Friday was a fine Pennsylvania day, full of the promise of coming Spring, until the grandfather clock in the hall failed to strike eleven in the morning. Something that had never happened. Something that had been assured to never happen. And thus began a day more than forty years in the waiting.
Lynch, which was not his real name, had been shocked to find no guards around the grounds or in the house. He had waited the day hidden among the trees and rocks of the mountain that bordered the farm. He found the lack of defenses disquieting and professionally offensive.
For someone purported to be the local equivalent of a mafia don his target had no safeguards on her person or family. Lynch had seen the daughter leave in the early morning accompanied by two ‘guards.’ An hour later, five men left and, if he read their expressions correctly, reluctantly.
Curious that, he thought.
The one time he had taken a contract on a mafia target, a mid level official, he had to kill four men before getting to his principal target. That had been a spotter with a sniper rifle, two men at the doors, and a fourth on the principal.
Lynch had brought a five man group with him. All tough experienced men who had seen action in North Ireland and The Congo.
Too bad about the daughter, Lynch thought. The suffering of their children tended to loosen the lips of patents. He was no sadist but he wanted the interrogation over as fast as possible. He did not want to caught inside when the men returned from wherever they had gone.
He frowned bewilderedly as surveyed the farm house. It look like something out of the Thirty Years’ War. When your home, castle or homestead, might be attack at anytime by brigands or invading forces.
Lynch saw what looked to be arrow-slit windows at the ground floor. A crude disused moat, dry and overgrown. Even what for fucksake looked to be platform and iron cauldron off the third floor to pour boiling oil in front of the entranceway.
“Jesus’ wept,” muttered Lynch. Who were these people?
His employer had gone on at length about the violent history of the family. More than few war heroes balanced with an equal number of imprisoned criminals. A family that had rules these parts like the Krays had ruled East London. They had used fear, intimidation, and prodigious amount of violence to rule this part of the Colonies.
So where was the help? Where was the muscle? The sons?
Lynch had been told to bring extra muscle to the operation. He usually worked with a two men snatch team. But for this here party Lynch had hired five men. All merc he had vetted himself.
Now he felt foolish. He was sure his men felt the same. And wondering what was wrong with him.
Lynch hated looking foolish.
Lynch rubbed the side of his face where a long scar ran from chin to his ear. A struggle with a Provo had end with him getting creased by the bullet instead of having his head blown off. It was single worst moment of his life. He ran his fingers up and down the scar.
He forced his hands to be calm.
Either this would be the easiest money he ever made or the worst mistake of his life.
Lynch got to his feet, signaled to get up, and they went forward from their concealed spots.
They moved out of the darkness, stretched out five meters apart in case there were surprises, and headed towards the farmhouse.
In short order they were in the house, a man left watching the front and the driveway.
On the second floor, their target sat sipping tea in a threadbare high back chair. A copy of Great Expectations open on her lap. Lynch wanted to laugh at the sight of it all.
He motioned with his pistol for her to stand and go downstairs. Better to do this will easy escape if needed. No jumping out of window, even if it's sod below.
The target smiled sadly at him as she walked by and headed down the stairs.
Lynch had known men and women to plead, beg, and bribe at this moment. Not knowing what was going to happen but terrified and wanting desperately to find a way out.
But Lynch had never had someone smile at him. Not him.
He felt his now persistent frown. No one was so hard as to stare down the barrel of a gun without a care in the word. That was shite for the cinema.
They tied her down to an old wooden chair. Gagged her, though no one was going to her out here. He did not strip her, as was custom in debasing and dehumanizing a target. He doubt it would work on her anyway.
Lynch made a name for himself as a Ranger in Northern Ireland. He had become proficient at the extraction of information from people, especially people who had every reason in the world to keep their mouths shut.
None of those fancy drugs and psychological tricks that those tossers in Special Branch loved so much.
Lynch pulled out a small hardback notebook that he had written his questions. He began asking the questions. When no answer, he hurt her. He began again. And repeat. It was nearly an hour with no answers and a growing pool of blood and flesh under the chair.
