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Archive for April, 2009

“I see you are leaving the portrait of the great ass behind,” I remarked to my cousin, admiring a framed black and white photograph still hanging on the exposed brick wall above the fireplace.

I remembered when Stephen first moved into the Perry Street apartment, years before Jose came into the picture, when the piece of art was first unveiled at a housewarming. Stephen purchased what I considered a work of soft pornography from a street vendor on Greenwich Avenue. He insisted that although the muscular, blonde model, sprawled face down on a bed under an open window was nude that the portrait was similar to shots done by Herb Ritz and that there was artistic symbolism captured in the photograph, for a breeze was blowing the curtains and it was daylight outside the window.

“He looks so relaxed—very modern if I do say so myself— so ready to be taken,” Stephen remarked at the party in 1990 when his taste in home décor was unleashed for the first time. Having lived with a butch lesbian on MacDougal Street during his first five years in New York, my cousin was not granted the opportunity to expose his gay decorating skills. Stephen worked as a cashier at a tiny store in Times Square known as the Tie Rack then, and his income and decorating budget was modest. He was forced to settle for the minimalistic approach when designing his new home and the photograph was just $25.

Below the photograph of the blushing buttocks sitting on the fireplace mantle was Stephen’s only knickknack at the time—an unpainted ceramic hand bought for $10 from a craft shop on Sixth Avenue. The pale white hand was reminiscent of Michelango’s fresco of Adam reaching for God.

““It costs too much to ship that photo to Vieques so we’re leaving it for our new tenant,” Stephen explained. Hey, why don’t you take it?” Stephen suggested.

“What happened to the hand?”

“Oh—we couldn’t leave that here. We shipped it.”

“Oh, no thanks,” I said. “I still have that ugly painting of James Taylor that Joan McElroy asked me to keep for her when she moved to Jamaica. They eyes in that painting have followed me for a decade now and I’m tired of looking at it. All I need is for that ass to hover over me as I grow old and never get any.”

“Honey,” Jose said, speaking to Stephen, “Let’s give Charlie the little basket in the bathroom.”

“Ah, yes,” Stephen said as he stood up, still holding his glass of wine. He disappeared into the apartment’s tiny kitchen and adjacent bathroom which I often described as a ‘camper-like’ for one could shit, shower and shave at the same time and fry eggs on the two burner stove in the closet-like kitchen if one had a spatula two feet long. Stephen returned to the empty living room with a small wicker basket overflowing with every form of lubrication known to modern gay man—KY Jelly, warming liquids, condoms in every color except black, and of course, a big bottle of Jack Off Joe, a water-based lubricant that the manufacturer claimed was as “stimulating as a cup of coffee.”

“Now this is art,” I said, accepting the treasure. “What? No dental dams?”

Jose, laughed in his typical Puerto Rican hyena howl and slapped my back hard, as if it were a plump ass.

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Unlike most West Village New Yorkers, Stephen and Jose did not have pets. Perhaps the four floor walk-up was the reason the couple did not adopt a dog and grant it a cosmopolitan name like “Dino” or “Fee Fee”. A glass aquarium in the corner of the half-empty apartment was the only drop of the couple’s previous life on Perry Street that remained. They swam in love and dove through many arguments in the cozy studio for more than a decade. Now the charming studio seemed barren and dry, as did their souls that day I had my last glass of wine inside of 60 Perry Street, Apt. #4. At least as they packed to head off to Vieques, they did not have animals to contend with.

The inter-racial couple decided to informally adopt a squirrel instead of care-free creatures like cats that take care of themselves and need just fresh water, dry food and a clean litter box. They at one time in the mid-nineties had two gold fish, yet despite the ease of keeping underwater pets, their love nest proved to be inhospitable for even infant carp.

“Pebbles and Bam Bam perished after I changed the water in their tank. We had those goldfish for two years and they were getting really big. It was only after I got a new Pur water filter that our beloved pets died. I didn’t know the water had to be room temperature. New York’s water comes from the Catskills, you know. I thought Jose was going to divorce me. We loved those fish like children. We kept the filter on the tank running to ease our pain over the years. The bubbles soothed Jose at night,” Stephen explained while sipping a strong Cape Cod while entertaining a crowd of queens on the roof deck of 60 Perry Street one summer evening. Stephen went on to share the fate of their third pet “Coqui” that was adopted six months after Pebbles and Bam Bam were made sushi.. Coqui was a white aquarium frog that the couple raised from a tadpole, according to the tale:-

“Coqui got out all the time. We thought it was the cutest thing,” Jose explained.

