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I'll be spending this weekend in the spice mines, unfortunately, and Paul is leaving on Tuesday night to go visit his mom for eight days. Of course, next weekend is Labor Day which means I will be on condom duty on Friday night and Sunday afternoon. The absence of Paul will, of course, leave me horribly lonely (it'll be nice at first, but get old quickly), but I also have a lot of work I need to get done so not having him around will be enormously helpful in that regard. Ordinarily, I would take advantage of his absence to thoroughly clean the Lost Apartment, but alas, it is once again under construction. It has been two years, of course, so it was about time for something to have to be redone around here. Living room walls ripped out, kitchen floor to follow. Heavy heaving sigh. But at least we're better off than those poor flooded people up around Baton Rouge and Acadiana. Do donate if you can, Constant Reader--I know all too well what that feels like.

Heavy heaving sigh.

Many years ago, I tried to launch a pseudonym to write paranormal/horror under. Of course, I chose a name--Quentin Harrington--that sounded like a soap opera character, but I also kind of thought it fit in some ways, since my horror/paranormal stuff always has a Gothic air to it--probably because my primary horror influence has always been (much as I want it to be Stephen King) Dark Shadows. I do love horror--but whenever I write it, it always seems to come out as Gothic horror. This is fine, because I do love Gothic horror. But I've never really been successful selling horror stories; in fact, the only horror stories I've ever published are ones that I've published in my own anthologies. Okay, in fairness, I've never really tried since the 1980's to do so, but that doesn't make it any the less true.

In 2003 I got the chance to edit an anthology of queer horror for Haworth Press, Shadows of the Night, which was nominated for a Lambda award and was, actually, quite a good anthology. The idea, for me, was to ask gay and lesbian writers not known for writing horror to give it a shot, and the result was most pleasing. My story, as "Quentin Harrington", was called "The Troll in the Basement," and really was one of my revenge stories; haven't we all had a boss we thought was a monster in human form?

He could hear him down there, moving around.

He could feel the coffee in his stomach turning to acid, rapidly dissolving the fat free blueberry muffin he had picked up on his way into the office. He tries to focus on the computer screen in front of him. The design image began to swim; a muscled hairless torso, lips pursed at the camera, perky nipples erect, bright yellow lycra stretched over the unmistakable bulge of an erection, blurring, becoming indistinct. He reaches for his cup of coffee, the scent of French roast mingling with French vanilla flavoring assailing his nostrils, turning acrid, nauseating rather than enticing. He puts the cup down and rubs his eyes. He eyes the telephone.

How long before the intercom buzzes?

He sighs and saves the document. The computer would probably freeze up soon anyway, losing an hour’s worth of work yet again, for the umpteenth time. He hears the voice inside his head, searing through him like a lightning bolt of pain, causing his fists to clench. “You always should save the document every time you make any change to it because the network will crash.” That smug, know it all tone, driving him insane, pushing him to the limits of his tolerance. The knowing smirk broadcasting I-told-you-so, the lips not curled back enough to reveal the sharp points of the teeth, the out of control eyebrows that looked more like a cat’s whiskers lifting over the watery blue eyes. He opens his right hand top desk drawer and dry swallows two more Extra Strength Tylenol. The headache was coming on, he could feel it behind his temples, the heart beating through the veins throbbing.

He switches over to his email program. Three new messages, none of them he wants to read, none of them he wants to respond to.

It's also one of the few times I wrote in the present tense.

The only other time I used the Quentin Harrington name was for a story, again, for another anthology I did for Haworth: Upon a Midnight Clear, which was Christmas themed. Again, it was a lovely anthology, one I was very pleased with, and I wrote a story called "The Snow Queen" for it.

"The Snow Queen" was based in part on my memory of the old Hans Christian Anderson story of "The Ice Queen," only given a gay twist. It also had one of my recurring themes in old work--unrequited love--and interestingly enough, I had it snow in New Orleans; which actually happened the year the book came out. Weird.

The first thing I noticed about him was he had that kind of blonde hair that rarely occurs in nature.

Oz wasn’t really crowded that night, but I think I would have noticed him anyway if the place had been packed with sweating shirtless muscle boys gyrating to the latest remix of an Amber song. The stage at the front of the dance floor had only two boys up there dancing. One of them looked to be about fifteen, his jeans hanging loosely off his hips revealing the waistband of black Calvin Klein boxer briefs, the flat stomach glistening in the lights reflecting off the glittterball spinning over the center of the dance floor. The other’s age was indeterminate, but he was pale, had brown hairs all over his jiggling pecs and he was hanging over the sides and front of his too-tight jeans. There were a few girls out there dancing, probably young sorority girls who thought they were endlessly hipper and cooler than their sisters because they went dancing in an actual gay bar. There were some gay guys out there, dancing and sweating like a normal night. One of them was the guy I’d had my eye on for a while, Mike Devlin, the sexiest, cutest, sweetest guy to ever flee the wilds of western Louisana for New Orleans.

Maybe that was why the guy caught my eye. I was watching Mike dance, his shirt tucked through his belt, shaking his pretty round butt from side to side, lost in the music the way he always danced. Somehow, I sensed something, some kind of change in the air in the bar, I’m not sure what it was. Whatever I felt, it caused me to turn to my right and look back at the corner of the bar where the video poker machines were. I saw him standing at the bar underneath a go-go boy wearing unfastened, loose jeans over no underwear. He was wearing a blue T-shirt and tight black jeans. His hair glowed in the black lit area he was standing in, along with some specks of dust and lint on the shirt. (Wearing a black shirt into Oz was a big no-no; everything showed.) I couldn’t see what he looked like since his face was in profile as he handed a bill to Jude the bartender. As Jude turned back to the register to make change, he turned towards me. In one of those weird moments of timing, a few brightly colored lights above the dance floor kicked on, and the blue one shone directly onto him back there in the corner. We stared at each other. He was very beautiful. Somehow I knew that his almond shaped eyes, almost an Asian cast, were that icy blue that looked like they were covered with a thin layer of ice.

He smiled at me, and I felt a chill go down my back.

He turned away from me to look at the dance floor, his drink in his hand.

He was watching Mike.

Both stories, rereading them after all this time, aren't that bad, actually.

And now, back to the spice mines.

Here's today's hottie.

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