This is the third of five chapters of a new Absolute Convergence sequel.
While this story is being added to the existing Absolute Convergence file, it constitutes an independent, self-contained narrative. I've given this sequel the subtitle Alvarado Court for reasons which will become obvious as the story unfolds. While it will be helpful for readers to know the original Absolute Convergence series, in which all the principal characters were introduced, this story should stand alone.
Absolute Convergence made its first appearance in January, 2001, as a series which eventually ran to a total of eighty chapters, the last of which was posted in January, 2004. I never anticipated the series continuing for so long and I am still amazed by the incredible loyalty of readers who stayed with me from the beginning. I am also sincerely appreciative for those newer readers who have contacted me from time to time to say that they've discovered the series and ventured through the collected chapters.
I'm always glad to receive comments, questions, criticism and encouragement and hope to continue hearing from you. I try to answer all messages promptly. If I'm slow at times it's only because of the pressures of work.
Andrew continues to give me much needed proofing and editorial help for which I am sincerely grateful.
The author holds exclusive copyright (© 2004) to this story. It may not be reproduced in any form without the specific written permission of the author. It is assigned to the Nifty Archive under the terms of their submission agreement but it may not be copied or archived on any other site without the written permission of the author.
All the stories I've posted on NIFTY can be found by looking under my name in the NIFTY Prolific Authors lists. If you'd like to receive e-mail notification of subsequent postings, previews of upcoming stories, and other bits and pieces, please let me know by sending your request to the e-mail address below.
When I awoke Sunday morning and reached for William, he wasn't there. I rolled over onto my side and saw him standing on the deck outside our bedroom. He was naked, leaning against the railing, his beautiful backside thrust toward me invitingly.
A mug of steaming coffee sat on the
railing beside him as he gazed off toward the sea. I could tell just by
looking at the gray, metallic sky that we were in for another hot, sultry
day. LA in the summer is often covered with a pall of clouds, the Marine
Layer, which traps heat and the city's pollution, making it a stinking
oven filled with tainted air. We didn't usually get such weather until
later in the summer, but even though it was still pleasant with the cool
morning air, it was obvious the sprawling city would be steaming by early
I wandered out onto the deck and put my arms around William, pressing my groin against his butt.
"Morning lover," he sighed, turning a little toward me so we could kiss. He tasted of toothpaste and coffee. I knew my own mouth was stale but he didn't complain.
"Brazen of us, being out here naked," I said.
"Nobody can see."
He was right, of course. The railing that surrounded the deck was made of closely spaced vertical slats and it would have been impossible for anyone to see us below the waist, even if they were close enough. In fact, our house sat high above the Pacific Coast Highway and the slope below our deck was covered with a dense growth of low brush and sapling trees. To the left and right we were shielded from our neighbors by the projecting wings of our house.
William and I often sunbathed naked on the deck and occasionally, in the evening, we made love there, lying together on a double lounge, or while cavorting in the whirlpool tub.
As I pressed into him my hardening cock explored the crack, seeking its mark.
"Yeah," he moaned, spreading his legs and leaning further forward, bracing himself on the railing as he pressed back against me.
"We need lube."
"You're wet enough," he groaned, reaching back to guide my pulsing cock to his tight hole. He was probably right, my dick was drooling.
"Yes, fuck me."
I pressed in, feeling the tight muscles of his ass give way, feeling the incredible heat of his body as my shaft slid in. William pressed back, impaling himself on me, wiggling his lovely ass as I penetrated him.
I leaned forward, placing my hands on the deck rail either side of his lowered shoulders.
"Oh, yeah," he moaned, sounding more
American every day.
I slid in slowly, giving him time to adjust, then, when he nodded, I pulled back and slid in again, not so gently this time.
"Yeah, Robert, hard," he growled
and I began to pump into him with force.
It didn't last long. We were like a pair of fucking rabbits, William humping back against me as I pounded into him. It was urgent and hot and wonderful.
I felt my body tighten as his stiffened under me.
"Yes, Will, yes," I growled as my balls boiled over and my cock erupted deep in his bowels.
"Oh fucking yes," he groaned as we both convulsed in the throes of our passion.
I slumped forward, leaning over him, my sweaty chest pressed into his damp back. We stayed there, locked together as our breathing slowed and my cock softened, slipping out of him with a rude pop.
When we'd recovered we stood and he turned toward me, drawing me into a powerful hug as our lips merged.
