by Tim Mead
It was a busy week. Adam had to meet his classes and try to get to know the names of all his students. There were, of course, the inevitable preparations. As it turned out, Nigel Brewster wasn't the only colleague who wanted to welcome him: several came into his office to say hello or just stopped him in the hallways for a chat.
Thursday after his Lost Generation class there had been a department meeting. Donna Kasmaryk was no worse than other department heads he'd known, but department meetings were department meetings, and he disliked them. He'd never had any desire to get into administration, but he'd always thought he could conduct departmental business with fewer and briefer meetings.
Now it was Friday afternoon. He sat in his office, aware that most students and faculty members had already left to get a head start on the weekend. By 3:00 he suspected that he, Dr. Kasmaryk, and the department secretary were the only ones left in the building.
He could look forward to a weekend of reading, since none of those colleagues who'd said they'd like to have him to dinner "sometime" had issued a specific invitation.
Not for the first time since he'd moved to Colby, he was lonely. He missed Brian.
Oh, he still thought they'd been wise, personally and professionally, to split up. His feelings for Brian had clearly changed over their nearly fifteen years together. Things like Brian's crude language and general slobbishness around the house, his frequent farting and then laughing about it . . . . Adam had overlooked all that because Brian was a gorgeous, sexy big bear, and in most ways a caring guy. But his partner had gotten on his nerves more and more.
And it wasn't merely one-sided. Brian had accused him of being a neat freak, even going so far as to call him compulsive.
Living alone in Colby had the advantage that he could keep his condo neat, as he liked it, with no one to come home at the end of the day and mess it up. No more books and clothing strewn around. No more of Brian's size 11 shoes left in the kitchen or living room to trip over. No more balled up pieces of paper tossed in the general direction of the waste basket and left on the floor.
Still, he missed Brian's easy-going good nature, his companionship, and the sex, though that had cooled off in recent years.
Yes. Adam was lonely.
He needed to explore the local gay scene. The only gay men he'd met, however, were Jake and Jim, who were a couple, and Tom Nielsen, who had a partner. They'd mentioned the "Colby Queers," and Adam hoped someone would remember to invite him to their next get-together.
Meanwhile, what to do? Hadn't someone mentioned there was a gay bar in town?
On Saturday he did his week's grocery shopping, stopped some things off at the dry cleaner's, and did his laundry. In the afternoon he watched the local TV broadcast of Colby State playing Ball State away. From what he'd heard, football wasn't as big here as it had been in Morgantown. But he thought it might be fun to go to one of the home games. If he had someone to go with.
He made a pot of beef stew that afternoon, thinking that he'd get several suppers from it.
After the stew, with some crusty rolls he'd picked up at the supermarket and a glass of cabernet sauvignon, he was restless. He didn't want to spend the whole evening in the condo.
He logged onto the computer, checked his email, looked at some porn, and read the latest chapter of a story by Tinnean, one of his favorite writers of gay stories. Then he found the first chapter of a new story by Drew Hunt and read that. Well, okay, so online gay fiction isn't Faulkner, but some of it's pretty damn good!
Then he used Scroogle Scraper to see if there was a gay bar in Colby. Only one was listed, but he knew it. That is, he'd seen it as he'd been walking around downtown Colby.
About 9:00 he showered, put on clean jeans and a plain, dark-green shirt that Brian had said went well with his hair and eyes. He hadn't shaved since morning, but decided he didn't really need to do it again the same day. Maybe the scruffy look would be a nice change.
I shall wear my trousers rolled.
He walked from his condo to Nellie's, the bar.
Even though it was early, the place was busy. He was able to find a stool at the far end of the bar. The bartender, wearing black jeans and a black tee shirt that had "Nellie's" embroidered over the left pec, asked what he'd have. He ordered Jack Daniels with rocks.
The place was quieter than he'd have expected a university bar to be on a Saturday night. But he remembered that the legal drinking age in Ohio was 21, so that could explain the fact that the average age of the patrons was considerably higher. There were a few twenty-somethings of both sexes, but the other customers were mostly same-sex couples, predominantly though not exclusively male, engaged in quiet conversations over drinks.
Adam felt distinctly alone. Still, it was comforting, somehow, to have his drink and people-watch, knowing that he belonged with these folk.
