by Tim Mead
Back at the office in January, it took all of two lunch hours for Macey to tell Jeff about her holidays with her family and about the added pleasure of having Captain George with them.
On Wednesday evening of that week, after calling first, he took his tax documents to Stan and Doug's house after supper. He also gave Doug, who answered the door, the manila envelope Phil had wanted Stan to have. The one marked "Ex Cathedra." Doug apologized for not inviting him in, but he and Stan were just about to leave for St. John's where a retired English professor who was new to the community was going to talk about some of John Donne's poems. He invited Jeff to come along.
Jeff was about to say he had no interest in Donne's poems, that he'd had more than enough of that in a Brit Lit survey class he'd taken at FSU. When he remembered that Doug was a former English prof, he changed his mind and simply thanked his friend and said he had other plans.
"Tell Stan to call me if he has any questions."
Doug smiled. "Actually, I'll probably be doing your tax forms. With Stan's oversight, of course." He smiled. "It's amazing how many useful things I've learned to do since I gave up teaching."
The two hugged, and Jeff walked back home, enjoying the cool January evening.
The next day Macey stopped by his office at lunch time.
"Wow!" she exclaimed, indicating Jeff's computer monitor. "That's a great picture of Agatha. Did you take it?"
"No, that's one of a batch Ian took when he was researching for his paper. I think it makes great wallpaper. And I've got a dozen or so other shots if I want to rotate them."
Later, as they were eating Carolina Chicken Salads at Ruby Tuesday's, Macey, who had by now brought Jeff completely and thoroughly up to date on her holiday with George, said, "Um, Jeffie?"
"What about him?"
"I've only seen him once, but from what you told me, I'm guessing there's something he's more interested in than your car."
"Where did you meet Ian?"
"That night we took Agatha to the car show."
"Oh, right." He thought for a moment and then continued, "Mace, he's a healthy nineteen-year-old. I hope there are a lot of things in his life that are more important than an old Auburn. Or any old car."
"Mmm. Hmmm.," she said, nodding. "And I'd bet one of `em's you."
"Really! Come on! I'm nine years older than he is. That makes me an oldie by his standards. Not a wrinklie, I hope, but old." He thought for a moment. "And what makes you think he's gay?" He didn't think he'd outed Ian to her.
"I don't know. I'm just guessing."
"Well, you can keep on guessing. But I can tell you that Ian has never done anything to suggest that he's interested in me other than as the owner of a car he found fascinating enough to write a paper about."
"Okay. Just be aware. You wouldn't want to break his heart." She took a bite of roll. After a pause while she chewed and swallowed it, she asked, "Did I tell you George has a gay brother?"
That Saturday Jeff decided to wash the cars. The Auburn didn't need it, but the Subaru and the BMW did. Since it was a chilly January morning, he got a haircut and did his weekly shopping, stopping at the dry cleaner's as well.
After lunch he put on his working-outside jeans and his oldest sneakers, backed the cars out, and went to work.
The sunshine felt warm, but not too hot. As he puttered with the hose, a big sponge, and finally old bath towels to wipe the cars down, he was thinking that one of the benefits of living in Florida was that cars didn't get dirty too often. In Illinois there was the problem of salt all winter. And it was too cold to wash your car yourself, so it was necessary to keep running them through car washes. The only time he was free to do that was on weekends, so the lines there were long.
Here in Florida there was never a salt problem. The juice processing plants in Lake Polk and Cypress Haven produced some soot when they were "cooking" the oranges as the locals called the pasteurization process. And that settled on cars, patio furniture, anything left outside. But the biggest danger to a clean car was mis-aimed lawn sprinklers, often set to run while the homeowner was asleep or at work -- and thus never re-aimed properly. For some reason rainwater seldom left a clean car looking spotted, but water from irrigation systems often did.
As he worked on the Subaru, he inspected it for signs of incipient rust. His frequent trips to the car wash up north had paid off, however, and the Forester looked great. He'd thought that perhaps he should sell it, since he now had the BMW. But he didn't really need the money. And he was attached to the car. Besides, he told himself, you never know when you might want to haul something that won't go in the trunk of the Beemer.
He had just re-coiled the hose and was wiping his hands on one of the towels when he heard a vehicle with a big motor and a rumbling exhaust pull into the drive. He turned to see Paul Moretti's purple pickup.
