While Mikey hunted for the sander in the other garage, I checked where I’d slipped the letters into the bag I’d packed for him to use this weekend, when he was rinsing out my Pepsi glass. He had a brown bag, sort of like one a doctor would use, but it was made to look like tooled leather, and closed with a zipper rather than a strap or clasp. Along with the letters he’d need to claim his reward on Sunday, I’d tossed in a couple pair of socks, his purple briefs, and a couple shirts, one being his Sock It to Me with Nixon’s picture on it. The weather was supposed to be nice all weekend, so I’d only put in one pair of pants—well, shorts really—and they weren’t his cream-colored walking ones with the extra pockets. I’d found a ragged pair of cut-offs in one of his dresser drawers—faded, with a couple holes in them, and if I was any judge, they’d come down barely past the spot where his crotch ended, leaving more than three-quarters of his thighs bare. They’d be perfect for painting in, and I could drool to my heart’s content watching him in them.
He had switched jackets to an old tan windbreaker in case it got chilly tonight, and I’d told him his off-white button-down shirt and tan chinos were fine. I had no idea what Dave and Trebor thought we’d be doing, so I was going to wear regular jeans and a sweatshirt with cut-off sleeves…and my denim jacket. As I put his bag in the truck behind the seat, he came out with the sander and a small box of sandpaper. I went and pulled the wooden garage door down, and put his dad’s stuff behind the seat too. “Do we need to buy more sandpaper? I’ve never prepped a car before.”
Mikey leaned over to give me a quick kiss. “This is all medium-grit, so I’d get some coarse for the really bad spots, and a package of fine for the last steps. Even with the truck being clean, you can’t just put new paint on it without a little sanding—it needs something which provides ‘teeth’ for it to cling to.” He laughed at me leering at his crotch when he said teeth, and only made a feeble attempt to keep my hand from grabbing him and giving him a rub. He managed to get himself under enough control to add, “We’ll also need some masking tape to cover things we don’t want to get painted.”
I turned left on Main Street and went up the tree-lined blocks until I came to the red-brick corner store with big plate-glass windows on each side of the front door. A smaller side entrance was for people parking on the cross street. There was a parking space in front, so I pulled up and joined my boyfriend on the sidewalk before heading inside. Walker Hardware was done in shaded gold lettering on the big front windows, and we could see all sorts of things in the display: wheelbarrows, hand tools, gloves, jeans…even packages of seeds, screws and nails. The interior smelled like old wood, metal and polish, and the counters shelves were packed with anything a person might need, from nails, pipe and tools, to paint, solvents and work clothes. Mikey led the way to the sandpaper, and picked up a package of coarse- and fine-grit, along with some yellow masking tape. He carried them to the rear of the store where the old brass register was, and then joined me in the paint section.
“We want spray primer, Jay…that will give a better coat when done in thin layers…say three cans to start?” I gave him a smirk, seeing how he paused for a second before using my name instead of kæreste or elskede. I was also sure we’d wind up using more cans of primer than that…but he hadn’t really looked at my truck yet to gauge what we’d need. I was beginning to suspect that my love had an optimistic streak hidden inside that lanky body of his. I grabbed a fourth can just for luck before following him back to the register. With all the stuff together, I had to smile at seeing the huge old scale that weighed out nails, screws and such things by the pound from the bins facing us below the counter. This was one of those old-fashioned places where the customer could decide how many of those things he needed, rather than having to buy a pack with a set amount. If you only needed five screws, or a bolt for your bike, you could still get it here, and old Mr. Walker or his son would take your nickels with a smile, asking you to ‘Come again,’ when you needed something else.
“Working on the car again, Miles?” I looked up to see the owner’s balding head smiling at my boyfriend over half-rimmed glasses. “I saw it in the parade last year—you did a great job on her.” He began pushing the clacking keys down, and I saw little flags pop up in the window showing what each item cost…before he pushed another key, which caused a racket, but yielded the final total of $16.95. I handed him the twenty as Mikey told him we were going to do my truck before painting it. As he handed me the change, he gave me a smile and a sharp look.
