Let The World Go By
This is a story that involves sex between males. If such a story is offensive, or illegal for you to read where you live, then do not continue, go and surf elsewhere.
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.
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Once again I want to thank all of you who have sent me comments about the story.
Fire In Winter
It was cold the following morning, and James hurried back to his apartment to dress for work. He didn't have time to shower and shave as usual, but he freshened up. Then put on his clothes and hurried off to work.
That night after he completed his stop at the bank, he went home. It was Friday night, the 21st, the beginning of the long Christmas holiday weekend. He would be off until the 26th, a Wednesday, since Christmas came on Tuesday and Christmas Eve day was also a holiday. He was looking forward to the time off, but not the holiday.
With no close friends to spend it with, he was somewhat depressed about the holiday. Exiled from his family now, he wasn't quite sure what to do. His mother had called him at work and invited him to spend the day with them. But since his father still wasn't talking to him, he felt that that wouldn't be a good idea. He told her that he had rather wait until later to visit them. She had sent him a check in the mail for his birthday and Christmas as she always did, so he had have a little extra to do something with.
He showered and shaved, reheated the leftover hot dish again. It wasn't too bad, even for the third time. But, he thought, I don't think I can face it for another meal! He dumped out what remained after he had eaten and wash the dishes. He didn't want to come home to a dirty kitchen to clean up.
He looked at himself in the mirror. He still looked pretty good, he thought, for an old man, and forty was considered old in the Gay community. He was telling people he was just over thirty, and most people still didn't believe he was that old.
Putting on one of his better shirts and slacks, he spruced up for the evening. The weather was still cold, and so he put on a sweater over the shirt. A splash of after-shave and he pulled on his coat.
David had said that he might see him at the bar late Friday night, but he wasn't sure. So he didn't count on seeing him. It didn't really matter to him, as he still wasn't sure about David.
James arrived at The Hour at nine-thirty, pretty early for a normal evening, but this was not a normal evening, it was Friday, the beginning of a long weekend. The place was jammed. There was hardly space to stand, no empty stools, and no empty booths. James pushed his way to the bar and managed to get a drink. Then he inched his way back to the wall that had a ledge on which he could set his drink. That way he wouldn't get spilled on with the crush of people.
He turned off the sound in his mind, and let his eyes rove over the crowd. He saw a few people he had met, none that he particularly cared for, one or two he had carried on with, but no one he really wanted to talk to.
He found himself thinking about David. He was intrigued by David's carefree spirit. He had never met anyone recently who reacted to situations the same way the he did. He hoped that David would be there later as he had said he might.
As the time grew later and later, he gave up on David, and started looking at the crowd again. There were a few conversations that sounded interesting, but nothing special. He had just decided that he would leave and was finishing up on his drink when he felt someone touching his elbow.
"Hello," a voice from behind him said.
James turned and saw a face he hadn't seen before.
"Hello," James returned. The man standing behind him smiled at him. He was shorter than James and looked as if he might be Italian, his skin was olive colored and he had dark curly hair.
"My name is Paul," the man said.
"I see you're ready for another round, may I get it for you?" Paul asked.
"Sure," James said, "Why not?" Why not, indeed, the man was handsome and well dressed. Even if nothing happened, he looked as if he had be good company. And that was something he needed right now.
"Same thing?" Paul asked.
"Yes, thank you," James answered.
Paul took his empty glass and pushed his way through the crowd. James watched as he made his way. Looks good from the back, James thought as he saw that Paul was wearing tight fitting slacks.
"Here you go," Paul said handing James his fresh drink.
"Thank you, Paul," James said touching his glass to Paul's, "Merry Christmas."
"Happy holiday," Paul answered. They sipped their drinks.
A place opened up at the bar as three younger types got up to leave. Since they had been seated directly in front of them, Paul and James immediately climbed up on the stools. A third person standing alone near by did the same, and sat down next to Paul.
"I've never seen it so busy," James said, reopening the conversation.
"It's always like this on holiday weekends," Paul said, as he turned on his stool to face James, who also was sitting askew to the bar facing Paul. James' left leg ended up between Paul's legs, as there was barely room to make the turn at all.
"Where do they all come from?" James mused out-loud.
"I suppose, from out of the closet," Paul laughed.
"Well," James said, "The door must be wide open tonight!"
"Are you from the city?" Paul asked.
"Yeah, I live in St. Paul, just across the way," James said, and asked, "And you?"
