Doug told me to shower before going out. I went back to Joey’s room, but he still wasn’t back. I guessed it was his normal routine. After showering, I looked at myself in the mirror. The Indian war paint was still slightly visible, making my eyes appear darker and bigger. I combed my white hair back. Because it was so short, it stuck up except for a short bang.. Compared to the other boys, I was tall and muscular, although my waist was incredible narrow compared with my broad shoulders. There was a ridge of freckles across my nose and upper cheeks. The blue of my eyes was deeper than the blue in my jeans. My white tee contrasted with my dark tan. I felt like I was glowing. Hollywood made me see myself as others did. Taking my airline ticket, I returned to Doug’s study to call the airline for my flight home. Calling Lydia, I reached her brother, Steve, who agreed to pick me up the next evening. I found Doug sitting outside by the pool, surrounded by his braves. Twilight was fading over the city, with the dull blue sky highlighted by the bronze gold sunset to the west. They looked at me with hooded eyes. I felt they wanted me to be one of them, yet they knew I was just a visitor. Doug asked if I was ready to go.
“What about the others,” I asked.
“You want to go out with these runaways? They have no manners.”
“Why not? Let’s just get pizza. I don’t want anything fancy.”
“Okay,” and all the boys jumped up and ran into the tee pee for jeans and shoes. “You’re crazy,” he noted but also laughed as they got ready. I knew he was enjoying me. He called for a large cab. We all piled in and were on our way, Doug trying to clean the war paint off several boys, without much success. We stopped at a fancy Italian restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard, called Dan Tana’s. I’d never been in a pizza joint that had a doorman and a Maitre’D. He led Doug to a large corner booth, with the rest of us trailing behind. We were poking each other in glee. This was no joint, with everyone except us dressed up in formal wear. The booth was perfect, so far away from everyone, our noise and merriment didn’t bother them. Salad, bread sticks, and pitchers of beer were brought, even though no one was near twenty-one. I tried to learn everyone’s name, failing miserably. No one cared. Soon four large pizzas with various toppings appeared. The beer flowed as we barely kept the din below unacceptable levels. Several people came over to speak with Doug, who tried to rise above the scene we had created. Finally the check was paid and the restaurant was relieved of our raucous group. The night was dark, lit by the headlights from the cars streaming by.
“You guys want to come to the club, huh?” Doug asked no one in particular. “But you’ve got to stay away from the bar.”
We all answered affirmatively at once. He turned down the street, and we walked the short distance to his club, where his name sat atop the Marquee. The doorman ushered our group in. Doug was instantly caught up in the business of running a nightclub. The tall boy with long brown hair put his hand on my shoulder and led me away from the group.
“You like girls?” he asked.
“Yeah, of course ,” I answered nonchalantly, “almost as much as I liked you.”
He grimaced, and then laughed. “Well, don’t talk too much about that. I’ve got a reputation that’s already suspect since I moved into the tee-pee.”
“Sure. I was just kidding. Sex is sex.”
“The ladies here can be divided into two groups, those who give and those who get. See the ones standing by the stairs?” he pointed toward the back of the club, where a bouncer was standing by the stairs. “They’ll do anything to get upstairs. I’ll introduce you to the bouncer, and then the ladies will be all over you.”
“So they’re the ones who want to get.”
“You catch on quick.”
“What about that one sitting alone?”
“She’ll want you to buy her a drink.”
“Well, who’s a giver?”
“Check out that babe walking alone on the dance floor. She’s strutting her stuff, willing to go with whoever checks her out.”
“She’s pretty hot.”
“Well, go for it.”
“I dunno. It’s too complicated for me.”
“Com’n upstairs. It’s even more intense up there.”
We went up to the bouncer, and Tony, the long dark-haired boy, introduced me as ‘with Doug,’ good for admittance. Upstairs small tables were arranged by the balcony, with bleacher seats behind them. Just as we got there, a band was announced on stage. Tony and I sat in the bleacher seats. Then we were hailed by several of the other boys around a table. We pulled up chairs and watched the opening band’s first song. I remembered my night at CBGB’s, thinking how different it was here, with everyone calmly watching the band. In New York, it had been bedlam. The energy level was significantly lower here. I enjoyed the show, watching the crowd move toward the stage. Instead of people wildly jumping and running about, here the band’s fans were slowly swaying to the music. Just a different kind of rock n roll, I figured.
