The following story is for adults and contains descriptions of sexual contact between males. If you are a minor, then it is illegal for you to read this story. If you find the subject objectionable, then read no further. All the characters, events and settings are the product of my over-active imagination. I hope you like it. Mail me or if literary analysis interests you visit Eliot's Space.
by Eliot Moore
Table of Contents
Eight Point Ten (Sixteen Point Eight)
Eight Point Ten (Sixteen Point Eight)
The park was unusually busy for a Friday afternoon. The two women chatted together quietly while they spread the lunch across the picnic table and offered the men cold beer discretely presented in tall Tupperware cups. The table was well positioned so that the men could survey the crowded pool. The breeder busied himself at the grill and the tantalizing aroma of lean hamburger floated on the smoke. The women were nubile. The statuesque brunette clashed with the stocky old breeder. A passing couple with an alluring eight-year-old boy glanced their way. The parents seemed to offer a speculative glance that might suggest curiosity about the mismatched quartet mimicking a weekend picnic; or perhaps they simply envied their location conveniently close to the pool. The couple established themselves under the umbrella of a vast pine. While the father fussed with a pair of lawn chairs the mother hovered over her impatient son as he stripped off his top. The buyer admired the shimmering sepia skin of the boy's back. After some motherly caution that brought an impatient frown to the his innocent face, the boy loped gracefully down to the pool. The buyer was transfixed by his progress.
"Do you want some chips honey?" It was said without irony. The buyer glanced at his erstwhile companion and shook his head. The blond was stunning and buyer would have been content to feast his eyes on her well advertised attractions if he had not been so distracted by the activity around the pool. He turned back, dark glasses hooding his hungry eyes, wanting to devour the coltish child, but the sprite had lost himself somewhere.
"Do you see anything that catches your eye Vance?" the breeder paused to admire the swell of his companion's chest before returning to the burgers. The buyer smiled cautiously at the grizzled old man. The connections had been made, the careful dance was over, and both men had resigned themselves to the distatestful necessity of trust. He had seen the breeder's work and he was sure the man had investigated him more thoroughly than his last audit; his ex-wife's law firm could not know more about him now. "It's a hard decision, I know. Just remember, the choice you make will be final."
Vance knew the breed he wanted, but blood-line was not enough. He had not been idle as he sat and nibbled vegetables. Two of the children by the public pool had caught his eye. A slender boy with shaggy blond hair stood balanced on one foot at the bottom of the diving board ladder. He was hugging himself as he quietly waited his turn. My son, Vance fantasized; don't be afraid, you can do it! Vance watched the boy climb the ladder with quick determination.
"Blue Speedo with the white waist band on the diving board; Green trunks getting punched by the black kid" The boy had seemed so vulnerable at the foot of the ladder; Vance had been drawn to that. Now, as he watched the boy poised at the edge of the high board, he seemed an athletic and confident child. So beautiful, Vance imagined the boy grinning at him. With barely a moment's hesitation the child launched himself forward into space. Instead of a graceful dive, he plummeted to the pool below in a loose cannon ball, his compact body sinking amidst a spray of light foam.
The breeder whistled suddenly and a sixteen-year old boy wearing loose board shorts and light sandles trotted over from where he had been lounging in the grass. "Enjoying the girls Peter?"
"Your swim suit says different."
Vance noticed the small tent in the front of the young hound's crotch. The breeder casually grabbed the end of the thin steel choker and pulled it tight. "We will talk about this later." He gave the youth a description of each of the children and sent him off to the pool. While they waited he brought the burgers to the table. The buyer was too keyed up to eat, but he nibbled on a corner for appearances. "Nod when he has the right one." It took the sixteen-year old a while to point out the first one. When he did the buyer nodded to the breeder and, the breeder picked up his burger and took a bite. It was the boy in the green trunks. Vance watched as the hound stopped to talk with the boy. Peter reached out to tickle the boy and received a hard push in response. After a brief exchange the boy offered the slim sixteen-year-old the finger and turned away. The breeder grunted behind his burger. He murmured, "Wrong temperament, never get that one to settle down." The sleek hound moved onto the next.
