Chapter 8 …

bw-hug

Last week’s chapter began with the aftermath of what happened in Chapter 6. Pressed about whether he liked what happened, Jimmy admitted he had and cited several reasons for that. Whatever he may have intended, Jimmy’s words caused Jeff to break down and cry.

While we never learn all the details, it seems being homosexual has not brought much happiness to Jeff up to this point in his life; indeed, that being homosexual has been a struggle for him. Would that be surprising considering the era in which he grew up? I suspect not.

Convinced Jimmy would be better off in a straight relationship, one where he could get married and have children and seemingly live happily ever after, Jeff apparently believes he did the wrong thing letting Jimmy have sex with him again.

Jimmy manages to calm Jeff down, telling the older youth he should let Jimmy decide for himself what’s right for him. At the same time, Jeff’s display of emotion leaves Jimmy shaken because Jimmy wants sex to be both fun and uncomplicated.

Oh, my, isn’t it amazing how naive we can be when we’re young:-)

In any event, the two talk it out the next day. Apparently resigned to never finding anyone who will genuinely love him, Jeff decides he’s open to having a relationship on Jimmy’s terms. He won’t ask Jimmy to do anything the boy isn’t comfortable with and he’s also apparently willing not to dispute Jimmy’s self-interpretation of who he is.

That allows Jimmy to continue the relationship, which apparently becomes a bit volcanic over the next several months. In November the congressional candidate Jeff is supporting wins the election and offers Jeff a job in Washington.

In turn, Jeff asks Jimmy to consider moving to America’s capital with him. He promises Jimmy he’ll be able to live for free in the place Jeff plans to rent and to pay for all the food as well.

Jimmy is initially hesitant. He wonders what he’ll do for a living in Washington, but Jeff promises to help him find a job or even let Jimmy live with him without getting a job at all in exchange for help around the place they’ll be living.

That makes Jimmy wonder whether Jeff sees him as his wife. Jeff denies it, even going so far as to tell Jimmy he knows who wears the pants in their relationship. Reassured, Jimmy promises to consider the offer, then satisfies a more immediate and compelling need.

I don’t know abut anyone else, but Jimmy can be frustrating at times. Instead of realizing who he is, he seems determined to perpetuate a myth; one that brings out the worst in him at times. And yet there are other times when he seems to genuinely care about Jeff.

Whether this conflict will ever be resolved remains to be seen, but I suspect it won’t be resolved anytime soon. If not, we’re likely to see more of this kind of behavior from Jimmy; i.e., selfishness mixed with a capacity for tender feelings as well.

Whatever the case may be, Chapter 8 is up at The Annex. Have fun reading and feel free to let me know if you think the story is too confusing.

Be Afraid, America, Very Afraid …

trump

Ezra Klein of Vox has just published the single best summing up of Donald Trump I’ve seen to date. If you read nothing else about the man, read this.

Donald Trump is not a man who should be president. This is not an ideological judgment. This is not something I would say about Mitt Romney or Marco Rubio. This is not a disagreement over Donald Trump’s tax plan or his climate policies. This is about Trump’s character, his temperament, his impulsiveness, his basic decency.

Back in February, I wrote that Trump is the most dangerous major candidate for president in memory. He pairs terrible ideas with an alarming temperament; he’s a racist, a sexist, and a demagogue, but he’s also a narcissist, a bully, and a dilettante. He lies so constantly and so fluently that it’s hard to know if he even realizes he’s lying. He delights in schoolyard taunts and luxuriates in backlash.

He has had plenty of time to prove me, and everyone else, wrong. But he hasn’t. He has not become more responsible or more sober, more decent or more generous, more considered or more informed, more careful or more kind … He is a person who should not be president. That he is being brought this close to the presidency — that he is one major mistake by Hillary Clinton away from winning it — should scare us all.

You can read the entire indictment here. It is well worth your time. Then share it with everyone you know.

Chapter 7 …

If you’re looking for the usual recap of last week’s chapter, you won’t find it here. It’s not the kind of chapter that can be easily recapped.

If you need to refresh your memory, feel free to read it again. Indeed, that would probably be a good idea no matter what as tonight’s chapter picks up exactly where the last chapter ended and is more a continuation than something new; at least initially.