In the end, Lynch had to assume she knew nothing or was the first person to ever stonewall him. And of that he could not be sure.
His employer had said that he nor any of this team were to take their masks off or speak to each other at any time. He was to be the only one asking questions.
But, looking down at the bruised and bleeding face of Mary Wesse, Lunch could not but feel a tug of respect for her. She had held out far longer than the most of the IRA stoogies he had interrogated.
He had beat on her, broken fingers, and burned the soles of her feet. But all she did was scream, and give up nothing to his constant questioning.
Finally all she had asked for was to see the face of the man who was going to kill her.
“Wanna look the sonofabitch in the eye,” she croaked through broken teeth.
Lunch shook his head. He had never seen this kind of steel. She knew he was not going to leave her alive at the end of this.
Fuck his employer, Lunch thought. The bastard got nearly everything wrong on this job.
Lunch pulled up his black ski mask. He smiled down at bloody face. “The name’s Ronald Tolliver,” another false name, “but you can me ‘Lynch.’”
She scanned over his face, as if memorizing it, every detail, with a fierce hatred in her eyes that had she not been restrained would have made Lynch stepped back. “My kids are gonna skin you alive.” She drew her head back and bloody spittle hit him square in his face.
Well I guess I deserved that, He thought.
Lynch now did step back, wiping his face with his gloved hand, and with the other raised his pistol.
“Hey, can I get a beer?”
Peter turned around to say he wasn't working tonight, when the words got catch in his throat.
She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Tall, athletic with sharp green eyes and long curly red hair.
Drop dead gorgeous, he thought.
Her lips pulled back in a smirk, as if reading his mind.
“Hello?” She laughed. “Beer? Please.”
“Yeah, sure. Sorry.”
“Draft or bottle?”
“I'll take whatever you have on draft.”
“Alright,” he grabbed her glass and started pouring. “You been here before?”
She looked back from scanning the room. Her eyes crinkled. “Yeah. But not for a while.”
“I was going to say, I don't remember seeing you around here.”
“Been away for semester abroad.” She turned away again.
“Oh,” he wanted to keep her talking forever. “Where?”
She turned full to the bar. “London. I was studying economics at a school there.”
He put the beer in front of her. “Sounds fun.”
“Fun?” She shook her head. “Nothing fun about it. Lots of boring lecture lots of boring papers, lots of boring people.”
“Well couldn't have been all bad?”
She took a pull from her beer. “No, not all bad.” She eyed him appraisingly. “Some cute boys.”
“Oh not we’re getting somewhere.” Peter leaned over the bar. “Do tell.”
She laughed. “I don't know you that well.”
“Well, you tell me your secrets. And I'll tell you mine.”
She laughed again.
Peter loved the sound of her laughter. Her voice was New England but her laughter was just pure joy. Pure joy, he thought, what is wrong with me?
“How about we start with you name, Mr. Bartender?”
“Oh, Jesus, sorry.” Peter reached out his hand. “Peter Wesse.”
She met his hand. “______”
“Nice to meet you.”
“Kimberly Prescott. But you can call me: Kay. All my friends do.”
“Am I your friend now?”
“If you play your cards right, maybe.” She smiled, and look to be covering her embarrassment by taking another drink.
Peter decided to save her, and switched topics. “So tell me about London?”
“Are you thinking of going?” Kay looked up from her beer. “What are you studying?”
Peter thought about lying. He, like his brothers, looked a lot younger than he was, and he had taken to wearing his hair long to fit in with all the hippies around her. It had taken a lot longer to relax and be laid back. He had worked hard at emulating the kids around him. But something were easier to change than your hair.
Peter had let grow so long he knew his mother would have chased him with shears. His mustache was like something out of Fu Manchu. He smoked, he drank, he screwed like every soldier back. But he could never shake the feeling that he had done nothing wrong over there. No matter the protestors screamed.
