Thursday, September 23, 2021

Statue of Limitations (Part One of Two Parts)

dontravis.com blog post #516

Image courtesy of Dreamsline.com




Hope you liked “Jean or Gene,” but I don’t know. Didn’t get many comments. Lots of hits, but not many comments. Last time I checked the traffic report, readers from Indonesia outnumbered all others. UAS readers were third down the list.’’

 At any rate, here’s the next selection. Hope you enjoy it.

 **** 

                                 STATUE OF LIMITATIONS

No, it’s not a typo. I’m a sculptor, not a lawyer. It is statue of limitations. What do I mean? We’ll come to that, but first a little background. To my mind, I’m a fair, decent human being who does his best to get along with the world. Of course, I might be somewhat prejudiced, all things being equal.

At any rate, all I’ve ever wanted to be was a sculptor. When I was a kid, the family went on a vacation to Italy. I can remember to this day standing slack-jawed in front of Michelangelo’s statue of David in Florence. I’d been entering puberty, so naturally, I was titillated by the casual presentation of the male penis and attendant equipment. But I got over that quickly and took in the marvelous detail of the sculpture. The muscles, the veins, the… everything. Right on the spot I decided I wanted to find and model my own David. And to do that, I would need to work hard. And the first hard work I had to do was disabuse my father of the fantasy that I’d follow in his footsteps and become a medical doctor.

“Martin,” he would say, “you’ll make a fine doctor someday.”

“But, dad—”

“No buts, son. It’s in your blood. I know it is.”

We had that exchange at least monthly.

I brought home several souvenirs from that trip to Italy, but the only one that counted was a twelve-inch reproduction of that statue. It went on the corner of the desk in my room and stayed there through countless snickers of friends and acquaintances and a few blushes from the fairer sex who happened to venture into my bedroom. As soon as we got back home to Albuquerque, I went to the hobby shop and spent some of my savings on a tub of modeling clay, after which, I spent many a late hour trying to reproduce that striking image. My first effort almost discouraged me and drove me back into my father’s professional arms. But I kept at it night after night, year after year until by my senior year in high school, I could make a decent statue.

I have to pause at this juncture to admit to another effect David had on me. I’d run my hands over every inch of the Michaelangelo replica about a million times, trying to get the feel of how that master sculptor did this or handled that. And I always got a squirrely feeling when I fingered the genitalia. At times, it seemed to me that I caressed it. Occasionally, I’d go to bed in a semi-excited state and the real David—at least the one represented by the statue in Florence—visited me in my dreams. He let me run my hands over him the way I did the replica, but it quickly became a different sort of exploration. Vaguely aware that wasn’t exactly “normal,” I acquired a statuette of Venus, but it wasn’t the same. I got nothing out of that one, and she visited my dreams not once… not even to chase David.

Well, with my growing awareness of life, that told me something. It told me why I’d rather spend time with my buddies—all guys, of course—than with girls, long after those same guys had abandoned me for female company. Except for one guy. Randy. I came to understand in our last year of high school that he’d prefer to study David than Venus. We even experimented in my room a couple of times, and while it was pleasant—even exciting—Randy was not my David.

My father acquiesced to my wishes and paid for a fine arts degree at UNM. All during my four years at the university, I searched for my David, but only found wannabees. I did models of some hunky guys, even took liberties with them occasionally. Pleasant, but not earthshaking. By the time I graduated, I almost despaired of ever finding my ideal, but perhaps when I went out on my own, I’d move in different circles, and who knows?

After graduation, I located a commodious three-car garage on the grounds of an estate not far from my family’s ranch style house. The big, swinging doors were perfect for moving big blocks of stone in and the finished product out. I struck a deal, rented the place as my studio, and started to work.

Two more years passed without a resolution of my ambition. I got good at my craft and produced lots of pieces, including some statues of handsome young men, a couple of them nudes. I was proud of every piece I produced, but felt my resolve to find “the one” fading.

And then—serendipitously—he arrived on my doorstep… or garagestep, to be more accurate.

****

Will wonders never cease? Martin’s own David. Or is it? Stay tuned.

 Tell me what you think.

 Stay safe and stay strong.

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 https://www.dropbox.com/s/ambxgy7e5ndmimk/CutiePieMurders%5BThe%5D.zip?dl=0

 My personal links:

 Email: don.travis@aol.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

Twitter: @dontravis3

 

See you next Thursday.

 Don

 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.


Thursday, September 16, 2021

Jean or Gene (Part Two of Two Parts)

 dontravis.com blog post #515

Image Courtesy of Clipart Library

 


Well, how’d you like the first part of the story. Seems like Jean or Gene got himself out of one fix just to get into another. And this guy is standing between him and the door, unimpeded by a pair of pants around his ankles. Let’s see what happens next.

 

****

JEAN OR GENE

 

Matt laid a hand on each shoulder. “Well, Jean. I’m a little more worldly. I got no trouble paying if you do right by me.”

Then for the second time, Jean was taken by surprise. As Matt pulled her in for a kiss, his hand went south of the border. She felt his whole body stiffen before he leaned back and held her at arm’s length. To her surprise, he burst out laughing.

“I think I just discovered the basis of Will’s discombobulation. Did he find out before or after?”

A smile played on Gene’s lips. “After,” he answered in his own voice.

“And he was all bent out of shape when he found out a fella gave him such a good job. Well, me, now. I don’t give a damn. I’m looking for relief, and I don’t care how. Hell, you do good, and I might even cover Will’s unpaid bill.”

Matt lifted Gene in his arms and carried him to the bed.

