Georgia On My Mind

Georgia was my girl, she was my love. Georgia was taken from me. She is not of this earth anymore. Georgia awaits me in heaven.

Georgia was taken from me last spring as she crossed a street. She was killed by a drunk driver. Winter is now coming on and the murderer has still not faced justice. He has money and a very good lawyer. His trial has been postponed repeatedly.

He may have money and a good lawyer, but I have my granddaddy’s Colt .45. I have decided to be judge, jury, and executioner. I have waited long enough for justice.

He goes out to the clubs every night. He does not drive now. He has a Cuban drive him in his big fancy car; the same car that took my Georgia.

It will be tonight.

As I wait in the alley for the murderer to emerge from the newest, hottest club on Miami Beach, I think of Georgia.

My Georgia was only nineteen when we met. She was in Miami visiting a friend, and the friend suggested that she see Fort Lauderdale before she went home. I was at the bar in The Elbow Room, sitting on my usual stool, when they walked in. I don’t believe in love at first sight, but that night I had my doubts.

I sat there and looked on as a few guys hit on Georgia and her friend. They all walked away empty-handed. Normally, I wouldn’t have made a move, but something drew me to Georgia. She was full of life. If I could see someone’s aura, I’m sure hers would have been a light blue. A loving and pure soul was she.

To make a long and loving story shorter, I sweet-talked her phone number out of her. At that point, all I wanted was to get laid. But that was before I fell in love with my Georgia.

I called the next day. We went sailing on my boat. I told her to bring her friend along so that she would feel safe. The three of us sailed the bay and then ate a picnic lunch on Elliot Key. As we sailed back, the sun was setting into a fiery western sky .

We hit Dinner Key just as it got full dark. By then I was in love.

My home base is Fort Lauderdale—about two hours up the Intercoastal Waterway.

I asked Georgia to sail up there with me and I would send her back to Miami in a cab. To my great surprise, she said yes. Her friend left us and I cast off from the dock.

Two hours later, in a cove off Dania Beach, we anchored and made love. The sweetest most loving love I have ever known. From that moment on, she was My Georgia.

She flew home, settled matters and came back to me. We had two years of love and life before she was taken from me. In that time, I learned how to love another human being. I learned of tenderness. I learned of love. And because of what was done to My Georgia, I will kill a man tonight.

It’s coming up on 2:00 a.m., about the time the killer heads for home with his conquest of the night.

I see them now, the three of them—the murderer, a girl, and the Cuban.

My quarry has his arm around the tall, skinny girl. She sways on her high heels. She wears a silver dress that reflects the pink and yellow neon lights of the bars they pass. He weaves as he walks. I hope and pray that he is not too drunk. I want him to know why he is going to die.

I step out of the shadows to block their path. I stand before them and tell the girl to hit the road. She hesitates, but when I raise the gun, she finds someplace else to be.  I then turn to the Cuban. “This ain’t your fight.”

He also hesitates. So I explain it to him, “In one minute, your boss will be dead. Do you want a piece of what is about to go down?” I reckon he didn’t because he shrugged and walked away.

Now it is just me and the murderer.

“This is for Georgia,” I say as I put a bullet into his shocked face. His blood and brains splatter onto the wall behind him. So simple to take a life. So very simple. I did it with a gun … he did it with a car.

I thought I would feel better killing the son-of-a-bitch. But you know what? It does not feel good to kill another human being … although I am glad I did it.

Now I’m waiting for the cops. I hear the sirens nearing. But I am not worried; I will not be here when they arrive.

With the barrel of the gun in my mouth, I think of My Georgia and tell her that I am on my way.

When I see the first cop car approach, I slowly squeeze the trigger.

How I Met Terry

NOTE: This is an edited excerpt of a much longer story. This was the beginning of a five year stretch that took my life, turned it upside down and made of me a completely different human being than I was before I met Terry. I was once so young and innocent. As all the tales of my youth, this one is also true. Regrettably. 

It was a few days before Christmas. I don’t recall the exact year, but I was about twenty-seven and I was at one of my accounts, a “head shop” … you know, where “drug” paraphernalia was sold. The shop was on the beach, so I left Henry in the car; the passing parade of beauties was enough to keep him occupied.

I hadn’t been through the door for more than a second before I fell in love. There she was, looking into a display case of hash pipes. Red hair, petite, a figure a woman half her age would kill for. She was fortyish, but to me she was the sexiest woman I had ever seen.

