This is a work of fiction and in no way draws on the lives of any specific person or persons. If there is any similarity to any real persons or events it is entirely coincidental. It is however, loosely based on an experience of the author.
The work is copy righted (c) by the author and may not be reproduced in any form without the specific written permission of the author. It is assigned to the Nifty Archives under the terms of their submission agreement but it may not be copied or archived on any other site without the written permission of the author.
The sound of the distant foghorn on Alcatraz Island broke the silence of the San Francisco waterfront. Fog shrouded the downtown streets oozing nearly up to the Civic Center. The late evening vehicle traffic had slowed, and the pedestrians seemed to vanish into the night. A lone figure struggled with a heavy package along the shadows of the alley behind the buildings that fronted Market Street. He paused occasionally, huddling in a doorway as if to rest, before proceeding.
Only when he stopped momentarily in a doorway that had a dim light, could one have seen his face, his garb, and the burden he carried. His face was pale and nondescript, his light gray sweatshirt and pants seemed somewhat too small for his frame, revealing his muscular body. The bundle he carried was wrapped in large dark plastic trash bags, one pulled over each end of the contents. It would have been obvious to anyone seeing him that he was carrying an immobile human body. At last satisfied that he had found a place to dispose of his burden, he carefully lowered his load to the ground. With a swift motion he pulled one end of the outer bag from about the body. With some effort to be gentle with the body, he removed the second bag; carefully lower the head to the cement. He arranged the now naked body of a young man into a sleeping position, covering it with a large towel that had fallen out when the top half of the body slipped from the bag.
Looking both directions, he grabbed the two bags and hurried back to his starting place. Pulling open the heavy door from which he had emerged, he slipped back inside and tugged the door to ensure that it closed securely behind him. The alley again became empty, save the body lying in the darkness, and silent except for the occasional squishing sound of tires on the wet street in the distance.
A short time later the same figure emerged from the Market Street entrance of the building into which he had entered from the back. He was dressed in the same dark sweats and turned left and proceeded to the corner where he crossed the street. Continuing to walk hurriedly away from the downtown area he took his leave of the area where he had disposed of the body.
Three blocks later he turned and watched for an available taxi. Not seeing one he continued his trek, turning his head occasionally to look again. Five minutes later, and two blocks further, he waved to an approaching taxi. It slowed and then stopped to pick him up. Ten minutes later the taxi stopped in front of the all night restaurant on the corner of Church and Market to let off its fare. The man watched as the cab pulled away, and then crossed the street and disappeared into the darkness of night.
"The Captain wants to see you, Billy," Donna said as Billy Preston walked into the office of Homicide Investigation Division at the Central Police Headquarters building on Bryant Street, South of Market, San Francisco.
"What's up?" Billy asked as he stood at his desk flipping through the message notes.
"Don't know," Donna answered as she looked up at his question. Billy had wondered about her, she wasn't a Donna. His image for a woman with that name was a matronly common looking person. Donna was a strikingly beautiful woman in her late twenties, with golden hair and flashing green eyes.
"Anything new on the Simpson case?" he asked.
"Nada," she answered going back to her work.
Billy automatically reached and straightened his tie and headed for Captain Harrison's office across the hall. In his more than fifteen years on the force, he had worked most of it in the homicide division. Billy had a Bachelor of Sciences degree from the University of Minnesota in Criminology. He graduated in 1966 after four years in the Air Force. At the age of 42 he was still in good shape, only partly due to his job, mostly because he didn't drink too much, and watched what he ate. He had a younger brother who looked five or ten years older than he did. Billy still had a full head of hair, which he wore military style, with only a few gray hairs. A perpetual suntan complimented his chiseled facial features. His mustache was thin and neatly trimmed. His suit was light brown, single breasted -- altered to hide his shoulder holster -- was a wool blend and as usual was neatly pressed and clean. His crisp white shin was set off with a precisely tied silk tie of a darker brown with a gold design.
The Captain was sitting at his desk talking on the phone when Billy walked up to the glass-windowed door. He knocked lightly and when the Captain motioned for him, he quietly opened it and walked in, closing it behind him. Captain Robert Harrison was fifty-one years old and had been on the force for over twenty years. Only five foot nine inches tall and weighing one hundred ninety-one pounds, he looked heavy. His face was full, he had the usual double chins and he was clean-shaven. His thin dark hair was cut short and was graying around the edges.
He motioned for Billy to sit down and pointed to a folder on the corner of his desk. Billy picked it up and opened it. The report was short and the details sketchy: An unidentified male -age about seventeen, the report said - was found dead in an alley off Mission Street July 10th, 1982 "that's today, must have been early this morning", he thought - no wounds, maybe a needle mark on his left leg, light bruise marks on wrists and ankles. No clothes. Long blonde hair, blue eyes. 5 feet 10 inches, 149 pounds - dead weight. Cause of death undetermined; loss of blood, as probable cause.
Harrison hung up the phone. "Just came in this morning. You're about done with the Simpson case, right?"
