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Loony, Bogus Man of God
Newly recruited by the Protocols of the Elders of the Gay Agenda I knew Savannah wasn't the place for me. The Basement, the town's only gay bar in those days was exactly that: a big room with naked brick walls and a couple of cheap beer signs. An old friend who lived in Atlanta was unhappy with her lover, circumstances found her renting an apartment for her, Gordon and myself.
The apartment she rented wasn't ready the day Gordon and I hit Atlanta. There was a youth hostel, run by a man who called himself Father Lloyd, a few houses away and I spent my first night in the big city sleeping on the floor.
But not long after I'd spend a lot of time there. Since I think of myself as a reticent, stick-in-the mud it baffles me how easily I mingled with people back then. Might be I was hungry for novelty or at least city life. Possibly I'm more comfortable with odd people than the ordinary. Maybe my self-image is askew. I don't remember how I wound up hanging out there.
Father Lloyd wore clerical garb, had a big cross around his neck. But he wasn't a priest as he claimed. The drag was handy for getting donations out of more mundane types who ran businesses. If only a bunch of free Dunkin' Donuts. On some level he had the delusion that he really was the priest he'd obviously never been. You can't graduate seminary school and be that ignorant. And he was ignorant, more than a little daft.
I wish I'd thought to ask him about his early days and how he got started in the priest, do-gooder racket. Father Lloyd must've had some good stories he could've told. I just accepted his image of himself. Perhaps he thought his calling was its own anointing. Maybe he was a con man who'd seen better days.
He was openly gay. Not having any or his original teeth he wore dentures. He was the first tooth-free man that I ever heard brag about his ability to give 'hum jobs.' If he ever slept with or made a pass at any of the guys in his houses I never saw it or heard rumor of it. Hard to believe, maybe I was just too naïve.
His vagueness was near to dementia. But for a long stretch he kept the house open. He may have moved because the building was to be torn down or refurbished.
The only person I remember was a man who'd visit. A product of steroids and heavy iron. By trade he was a bill collector. Not on the phone. For loan sharks and drug dealers. He'd brag about the joy it gave him to invoke fear and to beat the shit out of people. He sure invoked fear out of me and I was scared shitless.
I moved back to Savannah and had to live with my parents again. I got busted for telephone harassment. They arrested my father when he came home from work. When I finally showed up he wasn't even annoyed. From me it seemed like blessed normality.
The terms of my nolo contendre were to see public welfare shrinks. I met with a team of two women. They expected a repentant youth. Not me. I told them I was happy with what I did. Didn't feel guilty. While I was unfailingly polite they threw me out of my office. So I went to the psychiatrist I'd been forced to visit when I was in my mid to late teens. Literate, urbane, he was easy to get along with. I managed to convince my probation officer that I'd go crazy if I didn't get back to Atlanta, pretty much the truth. Being near my daddy made me feel somewhere between homicidal and suicidal. But he said I had to have a place to live. I chose Father Lloyd's.
Father Lloyd had moved to the mostly black South side of Atlanta. The neat division of races had an odd effect on Atlanta's street names. Way back when the white folks felt uncomfortable living on the same streets as black folks. Ponce de Leon cut a clean path east and west. So they changed the names of the streets as they crossed Ponce de Leon. This silly bit of verbal razzle-dazzle made the white folks happy.
Times were changing and Father Lloyd's youth hostel had as well. The place was mostly filled with rednecks and bikers. But even with them and trying sleep on a couch while people yelled and raised hell was better than being near Mack Emory Lee. I was happy enough.
Enter my Atlanta parole officer. He'd Father Lloyd and didn't approve. He told me I'd have to move. I did. Shortly thereafter I wised up and stopped seeing the old martinet. For all I know there's still an open warrant on me in Georgia.
Out in San Francisco an Atlanta friend told me that Father Lloyd was in town. I found out where and took a cab (beats me why, SF buses and subways could get you anywhere in short order).
Ego-slappingly enough he didn't remember. He only seemed to have three guys in his care. In the Baghdad by the Bay there was stiff competition for donations. Doubtlessly better places to crash than with a crank bogus priest. He was still hustling people for donuts.
That was the last time I saw him. Hope he managed to keep his odd way of life going to the end. Or still is if life is left in him.