A Clockwork Fruit

In the brave new world of tomorrow everyone is normal. But Timothy Roberts has a terrible secret. Despite being a product of the same genetic engineering and mind control implants as everyone else, and despite the government's insistance that mental aberrations like homosexuality and gender conflict are a thing of the past, he has known since adolescence that he's gay. He lives a life of deeply closeted desperation, haunted by the fear that he might be the last homosexual on Earth...

a clockwork fruit
 
by laika pupkino
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PART ONE: BISTRO! BISTRO!
 
 
Finally, after a long wait, a waiter wiggled up to the middle-aged couple that was seated at table seven. He studied them, issuing a faint snort over their touristy clothing, then fixed them with an amused, contemptuous smile and chirped, “May I have your order?”
 
The husband tapped his menu and grunted phlegmatically, “Yeah. I’ll have the Beef Dee-golly- ev---is that how you say it?---with the cole slaw, and ............ What’re you havin' Lois?”
 
As the wife started to speak, the waiter caught sight of another waiter across the room and hollared to him, “Could you meet me after work, Douglas? I have to talk to you.” 
 
His tone was hopeful, edged in pleading. The other slender young man, who was wheeling a silver cart shaped like a swan up to a table, called back in a singsong voice, “I can’t, Sugar.
I’m going some place with Sandy.”
 
The waiter, whose name tag read TIMMY, swivelled his face back to the couple, quick as a slap. His smile was bright and substanceless. He held the little pencil and order pad way up in front of his face.
 
The wife gazed up and down the colorful laminated menu. “I’ll have this Zesty Chicken Ole, with a salad, and a Pepsi Minus...”
 
She was about to ask the boy about her choices of dressing when he called back over his shoulder to his co-worker, “You’re always doing something with Sandy! I just want to talk!”
 
“I think I know what you want to talk about. Didn’t we already have this talk?" asked Douglas icily, "Desperation doesn’t suit you, my dear!”
 
The restaurant was packed. Patrons began looking around at each other. Holy Smokes! These waiters were homos! Homo waiters, having a lover’s quarrel right in the middle of the dinner rush! A lady at a back booth tittered nervously....
 
Timmy abandoned all pretense of taking their order and strode across the room with his hands on his hips, elbows cocked backward, toward the other waiter, who was removing the ornate winged dome from the cart and setting it gingerly aside. As he drew up to him Timmy cried out, “Just tell me what he has that I don’t!”
 
“Well-l-l .......”  Douglas smiled at him---smug and catlike and fully aware that they'd aquired an audience---and indicated a space of about a foot and a half between the palms of his hands. The room exploded into laughter!
 
He lit a long butane fireplace starter and after waving it around like a magic wand set fire to the contents of the pan in the gleaming cart, ignoring Timmy as he did.
 
Timmy wailed, “Do you really think he’s going to stand by you, like I stood by you ........ for all these weeks?!”
 
A clean-cut young man in a tall chef’s hat clumped into the dining area with a plate of food in each hand and a third balanced in the crook of his left arm. His harried frown had made him seem less effeminate than the waiters, but when he opened his mouth it was to cry shrilly, “What in hell’s all the commotion out here?”
 
“As if you didn’t know, Sandy!" crowed Timmy miserably. He threw his arms around the other waiter’s ribs and rubbed his cheek on his shoulder. “I’m begging ya, Douggie!”
 
“Let go of him!” snapped Sandy, “And get back to work!”
 
HE’S MINE, YOU HUSSY! roared Timmy, and launched himself at Sandy, smacking his arms up from beneath so that the three gooey dinners splatted against his face and his clean white shirt!
 
"Eeeeeeee!!! Eeeeeeeee!!!" screamed Douglas and did an inane mincing dance as the cook chased Timmy around and around the tables and back into the kitchen! There was a horrible cacophony of smashing plates and clanging cookware!
 
The room full of patrons stood up and began to applaud.
 
Tim and Sandy returned from the kitchen as totally different people, having shed their epicine mannerisms. The three employ/actors bowed to the applause and made their exit, behaving in a way that left no doubt that the whole "gay" scenario had been a performance...
 
