The man was tall, well-built and several years older than me so when he walked up and asked me if I wanted a lift when I was leaving work that afternoon I was immediately suspicious and pigeon-holed him as a poof. There were no stand-out clues, like a lisp or any mincing in the way he walked, in fact his appearance was totally masculine. It was just a general impression, a gut feel; maybe the way he looked at me, but I could not think of any other reason why he would offer to give me a lift out of the blue like that. It wasn't as if we knew each other.
Still, convinced that I could handle it, I accepted the offer. Stupid, you’ll say, getting into a car with a large, unknown stranger, but at that age you have all the answers and you’re invincible. He asked me where I wanted to go and I told him my address. Mistake number two? However he said that was fine as he lived one street away. What a coincidence! It was only a fifteen minute drive and he didn’t make any moves on me. We chatted about seemingly inconsequential things like how long I had been working there and the state of football.
When he dropped me off he asked if I would like to go for a coffee on Saturday. Secure in my teenage arrogance and somewhat curious about queers I agreed but said I would meet him at the coffee-bar at 11 a.m. rather than having him pick me up.
So Saturday duly arrived and I met him as arranged. We had a couple of cups of coffee in a popular down-town coffee-bar and chatted about everything and nothing, until a group of very attractive girls went by and I drew his attention to how sexy they looked
“I’m not really into girls,” he said.
“I guessed as much.”
A bit of a silence followed that little exchange. I didn’t know what to say when he’d basically laid his cards on the table. Still, he seemed like a nice man…an honest man in his way.
“You’ve never met anyone like me before, have you?” he asked me.
“No,” I admitted, my sophistication disappearing fast.
“Do I frighten you?”
“No way!” indignantly.
“Do you find me attractive?”
“How do you mean? Do I fancy you? I don’t think so. You’re a nice guy, but…”
“You’ve never thought about whether you could fancy a man before, have you?”
“No, I haven’t.” I think I probably blushed like a fire-engine.
He patted my hand and said, “Relax. I won’t bite you. How old are you, sixteen?”
“Seventeen,” I lied, as teenagers do. When you’re that age you’re sensitive about it.
He looked at me, smiling a little. Nowadays I would call it “knowing”.
“So why are you here? Why did you agree to meet me?”
“I guess I was curious, and I didn’t think I could get into trouble over a cup of coffee.”
“Well, what exactly are you curious about. Do you think guys like me are some kind of monster?”
“No! No, it’s not that. I…I wondered what you do and how you feel about…you know…things.”
“Actually we’re mostly pretty ordinary. It’s just that we’re attracted to other men rather than girls.”
Emboldened and a bit cheeky, I asked him, “Are you attracted to me then?”
“Yes. You’re a very good-looking boy, and I sensed something a bit different about you, so I thought I would try to pick you up.”
Confused, I blushed like crazy. The “something different” could have been my deep, dark secret, but how could he know?
“I’m not gay,” I protested.
“Are you sure? I didn’t know I was when I was your age. I didn’t know what I was.”
“How did you find out, then?”
“I went into the Army to do my National Service and an officer seduced me. After a few drinks I woke up in bed with him and all of a sudden it seemed right. Then he introduced me to some of his friends and I’ve never looked back. I’d never been interested in men or girls before and I found that I liked men much better.”
“I’ve had girlfriends,” I blustered.
“It’s not forbidden. Lots of people swing both ways, but have a preference. I can show you people that you would never suspect were gay, men who are married with kids but live double lives.”
“If you’re interested. But look, you might find out more than you bargained for.”
“How do you mean?”
“They’re not all nice people, and once you start doing “the scene” you’ll attract attention and could become a target for predators.”
I was sixteen. Did I say that already?
“I can take care of myself, and, besides, I’ll be with you, won’t I?”
“You would have to make out you were my special friend, but I’ll show you round if you want to.”
Suspicion reared its head.
“Why would you do that for me?”
“I hope you’ll find that you really like me, but I promise I won’t force you to do anything you don’t want to do. If you don’t like what you see, just tell me and we’ll stop and I’ll leave you alone.”
I couldn’t refuse a challenge like that.
“OK, you’re on. When do we start?”
“What are you doing this evening?”
“OK. Dress smartly and I’ll meet you here at seven. I’ll take you to a pub which you might find a bit different.”
And so it came to pass.
I haven’t given you any personal details, but so you can get the picture…….his name was Steven and he said he was 27 and worked as a stockbroker. He certainly didn’t fit my image of a gay man; I’d always thought of them as effeminate…..like Mr. Humphreys in “Are You Being Served?” He was 6’2” and very fit-looking and told me he played rugby. He even had a broken nose. His car was a Rover so he obviously wasn’t poor. I couldn’t exactly pinpoint what it was that marked him as queer.
I’m Jack. You know my age. I’m 5’9”, hair a sort of mousy blond and touching my collar and skinny as hell. I had left school a few months before and got a job serving behind a counter in Marks & Spencer, which was only meant to bring in some money until I found something better. That must have been where he had seen me. I still lived at home but had promised myself I would move out as soon as I could, because my parents were driving me mad and probably vice versa.
