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

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6-9 Recap (Volume 2)

A near death experience, a gala with the A-Gays, and an almost ass-kicking in week 2 of BOYSOWN Volume 2. Volume 3 launches on October 8!

6-9 Recap (Volume 2)
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A near death experience, a gala with the A-Gays, and an almost ass-kicking in week 2 of BOYSOWN Volume 2. Volume 3 launches on October 8!


There was a long beep.

There was a jolt.

There was a long beep.

There was a jolt.

And then... there was an empty bar.

Charlie felt light, like he'd been moving in slow motion his whole life but was finally catching up to himself. He walked up to the bar, sat on a stool, and waited. Out of nowhere, a shaggy and scruffy Wicker Park type in his early thirties appeared behind the bar. His dark features and olive skin reminded him of someone he'd met before. Or known his whole life and had just forgotten. He poured Charlie a glass of water.

"Can I get you something stronger than water? It's on me."

Charlie smiled. "How about some pinot grigio."

"Sorry," he smiled back, shrugging sheepishly. "All I've got is red."

"That's fine," Charlie said as the Bartender replaced the glass of water with a glass of wine. "Thanks, um... "

"Call me Jay. It's easier that way."

"Thanks Jay."

Charlie sipped his wine quietly, mindful that Jay was nonchalantly watching him the whole time.

"Wanna talk about it?" Jay asked after an eternity that lasted a second.

"What's there to talk about?" Charlie asked, finishing his wine in one gulp. "I fucked up."

"Well, lucky for you, it's an open bar," Jay said, pouring him another glass. "And I've got some time to listen."

"I... nah, if it's all the same to you, I'd like to just sit here and forget my troubles for a while."

"No problem. Mind if I turn on the game?" Charlie shook his head. Jay clicked on the ancient black and white TV. Jay half watched the game, half doodled on a cocktail napkin. Charlie let his eyes wander up to the screen between sips of wine. Between snow and static, there were moments that looked familiar to him, like from a story his mother would've read to him before he learned what language was:

A seven-year-old boy at recess getting an awkward kiss from his best friend Billy.

A mother consoling her teenage son after he confiding about his first broken heart, coming out of the closet to her as an after -thought.

A man saying, "I love you" for the first time and learning the eternity of waiting to hear it back.

The overwhelming shadow of fear and angst associated with a tattoo.

The promise and potential in a sweet-faced boy that might go forever unrealized.

A man's parents flying back across the world, their hearts full of hopes and prayers.

Those hopes and prayers were echoed by many. By the student who looked up to his teacher more than the teacher realized. By the man sitting alone in a crowded bar, finding comfort for the things left unsaid at the bottom of a pint. By the man at dinner with his boyfriend, hiding the fear and worry of the "what could've been" in his heart. By the flamboyant young man who hid all the sadness for the only person who saw him as worthwhile person in thumping bass of a dance floor. By the sister who learned everything about empathy and compassion from the brother who lay dying.

"Who's winning?" Charlie asked, finishing his wine.

"My money's on the home team," Jay said, refilling his wine glass. The TV filled with static and snow once more and then shut itself off.

"How does it turn out?" Charlie asked, sipping his wine.

"Guess we'll never know."

"But what's the point of watching it if you don't know how it'll turn out?"

"The point isn't to just watch it, Slugger. It's to actually play the game."

"Doesn't seem like a game worth playing, does it?"

"That's always the big question, in the end, isn't it?" Somewhere off in the distance there was faint, long beep, and a jolting tremor. "Closing time," Jay said, taking away Charlie's half drunk glass. "You don't have to go home... "

"... but I can't stay here. I remember the 90's, thanks."

"Always with the funny," Jay said, winking at him. "It was always my favorite thing about you."

Charlie got up and realized he didn't know where he was meant to go. Jay smiled and walked to the back door, opening it to reveal a warm and white light.

"You can come with me, if you want. But I have a feeling, there's some stuff you should probably get back to."

A door on the other side of Charlie opened. Through that door, was a dim tunnel, blue with dark, the path of which seemed unsure and frightening.

"I want to go home with you. More than anything in the world. But... "

"Either way," Jay said with a smile. "I'm always here for you." Jay folded up the napkin doodle and gave it to Charlie. "And you know how to get a hold of me." Jay walked through the door, enveloped by the white light.

Charlie looked at the folded up napkin doodle. It was the simple outline of a phoenix.

Charlie walked through the door.