The tourist couple at table seven were glad that they had chose to eat at BISTRO! BISTRO!  Everything about the place seemed authentic. The staff, the ostentatious cuisine, right down to the overly precious “interior decorating",  a crazed mish-mash of styles that had the effect of some weird joke that people were not supposed to get. The big placard in a frame on the wall by the front register proclaimed: HOME OF THE HOMO WAITERS.
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<=O=O=O=O=O=O=O=>
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The cook was mopping fake food off his face with a towel as Tim Roberts ran his I.D. tag over the time clock’s scanner, glancing with satisfaction at the readout of his wages, tips and taxes to date. Sandy grinned at him, “You were inspired out there, as usual...”
 
Doug loped past them and was almost to the door when he remembered to punch out. As he did he clapped Tim on the shoulder, leering, “I can tell you really love me, Timmy! I swear, I have half a mind to marry this man!”
 
“I don’t think Charlene would go for that,” laughed Tim.
 
“Sure she would! What did they call those things ......... you know, where they had three people? <em>An imaginary twah?”</em>
 
“Something like that,” grinned Tim as they headed out the back door into a tiny parking lot that was penned in by the plain brick backsides of restaurants and gift shops.
 
“Well anyway, she’s been asking about you. If you want to come over tonight and watch the area projector with us we’d be glad-”
 
“You got an AP? Boy, you’re really burning through that inheritance! No, not tonight, I have a ton of little things I need to catch up on.”
 
“Well soon then, you need to see it," smiled Doug. "These new Toshiba's are incredible. Everything looks so crisp and solid!”
 
Doug’s Porsche roared to life as he trotted toward it. In a trick that had caused him a lot of bruises and embarrassment until he perfected it, he lept at the bulbous roadster. Its smart metal side opened organically for him and then sucked itself shut as he landed in the driver’s seat. The car shot out the narrow mouth of the parking lot, slipping into the computerized traffic on Pacific Coast Highway.
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<=O=O=O=O=O=O=O=>
 
 
Tim headed home on foot. He had an electric but usually left it at the tiny house he’d purchased cheap during a particularly smelly black tide, down on the bluffs at the south end of Bonita Bay California. This small coastal town had started out in the 1890’s as a fishing village, became a film star’s colony in the 1930’s, and in the sixties and seventies somehow turned into a mecca for wealthy homosexuals, known to less accepting citizens up and down the coast as Boner Eater Bay.  
 
At the sidewalk he hesitated, and for no particular reason, turned left...
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PART 2: DISMAL RUMINATIONS of the LAST QUEER ON EARTH
 
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There really had been gays and lesbians here once- the LGBT community had made up perhaps a quarter of the town's population, and had formed a real cultural presence and a substantial voting block. But their influence had never been quite as pervasive as was being portrayed these days by all the gift shops, historic markers and theme restaurants like BISTRO! BISTRO!
 
He walked, circling the quaint narrow streets of the twenty acre Downtown area rapidly and without plan. Three male tourists walked past him with slick plastic purses slung over their shoulders, each in a different loud day-glow color and each stamped with the town's ubiquitous winking eye logo and the words: BONITA BAY CA.
 
Tim knew there had been a time when the average American male would have been far less casual about carrying a purse. But today people could relax and even joke about things like sexual inversion and gender confusion, thanks to pinpoint genetic engineering, in vitro hormonal monitoring and regulation .......... and as if these measures weren't enough, there was the ever expanding array of neurobehavioral restraint implants, which had become something of a social necessity among the children of every developed nation; who would part their hair to show each other the rows of timy color-coded steel tabs protruding from their scalps, as a verification that if they weren't absolutely statistically normal they soon would be...
 
Where the youth of previous generations had a passionate desire to be unique, the kids
of today had a dread of standing out, with "What are you, some kind of individual?" being
the dirtiest taunt a lot of them knew. Today people liked being told what to like, a service the Information/Entertainment/Merchandising Complex was happy to provide for them. Even kids who were well within established parameters, who had no real need for the implants were managing to cajole their parents and counsellors into finding some nominal deviation in their test results that might conceivably stand correction. You might think that some kids might resort to the deception of wearing fake tabs planted in their scalps, but nobody was that neurotically desperate for acceptance anymore.
 
So ............ There were no longer any queers. There were no cross dressers, no shoe or hair fetishists, rapists or zoophiliacs, no bums or drug addicts, and no true sociopaths. Murder was all but unheard of, and the only thieving that was done was motivated by blind desperation, a hungry person's survival instinct (which had wisely been left intact) coming to the fore. Such transgressors were shown where they had erred in their reasoning, that there were other means of getting out of a jam, and they were genuinedly embarrassed and contrite ....... What had been Bonita Bay's police station was now The Olde Police Station Mall, the police force having long ago been moved into an office not much larger than a Hot Pockets stand.
 
