[DISCLAIMER: If you're not of legal age to read stories of male-to-male intimacy, or if it is illegal to do so where you are, right now, this very second ... then please ... leave, and return ONLY when and where it is legal for you to do so. If reading about sexual intimacy, feelings, yearnings and the like, between people of the same sex offends you, the author asks that you, too, leave and find expressions to your likings elsewhere. And remember ... "Judge not, that ye be not judged." Comments, both pro and con, including constructive criticism, are welcomed.]
THE PAPERHANGER'S SURPRISE
By Zeke Housemann ( email@example.com )
CHAPTER FOUR (of four)
We used the Lexus. Since I knew where the casino was, and was more familiar with driving around the Palm Springs area, I became the designated driver. Ted and I in front, and Beckie and Sheilagh in the back seat. I love playing tour guide, and so, mainly for Sheilagh's benefit, I pointed out some of the affluent country clubs along the way. I figured that Ted and Beckie had already become slightly familiar with some of the landmarks.
Leaving The Cove, I turned right onto Highway 111 and drove past The Club At Morningside. "Her Imperial Highness, Ashraf Pahlavi, twin sister of the late Shah of Iran lives there," I announced. Exclamations of surprise came from the other three.
"Over there behind Morningside is Tamarisk Country Club where Frank Sinatra lived," I continued. "And there on our right is Thunderbird Country Club, home of Ginger Rogers and also President Ford." The more names I dropped, the more impressed my three friends became.
"Here on our left is The Springs Country Club, home of Vice President Spiro Agnew and also of Don Drysdale."
Turning onto Bob Hope Drive, we went a little further and I said, "There on our right is the world famous Bob Hope / Eisenhower Medical Center, and behind it is the Betty Ford Center where many famous people have secretly gone through drug and alcohol rehab. Their privacy and confidentiality is well guarded, but occasionally word gets out about who some new 'resident' might be. They're not called 'patients' there."
"Is that the place where Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and Liberace went?" asked Sheilagh.
"Well, it's public knowledge that Liz went there, but I'm not sure about the guys. Rumor has it that Lee and Rock both were cared for at the Medical Center during the last stages of their A.I.D.S. ... uhhh ... situation, but I don't know for sure."
By then we were crossing the intersection of Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra Drives. "And here on our left," I continued, "is the huge Annenberg Estate, western home of America's Former Ambassador to Great Britain, as well as his being the owner of 'TV Guide,' and the estate has been the 'playground' home of many of the Presidents since Eisenhower."
"You mentioned Liz and Rock and Lee. You're on first name basis with them?" queried Beckie.
"Yeah, I caught that, too," added Ted.
I chuckled a little and explained, "Well, there are so many of the rich and famous and so many celebs living here, the newspapers refer to them by their familiar names. Most people around here pick up on it and talk about them as if they were old friends."
"You ever meet any celebrities?" Ted asked.
"Yeah. I talked with Liberace in one of the movie theaters down town one evening. It was during intermission between a double feature. He was very nice, AND he was by himself."
"Did he look sick at all?" asked Ted.
"Oh, no; this was several years before that."
"Any others?" asked Beckie.
"Any other celebrities? Ever meet any others?"
"Oh, I've worked for a few, but they wanted me to sign an agreement NOT to say WHO. I DID get to hold an Oscar in my hands, though! And one night, I remember, I was in a little neighborhood Mexican restaurant with some friends, and I'd had quite a few Margaritas, and was feeling very little pain." They laughed. So did I. "And after paying the damages, I was walking toward the door, when some guy opened the door for some lady to come inside. I don't know why I didn't wait for them to enter. But, here was this gorgeous hunk of a guy ..." (I noticed in the rearview mirror that Beckie and Sheilagh quickly looked at each other) "... holding the door open -- for ME, I thought -- so I just walked through. I stepped up to the man, nodded and said, 'Thank you, hic Sir,' then stepped over to the lady, nodded again, and said, 'Thank hic you, Mum,' and continued swaggering my way past them. She said, very blandly, 'You're welcome,' but the hunk didn't say anything. A couple of minutes later, my friends ran up to me, grabbed me and asked things like, 'you know who that was?' and 'you know who held the door for you?' Dum dum me! Well ... guess who I'd been too drunk to recognize?
"Who? Who? Who?" They sounded like a bunch of old hooty-owls.
"Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood, that's who!"
"Aw, shit!" said Ted.
"A few minutes later, we had walked to my place -- even though I was dead drunk -- I think somebody had to carry me piggy-back part of the way, I couldn't find my key. Friends' hands were roaming through all my pockets -- heeheehee -- somebody finally found it ... the key, that is ..., opened the door, took me to my bedroom, and I collapsed and totally passed-out."
