A Conversation With Carlton

by Rick Beck

Part 16

"What about Tommy?" Carlton asked. "How does he fit in."

"Tommy was the most innocent person I ever knew. There wasn't an evil bone in his body. He befriended me at a time when I was being humiliated daily. He wanted no more than to lighten my burden. He came to know me better than anyone knew me, but no one really knew me at all. I'd never let anyone get that close before," I said.

"Tommy came into my life between my parent's insanity, and the insanity of the society in which I lived," I said. "Tommy got a pass. He'd proved his value to me. Tommy escaped any and all judgments I'd formed. I'd made no exceptions before. I didn't need a friend, until Tommy became my friend."

"When my mentors betrayed me, Tommy stood at my side, enduring my pain with me. This time he couldn't lighten my burden, but he could remain at my side, until it was time to part, and he did."

"You made an exception? You bet your life on that exception," Carlton observed, reading between the lines.

"I didn't think of it that way, but that would describe it," I said. "Tommy was an exception and exceptional. No one in my first thirteen years wanted to know me."

"You are still friends today?" Carlton asked.

"We are," I said.

"How can you think about giving up your only friend?" Carlton asked.

"He has a family to protect. I've distanced myself from him, as I search for my identity, my place, people who are like me. Because of the nature of this society, he could be damaged if I do something that exposes me as being homosexual," I said. "I wouldn't take that risk."

"You love Tommy," Carlton said.

"Yes, as a brother, as a friend, he is the best of the best. He helped me survive, without knowing he was doing it. It's the reason why I need to protect him from who I am, who I may become. I won't hide. I'll do what I feel is necessary, and I'll survive the consequences. I am what I am, and society created me."

"You seem to have some idea that you will sooner or later be in conflict with this culture," Carlton said.

"I'm in conflict with this culture. Sooner of later, I'll pay a price for how I feel. If they make me suffer, I don't want anyone suffering with me," I said. "Especially the person who showed me more kindness than anyone else."

"You ended up in the same high school as Tommy," Carlton said.

"I did," I said.

"Considering that your parents moved into a different school system, how did you manage it?" Carlton asked.

"The one benefit of moving late in my 9th grade year of school, my parents didn't want to pull me out of school and have me starting over in a new school. My father dropped me off on his way to work, at six in the morning, and he would pick me up at five, on his way home," I said. "It gave us something we'd never had before."

"That made for a long day," Carlton said. "What did it give you?"

"It did, but it gave me time to figure out how I'd get to go to school where I wanted to go," I said.

"Being alone with my father for a few minutes in the morning, and an even longer period in the afternoon, had us doing a thing we'd never done before. We talked. At first it was good morning and good afternoon. That expanded to how are you? How'd your day go?"

"By the final week of the school year, I made my pitch. 'I've worked hard to get good grades, because I wanted to go out for the track team. My gym teacher asked me to go out for track. The school in the new school district doesn't have a track team. It doesn't seem fair that I've worked so hard to accomplish something, and now I can't go out for track.'"

"What did he say?" Carlton asked.

"Nothing. I didn't expect him to say anything. This was a matter he would run past my mother. She'd make the decision. She was delighted about my change into an excellent student. She'd be making the decision, because my mother called the shots."

"What did she say?" Carlton asked.

"This was a decision that would be made while I was in Florida. To mention it again would insure an immediate no. I asked once. My father heard what I said. I'd be told if I could go to the school I wanted to go to, once I came home from Florida, or I'd be told nothing, which would mean I couldn't go to that school."

"Strange," Carlton said. "Your parents were strange people."

"I went to Florida as per the summer plan. My aunt and uncle brought their fishing boat from California, through the Panama Canal, to Fort Walton Beach. I would work on the boat for the summer. There was a lot of work to be done on it, and we made a trip to Houston to pick up two marine engines for the boat. It was as far west as I'd ever been. I loved traveling. I didn't want to leave Florida, and I'd worked all summer with my uncle."

"Sounds like a real adventure. A lot of my family in the Philippines were fishermen," Carlton said.

"I loved the Gulf, being on the water. I loved Florida, and Fort Walton Beach was still a small town. Once again, the summer ended before I had my fill of my uncle's boat," I said.

"What was the answer about school?"

"My father told me just before we got home, 'I've talked to your mother about the school situation. We agree that you should be allowed to go to the school you want to go to. I'll drop you off in the morning on my way to work, and pick you up on my way home. We'll use Aunt Regina's address. She lives a few streets over from your friend's house," he said. "I'll drop you off at Aunt Regina's, and I'll pick you up at your friend's house."

