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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.
“Home,” I sighed, as I slid the key into the lock and opened the door to my townhouse. “Am I ever glad to be home.”
Hearing my voice utter the words, I laughed.
You’re talking to yourself again, Jeff. You’re doing that more these days; and you’re talking heresy too. You wouldn’t have said something like that five years ago.
Five years ago you would have been disappointed the weekend had arrived. You would have spent most of Saturday and Sunday in the office and then celebrated the arrival of Monday by getting into work even earlier than usual.
You’re getting lazy, Jeff!
As I stood there fiddling with the lock, I shook my head.
Who else do I have to talk to?
Besides, five years ago I was young and naive. I didn’t appreciate how important it is to recharge the batteries over the weekend. Now I do.
I’m not going to apologize for that.
It was a Friday evening early in May around 8:30 o’clock. I had taken off a little earlier than usual from work to pick up some things at the grocery store, but now I was home at last and looking forward to a quiet weekend.
Stepping inside, I walked to the kitchen and unburdened myself of the groceries. As soon as I did, the telephone started ringing.
Oh jeez, great; just what I need. Another realtor calling me about selling the house.
I had been thinking about selling my place for a while. It was more space than I needed and I wasn’t even getting the benefit of the basement unit, which I had furnished but never rented; and yet the phone was indifferent to all of that.
It was ringing insistently and I realized I must have forgotten to turn on the answering machine before leaving that morning.
You’ll have to silence it the old fashion way, Jeff; by actually answering the damn thing.
“Hello,” I said, picking up the receiver and turning on the answering machine again.
“Good evening,” the voice on the other end of the line responded. “Am I speaking to Jeff Landry?”
“You are,” I said, unfamiliar with the voice. “Who is this?”
“My name is Ned Hilliard, Mr. Landry, and I work at the Whitman-Walker Clinic. Are you familiar with the Clinic?”
I was familiar with it, at least by name. Operating out of the basement of the Georgetown Lutheran Church with an all-volunteer staff originally, Whitman-Walker had been founded in 1973. Back then it had been known as the Gay Men’s VD Clinic and was part of the Washington Free Clinic.
It had been founded to help cope with the venereal disease epidemic rampant among gay men, but it had later split off and become an independent organization.
Never having been to the place myself, I had no idea why someone from the Clinic was calling or how they had gotten my telephone number.
“Yes,” I replied. “I’m familiar with Whitman-Walker, at least in passing, but I’ve never actually been there. Is this some kind of fund-raising call?”
“No,” the fellow responded. “Donations are always welcome, but I’m not calling to ask for one. The reason I’m calling is I was wondering whether I could come by to see you some time, Mr. Landry. I have something I’d like to discuss with you.“
“I’d be happy to meet wherever you want,” he added. “I could come by your office or home or wherever would be most convenient for you.”
“Uh, well, why do you want to talk to me?” I asked, suspicious. “It’s not like I have a venereal disease or something.”
“Whitman-Walker doesn’t just treat venereal disease anymore, Mr. Landry,” he replied. “We’re a full service health clinic for the gay community these days; and without going into all the details over the phone, I wanted to speak to you because I have a patient here I’m counseling. He’s been living in New York City for a number of years, but recently moved back to the District.”
“Your name was one of those he mentioned when I asked whether he knew anyone in Washington,” Hilliard continued. “I found your name in the telephone directory when I checked. The reason I’m calling is I think it’d be helpful in counseling my patient if we could talk.”
I remember being puzzled at first as I tried to figure out who he could be talking about. If his patient was being counseled at the Whitman-Walker Clinic, he was probably gay. But it had been years since I had been active in the gay scene and my circle of friends in the gay community was fairly small.
Mostly it was confined to other gay staffers I knew on Capitol Hill and some people I worked with at the Metropolitan Youth Clinic, a place the kids it served called My Clinic and one where I volunteered Saturday mornings.
There had been some gay staffers on the Hill I had known in the past who had moved to New York after their bosses had retired or been defeated. But I couldn’t think of anyone in that category who had been a close friend.
“Who’s your patient?” I asked, curious.
“I’d prefer not to answer that,” he replied; “at least not over the telephone. But he speaks highly of you and it might be helpful if we could speak.”
I wasn’t certain what to do. I didn’t know anything about the person I was speaking to; knew even less about the patient he claimed to be counseling. For all I knew the whole thing might be some kind of scam; and yet it didn’t seem like a scam, at least on the face of it. If Hilliard was telling the truth and I could help in some way, it seemed like the right thing to do.
