Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel. (Thursday morning. Before you awake. A One Hundred Per Cent Homosexual Experience.)
You have had one a hundred per cent homosexual experience in your life. You are twenty-five and you are living in a bedsit in which there is damp on the walls and in which you have to put coins in a meter for your gas and electricity and because you rarely have these coins and because there is a little wine shop on a corner nearby you prefer to hang out in there.
You go there most evenings and you pretend you are Albert Camus working on your next great existential novel. It is called Wine Shop! and it is about a man who spends his evenings in a wine shop writing about a man who spends his evenings in a wine shop. One evening this man bludgeons another customer to death with a half empty wine bottle.
He does not know why.
He should have finished the wine first.
Life’s eternal mystery.
You also pretend you are George Best.
Women go crazy for your long muscular thighs. Men admire your ball skills while also secretly acknowledging your long muscular thighs.
Therein lies success.
Some nights, drunk, in your bedsit, naked, you will climb up onto the bed and from there onto the damp narrow window ledge and you will admire yourself in the tiny mottled mirror above the rusty sink.
Do you have long muscular thighs?
Will women go wild for them?
You do not.
They will not.
You had better hone your writing skills.
Mother died today…
The little wine shop is run by Garçon LeBouche, the boy who used to chase after you at school and try to look up your bum and it is called Garçon’s, the name appearing above the door in faded neon tubing. You like it there because it is sparsely frequented and since the end of your marriage you do not wish to see anyone. Especially those who still remember your face from the newspaper.
You did not mean to climb into bed with that crippled man.
You did not mean to cling to him sobbing.
It was a mistake.
Garçon still sports his father’s miner’s headlamp. He wears lederhosen that make a swishing sound when he walks. He has eyes that are different colours like David Bowie’s.
You are not a homosexual but you fall a little in love with the style of him.
If you were him then this is how you could be.
Sometimes when you meet new people you try out Garçon’s name on them, taking it for your own.
Garçon, they say, what? Like the French for waiter?
And you wonder if Garçon himself has this problem.
You think he does not.
His coolness allows him to transcend the problem.
And therein lies the issue.
The wine shop is a kind of cave. It has only four small tables. Two of them have chairs with legs of different lengths. You once saw a rat in a corner. On the wall is fixed a sign, ‘Wine will not be sold to miners.’
You believe this last word is one that Garçon, of all people, should know how to spell.
But Garçon is nice to you. You do not know if this because he used to chase after you with his hefty henchmen and try to look up your bum or in spite of it.
You try not to dwell on what is, at its heart, a mystery.
One night you drink too much wine and Garçon asks you if you would like to stay. Coming from behind the bar he uncorks a dusty bottle with his teeth.
“I’ve been keeping this baby for a special occasion.”
You hear footsteps from the street outside. A car goes by and someone shouts. You know this is the climax of many small suggestions and would like to get up and leave but someone has stolen your feet. You can see them already in a gay nightclub somewhere, dancing to Kylie, holding the floor agog with their killer moves.
Garçon fills up your glass and proposes a toast. He has a moustache which, although not so luxurious, reminds you of your wife’s.
Down the hatch.
To the nights we will never remember to the friends we will never forget.
You drink one bottle and then another and you decide in future you will surround yourself only with generous people. They will take you to sun-kissed beaches and rub high factor sunscreen into your peachy skin.
You will not burn.
For once in your life you will not burn.
You are quite drunk and when Garçon asks you if you have ever seen his room you say you have not, you have not seen his room and you ask about this room and you ask if he might have a New York street performing artiste in this room, a hot New York street performing artiste who can not be let out due to being so hot she would drive all the men in the world wild and Garçon puts a hand on you thigh and he says, I do, I do have a New York street performing artiste like that. And you say, Do you? Do you really? And Garçon moves his hand further up your thigh and now it is not even on your thigh but it is resting on your flies and he says, I do really and she is the purest of New York street performing artistes but sometimes she just wants a man deep in her pussy, do you understand what it is to have a New York street performing artiste like that, one that is so hot and such a slut in bed? and you say, yes I do! Yes I do!
And you follow Garçon up the stairs and he opens the door to his room and you see straight away there is no New York street performing artiste there.
There is no New York street performing artiste standing by the ironing board ironing Garçon’s Tanga cotton briefs. There is no New York street performing artiste sitting cross-legged by the bookcase reading The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Vol. 1, 1929 – 1964. There is no New York street performing artiste on the bed, naked and legs apart, inviting you towards her with a slutty, yet ladylike, finger wet from her pussy.
