Confessions of a V.D. Investigator

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Confessions of a V.D. Investigator is approximately seventy-five thousand words in length and fits in Commercial Fiction. It is set in an American city during the gay revolution of the Seventies and Eighties, a time in America when many gay men and women were no longer willing to hide their sexuality behind closed doors or continue to hide from life. It was the time when the gay culture came out of from the whispers and closets and said hello to the rest of America. With it came gay music and gay clubs where thousands could dance and party. It also brought an explosion of sexually transmitted diseases which began to spread throughout all of America, crossing over from the gay community to mainstream America. The task to stop these diseases fell to Public Health, from the Center for Disease Control to state agencies and local health departments. Confessions of a V.D. Investigator centers around three Disease Control Investigators, Joe, Gina and Jonathan, working in a free public health clinic fighting the spread of disease through education, interviewing and investigating cases and contacts, sometimes with only a name or physical description. A

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Chapter 1

The man waiting in the interview room was about thirty-five years of age, medium build, well groomed, dressed in a blue suit and acted like he had someplace, anyplace, else to be. He was nervous, more than nervous, upset, and continually looked at his watch as if time would move faster if he did. At times, he seemed to be talking to himself, lecturing himself sternly.

He’d tested positive for gonorrhea, received treatment and now was waiting to be interviewed about his ‘infection’. The door opened as another man holding a file walked into the room. He was slightly disheveled, his tie yanked down, his top button open. He had a full beard, thinning hair and looked like a weightlifter.

“Mr. Jones, my name is Joe Mehan and I need to talk to you about your visit to the clinic today,” Joe looked up from the chart he was holding, smiled, shook hands and sat down.

“How are you doing?” Joe asked after he’d made eye contact.

“Okay, but I don’t have a lot of time, so I’d like to get out of here as soon as possible” Mr. Jones’ voice was half-pleading, half-asking.

“I understand,” Joe gave him a big smile, “but we do need to talk about some things before you go.” Joe didn’t wait for a response and he’d already noticed the mark from the missing ring on Mr. Jones’ finger. There were simple rules to follow in the interview; make sure you continually get eye contact especially when asking a question and never ask back to back questions unless the floodgates had opened. And read the ‘tells’.

“Mr. Jones,” Joe paused waiting until he had eye contact, “Barry, isn’t it? Barry nodded his yes. Joe knew that body language and physical reactions would tell him as much as any words he heard. More importantly it might just tell Joe when he was hearing lies. Interviewing was a lot like playing poker. You look for changes in posture, expression, repetitive mannerisms, eye movement or other ‘tells’ that people do when they lie. The easiest tell was a look down and to the left on a lie and most people did it, probably the result of our childhood training that a lie was bad. For whatever reason most people have this tell if you look for it.

In the end, the key for Joe was to get Barry to fold his ‘hand’, so to speak, and tell him the truth about his infection. With Sexually Transmitted Disease it wasn’t just about the disease but the sex and passion that came along with it. Barry looked at his watch.

“Listen, I’ve been here a long time and I really need to go,” Barry looking at his watch, his shoulders were tight and he was leaning slightly forward in the chair, showing he was nervous and tense which wasn’t uncommon for someone who’d just been diagnosed with Gonorrhea. At the same time noticed Barry kept staring at his hands in his lap. They were relaxed and open..

“I understand,” Joe replied. “Barry, you’ve tested positive and received treatment for Gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease. Do you know very much about Gonorrhea?” Joe asked as he opened the file and began writing. Joe figured he’d draw a big dick for Barry, because Joe thought he’d end up being a big dick about the whole thing. The three investigators used their pictures of dicks to convey what they thought of the guy interviewed and investigated making the dick pic a rating of attitude and cooperation, rating of them as a person who’s a persona of the dick they carried around with them, on the inside.

“No,” Barry looked Joe straight in the eyes Joe while Joe drew a dick as big as possible, the tip in the top left corner and the accompanying balls in the bottom right corner. Joe always thought that if you drew a dick you had to draw the balls while Gina’s slick, artsy drawings were of dicks without any attachments. Jonathan preferred the scientific anatomically correct dick, but the size was the key to understanding the type of dick you were dealing with, that is, if he truly was a big dick or not.