“Aren’t you related to Dirck Beckel? I used to see the older boy…Jerry?...in here a lot. You’re…Jack? Jim?” I laughed and shook my head as I pocketed the change. Mr. Walker made no move to bag our purchases yet. It was everyday habit to chat with your customers before they left—it let them know you appreciated them and were glad to help them out—and it insured you’d be back. Mr. Walker, though, ready did care about his customers as people, and had likely sold things to our parents or grandparents at one time or another.
I extended my hand to shake, and smiled. “Close, sir…I’m Jay; Jerry is out in San Francisco with the Coast Guard... has been since he graduated two years ago. We’re gonna work on the truck—Dad said he’d pay for half the painting if we prepped it.” I told him it was parked out front if he wanted to see it, and he put our stuff in a paper bag before following us outside. He let out a low whistle when he saw it, and walked all the way around her, checking out the wooden bed too. His rough fingers ran over the rust spots, and asked if he could see the engine. I obliged him and he looked it over thoroughly.
“She looks nice...how’s she run?” I grinned again and hopped in, turning the key and pushing the starter button. The engine roared and gave one belch of blue smoke before settling down into her usual throaty purr. I revved the engine a few times, and he came to the passenger window to look inside at the interior. “She’s the cat’s meow, son…I had a Dodge similar to this back after the War.” I told him it was a ’47 and my Dad’s first car. When he asked what color we were going to paint her, I told him it would be maroon. “Wait here…” and we watched him dash off inside the store. A few minutes later, he was back with another bag, and handed me a card. He placed the bag in Mikey’s hands.
“You’ll need some metal mesh and patching compound, Miles…just in case you don’t have any left from your car’s re-do,” and he turned to me. “Those guys on that card will do a good job for you—don’t go to that Earl Scheib guy, no matter what his commercials say. They can match that shade of maroon easy, and Miles used them to do his touch-up painting.” Mikey protested that he would buy the new items later, but Mr. Walker wouldn’t hear of it. “You take those, and I’ll catch up with you later—no sense stopping in the middle to go fetch something you could have had already. Say hi to your dad for me, Jay…and I’ll see you boys again—be sure to let me see her when she’s all done.”
We were both shaking our heads on the way back to my house, and it wasn’t until we put the supplies in the barn that we saw the man had tossed in a couple more packets of sandpaper too. Okay, there were some advantages to living in a small town…like trusting and friendly neighbors. I showed Mikey a shelf in the cabinet where far stored old cans of paint, then we started the hunt for Jerry’s radio. There weren’t many places to search, and within fifteen minutes, we were back at the truck next to Gulliver’s paddock, both empty-handed.
The only other places are the basement or attic,” I told him, reaching over to rub Gulliver’s nose, which had come over the fence to push against Mikey’s shoulder. He wrapped one arm around the horse’s neck, and rubbed his shoulder while I leaned in to kiss his soft, silky muzzle. We noticed he no longer paid any attention to the racing sulky in the corner of his domain by the barn. Another day or so, and I’d try hitching him up to it. “Want to go for a little ride?” I laughed when Mikey and Gulliver both nodded, so I ran into the barn to fetch a rope hack, not feeling the need for a full bridle and bit.
Mikey opened the gate as I got Gulliver ready, before coming over to climb the rail so he could jump on…and I slid snugly up against my boyfriend’s back as I pushed my groin into his butt. Once my body molded into his, I felt him lean back into me, and I handed him the rope ends. “You remember how to steer? Pull the right one to go right, both of them to stop.” He seemed a little panicked until I wrapped my arms around his middle and gave him a squeeze and a quick grope. We were both relaxed and just enjoying the physical union with Gulliver, so I gave a little smile when we wound up back by the pond, under the big oak where my tree-house was perched.
I slid off and helped Mikey down so we could sit under the tree, and Gulliver could get a drink. The sun was warm from a deep blue sky, and I pointed out how much the leaves had unfolded since last week. A few wildflowers were springing up, and my arms went around Mikey’s waist as I pulled him down in front of me. “Jeg elsker dig, skat.” I whispered into his ear, giving it a little kiss. Since I usually called him my belovèd, he knew what I meant, and rewarded me with a deep kiss. While we’d been at his house, we’d blown each other, so the edge was off, but just holding him like this had me aroused, and a quick check told me he was in the same condition. I hugged him tighter against my chest, and he leaned his head next to mine against the tree trunk with a sigh of contentment.
