Monday, 2 May 2016

Sam Corsair investigates

A novel by Ken Johnson. Zeroth draft.

Back cover Spine Front cover

Copyright © Ken Johnson, 2016. You may read this novel or use it in any way you want, free of charge, but if you make a profit, I want a share.

This novel is intended only for readers of 18 years of age and over.

It is a humdrum detective story with lots of gratuitous sex that doesn't advance the story. If you don't like books with sex and swearing, this novel is not for you. My other novels, currently Hell and Highwater (2007), All our Heroes are Busy at the Moment (2009), Life in the Bus Lane (2010) and The Allusionist (2015) don't have any explicit sex scenes.

Notice: Any resemblance between the events described in this novel and actual events is a co-incidence. Nearly all the apartments, banks, bars, beers, buildings, characters, churches, colleges, companies, courts, crimes, events, ferries, geography, history, islands, laws, libraries, liquors, newspapers, people, places, police forces, railroads, schools, streets, tailors and universities in this novel are fictitious, except one or two named products and places which I used to create an appearance of authenticity.

Chapter One

It was a hot evening, late at night. On the beach a band, electric guitars, sax, drums, big amps, was hammering out heavy rock. I left my troubles on the ferry and I was just walking over the brow of the low hill, looking at the bright neon lights, the fairground rides and the crowd dancing near the water’s edge as it came into view. There must have been hundreds of them, maybe a couple of thousands. Mainly jennies. Now you won’t meet teenage lingerie models here, you get quantity but not so much quality. This island is crammed to bursting with frustrated, busty jennies, burning hot milfs in their thirties and occasionally older. Nothing wrong with the older ladies: experience trumps youth. Desperate to spend the night with a guy, any guy, they crowd onto the ferries and take the trip to Sandy, where they spend the night dancing, drinking, injecting, stripping and getting the pants off any guy who will give them the time of day, or the time of night.

On Sandy they meet men like me. And the lucky ones meet me.

Forgive me. I didn’t introduce myself. Sam Corsair. Pleased to meet you. I was once a police officer in New York City. In 1949 after a court-room débâcle, I got the bum’s rush and since the Police was the only job I knew and I didn’t fancy re-training as a streetcar driver or a jobbing electrician, I hired a small office, put a brass plaque reading Private Investigator beside the entrance and waited for work to come banging on the door. Which it did, but not as often as I would like. So now I’m Sam Corsair, Private Investigator nine to five and drink sodden womaniser twenty four hours out of twenty four, at your service. The office is in the Bronx, my jennies live one on every street. So given the choice, I come here, to Sandy Island, across Lower Bay from Long Island. This place is where I work out, relax, chill, drink and look for companionship. Companionship that is female, unless it’s male, of course, and lonely and isn’t too fussy about who takes its panties off.

Standing on Sandy, looking across the water of Lower Bay, you can see the lights of Coney Island. At the end of the War, someone had the bright idea of putting another beachside amusement park on Sandy, the nearest island to the south, then posting a sign on the approach road that said Over 18 Only. Open All Day. Admission Free. Bright lights, loud music, cheap drink and the warm nights of summer and that wooden sign made the place an instant success. A place to exult physically, laugh with the girls, sing along with the guys, dance the night away and forget all the horrors that fill your daylight hours.

I had left the ferry and I was following the path to the beach. Two minutes before arriving on the beach, I threw my jacket on the ground. The weather was warm, even long after sunset, and wearing a jacket makes me look like a Drug Squad nark. The jacket is quite safe. I even threw my homburg on top of it. It will still be here when I leave the party, which will not be before sunrise. The kids here have one thing on their minds and it isn’t stealing jackets. I am wearing a sky blue shirt, tight shorts and under them, lacy girl’s panties that excite me as much as they inflame desires in the jennies. We all have our foibles, me probably more than most.

The band is playing Tutti Frutti. A group of three guys is dancing together. By the way they stroke each other’s cocks, I would guess that they know each other well. One of the guys is wearing bright blue see through panties, one wears a tee and low slung guy briefs, the third wears just a bikini top. These guys are late teens, legal age but very inexperienced and definitely vulnerable to the ways of the jennies. Their encounters with predators are all the same, I have seen it happening a dozen times, and it starts like this. A woman walks up to a guy. Never the other way around. The woman makes the first move. I could see the woman, standing in the shadows. She was red haired, a little too heavy, wearing brassiere, panties and garter belt, stockings and heels. Nothing else except perfume, ear rings and a pearl alice band. Her outfit was pleasantly revealing although sometimes the jennies wear less even than that. This jenny walks up to the guys, picks out the one who looks as though he has never done it before. You can always tell them. A bit too red faced, stares at the jennies with his mouth open, and pays admiring compliments to girls who might score four or five out of ten at a charity beauty pageant. Of course that’s a jejune mistake. You have to let the jenny think that you’re doing her a favour, not that she is doing a favour for you.

“What’s your name, boy?” The jennie picks out the guy in the blue bra and panties. He is already putty in her manicured and anointed hands. He will try to resist but the fight is over already, no contest, by two submissions in the first round.
“Cluff,” says the guy.
“I just love your underwear, Cluff. Age?”
“Eighteen.” He is small for his age, and the jennie notices that too. She appears mesmerised by his tight underwear. Some jennies think that hint of youth adds to a boy’s attractiveness. At eighteen, Cluff is naif. He doesn’t know what is about to hit him, or where it is about to hit him.
“Call me Juniper.” Juniper strokes the front of his panties with the palm of her hand. “You and I could really have some fun.” Her right middle finger runs along the length of his penis, feeling it straighten inside the panties. “Look at my panties, Cluff. See the cameltoe?” she asks him, and she slips the gusset to one side, revealing the little pink opening and giving him a rush of desire. “You know who I have in my panties? Juniper’s kitty. She really wants to meet you. Put it in there,” she tells him.
“Not yet. I want to have a dance with the guys, get drunk, wank them off, but maybe I’ll see you later.”

The curse of the city, if you’re a man looking for casual fun with a woman, is Aphro. It’s legal, so far. The drug squad hasn’t really got to grips with it, which is why everyone is on the look-out for the dealers. Nobody knows where Aphro comes from or what exactly is in it, but if you’re a man its effects are sudden, dramatic, painful and embarrassing. Half the women on Sandy seem to have a supply of aphro. Cluff has guessed, rightly as it happens, that Juniper has it and intends to use it. I am going to hang around, stay in the shadows and watch what happens.

Cluff tried to stall Juniper but he was way too late. Juniper has a skewer. She rests the third finger, with its heavy ring, on the stiff penis. The ring might as well be a syringe: it works the same way, but the guy doesn’t see it coming. The tiny needle, like a thorn on her ring, is packed with aphro.

Juniper says, "This might be a little bit uncomfortable for you." She taps the ring against Cluff’s shaft, and the fight ends, as I predicted. Cluff feels a prickle, and the stuff enters his bloodstream. The penis swells to eight or ten inches maybe. His balls throb. The penis burns as though he were inserting it into red hot coals. Cluff is desperate to quench the fire, to get into that kitty that Juniper showed him.
“Here, it’s all yours.” She pulls his panties down to his knees and immediately she presses her crotch against the massively engorged penis. “Kitty is clean shaven,” she adds, whispering into his ear, “and ready for your big cock.” Cluff’s balls are throbbing, bursting. His cock feels as though it is on fire. Juniper is dripping moist and Cluff’s hard rod slides into the kitty. “Push, sweetheart... Uh! There. You feel a bit better now. Try to hold on for a moment, you feel so sweet and good!” She kisses him hard, passionately, open mouthed, pushing her tongue down his throat. Within seconds Cluff has pumped his load.
“Thank you, darling,” says Juniper, smirking. “Sorry I had to give you a sore cock. Do you want my phone number?”
“I’ll take a rain check on that,” says Cluff, trying to keep his dignity.

Cluff’s friends laughed at him as he made his way back to them. Denn, in tee and briefs, saw him first.
“She got you, huh?” Denn called to Cluff.
“Yes, the bastard. I wasn’t looking out.” Cluff shook his head. He is sore but no harm has been done.
“She gave you the skewer? Hey, I could have seen that coming from here. You should keep a look out. Nice lady?”
“Heavy, mommy type with crow’s feet, nice tight satin panties with lace, balconette bra, hard nipples, not much else.”
“Ooh, sexy.” Denn mimes masturbating. Cluff’s cock, which is limp but still swollen to twice its usual size, is still very sore. Denn grabs it and rubs it, giving Cluff a mixture of mild excitement and mild hurt. “More later. Try not to think about it,” says Denn, “we’ve all had the skewer, they get what they want and it stops hurting after an hour or so.”
I, too, smirk at Cluff, who was trying to adjust his pants so as not to show the enlargement.

I stepped out of the shadows and I caught up with the guys. “Hi, guys. How do you feel, Cluff?”
“Pretty silly,” says Cluff.
“Sore dick?” I said, trying to guide him to say the un-sayable.
“Aching, yeah,” he said.
“It’s just that I know that jenny. She’s had lots of practice,” I tell him, “you never saw it coming until it prickled.”
“I can still feel it now.”
“Don’t panic. Don’t be scared. No damage done. The guys will give you a hand job, that soothes the aches. In fifteen minutes it will go back to its usual size. See you around.”
I’ll be back for them later. I really want to get my hands on the tee and low briefs, bend him over and slip his briefs off, and then… Suddenly I realised how keen I was on fucking the kid's tight, clean ass.

One history lesson coming up, unless it’s geography. The Army took over Sandy in 1874. Come the hour, comes the island. Fifteen minutes sailing from Coney Island or the Bronx, Sandy was the island where soldiers trained to fire big guns and sailors trained to launch torpedoes. It was strictly forbidden to visit Sandy Island. It had No Unauthorized Mooring signs that you could see from space. Suddenly at the end of the War, the Army upped sticks, bequeathed Sandy to the Parks Service and went elsewhere.

Sandy became a park. By a stroke of genius someone arranged a regular ferry that ran right and day from Brooklyn to Sandy and back. Dark, beautiful and away from the mean streets, Sandy became a place for guys to meet girls. Within days guys appeared on Sandy, surfing, playing beach volleyball and beach baseball, in shorts or naked. The jennies arrived looking for hotboys, massive cocks, quicky sex without love, lust without commitment, all the excitement that their dull, limp husbands didn’t give them. Many of the women stripped and went naked. Some of the guys picked up the girls’ discarded lingerie and wore it, and they looked beautiful in the sweet underwear of seductive women. Other guys went nude.

That was the time, almost to the day, when aphro appeared on the streets and the women realised that if they could get hold of aphro, they could have anyone, anything they wanted, if they could get the dope and the means to force it onto someone else: a hollow ring or bracelet with a sharp hollow spike. The jennies outnumbered the guys ten to one, and the skewer made it easy for a girl to overcome all resistance.

So there I was on Sandy, standing at the edge of the crowd, listening to the band and watching three cute young men.

I decided to go for the ride. “The ride” is like a ride that you might find on Coney Island, a miniature highway with bumper cars. The cars follow a trail that runs around the island, a distance of six miles. The trip takes an hour if you don’t stop along the way, but most drivers have someone in the car with them and if an hour isn’t long enough you can park for a while. Guys mostly join the queue at the boarding station and wait for a bumper car to become free, while jennies mostly wait in line for a guy to pick them.

At the boarding station I took a seat in a bumper car and cased the girls. There were thirty or more women flashing themselves in the hope of getting a ride and some romance. I could see Juniper, gorgeous but dangerous, and there were thirty others at least. I didn’t take the risk of getting the skewer from Juniper. I picked one of the other women.

“Are you free?” I yelled to a sexy blue collar type, blonde, thirty, full waist, very curvy rear, and wearing only a microskirt and high heels. Her boobs must have been 38D at the least and she was showing them off, fully uncovered. “Sam Corsair, night shift dodgem chauffeur, drunk and randy at your service,” I introduced myself as she walked across to me and grabbed the door handle. “What’s your name? You wearing anything under the skirt?”
“Katrina.” Katrina smiles broadly. Her voice is from Texas. “I’m Katrina Aquitaine.”
“Aquitaine?” I stumbled over the unfamiliar name and I added, “May I call you Trina?”
“Yes, Sam,” she said, “as long as you call me. Going back to what’s under my skirt, not a stitch. Isn’t that exciting? Doesn’t that tighten your panties? I’ll let you take a look around later, once we’re out of the light.”

I check her delicate hands for rings, and she looks safe. “Trina, I’ll take you round the island if you like.”
“I’d love that.” Katrina is already settling into my bumper car.
“Twice around the block, as you’re from Texas. I adore the cowgirl drawl so talk to me non-stop. Just put your clutch bag on the dashboard.” Who knows what’s in there, I thought.
“Why,” asked Katrina, squeezing herself into the car, “do you think I’m carrying something?”
“Trina, please just put it where I can see it. You know exactly what I mean.”
“No aphro, no condoms,” she reassured me, “I have the stitch.” She meant sterilisation. I tried not to think about it. I knew it was a sensible thing for a career woman to do but even the thought of doing that to yourself made me feel ill for a moment.
“I wouldn’t want you to give me the needle, Trina,” I punned, “and I can do without the loss of control.”
“What bugs you, Sam, is you can’t stand the pain.” Katrina was right, of course. “You don’t like to beg a homely middle aged milf for relief.”
“Babe, in no way, absolutely no way, are you homely.” Katrina could have been mistaken for Yvonne De Carlo, in Song of Scheherazade. She was out of place in the moo queue.

The boarding station is brightly lit, and the rest of the track is in darkness. We shut the doors of the bumper car and I hit the start button. The doors locked and the car moved off.

“I got the skewer a dozen times while I learned what to look out for. After ten minutes it doesn’t hurt. Not much, anyway,” I tried to bravado.
“You’re scared of the skewer, Sam. It burns. Your cock feels like it burst into flames. It makes you fuck an ugly woman to relieve the pain.”
“I do them a favour sometimes,” I said, but I knew that aphro burns make me, or anyone, helpless. Desperate for some good sex, jennies, BBWs, grannies, milfs all used the skewer to reel in a one night stand.
“I love the skewer. Every chance I get, I use the skewer on eighteen year old boys,” Trina told me. “They look so surprised when their little pipe suddenly swells up to the length and thickness of my arm. Their pants stretch, the seams give way, and then the pain starts, they don’t know what’s happened. Don’t be scared, Sam, I won’t use it on you. I’m very fond of you already. Do you want to marry me?”
“No,” I said, trying not to sound rude.
“Do you want to fuck me over and over again without any intention of marrying me?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“Good. You and I are going to get along very well indeed,” Katrina asserted.
I turned and looked her up and down. “You’re making me happy already,” I said.

The car swung around a bend and sped up to a walking pace. The lights of the boarding station were behind us, and it was dark in the car now. Katrina and I laughed. We had both seen it happen: someone’s little brother gets a prickle, his cock swells up like a barrage balloon and he screams for a hand job. Or a little more, maybe. Some girls would give a hand job. Some would slide their panties to the side. Some sit in the guy’s lap and take it up the ass.

“And they have such cute bums at that age,” says Katrina, “did you ever get the pants off an eighteen year old?”
“Yes.” I admitted it. “Did you?”
“I gave a couple of brothers a hard time,” she laughed. “Tutoring extra math. Smacked their bottoms and then gave them the prickle. You should have seen them.”
“Big boys?”
“Not at first. Two inches, if that, when I came into the room.” said Katrina, laughing, “but by the time I’d shown them my panties and skewered both guys, even they couldn’t believe how much they swelled up. A foot long, both of them, in agony and on fire with desire. Hey, let’s go off piste and get out of the car for a while. I can’t wait much longer for you to fuck me.”

The car was travelling down the west coast of Sandy. The lights of the fairground were behind us, and the lights from the city were on our right. Katrina reached in front of me and pushed the “Park” button on the dash. The car turned off the roadway towards the beach, wandered across the sand and stopped. Sitting together we put our arms around one another and kissed. We spent a long time kissing. I held her breasts. She unzipped my pants and pulled them off, and skilfully, sweetly held my cock.

“Let’s do it on the beach.” Katrina. “Come on,” ahe said, “it’s dark, no-one can see.” I had no pants on. Katrina teased me with her hands. She and I ran down to the sea. Katrina knelt over me, cowgirl style, and I slid my tool into her effortlessly. She knew how to rock those gorgeous hips and please me as well as herself. She pressed against me, lifted herself and pressed herself down again. We climaxed together.

“Want to do it again?” she asked me.
“More than you can imagine.”

Katrina’s hand took my cock gently and began to stroke and tease it with stunning expertise. She knew I needed a lot of sex.

“In or out?” she asked.
“Out, this time,” I said. She moved her fingers in a special way, something I had not experienced before, and I unloaded into her hand instantly.
“How did you do that?” I asked, panting slightly. My heart was pounding.
“Girly secret. Do you want it again?”
“Yes.” I was obviously lying on the sand with the maestro of the orgasm. She did it again. I pumped over her hand in, maybe, half a minute.
“Marry me,” I said, “please.”
“Only if you have a really big cock and if I can marry lots of other cute guys as well,” she said.
“That’s all right with me,” I said. “As long as we share a room most nights.”
“I have a surprise for someone,” said Katrina, “that I think you will enjoy watching. Drive! Until I want to park again, of course.” She grins naughtily. “If you’re going to marry me, I need to examine your cock diligently for signs of size, and perform exhaustive non-destructive testing.”

The car clunked into automatic, backed up onto the roadway and continued to drive around the island. After a couple of miles, both desperate for each other, we parked again. The car took us inland to park this time. From the seats we saw the beach party, the moon on the water and the lights and traffic of the city across the bay, in the distance. We kissed hungrily. It seemed neither of us had done it for a while.

“Do you want to give a repeat performance?” I ask Katrina.
“Here.” She took my cock in her hand and stroked it expertly, making me so hard that I’m ready to beg her for intercourse, insertion, a deep fuck. But I didn’t need to do so much as ask. Naked, she sat on my lap.
“Skirts just get in the way,” she said breathily, squirming on my lap so that my cock found her little back door. “Go on, push as hard as you— Ow!
I wrapped my arms around her waist and pulled her onto me.
“Yes!” she breathed, “harder!”
A second later she made me deliver another load. She was hot, sweating slightly, red faced and I could feel her heart racing.
“What are you going to do with this guy you want to meet?” I asked. “Just asking out of curiosity. I wouldn’t want to spoil the fun.”
“He is going to get a biiiig dose of something he doesn’t want much.”

We both smirked. The car takes us back on the roadway and rounds the curve back towards the boarding station.
“That was my finest hour,” I tell her, because it was.
“I’d love to see you again,” she says, and that isn’t something they usually say.
“2231 East 170th, fourth floor and look for the name Corsair.”
“Whenever I get the urge, I’ll be there demanding your attention,” she said as if she meant it, “the opposite of marriage.”
“You’ll get it. And you’ll get my attention as well.”

We were back at the boarding station. The car stopped and the doors unlocked. We could go around again or get off and go back to the beach.

Trina got out of the car and pulled her microskirt over her hips. “Come with me and let’s give the guys a surprise. Stay out of sight.”

I led Katrina to the beach, near the band, where the guys are still playing together. There is something fresh, clean and joyful about them, like watching kids playing baseball in a car park on a hot summer day.

“That guy, there, is seriously cute. His name is Edge.” The sweet guy is still wearing a green bikini top, nothing else at all. That soft, pretty cock did not know who, or what, was about to hit it.

I stayed at a safe distance, out of the light, so he probably did not notice me. Trina walked up to him. “Hi.”
“Hi.” Edge was taking in the view and was tongue tied.
“Having a good party?” Trina asked him.
“Yeah.” Edge was a bit shy at first but Trina knew how to handle him.
“You’re a strong, slim young man. I’ve been looking for you. Not someone like you, but you.”
Edge thought for a moment and murmured, “Gee, thanks, ma’am.”
Trina knelt in front of him and put her arms around him so that he couldn’t back off. “That is a sweet little cock. Want to show me what it can do?”
Edge was quiet. His cock was limp and maybe one inch from base to tip. Katrina made a feint of admiring it, and honestly it was a beautiful tool. “Oh, my,” she drawled, “that is one utterly gorgeous rod.”

With her left hand around his waist and holding him close, Katrina took the shaft in her right hand and stroked it, to make it straight. She stroked the underside of the shaft, so it rose a little. And then came the decisive move. Her right hand dropped to the scrotum and closed around it. Edge was trapped: so long as he complied with her requests he might be pain free, Katrina could give him the highest and fiercest pleasure, while if Edge misbehaved, Katrina could crush the balls until he was screaming in agony.

“Please,” said Edge, “you’re frightening me. I’ll do anything.”
The right hand squeezed Edge’s bare balls until he screamed and pissed himself. The piss flowed over Katrina’s face, and she opened her mouth to sip it. “I love piss,” she told him, “pissing just makes you more desirable, sweetheart.”

The left hand slowly grasped the penis. Katrina had something concealed in the palm of her left hand. It was like a small eye dropper although Trina used it with such skill that Edge never saw the instrument. Katrina pushed it home. Edge felt a prickle on the shaft of his cock, and immediately it swelled up, like blowing up a balloon, into a rigid erection a foot long or more. “Oh, God,” cries Edge, and the pain starts.
“You feel as though your cock is on fire,” Katrina told him. “Like I’m holding a candle flame to the tip, burning, searing, torturing you.”
Edge made a half hearted attempt to struggle but Katrina squeezed his balls, harder than before, and told him to stand still. “I want this dose to hurt,” she said, “so no relief for you, not yet. How does it feel?”
“My cock hurts,” says Edge, “it really hurts.”
“How much?”
“Red hot. Burning. Boiling oil painful.”
Katrina’s hand tightened on his balls giving Edge his first pang of serious pain. “You poor darling. Don’t forget I can squeeze your balls until they bleed. Now, when I lie down, raise my skirt and put it in.”

Somehow Katrina managed to lie on her back without letting go of Edge’s balls for a moment. She guided the balls to her kitty and the cock entered her slowly. For a moment Edge hesitated and Katrina’s hand commanded him to push it all the way in.
“Ooh, I like that, sweety. Is the pain going away?”
“Yes, ma’am,” says Edge.
“You can release your load now. Go on, darling. Pump, hard.
Edge gasps and pumps his load.
“You’re good in the sack. Nice big cock. Want to do it again?”
“It still hurts too much,” said Edge.

“I’ll give you your balls back,” says Trina, letting go of Edge’s firm scrotum. “I’ll see you again. Sorry I had to hurt your balls, but you have to learn who’s boss.”

I watched as Edge went back to his friends and Katrina walked over to me. “See,” she said, “he didn’t suspect a thing until the dope went down the needle.”
“Was he good?”
“An absolute darling.” Trina loved him. “With a cock as thick and straight and hard as a broom handle. Loads of milk. I nearly swooned when it went in.”
“Great work. I’m going home now. Want to come with me?”
“What will your wife say?”
“I don’t know. She’s in Cincinnati. Has been since nineteen-thirty. Ring her up and ask, if you want.”
“I wouldn’t want to wake her at this hour. Of course I’d love to come.”
“Suppose I were married and living with my wife still?”
“I’d come and do everything in front of her. I’m one ever so naughty lady, don’t you know.“

That, and very desperate, I didn’t say. Trina and I walked along the pathway towards the ferry. As we came near to the quay I picked my jacket off the ground, where I had thrown it. Nothing missing. Katrina was holding my hand, a very tender gesture on an island where most of the women wanted nothing more than a quick in, pump and out. The ferry was waiting, warm and welcoming. Life was good. I had spent the night among bikini clad jennies, made love, watched a young woman in bottomless action and not once been given the skewer.

Chapter Two

A while ago, not having a lot of paid work, I moved back in with my mother. I was waiting for business to improve. I had moved in with mom twenty years ago if it was a day. I always told myself that when I had a steady income from a crowd of regular customers I would move out, rent a better office in a nice part of town, and buy myself a mansion with maids and mistresses and servants and a back yard the size of Yosemite National Park and lots of that comfortable and elegant regency furniture. Then I would drive round to Mom's when I needed someone to talk to and a shoulder to cry on and some good sex. But living with Mom had its advantages. For one thing, I was living with a gorgeous woman, not a sleazy jenny who used the skewer on any guy she took a shine to but a lust filled gorgeous lady who loved me - by love I mean love and by gorgeous I mean a lady that you might mistake for Theda Bara. So much so that I sometimes call Mom "The Vamp." Mom was dark brunette, 5 ft 6 in, 34C-28-38, 120 pounds, bubble butt and a taste for expensive lingerie. Exactly what you would want in a girlfriend, and if you had a harem you would want every woman in there to look, feel and talk a bit like Mom. Remind me to add a harem to that mansion I told you about. And Mom happily engaged me in sexual intercourse and love making of all kinds, and she didn't expect me to propose marriage. What's more she knew how to talk excitingly without talking dirty.

I hadn't been home for two or three nights. Mom had been sleeping alone. She heard me arrive in the early hours, which had definitely set her fantasies running like race horses. I had let myself into the apartment, stripped off, washed half heartedly and thrown myself under the bed covers. Now, Mom needed something between the legs and she knew where to find it. Mom was kind. She let me sleep for a while.

The sun was shining when Mom woke me by walking into my room and standing a couple of feet away from me.

"What do you think of the outfit, son?" Mom spoke gently. I opened my eyes and beheld a dark haired and svelte angel from Heaven in tight, translucent underwear and stiletto pumps.
"Faultless," I told her, truthfully. "You look breathtaking. Exciting. Stunning."
"Do you think these panties are a bit too revealing, Samuel?" She pulled them tight, showing the curves underneath. "I know how much you hate your women to show too much."
"They suit you just perfectly," I said. Mom knew I was transfixed by panties. Mom smiled and slid the waistband down a couple of inches, showing that flat tummy of hers. She had no pubic hair.

Despite being a little over sixty, Mom had a centrefold body. I often wished she would take up modelling because I would have loved to show her body off to my friends. See the centrefold this month? She's my Mom and we live together. Mom had dyed her shoulder length straight hair a deep golden blond. Her perfume was Joy, which she wore because she knew it excites me. Her outfit was a simple retro style, sunflower yellow and red hot, a brassiere transparent enough to show off her chocolate coloured nipples, garter belt and stockings with a lace top and seams. She was wearing sky blue six inch stilettos and she had slid tight, sheer yellow panties over the garters. The panties were sheer enough for me to see that she had recently shaved her pubic hair clean off.

"You see," she said suggestively, "I put the panties on last, so you can take them off without removing the garter, or the stockings," she stroked the lace tops with her fingertips, "or the brassiere." I noticed that her fingernails were sky blue and matched the shiny patent leather stilettos.

Mom turned around slowly, allowing me to view her glorious body from all sides, then walked over to me. I was riveted by her lipstick, a glossy traffic light red colour. But this red traffic light did not mean "stop." This traffic light meant "go," or to be exact, "go all the way."

"The lipstick is new." She could easily follow my gaze. "Do you want a hand job?"
"Mom, you know I'm besotted. We have all day together. Let's have full sex."
"Plenty of time for that," said Mom, slipping her panties down a little further, "but I don't want you rushing. I need to take the edge off your desire, so, hand relief first." Mom rationed full intercourse so as to keep me on edge and ready for her any time her desire began to rise.
"Let's spend today in bed, Mom. No work has come along so far today but I live in hope, of course."

Mom came and sat on my bed, leaned over me, curled her hand around the back of my head and pressed her lips hard against mine. Mom chose her lipstick deliberately to leave smudges, so that when I was out on the street, other women who might lust after me would see that I already kissed a lover. As Mom held my head and kissed me, her other hand trailed lightly over my lower tummy, making me very erect. The hand curled slowly around my dick and began carefully stroking the tip. Mom was an expert in that art. Mom knew that I would release my milk after a few seconds of her skilful treatment.

"You should be a lap dancer," I said to Mom, "you'd be the best."
"You're right," she said, "there's nothing more I want from a job than seeing a lot of dicks. Which is why I work where I do."

Mom worked as a barkeep and a dancing girl in Grannies Bar on 45th. Grannies was a clip joint where grandma aged women worked in near darkness and near nudity selling shots of liquor to men who had already had a few. Mom worked under the name Blondie and her fellow barkeeps had names like Asscheeks, Busty, Gorgeous and Hotlips.

"Do you give hand jobs to the guys there?" I asked, knowing that she often gave the regulars relief but never asked for payment. There were seven or eight barkeeps most night, all over fifty, all with C cups or larger, and all of them knew how to undo the zip on a pair of pants with one hand.
"All the time," said Mom, "why else would anyone come to our bar?"
I thought for a moment. "Did you ever do this to Dad?" I asked. In an unguarded moment Mom had once let fall the intimate detail that Dad had a big tool. She was cagey about telling me the details of their intimate night-life.
"Yeah. All the time." Mom's fingers were squeezing, stroking, tickling, making my dick rigid. It had swollen up to six inches or so. "He was a bit like you. Quick up, quick down, repeater, but he could never keep going. No staying power at all, either of you."
"He was a fool to leave you," I said, "I doubt he ever found another perfect ten performer."
"You're a very big boy," said Mom, changing the subject, teasing me and enlarging my dick maybe another half inch. "You need me," she said. "You need a woman who likes quickies. You need this." Mom could make me pump my load instantly with a trick of the hand. I felt her turn her hand so that she could make me unload. Two fingers stroked the underside of my dick and the release began instantly. A wave of pleasure started to flood outwards from the base of my dick. I felt my prostate contract and the load spurted over her wrist and my thighs. "Oh, that's special, that's what we needed to feel." Mom lifted her head and said, "My, you messy boy. That didn't take long." I wasn't sure whether she was laughing at me because I couldn't hold on, or whether she was simply pleased with herself for satisfying my need so easily. "There, darling, you feel better! Do you want another hand job?" she asked, and she returned to kissing me hard.
"Yeah," I said.
"You'll get one. Maybe more. But I want something else first."
"I'll do anything for you, Mom." I don't think I was exaggerating. I loved seeing Mom excited.
"We need to get into position," said Mom, musically and gently. My dick was already straightening at the thought of more heavy petting with my God given love.

As Mom kissed me she climbed into my bed beside me. I ran my hands over her lingerie, feeling the tautness of the garter belt, the strong elastic of her brassiere straps, the movement of her panty over her firm, curvy bottom. She moved her legs apart to let me fondle her beautiful opening. Mom gasped as I ran my finger over her labia, tracing the edges of her love canal through the fabric of the sheer panty.

"Christ," I said, "you are gorgeous, Mom."
"You're not getting in there so don't waste your breath asking. Make love to me," she breathed, "Use your mouth."
"Panties on or off?" I asked, knowing Mom preferred sex in her underwear.
"Don't you dare try to get my panties off," said Mom, "I can still spank hard, you know."

Making love to Mom meant obeying her one word commands instantly. She could, and did, spank hard if she thought I was disobeying her.

Mom wriggled. She knelt over my face and pushed her panty gusset hard against my lips. "Lick," she commanded. I obeyed. My tongue explored the transparent fabric and pressed against the sensitive slot beneath. I licked and licked and licked and Mom became more and more excited. I kissed the labia and felt Mom inching towards her orgasm. She could hold back for much longer than I could, and she wouldn't let me forget it. She parted her thighs wider so that my tongue sank slightly deeper between the panty-covered labia. "Oh, she groaned in a low moan, "that feels so good. Lick harder." I did. Mom pressed her panty gusset firmly against my face. "Oooh, don't you dare stop." I licked harder, then, "OH!" Mom lost control of her lower body, her panty gusset ground against my mouth, she released a splash of liquid and groaned as her orgasm struck her with the force of a lightning bolt. "Oh, my darling boy," she gasped, "you are so, so good at kissing our friend Miss Kitty."

