Spend the Night
The sleek black Mercedes nosed its way up and down the roads of the moneyed countryside, its sunroof open to the mild humid night, spreading the joy of Thelonious Monk, Chu Berry and Ella Fitzgerald to the inhabitants of the sleeping, meticulously restored near-mansions south of the Merrimack. In the driver’s seat Francis X. Lyons, trust attorney to the well-placed and eternally controlling, nipping on a bottle of Scotch, kept a restless eye out for anyone with the misfortune to be at the side of the road. He thought of himself as a good Samaritan, and he drove out nearly every night in summer and early fall looking for someone to rescue. He called these his Mercy Rides.
He got on I-95 and sped for ten minutes until he reached the exit for Hampton Beach. He headed toward the beach, aiming at Route 1A. There were always plenty of unfortunates on 1A. It was 11:45. A lot of the young arcade and food-stand workers were just getting off their shift, and Frank sympathized with them – they couldn’t afford a car or insurance. They worked for 10-12-14 hours a day for little pay. They had to walk or hitch a ride home, and God knew what might happen to them. He liked to give them a ride. They were often grateful.
Frank turned onto 1A and saw drunken high school kids drifting about the streets. A fight was going on by the seawall – a skinny boy and a fat girl, a knock-down affair. A ragtag crowd was cheering them on. He thought about stopping and breaking it up, but he didn’t know what they’d do to his car. One of the boys was bound to know what it cost.
Frank drove about a mile along the oceanfront and slowed down as he approached a boy – no more than 16, very slender, longish dark hair. He was holding his thumb out in a desultory manner, as if he was acting ironic about needing a ride while his attention was engaged by his cell phone. His face was a warring mix of emotions, and he pulled over to the side of the road about 20 yards from the boy. The boy, who wore the cheapest-looking discount-store clothes Frank had ever seen, kept him waiting. He stabbed the keys on his phone with a fury, then placed it in his pocket and sauntered to the car. He checked out the Mercedes thoroughly before he got in.
“Hey.” Then sat looking straight ahead.
Frank said, “Hi. Where you headed?”
Still looking straight ahead the boy said, “Nubrypawt.”
“Excellent. I’m going to West Newbury. Whereabouts in Newburyport?”
That was a bit general, but Frank drove south with a faint smile on his face. “That’ll be right on my way home.” They drove over the state line into Salisbury. “I’ll break the ice. My name is—“
“This a new 600?” Frank nodded and the boy whistled his appreciation. He looked around the cabin and ran his hand reverently over the wood trim. “List stahts at $164 grand. Jesus, it’s beautiful.” He peered at the instrumentation and looked outside. He glanced at Frank and said, “Mind if I roll down my window? I like the smell of the ocean. Even the mahshes.”
Frank lowered the windows and opened the sunroof. The warm July night smelled like sweet marsh grass and salt. It was high tide. The boy breathed deep. He relaxed a bit, smiling faintly to himself.
Frank smiled. “My name is Frank. Frank Collins. What’s yours?”
“Tyve? What kind of name is that? Scandinavian?”
“It’s my name.” Tyve breathed in another lungful of ocean air.
Frank shrugged at the transparent lie. “You look hungry. Want to stop at the diner in Salisbury?”
“No. I’m OK.”
With feigned casualness Frank asked, “How old are you?”
Wasn’t there the slightest hesitation in Tyve’s response? Frank didn’t believe him anyway. “Got a girlfriend?”
Tyve snickered. Frank said, “What’s so funny?”
“That’s what they all ask. I’m surprised ya didn’t get around to it befoah.”
Tyve gave him an indulgent look. “Don’t be an ahsshole.”
“You think you’re pretty knowing, don’t you?” Frank huffed. “So blasé, so in control.”
Tyve smirked and looked out the window. They drove through the decimated squalor of Salisbury Beach and inland toward the town center. Tyve said, “This is one ugly town. I’d hate to be from here.” He put on a radio voice and intoned, “‘I come from Salisbury, the ugliest town in the Bay State.’ You’d be mahked fa life.”
