"I don't know, Lieutenant, but we'll go back over the ground again. I don't know how they managed to snatch it."

"Let me talk to Mitch, Jesse," Lieutenant Kahn said with an exasperated voice. "But first, tell me why you went out there alone, without backup."

I sat across Burton's desk from him, watching him frown and knit his brow as he listened to Jesse talk to him on the cell phone. The place had been pretty much deserted when I came in late. Just Kahn there, in his office. I expected him to light into me about being late, but he apparently had bigger fish to fry than me right at that moment.

"Was that Jesse? What's up?" I asked when Kahn got off the phone.

"Yes, that was Jesse. He's at Grand Central Station. That's where he was told to take the ransom money last night and where he lost it. The team's out there now trying to figure out what happened."

"He took the money to Grand Central all by himself? No backup?"

Now was the time for Kahn to round on me. He looked at me accusingly. "He said you were supposed to be his backup. He said he tried to get hold of you to meet him at Grand Central last night--that the guy making the ransom call didn't give him time to set anything up--but that he couldn't get through to you. I told you you shouldn't put the money up. Now a million dollars of yours is in the wind. But, yes, he did get backup there. Mitch met him there. But Mitch says he doesn't know how the money slipped away from them either."

I took a couple of minutes to process that, the wheels spinning and spinning in my brain.

"Damn it, why are you so calm about losing a million?" Kahn said, really letting his exasperation show through. "And where were you last night--and earlier this morning? Why didn't you respond to Jesse's call last night?"

"I still don't have it all together, Chief," I answered. "But I'm following some leads on my own, and I think I've just about got it worked out. I'm not that worried about the money. Want to keep my attention focused on Hank, though. I think I can put it all in place when I've managed to get in with the Rapinos. Call Jesse and tell him to come on in; we've got to get ready for that appointment with the Rapinos at the Silver Screen Underground nightclub this evening."

* * * *

I had gotten what I needed to know at the Silver Screen Underground nightclub within the first hour I'd been there. But I couldn't just get up and leave--from the looks of the goons standing by the door to the reception room Jesse and I'd been ushered to, I wouldn't have been permitted to leave--I could try, of course, but chances were good I'd just have to play this out and get out of here when I could and get a couple of related problems here wrapped up. What I really needed to do was to get to a telephone to talk to Lieutenant Kahn in private. Fat chance of that happening for a while, though.

The Rapino brothers had a pretty nifty idea with this new nightclub, I thought. The Gallery had been a struggling Broadway stage theater on Broadway and West 45th Street that had reopened as a movie theater. It had a great location, and it had a huge basement with a warren of rooms that had once been used as dressing and wardrobe and set and prop storage rooms but that no longer were needed for that. The Rapinos had bought the theater building and installed a nightclub in the basement space with separate party and theater venues for separate tastes in vintage movies. Some of the venues were rumored to be decidedly racy, and an elevator could take aroused partygoers up beyond the legitimate movie house to floors above where there were rooms for more private partying--along with space for whatever illegal gang purposes the Rapinos had going at the time.

I thought that naming a movie-based nightclub in the basement of a movie theater the Underground Silver Screen was a straightforward clever idea. But I didn't know the half of it.

Word had gone out on the street that the Rapinos wanted to hire someone appropriate to manage the nightclub, and I had snatched that information from the air from my street contact, Larry, when he'd given me a ride back to Manhattan from Brooklyn. My sometimes name, Clint Sloan--or rather my parents' classic movie star names--had gotten me an interview for the job.

While I was being kept waiting, the youngest of the Rapinos--and the only one we didn't have a police blotter on--Stefano, had been sent out to keep me occupied. He said he'd only stopped by on his way to class. He was a sophomore at Colombia and was studying American history. He said he wanted to be a professor. Stefano seemed quite a nice young man, and I could believe that he was the Rapino that the rest of them were trying to keep out of the business and wanted to have a start in some other line of work.

He was also a strikingly good-looking young man. Sultry dark looks, with dark, curly hair and a slim, but well-worked body. It was said that he was a son from the patriarch's last wife and must have gotten most of his good looks from his mother, because the mug shots of his two surviving older brothers, Mario and Drago, showed guys who were considerably more thuggish in looks. Not ugly, just dangerous looking. And big; not fat, just big.

And, speaking of looking dangerous, Drago was standing at a door, decked out in a dark blue silk robe and gesturing to me. "Mr. Sloan, is it?"

I nodded and rose. Jesse started to move from where he was standing nearby.

"Your man can stay here," Drago said. Jesse sat in the seat I had vacated, beside the young Stefano Rapino.

I was about to try to work my way, along with Jesse, out of the nightclub. Stefano had already revealed what I wanted to know. But Drago's appearance had cut off any chance of that happening. So, I went with the flow.