“First, I need to ask you, how were you treated during the visit to our clinic?”

“Fine.” Barry looked directly at Joe and his body relaxed a little in the chair while his hands rested in his lap.

“Were all your questions answered?” Joe continued to study. These questions elicited truthful answers mainly because there was no reason to lie, but Joe had learned that in this room, everyone lied. Even him, if he had to, to get what he needed.

“Yes, they were,” Barry looked at his watch again, the let his hands drop motionless in his lap.

“This was your first visit to the clinic?” Joe asked, watching him.

“Yes” with a jiggle of keys and look to the down to the left. That probably was a lie. Joe knew he was going to be a really big dick.

“And you were diagnosed with Gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease?”


“But you don’t know very much about the disease?” Joe asked.


Joe pushed his picture of a dick in front of Barry and reached over and added the urethra tube from the tip to the balls, “Gonorrhea is spread through sexual contact, in your case; I believe you developed a painful discharge from your penis, correct?” Barry nodded yes and Joe continued to make notes in the chart then added Xs in the tube from the tip of the big dick to a quarter down.

“It started yesterday,” Barry offered. Barry he looked directly at him making good eye contact, no eyes wandering around the room no tightness in his body, no nervous movements.

“Hurt like hell, didn’t it?” Barry smiled a little and his body relaxed a little more in the chair. “In a way, you were lucky,” Joe went back to the drawing, adding bigger Xs in line down the urethra.

“Do you know what the Xs represent?” Joe didn’t wait for and answer, “ they represent scar tissue. The Gonorrhea tears up the flesh it contacts, leaving scar tissue that could interfere with urination, painfully interfere” Barry looked alarmed. Joe went back to drawing and continued making X’s right down into the balls.

“If it reaches your testicles, or” Joe added a bladder to the picture, “ then your bladder, well, you are developing serious health problems, serious pain, the type that makes you cry like a baby.” Barry just sat there, staring at the picture with an ‘I’m so screwed’ look on this face.

“Did I mention the pain?” Joe asked, laughing a little meanly, while he pulled his chair closer to the table. “Now, your infection was caught quickly, meaning you shouldn’t have any future problems with this infection” Joe gave Barry a reassuring smile and pat on the back, then sat back in his chair.

“Many people infected, especially women, may not develop any physical symptoms at all, allowing the infection to spread and cause serious health complications. Usually, it is men that develop symptoms, but again, not all of men have symptoms. If symptoms do appear, usually it’s within one to three days, but can be as early as one day or as late as thirty days for any symptoms to develop.” Joe drew a line next to the dick and put the critical days and dates on it. Joe continued as he checked Barry’s body language. He was relaxed and paying attention, making good eye contact with Joe. Maybe he wasn’t such a big dick after all, Joe thought.

“Barry, what is the average number of days before a man usually develops symptoms?” Joe was asked for two reasons; to see if he was paying attention and to note his mannerisms on a question he answered that Joe knew was true.

“You said three to five days, but it can be zero to thirty days,” as Barry talked Joe noticed everything he could about Barry’s answer, the tone of his voice, his body language, the movement of his hands or feet and especially, his eyes.

“Yes, that is correct, very good Barry. If you fall within the average, and your discharge started yesterday, Tuesday, then it is probable that you were infected sometime last week, probably Thursday, Friday or Saturday.” Joe went back to the drawing and added dates while he watched for Barry’s reaction knowing that Barry was thinking about who it was right now. If he was going to volunteer the information and give it up easy, it would be now but Barry didn’t say anything which was a bad sign. Barry hunched forward and looked at the hands which were clenched. Joe knew he didn’t want to give up his sexual contacts and Barry was going to be definitely a dick.

