[This seven-chapter Clint Folsom GM promiscuous bottom NYPD detective mystery follows on the heels of the already-posted "Death in the Rockies"]
It had been a rough day. The girl couldn't have been more than eight. She had been found wedged, face down, in a ventilator shaft. Someone had taken her to the roof of the tenement in the Bronx after they were done and tried to put her down the shaft. But the shaft had been too small, and the woman who had found her--who had been on the roof hanging clothes on a line--had seen the two shoes sticking out of the top of shaft. Black patent leather, she said. She hadn't known the shoes had feet in them until she came closer.
The girl had been smothered and strangled, but she'd endured a lot of torture before that--apparently for a very, very long time.
I'd been in on the questioning of her mother--or the woman who was as much a mother as Maryanne was ever going to get, a foster mother--for much of the evening. There was no reason to believe the woman hadn't done it. There had been neglect for a long time; she couldn't have not noticed that. Maryanne had been the girl's name. But we were still tracking down the woman's boyfriend. The woman hadn't come right out and fingered him, but she came as close to that as she could without us telling him she had. She obviously was more afraid of him then of the police. And, no, we couldn't guarantee he'd never be in her face again. That was another thing I felt powerless about.
The man worked the night shift down on the docks. He was some sort of floater from one dock to the other, so the night-shift detectives were out there tracking him down. I'd probably have to sit in on the interrogation of him tomorrow--if he wasn't half way to Pittsburgh by now.
By tomorrow morning we'd know if the girl--her name was Maryanne--had been molested as well as killed.
Any way you looked at it, this was my excuse for cruising tonight at the Casbah Lounge on Westchester in the Bronx's tenderloin district. I'd been good--for months. But cases like this got to me.
I should have gone back to my apartment--to our apartment--after leaving the precinct. And I did start in the direction, but I found myself headed for an old haunt instead. When I came to a club like this, there was one thing that I wanted. I knew what it was. And tonight my defenses weren't up. Tonight I just wanted to let go and forget about today--and what I faced tomorrow.
Hank would be at the apartment now, wondering where I was. He probably even had called in at the precinct and found I'd left. Hank Halston had been with me for a couple of months now. We'd met on a case in Colorado, where I'd gone to because of my specialty--because I could work cases from the inside that involved men getting it on with other men. Hank had been there too, but I hadn't known he was an undercover cop with the Denver police until he'd almost gotten killed and until the case had been solved--and until I'd fallen for him big-time.
A mild way of putting it was that Hank and I had clicked--even before I found out he was on the job undercover--and he had asked for a transfer to New York and had been here--and with me--for the last couple of months.
Hank knew me and my limitations and my needs, and from the beginning of our relationship, he'd said he'd work with that--that he'd take me any way he could get me. I hadn't had a live-in relationship since Brad--certainly not one in which I'd been anything like monogamous. Brad and I had been partners, both at work and in our lives. When Brad was murdered, I fell off that near-monogamous wagon, and hard. I was starting to climb back onto it with Hank. But on days like this . . .
The big blond on one side of me at the bar was rough trade and really, really big. Into leather, and, I bet, into a lot of other shit as well. And the black dude at the other side of me wasn't small either. They'd come in together, and it hadn't taken them long to pick me out. I probably looked needy, and even after three beers, I was feeling needy. I had already had several offers. That's something about me not even I can figure out. I'm a regular honey trap. I'd say it was this recognizable face I had, except there seemed to be more to it than that. Pheromones, or something, I guess, although I can't say I believed in those.
I had a buzz on, and I'll bet I was slurring my words, coming across as an easy make, but I wasn't far enough gone not to see what these two wanted--and not to know that after a day like today and facing a day like tomorrow, it's what I wanted too. It's why I was here. I wasn't even trying to make up excuses to tell Hank why I stopped here--and what I undoubtedly was going to do here. I wanted to forget, at least for a little while, Maryanne--all of the Maryannes.
The blond was named Stan and the black guy was Big Dick. At least that's what he said he was called when he introduced himself to me. I didn't know much else about the two guys except that they had big hands and that one of the blond's hands was on my crotch and one of Big Dick's hands was cupping one of my butt cheeks, and he had the other one up under the hem of my T-shirt and was checking out the curves of my chest. The blond leaned his mouth to my ear.
"How about taking a ride on my Harley and me showing you my workshop. It's just a couple of alleys over from here."
"And what might be there that I'd like to see?"
"Why, my friend and I here can show you why he's called Big Dick--and that he could be called tiny up against me. I'm bettin' you're just dying to be fucked rough."
"The day's sort of led up to that, yes," I murmured back. "Riding and Harley sounds like a pretty nice combination."
"We can do it on the Harley if you want."
