The Escape of Perseus

of Gravenhurst

September 1989


Another letter to Barry, September 7, 10 pm. I had, again, wandered to The Toolbox a few days before, a walk of some miles. And I'd wandered further still -- Cherry Beach reputed cruisy, though I never cruised it myself, intent there on visions of a different kind.

But in time I did find another wanderer: another boy at The Barn.

I had walked all the way to The Toolbox but wasn't finished walking: I headed down to Cherry Beach after that, and back. There's something creepy wonderful about all those open scrappy spaces near the water, the ones not done over for tourists, full of big storage tanks and cement elevators and huge scary drawbridges [in fact just one] and grey ships -- brute industry and weeds, honest stuff.

I had fun. And you can bet this boy's legs are in shape. Not much to report since but a boy with much nicer legs. His name is Kefn. Welsh for Kevin he says. I first saw him dancing at The Barn on Tuesday night, after midnight. It was slow so there wasn't much competition for my eye and he filled it: tall, big (6'1", 175 pounds he told me later), blond, and pretty good moves, too. He was in from Gravenhurst.

We talked, and walked out together and he said he was planning to stay at the baths and I said he didn't have to.

"Well, you got a beer for me?"

You know how I like that kind of forwardness. I said, "Well, sure I do." And we blabbed until almost 4:00.

He's a recovered druggie, only 25 but on the scene for far too long. Gravenhurst was his way of getting clean: after a rehab program at the Addiction Research Foundation he decided the only way to avoid the temptation was to leave town.

He was back to see his family and a few friends -- and to get just a taste of urban buzz. He wanted the baths not for sleep, maybe not even for sex, but for the scene, so at 4:00 he left.

He had given me his parents' number, said he'd be there at 6:00 the next day and really wanted me to call. So I did. His plans were vague and I didn't want to make any; I wanted to stay home. I told him that's what I'd do and he could call or come by if he wanted to. And he called at 10, saying he wanted to go dancing, but could he stay the night with me after that? (Oh gosh, I guess so...!)

He got here at 11 but he hadn't been dancing yet: he wanted to drop his bag off first, planning to get a bus out by noon the next day. At midnight he headed for Colby's and I headed to bed, one light on so I could get up and let him in, which I expected I'd have to do in maybe an hour or two.

The buzzer didn't ring until 5:30. You can imagine how much sleep I got before that.

He'd run into a bunch of old acquaintances, drag hookers with lousy taste in jewellery and light fingers to finance their baubles and drug habits. He wasn't impressed, but he did let them haul him off to a booze can, then to somebody's apartment. He didn't do any dope but he did get very weird.

By the time he got here he'd decided just to get his bag and catch the 6:30 am bus for Gravenhurst. He said he shouldn't have gone to Colby's, bound to run into that crowd. I said maybe he wanted to see it all again just to remind himself why he didn't want to be here. He was really depressed and scared.

He said he almost didn't come back at all, was too embarrassed, figured he could get his stuff some other time and maybe he should just go right to the bus station. I'm glad he didn't do that: he's not only HIV positive but diabetic; his insulin was in his bag and I would really have been worried about what might have happened to him if he hadn't come back for that.

But he did, and had a beer, and left me half awake at my door at 6 am. I went back to bed till 11. I've got his number and he wants me to call.

He did touch something in me. He's pretty fucked up but he's been strong too, has tried to take his life in hand and it's worked -- so far. Still, I think I know when there's not much I can do about anybody else's life, and how fucked up my life could get if I tried. I won't call. Enough's enough.

See what I mean about boys being a lot of work? Two nights' sleep shot and I didn't even get his pants off. Good thing I like talk....

Gravenhurst is a small town in Muskoka, well north of Toronto, to city folks "cottage country." Later I'd encounter another angel of Gravenhurst -- one whose visitation would last well more than two nights: Little Ricky.

Among his proudest possessions: a licence to hunt moose.

Toolbox patio

St Joseph Street

The Toolbox:
508 Eastern Avenue -- its patio glorious
if vacant here, in a shot taken on a Monday
afternoon in August 1999.

For tales of The Toolbox and mortal angels found there, see Promiscuous Affections: 1991.

St Joseph Street:
Site of many gay venues. The canopy in the
foreground marks what was The Manatee, 1970-1984.
The building beyond housed Colby's, where Bill
found his dissolute abductors.

For much more on Colby's and its dancing boys, Little Ricky among them (and here among Other Angels as well), see 1992 and beyond. For The Manatee, as well as another dance palace of the day -- a church -- see 1972.

Angel image: Sir Edward Burne-Jones: Detail from "The Escape of Perseus."

Next episode: X: Magic

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