By John Yager
The following story is a work of gay erotic fiction. If such stories are not to your liking or if it is illegal for you to read such stories, please exit now.
I wish to offer special thanks to Andrew, who did proofing duties on this story.
This is a work of fiction and in no way modeled on any specific person, group or institution. Any similarity to actual persons, institutions or events is entirely coincidental.
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It was three in the afternoon. The luncheon service was over and the dining-room boys were preparing the tables for the evening meal. I walked slowly through the bright, sunlit space, moving from table to table, assuring myself that the table settings were correct. Fussiness is the prerogative of a hotel director.
Mann's is the oldest and finest hotel on the lake. It has a reputation to uphold and it is my responsibility to uphold it. I am, by name, Roger Tull. My mother was Peggy, the only daughter of Titus Mann, Junior, who was the only son of Titus Mann, Senior, the founder and original owner of the hotel which bears his name.
My mother had two brothers. The oldest was Titus Mann III, who died in Tunisia during the North African Campaign in 1943. The younger son, my Uncle Seymour, inherited the hotel when his father died and ran it the rest of his life.
Uncle Seymour never married. Upon his death in 1988, I inherited the property from him, along with all the responsibilities which accompany it.
Like my uncle, I have never married and have no children to whom I can leave the hotel. Mann's may well cease to be when I am no longer able to run it as it should be run. Not a year goes by without at least one enquiry from a developer intent on turning the property into some gaudy resort or condominium or time-share complex. Ultimately, there may be no alternative but after today I may reason to think there might be a future for the old place after all.
Mann's has always had a reputation as a family establishment, owned and run by the same family for four generations, catering to families who want tranquil holidays in a magnificent setting. Mann's is known for its location on the shores of Lake Hughes, and for its excellent service and its fine cuisine. It is also known for the quality of the cultural events it hosts throughout the season.
There is "Spring Poetry Week" at Mann's in late May, "New Authors Week" in late June, "First Look" in late July, our annual production of a new and previously unproduced play, "Facts and Faces," our celebration of new non-fiction writers in August and, finally, "Autumn Poetry Week" in September, just before we close for the winter.
In addition, throughout the season, Mann's String Quartet performs twice daily and a series of pianists provide discreet classical music during the evening meal in the main dining room. All told, the summer at Mann's is a celebration of the best of American culture.
Yes, Mann's is more than a hotel, more than a resort. It is a cultural treasure. We cater to the discerning from across the nation and beyond. We have entertained presidents and princes and captains of industry, treating all with the same care and attention with which we serve our most humble patron. That is not to suggest that any patron of Mann's is humble in an economic sense. The requirements of a fine hotel demand increasingly high rates and we long ago made the decision that, where the choice was between economy and excellence, excellence prevailed.
As to my own style of administration, I can only say that I have tried to operate this fine old hotel as it was operated by those who went before me. I have been called fastidious, demanding, even persnickety. My only defense is that I have carried on a great tradition, bending ever so slightly to innovation and change as times have demanded.
So this afternoon I walked on through the dining room, taking special note of the table linens and the proper placement of silver.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Tull," the senior front desk clerk said as I walked on across the lobby toward my office. It was a lovely day, the kind of day on which Mann's looked its very best.
"Good afternoon, Pearson," I responded, noting that his tie was ever so slightly crooked. I would speak to him later in private.
The lobby, I must say, looked most elegant. There was a huge vase of fresh flowers on the central table and a smaller bouquet on the front desk. I would remember to compliment Mr. Brock, the head of our gardening and lawn staff. It was he who took responsibility for the cut flowers, as well as for the potted plants, which adorned our public rooms.
"Young Robert is waiting to see you, sir."
"Yes, Mr. Tull, one of the new boys."
"Oh, yes," I said, remembering that one of the first year lads had asked for a moment of my time.
Until the mid-1950s, Mann's had been staffed in a more traditional manner with a large percentage of the housekeeping and kitchen positions being filled by women and young girls, most of them college students who joined the hotel staff for the summer months.
It had been my Uncle Seymour's genius to begin hiring only college age boys for all the summer positions. And so began the tradition of "Mann's Boys," as they have been called ever since.
Needless to say, with the advent of the all-male staff, and not only all male, but the most attractive young men available, the clientele of Mann's began to change subtly. The second summer after Uncle Seymour initiated his new staffing procedure, he found it necessary to make the east wing of the hotel available exclusively to families, while the west wing was reserved for the single men who began to come in greater and greater numbers.