All three of my passengers were laughing hysterically. "Damn!" Ted laughed, "I bet you never lived that down."
"Yeah, you're right, Ted." I put my hand on top of his on top of the seat between us. He started to jerk it away, but decided to leave it there.
By this time we could see the lights of the casino, stuck out in the middle of the desert by itself with nothing around it. I drove into the parking structure, and as we all entered the casino, we were hit with the strong aroma of cigarette smoke. The girls lifted their hands to cover their noses. Beckie coughed. Several times.
I pointed us in the direction of the buffet restaurant and let the girls lead the way. The din of the usual casino noises -- bells ringing, whistles blowing, people screaming over hitting little jackpots -- made it difficult to hear each other. I looked at Ted as he looked at me and we both deeply inhaled the smoke. Then he said something I couldn't make out, so I put my arm around his shoulder, pulled him tight against my side, put my mouth close to his ear and asked, "What'id ya say?"
He turned his head to face me, and for a tiny split second, our lips touched. Our eyes got big, and then we broke out in huge grins, and he said, "I said, 'I'd love to have a cigarette.' "
"I didn't know you smoked?"
"Yeah, but not very much. I didn't see you smoking yesterday, Zeke, soooo, I didn't either, said Ted.
"Just wish I'd known, " I said, then reached ahead of us to get the girls' attention and said, "Over there is the Buffet Restaurant. You wanna go in now?"
Sheilagh started looking around and said, "I think I need to freshen up a bit. How about you, Baby?" she asked Beckie. Ted and I looked at each other, then at Sheilagh, then back to each other. Beckie was nodding, "Yes" back to Sheilagh.
"Powder Room's down THAT way," I pointed to the right, "and Men's Room is down this way," I pointed to the left. "Ted?"
"Yeah, OK. Need to wash my hands anyway." Then he said to the girls, "We'll meet back here in ... say ... 5 ... 10 minutes? OK? That enough time for you gals to ... uhhh ... do whatever it is you do in powder rooms?"
"Make it ... 15, just to be safe, OK, Teddy?" chided Becky, as she took Sheilagh's hand and started toward the Ladies Room.
Ted stared after her, but I put my hand in the middle of his back, and turned him so we could head to the Head (that's American Navy talk for restroom). "Everything OK, Babe?" I asked as we walked.
"I just hate it when she calls me ... TEDDY !"
"It's none of my business, but as a prospective landlord, and as a friend, do I detect problems at home?"
"No, not really. It's just ... I get so damned irritated with her at times."
We entered the Men's Room. I didn't see anyone at the wash basins; no one at the urinals. I bent down and looked under the partitions of the stalls -- didn't see any legs. I took Ted's hand and literally pulled him toward the last urinal. I threw my arms around him and Frenched him so deeply, our teeth clicked against each other's. He tried to back away, but I held him tighter. Then ... THEN! ... I heard someone clear his throat. Ted and I froze. I looked over his shoulder and saw this young muscle-bound Adonis, who was wearing brown leather motorcycle boots; tight, tight, tight brown leather pants, showing a very nice basket; a very short tie-dyed wife-beater which showed a gold ring pierced through his belly-button, rings on every finger, braided leather bands tied around both biceps, the whitest-yellow hair I'd ever seen, tied in a ponytail that reached his ass, and a tiny gold ring pierced through each eye brow. He winked at me, grinned, and said, "Smile, you're on candid camera!" and pointed to a security camera up in one corner of the room.
Ted and I quickly released each other and together said, "Awww, shit!" Blood drained from both our faces.
"Just shitin' ya, guys, " the stranger said, laughing, while unzipping, reaching in, ('way down) and stepping up to the farthest urinal from us. Neither of us got to see the real, uncovered thing! Shit! From the bulge, it must have been a monster.
"They don't use those things," he continued. "It's illegal to video in dressing rooms and restrooms. Those fake cameras in restrooms are just to make people feel guilty for whatever reasons."
While he was talking, Ted and I both unzipped and took a leak ... in separate urinals! After zipping back up, I walked past the stranger, slapped him on the butt and said, "Thanks guy."
Ted, who was right behind me, slapped my butt and said, "Hey! Stop it! That hand belongs to ME, now!" The stranger laughed.
"SIR, YES SIR, MASTER, SIR," I said strongly as I sharply did an about-face and saluted Ted. "WILL THERE BE ANYTHING ELSE, SIR?" I snapped to attention.
"Wash your hands, SLAVE!"
"SIR, YES SIR!"
"And then ... then you can lick my fingers clean for me."
"ooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooo," we heard the stranger, still at "his" urinal, mimicking Mae West, and looking at us. Ted and I turned toward him, saw him shaking his shoulders and hips as if a shiver had just gone through them, and we broke up. Stranger started "fanning" himself with his flippant little hand.
