Jack Scribe

This multipart, fictional story is primarily about romance and relationships between men. Any reference to actual persons, living or dead, is only to enhance the fictional nature of the story and does not suggest a particular sexual orientation.  Any fictional characters' resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. If you are offended by graphic descriptions of homosexual sex, what the hell are you doing here? Bye, bye.

Special acknowledgements to Drew and Brad for providing diligent proofing and editing of the story.

If you have any comments or suggestions for the author, feel free to write me at Support Nifty!


Chapter 14, Labor Day - Windy City Connections

Experiencing the early August climate around Foggy Bottom could best be compared with sitting, fully clothed, in a hot, rock-sizzling sauna. Congress had hung up the standard "Not in Session" sign and the members set off to various points of interest. Consensus was that this was not the year to be seen at resorts or on yachts with lobbyists. The usual gravy train 'fact finding' trips - paid for by the U.S. government in action - allowed several congressmen and senators to explore 'important' issues in Europe while the more adventuresome traveled to Asia...well, at least Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore. Due to the stepped up terror activity in Baghdad, posturing and posing in Iraq was out of favor this year. A few went home to listen to their constituents.

For most of the month, Mandy Burns' congressional office would be running full force. The luxury of being back in the Midwest and at her Lake Geneva vacation retreat in August had been forfeited when she was elected minority leader. That also meant that Phil and Kyle would be cranking out press releases and spinning Mandy's positions during this period. On top of their combat duty, Mandy Burns was guest speaker at a Chicago Labor Day rally with the Mayor, and Phil had drawn the short straw to be the official hand holder. However, he struck a quid pro quo deal with the chief of staff: a week's working vacation time in Chicago the last week of August, ending with the Labor Day weekend.

Phil decided that this would be a great time to spend a little down time, get together with some old friends and introduce McDonald Price to the Windy City.  Mac had already planned on visiting his folks in Texas and was re-arranging his schedule to meet Phil up North. 'This would be a great get away and play,' he thought as the cell phone rang.

"Is everything set at your end for the trip?" Although Phil was dreading the end of the day and the exposure to the late afternoon heat, he perked up when he saw Mac's name on the caller ID screen.

~~~ "Actually it worked out quite well. The folks had an invitation to be houseguests at South Padre Island. The plan is to spend one week with them at the ranch and then fly up to Chicago on Sunday, the 27th."

"Fantastic. How in the hell are you flying out of bumfuck West Texas? Last I heard American Airlines doesn't have direct service from the county Airport," Phil said with a laugh. Aside from knowing that Mac's dad was a rancher and cattleman, they hadn't talked too much about the senior Price's background. An occasional passing reference to the 'ranch' was all Phil knew about Mac's childhood home. He was also aware that Mac adored his younger brother, who was now getting a masters in petroleum engineering at Texas A & M.

~~~ "You got me there. As a matter of fact, the closest airport is Midland...but dad has a Cessna and they can drop me off at the San Antonio airport on their way to South Padre."

"Another dimension of Mr. Price with which I'm not familiar. Sounds pretty fancy."

~~~ "Not if you live in the middle of nowhere. Dad learned to fly as a teenager, just like my brother. It's just the realities of doing business down there."

"Buddy, I'm ready to do business right now but I've got a crap load of stuff on my desk."

~~~ "At the risk of this call becoming x-rated and your desk getting messed up, I'm going to sign off before we get into trouble. You up for some dinner at my place?"

