Driving into the north end of town and turning onto the Upper Head road to rise to the top of the bluff where the three rambling old mansions stood, Eddie Geer wondered why it had taken him so long to visit Shernhaven. He’d always been told that the small, harbor village where his English ancestors had settled in America three hundred and fifty-five years ago was picture perfect and worth a visit. It was less than twenty miles from Boston and he’d traveled the world, but this was his first visit here. The main branch of the Geers had long since moved to Boston, where they had become prosperous in the construction industry and later in the manufacturing of this and that, which they produced just at the right time for consumer interest and then cash in on right before the market on the commodity collapsed.
To be clear, this meant the Geers were among the richest families on the planet.
Descendents of Geers had stayed here for a while after that, but the name had petered out except as it was attached to various businesses in the town and a street he was told ran up from Wharf Street on this side of the central park that he’d planned to locate and take pictures of just for the hell of it--to show around the fraternity when he got back to Cambridge. He half hoped he’d get a photo of a hobo sacked out on a bench or taking a leak in the bushes when he photographed the park.
He wouldn’t have come here at all if he hadn’t been invited by college fraternity brothers who, as coincidences go, were also from founding families of this little burg and who invited him up here--again just for the hell of it. He wasn’t actually all that fond of either Alden Shern or Trevor Cole. Both were pretty full of themselves and about being from wealthy families that were among the early Massachusetts settlers. Who in his Harvard fraternity wasn’t from a wealthy family--or even from early American stock somewhere? And the two who were from here were still tied to this hick town. Big fish in a small harbor, and still expecting to get away with that in Cambridge.
Well, Alden wasn’t so bad. Dark and brooding. He didn’t get snotty when he wasn’t around Trevor. It was Trevor Cole--the blond, brick-built, glad-handing, big talker football star--who irritated Eddie the most. Not the least because, despite everything he felt, Eddie felt drawn to Trevor. As a person, of course, there wasn’t anything more in it than that. But Trevor was such a self-confident macho dude and had that great build and movie star looks. Everyone bowed down before him. That irritated Eddie too. He was the one with the most successful family coming out of Shernhaven. He was the one with the worldliness. Not much he hadn’t tried, although he was running straight now. He’d be inheriting a business that swamped everything in Shernhaven in size and worth. And he was training to take that on.
As Eddie drove past the first house on the bluff, he knew why he’d taken so long to come to Shernhaven. It wasn’t just because most of the Geers had moved away. It was about the crazy old Geer woman everyone in the family talked about in hushed tones. She’d been the last real Geer here and had married twice before the Civil War, having wedded “down” both times--once to a German and, worse, later to an Irish Catholic--and had a reputation herself that the Geers twittered about behind their fans in those days.
The plaque in the stone pillar in the wall in front of this first mansion said “Fischer,” but Eddie knew this as the Geer house. This was his family’s ancestral home, occupied now by peasants, simple fisherman, he’d been told. It was additionally irritating to look at it now to see that the building had been kept up in superb condition. The only satisfaction was in the connection that had been made when Eddie first met Alden and Trevor at Harvard. They had done a double take on his name, and in exchanging family backgrounds, he was pleased to know that although it said “Fischer” on the wall plaque, everyone here still knew the house as the “Geer” place.
Driving on, Eddie passed the next house, which was identified as the home of the Coles on the wall plaque. This would be Trevor Cole’s house. Eddie found himself looking at it with great interest--and then looking away with self-disgust. He must break this interest in Trevor Cole, he told himself. There was nothing interesting in the personality of Trevor Cole. It was just in his looks and how he carried himself--and what he had to carry around. The guys had a communal shower room at the frat house. Eddie was breaking away from that now, though. That was all Venice, and he was putting that all in his past. Just experimentation. And he’d rejected it. And he wouldn’t have Cole on a Christmas tree. Such an arrogant ass.
He came to his destination, the last house on the bluff, its side toward the sea. The biggest, most imposing one by far. Alden hadn’t told him his family was the most prominent one here--and mostly certainly Trevor Cole wouldn’t mention it, because it meant his family wasn’t at the top of the chart--but the placement and size of this house would have been enough for Eddie to realize that even if the town wasn’t named after the Sherns and Alden’s daddy wasn’t the state senator from this district, Shern was the first family here.
