Jake has decided
to walk me back to St. John’s… I think we’re both a bit trollied. For some ungodly reason he wants to see the hovel I call
The turret which
Blackmore assigned me to isn’t even a proper room. Originally, it was meant as
a sort of military fortification, perhaps giving the old building a defensive
posture should the Vikings ever decide to invade England again. There’s just
enough room for a single mattress and a small desk. My clothes are all folded
in neat stacks because there isn’t space for a wardrobe. The violin case and a
loose pile of sheet music sit atop the only chair.
mock,” I beg.
Jacob takes a
look around. “Sweet Jesus,” he says, “you barely have enough room in here to cuff the carrot.” He smirks.
“Is that your
definition of not mocking?”
“Sorry. No we are
here for the good of science, Ashlock.” He’s brought along a candle which he
quickly lights and holds aloft.
he shouts, “if you can hear me… blow this out.”
Of course nothing
“Apparently I am
phantom-free. That certainly takes a load off,” I say.
“What is a ghost
anyway?” Jake asks, blowing out the flame himself.
they are troubled souls.”
agrees, putting a drunken arm around my shoulder. “Restless spirits. Imagine
this scenario: A White Oak lad goes missing, meeting some gruesome fate, and
now he’s forced to wander about Brigsley for all eternity… he seems to be
“Perhaps he just
prefers it. Maybe it was his home,” I venture.
Jake trips on a
stack of my uniforms and then leans against my desk, he’s far too big a bloke
to be in this confined space. His feet are enormous. He opens the violin case
and inspects my instrument. “That’s a decent hypothesis,” he says. “Of course,
if we refer to our Poe, perhaps Little Tommy is buried under the
floorboards…or even in the walls.”
morbid,” I say. “In literature spirits almost always have a purpose. They are
out for vengeance, trying to right some wrong inflicted upon them in life. It’s
personal. There’s always a bit of unfinished business, which is why they don’t
willingly cross over.”
threading his fingers through his thick blond hair. “You’re glorious, Ashlock,
you little ripper,” he says. “You
know what we’re going to do?”
“I’m afraid to
ask,” I mutter.
“We’re going to
solve Tommy Walker’s murder.”
Chapter 14: JACOB
I’m smitten. He’s charming, clever and just a bit sad. I find him
irresistible. He’s also gorgeous.
“I have a plan,”
Tim’s refolding a
stack of sweaters that I bumped over. He looks up. “Let’s hear it then.”
“First, pack up
all your gear. You’re moving in with me.”
“Not afraid of
ghosts, are you, Ashlock?” I tease. “Listen, it makes perfect sense. The
cottage is a piece of this puzzle, and I need you around to bounce ideas off.
You have far too little space in here, and I have far too much over there.
Brigsley has three bedrooms, for Christ’s sake!”
says, “one for you, one for me and one for Tommy Walker.”
What’s stopping you?”
will never sign off on it. He enjoys my misery here far too much.”
I scoff. “Leave
him to me. What else?”
I know where he’s
about to go.
“Second, I’m not
going to sleep with you. I like you Weston, but I’m not gay.”
I laugh at him. “Mon Chéri,” I say, “hardly anyone is Gay-gay
anymore. It’s all about being bi-curious or simply not being placed in a
box. Don’t let others define you because to allow definition is to limit! You
may not be full homo, but you’re definitely on the spectrum, less so than I am,
sadly, but your sexuality is fluid.”
“Maybe so,” he
admits, “but if I move into Brigsley you’ll be keeping your fluids to yourself.”
“It’s a deal,” I
say. “Pack your duffel while I go downstairs and give Blackmore an Oscar-worthy
“You’re not going
to pay a call on the Housemaster when you’re steaming drunk, are you?”
“He’ll be none
the wiser. I can hold my liquor, mate.”
