Excerpt from Linda Danz's collection of short stories: Breath Visible, published by Bookbaby, December 2017


Until AIDS put the fear into those who had the power to close the bars and bath houses, some of her gay friends still frequented Badlands and The Mineshaft. Danger went hand in hand with sexual bondage. But the playground proved intolerable when a murderous drive-by shooting scattered the men outside The Ramrod.

If Lana was at all unsure of Rodolfo, doubt sharpened at parties or at a vernissage for Rodolfo’s latest exhibition, where he encountered men who were bolder. His disdain for them was palpable. He kept his eyes averted when introduced, but she caught a flicker of interest, a covert recognition. Later these men revealed to her that they had witnessed Rodolfo—or somebody who looked very much like him—engaging in sex play or cruising the treacherous territory of the piers.
Rodolfo dismissed her encouragement to “come out” as trespassing. “You know them,” she ventured. Once he became angry with her, she never spoke of it again.

If he mentioned someone in his crowd, “La-a-a-na, I am a frahnd to Jean-Michel. What I can do? Terrible, terrible, the drugs,” she knew what kind of friend he meant.