So… if you come down to Florida, this is what you need to know if you plan on taking advantage of the early bird specials: you don’t have to be a senior citizen—that’s what senior citizen menus are for—but you do have to get there in plenty of time. These places don’t have benches outside just for curb appeal.
(And although I didn’t mention it in the story, there’s a good possibility that Franky, the older man, took Sweetcheeks to a local diner that offered early bird specials.)
As much as the Greek girls of our community in Tarpon Springs had their lives mapped out, so had the boys.
Once I grew up, I’d become a fisherman as my father was. Eventually I’d marry a nice Greek girl, and we’d give our fathers a new grandson or granddaughter every year.
That was the way it was supposed to be, only….
When I was fifteen years old, my father threw me out for being gay.
But he was my father. He was supposed to love me, just as I loved him.
Instead, and as I probably should have expected, he shouted, “Theo Bascopolis, you stop being gay right now, or else you get the fuck out of my house!”
Ma cried and wrung her hands, and my little sister threw herself at me and held on, but Poppa just stood there with his hands clenched into fists, his face set.
I had no choice. I couldn’t obey the one, so I obeyed the other, and I got the fuck out of his house.
Since that time, I’d been a rent boy.
But it didn’t start out that way.
It was getting late, and it was starting to drizzle, unusual since this was the dry season in
Was this God’s way of punishing me for being gay?
I sat on a park bench trying not to cry.
Before me stood a man. The rain didn’t seem to bother him. He must have been about twice my age, but he was wearing jeans and a white tee-shirt and Reeboks. He had a tattoo of coiled barbed wire around his upper arm and numerous piercings—along the cartilage of his right ear, along his eyebrow. Through the dampness of his tee, his nipples were prominent. The one above his heart bore a ring.
He looked so sexy that in spite of my predicament, I felt my dick hardening.
I shouldn’t have said anything, he was a stranger, but he also looked so sympathetic that I found myself pouring out the story of my plight.
“And… and then Poppa told me to get out.” I sniffed hard.
“That’s tough. You’re a sweet-looking kid. What’s your name?”
I glanced away, reluctant to tell him in case he was a social worker or something and was going to take me in to the cops, who’d put me into some kind of juvenile home after they called my father and found out he didn’t want me anymore.
He laughed softly. “Well, I’ll call you Sweetcheeks. My name is Franky. How old are you?”
My birthday had been a few weeks before. “I’m fifteen.” I bit my lip. I hadn’t even thought of lying to him.
“Yeah?” His eyes were hot as they ran over my body. “Sweet fifteen.” I blushed. “You’re getting wet. Why don’t you come with me, Sweetcheeks? I’m pretty sure I’ve got some leftovers in the fridge, and I’ve got a bed you can use.”
“Sure.” There was a tingling sensation in my groin, and my asshole clenched. I wouldn’t mind sleeping with him, if that was what he wanted in exchange for a place to stay. I’d fooled around with some boys in the men’s room at the multiplex, and I’d liked it, but I’d never done much beyond mutual hand jobs.
We had to walk a bit to catch the trolley that would take us to where he lived. “Cabs won’t go there,” he said, his smile apologetic.
I guessed it was a good thing that Poppa that thrown me out on a Friday, when the trolley ran until midnight.
The trolley driver gave us a bored look. Franky showed the driver his pass and gave him the fare for me without even asking if I had the money, which was a good thing, because I’d used my last couple of dollars at McDonalds.
I walked ahead of him to the back of the trolley.
“Hey! You’re a redhead! I just noticed! It was too dark to tell before we got on the trolley, and I guess your hair was too wet.” Franky tipped his head to one side. “Are you a natural redhead?”
Irealized he meant the hair that covered my groin, and I blushed and nodded. I got the deep mahogany coloring from Ma’s side of the family. There was at least one redhead in each generation. I would have preferred to have brown hair like Poppa, but my sister Casey got that.
“Cool.” He winked at me.
I opened my mouth to tell him about Greeks having red hair—not many people knew that—but he started talking.
I sat beside him and listened while he talked about the cities he’d lived in: New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles—the exciting, glitzy cities that I’d read about and wanted to see myself but knew I never would. There was little chance I would ever get out of Tarpon Springs.
This book will be available in February/March of 2014.