Prior to meeting Henry, I was shy around women. But, after spending two years hanging around with him, I had finally learned how to speak to the opposite sex. Now that I knew the ropes, I walked right up to her, gave her the killer smile that never failed and said, “Howdy, may I help you?” I figured if she thought I worked there, she’d be more likely to talk to me.

She told me she was looking for a hash pipe for her son, for a Christmas present. Well, to make a long, embarrassing story short, I came on to her with everything I had. But she wouldn’t give me the time of day. As far as I got was to learn her name and where she worked.

I remember walking outside, getting into my car, and just sitting there. I said nothing to Henry; I just stared at the door of the shop, waiting for her to come out. Henry looked at me and said, “What’s happening? Let’s blow this pop stand.”

“I can’t, I’m in love.”

She came out of the shop, gave me a half-smile, and turned her back on me.

I’ll tell you what I didn’t know at the time. Her name was Terry; she had just gotten out of prison. She had done five years of an eleven-year rap. She had been a member of the infamous “Murph the Surf” gang, named after Jack Murphy, the leader. Jack got all the press; they even made a movie about him. But there were two leaders of that gang. The other was Bobby Greenwood, Terry’s old man. You older folks might remember the “Star of India” heist from the American Museum of Natural History. It was one of the biggest jewel thefts in history. Well, my little love was in on that. The gang all got light sentences because everyone loves a jewel thief.

However, the main reason she would have nothing to do with me was the fact she had a sugar daddy paying her bills. She had three kids from three different men, and I guess it can get scary out there, especially if you’re on parole and all alone in the world. But I didn’t know any of this at the time. All I knew was that I had the hots for a woman that wouldn’t give me the time of day.

I’ll spare you the details on how I won Terry’s heart and got her to throw over the sugar daddy in favor of me.

All right, now we can get down to the nitty gritty. Terry and I got hot and heavy, and eventually I got to know “associates” of hers from the old days. These were second-tier members of the gang. At the time all the shit went down, they were young. But when I met them, they were Terry’s age and just getting out of prison.

Back at that time, almost everyone was smuggling marijuana into South Florida, even the “good old boys” on the west coast, shrimpers, fishermen, and the like. They referred to the bales of pot as “square grouper.” That’s where Sonny, an old friend of Terry’s, was based out of; he had done eight of a twenty-year sentence. So, Sonny and the other guys fell right into the smuggling thing. They were bringing pot in every week. They had a squadron of boats that would go out and pick the stuff up from the Bahamas. They were making money hand over fist with nowhere to put it. That’s where I came in. They thought my business was just the place to invest some of their ill-gotten gains.

Now I’ve got these wise guys as partners. And I have to admit; as far as partners went, they weren’t so bad. Every Saturday, another briefcase of cash was flung onto my desk. It got so I told them enough already. I remember one Saturday I had stayed on my boat because I was trying to avoid that week’s stipend. Well, ol’ Butch tracks me down and says, “What’s the matter with me? Why won’t you take my money?”

I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so I said, “Okay, Butch, just this one time.”

And with that, he tosses me a brown paper bag and says, “Here’s fifty large ($50,000.00). Thanks for taking it.”

“Don’t worry about it, Butch. Maybe you can do me a favor someday.”

I may have given you the wrong impression about the timeline. It wasn’t until two years into my relationship with Terry that I got to know “the boys.” By then, Terry was living in Los Angeles. I had opened an office out there and rented an apartment. Once there, Terry went Hollywood on me and refused to come back to Miami. She was having a ball; she had hooked up with an old girlfriend, a “fence.” You know, someone who buys stolen goods. Her name was Irene and she once sold me a diamond ring I wanted for Terry, three carats. Got it for $1,000.00! One time, Terry and I were fighting and she took the ring off and threw it at me. I picked it up, put it in my pocket and said thank you. You should have seen the look on her face. Well, being the sport that I am, I gave it back to her. Needless to say, it never left her finger again.

Then things got kinda interesting. But that’s a story for another day.

 

Three Steps

I’m three steps from meeting my maker. Three more steps to the noose. I am ready to die; I reckon I deserve to die. I have killed before, but never for such a frivolous reason as brings me to these last three steps.

The whole mess started down El Paso way when I walked into that little cantina. It was a bucket of blood, a real dive. But I had a thirst to slack and it was the first saloon I saw as I rode into town. Once inside, it took my eyes a moment to adjust to the gloom. When I could see again, I saw a bar against the far wall. Two men were leaning against it, staring into their drinks. A few tables were scattered around the room—all empty. It was mid-day, so that was no surprise.

