Millstone – Novel 01 Ch. 14

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Millstone – ONE – (Hanging the Chimney Hook)

All Rights Reserved © 2020, Rick Heathen

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Chapter Fourteen

Gossip Column

Update: “Franklin’s Studly Detective”

[As promised, I bring more savory morsels of our sinewy stallion. I had it on good authority that within our fair city lived a man with such an extreme extremity, that if his burden were more ponderous, one naked jog could self-inflict a kneecapping. Such cock-and-bull stories have floated about for ages, yet, having had the privilege of a firsthand witness, not only has the appendage in question received an accurate appraisal, buk also, he gives a whitewash so thorough, he could singlehandedly ice an entire kake. Look for more in future editions as information becomes available.]

“I see what that shameless reporter did there.” After slapping the folded newspaper onto the dining table, I snatched the spoon from the place setting before me and finished eating the last few bites of breakfast.

Max and I had awakened by 5 o’clock, exercised, showered, and Albert jumped on our invitation to join us for breakfast that morning. He brought the paper over, and after giving the pertinent section a once-over, I admit that it bothered me, but I hadn’t felt angry about it.

Max had suggested we start having a naked breakfast after our shower, to allow our skin some air. Naturally, I went along with it because it made good sense, but for Max, he needed little excuse to remove his clothing. He sat across from me, and our legs intertwined a bit beneath the table, while my equally naked cousin Albert took the end seat.

I tapped the paper in irritation. “He goes too far in his claims. I mean, am I really a one-man supplier of an entire bukkake?”

Max paused mid-chew. “My stomach says yes.”

“You have two loads in there, and I note you still have plenty of room for our standard breakfast.”

“You know that I delight in gorging on you.” He took a sip of coffee.

Albert said, “I would love to have seen you bukkake the Naked Reporter.”

“I’m not even sure why he let him have it.” I turned to my Golden Bear. “You’re not usually one to share.”

“It’s true,” said Max who turned to Albert, “I failed ‘sharing’ in kindergarten. But, after what he did, he deserved the embarrassment of walking back to his car looking like he’d fellated a Clydesdale. We will never again combine interviews with blowjobs. I couldn’t imagine why you told him all that.”

“That’s never happened before, but I told you, I think better if I’ve cum a few times, and I only came that once at the furniture store.”

“He will probably use everything you told him in the paper,” said Albert.

Max laughed. “Oh no, he won’t.”

“How do you know?”

“He won’t tell you,” I said. “That’s the only answer I get out of him too.”

“I told you that you needed me,” said Max. “I took care of it, that’s all that matters. On another note, where has Edgerton been hiding?”

“He went missing yesterday evening,” said Albert, “and I suspect he’s with James.”

“James can’t go home,” I said, “especially after the article this morning.”

The piece in question, a not too disappointing boxed article at the back of the paper, stated that the police had released James without charge. How he wanted to put the whole unfortunate mess behind him, and that he missed Tommy, wishing he could join him at the upcoming housewarming on Saturday evening. Accompanying the article was a color photo of James, propping his head on the counter at the tailor’s, his pinky adorned with the ring in clear view. It looked good enough on the print version, but the ring in the online photo stood out crystal clear.

Albert checked his phone for the time. “Woah, it’s 7:30; I better get dressed and go.” He took the last sip of his coffee and stood from the table. “Thank you for breakfast. I’ll have to return the favor and show you what I typically have.”

“Sounds great,” I said as Albert headed to the door.

“Bye, Al.”

The private number on my phone rang. “It’s Edgerton.” I put it on speaker. “Good morning, detective.”

“Yes, it is a good morning, isn’t it?”

“You sound chipper,” said Max.

“I might be,” he said, and I could almost hear the smile on his face. “I have a favor to ask of you, and it’s important.”

“Sure, what is it?”

“With no leads on the Haines/Chadwell case, potentially until Saturday, I have other cases to work, so I have much to do the next couple of days. The trouble is, James can’t go home or to work, and he needs someplace to be, with people he trusts who can help protect him. The inspector wouldn’t allow me to assign any officers to him, and there’s no way he would agree to a safehouse.”

“Okay,” I said. “I understand what you’re asking, Avrupalı porno but we have a few things to do today, and we have only our two-seater.”