Tristan could never figure out the right thing to wear when it was important. Throwing yet another set of checked shirt and striped tie on the growing pile on his floor, he was determined to look flawless. This was going to be the event where he solidified his place with the A-Gays. Just as he pulled another possible combo out of his closet, his phone vibrated. It was a text from Charlie's phone, so it must've been from Charlie's sister Eddy. Tristan read the text and dropped the shirt and tie immediately. He was out the door in seconds, hailing a cab to the hospital.

David was just getting out of a client meeting when he got the text from Charlie's phone. He called Other David immediately to pick him up and drive him to the hospital. Becka and Brad were in the middle of bickering about household cleanliness when they got the text. Steve was on his way to Haven to bring Edward some dinner because he was working late when he got the text. Upon hearing this, Edward asked Josh to hold down the fort while he met Steve at the hospital.

Somewhere in Boystown, a man was in the shower. His boyfriend was dressing in the bedroom, getting ready for a gala. The man's phone rang on the bed and his boyfriend, being the type that he was, picked up the phone. It was a text from Charlie. He was immediately filled with jealousy and suspicion.

"Diego?" called the man from the bathroom, getting out of the shower. "Was that my phone?"

"No babe," Diego lied, deleting the text message. "It was mine."


"We're doing everything we can," the nurse assured them.

"Except telling us what the fuck is going on!" Eddy screamed. Hunter held her back.

"Please," Hunter said, "If you could just tell us something... "

"Bring him back!" Eddy screamed, breaking down into sobs. Hunter held her as Steve, Edward, Tristan, Becka, Brad, and the Davids came rushing in.

"How's he doing?" asked Steve.

"He went into cardiac arrest," said Hunter. "They've been trying to resuscitate him, but we don't know... " Charlie's doctor came out of the ICU. They all braced themselves for the news.

"I'm sorry... " he started. But they didn't hear the rest: that was enough to send them into tears and comforting.


There was a long beep.

A nurse wrote down 6:16PM as the time of death.

The long beep continued.

Another nurse began to bring the sheet over Charlie's face as another began to shut off the life support.

Then... there was a short beep.

And another.

And another.

Charlie opened his eyes. Shadowy figures loomed above him. Voices that seemed like they were on the other side of an echoing hallway said things like "He's clear" and "Impossible." He realized how weighed down he felt all of a sudden, not just by the tubes and wires that were attached to him but by the very act of breathing. The moments before were a blur: the empty bar, the white light, the drawing of the phoenix. The choice. He wasn't sure if it was real or some drug induced dream, but before it all faded away, Charlie made sure to commit that memory to his soul: he had made the choice to come back. Now he couldn't fuck it up.


As the documented next of kin, Eddy and Hunter were allowed to go in for a few minutes to see how he was. Hunter stayed back by the door, letting the actual next of kin talk to him. Eddy pulled up the chair next to the bed and held his hand. Charlie opened his eyes, slightly.

"Hey Ed," he said in a weak voice that reminded her of when he woke up from getting his appendix removed when they were kids. She was strong for him then, the protective big sister. At this moment, she wasn't strong enough to keep the tears from streaming down her cheeks.

"Hey Chuck," she said, kissing his hand. "Don't you ever fucking do that to me again."

"I know. Sorry. I'm such a dumbass."

"Stop it. Nobody blames you. I texted everyone in your phone. There is a waiting room full of people who have been hoping and praying for you to make it... "

"Where's mom and dad?"

"They were at that conference in Beijing. They hopped the first plane back as soon as I got a hold of them."

"You texted everyone? Is... ?"

"No, he's not." Which reminded Eddy that she needed to find a certain ex of Charlie's and kick him in the balls.

"God, I'm such an asshole. Of all the things I could think of... "

"Stop it," Eddy said. "You are surrounded by people who love and care about you. You were dead and now you're not. These are all good things. Fuck everything else."

There was a light knock at the door and Hunter opened it. It was the intern who Hunter recognized as Tyler's crush.

"I'm sorry," said the intern. "Charles needs his rest."

"Fargo," Charlie said, as the hot intern exited. Eddy laughed, kissing him all over his cheeks, wiping the tears from her eyes.

"Bank," she said, getting up to leave. Hunter held the door for Eddy, looking at Charlie wistfully as he began to walk out.

"Hunter... ?" Charlie croaked, in a dry and raspy voice.

"Yeah, dude?"

Charlie looked Hunter dead in the eye and managed a weak smile. "Fuck you too."

Then Charlie fell asleep.