"At the very least. What color wine can I bring?"

~~~ "Red. We can talk about the Chicago trip." Mac paused for a moment before continuing in a throaty, raspy voice, "And if you're on good behavior, I'll take care of the 'very least'. Bye."

"Bye, bye." Phil flipped closed the cell phone and returned to a calendar mock-up for the rest of August. From today's date - Monday, August 7 - Phil needed to formulate a game plan through the first part of September, based on Mandy's schedule.

"Knock, knock," Kyle said from the door. "Okay to talk for a few minutes?"

"Sure, no problem. I need to run a few things by you, anyway."

"I just heard that Ney from Ohio has decided not to run for re-election," Kyle said as he walked into the office. "Another 'moral majority' congressman bites the dust."

"Wait 'til he gets fried in court on charges of conspiracy and making false statements. We should give Abraham a gold star for that one. The number of our esteemed leaders that were on the take is amazing. But, Neys' district is solid Republican and I can't imagine anything happening between now and November to upset the applecart."

"There's always that 'October surprise' that could be looming in the background."

"Kyle, you've been reading too many wishful thinking, Soros-funded blogs," Phil said with a laugh. "Have a seat...I'm just getting your marching orders for the month firmed up."

"Uggh, I knew that I had it too good," Kyle said with a friendly shrug. "First, I really appreciate the short work days last week so I could play nurse to Dex."

"He's doing alright? I was amazed at how up he was at that little party you pulled together."

"Dex is doing great since you saw him ten days ago; and 'up' is definitely a key word," Kyle replied with a grin. "Seriously, the party was a great psychological boost for him and he returned to work on a limited duty basis today. If everything goes well, Dex will be able to be back for regular assignments in a month."

"Hurrah for the good guys...I couldn't be happier. By the way, I watched some interesting dynamics going on with Timmons and Brad. Seems that Chip's brother may have a good friend - at the very least - with Geoff."

"Dex and I noticed that they were close to each other all evening. I'm sure that Brad will find a way to spend some quality time with the Brit once he has set a routine with his classes and study at Oxford. It's only about an hour by train to London."

"Even if it's one of those summer romances, Timmons seems to be a good guy beneath the upper crust fašade and Tory politics."

"He and Dex bonded completely after the kidnapping. Although Dex pooh-poohs it, Geoff is absolutely convinced that my buddy saved his life. We may take up an invitation to visit Geoff in London next year."

"Sounds like he'd make sure you had a great time."

"If Dex and I can coordinate vacation days...we'll see. Ah, you said you wanted to meet with me?"

"Yes, back to business. I'll have the rest of August put together cuz you're going to be watching over the press action in this office at the end of the month."

"You're traveling?"

"I'm definitely going out to Chicago for the last week of August for some R and R. Mac will be joining me so I won't get too lonely." Phil slowly turned on a Cheshire cat grin and literally licked his chops. "But it'll be kind of a working vacation cuz Mandy will be out there, too."

"You're not going to stay at that flop house they call a hotel up by Boystown, are you?"

"First, the Suites hotel has been remodeled. And two; I'm going to be the houseguest of an old friend and his partner. They live in a neat high-rise at LSD and Diversey." Although Phil was not a native Chicagoan, he knew better than to reference Lake Shore Drive by its full name.

"From memories of my old Chicago days, sounds like 2800. That's a classic Mies-style building...right?"

"The very same. Bill Saunders and Jerry Franklin are the guys. I've known Bill since our U of M days and Jerry's family has been active in local politics forever. Plus, his uncle has an auto dealership so I'm going to get a loaner car at a very special rate."

"Franklin Chevrolet? That's a great contact. And isn't Jerry the dude that has that hot management consulting company and created such a stir in the news last year?"

"The very same. No one can ever accuse you of being a dull knife in the drawer."

"Duh, you don't have to be a genius to know you'll be taken care of. Sounds like you're in good hands."

"Yeah, I think that Mac will enjoy knowing these guys. You'll be okay running the office and I'm only a cell phone call away from any emergency. I can get access to any of the Chicago network stations and CNN if Mandy needs to comment on breaking news. Plus, she and I will get together at the office mid-week before her Labor Day speech."

"I'm fine with that. Dex and I are going to keep a low profile until he heals completely. You guys have a good time in 'my kinda town'."

"I plan on it."


The next two weeks passed by without any major incidents or distractions. Mandy was pleased that the two Illinois senators would be joining her at the Chicago Labor Day rally. The Mayor, while still very popular, was starting to lose his image as the 'Teflon mayor' due to some of his appointed cronies' playing games with phantom employees on the city payroll and questionable contracts with the city. However, even with controversy in the air, the current thinking in the Mandy Burns office was that you didn't want to piss off the big guy in city hall.

Phil flew out with Mandy on a late Friday afternoon flight. She planned on spending the next week before Labor Day in her Michigan Avenue congressional office during the morning and lunching with friends in the 'must be seen' restaurants. He was very grateful that Mandy had arranged for a car and driver at O'Hare to drive them into the city. They were able to discuss a few final items of business before the limo dropped him off at 2800 Lake Shore Drive and she continued to her Lincoln Park home.

It was just after 5:00 p.m. when Phil asked the security doorman to buzz the Saunders/Franklin condo. He was relieved to find that Bill had come home early. The doorman directed Phil to the proper bank of elevators and he was immediately whisked up to the 35th floor.