"No, I'm here on business. Got stuck here over the holiday, because I've got the least seniority in our group. My home's in Dallas," Paul explained.
"Well, you're no stranger to the snow and cold then," James said.
"Not really, but it is colder here than there." They sat regrouping their thoughts.
"Your family here in town?" Paul asked.
"Yeah, most of them are," James said and then went on to explain that he was recently separated, and that his parents weren't taking it well, especially his dad.
"Well, then, it looks as if we're sort of in the same boat," Paul said, "Alone for the holidays."
"I guess so," James answered. He thought a moment, and then asked, "Care to join me? I haven't made any plans, and could sure use the company."
"That's very nice of you, but I couldn't impose like that," Paul answered.
"Impose?" James said, "Like I said, I've no plans, and I will be alone, unless some one here joins me, why not you?"
"Well, since you put it that way," Paul smiled, "If you're sure, I'd love to."
It was settled. He wouldn't be alone, and he didn't care if anyone else he ran into invited him, he was busy! The two of them sat talking, not making any plans on what they would do the next three days, they were going to let happen, whatever happened.
The evening was winding down, and James suggested that they go to his place.
"Why don't we stay at my hotel?" Paul suggested, "It's closer, and since you don't have to go to work in the morning, it won't matter what time we get up. I'll even arrange for you car to be parked in the garage, since I don't have one right now." The idea was excellent. The next day he and James could go to the apartment and decide from there what they would do.
They buttoned up their coats, and walked down to James' car. Paul gave him directions on how to get to his hotel and they drove off. When they got to the garage, Paul gave James his room key to show to the attendant. He pulled in and went to the assigned parking spot and parked the car.
They took the elevator to the lobby of the garage and walked the half block to the hotel entrance. Someone had already cleared the sidewalk of the recent snowfall and the heated walked had dried the remainder. The wind, however, was trying to retrieve part of it back for its partner, winter
Once inside they rode the elevator to the 14th floor. Paul quickly unlocked the door and they went in. Paul must have come from a good family, James thought, as he took James' coat first, then after hanging in the closet, hung his own there too. James stood watching him as he performed the coat-hanging task.
"May I fix you something?" Paul asked as he turned around.
"No thanks, Paul," James smiled, "You're all I need right now."
Paul returned the smile and moved closer to him. They embraced in a impassioned kiss. James' fingers deftly unbuttoned Paul's shirt and slipped it from his shoulders, while Paul did the same for him. James wore a tee shirt that Paul quickly pushed up his torso. Their chests touched increasing their desire. James eased himself from Paul's arms and removed the tee shirt and slipped off his shoes, watching while Paul pulled open the bed covers and took off his shoes and socks.
James quickly moved behind him and put his arms around his slim waist holding him gently to his body. Paul's hands loosened the belt and undid the catch on his trousers. James leaned slight away while Paul slipped out of them. Then Paul unbuttoned James' slacks and let them slid to the floor, all the while James' lips were caressing Paul's smooth neck and back. James stepped out of his slacks and tossed them with his foot away from them.
It was Paul who spoke first. "Excuse me," he said, "But I have to use the john."
James relinquished his hold on Paul's body and watched as he disappeared into the bathroom. Quickly James picked up the trousers from the floor and lay Paul's across the bed, and his own he put on the chair next to the bed. Then he collected the tee shirt and his shirt and put them with the pants. He did this to cover his own urgency to use the bathroom. Paul returned, still wearing his underwear, his cock turned to the left, nearly thrusting its way from under the filmy covering.
"May I?" James asked.
"Be my guest," Paul said. He watched as James walked to the bathroom, his eyes feasting on the tall, slim body clad only in the navy blue bikini shorts, which accented his soft marble-like skin.
Paul lay on the bed his arms folded behind his head when James returned. James went to him and lay next to him on his stomach. Each had the need to say something to express their delight with the sight of their bodies, all the things which came to mind sounded silly in their minds, and would sounded more ridiculous out loud, and so they said nothing, letting their eyes speak for them.
For a long time they just lay there, drinking in the visions and fragrances. Paul, without looking reached off behind his shoulders to the light switch and dimmed the lights. The new lighting darkened the skin tones, and increased the shadows and definitions of their bodies. Their eyes clung to each to the other, basking in the energy that flowed from them.
Sitting up James reached out his hands and began trailing them across Paul's smooth skin. The energy that leaped from James' fingertips created a sensation of fire beneath his skin. When he could no longer stand the pain, he rose up and pulled James to himself and lay back upon the bed.