Uh oh! Wonder what he's doing here.
Jeff watched as the man stepped down out of his truck.
"Magnaflow?" he asked.
Paul looked surprised. "Yeah. How did you know?"
Jeff grinned. "Just a guess really. I'm still learning. And I pick up a little more each time I go to the car meet downtown. My friend Sam has a Magnaflow exhaust system on his 4 4 2."
"Yeah, that's right. He does." Paul smiled and held out his hand.
Jeff took it briefly.
Something about Moretti looked different. And then Jeff realized what it was. The three-day stubble was gone. Paul's face now sported a trimmed mustache and goatee but was otherwise clean shaven. The black curl still dangled over the forehead, and the dark eyes were as mesmerizing as always. As Jeff had reason to know, there was a sizable cock behind the bulge in Paul's khakis, but he would not allow himself to look there.
How could someone you didn't like much give you a hardon? Jeff tried not to sound churlish when he asked, "What brings you here on a Saturday afternoon? I can tell by your clothes that you haven't been providing concierge service."
Damn! The guy is hot.
"Not exactly. But Pop did ask me to stop by."
"Oh! Well, I'm too wet to ask you inside. Why don't I get us a beer and we can sit on the screen porch?"
Jeff excused himself, went to the kitchen, and came back with two longnecks. He was pretty sure a car guy would want to drink his beer from the bottle.
They sat. Paul held his bottle to clink with Jeff's.
He's being awfully friendly. Wonder what he wants?
You can probably guess what he wants, another internal voice answered.
Paul took a swallow. Jeff couldn't help watching as the other man's Adam's apple bobbed.
"That's good. Thanks." Paul set his bottle on a side table and leaned forward. "Pop asked me to see if you had any interest in selling the Auburn."
"Do you and your dad collect classic cars?"
"We have a few. They're mainly muscle cars and hot rods, though. But we have a customer who might be interested."
"We only see him during race week in Sebring. But he has a big collection, and he likes the real classics, cars from the late twenties and thirties. Sedans, roadsters, and so on, not cars that have been turned into street racers or rods."
"He emailed the other day and asked Pop to be on the lookout for a mid-thirties Auburn." Paul smiled, almost dreamily. "He doesn't want the Boattail Speedster, which would be my choice. He's looking for a Phaeton. In fact, when he described what he'd really like, it seemed like your car would be a perfect match."
"Is there any chance he knew Uncle Phil and had seen or knew of Agatha?"
Paul shook his head. "I really don't know. I suppose that's possible, but if so why wouldn't he have just gotten in touch with you?"
"Well, anyway, sorry to make you waste a trip, but the car's not for sale."
"Jeff, a '35 Phaeton not nearly as nice as yours sold recently for a hundred and fifty thou. Yours'd bring considerably more than that."
"Don't you have the urge to move on to something else? You've gotten to drive it, take it to a couple of local shows. You could get a nice muscle car or, better still, find another thirties classic and let us restore it for you."
The idea of restoring a classic suddenly caught his imagination. But part with Agatha? No way. Not even if he could.
Jeff took a swallow of beer. "Paul, I don't think I'm allowed to sell the Auburn."
"I'd have to check with my lawyer. But I think under the terms of my uncle's will I have to keep the car and show it a specified number of times a year."
"Oh. Well . . . if you're interested in selling, you could check with your lawyer." He grinned. "That would be Stan Mason, right?"
"Yeah. You know him?"
"Jeff, everyone knows who he is. What happened to him and his lover." He made a circle with his forefinger and thumb and ran it up and down the sweating neck of the bottle. "Those guys are real hotties, even if they're older, wouldn't you say?"
"Oh, yeah!" Jeff said. And instantly wished he hadn't.
Paul leaned back in his chair. He used his thumbnail to peel part of the label from the bottle.
"If you find out that you are able to sell the car and are ever of a mind to do it, call me, okay? I don't know how long the guy I told you about is willing to wait, but we can always find you a buyer if you want to sell."
"I'll let you know, but don't hold your breath."
Paul took another swallow of beer, set the bottle down, leaned forward, and, resting his forearms on his knees, clasped his hands together.
"On a different subject . . . ."
"Turn about's fair play."
"What? I don't understand."