I was drying my hands and Ted began washing his, and we were both laughing ourselves silly. A couple more men came in, looked at the three of us strangely, then headed for separate stalls. We quieted down right away, and as we were walking out, Stranger said, "Good luck, guys."
Together, Ted and I said, "Thanks, and good luck to you, too." We jerked our heads toward each other, surprised that we had said the same identical thing at the same time, and without another word, held up crook't pinkies, interlocked them with each other, squeezed and jerked them up and down once, in togetherness.
The arms to which those pinkies were attached, went around the other's shoulders, and, in step with each other, we happily and gaily walked out of the men's room together, arm in arm, so to speak, ready to take on the world!
Walking past the bar (between the Men's Room and the restaurant) I said, "Wanna drink? We've got a few minutes before the girls get back."
"Sure, I'd love one," said Ted, just as we heard somebody whistle very loudly, ahead of us. Looking around, there were the girls, Beckie with her arm and hand held high, motioning for us to come on down to the restaurant.
I looked at Ted; he looked at me; I winked at him; he smiled at me; I gave him a pat on the ass as we walked to them. His ass jerked in surprise -- ever so slightly!
"You boys sure took long enough! Find something interesting to do in there -- together?" Beckie asked, grinning from ear to ear.
Ted and I looked at each other, snickered, and then broke into obscene laughter.
"What the ...? What are you guys laughing at?" asked Sheilagh.
Ted fought to control his laughing long enough to answer, "There was this one kid in there ... must be a rock musician -- too young to be a hippie ... wearing the most God-awful get-up you ever seen," (yeah; sure; right; uh huh! ... NOT!) "he was acting and talkin' like a damn fruit-... err ...like nuthin' I ever seen," Ted stammered, then looked at me, trying to show no emotion.
"Yep," I said, putting a hand on his shoulder and gently patting two or three times, letting him know that everything was OK; "there sure are some weird ones out there."
Changing the subject, I continued, "Now ... if y'all're all ready to eat, let's go." I led the way in. "Dinner's on me, remember; save your money for gamblin'!"
"Yeah. OK. Good deal," they all said, one on top of the other.
I paid the hostess -- a little under a hundred dollars for evening dinner-- very reasonable for four people, including bottomless non-alcoholic drinks.
We chose a table rather than a booth. From where I sat, Ted was to my left, Beckie to his left, and Sheilagh to Beckie's left and my right.. I figured Ted and I could play "footsies" or "kneesies." Heeheehee
¯"Tonight, tonight, won't be just any night."¯
Amen to that! The joy is in the journey.
A cute little Server came to the table to take our drink orders. He had a white napkin or small towel draped over his left arm. "Good evening. May I take your drink orders, please?" I noticed a slight British accent.
"If you'd like wine or beer, here's the list, " I said, handing it to Sheilagh. "And while she's looking, Steve," I said, noticing his name on the name-tag, "I'll just have cranberry juice. I'm the designated driver, tonight."
"Very good, Sir."
Handing the list to Beckie, Sheilagh said, "A glass of white house wine, please."
"Very good, mum."
Dropping the list onto Ted's plate, Beckie looked toward Sheilagh, smiled tenderly, and simply said, "The same," without even bothering to acknowledge Steve.
"Very good, mum; and you, Sir?" he directed his attention to Ted, as he walked around and stood between our chairs.
"The cranberry juice sounds good; I haven't had any in a while. I think I'll have that."
"Very good, Sir," Steve said, as he put his left hand on Ted's right shoulder, and his right hand on my left shoulder. "Have you nice people 'bean' here before?"
Beckie and Sheilagh shook their heads in silent response, and Ted answered, "No, Steve, we haven't." I didn't answer, loving to hear his accent as he went through his "schpiel."
"Well, then, ladies, gentlemen, our International Service is over there," he nodded to a far wall to my right, then continued, "We have Mexican, Asian, American and Italian choices. Warm plates are at each station. Behind us," he nodded slightly in that direction, "are our salad and dessert bars. Now ... is there anything else I might be able to help with? Any question I might be able to answer?"
I looked at my table mates, then said, "No, but thank you, Steve. We'll be fine, Oh, yes, and water all around, please."
"Very good, Sir, and while you are all choosing your main courses, I shall gather your drinks and bring them to the table."
"Thanks," or "Thank you," we all said, as he clicked his heels, nodded, sharply turned, and proceeded "ever so properly" to march off to the kitchen. "He must have had training as a Gentleman's Gentleman or else a Maitre d'," I commented.
"Yes," remarked Sheilagh, "he IS very good at what he does, isn't he?"
