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

Follow us    Twitter Twitter

20-24 Recap (Volume 2)

Lives can change in just one night in week 5 of Volume 2. Volume 3 launches October 8!

20-24 Recap (Volume 2)
Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Digg Gmail Addthis Printer Friendly
Lives can change in just one night in week 5 of Volume 2. Volume 3 launches October 8!


"It doesn't look like it's going well," Charlie said to Hunter as he came out of his room. He knew he shouldn't be looking down on Andy and Tyler's conversation from the apartment window, but he was worried.

"What's up?" asked Hunter, probably the most words Charlie had heard him say all week. He was still wearing the same gym shorts and ratty t-shirt from two days ago. Hunter joined Charlie and watched Tyler approach Andy, trying to embrace him. Andy gently unwrapped Tyler's arms from around him and pushed him gently away.

"It's that boy that Tyler's been seeing. They're ‘talking'."

"Fuck," said Hunter, watching Tyler go in for another embrace and Andy pushing him off a bit more forcefully. Tyler began crying and Andy began pacing, with his hand to his brow. Hunter became enraged at seeing Tyler like this. "I'll kill him."

"Stop," Charlie said, stopping Hunter from going to the front door. "Kicking this kid's ass isn't gonna stop him from breaking up with Tyler."

"It'll sure make us both feel better though."

"What's going on with you? You've been moping around all week, barely leaving your room. Is everything... ?" Tyler came in, his eyes red with crying.

"Hey dude," Hunter said.

"Hey," Tyler sniffed.

"Do you want to talk about it?" asked Charlie.

Tyler wiped his eyes and took a breath. "Do we have anything to drink?"


Charlie uncorked a third bottle of pinot grigio as the three of them sat on the couch, Tyler between them, his head on Hunter's shoulder.

"He said I didn't inspire him," Tyler finally said, pouring himself another glass of wine.

"What a perfect asshat," Hunter said.

"He said things were moving too fast and that he didn't feel what I was feeling for him."

"And what was that?" asked Charlie, stroking Tyler's hair as he sipped his wine.

"I was falling in... "

"Stop. Stop right there." Hunter commanded. "You were not. It's too soon."

"Was it though?" Charlie asked. "Tyler, was he your first... ?"

"He was my first everything."

"I'll kill him," said Hunter.

Charlie realized that Hunter wasn't the best guy to be giving advice or support at the moment. Obviously things had gone south with that hipster guy from the other night. And truthfully, Charlie's own romantic history didn't lend him any credibility either. But he hated to see them both so hurt and he was the only one that could think objectively enough to get them out of this funk. So he turned to his last resort in situations like this.

"All right, that's enough moping. Tyler, without fail, nine times out of ten, your first guy will break your heart. And Hunter, that guy was a douchebag. I could tell even in the two minutes I saw him at The Pitstop. You're both awesome and amazing guys, don't let some idiots who can't figure that out get you down. You can sit around here and sulk and be sad or you can get back on that horse, grab life by the balls, and dance it out with me. What do you say?"

"I dunno... " said Tyler.

"He's right," Hunter said, jumping up. "For once, Charlie's right."

"Thanks?" said Charlie.

"Fuck those guys. We're better than that."

Tyler chugged his glass of wine and jumped up. "All right. Let's go dancing."


They sat in the patio of Roscoe's, passing their third pitcher of Long Island around.

"You guys, this is counter-productive," said Charlie. "We should be in there, living it up. We could be just sitting there at home."

"What if I run into him?" said Tyler.

"Who cares?" said Charlie. "Give him a reason to regret his decision Let's go out there, live it up, dance our asses off, make out with some random!"

"That's your solution to everything," said Hunter.

"Come on guys, let's make this a proper boys night out. Everyone is responsible for talking to at least one new guy. Double points if you make out with him."

"Oh god, if one of you ends up making out with Andy, I'll barf."

"That's in the gay code, Tyler. Thou shalt not hook up with your boys' ex. So to be safe, let's avoid all hipster types."

"Death to all hipsters!" toasted Hunter.

"What about yours?" asked Tyler. "We all know what Andy and Scott look like. Is there someone WE should avoid?"

"There's one," said Charlie. "But he never comes to Roscoe's. In the off chance, I'll point him out."

"Alright boys," said Charlie, chugging his Long Island. "Let's make this count."

