"Olin, yea, it's me, Jacob. Hey, listen, I need help. Look, I don't know how
to say this but I need some money and a place to stay... No, I haven't... I was
wonder- No, I haven't, at least not so far... Yea, I think so. Look, I'm in a
lot of trouble and I need- not, not drugs... Nothing illegal. It's... NO, I'm
fine... I got kicked out of my home and I really need... I just have some
things I have to sort out right now. Yea, I have a Western Union near me...
well, I was thinking about getting a bus ticket and coming up there...
really soon- like as soon as we get off the phone- soon. No, I really don't think that
would be a good idea, I'm calling you from a payphone anyway. I just have to go. I'll explain it all when I get there... Is that OK?. Good. Thanks.
I'll see you soon..."
Olin was the type of guy who served every meal on classic china plates
re-washed his plastic forks and knives. He'd been odd
as long as Jacob could remember.
The first memories of his cousin were filled with the telltale signs of
eccentricity - pink scarves wrapped around the plastic Santa in Aunt Raena's
front yard, a high school art project involving black and white photos of
various bird feet and a diamond ring, his high school graduation when Olin wore
a Viking helmet with happy faces painted on each horn. Olin would do just
Jacob stood at the door to Olin's apartment building 666 High
Street and wondered if those traits had magnified over the years. He stood
back for a moment and tried to take in a little about his surroundings. To his right was an
almost empty store, once called "Kukala's", that still displayed a garish rainbow
awning and a neon pink triangle in the window. Jacob remembered that it had been a good place to
one wanted their nipples, eyebrows (or any other body part) pierced or
skin tattooed and tanned. Inside the window, in the corner, he could see some
remaining items, leather whips, dog
collars and so forth and a few moving boxes. A sign on the door stated
that "Kukala's is moving across the street to 'An Open Book'!
On the other side of the apartment door was a loud bar called 'Union Station Video
Cafe'. It was pretty busy for a Wednesday night and Jacob felt
uncomfortable standing on the sidewalk with his suitcase and pack while bar
patrons entered and exited.
He stepped forward again and rang the bell the
The door buzzed and Jacob wedged it open with his foot. He heaved his
suitcase and backpack across the threshold and looked doubtfully up the long
staircase. He wondered if all of this was a good idea. He'd traveled far enough in the
last two days and steep stairs just weren't in his plans - he was pretty fucking tired.
Olin's apartment was on the top floor and the first to the left.
The door practically vibrated from the music emanating inside and Jacob
self-consciously peered down at his watch to see that it was almost eleven. He knocked loudly,
trying to overcome the music.
Olin was singing along to the Pet Shop Boys
by screaming "Aaaaaaaab - so - lute - ly Faaaaaaa - bu- lous" so loud that Jacob
could hear his voice through the door, over the music.
Jacob pounded on the door until the volume went down and Olin appeared..
Olin was nothing at all like Jacob or any of the men in his family. Where
Jacob had a large solid build, Olin was almost wire thin and about six inches
shorter. His smooth skin with high defined cheekbones and sharp nose
resembled Jacob's mother and her sister. As kids their hair had been alike: far
too straight and dirty blond. Olin had bleached his the color of milk.
"Jacob! Honey!" Olin screeched and opened his arms. "I'm sorry I didn't hear
you. Come here! and let me get a look at 'cha."
Jacob entered and stood, as if for inspection, in the center of the most bizarre living room
he had seen in
quite some time. It was like stepping into a novelty art gallery. One wall was a shrine to Betty Davis, Monroe, Liza,
Judy, Madonna and Cher (camp in general). A large U2: Rattle & Hum poster hung over the couch along side a Guns-n-Roses
banner and a Hank Williams Jr. autographed photo. Beside the door was a poster
of a marijuana leaf with "save the wheeters" spray painted across the bottom. A
Robert Mapplethorpe book was open on the coffee table to a picture of Meryl
Streep, and the DVD was showing the "pet shop boys" playing instruments between
clips of Patsy and Edina from AbFab. On the white, flabby cushioned couch a
dark gray Tabby stared up at him sleepily.
"I called you from the bus stop... you buzzed me in, I thought you knew I was coming up." Jacob, exasperated, stared around him in disbelief.
"I did, that's why the door was unlocked." Olin said. He moved forward and
embraced his cousin, then stepped back, grasping him by the shoulders. "Wow,
you're looking good. I'm sure your card was full in back there...
where were you again?."
"Ft. Worth." Jacob smirked and shook his head. "But I hadn't really been out lately..."
He looked around the room, hoping to change the subject. He didn't
want to bring up the whole situation with Ryan and the circumstances of their
break up. He figured it would be too confusing to explain and he wasn't
sure if he could even do it without crying.