“I’m more than willing to swap keys with you for the next couple of days,” he said.

Max began to clear the table of dishes.

“That’s acceptable,” I said, “but keep in mind the roadster is Winter’s, so if anything happens to it, we’re responsible.”

“To work and home,” he said, “that’s a promise.”

“Okay, I believe you. Where should we meet?”

A knock came upon our front door. “We’re in the hallway.”

Max and I both laughed and shook our heads, while I answered the door.

“Good morning,” said Edgerton.

The detective wore a suit, as he often did. James wore the jeans he had on the previous day and a different long-tailed button-up shirt.

It seemed that we both tended to shop at the big I liked the ones of lighter color even though dark colors tended to hide it better.

“Wow,” said James, over our lack of clothing, “is it Bare as You Dare Day already?”

“Does Franklin have a Bare as You Dare Day?” asked Max. “What day is it?”

“That’s one of Franklin’s Fundays that occurs on the second Saturday of July,” said Edgerton, “so next week on the thirteenth.”

“Personally, I’ve never participated,” said James.

“Sounds like a Funday to me,” said Max.

“Let me get you that key, detective.”

Edgerton gripped James’s shoulders. “Okay, young man, you’re spending the day with the sitters.” (James indulged the detective in his little jest, laughing to himself.) “Be a good boy, don’t get yourself into trouble, and eat your vegetables at lunchtime.”

“Right, Pops.” And gave him a quick kiss on the mouth.

I swapped keys with Edgerton who pointed to Max and me. “You guys didn’t see that kiss. I’ll be home this afternoon. See ya later, fellas.”

The instant I closed the door, James said, “Well, the `rent’s gone, let’s have some fun!”

“We have an appointment on the twelfth floor of the Lancashire Building in an hour,” said Max, “so we haven’t even the time for a quick round of Pinochle?”

“Well, I would suggest strip poker,” he said, “but you’ve nothing to bet with. I hoped we could play, if you know what I mean, but I’m sensing that neither of you feel entirely comfortable with me. Is it because of the case?”

I turned to Max who had leaned against the island of the kitchen. That I hadn’t expressed an opinion on the matter when given the opportunity, told him that I hadn’t known what to say.

Max moved toward the table. “Let’s sit for a minute, James.”

I took the seat at the end, Max returned to his usual seat, and James took the one I had vacated across from Max.

“You seem to have taken to us rather quickly,” said Max, “and you trust us. Can you articulate why?”

“I trusted you almost immediately,” he said. “and, at first, I trusted Millstone because you were together. On the job the other day, you treated me as though you knew I were innocent. Even if you hadn’t known for a fact, you still gave me the benefit of the doubt when no one else had bothered. I’d had fingers pointing at me for several days.

“Over my life, people have made me feel like I’m someone to suspect, someone to be weary of, or just some porn-parody of a real human being. The guys in high school gym class suggested I be in a porn film with this clever title, James and the Giant Penis.” (He turned to me.) “Since yesterday, I know we have something big in common, so that helps, like we’re brothers under the belt or something. I’ve never met anyone like me before. When I’m around the two of you and Wade, I feel normal, and, until now, I have had no one in my life that makes me feel that way.”

“With others,” said Max, “it probably hadn’t helped that you presented yourself a sadist.”

He shrugged a little. “You know why I did,” he said. “Wade told me you realized it wasn’t true. I had gotten so tired of finding someone I really liked, but whenever the time for sex arrived, the clothes would come off, and they would leave immediately, suddenly want to shove me into the friend zone, or it would end in an unpleasant one-night-stand. I even tried putting off sex, so they could get to know me first, but that never made a difference. So, I invented the sadist persona and settled with regulars that wanted the sex, but I felt no attraction.” (James looked straight at me.) “And I bet you’ve had similar experiences, haven’t you?”

I nodded. “I’m not as thick as you, so I have gotten more blow jobs than I care to count, but nothing else worked out until Max.”

“You’re lucky,” he said. “I always feel like I’m getting blown by a shark, just a mouth full of teeth, scraping me until I’m raw. Not that I’m opposed to anyone letting me fuck their fists and catching my load in their mouth. I just wouldn’t want anyone thinking they can stuff my cock into their face, because it won’t go in. And I can’t tell you how many times people have suggested that going into porn was my solution. Video porno As if, when you have a huge cock, you have no other options in life, and you’re nothing more than the life support for an enormous penis.”

