Inside The Mind Of a Writer: “The Czar of Wilton Drive”
“This is one of those reads that just takes you along and dominates you as you read and you do not have to think about anything but getting lost in the story.”
Amos Lassen Reviews
While a good portion of it takes place in New York City, my novel “The Czar of Wilton Drive,” available on Amazon Barnes and Noble, is pure Lauderdale. I know. I lived most of it.
“Czar” is the story of Jonathan Antonucci, a 21 year old, barely out-the-closet gay man from suburban New York who overnight finds himself a multi-millionaire, thanks to a bequest by his late gay great uncle. Uncle Charlie has unexpectedly died of a heart attack, leaving him the sole owner of several of the most successful bars on Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale’s gay ghetto; hence the title.
Flying down to Lauderdale to claim his bequest, Jon encounters Uncle Charlie’s dubious friends and business associates, and is immediately submerged in Lauderdale’s scene of unbridled sex and heavy drugs. He also discovers his great uncle’s memoirs which reveal truths not only about Jon’s own past but also what may have really happened to his uncle.
In this excerpt from the book, Jon goes to attend a Celebration of Life for his late uncle hosted at the home of his attorney, Edward Applebee; Charlie in his will had requested that everyone dress in leather. Up to this point Jon has had a sweaty session with one of Uncle Charlie’s fuck buddies, Marcos, and has been introduced to the leather scene his uncle so loved by humpy Gil, the manager of the Gearshaft, the leather bar Jon inherited, who outfits him for tonight …
Eddie Applebee had said to be at his home off Victoria Park Road around seven but Jon decided not to leave the beach condo til 7:30. After all, while the Celebration of Life was for Uncle Charlie, Jon knew he was the real guest of honor, and he wanted to make sure everyone knew that too when he walked in. No more was he Jonathan Antonucci, Perkins waiter. He was Jonathan Antonucci, Czar of Wilton Drive.
Every oversize Spanish tiled ranch house on the block looked like it was worth at least a million bucks as Jon pulled up to Applebee’s and parked his BMW on the street. Applebee’s circular driveway was already loaded and there were cars, two Lexuses and a Landrover, on the lawn.
Jon’s first reaction as he walked in was how old everyone was. Hell, he knew most of them were Uncle Charlie’s age, give or take, but Charlie looked so vibrant and sexy and with it in all those dirty pictures of himself on his Samsung. These guys were old, tired, overweight, bald, wrinkled, and those that had leather on were wearing their harnesses like they were brasseries. One fat fuck who resembled an albino Buddha had the balls to walk around in a leather thong, his ass cheeks each the size of a watermelon.
“I’m Freddie, Eddie’s partner,” greeted the short, boney guy with a hillbilly beard and long stringy hair like some hippy that had been buried in 1969, then dug up. He was shirtless with a red armband on his right bicep, and his rib cage pressed through his leathery abs.
“So you’re the Folsom in Applebee and Folsom.”
“Aren’t you the astute young man?” replied Freddie dryly. A moment later, Eddie, who looked like an aging football player who had stopped taking his steroids and was dressed in chaps and a leather vest that stuck out like wings came over and gave Jon a hug.
“Let me take you around. Everybody is dying to meet you.”
As they entered the huge living room that overlooked the patio, the canal, and a boatless dock, the poster side picture of Uncle Charlie sitting on an easel by the fireplace immediately caught Jon’s eye. Charlie was decked out in his leather, wearing the same kind of harness Gil had outfitted Jon with. Only, hell, even though he must have been over sixty when that picture was taken, Charlie looked like most of these guys’ younger brother.
“Guess Gil told you Charlie, always the non-conformist, wanted his wake to be festive,” quipped Eddie. “He hated suits.”
“Yep, I know,” replied Jon, and with that he stripped off his tan polo shirt and slipped it through a belt loop on his jeans. He had heeded Gil’s advice and had decided to wear the bulldog after all.
For one golden moment, all the chit-chat ceased and just about everyone in the room turned to gawk. No lascivious smiles, just expressionless stares.
“Yes,” said Eddie with an admiring gaze, “if you weren’t blood, Charlie might have kept you.”
Jon smiled smugly. He knew he almost had.
In the crowd, there were Charlie’s partners in the Climax, seventy-five year old Bill whose walker was painted black, and his forty something other half Mel who resembled an aging Anthony Perkins who Jon remembered seeing in Psycho III on TV. He later learned Mel was being kept by Bill and was a co-partner in name only to screw IRS. Then there were a few former fuck buddies from Charlie’s New York days, now retired in sunny Florida, plus two beer distributors, Charlie’s accountant, Harry, the absent minded professor type wearing a tight, light gray rubber shirt and pants with a yellow stripe down the side, and a few obvious bar-fly, fair weather friends who were there to be nice and sponge off Eddie’s smorgasbord.
All pretty boring.
Jon could tell how a few of them were itching to paw his hairy chest but, after all, even if this was an upside-down Alice in Wonderland wake, Jon guessed there had to be some respect shown for the dead.