"Yes!" I said loudly. My father hadn't seen an emotional outburst like that from me before.

"You got everything you wanted," Carlton said.

"I did," I said. "I wasn't in the habit of asking for anything. I believe that weighed on the decision."

"What would you have done if the answer was no?"

"I can answer that, because it's all I thought about that summer. I'd have hitchhiked back to Florida, and I would have gone to work on Uncle Eddie's fishing boat. I wasn't going to that new school. I'd made up my mind about that"

"You were doing so well academically. You'd have just dropped out?" Carlton asked.

"No, I wouldn't have dropped out. I'd have gotten up one morning and hitchhiked to Florida. I wouldn't have looked back."

"That's interesting," Carlton said.

"Tommy made my life worth living. No Tommy meant I would do it my way from then on,," I said.

"Your parents would have done what?" Carlton asked.

"Once they figured out where I went, they'd have called to get me back home. Once I refused, it would mostly be, 'Good riddance to bad rubbish.' They wouldn't have come after me."

"No college?" Carlton asked.

"I didn't work while I was in high school, and I was only there about half the time. I'd gone as far as I could go in 9th grade. I was convinced that no matter what I did, anyone who felt like it, could derail any effort I made. I didn't need it. I had no desire to sit in more classes, after I turned eighteen. I had no stomach to sit and listen to more teachers."

"You would become a better writer, if you go to college," he said.

"I'll have to rough it. There's no guarantee I'd have become a better writer by going to college. I only learned in certain conditions."

"I believe you'll find your future as a writer. You say you want to do things to help people like you, you can reach untold numbers of people like you as a writer, and there are very few gay stories being told. The only gay characters you see are seriously flawed, and always self destructive."

"It's possible I could decide to write, if conditions are right. I'm not sure how I write stories for people like me," I said.

"I'd think, it's a lot like writing any story. You develop a plot, and some characters, and they go through their paces. They are simply gay paces, instead of straight," Carlton said.

"You make it sound easy," I said.

"Do you know James Baldwin's work? He's a gay writer."

"No, I've never heard of him," I said. "Nothing about being gay has been put into words where I'm from. I've learned a little from gay men I've met. Frank Kameny is a gay man. He's on television from time to time. He sues the government every chance he gets. It is all about being gay, but no details are given. I think they put him on local TV for comic relief. Gay is not good where I'm from."

"I've heard of him. He's outspoken about being gay. Rumor has it, Langston Hughes is another gay writer. Both he and Baldwin are men of color," Carlton said.

"What color are they?" I asked.

"James is a blend of milk chocolate and darker chocolate. I've never seen Hughes. He died a couple of years ago," Carlton said.

He smiled.

"Baldwin is more current and he's certainly more outspoken. You need to read him."

"I'll keep that in mind," I said.

"I've listened to you talk for two hours. You are an expressive and passionate young man. While writing isn't on your mind at present, I think you are a writer. That's my opinion. Your story is compelling, and you know how to hold you audience, and you've done that before, when you were far less sophisticated than you are now."

"Thank you. I'm not ruling out writing, but I've got to earn a living, and writing takes up all my time, when I do it. Most stories I've written, I write in a couple of days. I dabble in poetry, but I'm not a poet. For me it's another way of playing with words. I don't really have a lot to write about at the moment. Everything is new now. I was trapped for eighteen years, and for only six of my years was I interacting with people, and then, only on a limited basis, because I never knew who I was, and what I did know about myself was unacceptable to everyone else. It didn't make me want to join up, wave the flag, and sing anthems. I'm still mostly a mystery, even to myself. I'm not sure that will ever change."

"I wish there was something I could say to you that would make a difference, but I know better. I've spent a lot of years wishing I had men in my life who I could share things with. This is the first time I've had a man I felt comfortable talking to, and listening to you has opened up a new way to think about my feelings for men. I have a better idea about my own thoughts, because I did listen to you."

"It's not like I open up to anyone about my past. It's not something I do around people I know. I appreciate your thoughts, and I will remember the things you've said, Carlton."

"I realize your protective cocoon was badly damaged, exposing you to the harshness of the world around you too soon. Somehow, you survived. You have an unusual way of looking at life, and you need to communicate with people, Rick. They'll listen to you. You have a way of cutting to the chase. It's hard to believe the boy before me has been so severely treated, and yet you emerged a beautiful butterfly, and you have a rainbow of thoughts and ideas about who you are, and what you were sent here to do."

