Maybe—Tomorrow/Chapter 17

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CHAPTER 17


ABOUT FIVE BLOCKS FROM THE BAR, where Paul had taken Gaylord, was the apartment of Gene Limbeaux. It was in the heart of the old French Quarter; nestled there close to the cathedral and white-washed cafes.

He too had lived life's gallantries and its despairs, its varying tides, its random collisions and its shifting incidental terrains, but here, amid the blend of many races, French, Creole, Negro, and Irish, he had found his place to live and grow old.

Gene Limbeaux was half French and half Jewish. He was short and his moon-faced countenance was as plump as his stomach. His skin was fair and hairless. His womanly eyes were encrusted with deep crow's-feet and his lips were very thick. He didn't look his forty-five years even though his brown hair was quite grey around the temples. He wore a pair of nile green lounging pajamas and around his expanding waist was a long gold cord with tassels almost touching the carpet.

He was alone in the bathroom, curling his short eyelashes with a lash curler, when the phone rang. At the sound, he threw his hand against his flabby chest and shrieked, "Uh," as if frightened.

"Coming, Mary," he sang out loud.

Going to the phone he drew in his stomach. "God," he cried, "I'm getting fat." And with disgust, he felt the roll of flesh around his waist, picked up the receiver.

"Carmen speaking," he sputtered in a high voice. "Oh, Paul, it's you. How are you dahling? I was just making myself beautiful for you … Oh, you have. You're lucky … bring him along. May be just my type," he giggled. "Oh … You do, huh … Here I thought you loved me." He smirked a silly laugh. "You're a dear. I knew I could get a little compliment out of you if I tried hard enough. Where are you? … That's marvelous." He turned the large ring on his little finger. "Dahling … you come right over and bring your friend. I'll light a candle and stick it in the window for you . . Another cry of giggles. "Stick it where? Now, honey, you know me better than that. Strictly a French artist, that's me," he cried with delight, like a flustered old maid who had just been pinched on the cheek for the first time. "All right, baby. You all come right on ova … I'll be waiting … Bye … now."

He hung up the phone and hurried back to the bathroom, humming in a high falsetto voice.


Standing in front of the purple door, Gaylord touched Paul's arm. "Are you sure it's all right," he whispered.

"I'm sure … And if I'm any judge, you'll like Gene." Paul smiled and knocked.

The door opened slightly … Gene cried, "Paul!" and flung it open. "Come on in. I'm so glad you two are here. There's no one here yet and we can sit and dish. Haven't seen you in centuries." He smiled at Gaylord. "I'm glad you could come too."

"Gene, this is Gay," Paul said warmly.

"So glad Paul brought you, Gay … Come on in you two." They went inside and Gene asked, "Do you live here in New Orleans?"

"No, ma'am …" he grinned shyly. "I … I live in Texas."

"Texas … huh." Gene grinned and looked at Paul and said, "Come on in … I don't know what in the hell we're standing here for … Sit down and I'll fix us a drink."

Gaylord didn't look at Gene, though he knew he was still looking at him. He stared around the room. Shadows fell and moved across the furniture as the candles flickered slightly.

The room was large and full of antiques. Marble-top tables covered with hand-drawn doilies dominated the French chairs and the arms of a worn divan. On each end of the divan was a marble top commode. They were low and each graced a tall silver candelabra. Eighteen inch candles stood erect and majestically in their sockets; their flickering glow falling on a marble fireplace, and an elaborate gold-leaf framed mirror with two cherubs on top center. The walls were lined with paintings; some good, some bad; all were nudes From the center of the high ceiling a crystal chandelier glistened, not from its own light but from the flickering lights of the many candles.

It was all beautiful to Gaylord. He had a confused impression of flowing silks, glittering jewels, scepters, and other symbols of royalty; of exquisite flowers lavishly adorning the table-tops of fine porcelain. Then, as he stood hesitantly, Gene said again, "Sit down you two … get comfy … take your clothes off if you want to … what do you want to drink? Your mother's got scotch … gin or bourbon."