I jerked awake when I felt warm, wet lips nuzzling my ear. ‘Damn it, Gul!” I wiped my hand trying to get all the slobber off, and Mikey started laughing at my face as my horse backed away with a whinnying horse-laugh. Mikey grabbed my hand and pulled me to my feet, patting my traitorous horse on the neck and telling him what a good boy he was, before we walked him back to the barn. On the way, he’d push his long nose against one of us if we lagged behind, and did his best to keep us walking side-by-side the whole way. I grabbed two brushes from the tack area, and repeated the demonstration of how Mikey should curry him—with my hands guiding his arms and our hips touching the whole time. Maybe it took longer this way, but I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it just as much as Gulliver.
Coming in through the kitchen, we took off our shoes and saw mor mixing some ground beef, an egg, and a bit of onion in a bowl. There was no pan for a meatloaf waiting, so I figured it was for hamburgers. Sure enough, a look in the fridge revealed buns waiting to be toasted, and a bowl of tossed salad. “Half an hour, boys…so don’t get too occupied.”
Mikey blushed, and I eased things a bit by asking where Jerry had stashed the radio for the truck. That got me a frown, and it wasn’t long before she pointed upstairs. “Everything went into the attic that I know of—most of his clothes and books, so that’d be my guess.” I grabbed Mikey’s hand and headed up the back stairs to start the search. The entry to the attic was between the stairs and the bathroom, closed off by a five-paneled door like those for the other rooms, but it opened into the hall to reveal a steep flight of narrow stairs. I pushed the button on the brass switch-plate just inside, and was rewarded with a glow from the otherwise dim attic. You could only stand up straight in the middle of the room; the four alcoves were only five feet high, so you had to bend to get into them. A tiny window was in each one, providing a little light, while most of it came from two overhead bulbs hanging from wires. I know you must be thinking the space was dusty and full of spider webs, but not in our house—we were all enlisted to do a seasonal clean from attic to basement in the Spring and Fall.
The center of the room was clear, but the edges contained boxes, trunks, odd bits of furniture, and picture frames…most of this stuff was left by the previous owners; we’d used some of it, but there were a few trunks of linens and papers we’d decided should stay with the house, since they related to its history. I pointed to one of the alcoves where the boxes were more haphazard. “That stuff should be Jerry’s and mine, the other’s are Linda’s and my parents’…”
Mikey stood next to me, looking at the cardboard boxes, none of which were labeled as to content. We were lucky that most of them just had the top flaps tucked together rather than being sealed with tape—it would have been a real pain in the ass to close them like that again. We would pull out a box, open the flaps to see what was inside, reaching in to feel around the bottoms in case the radio might be under something else, and then set the box aside for the next one. Within ten minutes, despite the pink insulation between the ancient oak rafters, we were building up a sweat. There were no screens in the windows, so we couldn’t open them, even if we could get to them for all the stuff in the way.
To make things go faster, I told Mikey to work on the boxes nearest him, while I took those on the other side of our alcove. I’d turned up some clothes, some old records, which Jerry knew I wouldn’t listen to while he was gone, and a couple awards from school. From quick glances at Mikey, he was finding the same things, but I’d catch him pausing when he found books—he’d look at the title, then start reading the back if it looked like something he’d enjoy. I nudged him with my elbow to get him moving again, and he smiled at me with those eyes that made my heart soar. “If you see something you want to borrow, I’m sure Jerry wouldn’t mind…just stack them so we can carry them downstairs.”
I guess that was a mistake, because Mikey soon had a stack of maybe ten books set aside—if he was going to read all that, when would he have time for me? I shook my head and dug into the next box. I felt lucky when I saw it contained his old set of walkie-talkies, a couple transistor radios, and his old cassette player with some tapes. Next to those, neatly wrapped in a plastic bag marked Hammond Electronics, was what felt like a box. It felt like the right size to contain a radio and speakers, and it felt heavy enough, but I couldn’t tell until I pulled the bag out to get at the top, which had been taped shut. I nearly shouted in my excitement, “I think I found it! Hot dog, Mikey, I think this is it!”