Mom lay down full length beside me and her hand found my dick again, lifted it, and caressed it, playing expertly with the tip. "You can't hold back," she said, "even though you just had it, you won't hold back."
"Let me put it into you," I said.
"I told you, if you try to get my panties off, you get spanked. Anyway, Sam, don't you like these panties?" Mom used the same trick again, raising her hand and bringing me to boiling point with those two cool, precisely placed fingers. "I love the way these panties let you see the target, make you think about it, make you imagine how good it would feel to push your dick all the way in there…"

I gasped as my orgasm hit me. "Mom!" My prostate squeezed its load onto her beautiful wrists, even harder than the last time.

"Oh, Mom," I complained, "I did so want to put that into you."
"Not tonight. You know, Sam, I think you may need a spanking. Say you love me," said Mom.
"I love you, Mom. I love you desperately. I need to get into you."
"No, darling. I do let you get inside sometimes but you know I'm your Mom and having intercourse with me would be incest." Mom didn't care that we were having incest. "Incest is something unspeakable, unnatural and illegal. So we'll not let you put your dick inside. That would be," she slowed her speech and whispered, "dreadfully naughty."

I tried to beg but Mom kept me silent with a hard kiss on my lips. "You naughty, naughty boy," she murmured. "What happens to naughty boys, Sam?"
"We get spanked, Mom."
"Yes, so don't push your luck any further."
"No, Mom."
"You can't think of anything but your Mommy's pussy, can you?"
"No, Mom," I said, truthfully, "believe me, your pussy is all I ever think about. I have been longing to get right up close to it all the time I've been away."
"That's one reason I love you so much," said Mom, fingering my dick again to see if there was more milk to be pumped from it. It was limp, but effortlessly Mom made it harden. "You can think outside the box but not outside the panties. I can control you body and soul with my pussy. You're a naughty boy, obsessed with your Mommy's little pink opening. You keep asking to get into her. You've gone too far. By rights I should," she paused, "spank you."
"Oh, Mom, please."
Mom pressed her finger against my lips. "Sh," she said, "I can't think why I haven't thrashed you already."

Most guys lust after their Mommies. Some Mommies lust after their boys. With Mom and me, it was mutual. Mommy's pussy was beautiful: surmounted by her flat stomach and supported by her long, straight legs, the pussy was hairless, pink, intriguing and inviting. Mom was expert at keeping her pussy on my mind. She would sit with her skirt raised, walk around the house in a short tee shirt and nothing else. or drive me down town wearing a skirt so short that the crotch of her gloss nylon pantyhose was fully uncovered. "I don't expect you to be faithful to me," she had said several times, "but I know you'll be the devoted slave of my little friend Miss Kitty."

"Do you masturbate when you're not with me?" Mom asked gently. She had asked the same question many times. She asked it because thinking about the answer aroused both of us.
"If I'm alone," I said, "I need to play with my dick if you're not there to play with it."
"I masturbate frantically when I'm not with you," said Mom, fingering me. "I love lying alone in bed, knowing you're desperate to push my panties to the side and put this special tool into the little opening that was made for it."
"I think about that opening all the time," I said to her, not exaggerating much.
"So did your dad," said Mom, "he would do anything just to be allowed to look."

Mom knew how much I needed her little trick again. She was lying close beside me. She curled her fingers around my dick and immediately I felt myself pumping hard. There was not so much milk this time but my heart raced and I felt my face turn a deep red.

Mom kissed me and stroked my hair. "I'll sleep with you," she said, "no sex."
"I'd love that," I said. I put my arm around her waist and held her close.

We slept for a while. The phone in the hallway rang just after midday and woke both of us. Mom clambered over me and went to answer it. I could hear her end of the conversation. "Monica Corsaire," she said, "Hello," and then "Yes, this is Sam Corsaire's out of hours number. Who's calling? … Yes, hold on."

I went to the phone naked. "Sam Corsaire, private investigator."
"This is Trina," said the voice. A woman's voice, younger than me, frothy and sweet.
"From last night," said Trina, "remember me? I rang your office number but you weren't there."
"How could I forget?"
"Is Monica your mom?" asked Trina.
"Is she good in bed?"
"Perfect. Gorgeous. Hey," I asked, "how did you know?"
"You just seem the type. You go to Sandy to find a woman, maybe a guy too. So you haven't got a girlfriend. So, why waste a perfectly good woman if she lives in the same house as you and makes out with you? Anyway, Sam, this isn't just a social call," says Trina, "I have a problem you can help with."
"If you have an itch between the legs, I don't charge for fixing that."
"Oh, I have, Sam, believe me I need it fixed. But I want you to find my husband."
"You have a husband?" I was astonished that a married woman would need to hang out on Sandy to get some guys and some hard penetration. "Why were you on Sandy? Does the husband not fuck you hard enough?"
"You have a wife, don't you?" said Trina.
"I had one. She is in Cincinatti now."
"Well, Mr Investigator, I had a husband. Had. He went missing in the night. When I got home in the morning after my night on Sandy Island, all his things were missing from the house."
"I'll be right over."
"4010 Lincoln," she said, "I'll be waiting."
"I guess it'll take me half an hour to get there," I said, "and take your ring off. That skewer hurts."
"I might need it," she said, "after all, you never know who might come calling. Or what with me being married, you might just be reluctant to use your cock for my pleasure. Ethics, you know, morality."
"Morality?" I asked, "I don't know what you mean."
"I'm sure you don't," said Trina, "but just to make sure, I'll wear the ring and take my panties off. I'm using double strength Aphro so don't try to resist."
"It's more fun with the panties on," I said. Crotchless panties are the ultimate gift of God, I thought.
"4010 Lincoln," said Trina, "in thirty minutes." She put the phone down and so did I.

Mom was standing close to me in her yellow outfit. She looked at me with the mildest disapproval. "Aren't I enough for you?" she asked.
"In business, Mom," I told her, "you should never get a service from the same source every time. What would I do if you didn't want to make love to me, and I didn't have any other jennies?"
"And these other jennies are eighteen years old and look good in schoolwear?"
"Mom," I said, "I go for experienced women. One day I will drop in at Grannies Bar."
"And these eighteen year olds all have skewers," Mom observed, "so they can have you any time."
"Which they need because they're not as attractive as experienced women," I said, "a lifetime of experience trumps a six inch pleated plaid skirt any day of the week."
"You're beyond belief," said Mom, "but if you've finished getting hand relief here, you're welcome at Grannies. Give me a phone call when you're coming and we'll all strip off." She meant it. "Fancy eight naked old women all groping you at the same time?"
"I will," I said.

Chapter Three

The only reason I drive a Cadillac is that Elvis Presley has one and he is one hell of a car salesman. The roads were empty. I was at Katrina's door in half an hour. The address was a tall apartment block with glass doors and, inside them, a small entrance lobby. The lobby was dark with oak walls and a dark brown parquet floor. There were doors at the back of the lobby which led to a staircase and an elevator.

The elevator had no call button. Where you expected the call button to be, there was a keyhole for the residents and for the rest of the world, a phone screwed to the wall. If you didn't have a key to the elevator then you had to call the apartment and the tenant could send the elevator to you, if they liked you. I called Katrina's apartment to ask for an audience.

"Glad you could make it," she purred.
"So 'm I," I replied.
"I hope you're ready for some hard work," she added.

The elevator arrived with a clunk and the door opened.

Katrina's apartment was of the design without a hallway. You went up in the elevator and stepped straight out into the lounge. The lounge was beautifully furnished. Katrina was stretched out on a massive red leather couch wearing a tiny, tight mauve bikini which didn't even try to cover her curves. Apart from the bikini she was wearing only pink stiletto pumps and a pink patent leather collar tight around her neck. Easy on the eye at any time, in her present pose she was irresistible. Anyone would fuck this jennie if she asked. It was hard to believe this lady needed to take the ferry to Sandy and use the skewer to get some good sex.

"Do you like my outfit?" she said, as I realised I had been staring at her body with my mouth open.
"Katrina, I adore you and I adore your choice of attire," I said to her, "it's a pleasure to see you again."
"Sam," she said, "I've been longing to see you too. Come on and sit beside me."

Katrina patted the couch and smiled at me.

"Is this a social call?" I asked her.
"Strictly business." Katrina put her arm around my waist and pulled herself into a sitting position. "Here's the agenda for the rest of the day. First I give you a job. Then I take off my panties and you fuck me hard. Then you do the job and after that you come back and fuck me hard again."
"With your panties off."
"You can keep the panties," said Katrina, "I know you like them."
"I am their devoted slave. How about if I fuck you in between starting the job and finishing it?"
"That's fine," said Katrina, "as long as you fuck me before you start and again as soon as you finish, my pussy is yours any time you want it. I have special panties that don't get in the way. Crotchless panties," she said, relishing each word, "pink with white lace edging. They don't," she continued in a slow stage whisper, "hide anything."
"Sounds good to me," I said. "What do you want me to do for you?"
"You could start by loosening my bikini top. It's uncomfortable, because it's so very tight."
"I mean, what do you want a private investigator to do for you?" I promised myself that I wouldn't forget to remedy her uncomfortable bikini top but I didn't want to get physical just yet. "I charge twenty five dollars a day plus expenses."
"I accept, Sam," she said, "find me a boyfriend."
"Is that the job?" I checked.
"Yes. I want you to find me a boyfriend."
"Any particular boyfriend?" I asked. "I mean, did you lose one?"
"No," she said, "any boyfriend as long as he's my type."
"Shouldn't be difficult to find a boyfriend for a girl like you," I said. "What was wrong with Edge?"
"Nothing," Katrina pouted, "but I like my men young, tall and black, with big cocks. Edge just was not black enough. Mark you, I'll see him again."
"Anything else you want in a boyfriend?" I asked, "like hair colour, zodiac sign, college degree?"
"No, not really. Young, tall, black, and a big cock. It's nice if he's clean and he can string a sentence together but the important things are the skin colour and the cock. He must have a big cock." Katrina paused and stroked her lower lip with her straight index finger, showing off the nail varnish. "Make that a very big cock."

I carry a notebook and pencil when I visit clients but I thought in this case I'd probably remember all the important detail.

"What about faithfulness, generosity, wealth, employment status, health, height, weight, education and appearance?"
Katrina giggled. "I'll take my chances."
"Any deadline?" I asked.
"As long as it takes," she said, "just find him and bring him here."
"If you're away from home when I bring him, shall I handcuff him to the bed?"
"Yes," said Katrina, "with his pants round his ankles. I want to see everything he has to offer."
"Of course," I told her, "I'll take the case. I reckon I might finish today."
"Don't rush," said Katrina, "in case I marry the boyfriend and then a more massive cock comes along."
"I'll make sure to take a tape measure," I said.
"You know, Sam, I would really prefer you to take his clothes off when you bring him here."
"How about dressing him in pretty panties?" I asked, guessing her feminine predilections, "and a matching lacy brassiere?"
"Oh, now, that would be nice. A black guy with a big cock in bra and panties, all to myself, to have and to hold for ever. Find that, bring it here and you are a rich man, Corsair."

It sounded like easy money. I began lining up places in my head where young black men with big cocks — correction, with very big cocks — might be found.

This was the point in the client interview when I usually asked for a photograph of the quarry.

"Got any pictures of your ideal boyfriend?" I asked, "I mean, someone you hope he looks like?"
"Any of these guys," said Katrina.

Katrina tossed me a magazine, Black Males. I opened it and found pictures of one lean, strong Black guy after another wearing tiny thong panties or nothing at all.

"They're gorgeous," I said, "this must be your bedtime reading."
"Sure is," she said, "have a look at Jonah."
"Which one is he?"
"He's the centrefold."

Sure enough, the centrefold Jonah was young, maybe twenty, with a sweet smile, hard muscles, skin as black as coal and a dick a foot long and hard as steel. His bio said he was a truck mechanic from Topeka and an amateur boxer. There were a couple of pictures of Jonah in a gas station wearing oily overalls, then a picture of him wearing Speedos on a palm beach. In another picture he was in the boxing ring wearing boxing gloves and orange trunks which had slipped dangerously low. And on the centre pages, Jonah was lying naked on a sheepskin rug in front of a warm coal fire and looking very strong, very pleased to see Katrina and very aroused.

"Imagine kissing him," I said.
"Imagine kissing that," said Katrina.
"You'd choke on it," I said.
"Willingly," she nodded. "He would force it down my throat. I wouldn't resist. I would gag on it. So, Sam, is it a deal?"
"I'll find you a boyfriend you'll love," I said, and I added, "Do you mind if I keep the magazine?"
"Sure," said Katrina, "I know you need a bit more excitement in your life than your Mommy gives you."

Damn it, I thought, I must've said more than I intended to when we were kicking together on Sandy.

"How did you know about me and her?" I asked.
"I didn't. I just guessed. You look the type. Don't worry," said Katrina, "I won't tell a soul. Mom always puts a horn on men your age. You must tell me about her."
"Well, for one thing her brassiere fits better than yours."
"Does she … do it with you?"
"She does the whole thing with me," I said, "and she does it perfectly."
"You know, Sam," sighed Katrina, "this tight bikini top is suddenly unbearable."
"My Mom has the same problem," I said, "and she taught me how to adjust a brassiere and make it more comfortable."

I put my arms around Katrina, reached for the clip at the back of her bikini top and slipped it open. It fell onto the carpet. Katrina's breasts were an inch or so from my face, and I kissed her nipples as gently as I could. She leaned her head back as the pleasure went through her.

She kissed my mouth. I felt her tongue exploring. "You can take my bikini pants off, if you like," she offered. I slid my thumbs into the waistband, she raised her hips, and I pushed the bikini bottom down to her ankles and lifted it away.

Katrina was completely bare now. We kissed again and I held her close. I felt truly at peace as she held me.

"Tell me something," Katrina began, "does your Mom spank you?"
"Yes," I said, "why do you ask?"
"Do you like being spanked? Humiliated?"
"I can tell your boyfriend is going to have a sore ass and a great time," I said.
"Don't answer back," said Katrina. She picked up a polished black leather belt that was lying on a coffee table near the sofa. "Bend over."
"That looks painful," I said.
"It is," said Katrina, flexing the belt in her hands. "Bend over, pants down."

I stood beside the coffee table and bent forwards, putting the palms of my hands flat on the table top. Katrina put her hands into my waistband and uncovered my bottom. She stood a couple of feet away from me and raised the heavy belt.

Whack! She brought the belt down onto my bare skin with tremendous force. I gasped. "That hurt," I said.
"Good," she said, and she lifted the belt again and whacked me again.
This time I squealed out loud. "Christ!" I said.
"Stay bent over," Katrina ordered, and Whack! the belt smashed into my backside again.
"You're a naughty boy," she said.
"Good," I said, "I wouldn't want you to be taking the skin off the buttocks of an innocent man— Ooow!"
"Silence," Katrina said, slightly louder than necessary, and she gave my bottom another severe smack with the belt.
Ow! You spank a lot harder than my M— Ohh, aargh!"
"Now don't be so naughty. Stand up."

I reached down to pull up my briefs. "No!" called Katrina, "take your pants right off."

"Do not think," said Katrina as she replaced the belt on the coffee table, "that the rest of your visit will be pain free. Is your bum sore?"
"Yes," I said, truthfully.
"Tell me how much it hurts."
"It is throbbing and burning. I feel as though I had been sitting in a bucket of hot coals."
"Good," said Katrina, "I like to feel that a naughty boy has learned some humility and obedience. Now, I have a treatment for your sore bum," said Katrina.

Katrina stood close to me and closed her hand around my cock. The cock was limp but stiffened as she stroked it and tickled it.

"Is your backside feeling better yet?" she asked.
"Not yet," I said, "so don't stop treating me yet."

Katrina held my cock and moved her hand slowly along the shaft, firstly towards the base, then back towards the tip. "I have an English school cane," she said, "quarter inch thick rattan, two feet six inches long, and intended to make big naughty boys scream with pain."
"I suppose you're going to use it on me," I said.
"Not yet," said Katrina, "but don't forget that it's there. There's a penalty clause in your contract. If you don't come up with the goods, I cane your ass."
"How long have I got?"
"Three days," she said.
"That doesn't sound difficult. There are hundreds of Black men who would give their eye teeth for a date with you. Let alone a lifetime of love making."
"Just remember what happens to naughty boys," she said, shaking her head.

"I think you'd best go to a photographer and get a couple of pictures so that I can show the candidates what he's standing in line for."
"I'm sure you have someone in mind," she said. Her hand relaxed and her fingers trailed gently along the cock, filling me with desire.
"Tony Dash," I said, "I'll have him phone you if that's OK."
"I look forward to meeting him," said Katrina.
"He is going to love you," I said with certainty.
"Want to make love before you go back home to Mommy?" Katrina asked unnecessarily.

Katrina lay on her couch again and pulled me onto her. I slipped into her easily. She gasped. I felt a rush of pleasure.

"I bet you can't hold back," she breathed.
"I can't," I said, "you do a first rate cock tease."

Katrina held me close against her and I unloaded instantly. She gasped loudly, "Gosh, you needed that."
"Yeah," I said, "yeah, I did."
"Is your backside better now?"
"Yeah," I said, "it is."
"See, I told you," Katrina smirked.

I took a shower, dressed again, kissed Katrina and took the elevator back down to the Cadillac. Sat in the driving seat I leafed through Black Males paying particular attention to Jonas, then to Noah, Padova, Mithras, all powerful, slender and with fictitious names and cocks like extruded steel rods. I looked up. Katrina was watching me. I waved, put the magazine on the passenger seat and set off home.

Out of sight of her window, I turned into Linden Street and pulled up at a burger joint. The sign painted over the windows read, "The Big Eat." A pretty waitress bid me a good evening and I told her, "I'll buy a coffee and one of your burgers if I can use your phone."
"Phone's over there," she said, pointing to a coinbox phone in one corner of the café, "and how do you fancy a quarter pounder with tomato, gherkins and ketchup?"
"Not as much as I fancy you," I said.
"Twenty five cents," she said, ignoring my compliment, "and my name's Lara." Lara had Latin looks. She was small and dark, with caramel coloured skin and deep brown eyes. She was eighteen or nineteen years old and hugely cute, her best features stretching the tape to at least 36D. I gave her half a dollar and waved her to keep the change.
I phoned Tony Dash and said sorry I was calling so late. "Tony," I said to him, "you're used to photographing crime scenes, dead bodies and crooks hanging around street corners on a stake out. Strikes me that's a pretty miserable way to make a living."
"Is that the Careers Advice Service?" he asked.
"Yeah, I got a job for you," I said, "making a house call."
What are you up to, Corsair?" Tony growled, as he had every right to do this time of an evening.
"I was just thinking… Would you like to branch out into a new and exciting line of business?"
Tony had no idea what I meant. "I need some sexy pictures of a pretty girl," I said, "and you get paid. Wait until a civilised time of day, go to 4010 Lincoln," I paused long enough for him to write it down, "ask for Katrina Aquitaine and take as many pictures as she allows."
"Katrina Aquitaine? Never heard of her," he told me, "paid how much?"
"Ten dollars. I'm paying. She's expecting you. Make Katrina look as attractive as possible in the photographs and if that means she has to take her clothes off, you'll just have to grit your teeth and put up with it."

I hung up the phone and Lara brought the burger and coffee over. "Did you mean that bit about fancying me?" she said, brushing her long black hair out of her eyes.
"Absolutely," I said, taking a bite out of my hamburger, "the mere sight of you fills me with desire."
Lara's smile never flickered. "You're Sam Corsair, aren't you?" she said, "I've seen you in the newspaper. That big lawsuit, who was it? Huckley?"

That was in the days when I had a career instead of spending my days earning a living.

"Sh!" I put my finger to my lips and whispered, "I don't want these guys, all four of 'em, surrounding me and demanding my autograph with menaces."
"I finish at two a. m.," she said. "Is that your Cadillac parked outside?"
"It sure is," I said, "and the guy in the lawsuit was Tarsus Hinckley."
"You sure annihilated Huckley. I felt quite sorry for him," she giggled, "shame about the jury."
"They need their heads examined, all of them. Hinckley was a crook," I said, as though that excused everything.
"All is fair in love, war and courtrooms," quoth Lara, adding, "I ain't ever been for a ride in a Cadillac."
"I'll give you a ride home," I said, "I hope it's a long way."
"I'd like that," she nodded. "I can tell my friends I've been screwed by Sam Corsair."

A milf on the other side of the café called out "Lara!" and Lara excused herself and walked over to her. Lara looked at the clock on the wall. It showed ten minutes to two. Lara looked at me and held up ten fingers. I nodded. I could certainly wait for her.

Lara went into the kitchen for a moment, came out again, came over to me and dropped a pair of orange panties on the table, just beside my plate.

"These yours?" I asked.
"Yes," she said. "Do you like them?"
"They were covering something up," I said, "and later tonight we'll find out what it is."

Ten minutes later the café was empty apart from Lara and me. I pulled my coat around me, left the diner and sat behind the wheel of the car. A few seconds later, Lara arrived and sat in the front seat. She fumbled for a moment and found Black Males, which I'd left on the seat and forgotten about.

"You're not… are you?" she asked.
Well, actually, I did find the pictures arousing, but it seemed better not to admit to it. "I'm trying to trace Jonas," I said, "the centrefold."

Lara opened the magazine at the centre spread and gasped. "He's gorgeous!"
"I know a lady who wants to speak to him," I said.
"You know two," said Lara.
"Why, do you recognise him? Know where he is?"
"Uh uh," she said, shaking her head. "Never seen him. But I'd very much like to."

There was silence for a second or two. A vast truck roared past us as we sat together.

"Where are we going?" I asked her.
"200 Hindland Boulevard," she said. "Is it OK with you if I take my skirt off?"
"Yeah," I said, trying to sound casual, "I don't mind at all."

Lara unclipped her skirt at the side and slipped it off. Her legs were bare and her panties were already in my jacket pocket. "I'm a bit cold," she told me, "you may have to turn the heating on."
"Believe me," I said, "I have other ways to keep you warm, what with the need to economise on gasoline."

I started the car and drove off in the direction of where I thought Hindland Boulevard was.

"Won't we go through Rockland Park on the way to Hindland?" I asked.
"Sure," she said, keenly. "We can get to know each other on the back seat among the trees." She reached across and rested her hand on the front of my pants. She could feel my cock straightening, and she added, "if you can wait that long."
"Does your shirt come off?" I asked.
"Sure. And the brassiere too. Wanna see?"
"You bet," I said.

Lara wriggled and unclipped and unbuttoned her clothing until she was quite naked. The road was generally dark but the headlights of the occasional trucks coming towards us lit up her beautiful body. I could hear their drivers calling "Lookey" and "Wow" as they reached for their c. b. radios. Lara's hand was exploring more intimately now, stroking the shaft, teasing the tip, strengthening my desire.

"Head up a side street," she said, "I need to make out."

We parked and arranged ourselves on the back seat. Lying beside her, I was able to appreciate Lara's youth and beauty to the full. I was seized by the thought that maybe she was as young and as naïve as she looked: as though she had just shimmied out of her school clothes or her Girl Scout uniform.

"Tell me," I said, "which year were you born?"
"1935. The sixth of June, in case you want to buy me a birthday present."
"Have you done this before?"

It seemed a sensible question but Lara only nodded and giggled. I guessed it would have been inadvisable to ask "With whom?" so I left it there and said lamely, "Sorry, Lara, but I had to ask."
"’Course, Sam," she purred, "and there's nothing to worry about unless your wife turns up and wants a lift home."
"I don't think that's very likely," I said, "and if she does I'll tell her I rescued you from an alien abduction."
"And she will believe you?" Lara asked.
"No," I said, "no chance."
"So do whatever you want with me," she said, "like tell me to lie face down and kneel so as to lift my ass six inches."
"Is that your favourite position?"
"I think it's probably yours, isn't it?"
"You have remarkable insight," I said.
"I've seen you watching schoolgirls. And by the way, you have all your clothes on," she replied.

In the confined space of the back seat of the Cadillac I struggled to get my clothes off as she lay on the back seat of the car, buttocks lifted and ready for rear penetration. Naked and trying to avoid trampling the heap of clothes that lay on the floor, I sat near her feet and stroked the centre line of her beautiful bottom. I had a little tube of gelatine in my jacket pocket. Getting hold of it would break the spell but without it I couldn't have sex in this position. I fumbled for my jacket.

"What are you doing?" Lara asked, in a perfectly friendly way.
"I need my wallet," I said.
"Are you suggesting…"
"Not at all," I said, "but some gelatine might be helpful."
"You carry gelatine?" Lara was incredulous. "You mean you have it with you all the time, just in case a lady gives you permission to fuck her up the bum?"
"I go scouting for talent on Sandy," I said, "so I have need of it."
"That's me put in my place, then," Lara sighed, "I'm just the latest among many. Go on, then, I still want you to do it."
"The women who go to Sandy are all sex starved grannies. You understand, I'm desperate."
"Gee. Thank you for sharing."

Thank the Lord, the second garment I found while fishing in the pile was my tweed jacket. In the inside pocket was the metal tube. I rubbed the gelatine onto my cock and then slipped some between Lara's delightful ass cheeks.

"Oh!" She squealed, a bit startled. "That's cold."
"Keep still for a little while and keep your gorgeous bum raised."

Lara expertly moved her ass hole to the exact spot where I wanted it to be. I pushed my cock against the small opening and I felt the grease working, letting my cock sink slowly into Lara's perfect cleft. I felt her muscles pressing against the base of my cock and she knew I had pushed it all the way inside.

"What does that feel like?" she asked.
"Paradise," I said, "it's the most intense pleasure you can give me."
"I'll give that some thought," said Lara, "just in case. Oh!," she cried as I gave a little push deeper. The pleasure was rising in my cock. "Push it in again, OH!" The base of my cock was pushing hard against the curves of her bum."OOH! Oh, my God, that feels so good."

"Do you like crotchless panties?" Lara asked, suddenly perky, adding "Wow!" as I thrust my hips and pushed the cock a fraction of an inch deeper.
"I don't wear them often," I said.
"I have a pair made of sheer lace, so you oh! can see that I've removed my pubic hair. There are neat openings in the front and at the rear so ouch! you can fuck me either side up while I'm wearing Christ! Harder! them."

Her description was exciting me further. She wouldn't have long to wait.

"I could wear my crotchless panties under a short skirt wow! so you could take me into the kitchen fuck me up against the oh my God! wall…!"
"You like spontaneity?" I asked.
"I like lots of sex," she said — which meant yes.

I pushed my mouth against hers and kissed her hard. I felt my prostate squeeze out its liquid. Lara pressed her bottom against me as her orgasm hit her. She cried out and needed a few deep breaths before the power of speech returned.

"Wow," she said, "you are good at that. You're my first up the bum. How was I?"
"Full marks," I said, "your certificate will be in the post."
"A level," I said. Lara looked nonplussed so I added, "English school joke."
"Did you ever fuck an English girl?"
"No," I said.
"They just lie still and don't say anything," she told me, "or so my comic books tell me. Whereas I feel thoroughly fucked. Hot, throbbing, breathless and deeply happy."

I got out of the back of the car and sat back into the driving seat again.

I looked at my watch and spoke to Lara over my shoulder. "It's about five o'clock. Do you want a ride home?"
"You have to go back to your Mom?"
"’Fraid so," I said, "will I see you again?"
"Try the Big Eat any time you're desperate. Christ, my ass hurts."

"By the way," I said, "if you wanted to find my slim, strong and superbly endowed Black friend Jonas, where would you look first?"
"I'd go to the Black Shorts Bar," she said without hesitation, "on Linden Street."
"Why there?"
"Because the Black Shorts Bar has male strippers. They're our next door neighbours but two."

I gave Lara my phone number and I said, "If Jonas comes into your café, keep him talking and give me a call. OK?"
"OK," Lara said conspiratorially. "By the way, you've given me a hell of a sore bum. I get pains in my seat any time I stand up. I hope you're pleased."
"I am," I said.
"So am I," Lara smiled. "Can't wait for next time."

Lara came back to the front passenger seat and made herself comfortable. I turned the ignition and we headed off to Hindland Boulevard. I was already musing on the pleasures of our next meeting. Would she really put on her shortest skirt and her crotchless panties?

Chapter Four

I drove south down New Monmouth Road. We were maybe three miles from Lara's house on Hindland. Lara was still sat beside me and fondling me, wearing her skirt high to show off her perfect, straight and long legs. I put my right arm around her shoulder and steered with my left. I leaned towards her.

At the junction I turned the car to the left onto Kings. All hell broke loose.

The first thing I realised after I stamped on the brake was that I'd mounted the sidewalk and hit a line of three trash cans, maybe four. The clattering noise went on for ever. I checked myself and I seemed to be still in one piece. The impact had thrown Lara forward and she had grazes on her face, but nothing seemed to be broken except a mirror and some china plates that had spilled out of a fallen trash can.

"What the fuck?" Lara gasped, barely awake.
"I hit some stuff," I said, trying to sound as though I hadn't been driving while exhausted and only using one hand. "Nothing to worry about," I added. Turned out, I was wrong about that last bit. "You got all your teeth?"
"I hurt all over my face," said Lara, "but my teeth are all there."
"That's good," I said, "’cause you can never get a dentist who does house calls at two a. m. in this sort of run down neighbourhood."
"Does the Cadillac still work?"
"I like your sense of priorities," I said, "but I wouldn't bet the ranch on it."

The best idea I could think of was to get away from the spilled garbage and get Lara home. I turned the ignition key. The engine made a brief noise but then it didn't start. I tried again a couple of times, but the engine had definitely lost to the trash cans by a knockout. After all, there were three of them but only one engine. Maybe four. We were going nowhere.

"Hey, you!" A head with a Bronx accent poked out of a window above us.
I looked up at it. It was a male head and it did not seem pleased to see me.
"Shut the fuck up," it went on.
"Sir, would you mind calling the police?" I asked. "My friend here—"
"I already did. Now shut the fuck up." The head slammed the window shut.

I climbed back into the car with Lara. "We're stuck for the moment," I told her.

Lara was asleep. I lit a Marlboro and drew on it. I hoped that the police weren't too busy. A broken down Cadillac on Kings would be near the bottom of their list. I imagined the station sergeant addressing the constables at morning parade saying, "We got a hell of a job to do today. Reported drug dealers, burglaries, two fatal stabbings, criminal damage to the school, guy with a gun seen approaching the frozen chicken factory, a suspected murderer skipped bail and worst of all, there's a broken down Cadillac blocking the sidewalk outside the Chinese laundry on Monmouth and Kings." Hubbub broke out in the parade room and the sergeant pointed at a senior officer and went on, close to shouting, "You, put off testifying to the Supreme Court and get onto it, on the double. I don't want any broken down Cadillacs making the streets look untidy on my watch…"

I must have dozed off. There was a shout, a girl's voice, outside the car. The station sergeant disappeared like vapour. I was still in the car, sitting with Lara, cold, and looking at three knocked over trash cans on Kings in the middle of the night.

Who had shouted? I saw three kids, late teens, two girls, one boy, trying to hide behind the trash cans and advance on the car. What were they up to? I guessed they were chancing it as hi-jackers. I looked over my shoulder and I realised the back doors were unlocked. If the kids tried the doors, the doors would open and the kids would be in the car with us. This could turn nasty. I couldn't reverse away from them, because the engine was still out for the count. Suppose they had knives, or guns? Anything was possible. Well, any gun can shoot through a car door. I looked up and down the street and all three kids were behind the trash cans and not close enough to get hold of the doors. Not yet, anyway. I couldn't see any guns.

There was a girl crouching, not moving, at one end of the row of trash cans and at the other the boy. The second girl was beyond him and walking towards the car, holding the boy's hand. She turned, put her arms around the boy and kissed him on the mouth. Her friend had something in her hand. She took a couple of silent steps towards the boy and then swung her hand at his crotch. I heard him squeal with shock and then I saw his erection swell up until I thought his shorts would tear along the seams.

So that's what the kids were up to. An ambush, yes, but directed at their local matinee idol and not against Lara or me. The girls, one of them at least, had a skewer and enough aphro to inject a boy. With what looked like practised ease, one girl pushed his shorts and briefs down while her friend grabbed the swollen cock and squeezed it hard. "You're going to come to our house and get it into both of us," she said, "or you get a shot of something else."
Her girl playmate burst out laughing. "Yeah, a big shot."