We then went and inspected all the numerous choices available. The girls, of course, first got small plates for their salads. Ted went straight to the Chateaubriand and American veggies, heavy on the potatoes, ummmmm, a red-blooded meat and potato man! I like that. I took a healthy smattering of Mexican refried beans and rice, Asian sea-food soup, American broccoli with almonds and some kind of yellow sauce, and some Italian lasagna ... I'm not much into detached red-blooded meat ... As they say, 'International variety is the spice of culinary delights,' ... or something like that.
Dinner was dinner; nothing spectacular. Beckie twice more called Ted, "Teddy," and I could tell that he would have been much happier out in the casino gambling, than glued to his seat at the table with her. Something was going on ... I just couldn't figure out what it was.
Twice during dinner, Beckie and Sheilagh excused themselves and went to "powder their noses."
"What's going on, Ted?"
"The tension's building between you an' Beckie; particularly from her side. What's happening? An' I can tell you'd rather not be here."
"Awww, Zeke ... <big sigh> ... it's nothing, man ... I'll be OK." I could tell that he wanted to say something, then decided against it.
"Well, I'm here for you, buddy, if you need to talk, or if I can help you in any way ... and I do mean, in any way." I grinned and emphasized the word.
He chuckled and said, "I may take you up on that ..."
"I certainly hope so."
"... sooner than you think!"
"All right, then. Let's go!"
"Go where?" asked Beckie as she and Sheilagh returned.
"Oh ... uhhh ... I was just telling Ted, now that we're through with dinner, let's go out and do some gambling! You girls ready?"
After leaving a nice tip for Steve, who had frequently stopped by to remove dirty plates as we brought back more from additional trips to the foods, and for his other attendant courtesies, we walked out of the restaurant and through the casino. Not having any cigarettes with me, I had to enjoy deep-breathing the used smoke. The girls were complaining about the smoke, and Beckie even asked if we could leave.
Just then I spotted a MegaBucks DOLLAR slot machine offering a Mega Jackpot of $3,413, 656.00 plus increasing fractions of a penny each second.
"I got an idea," I said excitedly. "Look at that jackpot -- nearly three-and-a-half MILLION dollars!" Let's all pitch in just ten dollars apiece, pool the money into the machine, and let Ted, here, who said he felt VERY lucky tonight, pull the lever or hit the buttons! Then, when any jackpot hits, no matter what the amount, we split it four ways. OK? Everybody game? Then we can leave if everybody wants to."
"Yeah, I like that idea," Ted said in a happier tone than I'd heard during much of the evening. "That way, it gives us all, better odds!"
"I'll pitch in and ante the kitty," said Sheilagh, as she opened her bag and withdrew a ten-dollar bill.
"Okayyyyy," resigned Beckie as she, too, reached in her bag, "then, AFTER the forty dollars are gone, may we leave this PUTRID place?"
I shoved my ten into the money slot, then Sheilagh, then Ted, and finally, begrudgingly, so did Beckie.
"ALRIGHT! Go for it, buddy!" I slapped Ted on the back. He hit the "Bet" button three times for a maximum of three dollars, then pulled the arm of the modern "Bandit."
< 7 > < star > < $ > < $ > < Flag >
"There's three dollars shot to hell," bemoaned Beckie. Sheilagh put an arm around her shoulders to "comfort" her.
"It's coming. I can feel it," said Ted enthusiastically, as he held both hands up to the front of the machine. "I can feel it."
"Do it again, Ted," I encouraged, as I put both hands on his shoulders. He pulled the lever again.
< $ > < $ > < $>
"Come on, come on, come on!" I told the machine.
< $ > < $ > < $ > < 7 > < Flag >
"Shit!" I cried.
"Don't worry; It's coming!" Ted panted, building up excited energy in his hands as he briskly rubbed them together.
"Three more dollars down the drain." Guess who said that!
"Come on, Ted," encouraged Sheilagh.
"Come on, baby," Ted said as the pulled the lever again.
< 7 > < 7 > < 7 > < 7 > "Come on baby," I said louder. < Star >
In unison, three of us said, "Awwww," but stopped short as bells went off and horns honked, and other casino patrons began gathering around as two hundred silver tokens began falling into the money tray.
Shouts of joy from everyone, including Beckie, though from her, I think it was faked exuberance; then I cut in and said, "We don't touch any of the winnings now; we keep on playing with the original forty dollars, then when that's gone, we split what ever's in the tray." Everyone agreed.
Ted was stroking the sides of the machine as if it were his lover. I moved in closer to him and did something I never thought I'd do in public. I totally leaned against his backside, pressing my clothed crotch (limp though it was at the moment) into his clothed butt, and wrapped my arms around his waist. Then I propped my chin on his shoulder and, only loud enough for him to hear, said into his ear, "Make love to it, baby. Kiss it for me. Press its love buttons this time."
