The daily serial fictional based on Chicago's Boystown neighborhood: Boystown series by Danny Bernardo

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6-10 Recap (Volume 6)

Tristan meets a catfish and Hunter finds his muse in the second week of Volume 6. Volume 7 launches on March 25 on GoPride!

6-10 Recap (Volume 6)
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Tristan meets a catfish and Hunter finds his muse in the second week of Volume 6. Volume 7 launches on March 25 on GoPride!


Alex stared at Robbie's battered and bruised body as the angsty rock showtunes kept shuffled on.

"Who did this to you?" he asked Robbie.

"I don't want to... "

"Is this because of the picture?"

"I don't know how but somehow... it got emailed to my dad. He freaked out. ‘He can't have a queer son,' he said. And then... " Robbie collapsed on his bed, sobbing even harder. Alex sat down next to him and held him tight.

"We've got to get you out of here. If your dad's hurting you... "

"I can't just leave. Where would I go?"

"You can stay with me, I guess," Alex said, holding him tighter. "Whatever. We can't let your dad hurt you anymore. And then you can set things right with Mr. Pa... "

Robbie's mom burst in the room and Robbie pushed Alex away as quickly as possible.

"Get out," she said, her voice icy cold.

Alex ran out of Robbie's so fast, it wasn't until he was at the train station that he realized he'd dropped the picture of Robbie and Mr. Parker kissing in Robbie's room. He had to help the poor kid. As much as he hated it, the only person that could possibly help was Mr. Parker. He got on the northbound red line towards Boystown.



Tyler looked at the picture on Edward's phone in awe. "I'm so happy he said yes!"

"He would've had a lot to answer for if he hadn't," Edward chuckled, admiring the picture of his man wearing the engagement ring he'd bought from Tiffany's.

"But I thought you guys weren't about that."

"Well, honestly, so did we. When I was a kid, all I had to look forward to was growing up to be a sexual deviant that lived in the shadows. But life has been much kinder to me. I've been blessed beyond belief. And with gay marriage that much closer here in Illinois, well... "

"The times, they are a-changing," smiled Tyler.

"They sure are," said Edward. "How are things on the home front? How's Charlie?"

"Not so good. They're keeping him suspended indefinitely. He's meeting with David about it tomorrow?"

"Who's meeting with David?!" Josh asked as he passed by the open office door.

"Charlie," Tyler replied.

"Why?" Josh asked nervously. "Why would he... ? I mean, I know they're friends, but, why?"

"It's that unpleasantness at school," Edward said.

"Yeah, David's taking the case pro bono," Tyler said. "Really nice of him."

"What case? What happened at school?"

Tyler and Edward looked at each other. "Well, one of his students accused Charlie of making a pass at him," Tyler said cautiously.

"No! Not Charlie!"

"Exactly," Tyler said.

"It'll blow over," Edward reassured the boys. "Charlie's a good man. They have to see that."

"Tyler!" LaTrice squealed, bursting through the office door. "I got it! I got the job at the café!"

"That's amazing!" Tyler exclaimed, hugging LaTrice.

"And I saw that trick Jazmin, the one that stabbed me."

"Did you call the police?" Tyler asked.

"She tried to throw me some shade, but I was just all, ‘you know what? I was her.' I was just blessed to have ended up here. Some people, they ain't so lucky."

"I know that's right," Edward said. "I just wish there was more we could do, in terms of outreach. Really reach the kids that need us most."

"Y'all lookin in the wrong places," LaTrice said. "Course, y'all ain't never asked me, so... "

"Well, I'm asking you," Tyler said. "If you've got some ideas, I'd love to hear them."

"I'll write ‘em down. Josh, can you help me with a, what's that they call it, a proposal?"

"Absolutely," Josh said, escorting her to the study hall. Tyler stared off at them, grinning from ear to ear.

"What?" Edward asked, matching Tyler's smile.

"It's just... who would've thought, you know? One of my best friends in the city, is this girl... a girl who attacked me no less... .but from a completely different upbringing. Who'd have thought this gawky white kid from po'dunk Ohio and this black trans girl from the South Side of Chicago."

"Like you said," Edward mused, putting his hand on Tyler's shoulder. "Times are changing."



"I tell ya what, boo, white bitches crazy," Jaison said, sipping his vodka cranberry.

"And someone's cut off," Tristan said, throwing shade from behind the bar.

"Bitch please, like you and Braden aren't the craziest."

"Is that trifilin' guy with a boyfriend still trying to fuck with you?"

"And he been crazy about it! Keeps asking me to sing him to sleep with spirituals."

"Stop it!"

"I think he called me Kunta once when he was riding me."

"You are too fucking much!" Tristan looked around The Pitstop mischievously. "Is it anyone I know?"

Jaison took another sip of his drink. "No," he lied coyly. The cicada sound of Grindr buzzed from Tristan's phone on the bar. "Speaking of too much... "

"UGH!" Tristan grunted. "Can't people fucking read? My profile says ‘no face pic, no chat'."

"That's a hot chest though," Jaison observed as Tristan showed him the picture on the phone. "What's he say?"

"He said, ‘Sup.' How fucking original."

"Jackson Maxim," Jaison read his screen name aloud.

"Whatever, I'm totally going to block him."

"Wait! What if he's hot? Just ask him for a face pic?"

Tristan and Jaison waited with bated breath waiting for the response. A picture of a hot Latino boy stared back at them a moment later.

"No!" they both exclaimed.

"That's a picture of Ephraim!" said Jaison. "Why is he grinding you?"