I made my way to the bar and put my foot on the brass rail. The barman was a little slow in coming my way. I had just rode twenty-five miles and the dust was thick in my throat. I had no patience for a slow-movin’ barkeep. When he was opposite me, I grabbed his shirt and pulled his face to mine. Looking him dead in the eye, I said, “Give me your finest rotgut and if you dilly-dally, I’ll put a bullet in your leg.” As I said it, I drew my .45 from its leather. His eyes widened and he reached under the bar and came up with an almost full bottle of some good stuff. “Here, mister, it’s on the house,” he stuttered.

With that taken care of, I picked up the bottle and, leaving the glass where it was, took a good pull. I had ridden my horse almost to death. I had to move fast, they were on my trail. Yes, I had killed two men, but they were trying to kill me. I finally lost the posse in the badlands. Now I’m only a few miles from Mexico and freedom. But as it turned out, I might as well have been a million miles from the border.

I don’t know what she was doing coming into that hellhole of a bar, but when I saw her, my plans flew out the window. She pushed through the swing doors as though she owned the place. And, in a way, she did. She was tall and blonde. Her figure had more curves than a coiled rattler. Her hair was up—her smile could kill. Her eyes were gray and they looked my way.

She strolled right up and in a voice that would have made strong men weep, she said, “Ain’t you the big one.”

Without a word, I took the empty glass from the bar and poured some of the amber liquid into it. She took the proffered glass and said, “My name is Rose and I like a man who will buy a girl a drink.”

When we had worked the bottle down to half empty, she told me to grab it and took me by the hand. She led me to the stairs and we ascended to the second floor, to a door at the far end of the hall. “This is where I call home,” she purred. By now I had forgotten about the twenty-five dust-coated miles, the posse, the killings—everything.

Once in the room with the door locked, she pointed to a table and said, “You’ll find some glasses over there. Pour us a shot.” I found the glasses, blew the dust out of ’em, and did as I was told. When I turned back around, she was sitting on the bed. Patting the mattress, she beckoned softly. “Come and sit by me.”

Well, partners, that was all she wrote. For the next three days, we barely left that room. We had our hooch and food sent up. I had never known a woman like her. I’d mostly only been with whores, but she was no whore. She told me that she loved me. We spent three days exploring every inch of each other’s bodies, and I fell in love for the first time in my life.

It was on the morning of the fourth day that my head started to clear. We were lying in bed. I was on my back and she was propped up on one elbow, running her finger down my chest when she said she wanted to go to Mexico with me. I told her that was fine by me, but there was no rush. That’s when she got a funny look on her face and exclaimed, “No, we have to leave today!” Before I could say anything else, there was a knock on the door. I got out of bed and slipped on my pants. I knew who it was; it was the little Mex boy who had been bringing us our food and booze. I usually took the tray at the door and handed him a dollar. But this time was different. He beckoned me out into the hall and asked that I shut the door. When it was closed behind me, he whispered, “Señor, you have been good to me, so I must tell you that you are in great danger.”

I took the tray from his hands and said, “Don’t worry, son. This is the kind of danger I like,” and winked at him.

I started to turn, but he grabbed my arm. “You do not understand. She belongs to another man, a bad man. She has done this before and three men have died. Her man will be back tomorrow, so today she will ask you to leave and take her with you. If you are here tomorrow, José will kill you.”

I put the tray on the floor and asked the boy to tell me all that he knew. He told me people were making bets with each other if I’d get away before José got back or if I’d be planted up on the hill with the other three. It seemed Rose, my great love, was using me to get away from José. In this country, a woman can’t travel alone. And besides, as the boy told me, José leaves her with no money when he goes away.

The news kinda punched me in the gut. I gave the boy a five-dollar gold piece and thanked him. Picking up the tray, I entered the room with a smile on my face.

“Where have you been? I missed you, big boy.”

Still smiling, I placed the tray on the bed. “You chow down. I’m gonna have me a drink.”

I had me some thinking to do.

As I sat in the chair and watched her eat, I weighed my options. We could leave together and avoid this man José, or I could leave alone. Or, we could stay and could have it out with José. The problem was I didn’t know if she was worth it. She had played me. If I took her with me, would she ditch me once we were in Mexico?

