Author: Richard May
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: August 17, 2020
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, Contemporary, romance, short stories, gay, bisexual, interracial, age-gap, slow burn, friends to lovers, BDSM, Dom/sub, humorous, multiple partners, priest, military, Native American, law enforcement, bereavement, daddy issues, men in uniform, Hanukkah
Twelve optimistic MM stories, one for every month of the year.
How do men meet? Each story is connected to a holiday or event—Epiphany, Valentine’s Day, Pi Day, Arbor Day, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, summer vacation, a rodeo, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, and Hanukkah—but may not be quite the celebration you’re expecting.
Neither may the men, and when these men meet, attraction does not always equal love—at least immediately—but chemistry finds a way.
Gay All Year
Richard May © 2020
All Rights Reserved
I never meant to live in San Francisco again, but here I was. At first, it was just a visit but when I saw how advanced the effects of my mother’s lung cancer were, I decided I couldn’t leave her to institutional caregivers and fly back to Boston, so I took a leave of absence, and then I telecommuted, and finally, my company offered me a transfer to the office in Menlo Park.
I also never expected to be inside a Catholic church again, but here I was. I had successfully avoided them in Boston, which is no easy trick when you’re Irish and raised Catholic. But now, I was back inside Saint Paul’s, fulfilling a deathbed promise to my mother. “Don’t blame God,” she had advised between wheezes and made me agree to go to mass. I wanted to scream. Of course, I blamed God and every fucking priest and every fucking Catholic in the world, but I bit my tongue and said I’d go, thinking her funeral mass would fulfill the promise. “And my funeral mass doesn’t count,” she’d said with the remainder of a twinkle in her eye. Trapped—and I didn’t even get to scream.
I had put it off for six months until I’d run into Mrs. Andreozzi on Tuesday past, and she’d mentioned Saint Paul’s had a new priest. “Very handsome,” she informed me as if that were enough of an inducement for a gay twentysomething male. And perhaps it was because the very next Sunday I entered the building, genuflected toward the altar, crossed myself, and took a seat in a pew.
There was an excellent turnout of ladies and gay men. And Mrs. Andreozzi was right: the new priest was very handsome. He was a tall man, with dark wavy hair combed straight back from his forehead, regular features, and noticeably wide shoulders. Nothing at all like Father Michael, with his thinning red hair, sallow complexion, and sagging jowls. I hoped he was different from Father Michael in other ways as well, for the altar boys’ sakes.
After mass, I tried to slip past the line of parishioners telling the new priest how much they liked this or that, but he stepped away from an older woman in midsentence to intercept me.
“Thank you for coming,” he said, barring my way with his conspicuous body and extended right hand. “Father Adrian Doyle.” I shook the hand hesitantly. Touching a priest was, and probably always would be, disgusting to me. Father Adrian’s hand was warm, but then so had been Father Michael’s.
“Stephen Kinney,” I said. The priest’s bright-blue eyes momentarily ceased sparkling. Apparently, he’d heard the name before. I’m sure he has, I thought with satisfaction.
“Good to see you, Stephen. See you next Sunday,” he said, his eyes recovering. He gave my hand a final shake and went back to his line of well-wishers. I walked outside without a commitment, continued down the steps to Church Street and around the second corner to my parents’ house. The park across the street was full of dogs, kids, and adult supervision. I had been one of those kids once upon a time.
I had mostly happy childhood memories and was on quite a nostalgia trip, integrating my things with those of my parents and grandparents. The park was certainly convenient for walking Boris, my mother’s old and needy dog. Why she wanted a Russian wolfhound neither my sister nor I quite understood. It had always been Irish setters while our father was alive. Still, after Mom passed, Anne Marie and I fought over who’d get custody of Boris. Nothing else in the estate mattered as much. I won because I was already walking the dog on a twice-daily basis, feeding him, and acting in loco parentis. My sister lived outside Chicago. If the trip east didn’t kill Boris, the Midwestern winter would.
Monday’s alarm woke me from disturbing dreams vaguely remembered. Men in black, oppressive shadows, Father Adrian naked. The latter image disturbed me most of all. I rushed to be vertical and tried to ignore my erection.