Society had changed so radically that there was a whimsical sense of nostalgia afoot (not unlike the previous century's distortions of the toil, the privation, the lawlessness and the often arbitrary justice of life in the American "Old West" into a standardized fantasy), which had led to the development of themed attractions featuring evolution's discards; not just former gay enclaves but places like WINO WORLD and MEAN STREETS U.S.A....
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<=O=O=O=O=O=O=O=>
 
 
Tourism had produced a lot of jobs here, and the young men and women who acted the part of hard-ass dykes and screaming pansies experienced neither the disapproval of their families nor the slightest sense of discomfort. For they could look down into themselves, into the deepest recesses of their nature without sensing any vague lumbering shadows of things they would like to pretend weren't down there.
 
Or at least all of them but Tim anyway. When he sounded his own emotions and sexual desires it was an occasion for panic. He didn't have to look very deep to know that he really was gay! Somehow, despite the best genes his parents could afford, and in spite of his brain having been wired up like a Christmas tree all through childhood, Tim had grown up into the real thing- a dysnormal freak!
 
Since the emergence of these proclivities in his adolescence his life had become an endless paranoid tightrope walk, of feigned interests and bogus reactions. Like not allowing himself to show even a hint of the alarm that had coursed through him when his co-worker had announced: "I can tell you really love me, Timmy!"; but modulating his response within a picosecond and chuckling good naturedly, treading the crest of the crumbling wave of deception that constituted his life ...
 
He wound up and down and around the constricted streets and the shop-lined alleys in a self absorbed haze. Turning at random, slicing through the teeming throngs of tourists, dodging around the ornamental antique parking meters and the projector kiosks ......... Hurrying along like the desperate hero of some old Hitchcock film as he flees from the silent assassin through a boisterous carnival crowd (camera angles all paranoiacally skewed and tipsy), none of these revelers aware of the grim drama he is trapped in.
 
Tim was taking these frantic walks with greater and greater frequency, wandering these same sidewalks until late at night; waking the next morning with his legs all cramped and sore before going back to another eight hours of bussing and waiting on tables, playing a "gay" character that was a minstrel show travesty of the person he felt himself to be...
 
He passed the old pornobilia shop, but didn't want to go in today. He had cut way back on the frequency of his purchases when the owner---an immense bearded intellectual comedian of a man---had taken to hailing him with: "Hey, it's my best customer!"
 
While lots of people were collectors of obsolete sex toys and antique pornography that were far more morbid and perverted than the titles he bought, those other, more detached collectors didn't have to worry about breathing funny when they bought theirs...
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<=O=O=O=O=O=O=O=>
 
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Tim's best friend on Earth had been Gidget Quan Trang, a girl he'd met in junior high school. Everyone had assumed that she was his steady girl, a belief that Tim would seldom say anything to correct, and oddly enough neither had Gidget...
 
Had she secretly guessed everything and been covering for him? It was an appealing notion of loyalty, but probably not. Gidget wasn't one to make wild intuitive leaps. She seemed to believe his basic problem was shyness, and had spoken to him about attending hypno-groups. "You know, normification doesn't end with the tabs. Some of us need extra help. I know I did for my nail biting..."
 
But she hadn't really pushed it. Gidget had been a great believer in destiny when it came to relationships, and that some day the right person would come along for everyone. But then for Gidget he did. Almost a year ago now she had married and moved to Utah, leaving Tim with a gigantic gap in his life and the realization of just how few good friends he had actually had...
 
True, he could have gone to watch tri-D's at Doug and Charlene's place tonight, they both really enjoyed his company. But the sight of them piled contentedly against each other on the smartsofa would have been too depressing .......... Until recently he had enjoyed going to the courts at Main Beach Park after work to play some half-court jungleball and knock back a few beers, but he had stopped going out of the fear that his excitement in the presence of all those lithe young guys would somehow be recognized for what it was...
 
