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The Gold Chain - 2


PJ Franklin

The ocean's afternoon horizon seemed to stretch for an infinite distance away from the turquoise reflected crystal clear waters, the sun just passed its noontime nadir in an otherwise cloudless sky. I had spent the prior day on a successful snorkeling adventure on the other side of the large island and would simply wile away the hours of this new day on the beach near to my resort bungalow until supper.

I looked down and through my sunglasses at my bare toes coated with the nearly pure white warm sand upon which I sat. I would have to adjust my beach umbrella soon as its cooling shadow had shifted even though time seems to stop or slow in such a beautiful tropical paradise as this was.

Suddenly, an exceptionally strong breeze came up and not only blew my umbrella down, but unexpectedly flipped my sunglasses upwards and in that instant, my unprotected eyes were forced to squint against a very bright yellow glint of metal coming from my right. I refocused on the tallish shape of a man walking down the beach towards me, a man with longish blond hair tied back into a pony tail.

The reflection's source became obvious as he approached, the man was wearing a gold chain around his neck. My throat involuntarily seized, my anxiety heightened and I had to close my eyes and use a brief relaxation mantra to quell my disturbed spirit. I felt stupid and small in that moment, still captive to the sad memory that had dogged my mind and heart for the prior six months. Yes, my memory of Vince Keller.

I had been in Vince's presence for less than twenty-four hours and talked to him the equivalent of only several more hours after that, all six months prior. Then he died. He died and left me with self-doubts and a feeling of loss that helped me to begin to understand that the true nature of love is a thing that can be as strong, lasting and reliable as iron, but also as fleeting and elusive as a brief tropical breeze.

I had tried changing the location of my work to the east coast from the west. I tried sex, lots of anonymous, guilt-tinged sex and found each encounter increasingly futile and unsatisfying. Masturbation was certainly empty and futile. Somebody had suggested traveling, meeting others in strange or exotic places. So I did that and now sat on the beach of the final destination of eight weeks of having not found anyone to relate to.

As the man approached, I studied him. He looked to be in his mid to late twenties, tallish, tan. He looked not to be American to me, I don't know why. He was bare chested, handsome, actually quite handsome and as such very sexy; but I ignored those feelings, tired of the chase. I didn't want to talk to anyone. I used his jewelry, the gold chain, as an excuse to ignore him. How dare he bring a gold chain into my space!

The man seemed to ignore me as well until he got just in front of me, about ten paces away actually, then he stopped,

"Pardon me mate, is that your bungalow over there?" pointing in back of me and to my right. His accent was certain, he was from that continent down under.

"Yes, it is actually," I replied solely out of politeness.

"Did the front desk leave a rather large envelope with you perhaps?

I had no idea what he was talking about, "Not that I'm aware," I replied.

He looked not a little chagrined,

"Actually they did. I'm sorry. I … um … opened your front door and saw it inside … very improper of me, but I think they delivered it to you by mistake."

I should have and did feel rudely intruded upon, but the feeling was quickly tempered by his confession.  I also could easily empathize with his impatience. I could be quite impatient at times and do similar impulsive things.

I stood up, "Let's go check."

The man followed me back to my bungalow, but neither of us talked. When we arrived and I looked just inside my door, yes, the man was correct. There was a large Fedex envelope on the small table addressed to one, Steven Latimer.

"Are you Steven?" I asked.

"Yes, that's me," he replied with a small sigh.

"Well, it isn't me," I said and handed him his delivery, my eyes drawn to the gold chain around his neck no matter that I didn't want them to be.

"Are you OK?" he asked. I guess the eyes tell all or at least give away one's secret pain when it's bad enough.

"Oh, sorry," I shook from my brief and unpleasant reverie.

"If I may, are you by yourself here?" he asked.

"Yes," I replied dryly, just a bit irritated by his forward but innocent inquiry.

"Me as well. Funny that. Most men here are with their women or out cruising about for them, not sitting on beaches alone."

"I'm not most men," and sounded a little bitter to myself, another frequent emotional visitor as of late.

He held out his hand, "Steve Latimer, Sydney."

I sighed and gave in and shook it, what the hell, "Rich Ross, Seattle."

"I've been to Seattle a few years back. Wonderful city, love the Puget Sound area."

Now I was modestly impressed both by his knowledge of Seattle and a lot less irritated by his forwardness. I had never been to Australia, but had always intended to go. Then there was this awkward silence and he stepped back,

"Well, best be on my way. This here is a little homework I've to do. Imagine work in a place like this, terribly boring really."

He turned his back to me and took just three steps before turning around and looked back at me,

"Maybe I'm off base here, but might you fancy dinner tonight? Just, you know, as new friends, mates as we say it back home."