I looked into the office to the right of the bleachers, where Doug was speaking to an older man. Leaving the boys’ table, I walked tentatively into the office. Doug motioned me to sit, while he conducted business. The man was talking a mile a minute, while Doug listened and held a phone to his head. He finally waved the man away, promising a future date for the man’s client. I wasn’t surprised to see the man peel off several bills, slap them on Doug’s desk, and walk out.
“The seamy side of rock n roll,” Doug commented to me.
“Is that how you make this club pay?” I asked.
“No, it’s the bar that pays the bills here. He just thinks he has to grease my palm in order to get his clients booked.”
“Doesn’t he have to.”
“No, but I’m not going to throw the money back at him. What do you think of my club.”
“Hey, I’m can use that expression myself.”
We laughed, and then he said, “I see you’re not that into the band tonight.”
“I’ll get away from here soon. We’ll get a driver, and I’ll show you the rest of this tacky town. I think you should stay, but you’ve got to see more of Hollywood to make up your mind.”
I laughed, “You’re crazy.”
“Go back to the club. I’ll grab you when I’m ready. Ciao, baby,” he dismissed me.
The boys were gone, so I peered over the balcony, checking out what they were up to. I saw two coming out of the Ladies, with an older guy, wiping their noses and making sure everyone knew they had done coke. Tony was seated at a table with the older woman, who was running her nails through his long hair. It amused me to think he was working hard to be hetero when I knew how much he liked getting fucked. Several guys were dancing with no one in particular in front of the band, while another guy was dancing with his own reflection in a full-length side mirror. Dozens of these little scenarios were being acted out all over the club. The band on stage droned on, oblivious to the crowd around them. My fascination with the crowd prevented me from noticing an older man who came up behind me. I jumped when he ran his long fingernails along the exposed skin between my tee and jeans.
“Whoa, what are you doing?” as I moved away.
“You’re too delicious to be by yourself,” he came on to me.
“He’s not by himself,” came the response behind us. Doug hurried up to where I was confronting him.
“Sorry, Doug, my mistake. He just looked too inviting.”
“Go invite yourself somewhere else.”
The guy took off, without looking back.
“You ready to go?” Doug asked.
“Sure. Thanks. I guess I need a bodyguard?”
“Just your body needs guarding,” We laughed.
Outside, a limo was parked by the curb. The driver opened the back door, and we entered its dark world. It felt cozy, like an overstuffed couch, but not cramped. The world outside was removed. Doug picked up the telephone and gave vague directions to the driver. We pulled into the Saturday night traffic on Santa Monica Boulevard.
“This is Boy’s Town, Tim. West Hollywood. To be young and gay means to be here.” He gestured toward the street, where I saw men walking arm in arm, guys kissing each other outside the bars that lined the street. Single men loitered at the corners and looked longingly at the tinted windows of the limo as we slowly drove by.
“If you see anyone attractive, we can stop to pick him up,” Doug offered.
“I think I had enough group sex already,” I demurred.
Doug again questioned me about what I had done sexually, how I felt about it, and many personal questions about my feelings. He made me feel important, but it wasn’t comfortable. Perhaps because I was leaving in the morning, he wanted to know as much as possible now. It just felt forced. Finally, I turned to him, put my finger to my lips, and kissed him to stop the questions. I expected we’d get into it, but I sensed his reluctance. Looking him in the eyes, I asked why he wanted to talk so much.
“You’re so different from anyone I meet here. You don’t guard your feelings.”
“I barely understand what I’m feeling. How can I guard that?”
“Well, everyone else, including your cousin, trades their feelings for what they want.”
“And what’s that? What do they want?”
“Money, a place to stay, material things.”
“Kids sell themselves for a place to stay?”
“Sure. Most of them are runaways. The streets can get pretty tough.”
