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Category: Gay male
Description: It all began with a few simple questions.
Keywords: Romance, Drama
Special requirements: Italics, em dashes, a superscript rd, a dieresis over the i in ‘naïve’.
Pickup — Part I
This story will be posted in two parts.
Readers looking for a story that moves quickly to sex had best look elsewhere.
If I had been in the mood for intimate companionship that evening I would be at a gay bar or club, not in the city’s red-light district. I was there only because on my way home from a business meeting a detour for construction had sent me along that dimly-lit street.
I drove slowly, fascinated as always by the assortment of buffed-up men and seductively-clad women flaunting their availability for a price, and the variety of furtive characters offering happiness through chemistry.
All at once I noticed a boy standing at the curb, his fresh young face made especially appealing by eyes of deep blue and wavy, golden-blond hair. Notwithstanding his small stature he appeared to be in his late teens. He was not wearing a coat or a jacket, and in total disregard for the mid-March chill his shirt was open above the waist, exposing a triangle of smooth chest to the wintry breezes.
Even if I had been in the mood that evening, my personal standards prohibit intimate contact with anyone that young. However, I was curious. I pulled up next to where he was standing.
He moved back timidly.
I pressed the button that rolled down the passenger-side window. He hesitated. Then he approached the car, bent over, and peered in at me.
“What are your rates?” I asked.
He seemed nervous: “Uh …thirty-five for a bj, and−”
“I can get it for thirty.”
“Oh … Ok, I’ll take thirty.”
I reached over and opened the passenger-side door.
He sat down in the passenger seat and looked at me expectantly as I studied his face: the bright blue eyes, the button nose, a mouth that just invited kisses. He was captivating.
Growing increasingly nervous under my gaze, he looked away and ran a hand over the soft leather seat. “This is a classy little sports car. It smells new.”
“You were telling me your rates” I reminded him. “How much for a Wiffle Jig?”
“Uh … what do you usually pay?”
“You don’t know what a Wiffle Jig is, do you?”
“How long have you been on the street?”
He paused, apparently searching for an acceptable answer: “… A while.”
“Any regular customers?”
Another pause. His discomfiture was palpable. “… A few.”
“What’s your name?”
He eyed me suspiciously. “Are you a cop?”
“No, I just need a name to call you.”
“Oh. It’s Keith.”
That was not a street name, so it was his real one. And he had given answers, fictitious though they were, to questions I had no right to ask. He was a babe in the woods. “Well Keith, no one who works this street would give a bj for thirty. Or thirty-five. The going rate is seventy. And a Wiffle Jig is a variation of ATW. Do you even know what ATW is? Of course you don’t, you’re clueless. This is your first night on the street and I would be your first customer. Right?”
“That’s what I thought. How old are you?”
A pause. “Twenty one.”
I stared at him until he decided to be truthful: “Ok, I’m only eighteen. But I’m a mature eighteen.”
“According to who? Never mind. Tell you what: I’ll pay you seventy. For two hours of your time.”
His eyes narrowed. “Doing what?”
“First, having something to eat. I’ve been listening to your stomach rumble since you got into the car. After that, just talking.”
“Seventy bucks and all you want to do with me is talk?”
“No” I said, glancing at the sturdy thighs in his tight black pants and the bulge at his crotch. “I’d like to do a lot more with you than talk, but I don’t have sex with boys as young as you.”
So I treated him to a meal. What can I say, I’m a pushover for blond hair and blue eyes.
I couldn’t take him to an upscale restaurant dressed the way he was, even after he buttoned up his shirt. I took him to a diner. When our orders came, he started eating as if he thought the food might be snatched away at any moment.
“Take it easy” I said. “There’s no hurry.”
He stopped long enough to say “Sorry. I’m starved, I left the house before dinner. Hey is this coming out of my seventy bucks?”
“No, this is on me.”
I waited until he had downed one of the diner’s “Superburgers”, an order of fries, a large cola, and was tucking into dessert, before I said: “So you’re only eighteen. You poor naïve kid, do you have any idea what will happen to you out there? Customers will make you do things you hate, you’ll be robbed by people who know you can’t go to the police, you’ll get diseases you haven’t even heard of, and you’ll be arrested any time there’s a crackdown by the Vice Squad. I shudder to think what awaits a handsome istanbul travesti boy like you in jail: You’ll be servicing some big smelly neanderthal named Tiny.”
