Chapter 7 – Jim Doherty, Part 2

2011/12/16, 10:31:14 – Seafarers & International House, New York


Mr. Finch had referred to it as a hotel, and I guess for all intents and purposes it was, but the white crosses on the blue awning made it pretty obvious that the place was run by some religious group. I was surprised to discover that the mysterious “Mr. Reese” was staying in this sort of establishment, but once I got inside his room, it made sense – for a hotel in lower Manhattan, it was pretty spacious and clean. He probably had one of the nicer rooms since it had a private bathroom, too. You could hardly tell that anyone was staying there, but I would expect that of him. Army, Navy – either way, you learned to boil down your possessions to the bare essentials.

What I hadn’t expected to find was most of his underwear still in the original packaging. There was a pair each of socks and boxers outside of the bags in the top drawer, looking like they’d been worn and washed a few times, but the rest were still brand-new. It looked like he only used two at a time – wearing one set while washing the other – since there was a jug of laundry detergent under the sink. Talk about a minimalist! The only other clothes in the drawer were two t-shirts and a pair of jeans.

In the closet he had two suits (the boss was right – they were identical) and four shirts hanging up, as well as a long coat, a leather jacket, and a beige jacket with utility pockets all over it. Apart from the electric razor and a few other toiletries, that was the sum total of his earthly possessions. You had to respect a guy who had that much discipline – a Zen approach to life, maybe. That is, other than his “spare tools,” of course.

I’d known immediately what he’d meant by that, even without his sidelong glance at Mrs. Stuckley. He didn’t want to alarm her and I appreciated that thoughtfulness, especially as I lifted the mattress and found his impressive collection of guns and ammo stashed there. Any doubts I might have had as to whether he’d been shot while on duty for Mr. Finch were blown away when I saw the tools of his trade – whatever he was doing for the boss, it was serious. Seriously dangerous.

The piece that I’d found under the seat of the car (before Sam saw it, thank God, or he’d have had a coronary) was a SIG-Sauer P226, which was a heavy-duty piece of equipment; however, it paled in comparison to the assault rifles, submachine guns, and grenade launchers that, presumably, Mr. Reese slept on every night. There was a large duffel bag with the ammunition, so I put the rest of the gear in it and covered them up with his clothes. His suits, coats, and dress shirts I kept on their hangers to save Mrs. Stuckley the trouble of pressing them. I managed to carry everything out to the car (not the bloodied one, but one of the other three that Mr. Finch owned) in one trip, including his jug of laundry detergent.

Picking up the car that the guy had abandoned was a more complicated issue. Mr. Finch had warned me that there would probably be federal agents (the “they” that Mr. Reese had mentioned) hanging around who would want to question me. He’d hacked into the hospital’s computer system (don’t ask me how he managed it – I don’t know the first thing about computers, but Mr. Finch is as sharp as a tack) and created a patient account for me, making it look like I’d had a biopsy the day before. I asked Sam to drive around the hospital once so I could see where the agents were through the tinted glass, then had him drop me off where I could slip in without getting noticed. I navigated through the busy corridors, stopped at the gift shop to buy a vaseful of flowers (Mr. Reese’s suggestion), and got out to the parking garage from a back door.

As expected, there was a guy in a trench coat (how cliché is that?) sniffing around the cars parked on the top level. He approached me as I was trying to fit the vase into the cupholder.

“Excuse me, sir, is this your car?” he demanded, flashing his badge so briefly that I couldn’t tell if it were real or fake.

“No, it’s the company car. What’s it to you?” I countered. Mr. Finch said it was registered to one of his shell corporations, and had printed off some business cards with my name on it to make it look like I worked there. He said he’d fix my tax returns to match as well. The man thought of everything!

“And you left it parked here because…?” the agent asked.

“Not that it’s any of your business, but I had a biopsy yesterday,” I told him grudgingly. “What’s with the twenty questions?”

“We’re looking for a dangerous fugitive who might have left his vehicle here,” he explained. “He’s wanted for the shooting that happened here last night, as well as a dozen other cases.”

What? There was a shooting, here?” I said, acting surprised and horrified. “And you haven’t caught the guy yet? Christ, what is this town coming to… at a hospital of all places!”

“Sir, can we have your name and contact information? Just in case we need to clarify some things…”

If I’d been on my own, I would’ve refused to give him anything, but Mr. Finch had printed out those business cards for me, after all, and given me directions what to do. “Here, this is my work number. Call the front desk and they’ll get you to my boss, who signed out the car for me.”

“We’ll do that,” the guy said, trying to make it sound like a threat. I didn’t like the way he was looking me up and down, either… it gave me the creeps. So I couldn’t resist calling out after him as he was leaving.

“Wait – you said the guy got away, but you’re still looking for his car, here?

