Millstone – ONE – (Hanging the Chimney Hook)
All Rights Reserved © 2020, Rick Heathen
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
My beautiful man had slept in my arms all night, half his brawny body lying atop mine. I had dug my fingers into his golden pelt and inhaled his masculine scent, and that worked its magic on me in my slumber. I had awakened in an excellent mood, and that morning, I felt ready to take on whatever may come. I only joked that Max had become addicted to me, but I think I had the addiction. His physicality, his levelheaded temperament, his loving embrace, and his desire for me felt almost beguiling.
Once up and about, we readied ourselves for our workout, and things were progressing nicely, until Edgerton approached me holding that damn newspaper, and that’s when my wonderful morning turned to shit.
“What’s the problem?” Max asked me as we climbed into the roadster. “So, everyone will know you have extraordinarily large hands, big deal…”
I had fumed over the gossip column of the daily paper since I read it. It had me in no mood for playing in the shower, and I ate breakfast in such a huff, it surprised me I hadn’t jammed the fork into my mouth. In route to update Winter about the case, the whole damn thing had me so upset, I found myself white knuckling the steering wheel, like a kid would the safety bar of a Coney Island roller coaster, but for an entirely different reason.
“Oh Max…you know that ‘large hands’ is a euphemism.”
“Yeah, so what specifically has you upset about it?” he asked. “And don’t give me the surface stuff, all that’s painfully clear. I want to know the thoughts you’ve kept to yourself the last couple of hours.”
We had stopped at the light near the Minotaur, just as it turned red, and that gave me time. “I just wanted to keep our business separate from my cock, that’s all. I want people to take us seriously.”
“Do you really think anyone would refuse to take you seriously as a private investigator because they know you’re hung like a horse?”
“Meaning that it happened before.”
“Well, so what if it happens again!”
“Yeah, so what! And I’m not being dismissive of how it made you feel. I don’t know the circumstances behind your experiences with that, how it came to be, or how often it may have happened, but I know this…you can’t control how others view you. How someone views you says far less about you, than it says about them. And yes, that aphorism is old, but it remains true.”
“You don’t know what was said.”
“It doesn’t matter what they said, it obviously hurt you personally or perhaps even injured your business, and for that I’m sorry, but none of that matters.”
“So, I’m overreacting, is that what you think?” The light turned green and we continued.
“No, I don’t think you’re overreacting,” he said. “I think you are reacting based on your previous life in the outside world. You’ve amazed me at how quickly you’ve begun to embrace life here, but you will have times, like this one, where your past life meets your present one, and rather than acting on current events, you’ll react the way you did in the past. People have said this to you again and again, this is Franklin. The people here are different, and it’s a different world. We have yet to meet anyone who hasn’t thought the best of you, so give them a chance to show you just how different they really are. And sure, we’ll probably run across the odd asshole, but act when the fight comes to you, don’t go looking for one, because with that attitude, I promise, you will find one.”
I sat with an excessive grip on the wheel, thinking about what he said until we reached the pea gravel drive of the Thornbrier Mansion on Blueberry Lane. Once I switched off the engine, I turned to Max.
“Okay, I admit that I’m reacting based on previous experience, and that’s turned the volume way up on how I’m feeling, so you’re right. And I know this is Franklin; it’s different.”
“Good. I’m glad you can see all that.”
“But that’s not everything. I have this thing with reporters; it’s like they enjoy pissing me off. And before you say it, yes, I’ve been showing my cock around the city a bit. So, I know that people will know eventually; I’m not trying to hide myself or stop people from knowing at all, but that’s different. I would rather people find out gradually, either directly from me or word of mouth, but his input into the gossip column spoke of our business and my cock practically in the same sentence. It has a similar equivalent to publicly outing me, and that’s not okay. Right?”
“On that point, I agree, but you should talk it over with him in a reasonable manner, he hasn’t disrupted your life to Çınardere Escort the degree that outing someone as gay might; it’s not a strangling offense.”
“I wouldn’t have actually wrung his neck.”
“I never believed you would, but your extreme anger was unnecessary because (if you look at it this way) apart from outing you, he actually did us a favor. He mentioned us and the business by name. What if he just wanted to help us, because he’s not a bad guy, and he could think of no other way to get our new business some free attention? And, this being Franklin, like everyone else, he had no notion that people knowing your size would be an issue.”