Peter remembered when he had left the airport still in uniform. He had been spit on three times before he even got to the taxi. And the taxi driver almost didn't take him to the bus station.
He had changed into civilian clothes in the bus station.
He knew guys who had it worse. Guys who had made the transition even less successful than he had. He still met up with some of them, once in a while. Though most were so stoned or drunk, they just sat there in the bar in silence.
Surprising it was the silence Peter hated most. It remembered him of too many things he wanted to forget. Perversely the noise in the bar was a perfect antidote, even if couldn't replace a chopper.
But he just wanted to fit in, get along. It might have made him a good soldier, maybe even a good officer. But it made him a piss poor civilian.
He always felt like a liar, so he spoke the truth. And awaited the inevitable response. “History.”
“Far out,” she smiled. “Anything in particular. Medieval? Religious? What?
“Military?” She frowned.
“Yes,” Peter was not going to lie. He was proud of his service, even if his country wasn't.
“Where are you going to school?”
“University of South Vietnam, School of Hard Knocks.”
Kay’s lips pressed together as she looked at him.
“Write what you know, or study in this case, I guess.” He added a silly grin, hoping it would help matters.
Peter waited for the sudden light in her eyes, which would lead to a sudden coldness and an end to whatever was happening here.
Peter had finally gotten the staff here to accept him. It didn't hurt that he had the best pot in eastern Pennsylvania. Family connects be what they were. And if you needed anything stronger, Peter was the man who could hook you up or at least point you in the right direction.
Still it hurt when most people would not even try to get to know him. Their eyes glazed over and they superimposed a uniform on him. Then their eyes got hard and cruel.
He rather they just turned away from than spit out the words: babykiller, war criminal, murderer.
Peter knew the war was winding down. He still had enough friends back in Jungle and some stateside to give him the word. It had been two years since he had been home, and seeing all those people at the Lincoln Memorial screaming for the end of the war.
Did they actually think he wanted more war? That he, and his friends, hated peace?
All of these things flashed through his head as he watched Kay wrestle with his service.
But then the strangest thing happened. And years later, he could no more explain it than he could at that moment.
Kay handed him her empty glass. “Give me another. And tell me about your travels.”
The expression on Peter’s face must have said it all, because she began laughing and said: “What? Did you think I wouldn't want to keep talking to you, soldier?”
He had her back her full glass, and said. “That's exactly what I thought. And you wouldn't be the first.”
“Oh, so you chat up lots of girls from behind the bar?”
“Well, um, no. I mean yes.” He stammered. “This wasn't supposed to be my night on. I just came in to get my pay check.”
“And you stay to talk to little old me?” He fluttered he eyes.
Now Peter laughed. “Well, you are the most beautiful woman to ever ask me for a beer.”
“I really doubt that.”
“Trust me. I've been bartending in Shadyside for a while now. You definitely are.”
“Well if you're not working, how about you come on this side of the bar and we can trade travel stories.”
“Ok,” he said, and motioned to a coworker that he was done playing at working. He got a thumbs up for his trouble, and hoped Kay didn't see it. But as he came around the raised eyebrows told him she had.
Peter drank from his glass, and settled down.
“What are you drinking?”
“Really? I thought all you guys were beer men.”
“My Uncle Karl taught me to always drink whiskey in the presence of a lady.”
“And why’s that?”
“Well, you're less likely to get fool drunk with sipping whiskey. And you're more likely to talk more. Though he did say that could make a man a bigger fool than anything he drank.”
“Smart man your uncle.”
He raised his glass and clinked with hers in toast. “The smartest man I know.”
“So tell me, Peter, what was the war like?”
Peter pondered on his response. It wasn't going to be an easy answer nor a short answer, but then he didn't think she was a shrinking violet. So he had choose his words carefully
Like most of his family, Captain Pete Wesse had heard the call to war, and had answered it. The Wesse family had been fighting in one war or another since before the United States had been the United States. His father, and his two uncles, had fought in Europe from the moment they had stepped onto the beaches of Normandy. Even earlier if you believe crazy cousin Herman.