He leaned forward and ever so gently, kissed the screen. I still had my arms around his waist, and when he straightened up, without thinking, I lightly kissed him on the ear.
Very tenderly, he pressed the MAXIMUM BET button.
I held my breath. I don't know what anyone else did.
< $ > < $ > < $ > < $ > < $ >
JA C K P O T
A thunderous roar arose in the casino! Whistles! Bells! Trumpets! Car horns! "WINNER, WINNER, JACKPOT WINNER" came from overhead speakers! Spot lights panned the area around us! Strobe lights flashed!
I turned Ted around, hugged him with a great big bear hug, picked him up so his feet were off the floor, and spun around a couple times. Putting him back down, we drew apart and turned to the girls. I swear, they were in a tighter embrace than we had just been! Ted and I reached over to them tapped them on their shoulders, then he hugged Beckie, and I hugged Sheilagh, then we formed a group hug -- just the four of us, and danced around in an excited little circle.
"Excuse me, excuse me," said a deep-voiced Mexican man in a Security uniform. "Who's the lucky person that just hit the Mega-Bucks Jackpot?"
"WE ALL ARE!" we screamed together! "WE ALL ARE! We pooled our money."
Other casino patrons started applauding; still others started yelling, "Congratulations!" "Way to go!" "Can I borrow a couple o' thou?"
"Oh, dear me," I thought, "the grabbers are really gonna start comin' outta the woodworks now."
"Then we'll need all four names, printed and with signatures, before we escort you to the Security Office," the security officer continued. "By the way, I'm Chief Security Officer Jesus Olvera; these are my partners in crime, Officer Juanita Menendez, and Officer Ron Barkley." We each nodded, shook hands and all that crap. Then Officer Olvera continued, "We don't give this kind of money in cash, you know. And we have to settle a little matter with the I.R.S., too."
He began filling out his portion of the form. "Let's see, at the minute you hit the jackpot, the machine was reading $3,413, 656.69." Whew, he whistled. Oi, chihuahua! "Congratulations, folks!"
While this was going on, Beckie had picked up a cardboard casino coin-cup and was raking the two hundred tokens into it.
And now, while we're still here by the Mega Bucks Slot Machine, here's Alex Winters, Casino Photographer, to take a few pictures -- mementos for you folks, and publicity shots for us, the Agua Caliente Casino. Ladies, why don't you stand on either side of the machine so we can see the winning wheels; and Gentlemen, why don't you stand next to your ladies?"
Once again, Beckie came to the fore and asked, "Officer Olvera, could we LAdies be together and the GENtlemen ... (she over-emphasized the syllable!) " ... be together, rather than the way you suggested?"
Ted frowned as he jerked his attention to her. I sensed something strange in the air; and it wasn't the cigarette smoke in the casino!
"Of course, ma'am, if that's the way you want it."
With no expression at all, she looked straight into Ted's eyes while speaking to the officer and the photographer, " That's just the way that I would want it, Mr. Olvera."
The photographer took several shots, thanked everyone for their patience, and left for the security offices. The photos would be ready for us in a few minutes.
Officer Olvera had finished filling out his portion of the form that we four would have to sign, then passed it around for our printed names and signatures.
"Officer Barkley," Officer Olvera said to his underling, "would you see that this machine is turned off, and the Out Of Order sign posted on it?"
"Sure thing, boss." He then called Machine Maintenance on his walkie-talkie, and told them to shut down the MegaBucks Machine, and asked for someone to bring the OOO sign to him.
"Thank you, folks," Officer Olvera said, and Beckie handed the clipboard and form back to him. "Officer Menendez will escort you to the Winner's Lounge ... actually, an annex to the main security office ... so you can get your money!"
We were all hugging, kissing, making LOTS of loud, happy noises as Officer Menendez led the way. The room she took us into had been appropriately covered in wallpaper that had hundred-dollar bills printed all over it! It was a bit much! An attractive middle-aged lady came into the room wearing a nicely tailored business suit, and her name tag read, Annie Blitzner, Accounting.
"You bring us our money, Ms Blitzner?" Ted kiddingly asked.
"Annie, please. No, sir, You'll have your money in about fifteen or twenty minutes, though, after filling out some more forms, sorry to say, but it is a necessary evil."
We all moaned.
"First, I understand that you pooled your money in the machine, is that right?
"Yes, that's right," I replied.
"Fine. Now, how do you want the disbursement? One check? Two? Three? Four?"
Beckie quickly spoke up; I rather felt she would. "We would like four checks, each made payable to a different individual, please." Ted frowned in thought as he watched her take control without asking for advice or suggestions from anyone else. He knew something was up; I could tell. He kept glancing at me, ever so slightly nodding his head. The gentleman that he was, feeling that there was a problem somewhere, he refused to approach the subject in front of either Sheilagh or me. He would talk to her about it later; in private.
