This is Part I of a "Beatitudes" Alternate Stream story.
The other sections in "Beatitudes".
Features Brian Kinney, Justin Taylor, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian goes to Hamburg to do a series of readings. Paris/Hamburg, November 1960.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. This is a "Queer as Folk"/Bealtes Crossover Story.
Paris, November 1960:
"I'm going for a week. One whole fucking week!" Brian barked. "You HAVE to come with me!"
"I can't leave town, Brian. Not now," Justin replied. He was painting serenely -- as usual -- as Brian raged around him. "I'm up to my ass in work here. If I want to get these pieces ready for my show at the Katz Gallery I'm going to have to work around the clock as it is. I can't take off a whole week right before the opening. And that's final!"
"Bitch," Brian mumbled. He'd already accepted the invitation to do a series of readings in Hamburg, Germany, and he didn't want to go there alone. Paris in November was rainy and gloomy, but it was still Paris. But November in Northern Germany -- the thought of it made him shiver.
However, the money the Krauts were paying him was ridiculous. And they'd promised to put him up in the best hotel in town. And to wine and dine him. All that free food and booze! Brian could never resist an offer like that. But he also wanted his lover to go with him and keep him company -- and keep him warm through the cold German nights.
"You can stand it for a week," Justin continued. "Maybe you'll find some blonde, Valkyrie-like female who you'll fall madly in love with. Then you can write some poems about her. You need some new inspiration, Brian. People are getting sick of reading poems about my ass."
Brian snorted. "That's THEIR problem! I LIKE writing poems about your ass. And I'm not interested in gigantic blonde females -- only in short, smart-mouthed blond fags!"
"And I'll be right here when you return." Justin stroked his brush over the canvas. "Just don't get carried away and forget to come back. I expect you to be by my side at the gallery opening when all of the Paris Art Snobs will be hovering around like vultures, waiting to eat me alive."
"I'm the only one allowed to eat you alive!" Brian said. "And don't you forget that!"
"Then you don't have anything to worry about," Justin answered. "Pack your fucking bag and go to Hamburg. And have fun. That's an order!"
Hamburg, November 1960:
The hall at the university was packed for Brian's reading.
Brian surveyed the group in front of him with interest. It was a fairly typical poetry reading crowd. A lot of students. Beat types head to toe in black, only here they called them 'Exis' -- short for 'Existentialists.' And not a single Valkyrie-like female in sight. Brian was actually a little disappointed about that. He would have loved to come back with a sordid story about fucking such a woman to regale Justin with.
Brian was declaiming a poem about sucking cock under the shadow of a nuclear explosion. Brian was especially pleased with the imagery comparing Justin's perfect circumcised cock to the death-dealing mushroom cloud. But Brian wondered just how much his audience was really getting what he was saying. How much English did they actually understand? He had no clue, so he just kept reading.
After Brian's reading there was the usual question and answer session with one of his hosts, a German professor of English Literature from the university, acting as translator. But a few of the questioners addressed Brian directly in fairly decent English. For the most part the questions were the ones he'd answered a hundred times before. Where did he get his inspiration? How did he start writing? Was he really a homosexual? And he gave them his patented answers. What Brian was really waiting for was the reception afterwards.
One thing about Hamburg was that the beer was first-rate. The food was a bit heavy, but there was plenty of it. Even at a poetry reading, the Krauts laid out a big spread and Brian dove right in.
Most of the admirers who crowded around during the reception were academic types. Older men and younger females. No Valkyries or hot young guys at all. There had been some of the latter at the reading -- Brian had scouted them from the podium -- but none approached him.
Until... a trio walked up while he was getting a refill on the beer. A slender blonde woman and two young, skinny men. They were all in black, but one of the men -- a boy, really, about 20 -- was wearing black leather pants and a leather jacket. The blonde woman was carrying a camera.
"Please? A picture may I take?" she asked.
Brian shrugged. "Sure." He had noticed that she'd taken a few during the reading. Brian wondered how he should pose, but she just took a few candid shots. Then a picture of Brian with the two boys.
"My name is Astrid," she said. "And this is Klaus. And my fiancé, Stuart."
Klaus grinned and shook Brian's hand, but the other boy, Stuart, seemed shyer. "Enjoyed the reading," he said in an accent Brian couldn't quite place.
"You're not German," said Brian. "A Brit?"
The boy nodded. "From Liverpool."
"What the hell are you doing here?" asked Brian, curiously.
"Stu is in a Beat group," said Klaus. "They are the best in the city! All from Liverpool. You must come and see them while you are in Hamburg!"
Brian smiled. "What are you? Their manager?"