“Uh, well, you’re not telling me very much, Mr. Hilliard,” I said. “Could you at least tell me what you’re treating this patient for?”
“We’re treating him for several things,” he responded, proving evasive again.
“Like what?” I pressed.
“One of the things we’re treating him for is depression,” he replied, “and that’s where I think talking to you could help. I could certainly tell you more if we can get together in person to discuss his case, but I’m reluctant to do so over the telephone. And yet I think the person my patient has described to me might want to help once he had more of the facts.”
“So what do you say, Mr. Landry?” he continued. “As I mentioned, I’m willing to meet anywhere that’s convenient for you. Although it would help if it was someplace we could talk confidentially.”
Curious to know more, I had already decided to meet the fellow by now. The only remaining question was where. Having ruled out the office or my house, the Clinic itself seemed like the most logical choice. If I was wrong and this was indeed some kind of elaborate hoax, it seemed doubtful the fellow would show up at a place like the Clinic.
“How about meeting at your place?” I asked. “That would certainly be convenient for you and I assume we could speak confidentially there.”
“Thank you,” he replied. “The Clinic would be perfect. When would be convenient for you, Mr. Landry? I’m at the Clinic starting at 8:00 a.m. almost every day of the week. I do have meetings with patients throughout the day, of course, but I’m willing to work around your schedule.”
“Maybe we could do it later in the evening some time,” I said. “I have a job that keeps me pretty busy and usually runs late into the evening. But I could probably meet you Monday night around 8:00 p.m. Does that work for you, Mr. Hilliard?”
I had deliberately chosen a day and time I thought would be inconvenient for him as a way of testing just how serious he was.
“That would be fine,” he replied, without hesitation. “I’m penciling it into my schedule as we speak.”
“Uh, well, remind me again where the Clinic is located these days,” I asked, surprised at just how quickly he had agreed. “I know you’ve moved over the years and I’m not really familiar with where you are anymore.”
“We’re on 18th Street in the Adams Morgan district,” he said, mentioning one of Washington’s many neighborhoods. “If you’re driving, I’m afraid you’ll have to park on the street, but the neighborhood itself is safe. You don’t have to worry about that.”
“Okay,” I replied. “I’ll see you next Monday at 8:00 p.m.”
“Thank you very much, Mr. Landry,” he said. “I appreciate your help.”
And with that he promptly hung up the phone.
I remember wondering whether I had done the right thing or whether this would all turn out to be some kind of wild goose chase. After putting away the groceries, I went upstairs, quickly stripped off my clothes, and took a long shower.
As I stood there letting the water soak over me, I remember thinking it had been a stressful week on the Hill. It seemed like every week these days brought some new foreign policy struggle with the Reagan Administration. As a member of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee, Congressman Bresnahan and I were right in the middle of all the battles.
I liked being the staff member the Congressman had assigned to handle his work on the Appropriations Committee when he won that coveted assignment. I liked the fact foreign policy was the thing that interested him most even more
It allowed me to devote the bulk of my time to Foreign Operations, the subcommittee that determined how much money would be available for different overseas programs.
Bresnahan wasn’t the chairman of the subcommittee, of course, at least not yet. But everyone knew the chairman was both irascible and totally ineffective. Because of the congressman’s good relationship with the chairman and the interest we took in its work, other members and staff looked to the two of us to guide the work of the subcommittee.
We were trying to use our leverage with the chairman to reign in Reagan’s policies in a number of areas, including the secret war he and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were waging in Central America through the proxies they were financing; the Nicaraguan contras.
It wasn’t easy. Even though the Democrats controlled the House of Representatives, a lot of the Congressman’s colleagues didn’t want to challenge Reagan.
They knew how popular he was with most Americans; and even when we were successful in challenging the guy, Reagan and his cronies were constantly looking for ways to circumvent the limitations and restrictions we were putting in place.
I can’t say I was having fun exactly, but the job was challenging; exciting even. Better still, the Congressman gave me a lot of leeway to do it the way I wanted. We were on the same wavelength as far as Reagan was concerned. He may have been a nice enough guy with a good sense of humor, but he was completely out of his depth on foreign policy.
More like a bull running wild in a china shop, Jeff; a bull creating tremendous enmity toward the United States throughout Latin America and most of the rest of the world.
That would be a better way to put it, don’t you think?
But now it was Friday evening and the weekend beckoned and I was glad to be home.
