I must preface this story by saying that it is pure fantasy. As you might know, I don't always write fantasy. Sometimes I write fact disguised as fantasy. It's up to you to tell the difference. I avoid the usual disclaimers because, I figure, why are you here in the first place? Wouldn't you like to be surprised for a change?
This is the final chapter of Playland.. If you got this far, please let me know what you thought.
by Larkin, .... jet2larkin (at) gmail (.) com
Part 12: Hung-over, Jeanie's Return, The Black Limo, Poor Jeanie, Epilog
Reggie and Joey sat next to each other on the bus ride back to the city. Reggie was slumped down in his seat. It was a while before Reggie looked up in a way that Joey could actually see his face. The expression was one of pain and horror. Tears were rolling down his cheeks and his usual stupid smile had been replaced with a frightful frown.
Joey said, "What's the matter?"
Reggie voice cracked and he mumbled something not quite intelligible. "Ey feel oful... Ohhhh God!"
"Reggie, you don't have to cry.."
With that he lifted his head up and moaned out loud. "Oooooohhh God!"
Everybody on the bus looked in their direction. The driver of the bus looked in his mirror and called out. "Hey, keep it down back there!"
A large black woman sitting in front of the two boys turned to see what was the matter. Joey was slightly embarrassed with the attention but smiling.
The woman said to Joey, "What's the matter with him?"
Joey answered. "I think he drank too much."
She laughed out loud in a way that even made Joey laugh at Reggie's unfortunate state.
Then she said to the pathetic and pitiful Reggie. "You take some aspirin and get some sleep and you be as good as new before you know it. The Lord taught you a good lesson and now you have to be careful how much you be drinkin when you're havin a good time."
She laughed and smiled again and gave Reggie a kind pat on the shoulder. He was in too much pain to notice.
Instead going down to Ninth, Joey walked along 8th Avenue with the still sick Reggie trudging behind. Joey walked right passed Tony's Bar but before he got much further he heard someone calling his name.
He turned to see Tony waving him back. "Joey!"
Tony had gained a lot of weight and he was dressed in his usual clean-up apron. "Joey, Peter's in jail."
Reggie finally caught up and Joey looked at Tony wanting more news. "Joey, I was up at Riker's Island most of Yesterday and It doesn't look like he's getting out anytime soon. He was robbing someplace in the 20's and the cops got him. They promised him 12 years so he pleaded out for 4. He wanted me to make sure you knew. They are sending him up state in a few days."
Joey said, "Can I go and see him?"
Poor Tony was out of breath with worry. Joey wasn't the only one who cared about Peter. "Yeah, but you gotta get your Mother to take you. Don't go alone because they won't let you in."
Joey slowly realized that Peter hadn't told Tony that Jeanie had been gone for almost 6 months. Maybe they could go when she gets home...
Joey keyed the door to Peter's apartment and Reggie pushed his way ahead of him and fell down on the cluttered bed. He curled himself into a fetal position.
Joey lay down next to Reggie but he did not sleep....
By early evening Reggie was feeling better. He sat up in bed and opening the pizza box that Joey had bought earlier, pulled out a cold slice. Joey was next to him puzzling over pictures in a magazine.
Reggie looked around the room. "You wanna hear something weird?"
Without looking up, Joey said, "What?"
"I've been here before.. I met this guy at the Port and he brought me here."
Joey looked up at Reggie, "What did he look like?"
Reggie describe the guy as tall and skinny wearing a Yankees ball cap.
He stared at Joey.. "So you think that was Peter?"
Joey appeared to be un-moved and said, "Sounds like it."
Reggie did not fill Joey in on the details and Joey didn't ask because he knew Peter only too well. Anyway, Peter wasn't comin home anytime soon. Reggie and Joey might as well consider Peter's apartment their new home...At least until the rent runs out.
Edward had given Joey enough money so that the two boys could go out to eat at the Greek diner, go to Playland and do pretty much what they wanted. Late at night they fucked around in Peter's bed and then again in the morning.. They were after all, perpetually horny boys. They went out for breakfast and slowly the day wound down to the time when Jeanie's bus was due to arrive at the Port.
By eight that evening, Reggie and Joey sat on the stair by the platform waiting for the bus to come in. A cop tried to throw them out but Joey quickly told him that they were waiting for the bus from Chicago and what time it was coming in.