Someone slid onto the stool next to him.
"Haven't seen you around here before, have I?"
Adam turned to look at the newcomer. Smiling back at him was a guy about his own size with bleached blond hair, a baby face, and brown eyes. At first glance he appeared to be about 17. After looking at the lines at the corners of his eyes, Adam decided he was more like 22 or 23.
He grinned at the boy. "That's one of the oldest pickup lines in the book. But surely you weren't trying to pick me up."
Unabashed, the boy said, "Sorry. That is an old line. But, yeah, I was trying to pick you up. And I haven't seen you here before."
Getting into things, Adam said, "Moi?" He put his hand on his chest. "You're trying to pick me up?"
At that point the bartender came up. "Hey, Blake, haven't seen you all summer."
"Yeah, been working. Just got in today."
"What'll you have?"
"I'll have what he's having," Blake said, gesturing toward Adam's drink, "unless it's Coke. But I'm guessing it isn't."
"One JD coming up," the barkeep said.
"So you've been away all summer. I could have become a patron here for the last three months."
Blake put up his hands in a surrendering gesture. "Okay, okay," he said, grinning. "But I know you weren't in here before last June. I'd have remembered."
"You're a regular here, I take it?"
"You could say that."
The barkeep returned with Blake's drink. He took a sip. "Nice. Haven't had Jack in a while. So you are new in town, aren't you?"
"I thought we'd established that."
"You've got to be a professor!"
Adam grinned. "And you say that because?"
"Because of the way you talk." Blake gestured toward Adam with his glass and took another sip.
Blake, looking quite innocent, said, "Shouldn't that be `burst,' professor?" Then he grinned.
Holding out his hand, the professor said, "I'm Adam."
The boy took the proffered hand, shook it, and said, "I'm Blake."
"Yes, I'd gathered that. Oh, shit, I do sound like a professor, don't I?"
He became aware that Blake was still holding his hand, rubbing the back of it with his thumb.
"You look and sound really good, Adam."
"Oh, well, I, uh . . ." It had been a long time since Adam had been so openly cruised. He wasn't used to it.
"You know what, Adam?"
"I'm more hungry than thirsty."
"You could probably get a burger or something," Adam said, cocking an eyebrow.
Blake snickered. "Yeah, the burgers here are okay. But I think you could satisfy my hunger better."
Blake looked at the bartender, who'd been watching them, and said, "Leave our drinks, Clay. We'll be back." He took Adam by the hand.
Before Adam knew what was happening, he was in the handicapped stall with his jeans around his ankles getting the best blow job he could ever remember. When he felt the climactic moment approaching, he put his hand on Blake's head and began, "I'm, uh, about—"
He got no further. Blake simply kept on doing what he was doing, and in moments Adam was blasting his load into the boy's throat.
He leaned against the partition, dizzy. Blake cleaned off his cock, pulled up his pants, tucked him back in, and zipped him up.
"Thanks, Adam. You've taken care of that hunger I mentioned. Copiously."
"But how about you? Don't you want me to . . . ?"
"No, thanks. As I said, you've given me what I needed."
As they left the restroom to return to the bar, Adam felt Blake's hand on his ass, his finger poking into the cleft. He thought he should be embarrassed, but he wasn't. It just felt too damned good to have contact with another man. In this case a very cute young man.
When they got back to the bar, Blake finished his drink with a gulp, gave Adam an affectionate kiss, said, "Thanks for the drink," and left.
Still a little foggy, Adam sat there, slowly finishing his drink. When Clay returned, Adam, not eager to go home, ordered another.
The place was filling up now, the noise level increasing. There were guys playing pool and others throwing darts in the back part. The booths and tables were mostly filled with happy people enjoying a drink and good company on a Saturday night.
Nice place! I'll have to come back. Maybe I'll run into Blake again. Maybe return the favor. He took a swallow of his drink. Miss Brian. No, I miss having a mate. Be nice to come here with my lover.
# # #
Adam went to sleep thinking of hot young Blake looking up at him from his squat, his eyes alight with pleasure as he sucked on Adam's happy cock.
The next morning, he decided he'd go to church. He'd driven past it several times since he'd moved to Colby and had made note of the hours of services on the marquee out front.
After sleeping in he got up, had a leisurely shower, shaved, breakfasted, and then dressed.
