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

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21-25 Recap: Volume 1

Every story line so far comes to a collision point in week 5 of BOYSTOWN. Volume 2 will launch 8/27, right here on and the GoPride network!

21-25 Recap: Volume 1
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Every story line so far comes to a collision point in week 5 of BOYSTOWN. Volume 2 will launch 8/27, right here on and the GoPride network!


It was a cool enough evening that Charlie and Josh chose to sit out on the patio of the Caribou Coffee on Halsted. Charlie looked up from his programming notes as Josh came back with two coffees. They sat there for a moment, notes and curriculum out, trying to ignore the tension filled space between them.

"How long have you volunteered at Haven?" Charlie asked, breaking the silence.

"About six months now. I just got inspired one day, I guess. My friends keep complaining about the rising crime rate in the neighborhood. They're hell bent on making it a race issue, I say it's education. I got so sick of arguing about it so I decided I'd do something instead." God, why did he have to be hot AND socially aware AND have a boyfriend?!

"That's pretty much how it was for me," Charlie said, hating that his answer amounted to little more than "ditto."

"So I guess this counts as us finally hanging out."

"I guess, yeah." Charlie chuckled nervously.

"It's great that you're a teacher too. Just... one more thing we have in common."

"We have more things in common?"

"Well... " Josh said nervously, going for Charlie's hand. Before Charlie could react by reciprocating or rejecting, a loud clamoring on the sidewalk broke the moment. A black trans girl with braids was running for dear life, pushing passers-by out of her way. Tyler was close behind in hot pursuit.

"LaTrice!" Josh yelled, running after her.

"Tyler!" Charlie yelled, running after him. Before they could catch up to them, Tyler made a flying tackle on LaTrice. As Tyler lay gasping for air in pain, Josh helped LaTrice up and kept her from running. Charlie helped Tyler up and restrained him from lunging at LaTrice in his weakened state.

"What the hell is going on, Tyler?" Charlie asked.

"Charlie, she's one of my attackers!"

Josh held LaTrice tight as she struggled to get away. "LaTrice, is this true?"

"Get the fuck off me Josh, this faggot done lost his mind!"

"You think I'd forget anything about that night? I may be one of your many victims, but I'll never forget you or your friends."

"Bitch you don't know me or my life! Don't even try to... "

"Everyone, just calm down," said Josh.

"What do I do? Should I call the police?" asked Charlie. LaTrice tried to struggle again, but Josh had a firm grip on her hands and shoulders.

"There's a zero tolerance policy at Haven. If a youth is arrested while staying at the shelter, they're blacklisted."

"She'll be out on the street?" Tyler asked.

"Yeah," said Josh. Tyler walked out of Charlie's hold and walked up to LaTrice, looking her dead in the eyes.

"Why'd you do it? Why me?"

"Why not you?" LaTrice spat back. "I needed the money, ok? It ain't that tough to figure out. I was doing the work-study thing Mr. Curtis set up, but that was getting me nowhere. How the hell am I supposed to get money for my estrogen shots on $5 an hour? So when my boo said she needed help to jump a couple guys, that there'd be cash involved, I went for it. You were just... the mark." LaTrice heaved a sigh. "I'm sorry it was you, but it could've been anybody."

"Where are you from?" asked Tyler.

"South Side. That's all you need to know."

"And I wasn't your first attack."

"I does what I has to do. Before Haven."

"But since... ?"

"You were the first one since, ok?"

Tyler turned to Josh. "How long has she been at Haven?"

"Four months, give or take," said Josh. "We're prepping her to get her GED. She's pretty smart when she tries. Or shows up for tutoring sessions." Tyler considered for a moment. "Her dad threw her out when she started transitioning. She was on the street for more than a year before she found Haven."

"That's my business, Josh!"

"My dad threw me out too," said Tyler. "Well in a way. I couldn't be a part of his family if I was gay. So I said fuck off and left."

"We got the same story, we gonna be best friends now?"

"Absolutely," Tyler said firmly. "Because when you get back to Haven, I'm going to watch you like a hawk. You're going to sign up to volunteer during the day, you're going to show up to every tutoring session you're scheduled and as soon as dinner is over, you're going to claim your bed, study, and go to bed. Got me?"