His brother James had done a tour. Though he mostly stayed at a fire base as an Marine Corpsman in 3/1. He was now fixing to be a doctor. Which probably would've had their granddaddy laughing his ass off before he took a switch to his James’ ass for the idea. Still Peter was sure his mother saw benefit in having a family member with some medical training.
Peter said: “I shipped out to Vietnam in ‘63 before regular American deployments.”
He didn’t tell her he had taken to it like a fish to water. And, with his background and the family he had, it wasn't so surprising. It was everything his Uncle and cousins had said it would be like, and more.
What was surprising was when CIA came knocking at his tent. Peter had been in country no more than nine months when two spooks in crisp unmarked and without rank who smelled like civilians. They had a program that they had volunteered him for and he was being detached to them.
Fucking spooks, he grimaced inside at the thought.
Peter had being leading search and destroy missions since ‘65. He was good. Scary good in the eyes of his men and his commanders. In over fifteen straight missions Peter had never lost a man, and had always achieved his target. Even if no one had known it was there.
Still the Vietcong got smarter, got tougher. And he lost men.
So Peter jumped at the chance to take a more lethal approach to the enemy. And it wasn't like he had a choice in the matter. Even though his gut told him he was going to regret it.
So he ‘joined’ the Special Activities Division.
Peter was tasked with training and leading Hmong tribesmen in Laos and back into Vietnam. They were direct action missions against the communist in Laotian countryside and their north Vietnamese supporters.
Then after he had proved himself. He was transfers to the Phoenix Program where he identified, hunted down, and ‘neutralized’ VC sympathizes in the South. The things he had seen done in the Saigon interrogation center still haunted him. He understood the need for information but he balked at participating in torture.
Peter had said as much to his commanders, and had begged to be sent back into he jungles. At least there he knew right from wrong. And the brass didn't really care one way or the other, Peter was good at his job, and they need the job to be done.
And that's how he ended up in the MACV-SOG.
The most unconventional tip of the spear in the American military.
They did it all. The unit conducted strategic reconnaissance missions in the North and South Vietnam,Laos, and Cambodia. They carried out the capture of enemy prisoners, rescued downed pilots, and conducted rescue missions to retrieve prisoners of war throughout Southeast Asia.
Peter had been with them until he mustered out in 1967 at the bright used up age of 23.
“It was a lot of walking out, seeing what was what, and then slugging back to base. It rained a lot. And I mean a LOT.”
“Surely, there was more to it than that? You were in a war.”
“Yes, there was some shooting going on from time to time.”
“I bet.” Kay seemed to wrestle with her next question. “Did you see people die?”
Peter scratched at his stubble on his cheek, and said, “Well, yes, and no. I saw a lot of good friends die. But I saw an equal number of the enemy die too. Can’t say as it even out. Wouldn’t ever say that any of the moms and dads of those guys. But that’s just one way to see it.”
Kay leaned back on her stool, looking appraisingly at him. “You want to get out here?”
“Thought you’d never ask,” Peter laughed, standing up with her.
They made a beeline for the door and out into the Pittsburgh night.
1970 - New York City, New York
The music blared loud, the lights strobbed brightly below his feet and above his head. Young people in sling-tight or next-to-nothing outfits danced energetically around him.
The music pounded from every speaker, loud and happy. It pumped his mind full of dreams of how his life could and should be like. He loved every song. He knew some by heart for years, and others, he had only recently heard on the radio. But they all promised the same thing: blissful joy at the beginning of a new age.
Roy sang out the words:
Once I had a love and it was a gas
Soon turned out had a heart of glass
Seemed like the real thing, only to find
Mucho mistrust, love's gone behind
Music like this shook him up, rattled him, and then left him knocked up with ideas of what his life could be away from his backwater life.
