Author Topic: ICE AND GLASS - LGBT Thriller (Trigger: drugs, sex, violence, homophobia)  (Read 283 times)

Offline JEC112

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Chapter 1 - Flashes

Corbin Michaels

I am alone on an island surrounded by a sea of sex. Darkness blinds me. The air reeks of salty sweat and banana flavored lube. Everyone around me engages in carnal relations, all of us cloaked in blackness so God cannot watch.

I am not jealous of the solitude on my island. I need no human companions to liven my spirits. While people all around me take their partners in their hands, I too take mine in my hands. Though I don’t see it, I know every ounce of the rose-gray liquid in the glass vial like the back of my house. Or hand. Whatever the expression is. I didn’t go to college to be a god-damned English major. I didn’t go at all.
I don’t need no education. I don’t need companions. I don’t even need … what’s that word again? Oh, right. Fam-ill-ee. Emphasis on ill.

My fingers are soft and supple with the grace of bottles of lotion; my arms, however, are rough. Calloused and scabbed. A perfect line of self-damage indicates the vein I seek. I tighten the strap around my arm, flex my hand a couple times, then tap along my forearm until I find just the right spot. The vein is ripe for the taking. All the while my best friend forever waits with impatience clamped between my teeth.

Once I’m satisfied with the site, I use my right hand to grasp the solution between my teeth. The cap on the needle falls somewhere on the floor next to me. The dude behind me stops slurping long enough to ask, “What was that?”

The second voice is the dulcet, sultry tone that can only come from an African American. God, I love the way it sounds.

“Shut your damn mouth and get back on my dick.”


The fleshy slurping continues.

You ain’t nothin’ but a liddle bitch, says The Voice in my head. I jump at the sound only I can hear; I never know when to expect it. Time to shut the voice up.

One. Two. Three. I wince at the sensation of the metal piercing skin, though the pain lasts for seconds. My thumb works on automatic, plunging the liquid glee straight into my bloodstream. My muscles relax. My neck can no longer support my head. Euphoria caresses my brain with her supple fingers and I loll my head back with a contented sigh.

I am alone on my island surrounded by a sea of sex. Darkness blinds me. And all I can do is laugh.

“She really thought it was gonna work this time,” I think. No. I don’t think the words. I say them. Out loud. The guy behind me enjoying an anonymous mouth clicks his tongue but says nothing. “The fourth one! Baaa-ha-ha-ha! What a stupid bitch.”

“Yo, dude,” says that melodic bass voice that makes my heart swell with joy, “I’m in the middle of something, so unless you wanna come swallow this anaconda too, shut your f**kin’ mouth.”

I turn to look at him. In the darkness, his aura flashes a pulsating red in time with the muffled techno music a million miles away. DJ Jankey Jake pounds out the tunes until sunrise every Friday and Saturday night.

The pleasure floating in my brain, however, is the only pleasure I seek.

“Sorry, man,” I say with lips floating off my face. “I’m straight.”

Anaconda gives an amused scoff. “If you here, you sure as hell ain’t straight.”

True. Flashes is one of the most popular gay nightclubs in the whole of New York City. But saying, “I’m straight” is a helluvalot simpler than saying “I’m an asexual bi-romantic.” That never jives with people. Then again, people suck.

I pull the needle from my arm. No wincing this time. Taking out is always easier than putting in.

That’s what she said.

The needle remains between my thumb, index, and middle fingers. Though the music sounds too distant to enjoy, I wave the syringe like a baton. There, in the muggy swamp of sweat and carnal agony, I smile in divine pleasure as I conduct my own invisible symphony. Their suffering becomes my pleasure, preordained like Manifest Destiny.

Time passes. Minutes? Hours? Who knows. Who cares? Life is meant to be lived, and damn it, I am gonna live, baby. Whoo! The syringe falls to the floor thanks to my butter fingers, but do I care enough to search the obscurity for it? Hell no. Instead I push myself off the chair, wiping a gooey, sticky substance best left unknown on my jeans. Here, I discover this new thing about myself. I can walk. Have I always been able to walk? It provides a new-found sense of freedom, an escape from this dark room, this cage of immorality. My legs carry me toward a new journey beyond the hallway that connects the dark room to the dance floor.

