SUMMARY: At a time of national turmoil, the lives of four boys become connected as each struggles to accept his sexuality and to address the challenges he faces in life. To the extent the boys succeed in coming to grips with those challenges, it may be in ways that prove surprising or troubling. This story is also being published on my blog and you can find a longer synopsis there. While some events, locations and features in the story have been moved forward or back in time for dramatic and other purposes, it takes place during an era when prejudice against homosexuals is rampant and the gay revolution in America is still in its infancy. Italics are typically used within the story to indicate what a character is thinking or saying to himself. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.
WARNING: Sex is not the primary focus of this story. If you're looking for erotic content, you'll do much better with other stories on Nifty. While sexual content is secondary and incidental, the story does include some scenes that depict sex and violence, sometimes graphically depending upon the characters and circumstances involved. For that reason, the story is intended for mature audiences only. If you do not wish to read such material or it is illegal for you to do so, please look elsewhere. The story remains the property of the author and may not be reproduced in any form without written permission. It is protected by the copyright laws of the United States and other countries. You may download a single copy to read offline and to share with others as long as you credit me as the author, but you may not use this work for commercial purposes. You may not use any of the characters, bars or other fictional locations described in the story in your own work without my explicit permission. Nor may you use, alter, transform, or build upon this story in any way.
AUTHOR NOTES: This is my first effort at writing a story. As a general rule, I only plan to publish one chapter a week, usually on Thursdays. This story may or may not be moved to a different section than this one in the near future, but I can't tell you where or when because I don't make those decisions. If you don't find it here, you'll have to look around for yourself. The latest chapter will always be posted on my blog before being published here. You may want to bookmark the location of my blog in the event you cannot find the story here at some point in the future and you wish to continue reading it: https://cafepalermoannex.wordpress.com. As always, comments and constructive criticism are welcome. Flames will be ignored. If you would like to let me know what you think, feel free to contact me at email@example.com. Thanks for reading the story. I hope you enjoy it.
THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER: In Chapter 26, Tommy is surprised to learn just how well-endowed Danny is when he wakes up. After breakfast, the two boys head over to the bus station to retrieve Tommy’s duffel bag. Tommy learns just how little he knows about life in the big city when he is approached by a black dude named Percy who tries to sell him some marijuana. After bargaining the price down and just as he is about to fork over his money, Danny comes to his rescue. He explains that Tommy is buying catnip disguised as marijuana and needs to be cautious of the people hanging around the bus station. Danny and Tommy bring his duffel bag back over to Ray’s place. Then they go over to the local McDonald’s. Danny explains to Tommy why getting a regular job won’t really work for him and encourages him to go back to Vermont, but Tommy resists. After that Danny explains the main options available to Tommy. He can try to find himself a sugar daddy to take care of all of his needs or he can hustle like Danny and the rest of the boys who hang out at the CafĂ... Palermo. Faced with that choice, Tommy says he needs more time to make up his mind, but admits he is leaning toward hustling.
Part III - Desperation, Degradation and Despair
The next couple of days just kind of ran together as Danny introduced me to Washington and its gay scene. Ray had agreed to let me stay at his apartment for a week or two so I wasn’t under any immediate pressure to move out of the place. That provided some time for me to think about things. It also gave Danny time to show me what hustling involved.
At first we just spent a lot of time together hanging around the Palermo. That allowed me to observe the whole scene up close. But since I wasn’t actually hustling, it also allowed me to maintain some distance from it as well. Danny introduced me to the other boys and to a lot of the regulars as well. The boys seemed nice enough. Unlike the boys back in Vermont, none of them made fun of me or seemed interested in beating me up either.
As best I could tell, most of them weren’t much different from me. There were a lot of runaways, kids tossed out of their homes by their parents or just running from something bad like I was. Others were from the area, mostly the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Some of them were into it full time like I was thinking of doing. Others only showed up on the weekends in search of some extra cash.
Some were younger, some older, but all of them were white, as were almost all of the customers. Danny told me the blacks had their own bars and boys, but occasionally a black dude would show up at the Palermo looking for some action. Most of the boys didn’t care as long as their money was green, but there were some who refused to service black dudes. I guess it offended their moral sensibilities.