I began to open the bag, trying not to rip the white plastic, and was nearly there when I heard a whispery voice to my right. “Jay…” I managed to tear myself away from the bag for a second to look at my boyfriend, who was staring into another box, and he seemed to be holding old class notes or something in his hands. I told him to set them back in the box, and turned back to uncovering the mysterious contents of the white bag. With the top partially opened, I could see some lettering on the bit revealed, and part of a picture of something oval and black. The lettering ended on the first line with ‘-eiver’, and the second with ‘-deck’…this was it—we’d found the radio!
I gently pulled the box out, and on the front was a picture of a Blaupunkt AM-FM Stereo with Cassette Player, and two speakers. I didn’t know it, but Jerry had bought one of the best stereos you could get…but the numbers on the box giving the specs of frequencies for the speakers meant nothing to me…only that the box proclaimed this was one of the best on the market, and would provide sound almost as good as being in front of the musicians themselves. I let out a ‘whoop’ which could be heard all the way to the barn, and began babbling about how great it would be to have this going…drowning out Mikey’s repeated attempt to get my attention. He’d called my name again, but I was reading the box—we’d have to get speaker wire, and I didn’t know what else….“Jay!”
“We need wire, but at least it has mounting brackets…”
Mikey hit me in the arm, finally getting my attention fully. “What—it’s just Jerry’s old school papers and stuff…” Okay, what he held earlier was that, but he held up a stack of maybe five magazines now, and I could tell they weren’t anything relating to school…not with some girl with big boobs on the front, and the word Playboy on the top. I felt myself turning a little red. Since Jerry taught me about jacking off, we’d never done it together again, and we always gave each other the space to have some ‘private time’ to do what felt so good…Jerry would answer questions if I had any, but we never talked about what we used to get off—for me, it was my imagination—apparently for my older brother, it was magazines. I had no desire to look at naked women, and told him so, figuring he’d put them back.
He shuffled through the others, letting me see the titles: Penthouse, In Touch, Mandate, but it was the last one which had my jaw hanging open—there was no way in hell you’d find that one in a regular bookstore! Not with that title, or that cover picture of a fairly cute guy fucking some girl on all fours—and another cute guy screwing him in the ass. Bi-sketball Boy Bash obviously made no attempt at printing articles or stories…just a few lines of narrative and lots of pictures of those guys, and a few others, with and without women in their sexual activities. My mouth was dry, and I closed that one and put it back in the stack, telling Mikey to put them back just as he’d found them. I needed time to figure this out.
“What does it mean, Jay…I thought Jerry was dating a girl out West for over a year now….” I helped Mikey put the boxes back, keeping out only the radio and the paperbacks he’d found to read, then I took him in my arms. We stood there for a few minutes, feeling the need to be close as we pulled our thoughts back to the present. I needed the strength of his arms just then, as I realized that my other half—my boyhood idol—had kept something from me for who knew how long. I needed to talk to Jerry, but this wasn’t something I could do over the phone or in a letter…and I couldn’t talk to our parents about it. I thought of asking Linda since she was older, but then remembered her telling us about his girlfriend when she confronted Zane—so she didn’t know either.
“Elskede, I think we need to forget we saw that until I can talk to him…we don’t know if it means he’s bisexual or gay…we both know how important it is to keep such things quiet—I just can’t figure out why he didn’t trust me.” Mikey squeezed me against his chest for a few more minutes before we heard mor calling from downstairs. I gave him a weak smile, and picked up the bag with the radio, and he took the books he wanted. “Let’s put this stuff in my room, and then we can get washed up for dinner.”