The girls ran off along a side street dragging the boy along behind them. He was trying to keep up with the girls and hold onto his shorts and briefs at the same time. I was staring after them when I heard the patrolman asking, "Where'd they run to?"

It was Reilly. I knew him. I had known him for years. Street cop, salt of the earth, a good man who knew an unsafe street when he saw one and could make it safe by looking at it. His face filled the off side window.

"I don't know," I said, turning towards him, "a birthday party, or a sleep over, maybe. Or just three kids camping in a squat. Down there." I pointed along the side street, The kids could be seen running through an open door. The light from the open door lit the sidewalk and a parked car. For an instant I could see the three kids as the light shone on them for a second. "Have any missing kids been reported?" I asked, as the door swung closed and left the street in darkness.
"No. They're all tucked up in bed."
"With each other, mostly," I said.
Reilly ignored my quip. "You ain't never seen them before?"
"No, officer," I said, "I don't visit these parts much."
"I don't blame you. Anyway, they're just kids," he said, "not wanted for anything."
"Well, they damned well ought to be," I protested, "'cause those kids just committed a serious assault."
"Bah. He enjoyed it." Perhaps Reilly was unfamiliar with aphro, I thought.
"Enjoyed it?" For an instant I was staggered. "Have you ever been dosed with that stuff? It's like having your cock burned off with a blowtorch."
"Who's the girl?" Reilly asked, gesturing at Lara.

Lara was naked from the waist down. She looked very fetching.

"What age are you, ma'am?" said the officer, addressing Lara.
"Nineteen," she said.
"I'm taking her home from the burger bar where she works," I said, "she's a friend."
Reilly muttered, "Yeah. She just got in the car with you and then her clothes fell off," without looking at me. He asked Lara, "Date of birth?"
"Nineteen thirty six," she said, seeming not in the least embarrassed, "the twentieth of February. Want to see I. D.?"
"Officer," I asked, "is there any chance you could take Lara home to Hindland? Because this car isn't going anywhere."
"Are you kidding, Corsair? Do I look like I drive a taxi? I got burglars and drug pedlars and murderers to catch."
"Yes, and nineteen year old girls to keep safe."
"Only 'cause of you," Reilly growled.
"Her Mom worries herself sick about her," I said, guessing, "and it's only five minutes away. Lara's usually home by now."
"I'll do it, but only because she's pretty," he said, "and by the way, Corsair, if I ever catch you driving and snoring at the same time, I'll throw the book at you."
"Make it the Cadillac Repairs Manual," I said.

Lara covered up, took her clothes from the floor of the car, and crossed the street to the police car. Reilly drove off with her, leaving me, the spilt garbage, the trash cans lying around and the broken down Cadillac, all in the warmth and quiet of the city night.

"Corsair," Reilly called across to me, "why did you do it?"
"I just turned the corner and I hit the damned things."
"Not the trash cans," he said, "Hinckley. You knew you couldn't beat him."
"A brute in a suit. So I over-reached myself."
"You'd still be on the force today if you'd seen the obvious," he said.
"Yeah." It was true. "Look after Lara," I said, and I waved him off with what was supposed to look like insouciance. Reilly's patrol car headed off towards Hindland.

I paused to think. You win some, you lose some. I wound the window down and lit another cigarette, reckoning that I had earned it. That was when I heard the unmistakable squalling of those two teenage girls wafting through the silence. They sounded maybe a hundred yards away, although on these streets that's a lot of apartments. Wherever they had taken the boy, the girls were now having a whale of a time in a room a couple of storeys off the ground and with the window open. I left the car and wandered down the side street — Jute Street — to the place where, I thought, they had opened a door and run inside. It was warm. I walked slowly, drawing on the cigarette and going over what I had seen. My brief was to find a man for Katrina, not to act as unpaid bodyguard for three children, but I had two children of my own and any man seeing three unaccompanied teenagers running down a street unsupervised at three in the morning, I wanted to check that they were safe somewhere.

You never know: maybe the kids were making love with the lights on. The street was silent apart from the rumble of trucks on the freeway and a distant freight train. There were no lights in any of the windows, no squeals of fun and games, no movement that I could see.

Standing on Jute Street a hundred yards or so from the Cadillac, I ran through what had happened. The girls had skewered the boy and dragged him along this street. They had not spent time fumbling for a key or ringing a doorbell: they had run straight into the building. They must have pushed the door open, which meant the door did not lead into a main door, ground floor flat. And I had heard them squealing or laughing from an upper floor, so the door had to be one of those that give onto a hallway with stairs, maybe an elevator. As they opened the door, I remembered suddenly, the light had fallen onto a car parked at the kerb. I had seen the light reflected off the unmistakable bodywork of a red Buick Skylark. And there it was: I could see a red Buick Skylark parked outside the heavy brown wooden door. It was the middle door of a group of three doors close together. The left and the right doors led into ground floor flats, while the middle door gave straight onto a staircase.

I looked up at the windows of the second and third storey. There was only one open window, to the right of the stairwell and on the third storey. I could hear no noise issuing from the window now, but I thought, what the hell, you don't lock up the bad guys without sometimes playing your hunch.

I pushed the door. It opened, and directly behind it a flight of stairs led up to the second storey. The landing went past two apartment doors. There was another flight of stairs and two more doors. Behind the second door mst be the room with the open window, overlooking Jute Street and the red Skylark.

I fumbled for my I. D. and wished that the photograph looked more like me than it did. Then I knocked hard and I shouted loudly enough to be heard inside the apartment, "Sam Corsair. Private Investigator. Are you kids OK?"

I heard movement. Someone, maybe more than one, was walking towards the door. I was nervous. In this business, at three in the morning when you're on someone else's property without a damned good reason, unarmed equals nervous. I was so unarmed that I was sweating.

There was a squeak of a lock being unlatched, and the door opened. The three kids stared at me. Two girls in short dresses and a boy wearing a tee and nothing else at all. Their breath smelled like a distillery.

"You all right?" I said. "What are you doing here?" Talk about dumb questions.
"We're fine."
"Who are you? I saw you two girls skewering this boy just down the street…"

A middle aged woman in a maroon bathrobe came to the door and shooed the kids back into the room.

"As they said, they're fine," she said, coldly.
"Sam Corsair, private investigator," I said, holding my I. D. up for a second. "The girls assaulted the boy and they ran up here."
"Does your client expect a full report on his desk by eight thirty?" she asked me.
"I was concerned to make sure they were in a place of safety."
"Well," said the woman, not warming to me in the least, "they are."
"Are you their mother?" I asked.
"Do I look like their mother?" she said, and then she saved me the trouble of telling her that obviously I couldn't tell because I didn't know what their mother looked like by continuing, "I am Penelope Farthing, their art teacher."
"Pleased to meet you, ma'am," I said, not entirely truthfully. "How old are the kids?"
"Twelfth grade," she said, which meant eighteen years old, "and before you ask, I took them to the women's liberation meeting and they stayed for the after action review and drinks party."
"You sure it's wise to let them drink alcohol?" I asked.
"No, I'm not," she said, "but it's legal and it's less bother than trying to stop them."
She pulled the door wider open and I noticed that the phone was not on the hook. The receiver lay on a coffee table beside a couple of pieces of paper and a pencil. Penelope waved towards the coffee table. "Mr Corsair," she said in the tone of voice that means the interview is coming to an end, "as you can see I was making a phone call when you arrived, and I would quite like to continue it."
"Yeah," I said, "those long distance calls cost a fortune."
She picked up a business card from the coffee table. "Here," she said, "if you need to continue this conversation, call me."
"Thanks for talking to me, but there's just one more thing. Did you know the girls have aphro?"
"It's not illegal," Penelope informed me.
"They assaulted the little boy."
"I'm sure," Penelope sighed, "they're making it up to him as we speak."

From somewhere in the apartment I heard the sound of an eighteen year old boy gasping loudly as his orgasm went through him.

"Goodnight," I said. "Try not to wake the neighbours."

Penelope closed the door and I started walking down the stairs to the street door. As I was walking towards it, the street door opened and a young lady came in and walked up the stairs a little more quickly than necessary. She looked like an office worker, complete with scarf, handbag, seamed stockings and heels. I saw her climb two flights of steps and go down the landing to Penelope Farthing's door, where she stopped and knocked quietly.

Out of curiosity I stopped just inside the street door and listened. The office worker spoke first. Her speech was indistinct, and I couldn't make out what she was saying. Penelope's voice was higher pitched, louder and clearer. "Yes," she said, "fifty cents." The office worker said something else. There was a pause for a few seconds and then Penelope spoke again. "Four ampoules. Two dollars." There were goodnights, and what might have been an apology for calling round at that time of night.

I walked onto the street, making sure the door closed silently, and headed back towards the Cadillac. Who would have thought it? Mrs Penelope Farthing, art teacher and feminist stalwart, was moonlighting as an aphro salesman.

I had the car keys in my hand and I was resigned to sleeping in the car and then finding a garage that did repairs next day, but as luck would have it I saw a cab approaching. I flagged it down and slumped into the back seat with a grunt of, "2231 East 170th."

Twenty minutes later I was letting myself into Mom's apartment. I went and sat on her bed and she awoke.

"What time do you call this?" she asked me.
"I was at work, Mom," I said, although she knew that already, "chasing dreams."
"You work too late," she said, obviously going back to sleep, "I worry about you. Did you catch your dreams?"
"No, Mom," I said, shaking my head even though the apartment was dark and Mom couldn't see me, "it was someone else's dreams, and they all got away."
"What happened to the Cadillac?" she asked.
"I wrecked it on Kings, five miles away. How did you know something happened to it?"
"I didn't hear you drive up to the apartment in it."
"No wonder your son is a P. I.," I said, "you noticed that the dog did not bark. Anyway, I nailed an aphro pedlar."
"Nailed? Do you get paid for that?"
"Name, address, client, witnesses, so yeah, nailed. No, that wasn't what I was hired for. I was just sticking my nose where it didn't belong. So no, I won't get paid for it."
"Story of your life," said Mom, "so now get into bed and we'll enjoy the rest of the night."

I undressed, pushed my clothes into the laundry basket in the hallway and took a hot shower. Then I climbed into bed beside Mom and put my arms around her.

I felt taut, silky fabric arching across the small of her back. "It's the garter belt you gave me," she said.

I ran my hands over Mom's body and felt the entire outfit. It was glossy beige satin, tight and designed to excite. I gave it to Mom on Valentine's and she hadn't worn it until tonight, not for me anyway. I felt the panties, the garter belt, lace topped stockings, and a quarter cup brassiere that didn't cover much. I fell to licking and kissing her dark nipples.

Mom gasped, "Oh!" as she felt the pleasure radiate from her nipples. "That feels just so wonderful." I put the palm of my left hand onto her right breast and felt the nipple harden. "You can go on doing that," she urged me, "just don't bite."
"I won't," I said, "you might spank me."
"There's no might about it," she said, and then, "OH! That really does tingle. You are first rate in bed. I hope your girl friends appreciate you."
"I never asked them," I said.
"So tell me," Mom's hand found my cock, "who did you get into tonight?"
"My client, Karen, and my waitress at the Big Eat all night burger café, Lara. Well, I didn't actually get into Lara, but I might have done if I hadn't crashed the car."
"That must be so frustrating for you," said Mom, as she stroked and touched the tip to harden me, "missing a perfectly good opportunity like that."
"I'll go back and finish the assignment," I said.
"Not just yet," said Mom, running her fingers along the shaft, "I have needs too. You can do it with me as often as you want and then go back to pick her up again."

I held Mom close to me and kissed her lips, noticing that she was wearing thick lipstick. She knew that I loved lipstick. She pushed her tongue into my mouth and pulled me hard towards her, those skilful fingers drawing my dick towards her sweet opening. "How about getting into me?" she offered.

I hooked her panty to one side and I felt her down there. She was distinctly moist.

"You're excited," I said, stating the obvious.
"I've spent about six hours lying here and playing with myself while wearing new and expensive lingerie and waiting for you," she said, "so I've every right to be excited. And don't rush me. I know how desperate you are sometimes. Take it gently." Her hand took hold of my scrotum and pulled me towards her. She turned onto her back and lay with her legs apart. "I want to savour this one. If I don't orgasm then I'll spank you hard."

Mom meant it. I was quite turned on by the idea. I kissed her again, and as we kissed I explored her panty area very gently. She moved so that I could slip her panties off, and then I lay on top of her and slowly I slid my dick into her.

Mom put her hand onto the base of my dick and pushed me out of her. "Do that again," she said, "I liked it so much."

I slid it into her again. "Don't rush," she said, "just take it slowly." I felt the warmth of her body engulfing me, my erection becoming bigger and harder. Mother rocked her hips, lifting her legs so that I slid a little deeper into her. I kissed her again on the lips. She opened her mouth wide and gave me a long, wet kiss. Then I felt myself unloading into her. Mom moaned quietly. We had reached nirvana, something even we had rarely accomplished. We had reached simultaneous orgasms.

Chapter Five

After a couple of hours' sleep and a taxi ride across town, I was back on Kings and standing beside the broken down Cadillac. I was waiting for the breakdown truck that was going to carry the car to the repair shop. Looking at the sidewalk I realised that if I didn't move the trash cans now, I would have to move them when the truck arrived, and I would be paying for the breakdown crew's time. I stood the trash cans up, put the lids back, and heaved them into a line beside the nearest wall, where I seemed to remember they were standing before I hit them.

A man emerged from a street door nearby and called to me, "What are you looking for?"

It was the same man who, a few hours ago, had leaned out of the upstairs window and told me to stop making such a racket. I had a feeling that we were not about to become firm friends. "I'm clean out of money and clean out of cigarettes as well," I said, improvising hastily, "and people throw them away sometimes."
"Do people throw money away?" he asked, incredulous.
"Not money," I said, "cigarettes."
"You're looking in my trash for cigarettes?" he said, having finally latched on.
"You never know," I said, "people cough and wheeze, they swear to give up smoking, they have half a pack of cigarettes left not smoked, and they throw the pack into the trash with a cry of 'Never again!' It happens all the time."
"Fuck off," said the man, and he stamped off. I wondered whether he got on well with his office mates.

Then I looked down and I realised, of course, that if you hit a trash can with a Cadillac, a heap of rubbish falls out of the bins and onto the ground. The breakdown truck had still not turned up, so I had time to tidy the street a little more. I picked up as much paper and tin cans and cardboard boxes as I could carry in both hands and carted it back to the bins. Just before chucking it away, I looked at it and I realised something. There were envelopes addressed to Miss P Farthing. Two or three of them. With letters inside them. I leafed through the envelopes in my hands, then through the papers at the top of each trash can. I found one more envelope and a couple of what appeared to be letters sent to her and now discarded.

Intrigued, I looked along Jute Street and I saw that outside Penelope Farthing's door was a perfectly good trash can. So, I reasoned, Miss Farthing, aphro pedlar, knew she might be snooped on. Snoopers often rake through their quarry's trash, so she put these letters in someone else's trash can. Unless the snooper was unusually thorough, and took a look in other people's trash cans as well as the suspect's, the letters could only be found by accident. I had been fortunate: the accident had befallen me.

The breakdown truck appeared and pulled alongside. I looked up.
"Mr Corsair?" a man in overalls called to me from the truck. He was the mechanic, the kind of guy who looked as though he had been fixing cars all his life. Oil and gasoline ran in his veins where you and I have blood. I was struck by the idea that some sixth sense had already told him how to fix the car, or that if he couldn't fix the car, then it was a complete and hopeless write off.

I stuck Ms Farthing's letters into my inside breast pocket, where they would stay until I could get into my office and take a look at them.

"That's me," I told him, "and thanks for coming."
"Is that the car?"
"That's the one."
"A Cadillac. For the man in a hurry. I need to see your driver's licence," said the man, impressed, as the truck driver stepped out of the further door and began to inspect the damaged car.
"I got it." I showed him the licence.
"And I need the car keys."
"I got them as well," I said, and I handed over my key ring. Thinking more clearly than I, the mechanic removed the car keys from the key ring and gave it back to me with the keys to my home and my office still attached. "We really only need the car key," he explained.

The truck driver let himself into the car and tried to start the engine. It did not even turn over. He looked as though he recognised the problem.

"We'll do our best to have your car ready by four in the afternoon," he told me, "the day after tomorrow."

With extraordinary skill, the crew hitched the Cadillac to the breakdown truck and hauled it off the sidewalk, into the roadway and off into the distance.

What I needed now was breakfast, and I knew where to buy it.

It was a quarter to nine, or thereabouts, when I walked into the Big Eat burger joint on Linden Street. There were two waitresses. One of them I didn't recognise. The other was beautiful Lara, so I sat at the table nearest her. Lara was pouring coffee out of an espresso machine into a large size mug and adding demarara sugar, no milk. She looked up and, I am happy to say, she seemed pleased to see me.

"Where've you been?" she called across the diner as I took a seat, "I was here at six."
"Sorry," I said, really meaning it, "I couldn't come and keep you company because I had to talk to a breakdown truck. I'll have the Cadillac back tomorrow."
"What are you going to do in the meanwhile?" she asked me.
"I have to decipher these letters," I said, taking Penelope Farthing's four envelopes out of my pocket and holding them up so Lara could see them, "they're in code, but they all mean the same thing."
"And that is…?"
"Dear Mr Corsair, I am a no-good drug pedlar. Please throw me in the slammer."
"She actually wrote that?" Lara sounded, rightly, incredulous.
"Not exactly. Firstly, she threw these letters away, so other people probably wrote them to her. I don't think she wrote any of these. But she did read them."
"And secondly?" Lara asked, sashaying over to my table and setting a mug of coffee before me without being asked.
"Secondly, they're in code. Like I told you, I know what they mean, but I haven't worked out how the message is hidden in these letters. It could be devilishly complicated, like decoding the squiggles on chunks of ancient Babylonian pottery. Or it could be straightforward, like when your teacher tells you 'That's a really bright idea,' but she means that it's rubbish. I don't know what the letters really mean, but I am going to find out."
"You'll think better if you drink that coffee and then order another one."
"Definitely," I said. Lara was talking Grade A sense. "Could I have waffles, chocolate pancakes, maple syrup and something sweet and sticky to go with it?"
"I've got a rum baba in the fridge," said Lara.
"Bring it here," I said, "I want to talk to it. Just a brief word. Those rum babas kind of understand me. They know when I'm starving."
"Coming right up." Lara went off to make my breakfast and I leafed through the letters.

To tell the truth, I didn't expect to find much in the envelopes.

The first envelope contained a receipt of some sort. The envelope had on it the name of an artist's supplier, so the receipt might have been an acknowledgement of a payment that Ms Farthing had made for paint or paper or whatever. It was postmarked Manhattan and the amount receipted was $21.40. For the moment, that was all I could say about it.

The second envelope was handwritten on the headed notepaper of Pink Ax, one of those shadowy outfits best known for extreme slogans, pajama parties and a membership who spent a few years yelling for revolution at the barricades, then married a wealthy chief executive with a private jet and got cushy jobs with fat salaries and joined the Republicans. This letter was from a woman called Angela Parton. She wanted to talk to another woman — Penelope, obviously — about the problems her marriage was going through.
'Dear Penelope, my husband has slept with at least 40 girlfriends in the last 6 months and I am at my wit's end trying to cope,' it began.
Apart from the number of girlfriends, which worked out at all but two a week, the letter looked plausible. I couldn't understand why Mrs Parton wanted to talk to a swanky arts lecturer she'd never met rather than sit down with her husband and talk through her worries, but I guess that's the first question Miss Farthing was going to ask.
'Could I speak to you after your lecture?'
So Penelope had binned Angela Parton's letter asking for a fireside heart to heart chat. Either Penelope thought the meeting might bring closure to this poor wife, or she had thought better of it and thrown the request in the trash without a second thought. Or possibly both.

Lara brought my order, balancing it all in one arm with acrobatic skill. "Here you are," she announced, "more coffee, waffles with maple syrup, chocolate pancakes, and rum baba for dessert. Don't rush it because I have a lot I want to say to you and I don't want you to get the hiccoughs."
"That looks first rate," I said.

I decided that the remaining two envelopes could wait but that my appetite couldn't. I needed to get my brain into at least second gear. I started with the chocolate pancakes because I knew they would give me a sugar rush, and after that I moved on to the waffles and maple syrup, because I knew they would give me another sugar rush.

Lara dashed off and served the other breakfasters for a while and then came back to talk to me. I felt privileged. I could feel the jealousy.

"Sam," she said, "you're going to love this. Five minutes ago the phone rang. The cook at the Black Shorts didn't turn up for work today so they asked me to make some snacks for coffee time. Coffee time is ten o'clock so we've got just over an hour."

"Just over an hour to do what?"

Lara looked coquettish and bent close to me. "I want you to spank me," she said, "and then we do some cookery."
"Spank? Have you been naughty?"
"Not yet," she said.
"Here, or do you have a private room?"
"Upstairs," she said. She called out to the other waitress, "Ellie! Cover for me. I have to make some breakfast for the Black Shorts."
"Sure thing," said Ellie, "don't do anything that I wouldn't do."

Lara looked at me. She reached under her skirt, pulled her panties down and gave them to me. They were a tiny orange pair with a thong back. I tucked the panties into my pocket with the letters and envelopes.

I don't know how I finished my breakfast, or even whether I finished it, while being so excited at the prospect of giving Lara what she asked for. Lara took my hand and led me through the kitchen door and up a staircase. She shut the door after us with reat care. I had expected a sort of private dining room but instead I found myself in a lady's small boudoir. The main feature was the fireplace, and dotted around the room were her bed, her desk and a couple of chairs. Lara knelt on the bed, raising her bottom while keeping her head low.

"Go on," she said, giving me a look that said, "I dare you."
I lifted Lara's skirt and exposed her bottom. I raised my hand and gave her a firm smack.
"Wow," she said, "with a little practice, you will be— Ow!"
I smacked the other cheek, harder, leaving a pink hand-print. I gave two more smacks and she squealed, "Ouch!"
"Do you need more, or are you going to be a good girl?" I asked her.
"Spank me," she said, "no girl ever started to behave herself after just two spanks."

I smacked her bottom again, harder. This time she yelped and the sting seemed to last a few seconds. Then I really whacked her. She yelped again and told me, "Gosh, that was good. Enough for now."
"Any time," I said, "I could spend all day spanking you."
"Have you ever been to Sandy?" she asked, suddenly and unexpectedly.
"It's my second home," I said.
"You must take me there," she said.
"I would absolutely love to."

"Now, I'm afraid, we have to make snacks for the Black Shorts. You can take a look around and we can make love afterwards."
"You have the day all planned out," I said.
"No, I haven't. I don't know whether we should make love in the Black Shorts or in here."
"Or out in the street," I said.
"You know, Sam," she replied after some thought, "I think you may be on to something."

Sometimes you have to face facts. Putting the letters P. I. after your name does not set you above the mundane chores that men are heir to. Lara and I stood in the kitchen and raided the fridges and the store cupboard, found ten paper bags from somewhere and loaded them with coffee, bacon, sandwiches, cupcakes, English muffins, all the things you really want at work when it's around ten o'clock. Finally we put the laden paper bags into crates and balanced them in our hands, opened the back door and set off for Black Shorts.

"My bum is still tingling," said Lara with a smirk that I could hear clearly, "but you should have hit it harder."
"Don't worry," I said as we walked along the street, "I will."

The Black Shorts Club was two minutes' walk away.

The doorman at the Black Shorts Club was already standing in an immaculate black suit, holding the door open for us. The place used to be a music hall and closed during the War. Now it was Black Shorts Club. The joint was closed to the punters and a rehearsal of the evening's cabaret was in progress. There was a small stage at the far end of the room, six tables each with two or four chairs, and at the left side of the room a small but very well stocked bar. There were chandeliers that gave out a yellowish light. A noise of clattering pans and hissing steam came from a kitchen somewhere.

As soon as the door closed, the aroma from Lara's bacon sandwiches filled the place.

"Breakfast, guys," called Lara, putting her wooden crate on one of the small tables and lifting the lid. I did the same with the two trays I was carrying. "Everything for breakfast, ten servings, four dollars."

A huge Black man was sat at a table a few feet in front of the stage. Without looking around, he said, "Morning, Lara, glad you could spare the time. That looks like a feast." Then he stood up, turned around, saw me and added, "Who's the ugly one?"
"Sam Corsair," I said, "just lending a hand."
"Joseph Short," he said, sticking his outsize hand towards me. I shook it. "Ringmaster."
"You in charge?"
"Only of the clowns," said Joseph, "Pierre looks after the victuals." He pronounced the word in the Victorian way, vittles. Joseph pointed to the bar, but Pierre was nowhere to be seen. "Pierre Labière. He ain't here just yet but he'll be here come opening time."
"You made that name up," I said, hazarding a guess.
"I did," Joseph laughed, "and he just loves it. Between you and me, and I wouldn't have told you except that Lara already knows, we all have fake names here in case there's a raid." Joseph reached into his pocket and found a five dollar bill, which he gave to Lara, gesturing to her to keep the change. For the hundredth time I realised that I was in the wrong job.

"I brought two extra coffees," Lara said to me, "this one's mine, and here's yours."
"You think of everything," I said, taking the paper cup and flicking the lid off with my thumb.

"Any chance I could stay and watch the show?" I asked Joseph.
"Sure," said Joseph, "sit with me and shut up, and you're both welcome."
"You see," I said, "I have this client—"
"I told you to shut up," said Joseph, amiably, "so shut up. Lara, are you staying?"
"Sure," said Lara, "it beats working."
"Great. These guys are a treat."

Joseph picked up a bacon sandwich, a cup of coffee and a muffin in his enormous hands, and led us to the front middle table. "Kill the house lights," he yelled, and someone flipped a switch. The room was nearly in darkness and the stage was lit by two spots bolted to the ceiling.

"Malachi, do your act," called Joseph.
"Sure, boss." A slim black man in his early twenties came on stage.
"Music," called Joseph, "Kenny, what the fuck do you think you're doing? You asleep? Right. Places!"

A white male voice, which was probably Kenny's, said, "Say hello to… Malachi!" over the loudspeakers with remarkable enthusiasm. I saw Kenny. He was a white man in his fifties, wearing black overalls and standing in a corner of the room.

Kenny started playing a Duke Ellington number on a portable record player. Malachi walked onto the stage and turned around to show us his elegant body. He was extremely fit. He slipped his pants down for a moment so we could see the curves of his bottom through very tight white briefs. He was African black, slim, a pretty face that was suggestive but clever looking, wearing grey pants and a button-down white dress shirt with a bow tie. He was barefoot, which is a good idea if you're a stripper because taking your shoes off on stage is impossible without looking clumsy. The bow tie unclipped. I thought: it's nice to know it's not just me that doesn't have a clue how to tie one. Then he began his dance and undid the shirt buttons one at a time.

I was enjoying the spectacle. Either Malachi had a naturally hairless and shiny chest, or his daddy owned a baby oil factory.

"He's gorgeous," said Lara, probably speaking out loud by mistake.
"Did you see the way he looked at you?" I asked her.
"Yeah," she said, "because I'm wearing a mini and I'm not wearing panties."
"You were flashing yourself to him?" I said, a little surprised.
"Yeah," she said, "what else could have given him an erection like that?"

"Do you think he's Katrina's type?" I whispered to her.
"Shut up," said Joseph in a voice that could be heard a mile away.

Malachi unzipped his fly zip and kicked his pants off, then spent a lot of time and dance moves slipping off his briefs. He had hairless legs and, so far as I could make out, no pubic hair either. He smiled at Lara and blew her a kiss. He must have rehearsed thoroughly because he ended his routine exactly as Duke Ellington played the last chord of the music.

Lara and I clapped.

Joseph turned to me and said, "What did you think of him?"
"Gorgeous," I said, and I added, "Which of the dancers has the biggest cock?"
"Honeybee," said Joseph, without hesitation, "he'll be in later this week."

"I think I should get back to the café now," said Lara.
"You want me to set you up a date with Honeybee?" Joseph asked.
"In a manner of speaking," I said, "and he'll be hanging out here in a couple of days, you said."
"He would just love to meet you," said Joseph, "and he is so well endowed that you'll be crying and rubbing your ass for two weeks afterwards."
"I look forward to that," I said.
"Yeah, sure you do," said Joseph. Then he looked across at Kenny and yelled "Where's Constance? Get Constance!"

As Lara and I thanked Joseph, picked up the detritus of breakfast and made our way across the restaurant towards the door in near darkness, Kenny announced, "Gentlemen, let's welcome Constance!" Cole Porter's "So In Love" started on the record player.

Outside on the street, I asked Lara, "Didn't you want to see Constance?"
"I have to work for a living," she said. "You can go and admire Constance any time, and take a look at the wonders in Honeybee's pants while you're at it."
"I intend to," I said, "strictly in the line of business, naturally."
"But if you walk down the street with me," she said, "you can make love to me."
"Let's do that," I said.

Watching Malachi stripping and revealing his superb straight rod had definitely straightened the snake in my pants and when Lara kissed me on the lips and stroked my cock firmly from base to tip, I could think of nothing except getting into her.

Just before we reached the Big Eat burger bar, Lara pointed out a grubby blue double door, no windows, set in the wall of the building. She pushed the door and it opened inwards.

"How did you get that door open?" I asked.
"It's been broken for years," Lara explained. "We'll do it here," she said, "nobody ever comes here."

Lara reached down and closed her delicate fingers around the front of my pants. She was stroking my cock through my clothes and making me really hard and really desperate for her.

With the door shut, the room was almost dark. There was a door leading to an office and some stairs going up. The stencil on the wall, "Keep Area Clear," told me that this was a fire escape.

"What happens if there's a fire?" I asked Lara.
"Everyone will be too worried about choking and burning to death to notice two lovers screwing," she said. "And don't worry, I'll make sure you finish before I make a dash for safety."
"Inside you?" I asked
"Sure! You're a big boy to get just hand jobs. Is that what your Momma does, just hand jobs?"
"How did you know that?" I asked.
"Shot in the dark," said Lara, "unmarried boys your age get it from their Momma, and boys who get the whole works from Momma don't pick up nineteen year old waitresses. So Momma acts the slut for Christmas and birthdays, and acts the no nonsense domme the rest of the time. So she keeps you at arm's length in bed and you're desperate for a good looking waitress. I like that. I really like that. I am all yours, and that's all that matters. Front or back?"
"Let's do it at the front."

Lara unzipped me and pulled my pants down, revealing tight lilac panties made of sheer material that did not hide much.

"Are those your Momma's panties?" she asked.
"Yes," I said, "she bought them for me."
"She loves you a lot," said Lara, "in all the naughtiest ways."

Lara stood with her feet apart, leaning back on the wall and slipping my lilac panties to the side. I slid my dick into her kitty. Lara was wet, tight and warm. She gasped as I slid all the way into her.

Oh! breathed Lara, "that's nice."

For once I didn't feel desperately urgent. I could slide my cock in and out of her, hearing her gasps and feeling my own excitement rising. Lara bent her knees a little and inclined herself towards me. She pushed herself against me hard.

"Wow," I said, "you've done this before."
"Ssh!" Lara put her arms around my waist and pulled me against her. "You can unload now."

I withdrew about half way and then slowly I slid into her again. After that I couldn't withdraw again. I let the pleasure of orgasm take me over and I felt my prostate pump, pump, pump into her. Lara looked me straight in the eyes and cooed, "Ooh!"

Lara stayed in position for a minute or so as my dick softened and slipped out of her body.