He grinned. “I’m handsome?”
“Did you hear anything I’ve been telling you?”
“And all you got out of it was that I think you’re handsome? I suppose I shouldn’t expect anything more from someone your age. When did you turn eighteen?”
“Well don’t count on making it to nineteen. Where did you tell your parents you were going tonight?”
“Nowhere. I sneaked out. My mom will be upset but my dad won’t care. Ever since he found out I’m gay he ignores me except when he’s thought of some new insult.”
“At eighteen you’re what, a college freshman?”
“No, I was still a Junior in high school. I missed two years when my dad took me out of school and sent me to a place that does conversion therapy.
“You were there for TWO YEARS?”
“Almost to the day. It was that long before I could fake my responses well enough to convince those torturers that they had made me straight.”
“Then they sent you home.”
“Yes, where I was two school grades below where I should have been by then. I never caught up.”
He chuckled. “My dad was really pissed when he found out I’m still gay. He didn’t send me back to that house of torture, though. He said that if two years of therapy didn’t cure me he was through trying.”
“What did you mean when you said you were a junior in high school? Aren’t you there now?”
“We’re on Spring Break. I won’t be going back.”
“I do lousy in school. I fall asleep in class.”
“What do you do after school? When you’re not trying to rent out your body.”
“I paint pictures. I don’t know if they’re any good but I love to see a blank white canvas turn into an outdoor scene.”
“Do you stay up late to paint?”
“Pretty late I guess.”
“Your school problem might just be lack of sleep.”
“I never thought of that.”
Keith was now finishing his dessert, and I hoped that my description of street life had caused him to reconsider his choice of career. “How about going to bed earlier and giving school another shot? Let me drive you home right now, I won’t hold you to the two hours.”
“No, take me back to where you picked me up.”
“Why don’t you want to go home?”
“Because my dad will be pissed that I sneaked out, and he knocks me around any time he has an excuse. I’m through being his punching bag, I’m going to live on my own.”
“How long do you think it will take the police to find you when your parents report you missing?”
“There won’t be any report. My mom will want to file one but my dad won’t let her. He’ll be glad I’m gone, he says I’m nothing but an extra expense. Just pay me the seventy bucks so I can go to a hotel tonight.”
“You think you can get a hotel room in this city for seventy dollars?”
“There are some cheap places on that street. Or maybe you could loan me a couple hundred, then I can go someplace better. I know how to do things men will like, I could pay you back in a few days. You drive a fancy sports car, you can afford to part with a couple hundred for a day or two, can’t you?”
“You don’t even know what to charge.”
“I will if you tell me.”
It was possible that Keith’s portrayal of his father was exaggerated or even false. He would not be the first teenager to run away from home in an act of rebellion. But whatever his reason, I was horrified by the prospect of this unworldly boy trying to make his way among the sharks who populate that street. There had to be alternatives. And I would have to find one. My own history demanded it.
Signaling for the check, I said: “No way will I take you back to that street. It would be like putting a lamb into a lion’s den. Let me drive you home, I’ll have my private investigator look into what you’ve told me. If your father is half as bad as you say he is, I know which authorities will take action when I notify them.” I handed him my cell phone. “Here, call your parents. Say you went to an art show and someone you met there wants to see your paintings. Unless your father is crazy he won’t hit you in the presence of a witness, and I won’t leave until he’s cooled down.”
Reluctantly, Keith took my phone and did as I suggested. I heard someone on the other end yelling at him. Keith apologized for sneaking out. More loud invective from the other end. “No” Keith said, “I’m not in any trouble. I’ll be home soon.”
I paid him the agreed seventy dollars before we left the diner.
I’m tall and solidly built, almost everyone looks small next to me. But Keith is much shorter than I am, which makes the effect striking. As we walked toward the house to face his angry father, I felt a wave of protectiveness. I put an arm around his shoulders.
He smiled up at me.
He went ahead up the front steps to open the door, giving me my first good look at the curvaceous little behind in his istanbul travestileri tight pants. I added it to my mental list of his best features.
Keith’s father was sitting in the living room. I went over to him and held out my hand. “Hello, I’m Eric Slater.”
Remaining seated, he locked my hand in a crushing grip and gave it one quick shake before letting go. “Daryl” he said curtly. Then he turned to Keith. “I’ll deal witchoo later.”
