OUT AND ABOUT IN MIDTOWN - Previous Chapters
A serialized novel by Darrell Scheidegger Jr.
c h a p t e r o n e
Jack and Kevin live in a cute bungalow on 25th Street beneath Modesto Ash and Japanese Maples. It needs a new coat of paint, but the orange and yellow tulips in the front yard make up for it.
Jack works two jobs in retail: clothing and books, his two favorite things. He has been losing hair since his 20s, and when there wasn’t much left to comb or brush, he decided to shave it all off (he called it “mowing his head”).
His partner, Kevin, teaches art to high school students. He still has his hair, but it’s going gray.
Nature gets you one way or the other.
Today is Tuesday. Jack is home early because he had an opening shift at the bookstore. He’s in the kitchen preparing a salad for dinner when Kevin walks in the door.
“Hey, Honey!” Jack calls out.
“Hi,” replies Kevin entering the kitchen and kissing Jack’s cheek.
“How was your day teaching our hope for the future?”
“If they’re the future,” mumbles Kevin, “we’re gonna need more than hope.”
Jack pulls a glass from the cupboard and pours Kevin some wine. Jack has already started on his second glass.
“Roger called me into his office this afternoon,” Kevin says, picking up an olive, putting it on his fingertip, and eating it.
“Oooo! When was the last time you got called into the Principal’s Office?” asks Jack.
Kevin thinks, then answers, “Fifth Grade.”
Jack smiles. “I remember you telling me. It was for defacing school property by drawing a cock on the restroom wall.”
“It was a rocket ship.”
“Yeah, right,” smiles Jack.
“I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up,” explains Kevin.
“You wanted to DO an astronaut when you grew up,” teases Jack.
Kevin grabs a crouton and throws it at him.
“You wanted to boldly go where no man has gone before,” continues Jack. “Guess what? Lots of men have gone there before… especially in a public restroom.”
“Knock it off,” says Kevin. He takes a deep breath and a deeper swallow of wine. His voice grows quiet. “Roger wants me to present at the Arts in Education conference next month.”
“Congratulations,” says Jack.
“I don’t want to go,” Kevin whispers.
“Why not?” asks Jack. “You’ve done it before. What’s the big deal?”
Kevin pauses. “It’s being held in San Diego.”
Jack looks up and catches Kevin’s eyes. Neither one of them speaks for several moments.
Finally Jack says, “It’s been over five years, Babe. You need to forgive and forget.”
“How could I ever forget something like that?” Kevin almost shouts.
Jack steps toward him.
“And forgive who?” asks Kevin.
Jack puts his hand on Kevin’s shoulder and answers, “Yourself.”
The doorbell rings and interrupts the conversation between their eyes. Kevin pulls away from Jack as he moves to the entrance hall and the front door. He leans forward to look through the peephole; nobody is there.
c h a p t e r t w o
Kevin pulls the door open to find a cat licking its ass on the WELCOME mat.
“How the hell did you ring the bell?” he asks. The calico looks up at him and blinks twice.
“I rang the bell, you idiot,” says a voice to his right. It’s Abby from next door. She had stepped across the porch to admire the purple hydrangeas in the side yard.
“Oh, hi…” says Kevin, without a smile.
“Come here, Cupcake,” sings Abby, bending down to pick up the cat. “Mommy loves pussy.”
Kevin doesn’t doubt that. Abby is the neighborhood’s self-proclaimed King of the Lesbians. Sporting Birkenstocks and plaid shirts, she enjoys being a stereotype (but pronounces it “stereo-dyke”). Her hair is short, and her patience is shorter. She has a wicked sense of humor, and makes fun of everyone; some more than their fair share.
Kevin tolerates her; Jack adores her.
“What can I do for you?” Kevin inquires. Help you down the steps and back to your front door? he thinks.
“I need a favor,” she says, kissing Cupcake between its ears. “I want you to whip up a pitcher of your delicious sangria for my Tupperware party Saturday afternoon.”
Abby calls her women-only get-togethers “Tupperware” or “Avon” parties. She thinks it’s ironic, and it makes her laugh. No food-storage or make-up products are involved, just booze and broads; the boozier and broadier the better.
“Sure,” sighs Kevin, not wanting to extend the conversation any further.
“Great! I’ll pick it up around 2:00 p.m.”
“Jack will bring it over.”
“Thanks! You guys are the best.” She hugs the cat to her hip and turns to walk down the stoop.
“Bye, Dick!” she calls out.
Abby knows Kevin’s name. She knows every neighbor’s name. She just likes calling men “dick.”
Jack steps out onto the porch.
“What was that about?” he asks.
“About two minutes of my life I’ll never get back,” answers Kevin. “Just Abby ordering a pitcher of sangria. I’ll stop by the market later.”
Kevin starts back inside, when he notices a folded piece of paper tucked under the doormat. He bends to pick it up.
“What’s that?” asks Jack.
Kevin unfolds it and reads it out loud: “It is better to be hated for what you are, than to be loved for what you are not.”
“What does that mean?” Jack wonders.
“I don’t know.”
“Who left it?” asks Jack, looking up and down the street.
“I don’t know,” repeats Kevin.
“Cupcake!” smiles Kevin.
Jack follows Kevin inside the house, while a pair of eyes from across the street follow Jack. The door closes quietly behind him. Then the deadbolt clicks.
Young Women Rule The Pop Charts
by Chris Narloch
Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” and Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” recently occupied the top two spots on the Billboard pop singles charts, creating a one-two punch of musical estrogen that was backed up by Tove Lo’s “Habits (Stay High)” at #3 and “Bang Bang” featuring Ariana Grande, Jessie J and Nicki Minaj in the fourth position.
What’s happening here? Young women are creating an abundance of catchy, carefully crafted pop music in 2014 – that’s what is happening.
John Rechy: On the Gay Sensibility
By Frank Pizzoli
Born erudite, John Rechy, 83, is the author of twelve novels and three non-fiction works. He was raised Mexican-American in El Paso, Texas at a time when Latino children were routinely segregated.
He was assumed to be Anglo because of his light skin. A teacher “changed” his name from Juan to John.
Check Out The Latest Broadway (And Off-Broadway) Cast Recordings
by Chris Narloch
The Tony Awards for 2014 are history, and it will be awhile before shows like “A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder,” which won for Best Musical this year, and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” which nabbed the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical, are seen in these parts.
In the meantime, you can enjoy cast recordings for many of the nominated shows, including “If/Then” with Idina Menzel, and the Broadway version of “Bullets Over Broadway,” as well as several off-Broadway CDs, reviewed below.
The Glamour of dr.a.g. Returns to Bookstores with Twenty never-before-seen images
Christopher Logan has re-released his remarkable coffee table book filled with photographs capturing the worlds most celebrated drag superstars by the industry’s leading photographers.
Photos represent a wide spectrum of drag icons from underground drag royalty to the new breed of reality television stars. Included are Jeffree Star, shot by photographer Austin Young, Jimmy James as Marilyn Monroe by photographer Walter Melrose and Larry Edwards as Tina Turner by photographer Ninon Nguyen.
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