Across the Years
Growing up in the sixties knowing in your heart of hearts you are gay, and lesbian doesn't make for a recipe made in heaven. You have family values to contend with, snide remarks from people you thought were your friends, and top that off with societal values, and well, this does not make the road taken anything but easy. But wait! There is more. Racial prejudice.
You see, David is black, and Ronaldo is Hispanic. Then there is Francine who is white, and Monica who is of Italian heritage. They all went to the same school. At fifteen, they all suffered the same ethnic slurs, and sometimes physical beatings for who and what they knew they were. It wasn't about being different. It was about being an individual with the right to make choices. The beauty in this, they also knew they weren't the only ones to face the insurmountable odds put before them to have the life they knew they were destined for.
But let us fast forward to a better time, a better place. A time where now, David, Renaldo, Francine, and Monica could, finally, do the unthinkable and marry. Thirty years of changes brought them together legally, even if they had been living with one another all this time. It was a time of celebration, joy, tears and the knowing with their faith and belief in each other and themselves, in the end it was worth all the obstacles they lived through.
They were two couples among thousands who celebrated. They were among hundreds of couples who adopted children, whom they raised as any other parent normally would, to allow their children choices of who they wanted to be and become.
Let us fast forward to a somber, if not heart-wrenching moment in time. Sixty-five years have gone by the wayside since this first started. Today, two souls have gone to heaven. Ronaldo and Francine have passed onto another side of life that holds no misgivings. Before the day has passed, with tears of love and remembrance, both David and Monica, alongside their children (mostly grown), walk together and share the times of their lives, both knowing one day they will be reunited.
It is here where we could put this to an end, already suspecting what the outcome will be, but I want to end this with one thing. We are all different in one way or another. But we all want one thing in life. To be accepted for who we are. Straight? Okay. Gay or lesbian? Okay. Bi-sexual or transgender? Okay.
Live your life. Let other people live theirs.
Love in the time of an Arctic Freeze
New York City is frozen.
My heart is not. It beats wildly in my chest, a pinball trapped between two columns, furious and frantic. My face burns against the gray winter air as I walk with Rachel to the 14th St / 8 Ave subway station. At this time of night, it’s quiet in Chelsea. I think about the summer, and how if I had known her, we could have walked the highline and gotten ice cream and stayed up until 1am.
The moon is full and blindingly bright. We’re not close enough for me to even think about reaching for her hand.
“So,” she says sweetly, with a teasing glance over, “when you get into Cooper Union, and become a famous architect, do you promise to build a statue of me right in the middle of the Jackie O rez?”
“Sure.” I laugh. “We can take the duck boats out to see.”
“Uh— yeah, the paddleboats, you know them. What, do they not have them at Central Park?”
“No, they just have rowboats,” she says, and dissolves into giggles. “Where are you from?”
“New Jersey,” I mutter, faux insulted. I nudge her with my shoulder. “Being a Brooklyn native isn’t something to make into your personality.”
“Oh, it totally is, Olivia! My dad’s email was literally brooklynborn.”
We slow our pace. She’s still laughing, blinking rapidly in the wind. “What even are duck boats? You’re not talking about those things in Boston that kill people on the daily, right?”
I roll my eyes. “No, not those. That’s Duck Tours. And they’re exactly how they sound, they’re paddleboats that you sit in and peddle with your feet and you can ride across the pond, but they’re shaped like swans.”
A pause. “Swan boats, then.”
We’ve reached the station. She takes her hands out of her pockets and wipes at her eyes with a groan. “Christ, it is so cold. I dunno how I’m gonna go to my grandparents’ after this. Like, during Hanukkah, it was like… negative eight degrees in Northampton.”
My smile, even as my lips tremble from the cold, is impossibly fond. I look down and hope she didn’t catch my softness. “Well, you could always stay with me.”
“I’m never stepping foot into New Jersey.” She reaches out to gently touch my shoulder. “I gotta go. Good luck with your test, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“See you tomorrow,” I echo, and offer my arm out for a hug. She accepts, quick as a flash, then darts down the stairs.
I shake my head then go back the way I came, heading to catch the 1.
“Wrong number,” said a familiar voice. I slid down the bathroom wall and took a deep breath in. I held it for about 30 seconds before it came out in a scream. Not an angry scream. Nor was it scared, or sad, or even anxious. It was a mix of disappointment and relief. Disappointed it had to end like this, relieved for the same reason. I stood up and walked over to the mirror. A person with something on their mind but no intention to share looked back at me. Copying my movements, mocking me. She looked tired and fed up with her life. She picked up the knife and let the side of the blade glide up and down her forearm. I turned the blade and pressed it in her arm. Not so hard as to inflict a lot of pain, just enough to draw blood. She looked down, I looked down, and saw a stream of blood flow to the counter. I lifted my hand and dropped the knife. I fell to the floor. I started to sob. I screamed, this time with all the emotions missing in the first.