That was in the 1950s, and over the fifty-plus years since, the hotel has become a Mecca for discriminating men who wish to spend their summer holidays in a truly unique environment which includes a magnificent natural setting, fine food and wine, the aforementioned cultural advantages and equally magnificent young men who attend to our guests' every need.
What has been somewhat odd, but truly satisfying, it that our "family clients" have in no way abandoned us. The old east and west wings have been expanded over the years and more recently we have seen the construction of cottages which can accommodate groups of up to twelve under one roof, and it is rare for us to have any unoccupied rooms during the entire season. Many of our regular guests make their reservations for the following summer a year of more in advance.
It is fair to say, I think, that among both groups, our family guests and our male clients, we attract discriminating and enlightened patrons.
I walked through the lobby and into the bright room which has served as the director's office since my Great Grandfather's days. As I went through the outer waiting room Stewart, my personal assistant, nodded toward the young man who was sitting in one of the leather lounge chairs reading a current news magazine.
"This is Robert Simpson, Mr. Tull," Stewart said, rising to greet me.
"Oh, yes, Robert," I said as the young man also rose. "I remember seeing your name on my agenda."
"Yes, sir," he said, looking down shyly. I was struck by his appearance. Thirty years earlier he could have been me.
The selection and hiring of our summer staff is a complicated and demanding process which occupies my weekends from mid-March until the end of April. I follow the plan worked out by my uncle and visit half a dozen towns which are the locations of the larger universities in our region. In each case, I advertise the availability of summer positions at Mann's in both campus and town newspapers. The ads run for two or three weeks prior to my visit. Then on the weekend scheduled for interviews in each of the towns, I reserve a small suite at one of the better hotels and send formal letters to the more promising applicants, informing them that they may come by for a personal interview.
I have learned not to seek staff at the more expensive private colleges and universities, but rather at the more populous state institutions. Students at such universities are much more interested in well paid summer jobs and they generally make more conscientious employees. Many of them, in fact, come back to work at Mann's for several successive summers, which I find most gratifying.
Interviews are conducted privately, only one candidate at a time. I look for the most attractive young men, but also for those with obvious intelligence and excellent verbal abilities. I also look for that certain glimmer of want in their eyes which I have come to recognize as the mark of an excellent aspirant for employment at Mann's.
We pay well, so wages are never an issue. It is also evident that many of our young men receive far more in tips than we pay in wages, allowing a chap of limited means to return to college after three months' service at Mann's with more than enough money to see him through the following academic year.
We also provide all meals for staff. They are served in their own dining room and lodging is also furnished in dormitories located on the fourth floor of the main building.
I make it clear to all our applicants that service is of utmost importance and we only want staff who understand the need to meet every need, want and request of our patrons. Most of the young men who apply understand our insistence on service and only apply if they want to aspire to our high standards.
Despite our thorough interviews and an equally thorough briefing when they first reach Mann's, there are almost always one or two lads who come to me for clarification over the course of the summer.
Robert Simpson was one such lad.
"Please make yourself comfortable, Mr. Simpson," I said, leading the boy into my private office. I must say young Robert was one of the most striking of our new boys this year. He was nearly six feet tall with a fine, athletic body, golden hair and glowing, sun-kissed skin. His eyes, I realized when he looked at me, were a most startling black, or nearly so. Given his general coloring, I would have expected him to have blue eyes, or possibly Mann eyes of that special almost catlike hue, so often flecked with gold.
I took my place behind the huge mahogany desk as he seated himself in one of the chairs opposite me. Robert was dressed in the usual daytime uniform worn by all our boys. It had been chosen with care and consisted of white cotton shorts which came just to mid-thigh, white trainers and turned down white athletic socks, and a white polo style shirt with the hotel logo embroidered just over the left breast.
The shirt's sleeves were short and edged with elastic, exhibiting his muscular arms to full advantage. The uniform isn't overtly sexual, but it certainly conveys a sense of relaxed summer pleasures, just the impression we want to give to our guests.
Stewart had put the boy's file on my desk, as was our usual practice when I had a meeting with one of the summer staff. I opened it and took a quick glance at the cover sheet. Robert was, I noted, the youngest of three sons of a mill worker in the northern part of the state. In addition to his two older brothers, he had two sisters, one married and the mother of several children, and one younger, the youngest child in the family, who was still in high school. The older boys, I noted, had already joined their father in the mill.
