the door swings closed behind us.
Now the first part of Clarkâs is pretty much in keeping with the outside. Itâs a small anteroom, as shabby as the front, and it smells of the three guys who are playing draw poker around a folding green baize table next to the entrance into the second part of Clarkâs. The three players all know Murdock and me and we all know them. The game doesnât pause just because weâve come in, but one of the guys, a guy called Arthur Montgomery, says, âHello, friends, how are things with you this afternoon?â
Murdock says to me, âIs it afternoon, Roy?â
âShucks, I donât know, George,â I say to him. âWe been working so hard this morning Iâm damned if I know what time it is.â
âWell,â Murdock says, âyou can rely on Arthur. Christ, if Arthur tells us itâs afternoon, then, Christ, it must be because Arthur knows what time it is, donât you Arthur?â
Arthur says, âYou two going in?â
âNo, weâre not going in, Arthur,â I say to him. âWe just dropped by to ask for the brand name of your deodorant.â
âI donât use one,â Arthur says.
âYou donât say?â Murdock says. âHe doesnât use a deodorant. How about that, Roy?â
I shake my head in amazement and Arthur gets up, taking care to bring his cards with him. He goes over to the door and kicks it; the door opens slightly not revealing anything or
anybody behind it, and Arthur says, âTwo guys coming in. Cops.â
The door doesnât move for about a minute and then itâs pulled in a foot or so more, giving Murdock and me just enough room to go through one at a time. After the doorâs closed behind us and the curtains beyond have been drawn, weâre inside of Clarkâs and Clarkâs, you have to admit, is quite something. Considering where it is and considering everything else.
The whole point about Clarkâs, which in a sense is in keeping with the unreality of its situation, is that thereâs never been anybody called Clark thatâs had anything to do with the place. As long as Iâve known it, itâs been run by a guy called Moses Shapiro and Moses himself adds to the unreality of the place, not only because of his personality, but because he doesnât belong to anybody. Nobody owns him. Not one of the organizations has a piece of him, and that in itself makes Moses a pretty unusual character. But if it werenât for that, that apart, Moses doesnât need that kind of immunity to make him special. Moses is bigger than life in every way, apart from his size. Heâs the toughest queen I ever met and could take on anything that happened to be pushed his way. I know professionals whoâd never say a wrong word or ever put a foot wrong inside of Clarkâs because of what Moses would be likely to do to them if their play didnât happen to suit him. Moses, with his bald head glowing above his kaftan, his silky trousers and his furry slippers is able to take any six or seven guys apart without breaking sweat. His fat ringed fingers and the gross muscles on his arms and legs go to work as if thatâs the only thing he was born to do which, of course, it isnât: he was born to persecute everything that isnât gay. Moses is one of those guys who isnât satisfied with the guys he can make easily. He likes to bear down on the guys who arenât gay, or at least donât think they are. He likes to use his muscleâin fact, rape with a view to corruption is his bag, and as a rule, if Moses sets out to bear down, then whoever heâs bearing down on donât stand a chance, no way. In fact, some of the guys Moses has had never walk back to the other side of the line. Of course, itâs not all muscle with Moses; he uses softeners a lot of the time, and two of those softeners are two sisters, real sisters, real
Bill Fawcett, J. E. Mooney