Once I return to the center of the nightclub, I feel like I’ve just walked into a volcano. Green lasers cut through the air. Hundreds of bodies of various vibrating auras wear Glo-Sticks around their necks or wrists. They gyrate their bodies together on a dance floor that changes between the colors of the rainbow.

Near the door leading to the hallway, a Club Kid calls out my persona’s name. “Well, look who it is. Emmy Thingledue.”  I don’t recognize him, but I’m too mesmerized by his costume to ignore the single-finger summons. He’s wearing a clown costume with matching large red shoes, but his face and hat are decorated like an upside down strawberry ice cream cone. The makeup is excellent. Well done, Mr. Ice Cream Kid.

I move toward the man, staring at his outfit with my mouth hanging open. His fingers grab my arm. I wince, though he doesn’t hurt me like I expect. Instead, he pulls me along to the dance floor. His feet and ass move of their own accord, thrusting and bumping every which way to Kylie Minogue’s latest single, “Love at First Sight.” Me? I have no idea what I’m doing. The wind of my body’s movements kisses my skin as we bounce from one end of the dance floor to the other and back again. Ice Cream Kid dances hard, but his make up remains intact. He has experience. And talent.

Finally, I hear the opening to “The Sound of Goodbye” by Perpetual Dreamer, taking that as my cue to leave.

“This is the sound of goodbye,” I say with a wave. My words come out distorted. Muffled. Am I even speaking English?

Dancing is fun, but it isn’t how I intend to spend my Saturday night. I can do that any weekend I’m not bartending. My legs become automatic once more, guiding me to the front of the nightclub until a voice awakens me from my euphoric trance.

“Yo, Emmy!”

At the bar, I see a blurry version of my boss, Raùl. He motions me forward like Mr. Ice Cream Kid did, except he uses two fingers instead of one. I meander over to the bar, taking my time to show I’m not scheduled and shouldn’t even have been called upon. As I walk, I stop. Somewhere along the path, there’s a black step that’s hard to see in the interior rave-lit twilight. Black steps in a nightclub. Whose brilliant idea was that?

Several Club Kid patrons dressed in various drag and costumes pass by. A thin bearded man is dressed as Sailor Moon, complete with original white hair and circular buns on his head. An overweight woman wears a bra, panties, gloves, and boots. Instead of the latex or lycra costume of the show, she has painted herself like the pink Power Ranger from the original series a decade ago. In her hand is a bow, the string of which she pulls back as though shooting arrows at random people. Even her face is painted like the pterodactyl helmet. A golden symbol glistens from the gap in her breasts.

A particularly muscular, crème-skinned new hire wears nothing but boots and a tight golden Speedo that leaves little to the imagination. I guarantee one-hundred percent he stuffs with a sock. He carries a tray of brilliant neon blue shots, but gives me a coy smile as he passes. His ice-blue eyes twinkle in the laserlight.

“Su-u-up?” I ask Raùl at the bar, then regret it when he places two brown bottles of Coors Light in front of me.

“Run those to the VIP section, will you?”

I purse my lips at the bottles,and release a whiny, high pitched groan, leaning toward his face dominated by a prominent Roman nose. “Do I have to? Look at the schedule, I’m not even on i-i-it.”

“Hermano.” Raùl often switches from English to Spanish for no reason, even though he was born right here in Brooklyn. “I told you I got da good stuff. Have you seen yourself? You’re tweaking so hard I can feel your energy, n’ah mean? Dat’s what we need tonight. Besides, you know why I don’t put you on the schedule? ‘Cause you da assistant manager. Doy. You come at my beck and call since I’m da owna.” I shake my head. No way, José. Raùl just grunts. “Fine. Take it to dem, and I’ll only take halfa yo’ tip, comprende?”

“I don’t understand comprende,” I say. Then I tilt my head back and release another delighted cackle.

Someone who looks exactly like me stares back from the mirror on the ceiling. He wears a long flowing dress of silver thule, covered with half-spheres of varying size and colors. One is blue painted brown to resemble the continents. The solid band of a medical alert I found on the street bracelet is glued to the side of a green tennis ball like the ring of a planet. Dozens of glow-in-the-dark plastic stars cover empty space and along the hemline. Two ping-pong balls painted black and fashioned with flaming tails of glass lightning resemble meteorites over the breasts of his dress like astral pasties. Atop his head a yellow styrofoam ball holds a crown, both pinned into place. His face is painted with the three-dimensional effect of the man on the moon, complete with a solitary teardrop.