A remix of "Somebody That I Used to Know" was waiting for them on the dance floor. Hunter moved naturally to the music, hazard of his former profession to be sure. Tyler was stiff and awkward so Charlie tried loosen him up by grabbing his wait and playfully grinding on him. Hunter grabbed Charlie from behind grinded up on him too. As the beats of the dance remix sped up to the lyrics "but you didn't have to cut me off", they grinded up harder on each other. Hunter's breath tickled Charlie's neck as he leaned his head back against Hunter's sweaty cheek. There was nothing but the beats and the autotune and Hunter's breath on his neck. And Tyler getting hard as he finally found his rhythm grinding up on Charlie's crotch.

Charlie opened his eyes and found Tyler staring at the both of them; in a drunken, animalistic predatory gaze he'd never thought he'd see in him. Hunter matched the look, kept his cheek firmly against Charlie's, but grabbed the back of Tyler's head. The three of them grinded harder on each other, nothing but the beats, and the autotune, and the sweat and each other. Tyler's face leaned in closer to Charlie's as Hunter started to nibble on Charlie's ear. There was nothing but them.

And the guy that bumped into them, spilling his drink on Charlie.

"Excuse me," said the guy with shaggy brown hair, shrugging sheepishly. As he walked away, Charlie realized why he looked familiar.

"Omigod, it's Dr. Fargo!"

"Who?!" asked Hunter and Tyler.

"The hot intern from when I was... "

"Omigod, it is!" said Tyler.

"Man he is so fucking hot!"

"Whatever," said Hunter.

"Are you gonna talk to him?" asked Tyler.

"I dunno, I mean he was my doctor. Sort of. "

"But isn't that the point of why we're here? And what about that story you told me, about not living with regret. That guy, Seabring or whatever?"

"Yeah Charlie," said Hunter. "What are you gonna do?"

In the moments before, Charlie thought it could be the chance to make things right with Hunter. Even with the replay of the threesome shower dream with Tyler, there was just something about that moment that... But Hunter was in rebound mode. Even if they'd only hung out once, something about this hipster guy really did a number on Hunter. This wasn't their moment; it had to be just right.

"Alright," said Charlie. "I might even go for the double point." He headed for the bar, reluctant at first, but realizing it was for the best. Give Hunter some time to get over hipster guy, give them some space. How much damage could be done in one night?


Tyler was lost by himself, but Hunter was so grumpy when Charlie went after Dr. Fargo, that when he suggested they go after their own points, he agreed. Tyler sipped at his drink, lost and alone in a crowded bar. Everyone was coupled or cliqued up, except for this random guy leaning on the wall of the dance floor texting on his phone.

"Hi," said Tyler.

"Hey," said random guy, not looking up for his phone.

"You playing ‘Words With Friends'?" Tyler asked, though as he looked on the phone, he noticed a grid of pictures of guys.

Random guy scoffed. "It's Grindr."


"It's an app. You meet guys off of it."

"Oh. But you're in a bar, full of people. And hey, you can meet me."

Random guy looked Tyler up and down and scoffed, "Whatever." Tyler watched the random walk away, dejected. Then, he pulled out his phone and downloaded the app.


Hunter hated to admit it, but he was at home on the dance floor. Fuck this stupid game, fuck Scott, and fuck Charlie. Guys were rubbing all over him, but he didn't give a fuck about these stupid points. As a remix of "Someone Like You" played, Hunter noticed a guy also dancing by himself. There was something sad and lonely about the way he moved around, his svelte linebacker moving languidly in the crowd of people. Hunter took a chance and approached him.


"You don't have a pic," The Picture of Muscular Pecs messaged to Tyler on Grindr.

"It's still getting approved. I can send one though."


Tyler sent a shot of himself from when he still lived in Ohio, a picture of a person he didn't recognize anymore.

"Cute," The Torso messaged back.

"TY. Do you have a picture?"

"Ya, but I'm kinda involved with someone right now. Have to be discreet."


"I've got the place all to myself. Wanna come over?"

Tyler looked around for his roommates to look for advice. Charlie was talking to Dr. Fargo. Hunter was dancing with some guy. Tyler finished his drink and went back to his phone.

"Sure. Where you at?"


Hunter and Svelte Linebacker were dancing close together, arms around each other, heads down, keeping time to the beat of the music. Hunter's sweat dripped on Svelte Linebacker as he took off his shirt.

