A Deadly Kind of LoveBy: Victor J. Banis
“Whew. That was quite a party!” Chris Rafferty breathed a weary sigh and leaned back against the car’s headrest, letting his eyelids drift closed. “I’m just past the next bend.”
“Sweet.” The car leaned gently around a final curve. “Whoa, you’re staying here?” the driver, Eddie, exclaimed. “At the Winter?”
“Umm hmm.” Chris’s reply was heavy with threatening sleep. He was having trouble staying awake. “Is that special?”
“Special?” Eddie whistled faintly under his breath. “Gosh, the Winter Beach Inn is like the top place to stay in Palm Springs these days. The top gay place, for sure. I don’t know, maybe the top place period.” He turned his head to look at Chris in the pale greenish glow from the dashboard. “So, are you some kind of millionaire, or what?”
“Me?” Chris laughed. “Hardly. I’m a nurse. I told you earlier. Did you ever hear of a millionaire nurse?”
“No, but I don’t know many nurses who could afford to stay here either. It’s mostly rich, older queens. Let me guess, you’ve got a sugar daddy, right?”
Another laugh. “Not me. My best friend, Stanley Korski, he works sometimes for this big name decorator in San Francisco, Wayne Cotter, and Wayne drops enormous bucks here whenever he comes to town. He might even own a piece of the pie, I don’t know. Anyway, when I said I was coming to Palm Springs, Stanley called Wayne, and Wayne called the Inn, and voilà. I got a room on the house.”
“Talk about lucky.” The car slowed. “So, what suite are you in? They’re all named for movie stars, right?”
“Right. I got the Jeanette McDonald. Oh, no, wait, they switched my room. Just as I was coming out tonight, as a matter of fact. I was headed for the door and stopped to powder my nose, and I realized my toilet had backed up, and as quick as you please, they moved me lock, stock, and barrel to the Alice Faye. I didn’t even have to lift a pinkie. You can drop me here.”
They pulled up by the massive gates—locked at this late hour. Eddie switched off the headlights. “You sure you don’t want to, uh… you know?” he said. He glanced upward. The sky was still dark, but with the opalescence that foretold the morning. “We could greet the dawn, so to speak.”
“Ah, thanks, um,” Chris mumbled the name, afraid he wouldn’t get it right. “I would, but I’m beat. I’m not as young as I used to be. Next time, okay?”
“Sure.” Eddie sounded disappointed, but not too. “I’m kind of ragged myself, to tell the truth. You wanna have lunch tomorrow?”
“Too early. I’m going to sleep in. Let’s say dinner. Why don’t you call me? Only, not before noon, okay?”
“Sounds good. Hey, you know what, can we eat here? I’ve always wanted to see inside this place. This is probably the only chance I’ll ever get.”
“Absolutely. The food’s good too.” Chris leaned across the seat to give his companion a quick peck, which turned into something a bit more prolonged. They rubbed together for a long moment, lips locked.
“Sure you don’t want to change your mind?” Eddie asked when they came up for air.
“Trust me, it would be a futile gesture,” Chris said. He opened his door to slide out. “Tomorrow, okay? Not too early.”
He used his key card to let himself through the gates, took the yellow brick path about the main building. During the day the swimming pool was sometimes so crowded with bodies that you could hardly see the water, but now it was empty, a huge turquoise kidney, smelling of chlorine. The fronds of the palm trees overhead rattled like ghostly castanets. A white napkin, missed by the cleaners, blew past his feet in the desert breeze, caught on the leg of a chair, a linen tumbleweed.
He got to the door of the Jeanette McDonald suite before he remembered he had been moved and half staggered to the next door over. He’d had way too much to drink tonight, plus smoking a couple of joints, and what was that pill he’d taken, anyway? Not to mention he had danced until his legs actually felt shaky.
“Getting old, Christopher,” he told himself, letting himself into the Alice Faye suite.
