This is an interesting case because it almost slipped through the cracks, at the expense of a victim who was left psychologically damaged for life. In 2010 a lesbian, Millicent Gaika, was raped because she was a lesbian. The rapist, Andile Ngcoza, claimed he raped her to “show her she was a woman.” He not only raped her, but beat, strangled and tortured her for five hours. He was convicted in 2011 but failed to show up in court for sentencing and then vanished for two years. Evidently, they caught him and he was recently sentenced to 22 years in prison.
In final court proceedings this week, prosecutors at Wynberg Magistrate’s Court not only pointed out Ngcoza had three previous sexual attack convictions including sodomy and double rape, but also presented a psychological evaluation on Gaika.
The report revealed the attack left Gaika with nightmares and alcohol abuse issues. She also reportedly nearly killed herself in 2012.
It’s a good thing I’m not a judge. He’d be in prison for the rest of his life.
You can read the entire story in detail here.
FREE Gay Excerpt: Second Chance
Here’s a free excerpt from my newest indie release, Second Chance, which will be an ongoing series for a while. The theme behind the series deals with gay men getting second chances in life…but only if they want them. It’s also about choices, and how we often wonder about them sometimes…and wonder how things might have turned out if we’d made other choices.
Here’s the blurb for the first book, a 21,000 word novella that will be priced at .99. The book will be up for sale this weekend, and I’ll post links to where it’s being sold later today.
In this first novella of the Second Chance series, an older gay man who has lived a closeted life for ninety-two years is presented with choices one last time. Who hasn’t wondered how things might have turned out if only they’d made one or two different choices in their lives? Who hasn’t contemplated what it would be like for the chance to do things all over again a different way, if only that were possible?
When ninety-two year old Andy Walker shuffles out to his beloved vegetable garden one morning in June, he gets the surprise of his life. He winds up in the last place he could ever imagine, with the man of his dreams telling him there’s still time for a second chance and there’s still time for him to choose a different path than the one he’s already followed…but only if he’s willing to take the risk and revisit one of the most pivotal and painful moments of his life. There are no guarantees or promises of happily-ever-after, and no one can make Andy’s choices for him. And if he agrees to return to the year 1950 when he was still young and strong and handsome, only he will know whether or not it’s possible to alter the course of his entire life thanks to one unusual encounter with a stranger named Chip.
Even though Andy Walker would be turning ninety-three years old in a couple of weeks he wasn’t the kind of old man who could sit in a chair and stare out a window all day. In spite of numerous requests to move into one of those assisted living facilities from his only living relative, a seventy year old niece who lived in Chicago and visited two or three times a year, Andy planned to die at the ranch in Montana where he’d lived most of his life.
He still had decent eyesight, his hearing wasn’t that bad on a good day, and he only needed a cane on days when his hip really bothered him. He had a cleaning woman twice a week who did laundry, prepared meals, and went over the entire house. And a caretaker who mowed, weeded, white-washed, and handled what Andy didn’t feel safe doing anymore. He even drove into town two or three times a week in the same Jeep Cherokee he’d had for over twenty-five years.
Andy wasn’t a profound or deeply religious man. The one thing he’d noticed as he’d passed through life was the way he kept losing things that seemed so insignificant when he’d been younger, but continued to grow more important as he’d aged. He’d started out noticing he’d lost a cheap tie clip, or a pair of cuff links, or a page of sheet music he’d once enjoyed playing. Then one day he noticed he was losing his hair at the temples. By the time he noticed he’d lost the tight skin tone on his thighs and everything sagged and creased, he decided to hold on to the things over which he had control for as long as possible.
One of those things was his small vegetable garden next to the barn where Andy and his late wife had once boarded and trained horses. When Andy and Sarah June Walker had purchased the working ranch in western Montana many years earlier thanks to a cash wedding gift from his in-laws, Andy had always found time to plant a small vegetable garden in a long narrow section near the barn he’d surrounded with a white picket fence and chicken wire. The garden became his sanity sometimes. He would go there to forget about all he’d missed in life and all he’d sacrificed to do the right thing. In his case, doing the right thing had been marrying a nice girl he’d gotten into trouble one night when he’d been too drunk to remember what he’d been doing. When the baby that had changed the entire course of his life was delivered still born he was already married and there wasn’t much to do but settle into the life he’d chosen.