“I know Joey was pretty tough before he was on the streets.”
“Joey’ll survive, but he thinks the size of his dick is the price of admission to the good life.”
“This is the good life. How’d you make it?”
He looked amused with me, and then told me a long history of his life. Only once he came to Hollywood could he relax and enjoy what he’d gained. By the time he finished, we were stopped on a secluded road in the hills overlooking Hollywood.
“Welcome to Mulholland Drive, site of the infamous Dead Man’s Curve.”
We got out, going over to the overlook. I leaned into him and he put an arm around me. All the lights sparkled below, providing a panorama of all LA. The streets were lit in an incandescent yellow string, east to west, north to south. Whereas the bright sun during the day made for a glaring landscape, the lit-up night made LA seem luscious and ripe. Doug pointed out West Hollywood to the right. He dismissed the actual Hollywood, as ‘history.’ The action had moved west. I reflected that so had I. At that point he started talking about me staying and all he’d do for me.
“You are really going for me,” I noted.
“More than for anyone else, ever.”
“But when I went for you in the limo, you backed off.”
“We’ll work that out once you decide to stay with me.”
I realized he wanted to have me, like a possession. He complained that all the boys were selling themselves, but it was because he was buying. How could I make this decision without knowing what he was about? He was as old as my dad and wanted me to live with him because I was open and attractive. I had been anxious to reward him for buying my airline ticket, which made the impression that I was selling myself to him. I wondered how to say it so he knew what I felt. There was no way I’d give up my life to be a rich guy’s boyfriend. It was nothing to do with being gay, just to do with losing my friends, Scott, Tina, the whole part of my life where I was growing up and finding out about myself. It was an unfair decision to be forced to make. Would I regret having said no when I was older and wanted this life? If I told him these feelings, it would only encourage him to keep me confused, so I’d do what he wanted. I took the kid’s way out. I put him off.
“I’ll think about it when I get back to Miami, Doug. There’s no way I can make sane decisions now. You’ve been great to me, so great. I’m just too overwhelmed.” He gave me a look that said he knew he’d lost. He walked back to the limo by himself, leaving me to follow. I worried he’d be sore and just dump me there. After a short silence in the limo, he turned on the charm again. It intrigued me to guess what demons made him live his life this way. I was open to any type of sex he wanted but had been put off unless I was willing to become his possession. These thoughts, over the coming months, were the first glimmers of awareness of my own soul and its worth to me and to others.
We drove back to his house, with Doug pointing out landmarks and interesting stories about the Sunset Strip. At home, I followed him into his bedroom. He gave me another back rub and sucked me off. We both felt estranged from each other, and I was glad when I finally came. I apologized for not being inspired, but he laughed and confessed that many boys could hardly keep it up, let alone get off. We talked some more about my coming back, and I was sufficiently positive to keep him happy. I was relieved to get back to Joey’s room, but he still hadn’t returned. I got into the unmade bed and was soon fast asleep.
Joey stumbled in somewhere in the middle of the night. When I opened my eyes, I saw him slumped over, on the edge of the bed. Sitting up, I could tell he was incoherent.
”Joey, where ya been?”
“Out, man. I’m really out of it.”
I moved beside him and he leaned against my shoulder.
“Remember that scratching session we had back in Massachusetts? I sure could use another.”
I pulled off his tee-shirt which was soaked in sweat, then turned him onto his stomach. Using my nails, I ran my fingers up and down his back. He reacted like a cat, but moaning, not purring. I sat on his butt and scratched his neck and ears, then through his long, dark hair. His body was supple and giving, responding to my touch. His skin hung off a body, devoid of muscles, so unlike Scott. I laughed at myself for comparing lovers. I worked his arms, reaching out to run my nails the length of his limbs to his relaxed hands. I wanted to lie on top of him, but pulled back and regained my seat on his butt.
“You’re doing junk again, arn’t you?” I accused him
“Yeah, ain’t it the shits.”
“You were so straight in New York.”
“There ain’t a straight bone in my body.”
“No, y’know. You were so together. You organized the whole rescue of Tito. Man, you were a hero.”
