First time author DoctorBuckles shares his scandalously raw Reagan Era/AIDS Crisis years life on the edge as Harken Darringer, one of the porn industry sex-trade hustlers on the last day of his life.
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It is September 18, 1997. The day Harken Darringer died. Written in three sections, Beginning, California, and End, Harken experiences three pivotal shifts in his life bringing him to his final moment.
In 1958, Carlotta, his mother, an alcoholic narcissistic lesbian concert pianist in St. Louis marries Harken’s father, a pacifist gay minister with a male lover (Uncle John) that lives nearby. They marry to hide their sexuality. Harken enters in 1959 as a pawn in their deception. Carlotta is angry when Harken’s father doesn’t hold up the marriage pretense and she does all she can to wedge apart the father’s relationship with his beloved John.
As Harken matures and his natural talent as a performer begins to eclipse Carlotta’s, she goes to war with him. Harken tries to escape Carlotta’s vitriolic personality by using his physical attractiveness as currency. It traumatically backfires and he falls into suicidal despair. Fearing he will kill himself if he stays under Carlotta’s reproach, Harken buys a one-way plane ticket to fairer weather and what he hopes will be happier times in Sunny California.
His plane lands in California on January 6, 1982 and he begins his career as a gay street hustler. Fortune shines. He befriends several sex workers, including a high priced callboy named Cain who becomes his closest friend. As Harken’s life is heating up, so too is the AIDS Crisis. The despair, fear and chaos of the ensuring epidemic pushes him to take a job doing marketing for a porn company and eventually procuring the talent.
Harken, who has a natural empathy for others, works a deal with the accountant of the porn business to channel funds helping street kids. Eventually Bob Haas, the owner, figures out Harken is taking prospective new porn talent off the streets and gives him an ultimatum, to disappear or die. Harken takes a leap of faith and leaves for San Francisco to start a new life. He finds an apartment, a legitimate job and makes new healthy friends and starts anew.
But almost immediately the life he left behind starts again and in no time he is diagnosed with AIDS and given six months to live. He decides to make his last days a blow out party of sex and drugs, quits his job and moves out of his apartment to what he thinks will be a short life of excitement on the streets. He doesn’t die and hits his lowest bottom. His health improves with the advent of new HIV medications and he’s forced to clean up.
In the end Harken decides to return to LA where he started and reacquaint himself with supportive friends. He starts to attend AA, procures a job and moves into a nice apartment. Things begin to look up. But, as before, his past calls and he begins working the sex trade again. The results are dire. He gets sick and slips into death. In his final hours he experiences the layered interpersonal involvements of his lifetime in a cosmic loop.