NARRATED BY ORSON WELLES (34 minutes available on
YouTube), THE FIFTH VICTIM WAS TRUTH (45 minute Cinemascope thesis film from Boston University, also available on YouTube), and comedy feature AS LONG AS IT TAKES currently on festival circuit via Film Freeway. AS LONG AS IT TAKES awards include Official Selection Orlando Film Festival, Los Angeles CineFest, Palm Springs Divergent Film Festival, Colortape Film Festival, winner Best Editing Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, and Silver Award, International Film Competition Festival.
As author, my novel “Prince Ric: A Tale of Coming Out" and short story collection "Growing Up Gay Stories" are both available on Amazon Kindle.
My professional career as executive in major motion picture studio advertising began at Sony Pictures Entertainment (Columbia Pictures/TriStar Pictures, and later, Twentieth Century Fox.
My feature screenplay entitled CRY is a finalist in the TSL Screenplay competition. It is currently"discoverable" on the web site Coverfly.
Growing up gay has traps. Gay youth see things that fall flat: movies, books, religion, politics, most TV, magazines, destinations, rock stars, fashion, military, and all things saleable. Culture that hosts identity on a straight kid is lost on him. I say “him” because that’s what I know and that’s what I write about. A gay male kid asks: “How come they use naked women to sell hamburgers? Disconnect looms and eons of parental dysfunction are dropped onto the compost of folly. Society crushes what it doesn’t get, even when it’s our own. Then it takes over as parent. Gay kid panics that he will be put down, bullied, bruised, ignored, and become the brunt of jokes that even he might find funny. He will take his place in a world that at best puts up with him and at worst makes him victim. In the center of his soul, he’ll become disaffected, closeted, afraid, bold, sometimes triumphant, often disappointed, mostly disapproved, and scariest of all, suicidal. He might be Everyman except for the pesky minority status. Nobody fights for him, or so he sees. Ego could be his sword, but how many heads would roll, really?
When a bird’s egg falls from a nest, when a dog is put down, or when your dad breathes his last, these moments have dignity because they are human. We cradle them; so too with the past. Dignity resides there. I knew I was gay at 11. Statistics say girls mature faster than men. Is that true? Speak to a thousand damaged gay male souls. Society doesn’t know because we won’t tell. We’re a fraternity of one, growing up gay. Later on, gay and LGBT friends and relatives may die of cancer, war, heart attack, drugs, HIV, smoking, stroke, aneurysms, or because they just gave up. But each has a story spoken in words like, “Where are the role models?” Or, “What if I want to marry him?” Or, “We die for our country, adopt kids, pay surrogates to carry one with wiser wisdom, but what’s that buy us when still, the world still thinks we’re a bunch of queers?”
All people regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, and color are, each of us, responsible for our own personal happiness. None of us need blame-game the world for its bankruptcy or its successes. Hope takes Faith, and Survival feeds on Hope. No matter how progressive we think society is, there are still the bullies, the religious nuts, the self-righteous and their laws on the books that shouldn’t be; there are those in other countries that would just as soon be-head us as spit on us. Enlightenment of culture does not come from the pulpit, nor Internet, or from Washington D.C., or Mom and Dad. It comes from the courage of the man in the mirror. “I am conqueror of myself!” So said Julius Caesar, quoted by Marc Antony. That said, I offer an item from New Testament. If you don’t like Scripture, then turn the page. Otherwise, spring this trap: Matthew, Chapter 16, Verse 19, Jesus tells Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom; whatever you bind on Earth, shall be bound in Heaven. Whatever you loose on Earth, shall be loosed in Heaven.” Let’s loosen the laws that exclude so many.
