Wordsmith. Writer. Author. Larry Benjamin.

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Excerpt

The Hunger

The Lost Boys

    They prowled the burning pavement like caged animals in the liquid night. Cat eyes piercing the dark. Imprisoned by their hunger.

    An itinerant troop of boys and young men, their numbers swelled during the summer and shrank in winter, with only the hardiest and hungriest remaining. They seemed to exist only at night and in a world of their own making. A parallel universe. With the descending curtain of night, others, hungry, would step across the divisive threshold; each would feed on the hunger of the other. 

    They were lost in the night, hidden by the shadows. They lived for the night and only in the night. For it was only in the dark that they came to light. They who had been last became first. They, the rejected stone, rose up and took their place as the head cornerstone. With the shattering dawn, the jerry-built structure of the night collapsed. The rising sun parted the night to expose gaunt faces; taut, empty bellies; cracked eyes leaking a creeping, consumptive fear.

    Some are gay. Many are not. Most are so sexually amorphous they make categorization impossible. Still others, essentially homosexual, continue to deal with women—whistling and leering, currying favor in fierce denial of...what?

    I have always thought of them as the Lost Boys, for they appeared on no one’s census; no one claimed them on the “dependents” line of their tax form; no mother came looking for them at ten o’clock, ordering them to bed. 

    Many of these boys—and they were only boys—would never grow into manhood, succumbing to drugs or it or the violence of the electric night in which they were drawn together and torn apart. They, these boys, wrote and rewrote their histories with such alacrity and astonishing frequency that they were always what you expected, what you needed them to be. Their true histories became superfluous, irrelevant, as they became exclusively the character of their own inventiveness. Others were good-looking enough to need no history, to need no words; they could rely on the heroic thrust of a stiff nipple against thin cotton, or a sizeable somnolent penis slumbering under a thin cover of acid-washed denim.
They claimed as their own an area slightly south of Center City’s downtown. It was an area approximately one square block in size. It was bisected through the middle by a narrow pointless street like the cleft of an ass. A large chunk of the southwestern corner was bitten off by a small profitable parking lot. Daily, it held hostage the dozens of cars that conveyed the city workers downtown from the encroaching suburbs.

    This small outpost in the urban jungle was known as The Merry-Go-Round.


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