By now I should be telling you to run buy Would I Lie to You: The Audiobook, but… it’s been in “brief review” at ACX for 23 days and counting. I use the acx-check plugin in Audacity before subbing, so I know the files are a-ok. At least they have customer service that doesn’t respond in seconds with a form letter that says “I do understand your concern” (a real instaletter I got from KDP once).
Sigh. Just another impenetrable mystery behind the walls at Castle Amazon…
Anyway! Conning Colin comes out next Friday! And here’s a BIG ASS sneak preview 🙂
Harrison Dillon adjusted his knit tie in the mirror one last time before he left home to meet an important client. His navy blue Todd Snyder suit fit him as well as its twin had fit Ryan Gosling, when he wore it to the Golden Globes, and its pinstripes were just as flattering to his strong, lean frame.
He checked his skin for any flaws or creases, brushed non-existent dust off his shoulders, and pushed a stray lock of his perfect hair back into place. When he knew he was ready, he winked at himself in the mirror and topped his look off with a fedora from JJ Hat Center. A hat wasn’t something that just any man could pull off, never mind a fedora, but Harrison? He owned it.
The car service was waiting for him downstairs, ready to whisk him to the Carlyle, where he’d meet his client in Bemelmans Bar. Named after the creator of the charming Madeline books, the bar was one of those establishments where it’s difficult to look bad – the lighting was just that good, and the warm golds and browns of the décor put even the most nervous client at ease.
The staff nodded as he sailed through the lobby, the doorman greeting him by name, the concierge looking up briefly from her desk to nod at him, the bartender giving him a discreet smile.
It wasn’t just the hat, the suit, the astonishing good looks, but his presence. A sense… no, a knowledge, that he belonged here, a projected vibration that everyone could pick up on.
Harrison’s client was seated at the end of a corner banquette, a spot Harrison had come to associate with the “startled hare” sort of man, as it allowed for a fast escape if it was, you know, just too much at the last minute. Which was why Harrison now took deposits before meeting new clients. If they wanted to bolt after putting down five bills in advance, that was fine with him.
He’d called himself “George” on the phone (and Harrison didn’t doubt it was his real name, since George wasn’t the sort of fake name that you make up). He had wide eyes and a nervous smile on his ample face, made more ample by his high hairline, if hairline it could still be called. As he stood up to greet Harrison and shake his hand vigorously, his chins wiggled their own hello. His own gray suit was, to Harrison’s eye, exactly what was expected by the peers and superiors of a middle manager of a Midwestern farm equipment combine – sober, cheap, practical.
Harrison focused on the eyes. Someone had taught him long ago that if you were with someone who (to say it discreetly) wasn’t your type, the way to do the job was to concentrate on the one thing about that person you found attractive. Whether it was his voice, or his smile, it didn’t matter. And George had clear, astonishingly bright blue eyes undimmed by age or alcohol – he might even have been a catch, in his time.
“George, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” Harrison said in his warm, smooth voice.
“Oh, and you too, Harrison. You’re… Oh you hear that all the time, right? That you really do look just like your pictures.”
Harrison smiled generously. “Thank you, it’s always nice to hear it.”
It was typical in this line of work to fudge online, not just your age but your appearance, hoping that even if the head shots were… a bit outdated, that the client would decide when you arrived that a bird in the hand et cetera. Harrison kept his shots fresh, and made sure to note that in his profile. Even if his looks hadn’t wilted in the least since he’d started this job three years ago, he knew that his regulars, as well as prospective lookie loos, wanted new fantasy material on a steady basis.
“Club soda, please,” Harrison told the waiter. “And my friend here will have…”
“Oh, umm, just a ginger ale.”
The waiter knew Harrison’s drink without asking, but to have it appear unasked for would remind the client that, well, Harrison was here often enough for waiters to know his “on the job” drink. And that would spoil the magic, the pretense that he was here just for you, had never been here for anyone but you.