"We've been drinking bourbon, Gene," said Paul.

They sat on the divan.

"Water or coke?" Gene asked.

"Both with coke," replied Paul.

It was only a few minutes until he was back in the room carrying three ruby tumblers.

"Here you are … One for you, Paul … Gay … and one for the old madam … Phew …" He sat on a chair. "I'm pooped. Came home from work and had to clean the apartment."

"You've got a beautiful place," Gaylord said.

"Like it?" Gene was slumped on one of the pillows, breathing heavily. "It's a mess, but thanks for saying so anyway. I worked until quite late, then came home and cleaned up this whore's nest. That black bitch, Gertie, promised me she'd clean this afternoon. Didn't show up though. Just like a damn nigger." He caught his breath. "So honey, your mother's been working like mad ever since she came home from the office."

"You've some lovely antiques," grinned Gaylord, admiring a French table.

"Just a pile of junk."

"Now, Gene, you know you love every piece in here," spoke up Paul.

"Guess I do at that." Then he burst out. "Love every piece I've had in here too."

Gene and Paul laughed. Gaylord didn't understand but he followed suit. Thank God he felt a little better than he did in the club … He was afraid he was going to be sick but the night air and the walk had done miracles.

"Where in the hell have you been, Paul? Haven't seen you for weeks."

"No place … Been home nearly every evening. I didn't feel up to par … but I've called you practically every day."

"Yes, I know you did but, I still want you to come by," Gene said seriously. "I was so upset when I heard what Arnold did."

"Let's forget Arnold, Gene," Paul almost whispered. Then, looking at Gaylord, he winked. "How's the drink?"

"Better than those at the club."

Paul laughed … said, "They sure are …" He took out a cigarette, lighted it, and handed it to Gaylord. Then he drew out another and smoked contemplatively. He seemed to be considering something. He shot Gaylord a glance or two and then asked rather suddenly … "Do you like me … a little?"

"I like you a whole lot … Paul." He took a puff on his cigarette and blew the smoke out through his mouth.

Gene began blabbing about getting too fat and Gaylord sat watching his two new friends. He almost giggled when he thought of Gene calling himself their mother. It sounded funny coming from the fat little man in the green pajamas. There were so many things that had been said he didn't understand. Their phrases were so strange. Still, in this museum setting, he felt relaxed … a little dizzy perhaps, but at ease.

"How long you going to be in New Orleans, honey?" Gene asked.

"Until Monday, I think. I'm not sure when Dad is going to leave."

"You and Paul come by tomorrow for cocktails. That is, if you don't have anything else planned?"

"I'm going to show Gay the town tomorrow. Would you like to come along?" Paul asked.

"Your mother had better stay here. I'll probably be up all night. You know how these parties are. But if you're around tomorrow afternoon, come on up. There's always a drink around."

"We might do that. Thanks." Paul turned to Gaylord. "Didn't I tell you this old dear was a peach, Gay?"

"Please!" he shrieked. "I don't mind the dear, honey, but don't ever say old to your mother." Gene tossed his head back. Moistening a finger between his lips he ran it over each eyebrow. Gaylord remembered he had done the same thing many times. "I'm not old, honey. Just been used a lot. Here, let me fix us another drink before …"

The door-bell screamed.

"Too late … the faggots are here." He grinned, and walked to the door and opened it. "On tray voi," screamed Gene at those in the hall. Looking back at Gaylord, he said with a chuckle, "Isn't my French lovely, honey?"

Gaylord laughed and looked at Paul who moved toward him at the same time.

"Mother, darling. How lovely you look," shrieked a feminine voice but it belonged to a young boy who had just entered the room. He glided over to Gene who was holding out his hand majestically.

"Cleo, baby, come kiss your mother."

"God! Do I have to?"

"Listen bitch … kiss me and shut up."

"Oh … well …" Cleo kissed Gene's fat cheek.

"Don't put yourself out whore."

"Okay … mother … we've made an impression, now I'll kiss you the way I should." He gave Gene a loud smack on the lips. "Uhmmmmm," laughed Gene. "That's better … come here girl … you know Paul … and this is Gay."