The boy in the blue Speedo was back at the foot of the diving board. The hound moved behind him and Vance watched as he spoke to the small boy. The boy chatted animatedly with the teenager as they both edged their way to the base of the ladder. The boy was obviously flattered by the attentions of the muscled hound and they stood talking for a few minutes. Vance liked the little boy's smile. The hound reached out suddenly and grabbed the boy playfully. As Vance watched, the strong youth flipped the boy up over his shoulder and began tumbling him around. He stopped when a lifeguard barked at him and gently set the boy back on his feet. The young boy climbed the ladder. When he reached the tip of the board he called for the hound to watch him. After pausing in a priceless muscle-man pose, he flew into the air with a high-pitched whoop.
"He needs to get out more. I keep him very busy at the kennel. You put him in a park with young people and he forgets everything. Remember that, you have to keep pressure on them, particularly when they are his age. Man, I remember my son. He was always on the prowl at that age; got himself into all sorts of shit." The inconvenience of adolescence seemed so far in the future to Vance. His dreams were on the well proportioned boy splashing through the chop in the direction of where Peter stood waiting. Peter pulled him from the water and the boy seemed not to mind when the teenager pulled him close for a hug.
"Prime stock," the breeder remarked.
The pair talked for a bit until the little boy pointed toward where an older girl lay sunning herself. They parted after Peter reached out to ruffle the boy's hair. He stood watching the boy, apparently caught in a private thought, as the boy ran back to the diving board to continue his solitary afternoon adventure. Peter watched him leap once more into space before he trotted back up to where the men sat waiting. Vance once again envied the youth his clean lines.
"Sit" the breeder said and the hound sat on the bench next to him. The bronze hound put his chin on his folded arms and gazed back at the pool where the boy played in his freedom. The breeder scratched his back before turning back to the buyer.
"Those were fairly definite choices you made. You seem to know what you want." Peter stirred restlessly beside the breeder. His eyes shifted from the boy to a group of young women walking past. The breeder noticed and scratched his back once more. Peter dropped his chin back onto the table and let out a huge sigh. The men smiled at each other. "Marcy, would you take Peter back to the van and give him a ride?" Peter perked up beside the breeder.
The young blond looked the sixteen-year old over and nodded. Vance admired her as she walked sensuously away toward the parking lot. Peter sat tensely beside the breeder until he quietly signalled the quivering hound to follow. They watched him bound after the young prostitute and laughed over their beer. The breeder became serious for a moment. "Remember that, rewards work far more effectively than punishments. Peter will be better behaved now and the next time he gets out he will be eager to do the right thing. Don't go overboard on the rewards though, things can fall apart quickly." They turned their attention back to the food and the pool while they discussed breeds further.
"So can I have the one in the Speedo?"
"It doesn't work like that. I don't guarantee an individual, just the breed and temperament. You want a kid -- a puppy -- to adopt; you want some eight-year-old boy to take to bed without fuss; that takes time. It takes years of training to turn them around. You want a rough fuck and some angry noise then you settle for someone like that kid in the green there and land up in jail in the end. I can get you a kid just like that one. Might be a little older, but I will guarantee you will be happy. You make the final selection from the litters I have now. I keep you updated on final training and I will be bringing him out this fall."
"Can I visit your kennel?" Vance was fascinated by the process. The breeder had been recommended by a few of his friends and he had envied their puppies. The urge to own had finally overwhelmed his sense of caution.
"No" The breeder was definite about that.
Back in his hotel room later that afternoon, he splashed in the water enjoying his holiday. Peter had been such a pleasure to watch after his reward in the van. He wanted a puppy that would have Peter's energy and charm: Ready for play, but not too aggressive. He had forgotten to tell the breeder he wanted a boy with some intelligence. It would be tedious if he had to fight and fuss all the time. Clean too; he had this idealized picture in his head and he agonized a little worrying about it. There was not much he could do about it though. He was paying a fortune for his pleasure.
