Hi guys, we have Michael Rupured stopping by with his upcoming re-release Happy Independence Day, we have a brilliant guest post and a great excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
Happy Independence Day
Terrence Bottom wants to change the world. Little does he know the world is already changing, and his part in it won’t be what he expects. A prelaw student at Columbia University, Terrence’s interests range from opposing the draft and the war in Vietnam, to civil rights for gays, to anything to do with Cameron McKenzie, the rugged blond hanging around the Stonewall Inn. Too bad Cameron bolts whenever Terrence looks his way.
College dropout Cameron McKenzie left tiny Paris, Kentucky, with dreams of a career on Broadway. Although he claims to be straight, he prostitutes himself to survive. Now the Mafia is using him to entrap men for extortion schemes. He’s in over his head with no way out—at least not a way that doesn’t involve cement shoes and a swim in the Hudson.
Terrence finally confronts Cameron, and they return to the Stonewall Inn during another police raid. But this time the patrons aren’t going quietly. While Terrence sees his chance to stand beside his friends and stand up for his beliefs, Cameron sees the distraction of the riots as an opportunity to escape—even if it means walking away from the only man he’s ever loved.
A Story Worth Telling
by Michael Rupured
The 1969 Stonewall uprising is the backdrop for Happy Independence Day, my new release from DSP Publications. I visited the Stonewall Inn on my first trip to New York in 1996. Had I known I’d write a story about it twenty years later, I’d have paid more attention.
Broadway, Times Square, and Christopher Street topped my list of places to see in New York. The Stonewall Inn happens to be on Christopher Street or I might have missed it. My knowledge of what happened there in June of 1969 was little more than a headline: Queens top cops, launch gay liberation movement. I pictured a gaggle of scrappy drag queens fighting with police.
The little I knew about Stonewall came primarily from conversations with other gay men. My age—I was 11 in 1969—likely explains why I didn’t learn about the uprising in school. Outside of queer studies programs, I suspect the Stonewall Inn is barely mentioned in the classroom.
Detailed accounts of what happened are few and far between. I relied heavily upon Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution, by David Carter. What I learned left me wondering why I’d heard so little of the fascinating story behind the riots. Beyond the historical significance, the Stonewall uprising has all the elements of a great story.
I had no idea the Mafia owned the Stonewall Inn which, on paper, they operated as a private bottle club. Well-placed bribes guaranteed sufficient notice to remove contraband before any raids or inspections. Pimping male prostitutes culled from the club’s patrons was a sideline. Blackmailing well-heeled clients of the call boys was the real money maker.
The Mafia received no advanced warning of the Friday night raid that launched the riots. A carefully selected, top secret anti-Mafia task force conducted the raid. The goal was to shut down the Stonewall Inn, if not permanently, then at least for the two most profitable nights of the week. Nobody expected resistance from the patrons, much less four nights of rioting.
Just in time for the riots, Philip Potter and several of his friends from No Good Deed (the second Philip Potter Story) arrive in New York City to sightsee and visit Terrence Bottom, a student at Columbia University. Terrence has fallen for Cameron McKenzie, a hustler who works high-end hotels for the mob, and as the riots begin, promises to help him break free.
Tuesday, June 24, 1969
TERRENCE BOTTOM tapped a sandaled foot on the linoleum-tiled floor and bit his lip. Speaking his mind at a Mattachine Society meeting was a waste of time and energy. But watching the older members of the homophile organization nod their heads in agreement as the speaker droned on about homosexuality being a mental illness had been more than he could take. As the uptight men and women nearby glared at him, he rolled his eyes at Kelsey Ryan and whispered, “You ready to blow this joint?”
Before she could answer, the esteemed speaker concluded his remarks. After a polite round of applause, the well-dressed men and women filled the aisles and chatted as they made for the door of the Columbia University lecture hall where the meeting had been held.
Kelsey and Terrence merged into the slow-moving mass creeping toward the exit. Between reed-thin Terrence’s curly blond hair and Kelsey’s height—never mind that she was built like an offensive lineman for the Washington Redskins—the unlikely pair stood out in the crowd. Rather than the suits worn by other men in the lecture hall, Terrence had on faded bell-bottomed jeans embroidered with flowers, a tie-dyed T-shirt, and a wide white belt with a peace-sign buckle.
“The old guard just doesn’t get it,” Kelsey said, rolling up the sleeves of her oxford shirt to her elbows as she walked. “Working behind the scenes to change the world hasn’t gotten us anywhere.”
“I don’t know about that,” Terrence said, falling in beside her. “Legal challenges to alcohol regulations have helped to crack open the door here in New York.”
“How?” Kelsey shoved her hands into her pockets. “The police have raided every gay bar in town at least once in the last two weeks. Legal victories haven’t stopped them from harassing us every chance they get.”
“Philip and George—”
“Are just like the other men their age working for change.” She shook her head. “They think we should be patient, but my patience has run out. We need new tactics so the world stops seeing homosexuals as mentally ill, morally bankrupt freaks who can’t be trusted to work in the government or around children.”