He was finding it more and more comfortable to just shun everyone, spending his time alone at home; or else going out for these agitated, ritually masochistic walks ........... in which he would never venture up into the jasmine scented canyons above town---those gorgeous white cottages set among rainbow gardens, the arbors shrouded in luminous bougainvillea---but kept circling the ugly heart of the city's tourist pit; the glass fronts of the shops showing his haggard reflection, their garish signs taunting him:
 
//// HI SAILOR! //// BIG DICK'S FOOT LONG HOTDOGS /// LEZ BE FRIENDS! ////
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Once, during a long personal talk with Gidget, when she was confiding to him about some personal problem or other, she had exclaimed that there was nothing he could possibly tell her that would make her like him any less, and he had yearned to tell her all of this. But Gidget's idea of a deep dark secret was like most people's anymore, confessing that you enjoyed a certain combination of foods that was somewhat unconventional; nothing that could really put a friend's claims of unwavering acceptance to the test. Actual sexual deviance would have seemed like something out of some murky primevil phase of our evolution to her. Like having gills and a tail...
 
Tim was pretty sure that he would eventually tell someone, involuntarily blurting it out to the wrong person. Then a phone call would be made, to some covert government department, and he would disappear into the white-tiled innards of that evil research center, where the generally catastrophic results of using behavioral restraint implants on full grown adults were still being secretly studied-
 
No ......... This sense of danger he lived with hour by hour was just a childish self-indulgence. Something to give his life drama, a sick sort of importance. Something out of those corny old paperbacks of his...
 
For a while he had been on this spree of devouring every old dystopian science fiction novel he could get his hands on. You know the story: The idealistic misfit/hero and his dedicated band, fighting for freedom and justice against monstrous odds, sweating through the streetcorner checkpoints with their forged ID's; setting about like tiny mice in the machinery to bring down the cumbersome, inhumanly repressive SYSTEM ............. and finally blowing up the great COMPUTER THAT RAN EVERYTHING by asking it some trick philosopical question that its rigid fascistic programming could not tolerate!
 
He had glutted themselves on these stories, identifying with the righteousness of the oppressed, until it dawned on him that---here in the real "future"---the same techniques that had done away with homosexuals, congenital diabetics, the ranting streetcorner lunatics and those pesky left handed people had also eliminated the sort of sadists and vicious humorless fanatics who invariably held power in those old novels, as well as in the many real life dictatorships of that awful century.
 
For all those who had the good fortune to be born, the machinery of civil liberties was purring along better than ever these days. Wars were small scale things, flaring up for a few months in some subglobal state before the Peace Gas could be deployed.
 
Who but an unbalanced weirdo could be against a medical science that had eliminated so much conflict, so much fear and suffering and grief? That had enabled such strides toward a truly equal and harmonious society?
 
Eventually Tim had been forced to conclude that he wasn't likely to be nabbed off the sidewalk by the Normalcy Police. There weren't any laws or even any current crusades against what he was, any more than there were rules against turning into a horse. It simply didn't happen....
 
The hell he faced would be far less dramatic: To live out his life as a singular anomoly, alone and unloved and without a match anywhere...
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PART THREE: YOUR CHOICE OF ENDINGS
 
 
When he glanced up and saw the granite rectangle looming two blocks away, he realized where he had been heading all along: The clock towere of what had once been the Methodist Church but was now the township's local historical museum. It jutted out into the assymetrical Y-intersection, a mass of grey blocks that appearedto fill the gap ahead where the shingled storefronts ended...
 
Tim had been ending up here more and more often, strolling down this way for his 3 p.m. lunch break, at 6 or 9:00 after work, and---on sleepless nights---even at midnight, when the gothic bell tower stood ghostly and mist-shrouded in the upturned floodlights.
 
The clock's hands, squiggly black iron shapes like chinese dragons tied into knots, said four minutes til six. He told himself that he should turn left, and head out toward Canyon Blvd., forget the damned robots, but once again he was held fast by the masochistic compulsion. He found a spot within the church's triangular front courtyard, on a long concrete bench that formed a V around the feet of some big dusty eucalyptus trees.
 
Now clusters of tourists were flocking this way, crunching across the gravel while admiring the ornate wooden façade of the clock, which started just above the tall pointed arch of the doorway and extended up the stone front of the tower like something that had been hung on there. And it had been.
 
The enamelled steel disk of the clockface---up toward the top of this giant oak cabinet---had a square set in it which would rotate to show the phases of the moon, and another that bore eerie characters that might have been alchemical symbols. Weird...
 
Beating out bids by CASTROLAND and SIX FAGS FIRE ISLAND, Bonita Bay had acquired the clock at the auction known as the Great Vatican Garage Sale. The device's origins were shrouded in mystery. Some say it had been commissioned by a depraved Belgian duke in 1640. Side by side below the bulging dial were a pair of doors that opened out onto a roomy wooden platform like a theater marquee, which Tim knew to be crisscrossed by iron tracks.
 