We kissed, softly, lovingly. As we
parted, William whispered, "shower."
"Yes," I agreed. Mug in hand, he went through the sliding patio doors and on toward the bathroom. I followed.
Five hours later we were landing at Lake Airport, where a car from what was now called the Tahoe Conference Center met us. It was just four o'clock when we pulled through the rustic gates of what for us was still Dex Cohen's old place.
Over the years since our first visit
many things had changed. The old house was more or less the same but a
new lodge had been built which contained thirty hotel style guest rooms
and a couple of large meeting rooms. The place was used for corporate conferences
and retreats but, fortunately, no groups or other guests were expected
during the week William and I would be there. The newer buildings
tried to fit into the rustic atmosphere of the place but the architects
had failed to pull it off. The newer additions were larger and out
of scale with the older structures and behind their fake rustic facades,
were little more then concrete and steel boxes, not unlike a typical Holiday
While some things had changed, others had remained the same. Mrs. Abernathy, who had been Cohen's housekeeper, still ran the old house, which was reserved for smaller groups and senior corporate staff. The cook, whom we'd long suspected was Mrs. Abernathy's companion, was also there. Both women were in their early fifties but seemed ageless to William and me.
One of the real pleasures of our visits to the Lake Tahoe property was seeing Sam Turner and Nat Barlow. When NSB had decided to keep the property after Dex Cohen's death, they'd been offered positions as managers of the place with its expanded conference facilities, and had lived there now for over ten years. Their jobs were a combination of administrative and security work and they seemed to have thrived in that environment. It was rare for them to come back to LA at all, and never for long visits.
Now in their mid forties, they were still both strikingly handsome men. They made a point of maintaining themselves, just as William and I did, and seemed to be in as good a physical condition as they were when we first new them.
They, as well as Mrs. Abernathy, were at the old house to greet us when the driver pulled up to the front entry.
"Hi, guys," Sam said as we stepped from the car. Nat and the driver, a young blond kid I'd not seen before, took our bags and we made our way upstairs to the big corner room we'd shared on all our visits.
"So is this R and R or a working visit?" Sam asked once we'd put our bags in the room.
"A little of both," William answered for both of us. "I brought some financial reports I need to review and Robert has some new writing project to work on."
"Well, relax and let us know if we
can do anything for you. Miriam will serve dinner at seven so you have
time to relax or go for a stroll."
"Are you and Nat joining us for dinner?" I asked, looking forward to a chance to catch up on any news they might have.
"If you like," Sam said. "Are you
sure you don't want to be alone?"
"We have plenty of time to be together," William responded for both of us. "Please join us."
"Okay then," Sam said as he prepared to go. "We'll see you at seven."
We unpacked and walked down to the old boat house. LA had been steaming but here, at an elevation over 6,000 feet, the air was clear and cool and full of the fragrance of pine.
We stood on the shore, looking out
at the deep glacial lake as little waves lapped at the stones below us.
"I always feel as if I've come home when we're here," William said, slipping his arm around my waist and drawing me to him.
"Yes, the closest place to paradise I know," I agreed.
"When I die, Robert," he said, his
voice low and serious, "I want my ashes scattered here."
"Yes, I feel the same way, but that's a long way off."
"I hope so," he smiled, leaning forward to kiss me. "I want as many years with you as possible."
Over dinner that evening Sam and
Nat told us the NSB gossip they'd picked up from recent corporate groups
who'd been up for meetings.
"There seems to be a lot of buzz about a possible merger with Endicott," Sam said.
"Endicott is a publisher, magazines and books. Why would NSB be interested in merging with them? Or more to the point, why would Endicott be interested in getting into the film and entertainment business?" I asked.
"That's certainly the way things
are going," William said. "I've heard Peter say NSB needs to broaden its
interests, develop a larger marketing base."
"Has he said anything specifically about Endicott to you?" I asked.
"No, but I've heard general chitchat about some big move."
"Do you think that sort of merger
would have any effect on Starmark or Wordsmith?" I asked, suddenly feeling
very protective of our own interests.
"I don't think so," William assured me.
"We've wondered, too," Sam said. "You know Nat and I are still officially part of RDF Security."
"And RDF is a wholly owned subsidiary
of NSB," William asserted.
"Exactly," Sam said with a nod.