Roy left hands wrap around his waist. He let himself be drawn back against another body. He tried to shake free of his thoughts on the past, and concentrate on the music. The music and the insistent pressure of the fingers now touching bare skin between his pants and his shirt.
Roy smiled, and put his hands around Jeff’s. Or was it John’s?
He actually could not remember who had bought him the last drink and asked him to dance. He laughed to himself.
“What?” John / Jeff shouted above the music.
Roy turned around face his dance partner. He placed his hands around his waist. He leaned in, beside his ear, and said: “I’ve never been so happy in my life.”
John / Jeff of course took it to mean Roy was happy with him, which wasn’t completely false, but that is not what Roy was thinking at all.
Roy had run away from his oppressive family, and his oppressive inbred backwater hometown, in order to just be himself. And he had done it. He could scarcely believe it. He was dancing in one of the hottest clubs in New York City with the mostly beautiful men he had ever seen in the company of people who thought like him, loved like him, and were just like him.
Roy planted a long and passionate kiss on John / Jeff, then danced away out of his grasp.
He saw a playful frown on that beautiful face, but Roy turned around quickly and strutted off into the crowd.
Roy loved being ogled, and he loved being pursued. And he definitely had learned that here in NYC it best to both at the same time if you want to get a rich boy to take a fancy to you.
So he danced off, putting as few people between him and John / Jeff.
Roy knew he was gorgeous. Everyone his whole life had told him so. His mother had never let him forget it. Nor his brother who were less charitable about this looks.
Roy had the kind of face that stopped people in their tracks. He never got used to the sudden pause in a person’s natural expression when they looked his way and then followed it by overcompensating with a nonchalant gaze and a week smile. Of course the blush that accompanied it was a dead giveaway.
When Roy was in High School people especially girls thought him so modest with it, it made the girls fall for him all the more. But it was not modesty. It was indifference. Had even one of the football players look his way or one of his brothers’ friends, Roy would have been a different boy. So despite all the girls who could not stop flirting with him or asking his older brothers about him, it was all just for appearance’s sake.
Roy had kissed a few girls ¡, gone on a few dates, and even tried second base as his brother James loved to call it. But they had all left him cold. Cold and questioning. He hadn’t even the sense to ask the questions that were causing him so much pain and anguish.
That was until Sebastian Turner moved to town.
Then everything became so much clear and so much darker.
Roy shook his head to clear himself of those painful thoughts.
He looked over at John / Jeff who was trying to weave himself between people to get to Roy. Roy just danced further into the crowd, but not before he took a closer look at this beautiful man.
John / Jeff had trouseled dark brown hair, which was thick and lustrous. His eyes were deep blue. Ocean blue, which was something that Roy now knew looked like as he had the previous year gone out to see with a few friends. He had never been on anything bigger than a lake. And those blue eyes were set in a strong defined almost molded granite face that readily broke into smile. A carefree smile that hurt Roy as much as it enticed him. It was a smile that he would never, no matter how long he lived his new life, produce as anything other than a false expression. The lips pouted as they drew near and were ripe for prolonged kissing. His skin still felt those soft uncallused hands around his waist. So warm, so comforting.
Roy smiled evilly and danced away again. He waved his arm above his head and swung his hips to the music. He had always been lucky in love; why would this time be any different?
Roy danced off and lost himself in the throbbing dance around him. He twirled and spun, he grooved and shook. He felt a million miles away from the man he had been.
He knew this was the best moment of his life. In his bones he knew this is where he was supposed to be and who he was supposed to be.
Away from that dirty town, away from those dirty people, away from his dirty brothers (well maybe not Peter but he had abandoned Roy for life in Pittsburgh) but most of all he was far from the soul-killing clutches of his mother.
Roy was not stupid, he knew people were afraid of his mother. From an early age, Roy could see the look his name had on people, especially people who had dealing with his mother. Or better yet owed his mother in one way or another. Though that was always tempered by the realization that some of the townspeople truly loved his mother, and owed her for small favors big and small.
