This is the sixty-fifth chapter of an ongoing series. I've appreciated all the comments, questions and encouragement I've received from readers and hope to continue hearing from you. I try to answer all messages promptly. If I'm slow at times it is only because of the pressures of work.
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I settled back in the wide leather seat and let the time slip by. The low drone of the huge jets lulled me into an easy, dreamless sleep. From time to time I roused a bit to hear Roger talking softly with one of the cabin crew, then he too settled down. I guess he slept; he told me later that he was fully rested.
The days leading up to our departure had been hectic, even exhausting. I'd packed according to Roger's directions, choosing a selection of clothing which seemed rather formal after the easy informality of California. He'd gone so far as to say I should wear at least a sport jacket and tie for the flights, but in 1972 air travel was certainly a lot more formal than it is now.
I'd noticed a small placard on a garage across the alleyway from the Alvarado Court carports and had been directed by it to an elderly woman whose house faced the adjacent street. She wanted to rent a double garage which she had no real use for and I was happy to have it. It meant that when I returned from London and took delivery on my new Firebird, I'd have an enclosed and lockable place for it, rather than the open sided carport space provided with my apartment.
On Thursday afternoon I managed to go by Nita's office for a moment and got a big bosomy hug, but a rather chaste kiss.
"Well, sweetie, have a ball," she smiled, "and come for confession when you get home." I wasn't at all sure if the kind of confession I might make was the sort she'd want to hear, but I assured her that I'd have her for dinner next time.
At the studio carpool I checked in with Billy who, when he finished his shift, followed me to the auto dealership where I said good-bye to the yellow 1970 Firebird. It had been lent to me by the agency to use until my own car was delivered and I wondered if it would now go onto the used car lot or be kept to be lent by some other customer.
To make up for my cool treatment of him the last time we'd met, I suggested dinner on our way to my apartment, which obviously pleased him. We went to the little Italian restaurant on Wiltshire where I'd gone several times before.
We had spaghetti and meatballs and then spumoni for desert. When we got to my apartment I didn't suggest Billy come up and he didn't ask, for which I was grateful. I did lean over the floor shift in his jeep to give him a hug.
"Thanks, Billy. You've been a big help."
"What are friends for," he grinned, then added, "I'll see you in the morning."
I'd made a series of calls that evening, to my folks of course, but also to Steve, Daniel and Sammy, and finally to Rick and Deb. I considered trying to reach Joyce but thought better of it. All of them knew I was leaving for London, of course, but I said my good-byes and told them to look for postcards.
My father told me to be careful about pickpockets and my mother cried. It was the furthest either of her boys had ever been away and seemed to be more worrying to her than having me in LA.
Rick was still excited about the new baby but I could tell from his voice that he was exhausted.
"Are you guys sleeping enough?" I asked.
"Deb naps during the day but she's up a lot with nausea and of course I can't sleep when she's sick."
"And you have to get up for work every morning."
"Yeah," he sort of laughed. "The guys at the office all sympathize and tell me they've had the same experience when their wives have been pregnant. They all say it gets better after the first three months."
"Well, take care of yourself," I said, not knowing what else to add.
"Yeah, I just zone out on weekends."
I'd intended to get by Hank's antique shop but things had gotten so busy that I'd not managed it. I did call him and said a quick good-bye. He told me he'd found a little present for me but would keep it until I got home.
When I finally got to bed I slept fitfully, not because I had a pregnant wife, but just because of excitement over the trip.
On Friday morning Billy had been there as planned, not in his jeep this time, but in a studio van. He'd gotten me to LAX in good time, despite the heavy traffic. He helped me with my bags at the curb and then shook hands, giving me a slight hug. "I guess I'll see you when you get back," he said.
"I'll try to get word to you so maybe you can schedule a studio van to pick me up."
"Absolutely, if you come in while I'm on duty, otherwise, I'll bring the jeep and get you on my own time."
I checked in, got through customs with my new passport, and ended up waiting for over an hour in the departure lounge.
I was in the tourist section from LA to New York, which made me appreciate the space and luxury of the business section on the New York to London flight all the more.
The food service had been elegant and the cabin crew constantly attentive. I'd never experienced such a flight.
"Wake up, kiddo," I heard Roger say as he gently shook my shoulder.
I was seated by the window and he was leaning over me to look out at the landscape below.
"Where are we?" I managed to say.
"On our final approach."
I looked out the window on my left as we flew over brilliant green fields and an occasional village. I saw what must have been a large manor house nestled in neat grounds. We swept over a small river with buildings on its backs and then more fields, manicured sports grounds and a school. Then suddenly the engines seemed to rev up to a higher volume and pitch and we were over the approach lights and then the runways of Heathrow.