"No, I am their fan!" Klaus was pretty cute, thought Brian. He might be a possibility. "All of the Exis go to the Grosse Freiheit to see the Peedles!"
"Peedles?" Brian frowned. He didn't know much German, but he knew most of the dirty words, and that one meant 'cock.'
"He means 'Beatles,'" said Stu, blushing. "It's the name of our Beat group. People here can't pronounce it right."
"What's the Grosse Freiheit?"
"It's a street in the St. Pauli District. The Reeperbahn. All of the clubs are over there," said the leather-jacketed boy.
The Reeperbahn was the center of vice and crime in Hamburg -- and Hamburg supposedly had the most vice and the most crime in all of Germany. Brian's interest was immediately aroused. If he couldn't get laid at the university, he was certain to find some action down there.
"Well, kids, what are we waiting for?"
Klaus' eyes widened. "You want to go to the club? With us?"
"Sure," said Brian. "Is your group playing tonight?"
Stu nodded. "We play every night, 7 days a week, 8 hours a night."
"Shit! That sounds like quite a gig!" laughed Brian. He drained his mug of beer and set the empty glass down. "Lead on! Let's see where the action is in Hamburg!"
The action in Hamburg turned out to be a dark and smelly club called the Kaiserkeller that looked more like a place to get mugged than to get laid. The clientele seemed evenly divided between leather-clad punks known in Europe as Teddy Boys and the more intellectual Exis, with some sailors on leave, prostitutes (both female and tranny), and other underworld types thrown into the mix.
And it was loud. Ear-bleedingly loud.
The loudness was emanating from a Beat group pounding away on a stage that was nothing but a few wooden planks held up by orange crates.
"That's the group I'm in!" shouted Stu over the din. They sat down at a front table.
"Then why aren't you up there with them?" Brian shouted back.
Stu looked sheepish. "I'm not exactly the best player," he admitted. "I'm supposed to play bass guitar, but they manage without me."
When they finished the song, Stu stood up and went to the stage.
"It's about time, you bastard!" A hoody young man who seemed to be the leader punched Stu playfully. "Get with it!"
Stu picked up his guitar and stood near the back, turned away from the audience. Brian watched him closely. The kid was right. He couldn't really play at all and he seemed almost embarrassed to be standing up there with the other boys.
Astrid leaned over. "Stu is not a musician," she told Brian haltingly. "An artist. Talented, very much."
"Oh, yeah?" said Brian. "Maybe I could see some of his work?"
Astrid smiled. She was quite lovely, but not at all a Valkyrie. "He is too shy to show."
"How'd he get hooked up with this rowdy crew?" asked Brian, indicating the Beat group. The leader, the most boisterous of the bunch, was yelling obscenities in place of the words to some Chuck Berry song.
"Excuse? I do not understand you," said Astrid.
"They are all friends. From Liverpool," offered Klaus, whose English was better. "John is the head. He is Stuart's good friend. And George is playing also the guitar. And Paul." Klaus pointed to two other skinny boys. One was angular and baby-faced, with a bad complexion, while the other was pretty, pale, and round-cheeked, with deep, doe-like eyes and blue-black hair.
Brian looked at him with curiosity. "Paul, hm?"
"And Pete is the drums," added Klaus.
The drummer was a sullen James Dean lookalike who never cracked a smile the whole time he was pounding away. Brian was a big James Dean fan and the drummer was hot in a very rough trade kind of way. But Brian's eyes kept shifting to the other guitar player, Paul. The boy was wearing, like they all were, a black leather jacket and matching trousers. But this boy's leather trousers looked like were painted on his body. The leather strained against his round bottom as the boy twirled while he played his cheap little guitar. The boy was a captivating combination of skinny arms and legs with baby fat in places where you didn't mind a little juicy baby fat.
Brian also watched the interaction of the band members with interest. The kid in front -- John -- dominated the performance. He shouted at the audience. He made crude remarks about Nazis. He threw things at the other boys on the stage and generally called attention to himself. Imagine doing this every single fucking day for 8 hours a day, thought Brian. No wonder this kid is going nuts. He's probably bored out of his mind. Or hopped up on pills.
Stu, the blonde girl's boyfriend, inched his way into a corner and stayed there. He acted as if he would rather be anywhere but on that stage. It made Brian wonder why he did it. To be with his friends? To make money? Brian wondered how much the boys made for playing this punishing schedule.
The doe-eyed boy leaned over and said something to the leader, who grinned back at him. Well, thought Brian, there's something. He felt a little spark jump between the two. He looked around. No one else in the place seemed to notice. But Brian doubted that there were any other men there whose radar was as finely tuned to male-to-male connection as was his own. Maybe the tranny whores, but their attention was on their potential customers and not on what was happening on the stage.
