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

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10-14 Recap (Volume 2)

An artist struggles, a sushi date, and second chances in week 3 of BOYSTOWN Volume 2. Volume 3 launches October 8!

10-14 Recap (Volume 2)
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An artist struggles, a sushi date, and second chances in week 3 of BOYSTOWN Volume 2. Volume 3 launches October 8!


The phone ringing echoed in Tyler's ear, filling him with dread and anticipation.

Another ring.

And another.



"Oh my gosh, Tyler?" she whispered, hurrying into the next room.

"Yeah, it's me."

"I've been worried sick about you! We haven't heard from you in months."

"I'm ok, momma. I'm in Chicago."

"Come home. I know you and your father have your differences to work out... "

"It's not that simple momma."

"But I miss you!"

Tyler started to tear up. "I miss you too, momma."

"Eileen, who is that?" Tyler heard his father call from the other room.

"It's no one," she said. Tyler could hear his dad wrestle the phone out of his mother's hand.

"Who is this?" his father growled.

"Dad... it's me. Tyler."

Tyler's dad hung up.


Hunter found Tyler sitting outside of Charlie's room when he got to the hospital after work.

"Hey dude, how's he doing?"

"He's sleeping. His parents are in there with the doctor."

"It's late, dude. Why are you still here?"

"I just... didn't want to be alone."

Hunter said down next to him. "You ok, man?"

"Yeah. Just... Hunter, how's your relationship with your family."

"It's... complicated."


"My parents don't speak to me. My brother and I are on the outs. So really, it's just me."

"Doesn't that get lonely? Not having a family you can count on?"

"Sometimes, you gotta make your own family." Hunter said, putting his arm around Tyler.

"Yeah," said Tyler, leaning his head on Hunter's shoulder. They sat like this for a moment, enjoying a quiet and peace-filled moment that they hadn't experienced in weeks. Charlie's parents came out of the room with his doctor.

"How is he Mrs. Parker?" Hunter asked.

"The doctors want to keep him for another day of observation, but he should be good to go home after that," said Mary.

"That's great," Hunter said.

"We'll stay an extra day or two, but you'll look after him, won't you dear?"

"Of course," said Hunter.

Mary smiled. "I knew you would."

"C'mon Mary," Richard said. "Let's get some sleep." They weakly waved goodbye to Hunter and Tyler and left for their hotel. Tyler remembered what Mary had intuited about Hunter and Charlie.

"Hey, are you and Charlie... ?"


"Have you ever... ?"

Hunter smiled. "Maybe. It's... it's complicated."

"Ok," said Tyler, secretly jealous. He'd had crushes on both of them ever since he moved in. Hunter mussed his hair and kissed the top of his head.

"You ready to get back to the apartment?"

"Yeah," said Tyler. "Let's go home."



Andy hated bailing on Tyler at the last minute, but he just had to get this painting done for his portfolio. He lit a joint, poured a cup from his French press, and set out in front of his blank canvas. He stared at it, conceptualizing the shapes and hues upon it. He picked up his brush and brought it to the canvas.

And nothing happened.

He looked out his window, watched the train go by, something so mundane and everyday. He tried to find the beauty and nuance of it, tried to make this routine occurrence resplendent.

And nothing happened.

He stared into the white abyss of the canvas. He begged for it to speak to him in some way, any way. It said nothing. Frustrated, he threw his brush across the room and began to pace. This was supposed to have been his summer of creation, his season of brilliance. But as the air turned crisp with September's arrival, his studio living space had nothing to show for it. How could something that usually came to him so easily, that was sixth sense, a second nature... how could it have left him so abruptly and so empty?

There had to be a common denominator. He lit another joint and looked through his portfolio. With each page turned, there was a painting full of angst, full of pain and beauty. His work showed a broken heart, of unrequited love never fulfilled, of love cut too short, of men who never appreciated the honor of having ownership of an artist's heart. With each love lost, with each heart broken, the brush met canvas and painful splendor was created. And currently... he was devoid of muse.