That thought made me feel better about it. I smiled a little, reached for Max’s hand and kissed it. “You’re a beautiful human being, you know that?”
He cupped my cheek with his hand. “I know your detective mind tends toward suspicion, but for me, I try not to assume someone’s malicious until it’s clear they mean harm.” He glanced at his phone. “We have three minutes; we should go.”
I put my arm around my Golden Bear as we walked to the apartment door at the back of the mansion. “You know, our differing points of view could assist us. I see things you don’t see, and you see things I don’t see.”
“I know I’m an asset,” he said, “you need me. So, how much will we tell Winter? We can’t tell her everything.”
“Just follow my lead and watch a master at work.”
“Right…,” he said and rang the doorbell.
Winter answered the door with a smile, and we complimented her on the lacy white corset dress that she wore. She invited us in, and we all sat at the dining table.
“I would love to stay and chat,” she said. (Max pulled a chair out for her.) “Thank you, Max, that’s kind of you, but unnecessary.” (She took the seat.) “As I was saying, my dress maker, Clara, needs me for a fitting at ten o’clock. I am so looking forward to Saturday night, Max. And Taylor the tailor, tells me that your suit is coming along flawlessly. He’ll probably need a fitting this afternoon or tomorrow, so expect it.”
“We’ll make a note of that,” he said, “but I thought you already had your dress.”
“Oh no, the only thing I have of that dress are the sketches. So,” she said, coming to the heart of our visit, “you have an update on the case. I have heard your involvement caused the police to change their tune on Tommy’s death; that alone makes you worth whatever I end up paying you. I felt within me he hadn’t killed himself…poor boy. And I heard another young man has died, and that the police have James Malor in custody. Have they charged him?”
“You must keep what I tell you in the strictest of confidence,” I said. “They’re holding Malor on suspicion while they sift the evidence, but Max and I think he’s innocent.”
“So, if he’s innocent, have I still invited a murderer to the party?”
“Possibly,” I said.
“Not knowing is worse than thinking Malor did it. Should we just cancel or postpone it?”
“No, don’t do that,” I said. “We have leads in the case and, with luck, we could have this wrapped up by Friday.”
“What leads do you have?” she asked.
“Well…I say ‘we.’ We’re assisting the police, and as that portion of it is their case, I can’t say without breaking their confidence.”
“Very well. So, what plan have we, if by Saturday, you have yet to catch the killer? Because canceling parties at the final hour is terribly gauche.”
“Give us until Friday, at that point, we’ll reassess the options. That’s the best we can do.”
“I can do that,” she said, “but I want to know, if you haven’t caught them, and the party continued as planned, could the guests attend in safety?”
“The deaths aren’t random. I can’t tell you how we know that, but they’re connected. So, in my opinion, there’s a good chance that the guests could attend safely, but naturally, I couldn’t guarantee that.”
She glanced at her watch. “I must go. Okay. For now, I will await your call on Friday.”
Our conversation with Winter ended there, and we followed her out as she left to her appointment. Once she drove away, Max said, “So that’s how you tell someone something without actually telling them anything.”
“I had to be cautious. I gave her the bare minimum of what I could tell her, and those parts have the greatest relevance to the reason she hired us. Note that I said that you and I believed Malor innocent, and I hadn’t spoken for the police. This leaves the plan regarding Malor in place. She needed what I told her, because the situation could force her to cancel or postpone the party, and I wouldn’t want to spring that idea on her at the last minute.”
“She might not forgive you for causing her to appear gauche,” said Max.
“And we wouldn’t want that now, would we?”
When I started the roadster, Max received a text message. “Ah ha!” he said. “My former roommate informs me that the shipping company has made the pick-up of my personal items. The three boxes Escort Çınardere should reach us by Monday.”
“Just three boxes?”
“He’s sending my personal items only, nothing that I could replace here. And it’s not like I owned tons of physical media; I streamed most things, and I brought all the rest with me.” He indicated the phone in his hand.
