Ten – Tucker
One of the worst things to wake up to is your phone ringing before the sun even rises. I flopped around, groggy, unable to figure out where I was at first, as my damn phone rang and rang and rang.
“Phone,” Sterling grumbled and it all came back to me in a snap. Where I was, what had happened, and the secrets that we’d shared last night. I’d suspected that he’d had some strict upbringing, but never imagined that his father was a preacher in an evangelical church. I didn’t do religion, nor had my family, so the fervor of it all escaped me. No wonder the man was grappling so with his sexuality. “Phone…please.”
“Sorry.” I slid from the bed, the room shrouded in darkness, the drapes tightly drawn to hide us from prying eyes. The peal of the old time brrrrrrring-brrrrrrrring ring tone I used leading me to where my cell lay on the table like a beacon. I peeked at the call coming in, saw it was Shin, and rolled my eyes as I made my way back to bed. “It’s Shin,” I told Sterling. “Probably calling to check up on me since I didn’t go home last night.”
“Okay.” His voice was slurred with sleep. I wiggled back under the covers, my back facing him, and answered the call.
“Hey, yo,” I opened with. “Sorry I didn’t leave a message, but I’m fine. My client and I decided to make it an overnight visit so no need to worry about—”
“Red, it’s Butch.”
“We have a bit of an incident taking place here at the office.”
“What kind of incident?”
“There’s an INS agent here looking for you.”
Shit. Shit. Shit. “For me?”
Sterling rustled around behind me. My chest felt tight.
“Yeah, for you. You’re the only Tucker Cameron from Canada on our payroll, right?” He was being a sarcastic ass. He knew my name. I’d had to tell them for payroll purposes. I’d still not given them my social security number, because there was none, but my excuse of ‘I lost it and had to send away for a replacement’ had put them off for a few weeks.
“Yes,” I squeaked.
“They’re demanding Shin and I turn you over for questioning. Seems they had an anonymous call about your immigration status. Did you come into the country illegally?”
Shit. Shit. Shit. A call? Who would have called Immigration and Naturalization on me? My thoughts were spinning out of control. I took a deep breath, in through the nose and out through the nose. An anonymous call? That was messed up. There was only one person who knew that I came in without papers. Oh. Oh, fuck me. My jaw just about hit my chest. Kennedy Parks. That motherfucker.
“I need a yes or no. Did you not get a green card?” Butch’s raspy voice broke through the anger now making it hard to breathe.
“No, I did not. I had no job unless you can list sucking dick as viable employment. I also didn’t have the thousand or so bucks for the filing fees. I left home, hitchhiked to a small town near the border, and then crossed over and took a bus to Colchester, thinking I’d work here for a bit, then move to Chicago, where I could get lost among the whores there. Parks found me in the park and took me to Gems, got me an Illinois driver’s license, and pulled a few strings, I’d assumed. No one ever came looking for me until today.”
“So Parks knows you’re an illegal immigrant?”
“Jesus H. fucking Christ. Okay, so here’s what we’re going to do. Ian’s already been notified and is calling an immigration attorney. Shin’s in his office, stalling this prick. I’m going to lead this INS guy on a wild goose chase around Colchester to give Ian and his man time. You stay where you are until you hear from me.”
Sterling rolled over, his hand dropping softly to my back. My gut lurched. “Okay, yeah, I’ll stay put.”
“Do not run or do anything stupid. We’ll get this settled and see about getting you a visa or something, whatever they want. We’re going to have to play by the rules here as soon as we get some room to breathe. You may have to go back to Canada for a bit, but we’ll work our asses off to get you back as soon as we can.”
“Yeah, okay, thanks, Butch. Tell Shin and Ian thanks, too. I’m really sorry about all this.”
“Meh, don’t be. I assumed when Ian shoved me into this whorehouse partnership with Shin I’d be up to my tender white asshole in legal issues. Right, so, I better get my ass out of the crapper and go pretend like I know a few places where you might be.”
“Okay, thanks again. I’m sorry.”
“Stop being so Canadian. I can’t handle all that polite niceness so fucking early in the morning.”
The call ended. I choked and coughed to keep the tears at bay. Sterling’s hand began moving in gentle circles across my shoulders. “Would you like to talk to me about it? Can I help?”
I cough/laughed as I curled in on myself, chucking my phone to the nightstand. “Thanks, but unless you know someone who can make me into an American citizen by noon, then there’s nothing you can do, other than hold me so I don’t freak out entirely.”
He sat up, his arms came around me from behind, and he kissed the side of my throat. “Talk to me. I might be able to help in some way.” Scooting around to face him, my eyes met his. “I promise there will be no judgement of any kind. Please, I can see you’re upset. Talk to me. Let me help you as you’ve helped me.”
I ran my hand over his chest, the crisp black hairs curling over my fingers. “I’m not so sure I helped you much at all. You did that yourself.”
His mouth flattened. “Wrong, that is so wrong. If not for you, I’d still be locked into the dark attic that all those childhood sermons had shoved me into. I’m still a cowardly bastard, but at least I’ve come to realize that what we’re doing, what we have, isn’t dirty or sinful. It’s as reverent as any emotional pact between a man and a woman.”
I wanted to kiss him. Lay down beside him and pretend life was not the shitstorm it always seemed to be. But, I couldn’t. He had a game and I had the immigration office breathing down my neck. I launched into the short version of my sad and sordid past. Abusive father, mother with mental illness that left me to face the violence alone.
“I ran away for the first time at seven, but only made it a few blocks before a neighbor took me back home. I got an ass beating for that. Then, yearly, I tried it again, and every time someone would call my father and I’d get another beating. Each year, they got worse as his alcoholism took over more and more of his mind. Finally, the last time, I was thirteen and I’d planned ahead. Worked during the summer, saved my cash from mowing lawns, and hitchhiked instead of walking.” He shook his head. “Yeah, I know, I could have been killed, but I wasn’t. And in all honesty, the likelihood that my father was going to end up killing me was higher than that of a random stranger choking me to death.”