I adjusted my clothing. Just then a door somewhere above us opened and a voice I recognised called out "Will you two turn it down, please?" I swear it was the man who lived above the overturned trash cans.
"Sure," shouted Lara, looking up, "sorry."
"If this happens again I'll tell Mr Perry," came the shout from upstairs.
"He's the one I'm fucking," Lara called up the stairs. The door slammed shut above us.
"You can sure think fast," I said to Lara, "who's Mr Perry?"
"I have no idea — probably a man in a suit who works here. He always does that," she replied, "I'm used to it."
"You come here often?" I asked.
"Every girl needs a secret place, away from prying eyes, where she can screw her boyfriends. This is mine, and probably his," she pointed upwards towards the complainant, "as well. Where does your Momma take you?"
"We've done it in a phone box," I said, "and in the park."
"See? Was it cold in the park?"
"Not until we were naked," I said.
"I'd love to see you naked," said Lara, "because that's more than six inches you've got in your panties, isn't it."
"You will," I promised, "so bring a tape measure."

After adjusting my clothes I put my arm around Lara's firm, narrow waist and pulled her close to me. We stepped out onto the street. My few minutes up against the wall with this beautiful young woman had made me genuinely happy. I was still flushed and breathing hard and feeling the last trace of my orgasm. Lara felt perfect. Her whole body was mine and I could do anything I wanted with her, anywhere, and nothing else would matter. I supposed that is what true love feels like. Maybe Lara loves me back, I thought.

In the sunlight, Lara adjusted the grubby blue door so it didn't look as though it fell open easily. I kissed her on the mouth and she pressed her lips onto mine until I needed to draw breath.

"Come back and see me some time," said Lara, skipping lightly into the Big Eat.
"You bet," I said.

I saw a taxi and hailed it.

Back in my office the first thing I did was to phone Tony Dash, photographer, and ask about Trina's photography session. He was full of himself.

"You are talking," he said, "to the official photographer of the Jersey Urban Road."
"The railroad across New Jersey. I booked a session…"
"Before we get onto the new life, new career stuff, did you photograph Katrina Aquitaine?"
"Oh, her! Sure I did." Tony had told me the only thing I wanted to hear, and he continued with even better news. "I have the pictures here. My God, she looks lovely naked."
"The results are impressive?" I asked, knowing Tony's ability.
"So are you going to bring the results around?"
"Why don't you come and meet me tomorrow? I'll be out working for my new client."
"Where exactly?"
"Devil's Hook station."
"I have never heard of it," I said.
"That's hardly surprising. It closed twenty years ago. Jersey Urban still owns the land, the tracks still go through it and the buildings are still there, and they've given me the keys so I can go there and take pictures…"
"Are any nice girls coming?"
"Basically I phoned Central Casting for two nice young women in fashionable evening gowns, and a Black guy dressed in company uniform. So I don't know who's coming but I told them I wanted pretty faces and nice backsides."
"Nice young women wearing evening gowns on the grubbiest commuter cars the world has ever seen?" I asked.
"They're opening a business class service from New York to Trenton and they need publicity photographs. Come along and gawp at the models. If they're good, I'll let them talk to you."
"I certainly shall," I said. "Where is this place?"

Tony told me the street address. I thanked him and put the phone down.

I sat down, lit a Marlboro and pulled the four letters from my pocket and laid them out on the table, in the order that I'd rescued them from the trash cart.

1. A receipt for a payment of $21.40 to a supplier of paint and canvas.

2. A request for a heart to heart chat with a betrayed wife.

3. A letter from a student at university. I took the letter out of the envelope. It was signed by Montana Farthing, which I took to be a girl's name in view of the loopy handwriting. Montana was very happy at Paupers College reading for her diploma in fine arts. She was sorry to hear of Mommy's sudden illness and had paid some money into her adultery account to tide her over. I read the sentence twice and stared at it to make sure the word really was what I thought it was. Montana had paid some money into her Mom's adultery account. She wished Mom a speedy recovery and promised to visit for a few days in half term.

So apart from having a bank account for adultery, there was nothing unusual there. I decided the adultery account held money that Penelope did not want her friends in Pink Axe to know about.

4. The fourth and last letter was from a man called Bryce. He regretted that he would not be able to attend Miss Farthing's lecture and he was returning his invitation. It was a short and sweet note. He had enclosed the invitation, for 7 pm on 11 March.

I was reading the first note for the third or fourth time, trying to work out what it was trying to tell me, when I heard a knock on the door and Katrina walked in without waiting for a reply. Katrina looked stunning: looking more busty than ever in a white linen blouse and showing off her legs and lace stocking tops in a tight, short skirt.

Katrina was holding a pale yellow stick about three feet long.

I was going to say hello, but Katrina cut me short. "You haven't handed your homework in on time," she said.

"Sorry, Katrina," I said, "but I haven't quite closed the case."

"That's Miss Aquitaine to you," she said, with unnecessary acidity, I thought. "This cane comes from the Paupers' College. It was their most severe instrument of corporal punishment. In 1912 a nineteen year old engineering student called Gregory Banter came out of a bar very drunk, went into the college grounds and threw a stone, which broke a window of the headmistress's office. The headmistress, Dorothy Bridges, was working late. She called Banter into her office and gave him a sound thrashing. Twelve smacks with this cane on his bare bottom. She called it her sore bum stick. The sudden, unending, blistering pain drove Banter insane. They took him to the County Asylum the next day."

Miss Aquitaine paused for breath and went on, "He is still there, in the County Asylum."
"Poor soul," I said, "and there was me imagining that Paupers' College was a reputable seat of culture and learning."
"Silence. Banter still has scars on his backside," Miss Aquitaine went on, tapping the cane against the fingers of her left hand. I thought that she found the mild sting of a school cane on her hand a bit arousing.
"Surely the Board of Education must have at least fired the—"
"I am going to administer four smacks of the sore bum stick, for failure to submit your work on time" said Miss Aquitaine, "so get your pants and underwear off and bend over the desk."

I bared my bottom, feeling distinctly bashful about it even though a couple of days before, Katrina and I had spent several hours petting.

"Do you understand why I am going to cane you?" she asked.
"I deserve the cane because I didn't do the job on time," I replied, with my face against the desk.

Miss Aquitaine took up a position standing full height behind me and to my left. I felt her tap the stick on my buttocks, then I heard a loud swish, and — Wham! Miss Aquitaine lashed my bottom with the cane. For a second I didn't feel anything, but a second later the pain was insufferable. I gasped.
"It hurts, doesn't it?" said Miss Aquitaine, obviously enjoying punishing me, "We shall see how you feel after three more smacks."

She raised her right arm again. Wham! Miss Aquitaine hit me again, full strength. The cane felt red hot. I yelled out loud and Miss Aquitaine bade me, "Silence. If you speak again I will take the skin off your buttocks. Keep your hands still. Do not move."

Miss Aquitaine drew the stick right back and gave me the next smack. Wham! The pain was searing and penetrating. I realised I was about to wet myself.

Wham! Miss Aquitaine looked at my bottom, which must have been a deep red colour by now, and smiled. I started to weep and a trail of urine ran down my legs and onto the office carpet. My bum felt as though I had been sitting in hot embers. I realised how much I loved to be punished. I had never before felt not just beaten into submission but truly, utterly enslaved by a domainant woman. Despite the pain of a flamethrower incinerating my backside, I wanted Katrina to start beating me again and never stop.

"Bring your work to me on time in future. Don't give me a chance to use this again," she said severely, "or I shall."

"I love you," I said, without thinking.

Katrina's response was immediate, and blistering. Wham! She swished her cane and laid a burning hot weal right across my backside.

"Don't ever say that." She was angry with me. "You love any woman who can whack you senseless," she said, "and if you ever tell me you love me again, I'll beat you so savagely that you will scream and piss your pants and you won't know which day it is. Think yourself lucky that I only laid one smack on you this time."
"Yes, mistress."
"Love me, indeed… the very idea! Do you understand, slut?" Katrina was shouting now.
"Yes, mistress," I said.
"You do not love me. You obey me, but only because as soon as you disobey me, I shall beat you. Now stand up and adjust your clothing. Do your work by five o'clock tomorrow."

Chapter Six

After Miss Aquitaine's expert discipline it took me three attempts to stand up. The pain in my buttocks was the throbbing, insistent pain of a hundred bee stings. I was crying and pissing myself.

It was dark by the time I found my way home to Mom. She was lying in our double bed and wearing a short sheer blue babydoll. She awoke and greeted me with "Hi, honey."
"Hi, darling," I said.
"What happened?" Mom asked me.
I folded my arms around her and she put one arm around my shoulders. "I got spanked," I told her, "by my customer, Katrina."
"Were you naughty?" she asked.
"Not after I got spanked," I said.
"Hand up the skirt? I knew that would land you in trouble."
"Not at all. Just she didn't think I was working hard enough."

Mom kissed my mouth and said, "I think I know how to take the pain away." She rested her hand on my cock and stroked it, making it stiffen. "You've been with a girl today," she sensed, "who was it?"
"I was with Lara," I said, "a gorgeous waitress with long hair and what must be at least a 36D brassière size."
Mom explored a little more, felt the area around the base of my cock and said, "She made you unload hard, I can tell that."
"She was truly an expert," I said.
"Well, then," said Mom, "if you had time to fuck Lara then you probably weren't working hard enough on Katrina's case."
"Oh," I said, "I've found what she wants."
"Are you sure?" said Mom, "because if Katrina spanks you again, I would really love to watch."

We cuddled together closely. Mom's hand worked my cock into a straight, hard pole and then guided the tip into her kitty. I rolled on top of her and pumped her, feeling the cock gradually enlarging and lengthening.

"When I was at school," Mom told me as I lay on top of her, "I used to love watching boys getting a spanking."
"Did it turn you on?"
"I loved to see them jump with the pain of it, rub their bottoms, cry, and try not to wet themselves. Sometimes they were caned on the hands, and then they always tried to squeeze their hot, sore hands under their arm-pits, to try to stop the burning."
"Did you get caned?" I asked Mom.
"Four times," she said, "three times on the hands and once on the bum, with my skirt right up, in front of the class…"

Mom's description had excited me to the point where I unloaded, as Mom knew it would. She kissed me on the mouth again. It was a long, warm kiss. I held her close. Mom's hand squeezed my cock to let me know that she needed more. She filled me with desire and made me very ready to slip into her again.

"Up the bum this time," she said.

"I love that. Turn around," I said. My cock found the little crease between the cheeks of her bum.

There was some hand cream on Mom's bedside table. She spread it along my cock and along the ass cheeks. Pushing my cock into her was easy, and from the way Mom gasped and sighed, I knew it had not hurt her.

She pushed back against me.

"Do you like me to talk about spankings?" she asked me.
"If you want to be fucked by a hard cock," I said, "then talk to me about spankings, in intimate detail."
"The girls were spanked, too," said Mom, "with their skirts right up and their panties down."
"How about you, Mom?"
"Miss Lace caught me smoking a cigarette in the playground. She used the cane on my hand, twice, in front of the class. I can still hear her voice saying, 'Monica Corsair, come out here. Hold your hand out.' Then she held my wrist and, oh, the stick hurt so much…"

The picture was so vivid and exciting that I unloaded into Mom's perfect, tight bubble butt. That butt was specially designed to suggest, initiate and accept anal sex. She pushed hard against me as her orgasm went through her.

Mom and I awoke around eight.

The realisation hit me that the Cadillac was ready for me to collect from the repair shop and I was expected for an unpaid all day photo session at Devil's Hook station. Half an hour later, having showered and dressed at the speed of a maniac on amphetamine, I was sitting in a taxi with a fistful of dollars and heading towards Kings.

"Sure," said the older mechanic when I arrived, "she's over there. A fine car, fifty dollars."
"Fifty?" I was staggered.
"You bent and scratched two panels and shattered the right headlamp. Besides, the brakes were worn and out of alignment. And as for the tyres…"
"So it's my fault," I said, trying to sound aggrieved, "just because I wasn't looking where I was going."
"Got it in one," said the mechanic, "if you collide with a row of stationary trash cans in broad daylight, that's your own fault."
"It was not broad daylight," I retorted, "it was three a. m."
"That makes no difference. Besides, your Uncle Sam will pay for it. Here, come into the office and I'll write you a receipt so you can claim it all as a business expense."

A short length of road later, I parked the Cadillac in the rubble strewn tarmac yard at Devil's Hook railroad station. I locked the car, walked over a road bridge and found an open wooden door marked Keep Out. I went through the door regardless. On the other side, I found myself at the top of a flight of stairs, looking down at Tony Dash and his very desirable models: two white ladies and one black man.

Tony shouted up to me and I walked down the steps to the platform. Arriving beside him, I saw that I could have walked across the tracks from the car park and saved myself a hike.

"Hi. Nice place you got here," I greeted him.
"Not bad considering the station closed ten years ago," Tony told me, "I think Jersey Road must have sent in a squad of cleaners. The train there is ours for the day."

A single railroad car painted in Jersey Road's raspberry pink stood next to the platform.

"I always wanted to be an engineer," I said, "on the Sunset Limited."
"Not much chance of that, Sam, because we don't have a locomotive. The car is only there so that I can take photographs in it."
"Nudes?" I asked, knowing what the answer would be.
"You can undress if you like," said Tony, "after all, it's a nice warm day with bright sunshine and not too much wind, but for these guys it'd be against union rules, so don't ask. I ought to introduce you. The girls are Carol and Dianne, the conductor is Pete and the make-up girl is hiding in the waiting room and her name is Ella."
"Did you bring the pictures of Katrina Aquitaine?" I asked him.
"Yes. They're in the equipment case there. But if you've got nothing better to do, you can help with the lighting."
"Sure," I agreed, "maybe I'll learn to take better holiday snaps with my box Brownie."

Tony stuck some pieces of sticking plaster to the stone floor, reciting as he did so, "Carol, this is your mark, and Dianne, that's yours. Pete, you're over here." I went and looked at Katrina's pictures. They were three big, moody black and white photographs in paper folders.

"Good work, Tony. I owe you ten dollars."
"The bill is in the post," he said, and continued without a pause, raising his voice so as to be heard by all and sundry, "Places, people. Make-up, can you do Dianne's hair so it's not in her eyes?"
"It isn't in her eyes," said Ella, appearing through a doorway. Ella was the slender black-haired head prefect type, wearing an outfit that caught the wind so that the skirt swayed a little and the blouse was pressed against her body, revealing her strappy brassiere.
"Her hair is casting a shadow," said Tony, pointing at it, "it looks like the Creature from the Black Lagoon is climbing up her nose."

Ella obediently combed Dianne's quiff out of the way and painted some lacquer on it. Then she produced some clothes pegs from her bag and used them to pull the evening gowns tight.

Taking the first shot took five minutes. Tony detailed me to pick up a silvered reflector and cast some extra daylight on Pete, who was holding the door of the car open, playing the rôle of conductor.

"Hey," I said confidentially to Pete, "haven't I seen you before somewhere?"
"I don't think so," he said, shaking his head and trying to concentrate on Carol and Dianne, "I've never been here before."
"Who said anything about here? I saw you at the Black Shorts Club," I went on with increasing certitude, "under the name of Malachi. Not the sort of encounter I forget easily. Is this your day job?"
"You got me, sir," said Pete. However long I live, that gorgeous Black stripper will have the name Malachi, whatever his passport and ID may say about him. Whenever I think of Malachi, to this day, I drool, and my cock rises in my panties.
"Maybe you and I could, well, sort of…"
"Spend some time together? That sounds good to me," he said, completing my sentence.
"Yeah," I said, "you look a lot better with the uniform off than on."

Tony was staring at us through the viewfinder of what looked like a plate camera. He called "Watch the birdie," and there was a clunk as he took the first photograph.

An hour or so later, Tony had taken a total of eight photographs. I had been counting. He called a ten minute break and sent Ella to get coffee and bagels or whatever she could get hold of.

I picked up the photographs of Katrina Acquitaine and walked across the tracks to the car park, gesturing to Malachi to come with me. I settled into the comfortable back seat of the Cadillac. Malachi got in and sat with me.

"May I call you Malachi?" I asked him.
"'Course. But my name ain't Malachi. Before you ask, my name ain't Pete, either."
"Malachi, I have a client I'd love you to meet. She'd love to meet you. What's more, you might like to meet her."
"I think I understand," said Malachi, "except, why does she want you to take me to meet her?"
"She's looking for a boyfriend," I explained.
"So am I," said Malachi, "but she might do for now. Is she cute with a metal strap-on and big breasts? That just about covers the important stuff.
"This is her." I showed Malachi the photographs. "Her name is Katrina Aquitaine. Twenty five years old, 34c bra, clean shaven."
"Cute name, cute jennie," said Malachi, smiling, "what's her phone number?"

I realised that I had left her phone number back in the office. "I don't know," I said, "I forgot to bring it."
"That's pretty dumb," said Malachi.
"Yes, it is," I said.
"How am I going to get off with this fair lady?" he asked me.
"Are you doing an act in the club tonight?" I asked him. "I could bring her to meet you there."
"Yes," said Malachi, "you could."
"I think I can persuade Katrina to come," I said, "if I work hard at it."

I was just giving Malachi a kiss on the lips, when I heard Tony's voice drift across the tracks.

"Back to work," said Malachi.
"At least you get paid for your efforts," I said, "I have to get out there too, and I'm a volunteer."

Ella brought coffee and salt beef sandwiches. After consuming them, we spent another hour posing on the platform. Sometimes Tony photographed two passengers waiting for a train, and at other times he photographed the conductor waiting for two passengers. By lunch time we had a sequence of pictures showing two elegant women in wholly inappropriate long dresses standing on the platform, showing their tickets to the conductor and boarding the train.

"One hour for lunch," said Tony, "Union rules, we won't start again before…" he looked at the station clock, "and it's a quarter past seven — no, that isn't right."
"The clock hasn't been wound since 1946," said Ella, looking at her wristwatch, "it's twelve thirty so we go again at half past one. I'll show you where the sandwich shop is."

I needed to pee, and so did Malachi. We yelled to Ella not to wait for us and we'd catch her up, and then we looked around for somewhere private. On the farthest track were two rickety wagons painted in camouflage colours. Maybe the Army had used the wagons, parked them in a siding here and forgotten about them. The loading doors of one of the wagons were open so we could clamber in. It was dark and nobody could see us, so it was the ideal improvised rest room.

Malachi stood facing me, put his arms around me and kissed me. He reached down and cradled the tip of my cock in the palm of his hand, and he raised his fingers slightly to send a wave of pleasure and excitement through me.

"That feels good," I said.
"Yes," said Malachi, "now piss your pants."

His relaxed hold on my balls was the light, gentle touch of a lover. He was not making me hard. He was coaxing me into pissing my pants. The finger tips pressed harder and found the soft spot that would open any dam. Piss flowed out of my cock, soaked my panties and flooded my pants.

"That's good, babe," he said, "a golden river of sexy piss. Keep it coming."

The flow went on for what felt like minutes. I felt orgasmic and relieved. My pants were soaked. There was a puddle around my crotch and streams of hot piss ran down my legs, dripped onto my shoes and soaked into my socks. I could smell the sweet, erotic, bitter fragrance of hot urine.

"Kneel," said Malachi, "and I'll give it you in the face."

I knelt and fell against his panty area, my lips closing around his huge limp cock. It was the most beautiful penis I had ever seen, even in my dreams, and it was going to spray its hot flood onto me.

"Take my panties down," said Malachi, and I lowered them. "Open your mouth."

I lifted my head and opened my mouth. I was about a foot away from the beautiful orifice.

Malachi pointed the cock straight at me and began to spray urine in a straight yellow jet. He directed it at my hair, then into my eyes, and into my mouth. He had enough time, and a tight, big, full bladder, and he turned his jet onto my chest before pouring the rest down my throat. I was hot, panting, feeling the hot piss beginning to burn my skin slightly, enjoying the feeling of the warm wet patches spreading over my skin, and feeling my cock begin to throb and straighten.

There was nothing else I could say.

"Thank you, Malachi. I love you. I want you to piss on me all day, every day. Use me for your pleasure."
"Malachi?" he asked.
"I guess you will always be Malachi to me," I said, "no, I know it. You are the most beautiful Black male I ever encountered."

Malachi put his hand on my testicles again and this time deliberately stimulated the tip of the cock. "Do you want a hand job or anal?"
"You have the most beautiful hands I ever saw."
"Don't forget to use your own hands, too."

I held Malachi's cock in both hands, one at the base and the other on the foreskin, just drawing on the foreskin enough to make him stiff. The massive size of the Black cock was soon evident. It was ten inches long at least, and as thick as my arm. It might have been longer than that.

"Take your panties off and bend over," said Malachi, not in a tone of command but just lightly, gently, coaxing me towards the ultimate act a white man can perform for a superior, hugely endowed Black male. I did it instantly, of course, taking the wet pants and panties off completely and releasing a sudden powerful fragrance of urine. I felt Malachi fingering my ass hole and applying cold gelatine to make his entry less painful.

I expected Malachi to subdue me, to make me submit to the insertion of the rigid, vast cock. The tip pressed against my anal sphinctre and found its way blocked, because I was tight. He pushed hard for a second but failed to slip the cock inside me.

"Relax," said Malachi, "I'll put some more grease on."

With the extra grease, the cock slid in like a key into a well oiled lock, and I could feel that Malachi had pushed it as far inside me as it would go. He pulled away a little, then pushed his cock right inside, hard. He pulled away again, a little further, and pushed it back inside, so hard that I felt his pubic bone slam into my buttocks and trigger a sharp pain from Katrina's cane marks. He was pumping me rhythmically now. Out gently, in! really hard, pause, out gently, in! with force. I was loving it. I had been taken anally before but never felt so much peace and pure enjoyment. Out, in!, the thrusting continued. This big Black cock loved my ass, it loved fucking me hard. This massive Black tool truly loved me as much as I loved it.

I felt Malachi's cock growing longer and thicker and stiffer as his climax approached. He reached around my tummy and held my cock, tickling and teasing it so that we might have… "Oh, God," I said, "keep on doing that. Yes! Oh, yes." and he pumped into my bum as I released my milk over his strong, loving, cool finger tips. …so that we might have our orgasms together, I thought, picking up my sentence from the words where it had stopped.

That is what love feels like, I thought. Malachi loves me. The most important fact in this entire case is, Malachi loves me. That flow of milk, his gasps of pleasure, his caress, his orgasm, the tightness of my bum around his massive boy tool all meant the same thing, all sent me one message. Malachi loves me.

I stood up as Malachi withdrew, and we kissed again. We exchanged long, hot, liquid kisses. I felt Malachi's cock again. It was huge and soft and it moved as I stroked it.

"May I give you a hand job if I come to the Black Shorts Club tonight?"
"You don't have to ask," he said, "I'll make sure you have more cocks than you can stand. Enough to make you bleed out of your ass hole."
"I can feel the pressure where you forced your cock up my ass," I told Malachi.
"You were a damn sexy submissive," said Malachi, "I love that in a girl."
"Malachi, I love you," I told him.
"I love you too. Don't worry, Katrina won't come between us. She just wants a big, black cock. You want a hot, hard Black lover and I will be hot, hard and in love with you."

We kissed again, holding each other close, our cocks hardening but not desperate to fuck again. Not yet.

Malachi zipped and buttoned his conductor's uniform and looked at the station clock. "It's a quarter past seven," he said, "so I'd best get back to work. You have a phone at home?"
"486-7463," I said, "here." I found a piece of paper lying around and wrote the number on it in pencil. "Phone me. In the middle of the night, if your cock needs my ass hole."
"Oh, it will, babe," said Malachi, "you know, you are going have one fuck of a sore ass in a few weeks. I will shred the skin of that tight teasing tail-pipe of yours."
"I can't wait," I said. I had the sensation that something the size of a baseball bat had been drilling my bum, and I loved it. "Tell Tony I had to leave early."
"Don't you think he'll be able to work that out by himself, sweety?" said Malachi.
"Say it anyway, darling," I said, "and by the way, you have the most beautiful cock I have ever seen."
"You say that to all the girls," Malachi smirked.

Malachi was now every inch the ultra respectable train conductor and he clambered out of our wagon across the track to rejoin the team.

I decided to take a small risk and walk back to the car without putting my clothes back on. Everything was soaked with Malachi's urine, and although I loved the wetness, the scent and even the act of kneeling still while he directed his cock to drench me, I didn't much want to wear the clothes on the way home. I walked naked, as quickly as I could, out of the railway wagon, through where the fence had once been, and reached the car. I had to fumble through the soaking clothes in order to find the key. As I opened the car door, I heard three loud and musical wolf whistles, in perfect unison, from the desirable lips of Carol, Dianne and Ella. I turned and waved to them, showing them the full frontal view. As I turned back to open the car door, Ella's voice called after me, "Your girlfriend sure knows how to spank!"

I didn't hear whether beautiful Malachi said anything in reply.

It seemed like a good idea to pull the wet jacket over me so as not to look naked while driving through more populated parts of the city. So far as I knew, driving without any clothes on was not actually a moving traffic offence but it might attract attention of a kind that I could do without.

I was pulling my wet jacket around my shoulders when I noticed a couple of yellow beads in the far corner of the yard. They rang a bell: they looked like small fifty-cent ampoules of aphro. I took a closer look and found that the ampoules did indeed look exactly like aphro. Now although aphro was a souped up impotence treatment, you didn't swallow it, or inject it, straight out of the ampoule. Rather, if you were a jenny, you bought the ampoules from a pedlar, and then you poured the aphro into a hollow ring, and then you pricked your victom's cock with it. And then you had sex with a man with a swollen, painful cock, and after that you disposed of the yellow shell of the ampoule.

I had no idea what I was looking for, but I decided to look for one anyway. There were two abandoned vehicles in the car park, both of them looking decidedly pre-war, as though their owners had left them there knowing that nobody would bother about them after the train station closed. There was a derelict Buick with rusted bodywork, almost no trace of its original paintwork, and its canvas roof had rotted through. There was also a Ford V8 panel truck, which looked as though someone had carefully kept it going through the war and replaced it when decent new trucks came back on sale. The discarded ampoules were nearer the truck, so I started with that.

I had a small notebook in the car somewhere and I wrote the registrations down.
Buick, DW-1711
Ford truck, ZD-8817
I drove across the car park and stopped close to the truck. I wound down my window and I managed, with difficulty, to open the driver's door of the truck. I was hit by the smell of old vehicles: rubber, leather, oil and gasoline in a heady aerosol form. If I'd carried a gas mask, I would have reached for it. I noticed that someone had recently sat in the driver's seat, but this truck could never have been driven anywhere. Maybe he, or she, just needed to sit down for a while. I supposed that the truck could have been towed, but there were no tyre tracks to be seen, so for at least several months, quite likely since 1943, this truck had been standing exactly where it stood now.

I needed to get closer to the truck and my pants and panties were soaked in urine.

There was nobody about. Devil's Hook was not a busy place. I couldn't see the beano on the station platform so I guessed they were now taking photographs inside the railway carriage, and they wouldn't notice me.

Naked from the waist down and reeking strongly of Malachi's urine, I stared through the small rear windows of the truck. I could see that the truck was not empty, but not what was in it, so I tried the door. It was locked. The lock was of a flimsy pre-war design and I was able to open it with the aid of a picklock which — I kid you not — I got out of a Christmas cracker at a Police Station party celebrating Christmas in 1948, back in the days when I was still on the Force. I had put the picklock in the glove compartment and read the instructions that came with it, which were printed in badly translated Chinese on a slip of paper the size of a postage stamp. This was the first time I had ever tried to use a picklock. I was probably contemplating an illegal act but what the hell, I thought, if this didn't work I had bolt cutters and, should they not work either, I still had my explosives handling certificate. The storeman at the explosives store still knew me.

I would have loved to blow the doors open with gelignite but, sad to relate, the picklock actually worked. I turned the door handle and I opened both rear doors. There was no sound from any burglar alarm, which was fortunate because it hadn't occurred to me to find the wires and cut them. The load compartment was clean and recently swept, and there, inside the van, waiting just for me, were two small Sun Pat Raisins boxes each containing twelve yellow capsules, two matchboxes each containing two red capsules, an envelope with no address on it and a heavy library book called The synthesis and biosynthesis of eicosanoids.

I supposed myself to be on the trail of something.

A man in a railroad uniform walked up to me. He was white, older than me, and definitely less attractive than my new love Malachi.

"I'm Inspector Maximilian Babcock of the Federal Railroads Commission." he told me, "You're trespassing on the property of the Jersey Urban Road. Did you realise that?"
"No," I lied, "I thought this was just a free car park with a scrap yard and a disused train station attached. According to the definitive state map, the boundary between the car park and the scrap yard runs in between my Cadillac and the Ford truck here. I got red reflective paint in the trunk and, well, I was just about to paint a straight line on the—"
Babcock couldn't stand any more of my expertly concocted nonsense. "Why aren't you wearing pants?" he asked.
"Why are you trying to change the subject?" I asked him back, praying that the Federal Railroads Commission sent its inspectors out unarmed. "Let me answer one question before we move on to the next one. The Mayor's office couldn't tell the difference between the free car park and the scrap yard, and some fool went and dumped a ton and a half of rusting and corroded truck in the wrong half of the tarmac."
"I tried to change the subject," explained an exasperated Inspector Babcock, "because I wanted to know why you aren't wearing any pants."
"I am not wearing pants because I wet myself and my pants are soaked," I said, venturing closer to the truth than I really wanted to be.
Mr Babcock thought for a second, maybe two, and he said, "Get out of here before I call the police."
"Sure thing," I said. Under my breath I thanked God that Babcock had not asked anything about why I was breaking into a vehicle.

"Mr Babcock," I said, "have you noticed the guys on the platform over there?"
"Of course I have," said Babcock, "Do I look like an idiot?"
"Yes," I said.
"I'm here to guard the company's property and make sure the photographic team don't walk on the rails."
"You probably have made them go off the rails, but that need not mean that you and I can't help each other. Can you do me a favour and ask Tony Dash, he's the photographer, to lend me a camera and film for a few minutes? I can't go over there not dressed like this."

Babcock considered this.

"Please," I said.
"Well," said Babcock, "all right, but if you're not off these premises within fifteen minutes I'll call the cops."
"That's very generous of you, Inspector Babcock." I pointed at the station clock. "The time is now a quarter past seven. I'll make sure I'm out of here before the clock reaches seven thirty. That's when the big hand is pointing straight down and the little hand is in between the seven and the eight."
"I'll be most glad if you do," said Babcock. He went off to the platform.

It went through my mind that certain people are born with the urge to wear a peaked cap with a shiny eye shade and a leather top and a company badge on the rim at the front. Babcock was one of them. When he dies, I thought, they'll bury his peaked cap with him. Mind you, he was right: it wasn't my land and I was breaking into someone's truck, after all.

I looked into the truck again. I picked up the envelope and held it to the light. The sun shone through it and, better yet, the envelope was cheap, made of thin paper and unlined. I could see there was a bank check, drawn on the Darien Bank, in the envelope, with numbers along the bottom. I wrote the numbers down. If I remembered correctly, left to right the numbers were those of the branch, the account and the account holder. I could even make out that the cheque was made out for a thousand dollars and unsigned.

I was putting the envelope back into the van when Ella ran across with a small Baldina camera. Thank you, Mr Babcock, I thought, you've saved me from exhibiting my inadequacy to more people than strictly necessary.

"Tony says there's already a black and white film in this camera," Elsie panted, having run all the way. "Twenty four frames of thirty five millimetre, one hundred ASA film." She pronounced ASA as though it rhymed with blazer, a sign either of photographic illiteracy or of extreme familiarity with photographer's terminology. The second of these was more appealing. "Can you work a camera like this?" she asked, holding the Baldina out to me.
"Sure," I said as I took it. I looked down on more knobs, dials, pointers, levers, buttons and little glass things than Radio City. Well, I had seen police photographers using cameras like this one, and it didn't look difficult.
"By the way, I love your cock," Ella smiled, "it is really sweet and cute, and I wish more men would go around with their cocks out. I really love it."

My cock was limp and pointing at a spot on the ground three feet in front of me.