There weren’t that many blacks in Vermont, but I had never had any problem with them and that remained true in Washington. I mean, the funny thing is, Percy used to drop by the place from time to time and it wasn’t long before we became the best of friends. He was actually a pretty cool dude and eventually became my marijuana dealer. We used to kid about that given our initial run in, but the stuff he provided once we became friends wasn’t no catnip. He knew the good stuff from the bad and he charged a fair price.
When we weren’t hanging out at the Palermo, Danny showed me around the neighborhood, including a lot of different places where I could take customers to service their needs. You needed to know some spots like that if they didn’t have a car or some other place to take you, and weren’t willing to rent one of the rooms at Traveler’s Landing. That was the hotel above the Palermo where you could rent a room by the hour. Some guys were too cheap to do that.
There were the restrooms at the bus stations, of course. It turned out that there were actually two bus stations on opposite sides of New York Avenue. To be honest, I can’t say that the restrooms in either of them were especially appealing and you had to be on the lookout all the time for the cops who periodically raided the places. There were also any number of parks, alleys, and other hideaways where you could do stuff if need be. Danny explained their advantages and disadvantages dispassionately, mostly their disadvantages.
He also explained lots of small details I would never have even thought of myself and brought me by the Free Clinic where I could get most of the medical services I would need for free. He talked to me about what to do if I got the clap. It took a little while to figure out that the clap was slang for gonorrhea.
“It’s an occupational hazard,” Danny said, shrugging his shoulders. “That and syphilis and AIDS and a lot of other bad stuff too.”
He gave me a lesson on how to check out the guys I would be going with for STDs and some of the more obvious symptoms. Then he handed me a card he had written out for me with the names of a couple of local doctors who could be counted on to keep a secret.
Learning all of this stuff showed me just how nasty hustling could be and there were times when I wondered whether I could really go through with it. But I couldn’t come up with a better alternative no matter how hard I thought about things. I also knew Danny was trying real hard to help me make the best of a bad situation.
The evenings were a little more fun. Danny took me on a tour of the different gay bars and clubs in Washington. I remember being astonished at just how many of them there were. To the west, over in Georgetown, there was Purple Passion. It catered to guys trying to avoid neighborhoods they considered less safe, which was most of the neighborhoods where the gay bars were located. Still, for being in such an upscale part of Washington, Purple Passion was a dump, especially compared to the big dance bars over in southeast Washington that catered to people with money, power or both.
There were quite a few bars over there, but the two main ones were the Hide and Seek and The Pier. They were kind of amazing actually, especially the Hide and Seek. They had big dance floors, multiple bars and fantastic lighting systems that could set any mood you wanted. The crowds were mostly gay, but there were enough girls around on most evenings to provide suitable cover for all the guys still in the closet who didn’t want to advertise their sexual inclinations.
Danny told me those places didn’t like boys like us hanging around most of the time. They didn’t want to deal with all the problems underage kids brought; and they definitely didn’t want to deal with the cops. When business was slow, especially on Mondays and Tuesdays, they were a little more welcoming. But the truth is those bars were more places you would go to with someone who was renting your services, not someplace you would go on your own; at least that’s what Danny told me.
There were other places in southeast that were more welcoming, of course, places like Exposed, the biggest gay bathhouse in Washington; Revelations, where the drag queens liked to hang out; and Head and Tails, which featured young, semi-naked, dancers and a hell of a lot more. All three of those places liked young boys just fine because we were good for business and they didn’t mind sharing some of their profits with the cops.
Then there was the cluster of three bars stacked on top of one another over by the FBI building on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and Capitol Hill: Hidden Treasures, Forbidden Pleasures, and Phil’s, which I later learned was owned by some guy not named Phil. I guess the location surprised me and I was even more surprised when Danny told me that cops were among their very best customers.
Not too far up 9th Street was Outlaws, which catered to the leather and S&M crowd; and Exiles and Castaways, which was on the opposite side of the street and one block up at the corner of 9th and New York Avenue.