In the hours that followed, every nerve was tested, every muscle tensed and relaxed, every sensation tasted, and all were found to be delicious. The fruit of the tree was plucked and eaten, it's juices flowed and ran down their chins and indeed found to be sweet, just as they had been told.
James and Paul spent the evening as it was intended to be, relishing the joy of the season, and sharing it with each other. They exchanged small tokens of their newly acquired affection for each other. Meals with mountains of food were eaten. They went briefly to James' apartment, only to get fresh clothes and his toilet articles. Paul insisted on paying for nearly everything, saying that is was only meant to be shared not owned anyway.
They avoided the place where they met, fearing that they would return and find that they had dreamed it all, and would re-awaken to find themselves back on the Friday evening once more in the crowd and dim standing beside each other, not knowing who they were, and only hoping that they would meet.
On Tuesday night, after they had eaten a traditional Christmas dinner at the restaurant James selected, Murray's, where long ago, so far in his past a memory pushed itself upward. He told Paul of the incident, and of the man whom he had met, just once, and of how when he wrote to him, his letters were returned unopened and marked Deceased.
After they finished their coffees, they walked the short distance to where their first meeting occurred, The Hour. The crowd was smaller than it had been on Friday, so long ago; it seemed now to have been in the distant past. The mood had changed from one of celebration to one of mourning. All who had no one with whom to share their meager joy, sat starring into their drinks with glazed, besotted eyes trying desperately to pretend that they were having a good time, all the time wishing that they were somewhere else.
There were, of course, a few who like Paul and James, who had really had a joyous holiday. These you could spot easily by looking at their eyes, for they were clear and bright, sparkling with that light that comes from within their souls, not from a tall bottle off from the shelf below the bar. They were the fortunate few.
Paul ordered a split of imported champagne. The sparkling liquid bubbled in the long stemmed glasses. They looked first at them, and then into each other's eyes.
"To Christmas," Paul said softly.
"Yes, to Christmas." They tipped the glasses together and downed the drink. When the bottle was empty, they turned and walked to the door.
James and Paul saw each other again on Thursday before Paul returned home, but never again. Paul would write to James occasionally, but never had the occasion to come back to the city. James remembered him fondly, and wished that times had been different for him.
Friday night found James once again with a long holiday weekend before him, and he was alone. Paul had flown back to his home in Dallas for the New Years holiday, and James was feeling lonely. He smiled as he looked into the mirror after dressing for the evening at his dreary apartment. He looked around the room, it wasn't that bad, he thought, but it sure wasn't a home, not like he was used to. He shrugged and put on his heavy coat and turned off the light.
The cold weather continued, but it didn't snow, at least that was some comfort, and the roads were dry. It would make for a safer drive tonight, he thought as made his way through the streets to the freeway. Traffic was heavy on this night of the start of the celebration that would continue through the weekend.
He found a parking space not far from his destination, his home away from home, it seemed. He frowned when he thought about it, but his eyes brightened as walked into the bar and saw the bright faces before him. Yes, he thought, these were his family now, with all their faults and imperfections, the young and old, the tall and short, the hustlers and businessmen, the clerks and truck drivers, all, for whatever they were they were all in the same boat together, the outcasts, it seemed, banded together by the same single desire, to have a good time, and not feel alone.
It was crowded again, but not like the last Friday night. He found an empty stool and climbed up. The bartender nodded as he stood in front of him.
"Screwdriver," James said. He looked around and not finding a friendly face, or at least one which he recognized as familiar to him, lighted a cigarette.
James turned and saw David standing behind him.
"Hello, David," he said. "Merry Christmas!"
"Bah! Humbug!" David frowned briefly and then laughed, "Merry Christmas!"
James laughed, "Did you have a good holiday?"
"Not too bad," he said. "Spent it with my sister and her family."
"Brandy-Seven?" the bartender asked setting James' drink down and looking at David.
"Yeah," and turn looked at James again, "How was yours?"
"Marvelous!" James smiled.
"Anyone I know?" David teased.
"I don't think so," James blushed.
"Okay, okay," David laughed, "It's none of my business anyway."
"You're off work early tonight, aren't you?" James asked.
"Yeah, but tomorrow's an early day, inventory," David said. "Say, what are you doing for the New Year?"
"Nothing special, probably come down here." James said.
"Why don't you join me? I'm going to a friend's house, I'm sure that she won't mind my bringing a guest." David's eyes sparkled.