Kevin Michael Irvine
A Short Story by
Kevin Michael Irvine
© Copyright MMXV, Kevin Michael Irvine; this is a work of fiction; any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental; all rights reserved;
Remember when we met two years ago? You were 12. I was 10. You were in sixth grade. I was in fourth. My Dad was bringing me to my first Boy Scout meeting in the basement at Sacred Heart Grade School on the north side of town where we lived. I didn’t want to join Boy Scouts. I don’t like joining things. But he said I’d really like it. I could meet new friends. I said okay. It was fall sometime. School had just started about two weeks ago. It was getting ready to rain. Dad gave me an umbrella. I said no way. He wanted me to wear a uniform like he did once in the war. I was proud of him. I wanted him to be proud of me. I asked him if he had an umbrella with him when he was fighting for our country. He said, “No.” After a minute, we left it in the Ford.
Those Sacred Heart hallways are a horror movie waiting to happen. Did you ever see? The cornerstone outside says it was built way, way before you and me ever got here. It’s older than grandma and she’s older than America. The hallways are creepy and dark. Sometimes I see monks sneaking up and down humming stuff. But there’s a wild card monk. He’s the last one in line. He’s got a butcher knife hid up his sleeve. I see him whip it out. He stabs the monk in front of him, he falls, then he stabs the next, he falls, then the next, he falls until no more monks are left but the head monk who turns and with eyeballs on fire, he decks the wild card monk with his great silver cross. Candles splatter all over the place. They set the wild card monk’s robe on fire. He screams and trips on his sandals. He bounces back and forth on fire from one wall to the other. Once I saw him smash the fire extinguisher glass and spray himself out. It’s kind of funny.
In day time, there weren’t any monks; just nuns and us. The night I’m talking about, it was just Dad and me looking for the Boy Scouts meeting. Our shoes clicked against the super-waxed floor. I thought we had the wrong night since we couldn’t find the room. All the doors up and down were locked. Then we saw Mr. Crawford, the janitor. He was mopping up at the other end of the hall (I wondered if he’d mopped up some monk’s blood!) The cleaning fluid smelled good. I felt safe from the mad monk. Mr. Crawford said the Boy Scouts meeting was in the music room. I knew where that was. Last week, Dad signed me up for trombone lessons there two times a week from Sister Margaritte. Trombone! Couldn’t believe it! It was bigger than me. Dad thought I should learn music. He paid me fifty cents every time I walked to grandma’s to take a piano lesson on her rickety old upright. Soon I’d have to get brave and tell him I don’t want to be a musician someday.
I led Dad down the hall and around a corner. The music room door was open. The lights were on. We heard voices. I saw you first. You were standing there next to your dad. You were giggling. You had braces. The hanging lights flickered off them. You had wavy, dark hair, the greenest eyes I’d ever seen, and a face like some movie-guy. Our neighbors who played poker with Mom and Dad brought back a plastic copy of Michelangelo’s David statue from Rome or somewhere in France. Your hair looked like his. Your nose was straight out like his, maybe more than it should’ve been but not too much. Your chin was squared off like his and the rest of your face just came on down like sin-on-a-stick. You could’ve been a plastic model too. You were telling a joke that sounded dirty. “How come a guy’s shirt is bigger in back than it is in front?” Your dad said, “Why, Jeff?” And you said, “’Cuz is takes more to cover a ham than a wiener.” The other guys laughed. Your dad laughed. But I didn’t want my dad to think I liked dirty jokes. I wasn’t sure if it was dirty but it sounded like it could be.
You and your dad knew the other guys there. My dad knew some too. Trent Coggs was the Eagle Scout. He was 13 and he didn’t fit his uniform. He was tubby in the middle so his gut hung over his belt. Blond, kind of. I guess he was okay looking, but he looked like he looked in the mirror too much. Trent made sure I knew that Eagle Scouts are as big as you can get. Trent talked too much. He said his dad was Scout Master. I could tell he and his dad thought they owned the place. But since my dad knew his dad, and his mom worked downtown at the American Realtors Association with my mom, and sometimes his mom gave my mom hand-me-downs for me, I thought it was better if I just was nice. At least I didn’t have his gut.
Your dad was holding up some Indian tribal souvenir in his right hand. It was round and about eight inches across. It had feathers and little bells dangling on the sides. He called it a spirit finder. It tinked when he spun it around in his fingers.
