Thursday, January 3, 2019

Bad Luck, Good Luck, or Disaster? (Part 1 of 2 Parts), Post #75

Courtesy of Pixabay
Wired (from last week) got a bunch of page views and a few comments. Thanks, guys. Be sure to remember  to like.

This week, we have another two-parter. We’ve all had bad luck, but have you ever had what seemed to be bad luck turn out to be good? Our protagonist, Billy, is a gay guy in a time and place where that is dangerous. Billy has some bad luck that could turn good… or disastrous. The time is the early fifties, and the place is East Texas. While working a summer job between school years…. Well, Billy tell the story.


          “Okay, son, report Monday morning at seven-thirty sharp! And remember, you gotta have steel-toed work boots.”
          The interviewer’s unexpected announcement generated a mixture of joy and anxiety. When applying for summer work at a local ammunition plant after my freshman year at college, I had no expectation they’d accept the proverbial ninety-pound weakling…well, hundred-ten. Heck, I didn’t even think the army would take me, and they were sending boys over to Korea by the boatloads.
          On Monday, I joined a crew at a railroad siding running alongside a series of warehouses on the sprawling munitions reservation. My stomach dropped into my shoes when I saw the five college kids making up the rest of the gang. They were big football players, hoop stars, brawny men who shaved and everything! You know the type, broad shoulders, narrow waists, strong jaws, thick unruly hair, symmetrical features, and an interesting contour of denims… front and back.
          Steve, a green-eyed lady-killer with curly locks and a swimmer’s physique, rarely participated in the endless sports discussions but held his own when talk turned to women. Terry, short and shaped, wrestled for SMU, and if he grappled as good as he looked, he was terrific. Bart was a footballer, a tight end… a name that always made me inspect the hip pockets of his Levis. I’d like to be the guy who snapped the pigskin if Bart was the one with his hands between my legs. The other two, Jim and Hank, were okay, meaning I wouldn’t have objected if either one checked me out in the restroom, which they didn’t, of course.
          My foreman, a beefy red-neck named Cooligan, took one look, and his expression said it all. What the hell did they send me this time? Physically immature but not dumb, I knew exactly what they’d sent him…a scrawny queer in a time and place that did not tolerate such creatures.
          Cooligan’s gang unloaded endless streams of spent artillery shells from Korea, the war the entire crew avoided by staying in school. Wrestling artillery casings half as big as I was by both weight and linear foot almost did me in, but I managed… barely.
          If the crew fit my definition of hunky, the guy who really sent my pulse racing was the foreman of An adjoining warehouse, a tall, lean, dark-haired Mediterranean type named David Amico. Like Cooligan, Amico was no college kid; he had to be at least twenty-eight or so, but a well preserved twenty-eight.
          He made me so nervous I damned near dropped artillery casings all over the place when he was around. Most of the guys were on a first-name basis and engaged him in easy, casual conversations, which was something completely beyond my ability; I didn’t know a blessed thing about football or baseball or guzzling beer or screwing women. In fact, I didn’t know anything I hadn’t learned in one of my classes. You know… book smart; street dumb.
          Within a week, proximity to all of those studs was getting to me, and Bobby, the kid next door who occasionally jerked off with me, was working on his grandfather’s ranch in Wyoming for the summer. Bobby was at that stage where going only so far wasn’t queer. He didn’t know it yet, but one of these days he was going to learn what it was really all about. Whether from me or someone else remained to be seen.
          In the meantime, all I could do was masturbate with Dave Amico’s hot, masculine image imprinted on the back of my eyelids.
          One day, a boxcar of spent shell casings rolled down the track oozing evil. It happened sometimes; a load came in that smelled like trouble… things like rotting human flesh, undetonated explosives, and lumps of suspicious matter. It made a fellow reluctant to touch the casings even with a thick pair of work gloves. This particular car, cooked by the intense Texas heat, trailed a particularly foul odor of putrefaction.
          Cooligan did his Simon Legree thing and soon had us shuffling reluctantly up to start unloading. It was so bad that every half-hour we rotated working inside the car. I completed my turn in the hot-box with running nose, burning eyes, and some serious gagging. My T-shirt was soaked like I’d showered in it. But old Tight-End Bart, who’d partnered alongside me in the car, wasn’t in much better shape.
          As Terry and Jim straggled up for their turn in the box, I rushed to get outside as quickly as possible. Half-blind from sweat and tears, I stepped on a loose casing and went over, twisting my ankle and banging my hard-hat against the steel-sided car. As you might imagine, safety is a huge thing at an ammo plant, so Cooligan charged inside, bellowing at the top of his lungs.
          “Dammit, what happened? Anything busted?”
          When I saw who was trailing along behind Cooligan, I gulped hard and blinked back tears…my idol, Dave Amico.
           “Shell casing was loose and turned under him,” Bart unexpectedly came to my defense. “Wasn’t his fault, Cooligan.”
          “Can you move it?” Amico asked. Those deep brown eyes almost made me forget my agony. Man, they were beautiful.
          “Yeah,” I gasped, rotating the joint gingerly.
          The hunky warehouseman probed my injury, and like my mother’s touch, made it all better. That ankle hurt so good!
          “Naw, I don’t think it’s broke, but it’s sprained.” He glanced into my pain-filled, adoring eyes. “You wanna go have it checked out?”
          There was a pregnant pause. Cooligan feared an accident report; the crew waited to see if the pansy could take it like a man. Amico merely expected an answer. I gingerly placed some weight on my steel-toed clod-hopper, testing it cautiously.
          “I’ll be okay.”
          “Arright!” Cooligan roared, pleased with his pantywaist for a change. “Let’s get back to work!”
          Amico grabbed one bicep to steady me and Bart took the other. Sandwiched between those two dreamboats, I made it onto the solid concrete loading dock where the warehouse foreman turned to my boss.
          “Clive, he can’t unload shell casings in his condition.” That was the first time I knew Cooligan had a given name. “I’ve got some office work he can do if you’re willing to keep him on your roster.” A minute later, I limped into Warehouse H-25 with one hand on Dave Amico’s broad shoulder for support.
          “Bad luck, man. Bad fucking luck!” Terry, the wrestler, called after us.
          “Yeah,” I agreed. “Rotten luck.”

Oh, boy! Talk about bad luck. Billy’s temporarily out of the clutches of Cooligan, but can he contain himself around his hero Dave Amico? Remember, this is in a dangerous time and place for gays… something that was very real for those of you not old enough to remember. So his bad luck putting him in proximity to Dave might turn out to be even worse luck if he gives himself away.

Check in on Thursday the 12th to find out what happens.

Amazon permits you to read a short passage of my novels, Cut Hand and Johnny Two-Guns. I also believe the STARbooks-published River Otter, Echoes of the Flute, and Medicine Hair are still up. I sure would like to get the final book in the Cut Hand Series, Wastelakapi… Beloved, published, but it’ll take some help from readers to get Dreamspinner interested.

My contact information is provided below in case anyone wants to drop me a line:
Website and blog:
Twitter: @markwildyr

The following are buy links for CUT HAND:

And now my mantra (yes, it’s mine, even if I borrowed it from Don Travis): Keep on reading. Keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

Until next time.


New posts at 6:00 a.m. on the first and third Thursdays of each month.

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