"If you're sure she won't mind, I'd love to."
"Okay, then it's a date. We're closed on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, so I'll meet you here tomorrow night around midnight, and we'll go to her place, okay?"
"Sounds fine to me," James beamed.
"Great!" David said smiling, "Well, I've got to meet someone, I'll see you tomorrow then."
"Have a good evening," James said.
"Oh," David caught the emphasis, "It's nothing like that, just a friend."
"Like you said, it's n one of my business," James laughed. David laughed too, and walked off to join his friend who had apparently just come into the bar.
He sipped his drink slowly as his eyes looked slowly around the room. He didn't spot anyone whom he knew well enough to really have a conversation with, and remained sitting where he was. The couple sitting next to him got up and left, leaving the two stools next to him momentarily empty. He turned to look as someone jostled his elbow accidentally.
"I'm sorry," the man said, as he climbed up to take his seat.
"That's okay," James said looking over at him. Dressed in a flannel shirt and jeans, the young Black man with short hair settled onto the stool and sighed slightly.
"Miller's," the man said as the bartender approached. The bartender reached into the cooler without looking and retrieved at clear bottle and snapped off the cap in what appeared to be a single motion, setting it on the bar before his new customer.
"Good to see you, Mike," the bartender said picking up the money from the bar.
"Have a good holiday?" Mike asked.
"It was all right, I worked most of it."
"Me too," Mike said.
"That's right, you work at Murray's don't you?"
"Yeah," Mike answered.
"Talk to you later, Mike." The bartender went off to wait on another customer.
"Excuse me," James said turning to Mike. "I think you waited on me the other night."
Mike studied James for a moment and smiled, "Yes," he said, "You were with a dark haired man in a black jacket?"
"That's right. My name's James," he put out his hand.
"I'm Mike," Mike shook hands.
"I'm glad to meet you. I thought that I recognized you when you sat down. But the clothes didn't fit my memory, and I didn't want to appear to stare, so I let it go."
"Your friend still in town?" Mike asked.
"No, he left last night. Had to go home to Dallas."
"That's too bad, he seemed so nice."
"He was. I just hope we can get together again someday." James and Mike continued chatting as the evening proceeded from early to later, to late. No one interrupted their conversation, which was unusual. But they seemed unaware of that fact.
"I'm hungry," Mike said finally, "You want to get something to eat?"
James who hadn't thought about it before, but now that it was mentioned found that he was.
"Sounds good," James answered.
"Okay. Are you driving?" Mike asked.
"No," Mike laughed. "Please! On my tips?"
"Oh!" James laughed, "So that isn't your Mercedes parked out in front then?" They laughed and finished their nearly empty drinks and left.
Once in James' car, Mike gave him instructions on how to get to the place he wanted to go to eat. It was just across the river toward St. Paul, not far from the University.
James drove around the block and headed East on Hennepin. Mike explained that the place didn't look like much, but their breakfasts were good. James found a parking place nearby, and they walked the short distance to the restaurant and went inside. It was already busy. It seemed that everyone except James knew about it, as he recognized many of the customers as being those from The Hour.
Even though it was busy, it took only a few minutes to get a booth. The turn around was quick, for most the stop was a necessity; few if any lingered over their coffee, preferring to be on their way to bed as soon as possible.
James ordered a ham and cheese omelet with hot cakes, while Mike decided on the Spanish omelet with potatoes and toast. Both ordered coffee.
They continued their conversation as they waited for their breakfasts. Mike's family lived in Cleveland and he had moved here to go to school, but dropped out when money got to be tight. He took the job a Murray's thinking it would be only temporary, but since he found that he liked it, and found that it suited the way he like to live. The money wasn't the best, but with tips he managed. If he wanted to buy something special, he just stayed away from the bar for a few weeks, and saved his money. That way he didn't have to borrow. His income wasn't high enough to get a credit card, except at Dayton's, and he used that one only to get the things that he was going to buy when they were on sale, and then only if he could pay it off at the end of the month.
Mike was surprised when James told him of his situation. He didn't believe that he was as old as he said that he was, which was currently the 31 he was telling everyone. James had mentally adjusted the children's ages down by ten year, except Margot's that he had to make older, putting her age at one. He was getting tired of the game, but once started, one had to continue.
Their orders were quickly served, and proved to be as good as Mike said they would be. The food was good, hot, and inexpensive, all the conditions required to make it a popular place for Gays to eat. With most, fancy was a waste.
