Part 2 “ The Forsaken People”
Joey left the dark pier and retraced his steps until he was at the parking lot in front of the wharf. He walked up to a cab and stared for a moment. He didn’t know what to do as he had never ridden in one before. He knocked on the window and the driver waved him in. Joey got into the back of the cab and wrinkled his nose to the smell of flowers and vomit.
“Where do you want to go?”, asked the cabby.
Joey was silent.
“Where do you live? Do you want to go home?”
“No, no I don’t,” said Joey.
“Where are you headed?”
Joey tensed up, bit into his lip, shook his head no for several seconds and then blurted out, “Pizza.”
“Pizza?” asked the driver.
“Yeah, I want the best pizza in all of San Francisco.”
The bridge, Joey thought, could wait a little longer still.
A short trip and $6 later the driver dropped him off at the end of Market Street. The driver pointed him to a Pizzeria on the corner near the Muni Station. It didn’t look like much but, if the driver could be trusted, it was the best in town.
The Pizzeria was a small corner affair that had bay windows with seats that faced into the street. A person could watch the world go by as they dined. Joey ordered a slice of pepperoni, a medium Coke, and sat looking out the window. The wedge wasn’t amazing, but the atmosphere was better than anything in Northbay. Though he took several burns to the top of his mouth, each was, in the end, worth the pain. It was a suitable last meal.
Joey finished his food and watched the people walk by. It was getting late, his brain was foggy, and the pizza coma was slowly taking him. Sluggishly, he got up to walk off the meal. As he exited, he noticed a sign in the window; help wanted. He stared at it and wondered if he could make a pizza. Would he make a lot of money? He had no idea how much pizza makers made.
He left back to the street but wasn’t seeing the city anymore. The various signs and stores blurred past.
‘Help wanted,’ he thought. He was only 15, but he could lie. There was a wad of 20’s in his pocket that he stole before he left. He could live on that till his first paycheck; it was almost 100 bucks.
A half-smile curled at the corner of his lip. His brain began to ponder a montage of him flinging pizzas, paying rent, and buying groceries. He looked around, as if he had discovered something profound, and needed to tell someone. The darkness within shuddered, its vacuum grip peeling away. All he had to do was get a job. Then, he saw the one thing he wasn’t ready to see.
Two men walked by holding hands, lovingly.
Joey thought that was odd. He turned to see if anyone else had noticed, but no one seemed the wiser. There was a rainbow painted on the wall and an eerie chill rose within him. There were rainbow flags and pink triangles. He knew what those meant.
God hated them. ‘Gay’ was evil, and gross, and made everyone hate him. It was deceitful and abusive, it was horror and rape. All the things that were made good in life were reduced and stripped away and denied to those that were gay. They could not love, nor be loved. He could never know love, never be normal, never be happy. He was here because he didn’t want to be gay, he’d rather die.
He ran towards what looked like a subway. It said Harvey Milk Plaza on a large sign, but he didn’t know what that was. A wide stairway led down to the station, but iron gates barred entry. God had sent him here to this place to die as he deserved. Despair descended upon him and blotted out any hope.
It would only be a matter of time before he would give in to his own urges again. He drank last night and threw it all away, he let it happen, he should have fought.
He leaned up against a large cylindrical bench next to a planter in the sunken plaza. The planter had a sparsely leafed bush with garbage and cigarette butts at the roots. The roar of traffic was like a big, perverted monster hunting him from above. Frustration and anger ground inside him and, no matter how hard he tried not to, tears crept out. The walls broke away and Joey sobbed openly.
The Plaza was sparsely populated. Joey wept for several minutes and no one seemed to care. As he began to compose himself, wipe away his tears, he realized he was very alone.
“Hey kid, you okay?”
Joey looked up to see a short, dark-haired, scruffy-looking man in his late twenties. He wore a backward baseball cap with several buttons pinned to it. He had on a faded black tee with some 70s rocker band logo, a worn leather jacket, and clad in gator skin cowboy boots. He looked like an out-of-work rock star.
“I’m fine,” Joey replied wiping a tear from his cheek.
“You’re crying,” the man said.
“I…I just had something in my eye…allergies,” Joey said looking around the mostly empty plaza.
“Yeah, I know, I get ’em during the summer.”
“Well, I’m okay, thank you,” Joey said and looked away.
“I’m not trying to make you, kid. Just saw you were…you know with the allergies.”
“Make me?” asked Joey.
“Yeah, get with you.”
“I can’t be got. I’m not like that,” Joey said sharply.
“Do you like to drink? I’m having a get-together at my pad tonight; you can come if you want. Maybe it will cheer up… your allergies,” the man said.
Joey didn’t even think about it and walked away.
“What else do you got planned? Gonna watch TV or hang out with your folks? It’s already late and you got nothing to do.”
“How do I know you won’t take advantage of me?” asked Joey.
“There will be lots of people there,” the man smiled.
Joey kept walking.
“There will be kids your age. Round the corner, literally.”
“Sorry, I can’t. My dad’s a cop, and he’d be pissed if I did something like that.”
The man smiled at the ‘cop dad’ counter. Joey began to climb the stairs moving around a bum. About five steps up he stopped and contemplated the legitimacy of the stranger’s claims.
“I didn’t catch your name,” shouted the man.
There was a pause.
“Nope,” Joey said, as much to God as to himself.
“See you around ‘Nope’,”.
Next Episode: Joey is trapped under the rainbow with no place to stay and no friends. Will he go home and face the consequences or will he end it all? Will the creepy stranger be his only choice? Find out exactly what that man is looking for in the next Episode: Mike the Lesser.