A murder mystery…a ghost story…and a gay romance. Jake Weston, a seventeen-year-old cross between Holden Caufield and Sherlock Holmes, is an openly gay American at a private British boarding school. He’s being haunted by the ghost of a former student, and he’s fallen in love with his beautiful roommate. He’s trying to solve the mysterious disappearance of Tommy Walker, a White Oak student who vanished in 1976 but piecing together a puzzle from the past will lead to real danger in the present. He’ll inherit a fortune if he can solve a murder and make it out of White Oak Academy alive. This genre-bending fusion of supernatural suspense, thriller and young adult LGBTQ romance has mind-blowing plot twists that will keep you guessing until the very last page. Finally, a gay whodunit! Murder at White Oak tackles some of the very real issues of bullying and beatings within the walls of prestigious boarding schools for boys and the difficulties of being gay in that restrictive, closed environment. This is the first in a series of gay mysteries.
Learn more about author, Marko Realmonte
I currently live in beautiful Santa Cruz, California, devising wicked plot twists and murdering unsuspecting figments of my imagination. I spent twenty years writing for film and television in Hollywood…primarily for Disney, but often as a laptop for hire. As I’ve often said, I’ve had my fingers in more pilots than an Air Force proctologist. I’m using my influential friends to sell this book (and hopefully the series) to Netflix or someone else with equally deep pockets. I do aim to portray gay characters and relationships in a positive way. To be honest, I’m tired of only reading queer coming out or coming of age yarns.
interrogation of Chauncey was finished, and he stood behind the bar as Corey
approached. He hurried over, extending his hand. “Hi, I’m Chauncey Avant, the
manager of the Green Lantern. Didn’t I see you here last night?”
introduced himself, and Chauncey’s eyes grew wide in surprise when he heard the
Psionic Officer title.
you recognize the victim?”
shook his head. “I didn’t see his face.” He shuddered at the recollection. “As
soon as I saw…him, I ran out of the room and dialed 911.”
the skinny twink wearing only red gym shorts and the Celtic knotwork tattoo
around his right bicep?”
searched his memory. “You mean Aiden?”
He didn’t introduce himself to me. Are there many other guys who come in here
dressed like that, with that tattoo?” Corey gave him a minute.
gotta be him, then.” The manager choked a little as he lowered his head.
take it he was a regular?”
every weekend.” Chauncey pulled himself together. He wasn’t trembling anymore.
you know him well?”
outside of the Green Lantern. I only knew him as Aiden. I’m sure there are
plenty of guys that know him better.”
Of that, I have no doubt, Corey mused. “I noticed
that he was very…popular.” He emphasized the last word with raised eyebrows.
you mean ‘slut,’ yes. He was always bragging about how many men he slept with,”
Chauncey said, sneering. “I don’t think he ever brought money with him. He
always wore those skimpy shorts that obviously didn’t have a place for his
wallet. He could get anyone to pay for his drinks. All he’d do is rub that flat
stomach and his crotch up against them, and he got what he wanted.”
he ever return the favors? Like he intimated to me?” Corey wasn’t ready to
admit he almost fell for Aiden’s game.
brushed some imaginary crumbs off the bar. “Yes, and no. Aiden liked to tease
the older guys, the uglier ones, the ones he thought didn’t have a chance in
hell of getting picked up. He’d make them think they could take him home, but
usually, he went after the young, good-looking guys. The muscular, beefy men.
Those were the ones he left with.”
realized that Chauncey was simply being blunt and forthright, rather than
insulting his customers. “I’m sure some of the men he rejected got mad at him.”
a lot of them got pissed off at him, but I don’t think that anyone got angry
enough to do something like this, do you?”
doesn’t sound likely, but we have to consider every possibility. Do you have a
coat check or some place that he may have left his clothes? I don’t think he
came dressed like that, but I don’t remember seeing him come in.”
upstairs, but we’ve already checked, and no one left any clothes behind.”
Chauncey leaned up against the bar.
walked to the staircase and called up to Detective Nash. “Have you found the
shorts he wore last night? Red with white trim?”
still searching the building and the surrounding area. If they turn up, we’ll
let you know,” came the answer.
finished with Chauncey and walked upstairs to the bar. The flash of the
forensic photographer’s camera cast odd shadows on the wall behind the gruesome
scene, washing out what little color was in the room. He waited at the top of
the stairs, watching patiently until the forensic team had finished taking
have a moment?” he asked the man with the camera. Or at least he thought it was
a man. Both members of the team wore bio-suits, which masked faces, body shapes
haven’t swept for fibers yet,” the man protested. His voice was muffled.