He slipped into a pew just before the procession started down the aisle. Brian had been a confirmed heathen, so Adam had had to go to church alone when they were living together. It was easier just to stay home, though he did miss it at times. It was good to be back. He had no trouble remembering the responses, and he felt almost as if he'd come home.
After the service was over, everyone stood to leave. Two guys in the pew in front turned. They'd shaken hands when the Peace had been passed, but now they welcomed him to the church. One was about six feet tall with short, dark brown hair, and green eyes. Great looking guy. Mid to late twenties. The other was about the same age, but shorter, more Adam's height, 5'8", with curly brown hair, hazel eyes, and a wiry build.
"Welcome to St. Mark's," the taller one said. "I'm Dave Cromer. And this is Micah Sutton. Are you new in town?"
"Yep. I'm Adam Craig. Just arrived here a couple of weeks ago."
The skin around Cromer's eyes crinkled. "Oh, yeah. I've heard about you. You're new in the English Department at Colby."
"How in hell, oops, how in the world did you know that?"
"The gay grapevine works very efficiently. You live in the same building with Adrian and Pinky, and you've met Jim Grant and Jake Handley."
"Uh huh. Nielsen, your neighbor."
"Oh, right. Someone told me Tom was called Pinkie. Something about his middle name. I've met him, you know, but not his friend."
Cromer glanced at Sutton and something seemed to pass between them.
"Adam, Micah and I are going to Applebee's. Would you like to join us?"
"Are you sure I wouldn't be horning in?" Idiot! Go for it! You've been wanting to meet more gay guys!
"We'd like to get to know you better, Professor," Micah said.
"In that case, I'd like to come with you. Or meet you there, since I have my car. And it's Adam, please."
They did in fact rendezvous at Applebee's, arriving there in time to get a booth without waiting. The bulk of the after-church crowd came in a little while later.
"So how long have you guys been together?" Adam asked.
Dave and Micah exchanged startled glances. Must be a new couple, Adam thought, and once again regretted that he was no longer part of a couple.
Dave grinned. "Actually, we're just friends."
Micah started laughing at the expression on Adam's face. "It's true. Dave's partner is Brody Cox."
"Oh." Adam felt his face heat. "That's what I get for assuming."
"No, that's okay. Brody isn't much of a church goer."
For a second Adam thought wistfully of Brian.
"Every other Sunday he visits his family, so Micah takes pity on my solitary state and has dinner with me."
"And what about you, Micah?"
"Well, you know I'm an English prof. What do you do?"
"I own a landscaping company," Dave said.
Adam nodded and looked at Micah.
"I work for a kitchen and bath renovator."
"And on the side he produces some of the handsomest furniture I've ever seen!" Dave added.
They were silent for a few minutes while they dug into their meals. Then Dave continued, "Jim and Jake must have mentioned the 'Colby Queers.' Brody and I became involved with them this past winter. How about I ask Adrian and Pinky to invite both of you to their next get-together?"
"I'd like that, thanks," Adam said.
Micah worried his lip. "I don't know. I'm not sure I'd fit in."
"Sure you would! It's a mixed group of men, and they're all very friendly!"
"Well . . . ."
"Good. That's settled. So. What are we having for dessert?"
# # #
That evening, mentally reviewing the day, Adam thought it was a shame that a hot guy like Micah didn't have a man in his life. Then he realized that Micah had only said he was single. Which didn't mean he didn't have a boyfriend, only that he didn't have a partner. Adam wondered what Micah's furniture was like. He could certainly use some bookshelves.
He sipped his nightcap.
Then he thought, Formica. What about Formica? Oh, yeah. Jake and Jim were telling me about a guy they knew who made beautiful furniture. They even mentioned his name was Micah. He's the guy they said might do my bookcases. I'll have to see how to get in touch with him.
Cute guy. Quiet. Great eyes. Greater ass!
He went to sleep seeing visions of Blake, Dave, and Micah, all naked, all stroking or licking his body.
Adam awoke the next morning with the sheets tangled. He was sweating, though the condo was cool. And he felt tired, as if he'd had a workout. Then he vaguely remembered that he'd had torrid dreams.
He took a cold shower, shaved, dressed, ate breakfast, and went to Memorial Hall for his Monday morning classes.
