So today, let’s go back to THE BISTI BUSINESS and see what we can discover of interest. We’ve already taken a look at Taos and Farmington and the Navajo Reservation. Rather than a place this time, let’s look at one of the more interesting characters in the book. An eighteen-year-old half-Navajo, half-Anglo kid who also is unabashedly gay and pretty hep.
Jazz Penrod isn’t swishy or obvious about it beyond the fact he’s as beautiful as any woman in town and a tad more graceful than most guys. Men—and women—have been going gaga over him since he hit puberty. Let’s let Melissa, the clerk at The Trail’s End on Main, describe him for us. Our intrepid PI, B. J. Vinson, has tracked the two men he’s searching for to this motel. The “Cruz” mentioned at the beginning of the exchange is a connection from Taos BJ’s trying to run down. The conversation begins on Page 55 of the book:
Melissa frowned. “I don’t know any Cruz. This was a local kid. Jazz Penrod.”
“You know anything about him?”
“I know him,” she said without any inflection in her voice. “Trouble. Has been since he was thirteen.”
“What kind of trouble?”
“Maybe you better go ask somebody else. I don’t like gossiping.”
“Okay, lend me your phone and I’ll call Sergeant Dix Lee at the FPD and have her come ask the questions.”
“All right, Jasper Penrod is a mixed blood kid who’s lived here all his life. Here and on the Big Rez.” She tossed her head in a westerly direction. “He’s about the biggest competition the girls in this town have. He’s as pretty as any of them—heck, prettier—and he likes the same thing they do, except he’s more aggressive about it.”
“You mean dresses up in women’s clothes?”
“Not Jazz. He dresses like a man and acts like a man, but he puts the moves on a man just like a woman. Been more than one guy in trouble for fooling around with Jazz when he was underage.”
“How old is he now?”
“About eighteen. He’s a good kid, really. By that, I mean, he doesn’t get anyone in trouble on purpose. But he wants what he wants, and isn’t shy about it.”
“A kid could get in trouble for that—especially around here, I understand.”
“Yeah, a lot of the fellas don’t like gay people. And Jazz doesn’t make any bones about being that way. But he does it different. Not faggy or flighty or anything like that. And he’s just so…so pretty.”
“A pretty face sometimes causes bad trouble.”
“You’re right about that. But his daddy’s one mean Indian, and he’s got a whole clan to back him up—including Jazz’s brother. Half-brother, I guess. So the word went out, and nobody in his right mind tackles Jazz. His mom’s brother stands up for him, too. He’s white.”
And that is our introduction to Jasper Penrod—any question about why he prefers Jazz?—a lively, curious, and intelligent young man who introduces us to his equally sexy but fiercely heterosexual Navajo half-brother, Henry Secatero. But does BJ make a mistake when he enlists Jazz’s help in locating his client’s missing son? Jazz so enthusiastically throws himself into the role of a junior PI he could be courting danger. And even a street-wise kid may be no match for a brutal murderer.
So does he help or hinder BJ in his quest? You’ll have to read the book to find out…but I will say you might see more of Jazz Penrod in a future novel in the series.
Next week: Maybe some more about THE BISTI BUSINESS, but that depends on how much Stupid I get mixed up in between then and now.
New posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.