STANDARD WARNING: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to individuals, living or dead, is pure coincidence. Do not read this story if you are offended by man-to-man romance or sex. Do not read if you are underage according to the laws in the country, state/province, county, city/town/village or township where you live. There is sex between males. You have been warned!
Copyright 2001 by Nick Archer.
Permission is granted to Nifty Archives, ASSGM, and gaywritings,
to post one copy. No part may be copied, reproduced, republished,
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By Nick Archer
Marty thought to himself, Im like a bee buzzing around a flower. Or perhaps a fly buzzing around shit is a more apropos comparison.
It was the Sunday night of the Memorial Day weekend, and he was cruising around Boys Town looking for Vince again. He just couldnt get enough of Vince. Sure, Marty knew it was all a facade. He knew it was all a carefully constructed image to get and maintain customers. Still, he wanted more. Marty admitted to himself ruefully that Vinces tactics had worked.
He saw two figures enter the gyros shop at the corner of Belmont and Clark, and he thought one was Vince. At least, from the back it looked like Vince.
Frantically, he looked for a parking spot, but of course, it was quite impossible. So he parked in The Century parking garage. It would cost him, but perhaps it would be worth it.
As he descended the ramps of the mall, he told himself: Youre a crazy bastard, Martin. Youre chasing after a hustler. You are in love with a street kid. Its insane.
And yet, he kept walking.
"You have some yogurt sauce on your chin," Scott pointed out to Vince.
"Thanks, Kit." Vince swiped at it with a napkin, then crumpled it.
"What, Viv?" It was their private joke, Vince was Vivian, the Julia Roberts character in Pretty Woman, and Scott was Kit.
"Are you gonna start hiding the rent money in the toilet tank?"
Just then, Marty walked in the gyros shop. He entered because it offered shelter from the relentless drizzle. His nostrils detected the scent of lamb meat and garlic and cucumbers and his stomach growled in response. He wasnt really hungry, but he ordered a cheeseburger anyway. Then, he recognized the two young men at the table.
"Hey! Marty!" Vince greeted him a little too enthusiastically. "Back so soon? You remember Scott."
Marty shook his hand limply. Scott had a look in his eyes that reminded him of puppies that were about to be euthanized at the Humane Society.
"Were just about done here, then maybe we can take a look at your car again."
My car? Marty thought. Is it some kind of code? After Marty thought about it, he realized that Vince was responding to a public situation. Even though many of the shopkeepers knew who he was and what he did for a living, he still insisted on maintaining his image. Well, thats what he gets paid for.
Marty scraped a chair across the linoleum and straddled it, with the back of the chair to his chest. The burger was juicy and delicious even without condiments. In a short time, they crumpled the paper wrappers, placed them on the plastic tray and Scott dumped it in a trash bin.
"Do you mind if I bring my drink in your car?" Scott asked.
It struck Marty as odd for a street kid to be asking if he could bring his drink in his car. At least he has manners.
"Where are you parked?" Vince asked.
"In The Century garage."
The two younger men followed him into The Century and up the elevators to the fifth level. The trio paused at Cignal, a very trendy mens clothing store to browse.
"Can I help you?" A very thin, gay man asked in a nasal voice.
"Were just looking," Vince said cheerfully.
"Well, were about to close." Everything about the sales clerk oozed attitude; his posture, his facial expression and his voice.
"Listen, bitch, I make more money in a week than you do in a year."
"Dont make me call security."
"You work on commission?"
"I dont see where thats any...."
"You just lost a big fucking sale. Big mistake."
Marty had a grudging admiration for Vinces performance.
As he unlocked the car, Marty asked, "So where can I drop you off, Scott?"
"On Aldine. Ill show you how to get there."
Vince gave Scott a confidential wink, and started his performance. "Scotts homeless. He really has no place to go."
"Im sorry to hear that."
"We thought he could come with us."
The smile vanished from Martys face. "Well, you thought wrong."