repeated his observation that there were many, many people in the bar last
night. The forensic technician removed the headpiece of the bio-suit. “I’d
still like to prevent any more contamination.”
you have an extra one of those?”
minutes later, Corey, donned in a bio-suit without the headpiece, approached
the body, being careful not to step in the blood.
forensic team left the room but remained in the doorway. Corey closed his eyes
and let his mind roam free. He could see images easier that way.
vision of a hand flashed across his thoughts, the fingers contorting and
curling in pain as a nail was pounded through the wrist. He heard screams of
agony and angry shouting. He saw a foot strapped to the cross with a rope to
keep it anchored to the step while another nail was driven through it. More
screaming, crying, and pleading. It was drowned out with angry yelling, but
Corey heard more than one voice shouting.
many were there? What had he done to be tortured like that?
people shouting in fury sounded like they were reciting or orating. It sounded
stilted to him, instead of normal voice intonations. He saw the young man’s
face frozen in terror. Then he saw the flash of a knife.
in horror, Corey snapped out of his visions and recalled his power. As he
reconnected with his surroundings, he realized that he had backed away from the
cross and was pressed against the wall. He stood there panting and covered in
sweat, his pulse racing, trying to calm down from the terrible visions he had
Nash leaned against the threshold. “See anything interesting?” he called out
with the slight edge of disdain in his tone.
much more than what you’ve already discovered here,” Corey said, his breathing
starting to return to normal. “I think his murderers were passing some sort of
religious judgment on him.”
We’re looking for more than one?”
what kind of judgment? Kind of like a divine retribution? A warning to gays?”
shook his head as he walked closer to Nash. “No, just him. This was personal,
like a jury sentencing him to death. And it may not have been because he was
sighed in annoyance. “This whole setup of nailing him to a cross reeks of
religious zealots. We’ve seen it before. Can you tell me something I don’t
detective’s callousness rankled him. In a lightning flash move, Corey ripped
off his glove and grabbed him by the wrist. Before the detective could react,
he forced the horrible images he had seen into Nash’s mind, letting him see the
gruesome scene and hear the death cries of the victim.
pulled his hand back. “I figured you didn’t know that.”
Nash remained rooted to his spot. The blood drained from his face, frozen in an
expression of terror. Corey pushed past him and out of the room.
Learn about author, Alex Morgan:
Alan Scott (aka Alex Morgan) was born and raised in western Oklahoma. He majored in chemistry in college and moved to Dallas to get his master’s degree. Later he received a PhD in analytical chemistry. He now lives in the Baltimore area.
He has been an avid reader, particularly mysteries, after being introduced to the Hardy Boys in grade school. After reading his first Agatha Christie novel, Murder on the Orient Express, in junior high, mysteries have been one of his biggest enjoyments. He has always enjoyed reading comic books and loves the super-hero genre just as much.
Combining these two concepts, he has written four mystery novels introducing gay, paranormal sleuth Corey Shaw. Under the pen name Alan Scott, he has written a novel continuing the paranormal detective series with “Inside Passage to Murder” and the forthcoming “A Faire Day for Murder.” He is also the author of several gay erotica short stories.
The self-reflective autobiography below was written in 2008 by author, Victor J. Banis when interviewed by Friend, Author, LQBTQ Reviewer & Prolific Blogger, Elisa Rolle for her online journal: Reviews and Ramblings. Reprinted here with permission. *Thank you, Elisa!*
Upon learning of the death of her friend, Elisa Rolle posted to her blog the following: (Victor) was a good friend and he deserves to be remembered. I met Victor J. Banis online back in 2006, when Gay Romance was blooming, but Victor was already a legend, the first author to be put under trial for publishing a Lesbian romance 42 years before in 1964. Publisher’s Weekly credited him with “the master’s touch in storytelling,” and the Nashville Banner echoed that with, “a master storyteller.” Eminent scholar and critic D. Wayne Gunn called him “a national treasure.” Thomas L. Long, editor-in-chief of the Harrington Gay Men’s Literary Quarterly, said he was the “godfather of modern popular gay fiction,” and William Hewitt, professor of gay studies at Westchester University, referred to him as “one of the Grand Old Men of Gay Fiction.” Cultural historian Michael Bronski calls him “one of (his) heroes” and credits him as one of a quartet of writers “who pioneered what we now call gay and lesbian literature.”