"Who the fuck do you think you are?"

"The guy that's not going to turn you into the police. Unless you keep on the straight and narrow at Haven And I'll be there to make sure you do. Do you get me now?"

LaTrice rolled her eyes. "Yes."

"Good. Josh will you escort my new best friend back to Haven?"

Josh put his arm around LaTrice, walking her back to Haven. He stopped and turned toward Charlie. "So can I see you again?"

"You can see me at Haven," came Charlie's reply. And they were gone. Charlie turned to Tyler. "You amaze me." Tyler released a heavy sigh.

"I almost lost it Charlie. I really almost did." Charlie kissed him on the forehead, proud of his roommate.

"But you didn't. You're a better man than me."

"I'm still so... like pumped with adrenaline. I gotta do something about it."

"I have a couple of ideas how we can fix that," winked Charlie.

Back at home, Charlie finally acquiesced and pulled an Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 tournament with Tyler. He might've let Tyler win a couple of times. But just a little bit.



Steve beamed with pride as they unveiled the marquee above his bar: THE PITSTOP. The rugged, charcoal block lettering against the background of deep burgundy portrayed the exact juxtaposition that he wanted. This bar was going to be for everyone, the place that you went when you didn't feel pretty enough for MiniBar or young enough for Scarlet. It was going to be the bar that you went to and felt at home, but still could have a crazy good time. It didn't matter if you were young or old or fat or thin, all would be welcome. The once dusty storefront on Belmont and Macondray, just west of Halsted and just east of Clark, was finally beginning to take life. And he owned it.

"You are one proud papa bear," Edward grinned, putting a hand lovingly on Steve's shoulder.

"Who you calling a bear?" Steve protested, puffing out his trim and muscular chest.

Edward kissed him on the cheek. "You know what I mean."

"It's gonna be something, Edward."

"Very appropriate name, too. For the time of your life you're in."

"How's that?"

"You've been on this road most of your life, almost positive of where you're going. Then life detours you, derails you. So you take a moment to stop and enjoy it as you start a new path."

"Well, I was just thinking that it's the perfect place to stop on your way to Boystown or on the way home. Maybe stop a while longer and make a night of it. But your fancy-schmancy poetry works too." Steve leaned in for a kiss and Edward playfully chastised him by pushing his face away.

"As long as I'm not just some pit stop on your new path."

"Edward, if we were lesbians, I'd have driven up a U-Haul to you're house by now."

Edward chuckled. "How's that?"

"You're not a pit stop," Steve said, finally getting his kiss. "You're a destination."


The signing over of property was fairly painless. David worked his hardest to make sure that everyone had an equitable deal and as much as Steve and Bruce disliked each other at the moment, they wanted it that way. Twenty years can mean a lot of things, but when it's spelled out for you in black and white, you want to sign on the dotted line with some dignity and grace.

"I hope you'll be happy," Steve said as earnestly as possible.

"I will be, thanks," said Bruce, without malice. His phone vibrated.

"Is that one of your pretty young things," Steve teased, attempting a touch of friendliness.

"I... do you care?"

"You know what? I don't. Be well, Bruce." Steve couldn't help but worry about Bruce, if not with a little self-satisfied righteousness. In many ways Steve was trading up, dating this wonderfully handsome and passionate man who knew what was truly important in life. Bruce would forever be chasing after young twinks, who were surely gorgeous and a great time, and Steve would be lying if he said he weren't a bit envious of that. But Steve would always be THEIR pit stop, the handsome, mature, wealthy gentleman who helped fund their misspent youth before they grew up to the men they were meant to be. And Steve wouldn't trade him places for all the money in the world.


"Hello?" Bruce said, taking his phone to a quiet hallway in David's office.

"I need your help again!"

"What happened now?"

"I just... I can't quite make rent this month. Can you wire some money in my account?"

"I've just made a lucrative real estate investment. I'm not quite sure if I can... "

"Please Daddy. I'll make it worth your while."

"Fine. My place. Right now."

"Yes Daddy."

"Oh and Tristan? Wear those short-shorts and low v-neck I'm so fond of."

Bruce almost detected an exasperated sigh on the other end, but it was a perkier, upbeat voice that answered: "Yes, Daddy." And they hung up.



