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

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25. Possibility (Series Finale)

Today started like any other day. Charlie turned over and was met with the blinding morning sun shining in his face. He got up begrudgingly and started the morning coffee before heading to the bathroom take his morning piss.  He washed his hands then splashed some water on his face. He studied

25. Possibility (Series Finale)
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Today started like any other day. Charlie turned over and was met with the blinding morning sun shining in his face. He got up begrudgingly and started the morning coffee before heading to the bathroom take his morning piss.  He washed his hands then splashed some water on his face. He studied his face long and hard as the warm water dripped down his forehead and trickled down his cheek, down his neck, and onto his bare chest. Everything remained the same: the same eye crinkles that threatened to deepen with every smile, the same dimple that appeared in his right cheek when he practiced his non-eye-crinkle-threatening smirk, the worry lines that disappeared the moment he unfurrowed his brow. He didn't feel any different. Thirty didn't feel any different.

The only thing that was different was that Hunter wasn't there anymore.

Hunter's bedroom door was wide open when Charlie left the bathroom. His drawers and closet were cleaned out, noticeably missing: his huge army duffle. The rest was gathered in a corner of his room into a pile with a post-it note that said "Brown Elephant." On the bed was a check for this month's rent made out to Charlie.

"Morning old man," Tyler said cheerily, hugging Charlie as he stood at Hunter's doorway. "Happy birthday!" The smile quickly faded as the reality of the moment finally struck him. Overcome with a pang of worry, Charlie rushed to the bathroom and opened the medicine cabinet. All of Hunter's meds were gone.

"Thank God," Charlie thought as Tyler came into the bathroom holding another post-it note.

"It was on the PS3," he said giving it to Charlie. It read:

"Tyler-- Keep it dude. Remember: co-op is hella fun but one-player is fine too. In all things. Take care dude. xHunter"

Tyler began to sob and Charlie joined him, holding him tight.

Hunter was gone.

The rest of the day was a blur. Charlie sifted through all the "happy birthday" texts and Facebook messages robotically. There was nothing happy about today. He had no job and no man. Scratch that: he had no Hunter. The belief he held for most of his life, the notion that not trying was worse than not knowing was proven right. Never knowing what could've been with Hunter because he was too chicken shit to say anything, too much of an asshole to let himself believe that anyone could possibly love him...the not knowing would be the biggest regret of his life. It was enough to put him in a gloomy enough mood to cancel his birthday dinner with Eddy that night.

"Bullshit," Eddy said. "It's your thirtieth. We're doing something."

"I'm just...I'm not in the mood, Eds."

"Listen, you have to be in the mood."


"The David's and I...we planned this big ol' surprise party for ya."

"You what?!"

"Yeah. Steve closed out the back room of The Pitstop. Everybody's going to be there."


"Well...almost everybody."

"I don't know Eds..."

"Fuck you. I'll be there in forty-five minutes to pick you up. And take a shower, you sound like you haven't showered."

"How do I sound like I haven't...?"

"Don't question me, Chuck."


Charlie tried his best to feign surprise but his poker face sucked. It didn't matter, everyone was happy to see him. And Eddy wasn't lying: everyone was there.

"How'd you find Pride Boyfriends 2004-2009?" Charlie asked, immediately observing the six cute guys that looked like a twerking and grinding Benneton ad come to life.

"We took out a full-page ad in the Windy City Times: 'Have you made out with this desperate Asian American school marm at Pride' accompanied with the picture of you passed out on the couch with an empty bottle of wine," Eddy joked. "Thousands responded. Thousands."

"What's a Pride Boyfriend?" asked Tyler.

"It's where Charlie picks one boy to obsess over the whole of Pride weekend," Eddy answered.

"It's more than that," Charlie said.

"Happy birthday, Mr. Parker!" Robbie called across the crowd.

"Whoa! Robbie, what are you doing here?" Charlie said as Robbie bear hugged him.

"My dad owns the place, duh!" Robbie giggled.

"Ok, Tori Spelling, calm down," Edward said. "Show Mr. Parker your accessory for the night."

"I'm not even gonna try to drink," Robbie said, holding up his wristband. "Gosh!"

"That's right young man, tonight is special."

"You know, I don't see what the big deal is," Robbie said. "It's nowhere near as scary or exciting as I thought it'd be. It's just people hanging out."

"You know, in our day," Steve said, putting his arm around Edward. "A gay bar was all we had. The only place where we could be ourselves."

"Technically my day too," said Charlie. "Christ, it's the principle Boystown is built on."

"That's stupid," said Robbie. "People should be able to be themselves wherever."

"From your mouth to God's ear," said Edward.

"All my friends at GSA are so jealous," Robbie said. "They all really miss you Mr. Parker. I really miss you Mr. Parker."

"I miss you too," Charlie said.

"Any chance you could come back?"

"My sabbatical request got approved  for when I thought I was going to move to Africa. I'm working with my union rep to see if it can be reversed for next semester."