“Are you from Newburyport?” People from Newburyport deemed it one of the loveliest towns in the state.
“No, pops, I’m from Lynn.”
“So you’re marked for life.”
Tyve went Ha! “My mother left town with a new boyfriend. I hadda come up heah. Stayin’ with my -- fathah’s muthah…” He struggled with saying more and gave up.
Frank cleared his throat, saying brightly, “College bound?”
“Yah.” Long pause. “Tufts.”
Frank raised his eyebrows to show that he was impressed, not to mention skeptical. “Good for you.”
“Yah,” Tyve said wryly, “good fa me.”
They were silent until Frank asked Tyve where he wanted to get off. The boy said Atkinson Common. They drove over the Merrimack into Newburyport and up along High Street in late-blooming moonlight. The Federalist mansions held a mysterious quality in the night. Light spilled out from clean windows. One revealed well-dressed people laughing and drinking. Tyve said, “This is beautiful. It’s gut, like, beauty. I’d like to own some beauty some day. It must make you a different person. Don’t you think so?”
Frank started to say no, but he kept quiet. He knew too many of the families who lived in those houses. “It is enticing, isn’t it?”
They arrived at Atkinson Common. Tyve checked Frank out for a few moments – really looked at him for the first time. He saw a broad-chested man of about 50 with prematurely white hair that needed cutting, wearing a white shirt with cufflinks, a necktie half-unknotted. Tyve could smell the loneliness rising from him like the smell of the Scotch he kept sneaking from a paper bag by his seat.
Tyve looked away. He looked at Frank again for a minute. “See ya some time.” He closed the door and turned around. He gave Frank a smile that unsettled him. It was the smile of a little boy. Then he disappeared into the dark seclusion of the park.
Frank thought he saw him near a street light, heading left. He stayed put for a minute and drove slowly, craning his neck to see if the boy emerged on the road parallel to Moseley Avenue. Yes. He was there, walking fast, smoking, scrapping with his phone. Frank managed to track him for several blocks until the boy went into the yard, screened by spruces, of a little shingled house at the edge of a cliff. He drove home in a state of mild exaltation.
Tyve rummaged through the refrigerator and pulled out a few things to eat. His grandmother called from upstairs, “Gerard, that you?” He told her it was and to go back to sleep. He went to the pantry and took a pull of her medicinal brandy. He placed his cell phone carefully by his right hand and fell asleep at the kitchen table, half aroused, thinking of the man on the telephone.
The next afternoon at the arcade, Tyve told a boy we worked with, “I gut a ride from a real strange guy last night. Drove a big Mercedes 600.”
“Frank Lyons,” Benny said with a knowing nod. “Stay away from that character.” He leaned toward Tyve like someone with insider power. “I heard he’s gut like a sex torture chamber in his cellar.”
Tyve laughed. “What?” It didn’t match the man he met last night. A lonely alcoholic, yes, but not a dangerous pervert.
“No, I’m not shittin’. A kid from Amesbury saur it one time – gut the fuck outta there as fast as he could. Lyons’s gut a fuckin’ palace, though. He’s gutta be worth millions.”
Tyve was skeptical (it was always somebody from Amesbury who saw such things) but said, “Jesus.” He decided to let Frank pick him up again, but not for a few nights.
Every night Frank drove up to Hampton Beach but didn’t see the boy, though he thought of him constantly and hoped just to talk with him. Maybe he’d pushed too hard, told too much, something to make the boy conceal himself. Whether the boy was crafty or intelligent, he couldn’t quite tell, but he was more interesting than the others. And maybe all the more so because Frank couldn’t tell when the boy was lying or telling the truth. Or, rather, telling what layer of truth or lie at each moment. For a trust lawyer it was intriguing.
Now three nights he had gone to Hampton and Seabrook and come up empty. No sign of Tyve. He almost didn’t go the fourth night. After a few martinis he decided to go for a ride. It was a hot night after a roasting day and he drove with the windows down. He loved the heat – it felt like he was in some other climate, some other country, somewhere sensual and delicious. He played reggae loud. He sped up 95 at 110 mph, weaving through traffic, singing along with Bob Marley, laughing when he flubbed a line.
