Bodies of Work
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Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
Description: An Avondale Story George Martin and Mike Foster have been best friends since childhood, but recent events have brought them even closer together: Mike has moved into George's house now that George's unfaithful boyfriend has been kicked out. It puts Mike in a pinch, because he's always loved George--maybe more than a best friend should. George doesn't suspect Mike's feelings, being wrapped up in his job as the youngest lieutenant in the Jacksonville sheriff's office and investigating a series of murders. But it will all come to a head when George is stalked by a psycho and Mike steps in front of a bullet meant for George. George then realizes there's much more to their relationship than he suspected.
eBook Publisher: Dreamspinner Press/Dreamspinner Press, 2011 2011
eBookwise Release Date: April 2011
11 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [570 KB]
Reading time: 371-520 min.
* * * *
"Will you come down off that fucking roof?" Mike was yelling in an effort to make himself heard.
By way of answering, I started hammering the roofing nails into the shingles even harder, making much more noise than was necessary in the hope that he would go away. It was not to be, for a few minutes later his head appeared at the top of the ladder.
"George, you promised to go to the club with me tonight... and this fucking roof can wait," he said from three feet away, at the edge of the roof.
"I have to finish this bundle of shingles," I said, furiously hammering away.
"No, you don't. The roof will still be here tomorrow."
"True, but the weather won't be quite as good."
"So what? All those shingles do is protect the felt. The felt is what keeps the house dry, and the felt is all in place."
"The weather is still important. If it rains tomorrow, I won't be able to get anything done."
"Fuck the weather and fuck the roof. You're coming down now, even if I have to drag your sorry ass down myself."
"Think you're man enough?"
"Only one way to find out."
He scrambled onto the roof and walked over to me.
"Two ticks," I said.
"Two ticks, my ass. It looks like you've settled down to stay up here all night."
He was looking at the floodlights I had arranged in the branches of a live oak tree, which in contrast to the gloom elsewhere brightly illuminated my work area.
"What time is it?" I asked.
"I need another hour."
"Another hour? Not on your life."
Mike walked back to the ladder and disappeared from sight. Two minutes later the lights went out, and I was left in darkness. Shit, he pulled the plug. I put the bag of roofing nails in a pocket of the carpenter's pouch I was wearing, tucked my hammer into the little loop on my belt, and used the faint glow from the nearest street light to find my way across the roof to the ladder and then down. When I reached the ground, I went to look for the power cord and found that the first fifty-foot section of it had been removed, leaving the plug on the second section dangling from the eaves.
Mike was waiting for me in the kitchen, a smug look on his face. "I guess I was man enough after all," he said.
"Damn it, Mike, where's that extension cord?"
"In a safe place. Its work is done for the day, and so is yours. You can't hide up there on that roof forever, George."
"What do you mean?"
"You caught that prick with someone else's prick up his ass, and you did the right thing by kicking him out. But that was six months ago, so get over it... stop hiding on the roof... and get on with your life."
"Is that what you think I've been doing? Hiding?" He had me there. I'd caught my boyfriend of two years in my bed with his legs in the air, and I hadn't been the guy kneeling between them. After I had kicked him out, various acquaintances had shared their suspicions that there had been other infidelities as well. Aren't friends wonderful? But to be honest, if they had told me of their suspicions, I wouldn't have believed them--not without the all-important empirical evidence.
"Well, haven't you?"
"In someone's immortal words: 'Not only no, but hell no'."
"Methinks thou doth protest too much. This is me you're talking to, not some twit who hasn't known you for more than two-thirds of your life, so I'll ask you again. Haven't you?"
"Well, maybe just a little." Damn, I hate it when he's right.
"Now that wasn't so hard to admit, was it?"
"What do you think?"
"Get your ass in the bathroom and clean up. We're going out on the town, and you're going to forget that prick--and the roof--at least for an evening."
"All right, I guess I can stand an evening at the club, especially if it will shut you up."
"Damn straight. You're going to enjoy this evening, even if it kills you."
I couldn't stay angry with him--we'd known each other too long and too well for that. Twenty minutes later, having showered and shaved, I was standing naked in front of the bathroom vanity toweling my hair dry. I hung the towel up, brushed my hair, and was looking at myself in the mirror when Mike came into the bathroom. He was already naked and reached into the shower to turn the water on.
Turning to me, he said, "Taking inventory, are we?"
"Sure you are. I'll give you a hand, speaking metaphorically. Let's see, on a ten point scale, I'd say, face nine, body eight (you need to work on those pecs), ass ten, dick seven and a half, personality needs a bit of improvement."
I had to laugh. "You're no slouch, yourself."