Because each of us would be receiving a bank draft, we each had to fill out forms giving out names, addresses, all phone and cell numbers, e-mail addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers, military classification, and state whether or not we were felons. Finishing the forms, we returned them to Ms Blitzner. "Thank you," she said. "As you may already know, we keep thirty percent of the winnings and send it IN YOUR NAMES to the I.R.S. Now let's see ... the total amount of winnings was $3,413, 656.69! Thirty percent of that is ... uhhh ... $1,024,096.90 for the I.R.S," she read from the calculator she held.
Verbal complaints from each of us came forth. Ms Blitzner shrugged her shoulders; "That ain't my rule, folks; I'd let you keep the whole amount if I could, but I can't."
"We all really know that, Annie," I said; "We just don't like it." She nodded her head in agreement.
Now then, $3,413, 656.69 in winnings, less $1,024,096.90 for the I.R.S. leaves $2,389,559.70 net winnings, times one-forth for each of you, is $597,389.92! That's almost six hundred thousand dollars! How does it feel to be better than half a millionaire?"
Whoops and hollers and gaiety and frivolity resounded throughout the room covered in fake hundred dollar bills.
"Ladies, Gentlemen ... your bank drafts will be ready in just a few moments. Would you care for something to drink while you wait?"
"A glass of white wine, thank you," said Sheilagh.
"How about a bottle of your finest Champagne, and I'll even pay for it," asked Beckie.
"That sounds appropriate," Annie said, "but you won't have to pay for it ... compliments of the house, Miss. I'll call and have it here in just a couple of moments."
"Oh, Annie," Sheilagh said, "with the champagne coming, cancel the wine, please."
"My pleasure, Miss. And ... uhhh ... while you're waiting, we have several slot machines in the annex through that door ..." she pointed to her left, our right, "... that is, if you want to keep playing."
"No thanks," said Ted.
"Not now," said Sheilagh.
"I don't think so," I said.
"You party-poopers," said Beckie. "I wanna play some more." Annie returned to her office, called for the Champagne, and had an accounting clerk type out the bank drafts.
"I'll join you, Beckie," Ted said, holding the door open to the annex. Once inside, with the door closed, he continued; "What's going on, Beck? You've been acting strange ever since you got back home today, and Sheilagh was with you."
"I think we've got to talk," she replied, "but not now; not here. Here is just not the place for it."
"What about? At least give me that much of an idea."
"I said, 'not now and not here,' and that's that! Later, Ted!" It was one of the first times all evening she had not called him "Teddy." He knew something was afoot.
Just then, Sheilagh opened the door and said, "Champagne's here." Beckie gave up the idea of playing the machine, and she and Ted joined Sheilagh and me in the "hundred-dollar-bill" room.
And at the same time, Annie returned with the four, beautiful, half-million-dollar-plus bank drafts. "Here they are, folks. Now ... what would you like to do? Stay and enjoy the casino some more? Or perhaps relax in the restaurant ... on us, of course?"
I looked around at the other three. "No," I said; "Thanks, Annie, but I think we'll go celebrate our good fortune at home."
"I quite understand, Mr. Housemann. Feel free to take the bottle of Champagne with you, but remember not to open it 'till you get home ... no open bottles in the car, you know." We all nodded. "Now ... even though you're not carrying all that amount in cash, casino management likes for our big winners to be escorted to their vehicles by a security guard, just in case we have some weirdos out there who would jump you and force you to sign over the drafts to them."
"Hadn't thought about that. Thanks," I commented, and the others agreed.
Soon, we were escorted to the Lexus, and were on our way back up to Casa Cielo, my "little house in the sky."
Once there, I brought Champagne flutes out to one of the patio tables. We sat. I poured, and said, "A toast!" We all stood and held up our glasses. "To four good friends ... all, half-millionaires!"
"Four good friends," said Sheilagh.
"Good friends," said, Beckie.
"Hear! Hear!" said, Ted.
We clicked the flutes together, took the first sips, then sat around the table.
Tension was growing
"Music, anyone," I asked. All three weakly shook their heads.
Ted looked at me looking at him, and together we looked at the girls.
Sheilagh turned to face Beckie, held out both of her hands to her, face up. "Now's as good a time as any, hon," she said to Beckie.
"What's going on?" asked Ted.
"You're right, Sheilagh; now is as good a time as any." She put her right hand in Sheilagh's, and extended her left to Ted. He clasped it in both of his.
"Now is as good a time, for what, Beck?" he asked, using his favorite pet name for her.
"I think you've finally discovered who you are, Ted; who you really are."
