2. Fag Rag

R.B. Winters
R.B. Winters
Rent(minus)Control New Book Project Leave a Comment

This is a chapter of a new project I am working on. Enjoy!


Fag Rag

            Everyone is allotted a certain amount of time by their friends to grieve the end of a relationship. My time had just expired.
            “Get up!”
            The sheets I had wrapped myself in were forcefully pulled from the bed.
            “It’s been a week. We’re going out.”
            “I don’t want to.”
            “I don’t care.”
            It didn’t take long for me to realize that any attempt to remain in the bed was useless. Without warning, Rachael pulled the fitted sheet from beneath the mattress, tossing it over my head. As I lay there in the newly created darkness, all I could hear were the heavy thumps of shoes moving around the bed. With a grunt and a heave, the sheet tightened and I was jolted from my comfort space.
            “We can do this my way, or my way. Get dressed.”
            Days of sleep had translated into what felt like the heaviest hangover of my life. With a dark pair of sunglasses acting as a defense against the sadistic sun, the two of us left the comfort of Brooklyn to meet a mutual friend in the city. I had known Kyle the longest, having introduced he and Rachael a few years back. They had become immediate friends, something that worked well for me; I was never good at being a mediator when friends didn’t like other friends.
            Kyle was one of those very typical New Yorkers in the sense that he never wanted to leave the comfort of the city. The city specifically being Manhattan, as if the other four boroughs don’t exist. He and Rachael had decided on the restaurant, a cozy little diner in the heart of the Financial District. This area of the city was unlike any other area on Saturday; empty.
            “We’re meeting someone,” Rachael responded, pushing past the hostess.
            We made our way to the back of the restaurant, finding Kyle in a booth with brown leather clad seats, on either side of a classic mahogany table.
            “Hey, ladies!”
            Kyle and I were very different types of gay.  Having to explain this on more than one occasion, and to more than a dozen people in several different situations, I devised a rating system. There are three levels of G when it comes to being gay… in my world.
            1G’s – The one G gays are the type that you would never know were gay. These are the boys that hide in the closet behind their macho attitudes and stories of chicks they’ve banged. They are often the most attractive and desirable, but if you ever manage to actually end up with one, they are riddled with problems and insecurities. To date, you are signing on for a relationship of secrets and often disappointments.
            2G’s – These gays are a little more widely known and accepted. I place myself in this category. These are the gays that are sometimes confused with straight guys, but for the most part are known for who they are. These gays are open, but not over the top when it comes to ‘gayness’. I personally think that this group makes some of the best gay husbands a girl could have, but I suppose that would be a subject best left for Rachael to answer.
            3G’s – The 3G’s are necessary in order for gay nightlife to exist and function the way it does. Here we have our drag queens and other spectacles. There’s hardly a gay club in existence that doesn’t have at least one resident queen. Kyle isn’t a drag queen, but he definitely has the over the top personality. His chosen career is as a publicity agent for the lovely ladies of nightlife, making him a Queen Mary of sorts.
            “You look like a hung over tranny mess, girl.”
            “Thank you, that’s exactly what I wanted to hear.” Being criticized, even as a joke, wasn’t on my to-do list.
            “Tell me all about it. How’d it happen?” Kyle was so eager for the gossip on my break-up that he was nearly crawling over the table to get it.
            “Do we really have to talk about it?” Covering my face was all I could do. Rachael had me pinned inside the booth and the only way out would be to climb over the pot of steaming coffee that had already been ordered.
            “I only ask because I care,” Kyle said. “And I thought you might want to think about a rebuttal.”
            My hands dropped,
            “What are you talking about?”
            Kyle was reluctant to answer as he dug inside his bag,
            “That must mean you two haven’t seen this week’s fag rag headline.”
            ‘Fag Rag’ was Kyle’s term of endearment for the only surviving gay weekly magazine. It always focused on pop culture and the happenings around New York City. It just so happened that this weeks happenings were about the Devil and I.
            “Who even knows they broke up?” Rachael asked.
            “Who would want to write about?” I added, yanking the magazine from the hands across the table.
            The page had been folded down, not that it would have been hard to find. The left page was a full-blown picture of The Devil with his name in bold black. The right page was an interview given by The Devil himself.
            How’s your career going?

            Things are going great. I’ve been booking clubs all over the city, and a few between here and D.C. I’m a resident DJ at two New York clubs, and I’ve just released the first single from my upcoming album.
            We hear that you’re single now. Is that true?

            What happened?

            Things just fell apart. We’re really different people. Ryan has a lot of things he needs to work on in his life, and I don’t think that I’m strong enough to help him through the troubles he faces. I’ve also met someone new.
            What sort of problems is your ex struggling with?

            A lot of alcohol abuse. I think he uses it to cope with his dwindling career.
            Tell us about the new man!

            His name is Evan. He’s an amazing guy, everything I could hope for. He has a life and a career. We’re both over-achievers and we’ve already moved in together.
            I couldn’t control myself. Tight fisted, the magazine shredded in two.
            “This is bullshit! I don’t have a drinking problem… at least one that isn’t totally normal.”
            “Cheers to that,” Rachael toasted with her bloody mary.
            “He wouldn’t even have a career if it weren’t for me.  I had a successful column and blog. I was offered a book deal a year after we started dating, and had to say no because The Devil thought it would take away from our time together. He practically locked me in that fucking apartment and fed off of my publicity.”
            “Girl, we’ve been telling you that for years. You should have tossed his ass out a long time ago.”
            “What do I do? How do I fix this?”
            Kyle mulled my questions around as he sipped at his cooling coffee.
            “What about that book deal, is the offer still good?”
            “I doubt it. That was three years ago. I haven’t put anything new out in forever.”
            “What about the blog, that was popular.”
            “Was popular. I stopped adding new posts and the fan base dried up.”
            “Writing is your thing. I say it’s time you got back out there.”
            “I don’t even know how to go about it. My first two books were just dumb luck, and the blog was more or less personal gossip.”
            “Let me give you my professional opinion,” Kyle loved saying this. “Start the blog again. Pick up where you left off, maybe rehash a few of the former details so people can jump right in. Give that a month or two and then go see the editor that offered you the book deal. Create a following and then seek a publisher. It’s simple, and genius.”
            The idea of suddenly jumping back into a career that I had abandoned was almost terrifying. What if the readers I had once connected with had moved on? There was also the chance that my writing was no longer relevant. Not that there was another choice. My financial situation was bleak. I had put most of my earnings into the apartment that was now home to The Devil. There was no way of knowing, but from past experience I could almost be certain that getting my fair share would be an ordeal.