"Once again you're moving into territory I don't know about. Most of what I've done involves following my nose," I said.

I stand by my original observation, you are an intelligent, perceptive young man. Nothing you've said changes my mind. If anything, the story you've told confirms it."

It was the kind of validation I craved, since I turned 12.

I couldn't be sure if I was fooling another adult or not, but I was an adult now. I was supposed to be more sure of myself.

And with that, the phone rang.

Carlton looked at the phone for three rings, and then he got up to answer it.

I knew who it was before a word was spoken.

It was Johnny.

Carlton instructed him to hail a cab, and to call back. He'd give the cabby instructions.

It took ten minutes for Johnny to call back, and Carlton gave the cabby his address, and he asked the cabby to come up with Johnny, and he'd pay him and include a nice gratuity for his trouble.

Carlton sat back down. He didn't speak for a minute, but he studied my face. It was obvious he had more to say, but I suspect he knew our time together was running out.

He had a proposal I'm sure he knew wasn't going to fly, but he wanted to try.

"You could stay tonight. I mean, you're safe here, and I'll take you to your car, after breakfast in the morning."

"No, Carlton. Johnny can be overpowering. I won't inflict him upon you. I've enjoyed talking to you. You know things about me no one else knows. You know my life for the first 12 years was a shit storm. It began turning around, slowly. I've grown up since then."

"You mentioned repairing things with your father. What did that look like? I'd like to end on a high note," he said.

"As I said, we talked while we spent time in the car. He became more like a father, after we talked. One day as my sophomore year in high school was coming to an end, my father told me his plan."

"'I'm going to buy a carry-all van. I need room for my tools, and I pick some fellows up on my way to the job. I'll give you this car, and we'll see to it you have your driver's license, once you turn sixteen.'"

"So, it got better for you," Carlton said.

"It did, and once I sat behind the wheel of the car, something took place inside my brain. I had this total focus, and it slowed down my brain. The constant rush of thoughts that drove my mind, came under control. I loved the peace and quiet of being in the car alone. Of course, as soon as I had a car, and gas money, I headed for Tommy's. We were now together even more, and I drove myself to and from school. I drove Tommy and his brothers too. I became useful to them. I wasn't simply hanging around Tommy's house every chance I got."

"That's why you take jobs as a driver. It makes sense," he said. "I drive to Long Island, and to New Hampshire to see my aunt. Traffic is a real problem in the northeast. "What about Tommy? There must be a way to keep his friendship. You need him."

"I do, but Tommy's married. He has a little girl. I think I said, he married his high school sweetheart, Bonnie. I was glad to see him find that kind of happiness. It makes it easier to back out of his life. One day he'll notice, I'm no longer around."

"Why. He's someone you trust," he said. "You can't walk away."

"I'm a gay man. Tommy has a new best friend. He has a family to protect. What kind of friend would I be if something ever happened that brought out that I'm gay. It would do him harm if we remain friends. I won't risk doing him harm. He has a good life, and he has been there for me since 8th grade. He never let me down, not once. I'm doing him a favor by distancing myself from him. It's hard, but I knew, while we were in school, this day had to come. I'd rather him be angry with me for letting him down, after he never let me down, rather than put him and his family life at risk. It is the best thing I can do for him. I want him to be angry with me. He has every right to be angry, and being angry will make it easier for him to let go. I'll miss his friendship, but he saved my life, and I can't ask for more. Truth be known, Carlton, the day I walked out of his life, the year they opened the new school, I knew we'd never be that close again. That was the gentle innocent friendship of youth, and the hard truth was, I would become dangerous to Tommy. I knew I'd need to give him up as I walked home that final day we were innocent school chums."

"You have a way of putting things that draws hard lines, where I never envisioned hard lines should be," Carlton said.

"Why not look Chase up and follow him to college?" I asked. "You could have picked up where you left off."

"No, that wasn't going to happen. Chase had his life, a girlfriend, baseball, and I had, well, I had Calderone Industries."

"You drew a hard line, when it was necessary. I do that try to limit any damage I might do," I said. "You let go of Chase for the same reason. It isn't fair, but it is necessary."

"I never looked at it that way. It's what I did at the time. There was no plan. I didn't expect to be caught in the act," Carlton said.

"Few of us consider that possibility, especially when we've finally found someone to share the most intimate of activities with," I said.