“Ain’t I your hero no more, Timmy?”
I lay down, this time beside him.
“Don’t stop,” he complained, so I continued to rub his back more like a massage. “You’re cool, Tim.”
“But, now I’ve gotta worry about you, Joey. It ain’t fair.” I pulled him closer to me and we lay there hugging. Soon, I heard his breathing fall into an easy rhythm of sleep. Thinking I’d have trouble falling asleep myself, I was soon as gone as Joey. I dreamed confused episodes in New York, with everyone there chasing me, Scott, Lydia, my dad, Tina, Doug, the Indian braves from the teepee. Then Joey pulled up in the convertible. I jumped in, but instead of escaping together, he turned me over to the pursuers. I awoke, not knowing where I was. I looked at Joey as I got my bearings. I realized he wasn’t breathing. I shook him, but he didn’t respond. I started giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and pounded on his chest, as I’d learned in life saving class in Alaska. His cheeks went from grey to normal pallor and he came out of it.
“Hey, look at the boy scout,” he whispered.
“I thought you were dying.”
“No, man. I was dead. You brought me back. What a guy.”
It was too much. Sitting on the edge of the bed, the tears were streaming down my cheeks. Joey just sat there, too out of it to even notice my distress. After a few moments, I got my breath back. He was laying there, staring at the ceiling. I thought he was dead, but he just looked at me strangely when I grabbed his shoulder.
“I’m okay, man, just kinda out of it.”
“Joey, how can you be this way?” I sobbed.
“Hey, little man, it’s okay. I promise I won’t do it again. I just got carried away tonight. It was that shot of whiskey from Doug’s bar when I got home. I’ll be more careful.”
“You mean so much to me, Joey. If you die I won’t be able to stand it.”
“Hey, I ain’t gonna die.”
I crawled into bed, giving him a hug. I slept in starts and stops, waking up every few minutes to check his breathing. Finally I stayed asleep for a couple of hours. I got up at eight. Joey was so out of it, he wouldn’t wake up. Doug’s door was closed, so I wandered out to the teepee. The tall kid named Tony was sitting up, taking a hit from the pot pipe.
“Wanna a hit?” he offered.
“That’s okay. I don’t feel so hot this morning.”
“Doug too much for you last night?” He half-mocked me.
“Naw, it was pretty mild. It was Joey; he kept me up all night.”
“That dude’s too much; he parties full-time. How come you stay with him?”
“He’s my cousin. He had Doug bring me out here.”
“Oh, I wondered why you were such the special thang.”
I laughed, then took the pipe from him and took a hit.
“That’s better,” I exhaled and sat beside him. “How’d you end up here?”
“I started coming to Hollywood last winter. I live in South Bay, but I hate it there. My folks are screwed. This hippie guy turned me on to Doug. He gave me the big rush at first, so that I’d come up here and stay as long as I wanted. Now, I’m just one of his braves. Yesterday was really crazy, man. Usually we just dance around and get naked. I can’t believe we all fucked each other. My butt’s still sore.”
“You don’t get fucked when you have sex?”
“I don’t think I’m really a fag, or that I’d really enjoy it. It’s like being a girl or something.”
“Yeah, or something.”
We laughed. “But what about you? You seem pretty young even though your body’s the best.”
“Maybe I’ll turn into a fag,” I said, giving him a sly look.
He moved closer and we smiled.
“See, you’re so bold about it. I can’t even tell these other guys here what I think. All we talk about is girls and how studly we are. Then Doug comes out and takes his pick. He treats us like shit. If these other guys see us making it, they’ll shun me. It’s screwed.”
“You need real friends. My friend Scott found out I had done it with Joey when I was fourteen; he told everyone on the swim team. We had it out. Then I saved him from being run over by a boat. We lay on the beach after it was over and realized we were best friends. Now he lives with me and we’re boyfriends, after he called me queer and everything.”
“Wow. Do you ever think you have some kind of power over people?”
“You mean like Doug and his whip?”
“No. He’s just a fag. I mean everything just works out for you. You seem so cool.”
