Chapter 1: Chapter 1
‘I was told to report to Officer Peterson. I’m Canton Delaware; I’ve been posted from New York to join the President’s security team.’ He held out his hand as the man stood up. The handshake was firm and the palm dry as Canton tried not to stare at the man too much. He knew he couldn’t afford to give anything away about the future. He supposed that time could be changed if you did something wrong. The photograph, given to him by Captain Jack Harkness seven years ago, suggested that he was going to marry this man, this handsome black man, now stood in front of him.
‘Hell,’ Canton thought. ‘I never like to do things the easy way do I?’ Marriage between black and white people had only just been made legal in some states, so marriage between two men seemed like an impossible dream at that moment, and yet he had photographic proof of that very thing. He suddenly realised that Peterson was talking to him.
‘Right, we’ll get you sorted. Over there is your desk; you’ll be sharing an office with me. Our role is different to standard FBI in that we operate solely within the White House. Of course, we primarily act as security for the President, both in the building and outside. With the current political situation there’s a lot going on. The war in Vietnam is not popular, and I’m not revealing any state secrets if I say it isn’t going as well as planned. We also have the current “Civil Rights” campaign and the activities of Martin Luther King to deal with.’
‘I would have thought you’d have been in favour of the Reverend King’s campaigning.’ Canton interrupted. He was greeted with a look of steely determination.
‘I don’t play sides and I certainly don’t get involved in political discussions with someone I’ve only just met. My job is to protect the President, no matter what his politics. At the moment that’s President Johnson, but we all know that could change next year if the war continues as it is, or if things get worse, and with King’s encouragement to avoid the draft, wherever the President goes he needs a high level of security around him. I’m assuming you have no problems with all that or you wouldn’t have accepted this position.’
Canton put up his hands. ‘I have no problems I can assure you. I’m just here to do a job and I think you know that I come highly recommended.’
‘I’m not privy to your records Delaware, although people talk and I do know agents in your old stamping ground. I, however, like to judge for myself and not listen to gossip. I will say that this is a small place, so take care who you talk to and what you share with people, if you get my drift.’ He raised his eyebrows as he spoke and shuffled some papers. Looking at his watch he added, ‘time for morning briefing so you can meet the rest of the team, and the boss.’
Canton allowed Peterson to step in front of him. From the back he could see the man’s strength and how his shoulders filled his suit. He tried not to look down, but of course he did. However, he was disappointed as the jacket of his standard black suit covered Peterson’s ass. Canton realised then that he didn’t even know the other man’s first name.
After trailing down a couple of corridors, with Peterson pointing out various rooms, especially that of the chief of staff, William Marvin Watson, they arrived at an open office area. There were at least 20 men and women stood around the room. Canton knew that the rest of the staff would be stationed at various points within the building and in the grounds. The President was still in his private quarters, as yet. The purpose of the briefing was to explain the itinerary for the day and what each agent would be doing. Canton stood to one side, not wanting to make his presence too obvious to begin with. He often wanted to laugh when there was a group of agents stood together, all dressed in black suits, white shirts and black ties. At least, not all of them were wearing the standard black glasses whilst inside.
A tall, dark haired man began to talk and explain that on this day the President would be spending the morning in the Oval office, meeting with the various leaders of the military in order to get a complete update on the discovery of the tunnels systems in Vietnam, and how they were going to deal with this threat. In the afternoon the President was due to fly to California to give a speech. The agent named the officers who would be joining that party. Canton was relieved that his name wasn’t called and neither was Peterson’s. It would give them some time to talk and get to know each other. Canton knew he had to take things slowly; that he found Peterson attractive was a definite, but there was no way that he was going to risk anything by suggesting a spot of mutual masturbation as they stood next to each other in the urinals; well, at least not yet. For now all he needed to focus on was doing his job. He heard his name. He really needed to stop thinking and pay attention.
‘Delaware, good to meet you; you come highly recommended. I’m sure Peterson here will look after you and show you the ropes. I’ve teamed you together to begin with, as he’s been here for some time. Any problems, my door is always open. You’re on the protection detail outside the Oval Office today aren’t you, Jet. You’d better get off as I believe he’s on the move.’
Canton followed Peterson back along the various corridors and then outside. They finally arrived at a position outside a set of French doors. Canton could see the Oval Office through the window. Seeing it for real was strange as it looked just like it did in the films. His walkie-talkie crackled and a voice spoke. ‘Bumble is in the Oval Office.’ Before he had chance to comment he saw the door open and Lyndon Johnson walked in.
‘Bumble?’ he whispered to Peterson.
‘This week’s name,’ the other man explained. ‘It changes every week or more often in times of heightened security.’
‘So what do we do now,’ Canton asked.
‘Simple, we stand here and look out, making sure that there are no threats and take action if there are, until the President is ready to leave and then we’re part of the detail that ensures that the President reaches his transport safely. We’re also expected to be silent out here so time to shut up.’
Canton stood with his back to the doors, looking out over the terraces towards the White House lawns. Every so often he took a sneaky look at the other man. Once their eyes met and he could have sworn that the other man blushed. Canton smiled to himself and planned how he could get Jet Peterson to go out for a drink after work. He wondered what Jet was short for and felt a tingle at the back of his neck. With his job, he’d always had to be careful with his encounters, but this was going to be a relationship and he was excited that a whole new phase of his life, with all those possibilities was just waiting for him to jump in and explore.
A week later and Canton was beginning to wonder if he’d made a big mistake in joining the White House staff, for a variety of reasons; the biggest reason being the routine. He had to face facts that he was bored. Most of the time was spent standing around looking after the President while he sat in meetings, went to and from the venues for other meetings and events, or travelled to get onto Airforce One. No doubt, at some time, he would get to travel with him, but for now he was detailed to the White House. Canton spent an awful lot of time stood outside of doors. He found he missed the investigation side of the job because there wasn’t anything to investigate. In this job there were no drug barons, no mafia bosses and no scams that went across state; it was simply all about protection until the Tuesday of the second week.
He was sitting in his office with Peterson talking about the latest game. Truth was Canton hated football, not that he was a gay man who hated sports, he just didn’t like team sports, football in particular, although he used to play simply to get a view of all those jocks in the changing rooms, and, of course, to keep up the persona of being one of the boys at high school. Hell, he’d even dated one of the cheerleaders at college.
The phone disturbed their conversation and Peterson picked it up. All Canton could here was a series of ‘yeses’ and ‘reallys’ and ‘we’ll get right on it’, before Peterson replaced the handset.
‘What’s up?’ he asked.
‘It seems that there have been some thefts of documents, particularly sensitive documents within the West Wing. Brown thinks that there may be a militant civil rights campaigner who’s got a job here specifically to find out if the FBI is investigating Reverend King. They know that the President will receive briefings on all activities that threaten social unrest. It seems that the latest report has disappeared.’
‘Surely those sort of things would be placed somewhere secure that only certain people have access to,’ Canton stated rather than questioned.
‘You’d think so but apparently it was in the in tray of one of the assistants ready to be filed; she was called away briefly and forgot to put it somewhere secure. The suspicion is that one of the interns is responsible. Brown wants us to interview all of them. None of them has left the building as yet, and they don’t know that we know, so that makes it easier. We have to search them and interview them. Apparently, only five of them were in the vicinity at the time. We need to gather them together.’
‘What was in the document?’ Canton asked.
‘The latest briefing on the activities of the civil rights movement, especially King’s latest speech encouraging black men to resist the draft and how that could cause civil unrest in the South. There was also a briefing about the activities of the Nation of Islam,’ Peterson explained. ‘The boss thought you’d be the best man for the job as you’ve only recently left New York and I believe interrogation of suspects was a speciality of yours.’ Canton wondered was that really a twinkle of interest her saw in Peterson’s eyes.
‘I had my methods,’ Canton replied without explaining further. ‘Surely, nothing in there is much of a secret.’ He saw Peterson raise an eyebrow. ‘Ah, I see, it’s not so much the information more how it was obtained. I suppose we have insiders in each organisation not to mention phone tapping and wires placed where they shouldn’t be. That would be a bit of a problem if the papers were given proof. Okay, we’d better round up our interns and have a word.’
The rest of the morning was spent interviewing each one. The document itself was found stuffed behind a filing cabinet in one of the offices where interns spent their time filing away on behalf of whoever they were working for. Most likely the person had simply tried to hide the evidence quickly. It didn’t take long before it became obvious from the questioning, who was the most likely candidate. Canton really didn’t have to try very hard as she was proud of her beliefs. As they led the young girl away Canton felt sympathy for her views. She was right about a higher proportion of young black men being drafted than white men, and why should they fight for a country that treated them as second class citizens? He wondered what Peterson’s views were on the subject. He still hadn’t asked if he fancied going out for a beer or a game of pool one night. Perhaps he should, but he was afraid of being knocked back. Somehow, the weight of the future was holding Canton back; he had no idea what his role was, and there was the possibility that he would do something wrong. Did time work in a straight line? He realised that he needed to talk to Jack Harkness again but was that even possible?
Back in his office he typed up his report. The document was now back under lock and key and the investigation had proved a useful distraction from the usual duties. Adding some notes to the original, so he wouldn’t forget, his pencil snapped. He couldn’t find a sharpener so crossed over to Peterson’s desk and opened a drawer. Inside was a photo in a frame. Canton picked it up and as he stared at it his heart sank. There, in the photo, was an image of a happy family picnic. Peterson was sat on a rug holding up a child to help it stand: the child, a boy, looked to be around 12 months old. Next to Peterson sat a young woman, who was undoubtedly beautiful. She smiled at the camera. Peterson was obviously married and had a child. Canton had assumed that he would be single and gay; how otherwise would they end up together in the future. ‘Was he prepared to break up a seemingly happy family to make that future come true?’ He heard a noise outside and shut the drawer quickly. Peterson came in.
‘Well, that’s sorted out that little problem,’ Peterson said as he sat down.
‘I suppose she only had good intentions,’ Canton conceded. ‘But the law is the law. Look, we’re on surveillance this afternoon and after spending hours wandering around the grounds I’m going to fancy a drink. How d’you feel about a beer and a game of pool. There’s a bar not far from here, I discovered, O’Malleys, do you know it?’
‘Yeah, I know it. The local PD hang out there a lot. I’ll see if Joe and Bud fancy it,’ he added.
It wasn’t quite what Canton had hoped for but at least it was a start.
The bar was full as they pushed through the door. Jet went and got four beers while the other three found a pool table. Canton joined Jet and picked up two of the beers. They decided to play two on two, with Jet joining Canton as a team. Bud was your typical all American jock, blonde, blue eyed and six foot tall. His partner Joe was more serious: his job involved a lot of the technology side of FBI work, especially surveillance of anyone perceived to be a threat to the President. Joe was about medium height and medium weight, in fact he was medium in many ways which made him perfect for surveillance as he would never stand out in a crowd. He was a pretty good pool player though, and he and Bud won the first game easily. Another round of beers accompanied another game. This time Canton got a few lucky breaks and they won, leading to a best of three.
‘Damn,’ Jet said as he missed the last pot, allowing Bud to finish off and win the game. ‘That should have been our win. I guess the next round’s on me again then.’ He went to go to the bar.
‘Time for me to go,’ Bud said, ‘or Lola will have my balls for earrings. She complains that I spend too much time in the White House anyway. You wanna lift, Joe?’ Joe nodded and the two men said their goodbyes leaving Canton and Jet stood at the table.
‘Another game?’ Jet asked.
‘No, I think I’ve exhausted my pool skills for tonight. Don’t you have to go home as well?’ Canton was fishing, trying to find out who the woman and child in the picture were. If Jet was married with a child, there was no way that he was going to push anything to make that photograph come true.
Jet looked at his watch. ‘No, I’m in no hurry, so shall we just get another beer and grab that booth over there then?’
‘Sounds good to me,’ Canton agreed. The booth was in a dark back corner of the bar. It was a half circle so they both pushed their way to the back but left an obvious gap between them.
‘So what brought you to Washington then?’ Jet asked. ‘That accent is obviously East Coast. I would have thought that New York was much more exciting than being here, although we have our moments.’
Canton couldn’t tell him the truth; he couldn’t tell him about Frank, how he’d had his heart broken by the man because he’d decided that the photograph was nonsense after all. He’d met Frank in a bar, a rather select bar, where patrons with similar attitudes hung out. Just being in that place could have cost both men their careers. They’d talked and then thrown caution to the wind and ended up screwing each other senseless. Frank was a lawyer, and basically a good man, but he was engaged to the boss’ daughter, Cindy; Frank had married her and made it clear that he wouldn’t see Canton ever again after the wedding. Cindy was nice, and Canton felt sorry for her, knowing that Frank was lying to her as well as himself. He’d asked for a transfer and the opportunity at the White House had come up, so he’d grabbed it with both hands.
‘Oh, I just wanted a change,’ Canton said, ‘and working at the White House seemed exciting at the time. Having been here a little while I’m not sure it really is.’
‘It rather depends what’s going on. Every change of administration brings new things,’ Jet replied. ‘So nothing to keep you in New York then?’ he continued.
‘No, nothing,’ Canton said pointedly, hoping that Jet would get what he was saying. ‘And nothing to make you go home early then?’ He held his breath waiting for Jet to reply.
‘No, just me and the cat. This job can take over your life if you let it. Some of the President’s staff are there eighteen hours a day. Getting some down time like this can be a bit unusual and we’re still expected to say where we are to someone, just in case something happens. It’ll be busier next week as we’ve got a state visit from France; they’re always a bit demanding the French. Mind you, the women are usually pretty spectacular as long as you don’t mind them being a bit thin and haughty.’
‘So we’re both sad singles then,’ Canton said. ‘You got any family nearby?’ There must be some explanation for the photograph if Jet was single as he said.
‘Not around here, but I’ve got a sister back in Georgia, and a nephew. My brother is in Vietnam; he volunteered. I told him he was mad but he thought it would be exciting two years back. Now, he knows different.’
‘Yeah, it’s a bloody mess out there. We’re going to have to throw more men and weapons at it if we’re going to beat the VietCong.’ Canton was trying to keep his voice level. The woman and child in the picture must be his sister and nephew. Now he needed to find out if there was any chance that Jet might be interested in him. He thought for a moment while Jet continued talking.
‘Rudy reckons we’ll never win as the Cong have support in every village. He’s seen some terrible things in his time.’ He looked around. ‘I don’t think we’d better discuss this here.’
‘No, possibly not. I think the demonstrations are going to get bigger though. I would have thought that there was some concern that the President might be a target for the more militant protesters.’
‘What about you then, Canton? Any family to speak of? And where did that name come from? I’ve never heard it before,’ Jet said. Canton noticed that the space between them had lessened.
‘No siblings, I’m an only child. My Mom had a difficult time with me so I’m all she got.’ He felt sad for his parents because he knew that there was never going to be a Canton Everett Delaware IV. ‘As for the name, it’s after my Pop and Tad. My great grandfather emigrated from Wales in Britain. He came from this place called Canton, which is just outside Cardiff. Calling his kid Canton was his way of remembering his past. Everett was his wife’s maiden name and he took the surname Delaware because that’s where they moved to. His real surname was Jones and that’s really common in Wales apparently. He was cordwainer and started making shoes until he built up a reasonable business. The rest as they say is history. What about you? I assume Jet isn’t your baptismal name.’
‘Jet is short for Jethro,’ he explained. ‘I was a runner in my teens and I was good. My team mates nick named me Jet because I was so quick. I ran for the state trials and was heading for the Olympic Games at Melbourne when I blew my Achilles. I was advised not to run again. For a while I didn’t have a clue what to do with my life.’ Jet looked at the man in front of him. He was curious about Canton. He wasn’t exactly good looking but there was something about him and when he smiled Jet felt his heart skip a beat. He knew that he liked men; he’d always known but it was hard enough being a black man in the FBI, let alone a queer. There was just something about Canton Everett Delaware III that made him think that perhaps he was the same.
Chapter notes: I am trying to keep to an accurate historical timeline in this but I will make mistakes. I know nothing about American football, basketball or baseball so please forgive my ignorance.
Canton turned over the calendar on his desk and wondered where the last six weeks had gone; the date said 6th December. There had been more protests against the Vietnam War the day before, with celebrity arrests. Jet was sitting at his desk, reading the paper. They had a little while until they were accompanying the President on a visit to the Washington National Cathedral where they were holding a memorial service for the men who had been killed in Vietnam. There was little doubt that there would be protests, so security had been doubledm and snipers had been placed on all the rooftops.
‘We’d better get going,’ Jet said, putting down the paper fifteen minutes later. They were both dressed in the standard uniform, the traditional men in black. The others joined them as the walked down the corridor to the Oval Office. They waited silently outside until the President and First Lady emerged and then followed them down the corridor to the exit.
A large black car waited outside, just one of six in the cavalcade. Canton was stationed in the front of the President’s car, next to the driver who was holding open the door. Jet took his position within the car in the back row of seats, along with Bud. Once all the other cars were occupied, they began to move slowly through the grounds.
‘It’s Delaware isn’t it? Is that where you’re from?’ the First Lady asked.
‘Yes Ma’am, and no, Ma’am; I’m from Manchester in New Hampshire originally but my parents now live in Boston.’
‘You’re quite new aren’t you? How are you finding it in Washington? It takes some getting used to. Feels like you’re living in a goldfish bowl most of the time but we’ve all got to do what the country expects of us.’
‘I’m doing just fine, Ma’am. This is the centre of government so there’s always something going on. We’ll be there soon, Mr President. I believe there are some protesters but they’ve been cordoned well away from the entrance.’
Ten minutes later they pulled up alongside the main entrance. Canton hadn’t been to the cathedral before but he had to admit that it was very impressive.
‘Wait here, Sir, Ma’am. We just need to make sure that the security detail is ready for you to go in.’
He opened the door and shut it behind him. Jet and Bud also exited the vehicle but remained standing, eyes constantly scanning the area and hands on guns just in case someone tried to burst out of the crowd. Having received the all clear that everyone was present in the cathedral, Canton signalled to the driver who opened the door on the building side of the car. The President emerged smiling and waving, despite the numerous placards demanding that the US withdraw from Vietnam and others demanding civil rights; everyone had a cause it seemed.
They gathered around the President and First Lady as they walked into the building. Canton knew that there were snipers on every roof all around them. He couldn’t help but gasp as they entered the main aisle and began to walk to the front. They were to be stationed at the side of the pew where the president would sit at the front. Once in place, Canton and Jet moved to stand at the side of the main aisle. Now they could relax a little as they knew everyone there had been issued with official passes or they wouldn’t get in. Jet looked around the veterans who were there; many of them had serious injuries. As he looked down the side of the aisle he saw one man sat in a wheelchair who’d obviously lost both of his legs in the war. Next to him Canton felt his friend shiver. Without thinking he reached out his hand and touched Jet’s arm, leaving it there while he whispered, ‘are you alright?’
‘Yeah, I’m fine; this is all a little bit too close to home for me. Every day I wonder if my Mom is going to get one of those letters to say that Seth is dead, or injured. He could easily be any of these men here.’
They watched as the President got up to read the lesson. He spoke clearly and with conviction, whatever his doubts in private, about America’s involvement in Vietnam. In public he spoke only of the bravery of the men out there fighting and of the sacrifice they were making to stop the advance of the Godless across the world.
Canton heard Jet saym ‘amen’ next to him. It didn’t come as a shock to learn that Jet believed. Canton himself had long since lost any belief he had. He couldn’t support a religion that condemned him for who he loved and how he loved. He wondered once again if there would ever really be a time when the country would recognise that men like him had a right to live and love as everyone else did. He thought of the photograph which suggested that they would, but he wasn’t sure he truly believed it, no matter what Harkness had told him. He felt the lightest of touches on his hand and a small caress of fingers. He knew that it had to be Jet. He wished he could simply reach out and take hold of that hand in a way that others took for granted.
Canton knew that there was something growing between them. He’d seen Jet taking brief looks at him at times, in the office, or when they were stood on duty. He’d noticed that Jet sometime brushed against him if they were stood in a tight corner. Then there was that time in the john when Jet deliberately chose the urinal next to his, nonchalantly carrying on a conversation as both men avoided looking down until they were tucking themselves away. Canton couldn’t help but be impressed with what he saw.
Tomorrow they both had a day off and were going to a basketball game. Jet said he had tickets and wondered if Canton wanted to go. So he was off to see the Wizards. Canton had no interest whatsoever in the game but it gave him a reason to be alone with the other man, sort of, and perhaps he could get Jet to play a few games of squash in future, if he showed willing. Both of them getting hot and sweaty and having to shower afterwards had its appeal, in more ways than one.
All at once they had the signal to move again and everything was done in reverse with the President leaving first. They followed him down the aisle and back to the car. Forty five minutes later they were stood outside the Oval Office again, freezing their asses off in the December cold.
‘Are we still on for tomorrow?’ Jet asked.
‘Yep, I’m game if you are. I should warn you that I know nothing about basketball except what I played at high school. Are the Wizards any good?’
‘So so. I’ll give you that game of squash on our next day off if you want.’ Jet added. ‘I’ll warn you though I’m fast. You’d better be prepared to build up a sweat and to get annihilated. Mind you, Canton,’ he continued as he winked at the other man, ‘you could do with losing a few pounds. Perhaps you and I need to use the gym more often and get those guns of yours pumping iron.’ Jet laughed; his laugh was deep and throaty and Canton felt his body react to the sound, or was it the thought of watching Jet lifting weights in a sweaty vest, that was having that effect?’ He didn’t have to think for very long to work out the answer.
Canton had spent the day doing all those chores he rarely had time for, or indeed wanted to bother with. He’d cleaned the apartment and restocked the cupboards and fridge with food. He wondered if he could, or should, invite Jet back for something to eat that he would cook, rather than just grab from a fast food joint. He really wanted to take him out, to wine and dine him, like he would a woman in the same circumstances. They could go dancing and get to know each other, go for walks along the beach and hold hands whilst kicking through the surf. He stopped himself. ‘You’re being ridiculous, Canton,’ he told himself. But it was something else to think about. If there was a time when men could marry, perhaps one day they’d be able to do the other things as well, share a romantic dinner and hold hands in public. Suddenly, it seemed like the future was another world and so different from the one he lived in. He knew things were changing, but only ever so slowly. Only one state had adopted the new Penal Code that accepted consensual acts between men, and it didn’t look as if any of the other states were rushing towards changing their laws any time soon. Still, even if they did, he figured that the FBI still wouldn’t see sodomy as an acceptable practice. Perhaps, he could become a PI instead and work for himself, or work with Jet. He smiled; now he was getting ahead of himself.
He spent the rest of his time working out what to wear. It was December and rather cold, so he picked out black trousers, a white shirt and a black sweater. He could wear his heavy coat when they were outside. It was threatening to snow when he looked out of the window. He cursed; snow always complicated things. By five he was ready. Jet had said 5.15 so he waited and watched I Love Lucy on the TV.
Jet pulled up outside the apartment block and waited. He wondered what the hell had possessed him to invite Canton to the game. He knew that the other man wasn’t really into basketball; he also knew that he was taking a risk being alone with him. ‘Do I want something to happen?’ he thought. He’d registered the small coming togethers, as hands brushed hands and arms touched. He also knew that there had been times when they’d both leaned in to close for comfort and he’d felt Canton’s breath on his face and his aftershave had filled his senses. ‘Had Canton really just left New York because he wanted a change, or was there something else to it?’ He couldn’t work out why he was attracted to the man, but he knew he was. Canton wasn’t anything to get excited about but there was just something about him. Jet liked to watch him walk; his walk was casual, yet confident. It was like watching Marilyn Munroe in ‘Some Like it Hot’; you just couldn’t see how he did it. There was a confidence and brashness about him, especially when he put one hand in his pocket and talked with the other. Then there was his face, and that look so hard to describe. It was what Jet thought of as his sarcastic face, his ‘kinda figured that’ face, like he was just acknowledging that he’d already worked out what was going to be said. Canton would never be a, ‘how high do you want me to jump’ sort of a guy; he would always be a, ‘are you sure you want me to jump’ regardless of the consequences.
Jet looked at his watch. Time had run away with him. He was about to get out of the car when he saw Canton coming out of the building and running across the road. He opened the car door.
‘I saw you from the window,’ Canton said getting in and pulling his coat around him. ‘So I came down.’
‘Great, I was just wondering about whether we should go for a drink afterwards,’ Jet replied.
‘What about I cook us something,’ Canton asked tentatively. ‘For a change I have food in the apartment. I can do two steak and fries as easily as one.’
Jet hesitated for a moment before replying. ‘Yeah, that would be good. So you can cook then?’ he asked as he set the car moving.
‘Well, I can throw things under a grill,’ Canton said. ‘I’m not sure I’d call it cooking exactly.’
At the stadium they found their seats and got a couple of cokes. During the game Canton found himself yawning despite the fact that the action was fast and furious, with both sides being very busy. However, the Wizards weren’t exactly the Harlem Globetrotters. There was little chance of conversation as Jet jumped up and down until the Wizards finally triumphed. Jet must have noticed his antipathy, as when he pulled up outside Canton’s building he turned to him and said, ‘not your thing then, I gather. Next day off we have together I’ll take you up on that offer of a squash game.’
‘Fine by me and no basketball isn’t really my thing. Come on, let’s get those steaks on the go; I’m rather hungry now.’
Back in the kitchen of his apartment Canton began cooking. ‘How d’you want your steak,’ he cried out. Jet came in and sat at the table.
‘Medium rare, please. I like to know it’s completely dead, so don’t like it dripping.’
‘I’m the same,’ Canton replied. ‘I’ve got fries and some tomatoes, onions and mushrooms and I can rustle up a quick pepper sauce if you want.’
‘Hmm, quite the little wife,’ Jet said before he could stop himself.
‘Well, someone has to cook around here. I don’t see anyone else, unless you want to volunteer next time.’
‘Nah, I’m useless; I burn toast. I just eat in the canteen at work or get take out. I’m impressed by all this.’
After 15 minutes everything was ready and they sat down at the table. Jet took a few bites before announcing, ‘hey this is good. I love this sauce. You can do this again. I might even get to eat more vegetables this way. So what are you doing for Christmas, Canton? I see you’re off on Christmas Day, unlike me.’
‘I’ve swopped with Andy Smith; he wanted to be at home with his parents and I don’t care. I can’t get back home in only one day. As the President isn’t in the White House, it should be easy. What usually happens?’ Canton asked.
‘We spend the day much as any other day except we get a decent lunch which can be fun as everyone gets together and someone dresses up as Santa. Perhaps you could this year! You know this is really good.’
‘Another beer?’ Canton asked, rising to go to the fridge.
‘Yeah, I think I can stand one more and still be alright to drive.’
As Canton passed his the beer their hands touched. Canton stood his ground, not moving, leaving his fingers where they were as Jet looked up at him. He allowed his fingers to move slightly across the other man’s hand, transfixed by the feel of skin under his fingertips. It had been a while. In New York he knew where to go if he had an itch to scratch, and he’d had Frank, but in Washington sex had been very much a solo activity. He missed the touch of another body and here he was waiting to see what would happen. Then, it was if his body took over, and his brain stopped thinking. Jet looked down at their hands and then up and their eyes met. Canton couldn’t stop himself as he leaned down and lightly kissed those lips that were smiling at him. The lips were soft and yielding. Canton didn’t know what to do with his hands so they stayed where they were. He was just about to reach around the other man when Jet stopped and pulled away. He rose abruptly from his seat, pushing back the chair so that it clattered to the floor.
‘I can’t, Canton. We can’t. You know we can’t. I’m sorry this is just wrong. I’ve tried to fight this instinct; I believe in the word of God, Canton and the Bible says that this is wrong. I’ve got to go.’
‘But,’ Canton tried to speak, but Jet was already almost out of the door.
‘I’m sorry. I know I’m to blame. I’ll see you tomorrow. Don’t mention this to anyone will you? Forget it ever happened!’
The door slammed behind Jet as Canton sank down onto the armchair and pondered about where the hell this left them both.
Chapter notes: Canton tries to scratch an itch. The idea for Glitzy’s comes from an episode of Cold Case - ‘A Time to Hate’ which was recommended to me. It is about a murder of a gay young man set in the late 1960s. That and another one called ‘Forever Blue’ helped give me an insight into the issues around being gay at that time. The episodes made me very sad.
Sometimes Canton hated the world he’d sworn an oath to protect and the people he was expected to obey without question. For a while, after Jet’s abrupt departure, he slammed around the apartment picking things up and putting them down, not really knowing what to do with himself. He just couldn’t settle. He decided to go out to get a beer and perhaps find some company. O’Malley’s was within walking distance so he pulled on his thick winter coat and scarf and trudged the few blocks until he saw the green flashing shamrock sign outside the bar. He strode in without looking around and put his money onto the bar.
‘Whisky, straight up and no ice,’ he told the barman. One shot was quickly followed by another.
‘Tough day?’ the barman asked, just to make conversation.
‘You could say that,’ Canton replied through gritted teeth. The barman pushed over a bowl of nuts.
‘You might want to eat something if you’re going to drink a bit. These’ll help soak up the alcohol.’ Canton grabbed a handful and then took another swig of his drink. Finally, the warmth was beginning to spread through his body but still he shivered like someone was walking over his grave.
‘Quiet in here tonight,’ he observed, finally looking around.
‘Yeah, it’s quiet tonight but if you’d been in here this time yesterday you’d have found a difference. It’s Rick by the way.’ The barman held out his hand and Canton shook it. ‘I’ve seen you in here before,’ Rick continued.
‘I came in a few days back; so what was the fuss about last night then that caused all the excitement?’
‘Oh the usual really. The local PD bust up Glitzy’s; it’s a bar off the corner of 4th and Philadelphia that, shall we say, caters for a certain type of clientele. I don’t care personally, and it’s better if they keep to themselves, but the cops love to raid the place, especially when the owner hasn’t paid his dues. They were all in here last night boasting about how they’d beaten up the fags and queers and paraded the drag queens through the streets. It’s easier to pay up, then at least they give you a warning before breaking the place up.’
Canton swallowed his whisky. He was a man on a mission now. He had an itch to scratch and perhaps at this Glitzy’s there would be someone who might help him.
‘We had a few of those places in New York. Most of them kept themselves to themselves. Some of the boys liked to shake them down at times, but like you said, if you pay up they let you know beforehand.’
‘Well, I reckon the owner will be paying up now. From what they were saying they did some damage. Mind you, these places seem to bounce back, and I bet it’s up and running again tonight. They know they’ll be left alone for a little while now.’
Canton swallowed the last mouthful and put the glass down on the bar. Taking his leave of the barman he stepped outside into the cold night air. His breath stood out against the dark now. He stood for a moment wondering which way to go. He knew that it was nearer to go home but there was that itch. He turned the other way and began to trudge again. A cab came towards him and he got the driver to drop him off two blocks from the bar. He didn’t want to be too obvious. He found Glitzy’s was anything but, judging from the outside. It looked like somewhere that didn’t want to be noticed. Canton stood and watched for a while. Men and women went in and some came back out. All looked around furtively to check they weren’t being watched. No doubt the night before had made people nervous. Canton walked towards the door and pushed through. He knew he’d be viewed with suspicion being a newcomer. Indeed, as he entered the bar the room almost came to a standstill. Same sex couples who’d been dancing parted and tried to swop partners. A large drag queen, cigarette in hand, sat draped over a stool at the bar. She looked him up and down.
‘Evening, ma’am; can I get you a drink,’ Canton asked politely as he perched on a stool a few spaces down the bar.
‘You’re very kind, Sir. Johnny knows my usual.’ The voice had a southern drawl to it. Canton wasn’t sure if it was real or part of the persona.
‘Not from around these parts then,’ he asked. ‘Will you be singing for us later?’
‘I sometimes like to tickle the ivories. And what brings you to this previously lovely establishment. I’m sorry it’s not as lively as usual; we had a little visit last night from our local police department. I’m Dolores, by the way.’ She offered her hand and Canton kissed it.
‘How nice to meet a gentleman on a cold night like this,’ Dolores said seductively. Canton thought quickly; a name like his would be easily remembered.
‘Eddie,’ he replied. ‘I’m new in town. Someone told me about what happened here last night. I thought it sounded like my sort of a place.’
‘Well, we do like to cater for all sorts of tastes,’ Dolores said. ‘And thank you for the drink. I think my vocal chords are now sufficiently lubricated, and it’s so important to use the proper lubrication don’t you think?’ She winked at him and removed herself from the school, smoothing herself down and swishing the fishtail as she headed for the piano. Canton watched and listened as she sang, ‘The Man who got Away’. He almost didn’t notice the body slip onto the stool behind him. The audience clapped enthusiastically as Dolores finished and began her next number. A voice spoke, and without turning Canton knew that he was young and desperately trying to sound confident.
‘I haven’t seen you in here before.’
Canton turned. The face was young but old enough to have reached the age of 21 required for him to be present in the bar. The guy looked like he’d just stepped out of a student frat party.
‘It’s a cold night out there and I came in to get a drink and a warm,’ Canton replied.
‘Lots of ways of getting warm,’ the young man suggested. ‘Buy me a drink? Perhaps I’ll show you some more!’ Canton shouted to the barman and a beer appeared.
‘I’m Randy,’ the youth said smiling. Canton laughed. ‘Is that your name or merely a description of how you feel?’
‘Do I have to choose?’ Randy replied. He looked out from eyes, partly hidden by his hair, which was worn long like so many other young men were wearing it now.
‘No, not necessarily.’ Randy drank his beer straight down and placed the glass carefully on the bar. ‘I need to use the john.’ Canton knew what was being discussed but he didn’t know if it was worth the risk. He watched Randy head towards the bathroom and picked up his glass draining the contents. He made his decision and followed the younger man. Stepping through the door he wasn’t sure where Randy had gone until he heard a voice saying, ‘in here’ coming from the end stall. He found Randy sitting on the pan.
‘We’ll need to be quick,’ he said as Canton closed the door. Before he could reply Randy was unbuttoning his belt and flies. He reached a hand in and smiled as he stroked. Finally, he pulled out Canton’s cock, which rebounded on being released. Almost immediately Randy held it still and pushed his lips over the end. Canton stood and let him take control until he put his hand on the young man’s head to steady himself. He found he couldn’t help but thrust slowly. Clearly, Randy had done this before, and Canton wondered whether he’d be expecting payment. After all, this was one way to pay for your way through college. The boy was good; his tongue probed and twirled around his shaft in a way that showed he was no amateur. Canton noticed that Randy was also rubbing himself and it didn’t take long for either of them, desperation on one side, and youth on the other, to come pretty quickly. Ten minutes and it was all over. Canton grabbed some paper and tidied up.
‘I’ll leave first,’ Randy said. ‘That was nice. Perhaps next time we could ……’
The main door opened and suddenly Randy was quiet. They heard the door to the end stall open and a couple of voices. Randy unlatched the door and left. Canton simply sat down and waited until he heard the obvious sounds of activity coming from the other stall. By the time he left Randy was gone. Canton looked around as couples danced to Dolores’ singing. He nodded to the barman and went outside. It had finally started to snow and he began walking in the hope of still finding a cab. The strange thing was that he felt no better for the encounter. He suddenly realised it wasn’t the sex he’d wanted it was something imminently more worrying; he wanted Jet.
Chapter notes: Sorry this has taken so long due to a combination of things. Firstly someone on another site told me that the FBI wouldn’t be in the White House so I thought about re-writing the first few chapters – I have an idea as to how – but in the end I just decided to keep it the same for now. Secondly, I haven’t been sleeping well and real life and work have been a pain so I picked up a pen for the first time in a week on Thursday. I had been too tired previously to put thoughts into sentences. Then when I was saving it my laptop screamed a virus alarm and I promptly lost it all. Grrrrrrr. Anyway, here is the next chapter. Canton finds a friend.
Canton was surprised not to find Jet sat at his desk when he arrived at 5.30 sharp the next morning, slightly worse for wear. By the time briefing was due to begin the other man still hadn’t appeared. Canton found it strange to walk to the main security area by without Peterson by his side. Before the morning’s team leader began, Canton had a few minutes to find out what was going on.
‘Bob, where’s Agent Peterson?’ he asked Agent Brown. ‘He’s not due to be off today.’
‘No, he rang in earlier. His family had some bad news yesterday. His brother’s been killed in Vietnam. It seems they were ambushed by the Vietcong in some village. Jet’s gone home to Little Rock to be with his family. Apparently his mother’s in bits. He had some leave owing as well so he’s expected back around Christmas. I’m going to team you with Enoch over there for now.’ Canton looked over to where Enoch Adams was leaning against the wall and sighed. He knew that he was going to hate this. The man was as boring as he was thin and had no sense of humour, as well as no ass. It was going to be a long few weeks.
Canton checked the assignment details after briefing was completed. He avoided Adams for now and went to personnel. He wanted to send a condolence card to Jet about his brother but he realised that he didn’t even know his address in DC let alone where his mother lived. He put on his most charming face.
‘Doris, can you give me an address to send a sympathy card to Jet Peterson in Little Rock?’
‘Agent Delaware, you know that I can’t do that but if you bring me the card I’ll see that it’s sent.’ She fixed him with a steely glare over her glasses and Canton knew that there was no room for negotiation. He cursed under his breath. The two of them really needed to talk. He’d been planning to put his phone number in the card. ‘If it was sealed they wouldn’t open it would they; it might be alright.’
Later he stood at the side of the room with Adams, listening to the First Lady as she made her speech at the charity event. Afterwards they were approached by Clare Lewis, who was the First Lady’s appointments secretary. She handed them both a coffee.
‘Have you seen ‘Guess who’s coming to dinner,’ Canton? It’s on in the movie house on 5th Street.’ Canton realised, with some surprise that she was angling to be asked out.
‘No, I haven’t seen it but I’m a big fan of Hepburn and Tracey. Would you like to go with me tomorrow?’ he asked.
She smiled at him. ‘That would be great. It starts at 7.30.’ She gave him a note with her address.
‘I’ll pick you up at 7 then,’ Canton said. He knew she was probably expecting a dinner invitation but he didn’t want to push things too far. He’d always found it useful to go out with women on a casual basis for the cover it provide him, as long as it didn’t get too complicated.
As it turned out the film was good, if a little well meaning and Sidney Poitier as the young, handsome and black doctor was easy on the eye. He found himself wondering more than once how Jet and his family were doing. It usually took a little while for bodies to be brought back home and then there would be the full military funeral to attend.
Over the next couple of weeks he took Clare out a few times, to the movies and then to dinner. She was easy to talk to and he found that he enjoyed her company. She wasn’t just a pretty face either; she’d done English Lit at UCLA. She loved plays and poetry and absolutely adored musicals. They discussed their favourite book. For Canton it was ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ Atticus Finch was an absolute hero of his. Clare had chosen ‘Gone with the Wind.’ She explained how she adored the film and laughed when Canton agreed that Clark Gable was very handsome.
‘It’s not every man who notices another, which is odd as women do it all the time,’ she explained.
‘Yeah, well frankly my dear I don’t give a damn!’ Canton said, twirling an imaginary moustache. He was rewarded with more giggling.
‘This evening has been great, Canton. It’s been so lovely to have a civil conversation with a man about all sorts of things. Usually men either grunt through their food or talk about themselves, or sport. Look, I don’t know if you’re interested and I know you’re supposed to do the asking but ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ is touring and the President and the First Lady are going on Friday. I can probably get you on the security team so you can watch if you want.’
Canton thought about it. He wanted to go but he was worried that Clare might be expecting too much from him. However, he found himself agreeing to her invitation.
‘Yeah, that would be great. I’d love to go. It’s been ages since I’ve been to a show. I use to go a lot when I lived in New York; Broadway is amazing.’ He thought about the various shows he’d been to with Frank.
‘I suppose we’d better get off now,’ Clare said. ‘’They’re beginning to clear up around us.’
Canton was astonished at how quickly the evening had passed. ‘I’ll just pay the bill and drive you home,’ he said.
‘I could get a cab,’ Clare responded.
‘No, I insist, it’s no problem. It’s a bit slippy out there under foot and you don’t want to take any chances in those shoes.’
At her house she stopped and turned to face him on the doorstep. Canton knew that she shared the house with a few other girls. The lights were still on downstairs. It was obvious that she was expecting him to do something. He saw the curtain twitch as he leant in and gently kissed her on the cheek.
‘Thank you again for a lovely evening,’ he said as he watched her blush a little. It was true; he had enjoyed it.
‘I’m off tomorrow so I’ll see you Friday to sort out the arrangements.’
‘Fine, I’ll be at my desk by 6am.’ He gave her hand a brief squeeze before he turned and walked down the path to his car.
Driving home carefully he wondered if he was doing the right thing. It had been over two weeks now since that night. He’d given the card to Doris but heard nothing back. He knew that Jet liked him and that he liked Jet. He knew that Jet’s lips had yielded to his before the panic had set in; they’d been soft but firm. Canton knew that he wanted more. He wanted to know what it would be like to feel those lips caress other parts of his body. For a moment he got lost in the thought of gentle kisses on his neck and throat as he bent his head back to allow the other man access. A car horn brought him sharply back to reality and he was forced to swerve in order to avoid the oncoming vehicle.
Later, lying in his bed with the blankets wrapped around him against the cold, he imagined what it would be like to lie in Jet’s arms with his head on his chest. Would his chest be hairy? Canton quite liked a bit of hair as long as it was soft and curly. He felt his own chest imagining it was Jet’s, slowly moving his hand further down his body with predictable results. As he gasped in the dark it was Jet’s face he saw above him.
Friday morning dawned cold but clear. It had taken a while to defrost his frozen car. He sat in his office trying to warm up his hands. He looked up at the knock on the door. Clare grinned as she put her head around and then came to sit on his desk, right in front of him. She crossed her legs, which weren’t long but they were shapely. He guessed that the reveal of the stocking top had been deliberate.
‘Morning, you look lovely today,’ Canton heard himself say. ‘You must have been freezing coming to work dressed like that.’ He raised an eyebrow.
‘Oh I changed when I got here,’ she said cheerfully. ‘I’ve got a coat that makes me look like the abominable snowman, not to mention huge boots. So tonight, is it alright if you’re stood at the back of the box; at least you’ll be able to see from there. The First Lady remembered you from the cathedral visit. She commented that you were rather handsome. I won’t be able to go out afterwards though because we’ve got to run through her schedule for the Christmas period. I was thinking; would you like to come to my place for dinner on Saturday and I’ll cook? The other girls are out so it’ll just be us.’
Canton didn’t know what to say for a moment and then there was a noise at the door. He looked up to see Jet framed by the doorway. He stood up.
‘I’d love to have dinner with you tomorrow, Clare,’ he replied pointedly. He kissed her rather more seriously than he’d intended. As she pulled away, somewhat surprised, Canton saw the shock register on Jet’s face before he turned and fled the office.