"Hi, Paul … Where in the hell have you been, in jail? I haven't seen you in months," he cried, going over and shaking his hand. He came to Gaylord, and held out his hand … "Well, Miss Limbeaux; where did you find this handsome lover?" He patted Gaylord's extended hand.

"I'm sorry for you," laughed Gene. "I wish Gay was mine, honey, but he belongs to Paul."

"No wonder you've been in hiding … If I had your honey, I'd keep you locked up." A cunning frown circled the light green eyes. "Live here?"

"No …" stuttered Gaylord.

Cleo smiled at him and went over to Paul; sat on the arm of the divan. "I've missed seeing you around, baby … What happened to that awful Arnold? I couldn't stand her."

Gene spoke quickly. "We're not going to talk about the past this evening … so you keep your big mouth shut … Theodore."

"Theodore, she calls me." Cleo looked at Gaylord. "You know honey, my real name is Theodore. Isn't that butch … It's too much for me."

"It's too much for anyone," laughed Gene.

"Well then why don't you forget it?"

"It shuts that big mouth of yours … Come on over here and I'll fix you a drink … I want tp grope you anyway … Come on Theodore."

"Again she says it," laughed Cleo.

"All right whore …"

"You mean my profession shows that plain? I'm an expensive whore though, Miss Limbeaux. Got any scotch."

"Sure I've got scotch and here's a penny too. That's more than you've ever gotten for that snatch of yours," cried Gene twisting the ring on his little finger.

"Can't get ahead of that girl," Cleo grinned at Gaylord. "She knows all the answers … She should though … she's old enough."

Cleo took out a cigarette, lighted it, and walked over toward Gene.

"I wish I had some quick poison to put in this drink … whore."

"Wouldn't bother a bit."

"Did you say scotch, honey," Gene asked.

"Yes, girl. You know me. Love that scotch."

"You would, bitch," Gene snickered, as he mixed the drink.

"First class all the way or nothing."

"Nothing, huh." And Gene burst out in a loud laugh. It was the first masculine laugh he had uttered.

"Are they mad at each other," Gaylord whispered to Paul.

"Lord, no … they go on like this all the time. They're very good friends."

"You'd never believe it to hear them talk."

"How do you feel, Gay?" Paul asked touching the other's thigh.

"Think I'm getting dizzy again. Don't let me get drunk, Paul."

"I won't." His hand lingered on Gaylord's leg.

"Will you get me back to the hotel?"

"Sure … don't worry … have fun."

A loud knock on the door almost made Gene drop the glass he was holding.

"Mercy!" he cried. "These manly faggots are driving me crazy."

He wobbled to the door and Gaylord noticed, for the first time, he wore golden sandals.

"What's going on in here?" questioned a deep masculine voice from the hall.

"We're just having a mad daisy chain, officer," laughed Gene. "You wouldn't arrest a girl for having a little fun, would you?" He looked back into the room into the half frightened faces of Cleo and Paul. Then he laughed with delight, crying, "Don't look so death-like, girls. I'm only fooling … Come on in kids before Miss Cleo has a miscarriage."

Three youths of about the same age walked into the room.

Cleo walked up to them. "Tom, you wicked doll … scaring me half to death. I thought you were tillie law." Going to the smallest of the three boys, he said, "Jerry, how gay you look in that blond switch. It's lighter than it was, isn't it?"

"No … it's the same shade it's been for months," replied Jerry.

After a faint embrace, Cleo's hands slipped from the tiny waist of Jerry and grabbed the hand of the third boy. He was very masculine, very handsome, and the muscles of his body showed plainly beneath the thin shirt. The expression on his chiseled face was one of keen interest as he looked at Gaylord. "Claude, you handsome darling," Cleo cried at him, "you and that deep voice." He laughed, patting Claude's large bony hand.

"How are you, Cleo?" Claude said in his deep grave voice. At the same time giving the hand a tight squeeze.