Boys off the street were so unsatisfying. First, they were never young enough. Second, they were so jaded. The real problem was there was no relationship. It was a simple, barely satisfying transaction; pregnant with danger. Vance wanted a boy who needed him as much as he needed the boy. Vance settled his bulk into the hot water. He was a hard-nosed realist and had become successful and independent by accepting who he was. He was no hard-bodied teen with a bronze tan. Beautiful boys might warm to a hound like Peter. They were never going to find his middle aged body much of an attraction; unexciting father, yes, virile lover and companion, not much chance. A person could spend too much time reading erotic fantasies. As his friend Donald had said, you have to be practical about it. That meant paying for it. Vance's thoughts drifted back to the vision of a slender blond boy with soft eyes and sweet lips. His hand moved rhythmically across his groin as he dreamed of the loving son this rough breeder would bring to him. Donald's Russ was like a playful companion for him. He was a little too independent perhaps. Vance had lived his life and built his success around control. His loving relationship would be based on respect. Vance dreamed on, imagining his new puppy, trusting and fresh, waiting for someone mature to guide him into the pleasures of the body, waiting to experience real love.
Eight Point Eleven (Sixteen Point Nine)
Ethan leaned his back against the rough bark of the pine and closed his eyes. He felt sore from the morning's play and he didn't feel like continuing with the other puppies. Ethan closed his eyes and willed his hazy memory to work. It was harder to remember his dad's voice or his mother's face. They had been a comforting memory through the first winter, but along with the long conversations he had with them had been bitter tears. They had given up on him. The police had not come to take him home; no helicopters had flown in over the trees with soldiers who would shoot Gus and Mel.
During his private lessons, Gus told him his parents were proud of him. The old man talked about them as if they knew where he was and what he was doing. When would they come for him? Ethan had asked. They were too busy working; they knew he would be fine, but they wanted him to be better behaved. Ethan was too smart to believe Gus. His mom and dad would not do this to him. His dad would be really angry if he knew what the men expected him to do.
Still, his dad had got angry when he broke the lawn mower just a few days before he was taken. His dad had told Ethan he did not know what to do with him. His mom had yelled at him too when he took money from her purse. When his dad had come home she had still been angry and his dad had spanked him. The day he had been taken he had taken money for ice cream without asking. Could they have been so angry that they wanted to send him away? One day he had stubbornly stayed in Toys Are Us when his mother wanted to go. She had snapped at him and told him he was impossible to deal with and he could stay if he wanted, she was going home. When she walked away from him he had chased after her afraid she meant it. These memories had not meant much to him at first, but he had come to worry each event between his parents and him like a dog gnawing a bone. The memories were starting to fragment. He shook the thought away. Mommy loves me. Ethan clung to the shreds of hope in his bleak life. The puppies celebrated when Gus told them Neville had gone home to his parents. It did happen, the boys told each other.
Peter was gone. Peter could make him laugh. He missed tagging along with Peter as he did his chores. Peter answered his questions and let him help. His absence left a gaping hole in Ethan's world. He was scared to asked Melvin where Peter had gone. The puppies didn't like Melvin. When Gus went away for a few weeks Melvin would cuff them around or worse. Peter had not been there to carry him back to his room the second time Melvin called for him. Some nights the loneliness was too much and Ethan slept with a few of the other puppies in his litter. It didn't always help; when Terrance cried at night it just made him feel worse. Peter held him close at night.
Walter trotted over to him and sat down. Ethan got along with him fairly well; Melvin had said they had played well in school that morning. "Are you still bleeding Sean?" Walter reached a hand down to touch his own butt hole. Ethan felt his bum. It burned and he didn't want to touch it. His finger was smeared with red when he looked at it.
"Let's see" Walter pushed Ethan over and pulled his knees up to his chest stretching his sore butt uncomfortably. "Wow, I think I broke it." Walter leaned over and licked Ethan's hole a few times. The rough tongue felt soothing. "It's not that bad. Walter bent down and licked some more before letting his tongue travel up to Ethan's groin. Ethan laid his head back and closed his eyes while Walter sniffed and lapped. A root lay uncomfortably along his back so he shifted his body. He really didn't want to play with Walter but he did not try to stop him because he knew Walter would make a fuss. Melvin would get mad. Walter said he felt good when someone licked him. He said he had an orgasm. Ethan never felt that way. He got hard and his cock felt good, but he never got excited like Peter. Peter said he would when he was a hound. Ethan let himself pretend it was Peter instead of Walter.