Terrence nodded. She was on her soapbox now. He didn’t bother reminding her he agreed with her. She was too wound up to stop until she’d said her piece.
“The white men in power aren’t going to give us our rights. We need to stand up and fight for equality, like the Black Panthers or Students for a Democratic Society.” She punched her open palm with a fist. “They didn’t get anywhere until they stood up to the cops. What a fight!”
Despite Kelsey’s pleas, Terrence hadn’t gone uptown with the students in his sociology class last year to show support when the SDS had staged a protest over Columbia University’s backing of the war in Vietnam. The students had been beaten with nightsticks and bombed with tear gas. The sight of his bruised and bandaged classmates afterward had flipped the switch for Terrence. If he hadn’t learned anything else on the streets, he’d learned you fought force with force.
Terrence and Kelsey descended the steps into the subway station to wait for the next train to Greenwich Village. Businessmen, sweating in suits, loosened ties and glared at them. Terrence knew they made quite a pair. He’d toned down his flamboyance some, but next to Kelsey—sturdy, stocky, and rumbling, like a Mack truck—he was the picture of femininity. Despite her efforts to conceal them, her impressive breasts might have been attractive on another woman, but on her masculine frame, they just looked out of place.
“Want to grab a drink at the Stonewall Inn later?” Terrence asked, spotting a headlight moving toward the station.
Kelsey snorted. “And would the reason you want to go have something to do with that high-class callboy you’ve been watching?”
Terrence punched her arm. “You don’t know he’s a callboy.” He tossed his hair and smiled. “And he’s watching me. I just happened to have noticed.”
“Who wouldn’t?” She paused, waiting for the noisy train to come to a stop. “The man is gorgeous, and for me to notice is saying something.” They stepped onto the car and the doors squealed shut behind them. “But he’s a hustler, trust me, and he’s working for the mob. I’ve seen him talking to Frankie Caldarone too many times, and he ain’t shining the man’s shoes.”
Terrence led the way to the back of the subway car, and they settled onto the last seats on each side of the aisle. “Frankie Caldarone? The bald-headed goon at the Stonewall Inn?” Terrence crossed his legs and adjusted the forty-inch bellbottoms to cascade in folds above the sandals he wore. “He’s just a bouncer.”
“More like the enforcer, at an unlicensed private club, owned and operated by who?” She spread her legs wide, leaned back, and wove her hands together behind her head.
“Wouldn’t that be whom?” Terrence didn’t want to admit Kelsey could be right. Trading sexual favors for money didn’t bother him so much. Hustling was a dangerous, dead-end job he’d managed to escape more than two years earlier, thanks to Philip and George. Hustling for the mob, however, was a death sentence with no chance for parole, pardon, or escape.
“Either way, the answer is the same.” She shook her head and leaned forward, dropping her hands to her knees. “You’d be smart to stay the hell away from that one.”
“Come on, Kelsey.” Terrence fluffed his hair and adjusted his headband, feeling the embroidered peace sign with his fingers and shifting the band a bit to center the emblem over his nose.
She laughed and punched his arm. “You say that like going out with him is the furthest thing from your mind.”
Terrence gazed at her, wide-eyed. “You know me better than that.”
“Oh, you are so good.” Kelsey shook her head and folded her arms. “I know you all right. Hearing you can’t have something just makes you want it that much more.”
Terrence sat up, turned to her, and put his hand on her knee. “All we have is right now, this very minute. Two minutes from now, this train could crash, killing us both.”
“Shit, Terrence.” She shuddered. “You know I hate the subway.”
His gaze shifted to the window behind her. He stared, seeing remembered faces in the passing blackness. “When you want something, you gotta go for it—before somebody snatches it away from you and it’s gone forever.” He brushed a fist over his eye and shook his head. “Besides, I’ve never even talked to him.”
“Maybe not, but the way you two look at each other is enough to make me blush.” She chuckled. “I’m just jealous. Hell, I’d pay a year’s tuition to have a pretty girl look at me like that.”
Terrence reached over and tousled her short brown hair. “You’re a good person, Kelsey. If I was a lesbian, I’d be proud to be your girlfriend.” He leered at her and grinned. “Even without those big titties of yours!”
She laughed and reached for her top button. “Careful now, or I’ll turn ’em loose on you.”
Michael Rupured was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina; grew up in Lexington, Kentucky; and after eighteen months in Washington, D.C., moved to Athens, Georgia where he’s lived and worked for nearly twenty years. For the past three decades, he has worked in academia developing curricula and educational programs to improve financial literacy among youths and adults. He joined the Athens Writers Workshop in 2010 which he credits for launching his career as a novelist. He’s published four novels and a short story that are “true enough for government work.” For more information, visit his web site (Rupured.com) or follow him on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMichaelRupured/) and Twitter (@crotchetyman) or send an email message to email@example.com.