"Damn … not so tight," squealed Cleo. "I'm a frail girl, remember."

"Hello, Paul," they all three greeted.

"Hi, kids," grinned Paul. He moved a little on the divan.

Paul then introduced them to Gaylord. They shook hands and Gene mixed them all a drink. It wasn't long before they occupied the large red pillows scattered on the floor. All were laughing and talking at the same time.

Claude put down the magazine he had been looking at and walked over toward Gaylord. Said to him, "Having fun?"

"I'm having … fun."

"Gene always has such good parties … makes everyone feel so much at home … I love to come here." He took a drink from the glass he held and sat on one of the pillows close to Gaylord's feet.

Gaylord stared idly at him. He looked at Gene but preferred the scene below. Looking at Claude seemed to put him closer to life than looking at Gene. He looked at Paul who was talking to Cleo and then back again below.

"Gene's got a nice place here."

"He sure has … do you live here?"

"Here?"

"I mean New Orleans."

"No … I live in Texas … Paul brought me here."

"Oh … I'm glad he did."

"I am too … I don't know anyone here in New Orleans."

"You do now."

"Gay." It was Paul. "How's your drink?"

"Half full … I don't think I'd better drink any more."

"I'll take care of you … have fun." Paul pressed himself closely against him. "What have you been doing, Claude?"

"Nothing," Claude answered. "Same old one and two."

Several more men entered the room and then some more until the room was quite filled with shrill voices; heavy scented perfumes; long fingernails; painted faces; plucked eyebrows; swishing hips, and cigarette smoke, hanging between the laughing, chattering, drinking, moving figures.

"Claude, how about playing the piano, huh?" asked Paul.

"Do you play?" questioned Gaylord. He looked down at the youth on the red pillow at his feet. Looked down into a pair of eyes that were staring back.

"A little," Claude said, still gazing into Gaylord's eyes, his hand gently caressing Gaylord's ankle. "Would you like for me to play?" he asked, his fingers digging deep into the soft skin.

"I'd love to hear you play."

"Your wish is my command." He didn't even look at Paul but kept his gaze on Gaylord. "What do you like?"

"Anything."

Claude arose and went to the piano; he ran his long fingers over the ivory keys. The room suddenly became quiet. He began to play Wagner's music … then Chopin. He played beautifully and seemed to live the music. He closed his eyes as did some of the others … Nothing but the strains of Chopin could be heard in the room.

Paul drew Gaylord closer to him and pressed his arm firmly around his waist. Gaylord didn't think it would be polite to separate himself from him, so he remained still. He didn't want to hurt his feelings … He hardly knew what to do … But he didn't mind … The music was so lovely … so loving …

Gene sat dreaming of the past on the arm of a chair, stroking the blond-headed Jerry. Others squatted on the large red pillows, their hands stealing over the nearest figure, feeling, groping in the candle-lighted room, searching for hidden secrets, treasures …

Gaylord didn't look into the face so close to his but he felt the warm breath on his neck. He knew without looking that it was Paul's breath. It was as if they were obeying unspoken orders. Now there was nothing to do except the one thing that was in both their minds. He felt a stiffness within him when his lips almost met the other's; a little shudder when a strange hand began to run up his leg under his trousers. He didn't want Paul to kiss him … but what could he do …?

A loud knock on the door broke the silent spell the music had brought to the noisy room. Paul sat up and Claude stopped playing and walked over and sat at Gaylord's feet again.

Another knock.

"Gene, the door," someone said.

"Come on in, dear," the shrill cry of Gene came from the dark corner. "I'm busy with a guest," he shouted, still fingering the blond-haired boy; the other hand on the boy's lap.

The blond boy cried, "Gene, you're running up a bill … got some money?"

"Commercial … money … everybody wants money …" he laughed. Then shouted again, "Come on in … the door's not locked.

An elderly man came in accompanied by a youth. Said, "You're a helluva hostess, Gene."

"Mary … get you … When did you ever come to the door for me?"

"Never …"

"Stop acting like the Queen then and come on in and get yourself a drink."