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
Chapter notes: Again sorry for the delay. I wasn't sure where I wanted to go with this and how quickly and the bunnies deserted me. I've got a significant amount of time to cover until the Doctor arrives so there will be some chapters that happen after time gaps and concentrate on specific important events that happen in 1968. I have decided that I am going to finish this as I started but then rewrite the beginning before making a PDF. I've no idea how long it will take me anyway with my other stories as well. Anyway Jet is back with a surprise and then it's Happy New Year.
Canton sank back into his chair; Clare had gone and Canton wasn't sure what to think about his own actions. He'd seen Jet's face, the hurt and the pain showing clearly. He thought to himself. 'What if he'd messed things up entirely? What if Jet had made decisions while he was away? What if Jet had been going to say that he wanted him after all and now he'd blown it, for what, a little revenge for Jet running away from him? What was he, a teenager again?'
He thumped the desk in frustration and then got up to go to the morning briefing. Jet stood on the far side of the room talking to Agent Brown when he came in the door. There was nothing unusual in that as Jet had just returned from absence and he needed to check in. Adams came to stand next to him.
'Seems we're stuck with each other, Delaware. The boss has just told me that Peterson is going to be working with Jackson from now on. I thought you two were tight. Did something happen I don't know about?'
'Nothing I'm aware of, Adams.' Canton shrugged his shoulders, shoved his hands into his pockets and leaned back against the wall. It seemed that Jet had made some decisions but not the ones that Canton wanted.
The rest of the shift passed slowly. It was only a few days until Christmas. Canton had volunteered to work through the holidays; his parents had understood. They'd never been really close and some of his numerous cousins would be there anyway. Canton had always felt superfluous to the happy family atmosphere. He was on his way back to his car when he ran into Jet again. He was pleased to see that the other man was on his own. He saw Canton and began to move quickly but Canton risked his foot as he put it in the door to stop him driving off.
'Jet, please talk to me. I'm sorry about this morning. I don't know why I did that. Clare and I are just friends. I've taken her out a few times, that's all. There's nothing else going on. I'm sorry about your brother.'
The other man sat there both hands gripping the wheel and said nothing.
'Jet, please I have feelings for you and I know you have feelings for me, I know you do. You kissed me back.'
'Canton,' Jet said finally turning around to look at his ex partner. 'There's nothing to say. There is no us. I've no feelings for you, of any sort. We just work together that's all. You're free to go out to dinner with Clare or whoever you like and if you'd remove your leg I have somewhere I need to be. My fiancée is due to arrive on a Greyhound in just over an hour.'
'Fiancée?' Canton's mind reeled. 'You never mentioned anyone before. Who is she?'
'Not that it's any of your business but we were childhood sweethearts back home. We met again and I asked her to marry me. So if you'd let me go.'
Canton closed the car door and watched as Jet sped off out of the garage. If he'd expected anything, this wasn't it.
Christmas came and went. The president had set off on a whistle stop world tour on the 19th. He'd visited several countries including seeing troops in South Vietnam. Canton wondered how Jet felt being out there while he was stuck in the White House, keeping guard as usual. He hadn't had a chance to say anymore to Jet as they'd been on completely different shifts but he knew that they were both going to be at the New Year's Party that the President and the First Lady were throwing for all the White House staff. He'd taken Clare out a few more times to dinner and to the movies. She didn't act as if she expected any more from him, other than the good night kisses they'd exchanged. He was taking her to the party and he knew that Jet was going to be there with his fiancée, Velma. Clare had told him her name. No one had made anything of Jet's reassignment but then they happened all the time in this job.
He got the cab to pull up outside Clare's house and strode to the door. He was dressed in the full tuxedo and black tie and he knew he looked good. It was a look that suited him. As always Clare was on time and ready for him.
'You look stunning,' he said, genuinely meaning it. She was wearing a long pale blue dress which had long wide sleeves and smocking detail around the top. Her hair was piled up into a fashionable mess with tendrils hanging down the sides of her face. She did look beautiful.
'I got you this,' he said handing her the corsage of white and pink flowers. 'I hope it goes alright.'
'It's just perfect and so are you, Canton. You look very dashing. Shall we go? I hope you've brought your dancing feet as I'm planning to get you on that dance floor no matter how much you protest.'
At the venue Canton found their table and went to the bar to get a drink for them both. Champagne seemed appropriate and he carried both glasses back to where Clare was sat reading the menu.
'We are being treated tonight; look at this menu. So its dinner first and then dancing, Canton, Canton, are you listening?' But Canton was elsewhere watching as two people entered the room. Jet Peterson was also dressed in his tux and tie. Around his waist he had a red cummerbund which matched the red dress being worn by his fiancée whose arm was threaded through his. There would be many who would say that black people should not have been allowed at this event but Jet wasn't the only black member of the service; things were beginning to move on since Dr King had started his campaign. Canton realised that Clare was speaking to him.
'Sorry, I was miles away,' he said and sat down his eyes still following the other couple.
'Well, she's certainly stunning, I'll give you that,' Clare said.
'What? Oh yeah, she is.' But Canton's eyes were locked onto Jet, not his fiancée. This was going to be a long night. Just the sight of Jet in that suit was sending messages to his groin. He had to get himself under control. Fortunately, at that moment, two other couples came and sat at their table and Jet moved out of his line of sight.
The dinner was lovely and the company good. There was a lot of talk about the President's recent tour.
'Trouble is with these things is all we see is the inside of planes and hotel corridors. I've been to Italy, Australia, Pakistan and Thailand and seen nothing of those countries at all,' one of the other agents complained.
'Well, at least you can say you've been,' Canton said. 'I'd love to go to Europe and see the sights.'
'Perhaps we could go together,' Clare said. 'I've some money saved.'
'In this job that would be difficult,' Canton responded. The band had set up and began to play. 'Shall we dance,' he asked Clare.
They danced the next few songs. Canton was a good dancer; he could waltz and foxtrot and he turned Clare around and around the dance floor. The band played a mixture of music. Canton felt safer with the more formal stuff but enjoyed the Beatles medley. Somehow it was always strange to see people dancing in formal dress in an informal way. At one point his eyes had locked onto Jet's as he too danced around the floor. He moved gracefully and Canton was surprised although he didn't know why. The pants of his suit seemed to hug his every contour. The room was warm despite the cold outside so Jet had removed his jacket and loosened his tie. Canton could see the little bit of flesh that peeped out above the open shirt and he longed to press his lips against that flesh and taste the man. It was no good he had to get out of there. He led Clare back to the table and excused himself but instead of heading for the bathroom he pushed through the door and stepped outside. The cold air hit him but that didn't matter. He pushed his hands into his pockets and shivered as he leaned back against the wall. He wished he smoked as that would give him something to do. He heard the door open and looked up; his eyes widened with shock as he saw Jet standing before him.
'You're the last person I expected to follow me out here,' he said.
'I didn't expect to either but my feet brought me out here. You must be made of strong stuff to stand it out here,' Jet said.
'I'm freezing my ass off but it was better than being in there watching you looking so … Shit, Jet, you look gorgeous. I had to get out of there before my erection became obvious and Clare got the wrong impression. I figured the cold air would help.'
'Has it?' Jet asked moving towards him.
Canton swallowed. 'Well, it had until now.' Jet was now stood directly in front of him. 'What d'you want, Jet?'
'You,' the other man replied simply as he kissed Canton, pressing him against the wall. Canton responded to the kiss opening his mouth to let the other man's tongue slide over his. It felt wonderful. Jet took his bottom lip and sucked on it then his lips moved across Canton's jaw and down to his neck.
'Jet,' he pleaded. 'Stop a minute.'
'You want me to stop,' Jet said, in between kisses.
'No, not really.' He felt their erections rubbing against each other through the fabric of their suits and Jet's hands cupping his ass pulling them as close together as he could. 'No, I want you to go on forever, but I don't get it. I thought you didn't want me. You've got a fiancée now, remember.'
'I couldn't help it. You look so good in that suit. I just wanted to touch you. I wanted you dancing in my arms. I needed to, I needed to do this,' Jet replied, his breathing hitched as he pressed his body against Canton's once more.
'Oh God, you feel so good,' Canton gasped. 'If you keep rubbing against me I'm going to come in my pants. Come home with me now, please. We can leave this place. I'll make an excuse to Clare. We can say we've been called away to an emergency.'
'I can't leave Velma just like that.' Jet felt Canton's hand press against his cock. 'What are you trying to do to me? Why do I feel like this about you?' Canton pulled down the zip and reached inside. His hand felt flesh. He wished he could just go down on his knees there and then and take Jet into his mouth.
'Shit, the door,' Jet gasped. They sprang apart instantly. Jet turned and zipped himself up. Their breath stood out against the dark of the night.
'There you both are,' Clare said. 'Come on it's just before midnight. It'll soon be 1968.' Both men looked at each other and wondered how much she'd seen.
'Yeah, sorry coming now,' Canton replied, suppressing a snigger that they very nearly had.
As the clock struck midnight and ushered in a brand new year, each man kissed the woman they were with, but their eyes burnt only with desire for each other as they stared across the room.
Chapter notes: Clare needs to talk to Canton about New Year’s Eve.
Clare sat in her room and pondered what she should do next. It was a month since New Year’s Eve and she’d kept what she’d seen that night, out in the alley, to herself. She wasn’t stupid; she’d worked out immediately what was going on between the two men. Perhaps she should have coughed earlier but they were so bound up in each other she’d stood there fascinated, before realising that Velma was heading that way as well. She supposed she should have been shocked and hurt; the real truth was that she was more surprised that she wasn’t shocked. She liked Canton; in fact she liked him a lot. He was good value for money, as people might say; he was funny, charming and knowledgeable, and he’d never tried to get his hand up her skirt. She laughed to herself as she now knew why he hadn’t ever bothered to do more than kiss her on the cheek, except for that one time in the office when Jet had been stood there. To be honest she was more amazed about Jet than Canton. Jet was a sports fan and player, unlike Canton, who had to be dragged to every sporting event. She told herself off because she didn’t like stereotypes, but Jet was also black and somehow she found it more of a surprise that he was – what was the word that they used now – gay. Somehow, using the word homosexual to describe both men, sounded both clinical and pejorative. She knew that there were many other words she could have used instead, but it was time that attitudes changed about a lot of things, in her opinion. Clare looked at herself in the mirror. She knew that she wasn’t exactly beautiful but she was pleasant. She also knew that Canton would keep asking her out as cover for his feelings for Jet. What she had to decide finally was whether she was going to try to talk to him about what she’d seen at last, or if they were just going to let things continue as they had been doing. She applied the last of her make-up and listened to the radio while she waited for him.
‘I want to see you,’ Canton said into the mouthpiece. It seemed that recently they hadn’t managed more than five minutes together, for one reason or another. They were still on separate shifts and hardly ever crossed paths at work, although that wasn’t the best place for a quick grope in the rest room. Then there was there the other problem; Velma had found a job in DC and now expected Jet to spend his limited free time with her. Canton found himself feeling increasingly more resentful towards the woman, although it wasn’t her fault. Jet had suggested a foursome to the movies or to dinner just so that they could have some time in the same room. They might be able to disappear for five minutes if they were at least in the same place. It wasn’t perfect but it was something. Canton intended to ask Clare about it that evening. And then there was Clare. He liked her a lot and he felt guilty every time her left her stood on that doorstep after the kiss on the cheek. He knew that good girls would want a ring on their finger before anything else, but times they were a changing as Dylan would say, and make love not war was the slogan of the moment. He often wondered whether Clare expected him to ask to come in for that cup of coffee which was the code word for expecting more. He was brought back to reality.
‘I know I want to see you too and this may be the only way we get to spend any time together,’ Jet replied. He was practically whispering into the mouthpiece even though he was by himself as if some mysterious person was listening. ‘We could go out Friday night to that restaurant on Fifth and Lincoln; I know we’ll be alright there and it’s supposed to have pretty good food.’
‘Alright,’ Canton replied. ‘I’ll speak to Clare tonight.’ He put down his office phone and wondered whether he should have used it. He knew that there were bugs everywhere but he hoped that no one was listening. He was picking Clare up straight from work, which itself had been busy that week. There had been lots going on with the joint chiefs after North Koreans had captured the USS Pueblo. There were no signs that they intended to let the crew go at the moment. The hawks wanted to retaliate but the doves quickly pointed out that there was enough going on with Vietnam to risk another war in the same area. There were lots of calls for peace talks to begin and Canton knew that Johnson was moving in this direction. He expected things to get worse before they got better as the intelligence that had been picked up suggested that the Vietcong were preparing to start an offensive soon. He was just glad he had nothing to do with these negotiations; his job was merely to protect the person of the President, or in his case increasingly the First Lady, which meant he’d seen more of Clare. They were going to a jazz club tonight for a change. The music wasn’t too experimental and they played a nice variety. It would be a bit of a change for both of them and he’d heard that the female singer was good.
They had a light supper at a nearby restaurant as the place didn’t really get going until later and then arrived at the club. It was exactly as you’d expect one of these places to be. It had a speakeasy quality about it and the atmosphere was fairly thick with cigarette smoke. Canton had no doubt that there were a variety of substances on offer at the place but he wasn’t on duty now. He found them a corner table and got some drinks from the bar. He almost expected to get it served in tea cups as in days of old. The stage was occupied by a four piece group consisting of a drum, guitar, double bass and clarinet player who were, in Canton’s view, joining up a set of notes into no particular order. When he returned with the drinks he noticed that Clare was tapping away with her hand to the rhythm that they were creating.
‘Do you really like this stuff?’ he said into her ear.
‘Oh come on Canton, don’t be such a stiff,’ she replied pushing him gently. ‘I hear the woman singer is really good and she’ll be on in a bit.’
‘At least it wasn’t too noisy to hear yourself speak,’ Canton thought. Not that he objected to that. The Doors performance he’d been to last year had been amazing and his ears had rung for days. It was just this style wasn’t really him. Clare leaned over towards him as he was about to ask her about Friday and going out with Jet and Velma.
‘Canton, I need to speak to you about something,’ she said trying to summon her courage.
‘Me too,’ he replied somewhat surprised. ‘Ladies first though,’ he added.
‘No, you tell me if there’s something.’ Clare wondered if Canton was finally going to come clean or dump her or both.
‘Alright, how d’you fancy making a foursome for dinner on Friday night with Jet and Velma. Velma doesn’t know many people in DC and Friday is the first night we’ve had off together in ages. What d’you think? Could you stand it?’
He saw something go across her face; it almost looked like frustration. ‘It’s okay we don’t have to if you don’t want,’ he said.
‘No, that’s fine. Canton, I need to talk about something else.’ The music suddenly stopped. A woman appeared on the stage with other musicians and the audience applauded. She began to sing, scatting to the music. Her voice was pure and beautiful and Canton found himself listening intently. He heard Clare say, ‘after this,’ and they both sat and listened to the woman on the stage sing note after note. The performance went on for the next 30 minutes with a variety of songs, mixed with improvisations. Canton enjoyed her voice and had to admit that some of the vocal interpretations were impressive. Clare however, sat entranced and watched the woman’s every move. When the first set ended she, like many others in the room, stood and applauded.
‘Wasn’t she amazing,’ she said. ‘What a voice; I could listen to her all night and she has such a beautiful face don’t you think?’
‘Yes, she certainly has something about her,’ Canton agreed. He had to admit that he’d never seen Clare’s face so animated. ‘I’ll get us some more drinks and then you can tell me what you wanted to talk about earlier.’ Canton made his way to the bar and got more drinks. ‘Good isn’t she,’ the barman said.
‘Yes, very, I’ve never been here before and never heard her name before,’ Canton said making conversation.
‘No, she’s fairly new in DC. She’s actually my sister, Lorelei Lane. That’s her stage name of course but Lorraine doesn’t sound like a jazz singer’s name.’
‘Well, my friend was really taken with her. D’you think she’d do her an autograph before she’s too famous?’ Canton asked.
‘Sure, bring her back stage after. Tell them Rick sent you and they’ll let you back there and then perhaps we could meet up too,’ the other man suggested. ‘I did see you in Glitzy’s a little while back didn’t I? Don’t worry no strings, just a little fun.’
Canton wasn’t sure what to say. This could be dangerous but the bloke had no idea what he really did or who he worked for. ‘Can I take a rain check on that as I’m with someone and, you know, it would be a bit awkward?’
‘That’s cool. Here’s my number. Ring me or come back here and the offer for the autograph still stands. My sister likes a pretty face too and your girl over there looks just her type. Canton had to join his thoughts back together. ‘Oh right, okay I’ll see what Clare wants to do.’
‘You were a while,’ Clare said when he got back to the table. ‘Find a friend did you?’ She nodded at the barman who was smiling in their direction.
‘Oh that’s Rick,’ Canton said. ‘The singer is his sister. He says that if we go backstage after she’ll give you her autograph. Her name’s Lorelei and she’s only recently come to perform in DC.’
‘Really, that would be great,’ Clare said her face alight with enthusiasm.
‘Now, you had something to say,’ Canton said.
‘Yes, I’ve been thinking about telling you this for a while now and please don’t interrupt me as I have to get this out and Canton, this doesn’t change how I feel about you; I want you to understand that.’
‘Now I am worried,’ Canton said and he was. ‘Are you alright?’
‘Yes, I’m fine. Look, I’m just going to say this alright; I saw you and Jet in the alley on New year’s Eve.’
Canton’s heart skipped several beats. ‘Yes, I know you did; we were just getting some air,’ he said trying to stay calm.
‘Canton, he had you pressed against the wall and you had your hand down his pants, now that’s not my idea of taking the air and I don’t think it’s yours is it? I’m not stupid, Canton; I know about such things between men. I have to admit that I was surprised, although more by Jet than by you ……..’
Canton took her hand. ‘I’m sorry you had to see that Clare, but what do you intend to do? Jet and I could lose our jobs or even be put in prison if people find out about us.’
‘I don’t intend to do anything, Canton. I’ve known for a month now. I guess you prefer men to women don’t you and I’m just a smokescreen.’
‘Oh Clare, you’re more than that, but yes I do like men, I always have. I’m sorry if I’ve treated you badly in all this. I really do think that you’re great company and I want to remain friends with you I just don’t…’
‘Want to put your hand down my pants!’ she suggested.
‘No, not when you put it as simply as that,’ he agreed. ‘But I’d miss it if we didn’t go out,’ he ventured. ‘It’s great having a friend to talk to as I’ve never been a person who makes friends easily.’
‘Don’t worry Canton, I like you too, but what about Friday, and what about Velma? I don’t know if I can lie like that around the poor woman. It’s hardly her fault that Jet is cheating on her.’
‘We haven’t really got to the cheating on her bit,’ Canton said. ‘We’re only going out on Friday because we’ve hardly seen each other, even to spend time together. Please, d’you think you could help me out this once. I will take you to meet Lorelei,’ he said as the singer came back onto the stage. ‘And I turned down her brother over there even after he gave me his number.’
‘Alright Canton, we’ll see but you and I need some ground rules for this relationship, and for Friday.’ She leaned towards him, kissed him lightly and then, as Lorelei began to sing, turned away and her eyes never left the other woman’s face.
Chapter notes: A foursome for dinner.
Canton looked at himself in the mirror. He smoothed down his hair and realised that he was beginning to recede at a rapid rate, just like his father had done. The Delaware family curse his father called it. He turned from side to side; he'd treated himself to a new suit and shirt. The suit was dark blue and the shirt a lighter blue which made a change from the standard black he wore for work. His shoes were so shiny he wouldn't be surprised if they could be seen from the moon. The sky was clear through the window and it was still very cold. He could see the full moon shining down on the city. He knew that they were planning to send a space ship up there as soon as they could. The Soviets had beaten them into space so the US was determined to be the first country to put a man on the moon. These were exciting times in which to live with so many changes going on in society. He wondered if things would ever change enough for him and Jet to ever live as they wanted. He shrugged his shoulders and pulled on his coat.
Clare was waiting for him, as always, when he pulled up outside her house and walked to the door. She opened it before he was half way up the path.
'You look lovely,' he said, meaning it. 'You've had your hair cut.'
'I know does it suit me?' she asked. 'I saw some pictures of that English model Twiggy and decided I'd had enough of wearing it long. This way I can just wash and go.'
'Yeah, it does suit you and it'll certainly get you noticed,' Canton said.
'That's a new suit you've got on as well isn't it? I guess that's not for my benefit.' She smiled at his blush. Canton wondered what the hell was going on as he never blushed.
'You're right it is new but I'm not sure that Jet will even notice. Men are fairly useless like that.'
In the car Clare continued with her questions. 'Have you always known that you liked men and not women in that way?'
'Yeah,' Canton said. 'I kinda figured it out early on. Erections at the wrong moment can be a pain. We had a sports coach who loved to do wrestling. When you fancy someone you don't wanna have to wrestle them in that sort of suit, believe me. The boys used to bring in these girly mags too and talk about how they'd use them to … well you must know what I mean.'
'Yes, I do; you don't need to explain. I have brothers, Canton and I've read a few books. I'm not completely naïve about sex, or men,' she explained.
'Well, I used to look at these pictures of half naked women and nothing at all happened. The girls used to bring in Cosmo and I'd pick them up, read the stories and articles and find myself looking more at the pictures of men in the adverts, and then things did stir. Steve McQueen on a bike did more for me than Rachel Welsh!'
'It must have been difficult growing up knowing that you were different,' Clare said.
'You could say that but I tried hard to be just like everyone else. I went out with girls. I even got engaged towards the end of college but I was so deliberately obnoxious to her that she called it off. I was 20 before I had my first fumbling experience with another man, and we were both bloody petrified of getting caught so we avoided each other like the plague afterwards. I got recruited into the FBI straight from college so opportunities for sex were a bit limited and rather career threatening during training.'
He pulled up near the restaurant and could see Jet's car parked just further up. His stomach flipped and he was about to get out when Clare put her hand over his and stopped him.
'You have had sex with another man haven't you,' she said abruptly. Canton looked at her somewhat surprised. 'Sorry,' she said. 'That's very rude of me. I'm afraid my curiosity got the better of me.'
'The answer to that is yes,' Canton said. 'I lived in New York and you learn where there are safe places for like minded people. I wouldn't say it was anything regular but then I met Frank investigating a case.' Canton looked out into the night for a moment.
'You fell in love,' Clare said simply.
'I thought I did and I thought he loved me, despite all the danger and difficulties, but he left me, got married and I transferred here.' He thought about Jet and Velma and wondered if history was repeating itself. Clare seemed to catch his thought.
'It doesn't have to be the same this time, Canton. Perhaps Jet will choose you after all. You could go abroad and live to Europe or England. Isn't homosexuality legal in England now? Or you could move to Illinois where it's legal now. I've been checking on things.'
'I know there are some choices, but one state out of 50 isn't a good record and I can't see the FBI accepting me wanting to live with a black man can you? Come on, let's go and have this meal and thanks for coming with me. I really do appreciate it.'
'There is a price, Canton. Take me to the jazz club again will you? Perhaps Jet would like to come with us.' She winked at him as she got out of the car and walked towards the restaurant. He ran to catch her up and they linked arms.
Jet and Velma were waiting in the bar area when they came in. Canton felt his stomach lurch at the sight of the other man he smiled and then got himself under control. Jet got to his feet and kissed Clare then shook Canton's hand. A few people looked at them but no one said anything. Canton got more drinks and they looked at the menus. Clare began to talk about their visit to the jazz club.
'The singer was wonderful. You two should come. Canton has said that he'll take me back,' Clare explained.
'That sounds like an interesting place,' Jet said.
'I didn't know you liked jazz,' Velma said. 'It's not my thing at all.' Clare looked at Canton and smiled. 'Well, perhaps you could come anyway, Jet. You must have some time off in common like tonight.'
'Yeah, that would be good,' Jet agreed. 'I'm always open to new experiences.' Canton caught the wink and choked on his drink spluttering slightly.
'Are you okay,' Clare said.
'Yes, sorry it just went down the wrong way,' Canton said. 'It looks like our table is ready.'
The evening passed by; they discussed the current civil rights situation and all agreed that change had to come.
'Lots of things need to change,' Clare said. 'It's unfair that some people are treated differently just because of the colour of their skin, or because of their gender, or even because they fancy the same sex.' The others looked at each other. 'Oh come on, you know that there are men who fancy men and women who fancy women and that there always have been; you've only got to study history to know that. England has just legalised it. Sometimes America is so behind the times. We need laws to protect black people, woman should be able to take more control of their lives, and their bodies, and people should be able to live their private lives how they want.' By now Velma's mouth was hanging open. 'Don't you think so?' Clare said looking at them all.
'Well, you've got my vote,' Canton said. 'So when are you running for Congress?'
'Sorry, I'm running off at the mouth again aren't I? I never did know when to shut up. It got me into no end of trouble at school. But I do believe in what I say.'
'I'm not sure what to say,' Velma said. 'I was brought up in a very religious family; we both were,' she continued looking at Jet. 'Some behaviour just isn't acceptable in my view.' Canton and Jet looked at each other.
'Velma, perhaps we need to change the subject,' Jet said. He needed to talk to Canton.
'I tell you what,' Clare said. 'Let's take our coffee to the lounge area and I'll tell you all about working for the First Lady.'
'I just need to use the bathroom,' Canton said.
'Me too,' Jet agreed.
'And I thought it was just women who did that,' Velma said laughing.
The bathroom was empty when they got there. Canton put his back to the door and pulled Jet into his arms kissing him hard. 'God, I've wanted to do that all night,' he said as they broke apart still holding hands.
'She knows doesn't she? Clare knows about us. Is she going to keep quiet?' Jet said sounding worried.
'Yes she told me a couple of days ago that she saw us in the alley on New Year's Eve but she's cool about it and she's not going to say anything. Stop worrying and kiss me again.' Canton felt Jet's arms wrap around him and pull him close as their lips met again. The kiss continued for some time and Canton began to feel light headed as he tried to take in enough oxygen through his nose. Jet continued to kiss just above Canton's collar and took his earlobe into his mouth and sucked gently. Canton moaned as his body began to respond.
'Oh God, Jet, I want you. I want to touch you. I want to lie naked in your arms and feel you kiss me all over. I don't want to have sex in a bathroom; I want us to make love. Oh that's so good please Jet, I've got to see you alone. I can't stand not being with you. Next week, spend the night with me, please.' Canton was pleading now. His body was screaming for attention. He knew that he was hard under his pants as he ground himself against Jet's leg. Jet was breathing heavily. 'Next week, I'll find some time I promise. I want this too. It doesn't matter how much I try all I can think about is you. I need to use the john for real. We've been here a while and they'll wonder.'
Canton kissed him again before they left. Next week couldn't come quickly enough for either of them.
Chapter notes: Sorry for the delay which was caused by a combination of wanting to finish Torchwood High, getting obsessed with writing my reel-Torchwood entry and losing my Canton muse. This is a first time sex chapter and I was a bit unsure about it. I watched Day of the Moon today so I hope this is in character.
Canton practically counted the hours and then the minutes. On more than one occasion it seemed that life was conspiring against them and they wouldn’t be able to have that night together. On the first attempt Canton was called into work; on the second Velma was ill and Jet felt that he had to look after her, but finally the night came and Canton felt as nervous as hell. He planned to get a take away. They were going to have pizza and beer, watch a film and get to know each other on the sofa. This was going to be an old fashioned date, not just sex; although he hoped that there would be something to shout about. And that was another thing. Canton didn’t know what Jet had done before. He’d washed everywhere and slapped on too much aftershave, just in case. While he took his bath he wondered if Jet would be a top or bottom, or both, or neither. God, it was complicated. Straight people had it so much easier. All they had to do was fuck, and women seemed to expect very little in the way of pleasure. Canton wondered if Jet had slept with Velma. Somehow he doubted it as Velma seemed to be a religious person who would no doubt be against sex before marriage.
‘So how long is it since he slept with anyone?’ he thought to himself. Other than the quick session in the john at Glitzy’s, it had been a few months for Canton as well.
It was very tense at work. The Vietcong had started a new offensive after the Tet Festival and things were not going well. More American soldiers were coming home in body bags and demonstrations were growing. Protecting the President meant making sure that the demonstrators were kept well away. There were rumours circulating that Johnson’s heart wasn’t in the job anymore. He was standing as the Democratic candidate but there was some doubt that he would get the nod from the party. There was also doubt as to whether the Democrats would win anyway, with the war going badly.
Canton looked at himself in the mirror and wondered if he could really get away with this shirt. The shop assistant had told him that it suited him but such bright stripes weren’t usually Canton’s style. He had to admit that he was always more at home in the white shirt and black suit, standard issue for the FBI. He heard a knock. Canton swallowed hard and went to the door. When he opened it he thought he’d died and gone to heaven. He realised that he’d never seen Jet without a tie, but there he was dressed in an afghan coat, which was open, with blue shirt and beige pants. The shirt was open at the neck and Canton could see that Jet had short curly hair on his chest, which just peeped above the gap. He wondered how far down the hair went and imagined his fingers tracing the route down to his navel and beyond.
‘Are you planning to keep me on the doorstep, or do I get to come in?’ Jet asked, smiling at Canton’s obvious confusion.
‘Sorry, I was just thinking that I’d never seen you without a shirt and tie, except when we went to the game and you wore a jumper then. Come in. I thought we’d just have pizza and beer tonight. We could watch the game, or there’s a film, or we could listen to music, or ……’ Canton felt a finger being placed on his lips.
‘Sshh let’s just see how things go, ay. We both know why we’re here Canton, and what we both want.’ Jet put a hand either side of Canton’s face and pulled him into a kiss. Canton felt his lips part and Jet’s tongue beginning to probe. Suddenly their bodies were pressing together as Canton backed Jet against the door. Hands began to explore bodies. Canton put both arms under Jet’s coat and pulled his would be lover towards him. He pushed his tongue back in to do battle with the other man's, until they both realised that this could go too far too soon and pulled back.
‘Wow,’ Canton said. ‘That was impressive.’ Canton had felt the strength of the other man as he ran his hands over Jet’s back muscles. Jet was an athlete, and worked out regularly. Canton had a sudden vision of a muscular chest and toned calves wrapped around him, or over his shoulders, and he shivered with anticipation. Jet looked at him with a questioning expression.
‘So, what are we having something to eat then? And I’d love a beer if you’ve got one.’
‘Sorry, I’m being a rubbish host. It’s your fault kissing me like that. I’ll order pizza; there’s a good place around the corner. I’ve got plenty of beer and ice cream as well. There’s a game on the TV, or what about Star Trek? Have you ever seen it?’ Canton asked.
‘Seen it! I watched every episode of season 1. I didn’t know you liked sci-fi stuff,’ Jet said.
‘There’s a lot you still have to learn about me, Jet Peterson.’ His voice was laced with seductive promise. ‘I’ll phone for the pizzas and get us that beer. Give me your coat and I’ll hang it up.’ As he went towards the kitchen he was made sure that he swayed a bit for Jet’s benefit.
Jet had to admit that he was more nervous than he’d expected. He’d felt guilty telling Velma that he’d been called into work, especially as she was still recovering from the flu which had laid her low. He wasn’t sure what it was about Canton that made him breathe more heavily, and his heart and stomach flutter. It wasn’t that he was so good looking but there was something in his attitude that was so enticing. He just had a look that came from something as small as dropping one shoulder and raising an eyebrow. He loved the way that Canton put his hands into his pockets and simply said ‘I kinda figured that.’ He wasn’t athletic in any way, and his body certainly wasn’t toned, although he wasn’t fat either. He looked good in a suit, that was obvious, and Jet smiled to himself when he saw Canton come in wearing that shirt.
‘Interesting shirt choice, Canton,’ he observed grinning widely.
‘I know, it’s not really me is it. The shop assistant persuaded me that I needed to get into fashion that wasn’t stuck in the 50s. I don’t think mustard is my colour really. I’m just going to go and collect the pizzas. I’ll be about 10 minutes. Make yourself at home.’
As soon as Canton was gone Jet got up and checked out the bedroom. It was much as he’d expected. The room was pretty sparse and the furniture plain. He was pleased to see that there was a double bed. The cover was blue, which was the main colour in the room. Jet checked the drawer in the bedside cabinet. Inside were condoms and a tube of lubrication. He took a sharp intake of breath but at least Canton was prepared. At some point Jet realised that he was going to have to tell Canton that he’d never gone that far with anyone. He couldn’t even think the words to himself. But he found, as well as being nervous, that there was excitement at the thought of having Canton underneath him, of pushing into him. Would that be what Canton wanted or would he expect to fuck him? He heard the door and ducked into the bathroom.
‘Pizza is served,’ Canton shouted. He got more beer and put the pizza on the table having turned on the TV. They watched Star Trek as they ate and drank. They discussed other science fiction and found that they both were fans of ‘the Day the Earth Stood Still’ and both had read and loved ‘War of the Worlds’ as well as John Wynham’s books. Jet stretched his arm casually around Canton, who leaned against the other man as they watched the programme. Every so often Canton would feel Jet kiss his head gently. He had one hand draped across Jet’s thigh, which was firm under his touch. He moved the hand up desperate to feel Jet’s chest and began to undo one button so that he could push his fingers under the cotton material. The hair felt curly and wiry but soft to the touch. He opened another button and moved across until he felt a hard nipple under his fingers. He squeezed gently between two fingers and was gratified to hear Jet moan slightly. Using one hand he managed to undo all of the buttons and pulled open the shirt. Idly he ran his fingers up and down the hair on Jet’s chest and then he leaned in and took the other nipple between his teeth, biting gently and then licking all around it. Jet shifted his hips underneath him and Canton dropped one had down to palm over the bulge within the beige pants. Jet lay with his head back enjoying the sensations he was feeling. Women never did this. No woman had ever sucked his nipples. For most it was what he did to them, so this was very different. He’d never spent the whole night with a man before and foreplay wasn’t something he’d ever indulged in, so this was an entirely new experience.
Canton stopped what he was doing and looked up. Jet leaned over and kissed him as the other man found himself almost in Jet’s lap. It wasn’t exactly a battle of tongues but just feeling the strength of the other man made Canton wonder what it would be like to feel that tongue licking the underside of his cock, along its full length, and those lips sucking on his balls. He could feel his erection pushing at the confines of his pants, longing to be freed. He pulled back for a moment.
‘Let’s take this into the bedroom shall we?’ he said moving next to Jet.
‘Yes please. I want to see you naked and kiss you all over,’ Jet said.
Canton watched as Jet stood up. With the open shirt he looked as sexy as hell when he held out a hand, pulled Canton up towards him and then led him into his own bedroom. Once inside they sat on the edge of the bed and began to undress. Canton pushed the shirt from Jet’s shoulders and ran his hands down his biceps feeling the strength underneath and feeling slightly intimidated. Jet began to undo the buttons on Canton’s shirt. Canton really was white but there was a patch of dark hair between his nipples that led in a line down to his navel. He wondered if Canton was breathing in and just suddenly poked his stomach. Canton breathed out.
‘Oh come on, you’re built like a wrestler and I’m just a soft white man; what did you expect?’ Canton said.
‘I know you’re white, you idiot and I know you’re not an athlete. If I wanted that sort of man I’m sure that there are a few at the gym who’d oblige.’ He pushed off Canton’s shirt and kissed him, their naked bodies touching for the very first time. He began to kiss slowly down that white chest, bending down to swirl his tongue in Canton’s belly button.
‘Stop it, that tickles,’ Canton said.
One thing that wasn’t a secret was what their cocks looked like. Standing next to each other at the urinals gave you a pretty good idea of how other men were endowed. Canton reached over and undid Jet’s belt and zip. His hand brushed over Jet’s cock.
‘Come on,’ Jet said. ‘Let’s get this unveiling over with and get into bed.’ Both men pulled off their socks and then their pants and underwear and then quickly got under the covers.
Canton took the lead and began to kiss down Jet’s chest. His fingers traced patterns on any piece of flesh that he could reach and then he took the plunge and wrapped his hand around the impressive erection Jet was sporting. He looked up briefly, almost looking for permission as Jet nodded briefly. Canton put his lips over Jet’s cock and began to move up and down slowly. His lover gasped as the contact was made and he thrust upwards catching Canton by surprise and hitting the back of his throat.
‘Sorry, I’m not very used to all this,’ Jet said. Canton stopped for a moment.
‘Oh God, don’t stop, that’s so bloody good.’ Canton smiled and dropped his head again. He continued as Jet’s breaths got shorter and he could feel the orgasm building. Canton planned to swallow all the other man had to give and kept going even when he felt Jet try to pull away as he came into the other man’s mouth. Canton sucked out every drop and finished by licking around the now softening cock until it was clean and then wiped his lips. He made his way up the bed and kissed Jet, allowing him to taste himself.
‘Bloody hell Canton, I didn’t expect you to do that. I’ve never managed to without retching. Is there some sort of technique to it?’
Canton laughed. ‘And thank you kind Sir, for allowing me to suck your beautiful, thick cock.’ Jet suddenly looked sheepish and began to kiss the other man’s face – tiny little kisses that covered everywhere he could reach.
‘That was amazing, Canton, absolutely amazing; I mean it. I want you to teach me how to do that to you.’ Jet’s hand had strayed and was at that moment casually stroking Canton’s cock. There was an unspoken question in the air. First times were awkward as each man wondered what the other liked or expected.
‘I’ll teach you anything you want,’ Canton said. ‘Look, we need to talk a bit about what we want. It’s a bit of a difficult conversation for the dinner table, even over pizza, so now seems appropriate.’ All the time he keep stroking up and down Jet’s cock, spreading the liquid seeping from the top over its length.
‘I don’t know what you want, Canton, or what you expect,’ Jet said nervously.
‘Okay, I want you to fuck me, Jet. I want to feel this gorgeous cock of yours inside me. I want to come with your cock buried deep inside me hitting my prostate with every thrust.’ He felt Jet shiver; he hoped with excitement. Canton reached over into his drawer and pulled out the condom and lube.
‘You don’t mind do you? It’s not that I don’t trust you but you never know and I don’t take chances I’ve been burned before.’
‘Canton, I’ve never fucked a man before. Doesn’t it hurt?’ he asked.
‘A bit, but not much if you prepare properly. Look, let me show you how.’ Canton explained to Jet what to do. The other man marvelled as he pushed his fingers into the other man’s ass. He was fascinated to watch them disappear and reappear. When Canton suddenly lurched he wondered what he’d done wrong and withdrew.
‘No, it’s alright you just hit my prostate. It was good,’ Canton assured him. He opened the condom and rolled it onto Jet’s cock which was showing a very impressive recovery time. Canton lay on his back and lifted his legs over Jet’s shoulders as the other man lined up and then began to push slowly in. Canton felt the burn as he was stretched; it had been a while for him but it was so good to feel that full.
‘You can move, you know,’ he told Jet who did as he was told.
‘This is so good,’ Jet said. ‘You feel so tight around me. Are you sure that you’re alright.’
Canton gasped as Jet his that spot again. ‘S’working for me too,’ he said taking hold of his own cock and pulling it. He wanted Jet to feel what it was like to have a man coming around him, pulling him in. He watched all sorts of expressions crossing his lover’s face, wonder, surprise, pleasure all mixed together. Canton knew that he wasn’t far from coming.
‘Wait for me,’ he told Jet. ‘Let me come first and then let go. It’s good I promise you.’ Canton felt another larger hand encircling his own as he brought himself to a climax sending white liquid all over his stomach.
‘Oh God, Canton, that’s it,’ Jet said as he poured himself into the other man and then fell forward gasping. The condom was tied and disposed of and both men lay next to each other in the bed.
‘Are you okay?’ Canton asked.
‘Yeah, of course I am. I’m more than okay. Oh God, Canton, what are we going to do? What we’ve just done is illegal. We could both get thrown in jail and we work for the President. Imagine the scandal. And there’s Velma as well.’
Canton pulled himself up onto his elbow and looked at the other man. ‘Do you want to stop?’ he asked. ‘Just have this one perfect time and leave it at that.’ Jet reached over and pulled him in for a kiss which lasted for some time.
‘That’s my answer. The trouble is that I don’t think I’ll ever want to stop doing this.’
‘Then somehow we find a way,’ Canton replied simply and laid his head on Jet’s chest. ‘There has to be a way.’
Chapter notes: Canton and Jet wonder where they are going and the President makes an announcement.
Finding time for them to be alone together proved difficult. They had a few snatched hours here and there, mostly in Canton’s flat. For both of them it was sometimes exciting sneaking around, but in the end it was basically unsatisfying and they realised that they needed more.
‘Considering you thought you’d never learn, you’ve got much better at that,’ Canton said, between groans, as Jet’s lips wrapped around his morning erection. They’d worked late escorting the President home from a visit out of state and had fallen into bed together at about 2 that morning. Canton hoped that none of his neighbours had heard them come in together as they couldn’t risk any gossip, or someone reporting their behaviour to the police. Both men knew, from working on the force, that this could happen. Canton suppressed a loud groan as he emptied himself into Jet’s willing throat.
Having recovered his equilibrium Canton looked down at his lover. Jet was resting his head on Canton’s chest, idly stroking himself.
‘Would you like somewhere to put that?’ he asked smiling and reached for the drawer. Minutes later Jet was buried balls deep in the other man. Canton was bent almost double as he pushed into him over and over again. God, he adored the man’s strength and loved the feel of the burn when Jet stretched his ass to accommodate his impressive erection. He knew Jet was about to come and prepared for the full weight of his lover to fall over him. However, he wasn’t prepared for what came next.
Jet withdrew, disposed of the condom, and fell down next to him. He leaned on his elbow and looked at Canton.
‘You are amazing; you know that don’t you?’ Canton’s mouth twitched into a small smile. Jet stretched up and kissed him, pushing his tongue between his lips. They stayed kissing each other like this for a few minutes until both needed room to breathe. Inches away from his face Jet looked at Canton and then it happened.
‘I love you so much, Canton Everett Delaware III.’ For a moment both men lay there too stunned to speak further.
Jet sat up pulling himself away from Canton. ‘I shouldn’t have said that, should I?’ he questioned.
‘No, it’s okay; I’m glad you did. It’s just, well, is that what this is? I haven’t dared hope anything over the last couple of months. You have Velma, and you haven’t called it off with her, have you? I didn’t know what I was to you, other than someone you liked to fuck, but love, I never expected that.’
‘I didn’t either,’ Jet said quietly. ‘It sort of snuck up on me. But I do love you, Canton; I just don’t know what to do about it. I’m also beginning to panic that you haven’t said anything.’
‘What? Of course I love you. Look, Jet, I’ve never been one of those men that go out and cruise for pick-ups; it’s always been too dangerous and I’ve never really felt satisfied when I have. I guess I’m just a little unconventionally conventional. I’d love to be able to do what straight people do; find someone to love, settle down and get married.’
Jet looked startled. ‘What? You want to marry me?’
‘Is that so incredible?’ Canton asked. ‘That two people who love each other should want to be together and get married.’