"He didn't come near me those last few days of school. I caught glimpses of him, and he caught a glimpse of me, because he was always going the other way. I didn't care for him treating me like I was a leper," Carlton said. "He was as traumatized as I was. There was suddenly someone out there that could ruin him. It was easier to go on without him, because he treated me like that."

"For me, it's someone acting hostile or angry with me. Raise your voice, and the next time you come home, I'll be gone. It's not easy getting close to me. It comes back to not trusting people," I said.

"Because the anger and hostility of your parents was so pervasive? Because they were always yelling at you?" Carlton asked. "You said that ended, after you started bringing home good grades"

"When you have no childhood, because of those things, the bad behavior might stop, but it never goes away. I lived inside myself until I was almost a teenager. My parents were in charge, but they only had control of me, when I was around them, and I was around them as little as possible. As I grew older, I was around them less and less. That's what my brother did. He never withdrew, he was more outgoing. As far back as I could remember, he was mostly gone from the house, except for being at the table at dinner time. It took me a lot longer to want to be out of the house." I said.

"Because they took your companions. Because they took your Teddy bears?" Carlton asked. "You didn't say why they did that."

"No, I didn't. The most traumatic event in my life, before Tommy and I were separated by the new junior high school, was losing my bears. They'd always been my Teddy bears, but without warning, my parents stole them and they probably destroyed them so I'd never get them back. We had a furnace in the basement, I knew if I went down and sifted through the ashes, I'd find four glass Teddy bear eyes."

"That's terrible. It's the cruelest things I've ever heard of. I can't imagine how you survived your childhood. Why did they take them?"

"I started getting up before my father got up. How I managed to wake up, I don't know, but I did. I got up, put dry sheets on my bed, and I put on fresh pajamas. I stuffed the wet bedclothes deep into the clothes hamper. I went back to bed. When my father came in to check us, I was magically dry," I said.

"So you'd stopped wetting the bed, as far as your father was concerned," Carlton said.

"For a week, I watched my brother being beaten and yelled at, and I escaped it. That was my plan. I simply wanted to be the good little boy my parents wanted, but watching my brother get beat, knowing I deserved to be beaten, made the victory hollow, and my brother was getting extra, because his little brother stopped wetting,"

"That had to be as bad as getting the beating," Carlton said.

"It was worse, and after a week of being a good little boy, I stopped getting up early. I went back to being punished along side my brother. Being beaten was easier than watching my brother get a beating. It was a relief, not to be lying any longer. I was making my parents think that I was going dry, when I wasn't. It was wrong."

"You were due extra punishment, because you stopped wetting for a week, and then you started wetting again," Carlton said.

"Exactly. A few days later, I came home from school and my Teddy bears were gone, and that's when I started staying out of the house. I learned a very important lesson from that. 'What a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive.'"

"I really don't know how you survived<" Carlton said.

"I'll tell you the stupid part of my plan. We were living in my Aunt Mildred's house at the time I was deceiving my parents. She did the laundry every day, because we wet the bed every night. When I was stuffing my wet bedclothes deep into the hamper, she was pulling them out a few hours later, doing laundry, and hanging two sets of we sheets on the line. She heard the talk at the dinner table, about how good I was, because I stopped wetting the bed. She never said a word. After I was grown, and I was visiting her, I asked, "Aunt Mildred, do you remember the time when I stopped wetting the bed for a week?"

"I remember," she said.

"Why didn't you tell on me. You knew I hadn't stopped wetting the bed, You washed my wet sheets every day?"

"You boys caught enough hell. I wasn't bringing more down on you," she said.

"Someone knew and didn't say anything. Kind of restores my faith in the goodness of some people," Carlton said. "What I don't understand, you aren't mean as a junkyard dog. I knew kids at school, who had seriously disturbed parents. They were the God awfullest kids I ever knew," Carlton said. "How'd you escape that?"

"I suppose I was kind enough, and gentle enough, there was no way for me to be mean. I understand that once I turned 18, it was on me. No matter what I did, or didn't do, it was up to me. I understand that, and I've never wanted to do bad things or hurt anyone. I really had little to do with why I am like I am. I just am," I said.

"What I do know, I was sent guardian angels to protect me, and Tommy was sent to me with a family and unconditional friendship. Tommy was there for me, no matter what crazy things I did."

"You did crazy things," Carlton asked.