When we had chitchatted while we were waiting, Stefano had told me about his school and I told him about my life in Hollywood, going from the reality of my childhood to an imaginary story I spun of still being in Hollywood. I'd made a few references to his family and its businesses, but he appeared genuinely open on the legitimate businesses the Rapinos conducted--and equally genuinely ignorant of their gangland activities. I got what I wanted, though, when I asked him why he was here. What I had been fishing for was how much he knew of what went on here in this club, but what I got was far more.

"I'm waiting for my ride--back to Colombia. My brothers won't let me keep a car here in the city. I don't come here much, but my brothers are busy getting ready for a trip, and they wanted me to come here to get some instructions on what I could do while they're gone. They're really straight laced. They don't give me much rope."

Not enough rope to figure out what they're up to was what I thought. But what I said was, "A trip? Both of them?"

"Yeah. A big deal, I gather. Not just them; they're taking some of their associates too. They say it's a big convention. In Chicago."

"Chicago?" I couldn't help repeating. Bingo, I thought. That's what Hank was trying to convey to me by leaving Ron Price's name and telephone number for me. Ron was in the Chicago police. The Scarlottis had retreated to Chicago. And now the Rapinos were going to follow them there. There would be blood on the streets. Not on New York's streets, thank god. But that wasn't much comfort if Hank had gone to Chicago with the Scarlottis. He would be directly in the line of fire.

I had what I'd come for. It was time to try to beat a retreat. But then there was Drago in the doorway, beckoning to me. I'd have to carry through with the charade.

Drago led me down a wide passageway with richly carpeted floor, walls, and ceiling. I suppose the public explanation was that it protected patrons down here from the sound of the movie theater above--but that sound protection went both ways. I wonder if the sound of a gunshot from down here would be heard in the theater above. The passage was sloped and was, purposely, I'm sure, reminiscent of a movie theater corridor. Posters from classical movies hung in glass cases along the wall.

I watched Drago's butt as we walked. I had every reason to believe he was naked under that robe. I had thoroughly researched these guys. I knew what a job audition with them would entail. He had a good, big butt, though. In fact, he was very solidly built. Like a heavy-weight prize fighter. Not tall, nor fat, but thickish and built--big. I had experience in the equipment that a man built like that would have, and I felt an itch of anticipation. His head was shaved. From the back he looked like a prize fighter entering the ring. I had few doubts who would be in the ring with him.

He turned at a doorway and motioned me through it. The door shut with a solid thud behind us.

We were in a room that was maybe thirty by fifty feet, and from the door into the corridor we were facing a semicircle wall at the back. To my right, covering nearly the whole, two-story wall against the outer corridor was a flat movie screen. The room was in semidarkness and a movie was playing. A long, curved, whitish couch followed the curve of the wall, facing the movie screen. The couch was deep enough for even the tallest person to recline on.

Reclining on the couch, in the middle of the curve of the room, was Mario Rapino. I would have known him from his mug shots. But I also recognized him because I'd seen him in person, but from afar, at the Colorado dude ranch I'd been sent to to protect a novelist from being murdered by him. He hadn't gotten a look at me there--I hoped--and he didn't kill the novelist. As it turned out, I did that myself.

Mario was the oldest of four brothers. Drago was the next oldest. It was the sex-and-snuff murder of the third brother, Lorenzo, whose death Mario had come west to avenge. Stefano, who I had just met, was by far the youngest one--the one I believed, and hoped, was out of it all.

In contrast to Drago's near baldness, Mario was hirsute--and he had a profusion of salt-and-pepper hair, including, still, on his head. He shared a build with his brother, Drago. Thick, but not fat, barrel-chested, powerful muscles, the thighs of a soccer player. I knew all of this, because, like Drago, he was wearing a dark silk robe. But unlike Drago, he was reclining on the couch with his robe full open and his hand encasing a mean-looking erect cock.

"My brother, Mario," Drago said as we entered the small theater.

"Sir," I said. I gave no notice to Mario masturbating himself. I knew this for the test it was.

"So, you think you might want to manage our little club here?" Mario said. I could hear him fine. The sound on the movie was almost nonexistent. I was standing facing him, so, at that point I had no idea what was playing.

"Yes, sir. I've managed clubs in California."

"So my sources said."

I blessed the strength of my connections in Hollywood--based on the lingering legend of my actor parents.

"And your parents were . . ."

"Scott Sloan and Laura Lake."

"Ah, yes, that would be a big plus. Come here and stand in front of the screen in front of me, please."

I walked over to the center of the room.

"Ah, yes, the resemblance is striking," Mario said when I was standing in front of him.

