Jack Scribe

Chapter 3, HANGING A HAT

The first thing Cray felt turned out to be a warm arm draped over him. Next was the feeling of a flat chest pressed against his backside. His stomach knotted and he started to panic until it dawned on him where he was...and who was next to him. He looked at the clock and noted it was only 4:00 a.m. Spike had again given him a ride to the house after work and Cray had crashed, completely exhausted, into an empty bed two hours earlier. This was now not the case, as the bed was no longer empty.

Wanting physical closeness with another person - male or female - was a new concept that he found comforting. As Mario breathed slowly and deeply, Cray adjusted himself so that the sleeping, muscular man's weight was a better fit. He smiled a little as he became aware of the pleasant body odor, Mario's heartbeat and breathing rhythm. 'This feels good,' he decided as he subconsciously started matching the breathing. 'I like this snuggling thing.' Within moments, he fell into a deep, safe, satisfying sleep.

Four hours later, Cray remembered Mario was next to him when he woke up. This time, however, their positions had reversed. He was also aware that his hard cock, struggling to free itself from his briefs, was precariously parked on Mario's butt. 'Oops,' he reacted, 'being too close is not a good idea. Gotta take a whiz and get cleaned up.' He was thankful that Mario was a heavy sleeper and didn't stir when he pulled away. Cray eased over to the edge of the bed, stood up and rearranged the sheet before padding to the bathroom. The first thing he did in the spacious, marble-clad room was to turn on the shower.

With a little adjustment, he pulled off his briefs, kicked them aside and straddled the toilet to adjust his aim. Hanging down was not what his dick wanted to do right now. 'Ahhh. What can be better than a pee the first thing in the morning?' he thought as he did his business. A minute later, his early morning erection - a frequent problem - still was present. 'Who was it who said that it's wise to turn a problem into an opportunity?' Cray checked the water, stepped into the shower and attacked the 'opportunity' with lubricating soap lather. Within moments, his pent up reservoir of semen ferociously shot...several times...from his engorged, agitated member onto the marble wall. 'Man, I'm really getting good at this,' he thought with a smile. A couple of years ago, a jerking climax resulted in only a few oozing drops. He was pleased that it was out of the way and proceeded to take his shower, making sure the evidence of his activity was washed away.

He looked at himself in the mirror as he dried off. It was definitely time to remove the spiky chin hairs and fuzz on his face. Mario had given Cray permission to use one of his disposable Bic razors. He had started shaving a year earlier and was now on a cycle of swiping a blade over his face every four or five days. Cray was thankful that he had his hair cut only a week earlier and wouldn't have to worry about that expenditure for another couple of weeks. He liked to keep his hair short - a habit he picked up with the Tai Chi group back in Provo. 'I'm going to miss some of those guys,' he considered while wiping his face clean of shaving cream. 'Good. No nicks or scrapes.' He picked up his dirty briefs and returned to the bedroom.

"Morning, Sunshine," Mario said from the bed.

"Morning." Cray was amused at the way his host's hair mopped down over his eyes when it wasn't slicked back.

"I take it you slept well. You look pretty squared away." Mario scooted up to a sitting position and tossed back the sheet.

"Slept very well...thanks. I thought I'd get up and do my laundry. I brought the uniforms home with me. And I told Mr. Ed that I'd help him with a few things this morning."

"He said you did some stuff for him yesterday as well. I know he appreciates it."

"It's the least I could do for you and him. I thank God for you taking me in." Cray suddenly became aware that he was standing before Mario butt-naked. "I...I'd better get some clean clothes on. You'll think I'm a perv." He walked over to his backpack and retrieved a clean pair of briefs. 'Funny,' he thought as he put on the underwear, 'I don't feel the least bit shy about being in front of him with no clothes.'

"Not at all. I'd like to think we're becoming friends. Back in the Marine Corps, it was no big deal to be with the guys in the barracks with nothing on. And I saw my share of woodies standing at attention in the morning shower."

"I'll just think of this as boot camp...Sarge." Cray turned around and popped his best salute.

"Carry on, Private," Mario said as he returned the salute with a grin. "After you're finished with Mr. Ed, maybe you and I can have some lunch by the pool. Say about noon?" Mario got out of bed, went over to the chest of drawers and got a fresh pair of black boxers.

