This is the sixty-sixth 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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"So did you get us off in the shower so we'd be able to relax together like this?" I said as I lolled in Roger's warm embrace.
"Yeah, I did," he chuckled. "We'll do it again later but I wanted us to have time together to just talk."
Talk we did, continuing as the slow, gentle English summer twilight lingered on.
I looked from the soft light coming through the sheer curtains to the clock beside the big bed. It was almost ten o'clock.
"We'll be meeting with some very interesting people, Rob," Roger said as he stroked my hair, "and I have an assignment for you."
"Yes, Professor Bardwell?" I teased.
"I'm not a professor yet, fellow, and probably won't be for a few more years."
"Well, a couple of more books and maybe some interest expressed by a few other universities and I bet you'll be the youngest full professor at Ole Miss."
"Maybe," he laughed as his left hand moved sensually over my chest.
"So what's this assignment you're giving me?"
"I want you to keep a detailed journal of this trip."
"Gees, and I thought you were serious," I laughed. "That's the kind of project we got in fifth grade, 'A Diary of My Summer Vacation.'"
My wit earned me a rather painful poke in my side.
"I am serious, damn it," Roger chuckled. " I'm not just talking about a record of where we went and what we saw. I want you to come back here every evening and write descriptions of everyone we meet, try to record the conversations, the idioms, even the accents if you can manage it. I want you to write about the feeling of places, the atmosphere."
"That could take hours!"
"So? We can't fuck all the time."
That remark earned him a reciprocal punch in the side.
"When we get back from this trip, Rob," Roger went on unphased, "I want you to have the basis of your master's thesis. Do you realize what an opportunity this all is?"
"Of course, Roger," I said. "I'm really grateful to you for getting Cohen to send me along."
"I'm not just talking about a joy ride at NSB expense, Rob. I'm talking about being in on the groundwork of a great film. You've been working with some of the best people in the film industry and you are about to meet one of the most important writers of this generation.
"I believe it is the interface between great writing and great filmmaking which is producing the masterpieces of our time, Rob. I think film is the art form of this century just as surely as painting was the art form of the sixteenth century, or the novel in the nineteenth century. The best films are still coming from novels but it won't be long before the writing of a great script is as highly regarded an art form as writing a play was in Shakespeare's England.
"You're at the cusp, Rob, no not the cusp, the cutting edge."
"Do you see me as your emissary in Hollywood, Roger?" I asked. It was the question which lay behind everything else. I'd not had the nerve before to ask it.
I guess that was clear enough.
"The Gospel according to Roger Bardwell," I said. It was meant to be a joke but my voice sounded much more serious than I'd intended.
"Don't you doubt it, Rob Ballinger. I am going to make you my apostle."
I rolled over and looked at him.
"Hungry?" Roger grinned.
"Good, I know just the place," he said as we both rolled out of bed. "I'll feed you just enough to keep you from starving. I want my boy lean and mean."
"Yes, sir," I grinned as I walked off naked toward my own bedroom.
A few minutes later, still drying myself off from a quick shower, I came back into Roger's bedroom as he sat on the edge of his bed pulling on his shoes.
"Roger?" I said, standing naked in the door.
"You let me fuck you without a condom a while ago."
"I thought you were the guru of safe sex."
"I am. I don't have unguarded sex with anybody I'm not pretty sure of."
"What makes you think I'm safe? I could have been sleeping with every guy in West Hollywood for all you know, and maybe a few women, too."
"True, but I don't think so."
"Why are you so trusting?"
"Well, remember the conversation we had when we were together in LA?"
"About the people we'd had sex with?"
"Yeah, and if you could list them, in your own mind, at least."
"Yeah, and I told you I'd had at least one experience I wasn't too proud of."
"I remember, but you did say you'd been careful."
"I was careful. I mean, I used a condom."
"Sit down here, Rob. I have a confession."
I wrapped the towel around my waist and sat beside him on the bed.
"You remember Andy Watson?"
"The MD at the NBS clinic? Sure."
"He's a friend of mine."
"Shit! He told you the results of my physical exam."
"No, not really, just that you were free of any social diseases."
"Isn't that sort of violating some sort of medical code or something?"
"Probably, but it was just between friends. He didn't tell me anything which was at all damaging to your reputation," he grinned as he patted my thigh.