Because it had a small dance floor, Exiles and Castaways was popular on the weekends with boys who were taking a break from work at the Palermo. A lot of the dudes from Outlaws also liked taking a break there as well. They could get their fill of eye candy without the stigma that came from actually visiting the Palermo. Around closing time on the weekends, they mobbed the place, hoping to score for free with boys in need of a place to stay overnight.
“Jeez,” I remember asking Danny. “How can all these places possibly stay in business? There can’t be that many queers in this town, can there?”
“There are more of us than you think,” he replied, shrugging his shoulders, “a lot more. And that don’t even take into account all the married guys whose sweeties won’t go down on them or who like boy pussy as much, if not more, than girl pussy.”
When Danny wasn’t bringing me up to speed on the town or hanging around the Palermo, we were back at Ray’s place where he was tutoring me on all the different situations I might run into if I decided to open up shop.
“What’s the first thing you do when you walk into some strange place a dude has taken you to?” he might ask, for example.
“I dunno” was my usual response to whatever the question happened to be.
So then Danny would teach me what I needed to know: how I needed to check out all of the possible escape routes from the place if things went bad, all of the things I could pick up and use to defend myself if the guy suddenly turned nasty. It wasn’t just different situations, of course. As I already mentioned, Danny explained to me how to check out a guy for any signs of STDs, how to check him over for exposed sores or wounds.
But mostly what Danny did was to show me how to sell myself as a desirable commodity while also protecting myself. Because no matter how young or good looking you were, the secret to hustling was selling yourself to the johns as exactly what they were looking for within whatever limits you set for yourself.
Some of them were into little boys so the key was to be able to make them believe you were younger than you actually were. Some of them wanted to delude themselves into thinking you were actually 18 and that required a whole different approach. Some of them just wanted you to talk to them or keep them company at the bar. And some of them wanted you to do stuff that was really dangerous, like taking it bareback.
Danny was careful to explain all of the different things they might be looking for and helping me decide my limits. Some of the stuff he talked about was pretty gross to be honest. I mean, I wouldn’t have thought of some of those things in a million years on my own. I wondered how people could do stuff like that.
“Different strokes for different folks,” was all Danny said, shrugging his shoulders.
It was amazing how much you had to know and I was thankful to Danny for taking the time to spell it all out. By then I was pretty sure he was sweet on me. I suppose that’s why he would occasionally mention there was still time for me to go back to Vermont. But I think he knew I wasn’t planning to do that. It would have meant admitting I had made a mistake and I was kind of hard-headed back then.
One evening we even got into role playing, with Danny playing the john and me playing the hustler. We spent a couple of hours at that, with Danny explaining the kinds of things I should say to make customers feel good about themselves and comfortable with me; how I should handle things when a dude turned nasty all of a sudden; and how to hold my ground when they offered me more money if I would just do this, that, or the other thing for them that I really didn’t want to do.
When the lesson was over, Danny suggested we go for a walk.
“I bought some pot from Percy last night,” he said. “Ray doesn’t allow me to smoke in my room, but it’s nice out tonight. I know a place we can go where no one will bother us.”
I was happy about that. It had been a while since I had last smoked and I knew it would take my mind off of things. Eventually we got to a little park off of the beaten path and we started sharing the joints Danny had rolled. Later, when we were high, we went back to Ray’s place.
I was in a really good mood by then and decided to thank Danny for all he had done for me by giving him a kiss. Being sweet on me, I knew he would like that. But I liked it too. Then one thing led to another and it wasn’t long before the two of us were naked and making out passionately on his bed and giggling like crazy.
“Do you want this to be part of the course?” Danny asked, coming up for a breath and smiling at me.
“I could probably show you some things that work pretty well with the customers, at least in my experience. Or you could do me and I could offer some suggestions for how to improve your technique.”
If he had said something like that the first evening I arrived, I would have been out of that place in a flash. But I knew he had lost money with all the time he was spending with me trying to help me out. And, like I said, I was pretty sure he was sweet on me, which was okay with me too. By then I liked Danny a lot. I knew he really cared about me and I was kind of fantasizing that maybe the two of us would become best friends without me actually having to hustle.