Andy called Tyler to see if he was still up for hanging out.


Thankfully the patio of Pick Me Up Café was still open, so Andy could smoke a cigarette, careful to keep it hidden from the waitress. Tyler made a face.

"What's wrong?" Andy asked.

"I just don't want to get in trouble."

"It's just a cigarette, Tyler. It's easily put out."

"Also, it's blowing downwind and in my face."

Andy groaned and put it out. He took out his moleskin and tapped his pen at it impatiently. Still, nothing.

"I'm glad you could hang out after all," said Tyler. "But aren't you gonna be behind? I know you wanted to start submitting your portfolio to grad schools."

"Yeah, well... nothing was coming. So."

"How do you mean?"

"That's the stupid thing about inspiration: you can't just will it to come. It can't be scheduled or planned ahead of time, it just has to happen."

"Sure," Tyler said, still not fully grasping. He motioned for Andy's moleskin. "Mind if I have a look?"

Andy was reluctant at first: so many times he'd won a guy over by showing him his art. He wanted to try, just this once, to date someone who didn't know that side of him. So that he'd be sure that Tyler was dating him because of who he was as a person, not as an artist. But they'd been dating for a couple of weeks now, so he relented. Tyler skimmed through some pages, looking thoughtful as he paused on each sketch.

"Neat," Tyler said.

Neat? That's it? Andy was so used to people being overwhelmed by his work, he never considered the other extreme.

"So you like my stuff?"

"Sure. It's like... yeah, it's good."

"Well... what do you like about it?"

"Um... I like the shapes?"

"Are you asking me?"

"No. The shapes. I like the shapes. And the... it's really, REALLY good."

Andy didn't know what to do with that. "Hey, um, listen, I should get going. I think I've got something. Should get on it before I lose it."

Tyler beamed. "Whoa, did I inspire you?"

"Sure," said Andy.


The train going by blocked the view of the setting sun outside of Andy's window for a moment. He poured himself a Jameson neat and sat in front of the blank canvas again. He thought of the stupid emo angst of his teen years that yielded the black and red work that got him into the School at the Art Institute. He thought of his first love that was a little too distant that yielded the red and purple mixed media piece called "Pushed." He thought of the obsessive summer in Italy with Giuseppe, filled with intense passion that yielded the grey and white oil painting called "Drained." He thought of Tyler. And the canvas remained blank.



Charlie was all hugged and kissed out as he and Eddy waved goodbye to their parents as they got in a cab to O'Hare.

"You'd think the last place they'd want to go for dinner after a week in Beijing would be Chinatown," said Eddy, placing the leftover dim sum in the fridge.

"Nom, nom, nom," said Charlie, munching on a sesame ball with red bean paste.

Eddy crashed on the couch and turned on the TV. "I am MSG'd out." Charlie plopped down next to her.

"I could use a drink."

Eddy looked at him, concerned. "Are you sure that's such a good idea? You JUST got out of the hospital." Charlie pulled the same pouty face he'd used since he was a kid.

"Just one?"

"You sure you ready?"

"Ed, I was in a coma for a week. I almost died. I may not be a hundred percent, but I'm back. So let's go out and live a little life." Charlie pulled her off the couch and they headed to Roscoe's.


"I'm starting to feel woozy," said Charlie after his second shot of Jameson. He closed his eyes for a second and swooned, gripping the bar before he fell. Eddy immediately caught him around her shoulder.

"Alright, we're going home."

"Just kidding sis, geez!" Charlie said, bursting out into laughter. He stood up fully. "See look! No hands!" She shoved him.

"I should know better. There's no such thing as ‘one drink' with you." A hot read head in a slinky red dress came up, trying to sidle up between Charlie and Eddy.

"Hey," said hot red head Megan Fox-lookalike.

"Hey," Eddy flirted back.

"It's been a while. Why haven't you called me?"

Charlie saw immediately that Eddy didn't know who the fuck this chick was. "Hi," he said, offering his hand. "I'm Charlie, Eddy's brother."