"It's yours any time and as often as you want it."
"I'll take you up on that."
"My phone number is 486-7463. Do you think you can remember that or shall I write it down on my panties and give them to you?"
"You have panties?"
"They're in the car."
"I'd love to have them but I'll remember the phone number. Phonologically your number spells gumshoe," she said, "so it's an easy number to remember."
"So if you don't phone me, I know that you're not phoning on purpose. What's the connection between my phone number and gumshoe?
"My parents taught me to phonicate," she said.
"And you've had plenty of practice, I'm sure," I returned.
Ella giggled. "I'm a good girl Monday to Friday. Ma and Pa taught me about phonication. I was four at the time," I was speechless, "and my Mom thought it would help me learn the alphabet."
"Now you've really bamboozled me," I said, nonplussed. "How did fornication help you to learn the alphabet?"
"People have the phone numbers they deserve," said Ella, still smiling broadly. "When you're next in a phone booth, look at the dial. G is in the same finger hole as 4. U is in the same hole as 8. M is in the same—"
"I get it," I said, "I never noticed that before. Phonication. So, do you have a phonographic memory or are you a mathematician?"
"Uh uh." She shook her head. "Just a make up girl with an inexplicable passion for numerology."
"Good thing," I said, "I hate mathematicians. Always showing off. You hear about the mathematician who joined the Mafia?"
"No," she said, sounding a bit scared. Who wouldn't, with the Mafia about?
"He makes you an offer you can't understand."
Ella laughed. "I really must go back to work," she said, "’cause Tony's probably giving me a make-up call. But I really love your cock. Small, sweet, and seriously cute. I wish I had one." She touched the top of my limp dick gingerly with her open hand, like patting a dog, and she asked, "Can you piss for me?"

I managed to pump a little urine in her direction as she watched, apparently fascinated. She took a step closer so that my piss splashed her skirt, stockings and shoes.

"That's not enough to make you really wet," I said, "I'm sorry."

"Gosh, I really must be more careful," she laughed, "it's a good job you didn't have a full bladder or you would have sprayed out a straight jet of golden rain like a fire hose and my skirt would be soaking and clinging to the curves of my sexy, rounded buttocks."
"When I need a piss, I'll hold on to it and call you over."
"Make it soon. Drink this," she said, handing me her bottle of cola, "the whole bottle, and when you've finished with the camera, call me over again. I might need my face washed. Must rush."

Ella skipped away, back to the platform and the publicity photographs. Hoping that I might see Ella again later in the day, I knocked back the whole bottle of cola. There was not a trace of alcohol mixed with it so naturally I didn't recognise the taste at first, and then when I did, I felt cheated.

I stood to the offside of the Buick first, normal procedure, and stared at the camera trying to work out what to do with it, which wasn't normal procedure at all. The numbers on this ring looked like apertures, the numbers on that ring looked like shutter speeds, and the numbers on the other ring looked like distances. I turned it to twenty feet, one one-sixtieth and f/8. Through the viewfinder I could see the Buick. It looked nice and sharp. I turned the distance ring and the car went out of focus, so I turned it back. I found the shutter under my right index finger, held the camera steady and ever so gently I pressed the button. There was a loud clunk and a whizz as the motor wound the film on. One down, twenty three to go.

I took a couple more pictures of the Buick. Offside, nearside, front and rear. Nothing about the car seemed suspicious.

The rusty Ford truck was another matter. I walked around the truck and took a handful of photographs, offside, nearside, front and rear. Then I stood behind the truck and stared into the load compartment. I went back to my car, parked it beside the truck and opened the car doors so that the sunlight reflected off the metallic paint into the back of the truck. No wonder real photographers had lights. I was able to take a couple of pictures of the load compartment showing the raisin packets, the matchboxes, the envelope and the library book. I went to the cab of the truck and photographed the faint bum print on the driver's seat. Then, remembering that this sort of camera takes really neat close-ups, I photographed the ampoules, the boxes and the library book. Finally I took close up pictures of the number plates of the van.

I had taken eighteen pictures, six to go. I thought I had taken enough pictures for now. I waved to the station platform and a moment later Ella came to collect the camera.

"Would Tony agree to process the pictures urgently?" I asked her.
"May I… touch it again?" Ella asked, looking at my cock. "Please?"
"Has the cola had any effect on you?" she asked.
"Not much."
"That's a pity."
"What did you put in it?" I asked, "I have to drive home."
"Nothing, but there's half a grain of caffeine in a bottle of cola and that's both diuretic and aphrodisiac, so your cock should be feeling its effects."

Ella took a gentle hold of my cock. When it stirred, she said, "Don't get too excited because this is just an assisted piss. Nothing more. Soak my skirt." She stroked my cock from tip to base and then held it so it pointed at her skirt.

I managed to spray a puddle onto her skirt as she held my cock.

"Now don't misunderstand," she told me, "you are not getting inside, but you can take a couple of pictures if you want."
"I've got six shots left on the film."
"We'll use those."

The first two pictures were of Ella smiling, standing and looking into the lens, being every inch the flirtatious young miss who once won a beauty contest. In the next two she did the motor show queen act, bending over the hood of the Buick with her skirt pulled right up, exhibiting her bottom in tight panties, revealing below her panties those tight, wide rubber straps that held up her stockings. Finally she posed for two pictures taken with her leg on the wheel arch of the Buick and her skirt lifted, so that by kneeling and holding the camera close to the ground I could place the gusset of her panties in the centre of the picture and in precise focus. In the last picture she unbuttoned her blouse and showed off her white brassiere, with the decaying ruin of Devil's Hook station in the background.

"I'll phone you when Tony has processed the pictures. By the way, he charges seventy five cents for the film and fifty cents for each print so don't say I didn't warn you."
"What? He's a rogue. He just charged me ten dollars for three photographs."
"Tough shit, lover boy. Standard rate for twenty four exposures is twelve seventy-five."
"I'm in the wrong job," I sighed for the fiftieth time.

There was a slightly awkward pause.

"You forgot something important," Ella said, and when I couldn't think of anything she went on, "You were going to give me your panties."
"Oh," I said, "I forgot." I fetched them out of the tangle of clothes in the Cadillac and gave them to her. They were blue boy-shorts and soaked through. "Shall I write my phone number on them?" I asked.
"486-7463. And thanks for getting your cock out. Really, I loved looking at it. Could I…"

Ella took hold of my cock, squeezed it, pulled the foreskin towards her a little, and while still holding it, kissed me on the mouth.

"That's a lovely, lovely cock," she whispered, "but it's not going inside. Sorry. Really. Whatever would Mommy say?"
"I don't know, but my Mommy would say I just found the most beautiful girl in the world, she wears seamed stockings and she thinks my cock is cute."
"But my Mommy would say I was a very naughty girl, I should stay away from boys, never think about cocks, and she'd very probably take my pants down and spank me."
"No," smirked Ella, "but you're not going to put it inside, so forget it." She kissed my cock lightly, took the Baldina and skipped off with it. As she left, I was staring at the hem of her skirt hoping that the breeze might lift it, like Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch.

I was suffering hell from blue balls as I climbed back into the Cadillac. Still, it wasn't every day that a girl as fresh and lovely as Ella invited me to piss over her. I wondered whether Malachi might think of dating her.

Just when I was hoping not to see him, Inspector Maximilian Babcock came walking towards me. I sat in the car and waited until he was within hailing distance. I did not have to wait long before he hailed me.

"Hey, you, I thought I told you to get off company property."
"It isn't seven thirty yet," I said, pointing at the clock, which said seven fifteen, the same as it always did, and probably still does.
"That clock stopped working ten years ago," he said, adding "you idiot" just in case I thought he thought I was a normal human being with a functioning brain.
"Did it? I swear I heard it ticking." I said, "Now, Inspector, be a sweetheart and stand back because I am going to reverse the car."
"Why should I stand back?" he asked. "I'm ten feet away if I'm an inch."
"You stand your ground at your own risk," I said, "because my glasses don't fit when I put them on backwards."

I swear Inspector Babcock took two steps back before he grumbled, "Idiots like you shouldn't be on the road."
"Perhaps if fortune favours the old, I can get a job on the railroad," I countered. "Until the dawn of that distant, magical day, farewell, Inspector."

I reversed the car, drove out of the car park and headed for the nearest main road. Inspector Maximilian Babcock watched after me silently with his mouth open.

Chapter Seven

I drove straight home and without putting my pants on I gathered what was now my washing together and carried it all upstairs, still with my cock and bum on show, into the apartment that I shared with Mom.

The door was unlocked and Mom was in her bedroom. I dropped my load of wet clothes into the laundry basket and called to Mom.

"Wait a second," she said to me, "I'm not dressed."
"That never kept us apart before," I said, "I prefer it when you're not dressed."
"Just wait for two minutes, tops, honey."

When she opened the door of her bedroom, I could see why Mom needed time to get ready. She was wearing a man's clothing: top hat, tuxedo, bow tie, dress shirt and even spats over her black, shiny four-inch heels.

"Like the outfit?" she asked, taking the top hat off and putting it onto the table.
"Absolutely beautiful, but what's the occasion? Is it National Sex Change Day and I didn't notice?"
"Yes," she said, "at least, it is at Grannies Bar."
"It's National Sex Change Day at Grannies Bar?" I repeated.
"Are you an echo now?" said Mom, trying to sound sarcastic, "I work at Grannies Bar, remember?"

If I saw Mom coming towards me on the street I sometines mistook her for Theda Bara. This time I might have mistaken her for Clark Gable except that Mom had a top hat and Clark Gable wore a carnation in his button hole. And I don't think Clark Gable had a long, thick rod in his pants the size of a saucepan handle and thicker, although he might have.

"You're a bit excited," I said to Mom, touching the saucepan handle, "do you want help with that?"
Mom jumped — "Oh!" when I took hold of the large bulge in her pants. "Yeah," she went on, "kneel on the floor and attend to it, darling."

I loved to hear Mom calling me ‘darling.’ It meant she had sex, and me, on her mind. I could never understand why a lady with Mom's seductive looks did not take a boyfriend but I hoped the reason was that I could give her everything she wanted. Mom had one nighters but preferred my company overnight to regular visits from a boyfriend.

I knelt before Mom. She rested her hands on my shoulders and manoeuvred the saucepan handle as close to my face as she could.

I began my pleasant task by fingering the rod through the clothes. It was ten inches long and about an inch and a half in diameter. It was slightly flexible, probably a hollow polythene tube, and the tip was rounded, like a large test tube. Without unzipping the pants, I slipped the tip of the rod into my mouth and I licked it and sucked it. Mom let out a sudden, intense, groan and pushed her hips towards me, forcing the rod into my mouth a little way. Mom cupped one hand around my head and pulled me closer.

Getting the flannel material of her trousers in my mouth wasn't a joy, so I undid the buttons that held the rod captive. Inside her trousers, Mom was wearing white satin panties. I slipped them to the side and worked the rod through the leg opening. It was bright blue polythene about eight inches long and it pointed slightly upwards. There was a small round opening at the very tip of the rod.

I held it in my fist, very gently, and I slid my hand along the rod.

"What a beautiful big dildo."
"It's all for you, honey," she said.
I felt along the length of it, as though stimulating its foreskin and I asked her, "How does that feel?"
"Ooh,, breathed Mom, "truly exciting." She leaned back a little so that her hips, and the dildo, pressed deeper into my throat.

I held the base of the dildo and slid the tip past my lips, sliding it deeper into my mouth. Mom thrust the dildo slowly but very firmly into my throat until I was gagging.

"Suck it," she said, breathlessly, "suck my cock hard."

I teased the dildo with my hands and sucked hard, almost violently. Mom started to pant aloud as I sucked her. Uh, uh, uh, uh, UH, UH, OH, OH, OOH-OH, AAH, OH my God, that is wonderful, SUCK me darling, UHH, UHH, UHH, YES! Oh, yes.

There was a click as a spring somewhere at the base of the dildo released itself. The dildo filled my mouth with sweet, sticky cream. I carried on stroking and sucking.

Mom had climaxed. I held the base of the dildo and Mom, always the expert love maker, did not pull away.

"It's only condensed milk," she said, "so it's safe to swallow."
"Will I get pregnant?" I asked.
"I hope so, son," said Mom, gently and really meaning it.

"Wait a moment while I reload and then you're going to get it bareback up the ass," said Mom, quite flatly and matter of fact. She went to the bathroom. I thought I heard the snap of the spring closing over a fresh load of condensed milk, and Mom came back a moment later with her dildo swaying from her kitty lips and a bottle of oil in one hand.

"Bend over," she said, "bare your bum and then get over the end of the sofa."

I put myself in position and I felt Mom pour some oil between my cheeks, then use her fingers to spread it around deep.

"Now, if you resist, you know what will happen. I can still spank you."
"I can't resist your cock, Mom. Use it with force."
"I will, son. This might hurt a bit."
"I hope it will," I said, "I prefer sex that I can feel."
"Put your hands behind your back." I put my hands behind me and I felt a canvas wrist strap going around my wrists and being buckled very tightly. "That's just to make sure you don't try to push me away," she said, "because I really need this a lot and I'm going to make your asshole throb."

I felt the tip of the dildo nudging against my ass hole and, with the help of a generous coating of oil, the next second it was an inch or two deep. It was the thickest cock I had ever taken. Mom was pushing slowly and carefully but very hard.

"Does this hurt?" she asked.
"No," I said, "it's pure pleasure."
"It will," said Mom, pressing the dildo forward with her hips.
"I hope so," I said, "otherwise you'll need a bigger one, made of chrome steel."
"I already have one," said Mom, "fourteen inches by two and a half and hard as nails. I used to give it to your Dad. He was scared of it."
"Use that one next," I said, "if you need another orgasm after this one."
"I'll wear it in bed tonight and fuck you senseless," she said, "so wear those pink backless panties with red embroidered roses. You look so feminine in those."

"Bend deeper," said Mom, and she pushed the dildo another few inches. My bum was being stretched and I called out to Mom to slow down for a moment. I tried to move my hands and I understood why Mom had used the wrist strap.

"Don't be naughty," said Mom, "just bend low and take it." She pushed it further in, suddenly and with a grunt. "Gah!" Again, "Ah, gaah!" The pain began and I started to cry suddenly.

"Mom, for God's sake!"
"Gaaah! Bend over. Just one more push. Guhh!"

The dildo was as far up my ass as was possible and Mom began to thrust her hips rhythmically. With every push, I moaned in pain. I loved the pain and yet I wanted Mom to be more gentle, and maybe to thrust less hard.

"Uh," called Mom, "uh, uh, UH, OH, OOH, AAAH!"

The spring in the dildo clicked loudly and released another load of milk into my bum. I had the illusion that I could taste it. Mom was sweating, very red faced and breathing fast. I was yelling and trying to cope with the feeling of being split open at the rear by a rod as thick as a telephone pole. The pain in my backside diminished with the cold load of milk.

"Did you orgasm, Mom?"
"Yes. Yes, oh yes. Didn't you feel me shoot my load?"
"It was so painful but so fabulous," I said. It was a very powerful show of love and domination.
"Can you still sit down?" she asked me.
"Definitely not," I said.
"Good," said Mom, "that's what I do when I love a man. No, it's what I do when I fuck a man, like I just fucked you. There's a difference between loving and fucking. You always hurt the one you fuck, by forcing a polythene dildo into his rear end until he can't sit or stand and there's blood pouring from his bum."

I laughed.

Mom slid the dildo out of my bum, stroked my backside to brush away the soreness, and then took the strap off my wrists. Mom lay down together on the bed and patted the space beside her. I took my remaining clothes off and lay down beside her. Mom kissed me hard and pulled the blankets over us.

"Be still, my darling," she said, "I will use the metal dildo tonight and you'll definitely be screaming."
"I scream with pleasure when you fuck me, Mom," I said.

We talked affectionate nonsense to each other for a few minutes and after that we slept.

The next thing I knew was the excruciating ring of the phone. There was broad daylight pouring through the bedroom window and the clock said it was midday. I dashed downstairs to answer the phone, and I could tell Mom was listening.

"Mr Corsair?" said a woman's voice, "This is the operator. I have a collect call for you from Cincinatti. Will you take the call?"
"Yeah," I said.
"Go ahead, caller," said the operator. I heard a click.
"Sam, this is Nicola, your wife."
"Ex wife," I said. "I recognise the name. It's not something you forget in a hurry."
"We're not divorced yet."
"We've been living separately for more than ten years, Nicola, so spare me the tear soaked plea for reconciliation. Whatever mess you're in, you got yourself into it."
"Giles has left me," she wept.
"I don't blame him," I said. "If he turns up here, do you want me to send him back to you? ’Cause I could give him his bus fare but I don't think he'll want to go."
"He's left me with all his debts to settle," she wailed pathetically.
"Gee, that's tough. You made your bed, you lie in it."
"I need four hundred dollars to get me out of this mess," she continued in a business like tone that did not contain any wailing. "Drinking debts, gambling debts… and as you and I are still married I expect you to share the responsibility for it."
"We are still married," I said, "only because I didn't feel like being taken to the cleaners by the divorce court and you could see the advantage of being married to my wallet while not actually crossing my path at any time. And by 'share the responsibility,' I take it you mean pay all his debts off.
"Yes," said Nicola, "that is a very fair summary."
"It's top of my list," I said, "above food, above rent, above clothing. If I ever have four hundred dollars, which judging by the last two years of self employment I never shall, the first thing I shall do is wire the whole of it to the ex wife who left me for a better man ten years ago and hasn't so much as phoned for the last five."
"Did you want me to phone you?" she asked, sounding surprised.
"No," I said, "many's the evening I sat beside the phone staring out of the window and reading the evening paper hoping it wouldn't ring and it wouldn't be you calling collect on the other end."
"You're bitter and jaded. Let me live with you."
"You're joking," I almost laughed. "You think I want you to move in with Mom and me until someone better than me turns up? No, thanks."
"I can't afford to live in this apartment," she told me. "With no income I might be on the street within a few days."
"Don't they have homeless shelters in your town?" I asked.

The line went dead. Carrying on the conversation wouldn't have achieved anything, anyway. I was quite grateful to Nicola for hanging up because, honestly, I couldn't have kept my temper much longer, and I didn't want to be the one who put the phone down.

I went back into the bedroom and sat on the mattress beside Mom. "Shit!" I said, "that was Nicola."
"Your ex?"
"Yeah, that Nicola, demanding money with menaces. Four hundred dollars or the bailiffs come around. Damn it, why didn't I change the phone number when I had the chance?"
"Don't panic. Let's get through the day," said Mom philosophically, "and tomorrow, things won't seem so bad. Don't you have a date with Katrina Aquitaine? She will take your mind off it."
"Yes, I have, and maybe she will," I said, realising that I did and she probably would. "First, though, while I have a spare afternoon, I am going to talk to the bank."
"About finding four hundred dollars?" Mom asked. "You're crazy."
"Nope. About a thousand dollars that I found yesterday."
"You found a thousand dollars yesterday?" Mom echoed.
"Yes," I said, "but unfortunately they belong to someone else. I need to talk to the nearest bank."

I grabbed my notepad and left the house in the direction of down town. The biggest bank I could think of was Eastern Friendly Bank and besides, they owed me a small favour.

In the Eastern Friendly Bank I asked the cashier if I could perhaps speak to the accountant because I was having problems with a cheque. "Yes," he said, "if you can wait here for a moment I'll ask Mr Blodgett if he's free."

I was in luck. Usually these guys are closeted with a wealthy customer discussing return on investment and dodging the Inland Revenue.

The cashier sat me down on a chair and five minutes later Mr Blodgett, a thin, careworn, grey haired man in a suit and tie, came across to speak to me. I reflected that five years ago there had been an armed robbery at this branch. I had been one of the officers sent in to stop it. A dented window frame and a missing cornice were all that was left of two gunshots that were fired in Blodgett's direction. Mr Blodgett probably owed his life and health to my colleagues and me. As for the cashier, he was still at school at the time.

I stood up to shake his hand. "Mr Blodgett," I said, "I'm Sam Corsair. Pleased to meet you again."
"I think I recognise you too," he said.
"You just might," I said. "Do you remember an armed robbery here in 1950?"
"It's not the sort of thing that I would forget in a hurry."
"I shot the guy," I said. It wasn't true but I thought it might create a better impression than the reality, which was that Officer Reilly shot him. Reilly came in the front door, saw the robber fifty feet away surrounded by customers and staff, and cool as a cucumber Reilly wasted him with one bullet. It was a spectacular shot. I was standing outside yelling into the radio over the wail of sirens when I heard three shots being fired inside. Armed robber, armed robber again, Reilly, and a sudden silence. As ice breakers go, my story seemed to work fairly well.
"Well. Thank you," said Blodgett, "How may I help you?"

I said I'd received a cheque, it looked a bit strange to me and before I tried to pay it in to my account I wanted to know whether it was good.

"May I see the cheque?" asked Mr Blodgett.
"Sure." The cheque, of course, lay where I had found it, in an envelope in the back of a Ford panel truck in the yard at Devil's Hook train station. "Damn. I've left it at home somewhere," I said apologetically. "How silly of me. But I made notes."
"You made notes?" asked Mr Blodgett unnecessarily as I opened my notepad.
"I'm self employed and they make me keep notes. It was drawn on Darien Bank," I said, and I read out the numbers. "It hadn't been signed. If I pay it in, will you honour it, do you think?"
"Darien Bank," said Mr Blodgett in a schoolmasterly kind of way, "is a small local bank in Panama which allows foreigners, that is anyone who is not a citizen of Panama, to hold an account anonymously."
"What sort of person would want an anonymous bank account in a foreign country?" I asked, knowing the answer before I asked the question.
"A crook would want one," said Blodgett, "drug dealers, big time thieves, embezzlers, fraudsters, mobsters, arms traders, foreign spies and saboteurs… just about anyone who had tracks that they wanted to cover. And a lot of money, of course."
"Would an honest man have a use for an account like that?" I asked, naïvely.
"An honest man couldn't afford an account like that," said Blodgett, flatly.
"So this cheque is from a crook?"
"Yes. Absolutely." Blodgett paused as though he'd just said something obvious, but then he went on, "Forgive me but… let me explain it to you, Mr Corsair. The law of Panama allows the banks to maintain anonymous accounts. Most countries and most banks don't want to get involved with international crime syndicates, big time fraudsters, billionaire oligarchs, millionaire Mafiosi and so forth but Darien Bank is one of the exceptions. Darien Bank is a local bank with four branches and it runs anonymous accounts as a profitable side line. A sort of saleable by product that keeps it solvent. Anonymous accounts are expensive and insecure. Anyone who knows the numbers can draw money out. Amounts are in dollars, no questions asked or answered, so these accounts are just what your average big-time criminal needs. In exchange the Bank gets high administrative charges, transaction fees, transmission fees, commissions…" He stopped mid sentence as though unable to think of what to say next.
"And an unsigned cheque?" I asked.
"Is perfectly normal. One, the Bank puts two stamps on the cheque to validate it, so there's no name and no signature. Two, the Bank won't put the stamps on a cheque unless the account contains enough funds to cash it. If the stamps are on the cheque — two rubber stamps, one from the cashier and the other from the supervisor — you'll get your money."
"You know a lot about this," I observed.
"It's my job," he said.
"And you're good at it. How can I find out who runs the account?"
"You can't. I can't. Even the F B I can't," said Blodgett, "and, believe me, they would love to. Even if you stormed the branch with a squad of investigators the size of the U S Army and you found all the paperwork related to the account, you would learn nothing of value at all. Darien Bank does not keep any document that could identify the holder of an anonymous account. All you need to open an anonymous account is a lot of money. A lot, in cash —euro, pounds sterling or dollars. They don't ask your name and you don't tell them. You get an account number and a lock number and if you lose either of them, your money's inaccessible."
"And?" I asked, in the hope of learning more.
"That's all I know."
"Mr Blodgett," I said with real gratitude, "your information is amazingly valuable. Thank you for your time. By the way, what's an adultery account?"
"No," he said, "I have never heard the term before. Sorry. It sounds like something I would prefer to stay well away from."
"Me too," I said. "And have you cashed a lot of anonymous cheques recently?"
"I can't help you any further," said Blodgett, "but thank you again for saving my life."
"It's my job," I said.
"And you're good at it," he returned, graciously.

I went back to Mom's and relaxed, meaning that for some hours I stared at Mrs Farthing's discarded letters, half awake, through a fug of Marlboro smoke. Mom was out enjoying her work at Grannies Bar, showing off in her top hat and tails outfit. The letters were trying to tell me something but I had not the foggiest idea what it was.

I had the evening all planned out.

At around five, I more or less came to my senses. I called Katrina and suggested she come and meet me in the Black Shorts Club on Linden at eight o'clock. Fingers crossed I had found her perfect boyfriend. Then I picked up Tony Dash's photographs of Katrina and I took them to the club with me.

When I walked into the Black Shorts Bar I didn't recognise the place. The doorman took my coat, gave me a number and ushered me in. In the corner, where the record player had been, was a trio of Black musicians on piano, double bass and saxophone. There were tablecloths on the tables. The area around the stage and the musicians had been cleared to make a dance floor. On the left, the bar was open with half a dozen punters already propping it up as the barkeep, whom I took to be Pierre Mantego, shook up some kind of cocktail. On stage was a beautiful transvestite singer in a revealing leaf green costume making a good fist of singing Cole Porter's romantic number, So In Love. I looked around for the boss, Joseph Short, but I needn't have bothered as he had already noticed me and he was lumbering across to me.

"Good evening, Sam," he smiled, "I suppose you couldn't stay away from this place."
"I saw the door and I felt this overwhelming compulsion to enter and look at some naked Black guys. I'm afraid it's work that brings me," I told him, "although I'd probably have come here anyway. You told me Honeybee might be here this evening."
"He's chilling out," said Joseph, "but if you go to the bar and buy him a dark rum, straight, I'll make sure he drifts over."

I went to the bar and ordered the dark rum, straight, and a double Glenkinchie, no ice, no mixer, and by the time I'd handed the money over to Pierre, a beautiful Black youth was at my elbow.

"Hi," I said to the youth, "I'm hoping to meet Honeybee. I bought him a drink."
"Who's asking for him?" he asked, taking the drink and wetting his lips with it.
"Sam Corsair, private investigator. Do you sometimes go by the name of Honeybee?"
"Yeah, sweetheart," he said, "because I've got such a bi-i-ig sting. Hey, this is good rum."
"Pleased to hear it. Mantego special blend." I lay the pictures of Katrina Aquitaine on the bar in front of him. "What do you think of this lady?"
"She's neat," he grinned.
"Your type?" I asked. The Scotch was not bad either.
"Yeah, dude. Blonde, busty, long legs. She's definitely my type."
"She's also single, lonely and dreams of meeting a fit, handsome Black man with a pole like a billy club. I'd like her to meet you."
"Any time," he said, "what's her name?"
"Katrina Aquitaine." I wasn't really supposed to reveal her name — what if they didn't hit it off, or if she had changed her mind about coming? — but I had already said her name before my brain had put itself into gear.
"Katrina, Katrina, I am so glad I seen her," sang Honeybee, "I picked her up in my pick up truck, and all we did all night was fuck."
"You improvising?" I asked.
Pierre looked on, amused. "That's Honeybee's other talent," he said.
"Where is she?" Honeybee looked around the club for Katrina.
"She'll be here around eight o'clock," I said, "so if you see her at my table, come over and talk."
"Sure, dude. Clothed or naked?"
"She'll have her clothes on," I said, "and so will I, unless there's something in the Scotch that I don't know about."
"Great. I'll take mine off," said Honeybee, "the jennies prefer me that way."

"I hope you will," I said, and suddenly I realised I was kissing Honeybee on the lips and he was kissing me back.
"Later," he said, "’cause I like to kiss first."

As his song ended, Constance stepped off the little stage and the spotlight followed him around the floor. He looked so convincing as a young female singer that I wondered where he learned to make up like that. The trio began up a languid and moody version of Summertime. Constance walked around the club, slowly and with elegant, graceful movements. He went from table to table putting his arms around the customers, lifting his skirt and showing his stockings and panties, bending low enough to reveal very feminine looking breasts held in a half cup brassiere, and whispering well rehearsed ad libs into their ears.

Constance was standing at the table next to mine, giving a white man in his thirties some very intimate caresses. Summertime concluded. Constance turned towards me. I admired his seductive eye lashes and lipstick. Constance waited for the band to strike up My Heart Belongs To Only You. He bent down to me, let me breathe his perfume for a moment, and asked very gently if I wanted to dance with him. Looking at his beautiful body in its sexy clothing I replied to him that I wanted nothing more. Constance reached under his skirt, slid his green satin panties off and stepped out of them in a single quick movement, and handed them to me, deliberately and briefly showing his bottom and his cute, small cock. I pocketed the panties, took his hand and led him onto the dance floor.

Constance held me close and rested his head on my chest in the way a lovelorn schoolgirl might. He was the perfect dancer, with the light and firm body of a young woman moving most gently and seductively with the music. He turned his head and looked into my eyes with liquid passion.

Joseph's voice came over the loudspeakers, "And now please welcome our next disrobing Black sex god, Seth!" There was half hearted clapping from the tables as Seth, a short, powerful looking body builder with coal black, waist length straight hair and stomach muscles as hard and flat as polished granite, came onto the stage and started his act by taking his white tee shirt off.

"Do you ever go to Sandy?" Constance asked me. The question came out of the blue as I held him close and moved my left hand in circles over his firm bottom.
"The fairground? Yes. Often," I said. "Lots of jennies looking for company."
"How do they take to halfways?" asked Constance.
"They love you. Really love you," I assured him, "but take care because a few of them have skewers, and they use them."
"Will you take me to Sandy?" Constance turned his sweet face and gave me his sexy look.
"Sure," I said, "But I wasn't thinking of going there tonight. It's Dress Up As A Member Of The Opposite Sex Night at Grannies Bar. You'd get on with the people there. You can come with me, if you want."
"I'd like that," Constance said.
"I'll meet you on the street outside at midnight," I said. "Just look for the pink Cadillac."
"I'll be there." Constance took my hand and moved it to his cock. As I touched it, it stiffened and raised a hump in his skirt. I took hold of it and stroked the shaft from base to tip. Constance drew breath through his mouth as the pleasure went through him.
"Nice balls," I said, weighing them in my hand.
"Don't stop doing that," said Constance.
"You haven't had it for a while," I said, rubbing the shaft slowly but firmly, "I guess you need an orgasm. Stay close."

I pumped Constance's cock carefully but firmly and it straightened and hardened. I felt the prostate start to pump his milk. It landed on my legs and on the dance floor. I watched Constance enjoy a moment of real ecstasy.

I noticed Honeybee walking across the club and going to prop up the bar. He was wearing nothing but a pink babydoll top and gym shoes, so that his massive endowment was completely uncovered. I managed to sign to Pierre that he should pour a drink for him.

"Midnight," Constance repeated, offering his mouth for a wet kiss.
"Pink Cadillac," I said, kissing him.

"I won't wear panties," he said.
"You can leave the dress off too," I said.

Katrina Aquitaine appeared close to us. "Excuse me," she said, "this is my dance," and she elbowed Constance out of the way. "Is he my new boyfriend?"
"No," I said, kissing him again, "he's my new boyfriend. Keep your hands off him. Yours is over there."

Katrina and I went to my table and took our seats. Honeybee came over from the bar carrying the dark rum, a Glenkinchie for me and a vodka and orange for Katrina.

"How did you know I like vodka and orange?" she asked Honeybee.
"Everybody does," he smiled.
"Let me know how you two get on with each other," I said, "I think it's best if I let you two talk."
"Sure," said Honeybee. Then he turned to Katrina and asked her to dance.
"Love to," she said, "I never danced with such a beautiful boy before."
"This place doesn't close until two in the morning," said Honeybee, "so we have plenty of time to get to know each other… Oooh! he breathed as Katrina took hold of his cock with obvious delight, "if you do that again, I'm all yours."
"Are there private rooms here?" Katrina asked.
"Upstairs," said Honeybee.

With my back to the bar I sipped my Scotch as Katrina and Honeybee climbed the stairs. Seth, now three quarters naked and teasing sensually with his white briefs, shook his head as he looked at them. I could not tell whether he was shaking his head at Honeybee accepting Katrina's invitation or at Katrina falling for him so heavily.

I drained the Scotch, leaned back against the bar, ordered another shot and stood watching the guy on the stage take off his clothes.