"Yes Sir," Billy answered, "I'd say we'll be finished this week. Nothing much going on. Donna said that nothing new today, yet."
"You finish reading the report?"
"Yes. Strange," Billy said, "Loss of, blood? What's that supposed to mean?"
"Maybe a vampire?" Harrison laughed, and ended up coughing. "Anyway," he continued, "You and Donna can follow up on it. The usual things, finger prints, missing persons, you know."
"All right Sir," he said getting up.
"You going to the game tonight?"
"No. I've a dinner engagement. Couldn't get out of it." The game that the Captain referred to was the baseball game the department was sponsoring at Candle Stick Park. Billy didn't particularly like baseball and specifically he didn't like department-sponsored events. After fifteen years on the force, the Captain was still trying to get him involved with such things; said it was good for morale.
Well, maybe next time," Harrison knew Billy's penchant against department social events, so he never pushed it, but he always asked.
Billy took the folder and left Harrison's office and walked leisurely back to his desk. Putting the folder down he picked up his coffee cup and walked down the hall to the bathroom, his leather heals clicked on the granite floor. He rinsed his cup and used a paper towel to dry it carefully on the outside, and less so inside.
Absently he went to the urinal where he stood for several minutes before realized that he hadn't come there for that. He glanced at his reflection in the mirror before leaving.
Back at his desk he sat down and took a sip of the coffee. It was terrible as usual, he didn't know why he bothered, well, that wasn't quite true, he needed the caffeine. He looked at the clock on the wall across the room and opened the folder again. It was only seven fifteen; the doctors at the morgue should be finished with John Doe soon.
When he finished re-reading it he handed it to Donna.
"Have a look at this and tell me what you think," he said. His mind still caught on the probable cause of death: loss of blood. Without a massive wound it didn't make any sense!
His phone rang. "Homicide, Preston," he answered.
"Hi! It's me," the voice on the other end was that of Jimmy. Billy and Jimmy, James Robert Keller, had been roommates and lovers for almost ten years now. When they were dating all of their friends said that they were a most unlikely couple. Billy was dark, handsome, so masculine looking he could have been a model for Marlboro. Jimmy, on the other hand, was fair, almost blonde, plain, and silly. Perhaps that was his attraction for Billy. Billy was serious and rarely exhibited more than grin. But Jimmy's antics could break him up.
"What's up, Jimmy?" Billy asked.
"Cal just called to remind us about dinner for tonight," Jimmy said, "It's at seven and we're supposed to pick up Jason and Robby. I told him we would."
"Okay, that's fine," Billy answered. Saturday night dinner with Cal and company was beginning to be a ritual.
"Okay," Jimmy said, "Just wanted to remind you. Talk to you later, Love."
"Later," Billy hung up the phone. He smiled as he remembered that last week it had been Jason and Walton -- Jason was one of few in his circle of friends who didn't have a lover. He didn't seem to mind not having one, but he needed one.
Billy took out his notebook and began making entries regarding the new case, which was officially John Doe -- 820710-01.
"You can put the file on my desk when you're finished," he said to Donna as he stood up, "I'm going to have a look."
"Okay," she answered. Donna had been on the force for five years now, all in homicide, and she still wouldn't go to the morgue unless she absolutely had to. She and Billy had worked together all of that time, and Billy never pushed it. He understood how someone could feel that way. Donna and Ralph, her husband of seven years had talked about it, and he thought she was strange about it. "If you don't like that sort of thing," he argued, "get out of homicide!" Ralph didn't particularly like the idea of his wife working for the police department anyway, but the pay was good, and they did need the money.
Billy walked the short distance to the morgue, taking his notebook with him. He didn't like the feeling of the place; it was so cold and dingy feeling. Everything echoed. Actually as morgues go, it was quite modern. All stainless steel and chrome, ceramic tile floors and walls.
The attendant pulled open the door that had the case number on it, and rolled out the tray on which the covered body rested. The attendant went back to his desk to his reading.
Billy made an entry in his book: "7/10/82-0847-morgue-". Then he pulled back the heavy white sheet. The skin was ghostly pale even though he boy had had a nice suntan -- the tan line was still visible. Very little body hair, although it was hard to tell since his hair color was blonde, that true blonde color, with very little red in it. The face was peaceful now; the boy had been handsome with just a hint of over-bite. The long incision from chest to navel had been made by the autopsy doctor, and neatly closed after the examination. There were no other scars or marks on the body, which Billy could see. There were arrows drawn with a blue pencil on both wrists and ankles, a blue circle was on the left leg half way between the knee and hip. Inside the circle was a faint blackish dot of some sort. In the area of boy's genitals was another blue arrow. Billy leaned down to look closer. The organs looked normal to him: long thin penis, foreskin, and good-sized testicles loosely lying in shriveled scrotum. The slightly darker hair was neatly trimmed, it appeared.
Billy covered the body again and wrote again in his book:" 1-left leg, 2-groin. 3-wrists, 4-ankles." He pushed the tray back in place and closed the heavy door.
"Thanks," he waved to the attendant and walked down the hall to the office. There he picked up a copy of the autopsy report and walked back to his own office.