Both Alden’s Porsche Boxster and Trevor’s BMW convertible were parked in front of the garage doors in a five-bay auto garage to the north of the main residence, away from the side of the head overlooking the town, so Eddie knew they were there already. He was an hour early, so he was relieved that they were there. He’d been told he’d be staying in guest quarters above the garage. So, he parked his Jaguar coupé beside Trevor’s BMW and started walking around the garage, looking for the door to the quarters above it.
Strange sounds, almost a deep moan of pain or something, arrested his attention when he’d gotten to the back of the garage building. A small path leading deeper into the trees and brush at the north end of the property drew him forward to where he found a shed. The door was open and the moaning seemed to be coming from there.
As Eddie reached the door, he was shocked at the almost-screamed “Yes!” that exploded out at him from the interior of the shed.
The small room inside was dimly lit, but what was going on there was obvious from the moment Eddie looked inside. It was mesmerizingly shocking. Separate waves of surprise, shock, disgust, and arousal flowed over Eddie all at once, each emotion struggling for ascendance in his senses.
Both young men were naked. The lithe, dark, sinewy body of Alden Shern and the magnificently developed blond-god body of Trevor Cole. Eddie immediately realized that he had suspected something like this, without consciously being aware of it, all along. But it was all wrong. The roles being taken were all wrong.
Trevor Cole was stretched up against the wall opposite to the door, his wrists bound to iron rings high on the wall, his arms stretched and imprisoned. Eddie could barely make out red welts on his back and bulbous buttocks, related no doubt to the whip held in one of Alden’s hands. Alden’s other hand had just withdrawn from the crease between Trevor’s buttocks. The exclamation that Eddie had heard as he approached most likely was linked to being told what Alden was going to do next, because as Eddie stood there, momentarily transfixed, Alden, dressed only in construction boots, took his condom-sheathed erection in his hand, pressed his cock up between Trevor’s exposed butt cheeks, as Trevor cried out at the initial penetration, and started to fuck Trevor’s channel.
Eddie turned and stumbled away from the shed and back to his car. He drove away, down toward the town, where he parked near the town’s park, which he scowled to find in pristine condition, and got out and sat on a bench and hyperventilated and tried to calm himself to consider what he’d seen.
The sex--and the nature of it--were shocks in themselves. But the arrangement of it completely blew his mind. Alden was the quiet, brooding, smaller one. It was Trevor Cole who Eddie would have identified as the top in such an arrangement. In fact, it was why he had these mixed reactions to Cole, he now realized. He almost felt nauseous at how wrong he’d gotten it--and at the thought that he might have made a fool out of himself if he’d acted on any of the impulses he’d had in the last year. He bit his lip, wanting to feel the pain, because, shit for bricks, it was still Cole’s body that crowded in his mind from seeing the scenario he had just seen. And it still was Cole in a role in his fantasy that was grossly at odds with the reality of what he’d seen.
After an hour, Eddie had pulled himself together enough to decide to drive back up to Upper Head. This was when he’d been expected. It should be fine now. There was no need for him to even hint that he’d been there earlier.
This was actually good. This would help him in his determination to straighten his life out--in every sense of the world. This should even push those memories of the summer in Venice farther back in his mind. But as he walked to the car, all he could think of was Trevor Cole’s magnificent body--and what Eddie would like for it to be doing to him. And then the shuddering thought of the sickening revelation that Trevor wanted the same thing from another man that Eddie wanted.
But maybe, just maybe, Eddie thought, not wanting to give his dream up, Trevor went both ways. Eddie could always live on the hope--except, of course, as he kept telling himself, he wouldn’t have Trevor as a lover even if that was what Trevor wanted.
* * * *
“Don’t you go pouring that beer, son. You know minors can’t do that in here. You’ll get us shut down.”
“Sorry, Dad. Just trying to help, and you look like you need it.”
“Needing help at the bar service is cash register joy to my ears, son,” Owen Dungan said. “You can help with the serving of the food all you like. And I thank you for coming in this evening.”
“I can wash glasses back here, can’t I?”
“All the dirty ones you can find, yes.” Owen’s son went to the end of the bar, and Owen turned to the three college students bellying up to the bar. Despite what he’d said to his son about the underage rules, he wouldn’t be asking these three for any identification. Besides he knew exactly how old two of them were. Alden Shern and Trevor Cole he knew very well. Their families owned much of the town and always had. The third young man, looking morose and on edge, Owen didn’t know.