They made small talk, as George looked at his watch nervously.
Harrison read his mind. “We’ve got plenty of time before the curtain, but if you like, we can go now.”
George exhaled, relieved. “Oh, yes, please. I just… New York, you know, the traffic, you never know when all the cabs will just disappear.”
“True, a drop of rain and poof, they’re all gone. Shall we?”
What George wanted, Harrison knew, was to spend more time sitting next to Harrison in the cramped confines of the Gershwin Theatre. At first, he kept his arm cautiously folded in his lap. Then at some point during the first act, he pressed it against Harrison’s on the arm rest, then, with Harrison’s encouragement, George’s hand came to rest on Harrison’s chiseled thigh.
Fortunately for George, the spectacle of Wicked on stage was diverting enough that George’s fast breaths and the sheen of sweat on his face went undetected by anyone around them. (Harrison was very good at changing the minds of out of town clients who wanted to take him to Cats or Phantom, neither of which he hated, exactly, but neither of which he ever wanted to see again.)
The thigh move was a useful trick he employed when he wanted clients to ask to skip dinner, and go straight back to their hotel room for the rest of the evening’s entertainment. And tonight it worked like a charm on George.
Little time was wasted at the hotel, as Harrison let George undress him, piece by piece, faster and faster, even though George had clearly wanted to make the experience last. When George got to Harrison’s Mack Weldon men’s trunk briefs, he finally let out a little moan.
Harrison had selected the Mack Weldons carefully. They had the look, though upgraded in color and style and fabric, of the old Fruit of the Loom y-fronts that men like George had grown up with. They would always associate them with every boy in every locker room whose crotches had, achingly unavailable, waggled in their faces. And now, at last, at last, for a mere two thousand dollars, what was behind all those tighty-whities was finally here for the taking.
George had pulled the elastic waist band down ever so slowly, and when Harrison’s respectably large cock fell out over the band, the moan became a groan, and he looked up from his knees at his new god, who smiled at him like the sun, encouragingly…
Harrison Dillon arrived home at dawn, having fucked, held, and listened to George, all of these repeatedly, in varying order, for five hours, before, at last, satisfied and at peace, George had fallen into a deep sleep. Harrison didn’t doubt that George’s presentation later that morning, at a convention with his fellow agricultural machinery salesmen, would be a knockout.
Harrison fought the lock on the front door to his Hell’s Kitchen building, the fluorescent light over the entry flickering maddeningly, preventing any seizure-prone individual from lingering there too long. He finally wedged it open and trudged up the rickety stairs to his fourth floor apartment.
Inside, he emptied his pockets of the night’s detritus, including the theater ticket, a hotel stationery envelope with his remaining fee and a $200 tip, and an inexplicable quarter. This fell on the floor and quickly rolled into the kitchen, the whole building having gone off kilter in the years since the adjacent building had been demolished to make way for a condo spire.
He took off his suit and hung it up in the closet, next to one other fine suit and an assortment of upscale casual menswear. He was especially careful with the Todd Snyder suit, as it had to be back in the offices of GQ the next morning, in perfect condition.
Once stripped to his boxers and t-shirt, it was not Harrison Dillon but rather Henry Davis who padded into the kitchen, opened the freezer, and extracted the pint of Ben and Jerry’s Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream, diligently hoarded until just this moment.
And it was Henry who nuked the pint for a few seconds to hasten its softness, who fed the goldfish, who pushed the Times off the couch, folded open to an elaborate recipe he knew he’d never make for one person, and who put his aging MacBook on his lap and pulled up Skype as he stabbed the spoon into the ice cream.
“Hello, darling,” Sunita said in her soft Indian accent. “How was the date?”
There was no video on the call. Sunita always said she didn’t own a webcam, which Henry knew was balderdash, but he didn’t argue the point. His virtual assistant had her own reasons for being discreet about her “job” as the alleged madam at Elite Companions NYC, a busy high-end escort service. The agency had only one escort, but the concept impressed a certain clientele.