After struggling into jogging clothes, I opened the door for Boris’s stroll to the dog run. Immediately, an unfamiliar tenor yelled “Stephen!” at me. One of a crowd of runners passing by was waving. “Father Adrian!” he shouted in explanation, pointing at his chest, which was already eye-catching enough, even in a baggy sweatshirt. I waved back in a jerky side to side motion and watched the healthy bodies disappear. The priest’s butt was obvious in his skimpy running shorts, shifting left and right, left and right. Lustful thoughts came to mind. “Good God,” I said out loud. Boris whined. “Yes,” I agreed. “Let’s have none of that. Come on, boy.”
The old dog broke into an eager amble across the street. After a few minutes sniffing this fascinating scent, inhaling that arousing aroma, and doing his business, we recrossed the road. I let Boris in the front door and took off at a trot toward Sanchez. Of course, I ran into the Saint Paul’s joggers on their return trip.
“Join us!” the priest yelled, his tousled hair and happy face strong inducements. I heard several other runners second his call, which surprised me, given what I’d cost them. Misery loves company, I suppose, or maybe just following the lead of their priest. Still.
I was about to ignore all of them when someone dropped out of the line and yanked me into it. “Tony!” I yelped. Tony Rodriguez, the boy I’d had a crush on in sixth grade. The man who’d stood by me during the lawsuit. I assumed he’d left town. He hadn’t been at my mother’s funeral, and I hadn’t run into him at Safeway or Royal Cleaners.
“I’ve been in Iraq, and Marylee was at her mother’s,” he exclaimed as if he read minds. Oh, right. He was in the National Guard.
I took up the rhythm of the run, Tony’s admirable thighs racing alongside mine.
“Aren’t you almost done?” I asked, looking for an escape route.
“I wish,” he said, flashing the ten-thousand-dollar smile Dr. Davis of Twenty-fourth Street had given to both of us.
I looked ahead at the priest. “What do you think of the new guy?”
“He’s good,” Tony said, between inhales and exhales. “Up on technology.”
“I thought his Epiphany homily was good,” I said. “Especially the part about everyday epiphanies.”
Tony nearly stopped running. “You went to mass?” he said, looking at me as if I were lying.
“I promised my mother.”
“Uh huh,” Tony grunted. Then he gave me a grin. “And Father Adrian is a good-looking dude,” he said. Just as quickly, his face collapsed in dismay. “I’m sorry, Steve.”
I kept looking ahead, which is what I’d told myself to do after I stopped going to church. The priest’s butt was obscured by those of less worthy men. “No worries,” I told him, but it might not have been loud enough for Tony to hear. In any case, we talked of other things before he peeled off for home a few blocks later.
“Be sure to call me about that beer!” he yelled. I gave him a thumbs-up. If only he were gay, I thought for the thousandth time.
The rest of us finally reached the steps of Saint Paul’s. No one else had spoken to me since Tony had left for home and a shower. At the church, I meant to follow his example, but Father Adrian held me back. “If you ever want to talk,” he said. His fingers gripped my arm with familiar strength and uncomfortable insistence.
“I did my talking to the attorneys,” I replied and pulled out of his grasp. His face was even more handsome when less under control.
“My offer stands,” he said, his lovely mouth now grim. “Don’t let the crimes of a few evil men get in the way of your relationship with God.”
I laughed in his face. “A few? See you later, Father.” I trotted south without looking back.
I had been a cute, blond-haired boy of nine when I came under Father Michael’s auspices. I was twenty-four when I organized other boys who’d become his prey to sue the diocese. There had been a settlement; the church knew it couldn’t win. I bought the condo in Boston with my portion of the proceeds.
However, later that day, Father Adrian’s offer was codified in a text.
Good to see you at church, Stephen. Hope you’ll be with us again next Sunday. And, if you want to talk, my door is always open.
He gave me a phone number. The question was, how did he get mine?
I should have deleted the text but didn’t. I was impressed he spelled my name correctly and by his follow-up. In fact, I kept rereading it until I finally called the number. Mary Flannery answered. She had been the parish secretary for decades. After I said my name, there was a pause before Mary responded.
“Is Father expecting your call?” she asked with an icy edge.
“Yes,” I said.
“Is this still about—” she began but hushed herself. “Just a moment, Stephen.” She put me on hold. I wondered how much it cost her to say my name.
“Stephen!” Father Adrian’s happy voice shouted into the phone. Credit him for enthusiasm.
“I’d like to have that talk,” I said.
“Good,” he answered after taking a quick breath. “Good,” he repeated more optimistically. “After mass? Which one do you—”
“I’ll see you Sunday at noon,” I told him. “On the steps.”