‘But we’re two men! What we’ve just done is against the law in virtually every state in this country. Hell, we’re even different colours. If you were a woman I’d have people wanting to string me up for sleeping with you, even if it isn’t against the law now. Do you honestly think that two men could ever get married?’
‘Oh I don’t know, Jet, but it’s something I want. I know it won’t happen soon but things are changing. We could leave the FBI and go to Michigan. Our relationship isn’t against the law there.’
The phone rang; it was Clare. ‘Hi, Clare. Have I what? The news? What about it? The President’s making an announcement. Okay, we’ll go and look now.’
Clare noted the we. ‘Is Jet with you?’ she asked.
‘Yes, we got in late this morning and he stayed here. Look, I’ll turn on the TV and get back to you.’
‘She says the President is making an announcement. I knew something was brewing when he met with the Vice- President yesterday.’
Canton made coffee while Jet sat looking at the screen, listening to the astonishing announcement. President Lyndon Johnson stood in the press room of the White House and told the reporters congregated there that there would be a curtailment of bombing of North Vietnam. This came as no real surprise; the campaign was making no difference and the publicity showing bomb victims had done nothing for the US cause. Information about an incident being covered up by the army had been leaked within the White House. Canton had been on duty when the Chiefs of Staff had been called in by the President. There were rumours of a massacre of women and children by US soldiers. If the information got out to the public it would lead to yet more protests. The President looked haggard and those who were on duty at night talked about him having problems sleeping.
He continued to speak about his hopes for peace in Vietnam and how he hoped that South Vietnamese forces would be able to fight for themselves.
‘I believe that a peaceful Asia is far nearer to reality because of what America has done in Vietnam. I believe that the men who endure the dangers of battle--fighting there for us tonight--are helping the entire world avoid far greater conflicts, far wider wars, far more destruction, than this one.
The peace that will bring them home someday will come. Tonight I have offered the first in what I hope will be a series of mutual moves toward peace.
I pray that it will not be rejected by the leaders of North Vietnam. I pray that they will accept it as a means by which the sacrifices of their own people may be ended. And I ask your help and your support, my fellow citizens, for this effort to reach across the battlefield toward an early peace.’
The second announcement, as the President talked about national unity, therefore came as no surprise to the two men sat next to each other on the sofa.
‘With America's sons in the fields far away, with America's future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world's hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office--the Presidency of your country.
Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President. But let men everywhere know, however, that a strong, a confident, and a vigilant America stands ready tonight to seek an honourable peace--and stands ready tonight to defend an honoured cause--whatever the price, whatever the burden, whatever the sacrifice that duty may require.
Thank you for listening.
God bless all of you.’
‘Well,’ Jet said. ‘The rumours were true then despite him winning the New Hampshire Primary. D’you think that they will get peace any time soon?’
‘In Vietnam, I doubt it. It’s been an almighty cock up from start to finish!’ He saw Jet’s face. ‘I’m sorry about your brother and all those other young men who have died out there, but I don’t think South Vietnam will ever be strong enough to resist the Vietcong. It all depends on whether we’ve the guts to cut our losses but can you imagine the USA being prepared to admit defeat, I can’t!’
‘No, I know you’re right. We’d better get sorted and get into work. I’ll go home first and see you in the office later.’
As Canton closed the door and crossed the room to watch Jet from the window he realised that all talk of love had marriage had been forgotten. He took out the photograph of their wedding from the book inside the drawer next to the window. It all seemed so impossible and so far away.
Chapter notes: This chapter is a bit historical as it involves the assassination of Martin Luther King and Jet’s reaction to its consequences. There is use of a word that people should find offensive but I have used in in context and it reflects the time this story is written in.
Sorry it’s been a while yet again. Life and other stories have interfered but I will continue to post if somewhat sporadically.
When Jet walked into his office Canton knew that something bad had happened. ‘What is it?’ he asked. ‘You look terrible.’
‘He’s dead; the Reverend King’s been assassinated in Memphis. He was shot in the neck. They haven’t got who did it yet. I’ve just driven through the crowds gathered on 14th and U. There’s going to be trouble out there I can smell it. Carmichael is reported to be stirring things up and the mayor has contacted the White House to ask for extra help.’
Canton turned on the live TV feed. The story had hit the news and there were already cameras showing unrest in various cities. ‘It looks like there’s going to be trouble in lots of places. This is totally against what he would want. It’s hardly pacifism is it and some people will use this as an excuse to rob and loot. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the National Guard called in.’
Another officer put his head around the door. ‘Leave is cancelled. There’s a meeting in the main room in 10 minutes.’
Agent Brown stood in front of the 50 agents gathered together. ‘There is already trouble in the city after the death of the Reverend King. All leave is cancelled and the President has asked for security details to be doubled around the perimeter.’ He reeled off a list of names for those officers that had specialist gun training. It seemed that snipers were being positioned on the roof just in case.
By the next day things had got worse. Canton and Jet had managed a couple of hours shut eye between them, sleeping with their heads on the desk. There were reports of hundreds of injuries and even some deaths and the crowds now 20,000 strong were heading towards the White House. The helicopter was on standby to evacuate the President, who as expected had brought in federal troops. Marines now guarded the Capitol Building and troops from the 3rd Infantry surrounded the White House. It was very tense inside the West Wing.
‘Why do they have to do this?’ Jet shouted at no one in particular. ‘How is this going to help the cause? It makes us look like criminals not equals in this society. Some will say that this just shows that black people don’t deserve rights. I know people are angry but….’ He slammed his hand down on the table.
Canton checked the door and then put his arms around the other man. ‘Come on, it’ll be okay. They’re beginning to retreat and we know that there are likely to be changes soon. There’s wrong on both sides you know that. They’ll always be prejudice in the US. People always want someone to hate; Jews, Blacks, queers, any excuse. People just need to make sure that King didn’t die in vain.’ He kissed Jet quickly and poured them both a coffee.
The crisis lasted until the 8th and by then 12 people had died and over a 1000 had been injured. Areas of the city had been almost destroyed. Luckily both men lived across town from where the riots were. Jet’s job allowed him a better wage to live in a better neighbourhood despite being black. There’d been riots in Baltimore, Louisville, Chicago and Kansas as well. On the day of King’s funeral Jet and Canton were with the President at Camp David for more talks on Vietnam. The Vice President went to the funeral as there were fears of more protests if the President attended. They’d had no time for each other over the last week and Canton noticed that Jet seemed a bit stand offish and he didn’t know why. Finally, a couple of days later they had some time alone and Jet had been persuaded to come round to Canton’s to watch the game.
‘Okay, are you going to tell me what’s wrong?’ Canton asked. ‘I feel like I’m walking on eggshells around you. You’re a fraction away from losing your temper all the time and you pull away if I go to touch you. What gives?’
Jet shrugged and threw some peanuts into his mouth and continued to watch the game. Canton stood in front of the TV screen, hands dug deep into his pockets, determined to find out what was going on in the other man’s mind.
‘I can’t see through you,’ Jet growled.
‘No, but I can see through you,’ Canton replied. ‘Speak to me or I turn this off!’
‘It doesn’t matter, right. We both know that we work with some bigoted bastards. I just have to learn to live with it. It’s not the first time I’ve been called a lousy nigger and it won’t be the last.’
‘What! Who was it? Oh don’t tell me I can guess and he’s not worth getting het up about is he? We both know that he’s a moron and that he only got on the force because he has relatives in high places. What did he say?’ Canton sat next to Jet on the sofa.
‘He was going on about how he was glad that the Reverend was dead, that the riots showed that we weren’t really Americans, and wouldn’t it be good if they could send all back to Africa. The worst thing was that he knew I was there but I couldn’t say anything. Shit Canton, black men have worked in the services for years now but sometimes it’s as if nothing has changed. And here I am sleeping with a white man when I’ve a lovely fiancée. I feel like I’m betraying my race as well as her. Can you imagine the comments? I’m not sure whether they’d be more upset that you were white or a man!’
Canton took Jet’s face in his hands and kissed him until the other man responded. ‘I know what some people would think of me,’ he said. ‘And you’re right, the fact that you’re black might shock some people more than the fact that you’re a man, though I doubt it would be many. The combination would …. well, I don’t know …. probably cause riots and certainly get our heads kicked in. I hope that things will change; they are already. They’re going to pass the next Civil Rights Act tomorrow. Johnson at least has achieved what was promised. Now there will be housing rights as well. We can only hope that one day I’ll be able to do this in public and that no one will look twice or shout abuse.’ He kissed him again. This time Jet did respond and reached to undo the buttons on Canton’s shirt. Frustrated he tore them off instead and pushed Canton onto his back. He nipped at Canton’s chest leaving what would become a trail of bruises and then dealt with his lover’s belt and pants much more quickly, taking Canton’s erection into his mouth and sucking, while rubbing the bottom of the shaft. Canton breathed hard and let Jet do what he needed to do. This wasn’t going to be pretty but it was good and he intended to just go with it. Minutes later Canton felt fingers begin to push inside him. He gasped as Jet was none to gentle. ‘Drawer,’ he said, his arm flailing trying to reach the side table. Jet stopped then abruptly pulled away and stood up. His expression was agonized; he mumbled an apology and began to pull up his pants. Canton, naked except for his socks, sat up and reached for the other man but he was pushed away.
‘Jet, it’s alright,’ he said calmly.
‘No, it’s not. I shouldn’t have, not like that. I nearly fucked you without preparing you properly. I’d have hurt you and you wouldn’t have been able to stop me.’
‘Sit down please. I feel a bit stupid here with no clothes on. If I’d have asked you to stop you would have and you may be bigger than me but I know some moves. I wanted you as much as you wanted me.’
Jet sank down next to him. ‘You do look a bit out of place,’ he said. ‘Oh God, I don’t know what happened then. It was like I wanted to mark you out as mine.’
‘I am yours.’ He wanted to add that he wasn’t the one with the fiancée but this wasn’t the time for that discussion again. ‘Come here and kiss me, and then perhaps we can go to bed and continue what we started. I know that wasn’t really you because you’ve even missed the end of the game and your team won!’ He took Jet’s hand and then pulled him up from the sofa.
‘Look, we’ve got some days owing to us after all this and Velma’s visiting home. Let’s make the most of our time together and I’ll take you to somewhere I’ve found where we can be ourselves. We can take Clare along as well as I’m sure she’ll love this place.’ Canton couldn’t really imagine Jet at Glitzy’s but he knew it would be an interesting experience for all of them as long as they were careful.
How he persuaded Jet to go with him and Clare to Glitzy’s he wasn’t quite sure, but they were on their way in Clare’s new car. They’d waited until it was getting dark so it was about 9 when she parked the car a couple of streets away.
After what had nearly happened, Jet had been a bit quiet and circumspect around Canton. There were no stolen kisses in the office or the john when no-one was looking. They’d managed a few, somewhat brief, occasions at Canton’s apartment but Jet was constantly worried that someone would catch on that he was visiting by himself and put two and two together. It was Clare who’d swung this visit. By going along it would look more like a group of friends out to explore the darker side of the city, rather than two gay men visiting a gay haunt. Jet still looked in every direction when he got out of the car and pulled his coat around him, even though it was a warm evening. Canton felt no such compulsion and walked with his hands in his pants, his sweater draped casually around his shoulders.
‘You really do look stunning, Clare,’ he said taking her by the hand. ‘You have the legs for that dress. I have to say that if I was the sort of man who liked women in that way, I’d want to do bad things to you right now, young lady.’
‘If you were that sort of man, I might let you,’ she said, pulling away from him to catch up with Jet.
‘You’re doing this for him aren’t you,’ she said. ‘And you’re hating every minute of it. You must really love him.’ She turned and smiled at Canton who was still a few paces behind them. Jet shrugged his shoulders.
‘I don’t know why it matters to him but I said I’d go once,’ Jet explained; there was no way that he was going to talk to Clare about his feelings for Canton, whatever they might be. ‘He’s been here before. I was afraid he’d come on his own and do something rash. He’s been in an odd mood lately.’
Canton caught up just as they turned the corner and both men checked who was around before they entered the bar. All eyes turned as they did and he could feel Jet’s hackles rise. ‘Down boy, remember you’re a stranger here and they have a lot to lose.’ Canton strode confidently to the bar. ‘Two beers and a dry Martini for the lady please, and whatever Dolores wants when she’s finished singing.’
‘You know her?’ Jet asked, turning to look around the room for the first time.
‘She was in here before and was kind to a newcomer,’ Canton explained.
‘Does he always dress that way? It looks like he may have been beaten up recently, looking at those bruises. Not even that much make up is covering them. Why would he do that, risk a beating every time? I don’t get it.’
Clare took him by the hand. ‘Jet, he’s trying to be himself. Look around you. Everyone in here has something to hide and they can, if they chose to, but in here they don’t have to. They can dance with whoever they chose. I think it’s rather wonderful. Look at those two college guys over there in their suits just holding each other. Out there they’d get beaten to a pulp for just looking at each other wrongly. Dolores has obviously chosen not to hide what she is. Maybe for her it’s like being black and is something she simply cannot hide. You can’t hide that from anyone can you? But you can hide the fact that you like men.’
‘Clare, keep your voice down will you?’ he hissed.
‘But don’t you want that, Jet? I know Canton does, don’t you?’
He looked at her and then looked at the same sex couples dancing or swaying to the song that Dolores was singing. ‘She’s right, Jet. I told you I want more than hiding in dark corners. I want to be with you, live with you. I just want to be ordinary like everyone else. Just be who I am. I shouldn’t just be able to do that here. We shouldn’t be criminals merely because we want to love each other.’
Jet drank his beer down almost in one go. ‘I want to be like you, Canton but sometimes I just don’t get you. You don’t feel any shame do you? You like the way you are and don’t want to be different. I don’t understand why he needs to wear a dress in public. Sure, I can see how one might dress up for fun, but that’s not for fun is it?’
Canton shook his head and looked at Clare. He’d been wrong to do this and he knew it. Instead of making Jet feel more comfortable, he was retreating further back in the closet. Dolores finished her song and took her place on the stool at the bar. The barman handed her the drink Canton had bought and she nodded. ‘Thanks, Eddie, nice to see you again. I see you’ve brought some friends with you tonight to our little home from home. Do introduce me.’
‘I’m Clare, and this is Mike,’ Clare got in before Canton could speak. ‘I enjoyed your song. Will you be singing again?’ she asked.
‘Oh I can always be persuaded. As I believe I told Eddie before, all I require is the right lubrication. That’s a lovely dress you’re wearing, dear child. I wish I had your legs. Young women today have so much freedom. I hope you take advantage of your choices, Clare.’ The room was quiet now and everyone had sat down, except for the small group playing pool at the back of the room. Jet had glanced over towards them. Dolores followed his line of sight.
‘Yes, even queers can play pool,’ she said, seemingly catching his thoughts.
‘Don’t mind him,’ Canton said. ‘This is all a bit new to him. Have you had any bother here since I was in last? I see you’re sporting a few bruises.’
‘Ah yes, a side effect of the outfit I’m afraid. The local youth decided to punish me for my dress sense and the police walked away. I suppose that’s an improvement from them joining in. I was lucky that it wasn’t Captain Reynolds little queer bashing group. They’ve visited us a few times over the last few months. Christmas was especially busy.’ The barman made a snorting sound.
‘Mickey’s uncle owns the bar and the local squad decided that they wanted him to pay a little more over Christmas. They used their usual subtle methods of persuasion and threatened to wreck the bar.’ As Dolores explained Mickey took a call.
‘Shit, tonight, you’re sure they’re on their way. Not an official visit you think, just bored. Okay, thanks, I owe you.’
Canton looked over. He could hear the urgency in the young man’s voice. ‘Get out,’ he said to Jet. As he spoke the red light was flashed at the bar. Couples moved apart to mix up the sexes. Drag queens opened bags and pulled on pants and shirts pushing their dresses back into the bags and wiping faces – all except Dolores.
‘What about you?’ Jet said.
‘I’m staying to make sure that they behave. Don’t worry I’ll be fine. I’m with my girlfriend and I work for the President. Now, get out through the back.’
‘Here have my keys,’ Clare said. Canton wanted Jet to kiss him as he left but there was no chance of that. He watched as his lover fled out of the back minutes before the police came in at the front, nightsticks in hand. There were just four of them, obviously looking for trouble, desperately wanting someone to step out of line, but there was nothing, except Dolores. They pushed at people as they passed. Canton could hear them hissing, ‘queer, faggot, pansy’ as they approached the bar.
Dolores calmly lit the cigarette at the end of her holder and took a long drag as they came towards her.
‘Well, what do we have here then?’ one of them asked hitting his nightstick menacingly into one hand. ‘I think you need to come with us,’ he continued. One of the other officers went to grab Dolores, who offered no resistance. Canton stepped forward.
‘I don’t think you want to do that, do you, officer? I’ve written down all of your numbers and I would guess that this isn’t an official shake down. I doubt even Captain Reynolds has approved of this.’ The third officer nudged the man who’d spoken and whispered something.
‘Could you show us some identification, Sir,’ he asked smiling. Clare got there before him. ‘Look officer, I work for the President.’ She pulled out her White House ID. ‘I’m here with my boyfriend just having a quiet drink. No one is doing anything illegal, as far as I can tell. I don’t want to have to complain to anyone about vigilante police attacking law abiding members of the public now do I?’ Clare held her ground and held Canton back as well. ‘I would suggest that you just leave quietly.’
The officer looked at Dolores. ‘This isn’t over. Faggots like you shouldn’t be allowed to parade your kind of deviancy among decent folk.’ He turned around. ‘That goes for the rest of you as well. We’re watching this place.’ The four officers left pushing over unoccupied chairs as they went. There was a collective sigh as the door closed behind them.
‘You were going to tell them who you were, weren’t you,’ she said to Canton. ‘You could have lost your job.’ By now people were talking again and some had come up to Clare and thanked her.
‘Drinks are on my uncle,’ the barman said. ‘You’ve saved him a fortune in furniture and Dolores from a beating.’ Clare took the Martini and drank it down. She wasn’t as calm as she showed. Canton took her hand. ‘Let’s sit down for a bit. We’d better wait for those bastards to leave the area just in case. I hope Jet got away. It looked like it. I shouldn’t have brought him here. This isn’t him is it?’
‘No Canton, I don’t think it is. I also don’t think that it ever will be. What are you going to do?’
‘I don’t know. I should let him be normal and marry Velma, but that’s not who he is either. There will be other men, he won’t be able to help it, but I don’t want there to be other men. I just want there to be me. Sometimes I fucking hate this world and don’t believe that things will get better.’
They sat for 30 minutes more and listened to Dolores sing, ‘The Man who got Away.’ Canton guessed she was singing about Jet. Perhaps he should let him go. Perhaps it was time to go, although he’d only been there a few months. Bloody Jack Harkness and his photograph; he couldn’t work out how the hell it could possibly come true.
Chapter notes: This was not the chapter I intended to write. I was feeling a bit fed up and took it out on Canton. This is what my head told my fingers to write. Canton gets more than one invitation.
Canton felt Jet slipping away after the night at Glitzy’s, and there was nothing he could do about it. He’d always known that Jet had another life, a life that he could never be part of, a life that gave Jet the respectability and normality he craved. Canton looked at the photograph of their wedding. He could swear that the image was fading. Perhaps time could be rewritten and what had happened could change. Maybe he’d never be with Jet as he wanted after all. He’d meant it when he’d talked about wanting to marry like anyone else could. He couldn’t understand why it was wrong just because some people took a 2000 year old book literally, except for the bits they chose to ignore. . Sometimes he just wanted to throw all caution to the wind and kiss Jet in the middle of a meeting. And then he wondered if Jet could sense his intentions as he seldom stood with him in the morning briefing these days.
He picked his post out of the box in the hallway. It was just the usual bills and rubbish except for a pure white envelope edged with silver. His heart stopped. He opened it carefully and there it was, an invitation to the wedding of Jethro Peterson and Velma Sarah DuVal. It was going to take place on 14th February, 1969 in Athens, at the First Baptist Church.
At first he didn’t know what to think. He stared at it hoping that the names would change. He felt his fist clench around the card. That Jet could announce it like this hurt more than he could ever have imagined it would. He wanted to phone him and shout at him but he couldn’t do that, could he? He couldn’t just turn up at Jet’s apartment in case Velma was there, or in case he was seen. He walked down the sidewalk to the nearest phone and called the one person he could talk to.
‘Clare, its Canton. I need to see you.’ He couldn’t keep the tears out of his voice.
‘I know,’ she said. ‘I got an invitation too. I think I’m supposed to be your guest. I’ll be round there as soon as I can.’
He avoided work. Unable to face seeing Jet, he called in sick. He asked to be put on the detail protecting the First Lady which meant he saw a lot more of Clare than his what? He didn’t even have a name for Jet. A week or so later the man himself turned up on his doorstep. Canton opened the door and then tried to close it, but Jet was stronger and pushed through. Canton turned on his heel and strode back into the kitchen. He found a beer in the fridge, opened it and began to gulp it down.
‘It’s a bit early for that isn’t it,’ Jet said. Canton felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise at the sound of that voice, so smooth, so low, almost the growl that Jet used in bed as he whispered in Canton’s ear all the things that he wanted to do to him.
‘Yes, it is,’ he replied, implying that this is what you’ve driven me to. ‘How about that. Man finds that his lover is getting married and takes to drink. Who’d have thought it?’
‘Is that what you’ve been doing, drinking? I was worried when you were off sick.’ He moved towards Canton who took a pace backwards. Jet stopped.
‘You knew that I was going to get married, Canton. I never said anything different. I love Velma.’
‘Yeah.’ Canton’s eyes shifted back and forth as they did when he was in sarcastic mode. The hand not holding the beer, opened a drawer, and took out the invitation. He wanted to throw it in Jet’s face but instead he put it on the table and pushed it towards the other man.
‘You can consider that my RSVP and my answer is no, I won’t be attending your wedding to the delightful Velma. I won’t watch you make a mistake that you’ll live to regret. You’re gay, Jet. You like men, or has that suddenly changed and I was just a phase you had to go through?’ Canton struggled to keep his emotions under control. He couldn’t look at the other man. His eyes darted everywhere trying to find a way out of this corner of the kitchen but he’d have to go past Jet and the other man was moving towards him once more.
‘I’m sorry. I know I’ve hurt you. I do care for you, Canton.’
‘My, that’s big of you. Well, you’ve said your piece and had your answer so I’d appreciate it if you left my home. Velma must be waiting for you. You’ll have been to church this morning won’t you, to lie to your God again. I know Velma likes to make you pot roast after church, so run along like a good little boy and play happy families and leave me to my beer.’
‘I don’t know what to say,’ Jet said. ‘How am I going to explain this to Velma? She wanted me to ask you and Clare to dinner. She thinks that you make a lovely couple.’
‘Just go. We can be civil at work but don’t expect anything else from me.’
‘Can’t I even touch you to say goodbye,’ he asked quietly.
Canton nearly gave in. His whole body desperately wanted to be wrapped in those strong arms, to hear the steady beat of Jet’s heart as he lay his head on his chest.
‘No, I don’t think so. You’ve given up the right to expect anything from me. You need to do as you did at Glitzy’s and just keep running away. Perhaps you can even manage to run from yourself.’
‘I’m sorry,’ Jet mumbled as he turned and walked out of the kitchen. Canton heard the door to the apartment close and crumpled down onto the floor. He’d been wrong; bloody Jack Harkness had been wrong. There would be no happy ending for him and Jet, or for anyone else like him.
May turned into June. The weather got warmer but the blood in Canton’s veins froze solid. He was cold to everything and everyone. He went through the motions and just did his job. Clare tried to take him out of himself. They went out a few times; she really was good company, better than him he assumed. On the 4th she found him in his office listening to reports about Kennedy’s campaign for the Democratic nomination.
‘It looks like he’s going to win California,’ he said as she came into the room. ‘If another Kennedy gets into the White House we’ll probably have a lot more work to do than we’ve had with Johnson, if the rumours about him and Jack are true.’
‘I think perhaps we’d better not speculate,’ she said looking around. ‘I came to ask if you wanted to come to the Jazz Club tonight. Lorelei is back in town and singing there.’ Canton raised an eyebrow. He had no idea what was going on between her and the singer. He knew that they wrote to each other.
‘Sure, I’ll come,’ he said with the first real enthusiasm he’d felt for some weeks.
They got to the club at 9 that evening. The night was warm and the club dark. There was a smell of tobacco intermingled with alcohol and sweat in the air. Canton went to the bar. ‘Whisky Sour and a dry Martini please, Rick isn’t it?’
‘Yeah, good to see you again. Clare said she was going to bring you. She and Lorelei get on well.’ He made the drinks and handed them to Canton. ‘I have a break around 11, perhaps I could join you.’
Canton wondered if Clare had mentioned that he’d split with his ….. well whatever the hell Jet had been. Was he ready to get involved with someone else? Rick seemed a nice enough bloke and well it would be nice to have a good looking man in his bed and Rick was undoubtedly that. He had those brown puppy eyes that were hard to refuse.
‘Did you speak to Rick,’ Clare asked when he arrived back at the table. He stood and smirked at her.
‘Oh, little Miss Innocent! You’re failing to look as if butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth by the way. I thought you’d be paying Lorelei a visit before she goes on,’ he added, hoping to embarrass her. No chance of that.
‘No, I’ll see her after. I’m staying with her tonight,’ she admitted somewhat sheepishly. ‘We were hoping that Rick might get a better offer.’
‘Oh so that’s it. So you and she……..’
‘Are very good friends who just want a chance to talk to each other without her brother being there,’ she interrupted. As she did the lights came up on the stage and Lorelei entered the stage looking like a flapper from the 1920s; her silver dress dripped with fringe. She sat on the high stool and began to sing. She really did have a powerful voice that left the audience spellbound. Canton turned around and smiled at Rick at the bar.
It was after one in the morning when they got back to Canton’s apartment. They hissed at each other to be quiet and made more noise doing so. Canton was a little worse for wear, unlike Rick who’d been working so had only had a beer at the end of his shift. On the other side of the door Canton pushed Rick against it and began to pull his shirt out of his pants. Rick kissed Canton hard, bit on his lip and pushed his tongue into the other man’s mouth. The kiss was a battle ground, tongues duelling for supremacy. Canton ran his hands up Rick’s back. He was so thin that the agent could feel every vertebrate. The barman’s hands had found their way to Canton’s belt and were making every effort to undo it and get into his pants. Their breathing was laboured but somehow Canton managed to find his voice.
‘Not here,’ he said. ‘The bedroom’s through there.’ Rick nodded and followed him. Canton found himself pushed down on the bed. Rick made short work of removing his shoes and socks and then his pants and briefs. He fell to his knees and took in the sight of Canton’s erection surrounded by the short dark hairs.
‘Gorgeous,’ he muttered as he ran his tongue from balls to tip. ‘And uncut as well! I’m going to enjoy this.’ Canton found himself engulfed in a keen and experienced mouth that was warm and welcoming. He lay back and groaned as that tongue licked along the bottom of his shaft. Rick’s head bobbed up and down. He seemed to be able to take it all without gagging, which was impressive. Canton assumed that he’d had some practice. He could hear noises that made him even harder, slurps and moans. He wanted to fuck that stunning mouth and pull the other man down onto him with every thrust. He pushed his fingers into Rick’s luxuriant dark hair. Those dark eyes looked up at him giving him notice that he could do whatever he wanted. Rick would take it all and let his mouth be a hole for Canton to take advantage of. He pushed that head down revelling in watching his cock disappear and reappear. Rick grabbed Canton’s balls and began to squeeze a little; his finger pushed briefly to join the cock and then ran back from balls to ass, probing gently at his entrance. Canton was too far gone to care as Rick pushed a digit into his ass and he emptied himself into his mouth until the other man could take no more and come dripped out of the sides as he sucked Canton dry. Before he could collect himself the older man was turned over onto his stomach. He felt Rick lie on top of him. The weight felt good and the heat even better.
‘I want to fuck you, Canton Delaware. Do you have anything?’
‘In the drawer,’ Canton gasped. He laid waiting as Rick slicked up his fingers and pushed them into his willing hole. Canton knew he wanted this. He wanted to feel someone inside him. He needed to feel someone inside him and if he couldn’t have Jet then Rick would do. He wanted to forget everything and lose himself to being fucked by this young man. He loved the burn as Rick stretched him open. Cock replaced fingers as Canton realised that he had no idea how big Rick was; he was going to feel before he saw. And there it was that glorious feeling of being full and having someone moving inside you. He didn’t want delicacy or care, he wanted to be taken.
‘More,’ he growled. ‘Fuck me!’ He felt Rick on top of him his hot breath on his back and neck. He raised his ass to meet every thrust and ground his own cock into the bed. He wasn’t sure if he’d be able to come again but he wanted to try. He could hear Rick getting closer and closer. He wanted to feel the other man’s come fill his ass, warm and wet leaking out afterwards and still be feeling it the day after, to know that he’d been well and truly fucked. Suddenly, it was all over, with one last thrust, as the younger man fell on top of him totally spent. When he rolled off Canton pulled at his own erection and managed to squeeze out another climax. Both men lay on their backs next to each other, breathing heavily.
‘Need to sleep,’ Canton said. ‘Stay if you want.’ He didn’t really care. Rick murmured something and crawled into bed behind him. It felt nice to have someone curled at his back. Jet had never stayed and he certainly hadn’t spooned against him and put his arm around to pull him tighter.
He woke the next morning to hear singing coming from the bathroom. He was stuck to the sheet and had to peel it off. Memories of the night before flooded his head and feelings of disloyalty tried to push themselves in. He refused to let them. Rick came out of the bathroom totally naked and unembarrassed. What had been inside him during the night looked impressive in the morning light and somewhat out of proportion to its owner, who was rather slight of frame. He was so different to Jet.
‘Morning,’ Canton said. ‘Umm, I’ve got to be in work in an hour. I can give you breakfast.’
‘Coffee’s enough,’ Rick replied. ‘I’ll get off then. It was good, yeah?’ he asked hesitantly.
‘Yeah, it was.’ Canton went into the kitchen and put the radio on. As he listened he realised what the announcer was saying and dropped the kettle. It crashed onto the floor and Rick rushed in.
‘Are you alright,’ he asked.
‘He’s dead,’ he replied simply. ‘Bobby Kennedy’s been assassinated after winning California. I need to get to work now. See yourself out.’ He didn’t wait for a reply, just grabbed his jacket and walked out of the door.
Canton stared across the smoky room pondering how things had come to this. They weren’t even speaking beyond what was necessary. They were like tigers not crossing each other’s territories, just skirting around the edges, occasionally growling at each other. Canton caught glimpses of Jet’s face, filled with hurt and confusion, but his resolve stayed in place. Surely he must understand why Canton was so angry, or was he really that clueless about how Canton felt about him, about how Canton couldn’t just be friends, as if all that they’d shared together was meaningless compared to what he had with Velma. He couldn’t go out with Jet and not want to touch him. His body ached to be held, his lips could feel the ghosts of kisses they’d shared and his cock still responded to any memory his treasonous brain supplied.
He slept with Rick; he slept with Rick more than once. On the face of it he enjoyed the experience. He assumed that Rick did too. Their sex was straightforward and the younger man was good looking, if a little thin, but beyond that he felt nothing. He was scratching an itch but it wasn’t enough to remove all thoughts of Jet; he wasn’t sure that anyone could, ever. Rick rarely stayed the night and when he left, quietly closing the door behind him, Canton would lie on his bed and stare at the lights and shadows that the passing traffic made on the ceiling.
‘He couldn’t see a future for you two,’ Clare said. ‘And face it Canton, he’s right.’ They were sat in the club drinking Martinis. ‘What you and Jet do together is against the law. You’ve got to realise that. I’m sure that he didn’t mean to hurt you. He’s just doing what his family expect him to do.’
‘It might not always be against the law,’ Canton countered. He had to admit that he was a little drunk. ‘You sleep with Lorelei, and don’t deny it, but girls can be all girly and walk arm in arm in public; I can’t even touch him; all because nearly 2000 years ago someone included that passage in a book for all the bigots to hide behind. How come you don’t get stoned for growing different crops, or working on the Sabbath, or eating shellfish? Jet eats muscles.’ He groaned slightly, remembering the juice dripping out of the corners of the other man’s mouth. He’d wiped his lover’s face with a finger and sucked it off slowly, hoping to effect Jet so much that he would tear his clothes off as soon as they were through the door. Instead, Jet had looked around panic stricken, even though no one had noticed. The frost had descended and Canton had gone home alone.
‘Strange that he and so many others have no problems with those bits of the Bible but good old Leviticus is dragged out to stop men loving each other, and Jet hates himself because his God says that he should be put to death. His so called loving God can’t forgive him for spilling his seed into another man and wasting it, not producing more children to bring into this bloody awful world. Make love not war is such a fucking joke!’ By now he was getting rather loud and Rick looked over from the bar, concern etched across his face.
‘I love him, Clare. All I want to do is be with him. I want to eat with him, hold his hand and just sit together to watch a game. I want to lie in his arms at night and feel happy. People just turn it into what we do in bed. But I can’t do that can I? Perhaps we should get married, Clare. That’s what’s expected of us, isn’t it. What d’you think?’
Clare took his hand. ‘I think you need to go home Canton, and sleep this off. We have a big night tomorrow and you’re on duty. There’ll be lots of important people at that dinner. The President has organised this occasion to thank all his supporters. Come on, let’s get you outside and into a cab.’
The next day dawned warm and bright. Canton experimentally opened one eye and then closed it. He tried the other but the effect was the same. He wondered how long he could manage without opening them. Could he find his way to the bathroom? Could he manage a shower and shave? Could he put his clothes on? When he finally managed to open both eyes at the same time he realised that he was still fully dressed and lying on top of his bed, not in it. He stripped, and crawled into the shower. Ten minutes later he almost felt human again. He wasn’t due in work until after lunch so he did some chores around the apartment; he even vacuumed. He wrote a letter to his parents and listened to the radio. He packed his dress suit for the dinner that night. On formal occasions they dressed properly so that they wouldn’t stand out, which of course they usually did anyway. The President wanted the evening to be a success and a reward for all those who had donated to the Democratic cause since JFK’s election. The assassination of Bobby Kennedy had sent shock waves through the party. Now it looked like the nomination would go to Johnson’s vice-President, Hubert Humphrey, known to everyone as the ‘happy warrior’, but that wouldn’t be certain until August. It was going to be a big occasion with hundreds of guests. Clare had spent a lot of time planning with the First Lady, and Canton, who could be as star struck as anyone, was looking forward to being in the same room as several well-known film stars.
He took his place at the side of the room behind where the President and First Lady would be sitting. Every guest had been checked, triple checked and then escorted to their chairs. The dinner had been swiftly served, all five courses, and Canton’s stomach groaned knowing that it wouldn’t get anything for some time. After the dinner they’d auctioned off various prizes and made a fortune for charity. Canton noticed one man in particular, giving generously, in the group from the table to the left of him. The man was small and looked foreign. Although he tried to hide it, there was the hint of an accent in his voice, possibly Italian. ‘Well,’ Canton thought. ‘He wouldn’t be the only Italian to support candidates for the White House.’ The man looked to be around 60 years old; he had a trim figure and a full head of hair, flecked with grey. Canton guessed that he’d have been good looking in his youth. When he saw him face on he realised that there was a red patch in the man’s eye like it was blood shot. He sat with his wife, who was dressed conservatively, but her jewellery was obviously expensive, as well as being tasteful.
After the speeches, the President had spoken well Canton thought, there was music and dancing. Every so often Canton would see Clare and smile as she was whisked around the floor by various men. Occasionally he allowed himself to look across the room to where Jet stood with Agent Brown. He wondered if Jet was missing him.
It was well after midnight when the evening came to an end and the guests began to drift back to the entrance. Canton stood by the door where valets or chauffeurs were bringing cars to the front. He noticed the man and his wife waiting for their car. The man dropped his wallet and Canton stepped forward to pick it up. He couldn’t help but notice the photograph inside and couldn’t believe what he saw. It was him; it was Jack Harkness! What was this man doing with a photo of Jack Harkness in his wallet? He continued to stare at it, not noticing the man at his side.
‘Thank you, Agent, if I could have my wallet,’ the older man said. He saw Canton looking at the man in the greatcoat with the beautiful smile.
‘He is very handsome, isn’t he?’ he said quietly.
‘Sorry Sir, it’s just that I’ve met this man,’ Canton explained. The man’s body stiffened and his whole attitude changed. ‘You have!’ he exclaimed. ‘When?’ There was a strong sense of urgency in his voice.
‘Angelo, we have to go; the car is here,’ his wife said impatiently.
‘Look, my name is Angelo Colasanto and this man is Captain Jack Harkness. He currently lives in Britain, in a place called Cardiff. I need to know what you know about him. This is my card. I’m staying here in Washington at the Four Seasons for a few days on business. We need to talk.’
‘Darling, we’re causing a queue,’ his wife insisted.
‘Call me, Agent ……’
‘Delaware, Canton Everett Delaware.’
‘Call me, Agent Delaware; it’s important.’
Canton finished his duty around four that morning. Everything had gone without a hitch. He fell into his bed later and slept soundly. The next day he called the hotel. He had to know why this Italian millionaire had a photograph of the man who’d given him the picture of himself with Jet.
‘My wife is going to be out shopping this afternoon,’ Colasanto said. ‘Get here for 1.30 Agent Delaware, we have much to discuss.
The hotel room was something else. This Angelo Colasanto obviously had money, plenty of money.
‘I ordered coffee and sandwiches. I don’t know if you’ve eaten; or they have something stronger if you want,’ he said as he gestured Canton to sit in the beautifully upholstered seat opposite him.
‘Coffee’s fine,’ Canton replied, somewhat tersely. Colasanto poured one for both of them.
‘Now, to business,’ he said. ‘Captain Jack Harkness, and how you know of him. I must admit, Agent Delaware that I am more than a little intrigued to say the least.’ Canton swallowed the coffee. It was good stuff, much better than he was used to.
‘I could ask you the same thing, Mr Colasanto. Most people keep family photographs in their wallets not those of agents from mysterious organisations such as Torchwood.’ Colasanto smiled and nodded.
‘Ah, the enchanting isle of Torchwood, as he called it. He never was one for the truth. I first met him in the 1920’s. I was a fresh faced 24 year old, straight off the boat from Italy when I met this handsome man at Ellis Island and stole his visa.’
Canton did a few calculations. ‘But that was over 40 years ago. The man I met couldn’t have been more than 40 years old himself, and he looked exactly like the man in the photograph. I met him in New York a few years back. I was assigned to watch him, and find out what he was doing here, but he approached me and told me that he’d been sent to see me. He’d received a letter from someone called the Doctor, telling him to give me a message.’
‘Ah the mysterious Doctor; Jack mentioned him. He said that he travelled with a companion. I think that Jack had once been that companion. He certainly had strong feelings for this man, loved him even.’
‘I still don’t get it. How could the man you met and the man I met be the same man?’
‘What exactly did Jack tell you? May I call you Canton?’
‘Yes, Canton is fine. He told me that I would meet this man called the Doctor in 1969 and that he would be with three other people. He told me to help him to save the world and that someday I would be married. I didn’t really understand but Jack is very persuasive. He also gave me this.’
Canton took out the photograph of his marriage to Jet. ‘I met Jet when I came to Washington. Jack implied we would be married.’ Angelo raised an eye brow.
‘Did you and he?’ He saw Canton almost blush at the memory. ‘No, I shouldn’t ask that of you. I still get attacks of how you call it, the green eyed monster. There is something you should know about Jack Harkness.’ He took out photographs. ‘These are photographs from every decade since the 30s. They are all photographs of the same man.’ Canton looked and then looked at Angelo.
‘But he looks exactly the same in every photograph. That’s impossible!’
‘Yes, for most people but Jack Harkness is one of a kind.’
‘He said that to me but I thought he was just boasting about his sexual prowess. What does it mean? You know more about him than me.’
‘What I’m about to tell you will seem unbelievable but every word is true. Jack had a wrist strap.’
‘Yes, I remember,’ Canton said.
‘He used it to make me a false visa. I don’t really know how or why. I guess he fancied me and he knew that I fancied him. Yes Canton, I may be married but I’ve only ever really loved one person in my life and that person is Jack Harkness. My wife married me knowing this. I have given her a good life, and children, but my heart has always belonged to him. Over the years what he told me back in the 1920’s has allowed me to become a very rich man and I have kept an eye on him. Wealth has its privileges and I have people keeping tabs on him and reporting back. He still works for Torchwood. Do you know what they do?’
‘I’ve no idea. I still don’t get how he looks the same.’
‘Oh that’s simple. Captain Jack Harkness is immortal. You can kill him but he doesn’t stay dead. I first found this out when he was shot in front of me as we were escaping after killing some alien life form.’ He cocked his head and smiled at the look of incredulity written large across Canton’s face. ‘Yes, you did hear correctly. I was arrested and spent a year in jail. When I came out he was waiting at the gate. I didn’t understand. He said I’d been wrong but I knew what I’d seen. You have to understand that I was a religious man in those days, a good Catholic. I hoped then, and I hope the same now, that God understands. But then I thought he was the devil and I killed him to protect my immortal soul but he didn’t stay dead. They took him into the butchers, hung him on a hook and killed him over and over again, draining his blood. I couldn’t stop them. Things went too far. They shot him and stabbed him and beat him with chains, and I did nothing. Finally, they left him and I managed to get him out of there. I wanted to go away with him, but he wouldn’t let me. I’d betrayed him you see and he didn’t forgive easily. For Jack falling in love is difficult. Here I am, an old man, and he’s still young and beautiful. How could he watch someone he loved get old? So he takes his pleasures where he can, and believe me there are many who offer themselves?’
‘Including me,’ Canton thought. ‘I have to say that this sounds like some science fiction story. You still haven’t explained how he knows what will happen in the future.’
‘Jack said some strange things when we were together which led me to think that he’s travelled in time with this Doctor. I know it sounds incredible but it is the only explanation I have.’
‘So you’re saying that this photograph could happen in the future.’
‘I believe so, but I also believe that we make our own futures. Listening to Jack, as I said, made me a fortune. If you want this man you need to do whatever you can to get him. Don’t be like me and let the love of your life just go.’
‘He’s getting married,’ Canton said quietly. ‘I know he loves me but he can’t take the risk so like you he’s getting married; taking the easy route, the accepted route.’
‘He is not like you I guess, Agent Delaware. I suspect that you would be willing to put your whole life on the line for what you believe in. I truly hope that your dreams come true. I hope that one day men will be able to marry each other and live without fear. I hope I will live to see that.’
‘Have you never thought of contacting Jack again?’ Canton asked.
‘You’ve no idea how often I’ve been tempted but not now; I’m too old now. I have my family, my children and grandchildren and a fortune to spend on my research. Hopefully, next year we’ll really start our exploration of the stars and who knows what we’ll find out there, or who will begin to notice us.’