Before we left the Minotaur for the day, Edgerton, told us specifically that if he hadn’t called us that we could consider it “no news” on the case, and he would personally ask Pecker who he had left in charge (rather than chance asking the office manager), and they would dig into that person’s background. Before the gossip column incident that morning, we asked Albert if he would help us find some furniture, and Edgerton gave him a few hours before lunch to help us with it.
Albert suggested a newer furniture store on Tarragon Drive called Steamy Pete, and he wanted to accompany us, so, when we left the mansion, we called him to meet us there. Located northwest of the city, the outside of the building looked like a typical furniture store, and as they had just opened for the day, we found only four vehicles in the parking lot.
Upon exiting his Toyota Camry, my cousin stood by the car and began removing his uniform. “I appreciate your letting me know you were coming here.”
“Have you a rule about shopping in your uniform?” asked Max.
Albert smiled and laughed a little. “Oh no…it’s not that. There’s a guy who works here that I want to get in good with. See that chromed-out black Volvo? That’s his car, so I know he’s here.” He slipped on a bulldog harness and a provocative pair of form-fitting, black leather shorts with a zipper that ran from the front to the back.
Albert really loved his leather, and I imagined he had a wardrobe filled with it. I never made an issue of any clothing I saw in Franklin, no matter how unusual it seemed, and neither did anyone else. People treated the freedom of expression in Franklin as almost sacrosanct. Besides, with the rate of my own evolution, I figured Max would have me in something similar before I knew it.
“Do those come in pants?” I asked.
“You like? They’re customed just for me, but I’ll give you the card of the guy who made them. These fit my ass like a glove.”
“You’re going to a lot of trouble, cousin. This guy must be something.”
He nodded. “He is. You know, I really wish this store had opened before I bought my living room furniture, but right now I need a new bed; mine broke last month with a couple of fellas, and I haven’t taken the time to replace it.”
My brow furrowed. “You broke your bed?”
“Yeah, I have bad luck with beds. This is the second one in three years. Embarrassingly, I have this one held up by a couple of blocks. I’ve had some fun times on that bed, but, unlike me, I guess it couldn’t take the pounding.”
He had Max and I laughing.
“Braggart…,” said Max.
“So, besides the guy,” I said, “what’s so special about this place?”
He finished zipping himself into his shorts. “There’s several reasons to pick this place. You’ll have to see.”
As we entered, I saw a metal cage with a leather sex sling near the door. I nudged Max. “Would you like one of those?”
“Oh no,” he said, “too big and too limiting; I prefer what we do. You realize that we’ve never fucked in a bed with a frame, right?”
“Are you thinking we’ll break ours too?”
“I’ve seen you two fuck,” said Albert, “don’t think it couldn’t happen.”
A handsome, middle-aged man with carefully coiffed hair, wearing a stylish, Italian-cut linen suit came forward. “Good morning, gentlemen, and to which salesperson could I direct you?”
Albert spoke up. “Good morning. I’m Albert Sawyer, and I spoke to Master Brice on the phone a couple of days ago. He said he would be here mornings; is he available?”
He looked at his watch. “I’ll get him for you. Please, help yourself, look around, and I’ll send him to you.” And with that, he left.
It took less than two minutes for Max to zero-in on a distressed, saddle brown leather Chesterfield with its two coordinating chairs. When the three of us sat upon it, it felt sturdy. Even with Max in the middle and our combined weight, it didn’t budge.
“This store is unlike anywhere else,” said Albert as we stood to glance around. “The foundation of everything you see here they’ve overbuilt, so it’s made to last.”
Max checked the tag that dangled from the back of the Chesterfield. “At this price, it better last,” he said. “They’re asking too much for our beer-bottle pockets.”
“Well,” I said, “with furniture, you really do get what you pay for.” I took at gander at the tag. “Wow, that’s half the price of a new automobile.”
“I’ve seen their website,” said Albert, “not everything here’s that expensive.”
I picked up one end of the couch; it easily weighed triple what I expected. They’d built it of quality leather, and Çınardere Escort Bayan it sat a little hard, but that probably indicated that it would wear-in before it ever wore-out. I prefer to purchase things that last. I asked Max, “Do you like this set?”
“It’s too expensive.”
“I know your thoughts on the price tag; I asked if you liked it.”
“Of course, I like it, but we couldn’t afford it.”
