Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Sad, Sordid Tale of Bruce Halloran-24

: “Ladies, Gentlemen, and...well, the rest of you know what you’re called these days,” quips Princess Stephaney to a modicum of laughter. “Get ready for our main event. You’ve seen her at OZ, the Golden Lantern, and right here at MAGS. So pull your hands out of wherever they may be and put ‘em together for The! Ambrosia! Delight!!!”
All around Bruce Halloran, sitting alone right next to the stage, the crowd erupts in adoration for their newest fixation. The flavor of the month. Whilst the masses cheer, a distinctly Broadway staccato rhythm belches out through the speakers. In five notes, he knows what it is and his eyes roll around in his head. Is she kidding? Jerry Herman? In this day and age? He takes up his cocktail just as Ambrosia Delight appears onstage in perfect time. She brings along a microphone and an old suitcase, the kind they called a valise in the day. She looks as if she’s standing in the middle of her wardrobe. She drops the valise on the stage, where it opens automatically.  She sings.

I gotta give my life some sparkle and fizz
And think a thought that isn't wrapped up in his
The place that I consider paradise is
Wherever he ain't! Wherever he ain't!”

Belting it out, she proceeds to defiantly strip away the extra clothing, tossing it into the open valise.

“No more to wither when he's grouchy and gruff
No more to listen to him bellow and bluff
Tomorrow morning I'll be strutting my stuff
Wherever he ain't! Wherever he ain't!”

She fairly growls the song in places, but she’s filling the room. Looking around, Bruce sees all eyes on the stage. Even in the very back they’re paying attention. He turns to see Ambrosia getting down to the bottom of her costume rack. Yet, even as she sheds away what has to be the most interesting thing about her, the intensity of her performance is...well, it’s just He can’t think’s so out of character…

“My little love nest was a terrible trap
With me behaving like a simpering sap
And so I'm looking for a spot on the map
If he's going south--”
She rips away the last of the facade, revealing a form-fitting unitard in her exact skin tone, covered in a sheen of aurora borealis rhinestones and sequins. The lights seem to instantly grow brighter. Every breath creates a light show all over the room, preparing them all for her to blow the roof off the joint.
“I'm going north
If he's going back
I'm going forth--”
Ambrosia takes in a huge breath to finish off the song just as she lays eyes on her worst nightmare. Sitting six feet away from her was the fat, doughy, pasty-pink, face of Bruce Halloran. Without thinking she lets go every awful, horrible, dreadful thought she’s ever had concerning him.
“Wherever heeeeeeeeeeeee aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin't!”
The force of her voice blows Halloran’s eyelashes back and for a brief, precious moment makes him look 10 years younger. The collective eyes of the audience widen to capacity before giving way to tumultuous applause, wolf whistles, and the pounding fists out front and backstage. Onstage, Ambrosia Delight begins to feel a little faint. She loves the applause, but...Halloran. Oh dear God. Halloran! Before she can gather herself, she rushes off.
In the audience, Halloran still can’t believe what he’s seen. He refuses to call it “talent.” At least, not right now. Not until he’s seen more. Besides, what else is there to do? It’s not like he has a schedule for a while. But if he did, first thing on the agenda would be getting another cocktail.
Backstage, Ambrosia has left and only Avalena in some very uncomfortable clothing is left. The older queens congratulate her and go about their business, while the younger ones are less impressed but congenial. It doesn’t matter. Avalena needs to get out of here. If that sonofabitch Halloran recognized her, it’s all over. And she’s not strong enough to survive that. Not after...not after what that other sonofabitch Gary Pitts did all those years ago.
She has to get out. Now! Grabbing her things and shoving them into her bag, she pushes past Tammi Tarmac with a hollered “sorry Tammi” and rushes out the side door just as Princess Stephaney emerges from the hallway curtain. Seeing Ambrosia rushing off, Stephaney follows her down the alleyway, calling out,
“‘Brosia honey. What happened? Where are you going? You’ve got two more numbers to--”
The slamming of the metal gate cuts her off cold. Left in the mid-evening August heat, she turns back towards the bleach-scented, air conditioned air inside the bar. As she enters and closes the door behind her, she announces to the room,
“Morganza Spillway. Congratulations, you’ve got another two numbers tonight. Hope you're prepared.”
At the very end of the makeup counter, a young, lithe boy with dark chocolate skin and childbearing lips stares back at the Princess through the mirror. Naked from the waist up, the waist down is pink lame and organza ballgown with matching satin mules...This Is My New Orleans.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Sad, Sordid Tale of Bruce Halloran-23

