Friday, October 17, 2014

Two the Hard Way and Murder One/The Blueboy Library/1977

Set in snowy, freezing Minneapolis, Two, the Hard Way begins with blond-haired, blue-eyed, 32-year-old homicide detective Bert Sonderstrom watching a gay stag movie recovered from the apartment of middle-aged murder victim Mel Aanerud. It gets Bert to idly reminiscing about his first sexual encounter, when he was 11 and his best friend, Jimmy, was 14... Not that he's gay or anything. Bert is dating a girl named Betty and has even thought about proposing, though he liked her a lot better when she was a trembling virgin... he's beginning to think that sweet talking Betty into bed wasn't such a great idea, because she took to sex like a tigress to raw meat and Bert just isn't into sexually aggressive women.

Anyway, back to the crime: Aanerud, a quiet, well-off financial consultant, was married, but his invalid wife has been in a Maryland convalescent home for years. His upscale apartment is tastefully decorated (too-chic '50s Paul McCobb moderne, if you please) and "neat as a pin," a dramatic contrast to Aanerud's messy corpse. The dead man was both shot in the head and castrated, though oddly enough, the castration occurred several hours after death. Bert's partner, Barney, cleverly pegs it as "a fag murder," but the only clue is a receipt from a gas station in semi-rural Anoka, some 35 miles north of the city and not exactly Greenwich Village's country cousin. Bert checks it out anyway, and the chatty station owner not only recognizes Aanerud's photo but directs Bert to his isolated weekend house and volunteers that Aanerud never had visitors, but local kid David Martin looked after the place during the week.

Bert is checking the place out – making careful note of Aanerud's substantial collection of gay porn -- when who should show up but pretty little David, who quickly reveals that he and Aanerud liked photographing themselves recreating poses from a favorite porn book. The snapshots are nowhere to be found, but just thinking about them excites David, who proves well trained (Harper prefers the word "conditioned") in the art of servicing adult men, and had Bert's repressed number at hello.

Bert knows fooling around with an 11-year-old is 100 different kinds of wrong, but -- like Larry Baldwin -- can't resist the aggressive child's hairless body ("covered with a layer of delightfully plump baby fat") "cute little penis" and insatiable lust for cock. David proceeds to blow Bert's, um, mind six ways to Sunday, and several hours later the dazed cop has gone from same-sex virgin to master of the gay Kama Sutra thanks to the tutelage of a precocious pre-teen (it's surely no coincidence that Bert was Bobby's age when he first dallied with Jimmy, though he's apparently so stupefied that the whole Jimmy business has abruptly slipped his mind). Everything is downhill from there: Someone tries to run Bert off the road as he drives back to Minneapolis and Betty is just plain nasty when he isn't in the mood for sex, accusing him of being queer before throwing him out on his ass.

The next day, Bert pursues David's casual remark that Aanerud had a friend named Jerome who ran a gym, eventually locating the Roman Palace Heath Club and its owner, Jerome Whitman. Jerome swears that Aanerud had no enemies and has an airtight alibi for the time of the murder: He was in jail on a DUI rap. He also knows all about the dirty photos and is puzzled that they weren't at the house – that's where Aanerud kept them. He suggests that Bert check up on a coke-addicted lowlife named Carter Duncan, with whom he and Aanerud briefly fooled around. The well-endowed Jerome also applies himself vigorously to furthering Bert's sexual education.

Duncan turns out to be a fat creep who frequents porn theaters, but he also has an alibi and anyway, Bert is convinced that the missing photos are the key to Aanerud's murder. He heads back to the house, where Jerome has promised to meet him later, but first makes a detour to the Martin farm on the chance that David's dad, taciturn patriarch Harvey, might know something useful about his late neighbor. He doesn't, but promises to send his son over after school. By the time little David arrives, Bert and Jerome are sick of searching for the still-missing photos and primed for some seriously orgying, though they first have to listen to the child's assertion that his father would kill him if he knew what he was up to… Not that David cares, since he and Aanerud once saw the oh-so-righteous Harvey having carnal knowledge of a sheep. When Jerome and Bert finally tear themselves away from David's pliant young flesh and head for their cars, someone runs Jerome down and barely misses Bert, who suddenly realizes who the killer must be. He asks Barney to meet him at the Martin farm, where old man Martin, ranting wildly about sodomites, tries to kill them but accidentally shoots his wife instead. Barney kills him, and he and Bert deliver the remarkably untraumatized Bobby into an uncle's care. But Bert has an idea: What if he were to adopt David; you know, give the boy a fresh start in a loving and understanding home? The end... or the beginning?

Having tested the child-diddling waters with Two, the Hard Way's 14-but-looks-younger Bobby, Harper abandons all pretense in Murder One: Natural-born exhibitionist David Martin is barely old enough to come and yet too avidly aggressive for grown men to resist.

Granted, this particular brand of boy lust is nothing new -- you have to turn a very blind eye indeed not to see it in the slyly sensual putti that litter the work of painters from Annibal Carracci (1560-1609) to Leon Bazille-Perrault (1832-1908) – but that doesn't make it okay and may well why Mr. "Sydney Harper" -- whom I have no reason to believe is in any way connected to the numerous singers, artists, ad marketers, athletes, police officers, crafters and students, almost all women, named Sydney Harper who crowd the web -- quietly left the stage after writing these two books.

Browse Vintage Gay Pups
The Boy Avengers, Boys Behind Bars, Chamber of Homos, The Concentration of Hans, From Steve, With Love, The Gay Haunt, His Brother's Keeper, Hot Asset!, The HIS 69 Artist's Sketchbook, Intensive Care, The Long Leather Cord, The Male Maulers, Man Eater, Master of Monfortin, Murder One and Two the Hard Way, The Number on the John Wall, The Pile Drivers, The Sexual Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Tailpipe Trucker, Things Never Went Right... Three Ring Sex Circus, The Wisteria Club

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