****

Gene sat in the hotel lobby eyeing the traffic as it went by. He was looking for a different kettle of fish today. About half the time, he wanted someone who wasn’t normally available to him, and that’s when his Jean persona came in handy. Sometimes, like yesterday, things didn’t work out exactly as planned, but usually he managed to get straight guys without them being any wiser. And sometimes—like with Matt—it didn’t matter if he was caught out.

But today, he wanted them to see what they were getting. It shrank the available pool, but when he caught an acceptable fish, it was all out there on the table. And today, he wanted any taker to know exactly what he was getting. That’s why he wore his tightest chinos. Well, tight across the hips, anyway. The basket caught its share of trade, but it was really his hair that got their attention. Raven, curly locks worn full and down on the neck. That way it worked for Jean as well as for him. He knew the rest of the package was pleasing, as well. Many a man had waxed poetic over his olive skin, sloe eyes, and glossy hair. Especially the hair.

His breath caught in his throat as Will Parson strolled through the lobby. Gene could tell from the way his eyes swept the room that the young man was on the hunt. They swept over him and moved on. Gene breathed easier. He didn’t think anyone would recognize him from yesterday, but you never knew. As the cowboy moved on, Gene caught a couple of eyes, and one hesitated before moving on. One met his gaze boldly, and he thought he’d hooked one, for sure. But the hunky guy’s wife marched up at that moment, planted a kiss on his cheek, and let the prospective minnow away. Too bad. He wouldn’t have been a bad catch. Not in Will Parson’s league, but okay.

That thought surprised him. Gene had liked what he’d seen of the cowboy—and that had been plenty—but wasn’t aware he doted on the man. About that time, someone appeared in his periphery. He turned to look and had to control himself to keep from showing surprise. It was yesterday’s cowboy.

Will frowned and took a step closer, still staring intently. Gene met his gaze but remained immobile, unreadable—he hoped.

The cowboy moved to his side. “Don’t I know you?”

Gene made his voice as deep as possible. “I don’t know. Do you?”

Will’s eyes widened. “It’s you, isn’t it.”

With a smile, Gene became animated. “How’d you know?”

“The hair. It’s the same… well, almost.”

“How’s the hand?”

Will touched the narrow bandage circling his left hand. “Sore’n a tenderfoot’s butt after his first bronc ride.” He hesitated. “You know, I been thinking. Maybe I was wrong.”

Gene stood. The cowboy was taller than he was without heels. “No hard feelings.”

Will blushed slightly. “Hard maybe, but not that way.”

“What’er you saying, cowboy?”

“Maybe we oughta try it again. You know, on level ground.”

“How do I know you’re not just trying to get me alone and give me some payback.”

A smile lit Will’s eyes. “Oh, I’m gonna give you some payback, all right. But I don’t think you’ll object.”

Gene arched a brow. “What different today from yesterday?”

“You sandbagged me yesterday.”

“Would you have gone with me if I hadn’t?”

“Nope,” Will said. “But maybe I owe you for opening my eyes.”

“Let’s get this straight. You want me to go with you to your room.”

“Yep.”

“For sex.”

“Can’t think of nothing else we’d do.”

“Knowing what you know now.”

Will’s smile was easy… and fetching. “Eyes wide open. No hanky-panky—” He snorted. “—at least of that kind. Any wrestling we’re gonna do is in that bed. You game?”

“Cowboy,” Gene said, “I’m gonna take a chance. If you mean what you say, I’m gonna turn you every way but loose, and you’re going to love every minute of it.”

“Promises.”

Gene stepped toward the elevators, his movements decidedly masculine and… provocative.

****

Will wonders never cease? Did Gene turn Will? Unlikely, he just opened the cowboy’s eyes that there’s more than one way to have fun. More likely, Will keeps on chasing skirts, but occasionally—maybe just once in a while—he try the other side of the street again. Gene? He’ll keep on exploiting Jean so long as it continues to work. The ethics of it? I’ll leave that up to you.

Tell me what you think.

Stay safe and stay strong.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ambxgy7e5ndmimk/CutiePieMurders%5BThe%5D.zip?dl=0

My personal links:

Email: don.travis@aol.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

Twitter: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.

 

Don

New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Jean or Gene (Part One of Two Parts)

 dontravis.com blog post #514

 Image Courtesy of Clipart Library


Goodly number of hits on “The Old Man Across the Street,” but not many comments. Ah well, you read the story, hope you enjoyed it.

 

Today, we’ll try another short story, a little different in nature. Let me know how you like this one.

 

****

JEAN OR GENE

 

Jean sashayed across the hotel lobby on the way to the powder room, confident she’d caught a number of eyes. There was a sales convention of some sort going on, so a lot of those eyes would be out of towners. Ideal for what she had in mind. Once finished in the private stall, she stood before the vanity mirrors and checked her makeup. Perfect. Her hairdo? Good. She knew a lot of men preferred blondes, but she liked her natural color. Raven’s wing black. Picked up highlights better than any peroxide job she’d ever seen.

As she left the powder room, she caught the eye of one man who’d been at the reception desk when she passed earlier. Confident he’d waited for her return, she altered her steps and took a seat in one of the overstuffed chairs in the corner of the big room. He took his time about it, but he found ways to draw nearer and nearer. Big hat, boots. Cowboy type. What kind of convention was it, anyway? No matter. She liked cowboys. The ones she’d known had had a wild, abandoned way about them. Although courteous to a fault, they took what they wanted, and they wanted what she had to give.

Eventually, Romeo was close enough to bashfully ask if he could join her. She watched him as he took the adjoining chair. Young. Good-looking. Insecurity partially hidden by bravado. Slim-hipped, full basket. Great. This one would take some maneuvering, but she thought he was landable.

“Buy you a drink, Miss?” he asked in a pleasant baritone. “Funny, seems like I oughta be asking that in a bar.”