"Scott is underage, for one thing. And the thought of having two hustlers in my house at the same time doesnt strike me as very smart or safe. Ill probably end up a headline in the Sun-Times."
They protested at the same time. "No, not true." "Wait a fucking minute...."
"Besides, I have plans for tomorrow afternoon."
Vince spoke up, "Come on, Marty. Its cool. Were not going to roll you. Scott just needs a place to crash."
Marty shook his head.
"Ok, stop. Well get out here." Wherever here was. Marty was lost.
Before he could grab them, they were both out of the car. Vince strutted around the front of the car to the drivers window.
Vince unleashed his best acting skills. His face wore a look of concern and his voice gentle. "Look, man. Scotts like a little brother to me. Hes going through a tough time right now. Hes really a great kid. Hey you get two for one tonight. Im having a sale because I like you. You dont even need a coupon."
Marty chuckled for the first time and relaxed. "Im not going to have sex with Scott. Not that hes not attractive, but hes too young."
"Cool, man, thats OK. Just like to play it safe, and I cant blame you. He does have a cute little bubble-butt, doesnt he?" Vince licked his lips.
Marty was faltering. Vince had put on such a show. And Marty wanted him again. He was more than willing to pay, but Vince didnt bargain on a third wheel. But there was something so endearing about Vince and his concern about Scott, even if it was an act. Vince was going through a great deal of effort to see to Scotts welfare. Finally, Marty relented.
"Ok, fine. Now, where are we? Show me how to get back to Lake Shore Drive."
Martys microwave worked overtime reheating leftovers. Scott was inhaling vast quantities of food. At least I wont have to clean out the refrigerator, Marty thought. Scott sat in the kitchen, wrapped in a blanket. His uncombed hair was still damp from the lengthy shower he had just taken. Vince sauntered into the kitchen wearing only his boxers. He patted Scott on the shoulder.
"You clean up real good, kid."
Scott grinned. "Thanks, Viv." They laughed at their private joke.
When Scott had eaten his fill, Marty showed him to one of the unoccupied bedrooms, where he wrapped himself in yet another blanket and promptly fell asleep. Marty watched his face that was so youthful and untroubled in sleep. Marty thought he looked like a giant cocoon. He is a cocoon, Marty thought. He is a young man waiting to break out of his cocoon. But will he be a butterfly or a moth when the metamorphosis is over?
Vince was waiting for him in the master bedroom. He took Martys hands and looked him directly in the eyes. Then, he stood on his tiptoes and gave Marty a long, passionate kiss.
Marty grinned. "What was that for?"
"For trusting us. Not many people do."
"Just dont break my trust."
Vince shook his head ever so slightly.
"Get up, Jake! Get your butt in the shower and upstairs! Move it!"
He pulled the pillow over his head and groaned. "Oh, man! Why do I have to?"
"Were going to a Memorial Day ceremony."
"You and your educational field trips." He rolled away from Matt. "Its raining. I want to stay in bed."
Matt gritted his teeth. "As long as youre living here, you play by my rules. Now, get your ass out of bed! Now!"
Jake glared at Matts back as he ascended the stairs.
The morning was cool, damp and foggy. The rain had slowed to drizzle. Their field trip had been Matts idea, of course. He drove the Jeep to a cemetery in Steger, which was a short drive from Park Forest. The boys alternated between whining about being dragged out of bed, and pestering Matt about where they were going.
"Its a short ceremony and its outside. Thats why I wanted you to wear your raincoats and bring umbrellas."
They had to park a distance from the gravesite and walk the narrow, winding lane that was lined with cars. Their destination was a large, white canvas awning.
"Thank you for coming," a priest greeted them as soon as the five were seated in metal folding chairs. "We are here to celebrate and remember the life of Allan Schindler."
Two readers stood behind music stands about ten yards apart. They read from a script back and forth in rapid succession. It was obvious that they had practiced their script before. Brian scanned the other audience members and correctly guessed that they were the only kids that morning.