‘I just can’t get my head around all that,’ Canton said. ‘Travelling through space seems amazing enough but time travel. Do you honestly think that such a thing is possible?’
‘Jack certainly knew about the future and everything he told me has so far come true. My only explanation is that he must have travelled in time with this Doctor. Jack told me he was a Time Lord and had this box he travelled in.’ For a moment Angelo got lost in his thoughts as he stared at the window.
‘You loved him, didn’t you?’ Canton said quietly.
‘Oh yes, and I still do. I guess I always will. He made me feel special and I let him down so badly. I hope one day that he’ll find someone who’ll mean enough to him to matter. You and I, Canton were born too early. And now I must ask you to leave. I don’t think that we’re likely to meet again. I suspect that there will be a change in the White House soon. Watch out for Tricky Dicky. I would suggest that you consider re-joining the FBI for real and get out of the West Wing. It might give you some breathing space and allow your friend to realise what he’s giving up, but I doubt you’ll take my advice. I’ve had a lifetime of regret, Canton Everett Delaware the third. I truly hope that for you things will be different. And if you ever meet Jack again, don’t tell him about me. I hope I have a little piece of his heart, from a time when I was young and handsome. That’s how I want him to remember me as I remember him. He is the most amazing and beautiful man I’ve ever met.’
Canton mused about Colasanto’s suggestion for a few days. Did he really want to go back to the FBI? Would they have him even if he did? Did he want to stay in Washington in case Jet changed his mind, or did he want to get as far away as possible? He wondered if Anchorage was as cold as it looked. He wasn’t going back to New York and he didn’t want to go home. Perhaps he needed a holiday. He had plenty of time owing to him, and enough savings to go somewhere completely new.
‘Why don’t you go to Europe?’ Clare said. ‘At least you’d be legal there and you could indulge yourself a bit getting over Jet.’
‘Yeah, but I’m not sure that I really want a lot of meaningless sex.’ He paused for a moment and looked at Clare. They both collapsed laughing. ‘Shit, did I really just say that? I suppose it would be interesting to spend a few weeks there and I’ve never been to Europe. Usually all I see of places is hotels and meeting rooms. We never get time to sight see.’ He thought that maybe he could go and see Jack Harkness in Cardiff. It was an interesting coincidence that the mysterious Captain should live in the same place that Canton’s great grandfather had come from. Perhaps he could try and find any family connections still in Canton, which he knew was part of Cardiff. He could also go to London and Scotland. It might be interesting.
‘D’you fancy going with me?’ he said. ‘I have my passport so don’t need to sort that out. I’ll speak to Brown about time off and the other thing we talked about.’
‘Look, Canton, I don’t know if I can go for that long. You’ll want to be there at least three weeks and I haven’t got that much holiday. You’d be better off on your own anyway. Then you can decide if you really want to leave here. It’ll give you some time to think. I’ll miss you though.’
Canton went to see Agent Brown a few days later. He explained that he wanted to take time off and that he was thinking about transferring somewhere else. He noticed that Brown didn’t seem surprised and wondered if his split from Jet had been noticed.
A week later he had tickets to London and hotel bookings for several places around Britain. He planned to pick up a rental at Heathrow and take himself to lots of different destinations.It would be a chance to experience some real history. All he had to do was remember to drive on the left instead of the right. He found that he was quite excited about it all.
The day before he was on his way to the President’s personal quarters, for yet another boring stint stood outside doors with Enoch, when he bumped, unexpectedly, into Jet. You could have cut the atmosphere with a knife as Jet looked around then reached out to touch his arm. Canton pulled his back immediately.
‘I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking,’ Jet said. ‘I didn’t mean anything by it.’ Canton rolled his eyes.
‘Alright, I did mean something. Damn Canton, I miss you. I miss talking to you as well as anything else. Can’t we be just friends?’
‘You know we can’t,’ Canton replied. ‘You made your choice and it wasn’t me. You decided to be a good little boy and play safe planning happy families with Velma.’
‘What else was I supposed to do? Move in with you and play happy families! So you were going to wear the dress and be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen were you? Grow up, Canton! All we can hope for is a few snatched hours here and there when we can be together.’ He put his hands on Canton’s arms and pulled him through a door. They found themselves in the closet the cleaners used to store equipment. Canton could smell the pheromones both of them were giving off. He wanted nothing more than to sink his teeth into Jet’s neck and shoulder, like some needy vampire after a fix.
‘Kiss me,’ he heard Jet hiss, so he did. Their lips didn’t simply touch, they clashed together. Open mouthed, each of their tongues hunted for the other, desperately trying to reach in as far as they could. Canton felt Jet’s hand on his zip. He knew he was hard, ready, his head was shouting no but not loud enough to shout down his body, which was screaming yes, please, yes, touch me, please. By this stage Jet had his cock in his hand, having pulled it free from his pants.
‘Feels so good,’ he moaned into Jet’s neck. And it did. Every nerve and fibre of his being pushed himself into Jet’s hand. In the darkness all he could hear was their breathing and the sound of moaning, his moaning.
‘Touch me please,’ Jet whispered into his ear. ‘Need you. Missed you so much.’ Canton’s hand moved as if he had no control over it. He needed to feel the other man. He wanted to fall to his knees and worship him the best way he knew how. God, Jet was hard and leaking. He made a fist and then ran his thumb over the head, spreading the seeping liquid down with each stroke. Now Jet moaned too. Canton put a finger to his lips just in case anyone was walking past. As both men continued to stroke up and down, up and down, Canton’s knees felt that they were going to collapse under him. He leaned against the door to hold himself up. He heard Jet’s breathing change and he knew he was ready to come. He concentrated hard and willed his cock to do the same. Within seconds both men were spilling hot thick liquid over each other’s hands. Heads fell onto shoulders as both struggled to breathe. The intensity took Canton’s breath away. How could he give this man up? Could he live with just these few snatched moments of pleasure when the pleasure was so incredibly good? He wasn’t betraying anyone after all was he? If Jet could live with what he was doing, why couldn’t he? Finally, he lifted his head and found himself caught once again in a kiss. He allowed himself to fall into it as Jet’s arms surrounded him. It felt so right but there was that niggle in a lonely corner of his brain. That small but loud voice saying that this was wrong. He ignored it. He needed time to think.
‘I’m going away,’ he said.
‘What? Where? How long?’ Jet said.
‘To Europe, just for a few weeks. I need to think, Jet and I can’t do that where you are.’
‘But we’re good, Canton. You know we are. I know you want me as much as I want you.’ He grabbed a towel from the shelf and cleaned them both up. Canton waited. He waited for the words he wanted to hear. The only words that would have made him pause, made him cancel his holiday, made him risk everything for the man in front of him, but they didn’t come. He thought of the photograph and wondered if they’d ever come. So now he couldn’t say them either. He couldn’t go out on a limb. He couldn’t simply say, ‘I love you and I’ll always love you.’ Instead he said, ‘I’m leaving tomorrow, Jet. He opened the door, checked the corridor and walked out without looking back.
Canton goes to Britain.
Canton felt excited as they taxied on the runway at Heathrow airport. He was going to spend a week in London and then go off to Cardiff and Scotland, stopping at Liverpool on the way, and the Lakes, and a few other places. He had three weeks during which he hoped to see the mysterious Captain Jack. First, he had to find his way to his hotel. It turned out to be alright, nothing special, but acceptable and it did have a small bathroom as well however, it didn’t look like the sort of place that you could bring someone back to. He unpacked and decided that he needed a drink but where to go? In the end he just went out of the hotel and turned left.
He went into the first pub he found. It was dark and smoky and everyone looked his way as he walked to the bar. He ordered a beer and asked if there was anywhere near where he could get something to eat.
‘Yank, eh,’ was the answer he received as the beer was pulled. Canton tried not to roll his eyes.
‘Yeah, thought I’d visit the old country. My family came from over here last century. So what should I do now I’m here then?’ He drank the beer which was warm and flat but tasted alright.
‘You here on your own or with the family?’ the barman asked.
‘Just me,’ he replied leaning on the bar.
‘Plenty of things to do if you’re into history; there’s the Tower or Hampton Court if you fancy a boat down the river. There’s loads of museums. Then there’s the shows in the West End.’
‘What about clubs? London’s the centre of the music scene isn’t it? I’m planning on visiting Liverpool to see where the Beatles came from as well, while I’m here.’
‘Oh there’s lots of clubs.’ He turned away to serve someone else. Returning he leant forward. ‘It depends what you want. You could always visit Soho, lots of interesting places there!’ The man stood beside him chuckled.
‘Yeah, plenty of interesting clubs there but they’re expensive if you want to be entertained, if you know what I mean. Better off along the Docks or behind King’s Cross, if you’re not fussy. And you need to watch out for the queers. Lots of them around Soho as well! Mind you, they get raided regularly unless they pay off the coppers.’
Canton realised that this was just the same as it was back home. Police on the take, seemed that it happened everywhere. He didn’t want to make anything too obvious and he guessed it would be no easier here, where homosexual acts in private were no longer illegal, than it was in the good old US of A.
‘I think I’ll just have a wander around this afternoon,’ he said. In the end he walked for what seemed like miles. He got something to eat and went to the cinema. The popcorn definitely wasn’t as good.
A couple of days later, after spending some time visiting the tourist spots, he took the plunge and visited Soho. He wandered around amazed at the number of sex shops. There were small coffee bars and private clubs. He watched as grills were pulled back and people let in, if they were known. In the end he found a small restaurant and had a decent steak and fries for supper. He knew that Ronnie Scott’s was a well known jazz club and decided that he would try there. He settled into a booth seat and drank his martini. The house band weren’t bad. Jazz wasn’t completely his scene but hanging around with Clare had obviously rubbed off on him. Truth was that he was a bit lonely after a few days. He wished that he’d persuaded her to come with him. She would have loved it here.
Gradually the place began to fill up and he was joined in the booth by two other men. ‘Hope you don’t mind man, but there’s no other room.’ He smiled and said, ‘help yourself.’
‘Now, that’s an American accent. Where you from?’ he was asked.
‘Washington,’ he replied. ‘Just over here on vacation to see a bit of the country. It’s a bit daunting though trying to find places to go. I’d heard of this place as a friend of mine is heavily into jazz back home.’
‘This place is the best. Did you know that Hendrix played here, so it’s not just jazz. Man, that was a night to remember. My name’s Steve and this is Phil,’ he said nodding to the man sat the other side.
They talked about the music and about living in London. Canton noticed the odd touch of hand on arm and the way the two men looked at each other.
‘We’ve a flat above a shop just around the corner,’ Steve explained. ‘Phil works in one of the clothes shop below, on Carnaby Street.’ ‘That would explain the blue satin shirt with a cravat,’ Canton thought. He wondered if Phil ever spoke for himself.
‘You should come to the shop,’ the other man finally said. His voice was soft, feminine and had a pronounced lisp. Canton realised that this was probably why he didn’t speak much in public. ‘We could improve upon your outfit. We’ve some great jackets that would suit you and give you a bit more colour. We had Mick Jagger in the other day. Now, he can wear anything; he’s so skinny. His body is perfect for today’s look. And Davy is coming in tomorrow. He is going to be big I can tell already. He just needs a look and androgyny is in.’
‘Not sure that would work for me,’ Canton said laughing. ‘I’m more of a suit and tie man personally. I did experiment with buying a yellow shirt recently but it wasn’t really me. I think I’m going to have to let flower power pass me by! You can wear that shirt; I know I couldn’t.’ Phil smiled while Steve scowled.
‘It’s alright,’ Canton said. ‘I’m not hitting on your boyfriend.’ Then they both stared at him.
‘We don’t want any trouble,’ Steve said.
‘You won’t get any from me. I guess the changes in the law haven’t changed things that much then. At least they’re not locking you up for what you do in private anymore! Where I come from they would.’
‘You!’ Phil said in surprise.
‘Me,’ Canton replied. ‘I try not to make it obvious.’
‘So you’ve come over here because you thought it would be easier,’ Steve said. ‘Got news for you; it isn’t. Phil keeps his head down since he got beaten up last year. A bunch jumped him. They got a knife and carved the word queer on his chest. They never caught anyone for it. The police didn’t even bother to investigate. He was just another queer.’
Canton swallowed his drink. ‘I guess I’ll keep my head down then. I’m off to Cardiff tomorrow anyway to catch up with an old friend, although I’ve no real idea where to find him. He works for an organisation called Torchwood.’
‘Torchwood,’ Steve said warily. ‘How d’you know about them? Just who are you really? You’re a cop aren’t you? I should have known. I though this place was safe from your sort trying to lure people into traps and then arresting them. Phil, come on.’
Canton reached out a hand to stop him moving. ‘I met someone from Torchwood a few years back. I’m told he works in Cardiff. I wanted to meet him again. And yes I work for the FBI back home so if they found out about me I’d get sacked on the spot. My name is Canton Delaware. This is my card and I really would like to know about Torchwood.’
‘Okay, not here,’ Steve said. ‘Let’s go back to our flat and we’ll talk.’
Twenty minutes later they were climbing the steps up to the flat. It was small but had everything someone could need. Canton sat on the small sofa and waited.
‘I used to work as an accountant for a London firm about three years ago, which had links with Torchwood. We worked with various government departments. There were rumours that Torchwood was involved with strange scientific stuff and we were only allowed to visit them once. There was some sort of crisis that day; we saw people running around like something major was going down. We were never allowed to visit them again; they brought their books to us after that and only the chief accountant was allowed to look at them. Later, there was a leak of information but I don’t know what. We were all interviewed and threatened with prison for treason. They took one bloke into custody and soon after I decided to leave. I work for myself now and go where people want me to. I deal with their tax problems. It also means that I’m not with the same people every day so I keep my private life more private. From what I remember there were books from Cardiff and Glasgow so I guess your friend could work there. There’s definitely something dodgy about them though, and if talking about them could be considered treason, I’d take care if I was you.’
‘I will, and I’m only looking for one man. He wore a World War II greatcoat and was very handsome.’
‘He was there,’ Steve said incredulously. ‘About six foot tall with dark hair and blue eyes, wearing the coat. He swept in while we were waiting demanding to see the boss. He was really angry and was talking about something to do with children and Scotland. As he was talking the alarm sounded and he was taken into a room and we were told to leave. I’m sure that he said the word aliens, so we thought it was some immigration crisis. Many people then were talking about how immigration would ruin the country; they still do. We were ushered out really quickly and told to say nothing because we’d signed the Official Secrets Act.’ He looked at Canton. ‘So, he was very handsome. Is that why you want to find him again?’
‘That would be a bonus,’ he replied, remembering Jack’s talented tongue. He also knew that there was definitely something mysterious about both Torchwood and Jack Harkness, but Canton needed answers. Above all else he wanted to know about this Doctor who had provided the photograph of him and Jet. He needed to know if there was any chance that it could all be a lie, and if it was, why would this Doctor lie to him in particular?’
Chapter notes: Canton finds Jack and the rating explains everything. The dynamics between them were interesting to write and this is pretty graphic for me.It would probably get an explicit warning so be aware of that.
Croeso i Gymru, the sign read at Cardiff Central railroad station. Sometimes he felt that he spoke a different language from the English, and now he really was in a place that did. He knew some Welsh words already, words his grandfather had used all the time. Anything that had gone wrong had led his grandfather to shout, ‘Duw, Duw’ and look to the heavens. As a boy he’d been called tup as well, when he did something stupid. He wondered how his name would be received, if he used it. The first occasion was at the small hotel when he signed his name.
‘Canton Delaware?’ the receptionist queried. ‘Did you know that there’s an area of Cardiff called Canton?’
‘Yes, and actually I’m named after it. My great grandfather emigrated to America and decided that he’d use the name of his birthplace for his first born son and I’m the third of that line. I was hoping to have a look around there sometime.’
‘Not much to see,’ she said. ‘So its pleasure you’re here for then.’
‘I hope so,’ he said, the corner of his mouth lifting to almost a smile when he thought his previous meeting with Jack Harkness. ‘I’m planning to catch up with an old friend who works here but I might visit some places as well. D’you have a map of the city?’
‘We’ve this. It gives you places to visit and has a basic map that’ll help you. We’re very cosmopolitan in Cardiff. As the weather’s good you could also go along the coast to Barry Island, to the funfair, though you’ve got Disneyland so the Pleasure Park would probably be a bit of a let-down.’
The next day he ventured out into the centre of Cardiff and decided to visit the castle. As he stood at the walls of the old keep he was struck once again at the antiquity of Britain. Nothing in the US was this old except the mountains. His great grandfather would have been able to stand here he supposed, although the building opposite might not have been built then. He asked a local how to get to Canton, found the bus stop and spent the next few hours wandering around the streets. Once again he caused heads to turn when he entered a small public house.
‘Beer please,’ he said at the bar.
‘That’s not a local accent,’ the barmaid replied in return.
‘American,’ he replied. ‘My family were from around here so I thought I’d come and have a look.’
‘Not much see round here,’ she said placing a pint glass in front of him. He took a sip and looked at it.
‘That’s Brains, that is. It’ll put hairs on your chest, if you haven’t got them already.’ She gave him a smile that even he could read. ‘Anywhere I can get something to eat,’ he asked.
‘I’ll make a sandwich if you want. Cheese alright?’
‘That would be great,’ he said. ‘I’ll just sit over there and read my paper.’ As he surveyed the paper he listened to the locals talking about some incident.
‘D’you know it never made the papers,’ one of the men said. ‘And it’s not the first time. Dai said that they’re in the sewers, these strange creatures. Ripped this bloke’s throat out I heard. The police said that Dai’d had too much to drink and was hallucinating but he swears it’s true. Said there was this bloke in a long coat who appeared out of nowhere. He looked like something out of World War II.’ Now Canton did listen carefully.
‘Sounds like an interesting story,’ he said to the barmaid as she put his sandwich on the table.
‘You don’t wanna listen to them, pissed as newts half the time, though I’ve heard about the bloke in the coat before. He’s well known in certain pubs, if you know what I mean. My cousin works in a local in Bute Town, near the docks, which caters for queers, you know, and this bloke is often in there she says. No one’s safe, if you know what I mean.’
‘Sounds eh ….. colourful,’ he said.
‘Oh it is around there. All sorts of folks live there, of every colour. My cousin’s going out with a coloured fellow, works on the docks, came over from the West Indies he did. Family wasn’t too pleased I’ll tell you.’
Canton knew where he’d be heading that night to see if Harkness was on the prowl yet again. In a pub he ordered a whisky. ‘I’m looking for Jack Harkness,’ he said to the barmaid in the Docker’s Arms. He figured it would be quicker to be up front and the substantial change from the £5 he gave her would hopefully sweeten her up. She pocketed the change. ‘Sometimes he comes in here but not always. Usually a bit later if he does. Why you looking for him then?’
‘I met him a while back and wanted to catch up again, but didn’t know where to find him exactly,’ he explained, hoping that he didn’t give too much away.
‘That’s Jack, once seen never forgotten, but he’s not one to visit the same person twice, if you know what I mean and you don’t look like his type.’ She looked up and grinned.
‘I thought anything that breathed was Jack’s type,’ Canton replied tersely.
‘You talking about me again, May?’ a familiar voice said. Canton turned around and was gratified at the look of shock that crossed the Captain’s face.
‘Well, this is a surprise. Canton Everett Delaware III as I live and breathe. You may be the last person I expected to find in a back street pub in Bute Town. My usual please, May.’ As he looked around the small bar Canton was aware that others were looking at them.
‘I’m over here on holiday, visiting my ancestral homeland, so I thought I’d look you up.’
‘How d’you know to find me in Cardiff? I don’t think I mentioned that when we met. Let’s sit down shall we? May, we’re going to use the snug. I’d appreciate a bit of privacy.’ Canton noticed him pass over more money. May was having a good night.
The movement gave Canton time to think. ‘The FBI kept records about Torchwood and mentioned a possible headquarters in Cardiff so I got lucky visiting Canton this morning. I heard that you might frequent bars in the docks!’ Jack smiled. ‘What can I say? I guess once seen never forgotten. We’re going to have to create something to stop that happening. Well, Canton, other than reacquainting yourself my body what else brings you here?’
‘This photograph,’ he snarled pushing it towards Jack. ‘I met him when I moved to Washington.’
‘Well, that’s good isn’t it, although I suppose it’s a bit tricky for you to be together in your job and in your country? It’s always been a bit backward about same sex relationships as I remember.’
‘Small problem; he’s getting married.’
‘Ah, well perhaps he’s not the right man, if he’s straight. It could just be someone who looks like him,’ Jack said.
‘No, he’s not straight, just scared. I don’t know how this is ever going to happen. I can’t see any time when men will be allowed to marry other men but you seemed certain that it would. Did this Doctor tell you? You said I’d meet him soon and that I should trust him, but how can I when he’s got this wrong? Tell me what you know about him. I need to know if Jet and I are ever going to have a chance.’
‘Look, I can’t tell you things you shouldn’t know, Canton. I know that you’ll meet him more than once. I have my problems with trusting him as well, believe me. He owes me an explanation for some things that happened to me. You’re not the only one who wants answers.’ He put his hand on Canton’s thigh and fixed his startling blue eyes on him. ‘We don’t have to stay here. Look, I’ve a house nearby we could go to and be private.’
‘You’re taking a lot for granted aren’t you?’
‘Am I?’ Jack retorted. ‘I think that we both know that you’re here for more than information.’
The house was dark and looked hardly lived in. Jack had side-lined his further attempts find out more about the Doctor as they walked. ‘Timelines,’ he’d said, or some such nonsense. They took the stairs, two at a time, reaching the bedroom quickly. All it contained was a bed, bedside table with drawers and an old fashioned travel trunk.
‘Bring many people back here then?’ Canton asked.
‘No, not many. I usually go to theirs or find a dark alley and fuck them against the wall,’ he growled. Canton’s already half hard cock jumped to attention. ‘Shit! why the hell did the thought of Harkness pushing him up against a wall and spreading him wide turn him on so much?' He fell down on the bed and smirked at the handsome Captain in the coat.
‘Well, come on then big boy, show me what you can do, or are you all talk?’ Jack grinned and moved towards him purposefully. Canton watched as he undid the buttons of his pants. He couldn’t help himself and licked his lips in anticipation, waiting to see what Jack would do. Frankly, if he pulled out his cock and wanted to fuck him then and there Canton would let him.
‘This what you want then?’ Jack asked removing himself from the confines of his pants. ‘I seem to remember that you liked it the last time I let you suck me off.’
‘What’s not to like,’ Canton said. He looked at the beautiful sight in front of him. He had to admit that Jack’s cock was beautiful. It was reasonably long and thick but not overly so in any dimension. The dark hair surrounding it made the shaft stand out even more. Jack stepped out of his shoes, socks and pants. His suspenders hung down over the shirt. He went to remove the coat.
‘No,’ Canton said. ‘Leave the coat; I like the coat.’ Jack grinned again and Canton guessed that it wasn’t the first time someone had said that to him. He took that glorious member in his hand and moved up and down, spreading the liquid seeping out from the tip. Each sweep revealed that almost purple top, now swollen with interest. He looked up at the dark haired man and licked the tip, swirling his tongue around.
‘God, you taste good. I’ve never tasted anything like you.’ He felt Jack’s hand on his head, weaving his fingers into his hair. Suddenly he felt his head being pulled forward. He didn’t fight, opened his mouth and took in as much of that beautiful cock as he could.
‘My you have a hungry mouth, Canton Everett Delaware the Third. Suck me. I want to come into that mouth and I want you to swallow every drop and then if you’re a very good boy I’ll let you fuck me, then I’ll fuck you so hard that you’ll miss me forever.’
Canton gulped and felt his cock stiffen further than he thought was possible. Jet had never talked dirty to him and he found that he liked it. He slurped his tongue around the shaft, feeling the veins running along underneath. Jack thrust into him but not more than he could manage. He reached out a hand and squeezed Jack’s balls hard enough for it to hurt and was gratified to hear Jack react. He continued to squeeze but more gently now, waiting to feel the familiar sensation when he was ready to come into Canton’s eager mouth. He was amazed how much he wanted that. He wanted to take everything Jack could give and more. He also wanted to feel how hard Jack had fucked him by the morning. Idly he wondered how many people the Torchwood agent had fucked in his life and now he was going to be one of them. God, his cock ached to join that company, no matter how wide and varied it was. He felt Jack’s balls tighten and prepared himself. Jack pumped hot liquid into him and Canton kept sucking, taking every drop, greedy for more. The taste was salty and sweet and so different to anything he’d ever experienced before. He was like a thirsty man in a desert and milked every drop out of the other man.
‘You taste incredible,’ he eventually managed to say as Jack’s cock lay soft among the dark hairs in front of him. ‘I’ve never tasted anything like that in my whole life and I’ve sucked a few cocks in my time.’
‘Am I allowed to get undressed now?’ Jack asked not wanting to explain his 51st century pheromones.
‘Help yourself,’ Canton said. ‘I’m feeling a little overdressed myself.’ He watched as a now naked Jack removed his own shoes and socks for him. Canton removed his shirt and then lifted his hips so that Jack could take off his pants. He leaned back on his elbows as nonchalantly as he could. They both raised their eyebrows when Canton’s cock sprang free of its confines and he wondered who would win any competition. Jack reached into the drawer by the bed and pulled out a jar then positioned himself astride Canton.
'Use this,’ he ordered. Canton smothered his fingers in the sticky contents of the jar. ‘Like a boy scout then, Jack, always prepared.’ He laughed at his own joke and pushed one finger up into the waiting hole. There was hardly any resistance so he immediately put in another and hooked it around trying to feel for that bundle of nerves. Jack lifted up and groaned when he found them, sinking back down to fuck himself on those digits.
‘More,’ he gasped. Canton pushed in a third and marvelled at how gorgeous Jack was when he moved up and down above him.
‘God, I want to fuck you, Harkness. Get on my cock.’ Jack looked down. ‘Think you’ve got what it takes to make me come again then Special Agent Delaware?’ Canton withdrew his fingers, slicked himself up and then watched as Jack positioned and then lowered himself down on Canton’s rigid shaft. Then he began to move and Canton thought that he’d died and gone to heaven. He couldn’t understand how Jack could be so tight and yet so accommodating. He looked like some sort of fallen angel and he moved liked ripples on a lake. Canton watched as the other man’s previously flaccid cock began to fill once more and slap against his stomach. Jack leant down and pinched Canton’s nipples in turn, causing him to instinctively thrust upwards. Then he kissed him, pushing his tongue into Canton’s mouth as hard as he was pushing into Jack’s arse. He knew that he wasn’t going to last much longer and he wanted Jack to come as well so he grabbed the now hardened cock and began to stroke.
‘That’s it Canton, fuck me and make me come again. I wonder how many times you’ve ever come in one night. I’ve got a few things here that I think you’d enjoy experiencing.’ He leant down and whispered into Canton’s ear. ‘I’m not sure that I’m enough for you, big boy. I’ve got something that’ll spread you so wide. I think I might tie you to the bed and play with you a bit. Would you like that, Canton? To be at my mercy, to have something pushed into the sweet hole of yours. My, I could fuck your mouth at the same time. Ever done that?’
Canton lost control and pumped into the other man, almost screaming his name as Jack shot white liquid over his stomach and fell forward so that Canton’s spent cock fell out of his arse.
‘My, you are a very special agent, aren’t you? I’m going to have so much fun playing with you.’
When Canton woke up the next day he could hardly move. His arse felt so used and all he could taste was Jack. The room reeked of sex. He reached out a hand but the bed was empty. Delicately he swung his legs over the edge of the bed. He saw the note and opened it.
‘Don’t try to find me, Canton. I can’t tell you what you want to know about the Doctor. Just trust him and as for this Jet, all I can say is that he must be mad. You were good; in fact you were very good. Enjoy the rest of your holiday.’
He didn’t attempt to find Harkness again. The rest of his holiday passed without incident. He travelled around the rest of the country occasionally hooking up with someone on the way. When he returned home he found a message Clare had left at his house.
‘Special Agent Brown wants to see you about your transfer. What gives, Canton? Call me!’
Croeso I Gymru = Welcome to Wales
Duw = God
Canton re-joins the FBI and gets a new partner. Their first case is a little too close to home.
‘So you’ve had enough of us then, Agent Delaware. Not exciting enough for you at the White House then?’ Agent Brown said, somewhat petulantly Canton thought. Or perhaps it was just the way he looked Canton up and down as if scanning him for some obvious change that might explain his sudden request to depart.
‘Not exactly, Sir. I just feel that I’d do more good helping with the work I used to do and now the President is leaving, and we’ll have someone new next year, I think my skills could be better utilized in another capacity. I was good at what I did Sir, and I think I’ll be able to help the Washington FBI.’ He clasped his hands behind his back fighting off the urge to dig them into his , or gesticulate to emphasise the desire he felt to get out of there and away from any possibility of meeting Jet.
‘We will be sorry to lose you of course, but I’m not stupid. I know that there’s more to this. I’d hoped that you’d come back from the Old World with a new sense of purpose, but I guess not. So you’re to report to Special Agent Collins at FBI headquarters tomorrow at 9 am. He’s expecting you and he knows your reputation. He says he has a case for you to start on straight away. You just need to clear your desk and we’re done.’ When Brown started to move his papers around Canton realised that he’d been dismissed. He turned on his heel and walked out of the door back to his office. Somehow he wasn’t surprised to find Jet waiting for him.
‘Jet, nice to see you again. How’s Velma? Wedding plans going well I assume.’ He moved past him and started to clear out his desk.
‘So it’s true you are going then.’
‘Looks that way. This appears to be me packing,’ Canton said, without looking up. He didn’t want to look at Jet. He didn’t want to have to explain yet again. ‘You won’t have to deal with seeing me again now. You can go off and live happily ever after.’
‘I don’t want us to end like this, Canton. I want us to be friends,’ Jet said.
Now Canton did look up and stare at Jet, his lover, or the man who was his lover, the man that one day he was supposed to marry. ‘Well, fuck you Jet Peterson, except I can’t do that can I unless I agree to be your guilty secret. Is that it? Is that what you want? You play happy families with Velma, have a few kids and screw me on the side to get your fix of ass.’ Now Canton did shove his hand in his pockets. ‘Sorry, you got the wrong man. I won’t have sex in closets with you. I want to come out of the closet. Things are going to change and I want to be involved in making them change.’
‘They’ll fire you if they find out you’re queer,’ Jet said. ‘They might even put you inside. Are you prepared to make that much of a stand?’
‘I don’t know Jet, but perhaps its time I found out. I’m going to work for the FBI office in the city and do what I do best, find the bad guys and lock them up. Perhaps, if I do that well enough, I’ll prove that I’m just like everyone else and that’s all I want to be in the end. Now, I’m leaving. Have a nice life, Jet. I truly hope that you’ll be happy. I love you so much but I guess in the end that’s not enough.’ Before Jet could speak Canton walked past him. He kept on walking until he left the building and for some time after that.
The next day he knocked the office marked Special Agent Collins dead on 9. He heard a deep voice shout, ‘Enter.’ The man sat behind the desk looked to be in his 50s; he was bald and wearing a badly fitting suit. The room was foggy with cigarette smoke and Canton fought not to cough.
‘Agent Delaware, Sir. I was told to report here this morning.’
‘Ah, Canton isn’t it? Interesting name. Now, not to waste any time. I’ve no idea why you wanted to re-join us but frankly I don’t care. Agent Brad Johnson is going to fill you in on this case; he drew the short straw and now so have you. We seem to have a spate of killings across a few states. All the victims have something in common but I’ll let him explain the juicy details to you. You’ll find Johnson at his desk in the main office, outta here and turn right.’ Canton stood for a moment unsure what to do.
‘That’s it. Off you go. Work to do.’
Canton made his way to the main office area. There were several men at desks scattered around the room. ‘Agent Johnson? Brad Johnson?’ he asked, looking around.
‘Over here,’ the man in the corner replied. He was dressed in the standard black suit, white shirt and tie. ‘You must be Canton Delaware.’ Canton took the seat at the opposite desk when Johnson told him to. The man wasn’t tall at about 5 foot 9 he reckoned and he was a bit heavy, but not overly so. Blond and blue eyed, Canton thought that he’d have been a perfect member of the Nazi SS. He hoped that his views were a bit more enlightened as he had to work with the man.
‘The boss said that you have a case pending and he wants me to work on it with you,’ Canton explained.
‘Yeah, we’ve had six deaths. The first was in Baltimore, then Harrisburg, Wilmington, Richmond and then DC. The killings have happened around 2-3 weeks apart. Yesterday they found another body in DC. All had their heads bashed in. The bodies were left where they were killed. They all had one more thing in common; at the time they were killed they were wearing women’s’ clothing. We’re guessing that our perp has a thing against drag queens. All of the victims were found near known haunts. We don’t know if they meet their killer inside or outside these establishments. The killer could have been pretending to be a john or it just could have been a quick blow job in the alley scenario. This is the victim from yesterday. His name was Albert Jackson, older guy than the others, and black.’ He handed Canton the file with the photographs of the scene and the victim. Canton’s eyes went wide with shock.
‘Yeah, bad isn’t it. This guy really has a problem. I don’t care myself. I’ve never thought that they do any harm if they keep to themselves. This one called himself Dolores. Seems he sang at this place called Glitzy’s. They found his body in an alleyway not far from the club. We’re going there later to interview folk if that’s alright with you. You won’t have a problem with that will you? Most of the guys didn’t want to have anything to do with the case and the other states are happy for us to take over the investigation but are prepared at least to work with us. These are the files for the other victims. Get yourself up to speed and then later we’ll get round there and interview any of the clientele that are willing to talk. I’m going to get a coffee. D’you want one?’
‘Yeah, please,’ Canton mumbled. ‘Black, no sugar.’ He looked at the photograph in front of him. His mind tried to cope with the images. She’d been wearing the blue dress he’d seen her in the last time he’d been to Glitzy’s, that night with Clare and Jet. He’d have to go. He wanted to solve this. He wanted to get Dolores’ killer. He’d phone ahead and warn Johnny that he was going to be there. He hoped that they would welcome one of their own dealing with the investigation. He spent the rest of the day reading though the information. Brad seemed genuinely concerned to solve the case. They had a sort of description of the killer but it was very vague.
‘No one wants to talk usually. I’ve been to the other places and talked to agents and read through the interviews with witnesses but as you can see there isn’t much there. Collins was happy for me to take this one as were the other areas but they don’t want to give much in the way of manpower so for now it’s you and me.
‘Drag queens don’t matter I guess,’ Canton said, not quite succeeding in keeping the bitterness out of his voice.
‘I don’t care what these people wear, or do with their cocks, or other peoples’ cocks. I don’t like people who kill. I want this guy nailed. He must go to these places. I’m trying to find out where the homosexual hang outs are in the local area and in the places nearby. We need to warn about this bloke and try to stop them going out. Most of the victims have been older men, rather than boys who sell themselves, but this guy Albert was the oldest. This suggests that our killer is younger. Perhaps they felt flattered by the attention. I don’t know.’
At six that night they set out to go to Glitzy’s. Both men dressed more casually, leaving their guns underneath loose jackets rather than suits. It wouldn’t help if they frightened the patrons still brave enough to venture out after what had happened to Dolores. Canton also had to hope that Johnny had warned any of the regulars to keep quiet about the fact that he’d been there before.
They pushed open the double doors. Inside there were only a few people and when they got up to leave Canton flashed his badge and they reluctantly sat back down. Johnny was wiping glasses behind the bar. Canton nodded towards him and was rewarded with a smile. Johnny wasn’t exactly handsome but everyone looked better when they smiled. Johnson moved forward and put out a hand towards the barman who took it. Canton supressed a laugh as Brad reacted to the surprisingly firm handshake. Gay equals limp, well not always it seemed.
‘My name’s Agent Johnson and this is Agent Delaware. We’re here about the murder that took place in the early hours of this morning. I believe you knew the victim, that he was a regular here.’
‘Dolores, yeah I knew her, we all did. She’d been coming here for more than five years. I’ve worked here all that time. She wouldn’t hurt a fly. I hope you get the bastard. I spoke to the local PD this morning but they showed a distinct lack of interest. I live over this place, in the apartment above. I heard the cars but didn’t hear anything beforehand.’
‘What time did Dolores leave last night,’ Canton asked.
‘She left at just after midnight, which is usual for her. She comes in most nights, sits at the bar and sings a bit. She loved a good torch song and it got her a few drinks a night.’
‘Did you see her talking to anyone different last night?’ Brad asked. Both Canton and Johnny noticed that Brad used she which pleased them both.
‘No, but we had a few new faces in, college boys I think, either checking out the local ‘freaks’ as they saw them or looking for somewhere they might feel safe to be themselves.’
‘Could you describe them?’
‘Not really, just young, blonde and cute. Other than that it was all regulars,’ Johnny explained.
‘We’ll need names,’ Brad said.
‘I only know first names and well people in here don’t swop addresses.’ Canton knew that Johnny was more likely to talk to him. ‘I’ll speak to Johnny,’ he said. ‘You interview the others. We need to get these people to trust us so go easy.’
Brad looked at him. ‘Hey, I thought I was in charge here.’ Canton smiled. ‘You are but I’ve done this sort of case before back in NY. I know how to get more out of these people. Don’t forget to warn them to stay in pairs.’ Canton watched as Brad moved to the table and took out his notebook before turning back to Johnny.
‘Can I get you and your partner a drink, Agent Delaware,’ he asked.
‘Lemonade would be good. It’s a warm night,’ Canton replied. ‘And thanks for keeping silent about me. I’m gonna need your help with this. I want to get this bloke for what he did to Dolores, and the five others. Was there really no one new?’ he asked.
‘No, not last night. We always get worried by new people, unless they’re as charming as you. Dolores was very taken with you. She liked the way you treated her like a lady. She said that you had lovely manners. I guess she hadn’t always been treated so well. She’d had a few to drink last night and was swaying a bit on her heels, but she only lived around the corner. She’d had some problems with the local hoodlums on and off, calling her names and once she had Chinese food thrown over her. She complained about the dry cleaning bill.’ Canton laughed. ‘That figures. She was certainly a class act. So these new faces over the last few weeks anyone stick out? Anyone spend time chatting to Dolores?’
Other than you?’ Johnny asked. ‘There was one guy dressed in a suit bought her a few drinks. He said he was in town for a business conference. I thought he was a bit creepy but that was a week or so ago. To tell you the truth we’ve had no one that worried me. We’re pretty quiet here. We pay our dues to the local PD and we usually get told if there’s going to be a raid.’
‘Who’s the real boss here, Johnny?’ Canton asked.
‘My uncle Tony. He runs a few things around here. I think he’d appreciate you leaving him out of this.’
‘Is he homosexual?’ Canton asked.
‘No, but my cousin was. He killed himself rather than come out. My uncle wanted somewhere safe for people like him so he opened this place.’ Canton noticed Johnny looking over to where Brad was questioning an older man.
‘Boyfriend?’ he asked.
‘Yeah, he likes to keep an eye on me when he can.’
‘That too, and he has kids. I told him not to be here tonight but he insisted. His wife knows about us but they’re Catholics so no divorce, at least until the kids are grown up.’
‘You? That black guy you were here with your man?’
‘Was, but not anymore,’ Canton said.
‘It must be difficult in your job,’ Johnny continued.
‘But at least you know that I’ll not allow this to be pushed under the carpet and ignored. Dolores deserves better than that. Any strangers in here make you worried, you give me a call, or if you get any information on who might be the killer. I don’t suppose you know any other ‘safe’ places in DC do you?’
‘Sure, there are a few; I’ll write you a list. You think maybe this guy will kill again?’
‘He’s killed six people so far. All of them were older, and all of them drag queens. All were killed in the same way and we need to warn people.’
‘Canton, you just about done,’ Brad shouted over.
‘Yeah, I’m done,’ he replied.
Back in the car the radio flickered, Brad answered. ‘Results of the autopsy,’ he said. ‘I know it’s late but you wanna go and collect them?’
‘Sure let’s do that. Somewhere out there this son of a bitch is planning his next kill and we’ve got nothing.’
Brad turned and grinned at him. ‘Nice to have you on board, Canton. Let’s go.’
Canton found Brad Johnson easy to work with. He was a good agent, thorough and organised, which Canton appreciated, and he obviously wanted to catch this killer and lock him up. Over the last couple of weeks he’d found out that Brad had a wife and two teenaged kids. He’d been in the FBI for fifteen years, joining from the local DCPD. However, despite his dedication, they’d made little progress on the case. Checking on the victims from out of state had revealed a pattern but little else. All the victims had been hit from behind; all of them were above 50 years of age and all of them were dressed in women’s clothing when they were killed near local gay bars. Two were black, including Dolores and the rest white. One had been married and the rest single. Reading that particular file Canton was glad he hadn’t been the one to have to break the news to the man’s wife and family. Whoever this murderer was, he obviously had ‘issues’ with men who dressed as women.
‘The first victim was from Baltimore, so perhaps we need to start there. It could be that our murderer had problems with someone in drag.’ Canton listened to Brad’s speculation and hoped this conversation wasn’t leading to some theory that some closeted transvestite was to blame.
‘What about some guy who made a mistake and chatted up someone in a bar and it turned out that he wasn’t the person he thought it was,’ Canton suggested.
‘Could be, so if we start with Baltimore and the places our victim frequented….. What was the vic’s name again?’
‘Frederick Schmidt, otherwise known as Marta. We need to check out if there’d been any trouble in the bar, even if it was a few weeks before. Looks like a visit is required. I’ll clear it with the boss and we can go tomorrow, if that’s okay with you.’
‘Fine by me. I just need to pack a bag,’ Canton said.
‘Look, why don’t you come round to ours tonight and meet the family? You won’t have to go through town tomorrow then, and Laurie’s been nagging me to invite you round. She’ll make us dinner and you can sleep in the den. She’s a great cook and its steak night tonight. It’ll do you good to get out. You don’t have any family around here do you?’
‘No, my family are all back east,’ Canton explained.
‘That’s a deal then. You get off and come round to mine when you’re ready.’
Back at his apartment Canton packed for a few days. It was hot and humid in DC and he knew that Baltimore would be just the same, so he packed cotton shirts and lightweight pants, rather than his suit. Going casual could sometimes get more results and if they were going in gay bars it would be better not to stick out like a sore thumb. Mind you, Brad was going to be noticed by anyone so inclined. Canton had to admit that he was a good looking guy, in that all American football player sort of way.
He took a cab across town to Brad’s address. The house was nice; it was symmetrical in design with a white clapperboard front and blue shutters at the windows. There was a lawn to front and back. The door was opened by a woman, brunette and petite, almost the exact physical opposite of Brad. She held out her hand. ‘You must be Canton, I’m Laurie. Come in Brad’s just sorting out the den for you. Would you like a beer? It’s really warm again isn’t it?’ Canton followed her into a big sunny room.
‘Take a seat,’ she said, gesturing to the sofa. She leant into a door and shouted down. ‘Brad, Canton’s here. D’you want another beer?’ A voice shouted, ‘yeah, love’ from downstairs. ‘I’ll be up now.’