"Um, sure. I shouldn't need more than three hours helping Mr. Ed. And after lunch, maybe I'll work out a little." Cray decided he would officially thank Mario for offering a place to crash the last couple of nights at lunch. 'Wonder where the hell I'm going to stay tonight? Maybe I can find a cheap place that rents by the week.' He watched Mario get out of his dirty boxers and walk to the bathroom. Cray walked to the doorway and admired the shape his older friend was in. The two tattoos were just the right thing to complement the muscled body.

"Good. I'll meet you in the kitchen and we'll rustle up some food about that time. I'm doing errands this morning." Mario winked and turned on the shower. "Be sure and wash the colors separate from the whites, son."

"Thanks for the advice...Mom," Cray replied with a snicker.  "Later." He could imagine what kinds of 'errands' were being done. Cray got dressed in a clean pair of cargo shorts and tee he had brought, and bundled up his dirty clothes. He slipped into a pair of flip-flops Mario had given him and left the bedroom. Halfway down the hallway, Spike opened his bedroom door and stepped out.

"Hey, Dude. Guess we're both up early," Spike said. "You're doing laundry?"

"Yep. My uniforms need to be broken in. Just a few things." Cray was still amazed at the things Spike had revealed about his job as an escort. 'He'd shit his pants if he knew I was only 16 years old.'

"Would you do me a big favor and wash my stuff with yours? I promise I don't have crabs or anything," Spike said while he rolled his eyes. "Gotta take my car to the Honda dealer for servicing this morning and I've run out of underwear."

"No problem. I'll put the clean laundry on your bed when they're done. Folded at no extra charge." Cray waited while Spike went back to retrieve his laundry bag.

"Here it is. The bag is a little full," Spike said sheepishly when he returned.

"Jeez, you must have two weeks worth in the bag. But I'm sure your designer stuff won't get mixed up with my ratty Fruit of the Loom drawers from Wal-Mart."

"It's not the label that counts; it's how you fill them. I suspect you do that very well."

"Well enough." Cray smiled, without embarrassment, and took the laundry bag.

The two guys nodded and silently walked toward the kitchen together. Spike went out the door and Cray headed for the laundry room. He dropped his bundle on the floor and separated the whites. Next he dumped the contents of Spike's laundry bag. This was the first time he had to rummage around another person's laundry to sort out colors and he discovered that touching the soiled underwear of a guy about his age was a little bit of a turn on. 'There must be a couple dozen pair of underwear along with assorted tees and socks,' he thought as he separated the pile. He noted that the briefs labels were 2(x)ist and Ginch Gonch -brands he didn't recognize - and were all very low-cut. 'Might as well do the whites first,' he decided.

He measured a cap of detergent, poured it into the large Maytag and tossed in his well-worn budget underwear. Next came Spike's laundry. He picked out the whites and held them in his hands. Curiosity overcame him and he thoroughly examined each pair before putting them in the washer. One garment had an abundance of 'pecker tracks' in the front. Cray looked around to make sure no one was watching before he brought up the marked briefs to his nose. He took a deep breath and inhaled Spike's crotch odor. 'Kinda like my smell,' he decided. He inspected them again before throwing them in. 'I guess we're all about the same down there if ya keep yourself fairly clean.' He set the machine and turned it on.

The rest of the morning was divided between the laundry and helping Mr. Ed. The job was a continuation of the English housekeeper's project of completely re-organizing the kitchen pantries, shelves and thoroughly sanitizing it. Cray was eager to please because of the kindness he had been shown and he didn't mind helping out. In addition, Mr. Ed's eloquent way of speaking and directing the tasks were fascinating to him. By 11:30 a.m., the work was done and the housekeeper was satisfied with the results. Cray excused himself to put away the clean laundry and freshen up before joining Mario for lunch.

At noon he walked back into the kitchen. Mario and Mr. Ed were having a conversation and laughing together. Mario motioned Cray to come forward.

"I took the liberty to fix a couple ham and cheese sandwiches, if that's all right," Mario said. "I'll take the food out to the pool if you'll grab a couple of bottles of water and a couple of apples."

"Be right with you." Cray went to the refrigerator and took out the water and fruit. He turned to Mr. Ed and said, "I hope you believe me when I tell you I really enjoyed the job we did this morning. You have a way of making me want to learn and do my best."

"Ah, young Cray...that's very kind. I do believe that there is a diamond behind your shell ready to be polished. It's always a pleasure to be with someone who has a work ethic. Enjoy your lunch with Mr. Mario." Mr. Ed nodded and gestured for Cray to proceed to the pool.