"I probably was crazy. I didn't know anything about being around people. I had to learn as I went along, and people confuse me to this day. Having that kind of childhood, how could I escape being crazy?me stupid stuff. Tommy was always there, and he never said, 'You're one crazy son-of-a-bitch, Dickie. He had to wonder at times."

"No, the picture of Tommy I get, tells me he would about that."

"My guardian angels and Tommy gave me what I needed to get my life in gear, so I had some kind of future. I was never going to do my best to fit into society. They hated me, and I wasn't fond of them. I did what I had to do. I wasn't indoctrinated. I didn't want to be part of the flag waving, militaristic, materialistic, society that was put in place to assure the power of rich old white men. Rather than be part of it, I stayed an arms length from people who were part of it."

"I would do anything for them. I'd lay down in traffic for them."

"I have no doubt they took stories about you home with them," Carlton said.

"I hope they did. I hope they were proud of what they were doing. I know Mr. Q was. It was written all over his face, each time I did something he showed me how to do properly, and he beamed when I shined. Mr. Warnock offered me a few smiles. He wasn't a man given to displays of emotion. A simple smile and a nod made my heart skip a beat. It said what I needed to know."

"You came a long way from being a seriously withdrawn child."

"I've been alive in this world, for ten years. I don't count the first twelve years, because I wasn't living. I was alive. I have learned that there are too many hateful people, Carlton. I didn't ask them for anything. I steer clear of them. I get that they don't like me, but they claim to be following Jesus Christ. I don't recall Jesus hating anyone. He said, "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

"You are religious," Carlton said.

"No, I'm not religious. Their volume goes against preachers. If they need to yell to get their message across, it's a bit intimidating. I'm sure that's the point. That's before you get to the venom and hatred they spew. No, religion isn't my bag," I said.

"I'm not surprised, but you speak well about Jesus," he said.

"All great teachers should be heard and heeded. The way religious folks act, you'd think they never heard of Matthew. It's where you find the heart of Jesus' teachings."

"It's what I was taught," Carlton said.

"Great teachers are few and far between," I said.

"And you managed to find two along the way," Carlton said.

"I did," I said.

"Rick, I predict you'll find plenty to write about, in time. You'll write about being gay. It's a subject that needs exploration. We're all out here, living the lives we've accepted for ourselves, but we only find each other if we go to town. How many of us don't go downtown? If we don't make that trip, we remain alone with our gayness."

"I believed I'd be a writer, when I wrote that first story. It took a year to forget that notion. Mr. Warnock sent me to the 9th grade without telling me the truth about me becoming a writer. Once Mrs. Maza told me what she did, I asked myself, Are you a writer if no one can read what you write? I don't think so, but I remember Tommy's reaction to that story. I couldn't believe Mr. Warnock put his CORE class in my hands. He didn't know that story was any good. "

"He knew if you took the time to write it, it would be fine."

"I don't know about that. I didn't know if it was any good. Tommy's reaction was the only one that mattered, but a lot sure happened, because I wrote that story," I said.

"Damn that teacher. Writing is about the ability to imagine better days. Writing is about telling people a story they want to read. What you wrote, left your class wanting more," he said. "That's what a writer does. He leaves his audience wanting more. I've listened to you all evening, and now it's time for you to go, but I want more. You'll find a way, because you can do anything you set out to do. You've proved that over and over again. You need to keep that option open,"

The knock on the door interrupted us. I didn't want the evening with Carlton to end. Our conversation stimulated me.

Once the knock on the door came, Carlton paid the cabby for Johnny's fare. And then he paid for the cabby to take Johnny and me to the parking facility near the Lincoln tunnel.

Carlton told the cabby to go on down, while we said goodbye, and that left Johnny, Carlton, and me standing just inside his door.

"Here, I want you to have this," Carlton said, reaching my way with two twenty dollar bills.

I backed up saying, "No. That's not what tonight was about."

Johnny said, "I'll take care of his money for him," snatching the two bills out of Carlton's hand.

I snatched them out of Johnny's hand, tucking them into Carlton's shirt pocket.

"Thank you for an excellent meal and one of the most interesting evenings of my life, Carlton. You've given me a lot to think about."

"Let me get one of my business cards for you. I'll write my private number on the back," he said, turning away from me.

"Carlton, you gave Johnny a card. He can give me that one. You do have it, Johnny?" I asked.

Johnny smiled, giving me a half nod.

Carlton and I shook hands, and Johnny and I were on our way downstairs.