Victor Jerome Banis, 81, of Martinsburg, West Virginia, died
Feb. 22, 2019.
“Victor J. Banis is a writer.”
Yes, I do see it is a bit terse, but it seems to me to cover the salient points well enough. And yes, I do realize I could add adjectives—say, Victor J. Banis is a wonderful writer.
I am an introvert, however. It is an ordeal, to say the least, to read my own material aloud to other people, as some writers enjoy doing, let alone toot my own horn. Anyway, I have long believed it is better to be more than you seem. It is so much nicer, as an example, to mention to others your “little shack in the woods,” and let them discover for themselves that it is really a country estate, than to tell them about your “country estate” and have them discover that it is really a shack in the woods. So, no, I’d rather not tell you how wonderful I am as a writer, lest you decide afterward that I am only “a shack in the woods” and not the estate you envisioned.
I suppose I could let others tell you. I have certainly received plenty of praise over the years. Publisher’s Weekly credited me with “the master’s touch in storytelling,” and the Nashville Banner echoed that with, “a master storyteller.” Eminent scholar and critic D. Wayne Gunn called me “a national treasure.” Thomas L. Long, editor-in-chief of the Harrington Gay Men’s Literary Quarterly, said I was the “godfather of modern popular gay fiction,” and William Hewitt, professor of gay studies at Westchester University, referred to me as “one of the Grand Old Men of Gay Fiction.” Cultural historian Michael Bronski calls me “one of (his) heroes” and credits me as one of a quartet of writers “who pioneered what we now call gay and lesbian literature.”
Hmm. Very nice, of course, and pleasant to bask in, but it seems to me a dreadful burden to bear, since I must measure every word I subsequently write against such fulsome praise. I am reminded of a friend who once looked at a particular photograph of me and said that I looked so good in it that I should never be seen in person again. I have an uneasy feeling when I read those reviews that perhaps I should quit where I am—if only I weren’t having so much fun.
And, since those little blurbs mentioned above, some of them, at least, touch upon the subject, I suppose I ought to talk about my gay writing history.
I have no embarrassment in doing so, and my only reluctance is my reluctance to label myself a “gay writer,” since in fact gay writing has been only a part of my literary output, and not the larger part. I think that I did sit down in the earliest days of my career to write gay novels (I think, because it was so very long ago), but I have long since ceased to think in terms of genre or subject matter or even style. I don’t think today I can even correctly say I write “stories.” I write people. They come to me and talk to me—often I literally hear them whispering in my ear—and they are who they are, and I don’t get to dictate whether they are gay or straight or Martian, anymore than I would with the person next to me on an airplane. They tell me their stories, these visitors, and I think it would be presumptuous of me to try to tell them what their stories should be, or how they should be written, let alone that they must fit into some preconceived “genre.” So, just a writer, then, and not a “this writer” or “that writer.”
On the other hand, if I have had an appreciable impact upon the world of books and writing, it is certainly in the genre of gay publishing, where I have become something of a cult figure over the years and a hero to some writers and critics.
That was not something I planned. I’m afraid my writing career has been rather a haphazard thing, to tell the truth. I suppose as much as anything, I was the right person in the right place at the right time. To be honest, I suspect much of history happens that way.
In 1963, Fresno, California publishers Sanford Aday and Wallace de Ortega Maxey were sentenced to twenty-five years in federal prison for distributing obscene material, some of the material in question being gay-themed paperback novels.
In 1964, I was indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute obscene material, this for my first novel, The Affairs of Gloria (Brandon House, 1964), which had no sexually explicit words or phrases, but did contain one “damn,” and, more to the point, a couple of very tepid lesbian scenes.
Clearly, in the early sixties, the U. S. Government thought that writing about or publishing books depicting homosexual behavior, male or female, was in and of itself obscene, and they meant to stamp it out.