"I could have had sex with some guy since, some guy who had the clap or even syphilis, for all you know."
"Have you been with anyone risky since Watson did a blood test on you?"
"So are you saying we can relax and not have to be so careful while we're together?"
"Yeah, I guess I've already said that. Besides, worse case scenario, what could we get that a few shots of penicillin wouldn't take care of?"
"Yeah, I guess you're right." It was 1972.
"In fact, Rob, I'll make a deal with you."
"Whenever we manage to get together, which probably won't be all that often after we get home from this trip, we'll be completely honest with each other where health issues are concerned. If I've been with anyone I have any concerns about, I'll let you know and we'll use condoms until we've been checked. I'll expect you to do the same, okay?"
"Yeah, deal," I grinned, leaning over and giving him a quick kiss on the lips.
"Now, go get dressed before I lose my sense of priorities and yank that towel off."
"Okay," I laughed as I headed for my own room, "just tell me what to wear. Are we still talking coat and tie?"
"No, slacks and a sweater will be fine."
"Okay, you got it, but I do have one more question," I said from the doorway.
"Just how well do you know Dr. Watson?"
"Well enough to say he's a great fuck?"
"You slut," I laughed, then blushed, realizing what I'd just called my favorite former professor.
"Well, yeah," Roger laughed, quelling my embarrassment, "but you already knew that."
"So maybe I should ask him out when I get back to LA."
"He already asked me if I'd object to his calling you."
"Yeah? What did you say?"
"I told him you were your own man."
We walked through the night streets, over to Regent Street and then along it to Piccadilly Circus, where we stood for a while as I gazed in wonder at the lights. I'd never seen Times Square. I'd not yet been to New York, and the huge array of illuminated signs went beyond anything I'd ever seen before.
We walked on along Shaftesbury Avenue and then left into a maze of narrow, twisting streets.
"Where are we?"
"Soho," Roger said. "Whores, illegal drugs and some of the best food in London."
"It looks like an illustration for a Dickens novel," I said.
"Not far wrong. This part of London has probably changed less than most in the last hundred years."
Roger steered me along a gloomy street, passing a few smoky pubs and an Indian restaurant. Finally, we turned into what looked like little more than an alleyway, to a narrow door, covered with a curtain made of strands of beads and into a small Chinese restaurant.
To call the place a restaurant was an exaggeration. It was only one small room with built in benches along the two end walls and a few tables and chairs. The walls were painted dark red and covered with complex images. The tiny space was filled with the rich fragrances of incense, pungent food and spice.
"Ah, Mister," an old man crooned, rising from the end of the bench on our right. He'd been sitting against the back wall with one leg raised and resting on the bench on which he sat. He approached Roger, bowing several times, pressing his wrinkled hands together in a prayer like manner, and saying over and over again, "so pleased, Mister, so pleased."
"You've obviously been here before," I said to Roger, almost in an amused whisper.
"I'm almost family," Roger smiled back as the old gentleman led us to a table against the right wall.
"Two bowls, Chai," Roger said as we took our places, "and a pot of tea."
"I gather we're having soup," I said when the old man went into some dark back room.
"What they serve here is too good to just call soup," Roger said.
"And there's no question of choice?"
"No, what they make is what you get, but it's always wonderful."
Within minutes the old man was back, first with a pot of tea and two handleless cups, then, moments later, with huge steaming bowls. They were almost a foot in diameter and he could only carry one at a time, bringing Roger's first and then mine.
I looked at the strange brew with some trepidation. It was a thin, almost clear broth with any number of odd looking bits, some floating, others submerged as if they'd drowned in the murky depths.
As I was still looking at the bowl Chai returned again to spread huge cloth napkins over our laps and place porcelain spoons and chopsticks beside the bowls.
When I looked up again Roger was staring across the table at me with a very amused grin on his face.
"Try it, you'll love it," he laughed when Chai had gone.
With some apprehension I used the porcelain spoon to convey some of the broth to my lips. To my amazement, Roger was right. It was wonderful, pungent, rich, an amalgam of a dozen flavors, all blended into something exotic and totally alien to my experience.
"Believe me, it's habit forming."
We both ate in silence for a while, making gradual progress.
Eventually, our appetites abated, we laid the spoons aside and continued our earlier conversation.
