Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cry Justice for Peter

I was rummaging around in a box of old things the other day and found two sheets of paper stuck between the pages one of my college yearbooks. I do not remember the name of the author of the words typed on the paper—I had several gay friends back in those days. Nor do I know if the events described were factual or apocryphal. But the essay so dramatically contrasts the general attitudes of the fifties about gays with the prevailing attitudes of today that I decided to publish them as my post this week. Not only does the piece highlight a remarkable change in attitude toward gays, it also serves as a warning that in some places what is described could still occur. So please read the following with that in mind.


By Anonymous
“Wicked!” sneer the narrow-minded Righteous.

“Queers!” hiss the smug, thin-lipped Virtuous.

“Nay!” my heart cries.  “Tis love as deep and abiding, as sweet and strong as any that enrich your lives.”

Pitying their ignorance, I draw close my friend and lover and move to pass them by.  But it is not to be.

On this day, Noble Society and Bigoted Religion extract a toll for flaunting their archaic injunctions.  And just as with women stepping beyond accepted boundaries, and Black slaves chafing against heavy chains, and First Nations fighting stubbornly for their ancestral homelands, we learn the cost is exorbitant.

Cretins tear away my beloved.  Two odiferous toughs pin my arms.  A florid man of dark, heavy jowls pummels bloody my lover.

Oh, how proud I am as Peter shakes them off and stands tall and manly to face his tormentors.  A foolish mistake, of course, but one born of intrepid pride.  Four barbarians beat him unmercifully until the growing unease of passive onlookers give them pause.

Smaller, weaker, and frankly not so valorous, I cannot fight my way free of those who hold me helpless.  Denied the consideration of even one disdainful blow, I am shoved atop my fallen hero as they depart, laughing crudely at the life-lesson taught the fags.

Sobbing myself into paralysis, I watch helplessly as a precious, sensitive life ebbs away on the hot, mean sidewalks of that accursed city.

And who will give me justice for the horror of this cruel bereavement?  Not the black-uniformed storm trooper who laughs there is one less sissy to plague the world; not the dog-collared clergy of the stately cathedral towering mutely above us across the street; and certainly not a shocked and aroused citizenry wrathfully demanding equity.

For the first time, I truly understand that dreadful credo of the old West:  “The only good Indian is a dead Indian!”  An epithet applicable to those without a roseate hue—such as me and my love.

But beware!  I am yet here, energized by my rage and emboldened by my crushing loss, I live to plot retribution on the hide-bound, sanctimonious fools who dare impose their morality--even to the destruction of one superior to them all in every way that counts.  And do not look down long, blue noses and proclaim “Love it or leave it” to me.  For I am legion in your midst, claiming equal ownership of this, my fatherland.

Yes, I am here to stay.  And in my own time, in my own way, I will raise my voice and Cry Justice for Peter!


Perhaps the time has come for that voice and that cry. For the life of me, I cannot see how the value of a human being can be discounted simply because he or she is “different.”

This past Tuesday, a protestant church in Rio Rancho, New Mexico informed the scout troop they had been sponsoring it was no longer welcome because the Boy Scouts of America now accepts gays in its membership. How ironic that this action drives home the two points I want to make with this post. The action of these good Christians was sufficiently odious to be aired on prime-time news, reflecting the change in attitude of the general public. Yet their bigotry was pointed enough to give warning danger still lurks for gays.

Are we not all God's children?

Next week: Perhaps the Shadow knows, but if he does, he hasn’t told me.

New posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Best Laid Schemes o’ Mice an’ Men….

I had dinner with Dale and Carol the other day, treasured friends who were incredibly supportive after my wife’s death. Both are educated and erudite retired professionals, and I wish I had a quarter of Carol’s energy and joie de vivre. Dale’s sedentary…like me.

During after-dinner talk, Dale related something that happened to him during his college career at a large mid-western University. I’d like to share it with you…through Dale.


As an assistant professor assigned to teach biology, I was asked to conduct a field trip to a large county-owned pasture to identify and classify plant life for class members. When I protested that my degree was in physical biology with absolutely no botany background, the principal professor, who was also a personal friend, agreed to give me a crash course.

The two of us walked the pre-selected location on two different occasions while the professor identified various plants by name, genera, and species. I committed each to memory right down to stem types, leaf shape…the works. I visited the site a few times again to reinforce my memory.

When the day of the field trip arrived, I was pretty confident I could pull this off. So we loaded aboard the bus and headed out. The attitude of the class members was what you’d expect: Relief at getting out of a classroom into the open air; more freedom, less restraint; time to learn something new for some and an opportunity to goof off for others. All in all, a festive air.

When we aarived at the location, I about had heart failure. A big county mower had just finished cutting the entire field. We waded out into the heady aroma of a freshly scythed meadow with me putting the best face on the situation I could, which wasn’t too hot. The areas where I’d memorized this plant or that were nothing but stubble. Crowns and leaves and stems were chewed beyond recognition…my recognition, at least.

Students brought me sprigs and twigs, wanting to know what they were, and, of course, I hadn’t a clue. They all just looked like weeds. As I fumbled my way through what was becoming an agonizing trip, one of the students uttered the very last words I wanted to hear at that moment.