“That’s the weed talking,” I laughed. “Give me another hit.”
As I took a drag, another kid crawled over and sat beside us. He didn’t say a word after I passed him the pipe, just looking at me with wide eyes.
“That’s Jimmy,” Tony explained. “He never talks except when he has to.”
I gave him the hippie handshake. “Peace, brother.”
He smiled, took another hit, and settled next to me, with his back to the wall.
Soon everybody was getting up and we had a circle with the pipe going around. Everybody, except Jimmy, talked about themselves a bit. It was the first time anyone had opened up to the others. Most were runaways and/or throwaway kids. No one was younger than me; most were 17 or 18. They felt they were still on the streets, even though Doug was providing a place to sleep. All expected to be eventually kicked out. When I asked, no one could remember anyone actually being told to leave, but all the boys before them had gone off on their own. Their dream was to find a sugar daddy, who would buy them stuff, like a car. They were amazed I had a boyfriend my own age. They didn’t want their hometown friends to know what they did. Sex was something they did to survive; they hated it. Yesterday’s orgy made them all uneasy because everyone had screwed and been screwed. Their feelings were too mixed up for them to admit they liked it. Being straight was an image they had to maintain at all cost. Sex was a job and it couldn’t be fun. When I told them I had sex with girls and didn’t know or care whether I was straight or gay, they argued you had to be exclusively one or the other. It made them nervous they were so close to being gay. If they enjoyed it once, it might blow the image they were fighting to maintain.
I looked at them as each told their experiences and said, “You know, we’re all so much more alike than different. I think the straight world sucks, especially if you have to work at it to belong. I’ve got an idea to test how gay each of us is, but you’ve got to agree to participate. Okay?”
They all looked nervously at each other, so I went on, “It’s not a word test. We just see who gets turned on by each other. All we have to do is get naked and see who gets hard as we sit around in a circle.”
“Oh, a circle jerk.”
“No. You can’t jerk off. We see who gets hard thinking we’re going to get off with each other.”
“Well, I guess I win,” said Tony, exposing his hard-on through his jeans. “Just talking about it and I’m ready.”
“Okay, let’s take it to the next step. Everybody gets naked and Tony get in the middle.”
After looking at each other for a second, we all stood up and stripped off our clothes, and then got in a circle around Tony. Two other guys had hard-ons too, so I directed them into the middle, each kneeling with his back to the other.
“Okay, Tony, who do you want,” I asked, “since you’re the one who’s ready; it’s your choice.”
“That’s easy, I chose you.”
Everyone, including me, laughed.
I got up and sat in front of him. “Okay, now you’ve got to make me hard.”
He looked a bit uneasy. “But, how?”
“Well, you want me, so it’s up to you to get me to want you.”
“I ain’t gonna blow you.”
“Well, use your imagination.”
He looked at me, then pulled me closer to him and started to rub my nipples which instantly got hard. Soon my dick was lengthening as the blood rushed into it. Still kneeling in front of him, I felt it stiffen. As soon as the engorged head poked up between my legs, a cheer went up from all those watching us. Tony straightened up and clasping me around the waist, pulling me into his arms. Soon both our dicks were bobbing and touching each other as if introducing themselves. The other two with hard-ons pointed out partners, who came forward and kneeled in front of them. Tony and I were already rolling on the floor, our hips locked together. He was pumping against my stomach as if he would cum any second. I took his head in my hands to get his attention. His serious expression switched to a smile. Then he kissed me. That was unexpected. Reaching behind my butt I guided his dick to my butt hole. He strained in anticipation. I spit saliva into my free hand, and then covered his dick and my asshole with it. I felt the throbbing head of his dick push past my anal muscles, making me writhe in desire to be fucked. He put his hands under my butt and buttoned my ass with his hard-on, driving it totally into me in a single motion. Once fully inside, he held it rigid as my butt squeezed and released, with the decreasing pain and increasing pleasure from the invading member. As I relaxed, he started thrusting in and out. I groaned with pleasure as he strived to drive deeper and deeper with each thrust. As my butt loosened, he was