“And I imagine that’s where you usually use that line,” she purred.

He blushed. “Yeah, I guess. Anyway, I’d be pleased to do it.”

“Thanks, but I’m not in the mood right now. I’d rather sit and hear a little bit about you.”

He was pleased to accommodate. Will Parson from Bolton, Oklahoma. Twenty-three. Feed salesman in his daddy’s store. A Fort-F150 man. Single, but looking hard. And lonely.

When he ran down, she smiled at him. “When you’re finished with the convention for the day, maybe I’ll let you buy me that drink.”

“Shoot, ma’am, I am finished for the day. Let’s go to that bar across the way.”

Jean arched a brow at him. “Is a drink really what you want?”

His brown eyes twitched a bit, but he held her gaze. “No, ma’am. Not really.”

“You have a room here?”

He was on his feet in a second. “You bet. And no roommate to get in the way.” He frowned. “Uh, how… well, how much?”

She stood and noticed she was as tall as he was, at least in heels. “Do you really want to talk about money?”

‘Uh, no ma’am, but I don’t wanna get in over my head.”

She turned and walked toward the elevators. “That won’t be a problem.”

Will tried to be suave about it, but he was more like an eager kid. She laughed on the inside. Hadn’t been long since she was as skittish as he was.

He reached for her the moment the door to his room closed behind him. She turned so that all he managed to fondle was her butt. Apparently, he decided that was okay because he pulled her to him. His hands felt good against her buttocks. This guy was ready to go. She sort of dog-walked until they were at the end of the bed, and then, still pressed against him, she tackled the buttons on his shirt. They gave way, one by one. She pulled it off his shoulders and rubbed her hand across his torso.

“Nice,” she said in a throaty voice.

“Thank you, ma’am. Now—”

As he reached for her blouse, she pushed him over on the bed. He landed flat of his back. Before he said anything, she had his belt loose and his zipper down. He lay there and let her pull is trousers down around his ankles. He was still mute when she went down on him, but before it was over, he was groaning and moaning. He came with a whoopie!

She stood and smiled down at him. “Was it as good as you thought?”

He sat up on the end of the bed. “Sooper-dooper. Best blow job I’ve ever had.”

She arched an eyebrow. “And you’ve had lots of them?”

He grinned. “My share.”

Before she knew what he was about, Will reached for her groin. His hands closed over her, and his eyes went wide. “What’s that? Hell, you ain’t a woman. You’re a guy!”

Gene spoke in his own voice. “What does it matter if it was so good.”

Will’s eyes went mean. “What does it matter? What does it matter! I’ll tell you what matters. I ain’t no queer. And you pulled one over on me. I oughta bust you up. Hell, I will. I’m gonna punch your lights out.”

Will rose, but apparently forgot his pants were down around his ankles. He tripped as he reached out. Gene backed away and pulled a long hat pin from his hair, lashing out with it.

“Ow!” Will cried, trying to regain his balance and nurse a stabbed hand. Gene took advantage of the other man’s situation and quickly evacuated the room, rushing down the hall to the elevator bank before Will came after him.

He turned the corner and almost collided with another guy who was working the lock to a room.

“Whoa,” the man said. “What’s the hurry.”

Jean adjusted her voice. “Trying to get away from a big ape of a cowboy.”

The man laughed. “Well, just scoot on into my room, and you can wait him out.”

She smiled at the man. “Thank you kind, sir.”

“My name’s Matt. What’s yours?”

“Jean.”

“Well, Miss Jean, was that cowboy attending the convention?”

“I gather so.”

“And what was the basis of your disagreement?” Matt met her eyes squarely. “Money?”

“You might say that. He got the service but objected afterward.”

“And what was this bozo’s name?”

“Will something-or-the-other.”

His eyebrows went up. “Will Parson from Oklahoma?”

She nodded.

“Hell, seemed like a decent guy to me.”

“Me too… until….”

He laid a hand on each shoulder. “Well, Jean. I’m a little more worldly. I got no trouble paying if you do right by me.”

Then for the second time, Jean was taken by surprise. As Matt pulled her in for a kiss, his hand went south of the border. She felt his whole body stiffen before he leaned back and held her at arm’s length.

Uh-oh.

****

Have you ever been in a bar—or anywhere for that matter—and seen an attractive woman and felt something wasn’t quite right? I have. Many years ago, a friend and I were having drinks in a bar and got into an argument over whether the blonde sitting at the bar talking to another woman was, in fact, a real woman or a man in drag. He thought she was a guy; I had no reason to think so. The face and figure were right, so what if the voice was a contralto. My friend, being the bold, aggressive type, approached the blonde and asked her point blank if she was a man or a woman. I’ll never forget her response. “Honey, it’ll cost you a hundred bucks to get a definitive answer to that question.”

 My companion returned to our booth a frustrated man. A hundred bucks was out of his league.

 As to our story, Jean—or Gene—seems to have himself a problem for the second time in one night. And this time, the cowboy isn’t hindered by his pants around his knees. How will this turn out? Check in next Thursday to learn the answer.

Tell me what you think.

Stay safe and stay strong.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ambxgy7e5ndmimk/CutiePieMurders%5BThe%5D.zip?dl=0

My personal links:

Email: don.travis@aol.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

Twitter: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.

 

Don

 

New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

The Old Man Across the Street (Part 2 of 2 Parts)

 dontravis.com blog post #513

 Photo Courtesy of Depositphotos


Amazing how lonely one can be in the midst of friends and neighbors. All it takes is the removal of a precious one. Let’s see what happens next. You will recall that Joey has just left for his first nine weeks of army boot camp.