“No more course work tonight, teach,” I responded, smiling at him. “School is out. It’s time for some fun.”
“Starting right now,” I added, jumping on top of him and trying to tickle him.
It turned out Danny was really ticklish and he started laughing like crazy and then we started wrestling on the bed and it went back and forth. First, I would have the upper hand and decide he needed to be punished for being a bad boy. So I would give him a little peck on his lips as his punishment.
Then Danny would pin me down to the bed with my arms above my head and kiss me on my neck or shoulders as my punishment. It went on that way for a long time because I think both of us really liked being punished. And then Danny pushed his tongue into my mouth and, well, I liked it and decided to explore his mouth with my tongue.
I guess I don’t need to draw no picture. We just had some fun together that evening and I still ended up learning a hell of a lot in the process because Danny knew what he was doing in bed. Of course, one of the things I learned was that Danny was definitely a mouthful. When we were done and just resting there together in bed, I looked over at him.
“Can I ask you something, Danny?”
“Sure,” he replied. “Whatever you want.”
“When you’re hustling, do you charge by the inch or the pound?” I asked, grinning at him.
Danny started laughing again and gave me a kiss on the forehead. I liked that. It was the best kiss I had ever gotten from anyone up until then and it made me feel good.
When we went to bed most evenings, Danny would spoon up behind and wrap his arms around me. Like I mentioned, he was really big and I could feel it harden and brush against my butt from time to time. I knew he wanted to do it to me real bad. But he also knew he would rip me up if he did and never made any effort to take it further. I was grateful for that because I didn’t want to say no.
It was a couple of days later when Danny broached the subject one morning after the two of us woke up.
“Ray’s been asking when you plan to move out,” he said. “If you need more time, I’ll try to see what I can do. But you’re as ready as you’re ever going to be, Tommy.”
I remember taking a deep breath when he said it. I knew he was right. Knowing that didn’t make it any easier though.
“Okay,” I finally responded, nothing more. He knew what I was telling him.
“Listen, Tommy,” Danny continued. “I’ve said it before and I know you don’t want to hear it so I won’t say it again. But promise me you’ll think about it one more time. Please?”
We spent most of that day doing some fun things together, just the two of us. I was glad about that. And I did think about it.
What had it been? Five days? Ten? It just seemed like Vermont had been so long ago. I could hardly even remember the place. There was nothing for me in Vermont. I mean, yeah, sure, there was Josh I suppose. But Josh had a boyfriend, the kind of boyfriend he really deserved. And what were the chances it could ever work out even if I was wrong about that, with him at college and me in some juvenile facility?
No, there was nothing waiting for me in Vermont, nothing to go back for. I didn’t know whether there would ever be anything for me in Washington. But I figured I should try to find out.
We talked things through one more time after dinner before finally heading over to the Palermo.
Danny found us a choice position right near the door and the two of us leaned backed against what everyone called the Wall. My legs were shaking by then, but I didn’t say anything. When you were at the Wall, there wasn’t a lot of small talk exchanged among the boys. Everyone tried to stay focused.
“Are you okay?” Danny whispered to me at one point.
“Yeah,” I lied.
I kept thinking I should bolt as fast as I could. But I had nowhere to run anymore.
“Don’t forget to demand the premium I mentioned,” Danny whispered to me a bit later on. “You’re the new boy in town, Tommy. Fresh meat carries a premium. Plus you’re a virgin, at least until the trolls finally figure out you’re not. Until they do, every guy you go with is popping your cherry for the very first time and popping your cherry costs extra,” he added.
By then I was praying no one would show up; or if they did show up, they would pick someone else. But what if they picked me?
“You’ll have a better time with one of the other boys,” I remember thinking I would tell him once I got him aside. “I’m not nearly as good as they are.”
“And don’t get discouraged if you don’t make very much tonight,” Danny interrupted, trying to reassure me. “It’s only Tuesday. Business is always slow on Mondays and Tuesdays. The real money is made on Fridays and Saturdays.”