"Because obviously... it's not Ephraim."



The blank page stared back at Hunter relentlessly. Its emptiness mocked him. The charcoal hovered over the page, threatening at any moment to make contact and reveal his inner most fears and desires. He cursed himself for openly mocking the rudimentary basics of drawing that the professor taught on the first class of the session he was lucky enough to get into. This impotence of muse, this uninspired moment was his own damn fault. Because now the gauntlet was thrown, an assignment so simple and straightforward, yet near impossible: "draw what inspires you."

In the week between classes, he'd bemoan at great length the austerity, the sheer waste of time this class was. Fitz assured him that you had to crawl before you learned to run. Raphael, his friend from the comic book shop, reminded him that Jack Kirby started with dots before they became infamous. They didn't understand, they didn't have this detonating bomb of a virus inside of them, ticking away the moments until he was gone. And even though the new drugs kept the bomb's timer temporarily frozen, the ghost of the ticks echoed in his soul. He had to accomplish greatness before he left this mortal coil. And that greatness was going to be this comic book. That he had to learn how to draw. But couldn't... because he was stuck.

The blank page stared back at Hunter viciously. In the vast whiteness of its possibility, he willed something, anything to form upon it. Something that wouldn't betray his failings as a person. Anything that would prove to the world, to himself, that he could do something right. That he wasn't just some washed up go-go boy, some recovering redneck who had been deluding himself that he had something to offer the world.

"Draw what inspires you." He thought of the green hills that lead down to the river, not too far from his childhood home. He remembered what it was like to be a kid. Running by its banks, hiding from his father when he'd had too much drink and too much eagerness to let loose with his belt. He thought immediately of paying an homage to Grant Wood and immediately smearing the edges of charcoal with specks of red. But paying an homage to someone else's work didn't feel right for this first assignment.

The blank page stared back at Hunter condescendingly. It knew what thoughts he was forming and rejected them before the charcoal could even make contact.

"Draw what inspires you." He tried to recall every panel he'd ever dreamed up before falling asleep, every night for the past twelve years. The characters and adventures he'd only dare to embark upon in that moment between sleep and dreams. He tried to recall the exact sunbeam that streamed its way onto Fitz's chest as they lay in bed one Sunday morning. He thought of his tattoo, the phoenix. He thought about how its inspiration, the X-Man Jean Grey, died like he was going to die, but came back more powerful. But Hunter wouldn't have that rebirth: once he was dead, he was dead. The fear or joy that could come if he embraced any of that paralyzed the charcoal with fear.

The blank page stared back at Hunter. Its emptiness mocked him, enraged him, terrified him, all at once. He got off the couch and began to wander. He shook out his hands heavy with self-frustration. He began to count the minute lines on the ceiling to take him away from the fruitless frustration of the task at hand.

Hunter caught sight of Charlie opening the door slowly from his bedroom. He emerged in disheveled pajamas and at least three days worth of scruff. He watched Charlie walk to the window, look outside, and press his hand to the glass, trying to reabsorb any remnant of the outside world that he remembered. A world that deemed him a monster without the benefit of the doubt. The world that judged him, kicked him out, and refused to let back in. Charlie had never much of an activist before, but in the last six months, taking over the GSA, Hunter noticed a change in Charlie. The kids at school benefitted from having Charlie as a role model, not because he knew the right thing to say or was well-versed in queer rights history. Charlie was just himself, all the time everyday. He was able to give back to those kids because he never held anything back from those kids. They didn't get sugarcoated, automaton Charlie. They got all of him, the real him. And now he was robbed of that. Charlie walked around like a zombie of a man; letting the tears flow when he thought no one else was home. Charlie was a teacher and a teacher who had no one teach was no one. By being completely genuine and off the cuff, he was giving these kids the most important lesson of all: being queer wasn't just activism or circuit parties. It was about finally being true to yourself when you were the only one getting in your way to begin with.

Hunter sat on the couch. He took a breath. And charcoal kissed blankness.



The buzzer rang incessantly while Charlie was in the kitchen opening a second bottle of pinot grigio. He peeked his head into the living room and saw Hunter on the couch, headphones on, working on a charcoal drawing for class. Charlie sighed and went to the intercom.

"Hello?" Charlie asked.

"Mr. Parker, it's me. Alex."

Charlie stiffened. "Tyler isn't home."

"I'm not looking for Tyler, I came to see you. I need to talk to you."

"That's not such a good idea," Charlie said. "I'm already suspended for something I didn't do. The last thing is I need is adding fraternization with one of my students in my home."

"It's really important, Mr. Parker."

"It's always important at this age," Charlie exclaimed. "You kids, you just go for what you think you want before you even weigh the options. You do whatever, say whatever, and don't give a fuck about the consequences."

"Can you please buzz me up, Mr. Parker? It's freezing out here."

"Go home Alex," Charlie said, taking his hand off the "talk" button.

"You don't understand! It's not about... Robbie's dad, when he found out? He beat Robbie. Hurt him really bad. I'm scared for him."

Alex listened to the silence. Did Mr. Parker just turn his back on him?

"I know you're not allowed in school or talk to any students, but do you see how important this is? I need your help. Robbie needs your help. And I don't know what to do." Alex waited a few minutes longer then began to walk away.

Just then, the door buzzer came on. Alex went in.

Volume 7 launches March 25th! Catch up here:

Volume 1 -
Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four, Week Five

Volume 2 -
Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four, Week Five

Volume 3 -
Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four, Week Five

Volume 4 -
Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four, Week Five

Volume 5 -
Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four, Week Five


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