"Simple, dude. The last time we hooked up, I drilled you. I'm just sayin' I'm willing to return the favor. What do you think?"
"God! You've got nerve!"
Paul's face showed innocent surprise, but Jeff was sure he was faking.
"Nerve? What do you mean?"
"When we hooked up, as you put it, you were here to service my car. I don't recall doing anything to invite you to fuck me."
"You never said to stop. And from the noises you were making while I had my cock up your ass, I'd say you enjoyed it. A lot."
"But . . . I . . ." Jeff sputtered.
"Why don't we have a little sex in the afternoon? Come to think of it, from what I saw between your legs last time, it wouldn't be so little." Paul's grin. Devilish. Diabolical.
Still, there was something about Moretti's eyes that held his attention, something . . . compelling. His palms began to sweat. And, worse, his cock began to chub up.
"Uh, have I ever given you any indication that I'm interested in you sexually?"
"Apart from letting me fuck your ass you mean?"
"Okay. There was that. I still don't know why I let you do that. But it isn't gonna happen again. I don't know what a guy like you sees in someone like me anyway."
"Oh, come on, Jeff. You're adorable. And so fuckin' hot. Believe me, I don't offer up my ass to just anybody."
"Um, thanks, I suppose. But it's still not gonna happen. I don't wanna have sex with you, okay?" Jeff stood up. "So, thanks for telling me about the guy who's interested in the Auburn. But it's not for sale. And I'm not available either."
Paul stood. "Okay, I'll pass along the word about the car. But even though you say you're not available, you're definitely interested."
"How do you know that?"
Paul's smile was even more diabolical when he pointedly looked at Jeff's very obvious hardon. "See for yourself, dude."
Jeff could feel himself blushing. His ears were hot and his face tingled.
"There's, uh, there's someone else, okay? I don't really like you, you know? I don't like to be treated like a rent boy. The most important thing, though, is that I've got a guy in my life. And he's all I need."
"From the looks of the rod in your jeans, I'm inclined to doubt that, Jeff. And I suppose the someone else is Sam Dudek. But you want to be careful with him."
"I'll be careful to do right by him, to honor our friendship."
"Yeah, yeah. But Sam's gonna want to cover up your relationship. It might be bad for business."
"I think you'd better go."
"Okay. Thanks for the beer. And if you decide to sell the Auburn, give Pop or me a call. You have our number."
Jeff stood rooted where he was until he heard the big V/8 in the Ford fire up.
Then he flopped into one of the twin recliners and took a deep breath.
What the fuck's with Moretti? What's he really after? My bod? I've never been that attractive. Could he think I'm rich and would make a good catch? Probably not. He and his father have a good business going there in Sebring, and I'm sure neither one of them's hurting for money. Jeff chuckled. The joke would be on him if he is a gold-digger. (Are there male gold-diggers?) He may think I inherited everything Buddy and Phil had. And I would be rich if that were the case. As it is, Phil left me comfortable. But the house and the Auburn came with lots of strings.
Speaking of strings, I wonder if I could sell Agatha. Not that I'd want to. But I should ask Stan about what might happen if I had to move away because of my job. Hope that won't happen soon. It's getting interesting here . . . with Sam and all.
Maybe Moretti's just a born troublemaker. Some people are just plain . . . . Mean's the word my grandmother would have used.
The case clock in the entry struck five. Since he was to pick up Sam at a little before six, he hurried upstairs to shave and shower.
As always when he thought about Sam, Mr. Happy perked up. But then Mr. Happy had no taste in men. He'd shown an interest earlier that afternoon when Paul had been there, too. He soon wilted, however, when Jeff resolutely ignored him while showering.
The plan was to go to Arpeggio for supper and then on to a swing/jazz concert sponsored by the Lake Polk Arts Guild.
Jeff put on a fresh blue Oxford button-down with crisp khakis and his cordovan loafers. He wasn't sure whether he should wear a jacket or not, so he threw his navy blazer in the back seat of the BMW.
Sam was sitting on the Dudeks' front porch when Jeff pulled up. He, too, was wearing khakis and loafers, but he'd selected a pale yellow long-sleeve shirt.
When he got in the car Sam reached over with his left hand and clasped Jeff's right. Jeff had picked up on Sam's apparent reluctance to show any signs of affection in public. But the flash of those gray eyes telegraphed heat. Heat only the two of them were aware of.