: Bending down to adjust her hosiery covered with sequined fishnet stockings, Avalena Beasley is nearly there. In the dirty, sordid little back room of MAGS on Elysian Fields, she’s trying to get her head together before she sets foot onstage as Ambrosia Delight. The tiny room is small and hot, perpetually stinking of beer, old bleach from the grubby concrete floor, and MAC cosmetics going slowly to pot in the heat. Around her, a host of younger queens and fading stars jostle for position at the two door mirrors installed above the makeshift countertop, each one determined that they are the main attraction tonight.
But Avalena knows better. The main attraction tonight is Ambrosia Delight. She’s the only one of these queens who performs with her own voice, still a rarity in New Orleans drag. She avoids the hustle and bustle at the makeup table by arriving in makeup, ready to perform. She has to. None of these queens knows that she’s a biological woman. Graced with a naturally deep speaking voice, she’s forever having to correct people over the phone when they call her “sir.” But when she sings. Ambrosia has been compared to Odetta, Nina Simone, and most recently Duffy and Adelle. It’s what drags them in, to hear the drag queen who sings like an actual woman. They haven’t had that in New Orleans since the early days of Varla Jean Merman. But Varla’s voice is more classically trained. Ambrosia’s voice (for Avalena cannot sing as herself,) is firmly rooted in classic Motown. And if the bar rags are to be believed, they love her.
Just then, her savior and best friend in the drag scene, Princess Stephaney emerges from the narrow hallway to the room with a double shot of Jameson. She’s not like the other drag artists in New Orleans. She is sassy, confident, and most importantly, mature. Ready to hand you your ass with a slice of her rapier tongue and salve your wounds with an immediate cocktail, she has become Ambrosia’s most ardent supporter. Though she’s not likely to let you know it. No reason to inflate a queen’s ego. None at all.
“Here ya go, “Brosia,” she says, handing the filled glass over. “It’s a full house out there.” Leaning in to Ambrosia’s ear, she says as softly as she can, “everybody’s talking about you, baby.”
Ambrosia smiles, and says a bit more deeply than normally, “thanks, Princess. As long as everybody’s happy, I’m happy. Any problems with the DJ? Last week I had to sing acapella.”
“No, I checked,” Princess Stephaney replies, her characteristic good-hearted sneer taking up it’s accustomed position on her exquisite lips. “He’s been cut off until after the shows are over.”
“Thanks, Steph,” Ambrosia smiles, downing the Jameson in a single gulp. She hands the empty glass back to the Princess, then goes to her back to pull out a compact to check her lipstick. Perfect. Not a smudge.

Deciding he needs to get out of the condo, Bruce Halloran darkens the door of MAGS, packed to the gills with pliant young flesh. He forcibly pushes his way through the pond of twenty-thirtysomethings all standing around trying to score time with the others of their ilk. Just like Mardi Gras on St. Charles Avenue; push your way through and get out of it. He makes it to the bar, where there is no bartender. Big surprise, he thinks. He looks around the room for a familiar face. Or at least one that will respond to a customer waiting to place his cocktail order. Finally, he sees Princess Stephaney emerge from the back room. She sees Halloran with that constipated look on his doughy face, and slows her pace to a saunter. Just to keep him waiting a little longer. Finally she makes her way back behind the bar and, taking up a bartowel, starts wiping things down as she asks without looking in his direction,
“Whadday want, Halloran?”
“Double shot of Maker’s, neat,” he barks over the din.
She goes about making the drink with a studied efficiency, doing her best to avoid actually having to look at him. Carelessly, she slides the drink to him on the bar and slaps her hand down on the twenty laying limp upon the bar. She makes the change and is just about to hand it back to him when Halloran barks,
“You sloshed half of it over onto the bar!”
Finally taking a good, long look at Halloran, her free hand closes the till as her other reaches over the tip jar. “You’re lucky it wasn’t in your lap, you bastard.” She drops the change into the jar and smiles acidly as she begins to walk away.
“Hold on, SssssssTEPH” he hisses. She turns back to him. “Who’s on tonight? It isn’t you, is it?”
“I don’t perform on off nights, asshole. And that’s any night you’re here. It’s Persana, Tammi, a new girl called Morganza Spillway, and Ambrosia Delight.”
Halloran sneers at the lineup, giving Princess Stephaney the opportunity to walk away without having to murder him. Halloran takes up his drink and searches for a table to watch this shitshow. Besides, he can always stick around later. Just to see what the dregs are like, maybe pick up a trick. There's some eligible talent in the room. Specifically the fratboy wannabe's in the corner. They're all knocking back shots like it's going out of style. Have to keep an eye on them. Easy pick'ns. He finds a place down front, an area that quickly empties out upon his arrival.