"So you told Watson I'm my own man," I said, hoping I could get Roger to talk more about him.
"Yeah, and you are, your own man, I mean."
"You don't have any claim on me?"
"Nope, and you don't have any claim on me, other than the claims of friendship. Are you okay with that?"
"Yeah, I am."
"Good," he said, then fiddled with his chopsticks, lifting what looked part of a small squid to his mouth and obviously relishing it before speaking again. "I've always suspected, Rob, that you and I have a lot in common. I guess that's one reason I didn't want anything to happen between us, anything of a personal or sexual nature, until we could relate as equals."
"I don't feel as if I can ever really be your equal, Roger, you must know that."
"Bull shit. You are my equal in several different plains, intellectual, physical, emotional. You may lack sophistication but half the fun for me is showing you things you've never experienced before. And in some very real ways your lack of sophistication, and the worldliness which usually goes with it, is one of your most endearing qualities."
"The naive country bumpkin from Spring River, Mississippi, you mean."
"The fresh, smart, enthusiastic kid with a lot of intellectual potential," he said. "The strikingly handsome young man with an amazingly beautiful body, who knows his way around a bedroom and isn't inhibited by a bunch of external standards, that's what I mean."
"All true. And there's more, Rob." He looked off into space as if collecting his thought, then, after a moment, went on. "I do regard you as an equal. I suspect that we are alike in some very important ways."
"Okay, but I still find that hard to accept, your seeing me as your equal, I mean. But what do you mean about ways we're alike?"
"Well for starters, let's look at the sexual issues."
"Okay," I grinned.
"Seriously, how many people have you had sex with since you arrived in LA?"
"Well," I stalled, counting on the fingers of one hand, "four and a half, including you."
"How in the hell did you get a half?" he laughed.
I told him about Billy.
"Well, there you go, Rob. In some ways you've been treating that kid the way I treated you while you were my student."
"You said you felt it was irresponsible for a teacher to have sex with a student."
"Right, but I also felt it would not have been fair to you. I wasn't what you needed then, just as you think you're not what Billy needs now."
"Okay, I can see that."
"Of the other three, excluding myself, you said one was a guy you felt ashamed about."
"Yeah, a guy I picked up on the beach, or he picked me up."
"Pick-ups are always by mutual agreement, don't worry about it. Just tell me about the other two, were they men or women?"
"One of each."
"Good, I think you need to try both sides of the street."
"Do you have any women friends?"
"Is it serious?"
"It's serious and mutually enjoyable but we're both independent and we both have sex with other people as we see fit."
"On open relationship."
"Yes, open, and no expectations on either side that it will ever be anything more."
"And you obviously have other male friends," I said, staring down into the still partially filled bowl.
"Quite a few, does that bother you?"
"No, Roger, not at all. I assumed you were having sex with the friend in Memphis you've mentioned. I don't think it's any of my business."
"Good man," he said. "That's part of what I meant about our being alike. I know you have other friends and you know I do as well. I think the truth is that neither of us is much suited to monogamy."
"Just a couple of sluts," I laughed, thinking about my embarrassment over calling him that before.
He chuckled. "Maybe. It used to bother me a little. Our society values faithful long-term relationships, even between same sex partners. Even though the straight community doesn't like to admit it, they'd much rather see two gay guys living together happily ever after. I think it makes all the bored straight married guys think they don't have it so bad after all.
"I used to think maybe there was something wrong with me, maybe I really was a slut, a really promiscuous person. But as I got older I realized that monogamy really isn't what most of us are really conditioned for. I think most people are programmed to have multiple partners, we just don't like to admit it because of all our straightlaced social standards."
"So you think we can excuse promiscuity on the basis of our nature?"
"I don't think sexual orientation is a matter of choice and I don't think monogamy is natural."
"So you're saying that if it's not natural we aren't under any ethical or moral obligation to conform to society's standards."
"I didn't actually go that far, but I do think that society tries to impose standards which are felt to be for the common good. Human societies have always sacrificed individual rights for the perceived good of the community at large. Anything which challenges the status quo is very upsetting to the moral authorities. One man, one woman, and in more enlightened times, maybe two men, or two women. I determined that I, at least, wasn't programmed that way.
"As you got older you figured that out?"
"So how old were you anyway, Roger, when you decided you weren't meant to be a faithful partner to one other person?"
