lunch on your calendar?”

“Sure,” I responded, laughing. “That’s fine, but I don’t have a calendar. My days are pretty much free except for when Jeff gets home.”

“Then we’ll just have to fill them up, won’t we?” Eric replied, winking at me in a knowing way that left me confused.

Eventually Eric and I found Bob hanging all over some young boy near the back of the bar. Disentangling him from the boy’s arms, Eric led the three of us back to Jeff. I was surprised he wasn’t upset with his friend. I would have been.

“It was very nice to meet you, Jeff,” he said. “I’m the unofficial gay welcome wagon around this place and it’s been pretty busy the last month or two. It usually is about this time of year after an election.”

“You know how it is, Jeff. Some people leave town, defeated, after an election while others arrive to remake the world. But it’s always nice to meet someone around my age like Jimmy; and someone handsome and masculine like you, Jeff.”

“Will we see you next weekend?” he added.

“Maybe,” Jeff replied. “This was definitely an interesting experience and you did offer to be our tour guide. We’ll probably be here; assuming Jimmy wants to come back, of course.”

“I do,” I replied. “It was fun.”

And with that Jeff and I made our way to the front door and left.

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