“Of course, the infection could have been up to thirty days earlier,” Joe redrew the line he had made, wrote and circled a date thirty days earlier on the piece of paper. “Let’s break it down. How many sexual contacts have you had in during these days?” Joe drew a square over the last three days, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“No one,” Barry replied, looking down to the left, breaking eye contact, his right hand ‘jiggling’ in his lap. Barry was lying, which meant he was trying to hide something. It could be an affair or a one night stand or maybe he’d had sex only with his wife, but, knowing the probabilities, Joe figured that the contact was another man. That was where Gonorrhea was in epidemic proportions, in the gay community. In the last year alone, the number of diagnosed cases had tripled. Joe put down the pencil, folded his arms and leaned back in his chair, not saying anything but not staring at Barry. He waited a while until he looked at Barry started to say something but stopped. Without saying anything Joe was going to take control of the conversation and the investigation. He’d done it a hundred times. He just waited for Barry to say something.

“Maybe I got it from a toilet seat?” Barry, the idiot, spoke, “I can’t remember anyone” he finally added, looking everywhere but directly at Joe.

“Barry,” Joe laughed, ’the only way you can get Gonorrhea from a toilet seat is if you’re sitting on a toilet seat when you had sex with a person infected with Gonorrhea.” Joe raised his hands and made a loud growling sound startling Barry, “Barry, I don’t think you’re being honest with me or yourself and that is going to cause problems, big problems, for you, your sexual partners, and the health department, and especially me and will definitely take it out on you.”

“Maybe it was earlier, like you said,” Barry offered in defense as he tapped his foot.

“Okay, then what is the name of the person you had sex with last? Barry looked down not answering, “are you married Barry?” Joe asked

Barry hesitated and glanced to the left. “No, I’m not.” Joe could see his leg start moving under the table.

“Barry, before we go down the wrong road, let me explain a few things to you, okay?” the intensity in Joe’s voice was soft but growing as he leaned forward in his chair. Now was the time to force Barry to tell him the truth.

“Barry, look at me,” Joe said, reaching over the table and patting his hand.

“I’m here to fight a disease, to help people like the young woman who may never be able to have children because of her unknown and untreated case of Gonorrhea has scarred her fallopian tubes and keeps her fertilized egg from moving down and implanting in her uterus, and,” Joe paused, “ it can kill her,” Joe scooted his chair forward again, “ the egg can be fertilized in the fallopian tube and begin to grow. It’s called an Ectopic Pregnancy. Sometimes the pregnancy bursts the Fallopian tube and the woman dies.” Joe looked at him, “or the man who can’t take a piss without pain the rest of his life because of permanent scar tissue in his penis due to an untreated infection,” Joe paused to say the next words with more emphasis, “ maybe because someone sitting where you, right now, didn’t tell an investigator, like me, the truth. What you say is confidential, only between you and me, and your name is kept confidential in the investigation, we never say Barry told me, although, quite honestly, sometimes it’s not too difficult to figure out who probably gave it to you, you probably know who gave it to you right now” Joe pointed down at the time line he had drawn. “You have to tell me the truth so we can identify the chain of infection, control this disease and stop those bad things from happening.” Joe waited again until he caught a look of realization. “Gonorrhea can be a debilitating disease, Barry, and I’m going to do everything I can to stop it, and I need your help, okay?” Barry nodded his head. “The only thing you have to do is tell me the truth, do you understand” Joe was staring a hole through him as Barry nodded his head again. “So, when you tell me that you’re not married when I can look at your finger and see you wear a ring, I either have to think you’re an asshole or you just made a mistake you won’t do again,” Joe pointed at him, “don’t lie to me, Barry.” Joe waited a moment, “because, if you do, I guarantee you will regret it” Joe’s look added to the implied threat. Suddenly, Joe clapped his hands.

“Okay, let’s start again. In that time period, approximately the 10th, Thursday to yesterday, who did you have sexual contact with? And, remember, this is confidential, even the people you name don’t know you named them- so, who did you have sexual contact with?” Joe asked, pen in hand.

“Bob. His name was Bob. I met him at a club, downtown, I was out with a friend, and we went back to his place. He’s the only one.” His leg was moving under the table. Maybe he was only kinda lying.

“What type of sexual contact did you have?”

“Why does that matter?” Barry ‘the idiot’ spoke again.

“Barry, we’re discussing Gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease. If you had anal intercourse with Bob, then we know where to look for the infection.” Barry just shook his head yes. “So let’s make it easy okay, you just focus on giving a truthful answer to my questions, okay?”

“Okay, you had anal intercourse?” Joe wanted to confirm. Again, a nod.