I admit that I did sometimes wonder if I actually was gay, because I had this dreadful, shameful, guilty compulsion to dress in my mother’s clothes whenever I could, but I had never fancied men in any sexual way. In fact I was entranced by girls and jealous of how good they could make themselves look, so I didn’t think that was the source of my oddity. I just knew I was some kind of freak.
He took me to a pub called The Montpelier Arms in one of the upmarket areas of town…..a place I would not have dreamed of going to because it was way out of my price range and as far as I knew was frequented by toffs, not my kind of place at all. Also I had to be selective about where I drank because I was still under-age and it was so embarrassing to be refused service and asked to leave.
We entered the saloon bar, and at 7.30 on a Saturday evening it was about half-full. He steered me to a vacant table and I looked around while he went to get a couple of pints of bitter from the bar. I immediately became conscious that I was easily the youngest person in the place and the other clientele were all male.
Although nobody seemed to be looking at me I felt as if I was being stripped naked by a thousand eyes. I had a sudden realisation that this was how a girl felt when she walked into a roomful of men.
Just then Steven returned with our drinks and took a seat, choosing to sit next to me rather than across the table. The pressure of the unseen eyes lessened immediately.
“Well, did you feel it?” he asked.
I took a swig of my beer to give myself a chance to recover.
“Yes. What happened exactly?”
“You were being sized up. If I hadn’t been here you would have somebody trying to chat you up in short order.”
“But how do they do it? How do they know?”
“Any young man who comes in here on his own is assumed to be looking to be picked up. They weren’t sure about you, so they were sort of sniffing around. When I came back with the drinks they assumed that you’re my “girlfriend” and eased off.”
“Shit! It’s a bit scary.”
“Welcome to my world. I did warn you that you might get a bit more than you bargained for. Still, don’t worry. They’ll leave you alone now, but if you come in here again without me, you’ll be fair game. Anyway, do you recognise anyone? Look around, but don’t be obvious about it.”
I surreptitiously looked around, using my peripheral vision and reflections in wall-hung mirrors to do it.
“The man sitting at that table just to the right of the bar looks very familiar.”
“Well spotted. That’s Sir John Fields, the famous actor. You probably saw him doing that TV series about Richard The Lionheart.”
“He looks much older than he did on the TV. But isn’t he married to Samantha Jones?”
“Make-up, Jack....make-up. He’s about sixty. Yes, he’s married to Samantha, but she swings to her own tune too, I hear. It suits them both to have cover for their extra-curricular activities; keeps the likes of The News Of The World off of their backs. He likes young men…..not like you……you’re far too pretty and skinny. He likes beefy rough-trade to fuck him, the rugged type like me, but he usually has to get rent-boys to do it, because the good-looking ones aren’t attracted to a raddled old queen like him.”
“Ah, Jack, you are so green! Male prostitutes to you.”
“Would you go with him, then?”
“No way! I don’t fancy him at all and I don’t sell myself. It’s not all sex, you know. I have to like the guy I’m going with. We fall in love just like straight people do. Take you. You’re surprisingly good company and it does make me feel good just to be seen around with you. Think of yourself as eye-candy. You like to be seen with a gorgeous girl and I like to be seen with a gorgeous boy, but if I got you into bed, I’d want you to suck my cock and then I would make love to you. How about another drink?”
I nodded dumbly, not knowing how to reply to that, and he got up to go to the bar. That gave me time to pull myself together. He was right; there was such a thing as too much information.
However, when he came back we didn’t resume that conversation. Instead, he directed my attention to various men around the room and proceeded to dish the dirt on them. This one was a Member of Parliament, with a society wife and three children. That one was a Church of England bishop in plain clothes. Over there was a well-known author who wrote spy thrillers. I had actually read most of his books.
It seemed that half the men in that bar were famous or well-connected and they were all gay. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, even policemen; the list went on and on. My view of society was changed forever and I almost started to see queers hiding under my bed. I was suspicious of every man I passed in the street for the next few days, especially if they seemed to be taking any notice of me.
The following week he took me to a club frequented by a completely different crowd. Here they were all twenty-somethings and as loud and boisterous as could be. They were flamboyant, effeminate, limp-wristed and some were outrageously dressed, tossing around “Dahlings” and kissing openly….much more in line with my preconceptions. They eyed me like some kind of strange animal but left me alone. Even the barmen and waiters were terribly swish. Steven dismissed them all as ravers and said they were the ones who gave queerdom a bad name, flaunting themselves in the faces of the “normal” majority. The heirs of Oscar Wilde he called them, not his type at all.
After a couple of drinks we left and went to an ordinary pub. I thought it was quite hilarious that he could not stomach those examples of his own kind, but then I sort of empathised with him. How would I feel if I was surrounded by yobs? He was basically an average bloke who just happened to like other men. In fact he was a kind and sensitive guy who was going out of his way for me. OK, maybe he had an ulterior motive but he wasn’t pushing it. The rest of the evening he was quite subdued, but told me he would really open my eyes next weekend. And open my eyes he did….perhaps wider than he ever intended, or I ever expected.