From the kitchen Canton heard voices arguing. ‘I hate you,’ he heard a girl’s voice shout. ‘You’re going to buy me a new copy of that. You broke it. Mom, tell him. He’s got to get me a new record.’
‘It’s rubbish anyway, soppy girl rubbish. Do I have to, Mom? She left it out. It was an accident, I promise.’
‘Yep, you have to, Ricky. We’ll use your pocket money. Dawnie, I’ll pick it up at the Mall tomorrow or you could come with me.’
‘Thanks Mom,’ the girl said and emerged from the kitchen. She had the same colouring as her father. ‘Hi, you must be Dad’s new partner. I’m Dawnie.’ The boy joined her. ‘This is my idiot brother, Ricky.’ He scowled as only teenaged boys can do. He was small and dark like his mother and a couple of years younger than his sister. Brad appeared at the top of the basement stairs.
‘Go do something useful you two,’ he said. ‘Canton and I have things to discuss.’ Laurie brought them some beers.
‘We’re going to eat around six. Will you set up the BBQ, Brad? I’ll sort out everything else.’ She leant down and kissed him. It was so casual; every bone in Canton’s body cried out with jealousy because he couldn’t do the same. Not that he wanted to kiss Brad!
They discussed the case from Baltimore and looked over the evidence for a while before going outside. ‘You and Laurie been together for long?’ Canton asked.
‘Married right out of college, but we were in high school together. She was the prettiest girl in the year and still is. I consider myself a very lucky guy that she puts up with me.’
‘So you should,’ Laurie said. She’d emerged from the house carrying a tray piled high with dishes of salad and fries.
‘How d’you want your steak, Canton?’ Brad asked.
‘Medium is fine.’
‘Help yourself to salad and fries. There’s sauce as well,’ Laurie said. ‘So Canton, Brad tells me that you’re from the Boston area originally.’
‘I was born in New Hampshire but my parents moved when I was young. They're still there. I worked in New York for a few years and then transferred to Washington.’
‘You’re not married then.’ Brad stared at her.
‘No, I’ve never been lucky enough to find the person I can marry. I came close to finding the right person a couple of times but there were complications.’
‘We’ll have to introduce you to some people. It can get lonely by yourself in this big old world. So what’s your type then?’ Canton shifted uncomfortably and thrust his hands into his pockets. Brad came to his rescue. ‘Oh leave the poor man alone, Laurie.’
‘Okay, I’m just saying that a good looking man like you should have a wife to look after him. I’m worried that Brad won’t be able to cope for even a few days without me.’ She kissed him again. ‘I’m going to watch ‘I Dream of Jeanie’. I’ll leave you boys to it.’
The next day they set off bright and early. It was only just over an hour to Baltimore. The victim had been found in an alleyway near the riverside. The bar was tucked into one such alley trying to hide itself from general view. Canton guessed that people found it by word of mouth. It was mid-morning so unless someone lived on the premises it was probably going to be locked up. Banging on the door produced no answer.
Canton took out a map. ‘The alleyway’s over here.’ There was nothing to show that a murder had happened there. On one side of the narrow corridor was a loading warehouse for the docks and on the other was a lodging house.
‘Flop house for the local girls,’ Brad said. ‘It’s a place to bring the john back to. Perfect to see where the victim was found but according to the report no-one saw anything.’ As he spoke the door opened revealing a large, scantily dressed woman, who began to sweep slowly pretending not to see them. Sweat soon poured off her as the morning was once again a warm one and the air hung stale in the alleyway. When they approached she looked up.
‘You boys looking for something, or someone?’ she asked.
‘We were wondering when the bar opened,’ Canton said, staring the woman in the eye.
‘Oh right,’ she replied knowingly. ‘Marty’s opens at 12. You boys don’t look the type to be visiting there; you’re definitely not longshoremen.’ She looked at Canton. ‘Well, maybe you might want to visit of an evening, but not you,’ she said turning to Brad, ‘unless you’re figuring to check out the other side of the fence!’
‘Can’t always judge a book by its cover, ma’am,’ Brad said. ‘If I wanted a different type of entertainment that would be the place to go, would it?’
‘Best to come after dark if you want any action of that kind. The longshoremen drink there during the day.’
‘So how does that work?’ Canton asked. ‘Surely if it’s a queer bar the men wouldn’t visit.’
‘Notice any other bars around here? They come for a drink and that’s all. At night it gets more interesting clientele.’
‘Is it safe normally? We heard that there’d been a murder. I can’t afford to get caught here in my job, but a guy needs to let loose once in a while somewhere safe.’ She fixed him with a stare once more. ‘Shit, you’re cops aren’t you? You’re not the local PD though. I must be losing my radar!’
‘We’re FBI ma’am, out of Washington. We believe that there’s a serial killer on the loose. We’d like to catch him. He killed a man here, name of Frederick Schmidt.’
‘Poor Marta, never harmed anyone. Nice to know someone cares. The local boys couldn’t give a damn about the faggots. One less of them on the street as far as they’re concerned.’
‘This guy killed a friend of mine in Washington,’ Canton said angrily. He knew he was taking a chance but figured there had to be some reason Brad had taken the case. ‘I want the bastard. He’s killed six people so far, all drag queens.’
‘Look, my name’s Cindy. I didn’t see anything that night and that's the goddam truth, but I’ll ask the girls.’
‘We wondered if there’d been any trouble in the bar. You know, some idiots trying to stir things up, have a go at the queers.’ Brad had stepped forward.
‘I’ll speak to Pete who runs the bar. I have a feeling in my water that you guys are straight, if you’ll excuse the phrase. Come back around seven tonight and I’ll make sure you can get in.’
Canton put out his hand. ‘It’s been a pleasure, Cindy. She took it and smiled. ‘If you get an itch agent, we cater for all needs in here.’
‘Thanks ma’am, that’s very kind of you.’ They walked back to the car and drove to the motel. Brad said nothing but Canton noted that he didn’t book two rooms. Once inside they each sat on a bed. Brad pulled the top off a coke and drank it straight down then put the bottle to one side.
‘So, you wanna tell me about you being a queer, or what?’
Canton looked at him, unsure how to reply to his question. It was always tricky trying to figure out the right answer. What did Brad want to hear? Canton had a pretty good idea that Brad had taken the case for some reason, when no-one else wanted to touch it. He gathered himself and set his face to one of defiance, daring the other man to challenge him.
‘Yeah Brad, I’m a queer, if that’s how you want to label it. I sleep with men. I have sex with men. I’ve only ever had sex with men.’
‘Okay Canton, I get it, you’re not a pussy hound.’ He laughed. ‘I’d say all the more for me but Laurie would kill me.’
Canton visibly relaxed. ‘You seem remarkably alright with this news. What don’t I know? Most men would be protecting their asses not booking a double room. So what gives Brad? I’m not expecting that you sleep with men on the quiet, so why aren’t you worried about your virtue?’
‘Look, Canton.’ He shrugged his shoulders. ‘I know I’m hard to resist but …’
‘Well yeah, you are handsome,’ Canton interrupted. ‘And I know several men who’d love to make contact with the contents of your pants.’ He raised an eyebrow.
‘But not you,’ Brad continued.
‘No, not me, although if you’re offering……’ Now he was simply being mischievous. Brad put up his hands. ‘Hey, I’m offering nothing. Men have never floated my boat. I was captured and tamed at a young age.’ He stopped for a moment and swallowed. It looked to Canton as if he was trying to decide what to say.
‘I had a brother. He was the youngest of the four of us. Jake was always a bit different. We realised how different when me and Josh, my older brother, found him on his knees sucking off the captain of the football team. I think I was more surprised by who he was with, not him. Josh rushed out before I could stop him and blurted it out to my parents. They’re good people Canton, but church goers. Jake was only fifteen at the time. They thought they could help him, cure him, and he said that he wanted to be cured, that he didn’t want to like men. They sent him off to this place out of state. He came back changed. He’d always been fun, and up for any practical joke, but after this he began to date girls and work hard in school.’ He swallowed again. ‘They found him behind the garage the night of the senior prom. He was all dressed up in his tuxedo. He’d hung himself. They were too late to do anything; he was dead. He’d left a note under his pillow. It simply said that he was sorry for letting everyone down. He knew that he was going to hell because he couldn’t be what God wanted him to be. My parents blamed each other, and I blamed Josh. My other brother Ed just stayed in his room. My family fell apart. I was in my last year of college. Straight after I married Laurie and didn’t go home again.’ Brad wiped away his tears with his sleeve. ‘He was so young, Canton, and I didn’t want to believe that my little brother was going to burn in hell. A caring God couldn’t be so cruel. If he made everyone, he made Jake like men. So that’s why I took the case, for my brother and all the people like him, like you. I don’t care who you want to fuck. Hell, I don’t care if you want to fuck me. You are what you are Canton, and that’s all there is to it. The sooner people wake up to that, the sooner kids like my brother won’t end up swinging from a tree in shame.’
Canton didn’t know what to say so he simply said, ‘I’m sorry,’ and left it at that. They got take out and sat on their own bed watching TV for the rest of the afternoon.
The air felt stale when Canton looked outside later. He hated this aspect of living in this part of the US. At least New York was usually a bit cooler, and you could get to the coast. He wasn’t sure he’d ever get used to it and he was sweating again. He went back in and shook Brad, who’d dozed off.
‘I’m going to grab a shower,’ he said. Brad groaned a response. Five minutes after his shower Canton felt just as hot as he was before. He changed his shirt and waited for Brad to finish in the small bathroom. At least he now had an explanation for Brad’s attitude, and although it wasn’t for the best of reasons, it did make Canton’s life easier, and it would give him someone to talk to. Brad could quite easily have gone the other way and hated all homosexuals because it was homosexuality that had killed his brother. Canton suspected that this was the view of the rest of his family. His brother’s suicide had obviously split them; he didn’t speak to Josh his eldest brother, and his other brother, Ed had moved as far away as possible and was driving trucks from Washington state to Alaska. His parents still prayed every day that their son was not in hell, without any real expectation that he wasn’t. It made Canton feel so sad but it wasn’t going to change his view. He refused to compromise and sometime, someone needed to make a stand. He hoped that if he ever had to, he would be brave enough to face up to the truth. Things were obviously going to change, according to Jack Harkness, and it needed people brave enough to help make that change. He smiled to himself at his vision of him as a knight on a white charger smiting the bigots with his sword.
‘What you smiling about?’ Brad asked as he emerged from the bathroom dressed down to go to the bar.
‘Oh nothing,’ Canton replied. ‘I was just thinking about whether things will ever change.’
‘Hmm, that’s a bit deep for me.’ Brad stood with his arms out. ‘So do I pass muster?’ he asked. Canton got up and undid his tie slightly. He looked him up and down. The white shirt, pulled out over his pants, barely disguised the enormous chest and narrow hips. His tight ass would have every queen in the bar looking his way. He looked like everyone’s idea of Captain America. ‘Oh yeah, I think you’ll do but try not to punch anyone if they try to feel your ass.’
Brad turned around and looked at his back side in the mirror. ‘I’ve never really thought about my ass before in that way.’ He moved from side to side totally unconscious of the effect he could have. Canton smiled. It felt really good to be able to do so.
‘Come on, it’s getting on. Let’s grab some food and then head to the bar. Hopefully Cindy will have sorted out us getting in. We need to be subtle about it though and try to find out if they’ve had any trouble, especially with Marta.’
They parked the car a few blocks from the riverside area and walked the rest of the way. It was still hot and there was a smell off the river that was none to pleasant. Lights were on in the bar when they turned into the alleyway. Outside Canton paused. ‘Ready?’ he asked. ‘We’re going to be stared at.’
Brad breathed in. ‘Ready,’ he replied.
It was hot inside the bar. The lighting was subdued so that people could hide in corners. There were a few groups of people scattered around the room. Canton had expected the clientele to be largely male but there were some women as well. All eyes followed them to the bar.
‘Cindy sent us,’ Brad said to the barman, hoping that this would be enough.
‘I figured,’ he replied somewhat tersely. ‘Although, I don’t know what I can tell you. I spoke to the local PD at the time Marta was killed. It didn’t make any difference: they couldn’t care less about some drag queen. Why should I think that you’ll be any different?’ He continued cleaning glasses.
‘Do we even get a beer?’ Canton asked. ‘It’s a hot night and I’ve a dry throat.’ The barman pulled two beers and set them down on the bar.
‘We’re trying to find out if there was any trouble in the weeks before the murder. Our killer has struck elsewhere and his victims have always been older drag queens, including a friend of mine in Washington.’
‘Friend!’ the barman asked, incredulity and doubt writ large across his face. ‘Is that supposed to make me want to talk to you? Why should I believe that some dead drag queen was a friend of yours?’
‘No reason why you should,’ Canton said. ‘Dolores was the last victim of this killer. She was a danger to no-one but herself, but she had style and courage and wasn’t prepared to compromise. I want the bastard that killed her and the others. Just tell them to talk to us. We don’t care what they prefer to do with their cocks, or if they prefer dresses to pants.’
Sam the barman poured a couple of whiskies and then returned to talk to them. ‘We’ve had our fair share of trouble. The police shake the place down at least once a month. We pay to get warnings but there’s always the odd occasion that someone gets bored and fancies arresting a few homos. Other than that we’re far enough out of the way for people not to come here by accident.’ He stopped for a moment as if he was remembering something.
‘We did have one group of idiots who came in. There were five of them in suits on a stag night. I think that they were setting up one of them as he hit on Cynthia. She hasn’t been in since. The guy chatted her up. Cynthia thought that the guy knew and took him out back to the rest room. She gave him a blow job and he didn’t notice one of his so-called buddies sneaking into the stall next door. Anyway, it seems that the blow job wasn’t enough and he found that there was more to her than met the eye when he put his hand up her dress. His friend lent over the stall and took a photo. This bloke then pulled Cynthia out of the stall and began beating her up. His friends had to pull him off or he’d have killed her. Cyn wouldn’t let us tell the police and his friends got him out. He was still screaming that men like Cyn should be hung and that he’d see to people like her as they pulled him out of the door.’
Brad looked at Canton. ‘He actually said that he’d see to her and people like her?’ The barman nodded.
‘’D’you know anything about this guy,’ Canton asked.
‘It was a few months ago now. He was about six foot and dark haired. That’s all I remember about him. Three weeks later Marta was murdered.’
‘Anyone else in here who was there that night?’ Brad continued. Sam pointed to a group in one corner. ‘I think they were in. They might have heard more than I did.’ Canton and Brad took their beers to the corner. The three men sat there looked rather nervous but none of them moved.
‘Okay if we sit here,’ Canton asked.
‘It’s a free country, allegedly,’ the smallest of the men said. Canton thought he looked like one of those pug dogs – small but fierce. He noticed the red haired guy putting a hand on his arm. ‘Let’s hear what they’ve got to say first,’ he said. His accent revealed he hadn’t always been a local.
‘My name’s Delaware and this is Johnson. We’re here investigating the murder of Frederick Schmidt, otherwise known as Marta. There’ve been a few other murders following the same pattern in other cities. We think we’ve got a serial killer on our hands and we need all the help we can get. This guy has something against men who dress as women.’
‘Go figure,’ the smaller one replied. ‘That’d narrow your suspects down to a few million people!’
‘We know what we’re up against,’ Brad said. ‘But we want this guy caught. Sam told us that there was an incident a while back involving a drag queen called Cynthia. He said you were in that night. We need to know if you heard this bunch of guys say anything about where they were from. It could be that this guy is carrying out his threats to kill. We also need to talk to Cynthia.’
‘She’s not in Baltimore anymore,’ the third man said. ‘She called me to tell me that she was off to San Francisco. She said her kind might do better there. I’ve no idea where, other than that.’
‘Okay, these guys, did you hear them say anything that might be helpful?’
‘I know that they were salesmen. They were boasting to each other about how much they’d sold. I think one of them said something about power tools if that’s any help.’
‘That’ll be useful. Did you hear any names?’ Brad added.
‘Not really. One of them was called Pete but that’s all I heard. He was the one took the photo. Look, there’s a firm in the city that makes power tools: my Dad works for them. Walker and Brown, I suppose they could work there.’
Canton looked at Brad. ‘This could be the break we need. Can any of you remember what these guys looked like, especially the one that went into the rest room with Cynthia.’ They did their best to describe the men.
‘We need to check out this company tomorrow,’ Canton said. ‘It could be that this guy is carrying out his threat.’
‘We sure do, and maybe we can pin down who he might be and where he is. Salesmen move around so perhaps our guy is doing just that. He could be anywhere, and we need to stop him before he gets another opportunity to kill someone else.’
Chapter notes: This chapter is a little shorter than usual but the finishing point seemed to be right. Canton and Brad return to DC to face another incident. Has the killer struck again?
Walker and Brown turned out to be a large company on the edge of the city. They showed their badges at the gate and headed towards the main reception.
‘I wonder how many guys they have called Pete working here,’ Canton said. ‘This could get us nowhere.’
‘Or we could find our guy just like that,’ Brad countered. He strode up to the desk and held up his badge.
‘Mr Walker is waiting in his office to speak to you. Take the stairs over there to the right and then his office is opposite when you get to the top.’ The receptionist immediately took a call. Brad nodded towards the stairs. They took them two at a time, knocked the door and waited. It was opened by a woman wearing a dark grey shirt dress.
‘Detectives Johnson and Delaware,’ she said holding out her hand to both of them. My name is Sandy Mitchell, I’m Mr Walker’s secretary. He asked me to give you the information you require. He’s just had to go to the shop floor for little while. In the meantime I have coffee and biscuits and the list of names you asked for.’ She pointed towards a sofa and then poured them a cup each. Canton looked down the list. There were 24 names. It seemed that the company had branches all around the area and out of state. In the headquarters they made the tools but they had retail branches in lots of places. Some of the Peters listed worked there but others worked in Pennsylvania, Maine, and Virginia. The list just gave names and addresses but didn’t say exactly where they were based.
‘This is next to useless, Canton said. ‘There are too many of them and we’ve no idea if our guy was really in sales. I agree it’s more likely as they were in suits but you never know. Why don’t you go and flash that quarterback smile at Miss Mitchell and see if she’ll tell you if any of them work in the sales department?’
Brad got up and grinned at him. ‘Hmm, yeah.’ Canton took another sip of coffee. ‘This isn’t half bad.’ Brad came back a little while later.
‘Eight of these Peters work here on the shop floor. Another seven work in sales. The rest work in various retail outlets or demonstrate at conferences and things. I don’t know if this is going to get us anywhere. I’ve asked for their schedules to be sent to our office. We can plot their movements against where the murders happened. You never know we may strike lucky. If we can find someone who matches we may be able to work out where he is going to be next.’
‘I guess we’ll just have to leave it. You never know perhaps us being here might get back to our man and scare him off,’ Canton said.
‘If he gives up we may never find out who he is,’ Brad replied.
‘Well, that may be better than having more deaths. I’m just worried that our guy has got a taste for killing. Let’s head back to DC and hope the information they send helps.’
They got back mid-afternoon and reported their findings to the Captain. It had been a long couple of days and so both went back to their homes. Canton was woken some hours later by the phone ringing. He opened his eyes remembering that he was back in his apartment. He’d fallen asleep on the sofa. The room was dark and Canton was surprised by how long he’d been asleep. He got to the phone, picked it up and answered groggily. He was completely alert when the voice at the other end said. ‘Canton, there’s been another attack at Glitzy’s. The local PD called me. Seems the guy is still alive but he’s in a pretty bad way. They’ve taken him to George Washington. He’s unconscious. I’ll pick you up and we can head over there.’ Canton didn’t ask any questions about whether the guy had been in drag. He figured that he’d better look the part so changed into his regulation black suit. Brad must have made pretty quick time as he was there in less than forty minutes.
They parked the car. It took some time to find where the victim had been taken. The cop outside the room filled them in on some details after they’d flashed their badges.
‘Is he still unconscious,’ Canton asked.
‘Yeah, he got quite a good kicking. We found him covered in blood in the same alley as before. It’s hard to tell if he’d been hit over the head but there were boot prints on his clothes and bruises underneath. His face is a bit of a mess.’
‘How was he dressed when you found him?’ Brad asked.
‘Jeans, shirt and jacket. Nothing unusual.’ He looked at them look at each other. ‘Oh I get it. No, he wasn’t wearing a dress. Perhaps he’d changed after what had happened before and figured he’d be safe in normal clothes. All we know right now is that he’s black and in his thirties.’
‘No ID on him then?’ Canton asked.
‘No, nothing, which is a bit odd in itself. The only things he had in his pockets were money and car keys. We’re trying to see if his car was parked nearby. The guys are looking for witnesses but you know what it’s like. The queers give us nothing and the locals have never seen anything. You know the score. You reckon this is your queer killer again.’ Brad saw Canton bristle.
‘It’s possible,’ he said. There was a sudden flurry of activity and nurses went into the room. Canton craned his neck but couldn’t see anything. They took seats and waited. A little while later a doctor came out of the room.
‘He’s awake and able to talk a little bit. He gave us a name to contact. Said this guy was FBI so I thought you might know who he is. Guy has a weird name, Canton Delaware. Do you know him?’ Canton was though the door before another word was spoken. He looked down at the man in the bed. His face was battered, his head swathed in bandages, bruises covered his chest. He looked up at Canton with tears in his eyes as the agent looked down at the man he still loved.
‘Jet! What the hell.’ He didn’t know what to say.
‘Canton, what are you doing here. I only just told them.’ His voice was strained.
‘You have five minutes, Agent,’ the doctor said.
‘We were here anyway,’ Canton said. ‘We’re investigating a series of murders. We thought that you were another victim so we came over. What the hell were you doing there?’
‘Looking for you; looking for something. I don’t know. I was coming out of the place and they jumped me.’
‘Just a group of youths. They thought I was a faggot, called me names and pushed me around.’
‘Why didn’t you flash your badge?’ Canton asked.
‘I didn’t take it. I didn’t want any id going there in case. I wanted to talk to you but you changed your number. Clare said that you didn’t want to see me, that you ……’ He stopped; they weren’t alone in the room.
‘Enough now he needs to rest. Come back in the morning,’ the nurse said.
‘I’ll get Clare to contact Velma,’ Canton said.
‘No, no just tell her I was called away with work. I need to sort things,’ Jet pleaded.
‘Alright but I’ll be back tomorrow.’ Jet nodded. Canton turned and walked outside. He didn’t stop walking so Brad followed him until they got to the parking lot. He kicked the wheel of the car not knowing what else to do. He wanted to scream and shout at the world. It was so unfair. With the nurse there he hadn’t even been able to touch Jet. It had taken all of his control not to do so. Brad simply stood and watched until Canton finally stopped moving. When he looked up at the other man Brad noticed the tears in his eyes.
‘So, you going to let me know what’s going on? Is this another victim and does he know anything useful?’
‘No, I don’t think he’s one of ours. He said it was a gang of kids. His name’s Jet Peterson. He works at the White House. He’s the reason I left my old job Brad, because he’s the man I love.’
They sat in the car. Canton stared at the windscreen while his hand drummed on the steering wheel; Brad waited until he was ready to talk again.
'I met Jet on the job. We got to know each other and realised that we liked each other. He wasn't a stranger to having sex with men but he didn't want the life, always hiding who you are. He wants a wife and kids. He's engaged and is getting married next year, but every time we got together we'd end up in bed again.' He laughed and Brad could tell that it wasn't really something funny that was causing him to do so. 'Hell, sometimes we didn't even get to the bed! I couldn't stand it. I had to put some distance between us so I quit and came back to the FBI. Luckily, I got partnered with you. Damn, why did he have to be so stupid?' He hit the wheel in frustration. 'He's going to ask me to look after him, I know he is. He doesn't want to have to explain to Velma why he was in that area. Tonight I'm going to drain the tank of his car so it looks as if he ran out of gas, which is the story he told. Tomorrow, or the next day, I'll take him home with me to look after him until his wounds are healed. We'll end up in bed together and it'll tear me apart, but it'll happen because neither of us can resist it.'
'Couldn't someone else look after him? Does it have to be you?' Brad asked.
'Anyone else will want an explanation of why he was outside a gay bar. I know why. He was looking for me or failing that for some willing mouth or ass. Sometimes you just gotta itch that scratch, I mean scratch that itch. I can't even think straight remembering what he looked like in the hospital bed. And I want to; truth is that I want to look after him. One small part of me hopes that he'll change his mind about Velma and at least we can be together, even if we have to be in secret. I thought I was strong enough to do without him but I can't leave him there like that.'
'So let's get over to his car and sort it and then we both need to get some sleep. Your friend was lucky tonight that those punks didn't kick him to death. After we've finished drop me back at the station. Tomorrow we'll see what he has to say.'
Canton hardly slept. He tossed and turned and finally gave up looking for sleep. He thought about Jet lying in his hospital bed. He assumed that he'd told Velma that he was at work so she wouldn't worry if he didn't contact her. He wasn't sure how he felt about Jet coming to look for him. Was it just the sex? He wished that he didn't care about that but it hurt to think that Jet just wanted his body rather than him. He wished he was more resilient. He wished he could leave Jet to stew in his own problems but the desire to protect him was stronger. They needed a break on this case, some sort of description to go on, or a pattern they could discern. He got up, showered and forced toast and coffee down his reluctant throat. He called Clare to tell her what had happened and then drove to the hospital.
Jet looked just as bad as he had the night before when Canton entered his hospital room. The bruises that covered his face were dark purple on Jet's dark skin, and not showing any signs yet of changing colour. There were cuts on his face as well, and his nose showed signs of damage. Explaining that to Velma would require a story. The top of his head was still bandaged. He'd been lucky to survive. His body was covered with a sheet so Canton couldn't see the damage done to the rest of him, instead he watched the steady rise and fall of his chest, making sure that he was alive. A nurse came in to check his vitals.
'D'you have to wake him?' Canton asked. 'Surely he needs the rest.'
'I need to do these checks on him. He was lucky that he came away without brain damage. I guess whoever found him must have scared them off.' She shook him gently and Jet groaned in response to her touch. 'Canton,' he said quietly.
'I'm here, Jet,' he replied. 'The nurse just has to check you over again. How are you feeling?'
'Fuzzy and my head hurts. In fact my whole body hurts. I feel like I was run over by a herd of stampeding elephants.'
'D'you remember what happened last night?' Canton asked. Jet looked at the nurse before he spoke.
'I was going across town to see some friends and I ran out of gas. I needed to phone them to let them know what had happened. I wandered for a bit and then saw the bar and figured they'd have a phone. I went in and called. They said that there was a gas station as few blocks down so I was going to walk and get some to get me going. When I came out I walked back down the alley and suddenly felt something hit me over the head. I went down and they kept hitting me. They said some words but I couldn't make out what, and then I passed out I guess. I can't identify them. It was dark in the alley and they hit me from behind. Their accents were local but that's all. Everything was muffled.' Canton knew that even if he had seen them Jet wouldn't admit it. There was no way that he really wanted this investigated. He hoped that the locals at Glitzy's wouldn't say anything. Maybe he'd go round there later just to be sure. A head appeared around the door. It was Brad.
'I guessed you'd be here,' he said. 'I brought us a coffee each. I assume Jet can't have anything yet.'
'That's me finished,' the nurse said. 'Don't be here too long gentlemen. The Doctor will be around to see you later.'
'Will I be allowed out today?' Jet asked.
'I can't tell you that,' she replied. 'You'll need someone to keep an eye on you.'
'I'll have someone,' he replied looking at Canton. 'At least I hope I will.'
When the nurse had left he looked at Canton again and then at Brad. 'This is Brad Johnson,' Canton explained. 'He's my partner, and it's okay he knows about us so you can talk with him here. I assume you'd like me to look after you.'
'He knows! About us! Can you trust him?' He looked both shocked and embarrassed. 'Yeah, I trust him,' Canton replied.
'So will you let me stay with you? You could ask Clare to contact Velma and say that I've had to go on assignment abroad for a while. Please, Canton. There's too much to explain for me to go home.'
'You know I won't say no to you, Jet. When they say you can leave I'll come and pick you up. We need to go now. We've got some calls to make about the case we're working on. I'll come back tonight. You get some rest and listen to the doctors.'
The calls revealed a little. They'd decided to concentrate on the salesmen named Peter and found that there were three who travelled in their area and in the surrounding states. The other four worked the north and west of America.
'So do we have enough with the schedules to match any of them up to the crimes?' Canton asked.
'Two of them work together by the look of it. They have the same list of hotel receipts and were near enough to have visited the places where the victims were killed. One of these may be our guy.'
'Do we have enough to bring them both in?' Brad asked. 'What we've got is circumstantial and do we want to tip off whoever it is. If we take them in we might never be able to prove which one of them did the murders unless they crack.'
'I could make them crack,' Canton said determinedly.
'Yeah, but without any proper evidence no one is going to believe us. Look at these guys. They're both married with kids, both in their 40s and have worked for Walker and Brown for years. Neither of them looks like a cold blooded killer on paper. We need evidence. Look, we've got their photographs. We need to show them around to see if anyone recognises them in the bars our victims frequented. If they do then we have probable cause to arrest them. I'll go visit Glitzy's tonight. You visit Jet. If I have to go out of state, that's alright. I expect you'll want to stay close enough to keep an eye on him.'
'Thanks, I appreciate what you're doing. Okay, you go to Glitzy's with the photos, and I'll go to the hospital. I'll call you later. Let's hope they can pick out one of our Peters. We could check when he's next out selling and then set a trap for him. I guess I could get away with a dress,' Canton said. 'Well, certainly more than you could. A quarter back in a dress would be very obvious.'
'We haven't come to that yet,' Brad said. 'We may get a lucky break.'
'I'm not holding my breath. I'll talk to you later, Brad and thanks. I owe you big time for letting me deal with Jet. I got damn lucky that I partnered with you.'
Sorry its been a while. Canton looks after Jet. Will either of them be able to resist temptation?
Two days later Jet was allowed out of the hospital. His bruises were still mostly purple but some had begun to turn yellow. The bandages had now been removed from his head. Canton winced when he saw the stitches at the back of his ex- lover’s skull.
‘How is it?’ he asked. ‘Does it still hurt?’
‘Yeah, it still hurts. They’ve given me some tablets but I’m only allowed eight a day. The cuts and bruises will fade in about a week. They reckon that the stitches could come out in two if I heal quickly. Can you cope with me for two weeks? Will it be a problem with your neighbours?’ Canton had just pulled up at his apartment building.
‘Stop worrying, it’ll be fine. If anyone asks I’ll say that you’re a fellow police officer who was injured in the line of duty but you don’t have any family. If they remember you’ve been here before then it doesn’t matter. Come on, let’s get you in and settled. Brad is coming over later as he has some news about the case we’re working on.’
‘Is that the drag queen case?’ Jet asked.
‘Yeah, half a dozen murders over the last few months. We have a couple of suspects. Brad’s been showing pictures at Glitzy’s. If we get no joy there we’ll need to go to the other places where there’ve been victims.’
Ten minutes later Jet was sat on Canton’s sofa while Canton made them both tea. ‘It’ll be better for you than coffee. I got a taste for it when I was in Britain. I’ve got loads of photographs to show you as well.’
‘So Brad, he doesn’t strike me as queer. How come you told him about us,’ Jet asked. Canton could hear the disapproval in his voice. He put the teas on the table and sat down.
‘Brad had a younger brother who was gay. He hung himself from a tree in the garden of their family home. It’s why he took this case when no-one else was really interested. He doesn’t care if I’m gay and he won’t tell anyone else so you’re safe. He’s a good guy, and a good agent.’
‘You don’t fancy him do you?’ Canton noticed the uncertainty in Jet’s voice.
‘Why, you jealous?’ Canton reached over and put his hand on Jet’s thigh. ‘He’s married, with a great wife and two children. I met them a few weeks back. And no I don’t fancy him because I still have feelings for this completely annoying man sat next to me. No matter how I try I can’t get him out of my head, and until I do I won’t be getting involved with anyone else.’
‘I’m sorry, Canton. I know that I’m putting you in a difficult position. I could go home if it’s too much.’ He made to get up.
‘Stay where you are, Jet. I know the situation and you need someone looking after you. I’ll take the sofa and you can have the bed.’
‘I can’t throw you out of your own bed,’ Jet said. ‘We could share if you want.’ He looked at Canton who thought he saw something in those eyes.
‘No, its better if we keep our distance. Clare is coming around tomorrow to see you while I’m out.’ There was a knock at the door. ‘That’ll be Brad I expect.’
Canton wasn’t sure how Brad would react to meeting Jet but their mutual hostility was obvious as soon as they were introduced.
‘Beer?’ Canton asked. ‘You can have one, can’t you? So did the photos jerk anyone’s memory at Glitzy’s then?’ He felt Jet tense beside him at the mention of the bar.
‘No, but I’m not surprised. There’s nothing memorable about either of them. We don’t even know if our killer goes into the bars. He might just wait outside for his chance. Can you get away to go to some of the other places? We should be able to get to Harrisburg and Wilmington and back in a day if we share the driving. But we’ll be back late.’
‘Clare’s coming over tomorrow so Jet will have some company. I can ask her to be here at night,’ Canton said.
‘I am capable of looking after myself,’ Jet murmured irritably.
‘I know,’ Canton said. ‘But you know the doctor said that you shouldn’t be left too long in case you got dizzy or something.’ He put his hand on Jet’s knee. Jet jerked away and then looked at Brad. ‘I’m going to go to get us burgers and fries,’ Canton said. ‘I won’t be long. Help yourself to whatever you want, Brad. There’s juice there if you’ve had enough alcohol.’ As he went out of the door part of Canton wished he could be a fly on the wall. He didn’t know who to feel sorry for the most but he figured that Brad could handle it.
‘So you’re Canton’s new partner,’ Jet said.
‘Yep, that’s me. He’s a good guy and a good agent. The White House’s loss is my gain. What have you told work by the way. I’m not expecting that you mentioned that you’d been beaten up outside a gay bar. Canton sorted your car for you to help with your story.’
‘I know and I know he’s a good guy. You’ve only known him a few weeks.’ Jet left his words hanging in the air.
‘Yeah, I know I don’t know him as well as you do,’ Brad said. He’d already had enough of Jet being so prickly. He thought that Canton was being very generous helping this guy who was behaving like a possessive jerk.
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ Jet asked. He sat up straight on the sofa and stared at Brad.
‘Whatever you want it to. You’ve known him for longer than I have and you were having sex with him. I assume that you had some feelings for him, because he certainly still has them for you.’ Brad knew that he wasn’t hiding his irritation very successfully.
‘You know nothing about how I feel about Canton. Your brother may have been gay but you don’t have to live in fear. As much as I’d want it to be different, Canton and I can’t have a life together and that’s it. He knows that I love Velma as well and that we’re going to be married. I’m not like Canton. I want to get married and have kids.’
‘Actually, I think you’re very like Canton. He wants to get married and have kids too. He just wants to be able to marry you. Unless people are willing to stand up for change everything will stay the same. This is the sixties. Out there the slogan is ‘make love not war.’ Black people have rights that they didn’t have until recently, which you very well know. Attitudes change, Jet. Maybe they will in our lifetimes. Canton seems certain that they will and I hope he’s right. Other countries have stopped making homosexuality a crime. We’re supposed to be leaders of the free world.’
Jet put his head in his hands forgetting his stitches and groaned. ‘Talk is easy. Talk is always easy. All Canton and I could have is snatched moments together. No touching each other in public when it’s so easy to forget. I can’t risk it. It would destroy my family.’
‘That’s just an excuse really. Deep down I think that you think that it’s wrong. Man shall not lie with man. Isn’t that what the Bible says? I’ve never been one for religion myself, not since my brother. Canton said that you were brought up with religion shoved down your throat. It’s hard to fight your upbringing.’
The door opened and Canton came in. The atmosphere was thick and he knew that they’d had words. They ate and watched the game in virtual silence. Brad left straight afterwards. Canton was going to meet him in the afternoon to take the photographs around. That night Canton slept on the sofa and Jet didn’t try to change his mind.
The trip to Harrisburg and Wilmington proved to be just as fruitless as at Glitzy’s and the clientele were just as suspicious. Both of them knew that the killer was overdue to strike again but they had no idea where because they knew that they didn’t have enough evidence to ask for either of the sales routes for both men. Canton didn’t ask Brad about his conversation with Jet; it was best left between the two of them. Clare was still there when he arrived home at midnight. Jet had gone to bed. He dumped his jacket and sat next to her on the sofa.
‘Did you manage to put on the head protection?’ he asked. ‘He has to wear it in bed so his stitches stay intact.’
‘Yes, of course I did,’ Clare replied. ‘Canton, do you know what you’re doing here? How long before you two are back in bed together? You know you want him and he obviously isn’t over you or he wouldn’t have been at Glitzy’s. He virtually told me that. I like Jet, but he wants to have his cake and eat it. He wants a normal life and to fuck you on the side.’
‘Perhaps I fuck him,’ Canton replied. Clare raised an eyebrow and he frowned. ‘Yeah, okay, I know I’m going to get hurt ….. again. But perhaps I can persuade him not to marry Velma and we can be together, sort of. We could go somewhere else where it’s not illegal.’
Clare put a hand on his thigh. ‘Oh Canton, you know that’s never going to happen. I know that you’re prepared to risk everything for him but he isn’t prepared to do that for you.’ She knew that this was going to end badly for her friend but she also knew that it was inevitable. She just hoped that it wouldn’t be too bad.
Over the next week Canton looked after Jet. He didn’t sleep with him and sat away from him. At night on the sofa he’d take his cock in hand and masturbate with Jet’s image in front of him. A few times he’d nearly given in. On the seventh night he was still awake staring at the ceiling when heard Jet yelling. He jumped up and ran into the bedroom. Jet was thrashing around. The head protection was lying on the other pillow. Canton sat on the bed and held Jet trying to wake him up gently.
‘Jet, Jet, it’s okay. You’re safe; you’re with me.’ He held him and kissed his face without even thinking about it. ‘Come on, let’s get this back on you.’ Jet let him put the protection back on and Canton got into bed with him. It felt so good to be there, to have Jet in his arms again. He stroked his face gently. ‘What was it? Did you have a nightmare?’
‘Yeah, I was back there. I don’t want to talk about it.’ Jet buried his head into Canton’s chest and Canton pulled his arms around him more tightly. After a while Jet’s breathing evened out and Canton knew he was asleep. Soon after he was snoring gently as well.
When he woke the next morning he could feel Jet spooned behind him. The night had been warm. It was early autumn now but still the humidity was high and Canton knew that sweat must be dripping off him. He was about to move, desperate for a shower, when he felt Jet press behind him. He could feel Jet’s hot breath on the back of his neck and Jet’s hand on his arse. His cock responded immediately. Canton didn’t know what to do. His head screamed get out of there and his heart and cock said something else. Jet parted his cheeks.
‘Shit, was he going to fuck him?’ Canton thought. He expected to feel a finger probing him but instead Jet put his cock between his cheeks and began to press in, moving up and down between them as best he could. Canton moaned. Now Jet would know that he was awake.
‘Please,’ his ex-lover said. ‘Please Canton, let me touch you. I need to touch you. I’ve missed you so much. I’ve missed this so much.’ He moved his hand around and kept thrusting. Canton pressed backwards and put Jet’s hand on his now weeping cock. When Jet circled it both men groaned once more. The sweat from both men allowed Jet to slide his cock up and down. Canton felt the other man’s breathing get faster and faster until there was that tell-tale hitch and Jet came moaning his name into the back of his neck. Canton followed him less that thirty seconds later filling Jet’s hand with the sticky liquid. He felt wonderful and then even better when Jet moved in closer, their damp skin clinging together from top to bottom. The smell of sweat mixed with the salty smell of their come was intoxicating. Canton tried not to think about what had happened. He was living in the moment and the moment was good. He was allowed a little happiness, wasn’t he?
Canton's hopes were dashed within the hour. He came out from the shower to find Jet sat on the edge of the bed. He was not smiling but Canton could see the longing in the other man's eyes, however, it was mixed with regret and fear. Canton stood towel drying his hair. Another towel was just slung around his waist. Part of him had hoped that Jet wouldn't be able to resist him but he could see quite clearly that this wasn't the case.
'I guess that look means that nothing has changed,' Canton said.
'I'm sorry. It was a moment of weakness,' Jet said. 'I shouldn't have done it but you didn't exactly fight me off did you?' Now it was Canton's turn to feel a surge of anger. He slumped down onto a chair. 'I should be mad at you,' he said as calmly as he could. 'I should be raving about what a bastard you are. I should be throwing you out of that door right now. I don't put up with this kind of shit from lovers. I left my ex in New York because he was just the same as you. I should know better. I shouldn't allow myself to have feelings. I should just suck, fuck and run. There's lots of men out there who'd be more than happy to do that. I'm sure you've met a few in your time and I'm sure you'll manage to meet a few more while you play happy families with Velma!'
'I'm not like that,' Jet said vehemently.
'What, you mean that you've never had your cock down some stranger's throat. Come off it, Jet! You're even trying to hide the truth from yourself. You like men. You like having sex with men. You like the way they feel. You like their strength, and you like using yours, and you like to fuck them. You like that I just don't lie there, that I give as good as I get. I don't just lie on my back and count the ceiling tiles while you huff and puff above me. Is it that good with Velma? Does she let you do all those dirty, naughty things you like to do with me?'
Jet jerked his head up suddenly. 'You leave her out of this,' he said fiercely.
'No I won't. She's in this room with us now getting between us. Oh, I get it. You haven't even had sex with her have you? She's from a religious family. She won't put out until she's married and even then no doubt she'll have been told that she just needs to put up with it. It's like something from the past. No wonder you needed me again. I wonder how long it will be before you come crawling back here.'
'You think Velma is what's stopping us living happy ever after! For God's sake Canton, wake up and smell the coffee. What we do is illegal in every single state of America but one. I work in the White House and you work for the Washington FBI. We don't even have the right to have sex in private in our own houses!'
'If it was legal would you still be marrying Velma?' Canton asked. 'Go on tell me the answer to that. All the rest is excuses isn't it? Deep down inside you think that what we do is wrong and that all homosexuals are going to hell. You just hate yourself. Well, I don't. I think I'm a good guy. I hunt the bad guys and bring them to justice and liking men doesn't change that. I'm damn good at my job even if I have to make sacrifices I don't like. I didn't choose these feelings and neither did you, Jet. I don't understand how or why but if I had a choice it wouldn't be sitting here with the man I love, watching him tear himself apart, trying to live the life he thinks he should live and failing.' He hesitated for a moment and shook his head. 'I thought I could cope with you being here but I can't. You should be alright now. Find yourself a hotel for a week if you can't go home. Tell Velma you were injured on duty and sent back. Tell her what you want; I don't care. I'm going to go to work and when I come home I want you gone. This is it, Jet. No more. Somehow I need to get over you. I need to stop thinking we can be together. Perhaps one day men like you and I will be able to be together, get married, and have children. Someone once told me that but I've stopped believing in a future that contains you and me. It hurts too much.'
