My Home Town
Copyright © 2014, 2016 by Gary Conder
All rights Reserved
All rights Reserved
After a month the corner of the cafe's window had another sign canvassing for a kitchen hand. Esca smiled on reading the sign, as during the previous night a commotion had wakened him. "You can stick your fucking job up your arse!" was raucously announced, followed by the slamming of doors, then silence. The commotion had brought him from his late night's slumber to lean curiously out of the open window for advantage.
"That sounded like Red." Esca chuckled closing his window. He liked Red. The kitchen hand reminded him of a younger George, except for the hair. His uncle had brown hair worn longer; sometimes tied behind with a band. It was their elongated faces and searching eyes that brought on the similarity.
Out of the half dozen that worked on shifts at the cafe, it was Red who showed him the most attention, offering warm banter as he passed, or a simple good day kid while taking a short cut through the lane. All the time his eyes fixed on Esca's crotch.
Esca applied for the position and was hired.
"At least living upstairs should have you arrive to work on time," was declared and recorded against his tenure.
Esca took an immediate dislike towards the short-order cook, who believed his skills were worthy of any of the city's top hotels or restaurants, as for his hygiene, it lacked even basic scrutiny. Sam Thomson was a fat sweaty man aged thirty something; smelling of onions, alcohol and stale garlic. His saving grace, he was cheap and always at work, having no where else to go, while living friendless in a bed-sitter close by. His short curly blond hair and alabaster white skin were always dusted with flour, even when he had not used flour as an ingredient. His small piggy blue eyes had the character of a dead fish, often blood-shot through alcoholic binging and were always searching for fault in others.
To the best of his ability Esca did what work was offered, smiled constantly until his face muscles hurt, while keeping his opinions to himself. It worked; leaving Sam to pick on those who answered back and to his surprise he was still employed at the end of his first pay period.
With cash in his pocket Esca decided to have his first night on the town since he arrived. Where would he go? He still hadn't befriended anyone except for his work colleagues, who had their girl friends and long term mates, without room for his simple country ways. He could take himself to one of the numerous hotels and bars around town but lacked the social skills to converse with harden drinkers. There was always Marilyn's. He had lurked in the shadows often enough building courage to enter, besides most of its patrons were his age and as he believed, of his leaning, even if he had not yet fully admitted that to himself.
From the shadows Esca paused watching the bar door. Should he wait until there was a crowd entering, or should he boldly cross the street, his head high, eyes directly to the front and enter alone. Twice he almost propelled his anxious body across the narrow street but each time hit a wall of nervous anticipation. Firstly an elderly couple passed by walking a small dog that chanced to crap in the gutter, while the woman smiled blissfully, calling the creature a clever boy, followed closely by a group of teenagers, most probably heading for the night club further down the street. On passing they made loud and crude comment about the bar, one spat violently towards the bar's window, leaving copious spit to dribble down a blacked-out glass panel. The other's laughed before quickly moving on.
Yet Esca remained.
At last his courage built as a group left the bar to congregate in humours conversation round its entrance.
Esca drew a deep breath from the balmy night air, forced himself through his invisible barrier and past the group. He was still holding his breath through the door to be silently released on reaching the bar. His heart racing Esca ordered a beer then quickly hid his thoughts deep within the amber fluid, feeling nervous sweat bead on his brow. He dared not lift his eyes.
Ian Douglas had been at the bar since leaving his work as a junior clerk at a Valley bank and was deep in conversation with a friend from insurance. He had not noticed the newcomer until Brian Kane tapped his shoulder and pointed.
"Hey Ian get an eye full of that." Kane laughed somewhat cruelly.
Ian turned towards the direction of the pointing finger.
"Country eh, your type," Kane added.
"Not bad at all." Ian answered, his eyes devouring the look of the lad, with his checked shirt, country style jeans and western dress boots. It was the long black hair, narrow face leading to a strong jaw and permanent smile that Ian found most appealing. 'The lean and hungry look,' Ian thought as the sap of youth commenced to quickly flow through his body.
"What do you think?" Kane asked. His voice laced with disapproval towards what he considered to be one more hick leaving the mundane existence of country life to find city excitement.