Hunter always preferred to get to Chicago Comics in the middle of the day to avoid the after work crowd on New Book Wednesday. After a quick perusal of the racks, he brought his stack of books to the counter and took his earbuds off.

"A little light this week," said Hunter's favorite counter guy Ralph, as he rung up the three books.

"There's no new ‘Morning Glories' this week," said Hunter. "And I can't afford to keep up with all the ‘Avengers vs. X-Men' tie-ins. I'm just gonna stick with my main books."

"You're gonna hate ‘X-Factor' this week," Ralph said.

"Meh, unless Rictor and Shatterstar start making out again, I'm just killing time between issues anyway," scoffed Hunter.

"Heard that," came a chuckle of agreement from behind Hunter. He turned to see a cute guy with Buddy Holly glasses and faux-hawked pompadour.

"Hey Scott," said Ralph, grabbing Scott's subscriptions. "You're here earlier than usual."

"Yeah, working from home today," Scott said, perusing his stack as Ralph finished ringing Hunter up. "There's no ‘Morning Glories' this week?!"

Hunter smiled at that. Ralph bagged up Hunter's comics as Hunter settled up and waved him off with a smile. Yet somehow, Hunter wasn't quite ready to go. He watched Scott organize his stack, hand it back to Ralph to hold, and hit the racks for other finds.

"What the fuck are you waiting for?" Ralph whispered loudly. "Go get him!" Hunter nervously approached Scott as he stopped in front of the new "Batwoman."

"Ugh, DC?" Hunter found himself saying out loud. That got Scott's attention and Hunter had an internal facepalm moment.

"What? Sometimes I like my books to be more fantastical and less allegorical. Don't even get me started on what's going on in ‘Avengers vs. X-Men.' It's pissing me off."

Sigh. They spoke the same language. "I was so rooting for the X-Men when it first started."

"Well, yeah! Mutants are inherently the metaphor for being gay." Uber sigh.

"I'm Hunter," Hunter said, extending his hand.

"Scott," Scott said, giving Hunter his card. "Listen, I gotta settle up and get back to work. But if you're free tonight... "

"I'd love... shit. I've got to work tonight."

"Some other time then. What, are you like a server or something?"

"Or something."


Tonight was especially crazy. That's it what seemed to Hunter at least. As summer starts to die down, the bars are either flooded with people trying to sneak in their last licks of pre-"back to school" fun or completely dead. Tonight was more the former. The skeezers were especially frisky tonight and Hunter had to remind several of his clientele that "no meant no." This line of work was starting to bother Hunter. Sure, he could make twice as much on a good night as his jean-jockey friends would make in a week. But he wondered if he'd be stuck here forever. Or at least until they dragged his wrinkly old ass out.

The bar was a sea of sweaty men and grabby hands. Hunter waded through with his tray of shots, his ass and crotch prime targets for the grabbing. Hunter often wished that he were ugly; then people might ask him what he thought instead of only being interested in what he looked like. He thought about Scott. He wondered what it would be like to actually on a date with a guy, to just have dinner and talk, maybe have a good night kiss before he retired respectfully up to his apartment alone. He wondered if things would've gone differently with Charlie if he hadn't been a go-go boy. He wondered if he'd ever get out of this place.

Steve was sitting at the end of the bar as he came up with the tray. "Hey handsome, how's my favorite landlord doing?"

"Oh you got more than one?" Hunter pecked him on the cheek and offered him a shot. "Please get that sugar water away from me."

Carlos (a.k.a. Axel) took the tray from Hunter; it was Hunter's turn on stage. Here's where Hunter made bank, especially on a night like tonight. He worked best when he just closed his eyes and focused on the beats, feeling the beats of the music thumping inside of him. If he felt a hand on his body, he'd open his eyes, make them want him. When he first started dancing, he convinced himself that he was like Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman." Years later... he felt more like the hooker best friend she left behind. No one ever wondered what happened to her. Hunter was beginning to understand why.

Hunter was on fire tonight. Guys were lining up with bills, tucking them in his underwear. He did a little tease for them and pulled the outer layer off, revealing a jockstrap that bunched up his junk all the way to the front of the pouch. He knelt down to kiss a patron on the cheek who was waving a twenty at him. And as he rose up, looking out into the crowd of his admirers, he saw him: Scott. Scott looked at Hunter for a minute, shook his head, and made his way to the exit.