 

****

THE OLD MAN ACROSS THE STREET

I tried in vain to tamp down my rising excitement. Joey was coming home on a week’s leave after finishing his first nine-week boot camp. Calm down, Warren. He’ll have so many friends to see, there’ll be no time for the old man across the street. Louise probably wouldn’t even get enough of his attention. Nonetheless, my heart started pounding the moment I spotted the taxi pull up in front of the Armitage home. I literally had to sit down to keep from rushing across the street and intruding on Joey’s reunion with his mother. I rose from my chair half a dozen times only to force myself to go get a drink of water or grab a handful of peanuts… anything to keep from walking out the door and crossing the street. Would he come see me before he started circulating among his friends? Probably not. The attraction of youth to youth was stronger than the draw of youth to age. And I suddenly felt every one of my sixty-three years. From my viewpoint, that wasn’t old. But to eighteen-year-old eyes, that likely seemed ancient.

I was rereading the two letters he’d sent me from boot camp when a rap on the door startled me. My heart raced, my hands lost control of the handwritten pages, dumping them on my desk. My knees almost refused to hold my weight as I got up.

Joey Armitage stood on my front doorstep, resplendent in slick sleeve khakis, the crossed rifles of the infantry glistening on his collar. The boy had become the man.

When I opened the screen, he brushed aside my handshake and enfolded me in a bear hug. “Mr. O,” he whispered in my ear. “Damn, it’s good to see you. I’ve missed you.”

“And I, you, my boy,” I squeezed past my voice box. I held him at arm’s length, noting that he was taller than I was. When did that happen? “Let me look at you.” I took in his full, smiling lips, his brilliant green eyes, and close-cropped brown hair and almost lost my voice again. “Well,” I managed to say, “they haven’t done any obvious damage to you.”

He laughed aloud. “Naw, it’s all on the inside. Actually, it wasn’t so bad.”

“Come in,” I said, backing away.

He headed straight for the den at the back of the house and declined something to drink as he sank into the usual chair he claimed when he was here. I immediately peppered him with questions about his experiences.

Joey lolled back in the chair, arms relaxed on the padded rests, legs splayed the way he’d sat in that chair a thousand times. He answered my questions easily, volunteering details and poking fun at his own reaction to things. It dawned on me that he was comfortable here. Totally at ease. Pride almost swamped me.

At length, there began to be lapses in the conversation, and panic almost overwhelmed me. Now he’d say he needed to go look up this friend or that one, and he’d be gone.

He fixed me with a green-eyed stare. Here it came.

“Mr. O… Warren.” That was the first time he’d ever called me by my Christian name. “I… I really meant it when I said I missed you.”

I started to speak, but kept my tongue still.

“Lots more than I thought.” He laughed. “Lot’s more’n a couple of letters worth.”

“I’m surprised you found the time to write two.”

“In my head, I wrote lots more than that.” A small silence built; one I was afraid to break. “I didn’t realize how important you were to me until… well, until you weren’t there. You know that I understand, don’t you?”

“Understand what?”

He didn’t answer directly. He studied his shiny, brown army boots. “I saw it on your face sometimes.”

I sat frozen.

He glanced up and met my eyes. “Sometimes I thought you’d talk about it, but you never did. Your secret, I mean.”

My stomach fell away. “Secret?”

He nodded. “Yeah. I met a guy before I graduated. At the park where some buds and I were playing ball. I went to the head, and he followed me inside. Made it obvious what he wanted. When I started to leave, he told me he knew who I was. Then he shook my world.”

With rising dread, I asked, “In what way?”

“He… he said he knew I was seeing you. Claimed he used to get with you, and that he could do it better for me that that old man across the street.”

My head went swimmy. I heard his voice as if from a well, remote, echoing. “J-Joey—”

He reached out and touched my arm. “I called him a dirty word and stormed out of there. Wasn’t much use on first base after that, and everybody wondered why.”

“What did you tell them?” My voice sounded weary to me.

“That some creep had tried to pick me up in the head. The whole team went looking for the guy then, but he’d already split.”

“You never saw him again?”

“Once.”

“Did… did—”

“Go ahead, ask me.”

“Did you get with him?”

Joey shook his head. “Nope. But you know what I told him. I said if I was gonna get with anyone, I’d get with Mr. O.”

My breath caught in my throat.

“And,” he went on. “That’s what I want to do now.”

“Wha—”

He stood. Every inch the dominant male. “Right now.”

“Joey, you don’t have to—”

“Warren, I don’t have to do anything. But I’m my own man, and I can do what I want. Call it paying my debts, call it getting my rocks off. Call it anything you want, but it’s what I’m gonna do right now unless you tell me that disgusts you.”

“Joey, nothing you could ever do or say will disgust me. You’re too precious to me for that.”

“Now you know how I feel.”

With that, he slid from the chair and knelt before me. He looked askance before burying his head in my lap. I gasped at his touch, the enthusiasm of his embrace, the heat of his lips on my fly.

After a moment, he lifted his head and smiled. “Can we go to the bedroom?”

Incapable of speech, I nodded. He rose and pulled me from my chair. I followed him mutely. He hesitated only a moment before sitting on the side of the bed to unlace his boots, and then he performed a self-conscious but magic striptease. Each bit of flesh he revealed was familiar, yet different. The shoulders were broader, the chest deeper, the hips trimmer. And his manhood, which I’d seen in his younger years when he’d change to use my backyard pool, was totally different. A surprise. Here too, he exceeded my expectations. Once he stood naked, he reached for the buttons on my shirt.

“No, I can’t let you see me. My body’s… well, old. It’ll disgust you.”

“You’ll never be old to me. You’ll never disgust me.”