Ethan suddenly became alert and Walter stopped sucking on his hard-on. The noise of Gus' heavy truck drifted through the trees to the kennel. Its engine interrupted the silence of the woods. Its arrival probably meant the end of classes for the day. Ethan pushed Walter away and scrambled to his feet. Peter might be back.
After the truck had been unloaded and all the boxes were put away Ethan and the other puppies were sent to play in the yard. The new puppies had everyone's attention for the next few days. Ethan would stand at night oblivious to the buzzing insects and listen to the new puppies crying. He remembered how he felt those first nights. It made him think about his parents. He knew that if he had a chance he would be a better boy. He wouldn't make them send him away again. He made silent promises to the bright stars that he would be such a good puppy that Gus would send him home.
Gus came to his kennel in the morning before he had his bowl. He had a newspaper and he looked very sad. Gus sat on the bed and watched Ethan while he washed his hands and butt, and then he patted the bed next to him. Ethan knelt and was surprised when Gus suddenly hugged him tightly. He touched Ethan's long hair and brushed it out of his eyes before moving a hand down to play with his scrotum. Ethan sat still as Gus absently gave him an erection. Gus looked him in the eyes before quietly continuing. "Sean, I have something terrible to tell you. Your parents were coming to visit you and there was a terrible accident. They are dead Sean, look." Gus showed him the front page of the yellowed newspaper for a moment. Ethan had the impression of a twisted mass of metal buried under the front of a train.
The news hit Ethan like a blow and his eyes started to tear. He sat frozen as Gus continued to massage his groin gently. "They were so happy with how well you were doing here that they thought you deserved a visit. I'm sorry Sean. I want you to know that you can stay here until the government finds you a new home." Gus unzipped his fly and forced Ethan's head down to his ready cock. He petted Ethan's hair as the small boy automatically sucked. "You are such a good puppy now I am sure I can find you a new father who will take care of you." Tears rolled down Ethan's face and his throat convulsed around the old man's organ as his hand mechanically pumped.
Gus locked him in his kennel for three days while he cried. Each morning he would come and sit with him for a while, making the eight-year old service him, as he reassured him softly. For the rest of each day Ethan was in isolation. He wished he could read the details in the paper, but Gus had told him there were worse pictures inside and they would only upset him. Ethan didn't know what to believe. He didn't trust Gus, but the picture in the paper had shown the crash in all its ugly detail. He felt completely alone.
The morning of the fourth day Gus sent Ethan to the showers. The rest of his litter had already washed and wandered off when Ethan stepped under the cold water to wipe the residue of Gus' love off his body. He took his time letting the cold water run through his hair. The quiet was interrupted by the arrival of the new puppies. Peter was with them and Ethan watched the hound supervise the new ones. He hadn't had a chance to talk with Peter yet. He watched sadly as Peter helped a small boy. Ethan turned away and started soaping his hair. Peter didn't have time for him anymore. He listened to their squeals at the fridgid rain of lake water and hung on Peter's patient answers to the familiar questions coming from the anxious puppies. The chatter of the new litter faded finally as Ethan began to rinse the soap out his hair. The new puppies left in a tumble of anxious voices, but Ethan sensed he was not alone.
He knew Peter was beside him when he turned to push his hair back. Peter ran his fingers through Ethan's hair to help him push it back and then Ethan found himself hugging the tall hound tightly. "I missed you," he whispered. Peter's heart sounded so strong and alive as he pressed his ear against his Peter's smooth chest. Peter reached for the soap and started to rub Ethan's back.
"I missed you too bright eyes."
Ethan reluctantly let go and let Peter cover him with soap. He felt at peace for the first time since Gus had told him about his parents. They were gone, but Peter was still with him. Peter fondled his penis and as it usually did now, Ethan's organ seemed to welcome his attention. After Peter had rinsed him off he reached out and took the hound's heavy cock and held it until it was firm.
