The Cry of Wolves

The Cry of Wolves

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English

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The Cry of Wolves

Michael Donohue
Novel : 312 000 letters, 56 000 words
Paul Kelly escapes his backward small town in Ireland for the bright lights of New York only to find himself in a state of paralysis. Desperate to move forward, he embarks on an odyssey of self-discovery through New York's music, fashion and nightclub worlds. While dealing with his present predicament he must also confront the psychological ramifications of growing up in a homophobic culture. He finally accepts that the vindication he seeks for his past suffering is unobtainable and likens himself to a wolf howling on a wasteland, his cry for justice everlasting.
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Published 18 December 2015
Reads 5
EAN13 9791029401176
License: All rights reserved
Language English

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Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20 Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24
The Cry of Wolves
Michael Donohue
Chapter 1 Paul Kelly brushed past two homeless alcoholics guarding the entrance to Fourteenth Street subway station and joined the other immigrants crowding onto the uptown Number 6. As he squeezed in between a large Latino woman and an elderly Chinese gentleman, also en route to service rich America, he was careful to avoid their gaze of commiseration. For two years now, he’d been opening and closing the front door of a residential building on East Seventy-Third Street – a doorman. It made him cringe to think of his time there, the betrayal of his own ambition. It appeared, he admitted, a great beginning, just what he needed to get on his feet, save a few dollars. The pay was very generous – there was no denying this – but it felt as if he was being showered with gifts for bowing and scraping to people who weren’t his superiors, but who, more often than not, acted as such. For some employees, mostly elderly gentlemen who had been in the Service and non-English speaking immigrants, the job could be described as a godsend, offering a generous salary for little toil invested. But for an educated, white guy in his early twenties like Paul, it was ‘loser’ territory. (Twenty-third Street Station.) His cousin secured him the position through a friend who worked for a real estate corporation, and Paul, who was staying with his cousin at the time, felt obliged to accept. He didn’t think too deeply on the subject. Back then, he believed he’d just sail up the corporate ladder, people opening doors and offering him opportunities from all angles. From his doorman position he felt it was only a short elevator ride to the penthouse, unaware that this ease of passage was reserved for the exceptionally talented or for those who had inherited the privilege. Paul was one of those destined to use the stairs. (Twenty-eighth Street Station.) Following a year with his cousin (she had insisted on him staying to help her over a broken heart), he found a beautiful two-bedroom apartment with a colleague in a pseudo-Irish community in Queens. This he soon realised wasn’t his scene: bars throbbing with Irish music, small talk on street corners concerning Irish football results and shops selling Irish newspapers was hardly his idea of experiencing The New World. Fortunately after six months his Polish roommate returned home and Paul found a studio for himself in the East Village in Manhattan. For the first time he was happy where he was living, and it was one of the reasons he felt the limitations of his current job so keenly. (Thirty-third Street Station.) The main obstacle in his career path was his uncertainty as to what field to enter. His last few years in secondary school proved lethargic and he had only gained entry to a commercial college. Taking a Marketing course, he intended to complete his first year certificate, move on to the diploma, then transfer to university for a degree – the roundabout route. However, having spent most of his first year masturbating in the male toilets to homoerotic images some budding gay porn artist had executed on the doors of several cubicles, he realised he would have to confront his homosexuality before it confronted him. (Grand Central Station.) Admitting his sexuality in Ireland wasn’t a possibility. He was so frozen, so welded over with fear, that for Paul to come out would have been... Well, he just couldn’t imagine what they would do to him. His youth had been haunted with images of the town parading up to his front door, dragging him from his bedroom – as his parents watched in shame and horror – and parading him down the main street while his friends and neighbors jeered from the sidelines. His genitalia would then be chopped off in a public execution and he’d spend his life as a sexless cripple, forever disfigured for his crime. While this wouldn’t have happened – though at the same time his town wasn’t completely safe for queers – Paul had been unable to see through the ball of fear that had rolled up inside him. (Fifty-first Street Station.) He knew his career would be in business, imagining himself as a Media Executive or running a fashion label or leading advertising campaigns. He was open to pretty much anything besides, ‘Hello Mrs. Bernstein. How is your ball of fluff you call a dog? And I’m not allowed ask