“Oh yes—“ Stephen injected, “He’d hop under the futon and stay until he got thirsty and then, like any alcoholic, came out and practically begged to be put back in his tank. You would have sworn he was heeling. At least we didn’t have to pick up his shit. Anyway, Coqui somehow managed to jump upon the window ledge one morning—as if it were his lily pad—oh, he was so cute—should have seen ‘em sittin’ there in the sun. I don’t know if you ever noticed, but we don’t have screens in our windows here. It was morning and the mosquitoes of night were gone when Coqui suddenly jumped out the window. We watched in horror as he clung to the green leaves of that giant elm that grows from Sara Jessica Parker’s yard. Who knows what ever happened to that frog. Perhaps Sara keeps it in her tub.”

The guests sitting on Stephen and Jose’s roof deck erupted in laughter as Stephen told the story of Coqui. Stephen often cracked jokes about his neighbor, Sara Jessica Parker from Sex and the City. Parker and her husband Matthew Broderick lived directly behind Stephen and Jose on a house that faced Charles Street. At one of Stephen and Jose’s soriree’s, intoxicated partiers were granted a glimpse of the skinny star when she appeared in a well-lit kitchen, wearing simple denim jeans, and sat on a barstool to read what appeared from our perspective to be the ‘New York Times’.

“We’re tossing out the fish tank,” Stephen explained, as I sat there with him and Jose in their old place, reminiscing of the good years that had gone by as dust balls rolled across the hardwood floor like little Coquis. I was still in disbelieve that my only true friends in New York were leaving town.

“You said you may come back to New York in eight months,” I reminded them.

“Fuck this town,” Stephen snipped as Jose quickly jumped from the futon to refill his glass.

“More Charles?” Jose asked.

“Just a drop. Thank you.”

“We’ll come back in eight months, but that’s only to sublet this place again. We’re tired of New York. This town has become a bore to us. Nothing but anorexic bitches running around on cocaine—oh, and of course, their rich boyfriends who work on Wall Street. This is not what I moved here for. I cannot even stand to watch Sex and the City anymore. This town has made every gay man mad—just look at where you just came from, Charles,” Stephen blasted, hinting to me that too perhaps I should make my getaway plan from the city not even fit for pets before I lost what was left of my rational consciousness.

 

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The stairway  of Tom’s brownstone was covered in a moss-like substance. Friction from the well-worn shag carpet made walking up four flights exhausting and the smell of mold reminded me that I hadn’t done laundry in three weeks.

Walls painted in a shade of red enamel, like that of a whore’s lipstick were adorned with exquisite paintings crafted in pastel—remarkable works of the human hand sketched with care and patience. Fine pottery bowls were placed on well-worn wood tables under the paintings of wildflowers on each floor, with no practical purpose, but for aesthetics and to serve as optical illusions.

Stephen led the way to his one bedroom apartment on the top floor—a hike that he and Jose had made thousands of times over the fifteen years while living at 60 Perry Street, yet the constant exercise did little to curb their alcohol induced obesity. Stephen’s calves were like bowling balls and with each step, the carpet beneath his flip-flopped feet sprung back like grass in a pasture that had been treaded upon by herds that return from pasture each evening.

“One more floor, girl,” Stephen remarked encouragingly. My face was covered in beads of perspiration and was as red as the hallway walls. I got a good look at myself in a large mirror with a stone frame which graced the landing on the third floor and with exhaustion, wiped the sweat from over my eyes before the sting of tears made me cry.

“Fred— are you decent?” Stephen asked as we walked inside their apartment. Fred was Jose’s nickname—given to him by Stephen three years into their decade long relationship. Jose looked just like a Spanish version of Fred Flintstone, the cartoon character.

“Charlie!” Jose yelled—“Come here white bread and give me some butter.”

I hugged Jose. He had his familiar scent—a mixture of the perfumes Grey Flannel and Dark Rum.