"You're cute."

"Thanks man," said Hunter. "So are you."

"I... listen, I'm kinda on the outs with my boyfriend right now."

"Yeah, I'm just getting over something too. It wasn't like anything really but... yeah."

"Maybe we can go back to my place... help each other forget?"

There was just the beats and the autotune and this guy. Fuck the game, fuck Scott, fuck Charlie. Hunter kissed Svelte Linebacker. He opened his eyes and smiled at Hunter. He had the bluest eyes Hunter had ever seen.



"Where are you?" Eddy screamed into the phone.

"We're having a boys night at Roscoe's." Charlie yelled back, dance music playin in the background.

"But it's my night! I got that job with Sutherland Strategies! Close to six figures and I get to stay in Chicago!"

"Great! That means I'll see you all the time now. The guys kinda need me."

"Whatever." Eddy hung up and braved Spin by herself. Thankfully, Melanie was at the pool table.

"Edds!" she called over. Eddy motioned for Melanie to join her at the bar as she ordered a dink.

"Mel, how's tricks?"

"You tell me, girl. You've been here barely a month and you've probably slept with the whole lesbian population in Chicago."

"Just the hot ones."

Melanie slugged her arm. "Hey!"

"Easy. Company policy: I don't sleep with friends."

"So you think I'm hot?" Melanie smiled, licking her lips seductively. Eddy laughed flirtatiously. Melanie pulled her in for a soft, passionate, languid kiss.

"I think I might have to rethink my policy," Eddy said once she caught her breath.

"Hey Eddy," waved the hot black chick in dreads passing by.

"Hey Eddy," waved the buxom blond on her way to play pool.

"Hey Eddy," said the cute Latina chick, on her way to the dance floor.

"Unbelievable," Melanie laughed, rolling her eyes.

"What do you want for my life?" Eddy shrugged.

"I want you to find me on the dance floor and rethink your policy," Melanie said, walking away suggestively. Eddy counted to ten, finished her drink, then headed back to find her. A red head came up and blocked her way.

"Hey Eddy."

"Oh. Hey."

"I just want you to know that I forgive you."

"Oh," said Eddy, still not sure who this bitch was. "Um, thanks?"

"You don't even remember do you?"

"Sorry, I... "

"Dawn. We hooked up when you first got into town."

"Right. Dawn. Well, thanks for um... "

"I can't believe you. Our time together meant nothing to you at all?"

"Well, it was fun, sure... I guess.

"You guess?!" Dawn screeched, putting her arm in the doorway to block Eddy's attempted exit. "You said you loved me!"

"Whoa, hold up there. I NEVER... "

"Well, it was implied."

"Whatever. You're nuts." Eddy pushed her way through and left the bathroom. Dawn watched Eddy disappear into the crowd. To find her next conquest, she was sure. Dawn didn't care what Eddy said, she knew what she knew. That night, they lost themselves in each other. When Eddy kissed her, held her, there was love there. Next time Dawn saw Eddy, she'd make her remember. Or else, she'd make her pay.



Becka ordered another cosmopolitan and put down her phone. "I'm not even gonna bother."

"What's up?" asked Other David, finishing his cosmo and ordering another.

"Brad and I are fighting again."

"Oh god, you guys too?"

"He keeps going back and forth on the wedding. First, he's hands off, ‘whatever you want babe'. Now he's all in my face about every decision I make. I couldn't take it anymore. I'm staying the weekend with my mom."

"It's a fight I wish I could have with David, honestly."

"Is that what you guys are fighting about?"

"No I... ok, I wasn't snooping... "

"Oh god."

"I was handing him his phone and while I was... he got a message on Grindr."

"What?! You guys don't... ?"

"No, god no. But he... he says he's just using it to find friends... "

"He's got friends!"

"Exactly. I love him. And I trust him... it's just... the principle, you know?"

"Right. So did he delete it?"

"I told him if he loved me, he should."

"Ultimatums. Fun."

"Why the long faces?" Steve asked as he came up behind the bar.

"Boys," they both said.

"Oy. Next round's on me."

"Can I get in on that?" asked Tristan, appearing seemingly out of nowhere. Steve grinned; this kid was relentless.