To put it in 1970s terms, it’s the cigarette guys lit and smoked to calm themselves down after doing something that got them quite excited indeed:-)

By the way, is it just me or does anyone else find it hard to believe people actually smoked after having sex? It seems kind of yucky, but I’m told that it happened and far be it for me to question my sources.

To set the record straight, I want to be sure people understand I’m not suggesting Jimmy and Jeff are somehow the personification of the 1970s. An era cannot be captured in one or two characters. Having said that, I do think their story is a very 1970s tale and hopefully that will become clearer as our story unfolds.

While Jimmy is coming into clearer focus for us, tonight’s chapter will hopefully provide a little better insight into Jeff than we’ve had up until now. His character won’t really become entirely clear until the second half of the story, which is still quite a ways off.

But if you read carefully, you’ll begin to get a glimpse of someone trying to come to grips with his homosexuality and his feelings for Jimmy even as he’s struggling to find a way forward in life. In some ways Jeff is the more interesting character for me although Jimmy is probably as complex, if not more, in his own way.

I’m not sure whether it’s coming across very well, but what you’re seeing are two people struggling to cope with their homosexuality in different ways in the 1970s. While I’ve painted Jimmy in a way that may make you dislike him, what I’m really trying to suggest is that everyone dealt with their homosexuality differently back in the day.

Some might argue that one way was better than another, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make. Whatever happened next for gay people after the 1970s was a product of all the individual struggles people went through back then. And just because people don’t come out and tell you they’re struggling doesn’t mean they aren’t.

To put it another way, I’m not trying to paint heroes and villains. Hopefully by the end of the story we’ll see both Jimmy and Jeff for who they really are; and I consider both of them, with all their imperfections, heroes, not villains.

In any event, enough with the random musings. For now all I’m saying is this is a story where it’s best to suspend judgment and avoid rushing to conclusions.

That being said, I’ve now posted Chapter 7 over at The Annex. Have fun reading.

Chapter 6 …

Love the hair on this boy ...

Tonight’s chapter was originally much longer. Indeed, it was so long I finally bit the bullet and decided to split it in two. But don’t worry. I’ve moved the less interesting stuff to the next chapter. You get the good stuff tonight:-)

Which isn’t to say the next chapter isn’t important. Indeed, what happens there might be much more important. But if you like sex more than what comes after sex, you may find this chapter somewhat more, uh . . . stimulating.

Some of you may think a chapter like this would be easy to write, but it wasn’t. I wanted the chapter to come across as both passionate and calculating. You’ll have to decide whether I succeeded, but keep in mind the chapter does set the stage for what comes next.

But before you dig in and enjoy, I should probably bring you up to date on what happened in the last chapter.

To recap briefly, Jimmy walked from his home to Noel Field three miles away on a Friday night, somehow avoiding the parish priest and the library in the process. It was a long walk, but we learned some interesting things about Jimmy along the way; at least we did if we were paying attention.

As you may recall, Jimmy was hoping to find someone he could hitch a ride with to New York State, where the legal drinking age is only 18 (unlike Massachusetts where it’s 21). Unfortunately, no one was around he could do that with so Jimmy ended up heading back downtown.

Once there he saw lights still on in the headquarters for the congressional candidate Tommy had told Jimmy that Jeff was supporting. Seeing Jeff still there when he peeked in, Jimmy went inside and said hello.

One thing led to another and Jeff eventually agreed to drive Jimmy over to New York. The two brought each other up to date at the bar they visited. Fortunately, Jeff didn’t have anything to drink and was able to drive Jimmy back to North Adams safely and without incident.

Does anyone else like Jeff for being smart and responsible like that? Whatever his faults, he seems to be the adult in the story if perhaps much too smitten with Jimmy for his own good. But who among us hasn’t been there and done that?

In any event, once back in North Adams Jimmy had Jeff drive to a special place where he used to bring his girlfriends. That seemed to make Jeff nervous given their past history together, but nothing happened. Instead, Jimmy invited Jeff to meet at their special place in the woods behind the lake the following evening to smoke some weed.

That’s where the story picks up this evening; not in the woods, but with Jimmy back home in bed. Although Chapter 6 isn’t as long as some, it is a bit more, uh, stimulating, as I said. Be sure to darken the lights and turn off any distractions before taking it on over at The Annex.