“My God! What happened? We were sick with worry about you when you were in the hospital. Your cousin prayed for you—every night he was praying over there—sick with worry about you—everyone from Three Springs was calling here trying to find out if you were still alive and what had happened,” Jose explained. He was pointing to a shrine that had been built into the hearth of a marble fireplace years ago, after Jose had officially became Stephen’s lover. The fireplace shrine was the centerpiece of the two-room, exposed brick apartment. The hearth was filled with an ungodly assortment of religious and secular artifacts, including a dusty copy of the Holy Bible, multi-colored glass candles in tube-like glass containers covered with pictures of various saints, Valentines Day cards from year six of their relationship, an authentic set of rosary beads which were Jose’s for he was born Catholic, and of course, a photograph of Stevie Knicks, whom my cousin Stephen worshiped as the Virgin Mary. They prayed to these fixtures not only for me, but for help in winning the lottery, for Jose was Puerto Rican and a gambler by blood.

“It’s nice to see you too, Jose. I cannot believe you guys are leaving New York. You have been in this place forever. Where will I pee on Gay Pride Day without your place in the heart of Greenwich Village? I’ll miss those parties on the roof and throwing water balloons at the drag queens below…”

“You gotta tell me, Charles…What happened to you?”

“I’m mad, Fred…mad as hell…it was all in my imagination…that’s all.”

“Charles, your hands are shaking,” Stephen pointed out.

“Yes—it’s the pills they got me on – Lithium—just look at me—all fucked up like this. Thanks for praying for me.”

 “My hands shake every morning, too,” Stephen explained. “You’ll get over it soon enough. Sorry there is no furniture here to sit on, but we can offer you a cocktail—wine or rum?”

“Just water, thanks.”

“Suit yourself. Why take a pill that destroys the liver when there’s booze, Charles?”

“You’re right. I’ll have some wine, thanks.”

We’ve shipped everything that wasn’t sold on craigslist—and this is all that’s left of 60 Perry Street. Help yourself to the utensils in the kitchen.”

‘Do you still have that fancy garlic press from the James Beard Foundation?”

 

“No dear— that was shipped to Vieques, although I doubt they have garlic on that little island…”

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Tom was watching Wolf Blitzer on CNN when I knocked on his bedroom door. The television was so loud that it rattled the door to the room. Rather than pound loudly in an attempt to outdo Blizter’s reporting, I waited for a commercial break, then, using the free knuckles of my left hand, tapped on the door using the ‘shave and a haircut, two bits’ rhythm before a commercial for an ear and nose hair removal device known as the micro-trimmer came on.

“It’s open,” Tom replied.

“One martini, extremely dry, coming up.”

“How thoughtful. So—I’ll see you again on Tuesday at six?”

“Yes.”

“Would you do me one small favor before leaving?’

“Certainly.”

“I dropped a bottle of pills under my bed—would you mind handing them to me?”

“No problem.”

I scanned the floor at my feet and noticed just a wad of used facial tissue. I dropped to my knees and looked under the bed, but it was dark. I then swiped my hand through a pile of dust, hitting the bottle further under Tom’s bed.

“Holy Jesus,” I cried.

“What happened?” Tom asked, pushing the incline button on his Craftmatic adjustable bed. I quickly pulled my head from under the bed and discovered that Tom was glaring down at me with his martini in one hand and the remote control to his bed in the other.

“I just knocked the bottle further under the bed. Do me a favor and don’t adjust the bed until I come back up.”

“I’m sorry to be of such inconvenience. I’m such a feeble old man. Damn it. Just leave it under there. They’ll find it when I’m dead or I’ll have Richie look for it tomorrow.”

“There it is. Got it. There you are,” I said, carefully dusting the bottle before placing it in Tom’s wrinkled hands.

“Oh shit. That’s not the bottle I was looking for anyway. I need my Ambien. Oh Dear—silly me- there it is,” Tom said, pointing to a second prescription container sitting on his cherry wood nightstand next to an antique lamp with a pink shade that was just as dusty as the floor under the bed.

“May I have one of these?” I asked jokingly, although secretly wishing that Tom would not object to my request.

“And what do you plan to do with that. What type of deformity do you have? Are you a cripple down there? What about your lover? Do you want one for him?”

“No—I plan to take one. Trust me, he don’t need it. I’d like to see what all the hype is about.”