Dinner, with this Aussie stranger? Steven seemed harmless and I needed to be with somebody for friendship, "Sure, seven?" I replied.

"Seven it is," and he turned and walked away. As he did, I found it hard not to picture him in a bed, naked and chastised myself for it, more guilt-tinged memories of Vince intruding on the moment. Besides, I had no knowledge of the man's sexuality. By numbers alone, he had to be straight.

* * * * * * * * * *

I actually looked forward to dinner with Steven and even dressed a bit more formally than usual. He did as well and looked twice as handsome for doing it. His taste in food and wine was far above my expectations and the casual conversation was the best that I had in months. OK, it was the ONLY conversation I had in months over a decent dinner out.

Plenty of wine did flow during dinner, but not enough to loosen tongues and especially so in a public dining area. That didn't happen until I accepted his invitation to come back with him to his bungalow for after dinner drinks, shots out of a bottle of Jack Daniels Whiskey, "just to piss the night away," as Steven said it and I really don't like whiskey.

Alcohol loosens the tongue and especially when you're not used to as much of it as Steven and I imbibed that night.

"Are ya havin a grand time Rich?" Steven slurred to me from across the room. Was I? I guess I was.

"Sure," was all that I said.

"Billy would have approved," Steven said next and his tone became markedly morose and saddened.

"Who's Billy?" I asked.

"Billy was ten years older than I. We'd been together six years. Cancer took him away from me."

I felt a cold chill despite the warming effects of alcohol much less the tropical heat and humidity around us. I saw the pain in Steven's eyes, recognized it as my own and felt a helpless incredulity that fate had put us two together at that resort in that moment in time.

"Friend?" I assumed out loud.

"Lover … ma partner … ya see, I'm gay Rich. I found you attractive, that's why I invited you to dinner with me … sorry mate if it offends."

I sat there a very long moment looking at Steven, amazed at the coincidences involved. Steven's head was down, his eyes in a faraway place, probably with Billy the way that I had often found my gaze looking for Vince in past months.

"No, not offended Steven," I replied.

"It's not easy trying get along after somebody you loved for so long goes away like that," Steven continued, his recollections of Billy sobering up his enunciation.

I felt needlessly small and unworthy in Steven's presence. I wasn't at all sure that Vince counted even though he had.

"How about you mate?" he asked, but not in a cheery way, "ever lost a love?"

I sighed, "Um … I lost a love, a lover I guess. Vince … he died just after we met … " and I couldn't go on just then.

Steven sat up, "Ah! So you're like me. I knew it the moment I met you … you didn't know him long then?"

I shook my head, "One night stand that turned into this … this infatuation, he gave me a gold chain similar to the one you're wearing … it was nothing, really," and I felt like I wanted to be alone just then so I tried to stand up and in doing so sat right back down, I was too drunk to stand and walk.

"Whoa! Rich, better just sit … but listen, it doesn't matter mate that you loved him for six years or six minutes. If it was love, it was real and you lost him. Don't put it down, it does no good, believe me, I've tried."

I sat there feeling stunned and bereft of defenses. I looked up at Steven, my eyes threatening to fill with tears that I did not want him to see. I finally confessed,

"As I said, he gave me a gold chain, similar to yours … after he died, I visited his grave … met his mother. She told me what Vince had told her, that he loved me and wanted me to meet her. I gave her the gold chain as a remembrance."

I had to stop then and wipe away the moisture.

"I still see Billy's mum, lots actually. I love her like my own and she treats me like her son," Steven said with a small grateful smile that made me question my decision to never see Mrs. Keller again.

"I can take my gold chain off if you like … I shouldn't wear it while you're here," Steven offered.

"No! Don't …" I replied, " … Leave it. Thank you for telling me about Billy … I should go … " I said and made another awkward move to stand up only to fall back into my chair.

Steven smiled, "Nice effort that, but you should stay. I mean, I could help you down the way there, but why? Stay with me tonight Rich, sleep with me. Not sex, just be with me mate. I'm as lonely for a true gay mate as you seem to be. We've something terrible in common, but that's enough in my book."

I gave into Steve's suggestion. Why not? No sex requested, none required, good. I was too wasted feeling anyway. So we tumbled into his bed together, he removed all of his clothing before I did which gave me permission to do the same.

Shortly thereafter it was midnight and my drunkenness was fairly well worn off. I just lay there next to him fairly sleepless, looking up at the room's ceiling trying to ignore the obvious; that I was terribly attracted to Steven and hiding my arousal under the bed sheet despite our shared sorrows. Just then, he stirred,

"Rich, just lying here not touching you is killing me, would you mind so much if I  …"

"I thought you'd never ask!" I replied and in an instant, Steven rapidly moved his head to my chest and cuddled next to me clear down to our feet touching,

His long beautiful blonde hair was free and fanned out over my chest. I wasn't sure what to do with my hands, so I did what felt natural and gently stroked his hair and his back.