"Have you been trying hard while I was away?" Ethan nodded his head silently. He massaged the strong shaft and ran the palm of his hand over the firm globes suspended beneath. He heard the frustration in Peter's voice when the hound continued. "You stopped talking again didn't you?"
"No; I remembered what you said. I've been talking with everyone. I even talk to Mel." Ethan bent and his lips enveloped Peter's head while he pumped on the long shaft with his fist. Peter ruffled his hair and caressed his ears. The ice cold lake water showered down on them and Peter arched back to let it beat against his face. Ethan's warm body pressed against his belly and the boy's free hand wandered. After Peter came Ethan continued. "Gus told me mom and dad are dead." He focused on Peter's still swollen shaft squeezing small drops out, catching them on his finger and then absently licking them off.
"I'm sorry" Peter said gently. "I don't remember my parents at all. Gus told me they were mean and hit me all the time. He saved me from them. It seems like I have always been here." They didn't have hot water or towels in the summer so the friends went out into the yard where the warm summer breeze and the hot sun could dry them off. Peter introduced him to some of the new puppies conscious of Ethan's arm wrapped tightly around his waist. Ethan's hair was still wet when Peter sent him off to play on the jungle gym. He waved at the puppy when Ethan reached the top and turned to look back down. The gesture reminded Peter of the boy in the blue swim suit; Mark? He had been so like Ethan. Peter had so wished it was Ethan there in the pool and that he did not have to return to the kennel. Ethan started across a gap hanging from the rope. His young muscles swelled with the effort and Peter admired Ethan's summer tan. He glanced over at a new puppy sitting alone against the chain link fence. The little boy was digging angrily at the ground with a blunt stick.
Gus paused on the deck of his cabin glad to be back in his own kingdom. He liked the view of the playground and the naked puppies playing unselfconsciously together. One new boy stood by the fence one hand cupped protectively over his groin. It did not take long to accustom the malleable young minds to nudity. Gus turned his attention to the handsome sixteen-year old talking to a small boy. Peter was good at calming the angry ones and settling the frightened ones. His grandson was a big help but he was getting too old. Should have sold the boy years ago, Gus reflected. Mel had still been a twenty-four year old junkie on the streets when his girl friend found her way to his trailer clutching two little boys. The older one had been someone else's brat but you could see Peter was part of the family. Gus waited until she had left to find Mel; and then he had sold the eight-year old to a friend and packed four-year-old Peter into his old van and headed up north. He had been five thousand dollars richer when he hit the road. When Mel disappeared out of her life a year later the stupid bitch finally gave up asking about the boys. The kennel business got started after Gus picked Mel out of a Seattle gutter. He hadn't done a good job with Mel, but as his son howled the drugs out of his system in the locked shed behind his cabin Gus had begun training the trembling Peter.
Gus watched the small boy hug his grandson and then turned his attention to the puppy named Sean balanced on a log. It was time to find a buyer and ship that one out. The rest of the litter was close to ready too. Gus sighed. Mel was just not very good at the business end and he couldn't control his impulses. The boys had to believe it was all about authority and love, not some vicious nightmare. Peter was what he was now, but he worked the puppies well. He never got attached to the passing boys either these days. Better to put a bullet through Mel's head some evening and let Helga and Peter handle the kennel when he was away. He should keep a puppy from the new litter and train another hound to take on the road. Helga said Peter could read a little. The boy kept the kennel going single handed. Maybe he needed to get her to teach him a bit more. Gus went back to considering which of the lithe puppies to bed that evening.
Peter took a last look at Ethan and went back inside. He felt the desolation of sudden loss. If Gus had told Ethan his parents were dead then he must be getting ready to send him to his new home. Peter wasn't sure why that bothered him so much. Puppies came and went didn't they? Peter thought he might stay the night with Ethan. He found a candle and a few magazines. He would take them to Ethan's kennel. Maybe they could help each other read.
"Where were you this time Peter?" Ethan turned onto his back and rested his head on his arms. The insects droned on the other side of the screen door. Peter flipped the magazine closed. He was propped casually on one arm.