Backstage, Avalena is completing her transition to Ambrosia when she hears Stephaney’s voice on the mic. She’s announcing the lineup for tonight. When she reaches Ambrosia’s name, the room erupts into cheers. A shy little smile crosses her lips. It soon spreads to a wide, incandescent smile. A sparkle appears in each of her eyes, and she fairly glows in the ongoing acclaim. Ambrosia Delight is finally here, and she’s ready to lay waste to the city...This Is My New Orleans.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Sad, Sordid Tale of Bruce Halloran-22

: The midday sun streams through the louvered windows of Jeremy Youngblood’s Uptown condo, creating vivid stripes of light and shadow upon the good doctor sitting silently in the easy chair facing the windows. From this perch on Benjamin Street, he can see nearly the whole of Audubon Park. He’s recovering from a week of...indulgences, of which he is not proud. His excesses have once again caught up with him, and he is paying the price for the extravagance. Dehydrated, over exerted, and taken with a powerful malaise, he sits like a wax figure at Musee Conti; unmoving, slightly pained, and unaware of the outside world.
He’s been a bad boy of late, immersing himself in the bar life yet again. Only it’s very different now. He’s well over 40, though still remarkably fit. Even that detestable Bruce Halloran said so. ‘I never forget an ass,’ he said. He’s certainly paid for it. In his twenties he spent maybe two hours top at the gym. Now, it takes over four hours with diminishing returns. But this past week? No time for the gym. He was too busy stalking the old stomping grounds in the Quarter and the Marigny.
What a creature of habit I am, he thinks. More than a decade removed and he still haunts the same places. At least the ones that are still open. Golden Lantern, Good Friends...The Corner Pocket. It also used to cost him much less. But nowadays the young blonde hustlers are more concerned with cash than with gifts and attention. Still, he spent the cash. Chasing. Chasing, chasing after…
In Old Metairie, Phil Tupperman pads quietly through the sprawling farmhouse, going about his daily chores. Today, he’s dusting, and finally trying one of these new “dust collection systems” from the grocery store. Mainly because he hasn’t been able to locate a store that still carries feather dusters. Even that old neon green nightmare he found six years ago was more convincing at the end than these frilly fabric pads in the box. And what’s this fork-thingy for anyway? Fortunately, the instructions on the box aren’t entirely undecipherable, and he is soon on his way.
He has to admit it. These things certainly do the job. Though it is unnerving to be able to actually see the dust as it accumulates on the fabric. Seems accusatory somehow. Running the duster over the telephone desk, he spies Bruce Halloran’s card. It’s been a few days since he entered Phil’s life. He’s beginning to wonder why he hasn’t called since he...he...since he forced him to remember. He should have called by now. But maybe there’s a good reason why he hasn’t called yet. He did say he would call when he knew more. But more about what? He told Mr. Halloran everything he could remember…
The porcelain cats need dusting…
Enjoying the solitude of her office without Halloran’s pernicious smell, Avalena Beasley fairly hums through her work and his with an alacrity usually reserved for the young and unjaded. In the past weeks since he took his extended vacation, the office has thrived. Not one complaint from the call center, human resources, or any customers. All she has to do is deal with the paperwork, which is just fine with her. She prefers it. Now if she can only find some way of convincing the higher ups that she can do this on her own and have them get rid of Halloran.
Reconsidering her limited options, a knocking sounds at the door. Before she can grant entry, Myrtle Mae sticks her head in and coos,
She pushes aside the door and enters, carrying a large white box. She looks like the last snowman of spring, just about two days away from being a puddle. She’s a nosy old biddie who has to know everyone’s business.
“This was just delivered for you, so I rushed it right over!” Myrtle Mae fairly gushes the words, settling the box on Halloran’s empty desk. “It’s heavy. I wonder what it is? Oh, there’s a note.”
She produces a folded sheet of paper and hands it to Avalena. She takes it and opens it up, turning your back on the squat, fawning turnip with a henna rinse. Opening the paper, she reads;

“Miss Beasley,
I signed for this, but I’m leaving town today for my vacation. I asked a friend to drop this off so you wouldn’t have to wait for me to come back. See you in two weeks.
Mr. Dalloway”