For me weekends were a time to recharge the batteries and get myself prepared for the following week and the new round of battles with the Administration it would bring. With our markup of the foreign aid bill rapidly approaching, things would be getting intense pretty rapidly now.
It was important to rest and relax, and to put all the battles from the previous week behind you. That was the only way to avoid burning out and there was no way in hell I was going to let Reagan and his cronies do that to me.
Finishing my shower, I dried myself off and took a look in the full-length mirror.
You’re getting old Jeff, I muttered at the face staring back at me.
I was thirty-two now; someone no longer to be trusted if you believed the old battle anthems from the 1960s I had grown up with. Hitting thirty had been traumatic enough, but now here I was plunging deeper into my thirties. It was hard to believe.
It wasn’t the aging that bothered me so much. Getting older actually had some benefits. I was more confident now; more settled in my career and what I wanted to accomplish professionally. I was paying down the mortgage on the house I had purchased on Capitol Hill and owned a nice car.
And it wasn’t like I looked all that old after all.
I had always been kind of baby-faced growing up and looked younger than my years. At least a lot of people told me that. On those rare occasions when one of my friends managed to drag me off to one of the gay bars on Capitol Hill, guys still seemed to like what they saw.
I drew more than my fair share of stares; and when I told them my age and didn’t lie about it like most guys did, they said I looked younger. Usually they said that just before heading off in search of someone who wasn’t thirty-two.
It wasn’t like I was out of shape either. I worked out most evenings at the Capitol Hill Gymnasium. I watched my diet and tried to get enough sleep. I wasn’t burning the candle at both ends like a lot of the guys I knew.
Or even like I did when I first came to Washington back in the 1970s with Congressman Bresnahan. Back in those days I spent a lot of time partying at the bars on the weekends. But that had been before Jimmy left, of course. I had done it mostly for him.
We were living together back then and he didn’t have a job. And being younger than me, going to the bars was exciting for him. It allowed him to make friends, including some his own age. More to the point, it allowed him to have a social life apart from me; something I thought would be good for him.
But everything had changed after he left.
That was hard, Jeff; admit it.
You were totally devastated when Jimmy left, weren’t you?
It was true.
It had taken months for me to get over the breakup; years, really, if I was being honest about it. Even now there were times when I wondered whether I was over it. I had loved Jimmy so much; and yet I was the reason we had broken up. It was all my fault.
Jimmy was young and rambunctious and probably the raunchiest boy I ever met in my life. He was ready to go at it in bed at the drop of a hat, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Just thinking about it now made me smile. It was one of the things I loved most about him. How much he loved sex.
You liked letting him fuck you, didn’t you, Jeff?
I had to admit I did.
He was good at it too, wasn’t he?
Very good, I replied.
You couldn’t get enough of trying to touch your toes to the ceiling back then, could you, Jeff?
That was also true; all of it was true.
I did love being fucked by Jimmy.
But working full time on Capitol Hill had taken its toll pretty quickly. Congressman Bresnahan worked hard twenty-four hours a day and expected the same from his staff. Truth be told, the man burned through staff a lot faster than most of his colleagues.
Not that people didn’t like him; they did. They just couldn’t keep up with the pace he demanded.
Because being a congressman twenty-four hours a day was his life, he expected it to be your life as well; and the truth is that working for him was just a job for most of his staffers. Unlike him, they had a life after work. They wanted regular hours and to be able to go home to their wives and families at the end of the day.
I was different, of course. I was single; and since the Congressman didn’t know I was gay, only that I enjoyed the Hill as much as he did, he leaned on me for a lot from the very beginning. Admittedly, I had been more than willing to let him do that.
I wanted to be the guy he turned to whenever the shit hit the fan and that’s how it had played out over the years. I was the staffer he could count on, the one who would always be there for him in a crunch. He liked that and I liked being his go-to guy.
But it could be tiring at times, especially when you worked hard five days a week and then headed back to the district for the weekend or some kind of extended recess period.
That was just as much work as the five days you put in every week; more in some ways because you were staying in cheap hotels in small towns all over a district that covered a lot of territory in the western part of Massachusetts.
Listening to all the problems constituents faced in their lives could be depressing; and when you weren’t listening to that you were usually listening to others who liked bitching and moaning about this, that or the other thing.
They all seemed to think you had some kind of magic wand that could make everything better; and a lot of the time what they wanted you to do was either stupid or wrong. But you couldn’t tell them that, of course. You had to suffer fools gladly in politics.