"A bit on the skinny side; could do with a haircut." Ian answered.
"Yea but would you root it?" Kane continued, knowing well what his friend's response would be.
Ian sipped his beer, took a deep breath then prepared to set his trap. Kane gave a knowing smirk, watching his friend move in on the stranger. He had seen the same procedure many times before, as if Ian had first choice of any newcomer, who would become one more notch on his imaginary armour.
"You better hurry; looks like half the bar is interested." Kane warned.
Ian collected his cigarettes and wallet from the bar top then made his move towards the lone drinker.
"Where's your hat?" Ian asked approaching the newcomer.
"Sorry?" Esca answered not understanding Ian's question.
"Doesn't matter, what's your name?" Ian continued.
"Esca Brody." Esca answered nervously, "but most call me Brody."
"Are you Irish?" Ian asked, his voice rising with interest. He liked the look of Irish men, thinking that is what most probably drew him to Esca.
"Na - but my Grandfather was from Belfast and Welsh born if that helps any?" Esca answered becoming less self-conscious, while assessing the look of Ian. Handsome was his decision. Well built and showy from his well groomed dark brown hair, bright smile, gym developed chest and washboard stomach to his bulging work trousers.
"Well Brody, meet Ian Douglas." Ian offered his hand. Esca accepted it finding Ian's hold to linger longer than etiquette decreed. "Where does the name Esca come from?" Ian asked, his eyes scanning Esca from head to crotch. He liked what he saw and smiled.
"My dad's a history teacher and Esca was the son of some ancient British Chieftain who lived at the time of the Romans." Esca declared feeling somewhat embarrassed with his answer.
"Sounds posh but I like it," Ian laughed, finished his drink then continued, "want a drink?"
"I've already got one."
"No that was euphemism for do you want a fuck." Ian corrected. His voice sharp and crude; Esca didn't answer. Instead he recoiled away from Ian, thinking he may have made the wrong decision choosing Marilyn's for his first social outing.
Noting Esca's disdain Ian decided to use a less confronting approach. "Where are you from?" He asked in a more friendly tone.
"Out west," Esca answered wishing to be as generic as possible, still feeling his father's whip on his back and a need to remain anonymous.
"You don't know much about gay bars?" Ian asked.
"I really don't know much about," Esca paused, "gay anything." He added.
"Are you straight?"
Esca hadn't heard the terminology before but guess what it inferred. He thought for some time before answering.
"I don't know, guess not but," another pause, "I guess I'm gay." He shuddered at his use of the expression. It meant for the first time he had actually used terminology to describe how he felt and to a stranger as well. He finished his drink more out of something to do, enabling him to break away from Ian's greedy gaze.
"Hey Wally two beers please," Ian caught the barman's attention. They arrived as Esca fumbled for his wallet.
"You don't know much about pub protocol either." Ian declared preventing Esca from paying for the drinks. Again Esca remained silent.
Slowly Ian dragged conversation from Esca, 'like extracting teeth' he thought but more pleasurable and if successful he would have one more conquest between his sheets.
"I'm leaving." Kane declared over the din of the bar.
"Hang on meet my little mate." Ian turned, dragging Kane into the conversation.
"I've got an early start; I'll see you tomorrow for lunch, you can tell me all about it then." Kane protested and left without acknowledging Esca.
It was a good hour before Ian felt confident in obtaining agreement for Esca to go home with him. His offer came sharp and direct, receiving the required response. Why Esca agree he didn't know. Maybe it was the alcohol or from a deep down need of company, or simply the need for physical contact and sexual adventure.
"I've got to piss, finish your drink and we'll leave."
Alone Esca once again became self conscious. He lowered his eyes from the crowd to the polished surface of the bar, fiddling with the towelling mat that ran along its length.
"You're new here?" Wally the barman asked removing the empty glasses.
"Somewhat." Esca answered giving a nervous smile.
"Watch Douglas he's a bit of a root-rat." Wally warned as Ian returned.
"What did Wally want?" Ian asked as they moved away from the bar, thinking the Barman may have been moving in on his territory.