Canton grabbed his clothes and went into the main room. He quickly pulled them on and got his jacket. Jet hadn't said one word or made a move to stop him leaving and that really said it all.
He slammed the donuts and morning paper down on his desk on arrival. He looked around and saw Brad through the glass door of the Captain's office. Minutes later he came out. Canton had poured them a coffee and had taken a mouthful of donut. He swallowed quickly. Brad's face looked grim and Canton guessed that this day wasn't going to get any better.
'There's been another murder in Pittsburgh,' Brad said. He swallowed the coffee and picked up a donut.
'Same MO I assume,' Canton said.
'Yep.' He read from the paper in his hand. 'Our victim's name is Cyril Nixon, AKA Nixi. He was 52 years old, white, 5ft 6ins, so fairly small and 150lbs. He was wearing a red dress and heels. He also had a blonde wig. He was found in an alley outside a bar called Fancy's. I've said we'll get up there if that's alright. Will you be able to contact Clare to check on Jet or is he able to be by himself yet?'
'It'll be fine,' Canton said. 'Jet will be leaving today so it doesn't matter that I won't be there.' Brad knew that there was a story but he didn't ask. He picked up the photographs of the two Peters and put them in an envelope. Perhaps this time someone would recognise one of the men as it had only just happened.
Getting there was going to take between four and five hours Canton realised. Brad would want to know what happened. Brad was that sort of guy.
Canton had to admit that his partner showed a fair amount of restraint for the first thirty minutes. Brad talked about his son's baseball game. 'The parents are mad,' he said. 'I had to flash my badge at one point or I swear Zac's Dad would have punched Sam's Dad. Sam made a mistake and Zac got ruled out as he didn't get to the plate in time.'
'How did Ricky do?' Canton asked.
'Scored a home run and then got out, but he pitched like a demon. Canton, what happened last night? You and Jet, what happened, because something did? You care too much about him to simply get annoyed by his snoring. What did he do?'
'Brad, we just decided it was best that he left. That's it,' Canton answered.
'No it isn't! I guess he wanted you, and you let him, and then he said that nothing had changed and he was still going to marry Velma. Am I right?' Brad sounded pleased with himself.
'You're a very good detective, Agent Johnson,' Canton said coldly.
'So you told him to leave?'
'Yeah, that's what I told him,' Canton confirmed.
'Oh Canton, I'm sorry. I guess he's just not strong enough. He's not like you. I really think you'd go to jail for this wouldn't you? Give up your job, although it matters to you, and you are very good at it. If there was the slightest chance that your actions would change things you'd do it wouldn't you? You'd tell everyone you were gay and lose everything. You'd do that for him wouldn't you? Jeez, this must be tearing you apart.'
'It's over,' Canton said. 'I need to move on and we need a break in this case. If someone can identify them can we get Walker and Brown to tell us where they are due to be next? Then perhaps we can just ask to eliminate them. If they were nowhere near it would be impossible.'
They got to the location a little after two in the afternoon. At the scene the police were still looking for evidence and interviewing people in the area. Both men showed their badges to the local PD.
'We've got a couple of photos of possible subjects,' Brad said. 'We'd like to show them around.'
'Sure. The barman and owner are inside. We're getting a list of people who frequent the place but as you can imagine people are reluctant to talk. The body was found there. He'd been beaten over the head. It looks like they used baseball bat. He'd been kicked a few times too in his privates. Did that happen before? I don't get it myself but it's no way to die, in a dress and high heels. He even had frilly knickers and stockings on under the dress. The victim lived just a block away. He's an accountant would you believe. He works at City Hall. I suppose that it takes all sorts. The barman's called Jake Smith and the owner is Micky Malone.'
They went into the bar and showed the photographs to both men but neither recognised the faces. 'Damn,' Brad said. 'I hoped we might get somewhere. Oh well let's see what else the locals have to say.' They listened to what the local PD had so far. The victim had left at around 11.30 rather tipsy but not drunk. He was a regular and had gone out with a young man.
'No one has given us a name and the description is college boy average. Jake reckoned that he was just out for a bit of fun, just hoping to get a blow job in the alley from the local drag queen. We're going to appeal for witnesses. You can join us tonight if you want; that is if anyone turns up. Most of them only use their first names.' He stopped when he heard two cops mouthing off about queers and faggots getting what they deserved.
'Mac, fill in the agents here with the rest while I speak to those two idiots will you?' The sergeant moved further down the alley.
'Hi, I'm detective Steve McKenzie. The boss said you have some photos of possible suspects. Can I see them?' Brad and Canton looked at each other.
'Yeah, would you like to talk somewhere more private, detective?' Canton asked. Mac nodded. Brad took the photos out of the envelope. 'Ever seen either of them in the bar? I'm assuming that you may have some knowledge of this place.' Mac stared at the photographs.
'Well, have you seen them? We won't say anything but …..'
'Yeah, I've seen them. I got here first last night with my partner. He's over there getting told off.' Brad and Canton exchanged another look. 'But they weren't in the bar. There's a street light at the end of the alley. I swear they were in a car just there at the entrance. The victim was still warm when we got here. Someone had come out of the bar and fallen over the body. The car sped off when they saw me.'
Brad found it hard to keep the excitement out of his voice. 'Thanks, detective. You may have just given us the lead we've been looking for.'
Chapter notes: This is a two hander chapter between Jet and Clare. There is a tissue warning as this is heavy on the angst. There is some homophobic and racist language in this chapter.
Jet closed his apartment door behind him and collapsed onto his sofa. He was amazed that his legs had carried him this far. He took the baseball cap from his head and wished he could scratch the stitches as they were at that itchy stage and his hair was beginning to grow once more. In a few days they would be removed, and next week he would be back at work, back to normal, back to life without Canton. Shit, he’d been a fool led by his libido and not by his brain. Canton had every right to throw him out, even if he fervently wished he hadn’t. Jet knew that he couldn’t make Canton understand, unless he talked to him, but somehow he just couldn’t. He did, however need to talk to someone. He knew that he had never given any hints as to what had happened to him all those years ago, bones mended and cuts and bruises faded, at least those on the outside. But he still thought that Canton was a fool to risk himself as he did, a handsome, well meaning, totally absorbing, wonderfully sarcastic but completely reckless, fool.
As his lover had berated him Jet could find no words to fight back with. Canton was right but he’d wanted him so much; just to touch him, to feel him, to run his hands over his soft skin. Canton wasn’t hard like Jet. Oh he had muscles, but there was a little padding around them, a few surplus pounds, which Jet would never allow himself to have. He wanted to be stronger than he looked. He knew that he didn’t have the height but he kept himself fit. He knew how to protect himself too, having a black belt in karate, but he’d been brought down by one blow to the head, by a bunch of teenaged jerks. He hadn’t been able to fight back, just like last time, except this time no one had tied his hands and made him eat dirt, or anything else. They’d used those same names though, faggot, nigger, queer were just a few examples. He’d given them an excuse to hit him and hate him twice over, just like when he’d been seventeen, out in the cotton field with Jake. Jake had been white, a football player for one of the local high schools and a great athlete. It was the first time that Jet had been in love. He put his head in his hands and wept. He’d worked so hard to keep those memories at bay but here they were fighting back, wanting to swallow him whole again.
Ten minutes later he called the only person, other than Canton, who would listen to him, he hoped.
‘Clare, it’s me. I need to talk to you. Can you come round? I thought you were free today.’
‘Yes, I’m not with the First Lady until this evening at one of those charity things. I can get to Canton’s in about 20 minutes, if the traffic is kind.’
‘I’m not at Canton’s; I’m at mine,’ he said quietly.
‘Oh,’ was all she said in reply, at first. ‘Okay, it’ll take me a bit longer to get across town to you but I’ll be there as soon as I can.’
After she’d put the phone down Jet was grateful that she hadn’t asked what had happened. He went into the kitchen and found that he had nothing much in. The food in the fridge had gone green. He found some coffee and made it black with no sugar; it was probably what he needed. He went downstairs briefly to collect his post from the box in the hallway and then spent some time sorting out bills from junk. There was a letter from his mother full of wedding talk and how he was going to look so handsome and how proud she was. ‘If only she know,’ he thought. Of course, she did really know, but now he was getting married and that day had simply become a bad dream that could be pushed to the back of people’s minds. His mother could now show the picture of him and Velma that she’d had taken specially. He could hear her already.
‘That’s my boy, Jethro and his fiancée, Velma. You know the family. Her Daddy has his own business. Yeah, that’s him, he has an electrical shop in Jacksonville. He does some good deals. My boy works in the White House, I can’t talk about it. Yes, he went to college, and got his degree. He was the first in our family. He’s getting married on Valentine’s Day. I know, he’s such a romantic.’ Jet could see the women at Church, and at sewing circle, all nodding their heads. He wondered if others with more inconvenient memories might sometimes remember something else about Jethro Peterson. He heard a knock at the door and put down the letter. When he opened it Clare took one look and put her arms around him. He tried, but failed, to keep the tears from falling again. ‘Sorry,’ he said despondently. ‘I had to talk to someone and you’ll at least listen to me.’ She pulled away.
‘It’s alright, I’ll listen but you may not like what I have to say.’ Jet nodded. He knew about Clare and Lorelei but it in his opinion it was easier for women to disguise a friendship. If they linked arms no-one would care, but men could never do the same, they could never be that demonstrative in public. He knew that he couldn’t even look at Canton sometimes for fear of the truth of his feelings being there for all to see and judge.
‘So are you going to tell me what happened with Canton?’ Clare asked. She took the seat next to him on the sofa.
‘Me,’ he said. ‘I happened. I had a nightmare about …. well … I told Canton it was about the night I got these injuries but it wasn’t, not really. He got into bed with me and held me. When we woke up he was still there and it felt so good to be near him and I couldn’t not touch him and ….’
‘Okay, I think I get the picture. One thing led to another and Canton got his hopes up and then you told him that nothing had changed, and that you were still going to marry Velma, so he threw you out.’
Jet stared at her. ‘That’s amazing and pretty much it. I know he was every right to hate me,’ he said.
‘Well, I doubt that he fought off your advances, did he?’
‘No, that’s true, but I did give him false hope. I wish I could be as brave as he is Clare, but someone will notice. Someone will see us look at each other, or our hands will linger longer than they should. We could lose everything, face disgrace and I can’t do that, not again. I’m lucky to have kept the assault quiet. If it got out why I was there that night people might put two and two together. The only trouble is that I’m going to lose him because he won’t compromise. I won’t even have him as a friend and that’s killing me, the thought of never seeing him again.’
‘You want him to be your bit on the side. You realise that you’re using Velma and you’re going to sleep with Canton. That’s not right, Jet. That’s not fair to either of them.’
‘I know but what else can I do? If I don’t get married I may as well hang a sign over my head with queer written on it, or I’d have to have lots of different women fawning over me and be the swinging bachelor. I do love Velma in my own way, and I want kids.’
‘But you want him as well!’
‘Yes, God help me, I do,’ Jet replied. ‘I’ve tried so hard not to be like this. I don’t want to be gay. I don’t want to like men. I know it’s wrong. The Bible says that it’s wrong; it’s an abomination before God. I’m an abomination. I know that I am. That’s what the minister told me when he placed his hand on my head to get the demon of perversion out of me, to exorcise me. I told them that it had worked. I wanted it to work, to be free from these feelings and desires, but even as I said the words I knew that I was lying, before the minister, before my parents and before God. I did what I had to do to save myself.’ Clare’s hand was at her mouth.
‘Oh God, Jet what happened to you? How did they know?’ Clare said softly.
‘I was 17 nearly 18 and in my senior year. I was really good at sports. In college I got to Olympic standard. I ran and played football. His name was Jacob. We met at a track event. Even with the Supreme Court’s judgement that said that schools should be integrated, most of us still daren’t challenge things. The protest at Little Rock happened a couple of years after my time. Our school was segregated, and I’m not sure that I’d have been brave enough to stand up like those kids and their families did. Jake was tall and blonde. He was a thrower so had massive shoulders and biceps. He was built like a Greek God.’ Jet realised that Clare was smiling at him. ‘Yeah, I know, nothing like Canton in appearance but he had this confidence about him. He swaggered into the discus circle as if he owned it, and that is very like Canton. I knew it was wrong what I felt when I watched him. You’ve no idea what it was like to be black in the south twenty years ago. It’s bad enough now. My father had fought in the war and been awarded a medal for bravery and they still called him boy, and nigger, and didn’t allow him to sit on a bench in the park or a seat in a bus. We drank from water fountains labelled ‘negroes only’, went to black schools and black churches. Beatings were regular occurrences when I was young. A group of white lads who were drunk would pick up a black boy and ‘play’ with him. Anyway, I was sat watching the events as the sprints weren’t on until later and Jake came to sit next to me. He cooled down by pouring water over his head. The wetness made his shirt cling to his body so he took it off and wrung it out. He caught me looking and I panicked but he just smiled at me. We got talking and somehow that unspoken knowledge that we were different from the others became obvious. The first time we kissed I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I thought that everyone would know but they didn’t. We couldn’t meet at home, or at schoo,l but we had a tree. It sounds stupid now but we’d leave notes in it and meet up. We’d kiss and touch each other, but that’s all. It felt so good to be with him. We hardly talked when we met in the cotton fields. We didn’t want to make much noise. Then one day his brother followed him and saw us. We didn’t know that he’d seen us kissing and stuff. The next time Jake slipped away his brother and a few of his friends followed him. They watched and waited until I had my pants round my ankles and he was …… Sorry I feel dirty saying this to you.’
‘No need. I’m guessing that he was sucking you off,’ Clare said matter of factly.
‘Yes, he was. They made a circle around us. We were so involved in each other that we didn’t hear them. They jumped out suddenly and pulled us apart. They held both of us down and tied my hands with my belt. They made Jake watch as they kicked me and put dirt in my mouth. They put dirt in Jake’s too so they could remove the stench of me from him, but they didn’t hurt him. Finally, they unbuttoned themselves and I feared the worst but they peed on me and left me there bleeding. I could hear Jake protesting and saying my name as they dragged him off. It took a few of them to hold him. I practically crawled home. I told my parents that I’d been attacked but didn’t see who by and they believed it but then the letter came and the word faggot was painted on the wall of the house. My parents did what they thought was right and took me to church and I pretended that I was cured.’
‘What happened to Jake?’ Clare asked. He could tell that she feared the worst.
‘He was sent away to military school. He was a little younger than me. I expect that they beat it out of him. I never saw him again.’ Tears now poured down his face again. ‘Canton told me how his partner Brad’s brother had hung himself and I didn’t say anything. I don’t know why I’ve never told him but I suppose I got off lucky really. Every time I’m with Canton I worry that we’ll be found out and I’m back in that field, bloody and helpless. just like I was when those bastards beat me in the alley outside Glitzy’s. I can’t face that again. If I marry Velma I’m safe, I’m normal. I’ll be a good husband and father but it’s so hard, Clare. I want him so much. I love him and I can’t have him. Please, will you tell him that I’m sorry and that I understand why he can’t see me?’
‘I’ll tell him but what about all this and why doesn’t he deserve to know?’ Clare asked.
‘I can’t tell him, Clare. What good would it do? Please don’t tell him. I know that I have to forget him and that might keep him safe. He says that he loves me. I don’t want him to be locked up and sacked in disgrace.’
‘I know,’ she replied. ‘I’ll try to explain without going into detail but it won’t be easy. Are you going to ring Velma?’
‘Yes, and then I think I’ll give notice and go home, find a job there and put some distance between us. That way we’ll both be safe even if we can’t be together.’ He put his head onto Clare’s shoulder and wept once more for both of his lost loves and for the life he knew that he could never have and would never have.
‘The paperwork is here,’ Canton said to Brad. ‘We can cross check to see if those two were in the areas where our victims were killed.’
Brad perched on the end of their shared desk. ‘Even if we do that we’ve still got no proof, have we?’
‘Get me in a room with one of them and I’d get you proof!’ Canton said through gritted teeth.
‘I want these two put away, Canton but you know what it’s going to be like. We’re putting two white working men in front of a jury for killing drag queens, some of whom were black. Half the jury, if not more, will probably think good riddance to bad rubbish, so we have to be sure we’ve got enough evidence to send them down for good.’
They pored over the documents. The two suspects didn’t always travel together, but except on one occasion they were on the same selling circuit. The only example where both weren’t in the same place was the one out of order, the second murder in DC, Dolores’ murder. Canton really wanted to get the man for that. ‘It looks like they’re back on the road again three weeks from now. They’re spending four nights in Philadelphia by the look of it. We need to find out if there are any places in the area that they might visit.’
‘Perhaps I’ll get a chance to wear a dress after all,’ Canton said.
‘Hopefully, it won’t come to that.’ Brad replied, eyebrows raised. ‘I don’t really think you have the legs for it.’ He looked across the room. ‘And where are we going to get an outfit that you could wear?’
‘I’m sure that we could find someone who’d tell me. It’s worth a try isn’t it?’ Canton asked.
‘It could be dangerous. We’ll need to make sure that we can keep an eye on you. I’ll run it past the boss later. All we have now is circumstantial. We’ve no finger prints or blood. They’ve probably got rid of any clothes, and the weapons are easily disposed of and replaced. It looks like they’ve used baseball bats.’
Brad looked across at his partner, checked the room and lowered his voice. ‘Have you spoken to him?’ he asked.
‘No, but Clare has. He went to see her. It seems he’s planning to leave and go back home. Velma doesn’t like DC. She only lasted a few months in that job. She’s helping in her father’s shop now. I’m going to see Clare tonight. We’re going to the jazz club I told you about because Clare’s friend, Lorelei is in town again. She is very good but I have to stick my fingers in my ears when they do all that noodleling. Give me the Doors any day!’
Brad wondered about ‘noodleling’. ‘Have you seen them?’ he asked.
‘The Doors? Yeah, they were amazing….’ They talked music for a while and worked on ideas for trapping their two suspects.
Later that evening Canton met Clare in the club as arranged. Rick poured him a drink as soon as he walked in. Canton murmured a thanks. At least Rick hadn’t made a fuss that he hadn’t followed up on their get together. He waved at Clare; she was head to head with Lorelei. Canton hesitated but Clare beckoned him over.
Lorelei leaned over and kissed Clare’s cheek before she left. Canton looked at the smile on his friend’s face. Her eyes were all aglow and radiating enough love to power a small town. Canton downed his drink in one go and wondered how drunk he could allow himself to get, because he wanted to get very drunk indeed. Clare put a hand on his arm as he went to get up again.
‘Don’t, Canton. I know you want to forget all that’s happened, or you think that you do, but getting drunk won’t help. You’ll just get a headache and throw up, and it’ll all be the same in the morning.’
‘It’s alright for you,’ he said bitterly. ‘You have Lorelei!’ Clare sighed. ‘Oh yeah, I forgot. Of course I do. We live in our lovely house, with our 2.2 children and invite the neighbours for dinner parties. Our wedding was beautiful; we wore matching white dresses and I was given away by my father. Oh yeah, I have it all, except that this is the first time I’ve seen her in over six weeks because she’s been touring. We hide as well, Canton. You have to get over him somehow because he ain’t coming back!’
‘But I don’t want to get over him. I want to hate him for going back to her, for wanting me in his bed but not in his life. Not that I’ve ever been in his bed. He always said that my white face would stick out in his building. But I can’t hate him. I miss him and his stupid pride. I miss the way he looked at me and held me. God, I sound like a girl!’ Clare’s hand drummed on the table in protest.
‘Alright, I know, but this is what he’s made me. I want to believe that things will change. I was told that they will.’
‘Ah yes, your mysterious informer. You’ve never said anything about him.’
‘If I show you something you mustn’t tell anyone!’ Clare raised her eyebrows until she saw the earnestness of Canton’s face. ‘Swear!’ he said.
‘What do you want me to do? Open a vein!’
‘No, but this is important. I believe that one day Jet and I will be together. I’d hoped that we would find a way now so that we could have some sort of relationship, but I won’t let him betray Velma. That’s not fair on either of us. She loves him and will be married to him. If he was married to me I wouldn’t want him being unfaithful with some woman and it just being different, so it didn’t count.’
‘You’re just an old romantic really aren’t you, Canton,’ she said smiling.
‘Is that so surprising?’ he asked.
‘Frankly, yes. Canton, you’re a sarcastic, arrogant prick. I say that with love, obviously. But I know that really all you want to do is marry Jet and settle down together.’ Canton reached into his pocket and took out his wallet. He removed the photograph that Jack Harkness had given him. He put it on the table in front of Clare. She looked at it.
‘So what! It’s two old men at a wedding.’
‘Look closely. Do they seem familiar to you?’ he asked. She looked again and then at him. ‘Are you trying to tell me that this is you? It does look like you a bit I suppose. Come on, it’s your grandfather isn’t it?’
‘No, it’s me, and that’s Jet, and this is a photograph of us at our wedding. You won’t believe what I’m going to tell you and you must tell no-one, but this photo will be taken forty years from now, when Jet and I will be legally married. By then men will be able to marry other men in some parts of the world, and even in some states. I was told this a few years back by a man called Jack Harkness. He told me that I would meet a man called the Doctor, in the White House, and that I should help him.’
Clare shook her head. ‘Canton, really this is some sort of trick. It must be.’
‘Jack told me that in the future there will be time travel. Next year we’ll land men on the moon for the first time and eventually we must go further. I can understand there being life elsewhere. I may be an arrogant prick but I don’t think we can possibly be all that there is. Times change Clare, as you’re so fond of telling me. I want to believe that this photo is true. That somehow Jet and I will be together. Perhaps, however, it’s just something that might happen. I don’t know but I can’t let go of hope. I don’t think I’ll ever love someone like I do him. There is light at the end of the tunnel but its fading and I’m tired of raging against that. I’m dealing with a case where even if we catch the bastards the jury will probably think that the victims deserved to die because they’re queer and wore women’s clothes. You can wear trousers but heaven forfend a man might want to wear a dress!’
‘So let me get this straight. This photo was given to you what, about five years ago, by a mysterious character called Jack Harkness who could travel in time, so he got this picture of you marrying Jet.’
‘I know that Jack can travel in time. Do you remember Angelo Colosanto, the businessman who’s made contributions to the democrats cause? He told me about how he met Jack in the 1920s and that he looked just the same. I’m just going to put my incredulity to one side and believe. Jack has this friend called the Doctor who can travel in time, although Jack wouldn’t tell me how. He said that it would spoil the surprise. He wouldn’t tell me why I’d be back in the White House either. It seems that this Doctor has been protecting the world for hundreds of years.’
‘What is he? Some sort of superhero like Captain America, or Thor, or Iron Man?’ Clare replied.
‘Or Flash Gordon,’ Canton added. ‘I don’t know.’
‘This really is too hard to believe,’ Clare said. ‘But surely this gives you hope that someday you might be together. So you haven’t got him now. He’s not dead. You might need to wait a bit. You never know what’s around the corner.’ She stopped and looked at the photo again. ‘And even if you don’t know how long you can run this race, Canton you know where it might end. We all have to die but how we get there varies. Perhaps now isn’t the time for you and Jet, but that doesn’t mean forever does it?’ Canton took her hand in his and leant forward. He kissed her gently. ‘Lorelei is a very lucky woman to have you.’
‘Yes, she is, but so am I,’ Clare replied. The stage darkened and Lorelei appeared in the spotlight. She was good. She sang towards them. Anyone looking would think that Canton was a very lucky man. He thought once again that it was a crazy mixed up world and that people would risk all sorts of things out of love and loyalty.
Three weeks later therefore, Canton found himself wearing a dress for the first time in his life. He was also wearing stockings which itched and high heels. He was perched on a high stool in a bar in Philadelphia. He downed the whisky and tried to still his beating heart and shaking hands, before he made his way outside.
They’d checked the selling route of their two targets. They coincided in Philadelphia, at an agricultural machinery sales conference. Seemed an odd place for it but Brad and Canton didn’t care about that. They had a plan to formulate. First they needed to find the most likely venue that the killers would target, and then they needed to set a trap. Brad wasn’t keen on that aspect of the plan. When they’d liaised with Philadelphia FBI they’d been given two possible venues. They decided to shut one, making just one venue available for the killers, if they chose to strike. There was no guarantee that they would but it seemed most likely, considering their previous pattern of activity. The rest of their three week circuit took them to small towns, which were unlikely to have any gay bars.
‘I don’t like this, Canton,’ Brad said. They were in a motel just outside the city. The plan was to set the trap the next night.
‘I know you don’t but we were lucky to get the agents here to co-operate with the plan at all, and none of them was prepared to put on a dress. Just make sure that everyone is in place and that you are well enough hidden in that doorway we found. There are two exits out of the alleyway. They’ll probably park their car at the north end, as it’s darker, and less likely to be seen. We’ll have you in the bar with me ready to make a quick exit as soon as their car is spotted, and another four outside in various points in the alley. We know that they strike from behind. Possibly one of them distracts the victim, while the other swings the bat. Just make sure that you stop them before he gets that swing in, that’s all I ask.’
‘I will. Just don’t move much from the front door, Canton. We can only cover so much of the alley, given the resources we have. And move south not north as that’s where the other agents will be. Only one will be at the car if they try to make their escape. Now, we need to get some dinner and then some sleep. We need to liaise with Phili FBI at midday tomorrow and you need to iron your outfit. A girl needs to look her best.’ Brad winked and Canton turned away blushing. Sometimes Brad’s all-American attractiveness got to him.
‘I hope your wife doesn’t mind me borrowing her jewellery,’ he said, having regained his equilibrium. ‘She was a big help choosing the outfit for me, even if we did get some funny looks, until I flashed my card. I think blue may be my colour. I don’t know how women wear these things though. Stockings are a nightmare. It’s a good job that I bought a few pairs as I’ve put my hands through two. I need to practice in these heels as well or I’m not going to be able to walk out of there. The wig is the easiest thing to manage; at least I just have to put that on my head.’ He leant down and pulled up a trouser leg. ‘You’ve no idea how weird it feels not having hairs on my legs. I’ve known some men who shaved their privates. It was a bit odd but somewhat arousing in a strange sort of way. I’ve often wondered what it would be like but somehow the idea of shaving my balls makes me shiver, and not in a good way. Have you ever thought about it?’
‘Umm, I think this conversation is getting a bit weird for me. I’m alright with your liking men, Canton, but I don’t really want to think about what you actually do together.’
‘Very little that you can’t do, just different holes,’ Canton said teasingly. ‘You don’t know what you’re missing. There’s this spot just inside your ass that is amazing when you touch it. Most men don’t know that. Just get Laurie to try or you can do it yourself.’ Canton smiled when Brad put his fingers in his ears and began to sing.
‘Okay, I’ll stop talking now. Let’s go and grab something to eat. Although, I’ll be having the salad obviously.’ He put his hands on his hips and turned from side to side. ‘A girl has to think of her figure!’
The next day they met with the fellow agents and finalised what they were going to do. Canton got some ribbing about going out in a dress.
‘You’d better be careful that you don’t get a liking for it,’ one of the agents said. ‘You might end up like the queers in the bar.’ Brad frowned.
‘What dead,’ he said looking the bloke in the eye.
‘Yeah, well hopefully we’ll get these guys tonight. Don’t want any murders on my patch no matter who they kill.’
Brad heard Canton whisper, ‘asshole’ under his breath. He put a hand on his arm to stop him doing anything foolish. ‘We’ll meet you three blocks away. Canton will be inside. The owner of the bar has okayed the operation, reluctantly. He doesn’t seem to trust the local PD. I’ll go in the bar as well to see if either of our two perps actually enter the bar, and I’ll leave and take up my position before Canton does. Hopefully, we’ll get lucky tonight, but if not there are 3 other nights they’re supposed to be in town.’
‘I’m not sure that the boss will cough up for four days. We’ll just have to hope our boys have become confident enough to stick around a place after they’ve murdered someone. Perhaps they get a thrill from reading it in the local papers.’
The first night they struck out. Canton sat in the bar all evening waiting for the phone call to let him know that the men had been spotted nearby. The barman was called Randy and, judging by the nods and winks he got from some of the clientele, it was a name that suited him. Unlike Glitzy’s, this place had a back room. Several customers went away disappointed that it was closed that evening.
‘I really don’t know how women do this,’ Canton said again as he removed the make-up and false eyelashes. ‘And I’ve got to do it all again tomorrow.’ He pulled the dress over his head.
‘That’s quite a look,’ Brad said smiling. Canton stood wearing a cream silk camisole and stockings on a cream suspender belt, over white Y-fronts.
‘I do have a matching pair of cream French knickers,’ he said. ‘Perhaps I’ll try them tomorrow, over a jock strap. This silk feels really nice.’ He stopped suddenly. ‘Shit, what the hell was he doing? He was flirting with Brad and his cock was half hard already. This was one kink he had no idea about. Time for a cold shower or some time on his own. He really did need to get laid.’
The next night he sat on the stool at the bar once more. Brad sat in a corner trying to make himself as inconspicuous as he could but what he lacked in height, Brad more than made up for in width. There was a party of students playing pool in the corner. Others danced together, or sat drinking in pairs or groups. The bar attracted men and women, which made the atmosphere more pleasant, in Canton’s opinion. A man took the stool next to him.
‘Can I buy you a drink?’ a pleasant baritone voice asked. Canton turned around, half afraid that he’d come face to face with one of the killers. Instead, he found himself staring at the rather beautiful face in front of him.
‘Sure,’ he said. ‘I’ll have another of these.’
‘Another for the lady here and a whisky sour for me.’ The handsome face turned back to him. ‘I haven’t seen you in here before,’ he said. ‘I’m sure that I’d remember if I had.’ Canton found it odd to be chatted up as if he was a woman. Surely, this man didn’t think that he was, or was this part of the game?
‘No, I’ve only been in Philadelphia a few weeks. My name’s Kitty,’ Canton said. He could see Brad looking concerned over in the corner. He shook his head a little and Brad relaxed back into the seat, smiling because he’d realised that the guy was hitting on Canton.
‘Good to meet you, Kitty. My name is Jake. Perhaps we could spend a little quality time together and I could see if I can make you purr.’ Canton choked on his drink, spluttering its contents on the bar. Despite the cheesiness of the line his cock was paying attention.
‘I hope you don’t think that I’m the sort of girl who puts out on a first date,’ he said. Jake pulled his hand down to the bulge in his pants. ‘Not even for that,’ he whispered into Canton’s ear. ‘I bet your pretty mouth would look gorgeous with that in it.’
‘I’ve no doubt that it would,’ Canton replied. ‘Give it a minute and then follow me.’ He managed to stand up off the stool and walked as best he could to the corridor outside the restrooms. He waited for Jake to arrive. The man was practically undoing his trousers when he turned the corner.
‘Hold on, big boy,’ Canton said. ‘I’ve something I need to show you.’ He took out his badge.
‘Shit, please don’t arrest me. I’ve never done this before. I’ll give you whatever you want. If I get arrested I’ll lose my job.’ The man was panic stricken.
‘No doubt you have a wife and children at home as well,’ Canton said.
‘No, I’m single. I just wanted a bit of fun. I’m sorry, but well what was I supposed to think.’
‘It’s alright,’ Canton said. ‘I’m not going to arrest you. I’m dressed like this for a job. I’m under cover trying to catch a killer who is taking out drag queens. I just needed to tell you to back off that’s all.’
‘Thank God. I’ll get out of here.’
He was as good as his word. By the time Canton had used the restroom and returned to his stool Jake had gone. Brad got out of his seat and ordered another beer.
‘Looks like we’ve struck out again,’ he said. The bar phone rang. Randy nodded. Brad immediately left the bar and took up his position in the doorway opposite. He was just in time. Two men appeared in the shadows at the bend of the alleyway. He could hear them whispering. He pulled his gun out of its holster and hoped that the other agents were in place.
Canton swallowed the last of his drink and rose from his stool. He walked to the door, somewhat unsteadily, but in control. He didn’t want to be afraid but he knew that this could go wrong for him. He had to trust that Brad would know the exact moment. The humid air hit him when he walked through the doors into the alley. He pretended to bend down and straighten his stockings. He heard steps behind him.
‘Hello, gorgeous. I was just going in there for a drink. Perhaps you’d like to join me.’ He leant down and pulled Canton’s head up by placing his fingers under his chin. ‘Oh you’re a pretty one aren’t you,’ he continued. ‘I bet you can do wonderful things with that mouth of yours. I’ve got something here that would really love to find out.’ Canton allowed himself to be pushed against the wall.
‘That’s no way to treat a lady,’ Canton said.
‘You’re no lady,’ the man said as he reached in and pulled his cock out of his pants. He put Canton’s hand on the shaft and then turned them around so his own back was against the wall. He tried to push Canton down. ‘Go on, you know you want to suck it. That’s what you all want isn’t it?’ There was a sudden flicker in the man’s eyes and Canton realised that the other man must be somewhere behind him. He sensed him before he saw him and then the world went to hell.
For a while it was like everything moved in slow motion. Canton knew that someone was behind him as he knelt down with the other man’s cock in his hand. He had to make a quick decision. He could duck and hope that it was enough, he could hope that Brad pulled his gun out in time and the man stopped his swing, or he could put the guys cock in his mouth and hope that the movement forward, plus the guy not wanting his dick bitten off, might be enough to save his head from being pulverised.
Everything happened at once; he made his decision. He leant forward and put his teeth on the man’s cock. He glimpsed upwards making his intentions clear.
‘Nooooo,’ he heard his victim say as he closed his teeth on his target. Canton’s movement, and the man’s scream, was enough to take the strength out of the swipe as the killed tried to pull his attack.
‘FBI! Put the weapon down!’ Canton heard the words as the bat caught him, not on the head, but on his shoulder. He heard the crack of bone breaking and then the clatter of the bat falling to his side. He released the man’s cock and fell in front of him. He knew that there were people around him. He heard voices and saw lights from torches flicker in the alley. He heard Brad shouting and then asking if he was alright. He tried to move and the pain shot through his arm.
‘Canton, the ambulance is on its way. We’ve got them. I think you drew blood on one of their pricks. He’s screaming blue murder as if he’d lost it. Speak to me.’
Canton tried to push up with his good arm. ‘I’m okay,’ he said. He could taste blood and salt in his mouth. He spat it out onto the floor trying to get rid of any memory of where his mouth had been. He felt Brad’s hand on his shoulder gently feeling for damage. Canton heard a sharp intake of breath and knew that it was bad.
‘Did we get them?’ he asked.
‘Yes, we got them. The locals have taken them to the station, despite one of them saying that he needed medical treatment. I don’t think that they had any sympathy for his predicament. You took a chance there.’ Brad looked up as blue lights flashed on and off at the end of the alley. People were looking out of windows now and from the door of the bar.
‘Right, lady, let’s get you checked over,’ he heard the paramedic say.
‘It’s his shoulder,’ Brad explained. ‘I could feel a bone sticking out.’
‘His? Shit, sorry I didn’t realise. Umm, right we’ll get him on a stretcher and to the ER as quickly as we can.’
‘He’s FBI,’ Brad explained. Canton felt himself being lifted up and placed down carefully. The pain was bad and he felt himself beginning to drift away.
‘He’s undercover and just caught two nasty killers. I’m coming with him.’
‘Fine by me. Takes all sorts. I just patch ‘em up and get them into the docs.’
‘Good to have you back.’ Canton opened his eyes and saw Brad looking down at him. The room he was in was white. He tried to move.
‘Woe there,’ Brad said. ‘Just stay where you are. Your arm is in plaster. I hope you can use your left for things as well because your right is going to be out of action for a while. They operated straight away. It wasn’t quite a clean break as the bone splintered and they had to get all the bits out, but they think it’ll recover alright. At least he hit the arm and not the shoulder. I’m sorry I didn’t stop him in time.’
‘S’okay. At least we got them. Have they confessed? Have you seen them?’
‘Yeah, I sat in on some of the interviews. One of them caved straight away, the bloke whose cock you attempted to bite off. He said that he hadn’t killed anyone. He was just the decoy before the other one bashed them.’
‘Dry, can I have a drink?’ Canton said. Brad passed him a cup with a straw and he sipped a bit. ‘Did they say why?’
‘Our songbird talked about his Dad. Seemed he liked to wear women’s clothes and he got caught in public. His Mom knew all about it and lived with it but Pete 2, as we’re calling him, got bullied so badly that he ran away from home and hasn’t spoken to his parents since. After the first one, Pete 1 blackmailed him into the others, and he just followed. He was a bit sad really. Pete 1 hasn’t said anything. He’s been totally silent, except to say that no jury will convict him for killing fags. They’ve got to decide where we’re going to prosecute him now. He’s killed half a dozen people, but DC doesn’t have the death penalty and you know that support for the death penalty has fallen to less than fifty per cent according to the papers.’
‘I don’t agree with the death penalty either,’ Canton said emphatically. ‘Lock the bastards up for life. Death is too easy an out for them. Let their asses get used and abused as far as I’m concerned. We’ve got to make sure that they go down. Surely, if Pete 2 gives it up, that’ll put the other one away, even if we have to cut him a deal. Find out what the DA’s saying will you?’ He looked at his arm stretched out straight in the plaster. ‘Any idea how long I’m likely to be in this thing?’
‘The doc said anything from four to six weeks, so you might have it off for Christmas. Will you be able to manage at home on your own? You’re right handed aren’t you?’
‘Shit, I wanted to get in there an interview those bastards. I guess that’s not going to happen now.’
A nurse came in the door. ‘You’ve another visitor, but not for long. The meds are going to make you tired.’ Canton looked up to see Clare at the door. He smiled to mask a sense of disappointment. For a moment he half hoped that Jet had rushed to Phili to see that he was alright. As if she could read his mind Clare spoke. ‘He doesn’t know. We didn’t think that you’d want him to be told. You were adamant that it was over between you, and that Jet had made his choice, so you’ll just have to put up with me.’ She leant down and kissed his forehead.
‘Thanks Clare, you’ve come a long way to get here. I really do appreciate it.’
‘I hope you realise that I wouldn’t do this for everyone,’ she said. ‘I had to ask the First Lady for time off. Luckily, she likes me so I can give you a few hours and go back tonight on a late flight. How are you?
‘I’m alright. I was lucky he only got my arm, but I really want to get out of here,’ Canton said. ‘I want to make sure I vote on Thursday.’
‘And you should be able to do that, Agent Delaware,’ the doctor said as he entered the room. ‘You won’t be able to drive for a while, and you’ll need some physiotherapy, but it should be as good as new by the New Year. You can leave this evening as far as I’m concerned. We’ll sort out some meds for you to go with. You’ll need to have the plaster changed and the wound checked but you’ll be able to get that done anywhere. I understand that you caught a pair of killers. It’s nice to have a hero on the ward. However, I suggest that someone gets you something to wear as your dress is ruined!’
‘I’ll go and get your clothes from the motel,’ Brad said. ‘I’m sure that Clare will stay with you.’
Clare stayed for a while. Canton dozed on and off. ‘Sorry, I dropped off again,’ he said after the third occasion. ‘Clare, have you decided what you’re going to do after the election. Are you staying on with the Johnson’s after January?’
‘No, she asked me to stay as her personal secretary but I’ve had a better offer. Lorelei is doing a European tour after Christmas so I’m going to join her and act as her manager. You said I should see something of the world and we can be together.’
Canton reached out with his good hand and took hers. ‘Good for you. I must admit that I’m rather jealous. I hope you’ll be happy. At least you’ll be together.’
A few hours later and Canton was sitting in the back seat of Brad’s car on the interstate back home. He dozed most of the way. Laurie greeted them when they got back to DC and made up the bed in the den for him. She gave him a bell to use if he needed anything. He phoned his parents. He’d decided to go home for a while. His Mom was always saying that she didn’t see him enough. He could also see the rest of his family and it would be nice to do nothing for a while and get away from memories of Jet and all that had happened. He took a couple of days and spent most of the time sleeping. The DA in Baltimore had claimed the case and so both men were going to be tried there. It would be a while until the trial. Brad took him out to vote. He voted democrat, as usual. Even though he wasn’t impressed with Humphrey, he figured that he was a better choice than Nixon, although it looked like Nixon, who’d campaigned on a ticket that was about restoring law and order after the assassinations and riots, was going to win. In the end it was so tight that they had to wait until the next morning for Nixon’s victory to be declared. The key states proved to be California, Ohio, and Illinois, all of which Nixon won by three percentage points or less. Had Humphrey carried all three of these states, he would have won the election.
‘So a new era begins,’ Canton said. ‘Thanks for having me, Brad. I really appreciate all the help and how you’ve treated me since we partnered up. Hopefully, I’ll be back before Christmas and ready to go to work again. Just remember that I’m your partner if they give you someone temporary.’
Brad hugged him. ‘As if I’d work with anyone else!’
‘Boys, Canton’s cousin is here,’ Laurie yelled down to the basement den.
Both men climbed the stairs. It had been a while since Canton had seen his cousin, who was almost the same age as him. They’d been more like brothers when they were growing up. Paul looked like everything he was, an extremely successful New England lawyer. His suit was immaculate and expensive.
‘Can’t leave you alone for a minute,’ Paul said. ‘I’d better hug you as I can’t shake your hand. Your Mom and Dad are worried about you. I hope you’ve got a good appetite as I swear your Mom has made so many pies you’ll be eating them until Christmas. She’s so excited that you’re going to be there for Thanksgiving. It’s been a while.’
‘I know,’ Canton said resignedly. ‘Work has been a bitch.’
‘Ah, but you’re a hero now. Caught a serial killer I hear. I’d love to have prosecuted those two bastards. I hear you had to wear a dress to get them!’ He raised his eyebrows and smiled. Brad caught the look that passed between them and wondered if Paul knew about Canton’s sexuality. Canton shrugged his shoulder as best he could.
‘Right then, let’s get your suitcase packed and be off. I’ve got a meeting in Boston this afternoon. Big case looming and I want in. Thanks for looking after him, Brad, Laurie. I hope he wasn’t too much of a pain.’
‘It was a pleasure to have him,’ Laurie said.
Canton stepped out of the front door. ‘You bought an Impala!’ he said. The red car, with its hood down despite the sudden cold snap, sat on the driveway.
‘Isn’t she a beauty,’ Paul said. ‘You’d better sit in the back. I’ll put the top up now. I just wanted to show her off.’
A little while later they were on the interstate. It was going to be a long journey of around eight hours but at least the weather was dry, if cool.
‘So Canton, how’s the love life? Still chasing cock then?’
‘What! ’said Canton from the back of the car.
‘You heard me. Oh come on, Canton. Did you think that no-one knew that you liked men? Well, I’ve got news for you. Your Mom knows,’ Paul said.
‘What! My Mom knows! How the hell? Turn around and take me back to Washington!’ Canton seriously considered opening the car door and jumping out at that moment, prepared to risk breaking his other arm.