Avalena inspects the shipping label, and her heart sinks.
“Thank you Myrtle. I appreciate you bringing this by.” She takes Myrtle by the arm and begins escorting her out, but Myrtle won’t be deterred. She turns her way out of Avalena’s grip and heads back towards the desk.
“It’s just so heavy,” coos Myrtle, her heavily lined doe eyes rolling uncontrollably in their sockets. “And I did carry it all the way up here from the lobby.”
“We’re on the second floor, Myrtle.”
“Well, the elevators were busy, so I took the stairs.” Myrtle oozes, flashing her lashes like pennants. “What is it?”
Avalena smiles a broad, false grin and says evenly, “I’m sure I don’t know. I wasn’t expecting anything.” She takes Myrtle once more by the arm, this time a bit more forcefully and says as they walk towards the door, “And I won’t know until after we close up, because like you I have a lot of very important work to do. Thanks for stopping by, goodbye Myrt!”
She slams the door for emphasis.
Avalena knows exactly what is inside this box. She recognized the postmark instantly. Damn you, Dalloway, she thinks. You could have kept the damned thing for two weeks! Still, it’s not a total loss. Halloran wasn’t here when it arrived. And Myrtle Mae is no bother. She thinks no one notices when she skips lunch and takes off from work a half-hour earlier than everyone else. Locking the office door, she walks over to the desk. Using her ring, she slices through the packing tape, the overpacked box springing open. Inside is a white and mauve miasma of real chiffon, satin, and rhinestones. Ambrosia Delight’s new gown. Afraid to pull it from the box for fear of never repacking it properly, she stares at the intricately beaded bodice now puffing up from the cardboard. She wants desperately to put in on but instead retapes the box closed, effectively emptying Halloran’s tape dispenser. She shoves the box under her desk and returns to her work. Just a few more hours until she can get this beauty home...This Is My New Orleans.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Sad, Sordid Tale of Bruce Halloran-21

: Back in his condominium on St. Claude Avenue, Bruce Halloran lowers the central air to 70 degrees and closes the heavy floor-length drapes against the afternoon onslaught of roasting sun directly into the living room. The room falls into complete darkness, lit only by the nighlight that burps to life automatically. He goes to the floor lamps on either side of the large overstuffed black leather sofa, twisting the knobs to illuminate the room in a bright halogen glow. On the sofa, directly in the middle is Miss Sara Joy, slowly licking himself clean. Halloran stares for a moment at this scene, then picks up a throw pillow and lobs it on top of the tiny dog with a casual, “you’re too comfortable, dog.”
Miss Sara Joy retreats from the expanse of the pillow, and runs over to the matching leather chair, jumping into the center of the seat and returning to his daily ablutions. Halloran flops his corpulence onto the sofa and picks up young Mr. Tschantz’s folder from the glass and iron coffee table. The boy is certainly efficient. Every passage he needs to see is highlighted with clinical precision. They tell a story of Dr. Youngblood he’d probably want everyone to ignore.
Dr. Guidry Stone was the first to file suit. He says in his deposition that “Jeremy had started seeing this young man named Jackson Harris. He was a psychology student at Tulane working on his graduate studies. At first, the other partners and I looked forward to the young man’s visits. Jeremy had been single for so long, he needed someone like Jackson. Then things began to change between them. Jackson started dressing differently, Jeremy started correcting him on every little thing. They both became irritable, sullen. Eventually the young man stopped coming around. We learned later that he had disappeared. Literally disappeared. They had a fight and Jackson just up and left town. Dropped out of Tulane, cut off ties with his family and friends. Just disappeared. For months afterwards, Jeremy (subject pauses) He just couldn’t function. We had to pick up his casework. It caused a serious strain on our working relationship.”
A few years later, the other two partners, Drs. Alberghetti and Pierce both talk about Jackson. As well as the others who had the same fate. Only with different results.
Dr. Alberghetti states “(H)is love life, it got in the way, every time. I most remember what happened with one man, Ellis Cambre. Medical student, I forget which area. What struck me was how much he looked like the first one, Jackson. They could have been brothers.”
The deposition veers off into financial jargon, blah blah blah, missing money, blah blah, here we go.
“It was because of the review of the books that I noticed the pattern happening again with Ellis. He changed the way he dressed, how he behaved. Dr. Youngblood was obviously controlling the fellow. When he first started coming around the offices, he was a bright, gregarious young man. But by the end he was quiet, moody, and nothing like the young man we originally met. I don’t know the details, but after they broke up, Dr. Youngblood once again stopped taking patients and started attending charity events professionally. Shortly before we started these legal proceedings we learned that Ellis’ body was found out in New Orleans East, near Michoud. Overdose. I can’t help but think that if he hadn’t gotten involved with Jeremy Youngblood, he would still be alive.”
A little over a month later, Dr. Pierce was also giving deposition, this time for his suit. His deposition is more direct and to the point than the others. By a lot.
“I finally had enough of Jeremy and his mind games with those men. The money I could have overlooked. It’s not like any of us are starving, and it was going to charity. A skilled book keeper would have found a way to write it all off and get a tidy tax credit on top. But I couldn’t take Jeremy’s hypocrisy any more. This last one was the final straw. Martin Collins, but for everything about him, you couldn’t tell him from Jackson or Ellis. Jeremy obviously has a type. Young, blonde, wide-eyed, and wanting someone to take care of them. But Martin was different from the others. He took to everything Jeremy told him to do like it was gospel. He became whatever it was that Jeremy was trying to create. And then, one day while he was doing some filing for the office, he snapped. Just broke. I had to leave a session to walk out and see Martin babbling incoherently, throwing the files all over the office, scaring the patients. Youngblood came out of his office and said something to the kid, and that was it. He became deranged. He attacked Youngblood, bloodying his lip and nose before he started breaking and smashing whatever he could get his hands on. The outer office was trashed, I had to call the police. After that, I knew there wasn’t any way to save the partnership.”
Bruce drops the pages across the open folder and stares at the wallpaper, a campy crimson flocked pattern Gary Pitts thought was too ugly not to have in his home. That was Sara Joy, finding little humors in the aesthetically awful. But at least he told you up front he was a bad person. Youngblood’s been masquerading behind his public image, racking up plaques and honors while he robbed his company and played Dr. Frankenstein with a line of Aryan medical students. How Mengele of him, thinks Halloran.
But it doesn’t make sense. According to the all the depositions, none of the partners were that upset with Youngblood making donations out of the company kitty. They all made a point of saying it. And he apparently struggled to pay back the company. So it’s not like he was making money out of the deal. All he literally got was personalized wall art for his office.
So, why the Patty Hearst routine on those men?
This guy’s business card is gay mental health. He’s made his name and career on it. He attracts three young, eager, one assumes bright young men with futures.  And inside a just a few years he sends one packing, one to pills, and one to the parish prison. That’s a lot of P’s. P. Like Philsy.
Philsy. Like...Philsy. Of course. Dr. Youngblood was trying to build him a new Phil Tupperman. And I don’t think he was smart enough to realize he was doing it.
“Doctor, heal thyself,” Bruce grins, suddenly deciding that it’s time for a cocktail. He rises and walks to the bar, rather impressed with himself. As he pours himself a drink, Miss Sara Joy leaps down from the chair, his long, flowing fur giving him the look of a fashionable dustmop. With a single bound, he plops himself back up onto the sofa, where he walks to the very center of the open folder of papers, curls up, and makes himself at home.
If his Master won’t pay attention to him now, he’s prepared to pee on this later...This Is My New Orleans.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Sad, Sordid Tale of Bruce Halloran-20