As he approached 1A he saw Tyve standing at the corner as if he were waiting for the big Mercedes. A small crowd of kids idled nearby smoking joints. They were all eyes as Tyve got into the car. Frank noticed the smiles of cynical envy that some of them flashed at each other. “Faggot!” a heavily pierced girl in Everlast trunks shouted at Tyve, who gave her the finger, shouting, “Pussy-lickah!”
Frank raised the windows, alarmed. The girl laughed and gave him and Frank the finger. She stumbled and a friend held her up. The girl kissed her neck.
Frank looked at Tyve. “Nice crowd you associate with.”
Tyve shrugged and said in a censorious way, “These fucking young people today!” Then he looked out the window and leaned over to kiss Frank. Pandemonium outside. Frank pulled away. “Wheyya been, Bob Mahley?” Frank turned down the music and angrily started down Route 1A. “You might think of my reputation even if you don’t have anything to lose.”
Tyve laughed and lit up a joint and offered a toke to Frank. Frank grabbed it and tossed it out the window. “Miss me the past few nights?”
“Yes. I came by every night. Where were you?””
Tyve looked pleased. “I gut other rides.”
Frank gave him a hard look. “Quite the game-player, aren’t you?”
“Yah, Frank Lyons. All eese games.” Tyve watched Frank’s face change under the yellow street lights as they drove along with seafront. After they had passed the state line Tyve reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of bills and started counting. “Sold a shitload of weed tonight. Over five hundred bucks. A lot more than I can make at that fuckin’ ahcade.” He finished the count. “Five sixty. Sweet.”
Frank was scandalized. “You don’t actually sell—“
Tyve fixed him with an ironic stare. “Jesus Christ, how the else am I gunna pay fa my college? It’s fuckin’ expensive! My family isn’t gunna gimme shit. I’m not smaht enough fa scholarships – my grades sucked in high school. Shitty paht-time jobs don’t cut it. So it’s either suck dick or sell drugs. Welcome to modden America, pops.”
Frank fell silent. He began to wonder when the boy would shake him down for blackmail money. With the first blowjob?
Tyve read his face and decided to back off. In a softer tone of voice he said, “It makes your feet hurt more, just standing there doin’ nothin’. I doze off all the time. Standing up.” He paused. “You get kids comin’ in – kids always come in, most of them cahn’t get jobs.”
Frank pulled up the bottle of Scotch. “Want some?”
Tyve took the bottle and a little sip. He grimaced. “Not really into whiskey. I like vodka.” He gave back the bottle.
Frank hid the bottle after taking a good pull on it. “If your grades were so bad in high school, how’d you get into Tufts?”
Tyve shrugged. “Well, that’s where I wanted to go. Goin’ na Salem, in point of fact.”
Salem State. The one-time teachers’ college. Close to Lynn. Tyve could commute by train. He could just squeeze out an existence there. Frank nodded. “Sounds kind of bleak.”
“There’s no beauty in it,” Tyve said. They drove on in silence until they got to High Street in Newburyport where it split into three roads. Tyve started to say something but Frank took the road to the left, Storey Avenue, and headed toward West Newbury. In a little way, across from a strip shopping center, there were two large cemeteries, one Catholic, the other Protestant. Tyve craned his neck and said, “My grandfather’s buried there. And my uncle and my aunt.” He pointed into the Catholic graveyard.
Frank started to say, “Mine too,” but Tyve’s phone rang. The boy scrambled frantically in his pocket to get it, and he answered with a low, “Hello? Hello?” Frank could just hear a man’s low voice speaking first in a sharp, angry way, then mellowing into a sort of croon. Tyve answered with grunts and “yah” and “no”, observing Frank observing him from time to time. A few times Tyve spoke in French, though it was Quebecois and Frank couldn’t get a word of it. And at the end Moi aussi. Me too. Frank bit off a swig of Scotch.
Tyve put away his phone. His eyes were moist. To Frank his face was the mask of tragedy.
“Everything all right?”
“Sure. Great.” They drove on for a few minutes through the upscale rurality of West Newbury. Tyve said, “Take me home.”
