Brian Weeks – Week 22

Posted: August 29, 2011 in Brian Weeks, Week 22

This is the introduction to a new piece I’m trying out. Let me know what you think…



“Beach Baby”

Driving along the deserted stretch of highway, James fidgeted with the dial on the AM radio. Bright yellow stars twinkled in the ebony sky above Route 6 as he drove along, not knowing exactly how this would end up. It seemed like an eternity since he’d left the cold discomfort of home, even though in reality it had only been about eighteen hours. Mama Cass wailed away on the radio, “Dream A Little Dream Of Me,” her words drifting out the window of the beat-up 1960 Ford Fairlane like vapor, evaporating into the night. He pulled the car over when his headlights shone on the sign he had been waiting forever to see. Provincetown – 5 Miles. The radio changed abruptly to Billie Holiday. James turned up the radio and pushed harder on the gas pedal. He was finally home.

It had been less than a day since James left. At 9:00 this morning, James Brewer Finch was a member of Dwight D. Eisenhower High School Class of 1974. Diploma in hand, he walked off the stage toward his car, not bothering to see the end of the ceremony. He looked back once, hoping to see a reason to stay. He couldn’t. Getting into his car, he knew that he would never return to Lockport, New York again. He began the journey that had taken three months to plan, and eighteen years to make.

Driving into Provincetown, James made a right turn onto Commercial Street. It was just past three in the morning. Well, here I am, James thought. Now what am I going to do? Unfortunately, James had only planned to arrive in Provincetown. He hadn’t given much thought to what he would do when he did in fact get there. “What was I expecting, a Tupperware party and the Welcome Wagon lady?” he asked himself. Pulling into a semi-vacant parking lot, James cut the engine and stared off into space for a few minutes. He spotted a pier up the street a bit. He got out of his car, grabbed a Buffalo Bills sweatshirt and headed out toward the pier.

The night air was brisk, and the damp cold of the ocean gave James a chill. The streets seemed deserted, but he kind of expected that, being the middle of the night. Abruptly, he stopped in the middle of the street and looked around. There wasn’t a lot that was different from any other town. Storefronts, awnings, quaint business signs. Was this normal-looking little town really the magical, almost mythical place where all the homosexuals came to be free? He pondered this for a moment before walking toward the distant pier, further from his car.

On the edge of the pier, James sat down and looked out at the expanse of ocean surrounding him. This was a million miles away from where he could have ever pictured himself really going. Just a few short months ago, he was staring at a cache of sleeping pills he had been pilfering from his mother’s prescription bottles; wondering just how many it would take for him to drift off into an eternal dream. A permanent sleep, so he could be free of the thoughts roaming in his mind. Deviant thoughts of other boys, and wanting to do things with them that he had only imagined.

He knew that in order to survive; he would have to break free of the invisible chains that bound him to New York. But where could he go? Then it hit him, like a lightning bolt. He remembered the ferry trip last summer, during the family trip to Plymouth Rock. The Finch family had taken a day trip on the ferry to Provincetown, and James had seen things there he only had heard about. He saw grown men walking down the street, holding each other’s hands. He thought he even saw two men kissing! But he couldn’t really be sure. They were partially hidden by a bush in a park. He had heard that this place was where all the queers went to spend the summer, but seeing it firsthand was something else.

Vividly he remembered walking down Commercial Street last summer, hearing “Love Train” by the O-Jays playing on someone’s passing transistor radio, and thinking that this was the place to be. This is where he could be free to be himself. He chuckled to himself that day. I could never come here. I just couldn’t. I’m not really homosexual. It’s just a phase I’m going through. It will pass.

When it didn’t pass, he started to get worried. The worrying led to stealing the pills. Two or three pills a week, until he had almost seventy of them. It was funny, the night he sat on his bed staring at the little pile of pills, tears streaming down his face, he had completely forgotten about his day in paradise last summer. He picked up four or five pills, and was ready to swallow them when the song changed on his bedroom radio. “Love Train.” Then it hit him.

And here he was. Alone, but free. He remembered a lyric from Janis Joplin, “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.” What else could he lose? His entire life back home was a lie. He wondered if his parents were worried. Hell, he was worried. What if this is a mistake? What if…

  1. ashleydavene says:

    Bravo Brotha! Like to read more!

  2. I like it, write on 🙂

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