"Nothing he only asked if I were new in town." Esca lied not wishing to start a pub brawl but he did note the warning, even if he were unsure what the terminology 'root-rat' referred to.
It was a short walk to Ian's unit. Three floors up with a magnificent view of the city lights, a view Esca had never seen before, framed through a wall of glass and fancy drapes. He stood for an age in fascination until Ian drew the curtain.
"Can't have half the city watching a man at work," He declared offering Esca a drink, which was declined.
Being use to his dingy room to Esca Ian's apartment was large and brightly lit; a virtual paradise, even if somewhat over decorated with expensive furnishings and fiscal trophies, such as Italian glass and modern art. None of which seemed to suit the character of his newly found friend, nor build appeal in Esca.
The ambience was soon altered by the turning of the dimmer switch. Ian was settling into mood, the correct atmosphere was part of his trap, that and usually copious amounts of alcohol to numb any resistance. This time it was difficult, Esca was more aware of his limit, keeping within it. Besides he was experiencing a side of the city he had not seen before, as the view from his window was aging brick wall daubed with graffiti and garbage and was in no hurry to gratify Ian's sexual needs
"Do you live alone?" Esca asked.
"No I have a flat mate, Dave; he's down the coast; has gone home for a few days, his parents shifted to some small town."
With the curtains drawn and lights dimmed, the reality of the situation became apparent. Ian hadn't invited him to his apartment to admire the view, or discover how city people lived. Esca knew that fact and was prepared to accept Ian's rudely delivered invitation into his bed but this wasn't his Uncle George's hand creeping silently under the bedclothes while he pretended sleep. Ian would expect reciprocation of sorts. What concerned Esca was whether he could do so and if so, what would be Ian's expectations. Ian removed his jacket which was aimed at the couch but found the floor.
"What are you a top or bottom?" He asked retrieving his jacket, this time neatly folding the garment onto the couch arm.
"I don't understand." Esca replied, feeling his cheeks flush with nervous tension.
"No I don't suppose you do." Ian sighed, 'breaking in a green boy,' he thought. Something he mostly avoided but believed the look of Esca was worth the trouble.
"What do you usually do in bed?" Ian asked, leading Esca by the hand to his bedroom. Esca laughed nervously breaking away from Ian's hold.
"I've never done anything before." He paused nervously clearing his throat, "except being sucked on the dick by my uncle."
"Not another uncle story, the bloody world's full of gay uncles."
"Maybe I should leave." Esca turned towards the door.
"I'll play uncle for the night." Ian gently pushed Esca onto his bed and removing his belt he continued. "I'll even leave the light off for you."
Ian Douglas was a first-class teacher and Esca equally a good student. Within a short time he left his room above the cafe to live with Ian and Dave, who he found more socially appealing than Ian. As for sex this quickly became a pleasure acted out instinctively but with Esca, as in the words of Ian, finding his ken as a top, which went against the wishes of his newly found friend, who for the sake of his reputation demanded silence on the fact.
Entertainment was a constant with nights at Marilyn's and other such bars, parties and dinner invitations. Esca soon become part of Ian's circle of friends and failed relationships but was wise enough to realise Ian was growing tired of his company. There were too many bars and too many men and Ian wanted them all. During this cooling off period Dave was a beacon of stability for Esca, guiding him through what would be inevitable.
Dave Brooks was closing in on thirty but due to a receding hairline appeared older, possessing a plain uninteresting round face, while his body had tendency to go to fat during the cooler months. He was city bred and city wise, while unlike Ian, didn't need to be constantly credited for his looks or virility, or need copious amount of alcohol to enjoy a night out. Dave was the late night, glass of wine with low lights and soft music kind of bloke and was prepared to share these values whenever and if ever he chanced upon a like minded young fellow. How he became acquainted with Ian was a mystery and one that was never discovered during Esca's tenure.
"You know Ian's seeing someone else?" Dave advised during an evening meal, his statement brought on by Ian's absence from the meal table.
"Yes I know; that's probably where he is tonight." Esca answered without any display of disappointment or emotion.
"Does that worry you?" Dave's voice seemed to echo back from his now empty dessert bowl.