He sighed defeatedly. Why did he torture himself by coming here, waiting for the two mechanical faggots to come wheeling out of their doors to do a goofy dance around each other before engaging in a spastic pantomime of anal sex while tourists laughed and took pictures?
 
He sat watching as the big clock ticked off another minute, despairing of his life. It was all getting steadily worse, he was having a harder and harder time pretending he wasn't miserable ........ and here he was only twenty-two years old! What would it be like at 30? At 45?!?
 
It was then that Tim had a forbidden though....
 
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CONCLUSION A: Artsy Ambiguous "Hanging" Ending...
 
And here we leave him, with the clock hands pointing to two minutes before six, while the bullshit in his brain whirls ever onward, screeching into the night like a mammoth flywheel of loathing and self pity .............. THE END.
 
I know this isn't much of a conclusion. It might even seem suspiciously like the author didn't know how to end her story, and so opted for one of those pseudo-profound non-endings that leave you asking: HUH??!
 
But neither is the day to day life of the typical slob known for its poetics or its tidy finales. You get through the day somehow and then there's another to be dealt with. At any given moment your story is as complete as it can be; the rest of your tale remains a faceless cipher, until the Big Clock Beyond Space meters out a bit more of it...
 
And if things are bad now you might assume they will always be bad, or that they will only get worse. And you might even commit suicide, which in nearly all cases results from a grave deficiency in objectivity.
 
Because life can change. Fulfilment and meaning can take the form of something that you can't currently even imagine...
 
Might this not be the best possible end for our story? To leave him sitting safely on that bench in the ticking present, however miserable he presumes himself to be? He has a job. A place to live. Food. Freedom from illness or physical pain. The Earth's ecosystem has yet to really give way under the strains placed on it by humankind's follies, and the latest Geo Report---the first somewhat optimistic one in decades---sounded like things might just be starting to turn around!
 
And yet here he sits, with a heart full of loathing, thinking something very, very dumb.
 
Stop Tim. Refrain from such morbidity...
 
Stop, reader. Leave him sitting on his bench under the shady trees, in the breeze of a warm summer twilight...
 
Okay so don't stop.
 
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CONCLUSION B: The Old Pornography Shop
 
Tim was shocked to realize that he was actually considering suicide. That he had been weighing the different methods he had seen in old cartoons and such for their likelihood of success! He jumped up at 5:58 and rushed off- leaving the mechanized sex display to the gawking tourists.
 
Tim had been tabbed against suicidal depression at the age of six and again at ten. Moods good and bad were normal, but these sorts of polar extremes were unheard of! So even worse than the fear that he might kill himself was the shock of finding that he could actually think such things; of discovering yet another "impossible" deviation within his mind!
 
The enormity of it! What might he think next, as every last civilized restraint was blasted from his psyche by the force of his inner depravity---like the heat resistant tiles on those old fashioned steam-iron space shuttles peeling away---until he found himself irresistably compelled toward every form of violence and villany!
 
He had to act, to save himself- his fear of telling someone be damned!
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<=O=O=O=O=O=O=O=>
  
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The museum's bells were striking six when he bounded up the steps of LAVENDER MEMORIES, the bevelled-glass shutter of a door spinning open for him as he stepped through. Morty, the owner, boomed, "Hey, it's my best customer!"
 
"How you doing Morty?" grinned Tim.
 
"Cool as a fool in a swimming pool," joshed Morty, "Hey, I got a great new batch of these TV BODY BUILDER magazines today. Check 'em out..."
 
Tim didn't really want them, he was here for information, but he made a show of selecting two of them, said something in admiration of the condition the old color mags were in, and bought them with his U.S. Treasury Card. The fact that he didn't find these pictorals of sweaty weightlifters with gigantic bulbous muscles done up in full drag even remotely erotic helped him to draw one out of its plastic sleeve, to flip it open and hoot, "My God, this is luuuuuuuuudicrous! Just look at this genderstupid yo yo!"
 
Morty tapped the page, a pictoral entitled Bench Press Princess, "Well I'm not sure exactly what audience these were appealing to. Gays might have liked the guy here but probably not the outfit, and I don't think trannies, or what they called tranny chasers would have cared much for all the muscles. Although there were some highly specialized niches, especially with the birth of the internet. The nineties and double-O's are a goldmine for fetish anthropologists ........ And as far as the young gentleman there goes, the guys who posed these things weren't necessarily into whatever they were doing, they might have just needed the money. That's a pretty pattern on that mini-dress by the way..."
 