"Ever since Vince died, I've tried a million things to convince myself that it all has some meaning. Can't find it," I said softly.

"Me as well," Steven whispered, his hands moving gently up and down my torso.

"I even tried sex, fucking my way through it," I confessed.

"Yes, until it's not fun any longer, more like work," he replied. I nodded, "Ditto."

At times, the male penis acts on its own behalf. This was one of those times for both of us.

"Shall we let them play or leave them alone?" Steven asked. I smiled,

"I don't know. Let's tell them to fuck off for once, leave us alone," I suggested out of the blue.

He got up on his elbows, "That's bloody brilliant, you're a wise man Rich," he smiled softly, "and very handsome, very sexy as well."

Steven's eyes were a cool blue, his facial lines a bit deeper for all the sun his skin had absorbed in his native land.

Suddenly, I realized that with all of the sex I had over the past months, I had not once actually kissed another man since Vince. I missed it a lot. Steven's lips were a bit thinner than I could recall Vince's, but oddly enough, his breath was as sweet. I could remember that much, how Vince had tasted to me, an odd thing to remember, but you do.

"A kiss? Is that sex?" I asked.

Steven grinned, "No, doesn't count. I was thinking the same thing," and then Steven lowered his face to mine and our lips met.

Steven's technique was slow, patient and practiced. He knew what he was doing with his tongue muscle in my mouth and naturally my mind then started to imagine what it could do to my dick and to my butthole.

"Fantastic, you're a natural Rich, you kiss as if you've done it for years."

I wasn't going to say a thing just then and let Rich do or say anything he wanted or not,

"I miss kissing Billy more than anything, but he would say that he missed my arse over his face the most I think."

I grinned, "I thought we said sex was out of the picture?"

"No mate, we said our cocks would not be ruling our decisions, that's all."

"Too late I think," I replied.

"Yea, you're probably right, may I?" Steven said just to be polite as he removed the sheet from over us, turned himself about and then went down on my penis with an urgency that I could not possibly stop nor wanted to stop.

The desire to make love with Steven Latimer became overwhelming so I guided his beautiful buttocks over my face, spread the center of his deep fleshy buttock cheeks and his hips lowered to my extended tongue. After a few long luxuriant moments of fellation, Steven used his strong upper body to elevate my hips up enough to expose my hole to his mouth and we went at it, rimming each other with rare urgency.

So much during other sex acts with other men over prior months, I would compare them to my one night stand with Vince, but not tonight. Steven seemed to make me quickly forget or set aside comparisons with Vince and I hoped I was doing the same for him and Billy's memories.

Steven moaned and I moaned and we rolled side to side clutched together so tightly that the sweat that ran down to the bed below us became a new scent as it were. Eventually, erections replaced buttholes in our mouths. We turned to the side and our heads bobbed up and down, sliding slowly and fully from bases to tips, his technique practiced and perfect, just like mine, the two of us on rare equal platform.

His fingers found and penetrated my anus and mine his. We finger fucked each other, tickling each other's glands just right even as we gave each other oral satisfaction and then there was no stopping the orgasms, hard, strong and the simultaneous flow of semen into our mouths, profuse. Steven's semen seemed to have a sweetness that I don't think I'd ever experienced with another man before, even with Vince.

"Fuckin' hell! That was fantastic!" Steven panted as he righted himself, his head back up to my chest, my arms tightly wrapped around him, my head spinning with a feeling of deep satisfaction.

"You got that right, mate!" I said in a faux Aussie accent.

"Careful Rich, you'll make me like you a whole lot more than I already do," Steven said, but I didn't reply, fearful that my mind was already presumptuously far ahead of Steven's and caught dangerously up with more than just liking Steven in return.

I just sighed, kissed the top of his head and rubbed his back, enjoying the moment for what it was knowing that I needed to be careful, not get carried away. After that, sleep came easy to both of us, even peaceful and his head never did leave my chest that night.

* * * * * * * * * *

I seldom remember my dreams upon awakening, but I doubt I would soon forget that night's mind meanderings: Steven and I on the white sanded beach outside of his bungalow, holding hands. I remember feeling at peace and never happier. But when I finally opened my eyes, Steven was not in bed with me.

I felt this awful recollection of Vince's early morning departure of months before. An instant nausea threatened to turn my stomach upside down and I was about to shout out Steven's name when the door opened to the bungalow,

"Ah, just in time! I've brought us breakfast!" and I sat up, so very damned relieved.