"Hey, buddy, get your ancient ass in here," Bill called out from the condo doorway as Phil stepped out of the elevator.

"What's it been...six months? Seems I'm always doing fly-ins to Chicago with Mandy." Phil walked into the condo, dropped his two suitcases and gave Bill a big hug.

"Too long. Let me take one of the suitcases and we can drop them off in the bedroom." Bill grabbed the largest suitcase and walked down a small hallway. "Gee, is it possible that we've been friends for 15 years?

"Actually, closer to 18. And we've both found partners that seem to have some shelf life. I really look forward to seeing Jerry, again." Phil was always impressed at the way Bill made him feel at home. The guestroom was large and very comfortable. Phil sat down his suitcase and took off his coat and tie. "Ah, this is better."

"And we want to meet Mr. Right - MacDonald Price." Bill took the jacket and hung it up in the closet. "You mentioned he's on the White House staff?"

"Yeah, Mac is really special and is Mr. Right in more ways than one. He's a dyed in the wool Republican. Or, maybe I should say dyed in the cowhide..."

"Cowhide? Oh, because he's from Texas?" Bill asked with a questioning expression.

"He grew up on a ranch and, well, I'll let you two Republicans get to know each other when he gets up here, Sunday. He would appreciate it if you didn't mention anything other than him being a White House lawyer. He gets a little self-conscious about the West Wing thing."

"Cows, law degree, gay Republican and super-modest. Doesn't sound like a shark to me and I look forward to talking with him. In the meantime, tell me all about your job and the boss lady. She's really making a name for herself. And, if you swear to secrecy, I'll admit that I plan on voting for her in November."

"I am impressed. What gives?"

"First, she's a sharp politician...but that's no news to you. However, I'm really getting pissed at the GOP do-gooders and ass kissing of every evangelical that comes along. And they're so busy lining their pockets with someone else's silver that they can't get business done...except their own. Not that your side is much better. It's just a matter of the lesser of two evils...Mandy excepted."

"Understand completely. She's definitely one of the good guys. Your attitude is something we're picking up in polling throughout the country. This election may very well be a house cleaning with a broad broom."

"Interesting times, my friend." Bill walked over to the wet bar and asked, "What's your poison?"

"Would it be too nelly to suggest a cosmo?" Phil said with a laugh. "I mean I could butch it up with a bottle of beer..."

"A cosmo for the lady it is," Bill said with a snicker. "In fact, I'll have one with you. Ketel One Mandarin is how we make 'em here."

"Make what, babe?" came a voice from the door.

"I'm making cosmos for Phil and myself. You want to join us?"

"Absolut...or I should say Ketel One?" Jerry Franklin, looking a little uncomfortable in his pin-stripe ensemble, walked over and grabbed Phil. "Buddy, great to see you again and I look forward to meeting this guy, Mac." He gave Phil a big kiss and continued, "And we both married well, as my Jewish mother would say."

"Jerry, the last I heard your mother is not Jewish...although she makes great latkes," Bill said as he measured out the triple sec into the cocktail shaker.

"But can spread on a guilt trip when necessary. While my personal bartender is making drinks, I'm going to change into something more comfortable."

"Throw on some shorts and a tee. I figured that Phil would want to wind down tonight so I picked up some great steaks and a couple bottles of a neat Barolo. The potatoes are in the oven."

"Shorts, it is. See ya in a few." Jerry waved and walked away to the master bedroom suite.

Bill made the drinks and suggested that they move into the more casual seating in the massive kitchen/entertainment room. "So what do you make of this whole Iraq mess?" He took a sip of the cocktail, smiled with satisfaction and looked at Phil.

"Other than killing our guys and draining the treasury? A pretty lame, na´ve idea that the neocons conjured up and the President bought into. Wrapped up with 9/11 and the infamous MSD's, the theories sounded good, but..."

"It's not working. The President is in deep doo-doo on this one. At least he's stopped saying 'stay the course' all the time. Dubya should have listened to his daddy's advisors."

"The problem is that we're in the quagmire and, with all due respect to several on our side of the aisle, very few have any ideas. That's what Mandy's trying to promote...ideas. But all she gets from the party leaders in Congress are rhetorical drive-by snipes at the administration's policies." Phil paused and drank a fast swallow of the cold cosmo. "The political problem is that most in our party don't have the balls to go out on the limb for fear of being painted as someone who's not supporting the troops."

"A real standoff. There has to be a way out of this."

"Mandy's really interested in the Biden proposal of dividing Iraq into three states: the Kurds in the north, the Sunnis and the Shiites. In fact, she'll roll out a few ideas in this vein next weekend at..."

"Well I'm ready for that drink," Jerry said, looking much more relaxed in cargo shorts, polo shirt and Topsiders.

"And I think we've talked enough politics for a while." Bill handed Jerry the cocktail and continued, "Wait 'til your Republican partner arrives on Sunday. Then we can have a little more balanced discussion."

"Fair and balanced? I'll drink to that." Phil raised his glass and toasted his hosts. "Thanks, guys." The tongue-in-cheek reference to Fox News was not lost on anyone.


As Phil drove to O'Hare in the light, early-morning Sunday traffic, he thought about Mac calling every night the past week at 10 p.m. Washington time. Gradually, Phil pieced together from their lengthy conversations that the 'ranch' was home to 12,000 head of cattle on 20,000 acres of land that also contained several working oil wells. He joked on one of their long distance calls that it sounded like something right out of the old epic movie, "Giant."