They talked for a while, about the magazines, about soundtracks from classic porn films, about an old book of Beardsley's illustrations for the Satyricon which was about to be reissued .......... until Tim felt it was safe to ask Morty, in the wry tone of someone venturing off into wild, off-the-wall speculations, "Do you ever wonder whether there might be any gay people left? Did you ever get someone in here who you thought might really be buying some of this stuff to like ......... get their rocks off?"
 
"Oh sure. Thirty years ago when I first opened this place I had some in here who were born before the Genetic Standards Act. They didn't bother anyone, acted polite enough, didn't try to bugger me or whatever; and you won't believe this, but you'd be surprised at how normal they seemed. And I'm sure at least some of them are still alive. But at a hundred plus years old I don't think they'd have much interest left in porno, or deviant sex..."
 
Tim slid the magazine back into its cover and started for the door. "But nobody born since then, huh? You don't think that out of twelve billion people there might be a few who get past the screening?"
 
"Well if you're talking worldwide, of course there are. Some of the subglobal societies don't believe in messing with Mother Nature's DNA, and others are just too poor to. I know an anthropologist out of UC who's in Turkey right now. He said when he got off the hypersonic it was like he had stepped back into 1980. They got ...... well you name it. As he deplaned the PA was telling people to keep an eye on their bags, like someone might steal them! And there were cops everywhere..."
 
"Hard to believe..."
 
"Hard for us, yes. Could you imagine clobbering someone just to get their stuff? And they also have their eight or ten percent who grow up attracted to their own sex. It just happens. Nature throws all kinds of weird regressive stuff into the mix if you don't screen it. It's the difference between a rose garden and a field of weeds. It's like they say, 'Nature Is Bunk'."
 
"Fascinating ......... Well thanks a lot Morty," said Tim and left the converted cottage, just as a pair of elderly women in SNATCH MY SCARF t-shirts were entering. He waved the magazines as the door spiralled shut.
 
He walked up the sidewalk feeling strangely light, as if gravity had been turned down a notch. Suddenly he was not so devastatingly alone anymore. Somewhere out there were people like him...
 
He went back to college. Got a degree. Joined the Universal Helper League and moved to the drought-ravaged plains of Brazil. Did some good for the world and had four discreet and fairly successful gay relationships over the course of his life. And died, swiftly if not painlessly in a gravicar pile-up outside of Sao Paulo at the age of ninety-one.
 
Okay there. A happy ending.
 
So now stop...
 
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CONCLUSION C: Pitch Black...
 
As his and the five other floatercraft went tumbling over and over down the rocky cliffside Tim was roused from his daydream by the jagged clanging of church bells overhead. The tourists all stood up. Six O'clock...
 
The doors below the clockface opened and the two leering mannequins with small wheels for feet came shuffling out, squee-squee-squeeking, their shoulders see-sawing and their jointed arms flipping and flopping in a grotesque puppet dance.
 
But Tim wasn't watching them. He studied the crowd itself, wondering briefly whether there might be anything worth pursuing from that conversation he'd had with Mort in his imaginiation just now. So strangely vivid and real seeming...
 
As always, he was looking for someone who might be viewing the antics of the two clockwork perverts with ill-concealed discomfort. Someone who appeared to be as shamed and humiliated as Tim was at the crowd's raucous laughter. Another gay person.
 
Then he spotted somebody who---while in no way ill at ease---was surveying the crowd as intently as he was. A kid of about nineteen, with whitish blonde hair, big framed and well-muscled, but not puffed up like the steroid monsters in the magazines he'd imagined purchasing. The young guy looked right at him, his bushy eyebrows rising in a recognition that tim found both thrilling and terrifying.
 
But now he was looking all around again, smiling in boyish arrogance and contempt, plainly more amused by the crowd than by what the crowd was gawking at. He returned his gaze to Tim. Held his stare. Tilted his head and gave an exaggerated wink like a goddamn fairy!
 
Tim had assumed that any homosexual who still walke the surface of the planet would be as hung up and miserable as he was. But here was this young gay who seemed totally comfortable, aloof and mocking toward a world that strove to deny him existance itself!
 