Saturday was like any other day; the watch was only slightly smaller on Saturday and Sunday, but otherwise, business as usual. He spent the next half hour reading over the report, making more notes in his notebook: "1-needle mark, 2-possible leather cord, 3-possible leather cord, 4-possible leather cord. Cause of death: massive loss of blood with only wound a small puncture on leg between knee and hip. No other injuries or bruises, except for marks left by restraints on wrists and ankles. Probably leather straps, no sign of a struggle. Low level traces of an assortment of drugs: marijuana, amphetamines, barbiturates, etc. Finger prints taken and sent to LEA/US&CA&CAN which stood for Law Enforcement Agencies, FBI, California, and Canada. Those reports would not be back for at least a week, unless there was a match. Billy began filling out the other myriad of paperwork required when a new case was begun.
Jamison raised himself up on one elbow to peer at the clock when he heard the alarm ring. It was six o'clock.
"God!" he said out loud, "Whatever possessed me to stay out so late last night?" Even though it was a Saturday, he had to go to work today. He climbed out of bed and stumbled to the bathroom where he ran cold water in the sink, splashing it in his face. He turned off the water and rose up to his full height of six feet six. His bronze colored hair was messed and tangled. It was naturally wavy and tended to get that way when it wasn't cut short.
Trying desperately to wake up he turned and stepped on the bathroom scale, one hundred ninety-five pounds. Not too bad, he thought. He was nearly thirty-five and for his size and age he was in pretty good shape.
He turned back and stepped to the stool. The yellow stream splashed in the water below. He shook himself a couple of times and went to the tub and turned on the shower. When he'd adjusted the temperature, he stepped into the tub and closed the curtain.
In a few minutes he stepped out again and dried off with a large towel he took from the stack on the shelf near by. He then shaved, splashed on cologne and sprayed on some deodorant. Then he walked back to his bedroom to dress.
Promptly at seven-thirty Jamison walked into his office at the Pacific Northwestern Bank and took off his coat before going to the coffee pot which Joanne had already filled with hot, dark rich coffee. Just the thing he needed, he thought as he stirred in his usual sugar and cream. He took a sip even before he went back and sat down at his desk.
Turner Washington pressed the buzzer that let him into computer room after he keyed in the entry-code. Saturdays were not too busy in the small office on the fifth floor of the Hamilton Building on Mission Street. But there were always things that needed to be finished up before Monday. The boss wasn't in yet, thankfully. He turned on the small computer, the size of an apartment-freezer, with rows of flashing and blinking orange-colored lights and began looking over what needed to be finished while the computer went through its checkout procedures before allowing any users onto it. The office did mailings for customers; which meant that a substantial data bank of names and address were contained on the various disk packs that lined the shelves next to the computer, one or more for each customer.
It was a fluke that Turner got the job. He had interviewed with Darryl Brackens, the boss, and owner of the company over the phone. Turner had plenty of references, and experience, and he needed a part-time job. He sent in his resume and Brackens had called him. Over the phone Darryl sound quite enthusiastic about having him come in. He also was in a bind -- he needed someone right away.
When Turner walked into Darryl's office he could see the expression on his face change. It was all too apparent that Darryl didn't like Blacks. Turner smiled a large toothy smile and introduced himself.
Darryl shook hands with him and asked him if he minded taking a data-entry test.
Turner sat down at the keyboard and proceeded to exceed anything that Darryl required in the way of speed and accuracy. He had no reason, considering his qualifications and references, for not hiring him. Darryl couldn't risk a suit with the NAACP over this, so he put Turner to work. Turner knew that he'd have to watch his step, or as soon as there was a break in the business, he'd be out the door. The job hadn't been listed as a temporary position, but it could very easily become one.
Turner made a point of being on time, if not early. He worked all the odd hours that Darryl required, and did a lot of work that he wouldn't have done for anyone else, had the situation been different. Darryl couldn't find a single reason to fire him, so after four months, he seemed to resign himself to having him around for as long as Turner cared to stay.
Darryl Brackens climbed up the dusty steps of the number 8 bus and rode down Market Street from Castro Street that was only two blocks from where he lived. His mood was sullen this morning. The Service had gone badly last night, and to make matters worse he had interviews with two prospective members today. He hoped that Turner would be finished with whatever it was he had to do before they arrived. He didn't like doing interviews with him around.
He climbed down from the bus when it reached the comer of Fifth and Mission, walked to the entrance of the building, and took the elevator to the fifth floor. He used his key, let himself into his office and took off his jacket. He could smell the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, and he headed for the urn that stood outside his office. He could see Turner sitting at the keyboard busily making entries into the computer. A tall stack of papers next to him indicated that he had much to do. But with his speed it was hard for Darryl to judge how it long it would take him to finish.
John Spencer, a data analyst for Medford Life Insurance Services, lay quietly relaxing. Saturdays and Sundays were his days off. He often slept late, which for him meant eight or nine o'clock, when he had the chance. He'd awakened at his usual time, six o'clock, and then dozed for an hour longer before he realized that he wasn't going back to sleep. He lay there for a long time and then finally got up and made his trip to the bathroom.