"Allen Schindler grew up in Chicago Heights," the woman began, "and was aware of his sexuality at an early age. Directly after his graduation from high school, he joined the Navy, in part, in the hopes it would make him a man."
The story continued with the two readers taking turns. Allen Schindler kept a diary about his struggles in a tiny, almost illegible hand. He struggled with his sexuality, and longed to be himself, yet he knew that he could be discharged if he admitted he was gay.
He first served on the aircraft carrier Midway that was known as a relatively tolerant ship. Then, he was reassigned to the Belleau Wood that had an unsavory reputation for thuggish behavior by its crew. Schindler had been the target of harassment. Finally, he admitted to the Executive Officer that he was gay, most likely in the hopes being discharged.
In Sasebo, Japan on the evening of October 27, 1992, two shipmates, Terry Helvey and Charles Vins purchased a large amount of liquor. Their plan was to drink it in a public park. They spotted Schindler walking about ten yards ahead of them. Schindler went into a public restroom in the park. Helvey and Vins followed.
Allen Schindler died that night. He was beaten so badly his mother could only identify him by the remains of tattoos on his arms.
The investigation that followed was badly managed by the Navy. His mother, Gladys Hadjys-Holman was not told the entire truth. By this time, many in the audience were sniffling or crying. Matt wrapped his arms around Brian and Tim held Tommy. Jake remained stoic.
The service ended with a prayer. The attendees were then invited to place a flower on his headstone. They also greeted Mrs. Hadjys in the reception line. She had linked with the gay community to uncover the truth and to prevent Helveys release. She had appeared every year at Helveys clemency hearings.
"You are the future," she told Tommy, Jake and Brian as she embraced them. "Thank you so much for coming."
"That was so neat," Tommy commented as Matt drove them to breakfast.
They were just pulling into the parking lot at Dennys when Jake mumbled. "I hated it."
"What?" Matt asked in shock.
"I said I hated it. Why did you take us there?"
"You are way out of line, young man."
"Matt, Ill take Tommy and Brian inside and get a table."
"Thanks, Tim. Well be in. Just give us a few minutes." After the last door shut out the damp, cool air, Matt twisted around and faced him directly. "What exactly is your major malfunction this morning?" Wrong question, Matt thought.
"Im sorry. Lets go in."
"Oh, no. Youre not getting off that easy." Matt searched the downcast face. "What prompted you to say something like that?"
"Hes dead. Nobody ever gave him a chance," Jake started to sniffle. "I got a second chance. I dont deserve it."
"Yes, you do, Jake. Everyone does. No matter what theyve done. Youre a great kid, Jake. Dont get stressed out about the future, kiddo. It will turn out as it should be."
Jake looked skeptically at the man who had taken him in and loved him as his own son. "Are you sure?"
No matter how old your kids are, Matt thought, they still want their parents to tell them its going to be OK. So, even though Matt was far from sure about the outcome, he answered, "Yes. Im sure. Now lets go get breakfast before they run out of sausages."
The rain refused to stop, and Tim set up the grill on the back porch. Using an electric charcoal starter, he sat on the edge of the rattan couch and watched the coals slowly become embers. He pondered the memorial ceremony they had attended earlier and how lucky he was to have to love of a man such as Matt.
The guests began to arrive on cue. Matt had requested that guests bring an item, and he and Tim would provide the meat. Bill arrived first and he brought buns and rolls. Tommy took him by the hand to show him the miniature zoo in his room. Leah was next with her delicious potato salad.
Matt stepped out onto the porch. He put a hand on Tims shoulder and gave it an affectionate squeeze. "How are you doing?"
"Pretty good. Wonder who Marty is bringing? He was pretty mysterious about it."
"Yes, he was. I have no idea."
Tim laughed and gave his lover a playful shove.
Martys Lexus pulled in the parking lot behind the building. Marty emerged, as well as two other young men. From the passenger side, a man in his mid-twenties appeared. He was slim and tall with a wide smile and large, round heavy-lidded eyes. From the backseat another youngster appeared. He was perhaps fifteen or sixteen, with dishwater blond hair and blue eyes. He was dressed in super-baggy jeans and a polo shirt at least three sizes too big for him. It came almost to his knees. He swaggered as he approached the steps. Matt was immediately wary.