"Dawn," said hot red head.

"I guess I'm to blame for Eddy being M.I.A. I've been sort of in a coma for a week."

"Right," said Dawn. "You know, if you didn't want to see me again, you could've just said so. Seriously? Getting this guy to make up some shit about a coma?"

"Whatever," said Eddy. Dawn scoffed incredulously and left.

"Ok seriously, I'm in the hospital for how long and you're already hooking up?"

"Weren't you the one that just said we've got a lot of livin' to do?"

"Yeah... "

"So go live it. I'm putting you on a curfew. Ten more minutes, then you're in bed resting. Go find some random boy to make out with."

Charlie hated whenever Eddy put him on a challenge. The fire of sibling rivalry never burns out, no matter how old you are. He a lap around the front bar then started to make his way to the dance floor. In the dimly lit back bar, he saw Tall Dark And Handsome getting a drink. Six minutes remaining.

"Hi," said Charlie.

"Hey," said Tall Dark And Handsome, his gaze averted to the Cute Blonde behind Charlie. Charlie stepped up to the plate once again.

"My name is... "

"Listen. I'm sure you're a nice guy and all, it's just... I'm not into Asians."

Charlie was taken aback. He had barely gotten five words out before this asshat rejected him. Tall Dark And Handsome brushed past him, hot in pursuit of Cute Blonde who had disappeared on the way to the front bar. Charlie stood aghast. Ironically, he was in the part of the bar right by the dance floor which he'd dubbed Chinatown with Tristan one night, for its magnetic draw to the packs of Asian gays. Maybe it's because he didn't have any other Asian American friends, but he had never identified with them. He always saw them as a bit to femme and FOBish for his own taste.

So there he was, feeling like an ass for judging them so instantly and harshly as he just was by this random guy. Charlie loved the diversity of his friends, he really did. He prided himself on being completely open to all cultures and having friends that represented that. So this snap judgment he'd made on a group of people felt even worse. Perhaps he was secretly jealous that they all found a kindred spirit with each other based on an aspect of his identity he rarely gave a second thought to. He approached a group of them, maybe to make friends, maybe his own self-racist redemption. They looked at him oddly, clucking to each other in a language he didn't understand, wrapping their arms protectively of their AARP candidate white boyfriends. He rolled his eyes and went to find Eddy.

"Come on," he said, dragging her off of some hot black chick with dreads that she was making out with. On the way out, they passed Tall Dark And Handsome trying to make time with an obviously bored Cute Blonde.

"That was quick," Eddy said as they went out the door. "Was it a successful mission?" Charlie shook his head, annoyed at the evening. He felt a shoulder grab him, turn him around and kiss him. When he opened his eyes, he saw Cute Blonde looking back at the other side of the kiss.

"Hey," said Cute Blonde.

"Hey," said Charlie. Cute Blonde pulled out a business card as Tall Dark And Handsome sprinted out the door, looking for his prey and finding him in front of Charlie.

"You were on your way out and I have to get back to my friends but... call me?" He kissed Charlie once more before heading back inside.

"And that is time," said Eddy, checking her phone. "Well played lil bro."

Charlie hugged his sister and kissed her on the cheek. As they started walking off, Charlie could hear Cute Blonde tell Tall Dark And Handsome, "Sorry man, you're just not my type," as they went back into Roscoe's. He smiled the whole walk home.



Hunter found Steve in the alley after looking for him everywhere. He was pacing and taking long drags off of a cigarette.

"Everything alright, Boss?" Hunter asked, warily.

"Fine," Steve said quickly, stamping out his cigarette. "Everything's fine. We ready to open?"

"Everything's not fine. What's up?"

"It's just, these past couple of weeks are not I projected. We're starting to lose money. Hardly anybody comes in any more... "

"That's just how the service industry is, Boss. Right after summer, everyone focuses in a little more and start going out less. You can't let that scare ya off now or you're gonna be fucked by January."

"But we started so strong!"