Robert seemed to be the bright spot in an otherwise rather dull family. He was the first of the lot to go on to college. His high school record was outstanding. I saw that he had done very well all the way through school, had excelled in tennis and swimming and had done equally well during his first year at one of our more highly regarded state universities.
The record showed that he'd indicated his interest in completing a business degree. I also saw, from his assignment sheet, that he was working as a lifeguard at our swimming pool and on the lake shore beach. He was also giving swimming lessons to the children of our family patrons.
Looking up from the file, I began. "Now, Robert, this is your first year with us, is it not?"
"Yes, sir, my first year."
"Am I to assume that you have some question? Or have you come seeking some advice?"
"Both, sir. I hope you don't mind my coming to see you like this."
"Not at all, young man. We pride ourselves on being available to our staff, just as we are always available to our patrons. Now, how may I help you?"
Robert was silent, looking down at his hands, which were tightly locked together and lay stiffly in his lap.
"Mr. Tull," Robert eventually said, "when you interviewed me for a position at Mann's this summer, you stressed the significance of service, how it was important for each of us working here to see ourselves being here for the guests, doing everything we can to make their stay a wonderful experience, a memorable vacation."
"That's exactly right, Robert."
"You told me at the end of that interview that you sensed that I was a very caring person, which would help me fit in here, help me be a real addition to Mann's."
"Yes, Robert, that's exactly right." I didn't say that I made more or less that same speech to every young man I hired. "From what I've heard you've been doing very well."
"Thank you, sir." After a pause he went on. "One of the older boys told me you'd worked here when you were my age."
"Yes, I suppose I would have been your age, or perhaps a year or two younger, the first summer I was on the staff."
"So you worked several summers as a staff member."
"Four summers, altogether," I said, remembering those days. My uncle had been the director then and I was determined to learn everything I could from him. "The last summer I was on the summer staff was between my third and final year at university. The following summer, just after I'd graduated, my uncle arranged for me to spend the summer working at a fine old hotel in England."
"I saw the staff photographs of those summers and recognized you in the group."
"That mustn't have been too easy, Robert. I've changed a great deal over the intervening years."
"Yes, sir. But you were a good looking boy, and now a handsome man."
"That's very kind of you."
"Well, sir, it does seem relevant to the questions I wanted to ask."
"And what questions would those be?"
"Well, sir, would I be correct in assuming that some guests might have wanted you to perform certain ... I guess I could say, more personal services for them when you worked here with the summer staff?" He paused but when I didn't immediately respond, he added, "male guests, I suppose."
"Yes," I said, after collecting my thoughts, "I understand. Am I to assume that a guest has approached you, Robert, requesting some service you are hesitant to perform?"
"Oh, no, sir, nothing I'd be hesitant to do."
"Well, let me put that another way then. You suggested that requests for such services might more likely come from one of our gentlemen guests."
"A service or services which you would be willing to perform, but might feel somewhat awkward performing under such circumstances."
"It really isn't even that, sir. It's just not knowing what is considered all right here at Mann's."
"There's also the question of payment, Mr. Tull."
"I hope, Robert, that you have not told this particular guest that you would expect a specific fee for specific services?"
"Oh, no, sir. I wouldn't do that. It was the guest who offered me a particular amount."
"Let me see if I understand you correctly, Robert. You have been approached by a male guest who has asked you to perform certain services for him, or engage in certain activities with him, which you feel may be somewhat beyond the scope of usual staff duties. It that correct so far?"
"And you say you have no objection to performing these services or engaging in these activities with the guest in question. Is that also correct?"
"Yes, sir. I would be quite happy to do so."
"And it was the guest who initiated this discussion. You are quite clear on that point, Robert?"
"Yes, sir. I said nothing but he sensed my interest in him."
"Yes, sir, interest, attraction."
"I see. So his initial approach may not have been completely without encouragement from you."
"On a non-verbal level, sir. I said nothing."
"Yes, non-verbal expressions of interest or attraction can be quite encouraging."
"Well, sir, at that point any interest on my part was communicated on a completely subconscious level. I don't want you to think I consciously or openly encouraged him."
"So, not to put too fine a point on it, Robert, you didn't overtly flirt with the gentleman?"
"I was friendly, sir, but only so far as I try to be friendly with all the guests."
"Very well. I think I understand." I waited a moment looking again at the boy's file. Was there anything there I'd previously missed? I saw nothing in the record and nothing in Robert's demeanor. "But you are concerned with the issue of some remuneration, is that the issue?"