Hey, give me back my look, you bastard.

“Yeah, all right,” I say once my gaze returns to the bottles. “Be right back, Jeff.”

“For da millionth time, it’s pronounced jefe.”

Once I return to the dance floor, beer bottles in hand, my butt shakes its groove thing among the myriad patrons jumpin’ and jivin’ to the beat. I hold the bottles high so as not to hit the uncoordinated dancers stepping side to side and rubbing their naughty bits into other peoples’ naughty bits. Cher’s “Believe” asks me my opinion on life after love, but for me the question is moot.

I approach the VIP section off the left side of the dance floor, blocked off by both a purple velvet rope as well as Makayla, the most muscular woman I’d ever met. She’d been born “Mikail” but that just wasn’t the life for her…

“Your beers … have … arrived,” I say to the two gentlemen sitting at the gated table once Roxette lets me through. They’re wearing matching navy-blue suits. Chubby, bearded, pierced eyebrows, and the faint lines of tattoos coming off their shoulders and chests. To anyone else, this would have been a night to remember.

“Wow! Great outfit! Wanna come over and paint us, too?” asks one of the bears with a deceptively squeaky voice. Even if I had been interested, the voice is an automatic no.

The other bear stops kissing his cheek long enough to lower his glasses a bit. “Ooh, yes. What are you doing once your shift is over.”

I raise my arms in fake apology, tucking the tray under my arm. “Sorry, fellas. I’m actually getting my testicles pierced in about ten minutes.”

All three of us burst into laughter before they slip a Benjamin in my brazier. Cha-ching! A little handsy but much more polite than other clients I’ve dealt with.

I return to the bar where I slap the bill down in front of Raùl.

“Very nice!” He holds it up to a light to ensure it’s real. “You want your half now or later?”


A special code between us. “Now” means cash. “Later” means wherever good stuff Raùl can get his hands on. And the man is a goldmine.


“I’m taking off,” I say. “I wanna find Caroline. I think she’s at the Highlight.”

Raul clicks his tongue with the shake of his head. His clean dress shirt shifts enough to reveal the set of star tattoos leading down his chest.  “I thought she kicked you outta her vida again.”

“You know me.” I reach my hands out to Raul’s scruffy, tan face then squish his cheeks together to give him a fish face. “Once we’re friends, we’re friends for life.” Then I plant a wet smacking kiss on his lips. Why? Because f**k the world, that’s why.

Raùl spits a bit as he wipes his mouth, but he joins in my laughter.

“Man,” he says before taking a drink from a water bottle, “you really feelin’ it. I got some stronger stuff if you wanna put your cut toward dat but … I dunno if you can handle it.”

“I can handle anything!” I throw my fists in the air, “V” for victory. “Whoo!”

Raùl waves me away. Apparently heroin makes me too loud even for the owner of a nightclub. “We’ll talk tomorrow. Go have fun groveling. She’d be estupida to let you back in her life.”

“Freebie says she does.”

“You’re on.”

With that, we part ways. I return to the front of the club, still floating on cloud nine. It has been a while since a hit worked like this. I want to experience everything life has to offer.

Just outside the club gathers a long line of patrons waiting for entry into the building. Many of them are Club Kids dressed in their own styles of makeup and living artistry, along with dozens of drag kings and queens. Several whoop as they pass around a joint that makes the air smell funny and my stomach rumble.

One drag queen I know stands with them, wearing a very tight pink latex dress along with a long blonde wig fluttering in the breeze. Shakwanna Doreem. Her breastplate is the largest I have ever seen, especially on such a dainty figure. If they were real they’d break her back. A small, square, basket-style purse hangs from her red acrylic nails; a stuffed Chihuahua’s head pokes over the brim, studying the world with beady plastic eyes.
Next to Shakwanna is one of my favorite Club Kids, Miz-Er-Ee-Layne. Her artistry is just … oh, it’s just the bee’s knees! Whoops, channeled some of my mother there. Tonight she’s wearing a faux-Dalmation print business suit with matching face paint. Her black and white wig swirls upward like an ice cream cone. Her eyes gleam from behind amber cat’s-eye contacts, giving her slits for pupils. Her white pumps glisten under the flashing orange sign reading “Flashes” high above the crowd. She hugs her Fucci clutch to her body, one she probably bought off some knock-off vendor in Chinatown.

