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Bad Habit

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Lawnville's Hamburger Palace is the sort of place where opposites meet. You come here for Saturday lunch, and you'll see three-piece-suited businessmen eating with rednecks, housewives eating with long-haired artsy guys, and a homophobe eating with the local pervert.

Not that Montgomery knew what I was. He sat at the end of the booth, next to the aisle, munching on his fries while I relaxed catty-corner from him, sipping my black-and-white malt – deceptively vanilla ice cream smothered in dark chocolate. No one was watching us; I'd deliberately chosen a table at the far end of the room, with its underside in shadow. If you don't know why, that's a sign you've never met Randy.

Randy appeared just as Montgomery was saying, "Everything's been ruined by those HoMoSexuals." That's the way he pronounced it, like it was three words. "Used to be, a guy could put his hand on another guy's shoulder without everyone screaming he was a fag. You're too young to remember what it was like back in the days when buddies hung close to each other, when coaches patted their boys on the back, when dads put a comforting arm around their sons' shoulders. Then those homosexuals came along and claimed every little touch is a sign that you're 'gay.'" He said the last word with quotation marks, sketching them in the air with his fingers.

I could see Randy hovering beyond Montgomery's vision, frowning at my lunch companion. I could guess that it wasn't out of jealousy. I waved Randy over, and as he slid onto the bench beside me, I slung my arm over his shoulders. Then I waited.

It was worth the past half hour of diatribes against gays, just to see Montgomery's expression. He couldn't very well build a bonfire beneath us, not after the speech he'd just given. But you could tell he was counting out the sticks.

I waited till he was counting out the matches too, then I said, "Mont, this is Randy. We both belong to a fraternal order." This was quite true, though the brotherhood we belong to isn't exactly the Rotary Club.

Montgomery's face lit up. "You see?" he said. "That's the sort of thing I mean. Pure, unending friendship. Not the sleazy one-night-stand stuff those homosexuals do. But they'd claim that you two touching each other was a sign that you're gay."

Randy opened his mouth. I could guess what furies were going to emerge. I reached over quickly and squeezed Randy's balls, hard enough to get his attention. He yipped. Montgomery looked his way, raising his eyebrows.

"Sorry," said Randy in a muffled voice. "Gas. I have the flu."

"Oh?" Montgomery lost interest. He frowned at his plate. "They forgot to give me mayo. They know I like mayo with my fries. Those boys at the counter don't have anything but air in their heads. They're probably all sleeping with each other."

I turned my attention to Randy. "Boy, fetch Mr. Steinman some mayonnaise."

Randy began to slide away at once. I stopped him with my hand. I didn't want him to miss Montgomery's latest expression. I smiled at Montgomery, took another sip of my malt, and said, "The fraternal order that Randy and I belong to has a mentoring program. For young men who are in need of father-figures."

Montgomery looked from me to Randy, his gaze lingering on Randy's balding head. "But surely . . . Isn't Randy older than you?"

Randy spoke abruptly. "Fatherhood is a matter of the heart, not of the body. I never imagined I'd have a daddy who's as fine as the one I've been honored with."

I could have kissed him then. It would have spoiled the punch-line, but I was that proud of Randy. He tends to bring out those sorts of reactions in me, damn him.

Montgomery's brow was still folded up tight, so I added, "Randy has never had the opportunity to receive the kind of guidance he needs. We're trying to make up for lost time." I slapped Randy's hand. It had been groping my crotch.

Fortunately, Montgomery didn't hear the slap. He said eagerly, "Yes, yes, that's another thing those homosexuals have ruined: bringing a boy into full manhood, molding him into strength and independence. —What was it those fag boys forgot?"

"Mayo," replied Randy. He said it through gritted teeth.

Montgomery sighed heavily as he got to his feet. "Everything," he said, "has gone downhill in this country since those homosexuals came to power. No decent service any more."

Considering who he was lunching with, I thought this was pretty funny. But Randy glared as Montgomery stepped away to fetch his mayonnaise. "Who is that asshole?" he hissed.

"Someone you're going to be polite to." I held his gaze till it dropped. Then I held out my palm. "Homework," I said.

By the time Montgomery returned, I was perusing the list Randy had prepared. It was entitled, "Why My Lovers Leave Me." The first item on the list said, "I make the mistake of telling them I love them." The rest of the list was along the same lines: self-pity combined with obliviousness. I crumpled the paper into a ball. "This is no good," I told Randy tersely. "You're missing the point."

Randy's lips thinned, but he said nothing. Truth was, on a certain level I'd never had such an obedient boy. He was eager to do whatever he could for me. The trouble was, Randy had one bad habit, and that habit was destroying our arrangement, as it had destroyed all of Randy's past relationships.

"How did you two meet?" Montgomery asked as he tore off the corner of the mayonnaise packet. "At your fraternal order?"

I caught Randy's hand sliding toward my cock; this time I squeezed it till he gasped. "That's right," I said to cover the sound. "He caught my eye. He has a way of standing out from the rest of the crowd."

