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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.
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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. August 12, 2016: I’ll be away this weekend and unable to post or respond to comments. If there any, I’ll deal with them when I get back.
At some point I realized I had seen just about everything there was to see at Exiles & Castaways. I liked the place. I liked it even better than Hide and Seek because there were more boys my age and thus a better chance of making new friends.
Still, Exiles & Castaways was intimidating in some ways if only because the other boys seemed a lot more self-confident than me with what they were doing.
That’s because they know their way around these bars, Jimmy. You’re still learning. They could be ignoring you completely, but they’re not. They want to be friends with you. The question is whether you want to be friends with them.
I had been shocked when Eric told me how they earned a living; that some of them were paid by older men to have sex with them.
It seemed wrong somehow; I mean, taking money in exchange for sex. And yet I could understand what it was like not having money. I didn’t have any myself. Being on your own without any money like these boys seemed even scarier.
What would you do if Jeff ever decided to dump you, Jimmy? Where would you live? How would you feed yourself?
Asking those questions made me uncomfortable because I couldn’t answer them. They also made me wonder whether I was taking Jeff for granted.
He liked me. I knew that. In some ways I realized I had even taken advantage of how he felt about me for my own selfish purposes. I felt bad about that, but tried to reassure myself I wasn’t a bad person.
It’s not like you’re not giving back, Jimmy.
You make dinner for Jeff most evenings. I mean, you’re not his wife, but you try to help out around the house in different ways. You do a lot for him. You give him massages when he gets home from work. He likes those. They make him frisky and he likes what you do to him when he gets in the mood even more.
It’s not like it’s a one way street.
The next thing I knew Jeff was waving his hand in front of my eyes.
“Are you still there, Jimmy?” he asked, smiling at me.
It made me laugh.
“Yeah,” I confessed. “I was just thinking about something. That’s never a good thing for someone stupid like me.”
“You’re not stupid, Jimmy, not at all,” Jeff replied. “I don’t know why you keep saying that. I’ve told you a million times you’re not. What were you thinking about?”
“Oh, I was just thinking how lucky I was to have a good friend like you, Jeff,” I said. “I know I can be a pain in the butt sometimes, but I don’t really mean it. I really do like you. It’s just that sometimes I don’t understand all of this stuff.”
“Like what?” he asked.
“Like why you like me so much, for example?”
I could tell from his reaction I had made him happy by what I had said and I was glad about that.
“You’re definitely a pain in the butt,” he joked, a grin spreading across his face, “but that’s one of the things I like the most about you; that pain in the butt you so eagerly provide every night. I love it.”
It made me laugh because I understood what he was saying.
“Sometimes it’s hard to know why we like someone, Jimmy,” he continued, turning more serious. “Take us, for example; we’re different in a lot of ways. Someone looking at us might find himself puzzled why we like one another.”
“I don’t know why I like you so much exactly; love you, really. I mean, I know you get embarrassed when I use that word, but I do love you. Being around you makes me happy and that makes all the difference for me.”
“But that’s probably a conversation for another night,” he added. “When I saw you off in your own little world, I thought you were probably just bored.”
“I guess I was in a way,” I responded, “but I’m glad we came here. This place is different from the Hide and Seek and I want to come back again. But I’m ready to go somewhere else if you want. Do you want me to talk to Eric about that?”
“That’s fine,” Jeff replied. “I guess this is all part of figuring out the lay of the land in Washington.”
Having settled the matter, I went looking for Eric. From across the room I could see him having a conversation with another boy whose back was turned to me. Not wanting to interrupt, I just stood there staring at the two of them.
At some point Eric caught sight of me. The next thing I knew he and the boy he was talking to had shifted positions so the boy was looking at me.
Then he smiled.
The moment he did, my knees began shaking and my heart began pounding as well.
Unbelievable, Jimmy; that has to be the best looking boy I’ve ever seen in my life.
I mean, he was so good looking it was scary. And his smile? His smile overpowered me and left me completely helpless.
I tried to return it, but wasn’t sure if I had or was just making some kind of goofy face that would embarrass me. I remember feeling self-conscious about how stupid I must look.
At that point the boy turned his attention to Eric briefly, said something, and then walked off in the opposite direction. Eric looked over and smiled at me, then quickly made his way to my side.
“Are you looking for me?” he asked.