The thing is, up until then it had been kind of a game, something I could play along with because I liked hanging around with Danny and it wasn’t for real. But now it was about to become real and I wondered if it was something I was ready for, something I could really do.
I wanted to tell Danny I needed more time. But, the thing is, I knew he had already spent more time than he should have helping me out. I didn’t want to disappoint him by chickening out at the last minute and showing him what a baby I was. I wanted to show him I was tough, just like he was.
There weren’t a lot of dudes around that evening, but they seemed to zero in on me whenever they did show up. Some of them wanted me to do stuff I had already ruled out and I was grateful for that because then I could say no. But I knew my luck wouldn’t hold.
The first two were uneventful enough. I don’t even remember what they looked like. We agreed on a price and location pretty quickly. They weren’t looking for anything special. The whole thing took five or ten minutes, fifteen maximum; $25 each plus a $5 premium.
I’m not going to tell you it was something I was proud of or liked doing. I didn’t. Still, as I thought about it back at the Palermo while waiting for another customer, it didn’t seem as hard as Danny had made it out to me.
It ain’t the greatest job in the world, I suppose, but I can do this I reassured myself.
The third guy was different. He had seemed nice enough when he talked to me and we had talked about a lot of different possibilities. When we came to an agreement, he took me upstairs to the room he had rented at Traveler’s Landing. After we went inside, he handed me the money, then the two of us stripped off our clothes. He had thrown in an extra $10 bucks for me taking off all of my clothes.
It was only then that things started to change.
“Okay, you little cocksucker, get down on those knees of yours and let me show you the difference between a man and a boy,” he commanded, his voice suddenly turning harsher and more menacing.
It made me tense up. I wondered if he was going to get violent. I remember looking around the room to see the quickest way out, but it was scary because I was naked and down on my knees. Being naked like that, what would I do even if I could get out of the room?
In the end, the guy didn’t get violent, at least physically violent. He just continued getting nastier and nastier with that filthy mouth of his.
“Suck it, you little queer,” he said, pressing his cock roughly against my mouth. “You know you like sucking cock, you little fairy, especially a real man’s cock, don’t you?”
I tried to do what Danny had taught me. I started saying nasty things about myself because I figured he would like that.
“You’re right, Mister,” I said, “I’m a sad ass little faggot, not a real man like you.”
I’m not sure I said exactly the right things, but the words seemed to turn him on. I could tell he liked hearing me say stuff like that.
“You’re right about that, pussy boy,” he said, smiling at me. “You sure you don’t want that little pussy of yours serviced by a real man. I know it would be a real thrill for a little girl like you and I’ve got an extra $50 here that would buy you a lot of frilly bras and panties, bitch.”
I couldn’t believe it. The fucking asshole was even trying to low ball me on the price. I wanted to tell him where he could shove his fifty bucks, but I didn’t.
I tried to ignore all of the insults. I tried not to think about anything at all while I did him. Then, without warning, the guy pulled out of my mouth and shot all over my face.
It came as a total surprise and stunned me. I mean, we had agreed he could get off twice. We hadn’t talked about this, however. But I could tell he enjoyed what he had done even more than what I had been expecting.
“That’s the perfect look for a faggot like you, pretty boy,” he said, taunting me.
“Your face looks real good covered like that.”
By now he was laughing at me and that was the worst thing of all, being laughed at.
I was mad and embarrassed and ashamed of myself all at once, and it went on like that until he finally got off in my mouth for his second time.
When it was over, I used my briefs to wipe off my face as best I could and dressed quickly. Then I turned and smiled at the dude.
“Thanks, Mister,” I said, forcing the words out of my mouth like Danny had taught me. “You’re a really hot dude. That was the best. Maybe I’ll see you around again soon.”
I started walking down the stairs to the Palermo, then just stopped and punched the wall as hard as I could. It didn’t do much to the wall, but my hand started throbbing from the pain.
By the time I got back downstairs I was steaming. I told Danny what had happened and how mad it had made me, but he didn’t say anything. He just looked away.
