Go West Young Man…4

…Every evening, after work, I would go out into the mist and go for a walk. My sister’s place was in the west end, a favourable part of the city because of its funkiness, its weirdness and its gayness. Unbeknownst to me this was the gay part of town. I guess I must have suspected it, especially the time that I inadvertently walked down from my sister’s apartment to the beaches area at the English sounding bay. There, just off the roadway, between the sand of the beach and the black blacktop of the avenue stood an old Victorian era styled bath changing rooms, for this was once a popular bathing and picnicking area. It was deserted now except for the whispers and the secrets of past encounters or the glorious and better days of a very distant memory.

The building was quite ornate, of mortar and concrete, with tunnels and porticos abound. On the one side there was the business of the avenue while on the other a concrete gangway adorned with a wrought iron railing and baluster separating the beach from the street scenes. Leaning against this railing I looked out into the blackness of the night sky, over the waters of the bay, which resembled a purplish but dark sheen of wavering velvet, or silken sheets. I could see lights far off into the distant shore and make out the synchronicity of the various green, red and amber lighted aids to navigation. Looking over this dark scene I wondered how they ever managed to enjoy swimming in the frigid water or to picnic in the pouring rain.  It is beyond my understanding. Perhaps these wet coasters were masochists as well. Vitamin D deficiency can play havoc on one’s disposition and mental well being or so I am told.

Standing there, looking out over the water, I sensed that I was not alone and was being watched. Turning back suddenly and with my back to the bay I could faintly see various shapes of various sizes mingling about in the tunnels and porticos of the bathhouse. It suddenly dawned on me that this was a gay hangout and a place for gays to hook-up. I got the hell out of there. I made a mental note not to pass this way again, at least not after dark. Unlike today, gay activity in this particular city was not unlike the city’s drug culture in that it was better left unsaid and to rest and fester in the darkest corners and recesses of the underbelly of what was considered then to be the acceptable norms of society…