He must have heard me, the bathroom door was suddenly nudged open by a wet nose. He was larger than the life I was so ready to take away. Ernie came over and plopped down next to me; looking at my wound, he started to whine. I leaned into him and he tried to lick away my tears. Ernie started sniffing around and looked down. He stuck his snout on my cut. Sensing that it hurt, he licked it. Boy, did that sting! We just sat there for a while like this, Ernie licking my arm, me giving him neck rubs underneath his collar.
I should probably clean up her mess. I tapped Ernie and we got up. After a short adventure to the kitchen to get paper towels and bleach, I stared blankly in the mirror. I took off my shirt, turned on the tap, and began to scrub everything. My shirt, my arm, the sink, the mirror, the floor; nothing was missed. Nothing needed to remember what she had done. I definitely didn’t. I looked down at Ernie, he cocked his head as if he knew what we both knew. I wouldn’t forget.
I turned off the tap and, pulling out the first aid kit, quickly bandaged up my arm. Ernie sat down and watched me. I’m glad that he found me when he did. I don’t know if I'd be okay if he hadn’t.
I put away the kit with Ernie in tow and sat down on a couch in the living room. Ernie quickly followed suit, laying his head on my lap. I should call her again. Home didn’t feel like home without Maria. Maria was my wife.
Our romance was one you’d expect to see in a cheesy Rom-Com. We were best friends since birth, partners since high school, I became her wife after college on a beautiful May day. I loved her. I’d like to think she loved me. Two years into our marriage, we got Ernie. About a month later we decided we were ready to have a kid. So we went to the sperm bank and I got artificially inseminated. Maria and Ernie were so sweet, neither of them left my side during my pregnancy. When the time came, Maria rushed me to the hospital. There were no signs of anything wrong with our child. We even picked a name for our baby girl, Elizabeth May.
The birth itself was painful but our little May was beautiful and quiet. Our little May wasn’t crying. Our little May wasn’t breathing. Our little May wasn’t alive. Maria never forgave me. A week after we lost our May, it was May and I lost Maria. Mays’ funeral was scheduled for after her mom and I separated. The smallest coffins are the heaviest. The weight was too much for Maria and I to carry, even together. On May’s birthday I made the mistake of calling her.
Ernie and I sat on the couch, him being the only thing stopping me from calling Maria again. As if sensing my wanting to get up, he leaned more into me and looked into my eyes. I stayed.
I awoke earlier than I was used to, to Ernie needing to go outside. He was sitting at the front door, leash in mouth, whining. I reluctantly got up from the couch. Ernie stood with me and started to wag. I smiled at him and he wagged more violently. Once I got to him, Ernie dropped his leash and I hooked the latch onto his collar. We ventured out the door.
Although it was early in the morning, it was still bright and warm. A suburb for young parents was where Ernie and I called home. Ernie did his business. I stretched wide and yawned, accidentally letting go of his leash. A brown blur zoomed in front of me and pranced back with a ball in his mouth. I smiled and crouched to take the ball from him. It took me a second to get the tennis ball from Ernie, but when I finally had it, it didn’t stay in my hand for long. Soon a bright green blur flew in front of me and Ernie followed.
I felt something I hadn’t felt in years. It was a strange feeling, hard to describe. It was a mix of bliss, contentment, joy, peace, and yet, somehow, melancholy. However, I felt if I knew for certain that I would be okay. That everything would be okay.
Ernie sprinted back toward me and gave me the ball without a fight. I threw it again. I overshot a little, the ball rolled to the other side of the street. Ernie, being such a good boy, ran across anyway to get it. I screamed. I didn’t see the car until it was too late.
The noise was horrendous. The screech of the car tires harmonized with Ernie’s cry. The car kept going. I ran to Ernie. He had the ball. So much blood. He wasn’t breathing. He just stared at me. I picked him up and brought him inside. Not worrying about the bloody clothes or tears. There were no tears. There was no time for crying. Inside, I laid him down on the couch and covered him in a blanket.
I screamed. Not an angry scream. Nor was it scared, or sad, or even anxious. It was a mix of disappointment and relief. Disappointed it had to end like this, relieved for the same reason. I stood up and walked over to the mirror. This time there was nobody to stop me.
I had a girlfriend for a while now but I hadn't told anyone yet so i'm coming out tonight. Coming out is a big deal especially since your family might not accept you for who you are.
A few hours later.
I'm sitting at the dinner table with my parents and 3 siblings. I've been think about how i'm going to say that i'm a lesbian and I have a girlfriend.
"Hey mom and dad I have to tell you something." I said.
"What do you have to tell us sweetie?" my mom said.