Hunter jumped off the stage and fought his way through the crowd and out the door, but it was too late: Scott was gone. People on the street hooted and catcalled as Hunter just stood out on the street in his jockstrap. Steve ran up right behind him and put his arm and his shoulder. Hunter immediately fell into his arms and began to weep. He could take complete strangers telling him he was a piece of shit; it was something else entirely when he could look at someone he liked and saw it in their eyes.

"Who was he?" asked Steve.

"Just some guy," Hunter sniffled.

"Sure doesn't seem it. Are you happy working here?" Hunter's silence was all the reply Steve needed. "You have way too much potential for this place. You really do."

"You think so?"

"I'm about to open a bar. What do you know about slinging drinks?"


Charlie poured himself a cup of coffee as the bacon sizzled in the frying pan. Hunter came out of his room, half asleep, in his gym shorts.

"Hey, you're usually just getting in. Slow night at work?

"Do you remember the movie ‘Pretty Woman'?"

"Hunter, I'm a gay man pushing thirty. Of course I remember the movie ‘Pretty Woman'."

"Do you remember Julia Roberts' friend? The down and out hooker?"

"Kit De Luca? Sure. Why?"

Hunter checked his phone. Scott hadn't responded to his text. He probably never would.

"Do you ever wonder what happened to her? Did she stay a hooker?"

"Of course not," Charlie said, pouring Hunter a cup of coffee. "Julia Roberts gave her the three thousand she'd earn that week. Told her to start fresh, she had potential. She totally got a second chance."

"Potential," Hunter chuckled to himself, sipping his coffee.

"Why, did someone give you three thousand dollars last night or something?"

"Or something," Hunter smiled.



Tyler came out of his room wearing a faded Pokemon t-shirt from Urban Outfitters, cargo shorts and a pair of slightly worn Converse low-tops. Charlie shook his head.

"What?" Tyler asked, completely mortified.

"That's what you're wearing? You look like you're going out to recess."

"But I'm comfortable!"

"Yeah, but on a first date, you gotta dress to impress. Come on." Charlie dragged him into his room and quickly made him over in a sweater and shirt set worthy of a J. Crew catalog.

"Charlie, it's like eighty degrees outside! I'll be drenched in sweat."

"But you look perfect!" The front door opened and shut: Hunter was home from the gym.

"Hey ladies," he said, peeking into Charlie's open doorway. "What you doin'?"

"Charlie's playing fairy godmother," Tyler scoffed, loosening his collar.

"Oh shit, it's date night isn't it? Well dude, you're not gonna get laid looking like that."

"Who said anything about getting laid? It's just a date!"

"Well sure, you don't have to go home with him or anything. But you gotta make him want it a little bit. Come on." And it was off to Hunter's room, where Tyler was transformed yet again, this time emerging in a tight black v-neck, dark skinny jeans, and motorcycle boots.

"I feel like I'm wearing a costume," Tyler said, barely able to walk in the tight, tight jeans.

"You do look a little emo-Greased Lightning," said Charlie. Tyler and Hunter had an anime "blink-blink" moment and Charlie felt gayer than gay for the random musical theatre reference.

"Well, where you guys going?" asked Hunter. "That'll help us figure out what you should wear."

"Um, I dunno. We were just gonna play it by ear."

"You guys didn't plan anything?!" You could've knocked Charlie over with a feather.

"Gimme a break, I've never done this before!"

"What, like ever?" Hunter laughed. Tyler's embarrassed silence turned Hunter's joking jab into an awkward reality. Hunter and Charlie quickly made with disjointed rapid fire pep talks to boost him up.

"It's gonna be great! You'll be great!"

"Just don't tell him you're such a newbie yet."

"Or how much you hate your job."

"Or how it's your first date ever."

"Or that your roommate is a go-go boy."

"EX-go-go boy!"

"Or the video game thing."

"Guys! I'm already nervous enough as it is. Can you just... "

"Sorry. But trust me, I've been playing at this game a LONG time. The first date is everything!" All the color went from Tyler's face. Charlie reached into his wallet and pulled out his credit card. "Here, take him to Yoshi's, my treat. I want this to go well for you."