"True, and my dick is half an inch longer than yours when it's angry."
In point of fact, we shared the same vital statistics: age thirty, six foot two, waist thirty-four, and size eleven-D shoes. We had borrowed each other's clothes since we were kids. The principal difference between us was that his black hair was worn in a buzz cut, where my thick blond hair was just a bit longer. He was right about the dick size as well--we had first compared erections at age thirteen or thereabouts.
"Why do you put up with my moods?" I asked.
"Because I love you like the brother I never had, just like you love me. Because we've been best friends since Christ was a corporal. Because I want you to be happy. Because...."
I cut him off, saying, "Point made, point taken. Now get in the shower."
Without waiting for an answer, I went to my closet and selected a pair of chinos and a knit shirt and carried them into the master bedroom. I dressed quickly, gave myself a brief squirt of Tiffany for Men, stepped into a pair of deck shoes, and made my way into the den, where I settled into my favorite chair to wait for Mike. He walked into the room a few minutes later, dressed in 501s and a muscle tee.
"Ready?" he asked.
"As I'll ever be."
I stood up, and he looked me up and down, then bent over and pulled my right pants leg up, exposing the ankle holster.
"I thought I saw a bulge down there. Do you have to wear that thing?"
"Mike, you know I have to wear it even when I'm off duty. As they say, 'You never really need a gun until you really need one'."
"Your status as the youngest lieutenant ever to grace the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office doesn't give you some leeway?"
"You know it doesn't. We've been through this.... Besides, doesn't it make you feel safer knowing that you're going out with one of Jacksonville's finest?"
He ignored my rhetorical question and said, "Your car or mine?"
"Your idea, your car."
"Let's go, then."
My house was a fifty-year-old bungalow in Avondale, which I had spent the better part of five years renovating and restoring, mostly with my own two hands. Avondale had begun to be developed in the twenties, as people moved out and away from downtown after the great fire of 1901 had destroyed very nearly all of the downtown area. Avondale and the adjacent neighborhood of Riverside were home to a large gay population. This fact always surprised some people, given that Jacksonville boasted the second or third largest Southern Baptist congregation in the country, which dominated local politics in many ways.
Most of Riverside and parts of Avondale had declined over the years, but in the seventies or thereabouts, the Riverside Avondale Preservation society had been formed. RAP, as it was universally known, aggressively promoted the neighborhood as well as restoration of its homes. It had all begun because the city had announced plans to four-lane a thoroughfare through the length of the area that would have meant the demolition of dozens of historic buildings. RAP had put a stop to that project and was still going strong after more than thirty years. Mike drove quickly down a couple of cross streets and turned toward the Metro, a gay entertainment mecca that had been around for perhaps ten years.
"Why here instead of Brothers?" I asked. Brothers, situated in the shadow of the Blue Cross Tower, was a popular after-work watering hole.
"Because there's a visiting entertainer I want to hear."
"You mean a famous drag queen is coming to River City?"
"Not a drag queen. At least not in the usual sense of the word. This one does his own singing--like Jim Bailey used to do."
"Well, that at least will be different. I'm not sure I'm in the mood to sit through yet another lip-synched rendition of 'I Will Survive'."
"Don't get your hopes up. There will be a bit of that sort of thing before the featured attraction performs."
"Does this attraction have a name?"
"His stage name is Monique, but his real name is Bob Jones, if you can believe that."
"Bob Jones, as in the well-known fundamentalist Southern Baptist college?"
"Wow, the guy certainly has a sense of humor."
Mike parked, and we walked up to the entrance, paid our fee, and had our hands stamped with a symbol indicating we had paid. I followed him to the main bar, where he ordered for both of us.
"You didn't ask what I wanted," I said, raising my voice above the not inconsiderable background chatter.
"Puhleeze. You don't like the swill that passes for wine here, and you don't like beer, so I ordered a glass of Harvey's Bristol Cream. That way you can nurse it all evening as usual."
I took the proffered glass and stood there, nursing my drink and surveying the room for a minute or three. Spotting a couple of familiar faces at a table, I ambled over in that direction, took a vacant chair, and spent some time catching up with friends and acquaintances. Finally, Mike came over and parked himself beside me.
"The show, as they say, is about to begin," he said.
The lights on the stage came up, and an emcee appeared holding a cordless microphone. God, I thought, why do these guys feel the need to emcee the show in drag themselves? Go figure. The opening acts were announced, and the audience was fed a few tidbits and teasers concerning the featured performer. I braced myself for the inevitable. Finally, the three opening acts were done and Monique was announced.
