|Me and Brad in happier times - 1980|
Yesterday I received an e-mail from Cincinnati. I did not know the person who sent this e-mail but we both knew Brad Corrill. He informed me that Brad died September 17th. Brad was 60 years old.
I met Brad in April of 1980. We locked eyes at the Drury Lane Bar in center city Philadelphia. Ironically that was the first and last time I was ever in that particular gay bar. I don't remember why I went in that night but I do know that my life changed forever when I met Brad.
|Drury Lane Bar, Philadelphia, PA|
I don't remember who started the conversation first but I do know that we both knew immediately we were attracted to one another, a lot. We spent the night together at a place where he was staying temporarily.
Brad was homeless.
A few months earlier he had moved to Philadelphia from Cincinnati after meeting "Gene", a Philadelphia gay bartender who was visiting Cincinnati. When I met Brad Gene had thrown him out and Brad was living with a straight couple (friends of Gene) until he found his own place.
Brad had a problem because he didn't have a job or money. I had an apartment that I had a lease on until January of 1981. I had gotten the lease because Bill and I had sold our town house in center city Philly and our new home was under construction in Chester County. Bill was staying at our house under construction. I was still working in center city (I had asked Bill to take early retirement) and needed a place to stay until the construction of our house was completed. I told Brad he could stay at my apartment on Spruce Street until he found his own place. Thus began the summer that I experienced the most extreme highs and lows of my life. The summer that I was almost destroyed.
|Brad at "The Ranch"|
|My journal entry recording the drama that was our life back then so many years ago|
I'll attempt to make this a concise story as possible while covering all the pertinent facts but I could easily write a novel of that summer. The most dramatic summer of my life.
I fell in love with Brad. I thought he fell in love with me. To me he was like a lost puppy. A sweet, sensitive, funny and (of course) very attractive guy. And he needed me. I grew to need him needing me. I was going to take care of him. Big mistake. For you see the problem was that Brad was an alcoholic and a drug addict. We was weak. I thought I could save him. Big mistake.
|Brad at "The Ranch" - 1980|
The first month or so we were both ecstatically happy. We were in our own world of bliss. I seriously considered leaving Bill and starting a new life with Brad. Big mistake.
The first sign of a problem was when I arranged an interview for Brad with my real estate agent who was looking for a handyman. I left work that morning to be at the real estate agent's office for Brad's appointment at 10:30 am. 10:30 came and went. 11:00 came and went. I frantically called Brad. When I got him on the phone he was slurring his words. He was drunk. He told me he couldn't make the meeting because he "wasn't feeling well." He was drunk. I was mortified. So embarrassed.
I forgave him. I tried several more times to get him a job, all to no avail. But still I said he could stay at my apartment until he found a job and his own place. Then one weekend I returned from our (me and Bill's) home in the country early. I returned on a Saturday night instead of my usual Sunday night. When I climbed the stairs to my fourth floor apartment on Spruce Street and opened the door I see a leather clad, bearded man who I did not know. I asked him "Who are you?" With a sneer on his face he looked at me and said "Who the fuck are you!" I told him "I'm the person who is paying rent on this apartment and you can get out of here right now." Mr. Butch Leatherman snarled "Who's going to make me?" Barely controlling my seething anger I said to him "If you don't walk down those stairs right now I'm going to throw you down those stairs." He took a measured look at me after hearing my "suggestion" and turned around and left.
|2122 Spruce Street - my apartment top floor (fourth) with dormers|
|Interior of my "penthouse apartment" at 2122 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA|
After he left Brad and I got into a furious argument. Brad rarely argued but this time we were screaming at each other. I highly resented him bringing strangers into my apartment and I also felt betrayed because I thought Brad cared for me. I found out that night he didn't, but more about that later.
Our argument continued until Brad jumped me and threw me to the floor with his forearm against my neck choking me, while he screamed "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!"
I couldn't breath. He was choking me to death. While I was flailing around on the floor trying to breath, my right ankle hit the turn on/off knob of the radiator heater by the wall. The force of the impact broke the skin and my blood began flowing from my ankle where I hit it on the radiator. The sight of my blood brought Brad to his senses and he released his choke hold on my neck.
While I was gasping for breath, he was now saying over and over "I'm so sorry Ron! I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" That was the night that I knew that I had to end our relationship.