He fixed himself some coffee and picked up the brochure that he'd gotten in the mail earlier in the week. He had called a number given in the BAR, Bay Area Reporter, a Gay newspaper, and was sent this pamphlet regarding the advertisement. It described an organization whose members were involved in research in Egyptian Spiritual Meditation, He wasn't sure that this is what he was looking for, but since his lover had left him, he was at loose ends, and needed something to focus on while he got over the loss.
He always had an interest in anything Egyptian, so he had called and made an appointment for an interview. He could always change his mind, he told himself, and if he didn't think he was going to like it after the interview. After all, if they were going to interview him, he could do the same.
He had plenty of time, since his interview wasn't until three o'clock in the afternoon. But he had laundry to do, grocery shopping, not too much, and some correspondence to catch up on.
Turner straightened up his desk putting away the folders that he had out during the day, and locked the desk before putting on his jacket to leave for the day. It was nearly two o'clock and he had finished everything that was needed for Monday. And he had gotten a head start on some of the work for next week. He stuck his head into Darryl's office.
"See you on Monday."
"Have a good weekend, Turner," Darryl answered without looking up.
He took the bus back to The Castro and stopped in at his favorite bar, The Clock. It was crowded and he inched his way to the bar and ordered a beer.
John parked his car in the ramp back of The Emporium Center and walked the short distance to Fifth and Mission. He took the elevator to the fifth floor and pushed the buzzer outside the door marked Private.
Darryl heard the buzzer and looked at the clock on his desk, it read two-fifty-six. "God!" he said out load, "I hate it when they're so punctual!" But he got up and went to the door which led to the hallway outside,
He opened it and smiled at the tall blonde man who stood waiting expectantly. John smiled back.
"Hello, my name is John Spencer, I have an appointment at three with Darryl Brackens."
"I'm Darryl, won't you come in," he answered. Well, Darryl thought, he's some improvement over that earlier applicant. At least he's good looking, and by the looks of the bulge in his trousers, meets some of the requirements'.
Darryl began by explaining the goals and objectives of the organization, which was officially called The Cultural Organization For The Preservation Of Ancient Egyptian Theology, COPAET for short. Organized, for tax purposes as a religion, COPAET was an organization dealing with the spiritual uplifting and awakening of kindred spirit relationships within the sphere of Egyptology.
Sounds like double-talk, John thought. But he'd listen to some more. Darryl went on to explain about the services they held, without going into details, as they were secret, an only members could attend. Guests were never permitted. Instruction was required before becoming a member, an initiation was held and then you could be a member in good standing. Fees were minimal, but regular attendance was required, weekly at least.
When Darryl was finished, he handed John a questionnaire that he would have to fill out. Darryl handed him a clipboard and pen and told him he could do it now. John took the items and began on the first page with the usual personal data: name, address, phone number, place of work, type of business, etc. Then he turned to the second page. Oh, he said almost out loud as he read the first question: At what age did you experience your sexual awakening?
Billy locked up his desk and walked out into the cool afternoon sun. It was just passed four o'clock and he had to stop at the store before going home to get ready for dinner. Jimmy would be furious if he forgot to bring home the wine that they always took to Cal's.
Jamison locked up the office and stood looking but the window a moment before he opened the door. It was quite warm out and he immediately took off his sport coat and slung it over his shoulder as he headed for his car. It was a fifteen-minute drive from the bank to his apartment. That was the reason he lived in Walnut Creek instead of San Francisco, he could really walk, but he didn't on Saturdays because it was easy to find a place to park. He hurried home and got changed for his Saturday night visit to San Francisco and his favorite bar, The Clock.
When John completed the last page of the questionnaire he put it on Darryl's desk and leaned back to wait for him to return. He had said that he'd be right back, but that was at least thirty minutes ago.
Writing the answers to the some of the questions had been stimulating and he still had a partial erection that he made no attempt to conceal because in fact, he was really unaware that it showed.
"I see that you've finished," Darryl said when he returned. He'd changed from his slacks and dress shirt to a gray sweat suit wearing no shoes, just heavy white sweat socks. There was just a hint of agitation in his forced smile.
"That," John smiled, "was an interesting questionnaire."
"Well, we do have to learn a little bit about your background so that we can determine whether you'll fit in to our group. I do hope that you answered the questions honestly, because you membership depends upon it."
"I see," John answered.
"Do you have any questions?" Darryl asked tilting his head to one side.
"Yes, lots of questions, but I don't think you'd be likely to give me answers for them."
"Try me," Darryl smiled.
"First of all," John began, "This is a Gay organization?"
Darryl nodded, "But not a requirement," Darryl frowned a little, "But one must at least be open to the Gay life-style."
"What sorts of activities does the group engage in?"
"Like I mentioned before, I can't go into the details of the ritual with non-members. But they are sexual in nature of course, there are reading lists, study guides, and things of that nature."