“Bottom or top?” Joe asked, but Barry looked confused by the question and Joe realized he was a newbie in the lifestyle. “Did you put your penis in his anus?” That was as clear as Joe could be. Barry nodded yes.

“Any other sexual contact?” Joe asked

“He went down on me, at the beginning…”

“He took your penis into his mouth?” Barry nodded yes. “Then that stopped and you had anal intercourse with you being the top or the one who inserted his penis in Bob’s anus,” Barry shook his head yes, looking Joe in the eyes with no little twitches of untruth.

“Did you wear a condom?”


“Actually, Barry, I knew that answer already, Barry, because if you had worn a condom we probably wouldn’t be having this discussion” Joe looked for and acknowledgement but all he got was a blank stare. “And that is all of the sexual contact you had with Bob?” Barry was back to nodding yes.

“Is that all you need to know?” Barry should have been a little smarter than that.

Joe continued to talk to him in a calm voice. “We’ll get to that, but what was Bob’s last name?”

“I can’t remember.” He looked at Joe as he said it. Maybe he didn’t remember.

“Do you have a phone number?”

“Yes, but not with me, it’s at work.” Joe could see Barry’s mind starting to work back to his real problems

.“What’s your work number?” For a moment Barry hesitated, not wanting to give it.

“And your name is Barry Jones?” Joe was smiling at him but his face showed his disbelief. He was hoping Barry would start telling him the truth or this interview was going to take a long time and go nowhere.

“No,” Barry said. “It’s really Barry Woley, honest.” He was looking directly at Joe.

“Good, Okay. And what is your work number?” Joe pushed a blank of piece of paper and pen in front of Barry. Barry gave Joe the number and as he wrote it down he pointed to the piece of paper.

“Barry, I know you said you only had one contact, but want you to take a moment and think about it, then write the names of the people you have had sexual contact with in the last 30 days; name, date you had sex, address and phone if you have it. I need to step out of the room for a moment. Can I bring you a glass of water?” Joe asked as he stood up. Barry smiled a weak smile and nodded yes. Joe knew that Barry was already emotionally drained from the ‘V.D. experience’ like so many others and they hadn’t even gotten to the hard part. Joe needed to give him a moment to catch his breath. Besides, he had to make a phone call. He walked back to the bullpen to his desk and dialed the number Barry had given him.

“Good Afternoon, Hartford and Sons. How may I help you?”

“I’d like to speak to Mr. Barry Woley, please.” Joe asked.

“I’m sorry, Barry’s not in the store at the moment. Can anyone else help you?”

“No, thank you, I’ll call back. Thank you.” Joe was writing the company’s name and number in the file. Maybe this interview would go okay Joe thought as he grabbed a Dixie cup of water from the cooler and went back to the interview room.

“Barry, I need you call this number and leave Bob’s number on my voice mail”, Joe handed him the water and his investigator card. Without waiting for an answer, Joe sat down and looked at the paper. Only Bob’s name was on it.

“What did Bob look like?”

“I can’t remember.” Joe ignored the answer. Barry was sitting there, trying to hold back the emotions that were running through him. Joe knew he had to get his mind off of everything else.

“Barry, I have to know what he looks like so I can find him.” Barry nodded.

“He had a small mole on his left cheek, I think,” Barry said.

“How tall was he?”


“Hair color?”


“Does he wear his hair long or short?”


“What type of style?”

Barry looked up, confused.

“Was it a crew cut, parted…”Joe used his hands to indicate tell me more.

“Short, and the ends are tinted white, he parts it on the right side, I think.” Barry answered and Joe thanked him again for his help. Barry’s body was saying he was telling the truth.

“Mustache, beard, sideburns?”


“What type, long, short, fat…?” Joe continued to ask quick, easy questions so Barry didn’t have to think, just answer.

“Where does he live?”

“I don’t know. He drove.” Joe could tell Barry was starting to think about his own problems again and it showed in the way he answered.

“What kind of car?”

“A Toyota Tundra, blue” Barry answered.

“Barry, about where did Bob live?” Joe asked and poked him to get his attention. “How far from the club?”

“Not far, up on a hill.”

“What was the name of the club?”