"All right," the man said … "Hi, everybody."

"Hi …"

"Everything's on the bar … dahling … help yourself."

The man followed by the young boy went to the bar.

Suddenly, everyone was talking again. A buzzing came from everywhere. Someone turned on the radio.

"Girls, when Claude plays I get so carried away … I just could cut my wrist …"

"Here … then …"

"Ah … take away that razor."

"May, you don't have any blood left in those veins anyway … Nothing but gin."

Someone asked, "Honey, get this actress a drink, will you?"

"Get it yourself, scandal girl, I'm busy."

"Well, I said to her, I said, 'Mary, if you think I'm going to bed with a sister of mine, you're out of your mind.' Why honey, I was so upset at that faggot. Imagine me with a sissy bitch like her. She knows I go for truck drivers."

"When we came into the room, they were having a mad sixty-nine party. So, honey … I got undressed and carried on … It was simply wild."

"There's a new glory hole over in the bus station and it's grand. You can get the best looking things there. Why I had four in no time at all. I met the cutest marine there. He just got in from Korea and was he loaded … I wanted to keep him but he had to leave. I go out of my mind just thinking about him. I met another one later but he wasn't so hot …"

"That place is red hot, Mary … You'd better change your cruising grounds."

"Is it … I didn't think it was."

"Mary, that's the hottest place in town!"

"My … God … and it's such a gay place … are you sure."

"Certainly I'm sure. The vice squad practically lives there … bunch of bastards … they hang around there like a bunch of vultures. You know Jill? That big red-faced bitch? She has a face like a wet sponge." He smacked his lips. "I can't stand her, she's such an evil thing. Anyway, she was with some sailor, cute too, honey … and big?" He held his hands out about ten inches apart and heaved a big sigh. "She introduced him to me. I took him home with me and he's been back for curtain calls. Well, the vice squad got Jill. She's been in jail over a month. She don't care … says she has a mad time in jails … She's been in I don't know how many times … Used to have a cop, cute thing, but he got tired of her. Think they had a fuss over a cab-driver … She's really a mess but damn she certainly can get the cute things. I don't know how she does it with that face, but she drags home some dreams … I can't do it. That's one thing I simply can't do and that's cruise."

"Probably scared of you. You look so tall and talk so manly. Remember the first time I cruised you?" They both screamed wildly. "I thought you were a piece of rough trade when I asked you for a match … and when you said, ‘do you want the time too, Heloise?' I almost dropped my plate."

"Girl, as soon as you opened that sissy mouth of yours, I had your number," he said, holding his sides and doubling over with laughter. They both took a big swallow of the bourbon that almost ran over the rim of the glass they were holding.

"Dance for us, Gilda," someone yelled out.

"Yes, Claude, I mean Gilda … do your number, baby," echoed in the smoke-filled room.

"All right … if you insist," Claude laughed, rising from the pillow.

"That bitch would do her number even if she wasn't asked … I don't see how she's kept still this long … I think she's in heat for Paul's friend," whispered one to another.

"I don't have to think so … she's almost got a hard on now … look."

Claude adjusted his trousers. He bent down almost kissing Gaylord's lips … Whispered, "This is going to be for you."

Gaylord did not answer. He only smiled and gave Paul a quick glance. Claude was very nice but he sure was a fast worker … He didn't like the expression in the eyes … but he couldn't help it …

"Put Gaite on, Gene," Claude said, looking at Gene who was changing the records on the radio combination.

"Honey, your mother knows your number. I've already got it," Gene cried, holding up the twelve inch disc …

Everyone giggled and clapped their hands.

As the music began, Claude, standing in a posed position, kicked off his shoes.

"Take off your clothes, Claude …" a shout rang out.

"Show those beautiful muscles," screamed another.

"Okay …" he grinned … "you asked for it."

Claude walked gracefully to the middle of the room, his hands held high above his head. Bringing them down, he began to unbutton the thin sport shirt he was wearing.

"Lovely!" someone yelled with exultation as the shirt opened, showing a smooth and masculine chest, covered with a layer of curly black hair.