"Fourteen, fifteen maybe."
I guffawed so loudly that Chai, who'd been dozing, almost fell off his bench.
"Hey, I started early!" he grinned.
"Yeah, I guess so," I laughed, "earlier than me, anyway."
"Well, some of us are late bloomers."
We again sat in silence as I fished out a few bits of carrot and some long strands of noodles.
"Are you picking at your food?"
"Yeah," I smiled over at him. "Will we hurt Mr. Chai's feelings if we don't finish this?"
"No, I've never made it through an entire bowl."
"It is great, though."
"This is always one of my first stops when I come to London." We sat in silence for a few moments longer and then Roger rose and walked back to hand the old man a couple of bills. I'd not yet figured out the British currency and had no idea how much our meal had cost. I suspected very little.
We walked back to the hotel through damp streets. A light drizzle had blown in and our sweaters, beaded with thousands of minute droplets of water, glistened in the light of street lamps and illuminated signs.
As we road up in the elevator which, Roger reminded me, was called a lift, I asked him what he had in mind, once we were back in our suite.
"Your call, kiddo. I'm versatile."
"How'd you like to fuck my ass?"
"I was hoping you'd say that."
That time we somehow ended up in my bed, naked and writhing together. I was on top for a while, which was great, knowing that eventually we'd change positions.
We both loved kissing and we made the most of it, our mouths locked together for incredibly long periods as our tongues danced and our bodies meshed.
Eventually Roger rolled us over so he was on top and then maneuvered his legs between mine. He kissed me again and then rose up, kneeling between my legs and lifted them so they rested over his shoulders.
Bending forward he took the head of my cock between his lips and ran his tongue in maddening circles around it. I gasped as he licked his way down the underside of my cock and then took a leisurely tour of my balls, sucking, biting, generally driving me wild.
I knew it would make no sense to protest. I wanted him to fuck me but I knew he'd only do it in his own good time. His own good time would only come when he'd first driven me nearly crazy with desire.
Roger looked up at me from the vantage point of my crotch. He grinned. "How we doing, Sport?"
He smiled a little satanic smile and dove into the gaping cleft of my ass, rolling by body back until my knees were against my chest. I was taking shallow breaths now, hardly able to fill my lungs in that position, beginning to get light headed, beginning to go into some sort of sensual overload.
His tongue had found my pulsing ass and was licking over it again and again, then leaving it to work his wet tongue in circles, moving further and further from the bud of my ass, then slowly, infuriatingly, moving back in again. Finally, on the third or fourth torturous circuit, he plunged his stiff tongue into my ass.
"Oh, yeah," I growled again.
He pushed in, pulled out, leaving me wet and needy, leaving me wanting more than his tongue.
Roger was a cruel lover, making me suffer, making me beg. He took his sweet time; tongue, one finger, then another, his tongue again, then two fingers shoving in, twisting, making me squirm, making me cry out in need.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, he rose up and looked at me again.
"Tell me, baby, what 'ya want?"
"Your cock, man, please."
"All you have to do is ask."
He positioned himself against me and drove in.
I gasped at the suddenness of his entry, but was so open that I felt no pain.
I groaned as that magic arch of his cock struck my prostate dead center, sending me nearly into orbit.
I was already so close to coming that a few hard thrusts would have put me over the edge, but Roger wasn't going to let me get off that easily.
After a few brain bashing jolts of his amazing cock against my throbbing prostate, he pulled back, nearly out, just letting me feel the head of him inside the ring of my ass, and leaned forward so his whole weight was on me again.
His nasty lips found mine and I tasted myself on his tongue, the raunchy tang of my own ass.
He shoved his tongue into my gasping mouth, making me take the full hard length of it, making me writhe and whimper and wail for more.
Eventually, when I thought I'd die for lack of air, he pulled back and looked down into my eyes.
"I love to make you beg, baby, love to feel you squirm."
"Yeah, oh yeah," I cried.
"I'm going have you every way there is. I'm going use you like a whore. I'm going to make you plead for more."
"Oh yeah, man, fuck me senseless," I groaned, knowing that he could.
He rose up and adjusted his cock in my ass, finding the perfect position, the perfect angle of assault.
Then, in one heart stopping thrust, he drove into me.
together with a roar.
To be continued.