Folsom gave a muffled scream of terror and pain as the knife struck him. It, surprisingly, was only a glancing slice across his naked thigh. But trussed up as he was, spread-eagled naked and bound on the bed with sexual devices possessing every orifice, he was completely at the mercy of whatever game Sten was playing. He steeled himself for the next slice of the knife, dreading where that might be, keeping his eyes tightly shut as the last defense available to him.
But the final blow did not come, and he heard a yelp and a gurgling noise and opened his eyes as Sten fell on top of him, their eyes now glued on each other's, and Sten's registering as much surprise and pain as Folsom felt.
And then the leather thongs binding Folsom's wrists and ankles to the bed were being sliced away and Fritz, the bruiser, was helping to push Sten's gasping body off of Folsom and also, as delicately as possible, relieving Folsom of the beleaguering sounding wand and oversized dildo.
'What? How?' Folsom sputtered as the plug gag came out of his mouth.
'I saw Sten entice you out of the cathedral,' the German club bouncer said.
'So you followed me even when I told you not to,' Folsom said, still in shock and not thinking on all cylinders. If the German hadn't followed him, the German couldn't have saved him from a painful death.
'Roman told me to take care of you, and I know Sten well. I knew you were in serious trouble and didn't seem to know it. I lost you in the Dom Platz, but we have a network here, men like you and me, and I eventually connected with the desk clerk at this hotel, who identified you both from the description I gave him. Sorry it took so long...almost too long.'
'Yes, yes, Thanks for coming to the rescue.'
Sten was gurgling ominously on the bed beside Folsom. It was clear he didn't have long to live. His death stab at Folsom had been deflected when the bruiser broke in and hurled himself at the bed. But then the knife had done its work on Sten.
Folsom turned to him and brought his head very close to Sten's. The misguided bartender's eyes were beginning to glaze over, and he was grimacing and panting from the pain in his gut. Folsom started to talk to him in soothing tones, not really to comfort him all that much but to both make sure he wasn't a threat anymore and to squeeze whatever information he could get out of the man. Folsom's instincts as a police detective were winning through his own pain, pain that had been inflicted by this man he was now cajoling.
'Who did them, Sten? who killed Meister and Dieter?' Folsom hadn't forgotten Tiho, of course, but it was almost self-evident now that Sten himself had killed Tiho.
Sten was trying to say something. Folsom put his ear close to Sten's mouth and was able to hear the name he needed. And then Sten was gone.
'You should go clean yourself up,' the bruiser was saying. 'I'll call the cops, but it's up to you whether we stay here and wait for them.'
'Roman.' It suddenly hit Folsom. If Tiho had been killed for what he knew, Roman was either equally a target or was already dead. Where was Ralf now, Folsom wondered. Regardless, he had to made an attempt to help Roman if he could. He knew he could count on the bruiser to back him up on this and get him back to the ship the fastest way possible.
Miracles of miracles. The bruiser had somehow come up with a motorcycle to aid his search for Folsom and it was sitting right outside the hotel door on Marsil Platz. A quick zip down Muhlenbach to the road paralleling the Rhine and they were at the ship within eight minutes. The guards the police had stationed on the dock and at the entrance to the ship just stood and gawked with dropped jaws as the man they were searching for on the ship was storming the ship from the dock with a gigantic bodyguard of his own in his wake.
Folsom asked the guy on duty at reception where the captain's cabin was, and then the bruiser asked him more pointedly and far more effectively, and the conga line was off to the races...Folsom followed closely by the bouncer, who was bouncing off the walls of the narrow corridor and keeping the tagline of policemen from reaching Folsom. The desk clerk was far in the rear but making every effort to get there in time to enjoy the fireworks.
Folsom and the bruiser burst into the captain's cabin just in time to save Roman. He was trussed up on the bed in what had now become a familiar sacrifice stance just as his assailant was about to deliver the coup de grace.
The bruiser hit the ship's captain in the midsection and sent him careening to one wall, while Folsom bounced Roman's attacker against another wall. They went down in a heap and it was touch and go for a moment or two, but Folsom's determination and thirst for vengeance was ascendant and, when the knife had struck home, and Folsom's opponent had gone quiet and gurgled his last breath, all of the pain and frustration Folsom had gone through since Brad Roberts had died was also laid to rest.
A wheezing Inspector Manfeld, accompanied by an even more official-looking police detective, arrived at the cabin door at that precise moment. Their eyes swept in tandem from Roman's naked, spread-eagled, and tortured body on the bed to the captain hunched in one corner, nursing a bleeding nose and being watch like a hawk by a monster of man and then to where Folsom was sitting next to the body of Roman's assailant. Their mouths were working but no sound was coming out. Until this very moment, they did not know and would not believe that Sigmund Frist had been here, under their noses, hiding out in the captain's cabin all of this time.
