Sweet Homo Alabama

an excerpt

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Enterprise, Alabama

7:37 p.m.

Cameron Cody's tightly muscled physique was slouched on his parents' lumpy sofa, the same one he used to sink into during his school days. Since that time, tatters, wear and fading had been added to the sofa's lumpy nature. It was incongruous that his lounged body was the very same physique that thrilled countless horny fans each and every time it appeared nude and in sexual situations in Hottie International theatrical and home video gay adult films. But here in Enterprise, Alabama, in his parents' modest home, it, and he, were nothing special.

In truth, until puberty had its unpredictable way with Cameron Cody, transforming him from an odd-looking duckling into the handsomest of swans, he had only been known as Fred and Bev's beanpole kid-the boy with the freaky gold-flecked lavender eyes-the one who wore the scoliosis brace in grammar school.

More recently, fame, time and California living had compelled him to reassess that small-town Alabama upbringing. The longer Cameron Cody lived in Los Angeles, the shabbier his childhood home, as well as his hometown, seemed. And this mental downgrading wasn't just his imagination running away with him; nor was it the result of his becoming a spoiled celebrity. Pretty much everything in Enterprise, Alabama, as well as in his folks' house was in decline.

Cam reflected on the truth of the matter: Growing up, he hadn't really been aware of his family's modest means, nor the town's nowhere special status. Back then, no one he knew had anything better, or newer, than what he saw at home, or in his hometown.

Of course, even in grade school, Cam had been aware of the big houses, the mansions on Cherokee Street, and the even bigger estates with acreage, off of Shellfield Road. But his sharecropper family hadn't known anyone who lived on that side of the tracks-the wealthy side.

Television and movies had shown Cameron Cody a world of big cities, where beautiful people lived large. But growing up in Enterprise, they had seemed as far away from his reality as the moon and the stars.

And, even though the Cody family lived on the poor side of town, Cam had come into adolescence feeling blessed-more blessed than many of his childhood peers-the ones who lived in mobile homes. At least, the Cody's house was not on wheels. And it had been large enough to comfortably accommodate him, his parents, and even his paternal grandparents, during their final years.

As for his folks, Fred and Beverly Cody had always made ends meet, if barely. The family's bills had always been paid in a timely manner. There had never been a bill collector at their door, or calling on the phone.

Slouching further down into the sofa, Cam smiled to himself. It was a secret, sly smile. In conversation with his parents, he always called them, Mom and Dad. But when Cam thought about them, the small voice in his head - the voice with a naughty sense of humor - always morphed their first names, Fred and Beverly, into Food and Beverage. Sometimes, in conversations with friends, and even with some of his cousins, that's what he called them. "Of course, Food and Beverage would have none of it," he might tell Cousin Linda. Or, to a high school friend, he might quip, "You can just imagine how Food and Beverage felt about my coming home three hours after curfew, and with a snootful."

But despite his frivolous nicknames for them, Cameron Cody loved and respected his parents.

Yes, Food and Beverage Cody never had bill collectors knocking on their door, or calling them on the phone. But there had never been money to upgrade to things new, and one bad crop could bring financial disaster. That's just the way things were for small-town Alabama sharecroppers. At one time, Cam had believed that was how it was for most everyone, until, at age twenty, he had moved to Los Angeles.

Over the past five years, Cam had done very well financially, and he had tried repeatedly to help his parents. But his father, a proud man, had torn up, and then returned, every check he had sent. When he had bought them a new freezer to replace their broken old one, his dad had refused delivery of the appliance.

Truth be known, just last week, on the telephone, Cam and his dad had gotten into a verbal scuffle about things financial. When Cam had insisted upon renting a car at the Montgomery airport for the drive into Enterprise, Fred Cody had argued that it was a waste of good money. "Your mother and I will be happy to pick you up."

But, for once, Cam had prevailed. He wouldn't have his parents driving the seventy-seven miles to Montgomery, not when he could well afford the rental. And not when they, and everyone else, were extra busy in advent of the Christmas holiday.

Cam shifted uneasily on the uncomfortable sofa. He ran a hair through his coarse blond hair, cut to a crew for his upcoming role in a 1950s-set, sex romp, The Seven-Year-Bitch. And no, he wasn't playing the lead role-not this time. That part had gone to an eighteen-year-old, raven-haired boy, Cal Fontenla, who had literally walked off Hollywood Boulevard and into the offices of the adult entertainment conglomerate that had made Cam a star.