The first two went uneventfully. Since this was the fourth meeting of these groups, he was beginning to associate some of the names on the roll with faces in the classroom, particularly those who spoke up when given the chance.
He wasn't in the same room for the third of his morning classes. He stopped by his office to leave some books and pick up others, so it was just about time for class to start when he got to his classroom.
He went to the front of the room, took out the class list, his text, and his notes, and put them on the lectern. Just as it was time to begin, a student came in, shut the door behind him, and took a seat near the rear. He looked at Adam. Adam looked at him. Adam was surprised, and the boy appeared to be equally so. It was Blake!
Adam had trouble concentrating on his task of directing class discussion of the Whitman selections assigned for this meeting of his American Lit. survey. He kept flashing back to Saturday night, looking down at Blake, who was looking up at him, gauging his reaction to the blow job. Blake had been more than proficient at the task for which he'd been an eager volunteer. Adam remembered the boy's expertise and his own weak-kneed state after he'd come, the gentleness with which Blake had cleaned him up and even redressed him when it was over.
He tried not to let his eyes stray to Blake's as the discussion went on, but at times he couldn't help himself. Each time he looked at the beautiful blond boy, he found his gaze returned.
Well, of course he's looking at you. He's paying attention to the discussion you're leading.
But it wasn't just that. Adam was sure of it. Blake was looking at him. At Adam. Perhaps at the owner of the cock he'd sucked over the weekend. And with that thought, the professor's prick began to swell.
Oh, shit! Not now! Forget him. Think of Whitman!
". . . `man balls'?" A young woman in the second row was asking, "Does he mean what I think he does by that?"
Some of the class sniggered.
"And if he does," the serious brunette continued, "does that mean he was gay?"
"Class?" Adam asked.
"Well, duh!" responded another female student. "What else would he be talking about? And everybody knows Whitman was gay."
The discussion took off at that point, Adam's role becoming merely that of moderator, and he forgot about the hot blond at the back of the room.
When it was time to end things, however, he looked at the source of his earlier erection and said, "Blake, could I see you for a moment after class?"
The others had gathered up their bags and left. Blake came to the desk. He handed Adam a late admit slip.
"My summer job wasn't over until last weekend. So I have permission to begin the term late. I've got my books. I can borrow someone's class notes from last week. And I assume you have a syllabus for me."
Adam, still thinking about that episode in the men's room at Nellie's, was momentarily nonplussed.
He took a syllabus from his folder, along with a couple of other handouts, and gave them to Blake. Then he looked at the slip the boy had handed him. It said that Blake Bellamy had permission to enroll late.
Blake Bellamy. Nice name. He looks like a Blake Bellamy. But he's fifteen or more years younger than you, and he's your student. So get a grip!
"Blake, I don't have any problem with your registering late. I'm sure you can get yourself caught up. I just need you to understand that if I'd had any idea you were one of my students, I'd never . . . that is . . . we couldn't have done what we did this weekend."
The young man grinned. "Adam, er, Dr. Craig, I didn't have any idea who you were Saturday night. I can understand that me being in your class would complicate things if we were in a relationship. But chill, man. It was just a blowjob!"
"Um, well, yes. I'm glad you feel that way. Can I assume you won't go around talking about how you sucked off your prof?" He managed a weak smile.
"Look, professor, I know who I am. I don't need to stroke my ego by bragging about my sex life. Like I said, you can chill out."
Relieved, Adam sighed. Then he grinned. "Well, Mr. Bellamy, you give great head. But it can't happen again, and neither of us will mention it, right?"
"I've already promised I won't say anything about it. But let's agree never to say never. Maybe someday we can have a rematch. We'll both still be around next term."
Adam found himself hard again. Uppermost in his mind was escaping to his office without anyone's noticing, most of all Blake's.
"Oh, by the way," Blake said, "I'm going to be in your Lost Generation class, too. See you tomorrow afternoon." He grinned, waved, and left the room.
Adam wanted to tell him that the American literature survey was prerequisite for the Lost Generation, but Blake was gone. Oh, well, he thought, if the Registrar didn't make any problem about the prerequisite, why should I?
Holding his folder of notes and his fat text in front of his tented fly, Adam returned to his office.