The mid-day heat was tempered by a light breeze and very low humidity. Cray walked over to the umbrella-covered table where Mario was relaxing, set down the waters and apples, and pulled up a seat. Except for one guy swimming laps in the pool, the area was very quiet. He took one of the water bottles and opened it.

"Mr. Ed was telling me what a big help you've been the past two days," Mario said. "You've made a good friend with that man and I value his judgment."

"It was more fun than work and I wanted to pay back something for the help you offered. I can barely think of where I'd be if we hadn't met." Cray picked up his sandwich and took a bite.

"Fate has a way of presenting different paths to us. The best thing for you to do is forget about that piece of crap you have - or had - for a stepdad and move forward." Mario unscrewed the water bottle cap and took a sip. "You've got a job and that'll get you some money to live on." He took his sandwich and nibbled around the edges.

"This afternoon I'm going to look for a motel with a cheap rate. Any ideas?" Cray looked at his friend and mentor as he munched more of the sandwich.

"Actually...I'm going to recommend a pretty good place. It's clean and real cheap."

"Really? Tell me all about it. I'll check it out as soon as we're finished." Cray excitedly put down his sandwich and sipped some water.

"It's not far...about 100 feet away," Mario replied. "Don't look so puzzled. You know that Mr. Ed has an apartment at the backend of the garage. Well, there's also a vacant studio next to his place. Nothing much...just a bedroom and bath. I think the original owners used it for a live-in gardener."

"Holy sh...ah, crap. That'd be fantastic. How much rent is it?" Cray asked.

"Here's the deal. Mr. Ed needs someone to help him around the place two or three hours a day. Tidying up, food prep, errands...stuff like that. Based on the good job you did for him and your attitude, he thinks that you'd be ideal to be his assistant. The room would be yours, at no charge, in lieu of any money. Interested?"

"Interested? Man, that would be ideal. Can I see the room?" Cray clenched his lips tight to hold back tears.

"Let's take a break from lunch and walk over there. We can come back and finish the food after you check it out. It'll probably need to be cleaned." Mario stood up and spread his arms.

Instinctively, Cray raised himself and moved into a full hug. He leaned his head on Mario's shoulders and hung on for a few moments before releasing himself. The two men silently walked over to the separate garage structure and past Mr. Ed's apartment. At the end was a door that Cray hadn't noticed before. Mario pulled a key out of his pants pocket, put it in the lock and unlocked the door.

"I'll go in first and turn on a light," Mario said as he walked in. "I don't think anyone has been in here for a while. Need to turn on the air conditioning, too."

Cray silently entered the space and looked at the basic layout. The double bed dominated the room. However, there was a compact couch and coffee table that faced a television set. By the window was a small desk and chair.

"Whaduya think?" Mario asked as he opened the blinds of the one large window above the desk.

"Friggin' fantastic. And the answer is 'yes'." Cray smiled and opened a door he assumed was to the bathroom. It was a basic tub shower, toilet and washbasin combo with tile on the floor. The shower curtain was a little old but serviceable. 'I can change that when I get some spare money,' he judged.

"Most of the dirt is just surface stuff. You should be able to get the place in 'ship shape' this afternoon." Mario reached down and turned on the TV. Immediately a decent color picture came into focus. "Good, the cable from Mr. Ed's apartment also connects to this set. You've got HBO, Showtime and all the various sports packages." He picked up the remote to turn off the television. When the set didn't respond, he said, "The clicker must need new batteries."

"I can pick some up this afternoon. Funny, I've never had cable in my life...just what came over the house antenna. I guess this other door is the closet?" he asked as he opened it and walked inside. "Oh, wow. There's a small fridge in here. Might as well plug it in."

"I forgot about that. That'll be good for snacks, sodas and water. No beer, though," Mario said with a laugh.

"I don't like the stuff and I'd need another I.D. to buy it, anyway." Cray decided that a masculine handshake was in order rather than a hug. "Mario, I'll do you proud. Thanks."

"Bullshit with the handshake. I'm getting used to a hug. Come on, man. That will give me a 'good guy' fix for the day." Mario reached around and pulled Cray close to his chest. "Buddy, this should get you up and running. Let's go back and finish lunch. I think you now probably have a few things to do this afternoon you hadn't planned on."

"For sure. I'll get this pulled together and bring my duffle bag back with me tonight after work."