I was fairly quiet going down to my room, but Mikey grabbed a damp cloth and started to wipe my face and hands in the bathroom, then lifted up my shirt to do my underarms and chest…making sure to get a smile out of me before he leaned down to lick my nipples for just a second. “Better?” he asked, and I nodded my head, then did the same quick wash to him. Over hamburgers—which my lovely boy put Worcestershire sauce on—we told about finding the radio and buying supplies to start the prep on the truck tomorrow when we got back from OSU. Far repeated his warning not to cut holes in the truck for the speakers, and I told him we wouldn’t, and then I made a list of what we needed to pick up at the mall to make the radio work. Thank goodness, the box listed the gauge wire we needed for the speakers, and how much we’d need. I wrote down the model number of the radio before we headed out the door to meet the guys at Eastland.
The drive went faster than I thought, with most traffic heading out of town rather than in, so we were early. With the warm sun still up, I got out and walked around to the tailgate, opening it so I could climb in. I helped Mikey up and we sat on the metal tool chest that was mostly empty except for the jack and the two cement blocks to shove against the wheels for changing tires. I leaned back against the rear window and watched the occasional shoppers go by. Mikey was next to me, a few inches away, but hidden by the walls of the truck's bed, our feet were touching through our shoes, and we exchanged goofy smiles whenever our gazes met during people-watching.
I raised an eyebrow when Mikey sat up suddenly and gave me a searching look. “You said Jerry taught you about doing stuff, right?” When I nodded, he went on slowly. “What did he say when you asked him what you should think about? Did he say girls, or something else?”
I had to think about that for a few minutes, letting the scene in our bedroom play out in my head. Even though it was four years ago when I was thirteen and he was sixteen, I could remember it clear as day—but I couldn’t figure out what difference it made to Jerry’s hiding such a big secret from me. “He said ‘person’…definitely not ‘girl’.”
Mikey’s face lit up in triumph, and he slapped my shoulder playfully. “That’s it then—you said he was always looking out for you—so he was doing it again! He knew how much you looked up to him, so he didn’t want to do anything that would influence your feelings…he wanted you to find your own way, rather than follow in his footsteps. He didn’t know if you were queer or not, so he kept from accidentally leading you one way or the other by not saying anything about girls or boys.”
I stared at him, trying to follow that logic; I’d always known I was into boys….Then Mikey asked the question that brought it all into focus for me. “If Jerry told you he liked girls, would you have accepted liking boys so easily—or would you have tried to be like him?”
Mikey was right—I’d have struggled with it a lot more than I had…and Jerry had known I’d try to be like him, so he’d kept quiet. He’d made sure I wouldn’t feel any more pressure than I had to. I felt the tension drain out of my shoulders when I let that sink in—Jerry was still the wise and protective older brother I’d always loved. I couldn’t kiss him then in the back of the truck for all the world to see, but I did give his hand a squeeze where it lay between our thighs.
* * * * * * * * * *
The hum of the van’s tires on the freeway was accentuated by the chatter of the beads separating the two seats up front from the living space in the rest of the interior. Trebor and I were used to it by now, having travelled in it all the way from California, at the beginning of the Fall Semester last August. Room assignments for us had come only weeks before the dorms opened, so letters and phone calls had led to our actually meeting since we lived in different suburbs of Redwood City just southwest of San Francisco. Turns out we had attended rival schools, but it was sheer chance that brought us together…neither of us was a big fan of sports, so we never met at games or parties. My father was an architect, and my mom a social worker; Trebor—or Robert as his birth certificate read—had parents who were both doctors, his dad a plastic surgeon and his mother a professor teaching at Summit Preparatory, his old school.