“Many people suggested I should do porn too,” I said. “So, would you like to have something with Wade?”

“We like each other, and we had an unusual night together (no sex, just lots of what he called intimacy). I enjoyed it a lot, and strangely, I feel energized today. But he has…I couldn’t say fear, really. It’s more like a deep concern about my size.”

“Realistically,” I said, “that’s understandable with guys like us. Give him time.”

“I’m willing to give him all the time he wants.”

“Let’s go back a bit,” I said, “you told us that you had fingers pointing at you for days. Besides the police, who else pointed their finger?”

“Oh…some of that’s less actual finger pointing than coworkers acting suspicious toward me, but a couple of the fellas at work were more vocal of their suspicions during coffee, and then the day I met you guys, Delilah called to tell me that I would replace Chadwell on the painting job, and she wasn’t nice either.”

“Well, no wonder you had your nose out of joint,” said Max.

“Yeah, sorry about that,” he said. “So, should I consider playing with you guys, permanently off the menu?”

I looked at Max. We had discussed the topic, and he knew I would leave the initial decision of whether we should ever play with anyone up to him. Although, if I had any objections, I would certainly tell him.

“Not permanently, just for the moment,” said Max. “Millstone’s busy refilling his tanks, and I’m full of a big breakfast that included two loads. So, if the right time should come, it isn’t right now. Let me get dressed.” He stood from the table. “Why don’t you entertain our guest while I do that?” He kissed me and left.

“I noticed that we have cultivated the same habit,” I said to James.

“Oh yeah? What’s that?”

“I suspect that over the years we have both been made to feel self conscious about our size and have taken to wearing long untucked shirts to make it less obtrusive.”

He glanced down at his lap. “Oh…that. I guess it just makes things easier. I started that when I turned 16, so for the last 12 years. People used to stare, and they whispered to one another. But the shirts aren’t a perfect cover, especially if I’m sitting. As an adult, people would even confront me about it, just to tell me how inappropriate I was. One time, a woman on the subway in Baltimore went ballistic when she saw me. She got up in my face, accused me of being a pervert and that I stuffed my pants to get attention. She went on and on. She caught me at a bad moment, so I stood up, pulled my junk out and yelled, ‘I can’t hide this, lady! So, get the fuck out of my face and learn to mind your own goddamn business!’ Fortunately, the subway car had few people in it, and I got off at the next stop, so I had no trouble with the law. But things like that make me wear the shirts.”

Not surprisingly, I had had similar experiences. But I questioned myself whether it mattered anymore. As of that morning’s gossip column, it seemed that people would know about me. It reminded me of Bo Pecker, our playmate. He said, “When I came here, I decided to embrace my body and my size. I don’t care who knows anymore.”

When Max came from behind the petition, he put his arm around me, kissed me, and I left to get ready.

After brushing my teeth, I dressed, and as I buttoned my gray and white striped shirt over my faded blue, gusseted jeans, I stood there looking down at the obvious snake-like bulge in the mirror. I knew I had nothing to feel ashamed of. I took a deep breath, said “Fuck it,” opened my pants and proceeded to tuck my shirttail, leaving me exposed to possible ridicule, stares, and the not too surreptitious whispers. I kept telling myself, “I will not live in fear.” But I had just begun to understand the power, densely packed into the phrase, “I-don’t-give-a-fuck.” Judiciously applied, those five little words could help someone take their power back that they needed to control their own life. Then a disturbing thought entered my mind, and I wondered just how deeply the outside world had controlled me. And I questioned how many more times I would have to consciously struggle to free myself of its manipulations both subtle and gross.

When I emerged from the bedroom, Max took one look at me, smiled, and kissed me. He never told me what I should do, but he always told me when he was proud of me and never discouraged my attempts to think for myself, make my own mistakes without shoving them into my face, or to discover things at my own pace. He was generous like that, and I loved him for it. James noticed too, especially since we had just had that conversation. He said nothing, but gave me an expectant gaze as if to ask, “Why?”