The front boy, John, put his hand on the pretty one's shoulder and squeezed it possessively. That is clear enough, thought Brian. I will have to get around the boyfriend first. And then I should have no trouble at all with this boy. Paul. He liked that name. Paul. He whispered it aloud. It tasted nice and soft and sweet in his mouth.
Brian could hardly wait to taste the rest of him.
"Tell the boys that I'd like to buy them all a drink," Brian told Klaus. "Only the good stuff -- whatever the good stuff IS in this dive."
Klaus smiled. "I will tell them! It is almost time for the break."
Brian tried to carry on a conversation with the blonde woman, Astrid, but she kept opening up a little German-English dictionary every time she wanted to say something to him that involved anything more complicated than 'hello' and 'I like the music.'
Too bad, because she seemed like an interesting woman. He wondered if she was a good photographer. And he wondered about the shy boyfriend who was supposedly an artist. Brian wished that Justin were with him. He could probably draw the kid out talking about art.
Brian wanted to know a little more about the art scene in Germany. Since this was his first day in Hamburg and he still had six more days to go, he needed something to talk about to people besides repeating the same tired stories about his poems and explaining that he really was a homosexual even though he didn't look like one -- whatever a homosexual was supposed to look like!
Brian drank another beer and waited for the band to have their break. Apparently when the Peedles or Beatles or whatever they called themselves finished their set another band, also from Liverpool, would get up and play for an hour or so, and the two groups would alternate until the place closed down.
That hour break was good news for Brian. It would give him time to cozy up to the boys and cut his intended target from the herd. He'd probably have to separate the kid from his boyfriend, the loudmouth leader. But John already acted like he was drunk on stage, so he might not even be aware of what was going on until it was too late for him to step in and stop Brian from making off with the pretty one.
Brian motioned over the waiter and tried to make him understand that he wanted some decent booze brought to the table. The waiter spoke minimal English, but the manager of the place, a guy named Bruno, came over and Brian explained to him what he wanted. This man spoke more than passable English, but he also looked like he'd serve watered-down tea and try to charge Scotch prices for it.
Then Astrid said something to Bruno in German and the man raised his eyebrows. "Herr Kinney, you are graciously welcome here! The lady says that you are a famous writer who will write about my club, yes?"
"Sure," said Brian. "Why not? I will write about your club, yes. But only if you give us REAL Scotch. And I want to see the bottle, sealed, before you open it here at the table. Got it, Heinz?"
Bruno nodded. "Ya, I got it, Herr Kinney. You are not a tourist here in Hamburg, no?"
"Nope," said Brian. "I'm not a tourist anywhere. And I don't like being cheated. You wouldn't want me to write about your place and say bad things about it, would you?"
"No, no!" said Bruno. "Only the best of things! I can see how you enjoy the music in my club. I want you to have a good time. You will write this, then?"
"I will write this," Brian smiled. Bruno hurried away, probably to look for a real bottle of Scotch in his stock. Brian wasn't sure what Astrid had told the guy, but she was smiling at him. Brian leaned over. "Thanks, honey."
"You will get a good bottle now," she said. "For to make toast?"
"Yes, we'll all have a toast with the good stuff." Brian sat back and waited for the band to end their set.
As soon as they were finished playing the boys piled off the stage while the waiting Beat group moved into their places. Brian scanned the newcomers, but there was no one of interest in the other band. They looked much more conventional than the Beatles, wearing matching gray jackets and pants and lacking the unruly, sexy edge of the first group.
"Stu says you're some kind of famous something or other," said John, sliding into the seat next to Brian. "You don't look like somebody bloody famous. Have we ever heard of you?"
Brian sniffed. "Not unless you read avant-garde poetry journals."
"Every day!" exclaimed John, making a face. "I've got one shoved down me pants right now!"
The boy Brian had his eye on was standing next to the table. Brian pulled back the chair on his left side and Paul sat down. "Is that what you've got in your pants these days, Jocko? I'd heard it was something less literary."
"Cheeky bastard!" John replied. "It's too long for you to read, son!"
The other band members pulled up chairs and crowded around the table. Stu sat next to Astrid and they gazed at each other. Brian noticed that Stuart had an English-German dictionary and also referred to it whenever he tried to converse with his intended bride.
"I thought you said those two were engaged?" Brian frowned. "How the hell do they talk to each other if he doesn't understand German and she doesn't understand English?"
"With the dictionaries, of course!" Klaus explained at if it were the most logical thing in the world.