"You're not wearing a jacket?" Jeff asked, casually.
"Nope. Some of the older gentlemen may be. And guys often do when classical music is on the program. But this is a pop concert, and we'll be fine."
Jeff chuckled. "Pop music my ass! Swing was pop music for our grandparents."
"I get your point, but you get mine, too, don't you?"
"Yeah, sure. I guessed right. No jacket and tie for a swing concert."
"I saw the blazer in the back seat, Jeff."
"Oh, that's just in case it's chilly when we come out."
"If you're cold when we get out of there, let me know. I think I can take care of that problem."
"Then I'll probably be cold. Did you take care of the reservations?"
"That's good, `cause we're here."
Once they were seated, they asked for glasses of the house chianti they'd enjoyed the last time they were at Arpeggio. The waitperson brought bread and poured herbed oil onto a plate for dipping while they studied the menu.
"Ohh, man! I want to order everything I see here," Jeff groaned.
"True! I've been eating here ever since they opened, and I've never sampled any of their pastas or pizzas."
"I keep thinking I can have pasta at home and pizza anywhere. So I always order a meat or fish entrée."
"You wanna change that and order pizza? Or pasta?
Sam grinned. "Sounds tempting, but the Veal Sorrentino looks really good. I think I'll have that."
Jeff looked back at the menu. He was tempted to have the Chilean sea bass, but he didn't want to blow fish breath at Sam all evening. So he asked for the marinated grilled pork chops with mashed potatoes and asparagus instead.
They gave their order to the twenty-something woman who was their waitperson. Barely over five feet tall, she had dark eyes and black hair pulled back into a bun. She wore the same black and white uniform the male personnel wore. Jeff admired her nice but not overly-large breasts and then congratulated himself for noticing. A female friend once told him she finally figured out he was gay because he never looked at her breasts.
Then he looked back at Sam and was reminded once again why female breasts were a matter of only casual interest to him. He wished the concert were over and that he were alone with Sam. He'd like to take down Sam's hair and . . . . Well, no point in thinking about that now. They were in a public place.
"So, um, Sam. Anything new this week in your life? How was business?"
"Business was damn slow. We had some people bringing back gifts to exchange or get credit for. But after that it was a dead week."
"Sorry about that."
Sam shrugged. "Nothing new about it. Folks are still recovering from the holidays. All those home improvement projects they swore they'd do can wait until after all the bowl games are over."
"Let's hope they don't put them off until after the Super Bowl."
"Amen to that." He pointed to the last piece of bread. "You want that?"
"No, help yourself."
Sam tore the bread into two pieces and put one of them on Jeff's bread plate. "Just in case you change your mind." He dipped the remaining piece in the herbed olive oil and munched it. "Do you know Bill Parsons?"
"I don't think so."
"Well, he was one of the guys who came to Phil's funeral. He has a '70 GTO."
Sam grinned. "Yeah."
"I remember the car, but I'm afraid I don't remember Bill. He wasn't around when I looked it over at the first car show I went to."
"Yeah, that's a problem we need to address. We all know we should stick near our cars in case somebody comes along with questions. And just to meet new people. But we all know each other and most of us only see one another monthly at those shows. So we tend to congregate and get caught up."
"I really think if you're trying to make people interested in the cars and in your club . . ."
"Our club. You're a member, too."
"Okay, our club. Do we ever have meetings except on the last Saturday of the month?"
"A couple of times a year."
"Then I think I'll raise that issue. Will that make me unpopular?"
"Not really, since we've all talked about it privately."
"Okay. So what about Bill Parsons?"
"He's got a new car. A '72 Road Runner. It's really cool. Beautiful resto-mod. Doesn't have a hemi, but he'd like to find one and drop it in."
"What color is it?"
"Lemon Twist yellow with black accent marks on the rear quarter panels."
"Is that an original color?"
"Yep. The car's been repainted, but it's the same color Mopar put on it out of the factory."
"Why do you call it MoPar? Isn't the `Cuda a Plymouth?"
"The Chrysler Corporation began using the name Mopar in the twenties for its factory-built accessories and replacement parts. Just as GM used Delco and Ford used FoMoCo. But the Mopar name has been in continuous use and I don't think the others have."
