"I could die on an airplane that small."
"So that's why I find you at the airport bar," I said and then laughed. "I suppose we all need a good excuse to get liquored up, Gary. The running joke of you being afraid of flying is as good as any to start drinking this early in the day."
I had stumbled on Gary Meltzer in the Coaches' Corner bar in Atlanta's Hatfield airport as I was walking past to the departure gate. I was transferring here from my LaGuardia flight to a flight to Miami and then onward on a puddle jumper hop down to Key West. It turned out Meltzer was waiting for the same flight. I had been surprised to find the senior Drug Enforcement Agency agent going my way. It had been years since I'd seen him, strangely enough at another bar, in Washington, D.C., where I was the one who got too drunk.
"Funny that you'd mention drinking too much, Clint." He was giving me a sloppy grin. "Other than that one really bad habit you have, the great NYPD homicide detective Clint Folsom has a rock-solid reputation."
"We all make mistakes while under the influence," I answered. "That's why I'm surprised to see you drinking. Especially seeing that you say you're going down to the Keys on business. Got a hot lead?"
I wanted to change the subject from that Washington bar encounter--especially as it related to that one really bad habit I had. I'd been particularly vulnerable in those months after my partner and lover, Brad Roberts, had been brutally murdered in New York when we were close to closing a homicide case. I didn't usually drink that hard. But I'd gone out on the town with Gary Meltzer when I was down in D.C. testifying on breaking up the international smuggling ring that had been connected to our murder case. And how was I to know that Meltzer swung that way and I'd wind up under him in his bed at the end of my "feel sorry for myself" drink fest?
"Yeah, a hot lead indeed. I think one session with a tycoon with a fancy yacht down in Key West's Margaretville, and I'll have all the answers I need to conclude a big bust. Where are you staying in the keys? Maybe we could--"
"Just seeing an old friend. Another one of those tycoons with a fancy yacht in the keys. But, yes, maybe we could--"
"Don't look yet," Meltzer said under his breath, suddenly getting very secretive, "But there's an odd couple over there--over your right shoulder--looking you up and down real well. You sure you're not traveling on business, buddy?"
"No," I answered. "Just visiting an old family friend--a very special friend." I was actually relieved that Meltzer had interrupted me. I was perhaps too quick on the uptake--I couldn't even remember now whether Meltzer was a good cocksman. I had been too far gone when he'd fucked me to fully appreciate what was happening. He certainly looked good sitting here in his "obviously a government agent" suit, but I just couldn't remember. And guys were always telling me I was too quick on the take. I couldn't help it, though. I loved cock. I tried--usually quite successfully--not to let my satyriasis habit interfere with my cop duties, but it wasn't a condition I either denied or shied away from anymore. And, increasingly, I'm glad to say, people I encountered didn't have a problem with it.
"Oh, never mind," Meltzer was saying. "I guess I'm too keyed up. They're leaving now. I'm obviously not liquored up enough to face this plane ride to Miami. And I don't know how the hell I'm going to manage the kiddy car jump down to the Keys from there. They really do need to put in a longer runway at Key West."
"If they put in a long enough runway to satisfy your need for plane size, we'd probably be taxiing in from Havana," I said with a chuckle. Meltzer's fear of flying was legendary--not least because his job required him to do a lot of it.
Feeling I'd given it enough time since he'd looked in that direction, I turned my head to look for the couple he was talking about. Although I only saw them from the back side as they were sauntering off to the same departure gate we were staying close to, I had to agree that they made an odd couple. The guy was tall, strapping movie stunt man material, looking close enough to the stereotype of most of the star hunks of the day to be matched up with a bit of makeup and agile and strong enough to take all of the bumps the star's insurance agency wanted to avoid for the principal. And mincing along beside him was a petite Oriental woman, with a swept-up mass of black hair held together with those long knitting-needle types of hair pins. I wondered how she'd gotten them through airport security, but if they'd cleared her when the lines were anywhere as long as they were when I went through at LaGuardia, the security personnel were so harried looking for banned bottles of designer water that they could easily miss the obvious.
"I'd . . . I'd like to see you in Key West, Clint, when I can get the time off. Really. I'll be staying at the Days Inn on Roosevelt."
"Only the best for a senior DEA agent, right?" I said, and then I laughed. If I were going there on business rather than visiting my first lover, the man who had watched me grow and seduced me as soon as I'd turned eighteen and whose deflowering I still couldn't forget, I knew I'd be booked at even more of a minimum-amenities motel than the Days Inn.
"Yeah, not exactly the Crowne Plaza La Concha to be sure. But I've stayed there before, and I can attest that the beds don't squeak under stress."
"Strong bed frames, you say?" I couldn't help but grin at the image. "Got right into the Key West culture, did you, the last time you were down there?"
"You betcha," Meltzer responded, matching me grin for grin.
"Been down there often of late?"
"There and Lakeland too. It's been a long investigation," he answered. "But the size of the potential haul has made it all worthwhile--not to mention the opportunities to get out of D.C. regularly."
Our flight was being called, and I broke off my unexpected visit with Meltzer with some hope of a hookup in the next couple of days if we didn't find a convenient place to meet on the airplane. He asked me for some way to contact me, not wanting to trust that I'd contact him at the Days Inn, I guess, so I wrote Theo's ship-to-shore number on the back of my official calling card, which also had my cell phone number on it. He slipped it into his pocket without looking at it, because the ticket agents were now becoming a little insistent in getting people on board the flight to Miami.