I hadn’t even realized at the time how much of a toll all the work was taking on our relationship. When Jimmy first came to Washington we were having sex every evening; often more than once. He was insatiable and I was the same, at least at first. But then I began begging off as I became more and more tired; first one night a week, then two or three.
I didn’t realize the effect that was having on him until it was too late. Like I said, it was devastating when I came back after that August recess in 1975 and found the note he had scribbled for me.
It had been months before I was able to even go back to the bars; once I did I could never find anyone who attracted me as powerfully as Jimmy or was interested in settling down. Within a year I was no longer going to the bars at all and found myself drifting away from the gay community.
I didn’t want that to happen. I was gay after all so I did my best to keep up with developments in the community through the Blade, the local gay weekly. I had even placed a couple of classifieds in the Blade to see whether that was an effective way to meet people interested in something more than a one night stand.
But the classifieds never worked out. Most of the guys I met through them were married and just looking for something more on the side. It was disillusioning in a lot of ways.
In the end I had just thrown myself into the job even more. It was something I enjoyed; and I had even made some friends through an unofficial organization of gay staffers who worked on the Hill. While it had never entirely erased the inner ache for something more that was there, the job had given purpose and direction to my life.
I liked that. I felt like I was making a difference; that the world was a better place because of the battles and challenges the Congressman and I were taking on.
And yet here you are, Jeff; aging, without a boyfriend, and jerking off alone when you can’t take being celibate anymore.
What kind of life is that? Sleeping alone every night in that king-sized bed you bought and playing with yourself like some fourteen year old boy?
I remember sighing. Finishing the beer I had been nursing since coming back down to the kitchen, I looked up at the clock. It was getting close to 11:00 p.m. and I had accomplished nothing except a little trip down memory lane.
Standing up, I took the empty bottle over to the sink and rinsed it out. It was time for bed. Then the phone rang again, breaking the silence. Conscious of my previous mistake, I let it roll over to the answering machine.
“Come out, come out, wherever you are,” a bitchy voice called out. “Come on, Jeff, pick up the phone, sweetie. You may be old and tired, but even an aging queen like you doesn’t go to bed at this hour. I know you’re there, probably jerking off or drowning your sorrows in booze. Stop trying to pretend you’re out and about actually doing something exciting.”
“Pick up the phone, dear.”
It was Richard, a gay colleague of mine from the Hill. Five days a week the guy was straight as an arrow. No one would ever have guessed he was gay except for a slight swish in the way he walked. But come the weekends he turned into one of the biggest queens in Washington, at least one of the biggest I knew.
Like most queens, he loved tweaking me for refusing to behave like he and his friends loved doing; acting campy, speaking in exaggerated tones, and generally calling attention to themselves and how pretty they were.
“If I’m a queen, what does that make you, Richard?” I asked, answering the phone.
“It makes me your Fairy Princess, Mr. Jeff, at least your Fairy Princess this weekend,” he responded quickly.
“Ronald and I were just sitting here at home trying to decide whether we should do the bars or the baths this evening. I was arguing for the baths, but Ronald was being a bad boy and insisting upon the bars because he wants to show off some new outfit he bought this week.”
“But finally I wore the poor lad down; and then, ever the humanitarian, I mentioned to my beloved how you were probably languishing at home without any plans at all for the weekend.”
“Am I right about that, Mr. Jeff, or am I right?”
Knowing he was right only made me more defensive.
“I have plans,” I replied. “They just don’t include visiting the baths with you and Ronald and that can of Crisco the two of you love worshipping.”
“Jealousy will get you nowhere, Mr. Jeff,” Richard replied, laughing. “Besides, you shouldn’t complain. With that tight little ass of yours, there’ll be more than enough Crisco for the three of us. Think of all those flight attendants in town you’ll be disappointing if you don’t come along.”
“And it’s been ages since you’ve been anywhere, Mr. Jeff. People are beginning to speak of you in the past tense; as if you were dead.”
Well, you know what, Richard; maybe they’re right about that. I may as well be dead for all the loving I’m getting.
But I didn’t say that, of course.
“Look, Richard, I appreciate the offer,” I said, “but unlike you I actually do some work during the week so I’m tired. I’m looking forward to getting some sleep this evening. You know perfectly well I’ve never visited one of those baths you and Ronald love so much.”
“Besides, I have to be up early in the morning. I work the graveyard shift at the Metropolitan Youth Center and need to be there by 6:00 a.m.”