Someone blew out a candle after he had requested it … another went out … then another … and another until the room was quite dark.

With willowy movements he pulled his shirt from his shoulders, held it a moment and then let it fall. He ran his hands over his spasmodic chest, circling the upper body with restless gestures, a hand flying up as if to reach the smoke covered ceiling, then coming down quickly it rested for a second on the buckle of his belt. The other moving arm slid slowly down, helping the other unfasten the narrow strip of leather that circled his slender waist. With a swift jerk he yanked out the belt, throwing it wildly in the air.

He danced around the center of the room, shaking his body, trying to rid it of the heavy burden that shadowed it. Then, he stopped; his hands went down quickly to his trousers; unfastening them, they fell to his feet. With two steps he was out of them.

Now, he moved like a ballet dancer. Tenderly, he held out his hands as if he were waving a last goodbye to a lover he would never see again. His swaying figure looked beautiful in the soft candlelight. The muscles of his long legs were tense and quivering as he glided on his toes over the soft carpet.

"Mazie, look at that!" whispered Cleo, watching the front of the white silk shorts. "I wish that thing would fly out so I could take a good look."

"He'll take them off … just be patient."

"He will? I've never seen him dance before."

"You've really missed something, dearie."

"Who does Claude live with?"

"No one … he's a lone queen …"

"He doesn't look like a queen."

"She's a manly thing … but queer as a snake."

Someone else screamed, "I can't stand this suspense any longer, Gilda …" His hand feeling his own quivering flesh. "Take those shorts off, before I do."

Claude moved and stood in front of Gaylord; his hips rotating and his hand swaying above his head; the bouncing in his shorts jumping up and down. With each bounce Gaylord just knew he would see what was bouncing behind the thin silk … The thought of Blake came again, stronger than ever … For a moment his heart beat wildly with anticipation. Then he shied from it … sank back into the sofa.

"Unfasten them …" whispered Claude to him.

"Me …"

"You … darling …"

In a trance, Gaylord obeyed. He didn't want to and yet … He reached out and unfastened them. His hands trembled, touching the warm damp skin. His heart beat furiously as he glided the silk down over the hips, the quivering thighs. An arm from behind tried to draw him back but it was not strong enough to pull him from the magic that held him. He wanted to free the legs from the flimsy material that kept them captive, kept them shaking instead of dancing. There! He let go and the silk fell to the floor. A strong arm drew him back to the divan and he went back willing. He stared at the naked body in front of him. It pivoted slowly on its toes, showing the full cheeks of its buttocks, curved back, then again the rising chest, panting stomach. It moved gracefully closer to him, closer the tensely drawn legs came, thighs quivering … straining.

Desire and fright both rose sharply in Gaylord.

Paul didn't wait any longer. He grabbed Gaylord and kissed him long on the lips. A dark shadow blacked out the approaching artful figure and Gaylord was glad. He closed his eyes but it was still there. There in his mind, the naked body came closer and closer.

"Gay," whispered Paul … "you don't mind … do you."

Gaylord opened his eyes slightly … Paul was there in a blur. "No …" he said softly … "no … Paul."

The music stopped as suddenly as it had started. Claude ran from the room.

Cleo sucked in his breath appreciatively as Claude's naked torso ran past him … his words were mumbled when he said, "Honey, you're marvelous … can I help you do anything."

"You stay right where you are, whore," laughed Gene. He began to light the candles … Looked at Paul and Gaylord, who were still in each other's arms. "My God … Get those two … want to rent the bedroom?" he giggled. "Or you can have it for nothing if you let me watch."

Paul grinned and straightened up. Answered with a sheepish grin … "Do we need those lights?" He turned to Gaylord. "I don't think we do, do you, Gay?" Gaylord shook his head and a smile filled his face. He ran his fingers through his hair, pushing back the waves.

Claude yelled for his clothes and Gene took them to him. It wasn't too long before both he and Gene came back into the room.

"Guess I'm not his type," snickered Gene.