“Lookin’ good, ladies!” I say to them as I pass, heading toward an alley to cut through to Christopher Street.

“As do you, Emmy!” says Shakwanna, her bobbin’ head throwing her Ramen-noodle wig all over the place. “Are you leavin us already?”

“Gotta go find Caroline.”

Miz-Er-Ee-Layne clutched her chest in pretense. “I thought thee kicked your ath to the curb.”

“A simple misunderstanding,” I say. In my chem-clutched mind, that explains everything. “Gonna go apologize. See you next time!”
I take a left down a nearby alleyway. A single light above a garbage can spreads a citrine halo of clarity wide enough to show a group of older teens tagging the walls on both sides of the light.

The stars in the night sky seem extra close until I realize what I swear is a UFO is really an airplane. In my drugged stupor, I sputter with laughter at my own ridiculousness.

“Yo, whatchu laugh’ at, lady?” asks a burly white dude holding a can of black paint. A small line of paint around his mouth and nose tells me I’m not the only one enjoying chemical mischief tonight.

I hold up my hands in truce. A fight could cause an adrenaline rush, which would knock away the high I paid for.

“Sorry, brother, I ain’t tryna start no trouble.” God, is my Southern drawl coming back? I worked hard to disguise that. “I’m just trippin’ balls is all.”

“Holy sh**, that’s a dude,” says a thin black dude with gold teeth and enough chains around his neck to build a small fence. “You just come from Flashes? You part of that fag factory?”

Uh-oh. Smells like trouble. Better de-escalate, and how. “Come on, fellas, we’re all friends here. Let’s just—”

I never finish my sentence. A fist rocking several rings makes the air in my lungs explode from my chest. I fall to my knees, clutching my midriff. Tears fall from my eyes. I can’t breathe. Fortunately, the heroin masks all the pain.

A second fist soars toward my face, catching me right in the mouth. The heroin mask shatters. Blood and a tooth fly through the air. Pain floods my body. But the heroin does something else: it prevents me from fighting back.

“Yo, T.J., bust that light,” said the burly dude. “Get ‘im, boys!”

This time, though I am bathed in darkness, I am not on my own solitary island. I am in hell, beaten down by demons for no sin other than existing. In the open air for God to witness this time. I lay on the ground while boots and sneakers rain down kicks and stomps on my head. The world becomes a flurry of blackness and red agony.

And the worst part?

All I can do … is laugh.

Offline heathcliff4

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I think this is well written. The graphic drugs, sex, and violence is not something I normally enjoy reading, but I'm sure it will appeal to your target audience. Call me crazy, but I got a Thomas Pynchon vibe from your prose, dialogue, and pop-culture references. You did a great job describing the gritty scene - I felt like I was there and could easily visualize the characters and the setting.

With only this chapter for context, I don't know what the plot of your novel is. The POV character (Corbin?) does drugs, dances, wants to buy more drugs, and gets assaulted after leaving the club. It's great writing, but this description could fit hundreds of other novels out there too. What makes yours unique? I'm sure it's better explained in later chapters, so maybe start telling the reader in the first chapter why they should care about Corbin's story.

A suggestion for this chapter: Start with "At the bar, I see a blurry vision of my boss, Raul." In my opinion, this is the point where the action gets going and I was more engaged as a reader. You don't necessarily need to cut the stuff that happens before from the novel entirely - but I'm not sure it's the best sequence to hit the readers with in the first chapter when you want to capture their attention.

Good luck with your novel. This is a promising beginning.

Offline JEC112

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Thank you for reading! I appreciate your input.

I would take your advice but the character designated "Anaconda" comes back later and is an integral part of the plot, so I can't take him out unless I find another way to implement him. I need his anonymity intact for the scene in which who he is is revealed and how it becomes relevant to the plot.

Corbin (imho) becomes more sympathetic as he attempts to regain control of his life, but right now I don't want him to be very likeable. He's very selfish and doesn't take responsibility for his actions "A simple misunderstanding" is his way of casting off what he's done, which the reader learns more about in chapter 2. Part of his narrative thread is learning to accept responsibility and say, "Yes, I did this." But for right now this is all the information I want the reader to have about the characters.