Joe knew the club, one of the new, hot gay clubs located on the north edge of downtown, below the “gay” area near Capitol Hill, known to everyone at the clinic as Queer Hill.

“I know the place, Joe answered. “It has a great sound system, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, I guess, Barry responded. “Listen, I”.. Joe cut hit off mid-sentence.

“Barry, who else did you have sexual contact with last Thursday, Friday, Saturday?”

“Just Bob,” Barry was still looking down when he answered.

“Barry, I just don’t believe you”, Joe answered, putting the folder and his pen down. Joe folded his arms and stared at him, not angrily but like a teacher waiting for a correct answer. Joe waited a moment, letting Joe’s changed attitude sink into Barry.

“I’m not here to judge you. I’m here to stop a disease from spreading, Barry, from it hurting people. Now, if I had to call it, I’d say you went to Patches, with at least one friend, maybe more, to see what it was like. Then, you meet Bob and, of course, he was probably there with friends as well, probably party guys and probably lot of fun. A few drinks, then you all went back to Bob’s….am I right?” Barry nodded that he was right.

“Good, Barry.” Joe continued. “Based on my experience, you had more sexual contacts than just one and why you’re not telling me, I don’t know. I’ve explained that what we discuss is confidential and you agree that we need to get everyone that could be infected tested and treated, so I’m going to ask the question again: Who did you have sex with Thursday, Friday or Saturday?”

“I don’t know his name.” Barry was almost crying when he said it and Joe could see the tears welling up in his eyes.

“A friend of Bob’s?” Joe picked up his pen and pad.


Joe started to go through the questions that would provide a description of the no name contact; Five foot eleven inches, long blonde hair, parted down the middle and a goatee.

“You had sex with how many people Friday night?”

“Just those two, I swear to God,” Barry looked like a kid who was telling the truth about a lie. Barry had his head in his hands and looked as if it was the end of the world.

“Okay,” Joe saw that Barry was lost in thoughts of his own problems and tapped him on the arm with the pen to get his attention. “Who else?”

“No one.” Barry answered. His eyes were down, his brow furrowed, his hands nervously moving in his lap. He was lying.

“What about your friend? The one you went to the club with?” Joe had his pen in hand ready to write his name. Barry shook his head yes but gave a date two weeks earlier.

“Did your friend have sex with Bob? Joe asked and Barry nodded yes.

“What is his name?” Joe peppered him with questions, getting the information easily, quickly. Now it was time to switch gears and go after the hard part.

“Have you in the last thirty days had sexual contact with you wife?” Joe asked and added, “Barry, I know you’re married and you know you’re married.”

“How do you know I’m married?” he looked scared.

“I told you, you took your ring off, but anyone can tell you wear one most of the time.” Joe pointed to the ring finger on his left hand that showed an indentation from a ring.

“When was the last time?” Joe asked the question again.

“It’s been a while.”

“How long a while?”

“Two months. She just had a baby.” Barry looked away and Joe knew he was starting to get ashamed.

“Congratulations! Boy or Girl?” Joe asked, putting his pen down.

“Boy.” Barry added looking a little shocked at Joe’s positive response.

“I have two daughters, so we both know what it’s like to be a Dad, it’s the greatest thing in the world,” Joe reached over and gave him a little squeeze on the shoulder.

“Let’s go over the time period, Barry and make sure we’ve identified everyone, okay?”


Joe took him through the entire thirty days. Only Bob, his unnamed friend and the other friend were named. Joe carefully explained the consequences of not giving him all the names, how the infection will just come back, that there was no way to wish it away, but Barry continually said he hadn’t had sex with his wife for over a month. Since his wife didn’t fall into the critical period she wasn’t valid contact, if Barry was telling the truth, so Joe explained that she should have a culture done at her next Doctor’s visit. Joe never stopped asking questions, trying to get as much information as possible because this was his best chance to get it, maybe the only chance to get it. Finally, when he thought he’d gotten all the information he could, Joe confirmed that Barry would leave the phone number for Bob on his voice mail, and show up for a follow up appointment for a TOC, a ‘Test of Cure’ culture, to make sure that the infection was gone. Joe stressed absolutely no sex and no drinking until the TOC came back negative. Many diagnosed cases would come back with a positive TOC which meant that all the ‘at risk’ contacts were not identified and the patient would have to be interviewed again.