(Right now, I’m sitting in my bed remembering this. Everybody’s asleep. The windows are open since its July and we don’t have air-conditioning. The heat makes me want to call you up. I can’t so I’m writing this. I could have cared less about your joke. It really wasn’t dirty. It was true. That made it funny. Men’s butts are bigger in back).
I remember through the gauzy stuff that wrapped around that wood circle of that Indian Christmas tree ornament, past the feathers, and the little bells, I saw something I never saw in somebody else’s face before. You were smiling at me. It was bigger than Mom and Dad, my grandma, our dentist and his wife who lived across the street and who brought us balloons on Christmas Eve because he felt sorry because Dad worked so late at his car repair shop which he owned. Bigger than my Uncle Will and his wife Aunt Annie who lived in Washington D.C. and came to visit us two times a year. I was seen more by you right then than by all of them ever. I didn’t ask for it. We didn’t talk about it. You just gave it to me. Like a gift.
My relatives, I loved them. They always made me part of everything. Last time Uncle Will and Aunt Annie were at our house, Uncle Will passed me the veggies and said, “Wanna pea, son?” Mom laughed. Dad did too. I thought that was a dirty joke. I took me a day to get it so it must have been. They were great. They made me laugh. But when I saw you and you were looking at me, you and me had a connection that never happened to be before. Magic was only on TV and the only miracles I knew about were in church. That night you looked at me there were no TVs and I sure wasn’t in church.
(I can’t sleep. I can’t talk to Dad, Mom, or sis. Forget Uncle Will and Aunt Annie, they took the train to Cleveland. Forget grandma. She’s stone deaf. I’d talk to you, but I wake up your family if I called. It’s like a rubber band that’s all twisted up with no end and no beginning. Like at the Christ Sacred Heart fish fry where they have poker tables, rides, and gambling. A guy spins a big wheel and says, “Round and round and round she goes, where she stops nobody knows!” That’s exactly why I want to figure out what’s going on. It sounds stupid but you’re never reading this anyway. If you did I’d want you know three things. One, God gave me life. Whatever he wants me to do its okay by me. Two, he expects me to figure out who I am. That’s what they teach. No prob. Maybe there’s something in me he wants me to know more about. Three, I know I’m loved because I am like I told you).
The other day, sure I was minding my own business, getting back after lunch, and Sister Trina started to read out loud to us from “Romeo and Juliet.” She got to the part about how the monk (this one’s a good monk) told Juliet that he poisoned Romeo but he didn’t mean to. Juliet liked Romeo a lot. And while Sister Trina read, I thought that those old-fashioned words said about everything I was thinking in my head that I wanted to say to you. My hair felt on fire. My ears were pink probably. Come on, man! I was about to be a Boy Scout like you but I wanted to crawl under my desk. That night after the first meeting in the Grade School music room, you took off your red bandanna and the little brownish-gold Indian head that holds it together. You put your arms around my neck. You fluffed the bandanna. You threaded the bandanna through the Indian head. You got it to look just right. Then you kind of cupped your hands over my ears. You looked at me face to face. Eyeball to eyeball. You really wanted me to be a Boy Scout. You turned me into some kind of knight. Your hands wrapped around my neck and you and me were like one person. What were you thinking?
So I joined. I wanted to be where you were. We were buddies. You talked me into my first hike: the Maple Tree March. It was a 22 mile hike through the wilderness that was supposed to teach me about maple trees. 22 miles didn’t sound like much. That weekend, we’d all drive south about an hour or so almost to the state line, and we’d camp, hike, and have fun. That’s what you promised. So I begged Dad and Mom and they said okay.
By Saturday, Dad made sure I had my Tenderfoot Boy Scout uniform all ready. Tenderfoot meant that I was new and the uniform was supposed to tell everybody. I never thought this was a good idea. If there was a tornado or earth quake or the river ran over in a storm and I had to save somebody and I could, would the victim really want to know about the Tenderfoot thing?