That past summer I had taken Brad to Provincetown with me only to witness him taking off with a straight couple for a threesome. He was bored with me. I asked him what happened. He said "I don't know Ron, I just fell out of love with you. It just went away."
|Brad and I in Provincetown (whale watching excursion) - July 1980 - we did have good times|
I thought I could make Brad love me again the way he did when we first met. I took him with me when I visited my friend Bob McC. at his weekend place ("The Ranch") outside Georgetown Delaware. All to no avail. All Brad was interested in was what Gene was doing. Where Gene was. It took me a long time to realize that I was just someone to use.
|Brad and I at Bob McC's "The Ranch" near Georgetown, Delaware - when I still made him happy - 1980|
That night I told Brad he had to move . . . back to his home in Cincinnati or else we would both be destroyed. Brad had left my apartment once before. He moved in with someone else only to be told to leave because of his drug habits and I suppose his propensity to bring strangers back home. That's alright if you have your own place but quite another different story when you're a guest at someone's home (or apartment where I have the liability).
The first time Brad left my apartment, I saw him sitting on a bench in Rittenhouse Square where I used to criss cross through when I went home after work. I walked by him only to hear him say "Ron? Can I talk to you?" He told me he needed a place to stay. I loved him and didn't want to see him homeless, sleeping on a park bench in Rittenhouse Square so I told him he could stay at my apartment until he found someplace else to live.
|Brad meeting me for lunch at 8th and Chestnut Streets, Philadelhia, PA 1980|
I was in love with Brad and wanted to "save" him. But what I didn't realize, what I was so foolish to believe; was that I could win out over the drugs and alcohol. I believed in a Hollywood ending to our story. I kept thinking back to the first time I met Brad and how special that time was. I wanted to believe those times would come again. I was fool.
My apologies for making this a very long blog posting but I'm doing a bit of catharsis here folks. For you see folks, I never completely fell out of love with Brad.
The day after that evening when he almost choked me to death, I purchased a one way ticket for him to his home in Cincinnati and give him a hundred dollars.
I watched him walk up 23rd Street to the Greyhound bus station from the fourth floor window of my Spruce Street apartment with a heavy heart. I was devastated because I knew I was sending away someone I loved deeply. I truly believed I could turn his life around and we could live happily ever after. What a fool I was but at that time that is what I truly believed.
|Greyhound Bus Terminal - Philadelphia, PA|
The days and weeks after he left I wrote him letter after letter, pleading for him to come back. Who was the weak one now? I have to give Brad credit because he knew our relationship would never work and he didn't come back. He didn't answer my letters, he didn't call. He ignored me. That was in the fall of 1980.
Thirty one years later I found his address and sent him a Christmas card. I had since moved on with my life but was curious if Brad was still alive. He was. He sent me a Christmas card back. That spring he sent me a litter hinting that he would like to visit but that I would have to pay for his transportation and also get him a hotel room. That I wasn't going to do but it was nice to hear from him. He was still living at the same place and the same person who he returned to in 1980. I was happy for him. The following November he sent me a birthday card. Again, very nice of him. Brad was always the sweet and gentle soul. Only thing was he wasn't in love with me like I was in love with him. And that's alright, you can't make people love you. It's either there or it isn't. I don't mean to make this all about me and whine but the fact was that I fell in love with Brad and he fell out of love with me. These things happen.
|Brad's birthday card|
After Brad I vowed that I would never let something like this happen to me again. It almost cost me my life and my life long relationship with Bill, someone who has always stood by me through the bad times and good times. Bill, a man I grew to love. I make no apologies for falling in love with someone else, the mind goes (at least mine does) where the heart goes. Maybe there was some greater Power saving me. I think Brad knew that we could never have a relationship. He went home to someone he did love and his friends. His sojourn in the City of Brotherly Love in that summer of 1980
didn't turn out the way he wanted it to. He was always in love with "Gene." I may have been a momentary diversion for him but his true love was always Gene and I should have known that but I choose to ignore that obvious fact.
I had not seen a photo of Brad since that fateful summer. Last night when I received that e-mail from his Cincinnati friend informing me of his passing, he also sent a link to Flicker. There were three photos of Brad. I was warned by his friend that Brad hadn't aged well. I could see by the photos that he hadn't. Looking at those photos made me sad but at the same time made me happy because I saw Brad smiling. He was happy, he was among his friend, he was in his element.
|Brad and friend in Cincinnati - recent|
|Brad at home|