I was still thinking on those thoughts when she broke my reverie by saying, “I want to be out of here by noon. I’m going to take a bath; you pack and then settle our bill. I’ll meet you at the livery stable.”

Still smiling, I said, “I’ll see you at the livery.” She gathered up some clothes, got herself dressed, and left to take her bath.

When she had gone, I sat there in thought and added another option to the other three. I could just kill the lying bitch and be done with her.

I put on my shirt and boots, strapped on my .45, and went downstairs still undecided. By the time I reached the livery, I had decided that I’d leave without her. She was a fine-looking woman and the sex was good, but I had enough trouble in my life without no crazy man coming after me. I saddled my pinto and started down the street at a slow pace. As I passed the saloon, Rose pushed through the swing doors and saw me. She dropped her bags and ran up, grabbed ahold of the saddle horn, and walked alongside. Looking up at me, she implored, “Where you going? Wait! I’ll get my horse.”

“I’m sorry. It was nice, but this here is where we go down our separate trails.”

She wouldn’t let go, so I picked up the pace a mite. She still hung on. Then I saw her look down the street and the look on her face said it all. She let go and hightailed it back to the saloon.

Astride a sorrel rode a big man … a big, mean-looking man. It had to be José. As we came abreast of each other, he grabbed the reins of my horse. There we stood, eye to eye, neither one of us speaking. Finally he said in a very deep voice, “Whatcha doin’ with my woman?”

“Nothing, just tryin’ to get outta town,” I answered.

I saw it in his eyes; he was going to draw on me. I may be slow when it comes to women, but I’m fast when it comes to gun play. I had a bullet through his forehead before he cleared leather. That was my mistake, that and taking up with Rose. I should have let him draw first. The whole thing was seen by the town marshal and I was quickly arrested. I thought for a moment of killing the marshal before he arrested me, but I never did kill no man that was not trying to kill me.

For three days, I knew of love. In three steps, I die.

She Was Born

She was born a free spirit.

She was the most beautiful woman in all the world.

Her name was Maria.

She touched me . . . she loved me.

I was not worthy of her love.

But she loved me nonetheless.

Then one dark night she was taken from me.

It’s now early morning.

I awake because of the sound.

The scream.

The horror.

But dreams can fool you.

I am alone.

It was I who found her body.

Her dead eyes looked into mine, but she did not see me.

I beheld her broken body, but it was not the woman I had loved.

Her essence had fled to another part of the universe … to another realm

I retrieve my gun and go in search of the man who had killed her.

He’s where I knew him to be.

I raise the gun and stick the barrel into his ear.

His brains spray out.

His blood forms a red mist that floats in the air … for a brief moment.

He’s gone.

Good … very good.

But his death does not bring back my Maria.

Now I will join her.

The gun barrel feels right in my mouth.

I pull back the hammer.

My hand is on the trigger.

My mind is on Maria,

I squeeze the trigger.

I am no more … until my essence is reborn.

Maria will find me.

Love is like that.

I Once Had a Girl

I once had a girl. She was from Norway, but we met in New York City at a jazz club on the Upper West Side. My friend Lane had dragged me there; telling me that I would really dig the sax player. I didn’t want to go because I was broke and I was embarrassed that Lane was always picking up the check when we when out. But he persisted, so I went with him that warm August night. It was a night that changed my life forever.

Lane and I were from upstate New York, we had been friends since high school. We were both going to be writers and write the Great American Novel. And here we were, a few years later. Lane wrote copy for an ad agency and I wrote short stories that no one would buy.

I was twenty years old and had just dropped out of college. I wanted to be a writer and I did not think college was the way to go about it. I thought the only way to be a writer was to write. So I headed for the big city, found myself a roach-infested apartment, and opened my laptop. I got lucky and sold my first short story to a weekly newspaper. It was a free paper, but they did print fiction. They paid me all of twenty-five dollars for it.

After that, I figured it would be only a matter of time before I had The New Yorker knocking at my door wanting me to write my genius fiction for them, and if not The New Yorker, then at least The Village Voice. Well, things did not work out that way. Six months later, I had not sold another story. The newspaper that had bought my first story was long out of business as I contemplated my future. I was nearing the end of my savings and something would have to break soon or I would have to get a job.

Something did break, but not in the way I thought it would.

Unbeknownst to me, Lane and his girlfriend, Sally, set me up with a blind date. When we got to the club, I saw Sally sitting at a table with a blonde. I immediately grabbed Lane’s arm and halted his progress toward the table. “What’s the deal?” I asked in a low voice. Then added, “If Sally is trying to set me up again, I’m leaving. You know I don’t have any money to date.”