The cop said, "Ok, but if I come around at 8:30 and you two are still here, I'll kick you fuckin asses the hell outta here!"
Joey and Reggie watched as the bus rolled slowly into the dock. It paused for a second and then the door opened making a squishing sound. Joey watch the people emerge, some in stumbling in disarray from a long journey. Finally a woman that appeared to be Jeanie came out lugging two cumbersome canvas bags. Joey met her at the door and hugged her.
"Here honey, carry one of these for me." She thrust the other into Reggie's hands.
Mother and Son and Reggie headed up the stairs, onto the concourse of the Port Authority of the City of New York.
It was almost as if she looked right through her son. "Joey, I am so fuckin sick."
He helped his mother. They headed out the side door and down 42st street towards 9th avenue.
"Mom, Mom, we got evicted, you don't live there no more."
She stopped short and looked at Joey. "Well where are you stayin?"
"I've been stayin at Peter's."
Without skipping a beat she said, "Ok, Peter will just have to put up with us and that's all there is to it."
Peters place was on 47th. After climbing the 5 flights of stairs they opened the door to Peter's apartment bringing with them, an atmosphere of chaos. The small apartment seemed even smaller with three people in it.
Reggie looked around and saw no place for himself in this new dynamic.."Joey, I gotta go, I was gonna meet up with this guy downtown.." Joey nodded and watched Reggie go out the door and down the stairs.
Jeanie was opening her bags and scattering their contents all around the room as if she was looking for that just wasn't there.
She confronted her son. "Joey, I know you got any money and I need it! I know how you squirrel it away but I gotta have it now. Don't fuckin lie to me you little shit, I've given you money lots of times and now I need it!"
Joey gave her the 100 bill that Peter had given him. She seized it and headed out the door, down the stairs and back out on 9th avenue with Joey in tow. Jeanie was heading up to 53rd street.
She talked with a Puerto Rican kid. "If the cops shut the Dominicans down, where the fuck are people goin?"
The kid said, "Try 2nd between B and C in the East village."
The two figures descended down into the subway to take the RR over to Astor Place and then to walk from St marks place over to 2nd street between avenue B and C.
By now Joey knew that his mother was back on heroin he also knew that there was nothing he could.
There was a long line of junkies queuing up to buy dope in front of the building. "Joey, wait for me across the street."
The line moved quickly and she disappeared into the building. When she came out, Joey re-joined her. She went up to a another guy and asked where she could gets some needles and he pointed out a guy wearing a red and white sock hat.
Her pace quickened when they headed back across town. She looked down at Joey who was hurrying along side of her and said, "It's gonna be alright, it's gonna be alright.
Back in Peter's apartment she sat on the bed while Joey watched.
He held the spoon of fluid while she cooked it with a lighter. "Whatever you do don't fuckin spill it!"
He didn't want to help but he did what she asked. Joey looked down at her bruised arms and saw the fluid being pushed into her veins and then to be drawn back into the syringe, blood red.
It wasn't more than 30 seconds before the weight of pain and tension miraculously lifted and just vanished.
She lay back on Peter's bed and sighed. "Thank God.. fuck this is a lot stronger than I'm used to."
Joey was uncomfortable being with her but he didn't know where to go.
She looked at him and gave her son a smile. "I bet Peter's going to shit when he see's us."
Joey sat on the bed with his mother as he had always done in the past but the wall between them had grown and now it seemed to have solidified.
He said, Peter's in jail.."
She said, "Well who else is here besides you?"
Joey said, "Just me."
She rummaged around in her bag for a cigarette. "Well that's one problem solved, we can stay here."
She never asked why Peter was in jail or how long he was going to be locked up or if he was alright. Peter had taken care of her son for almost 6 months and all she knew was that she had a place to stay and shoot her dope.
Jeanie was finally calm and out of the misery that she carried with her like a plague. She talked with Joey for a while. "Joey, the trip was like hell on Earth. I'll tell you all about it in the morning."
Joey thought his Mother looked older and tired. She just needed sleep. When she dozed off, Joey let himself out and was soon back on the street. It was late and things in the Playland arcade were not encouraging. It was not like Joey to be pre-occupied with the worries of real life. Jeanie had given him enough to be angry or pissed at her but he still could not hate her. Instead, he tried to take on her pain and worry.