So I permitted him his way, and soon my sagging body was revealed to his fresh, young eyes. He put me on my back and hovered over me.

“Warren,” he murmured, “this is for everything you’ve done for me. For everything you mean to me.” And then he lowered his head. I gasped aloud at his moist touch. A feeling as I’ve never experienced swept over me. Unexpected joy. Undeserved delight. Surprise. Shock. Whatever it was, it brought tears to my eyes as I watched that handsome head move over me. I didn’t need to ask if he’d done this before. He hadn’t. He was inexperienced. Nonetheless, he was the best I’d ever had. I put a fist to my mouth to muffle my sobs as tears flooded my eyes while his act selfless generosity touched me right down where I lived.

 

****

Who would have thought it? Warren Ohlson certainly didn’t, but he’ll be forever grateful for Joey’s generosity. It’s truly something to carry with him into advancing old age. Something no one can ever take from him. I don’t know about you, but I’m proud of Joey for his selfless giving.

 Tell me what you think.

 Stay safe and stay strong.

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 https://www.dropbox.com/s/ambxgy7e5ndmimk/CutiePieMurders%5BThe%5D.zip?dl=0

 My personal links:

 Email: don.travis@aol.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.

 

Don

 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

The Old Man Across the Street (Part 1 of 2 Parts)

 dontravis.com blog post #512

Photo Courtesy of Depositphotos.com 


Thanks to Don Morgan for his guest post last week. We had plenty of hits, but few comments.

 This week, I’d like to do a short story I’ve written in two parts. Here we go with Part 1:

 ****

THE OLD MAN ACROSS THE STREET

I’d been in my middle forties when Joseph Nelson Armitage was born. Middle forties—the best time of my life. A successful architect, closet gay, good looking, and full of life. The years before that had been spent struggling to find my place, but by the time my forties arrived… so had I. Success, money, and an endless stable of young hunks eager for what I could teach them. I just didn’t always teach them what they thought I would.

Joseph—who immediately became Joey to everyone who knew him—was the first-born son of the stuffed shirt who lived across the street. Louise, Joey’s mom, was class and charm and sincerity all wrapped up in a single blanket, but dad Dorian always seemed to be stepping off on his right foot when everyone else was on his left. He could be charming, but only when he made the effort. Even so, he was a good provider and decent father, even though he treated Louise as an afterthought.

Let’s be clear. I’m not a pederast, but Joey caught my eye early on. I remember him as a wholesome youngster, eager and curious and forthright in his approach to life. He always seemed more handsome and energetic than his playmates. I often cogitated on what he would look like as he developed. And as each stage of his life arrived, he matched or exceeded my expectations.

When he was ten, he came across the street to ask if he could take care of my lawn. As I was often in their home at parties or for dinner, he was comfortable approaching me. But had I been a total stranger, he likely would have been just as open about his intent. Of course, after checking with Louise, I accepted his offer. And something a bit deeper than just being neighbors was born.

This got a nudge when Dorian walked out on his family one day. Louise was heartbroken and clearly taken by surprise. Joey was crushed. Outraged at the sudden abandonment, I stepped into the breech and provided support. Dorian had simply vanished, along with the family’s savings and investments. The first thing I did was hire a private investigator, who promptly uncovered a liaison with a much younger woman that had been going on for a year or more. The investigator uncovered the fact that Dorian had quit his job as a supermarket manager, accepted a similar position in Idaho, and moved on with his doxy. Unwilling to leave it at that, I hired an attorney for Louise who was successful in prying alimony and child support out of the bastard. Louise also recovered a healthy portion of their family savings and investment portfolio.

I remember fondly the day she came across the street, Joey trailing along behind her, to clasp me about the shoulders and kiss my cheek. “Warren Ohlson, I don’t know what Joey and I would have done if you hadn’t been there for us. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”

Joey awkwardly put one arm around his mother’s waist and the other around mine. “Me too, Mr. O.”

Satisfied that she and Joey would be all right, at least financially, I ceased to butt into their affairs and tended to my own.

****

By now, I was into my mid-fifties, which were quite different from the gay forties. I continued to prosper, but the stream of young men had turned into a trickle, and then finally merely the occasional.

That was when I realized Joey had made this transition easier for me. Not sexually, of course, but his need for a male figure in his life, and his obvious liking—nay, I daresay fondness for me—brought a different type of relief. He wanted to learn chess, so I taught him. One of his friends liked to play bridge, so I imparted what I knew of that card game. I taught him to throw a ball, bowl, play tennis, all the things a father should teach his child. But more’s the pity, he was not my son.

I consoled him after he got into his first fist fight and gave him some boxing pointers. His mother embarrassed him by trying to have the “sex talk,” and he came across the street to get some things clearer in his mind. Joey was developing beautifully in mind, body, and spirit, and the attention he demanded of me in pursuit of his emergence had ceased to be a blessing and was now taking a toll…because Joey was not my child. It would have been easier if he had been because nature imbues the male with a natural abhorrence for lusting after his own progeny. I had no such protection. I often literally ached when the boy went home in the evening.

They say that time can be a healer. It can also be an unmitigated bastard. The older Joey got, the slower I became. During his junior year in high school, my partners and I sold our firm to a larger architectural business, and I opted to retire. At sixty-two years of age, I was financially secure and could do almost anything I wanted. Even move to Florida or Hawaii or wherever else the snowbirds retired to. But it was a lost cause. I’d sit on my front porch shuffling through leaflets extolling the virtues of this place or that and look up to see Joey tossing burners with a school friend, and my heart would fill up my chest. Soon, old man. Soon he’d graduate and go away to school, and then you can sell everything and flee to some retirement home to while away your remaining years. I sighed, realizing he would have to walk away from me. I could never do that to him, even though he had other interests now. His friends, and his girlfriends, and his sports, and his approaching manhood demanded more time now, leaving less for “Mr. O.”

