Indulge me on this windy Sunday… Grab a cup of tea and read on. This is an excerpt from [my life and] my first novel, Upside Down Kingdom, at the end of Chapter One:

book…I passed the Upscale, watching the manager try to deal with the angry people I left behind. “Alright sir, what did you order?” I heard through the open door, and then the commotion started as the entire section realized someone was being helped. Some of them called the manager to them; others rushed toward him to get is attention. This being the first time I ever walked out on a job, I stopped to watch. The manager hadn’t heard “Mr. Red Shirt’s” order and asked him to repeat it. At the same time two more malcontents approached from his left flank and stared yelling their version. Somebody dropped a tray of glasses in the back of the restaurant, an hourly event met with cheering at the Upscale, and the confusion was only getting started. Part of me, the responsible part, wanted to go back in there and finish the job I’d started. That part even felt bad for the people I left behind.

But then I spotted my tray, still on the coffee girls’ table where I’d left it. I was finally on the outside looking in again. I’d come full circle, and going back in there was the last thing on earth that I would do. I willed my feet to keep moving. I heard, “has anyone seen Amy?!?” just before walking out of earshot.

The drumbeats were getting louder as I approached the Circle, and I found the drum guy at the Metro entrance banging away on his buckets. He worked up a distinct rhythm using buckets of various sizes that he wheeled around from corner to corner in a liquor store cart. You could recognize his sound from blocks away, especially when he worked in his signature blasts from a lifeguard whistle tied around his neck. I stopped and watched for a little bit, bouncing to the beat with the rest of the crowd. A few drunken people stepped up to dance and the drum guy paced his beat to their movement. When they stared falling on each other I decided to move on.

I crossed into the park, which was easy this time of night because the circle traffic was nearly at a standstill with bar hoppers and cabs bumper-to-bumper. Dupont Circle boasted a park in the circle’s center, with a fountain and trees, benches and grassy spaces. It was a gathering place for all types of people, for good or ill, twenty-four hours a day while the traffic circled around. The neighborhood surrounding the park was also known as Dupont Circle, gay capital of Washington, D.C., and a sort of happenings hot spot. There were plenty of tourists by day, but the nightlife was full of people who went out to see and be seen.

When I first debated living in Washington, D.C., I was given specific and strange warnings about Dupont Circle. Specifically: “Stay out of the park, especially at night. You’ll probably get shot.” And strangely, rumors warned of cross-dressers wandering the Dupont streets, and of drag races on certain holidays. That was men dressed as women running toward a finish line, not car races. These things were in addition to the usual crime, corruption, and prostitution of typical cities. Dupont Circle was a crazy place, with its own set of rules that would defy logic if it were anywhere else. But here it worked. It was Washington, D.C. like no one outside this town had seen.book

I found an empty space on the west side of the fountain where I sat down to consider my options. It had been two years since I moved to the nation’s capital. It was in my first year that, thankfully, my life went to shit. That’s when things started getting good.

That’s just about the time I’d heard of the Upscale…

~

Read more of UDK on Amazon.

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