"Who the fook needs to talk?" cackled John. "When I'm bangin' a German bird I don't bring a bleedin' dictionary with me!"
"Well, I'm a writer and I like to fuck -- but I like to talk to the person, too," said Brian. "I've never cared for 'banging' someone I couldn't have a conversation with." He turned and looked pointedly at the boy sitting next to him.
Now that he was up close to Brian, Paul was even more appealing. He had a heart-shaped, classically handsome face, with a straight nose and full, curving lips. And long black lashes. Typical Black Irish looks, thought Brian. Just the opposite of Justin's blond, sturdy kind of beauty.
Brian had a brief vision of the two of them, Justin and this black-haired boy, Paul, entwined together on a bed, like converse images, while Brian watched and jerked off. Maybe he could take the boy back to Paris with him for a few weeks. He and Justin could have quite a bit of fun with him. Paul looked like he would clean up nicely, too. Brian wondered if the boy had ever thought of doing any hustling. He was just the type who could make a killing at it. Of course, Brian had no intention of paying the boy anything, but he might give him the suggestion later. He wondered if he had a nice cock, but it was still much too early for Brian to reach under the table and see for himself. He didn't want Paul to go bolting for the nearest exit.
Bruno, the manager of the Kaiserkeller, brought two bottles of Scotch over to the table personally. Brian checked the labels. The bottles looked real enough.
"Now you're talking!" crowed John. "This is the life, eh, mates?"
Bruno opened the first bottle and poured out some Scotch into a shot glass, giving Brian the first taste. "That's the real stuff," Brian pronounced. "Please serve my guests." Everyone took a glass. "To your success as musicians, gentlemen!"
"I'll drink to that!" said Paul, laughing. "It won't be soon enough for me!"
"And to a successful trip for myself, as well," continued Brian. "Here's hoping that I acquire the beautiful object that I've had my eye on."
"I thought you were a writer?" said Paul, setting down the empty shot glass. Brian immediately refilled it. "Are you a collector, too?"
"I'm a collector of sorts," said Brian, looking the boy in the eye. They were hazel, with golden flecks through them. The boy had a tough-looking facade, but he also had a winning naivete just below the surface. Even in this rough dive, Paul didn't seem jaded or cynical in the least. And he was very, very young. Brian wondered if he was even 18 yet. "I'll tell you all about my collection -- a little later. When we get to know each other better. Much better."
The boy nodded. He tossed down the shot of Scotch and held his glass out. "Just a little more? Please?"
"It's my pleasure," said Brian. And it WILL be my pleasure very soon, he thought. "Have another."
"Do they really pay you to write poetry?" asked Paul.
"That they do," admitted Brian. He snaked his arm around the back of the boy's chair and rested his hand on his shoulder. "And they pay me even more to come to places like Hamburg and read it!"
"Do you live in Paris all the time?" Paul's big eyes stared at the older man.
"I have lately. But a writer can live anywhere. I like to move around. I like to see what I can see and then write about it."
"That's what I want to do!" Paul exclaimed. "Travel all over and see things while we play our music!"
"And make a lot of money, too!" piped up George. And the others laughed.
"We aren't in it for the money, you berk!" said John, swatting George gently. "We're artistes! That's why we're sleeping in the fookin' kino and playing HERE every night!"
"What's a kino?" asked Brian.
"The cinema," Klaus answered.
Brian frowned. "You sleep in a movie theater?"
"Yeah," Paul replied. "On cots. In a room behind the big screen."
"Are you guys kidding me?" Brian wasn't sure what to believe. The boys seemed great jokers.
"Naw!" said John. "It's posh accommodations. They even let us wash up in the men's room -- free of charge!"
"Except for Stu. He's got a much better kip," Paul commented, nodding in the direction of Astrid. "But we get breakfast cheap at the Seamen's Mission. All the cornflakes you can eat!"
"Bleedin' cornflakes," mumbled John. He downed another shot. The second bottle of Scotch was almost empty and John had been chasing his shots with mugs of strong German beer. Brian noted that the others were drinking a lot, but not as heavily as their fearless leader.
"So, Paul, you want to see the world?" asked Brian, turning his attention to the boy. "You would like Paris. There are a lot of clubs there. I don't know if they play rock 'n' roll, but they play jazz."
"Jazz is shit music!" John proclaimed. He was definitely drunk. "Pretentious shit music for pretentious arseholes!"
"John hates jazz," Paul told Brian. "People in Liverpool are always putting down the kind of music we play. All the clubs want jazz. But we love rock 'n' roll. And I mean REAL rock 'n' roll, like Elvis and Little Richard and Chuck Berry. They like it here in Hamburg, too, as long as we play loud and 'mak show'!"