He stopped and hesitated, but didn’t answer.

“How the hell did he get away without his car?” I pointed out, keeping my smug satisfaction buried deep.

“That’s… what we’re trying to find out,” the guy admitted, some frustration showing on his face. He stomped away to the relative shelter of the stairwell, no doubt to call his superiors and have someone run my ID.

It was just as well that he wasn’t bothering to watch me, since once I got into the car, I had to adjust the seat so I could reach the pedals. Damn, but that Mr. Reese was tall! Not as tall as Marty, of course, but pretty damn close. I made sure the flowers wouldn’t tip over (I didn’t want the guy to give me grief for dousing his leather seats with water) before pulling out. Both Mr. Reese and Mr. Finch had worried that I might be tailed, but I took my time weaving through the downtown traffic and was confident that nobody was following me before I headed for home.

It’s funny that Mr. Finch’s mansion in the Hamptons felt more like “home” to me now than the house I’d lived in with my wife and kids for all those years… but Gloria and I had had a stormy marriage, and my memories there were not all pleasant. It had been tough while I was in the Navy, so when I got out and started working for a security firm, I assumed that things would get better. But I was gone so much of the time, working odd hours, that I didn’t realize how much Gloria resented being the only parent to our three kids. By the time I started working for Mr. Finch directly, we weren’t arguing as much, but that was only because Gloria had given up on me. I wasn’t really surprised when I figured out that she was having an affair.

What did surprise me was that she hadn’t wanted a divorce – claimed some shit about staying together for the kids’ sake. The guy she was sleeping with was apparently married, too, and Gloria didn’t expect him to leave his wife for her. So, for all intents and purposes we’re separated, but legally we’re still married. Go figure! But it was a hell of a lot less messy than going through with a divorce – not to mention cheaper, since we didn’t have to shell out for the lawyers – and we were both fairly satisfied with the arrangement. Mr. Finch had always had a room set aside for me in his house, in case I needed to stay over, and was kind enough to let me live there now; I went to see the kids on my days off; and Gloria could have her boyfriend over whenever she wanted. It felt weird to be cuckolded so blatantly, and I didn’t see how it was any better for the kids, but they seemed to be all right with it. I guess I’d been absent from their lives for so long that it didn’t make that much of a difference where I slept.

Marty once asked me why I still wore my wedding band… he knew that I wasn’t hoping to get back together with Gloria, so why keep up the sham? But it just felt easier when hanging out with the kids to pretend like I was still part of the family. Evan, the oldest, was in his junior year of college, and probably didn’t give a shit – he was more worried about fooling around with his girlfriend than what his old man was up to, as long as his tuition bill was paid. Annette was a senior in high school, hoping to get a scholarship to a business college, and the last time we talked she’d wanted to study Disaster Management. I’d joked that she would be able to help me with my marriage, and she’d rolled her eyes but was trying to suppress a smile – she had the teenager attitude but I could still talk to her, at least. Shelley was Daddy’s girl, same as always; she’s the one who kept me up-to-date on everyone, sending me text messages on my phone almost every day. It was hard to believe that she was in seventh grade already… just starting to get interested in boys. I’d gone through it with Annette before, but somehow it seemed different with my baby… made me feel older.

Realizing that I was getting homesick for my kids (if that’s the right word) since it was so quiet in the car, I turned on the radio – partly out of curiosity, too, to check out what our “Mr. Reese” was listening to. The pre-programmed channels were mostly news or talk radio, and then there was a jazz station. Huh. Interesting. I liked a little jazz, myself, so I settled in for the drive with that station for company. Mr. Finch said music distracted him when he was trying to think, so when Marty or I rode with him into town or back, it was a long, quiet drive. I wondered if the boss ever listened to jazz, now that he was… dating, or seeing, the new guy… The image of them holding hands, Mr. Finch curled up in his chair right next to the guy’s bed, came back to haunt me.

I could’ve done without seeing that, trust me, let alone how Mr. Reese had stroked one finger over the boss’s arm to wake him up. Marty has always been discreet with his boyfriends (no PDAs) so it’d never bothered me, but the way this guy acted around Mr. Finch… it was almost like he was seducing him, right in front of our eyes! Of course, with two bullet holes in him, it would be a long time before they could do anything more than hold hands and whisper sweet nothings, so I probably should give them a break… But I felt bad for Marty. Not that I didn’t think it was high time for him to move on, but still… it had to be tough to see someone you cared about falling in love with someone else. Especially when that someone else had knocked you out of commission with one blow. My nose ached at the mere memory of that blow.