“We’re almost at my place. You’ll feel better there once you—“
“No. Take me home. Same stopping-off place.” As if remembering some ancient lesson, he asked politely, “Please?”
Frank turned around in a driveway where the homeowner peeked outside, full of anxiety about an unannounced caller at midnight. Frank drove with his mouth grimly set. Tyve muttered, “Sorry, sorry.”
They were back at Atkinson Common in ten minutes. Tyve got out without a word and slipped into the park to head to the little shingled house on the cliff.
Frank didn’t track him this time. He drove home, enraged that the boy had a lover –a lover, someone he was sick with love over, whose every word was power. He hated this man because by all rights Tyve was his – he had found him by the wayside, this poor boy with ideas about beauty, and he wished to be the first real affair of the boy’s life. How many nights already had he sent himself into peaceful sleep thinking of Tyve’s smooth white skin, imagining his arched back and hard little buttocks? Gently splitting those cheeks with his dominating cock, plunging himself all the way in, making the boy cry out with pain and pleasure? And he saw himself afterwards, lounging on the bed with the naked boy, drinking Champagne and talking about their ideas of beauty and dreams and so forth? Frank took pride in instructing young men in the ways of love, and in all the little arts that made life gracious and created the pathway to success, like conversing without saying “fuck” and “awesome,” the correct way to dress, proper table manners and the right liquor to order. He knew how vital mentorship was in life’s success. Tyve, he believed, could be the best “mentee” of all of them. Exceedingly rough, but he felt grand potential lay within.
Gerard couldn’t sleep. He lay smoking in the little room that had been his uncle Ralph before he was intentionally run down by a drunk driver twenty years before. Ralph’s musty old clothes stunk up the air, which the tobacco smoke only part-way overcame. Gerard was playing a Montreal Internet radio station on his phone, an oldie called “I Only Have Eyes for You.” The song had always made him think of the man in Quebec, “Tuf,” but now for some reason Frank stuck his face into it. Which was insane, because he’d met Frank just twice and hadn’t even done anything with him. Disturbing because he’d held onto that intense longing for Tuf for so long now that, as it faded, he wondered what exactly he’d clung to so hard, for so long. Now when he imagined himself with Tuf he saw himself cringing like some stray that hoped for nothing better than a kick.
A kick was what Tuf had given him tonight. Accused him of being unfaithful, tortured him by saying he didn’t know when he was coming back. Maybe he’d come back with a new boy. There was a beautiful little 11-year-old in Sherbrooke named Kevin…
Frank would never pull this shit on him. Frank needed him too much.
Gerard began to cry, smothering the sound of it in the pillow, wondering if smothering himself or ODing on something might not be the best thing after all. He had lots of pills – it could be done if he worked up the courage to do it. Broken-hearted and a little angry, he remembered the hundreds of nights he had lain alone, waiting for Tuf to come back or phone, alive to his touch, the smell of his boozy breath, his healing kiss, the weight of him, the muscular size, the ecstatic moment when he was penetrated by the man he worshipped. Tuf would take him roughly at first, then kiss him gently, stroking his hair and his thighs, and finally attack him with all his strength of fury. A bloody nose or a split lip were love signs to be worn with a secret pride. As long as Tuf still loved him – in some way, any.
For a few nights he stayed away from New Hampshire and concentrated on Plum Island and Salisbury Beach. They were dismal. Dead. He picked up a couple of feral youths and set them down at Salisbury Square. One time there was even a girl in tow who was high on heroin and insisted on being driven to her door down in Boxford where her glossy parents were standing on the doorstep holding cell phones and having tense conversations.
If his desire was to punish Tyve by keeping himself scarce for a while, he was undoubtedly hurting himself a lot more than he was hurting the boy. After lengthy meditations on Tyve’s silky brown hair, his long eyelashes and sensuous rosebud lips and his lean round ass, Frank succumbed to his own impulse and headed toward Hampton Beach. He didn’t see the boy by the road, even though it was about the time he usually got off work. It was a spectacular night in early August, warm breezes, shiny half moon on the ocean. Frank half-expected to see Tyve sitting on the seawall, staring out at the waters like a Dickens character staring into the fireplace.
