By John Yager

This is the forth chapter of a series.  Please see the introduction to chapter 1 for other information and background.

This work has been copyrighted by the author, who can be contacted at:

- 4 -

Traffic and Conversation

The sunlight was almost blinding when we came out of the building onto the street. I was at once that Cutler had been right about the traffic and the scarcity of cabs.

As our group split up, going off in twos and threes in different directions, Martin led Bill and me to west along the front of the building to the garage exit. I realized I'd walked by it several times on my way to and from Cutler's offices and never realized it was the entry and exit of a subterranean parking garage.

It was several more minutes until a beige Jaguar came up the ramp and Cutler said, "here we are."

He slid into the front passenger seat next to Tim and Bill made an end run around the car to get in behind the driver. That left me to take the right rear seat. I settled back into the car's sumptuous comfort, surrounded by rich leather and wood and relaxed for what I knew would be a slow drive to the hotel. I couldn't help wondering if it wouldn't be quicker to walk, but I was glad to relax in the company of three very desirable men.

We waited for a break in the traffic so Tim could make a left turn, heading west. It was a one-way street and it wasn't too long before someone gave us a little space in the long line of stop and go traffic and we were able to get out into the flow of things. Not that it was fast, it wasn't. The stop lights were out, of course, but drivers were being polite and taking intersections in turn, as if they were all four-way stops.

It took us twenty minutes to drive two and a half long cross-town blocks and make a right turn onto Tenth Avenue. From there on the traffic moved a little faster and by the time we'd gotten to the point were Tenth becomes Amsterdam Avenue, it was almost six o'clock.

As we drove slowly along, moving a few feet, then stopping again, Martin threw his left arm over the back of his seat and turned a little so he was almost facing Bill and me.

"Do you think you can get Sandy's contracts redone tomorrow, Bill, if the power is back on by, oh, say noon?"

"Actually, Sally had them finished before the blackout. She couldn't print them but as soon as I can get hard copies I'd say I'll need a couple of hours, tops, to proof them. Sure, if we get power by noon, we can get them to you, Sandy, by late afternoon tomorrow."

"I intend to stay in the city until Sunday afternoon, so if you can get them done, that would be great. If not, don't worry about it. We have oral agreement and you can just send the final copies to me in Mississippi."

We talked intermittently as we drove slowly along. Martin asked about my weekend plans and I said I had theater tickets for Saturday evening and intended to spend most of Friday at the Met if it was open. Otherwise, I'll just sleep in tomorrow and get in some walking in the afternoon."

"What about tomorrow night?" he asked.

"Noting planned. I figured we might be working all day tomorrow. I never dreamed we'd get an agreement so quickly and be more or less finished today."

"Well," Martin said, "you can thank Bill for that. He'd really done the spade work before you even got into town."

I noticed that whenever we were stopped in traffic Tim would take his right hand off the steering wheel and put it on the center console. Whenever he did so, Martin was always quick to reach out and cover the younger man's hand with his own. I had to admit it was endearing.

"Let's see how it goes with this blackout, but if they get the power back on, why don't you plan on coming up for dinner with us tomorrow night." Then, giving Bill a wink, he added, "that includes you, too, Mr. Hastings."

"Thanks," Bill grinned at Martin and then at me, too, "I'd love to come."

When we got to the hotel it was after six-thirty. Bill and I piled out and I leaned in Martin's window to say, "don't worry about your guy. I'll be sure he doesn't end up sleeping on the street."

"Thanks, Sandy. I knew I could rely on southern hostility."

With that Bill and I headed into the hotel as the elegant car glided on north.

To be continued.