He walked on stage wearing a form-fitting gown. I noted with interest that he was fairly short, quite slim, and was doing his act with a minimum of artifice. He wore very little makeup and changed only his wigs as he did extremely credible imitations of Streisand, Garland, and Lee, among others. He was quite good, possibly even as good as the legendary Jim Bailey, and the audience went crazy.
The lights came up when it was over, and Mike whispered in my ear, "Well, was it worth it?"
"Much as I hate to admit it, it was. Thanks for talking me into this."
"No problem." He excused himself to go into active chase mode.
Having finally finished my drink, I wandered over to the bar for another one and stood there for a few minutes watching the crowd as I sipped on my sherry. Finally a stool became vacant and I settled down with my back to the bar, watching the crowd. Eventually, I became aware of a presence to my left and turned to see who it was. It was, as they say, a cutie-pie. Short, slim, brownish hair cut very close to the scalp, just short of a buzz cut, and very cute. We stared at each other for a long moment.
"Hi," he said. "My name is Bob. What's yours?"
"Well, George. What did you think of the show?"
"Seen one, seen 'em all... except for Monique. He was great. In fact, he made me think of Jim Bailey."
"Thanks. I've sort of modeled myself after him, and I appreciate your honest opinion."
"Holy shit. You're that Bob."
"Guilty as charged."
"Buy you a drink?"
While I was in the process of doing that, Mike walked up to me with a younger guy in tow. He handed me the car keys. "Take my car home, will you? I'm going home with my friend... what did you say your name was?" he asked, looking at his companion.
"Right," Mike said without skipping a beat, "my friend Stan. He has promised faithfully to get me home in the morning."
Mike headed to the door with Stan in tow.
Bob looked at me. "I just love success stories, don't you?"
"I do too, but in Mike's case, they only seem to last no longer than forty-eight hours or so."
"Sounds like you know him well."
"We've been best friends, man and boy, since we were eight or thereabouts."
"That's impressive. I can't think of anyone I've been friends with for more than a year."
We talked for quite a while until our drink glasses were empty. Finally, he said, "I'm staying downtown at the Omni, would you like to tuck me in?"
"Don't you have another show to do?"
"I have two performances tomorrow, but not tonight."
"In that case, what's your room number?"
He told me, and I said, "See you there."
I set my empty glass on the bar, headed to the parking lot, and found Mike's car. I hadn't started the evening prepared for sex in any sense of the word, but fortunately Mike had a well-stocked glove box in his car, so I helped myself to a few condoms and slipped them into my pocket. Arriving downtown, I found a space in the Omni parking lot, secured the car, and made my way into the hotel. I went straight to the elevator and arrived on his floor just in time to find Bob inserting his plastic room key into the slot in the door.
* * * *
* * * *
We entered his room, and he closed and chained the door behind us. We embraced briefly and indulged in a lengthy kiss. Finally, he broke away, saying, "After performing under those hot lights, I'm desperately in need of a shower. Why don't you join me?"
Not waiting for an answer, he headed for the bathroom, shedding various garments on the way. I walked over to the bed and undressed, carefully folding my clothes and placing them on one of the chairs. Having done that, I entered the bathroom. He was just about to step into the shower, and I quickly noted that his slim body was lean, quite fit, and very compact. His torso was hairless, as was the rest of him, as far as I could tell. As he turned to step into the shower, his bubble butt was shown to advantage.
"What are you waiting for?" he asked.
"You." I stepped into the shower with him.
We spent quite a while washing each other's bodies, leaving no stone unturned and no crevice unexplored, both of us wonderfully erect the entire time. Finally, he grabbed my erection and said, "I want that thing in me, now."
"We'll be more comfortable in that nice queen-size bed."
"Fine, but make it quick."
He turned the water off, and we quickly toweled ourselves mostly dry. He grabbed my erection again and led me into the bedroom. There was no need for subtleties--the foreplay had been going on in the shower for ten minutes or more. Before I knew it, he had slipped a condom over my erection, was on his back with his legs in the air, and I was entering him slowly and cautiously.
"Don't hold back," he said. "Do it fast and hard."
"Are you sure?"
"Shut up--and do it now."
I obliged and began to thrust in and out.
"Faster... deeper... harder," he demanded.
I picked up the pace.
"I won't last long at this rate."
"That's okay, next time will take longer."
"Just wait, you'll see."
I bent down and shut him up by covering his mouth with mine. Finally, I began to spasm deep inside him, and I felt him spurt against my abdomen. When it was over, I stretched out on the bed beside him.
"How do you hide all this under that tight dress?" I asked, caressing his softening genitals.
