Three – Sterling
Over the twenty-seven years I’d been alive, I’d come to learn that life is a lot like a football game. When you least expect it, fate will break through the line and sack your ass.
I’d never been one of those men who believed in all that romantic crap, where you glance across a crowded room and there he stood. Sure, maybe for women, that kind of thing happened, but for men? Gay men? Nope. Love wasn’t really a thing for men like me. Lust, yes, plenty of that. But tender emotions weren’t a male thing, or at least a queer man thing. Yet, there he stood, on the arm of Tracy Montman, the owner of Montman Brewery, one of the largest employers in Colchester. The brewery coming in second to the Colts, who employed several hundred people at the Harry P. Lewes stadium. Montman Beer was the only beer sold at the games, and was the official beer of the Colchester Colts and several minor league teams, as well.
He stood head and shoulders above Tracy, who I’d met on several occasions. They were really polar opposites. Maybe that was what drew my eye to them when they entered the banquet hall. Tracy was short, in his mid-sixties, bald as a baby, and round as a beer keg. His date was tall, rangy, early twenties, and blessed with wavy red hair. The younger man looked like he’d been carved out of fine white Italian marble, his skin was so pale. I looked away, drawn back into the conversation with two of the city’s aldermen. What they were saying was lost as my mind, and my eye, moved back to Montman and his date. I took a sip of my lemon seltzer water, observing them as they moved through the well-dressed crowd.
What was it like to take a man out like that? So brazenly. And one so young and beautiful when you were so old and…well, not beautiful. Tracy had a nose like a gherkin. His date was flawless, like a rare gem. High cheekbones, a delicate nose, and eyes the same rich dark blue as the Colts uniforms. When his gaze met mine a hundred feet away, I twisted away, excusing myself from the aldermen to slip around the string quartet and hide by the patio doors, bubbling drink in hand. My body was humming like it did after a game when I was full of endorphins and testosterone. My cock was plumping up. I turned from the party. Pulse jumping, I stared out into the snowy grounds of the Colchester Arms Hotel outdoor garden. No one sat at the wrought iron tables now. The umbrellas had all been stored for the winter. Eyes closed, I leaned forward to rest my overheated brow to the icy glass.
I’d known the drive had been growing of late, that need to find some sort of release, but I’d been able to keep it in check. Then, out of nowhere, this ginger strolls in on the arm of the most famous queer in the city, and suddenly I’m hiding in the shadows. Envy and despair battled for control. I closed my eyes for a moment, willing my emotions to settle. There was no time and no place for this in my life. We had a game in Green Bay on Sunday. Tomorrow was a travel day. I needed to keep my thoughts on the game.
“Enjoying the scenery?”
I lifted my head from the glass, shame racing up my neck, and looked to the left. There stood a man that I’d never met before, but I knew his face well. Richard Bianchi, reputed next in line to the Bianchi sanitation, development, and organized crime empires, was smiling at me as if we were brothers.
“Not too much to see, sadly,” I replied, shifting my seltzer to my left hand so we could shake. “During the summer it’s a lively spot, filled with pretty women in slinky dresses and cool jazz.”
“That it is,” he replied as we pumped each other’s hands. “My father used to bring my sister and me here all the time to listen to the music. He’s a big jazz fan.”
“Well, then, he has good taste.” We turned from the wintery scene behind us to gaze out on the glamourous people of Colchester. The man beside me sipped on the amber liquid in his tumbler, seemingly at ease in his tuxedo, his dark eyes skipping around until they landed on Tracy Montman and his date. Again, the stunning redhead looked my way. Again, I averted my gaze.
“Funny how, just ten years ago, certain elements wouldn’t have been welcome at a gala like this,” Richard said, waving his drink at the elegant tables bowed with prime rib, shellfish, and sweets. All this excess while kids on the southside were turning tricks on the street or rummaging through trash cans for discarded food. The Colchester River was the great divider. “Now, everywhere you look, you see fags on the street.” I remained silent, eyes on the servers moving through the rich with trays of bubbly pink champagne. “Next thing you know, they’ll be playing football.”