With a phony and shocked look on his face, Lane said, “No, no, it’s nothing like that. It’s just that the poor girl is in town and doesn’t know anyone. Sally’s mother and her mother were friends. Sally’s looking out after her, that’s all. Don’t worry; she’s not your date. And she’s got plenty of money; she can pay her own way.”

With a sigh and a shake of my head, I said, “Lay on, Macduff.”

We seated ourselves at the table and I was introduced to the blonde. Sally started right off yakking away, but I heard nothing she said. I was looking into the eyes of the blonde. They were green, the color of emeralds—they were sad eyes. She was good-looking in a not-glamorous sort of way, but there was something about her. Something that made me want to put my arms around her and tell her everything would be all right. That night I fell in love … head over heels. To me, she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. But she looked vulnerable, and she had those big sad eyes. Her name was Karina.

We talked and ignored both the music and Lane and Sally. When Sally saw where things were going, she nudged Lane and said they had to go, but that we should stay. As they left, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lane hand some money to our waitress and point our way. He had made sure that I would not be embarrassed for lack of funds.

The music was really too loud to carry on a conversation, so I suggested that we go somewhere more conducive to getting to know one another. I had no hope that she felt toward me as I felt toward her, but I just couldn’t let her go out of my life until I knew everything about her.

We settled in at a Starbucks and talked until the early morning. Her parents were both dead and had left her relatively well off. She was in the States because she owned a cabin in North Carolina, up in the mountains, and she had come here to sell it. At twenty-two, she was two years older than I was. But that was okay with me; I liked older women. I prattled on about my writing and she said that she would like to read some of my stuff someday. Someday? I wanted her to read my stories right then and there. But I held my tongue.

As I walked her to her hotel, she slipped her arm through mine and we walked on in silence. My feet never once touched the ground.

We said goodnight in the lobby. She looked at me with those big, sad eyes. “Please, may I see you tomorrow and read some of your stories?” Normally, I would let anyone read my stuff at the drop of a hat, even if I had to drop the hat myself. But in this instance, I was reluctant to say yes. I didn’t want her to see how I lived. I mean, she was staying at the Plaza, for God’s sake! After a momentary hesitation, I told her I could bring my laptop over the next day and would be proud to have her read a few of my stories. She would have to read them off my computer because I did not own a printer. We set a time and I left. We shook hands—we did not kiss goodnight.

Well, the short of it is, she was as smitten with me as I was with her. Why, I don’t know. She postponed her trip south and stayed in the city. We saw each other every day. Sally must have told her about my financial situation, because Karina always insisted we go someplace that cost no money. We hit the art galleries and the museums, among other venues. Central Park was our favorite. As we walked through the park, the sunshine dappled on the grass and would ripple in her yellow hair like waves upon a sparkling ocean. At the end of two weeks, we both knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.

Karina liked my writing and told me I should be writing a full-length novel. Then, when that sold, I could put out a book of my short stories. No wonder I loved her, she believed in me more so than I believed in myself.

One day, as we lay on a blanket in the park holding hands (we still had not made love), Karina asserted herself. She told me in no uncertain terms that she was taking me to her cabin in North Carolina. She would cook and clean for me while I wrote my novel, and then when it sold, I could take care of her.

She stood and took my hand. I raised myself from the ground and, forgetting the blanket, we hurried back to The Plaza. We made long, slow love all that afternoon—and then again all that night.

We hit the mountains of North Carolina as the leaves were changing. It was the perfect metaphor. Our lives were changing—we were melding into one entity.

As the snows came, I wrote and Karina loved me. Truth be known, I didn’t feel like writing. I just wanted to make love to my girl. But Karina made sure I stayed at the computer at least six hours a day.

As the snows melted and the leaves slowly returned to the trees, my book took form. Karina would read what I had written each day. She would correct my mistakes and give me input as to the characters and  plot. As I sat there in the evenings, seeing the firelight reflected in her eyes while she read my daily output, I fell in love with her all over again.

When spring was in full bloom, the book also bloomed. I had completed my version of the Great American Novel. I emailed my query letters to agents. Within a month, I had a signed contract. When summer came around, the book had been sold to a publisher and I had money in the bank. Now I could take care of my Karina.