"And it'll keep getting better. It's not that bad. Let me look at the numbers with you tomorrow and maybe we can come up with some specials or promotions."

Steve gave him a grateful kiss on the cheek. "I was right: you do have so much potential."


LaTrice was not backing down on the door guy.

"I told you, that is my real ID and you best be giving it back!" LaTrice said, trying not to get too ignorant.

"LaLa, come on," said Travell. "Let's just go."

"No, this brother is trippin'!" LaTrice returned her attention to the doorman. "Look, I understand you have a job to do or whatever, but we are close personal friends with the owners."

"No, I am the one who is close and personal with the owner," said Edward, coming up behind LaTrice and Travell from out of nowhere. "These are just a couple of my kids, Bruno, who seem to disregard the curfew at Haven."

Bruno the door guy opened the door for Edward. "Are they at least twenty-one , Mr. Curtis?"

"No," said Edward. "They most certainly are not. Good night you two. Please make it back to the shelter before curfew."

"See the problem with grown folk?" LaTrice called out to Edward, halting him in his tracks. "The trouble with y'all is you forget so easily how hard it is to be young and gay or young and trans. There ain't nowhere for us to go!"

"What LaTrice means, Mr. Curtis," Travell attempted to clarify. "Is that while we're blessed and grateful for everything you do for us at Haven, it's hard to be sociable with the sorts of people we should be meeting to better our lives when we're stuck with the same folks we see everyday at Haven."

"Plus it ain't cute and ain't nobody there pretty enough for ME!" LaTrice added.

Edward gave them both five-dollars. "Go, to Pick Me Up or Jamba or whatever. Buy yourselves a proper drink (as befits your age) get it TO GO and get to Haven before curfew. I promise, we will have this discussion with you both tomorrow." Bruno opened the door for him again. Edward turned back to them as he went in, calling out: "I was young once too. But least y'all don't have to deal with segregation."

"Don't we?" asked LaTrice.


"Hi," Tristan said, leaning against the bar.

"Hey dude," said Hunter. "What can I get ya?"

"Vodka cranberry." As Hunter began to make it, Tristan asked: "Is Steve around?"

"Um, yeah, but he's busy."

"Well... I mean, can you just tell him that I'm here?"

Hunter picked up the phone and dialed back to the office. "Steve, Charlie's friend Tristan is asking for you. Uh huh. Uh Huh. ‘Kay." Hunter hung up. "He's busy."

"Are you sure? Maybe if you told him how cute I looked... ?"

Hunter put the drink in front of Tristan. "I'm sure. That'll be six dollars"

Tristan was appalled. Was he actually expected to pay for this drink? Tristan leaned closer, "Maybe we can work out an ongoing arrangement... " he whispered in Hunter's ear seductively. Hunter pushed him back gently.

"Six. Dollars."

Tristan rolled his eyes, slammed down the cash and grabbed his drink. Tristan bumped into Scott as he walked up to the bar.

"Hey," said Scott.

"Um... hey... " said Hunter.

"So... " said Scott. "What was that thing you said about second chances?"



Charlie rushed into the crowded Wakemono and found Tim at the sushi bar.

"I am so sorry I'm late," Charlie said.

"It's all good," said Tim, putting his phone down, looking even cuter in the restaurant than he did when he kissed Charlie on the street in front of Roscoe's on his first night out. "Sorry it was full, so it had to be the sushi bar."

"No that's ok. It works." Charlie sat down and ordered a Sapporo when the waitress came by.

"So how's the strike going?" asked Tim.

"Strike?" asked Charlie, picking at the edamame.

"You're a teacher right? I mean, that's what you texted. For CPS?"

"Right. Well, um, I've been sort of out of commission, so... "

"Oh right. Coma?"

"Yeah. Not too glamourous, eh?"

"What can you do?" Tim laughed.