The Black Limo:
Standing on a small traffic island he looked across at the glittering facade of Playland and thought to himself,
"What's going to happen to us?"
The man in a dark suit had come up behind Joey. When he spoke, Joey turned to see him. I suppose in Times Square it didn't really matter but it was late at night and the man was wearing wrap around shades.
"I've seen you here before, you want to make some money?"
Joey didn't answer but he thought of Jeanie and how both of them would need money to survive. Without a word, the man turned and began to walk off and Joey followed.
Halfway down the block there was a stretch limo double parked.
The man opened the door exposing a dark interior. A voice from inside said, "Oh, he's perfect!"
Joey climbed in, the door slid shut and the man got in the front and the limo silently drove off.
The interior was very dimly lit and it was lined with velvet seats like a long couch with a very large man sitting at the back. The limo was swiftly driving up the Westside highway towards the Bronx.
"Let's have a look at you."
Joey looked at the man and found him mysterious and a little unpleasant.
"Come on, let's have a look at you, I'll make sure you get paid, now take off all your clothes so I can look at your pecker."
Joey hesitated but where could he go?
The man re-assured him, "Don't worry, no one can see you in here and I'll make sure to deliver you back to where Charles picked you up."
Joey guessed the Charles was the chaffers' name but the large man kept his own name a secret. Once naked, the man masturbated Joey but Joey was distracted thinking about Jeanie and also that he didn't particularly like the man. If he had seen him in advance he never would have gone with him. The man encouraged Joey to stand up on the plush seats so the he could blow him.
Then as if in a routine he said, "Turn around."
Not long after the limo rolled into a long residential driveway and a dark silhouette of a large house at the end. Joey looked around for his clothes.
The man said, "Don't worry, we're not going in."
The door slid open and the chaffer climbed in and closed the door behind. Then he pulled all the curtains around so that they could bring the light up higher. Joey had never felt as trapped before as he did in this black limo with two strange men in the middle of nowhere. Joey was wishing Reggie was here. Charles, as the man called him, got undressed and began manhandling Joey much the same way Peter did but it was different. It was unsettling, strange and void of feeling.
The man said, "Charles, I want to see you make him suck your big cock. Make him do it."
The man added to his unpleasantness by masturbating himself very rapidly but no penis was visible either because it was small or soft.
"Come closer so I can eat his ass while he sucks your big cock. Remember Charles, Tell me when you get ready to cum because I want to see it.. Do it in his face!"
The man was playing puppet-master. Joey could feel a fat finger up his butt.
Charles was jerking off and he said, "Here it comes!"
The man leaned closer so he could watch the cum leap out and onto Joey's up turned face.
Almost immediately, the large man got out of the limo and walked away, towards the house. Charles gave Joey some tissues and they both dressed.
"Come on, sit up front with me and I'll drive you back to the city."
Charles became a pleasant and almost nice person once the large man disappeared into the house. They had a slow and leisurely drive back into the city. He dropped Joey off where he had picked him up near Playland and handed him a 100 dollar bill provided to him by the large man.
It is a special kind of silence. It is the kind of silence that tells you something is wrong. Almost before he saw her body, Joey knew that she was dead. Face white, eyes milky and open, she lay straight out on the floor next to Peter's bed. The woman Joey had known as his Mother was gone.
As a boy, alone, he had no idea what to do. He couldn't bring himself to get any closer to her let alone hug the Mother who had left him a long time ago. All he was able to do was to slowly back out of the room and flee, leaving the apartment door wide open.
He remembered Peter saying, "Don't ever let them put you in to foster care cause they will fuck you up!"
Tony telling him how hard he tried to keep Peter out of jail when he was a kid because he knew it would ruin him.
He remembered the Sheriff who had a job to do but in spite of it, was kind to him and he had told him. "Sometimes, Social Services can good but it can just as easily be a nasty prison for children."
It was already late when the still small boy ran down 47th Street to Ninth Avenue. The city was suddenly cruel, without feeling and full of danger. There were sirens in the distance for some calamity the made a boy alone in the city, inessential and of no importance to anyone.