It was August once again, almost to the day that Karina and I first met. We were leaving the next day for New York. My agent had set up a meeting with my new editor. There was still work to be done. Writing the story is one thing, getting it out there is another. However, before leaving, I wanted to buy something for my love.

I went into town and bought Karina a ring. Nothing fancy, just a simple band of gold. I was going to ask her to be my wife. I couldn’t wait to get back to the cabin, get down on one knee, and tell her of my love for her.

I saw the smoke long before I turned into the drive to our cabin. Then I saw the flames. I stopped the car and ran to the cabin where I heard her screams. Those screams will never leave me.

“KARINA!” I shouted as I rushed the door.

When I pushed open the door, a blast of heat and flames knocked me on my ass. I got up; nothing short of hell was going to keep me out of that cabin. And that is exactly what kept me out . . . hell. I could not penetrate the flames. On my third attempt, the burns and resultant pain caused me to pass out. When I awoke, I was in a hospital’s burn ward.

Karina was gone and I was alone.

I sold the rights to my book to my agent. I couldn’t edit and work on it with anyone else now that Karina was gone. I took the money and bought a sailboat down in Miami. I had Karina painted on the sides in large letters the color of her eyes. I now sail the Caribbean, going from island to island, looking for nothing … and finding nothing. I’m certainly not finding relief for the pain in my heart.

I once had a girl. Karina was her name.

Got Love

DeadMy name is Tommy and I have something to say. I’m twenty-one, and I’m in love for the very first time in my life. I want to tell you about it. I want to tell the world about it!

My parents were killed in an automobile accident when I was five. Having no other family, I was placed in foster care. I went through many families. Some cared and some did not. Some were in it for the money, some thought they were doing good, but they all had one thing in common. Not one of them ever made me feel loved.

Two weeks before my eighteenth birthday, I walked away from my last foster family. They weren’t so bad, but still there was no love. I put out my thumb. I was heading for Montana. Maybe I could get a job on a ranch and become a modern-day cowboy.

Outside of Kansas City, Kansas, with the sun sinking fast and turning the western sky a rich pink, I contemplated God. At least He got His sunsets and sunrises right. But He still has some work to do as far as I’m concerned, were my thoughts as I waited for my next ride.

A lemon-yellow, 1973 Ford Thunderbird screeched to a halt. I opened the door and the driver said, “I’m heading to San Francisco, that do you any good?” I nodded and climbed in.

The driver introduced himself as Bryant. He was a few years older than I was. He said that he made his living working with computers. Within minutes of being picked up, the sun fell below the horizon and the stars were starting to make their nightly appearance. We did not speak as we sped across the prairie. Well, not at first, but then Bryant started a conversation that lasted until we hit Colorado. We talked about everything under the sun: Religion, politics, women, sports, death and taxes. By the time we hit the state line, I had decided to continue on with Bryant all the way to San Francisco. Forget Montana!

We hit Boulder well after midnight. He pulled into the parking lot of a cheap motel and said, “I’m getting a room and you are welcome to share it. If not, I’ll be leaving at first light. If  see you on the road, I’ll pick you up.”

Halfway out of the car, he stopped and sat back down. “How stupid of me. You must be hungry. Let’s rustle us up some food, then you can do what you want.”

He was right, I was hungry. I had not eaten all day. We found a diner still open and ordered a couple of hamburgers.

Now this next part is kind of dicey … kind of private, but it is germane to the story, so here goes. At school, and in my life, I had never been attracted to girls. They were just there, part of the landscape. I was never aroused by a well-rounded ass in tight jeans. Tits did nothing for me; a smile from a pretty girl did not start my heart a-racing. However, at gym class and in the showers, I found myself thinking that the male body was so much more beautiful than a female’s. But I did not dwell on it. I wasn’t no fucking faggot!

After we had our greasy hamburgers and fries, we went back to the motel and Bryant got himself a room. As I was getting my bag out of his car, he said, “Up to you, kid. You want to sleep outside or inside?”

I chose inside.

There was only one bed, so I figured I’d sleep on the floor.

After the lights were out, Bryant said, “There is plenty of room over here. If you want, we can share the bed.”

I wanted to share the bed with him. I was attracted to him, but I was no faggot. Or was I?

I got myself up, slid beneath the covers, and felt his warm body. He did not make a move toward me. He did not touch me. I found myself getting hard, and I reached out and touched his face. He took my face in his hands and drew me to him. We kissed; it was my first kiss ever. His tongue probed—he was gentle.