"Phoenix, Vegas, the southwest," Peter smiled at Ethan. "You don't know where that is, do you?" Ethan shook his head solemnly and as the candle flickered its last breath of life the soft light bathed the boy's face and fireflies chased each other across his eyes. "Do you remember your home town?"
"Sure," but Ethan paused before continuing, "Linkalin."
"Do you remember your address? Your phone number?"
"I know what my house looks like."
Peter reached over to trace a finger from Ethan's throat down to his belly. "That's good," his voice sounded sad.
"I'm sorry." Ethan studied Peter's face. He was conscious of Peter's melancholy mood. Peter saw his concern and smiled softly. "It doesn't matter," Ethan reassured Peter, "They're dead now." He rolled away from Peter and studied the tattered postcard from Disneyland. Who gets my toys now? He wondered. Peter's hand rested on his hip.
The candle flame fluttered out and they were left in darkness. "Ethan," Peter whispered softly.
The hound slid his hand down across the small boy's belly and dragged him close. He nestled Ethan close against his chest. He breathed in the boy's scent as his lips and nose brushed the mat of thick hair covering Ethan's head. Their breathing mingled with the noises of the night and echoed the wind sighing through the trees. "Ethan," Peter repeated.
"Yeah?" The voice was drowsy. A small hand slipped down to grasp Peter's wrist where it lay above Ethan's groin. The boy pulled at the hand drawing a muscled arm up his thin torso to where it could circle his chest protectively. Peter splayed his fingers across Ethan's flat chest and shook him slightly. "What?" Ethan responded, shifting his head slightly. Peter considered the parted lips and the soft lids covering his friend's great eyes. He licked the edge of an ear and a smile rippled across Ethan's lips.
"Remember next time, okay?"
"Remember what Peter?" Ethan's tired voice was just a soft whisper.
"Your address, remember where you live." Peter whispered into the puppy's ear. Peter held Ethan close and listened to the wind whisper forlornly through the trees. They slept intertwined through the short northern night.
Nine Point One (Sixteen Point Eleven)
"What's the difference between Michael Jackson and a grocery bag?" The question produced a raised eyebrow so he continued, "One is white, made out of plastic, and dangerous for kids to play with and the other you carry your groceries in."
"Vance you are such a pervert!"
Vance offered a smirk over the rim of his gin and tonic before taking a sip. Moira giggled at his joke before turning back to her menu. She was a comfortable dinner companion and an easy lay. Her eyes twinkled. Vance considered inviting her home, but then, the apartment was still in chaos from his renovations to the guest bedroom. Better to go back to her place, he reflected. Moira and Vance had been friends long enough for the thirty-eight year old woman to have finally resigned herself to the fact that Vance would remain a confirmed bachelor. She worked in the office and they had gravitated together after his messy divorce from Cindy. That had been six years ago.
They lapsed into companionable silence as both studied the menu. Vance had made his selection some time ago. At this point he was trying to guess what Moira would select; sole on a bed of wild rice. She was weight conscious and was the sort to indulge her cravings when she was back in the privacy of her own kitchen. We are similar in that respect, he thought cynically. Vance congratulated himself when minutes later Moira indeed ordered the sole. This accomplished, he settled back to listen to her latest summary of As the Office Turns interspersed with details of her family life. She was accustomed to his long silences. He could make her laugh with a witty interjection or an acid remark about her nephew's boyish doings. Otherwise, she was content to let him listen.
Their main course was marred by a biscuit launched from the neighbouring table. The apologies from a scandalized mother were profuse, but the boys were clearly not contrite. Vance offered them a baleful glare as Moira passed the incident off lightly. The boys might have been ten and thirteen. From the position of their chairs the errant biscuit had been delivered by the younger boy. The young boy sat ridged, face frozen in an attempt not to smile. His eyes shifted between his brother and some spot over his head repeatedly. He was the picture of a scamp and probably knew it. Vance found it very hard not to smile.