"There are various ways to do that, all of them uncomfortable. To answer your question, I usually wear a dance belt, but where a male dancer points his dick at the sky, I tuck mine down in the other direction."
He began to stroke me, saying, "How soon will you be ready for a repeat performance?"
"As soon as I'm sufficiently inspired."
It didn't take long, and when it was over, he said, "Can you spend the night?"
"Sure, provided we can do this again first thing in the morning."
"Deal," he said as he reached over to turn out the light beside the bed.
I woke up the next morning almost on the dot of six, just as I always do, and almost hopped out of the bed automatically to head for the bathroom until, at the last minute, I realized where I was. He had rolled over onto his side during the night, facing away from me, so I eased up against him and put my arms around him, but not before I slipped a condom over my morning wood.
He began to stir under my hands. "Mmmm. What time is it?"
"Early. You probably don't want to know," I said as I eased into him.
"This is a nice wake-up call."
I began to stroke him and to do things to his neck and ear with my mouth as I began to plunge in and out. Once again, it wasn't very long before we were both spent.
He rolled over to face me, and we kissed.
"That was nice," he said.
"Yes, it was. Want to have breakfast?"
"Not a chance. I have two performances tonight, and I'm going to sleep 'til noon."
"Then I'll leave you to it. I'm meeting a friend for an early morning workout at the YMCA."
"You have enough energy for a workout after all this?"
"Sure. I find sex energizing, don't you?"
"Not at this hour."
I gave him one last kiss and went to the bathroom to relieve myself. When I returned to the bedroom and began to dress, he went to the bathroom. He returned just as I was strapping my ankle holster in place.
His eyes widened a bit. "Do you always carry a gun?"
"I'm a policeman, and I'm never totally off duty."
"This is a first for me; I've never had a cop before."
"Want to have me again? What time will your show be over tonight?"
"Yes--and probably not until well after midnight."
"In that case, I'll stop by for the second performance, unless, of course, duty calls."
"Are you on duty today?"
"I have the entire weekend off, but I'm subject to call."
My holster in place and pants snugged down over it, I gave him a brief kiss and left the room. When I got home, I found Mike nursing a cup of coffee in the kitchen.
"Good morning, sunshine," I said.
"My, aren't we chipper this morning, and I know why. You've got that 'just been laid' look about you."
"That I do, and you'll never guess who it was."
"I give up."
"The performer? No way."
"He was chatting me up when you handed me your keys last night."
"Well, I am impressed."
"Ready to go to the Y?"
"Not really, but I will anyhow."
"By the way, how was Stan?"
"The guy you went home with."
"Oh, him. Quite forgettable, and something of a disappointment."
"Do you mean to say that you struck out?"
"Not at all. We fucked a couple of times, actually, but it just wasn't very interesting."
"Not your fault. Are you ready to go?"
We took my car to the central YMCA facility, which was on Riverside Avenue not too far from downtown. It was a large complex, situated between the street and the river, that featured handball courts, lockers, showers, steam room, sauna, and an indoor pool. The equipment room contained every workout machine known to man, or so it seemed. There was even a new room full of stationary bikes devoted to spinning classes--the latest fitness craze. In addition, there was an outdoor running track adjacent to the river.
We carried our gym bags into the locker room, and Mike said, "What are we doing today?"
"We usually run on Saturdays, but if you want to do a different routine, I'm game."
"Let's do about five miles, then. I need to sweat last night out of my system."
Pulling on our gear, we headed out the door and down Riverside Avenue. It was a well-established route used by various members at all times of the day, starting with a group who met, already in running gear, an hour before the Y opened. They timed their run so that the facility would be open by the time they returned. Then they showered, shaved, dressed, and went to work. They called themselves the "dawn patrol."
We had just reached the one mile mark at the park when Mike asked, "What are you doing the rest of the day?"
"What do you think? The shingles are calling me."
"Want some help?"
"You know you can't hammer even a roofing nail in straight, but I appreciate the offer."
"Then I'll play gofer for a bit and lug a few more bundles of shingles up the ladder to you."
"Thanks, I'll be grateful for that."
We completed our run in relative silence. Back in the locker room, we slipped on Speedos and headed to the pool to cool down while doing a few laps.
In the locker room once again, Mike looked at me. "Steam or sauna?"
"Steam, I think, if that's okay with you."
He led the way to the steam room, towel slung over his shoulder, and I followed suit. The usual assortment of men were sitting on the tile benches, taking the steam. Some of them had towels around their waists, while others were sitting on their towels, legs spread, various parts dangling in full view. Mike and I emulated the former, cinching our towels around us before we sat down on one of the benches. I settled back against the warm tile wall and, with eyes half closed, watched the group.