‘I overheard Auntie Sarah talking to my Mom just after you moved to DC. They were talking about you and some guy named Frank. Your Mom had found something when she was at your apartment in New York that time; you know when you took her to Broadway. There was some note that he’d sent you saying that he was sorry about how it ended between you. What happened?’
‘Shit! How did she seem? Was she angry?’
‘No, not really. She seemed a bit sad if anything. She was worried that you’d run away and wouldn’t be back, and that you might get into trouble with the law, which is ironic considering what you do. I don’t think she’s ecstatic about it, but she wasn’t crying or wailing, or threatening you with God, if that’s what you mean. So it’s true then; you are queer. Look, I don’t care where you want to put your cock. Normally, I’d say all the more women out there for me.’
Canton sat back in his seat not sure what to say. ‘Frank was the reason I left New York. We’d been together for a while but he was scared. He got married. He actually asked me to be best man at his wedding! I couldn’t stay around so I made a complete break and got the job in the White House.’
‘But you’re back with the FBI now aren’t you? So why did you leave the White House?’ He looked in his mirror and caught Canton’s pained expression. ‘Ah, another man I guess. So what happened with this one?’
‘His name is Jet. I met him when I started work; he’s another agent. We got together almost immediately but, like Frank, he’s not prepared to be different.’
‘And you are?’ Paul asked.
‘I don’t know. But I’m not prepared to be his bit on the side when he plays happy families with his future wife.’
‘You know how to pick ‘em, don’t you? I thought all you guys did was fuck each other stupid and move on. Why all the emotional stuff? Or is that just you? You sound like you want to settle down and get married or something.’
Canton raised his head and looked at the mirror. ‘That’s exactly what I want. I just want to be like everyone else but I like men, that’s all. I don’t see why I should face jail because of that. It’s not something that I have any control over and I’m not prepared to lie to some woman and have sex with men on the side. That’s not me.’ He paused for a moment. ‘Jet’s also black.’
‘Oh. You’ve been having sex with a man and he’s black. You know how to live dangerously don’t you?’ He saw Canton scowl. ‘Hey, once again I don’t care if you want to fuck someone who’s blue with purple spots. Is it true what they say about how well they’re endowed?’ Canton blushed. He tried not to but he could feel the flush of red covering his face.
‘So it is then. Good for you. But you say he’s getting married as well. You obviously know how to pick them. You should speak to your Mom. She worries about you and whether you’re happy or not. She really has baked more pies than you’ll ever eat, and she’s looking forward to having us over for Thanksgiving. Anyway, I’ve got some news as well.’
Happy to get the conversation off himself Canton said, ‘oh yeah, tell me more.’
‘I’m getting married. I’m bringing her to meet the family.’ Canton smirked. ‘Yeah, I know some woman finally pinned me down,’ Paul continued.
‘So who is this amazing creature who’s captured your heart? You do love her don’t you?’ Canton asked.
‘She’s called Cathy Monroe. She’s an assistant DA in Boston. And yes I love her. She’s amazing as well as talented, and sexy as hell.’
‘Hang on, don’t you work for Munroe and Simpson? Don’t tell me that she’s the boss’ daughter.’ Now, it was Paul’s turn to blush. ‘Yeah, she is and I’m not sure how the old man is going to take it. She’s an only child and the apple of his eye, and I haven’t got the best reputation in the world. We’re starting with my parents and then going to tackle hers. At least that’ll take some of the heat from you! So are you going to say anything to your Mom?’
Canton thought for a while. He wanted to tell his Mom but he had no idea about his Tad. He didn’t figure that an old cop like his father would take his only son being a queer very well. But he was quick to tell others that they should live how they wanted to live and damn the consequences, so perhaps it was time that he bit the bullet and did the same.
Two weeks later and Canton thought that he was going to die of boredom. There was only so much television a man could watch. He couldn’t get out far because of the cast. He’d read every book he could find in the house and he could feel his stomach expanding as he consumed more pies than he ever had in his life.
It felt odd to be back in his old bedroom. It overlooked the street and was on the third floor of the town house his parents had scrimped and saved to buy when they first got married. They’d had several unsuccessful attempts to produce a child before he was born. Canton didn’t know how many miscarriages his mother had had over the first fifteen years of their marriage. His father had kept himself busy working long hours in the Boston PD and risen to the position of sergeant. Many of his fellow officers were Irish so he’d exaggerated his Welshness just to be different. His Tad, as he was encouraged to call him in order to maintain the connection to their homeland, wasn’t a hands on father. When finally his mother had managed to carry a child full term, and then had such a bad experience giving birth that it had stopped her having any more, she had smothered her only child with love. She’d feared that every childhood illness would take him away from her. Canton had pushed so hard against it; he’d pushed against the burden of responsibility he felt, so that in the end he didn’t feel close to either of them. He’d known from a very young age that he was different. He’d often been unable to look at them because his mother was desperate to be a grandmother, and a grandchild was something he was never going to be able to give her, unless he lived a lie. There would never be a Canton Everett Delaware IV. So he simply put distance between them and visited less often.
He could hear his mother singing in the kitchen to her favourite Frank Sinatra songs. With a little while to go until Thanksgiving he knew that she was getting organised for the biggest family occasion for some years. It was nearly ten years since he’d been there with them. His mother’s sister and husband, Paul’s parents, would be there and Paul was bringing his fiancée as well. His father’s sister was also coming from Florida with her husband. Their children, Steven and Nancy were bringing spouses and children. No wonder that his mother was in seventh heaven organising for that many people. Canton was dreading it. Mostly, he was dreading the questions about when was he going to get married. He hoped that Paul bringing his fiancée might divert attention a bit. That his cousin was finally settling down had come as a surprise. Canton had seen him in a court and he was ruthless. He exuded confidence; in that he and Canton had been much the same. They’d been close as children, and done everything together, but Canton had never felt able to tell him that he was different. A big part of him was relieved that at least here was someone that he didn’t have to lie to anymore. That his mother knew was a little more complicated. Several times Canton had tried to start a conversation with his mother. He’d looked at her face, open and hopeful, and hadn’t been able to continue. He wasn’t sure why but mostly he thought that he didn’t want to disappoint her.
‘Mom, I need to get out of here for a while. I’m just going to walk down to the precinct and get a paper or something,’ he shouted from the main room.
‘Why don’t you join your Tad,’ she replied, coming into the room. ‘He’ll be in O’Malley’s, propping up the bar with his cronies, putting the world to rights. It’s not far to go so you should be alright there, and you’ll be able to rest your arm on the bar. Your Tad’s been dining out on you capturing those killers. You know that he’s really proud of you, don’t you?’
Canton wasn’t sure that he did know. His mom suddenly hugged him. ‘We’re both proud of you, working at the White House, and protecting people like you do.’ He felt tears welling up and brushed them away with his good hand.
‘Sure, I’ll go and hang out with Tad for a while. I could do with a beer. I’ll make sure that he’s back for lunch.’
Canton pulled on a woollen jacket. It was cold on the coast, certainly colder than Washington. He hated that he had to cut one sleeve so he could get things over the plaster cast. He couldn’t wait to get it removed.
The bar his father frequented was the one near the local precinct building of the Boston PD. He liked to hang out with the retired and serving cops who came in there to swap stories of cases. It took him about 10 minutes to get there and, although it was a pain trying to avoid hitting people, it felt good to get out for a while and breathe fresh, if cold, air. He sat on a bench before going into the bar just to compose himself. It was dark inside as he pushed through the door. The bar was down steps so there wasn’t much natural light. He saw his Tad immediately, leaning on the bar, talking to another grey haired man. He looked up when Canton managed to get himself through the narrow door into the bar and smiled. His father had lost most of his hair on top and Canton knew that he was going the same way. He still kept the beard and moustache though, and his eyes still had that twinkle. His face had sunken in a bit as his teeth were not good. He raised the beer in his hand and Canton nodded.
‘A beer for my son, Bobby, please.’ Canton took the stool next to his father.
‘It’s been a while, Canton. I don’t know if you remember me,’ the man next to his father said.
‘Of course I do; it’s Paddy O’Donnell isn’t it. You used to partner my dad.’
‘That’s right, son. Your father’s been telling us all about how you caught those killers in Phili and nearly got your head bashed in. So what’s it like working in the White House then?’
Canton spent a while telling them about how boring it was mostly and then about his trip to Britain. ‘Canton is just a part of Cardiff really, but it was good to see the homeland. Cardiff has just about every nationality you could think of, especially around the docks area. London was busy. I visited a few clubs and things.’ He noticed his Tad raise his eyebrows at that comment. ‘I also went up to Scotland. Now that is a beautiful place – all the mountains and lochs and Edinburgh is so old. The castles are amazing. You can’t believe that anything that old still exists.’
‘Mary and I always planned to get there some time, but I think we’re too old for all that travel now. Anyway, Canton, I’d better be off or Mary won’t be pleased. Nice to meet you again son, and I hope that arm gets better soon.’
They watched Paddy go. ‘Come and sit in a booth,’ Canton Senior said.
Canton wondered why his father wanted to do that but followed him. ‘You really did well catching those killers Junior, even if you did nearly give your Mam a heart attack. Mind you, it’s not the first time you’ve done that. And at least it’s brought you back here again. We haven’t had much time to chat since you’ve been home.’ Canton shook his head worried about what was coming next. Perhaps his mother had spoken to his Tad after all.
‘Rumour is that you caught the killer wearing a dress.’ His father left whatever he thought about that hanging in the air.
‘Yeah, well, the bloke was killing drag queens and no-one else volunteered. I don’t care what I had to do; I wanted the bastard behind bars. Don’t worry Tad; I don’t wear dresses as a rule. I haven’t got the legs for it. And have you ever tried to walk in heels. I don’t know how women do it.’ He watched as his father paused before speaking.
‘No, I didn’t think you made a habit of wearing dresses but you do like men, don’t you?’ Canton’s head jerked up so fast he cricked his neck as if he had whiplash. His father put a hand on his good arm. ‘It’s alright, son. I’ve known about it for some time but I think your Mam might know now. She’s tried to talk to me a few times.’ Canton looked down at the table and tried to control his breathing. He had no idea what was coming next.
‘Paddy told me ages ago. His nephew worked in New York. It seems that there were a few rumours about you back then, but you were such a good cop that no-one said anything. And then you left suddenly when that friend of yours got married. So is it true, son? Are you a queer?’
There it was, the question, finally out in the open. After all he’d said to Frank, and to Jet, he knew he couldn’t lie. He didn’t want to lie, not to his own father. He swallowed a mouthful of beer and looked his father in the eye. ‘Yes Tad, it’s true. I’m not going to lie to you anymore. If you want me to leave I’ll pack and ask Brad to come and get me and then I’ll go back to DC.’
‘Brad’s your partner in the FBI isn’t he?’ his father asked.
‘Yeah, he’s a good guy. He worked on the drag queen case with me,’ Canton explained.
‘And he knows about you?’
‘Yes, he does. I knew one of the victims. I’d been to the bar where she used to go. Never harmed anyone and had her head beaten to a pulp by some jerk who couldn’t handle the fact that a man had touched him. Dolores had class, and courage.’
‘Look son, I can’t say that this is easy for me, but you’re my only child, and I may not have said it enough, but I am proud of all that you’ve achieved. Your one of the good guys who stops the bad guys and I know that you’re good at what you do. I’m sorry that you won’t be able to get married or have children. Your Mam will be upset that she won’t be a Nanna but I’ve known a few queers in my time. Hell, I’ve shaken down a few bars where they hung out but I felt sorry for them more than anything that they wouldn’t know the life that I have. I don’t like to think of you living your life in secret and on the outside of everything. You’re my son, and your Mam is so excited about having you home for the holidays. I won’t disown you; I could never do that, but I can’t say I’d feel too happy about you bringing some man home either.’
‘Don’t worry, Tad. There isn’t anyone in my life at the moment. There was but he …… No there isn’t anyone, not anymore. And I am careful, Tad. I like my job and I’m good at it. I don’t want to lose it. But things are changing, Tad. When I went to Britain it wasn’t perfect but the law had changed. I didn’t choose to like men, believe me. It’s not a choice that anyone would make but I’ve always known that women did nothing for me.’ He looked at his watch. ‘Mam’ll be expecting us for lunch. She was making more pies when I left. And you don’t need to worry about telling her. Paul told me that she already knows; she and Auntie Molly were talking about me.’ He raised his head to look his father in the eye.
‘So are we alright, Tad?’
‘We’re alright, son. We’d better get off or your mother will think that I’m leading you into bad ways.’
Canton felt the weight of the world lift from his shoulders as he walked down the block with his father. He hadn’t known what to expect. He knew that his parents would be disappointed, but he was a grown up and they knew that he had his own mind. It could have been a hell of a lot worse.
A few days or so later the house was full of people. The turkey his mother had cooked would have fed the five thousand. In the middle of everything the phone rang. His father answered it and shouted to him. He was sat on the sofa with Paul and Cathy.
‘Canton, there’s someone called Jet on the phone. He wants to speak to you. Hurry up. Your mother is ready to serve dinner. Paul looked at Canton. ‘D’you want me to speak to him?’ he asked.
‘No, I’d better see what he wants.’ Canton got up. He was conscious that people could hear what he was saying. His father handed him the phone. He had a strange look on his face.
‘Jet,’ he said, somewhat sharply.
‘I don’t have much time. It is Thanksgiving you know and my mother is just about to serve. So say whatever it is you have to say and I won’t ask how you got my number, or knew where I was.’ Only Clare or Brad would know about his location, but he’d deal with that another time. Everyone else had gone into the dining room. Only Paul remained, waiting to see if he was needed.
‘I know its Thanksgiving. I heard what happened. I had to ring to find out that you were alright. You could have been killed, Canton.’ He could hear the concern in Jet’s voice but he couldn’t deal with it. The hurt was still too raw and he wanted this conversation over with as soon as possible.’
‘I’m fine,’ he said the anger clear in his voice. ‘I was lucky that he only broke my arm and not my head. I’m in plaster but it’s due to be removed in a few weeks. I should be able to go back to work before Christmas. My parents have been pretty good about having me around and, as I said, I’m supposed to be at the table now.’
‘Canton, I’m sorry.’
‘I know you are, but you being sorry isn’t going to change anything is it? You’re still going to marry Velma. I expect you’ll be moving back home soon. Are you going to work for Velma’s father?’
‘No, I’ve a few feelers out. I finish in the White House next week. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to talk to you from home…..’
‘So, this is it then. This is goodbye. Have a good life, Jet. I truly hope that you’ll be happy.’ He could feel the tears in his eyes and his arm dropped. Paul took the phone from him.
‘Canton, Canton, don’t end things like this, please.’ Paul put the phone to his mouth. ‘Hello, Canton’s had to go. This is his cousin, Paul. I’m going to put the phone down now.’ He waved Canton to go to the dining room and watched him go.
‘Don’t put the phone down. Please, tell him ….. oh, I don’t know. I wish things could have been different,’ Jet said.
‘So does Canton. He loves you, you know. He’s a good man, a really good man. I hope you know what you’ve lost. Have a good wedding.’ He put the phone down before Jet could say anymore and followed Canton into dinner.
Doing Thanksgiving with his family had been good. Paul had introduced Cathy to everyone. Unsurprisingly they thought that she was wonderful, because she was. Cathy was smart and funny but above all committed to her job. He heard his mother and auntie talking while they cleared away, so joined them in the kitchen, ostensibly getting beer for the men. They were talking about Cathy.
‘Things are changing, Mam, Auntie Jane; women are going out to work now. Cathy is obviously good at what she does. Think of how much society has lost because women like her were kept at home in the past. My friend Clare is always telling me how much things are changing and I for one hope that she’s right. Anyway, Paul needs a smart woman to keep him interested. If he just had a little woman stuck at home he’d be bored and restless. I can’t see that happening with Cathy, can you?’
‘He’s right, Sarah. Cathy is just what Paul needs. You and I would have loved the chances she’s had but we didn’t have the opportunity, or the money, and we need our bras too much to burn them now. Young women today really should try to have it all.’
‘You go back in Auntie. I’ll help Mam finish putting things away.’ Canton stood next to his mother, drying dishes and putting them back in cupboards. ‘I spoke to Tad,’ he said. ‘I told him about me, but he already knew, like you. Didn’t I fool anyone?’
His mother turned to him. ‘He was alright with you, wasn’t he?’
‘Yes, Mam, he was alright. I’m sorry you had to find out like you did. I wanted to tell you but I thought you’d hate me, or feel I’d let you down. It’s not the sort of thing that you can boast about, having a son who’s gay.’
‘Is that what they call it now?’
‘Yes, it’s more acceptable now to use the word gay. I wish I could do like Paul is doing and just be ordinary and get married,’ Canton continued.
‘Couldn’t you just choose not to be gay? I don’t know how this works. It seems to me that this Frank did that. You could get married and have kids and I could be a nanna.’ Canton could see the slight flicker of hope in her eyes. He hated to dash it but he didn’t want her to harbour even that small flicker.
‘It’s not a choice. Frank is still gay; he’s just married and gay, like lots of men. He’ll fall off the wagon and go looking for men. I can’t do that, Mam. I won’t mislead some nice woman who loves me enough to take me on and mess around behind her back. Even if it means I can’t have the life I want and live happily ever after. I have to be true to myself. Please say that you understand that. It means a lot to me not having to lie to you and Tad. I do realise how lucky I am.’
‘What about the FBI? If they find out they’ll sack you. You could even go to prison, Canton. Is it worth that?’
‘I don’t know, Mam. I’m not sure what I’d do. I hope that I’d be honest. Someone has to work to change things.’
His mother kissed his cheek. ‘Why am I not surprised? You always were too honest for your own good. Just try to grab some happiness along the way will you? I don’t want to think of you being all on your own. Now, come on. Let’s go and drink to Paul and Cathy.’
They tried to persuade him to stay for Christmas after he’d finally had the cast removed, but he wanted to get back into work. He was getting soft sitting around, eating and drinking too much. Brad was working on a drugs case. Someone was making and distributing LSD. A few people had died. One girl had jumped from a building claiming that she could fly. He had a lead on a possible mob connection linking New York to Vegas via Washington. Brad was liaising with someone undercover. It was a dangerous assignment for that person. So a week before Christmas Canton found himself back in his apartment, talking to Clare.
‘I’m leaving in January,’ Clare confirmed. ‘Lorelei is going on that European tour. She starts with a few weeks at Ronnie Scott’s in London.’
‘Oh I’ve been there,’ Canton said. ‘I’m going to miss you,’ he added. ‘I don’t know what I’d have done without you over the last year. I envy you seeing all those interesting places and meeting new people.’
‘You should try and meet some new people yourself, Canton. There must be someone out there who thinks like you do. Ricky said he’d be happy to introduce you to a few people.’
‘Hmmm, not sure that Lorelei’s brother would be the best person to find me someone suitable.’
‘You will come to Christmas dinner with us though. I’m doing turkey and all the trimmings. I don’t want to think of you all by yourself.’
‘I hope you don’t mind but I’m going to Brad’s, Laurie asked me a few weeks ago and I said yes. It’ll be good to be around kids opening presents. That’s alright, isn’t it?’
Clare pouted slightly and suddenly Canton got worried, then he smiled. ‘You’re kidding, right. You are kidding.’
‘Of course I am, Canton. You go and play happy families with Brad and Laurie. I’m sure that Lorelei and I will cope on our own, with just us. It’s sounding better by the second. Is it wrong to be thinking of eating turkey in bed?’ Canton pulled a face. ‘You do realise that the thought of two women in bed eating turkey doesn’t do it for me, don’t you?’
‘The turkey’s too much I guess!’ She grinned at him.
‘Yeah, that’s what it is. Just watch you don’t burn yourself on the gravy and be careful with the carrots!’
It was good being back in the swing of things with Brad. The case was really just waiting for the final take down. The undercover guy had the venue for the sting worked out. Apparently Christmas was a big selling time in the drugs game. Canton wasn’t frontline on the bust as he wasn’t quite up to speed, but his job was to take out the detective and treat him like everyone else so the gang wouldn’t notice.
They drank a lot of beer that night after the bust. It went exactly as planned which in itself was unusual. The undercover cop was due to be treated the same as the rest of the gang until he was going to disappear. The next day with a slightly sore head Canton got to ‘interrogate’ him.
‘How long were you in with them?’ Canton asked in the interview room.
‘Four months. Seemed like bloody forever. Now I get some time off and can kick back a bit. I’m off to see my folks in deepest Texas, where there are more cattle than people. I finally get to feel clean for a bit.’
‘Will you go undercover again? I hear you once did nearly a year to get some gang. That must have been tough.’
‘It was. You’ve lots of questions, Agent Delaware. Not thinking of volunteering for undercover yourself are you? You gotta be prepared to do things you couldn’t tell your mother about! Oh, hang on, I knew your name was familiar. Weren’t you the guy who wore the dress to catch that murderer in Phili recently?’
‘Yep, that was me, and I already do things my mother wouldn’t want to know about. But no, I’m not thinking of going undercover. I like what I do and I’ve only just got back from nearly getting my head bashed in.’
The guy tilted his head and looked at him. ‘I hear that you did more than just wear the dress. Not everybody would be prepared to suck some guys cock to take him down.’
Canton wasn’t sure what to say. ‘As you say, sometimes you have to do things your mother wouldn’t like. I’m curious to know how you knew.’
‘People talk Canton, and criminals gossip more than many. Morrisco was impressed at how far a cop would go to get his man. It turned him on to imagine getting a cop on his knees. He’s got a contact in Phili who told him, but I’m not sure who. They really had a good laugh about it. Most of them said that you should have bitten it off. Such dedication is rare, if you know what I mean. It’s interesting to find out what a cop will do if he has to. Believe me, I know. I guess this is us over with then. When I’m back in circulation I might give you a call, if that’s alright.’
Canton tried not to blush. ‘Just friends – yeah,’ the guy said winking. Canton didn’t even know his name. ‘I guess we all need friends in this job.’
‘Sure, that’d be good.’ Canton got up and went to the squad room. Brad was sitting at his desk trying to type up his report. He looked up when Canton sat down.
‘Interesting guy,’ Canton said. ‘I don’t know how he does it.’
‘He’s good. That was his third major drugs gang infiltration, but he won’t be doing that again. They get hooked on the danger sometimes, so they don’t let them do it forever. Still, Morrisco’s a bad man. As well as the drugs he ran women. Some of them were barely legal. Getting him off the streets will help send a message to others. So, are we sorted for Christmas Eve? You’re coming to stay with us then aren’t you?’
‘Yep, I’m looking forward to it.’ And it was true; he was looking forward to sharing Christmas with Brad and his family. It would certainly be different to last year when he’d sat on his own thinking of Jet and Velma. He jumped when the phone rang.
‘Agent Delaware,’ he said into the receiver.
‘Hi, this is Detective Steve McKenzie, from Baltimore. I don’t know if you remember me.’ The voice on the end of the phone sounded hesitant, almost scared.
‘Sure, Steve, you gave us the vital information that helped us catch the bastards. What can I do for you?’ Canton automatically took out a pen to make a note of whatever McKenzie wanted.
‘Ummm, I was wondering if you fancied getting a beer with me some time. Possibly even a meal. I’ve never been to DC, or you could come up here, if you wanted.’ He stopped for a moment and Canton put his pen down. ‘If I’m barking up the wrong tree I’ll get off now.’ Canton put his brain back into gear.
‘Sorry, just a bit surprised that’s all.’ He thought for a moment. McKenzie was cute if a bit young. Still, he needed to get out. ‘Do you like jazz?’ he asked.
‘I don’t know really but I’m willing to find out. So d’you want to meet up some time after Christmas?’
‘What are you doing New Year’s Eve?’ Canton asked. Brad looked up at him and smiled.
‘Going to a jazz club in DC with you I guess,’ Steve said. He had a nice voice Canton realised, a nice sexy voice.
‘That’s a date then. I’ll give you a ring. Give me your number.’ Canton wrote it down and put down the receiver.
‘Hot date for the New Year?’ Brad queried, smirking all over his face.
Canton cocked his head and smiled back. ‘It seems I have.’
Christmas for Canton provided both pleasure and pain. For Jet it was about fixing that smile while the lyrics of ‘Tears of a Clown’ ran through his mind. However for Clare it was about happiness, expectation and hope. Christmas could be heaven or hell for most people and that of 1968 was no exception.
On the morning Canton watched as his partner’s family opened their presents. He’d bought flowers for Laurie and promised that he’d stand Brad a beer or two at some time. It was easy just to buy gift tokens for the kids. Within thirty minutes of beginning the unwrapping, toys and clothes were scattered on the floor amongst the debris of wrapping paper and ribbon.
‘Can we set it up now, Dad? We could get in some races before eating.’ Brad looked at his wife who nodded. She knew that Brad would enjoy the Hot Wheels racing as much as his son. Canton watched as Dawnie sighed. She’d received her own record player so put on some Monkees and began singing to herself. Laurie disappeared into the kitchen.
Each took their turn racing the cars down the track and through the loops. It took some skill to keep them on and Canton discovered that he was rubbish, not that it worried him. Brad and Ricky continued their battles so Canton took himself off to the kitchen. The aromas coming from the room were fantastic. There was just something special about that smell of turkey and stuffing. Pans bubbled away containing all sorts of vegetables.
‘Can I do anything?’ he asked.
‘No, it’s all in hand. It won’t be long. I hope you’ve got a good appetite because I always make too much, and this bird is huge.’ She turned to stir the gravy again. ‘Have you spoken to your parents yet?’
‘No. I’ll ring them later when they’re back from my Auntie’s,’ Canton explained. ‘Thanks for inviting me again. It’s been a while since I had a family Christmas. Last year I was working. Come to think of it that kinda sums up my last few Christmases. Still, someone has to do it. Crime doesn’t stop for the holidays, unfortunately.’
Laurie turned around again. ‘Brad told me that you’d told your parents about being gay. That must have been a relief for you.’
Canton smiled and snorted. ‘Yeah, it was, but they already knew, both of them, but hadn’t talked to each other. I think they both wish that things were different, and that I was part of a happy family with kids, but that’s not going to happen.’
‘Does it bother you? You know, the not having kids bit. I think that must be the hardest thing if you’re a homosexual. Is that a word I can use?’ Both of them could hear Brad and Ricky from the other room and their eyes met.
‘I suppose I could have married some woman, had children, and lived a lie for the rest of my life like my ex-boyfriend Frank, and now Jet is doing, but that isn’t me. I know that Jet thinks he loves Velma, and he probably does, but he won’t be able to ignore his true nature forever.’ Canton had a sudden image of the man sat at the dinner table with his parents or Velma’s parents, or perhaps both sets, smiling at them all. He wondered if Jet had thought about him at all today then shook himself. He knew that he needed to stop torturing himself like this but he couldn’t seem to stop doing it. Laurie began to put things into dishes.
‘Tell them I’m about to serve would you?’ Canton went through to the other room and the only thing he thought about for the next hour was how much food he could stuff into himself and still breathe.
The days between Christmas and New Year were spent collecting evidence about a major fraud case involving an organised gang making bogus claims. They were getting closer to being able to prove that the same group of people were behind insurance claims all over the country. So far they’d collected well over a million pounds claiming medical injuries which they didn’t have. They were working with insurance firms and private eyes who’d gathered evidence that men who supposedly couldn’t walk were able to play golf quite easily. It made Canton wonder about becoming a PI in future, especially if things got difficult for him. It was an option to move away and start again somewhere new. Perhaps he could go to San Francisco and wear flowers in his hair. He stroked his head and laughed. There was less of it all the time for his lovers to run their fingers through.
As New Year’s Eve got nearer Canton felt himself getting more nervous. He should have arranged to meet Steve out of town. That would have been a much more sensible plan than going to Glitzy’s. They could have found somewhere to eat and a motel, booked adjoining rooms and let nature take its course. It would probably be too late now as it was New Year. Still, at least the cops had stayed away from Glitzy’s since the murder. He had no idea what to expect from Steve. He was young, too young probably, and much younger than Canton.
‘Shit, what if I’m his first?’ Canton said out loud as he looked in his mirror to shave. ‘What if he’s asked me out to practice on?’ However, he had to admit that he felt a little frisson of excitement run through him. Steve was a good looking man in that puppy dog, eager to please sort of way. It had been a while since Canton topped so it might be fun to try that again. They were going to meet at Canton’s apartment.
He jumped when the buzzer sounded even though he was expecting it. They’d decided to go to get something to eat and then go to the movies. It was like a proper date. He collected himself together and took the stairs two at a time. He’d put on a warm coat. So far the winter had been wet rather than snowy but you never knew. Steve was just as he remembered him when he opened the door. God he was young. His face displayed eagerness and nervousness at the same time and Canton, not for the first time, wondered what on earth he could want with an older man like him, except the obvious. He was hardly love’s young dream! Canton smiled encouragingly and was rewarded when Steve’s eyes lit up as he held out his hand. ‘Good to see you again, Canton.’
‘You too, Steve. Your call came as a bit of a surprise.’
‘A good one, I hope.’
‘Me too. This is certainly an improvement on my original plan to just stay home, watch the TV and get drunk. I thought we’d get burgers. There’s a place around the corner and the movie house isn’t far from there. Bullitt is still on. I don’t suppose you’d object to watching Steve McQueen in the dark for a while!’
Steve looked each way before he spoke. ‘We are going to that bar after aren’t we?’
‘Yeah, we are. I know since the murder that the boys in blue have left it alone, so it should be pretty safe. I bet it’s interesting on New Year’s Eve.’
The diner was quieter than usual so they got a booth in the corner and sat adjacent to each other. Both men felt a little uneasy. They talked about the case Steve had helped him and Brad to solve and how Canton was recovering from his injuries. It was a general chat just like two buddies who hadn’t seen each other for some time might have. Steve was easy to talk to as they tucked into their burgers and fries.
‘So what did you do for Christmas?’ Steve asked between bites.
‘Brad, my partner. You met him, remember?’
‘Oh yeah, the big blond quarterback,’ Steve said with a glint in his eye.
‘That’s him. I had dinner with his wife and kids. It made a nice change from working on the day which is how I’ve spent most Christmas Days. What about you?’ Canton asked.
‘I stayed with my folks for a few days back in Andrews, Texas. You’ve probably never heard of it. I’ve two sisters, both younger than me. Mary Sue is at UT and Joanne is a senior at High School. My Dad’s a carpenter; he can turn his hand to anything really.’
‘So how come you’re a cop then?’ Canton asked.
‘My Uncle Sam,’ he said laughing. ‘Yeah, I know but my Mom’s brother is called Sam. He’s been a cop in Baltimore for years and put in a good word for me. I wanted to get to a big city for obvious reasons and this gave me a chance to get out and see a bit of the world. What about you?’
‘My Dad is a cop and his Dad, in Boston. We moved down from New Hampshire when I was very young.’
‘Any brothers or sisters?’ Steve asked.
‘Nope, just me. My Mom says that I broke the mould.’ Steve leaned in and looked around. ‘Do they know about you?’ he asked.
‘Yeah, they know, but only recently. I’m guessing that your family don’t.’
‘No way! I’m from Texas. Everyone knows that there aren’t any queers in Texas! My parents would disown me or drag me to the minister to exorcise the demons inside me if I told them. Mom’s forever suggesting one girl or another. I keep up the pretence by telling them that I’m taking girls out in Baltimore. Any time they look like turning up I say we’ve broken up. They think I’m a stud sowing my wild oats which couldn’t be further from the truth. Thankfully, I have sisters who’ll provide the grandchildren with any luck.’ Canton looked away for a moment. Steve caught the look. ‘I guess that must be hard for your Mom and Dad.’
‘They haven’t said anything and I have lots of cousins, but yeah I guess it’s tough for them to know. I’m the third Canton Everett Delaware and now there won’t be a fourth. Eat up we need to get going.’
The movie had been the all action blockbuster they’d expected. Occasionally their thighs would touch but there was no surreptitious touching of hands, or anything else. The cab dropped them a few blocks away from Glitzy’s, just after 9.30. Canton pushed through the door. The drab, quiet, unassuming outside gave way to a grotto. There were lights everywhere and tinsel of all colours hanging from every surface. It was fancy dress night and Canton stood still for a moment wondering if they should stay until Rick the barman shouted, ‘Eddie, nice to see you again.’ He turned to look at Steve whose mouth was open wide taking it all in. There were quite a few men in dresses, and many tarts or vicars. Others were dressed as wizards or ghouls. There was a group with a Dorothy, tin man, lion and scarecrow.
‘We’re not in fancy dress,’ Steve whispered.
‘Don’t worry, kid. It’ll be alright.’ As they walked to the bar both had feather boas placed around their necks. Steve wound his around like he was wearing an old school tie.
‘Who’s you friend?’ Rick asked.
‘Steve, my name’s Steve.’
‘Well any friend of Eddie’s is a friend of mine. In the same line of business are you? You’re definitely not from here though. I’d say that accent is from the Lone Star State. You’re a way from home, son.’ Steve looked curiously at Canton. ‘Eddie?’ he queried.
‘Yeah, here that’s who I am. Two beers please Rick. Busy in here tonight. Have the locals been any bother since Dolores?’ Canton took a mouthful of beer and sat on the stool. Steve leaned back against the bar and took in the scene in from of him.
‘I expected it to just be men,’ he said. ‘Some of them are women aren’t they?’ Both Canton and Rick laughed.
‘You wanna be careful if you can’t tell the difference, son,’ Rick said. Someone took their position at the mike and began to sing. The drag queen had a beautiful voice. Unlike Dolores Canton could see that she was young. Steve might have been forgiven for assuming she was female.
‘That’s Candy,’ Rick said. ‘She started coming in a few weeks back. Amazing face, and man can she sing. Wait until she sings ‘Over the Rainbow.’ They listened as she sang ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’ in that breathy way Marilyn Monroe used to do.
‘She’s beautiful,’ Steve said as he stared. Canton suddenly realised that he’d brought this young man to a sweet shop and that he was greedy to try all it had to offer. He was, after all just a boy from Texas who’d come to the big city. Canton doubted that he’d ever seen anything like this. Canton watched as customers began to flock around Steve. He was extremely handsome, with those blonde locks and deep blue eyes. He wasn’t built, being more on the slim side, but that body held promise that not only Canton noticed. Steve, however, didn’t stop watching Candy. When she finished her second song she came over to the bar and perched elegantly on a stool. Canton nudged Steve. ‘Go on buy her a drink,’ he said.
‘But I’m here with you,’ Steve replied. Canton laughed. ‘I think we both know that you prefer Candy. If that’s what you want kid, I’d suggest you buy her anything she wants.’
‘Try this, son,’ Rick said handing him a long concoction full of fruit. Fifteen minutes later and Canton knew that Steve wouldn’t be coming home with him. He left them to it and turned back to Rick.
‘Seems my date has exotic tastes, and I know that I look lousy in a dress. Oh well may as well have a proper drink then. I’ll have a Glenmorangie please, straight up.’
‘Coming up.’ Rick poured the drink. ‘Funny, I thought you were with that good looking black guy you came in with a while back.’
Canton sighed. ‘So did I, but he’s gone back home to get married.’
‘Oh,’ Rick said. ‘I’m sorry.’ He poured another whisky without asking. ‘Nearly time for 1969.’
Canton felt a tug on his sleeve. ‘Candy lives around the corner. We thought we’d have our own New Year celebration, if you don’t mind,’ Steve said sheepishly. Canton noticed that they were holding hands. It made him feel strangely warm inside and also very old. ‘Go on but be careful,’ he said. ‘Call me in the morning.’ He was definitely turning in to an old man. Steve leaned in and kissed him. ‘Thanks, Canton and I’ll call.’
‘Looks like you and me then,’ he said turning back to Rick. As the clock struck twelve bringing in 1969 Canton wondered if Jet was kissing his wife to be to welcome in the year. He remembered the feel of Jet’s body pressing his against that wall the year before, and the touch of those lips on his mouth. He realised that he’d never felt so alone in his life.
January 1969 settled into a pattern for Canton. Work was busy but Canton felt restless and unable to get his teeth into anything. He did his job, but that was all. He could see that Brad wanted to ask but he didn’t because he now knew his partner well enough to already know the answer. Two things were getting nearer for Canton. The first was Clare leaving at the end of the month which meant that he would be losing his best friend and confidant. She’d been busy at the White House as the Johnson’s moved out and the Nixon’s prepared to move in, so he’d hardly had time to talk to her, and for some reason they’d both stayed away from discussing the elephant in the room. Clare was full of excitement because she was going to Europe for the first time and she would get to be with Lorelei.
The period between the election and the inauguration was often strange, like a phoney war when nothing happened. The country was hopeful that troops would be withdrawn from Vietnam. Protests had grown, and certainly the US was having little success. The reports on television offered no comfort to anyone who had relatives in the forces, and by this time troop numbers had reached over half a million. More and more young men had come home in coffins draped with the stars and stripes.
The second thing looming on Canton’s horizon was, of course, Jet’s wedding. The nearer it got the more Canton thought about it, and then the more he drank to try to forget. When he wasn’t working he either propped up the bar at O’Malley’s or he ventured into Glitzy’s, as the mood took him. He knew that he was taking more and more risks but Glitzy’s had distractions beyond drink and he’d indulged himself a few times. Each time he hoped that he’d forget by losing himself in another form of oblivion other than alcohol, but he didn’t. Each touch reminded him of Jet. There was no kissing involved in the encounters he’d had, and he missed the intimacy of someone looking at him with love in their eyes. Having someone you’ve just met suck you off in the john might work for some men but not for him, so in the end he mostly became even friendlier with his own hand and let his imagination do the rest.
‘Coffee,’ Brad said placing the mug of dark liquid in front of him. It was black and strong just as he liked it, and it made him think about Jet. ‘Geez, even coffee reminded him of the man.’
‘You look like shit,’ Brad said. ‘People are beginning to notice, Canton. You’ve got to get yourself sorted. You can’t go on drinking like you are. I can still smell it on you some mornings.’ Canton knew that Brad meant well but he didn’t understand. He had Laurie and his kids, and a lovely house full of love and noise, and even if he offered to share those with Canton it could still be a lonely place. He clutched his coffee and didn’t reply; he didn’t even want to look Brad in the eye. The man had been good to him and he knew that he was letting him down.
‘We’ve got to go and interview this guy over the other side of the city,’ Brad continued. ‘His warehouse was broken into last night. The boss reckons it may be this gang from out of state. I need you to focus, Canton. This is the tough love bit. I’m not prepared to carry you forever because your personal life is shit. Now, drink that and we’ll get going.’
Canton did as he was told. He didn’t want to talk about it. He had no defence; Brad was right. There’d been a few mornings when he shouldn’t have driven into work because he was still drunk. He was getting more reckless as well. A few nights ago, bored of his own hand and desperate for company, he’d gone home with some stranger because he looked like Jet. The guy had fucked him hard and then told him to leave at two in the morning as he didn’t want him there for breakfast. He’d had about two hours sleep and felt every one of his 30 odd years the next day. He’d heard the whispers around the squad room. He knew that he had dark circles under his eyes, and if he wasn’t careful his nose would grow red and bulbous as those of drinkers usually did.
The interview at the warehouse didn’t take long. The gang had appeared, knocked out the night watchman, stolen the TV sets and left. It was very quick and very organised. The sets were then sold across the country through a distribution network that they were still trying to pin down. After they found a burger stand and ate in the car with the heater on. It was around freezing and there was snow in the air.
‘So is Clare all ready to go yet?’ Brad asked before tucking into his burger and fries.
‘Yeah, she’s due to leave next week after the inauguration on the 20th. Lorelei’s performing in Paris so she’s going to meet her there. She’s very excited.’
‘I’m not surprised. I’ve never been to Europe. I’ve hardly been out of DC except for work. I did take Laurie to Vegas once. We saw Sinatra. It was an amazing experience. She’d love to see a show on Broadway.’
‘Let me know when,’ Canton said. ‘I still have some contacts who could get you cheap tickets. I also know some places where you could stay for a reasonable price.’
‘Sounds good. I’m not a fan myself but Laurie loves all those things. I’d love to go up the Empire State though. If the price is right we could take the kids and show them the city that never sleeps.’
They sat for a while eating and drinking, watching the steam rise from the van as people huddled in the queue.
‘Have you heard anything from Steve since New Year?’ Brad asked just to fill the quiet.
‘He’s applied to be a detective,’ Canton replied. ‘He’s hoping to get down here this weekend to see Candy. You know, the guy he met on our date.’ Brad raised his eyebrows and Canton laughed. ‘It turns out that Candy is an accountant called Andy and just as good looking without the dress. I just hope he’s careful. He’s still young and he sounds kinda smitten.’
In the end, against his better judgement, Canton met Steve and Andy for a drink. ‘You’re right,’ he said as they got drinks from the bar. ‘His is just as good looking without the dress.’ Andy was wearing a dark suit. He looked much more like the accountant he was, even though his face had a more feminine quality. It was hard for Canton to put his finger on why. Perhaps it was just the shape; it was almost perfectly symmetrical. Or maybe it was the fiery red hair which threatened to escape the Brylcreem that was attempting to keep it under control. Or maybe it was the full pink lips. Or it could even be that scattering of freckles across an otherwise alabaster skin. Whatever it was he could see that Steve couldn’t keep his eyes off the man, or his hands. Canton watched somewhat enviously as Steve stroked Andy’s thigh under the table. When Steve went to the bathroom Canton took his chance to have his say.
‘Look, I know Steve is an adult but he’s pretty new to all this. I don’t know very much about you, or your history. I know you like to dress in women’s clothing and that you scrub up well, but you’ve got to realise that Steve is a cop. You two are breaking the law so you need to be careful.’
Andy looked annoyed. ‘What, you think I don’t know that. I work for a bank. I don’t think they’d be pleased to have a drag queen doing their figures. I like Stevie; I like him a lot, but I know he’s slightly naïve, and at the moment he’s fascinated with me. I’m not sure if we have a chance to be together, or if he’ll want to sow some wild oats. I’ve been around a few blocks in my time and tried a few things. I’m the first man he’s slept with so I’m just going to hold on and cross my fingers that if he does stray he’ll come back.’ Canton nodded his head. He noted the smile the redhead gave when Steve returned. He wasn’t sure who had it worse between the two men. He decided he’d had enough of playing gooseberry.
‘I think I’ll get off and leave you two to it. Take care in public. Talk about sports loudly or play a game of pool.’ Steve laughed. ‘What about them Redskins?’ he said.
The inauguration took place on the Monday after. As always there was a cavalcade of cars through the streets. Security was tight and by the time they arrived at the Capitol building the crowd was pretty big. The ceremony took place on the specially constructed platform in the East Portico. It was built from scratch for every swearing in of a new President. Canton watched on the TV like millions of other Americans. The oath was administered on two Bibles belonging to the Nixon family by Earl Warren, the Chief Justice.
