of the City is a gay literature institution. If you've not read the
books, you are really missing out. Last week we brought you the first chapter, and here you can enjoy the second:
MARY ANN DRAGGED her American Tourister into Connie’s apartment,
groaned softly and sank into a mock zebra-skin captain’s chair.
‘Well . . . hello, Sodom and Gomorrah.’
Connie laughed. ‘Your mom freaked, huh?’
‘Poor baby! I know the feeling. When I told my mom I was
moving to San Francisco, she had an absolute hissy-fit! It was a zillion times
worse than the summer I tried to join Up With People!’
‘God . . . I almost forgot.’
Connie’s eyes glazed nostalgically. ‘Yeah . . . Hey, you work up a
‘Sit tight. I’ll be right back.’
Thirty seconds later, Connie emerged from the kitchen with two
airlines glasses and a bottle of Banana Cow. She poured a drink for Mary Ann.
Mary Ann sipped warily. ‘Well . . . look at all this. You’re
practically a native, aren’t you? This is . . . quite something.’
‘Quite something’ was the best she could manage. Connie’s apartment
was a potpourri of plastic Tiffany lamps and ankle-deep shag carpeting,
needlepoint Snoopy pictures and ‘Hang in There, Baby’ kitten posters, monkey
pod salad sets and macramé plant hangers and – please, no, thought Mary Ann – a
‘I’ve been lucky,’ Connie beamed. ‘Being a stew and all . . . well,
you can pick up a lot of art objects in your travels.’
‘Mmm.’ Mary Ann wondered if Connie regarded her black velvet
bullfighter painting as an art object.
The stewardess kept smiling. ‘Cow OK?’
‘What? Oh . . . yes. Hits the spot.’
‘I love the stuff.’ She downed some more of it to demonstrate her
point, then looked up as if she had just discovered Mary Ann’s presence in the
room. ‘Hey, hon! Long time no see!’
‘Yeah. Too long. Eight years.’
‘Eight years . . . Eight years! You’re lookin’ good, though. You’re
lookin’ real . . . Hey, you wanna see something absolutely yucky?’
Without waiting for an answer, she leaped to her feet and went to
the bookshelf made of six orange plastic Foremost milk crates. Mary Ann could
make out copies of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, How to Be Tour Own Best
Friend, The Sensuous Woman, More Joy of Sex and Listen to the Warm.
Connie reached for a large book bound in burgundy vinyl and held it
up to Mary Ann.
‘Oh, God! The Buccaneer?’
Connie nodded triumphantly and pulled up a chair. She opened the
yearbook. ‘You’ll absolutely die over your hair!’
Mary Ann found her senior picture. Her hair was very blond and
meticulously ironed. She was wearing the obligatory sweater and pearl necklace.
Despite the camouflage of an airbrush, she could still remember the exact
location of the zit she had sprouted on the day of the photograph.
The inscription read:
MARY ANN SINGLETON
Waters Run Deep’
Club 2,3,4; Future Homemakers of America 3,4;
Forensic League 4;
and Palette, 3,4
Mary Ann shook her head. ‘Rest in peace,’ she said and
Connie, mercifully, didn’t offer her own biography for examination.
Mary Ann remembered it all too well: head majorette, class treasurer for three
years, president of the Y-Teens. Connie’s waters had run fast and shallow. She
had been popular.
Mary Ann struggled back into the present. ‘So what do you do – like
Connie rolled her eyes. ‘You name it.’
‘I’d rather not.’
‘Well . . . for instance.’ Connie bent over her hatch-cover coffee
table and dug out a copy of Oui magazine. ‘You read that?’ asked Mary
‘No. Some guy left it.’
‘Check out page seventy.’
Mary Ann turned to an article entitled ‘Coed Baths – Welcome to the
World’s Cleanest Orgy.’ It was illustrated by a photograph of intermingling
legs, breasts and buttocks.
‘It’s down on Valencia Street. You pays your money and you takes
‘You’ve been there?’
‘No. But I wouldn’t rule it out.’
‘I’m afraid you’ll have to count me out, if you’re planning on . .
Connie laughed throatily. ‘Relax, hon. I wasn’t suggesting we . . .
You’re a new girl. Give it time. This city loosens people up.’
‘I’ll never be that loose . . . or desperate.’
Connie shrugged, looking vaguely hurt. She took another sip of her
‘Connie, I didn’t . . .’
‘It’s OK, hon. I knew what you meant. Hey, I’m hungry as hell.
How ‘bout a little Hamburger Helper?’
After dinner, Mary Ann napped for an hour.
She dreamed she was in a huge tile room full of steam. She was
naked. Her mother and father were there, watching Let’s Make a Deal
through the steam. Connie walked in with Mr Lassiter, who was furious at Mary
Ann and began to shout at her. Mary Ann’s mother and father were shouting at
Monty Hall’s first contestant.
‘Take the box,’ they screamed. ‘Take the box . . .’
Mary Ann woke up. She stumbled into the bathroom and splashed water
on her face.
When she opened the cabinet over the sink, she discovered an
assortment of after-shave lotions: Brut, Old Spice, Jade East.
Connie, apparently, was still popular.
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