It wasn’t a bad life, not by any means. Although Sarah June never wanted another child, she made a good home, handled a good deal of work at the ranch that would have made most women scowl, and she had a sharp sense of humor that could always make Andy smile. He got her through breast cancer when she was in her forties; she got him through the burst appendix that almost took him at fifty-two years old. They had friends from Sarah June’s church with whom they went out to dinner, they had an annual Christmas party each year the first weekend in December, and they took a trip to Florida every winter when things were slow at the ranch.
When Sarah June first suggested they get twin beds because she claimed Andy tossed and turned too much in the middle of the night, Andy just shrugged and agreed. They’d been married fifteen years by then. He’d wanted to suggest it first but didn’t know how she’d react. A few years after that, Sarah June claimed it would be best for them to have separate bedrooms altogether because his snoring kept her up late at night. Andy didn’t mind this either. He moved into the guest room overlooking the barn that same night and never left.
It would have been a nice, easy life had it not been for the daydreams and the thoughts he often had whenever he saw one of the cowboys on the ranch wearing a tight pair of jeans move his legs a certain way. These thoughts had always been there, unnatural and cutting to the deepest part of his soul. And he’d always forced them out of his mind because he’d always been told they were wrong. And in the same respect, he’d always hired the best looking, most rugged, handsome young men to work at the ranch. Though he never actually admitted any of this aloud to anyone, he couldn’t help those strong feelings that stirred deeply in his body as he watched the rough young men lope to and from the barn with their scuffed up cowboy boots. In the summer he had to wear dark glasses a good deal of the time because the young men always removed their shirts on the hottest days, which could be both distracting and dangerous if he was working with machinery.
So Andy found two releases that kept him from acting on these strong urges: one release of a more carnal nature made him feel guilty when he was finished, the second made him feel as if he’d accomplished something worthwhile and created something no one else could. The second release was the garden, where he could turn nothing into something. It changed all the time; each year he planted a different variety of vegetables. And when he was down on his hands and knees digging in the dirt he found it was the only place he could forget all about his attraction toward other men and lose himself in something that was simple and mindless…and yet at the same time as natural as his attraction toward other men.
This particular year, he’d only planted a few tomatoes and peppers. There was only so much a ninety-two year old man could do, even if he was still as thin as he’d been when he was twenty-five. There was only so much he could eat. As it was he knew he’d wind up giving away most of the tomatoes and peppers at the end of the summer to his hired help and friends in town. But he didn’t mind because he didn’t garden to eat the vegetables. He gardened to grow and nurture and fill a void.
On a Wednesday morning in early June that year, only weeks before his ninety-third birthday, he set his coffee mug in the kitchen sink and headed out to the garden to see if the rains from the night before had done any damage. No one came to the house on Wednesdays. The cleaning woman worked at another house on Wednesdays and the caretaker came on Thursdays to mow and trim. He didn’t mind being alone, because no one would be around to remind him to take the damn cane that always seemed to slow him down more than help him move faster. All the people around him seemed to be fixated with him using the cane. Even the niece in Chicago ended her weekly Sunday afternoon phone call with, “And don’t forget to use that cane, Uncle.”
As he headed out the back door that Wednesday morning, he glanced at the cane leaning against the old Formica countertop that had been there since the 1940’s and flipped his middle finger. Then he lifted his head, squared his back, and headed down to the barn on his own two feet, the way he’d been walking around all his life. He’d learned that if he concentrated on his footing and looked down while he walked he didn’t stagger and sway as much.
At least he still had his mind after all these years. And he was only going down to the barn to make sure the slope that had been forming from weeks of heavy rain hadn’t washed out his freshly planted tomatoes and peppers. He could have waited for the caretaker to do it, but Andy had always found this particular caretaker to be clumsy and reckless and Andy didn’t want this guy’s big fat fingers bending or snapping the new plants.
As he rounded the corner of the huge barn that had once held more than forty horses, he grabbed the gate and held it tightly as he opened it so he wouldn’t slip in the mud. He wasn’t worried about falling and breaking a hip as much as he was worried about falling and breaking a hip and having to listen to everyone tell him it wouldn’t have happened if he’d had his cane. So he wound up taking extra precautions that morning.