Frank parked in a secure lot and went to the biggest arcade. He figured Tyve would work there, and maybe they’d know him if he worked at another, smaller place.
He asked one of the managers if he knew a boy, 17 or so, who called myself Tyve, and maybe he had quit in the past week. The young man, whose nametag read KILE, said he never heard of anyone with that name. There was a boy who’d quit – been fired for mouthing off – a week ago. Gerard. Frank asked what he looked like, and Kile reluctantly told him.
He informed Frank that the cops would be by any minute on their regular beat. “They look for guys like you, ‘daddy’.” Kile’s been-there smirk lasted until Frank hustled out to the street.
Out of breath, with his heart in overdrive, Frank started the car and told himself he felt nothing as he drove 1A down to Seabrook and over the state line. How many nights in his life, after all, had he driven round and round, never seeing or meeting or talking with a soul? His only company long-dead jazzmen. In twenty minutes he was crossing the Merrimack into Newburyport, and was soothed by the familiar facades of the old High Street houses as he headed toward his house in West Newbury. When he’d driven by the high school he saw Tyve walking west. Frank drove up beside him and lowered the window. “Want a lift?”
Tyve toked on the tail end of a joint and threw it down. It disappeared between the bricks of the sidewalk. “It’s not fah. I’ll walk. Thanks.”
Neither of them moved.
“It isn’t late. You can stay out late, can’t you, Gerard?”
“Fuck.” Tyve got in. Slammed the door hard. “You been stawkin’ me, Frank? That’s fuckin’ sick bahaviah.”
Frank couldn’t tell if he was really upset or playing up the working-class attitude to engineer some effect. “Get over yourself, Gerard.”
Tyve frowned when he heard the name Gerard. He sulked for a few minutes. He said, “I gut a new job at a sub shop downtown.”
“So that’s why you weren’t hitching up there!”
Tyve cracked a smile. “It really isn’t so bad. I don’t actually have to make the fucking sandwiches. They made me manager after like two nights because of how I handled a couple a drunks. Now I ride everybody else’s ass. Like what you do all day, huh?”
Frank harrumphed a bit. “It in no way resembles riding herd on a bunch of dropouts in a sub shop.” Tyve mimicked him silently. Then he said, “I wanna goda yaw house. I wanna see how the uthah hahf lives.”
They rode in silence until Frank stopped at the curb of the little shingled house that was perched on the cliff. He was cutting off his nose to spite his face, but this boy was so cavalier, so cynical about everything that he took nothing seriously. “Good night, Gerard.” Tyve looked at the house – all dark windows. He reached for Frank’s crotch. He smiled lasciviously. “If you’re sure you’re ready to call it quits?”
Frank nodded and removed the boy’s hand from his erection. “It’s been a tough day.”
Tyve got out and headed for the front door, fumbling for his key.
Frank lowered his window. “Come here, Gerard.” Tyve turned around and gave him a calculating smile. “Ya wanna see me, it’s Tyve.” Frank called softly, “Get in, Tyve.”
When they arrived at Frank’s house Tyve stared at the big, immaculately landscaped yard, the four-car garage, the 18-room house built about 1790 (“the original house had only eight rooms”). Floodlights exposed the grandiosity of the place. “Jesus. It’s a mansion.”
Frank preened and laughed, “No, not quite. You should see a real mansion.” Tyve glared at him, and Frank shut his mouth.
“You live here alone?”
“I do. Except for the housekeeper and gardener. A married older couple. Two for the price of one.” At that boast he heard Tyve mutter, “Cheap fuckah.”
They went into the house. Frank armed the alarm system and turned off the floods. He took the boy’s hand and led him through several richly appointed rooms, which seemed like a string of living rooms to Tyve. Frank closed the door behind him when they entered a book-lined room with a pair of big leather couches and a fireplace. “Sit down. Get comfortable.” Then he asked what Tyve wanted to eat or drink. Tyve said, “You decide.” He didn’t like to embarrass himself – was he supposed to ask for caviar? Frank pulled a cord, and in a few minutes a plump lady who looked very sleepy appeared at the door. Frank whispered something to her and she said, peering around him at Tyve, “Right away, Mr. Lyons.”