“Oh—you’re a bad one,” Tom said. “I’ll tell you what—I have a fresh bottle in the magic drawer—wait—you don’t know about the magic drawer do you? How could you? You might as well be made aware of where it is. See that desk over there near the window? Yes, that one. Open the small drawer on the top right. There you are—now open it—the bottle is in there with a few others. Take one. I won’t miss it. I have a good doctor anyway. Is there still cash left in there?”

“Yes, a ton of it,” I said, pushing aside a stack of twenties and fifties.

“I thought for sure Richie would have emptied it by now.”

“I’d like just one of these Tom.”

“Suit yourself. At least you know where they are now. I’ll see you Tuesday, dear.”

“Thanks, Tom. Goodnight.”

Stephen was waiting outside the bedroom—“Oh, I see you’ve been shown the magic drawer.”

“What have you gotten me into Stephen?”

“Tom’s a sweetheart. You’ll soon see why I call him my adoptive, gay grandfather. Tom takes good care of his employees—you’ll see. Hey, why not come upstairs for a glass of wine before heading back to Brooklyn. Jose would love to see you.”

“Alright—but just one glass—to wash this down. I have to get back to Brooklyn. Bradley must wonder where I’ve been.”

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“I think Tom likes you,” Stephen insisted as he mixed Tom’s nightly martini, made with Alexi Vodka.

“The last time I drank Alexi vodka I made a promise to the Lord that if he got me through that most horrific state, I would become as John the Baptist and never drink again.”

“Tom always buys Alexi vodka and has just one martini made from it each night. Maybe that’s why his mind is so sharp and why, at eighty, he has a body of a fifty year-old. If only Jose and I would have just one cocktail a night. We’ve been drinking heavily lately. I’m having those pains in my back again— I just hope it’s not liver-related. Anyway—when we get out of New York, Jose and I plan to cut back on our drinking considerably. I’m going to miss my boxes of wine though—you know that in Vieques such modern conveniences have yet to catch on, although I’m sure there will be no shortage of inexpensive rum there.”

After pouring Tom’s martini from a silver, bullet-shaped cocktail shaker into a frosted, crystal glass from Tom’s walk-in freezer, Stephen licked his fingers as if it were a sin to waste even a drop of the cheap vodka.

“Here—why don’t you walk this downstairs to Tom? He’ll like that,” Stephen insisted.

“Who is this?” I asked, pointing to a statue sitting in the alcove between the dining room and living room.

“That was Tom’s father. The one from whom all Tom’s financial blessings flow. Tom talks to it sometimes. You should hear him—you’d swear he was still a child.”

“Looks like Alexander Hamilton.”

“Come look at this painting,” Stephen said as we entered the living room and made our way across a well-worn, but obviously rather expensive oriental rug. Two camelback sofas were positioned face-to-face directly in front of the fireplace hearth, as if staged for political arguments following lavish dinners. The sofa legs and frame were of carved mahogany or perhaps redwood. Curtains of red velvet were secured open, threaded through giant rings of brass that graced the green walls of Tom’s living room. The windows were at least nine feet in length for I felt that if I were naked walking around in there, I could stand in the window and appear as a mere piss ant to anyone looking in from the tree lined streets below.

Stephen pointed to a painting of a fisherman above the mantle. I glanced up, being careful to spill any of the martini that had been filled to the rim.

“Tom may one day freak out and decide to sell this panting—if Paul Levine, his broker continues to be so stingy with Tom’s stock market investments, that is. Tom said the cost of insuring it is a rip- off, considering he does not have a lover to gaze at it with. It’s worth a half-million or more. I don’t even know who the artist is. Tom insisted that Jose and I take it upstairs to our place and keep it, because we are under the same roof and insurance would cover it. I absolutely refused to take the painting to our place, insisting that my chain smoking would ruin it. There is an entire insurance file in the file cabinets in his office with documentation relating to the authenticity of his various precious works of art. There now, you better go downstairs now before Tom’s martini gets warm. Just take it to him on his bed, but knock on his bedroom door first—he may be watching “The Bigger the Better” again.”

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“Did you make out checks for yourselves?” Tom asked as he settled onto his chair in front of the computer, noticing a pile of invoices with checks neatly clipped to each one. He gasped like a child glancing at a quarterly tax payment to the I.R.S. which was due.

Stephen handed Tom the checkbook which included two additional $75 checks awaiting his endorsement. The checks had been properly dated and the amounts covering three hours of secretarial service for both of us had been written in impeccable cursive penmanship by Stephen while Tom rested in seclusion on his bed near a fireplace at the front of the house.