“I am,” I replied. “Jeff and I are getting a little bored with this place. If you’re still interested, we’re willing to go to that other bar you mentioned, that leather bar; Outlaws.”
“But we don’t have to rush,” I quickly added, desperately searching the place to see where the other boy had gone.
In spite of my efforts, I couldn’t locate him anywhere. It was as if he had disappeared into thin air.
“Do you know what a leather bar is?” Eric asked.
“Not really,” I replied. “Is the furniture leather or what?”
Eric burst out laughing.
“No,” he replied. “There’s no leather furniture at a leather bar, at least not at Outlaws. We should definitely go there though. Let’s round up, Jeff. Bob will prefer staying here.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because Bob has a thing for young boys and the young boys in here have a thing for Bob’s money. Of course, Bob doesn’t pay for sex because he’s too proud to do that so that limits his possibilities. Like everyone else, he prefers being loved for his own sake, not for his money.”
“That’s why he likes me so much,” Eric added, grinning. “Not because I love him; I don’t and he knows that. But he likes me because I tell him the truth while the rest of these boys just flatter him.”
For some reason Eric was being candid with me so I decided to pursue the point.
“Aren’t you worried he might, uh, he might . . .”
What I wanted to ask was whether he should be concerned about Bob running off with some other boy while Eric was away with me, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to say the words.
“No,” Eric replied, apparently aware of what I’d been thinking. “He’ll flirt. He’ll pay for their drinks so they’ll talk to him, but he won’t run off with them. He’ll still be here by the time we get back.”
With that the two of us went in search of Jeff. Across the room I could see him talking with a boy not much older than me. Unlike Eric, that bothered me for some reason. I guess it made me feel insecure, but the boy quickly scurried off as we approached.
“Jeez, I leave you alone for five minutes to find Eric and you’ve already found yourself another little friend,” I said to Jeff.
“Do I detect a hint of jealousy?” he replied, smiling at me.
“I’m not jealous,” I insisted. annoyed. “That boy just looked like a hustler to me.”
“And since when did you become an expert on hustlers?” Jeff replied. “What do they look like exactly, Jimmy?”
He was calling me out in front of Eric and that was annoying because he was right. I didn’t know anything about hustlers.
“I don’t know, Jeff,” I replied. “You’re probably right. I’m too stupid to know much of anything; except I did have the sense to come back to see whether you want to go to Outlaws with Eric and me.”
“Why don’t you and Eric go by yourselves?” he replied. “I’d just be a third wheel. Go take a look and then you can tell me all about it when we get home.”
By now I was steaming. For some reason Jeff seemed to be blowing me off. I wasn’t sure why, but it made me wonder whether he was interested in spending more time alone with one of the other boys at Exiles & Castaways.
Maybe he’s trying to let you know you’re not the only good looking boy in the world, Jimmy. You need to show him you’re not scared about being dumped.
“Okay, we will,” I said, defiantly. “Come on, Eric. You heard the man. It looks like it’s just the two of us.”
“What was that all about?” Eric asked as we walked out the door and turned down the street.
“I don’t know,” I replied. “You tell me.”
“It could be he’s trying to show he trusts you by letting us go by ourselves; or it could be something else. I don’t think so, however. I’ve seen how Jeff looks at you, Jimmy. He’s definitely smitten with you.”
“Yeah, well, he didn’t seem all that smitten a few moments ago. In any event, forget about it. Show me this new place.”
As we started across the street, I decided to ask Eric another question.
“Uh, who was that boy you were talking to just before you came over to me?”
“Which one?” he asked. “I’ve been talking to quite a few people tonight.”
“The good looking one,” I responded. “I know that sounds stupid, but he was the best looking kid in that place by far.”
“Bobbie,” he said. “You must be talking about Bobbie; and it ends with an i and an e, not with a y. Bobbie’s special, no doubt about it. Did he interest you?”
“Uh, well, I mean . . . not really . . . I mean I don’t know; maybe a little” I stammered. “He was just, uh, you know, just very good looking; more so than the rest of the boys in there. I thought maybe it would be worthwhile becoming friends with him. Is he, uh . . . is he a hustler?”
“No,” Eric replied.
I remember being relieved.
“Does he have, uh . . . I mean . . . uh . . .”
“Does he have a friend?” Eric asked, helping me get the words out of my mouth.