"I like women and I have a girlfriend!" I blurted out.
"EW. GET. OUT. NOW" Both my parents said in sync.
I ran upstairs crying not knowing what to say or do in that moment. I picked up my phone and texted my girlfriend.
Nikki: Hey bubba can I come stay at your house i'm getting kicked out.
Riley: yeah sure.
Nikki: Thanks I'll be there in 5
I texted my girlfriend and thankfully she is allowing me to stay at her house for a while. I packed everything and jumped out my window because I didn't want to see my families faces again.
The wind was trying. It chased the flags around the poles this way and that but the flags were not having any. They simply folded over, and over again, like Tai Chi masters who would not be baited. Brown and yellow leaves trickled down from almost empty trees, skittish and unpredictable through the grey sky. Finally, the wind relented, and the flags sulked against their poles, cold and flaccid. The air had grown still, as if the world had finished breathing out and the moment was all waiting. The gargoyle birds clung to branches, with even the smallest finches and wintering hummers severe in their frozen stares. The ground dwellers, too, all stopped their raucous foraging and lay quietly down where they were, serene.
Thomas noticed none of this. His gnarled fingers gripped the handles of his walker as he glared at the cenotaph. He refused to wear gloves until December. “No matter,” he would say. His lips pursed stubbornly against the cold air, as he continued his annual silent tirade. His care-aide waited patiently behind him, “a ways,” shifting her weight left and right, desperate to be sitting down. She was bundled up like an infant, knowing that he would be there adamantly tottering for some while. She did not notice the eerie stillness, either.
Seventy-one years ago, he was just Tom. not Thomas. Raymond called him Turk; Raymond had had a nickname for everyone, but he didn't care to remember them in the scowl of his reverie. Instead, he gripped all the tighter as his gaze trembled its way, inexorably, up to the flag. His focus, though, stopped short as it often did and steeped itself into the memory: he and Raymond digging that damned Jeep out of the muck. There just had to be a better way, he thought, as Raymond shouldered into him with a wry grin. “Put your back into it, my Turk!” His last words. The blast blew him up and away like a bug flicked off a dinner plate.
Thomas’s head nodded slowly up and down as he remembered, then it bobbled into a side to side shake as he pleaded quietly, “We were just mechanics.” Pieces of that Jeep were still embedded in him, wedged into his backbone in three different spots. One medic gawked and said he was a miracle. The pieces, small, but all barbed like hooks, had pierced his lamina with such precision that the tips all but poked into his spinal cord, like three deadly fingertips poised over destruct buttons. He quickly grew used to the dull, constant pain. That was the end of Raymond, and the war for Tom.
High above him, far beyond the hearing of its insect buzz, the drone hovered patiently. The animal creatures of the earth did likewise.
He did not feel like a miracle now. He never did. There was a pang in his chest, an incompleteness; he could never quite catch his breath, and a longing for something he just could not name. He was uncertain if that same feeling was there before the war, but he assumed so.
He found that he just did not have the capacity for romantic love. This would have surprised the young Tom, but the war had beaten him into Thomas. He did not shun friendships, but he made no effort to garner them.
He had always shunned leisure. His blinkered focus was work and he set about it unrivalled. He and Raymond had built a hydrogen-powered engine in the spare time they had, using an old manual and machining what they couldn’t scrounge. He became a simple farm mechanic, if one can call anything he did simple.
Anyone looking at his life and his work would have been astounded by its scope and utility. Thomas did not examine his life or his accomplishments. His was a life of working ’til day’s end. He called it service. Nothing else he ever did held that empty feeling at bay, except the reprieve of sleep.
One block away, Stanley Elzinga considered the image on the screen of his handheld remote control. The camera of his drone, high above the park, showed the clearing and the cenotaph, with its corresponding flags. Two people were down there braving the cold. One, he knew, was the recipient of his gift. He recalled that he had wrapped it almost absent-mindedly. “The wind has died down,” he thought. “Nice.” He squeezed the trigger to descend the drone.
It was then that Thomas noticed the stillness. His breath curdled in the air before him, poofing away in a slow-motion cloud, wisps slowly swirling about, crystallizing before his eyes. He thought he must be dreaming. Bemused, he fogged the air before him like a mirror. Without thinking, he took a shaky finger and wrote his name in the air. To his surprise, he had written “Tom”. He heard the drone.
With some effort, he craned his neck around, eyes alert and searching for that last mad wasp of November. “No, that’s not right. The sound is off,” he concluded silently. He saw the drone above him, something dangling from underneath.
He marvelled as the drone descended before him, nestling a small box - gift wrapped in green with a blue ribbon - quite perfectly into his receiving palm. A mechanism clicked softly, the clamps released and the drone buzzed its way straight up and away.