"Well, gentlemen," William said, pushing his plate away, "Robert and I agreed years ago that we couldn't worry ourselves sick over all the changes at NSB, let alone in the industry as a whole. We do the best job we can and figure if things change too much, or if NSB falls apart, we can always find work with other studios. I'd say the same thing applies to the two of you. You've been very successful with RDF and you have excellent reputations. Men with your abilities and experience will always be in demand."
William was right, of course. He and I had decided early in our relationship that change was the only permanent condition in the film industry. It might not be constant, but it was continual, and we'd just have to live with it. We'd been very fortunate, however, in that we both had residual income from past work and from my books. While never best sellers, they had continued to bring in royalties.
"It does seem," I added, "as if some corporate type who knows nothing about films or the creative process, is always trying to leave their mark on the film industry."
"Suits," Nat added. "We see them up here at corporate meetings all the time."
"Well, the awful truth," William said as he finished his coffee, "is that the Suits is us, to paraphrase Walt Kelley."
"Not really, Lover," I grinned. "I
refuse to be identified with those corporate tugs."
Later that evening, back in our room,
William and I lay in each other's arms, making love slowly, gently, as
we talked about our life and our future together. We were so fortunate,
having each other, everything else became secondary.
We quickly fell into a leisurely routine, the usual practice for us while at Tahoe. We woke early, had breakfast in our room, then we each worked on the projects at hand until lunch at one o'clock. After lunch, we went on walks or did some boating. Later in the afternoon we retreated to our room for a nap and some unhurried love-making.
Dinner was always at seven, and after
a little conversation or a few hands of bridge, we were back in our room,
snug in bed. It was no wonder that Tahoe was for us, the nearest thing
to heaven. We always returned to LA reinvigorated and ready to tackle whatever
On Monday afternoon William and I
were down at the boathouse rigging the little sixteen foot sloop when Sam
and Nat came in. They helped us raise the mast and get the lines adjusted,
then sat with us as we talked about wind patterns on the lake.
At some point the conversation turned to work and Sam asked what sort of project I was working on. I gave him a brief description of the William Desmond Taylor file Nita Ball had sent me and told him I was thinking about using it as the springboard for a novel.
"I remember reading about that case," Nat said. "It was mentioned in a criminology class Sam and I took eight or ten years ago."
"Yeah," Sam agreed, "I remember that everyone had a theory. It is amazing , though, that it would have taken place at Alvarado Court, more or less where you two lived for a while. But it's understandable that it's the unsolved cases that get everybody's attention."
"That's certainly the case with Taylor's murder," I agreed. "I brought along two books on the case. Both authors have done amazing research and reached completely different conclusions. The thing that gets me is that they are equally believable."
"So you don't have any theory of your own?" Sam asked.
"No, not yet, any way, but I'm not sure it really matters. I think the direction I want to take has less to do with Taylor's death than with his life. I'd like to write about the gay community in Hollywood in the 1920s. It was an amazing period and you can bet some wild stuff was going on."
"All under cover, so to speak," Sam laughed.
"Yes, very much under cover," I agreed. "Things are so much more open now, by comparison, that we really don't have any idea what the life of a gay man was like in 1922."
"Specifically 1922?" Sam asked.
"Yes, the year Taylor was murdered."
"Would you let Nat and me see those
files? Maybe we could give you some professional insights into the crime."
"Sure, Sam," I readily agreed. "I'd appreciate your opinion."
When we went down to dinner that
evening I took the file along, giving it to Sam and Nat.
The next morning, Tuesday, while
William and I were having breakfast in our room, Sam knocked on the open
door and asked if we'd mind his coming in to talk about the Taylor files.
"I can tell you one thing," he said as he sat with us. We offered to call down for another tray but he said he'd already eaten. He did take a cup of coffee, but it was clear he wanted to get down to business.
"One thing?" I asked when we had him settled.
"Yes, the whole investigation was botched."
"You mean by bad police practices
or by the publicity?"
"Both. From what I know of police procedures, even those common sixty years ago, the entire crime scene was completely compromised long before any real investigation could have been done. If these accounts are right, there were at least six people, maybe twice that number, in and out of Taylor's bungalow before any real attempt was made to secure the place."
"So fingerprints and that sort of thing were compromised."
"Yes, even if they tried to lift prints they couldn't have found much. Even the grounds were trampled by neighbors and reporters and no effort was made to cordon off the site."
"Do you think it was just bad police work or the result of all the excitement and notoriety?"