****

Joey’s eighteenth birthday and graduation from high school came almost on the same day, so naturally, he had a party. I considered gifting him with a new car, but he was perfectly happy with the Camero he’d bought with money from his landscaping jobs. I realized that every time he got in that car, he experienced the thrill of having achieved a major acquisition he’d paid for on his own. So instead, I gave him a holiday trip to Jamaica for him and his mother. As I drove home from taking them to the airport, it hit me that the day I’d been dreading was upon me. The beginning of the end. Joey would be back in a week, but soon thereafter, he’d be leaving for college. I’d no longer be able to sit on my porch and vicariously participate in his life by watching his comings and goings. I had never felt so empty in my entire life.

****

Joey surprised us all. Instead of enrolling in college, he joined the army. “Let them pay for my education,” he declared when both Louise and I braced him on his decision. Hard to argue with, but we tried anyway. His mother went emotional; I turned practical.

“Son,” I declared, hoping I sounded wise to those young ears. “If you get your education before enrolling in the military, you’ll likely end up in Officer’s Candidate School. And if that’s not what you want, you’ll end up as a clerk. Back when I was in the army, clerks ran the military. I know. I was one of them.”

But he spurned my advice. “I don’t want to be a clerk. I want to be in the line. Face the enemy. Defend my country.”

“Joey, without clerks, there wouldn’t be an organized force facing the enemy. And if that’s what you want, become an officer. Be in charge of those men.”

He shrugged. “Maybe in time I’ll earn my way there.”

And with that statement, that tall, handsome youth showed me who he really was, the man he would become.

And then everything happened overnight. It didn’t, of course, but that’s the way it seemed. He enlisted without his mother or me with him, but I drove all of us to the enlistment office on the day he reported for duty. Louise cried on my shoulder as the bus drove away with all the new enlistees, and I leaked a few tears into her hair. It almost seemed surreal as I—or more like it, my body double—drove us home. I was glad when Louise stumbled across the street to cry on her own. The empty shell that was me needed some alone time too.

****

Do you remember how it feels to see something that’s so precious to you slip away, to have to let go and allow someone you treasure make his or her way through life… without you? Then I guess you understand Mr. O’s emotional state.

 Tell me what you think.

 Stay safe and stay strong.

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 https://www.dropbox.com/s/ambxgy7e5ndmimk/CutiePieMurders%5BThe%5D.zip?dl=0

 My personal links:

 Email: don.travis@aol.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.

 

Don

 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

More of Donald T. Morgan’s MIASMA (A Guest Post)

 dontravis.com blog post #511


 Good hits on “Blank Slate,” but few comments. Sorry if I didn’t stimulate your imaginations as much as I thought I would. Ah well, on to another week.

 And this week, in response to some requests, I’m giving Donald T. Morgan’s upcoming novel Miasma another airing.  You can look up the two earlier guest posts to bring yourself up to date, but essentially, here’s were we are. Miasma Elderberry is a ten-year-old Colored girl in Horseshoe Bend, Oklahoma who loves to sing. To relieve anxiety on her way from Colored Town to downtown, she sings gospels, attracting the attention of Horace Parsley, a White retired jeweler who lives on a house on the hill. He calls her over and tells her how much he appreciates her singing, giving her a green canvas satchel to carry the heavy Wards catalogue she has, and in honor of her recent birthday, a pin has has fashioned in the form of two musical notes, one gold; the other silver, each with a row of diamond chips and small emeralds. He claims every girl should have something with her birthstone one it. She demurs, but he insists. Conflicted, she goes on home. This chapter picks up when her mother, Willa, comes home from her work as a domestic. The Tizzie mentioned later is Miasma lifelong best friend.

 ****

Miasma

By Donald T. Morgan

Chapter 3

 Mama had a fit. “Yawl look me in the eye and tell me you didn’t steal this here pin!” Her mother hadn’t paid any attention to the book bag.

“Honest, he just give it to me. Said he appreciated my singing. Told me to sing every time I wore it.”

Willa Elderberry’s eyes narrowed. “He take you in his house?”

“No, ma’am. I stood at the fence line while he went and got them.”

“Them?”

“You know, the pin and the book bag.”

“Y’all ain’t lying to me, is you, Miasma Elderberry?”

“No ma’am, I don’t lie.” Her voice took on an edge. “And I don’t steal, neither.” Her mother’s face flushed, making Miasma figure she’d been too sassy.

“Well, we gonna see about that.” Willa snatched the jewelry from Miasma’s hand and started out the door.

“Mama, don’t. Please don’t.”

“Come on. I wanna see what your Mista Ace has to say about this.”

Her mother clutched her hand all the way up the hill, dragging Miasma along. They halted alongside the house while Willa scanned the fence. “He don’t have no back gate?”

Miasma shook her head. “No, ma’am. We ought not bother—”

“Don’t y’all say bother to me. I gonna talk to the man and see what he’s up to. Now you hush up.” Willa marched through the front gate with Miasma in tow and stalked around to the rear of the house.

“What if he ain’t home?” Miasma said, a hopeful note in her voice.

“Then we’ll just come back.”

But Mr. Ace answered Willa’s sharp rap on the screen door, looking a bit startled at finding an angry Black woman in his face.

“Well, hello, Miasma. This must be—”

“Her mother,” Willa finished his sentence for him and thrust the pin in his face. “Take this back and don’t go givin’ her nothing else.”

Mr. Ace waved her hand away. “Why? It’s a reward to the child for the pleasure of hearing her sing as she passes my house.”