Chapter Eight

Constance and I approached Grannies Bar looking like a bride and groom who had spent too much time drinking at their own wedding reception. There were two security guards on the door, both of them carrying a pistol. I recognised the pistols. They were toys from a cowboy outfit. Someone else was probably wearing the 'Sheriff' badge that came in the same cardboard box.

"Fifty cents admission," said one of the guards. She was a girl, obviously playing her part in National Sex Change Day.
"Here," I said, handing over fifty cents.
"Hey," the other guard reproved me, "you're not cross dressed. That'll be a dollar each."
"My friend here is cross dressed," I said, "so I'll give you a dollar fifty."
"Your friend looks very much a woman to me," said Tweedledum, "so make her say something."
"Lots of people say that," I told her.

Constance said, "Good evening, ladies," at a basso profundo pitch that out-bassed Paul Robeson.

"Fifty cents," said Tweedledee.
"Here," I said, and I gave Tweedledum a dollar fifty. "Not a cent more unless it buys me some alcohol."
"Don't be so miserable," said Tweedledee, astonished that anyone would be leery of handing over money and getting nothing in exchange. "It's all for charity."
"This joint does something for charity?" I tried not to sound as surprised as I was, for fear of seeming rude.
"Tonight's all for Pink Axe," Tweedledee continued.
"Great," I said, not meaning a word of it, "and while you're recruiting for Pink Axe, how about putting Nannie Doss in charge of an orphanage?"
"One thing at a time," said Tweedledum. "We'll do that just as soon as we've put Claudette Colvin in charge of the Alabama bus company."
"I hope you do," I said, "because then I shall be able to sit on a bus with my halfway friend here."
"Here," said Tweedledee, "if you don't support Pink Axe, here's your money back."
"May we still go in?" I asked, taking back the coins.
"Yes," said Tweedledee, "you need to relax."
"Thank you," I said, "at least I have value for money."

The guards held the doors open and Constance and I joined the party inside. The first person I recognised was Mom, still in tails and a top hat, still with her strap-on dildo raising a tent-pole in her pants, collecting empty glasses from the revellers.

"Mom," I asked her, "do I look—"
"Hi, son, sweetheart."
"Good evening, Mom, love of my life. Am I too drunk to drive home?"
"Yes," said Mom, flatly and correctly. "I like your girlfriend."
"Her name's Constance. I think she's hoping to make a pick up."
"She can have me," said Mom. "I'm easy."
"If I stay here long enough, will I sober up a bit?"
"Yes," said Mom.
"Here's twenty cents," I said, "get me a large Glenkinchie so as I have something to drink while I sober up."
"I'll be at the bar in a minute," said Mom, "and I'll give it to you there."

I mooched over to the bar and looked around me at the company. Ten or twelve jennies dressed in suits or working man's overalls, and half a dozen halfways. Which was to say three halfways and three men pretending to be halfways. Pre-eminent among the halfways was Constance, slender, agile and startlingly feminine. I found my pack of Marlboros and lit one.

Mom came over and said she was going into the store room. "Come with me," she said, "because I need a hand with the heavy lifting."

We went through a side door and into a small room with hats and coats lying around on chairs and a rack of lockers with broken or missing doors. The window was of opaqued glass and the room was lit by two bulbs without lampshades.

"Is this the store room?" I asked Mom.
"It's as close to a store room as I'd allow anyone who loves their Scotch as much as you do," said Mom, acidly I thought.
"What do they store here?" I asked.
"Me," said Mom, "and now listen up. You left these important letters and envelopes lying around the apartment."

Out of her handbag Mom took the letters and envelopes that I'd found in the trash cans on Kings.

"Gee," I said, "I thought we had easily enough room for them in our desirable and spacious three room condominium."
"Cut the crap, Sam. This is important, that is, it really matters. I want you to put the letters back into their envelopes. The right envelopes, mind."
"What difference does it make whether the letters are in the envelopes or not? The letters are evidence. The judge doesn't care about whether the stationery is arranged in a neat and tidy pile. He's going to ask what's in the letters."
"Just cut the crap and put the letters back into the envelopes."
"Sure thing, Mom," I said.

I started with the receipt for artist's materials because it happened to be on top of the heap. It was handwritten in black ink. I leafed through the envelopes but I couldn't remember which envelope held this receipt and none of the envelopes was written in the same sort of ink, so I put the receipt aside for the moment.

The letter from Monica Farthing was written in red ink on pale pink paper with a cluster of flowers drawn in one corner. I looked for an envelope from the same writing set: the same colour of paper with the address in red ink, maybe a matching crest of flowers. There was no similar envelope, let alone an envelope that matched the paper, so I put Monica Farthing's letter to one side, on top of the receipt.

Bad guys two, private investigators nil, third quarter to play. The letter from Bryce, returning his invitation to a lecture was typewritten and only one of the envelopes was typewritten, so I guessed I had a match. I put Bryce's letter and the invitation card into the typewritten envelope and I said to Mom, "See, I have one. It's like playing Happy Families."
"Look again," said Mom.
"What do you mean, look again?"
"The typewriting is different. The envelope and the letter were typewritten on different typewriters. This print is smaller than that type. The p and the g are different shapes. What sort of man has two typewriters, let alone two typewriters that don't match?"
"A typewriter collector?" I said. "Mom, I can see the type is different but honestly, I have no idea what you're getting at."
"Then you ought to have watched more television," said Mom, obviously frustrated and almost shouting at my inability to see the conclusion. "Can you not see what's in front of you? I told you to forget about the bureaucracy, sit beside me on the sofa and watch Man Against Crime on the tube, but you insisted on writing up your paperwork."
"So what have you realised and I haven't?"
"These aren't letters to Penelope Farthing. They're letters from Penelope Farthing."

It took me several seconds to see the obvious.

"Say that again," I asked.
"These aren't letters to Penelope Farthing," said Mom, pointing to the pile of letters. "She wrote those letters. She didn't write the envelopes, but she did write the letters."
"You mean, this is a drop."
"Yes," said Mom, "these are dead letters."
"She wrote the letters herself and then put them into envelopes that were lying around her apartment," I said slowly, as the meaning of this revelation dawned on me, "so they wouldn't look suspicious. Mom, you've excelled yourself. The letters are messages and the envelopes are just junk, one from the electricity company maybe, or from a boyfriend, and another from whoever writes apologies to famous artists. The bad guys were going to come along and pick these letters up from the trash cans late at night, in the middle of the night when nobody was looking."
"See?" said Mom, "it's straight out of Man Against Crime."
"Which is why she didn't use her own trash can. Firstly because anyone snooping on her would go through the trash and take any correspondence in the hope it might contain incriminating evidence. And secondly maybe she is one of several people who put out dead letters for the bad guys, so the bad guys collect from trash cans on the main road."

There was a pause. I had to let this sink in. What would a pedlar of aphro put in a dead letter? This had to be an order for supplies, didn't it. Ms Farthing was ordering drugs for resale. Maybe there was no student called Monica Farthing, no art historian called Bryce, no miserable jilted wife plotting for compensation or revenge. The letters were steganographs: a secret message, or several secret messages, from the vendor to the supplier, set down on paper in a way that did not attract suspicion except from my Mom. The letters said, 'Dear wholesaler, I need potatoes, bread buns and meat patties, yours faithfully Macdonalds on Main Street,' only the retailer was not Macdonalds and the supplier were not potatoes, bread or patties.

"Say thank you to your mother," said Mom.
"Thank you," I said, really meaning it.

I took the letters and the envelopes. Mom and I went back to the party. Mom was behind the bar and I was propping it up.

I looked around and saw that Lara, from the Big Eat, had come along and was now dancing close with Constance. She was dressed as a railway official, complete with peaked cap.

"Lara," I said, "I'm pleased to see you here."
"Sam! Pleased to see you," Lara beamed, continuing to hold Constance close. At least she remembered my name. "Someone put a flyer on the bar at the Big Eat," she said, "so I had to come."
"Where did you get the uniform from?" I asked, wondering whether there was a fancy dress shop that specialised in workmen's outfits or whether, as I secretly hoped, she had somehow stolen Maximilian Babcock's clothing and left him wandering around the Devil's Hook yard with no clothes on.
"It's an official uniform," she replied, "I start work for them tomorrow."
"Driving the Sunset Limited, I hope," I said.
"No, just a breakfast waitress on the Eastern Goldfinch," she said, shaking her head a little. "I start at half past six tomorrow."
"Good luck," I said, "I hope things go well for you."
"Don't worry, I won't forget you. 486-7463," she said, demonstrating the power of phonication once more. A little indiscreetly she added, "I will phone you."

At the bar Mom poured me a Scotch and said, "Here. On the house."
"Thanks, Mom," I said, "and good health. You know, you really mustn't go through my work papers. There could be anything in those papers. Confidential stuff, secret plans."
"And letters from drug pedlars to dope dealers. You owe me, Sam."
"Of course I do," I said, "just kidding. Thank you for your help."

I was in the office when Tony Dash knocked on the door.

"Come in," I muttered.
"I bring good news," he said, putting a neatly written invoice on my desk. "One studio portraiture, ten dollars. One film and twenty-four prints, twelve seventy five. Sales tax, a dollar thirty six. Total, twenty four dollars and eleven cents."
"Didn't I hear you use the word 'good'?" I asked, trying to counter Tony's cheerfulness with a sort of miserable irony. "Sales tax? What's Uncle Sam ever done for me?"
"It is good," said Tony, "at least, it is for me."
"Will you take a check?" I asked.

Tony nodded, so I fumbled in the desk drawer, found the business check book and filled one out for him.

"Thanks," he said, grabbing it energetically before I had a chance to change my mind, "and here are the prints." He dropped an unwrapped pile of postcard size photographs onto the desk and added, "In checking my invoice make sure to remind your accountant that Ella did not charge you for her services as your model."
"And I didn't charge you for holding the reflector on set, nor Ella for taking pictures of her," I said, "which I am sure have already found their way into her portfolio. We're friends. We support each other. We help each other out in ways like that. You know how it is. A cup of sugar here, a ride to the stores there, three hours unpaid labour on an outdoor photo-shoot somewhere else. It all oils the wheels of a civilised society."
"I'd best be on my way to the bank, then," said Tony, slipping the check into his wallet and leaving me alone with my letters. Sales tax, indeed. I knew Uncle Sam would have to wait until Kingdom Come for it.

I leafed through the photographs. The pictures of Ella were distractingly flirtatious so I put them into the drawer and stared at the others. I had pictures of the Buick, the Ford truck, and the stuff I'd found there, among them two pictures of the library book I'd picked up. The front cover told me it was a chemistry nerd's tome about eicosanoids, which could have been a drug, or a new kind of cement for all I knew. I had had the wit to photograph the bookplate on the flyleaf. Ex libris Department of Chemistry, Pauper's College.

I started early and I headed out west to Edison, where Paupers College had stood for the last hundred years. The oldest and most beautiful building had, in accordance with some strange law of nature, been occupied by the college administration. There was a heavy street door marked Registrar so I tried there first. I asked the middle aged copper haired lady in the red sweater whether there was a student called Monica Farthing in the college. I said I thought she was in Fine Arts and I needed to speak to her as a matter of great urgency.
"Are you sure?" said the impressively filled red sweater.
"Reasonably sure. I got a letter from her."

The red sweater opened a drawer of a large filing cabinet and riffled through a suspension file. "Farthing," she said in the tone in which one asks questions, "do you spell that F-a-r-t-h-i-n-g?"
"Yes," I said, "like the British coin."
"She doesn't have a file here. You probably got her name wrong."
"Suppose it were an old letter and she already graduated?"
"She'd still be in the files. This college has never graduated anyone called Monica Farthing."

I needed to enquire further. I asked where the Fine Arts department was.

"Oh," said the red sweater, "we leave all that stuff to Princeton. This is a science and technology college. We teach engineering, mathematics, chemistry, electronics…"
"All the nerdy stuff," I said, "with which a graduate might earn a living."

It looked as though my trip had been unsuccessful, unless by 'success' you mean getting close to proving that Penelope Farthing had recently received a letter from a student who did not exist.

"Maybe the letter was in a false name," suggested the red sweater.
"Yeah, and a from a fake department as well," I chimed in. "By the way, Miss, what is your name? Just for my notes."
"Heather," she told me confidentially, "Heather Hernandez."
I decided to go for broke. "What's your bra size?" I asked.
Miss Hernandez was silent for several seconds and I thought I had extinguished the flame of lust in her heart until she said, quietly, "38D."
"Would you like a ride home after work?" I asked. "What time do you finish?"
"Two o'clock this afternoon," she said, "and on my way to the train station I always walk through the college car park."
"Seek out the pink Cadillac," I said, "because it'll have me in it. Just now I have to go to the college library."
"It's a good place to hang out," said Heather, "you'll learn a lot. See you later."

I wandered around the grassy square where the college buildings were clustered. I sought out the library: it was a four storey concrete block with glass swing doors. Inside, I stood out from the crowd by being twice the average age of their patrons.

A thin male librarian in a tweed jacket addressed me as though I were suspected of throwing grenades around the agriculture and agronomy section. "I'm Drew. May I help you?"
"Probably," I said, producing the photographs of The synthesis and biosynthesis of eicosanoids. "I'm Sam Corsair, private investigator. Tell me, does the book in this photograph belong to this library?"
"How would I know?" he asked, as though he were addressing an imbecile. Then I showed him the photograph of the inside front page and he changed his tune. He said unnecessarily, "Oh, yes, it does. That's definitely our book plate."
"Can you tell me who borrowed it?"
"That might take a little while. Can you wait five or ten minutes? Tracing late and missing books takes time, I'm afraid."
"Sure," I said, "this is my job, so I don't have anything else more important,"

Drew disappeared through an office door and I leaned on the reception desk looking at the customers. All that knowledge, all that distilled potential fairly stunned me: every one of these young men and women could expect to spend their lives building the world tomorrow. Here was a young man in a sweater and jeans who had forgotten to comb his hair, there was a young lady who couldn't tie her shoelaces, and behind her was another young woman carrying what might have been Radio Frequency Engineering for Beginners in one hand and a red plastic kazoo in the other. The future was in safe hands. Behind Miss Kazoo was Miss Red Sweater.

"Heather," I said, "I'll be in the car park at two o'clock, I promise."
"I just wanted to tell you," she said, in a sort of conspiratorial whisper, "Monica Farthing definitely doesn't exist. At least, she's never attended a lecture. I checked the registers."
"How did you know I was in the library?" I asked.
"You told me," she said. She stood very close, turned her face towards mine and kissed me on the lips with her mouth open. As she kissed me, her right hand explored my pants and stroked what it found there.
"You know how to please a man," I said. I ran one hand gently over her brassiere and I felt that, yes, she was excited.
"And I love doing it," said Heather, "especially to big guys like you."
"You know how to flatter a man," I said.
"Two o'clock," she said, giving me a tight squeeze with the right hand and kissing me hard, "have your zip open for me." Heather disappeared towards her office and when I looked up, Drew was already back.

"Were you watching Heather and me?" I asked him.
"Of course not," he said, "I came over to give you the name of the student who borrowed the book. He was Alvis Mills, who lived in a shared house at 60 Haines Avenue. He borrowed the book on the eighth of January nineteen fifty four and failed to return it."
"I'd best write that down."
"I already did," said Drew, and he handed me a piece of paper that looked like a luggage label with all the information about Alvis Mills and his lost library book written in a tiny, regular hand.
"Thanks," I said, "that's really useful."

I didn't expect to find much of use on Haines Avenue. Number sixty was a large house with white clapboard walls, a tile roof and small windows. There were two cars parked outside, both of them more costly than you might expect a student to own. A scruffy young student who couldn't find his way to the barber shop answered my knock.

"I'm Sam Corsair, private investigator," I said, trying not to breathe the foul, warm air stinking of dirty apartment. "I wonder whether it would be possible for me to speak to Alvis Mills." I also wondered how people lived in such places, but that wasn't my problem.
"No," said the student, "he doesn't live here."
"Who is it?" came the voice of a slightly older man, who was out of sight somewhere in the background.
"Guy says he's looking for Alvis," said the student.

I heard the older man take three steps towards me and then pull the door right open and introduce himself. He was wearing grey sweat pants, green socks and a yellow bath towel.

"I'm Alvis Mills," he told me in a perfectly friendly manner. "What do you want?"

"I'm a private investigator and I like to poke my nose into other people's business. I'd like a sketchy idea of what you've been doing for a living since you graduated last year."
"Graduated with a first class degree," he said, with justifiable pride, "not just any graduation. I got my hands on a couple of thousand dollars and I went into business with another graduate and between us we made some money."
"Which other graduate?"
"A mature student called Tokuda Hoshiko. He has a truly weird name but that's because he's Japanese. He got his PhD the same year as me. Nobody ever really understands another student's PhD but it was about drug delivery. How to pack and supply medicines. Minimise losses in transportation and point of use."
"What kind of business was it?"
"We invented the micro ampoule," he said, "a sort of Tetra Pak for the pharmaceutical industry. Tiny doses of liquid medicines of all sorts. My father owned some land and he sold half of it to provide us with start-up money, and the rest came from random investors. They'll do well out of us. Do you want to see my bank statements?"
"No," I said, "if that's your Aston Martin parked out front, I believe that you've made a pile of money."
Alvis smirked, "Anything else I can do for you?"
A hundred questions came to mind and I asked him, "Did you ever hold an account with Darien Bank?"
"Never heard of it," he said.

I thought about what to do next. I could force my way in, even without a weapon, and search for illegal drugs, but aphro was not actually illegal. I was not a police officer, I held no search warrant and although I didn't believe what he was telling me, I couldn't disprove any of it. Saying you never heard of a bank when you were fully aware of its existence might be regarded as unhelpful, but it does not breach any law.

"I might need to come back and talk to you again," I said as I gave up for the moment, "and here's my card, just in case you remember anything about Darien Bank. You can give me a phone call."
"Please do come back," he said, "You'll be very welcome."

There was a list of names taped to the mailbox, for the benefit of the mail man. Stupidly I hadn't noticed it on my way in. I wrote the names down: Gonzales, Mills, Myles, Staley, Werner.

When I drove to the college car park that afternoon, the security guard insisted that I park away from the college because I wasn't staff. I had to walk to the car park and I arrived at the stroke of two o'clock, and just as I arrived my new friend Heather walked onto the car park and made a bee-line for me. I threw my arms around her and we kissed passionately.

Heather was so happy, smiling and energetic that I felt I had never in my life met such a sweet and gorgeous woman. We kissed long and so hard that I could feel her lipstick. Her hand sought my cock and deftly unbuttoned my pants, reaching inside and lifting the shaft so that she could handle my cock bare. In the corner of the car park the security guard watched us with interest, and I was fairly certain that we were attracting the attention of some office workers, students and lecturers. Heather handled my cock with great knowledge and skill so that, after a couple of gentle squeezes, I could never have tucked it back into the pants.

"Are we going to my apartment or yours?" said Heather, making me absolutely rigid.
"Let's go to my car," I said, and we walked together the couple of hundred yards down the road, observed by a couple of dozen passers by.

We clambered into the back seat together and Heather demonstrated her technique. "You're going to be desperate to get into me," she said, "but I'm only teasing you. You'll get into me later, I promise."
"I'm desperate already," I said. My cock was straining to get into Heather.
"Tell me," she said, "what are your favourite panties?"
"Pink, transparent, designed to show off," I said.
"Well, there's a thing," she said, "put your hands up my skirt."

Heather's pale legs were decked in stockings and garters. I ran my hands over her panties and found two buttons holding them together at the front. I unfastened the buttons and bared her sweet pussy lips.

"Oh!" she gasped as I stroked her panty area, "that is good. Not yet, though."

Heather kept me on edge but would not allow me to penetrate her or to unload. It was an intense pleasure and she obviously enjoyed sex. She talked a lot, kissed a lot, and let me spank her bottom. After a long tease she finally knelt over me and lowered herself onto my cock so that I pumped my load.

"There," she said, "that was better than a quickie, wasn't it."
"Yes," I said, "it was."

When I awoke, I was still lying on the back seat of the Cadillac, it was dark outside and Heather was gone. I realised I never took her red sweater off her. Maybe some other evening, I hoped.

When I was reasonably well awake I got myself into the driving seat and headed back home.

I was home first. Mom arrived half an hour later, distinctly drunk and happy. She had enjoyed celebrating National Sex Change Day. All she said before we curled up in bed together was how much she wanted to dress me as a woman this time next year. I agreed with her. I wanted her to dress me as a woman, too. Far better to have an expert cross dress me than to try to do it all myself.

I made an early start, drove down town and knocked at the office of The New Jersey Better Business Bureau. A Mr Kelvin agreed to answer my questions and took me upstairs to a small office overlooking the main street. Mr Kelvin was a dapper fellow in a tropical suit, no tie and shoes that he must have set a slave to polishing.

I asked Mr Kelvin if he'd ever heard of two guys who, I thought, had moved to New Jersey a couple of years ago and started a business together. The moment I said one of them was called Tokuda Hoshiko and the other was called Alvis Mills, I could see by the expression on his face that he had never heard of either of them.

"Are you sure?" I said. "Hoshiko and Mills intended to start a pharmaceutical company. They raised some finance in the speculative investment market."
"I am sure I never heard of them," said Mr Kelvin, "but every year people start a couple of hundred new businesses, so I'll look in the files and tell you if there's anything on record here. I'm a bit busy today but if you can wait five or ten minutes I can look in the most likely places for you.
"I'd appreciate that," I said.

I looked out of the window, saw the people and the cars and the stores and I heard a distant train horn. Or maybe it was someone playing the blues on a harmonica in the next office but two. Whichever it was, it reminded me of Lara Beckue, who was at that moment wearing the slightly over-formal uniform of the Jersey Urban Railroad and serving breakfast to the business commuters on The Eastern Goldfinch. They would be somewhere near Secausus now, I thought, tidying away their possessions and preparing to take a taxi from Grand Central to whichever building they made their fortunes in. Lara had promised to call me and I still had hopes that she might.

Mr Kelvin returned holding an index card. "Got them!" he beamed, "they formed a fifteen thousand dollar company called Meadowpack Incorporated, after attracting eight thousand dollars of speculative investment and some private finance. I copied the important stuff here."

He gave me the card. Meadowpack Inc., it said. I wondered for a minute what the company name might mean, but there was nothing of significance in it: the name just looked less juvenile on paper than, say, Med-O-Pak, which was obviously what they would have called it — Med for medical and Pak for packaging — until they realised that Med-O-Pak sounded like a cheap battery made in a Far Eastern buffer state and given away free with a ten-cent flashlight. Meadowpack made pharmaceutical packaging, banked with Eastern Friendly, answered for a share capital of $15,000 — and its directors were Tokuda Hoshiko and Alvis Mills. The company's registered office was a letterbox on a building in New York, but the factory was out on an industrial backwater in Trenton.

A chill came over me. Although the courts regularly acquit and convict on the basis of a bus ticket here, a cash receipt there, a discarded cigarette end, a worn out boot or a single smudged fingerprint, you knew the bad guys would go to jail if you could go on the stand and tell the jury that you saw the bad guys doing the crime. Besides, it gave me a nice warm feeling of hard won victory as well as an easy day in a warm courtroom. For the first time since the Police threw me off the force, I would have to spend a night on a stake-out. Possibly even two nights, if the guys didn't show up for their appointment. It all comes, I thought, of working for a living. Had I stayed on the Force, by now I could've been enjoying leisurely, stress free days and nights in the comfort of the Traffic Division.

Chapter Nine

This morning, I nailed the meaning of Miss Farthing's correspondence.

It was early morning, by my standards. I heard a clock strike eight. I was in my office, sitting at the desk. I did the most imporant task first. After all, I needed to draw a salary from somewhere. I had heard no word of dissatisfaction from Katrina Aquitaine with the boyfriend I had found for her. I put a sheet of Sam Corsair Private Investigator headed paper in the typewriter and I relied on my memory for the figures.
Dear Ms Acquitaine,


Finding a boyfriend for you, according to your specification
2 days: $50·00
Related expenses: $14·50
Tax: $3·87
Total: $68·37

Terms: 30 days.

Thank you for engaging me and I hope to do business with you again in future.

Yours ever,
I signed it, addressed an envelope, and dropped it into the 'Out' tray.

Paperwork completed, I was now alone in my office with nothing but four letters ostensibly addressed to Penelope Farthing on my desk front of me. If it was possible, it was time to decode them as best I could. The meaning came to me in stages.

I made the assumption that Mom was right, as she often was. The letters were all parts of one message, not four different messages, and not received by Ms Farthing but sent by her. And I speculated that the message was, "Dear supplier, please send me so much of this drug and so much of that, here's the money to pay for them and this is the address to send them to." After all, what does a retailer write to her suppliers?

The only letter containing any kind of date was the letter signed Bryce. He enclosed an invitation to a function on 11 March. There was an invitation, which was a ticket for the function, and on the invitation were the time and place of the lecture. I checked the other letters and found no trace of any date on any of them. Therefore, the date of the delivery was to be 11 March and the address for delivery was the Jersey City Art Gallery, because that was the address of the lecture.

What about the payment? The letter that appeared to come from Montana Farthing mentioned paying roughly fifteen dollars into Penelope's adultery account. There was also a receipt from an artist's materials shop, in the sum of $14·24. So if this amount had been paid into the adultery account then the suppliers had been stashing the loot in the adultery account. So I knew that Miss Farthing had paid $14·24 for supplies. Of course, that would not stand up in court: I had no proof that this shop and the adultery account were one and the same. They might not be. But then again, they probably were.

Two down, two to go. I was halfway through the letters. Time for a cup of coffee and a Marlboro, I thought, and thirty minutes after that I was refreshed, reinvigorated and making sense of the rest of them.

What about the order? 24 Chinese and 6 Indian. It wasn't a nice nickname for them, but the Chinese were sometimes called yellow. American Indians were sometimes called red. 24 yellow peril, 6 red Indians. Which meant, I guessed, that the order was for 24 yellow ampoules — aphro — and 6 red ones, function unknown to me, at any rate.

Now I knew everything about the order except, infuriatingly enough, I didn't know who took the money, which meant I didn't know who the crooks were. I did, however, know that at 7 pm on Friday 11 March Miss Farthing was planning to give a lecture at the New Jersey Public Library. Conveniently, I had a ticket and today was 11 March so all I had to do was wait until 7 pm and look around the room for anyone acting suspiciously, as they say.

It was mid-day.

Then the bus driver shook me awake, it was three in the afternoon and I was in Fort Love. I checked I still had my thermos flask of coffee. I found the Meadowpack factory near the bus station. It was a small place, perhaps the size of a family bakery or a pizza joint, with three cars parked outside including Mills's Aston Martin. There was no obvious shelter to hide in, so if things called for a stake out, the stake out might be cold and wet.

It was three in the afternoon. Nobody would go home from work for at least three hours. I decided to sit it out and break in when the factory looked empty, and hope to find incriminating evidence of some sort that I could not imagine. I found myself on the street opposite The Speakeasy, and since it was nearest to where I was standing, I settled on a stool at the bar and called the barman over. I wanted a beer, a salt beef bagel and a pack of Marlboros.

The man on the stool next to mine turned to me. "Hey. Sam Corsair."
"Howdy," I said. I had no idea who he was.

The barman opened a bottle of Santa's Firkin and put it on the bar in front of me, with a half pint glass.

"Ain't you the wise guy who tried to get Tarsus Hinckley convicted?"
"I was a police officer," I protested, "and the guy was guilty. What else could I do?"
"Ha!" The man snorted with laughter. I had, evidently, inadvertently said something ridiculous. "You oughter find out what his son in law does for a living."
"I'll bear that in mind," I said, "next time I'm a police officer."
"It might have saved you a lot of grief," he said.
"Why?" I asked, but he did not answer me. He tapped his nose knowingly with his index finger and looked at his watch.

Just in case you've never heard of Tarsus Hinckley, here's the story.

Tarsus Hinckley made his fortune young. Just seventeen when the 1917-1918 war broke out, Hinckley asked for, and got, exemption from service on grounds of disability. Hinckley took advantage of his grandfather's position in the Manhattan Line shipping company to sell luxury goods discreetly to wealthy citizens of the belligerent countries. He could supply anything from canned milk to motor cars, antique furniture and even, on one occasion, an exotic household pet. By various ruses he never aroused suspicion, even when a news cameraman photographed him labouring in the Hinckley Distribution warehouse and playing golf on the Pine Valley links, neither picture showing any hint of disability impairing his performance.

After the armistice Hinckley went legit. He set up an import house, Hinckley Distribution, supplying European goods to wealthy American customers mostly by catalogue sales and mail order. Most years he made a profit although the great slump of the early 1920s nearly bankrupted him, while most of his earnings went to pay for a mansion in Jersey City and a lavish life style. He became one of the best known figures in business on the East Coast, often appearing on public platforms to endorse a colleague who was standing for election, or giving his opinion on some topic, which he freely admitted to knowing nothing about, to the newspapers or the radio.

In 1935 Hinckley met and married the beautiful Grace Kelly look alike Rita Farnham. They appeared very happy together, and Rita prevailed on Hinckley to stand as Republican candidate for the Mayor of Somerset County in the 1940 election. He was unsuccessful, an also ran. The vote went ten to one against him. Then in 1945 Hinckley again stood for Republican Mayor of Somerset County and this time he won narrowly, by less than a thousand votes.

Being Mayor is a high stress job, and in my opinion Hinckley simply broke under the strain of it. In 1948 Hinckley accused a Brazilian city dweller, a jobbing gardener called Primo Coelho, who lived in a poor area of Fort Love, of having an affaire with his wife. After a heavy drinking session at The Violets, a whisky and poker club near Coelho's home, Hinckley was heard standing in the street outside Coelho's house, shouting abuse. It was 3.23 am. Coelho heard the disturbance, called the cops and then made the easy, but fatal, mistake of turning on a light in his hallway and opening the door to investigate. Hinckley fired two shots, hitting Coelho in the chest and stomach. By the time the Police arrived, Coelho was already dead. Coelho's wife, Felicidade, was hysterical. Hinckley fled the scene and was found cowering and terrified in a phone booth on the main street.

I undertook the investigation. For three months a small army of Police officers combed Hinckley's mansion, The Violets, Coelho's house, and nearby parks and open spaces. We never found Hinckley's gun, and the nearest we came to finding a match for the bullets was an unopened pack of identical ammo in the drawer of the desk in Hinckley's study. We had statements from witnesses who had seen Coelho and Rita Hinckley together. We found a couple of items of clothing which appeared to have come from the Hinckley mansion in Coelho's home. The barkeep at the Violets was willing to tell the court about Hinckley's drunken binge, and his storming out of the club at 2.55 am. We also found a couple who had been making out after hours in a drive in movie theatre, both of whom had heard shouting and shots.

In November 1948, the Federal Prosecutor charged Hinckley with murder in the first degree and the case came to court. In front of the grand jury, the couple disagreed about how many shots they had heard, the barkeep looked shifty and kept repeating his sentences with alterations, and the judge dismissed the evidence about the bullets saying it wasn't even good enough to be called circumstantial. I was sure that Hinckley was guilty and I thought it was obvious that he should go to the chair. The jury disagreed. By fifteen votes to eight, the jury found Hinckley not guilty.

Buoyed up by the publicity, in 1952 Hinckley went to the House of Representatives, where he can still be found today, claiming that I falsely accused him. I was less fortunate. The Chief of Police bawled me out for doing a bad job and shortly after that, just after the 1948 Christmas party as a matter of fact, they took my badge and gun and they ushered me onto the street.

Back in the Speakeasy in Fort Love, my informant left without another word. Noticing that my beer glass was dangerously near empty, I ordered another beer and I started on the bagel. It tasted like eating salt out of the pan.