If he asked Alden or Trevor their ages, he’d either get back a lie or something he didn’t want to hear. He hated having this “nothing good” choice when these guys came into his bar. If this wasn’t Shernhaven . . . but it was Shernhaven.
When the Shern and Cole boys were in high school, Owen had had to carefully and politely show them the door whenever they walked into Dungan’s. He didn’t know why they even tried to come here after the first time. As he heard it, they were served beer--and more--at Henry’s across the park in those days. They were old enough now, though, for the people who counted in this town to turn a blind eye to their doings.
He served them the beer, but he made a note to keep an eye on the guy who had come in with Alden and Trevor. He looked like a volcano--all calm on the outside, but ready to blow underneath.
Owen had no sooner served the three than he turned to see another young man enter who he’d also have to look the other way in terms of being here and drinking legally. This one didn’t bother him doing that so much, though. Wal Fischer wasn’t wasting away his time in some fancy-dancy university and wallowing around in his allowance. He was going out on one of his family’s fishing boats every day. He was doing the full work of a man, so Owen didn’t mind turning a blind eye to his age--he should be able to do the other things a full-grown man could do, as far as Owen was concerned.
Besides, Wal Fischer’s family was almost as well established at the Sherns and Coles were in this town. The local law knew how to separate them that had from them that didn’t, so Owen could do so as well. Business hadn’t been so good lately since other bars had opened around town. They were all in nice, new buildings. Not like this dump that was tumbling around Owen’s head but was on the historical register, so there was only so much Owen could do about sprucing it up. Owen wasn’t about to turn old-money business away; he had no intention of shooting himself in the foot with the shotgun he had under the counter.
Less than thirty minutes later, he was to regret that thought, though.
It all started with that on-edge guy the Shern and Cole boys had come in with. But no, not really. it had started, surprisingly enough, with Wal Fischer.
Owen always knew there was something not quite right about that boy. He was a solid-bodied, good-looking lad and, as Owen had already contemplated, a hard-working one. But he was always so quiet. Sitting wherever he did and intensely watching without engaging. Watching people come and go--mostly men now that Owen thought about it--coming and going. Owen thought maybe Wal’s reticence came from being out on the ocean fishing, alone more often than not. This evening, though, he was being a bit too obvious in his interests.
Alden Shern, Trevor Cole, and the guy with them were at the bar, turned to each other, with Cole in the middle. When Wal Fischer came in, he looked around, and having spied Shern, bellied up to the bar right next to him. The trouble might not have started, except that Wal apparently had a good bit to drink before coming into the bar. He seemed to be just off his fishing boat, and he’d probably gone out that morning with a full cooler of beer cans.
Wal was really close to Alden. The first Owen heard of trouble was Alden calling out a surprised “Hey!” and turning toward Wal.
“I heard you were in town, Al,” Wal said. “Haven’t seen you since graduation. Since you . . . we . . . well, you know. Missed you. Could we talk a minute. Just a minute. In private.”
Alden didn’t answer. He didn’t have time to. Cole answered for him, raising his voice. “Buzz off . . . faggot. What’yer doing here anyway? Nobody you like hitting on over at Henry’s tonight that you like as much as Al? Didn’t we take care of you at Shernhaven High?”
Owen saw Wal’s hand freeze in midair. It had almost touched Alden’s sleeve. His eyes took on a panicked look.
“Now guys. None of this in here,” Owen said. And his son put down the glass he was drying and edged down the bar toward his father.
All attention now went to the other guy who had been with Shern and Coles. That volcano erupted right at that point. “Faggot?” he cried out, and he spun around Trevor and Alden, fists flying at Wal. Wal worked his body hard. He could have defended himself against just that one guy without trouble. But he was frozen in shock, so the guy got in two good cuts at his face, before he could get his hands up.
This was when the shotgun came out from underneath the bar.
“I said, none of this in here,” Owen said in a steady, determined tone. “Take it out on the street. Outside. All of you.”
“Uh, Dad,” Owen son said from beside Dungan’s elbow. “Maybe not all at once. Maybe Wal should go first and we let the others go after he’s had a chance . . .”