“Yeah,” I replied, hoarsely, my throat having gone dry in the cold air.
“He does,” Eric replied, “but it’s complicated. We should talk about it later.”
By that time we had reached our destination. As much as I was interested in learning more, I decided not to press Eric about it.
Entering Outlaws, I was surprised. It was about the same size as Exiles & Castaways on the inside, but everything else about the place was different; the look, the feel, the music. Even the crowds were totally different.
Exiles & Castaways seemed to cater to a mix of boys around my age and men in their twenties or thirties who dressed conservatively. There were far fewer boys in Outlaws; hardly any at all. So much so Eric and I stood out; we just didn’t fit in and that made me self-conscious.
As with the other bars, however, Eric seemed to know everyone and everyone seemed to like him. That made things easier and I tried to relax.
Surveying the place, the men at Outlaws seemed to fall into two categories; like Exiles & Castaways, some were in their late twenties or thirties. The rest seemed forty or older. Whatever their age, all of them were dressed oddly.
Some were wearing jeans like me, but most were dressed in leather apparel; pants, vests, and a weird variety of caps and hats. Many sported thick leather belts and wristbands with silver studs. Some were even wearing those kinds of bands around their necks; and wherever you looked there were lots of silver chains draped over their bodies as well.
That alone probably wouldn’t have been enough to turn me off. But the men, especially the older men, seemed to like sporting beards and mustaches in various shapes and forms. That was a turn-off.
They were also much more muscular than most of the men I had met in the bars up until now; and yet there was something weird about their muscles. Although some seemed reasonably normal, most of the dudes were pumped up to almost grotesque levels; and yet most of them sported pot bellies as well.
Entering the place, I had seen a ton of motorcycles out front and wondered whether these men were members of some kind of weird biker gang.
Eric must have seen how shocked I was because he giggled momentarily and then asked a question.
“Like it?” he asked.
“What is this place,” I whispered, “and who are these people?”
“Leather is an acquired taste,” Eric responded, laughing. “But these are the butchest men in Washington and their slaves.”
“Butch?” I asked. “Slaves?”
“Butch is just another term for masculine,” Eric replied. “And the slaves are the younger ones, the ones who bottom for their masters.”
“Uh, the ones who get fucked,” Eric replied. “But they’re not all masters and slaves; I was exaggerating. Bears and cubs is probably a better term for them. Some of them are definitely into the master/slave thing though.”
“I could care less,” I responded. “They look like some kind of weird joke to me. They may have muscles, but most of these guys are old and fat.”
“It’s true that a lot of them are actually accountants and lawyers in real life,” he said, “but you should think of them as the counterpart to those drag queens I mentioned to you last night.”
“Whatever,” I said. “I think I prefer the drag queens.”
“And another thing,” I added. “What’s with all the hankies?”
“What do you mean?” Eric responded.
“Why are so many of the guys in this bar walking around with hankies stuffed in their pockets? I mean, they’re very colorful; I’ll grant you that. And they even look kind of cool. But does everyone in this place have a cold or something? I mean, I’ve hardly ever seen anyone walking around with a hanky like that in Hide and Seek or Exiles & Castaways. What’s the deal?”
“That’s what I love about you, Jimmy,” Eric replied. “Sometimes I feel like I’m talking to an alien from some other planet. But it’s simple really. These guys wear those bandanas to signal what they’re into sexually. It’s called the hanky code.”
“The hanky code?” I asked, confused again. “What’s that?”
“The hanky code,” Eric replied, reassuring me.
“For example, take that dude over there,” he added, pointing a guy standing about twenty feet away whose back was turned to us.
He was wearing a navy blue handkerchief in his back pocket.
“What about him?” I said.
“He wants to be fucked tonight,” Eric replied.
“How could you possibly know that?” I asked, shocked.
“It’s the code,” Eric replied, shrugging his shoulders. “Everyone knows.”
Grabbing me by the arm, he started walking me around the bar. Eventually he stopped.
“There,” he said, pointing at still another dude. “You see that dude over there wearing the navy blue bandanna.”
“Yeah,” I replied.
“What’s different about him than the other guy you pointed out?” Eric asked.
I took another look, but couldn’t see anything different.
“Nothing,” I said. “I mean, he seems to be wearing the exact same handkerchief as the other guy you just pointed out.”