"This bagel is awful," I said to the barman.
"All our customers say that," he replied cheerfully. "What's the beer like?"
"Nothing special but it's better than the bagel," I said, "and by the way, who's that guy there?" I pointed to my former neighbour, who was now on his way out of the bar.
"Don't know," said the barman, "I've never seen him before."
"Was he in here yesterday?" I asked.
"Yes," said the barman, "but I've never set eyes on him before."
I lit one of the Marlboros. "How come?" I asked.
"I wasn't here yesterday," he said.
"So how do you know that he was… oh, never mind." I gave up. It didn't matter much.

The barman laughed. I found an abandoned newspaper lying on one of the tables and I sat there and read it until I had memorised it. Then I looked at my watch and found that it was after six and dark. I said thanks to the barman and went back to the Meadowpack factory.

The car park was empty and all the lights in the building were off. On the side of the building away from the road, three feet off the ground, was a window eighteen inches or so square. I couldn't be seen from the road and I probably couldn't be heard either. I picked up a stone and smashed the window, carefully picking out the shards of glass from the frame and dropping them onto the asphalt of the car park. With a great heave, I squirmed through the window and I dropped onto a hard floor inside the factory.

I pulled the flashlight from my pocket and with its help I saw that I was standing in a production area. If you were doing something covert, you wouldn't do it here: too many people around, and the first place any law enforcement would look. So I went through the door at the back of the room to the delivery area. There were some cartons and crates lying around the floor. There was a van painted with Meadowpack's design, and a roll-up door through which the van could drive onto the tarmac outside. There was also a metal staircase that went up through the ceiling into the roof space, so I decided to go there first.

At the top of the staircase, there was a wooden door marked 'Stores, no admittance, wear protective clothing.' I opened the door and I found myself in a small room that definitely was not a store. Along the left wall was a lattice of metal bars, to which glassware and rubber tubes had been attached. There were a couple of shelves of reagent bottles and jars of powdered chemicals. It looked like a small scale pharmaceutical production plant to me.

In the corner of the room there was a desk. With the help of the flashlight I looked into the desk drawer. The drawer was empty, but on top of the desk there was a manila folder with some paperwork inside it. I thought it likely that all the paperwork of the legitimate business was downstairs in the office, neatly arranged in a filing cabinet where the Inland Revenue and the Medicines Commission could find it. Then again, paperwork which the occupant of the office didn't want to be found was already discarded in the trash. The folder on the desk, I guessed, would be papers relating to work in progress. It felt as though there were five or six sheets of paper in it.

That was when I heard someone climbing up the staircase behind me. I tried the oldest trick in the book: I put my hat onto the manila folder, hiding it from view. Then I dived under the desk and hoped that whoever it was would take a look around and decide that he had imagined the noise I made.

Crouching under the desk I heard a voice say, loudly and clearly, "Come out with your hands up. I have a gun."
A few seconds passed, and then the voice added, "You're under the desk, just underneath where your hat is."

I realised he could see my hat on the desk.

"Don't shoot," I said, "I'm unarmed."

I crawled out from under the desk and stood up unsteadily. The voice was that of a young, Black security guard. He came over, waved his gun in my face and patted me down for weapons. I didn't have any. I prayed that he wouldn't shoot first and ask questions of my mortal remains afterwards. When he finished his search, I was still alive, so I knew he had a better nature hidden away somewhere.

"Who are you?" he asked, eventually, as he put the gun back into its holster.
"Sam Corsair," I said. "I'm a private investigator." As I spoke I picked my hat up by the brim, gripping the manila folder with my thumb. From where he was standing, the guard could only see the hat. He couldn't see me stealing the folder: as far as he was concerned, the hat was empty. It was a sleight straight out of Magic Tricks For Boys.
"Zachery Byrne. Security guard." he introduced himself. "You can stop investigating 'cause there ain't nothing illegal in here."
"Quite right," I said, "I ain't found nothing incriminating. False alarm."
"In that case," he said, "you take a seat, keep your hands away from your body, and don't move until the Police get here."
I remained standing and I looked him straight in the face. "Are you sure that's wise?" I asked, "in view of what you really manufacture in this lab?"
"It's my job," he said, "and Meadowpack doesn't make anything illegal. Hell, apart from a certificate of insurance we don't even need a licence."
"Look," I said, hoping to sound like the small still voice of reason, "aphro is a drug of choice in sexual assaults on men. In a few months, like it or not, it will be outlawed, almost certainly. Right now, the only thing you have to report to Mills is a broken window. I broke it. I have since taken a look around and I haven't stolen anything. If you phone the Police then you'll pay a much greater price than a couple of square feet of glass. The Police will put you on the list of suspects for every drug offence in the next five years, maybe ten. You will be guilty by association — your mug shot will be on the noticeboard of every police station in the state. You'll be in and out of jail for the rest of your life on charges of possession and distribution. I ain't found nothing. The Police might charge me with trespass, or with breaking and entering if you're lucky, but I haven't stolen anything so the judge will fine me ten dollars in exchange for you becoming a lifelong patsy. Do yourself a favour, Zachary, and forget I was ever here."

Zachary spent all of five seconds weighing my advice and then he said, "Get out of this building and don't come back."
"Sure," I said, "you're a wise man."

As I left, I tilted my hat away from Zachary so that he never saw the manila folder which, despite claiming innocence, I had now stolen.

It was cold and dark. It was also too late in the evening to travel back to New York, so I ambled down to Fort Love Station and looked around for somewhere to crash. I noticed a couple of hobos clambering into a passenger car in a siding, so I wandered over to them. Hobos always know the places where you can lodge free for a night without being rounded up and sent somewhere unpleasant. The hobos didn't speak to me although one of them waved a bottle in my direction: it was an invitation to drink socially rather than any kind of threat. I declined. The railroad car was in darkness but someone careless had left one end door unlocked. I climbed aboard, said hi non-committally, found a pair of seats three rows away from the hobos, took off my shoes and lay down for the night.

It was still dark when the lights in the car, and, more importantly, the heating, went on. The voice of a woman attendant called, "Time to get off, guys." The hobos scrambled off the train. I didn't, because I guessed this train was going to Grand Central and I was going there anyway. The woman came and stood near me. She was Lara.

"The train leaves shortly," she began in an ill tempered tone, "so get off and stop making this car look untidy— Oh! Sam!" She smiled at me. "Sorry I shouted at you. I am so sorry. I didn't recognise you."
"'Sallright," I said, trying to force my eyes open and lift my head off the seat. "What time is it?"
"Six thirty," said Lara, "we leave for New York in half an hour."
"I'm travelling without a ticket," I said.
"Don't bother with the paperwork," said Lara, "I can get you home."
"I've spent the night in this car," I said, "and I feel dreadful."
"There's a shower compartment for staff," said Lara. "Do you want to borrow it?"
"I sure do," I said.
"You take a shower," said Lara, "and I'll fix something for you to eat."

Lara showed me through a door marked Train Crew Only and into a cubicle with a shower booth, a towel and a locker. I put my clothes in the locker and spent ten or fifteen minutes enjoying the pleasure of washing the grime off myself. I heard someone outside in the station calling "All aboard!"

There were twenty or so passengers in the car with me and the train was gathering speed towards New York. When I returned to my seat I found that Lara had put an enormous breakfast out for me: oatmeal, fried egg, waffles, toast, orange juice and, of course, coffee. This was how you travelled if you were a real company executive, visiting wealthy clients, handing out cheques and largesse to suppliers and managing a staff of thousands. Lara was busying herself taking orders, but she found time to explain that the kitchen had some food left over and I was welcome to it.

"Will you join me?" I asked.
"Later," she said. "The crew always has food left over."
"So you all eat kitchen scraps?"
"Yes," she said, "but only because they're delicious."
"I'm very impressed."
"You should be," she said, pointing at the other passengers. "These guys pay a fortune for it. The man who didn't want this waffle here owns Standard Oil."
"And the orange juice?"
"The President personally sent it back to the kitchen."
I sat up with a jolt. "Eisenhower's on board this train?"
"No," she said, "but if he were, that's the exact orange juice he would have not wanted."

Lara giggled and went off to take more orders and wait at tables.

I found my hat and picked up the manila folder that came from Meadowpack's upstairs office. There were various uneven papers in the folder. On top of the small pile was a foreign cheque. Five hundred dollars, drawn on Darien Bank and with no signature. The two rubber stamps that I had been told to expect were present on the right side of the cheque. The payee was Meadowpack Incorporated. The numbers on the cheque were the same as those on the cheque I'd seen in the back of a rusted and decrepit van in Devil's Hook parking lot.

"I think," I said out loud by mistake, "I've got the bastard."

Lara was serving the table behind mine. She turned to me and asked, "Case solved? Got whom?"
"Sh!" I said quietly. "Not until I'm sure."
"Sure of what?" Lara asked.
"Take a look at this," I said, remembering Lara's gifts as a mathematician. "I believe this is a cheque on an account used by a bunch of crooks."

I put the papers and the folder onto the seat beside me and I started breakfast with the orange juice and the oatmeal.

"How's breakfast aboard the Eastern Goldfinch?" Lara asked.
"Superb," I reassured her with my mouth full, "very definitely."
"By the way," Lara went on, "I just heard that we'll be a few minutes late into New York. A freight train is running ahead of us."
"Never mind," I said, "I'm not in a hurry."
"So why don't you come into the baggage car with me," Lara invited, "and we can spend a few happy moments?"
"I'd love to," I said.

Lara took my hand. We walked through the Crew Only door again. Lara latched the door closed behind us, turned towards me, folded her arms around me and kissed me.

"You may take my panties off," she said after a minute or so.

I reached up under Lara's skirt and removed her panties. They were made of orange fabric with red edging.

"Very cute," I said.
"You may unfasten the blouse, too," she said.

Three large buttons held her pink blouse together at the front. I released them, and Lara hitched her bra up, showing me her breasts.

"You are truly gorgeous," I said, trying to stare in a courteous manner.
"It's all right," she said, "we're alone. Stare and touch as much as you like."

I kissed Lara's nipples as gently as I could. I noticed her expensive perfume.

"Now, lie down," she told me, "and just relax. Nobody will come in here." I must say, I have lain on cleaner floors before, but I really didn't care. I knew of a good dry cleaner near the office.
"Do you like the company colour nail varnish?" Lara held up her right hand, showing off the intense shocking pink colour that Jersey Urban loved to paint on everything.
"Yeah," I said, "it's beautiful."
"It feels nice, too," said Lara, and she ran her hand down my chest and, carefully and slowly, over my crotch. I was already erect and she explored the curves of my lower body. "Your dick needs more attention than any I've ever met," she said, "I hope your wife is grateful."
"That isn't the first word that comes to mind," I said, "but let's keep our minds on the— Aaah!

Lara unbuttoned my pants expertly and pushed them and my underwear out of the way. She began toying with the tip of my cock, trying to keep me excited without letting me pump my load. She parted her legs and let me see her little opening.

"You're about to climax," she said, "you can't hold on any longer."

Lara knelt across me, cowgirl style, and lowered herself onto me. "This is my favourite position," she said, "so push your dick in there, hard."

I pushed against her and in return she ground her hips against mine. Lara pressed her vaginal muscles together. She had been quite right: I could not hold on any longer. I felt myself pumping my milk into her.

Lara said, "Wow! That was something special."
"Yes," I said, "you went on the advanced course. I can tell."
"First class pass," she giggled.
Lara thought for a second, as though not sure how intimately she could talk to me about her feelings, and then she added, "I love feeling a guy's prostate pumping his load. It makes my orgasm pass right through me, starting in the vag and spreading outwards like fire goes through dry wood."

I was still panting after Lara's demonstration of sexual technique. I was too overcome to speak.

Lara stayed in position for a little while, then apologised and stood up. "You know," she said, "I really could get to like you a lot."
"Be my guest," I said. "I already like you a lot."

I sat up and watched Lara adjust her brassiere, hook her blouse back together and finally, making sure I saw her bottom as she did it, putting her panties back on.

"We're lucky to have enough time to make love," Lara said, very discreetly, after we had our breath back and we were sitting at my breakfast table in the passenger car again.
"Why, did the engineer go slowly on purpose, just for us?" I asked.
"No," said Lara, "but he might as well have done. If they ever build the northern track at Fort Love, we'll have to speed ourselves up by ten minutes."
"What do you mean?"
"There's been a plan to build another track through Fort Love for years, and it's never been built," Lara explained in a handwaving fashion, "and by the way my next shift starts tomorrow evening, so if you feel up to a re-match tonight I'll be sitting by the phone."
"I don't know your number," I said.
"In that case, I'll phone you."
"Promise?" I asked her.
"Promise." Lara kissed me again and let me hold her close for a moment.

I must have dozed off for a few minutes. Lara was gone, probably eating her own share of the breakfast cuisine or helping with the massive task of clearing up after a hundred diners. The train was standing in Secaucus waiting for the off. It was fifteen minutes away from Grand Central. I noticed a small sheet of paper in front of me, with a handwritten message.
Phone me. 382-5639. Lara
I folded the note and put it into my wallet.

I stared out of the window trying to revive my memories. Nearly ten years ago a local building proposal had come before the Council. It was Public Works Committee business. For a while the proposal was almost a crucial decision. I remembered hearing about the plan to add a track on the north side of Fort Love Station and build a new freight shed. If heavy goods could be shipped in and out of Fort Love, the argument went, there was a chance that heavy industry might set up shop on the near empty industrial zone. The plans had been drawn up in detail seven or eight years ago, but work on the project never started. That would date the plans to around the time that Hinckley was Mayor and also the time that Hinckley was arrested on suspicion of murder. Was the trial, or the Not Guilty verdict, anything to do with the abandoned proposal for the work? Surely not, but where there's money, there's muck. Had any kick-backs been given or received? I needed to spend some time reading old newspapers, that was for sure.

At 7 pm I filed into the Old Courthouse in Jersey City to hear Ms Penelope Farthing present her two latest works to the world. There were two rows of wooden church hall style chairs. A guy with a tape recorder stood a microphone centre front in the hall and stuck a small sign on it that read "WJFM Jersey City." Right at the front of the room were two easels, each of which appeared to support a board about two feet wide and three feet tall, covered with a piece of plain fabric, like a dustsheet, which Ms Farthing obviously intended to remove after introducing the work beneath expecting to hear a stunned intake of breath followed by an outbreak of applause. There were twenty three people in the audience, fourteen of us women and nine men including me, the radio journalist and two Press men with cameras. I noticed that all but two of the women wore the insignia of Pink Axe, a metal edged brooch about an inch long in the shape of, what else, a pink axe fashioned from opaque pink glass. A young lady incongruously wearing a man's chequered shirt, dungarees and a sort of Amish style bonnet handed each of us a mimeographed sheet of paper and an unsealed, empty envelope. She sat at one end of the front row.

I looked at the paper sheet. It was a simple catalogue.
African Cook
Oil on polished redwood, 40&dprime; × 30&dprime; portrait
Reserve $500

Metamorphosing Priestess
Oil on polished redwood, 40&dprime; × 30&dprime; portrait
Reserve $500
The clock in the rafters struck seven. Ms Farthing was nothing if not punctual. She appeared weating a red blouse and long white skirt and immediately began a short speech.

"With influences as diverse as Machiavelli and L Ron Hubbard," she began without saying "Ladies and gentlemen," "new variations are generated from both simple and complex narratives. Ever since I was a student I have been fascinated by the endless oscillation of the mind. What starts out as contemplation soon becomes manipulated into a cacophony of power, leaving only a sense of chaos and the possibility of a new synthesis…"

With one exception, her audience listened enthralled. I woke up when Ms Farthing said "African Cook" and pulled the dust sheet off the easel on the left. The audience obliged with an admiring gasp and a feeble round of applause. "African Cook" was a slab of wood painted wood brown with three red disks unevenly arranged in the bottom right corner.

"This work," the artist explained, "explores the relationship between Bauhausian sensibilities and copycat violence in African culinary orthomancy."

"My second new work," she went on, "is 'Metamorphosing Priestess.' What started out as yearning soon became corrupted into a dialectic of temptation, leaving only a sense of unreality and the unlikelihood of a new reality. Taken and examined as a diptych, these works leave the viewer with a hymn to the possibilities of the numinous."

Again the audience greeted the painting with half hearted applause. "Metamorphosing Priestess" was a plank painted a uniform beige with three vertical stripes of yellow, green and purple. Pausing to allow us all to gaze upon the paintings, Ms Farthing invited us to write bids for one or both paintings, put the bids into the envelope and give them to her assistant Iounia. Amish Bonnet stood up, holding a small wire basket which, I noticed, already had a couple of envelopes in it.

"Are there any questions?" Ms Farthing asked us, clearly not expecting any.
A woman at the back asked where the redwood came from. It was from a private woodland and purchased at a timber auction. All quite legal, said Ms Farthing, to sniggers.
Then a man on my right, thin, elderly and quite bald, wearing a herringbone suit, asked where Ms Farthing found her inspiration. "I am inspired by influences as diverse as Kierkegaard and Francis Bacon," the good woman told him, "new insights are created from both constructed and discovered discourse. But I must say that evenings spent under the influence of Halo often lead me along new paths to mellifluus."
"What's Halo?" asked the old man, painstakingly doing my job for me.
"A drug that frees your soul from compliance with the brain that enslaves it," said Ms Farthing, stumbling on a couple of words as though having difficulty forming them. "Any other questions?"

There were no other questions, at which Ms Farthing seemed quite relieved. I could see sweat on her forehead. I guessed her Halo habit was not a matter that one chose to discuss in front of a microphone and a sound recordist. I was going to ask about the drug Halo, but in front of the Press, showing my hand would've compromised me.

"No questions?" Ms Farthing paused. "When you have made your bids and seen the pictures," she concluded, "please make your way to the tea room. Feel free to write comments on the bids if you don't want to talk to me in person." More sniggers, then, "I'll begin opening the bids at eight o'clock. If the successful bidders are still here, and they can pay cash or cheque, they may take the paintings home with them."

Ms Farthing gathered up her notes and left the room. The man from WJFM began to pack the microphone into a box and the Press men carefully took photographs of the oils on redwood. In a few days, I thought, those paintings would have enriched Penelope Farthing by at least a thousand dollars. They would be hanging together behind a reception desk somewhere in some corporate effort to impress new hires with the extent of a company's commitment to creativity and understanding. I realised for the thousandth time that I was in the wrong job.

As the clock struck eight, Iounia was standing at the door of the room holding the wire basket and collecting envelopes from those present as they left for the tea room. I contrived to be last out of the room — actually I was last but one because the radio hack was still folding stuff away and caring for the magnetic tape he'd just recorded — and as I walked past Iounia I lifted my hat as though to put it on my head, and I knocked the basket onto the floor.

I apologised profusely, of course, but as I helped the poor envelope collector to pick up all the paper and put it back in the basket, unseen by Iounia, I couldn't stop myself slipping two of the envelopes into my pocket.

"Is Halo the drug in the red capsules?" I asked Iounia. I reckoned she wouldn't recognise me and anyway, the man with the camera was away eating cookies and drinking tea while the real story unfolded here, behind his back.
"Yes," she said, "didn't you know? It makes you dream while you're still awake. You should try it."
"Have you tried it?"
"I had half a capsule once," said Iounia, "and I spent half the day on the surface of Mars."
"What were the girls like on Mars?" I asked, naturally enough.
"Small and green."
I thought about that. "I'll give it a miss, thanks," I said, and I went out into the corridor before Iounia had time to count the envelopes.
Iounia called "Goodnight" to me, and I waved goodnight back.

I drank a coffee in the tea room of the Old Courthouse and I drove back home. I arrived outside my home at about 9 pm. The apartment was in darkness. Mom must have been working at Grannies Bar.

I sat at my desk and examined the two envelopes that I'd taken from Ms Farthing's wire basket. The first one was a bid for the two works of art. $1,100 for both pictures, it offered. Some people have more money than good judgement, I thought, but there was nothing in the letter about drugs. Then I opened the second envelope and there was an order for twenty-four Aphro. In the envelope with the order was a ten dollar bill. There was a first name but no address. I guessed that someone somewhere held a membership list of Pink Axe. The first name, whether or not it was genuine, would be on the membership list and in the same entry would be the name and address for delivery. Which told me that, women's rights or no women's rights, Pink Axe acted as a channel for the sale and delivery of Aphro and of what I now knew as Halo.

I went to bed feeling that I had accomplished something.

The smell of Liberty Ship Rum woke me as soon as Mom came through the door. It was about 4 am. Mom was home from Grannies and I was in bed, naked and asleep. Mom was quite drunk. Drinking was forbidden to the barkeeps at Grannies during working hours but none of the women who worked there seemed to refrain from accepting an occasional slug of liquor from their customers. When she came into the bedroom, Mom had already discarded her outer clothing, and she stood beside the bed wearing her purple bra, matching boy-short panties, garter and gloss stockings.

"Evening, big boy," she yawned.
"Mom," I said, "thanks for coming home. Were you wearing that outfit at work?"
"All apart from the bra," she said, "and a couple of Black guys felt me up."
"Why didn't you bring them home?" I asked her.
"I wish I could have brought them home, but Georgina seduced them from me. I feel so, so cheated."
"How big were they?" I asked.
"Massive," Mom smiled contentedly. "Slim guys, skin like coal black rubber, testicles like golf balls and they were showing off absolutely massive tools. Repeaters, and they really knew how to use their tools."
"Did they make love to you?" I asked her.
"Sure," Mom purred, reaching out and resting her hand on my cock, "do you want to hear about it?"
"Love to," I said, trying to pull myself awake. "I know how much you enjoy your job."
"Their names were Abe and Eli. I was behind the bar in bra, pants and stockings. Soon as they came in, their pants were off and their cocks were out. They made a play for me although Georgina was there too, they both made a bee-line for me. I couldn't resist giving their balls a tickle. That was it, they pushed me to the floor, pulled my brassiere and panties right off and inserted. Abe first, Eli second, Eli third, Abe fourth, Abe fifth. Abe must have been ten inches, Eli even more. I swear by Jesus Christ, they gave me orgasms like cross country runners in hobnail boots crossing a minefield."
"Is there a bottle of Liberty Ship Rum left in the city, or have you and your whores drunk it all?" I asked.
"There's some in the kitchen. Wanna share it?"
"Yes," I said, "let's waste the night in one long meaningless sex session."

Mom fetched the bottle and two shot glasses. She held the glasses as steadily as she could, which was not very steady at all, and I filled the glasses and made a small puddle of dark rum on the sheet.

"To good times," we both said together. We drank the rum in one gulp and we kissed open mouthed. "You are hot as a branding iron, Mom," I said as we drew breath. Then we kissed again. I threw my arms around Mom's neck and her hand began to grope and tease me.

I loved hearing Mom's drunken, seductive voice. "I wish you had a bigger cock. Still, no point crying over spilled milk, I'll choose a better endowed lover next time I want to become pregnant, darling. Now let's see how long you can last," she said, gripping my shaft near the base and pressing the prostate. Her hand was cold and her icy touch was deeply erotic.
"That's not fair," I said as my cock hardened, "you know that trick makes me pump."
"How about this, in that case?"

Mom climbed into bed and lay in a 69 position, mouth ready for my cock and panties ready for my mouth. I started to massage her crotch through her panties with my lips as her mouth took my cock.

"I know you must be desperate for some good sex," Mom whispered to my cock.
"And you're the best," I told her panty gusset in a quiet murmur, "absolutely the best."

I felt Mom's tongue licking the tip of my cock while her hand circled the base of it, holding it so I couldn't push it against the back of her throat where it wanted to be.

"Naughty boy," she said, not meaning it. "You can give me two inches penetration at most, you know the rules."
"You're a tease but you're wonderful," I breathed. Mom pulled me most of the way out of her tight mouth.

I put both hands on Mom's bottom and pulled her close, kissing her crotch as hard as I could manage. Then I spanked her bottom twice, hard: slap, slap! She moaned and pushed her crotch hard towards me, "Oh, ooh, aah!"
"Orgasm, Mom," I said, "you're going to give in first this time."

Mom's hand speeded up and stroked the base of my cock vigorously as her lips and tongue worked on the tip. I could feel her vag lips opening and engorging as her climax approached. I thought, this time, I'd make her reach her peak before me. Then Mom released the base of my cock and gently applied one finger to the sensitive spot just above my scrotum, at the back. My cock slid all the way into her mouth, resting against the back of her throat, nearly choking her. I felt my prostate contract hard and pump milk into her throat. I climaxed just before she did. I held her vag close and kissed it through her panties while Mom panted and gulped.

"That was wonderful," she smiled, "I really must let you fuck me some time. I think you'd be good at it."
"You think?" I feigned astonishment. "Don't you know by now?"
"I think you'd be good at it," she said, "because you were good at it last time, and the time before that, but no amount of theory can outweigh a little practice."
"Later on tonight?" I asked.
"Yes," she said, "yes, please. I shall be absolutely all yours."

Mom arranged herself right way up on the bed and I took her underwear off. Nude, she held me close and let me hold her as we both dozed off. Her orgasm had been so intense that her hair was damp with her perspiration.

"I have a date tomorrow," I whispered to Mom.
"Who with?"
"The Somerset Sun," I said, "1948 issue or thereabouts."
"Seven years old," said Mom, "isn't that a bit young for you?"
"Newspapers are best at that age," I said.
"So, where are you gonna take her?" Mom asked.
"We shall meet in the Jersey Public Library," I said.
"That's nice, dear," said Mom languidly, and she fell asleep.

Chapter Ten

I went into the public library in Jersey City and found the newspaper archive. The library was a magnificent, stately place. Outside it was a stone building with columns at the entrance, surrounded by a lawn and flower beds. Inside there was one main reading hall with wooden shelving, polished tables, carpet on the floors and a patterned ceiling. The hall was tall with a gallery. It was built to remind you that our civilisation is founded on books, and illiteracy is nothing less than a heavily armed and dangerous enemy at the gate. That peculiar characteristic of civilised societies, the daily newspapers, I found in a long line of volumes underneath a window and an electrolier at the further end. One bookcase was filled with bound volumnes of The Somerset Sun. There was one large wooden table beside the volumes, and when I entered the hall there was nobody sitting there.

Today's issue of The Somerset Sun lay on a sloping desk where anyone could find it quickly. The issues since January were held in folders. Issues from the very first, dated May 5, 1919, right up until New Year's Eve 1954, were organised into bound volumes, standing on shelves, in a long line that stretched over several shelves. Like most readers of old newspapers, curiosity drove me to start at the left hand end of the shelf. The first ever Somerset Sun, I discovered, splashed the riots in South Carolina on the front page and carried a display advertisement for Macy's and another for a long defunct bicycle store.

I wrenched myself away from the history lesson and steered myself to an event that took place in Somerville, or somewhere nearby, in 1935. Knowing only that Tarsus Hinckley was married in May of that year, I had visited the library in order to find out what his son in law did for a living. Hadn't a fellow drinker told me something about that?

Fortunately in the middle of January each year The Somerset Sun published an index to the previous year's papers, and the library pasted it at the back of the bound volume, where even I could find it. The index at the end of the 1935 volume told me that I should look for Hinckley, T. in the edition of June 17, page 8, column 2.

I carried The Somerset Sun, 1935 to the reading table. I was taking my notepad out of my pocket when I heard a girlish, tinkling voice call "Sam!" across the room in a stage whisper. Here was a pleasant surprise. Ella was walking towards me.

"Sorry, Sam," Ella said quietly, standing beside me, "I didn't recognise you with your pants on. What are you doing here?"
"I am confronting my nemesis," I said, pompously. "Tarsus Hinckley is the guy who got me fired from the Police force. He is up to something. I am gonna nail him."
"Don't be bitter," she said, laying her hand gently on my arm. "It's bad form, Sam. You can't plot a harsh and decisive revenge if you're bitter. Success is impossible without a clear understanding of all the facts and all your options."
"I suppose they told you that at Harvard Business School," I said.
"No, it's just me trying to make you lighten up a bit. How are you going to make the guy spend the rest of his life regretting that he ever crossed swords with you, if you can't think straight because you're wiping the tears from your eyes?"
"You're right, of course. I need to take time to think," I said. "More to the point, what are you doing here, instead of out playing baseball on the street in tight shorts?"
"Studying," she said, "for my college course."
"You're at college?" I asked. "I thought you had a job already."
"I earn a few dollars as make up girl on set," she said. "I have a flair for that. But it's not really a job. I'm really studying photography. I want to be a Press cameraman when I grow up. Today, for instance, I'm studying chromatic aberration in multi-element colour corrected lenses."
"After you've finished the science, the only things you'll need are a trench coat, a homburg hat and a big, heavy, impressive Graflex. Oh, yes, and you'll need an editor who lets you follow your nose when you smell a story. Choose carefully."
"I shall, in due course," she told me. "I'm only a student, I had to make myself a homburg hat out of old carpet with a sewing machine. I bought a trench coat at the Salvation Army for ten cents, and those plate cameras cost serious money so my mom gave me her box Brownie. I already have my Press card."

Ella held up her Press card.

"I made it myself, out of a toothpaste packet and some stuff I stole from the art room," she said. "Good, isn't it?"
"Press, 1955, Ella Rock, The Daily Wager, expires 12/31/55," I read aloud. "Say, this looks convincing. Apart from, I don't think there's a paper called The Daily Wager."
"It's a New York racing and football paper."
"Really?" I said. "I have lived in and near New York for an age, and I've not heard of it."
"No," she said, "I made it up because I didn't know what a New York Times press pass looks like. I figured, if nobody else knew what a press pass from the Daily Wager looked like, I was fairly safe."
"Has it worked?" I asked.
"Sure!" Ella laughed. "It's got me thrown out of every posh venue in New York State. But that's the fun of being a journalist. You get to enjoy being thrown out of the mêlée and then the paper prints your pictures with your byline. I'll be able to tell my children that I've been bundled out of City Hall by every mayor, film star, crook, politico and businessman within a ten mile radius. I'm all over bruises, but my end of year exhibition is going to be a blast."
I shook my head, considering the implications of that, and I asked her, "Do you do much forgery?"
"Just this and a 10¢ money off coupon for Daz."
"How did you get on?"
"I gave it to the grocer and he gave me ten cents discount," she nodded. "I should've tried fifteen cents."
"Ever try your hand at counterfeiting dollar bills?"
"How do you think I pay for lunch?" Ella waited until my jaw had finished dropping and then added, "I made that up. I take sandwiches. Really I do. My mom makes them."

Ella took the seat beside mine, stared at the bound volume of newspapers and asked what I was looking for in the Somerset Sun.

"I'm trying to get anything on Tarsus Hinckley in 1935," I said. "He got married that year."
"Let's take a look," said Ella, "I smell a story coming on."
"What does it smell like?" I asked.
"A rat," she said, sniffing hard, "I can definitely smell a rat."

It was easy to find the paper dated June 15 and turn to page 8. The page title was Society.

The first story in column 2 was about a hundred twenty-one year olds dining and dancing at the graduates and graduettes Ball in Paupers College. The photographer obviously arrived early in the evening, since all the graduates in the picture appeared able to stand up.