“Must there never be any end to your efforts to save the world, Mr. Jeff?” he replied. “I knew you were a volunteer at My Center, but 6:00 a.m. in the morning? Really? Why do you insist on torturing yourself like that, child? I don’t know anyone who’s awake at 6:00 a.m. except perhaps for some late night revelers just getting home from a night of carousing.”
“You’re right,” I replied. “Hardly anyone shows up at that hour at the Center, but we’re still a twenty-four hour full service operation and one of us needs to be there in the unlikely event someone did.”
“Of course, the last kid I actually helped was just looking for a place to sleep off a hangover. Not exactly saving the world, is it, Richard, but probably at least as productive as spending the night at one of those baths you love.”
“You’re getting to be as cynical as me, Mr. Jeff,” he replied.
“It’s not being cynical,” I said. “It’s just the way things are. Sometimes I wonder why I volunteer at all anymore given how little I’ve accomplished over the years.”
“Oh, well, you wouldn’t be you, Jeff, if you weren’t trying to save the world. Someday, like the rest of us, you’ll wake up and realize the world is beyond redemption. It’s going to hell in a handbasket, at least according to Reagan; and queers like us are the ones leading the charge.”
“In any event, if not the baths, what about the bars then?” Richard asked, determined not to be dissuaded so easily. “Ronald is actually getting to be an old fuddy-duddy like you and doesn’t enjoy visiting the baths anymore so I probably shouldn’t force him to do it.”
“But he still loves to dance and party so we were thinking of taking in Pier Nine this evening. It would do you good to get out of that rut you’re in, sweetie; to live it up and have some fun for a change.”
Tell me something I don’t know, Richard.
He was right. Getting out would probably do me some good; and yet as much as I realized that was the case, I wasn’t interested. I knew how the evening would play out if I allowed Richard to twist my arm into coming along.
We would drink and carouse for a couple of hours. They would eventually entice me out to the dance floor. Then the three of us would head off to still some other bar and do the same thing all over again.
Along the way one or two guys would probably take a long look at me and then wink or blow me a kiss.
And yet by the end of the evening nothing would come of it. As always, I would go home alone and go to bed by myself, which I was already planning to do; the only difference being that I would be more tired than I was at the moment when I woke up in the morning.
The whole thing would amount to a lot of wasted energy and I would regret having let Richard sweet talk me into going out with him and Ronald.
Just thinking about it made me wonder whether the baths made more sense. At least everyone knew why they were there. No one was being coy or pretending to be anything except what they were, horny and looking for a good fuck; or if not a good fuck, at least a long one.
You miss it, Jeff; admit it. You miss Jimmy fucking you for an hour or more; making you beg and then finally cumming in your ass when you pleaded with him to do it.
Yeah, I miss it, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to let four or five guys I don’t know do that to me in one night.
“Thanks but no thanks,” I replied. “I appreciate the offer, Richard. I really do. It’s nice to know there are still one or two people who don’t consider me completely hopeless. But I’m just too tired; thanks again for the offer but I’m going to get to bed early this evening. I need the sleep.”
“Jeff, Jeff, Jeff! What am I going to do with you,” Richard intoned. “You are hopeless; totally hopeless. Celibacy isn’t healthy, my lad. But what can I say? If you insist on being a party pooper, I guess I don’t have much choice except to abandon my little quest to bring some joy to your wretched life. Perhaps tomorrow night then?”
“Sure,” I said, knowing Saturday night would prove no different. “If you even remember this conversation tomorrow, feel free to give me a call. Perhaps I’ll feel differently once I’m rested and refreshed.”
“Knowing you as well as I do, probably not,” Richard replied. “Au revoir, sweetie; you’ll regret your decision in the morning when you wake up in bed alone. But there’s only so much a girl can do and I guess I’ll have to admit defeat for now.”
“Buh bye, sweetie,” he added, before hanging up.
I remember sighing, then rinsing the empty beer bottle out again; only recalling halfway through I had already done that. I thought about opening another, but decided against it. I rarely drank at all these days and a second beer would leave me reeling.
Heading back to the living room, I turned off the lights and checked to make sure I had locked the door. Then, climbing the stairs, I headed to bed.
You’ll feel better in the morning, Jeff. That’s the great thing about sleep. You can forget all your troubles and wake a few hours later rested, refreshed and ready to take on the world again.
And God only knows, with Reagan in the White House, the world could use a defender.