"Not at all, I like Ian but don't wish to spend my life with him." Esca commenced to clear the table. "I think he drinks too much and I don't like drugs."
"What will you do?" Dave asked.
For a time Esca remained silent. His thoughts returned home. To his father and the treatment he had received the night he left. Time had dulled the incident and he'd almost forgiven his father. He was older now, believing he could hold his own against any repeated action, besides it was possible his father had change because of his absence.
Esca had not contacted his family since leaving, except for sending two post cards to his mother declaring all was well, without divulging his location. Eventually he answered.
"I don't really know. Maybe I'll go back home."
"What about your father?" Dave asked.
"I think I can now handle that problem, besides I'm no longer his pupil, maybe dad is ready to treat me as an adult."
"What if he hasn't changed?" Dave added.
"Bridges Dave, I'll cross that one if it comes, I have the one with Ian to cross first." Esca giving a deep sigh continued. "Speaking of Ian, he's found a new bar with a back-room and wants us both to go with him tomorrow night; are you going?"
"I don't think so; I'm not into grotty sex with strangers in dark rooms." Dave answered releasing a disapproving shudder.
"Nor am I but I may go along for a drink and to keep the peace. You know what Ian can be like if he doesn't get his own way." Esca paused, "By the way how did you become a friend of Ian, you are so different?"
Dave gave a subtle nondescript chuckle, "Not through his bed that's for sure, he's much too slick and self-centred for my taste. He was looking for a flatmate and I applied; simple as that. Why do you ask?"
"It's just the two of you are so different."
"Chalk and cheese and Ian's would be chalk." Dave described.
"I'm inclined to agree with you."
"He does have a couple of good qualities but they are hard to find." Dave added.
"I'd agree but I don't have a life time to search for them." Esca concluded and diverted the subject away from Ian Douglas and his strengths and weakness.
"So you would go back to your parents?" Dave asked.
"I may try it and if it doesn't work, I suppose I could find somewhere in town to live, or at least in the district."
"You wouldn't consider remaining in the city?"
"I don't think so Dave, I would always be running into Ian and that may not work for me or him." Esca commenced to clear the table, "Besides on my money I couldn't afford it."
"You could always share." Dave suggested and by his expression Esca believed he was offering.
"Are you thinking of moving on yourself?" Esca asked from a sink full of hot soapy water. Dave retrieved a tea towel and waited for the first plate.
"As a matter of fact I am and I think you and I could share quite successfully.
Esca passed a soapy plate, "I agree but I'm not a city boy and miss the open spaces," He apologised.
"I understand but if you change you mind, it could work. " Dave concluded.
The 'Cave' and it was appropriately named. Down a dark ally, up a flight of stairs with a twist of direction half way then into a dimly lit cavern of cigarette smoke, stale smell of beer and sweaty bodies.
"Get going." Ian growled giving Esca a shove as he faltered at the entrance.
"You're eager," Esca complained allowing Ian to pass ahead of him.
"You know my motto, first in gets the worm." Ian laughed pushing his way through the smoke haze towards the bar.
"Isn't my worm enough for you?"
There was a sting in Esca's question, even if he no longer cared what the answer would be. Esca had already reached that first bridge he previously described to Dave and unknown to Ian, had half crossed its rotting planks. It was now a question of when would he reach the opposite side.
Ian didn't answer.
Ian's eyes were everywhere, mostly on the barman. He had known Trevor from a previous bar and in his own words 'had him' on a number of occasions. Now it was time for a return session, which Ian openly bragged to Esca.
"How about a threesome with me and Trevor; He's into bulk sex." Ian suggested without receiving agreement or comment from Esca. The idea of group sex didn't worry Esca but the thought of Ian using him to bulk-up his quota only helped him towards a final decision; that and the previous night's episode, when Ian arrived home drunk with his new conquest asking Esca if he minded sleeping on the couch. Giving a shrug of indifferent shoulders, Esca had agreed, as he was beyond caring.
With the morning Ian's previous night's conquest had gone and Ian was left with the realisation, he was not the only one who used people for sexual pleasure. Esca heard the front door close before first light and by their parting conversation the relationship was over before it commenced. Yet Ian appeared to be somewhat oblivious to the fact, besides there was always his fail safe in Esca and a bar full of willing substitutes at Marilyn's.
