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Aside from all manner of homosexual behavior, I have one additional warning. There is occasional mention of drug use characteristic of the time period. I promise that it is only incidental here and there and not constant. It was not included to proselytize but only for the sake of authenticity.
Addendum: The chronology pertaining to the first world war is fairly accurate in terms of days and dates.
“New York 1912” by Larkin all rights reserved
Continued upon request:
jet2larkin at Jeemale dot kom---- (reinterpret)
1916, Billy's emergence:
So as not to bore you with my life during periods of domesticity, I have reserved my diary entries for exceptional events.
Billy was in his sophomore year at St Paul's and on this day, he brought a friend home. The boy's brown hair was carefully combed. Alvin Reed was as different from Billy as night and day. He was a senior due to graduate from St Paul's. He was taller than me, and dreadfully serious.
He shook my hand "It a pleasure to meet you Mr. Lowell."
It was when I turned to see an adoring expression on Billy's face. I suddenly realized that this was a teenage crush.
Mr. Reed as he liked to be called, was a football player and was very formal and formidable for a 17 year old. "Yes, I am enrolled in Columbia in the Fall, I plan to study law."
Remembering that it was where Billy wanted to go. Don't you mean Columbia College in Morningside Heights?"
"Yes, they changed its name to just Columbia."
He was also mature and manly, not looking at all like a student but instead like a fresh young adult returning from the barber shop. We shared a luncheon together where he told me all about himself and all his exploits and his family and his grades and his plans.
"I'd like to marry and I have a planned engagement but I don't think the girl is up to my families standards so I am afraid I may have to break it off."
I must confess that I did not like him at all, if fact, I hated the very sight of him. Billy sat next to him and seemed to hang on his every word.
I was confronted with a complex situation. There was my role as a father where a stranger has come to steal my child away and then do terrible things to my innocent boy. As with most fathers I must consider the mind and growing independence of his child and must let them go forth in the world and find their own way.
Seated at the table together, I watched the two boys carefully. I've already mentioned Billy's adoring gaze but I didn't sense any reciprocation from Mr. Reed. He was behaving like a man asking a father for the hand of his daughter, but I don't think that he was aware that that was what he was doing. Could it be unconscious actions guided by a very clever Billy and that he was just a guest for lunch who has unwittingly had fallen into a perverse parody.
Then there is my role as the lover and my response to this highly threatening situation.
Dramatically I thought to myself, "Mr. whatever the fuck your name is, You come into my house, eat my food and all the while you are planning to fuck my cherished boy!"
The jealousy was so hot I could taste it. If I had a pistol I might challenge the arrogant shit to a duel to the death.
I had to stop myself and consider what Billy wanted. I had no right to intrude or interfere. If he needs council, he will come to me. Idly, I tried to remember where I put that rusted pistol of mine.
"Edmund, I'm going to show Alvin around the house."
I sat expressionless looking down at an olive pit left on my plate. I couldn't follow them. I kept telling myself to relax.. From the hall, I saw them go into Billy's studio and close the door. I heard it latch. It was as if someone had stabbed me in the heart with a kitchen knife.
I pretended to read the paper but I kept reading the same line over and over and over to crowd out images of them naked together.
"Hundreds of innocent Belgium citizens murdered by German soldiers. Hundreds of innocent Belgium citizens murdered by German soldiers. Hundreds of innocent Belgium citizens murdered by German soldiers. Hundreds of innocent Belgium citizens murdered by Germans.”
I was blotting out the mental images of this rich and arrogant fucker soiling my precious Billy.
In personal reflection I said, Calm yourself Edmund. This is life, things like this happen.
That little aside didn't do a fucking thing! When I get a hold of Billy I am going to give him a bath in hot Clorox.
They were up there more for more than an hour until finally the door opened. A sheepish Mr. Reed shook my hand and fled out the front door.
Billy was beaming. He slipped his arm around my waist and said, "Your turn."
April 2, 1917:
A letter from Brazil arrived. It could only be from Myles' parents, the Koenig's. Apparently he had taken the position as undersecretary to the German ambassador to Brazil but there were no authentic names on the address on the letter. The letter had been opened and pasted shut. This was obviously done by a censor from the post office.
I guess we can expect this from now on because of the Zimmerman telegram had exposed Germany's efforts to provoke Mexico into to war against the US for the purpose of recovering the Western States. Because of this mishap, America may now actually enter the war.
When I opened it, I discovered that it could only have come from Myles. The method was to write 3 pages, both sides of the most tedious inane gossip and then bury substantive paragraphs here and there. The censor was either unskilled or overburdened. Myles was exceedingly clever because it got through.
There was nothing specific regarding the war or where he was or what he was doing. From other sources I am guessing that he might have been involved in the naval Battle of Jutland but that is just a guess.
The letter was strangely romantic which was not like Myles. He said that he longed for the times when we played forbidden games together and that he knew that it was not adult of think of these things.
Edmund, When all this is over, I am sure I will continue to live here and I will want you to bring the boys to visit. I am compelled to observe my responsibilities and every day is so uncertain and I do not know the future but when I am allowed to rest or to sleep, I dream of you and no one else.
L, MK (Myles Koenig)
I read the letter on Tuesday, by Friday, America had declared war of Germany.
February 2, 1918
Peter came through the front door. He was dressed in the uniform of US army infantry. He stopped short and saluted me. He was bursting with pride. But for me, it was a devastating shock and the realization hit me like a pile of bricks.
Under my breath I said, oh no. "Peter, when are you going?!"
He detected my anxious demeanor.
"I leave tonight, I didn't tell you because I didn't want all this womanly fuss your are doing now!"
I retreated because he was right and he could see that I was upset.
"For Christ sake's Edmund, I thought you'd be proud of me."
"I am, but it's so unexpected."
"Edmund, I'm from the gutter and now I am have an opportunity to do something with my life and my country. I am going off to defend America. How could I do anything better than that? This is important to me because it is what I must do to become a man."
All I could say was, "You haven't the slightest idea of how truly proud I am of you. Look at you in that uniform."
Billy came in with the box Kodak and took pictures. Peter was indeed proud, he saluted again to the camera.
"I know that you have honor and courage and that you would risk you life to save a comrade."
Regardless of how I felt about patriotism or the folly of war, I knew that I had to contain it and hide my apprehensions and instead be supportive and give him encouragement.
I know that Peter didn't like sentimentally but I had to put my arms around him. Billy came up and we formed our trio.
What is the matter with me, I started to cry. I have grown to love this boy so much.
"Is there is anything you need please let me know? If you had told me sooner I would have had emergency coins sewn into your clothes. Peter, I know that you don't like to write but please do it for me."
I tried to slow myself. "How are you getting there?"
He gave Billy his best smile. "Oh it's so stupid. I could have taken one of the ships out of New York but my orders are to take the train to Boston and I board from there."
The image of freezing black water and the Titanic and now the Lusitania came to me as if in a bad dream.
I couldn't think about it. "Can Billy and I go to see you off at the station?"
Peter came to me and we embraced. No, I'd rather we say good bye here.
He put his kitbag over his shoulder and I saw his back as he got into the carriage going to Penn Station. Billy and I both waved.
When his carriage pulled away, I broke down.
Continued upon request:
jet2larkin at Jeemale dot kom---- (reinterpret)