“He is,” Eric said. “But he’s wearing it in his left pocket, not his right.”
“So?” I said, not seeing the point.
“Wearing a navy blue bandana in your left pocket signals you’re looking for someone to fuck; if you wear it in your right pocket, you’re indicating you want to be fucked.”
“How do you know that?” I asked again, surprised.
“I dunno,” Eric replied, shrugging his shoulders. “I just do. Everybody knows the hanky code; I mean everyone who’s gay, that is.”
“I didn’t,” I replied.
“That’s because you’re new to town,” Eric said. “You’ll learn soon enough. The hanky code makes things easier for a lot of people. They don’t want to spend all night flirting around with different guys and trying to find out what they’re into. With the hanky code, it’s all there in plain sight and just makes things simpler.”
“But not everyone is wearing one,” I said. “You’re not. Neither am I or most of the people in Exiles & Castaways.”
“Not everyone wants to be obvious about things like that; and most guys are versatile about what they’ll do in bed. If they meet someone they like, they’re usually willing to do whatever it takes to make the dude happy.”
That seemed to make sense so I moved on to another question.
“Well, then, what are all the different colors about? I mean, I see a lot of navy blue ones. But there are other colors as well.”
“Like that dude over there,” I added, pointing. “He’s wearing a yellow hanky in his pocket. What does that mean?”
“You don’t want to know,” Eric said, grinning at me.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You do not want to know,” Eric insisted, giggling.
“I do,” I replied, wondering what was so funny.
“Okay, then,” Eric said, “But don’t say I didn’t warn you. What’s yellow and comes out of your body?”
I pondered his question for a moment, but couldn’t figure it out at first. Then something occurred to me, but I knew that couldn’t be what Eric was talking about.
“The only thing I can think of that’s yellow and comes out of my body is . . .”
“Exactly” Eric interjected before I could finish the thought.
“I don’t understand,” I replied.
Leaning over, Eric whispered into my ear.
“That dude is looking for someone to piss on him.”
“No; you’re kidding me,” I said, stunned.
I couldn’t believe it.
“I’m not, Jimmy,” he replied, crossing his heart. “I swear I’m telling you the truth.”
I remember being shocked; more than shocked really. It must have been obvious because Eric was pointing at me and giggling and that made me start giggling as well.
After that Eric took me on a tour of the place, pointing out guys with different colored bandanas in different pockets. I was surprised at just how many different colors there were and soon enough I was asking Eric what they meant when I spotted one first.
“What about that dude?” I asked, looking a fat older dude wearing a brown bandana in his pocket.
“That’s another no-no,” Eric replied.
“What do you mean?”
“Think about it,” he said. “What comes out of your body and is brown?”
I hadn’t realized it, but now it was obvious and I remember gagging momentarily.
“You can’t be serious,” I said, shaking my head in disbelief. “You cannot be serious, Eric. That’s gross; totally gross.”
“Like the song says, different strokes for different folks, Jimmy,” he replied. “You and I may not be into it; not many are, but some people are into it and I guess they have to have some way of finding one another.”
I couldn’t believe it. And yet by now I was curious and kept asking whenever I saw a different colored bandana. Eric seemed to know what all of the colors meant.
“What about those two dudes talking over there?” I asked.
They were wearing red bandanas in opposite pockets and seemed to be getting real friendly.
“I like the red ones,” I added. “They’re the most colorful.”
“Fisting,” Eric said.
“Fisting?” I replied.
“The one dude wants the other dude to stick his fist up his ass.”
“Okay; that’s it,” I said, stunned by what I had heard. “I’ve learned enough for tonight. Let’s get out of this place. It’s too creepy for me.”
“I figured you for a plan vanilla sex kind of guy, Jimmy,” Eric said, grinning. “But that’s okay. You’re cute enough. People will love you no matter how plain vanilla you are.”
“Do you want to go somewhere else?” Eric asked once we were outside.
“I don’t know. What else is there?” I replied.
“Well, there’s the triple play down on Pennsylvania Avenue: Phil’s, Purple Passion, and Hidden Treasures, Forbidden Pleasures. But that’s too far to walk on a cold night like this.”
“What about that other place you mentioned?” I asked. “The Café Palermo; you said it was close.”
“Yeah, but we don’t want to go there. One look at you and there’d be a stampede.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, confused.