Barry and Joe shook hands at the end of the interview and Joe thanked him for his cooperation.

“You know, Barry, this is just a disease you came in contact with. We’ll follow the chain of infection as far as we can, but you can protect yourself and everyone you have sexual contact with. You should start using a condom for any sexual activities outside your marriage. Right now is a critical time for you probably in a lot of ways, but there are worse things in life. I want you to begin using condoms for any sexual activities outside your marriage; it may save you from having some problems in the future, especially in exposing your wife to possible infection”…Joe looked at him to try and get a response but Barry looked dazed, drained and confused. The ‘V.D. experience’ was an intense experience for everyone.

“Yeah, I know. I just don’t know what I’m going to do,” Barry answered in a pitiful voice, shaking his head.

Joe waited a moment before answering. He could tell him not to screw up his life because some little queer had sex with him. Don’t throw away a life because he’d been given a taste of the ‘gay’ life. He had a life, a wife and baby son, he could make love to a woman, get sexually aroused by her, have a son, so he sure as hell could live the straight life. Did he think every guy that went to prison and screwed some queer was gay? Maybe it was just getting your rocks off- sex, pure and simple. The problem was, nothing was pure and simple when it came to sex. Of course, Joe didn’t know if any of that was true or not and that was the problem. He didn’t know if Barry was gay or a queer. That was the critical question and that was up to Barry. But Joe knew the rules of investigating; stay on the disease, identify sexual contacts, get enough information to locate them, get them tested and treated. Don’t talk about lifestyles or choices or anything else; focus on the disease, identify the contacts.

“Hey, I don’t think many of us know what we’re going to do all the time, certainly not what we should do every minute of our life. I do know having a kid is an awesome responsibility, regardless of anything else in your life. As long as you do right for your son, for the people counting on you, you’ll be doing pretty well.” Joe patted him on the back

“You have how many kids?” Barry asked, embarrassed he couldn’t remember what Joe had told him.

“Two girls and they are the loves of my life. Barry, no one can live your life, they can just tell you how to live your life, but when it comes down to it, only you can live it. I wish you luck in resolving the questions you’re having.” Barry was nodding his head but Joe knew he was holding back the tears.

“What should I do?” now Barry was almost crying again.

“I can’t tell you that, Barry, only you can tell you that” Joe didn’t want to get into this and stood up walking toward the door. Barry didn’t stop.

“I feel different things now, things I never felt before. Is that wrong?” Barry looked at him for an answer.

“I don’t know” was Joe’s short reply.

“It’s intoxicating, you know?” Barry didn’t pause for an answer, “ it’s so different, so exciting, the life, the sex. I always had ideas about it, even when I was young,” he looked at Joe.

“What do you think, Joe, I’d like to know?” Barry wasn’t going to let it drop.

“Barry, let me tell you a joke, okay?” Barry looked at Joe quizzically and, without waiting for an answer, Joe started telling the joke.

“This sailor gets knocked overboard during a storm and washes up on an island. It doesn’t take long to realize that he’s not the only sailor who has ended up on the island and there are more than a few dozen of them stranded there. As one of the long time shipwrecked sailors gives him .a tour of the island, showing him where the water is stored, fish hunted, food grown and stored, where the other sailors live, and the new sailor realizes they have everything they need, everything but one thing.