Today, I am with the most loving man in the world. Bryant does his computer thing and I take care of the house.

I give love.

I get love.

I got love.

Amen.

 

Ellen’s Long Shot

ellen

Here’s a story from my youth. I’m proud of this story. Not because of my sexual prowess. I’m proud of it because I finally did something right. I did something right with the help of a higher power. It wasn’t the first or the last time I did something right, but they’ve been so far and in between, this one kinda stands out in my mind. This is a true story.

******

Ellen Long was beautiful. Ellen Long was hip. Ellen Long was my lover, and Ellen Long could sure get herself into big trouble for such a little girl.

I do not remember how I came to know Ellen Long, but I do remember it was shortly after our first meeting that we were in bed devouring each other’s bodies. For a couple of wonderful months, we ran together and made love together. And, I must admit, I was smitten. Although, once I got to know her a little better, it was obvious that it was not going to be a long-term relationship. I took my cues from Ellen Long and decided to enjoy her while I could.

To give you an example of her way of thinking—which was very progressive—two days after a weekend in which we locked ourselves on my boat and did nothing but drink and make love, she called me to say she was having trouble recuperating from the intensity of our weekend sexual adventures. She went on to inform me that she had told her sister the salacious details and, seeing as how she was going to be out of commission for a few days, would it be alright if her sister came over that night. It seems the sister wanted to find out what all the fuss was about; well, that was the first of five women Ellen Long sent my way.

With that sort of attitude, it’s no wonder the relationship lasted only two months. However, once the sex stopped, we remained close. We had no choice. I drank at whatever bar she was working. At least I was assured of a decent drink.

Every time Ellen Long had a new lover, I heard about it in great detail. There was the time she told me of the guy who was flying her to England. My only comment: “Make sure you get a round trip ticket.” Wouldn’t you know it? She calls me a week later and says, “I’m stuck in London, can you send me an airline ticket?” I make sure there’s one at the airline counter within the hour. I didn’t hear from her after that for about a month. No phone call to say I’m back. No call of thanks … nothing.

I finally ran into her at a bar we both frequented and the first thing out of her mouth was the fact she had a new love. She went on and on, telling me of his great beauty, his gorgeous skin, etc. After a few minutes of that, I started calling him “Pretty Boy” to myself. At that point, I had had enough of her crazy loves, so I feigned business elsewhere and excused myself. I should not have been so hasty. If I had waited around and met Pretty Boy, I might have averted the defining moment in Ellen Long’s and my relationship.

Fast-forward two weeks.

The loud, incessant ringing of the telephone brought me out of a sound sleep. I looked at the clock next to the bed … 4:07 a.m. I put the receiver to my ear and I heard, “He’s going to kill me; he just tried to throw me off a roof!” It was 1978, a time long before cell phones, and the person on the other end of the line was Ellen Long. In a whispering voice, her words came tumbling out of the receiver so fast, it was hard to grasp what she was saying. Eventually, she slowed down enough so I could understand her.

She told me she had been riding in Pretty Boy’s car, and he had become enraged when she told him she did not want to see him anymore. He drove into the parking area of an apartment complex, pulled her from the car, and dragged her up the stairs and onto the roof of one of the buildings.

Ellen Long was a bartender; she’d had plenty of experience dealing with drunks, so she thought she could handle this nut. It wasn’t until he tried to throw her off the roof that the seriousness of the situation struck her, and her training in dealing with angry people kicked in. She somehow convinced him that everything would be all right. And if he would allow her to first find a bathroom, she would then go wherever he wished.

On the way down from the roof, the first door she knocked on was answered—as luck would have it—by a nice, little old lady who had no problem letting two strangers into her apartment at 4:00 o’clock in the morning. Really! But it was 1978 after all.

Once inside the apartment, Ellen could not tell of her predicament without putting the nice, little old lady in danger. By then the nut was mollified enough to allow Ellen to leave his sight, though he stood guard at the door as she went to the back of the apartment where the bathroom was located.

Instead of going into the bathroom, she slipped into the bedroom, picked up the phone, and called me. She didn’t have the exact address, but gave me the intersection of two streets and asked me to come to her rescue. By then I was halfway out the door, the length of the telephone cord the only thing keeping me from being all the way out the door.

As I got behind the steering wheel of my car, a voice in my head said, “She gave you the wrong location. The place she gave is miles from where she is. She is on the opposite side of the island” (Miami Beach). I then had a mental vision of her location.