One of the perks of being a gay university faculty member was getting to watch all the male eye candy on campus. But, though he'd been admiring all those hunky bods from the time he himself was a freshman, after becoming a faculty member he'd never allowed himself to get involved with one of his students. Blake Bellamy, however, could be a constant distraction, a constant temptation.
Get a grip, Craig! What you need is to find a man your own age and quit dithering about this twenty-something! Yes. Definitely. There's an active gay community in Colby. Be patient. Keep your eyes open. You could very well find a nice mature guy. "Mature"? Damn, that sounds ancient.
# # #
He left for Ann Arbor as soon as his last class was over on Wednesday morning, munching an apple once he'd gotten on I-75. It was a smooth trip using I-75, I-475, and US 23, which is also a four-lane, limited access highway. The 70 miles went quickly. Despite the busy traffic in Ann Arbor, the GPS device made easy work of finding the State St. establishment of Biggs and Lucarno, Rare Booksellers.
Parking, however, was another matter. He had to park several blocks away and walk back to the shop. The area seemed full of shops with appeal for the University clientele. He noticed two other rare and used book stores in the same neighborhood, both of them upstairs over other establishments. Tony Lucarno's place, however, was on the ground floor.
A bell tinkled as he entered. He was greeted by a young man of about six feet, gangly, with sandy hair and brown eyes.
"Hello. Can I help you?"
"Hi. I'm Adam Craig. I think Mr. Lucarno is expecting me."
"He certainly is, Dr. Craig. I'm Ted Danforth. Tony's with a customer right now, but he should be with you soon. Can I get you anything?"
"Call me Adam, please. And I'm good, thanks. Is it all right if I browse until Mr. Lucarno's finished?"
"Of course. Browsing's what we're all about. And let me know if there's anything I can do."
Adam smiled his thanks and moved off to investigate a set of bookcases with glass fronts. As he stood there, he heard a conversation coming from the rear of the store.
"You realize, Mrs. Spielman, that putting a new cover on the book won't increase its value very much."
"Yes, Tony, but I don't plan to sell it. I simply want to read it, to enjoy it, and I don't want it falling apart. Of course, if I could have it done with lovely boards, that would make it even more pleasant to hold and read."
"I understand. There are a couple of very good book restorers here in Ann Arbor. If your book were extremely valuable, I might recommend someone in Detroit or even Chicago." There was a pause. "I've written a couple of names and phone numbers on this card. Both individuals are available by appointment only. Either will do an excellent job, though you might be more comfortable with Esther Calderon."
"Thank you, Tony. You're always so helpful. You're a sweet boy."
"Always happy to be of service. Is there anything else I can do for you today?"
"No, dear. I'll let you get back to work. I think I heard someone come into the shop a minute ago."
Lucarno walked with Mrs. Spielman to the door. Then Adam heard Ted murmur something.
"Dr. Craig," Lucarno said, coming down the row between the bookshelves. "You found us!" He offered his hand.
"Hello, Mr. Lucarno," Adam said as they shook hands. "I had no trouble finding you. And please call me Adam."
"Okay, and I'm Tony. It's good to meet you at last."
"And you! I was just beginning to explore. You have a lot of goodies here. I love places like this. They even smell wonderful."
Tony chuckled. "'The incense of scholarship,' Reginald Hill called it. Or maybe in our case the incense of bibliophilia. You really are a bibliophile if you like our particular kind of must."
"Oh, I am!"
"Would you like a cup of coffee? Or tea?"
"No, thanks. Your young man asked if I needed anything, but I'm fine."
"Ted's a treasure. He's a grad student. Been working for me since he was a freshman. I don't know what I'll do when he gets his doctorate."
"Thanks, Tony. I heard that," Ted said, though he was unseen at the cash register.
"Just so you know, Teddy," Tony said. "Now, Adam, would you like to look around some more? I have several things that might interest you."
"I'd love to browse, but you've really piqued my interest with the copy of Stranger in Paradigms you mentioned."
Stranger was Stearns' last novel, published not long after his death in 1957. The first edition had sold out quickly and fifty years later copies were fairly rare. Stearns had been recognized as the last of the great novelists who came out of the First World War, so for the final few years of his life he'd been both a commercial and a critical success.
"Ted has it ready for you. Come to the back room with me, please."