It was well after midnight when the cab dropped us off at the parking garage, but soon we were in the car and heading out through the Lincoln tunnel. As we turned onto the ramp that took us south on the New Jersey turnpike, I remembered Carlton's card.

"Give me Carlton's card before I forget," I said.

"I gave it to the cab driver," he said.

I did a slow boil. I had no idea where in the city I'd been, and I really liked Carlton. Johnny had done what he did on purpose.

"Why didn't you tell me that, when we were talking about the card?" I asked.

"You should have taken the money. It serves you right," he said.

It was a quiet trip back to D C, and once we got back, Johnny slowly cleared his stuff out of Big Mike's apartment. Johnny decided we'd gone as far as we were going to go together, and he moved on.

I saw him once in the Brass Rail, a few weeks later, but I never saw him after that.

I'd lost contact with Carlton, and he was someone I'd like to have known better. Some times things don't work out the way you'd like, but I was accustomed to that.

Life was what it was. It did no good to fret about it.

While I could have found Carlton, had I wanted to go to the city and wait for him to show up at Evelyn's. He went there all the time, but Carlton was out of my league. I'd merely been the guest in an evening of eating and talking. I told him a story, I told to no one else.

I do remember his reaction to my story. I don't know why I picked that night to revisit my youth. He was a kind gentleman who treated me with care. It was a fine memory to keep.

The idea I'd been picked up on 42nd street in New York City, still makes me laugh, when I think of it, but I don't laugh when I think of his last words to me before Johnny came to his apartment.

While this ends this story, it was the beginning of my processing the life I'd lived, and how I'd move forward. I took my time, always being careful, especially when it came to people.

I understood that most people were a lot more like Johnny, than they were like the lovely sweet caramel man I met one evening in New York City.


Ten years after my meeting with Carlton, gay men began dying in clusters in major cities. AIDS was a virus that destroyed the immune system. Because it was killing gay men and IV drug users, the powers that be ignored it, because it was killing the right people.

Religious leaders called it God's plague on 'the gay,' and that was good enough for the politicians. A virus has no sexuality. It's an opportunistic infection. If it's in body fluids, anyone who has body fluids, is at risk, including preachers and politicians. Gods aim was off on this disease. It merely started among gay men in America. It has killed millions of black Africans. They called it slims disease, long before it came to America.

In 1996, with over a half million gay men dead of AIDS in America, and over 50,000 having died the year before, our politicians thought it was a good time to show gay people how they really felt. They brought the Defense of Marriage Act to the floor of congress.

John Lewis, civil rights icon, argued, 'This is a bill of hatred. It seeks only to deny people who love each other the right to marry."

Hatred and the power to punish those they hate, are the hallmark of the rich and powerful. Rep. John Lewis, in his quest for equal rights, told the world what he saw.

No, gay people aren't the most hated people, we were merely most hated at the time of AIDS. It starting with native Americans, followed by kidnapped black Africans, who white Europeans stole, and then demonized for being black. The Chinese, Irish and Italians.

Today it's Hispanics, and with the Black Lives matter reminder, black people are still seen as less worthy by the powers that be.

Who still believes skin pigmentation is an indication of anything? If anything, the people who hate, crave power, and make things difficult and dangerous for people who are different, are the most flawed among us. Their lack of empathy and compassion, because they believe they're the superior race.

One wonders, are people who roamed earth, looking for places to conquer, all that honorable? Taking what they wanted, laying waste to the rest, and for good measure, claiming ownership of countries near and far, because they could.

Were these people merely without conscience, willing to do whatever it takes to get what they wanted? What made this behavior OK? Because their business was war, they got to do this? Did this make their slaughter of indigenous people OK? They could do this because they were a superior race? Or they did it because they had the power to do it, and that gives them the power to hate us.

Do you believe the apples fall far from the conquerors' tree. Not everyone is part of European conquest, but the people with power and who own much of the world, are the apples that fell from the conquerors' tree.

Would you want to live next door to those apples in hard times?

If so, reenforce your locks. Maybe buy an alarm system.

I realize that many LGBTQ folks have difficult childhoods. This story talks about mine. I put that piece of my life behind me, but I still live with the repercussions created by my childhood.

Put 'Rick Beck Stories' into your browser, and most sites where I post will usually come up. On those gay literary sites are most of what I've written. I hope you'll find something you enjoy.

As for Butterflies & Rainbows, the one pressing question I have never answered, 'Did I have the urge to give up my mundane life, and go to New York City to become a big time hustler, on 42nd Street?


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