Starting the car, I decided not to go where Ellen Long told me to go. Instead, I went in the opposite direction. When I got to the place I believed her to be, I saw Ellen and Pretty Boy standing alone in the parking lot of the apartment complex. She expected me—he did not.

She calmly walked up to the car and said, “Hello,” like we were meeting accidentally in the middle of the day, and not the early hours of the morning. She then introduced her “friend,” and while his attention was momentarily diverted in my direction, she ran around to the other side of the car, dove through the open window into the passenger seat, and yelled, “Get the fuck outta here!”

It took Pretty Boy half a second longer than I to realize what was happening, and that half of a second was all we needed to effect our getaway. The only thing he could do at that point was grab onto the side-view mirror and scream incoherent fulminations as loud as he could. Though slight of stature, he was so enraged, he had the strength to tear the mirror from the car and throw it at us as we sped away.

As I drove her home that morning, she told me I had arrived just in the nick of time. She had stalled him as long as she could and he was about to drag her to his car as I drove up. Just in the nick of time? What would have happened to Ellen if I had not listened to that voice telling me where to go? What would have happened if I had gone to where she had directed me?

After that morning, I never saw Ellen Long again, except once about a year later, for a few minutes, in a real dive of a bar. She was with friends, and we were both genuinely glad when we saw one another. After saying hello, she turned to her friends and said the following: “This is Billy. He saved my life.”

I had finally made an impression on Ellen Long.

Hot Love

She passed him every day. He was young, well built … and he was handsome. Just her type. She had tried everything to attract his attention. She had dressed provocatively, she had loitered, she had even taken a pratfall hoping he would come to her rescue, but some busybody stuck his big nose into her business by helping her up from the sidewalk where she lay waiting for Mr. Right to come to her aid.

In desperation, she came up with a plan. It centered on his profession. She would make some work for him and be there when he arrived. Then let him ignore her!

The plan was daring. A few blocks from where she saw him every day was an abandoned building; she would simply set fire to it and wait for her dream man to come to her.

You see, he was a firefighter. She walked past the firehouse daily, and that is where she saw the love of her life talking to his mates—paying her no mind.

The fire had spread fast and became larger than she had envisioned. But she stayed in place, awaiting her dream man. Finally he came. Now she could show herself at the window.

There he was—just below her—only a few feet away. His arms were reaching out to her and he was telling her to jump.

You bet I’ll jump, big boy—catch me!

In mid-air and halfway to his waiting arms, she thought, There must be an easier way to meet a man.

Fireman

A Day for Dying

My man was killed yesterday—run down by a drunk driver while crossing a street.

Henry was my life. Henry was my everything.

He was a long way from home when he died. He should have been here with me, not out chasing money.

It was me that drove him off. I was always going on about how I wanted this and how I wanted that. Now all I want is my Henry back.

It don’t seem right that I’m here and he ain’t.

I think I’ll go to him.

The mountain ain’t that high. I can be up on top by sunset.

I’m wearin’ my wedding dress. Henry always said how pretty I looked the day we was pledged to one another. How my hair trapped the sunlight, how my eyes laughed, how he became weak in the knees as he stood next to me before the preacher. How much he loved me.

As I climb the mountain, I smile. I’m thinking on my Henry. I’m thinking of the time we was kids and went swimming down at old man Ives’ watering hole. It was the first time Henry ever did kiss me.

The sun’s going down; the clouds are orange and pink with purple ’round the edges.

I’m now up on the ridge.

Henry always said I didn’t have a lick of sense. I reckon I don’t.

I loved you so much, Henry, and I am so sorry for my evil ways.

It’s a long way down, but when I get there, I’ll be with my Henry.

 

 

Bless My Soul

I’m so in love. She is so fine. I don’t give a damn what anyone says. She’s my girl. She’ll always be my girl.

I met her in church. I was on my knees praying for forgiveness. She sat down next to me. Her smile … her eyes … set me free.

My soul was in torment. I was a sinner.

Her name is Ecstasy.

She came to me when I needed her the most.

She raised me from my knees.

She had me stand as a man.

I had done bad things. I was a wretch. But she blessed my soul.

Please, please, I must have a little more time.

Please, please allow me to make amends.

If you knew how I regret my sins.

How my heart yearns to set things right.

But my time has run out.

She points the pistol at me.

Ecstasy says that I must die this night.

So be it.

Bless my soul.