Frist was beyond interrogation now, but it didn't take the ship's captain long to cut the best deal he could by telling the police...who now accepted Folsom as one of their own...all that he knew.
Folsom already knew some it what the captain was going to say. His checking of the names he gotten off the crew list against U.S. immigration records with the help of the NYPD researcher Trudi had revealed that the ship's captain and Sten had accompanied Meister to the United States, arriving in New York, and were in the States when Brad Roberts was murdered. The e-mail exchange with Trudi had also revealed, however, that Sigmund Frist was in New York at the same time. Folsom would not have been satisfied about who had actually killed his partner and lover, Brad, if the captain had not spun out the story, although even then he'd never be positive.
The captain and Sten had arrived at the scene of Roberts's murder after he had died...or so the captain claimed. It was the captain's understanding that Meister had fucked Brad...and that much had already been verified by the DNA...but that Frist had done the knifing that had killed him. Frist and Meister had been equal partners in Meister's sex enterprise schemes; Frist had ensured that Meister could conduct his activities in Germany through his influence in the police department.
But Meister had gotten greedy and was blackmailing Frist, whose activities and proclivities were being kept a secret from his police system. That's why Meister had to die as well. Dieter had been killed first; Frist had come upon Meister fucking Dieter in his favorite way in the ship's exercise room. Frist had joined in the fun and had killed Dieter as part of that fun. Than, an unknowing Meister had been taken to his own death in his cabin by Frist.
After that, Frist had tried to implicate Folsom in the murders, knowing that Folsom had come to revenge his partner's death and thus was highly vulnerable to being fingered for Meister's death. Folsom himself was able to figure out that Frist had drugged him before bedding him and gone off to murder Meister while Folsom would think they were still together and were engaging in all-night sex. Folsom's dream of handling a dildo during their sex was a half-conscious awareness that Frist was getting his fingerprints on one of the weapons. And Frist had access to all of the cabin keys on the ship and had planted the knife in Folsom's cabin when Folsom had encountered him there the day following the murder.
The captain claimed, of course, that both he and Sten were just willing and enabling employees caught up in a web of threats and bullying to do what Meister and Frist wanted them to do...and there was no one else alive now to totally belie his claim.
The next day, the police gave clearances for the ship to sail again to meet its schedule for arrival in Amsterdam, albeit with a skeleton crew made up of the lucky survivors of the recent days' mayhem. The police offered Folsom a hotel stay in Cologne until all of the paperwork was finished...and the bruiser begged him to stay with him instead.
But Folsom wanted to recover in his own way. He asked permission to sail on to Amsterdam and to return to Cologne...and, yes, to the bruiser's bed and shower and sofa...it was melting just to think of the good times he'd be having with the bruiser...a few days later by air.
As the ship pulled away from the dock and Folsom waved to Manfeld and company and the somewhat disappointed bruiser, he turned and headed for the Alexander Lounge. Half way there, though, he was accosted by the African potentate, wanting to claim his rain check on their romp on the Helios deck lounger, and Folsom thought, what the hell, and permitted himself to be carried off to the king's cabin.
The African took him in the tiny shower from the rear against the tiles, lifting Folsom's body up from the floor with the thrusts of his insistent cock, and then again in the middle of the cabin, with the ebony giant standing on his feet, in a semicrouch, and Folsom suspended in air, legs jutting out on either side of the African's hips and the king pumping Folsom's pelvis up and down on his glistening sledgehammer. And finally, with the African flat on his back on the bed and grinning up at Folsom as the American straddled his pelvis and did a long, vigorous pole dance on his engorged cock.
Later that night, as the ship was nudging into the suburbs of Amsterdam on the Amstel canal, Folsom and Ralf finally met up and went back to Folsom's cabin, where Ralf fucked him three ways from Sunday in relentless, deep-assed thrustings on the table, the floor, and the bed, tossing used condoms left and right all night.
It was at the height of this debauchery that Folsom realized that it wasn't the orgiastic death that he sought and now was receiving in perpetual ejaculations. It wasn't an ending of anything; it was a beginning. Ejaculation gave life, not death. He would never forget Brad Roberts and what they had together, but Folsom no longer sought to mourn by seeking death through sex; he could now fully rejoice in life through sex.
He wondered how hard it would be for Ralf to get a Green Card for U.S. residency. Maybe with his help, if Ralf was interested.