"That's great," Robbie said. "I hope you come back."

"What is he doing here?" David said as he approached. "If his social worker happens to be here and sees him, it could hinder the adoption process."

"Adoption?" Charlie smiled.

"Babe, don't be a buzzkill," Other David said, wrapping his arms around David. "It's a party."

"Where's Josh?" Eddy asked snidely.

"Gone," the Davids said.

"And good riddance," David laughed.

"Oh hush," Other David said, putting his left hand over David's mouth. Charlie noticed the glint of a ring he hadn't seen before.

"Is that...?"

"Yep," said Other David flashing it around. "He put a ring on it."

"In theory," said David.

"But you were so against it," Charlie said.

"He got a big ol' hard on when the Treasury announced that gay couples could file joint taxes anywhere in the country," Other David teased.

"So really it's just an investment," David teased back.

"How romantic," said Charlie.

"Alright, enough of this mush," said Eddy. "Everyone who has a drink raise em up. To Charlie."

"To Charlie," everyone toasted.


The dance floor quickly filled up but all the people Charlie cared about were dancing by his side. Well all but one. He kept perusing the crowd, hoping to see him come in unexpectedly but he never showed up. Steve and Edward danced lovingly on each other as did the Davids and Eddy and Tyler with new possibilities for the night. That's probably what Charlie missed most about being in his twenties: the feeling that anything was possible. Each night used to hold its own set of risks and circumstances and ultimately...possibility. Now, eleven hours into being thirty, he felt that he'd explored every side of possible. What was left?

One of Tristan's friends bumped into the handsome man dancing next to Charlie who in turn spilled his vodka cranberry all over Charlie's white shirt.

"I am so sorry," said the handsome man.

"That's alright," Charlie said. "I'll just go change. I'm not too far."

"You going home?" Tyler yelled over the music.

"Just gonna change real quick," Charlie yelled back, indicating his shirt.

"I'll go with you, I wanna grab some more cash from my dresser." As they made their move off the dance floor, Charlie felt someone grab his hand.

"I feel awful," handsome man said, handing Charlie his card. "Please send me the dry cleaning bill. know, if you wanna grab dinner or you have my number."

Charlie grinned to himself as he pocketed the card: possibility.


The apartment felt lonelier and emptier as Charlie and Tyler came in. They would have to get used to the feeling. "I'll be real quick," Charlie said as he ran to his bedroom. He threw off his shirt and reached into his closet for another one, knocking over the same goddamn box, cascading years of pictures down on him. He didn't have time to deal with that though, he had to get back to Eddy and his friends.

He buttoned his new shirt quickly and  closed the door to do a once over before he left. In his periphery, he noticed a white piece of paper on his freshly made bed. He slowly turned around and picked it up. It read:

"Charlie- Remember in the end...he was going back for a reason. One day, I will too.  Happy birthday. I love you. xHunter"

An arrow on the bottom right corner suggested that Charlie turn it around and he complied. On the other side was a recreation (or Hunter's version) of the cover of "The Little Prince." The only difference was that the Rose was standing next to the Little Prince...and the Rose looked like Charlie.

"TYLER!" Charlie called so urgently that Tyler was in his room in under a minute.  He held up the drawing. "Hunter was here."

"Did you just find that?"

"No! Listen to me. I made my bed this morning, there was nothing on it. When I came was just laying there waiting for me."

"He was here. He's still in town." Tyler said. Charlie collapsed on the bed, staring at the picture. "What are you gonna do?"

"I don't know," Charlie replied pathetically. Tyler crouched down and rubbed Charlie's hand when a picture on the floor caught his attention.

"What's that?" he asked in awe, pointing at the picture. Charlie welcomed the distraction and looked at the picture.

"That was...Jesus that was Pride like ten years ago."

"And who's the guy you're kissing?"

"Well, that was my first Pride Boyfriend. Eddy likes to make light of it, like it's just some random guy i just meet on the street and randomly hook up with. I dunno... I mean you saw some of the ghosts of Pride Boyfriend past tonight. But this one... the first one... we saw each other on the street and just knew...we lost ourselves in one another. For that day, we were each other's worlds, you know? Like we loved each other without saying it or thinking about it, it just...was." He chuckled to himself. "God, it's like I've been chasing after that feeling again after."

"Ten years ago? Pride here in Chicago?"


"I was twelve..."

"Cuz I didn't feel old enough on my thirtieth birthday..."

"Listen Charlie. I was twelve...I was watching the news with my dad...there was coverage of the Pride Parade and I saw two guys kiss and that's when I knew it was okay to be gay. Charlie, the guys in this were one of those guys."

They stared at the picture for a minute. "Who was he?" Tyler asked.

"I don't know. I lost him in the crowd after the parade. And I didn't have a cell phone so we didn't trade numbers. That why Eddy started calling them my Pride Boyfriends: they never last longer then the weekend. Like most things in Boystown," he added with a chuckle.