"This is Vince," Marty introduced him to Matt. He shook Matts hand firmly.
"Nice to meet you," Vince said with a wide grin.
"And this is Scott."
Scott ignored Matts proffered hand. He waved impudently and said, "Wassup." But when Scott shook Tims hand he cooed, "Mmmm. Youre pretty!"
Matt and Marty laughed nervously. Matt usually didnt judge people by first appearances, but Scott was not making a good impression. Matt studied him.
He was much thinner than he should have been, he had dark circles and bags under his eyes, and his skin had an unhealthy paleness. His face was pierced in several places including three in each ear, his eyebrow and just under his lower lip. Had Scott stuck out his tongue, Matt would have seen that it was pierced also. "Scott, you look so familiar. Have we met before?"
"I dont think so, dude. Id remember your husband if we did."
Matt glared at Scott and Tim nervously shifted his weight.
Marty hustled them inside. "Come on in and meet his sons."
"Hey!" Scott announced so loudly, Matt could hear him from the porch. "Check out the shorties! Wassup, homies?"
This was Scotts first encounter with a normal family in more than a year and he wasnt sure how to act. He had assumed an air of cockiness to cover his insecurity and trepidation. Unfortunately it had backfired on him. He was a street kid who knew how to handle himself in Boys Town but not in a suburban home.
Jake and Tommy winced at Scotts overbearing behavior. Brian had a panicky look on his face.
Tommy asked in his trademark blunt manner, "Why are you talking like a black person?" Matt wanted to burst out laughing.
"Dad," Brian took him by the sleeve, "Can I see you in the kitchen?" When they were safely in the other room, Brian looked left then right over his shoulders. "Thats Scott! The one from New Buffalo!"
"Are you sure? He looks different."
"Yeah, he does. He looks like hes sick. But Im sure."
Marty entered the kitchen. "What are you two whispering about?"
"Just the person I wanted to talk to. Umm, Brian, can you excuse us for a minute?"
"Who are those two?"
Marty gulped. "Theyre hustlers."
"Youve got to get them out of here. Scott is the one who almost raped Brian in New Buffalo."
"Are you sure? Maybe..."
"Brian is sure," Matts voice began rising, "and thats all that matters to me. Bill and Leah rose from the dining room table where they had been sitting and approached the kitchen.
Vince looked Matt directly in the eyes with a touch of defiance. "We know what we are," he said with quiet dignity.
"Get Scott out of here," Matt rumbled.
"Matt, calm down," Leah intervened. "Im sure there is a logical explanation."
"I dont have anywhere to go," Scott whined.
"Im ashamed of you, Matthew," Marty admonished. "Treating guests like that."
"Guests?" The veins in his neck were beginning to throb. "He tried to rape my son. I dont invite people like that into my house."
"Ill take him outside," Bill volunteered. "Well be on the porch. Matt or Tim, do you have a cell phone or a cordless I can borrow? I need to make a few calls."
"Ill get the cordless for you," Tommy volunteered immediately and ran upstairs.
"Who ya gonna call?" Scott asked. "My mommy?"
Matts right hand tightened into a fist. God, I wanna deck this kid, he thought.
Leah came to the rescue. "Lets get some food," she chirped as she guided Matt to the snack bar. "Some baked beans, Matt?" She began filling a plate for him like a mother would do for a child. "How about some of my potato salad? You love my potato salad." She even pulled a chair out from the dining room table. "There, now. Sit here. Very good, Matt. Were going to gather around this table and talk this out."
Marty and Vince, Tim and the boys also filled their plates. Normally, the boys would have retreated to the basement away from the scrutiny of adult eyes. They remained upstairs because they wanted to witness the unfolding drama. Or, more specifically, listen to the unfolding drama. It was like listening to an old-time radio show. Lux Radio Theater Presents: The Hustler in Suburbia. Our drama begins right after this word from our sponsor.