That is not to say that there had not been books before which addressed the subject of homosexuality. The publishing world of the time did not have a specific code, like the Hayes code in Hollywood, but there was a sort of tacit understanding that homosexual characters must be portrayed as naughty, naughty people, doing wicked, wicked things, for which they must be punished by the final chapter, either by death or by a miraculous conversion to heterosexuality. A publisher portrayed homosexuals in a positive light, or gave them happy endings, at his own peril, as Misters Aday and Maxey—and I—learned to our grief. I had ten years in federal prison hanging over my head; not the cheeriest of prospects for a young, pretty (if I do say so myself) and certainly effeminate gay man.
I was acquitted (on a technicality) of the charges brought against me, but I continued for several years to be the target of governmental harassment. My mail, e.g., was routinely opened and left at my doorstep atop the envelopes, so I would be sure to know that it had been read. Yes, Virginia, it was and is illegal.
Surely, in bringing charges against me for what they certainly knew was my first novel, the governmental censors must have intended in part to discourage me from writing any more. The irony of all this is that Gloria had been written on a whim, as a lark, really—the old “Gosh, I could do this” business. Probably, I would never have gone on to write any more books in this vein. It was my ambition to be a “serious” writer (I don’t think I know now what that is) when I grew up (I don’t know now what that is, either.)
I was outraged, however, by what had been done and was still being done to me, and to the constitutional guarantee of free speech, and being bullheaded by nature, I thought—perhaps a bit foolishly, in retrospect—that I would “show them.” Far from being dissuaded from writing more sexy paperbacks, I felt obligated to give it a few more whirls.
The problem was, I had many friends who were lesbians but I personally was not, so the books I could write in that vein were unhappily akin to the faux-lesbian books popular then and mostly written by heterosexual males for the pleasure of other heterosexual males.
What I wanted to write were gay novels; and after the Aday and Maxey convictions, there was little enthusiasm on the part of publishers for material of that sort; and the potential popular gay market had not yet been tapped. “Who would buy them?” publishers asked repeatedly.
Undeterred, I wrote my gay novel, The Why Not, and after a time it fortunately landed on the desk of Earl Kemp at Greenleaf Classics. Greenleaf had not done any gay material up till then, and Earl himself was resolutely heterosexual and, as he himself has admitted, really quite ignorant of the gay world and especially of gay fiction. He was, however, an iconoclast, and firmly committed to battering down the barriers to sexual expression in print, and he was happy to take on the anti-homosexual forces as well. Greenleaf published The Why Not, it sold well, and got good reviews, and Earl indicated that he was amenable to seeing something more.
By this time, however, I had become a gay activist, and I began to look askance at that “sad-young-men” school of gay writing, in which, I regretted to admit, I now included The Why Not. When I read it again, I was dismayed to realize that there was hardly a happy character or incident in the book. Mostly it was gloom and doom.
Now, it is true, gay life in those early years could be painful, burdensome, and dangerous; but in dwelling exclusively on those aspects of our society, I thought those books, mine included, were essentially dishonest. I decided that I wanted to write a book about a happy homosexual who remained happy, and alive, and gay, in the final chapter.
The result was The Man from C. A. M. P., a spy spoof featuring agent Jackie Holmes, who worked for a super-secret organization, C. A. M. P., dedicated to the protection and advancement of homosexuals everywhere.
I think Earl Kemp must have blinked and gasped when I sent him the manuscript. I am convinced that there was not another editor in the U. S. of A. at that time who would even have considered publishing that novel; but gamely publish it Earl did, and the rest is truly a part of gay history. Delighted gays took to this new kind of offering like ducks to the village pond. The book sold phenomenally well, so much so that an entire series of books followed, eight more Jackie Holmes adventures, and several spin offs.
More importantly, having seen that the market was far greater than anyone heretofore had imagined and that gays were enthusiastically receptive to books that portrayed them in a positive light, Earl and Greenleaf published over the next several years a variety of gay material in just about every genre imaginable: mysteries and histories and comedies and sci-fi and adventure and cowboys and sailors, the whole gamut of gay experience—no, make that human experience. Many of those books were written by me or by writers that I tutored, and for whom I became a de facto agent. It was joked in the industry that the gay publishing revolution had mostly happened around my kitchen table, and there was more than a little truth in the statement. At one time, some seventy-five to eighty percent of the gay novels being published were written by me or by my protégés.