"Oh, one more thing. Let's keep your real age a secret. Legally, I could get into a lot of trouble harboring a minor...if you catch my drift."

"I'd already forgotten know what," Cray said with a shrug. "18 it is." He looked at his host and thought, 'I've only seen angels in picture books with wings and all that stuff. My real one has tattoos.'

"Let's go back and finish lunch. Afterwards, you can tackle this project."


Drew was finishing a few reports when he heard the outer door open. 'Must be Cray,' he thought as he looked at the clock. 'Yep, 7:00 p.m. I should wrap things up for the night.' He closed the report folder and placed it on the side of his desktop. "Hey, that you?" he called out.

"Yes, Sir. I'll come back if I'm disturbing you." Cray walked to the door and nodded with a big smile.

"I gotta get home for dinner. Bob's making some spaghetti and meatballs." Since the young man had started the job almost two weeks earlier, Drew had made it a point to get to know Cray. Drew was upfront about his gay orientation and the partner relationship with Bob. There had been nothing to indicate that Cray felt any negativity to the news. In fact, Cray had said that he wasn't like some of the bigoted Mormons he had known back in Utah and thought Brokeback Mountain was a cool movie.

"Yum. Spaghetti is one of my favs"

"Before we get moved into the new building and everything gets crazy, maybe you could come over and eat with us one night. I'd say 'dine' but with our schedules you never know what the food will be." Drew stood and stretched. 'Maybe sitting down over dinner will draw the guy out a little,' he thought. Their short, nightly conversations were always a little vague on Cray's part.

"That would be super. I haven't had the opportunity to meet Bob and would like that very much. By the way, is the move still goin' to happen soon?"

"I think we're running a few days behind schedule. There's a small problem. The certificate of occupancy is dragging because of some pissy little electrical issues. I figure in about 10 days. When are your next days off?" Drew turned off his computer and walked up to Cray.

"This weekend - Saturday and Sunday." Cray backed away so that Drew could exit his office.

"Hmmm. If I'm not mistaken, Sunday is going to be quiet. Let me check with Bob but keep that day open for an early dinner." Drew intentionally left the office light on as he walked into the reception area.

"Oh, cool. That would be fun. I'm sure I can borrow a car to get to your place."

"That's a bummer to be in this town without a car." Drew didn't even want to imagine how Cray got around on the bus in the middle of the night.

"The good news is that the people I rent from may have a used car that I can buy."

"That is good news. Just be sure and budget in enough money for insurance. Unfortunately, a guy who's 18 is going to pay through the nose for insurance."

"Um, yeah...I know it. Somehow I'll make it work." Cray stood motionless and knew what he had just said was highly unlikely. 'I suspect I'll know those bus schedules by heart.'

"In the meantime, plan on Sunday unless Bob's got something I don't know about. See you tomorrow and we can firm up things." Drew squeezed Cray's arm and waved goodbye.

He admired the almost-finished Barcelona resort and casino complex as he walked to his perpetually dusty BMW 525 xi. He'd given up keeping it clean and resigned himself to the dirt until the underground garage was ready for occupancy in the fall. All in all, somehow he'd cope with the nuisance of the less-than-pristine company Bimmer. 'Not a bad perk,' he thought as he opened the door and slid into the comfortable seat. Inside was spotless and there was a leathery, new car smell.  

The drive to the apartment complex was very relaxed at this hour of the evening after Drew passed the Strip craziness and headed south. The one benefit of working screwy hours, he decided, was not having to deal with obnoxious rush hour traffic. Las Vegas had grown too fast, too soon for the traffic planning commission to create meaningful solutions to the archaic infrastructure.

A parking spot was available not too far from his building. He chuckled as he locked the car door. Drew purposely left the car just far enough away so the other residents in his building wouldn't be aware of the mess of a vehicle he drove. He opened the apartment door and was immediately enchanted by the aromas coming from the kitchen. 'Can there be anything better than the smell of simmering tomato sauce?' he wondered. 'Well, yes...there are a few.' The visions of the alternatives brought a smile to his face.

"Hon, get changed so I can put in the garlic bread," Bob Harrington called out.

"Best offer I've had all day." Drew walked into the kitchen and kissed Bob on the cheek. "Do we have time for a martini?" He thought his man looked hot in sleeveless tee and gym shorts. It did not go unnoticed that Bob wasn't wearing anything under the shorts.