They all sat at the dining room table, munching their food in silence. The only conversation was an occasional request to pass the salt or ketchup. Their eyes were dancers that changed partners often across the table. Their eyes waltzed with one pair, then they parted as if an unseen interloper had tapped them on the shoulder, and then they began the dance with another pair. Their dance displayed a variety of emotions; anger, worry, fear, even amusement and delight in Scotts obvious discomfort.
Bills voice: "Park it. And wipe that smile off your face." Bills voice had a hard, emotionless quality that Matt had forgotten about. He had forgotten how Bill could put the fear of God in a misbehaving camper. Bill had obviously needed to keep the skill sharp.
Less than ten feet away from where they were eating, Bill confronted Scott. They could hear the entire conversation. Perhaps they are speaking louder because they know they have an audience, Matt thought.
Bill: "Explain to me how you got to this point. And watch your language."
Scott: "I dont know where to start."
Bill: "Start at the beginning."
Scott began unfolding his story. He explained emotionlessly about how his mother died when he was very young and about his abusive father and four older brothers. School was torture, too. There was an older student in his school who dropped out due to all the harassment. He ran away to Chicago a month before his fifteenth birthday.
He found his way to Boys Town and spent the next two weeks sleeping in Lincoln Park and eating from dumpsters. That was when Barry found him, fed him, enrolled him in school by claiming Scott was his nephew and took him into the townhouse on Aldine.
Bill: "You do know what happened to Ted, right?"
Scott: "It was all over the street."
Bill: "Do you know what happened?"
Scott: "Not much. Ted found out he was HIV positive. He blamed it all on Barry for not using rubbers. I always made sure they used a rubber with me," Scott added quickly. "Barry fought back with the fact that he found out about all of Teds secret bank accounts. I couldnt stand the screaming it reminded me of home."
Bill: "So what did you do?"
Scott: "I just stayed away as much as I could for as long as I could. When I first heard about it, I went and got as much of my shit oops, sorry stuff out of there as I could carry."
They heard Bills voice become quiet. "What do you want, Scott?"
"I dont know. I dont want to go back to townhouse. I cant. I guess Im tired of hustling."
By this time, most of those at the dining table had finished eating, and Leah and Marty walked silently around the table picking up the empty paper plates and used utensils.
There was a pause in the conversation outside.
Scott: "Who are you calling?"
Bill: "DCFS. Im a mandated reporter and I have to report child abuse."
"Damn right Ive been abused!" A scrap of Scotts earlier bravado returned.
As Bill spoke to the abuse hotline, Marty resumed his place at the table. Leah set out various desserts, brownies, cookies and quivering Jell-O creations.
Scott: "Now who are you calling?"
Bill: "Park Forest Police."
Bill: "Sit down and do not move from that spot!" There was a long pause. "Im calling the police not to have you arrested but for your protection."
"What do you mean?"
"Ted is dead and Barry is the main suspect and Barry is missing. The police will want to know how much you know about Barry and Ted. But hes not the only one. Barry probably wants to know what you know. He killed once he may kill again."
"What are you trying to say? That he would try to kill me?"
"Think about it, Scott. Who knows more about their activities than you do? You lived with them for almost a year."
"They wouldnt kill me. I bring in too much cabbage for them to snuff me out."
"Youd better re-think that illusion, mister. Barry killed his own partner, someone who he knew longer than you have been alive. He wouldnt think twice about killing you if he knew it would silence you. And you have to remember that Barry and Ted are only part of the picture. Theres a much larger organization that will be on the lookout to protect itself."
There was a long pause as Bill called the police. "Theyll be here soon," he told Scott.