"Darling, you were wonderful," a boy said as Claude passed. "You got me so hot, I feel sorry for my husband tonight."

"Thanks," said Claude. He came up to Gaylord and again dropped to the pillow. Looking up at him, asked, "What do you think … was I too awful?"

"I think you were wonderful too," Gaylord answered. He couldn't resist the temptation in stroking the cheek.

Claude smiled back at him triumphantly and caught the hand on his cheek … "Just as long as you think so."

Paul just sat there.

"From the gleam in that kid's eyes, I'm afraid Paul's going to sleep by himself," someone whispered to Cleo.

They watched Claude. It was just a little too obvious. A little sickening.

"The bitch," Cleo whispered, "she's always after someone's trade. I wouldn't trust her with my dog."

"Can a Follies beauty come in?" yelled a feminine voice from behind the front door. There followed several light knocks.

"Oh, Dusty," screamed Gene. He went quickly to the door and unsnapped the safety latch he had fastened when Claude had begun his dance. "It's about time you got here," he said opening the door. "Come on in, girl."

Dusty came in. "My God, Gene! What have you got here; the crown jewels?" Dusty laughed, looking back at the safety latch. "Afraid the law or some piece of rough trade might break in? Or have you got someone in here you don't want to let out?" Dusty had on the same dress she wore in the club.

"You know how it is. A girl can't be too careful," Gene replied, snapping the latch again. "Hey, kids, look who's here."

"Hi, everybody." Dusty laughed and waved her handkerchief at the crowd. They all yelled back at her. Then she turned back to Gene. "Looks like a pansy patch in here … so many faggots." She grinned, "I hope you don't mind me coming like I am. I didn't take time to change."

"Honey, right now I'm so drunk and excited, I wouldn't care if you came stark naked."

"Well … give me time … I took a cab from the club … Anyone else in drag?" Dusty asked.

"No … I don't think so … There might be some naked bodies laying around," Gene laughed throwing his arms about.

"Now that you've seen me, peasants," Dusty began in a deep bass voice, "you can go back to the things you had your hands on before I came in … Who's going to get this bull-dike a drink, or am I going to have to get it myself?" she yelled.

Gaylord looked at Dusty in amazement. The masculine voice was too much for him. "Isn't Dusty a girl?" he asked.

"No … did you think so … He's a female impersonator … Did you think he was a girl?"

"I sure did."

Dusty came toward him, holding a cigarette and a large glass in the same hand. "Hello Dusty," he grinned.

"Hello, darling … How's my dream lover getting along?" Dusty asked. "I see Dracula still has you in his bat-like trance." He looked down at Claude. "For Christ sake, what in the hell are you sweating about. Having hot flashes or something?" Dusty ruffled up the sweating boy's short hair.

"Claude just danced for us … You should have seen him. He was wonderful."

"Honey, he's not sweating from the dance," Dusty laughed. "Are you, Claude. This one starts sweating every time she sees a cute chicken … I've seen this one knock herself out before. He is good … Real good … Move over Paul. Let a lady sit down … You and Claude have had Gay long enough … Go on … move over."

"Oh … you …" Paul uttered.

"Don't you dare call me nasty names, Paul Boudreaux."

Paul took his arm from around Gaylord and moved reluctantly. In a friendly voice, he warned, "Keep your hands to yourself."

"Oh … hell … Mary," Dusty grinned, flopping down between Paul and Gaylord. "Phew … I'm tired." He brought the glass to his mouth and took a deep drink, then a puff from his cigarette. "Tastes good … whew … What's the matter Gay …?"

"Nothing … I … thought you were a girl."

"Did you really? I am, darling," he said with a chuckle. "Feel." He raised his large bosom so that one breast touched Gaylord's right arm. He laughed when Gaylord drew back. "It won't bite honey … only rubber … but it feels like the real stuff … Here, feel it."

Gaylord giggled as he felt the protruding breasts. "Sure does doesn't it," he said with a grin.

"This boy knows all about us girls," Dusty said turning to Paul. "You like girls don't you Gay?"