Our first letters had been pretty formal, and the first time we talked on the phone had been nearly as bad, but after about ten minutes, I felt more at ease, and it turned out that we liked some of the same music, TV shows and books. The first face-to-face meeting was at a local McDonald’s, and it didn’t take long before we were trading jokes about school and the rivalry between their sports teams. Both of us liked to swim, but Trebor was the one who enjoyed surfing…I could do it, but preferred activities on the beach, like volleyball and Frisbee. It was during one of our days at the beach that we fell in with a group of other kids tossing a football, and then later cooking hot dogs over a fire as the sun set; a guitar appeared, followed by a tambourine, and finally a flute…then the group started to sing San Francisco by Scott McKenzie, Goin' Up The Country by Canned Heat, and Lay Down by Melanie Safka. After that, one of the guys pulled out a joint and passed it around—Trebor and I exchanged glances—we hadn’t discussed pot yet, but it turned out we both enjoyed the occasional hit. The evening wound down with a few more songs by Norman Greenbaum, Matthew’s Southern Comfort and finally some Mamas & Papas…we made a mess of Creeque Alley, so wound things up with California Dreamin. A bunch of us lay on the beach watching the stars come out until our buzz wore off, and that’s when I asked Trebor about getting to Ohio in a few weeks. Maybe it was the effects of the pot, but we both thought driving would be better than flying since we could take more of our stuff. Treb’s van would hold a lot of our junk, and how far could Ohio be—New York was only a few hours by plane, right? Jesus, how dumb could you get—it took us five days driving to get to Columbus!
I spotted Jay’s truck at the Lazarus end of the mall, and Trebor honked as we pulled up a couple spaces away. It was 7:30P.M. with some good daylight left, but Jay wanted to hit RadioShack for some things for his truck…so we followed the two of them in and watched as they looked at speaker wire. Trebor stopped him from getting the 10-foot spool, and going for the 25 just in case. “If you were going straight back from the radio, that would be enough—but it’s better to run under the dash to the side, then under the sills to the speakers…you can always cut off extra wire, rather than splice pieces together.” He also had Jay get electrical tape and a wire-stripper. “Now you’re set—you’ve done this before, right?”
When Jay shook his head, explaining his father’s restrictions on cutting holes in the truck, I watched my Scottish boyfriend lead Jay over to some other supplies. Mikey was trying to get me to tell him what we were doing later, but I just smiled at him and gave his arm a little punch. “Not much of a surprise if I tell you, now is it?” We planned on showing them a little bit of our campus neighborhood, and then heading up to the movie theater around 11:30, where we’d get some popcorn and soda. After that, we’d crash back at our dorm room in Taylor Tower. When we got up Saturday morning, we’d buy them breakfast, and hang out for a bit before following them back to Jay’s house for the afternoon. I’d already told Treb not to let on to Mikey that we were going to have dinner out there tomorrow…it was another surprise for Mikey.
“Damn, Treb…did you buy out the whole store?” Mikey looked to see our boyfriends coming out with several bags. Sure enough, a look in my red-head’s bag revealed a supply of cassette tapes, a new set of headphones for our stereo, and a set of dubbing cables. Trebor was determined to transfer all his eight-track collection onto cassettes, and this was the last thing he needed in order to do that.
By the time we got onto 70 West to go home, it was after eight, and by the time we got off 71 to head over to his relative’s house on East Northwood, it was getting dark. We pulled up behind the frame Victorian, and Jay took the spot right next to us. The only light was from the alley’s tall pole a few houses down, so we walked the alley until we got to the cross-street and took that down to Northwood, then turned right to head to campus. On either side, we passed brick two-storey houses with big trees hanging over the sidewalk, and lights coming from living room windows and a few front porches. Two blocks later, we were on High Street, the main road through Columbus and OSU’s major business area. It was full of restaurants, little shops and the two main campus bookstores—Long’s and SBX. Rather than cross High Street to go to our dorm on West Lane, we continued south, passing Arby’s and the Shell station on our left, and I pointed to our dorm as we crossed Lane. “That’s our dorm—Taylor Tower—you can’t miss it since it’s the biggest thing at this intersection.”
Trebor motioned further south where some of our favorite hang-outs were. “We thought we’d show you the best spots to kill some time—a block down is a great bar called Larry’s—a lot of artsy types go there. They do poetry readings some nights, and a lot of students stay away because it’s supposed to be a gay bar.”
I laughed when our friends’ mouths dropped open, and clapped them on the shoulders. “Don’t worry…it’s just a regular bar, but they keep the rumor going so the jocks and a lot of drunken freshmen don’t take over. They have decent food too. It’s been a North Campus staple for more than forty years.”
