The Dilly Boy From Bucharest.
THE DILLYBOY FROM BUCHAREST.
I crossed over the road to the Burger King, he wasn’t in his normal window seat, so I walked around into Shaftesbury Avenue, past the rent boy bus-stop. He wasn’t there either.
The automatic doors opened as I passed Wonderland. I did a double-take but it was just some Japanese hippie kid with hideously peroxided hair shooting at Virtua Cop 2’s big screen… how wrong could you be?
Maybe he’d found a punter early, or “caught one customer”, as he liked put it.
I nodded to the doorman outside the Yard and blanked out all the other nonentities on the cobblestones of Rupert St. and cut down Rupert Ct. past the big picture windows of the Village … just a cursory glance to check if there was anyone that I knew propping up the bar … there wasn’t. The, not particularly appealing, woman behind the mirrored tiled counter of the live show asked me for the millionth time if I was interested in “GIRLS” … I still wasn’t and she didn’t sound that curious to find out one way or the other, if there was a verbal equivalent of an automatic door, her voice was it.
I nodded across the road at Paul on the door at Compton’s as I walked down queer street and made my way to Charing Cross Road and the CrossBar. I don’t know why. Just the usual cheapskate nouveau-clones swilling down bargain priced ( for the West End ) pints. I did the usual circuit … through the main bar up the stairs through the upper bar down the rear stairs checked the toilets back through the bar and out onto the street. It was extremely rare that I ever came across anybody that I knew in the CrossBar and even rarer that I came across anybody that I actually wanted to know.
But I sort of credited myself with inventing the CrossBar, inasmuch as I often walked past it when it was a concrete cave of an unlet shop and thought that would make a profitable gay bar. And what do you know ? Some devious cunt lifted my idea before I could do so much as tell anybody and be wise before the fact.
The location proved to be so popular that an equally devious cunt took the lease on the unlet cave etc. two doors along and turned that into another equally profitable gay bar : The X-bar. The whole gay scene was mushrooming, I liked the fungal analogy but wasn’t too struck on the idea that there was an almost endless supply of nouveau-clones to fill bar after bar, I was waiting for the bubble to burst : a bar too far as it were. Not that there seemed any sign of it at present.
I swallowed my ever growing distaste of all things gay and nudged my way through the crowd to the rear of the X-bar, which unlike its utilitarian stack ‘em high swill ‘em cheap precursor two doors away, had had quite some dough and artistic thought put into its refurbishment : much wrought iron post industrial smelter and dripping altar candles.
I spotted Cameron propping up the bar, just shortly before he spotted me, which checked my instinctive urge to perform a swift U-turn. I’d sponged a score off of him, my taxi fare home, last time we’d been at Q.A.F. a few weeks previously.
He greeted me with a bucked tooth smile, and a raised glass: he was drunk. If he had any recollection of the outstanding ‘loan’ then he didn’t mention it, which displayed some class, I thought. I settled down for an evening of heavy drinking, at his expense.
I related the more titivating details of my trip to Prague, he ordered Champagne by the bottle and tequila by the slammer. I wanted to settle him into amused admiring drink purchasing mode before I asked him about Gabby.
“ The young one?” He questioned. Who else could I have meant, but I let his drunken stupidity pass.
“ Yeah, I haven’t seen him since I got back.” “ Didn’t you know ?” He slurred. Get on with you stupid pissed Scottish idiot, I thought, but managed to resist the temptation to verbalize it. “ He’s away back to France.” “ What? He’s gone already?” I needed clarification of the colloquialism.
“ Aye, more than a week back.” His speech was getting very Whisky Galore in some form of alcohol induced mawkishness “ You sure.”
“ I should be, I paid for his ticket.” I didn’t much like the tone of pride in his voice.
“ That’ll be right.” I scoffed without any attempt at concealing my contempt. I saw the look pass over his face and my evening of free drinking fly out the window. But I didn’t care it was a Sunday and the town closed at 10:30. He’d played the generous benefactor card and I’d thrown the mug punter flush back in his face.
He un-propped himself from the bar and made his way unsteadily towards the bogs, I poured myself a generous glass of his bubbly, necked it, and cleared.
I had enough small change for a couple of cans of White Lightening from the Seven-Eleven so I made my way on foot to Waterloo with them to keep company.
The cider had run out by the time my train reached Wimbledon, leaving me with a few stops to ride dry, and a feeling of regret that I hadn’t had the cash to buy an extra can. Now it was my turn to get maudlin, I couldn’t picture Gabby’s face, and of course I had no photos or video of him.
It struck me that that was the way with rentboys, they were convenient because you could pick them up or put them down as it suited you. Well that was how it was supposed to work. But then again, because of the lack of connection they could just up and leave … disappear. Just stop showing up on the Dilly. With no way of making contact with them … finding them. It reminded me of this girl I’d met on a family holiday in Minorca when I’d been fifteen. She’d flown back to Hamburg a week before the end of my holiday fortnight and I hadn’t bothered to get her address. She’d looked like a thirteen year old Brook Shields (Blue Lagoon). I noticed that I still had the empty can in my hand, this I crumpled and tossed out of the window as Raynes Park sped past.
I should have fucked her, I could have done. Too late. Never mind.
D. J. Taylor.
From the introduction to Brian Howard; Portrait of a failure.