Vance reached for the offending biscuit and held it up with a stern eye on the boy. At a word from his mother he slid out of his chair and covered the distance on light feet. He was dressed in an oversized white shirt casually jammed into black dress pants that would have benefitted from a belt. The boy assayed a smile but Vance rebuffed it with a cold look and the pair of adults watched him gingerly take the preferred food with two fingers then turn on his heal like a small soldier before marching back to his seat. Vance did his best to ignore the small bum below the loose shirt tail and picked up his fork. He gave the boy a last look and caught him roll his eyes at his brother. Vance grunted and began sawing at his Porterhouse with irritation.
"Gosh Vance, bite the boy's head off why don't you!" Moira thought the incident hugely funny.
"Kids!" Vance muttered in reply.
"Admit it, he was cute. It's a stuffy restaurant and the boys are likely bored." She leaned forward and quietly added, "Probably some anniversary." The siblings had returned to their warfare under the more watchful eyes of the adults.
Vance paused with his fork suspended. He leaned closer to Moira. "I just think that we paid enough for this meal and we should be allowed to enjoy it in peace."
"Oh my, then you better keep an eye on the lad." Moira's voice was full of laughter.
"I will!" Vance replied morosely, and then smiled slightly at Moira. She shook her head disparagingly at him. Vance gave himself a moment to study the boy's smile and dimples. His young hands were constantly in motion and his tousled hair bounced as he followed the conversation at his table and sparred with his older brother. Vance's thoughts of entertaining Moira for the evening vanished and he touched the small envelope with the SD card from the breeder that now burned a hole in his pocket. He forced his eyes back on Moira.
Vance allowed Moira to lead the conversation back into familiar territory as they leisurely worked their way through dinner and coffee. This was the prosaic pattern of his life. Vance Sylkuis, forty-three, divorced; a private sort open to casual relationships. A hard-working accountant with few ties, Vance had developed a reputation for covering the trips nobody else wanted to take. Send Vance, he has no life. On the road Vance came alive.
The evening had just about run its course. Moira extended an offer to move it back to her home and Vance had begged off with the familiar excuse of work. They were collecting themselves when Vance recognized his friend Donald beside him. After a moment he remembered his manners and introduced Moira.
"Vance does some freelance for me." Donald offered. Moira invited him to join them. Donald shook his head with a warm smile. "I'm here with a young friend." He stepped back and drew a slender teenager forward. He was a dark youth similar enough to Donald to be taken for his younger brother. Donald draped a hand over the youth's shoulder shook him playfully. "This is Russ. We are celebrating his birthday today."
"Well congratulations Russ." Moira smiled brightly at the boy. Vance was flustered. He was surprised to see his friend out with his young hound. Russ must have been about eleven when Donald revealed the magnitude of his relationship with the boy. It had led to a whole new circle of friends for Vance and he had been almost immediately fixated on the idea of acquiring a boy of his own.
Vance considered the well dressed fourteen-year old. Donald's hound seemed to be focussed on the boy's at the next table. Vance wished the youth away and back in Donald's suburban basement. One of the charms of the kennel puppies was the promise of a private world of play. Vance followed the hound's eyes to where they rested on the Puck-like biscuit bomber. If the young boy had been his puppy, Vance was certain he would not have dressed him in a tie and brought him to an exclusive restaurant. Shrewd eyes met his, and then coolly turned away to resume darting back and forth around the table. Vance sighed.
"So Vance, how's that sister of yours?"
"Cousin," Moira was aware that Vance was an only child.
"Right cousin," Donald paused to collect himself. "So what have you heard?"
Vance assumed a solemn demeanour before replying. "Give it a month or so. It's looking pretty bad for her." Vance caught a pious look of polite concern on Moira's face. He would have wished Donald had not asked about the new puppy. He was still fabricating his story. "It looks like the boy will come to me after all."
"Great news then, about the boy, not your cousin; that's sad of course, really sad," Donald struggled for a moment and then added lamely, "Cancer?"
Russ shifted his feet as the three adults paused to offer a moment's respect for the impending tragedy. Donald broke the awkward silence. "You will call me when he arrives won't you? Russ and I can help you settle him in."