"Sure, Tristan." Steve said, pouring three cosmos. Steve loved being an involved owner, making drinks, working the crowd. When he was growing up, he always dreamt of having a gay version of "Cheers" and was really starting to come true. And sure, he couldn't mix a drink for shit, but it was his place and the more booze you add, the better it'll taste anyway. He had a good time doing it. He let Becka and Other David continue their commiseration as he made his way back to the office. Tristan slithered away from Becka and Other David and followed Steve back.


Diego wondered why gay men felt so at home on the dance floor. He loved to go there and dance it out to forget his troubles and it appeared to be the remedy for the rest of Boystown, especially at The Pistop. He felt strong hands around him and he was hopeful, but then he turned to face Bruce.

"Hey cutie," said Bruce.

"Bruce, I can't. My boyfriend's pissed off at me. I'm crashing at my friend's house because he's so pissed at what happened."

"Nothing happened though."

"It was sill enough to piss him off."

"Well then," Bruce said, pulling Diego in closer by his belt loop. "Since he's pissed at you anyway."

"Stop. It's already awkward. You and Tristan... "

"That was very non-committal."

"And besides Bruce... you're like old."


Tristan could hear a muffled voice through the door of Steve's office. He didn't hear any response, so he figured that Steve was on the phone. It was now or never: he had to make rent and pay off some bills. Maybe buy a new pair of Prada shoes. He looked around, saw no one coming, and stripped down naked. If he was gonna close this deal for sure, he was gonna have to go balls out. Literally.

"Hey Steve," Tristan cooed as he slipped in the door. Steve looked up from his MacBook in shock.

"Tristan, what are you... ?"

"I'm attractive. You're attractive. You want me," he said, inching his way toward Steve. "I know it. I see it. I feel it."

Steve smirked and shook his head. "Listen, I'm very flattered but... "

"Running this bar all by yourself must get pretty lonely," said Tristan, walking around the desk., sitting on Steve's lap. "I can keep you company, if you were... you know... generous... " Tristan heard someone clear his throat and he jumped up as there was no one else in the room. Well, physically. On Steve's MacBook was video chat with Steve's boyfriend Edward, looking very annoyed.

"For the record babe," Steve said. "I wasn't encouraging or condoning."

"Or prohibiting. But I'm not mad. At you. Just at this little trollop I'm going to have words with very soon."

Tristan bolted out the door, mortified beyond belief. He quickly threw his clothes back on and b-lined for the exit. Never had he been so humiliated in his life. He was going to have to figure out to make rent this month. Maybe he'd have to get a... job... the sheer thought ran shivers down his spine.

But at least there was time for another drink. Boystown was in full force tonight, enjoying the last random warm cool that had graced most of the fall. He almost bumped into a couple of guys making out on the street corner. Something about them seemed familiar but then he realized. He couldn't believe what he was seeing: Charlie's roommate was making out with He Who Shall Not Be Named. Tristan quickly fell into the shadows and put his hood up. As they walked down Belmont, Tristan stayed ten steps behind, but he knew where they were going. They crossed the street at Belmont and went up to He Who Shall Not Be Named's place.



They lay there, naked in the sheets, covered in sweat and semen and streetlight creeping in from the window. Exhausted with passion and ecstasy. And remorse.

"So... I figured out why you look so familiar. Where I've seen you before."


"Probably shouldn't say... "

"It's cool."

"Promise you won't say anything?"


"It was at the hospital. For Charlie Parker."

"Oh. You know Charlie?"

"Yeah. I mean there was so much going on. I was barely... I mean... "

"Yeah. That was a crazy time. But it's cool I guess. I won't tell anyone. Hell, I don't even know your name."

"We never got that far, did we?"

"I guess not. I never got yours either."

"Well, my name is... "

"You know what? Let's not. I mean, if that's ok. I've just got someone that... "


"... and I kinda have to be discreet."

"I get it. It's cool."

They lay quietly for a moment.

"Sorry, it's just... "

"No, really. It's cool. How do you know Charlie?"

"Is it cool if we don't get into it?"

"Right. Sure. Sorry."

Another quiet moment.

"Well, I guess I should get going."


"It was fun. Even if it was the only time we'll probably... " He kissed him.

"You know what? Let's make THIS the last time."

And they began to make love again.



Charlie approached Dr. Fargo but then pussed out and retreated. How the fuck was he going to start this conversation with this ridiculously attractive guy who probably had to give him a sponge bath? Awkward. Anyway, tonight was for the guys, and he could just say that he...