The opulent room oppressed Tyve, so he cracked, “Where’s the sex chamber?”
Tyve laughed and said, “Some kid told me you gut one in heah.”
Frank looked perplexed. “Where the hell did he hear that?”
Tyve shrugged. “Kid in Amesbury.”
“I don’t think so,” Frank said coldly. He stood and watched him until the housekeeper returned with a huge tray of food and drink. He locked the door after she left. He watched Tyve shovel in the tuna and roast beef sandwiches and chips, and a pair of cold chicken legs, washing them down with vodka and a beer chaser. It pleased Frank to see Tyve act unguarded; there was nothing ironic about the way he devoured the food and drink. He looked up at the hovering Frank. “She cut off all the crusts! Cool.” Tyve felt pampered and wasteful: rich. Just as he’d imagined, everything matched and everything was spotless. He was conscious of his shabbiness and the ugliness of his clothes, and of his own person.
As the boy ate, Frank drank in his slender hands, his delicate oval face and the way his hair fell down his forehead, almost into his eyes, so that he had to brush it away. His brown eyes disturbed him. It struck Frank how intense the boy’s pain was, that it radiated almost visibly from him, and how many layers of secrets he had to keep – look at that ridiculous false name. “Well,” Frank thought in a moment of hope over his experience, “amor omnia vincit.”
Tyve was looking at him, waiting for a cue. Frank didn’t move, so Tyve, loose from the vodka, said, “Come sit with me.” Frank went to the couch and sat awkwardly by him. Tyve put his arm around Frank. “Come here often?” Tyve asked. “You a virgin? Gut a girlfriend? Ever been with a man befoah? Tawp a bawttom? Ya practice safe sex? Oh, you simply must!” Tyve was twirling Frank’s hair around his forefinger. “Such a pretty man, a pretty pretty man.” Tyve licked his ear.
Frank brushed at his ear. He was smiling but felt foolish and angry. Tyve tightened his arm around him and kissed him lightly on the mouth. “Kissable lips,” Tyve whispered. “I love your lips.” He kissed Frank again, insistently, and Frank opened his mouth and moaned as Tyve ran his fluttering tongue around it. Frank kept his arms at his sides, afraid he’d crush the boy in his anger or passion. He didn’t quite know what was happening; he wasn’t used to a boy taking the initiative. Tyve ran his hand up Frank’s thigh to his dick. He squeezed gently on it, making it throb. Suddenly Frank grabbed Tyve’s head and devoured him with kisses. “Spend the night,” he said. “Spend the night.”
Tyve started to take off his clothes. “No. Come upstairs.” Frank took the vodka bottle and led Tyve up to an austere room with a double bed. Tyve understood about the double bed and grinned. He took off his clothes and left them in a heap. He put his phone on the night table. He watched Frank unveil his full-blown middle-aged male beauty, right on the tubby cusp of its decay to withered old age, and he reached out and grabbed Frank’s penis, groaning and muttering, “Oh fuck. Oh yah. Beautiful…” Frank gobbled up the sight of Tyve, his young slim body with unblemished smooth white skin, almost hairless, cock erect and purple. He reached out and grabbed the boy roughly, pulling his smaller body close, pulling his hair, biting his ear.
Tyve felt himself relaxing, enjoying the play. “Lay down,” Tyve said, breaking away. He positioned himself between Frank’s legs and got to work on his thick penis. “You’re cut. Mmm good. Be a good boy, Frankie. Tyvey’s takin’ you ta new places.”
As Tyve was taking him to new places, Frank wondered if the boy was a whore, and would he get hit with a demand for big money in the morning. Not that it mattered. For the moment he pretended he was falling in love.
Every night they met. Every night the routine was the same. “You’re quite a man,” Tyve whispered in his ear night after night, and lifted his pretty face and smiled winsomely. Frank would look at his blunt hands on the boy’s round little ass and his smooth back, and get an erection even if they’d just finished fucking. “You’re quite the man!” the boy would say, lubing up.
