He was the kid you were told to avoid because things 'happened' around him. He inspired the illicit in others then went along for the ride. An uncommonly pretty boy, there was only one hint of sharpness to his cherubic features--his eyes. Quick and piercing, just the slightest bit narrow. He was the result of a bourbon-fueled series of liaisons between a Croatian waitress named Yzminta Yacich desperate to escape and a thug Army sergeant from Newark called Antonio Parmentiere desperate for female attention. A quick Croat wedding, an even quicker American divorce, and a permanent transfer to Guam left Rony dependent upon a mother who was still a child herself, trapped in the Army town of Radcliff, KY.
Towns like Radcliff force the kids who live there to toughen up and quickly. New kids come and go from all over the world all the time. There's always a new dynamic, a new player, the sudden removal of friends. Long term relationships are difficult to maintain. The kids that actually live there, not subject to the caprices of the military, are the hardest. The only friends they know are the ones that stayed like they did, watching all those heartbreaking friendships fade away. Rony had no real friends and didn't really need them. Left to his own devices much of the time while his mother struggled to keep them alive, Rony discovered the power of his looks at an early age.
Living in the only apartment house between the trailer park and the projects on Mulberry Ridge, Rony and Yzminta were outcasts in a community of outsiders. Despite her efforts in between her three jobs in town, Rony soon knew the various depths to which some people descend as they move down the social ladder. Rony and his mom had always been at the bottom--no big deal. This is the way life is, just another of the undisputed truths that formed his existence: this is life, money and power are what you get to live comfortably, people are awful, people leave, people die, that's it. Money was probably the most important because they never had any of it. He wouldn't steal, Yzminta saw to that. The first time she had caught her son shoplifting a Butterfinger at the Fina station on N. Dixie Highway she scared the hell out of Rony, the other customers, and the counter gal by pulling it out of his pocket, keening over it like she's discovered a corpse, and proceeding to pull down his pants and spank him in front of everyone while screaming at him in Croatian.
He would take this lesson not just as a testament to the wrongness of theft, but as the impetus to become undetectable should the need ever arise. Within a year he could lift a dozen candy bars behind his back with Yzminta looking directly at him, yet he never stole anything, he put it all back before leaving. He wasn't book smart, but he was clever. Having the power was more important than using it.
Rony's virginity was sacrificed when he was 15 to a boy 4 years older than him. He was a senior who lived on the other side of the apartment house. Left to his own devices after school since he was 11, Rony had chores to do around the house before his mom came home at 7 from Shoney's. That's how he met Marcus, one of the cool kids at Hardin Central, always had a pretty girl at his side. He lived in the complex and his parents didn't get home until around 7 too. The first time they started talking, Rony was sweeping out the stairwells, a job he hated. For the next several days they would chat on the stairs with Marcus letting the boy in on senior gossip and dirty jokes. The flirtation was a welcome addition to Rony's day, even if he wasn't really aware of what was happening. Then finally, Marcus invited him into his apartment and the world changed forever.
Bringing out two glasses of apple wine, Marcus and Rony sat in the living room watching television, an afternoon rerun of Wonder Woman. They chatted about school gossip, teachers, the latest fight at last Friday's football game against Rineyville as the wine descended in their glasses. After a few moments, the older boy walked over and sat on the armrest of the recliner where Rony was perched. Taking a deep swig, Marcus put his left arm around Rony, his long fingers laying intently on his chest as the older boy intoned
"Ever played around with a dude, Rony?"
Rony sat still as a statue, not knowing what to say. He didn't want to move and didn't know why. Marcus' fingers began to brush across his chest until they found a small, sensitive nipple beneath the fabric. Turning slowly to look up into Marcus' face, Rony's eyes fell directly on the older boy's crotch and the impressive erection straining against his Levis. Staring deeply into his eyes, Marcus reached his right hand across and took Rony's left hand, pulling back across his chest and placing it firmly on his crotch. Then, with an intensity that both thrilled and terrified Rony, Marcus descended upon his lips, forcing his mouth open with his untamed tongue. He literally sucked the breath from Rony's lungs and then replaced it again, pulling the boy up from the chair and into his chest. The older boy's large hands found their way under every piece of material and into every crevice. A powerful, burning sensation in his chest, his head, and his own crotch made it impossible for Rony to know that both of them were now completely naked. Taking Rony into one hand and pulling close with the other, Marcus devoured the pliant, semi-salty flesh at the boy's neck, whispering roughly before falling to his knees
Walking back to his room, Rony stopped and looked deeply into the mirror. Sweaty and flushed from the experience he reached into his jeans pocket and fished out the crumpled $20 bills Marcus had shoved into his hand before shoving him out the door. Tossing them onto the bathroom counter, he stripped himself bare and stared at himself in the mirror. Red welts and scratches covered his taut torso and inner thighs, yet still he heard Marcus' muffled grunting words "you're beautiful". And maybe he was. He was thin, but defined; every muscle was visible beneath his pale pinkish skin. He had high cheekbones, curly blue-black hair, piercing green eyes. He'd never had a pimple in his life, at least not on his face. Everything worked. Stepping back to take in the full view, he began to see himself as Marcus saw him. He was beautiful. He was a commodity. And suddenly, he found tangible value in himself.