~~~ "Hey, don't believe everything you see on the screen," Mac replied very seriously.

"Meaning...?" Phil was aware he had hit a nerve without realizing it.

~~~ "That the story is, umm...a blown up, twisted version of my two great granddads' lives."

"Er, I...ah, if this is something you don't want to talk about, I'll take a pass." Phil was becoming more concerned that he had opened a door that contained dark secrets or a sinister past.

~~~ "No, it's okay. Nothing to hide...especially from you. It's just that I've just never felt comfortable telling this part of my ancestors' past to anyone. The movie kinda focused unwanted attention on us in Texas when I was younger and dad always drilled into us the importance of not flaunting our, um, background, ah, you know...position, money...stuff like that."

"You have my attention...and that old movie is one of my favorites. In fact, I had a crush on James Dean when I was a boy."

~~~ "Not Rock Hudson?"

"Naw...not even close." Phil was relieved to hear that Mac seemed to lighten up.

~~~ "Like the movie, one man was a cattleman - the other, a wildcatter. But, in real life, they actually became friends and raised families on adjoining ranches. My granddad and grandma were the only children of the two families...and that's where my dad comes in."

"He was their only son? You've never mentioned aunts or uncles."

~~~ "Correct. I guess the Price family isn't into big families. Thank god I've got a very healthy heterosexual brother who, the last time I checked, has all the functioning equipment to produce the next generation," Mac said with a laugh. "He's going to carry on with the ranch and the family. I don't think you and I are going to produce grandkids," Mac said in a much lighter attitude.

"But we'll be great uncles. Mac, I hope you didn't consider me prying. We never really talked much about your family...that's all."

~~~ "Nothing I was trying to avoid or be mysterious. The folks are terrific people, I'm just very low-key as far as the family is concerned. My dad was very involved in getting Dubya to run for governor and then, the presidency."

"I guess that explains your initial appointment in the Vice President's office?"

~~~ "Yes, but I had to earn the respect and promotion. Hey, enough about about you coming down here at Christmas to meet them?  They know I've found someone that I want in my life. Although my dad will crap his pants when he finds out that you're a big deal on the other side, you two will get along great. And mom is the greatest."

"I don't know about 'big deal' but I'd love to get to know them. Sounds like we've got some further planning to do. Maybe we could visit Texas for Christmas and travel to Phoenix for a few days before New Year's to see my folks. They're just as curious about who this Mac Price is."

~~~ "I can do Arizona in December and meet the people responsible for bringing you into the world. And if we're out that way, why not spend New Year's Eve in L.A.? I've got an old college buddy who'd love to host us if we can get out there."

"Sounds like we've got our holidays taken care of." They had already planned on working at a homeless shelter for Thanksgiving before having an early evening dinner with Dex and Kyle. Phil felt very satisfied that Mac and he might be creating a cohesive family unit.

Phil parked his Chevy Impala and walked briskly to the terminal. He looked at the LED arrivals display, reviewed the listings and proceeded to American's G concourse after using his congressional ID to allow access beyond the security checkpoints. 'Hmm, I'm glad Mac's flight is on time.' The display had indicated that the flight from San Antonio would arrive at 9:15 a.m. 'I've got 10 minutes to spare,' he thought, as he spotted a Starbucks sign. 'Time for a final caffeine fix.' Phil was able to order a 'Tall' breakfast blend and get to the G 10 gate in time to watch the shiny, stainless steel fuselage of the AA 757 ease into its gate space. The Jetway slowly telescoped forward and docked at the cabin door. Phil smiled to himself: the mechanical connection of the Jetway and the fuselage reminded him of copulation. 'Man,' he thought, 'I must be horny.'