"You know who he looks like? If you added like twenty pounds of muscle on him?"

Charlie saw it immediately but refused to believe it. "Stop."

"What's that on his shoulder?" Charlie looked closer and saw the outline of a bird of some sort and remembered dreaming about the sketch of a...

"Charlie. It's a phoenix. This's Hunter."

Charlie bolted up. Any sense of logic or practicality immediately left him. All he could say was: "I have to find him."

Tyler sprang into sidekick mode. "We've only been gone a couple of hours and he was just here in that time. He couldn't have gotten far."

"His phone is still going straight to voicemail," Charlie said, hanging up his phone.

"There's a MegaBus leaving for Indiana in an hour," Tyler said, checking the website on his phone. "He's probably going to be on it." Charlie bolted out the door before Tyler could give him any more info. He ran down Halsted trying to find a cab. On the one night where there were no cabs in sight. As he reached Aldine, he rested for a minute to catch his breath. That moment gave him enough time to think of the hopelessness and implausibility of the situation and he cried out in frustration.

"Hey," came a voice from above. "Want a shot?" Charlie looked up and there perched gingerly atop one of the phallic rainbow towers on Halsted was Hunter holding out a flask towards Charlie.

"What are you doing up there?" Charlie asked, breathing a sigh of relief.

"I wanted to get one last look of the neighborhood before I go. I lived a lot of life here. I'm gonna miss it."

"It's not the only thing you'll miss, I hope."

"You know that's not true..."

"Thank you. For the drawing."

Hunter beamed from ear to ear.  "You know, I spent all afternoon on the coloring? The pencils and the inks, I managed while I was resting in bed, but the coloring...I ended up missing the bus I was supposed to leave on."

Charlie realized that he still had the picture in his hand. He folded it in half discreetly as he called up to Hunter: "Can you come down for a second? Before you have to leave, I just wanted to ask you something."

Hunter descended from the tower and jumped down onto the sidewalk. There they stood: face to face, for the first time in a long time.

"Do you recognize this guy?" Charlie asked, showing him one side of the photo.

"Sure," Hunter said, taking the photo from him. "That's me ten years ago. I had just saved enough money to get my Phoenix tattoo outlined. I sketched it out for the guy on a napkin. It took me a couple of years to save the money to get it filled in."

"It's you," Charlie said.

"And on other side of this you," Hunter said as he unfolded the photo.

"So...this whole knew?"

"Why do you think I approached you at Cocktail that night?"

"Why didn't you say anything?"

Hunter took his hand. "Because look how much more awesome it is now that you've figured it out." They looked deep into each other's eyes for a long moment. Then Hunter sighed and said: "I really have to get going."

Charlie teared up. "I know."

"And really...I hate saying goodbye..."

"So don't."

"Charlie, I need to..."

"No, I mean...let me come with you."


"My whole life I've been chasing after...well...this," Charlie said holding up the picture. "You. I've been chasing  after you, Hunter. First the metaphorical and now the literal you. You're the only thing in my life that ever made any sense. I almost lost you. Twice. And before I got the chance to say..." Hunter grabbed Charlie by the small of his back and pulled him in close, kissing him deeply. Time stopped...the world was just Charlie and Hunter.

"I love you Hunter," Charlie said.

"I love you Charlie," Hunter said, kissing him again. "You're sure you want to do this?"

"I'm sure."

"I don't know where I'm going or what I'm doing..."

"Isn't that kind of the point?"

"You'll at least need a change of clothes," Tyler said, coming up to them with Charlie's backpack stuffed with clothes and smiling happily for the two of them. The three of them faced each other. There were no words for what they meant to each other and the embrace the three of them were entangled in could barely suffice. And it was just then a cab pulled up.

"You going to be okay?" Charlie asked.

"I'll figure it out," Tyler laughed. Hunter held the door open for Charlie and grabbed their bags.

"You better take over this fucking city by the time we get back," Hunter said, getting into the cab.

"That's the plan," Tyler said, waving them off.

Charlie and Hunter held hands in the back seat and watched in the rearview mirror until Tyler, the bars, the lights, the towers, all of them were dots then nothing in the horizon behind them. Then they rested their heads on each other's shoulders and just breathed in this moment. This moment with just them and the pure excitement of possibility. Because after that they'd be on a bus to nowhere to pick up a car that would take them somewhere, somewhere they had no idea how to get to. They didn't know what the future would hold for them or if they'd ever return Boystown. They just knew that at that very moment, holding hands, finally able to tell the other that they loved each other, finally being with each other...anything was possible. And that was the best part.

For beyond possibility lay the true adventure and they were about to embark on it together.





Words can't express my gratitude to everyone who supported this series: all the readers and Steve and Matt for giving me the opportunity to write Boystown. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. For updates on my goings on, you can visit my website or follow me on Twitter.

Much love,




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Vol 10.25 Possibility (Series Finale)

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