"I see," John's curiosity was piqued. "And you meet every week?"
"Yes, right now, it's every Friday. We hope to expand our hours so that the Temple will be open every day. But right now the staffing is a problem."
"So your group is just getting started?" John asked.
"Well, we've been in operation for nearly a year."
"How many members do you have?"
"I'm afraid I can't tell you that."
"How soon would I know whether or not I'd be accepted?"
"Usually within a week. The Council will read over your answers and discuss them. A vote will be taken. If there is any question regarding any of your answers, a second interview may be required, but it's not usually the case."
"Well, I guess that about covers it then," John stood up.
"As long as you're here, would you like to see the Temple?" Darryl rose too.
"Yes," John answered.
"Follow me then. Oh yes, please remove your shoes. You can leave them here, if you like,"
John pushed off his loafers, and followed as Darryl led the way. There was a hallway from the office, through the computer room, and at the end of the hall was a wall with a mural. Until one got up close it wasn't apparent that there was a doorway.
Darryl put his hand lightly on the wall and the doorway opened with a click. Some sort of electro-sensing device, John thought. The light in the hallway dimmed just as the door opened. Inside the room the odor of incense permeated. There were Egyptian decorations, paintings and artwork on the walls. If John had taken the time to examine them closely, he would have seen that they were erotic. The floor was carpeted with appeared to be a soft beige mat of some sort. The feeling of mystery and anticipation was everywhere. Candles flickered giving an strange glow to the room.
Along one side were small cubicles with red curtains covering the entrances. Inside each a reading light and a small book stand along with a bench on which to sit. In one end of the room, furthest from the door they entered was a stand of some sort, somewhat like an altar. Whatever was on the stand was covered with a purple cloth.
"That," Darryl said, "Is the image of the God which we venerate."
"Which one is that?" John asked curiously.
"I am not at liberty to discuss that," Darryl said softly, "Not until yon have become member, at the first level."
"What happens once a member reaches that level, and discovers that he's not interested in worshiping your God?"
"You are perfectly free to leave at that point," Darryl answered.
"I see," John said, "So this is where your service is held?"
"Yes." Darryl stood watching John as he gazed about the room.
After a short while Darryl asked, "What do you think?"
John wasn't exactly sure what Darryl was asking, but he responded, "It's quite interesting. I think that I'd like to find out more about this."
"You will receive a letter in the mail during the coming week," Darryl said, "Perhaps you'll get a chance to learn more about us." Darryl turned and went back the way they come, and John followed. When they were back in Darryl's office, Darryl extended his hand.
"It was good of you to visit with me and to share some of your self. As I said, you will be hearing from us within the week. I look forward to meeting with you again."
"Thank you," John shook hands with him. Darryl's hand was warm, and his handshake firm and yet gentle at the same time.
Billy unlocked the door to the flat that he shared with Jimmy at Haight and Twenty- Third. The stereo was on and he could see Jimmy working in the kitchen.
"I'm home," he called over the music.
"Hi," Jimmy called back, "You get the wine?"
"Got it." Billy was surprised at how often this scene was repeated. It was if Jimmy expected him to forget his head if it wasn't attached. Sometimes it annoyed him, but not today. Although it was a regular event, he was looking forward to the evening out with the circle of friends they shared.
He walked to the kitchen and set the brown paper bag on the counter and leaned over and kissed Jimmy on the back of his neck. As he always did, Jimmy squealed.
"I know," Billy laughed, "That's why I do it. How was your day?"
"Pretty good. I was just finishing getting organized for tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" Billy teased.
"Yes, tomorrow." Jimmy looked at him with a look of exasperation.
"Oh yes. We're having brunch, right?"
"That's right." Jimmy said the word as if it were three syllables, ri-gh-t.
o"Who all's coming?" Billy asked, not that he didn't know, he just wanted to make conversation.
"Well," Jimmy thought, "Howie and Paul, ah, Wayne and Lionel, and Pat and Jay."
"You should have invited Henry and Lew," Billy teased.
"You know you can't have Wayne and Henry at the same time!" Jimmy said trying to sound irritated.
"Oh yeah, I forgot." Billy smiled. Wayne and Henry had been lovers for many years. But when Henry met Lew, he moved out one day, and left Wayne alone. They' haven't spoken a civil word since. Just plain silly, Billy thought, but then he'd never had that happen. Billy had been single until he'd moved to San Francisco, Jimmy had been his first real love, and they had known each other since practically the first day that he found The Castro. They dated sporadically for the first year, and more regularly for the next four years, spending more and more time together. Finally Billy got tired of always carrying an overnight bag everywhere he went, just in case they decided to spend the evening together. They looked for a place they could share and when they found this flat in the Haight, moved in together. That was ten years ago. Ten of the happiest years of his life, he guessed, although there were moments.
Turner turned to Jamison and looked up at him.
"You certainly are tall."