“Get the hell out of my bar,” Owen said. “All of you. This isn’t the place for this--for any of this.”
The next morning, When Owen Dungan got the news, he was filled with remorse. His son didn’t so much as look at him all afternoon as they were setting up the bar. Relations were too tight between father and son for there to be any bad words, but Owen felt his son’s coolness like the admonishment he knew he deserved.
The first thing they heard was that the Fischer boy, Wal, was in the hospital from being beaten badly. It hadn’t happened outside Dungan’s. It had happened over at Henry’s.
As the evening unfolded and patrons came and went in the bar, more of the sordid details came out in dibs and drabs.
Wal Fischer hadn’t only been beaten up. He’d been left in the back alley outside of Henry’s, naked, with a beer bottle shoved up his ass, and with a sign saying “Faggot” crudely written on a piece of cardboard with a magic marker and stuffed in his mouth.
Everyone knew who had done it--or thought they did. And they were at least partially right. Alden Shern had actually stood pretty much on the sidelines, a little shocked, neither egging it on nor stopping it. Trevor Coles had gotten in his licks, all the time screaming at Wal about Alden being too good for him and that he was already taken. These were the two that the whisperers of the town most identified with the act--but of course these two were untouchable, even though the Fischer family was prominent too, and most people in town liked the Fischers more than they did the other two snooty families living up on the Upper Head.
No one but Owen and his son knew there was a third young man involved. A stranger to them, although the town grapevine being what it was, the Geer name eventually seeped out as well. But at the time Owen wasn’t going to say anything, and he made sure his son didn’t either.
“We can work on fixing this up later, son.”
“Yeah, when, Dad? We shouldn’t have let them leave together.”
“Yes, I know. But we’ll see what we can do later. It’s all too volatile now; it will be bad for business to stick our noses into it.”
It was Eddie Geer, deeply conflicted and steaming inwardly on what he’d seen earlier that day, who had gone over the top in his explosion at Wal. And it wasn’t just because of the altercation in Dungan’s. It also was because Wal was a Fischer and was living in the Geer mansion. And was, as Geer repeatedly said at the frat house through the next semester, a “damn Nazi” immigrant who had muscled onto the Geer family tree.
Everything had come together, and Eddie Geer was responsible for reinitiating the attack, the idea to drag Wal to the alley at Henry’s, the beer bottle, and the sign.
Wal Fischer recovered. But he didn’t really return either to the town or the Geer mansion on Upper Head. He moved to his fishing boat and he did most of the provisioning he needed to do at other seaside villages up and down the coast. He still docked at the Shernhaven wharf. Slips for fishing boats were pure gold by now along the Massachusetts coast. He couldn’t give his up or easily acquire another--although in time, he did manage to move it to a slip at a harbor farther south. But after the incident at Dungan’s and Henry’s, no one saw him put a foot on the Shernhaven dock for some time to come.
When Eddie’s anger subsided, he was so distraught--not at what he’d done, but at what it told him he still felt about Trevor Cole and the Fischers--that as soon as they reached the Shern house, he got in his Jag and roared down the Upper Head road, turned right onto the Boston road, and never came back.
After watching him leave from the driveway of the Shern house, Alden spoke to Trevor.
“Come inside and let’s clean you up.”
Alden hadn’t participated in the assault, so he was clean. But Trevor was covered with blood--both Wal’s and his own.
“No,” Trevor growled in a low, thick tone. “I want it. I want it now. Let’s go to your dad’s shed.”
It all had brought Trevor to the boil of a high heat--and his arousal got to Alden too. They were in high, loud fuck in the shed, with Trevor chained to the wall when Alden’s father, the state senator, Avery Shern, walked in on them.
Avery was supposed to be in Boston. The state senate was in full session, and when it was he stayed there in the family’s Boston residence.
But one of the senators had died early that morning, and the session had been broken for two days in honor of the legislator. Senator Shern had decided to come home for the two nights.
And there he stood, at the door to the specially outfitted shed behind his garage, discovering his son fucking and lashing the bound son if his neighbor.
Most shocking to the senator was that he’d assumed that Alden was safely tucked away at his fraternity at Harvard in Cambridge that night--and the senator had come home because he’d set up a session of his own with one of the Semple men.