Jeff nodded. "Okay."
"But car guys today use Mopar to designate the parent company to distinguish it from the Chrysler brand of car."
"I get it. Thanks for explaining. If I have the right image in mind, those early 70's Road Runners are beautiful cars."
"Oh, yeah, they are. Like I think I've said to you, I'd part with the Olds if I could find a `Cuda from that era with a Hemi."
"Are you actively looking?"
"Not really. A car like that would either need a lot of work or it would be too expensive for me."
"Well, we can hope you'll luck out someday."
"Jeff, have you ever collected anything?"
"Not really. Why are you asking?"
Sam shrugged. "When the bug bites you, even if you've got a nice car, you dream about something else. Something better."
Jeff thought briefly of Phil's dildo collection. He picked up the piece of bread Sam had put on his plate, dipped it, and ate it. After he'd swallowed, he said, "I guess I can understand that. But tell me this. Do you dream about replacing your Olds with a `Cuda, or would you keep the Olds if you found the right `Cuda?"
"Hopefully I'd keep the Olds. I'd really hate to part with it. But I might have to sell it to help pay for the `Cuda."
"I can just hear my mother saying something snarky about men and their toys. But I think I get what you're saying."
"Okay, forgetting about the Auburn for a minute, what would you really, really like to have?"
"Oh, gee! I've never really thought about not having the Auburn. Not since it became mine. Before that . . . well, you understand. I never thought about it at all."
Just then their entrees arrived and the two busied themselves with food for a few minutes.
Then Sam said, "But, Jeff, you've ridden around in Agatha with Phil and Buddy for years. And I'm sure you've looked at pictures of cars. If you could add one to your collection, what would it be?"
"Sam, I can't collect cars. The Auburn is financed by Phil's estate. But there's no money there for buying more cars. And on what I make there's no way I could start collecting classic cars."
"Okay, I get that. But humor me. What would you like if you had the money?"
"I haven't done any `research' on that. But what I'm attracted to are the big sedans and roadsters of the late twenties and thirties with the long hoods. A Packard or a Cadillac or even a Duesenberg."
Sam took a taste of his veal and closed his eyes for a moment in appreciation.
"I can see your problem. You really have expensive taste. But if we can't own, we can always admire."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, there are concours d'elegance on Charlotte Island and in Palm Beach every year. And there's a big classic and muscle car auction in Kissimmee coming up soon. We could try to go to some of those."
"Are they on weekends?"
"Cool. Let's think about that."
They finished their entrees, chatting about this and that. Then Sam set down his wine glass and looked at Jeff, who, as always, found Sam's gray eyes irresistible.
"I hear you had company this afternoon," he said.
"I did, as a matter of fact. How'd you know?"
"Oh, the usual. Someone came into the store and said that Paul Moretti's truck was parked in your driveway." Sam paused. "He said he didn't see you and Paul anywhere but your cars were in the drive, too."
"Jesus, Sam! I'm glad I wasn't doing anything risqué or anything. There really aren't any secrets in this town, are there?"
Jeff loved the crinkle around Sam's eyes when he smiled.
"No. In a little country town like Lake Polk, everybody knows everybody else's business." He took a piece of bread and dipped it into the olive oil. "And Paul's truck is hard to miss. You'll notice that I haven't asked what he was doing there."
"I commend your discretion," Jeff said, feeling rather pleased with himself.
Sam looked hurt.
"But," Jeff hastened to add, "he came uninvited and I listened to what he had to say and then sent him packing."
"Oh." Sam sounded relieved, but his face still looked puzzled.
"He wanted to know if I was interested in selling the Auburn."
"Surely he doesn't want to buy it."
"No, he said a long-time customer had emailed his dad saying he was looking for a mid-thirties Auburn sedan or phaeton."
"So what did you tell him? You don't mind my asking, do you?"
"Not at all. I told him I wasn't interested in selling Agatha and that under the terms of Phil's will I probably couldn't anyway."
"And how did he react?"
"He said to let him know if I changed my mind."
Jeff was not going to tell Sam that he'd also had to reject a different kind of proposition from the dark and tempting Moretti.