Two drinks and Ian was ready to enjoy the pleasures of the establishment's so called back-room. "Come on," he encouraged taking hold of Esca's arm, causing him to spill his drink down his shirt but before taking the first step the establishment's lights burst into brilliant illumination. Towards the entrance stood four police officers armed with night sticks and meanness. The bar fell silent except for the occasional nervous cough and clink of glass.
A small group of patrons closest to the exit attempted to leave but were as quickly pushed back from the now bolted door. One who further chanced his escape received a nasty blow across the side of his head. He fell to the floor bleeding, soon recovering to stand with the rest, holding his head in shock as blood dripped onto his white shirt.
Without hesitation Trevor the barman retrieved a first aid box from under the bar and attended to the wound, fortunately for the young man it appeared worse than it was. "You'll be alright; people always bleed badly from the head." Trevor assured, patting him gently on the back before returning to his place behind the bar.
"Anyone else wish to resist arrest?" The voice boomed from the officer who made the strike, the folds of skin beneath his double chin quivered. As he spoke his voice appeared to rumble up from his ample stomach to be spat like venom towards what he declared to be vermin. Soon more police officers arrived, demanding everyone stand facing the wall.
At the sergeant's command silence prevailed, then a whimper, whispering, the occasional cough and tears of fear from a young man towards the end of the pathetic line. The silence extended for a time as the police officers gathered close by the bolted exit door in quiet conversation.
It was obvious all within the club could not be arrested, there were too many and not worth the trouble, besides if taken to court would most probably fail conviction. Instead a lesson should be taught, one that would at least throw fear and clear the bar for a short time.
Firstly each patron's name was taken and entered into a note book along with their address. The smart ones gave a false name and address as did Ian and Esca. This mattered not as the exercise was mostly to dissuade them from their foul acts.
After the list of names had been established the sergeant demanded that a search for drugs was made. The unlucky patrons who had supplies were soon whisked away towards the divi-vans waiting beyond the bar, the remainder were ordered to strip. Not believing what they had heard no one obeyed, so after a measure of rough handling upon the closest in the line, the others soon understood the authentication of the demand. They slowly obeyed.
There was soon a comical sea of multi coloured underwear, which was also ordered to be discarded under protest, yet obeyed, becoming a voyeur's paradise without the nerve to enjoy - a naked line of backsides of every shape and size; Hairy and smooth young and old, along with a small collection of sexual aids and toys that brought about comments of disgust and humour from the police offices as they collected the discarded clothing.
Once the line was naked, the clothing was collected to be piled without concern for ownership to the middle of the bar room floor and the demand to spread legs issued. Another search, rough hands widened buttocks and gloved fingers forced entry into privacy as a single officer stepped forward to urinate over the pile of clothing. His colleagues laughed loudly while forcing gloved digital entry into the line of unwilling orifices: An act more out of the wish to humiliate rather than chancing upon discovering, as suggested, one's cache of drugs. Searching for the 'Crack in one's arse' was the commonly used term and used with relish by one of the offending officers.
Satisfied that a maximum measure of humiliation had been employed the sergeant called off the raid, demanding everyone dress, before he arrested the lot for indecent exposure, and not to return. The police departed leaving the patrons to find their belongings from the piss soaked pile; some discovered wallets had been removed from their pants pockets to be emptied of cash and thrown to one side.
Within a short time the raid became memory, a bragging point shared with those who were not there. Some who were brave enough and possessing a measure of influence in society, took the matter further, becoming debated on the floor of the state Parliament, while receiving enough bad press against the police that something had to seem be done but little was, only a number of transfers and the demotion of the sergeant in charge of the raid.
As for Ian he found the episode comical, receiving enjoyment out of seeing the nakedness of many he had wished to do so, while Esca felt degraded, deciding to leave for home as soon as it could be arranged and without regret or the issue of a forwarding address. Although Esca did fell he should keep contact with Dave but wasn't sure if he could be trusted not to tell Ian where he had gone.