By the time he reached the small garden with the white picket fence, he walked as if he were doing a slow two-step dance. At first, everything looked okay. Then he glanced to the back end of the small garden and noticed the slope had grown deeper and filled with water to the point where most of the plants on that end wouldn’t survive if he didn’t do something fast. He turned and made his way back to the barn taking quick short steps through the slippery mud. In the barn, he found a shovel and the cut-off bottom half of an old Clorox bottle he’d once used to spread rock salt in the wintertime.
The shovel helped him walk back to the garden without making him feel as if he’d been reduced to using a cane, and the Clorox bottle would help him scoop out the excess water and give the plants time to dry out. But when he rested the shovel against the white picket fence and leaned forward with the Clorox bottle in his right hand, he lost his balance, fell face forward into the trench filled with water, and then everything around him went blank.
When he opened his eyes again, he found himself standing in the middle of a large mirrored room, with silvery white floors, an open ceiling exposing the brightest blue sky he’d ever seen, and a few puffy clouds that reminded him of snow drifts. When he glanced to his right at one of mirrored walls and realized he was naked, he pressed his palm to his throat and blinked. He wasn’t a naked old man either. He saw the nude image of what he had once looked like as a young man in his early thirties. For a moment, he just stood there and stared at his thick dark hair, his lean chest and stomach muscles, and the firm skin tone on his legs.
But when he glanced straight ahead and realized he wasn’t alone, he quickly covered his private parts and flung another naked young man a terrified glance. The other naked young man sat shamelessly atop a long white table with ornately carved cabriolet legs and ball and clawed feet swinging his legs back and forth. His expression suggested playful arrogance, as if he were ready to take on a dare. He had dark unruly hair and rough stubble. His features were a combination of rough and tender, with a strong chin and soft eyes. The lines and details on the white table were as delicate and subtle as the lines that followed the naked young man’s muscles and curves. Although Andy knew he had never met this young man, he seemed oddly familiar and couldn’t quite place him. He reminded Andy of someone he’d known many years earlier, but not exactly.
The young man sent Andy a knowing smile and adjusted his position on the desk. As he spread his legs wider, he said, “There’s no need to be embarrassed. We don’t wear clothes here. Everyone gets used to it in time.” He had a smooth even voice, the voice of a well-trained actor.
“Well I do wear clothes,” Andy said. “Can I get a robe or something?”
“It’s all relative, man,” said the naked man. “You’ll get used to it.”
Andy kept his palms over his private parts and glanced up and down at the young naked man’s strong fuzzy legs. “Who are you and what am I doing here?”
The young man smiled again and reached back with both arms to rest the weight of his upper body on his palms. He seemed as if he wanted to show off his private parts. “Welcome to The Department of Second Chances. You can call me Rory, Andy, and I’ll be your guide for as long as you’re here.”
“That’s right, Andy. I’m your guide.”
Andy felt a sting in his chest. Oh, he’d always hoped he wouldn’t lose his mind in his old age. And now his worst fear had come true. “How do you know my name?”
“I know everything about you, Andy,” Rory said. He seemed cocky now, with his head tilted sideways and one eyebrow higher than the other as if he were about to dare Andy to jump from a bridge.
“Wait a minute,” Andy said. “I know you. You’re that actor who once played James Dean, the one who was in the movie I just saw the other night on TV.” He’d always been bad with names of celebrities, politicians, and film titles. Andy had seen several of this actor’s films and he’d found him interesting in that scruffy, slightly messy way that had always attracted him the most. Although the actor was straight, he often played gay roles.
Rory laughed and shook his head. “Not really. I only look like him right now. We try to accommodate new arrivals by giving them guides that resemble people they are either attracted to or feel the most comfortable with. In your case, we decided this would be the best look since you’ve been so attracted to the young actor. We also know this actor reminds you of someone from your past.” He winked this time, as if he knew all of Andy’s deepest secrets.
Andy felt a pull in his stomach. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. No one had ever confronted him about his deepest desires for men this way and he didn’t know how to react. There was a man from Andy’s past and the young actor did remind Andy of him, but Andy had never shared this information with anyone. “I only like the guy’s movies, is all. He’s very talented. I’m not attracted to other men.”
“Awe c’mon, Andy,” Rory said, with the slick voice of a used car salesman. “There’s no need to play games with me, buddy. We already know everything there is to know about you. We’ve been keeping records from the day you were born until the day you died.”