The next story was headed Mr Tarsus Hinckley and Mrs Rita Farnham, June 15, 1935.
Mr Tarsus Hinckley, international merchant and heir to the million dollar Manhattan Line and Manhattan Catalogue empire, married movie actress Mrs Rita Farnham…"
"I didn't know she was a movie actress," I said.
"Sounds better than stagehand," said Ella. "She had bit parts in King Kong and Forty Second Street. She shared a taxi with Shirley Temple once."
"How did you know that?" I wanted to know.
"I'm a photography student," said Ella with confidence. "a hard reading, hard memorising P. I.'s moll. So, it's my job."
"You're good at your job," I said. "Rita Farnham was obviously a remarkable woman." I carried on reading from The Somerset Sun.
"…married movie actress Mrs Rita Farnham in the Church of Saint Ambrose at Fort Love, New Jersey. The nave was decked with many vases of elegant flowers. The bride attracted much admiration in an elegant dress of white atlas silk and wore veil and tiara, her ensemble being the handiwork of society tailor Miss Joan Harrie. The happy couple received their guests at a celebration afterwards in their extravagant home in the waterside district of Jersey City, eagerly watched by many local residents etc. etc…
"Does anyone care about what she was wearing? There are even pictures of her in the damn dress," I said, and I read the caption. "The newly wed Rita Hinckley, pictured with husband Tarsus and daughter Maria, outside the Church. An official of the Wells Fargo Bank expressed his hope that Mrs Hinckley will live in a big house with extensive grounds and numberless obsequious servants and never have to worry about money again."
"Does it really say that?" asked Ella, who couldn't tell that I was making it up.
"No," I said. "It doesn't. I'm sure they meant 'for richer and for poorer' when they said it." Secretly, I had no idea whether they meant it or not, or even whether they said it or not, but I knew the phrase about 'for poorer' was unlikely to be tested in practice. Hinckley was never a poor man.
"And I guess that Maria must be Rita's daughter by a previous marriage," said Ella.
"That would explain her being born when the marriage took place," I said. "How old does she look in the photographs, do you guess?"
"You mean Maria?" Ella considered Maria's photograph. "Ten, maybe, or twelve."
"So by 1945 or 1950 Maria would be old enough to marry and give old man Tarsus a son in law," I said.
"Why would that matter?" Ella was nonplussed.
"No reason," I said, "I was just thinking out loud. Then again, if she did give Tarsus a son in law, I wonder what happened to him."
"Why would that matter?" Ella was a bit more nonplussed than before.
"No reason," I said, "I'm still just thinking out loud. But I have a reason to think he is an important part of the story. Maria Farnham would have married some time around the end of the war. Her husband might be just out of college, or just out of the Army, looking to start a career."
"Or he might be a lot older than her," said Ella, "sell his successful goldsmithing business for a million dollars and retire on a massive annuity. Look on the bright side."
"Yes," I admitted, "he might. I'm only guessing. That's what 'thinking aloud' means."

"Is that someone's phone number?" Ella was looking at my notepad, which I had lain on the table to make notes. She was looking at the number of the questionable Darien Bank account.
"No," I said, "it's a bank account. The account which, I think, launders money for the manufacture and sale of drugs."
"Does it belong to a marriage bureau, or a wife swapping club or something?"
"No, not as far as I know," I said. "I can't find out who it belongs to but it's an anonymous bank account in Panama."
"Well, there's a thing!" Ella drew a deep breath as though she were about to say something slightly embarrassing. "That account number spells adultery."

I was momentarily speechless. "So that is why Penelope Farthing called it the adultery account," I said after a long time. "I always wondered."
"Who's Penelope Farthing?"
I hesitated, hung between saying an artist and a drug pedlar. Eventually I said, "An artist," trying to keep secret what I knew. "I think she's selling drugs in her spare time, but I haven't proved it yet. I wasn't sure why she called this bank account the adultery account. I thought it was something to do with her endless affaires. But no, it was just the account number."
"Is Penelope a naughty girl, then?" Ella asked.
"It seemed possible. Anyway, turns out there was no adultery. Not connected with the bank account, at least. The adultery was only a mnemonic."

"Adultery," said Ella, "all depends on what you have here." She reached across under the table and took hold of my cock through my pants. "In your case," she went on, "you have a nice thick cock, which hasn't been relieved today. I can't wait much longer to get close to it."
"Can we make love somewhere nearby?" I asked her, suddenly very keen on putting my cock to good use.
"Do you want to commit adultery with me?" she said. "I don't mind, but you won't get it into me. We could get together in the back seat of that super Cadillac but we may not get another chance to do it in here… let's go and hide in the office. It's over there."
"How do you know that?" I asked.
"I come here most days," she said, "and I'm being trained to keep my eyes open. Come on because I can't wait much longer."

Ella took my hand and led me through an unmarked wooden door. There was a key in the lock. Ella took it out of the keyhole as we entered the office. We found ourselves in a small room with a desk, a phone and a couple of books lying around, nothing else. There was one window which faced towards the side of the building, where nobody was standing outside looking at us. Ella ushered me in and turned the key in the lock. She put her hands on my shoulders and turned me towards her. Our lips met and we kissed hard, and very sweetly. Her hand returned to my cock, deftly unzipping my pants and hooking my underwear to the side. She kissed me again and began to stroke the cock.

"I won't last long," I said.
"That's obvious," she said, "who did you last have sex with?"
"My mom," I said, "at about four in the morning."
"Your mom?" she said, surprised but not shocked or offended.
"Yes," I said. "She doesn't make me sandwiches so I reckon she ought to do something else to justify her keep."
"As household chores go, sharing your bed and playing wifey is an excellent choice."
"Yes," I said, "we did it once, late last night, and then we both went to sleep."
"Once is not enough for a big, sensitive boy like you. How are you feeling now?"
"Very, very good," I said.

Ella stroked my cock gently, stimulating me but not rushing me along at all. Then as her right hand held my shaft and pumped it, the left hand tickled me right behind the testicles.

"Jesus," I said, suddenly gasping with pleasure. "Where did you learn to do that?"
"At school," she said, "where else? Do you want to do something a bit unusual?"
"I can't see a chandelier that I could swing from," I said.
"No, but there is a fitted woolen carpet of the expensive variety. Since nobody ever comes into this room," she said, "you can piss on the floor if you want."

Ella changed her grip on my balls. She held me in a way that was not painful but which put pressure on some soft spot that only an expert in the art and science of love would know about, let alone find at the first attempt. Suddenly she aimed my cock at her legs and made me splash her and create puddles at several places in the room. I was spraying her, the wall, the carpet and the desk with a golden jet of urine.

"Good boy," she said. "Piss just a bit more."

She tightened her hold and I urinated with renewed force. "Wow," she said, "if you fuck the way you piss, your milk will bruise me."
"I do," I said, "do you want to try?" I asked.

"Uh-uh." Ella didn't want to go the distance. She kissed me and coaxed the milk out of my cock and onto her legs and her dress.

"I'll give you more later," she said.
"Please do," I replied.
"Don't worry about all the mess," she said, "firstly, it's the most beautiful liquid on earth and secondly the guy who uses this office will think he did it himself when he came in drunk one morning."
"Have you ever met him?"
"No," Ella answered, "I have never even seen him. I don't think he exists. I don't think anyone ever uses this office except me. And you, of course."

As my cock eased itself back into limpness, I noticed a County Administration Telephone Directory lying beside the phone. I had never had one of those internal phone books and it occurred to me that, some time, it would come in handy, for instance if I had to find someone with a particular surname who happened to work for the County. I also noticed A Text Book Of Pure Mathematics with a bright red and yellow paper jacket lying on a shelf. I picked up Pure Mathematics, removed its jacket, wrapped the jacket around the telephone directory, noticed that the jacket was only slightly too big for the directory, and I stood there while Ella kissed my cock and slipped it back into my pants.

"That is one cute, cute cock," she chirruped, "the best one I've ever seen."
"How many have you seen?" I asked, expecting her to say "One," or "Two."
"Forty or fifty," she said, as though the number were nothing unusual, "I told you, I went to school."
"And did all the boys have their cocks out for you?"
"About half of them. So I don't know what joys I didn't feel. But yes, any time I was flirting with a boy and the teachers weren't looking, their pants were down and their cocks were out."
"It sounds like a great place to work," I said.
"It would be paradise if they didn't make you pass exams," she said.

Ella turned the key in the lock slowly and quietly so as not to be noticed, and she and I walked out of the office, across the reading room carpet and back to the newspapers.

"When did Tarsus Hinkley shoot his wife's lover?" Ella asked me in a whisper.
"August 13, 1948," I said, "I remember it well."
"Speaking as a not yet qualified junior news reporter to a private investigator with some twenty five years of experience," said Ella, "I'd say it might be fun to leaf through the newspapers around that date. You never know what you might find."
"You're quite right," I said.
"But for now," she continued, "I have to go back to the physics of colour corrected lenses. You never know, any day now I might inherit a fortune and be able to afford a reel of Kodacolor for the box Brownie."

Ella held me close and kissed me. I had the sense that she really had strong feelings for me. She just didn't want to rush me into anything.

Hinckley's trial had begun on November 17 and I thought it might take a week before the jury found him guilty. It ended in disaster two days later. I decided to start looking though the local news on the 17th. Of course, on the first day, the Mayor being arraigned before a Grand Jury was front page news. The paper reported the acquittal on the front page on 20th, with plenty of explanation of how shaky the prosecution case had been and how unfounded were the charges against Hinckley. After that of course came the litany of incompetence attributable to the County Police, with yours truly accountable for the whole lot of it.

I didn't find anything useful in the news stories, but then I turned to the Society pages of the November 22 issue.
Mr and Mrs Argus Celestine Shad, At Home

Mr Argus Celestine Shad and his recently wedded wife Maria will be At Home to their friends and neighbours in their newly acquired ocean view home in western Long Island. Maria is known to readers as the step daughter of the Mayor of Somerset County while her husband Argus Celestine celebrates promotion within the Court and Justice section of the Somerset County Sherriff's Office. Mr and Mrs Shad are also marking the Mayor's recent exoneration in the Courts of any wrong doing. Invitation only.
An ocean view home must have cost the Shads twenty thousand dollars, possibly twenty five. Policeman's instinct, which is something that never really leaves you behind, drove me to observe that on his wages Argus Celestine Shad, flying a desk in the Sherriff's Office, could never come by such a huge sum. In his case, of course, dad-in-law was rich, but a perfectly good house could be bought for half that sum. So, I wondered, had Hinckley demanded any service in exchange for the price of an extensive detached villa on the shore line of western Long Island?

I made notes on the article, and then as I closed the volume ready to stand it back on the shelf, it fell open at a news story which had broken a couple of days later.
Mayor Hinckley Cancels Plans for North Track at Fort Love

The Mayor's office, which drew up and supported plans for a new freight track by-passing Fort Love train station, has cancelled the proposal without giving an explanation. A spokesman for Jersey Urban Railroad told this newspaper…
Between the second and third paragraphs was a diagram showing where the new track would have been built. There were a couple of new sidings and a freight storage warehouse. The storage shed would have stood squarely on the site that I knew was now occupied by the Meadowpack factory.

And everything became clear. I could see how Hinckley avoided justice.

All I needed to do to tie up the loose ends of the case was to make one short phone call.

"Hello? Sherriff's Office?"

It was 4 pm. I was back in my office, sitting in front of the Somerset County internal telephone directory that I'd taken from the public library. I had dialled the switchboard number, and if the operator ever answered I was about to ask for Mr Argus Shad's extension. My phone book, which bore the year 1954 and might therefore be a little out of date, told me that the phone in Shad's office was Extension 286.

"Sherriff's office," came the reply, after what felt like several days. Still, the voice sounded as though it was that of a deliciously curvy Southern belle.

"Extension 286, please."
"It's ringing for you."
"Thanks. Say, could I meet you for—"

A male voice picked the phone up and introduced itself. "Argus Celestine Shad," it said.
"Am I speaking to Mr Shad from Court and Justice Administration Office?"

So far, so good, I thought, and thank you, little phone book.

"Mr Shad, this is Hugh Ashe from the Personnel Office," I lied. "Can you spare a couple of minutes?"
"I'm really quite busy," came the unenthusiastic reply.
"This shouldn't take a moment and it's quite important. I have been asked to check that you're on the right pay grade for your office duties," I said.
"Yeah," said Shad, "they raised my grade in the middle of January."
"Just to make sure I have the right file in front of me," I asked, "could you tell me your social security number?"
Shad told me the number from memory, and I said "Thanks. Your pay grade is A3, right?" I asked him.
"A5," he said, "Mr Reeve promoted me to A5 with effect from…" I heard him pull a sheet of paper across the table, "Monday, April 4."
"Well, congratulations, I'm sure you've worked hard for the promotion. Mr Shad. It seems this form is at least a couple of weeks out of date. Now I have to correct this form for the record saying what duties you perform that meet the requirements for an A5 salary. So could you spend a moment telling me what your duties are? I know you're busy but it would make my life a lot easier."
"Basically I do all the white collar labour for the court house," he said. "A bit like a navvy but they don't let me have a shovel. It's general administration, no two days the same but somehow the weeks and months hardly differ from one another. I get lists of the cases that are ready for trial. I allocate times and dates in the court rooms, I notify the judges, the lawyers, stenographers, witnesses, and the Police and prisons of course, er…"
"Do you do anything else?" I asked.
"A bit more. I ensure clerk of the court has the Police and victim files, I make a random choice of jurors and I send them their citations, and at the end of the day I collect all the certificates of conviction and I send those over to the County Records Office."
"This is a stupid question, I know, but I have to ask it. Are the tasks that you do what you would think of as skilled professional work?"
Shad paused. I believe that, accidentally, he was exasperated with Mr Ashe of Personnel, although I couldn't have explained why. "Mr Ashe," he said, "I have a law degree and there isn't a day I don't use it."
"I'll take that as a yes," I said.
"It's a highly skilled job that needs a law degree to do it," said Shad.
"Great. There won't be any problem so don't worry about a thing, and thank you for talking to me," I said. "That's all the questions, so I won't keep you any longer. You've made the A5 grade by a considerable margin so don't worry about a thing. Goodbye, Mr Shad."

I put the phone down.

When I looked up, I noticed a couple of letters lying on the door mat. The mail man must have turned up late. One letter was hand written and the other one was typed. The handwritten letter looked the more interesting. In the envelope was my invoice to Katrina Aquitaine, accompanied by a cheque for $68·37 and a note saying, "Thanks for the introduction. He is worth every penny and he fucks like a battering ram."

If only every satisfied client were so fulsome in their praise.

The other letter was from my wife's lawyer. Pay up or else. I had no idea where the money was to come from. I put the letter in the file with the others and made a mental appointment to go to the church and pray for a bank transfer.

I called into the Big Eat for a hamburger and fries. Without Lara, the Big Eat was definitely the poorer. I doubt she missed slaving over a hot grill for a pittance when the luxurious accommodation on board the Jersey Urban Railroad was an alternative, but the Big Eat was definitely a duller place without her. After two large coffees, I drove home.

When I came into my apartment, the hallway was in darkness but I could hear Mom enjoying herself energetically in the bedroom.

"Is that Abe and Eli you have with you, Mom?" I called through the bedroom door.
"Yes," said Mom.
"I'll be on the couch if you want me," I said. Mom loved taking new partners to bed.

I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep listening to the three of them cavorting in bed, but even so, I poured myself a Glenkinchie as a nightcap and I curled up on the couch with Tonight Starring Steve Allen for company.

"Sam?" Mom called from the bedroom an hour or so later.
"Yes, that's me," I said, "And don't worry, I can sleep here."
"Strip off and join us," she called.
"Why, are those Black guys not exhausted yet?" I called back.

I stood up, threw my clothes off and walked into the bedroom, where Abe and Eli smiled. Abe was the older man, twenty or twenty-one, I guess. Eli was smaller, slimmer and had a very sweet, juvenile face. He was eighteen or nineteen. The boys had no body hair except that Abe sported a sparse triangle of pubic hair. Both the boys gave me a smile and a cursory greeting, and invited me to kneel on the mattress. The boys had gelatine lubricant glistening on their cocks, ready to give me the most rigid, randy ass-fuck in the entire history of the world.

"Are you enjoying this?" Abe asked in his rich Nigerian tones as his cock slipped inside. I was kneeling face down. He was kneeling behind me pushing his stiff cock deep up my bum.
"Yes!" I said, "push harder."
"See," said Mom, "I knew you'd like them."

I felt Abe's tool pump in and out of my bum with an action that felt like a parish pump. I was enjoying feeling his movements, his breathing, and the mild pain of the thick, hard cock forcing my ass-hole open. Then Abe called out, "Christ!" as he reached orgasm, and the tip of his cock released a sudden flood of hot milk. I lay still, not wanting Abe to pull away, and gradually the cock lost its hardness. He lay on top of me, his heart thumping. My ass felt comfortably used, bruised and sore. I knew I would remember this session any time I stood up or sat down for the next seven days at least.

"You have a tight ass," said Abe, "I like that."
"And you have a strong, sensual love pole," I told him, "which you can use on me any time, any place."
"You gonna regret saying that to Abe," said Eli, whose cock was engaging in a dialogue with Mom's lower body. "Some day when you ain't in the least expecting it, a Black guy will pull your pants off and ram his dick straight up your ass until it bleeds, and it'll be Abe come calling."
"I look forward to it," I said. "The harder he pushes it up my bum, the more I shall love it."
"You telling me that you like it up the ass, White boy?" Abe laughed.
"You know I like it. Do it again," I said. "I love it. Ouch!"

Abe's massive, perfectly straight penis was already erect again and as hard as an iron bar. I pulled my knees to my chest so that he could force it really deep up my bum.

It might have been three a.m. when I awoke. Mom was half awake. She had put on her transparent blue babydoll negligee and looked absolutely enticing. I could hear the late film ending on the living room television. The Black beauties were dozing off when I snuggled up to Mom and told her what I'd found out.

"You sure about all this?" Mom asked, sleepily but interested.
"No. How could I be? But at first glance, at least, it all looks credible."
"What are you going to do?"
"I am going to pull the sheet down so that I can see your breasts," I said, "and tomorrow I will probably confront Tarsus Hinckley with my conclusions."
"He's going to love that," said Mom.
"Yeah," I said, quite dreading having to speak to the man. "I hope I don't wet my pants."

Eli turned towards me in his sleep. I reached down and ran my finger tips along his thick cock. It was already rock hard and ready. Eli had a full erection in his sleep. I ran my finger along it several times, imagining it lubed and entering my ass. I kissed him on the mouth.

Chapter Eleven

At half past ten the next morning, I drove up to Hinckley's mansion, surrounded by iron fences in the wealthy lakeside district of Somerville. I introduced myself to the entryphone on the gatepost, and the gate swung slowly open so that I could drive along the path to the house, between the lawns, the flowerbeds and the palm trees. Hinckley was standing in his front doorway. He was a big man, broad shouldered and six foot two at the least, and wearing a lounge suit and tie despite being at home and away from work. He looked at me with obvious distate and said, "Look who it is, after all these years."

I recognised him immediately.

"Mr Tarsus Hinckley?" I said. "Sam Corsair, private investigator. I want to talk to you for five minutes. Could we go somewhere private?"

Without saying a word, Hinckley waved me into his huge wood-panelled living room and took a seat in a huge armchair. I sat on the armchair opposite him.

"This visit isn't about police business," I said. "I don't work for them any more. I'm only here in my capacity as a private investigator…"
"You were fired, I hear," said Hinckley.
"Yes, sir." I admitted it.
"For incompetence," he went on.
"For misuse of police resources," I corrected him, but he wasn't far wrong.
"That's incompetence," he said.
"It was," I said. "But at the time, I didn't know about the production of Aphro or Halo or where the money was going."
"And what have you learned in the last, let me think, seven years?" he asked.
"Not much. I've spent most of my time following cheating husbands and tracking down rent dodgers and sitting at my desk drawing bugs on scraps of paper and waiting for the phone to ring. But what I've learned about you is quite important in its own way. The Meadowpack factory was quietly making both drugs, Aphro and Halo, round the back of the factory, while putting its packaging business out front, where people could see it. They ran a sort of dope shop at a derelict railroad station and they even organised delivery runs. Someone, quite possibly you, infiltrated and subverted a legitimate feminist campaign, Pink Axe, with its political credibility, and used it as a sort of sales force and distribution network for the drugs. Pink Axe peddled the line that a woman administering drugs to a man and raping him was a means of achieving women's equality. In the midst of all that, you were elected Mayor, which gave you publicity and privileges. Then one day in 1948 you lost your temper…"
"It gives the guy a big, sore cock," said Hinckley, "it's just a way for jennies to get some decent sex. Nothing to do with rape. Nothing like it at all."
"Maybe we should talk about that later," I said. "One day in 1948 you realised your wife was having an affaire with Primo Coelho, who was employed in your magnificent garden. You took a couple of precautions against being arrested and sent to jail. One: you told Tokuda Hoshiko and Alvis Mills, who owned Meadowpack, to use their anonymous account at Darien Bank to pay a bribe, twenty five thousand dollars is my guess, to Mr Argus Celestine Shad, who happens to be your relative by marriage. The money was an inducement to select a jury of ex cons, whom you could rely on to be understanding. And two: in case Hoshiko and Mills demurred, you put your name to a civic development scheme which would have obliterated Hoshiko's and Mills's Meadowpack factory. Since they had to keep their main source of profit a secret, they would have received no compensation for it, and they faced personal bankruptcy and quite likely prosecution under the Factories Act. Or even the Medicines Act."

I paused. Hinckley looked wan.

"How am I getting on?" I asked him. "Am I right?"
"Ten out of ten," he said. "What are you going to do next?"
"Mr Hinckley," I said, "I think you and I have some sort of obligation to each other. On my part, I was a State's Witness once. I saw a man put to death in the electric chair. He had killed his wife and the police officer who came to investigate, he was as guilty as Old Nick and he deserved every volt. Now, I'm a civilised human being, I no longer work for the Police force, and I want to stop you being sent to the chair. You, on your part, have an obligation to Felicidade Cuelho. She'll never get over her husband's murder but some money would not go amiss, to make sure her kids can go to college and to provide her with an income in her old age. You're a rich man, Hinckley. Shell out. It isn't much to ask."

Hinckley sat in silence.

"Now I'm going to say goodbye and when I get back to the office I'll send you a bill. I'll ask you for $200 for my time and expenses. How much you give Mrs Cuelho is up to you. I can't enforce your debt to her and anyway, it's none of my business."
"And now you're off to tell all that to the Sherriff's Office?" Hinckley asked. "Or are you going to spend the rest of the day following a fare dodger for Greyhound Buses?"
"No," I said. "Neither. Like I said, I don't want to see you being burned alive at my expense and in my name. So I just played your get out of jail free card for you. Play the game carefully from now on because nobody ever gets two of those. I don't have a client for this investigation. The best thing about not having a client is I don't have to write any reports. The bad thing is there will be no headlines, no names and no packdrill. The job was great fun, I spread my wings, I am reminded that there are still some big jobs and egregious crooks out there waiting to be laid low and what's more, I feel vindicated after being downright humiliated when your trial—"

The phone on Hinckley's table rang loudly, interrupting me. Hinckley picked it up.

I couldn't hear the voice on the other end of the phone, but Hinckley replied "Send them in."

A Military Policeman in uniform threw the door open and came to within three feet of me. I looked around and through the window I saw a second MP standing in the garden holding a sniper rifle.

"Hi," Hinckley said to the MP, "glad you could make it."
"You!" The MP shouted at me. "Remain seated. If you make any sudden move it'll be the last damned thing you ever do."
"Can you get that carved on my tombstone?" I asked him, as I sat as still as I knew how. "Here lies Sam Corsair, Private Investigator, 1901-1945, who died of lead poisoning after making a sudden move in contravention of orders. May he rest—"
"Shut it," said the MP.
"Yes, Sir," I said. "Sorry. Do you happen to have your MP identity card—"
"Shut it."

The MP saluted as an old soldier came into the room, looked around and told him to stand easy. He must have been sixty years old. He was of a kindly appearance, with receding grey hair and pebble glasses. He wore two campaign medals. "I'm General Donald Leach," he told me in an unmistakable Southern English accent, "and I'm from the Department of Defense, Covert Operations." He held up a convincing Department of Defense ID card.
"Sounds exciting," I said. "I bet you enjoy your job. How can I help the Department of Defense?"
"Forget you ever met Tarsus Hinckley," he said, "that would be the best thing."
"Do explain why," I invited him.

General Leach looked at Hinckley, who nodded. The General wanted reassurance that explaining what was going on would not break any laws or confidences.

"The United States is about to join the Viet Nam conflict," he said. "The drug Halo is our most effective non physical, non violent means of of getting enemy prisoners to talk."
"You run a drug factory so that you can ask illiterate peasants, impecunious Asian rice growers and pig farmers where the Chinese troops go for a drink in the evenings?" I was incredulous. "If they're withholding such valuable information, why don't you just hit the prisoners in the face with a baseball bat, like the Japanese do?"
"Farmers? Peasants? Those men are Commie soldiers. Trained agents, Corsair. Hard, tough guys. They know exactly how to resist brutality and torture during interrogations — not that we ever use the T word. We need ways of questioning them that they haven't prepared themselves for. Halo works. It works on volunteers. Disorientation, delusions, hallucinations, plus a full recovery afterwards. Two milligrams of Halo intravenously, and they spend the next twenty four hours telling us everything they know. They sing like canaries. Then the next day they go back to pretending to be illiterate hewers of wood, drawers of water and tillers of the soil."

It took me a few minutes to understand what that implied.

"Which is why the Drug Squad have been warned off investigating where the Aphro comes from," I said.
"Absolutely," said General Leach. "Aphro is a useful by-product. It kicks the autonomic nervous system. Administered on top of Halo…"
"I can imagine," I said, "and as far as Meadowpack is concerned, some Aphro and some Halo leak out of the factory onto the black market, which gives them a big profit and you a useful slush fund."
"Exactly," said Leach, "so now, please be so good as to come with us to the Police station."
"No thanks," I said, "I've been there enough times and anyway, it's my coffee break."
"I think perhaps you don't understand, Corsair. You don't have any choice in the matter. You come with us, or my colleagues here have my orders to shoot you."

The four of us, Leach, two MPs and I, walked out of the house together and along the driveway. Hinckley closed the front door after we left. Through the iron railings of Hinckley's garden, I thought I saw Ella. She was staring towards the lake and appeared to be photographing the plentiful water fowl. On a practice assignment, no doubt. She didn't notice me and, since the MPs had orders to open fire any time they felt like it, I didn't do anything to attract her attention.

One MP drove the General and me to the police station in a dusty Jeep, while the other demanded my keys and drove my car behind it. When we arrived, the detachment marched me up to the front desk in formation: me in front, the General behind me and the MPs on either side of us. To my relief the sergeant on duty was Reilly. He winked at me surreptitiously.

"Sergeant," Leach ordered, "intern this man for the duration of the emergency."
"Why, it's Sam Corsair," Reilly grinned. "He's an old lag. What's he done this time?"
"Possession of secret information of value to an enemy of the United States."
"That's pretty bad," said Reilly, shaking his head thoughtfully. "You've caught a latter-day man in the iron mask. Thank you for drawing him to our attention."
"You don't seem to be doing very much about it," said the General after a few seconds of silence. "What action do you intend to take?"
"I shall interrogate the prisoner and if he has learned anything that might be of value to an enemy he will be spending the rest of the war in jail."
"War?" I asked. "What war? Is there a war on?"
"They haven't started it yet," said Reilly in an authoritative tone. "So be quiet. You'll have your turn to talk later. It's not so bad being an intern in a US jail. You can wear your own clothes and your mail isn't censored."
"That sounds all right," I said. "After working for a living all these years, I'm looking forward to it. May I have my own kettle in the cell?"
"I'll ask the Warden," said Reilly. "Thank you for your prompt and decisive action," he said to the Army squad.

Reilly saluted the three of them. They saluted back, turned about sharply and walked back to their Jeep.

As soon as they had driven out of sight, Reilly burst out laughing. He continued to laugh for a couple of minutes before he regained his composure.

"Sometimes I do not know how I keep a straight face in this office." Reilly looked at me, still grinning from ear to ear. "Sam, what information do you have that might be of value to an enemy of the United States?"
"None at all," I said.
"Fine," said Reilly, still chortling, "I've interrogated you and you have satisfied me that the allegation against you has no foundation." He fumbled around on his desk and found my car keys, which one of the MPs had thrown there. Giving me the keys he added, "I think it's best we stop wasting one another's time. You have a nice day, Sam. See yourself out."
I turned to leave and Reilly called after me, "And give that representative Hell. I'm a taxpayer too, y'know. Don't forget."
"I shall," I said. "He's earned it."

I left the police station with Reilly's loud, hysterical laugh echoing along the corridor.

I opened the door of the Cadillac and I found Ella sitting half asleep in the passenger seat, cradling her Box Brownie. She quite startled me.

"Hi," she said. "Can you give me a ride home?"
"Sure," I said. "Were you out here on manoeuvres?"
"Not quite," she told me. "I knew you were coming this way so I stood where I could see the front door of the mansion. Then it all happened. I photographed the Army marching you out of Hinckley's front door at gunpoint. In Kodacolor. I bought one roll specially. That ought to make the front page of the Somerset Sun."
"Besides being a first class picture for your end of year exhibition," I said. "How did you do it? You didn't even look in my direction."
"First thing they taught me about cameras: read the manual. The Box Brownie has two reflex mirror viewfinders. I don't have to look towards you when I take your picture. I was standing facing towards the lake but I pointed the camera at you and your friends. The viewfinder works sideways on. If I'd used a Press camera, the goons would probably have shot at me."
"Well, I'll be," I said. "They didn't notice a thing."

I drove the Cadillac out of the police station car park and onto the highway towards Jersey City.

"I'm not in much of a hurry," said Ella, "in case you need to stop and get a massage or something."
"Don't be absurd," I said without thinking. "Where could I do that?"
"I don't know," said Ella. "Does this car have a back seat?"
"Yes," I said. "I know just the place. Do you want a Marlboro?"
"Give me two and I'll light them both," she said, always mindful of her etiquette, "and I'll give one to you."

I passed her the pack of cigarettes and the matchbook.

We sat breathing the sweet tobacco smoke for a while, and then I asked Ella, "Did you really make a homburg out of old carpet?"
"Yes!" she said. "But not for college. I made it for a fancy dress party at school. I made the homburg, bought a used trench coat, made a Press pass out of a luggage label and a huge camera out of a cardboard carton and some buttons. I wore a jacket, tie and trousers, stuck the Press pass into the hat band and wearing all that, I looked the part exactly."
"That's real dedication to your vocation. How did you look?"
"Realistic, especially when I shouted, 'Over here, Mr Eisenhower.'"

We drove on in silence for a couple of minutes, and then Ella asked me, "Do you ever go to Sandy?"
"Yes, I do," I said. "It's my favourite way to relax."
"Will you take me with you?"
"Take you to Sandy? Well, I'd love to, but you don't look like the sort of girl who's desperate to have meaningless sex with a dozen nameless boys in one night. You have to be forty years old, bored out of your skull and stuck in a lifeless marriage to do that."
"Appearances can be deceptive," she said.
"Well, in that case," I said, "if you really want to come, I think I could spend a few hours on Sandy with you."

I went to the office two days later and on the mat I found an envelope with a handwritten letter and a couple of cheques.
Thank you for the "Get Out Of Jail Free" card. I owe my life to you. Please find payment of your invoice and please donate the value of the second cheque anonymously to Felicidade Coelho.
Passing the donation on to Felicidade Coelho was easy. I wrote a cheque on my own account and put it into my wallet. Sooner or later I would drive to her house, whose address I could still remember, and give it to her with some story about it being compensation paid by some charity based in the Mayor's office.

Then there was a knock on the door and Ella walked in, carrying a brown paper carrier bag. She wore her warm coat and cold weather shoes: it might have taken an hour to get here, and it was still only nine in the morning and chilly.

"Sam?" she smiled. "I'm so glad you're around. Here, these are for you."

Ella gave me the carrier bag. In it were two framed five by eight colour pictures of me being marched out of Tarsus Hinckley's luxurious residence by two Military Policemen and a Department of Defense top brass.

"Good pictures," I said, "Make sure the newspapers run them."
"They will," she said, "And you'll be famous."

I opened the desk drawer, lifted the lid of my petty cash tin, riffled through the contents and I was pleased to note that, quite by chance, I had more than two hundred dollars, so I could cash the smaller cheque later in the day and replenish the cash box.

I picked up the two hundred dollars.

"Here," I said to Ella, handing her four fifty dollar bills, "It's not like me to be generous but have this. Buy a big, impressive Graflex that no politician you meet will ever forget."
"What about your wife?" she asked, genuinely concerned for Nicola's solvency.
"She'll have to wait until another job comes my way," I replied, "I'll be all right. The queue for the matrimonial courts is out of the door and down the street."
"I enjoyed Sandy, by the way," she added.
"I'm not surprised," I said, "it's still the most exhilarating of places."