Marty and I have worked together for so many years that I really think of him like one of my kid brothers. I have two, both older than Marty, but I hardly ever see them anymore (plus they seem to be doing all right with their families) so Marty’s a pretty good substitute. I wondered if he were getting any sleep now, after having seen the two lovebirds with his own eyes… Doubtful. Poor guy would be no good to the boss if he didn’t get some rest, though… Maybe I should give him some tranquilizers or sleeping pills. Mr. Reese’s injuries looked like they would take a while to heal, and if he was going to spend most of that time at the mansion, I needed to look after my partner.

I was so busy planning what drugs to give Marty as well as how to convince him to let go of his obsession with Mr. Finch that I pulled into the driveway almost before I knew it. Having jazz playing in the background must’ve helped, too. I parked the Volkswagen in one of the empty spots in the garage (which looks like a small aircraft hangar) and talked to Sam – who had just finished cleaning the blood out of the other car – before heading into the house. Mrs. Stuckley was tickled pink at the flowers, but was worried that Marty hadn’t come down to eat yet, so I went upstairs and knocked lightly on his door. He was awake, as I’d suspected, and out of sorts of course, but I persuaded him to come downstairs and eat lunch. I knew Mrs. Stuckley’s homemade soup would make him feel better.

The big guy was sleepier than ever after filling his stomach with good food, which was probably why he followed me to the front of the house as I went to check on Mr. Finch and Mr. Reese, to give them a report if they were awake. I was patting Marty’s back as he lumbered, zombie-like, towards the main stairway, when we were both frozen in our tracks by the sudden cry that came from the first floor bedroom.

“Harold, no! For the love of God and all that’s holy!

It was Mr. Reese’s voice, raised in what seemed tantamount to panic. It was unnerving to hear him – Mr. Cool and In Control – sound so frantic. I couldn’t help myself… I crept closer to the door to listen.

“Calm down, Mr. Reese. You’re overreacting,” came Mr. Finch’s slightly annoyed voice. Marty was right beside me, too, his eyes wide open and alert now.

“Overreacting? You think this is overreacting? Here I am, helpless as a new-born infant, and you’re proposing to shove tha—that thing up my ass, and you think I’m overreacting?

“Well, you’re certainly acting like a baby! It’s not that big, and it will hardly hurt at all – especially compared to getting shot.”

“Easy for you to say – you’re not the one getting that… that monstrosity shoved up your ass!”

Marty and I exchanged glances. We’d helped Mr. Finch shower during his recuperation, so we both knew that he was… well endowed… in a… manly way…

“Oh, for Christ’s sake, John! It’s not like I’m going to stuff it in, willy-nilly,” our boss was saying, sounding rather exasperated. “I’ll open you up with my fingers first, and use plenty of Vaseline – look, I have a whole, brand-new jar that I can use just for you! And for your information, I’ve had this done to me, many times, so I think I know what I’m doing. I’ll be very careful not to hurt you, and even if there is some… slight discomfort, I can assure you that it will be well worth it in the end.”

Marty’s mouth was hanging open in shock, and I must’ve been mirroring his expression. This was way more than I wanted to know, but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even budge an inch.

There was a slight pause before Mr. Reese spoke again, and when he did it was in a querulous, almost plaintive tone.

“Promise?”

“Promise… what?”

“Promise you’ll be… gentle? It’s my… first time…”

Of course, John! You know I would never hurt you. You just need to trust me on this.”

“I recall someone saying… ‘Trust isn’t something I come by easily’…”

“I believe… I hope, anyway, that we’ve come a long way in establishing our relationship since then, John.”

“All right… Just… please… go slowly.”

“I will, I promise. Try to relax… Think of something else… Think of something… pleasant.”

“Like what?”

“Whatever makes you feel calm and relaxed. What about the ocean? The waves rolling in, the water lapping at your feet, the sand between your toes…”

“That does sound nice… I can’t remember the last time I was on a beach,” Mr. Reese confessed, in a tone that was decidedly less stressed.

I couldn’t say the same for Marty. His eyes were bugging out, and no wonder – even I was having a hard time not imagining what Mr. Finch was doing to the new guy right now.

“Once you get a bit better, John – well enough to sit in a wheelchair – we can go down to the beach. The water is frigid, so we’ll have to bundle up against the wind, but… I find the fresh sea breeze invigorating, even in the winter…”

“Mmm,” Mr. Reese moaned. “That would be… lovely…”

“How am I doing so far? Does it hurt at all?”

“No… It’s a bit… uncomfortable, but I’m all right.”

“I’ll add some more Vaseline, just to be on the safe side,” Mr. Finch said.

Marty closed his eyes and a pained expression crossed his face. I knew I needed to get him away – drag him away if necessary – so he wouldn’t hear any more of this. I managed to take a step towards him and grabbed his arm; however, there was one flaw in my plan – Marty is much heavier than I am. If the big guy doesn’t want to move, there is no way I can move him. And despite the agony this was obviously causing him, he wouldn’t budge. He just clutched my shoulders, his eyes squeezed shut in a hopeless effort to keep his tears from falling, and stood there.