In short order, other publishers became aware that Greenleaf was making lots of money catering to this “new” market, and they soon enough jumped on the bandwagon, and a revolution in gay publishing was truly and irrevocably launched. In the ten years leading up to 1966, when The Why Not appeared, there were only a few dozen genuinely gay novels published. In the decade that followed, there were thousands, some say as many as ten thousand. A revolution indeed. And many historians believe that it was this explosion of gay publishing that first led to a sense of community among gays, and so was a major contribution to the larger social revolution that followed.
So, yes, I can look back with I think justifiable pride in having played a part, if a minor one, in opening doors to gay writers in particular and breaking down barriers in expression for writers in general. The freedom mainstream writers enjoy today springs directly from that publishing revolution of ours. It would be dishonest of me to pretend that I do not take some gratification from that fact. On the other hand, the C.A.M.P. books and the scores of gay books that came after them were, on balance, only a small part of my total output. At the time I wrote them, I was just starting out on what has proven to be a far longer and more felicitous career than I would have imagined then.
I have written in all somewhere close to one hundred and fifty books (I stopped counting long ago), and many short pieces as well, under a variety of pen names. From 1970 until just the last couple of years, none of them were gay oriented, though I now find myself turning back to those roots and enjoying rediscovering them.
So, how does one neatly summarize that sort of checkered career? Really, I think I had it right to begin with, and I’m going to stick with that:
In memoriam Victor J. Banis (1937–2019): A prolific author of pulps, porn, queer fiction and nonfiction under his own name and numerous pseudonyms including Don Holliday, Victor Jay, J. X. Williams and Jay Vickery.
Banis died February 22 in Martinsburg, West Virginia, where he had lived since 2004. He was 81 years old.
A longtime resident of Los Angeles (1960–1985) and then San Francisco (1985–2004), Banis published his first short story in 1963 in the Swiss homophile journal Der Kreis. He went on to write heterosexual, bisexual and gay erotic fiction for Brandon House, Greenleaf Press and Sherburne Press.
From 1966 to 1968, Banis produced eight pulp fiction titles in his “Man From C.A.M.P.” series — a fabulously queer takeoff of the “Man From UNCLE” television series. The protagonist of the novels is a brazenly gay undercover agent named Jackie Holmes.
Banis also wrote pop sexology titles, including the one seen here, which is part of my personal library: “Men & Their Boys” (Los Angeles: Medco Books, 1966). The author inscribed this copy when I met him at an event at A Different Light Bookstore in San Francisco in the early 1990s.
The book consists largely of somewhat racy case histories featuring quotes from interviews. This genre became highly popular with erotica publishers in the late 1960s, and I have always wondered if the cases were merely (im)pure fiction — so I once sent Victor a Facebook message to pose the question.
He very generously replied with the lowdown on the book, the publisher and the case histories, which, he said, were based on stories of people he knew or knew about — and on his own experiences: “I did try to keep everything authentic.”
Farewell to one of our pioneering creators of American queer popular culture. To learn more about his work, read his saucy memoir, “Spine Intact, Some Creases” (Wildside Press, 2008), readily available online in a print-on-demand edition for around $20.h
MARTINSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA — Victor J. Banis, 81, of Martinsburg, West Virginia, died Feb. 22, 2019.Born May 25, 1937 in Alexandria, Pennsylvania to William and Anna (Wing) Banis, he was preceded in death by brothers William M., Albert, Robert (Dick), and Sam and sisters Eva Huddleston, May Crouse and Ruth Nance.He is survived by his brother Pat of Cincinnati, and sisters Fanny Kisling of Eaton, and Anne Blackmore of Wadsworth, and numerous nieces and nephews.Victor grew up in the Eaton area and was a 1955 graduate of Eaton High School. Having lived in several areas of the country, he eventually settled in California where he pursued his writing career. He was the published author of more than 250 books in several genres, The Man From C.A.M.P. being his most well known. A man of great wit and intelligence, he will always be remembered as a wonderful storyteller.A memorial celebration is being planned for the spring. Memorial gifts may be made to the Hospice facility of choice.