“Better make it twelve thirty in my office.”
“No!” I said, much too loudly. Mary Flannery might have heard me, if she were listening. I had no intention of being alone with a priest ever again.
“Where then?” he asked, sounding irritated.
“In the park. Twelve thirty is fine.”
Meet the Author
Richard May’s short fiction has been published in his collections Inhuman Beings: Monsters, Myths, and Science Fiction and Ginger Snaps: Photos & Stories (with photographer David Sweet) and numerous anthologies and literary periodicals. Rick also organizes two book readings at San Francisco bookstores, the Word Week annual literary festival, and the online book club Reading Queer Authors Lost to AIDS. He lives in San Francisco.
Author Q & A
Q: When Did You Start Writing?
A: In the third grade in Mrs. Sheets’ class. She gave us these big lined pads, maybe three feet wide by four feet long, with a large open space at the top. She told us to draw a picture and write a story about it. It’s a technique I still use to this day.
Q: What Did You Draw and Write?
A: I drew a dachshund chasing a hat down the street on a windy day. The story was the wind had blown the hat off the dog’s owner’s head. He told the dog to fetch, and fido was trying to do just that. Very compelling.
Q: Tell Us More About How You Write
A: The technique’s still pretty much the same. Visuals tell me stories. It can be a photo, a drawing, a painting, screen shots, a dream, a memory. Anything visual. The visual starts dictating the story and I write it down as fast as I can. Then I revise over and over and over. I read the story out loud to myself and to trusted friends–fellow writers. You hear all the wrong notes when you read out loud.
Q: When and Where Do You Write?
A: Since I started publishing books that has changed some. While I was working 9 to 5, I got up an hour early or wrote while I commuted. In New York and San Francisco, I had long public transportation trips to and from the office. I worked in publishing as an editor, book sales rep., contracts manager, and sales director. I sold subsidiary rights to tv and print media. I made sure authors got paid. It was a wonderful life for the most part.
My plan B for retirement was to write three hours in the a.m. and do volunteer work in the afternoon, but saying no has never been a strong point for me so volunteering took more and more of my time. I joined two writers groups to make sure I reserved some time to create new stories. I worked on Gay All Year in those groups, using the time to begin a story and get some feedback on its potential, then work on it on my own during the rest of the week. I sent stories out as fast as I could to magazines and in response to anthology calls. Other writers were surprised at my acceptance percentage, but it was more persistence than outstanding literary ability recognized immediately by all. I sent stories out repeatedly. Thank goodness we don’t have to buy stamps and envelopes anymore!
Now I’m always writing stories for the next collection. I rarely submit individual stories anywhere.
It would be great to get back to writing three hours every morning but, in the short term at least, that doesn’t look likely to happen. I do write at my desk for whatever time I can budget. Almost always in the morning. My brain is really sharp after a night’s sleep and a strong cup of coffee. I write or revise something everyday, even if the time I have is only ten or fifteen minutes. I find I cheat anyway. Who needs lunch?
Q: What Are You Working on Now?
A: The collection I’m working on now is writing a whole book of myths with a Queer bent. I’m researching myths, folk tales, and religious writing from different cultures, then taking the situation or characters and putting them in a new story with a modern context. In most cases, I’m not working from visuals, which is different for me.
I’ve written one story I especially like, based on a legend from my Choctaw heritage. I included a Shawnee story in my second collection. Other new collection stories so far include an Irish warrior god, a Korean story about virgin ghosts, and a Greek male naiad, which I know is a misnomer.
I’m also working on a novel in stories, which is a genre I enjoy reading. Ivan and Misha by Michael Alenyikov and A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan are two of my favorite contemporary novels. They both use this format.
I worked in publishing for decades so I know agents and publishers want you to work on three books at a time: writing one, editing another, and promoting a published third. I know people do this year after year. My friend Cara Black, mystery writer par excellence, does. I couldn’t imagine it but at the moment I’m promoting one collection, finishing editing another one, and writing a third. If I had an agent, they’d be happy. My editor has asked to see Because of Roses, the new manuscript. I hope she’ll be happy after she reads it.
Q: Why Do You Write Stories and not Novels?
A: I could show you three and a half unpublished novels which would graphically—and quickly—show you why I don’t write novels. With stories, I can be a pantser. With novels, I’d have to be a planner and knowing the ending and how to get there would make writing too mechanical for me. I’ve tried it both ways. My three completed unpublished novels were written using the pantser technique. Each has a pretty good beginning and a not-bad ending but a very saggy middle. I wrote the half finished novel by plotting and planning. I didn’t finish it because I got bored.