: The morning sun on this mid August morning in Metairie is brilliant and brutal. Not even 9 am and the temperature is hovering just below 95°, the humidity levels keeping up in kind. Having just endured nearly 20 minutes of creeping morning traffic along a single block of 17th Street, Bruce Halloran finally manages to break free of the molasses train and pulls into the parking lot of Morning Call. Having to take a spot nearly on the opposite end of little strip mall, he is not at all happy having to walk over to the coffee stand. He is nearly as wet as the glass panes in the French doors at Morning Call, now opaque with condensation from the machine-cooled air inside. Halloran enters Morning Call, which is crawling with people as old or older than he, many of which seem to have no where else to go.
Looks like coffee break on the set of Cocoon, he thinks to himself. Navigating around the Metairites, his sweat-soaked shirt is now ice-cold and sticking to his pale, pasty pink skin. Perfect. He’s about to approach the counter when he sees a young, lithe arm begin waving to him from the opposite side of the room. It is the young Mr. Tschantz, conspicuously smooth in a sea of wrinkles and liver spots. He walks over to where the young man has saved him a stool and apparently taken the liberty of ordering Bruce beignets and a cafe au lait. He sits down next to Quentin Tschantz and sneers,
“Really, Q-Balls? You thought you’d be unnoticed at the retirement home?”
Quentin sips his cafe au lait and replies loudly,
“I have my reasons, Mr. Halloran.”
Bruce cringes. They’re supposed to be meeting in private so the partners at the firm won’t know the kid’s giving him more help than they’d like. Halloran peers around him and quickly takes one here has heard them. Peering closer at the folks surrounding them, Halloran sees a lot of hearing aids. Testing his theory, he drops his silverware on the counter next to an older man with his tits tucked into his shorts. Nothing. They’re all deaf as posts.
“I take it back, kid,” smirks Halloran. “You’re smarter than I gave you credit for.”
Quentin looks directly into Bruce’s eyes and says loudly again,
“Remember that, Mr. Halloran. Shall we begin?”
Bruce smirks a bit, and nods his ascension. Young Mr. Tschantz produces a thick manilla envelope from his briefcase with his right hand. His left automatically takes up a bunch of paper napkins and wipes the counter clear of powdered sugar, old cafe au lait, and water before placing the open folder between them.
“Your Dr. Youngblood has an exemplary public life,” Quentin starts, “but his private life is apparently a shambles. According to these depositions Grandfather was able to locate in the records, Mr. Youngblood is only just barely holding on to his practice. His three other partners have all filed lawsuits against Dr. Youngblood and their own practice for their fair share of revenues in the business. It seems Dr. Youngblood’s charitable works come with a rather high price. He has nearly bankrupted the practice on four separate occasions in the past, making donations to a veritable alphabet soup of charities. I’m certain you recognize some of these organizations.”
“I’d hardly call some of them organizations. More like loose assemblages.” Halloran sneers his way down the list, his eyes widening slightly at some of the fly-by-night scams at which Youngblood fairly threw money. “There’s a little framed plaque from everyone on this list in his office. All of them read Youngblood.”
“He’d have done better investing in an awards company,” quips young Mr. Tschantz, much to Bruce’s surprise. He didn’t think the kid owned a sense of humor, much less a slightly bitchy one. He nods to himself as Quentin continues.
“There was also...Mr. Halloran, I hesitate to tell you this.”
Bruce smiles, saying “it must be good, then. Spill, Q-Balls.”
“Please don’t call me that,” Quentin sighs, his smooth young brow knitted into a frown. “It seems that in the depositions, there were several references to Dr. Youngblood’s romantic life.”
“He’s a slut! I knew it!” Bruce hisses with glee. “Nobody with an ass that perfect doesn’t work it--”
“Mr. Halloran, please!” Quentin says emphatically, causing an elderly gentleman three seats away to turn in their direction for a scant moment. “Dr. Youngblood was not a ‘slut.’ He has had three long-term relationships, all of which caused problems with the doctor and his partners.”
“That’s what happens when you bring the trash home”
Quentin pinches the skin between his eyes and says painfully, “disregarding that unfortunate analogy, you’re not far off. But it was less about social position and more about...malleability. Malleable means--”
“I know what malleable means, you zygote,” Halloran huffs. “It’s what you’ll be if you condescend to me again. I put up with that crap out of Gary Pitts, I’ll be damned if I take it from you.”
Quentin thinks for a moment and merely says “understood.”
“Good. Go on.”
“As I was saying, in the depositions the partners all describe, in one way or another how Dr. Youngblood would find these young men. all of a particular type, and try to...well, mold them into what he wanted. The dichotomy struck one of them, saying it was so strange to see the doctor dedicating himself and everything else to the cause of gay mental health, and yet he steadily manipulated his boyfriends into the same kinds of behaviours he was working to eradicate.”
Halloran wolfs down a beignet in one breath, hardly a speck of powdered sugar to be found in its wake. He washes it down with a swig of now-tepid cafe au lait, and burps.
“Let me guess. All these guys kinda look like our friend Philsy, right?”
“That would seem to be the case, Mr. Halloran.” Young Mr. Tschantz closes up the folder and slides it towards Halloran, and rises to leave. Before he can go, Halloran stops him.
“So Q-Balls, I’ve gotta question. Your name. Tschantz. You act like you’ve been here forever, but I’d never heard the name until I met your firm, and I’ve lived here for nearly 40 years. Where are you from?”
Young Mr. Tschantz stands to his full height and says calmly and clearly, “I’m not surprised, Mr. Halloran. The Tschantz name is not commonly known. It is well known. Very well known. Good day, Mr. Halloran.”
With that, the young man breezes out of Morning Call, leaving Bruce Halloran to ponder what he’s learned. Outside, the heat and humidity are now rising towards the triple digits. The air is clogged with the sounds of heavy machinery attempting to keep the shopping centers in the area a nice, icy 68 degrees as the glut of cars continue to spew out greenhouse gasses...This Is My New Orleans.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Sad, Sordid Tale of Bruce Halloran-19