It was then that he caught a glimpse of Gil and Marcos chatting on the outside patio. As Eddie left him to make Bill and Mel drinks, Jon used the chance to see his two hot men.
“So how’s our favorite boy?” said Marcos with that sexy smile of his, who with his tan cargo pants and orange tank looked overdressed. Gil, on the other hand, had a black mesh T on that showed his hairy pecs off well, and boots and leather shorts. Oh, those hairy humpy legs of his.
“Still a bit bewildered,” said Jon.
“Welcome to Fort Lauderdale,” replied Marcos.
“So you guys come together? You’re not a couple are you?” asked Jon, not wanting to know.
“Nay, Eddie and I are practically neighbors,” said Marcos, laughing. “I could have walked here, but Gil’s clunker’s acting up again, so I offered to give him a ride over.”
With that, he gave Gil a nod, walked up and whispered in Jon’s ear, “Remember, sweat is good for the soul,” and went back inside.
“So what do you think of Charlie’s buddies?” asked Gil, gesturing Jon to sit beside him.
“Strange. I mean what gives with that rubber suit on Harry…”
“Latex,” corrected Gil.
“And that red armband Freddie is wearing…”
“He likes to get fisted. You know what that is?”
“Yea,” replied Jon. He could thank Uncle Charlie’s memours he had been reading off his laptop for that.
“Right on, bro, I mean Boss.”
“Well, there’s still a lot you have to teach me about this scene—this leather scene.”
“You have to admit I made a big hit with your bulldog here,” said Jon, pulling on one of its rings.
“I’d say so, and by the way, that’s the exact same harness your uncle was wearing when they took that picture of him at last year’s Leather Ball.”
“You mean he wore this?”
“Yea, so I guess besides being blood you got some of his DNA on you too.”
Gil grabbed his bottle of Coors Light from the patio table and took a slug.
“Listen, why don’t we ditch this gig and go back to my place where I can educate you some more?”
Jon’s cock, stiff from the moment he saw Gil and Marcos on the patio, definitely had a mind of its own.
“With or without my leather on?”
“Keep it on,” said Gil, getting up. “Though you sure as hell don’t need it.”
Why, he didn’t know, but Jon was hoping for some reaction from the first man he had ever laid with in his life who was standing at the bar chitchatting with the Albino Buddha. But Marcos didn’t even glance their way.
So just how did Marcos and Gil know one another? From the Gear Shaft? A threesome with Charlie? Or was he right, were they they’re own twosome, despite the fact they denied it?
Jon bid Applebee a thanks and good-bye, and by the time he and Gil had gotten to the door he could see from the living room’s panoramic bay window Marcos speeding away in his silver Lexus.
“So get comfortable,” said Gil as the two of them strolled into his studio, just as messy as the day before when Gil had him try on some leather outfits. “Gotta hit the head.”
Jon lay down on the air mattress, not knowing quite what to do or what to expect. All he knew is what he wanted.
The bathroom door was wide open and from his angle, Jon was able to see Gil in the vanity mirror. Pulling his mesh T off, he admired himself for a moment, then opened a drawer, pulled out what looked like a needle and stuck it very carefully in a vein of his arm. Jon watched the sudden rush on his face. Then as he turned to come out, Jon readjusted himself on the bed. Everything was so fast, Jon had no time to react to the moment. All that came immediately to his brain was the image Uncle Charlie had painted of his parents lying on that bed with needles sticking out of their arms.
Should he get up and leave?
Should he say anything?
Instead, Jon did nothing, waiting for the next cue from Gil.
“So you wanna smoke some stuff?” asked Gil casually as he reached over for a glass pipe. “You smoke before?”
“Grass, My j-o buddy Ernie and I would smoke a reefer before we started flipping through those profiles on Growl’r.”
“Same shit,” said Gil, holding a lighter under the glass globe of the pipe. “Just gives you a better high.”
Gil took a long puff, then handed the pipe over to Jon.
“Now move the globe back and forth a few times as I hold the lighter under it, take in a long puff, hold it in just a second or two, then let it out.”
Jon breathed in, then exhaled. Within seconds, a feeling of super-sensitivity enveloped him.
“I told you this stuff was better than grass.” Gil took a puff, placed the pipe down in an ashtray on a plastic patio table that served as a bed stand, then reached over and, as he pressed his lips against Jon’s, he exhaled into his mouth.
Jon fell flat on the bed, staring at the ceiling as he felt Gil’s fingers embrace every inch of him. It was as if an electric charge was pulsating through him wherever Gil touched, first stroking the hairs on his chest down to his abs, then his crotch. Then he lay on top of him and began rubbing their beards against one another in some ritual dance.
Gil was the most beautiful man he had ever seen and now he was his. Totally, completely, forever his.
Author’s Notes: In the book I attempted to illustrate the aging of the leather scene which I was a part of it at the height of its popularity in the seventies, eighties and nineties; Jon’s introduction to meth, also known by its street name, “Tina,” by Gil is indicative of the meth epidemic now going in in the gay community.
Next: An excerpt from my novella, “Buy Guys.”