"Charles Parker?" Charlie stopped dead in his tracks and turned around. Dr. Fargo smiled. "Omigod, it is you! It's so great to see you up and about."

God, that fucking charming smile. "You remember me?"

"Well, you're looking much better now. I'm Ben," he said, extending his hand.

"Charlie. Well you knew that."

"God, it really is so great to see you up and about. I spent so many days monitoring your vitals while you were in your coma, I often wondered what you'd be like." Ben planted his palm firmly on his face. "God, that was so awkward and creepy. I'll just go and die now."

Charlie laughed from his gut, something he hadn't done in a very long time. Great, so he was handsome, charming, and goofy. What's wrong with him?

"Don't die," said Charlie, still laughing. "I'm just glad I'm not the awkward one for once."

"Yeah, I'll win that prize every time."

"Can I buy you a drink? The least I can do for someone who nursed me back to health."

They traded life stories over pints of beer. After med school, Ben wanted to join Doctors Without Borders. It was very similar to Charlie's desire to take a year off some day to do Teach For America. Between smiles and sideways glances, they shared coming out stories, of first loves, watered-down heart breaks, and hyperbolic views on life and love. With each story told, each hour passed, each smile shared, they inched closer together until eventually, they were standing hip to hip. Reaching for his wallet to pay for another drink, Charlie's hand grazed Ben's slightly. Ben took it and held in his hand, running his thumb over Charlie's knuckle.

"Last call!" said the Bartender.

"Aw man, I was having such a great time."

"That doesn't mean the night has to end at this very minute," said Ben.

"Can I walk you home?" asked Charlie.

"Sure," smiled Ben.

They walked up Halsted until it split and turned into Broadway. The air was heavy with the smell of rain and dying summer. The streetlights peeked through the misty almost-fog, lighting their way as they passed Irving Park. They didn't say a whole lot, just cracking jokes here and there, but Charlie felt completely at ease with Ben. He didn't have to think about what to say or how to keep him interested. They were just... there. Together.

"I should have mentioned," said Ben as they crossed Montrose, "I live in Andersonville."

"Shit, we've come a long way! I hadn't even noticed."

"I can get you a cab if you need to turn back."

"No, I want to walk you home. And it's nice to... I mean, I can't even remember the last time I left Boystown. It's nice to get out for a change."

"You should do it more often."

Usually passing the shady corner of Wilson and Broadway at this time of night would give Charlie pause, but somehow, with Ben holding his hand firmly, he felt safer.

"I wish I had time for a puppy," said Ben, off the cuff. "But with med school... "

"Plus living in the city... "

"Yeah. Not that I'd want to live in the burbs cuz... "

"... gross... "

"Yeah. But, I want to have a puppy someday, and have him grow up with me so by the time he's an adult, and I have kids, he can be the family dog."

"You want kids?"

"God yeah. Shit. Sorry, is that too much for a first... whatever this is?"

"No. Not at all. It's just nice to know that we want the same things."

They turned left at Bryn Mawr and walked west up to Clark street.

"This is ethically ok, isn't it?"

"What's that?"

"This... whatever... I mean, you were my doctor. Technically."

"And I've released you from my care."


"And it's probably the only time I'll want to release you," Ben said, then his palm found his face again. "God that was so cheesey."

Charlie pulled Ben in close and kissed him. The clouds above delivered on the rain they promised earlier, pelting down on them as they stood kissing in the street. They wrapped their arms around each other, with only the heat of their bodies and the heat of their breath to keep them warm. Time had no meaning, the rain had no meaning. Just them. This moment here. They remained like this, wrapped in each other, kissing until the rain finally slowed down.

"Can I see you again?" asked Ben.

"I'd really like that."

"Good," said Ben. "Let me give you my number. And you can text me yours."

"Great," said Charlie, pulling out his phone. After he entered his passcode, he noticed that he had missed a text from Tristan:

"At this very moment, your roommate is hooking up with He Who Shall Not Be Named."

And Charlie's heart sank.



So what do think? Be the first to comment!

As a part of our commitment to upholding a high standard of transparency, we wanted to let you know that uses cookies to improve your user experience. We've updated our cookie policy to reflect changes in website tracking laws. By continuing, you agree to our terms and provide your consent to our use of cookies.