Saturday, January 20, 2018


Charon, the boatman who ferries the dead to Hades

This will not be the only version of this story, which is not just about one person and may be told by the boys themselves in a far more authentic and closeup way.  This is only one “take” that might supply structure for others.  T. has told parts over and over on blogs and in vids.  I sometimes joke that the truest versions would be told by the dogs.  I make no claims about "truth", reality or illusion.  Recent science is telling us that both history and identity are re-assembled in the brain over and over.

Navajo, the dog, was the only “girl” in the group except for people contracted to clean or teach dance or musical instruments.  Her birthdays were celebrated as though she were a child, with cake, party hats, and champagne — she didn’t drink any but was silly anyway.  She was aging, getting testy so that boys who didn’t do what they were supposed to might get nipped.  After all, she had herding dog instincts.

One of the prosperous fathers asked for a progress report on his son and, since the son’s work was excellent, T. and a small delegation that included the son, Eavan, and Navajo loaded up some paintings and set out on a road trip, planning to visit a recommended fishing spot coming back.  The father was happily impressed and the son was proud of himself.  But on the way Navajo became ill and it wasn’t just being carsick.

T. used every skill he had learned from the veterinarian he had worked for, but decided that Navajo could only survive by returning to his North Carolina veterinary caregiver near what had become a family home.  Somehow they did manage to get her home and though they resorted to extreme measures, she was clearly still failing.  

The younger boys had been left in the care of Kilian who pleaded for help, saying that while he tried to reassure them he had used up an entire month’s worth of popcorn and told every story he knew.  The usual anxieties were overwhelmed by worry for Navajo.  In North Carolina T. stopped at a popular bar, called out one of his network of friends, a musician who may have been an “old boy” from earlier groups, and sent him to be reinforcement in Umbria.  The new man soon had the boys growing tomatoes and learning to make spaghetti sauce.  He played his guitar, teaching new songs.

One of the slightly older boys had a credit card his father had given him in case of emergencies.  He decided that the situation WAS an emergency and bought a plane ticket, showing up uninvited and unannounced.  His first act was to see in the back of the Jeep the shovel T. had bought and throw it out.  But it was no use.  Navajo had endured as much as she could.  She laid her head in Tim’s lap and ended.

People bond very deeply with their pets, but Navajo had been more than that.  She had become a icon, an avatar, a reassurance and a continuity.  Would T. collapse himself?  But no.  With a new “rescue” blue heeler puppy named Isabella, he and Tina set out for the American Southwest to take Navajo’s ashes back to her birthplace.  “Isabella” had all the protective instincts, soon learning to wear the helper gear and mastering the classes necessary.  Still, she didn’t quite fill the space, so a Jack Russell (naturally called “Jack”) was added.  Isabella considered herself the Alpha, but it was Jack that kept everyone laughing.

The doctors were telling T. that his shoulders were collapsing and he needed artificial joints.  The bone shattered into little needles.  If one traveled through his flesh — as splinters do — and reached his heart, he would die.  He could have had the operation done more cheaply in a foreign country but his insurance was in the States.  Anyway, he could not survive without Tina and she had to commute to her job.  

It was an ordeal.  The anesthesiologist was not up-to-date on HIV and T. had seizures while unconscious.  When he got home he tried to evade opioids so he wouldn’t have to kick them all over again, but ended up writhing on the floor, screaming.  The doctor finally intervened when he saw that the prescriptions weren’t filled.

Tristan — I think that was the one, though everyone in the group had “working” names or just assumed nicknames so it was confusing for outsiders — stayed in North Carolina with T. because the boy needed close supervision as his “executive function” began to diminish.  Not long before, he had been with an expedition of the boys on new trail bikes and, as was his daring nature, had pitched down too steep an incline, a small cliff really, and ended in a crash.  The support bar across the top of the bike smashed into his crotch and one testes had to be removed.  Since this was France, he was given a prosthetic replacement to appear normal.  

Tristan was extraordinarily beautiful but more than that, he had a wild flair and daring something like T. himself.  In the most powerful version of T.'s essential drive to save a dying boy, this one made an attentive nurse so long as the patient was in charge.  A characteristic of boys who have been sexualized from very early days is that they use physical contact without embarrassment, as a gift, a way of relating, yet not carrying social obligations.  

T. couldn't use his arms until he healed, so it was a little tricky.  T. needed the help but had to keep the boy under control.  Back in Paris Tristan had become so insistent on intimacy that T. finally rented a separate loft where he could sleep undisturbed.  Even then the boy begged to come over to dance with him, and that happened, though Kilian thought it was irresponsible, especially when the boy had to be sent home via taxi to keep him from walking into dangerous nights.

One of the riskiest and most notorious of the SF Leather men sex acts had been fisting, now — thanks to media descriptions including directions on YouTube — was no longer unknown, but the precautions and preparations were not necessarily included.  A twisted man conned Tristan into letting himself be clumsily fisted which split his intestines.  Surgery was barely enough to save him and the virus meds stopped working.  Brain damage the boy had sustained by earlier brutalizations now became active AIDS dementia.

The group had moved to a British coastal fishing village, learning about boats and sails.  T. rented rooms in a nearby inn.  He would be Charon for this boy.  Daily they sailed on a small boat, two men and two dogs, exploring along the coast.  Then T. had another seizure and it wasn’t safe to take the boy along as he could no longer swim or guide even a small boat.  One of the healthier boys came to visit his close friend, but Tristan could neither recognize nor speak to him.

Now T. fished in the surf while Tristan watched on the beach, wrapped in a blanket.  At sunset they sat together, nursing mugs of Scotch and watching the sun go down.  Until his inevitable death the boy never stopped recognizing the touch and smell of T. and still wanted to be held.  When he finally crossed over the River Lethe, T. held him all night until he cooled.

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