The sip of seltzer I’d just taken caught in my throat. My eyes flew to the man beside me. His expression was schooled and serene.
“I doubt that,” I managed to reply.
“I hope not. Sports is the last refuge of real men.” He gave me a quick glance, deep brown eyes shiny with something unpleasant. “Rumor has it that we’re up against the Growlers this Sunday. Dad and I thought about flying out to watch the game with the governor and his boosters, but we had other things to do. My sister is getting married on New Year’s Day and there’s all kinds of wedding shit to attend to. We’re hoping that you win big in Wisconsin, Sterling.”
“I’ll do my best,” I replied. Message received, or at least I imagined it was a message. With no Morton to scurry in to pass along the desired results of the games, it was hard to tell who was simply hoping for a win and who was banking on one. I found that disconcerting, to say the least, but, given the people Morton worked for, disappearing probably happened frequently. I wished I could disappear, but I was in too deep to ever make a clean break. The lemon on my tongue tasted sour now, the bubbles too effervescent, the heat of the room and the thick cloud of expensive perfume a little too much to handle. “Speaking of which, I really should call it a night.”
“Good idea. Why don’t you head off to your place overlooking West Side Park and get to bed? We can’t have our famed ‘cerebral quarterback’ too tired to use that big brain of his.”
I tried to smile, handed my tumbler to the nearest server, and slid out of the massive banquet room. I needed to piss and get myself under control. What the fuck? Was that comment about where my condo was meant to drive home the fact that they knew where I lived? Was I being paranoid? Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
I barreled into the nearest bathroom, a gold and red room with flocked wallpaper, a small lounge area with two chairs, and a walnut stand with a basket atop it, filled with manly things such as expensive colognes, razors, and condoms. My gaze darted from the Trojans to the ginger standing at the sink, his hands soapy, his brilliant blue eyes locked on me. He had freckles on his cheeks. Just a few sprinkled here and there. Freckles. I found them incredibly appealing. I found him incredibly appealing.
He flashed me a smile that settled into my belly like a warm pudding on a cold day. “Sterling Vesco, right?” he asked, shaking the water from his hands, then plucking a cloth towel from a low crystalline bowl resting between the sinks.
“Right, yeah,” I replied, my gaze locked on his lips. They were pink and shiny, as if he’d applied lip gloss. My dick throbbed at the mental image of him kneeling before me, slicked up lips sliding down my cock.
“I thought I recognized you.” He tossed the towel into a hamper, then extended a hand to me. My first instinct was to run and hide in the stall, the second was to take his hand so that I could flip it and kiss every tiny brown freckle resting on his knuckles. The third turned out to be the most sensible. I grabbed his hand and pumped it. Our eyes locked. Suddenly, I wasn’t sure that this option had really been the wisest.
“You a fan of the Ravens?” I asked, trying not to notice how slim and long his fingers were or how pearly white they appeared next to my black skin.
“Sort of. I mean, I watch when I can. I’m from Canada so I’m more of a hockey guy. Go Maple Leafs.”
We fell into a dead silence; the handshake having come to an end thirty seconds ago. His eyes lowered, and then rose from whatever he’d been looking at. Right then, I knew that he knew my secret. I shook free from his grip, mumbled something, and pushed past him to lock myself into a stall.
Back to the door, I unzipped my slacks, fished my dick out, and cursed silently. There was no way I was pissing with him right outside the door, or with the massive erection I was sporting. It sickened me to know that the mighty Sterling Vesco was cowering in a john like some little floof because a pretty boy scared him. Yet, there I stayed until he left, the soft sound of his dress shoes on the thick carpet signaling that he was gone. I flushed, even though I’d not left a drop in the toilet, crammed my cock back into my pants, zipped, and stepped up to the sink.
My eyes locked onto the thick white business card lying on the counter. I glanced at the door, unsure yet excited, and then picked up the white card. It was nothing overtly glitzy, just the image of a red jewel imprinted in one corner with the word GARNET below it. In the right hand corner, it read GEMS ESCORTS with two local phone numbers.
I should have whipped it into the trash. Instead, I pocketed the card, called myself a weakling, and stalked out of the hotel before I did something else that would further taint my soul.