By the end of his sophomore year, he was wrapping his legs around the considerable torso of the shop teacher for better grades. Junior year, he discovered an affair between his history teacher and geometry teacher that resulted in a 3.95 average he carried with him to graduation and three years of escort work with a litany of closeted Army officers. On his 21st birthday, he handed Yzminta $3000 in cash with a kiss on the cheek and a permanent goodbye, heading off to a new life in Mississippi with an Army colonel whose closet door became unhinged right after his pension and his wife's funeral plan kicked in.
For the next 4 years Rony lived a double life as both the kept boy-toy of the Colonel DuPlessis and as a high-priced hooker with a penchant for the rich and the desperate. The Colonel came from a very, very old Southern family that could trace their lineage back to the bursar on the Mayflower. As a social icon in his hometown of Pass Christian he was expected to live in a certain manner; one that didn't involve parading his enamorata about in front of 'decent people.' So, during the day he was Young Mister Parmentiere, devoted manservant who never strayed far from the widowed Colonel's side. He was there to cut up his food, run his errands, chauffeur, be his escort and bridge parther, indulge his barracks fantasies in between social obligations, and then put him to bed at 9 with a Scotch & librium.
At night, he was a working boy with a list of johns that read like the Social Register. It was a perfect fit for Rony; the Colonel had literally introduced him to his clientele. That was the thing about being a kept boy. It was so easy to find other sources of income in those whose passions forced their complete and utter silence. He always enjoyed the Colonel's social dinner parties, that imperceptible quality paying off nightly...literally. He enjoyed recalling everyone's peccadilloes and wondering at all the possible combinations as the nights wore on. Those sultry, Southern summer nights.
This went on until the Colonel decided to spend the summer and fall vacationing in Europe, touring Paris, Prague, Florence, Copenhagen, Athens, Rome. They were in Tuscany when news arrived in the local press about Hurricane Katrina. The Colonel was on the hotel phone for hours at the Villa Mangiacane while Rony earned himself that deep golden tan the Colonel called 'endored.' As the sun began to set the old man returned to the veranda looking ashen. Sinking down onto the end of Rony's chaise, he suddenly looked much older than his 65 years. He wept openly as he described the devastation in Pass Christian, Gulfport, the flooding of New Orleans. His family's ancestral home was completely obliterated, not even the foundations left in place. With no home left to which they could return, they decided to continue to tour Europe until the spring. For the first few weeks the Colonel struggled bravely on, attempting to enjoy Europe with Rony but falling deeper into depression. At every hotel Rony would find himself left to his own devices for hours on end while the Colonel went in search of any information about home and the after effects of the storm. Their first night in Prague, the old man was gone for nearly two days before stumbling into the lobby of The Alchymist Hotel looking drawn and wasted. That night, he developed a rasping cough that became pneumonia the night they arrived in Copenhagen. Three days later the Colonel was dead, and Rony was left alone in a foreign city with the corpse of his sugar daddy and no way of contacting The DuPlessis' in the now non-existent town of Pass Christian, Mississippi--itself a foreign city. Depleting his bank account to pay for mortuary services, travel, and shipping of the Colonel's body back to Mississippi, Rony found himself staring down the end of the fall alone, homeless, nearly broke, and unappreciated. Days later the Colonel's family wanted to sue Rony for misappropriating their uncle's finances, but the reality of the situation was that the Colonel had spent his considerable fortune...on Rony. Whatever was left was in Rony's name, including a collection of small trusts scattered in banks across the country. Fearing that fact's release into the gossip mill the nephews & nieces scrounged up a small five figures and a long, uncomfortable truck ride into martial law New Orleans. The Colonel had one other piece of property that survived the storm. A small slave quarters apartment in rue Wilkinson in the French Quarter. He had maintained this bachelor pad from his misspent youth, unbeknown to the family until after his death. In exchange for a place to live, his signature on a lot of legal agreements, and the extra dough, Rony would take up permanent exile in the Vieux Carre and absent himself from the rest of the world forever.
(Ironically, although none of the nephews & neices knew of it, The DuPlessis' had a very long tradition of ridding themselves of troubles in the ancient rues of New Orleans.)
Telephone calls were made, a private state vehicle & driver were procured, and in the dead of night Rony was snuck into the city by a nephew named Ivan whom he would come to loathe & fear. Consigned on Nov. 26th, 2005 Rony slowly began to emerge from his personal Elba at Christmas, taking his time to recover from the shock. On the 26th he received word that Yzminta had perished in a fire at the apartment house in Radcliff. Everything was destroyed, there was nothing left to bury. Two days later word came from the Army that his father Sgt. Parmentiere had suffered a fatal stroke in his office in Guam. By New Year's Day of 2006 the name of Rony Parmentiere would never be uttered again outside Orleans Parish.
Five years later and Rony now combs the streets of the French Quarter in constant pursuit of his next trick, be that whatever may come. Far into the past are his days of high-end trips with bottomless wallets and a laundry list of rich and powerful men. Today, his looks are all he has left to him, a preternatural genetic gift of his absent father. His lean figure is now a bit more gaunt, as are his prospects. New Orleans is his last port of call, and he won't be able to keep working trade forever. Just a few more big tricks to get himself back where he was before, back in power again. But even he knows that this is just the mantra that every rent boy tells himself to keep from admitting the facts.
The daddy on the corner at Cafe du Monde looks like he's after a good time tonight...