: Blessedly alone in the office she ordinarily shares with her much-hated enemy Bruce Halloran, Avalena Beasley zips through her workday with ease. Unencumbered by Halloran’s annoying presence, she is actually enjoying the work. Even handling Halloran’s workload is a joy. Because he’s nowhere to be heard or seen. The only downside of the whole arrangement is that he will be back next Monday from his extended vacation. So she had better enjoy every moment of peace while she can.
A knock at the door. It’s their problem child, Myrtle-Anne. She’s the neediest worker in the customer care call center. Not a day goes by where she doesn’t come up with some reason to interrupt and get some specialized attention. Ordinarily Avalena would have verbally ripped her head off for even daring to knock on the office door. But without Satan making life miserable, Avalena is positively happy to accomodate Myrtle-Anne.
“Yes dear? What can I help you with?” she asks brightly.
This show of happiness is completely foreign to Myrtle-Anne. She’s used to being shrieked and cursed at when she comes by. Without that familiar barrage, she’s remarkably uncomfortable. So much so that she contains a panicked squeal before running back to her cubicle to hide in fear.
Avalena is genuinely confused at this reaction, but takes it as another bullet dodged while Halloran is off the shooting range.
Going back to the data entry she’s been tackling for several days, a notification pops up on her screen. She’s received an email from Human Resources. Clicking over to company email, she opens the email and finds the following missive:

“Dear Avalena,
This is to notify you that your co-manager Bruce Halloran has elected to take the remainder of his accrued vacation days, and will not be returning to work until late October. In view of these developments, your options are…”

Avalena didn’t care what her options are. Halloran will be gone for another two months at least! True, she will have to continue doing his work, but what of that? She’s been doing it for weeks now, and happily! He’s not here! Whatever she needs to do to keep him away, she’ll do. Besides, she can very well use the extra money. She has wigs, dresses, makeup, and supplies she wants to get for her alter ego Ambrosia DeLight. Because being Ambrosia in the bars every
night that keeps her going. It’s the only time she feels like she can be...herself...This Is My New Orleans.

The Sad, Sordid Tale of Bruce Halloran-18

: Left alone with his own thoughts after Bruce Halloran’s dramatic visit, Jeremy Youngblood sits alone in his empty office now filled with ghosts of the past. Barely able to form cohesive sentences, he gently raises his left hand to the office intercom and makes the following order to his receptionist.
“Estelle? I need you to cancel all my appointments for...for the next two days.”
There is a short pause before Estelle comes back,
“Are you sure, Dr. Youngblood? You’ve got that big meeting with the Association of--”
“Cancel it, Estelle!” He bellows into the receiver. Shocked by the noise, Estelle throws her fingers onto the intercom and blusters,
“Yes sir! It’s taken care of, Doctor!”
Relieved of his duties, Jeremy Youngblood retreats from the intercom with reluctance and forces himself to recline back into his desk chair to assimilate what has just happened to him. This...grotesquerie Bruce Halloran has just invaded his office to...well, to ruin his life, basically. By raising the spectre of Phil Tupperman. Philip. ‘Philsy’, as Halloran called him. The phrase cuts Jeremy down to the quick. He hadn’t been able to tell Halloran that Philsy was his pet name for Phil all those years ago.
The intoxicating influence of Chivas is now beginning to work itself upon Jeremy. He doesn’t like being drunk. He’s always hated it, in fact. But having Halloran in his office, demanding alcohol...he found himself giving in to those demands. Just as he did when….
...when Gary Pitts had gotten him drunk all those years ago.
When it had happened.
The very thought of it filled Jeremy with a kind of revulsion usually reserved for the war-weary and those hapless, powerless souls whom life always seems to abuse. Those poor, deluded people who were willing to believe anything they were told. He had been one of those people.
Disquieted by this train of thought, He thinks first of those grand halcyon days of his early practice, sharing it with his former partners Ignacio Alberghetti and Pierce Young. Old friends from school, and just as committed to ending anti-gay treatments and the mental health of the community. And Guidry Sloane, the smartest and richest partner in their venture. Sloane had retired first after creating a mental health evaluation department for one of the oil companies. His 6 figure paycheck had given old Sloane everything he had ever wanted; a free and easy life without the constraints of accountability. He left that burden to everyone else in the firm. Fortunately, they had all been young enough to handle the crap. Then ‘Nacio and Pierce decided they wanted to start a new practice in Florida.
Now, he was the only partner left running the entire firm. Everyone else content with big package deals and ongoing revenues from the practice that still bears their names. Only Jeremy remained working.
And now he has a headache.
And he’ll have it again next week at this time.
Back at his condo, Bruce Halloran breezes past the ecstatic Miss Sara Joy and goes instantly to his computer to pull up his email. At the top of the list is an email from the firm of DiNotto, Tschantz, & Asino. “The partners in the firm,” blah blah blah, “enacting full review,” blah blah, “all requests for assistance will be reviewed and answered within 48 hours--”
“WHAT??” Bruce’s sudden exclamation startles Miss Sara Joy, who runs back to his hidey-hole underneath the ottoman, peering out in fear. Halloran doesn’t see this, focused on these new restrictions. 48 hours? I can’t wait two days for information or supplies, or even two days before I find out if they’re gonna give anything to me at all. Before he can challenge these pantywaists he sees another email from an address he doesn’t recognize. The subject line reads,
Deciding to take the risk of his computer being infected with yet another virus, he chooses to open the mysterious email. What greets him is the following:

“Dear Mr. Halloran,
This is Mr. Tschantz. I’m contacting you via a private email account. You may have already received an email from our firm. In our weekly meeting today, the senior partners made the decision to personally research and review any and all requests you make for my services before they may be filled. My grandfather was the sole dissenting vote. He and I believe that this is being done to prevent you from fulfilling the requirements of Mr. Pitts’ will. According to the terms of the contract, they are well within their legal rights to enact review procedures. But it is unethical.
After consulting with Grandfather, we have agreed that you and I will now communicate through this email, and through my private phone (number below.) The stipulations of the will remain in force. However, because of the nature of this arrangement I will now be personally assisting you with many of your supply requests. There will be times when I will need you to send formal requests to my company email. You must comply instantly when that request is made. It is imperative that the partners see your requests on a regular basis to prevent detection.
Any and all information I can give you will be sent in a separate file to be downloaded to your phone or computer. Because of the delicate nature of the situation I advise that you thoroughly read all messages and download any and all attachments as soon as you can. 10 minutes after these emails are opened, they will disappear from the servers. This is not only for our protection but for yours as well. Also, all text messages should be deleted as soon as possible.
Please text my number below with the word “confirmed” to let me know you’ve received this message and understand the arrangement. It is imperative that you keep this information private. If the partners discover us, they will have grounds to terminate the contract and invalidate the terms of the will. At which point they will take possession of everything.

Q. Tschantz”

Hmm, thinks Halloran. Shoulda seen this coming with the head shysters. Certainly didn’t expect this kind of chutzpah out of Tschantz. The kid’s got a set on him. Good to know. Grabbing his phone, he puts in the new number and sends the text “Confirmed, Q Balls!” He looks forward to explaining the new nickname when kid asks.
He stares at the screen, rereading the email. Obviously the firm plans on putting up every roadblock they can think of to kill off his time. They probably put dibs on everything before he took possession. He imagines them as salivating demons in painfully tailored pinstripes. Their bloody claws grasping for everything they can grab, slowly moving toward him, their eyes wide with hunger. Then, they take his cocktail and--
No, wait. That was a show at The AllWays Lounge.
A tiny whimper at his side makes Bruce turn away from the computer to see Miss Sara Joy looking up at him like an orphan in a Dickens novel. His long tail is a flurry of thrashing fur, waiting for his master to tell him everything is OK now. Bruce bends down and picks him up, his long brown and black fur spilling over Halloran’s hand like a furry waterfall. He plants Miss Sara Joy in his lap, where he curls up and goes instantly to sleep again.
Halloran looks back to the email and begins rereading it once more when his browser suddenly refreshes, and he’s back in his mailbox. Only there’s something missing. The email from young Mr. Tschantz has disappeared. He checks in every folder, but there is nothing to be found.
“Sonofabitch,” he mutters. “It self-destructed. I feel like Barbara Bain!”
Amusing himself, he affects some of her poses from Mission: Impossible when he turns and catches sight of himself in the floor mirror. To his reflection, he sneers and quips,
“Yeah, but’cha still look like Martin Landau. Today!”
He chuckles a bit at the ridiculousness of reading himself in the mirror. But that’s what you do when you live alone and like it. You talk to yourself. And you insult yourself. And you play with the dog and watch a lot of internet porn. Not necessarily in that order.
And you drink, which is exactly what Bruce is going to do now. He has to figure a few more things out before he can decide what to do.
Preparing to close up the office after a long day, Quentin Tschantz begins packing up briefs in his satchel when he hears a muffled ring coming from his desk. He quickly crosses the expanse of his tiny office and closes the door. He rushes back to his desk and opens the center drawer. There, his personal phone jangles away, a familiar number visible on the screen. He picks it up and swipes the screen efficiently, saying
“Yes sir?”
He listens intently to the caller, his eyes darting back and forth as his analytical mind assembles a flood of new information into neat little colored boxes, coded for maximum efficiency. It’s how he thinks. Ideas and concepts appear as geometric shapes of colors. He continues to listen to a greenish-blue circular line of thought, and says respectfully,
“Yes sir. Yes, I sent the information...not as far as I know...he hasn’t said anything…”
He continues to listen, standing at attention like a cadet. The room turns to purple hexagons and orange rectangles and then Quentin speaks up.
“Sir, with all due respect, I don’t think th--” The words die on his lips. Black and blue rhomboids. With resignation, he says,
“Yes sir. Everything will be in place by tomorrow morning...I know what to do, sir. Good night.”
Tapping the screen, he places the phone in the pocket of his blazer hanging over the back of his desk chair. Looking toward the tiny louvered window, he sees the late afternoon sun blazing through in thin, bright shafts. And in the light, a trillion tiny bits of dust and whatnot, bobbling along on the waves of heat, each little particle a minute inferno. Unconsciously, the middle finger on his left hand begins picking at the cuticle of his thumb, pulling the skin away from the nail bit by bit. Quentin’s job just got a lot tougher. And he really dislikes it when everything goes black and blue.
"Q-Balls?!?"...This Is My New Orleans.