As Nixon began his address, with his wife by his side, Canton looked at the people on the dais behind him. It was then that he noticed him, dressed in a black coat, and next to another man dressed identically. Canton looked again just to be sure. He rubbed his eyes. He wasn’t mistaken. There, obviously on duty, was s back in Washington, back in the White House. Canton couldn’t help hoping. Perhaps the wedding was off. Perhaps he and Velma had had a row and Jet had come to his senses, but for whatever reason he was back in DC. Canton knew that he had to find out what had happened, and if there was any chance that Jet had changed his mind. He didn’t hear the rest of Nixon’s words about shaping the future, going into space and the possibility of peace. His only thought was about talking to Jet, meeting him, feeling him, touching him, loving him, and finally hearing those words he’d imagined so often in his dreams.Jet. Somehow he wa
‘I couldn’t do it. I came back, Canton. I came back for you!’
There is a spoiler in the notes at the end.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
‘How long have you known? ’Canton asked. Clare looked at him. Why had she thought she could get away with not telling him? Jet had returned to DC just after New Year. He hadn’t been able to get a decent job back home. Despite all the acclamation for Martin Luther King’s dream, being black in the south meant men still called you ‘boy’ and the police weren’t keen to employ you. Jet had status in the White House, and the pay was good. Somehow, he told Clare, he would work things out with Velma.
She really didn’t want to say what she knew she had to say. She knew that Canton was looking at her with hope in his eyes and she was about to take that small, fragile thing and stab it to death.
‘He told me not to tell you. I’m sorry. I thought it was for the best, Canton. You know that he’s getting married. I didn’t want to open an old wound.’
Canton sank down onto the sofa. He was a man and a cop and cops didn’t cry. Instead he wanted to hit something, to tear something apart and rip it into tiny pieces so it was just like his heart felt at that moment. But there was still that knowledge deep inside that he wanted to see Jet; that he had to see him. He just couldn’t let it go.
‘D’you know if he’s still in the same apartment?’ he asked casually.
‘I don’t think he is but I don’t know for certain. I didn’t ask him because I didn’t want to know, just in case.’ She sat down next to him. ‘Please Canton, give it up. He’s made his choice. Somehow, you’ve got to get him out of your system.’
‘I need a drink,’ he muttered.
‘And that isn’t helping either,’ Clare added. He turned to look at her. She moved back shocked by the anger in his expression.
‘What the hell do you both expect?’ he shouted. ‘I love him. Doesn’t anyone get that? I love him like you love Lorelei and Brad loves Laurie. I miss him, and I know that he loves me and, and ……. it’s just so bloody unfair! Just because some bloody book says it’s wrong for us to be together. Why is the law allowed to tell me who I can love?’ Clare took his hand hoping to calm him.
‘Canton, you know that I agree with you. I’m going to Europe to be with my love. My parents don’t understand why I’ve given up a good job. I had to tell then that Lady Bird didn’t need me anymore and that I wanted to see a bit of the world before I settled down and got married. You know that Brad agrees with you as well but this is America and I can’t see things changing quickly enough for you. What are you going to do?’
‘I don’t know. It’s like I could reach out and touch him he’s so close. I want to give it one last attempt. The wedding is three weeks away.’ Clare sighed but she knew there was no point in arguing.
Canton had to wait until he had some time on his hands. He knew the entrance Jet would use so he parked his car and waited for the usual starting time. If Jet wasn’t on this shift then he’d come back. He was early but he knew that Jet often came in at least 30 minutes before. After a while a man tapped on his window.
‘Wind it down please, Sir,’ he heard a voice say. Canton turned.
‘Geez, it’s you, Canton.’ He looked up and saw one of the agents he’d worked with. ‘Hi Mac, I’m just doing an observation, FBI business, you know, based on information received.’ He hoped that Mac would accept this explanation.
‘That’s fine. I just had to check you out.’ Canton tried to be casual. ‘Is Jet Peterson in this morning?’ he asked.
‘Jet? No, he should be on his way out soon though. He was on overnight. I think he’s back tonight as well. D’you want me to give him a message. I know that you two were tight once.’
Canton ignored to implication of those words. ‘No, it’s fine. I’ll see if I can get hold of him. How’s things? D’you expect many changes?’ They talked for a bit and then he saw Jet pull up to the gate and wait for it to open. He looked at his watch.
‘Looks like I’ve got nothing here,’ he said. I’ll be off. I’ll see you at O’Malley’s perhaps.’ He turned his car around and followed at a discreet distance until Jet stopped in front of a medium side apartment building in the east of the city. Canton watched him go in. He wouldn’t go after him now. He needed to think what to do and the man would be tired after his shift. But at least now he knew where Jet would be.
A few days later he took Clare to the airport. She was flying to New York and then on to Paris. He would miss her so much.
‘I’ll write Canton, and send you photographs of all the exotic places we visit.’ They hugged at the gate looking to all the world as if they were a couple being parted for some reason.
‘I’ll miss you,’ he shouted when she turned to wave.
‘I know; I’ll miss you too. Don’t do anything stupid when I’m gone.’ She blew him a kiss, turned, and within seconds she was gone and he felt more alone than ever.
It was now two weeks before the wedding and he’d made his plans carefully. If he was right Jet would be at home when he called later. He showered, cleaning everywhere. He’d been to the barbers and had a shave and haircut. He put on his best suit. He wanted to look good. At 6.30 he got to the outside door of the building. Someone came out and he took his chance and went in then. He climbed the stairs to the apartment. Jet was listed in the entrance as living in number nine on the third floor. Canton knocked hard enough to be heard and nervously brushed his hair with his hand before putting it in his pocket and trying to strike a confident pose.
Seconds later the door opened. For a moment both men said nothing. Jet was dressed in sweat pants; his t-shirt had patches of damp at the chest and under the arms. His forehead was also damp. He’d obviously been exercising when Canton knocked. Canton deliberately took a deep breath and felt giddy. Jet smelt so good and he wanted to press his face into that broad chest and lick the sweat from his armpits. He shook himself back to reality when Jet spoke.
‘Canton, what the hell! How did you find out I was here. I didn’t tell Clare.’ He sounded angry.
Canton tilted his head and smiled a small smile. ‘I’m FBI, Jet. I have my ways. Can I come in?’ He didn’t really wait for an answer but Jet let him come past and closed the door behind him.
‘Are you going to offer me a drink?’ Canton asked. He sat down on the sofa. ‘You look like you could do with one yourself!’
‘Yeah,’ Jet answered, his expression confused. ‘I’ve been doing press ups. It helps me to relax after work. Look, I need a shower. There’s beer in the fridge. Help yourself. I won’t be long.’
It took nearly all of Canton’s will power not to follow him into the bathroom. He could feel himself getting hard as he imagined the water trickling down over Jet’s dark skin, over his shoulders and down his back until it dripped from the slight curve of his ass to the floor. He imagined licking just one of the drops, whilst standing behind him, reaching around, touching him, kissing the back of his neck. Shit, he needed to stop. The bulge in his pants was more than obvious now.
Ten minutes later Jet came out dressed in black pants and grey sweater. His hair glistened with water, although Canton knew that it wouldn’t take too long to dry. Suddenly he was parched and he reached down for the beer.
‘I suppose it would be a stupid question to ask what you want.’ Jet said impatiently.
‘Probably,’ Canton replied. ‘I saw you on TV at the inauguration. I thought you might have changed your mind and that the wedding could be off. I had to find out if there was any chance.’
It happened in seconds. One moment Canton was talking and the next lips covered his own and pressed him backwards. He felt Jet’s tongue push into his mouth and his hands reach under to pull out his shirt. He could feel the other man’s erection pressing against his own. As the kiss continued, and his own tongue fought back, he pushed up Jet’s sweater and caught a nipple between his fingers. He was rewarded with a groan that went straight to his groin. They broke apart briefly and Canton pulled the sweater over Jet’s head. For a moment he looked at the firm, hairless chest, the dark brown nipples and the almost perfect set of stomach muscles. He breathed in sharply. He’d somehow forgotten just how beautiful Jet was. He leant forward again and nipped and kissed at Jet’s neck and throat, taking care to leave no tell-tale marks. He felt Jet undoing his shirt and he helped to remove it by shrugging his shoulders.
Canton explored every muscle and every inch of flesh anew. He couldn’t get enough and he wanted more. He didn’t care if this wasn’t forever; it was for now. He needed to feel Jet inside him like he needed oxygen to breathe. The sweat pants pulled down easily. Jet wasn’t wearing anything else. That much had been obvious earlier. Somehow Canton manoeuvred them both until Jet was on his back on the sofa. He released his Jet’s cock from his pants and wrapped his lips around the head. It was like coming home, like rain after a drought, complete with thunder and lightning. This was right; this was perfection.
Both men moaned their appreciation at the same time. Canton ran his tongue up and down over each vein, almost as if he was checking that nothing was different. He could feel Jet’s strong hands in his hair, slightly tugging, and then pushing him to take his cock further into his mouth. He did so until he could feel it at the back of his throat and then back up again, taking hold of the base while he swirled his tongue around the tip, tasting the fluid that was now leaking out.
‘Fuck Canton, I’ve missed this so much. I’ve missed you.’ Canton looked up and their eyes met. He knew that he saw love there. It wasn’t just something that he imagined because he wanted to see it. That look was real, that love was real and for now it was his and he wanted it all. He reached up and felt the muscles in Jet’s chest and abdomen. They rippled under his touch. He could feel that Jet was getting close but Canton didn’t want him to come like that. He pulled back and looked up.
‘I want you to fuck me. Let’s go to bed, please.’ Canton got up from the sofa and held out his hand to pull Jet up. The other man managed to pull up his pants before they caught and sent him falling into Canton’s arms. He ended up there anyway. Canton pulled him close then kissed his neck and throat nipping at the skin, tasting his lover once more.
‘Bed,’ Jet said simply. He pulled Canton towards the bedroom. Once there he pushed him down on the bed and reached in the drawer for the lube. Canton smiled knowing what was coming. His trousers and briefs were removed in double quick time. He pulled his knees as far apart as he could, presenting himself to Jet.
‘Who’s an eager boy then?’ Jet said taking his time to position himself.
‘You should take it as a compliment. I’m not playing hard to get, I’ll give you that.’ Jet squeezed some lube onto his fingers and pressed it against Canton.
‘Shit, that’s cold,’ Canton said as Jet slowly pushed his finger in with little resistance. A second soon joined it and pressed until he found that little bundle of nerves. Canton almost shot off the bed as Jet pressed and then pushed his fingers over that spot again and again. He groaned his appreciation as Jet pushed in a third.
‘I’m ready,’ Canton said in frustration. ‘Stop teasing and start fucking!’ Jet handed Canton the tube and pushed his cock towards his lover. Canton took in a breath as he saw it in full standing erect and proud. He hurriedly put the lube on his hands and rubbed it all over Jet.
‘Enough,’ he said and swung his legs over Jet’s wide shoulders. ‘Take me; I’m yours!’ He put his hand across his forehead like some tragic heroine. Jet laughed and then briefly wondered if it would be this good with Velma. Canton was sexy and fun. Jet knew that they were so good together. He pushed his cock slowly into that warm, tight space. It was like coming home, so familiar and so good. Soon he was buried balls deep. He looked at the man underneath him asking without speaking.
‘Hard,’ Canton said. ‘I want to be feeling this tomorrow.’ He actually meant that I want to be feeling this forever but he wasn’t going there. Jet pulled out and then slammed back in time and time again. Canton wrapped his hand around his own cock but didn’t stroke very hard. He wanted this to last as long as possible. He took in every inch of Jet’s face as he pushed in over and over. He heard every grunt and every groan and made a few of his own. Jet had taken him at his word and their bodies slapped together amongst the other noises. Eventually Canton knew that he couldn’t hold back anymore. He was going to come. He felt it build from his balls until it finally emerged sending white liquid between them all over his own chest. The contractions in his ass sent Jet over the edge and he pumped himself into Canton until he was completely spent. Then he fell forward onto Canton and kissed him like there was no tomorrow, or any other day. They stayed joined for a while, Jet inside Canton and his come sticking them chest to chest. Canton stroked Jet’s head as it lay on his chest, running his fingers through the wiry black hair. He didn’t want to cry but he was having trouble controlling his emotions. He didn’t need Jet to tell him that this changed nothing. This was the last time. He knew that. He should never have allowed himself to get used to being with Jet in the first place but he had. He loved him but there was no future in that love, only the here and now. Neither man said anything for some time. All you could hear was their breathing.
The next chapter will be the one when Canton gets fired by the FBI. I wanted to write one last scene for the pair of them. After that we go into the Impossible Astronaut. I'm not doing it all but you'll get Canton's view and his interaction with Jet in the Oval Office. After this there will be an epilogue
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Canton looked at the calendar on his kitchen wall. Over the last two weeks he’d tried not to relive those last moments with Jet because it was just too painful. They’d spent the night together and made love several times. In the morning Canton had left Jet sleeping and managed to leave silently, without discussing what had happened. He’d left a note on the kitchen table.
I love you. I think I’ll always love you and I know that you love me. I know that you will do what you think is the honourable thing; you are that sort of man and I sort of understand that. Don’t try to contact me. I just want to have this last perfect memory of us together, and it was perfect. Have a good life, Jet. Try to be fair to Velma; her only mistake was the same as mine, to fall in love with you. As for me, I’m going to leave DC as soon as I can get myself organised and set up on my own. I sincerely believe that in the future men like us will be able to be together openly. The world is changing all the time and sometime it has to do so for the better.
Jet hadn’t called and Canton had tried to go on. Work had been difficult. He’d been dragged into the Collins’ office because he’d turned up late again, somewhat worse for wear. Brad had torn so many strips off him it was a wonder he had any skin left and then he’d nearly blown it with him.
‘Doesn’t matter anyway,’ he spat out at his confused partner. ‘I’m out of here as soon as I can. He’ll be married soon and I can’t stay here where he is. I know that I’ll be weak and try to see him, or he’ll look for me. I’m going to set up my own agency somewhere else, out of state, up north maybe. In Illinois at least they won’t arrest the likes of me anymore. I hear Chicago can be nice and it’s on a lake.’
Brad had stood there in the restroom and looked at him for a few minutes. ‘How long have you been planning this?’ he asked.
Canton shrugged. ‘Not long. I know I should have told you. You’ve heard of Angelo Colosanto, the businessman, well I met him once in the White House and we have an acquaintance in common. He said that he would help with funding. I don’t think that I can hack it here much longer. I know I’m drinking too much and that I’ve let you down. Don’t try to say I haven’t. I fucked up the obbo on that gang because I was hung over.’ Brad didn’t argue Canton noticed. ‘I’m going to give notice after tomorrow and start my life again. Perhaps I’ll find a life away from here and someone else to love.’
Brad took his arm and pulled him into a hug. ‘I hope you find what you’re looking for too.’
He tried to go to bed early. He’d had a few to drink. He was intending to sleep it off the day after so he wouldn’t be conscious when Jet tied the knot. However, the best made plans and so forth. He couldn’t sleep and he wanted company of any sort; no, that wasn’t true, he wanted company of his own sort. He got dressed and hailed a taxi. He didn’t care much about the driver knowing where he was going so he was dropped at the end of the alley. Glitzy’s was open and he could hear the sounds of someone singing. He wondered if Candy was in but as he opened the door and looked around he realised that it was only the jukebox. He nodded to Rick at the bar. A beer appeared in front of him.
‘Good to see you here again, Eddie.’ They both knew that this wasn’t his real name. Canton settled himself on a bar stool and drank the beer down too quickly. He held up the glass for another.
‘It’s quiet in here tonight,’ Canton said.
‘Yeah, we had some trouble earlier in the week. The local boys got bored again and decided to shake us down. They got a bit over enthusiastic with some of our regulars.’
‘Candy wasn’t in was she?’ He was worried that Andy might have been exposed.
‘No, haven’t seen her for a while. I heard that she found true love.’ Canton laughed. ‘Yeah, I heard the same.’ He raised his glass. ‘To true love.’ Eddie smiled and said, ‘hallelujah to that.’
Canton spent the rest of the night talking to Rick and getting pleasantly drunk. No one hit on him. Perhaps his body language was saying stay away. Tonight he just wanted to get drunk. He wasn’t looking for any action. His senses must have been dulled because it wasn’t until he heard Rick say, ‘shit, not again!’ that he realised they were being raided. There was no time to run away so he sat facing the bar until he felt a hand on his shoulder.
‘Well, well, look what we have here. Fancy finding a Fed in a place like this.’ Canton turned around, somewhat unsteadily. He recognised the cop from O’Malleys. He tried to think of his name.
‘We don’t want any trouble, officer,’ Rick said. The cop ignored him.
‘So Delaware, I guess this means you like to take it up the ass, or are you a pitcher rather than a receiver.’ The four cops laughed at the witticism.
‘Maybe he likes to dress in women’s clothes,’ one of the others shouted.
‘Yeah, is that it Delaware? You were involved in that case weren’t you? You should have let them go on clearing the streets of freaks like them.’ Canton’s hand balled into a fist. Before he realised what was happening he’d punched the bloke in the jaw. Even drunk Canton could pack a punch and he’d put everything he had behind it. Suddenly, hands were all over him. He was pushed to the floor and his hands were cuffed behind his back.
The officer he’d struck was already on his feet rubbing his jaw. His boot connected with Canton’s stomach more than once.
‘You’re dead in this city, Delaware. Hitting a cop; you’re going to lose your job for this. Everyone’s going to know that you’re a filthy faggot.’ More boots went in. Canton tried to curl himself up to protect as much of his body as he could, until he passed out.
He woke the morning after in a cell. He didn’t know which part of his body hurt the most. He lifted his shirt and saw that his chest was covered in bruises. He imagined that his back would be similar. He tried to remember exactly what happened and groaned. This wasn’t exactly what he’d planned for this day.
‘Hey, hey,’ he shouted. ‘Get me out of here!’ He rattled the door hoping to attract someone’s attention. Eventually a body appeared in front of him. ‘You’re awake then.’
‘I appear to be. You know I’m job so get me out of here,’ Canton said.
‘Patience, Agent Delaware. I believe that someone is coming over to get you out and luckily for you officer Kelly has decided not to press charges. He reckons that everyone knowing that you’re a fag will be punishment enough. I don’t think your boss is going to be pleased to find that his agent is a card carrying queer either.’
He was glad that they sent Brad to get him out and not one of the others. Brad had that face; the one that disappointed parents have when their offspring have committed some calamity. His partner didn’t say anything to him until they were in the car and away from the East Precinct headquarters. Brad pulled over and turned off the engine.
‘Shit Canton, Collins is going to have your badge for this. I hope it was worth it. You can say goodbye to any pension now. The whole office knows what happened. Hell, I expect the whole of the FBI knows by now. I was asked if I knew you were queer.’
Canton moved in his seat and winced. ‘What did you say?’
Brad looked sheepish. ‘I had to say no didn’t I? I said I had some suspicions but that’s all. I need my job, Canton. I’ve got Laurie and the kids to think about. I’m sorry but I’m not sticking my neck out on some fruitless crusade. I told them you were a good officer but Benny told him about the job you made a mess of; it seems someone complained. They have enough to fire you.’
Canton did his best to shrug and winced again. This time Brad noticed. He lifted up Canton’s shirt without asking. ‘Shit, they did a number on you didn’t they?’
‘Kelly didn’t like being punched by a pansy. Seems my wrist wasn’t limp enough for him. And don’t worry, Brad. I’ll tell him that you knew nothing. I’m going to resign anyway. I can’t live like this anymore. The man I love is getting married today because he can’t marry me. We can only have sex in one state in this country and I’m going to head there and set up as a PI. I guess I’ll just have to manage without a reference! Come on, we’d better get this over with.’
Special Agent Collins was sitting in his office when they arrived. He looked distinctly uncomfortable when they opened the door. The squad room was strangely crowded, and quiet.
‘You can go now, Johnson.’ Collins made a gesture with his hand to hurry him away. Canton was a little surprised that he wanted to be alone in the same room but everyone could see what was happening through the glass. He went to open his mouth but Collins spoke first.
‘I need your badge and your gun, Delaware. You’re finished here and with the FBI. Be grateful that you haven’t been locked up. I assume what the local boys have told me is true. You are a queer aren’t you? You didn’t just stumble into that place.’ He sighed loudly. ‘I might have been able to sort this if you hadn’t slugged Kelly.’
‘What can I say? The bastard deserved it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.’ Canton handed over his badge and gun and shoved his hands into his pockets.
‘Am I missing something here, Delaware? You don’t seem to care that your whole future is totally fucked up. I don’t understand you people but I’m not naïve. I served in the Navy. There were people like you there but they kept things quiet. You could have done that and kept on working.’
‘You have no idea what it’s like to live a lie. None of you do. I can’t be with the man I love, or who I am, because it’s unnatural. All I want to do is get married like anyone else but I want to marry a man.’ He saw Collins shudder. ‘If it’s any easier I’ll resign. I was going to anyway.’ Collins said nothing so Canton continued. ‘Thank you for being so even handed about this. I’ll get going and please, Brad didn’t know about me so don’t punish him for my sins.’
Canton walked out with his head held deliberately high. He didn’t look back. For the next six weeks he tried to get himself organised. He left word with Colosanto but he was out of the country at that time so Canton just waited. He visited home for a couple of weeks and then returned to DC. Colosanto’s office called him to say that he would be back the following week. Feeling buoyed by this news he took himself out to a bar. He even got himself dressed up in a suit. He didn’t expect anyone to know him there. He’d just taken off his coat and was taking his first swallow when he heard his name spoken out loud.
‘Canton Everett Delaware the third?’
‘Who wants to know?’ he edged around slightly.
‘I don’t have a boss anymore.’ For a moment he wondered if Colosanto had sent someone for him but there was no mistaking those overcoats. They were standard issue for the Secret Service, so the next statement came as no surprise.
‘Maybe you want to tell that to the President of the United States.’ Canton felt the glass being removed from his hand. So this was it. What had Harkness told him? That the President would need his help and he would meet the Doctor. Well, he guessed that this was the moment. Somehow, a little later in the car to the White House, it was rather wonderful to tell the President that he was his second choice for the job. Upon hearing that he was second choice too he wondered who was first and who had given his name to the President. No doubt he would find all this out. A short time later he found himself in the Oval Office, listening to a tape with Richard Nixon, waiting for his Doctor.
Chapter notes: Finally we’re back to where this all started. I’m going to write some of the two Canton episodes but not all. I will be concentrating on his meeting Peterson again. After this there will be an epilogue. Nearly finished now.
This is the last chapter. After this there is only the epilogue. Canton finally meets the Doctor.
Although it wasn’t the first time that Canton had been in the Oval Office, it was the first time he’d sat opposite a President and it was the first time that he’d met Richard Nixon. He had to admit that the man looked worried so Canton decided that he needed to exude confidence. He pushed to the back of his mind thoughts about who had suggested him for whatever task this President had in mind. He sat in the chair and crossed his legs nonchalantly waiting for Nixon to explain.
‘Every day, wherever I am, I get a phone call,’ Nixon began. Nothing unusual about that Canton thought, but getting access to the President undoubtedly was.
‘People can’t just call you, Mr President.’
Nixon leaned forward onto his desk. ‘It’s a direct call every time, for over two weeks now, usually late at night.’
‘Man or woman?’ Canton asked his curiosity engaged.
‘Neither. Listen.’ Nixon pressed the tape recorder and turned to face the window. Canton heard a child’s voice. It sounded like a small, frightened girl even though the President insisted it was a boy.
‘Jefferson Adams Hamilton,’ the child answered when asked what he or she was called. Canton really was intrigued now. How did a child gain direct access to the President of the United States every night? And why did he want his input and not that of the Bureau?
‘These calls happen wherever I am. How do I know the Bureau isn’t involved?’ Canton thought, knowing Hoover’s proclivities, that the man might have a point. ‘I can’t trust anyone.’ Nixon stopped abruptly and stared into the room behind Canton.
‘Shit!’ Canton thought as he turned around. ‘Is this him? And how the hell did he get here? He’s younger than I expected him to be. And you could run a pig through those legs.’ He couldn’t help running his eyes up and down the man’s lanky frame. Both men stood slightly shocked for a moment or two until the stranger looked up from his scribbling and spoke whilst backing away.
‘Oh, hello. Bad moment? Oh, look, this is the Oval Office,’ he continued, still backing away. ‘I was looking for the Oblong Room. I’ll just be off then shall I?’ Canton watched as he turned and seemingly walked into something that wasn’t there. While he was recovering Canton grabbed him. He pinned him to the floor. He might suspect who he was, but that didn’t explain how he’d gotten there and whether he was dangerous.
Suddenly agents rushed through the door as the Doctor struggled in Canton’s grasp. Out of nowhere a blue box appeared in the corner of the room. Everyone stopped and stared open mouthed with shock.
The President was the first to speak. ‘What the hell is that?’ It was then that they realised that somehow the intruder had gotten free and was sat in the President’s chair with his feet on the desk as if he didn’t have several secret service agents pointing their guns at him. It was only then that Canton looked across and registered that one of the agents was Jet. He tried not to acknowledge him. There were other things to worry about.
‘Mr President, that child just told you everything that you need to know but you weren’t listening. Never mind though, the answer’s yes. I’ll take the case.’ Canton had to admit that he liked the man’s audacity and style. He struck his usual pose with hand in pocket and wondered what the hell every other person in the room was making of this impossible man. He knew he could have some fun at their expense so just listened.
‘Fellas, the guns, really. I just walked into the highest security office in the United States and parked a big blue box on the rug.’ Canton noticed Jet glance across at him but he was focused on the man at the desk. He had to admit that this Doctor was kind of cool. ‘D’you think you can just shoot me?’ It was a good question and one that Canton was keen to hear answered. His thoughts were interrupted when three other people came out of the box with their hands up. The agents were unsure which way to turn but Canton noticed that Jet kept his gun trained on the main threat whilst Brown tried to get the President to leave. From what Jack had told him Canton knew that this was the wrong move. He wanted to know who this child was and perhaps that’s why the Doctor was there.
‘What is that box?’ Nixon asked.
His hands still raised the Doctor replied, ‘It’s a police box. Can’t you read?’ Canton smirked to himself. The man had some balls talking to the most powerful man in the world like that.
‘I’m your new special agent from Scotland Yard, code named the Doctor. These are my top operatives, the legs, the nose and Mrs Robinson.’ For the first time Canton looked at the three other strangers in the room. Mrs Robinson was obviously not impressed with her name. Canton began to really enjoy himself.
‘Who are you?’ Nixon asked the Doctor.
‘Boring question! Now, who’s phoning you? That’s more interesting because Canton Three here is right; that was definitely a girl.’ Canton jerked his head up. How the hell did this Doctor know his name? Now he was more than curious. What was going on here? He really wanted to find out. ‘Which means that there is only one place in America that she can be phoning from.’
‘Where?’ Canton asked.
‘Do not engage with the intruder, Mr Delaware.’ For the first time Jet spoke and Canton looked across briefly. It was strange being so close to him in this environment. A couple of the other agents must know who he was as well. Jet sounded annoyed at his interference so perhaps he wasn’t responsible for Canton’s assistance being requested. Then again there was no reason that a President should ask a random agent who he could trust. Finding that information out would have to wait.
‘Give me five minutes and I’ll explain,’ the Doctor said sitting back down. ‘Lay a finger on me or my friends and you’ll never ever know.’ Canton could see that the Doctor knew he’d already won the argument. The President needed to know who this girl was and Canton wanted to learn more about the man himself. Jack had obviously loved this Doctor and Canton was beginning to see why.
‘How did you get it in here? You didn’t carry it in,’ he said turning towards the blue box.
‘Clever aye,’ the Doctor acknowledged.
‘Love it!’ Oh and he did. He couldn’t help but smile.
‘Do not compliment the intruder!’ Jet shouted across. ‘That man is a clear and present danger!’ Canton ignored him. He had to get this man his time. He couldn’t help having a go at his former lover who by now would be a married man.
‘Mr President, that man walked in here with a big blue box, with three of his friends and that’s the man he walked past.’ Jet scowled. He was not pleased with the accusation. ‘One of them is worth listening to! I say we give him five minutes.’ The doctor looked pleased. ‘We’ll see if he delivers. If he doesn’t I’ll shoot him myself!’
‘Sir, I cannot recommend ….’ Jet tried to speak but the President shouted him down. Canton turned away from Jet and said, ‘Alright five minutes.’ The guns were lowered as the Doctor removed his feet and looked business like.
‘I’ll going to need a swat team ready to mobilise, street level maps covering all of Florida, a pot of coffee, 12 jammy dodgers and a fez!’
‘Get him his maps,’ Canton ordered casually.
For the next twenty minutes he watched as the Doctor pored over the maps. The other agents stood around the room. Every so often Canton would meet Jet’s gaze but they didn’t speak. There was, after all, nothing to say and Canton didn’t want to have the wedding confirmed. He looked instead at the three other people. The young man was fairly non-descript but obviously with the girl with the striking red hair. The older woman Canton found more interesting. He thought that he detected something between her and the Doctor, other than her obvious impatience.
‘Why Florida?’ Canton asked. There was no doubt that the Doctor was the most interesting man in the room, and Canton wanted to hear what he had to say.
‘Because that’s where the spacemen come from.’ The girl looked ill and Canton watched her go to the door. Jet was standing there and stopped her leaving.
‘Shut up and take her to the rest room,’ Canton told him. It felt good to order him about and he wondered what Jet would say. For a moment their eyes met. Jet looked puzzled and angry at the same time, but he let the girl go. Canton returned to where the Doctor was looking at one particular map when the phone rang.
‘Here,’ the Doctor said. ‘That call can only have come from here.’ Canton looked astonished at how the Doctor had worked out something so essentially simple. ‘You Sir, are a genius,’ he acknowledged. ‘Mr President, answer the phone.’
The girl sounded afraid. She mentioned a spaceman. Canton watched as the Doctor and the others moved quickly towards the box. ‘Canton, under no circumstances follow me,’ he was instructed. Guessing that he was supposed to do the exact opposite Canton ran into the box. He saw Jet out of the corner of his eye and wondered whether he would ever see him again as he shut the door behind him.
For some time he just looked around as the others rushed about flicking levers and pushing knobs. He couldn’t believe his eyes and grabbed the rail to steady himself. He didn’t know what to say. It was massive, one huge room, with stairs and different levels and something moving up and down in the middle. He didn’t really want to think what the shape reminded him of. He spun around. The young man asked if he was coping and he really wasn’t sure. ‘It’s bigger on the inside,’ he finally got out.
‘You get used to it,’ the young man acknowledged. Then they left the box and Rory, as he had discovered the younger man was called, tried to explain. It was hard to take it all in and now his real adventure began.
‘So we were in a box that’s bigger on the inside and travels in time and space. How long have Scotland Yard had this?’
Despite the hints that Jack had given him he was still incredulous. Looking for a girl who could call the President they discovered all sorts of stuff. Canton realised that he was just going to have to take everything in without question. This was, he had to admit totally amazing and he wanted to enjoy, if that was the word, every moment of it before going back to his normal life. As he looked around he did wonder if he was still in the bar and this was all an alcohol induced dream but Amy assured him that this was real.
‘So you were kicked out of the FBI because you had attitude problems,’ Amy stated.
‘No, I just wanted to get married.’
‘Is that a crime,’ Amy asked.
‘Yes,’ he replied and left it at that. He wanted to concentrate on finding out more about this strange young man. ‘Doctor Who exactly?’
It took them three months. They’d discovered that the earth had been invaded by aliens called the Silence that no one could remember once they’d stopped looking at them. Canton found himself back on the job working directly for the President. To anyone else his task was to capture, and if necessary kill, the four strangers who had invaded the Oval Office. Only he and they knew that the plan was entirely different. In some ways it was good to be back in black as he travelled to Utah, New York and Arizona gathering everyone together to bring them all back to Area 51 where the Doctor was seemingly chained up.
He wasn’t entirely sure how the Doctor did it. While he and Amy tried to find the girl the Doctor managed to get into Apollo 11. Then it all got complicated. They found the girl but she escaped. Amy was stolen away by those creatures that no one could remember except they managed to capture one and bring it back injured to the Doctor’s prison. As Canton videoed the voice of the Silent on a phone and sent the message to the Doctor he decided not to question anything again. He had no idea about most of the things that had happened but when Neil Armstrong stepped out of that module everything changed. People all over the world saw the Silence and began to fight back. He guessed this wasn’t the whole situation solved but in the end he was back in the White House with the Doctor and the President.
‘Canton, until the next one, aye,’ the doctor said taking his hand.
‘Looking forward to it.’ And he really was. The idea of being able to travel in time and space intrigued him. Canton knew that once you’d experienced it you just wanted more. He could see how Amy and Rory loved it.
‘Canton just wants to get married,’ the Doctor told the President. ‘A hell of a reason to kick him out of the FBI.’ He smiled knowing that he hadn’t told them the whole story.
‘I’m sure something could be arranged,’ Nixon said casually.
‘I’m counting on it.’ Canton very much doubted that even with the support of the Doctor that things were going to change that radically any time soon.
He stood next to the President and watched them leave. He hoped that he might see all of them again. His life would never be the same now. He knew that he might get back into the FBI but he didn’t really want to live a lie any more.
‘This person that you want to marry,’ Nixon said. ‘Black?’
‘I know what people think of me but perhaps I’m a little more liberal ……’
Canton casually tossed his bombshell into the conversation. ‘He is!’
Nixon turned towards him. Canton imagined that his face was a picture. ‘I think the moon is far enough for now don’t you, Mr Delaware?’
Wearing his best smirk Canton replied,’ I figured it might be!’
Four weeks later he was all packed and ready to go. He’d rented an apartment on Lake Michigan and found offices in a building that were reasonably priced. He’d even set up interviews for a new secretary. He knew that he was leaving a lot behind and now he had one last meeting to attend.
‘You can go in now,’ the blond sat at the desk told him. Canton pushed through the door. Angelo Colosanto sat behind his huge oak desk looking every inch the millionaire businessman he was. He got up and came around to shake Canton’s hand.
‘It’s good to see you again, Mr Delaware. I believe that you’ve had a bit of an adventure with the Doctor. Jack spoke about him all those years ago. You know I suggested that the President fly him over to investigate what was going on with that girl but he was too busy. He suggested that you would be ideal for the job.’ Canton chuckled. Of course, he should have known. Jack had to make sure that he was there. It all made sense now.
‘So tell me about the Silence who’ve been controlling us for years.’ Canton shared all that he had found out. It seemed reasonable payment for the help Colosanto had given him to set up his PI business. After an hour it was time to leave. Canton’s plane left at midday.
‘Thank you, Mr Colosanto,’ he said as he got up to leave. ‘I’ll keep in touch and let you know of any further adventures, and if I meet Jack again.’
‘It’s been good to meet you again, Canton. You’ve reminded me of the past and shown me that humanity has an interesting future. Good luck and I hope that one day you get what you truly desire.’
As he flew across America to a new life, Canton hoped so too.
This is the end of the story. I began posting it in May last year. When I first saw Canton I feel in love with him and Mark Sheppard (I watched all 7 series of Supernatural to see him play Crowley!) I hope you enjoyed it. And thanks for the Kudos people have given,
Canton sat at his desk putting things away, making ready to go home. He really didn’t have to be here these days as Delaware Investigations was doing well. His assistants, Johnny and Jane, handled all their cases. He stretched his legs; his knees were a little more painful now, although for a man in his 60s he was still in reasonable shape. He wasn’t expecting anyone so was surprised to hear the bell in the outside office and the murmurings of conversation. For a moment the adrenaline kicked in as he wondered if it could be the Doctor again. It had been several years now since they’d last been on an adventure together but he did know that their last meeting was coming, perhaps sooner than later. He laughed to himself and shook his head. He knew that the Doctor wouldn’t have waited in reception so this undoubtedly wasn’t him but nevertheless his heart did that little jump it did every time there was someone new. Sally, his secretary shouted through.
‘Someone to see you, Mr Delaware. Shall I send him in?’
‘Yes, fine and you can get off now, Sally.’
He looked up as he had done for nearly 30 years. Every time he did he hoped, and every time he did his hopes had been dashed, until now. He stopped breathing; he was sure he stopped breathing and then he gasped trying to get air back into his lungs.
‘Canton,’ the figure said in a voice he knew all too well. He could still hear those soft words they’d spoken to each other all those years ago, as well as the other words he’d tried to forget.
‘Jet.’ He couldn’t manage any more. He opened his mouth again but no words came out. He’d imagined this day so many times. He’d rehearsed what he’d say over and over again. Thirty years of practice and now he couldn’t remember a bloody word. He put his shaking hands under the desk and waited for Jet to speak.
‘I’m sorry I don’t know why I’m here.’ Jet hesitated. ‘No, that’s rubbish. I know exactly why I’m here. I wanted to see you.’
‘After thirty years you turn up and want to see me. Thirty years, Jet. Thirty long years of imagining you playing happy families with Velma.’ He tried but he couldn’t hide the bitterness in his voice. The man he loved stood in front of him, older, greyer but still handsome. And he did love him still. He’d never loved anyone else, not even the Doctor. He and Jack had discussed that one more than once over the years. Oh he’d tried to find someone else to love. He hadn’t been celibate, and there had been other men, but no one had lasted, not even the outrageously handsome Captain Jack Harkness. How could you give your heart to someone when it was already packed away in a box marked Jet, in the far corner of the attic?
‘I know; I’ve no reason to expect you to be happy to see me,’ Jet explained. ‘Can I sit down please? My back gives me a bit of jip these days. The grandchildren don’t understand that Grandpa isn’t as young as he once was.’
‘Sure, take a seat. So you’ve grandchildren then, you and Velma,’ Canton stated matter of factly.
‘Yeah, I’ve got two boys and a girl.’ He took out a couple of photographs. ‘That’s Shelly, Martin and Jason with their mum, our daughter, Ruth, and this is Jimmy, our son. He’s overseas at the moment in the Marines, hence the uniform. Velma and I wanted more kids but Jimmy was a bit tricky and we couldn’t have any.’
Canton looked at the photographs. ‘A good looking bunch; and how is Velma?’
‘She died three years ago, cancer. It was tough for all of us.’
‘I’m sorry, no, truly I am. You were married for a long time. I’m glad you were happy. I’ve got something to show you.’ He picked up the photograph on his desk. ‘These are my kids, Cindy, my daughter and Canton, my son.’ Jet couldn’t hide the surprise from his face. ‘Yeah, I know, who’d have thought it. Cindy works as a publisher in New York and Canton is a detective in the NYPD. They both live near their mothers. Clare asked me and I said yes. She and Lorelei are still together. I get to be a dad with none of the hassle. Which brings me to the obvious question – why are you here?’
‘I’m sixty five next birthday and next year is the start of a new century and I don’t know ……… I wanted to see you. I wanted to know if I still felt the same about you.’ Canton raised an eyebrow. ‘No, that’s wrong as well. I know how I feel about you; I’ve always known. There’s never been anyone that made me feel like you did.’ He looked straight at Canton. ‘Like you do. I’ve lived in limbo for nearly 30 years. Oh, it was a nice limbo, don’t get me wrong. I loved Velma in my own way and I was faithful to her, mostly.’ Another eyebrow raised but Canton let him continue. ‘After Velma died I quit work. I wanted to see you then but I thought you’d turn me away. I don’t expect you to let me stay now but I’d like to talk, if we can. Let me take you out to dinner.’
Canton didn’t know what to do. Over the last three decades he’d stopped believing in the photograph. Oh he’d had hope but it was a small fragile thing, only barely alive, and yet he couldn’t turn him away. He was proud not stupid.
‘Let’s go to mine and get take out. We can talk better there. My car’s in the garage underneath. How’d you get here?’
‘Cab from the station, and yeah yours sounds good.’ He got up. Canton pushed back his chair, switched off the lamp and emerged from behind the desk to find himself stood in front of Jet. Their proximity sent shivers down his spine. For a moment they occupied their own bubble and the world stood still. Canton wasn’t sure who moved first, who closed the distance between them, who placed his lips on the other’s mouth, who pulled the other close, but then they were kissing like their lives depended on it, like it was yesterday, like it was thirty years ago, like they were young with everything before them, not old with so many years behind them. It felt so good to be back in his arms. Canton felt those still strong hands on his back as the kiss deepened. It could have been seconds, minutes, weeks or thirty years of hurt and frustration that poured into that kiss. When they were in danger of never being able to part, Canton took a step back to get some air into his lungs. He realised that his pants were tight and was stunned that Jet could still affect him in that way.
‘Wow,’ he said. ‘You always were a great kisser.’
‘You too,’ Jet replied.
‘Let’s get back to my place. I think we have a lot of catching up to do.’
A few years later Canton stood facing his daughter. ‘For goodness sake Dad, stay still will you,’ Cindy said as she put in the cufflinks her mothers had bought him. ‘You’re like a cat on hot coals. We’ve plenty of time before the ceremony.’ She noticed the tear in his eye before he could wipe it away.
‘Aww, Dad,’ she said as she hugged him tight. ‘You’re such an old romantic really aren’t you?’
‘We need to get going, Dad,’ Canton IV said. ‘And yes, I have the rings in my pocket!’
Canton pulled himself together and sat down. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the photograph that Jack Harkness had given him over 40 years before. Finally, it was going to come true; finally he would be the official partner of the man he loved, and even though he was now over 70 it meant so much to him. His daughter looked over his shoulder.
‘Dad, that looks like you and Jet.’ Her confusion was obvious. Canton stood behind his sister.
‘It is; over 40 years ago a man gave me this photo and said that we would be able to get married someday. I hadn’t even met Jet then. It’s a long story, and someday I’ll tell you both about my life, and how I met a man called the Doctor and helped him to save the planet more than once.’
‘Sometimes, Dad I don’t know if you’re just having me on,’ Cindy said. ‘Come on, the Mums are waiting for us downstairs.’
They met on the steps of the building; two now old men who’d loved each other for nearly 40 years and been apart for nearly 30 of them. But times had changed. They walked into the building hand in hand and made their promises in front of their families. Jet’s children had coped remarkably well with the fact that their father wanted to live with a man, and then with their plans to make it official. Their four children and Jet’s grandchildren were all there as the two men made their promises, official and non- official. Afterwards, they had a small get together for their friends and read through all the cards of congratulation. Among the white envelopes was one in blue with a 4 written on the back. Canton guessed that this was the letter that Jack had told him about all those years ago. He nudged Jet as he opened it. Inside there was a card with a time, place and date and an instruction to bring gas – 4.45pm, 22nd April, 2011 at Lake Silencio, Utah. Jet looked at Canton. That date was five days from now.
‘So, how d’you fancy a road trip for our honeymoon?’ Canton said taking Jet’s hand in his. ‘I’ve got to go and meet the Doctor again!’
THE END – OR IS IT? Maybe one day I’ll write some of those adventures.