The room was dark. From his earlier brief inspection, he remembered blue ruffles and lots of frills, and a parasol for a lampshade. More frills, maybe, than he wanted to face just at the moment. He didn’t bother turning on the lights. The faint glow through the curtains was enough to show him his way to the bathroom door, a first stop his bladder was absolutely demanding. Always listen when your bladder demands, was his motto.
In the harsh glare from the bathroom’s overhead light, he blinked and glowered at his disheveled appearance in the mirrors that covered all the walls—eyes bleary, hair in disarray, a big stain of some sort on the front of his shirt. Multiple appearances, he corrected himself. You could watch several of you, or maybe several of somebody else, take a leak.
He smiled sleepily, thinking of a friend or two who would find that pleasantly kinky—but at the moment, business was more urgent than admiring, or not admiring, himself. His little playmate popped out of his trousers just in time for a noisy pee that went on and on and on. It was definitely blessed relief. He sighed and rolled his eyes heavenward. There were times he honestly believed it was better than an orgasm.
Flushing, he avoided looking at the mirrors again. One glimpse was enough to remind him he was no longer a kid and that late night carousing took its toll in ways it hadn’t ten years earlier. His wool-coated teeth really needed a good brushing, but he was too tired. He flipped the light off before he opened the door and went out.
After the brightness in the bathroom, the bedroom was dark as pitch, nothing to be seen but the pale rectangle of the window across the room, the blue-green light from the swimming pool leaking through. He felt his way in what he thought was the right direction for the bed and, bumping into it, dropped down on it with a noisy, “oof.”
In a minute or two, he told himself, he would get up and strip off his clothes and get under the covers like a civilized man. For the moment, though, he just wanted to lie there, catching his breath, savoring the memory of a great night on the town.
His breathing slowed. He did not, after all, exactly feel like going to all the trouble of getting up and undressing. He thought instead he’d just snooze for a little bit. There was always time to take your pants off, wasn’t there? It wasn’t like there was somebody with him to take them off for.
Which reminded him briefly of the young man who had dropped him off at the gate. Eddie, was that his name? Cute. Japanese, with almond skin and soft dark eyes and lips of velvet, sweet to the kiss. And horny, certainly, despite the late hour and all the entertainment. Maybe he should have…?
Too late for that, he told himself sternly. And he didn’t think he had the energy to masturbate, either. He really was getting old. He turned onto his side, let one arm flop limply across the bed—and discovered there was something in the bed with him.
One hand went tentatively up and down. Yes, it was just what he’d thought at first, a body. As if his horny thoughts had conjured it up—a male body, lying on its back; it took only seconds of exploration to confirm the gender. A naked male body, which made the confirmation much easier than it otherwise might have been.
Even drunk and tired as he was, he thought there was something to be said for having a warm naked body in bed with you. Pleasant to contemplate, certainly. There was just one slight problem with that scenario, however.
This body was not warm.
Stanley Korski woke conscious of the warm body next to him in the bed. Or sort of woke, rather. He was really more asleep than awake when he answered the phone. It was nearly four in the morning, after all. He fumbled the receiver from the cradle, got it upside down at first, and reversed it.
“Stanley?” the phone asked his ear.
“Chris… uh, hi.” He waited for his friend Chris to say something more, explain why he was calling in the middle of the night. Beside him in the bed, warm-bodied Tom Danzel stirred slightly.
“Who is it?” Tom asked, a grumpy mumble.
“It’s Chris,” he said in a whispered aside to Tom, and into the phone, in a groggy voice, “So, uh, how is Palm Springs?”
“It’s nice. Hot though, really hot. In the daytime, anyway, but it cools down in the evening. I spent most of the day in the pool here at the hotel, very festive, and then I danced the night away. The boys down here really know how to party.”
“That’s nice.” Another long pause.
“What’s he want?” Tom grunted. “What time is it?”
“Umm, Chris, honey, it’s, like”—Stanley squinted his eyes at the clock with its oversized numerals, easy to read with his contact lenses out—“it’s like four o’clock in the morning.”
“Is something wrong?” Tom asked, rolling onto his back and running his fingers through already tousled curls.