Sunday, November 1, 2015

An Excerpt from, COWBOY HATS, a short story

Once I learned STARbooks Press has released MEDICINE HAIR as an ebook on Amazon, I was tempted to do something from the novel. But I resisted the urge.

This time I’d like to give you the opening to my short story, COWBOY HATS, which came out in the Alyson Publications anthology, MY FIRST TIME, VOLUME 4, edited by Jack Hart. The book was released in September of 2005. For easy reference, the ISBN is 9781555839253. The following is the opening of the story.



 I grew up in the sheltered atmosphere of a small Oklahoma town where the only known queer was the object of such scorn and disdain that I could not mentally associate myself with him or his kind. Nonetheless, I knew I was different. Slow to mature physically, I was a whiz at books and a flop everywhere else…especially sports, which was a disappointment to my football-playing, baseball-fan father.
         As this “difference” began to manifest itself, it about drove me crazy. I grabbed onto best friends and was constantly disappointed when they moved on…either physically moving out of town or mentally and emotionally moving into the world of girls. Not me, females remained beyond the limits of my interest. I despaired of ever fitting into my Oklahoma world. Worse, I began to suspect the unthinkable might be true when Sonny, a handsome boy a few years older than I, began hanging around the movie theater late at night whenever I worked the door. We would sit in the cozy intimacy of the darkened ticket booth and talk. When he took to calling me “Pencil,” I asked why. He calmly confided he figured that’s what my “thing” looked like. I blushed and felt all squirrelly inside, but totally failed to recognize a veiled invitation.
     We never progressed beyond his reaching down into his pants and pulling out a cock hair to show me once, but I realize now that if I had shown any initiative at all, I would have learned my life’s lesson a lot earlier. But that came when I was a junior in high school and Sonny had gone away to college. By then I was a projectionist at the same theater and still experiencing familiar frustrations as I kept trading one best friend for another.
     The biggest thing I can recall happening in our little town was the announcement that management was bringing in the star of a new western movie to promote the film. I recognized the name, which I will call Johnny West here, and could put a face to it. An interesting, handsome face, I might add, and never more so than when he nodded his head and brushed the brim of his big white Stetson in greeting. He always had that Stetson. Johnny wasn’t in the league with Roy Rogers or Gene Autry or Hopalong Cassidy, but he was coming up fast in the world of western movies. I took a step closer to admitting to reality when I longed to see him in person…maybe even meet him!
     When the big day arrived, I was disappointed that Johnny wasn’t introduced to the theater staff, at least not to the projectionist, although I saw him at a distance in the lobby chatting with the concessions stand girl. From all the giggling going on, she was getting a full dose of Hollywood charm. Was that jealousy I experienced down in my gut? Of course, not! Impossible.
In those days, at least in our small movie house, most things in the projection room were done by hand, so I was kept pretty busy rewinding the reels, checking the arc lights illuminating the film, and loading the machines. We had two projectors, and the operator had to watch for cues embedded in the film to manually switch machines as one reel ended and the other started. Since I liked to watch movies as well as run them, I scurried around to get everything done so I could stand at the projectionist’s window and watch the film for a few minutes.
     Midway through the second showing, after Johnny West had done his little ‘aw shucks’ routine for the audience at intermission, I was watching through my porthole and enjoying a close-up of the star, impressed anew at the strength and masculinity evident in that handsome face, when there was a knock on the door. I always kept it locked because sometimes, if there was a particularly suggestive scene in a movie, I might slip my cock out of my pants and skin it a few times…sometimes until I came, but that was only when it was really hot, like Burt Lancaster in a swim suit on the beach with Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity. I got off three times the week we showed that film. I also did it with Montgomery Clift and James Dean and Rock Hudson, although they never knew it. Isn’t it amazing that I never quite snapped to the fact it was guys who aroused my interest? The actresses were just beautiful things on pedestals used to confuse the plotlines.
     At any rate, when I answered the knock on the projection room door, I was stunned to find a big cowboy hat there. Beneath it was the tall, rangy form of Johnny West.
Why in the world would the Hollywood actor show up at the theater’s projection room? Maybe you should get a copy of the book and find out.

Thanks for reading, and come back soon.

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