“Trust me,” he said. “It’s a little too busy now and it’s getting late in any event. We should probably be on our way back to Exiles & Castaways.”
Soon enough we were back at the place. Jeff was standing off to one side, alone and seemingly forlorn.
Good, I said to myself. I don’t know why you were so mean, but I’m happy you’re not having a good time. I didn’t have a great time at Outlaws either. I didn’t like the place at all.
Spotting me, Jeff smiled and quickly made his way to the two of us.
“I thought Eric and you would never get back,” he said. “Did you have a good time?”
“It was, uh, educational I guess,” I replied. “I learned some stuff about hankies. But I can’t say I liked the place very much.’
“That’s the way it is,” Eric interjected. “People either love or hate that kind of place. The same with the bars that cater to drag queens.”
Later, as Bob drove the three of us back toward Capitol Hill, I remember thinking about what I had seen that evening. The hanky code seemed to make sense in some ways, but some of the things they signified were totally unbelievable; disgusting if I was being perfectly honest about it.
I’m not into stuff like that and never will be; I’m glad Jeff isn’t either.
You need to remember that, Jimmy, the inner voice whispered.
Jeff is a pretty nice guy. He’s good looking and he’s trying to keep himself in good shape. He treats you pretty nice because he loves you. That may be hard to understand, but there are worse things in life than being loved by someone. You saw some pretty nasty stuff tonight. Be glad you’re going home with him.
By the time we got home I had forgiven Jeff. True to my word, I tried to make the evening special for him as a way of thanking him for the outfit he had bought for me earlier in the day. I stuck to the things that were tried and true, his favorites.
I think he appreciated it. I know I did because I got off twice that night. By the time I was finished more than an hour later both of us were exhausted and quickly fell asleep.
The rest of the weekend proved boring, but eventually Monday morning arrived. Jeff left for work, but not before sucking me off. By now that had become part of our daily routine, one both of us enjoyed. It wasn’t something we had consciously decided on, at least not the first time.
In those early days after arriving in Washington Jeff insisted I should stay in bed in the morning while he got up and ready for work. And while he was fairly quiet about that, doing his best not to wake me up, I usually ended up in state of semi-consciousness; half awake, half asleep. While I waited for him to leave, I would play with myself in bed.
Discovering me in the act one morning, Jeff had removed my hand and substituted his mouth. Liking it as much as I did, you’d have to be clueless not to understand how it ended.
Once Jeff left for work I usually went back to sleep for a couple of hours, typically waking up sometime between 10:00 and 11:00 o’clock. After showering and getting cleaned up, I would have something light to eat and then nothing more until Jeff got home in the evening.
But knowing I was going to be having lunch with Eric today, I decided not to have anything that morning. I substituted an extra-long shower instead. Not needing to shave, I skipped that occasional routine, tried on the outfit Jeff had bought for me that weekend, and examined myself in the mirror.
It was hard to know for sure, but I thought I looked pretty sharp. I wanted to look sharp for Eric. I had liked him from the moment we met. He seemed kind of like me in some ways, easy-going and fun-loving; and since I was missing Tommy right about now, I was hoping Eric and I would become better friends.
And he was friends with Bobbie after all. By now I was certain I wanted to be friends with Bobbie as well.
I mean, Jeff was a friend, of course, my best friend now, but he was older and I needed someone my age I could confide in; someone who could help me better understand Washington, at least the part of Washington I seemed to have become part of, and show me the best places to have fun.
Like I said, it was almost like I was living in some other world, a world where Jeff and people like him were the majority and I was the one who was different. I was thinking about all of that when the phone rang. It was precisely 11:45 a.m.
“Hi, this is Jimmy,” I said, picking it up.
“Eric here, Jimmy; are we are still on for lunch?”
“Sure,” I replied.
“Good,” he said. “Meet me at the Hawk & Dove in fifteen minutes. You know where that is, don’t you?”
“I do, but . . .”
Before I could get the words out of my mouth, Eric had hung up abruptly. Having forgotten to ask Jeff for some money that morning, I had been planning to invite Eric over to our place so I could make lunch for him. I didn’t have any way of paying for lunch at a restaurant.
There’s nothing you can do about it now, Jimmy. You’ll just have to meet him there and not have anything to eat.
Easy for you to say, I responded, grabbing the winter coat I had brought with me to Washington and heading for the door.
I was hungry.