“Oh! Ow…” Mr. Reese’s voice came through the doors.

“I’m sorry, did that hurt?” Mr. Finch asked with genuine concern.

“A little… Is that… just your finger?”

“Well, yes, but… two fingers, actually. How are you holding up?”

“All right, I guess… Mmm… I’ve never been… touched like this… before…”

“Not even by your proctologist?” Mr. Finch prodded dryly.

“That’s a… different sort of touch, Harold.”

The purring in his voice made all of the hairs on my body stand on end; I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it was doing to poor Marty. But still, the kid wasn’t responding to my tugging. I was at my wit’s end.

“I suppose… I think you’re ready now, John.”

“Oh… All right.”

“Take a deep breath…”

A long, drawn-out groan followed, during which Marty gripped my shoulders so hard that I thought they’d be dislocated.

“Ohhh… Harold…”

“Too much? Shall I pull it out?”

“No… No, I’m fine. It’s feels so… huge, though…”

“Well, that’s to be expected – your body isn’t used to having foreign objects placed in it.”

I watched the tears stream down Marty’s face as he struggled to breathe without sobbing. It was excruciating just watching him, but what could I do?

“Are you all right?” Mr. Finch was asking the new guy. “Can I put it in deeper?”

“Yes… Oh, yes, Harold… You can put it in all the way… I want to feel it… completely inside of me…”

Marty gulped. There was a sharp, almost strangled intake of breath from inside of the room, which I recognized as Mr. Finch. I didn’t know if it was because he’d heard Marty, or because… he was pressing into his “John.”

“Deeper, Harold… please… I can take it, don’t worry,” the guy told him.

“All right, then,” came Mr. Finch’s voice, sounding rather strained. He must have realized that we were eavesdropping – or at least, that Marty was. I tried to shake Marty, as though I could shake him loose from where his feet had grown roots through the floor, but it was no use.

“Oh! Ohhh… so hot…” came the sultry voice of the new guy, oblivious to the pain he was causing Marty. It made me mad, even though it was Marty’s own damn fault for not just walking away.

“I’m going to pour this into you now, John,” I heard Mr. Finch say, a hard edge to his voice. “Try to curb your excitement, if you can.”

“I can’t… Oh! Oh, Harold… so hot… I can feel it… you’re filling me up… all that hot, wet stuff… Mmm, Harold… Harold!

Marty was shaking of his own accord now, with big, fat tears rolling down his cheeks. He was still clinging to me, and although I knew I’d have bruises on my shoulders for several days, I didn’t have the heart to pull his hands off of me (even if I could have succeeded, which I doubt). The kid needed my support, now more than ever, and that was exactly what he’d get.

“I’m done, John… That wasn’t worth all that fuss, was it? You were worried over nothing,” Mr. Finch said wearily. “Now, I want you to hold it until I get back – try not to make a mess, please.”

“I won’t. I promise,” Mr. Reese replied, sounding happy and satisfied. It made me sick to my stomach. I tried one last time to get Marty to move, and he did manage to take two steps towards me, but then he just wrapped me in a crushing bear hug and refused to let go. A minute later, we could hear some movement going on inside of the bedroom.

“There… if you can just roll back… That should be just about right. Now you can let it all out, John – I’m sure it’s been hard to wait.”

“It has. But Harold… I need you to… squeeze me, with your hands… your wonderful, warm, gentle hands…”

I thought I heard a sigh, but I couldn’t be sure. The next moment, Mr. Reese’s cries filled the air.

“Oh! Oh, it’s coming… Oh, Harold… It’s all coming out… every last drop of it… Oh! Oh! Oh! OHHH!

Wringing every last ounce of strength into one final effort, I heaved Marty – bear hug and all – down the hallway, just a little bit. I had adrenalin on my side, since I was worried that Mr. Finch might come out and find us here – it was bad enough that he suspected that we’d been eavesdropping on such a… private, intimate moment, but to be caught red-handed would be… unbearable.

After a few tottering steps, Marty finally caught on to what I was trying to do, and began helping me by moving his feet. I could tell that it was costing him a great effort in his present state of mind, but was more relieved than words could tell when we made it into the relative safety of the kitchen. Thankfully, Mrs. Stuckley was resting in her room upstairs, so I didn’t have to explain to her why Marty was pale, sweating, and crying like he had the flu and a hangover and a broken heart all at once. After letting him cry it out a bit more, I helped him get upstairs and into his bed, where he curled up into a fetal position and succumbed to unconsciousness.

I had no such luxury. I still had to report to my employer on the errands that he had asked me to run. And do it without so much as a hint that I knew what he’d been up to (no pun intended) with Mr. Reese. It was gonna be a long day…

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