Mason was not having it. All of his friends were already in the ballroom, having drinks, laughing up a storm, and there he was waiting for his escort. He smiled plastically amiable at some of the other event committee members as they walked in, then immediately scowled at his phone when they were out of eyesight, as he angrily texted "WTF? Where are you?!" At that exact moment, Josh came running in, very hastily dressed.

"It's about goddamn time!" whined Mason.

"Sorry," Josh apologized. "I got held up at Haven. Edward had to leave for a family emergency or something."

"Whatever. You should quit that place, they don't even pay you."

"Kind of missing the point of volunteering for a non-profit, babe."

"Well, they certainly don't not pay you enough to leave me here waiting. I've missed almost half the fundraiser."

Josh chose to ignore the grammatical conundrum of his boyfriend's whining. "Why didn't you just go in? All of our friends are in there?"

"Go in to my own event, unescorted?" Mason sounded so affronted, Josh had to stop himself from rolling his eyes.

"Well, I'm here now." Josh said, offering Mason his arm. "Shall we?"

Mason pushed his arm down. "Not with your tie all crooked," he said, quickly straightening it.


Josh was into his third whiskey sour as the charity founder gave his thank you speech.

"Don't tell our boyfriends I said this," said Chadwick, joining Josh at the bar. "But this is the most BORING fundraiser I've ever been to."

"Well, they can't all be AIDS and marriage equality," said Josh, knocking back his drink.

"At least there's lots to dish about."

"Oh god, is there really?" Josh usually hated the "who's fucking who, who's flirting with who" game that his friends were always so fond. It just seem liked so much catty gossip. But Chadwick was right: this event was SO dull, so he acquiesced.

"Well, Tristan's date is sitting over there, sans Tristan."

"Tristan was supposed to be here?"

"Only because of his daddy date. I mean, please, a month salary for him is a night out for us at MiniBar."

"So why is he even here?"

"He bought the tickets. When Bryan checked him in at the door, he recognized the name that Tristan had started dropping. Tragedy at his age, really, getting stood up for a fundraising event. But at least we get a good laugh out of it."

"Omigod, this thing is SO boring!" said Diego as he came up to the bar and ordered a cosmo. "Your boyfriends suck so bad!"

"C'mon guys, it's for charity," said Josh. "Bryan and Mason worked really hard on this committee."

"Speaking of boyfriends," said Chadwick. "Where's yours, Diego?"

"I don't want to talk about it."

"Have a little lover's spat, did we?"

"No, he had to go to the hospital. Someone died or whatever."

"Oh my god," said Josh. "That's terrible. Is it anyone we know?"

"I don't know, it's all over Tristan's Facebook. That's how he saw it. Charlie something or other."

"Charlie Parker?"

"I guess," Diego said, annoyed that secretly deleting the text message from Charlie's phone was in vain.

"Why? Do you know him or something?" Chadwick asked, his mouth watering for the night's next bit of juicy gossip.

Josh checked Tristan's Facebook. His heart sank. "Or something," he said.


"Mind if I sit here for a while," the handsome older gentleman asked.

"Whatever," said Diego, still pouting from being alone as the band began to play.

"You know, someone as young and cute as you shouldn't be so sullen. Even if whoever was stupid enough to let you come here unescorted isn't here to tell you how smashing you look in that suit." That got Diego to smile, just a little bit.

"And why are you here alone?"

"I got stood up. I guess I should be used to that sort of thing from Tristan."

"Oh you know Tristan?"

"I do. I assume that you two are friends?"

Diego offered his hand. "I'm Diego."

"Pleasure to meet you," said the handsome older gentleman, shaking his hand. "My name is Bruce."


Checking Tristan's Facebook for updates, Josh was relieved that Charlie had pulled through. He splashed his face with water in the bathroom sink, wondering how the possible death of a man he'd barely known a month could have shaken him so much. But in his gut... he knew. He had to find a way to excuse himself to get to the hospital, which was not going to be easy as it was Mason's big night. But when you're trying to make it work with someone that you're mostly sure you love, these are the games you play.

Josh felt like he had an airtight excuse of an emergency back at Haven that needed senior staff as he walked back to the table. The band was playing an orchestral version of "Edge of Glory," which Josh was sure was Mason's touch. Mason looked up at Josh with tears in his eyes.

"Did you see what that kid said about how this fundraiser was going to change his life?" Mason asked.

"No, sorry, I was... "

"I did that, babe. I helped. I helped change someone's life." It was moments like this that reminded Josh why he had fallen in love with Mason. He just wished it happened more. He offered up his hand to Mason and led him on the dance floor. Mason held onto him tight, sniffling gently on his shoulder. Josh kissed him on the head lightly, but he was miles away: halfway across town, wondering how Charlie was doing.