“Oh, look. There’s a field across the street that hasn’t been mowed!”

Dale recalls the students were all good sports about the whole thing. But then that’s the spin he would put on it…he’s a very nice guy.

Next week: It will once again be an eleventh-hour decision.

 New posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Haboobs and Virga Bombs

I’m just a southern Oklahoma country boy, but I thought I got some sophisticatin’ when I went all the way to Texas for some higher book learnin’. Jaunts in the army to Germany  and France and Holland and Belgium and Switzerland and Austria and Italy oughta have added a layer or two, as well. My wife and I went to Spain and Mexico, too, but we were so set in our ways by then, an uptick in sophism might not have taken.

I know, I know. The title indicates I'm going to write about  a couple of exotic weather events out here in the hinterlands of New Mexico. (That's the sophisticated part.) I am, but first let me set up the situation. My wife, bless her, succumbed to pneumonia and renal failure a little over four years ago. After that, I moved to a one bedroom apartment in the Northeast Heights of Albuquerque. I like my little apartment. Nothing fancy, but it has the necessary accoutrements. Haven’t had any problems here except my freezer died. That’s important because I don’t cook, so I lived out of it. The appliance  was entitled to a dignified end, I suppose. It was eighteen years old, which in freezer-years made it older than I am.

While Betty was in the hospital, our Montgomery Ward clothes dryer conked out. I looked up the papers to see if there was a warranty (Betty saved everything). I learned we’d purchased it in 1974, but if there was any warranty left, good luck with that because the company is long gone. But I figured we’d gotten our money out of it and replaced it with a brand new shiny one that’s already making strange noises after only four years. Then last month, its companion, a 1974 Montgomery Ward washer gave up the ghost while it was full of bedding. Wringing out sheets by hand is fun. I might take it up as an avocation. Anyone care to join me? We can make up a circle.

Pardon me. I seem to have gotten off the track somewhat. Anyway, the one thing I really like about the apartment is I can open the patio door in the front and the window in the bedroom, so a breeze whips through making the use of my refrigerated air thingamajig unnecessary. (Last year, the only time I used it was when I was dog sitting and had to leave the pup in a closed up apartment). As a matter of fact, I regularly boast to friends, companions, and occasionally strangers about not having to run up my electric bill with “air conditioning.” (And this is New Mexico, remember.)

Don’t get impatient, we’re getting there. In fact, we have arrived. In the past few days, two phenomena with exotic-sounding names have appeared on the weather scene in Albuquerque. And when these things arrived, it made me question the sanity of anyone who denies Mankind (oops, Humankind) is affecting the weather. (Note: The correction is important, because women might as well share the blame, too.)

Last week, a Haboob blew through the area. Sounds both exotic and scary, right? What is it? A dust storm…but an Arabic dust storm. Dare I infer anything from that? I’m not a conspiracy theorist…but just saying.

Then Monday night, we experienced a Virga Bomb. Took out my telephone service, my internet, and my cable, but left my lights on. Have you tried existing without any one of those things lately? How about two? But all three? I was reduced to reading!

Now everyone in the southwest has seen virga…many times. It’s simply precipitation that never reaches the ground. Dry rain, if you will. And windstorms (which here are the same as dust storms to my mind) are common. I’ve been through some hairy windstorms, ones that blew down branches and even trees, shattered the back window of my car, were so bad I had to stop driving and wait them out while suffocating in the front seat of my auto.

Not sure why that last dust storm was given that exotic name, but I sure as hell know why they termed Monday night’s virga as a bomb. The winds were hurricane force…at least they seemed that way to me.

Now, why did I choose to write about Haboobs and Virga Bombs for this week's post? To show what weird creatures we humans are. I recently gave a set of bookends carved from a beautiful Mexican stone to a friend. I gave them away because I wasn’t using them. Well, not as bookends, at any rate. But one served as a doorstop for my bedroom. When the Haboob blew through, filling my already dusty place with more grit, the bedroom door slammed shut with an explosive bang. I propped it open with one foot while casting around for something to prevent it from blowing shut again.

I told you my wife died, but I didn’t tell you I had her cremated. Her ashes sit on my bedroom chest of drawers in a dark gray, gold-trimmed urn. That’s the first thing my eye fell on, so I grabbed it and used it as a doorstop, muttering an apology as I did so. I spent the rest of the evening feeling guilty. I somehow got the idea Betty was glaring down on me in disapproval. She was a natural redhead, so that should give you some idea of the severity of her glare. In fact, when I laid a hand on the urn (a nightly ritual) and said goodnight before turning in, it seemed hot to my touch. Probably my imagination.

Well, when the virga storm hit, the winds it brought made the Haboob look puny. The sprinklers outside my door were on when it struck, and the gusts blew water halfway down the hall of my apartment. In all my time in the southwest, I’ve never experienced anything like it.

Guess what? Bang. The door again. With a sigh, I once more asked Betty for help . As I put the urn on the floor yet another time, I recalled a comment she’d once made when we had a mild dust-up. “Sometimes I think I’m nothing but a doorstop to you.”