I leaned back in my seat as the landing gear touched down with a squeal and turned to Roger when he said, "welcome to England, Mr. Ballinger."
The concourses seemed endless, followed by the waits at passport control. The British officials were courteous but curt. We went on to baggage claim, were we pulled out bags onto luggage carts and went on through wide doors marked "Nothing to Declare."
Suddenly we were in a vast arrival hall, separated from crowds of people there to welcome friends and relatives. Roger steered us to the left and at the end of a barrier we were confronted by a bevy of men and women holding placards with corporate logos and boldly printed names. One neatly dressed young woman held a blue placard with the NSB insignia at the top. Under it was written Dr. Bardwell and Mr. Ballinger.
Roger had never been at all insistent about the use of his title, although I certainly knew he had a Ph.D.. Seeing it written on the placard reminded me of his primary role in our mission. I was here to help him.
We approached the woman holding the placard and identified ourselves.
"You made it through customs in good time," she said in a very proper British accent. "I'm Valerie Jones and Oliver, one of our drivers, is waiting at the car, if you'll just follow me." With that she turned to make her way through the crowd. We emerged into dazzling sunlight on the curb of a vast network of service drives, across a pedestrian crossing and on into a car parking area marked Licensed Limousine Only.
A large black car of some unknown make stood waiting. It had the NSB insignia emblazoned discreetly on the front doors. By it stood our driver, dressed in a dark charcoal suit and very official looking cap.
We transferred our luggage to the huge trunk, which Oliver referred to as the boot, then slid into the spacious rear seats. Valerie had already taken the front seat and for a moment I had the notion that she was going to drive until I remembered that things were reversed here. Oliver got in on the right and we were off.
"You have today and tomorrow free, as you requested, Mr. Bardwell," Valerie said as she handed us each neatly prepared folders containing a fairly detailed schedule of meetings and appointments which, I noticed with relief, began at a reasonable hour on Monday. Turning through the schedule I saw that it left generous amounts of time free. Roger had said he'd be sure we had ample time to do some sightseeing.
As the huge car made it out of the airport complex and onto a modern divided highway, I was again surprised by the vivid green of the landscape and the general neatness of the areas we drove through.
We proceeded through a series of roundabouts, going each time in a clockwise direction. Then we were on an express highway and very soon began to see the increasing scale of buildings as we left the suburbs and approached London itself.
In less than half an hour we were pulling to a stop at a small but very elegant hotel. Roger told me later that he always asked to stay there, and when we entered it was clear that the staff knew him and seemed sincerely pleased to see him.
As soon as our luggage had been transferred to a porter's cart Valerie said her good-byes, and she and Oliver pulled away.
At the concierge's desk we were given our room number and Roger was told that NSB had left a cash deposit which he could draw on as he saw fit.
Our room turned out to be a pleasant suite with a living room, which the porter referred to as a lounge, and two bedrooms, each with its own bath.
Roger took care of the tips and we were alone.
"This is a lot nicer than I expected," I said, then grinned and added, "I was sort of expecting one room with a double bed."
"Well, for appearances I asked for a two bedroom suite, but I suspect one of those beds won't be used much."
"So what do you have in mind, Dr. Bardwell?"
"If you'd like, I can give you a demonstration right now, although I sort of thought we'd do a little sightseeing and leave the randy sex until tonight."
"That sounds like a workable plan," I grinned.
Over the next ten hours Roger took me on an amazing walking tour of central London. Our hotel was in Mayfair and we made our way over to Oxford Street, down Regents Street with a detour over to Savile Row. We stopped in at a tailor's shop Roger said he'd often used. Before leaving we'd both ordered sport jackets. They took what seemed like endless measurements and showed us hundreds of swatches of elegant fabric. I chose a brown and black hounds tooth tweed, light weight by British standards, but more practical for California wear than the typical heavier Harris and Shetland tweeds. That visit to Milbourne's was the first of many over the years since.
We went on by Burlington House to see a print exhibit Roger had read about, and then on to a small but very chic restaurant on Sackville Street, just off Piccadilly. We had a late lunch, which Roger said would be our big meal of the day, and then went on to the National Gallery, only leaving when the guards politely told us it was closing time.
As we walked back to our hotel Roger asked me if I was hungry.
"Not really," I said. "That was a huge lunch and it was fairly late when we ate."
"Good," he said. "I was going to suggest an English high tea, but we'll save that for another day. Let's go back to the hotel and relax. If we want anything later we can call room service or just wander out later tonight."
At the hotel we went our own ways, he to his room and I to mine. The bedrooms were virtually identical and the decisions of which would be mine and which his had been made by the porter by where he'd taken our bags.