And, as always, have fun reading … or whatever :-)

Chapter 5 …

Hmm ... I wonder what's on his leg

In last week’s chapter our story shifted forward to August, 1974, where we caught up with Jimmy Barnes three years after his best summer ever, the summer of 1971. Not surprisingly, a lot has happened in the interim.

For one thing, Jimmy has finished high school and is now working full-time for minimum wage at the local McDonald’s. To put things in perspective, the minimum wage Jimmy is earning is $2 an hour.

At the time we catch up with him, Jimmy is walking home with his best friend, Tommy, who will be leaving town soon to study journalism at the University of Massachusetts. While Jimmy is happy for Tommy, he’s also concerned he’ll end up alone in a small, boring, town for the rest of his life.

Concerned about his future, Jimmy and Tommy discuss several possible career choices Jimmy might be able to pursue. But none of them are appealing to Jimmy for one reason or another.

We also learned Jimmy had become involved with several girls during his high school years. However, the relationships have apparently never quite worked out to Jimmy’s satisfaction, leaving him sexually frustrated as well. By the time we catch up to him in August, 1974, Jimmy has been without a girlfriend since just before the previous Christmas.

Faced with the prospect of spending his life in a dead-end job in a small, boring, town and barely able to support himself, Jimmy has apparently been trying to cope with life by spending his weekends drinking beer across the border in New York state, where the drinking age is lower, and by smoking pot.

He tries to persuade Tommy to go over to New York with him that evening, but Tommy has a date and the two part. Just before they do, however, Tommy tells Jimmy that Jeff Landry is back in town managing the campaign of the Democrat running for Congress that year. If you’re a Democrat, 1974 is a good year to be running for office with the Nixon Presidency collapsing.

Unable to afford his own apartment or a car, Jimmy finally arrives home where he takes a shower and then makes a halfhearted and unsuccessful effort to get his father to let him borrow the family car for the evening. Shot down, Jimmy steps outside and tries to focus on what he can do on a Friday night in a small, boring, town without a car to get around.

That’s where Chapter 5, which I’ve now posted over at The Annex, picks up tonight. Have fun reading.

Chapter 4 …

Let's hope he's wearing sunscreen ...

Last week’s chapter found Jimmy obsessed with figuring out whether Jeff was a homo. Eventually he learned the answer to that question; and then, to his surprise and delight, he was able to persuade Jeff to do what he had only been fantasizing about up until then.

Chapter 3 marked the end of Part I of our story. I could have written at least several more chapters for Part I that would have allowed me to develop some of the other characters in the story much better.

In particular, I could have had a lot more to say about Jeff and Kevin as well as the reasons they dislike one another. I could have also had more to say about Jimmy and Tommy’s friendship and how that factored into what happened in Part I.

And, of course, I could have also written a lot more about what happened between Jimmy and Jeff that summer after that initial incident in the school. In the end, however, I felt that would be gratuitous. As it was, it was hard enough to write as much as I did.

I did try to write that last chapter carefully, but even now I’m not entirely satisfied with it. One reader has already suggested Jimmy comes across as much more sophisticated in the art of seduction than I wanted to portray him.

And I’m still not satisfied I got Jimmy’s reaction to what happened in the teacher’s lounge exactly right. I wanted to portray Jimmy’s excitement about what happened without actually portraying what happened. But Jimmy wasn’t equally excited about everything that happened and I’m not sure I captured that very well.

Like they say, it is what it is and everyone will have to decide for themselves whether the chapter succeeded or failed. Whatever the case may be, it wasn’t because I wasn’t aware of how sensitive the subject matter was. A better writer would have written it better, but I felt it had to be written for the story as a whole to work.

You can decide for yourself whether that’s the case once we reach the end of the story many months down the road. For now, we turn to Part II. If Part I left you unhappy, you should probably stop reading now.

Part II takes place late in 1974 and early 1975. Jimmy has just turned eighteen and recently graduated from high school. We’ll learn a bit about his high school years and what’s become of Jimmy; and then we’ll follow what happens to him over the course of the next several months.

Chapter 4 is up at The Annex and I hope you enjoy it. Please be aware, however, that I may have to abandon or close down my WordPress sites very soon. I’m having major problems uploading files to the sites and have had to spend hours finding temporary fixes this past week.