Old Man Connors, who ran the local drug store, would never allow him or his brothers to pay for milkshakes. He said our money was never good in his shop. Roy had later, much later, found out from James that there had been an incident with the oldest Connor girl and some drifter looking for work. His mother had tracked the man down as he was making good an escape to West Virginia. If he had known who was following him and how far her reach went in these parts, the drifter would have turned himself into the cops for chance he had. As it turned out he didn’t.
As with everything she did, his mother took a direct had in justice. She had the man brought back in front of the Connors Family and asked them what they would like her to do with him (or what they would like to do to him.) They had differed to her judgement and hand.
Peter had been present, as he was oldest and their mother wanted him to understand what the family responsibility was like and what was need to keep the peace.
Roy knew that it had changed Peter. Even more than Vietnam had changed him. And that was saying a lot.
The Blazing Bride, they all called her. Or that's what Uncle Karl explained once over dinner. Before she told him to keep his mouth shut on the subject.
Roy had later learned that his mother had been far from the uptight self righteous bitch she acted like all his life.
She'd been the delinquent. She had run away from home. She'd gone to Lexington to do god knows what and her brothers had had to drag her back home. She had stolen cars, gotten shot (twice), broken her arm and leg (jumping into a flooded quarry), etc. All this before she was even 15 years old.
At a cousin’s wedding her brothers had told story after story after story. Her smile clamped on her face like a death grin on a corpse. Except the pulsing vein in her forehead that bespoke a deep anger.
Roy had been astounded. There were less than a handful of people who disobeyed his mother. Most of them were dead; one or two, if you believed the rumors, at his mother’s hand. But here were her three brothers laughing and cackling at her expense and pointedly ignoring her burning gaze.
It had turned out that she had had a vision when 10 years old. She never talked about it but she woke screaming for hours. From then she had been different. Calm and reasonable gave way to reaklrss and defiant.
Their grandfather had said the same thing happened to his great Aunt. She had been said to have dreamed her death and a become a different person from that night. Always ready to push barriers of custom and family. The cliche hellion child.
Something from the Old Country, her brothers said. A holdover from when the Gates ran the hills of Scotland and not Kentucky.
Now this kind of girl was no end of trouble to a family like the Gates’. But Grandpa Truman saw a benefit in marrying off his most troublesome daughter to a distance and prosperous family. They had had connections going back to the First World War, and the Prohibition bootlegging that many of their two families had prospered in. And frankly she had scared the menfolk of the Gates family, who had had little direct experience with a girl who had been cursed with her own death. Grandpa had green-lighted the marriage having felt both the moonshining business would prosper and that he had a “fine feeling” about anyone “cursed.”
And truth be told Roy thought his grandpa had been right. They had done with by the marriage.
His ma had frightened old timers into listening to her orders, birthed five kids (four who had lived), fought the Italians down from Pittsburgh, avenged their Pa’s murder, and ruled the fire counties since her twenty-ninth birthday.
But Roy really only remembered one thing about his mother.
It had been a hot June afternoon. His Uncle Karl had found him at the motel. How he knew where he had been, Roy could not explain, though knowing his mother there were more than enough people who own her a favor. It could have a person on the street, the motel clerk, a person in the parking lot. It really did not matter because in one moment his Uncle Karl was kicking down the door of the motel. His eyes flashing as he zeroed on Roy, stomping across the room, Uncle Karl grabbed him by the neck and pulled him out of the bed.
He had held Roy like a doll, with his feet barely touching the floor, and said: “Your ma wants to talk to you, Roy.” Then his eyes went soft. “This shouldn’t have been public, son. Now she’s got no choice.” Then his eyes went cold and he pushed Roy naked out the door towards the waiting car.
The next thing Roy knew he was in Karl’s beat up Buick tearing through town, heading home. Every mile seemed to be a cinder block on Roy’s shoulders. He felt himself slowly disappearing into the front seat. He saw they were taking the long way home. Was this to let him think of what to say to his mother? Or to let he stew in his own fear of the coming confrontation?