“That’s something she does natural. She don’t need no reward.”

“Come now, Mrs. Elderberry—”

“Willa,” her mother said.

“Willa. Everyone I know earns a reward for something she does well. Some people earn a living using such talents. I won’t accept the brooch, Willa. You can leave it on the porch or give it to the next person you see on the street, but if you do, I’ll be disappointed… and so will the child. The gift carries no obligation, just my gratitude. You have a very talented young lady there.”

Her mother’s voice lost its hardness. “Y’all don’t need nobody to clean your place, does you? I do a right good job at it.”

“I’m afraid not. Bertha Mills comes in on Mondays, and that’s all the help I need. Do you know Mrs. Mills?”

“Sure do. A right nice lady. She comes to my church.”

“She’s been taking care of me for over a year, and I couldn’t possibly drop her without cause.” He cleared his throat. “Mrs. Elderberry… Willa. You have a very special daughter there. She has a fine voice, but she needs training.”

“She gets training. Down at the church. She sings in the choir ever Sunday.”

“And I’m sure she learns a lot. But she deserves more.”

“Can’t afford no more.”

“Then you shouldn’t object to a few gifts occasionally. Perhaps they’ll help.”

Willa said nothing for a long while. She seemed to be scanning the man, looking for something, perhaps. Finally she nodded. “All right, but don’t y’all never try nothing with my little girl.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it. And thank you?”

Her mother’s eyes opened in surprise. “For what?”

“For letting me know Miasma has a mother who cares for her. And next time, you don’t need to come to the back door. Not at my house.”

Willa didn’t seem to know what to say, so Mr. Ace bade them goodbye and closed the door.

Her mother was silent until they were walking back down the hill. “I’ll swear girl, you’re twice-blessed. Ain’t many men—‘specially White men—just give you something.” She fell silent for a few steps. “Anybody else live in that house?”

“Never see nobody but Mista Ace. And sometimes a young fellow. I think he comes to play the piano. I seen him go in the house once, and then the most beautiful music came out of there. Not like at the church, but rolling music.”

Willa’s face puckered. “Rollin’ music?”

“You know, notes like water flowing down a stream. Really pretty. Wish I could sing like that.”

“Well, all right,” Mama said as they entered the house. “Y’all can keep the doodad. But I’m going to wear it tonight when I go back to help out with Miz Willis’s party.”

A jolt ran through Miasma. Jealousy? Resentment? She swallowed it—whatever it was—and nodded. “All right, Mama. But… but i-it’smine, you know.” Something clawed at her stomach as she said the words. They sounded selfish.

“I know, child. But you wear my earbobs sometimes. So y’all can let me wear your stick pin.”

Miasma’s throat dried up at the reproof. And that’s what it was, even if Mama’d made it sound nice.

****

After her mother left to help out with Miz Wallis’s party, Miasma turned off all the lights but one so the electric bill wouldn’t be so high. She glanced at her daddy’s picture on the table beside her before settling down with the Geographic. This issue had a map of Japan and the Pacific Ocean, reminding her of the war. Tizzie’s daddy was fighting in it, but he was over on the other side of the world. He’d been in the invasion of Sicily last year. That was a place near Italy; the National Geographic had told her that.

Miasma worried about Tizzie’s daddy sometimes… and Tizzie did all the time. But worrying didn’t bring him back. She toted up all the men from Colored Town who’d gone off to war. Would they be the same when they came back? Everbody left behind had done their part for the war too. Before school let out last month, all the kids and teachers walked for miles collecting scrap metal for the war effort.

An article on Anatolia caught Miasma’s eye, and she discovered it was over in Turkey. Were their men fighting over there too? Anyway, she could tell Miz Loring she’d learned something.

But no matter how engrossing the articles, her mind came back to the pretty pin her mother was wearing. That bothered her some, although she didn’t know why. Maybe because she imagined it falling off Mama’s dress and getting stepped on.

She was asleep with the magazine in her lap when the sound of the door opening woke her. She blinked and swiped her eyes as her mother entered.

“Baby! What y’all doing still up? Oughta be in bed.”

“Fell asleep reading.” Her eyes searched her mother’s bosom. And there the pin was, winking at her in the dim light.

Willa’s hand went to the brooch. “Is that what you was waiting for? To see if I sold your clasp?”

Miasma’s eyes widened. “Never thought that. But… but….”

Her mother laughed, a good, strong belly sound. “Well, I could of. Lotsa times. Just about everybody took on over it. Why, I believe Miz Willis was jealous, and she has lots of fine play-purtys.”

Miasma glowed when she heard that. “Really?”

“Know what I told ‘em? I said my daughter got it for her singing. Fine voice she has.”

Miasma set about cleaning up and getting ready for bed. She didn’t think she was sleepy, but she only looked at the pretty pin twice before she dropped off with it clutched in her hand.

****

She knew she shouldn’t, but Miasma couldn’t resist putting on the broach the next day as she got ready to go meet Tizzie. While admiring the jewelry in the cracked glass of her mama’s dresser, she noticed something funny. The little diamonds and emeralds looked super, but they made her dress look drab. And it was her favorite pinafore too. The white one with tiny yellow flowers scattered all over it. It was second hand, but it was pretty, until the glittering bauble put it to shame. Still, the jewelry piece remained in place when she skipped out the door and headed down the dirt road.

Tizzie didn’t even try to pretend she didn’t see the pin. She walked right up and ran a finger down the shiny stones. “Where’d you get that?”

Miasma puffed out her chest. “Pretty, ain’t it?”

“Bee-ootiful! Where’d you get it? I know, it’s your mama’s, and she’s letting you wear it. Ha! Or maybe she don’t know. Did that snooty honky woman give it to her or did she steal it?”