"Not really, sir. I suppose if I was being offered money to do something I wouldn't do otherwise, I might feel different about it, but in this case, I'm quite happy to agree to the guest's request. I just want to be sure that such relationships between staff and guests are not against the hotel's rules. I wouldn't want to jeopardize my job here this summer, and quite frankly, Mr. Tull, I really hope you'll hire me to work here again next year." He said nothing more for a moment and then added, almost as an afterthought, "I also wanted to be sure you had no objection to my receiving such a generous tip from a guest. As you can see from my file, Mr. Tull, I really can't depend on any financial help from my family and the money would be a big help."
"Robert," I said after a moment, finding as I spoke that my heart went out to the boy. "I have no objection to anything you've told me. You're a mature young man and I know you wouldn't do anything you hadn't thought through. In fact, I suspect - no, that's not quite honest - I know such things occur between our gentlemen guests and our boys every summer. It isn't discussed, but I know. I'm just very pleased that you came to me, that you told me."
He looked so serious, so concerned, that I really expected him to start crying. Then he looked up at me and a smile slowly crept across his handsome face. "I had to tell you, Mr. Tull. I didn't want to do anything you'd be angry about."
"Let's not delude ourselves, though. You know others would put a rather different slant on all this."
"Yes, I know," he said simply.
"And give it other names."
"We've talked around the issue, haven't we? I mean we've referred to what you've been asked to do as service or an activity."
"I've realized over this last year that a big part of my life will be like that, sir. My parents would never be able to accept me as the person I am." He looked down at his feet and then went on, not looking at me. "I love them and they love me, sir, at least they love the son they think I am. I've thought a lot about that. I can let them think I'm who, what, they want me to be and retain their love, or I can be truthful with them and lose their love and break their heart."
"You have a brother, I noticed."
"He'd be the same."
"And your sister? She's younger, isn't she?"
"I don't know about Tess. She might have a chance of breaking out of their world. She's very bright and she could get scholarships to go on to college, but it would be much harder for a girl. As a guy, they just gave me some liberties at the age she is now. She'll have to fight to ever be free."
"Can she do that?"
"I don't know. She's certainly strong, probably stronger than I was at that age. If I can help her I will but I'm not sure she'll want me to help."
For the first time I sensed an underlying sadness in him which I`d not seen before. "But what about you, Robert?"
"I don't expect ever to go back there, not to live, anyway. It isn't just the narrow-mindedness, it isn't just my family. I knew I had to leave and now that I've been away for nearly a year I realize there's much more I can't accept. I don't know exactly how to explain it."
"I think I understand."
"I hoped you would. The university opened windows to another world. Mann's has opened doors."
"I am so glad, Robert. If I can ever help, please let me." When he looked up at me I saw that his cheeks were streaked with tears. "It would be an honor for me if you'd ever let me help."
"Thank you, sir."
I took a box of tissue from my drawer and went around to the chair beside him. "We still have the issue of what you intend to do. I think we need to be very honest about that."
"Do you want me to call it by it's name?"
"Do you think you need to?"
"Alright then, so long as we both understand."
"It is my decision, Mr. Tull. I just wanted to know you wouldn't object."
"But by not objecting, Robert, I'm taking a kind of responsibility, too."
"Yes, I guess I understand."
"There is a name, which you don't want to use, for what you're going to do. There is also a name for what I will be doing by knowing and not objecting."
"Yes, I see that."
"I've brought you and, over the years, a lot of other boys, here to work for the summer at Mann's. I'm paying you to provide services to our guests."
"And, perhaps by default, but with my implicit knowledge, I'm letting you extend the scope of your service to areas many would condemn."
"Yes, I see. Are you saying I should not have told you, that you'd have preferred to remain ignorant of all this?"
"No, Robert, I'm glad you came to me. It's high time I face the issue and admit, at least to myself, what's going on."
"I guess it all amounts to a kind of loss of innocence for both of us," he said with the glimmer of a smile.
"Maybe that's what live is really about, Robert, a gradual loss of innocence."
"One step at a time?"
"Yes, one step at a time. At my age you'd think I would have met all my own dragons." I don't know why his honesty prompted such candor on my part, but before I realized what I was doing, I added, "Robert, you have been honest with me. I think I should be equally honest with you."
"Yes, Mr. Tull?"
"I should tell you that I had very much this same sort of experience when I was on summer staff here as a boy."
"I rather suspected you might have, Mr. Tull."
"We`ll have to keep all this just between us."
"Yes, sir, definitely, just between us."