“Fine,” Henry said, digging around the soft edges of the pint for a hefty soup spoon’s worth of nectar. “He was a number three.”
“Ah, not a bad day’s work,” she said. They’d come up with a shorthand for clients based on the Seven Lesbian Haircuts, the idea that there were at most seven types of clients. Type number three wanted both hot sex and physical intimacy, but had to be carefully shepherded away from attaching emotionally to the service provider.
“Anything come up?” he asked.
“Hmm, let’s see. Oh, hold on.”
“Sure thing.” Henry took advantage of the hold time to gratify himself with another shovelful of well-earned ice cream. He’d taken to wearing a Fitbit on his dates, to count the calories expended. That way he knew how many calories he could enjoy later, and still maintain the perfect body that the clients dreamed of touching.
Henry had some idea of Sunita’s client list, from hints she’d dropped over the last three years, but since discretion was important to both of them, he’d never asked for details. She’d clawed her way up from a grindingly boring, 80 hour a week, remote assistant job in a big Bangalore cubicle farm, then established her own lucrative business, working for various purveyors of semi-legal services.
“Okay,” she said, popping back on line from her other call. “You have two prospective clients. I’m thinking one’s a Two, and the other’s definitely a Seven.”
“No on that one.” Sixes and Sevens wanted to “party and play,” which was fine with Henry if that was your thing, he didn’t judge, but Sevens wanted him to supply the party favors. Dealing drugs wasn’t something he wanted to get involved in; sex for money was the limit of his comfort level with illegal income. Sevens could easily find other escorts whose ads told them to “just ask” if there was anything they needed.
“I thought not. I didn’t blow him off because, well…”
She let it hang in the air discreetly. Because, they both knew, Henry’s finances weren’t at the point where he could say no to everything.
“No, it’s not that bad yet. If it comes to that, I’ll…” He shuddered. “Start temping again. Oh, hold on.” He tapped in a string of numbers off a cash card into the Skype chat window. “Here you go.” He’d stopped at a bodega on the way home and bought a $200 cash card, to make up the arrears on Sunita’s account he’d been carrying for a couple weeks.
“You’re a darling. Your credit’s always good with me, Henry.”
“I know,” he said, but he also knew that however much she enjoyed their chats, she wasn’t a charity. Another hint Henry had caught was that Sunita was providing for pretty much her entire extended family.
“Okay,” he sighed. “Tell me about the Two.”
Henry took the date, who sounded easy. Whereas Ones were deeply closeted and would often cry and angrily quote Bible verses at you after sex (before trying to stiff you on the bill), Twos were closeted, but had usually accepted that they were gay, and just hadn’t done anything about it yet, afraid to go to a gay bar or get on Fukr and be outed. Twos needed affirmation and hand holding and kind words, and then an ass-ramming so incredibly good that there would be no question in their mind afterwards about the joys of their newfound gayness.
Then he was done with reality for the time being. He flipped on the TV and fired up Netflix.
Henry was in the middle of bingeing all of White Collar for the seventh time around. And when the irresistible face of Neal Caffrey, his idol, his role model, filled the screen, his sparkling eyes and wicked grin promising mischief, Henry finally had his first moment of excitement at the end of this long night.
It was Matt Bomer as Neal Caffrey, the suave high-end thief and con man, a Cary Grant for the 21st century, who’d taught Henry how to wear a fedora without looking like a twit, how to wear a suit as if it was as weightless and unconstricting as a t-shirt and shorts, how to smile attentively at boring people, how, in other words, to be a con artist just like Neal.
Henry spooned ice cream into his mouth, just a bit of it dropping on his t-shirt in a manner that would have appalled Harrison Dillon. But Harrison was off work, and Henry merely ran a finger over it and licked it clean, smiling back at Neal Caffrey’s beaming face on the television.