But I don't think she meant it literally.


Next week: Wait and see!

New posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Guest Post. Thanks Guy for Getting Me Off the Hook

Another Albuquerque author and I started discussing blogs at a meeting of SouthWest Writers last Saturday and ended up deciding to do guest posts. He offered to do mine this week provided I’d do one for him at some time in the future. How could I refuse a deal like that?
Mark Wildyr writes both contemporary and historical gay erotic fiction. What follows is the opening to one of his published short stories entitled “Killer.” It appeared in the STARbooks Press anthology, SAINTS AND SINNERS sometime back. Enjoy. (Don’t tell Mark, but I have no idea what I’ll write for his blog at

By Mark Wildyr
The killer looked down at the boy at his feet and fought a rising irritation. How come the kid still looked so good? Death hadn’t done a damned thing diminish the little queer’s looks. Wasn’t right. When you’re dead, you oughta look the part.

The boy hadn’t sensed danger until it was too late. A nano-second later, the bullet splintered his sternum and punctured his heart. The man gave a disgusted sigh and stowed the small handgun in his waistband. Then he calmly walked down the dark alley and vanished into the night.


Albuquerque Police Department Detective Calvin Grajek muttered a curse as the telephone interrupted a set of curls. Early morning calls at home were never good, and this one was no exception. Body. Alley. Yeah, he’d go straight there. He hung up and headed for the shower.

Cal knew from the address what he’d find. The site was on the fringe of a Rabbit Run around East Central Avenue, once historic Route 66. If his hunch was right there had now been five gay murders over the past two years, and since his old partner was prematurely retired by a heart attack, Cal was the detective in charge. Together, they’d gotten nowhere. On his own, he hadn’t achieved much more than to gain some introspection into the city’s deviant culture. Until this started, Cal figured a queer was a queer was a queer. Now he understood the gay underground was at least as complex as mainstream society. Come to think of it, it wasn’t so underground anymore.

Cal parked his unmarked Ford four door behind a black-and-white at what was known by locals as Indian Alley. For a couple of miles, the broad, mostly paved alleyway half a block south of East Central paralleled the thoroughfare through a commercial neighborhood of 1930’s-style one-story shop buildings. A few had been restored; most simply struggled against decay. A well-traveled route used by the homeless, drunks, Native Americans, and a host of others avoiding curious eyes, the alley was an unlikely place for murder, although it had seen more than its share of mayhem over the years. Most of the area’s habitués would deny seeing anything. It truth, they probably hadn’t, either from alcoholic haze or a lifetime of keeping their eyes glued to the ground.

Several people were already on hand, including Cal’s new partner, Brin Haskell. Who the hell named a kid Brin? The guy’s personnel file showed it was short for Brindle, but that begged the question. Who’d name a kid Brindle? This was the twenty-eight-year-old’s virgin assignment as a detective, and Cal suspected the guy’s drive was fueled as much by the fact that he was the nephew of a deputy chief as by natural enthusiasm.

The new detective stepped away from the small group of uniforms to greet him. Crap, the guy didn’t look much older than most of the victims. Hispanic with a gringo name. Tall, athletic, good-looking, recently divorced. Cal wondered if Brin’s obvious dislike of gays was cultural or a defensive measure, although there was nothing soft about the guy.

Brin shook his head. “Another one.”

“You can tell by just looking?”

“A kid. Teens. One to the heart like the others. And yeah, I can tell. If I get the willies, it’s one of them.”

“I like that,” Cal said dryly. “The scientific approach.”

Brin flushed. “Give you ten-to-one odds.”

“No thanks. Given the location, you’re probably right.”

As they reached the body, Cal studied the blond youngster sprawled on his back, face pallid in death, his grotesque Kiss T-shirt made even more so by a glob of crusted blood. There was already a distasteful odor. The sound of nearby traffic signaled that life went on. While uniforms put up the crime scene tape to keep the curious at bay, the detectives slapped on latex gloves and made a quick examination of the corpse before the crime scene boys arrived and chased them off.

Cal read from the ID in the kid’s wallet. “Kevin Kenally, Sixteen years old. What a waste.”

“Been a waste for a couple of years already,” Brin muttered.

Cal rounded on him. “What’s with you, Haskell? He’s like any other kid. What’s he done to earn your scorn? Maybe you oughta go work another case.”

“Look, I don’t like queers, okay? But that doesn’t mean I’m not a good detective. Doesn’t mean I won’t do my job.”

Cal brought his voiced under control. “You’re right. And you might as well get started. There’s gay bookstore with a private teenage hangout called Brothers and Sisters next door just a couple of blocks down the street. Go see if you can learn anything useful.” Cal removed a snapshot of the kid standing with an older youth from the victim’s billfold. “Maybe Kenally was there last night. See if you can find out who he left with. Use this snapshot until I can get a better picture. And see if you can find out who the other guy in the photo is.”
Does he have your attention? Mark tells me he's going to post the entire story on his blog just as soon as he figures out how to do it. He's about as good with the computer as I am.
Next week: Once again, I won’t know until the last minute!

New posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.


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