"Whataya mean, Beck?"
"You know we've played around, Ted. We've played around with other women," she paused, looked at Sheilagh, and even leaned over and kissed her; then continued, "... we've played with other couples; but you've never been very comfortable with that. Oh, you can perform OK with the ladies, but you're really not comfortable with us, and you were never comfortable being naked and close to other men."
"I never thought it was that obvious."
"So, what can I do, Beckie?"
He was beginning to hurt. I could see his hands start to shake, just a little. He pulled them away from her hand, interlocked his fingers, let his hands drop into his lap, and, nervously, he started tapping his thumbs together. I moved my chair closer to him and put my right arm around his back and started squeezing his right shoulder, and then the back of his neck.
"I think you've already done it, Ted."
"Whataya mean? What have I done?
"Since coming up here earlier, and meeting Zeke, I've seen a change in you, Ted. I've seen a comfort, an affection there, I've never seen before. I've seen it in your eyes, in your body language, in your smile, when you look at Zeke," she looked at me and smiled; and even winked at me! Surprise, surprise! I think I knew what was coming.
"And it's beautiful, Ted."
"But it's just ..."
"Let me finish," she interrupted. "I think that last night, while I was in L.A., and you were here by yourself, you felt relaxed enough to ... to jump in and grab hold of something you never experienced before."
"Yeah, you're right," Ted admitted. He looked at me, reached over and put his left arm around my waist, and briefly laid his head on my right shoulder, and pushed his weight into me.
"You see, Ted, " Beckie remarked," that's what I'm talking about. Before last night, you would never have done that with another guy." Ted nodded with agreement, and I kissed the top of his head. I definitely sensed where this was going, and I showed a knowing grin to the girls.
"I don't care to know what happened last night, but I'm glad it did," Beckie added.
"So where do we go from here?" Ted asked.
"Well, I've seen the looks you guys have shared with each other tonight; the little affectionate, intimate touches you've given each other. And Zeke, I even noticed you actually humped Ted once or twice when you grabbed him around the waist and nibbled his ear."
"Yes. And when the jackpot hit, and you picked Ted up and danced around ... did you realize that he wrapped his legs around your waist?"
"Noooooooo???" I was trying to remember.
"I did?" asked Ted. "Awww, shit! I really did? In public? ... Fuuuuuuck!"
We all started laughing. Hysterically, at Ted's embarrassment.
"Teddy, baby ..." That was the first time she ever said the name with any affection in it. "That just shows how comfortable you are with Zeke, now."
"Yeah, I guess it does." He picked up his glass and held it up to me in a toast. I picked up mine and held it up to him. The glasses clicked, and Ted said, "To loving friendships."
"To ..." I paused for several seconds, then continued, "... no, I'm not going to say that yet. To loving friendships," I loudly proclaimed. The glasses clicked again, we interlocked our arms and sipped.
And we drank of each other's love with our eyes.
"Now I want to say something else," Beckie interrupted our adoring moment. We looked at her, waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak.
Beckie looked at Sheilagh. Sheilagh looked at Beckie. Sheilagh moved her chair over very close to Beckie, and put her arm across her back, and squeezed.
"Teddy ... you know that I've known Sheilagh for many years. You've known her for the last five." Ted nodded in agreement. "Being in the same line of work, we've run into each other on shopping trips, and we've even shared hotel rooms on A.S.I.D. conventions."
"Yes. Sooo ...?"
"Go ahead, baby; we can tell him now," Sheilagh said to Beckie.
"Tell me what?"
"We've been in love for the past three years, Ted."
"You and Sheilagh?"
"Soooo ... where does that leave us? You and me?"
"Uhhhhh ..." Beckie looked at Sheilagh, took a deep breath, and then looked back to Ted. "... Teddy ... would it hurt too terribly much if I asked for a divorce?"
"A divorce?" he asked. She nodded. He looked at me with a faint but growing smile on his face. I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat as Ted continued, "I can't believe it! I just can't, fuckin', believe this!" He jumped up out of his chair, and stepped over to Beckie, who withdrew with a little fear.
"I'm not mad. Believe me, I'm not mad," he gleefully said. "Stand up here and give me a kiss, you fool!" he teased.
As she was standing, he said, "I wanted to ask you for a divorce!"
They kissed, not as husband and wife, but as two friends who truly cared for each other. They drew back, smiled at each other, laughed heartily, and hugged again.
Then, Sheilagh and Beckie were hugging and kissing, and Ted and I were about to toast each other once again.
"What I was about to say before, Luv, was this ..." We held up the fluted glasses one more time. "... To our love ... 'till death do us part."
Three months later...
The divorce was amicable, very amicable; neither felt shafted nor cheated.