"Ketel One, dirty? By the time you get back, I'll have two waiting."

"Goodness...two for me?" Drew asked with a smile.

"Fuck you, Reichardt. Just get into something more comfortable." Bob leaned in and kissed Drew on the lips. "Just a sample of what I've got in mind later, bub."

"Jesus...martinis, garlic bread and a little lovin' all in one night. I'm afraid to get hard for fear I'll get a heart attack."

"Git...and I'll make the drinks," Bob said with a laugh.

Drew goosed Bob and trotted out before his partner could retaliate. In record time, he had changed from the corporate dress to a tank top and shorts. When he returned to the living room, there were two dirty martinis sitting on the coffee table.

"Go ahead and sit down. I'm fixing bruschetta."

"I'll take a sip and get started if you don't mind," Drew said as he set down on the couch. "I'm ready for a little high-octane." He reached for the cocktail glass, brought it to his lips, took a deep breath and took a generous sip of the vodka, vermouth and juice from the stuffed olives. "Yum...that's great."

"I cheated and had one a little earlier," Bob said as he walked in with a platter of bruschetta. "I must say that the boss's olive oil on the toasted bread is superior." He placed the platter on the table and sat down.

"Galliano Olive Oil will continue to be exclusively served in this house as long as we have jobs," Drew replied. He held his drink in the air and waited until Bob clinked his glass for a silent toast. They both knew where the seed money for the casino had come from. However, only Drew was aware of all the ramifications concerning Big Al Bromley and his wife's family connections with the nefarious elements of America's criminal world. "The bruschetta looks super. If we could only find tomatoes as fantastic as these in January."

"I'll drink to that." Bob smiled and took a sip. "Anything hot going on since we talked this morning?"

"Naw. We'll definitely move into the main tower in ten days but it'll be a real hump to open on schedule. We'll do it. How would you feel if I invited this cleaning guy who I've mentioned to dinner? I was thinking of this Sunday. He recently moved to Vegas and doesn't have many friends. We've kind of hit it off and I guess I look at him as a little brother who needs an assist. I think he's worth it."

"Little brother? You're talking about this cute twinkette who started this job a couple of weeks ago? If you want, I don't mind a little eye candy over for dinner."

"There's something that I can't pinpoint about Cray. Cray Gamble is his name. He arrived in town and doesn't say much specific about his past. I think we can help him adjust to this new environment and become friends if he needs us. And yes, he is a cutie." Drew smiled and took a sip of his martini. "You'll like him. The guy presents a solid fašade but there's some intentional vagueness when he talks about his background. I'd just like to be available if he needs to reach out."

"How does he feel about having dinner with two committed guys? Most teens aren't that excited about getting too cozy with an older male couple."

"Older, my ass," Drew said with a snicker. "Seriously, that doesn't seem to be a problem. I was upfront and told him about my orientation - well, both of us - and wasn't coy about our relationship."

" light of him coming from the boonies. You think he's a club member?"

"I don't think so, but being around gay guys doesn't seem to be an issue. My gaydar keeps getting a few pings but maybe it's just nothing more than picking up a young guy's curiosity. For a guy who's 18, he sometimes appears to be a little na´ve in the ways of the world."

"Babe, if we can be big brothers for Cray and help him figure out things...let's go for it. I'm sure growing up in Utah and living around the Mormon culture has been a limiting factor. What shall we fix for dinner?" Bob took a bite of bruschetta and followed it by a sip of the martini.

"Maybe a roast? I could stop by the new Whole Foods store and pick up a half-prime rib and some large potatoes for baking."

"I'm good with that. We can do a salad and veggies. Since Cray's only 18 we don't have to worry about wine." Bob stood up and added, "In the meantime, I'll put in the garlic bread and pull dinner together."

"Let me help." Drew grabbed his cocktail glass and followed Bob back to the kitchen.


The final turn into the apartment complex was the easy part; locating the correct building amongst the maze of two-story town house facades took longer. Cray made the wrong turn at the entrance and had to double-back. He tried the opposite way this time and found the building a block down the road, across from the swimming pool.

He carefully parked Spike's Honda in a space near the building and made sure to lock the car. The khakis he had borrowed from one of the guys were just a little long but passable. Although shorts in August were usually what he wore, Cray didn't want to appear too casual. Drew had made it a point of saying not to bring anything with him.  'Hope they don't really expect a gift or something,' he thought as he approached the apartment door. He took a deep breath, focused and pushed the door buzzer.