The old actor looked nothing like I had remembered from the movie Arthur. In real life, Tom was more like the character he played in the Cher film Suspect. A frazzled Tom Barbour appeared in the very opening scene of Suspect. He played the part of the judge who committed suicide by shooting a gun into his mouth. I was not in the least bit star struck by the actor Tom, for I had worked for other celebrities with far more theatric prestige and besides, in Suspect, Tom didn’t have a speaking role, just a silent suicidal act.

Tom signed our checks with dramatic flair. He moved his pen like a skilled physician working a scalpel through gangrene flesh. The Harvard thespian handed us our checks as a waiter may hand a patron at a fancy restaurant a spare cloth napkin.

“Wow, look at that– seventy-five dollars! It’s better than a poke in the eye with a dirty stick! When will I see you again?”

“We’ll be back Tuesday evening and I’ll show Charles the tax drawer and where you keep all your receipts,” Stephen replied and went on to mumble, “I need to ask you for loan, Tom…”

Tom, pretending not to hear logged onto America Online.

YOU GOT MAIL!

“I need eight thousand. I’ll make monthly payments of $50. Jose and I have to get a car when we get to Puerto Rico.”

“Money is just pouring out of me,” Tom shouted. “Well. I don’t know if I have it. Jesus– Richie was just here yesterday needing a new furnace for the house that I bought for him. I must be running low on cash. I must! I don’t know, oh dear. When will you need it? Aren’t you leaving next Saturday?”

“Your balance at Chase is $33,000 Tom. Your quarterly check from the Bank of New York should arrive next week.”

“Oh– I see. Well. What can I say? Write yourself a check,” Tom insisted and then suddenly broke into a loud weeping whine. A gush of tears flowed down his powder white cheeks in a somewhat staged fashion.

“I hope you don’t need a loan too,” Tom mumbled to me while blowing his nose. “I’m sorry you have to witness me like this. You see, Stephen has been my personal secretary for fifteen years now. He’s like a son. I don’t want him to leave me.” Tom stared at me without blinking while saying those words. His blue eyes glowed like antifreeze under thick, white caterpillar shaped eyebrows that were cocked in a slant. His hands trembled when Stephen handed him a third check to be signed.

“Jose and I may return to New York, Tom. This is not the end. It’s just a change of scene for a while– a little break from the rat race. Remember, we’re subletting the apartment for eight months. I found a tenant interested in my place. He’s a dentist, Tom, and besides, he’s gay and I know how you feel about who lives above you. He’s very attractive. I’d like for you to meet him before I sign a lease.”

“This is true,” Tom explained to me as his tears dried and his sinister side returned. “I never let a female live under the roof of 60 Perry. I’m superstitious I guess. They are like black cats. You should meet my sister Alison Fox. No thank you! I shouldn’t say that. I let the mail lady in every day. How callus of me to say such a thing. Oh, I forgot about Floyd. He’s not gay. Can’t you tell? This is Greenwhich Village and this is my house and I prefer the company of gay men– that’s the way the Village once was, you know– gay men under every roof. Not so much like that now, but it is here.”

“Thank you so much. We’ll see you Tuesday at six,” Stephen said, grabbing his second check.

“Would you please do me a small favor before you go? Would you mind fixing my nightly martini? I’m a little too tired to head up those stairs to fix it myself. I never trust Floyd with anything I put in my mouth.”

“I heard that,” Floyd shouted from his room. “He won’t let me do anything for him– afraid I may have to bill him for another hour…”

“Who pulled your chain?” Tom asked. “I should have never hired you when you were eighteen! You’re already my slave for the rest of your life. I stopped keeping track of the time you owe me in labor.”

“Tom has one martini a night,” Stephen explained to me. “Sure Tom– Dry as usual?”

“Yes, thank you, dear. Oh no, what will I do with Stephen gone?”