"Yeah, and I'm on my knees too!" Jamison laughed. This was the first time he'd managed to get to sit close to Turner; and he wanted to get to know him. He had spotted him several weeks before but never got the chance to talk to him before this. Jamison was shy, in spite of his height, perhaps because of it, and reluctant to start up a conversation with someone he didn't know. The last time he'd seen Turner he was with another Black man, and that was last night.
Turner giggled. He liked someone with a sense of humor. "So how is the air up there? Any better?"
"Not bad," Jamison smiled, "It's a little thin though."
"I tell you what," Turner said, "Let's trade stools." It was true, Turner had a short stool and Jamison a taller one. After they switched they at least looked as if there wasn't quite so much difference in their heights.
"My name's Turner Washington," Turner said.
"I'm Jamison Parker. It's nice to finally meet you." Jamison said.
"I've seen you in here before too. I mean, who could miss you? You keep putting dents on the doorway when yon come in," Turner said hoping Jamison wouldn't be offended.
"Yeah, it is hard on the doorway, isn't it?" Jamison liked the way Turner's eyes sparkled with he laughed. He had a cute dimple too, Jamison noticed.
"Seriously," Turner said, "You're very handsome, you know."
"Thank you," Jamison blushed, "I like your eyes, the way they dance when you laugh."
It was Turner's turn to blush. "Touché!" Turner looked at the Black bartender and said in a loud voice. "Girl! Bring us another round, before Paul Bunyan here gets upset!"
"Two beers coming up!" Butch called back. He and Turner had dated a couple of times, but Turner just wasn't his type, at least not in bed. Him, that might be another matter, he thought. But he doubted that Jamison even knew he existed. He popped two beers and set them on the counter in front of Turner.
"Two beers for the Lady!" he smiled.
John left Darryl's office and walked hurriedly back to the ramp where he parked his car. He planned to stay in the city tonight for a while, at least. He was going to The Castro and have dinner and drinks. Maybe he 'd get together with someone later on.
Darryl closed up his office and took the elevator down to the street. Still dressed in his sweat suit and sneakers, he looked like one of the many similarly dressed men of all ages. Even at forty-one he didn't look out of place. He was still in reasonable shape, and he kept his hair its natural color with the aid of a coloring solution.
He caught the Number Eight bus and settled back for the short ride to The Castro. Perhaps he'd have a bite to eat before he went to his apartment for the evening, he thought, as he relaxed.
His mind went over the two applicants he'd interviewed that afternoon. The first one, he'd already dismissed as being a kook, someone who didn't really have any interest in the spiritual. But, John Spencer, Darryl thought, he was something different. He had that certain idealism he was looking for. He hoped that John would accept membership when it was offered him. Just thinking about John and what lay ahead, turned him on. He adjusted his position in his seat to conceal his growing bulge.
Darryl finished his light dinner and left the small restaurant in The Castro, He headed on down Castro and up the hill toward his apartment, unaware that the man who had been on his mind all evening was just now approaching behind him toward the same restaurant to have his dinner.
John entered the No Reservations and was shown to a table facing the street. It was a typically Castro establishment. It was not a fancy place, but had often wobbly tables with straight back chairs, a mainly breakfast or burger menu, with a smattering of salads, serving both beer and wine. The employees were mainly Gay men or women, or had to be very convincing in their statement that they had no problem associating with Gays.
John decided on a Chiliburger and milk, and ordered coffee for while he waited. It was still early, only seven-thirty and very light outside. It also meant that the main crowd had yet to arrive. The small restaurant buzzed with conversation. He watched as the beginning of the Saturday evening parade up and down Castro. It seemed as if each one tried to outdo other in seeing how outrageous they could dress and still be accepted by their friends and prospective tricks. Of course, the mainstay in dress was faded, and preferably torn and or raggedy blue jeans, sneakers, and tee shirt or tank top, or both, one over the other in either order. If the colors clashed, so much the better. If they were coordinated, it indicated you were conservative or a tourist from the South on your first visit to San Francisco.
Service was fast and it wasn't long before John's order arrived. Although he didn't hurry, soon he was finished and walking back to the bar where he'd had a couple of beers earlier. As he approached the entrance to The Clock, he saw the Black and White couple he'd seen talking previously coming out of the door. They'd obviously worked out an arrangement as they were laughing and talking as they went on down the street. He found both men attractive, each in their own way, although he preferred his partner to be a little closer to his own height than these two were; the Black man was too short, and the White man too tall.
Inside he found that the crowd had not changed too much. He edged his way to the bar and ordered a beer. He smiled at the bartender who served his beer with a flourish. Now, he thought, that's better! Butch, that's a name for a bartender in this place! It didn't seem to suit him though, and that's probably why it was chosen. Almost no one who worked in The Castro used their real name, especially if they worked in a bar or restaurant.
John eased his way back to the wall where he could observe and had a place to set his beer.
Turner and Jamison climbed into Jamison's car and drove the short distance to Turner's apartment. It was just far enough away from The Castro that one didn't have too much trouble finding a parking space. In spite of his height, Jamison owned a small sporty car, which surprisingly had adequate leg and headroom, although getting in and out was a challenge.