"Come on in, Cray," Drew said as he opened the door. He smiled and extended his hand.

"Hi." Cray shook hands, walked into the apartment and was immediately impressed by the laid-back, masculine interior. 'Certainly nothing too fancy,' he thought, 'or girlie.' But he really didn't know what to expect to see in an apartment occupied by a gay couple. 'Nice place.'

"And this is my partner, the famous Bob Harrington." Drew stepped aside and let Bob walk forward.

"Cray, I've looked forward to meeting you since Drew mentioned you. First, welcome to Las Vegas. Second, welcome to our home." Bob shook his hand and motioned Cray to come into the living room.

"Thanks. I've also wanted to meet you." Cray found Bob to be a handsome man and thought Drew had excellent taste. He felt immediately at ease with the two guys slightly older than himself.

"I guess water or soft drinks are in order for you," Bob said. "What'll you have?"

"Um, a Coke's fine."

"Great. I'll get it. I hope you won't mind if Bob and I have a glass or so of wine." Drew said as he walked away.

"So what brings a young guy like you to Las Vegas?" Bob asked as he gestured for Cray to sit down.

"I decided that my life was a dead end in Utah." Cray leaned back into the over-stuffed chair and took a deep breath. "Vegas seemed to be a place where I could hopefully start out new." He was determined to be as truthful as he could. "I'm young enough to start at the bottom and work up."

"Here we go. One Coke and two glasses of merlot," Drew said as he returned with full glasses. "Go ahead and start with these. I've gotta bring out the cold shrimp." He set the glasses on the coffee table and returned to the kitchen.

"I moved here almost two years ago and haven't regretted it. Ah, are you planning on taking any college courses? UNLV's a terrific school."

"I don't know about right now, Bob. Maybe down the road." Cray scooted around in the chair a little and continued, "There's so much I need to do, first."

"Just let us know what we can do to help, buddy. You seem like a nice guy and Drew thinks the world of you."

"You don't know how much I appreciate that." Cray raised his glass of Coke and took a small sip.

The rest of the dinner was very friendly. Cray was able to effectively deflect any direct questions with general answers and got the guys to talk about themselves. For a finale, warm apple pie and ice cream were served. As he cleaned his dish, Cray decided he could count on the two men to be in his corner if he needed it.

By the time Cray said goodnight, there were tentative plans to include the teenager in a Labor Day cruise and picnic at Lake Mead. He drove back to Mario's house and steered the car into an available parking space. Since it was fairly early on this Sunday evening, most of the other guys' cars were gone. Spike was working as a duo with one of the other guys and wouldn't be back until later. Cray could only imagine what those two were doing with their client.

After entering the main house and tossing the car keys on Spike's bed, he went over to the garage structure and his room. As he emptied the pants pockets, Cray had a panicked feeling when he couldn't find his wallet. 'Must have left it in the car,' he thought as he returned to Spike's room. He grabbed the keys and urgently returned to the parking lot. "Where the fuck is it?" he muttered to himself after unlocking the car door and feeling around the seat. He had a sinking feeling that the wallet was still in the overstuffed easy chair back at the guy's place.

He looked at his watch and decided that it was early enough to call Drew. 'Hopefully they haven't gone to bed for whatever,' he thought as he returned to the kitchen in the main house. Cray grabbed the phone and dialed the number Drew had given him.

~~~ "Hello?"

"Um, Drew, this is Cray. I'm sorry to bother you but I just got home and realized that my wallet must have fallen out of my back pants pocket and might be in your big chair."

~~~ "Yes. As a matter of fact, Bob found it shortly after you left."

"Is it too late to come back and pick it up?" Cray was relieved and anxious at the same time.

~~~ "I think that coming back here would be a good idea. We're just about done cleaning up and will wait for you. How's that?"

"Drew, thanks a lot. I'll be back in about 10 minutes."

~~~ "Okay. You know the way."

Cray placed the receiver back in the cradle and was a little puzzled by the coolness in Drew's voice. 'Maybe it's just the lateness in the evening?' he wondered. He returned to the parking lot and started the Honda...once again.



A special acknowledgement to Drew for encouraging me to tell a better story through his edits and suggestions. And a big thanks to Brad for his patient proofreading and editing. Finally, a shout-out to Trab for the final tweaks to get the story 'just right.'

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