After we had been settled on the bench for a couple of minutes, a sort of nerdy-looking guy wearing glasses entered the room and settled down on the bench across the room from us. His towel was kind of loosely draped over his thighs, but with his legs spread, you could clearly see his private parts. He slipped one hand under the towel and began to fondle himself until he was fully hard. Somehow he managed to keep his erection pointing out along his thigh instead of standing up and tenting the towel. He was watching us intently while pretending not to do so.
* * * *
In the Mists and Vapors
He had followed the two men from the locker room into the steam room, where he watched them carefully through hooded eyes. They were both so hot-looking, but the blond was the one that really turned him on. He wondered if they were lovers, but watching their body language, he decided that they were probably just friends.
He began to fondle himself to full erection, thinking about the hot blond across the room and what he would like to do with and to him. The two men did not appear to notice him, but they couldn't help but do so. He could see their genitals between their spread legs, and neither of them appeared to be reacting to his display.
He got so excited that he lost control and spewed onto his thigh before he could slow down. He heard the blond say to the other man, "Ready to hit the showers?" The other man nodded, and the two of them left the room.
Damn. Maybe next time he could control himself a little better. He wanted the blond to notice him... to desire him... to want him. He settled back against the wall with a sigh of resignation.
* * * *
I watched the guy with the glasses lose control and spurt all over his thigh. Such behavior was not at all uncommon in the steam room. In fact, at times the jacking off and other displays were much more overt. I looked at Mike. "Ready to hit the showers?"
He nodded, and we left the room. The shower room had five stalls divided by chest-high partitions along one wall and four along the other. One door led to the locker room, and the other opened to an anteroom, which in turn led to the pool. The shower room was unoccupied, and we stood in adjacent stalls.
"Did you see that guy?" Mike said.
"The nerd with the glasses. He was hot for your body, let me tell you."
"George, if you were a lollipop, that guy would turn you into an all-day sucker. Trust me on this."
"If you say so. That being said, he's not my type, so he'll just have to get over it."
We finished showering and went back to our lockers to dry and dress.
"Want to have an early lunch?" Mike asked as we walked through the lobby to the exit.
"You know I prefer Richard's when I'm in the mood for a Camel Rider, but they're not open on Saturday, so how about the Goal Post?"
I pointed the car down Riverside Avenue, and when we were past the St. Vincent's Hospital complex, I turned left onto King Street and one block later turned right onto St. Johns Avenue, following it almost to its intersection with Herschel Street. The Goal Post was a long-time neighborhood fixture and was heavily patronized by the Junior League set from nearby Ortega, where much of the old money in town still resided.
Like most of the sandwich shops in town, it was owned by a family of Middle Eastern descent. Jacksonville has a huge population of people from Lebanon and other spots who have been in the area for two or three generations or more. Most of them were Christian, and quite a few of them were communicants at St. John's Episcopal Cathedral, as were we--although our attendance was somewhat irregular. A staple in all the sandwich shops was the Camel Rider, which was a pocket of pita bread filled with bits of lettuce, slices of cheese, tomato, and cold cuts. We placed our orders and took the only available booth while we waited for our number to be called. We consumed our Camel Riders and a bag of chips each and went back to the house.
* * * *
On the last Saturday of his life, James Albright followed his normal routine--which proved his undoing. He headed, as usual, to his office in the Riverplace Tower, which had been built as the Gulf Life Tower. The building was a city landmark. When completed in 1967, it was, at twenty-eight stories, the tallest precast, post-tensioned concrete structure in the world, which was a fancy way of saying that the building did not have a steel skeleton. Its skeleton was composed of pre-stressed concrete beams. It held that distinction for some thirty-five years until 2002, when a larger such structure was erected in San Francisco.
Making his way to the 23rd floor, he stopped, as he always did, in the men's room adjacent to the elevators. Standing in front of the urinal, he paid no attention when someone else entered the room and walked up to the adjacent urinal. He was so intent on the task at hand that he didn't see the flash of the knife... and never felt it, as it slashed through the blood vessels in his neck. His hand went to his throat instinctively when he felt the warm wetness, and he fell to the floor as he bled out.
* * * *
I settled down on the roof, and Mike, as he had promised, started carrying bundles of shingles up the ladder and placing them on the roof as directed. He had just brought me the tenth bundle of shingles when my pager buzzed.
"Shit," I said, looking at the number on the display. "I knew it couldn't last. I'd like to get through just one Saturday off without interruption."
"Go ahead. I'll put your tools and supplies away."
I headed for the ladder, climbed down, went to the kitchen, and grabbed a soft drink from the fridge. Then I sat down to call the number displayed.