“I am so sorry,” he whispered, pulling me tight to his side. My cheek came to rest on his belly, my gaze on his face.
“Yeah, me too. And I’m sorry for the fucked-up gospel that you had hammered into your head as a kid. Gay people aren’t sick or twisted or sinful.”
“I know, or I should say I know, but now, I’m really starting to know.”
“I do not want to go back to Canada,” I whispered, my palm stalling over his heart. “I’m not sure I could go without seeing you a few times a week.”
“Tell me what is going on.”
Gazing into his eyes, haunted eyes like the ones that looked back at me from the mirror, I let it all out about Kennedy Parks and what I knew about his ties to organized crime in Colchester. I was sure I only knew a tenth of the illegalities Parks and his cronies were involved in. By the time I had reached the end, Sterling’s silence weighed on me.
“We have to get out of here.” I gawked at him shimmying from the bed, as if someone had lit a fire under his fine ass. “Get dressed. I’m taking you to my place.”
“Are you sure?” I scurried out of the covers, dressing as rapidly as he was.
“I’m sure.” He took my hand, guiding it to his lips. I climbed over him, capturing his mouth with a teary, bruising kiss that could have led to pleasures untold if not for the chaotic storm of crap that had blown into my life. “I will not allow you to be deported or harmed. Let’s go. Wear these.” He handed me his shades. There wasn’t much to be done about my flaming hair.
“Are you one hundred percent sure? I don’t want to drag your name though the mud if this shit gets nasty. You’re Sterling Vesco, superstar, idol for millions of kids.”
His jaw tightened a bit. “Don’t put me on a pedestal, Tucker. Trust me, I’m just as flawed, if not more so, than any other man. Now, please, gather up the toys and your personal items, and let’s go.”
I nodded and rushed around, gathering up my lube and condoms. The anal beads were chucked into the trash can. There was no time to wash and disinfect them. We snuck out of our room, sunglasses on even though the sun was blotted out by thick snow clouds. Sterling’s Audi was running when we got to it. We slipped inside, the doors locked, and after we buckled up, we were on our way back to Colchester. I watched the scenery in silence, strip malls and gas stations mostly as we neared the city limits. Sterling mumbled something under his breath as we cruised over one of the twin bridges
“What is it?”
His lips were flatlined.
“I just remembered that people know where I live.”
“What people? People from INS?”
“No, other people.” He wheeled the Audi around. Horns blared. My life fucking flashed before my eyes. I’d never seen anything like this lunatic pulling a U-turn in the middle of a four-lane bridge.
“Jesus Christ!” I shouted, my heart hammering in my chest as he streaked around a minivan, heading back the way that we’d come. “What the fuck dude?!”
“We can’t go to my place. This guy I kind of work for knows where I live. If Parks is as close as you say to the mob, they’ll find you.”
“How? No one knows about us.” My mouth was coated with fear. It tasted shitty.
“They will. They always find out about you, no matter how discreet you think you’re being.”
I was totally confused. “So the owner of the Colts knows where you live. So what?”
He sailed down an off-ramp at close to eighty. “No, not the owner. Some other person who has ties to the team.”
“How do you know this guy?”
A long pause followed my question. “I’m not sure I should tell you. It will keep you out of any shit that might fall down on me.”
Destiny dropped on my head. It felt like a baby grand as my brain started putting puzzle pieces together.
“This has a real DeNiro, Pesci, Liotta Good Fellas feel to me.” His reply was to tap the volume button on the steering wheel and crank up the bluesy-jazz music floating out of the speakers. I turned the volume knob down. He threw a look my way. “Is this mob related?”
“It’s probably best if you don’t worry about that.”
“Fuck. Oh, fuck, it is, isn’t it?” My stomach flipped over on itself.
“Sometimes, we have to do what we have to do to protect ourselves and our reputations. Stop acting as if you’ve never dealt with men who do questionable things. Your former employer was so far up the ladder of organized crime that he got nose bleeds. How else would a brothel succeed as his did? Which means that you’ve taken a few crooks to your bed with full knowledge of what they did.”
I turned from him. He had me dead to rights. I’d sucked and fucked several of Kennedy’s “friends” over the years, free of charge. It’s amazing how many so called straight as an arrow Catholic men delight in fucking a male hooker in the ass. The air in the Audi was thick with bitterness. His and mine.
“Tucker, I’m sorry. I’m being blunt and I can see that I’m hurting you, but this is a situation where you could know too much.”
“I get it, I do.” I tapped at the window as we sped past tractor trailers parked alongside the highway, the drivers catching some sleep before continuing their trip. “What if we get caught by this friend of yours?”
There was a slight pause before he replied. “We won’t. Trust me. You do trust me, right? I’ve shared things with you that I’ve not told anyone else.”
That pulled my sight from the highway mile markers. “What kind of trouble are you in with this guy who’s with the team but not the owner?” His chest expanded under his designer coat, the exhalation long and slow. He wet his lips, glanced my way, then went back to watching the road. “You’re asking me to trust you, right? Well, you have to trust me too. Are you throwing games or something?”
His lips pressed together tightly; his fingers tightened on the wheel. “You have enough legal entanglements to worry about right now. Let’s not bring discussing any alleged criminality on my half into this mess.”
“Holy shit,” I softly said, his evasive reply floating in the air like stale cigar smoke. “We’re one hell of a pair, huh? Maybe if this all goes to hell, we’ll be in the same jail cell. It worked for Mickey and Ian.”
“If only this were a Showtime drama.”
Yeah, if only…