They talked about their work over edamame and a couple rounds of Sapporo. Tim's talk of a semester in Beijing and the westernization of Asian gave Charlie pause. He let the third round of Saporro put him at ease but the summation of Tim's doctorate in Asian Studies made Charlie worry even more. At another part of the restaurant, Charlie heard the distinct cicada sound of Grindr. He turned and saw a cute Asian American guy sitting by himself, doodling on a napkin, and checking his phone. He smiled, having done it himself when chilling by himself. He turned back to Tim, who he caught gazing at him.

"Fucking Grindr, huh?' Charlie laughed, hoping that this would detract the path of discussion from anything Asian.

"Yeah," Tim laughed sheepishly. Charlie heard it again but realized it was much closer this time. This time, it was coming from Tim's pocket. Tim tried to play it off but he couldn't suppress the sheepishness in his smile.

"Omihod," said Charlie. "Are you seriously Grinding that other Asian guy while you're on a date with me?"

"You were late. I was killing time." Tim shrugged.

"Or coming up with Plan B!"


Charlie found Eddy at The Pitstop chatting some cute brunette up over cosmos.

"Don't you have another life in another city to get back to?" he asked with brotherly snark.

"I've got some meetings for prospective business here," Eddy replied, brushing her cheek against the cute brunette. "Which means I can have some fun while I'm here, right cutie?" The brunette giggled. Charlie rolled his eyes.

"How do you do that? How is it so easy for you?"

Eddy finished her drink and glared at Charlie. "Hey cutie, do you mind getting us a refill?" she asked the brunette sweetly, never taking her glare off of Charlie.

"Sure," said cute brunette and went up to the bar.

"Alright, what happened?"

"Nothing. "He was just Grinding another Asian guy right in front of me."


"He turned out to be a total rice queen."

"Is that so bad?"

"How do you like being fetishized?"

"As long as it gets me laid, right?"

"And seriously... how do you do THAT? At what point in our adult lives did we pull this bizarre freaky Friday? I'm the gay guy and you're the lesbo. How can you just sleep with whomever and not even like care about it?"

"Really? You care about every trick? Every single one of them?"

Charlie sipped at the remnants of cute brunette's drink and sat down. "In my own way."

"Oh yeah, how about that one?" she said, motioning subtly to Hunter working bar. "Cuz he sure cares a fuck load about you. You're just too neurotic and self-absorbed to see it."

"Yeah, I guess, but it's complicated... "

"It's not that fuckin' complicated. Here's a guy who was with you almost every moment when you were in the hospital. He cares about you. So stop obsessing over exes that don't deserve you and these random guys with boyfriends. Charlie, take a fuckin' chance. Try liking someone who actually likes you back."

Charlie hated it when Eddy was right. He got up and hoped that he'd grow a pair between the table and the bar. Cute brunette was on her way back with drinks as Charlie sidled up to the bar. Face to face with Hunter.


"Hey Charlie, good to see you up. Can you do a shot or is that against doctor's orders?"

"Sure." Charlie watched as Hunter poured, allowing himself for the first time to see everything good about him. Hunter's kind eyes, his adorable smile. How annoyed he could be at Charlie or Tyler one minute and going to bat, kicking ass in their name in the next. Maybe the go-go boy thing scared him off at first but standing before him was a man who'd been there for him when no one else was, who just happened to be devastatingly handsome and kind. What the fuck was his problem?

"To your speedy recovery," Hunter said, putting down shots for the both of them. They both pounded them and Hunter poured them a beer chaser.

"Hey, um, Hunter. Can we talk?"

"Sure dude. It's not like I'm going anywhere."

Charlie took a breath. "Listen, I've been thinking about... " Out of nowhere, Scott ran up to the bar, knocking Charlie aside, and kissed Hunter on the cheek.

"Hey handsome," said Scott.

"Hey cutie," said Hunter.

"Still up for hanging out after your shift?"

"For sure!"

"Cool, I'll be back around two then." And he was gone. Hunter was grinning like a damn schoolboy, there was no hiding it. Hunter realized he was that the beer was spilling and stopped the tap.

"Shit," he said, licking beer off his fingers. Having snapped out of it, he turned to Charlie. "Sorry, what were you saying?"


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