“You’re my fountain of youth, Tyve. You—“ He didn’t finish, covering the embarrassment of self-revelation with a groan on entering Tyve’s spread ass. Best of all, the boy insisted in doing it bareback. I fuckin’ hate cawndums. He was almost sick with the thrill and danger of it. Frank had never had such a responsive young lover. Every day was its tedious hell until night came and he saw his lovely boy waiting for him on High Street. “Do you love me, Frank?” he’d ask. Soon Frank answered, “I do.”
“I do, too,” he told Frank. Certainly Tyve liked Frank well enough as a lover. He was just rough enough. Tyve liked his weight and his hairiness, like Tuf, really, but hairier and a little fatter. He kissed better than Tuf, he had a softer more pliable mouth. He didn’t think Frank would make him bleed or smack him around. But you could never be sure.
Frank whispered, “Love, love,” in his sleep. Tyve listened to “love” and got sick from betrayal, because Tuf’s image didn’t automatically appear whenever he thought the word. Sometimes it was Frank’s worried face that came to mind – his hands – his prick.
Tyve got up on one elbow and watched Frank sleep. He smiled as the man snored, snuffled, shifted onto his belly. “Love,” Tyve whispered, trying out the word. “Love.” He ran his hand along Frank’s broad back, and traced a line up to his neck. He leaned in and licked his neck. He held tight onto Frank in the too-small bed.
Frank was awake now. Smiled. Said nothing. He foresaw a life with this beautiful boy.
Frank awoke and saw an unusual light. It was Tyve on his phone. He was texting. Crying. Then he put the phone face down. He sniffed. Frank could hear him wipe his eyes on the pillowcase. After a few minutes, the boy turned over and wrapped himself around Frank.
Frank exulted, flooded with warmth. He turned over and held the boy in his arms, kissing him gently. He floated to sleep on tropical waters.
Some time before dawn the alarm system sounded. The boy wasn’t in bed. After a few confused minutes Frank met the housekeeper in the front hall. She was terrified. “That boy, Mr. Lyons, he was a bad – “ The front door was open part way. Frank reset the alarm. “Nothing to worry about, Mrs. Porter,” he told her. He stood at the door, unwilling to shut it, staring at the front walk.
Betrayal tasted like the fucking steak and expensive wine that backed up and hit his mouth this morning. He stopped to throw up in the weeds by the roadside, and he hoped Frank’s cum was in the mess that went into the weeds. He hoped he’d forget the whole affair. Maybe that wouldn’t be so hard to do. Unlike Frank, he had love – a real, lasting love. Not always present or available, but as real as day and night. It came to him in the night, with the text that read: I [heart] U. COME 2 ME CHEZ MEME’ – SURPRISE 4 U
When he left it was well before light. He had to get dressed by feel. He hadn’t taken anything, not even the roll of bills Frank had put on his night table. The man wouldn’t be able to say Tyve was a whore.
He began walking to Newburyport.
Near the apple orchard on Route 113 Tyve stopped by the road and pulled out his phone. He got to the photos and scrolled through the gallery of pictures, hundreds of them, all of Tuf, some when he was sleeping, others when he was awake and randy. After five years, Tuf still filled him with wonder and joy. No one could compare – and not Frank. Tuf had been in Quebec a couple of years and came back when Tyve was 10, 11. He’d said, “What a beautiful child!” and began to hug him and invite him to take a bath with him and would speak to the boy of pussies and cocks. Tyve had entered puberty and saw Tuf in every night-thought and heard his voice everywhere he went. The pictures brought back a little of the old thrill, back when he was 12 and first in love with him. There was nothing like the first high of love, he thought bitterly, before it becomes a habit they can turn against you.
A car approached from behind. Tyve looked around. Frank in the 600. He lowered the window and leaned out. “Get in. I’ll take you home.”
Tyve hesitated a minute. He got in. Frank asked, “Do you want a ride home?” Tyve stuck the phone out. “This is him,” he said defiantly. Frank looked from the phone to Tyve and back.