They entered what was obviously Tony's office, but it was larger and less cluttered than Adam might have expected it to be. There, lying on a table, was the book. The colorful dust jacket appeared to be in good condition.
"May I pick it up?"
"Of course. I hope you won't mind putting these on, though." Tony handed him a pair of white cotton gloves.
Adam smiled. "I'd be disappointed if you didn't ask me to."
He looked the book over carefully. Though it had obviously been read, it was in excellent condition. There was some foxing, but that was inevitable. Then he remembered something Tony had said on the phone. He looked at the front endpapers.
There, on the flyleaf, was a handwritten inscription. In faded brown ink, it read:
Pace! I know Stearns wasn't your favorite of his crowd. I can't help thinking, though, that some of your criticisms come from pure contrariness -- because you know how much I like his novels. Still, you'll want this to complete your collection if for no other reason.
I know you'll read Stranger, and I suspect you'll be surprised by how much you like it, even though you'll probably never admit that to me.
Merry Christmas, Love!
"Any idea who `Intellect' and `Sonny Boy' are? Or were?"
"Haven't a clue."
"You said, as I recall, the book has a mysterious provenance."
"Maybe I stretched things a little. What I should have said is that I bought this from another bookseller who listed it online. Once I had the book in hand and saw the inscription, I called him. He said it came from the estate of a woman in Pennsylvania. Her name meant nothing to me. A Mrs. Vivian Clay. I've done only a cursory search, but couldn't find out anything about her on line."
"Now that's going to bug me until I find out who `Sonny Boy' and `Intellect' were."
"Does that mean you want the book?" Tony asked, smiling.
Adam grinned at him. "You knew I'd want it, especially with the inscription, didn't you?"
Tony smiled. "I thought you might."
They talked about the price. Tony quoted a figure that was just about the limit of what Adam had been prepared to pay before he saw the inscription. After seeing the note on the flyleaf, he'd have paid a good deal more.
Once they'd completed the transaction, Tony asked, "Adam, have you had lunch?"
"I had an apple in the car an hour or so ago. But that's often all I eat at noon."
"Well, I haven't had anything since breakfast. I wanted to be here when you arrived. While Ted's wrapping up the book, why don't you come along and have a bite to eat with me?"
More from a desire to know Tony better than from hunger, Adam agreed.
They ate at a Thai place only a couple of blocks from Tony's shop.
After they'd placed their order, Adam took a good look at the man sitting across the table from him. About his own age, Tony was an inch or two taller. Adam was surprised that, despite the Italian name, Tony had blue eyes and blond hair . . . hair that had a bit of gray at the temples and was beginning to thin. Still, he had a great smile, beautiful teeth, and his eyes . . . . How to describe them? Kind. Yes, they were kind eyes.
When asked about his hair and eye color, Tony explained that his father's family was originally from northern Italy, where blonds are common. Besides that, his mother had been of Danish extraction, so he came by his blondness honestly.
As they ate, they exchanged information about each other. Adam went quickly through his boyhood near Columbus, his university work, and his former teaching post. Then he told Tony briefly about Brian and that they'd split up.
Adam learned that he and Tony were about the same age. That Tony had been born in Lenox, Massachusetts in 1967, that he'd graduated from Michigan in '88. He'd majored in English but didn't want to teach. Harry Biggs, his roommate and lover, a philosophy major, had been in the same boat. So they combined small inheritances, borrowed some money, bought a failing bookstore and turned it into a used and rare book store. In the 90's they'd begun to offer some of their more select items on line.
Harry died of leukemia in 2002, and Tony had run the store more or less on his own since. Though he was quick to admit that Ted, who'd come to work for him not long after Harry's death, had been invaluable.
In the car on the way back to Colby, the carefully-wrapped book on the passenger seat beside him, Adam could hardly remember what he'd had for lunch. But he was determined to find out who "Intellect" and "Sonny Boy" were.
He also wondered if the relationship between Tony and Ted was more than that of employer and employee.
To Be Continued.
Thanks, as always, to Drew, Tinn, and Mickey. Special thanks to Terry O for background information about Ann Arbor in this and subsequent chapters.
Emails encouraged at
If you do write, please put the title of the story in the subject line so I'll know it isn't
spam. Thanks. --Tim