you how you are, because that would be too personal coming from a servant. And you really think I’m a piece if shit, don’t you? The funny thing is I probably have as much money as you, except you’ve been living here for forty years and your rent is less than mine. And I’m so fucking bored, I’m going to explode!’ He’d been there too long. (Fifty-ninth Street Station.) Of course, like all men Paul was responsible for his own fate. What was the use of him getting angry? Nobody cared. If he didn’t want to do the job anymore, he would just be replaced as if he was never there. But where was he to go? This was the scary part. Something was keeping his hand on the door handle. (Sixty-eighth Street Station.) * * * The buildings rose before him like spirals of achieved dreams. He liked to stroll up the remaining few blocks, admiring the wildlife of the Upper East Side. It was obvious that in this part of town wealth was the fashion, one being instantly recognisable as someone who lived in the buildings or who serviced the rich in them. And if social inequality was highlighted, racial inequality was also prone to rear its ugly head. He had often observed black nannies pushing Aryan children in prams, but there were no black people living in his building. African Americans who were successful lived further up Central Park on the Westside, and, of course, were greatly outnumbered by their white counterparts. Paul had never thought of himself as part of this underclass, but since his coming out he was beginning to feel a solidarity with his disaffected ‘brothers and sisters’. If blacks were discriminated against, gays were somewhere further down the scale. To say one was gay was to encounter a begrudging acceptance from the world. His parents had hit the roof on hearing their first born, their first contribution to the continuation of mankind, their great hope for the future, was a poof. His mother, a staunch Catholic, took to bed and couldn’t get out for a week. His father took the trouble of writing him a stern letter, warning of the dangers of AIDS and of growing old ALONE. Paul later learned his dad was about to fly out and bring ‘his son’ home, the inference being that someone had ‘got to him’ in New York. Fortunately he thought better of it, but still never quite accepted the truth, believing Paul’s sexuality some kind of cosmic error, a possible miscalculation of the Gods, or a freak of nature occurrence in which his sperm had been infected with this toxic substance – something beyond his responsibility. Paul, deeply hurt by their response, refused to answer his phone for two weeks. Though harsh on his parents this let them know that if they didn’t change their tune, they wouldn’t be talking to their son at all. Then there was the inevitable tearful phone call with his mother. — I love you, son. — I love you, too. — We can work it out. — There’s nothing to work out. — Maybe you’ll keep an open mind? — What for? Nothing’s going to change. — You never know what God has around the corner for you. — I’ll make my own decisions about my future, thank you. In one fell swoop, Paul had gone from being the golden boy to the rotten egg. Where once his praises were sung around coffee morning tables in the neighbourhood, now he was a change of subject. His existence had become the colour of Moira’s new dining-room curtains, his dreams the fact that Helen was having a Tupperware party next week, his romantic prospects the bad spell of rain they were enduring. Paul was in New York where they, his parents, would prefer, if the truth were known, he would stay. Their reaction was a revelation. They were far more interested in how his homosexuality
was going to affect them! Not once did they empathise with him, or ask him how he was feeling, or as to when he knew. His New York experience was proving no different, their main preoccupation being the kind of job he was doing or aspiring to do. They never mentioned rents or living expenses, or how the hell he was managing to survive in a foreign city on his own, so far away from home. He concluded that they’d always been like this. First it was Paul of ‘four grade A’s’, then ‘Captain of the school soccer team’, and now the ‘Marketing Executive’. Achievement? Yes, he wanted it. But it had cost him. It was all he was to them. * * * The locker room was littered with pictures of naked girls. Paul’s eyes were drawn to two co-workers who were already changing into their uniforms. He dared not look for a moment longer than he should, just long enough to store their naked torsos in his memory, to be revisited in later private moments. He’d always been a spy around men. He’d grown up in their company, fought with them, played, smoked, studied, showered, always so achingly close, but so far. This was no place to indulge his fantasies. One false move could blow his cover and then he would have to leave. These colleagues weren’t any more enlightened than the baying mob Paul had left behind in Ireland. His main gripe was how they viewed gays as freaks, somehow weird, different. It was almost as if he was an alien species with two heads, three eyes, webbed feet and a tail swinging behind him. As a rule, people didn’t bother him much. He didn’t give them reason to. He was ‘quiet’ Paul, a ‘nice guy’, ‘harmless’. It was a role he had slipped into early: ‘If I’m super-nice, others won’t have reason to attack me, probe, expose.’ His silence however was becoming more difficult to maintain. He’d grown up in a straight environment, but since his move to Greenwich Village he was experiencing another mode of living. He couldn’t justify his Jekyll and Hyde existence anymore. He fixed his hat and straightened his bow tie in the mirror. A Hispanic co-worker noticed him admiring himself and insinuated that Paul would like it up the culo, as he had done on a number of occasions previously in a half-jocular, half-offering manner. He had even gone so far as to pinch Paul’s behind. Paul laughed it off, secretly desperate for the experience. This would have been okay if he wasn’t gay. They could shag their lives away and no one would care. But to be gay, to stand up against the world and admit it, left one open to all sorts of bigotry. No, he wasn’t one of the boys, he was different. Paul Kelly was a fag, queer, homosexual; and somehow to purify his existence nullified such seedy advances. An Irish co-worker joined them and it seemed as if the Archbishop had entered to put an end to their sinful behavior. Paul didn’t like this guy. He was part of the ‘more Irish than Irish’ brigade. They wore their green as a sort of battle cry, wrapping it around themselves in a protest against their exile. Paul entered into a conversation about some Irish band that was due over. They had discovered they shared a common interest in music – it was the only common ground they could find – even if Paul thought his own tastes more refined. He thought of the Morrissey line about ‘Giving people valuable time, he’d much rather kick in the eye.’ His survival, he knew, depended on keeping beasts like this contented. He’d been forced to live in the lions’ cage and he had to make friends or be mauled to death. He made his way up to his sentry position. Where once he’d gotten some satisfaction from doing the job well, it was now merely perfunctory. The morning proceeded. Tenants bustled in and out. Paul helped them with their shopping, chit-chatted about their dogs, gave them notice of any deliveries made in their absence. From his vintage point he could envy the rich kids, commiserate with the lonely, scorn the arrogant, life’s rich pageant passing before him.
Chapter2 On re-entering his apartment building, Paul encountered his neighbor June. — Oh Paul, glad to bump into you. I just left a note under your door. I can’t talk now. Will you be in later?’ — I’m not sure. I don’t think so. — How about tomorrow? — Tomorrow’s fine. I’m not working until three. Do you want to do lunch? — Can’t, I’m afraid. How ‘bout I pop over round eleven. — Fine, but is everything... — Oh yeah, I just have a favor to ask. Listen, I have to rush. See you tomorrow. Bye. — Bye. But June didn’t hear. She had already bounced out the door, leaving a rose scent in her wake. Paul envied her, dolled up to the nines, heading to some record launch or concert. The fact she worked for a major record label meant her diary was jam-packed with exciting engagements. She seemed so full of that American ‘positivity’. He didn’t buy the whole, ‘don’t be a real human being, be always an up person’ mentality that was in constant circulation; but, whether real or feigned, he had to admit her enthusiasm stood in stark contrast to his hobbling up the stairs after another shift in doorman hell. The Americans could talk, he concluded, mainly about themselves – but there was something in that. Irish people didn’t speak up for themselves, list off their accomplishments. In America it wasn’t enough to say that he did marketing in college (which to an Irish employer would mean that he wanted to do marketing); he had to convince people he was born for it, ever since he organised the playbills for his junior infants play, he knew he was were destined for it. People were more interested in who he was, rather than in his grades and accomplishments. It was all about ‘personality’. His apartment was the jewel in his existence. In six months he had repainted and furnished the studio from zero. From his Christmas tips he’d purchased a state-of-the-art sound system, an all in one TV/VCR, and the latest Macintosh computer which he prominently displayed in a makeshift office space between his kitchen and living-room. It pained him to admit that, while the job was a thorn in his side, it had also allowed him to set himself up quite comfortably. No sooner had he removed his jacket than his he checked his answering machine: — Hi Paul. I know you’re at work but I wanted to let you know that I’m still on for meeting up later. This rehearsal is going on forever but I’ll be finished by seven, so I’ll have time to go home and change. So ten would be good for me. Call me if there’s any change. Ciao. Paul settled into the sofa, his evening secure. He was thrilled for his friend William, who’d just gotten his first break designing the costumes for a revue in the West Village. Paul had been in college with William’s brother, who wrote to Paul asking if he’d meet up with William when he arrived. He’d signed off with: ‘Oh, and he’s a bit of a poof, I should warn you.’ Paul, who was getting more adventurous at that stage, wrote back saying he’d be only too delighted to meet up. The first meeting was a little awkward, both wanting to like each other but unable to break some immovable barrier between them. On the subsequent meeting, Paul came out to William and they then spent the rest of the night complaining about the treatment they’d received in Ireland as queers. From then on, they were like sisters. William was camp. He was overtly homosexual in that he spoke in a high-pitched timbre, used his hands as tentacles, and was given to sudden outbursts of joy normally associated with dizzy blondes. If Paul thought he himself had suffered, it was more in the vein of private torment; William had faced the world head on. He didn’t have a choice. The moment he
opened his mouth, even to speak quietly, he gave himself away. Though being so open had its advantages. He’d been out on the gay scene in Dublin and as soon as he hit New York headed for gay Chelsea. Landing a job in a gay fashion boutique, he spent his spare time assembling his portfolio. When one of his gay colleagues in work recommended him for this job in a gay-themed revue, he was interviewed by a gay producer and subsequently passed with flying colors. Paul looked into his imaginary mirror again, examining his reflection for any signs of queenyness, something to signify that he too had a passport to this exclusive homosexual club whose members helped and promoted each other’s interests. Sadly, he could only conclude that he wasn’t gay enough, that, indeed, he found the reliance on an exclusive gay identity slightly distasteful. * * * Walking down Ave A, Paul felt like he was in a Mardi Gras. In succession he passed a highly decorated Mexican restaurant, a grunge live music venue, a fifties style bar/club and a retro fashion boutique. The streets themselves were alive with rock chicks, mid-westerners, Euro trash, queens and beggars. He didn’t have to travel more than five blocks in any direction to see what humanity as a race had to offer. Every ‘freak’ from small-town America, indeed the world, found a welcome here. This was Bohemia after all, a place where rules were something others adhered to. People were free to do or try or be anything. Paul fitted uneasily into the landscape. He was there by virtue of his renegade sexuality, not any liberal philosophies. Indeed, he wondered at the excess of it all: bars didn’t close, drugs sold openly on street corners, sex shops littering the landscape. He was, of course, riddled with Catholic guilt, so he was either going to do nothing or be unhappy in vice. He was yet to learn that most prostitutes are more honorable than most bishops. He passed one of the new cool Irish bars that had recently opened. He didn’t dare look inside. He may see faces from his hometown or from college, people who he didn’t want to know anymore, people associated with the old Paul. How could he stand in front of them now: Paul Kelly, a man who makes love to other men; a man who likes to get on his knees and take another man’s cock in his mouth; a man who likes to bend over and let another man fuck him up his ass; a man who likes the reverse. All those girls would know that he fancied their boyfriends, that he would lie down and throw his legs over his head and let their boyfriends screw him, like they did them. Everyone would know. The bar he and William liked to frequent lay off the beaten track on a tree-lined residential block. It had an air of mystery with its painted black entrance and its windows decorated with multicolored crystal beads. One might have thought it was a herbalist’s shop or a tattoo parlor or a fortune-teller’s salon. It wasn’t clear if the veil of secrecy was an embarrassment of sorts, as if to appease its neighbors who might be agitated by living next to a gay bar. Or, as Paul liked to imagine, it was more in the vein of retaining an air of exclusivity: if you didn’t know what it was, you had no right in passing through the entrance. As soon as it came into view, he, as usual, was overcome with a tingling sensation knowing that the promise of finding love, Mr. Right, possibly lay behind that secretive entrance. It had the ability to transform his mundane existence as if falling down a rabbit hole, or revealing a world behind a wardrobe, or waking up in a field of poppies. It also had the advantage of offering insulation against the bruises and bites of the world outside. The constant prejudice one was always inevitably reacting against would disappear like a layer of wax dripping off the face of dummy in a museum to reveal something lifelike beneath. Inside, only half the seats were taken. There was a DVD of a Bette Midler concert in full swing at the one end of the bar. He was still getting used to the idea that he could enjoy a Bette