“It’s getting late and things are slow,” he eventually said when he finally looked over at me again. “Let’s pack it in for the evening.”
Neither of us said anything on the walk back to Ray’s place. I had been stashing the money in my shoe. When we got there, Danny and I sat down at the kitchen table and I counted it out. It came to $135, more money than I had ever seen before in my life.
I was just sitting there staring at it when my stomach felt kind of queasy. I raced to the bathroom and started throwing up like crazy.
Danny gave me a couple of minutes in there alone by myself. Then he came in.
“Here,” he said, handing me the bottle of mouthwash. “I bought this for you. It’ll help.”
I guess maybe it did, but I still had a bad taste in my mouth when we climbed into bed that evening. I felt totally humiliated and was angrier than ever; and try as hard as I could, I couldn’t fall asleep for the life of me. I kept replaying everything that had happened in that hotel room over and over in my mind, tossing and turning.
“I guess this would be as good a time as any for you to do it,” Danny finally said, rolling over and staring at me.
“Do what?” I asked.
“Fuck me,” Danny replied. “Have you ever fucked a guy before?”
“No,” I responded. “And as much as I appreciate the offer, I can’t do that. I mean, I really like you, Danny. You’re my best friend. You’ve done a lot more for me than anyone else ever has. But, the thing is, I just could never return the favor. I’m really sorry. I just can’t.”
“I know that,” Danny replied. “It don’t matter. It’s not like I’m a virgin that way or you’ll be my first. And it ain’t like I’ve never heard that excuse before either. Everyone thinks having a big dick must be just the greatest thing in the world. But when it comes to taking one as big as mine up their ass, there ain’t no volunteers, Tommy. Not a one. So you’re not special that way either.”
“You know where the lube and the condoms are,” he added, in a matter of fact tone, turning away.
I hesitated momentarily, then got out of bed and walked across to the bathroom where I retrieved the stuff.
When I got back to the bedroom, Danny was down on his hands and knees, facing away from me.
There was a part of me that didn’t want to do it. I mean, Danny was my very best friend. He had done a lot for me and it just didn’t seem right somehow. But I was selfish that night so I did it to him and I liked it. I liked it a lot, a lot more than I had with Jean Marie.
Later on I would remember being sorry about the whole thing in lots of ways. I mean, at first I tried to be gentle and to make it good for him. But once I finally got mounted and started pumping, I kind of lost all control. All I could see was me down on my knees being taunted by that son of a bitch at the hotel. It brought back all of the anger and rage. I never even realized exactly how hard I was pounding Danny that evening until he told me months later he had almost asked me to stop it was hurting so much.
When it was finally over, I fell asleep, exhausted. I guess I was still ashamed of myself, still embarrassed and humiliated. But somehow a lot of the anger was gone. Mostly I just remember being confused.
The thing is, I had run away from Vermont because it seemed like the only way I could ever get control of my life. If I had stayed, other people would have been making all of the decisions for me and I didn’t want to put up with that anymore because none of them cared about me, really cared. But now here I was in Washington and I wondered if anything had changed.
I mean, survival is a powerful instinct and I wanted to survive. I knew that I needed money if I was going to survive. But right then, at that moment, it seemed like others were dictating the terms of my survival. How much control did I really have after all?
He never said it exactly, but I think that’s why Danny let me do it to him that evening. He knew exactly how I was feeling and wanted to give me back some sense I was in control of things.
I appreciated that, I really did; and I promised myself right then that, whatever else happened, I was going to get control of my life once and for all and as fast as I could. And once I did, no one was ever going to take control away from me again. I was the one who was going to be making the decisions. I was the one who was going to be in control. I was the one who was going to be giving the orders.
I was the one who was going to take care of myself.
There was no one else I could count on.
Note to the reader: My reward for providing this story free of charge is the hope it provides that people can still make a difference. While I’ve never asked anything from you as readers, I am going to ask you to read this post and to think hard about what you can do to help because everyone can do something, usually more than they think. It’s not very long and I can’t make you read it, but I would appreciate it very much. Thanks.