Here are the opening passages of Pleasuring, Bill Hope, and my unpublished novels. Hopefully they will give some hint of the story that follows.
The Pleasuring of Men
When Mr. Neil Smythe became a roomer in our brownstone, my brother Stewart scowled and wondered if the subtle scent he gave off was cologne or “hair slime”; my mother declared his last name “elegant, and so much nicer than Smith”; and I said nothing, knowing that I’d just met the handsomest man in the world.
Bill Hope: His Story
I was doing okay in a small-time graft kind of way with my pal Dan Hunter and we was working the horsecars and theater entrances and crowds watching a parade or argument or fight or just about any place outside where the moneyed gents gather until one morning when I was on my own and saw a wide-eyed country bumpkin hop off a horsecar by Union Square and start walking real casual on the sidewalk I knowed he was a bumpkin from that casual walk and his low-crowned wide-brimmed hat and the way he gaped at the crowds and sandwichmen and traffic they’re always easy hits and sure enough his coat was open wide and on his shirtfront under his handlebar was a peach of a spark just begging to be snatched so when a mob of shoppers and a beggar and RADICAL CURE TRUSSES pressed in all around I glided up and filched it neat and clean but like lightning his hand shot out and grabbed me by the wrist and he pushed me up against a WINES LIQUOR SEGARS storefront and pried the spark from my grip and hollered for a cop and a crowd gathered and a bluecoat come and next thing I knowed I was being hustled into a Black Maria that’s a big hearse of a wagon with a rear door they push you through and you’re locked inside and rushed off to the police court on the Centre Street side of that big gloomy prison the Tombs where there’s a jam of people shouting and lawyers screaming at each other and when they brought me before the judge sitting on a raised platform perched up there like God they asked me a question or two and the cop and the bumpkin said about three words each and the judge banged his whatchamacallit gavel like the word of judgment and sent me to the Boys Prison in the Tombs pending trial for petty larceny but since that prison was full up they put me in the Mens Prison right close by in the Tombs where they marched me down long corridors lined with cells and shoved me into one and the door banged shut and there I was with only a bed and a chair and a tiny slit of a window just like now when I’m writing this and it was cold and damp just like now and this was my first time here so I was in a funk and a daze.
The British ship Royal from Bristol, plowing heavy seas with a cargo of sheet iron and rods, dog collars, nails, and spittoons to be dumped on the Yankee market. Crammed in steerage are eighty queasy passengers likewise to be dumped on the Yankees, among them Henry Summers of Gloucestershire, twenty-six, a tailor, thin, sallow, shy, hard-working though not immune to gin, emigrating with his wife Ann and infant daughter Caroline (their meager funds sewn in his shirt), anxious to get established in the city; object: financial betterment; destination: any decent boardinghouse, New York.
Junius: The Story of an Obsession
It takes an obsession to spark up a life, give it tang and drive. Mine began one day when I was twelve and I was riding with my father in his gig, a light two-wheeled carriage that he delighted to drive about the city in, eyeing the traffic and the crowds. “See those houses, Junius? Those are brownstones. That’s where the gentry live.”
The Eye That Never Sleeps
At the sight of Dagger Jack and Kid-Glove Rosie, followed by Snoozer Bill and Mother Roach, Jimmy Fingers and Sugar Nell, Baboon Mike and Princess Lil, and a host of other couples promenading hand in hand around the hall to the screech of fiddles, a banjo, and tambourines, Sheldon Minick tried hard not to stare.
The Lady of the Chameleons
“Color!” Mr. Hicks, the managing editor, had told me. “That’s what this story needs – color!”
So there I was at the Majestic, a huge new palace of a theater on Broadway near Twenty-third Street, waiting with some thirty other reporters gathered in a large reception room for the first interview in the U.S. with Mathilde Mesnard, whom many people – Mr. Hicks among them – considered the greatest actress in the world.
South Street was crackajack. As always, the moment I set foot there, my brain began to tingle. Bowsprits of anchored sailing vessels – some of them Harmony vessels -- jutted high in the air overhead, while stevedores hustled huge bales and barrels and crates onto wagons or off of them, and iron-wheeled drays clattered on cobblestones amid smells of whale oil and sawn wood and brine.
Dinner of Dreams
Greetings to you on this blessed day, dear brethren, and may the Lord bring peace to your hearts. I see among you the citizens of four counties, both wakened and unawakened, the children of God and the children of wickedness, though the two can have little fellowship together. Knowingly or not, you have come for a Great Purpose, to witness the Flame of the Word, and I promise you, it shall blaze.