soon pulling almost completely out of me at the top of his stroke. Then, like a piston, he drilled back inside as deep as he could plunge. The stimulation of the thrust heightened as he went in and decreased to the point of my missing the shaft as he retracted. My pre-cum flooded from each thrust, wetting our bellies. I could hear the heavy breathing and moaning as the other two pairs were fucking as hard as we were. I wanted to laugh at the success of my little test, but Tony wasn’t letting up. His pumping became faster and breathing was strained. I squeezed as hard as possible at each thrust. I knew I couldn’t hold out much longer, as I was about to explode. Tony took a huge breath. Then he thrust completely into me as his dick expanded. I fucked myself on his rigid dick until my dick could wait no longer. The jism flew from our straining stomachs, hitting me in the jaw and face as we jerked in simultaneous orgasm. His whole body convulsed, and he spilled his load inside my writhing ass. My jism went everywhere, as his straining stomach twisted my dick back and forth. I heard cries from the others as it hit them in mid-fuck. Tony’s orgasm slowed and finally we collapsed into an exhausted heap. I expelled his spent dick and held him as he continued to shudder. We kept holding each other as we looked into our eyes and shared our satisfaction. The other two continued their fucking. I heard a muffled sob from against the wall. Jimmy was sitting there, miserable in isolation. There were seven of us and he’d been the man out. It was like not being picked for baseball. Dragging Tony with me, we crawled over next to him. He reached out and the three of us hugged.
“I didn’t get a hard-on,” he mumbled between his sobs.
“That doesn’t mean you don’t want to be loved,” I said, stroking his short black hair. He put both arms around my neck and held me tightly. We remained like that, with Tony’s arm around him also. I pulled away, and looking straight into his dark eyes, I let out my feelings.
“You’re just as important as anyone else. Sex isn’t love, Jimmy. You need more love than all of us combined. Just let us know you need us, so we can give it.”
“That’s the first time I’ve heard him talk,” Tony looked at Jimmy in wonder.
“That’s because he had to trust he could reach out to you guys. He needs you guys, all of you.”
The other couplings were done, and they all gathered in a circle around Jimmy. He beamed from all the attention, with everyone putting their hands on him.
Doug stood in the doorway watching our little group. “You all look like a bunch of preschoolers.
We jumped apart in surprise.
“You’ve got to get moving, Tim. I called a cab which will be here in five minutes,” he announced.
We came together for a final hug. As I walked away with Doug, I looked back at them, with Jimmy surrounded by the others. There was nothing brave about them. I should worry about Jimmy especially. It was like walking away from my future.
I grabbed my clothes and kissed the still sleeping Joey. Doug was being gracious, reminding me he wanted me to return. He put a roll of twenties in my hand, as I tried thanking him. The reason I had come was Tina’s problems in New York, but that seem far away now.
Soon I was rolling down the Hollywood Hills toward the airport. The bright sunlight again made things look garish. I thought a lot about LA on the flight back to Miami. Everyone was so friendly, but I left feeling it had been unreal, as if the whole weekend had been a dream. New York had been too real, dangerous and complicated. I hadn’t called Tina since leaving. She was my girlfriend; I knew it, but it wasn’t like Scott and Lydia. It was more like a commitment for the future. She was only fourteen, and I knew she shouldn’t be having sex. Our connection was deeper. But it was so vague; was I kidding myself about wanting a girlfriend? Why was everything about me so strange? Couldn’t I have a normal relationship? Was hoping Scott and me could be normal a fantasy? Was my need for him a need to be normal? Was I a Doubting Thomas, who only thought about such things when I wasn’t busy having a real life. I had hardly thought about myself all weekend – three days of action and sex. The tee-pee and Doug with a whip was not me. I tried to sleep but my dreams kept me from relaxing. I swore I’d contact Tina and then straighten out everything with Scott and Lydia. I felt excluded because they were a couple. Now that I accepted it, I could work on making the three of us as close as Scott and I had been. I laughed when thinking how Scott would feel about letting her know about the two of us. Once all this was settled, I could relax and slept the last half of the flight.