I took a peek at the screen. It was a John Holmes movie, one I recognized. He was playing some sort of Arabian potentate, and he was fucking a muscle-bound young blond with what some, fancifully, I thought, had reported to be a fourteen-inch dong. The movie was a colorized version of a black and white porn classic. While I was moving to the center of the room, Drago went over to the couch, about ten feet from Mario. He sat, let the robe open across his lap, and he fisted a cock that looked bigger than his brother's.

"When you called, I believe my associate was quite explicit about the requirements of the job. Exactly what I expect in the way of loyalty from my employees."

"Yes, sir."

"Then strip down for me, please. I want to see what your qualifications are."

I did so and stood there in a model's casual stance. I could see that the cocks on both brothers were on the rise.

"Tell me, Clint Sloan, son of Scott Sloan. Do you give good fuck?"

"Yes, I think I do," I answered.

"Yes, I think you might. Your father certainly did."

I didn't know what to think about that. He was too young for my father. Mario wasn't more than ten years older than I was. Of course, who knows where Mario might have been in those days. For all I knew, he was one of the young, hopeful studs my father and his lover, the movie idol, Gordon Fields, had kept around the pool area at our ranch to entertain them and their friends.

"Come here, Clint," Mario said in a low, hoarse voice. As I moved to the couch and went down on it with my knee, Drago moved over to where, when Mario had taken my wrist and pulled me down, I was wedged between them. The two immediately began to work my body with their hands, exploring and gliding and pulling and pushing.

I could see the movie straight on now. I was puzzled. It was the same John Holmes movie I'd seen in stolen videos when I was young--and yet it wasn't. Holmes was more forceful in his fucking than I remembered. And the young blond was younger than I'd thought. And he didn't seem to be as willing. The movie was all about a slave being taken by an Arabian potentate, but in the movie I remembered, the blond was more into it and Holmes wasn't giving him the whole fourteen inches (or whatever). In this version everything was bigger, more, and approaching brutality--and Holmes was stroking to the root--hard and fast. This wasn't the same version I'd seen.

Drago pulled my face down into his lap, and I gave him head. Mario's tongue was at my hole.

The movie had changed when I found myself leaning out beyond the bottom edge of the couch, chest bowed out toward the movie screen, ass skewered on Drago's dick, feet hooked on his shoulders on either side of his head, and his fists gripping my wrists and pulling back like my torso was an archery bow. He was rocking my ass on his dick and I was enjoying the deep fuck. From the sounds he was making, he obviously was too.

I was doing fine before they segued into another movie. The young blond from the first movie couldn't have been any more finished from Holmes's fucking than if he was dead--for all I knew maybe he was.

This new--or rather, old--movie, though. This was something else altogether. It opened up with one man, shirtless and all bronzed muscle, in the woods, holding an ax, and being approached by another, younger, equally hunky shirtless man. They kissed, the younger man bending the older one back, mastering him, his hand going to the older man's basket.

Gordon Fields--going down on my father, Scott Sloan. I was in shock. It was the last film they did, High Timber, but then it wasn't. There was no way this scene was in the original movie. The original movie was a grade A blockbuster that played in the best movie theaters across the country--the last Scott Sloan movie, not shown until after his untimely death. This one was male porn.

"What do you think?" Mario was saying, his voice pleasant, his hand rubbing the small of my back as Drago continued to pull me back and forth on his cock. "As soon as we received your call, I sent down to the vault. This is one of my favorite movies. The original was High Timber. This remix was titled Big Timber. Fields fits the 'big' part, don't you think? Look at them."

Look at them? I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. When had they filmed this? I'd been there, up at Theo Klein's cabin for the early shoots--before they took the crew up into Northern California for the high timber shots. I'd even had a small part in that movie. A movie of two men, in the high timber, struggling for ascendance. The older foreman, the young interloper. But the message more psychological than sexual. At least in the original movie--the original parallel to two males, one the established stud bull, the other a young claimant, the two vying for dominance in the herd; the pornographic version, one male fighting for sexual domination over the other.

On the screen, my father, vanquished in the struggle for ascendance, was on the small of his back on a tree stump. Gordon was hunched over him, They were both naked and Gordon was fucking my father hard.

"Come on over here, baby," Mario whispered. "Sit on this. No, facing the screen. I don't want you to miss where this movie goes."

He pulled me over into his lap, facing the screen. Drago moved away and sat on the edge of the couch, watching Mario and me and stroking his cock. I lowered my channel on Mario's cock, as he groaned and I gave him the moan I knew he wanted. I was still thinking of the movie on the screen. I was remembering back twenty-one years--to a conversation I overheard on the patio at my parents' ranch by the pool. The producer, Theo Klein, and the director, Charles Tilton. They were whispering, but I could hear them, Tilton was trying to convince Klein to make an underground gay male cut of High Timber. Klein wasn't agreeing with him, but even at the time he seemed to be warming up to the idea. The undercurrent of homosexuality ran deep in films in those days--it was like hedonist Hollywood was thumbing its nose at the puritanical American movie audiences. Movies of that era were rife with an undercurrent of sexual innuendo. I had to admit that it was not such a big step from High Timber to the Big Timber version.