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Polaris North

Tom’s kitten Whiskey moved from the perch so often used by felines when they pass time in their master’s homes– computers. Cats are naturally drawn to computers. They sit seemingly in a trance created by the jungle of the modern communications era. The furry stalkers are bound to the scar of neutering and seem to find solace in Intel. They walk across keyboards with a sense of entitlement– sucking up an energy that secretly seeps from the fingertips of masters who waste so much time in chat rooms or on social networking sites– unaware of the evil that is out there on the world wide web. Cats have always been guardians of the underworld, and like spiders, they are deadly stalkers. Whisky, a strong stray brought into the house by Tom’s lover Richie appeared to have traits of bobcat in him, for at the tips of his ears were antenna-like hairs. Whiskey reminded me of my own tabby Link as he made his way down the oak desk and past Stephen’s fat hairy legs sticking out of pleated J. Crew shorts. Whiskey walked in a circle next to Floyd and arched his back before settling into a ball on the dusty hardwood floor.

“Hi Whiskey,” Floyd said, revealing a gum line without teeth or dentures. He smiled and bent over to pet the creature while placing a black shopping bag next to the large cassette operated answering machine which obviously was not functioning for the electrical cord had been wrapped around the shoe-box sized contraption. “Whiskey follows me everywhere. He was sleeping with me until Tom moved his litter box into his bedroom so that he can lock him in there. Poor cat. You got to be careful in this house with Whiskey around. He’ll sneak out on ya. I was out on the back porch smokin’ and he ran between my legs. Wouldn’t come back in either. Didn’t tell Tom about it. Figured he’d come in on his own. Tom was there on his computers sending pictures back and forth with his friends and Whiskey came crashin’ into the window next to Tom’s computer. Scratchin’ at a bug he was chasin’. Well, it’s nice to meet you, Charles. I gotta get back to work. I work for Tom too, ya know. Tom wants the Polaris North newsletter to get out today.”

“Polaris North is a newsletter that Tom edits,” Stephen explained. “Tom may ask for your assistance in managing the database– that is if you want to work more hours and drain the cash cow. He uses the same program that he uses with his stocks. There are probably several hundred subscribers. Returned copies of the Polaris North newsletter come back in the mail and you’ll have to go into the database and make corrections to mailing addresses. Often, the post office will place forwarding information on returns– indicating where a party has moved. Simply go in and make the change of address. If there is no forwarding address, just remove the address from the file, not the name. It’s a membership organization. Actors pay $25 a year in membership dues and Tom likes to keep a running list of everyone who has ever been a member of Polaris North.”

“How much is Tom payin’ him an hour?” Floyd asked Stephen.

“You know the going rate, Floyd.”

“I tell ya. We should get raises. How long you worked for him Stephen?”

“Fourteen years for God’s sake. I can’t wait to get out of this nut house. It’s none of your damned business Floyd.”

Whiskey suddenly darted into Floyd’s bedroom as the door to Tom’s room creaked open–

“Who’s there? Who is it?” Tom shouted as if someone had broken in and wanted to rape him. The long white strands of hair atop his mostly bald, freckled head were no longer slicked to the back, but had been ruffled from a pillow and fell in one giant knot over his forehead in Eienstein fashion. His eyes, though pastel-blue like a morning sky in Spring obviously had lost their glow for seeing clearly for so many years.

“Floyd is that you?” Tom shouted.

“”Your eyes are gettin’ worse Tom. You need to get them checked out…”

“I know! I know! Shut the fuck up, will ya? Christ. Do you gotta talk so God damned loud all the time?”

“Tom! Tom! Just listen and stop fighting with me, will ya? God damn it! What did I ever do that was so bad to you? I picked up everything on the list that you typed out for me this morning, but before you go and get pissed off at me again, I should tell ya that the price of eggs went up again, but I have the receipt to prove it. Your change is on the answering machine next to everything. I got the soap too…”

“Did they have the blue Irish Spring soap…?”

“Yes Tom. Now I’m going back to work. I gotta get the newsletters out today…remember?”

“What? Oh! Yes. Polaris North. Alright…I gotta get up…Who is that? Stephen is that you?”

“Yes. Remember. I’m here training Charles– my replacement.”

“Oh, yes, Charles…. Charles Taylor…. Now that’s English name. We Barbour’s are from England too. Stephen tells me you’re gay too. Does that mean you are a real gay man or are you gay in the sense that Floyd was once gay?” He asked.

“Oh, I’m gay. I have a lover,” I said, wanting to establish boundaries with my new employer, needing to let him know that even if he did want my now fat, aging body, it would be impossible for me to get it up for him anyway.

“A lover? Who? You must tell me all about him one day. I have had so many. Don’t we all?”

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