"I'd go further," Sam said, setting aside his coffee. "I suspect there may have been a sort of conspiracy right from the beginning. I don't think the police or their political bosses wanted to find the murder."
"Do you think they were protecting someone?" William asked.
"Perhaps," Sam said, "but I'm wondering
if it weren't the result of the kind of thing you were talking about last
"Homophobia, fear of finding out too much?"
"Yes, perhaps. Maybe it was about whose reputation would be ruined if Taylor's private life were investigated too thoroughly."
"So are you suggesting that some
influential people, people who could get to the politicians, who in turn
could get to the police, wanted the entire thing hushed up?"
"Well," Sam considered, "they must have realized the murder would get a huge amount of press attention."
"It made first page headlines clear across the country, even in England," I said. "Taylor was English, you know."
"Yes, I figured that from what I was able to get through last night."
"So you're saying they knew it would be headline news," I said, "and figured it was more important to circle the wagons than to find the murderer."
"I suspect so."
"Interesting, Sam," I said, trying to think through what he'd suggested. "I'd not thought of it in that way before."
"You said last night that there seemed to have been an active gay community in Hollywood in the 1920s."
"Yes, but a very closeted community."
"It's bad enough now," Sam said.
"Well, things are changing. Standards are changing."
"I think the AIDS thing has forced a lot of people to come out," Sam said, articulating what we'd all been thinking.
"Rock Hudson," William said, his voice low and his eyes turned down toward the tabletop.
An article had been published less than a month earlier saying that Hudson, the very embodiment of the Hollywood straight super stud, was gay and was dying of AIDS. It had been a shock, even in 1985. Those of us who'd been in on the open secret had known for years that he was gay. I'd first recognized the fact when I'd met him at one of Dex Cohen's big parties back in 1972, soon after I'd arrived in Hollywood.
"Can you imagine how the studios would have reacted to news of Taylor's murder in 1922?" Sam said, bringing us back to the issue at hand.
"There must have been dozens of gay or bisexual actors and directors in Hollywood in 1922, and all of them were shaking in their boots," William interjected.
"And there's no way to tell how many of them may have been to bed with Taylor," I added.
"For all of them," Sam said, pleased that William and I seemed to be supporting his theory, "the big issue was covering up Taylor's sexuality and his sexual contacts, not finding his murderer."
"You know," I said, thinking back
to the files I'd read two or three days earlier, "we can't be sure that
Taylor was gay. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn't. Maybe he was bi, but there's
no proof of that either, and after sixty years there's not likely to be
anyone still alive who could tell us."
"Well," Sam said, looking down at his now cold coffee, "I know enough about police practices to be pretty sure someone didn't want Taylor's murder to ever be solved. You can't be that sloppy by accident, not trained cops, even 1922 cops."
"So if you're right, Sam, the investigation
was intentionally messing up."
"Yes, that's what I suspect."
"And if it wasn't messed up to prevent possible sexual revelations, then there must have been some other reason," I said.
"I'd say so."
"Well, for the sake of my story, assuming I'm just using the Taylor case as a starting point for a novel, the real issue is how far people would have gone then to keep the closet door closed."
"Yes," William said, "and if recent events are any guide, things haven't changed all that much in sixty years."
"I think there's been some progress,"
Nat said. He'd been quietly standing by the door, listening to our conversation,
but it was the first comment he'd made."
"Perhaps some progress," William said. There was a note of bitterness in his voice. "I guess at times I fail to see it."
"There are differences, William," Sam said. "We may still need to be discreet, but you and Robert are living openly together, just as Nat and I are."
"Small steps for sixty years."
"But there are bigger changes coming," I added.
"Oh?" William said, the bitterness in his voice still audible. "Are those the words of the prophet?"
"No, not a prophet, Will, but I do think we'll see more change in the next sixty years than we've seen in the last sixty."
"That isn't going to do us much good," he almost snapped back.
"No, perhaps not us personally, but we have benefited from the progress made by others and younger kids, just coming to terms with their own sexuality, will benefit from the progress we make. It's slow, but there is movement, and greater and greater acceptance."
"I don't want gradual progress, Robert," he said, reaching out to take my hand. "I want to be open and out and accepted now, while we're still young enough to enjoy it."
"Well, in the meantime we have our
own world," Sam said, his voice suddenly low and thoughtful. "I'm just
so grateful I have Nat, and grateful for friends like the two of you."
To be continued.