Up in Turner's apartment Turner switched on the stereo and found a station which was lively, but not too loud, He was not a romantic in the sense that he liked easy listening music. Jamison sat on the sofa while Turner got their beer from the refrigerator.
When he returned and he set them on the table in front of the sofa, Jamison pulled him down on his lap.
Jimmy and Billy sat next to each other on the sofa; dinner was finished at Cal's, and coffee was being poured in the living room. The poached salmon had been a hit, especially the tart sauce that he refused to discuss which was poured over it.
Conversation centered on the latest gossip, whose lover was chasing around with whom. No one really cared, but it was a reasonably safe topic, as long as everyone remembered who was present and who wasn't.
Billy and Jimmy relaxed and enjoyed the bantering it was early and since Jimmy had finished everything that could be done in advance for brunch the next day so they could stay as long as they wanted.
John spotted a tall and rather handsome men just coming into the bar. His jeans fitted his lean frame well. He was well proportioned. His black skin glistened in the dim light of the bar, his hair catching and reflecting the light as he passed the downward pointing spotlight at the entrance.
John watched as the Black man looked around, as if searching for a particular familiar face. From the look on his own, he hadn't discovered it, John's eyes followed as the man proceeded around the bar toward where he was standing.
"Hello," John said smiling as the man came abreast of him.
"Hello," the man answered seemingly puzzled and continued on his way. John maintained his observation until he disappeared into the other room. A short time later he reappeared and came back to where John was standing.
"I'm sorry," he said, "I didn't mean to be rude awhile ago, but I was looking for a friend of mine who was supposed to meet me here,"
"That's quite all right," John said, "My name is John."
"I'm Jesse. It's nice to meet you, John." They shook hands. "Excuse me while I get something to drink, I'll be right back."
John watched as Jesse edged his way to the bar.
"You seem distracted tonight, " Jimmy said as he turned out the light and climbed into bed.
"It's nothing really," Billy lied. It was true he was preoccupied. The John Doe case had been puzzling him all evening. He didn't know why, it was simply a case of some kid who got in trouble with the wrong crowd, Billy didn't discuss his cases with Jimmy, not that he couldn't have, but because Jimmy's temperament was such that if he knew about something it would bother him. The danger that Billy was in because of his work, he could deal with, but the gruesome details of a murder caused him a good deal of emotional distress, and Billy preferred not to force that on him.
But this case was different; he was going to have to break his own rules on it. "There's been a murder of a young man under most unusual circumstances."
"Most are," Jimmy said softly.
"No, I mean not exactly the circumstances, but the method."
"Method?" Jimmy asked.
"Yeah," Billy explained, "He died of loss of blood, but the only wound was a needle mark on his thigh."
"He wasn't beaten up or anything. Maybe just tied up with leather or something while it happened."
"An S & M scene?" Jimmy asked.
"Possibly, "Billy answered, "But what possible S & M scene involves the removal of blood?"
"None that I've ever heard about," Jimmy shivered at the thought. Billy felt the shiver.
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have brought it up," he said.
"That's all right," Jimmy said, "If it's bothering you, then you should talk about it." It was part of their agreement, and that's why their relationship worked. They tried never to keep secrets or worry from each other. That way there was nothing that could come between them.
"Well, I appreciate that," Billy leaned over and kissed Jimmy tenderly. "I'll figure it out," he said.
"I know you will," Jimmy hugged him lightly, returning the affection he felt coming from Billy.
John and Jesse exchanged phone numbers and said their good-byes. Jesse had explained that he couldn't, as John had suggested, spend the night with him, because he had to go to work at midnight. It had been an unexpected call, and was the reason he was at the bar at all. He'd an early brunch planned with a friend, and hadn't been able to get him on the phone, so he had come here hoping that he was here. He wasn't so now he had to leave to get ready for work.
"We will get together, though," Jesse said, leaning in to give John a little kiss.
"I hope so," John returned the kiss smiling. He watched as Jesse left the bar. John finished his beer. When the bottle was empty and he was about to get another, he suddenly changed his mind. Even though he hadn't anyone to go home with tonight, he had made a reasonably good contact, and as he thought about it, that was enough for tonight. There wasn't any sense or feeling of urgency, not now. He left The Clock and drove home.
Darryl lay awake in bed, trying to recall what it was that went wrong at the service the previous night.
Everything started out well. With no new members present the full ritual was carried out with everyone doing their part and intoning their lines correctly.
The full service was not held (as he had told the two applicants, in the room off his office on the fifth floor) rather it was in the basement, in a catacomb-like space completely closed off from the other basement spaces. There were two rooms at the far end of the hallway, which officially were rented as storage for the business.
The room that one saw when they entered was the anteroom, where the instruments and vestments for the service were stored, and where street clothes were removed and vestments put on.
At the far end of this room was a vault with a doorway which when there was no service in progress was closed and bolted with a heavy steel bar and lock. No one would accidentally get inside. It would require a torch or explosive to get in.
