She may not forgive me for saying so but R.S. Bohn is bad to the bone - at least her writing is - in the most stunning and beautiful way. She consistently captivates her audience with the obscure and bizarre, treading with ballet-shoes across egg-shells, plunging us in and out of labyrinths.
She is myth and she is corsets; she is a challenge to psychology and a purveyor dreams. Rebecca Bohn is a writer I can't get enough of, and I await her fictional future with relish.
Rebecca's final Femmes Fatales tale First Time For Everything explores misconceptions and bigotry. It equally saddens, frustrates and maddens me; a clever achievement in under 1000 words.
First Time For Everything by R.S. Bohn
Victor’s at the end of the bar with the game machine, blowing smoke over it and taking sips of a martini. He’s not wearing the wig tonight, because it needs to be washed and re-styled, and anyway, it’s too damn hot in Frank’s. They’ve got the door propped open by him, but there isn’t a hint of a breeze. He sighs and rubs his temple. Wishes he could go to another bar.
The front door opens, everyone looks. A skinny kid in a long black coat, no shirt underneath, sunglasses on even as he makes his way through the gloom up to the stretch of polished mahogany, a relic of days when Frank’s was Frankie’s Place and the after crowd would hang here, talking about the play or orchestra or whatever the hell had gone on down at the Broad. Before the Broad closed and they all went away, leaving the junkies and people like Victor to fill in the empty spaces.
The kid's hair is greased, slicked back. Victor thinks the kids these days try too hard. He thinks this as he puts down his martini glass and cigarette and swivels up lipstick for a fresh coat.
He stares at the screen, waiting for the door to open again. The kid’s got a clique, no doubt. They’ll be in here any minute, loud, boisterous, annoying Frank’s regulars, who just want to drink their drinks and smoke their smokes and talk about how it isn’t like it used to be.
Another martini – no rocks, extra olives – appears at his elbow. He frowns at Danny. “What’s this?”
Danny grins. “You got an admirer.” He walks away. “There’s a fucking first for everything.”
“Fuck off,” tsks Victor after him, but he’s nervous. What does the kid want? He’s coming over, trying to sway, trying to make the most of the slim bit of chest he’s got, those matchstick hips. Twelve. He looks twelve to Victor. But then, they all do these days. Little boys.
“Hey. What’s your name?”
Victor could laugh at the dramatic huskiness the kid’s putting on. He puts a hand over his mouth, then says, “Victor. Thanks for the drink. Now kindly fuck off.”
The kid’s face falls. It’s a pretty face. Narrow, smooth, tanned. Dark eyes behind the cheap sunglasses. No. Victor will not fall for pretty boys that look Brazilian. He had enough of those seven years ago with Juan.
“I thought we could…”
“What? Talk? Go out back for a quick suck?” Victor rolls his eyes when the kid’s face momentarily lights up.
“I heard that…” The kid pauses. “I heard that this place, you know, Frank’s…”
“Yes, this is Frank’s.”
“You know. That sometimes, some guys. Uh.”
“How old are you?”
“That’s better. No lies.” He sips his martini and lowers his voice. “There are a lot of men in here who might be interested, but I’m not one of them.”
The kid shuffles closer. He smells like tanning lotion and Gaultier, dear god. He leans in. “Look. I’ve never done this before. You…”
“Look like I’ve done this before?”
The kid shrugs. He looks miserable.
Victor takes pity on the kid, who probably just got out of school after keeping his sexual orientation secret for four years. A kid who’s trying too hard, and doesn’t know the rules yet. And besides, he looks Brazilian.
The bathroom’s just behind them. Victor tips his head, the kid follows him. The light is dim yellow, the walls and ceiling burgundy rubber.
“What’s your name?”
“Well, Paul, there is a first for everything,” he says, and undoes the top button of the kid’s jeans.
He’s amazed, though he shouldn’t be. He’s forgotten what eighteen is like: the kid probably woke up hard, jerked off, and has been hard all day since.
“Lock the door,” whispers Paul.
Victor, already down on his knees, groans and shoots the kid a look for making him get up off his old knees. He locks the door. When he turns around, Paul is zipped back up. He starts to think the boy’s changed his mind, when it hits him. The kid’s fist. Left cheek. He goes down to one side, unable to defend himself – it’s happening too quick. Another blow. Another. He can’t call out. He’s got no breath to call out. His head knocks against the sink, and he tries to slip under it.
“I’m not a faggot.”
The blows have stopped. For the moment. Victor, hand over one side of his face, looks up. Paul is shaking.
“I’m not a faggot. Say it.”
Victor wipes a hand across his mouth, smearing blood and China Red. “You. Are not a faggot,” he says softly.
“No,” says the kid, staring down, wild-eyed. His thin chest heaves. He looks like he’s going to cry. He’s out the door, fumbling with lock, yanking it open and disappearing. The door shuts again, leaving Victor, the faggot, on the floor with a face full of pain. It’s not the first time. He wishes it was, but it’s not.
He thinks about Paul, running shirtless into the summer night, black coat flapping. No, it’s not the first time. It hasn’t been the first time for a long time now.
RS Bohn lives in a suburb outside of Detroit with a motley troupe of creatures and one lucky man. She's currently writing a steampunk novel, and you can find more of her shorter work here: http://rsbohn.blogspot.com/