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

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4. View From The Bedroom

The first thing Tyler noticed was that he could see the red phone booth on Roscoe from the bedroom window. "I need to live here!" he declared as Charlie came back in with his glass of water. Awkward.

4. View From The Bedroom
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The first thing Tyler noticed was that he could see the red phone booth on Roscoe from the bedroom window. "I need to live here!" he declared as Charlie came back in with his glass of water. Awkward.

"Why don't I show you the rest of the place before you jump into anything? Charlie's tone gave Tyler pause; he knew he had to stop spazzing out. He had to be cool, or at least play it. He nodded appreciatively as Charlie pointed out the amenities of the apartment as they walked through it. The rehabbed kitchen amidst the Art Deco architecture, the spacious rooms streaming out of the oddly long and narrow hallways, none of it really meant anything to him. It was all about that view from the bedroom.

"So what do you do?" asked Charlie, nicely enough. It didn't matter in what tone the question was phrased: it made Tyler panic. How could this Podunk boy from Ohio spin his situation to not make him seem like a complete loser to this attractive and sophisticated city guy?

"Well, I just moved here from Ohio. School. Finished school. So…now, I'm here." Good enough to pass, it seemed. But more questions were likely.

"That's great. Welcome. What did you study?"

Easy enough. "Communications. I figured it was general enough that I could find a good job."

"So what do you want to do?" If only Tyler could honestly answer that question…

"I'm still figuring that out yet."

"That makes sense. First year out was weird for me too." God, why was this guy being so sweet and charming? It was making it harder for Tyler to white-lie to him.

"I just knew I had to come here. There was nothing really for me back home." Charlie could appreciate that. He'd never been a small town guy, but he spent enough time romanticizing about the quaintness of Main Street, USA to empathize.

"This city is great. Small-town feel but still a big city. You're crashing with friends?"

"No, I…um…I'm staying at a hotel. Until I find a place."

"The Best Western on Broadway?"

"No, it's this hotel. On Belmont." Tyler didn't have to elaborate; Charlie knew what hotel he was talking about. And Charlie could see from the way Tyler said it that he was terrified to go back. Right away, it made him wonder what could've been so bad at home that a kid would pack up and stay at a no-star SRO. Just passing the place gave Charlie the creeps. He couldn't imagine anyone living there, especially this sweet-faced kid. "I've been there a couple of nights," Tyler continued, sensing Charlie's trepidation. "It's not that bad, just…funky. Urban?"

"Sure, that's…one way of looking at it. But you've got a job?"

Fuck. "Um…looking?" And there it was, twice in one week: moral crisis. On one hand, Tyler had no job, no foreseeable way to pay rent let alone the security deposit, and no direction in life. There was no way Charlie wanted to take responsibility for that. On the other hand, Tyler was a complete newbie who was just waiting to get swallowed up whole by this city. As ancient as Charlie felt, it really wasn't so long ago that he was in the exact same situation. His life would've been a helluva lot easier if someone was there to help him out. There was only one answer for a moral crisis like this.

"Would you like a glass of pinot grigio?" Tyler looked relieved and grateful at once.

They sat in the dining nook that overlooked Halsted, sipping wine, watching the sunset over Chicago. This was one of the huge perks of living in this apartment; the skyline in a silhouette of blues and oranges was awe-inspiring. There was something magical about seeing Tyler notice it for the first time. As the bottle emptied and glasses were shared, they both a little bit of themselves slip out. Nothing as deep as hopes and dreams; more nickel-dime stuff like favorite movies and schoolboy hijinks. About the third glass into bottle two, Tyler became a little introspective, almost melancholy. Charlie waited politely for the moment to pass, but Tyler lived in it and looked at him squarely with those doe-like green eyes.

"It's just…my dad, y'know? I mean, it's so cliché. Every gay guy has dad issues." He paused. He realized that he hadn't let that cat out of the bag, but the way that Charlie nodded in acknowledgement assured Tyler that he knew exactly what he was talking about. He sipped his wine and continued. "But my dad's just…I honestly think he'd rather see me dead than be alive and a fag. He doesn't think I'll amount to anything. Whether that has anything to do with being gay or not…I don't know. But I'm going to show him. Not to prove him wrong, but to prove I'm right. Doesn't matter how much money I make or who I know. I'm going to make things happen. Cuz anyway, fuck him, you know?"

Charlie laughed at that. There was something about the way Tyler looked at the world. The way that somehow, anything was possible: it was refreshing. Tyler blushed and whether it was from the wine or from the way Charlie was looking at him, it just made him even more endearing. Precious. As Tyler gazed out the window, sipping his wine, watching the hustle and bustle of Halsted and Roscoe below him, Charlie feared that Boystown would suck that joyous naïveté out of him. Both literally and figuratively.

The gayborhood had a way of doing that to people. If Tyler stayed here long enough, he could end up a jaded scene queen, whose only purpose in life was the drink, the dance, the dish. If he stayed here even longer, he could end up a bitter old queen who only finds joy in making those around him miserable. Or worse…he could end up like Charlie. And as a neon bar light flashed on Tyler's face through the window and his ears perked to the hum and buzz of endless possibility walking to the next bar, Charlie just…knew. Fuck the security deposit and fuck the unsteady income: someone had to look out for this kid.

"How'd you like to move in?" The tears of gratitude welling up in Tyler's eyes as he abruptly hugged Charlie were almost heartbreaking. This kid had no idea what he was getting himself into.


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