"Listen, I don't want to be presumptuous, but I'd love to spend the day with you Rich. I've some work to do for a few hours, but after that, it's carte blanche."

He revealed his colorful collection of fresh tropical fruit, a grain cereal, some scrambled eggs, coffee, milk and orange juice. I think you can tell a lot about a person's common sense in life how they choose simple foods at breakfast. Steven's was impressive as was his suggestion.

"OK by me," I replied, the image of Steven and I holding hands from my dream still clearly in my mind.

Steven told me a bit of what he did for a living over breakfast, mostly of the nature of an entrepreneur. He and Billy had always done well financially so that like me, money did not play a role in how life was to proceed.

I took my leave after breakfast to give Steven some space. I needed some space and very urgently, my mind processing the fact that like with Vince, I was in danger of falling in love literally overnight once again and as such very vulnerable to any downside should it not work out. The trouble was I think it was already too late for choices.

Why was love so damn insistently needful and unpredictably fragile at the same time? Why could there not be a slower common sense and more casual approach? Why did it have to happen right now!? I was a patient and considerate man in every other aspect of my life, was I not? Of course I knew the answer deep down. Nobody gets a free ride with all aspects of life.

My solo journey took me a distance by taxi away from the resort to the center of the small native village adjacent to the resort. I did not feel very comfortable in my third world surroundings, but I was determined to purchase a small token of friendship for Steven. The street hawkers were many and my patience grew thin. I was not looking for a gold chain, but neither was I looking for a cheap wooden or plastic trinket.

That was when the eyes and face of an old, dark skinned woman caught my eye. She was standing in the doorway of her very small store front business, the sign above it stated in bright and colorful ornate lettering, "Madam Ornatang: Fortune Teller."

I did not believe in psychics or mediums or ghosts of any kind. She was obviously a gypsy-type and yet, I was drawn to her. It sounds stupid and I felt stupid for wanting to know my future with Steven. Surely it would be harmless to talk to her. I approached.

She did not smile, she just said, "Come wit me and sit awhile," her English OK, but thickly accented.

I did. The atmosphere inside of the small hovel was tinged with heavy incense, a bit stuffy, but not entirely unpleasant. I sat. She was wearing a simple non-colorful robe, kind of unpretentious actually and sat across from me.

"Wat your first name pleace?" she asked. I told her, "Rich"

"Let me hold your hands Rich, if I may," and I let her. I didn't feel anything when we touched. I guessed this was just her theatrical routine.

"What is it you seek?" she asked.

Wasn't that what she was supposed to tell me? But, what the hell, "Love" I said.

She nodded, "Yessss, what is his name please?"

I sat back, my pulse racing. OK, she had a 50/50 chance of a male or female interest, didn't she? Didn't she just get lucky?"

"Steven," I said, not losing my cool.

"Hmm … dere is illness … not Steven … it will take de time," and she let go of my hands. I sat back. Illness? Time?

Without missing a beat, she stood up and went to a small shelf upon which were a myriad of candles, about half of them lit. She lifted up a necklace made of small whitish ornate sea shells. She brought it back and handed it to me,

"You will give dis to da man you love, dat is all I can tell you," and that was that.

I paid the fortune teller her due, took the necklace, thanked her, stuffed it in my pocket and walked outside. It was starting to sprinkle rain. I didn't believe in fortune tellers although the necklace was about what I had in mind as a gift and consciously ignored that whoever I gave it too, I was automatically supposed to fall in love with. Ridiculous.

I could walk right up to anyone on the street, even a strange native man and give the necklace to him. Was I then in love with him and he I? Of course not! I just chalked up my time with Madam Ornatang as cheap entertainment along with the purchase of the necklace, no more no less. Illness, what was that? And everything takes time, what a waste of MY time with her!

And speaking of time, I took mine and roved the village a bit more, the sprinkles occasionally increasing to a hard shower, forcing me to cover. I finally caught a taxi back to the resort and made for my bungalow in advance of finding Steven. As I approached my door I froze. There was a note attached.

I made up my mind that if the note was from Steven and that he had changed his mind about spending the day, it would be OK; but I knew I would be very disappointed.

I gulped, grabbed up the note and read it:

Rich! I'm frantic mate! Billy's mum had heart attack, in coma. Have to go home fast. Took a chance, booked you a ticket with me. Come with me Rich, please! I need you! Have to leave before you return. Be at airport by …

I looked at my watch and my mind quickly calculated if I was already too late to pack, check-out and get to the airport in time even if I wanted to!? But fly all the way to Sydney with him? That was insane! I had to decide, NOW!

To Be Continued …

© Copyright PJ Franklin September 20, 2010

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