Beckie and Sheilagh formed a legal business partnership, living and working in both Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Vail, Colorado, and were planning on opening new Interior Design offices in Taos, New Mexico, and Sedona, Arizona. Thanks to their share of the Jackpot winnings.
Needless to say, Ted moved in with Zeke; not into a guest room, but into the Master Suite, together, with each other. They, too, had formed a legal business partnership with each other. They opened a shop on Perez Road in Cathedral City, and began, not only installing, but also selling wallcoverings, and had to hire other paperhangers and painters. Business was booming, and the future looked good.
Ted and Zeke were very much in love. After their first Thanksgiving dinner together, they were relaxing in the hot jacuzzi. It was just after dusk. Still, only seventy-two degrees out. The little boy was again peeing into the lily pond, and the sun screen had not been closed for three weeks.
"Happy '3-Month Anniversary' babe," Ted said. He had been nuzzling beside Zeke, and had just moved to sit on Zeke's thighs, facing him. As the standing rule dictated, they were both nude.
"Happy anniversary, Luv," said Zeke. "You still happy?"
"Is the Pope Catholic? Is the Dalai Lama Buddhist? Do birds fly? Do fish swim? Of course I'm still happy! I've never been happier in my life! And you know why I'm happy, lover?"
" 'Cause ... uhhh ... combined, we have over a million dollars from the winnings? 'Cause we millionaires?" Zeke joked.
"No, bitch! I'm happy because ..."
¯I got you, babe, ¯
he sang the line from Sonny and Cher's song.
"Well, then, come here, mon cher, and give me that silver tongue of yours."
"I was thinking about giving you my cherry ass; whataya say, huh?"
"Well, with the way your squirming ass is making my dick feel, I just might fuck the shit outta ya, real soon!"
"Impossible!" Ted threw back at him. "I've learned from the internet how to clean myself out for you, and ... fuck as deep as you want, you won't find any shit there."
"Awwww, honey. You did that for me?" Ted nodded. "You know you don't have to." He nodded again. "I love your fuckin' me, and ... and ... and everything we do together. You're still virgin ... there! ... and I'm happy with that. I know that I'm real happy that your mouth's no longer virgin, but ..."
"But nothing!" Ted shot back. "Zeke, you've given yourself to me in every way possible except for making love to me, inside me. I'm ready now, and I want to give myself to you completely, no ... holes ... barred; pun intended!" They laughed. "And besides ... I'm being boiled like a lobster in here. Let's get out and go to bed."
This time, it was Zeke who said, "I thought you'd never ask."
Slowly, they stood up, kissed each other passionately, got out of the jacuzzi, and headed toward the bedroom.
"I've got a surprise for you, honey, " Zeke said as he nibbled Ted's ear.
"You're gonna get a Prince Albert?" Ted froze.
"Shit, no! My dick ain't getting' pierced for nobody! Not even you!"
"Awwwww, shucks! I wanted to hook a chain to it and lead you around and show off my property!" Ted teased.
"Welllllllll ...maybe! But in order for me to get a Prince Albert, you're gonna have to let me fuck you royally!"
"You got a deal, 'Prince'! Now ... what's the surprise?"
"I got something in the mail yesterday that I think you'll be happy about, and I waited 'till today, to surprise you with it."
"You ready for this?"
"Yeah ... I think so," Ted said, hesitating and frowning.
" 'Round trip tickets ..."
"Yeahhhhh??? For ...???" His eyes grew very attentive, questioning.
"... for two ... to Cairo and Luxor ... for a three-and-a-half week cruise on the Nile!"
"Awwww shit! No way!"
"Yes, way! Your ass is really mine, now, lover boy."
"I love you so much, Zeke."
"I love you, too, Ted."
"Let's go make mad, passionate love, Luv; okay?"
"Lead the way."
On the way to the bedroom, Zeke began humming to a Debbie Boone song, Ted joined in, and soon they stopped, hugged, then looked lovingly into each others' eyes, and began softly singing the words to each other.
¯You light up my life ¯
¯You give me hope ¯
¯To carry on ¯
¯You light up my days ¯
¯And fill my nights with song. ¯
¯It can't be wrong ¯
¯When it feels so right ¯
¯'Cause you ... ¯
¯You ... light ... up ... my ... life. ¯
"I love ya, Ted."
"I love ya, too, Zeke."
"I love ya more."
"I love YOU more."
"No, ya don't."
"Yes, I do."
"No ya don't."
"Yes, I do."
"NO, YA DON'T."
"Yes, I do. YES, I DO. YES, I DO!!!"
"Et cetra ... et cetra ... et cetra,"
(as the King of Siam used to say.)
That's all folks!
All ... that is ... until I get my arm (or something) twisted ... to write about ...
Ted and Zeke's