My luggage was a very new set of black nylon bags, a graduation present from my parents. Roger's, I'd noticed, were a battered mix of leather bags which looked as if they'd been around the world several times and had a lot of character as a result.
"Shower, kiddo," Roger said as we went our separate ways, "and stay naked."
I knew what he had in mind.
In the luxurious bathroom I used the toilet then carefully showered and shaved. I guess I was too slow for him because while I was still in the shower Roger came in.
"Primping?" he said, sliding back the glass door of the shower stall.
"Yeah, I wanted to be real pretty for you."
I stepped to the business end of the stall and he joined me. It was a large space but our bodies touched.
"Give me the soap," he said and I handed it to him. Even though I'd almost finished, Roger lathered my chest and stomach, then with no hesitation, began to stroke my cock and balls with his soapy fingers.
"Slow down," I moaned, not wanting to come too quickly.
"Do me," he responded, handing me the soap, but as I reached out to wash his chest, he turned and put his splayed hands against the tile wall.
I lathered his shoulders and back, working slowly down to his rear. When I began to lather his butt, he spread his legs. I worked my soapy fingers into his crack, letting them linger over the pulsing bud of his ass.
"Probe my ass," he growled as I worked a finger into him, then said, "deeper, open me up."
I worked in another finger and felt the muscles of his ass ring quickly relax.
"Yeah, three fingers now," he moaned and I quickly complied. When he had relaxed again he turned a little, looked over his shoulder at me and then down at my crotch. My cock was completely hard. "Lube your cock up with some suds and fuck me."
"I don't have a condom."
"Fuck me, damn it."
I did as he said, lathering my hard penis with a rich fist full of suds and then pressing it against his pulsing hole. I slid in easily, bracing myself against his broad, muscular back, and then moving my hands down to embrace him, running my hands over his hard chest as I worked my cock into his ass.
"Oh, yeah," he groaned.
I moved my hands down to his groin. With one I grasped his balls and with the other, I stroked his amazing cock, remembering as I worked it, how it curved up in a gentle arch toward his belly. It was that curve which gave him the ability to work my prostate when he fucked me, sending waves of electricity through my body.
I was leaning over him now, much of my weight on him. My cock was fully in him and I was thrusting with as much force as I could manage in that position.
He bucked back against me and jerked forward as my hand jacked his cock. We were both groaning, both nearly there.
Well, to hell with all my primping, I thought. I'd somehow envisioned a slow, romantic evening, kissing, hugging maybe, and eventually getting off in some slow, gentle romantic way. Candles and roses! I should have known that wasn't likely with Roger in the game. Maybe, I thought after we'd both come a few times, maybe after the rough stuff and we were both worn out and the edge was off, maybe then I could expect to lie quietly in his arms, feel him curl into me, kissing me, letting me kiss him.
But for now it was pure lust, animal lust, two strong, muscular male animals, rutting in the throes of sexual heat.
Dr. Roger Bardwell, the dignified professor was nowhere in sight. This was the other side of the man, not seen by his academic colleagues, not known by many of his students. This was the man who wrestled naked on a sweat spattered pad in the basement of his Oxford, Mississippi house, taking his opponent or being taken by him.
But why, my overheated brain tried to figure, was he so willingly now giving himself to me? Was there a part of him that wanted to be dominated, or was it enough that he could give himself when and to whom he chose?
The complexities of his psyche were too much for me.
I gave up to the lust, to the pounding of my body into his, to the smell of soap and steam and hard male sex.
"Oh, fuck." he growled, and I felt
his ass clinch and his cock explode.
His sphincter clamped down on my dick and I erupted, boiling over, scalding his bowels with my seed.
"Oh, fucking yes," he said, now less a growl than a hiss.
My full weight was on him. I was
exhausted and felt his body slide down with me on top of him until we were
a quaking knot of legs and arms on the floor of the stall.
Later, rinsed and dried and smelling of soap and shampoo, we lay in each other's arms in Roger's bed. I thought it was somehow symbolic that we ended up in his room rather than mine. In fact, we slept in his bed each night we were in London.
Over the next two or three hours we talked softly, lying naked and twisted together, as the long English evening wore on.
Looking back at that strange evening I realized later that in those few hours everything I'd ever learned from him during four years as his student was reviewed and given new meaning. We didn't talk about the details of novels or the structure of plays but we did discuss the underlying themes of literature and life, the structure of lives given over to the workmanship of writing and the joy of words.
I also realized that in that conversation,
that dialogue, my life was laid out before me.
It was is if Roger had seen my future, studied the cards, or gazed into a crystal ball. He wasn't imposing his dream on me, or if he were, it was an imposition which had long since taken place. He was just confirming my own ambitions, my own hopes. But he was also putting his mark on me, branding me as a Bardwell man, a product of his genius.
To be continued.