"Oh most definitely," The men shared a smile before Donald moved off with his young hound. A word from Russ drew a relaxed laugh from his friend. It was a side to their relationship he had never witnessed. Vance watched the byplay for a bit before facing Moira and her inevitable questions. Craft this carefully Vance, what you say now gets back to the office.
"I'm sorry to hear about your cousin."
"Yes" Vance took a sip of coffee. "She and I were not that close." No reason to show grief.
"She has a son?"
"Yes, there's nobody else so it looks like I'll have to look after... him." When he reached the end of his words he realized Donald's broaching the subject had been premature. He tried to smooth the moment over with another sip of coffee.
"How old is he?"
"Good question, eight or nine I think, not older I hope." Young as he was, Russ's vitality and rampant adolescence was off-putting to Vance. His energy was boundless and he had long passed the sweet and tender innocence of childhood. He reminded Vance too much of the boy's he had envied in school and the confident hustlers he was forced to meet on the dark streets of strange cities.
"You aren't sure? Well what is his name?"
Ah yes, the damn name. Vance giggled wildly to himself. Give me a computer and I will just check that out for you. He thought briefly of the blond boy in the blue Speedo poised confidently on the diving board. He suddenly realized why he was drawn to all these similar boys. He knew who they reminded him of. The misery of childhood crushes; the name was forced out of him, "David."
"Yes I think so." Why did he add that?
"Oh my Vance," Moira seemed very amused by his predicament. "Vance Sylkuis, whatever are you going to do with a small boy?" She thought him unsuitable and unprepared. He smiled wanly back at her and sipped his coffee.
Vance fingered the small card before jamming it into his reader. It had come to him by a tortured route from the breeder and he had waited impatiently all day for his chance to view it. Somewhere on that disk was a picture of his puppy. He restrained himself long enough to mix a drink and change his clothes. Then he forced himself to relax on the couch before balancing the laptop on his knee. It began with a series of candid videos of young naked boys. This alone made the card valuable to the buyer. He watched the different AV clips pausing frequently to refill his drink. He put the drink down and sat forward when the next clip began. The puppies were in a totally anonymous room that offered the buyer no insight into where the kennel was located. It was a difficult choice between the three boys. They were of an age and only variations on theme. The boys were absorbed in the simple task of mixing a meat loaf of ingredients together and rolling meat balls. Two of them chatted freely together and the third worked silently.
He was drawn to the two chattering about some new boys who had apparently arrived at the kennel. The third didn't seem to be listening. He had a passive dreamy quality Vance found boring. The two conversing together slapped their meatballs together while the third rolled precise little balls that he would space neatly on the pan. Occasionally he picked up one of the other boy's squashed attempts and rolled it over. Vance heard the boys mention Peter and the buyer had a clear memory of the handsome hound. The third boy showed a flicker of interest at the name. It was the first indication that the quiet boy might be deeper than he seemed. One of the boys turned to tease the third boy about Peter and he gave the quiet one a push. The buyer saw a flash of irritation on the boy's face and then he seemed to relapse into his dreamy mood. The other boys turned back to their speculations about the new boys. They teased and pushed each other occasionally.
The two boys started to kiss and the buyer began to masturbate. He needed his puppy. It had been weeks since he had made the down payment and once he had made his selection he would have to wait for another month for delivery. He was making due with tension filled encounters on the streets of distant cities. His puppy would be clean and safe. There would be no fear of the police or STDs. Instead of brief, barely satisfying moments in a rented car he would have years of satisfaction and companionship. He would finally have a boy who loved him.
The camera man was good. He lingered on close-ups of the two boy's prepubescent organs and the curves of their smooth rumps as they engaged with each other. Vance thought the boys oblivious to the camera until the third boy suddenly turned and stared intently at the camera with an appealing look of sadness. That boy does not know what real love is. It caught the buyer's imagination and he finished himself while he stared intently at the young boy's smooth chest and flat belly. He imagined the caress of delicate fingers and the taste of the soft lips. Tender words in the night. The big liquid eyes brimming over with love just for him.
The buyer explored the remainder of the files relieving himself a second time during a washing scene. There was a brief catalogue of the boys with names next to each wide eyed face. The Vance spent another two days reaching a decision on the puppy named Sean.