Keith’s mother came into the room in response to our voices. When she saw Keith, she ran to her son and hugged him. “Oh sweetheart, we were so worried, we didn’t know where you’d gone!”
“I’m sorry for not telling anyone.”
I introduced myself to Keith’s mother and then said to him: “I’d like to see your paintings now.”
“They’re upstairs in my bedroom.”
Daryl piped up: “Look out he don’t show you more than his pictures, he’s a fag. Or are you a fag too?”
That confirmed one of Keith’s assertions: Daryl was a homophobe. He was also a boor, and my reply was milder than he deserved: “You seem very interested in your son’s carnal activities. Maybe if you ask nicely he’ll let you watch.”
Daryl glared at me and started to rise from his chair with clenched fists, corroborating more of Keith’s description: He was prone to violence.
“Don’t even think about it” I said, slipping a hand inside my suit jacket. “I’m armed.”
It was a bluff, but it worked: He sat down and settled for declaring: “Some fags get what they deserve.”
With that declaration Daryl showed himself to be even worse than Keith had indicated: He represented a significant threat to his son.
In Keith’s bedroom, unframed paintings were propped against every wall. Their quality and the wide variety of styles caused me to ask: “Which ones did you paint?”
“All of them.”
I was only in my mid-twenties when I met Keith, but I already had a flourishing business as a dealer in art objects, having achieved such early success thanks largely to an entrepreneurial nature and a keen eye for quality. A major part of my business was (and remains) the buying and selling of paintings, for which I’ve had to develop some expertise in art appraisal. “Keith,” I said, “false claims don’t sit well with me. There are original paintings here in at least five different styles ranging from early Renaissance to Cubist. They can’t all be your work.”
“Well they are,” he said. “I guess I’ve been influenced by a lot of painters. I go to art museums all the time and there’s plenty to see on the Internet.”
Aspiring artists often copy the works of the masters in order to develop technique. But creating original works, in all these styles? And doing it so well? At his age? Not very likely. The sympathy I had felt for Keith was evaporating. “Can you prove that you painted everything here?”
“How would I do that?”
I thought for a moment. “Paint two small pictures for me right now. Make one expressionist, like … let’s say … a Campendonk.”
“His early period or his late period?”
“Your choice” I answered, impressed that he knew the work of this fairly obscure artist.
“What subject? So far I’ve only done landscapes and still-lifes.”
“Either one will do.”
Keith arranged his paints, chose brushes, and began his first picture. The prismatic forms that characterize much of Campendonk’s work began to appear. I stopped him. “Alright, put that aside and start on the second painting. For this one, do something in a romantic style. How about … a Biedermeier?”
He had completed only a portion of the second canvas when it was obvious that to anyone but an expert the painting could easily pass for a Biedermeier. “Stop” I said. “You’ve convinced me. You have an extraordinary talent!”
A gorgeous boy who was an artistic prodigy? I wouldn’t mind having him around. A plan started forming in my mind. “Do you have any interests other than painting?”
“Yes, botany. I hope to have a huge garden someday.”
Not useful for what I was thinking. “Any other interests?”
“Computers. I’ve been taking classes since middle school, it’s the one subject I ace.”
That was promising. “Do you know how to work with spreadsheets? Can you write Excel formulas?”
“Sure. Formulas, macros. Why?”
“What about document files? Multiple sections, graphics, master documents?”
“Any other computer skills?”
“Before Spring Break we were coding Web pages. Hey what’s this all about?”
Perfect! I now had an alternative for Keith – if I could get his father to agree. “Let’s go back downstairs” I said. “I have an idea that should appeal to everyone.”
Daryl had not moved from his chair. I walked up to him, and adopting a strictly-business tone in place of my earlier sarcasm, I said: “Daryl, I buy and sell works of art, and I can tell you that Keith’s paintings are outstanding for someone who’s had no instruction. I’m willing to set up a studio for him in a room above my garage, travesti istanbul provide whatever supplies he needs, and hire a teacher. The room is large, he can live there while he’s in training.”
“Wadda you get outta that?”
“With adequate guidance he’ll reach a level at which his work will be marketable. I’ll sell his paintings through the galleries I deal with, taking a commission on each sale. Part of our agreement will be that he makes me his exclusive agent for five years.”