I was making use of frequent flyer miles and had a seat in business class, whereas the DEA budget being particularly strapped at the moment, Meltzer was sitting back in steerage, so I lost contact with him when he moved on toward the back after we got on. Business class was pretty deserted. There was no one sitting next to me. Already sitting across the aisle from me, though, was the movie-type guy Meltzer had drawn my attention to. There was no one sitting with him, though, either, and I wondered momentarily where his little Oriental honey was.
The guy was definitely the friendly type, though, and showed interest in me even before the doors shut, chattering at me from across the aisle and making small talk and the sort of assessing look I'd seen so often in the types of bars I liked to go to to unwind. I was such a slut in that way. I did like one-night stands and often brought guys home from those bars. When I established I was a homicide cop and they still wanted to come home with me, I reasoned I was pretty safe in having them in my apartment--I just kept my gun well hidden while they were working on me with their gun.
As soon as the doors closed, I gave thought to going back to tourist class and seeing if I could find Meltzer. The flight wasn't all that long, and I supposed I could give up the amenities of business class for a discussion with a rarely seen friend--or better yet, I was thinking, maybe the flash of a badge or two would get Meltzer up beside me in business class. But before I could rise, the friendly guy was moving across the aisle and introducing himself as Derek Dominick who, indeed, worked in the movies--and who was interested in getting to know me better. He didn't take long in letting me know how much better he wanted to know me--it was a phenomenon I had long given up on trying to figure out; dominant tops gravitated to me like I was a magnet of some sort.
I'd had sex on a plane before, but rarely in the middle of the day and in the business class seats, with stewardesses tromping back and forth frequently. The movie guy showed me how he could cover my lap with a blanket and turn toward me and give me a hand job under the blanket without being too obvious about what was going on. But at some point the stewardesses weren't asking us if we wanted anything and were averting their eyes when they went by, so I figure they had a good idea what was being dealt.
Derek was very good with his hand. He was a real hunk, and he knew just how to grip my cock and press his thumb into my slit so that I'd moan softly for him. When a stewardess had gone past us, he'd lean in and take my lips with his and start off in a gentle kiss that got hard and possessive before he let me up for air. He kept murmuring in a rich baritone how he'd like to get me alone and what he'd like to do to me.
Although the positioning was awkward, I did manage briefly to explore what he had between his legs, which set me trembling, and I ran my hand up under the hem of his shirt and ascertained that he was all hard muscle. His handwork on my cock had me on edge all of the way from Atlanta to Miami, and I took off on a short trip to paradise as the plane was touching down.
We had established that we both were headed toward Key West, although Derek wasn't going there straight away--he said he was on a movie location in Lakeland, in central Florida, although he lived in Key West. And Derek made quite clear that he would like to explore sex with me further if I was in Key West when he got back there. Then he deplaned as soon as the door to the throughway opened, leaving me to readjust myself before I inserted my well-used body in the flow from the back. I left the plane with little time to transfer to the smaller terminal for the hop to Key West.
Only when I was leaving, trying, unsuccessfully, to catch sight of Meltzer, did I remember having given a contact number to Meltzer--and realized that the movie hunk had neither asked me for a contact number in Key West nor given me any means of tracking him down again either. I regretted slightly and briefly that I probably never would see him again--and seeing him in the altogether and finding out what other lovemaking techniques he had in his repertoire were pleasures I very much had been looking forward to.
I had figured I'd be spending my time with Theo while I was in the keys, but I'd already picked up two fine offers while flying down there to mix in some varied encounters--assuming I happened upon the movie hunk in a Duval Street leather bar--so, my vacation was looking quite fine. And even if I didn't see the movie guy again, I knew from experience that there were a lot of interesting guys available in Key West. It was what the place was famous for.
When I got to the small terminal and the thirty-seater jet-prop was being opened for boarding, I was surprised to find that Gary Meltzer wasn't there. He'd said something about maybe renting a car and driving down rather than taking the plane, but I thought he had been kidding about that. But then I forgot about his absence. I couldn't see any reason why a hulking DEA agent should be afraid of flying in a puddle jumper, but it was his life, and that was his reputation. I turned to trying to remember how good he was in bed--and just not being able to relive that experience. I hadn't been that drunk in years. I no longer tried to drown my sorrows of losing the man I loved so deeply in a vat of gin.
I looked around at my travel companions for the short, cramped flight--several pairs of young, good-looking men, obviously enraptured with each other and going down to Key West for the free and easy ambiance and the opportunity to let their feelings toward each other show without getting dirty looks. A family of four, bickering but obviously excited at the adventure they were facing; an elderly couple, probably nearing the bottom of their "to see before we die" travel adventure list; a young, effeminate Chinese man who sat quietly, not looking up from his lap; a couple of guys in naval uniforms, evidently heading for duty in the naval annex at the southernmost tip of the United States, from which we monitored life in blockaded Cuba by various electronic means; and a couple of giggly college girls, off to ogle the beefcake on the Key West beaches.
But still no Gary Meltzer.
I rose as they gave us a gate call, but at the tail end of that announcement, I heard my name called and I swerved back toward the rostrum right as I was about to hand my ticket to the stewardess for boarding.