When the bill came, Jeff insisted on taking care of it since Sam was springing for the tickets. Phil had been a patron of the Lake Polk Arts Guild, and Jeff still received their mailings. He knew that tickets for most of their concerts were $25 for non-members and $20 for members. He didn't know whether Sam was a member or not, but figured the ten bucks' difference didn't matter.
"Jeff, I didn't have to pay for these tickets. Or at least the cost came out of the business. We always get four season tickets for the Guild's concert series."
"Machts nichts. You're providing the tickets, so I'm getting this."
Sam threw up his hands in a gesture of defeat. "Okay. Thanks." He paused. "Do you know German?"
"No, one of my college roommates used to say that all the time."
Once they were in the car, Sam said, "Jeff, I'm just going to mention this and then we'll drop the subject, okay?"
Puzzled, Jeff said, "Okay."
"It's about Paul."
"What about him?"
"He and his dad are really good at what they do. And I understand that you'll need to take the Auburn there for service. Otherwise you'd have to go to Waltersburg or Tampa."
"I sense a but coming."
"Yes. Paul is not somebody you'd want to have anything to do with on a personal level. He's trouble."
"Now that you've said that you want to drop the subject?"
"Okay. And if it's any comfort to you, I think the guy's creepy. Hot, but creepy."
"Don't be fooled by his physical appeal. Just remember the creepy part."
It was only a little over a mile from Arpeggio down Highway 60 to the Arts Guild's building with its small concert hall, so there wasn't time for any further conversation before they arrived.
Jeff wondered what might have transpired between Sam and Paul Moretti, but he'd been warned not to ask. He figured Sam would tell him in his own good time.
Jeff woke up. Still dark. Strange bed. Hard cock in his ass crack.
But Sam wasn't awake and Jeff's bladder wasn't killing him, so he snuggled closer.
Last night's concert had been better than he had expected. Music of the 30's, 40's, and 50's wasn't exactly his thing. But the band had been very good. There were three guys on sax, one each on trumpet, trombone, piano, bass, and drums. The sax player who did the talking also played clarinet, flute, and on one number, either a trumpet or a cornet. Jeff wasn't sure which.
He and Sam had been almost the only people their age in the audience. During intermission they had bumped into Sam's parents. But most of the people were even older than the senior Dudeks. They sang along with nearly all of the songs.
Jeff was surprised to find that he was familiar with many of the melodies, though he couldn't often come up with the lyrics.
Still, it was fun. Lake Polk, or Cypress Haven for that matter, didn't have much in the way of live entertainment. So, even though the band played stuff mostly from before the rock and roll era (though there were tributes to Elvis and The Beatles), they were good musicians playing great oldies . . . .
Sam grunted, hunched his pelvis forward, and then remained still.
Which reminded Jeff of their sex after the concert. They'd gone to a reception (wine and nibbles) afterward so Sam could schmooze with customers.
When Jeff took him back to his apartment behind the Dudek home, Sam had, of course invited him for the night. Jeff had conveniently put his bag with necessities and a change of underwear and socks on the floor of the backseat of the BMW.
Their sex had been gentle and sweet. Although both men were "verse," as the boys on 1G5G called it, Jeff had come to believe that Sam enjoyed "taking" even more than he did. So, after a long time in which they nuzzled and kissed and licked each other, followed by a 69 session in which he was on the bottom, he began to finger Sam's hole.
Sam's enthusiastic response had been a more than adequate invitation. So Jeff had opened the bedside drawer which he knew contained condoms and lube and helped himself to both.
Sam's vocal responses to having his ass licked and probed by Jeff's tongue were enough to make Jeff happy Sam's apartment was separate from the Dudek seniors' home.
Jeff couldn't think of many things finer than being able to eat out Sam's perfect little derrière, but eventually Sam was begging him for more, begging to be fucked.
Gently, carefully, and slowly, so as to prolong the experience, Jeff gave his lover what they both wanted.
The cock in his ass crack began to slide up and down.
"Good morning, Sam."
"Whatcha got in mind?"
"Sam Jr. is looking for something?"
"Oooh, yeah. He sure is."
"Well wrap him up and turn him loose!"
When they were through, they both went back to sleep. Jeff knew Sunday was the only day of the week when Sam could sleep in. He was quite content to miss early church – to miss church altogether for that matter – so his friend could have some sack time. At that moment he couldn't think of anything he'd rather be doing.
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