“What do you do about no women, about sex?” The shipwrecked sailor asked. The other sailor smiled and nodded his head. “We have the magic barrel” the old sailor exclaimed and offered to show him where it was. The rules were that you could only visit the magic barrel one hour after sunset until an hour before sunrise. When the time was right, they walked deep into the jungle and came to a clearing miles from anything else. In the middle of the clearing sat a barrel and in the middle of the barrel there was a hole plugged with a cork. The barrel was painted all the colors of the rainbow. “All you have to do is pull that cork out, put your private part through the hole and let the magic happen!” The older sailor tried to get him to do it but he wouldn’t and they went back to the village. In the next few days the other sailors helped him set up his own hut, helped him fill it with what he needed and he settled into life on the island. He did hear of another group of sailors on the other side of the island and he traveled there to see what it was like. These sailors lived a much harder life than the others and they were more unfriendly than most, and when he mentioned the magic barrel they cursed and spat on the ground. In a few weeks the urge for finding out about the magic barrel became too great and he found himself in the clearing, alone with the magic barrel. He approached it slowly and when he’d reached it he tapped on the top. Nothing happened. He called out but didn’t get an answer. Finally he pulled the cork out of the hole in its side and put his manhood through the hole. Suddenly he was transported to bliss and fulfillment. When it was done he replaced the cork and went back to his business. All in All, life couldn’t have been much better. He had plentiful food and water, a place to stay, good friends that he spent all his time with and when he needed it, and the magic barrel. Then, one morning he awoke to find every man on this side of the island outside his hut and when he walked out they broke into resounding applause until everyone was on their feet clapping enthusiastically. He was so moved by their friendship he started to thank them, but his friend shook his head at him and told him why they were there clapping for him. “Today starts your week in the barrel.”

Barry laughed quickly but it ended with a questioning look about what the joke meant. They were back to ‘What am I going to do’?

Joe could have said anything he wanted to and Barry would have nodded his head in agreement.

“Barry, you have a wife and a baby son. Before you make a decision that affects all your lives think about it, that’s all. Being gay is more than sex, it’s a lifestyle. For some, the lifestyle is perfect, for others it’s a sad illusion, and still others a Shakespearean tragedy. For the fortunate that live their life as they want to, in love and happy, it’s great, in the end, it basically depends on the people involved. Just remember that being ‘gay’ is more than sex and more than a magic barrel.” Barry smiled. Even Joe didn’t know what that meant, but it was a funny joke.

“You’ve got to decide what to do and as long as that includes taking care of your responsibilities, like your son, you’ll do fine. And if you’re going to continue to have sex outside your marriage, make sure” Joe waited for him to give him the answer. When he didn’t, Joe shouted, “make sure you use a condom...” Barry laughed and shook his head in agreement. Joe drew a line through the picture at the halfway point and placed it in the file. This would show the next investigator that he wasn’t so much of a big dick. Barry just sat there. Joe opened the door and put out his hand.

“Thank you, and remember, the use of a condom probably makes this problem go away.” Barry nodded. “Remember, to use protection. I’ll expect you to make your follow up appointment next week.” Joe stuck out his hand. As Barry left, Joe thought yes, there are worse things than being gay, married and infected with Gonorrhea. He just couldn’t think of any right now except being married, separated and headed for divorce with two children you love and not being able to make your life right. Joe went back to the bullpen to finish writing up his notes and then grabbed the phone. They’d be home from school by now.

“Hellooooooo baby!” Joe tried to sound like the Big Bopper making his voice go high and then low for ‘baby’.

“Hi Daddy, are you coming home?” It was his little girl Tina, who was eight.

“No, pretty girl. I just called to tell you I love you and that I’ll see you and your sister on Saturday.”

“Okay. I drew a picture at school.” She added in an excited voice.

“Good, what was the picture of?” Joe answered in his own exciting voice.

“Our House,” she answered. “It has Mom and Marlee and me. I asked Mom and she said that’s who I should draw. I’m going to put it up in my room. Are you coming home?” For a moment, he started to ask why he wasn’t in the picture, but then he chickened out not wanting to hear her say why. He was a big, tough man but he knew he wasn’t tough enough for that.

“No, I’ll be there on Saturday and we’ll go to the park, okay?”

“Okay. I’ve got to go. Bye, Daddy.” The phone clicked off. Joe knew he should call back and talk to Marlee his older daughter, but one of the nurses was in the doorway with a file which meant the next interview was waiting. Marlee would be mad because he had talked to Tina and not her. For a moment, he caught himself wallowing in self- pity, remembering the past, how could he be so stupid, how could he screw up his life so much…. Joe looked up at the nurse. Her name was Claire, a good looking young woman with a perfectly curled hair who was standing in the doorway with a medical file in her hand, smiling, waiting for him. Joe bounced to his feet, took the folder from her and danced her halfway down the hall on his way to the interview room. His life may be screwed up but he was going to have a good time living it.

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