Bills voice was emotionless and as clear as a bell. "Ive got to make one more call, Scott. I have to make a call to determine where you should go. Before you answer, think carefully about your options. Your first option is to go into the legal system. Youd end up at the Audy Home, or maybe the boot camp. That will solve the short-term problem, but what are you going to do when you get out? The next option is to go back to Ashland to your natural father. And from what youve said, that isnt much of an option. Another possibility is to go back on the street. But you yourself said you were tired of hustling. You would always be looking over your shoulder. You never know if Barry will be waiting for you in some dark alley. Even if the police take him into custody, someone from the organization will be out to get you."
"The last option is to come to St. Lukes."
"Fuck! I aint going to that Illinois version of Boys Town."
"You would be safe and secure. You would have three meals a day and a warm place to sleep. You could catch up in school, maybe even graduate with your class. It could change your life, Scott. And right now, it sounds like you need a change."
Bill paused. "So who am I going to call, Scott? Where are you going from here?"
There was a long, long interlude of silence as Scott weighed his options. "Call St. Lukes," he said quietly, and then added, "please."
Inside the townhouse, most of the people around the table smiled in relief and triumph.
"He made the right choice," Leah said with a lilt in her voice.
"Im not sure even St. Lukes can straighten that kid out," Matt grumbled.
"But he should at least have the chance, shouldnt he, Dad?" Jake asked. "Even you said everyone deserves a second chance."
Matt never realized he would have to eat his words as a side dish.
A lone police car pulled up behind the row of townhouses shortly thereafter. Bill introduced himself and Scott. He explained the situation to the two officers who listened with wide eyes. Murder was rare in their comfortable suburb, and the appearance of a body in the neighboring forest preserves had caused much consternation within the local law enforcement community. The two officers never thought they would be presented with such a key witness. Right in their laps!
They filed out the kitchen door and around the police car to see Scott off.
Scott put a hand on Brians shoulder. "Im sorry kid. I never meant to hurt you. And you really are cute."
He shook hands with everyone, except Matt, who refused to shake his hand.
Vince hugged the young hustler.
"See ya, Kit. Keep in touch."
"Bye, Viv. Take care of you."
He sat in the back seat of the patrol car. Bill followed in his own vehicle.
Slowly, they filed back into the house. "Lets play Trivial Pursuit," Brian suggested. They greeted his idea with enthusiasm.
"Its your turn, Vince."
Vince rolled the dice and moved to a brown space. "What does brown stand for?"
"Art and Literature," Tim said. "Who painted the Sistine Chapel?"
"This is easy," Brian mumbled.
Vince thought for a while, then responded, "Sherwin-Williams?"
They all laughed. The game proceeded around the table. Tommy even answered two questions in a row and earned a pink piece for the correct name of Lucille Balls first child. The play returned to Vince. He rolled the die and ended up on a green space.
"Science and Nature," Tim told Vince before he read the question. "Define horticulture."
"Im not very good at this game." Vince chewed thoughtfully on a nail. "I give up."
Sensing everyone was ready for a break in the game, Matt stood up. "Anyone need another drink?"
"Id like a beer," Jake piped up.
"Dream on, kiddo." Marty and Tim followed him into the kitchen, while Leah and the boys chatted easily with Vince.
Tim took Matt in his arms and kissed him. "Daddy tiger protects his young. Ive never seen you so protective."
Matt shrugged. "Paternal instincts, I guess." He pulled several cans of pop out of the refrigerator. "So, Marty, are you and Vince an item?"
"Im not sure," Marty answered honestly.
"I like him. Hes not your average hustler, is he? Theres something different about him." Matt grinned. "Hes not very good at Trivial Pursuit, is he?"
Marty grinned, "Well, you know what they say. You can lead a horticulture, but you cant make him think."
"One favor, Marty. No more surprise guests, please."
Marty laughed. "Is it my guests? Or do you just give lousy parties, Mary Richards?"
Matt hugged his best friend before they sat down to resume the game.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome. I read and respond to all email (even if it takes a few days) Just click on one of the links below. And don't forget to check out my website (Chapters are always posted there earlier than here) and my other story here on Nifty, Pocketful of Stars, in the Young Friends section.
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