Standing My Ground

31 January

It is evening. A brave chill in the air and the moon is almost full, with a drizzly halo of blue-white mist edged in bronze. So radiant! I cross Market, then 17th, and peer into the plate glass of Twin Peaks Tavern, to behold:

LARKIN!

He’s seated at the deep end of the bar, the hardest spot for me to behold from the 17th-Street side of the tavern, the doorway (even when open), or for that matter: the huge pentaptych of picture windows facing Castro Street (as the sun reflects strongly on that side, from around 3 PM until just before sunset, this time of year). But there is one other spot that, were he seated there, I’d never espy his sweet presence whether day or night. And that’s the mini-mezzanine.

Fortunately (for me), Apollo’s Chariot had already descended below earth’s horizon, and I can easily recognize My Beloved Basilisk through the Castro Street side of Twin Peaks.

[ What I am about to impart to you, Crafty Reader, is another silly little clash between Larkin and yours truly. Nonetheless, this particular encounter was such a tremendous blessing to my world…and which you can already surmise by the high level of inspiration reflected in the entire composition of This True Tale, right from the start.

Blessed be The Pro-Gay Saints Of This World, both atheist and god-fearing! ]

So I stand outside by the bus stop, positioning myself in such a manner as to be potentially visible to Larkin, should he raise his scruffy head in my direction. Which has me leaning against a lamppost, for the most part. He may or may not have seen me, for he does indeed turn his face in my line of sight, twice…but for such a brief moment each time, I can’t be sure. Yet my confidence in his powerful telepathy assures me that, yes, of course he’s aware of my proximity, even if he never glances at his Objet D’amour.

After standing my vigil for almost ten minutes, Larkin finally steps out for a smoke. He leans against the south-facing buttress of Jane Warner Plaza, placing us approx’ly 20 feet apart. After gazing upon This Beauty for a half-minute (while he puffs on a cigarette like it’s the last one on the planet), I suddenly realize that he’s providing me with the opportunity to toss him the badinage that has been haunting my brain for almost two weeks. So I flick my Fortuna onto the curb and walk up to him:

“Are you still telling people I’m your stalker?”

Larkin turns to me, speaking not a word. He scowls and spits on the asphalt three feet before This Trembling Sacrificial Goat. And I reply (totally unphased, I should note):

“I take that as a yes!”

He draws another puff on his Camel 99 before turning his back to me.

“That’s okay, Larkin,” I assure with a kind smile. “Doesn’t bother me at all.”

With that, he starts to zigzag his way across Castro Street. But not without first retorting:

“I don’t have to tell them, they already know!” he hollers like a biblical patriarch.

I parry: “That’s because they’re pea-brained, gossiping alcoholics who believe everything you say! They’re stupid and gullible, with fat wallets! You have them brainwashed!”

Which is quite true: Larkin is tremendously handsome, charismatic, and uber-talented. Every bit as seductive as the sirens were to Ulysses and his men.

[ Thus please realize, Corrugated Reader, that Larkin can have anyone wrapped about his little finger in less than five minutes! So what I’m up against is A Mischievous Archangel Of Zeus who is always dealt Jokers, Aces, Kings and Queens while I (his main charge) am dealt nothing but low cards. No way can I beat him at His Own Game, unless he intentionally designs it so. (And he frequently changes the rules, usually right after I get a lucky roll of the dice.) But what I find so magnificent about This Irish Warrior, is he wants me to fight back no matter what…like Miguel de Cervantes’ antihero slashing a rusty sword in the air. (Please note that the phallic symbolism of a rusty sword does not go unnoticed by this queer renegade!) ]

Mr. Silly Sauropod is, by now, standing on Castro Street’s sidewalk directly opposite me, with traffic flowing between. As he walks down Castro to 18th Street, he regularly glances in my direction while puffing on a ciggie. And I mirror his moves, such that we remain perfectly parallel to each other. Yet, at precisely halfway down the block, he pauses behind a parked Camero, staring at me from across the traffic lane.

I look back at those orange-flame eyes etched in dark night, and raise my shoulders as if to declare:

“What else can I do?” For he is truly loved by this vagabond queer soul!

He retaliates by flicking the smoldering filter over the car, and onto the asphalt…more than 30 feet off from its intended mark: me! I take that as a gesture of profound humility, respect, honor…and hilarity. You are so fukkin cute, Larkin! His glorious mane of auburn hair (with specks of silver scattered about, these days) bobs over the yellow Camero while I stand across the street, shoulders in shrug, as he propels a hostile cigarette butt in my remote direction then quickly turns about to enter 440 Castro.

“How long is he gonna hole up in there?” I question. “Do they have a pool table, ’cause that would make a big difference.”

Still, he left his jacket on the end stool at Twin Peaks, in which case I’m sure I can intercept him by Castro & Market as he crosses back, without my having to wait o’erlong. So I hang out on Castro Street, meandering up and down the lengthy sidewalk while keeping a peeled eye on 440. Twice I march down the opposite side to glimpse into His Accommodating Escape Hatch, but it’s too crowded for me (and rather dark) to spot the little stinker.

Then it occurs to me he could’ve slipped out and dashed in the other direction (towards 18th Street), then turn left up Hartford, then left again up 17th, where he could reenter Twin Peaks without my notice. I am on the 440 side of Castro at the moment, so stride back north to Market, cross, and–sure enough–there’s Larkin escorting a gaggle of young ladies through the swinging portal!

I quickly approach him where the momentary jam of bodies keeps him stuck just outside the doorway. He is peering in, his boisterous voice of good cheer addressing the ladies as they look about for seats. This is my moment. So I holler close to his right ear:

“When you’ve finally played out your silly game I’ll still be here for you!”

“Go away!” he growls, waving a dismissive hand at yours truly. “Get the fuk outta here!”

I step back barely a foot, then stand my ground: “No. This is public space and no one pushes me around!”

Larkin then glowers, his face now your classic beet-red. “I asked you to leave!”

“No you did not,” I rejoin. “In fact you’re being quite rude to me.”

“Then I’m telling you to leave!”

“Public space, I’m staying put.” I cross my arms in defiance while gazing up at those fiery, wyvern pupils.

He clenches his jaw in fake anger, nods his head and blurts: “Fine!”

As Larkin turns to step inside, I call: “Happy hustling! Go get ’em tiger!”

“Screw you, Zeke!” he hollers back as he strides deeper into the tavern.

“God bless you, Larkin!” I parley.

He turns back and steps to the door once more, to extend a middle finger in my face.

“Fuk you!” he thunders.

“Then fuk you too, Larkin!” I say without anger, but fondly. For I know his game, that he is not the least bit upset with me. It’s an act that serves a dual purpose:

(1) To stir up controversy about us, that customers may grow intrigued enough to actually purchase my book…or at least read it for free online, and hopefully spread the word to others. And

(2) that I may grow in spirit by playing the game back with integrity and compassion, rather than allowing anger to rule my roost. And why is this important (you may ask)? That I finally become fully healed from the residual PTSD I’ve carried with me for many years.

And it’s working!

So I linger several more minutes outside Twin Peaks, admiring through the plate windows (as he collects empty glasses and mingles with smiling patrons): what a gorgeous angel he truly is. Then march on hovel, completely satisfied with how I handled his latest challenge. In short:

I feel aglow with Larkin’s mischievous benevolence. All next day I walk on a cumulous cloud.

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