Watching the waiting people and the deplaning passengers was further proof that he was away from the protected, insulated enclave of D.C. The people - mostly regular folks - were dressed in summer casualness as opposed to the stuffy, dark pinstripes that was the uniform 12 months of the year at Reagan National Airport. There was an innocence and cheerfulness as opposed to the self-proclaimed seriousness. There was unspoken optimism as opposed to impending doom and gloom.  

"Hey, Phil."

The familiar voice snapped Phil out of his momentary daydream. He smiled when he focused on this cowboy dude - albeit Ralph Lauren style - walking towards him. Mac had shed his D.C. look in favor of a Black polo shirt, well-worn 501s, boots and a hand-tooled belt with silver buckle. The ensemble set off his tanned complexion, slightly mussed blond hair and radiant smile. 'Wow, my buddy is hot,' Phil judged as he resisted running up and planting a wet one on Mac's perpetually pouting lips.

"Hey, yourself.  Welcome to Chicago," Phil said as they moved over to a corner of the concourse. "Let me help you with your carry-on."

"I'm ready for some fun in this big city. One week on the ranch was enough." Mac set down his small suitcase and took Phil's outreached hand. "And some fun with my bud." He was still holding a suit bag. "I've only brought a blazer with me. Tell me we don't have to do anything with ties?"

"Promise...unless you want me to get kinky and tie you up tonight," Phil said in a low, gravelly voice.

"Oh, something new?" Mac replied with a smile and raised eyebrows. "I think I'll keep it pretty vanilla, monsieur Marquis de Sade."

"Then vanilla, it is. Jerry and Bill have planned a little party for us tonight and I've got some tickets to a Cubs game on Friday. This is definitely going to be a casual holiday." He picked up the suitcase and asked, "Do you have any baggage checked in?"

"No, we're good. Although I'll have to buy some hair stuff. That whole FAA ruling about not carrying on gel products got me spooked.  I suppose that I could have used my White House ID but figured that spending a couple of bucks for gel in Chicago would be the easiest thing to do."

"I guess we'd better stop someplace for some other products." Phil laughed when he observed Mac's double take. "Just joking. I cruised over to this store in Boystown yesterday and got fresh supplies." They walked through the concourse security exit and made their way to the down escalator.

"Phew, ya had me worried. I like my nooky very painless, thank you," Mac replied with a wink. "Where'd you park?"

"I splurged and used the short-term garage. If this was during the week with the crazy traffic, I would have suggested that we take the train. It's really faster and very efficient."

"Buddy, I'm ready for a fast drive to your friends' condo. You sure we won't be in the way at their place?"

"Naw, not at all. It's large; the guestroom is at the opposite side of the condo and their master bedroom. You can yell 'til the cows come home." They continued walking in the lower-level lobby to the tunnel leading to the garage.

"I've been living with the cows for the past week and this cowpoke is ready for some man-sized action."

"Then action it is. And I'm just the man to do it." Phil grinned and added, "I think the guys have a little brunch planned for us. But between that and the party tonight, I intend on hearing some mooing."

"Moo, you fucker. Now let's get outta here and meet your friends. Brunch sounds fun, but mooing sounds 'funner'."

"You smooth-talking lawyers have a way with words," Phil replied as they stopped at the garage elevator.

"But after brunch, I'm going to have my way with you."

"That, Mr. Price, I will hold you to."

"You can hold on all you want cuz it's going to be a wild ride. This cowpoke is ready for some pokin'."

"You're the poker and I'm the pokee?" The elevator doors parted and the two men entered in spartan, stainless steel-lined cab. Phil pushed the floor button as the door closed and they slowly ascended.

"For openers. But like everything, it's open to interpretation." Mac turned, pulled Phil into an embrace and kissed him while grinding his groin into Phil's expanding crotch.

"Ummm," Phil said as he pulled back. "Let's wait for that interpretation until after brunch."

"Yeah, probably wouldn't be good form to show up at your friends' place with wet stains on our pants."

"I'd have to tell them that you're a sex fiend and you made me do it." A buzzer signaled they'd arrived at their floor and the door opened.
"Okay, you win. I'll make you do it in the privacy of our room." Mac lightly swatted Phil on his butt as they walked into the quiet garage towards the car.

