First Pages: Pretty Boy by Jay Greene
Welcome to First Pages on Fridays! Every Friday, we share the first pages from a book (usually vintage), along with a bit of information about the author and the book’s history.
This week’s book is the paperback pulp novel Pretty Boy by Jay Greene, published in 1968 by Midwood Publications. As mentioned on the now-defunct blog Pulpnography, “Like other paperback publishers of the 60s, Midwood Publications (New York), mainly published straight pulp novels. Toward the end of the decade, there was a smattering of gay titles available from a handful of authors.” Notably, Jay Greene published 13 books under Midwood in the late-1960’s through the mid-1970’s, although he has been all but forgotten now, and many of his books are difficult to find.
Here are the first pages of the book. Enjoy!
The sun was bright that morning, the ocean unnaturally clear and calm with the gentleness before a storm. Only a vagrant ripple could be seen on the shimmering green water as it rolled lazily in toward shore, swept with a lover’s caress over the pure white sand, then retreated. Overhead the Pacific sky was a pure azure blue without a single blotch of white cloud. The air was still and virtually soundless.
From the lush green banks of the island, beyond the stretch of sand and coral encircling it, an occasional bird could be heard calling high in the trees as it fluttered its bright plumage and began to explore the morning. But nothing more.
Serenity enveloped Talao. Time seemed to have stopped for the tiny island, holding it suspended in a season of eternal perfection–the last vestige of an innocent world.
And then, so suddenly that it, too, seemed to fit perfectly into the scheme of nature, the air was alive with the sound of voices. Happy, vibrant laughter and jubilant cries rang from beyond the rim of greenery and streamed through onto the sand as the boys rushed to the water.
There were three dozen of them in a pack at first, running as one over the untrod beach. But within moments they had broken into thirty-six separate bodies, each rushing independent of the other into the ocean to begin the morning’s work. The air was ablaze with color as they stripped away the bright scraps of cloth which had been tucked around their waists and threw them, swirling in concentric patterns, toward the dry land. Reds and bright purples and purest yellow mixed with turquoise and lush gold, flew together for a single moment, then floated like the feathers of the island birds to ground.
The only colors mixed with the rich green of the water now were black and bronze. The rich, deep black of the boys’ straight silken hair and the shimmering bronze of their glistening skin as they splashed and threw out their nets. The gentle surf roared with the kicking of their legs and the thrashing of their arms as they fished, spraying up towers of foaming white mist which fell onto muscular, broad shoulders and trickled down corded backs to highlight the rounded curves of golden, naked buttocks.
Talao seemed truly alive now, responding to the surge of life on its beach. The tall palms swayed gently at their tops, scattering hundreds of brilliantly colored birds into the heavens. Swooping and chattering, they descended on the sea as well, competing with the young island boys for the rich catch of fish. A sudden flurry of sparkling red and emerald shot over the water, then rose into the sky with its catch and was immediately pursued by a rainbow of feathers. The boys watched and laughed. There was plenty for all.
When the nets were full, glistening bodies strained to pull them from the water. Those who had already dragged in their haul helped the others, while on the beach a half-dozen fires were lit and tended. Great succulent fish were placed carefully among the blazing sticks and the rich aroma of their frying spread quickly.
When the last of the nets had been gathered in, the young fishermen retrieved their bright scraps of cloth and gathered around the fires. The flames reflected on wet skin, giving it an additional sparkle before the boys rubbed themselves dry with their cloths. Their faces were radiantly happy as they clasped their arms around each other and laughed and talked about the morning’s catch. It had been good.
One of the boys who had been among the last to come up from the sea stretched his loincloth into a tight strip and snapped it playfully at the bare buttocks of another boy who had been bending close to the fire. The second boy squealed in surprise and whirled to face the challenge. Seeing the broad grin on his opponent’s face, he bent to retrieve his own cloth and twisted it quickly in his hands. Leaping away from the fire, he crouched with knees bent wide apart and began to circle the first boy, hooting and shouting as he snapped out with the strip of bright purple.
Those who were not already eating or waiting for their fish to fry drew back from the fires and formed a circle around the couple in playful combat, cheering and whistling as the strips of cloth slashed out and struck at strategic spots of the two naked young bodies.
Nearer and nearer the two boys moved to each other, continuing to circle back and forth and shout friendly threats to themselves and to those in the circle who mischievously struck out with their own loincloths and howled with laughter as they stung bare buttocks or thighs. When they were no more than two feet apart, the boys dropped their loincloths and stood motionless, their muscled chests heaving rapidly, their fine golden flesh covered with the sheen of perspiration. It seemed as though both had frozen stiff. No more than a brief flutter of an eye gave motion to their bodies.
Then, slowly but perceptible to the crowd encircling them, the two boys’ bodies began to quiver with life in a way that sent a gleeful howl up from the spectators. The two within the circle, however, continued to stand motionless while their hard young strength mounted proudly. The eyes of each followed the steady rise of the other, twinkling with pleasure as they watched.
They stood at last defiantly proud against one another, their young, thickly muscled legs spread wide apart, hands on slim golden hips, heads tossed back in challenge.
A hush silenced the circle of other boys, who watched with eager, delighted eyes. Several reached for the hand of the boy standing beside them and squeezed warmly as they waited. Richly bronzed muscles rippled with excitement and anticipation.
And then, when it seemed another moment’s delay would be unbearable torture, the two boys in the center of the ring suddenly cried out as one and were upon each other, arms encircling backs, legs twining together as both tried to unbalance and topple his opponent. Golden stomachs ground together, rubbing furiously from side to side as the two boys wrestled. Thick cords of muscle stretched out in stress as they fought.
The crowd was wild again, hopping and cheering, but not daring to join in now. This was not a time for pranks. The cries were wild with excitement, almost frenzied as the two combatants twisted and writhed their glistening bodies together.
Pretty good, huh? It gets steamier after that, believe me.
To see a selection of books by Jay Greene, visit the Somewhere Books online store.