There were a good number of students on the sidewalk, some in small groups, most of them alone or in pairs. We passed Donato’s Pizza and Buckeye Donuts just before we came to the green façade of our destination. “Just act cool, and you’ll be fine,” Trebor said before we went in the left-hand door. We guided our friends to a booth along the right hand wall, and I went up to the bar. Trebor and I had been here often enough to know the menu by heart, so I asked for four cokes and a basket of mozzarella sticks. Since it wasn’t busy yet, I handed over the money and went back to our seats. Only a quarter of the tables and booths were occupied, so the air was still fairly smoke-free—that would change, as most people showed up around eleven. We’d be gone by then.
Jay and Mikey were pretty quiet for a while, taking in the dark wood decorations, the artwork on the walls, and eyeing the customers as they came in. There were people dressed as hippies, bikers, even some in flannel shirts and jeans…but most were like other students in jeans and a crazy assortment of tee-shirts and button-up shirts. The buzz of conversation grew as we sipped our sodas, and a couple of songs played on the juke-box before our snack arrived. “Eat up, guys—these are some of the best cheese sticks in town.”
The bar started to fill up as we were eating the last pieces of fried cheese, and cigarette and cigar smoke was starting to thicken too, so I suggested we head out. It was obvious to us that Mikey and Jay didn’t like the acrid fumes that we had grown accustomed to in the last eight months on campus. There was no place you could go to avoid smokers unless it was somebody’s apartment or dorm room—and only then if the people insisted on enforcing their no smoking rule. We looked in the big window of the donut shop next door as we passed, seeing only a couple customers nursing cups of coffee and a donut at the U-shaped counter. That would change as the bars emptied—a lot of drunk or semi-drunk kids wanted a sugar fix before heading home to pass out.
Ten minutes later, we were in the Mystery Machine heading north on High Street toward Graceland Shopping Center and our friends’ first exposure to what was rapidly becoming a cult phenomenon among college kids—the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Trebor and I first saw it shortly after it came out, and had gone to see it nearly every month since then in San Francisco, and now we were doing the same thing here in Columbus. Back home, a few people would come armed with a few props to use during the film, like lighters and newspapers, but I’d only seen one or two wearing any sort of costume. In Columbus, there wasn’t any of that yet…rumor even had it that a theater in New York had people shouting things back at the screen during pauses, but that hadn’t hit California either, much less Ohio.
We were early getting to the theater and had about half an hour before we could reasonably go in…so we joined Jay and Mikey in the back of the van like we had Saturday night, and relaxed on the mattress. We talked about OSU’s gay scene, and I told them about the Gay Activists’ Alliance, a group who advocated equal rights for our kind, and the abolition of police harassment and discrimination. “The group tries to stage protests and things, but we’ve noticed they aren’t big on social gatherings like dances or parties, so I think a lot of the gay kids who might otherwise go to meetings, stay home or go to the bars downtown. A lot of us aren’t ready to be part of a big public scene, so Treb and I have only gone to a few meetings where there were good guest speakers. OSU is making big strides, but Columbus is lagging far behind.”
I saw Trebor look at his watch, which was our signal it was almost time to get our tickets, so I finished up with a comment about the movie we were about to see. “It’s a science-fiction story, sort of…a musical, sort of…and one thousand percent weird. It came out last year, but was a failure until smaller theaters ran it late at night—it caught on quick with college-age kids and other people who like to live on the edge of society. Whatever you think you know about being daring, you’ll see this goes beyond that. It’s funny, twisted, and a blast. Let’s go!”
As we climbed out of the van, putting our shoes back on as we did, I told our friends to put their jackets on since it was colder in the wide-open parking lot than it had been on campus. Trebor grinned at me while we watched our friends, and then we walked together to the theater’s entrance. A few people were going in, and I grinned when they stared at us—well, more at Mikey really—and by the time we were halfway to the ticket counter, there were more stares and even some whispers. Next to the ticket counter were two posters of scenes from the movie, one of a big red mouth, the other a montage of faces with Frank N. Furter’s being the largest in the center. Trebor was buying our tickets when a guy who was clearly still in high school came up to Mikey.
“Holy crap, you’re Brad Majors!”
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Original chapter with pictures at GayAuthors.org/Jay & Miles
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