That's putting it mildly. I don't know who taught Randy that the way to catch and keep a lover is to fling yourself at him desperately and serve him sexually at every moment of the day. I would have shot the guy if I knew him. Even the obvious fact that this plan backfired every time Randy put it into operation hadn't rid Randy of the certainty that, if he wanted a long-term lover, he should throw himself at the other man as hard as he could.

So I took Randy as my boy, to teach him that there is more to life than sex.

I will pause here to give my friends an opportunity to roll on the ground in hysterical laughter. Well, who else could teach Randy this? If I, with my reputation what it is, told Randy that hopping into bed at every available opportunity isn't a wise technique for snagging a lover, surely he'd listen to me.

Or so I'd thought. I caught Randy's hand entering my territory again and bent his little finger back. Randy gave a whimper. "Flu still bothering you?" Montgomery asked sympathetically.

"Yes, sir. It hurts bad sometimes."

Oh, hell. Randy has this tendency to avoid my eye in a way that says quite clearly, "I adore you with all my heart but I know that you don't love me, so I won't make a big deal over it. Just give me a moment to cry alone." It was the sort of look that always made me want to stand him against a wall and use my single-tail on him. But that wasn't part of the arrangement between us. I took a long breath to steady myself as my hand squeezed Randy's list into a ball roughly the size of an atom.

"Touch," said Montgomery, wiping up mayonnaise with a fry. "That's what helps when you're ill. Being touched by a friend. Of course, those homosexuals wouldn't understand."

Oh, it was too good to resist. I mean, I'm only human. Sober lessons to Randy could come later.

"You're absolutely right," I said, scooting closer to Randy. "I've found that, when I have gas, the best cure is for someone to rub me on the stomach. Do you think that would help, Randy?" As I spoke, my right hand slid under the table and began unbuckling his belt.

Randy's breath caught; a moment passed before he could speak. "Yes, sir," he finally replied in a voice strained, since I was pulling down his zipper. Being Randy, he was naked and hard underneath. "I think that would help me feel better."

"Good, good." I ran my fingers along the length of his shaft, and his hips bucked. I patted his shoulder with my left hand. "Just try to relax. Perhaps putting something inside you would help. Do you have a spoon?"

"Um . . . no, sir," Randy just managed to reply as I wrapped my hand around his cock and began to pump. Montgomery, picking up his hamburger, seemed interested in what he could see of my rubbing technique.

"Well, I'd better not let you drink directly from my shake. I worry about AIDS, you know," I said to Montgomery, who clucked his tongue sympathetically. I dipped the middle finger of my left hand into the shake, then held it out toward Randy, folding down the other fingers. "Try this," I said.

Randy was beginning to breathe heavily, but he obediently took my finger into his mouth and sucked it clean of the shake. Montgomery bit into his burger, his expression still curious.

"Well?" I said.

"I'd prefer . . . something saltier, sir." Randy had to speak around his gasps as I jerked hard on his foreskin.

"I'll see whether I can arrange that," I said in a level voice. "No, I don't think this rubbing is working." I pulled my hand back, ignoring Randy's groan of dismay. "Maybe if you were to rest yourself back a little further . . . Yes, that's right, slump in your seat. . . . Just move your hips forward a bit . . ."

Montgomery missed the sound of jeans being pulled down. He said to Randy, in an effort to be helpful, "You need to relax."

"Yes, sir," said Randy in a gasping voice. "I know that I— Ah!"

I pushed my middle finger all the way in, then out again. "Are you relaxed now?" I asked soothingly as I stroked his balls with my thumb.

"I think . . ." Randy's voice grew more high-pitched as I repeated my thrust. "Sir, I think I'm growing more tense. I don't know whether I can— Oh, God!"

"Montgomery!" I snapped. "I think Randy's about to faint. Could you fetch him some water?"

"Of course, of course." Montgomery promptly abandoned his burger and slid out from the booth. I waited till he had turned toward the counter; then I whispered in Randy's ear, "You have thirty seconds at most, boy. Don't disappoint me."

He used only fifteen of those seconds, frantically pulling at his cock till his body jerked as though I'd used that single-tail on him after all. I quickly pulled his head onto my shoulder in time to smother his scream.

Montgomery appeared at the table two minutes later. He looked with concern at the empty spot beside me. "What happened?" he asked.

"I sent him to the men's room," I replied calmly as I wiped my middle finger clean with a handy towelette. "Thanks for fetching the water."

Montgomery set the water down as he reseated himself. "Do you think we should check on him?"

"Oh, he'll be fine," I said in an airy manner. At least, I intended it to be airy, but at that moment Randy, crouched beneath the table, undid the last button of my Levi's and began to lick my briefs. I pulled in a deep breath of air – enough, I hoped, to see me through the rest of this, since I figured I wouldn't be doing much breathing in the minutes to come. "You were speaking," I reminded Montgomery, "about how gays are obsessed with sex."

Montgomery shook his head as he opened his burger and carefully removed the pickles. "They center all their relationships on sex. Any relationship that's about sex and nothing more can't last."

"Really?" I hoped Randy was listening to this, but I doubted it. He had pulled down the briefs and was now sucking my balls into his mouth.