Garçon’s bed is not made. There is a large poster of Magnum PI on the wall above it, the great detective’s shirt unbuttoned to reveal a hirsute chest.
I have always loved Magnum PI, you say.
Oh yes, says Garçon, Magnum PI is one of the great detectives, and you don’t know why but this is the catalyst, like it is the end of one of those great shows and Magnum PI is speeding off into the sunset in his motorboat, and he is standing in the prow, hairy chest out, sunglasses on, and there is a beautiful lady in the stern, and you know she is just waiting until they reach the land before she rips off her flimsy dress and they make love.
But why wait until you reach the land?
The land is always going to be there.
Why deny the land?
Trembling you and Garçon undress each other. You take off each other’s socks with your teeth. You rip large holes in your underpants before pulling them asunder like you have trained under Charles Atlas for many years. And you have! You have trained under Charles Atlas! You are a mighty god.
Jacques Brel has taught you how to croon, Gustave Flaubert how to compose a sentence.
On the bed and up against the wall you and Garçon take it in turns to both Magnum PI and the lady in the back of the boat, oh yes, oh yes, and then afterwards you go over to the window to cool down and you press your naked body up against the glass and you look again at the poster above the bed, that cheesy wink, that fakely tanned skin, and you are not so sure any more if Magnum PI was one of the greatest detectives in the world, isn’t he just a ham?, a two bit showman? and you hope that someone will look up at the window and see your violated bum pressed up against the glass and they will think that bum sure looks like it is in a whole heap of trouble, this sounds like a job for Superman, but Superman not being around they will effect a rescue themselves and they will take you to a hospital and you will be tended to by a nurse who will tell you, after she has carried out all the extensive and necessary procedures, that she has never seen a bum like yours, so pert and so peachy, and that she has fallen in love with your bum and she will ask if she can take it home with her and you will say, the rest of me will have to come with it as well, you know?, we kind’ve come as part of a package, and she will say, Of course you can all come buster and you will fall a little in love with her because no one has ever called you buster before and then you are brought out of your fantasy by Garçon asking how it was for you, buster, and you realise buster is a word he has used many times during your urgent and profound lovemaking.
It is like talking down a suicide.
You tell Garçon that although you once had a passing obsession with submarines and the submariners that inhabited them and how in this fantasy you would wear a dog tag with your name and number around your neck, the letters embossed in case your body was found by a blind man, you would never go down on a boat.
You think your meaning is clear and when you glance over at Garçon you see that he is sitting on the side of his bed and that he is wringing your torn underpants between his long fingers, and he is sobbing. You have never had anyone sob for you and your heart breaks a little and you go over to the bed.
You put a hand on his head.
You make a list of all the sea creatures you know; a dolphin, a sea urchin, a manatee as funny looking as a stuffed sausage, umpteen kinds of shark, the blue whale, a clown fish, a clown fish, a clown fish.
You move your hand a little.
You move your hand a little.
They are like the hands of a clock.
In another kind of story you would never have gone back to Garçon’s wine shop again, you would have found another kind of wine shop, one where they didn’t know your name and where wine would have been 5p more a glass, and every time you went through the door your heart would have broken a little bit more wondering what might have been.
But this is not that kind of story.
In this story you do go back to Garçon’s little wine shop, you go there a week later and there he is.
Your first a hundred per cent homosexual experience.
For the whole week you have been imagining Garçon pining, your underpants that you let him keep left unwashed but framed and mounted next to the Magnum PI poster now extensively graffitied with plaintive declarations to your name. And on the bedside table, next to an industrial size pot of anal lube, would be a replica of your willy carefully constructed out of chicken wire and papier-mâché.
You’re back, Garçon would say upon seeing you, of all the wine joints, in all the towns, in all the world, he walks into mine. Can I get you a medium sized glass of wine on the house?
Make it a large one, you will say with a wink and you will take a seat and there will be a kind of magic.
You do not believe in magic.
You do not believe in many things
You only hope that they are true.
But Garçon this evening is not alone.
Behind the bar with him is a young man. He is wearing an Astrakhan hat, John Lennon glasses and around his wrist is a leather bracelet with the tiny marble bust of Harvey Milk, America’s first openly gay elected official attached to it.
He is the coolest person you have ever seen.
But this is not what breaks your heart.
You only have to glance into the young man’s eyes to see that not only is he a fierce and competitive lover but that also he is a lover of Magnum PI, that he has every episode of every series recorded on VHS, that he has carefully annotated each of the cases, title, plot, sub-plot, supporting actors and actresses.
That he does not think that Magnum PI is a ham, a two bit showman.
And this is the kind of story that this is.
It’s that kind of story.