I don’t know what the problem is exactly and it was only after spending far too much time and energy that I was able to get the pdf version of this chapter uploaded tonight. However, the solution I used is not a viable one for the long term.

As I said, unless things change, I’m probably going to throw in the towel. I simply cannot afford to invest any more time and effort in managing these sites than I already do. I spend far too much time already and it simply isn’t worth the hassle anymore.

I apologize for any inconvenience if that happens.

Legislative Assassins …

The GOP's top two legislative assassins ...

Talk about a remarkable week in the U.S. Congress. In case you missed it, here are just a few of the highlights of still another remarkably unproductive week on Capitol Hill:

  • On Wednesday House Democrats brought that chamber to a halt by sitting in on the House floor and demanding a vote on legislation to prohibit terrorists from being able to purchase guns. The GOP turned off the cameras and microphones and tried to ignore them, but that didn’t work. They were calling too much attention to the senseless gun violence Americans are forced to endure because of legislative inaction. So early Thursday morning, when most Americans were asleep, GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan adjourned the House until after July 4th. That was sooner than Ryan had planned, but always a useful way of silencing critics. You can read more about all of this here.
  • Also on Wednesday Republicans on the powerful House Appropriations Committee rejected an amendment to limit the sale of firearms to terrorist suspects. The GOP argued that would violate the due process rights of suspected terrorists and deprive them of their second amendment right to keep and bear arms. Read more about that here. But if you think this had anything to do with preserving your constitutional freedoms, read on.
  • In the Senate, a Republican proposal sponsored by GOP Senators John McCain and Richard Burr that would have allowed the FBI to gain access to people’s browsing histories and email metadata by broadening the scope of administrative subpoenas known as National Security Letters (NSL) was narrowly rejected for the time being. The measure, which would have also allowed warrantless access to phone logs and cell-site data used to pinpoint locations, is expected to be resurrected in the near future given how close the vote was. For Republicans, apparently, your fourth amendment rights are far less important than the second amendment rights of suspected terrorists. Read more about the McCain proposal here and here.
  • All of this came after Senate Republicans voted down efforts on Monday to prevent those on terrorist watch lists from gaining access to guns. They tried to turn the issue into one about due process, a lie quickly revealed by their support for the McCain amendment discussed above. You can read more about this here.
  • Finally, to cap another productive week on Capitol Hill, GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell crafted a test vote on a much narrower gun proposal, one sponsored by GOP Senator Susan Collins of Maine. That proposal would have only affected 109,000 people, 2700 of whom would have been Americans. These are people who are on two lists: the no-fly list, which prevents them from boarding commercial planes flying to, from or over the United States; and a so-called “selectee list,” which mandates they receive extra scrutiny at airports before flying.. But even that was too much for Senate Republicans who managed to derail the Collins proposal. You can read about that here.

What can we deduce from all of this?

One thing that should be obvious by now is that most Republicans have no interest at all in passing any kind of common sense gun legislation, Yes, some Republicans are supportive and some Democrats are in bed with the NRA. But the inability to get anything done can be traced to the overwhelming majority of Republicans who prefer doing nothing about gun massacres than doing anything, however modest, that the NRA and gun manufacturers oppose.

The other lesson that can be drawn from all of this is that House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are accomplished legislative killers. They know how to kill anything that would actually do something to end gun violence in America and they proved that time and again this week. The two are indeed GOP hit men determined to use their power to prevent common sense gun legislation from ever passing.

Some call them legislative leaders. I prefer to think of them as legislative assassins. Ryan in particular has fawning admirers in media circles who keep looking for the quintessential thoughtful Republican, one who actually has ideas.

But where is the Ryan plan to end gun violence in America? He doesn’t have one because neither he nor McConnell want one. They just want to stall and delay until public outrage blows over. They just want to avoid difficult votes that their GOP colleagues would have to explain back home.

They just want to prevent anything from ever getting done. Neither Ryan nor McConnell are thoughtful and they’re certainly no friends to ordinary Americans who are tired of seeing their children and loved ones gunned down by madmen.

Ryan and McConnell have blood on their hands and they rightly deserve your contempt for the legislative hit men they are.