I told him, “We have no obligation to treat the opinion of haters with any kind of validity. The idea we should hide ourselves because they don’t want to see it, lets them control us. Screw those people. Why should we let their wishes stand as some default position? They think they are the default in need of pleasing by everyone else, they want us to hide so they can pretend no one different from themselves exists, and they want us to comply with their dictates on how we should live, as if our needs and desires should forever take a back seat to theirs. Well, fuck that, I refuse to live like that anymore.”

I could tell that he accepted what I said, but he needed to think on it.

Besides a look at the office space in the Lancashire Building, we had a few errands to run, and as I intended to tuck my shirts from that point, I really needed shirts that wouldn’t bunch up in my pants, so I thought we should get a few.

We found the Lancashire Building located in a relatively nice area of town. It had several restaurants and a park with lots of trees. As for the building itself, it surprised me that they hadn’t built it as one of those visually boring, glass structures that I expected to see and always despised; instead, it had a symmetrical contemporary appearance with lots of appeal. At 8:45 we met the agent on the twelfth floor, a woman named Carla Delgado. She looked about five feet four and had a pretty face.

“The owner renovated the building about eight years ago,” she said, “and we’ve taken good care of it.”

“Who owns the building?” I asked.

“It’s a subsidiary that Winter owns, it’s called Anorak Holdings.”

“How much of Franklin does Winter actually own?” asked Max.

“Given how wealthy she is, surprisingly little,” she said. “That I’m aware, she owns four office buildings in this area and a flawless estate on the other side of the bay in Queensbury.”

The space for lease had a reception area with a powder room for clients, and three offices. One office, the largest one, had an executive restroom fully lined in quartz tile. One office had no windows, but the other two had a great view of downtown. And, as for security, it had a wireless, monitored system.

I asked Ms. Delgado if she would leave us for a few minutes while we discussed it. She went to the ground floor to get a cup of coffee from the Dungeon Cafe there.

“I think this is perfect,” I said.

“Even the price?” asked Max. “You don’t think it’s too big? What would we use the other two offices for?”

“This place is cheaper than I had in New York. The big one with the bathroom we would use for the main office, all the business is kept in there, the bills, taxes, records, and the computer. The smaller office with the view, we could use as a conference room. We wouldn’t have to buy a huge table, just someplace comfortable to talk with clients, and the room with no window we could use for storage. Detective work requires all sorts of things for various types of cases. It could all go in there.”

James stood at the window, his hands clasped behind his back, admiring the view. Neither Max nor I spoke a word to him since we arrived, and I’m not sure what possessed me to ask, but… “What do you think, James?”

He turned to face me, and he looked around for a moment. “It’s nice, but you don’t need this.”

“Why?” I asked.

“This is old-school,” he said. “For small businesses, having an office space is outdated; this isn’t the twentieth century. Technology has allowed people to move away from this sort of thing. People would rather optimize their business from home. What I think you should do, rather than having a permanent space like this, where clients come to you, instead, you go to your clients, meet them somewhere, or have internet meetings. You could have all your money transactions over the internet by taking credit cards, or the many online pay services. Rather than having a filing cabinet, you could store all your cases inside encoded files on a secure server in the cloud. You could carry your business with you on laptops, tablets, and cellphones. You could keep the things you need for your job at home, and you have plenty of space for that. But, if you insist on having an office space, this place looks great, but for a modern small business, you would be leasing a dinosaur.”

I was speechless. In my head, my thoughts had taken an entirely different direction than anything James had just suggested. But he was right, and I felt embarrassed because I hadn’t thought of it myself. I wouldn’t, however, let that get in the way of an amazing idea.

Max had a smile on his face. “How do you know all this?” he asked him.

“I looked it up,” he said. “I figured I would need to know if I wanted my own business. Alliance is literally an alliance of individual businesses and subcontractors. If I became a licensed plumber, and not just working under the license of someone else, I could have my own business. I could work for myself and, if I show Alliance my worth, they might take me on; they only ally with the best specialists, and that’s why people go to them. I would make more money doing that than just subcontracting my labor with Alliance as a peon, but you must have a license for a specialized job and your own business. So, recently, I got on with a plumber friend who was showing me the ropes a few days a week with some on-the-job training.”

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