“Good morning, gentlemen, I’m Master Brice.” The unhurried, deep masculine voice behind us drew our attention. He had spoken to Max and me, but then he turned toward Albert. “And I hear you requested me by name.”
A hairy stalwart hunk, about our age, stood before us. He had slickened raven hair in a side part, and a well maintained, finely clipped beard. He dressed only in a harness, arm bands above his big biceps, gloves, boots, and pants, all of which were black leather. I realized then why Albert had changed clothes. A few paces behind him, I saw a handsome, well built, sandy blonde young man of about 22. He wore a pair of black leather boots, indigo jeans, and a black leather collar with a chrome lock dangling from it. He had a black tattoo on his bulging left pec, and it had the appearance of a name tag that read ‘Farron.’ In his hands, he held a tablet, and he watched the man in leather closely.
Master Brice studied Albert without expression but spoke to us. “One moment, gentlemen.” He raised a gloved hand, and his fingers gestured our direction. Immediately, the young man came forward to greet us, and Brice spoke with Albert for a moment before leading him toward the bed area.
“Good morning,” said the young man to us with a bright smile, “My name is Farron. How may I assist you, sirs?”
The entire scene had me a little weirded out for a moment, and it must have shown on my face.
“If you will allow me, sir. Master Brice tells those who wish it, exactly what they need, and I help those who choose for themselves. But, as I’m the actual employee, I take all orders regardless. I see you are viewing the Chesterfield set. As part of our Heirloom Series, it comes fully insured for the lifetime of the owner and the lifetime of the first person to receive it upon bequest. It comes with free delivery by our incredibly handsome and talented delivery men, and they provide our extra special white glove service.”
I said, “We’ll take it.”
Max jerked his head my direction. “Millstone!”
I put my arm around him, held his hand, and leaned into his ear. “Trust me, let us discuss it later.”
Max squeezed my hand with an expression of confusion upon his face. He hadn’t understood, and that was my fault; we hadn’t taken the time to discuss finances, not fully anyway.
“You want the set, sir?” he asked disbelieving.
“Yes,” I said. “You sound really surprised.”
“Yes sir, I am! I’ve never sold anything in this series without a lot of sex involved.”
“Does that happen often?” asked Max
“Yes sirs. The woman of a straight couple who came in last week liked me a lot, and after she inquired about my sexual orientation, I informed her that I was bisexual. The couple said they would buy based on how well I pleasured her. We started on that red couch, and we ended against that wall. I serviced her for two hours as her husband looked on. Once satisfied, they purchased the most expensive set we carry, sir. Will this set be all for you today, sirs?”
The entire experience at Steamy Pete had me befuddled. Farron was making statements that, on the average day in the average location, could not be taken seriously, however, he wasn’t joking. Apparently, being serviced was all part of the service, and buyers who lived in Franklin knew that, and no doubt, so did Albert.
We looked around for a few minutes to ensure we wanted that specific set, and seeing nothing else, we told him of our need for a bed frame, so he guided us to the bed section. Albert and Master Brice were there, their faces six inches apart. Albert stood paralyzed at the end of a display bed with cum in his beard as Master Brice lightly jacked his leaking erection from his fully unzipped shorts.
“You will buy this bed,” said Brice with a voice sounding as though he were channeling Dirty Harry. “It comes with a full warranty and a guarantee not to break. It’s in stock, so they’ll deliver it Friday afternoon. You will only sleep in this bed before I arrive at your home Saturday at midnight, at which point, we’ll make a thorough test of that no-break guarantee. Are we clear?”
“Yes, Master Brice,” said Albert. “Thank you, Master Brice.”
“When Farron finishes with these gentlemen, he will take care of your paperwork, and this down here.” And with that, Master Brice backed off, ready to walk away, but glancing at his gloved hand made him sneer. Albert’s cock had dribbled pre-cum on it, so he held it near Al’s mouth. “Clean it.” He ordered him to lick his own pre-cum from the glove, and once he had, Master Brice left.
Albert relaxed against the end of the bed, with a smile on his face, he turned to us mouthing the words, “He is so hot!”
Once Brice had disappeared, Max whispered, “Holy shit.”
“Interesting,” said Farron. “Master Brice never goes to a customer’s home.”
“Looks like someone has a date Saturday night,” I said.