"What's... ?"

"Some bougie French-Japanese place," Hunter said.

"That's so not my thing," said Tyler.

"Trust me," said Charlie. "Now, what time is he coming to get you?"

"I'm supposed to meet him at the Belmont stop at six and we're going from there."

"Um, Tyler? It's six-thirty."


Andy checked his phone one last time before he decided to hop back on the train. As he pulled his CTA card out, he heard someone call his name. A cab pulled up and he could swear there were two guys in the back seat pushing Tyler out the door before it sped away.

"Andy! I am so sorry."

"It's cool dude. But you could've texted me you were gonna be late."

"Yeah, sorry roommate stuff. It's a... long story."

"So, you ready for where the night will take us?"

"Actually, I had a couple of ideas... "


Andy was way underdressed for Yoshi's. The food seemed overpriced and they didn't have very many vegetarian options. Tyler was still adorable, but the clothes he was wearing didn't seem to fit him right nor did it match the sweet personality of the guy that he'd been texting the past couple of weeks. In fact, Tyler looked more comfortable in his ill-fitting clothes than he did in his own skin. There was something the way his conversation flowed, how he paused before he said anything, how he looked at his hands as if the answers were written somewhere. Still, he'd give the guy the benefit of the doubt. Plus, there was something sexy about the healing black eye.

When Tyler pulled out his card to pay for dinner, Andy couldn't help but notice that the card read "Charles Parker" as he put it down. Either he'd stolen the card (which was highly unlikely) or he was trying way too hard to impress him. Not knowing whether to be flattered or annoyed, Andy decided to call it a night as they left the restaurant.

"Wait!" said Tyler, somehow remaining adorable in his panic. "Um... there's the thing! The thing I had planned!"

"The thing? What is the... ?"

"It's gonna be SO cool! It's, like WOW! You're not gonna believe how cool it is. You're gonna be all ‘Man, I'm glad I stayed and hung out with Tyler some more, because that thing was SO cool' and... ?"

Ok, that got Andy to smile. "How about we just find some random bar and grab a drink?"

Tyler heaved a sigh of relief. "That works too."

After their third round of beers at Avenue Tavern, Tyler started to loosen up. They were sitting on the patio and Andy rolled a cigarette and smoked it, enjoying the warm late summer night. It was getting way too hot for Tyler however, so he unbuttoned a bit of the shirt that Charlie lent him.

"Pikachu, I choose you!" Andy called out, pointing at the Pokemon shirt peeking underneath the button down.

"Dude, you like Pokemon?!"

"Duh, it was like my whole childhood!" They spent the better part of the next hour comparing the pros and cons of the different pocket monsters when Tyler blurted out:

"And Ash was so cute! I always wanted to marry him when I grew up."

Andy kissed him.

"See that's the guy I wanted to go on a date with. Can he stay and play a little bit longer?"

"Yeah," Tyler blushed. And just like that, Tyler was just himself the rest of the night.



Nothing created more buzz in Boystown than a new bar opening. The line for The Pitstop went down Belmont and wrapped around Halsted in front of Spin. There was something great about being able to walk past the velvet rope and getting VIP treatment. Charlie and Tyler felt like celebrities as they approached the door guy, gave him their names, and the velvet rope lifted for them. Edward was right by the entrance and greeted them both with a hug and a kiss.

"It's madness outside!" Charlie said. "Everyone's so excited to get in. Where's Steve?"

"Out back, pacing and chain smoking."

"Shouldn't you be playing supportive boyfriend right now?"

"Baby, if I was any more supportive, I'd be a jockstrap."

Hunter stepped out into the alley, armed with a bottle of Jack. He could swear Steve was trembling as he lit yet another Marlboro Red 100.

"Hey Boss, want some medicine?" Steve ripped the bottle out of his hand and took a large swig. "I didn't know you smoked."

"Tonight," said Steve, taking a long drag. "Just tonight."

Tristan never waited in lines and this one was making him especially itchy. The people in line were such a mixed bag, he didn't know what sort of scene this bar was gonna be. The hipsters were mixing with the jocks; the pretty twinks were mixing with the scruffy bears. Tristan didn't know who he was supposed to be tonight.