When the door was open, there was a curtain of dark red velvet hanging three feet just inside from ceiling to the floor. The entire floor was covered with a sandy-gray colored mat. The walls were painted white enamel and ceiling and overhead pipes a dull black. At the end of the room opposite the door another curtain hung against the back wall, again three feet from the wall. On the walls on either side of the room hung massive candleholders, seven on each side, In front of the curtain at either end of the room were altars. The altar at the entrance was more like a pedestal on which rested a symbol of the god being worshiped. At the far end the main altar of a sandy-gray concrete three feet off the floor and three feet long and one foot in width. Between the main altar and the curtain stood a six-foot rendition of the symbol made of sandy-gray concrete, but entirely covered in gold leaf.
On the main altar when there was no service in progress stood a single votive-style light of dark red glass. A similar light burned at the other altar at all times. During the service the light on the main altar was moved placed in front of the altar on the floor. This flame was used to light all the candles f or the service and to purify the instruments used during the service.
At the point in the service where the offering is made, the two attendants went out and brought in the offering, on this occasion he was a tall blonde young man, Clothed just in a dark red velvet garment, not unlike those that everyone wore except the high priest, in this case Darryl, whose garment was black velvet with gold trim. Each garment was emblazoned with the symbol of the god.
The young man's head was covered with a white hood and his eyes were covered with a mask such that he could see nothing. Those in attendance could not see his face, and he could see none of them.
At this point the attendants brought him forward and stood him facing the altar but half way back in the room. His hands were bound with leather thongs and raised above his head where they were secured to a two-inch pipe that conveniently ran the width of the room and spaced three feet apart. His feet were bound similarly and secured to the floor to large bolts that had been embedded for that purpose. The position, although it was only slightly uncomfortable could easily be maintained for a long period of time. Had the offering been a shorter person, using longer restraints might easily decrease the actual distance between his feet.
Everything to this point and to the end of the service had been normal. There had been nothing unusual. After the service was completed and everyone left except Darryl and the offering was when things changed.
As usual, Darryl escorted everyone up to the main floor and out the door. Then made sure that the door was secured before returning to the basement and the inner room.
Darryl knelt before the image of Ba, the name of the god, and intoned the final prayer.
"Oh Lord Ba" he said in the Egyptian syllables translated from the hieroglyphics, "We thy servants having given thanks for thy mercies, now petition Thee for thy special protection for us against the heathen peoples who surround us. We await your message of instruction." At this point, Darryl would pause for a minute to allow time for inspiration to come upon him. It was often in these periods of reflection that he envisioned such instructions from his god.
On this night while deep in meditation, he saw a basin of gold. It was filled with blood. Standing in front of the basin he saw the blonde man and the symbol of Ba. And then he saw no more.
When he awakened from his trance, he saw the basin that was used for washing of hands sitting on the floor in front of where the blond boy remained tied. It was filled with blood and the boy was motionless and his color even more pale than before. Darryl quickly felt for a pulse, there was none. What had happened? He had no idea of what actually transpired, but he knew that he had drained the blood from the boy killing him.
Darryl turned to Ba and mumbled a quick prayer, then hurried to change to his sweats. He pulled two large dark plastic trash bags from the roll on the shelf; and made them ready to receive the body. He looked at the clock on the wall. The service had been dismissed at ten o'clock, and it was now three-thirty. He carefully untied the body and carried it out and placed a bag over either end, using a piece of heavy cord to secure it in the middle. Then he cleaned the temple hurriedly, placing a small portion of the blood in a silver vile and washed the remainder down carefully down the sink. Then he washed the gold basin with soap and water, and rinsed it with alcohol.
Then he unlocked the door to the outside and carried the body to the service elevator that led up to the back entrance to the building. He pushed open the back door and looked out. There was no one in sight, and no vehicles parked along it in either direction. He looked at his watch -- it was almost four. He carried his load out and away from the door seven feet. Carefully he laid the body down and removed the plastic bags. Working quickly he went back to the entrance that he'd propped open and using his hands smeared them across the handles of the inside as if opening and closing it. Then he went back down to the basement and refolded the plastic bags. He put on his jacket, locked the room, and took the elevator to the main floor. He looked up and down the street, seeing no one, left the building.
Trying to look natural and relaxed, he strolled up Market Street toward the direction of The Castro. Since it was early in the morning he'd have to walk, or take a cab. He wanted to take a cab, but not from the area of his office. So he walked down to the Civic Center and waited on the corner for a cab to come by.
In the distance he saw the flashing of red lights from some emergency vehicle. Then a police car roared passed him, it's siren and lights going. Moments later a cab came into view. He hailed it, and when it pulled up he climbed in and gave the driver an address four blocks from where he lived, four blocks further away from downtown.
Exhausted Darryl fell into bed.
Now as he lay trying to figure out exactly what happened, he could still come to no conclusion that would explain it logically. Illogically he concluded that he had become possessed by something or someone, and had drained the blood from the boy killing him. For what reason or purpose, he could not say. Perhaps, he thought, there was a reason. It just had not been revealed to him yet. For now, all that he could do was assume that that was the case, and wait.
Finally he slept.
To be continued ---
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