I was nodding my head when I felt the tap on my shoulder and turned around. "Hank."
"Thought I might find you here, Clint. I called Lieutenant Kahn when you weren't home. He told me it had been a bad day."
"Piss off, tiny," Stan snarled. "Clint here wants to ride my Harley."
"Is that what you want tonight, Clint?" Hank asked.
"Hank," I said. I didn't want to make it sound plaintive. But I was too far gone down this path. I could go home with Hank, but I knew I'd just be out on the street again as soon as I could be. I was feeling sorry for myself and needy. I had the itch. I'd been good in that department. And, over time, I might reach the point with Hank that I had with Brad. But I couldn't be pushed on this. I'd feel trapped.
"I understand," Hank said. And I think he did. And that's why I was trying so hard with him. Because he did understand and was trying to work with it.
"I'll call you tomorrow at work," he said. Then he took a long look at the two studs on either side of me.
"I'll be home later tonight."
"No, no, I don't think you will." And then he turned and walked out of the bar.
"He gonna be waitin' for us outside?" Big Dick asked. "We gonna have to fight to use you? Because we will. I think you're gonna be fun."
"No, no. He's cool with it. I gotta do this sometimes."
"So, you ready to ride my Harley?" Stan asked. "Just for you, just for tonight, I'll call it Harley. I'll give you a good ride on Harley. Ever ridden a nine-inch Harley?" He laughed at that. So did Big Dick. I let them have a bit of a smile--enough so that they didn't think I was scared or put off by the boast, or what promises lay behind it.
"Yeah, let's ride," I said. Before I changed my mind.
Stan was true to his word. He had a high-ceilinged garage down an alley just a couple of blocks away. It looked like he worked on cars and motorcycles in it.
He also had a honey of a Harley, which, when we got to the garage and we'd all stripped, he put on a stand and pushed me belly down on the seat and then tied my hands in front, with leather strappings running under the belly of the bike. He was also telling the truth about Big Dick and him. He indeed had at least nine inches for me to ride. I got his first, a thicker one than Big Dick had, with both of us in the saddle of the Harley, Stan behind me and fucking me deep and for long enough for the horrors of the day to start melting away from me.
Stan obviously used the garage for much more than stripping and fixing cars. Over in one corner, he had a black leather sling hanging from the ceiling. That's where Big Dick had his turn with me, me on my back in the sling and my arms and legs strapped up on the four chains supporting the sling from the ceiling.
I hated to admit it, but this was exactly what I needed that night. I went a good couple of hours without thinking of the Maryannes of the world at all.
They asked me if I wanted to spend the week--puffed up with how eager I'd been to take them both. They were even showing signs of keeping me there whether I wanted to stay or not. They lost interest, though, when I told them I had a little girl's killer to start catching at dawn--that I was a New York homicide cop--and that the guy who came into the bar looking for me was a cop too and had been eyeing them at the bar quite well enough to ID them. It hadn't always been that easy to make my exit when I was on a spree like this.
I did make it home before work, but not during the night. It was late enough in the morning that Hank was already off and at his own precinct, where he was working vice. He didn't throw any of my stuff out on the curb or cut up my clothes with scissors or anything. As far as I could see, he hadn't packed up and left either, so I guess he really was prepared to live with this. For my part, the best I could do was to try not to make it a habit--and to put more and more time between bouts of doing it--unless the job called for it--until maybe someday I'd be with him where I had managed to get with Brad. That Hank wasn't pushing me on it was what gave it a chance of working out.
* * * *
"I told you I'm OK with it. I had to leave early this morning, because we've got a big case coming up and the whole squad was called into the war room to get it set up. The Scarlottis. We're finally going to try to wrap them up."
"I didn't mean to wind up at the bar last night. It was just . . . you know . . ."
"You don't have to say anything, Clint. Your lieutenant told me about your current case. We made this agreement when we went into this. I'm not going to press you on this. I told you back in Denver I'd take you any way I could get you. You haven't promised anything. If I couldn't deal with it, I'd take a walk. All I want to be sure of is that you use protection."
"Yes . . . yes, of course. Hank . . ."
"Uhh . . . nothing. I'll see you tonight. At home."
I fully intended to do that. I really did. But it didn't happen. When I hung up, I sat staring at the telephone for a full minute. Hank was too good for me. I was far enough into this relationship to know that I didn't want to lose him. I was getting older. I knew I'd want to settle down, for life to get more stable. I'd fallen off the wagon, but I smiled to myself because I was feeling guilty about it. That, I thought, was a good sign, a sign that I was moving toward a commitment. I hadn't often felt guilty about it before--not back to the very beginning. Even before I'd started, I'd known what I wanted. I'd only waited until I'd be legal--and only then because I had a live-in tutor who pretty much insisted on it and guided me through the shoals. I certainly hadn't waited long after I was legal, though. And in those days--and most since, I must admit, I'd been happy to fuck like a bunny. I'd been built that way--probably from my unusual upbringing. Knowing my parents, it also could have been genetic. And men had always wanted me. I'd never had trouble getting it if I wanted it. Luckily, in my work, it had become an advantage rather than something I had to curb. But I was getting older.