We went to another club and at first I couldn’t understand what he had taken me to. The place was about equally populated with men and girls. There was a woman singing on the stage, doing a very creditable rendition of “These Boots Are Made For Walking” and sounding very much like Nancy Sinatra; all the waitresses were in sexy uniforms and there were maybe twenty or thirty very pretty girls dressed to kill sitting around chatting to each other or to men at the tables or at the bar.
“I thought you were taking me to another gay bar.” I said to Steven.
“I am.” He gave me an evil grin.
“But what are all these girls doing in here? And they’re all so good-looking.”
“They’re all boys.”
My jaw had fallen halfway to the floor when a waitress stopped at our table.
“What can I get you gentlemen to drink?” In a husky tenor.
“Pint of bitter?” Steven asked me.
Totally gobsmacked I just nodded. My mind was in turmoil. He couldn’t be right.
“Two pints of bitter, love.”
“OK, Steven. Be right back.”
“You know her?”
“Him. I introduced him to this place, worse luck.”
“Him? You have to be joking.”
The girl was wearing a low-cut dress with a plunging neckline showing lots of cleavage, a short skirt, seamed stockings, high heels and was Marilyn Monroe beautiful down to the platinum-blonde hair.
“His name is….was….David, but I don’t recommend you call her that now. She goes by Celestine these days.”
I could hardly speak. It hit me like a seven pound sledgehammer. I wasn’t alone any more! Here were all these boys doing what I had thought branded me as a freak. I wanted with every fibre of my being to join them. I wasn’t alone any more!
“You mean she lives as a girl?”
“I think nearly all of them here do. You can ask them if you like.”
“But what about the singer? She has a beautiful voice. ”
“Keira? Well she should too….she’s lip-synching, although her speaking voice is such that you wouldn't know. Yeah. She’s a boy….or man now...she’s my age. Although she’s probably ninety-nine percent of the way to becoming a girl.”
My head was still in a whirl as I tried to grapple with this situation.
“What do you mean….ninety-nine percent of the way to being a girl?”
“Well, I’m pretty sure that she and most of the other girls are on hormones but this is a gay club, so there’s a rule that they still have to have dicks, otherwise they’d lose their customers.”
“Customers?” I guess I was being dense.
He waved around at the men in the place.
“These are all guys who like chicks with dicks. They like to be sucked by girls who are not 100% girls. If they wanted genuine girls they would go somewhere else.”
I was trying to absorb all of this, while my mind was screaming at me that I wanted to be a girl like them. I didn’t care about the implications of the setting; I wanted to be as pretty as them and dressed like them….among people like myself.
“You seem to know some of them. Do you come here often?”
“No, I don’t. I’ve told you I’m not into girls….not even girls like these, but a couple of the boys I’ve picked up in the past have decided that they like this life and I met Keira when I was in the Army. We’re friends.”
Keira had finished singing and Steven waved at her. She waved back and headed for our table, smiling at him as she approached. She bent and kissed him on the cheek when she arrived, giving me what I can only describe as a speculative look.
“Hi, stranger; long time no see. Who’s your friend?”
She swept her skirt under her as she sat and signalled the waitress at the same time. She was a stunning redhead, if a little heavily made-up. She smiled at me and extended her hand.
“Seeing Steven seems reluctant to introduce us, I’m Keira.”
“Jack. Pleased to meet you, Keira.” I stammered out.
The waitress brought her drink just then and she smiled her thanks at the girl.
Steven managed to get a word in edgeways.
“Keira, I’m just showing Jack around. Don’t jump to any conclusions.”
“You always did like fresh meat, Steve. Has he been nice to you, Jack? What do you think of my place? I bet he hasn’t told you I’m the owner.”
I didn’t know which question to answer.
“Wow! You own it? I think it’s fabulous.”
She eyed me shrewdly. Her gaze seemed to pierce me to my very soul.
“I think you’re very interested, aren’t you? Would you like to come back again?”
“Keira! Leave him alone! I only brought him here so that he knows all the wrinkles in the scene.”
She patted him on the hand.
“Sometimes you’re awfully dense, Steve dear. I think you’ve just introduced me to my latest recruit. What do you say, Jack? Although we’ll have to find a better name for you than that.”
She knew! She COULD see into my soul. I didn’t know whether to deny it or admit it, but something told me that this was make-or-break time. I nodded “Yes” and she reached over and patted me on the cheek.
“It’s OK, dear. We’ll look after you. I think Violet will be a nice name for you. What do you say?”
I was mesmerised, but managed to whisper “Yes.”
“ Keira, leave the boy alone.”
“She’s not a boy, Steven. Are you, Violet?”
Steven got up in a huff. “You’re too bloody queer for me!” And stormed out.
Two weeks later I began my new job.
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudo!
Click the Good Story! button above to leave the author a kudo:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.