Brian smiled. "'Mak show'? What's that?"
Paul grinned back and Brian felt his cock twitch in his pants. "Jumping around. Having fun. John's the best at it. He's dead mad. He'll do anything to get a rise out of people, on or off stage." Paul glanced over at his friend. John and George were making faces at each other to see who would crack up first. Pete was glowering at the two of them in disgust. Stu and Astrid were staring at each other soulfully. And Klaus was happy as a clam, sitting in the middle of it all.
Paul wondered what this Mr. Kinney really thought of them. They had made fun of Stu going to a poetry reading with Astrid and Klaus, but Paul never dreamed that they'd come back with the famous poet in tow. Paul was curious about the man's poems. Paul had done Literature in school. Dylan Thomas was his favorite poet, but he liked the older stuff, too. Chaucer and that lot. Paul liked the sound of poetry. It was something he could really HEAR. Music, only in words.
"Do you write poems about the places you travel to?" Paul asked.
"Sometimes," Brian replied. "A lot of my poems are political. About the state of the world and the idiots who want to destroy it with their fucking bombs. But most of my poems are about love. And sex. Those are the poems I'm most well-known for."
"Really?" said Paul with new interest. "What a life! You travel all over the world, make love to beautiful women, write poems about it, and get paid for it. I'd like that gig!"
Paul took note of the American's clothes. Although he was casually dressed in jeans and a sweater, his topcoat was expensive cashmere. And Brian wore a gold watch on his left wrist. Paul also took note of the poet himself. He WOULD pull the birds! He was tall, at least 6 foot 3, slender, but solidly built, with a square, handsome face. The poet gave off an air of self-confidence and masculine power that was almost palpable. He seemed the kind of Yank who had never known failure. Paul longed for such confidence. Maybe one day, when the band hit it big, Paul would feel the same kind of self-assurance he felt in the tall American.
Brian took out a pack of cigarettes. "Do you like American cigarettes?"
Paul eyed the pack of Marlboros. He was dying for a smoke. "Sure."
"Come outside with me and we'll share one," said Brian.
"You can smoke in here," said Paul. In fact, cigarette smoke hung heavy inside the dark club.
"I prefer to do my serious smoking in the open air." Brian stood and put on his heavy topcoat. "I'll only be a few minutes." He glanced at the boy, raising his eyebrows. "You coming?"
Paul slipped on his leather jacket and followed the poet outside.
It was a Monday night but the Reeperbahn was bustling, as usual. There were restless men looking for entertainment and strolling ladies more than willing to provide that entertainment. Barkers touted strip shows. Loud music blasted from the open doors of clubs. And neon lights flashed everywhere.
Brian stepped off the main street into the alley next to the Kaiserkeller. He leaned against the brick wall and offered Paul a Marlboro from the pack.
"You can have this," Brian said. "Or...." He pulled out a smaller cigarette. It was hand rolled in brownish paper. Brian put it into his mouth and lit it.
"What's that?" asked Paul, his eyes widening.
"A joint," said Brian. He drew the acrid smoke into his lungs and held it for a moment before finally exhaling. The smoke smelled slightly sweet and heady.
Paul's heart pounded. "Is that hemp?"
"Marijuana," said Brian. "Ever try it?"
"No. Never!" said Paul, truthfully. The boys drank like fishes and swallowed Black Beauties to keep themselves awake and moving through their long, tiring sets at the club, but they'd never tried any real drugs. At least, Paul hadn't. And he was certain John and George had never taken marijuana, either. They would have told him about it. John would have bragged about it!
"Here." Brian put the joint between the boy's red lips before he could protest. Paul took a drag and then pulled the joint out of his mouth quickly. He coughed furiously. "Fuck me! That burns my throat." He handed the brown cigarette back to Brian. "No thanks!"
But Brian stared at him intently. "Try this."
The American took a deep draw on the joint. Then, to Paul's surprise, Brian pulled the boy close and pressed his lips against Paul's, blowing the sweet smoke directly from his own mouth into Paul's.
Paul immediately felt light-headed as the drug filled his senses. He wobbled and leaned heavily against Brian, trying to steady himself. But Brian's strong arms held him up. And Brian's hand reached down and cupped the front of Paul's leather pants.
"Now then," whispered the poet. "That wasn't too hard, was it? But this is." Brian squeezed Paul's growing erection. "Nice and hard. So what are we going to do about it?"
Continue on to "Hamburg -- Part II".
©Gaedhal, August 2004.
Posted August 17, 2003.