Now that their parents had made it, Eddy could take a breather. She lit up a cigarette outside of the emergency room doors, not caring that her parents would give her shit for still smoking. It'd been a hell of a week and she fucking deserved it. She took a long drag, looked up at the moon as it rose, and secretly thanked God for bringing her baby brother back. She exhaled slowly, looking out into the city, and saw the fucker crossing the street. She cut him off before he could even make it to the door

"Where the fuck do you think you're going?"

"Always a pleasure to see you too, Eddy."

"He doesn't want to see you."

"Let's let him decide," he said, trying to push past her. She blocked him even more forcefully.

"You're gonna have to get through me, you dickless fuck."

"I have a right to... "

"You gave up that right a long time ago. No matter how many times he forgave you. If you really cared... "

"I DO care!"

"... IF you really cared, you'd have been here when I texted you. He would've been long dead by now!"

"What text? I didn't get any text!"

"Don't play stupid. How else could you have known?"

"On Tristan's Facebook! I found out on Tristan's FUCKING Facebook!" He took a breath and calmed down. "How is he?"

"He's alive. He's gonna pull through."

"Did he ask about me?"

"No," Eddy lied. "Now do us all a favor. Fuck. Off."


Tyler slipped into Charlie's room quietly.

"Sorry Mrs. Parker, don't mean to interrupt. I just wanted to see how he was doing."

"It's not a problem, sweetheart," said Charlie's mom. "And please, call me Mary." Charlie had fallen asleep again and Mary sat holding his hand. Tyler knew there was nothing that he could do and he should probably just go home. Just the thought of a sudden change for the worse terrified him. Charlie's dad came back with cups of coffee. If Eddy and Charlie got their dark hair, olive skin, and almond eyes from their mother, they got their height and chiseled bone structure from their father.

"Oh, I'm sorry son," Charlie's dad said. "I didn't realize you'd be coming back."

"It's alright, Mr. Parker. I'll only be a minute."

"You can give him mine, Richard. I don't think I'll need it." There was something so effortlessly momish about how Mary offered up the coffee that Tyler felt rude not accepting it.

"I can't tell you how much it means to us to have you and Hunter looking after our boy, Tyler," said Richard.

"It's not a problem, Mr. Parker. He means a lot to both of us."

"Charlie definitely seems to mean a lot to Hunter," said Mary. "I don't mean to pry, I don't want to be THAT mom but... are they... seeing each other?"

"What? No! At least... not that I know of."

"The way he was pacing and watching Charlie after he woke up... I haven't seen someone worry like that since I gave birth to Eddy."

"Yes dear, but that's because I almost lost you."

"Exactly my point, Richard."

"We really aren't THOSE parents," Richard said to Tyler. "We just worry about him. We want him to be happy."

"Oh god, they aren't boring you with horrors from our childhood, are they?" Eddy said as she came in.

"Ah yes, and then there's this one," Mary said. "Edwina, when are you gonna stop screwing around and settle down with some nice girl some day."

"When I do. Jesus, Mom, why don't you bug Charlie about it?"

"She does in fact," Richard said.

"He screws around as much as I do."

"Yes but you just... take such sport in it. At least he's looking for something more."

"Wait a minute," said Tyler. "You actually want Charlie to end up with a boy someday? And Eddy with a girl?"

"Well we don't want them to end up alone, if they could help it," said Richard. "Life's much easier when you've got someone to go through it with."

"It doesn't matter that they're gay?" There was a weird, silent non-reaction to that.

"Why would it?" Mary finally asked, breaking the silence, as if the thought had never occurred to anyone in the family. Tyler didn't answer.

"We love our children, no matter what," said Richard. "We don't take issue to their brown eyes or dark hair, why should anything else about them be an issue?"

"Here we go. They're practicing their campaign speeches for co-presidents of PFLAG," groaned Eddy.

"We DO take issue with snide daughters who slouch."

"And still smoke after they PROMISED that they would quit!"

"And forget to call on birthdays."

Eddy rolled here eyes and looked to Tyler for support. "Parents."

"Right," Tyler said quietly. He excused himself out into the hall for a moment and reflected on what just happened. This is how parents should be. He thought about the fight he had with his father before he stormed out of the house. He thought about his mother crying, begging him to stay. He thought about all the repressed angst from hiding his gayness from his dad and the lifelong animosity it had brought. He hadn't heard from them since he left. Maybe it was him that needed to take the first step.

Tyler picked up his phone and called home.


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