“Who’ll pay fer his food and stuff while he’s livin’ at your place?”
“He’ll pay for his food – by doing computer tasks for me. I’ll pay all his other expenses as an investment against future commissions.”
Daryl sat there, considering: “Get’n him off my budget ain’t a bad idea, the little fairy’s always at me for money to buy art supplies. If my wife didn’t beg me, I wouldn’t give him squat; he goes through that crap like he’s eatin’ it.”
Then, recognizing his inadvertent joke, Daryl belted out a simian laugh. “Eat’n crap! I wouldn’t put it past ‘im.”
I turned to Keith. “What do you say to that arrangement?”
“I say you’ve described paradise.”
“Then we have a deal. You’re not old enough yet to sign a contract, so for now is a handshake acceptable?”
“I’m old enough” Daryl said. “Yull make a contract with me, and when his pictures start sellin’ I’ll handle the money.”
The thought of Daryl having control of Keith’s earnings sent a chill along my spine. Keith would have to beg for every dollar — if even a dollar were left once his father took out for “expenses”.
As I was trying to figure out how to protect Keith’s income, Daryl’s face took on a crafty expression. “Come ta think of it, you never said if yer a fag too. He’s a good-lookin’ kid, I’ll bet it ain’t his pictures yer after. Wad’ll ya pay me ta let ya have ‘im?”
I could scarcely believe my ears! Daryl had unwittingly set a trap for himself. I would have to be very careful or he might escape. Hiding my nervousness, I answered: “That depends on how I decide to use him. What do you think, should I keep him as my boy toy or should I pimp him out?”
I held my breath. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Keith staring at me in horror.
“Whatever” Daryl responded. “Make me an offer.”
Ah, the fruits of greed and hubris. In my imagination there was a loud SNAP as the trap sprang shut. I resumed breathing. “My offer is … a nice long prison sentence.”
“What the hell are you talkin’ about?”
“You just tried to sell your son to me for sex. That’s a crime punishable by up to fifty years in prison. My recording of your proposition will interest the District Attorney.”
“Bullshit! I don’t see no recorder! Cut the crap, make me an offer.”
I turned over a lapel of my suit jacket, disclosing the button microphone. “In my business it’s important to have an authenticated record of all negotiations. I switched this on when we came downstairs. Every word spoken in this room is being transmitted to a certified machine in a secure location. My recordings have been ruled admissible in court.”
Daryl’s face lost most of its color, and his voice lost all of its smugness. “Hey, let’s not go overboard here, I was only jokin’.”
“I don’t think a jury would believe that” I said. “But I’ll give you another option: Sign legal custody of your son over to me, and the recording will never see the light of day. Think fast, the offer expires in ten seconds.”
“I’ll still manage the money, right?”
“No. His earnings will go into a trust fund that I’ll manage.”
“I’m his old man” Daryl whined, “I oughta get somethin’ outa this!”
“You will” I said, walking to the door. “A prison cell. Time’s up, I’m leaving.”
“OK, OK! Take custody! That’ll make him your kid, right? Fine with me.”
“Both you and your wife will have to sign. Will that be a problem?
“She’ll sign. She does what I say.”
“Alright. I’ll be here early tomorrow morning with the documents. Have his birth certificate and all his medical records ready for me.” I opened the door. “One more thing: If you even threaten Keith tonight, much less injure him, my recording will go straight to the District Attorney. Keith, come outside, we have to talk.”
As soon as we were out the door, Keith socked me hard on the arm. “You scared the hell out of me!”
“I couldn’t warn you without tipping my hand and ruining everything.”
“Well couldn’t you at least … no, I guess you couldn’t. What you did was way smart. I apologize.”
“Apology accepted. Have your things ready tomorrow morning.”
When I pulled up the following day with the custody forms and a notary, Keith was waiting outside. “Wow” he said. “A fancy sports car, a big SUV, how many cars do you have?”
“Only two at present. Are you all packed?”
“Yes but I’m having second thoughts. I’m anxious about my mom. My dad hits her too. The slightest thing sets him off, and he’s getting worse: Last night he rammed her against the wall. I told her she needs to get away from him or someday he’ll hurt her really bad, but she doesn’t believe it because he always says he’s sorry and the next day he brings her flowers. Maybe I should stay. When he’s focused on me he isn’t hitting her.”
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