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82 - Strays

Inside, the place was packed. It was still a little early before last call, and Martin couldn't see anywhere to sit. The music was playing a tune that sounded like Jane Sibery. He made his way through the dense crowd surrounding the bar, the smell of the sweat from the men mixing in with the leather and the denim. He contorted his tired body sideways, feeling charged by the scene of the place. Except for two tough-looking dykes, Crowbar was filled with men, all dressed in what someone from the Village Voice called “homo chic”: a blend of queerness, punk rock, activism, and sex. Most of the guys here were clean-cut, their hair clipped short as if they were fighting a war. Crisp white t-shirts showed off firm muscles, with some showing some tattoos around the upper arms in designs that some called “tribal.” At least a third slung leather motorcycle jackets over their shoulder, but Martin only saw a couple of bikes out front. The sweat glistened across their skin, and their blue jeans all seemed a size too small; maybe they had painted the denim over their strong thighs and firm asses tonight. A few even went for full-on butch by adding a chain, supposedly to secure their wallets to their belts or something; a couple even wore a leather aviator hat, or reflective sunglasses inside.


Those seemed to be trying too hard. They weren't wearing clothes, but costumes. They probably bought them earlier today, Martin thought cynically, over in Chelsea or the West Village. They thought they would “blend in” by coming over to the East Side, but all they did was stand out like the poseur-queens that they were to the real faggots who lived here. Like Martin. He didn't dress in jeans and t-shirts to make any kind of fashion statement. He and everyone else wore it because it was all they could afford.

By the time he finally squeezed his way up to the bar, Martin needed a drink. He saw a stool suddenly become free and quickly grabbed it. Located in the corner, he could lean his back up against the wall behind him, and not stare at all the bottles. The bartender placed Rolling Rocks in front of the customers next to him, the shards of ice still sliding down off the bottle´s green glass.  After he collected a ten-dollar bill, he turned to Martin.


“Hey babe,” Rick said. “Should you even be in here?”


“Shut up,” Martin replied with a smile. “Just give me a seltzer with lime.”


“On the rocks?”




4888 words (MM)

Cover art by Anthony Sturmas

82 - Strays

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