"Lines are SO boring!" whined Jaison. "When are they gonna let us in?"

"They're doing some stupid VIP pre-event," said Efrain.

"Well, well, and our rising socialite couldn't get us into that?" Braden said, shooting Tristan a sideways glance. Tristan rolled his eyes and shifted weight in his hips. He saw Bryan and Chadwick (sans the other A-Gays) giving their names to the door guy.

"Hold my place," he told his Bitches, running up to the door. Bryan and Chadwick paused a moment before they smirked smugly at Tristan.

"What were you doing in line?" Bryan asked coyly.

"The door guy couldn't find my name on the list," said Tristan.

"That's because it's not ON the list," said the surly door guy.

"ANYway, how bout I come in with you guys?"

"You don't get in if you're not on the list," reiterated the door guy, opening the door for Chadwick and Bryan.

"Sorry, Tristan," shrugged Chadwick. "You should get back to your place in line."


"Who's that?" asked Tyler, pointing at a larger-than-life drag queen, holding an umbrella.

"That's Miss Foozie. She calls everyone... "

"PINEAPPLE!" Miss Foozie burst out, running over and giving Charlie a big sloppy kiss on the cheek. "You never visit me anymore!"

"School's about to start and I'm prepping curriculums for that and Haven."

"Oh you're giving back to the community, that's so SWEET!" She pulled an aside to Tyler. "I try to give back as much as I can." A tall and dapper strawberry blonde gentleman approached them.

"Well, well, who are these handsome gentlemen you've found?"

"I'm Tyler," Tyler smiled, offering his hand.

"Pineapple, this is Bill, the Mayor of Boystown. He's the only person you'll ever need to know in this ‘burgh."

Tyler turned to Charlie. "Boystown has a mayor?" A photographer stopped in front of them and they all posed for a picture.

"And now your cherry's popped," Charlie told Tyler as Miss Foozie and Mr. Mayor gracefully excused themselves to mingle.

"What?!" asked Tyler.

"Your picture is going to be posted in the gay rags. Boystown rite of passage." They toasted beers. "Welcome to the gayborhood."


The post-VIP event crowd was lively and ruckus. Hunter could barely keep up with the demand, yet somehow managed to give each customer a smile and a wink. If every night at The Pitstop were like this, he'd make enough for his first semester of college in no time. As he gave an extra cute patron a kiss on the cheek with his vodka tonic, he looked up behind him and saw Buddy Holly glasses and a pompadour fauxhawk.

"Hey Scott," Hunter said, trying to be chill.

"Oh. Hey man. Um, can I get a beer?"

"Sure," he said, then poured two shots of Jameson, giving one to Scott.

"What's this for?"

"Cuz I'm awesome." Hunter said, toasting and shooting with Scott. "And I believe in second chances."


Tyler came back with a second round of drinks and Andy was being sullen.

"What's wrong, dude?"

Andy scowled as he got bumped into from all directions. "Can we... look we need to talk. Can we get out of here?"

Tyler was new to this, but he knew those were words you didn't want to hear, especially this early on.


Steve was making the rounds, full of pride and joy. Everyone seemed so happy to be there. He approached a cute, trendy twenty-something.

"Having a good time?"

"Yeah," said trendy twenty-something. "This place is too cute!"

"Glad to hear it. I'm Steve, the owner."

"Oh!" cooed trendy twenty-something, batting his eyelashes and extending his hand. "I'm Tristan."


The perks of being at the VIP event: open bar. The perk that Hunter was the bartender: open bar for Charlie continues throughout the night. He was drunk off his ass, having the time of his life, bouncing around the side room dance floor. Random guys were grinding on him. He didn't care. He saw Josh come in with his lame boyfriend. He didn't care. Someone grabbed him firmly and turned him around. Charlie was face to face with the bluest eyes he'd ever seen: He Who Shall Not Be Named. Before he could even open his mouth to say anything, Charlie pushed him off, his blood running cold as he fought his way through the crowd. He made it out the door, out into the crosswalk and looked back to see if He Who Shall Not Be Named had followed.

He never saw the car that hit him.


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