"Man trouble, huh?" Olin said. "well, no big deal now..." he waved
his hand dismissively. "we can get to the girl talk when you get settled in..."
he moved across the room towards a short hallway and pointed to the door at the
far end. "Now, go put your bags in there and come back in here and sit
down..." he glanced sideways at Jacob. "You wanna drink?"
Jacob shook his head.
"Good, I think I'll have one too. Beer, vodka, whiskey?" He minced into the
kitchen and yelled from the other room. "I got it! Just what you need!."
"Really, Olin, I'm fine."
Olin pointed to the guest room door as his face took on a serious expression. "Jake! Go put your things away, then git back in here so we can talk." Olin
poked his head around the doorframe. "You are staying for a while, right? That was what I
figured when you called. This isn't going to be a short visit."
"Is it OK if I stay for a while?"
Olin crossed his arms and shook his head. "You know, you'd think I was
from your dad's side of the family by the way you're talking." he rolled
his eyes. "How someone like you could have come out of Uncle
Roger is beyond me." He tapped his fingers. "well, you got his good
looks, but that's about it, thank god." He paused. "Hell, stay long
enough to wear out your welcome... who knows how long that will be.
I promise to let you know when I start hating you."
Jacob stood silent, confused. "So it's not a problem."
Olin ignored Jacob's reservations. "Don't worry Jake, we have plenty of
room for you, stay as long as you like."
Jacob smiled and nodded and picked up his bags.
Olin vanished into the kitchen. "The back room's the one mom gets when she
stays- take it."
He walked slowly down the hall, past several "gymnastikos" prints of nude men
in the most bizarre positions possible. He tried to think that, somehow, they were tasteful, but got lost wondering : "How many men would do gymnastics in
the nude?" Well, apparently from the photo, there was at least one. "OK, that answered the who...but not the Why?" Jacob stared for a moment, then nodded... OK, hot
He passed two doors to the right and entered the room at the end. He set down his bags
without flipping on the light and started back.
"I figured you'd want to get a shower when you got here so I laid a towel out
for you in the bathroom." Olin called from the kitchen.
"Thanks." Jacob said and walked
back the dining room.
The tan colored pine table was covered by (what looked to Jacob) an expensive
table cloth. It had a wide clay pot with a spiny cactus in the center and tiny
smurf dolls pressed into the dirt head first, only their blue bellies and white legs
protruded from the sandy dirt. About ten of them stuck out in various
states of burial.
Jacob sat at the chair nearest
the kitchen. He watched Olin mixing some kind of drink in low tumblers.
"There. I didn't have any vermouth so you'll have to settle for this." Olin flicked a long lighter and set both drinks on fire. "Paris is
burning, Jake-ee" he walked in and handed the flaming drink to Jacob.
"You've got to be kidding me." Jacob stared down into the flaming purple
"Not for a second." Olin blew his out quickly and gulped it down. "Ahhhh..."
he breathed harshly, then nodded at Jacob. "Drink it down, Jake, you
don't want to looze the booze- and you obviously need it more than me.
Actually, you look like you could use about ten of these." He raised his eyebrows as
if contemplating making more.
Jacob blew out the flame and drank the warmed liquor, then coughed. It burned
all the way down - heat and alcohol. "Gezus Christ!"
"Now, now. Don't drink much?" Olin asked.
"A beer would have been fine, Olin."
Olin plucked the empty glass from Jacob's hand and set it next
to his own on the counter. "Beer." He spoke thoughtfully. "Tsk, tsk, Jacob. Why would you want something so boring?" Olin strutted into the Living room and picked up the cat.
"I don't remember the cat."
"Oh, Pussy?" Olin said. "Oh, that's Pete's. I got her for him about a year
Jacob stood and walked to Olin to pet her.
"She's a little temperamental at times, but a good cat." he dropped her back
on the couch and she walked away giving him an annoyed look and a tail flick.
"When's Pete going to be back?" Jacob asked, now appreciating the warmth of
the drink and the grape aftertaste - it was like a hot, dum-dum sucker.
Olin crooked a finger on his lip as he thought. "Wellllll... he's in Cleveland
right now helping Dexter with a gallery, most of the time he does some
work for the places here in Columbus, but he had a few offers out of town. I
think he should be back by Sunday night."
Jacob nodded. "He's not going to mind me staying?"
"Oh, No, Jake. I talked to him right after you called and it was just fine
with him." he walked past Jacob and down the hall to the first door on the
right. "He's a great guy, Jake, you'll really like him."
Jacob followed as Olin flicked on the light revealing a rather large
bathroom. The shower curtain caught his eye first: a black curtain with a huge,
circular, white moon and the silhouette of a howling
black wolf scrubbing its back with a hot pink brush.
"We have this NU-cle-ar water pressure and all the hot water you can handle.
We don't pay water around here so I usually take long, relaxing showers" he
opened the curtain and pointed to the hand held shower massage "a lady's best
friend in the shower... but it doesn't do much for me." he closed it back.