"Ready?" Mike asked when they finished. "I can make more coffee when we get home, if you like."
"Ready," James replied, picking up the meal ticket.
Mike didn't object to James' paying the bill, but said, "I'll settle with you on that later."
Mike's apartment was small, just the bath, kitchen and a combination living-room-bedroom. It was located in an older residential hotel, which fifty or more years ago was very impressive, to the point of having a ballroom on the third floor. The ballroom had long since been converted to apartments, which matched as closely as they could, the rest of the units. Mike's was one of those newer units, and thus its appointments were somewhat more modern.
Mike turned on his stereo and adjusted the volume so that it was barely audible. The soft jazz music flowed easily.
"Should I make coffee?" Mike asked.
"Not unless you want more?" James answered.
Mike went to the window of the room and unlatched the French doors and opened them slightly. Then he pulled the draperies to cover them.
"I need a little fresh air," he said. "The place is so small, that the smoke gets to me after awhile."
"It feels good," James said as he felt the slight coolness creep into the room.
Mike came to where he was standing and said, "Let's get out of these clothes."
When James woke in the morning the aroma of coffee greeted him. Mike was in the bathroom brushing his hair. James watched and recalled a time long ago when he would lie and watch Hobbie brushing his hair. A pang of nostalgia crept into his body.
"Coffee's ready," Mike called as he went to the kitchen. "Want some?"
James climbed out from the blankets and walked to the kitchen door, standing naked, his morning erection was just beginning to droop a little.
"Later, Dude," Mike said patting it gently, as he handed James a cup of steaming coffee.
"Cream or sugar?" Mike asked.
"No, this is just fine." James sipped it carefully. The strong flavor tantalized his senses. They carried their coffee cups back to the living room. Mike set his down on the table that had been pushed out of the way to allow the bed to be opened. James watched a minute, and hurried off to the bathroom. With his erection now gone, he needed to urinate badly.
When he returned, Mike had reconverted the bed into a sofa, and had put on his jeans. He was still barefooted.
"So what's your schedule today?" Mike asked.
"Nothing planned until evening," he answered, "How about you?"
"I start at four, until then I'm open," Mike smiled.
"I wish that I hadn't made plans for later," James started.
"That's okay," Mike said, "I have some too. A party I was invited to months ago."
James felt better. Mike was someone he had really like to get to know better.
"Want to go to Dayton's and see what's on sale?" Mike asked.
"Sure, I haven't been in a while. Sound's like fun."
"Good. Let me put on some shoes and we can get going." He looked at James who was still naked and grinned, "Dress is not optional."
James who suddenly realized he was still undressed hurried and found his clothes. When they were all bundled up against the cold, they left and hurried down to James' car. It protested a little, but after a few cranks of the starter relented and began firing. He let it warm up a minute and then pulled out into traffic.
Mike picked out a scarf he looked at before the holiday, and a shirt he wanted. James examined several things, but decided that he didn't really need them, or realized he couldn't afford. In spite of this, he found he was enjoying shopping anyway. By noon they were finished, and Mike suggested they get a bite to eat, his treat he insisted, since James would let him pay for his breakfast last night.
They stopped at the second level and walked to the skyway that crossed the street to the building across the street. There they went in to the coffee shop just inside the store.
"I have this craving for something sweet," Mike said.
"Must be pregnant," James teased.
"Thanks to you!" Mike returned throwing a glance over his shoulder.
"Well, it was your choice!" James taunted.
"A great choice it was too!" Mike laughed.
After picking out the pastries they wanted, they ordered the fancy coffee and waited while they were prepared. Mike paid and they went to one of the empty booths and sat down. James watched Mike intently as they chatted about the morning's shopping.
"What?" Mike asked, when he noticed that James was watching him.
"Nothing," James was embarrassed that he had been staring. "What?" Mike insisted.
"You've got the cutest dimple," James relented.
"You're crazy!" Mike laughed, "You know it? Just plain crazy!"
When they finished they drove back to Mike's apartment. It was two o'clock.
"Want to come in?" Mike asked looking at James.
"Yeah, I'd like that."
James dropped Mike off in front of Murray's at five minutes to four, after agreeing to meet New Year's Eve when Mike was finished at ten o'clock. He drove on to St. Paul to his own apartment. He decided that he would take a nap, in case it was a late night. Since he wasn't meeting David until midnight, it could very easily be late. He set the alarm for ten o'clock and climbed into bed.
To be continued
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