Midler concert. To say one liked Bette or Barbara or Diana where he grew up was, for a boy, unheard of. He would have been laughed or beaten out of the classroom if such a passion surfaced. But he loved divas, especially the dance floor variety: Martha Wash, Barbara Tucker and India were some of his favorites. It was a new world opening up for him, like the opening of a Las Vegas showgirl’s headdress, all the jewels sparkling in fabulousness. He approached the bar and ordered a beer. William wouldn’t arrive until ten, but Paul liked to head down a little earlier on the off-chance his illusive Romeo would be waiting for him. He and William didn’t generally chase men when they were together; they were usually having too good a time. Taking his drink in a masochistic manner from the over worked-out, check-shirted barman of the ‘bear’ subgroup variety, he retreated to a little table with a candle on it, anticipating some great happening or other. Two Latino queens were having a heated debate about hairstyles at the next table. To Paul they were boring and so vicious besides. They could slay anyone with a look or remark. But they had great bodies. He imagined them naked, one or the other standing by a moonlit window in his apartment, his white hand imprinting their tanned torso. Unfortunately he’d nothing in common with either one. At the bar two older guys were deep in a conversation, neither was listening to. These same two, on a previous occasion, had tried to pick Paul up. Paul couldn’t decide which one to choose, at which point it was suggested they could all have some ‘fun’. Paul refused, for fear of being sent to hell for even thinking of such a thing – though he had thought a lot about it since. It never excited him before, but somehow ‘live’ it sparked his interest. He wondered if they approached tonight, would he? Would he have the nerve? He didn’t look over. If it came up he’d think about it then. He wasn’t going to go looking for it. Another guy, who gave the impression of being well brought up, sat on his own opposite. He was out of Paul’s league – not that Paul’s family were poor, his father being an accountant – but Paul felt a phony beside him. He seemed so himself: snooty, conservative, self-satisfied. Paul figured he was probably a student in Columbia, probably used his sexuality as an extra excuse to look down on the world. His life had been all ease, not because it was any easier than Paul’s, but because he had avoided being wounded. He sailed above the abuse, placed himself higher in his tower to avoid the attacks, imperiously looking down on the wounded and attackers alike. And there he remains, watching a screen with Bette Midler pouring out her guts for him, compelling him to listen to the words. And he says to himself, ‘She’s a little vulgar.’ Paul decided not to go over and speak with him. He wasn’t in the mood to make the usual effort that was required when conversing with Americans: they were always explaining and he was always understanding. It must be close to ten.
Chapter3
A cold breeze blowing in through Paul’s kitchen window swirled round the apartment, cleaning the dusty cracks with its freshness. He added a little air freshener to it, just enough to kill the scent of boy that lingered in the living room from its bedroom incarnation. He checked the kitchen for provisions. ‘Coffee? Yes. Milk? Yes. Sugar? Yes.’ He shut the window before it got too chilly. It was nice to stay tucked in his warm bed on the days when he worked the evening shift; indeed, he’d probably still be in bed, but for once, on the previous evening, he’d left William to face the witching hour alone.
William had arrived, tired, but in great spirits. Everything was a disaster with the production, but this only drew out the best in him. The more difficult it became, the more he was enjoying he challenge. He seriously doubted if the costume end would come together, knowing full well that it would, and if he had to stay up all night till his hands bled from sewing, those costumes would be a success.
William expected Paul to attend the opening night and gave him a printed invitation. It read:
— Paul Kelly and guest are invited to the opening night of
‘B’WAY FOIBLES’
At the West Ave Theatre.
Produced by______;
Musical Direction by______;
Costume Design by William Keogh.
Paul could hardly believe his eyes: his friend up there with the big boys! He took the first opportunity to excuse himself to the bathroom, and cried.
It was an emotional night. He planned to get drunk and forget, but drink only heightened his sensitivities. He wanted to embrace William, tell him how happy he was for him. He wanted to tell him something about himself, about how lost he was, about how confused he was about everything really. But William was on a bender, and got drunker and drunker, and louder and louder, until Paul couldn’t hear him at all. It appeared that, as close as they were, when it came down to it, Paul couldn’t let William into his secret, private part of himself. He felt if he let him in, he might never get him out. He decided it was best to go. It was the kind of scene that could have led to a fight of some sort and he didn’t want to burst William’s bubble. It would have appeared as very sour grapes.

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