"Certainly … don't you?" His face turned a deep pink at the personal question.

"Well … they're all right to cook for you or take dancing … but I'd rather have you in bed with me."

Gaylord grinned again and was glad Claude asked, "Gay, may I speak to you a minute?"

"Certainly … what?"

"Privately?"

Gaylord was glad to leave for a moment. He said, "All right."

"Don't be a slut," said Dusty to Claude as Gaylord got up from the divan.

"Look who's talking about being a slut," snapped Claude … "Come on, Gay." And Claude led Gaylord from the room.

They went into the bathroom and Claude turned the key in the door.

"What is it, Claude?" Gaylord asked.

"Gay," he said, placing his arms around Gaylord's waist. "What do you think of me?"

Gaylord looked at him puzzled. "What do you mean, Claude? I think you're awfully nice, and I like you …"

"Will you come home with me? Let's leave." Claude spoke hurriedly. He pressed himself closely against him. Gaylord didn't mind … Claude was very nice and he didn't want to hurt his feelings. He didn't separate himself from him but remained still.

Claude moved in closer. His body came to meet the other's and Gaylord felt a stiffness against his groin. He could feel it pressing hard and big against him as he took him into his arms. Their mouths met. Gaylord woke up.

"Don't Claude … don't …" He pushed away the hand that had groped his body.

"I'm sorry, Gay … I want you so badly," Claude whispered, kissing the ear.

"We'd better go."

"Look," whispered Claude, glancing down at the front of his trousers.

Gaylord didn't have to look. He knew without looking … "That's your worry," sputtered Gaylord. "Let's go."

"Don't leave me," cried Claude.

"I've got to," he said, unlocking the door. He stood there for a moment, turned back and kissed Claude, held him in his arms for one brief moment. "I like you, Claude … I like you very much … but …" He turned again and left.

All eyes followed him when he re-entered the room and sat down beside Paul. They smiled at each other but neither said a word. In fact the whole room was a dead silence.

"I'll sing you a number if someone will play for me," screamed Dusty, trying to break the tenseness … He walked over to the piano. "Come on, Gene … Play for me … whore."

Claude came into the room.

"I'm in no condition to play …" cried Gene. "But Claude is … Play for Dusty … Claude."

Claude tried to grin … "All right … what's it going to be?"

"Sing something dirty, honey … I'm feeling nasty … and evil …" screamed someone.

"Come on, Jenny Lind … start belching," cried a high voice.

"Okay … you faggots … Be quiet … The golden throat is going to sing for you." He shook the long net skirt that fell over a slip of green satin. Taking the long handkerchief from under a jewel studded belt, he waved it at the group. Everyone laughed again. "Quiet …" he bellowed, "or I'll shove these tits right down your throats."

"Would that be bad," screamed another.

"Well … there are better things," cried Dusty.

Paul looked at Gaylord. "Are you all right, Gay?" he asked.

"Yes … are you?"

"I am now …"

Claude began to play a fast number and Dusty screamed out words. Not the words written for the song but his own version, which was quite different.

"Gay … let's go. Let's go to my apartment," whispered Paul.

"I should get back to the hotel."

"Later … huh? But I want you to see my place."

"I'd like to see your place."

Dusty's loud singing filled the room. His hand ran through Claude's hair, down over his shoulders. Claude laughed back at him, his hands flying over the keyboard in a wild and reckless manner.

Dusty was drunk and the vile words poured forth, getting louder and more insulting … The sheer material in his hand was now nothing but long strips of silk which he still waved furiously. More high shrill voices, wild screams, followed by a gaunt slap that came from the left corner, then a scream: "Get your damned hands off my husband, you bitch."

"Don't you call me a bitch, you freak looking old auntie," someone screamed back.

The two were on each other, screaming, biting, scratching, pulling hair and cursing. More laughs and yells followed.

"Freak it up … freak it up … hit 'em," screamed Dusty.

"Let's go," Gaylord said to Paul in a frightened voice.

"All right … let's."

They left quickly, without saying a word to anyone.