Thomas inspected the gift. The lid was wrapped separately. He peeked over at Joanne. All parka and mittens, her head was bowed like she had noticed something on the ground and none of this extraordinary event. He regarded again, his eyes all a wonder, the gift in his hand. He set his elbows on the frame of his walker and opened the lid.
Stanley guided his drone back to his patio table landing pad. He disassembled the airdrop device and packed everything all neatly away into its foam and cardboard slots. He opened the back door, and took off his boots and coat and placed the boxes back on their shelf. He stood there for a moment and turned around. The door was ajar. He would fix that lock later, he thought, as he firmly shut the door. He checked the thermostat, nudged it up a bit and went back to his vacuuming.
The world in the park breathed in. The wind nipped at the flags, teasing them once again into their martial dance. The birds took flight and resumed their relentless hunting. Squirrels scampered once again and Joanne looked up.
“Oh,” she said aloud, with kindness and caring. “Thomas is gone.” He was sitting on his walker’s seat, head leaned back and tilted just a tad, his eyes wide open. She counted to sixty and then she walked over. She was about to dial her cell phone when she noticed his face. He looked so peaceful. He looked… she pondered for a moment. “Complete. That’s the word,” she thought. “Where did you get this,” she said, as she plucked the little tin box and lid all neatly wrapped off his lap. Empty. She fitted the lid snugly on the box and noticed the small slip of paper between his thumb and finger. She reached down and gently slipped it out. On it was written “My Turk”.
Tantalizing Terror (A Tanka)
From across the room
I can feel your energy.
Have I gone insane?
I am the snowflake
embraced by the sun.
From every last outward appearance,
This couple well-manages queerance.
They laugh long, and they pray,
play it straight. (So, they’re gay?)
All folks take heed from their endearance.
Love is love, hate has no place here, and homophobia is for nazis
Kevin Spacey was trying to wipe the entrails of AT LEAST seven of what he liked to refer to as "little bottoms" off of his torture room wall after watching Silence of the Lambs for the millionth time, with his wiener tucked securely between his legs.
"Pawwwwwwwwwwwpers!" He purred to himself, as he repeated lines from the movie.
"F-F-F-F-F-F-F-F-F-F-F!" He was very upset that Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell had been caught so many years ago because they peddled premium "little bottoms."
"FUCK!" He shouted angrily, tossing a brain soaked rag onto the cold, drippy concrete.
"POLICE! FREEZE KANYE WEST!" Kevin Spacey screamed like that one tuba guy meme on YouTube that's titled something like "tuba guy screams."
It was okay though, because it was only the LAPD, basically a police force that only arrests you if "the tribe" decides you're no longer lucrative to their greedy ways of their beloved lord Mammon.
"YOU SCARED ME!" Kevin Spacey yanked his bathrobe shut I'm embarrassment.
"Oh shit... Kevin... we're so sorry. We were here to ruin Kanye West's life because the ***'* told us we had to since he called out Harley Pasternak for murdering a bunch of celebrities and proved it." It was too late, though. There was an entire camera crew standing behind the LAPD officers, and they were live.
Kevin Spacey was in deep shit for the second time for killing underaged boys. The whole nation had seen it, and there really was nothing that could be done to save him.
"I..." he was standing behind a podium, ready to give a statement.
"I'm." He was through.
"I'M GAY!" The whole world gasped, but it wasn't enough to save him this time around.
"LOVE IS LOVE!" He quickly and intelligently corrected course.
The global collective of trans-toddlers jumped onto their gender-sexually ambiguous Big Wheels made for non-conforming kids of all of the queerest age groups, now called "amBiguous Wheels" and rode around in the streets with the latest ridiculous pariah-freak flag in three new colors rolled out on February 15, 2023 by the ***'*, the flags of which their single mom's had obviously paid for because toddlers have no idea what's going on.
Trustworthy men dressed as female demons began vigorously bouncing wee tot-tots on their knees at libraries and absconded with several when no one was looking.
Grown men paid an 11 year old boy to do a normal twerk style ass shaking butt dance in the middle of a public street in Manhattan, while he was adorned in the tightest little Daisy Dukes, and several newly aborted babies were resuscitated before being subsequently dumped into the asshole of a red hot, bronze, brazen bull with "Egel Hazahav" written in Hebrew letters on the side.
Back in the White House, Joe Biden was being aggressively "fecally dredged" by his Secret Service "DD" AKA Diaper Detail (they were commonly teased and called Doo-doo Daddies), while Kevin Spacey occupied the desk at the Oval Office as Biden's entire ****** cabinet wringed their ****** hands just out of sight of the cameras, a cabinet loyal only to one nation, the same nation, and it sure as hell wasn't the US, yaknowhumsayin ;).
"Love... is... love..." everyone was happy. :)