Tim was beginning to wonder if he hadn't misread the meaning of that clownish wink. That it had been mere wishful thinking on his part, and that this stranger was merely parodying the two mannequins...
 
When the guy licked his lips lasciviously, then held up a circle formed by the thumb and forefinger of one hand, and stuffed his other index finger through it several times, grinning wickedly!
 
Holy sh*t! Somebody might've seen that!
 
But the crowd's attention was still fixed on the two fornicating automatons, marvelling at the intricacy and the great age of the mechanism involved, while the bells up in the tower chimed out a churchy rendition of some hoochie-coochie striptease music!
 
The youth stood up, heftinga gigantic rataan purse with a meandering network of vines and blue flowers embroidered on it, and slipped it over his shoulder.
 
He gestured with a theatrical swing of his arm, like some dinner theater Peter Pan---"Hey! Follow meeeeeee!!!"---then went around the far side of the old church. Tim hurried after, not wanting to lose sight of him, afraid that the boy would slip away like a phantom, a hallucination, never to be seen again...
 
He followed him up the curving white cement walkway that led around back, rising in a series of elongated steps to a narrow passage between the rear of the building and the high, damp cinderblock wall that held back the adjoining hillside.
 
Tim was horny, yes, a lifetime's worth of horniness .......... but what he really wanted for now was just to talk to him. To find out what the life of a sexual anachronism had been like for someone else. He hoped the guy would be willing to go back to the house with him, and wouldn't (as he had so crudely signalled) want to do it right here, in the swift anonymous manner of certain gay men, like that statues of famous Republican congressmen in the bushes by the bathroom in in Palomita Park.
 
The kid stood facing him, smiling in the cool greenish light. With that hug bag dangling alongside his leg he reminded Tim of an old clouded photograp, of some brawny but sweet-souled young immigrant back around 1910, who had just stepped off the boat after making his way steerage-class from Europe, holding his tattered suitcase and smiling to beat the band over the promise of life in America, this "new world" with all its possibilities...
 
"I've waited my whole life for this," said the young man in a voice choked with emotion.
 
Tim walked toward him, a sickly hot feeling in the pit of his stomach, his sense of motion distorted and slowed- dreamlike, as if he were being bouyed along on these waves of yearning, right up to this embodiment of male beauty, that Michelangelo himself might have-
 
A fist exploded in his face!
 
Tim flew back. The backs of his legs hit a trashcan and he flipped over it, his vision exploding with white sparks as his head hit the ground! He lay there dazed, totally dumbfounded, his arms doing a slow feeble incoherent backstroke against the paving stones...
 
"You hit me!"
 
The guy's smile had transformed into a hideous sneer of disgust, his voice now quavering with rage, "Brilliant fucking observation! No fucking shit I hit you, you faggot queer!"
 
Tim's had never before heard anyone this angry---had not in fact even considered it possible for someone to become this enraged---and was as confused as he was terrified! He managed to push himself up onto his elbows, "Why? Why did you-"
 
"'Cuz you're a faggot, you stupid fag!" The teenager skipped forward and started kicking him in the ribs, punctuating his words with savage kicks- "Try and do some perverto shit with me, will ya?! I been lookin' my whole life but I finally got one of you! You homos think you're so clever, don't you? YOU SHIT EATING FREEEEEEEAK!"
 
"Stop it! I never did anything to you-"
 
Searing blasts of pain. When Tim curled up to protect the crucial organs of his belly the guy started in on his head! Tim heard himself wailing: "Stop/ stop/ stop it you're killing/ killing-"
 
This was insane! You didn't do this to someone, no matter how much you might dislike them! It was unthinkable to ambush someone like this. To attack-
 
Oh God. As unthinkable as it was ............ to want to have sex with ............ another male.
 
The young man yanked a jack handle out of the rattan bag and fixed him with a terrifying smile; crazy, overflowing with righteous zeal!
 
"Goddamn cocksucker sons of bitches! This whole city's been taken over by you sick animals, with your ass-fucker monuments and queer candy shops-"
 
"But all that's not real! It's ....... it's history! It's for the tourists! Please-"
 
"Not real, huh? Then why the fuck were you comin' on to me? HUH?! Just how stupid do you think I am! I know what you degenerates are up to here! You're not going to turn me into one of you! I swear, if I have to kill every last lousy one of you!"
 
As the steel bar came down on him Tim understood....
 
The last homosexual on Earth had fallen prey to the world's last gay basher.
 
.
 
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▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓
 

 

 

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