"I speak from what I know," insisted Montgomery, apparently interpreting my reply as skepticism. "If I'd married Donna just for sex, do you think our marriage would have lasted thirty years? No! Our marriage is a friendship, and friendships are what make relationships last. Not passionate nights in bed."

I found myself wondering whether Donna shared Montgomery's feelings on this matter. Then that thought was wiped out as Randy began licking his way slowly up toward the head. Fuck. A good thing I'd learned to be prepared when Randy was around. I groped in my pocket.

"Are you okay?" Montgomery asked, frowning.

"Friendship," I managed to reply. "Friendships last." I spoke loudly to cover the sound of Randy ripping open the condom wrapper.

"Yes," said Montgomery, relieved that I understood. "Any relationship that's going to last more than a month has to be founded on friendship, not sex. That's something those homosexuals haven't figured out. Instead, they offer their bodies to each other, thinking that will be enough to establish lasting bonds—"

"Dreadful," I gasped as my cock slid into the long channel of Randy's throat. "Simply dreadful. No values."

"Are you sure you're okay?" Montgomery frowned again. "You look a bit peaky."

"I'm just— Oh, God, I— Not yet, not yet— Now!"

Randy's hand, squeezing my balls at just the right moment, took me over the edge. I trained myself long ago to come silently; given my rank, it's better for me to appear dignified and collected. But it was a hard test during the next minute while the pure white sweetness – sweeter than the richest chocolate – flowed from my body as Randy's warm mouth enfolded me.

By the time I recovered, Montgomery's concern had deepened. "I think you've caught your friend's fever," he commented.

"Yes," I said morosely as I wiped the saliva from Randy's lips and felt his smile. "He has a bad habit of doing that to me. If it's not one thing, it's another. He wears me out."

Montgomery shook his head. "Proper training. That's all he needs. I found that with my own boys. A good spanking helps."

Randy's smile suddenly disappeared. My own smile returned. "Really?" I said, placing a pile of paper napkins onto my knee so that Randy could start the clean-up operation. "Tell me about those spankings. Do you recommend paddles? Or belts?"


Turns out the real punch-line came later, when Randy told me he wanted to end things.

I stared at him in disbelief. We were standing in my bedroom as I changed out of my jeans, which were soaked with sweat and pre-cum and the malt that Randy had "accidentally" dropped in my lap after the lengthy discussion of spanking ended, and Montgomery left Randy and me together.

"You told me when we met that you liked scenes in public," I said. "Now you've changed your mind?"

"It's not that." Randy toed the floor, avoiding my gaze. "I just think maybe it would be better for me to stop being your boy. We could be friends instead."

I opened my mouth and closed it quickly. Damn. I'd been wrong. Randy had been listening to my conversation with Montgomery. And what he'd gotten out of it was that sexual affairs don't last. Friendships do.

I couldn't speak for a minute. I knew how much sex meant to Randy; I'd known it from the moment he first introduced himself at the Eagle and had promptly fallen to his knees to begin licking my crotch. And he was prepared to give all this up if it meant he could keep from losing me.

I'd had no idea I meant that much to him.

Finally I stepped forward and placed my hands on his shoulders. "Randy," I said, "I told you when we first met: I'll be your weekend daddy, but nothing more. And even that arrangement is temporary."

He didn't respond; his chin had gone high. I could see that he was struggling not to break under the words that hurt him far more than fifty strokes with a single-tail would. I mentally added this to the top of the long list of moments when I was most proud of my boy.

"And when the sex is over," I added quietly, "we'll still be friends. For as long as you want."

His expression then was almost as pleasurable to watch as Montgomery's had been. I laughed as I released Randy. "Well, what did you expect? That I'd throw you in the dumpster when we were through? Jesus, boy, I've never abandoned anyone who shared my bed – not if the other guy wanted my company." I crossed off in my mind several dozen tricks I wouldn't be willing to acknowledge in the light of day. Randy didn't fall into that category.

"I—" Randy took a deep breath, swallowed, and tried again. "Sir, could I ask a favor?"

Oh, Christ. I could just see a request for a slave collar headed my way. "Ask," I said cautiously.

"Could I black your boots the next time you meet with Montgomery? I think he'd like that display of brotherly love."

I smiled. Randy smiled back. I reached forward and nudged his shoulders downward. "We'll see. But my boots had better be ready for their blacking when the time comes."

"Yes, sir." He happily sank onto his hands and knees and began to lick my boots slowly, carefully. There was no frantic desperation about his service, merely a tender offering of what he had, to a man he trusted not to fail him.

I was very pleased. I could guess that Randy's next lover would be pleased too, and that Randy would finally find the lifelong lover he'd been seeking.

And so I let him lick my boots till we were both in a warm glow, and then I took him to the Lawnville ball-game, like a good dad does for his boy. And when it came time for everyone to stand up during the seventh-inning stretch, I'll be damned if Randy didn't fall onto his knees and try to suck me on the spot.

That's the trouble with training boys. You teach them a bad habit, and it's impossible to break them of it.