In truth, I write stories because that’s the way my writing goes. I get an idea, jump somewhere into the middle of the tale, and stop before I reach a tidy ending. I want to leave the reader imagining what happened next or whether the couple wound up together in the long run. Because I’m an optimist, in my mind they always do but never perfectly, never happily ever after. I try to plant the seed of future conflict and maybe even failure. Relationships don’t necessarily last until death do us part.
The novel in stories I’m working on is an accident. I wrote a story which seemed to foreshadow another one, then that led to another, and I realized they were chapters, not stories. Pretty soon I had the middle of a novel, which is the hard part for me. I think I can write the beginning and the ending fairly easily. I always have before.
Here’s an interesting anecdote. At least, I hope it is. Years ago, when NineStar Press was just starting, I sent my second story collection to them. An editor responded that they didn’t publish story collections, but would I consider turning the story about a Scottish ghost into a novel? I tried, oh how I tried. And failed. When it came time to send out collection #3, this one, I noticed several of my literary friends and acquaintances publish books with NineStar and NineStar has quite a few story collections on their list now so I decided to give it a go. Tah dah!
Q: Which Authors Have Influenced Your Writing?
A: Many but especially Jane Austen because she wrote in simple, straightforward language and created memorable characters. She’s excellent at dialogue. She writes with considerable humor, sometimes broad, often subtle. She writes about romance and isn’t afraid of a happy ending. Try reading Thomas Hardy. You’ll slit your wrists.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, Katherine Mansfield, and D.H. Lawrence are all great short story authors I admire, although I don’t try to emulate him. They were literary writers, with quirky plots and tortured characters. Not for me. But I did learn the importance of telling a good story from them.
My father was quite a good storyteller. Maybe it’s genetic.
My favorite novel is War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. It beats out even Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion by Austen. I learned the same lessons from Tolstoy I learned from Austen. Tell a good story. War and Peace is such a big story with so much characters, so much plot, so much place! Everything in tons. But it’s still stories, people’s lives woven into a larger story of a culture at a certain time.
Q: What Are You Reading?
At this very moment? The Blue Star by Robert Ferro. It’s for the online book club I organize, Reading Queer Authors Lost to AIDS.
I read mainly history, novels, and short stories. I’m fascinated by World War One. I read about classical cultures and anthropology. Russian novelists of the 19th Century: Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Turgenev. My master’s study focussed on the Transcendentalists—Hawthorne, Emerson, Melville, Dickinson, and the like—and I still admire their writing, although I don’t reread them. I did start Moby Dick five times but only finished it once so I don’t suppose that counts.
The exception to no rereading is Pride and Prejudice. I read that once a year, especially if I need a good laugh. I’ve been rereading it regularly the last four years.
I do read contemporary works. Colm Toibin, Cara Black, Gail Tsukiyama. I admire the Gay romances of my friend Rob Rosen immensely. He writes with panache and humor and so fast. One year I think he had three new books out—and he has a regular job! I read every detective novel by Laura Joh Rowland. I haven’t seen any lately. Kirsten Chen and Anne Raeff are friends and excellent writers. I read everything they write. I love the work of my partner, Wayne Goodman. He has such a clever imagination and digs up the most amazing material in his research.
What’s your favorite color? Red. Duh.
Favorite thing to eat: Anything with chocolate, closely followed by bread
Favorite city to live in: New York
Favorite city to visit: Paris
Favorite animal: cats. I have two at the moment: Charlie and Punky, both males. Charlie is Gay and Punky is straight, which creates some problematic situations.
Favorite song: Theme from “Mondo Cane”
Favorite music: Classical and opera
Favorite composer/s: Chopin and Brahms. My favorite opera is “La Boheme.” I cry every time.
Favorite TV series: Masterpiece
Favorite movie star:
Living: Jennifer Anniston. She got me started on dirty martinis.
Dead: Clark Gable. I always wanted to be Clark Gable
Favorite movie: I’m still big on Tarzan movies.
Favorite newsperson: Rachel Maddow. Chris Cuomo a distant second on beauty alone.
Fish or fowl?: Fish
First car: a Rambler. It went a maximum of 57.5 mph.
Best friend: author Michael Alenyikov
Siblings: two living—Susan White and Carolyn Dobervich
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