And now I knew that there was a similar double entendre to the name of the nightclub, the "Underground" in Underground Silver Screen taking on a whole new meaning.

"Watch this, baby," Mario murmured. "This blew me away when I first saw it. I couldn't wait to get you in here for this audition."

"Oh, my god," I exclaimed. I hadn't been prepared for this. My eighteenth birthday. I'd been there at the cabin in the mountains. A bit part in the original movie--but this, this I'd never imagined. And it fit right in with the recut of the movie, just like it belonged there.

So much in shock, I was like a rag doll as Mario hooked his legs inside mine and spread me, embraced my chest in his arms and pulled me back onto his reclined body, his cock deep inside me, his hips rhythmically playing me, his lips next to my ears, whispering a commentary of the me of twenty-one years earlier getting fucked on the screen--my first full sex session, my second fucking.

My eyes were glued to the screen. All these years and I had no idea an underground film had been made. I couldn't take my eyes off Fields as he moved over me--the me on the screen--and gathered up my thighs and hooked them on his hips--the young stud, having vanquished the old monarch, moving in to claim dominance over the rest of the herd. We were in the cabin. In Theo's cabin. It fit right in with the high timber setting. Rustic furniture in the cabin, me, on the bed, just in a flannel shirt unbuttoned and open wide on my young, heaving, eighteen-year-old chest. And boots. The timber boots, set wide and high over my body. The in cut flawless to the scene of Fields fucking my father on the tree stump--moving farther down the line in the herd.

Only my second time--right after Klein. My eyes so wide in fear and want, my mouth opening to a silent scream. I felt Fields inside me again--after all these years. I knew exactly from the expression on my screen face when he first entered me. Such a big dick. And I felt it all over again. The pain of it--the glorious release of it. I had waited so long. Bigger, much bigger than Klein, who had insisted on the right to be first. I panted with the panting youth on the screen.

Mario's hand began to glide over my chest and belly as I panted--misunderstanding probably that I was panting with the me on the screen, not with the Mario who lay under me on the couch facing the screen. Holding me to his chest. Arms embracing my chest; legs between mine, holding mine spread. Cock inside me. Slow pumping me as we watched me being fucked--for only the second time--on the screen.

Field's hips beginning to move. It had taken so long, so very long for him to get it all inside me. I moaned on the screen. Deeper. He was moving deeper inside me with each thrust. Only my second time. But the pleasure beginning to win out. I wanted him inside me. Just as I wanted Klein inside me. Klein sitting there, stroking himself. Murmuring to the me on the screen. Telling me how much he'd like to join Fields. Telling me maybe someday.

"We must fuck to some of the other films of you someday," Mario whispered in my ear. Even more titillating.

The other films? I screamed inside my head. Then I knew; then I remembered. The films the director, Charles Tilton, had taken in his basement torture chamber only weeks after the encounter I was watching on this screen--the films of him teaching me to want to be bound and punished.

I couldn't see the screen for a moment. Something was blotting out that world of the past. Drago. Naked. Crouching over me. Kissing me on the lips and then Mario.

"My brother," Mario whispers in my ear. "He cannot wait. He wants us both. He asks please."

"Yes," I whispered. Someday. Today was someday. There had been somedays before. This was blowing me away. I had thought I had what I wanted before I walked into this room. But now, now I was getting what I wanted.

"Oh, god. Oh, shit." I writhed away from the cock head, entering on top of that of his brother's. But Drago held my hips steady and grunted his determination. He was in an inch. I could see the screen again over his shoulder. Fields getting serious with the me on the screen now. Nearly all the way out, then slow in, out to the edge of the glans. Thrust! I scream on the screen. I screamed on the couch, as Drago became impatient and pushed all the way in, sliding in on top of his brother's cock. Fields no long seemed that big. Mario and Drago had done this before, I could tell.

Well, so had I.

Drago bigger than Mario. Drago wanted to power fuck. "Oh, Fuck."

* * * *

"We'll let you know," Mario said, all business, as I redressed.

I bet you will, I thought. But that phone no longer will work when you do call.

I stumbled out to the reception room, Drago and Mario letting me go by myself, because Drago was covering Mario on the couch now, fucking him.

In the reception room, all I saw were the two goons at the door.

"Where's the man who was with me--my bodyguard?" I asked.

"He left," one of the goons answered.

"Left?" I asked, incredulous.

"Yeah, Stefano's ride didn't come. Your man offered to drive him to his school."

"Oh, shit," I exclaimed. "Christ almighty," I followed that up with as I ran to the street. The Boxster was gone.

"Oh, fuck. I should have seen that coming."



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