Miasma stamped a foot. “It ain’t hers! It’s mine. She didn’t steal it, and I didn’t, neither.”

“Well, it hadda come from somewhere, and you sure don’t got enough money for something like that.”

“Somebody give it to me.”

“Who? Nobody has nothing like that, except maybe Miz Dinkins,” Tizzie said. “They the only ones able to afford it.”

“Wasn’t Miz Dinkins. It was that White man who lives at the top of the hill. He called me over and told me how much he likes my singing. And then he give me this and said to sing every time I wore it.”

Tizzie Dean scrunched her eyes up and curled her lip. “You ain’t singing now.”

“I did when I put it on. He didn’t say sing all the time I had it on.”

“He just give it to you? He didn’t want nothing back?”

Miasma shook her head. “Nope.”

Tizzie’s black eyes took on a calculating look. “You suppose he give me something?”

“Dunno. You go past his house singing for a year, and he might have something.”

“A year?”

“That’s how long I been going past his house singing. A whole year.”

Tizzie lost interest. “Let’s play jacks.”

“We don’t have no jacks.”

Tizzie stuck her nose in the air. “Do now. My mama bought me some yesterday.”

Miasma knew Miz Dean got some money every month from the government because Tizzie’s father was in the army. “Okay. Where?”

“In the house. I don’t want my new ball gettin’ dirty outside.”

****

Monday morning, it rained after Miasma’s mother left for work. A spring shower was lots better than the warm summer storms that made a lot of mud but did nothing to relieve the heat. In fact, they made it hotter. Humidity, her fourth-grade teacher had told her. Didn’t make sense, but Miz Holloway didn’t lie, so it must be true. Miasma smiled to herself. Miz Holloway was going to teach the fifth-grade next year, and that was good.

Miasma had to go down to the post office, but she’d wait out the rain. Nothing she could do about the mud, so she went barefoot. No use ruining the one pair of shoes she had. When the clouds looked like they’d quit dumping water all over the place, she took her musical notes—as she’d started calling Mr. Ace’s gift—and clasped it right in the middle of her blouse where she could glance down to see it was still there. After that, she stepped out into the red-brown Oklahoma mud.

Like always, the muck between her toes felt icky, but by the time she started up the hill, she didn’t mind so much. She had a hollow in the stomach when the old man wasn’t nowhere to be seen. But on the return trip, she started belting out “Go Down, Moses” as soon as she spotted him puttering around under the oak tree. A shiver of pleasure rolled down her back as he beckoned to her. The verge beside the fence was grassy, so the caked mud on her soles was almost gone by the time she stood opposite him.

“My, you’re looking pretty today, Miasma. That brooch looks nice on you.”

She glanced at her dirty feet and giggled. “Thank you, sir.”

 “What do you know about that beautiful song you were singing?”

“It’s one of the old hymns,” she said.

“‘Go Down, Moses’ is a slave gospel. Harriet Tubman—do you know who she was?”

“Yes sir. She was a hero.”

“Indeed, she was a great heroine. An escaped slave who started the underground railway to help others to freedom. At the risk of her own life, she sang that song to let slaves know she was in the area.”

“How you know that?” Miasma asked.

“I’m something of a reader. I like to know what went on in the world before I got here.”

“My people was slaves.”

“Yes, your people were slaves. Do you know your family history?”

“Some. Like I know who got brought over in chains. Mama used to tell me stories about him.”

“Ah, oral history. Fascinating. Do you know his name?

“Josiah Elder. He was a Bantu. A brave warrior who got caught in a battle and sold off to the White slavers.”

“Do you know his Bantu name.”

Something clicked in her brain. “Baker or Bakery or something like that.”

Mr. Ace frowned up at the sky. “Hmm, Baker or Bakery. Ah, it was probably Bakari. The Bantu were a proud people.” He glanced at her through greenish eyes with lots of brown in them. “Do you know how old he was when he came over the ocean?”

She shook her head. “Uh-uh, but I know he come over that Trail of Tears in the history books.”

“Interesting. But it’s ‘he came over,’ child.”

“Yes sir, I know.”

“If you know, why do you speak like that?”

“I can conjugate and all that, Mista Ace, but I live where I live.”

He drew back and looked her in the eye. “Very perspicacious, young lady. We all do what we need to do to survive in our own environment, don’t we? But back to your ancestor. If I recall correctly, the Five Civilized Tribes were moved across the Mississippi River by Andrew Jackson between 1830 and 1840. And they brought African slaves with them. That’s how most of the early Negroes came to Oklahoma. Did you know that?”

“No sir.”                                 

“What you’ve revealed tells me something. You have the most beautiful skin tone with a bit of a rosy glow. I’m willing to bet that Bantu slave who came to America over a hundred years ago married an Indian woman. Maybe even from the family that had owned him.”

“Mama says he married a Cherokee. And he was supposed to be a young’un when he done… uh, did it.”

“Fascinating, but you better head on home. The sky looks as if it’s about to open up again.”

Miasma skipped away without thinking of her pin or even of singing. Her head was full of questions about a Black slave called Bakari who magically turned himself into Josiah Elder. But if he was named Elder, where did the “Berry” in her own name come from?”

 

****

Do you get the feeling Mista Ace is beginning to open doors for this bright little girl’s mind to explore, to think beyond her small world of Colored Town to Honkey Town and the road in between.

 Tell me what you think.

 Stay safe and stay strong.

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 https://www.dropbox.com/s/ambxgy7e5ndmimk/CutiePieMurders%5BThe%5D.zip?dl=0

 My personal links:

 Email: don.travis@aol.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.

 

Don

 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

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