Character Spotlight: Ruth

June 1, 2015

Ruth is a relatively minor character in the book, but she’s a major influence in Clay’s life. She’s definitely a mother figure to him, and really to all of the boys who frequent her establishment. She’s a woman ahead of her time, and she came by it honestly–through a life full of experiences and heartbreaks of her own.


It wasn’t just the connection to Clay’s business that was putting her at risk, either. Every Wednesday night for the past two years, she’d closed the bar for “private parties.” Everyone who wanted to come paid five dollars to become a “member of the club” for that evening only, and of course no one was forced to give a real name. Clay’s boys were welcome to come, but no one conducted business on those evenings. These were social events, open to men and women, though the majority of the attendees were male. Clay wished they could get more women, and had been thinking of how he might be better able to get the word out to the dykes. A more mixed crowd might seem less suspicious.

She’d started up these parties after a late-night conversation with Clay, a few months after he’d gotten involved with Silas. They had been sitting in the bar, and she’d come around to sit by him on a stool, sipping a large glass of gin.

You seem different these days,” she said. “Used to be, sometimes I felt like I was talking to a block of wood, you were so damn stoic. And when you weren’t being stoic, you were dour.”

Clay nodded, running his thumb through the condensation on the side of his glass. “I feel different,” he said. “It’s the first time I feel like maybe nothing is really wrong with me. I know I—I always said that, before. It’s not wrong, it’s not bad, just different. That was what I said, and what I believed in my mind to be true. But I never really… felt like it was true, because it had never made me happy before. Even with David, when I thought I was so in love with him, it was always sad. But now,” he said, looking up at her, unable to stop a grin from spreading all across his face, “now I have something that feels real, and good, and I’m so happy. Even if it doesn’t work out, and we eventually split up or something, now I know that this is possible.”

Ruth turned away, and amazingly, Clay saw her surreptitiously swipe at her eyes. She’d told him once that she had a soft spot for “boys like you,” but he didn’t know why. Not being one to pry, he’d never asked her, but he wanted to now. “How come most people hate us, but you don’t?” he asked.

She shrugged and gave him a wry smile. He caught a glimpse of the sexy woman she must have been once. He thought she must have been intimidating. “Honey, I’ve seen a lot of life. Been divorced once and widowed twice, and had my share of lovers in between. I’ve seen some good things, but a hell of a lot more bad. I’ve seen death and cruelty and poverty. I’ve seen a great many things worse than two men who want to screw each other, or two women. Good Lord, why should anyone care about that? They say all kinds of nonsense about it, like it leads to depravity, right? Well, anyone with any life experience knows that desperation is what leads to depravity—desperation, fear, deprivation. And that’s not your fault, it’s theirs.”

Clay had never hugged Ruth before, wasn’t inclined to hug anyone, ever, except Silas, but the impulse was sudden and irresistible. He put his drink down and lunged forward, grabbing her in a hug and making her splash a little gin down the front of her dress. “Sorry,” he said, sniffing back tears.

Ruth was laughing, and crying a little more herself. “That’s all right, son,” she said, and their eyes met briefly. “Gin don’t stain.” She gazed at him some more like she was thinking through something, then said, “I got an idea. Tell me what you think….”


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4 Responses to “Character Spotlight: Ruth”

  1. Mark says:

    She seems a really nice motherly figure and not a minor character at all

  2. Keelan says:

    She’s an important character, she’s just not in it that much.

  3. H.B. says:

    It’s nice to see a strong female role model in an m/m book.

  4. Keelan says:

    Thanks, I think so too. I didn’t want to put one in as a token, but I think she’s a natural character to have in it.

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