"Was that Hank?"
I looked up to see that my lieutenant, Burton Kahn, had come out of his cubicle and was standing at my desk. "On the phone," he expanded. "Was that Hank on the phone just now?"
"Yeah, that was Hank."
"He called here last night, looking for you."
"He found me, thanks." I didn't see the need to tell Burt that even though Hank had found me, I'd gone ahead and fallen off the wagon. Burt worried about me in that way.
"Everything OK between you and Hank?"
"Yep, couldn't be better."
"Good. It's good you two got the chance to talk this morning."
That sounded peculiar, and I looked up into Kahn's face, wondering what he meant by that. I was about to ask him, when my telephone rang again and I picked it up.
"Folsom of NYPD Homicide here. Speak to me," I spoke into the telephone.
"Clint? That you?"
"Yes, Clint Folsom here," I repeated.
"It's Danny. Danny in L.A."
Danny in L.A. My heart--and at least one other part of my anatomy--took a leap. Danny had been my partner, here in New York, in this very squad room, before I'd gone off on the case in Denver. He'd left right after that. Transferred to L.A. Went with his new wife, Sharenda. Right before that, right before he'd told me he was getting married and proceeded to do that inside two months, Danny had been more than my homicide squad partner. He'd been my lover. It had been Danny and me for nearly a year before I was sent out to Colorado. I hadn't reached the stage of commitment with him that I now had reached with Hank. But it had been close, close enough to have torn me apart when he told me he was getting married--which led to me jumping on the opportunity to take off to Colorado on a case while he married and got transferred to L.A.
Danny hadn't originally meant to transfer to L.A. I caused that. Danny had thought he could keep fucking me and still be married. That was too much for me, and I told him so. If he hadn't transferred, I would have had to. If we'd both stayed in New York, I knew that I wouldn't have held out for long. If he wanted to continue banging me, I would have let him. Even on that last night, when I'd accepted the Denver assignment and he said he was transferring--and I'd said "no more"--when he looked at me and said he wanted me, I'd let him fuck me. Right here on this desk.
"Clint? Clint? You still there?"
"Yes, Danny, I'm still here." I looked up and saw that Kahn had retreated to his cubicle. He hadn't known about me and Danny--at least I didn't think he did. And I still wanted to keep it that way. Kahn treated me well, especially considering that he was as straight as they came and was still religiously faithful to his wife, Mariah, even though she had died some years back. And I was in his squad--and often was assigned out for man-on-man--because there were cases where a detective who would take a man was an asset to the investigation. But I doubted whether his tolerance would have gone to having partners in his squad fucking each other.
And I couldn't have blamed him for that. It was like having a married couple working together. It took the edge off their reactions and their objectivity. I know it blew me apart when my partner--and lover--Brad got murdered. It had made me obsessed with trying to figure out where I had slipped up, where I'd lost the edge and not been there so he wasn't vulnerable and alone. And it caused me to lose all objectivity in tracking down his killers. That didn't stop me from tracking them down, though.
"You gotta come out to L.A., Clint. My lieutenant will clear it with Kahn. I know he'll let you reassign temporarily."
"I told you it was over, Danny."
Just like Danny, I thought. Always wanting it--never satisfied. And young, black stud that he was, he could get it back up almost immediately. Big as he was too, I sorta felt sorry for Sharenda. Maybe that was why he was calling, though. Maybe he'd worn her out already. God knows he wore me out that year he was with me.
And I loved every minute of it.
But, if he thought I'd just drop everything and . . .
"It isn't about you and me, Clint. But it is about you. You'll want to come."
"Oh, I'll want to drop everything and just trot out to L.A. when you wag your finger, will I?" I said.
"Yeah, I think so. We've caught a murder investigation. A high-profile one. One that wasn't tagged as murder until something new cropped up."
"We have murder investigations here for me to work on, Danny." And we did, too. But if Danny only knew how much I didn't want to work on the investigation of the murder of little Maryanne, stuffed face down in a ventilator shaft, he wouldn't need to be doing a hard sell on me.
"As I said, I think you'll want to come out for this one. You won't even formally be able to be assigned to it, but I'm sure I can swing it. I already have tentative approvals. And I know I'd want to be here if I was you."
"Oh, how so?"
"The investigation is into the murder of your parents."