12 years Later:
He was well dressed and exceedingly handsome. His rich black hair was trimmed and the dangling shark's tooth earring had been replaced by a small tasteful gold hoop. His unusually blue eyes had let him down a bit because he now had to wear contacts, but other than that, things were fine.
He climbed into an older Volvo station wagon and started it up. He hated to drive into the city but he wanted to visit an old friend. After living all those years in Jersey it was amazing how rarely he had gone into the city but this was a special day.
It was Edward who had driven into the city that night to pick up a small shattered boy almost 12 years ago. Edward sheltered him, protected him and in the process he even began to repair himself.
11 years ago:
The pay phone in Tony's bar rang. "Hi Tony. It's Joey, do you know what hospital I was born in?"
Tony was surprised. "Joey, where the hell are you! We was all worried about you. I am sorry about Jeanie and after that, that's when we started lookin for you"
"Tony I can't tell you but I have to get a birth certificate. Where was I born?"
Tony paused and then said, "I think it was in St Vincent's on 7th avenue in the Village."
He got the birth certificate but that didn't smooth things enough. Edward wouldn't have thought twice about adopting Joey but it wasn't that easy. They would want to know his circumstances and maybe put him into foster care or adopt him out to someone else. Because of this Edward couldn't get him into school because it would trigger questions about Edward's legitimacy as a parent.
The truth was that with all of Edward's good and noble intentions he was just as much on the wrong side of the law as Peter was when he was plowing Joey's ass in a one room flat while his Mother was turning tricks.
Edward took it upon himself to educate Joey. He actually became a parent and just for a little while, Joey became a child. Keep in mind that child and saint are not the same thing.
When he was 18, Edward got forged documents and got him into Monmouth College on the Jersey shore.
Peter had served 8 years, 4 more because of some kind of infraction and his release records showed that he was living in an apartment in Coney Island. Joe avoided the city by crossing Staten Island and going into Brooklyn using the Verrazano Bridge. It was a pre-war block building of about 24 apartments. There was no one home. Joe walked the few blocks down to the boardwalk to look at the ocean. He sat for awhile on the benches watching the people and the ocean. It was mostly Russians settling here now. He remembered the day that he and Peter looked at the John Lennon monument in the park and then took the train out here to Coney Island. Afterwards, They ate Chinese and then went to a movie. He missed and long for those days.
Not being able to go without seeing Peter he sat on the stoop for more than an hour. Finally he saw a lean trim man dressed in white cook pants and carrying a fishing rod, ambled up the walk. He actually passed Joe without recognizing him.
Joe stood up and said, "Peter"
The man turned and looked at him.
"Peter, it's Joey."
A look of astonishment fell across his face and a spontaneous hug that went on and on with joyful recognition. Both men were to the point of sobbing but of course they didn't.
Peter invited him in and gave him a beer.
"Joey, I'm starved, is it ok if I cook this fish and will you share it with me?"
Joe nodded, yes.
"Joey, I heard about Jeanie, Tony told me as soon as he found out. I am so sorry. You know junkies take too much without realizing it and things like that happen. I'm also sorry about me almost gettin you caught but I'd rather it be me get caught instead of you. Good thing I sent you home, huh?"
Joey was perfectly at ease with his old friend. "Peter, don't apologize for shit that happened a long time ago and anyway, you gave me a lot because I always knew that you cared about me."
Peter served up a small plate of fish for each. It was white, mild and delicious.
Peter went on. "You know I was worried about your Mother but I swore to myself that if anything happened to her I would always take care of you and always get you what you need but look what happened, I ended up in fuckin jail.. A lot of good that did."
They both drank from their beers
"I bet you got girls bangin your door down.. I don't know maybe you're already married?"
Joey smiled, "No, I'm not married."
Peter laughed, "Oh, so you turned into a worse boy pervert than even me!"
Joey smiled and said, "No, not exactly, I like men....I like older men, ...Older men, like you."
They looked at each other for a long moment and then Joe said, "It's been a long time,...You wanna?
On a final note...
No one had seen or heard from Reggie since that last day. Joey made the trip to Queens only to find that his Mother had moved. The only thing that Joey could think was that Reggie was one of the many that disappeared during the eighties and nineties when AIDS stalked the land
Today, Playland is gone and Times Square has been cleaned up and made safe for families. All that was unsafe, dirty or poor was swept away along with,...diamonds in the rough.
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