"Nice massages though." He opened the medicine cabinet under the blazing
bathroom lights. "I cleared out space in here for you, so you have room, and
I keep the rest of the towels behind you in the closet." He turned and opened the door
revealing the towels, a few other bathroom toiletries, and a sign that ran
across the back of
the door saying "THIS CLOSET IS FOR TOWELS".
Jacob stared. "Did you decorate all this?"
Olin smiled. "I'm not that nearly this creative." he said. "when Pete moved in here he
took over in the decorations department. We fought tooth and nail over that damn
shower curtain, and those stupid fucking smurfs, but he got his way." he
shrugged, then pulled Jacob into the bathroom to show him the full length mirror
on the back of the bathroom door. There was a grinning cut-out of Mel Gibson's face where
one might see his own, above it a sign read "you look Mahvellous".
"My god." Jacob muttered. "How in the hell do you- ?"
"Oh, that's not all." Olin laughed. "he has things like this all over this
apartment. Everyone else seems to love it, but living with it is practically
madness. Pete has me beaten in the whole 'quirky-fag' department.
Olin reopened the bathroom door and led Jacob out, then strolled into the
"He changes it all the time, too, so at least it's never bor-" Olin flicked on the light
spare room just in time to trip over Jacob's bags.
"Sorry." Jacob helped him back up then placed them on the bed while Olin
began rifling through the dresser drawers.
The guest room was unlike the other rooms in the apartment. It was decorated
in somber, conservative, shades of brown and cream, old family pictures,
some black and white, some faded Polaroids, hung from the walls and sat
arranged on the
dresser and chest of drawers. The bed was a simple twin bed with waist high
posters and a simple flower patterned bedspread. The curtains were plain cream
cloth with dark brown valences and brown ties.
"This is where mother stays when she comes up to visit." He continued opening the drawers and looking inside. "You can put your clothes in
here, not a problem, we don't-" he stopped and looked in the drawer with
distaste, then drew out an enormous black dildo. "He's trying to make sure that
Mom dies of a heart attack on one of her visits..." he sighed angrily and
then used the dildo as a
15 inch pointer as he spoke. "Every time she comes out here he goes the The
Chamber and buys
one of these DREADFUL things and then hides it in here for her to find." He gave
Jacob a sidelong look. "And you know how she can be."
"I'm surprised she hasn't just kicked it already. She's going to be seventy
four in October and her poor little heart just can't TAKE that kind of surprise
all the time."
He motioned to the headboard with the dildo.
"The last time she came out here Peter rigged up a set of plush handcuffs
on that poster so she'd get caught in them." he looked bewildered. "I don't even know how
he did it or how she got her hand into them without noticing, maybe when she
was making the bed, I don't know." he tapped the end on his chin as he spoke.
"The poor thing was so surprised."
Jacob lifted his hand and removed the black monstrosity from Olin's hand and
placed it back on the dresser. "Sorry, I just can't take you seriously when
you're waving that dildo around."
Olin laughed and patted Jacob's shoulder. "He really is so
clever, I know I couldn't have done it." he paused, then began sorting through
the rest of the drawers. "Anyway, she was trapped in here for three hours while
Pete and I had gone off to dinner." He withdrew a six foot strand of assorted
flavored condoms from another drawer, thought for a moment, then dropped them
back into the drawer. "By the time we'd gotten home she was practically in hysterics."
Olin removed certain
items and left others - presumably
for Jacob. "I got the
biggest lecture: on my lifestyle, my choice in men, and the
fact that good Christian men,
even gay ones, didn't go around handcuffing themselves or their mothers to bedposts."
Jacob laughed and sat on the end of the bed while Olin collected the rest of
Peter's surprises. "I really wish I could have seen that." He said.
"Oh, no you don't!" Olin said, shocked. "that one almost got me disowned!'
He doubted that Aunt Raena would ever do such a thing. Olin had been one of
the favorite children in the entire family. It was more likely that she got the biggest
laugh out of it when they were out of earshot. She probably adored Pete.
"Well, I'll take this stuff out of here and you can get a shower or some
sleep." Olin said trying to balance everything in his arms. "I know we're going to have so
much fun. I have about fifty thousand places to show you."
Jacob stopped Olin before he left. "I really appreciate this, Olin, I've had
a really rough time lately."
"Hey, Jake-ee, you're my favorite fag. I'd vote for G.W. for you, and
that's saying a lot." he smiled.
"Seriously, I don't know what I would have done."
"Let's not get too weepy here, Jake. This queen can stand so much before I go
into sugar shock.
You're family, in two ways, Jake, don't sweat it." He closed the door behind
When he was gone, Jacob collapsed on the bed, exhausted.
Later, after he'd showered and relaxed, Jacob slept and dreamed without
nightmares for the first time in two days. His sleep was
interrupted only once- when his hand found a coiled bullwhip hidden lovingly
between the mattress and the wall.