chapter  45
4 Pages

Ward Thomas, Stranger in the Land

Homosexual blackmail is the subject matter of Stranger in the Land (Houghton Mifflin, 1949). The victim is Raymond Manton, a twenty-eight-year-old English teacher in a small New England town. The blackmailer is a twenty-year-old youth named Terry, with whom Raymond has what is more a friendship than a sexual relationship. When a wealthy, elderly townsman, Orville Finch, is arrested for the sexual molestation of fifteen-year-old schoolboys, Terry reminds Raymond that he, also, is underage. When a bank clerk and then a commercial artist are also arrested, it is obvious that a witch-hunt is under way in the town. Others are arrested, all unmarried and all disqualified for military service. The bank clerk commits suicide in jail. Raymond pays Terry ten and then fifty dollars. He contemplates suicide, but realizes an easier solution is to kill Terry. He lures the young man out for a nighttime swim in a local reservoir and drowns him: “I, Raymond Manton, am a murderer-a homosexual and a murderer, a double menace to the peace of the godly, doubly damned and estranged from the world that never accepted me” (p. 371).