"Buddy, you can make me do anything you want. Let's get outta here."


The party was more of a small gathering of guys that Jerry worked with, their other halves and a few mutual friends. However, it was obvious that Jerry Franklin took the lead in the social part of the Saunders/Franklin partnership. Phil was especially pleased at the instant friendship the guys showered on Mac. That Bill Saunders and he were lawyers and moderate Republicans was a bonding moment that would probably be the basis for a long-term friendship.

"This group is a real mixed bag of politics," Trev said in a soft, Southern drawl. Trevor Winston told Phil that he had joined Franklin Associates after he received his MBA from the University of Chicago six years ago.

"You came with that doctor, um, Russ?" Phil couldn't help but admire the shorter, compact man who arrived with Trev. He noticed that Russ was talking to Mac.

"Russ Bennett. He and I have been together - through thick and thicker - for the past nine years. I had just moved up North and we were invited, separately, to join a group of friends for a week of fun up on a lake in Minnesota.  Dave, the guy who owned the cabin, was Russ's childhood friend and Dave's lover was a friend of my close Memphis friends. We met and the rest was, well..."

"History? Sounds like it's the old six degrees of separation." Phil hoped that he and Mac would still have that lasting spark of love after nine years.

"It gets weirder. Russ was in medical school with Jerry's younger brother and they were residents at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. When I was finishing my MBA, Russ set up a meeting with Jerry. So, the rest really is history...and the future."

"Mac and I are just starting out on this boyfriend and partner thing. We're going to meet each other's families during Christmas and then go out to L.A. for the New Year's to visit a friend of his."

"An L.A. visit," Russ said as he joined the group with Mac. "I'm envious. While we're freezing our buns off in December, you'll be enjoying the beach." Russ grabbed Trev's hand and squeezed it. "I've really enjoyed talking with Mac. Sounds like you guys are another mixed family."

Mixed? As in..."

"Trev's a card-carrying Log Cabin Republican and I'm active in the Stonewall Democrats. I'll occasionally drag him to some event but we pretty much check politics at the door when we're home."

"What Russ leaves out is that the Stonewall Democrats are a cuter crowd. Great eye candy." Trev playfully punched Russ lightly on the shoulder. "My Log Cabin group are nice guys but generally tend to be a bunch of old farts."

"On behalf of Mandy Burns, I'd like you to pass on her regards to the Stonewall troops. They've always been great supporters."

"I will and maybe we can get her to one of our Stonewall meetings next year?" Russ asked.

"She'd love it and it'll give me a chance to get back to Chicago. Just not winter time, please," Phil replied.

"No winters are noted. You know, maybe Trev and I could escape out to L.A. for part of the holidays and we could get together. My friend, Dave, is always a widow on New Year's Eve because his partner is in the restaurant business and always working that night."

"Y'all don't have to convince me to get out of Chicago in December," Trev said. "This sounds like a serious we've got some other great friends that you two would love to meet."

"Looks like we've got some reservations to take care of when we get back." Mac put his arm around Phil and continued, "My college buddy is a lawyer in L.A. and has a convenient condo in the middle of West Hollywood. I guess I don't have to add my friend is also a friend of Dorothy."

"Lawyers? West Hollywood?" What am I missing?" Jerry asked as he walked up to the group.

"Mac and Phil are planning on being in L.A. around New Year's Eve and I was thinking that it'd be a good time for a little escape with Russ for a little West Coast partying...that is, if you could give me some time off."

"Trev, you got it. Things will be a little slow over the holidays and it'd be a good time to get out of town."

"Why don't we get together for lunch or dinner sometime this week and do some planning?" Russ asked. "I'll call Dave in L.A. and see if his guestroom will be available."

"We're not doing anything on Wednesday. How about some great, greasy deep-dish pizza at Gino's East on Superior? I'd love Mac to experience the place."

"Great. My hospital schedule is pretty much days so we could meet you two anytime after 7:00 p.m. We live in a condo not too far from there so maybe we could meet for drinks at our place and go from there?"

"Mac, you up for that?" Phil turned to his partner and winked.

"Jeez, I've only been in town for eight hours and I already feel like a Chicagoan. It sounds great and I really look forward to knowing you two better."

"The same for us." Trev offered his hand and Mac shook it.



Footnote: Some readers may be familiar with the two Chicago hosts - Jerry Franklin and Bill Saunders. They are central characters in another story, "Other Avenues." Dr. Russ Bennett and Trevor Winston are characters from the "Splash" series.