“Jesus Christ, Gerard.” Frank looked straight ahead, in shock. “You poor little bastard.” He covered his eyes and murmured, “You should go far away. This is poisonous.”
Tyve shook his head. “He’d come after me. If I went to California, he’d find me.” He looked smugly at Frank. “I’d want him to. A love like ours—“
Frank backhanded him. “Don’t be a fucking idiot! What kind of love—“ Frank was breathing hard and his eyes were red.
Tyve rubbed his cheek. There was only one man who could hit him, and it wasn’t this rich queer. He lowered the window. It was still dark out. There was a dank chill in the air. He began to talk about his father. How he had always admired him more than anyone in the world. How handsome and strong and smart he was. How when he was twelve he developed a powerful attraction to him, and how he would lie awake at night thinking about being with him. And how one night his father, naked, opened the door and peeked in. “Are you OK? Your ma says you’re sick.”
“Come here, Daddy. I don’t feel so good.” His father sat on the bed and said, “What’s the problem?”
“Here.” He lowered the covers and guided his father’s hand to his erection.
“Que tu fait, Gerard?” He raised himself and kissed his father on the lips. “Bad boy. Bad.” His father’s hands caressed him and soon his dick found its way to Gerard’s tight bum. “Oh, bad bad boy!” He laughed as the boy squirmed with pain and no lube, rasping in his ear, “Ooh, relax, amour, it gets better.”
Afterwards they lay in each other’s arms, Gerard in a state of bliss he wouldn’t feel again. He ran his hands through his father’s hair and hoped he loved him back. He ran his tongue in his father’s ear and got him to groan and shift so that he was licking a sensitive spot on Gerard’s neck. “I love you, Daddy. Stay with me tonight. Hold me all night. Please stay.” He arched himself and rubbed his hard penis against his father’s.
“Don’t be stupid.” He grabbed the boy’s face then slapped him. “Don’t tell nobody,” he whispered and closed the door behind him.
Five years of clandestine fucking, and the many more lonely nights. He let all of it out to Frank; but it didn’t heal a thing or lessen the desire. Voice shaking in his defeat, Frank said, “Think about this, Tyve. I’ll help – I know you don’t have any resources – we’ll get you away from here -- we’ll get you enrolled in a nice college out west, maybe I can visit you once a year—“
Tyve shook his head as if to say, “No thank you. It’s very kind of you, though.”
In a few minutes the sun rose, and the countryside and the little houses of the North End were bathed in a bright golden light, serene and warm. They sat at the roadside quite a while until Tyve said, “Take me home.” He looked Frank in the eye. “I need him. He needs me.” Frank looked sick. “Oh my God.”
Soon they were at the street of the little shingled house. Frank saw the man from the photographs standing on the lawn by an Adirondack chair, where he was setting a bottle of vodka on the arm. He was a handsome man with thinning brown hair. He was beginning to thicken in the middle. A 45-year-old version of Tyve.
At that moment a small, wiry woman burst from the front door crying, “Gerard, Gerard, look who’s here!” She was waving a dish towel. The man on the lawn looked up and waved at Tyve and Frank. A handsome little boy of 10 or 11 peeked out from behind Tyve’s father. He looked afraid until Gerard senior put his arm around his shoulders and kissed his head, whispering something that coaxed a half-hearted smile from the boy. Gerard looked up and grinned in a proprietary way that made Frank want to run him down. The boy saw Gerard junior and an arrogant look of triumph spread over his face.
Frank saw Tyve’s desolation. Frank wrote something on a post-it pad that he kept in the glove compartment. “Here, Gerard,” he said, tearing a sheet off the pad, “it’s my personal cell. If you want help--”
Gerard left the paper on the seat and got out. He went to his father and was folded in his arms. The little boy wrapped his arms around the man’s thigh. The man bent down and kissed Gerard passionately. Roughly he pushed away the little boy, who landed on the ground. Gerard snuggled into his neck, and his father tousled his hair as he leaned urgently into his ear and whispered, “Mon ti amour.” They watched Frank all the while. Gerard gave Frank a little boy’s smile and turned his back.