Roy’s smile slipped off his face when he remembered that confrontation. She had not screamed or raised her voice. But looked at him with a deep expression of pity and sadness. She moved around her desk and stood before him. She leaned in and whispered: “fag.” Roy had recoiled from her voice, and slammed up against Uncle Karl behind him.
His mother just stared at him. He could see the same sadness and anger in Uncle Karl’s expression, but with something new: fear. But fear for whom? Him? Or Her?
“Don’t talk. Don’t say a word, Roy.”
“Shut your goddamn mouth!”
Roy’s jaw snapped shut like it was spring loaded, and his teeth felt like they had splintered in his mouth.
She walked back to her desk and sat down. She peeped watching him, while taping her finger on the hard oak desk. Finally she said softly: “Goddamn, Roy.” Her face fell and, for a moment, he thought she might start weeping. But almost as soon as he sought it, it disappeared. And she looked at him cold. “You’re out. This moment. I’m putting you on a bus to wherever city you want but you’re out. And now.”
“What? You’re kicking me out?” He could not believe what he was hearing.
“Yes.” She replied. “I— I can’t abide you and your ways under my room. I—“
Roy felt his uncle’s large meaty hand on his shoulder, propelling him away from his mother and out the door.
As he was packing, every last thing he had in the world, Roy realized he did need to get away from here. Away from his mother. Away from this little tiny shit of a town. He could only be happy if he were far far away from here.
Roy hated to leave his brothers, and especially his sister. But they all hated their mother for one reason or another. Roy just guessed he was the first to get her to lash out. The first to feel her anger. She had always been controlling and distant, but never had she been cruel. It made things so much easier. No need to make excuses for her.
And Roy was not like this brothers, or even his sister.
Roy had been raised like all of them. He was raised to serve, to fight, to do his duty for family, God, and country. In exactly that order, mind you. But even his sister was a better soldier than him. James and Peter were like fish in water. It isn’t that I can’t fight, he thought, it’s that I just don’t want to. He had never liked hunting or fishing or training. He was good at it, the equal of his brothers, but he just didn’t have that spark. That killer instinct.
Roy knew that he had not fallen to despair, and alcoholism, or worse, was because of his family. Strict upbringing. Tough love and a tough line. It barely covered what he and his siblings endured in this family but it also meant they would never end up like the majority of people in the hollers around these parts. It had rescued him from a pointless life. But it also made him more along than if he had a unicorn horn growing out of his head.
The Wesse family had a perverse way of pulling the best qualities and actions from strangers but had the equally powerful pull of bring out the worse in those it was supposed to love.
As he snapped shut his suitcase, filled with every worldly belonging he had, Roy felt crushed. Crushed and alone.
And with a big fist of cash and a one-way ticket on Greyhound, Roy found himself in New York City.
Roy luckily traded his boyish right-off-the-farm looks for a crash course in good manners, good food, good speech, and, most of all, good sex.
Before Roy even knew what was happening, he was moving in big circles. He went to the trendiest clubs. He went to the best restaurants. He partied with famous musicians and artists. And he almost never ever paid for a single thing. He found men who were more than happy to pay for anything he wanted, if only he was theirs for the night or even better for the weekend.
Sometimes Roy had to be discreet. Sometimes he could be open. But Roy always had a good time.
Roy laughed to himself, regaining his lost smile. He at least got that from his family. They were the luckiest sonofbitches in the world. Everyone back home knew it. Nothing, but tragedy, could snuff out a Wesse lucky streak. And Roy was living proof.
Where others made a dime, a Wesse made a dollar. Where others feel into the gutter, a Wesse fell into fine silk.
And Roy had fallen into the finest silk bed any man could possible want.
New York City.
A fabled place where drams could come true. And did. Roads paved with gold and cocaine. Everyone laughed or joked or sneered at people from anywhere else. This was the number one metropolis in the world. Why would you want to live anywhere else?
And for Roy it was true. This was in face the city where his dreams did come true.