Homeward Bound Ch. 03

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I quickly found that my mother’s “special services” operation paled in the face of what Mrs. Childress was capable of. I wasn’t the only one on her staff giving extra attention for extra cash at the Swannanoa Boarding House. In addition to me for the men guests so inclined, she had two serving girls, Sadie and Clare, who did the same for the men who paid for it. Their rooms were in the attic, at the back, and I’m betting Mrs. Childress made more off of our added services than she did off the letting of rooms and fixing of breakfasts and dinners.

It didn’t take Mrs. Childress long to zero in on a good thing—financially. Soon after I arrived she established two of the rooms in the boarding house—one for each preference—as “by the hour” rather than “by the night”—and these rooms came with no meals. At least none of what Mrs. Childress served in the dining room. The by-the-hour rooms, quite naturally and swiftly, began to bring in local trade.

And with this, the character vignettes I was painting with my pen in the stolen hours, usually between breaking down the supper service and when the lights began going out in the boarder’s rooms at night—and often there wasn’t a whole hour between those times, especially that winter—took on an interesting aspect. My manuscript was becoming quite voluminous. It had started out as a play script, as that was my real interest in the literary field. But soon that became unsustainable, something I couldn’t possibly see being put on stage, and I decided that I was moving toward a time period and character novel. Before I came to Mrs. Childress’s I had already been calling it The Boarding House in my mind—and this it remained. I had quite a collection of character studies with interwoven stories from my mother’s house. When merged with my writings at the Swannanoa house, the storyline became much more interesting—and localized to Asheville.

I wrote about the traveling salesmen and the various ways they waltzed about with Mrs. Childress in expressing an interest in a special service—and then the even more convoluted dance they went through on establishing preference and price. The actual act was often an anticlimax after the waltz that came before it.

I was more expensive than either Sadie or Clare were, with Mrs. Childress reasoning that it was much easier for one of her boarders to pick a Sadie or Clare up for themselves at one of the taverns or off the street corner than to pick up a young man for what they wanted to do—at least in that day and age. She didn’t know what I knew about that, but I wasn’t about to disillusion her on that score. Her view of it left me more valuable.

The type of personalized story of a boarder that I latched onto at my mother’s boarding house continued—stories like the boarder only pretending to be a traveling salesman but who really was a pickpocket moving indoors for the winter—and doing not badly at the boarding house until Mrs. Childress smoked him out and introduced him to the constables—and, in the process, took possession of more possessions for her own use than he had lifted from her boarders.

Or the aging Southern belle, up for the summer to avoid the mosquitoes and heat of coastal Charleston, coming to Asheville as usual, but being forced by reversal in family fortune to board at the Swannanoa rather than the house her family once had on Grove Park. She spent the entire summer writing farewell letters to all of her friends down at the ocean and took too many sleeping pills on her last registered night at the boarding house—because she didn’t have the money to pay her bills.

Or Mrs. Childress’s own son, who showed up at the door with his new wife and babe, both obviously of the wrong color, and all three chased off the front porch and into the night by Mrs. Childress herself with a broom—the first and last time I ever saw her wielding a cleaning utensil.

But, because of the presence of Sadie and Clare—and me—a new line of stories crept in. The stories of how both Sadie and Clare left—temporarily in Sadie’s case—before I did. There were men who came and used the rooms without paying for any of us, of course—who brought their own companionship, with Mrs. Childress discretely looking the other way, even though she saw their wives on a daily basis. Asheville was only a big, impersonal city to the ones who didn’t live there permanently.

For in-house services, though, there was the story of Sadie and her sad little regular older, rotund gentleman who came to the boarding house in thread-bare clothes and apparent unfortunate circumstances two summers in a row. He had said he had come from Philadelphia izmir escort on doctor’s orders because he was working himself into a grave in Philadelphia and needed a slower pace to tone down his racing heart. He had timidly given Sadie a trial, and she had raced his heart—without breaking it. By the end of the second summer, it was revealed that he was a wealthy manufacturer who had spent the two years having a twenty-room summer home built in the hills—to which he spirited Sadie away. Sadie would return to her duties in the boarding house during the winter months, while the sad, timid little manufacturer wintered with his wife in Philadelphia. The arrangement seemed to satisfy them all.

Clare’s was a sadder story. A young, naïve tinker stopped by the boarding house one summer’s night and Clare declared him a good catch in her own mind. She apparently needed a good catch at the moment. She seduced him and held him in thrall in a back bedroom of the boarding house for nearly two weeks, with Mrs. Childress standing by the door and toting up each time the two enthusiastically fucked. At the end of the two weeks, Clare declared herself undone and contemplating throwing herself in the French Broad River, identifying herself as a virgin before the advent of the tinker and now a mother to be. A bewildered young man had to walk his new bride to the train station, Mrs. Childress now being the owner of his wagon, horse, and wares. Clare looked pleased as punch with herself as they departed, but I often wondered how long the smile stayed on the face of that stupid girl.

I had stories of my own, which I alluded to in my manuscript but which the times and public morality would not permit me to make explicit. Not being explicit in personal detail took nothing away from being explicit in titillation, however. I never could forget one of my earliest, as he reminded me so much of Seth—an older, much older Seth in some far distant future. He was a traveling bookseller, some literary figure, I decided, down on his luck and down to his last meager scrabbling at life. I watched as he carefully counted out the cost of my night into Mrs. Childress’s claws while giving me a look of almost apology.

“It’s because I cannot stand to be alone, you understand.” . . . although I clearly didn’t and had no reason to understand . . . “especially at night. I have a recurring dream of dying in the night and no one noticing that I had. I won’t be demanding, I promise.” The apology still there, even after he had paid more than the set price—which I knew and he didn’t, of course.

Under those circumstances, I was determined to give him something more than just solace and assurance that I would tell him in the morning that he still lived. On his own initiative we laid on the bed stretched out along each other’s bodies. At my own request—feigning the heat in the room and the possibility that Mrs. Childress would check on us, which, in truth, always was a possibility, we both stripped off our clothing down to our skivvies. Then he started reciting poetry to me in a German accent, becoming more heavily accented as he proceeded. He was pleased when I told him my family was from western Pennsylvania and that I understood a good bit of German. This served to release much of the tension in his body—so that when I slowly began to explore his body with my hand—which eventually gravitated to a hardening cock I fished out of his underdrawers, he also slowly began to reciprocate.

We didn’t fuck, but we did bring each other to ejaculation, and he was crying softly and humming a German lullaby when he went off to sleep.

Months later, I heard of a German bookseller having died in his sleep in another boarding house down in Winston-Salem—with no one having noticed the body for a week. And I prayed that it wasn’t my German bookseller.

On a less sad note, there were the twin accountants from Greensboro, coming back to their birth city for a school reunion, who each had me in their room, one at a time, while the other was at the writing desk penning a letter to his wife and children in Greensboro announcing his safe arrival in Asheville—and then both of them climbing into the bed with me and sandwiching me, both having me together—and then each other when I had been exhausted.

And then the old evangelical preacher and seminary professor from Trinity College—later Duke University—in Durham, who insisted I come to him in the dark and endure his feign of surprise and scourge him with the rushes from an old broom until his cock was hard enough to take me. And then he sermonized alsancak escort about the sin of man lying with man, citing biblical quotations, in a fevered voice as he bent me over the straight chair in the room and fucked me with all of the anger and vengeance he could muster.

* * * *

Although I didn’t know it at the time, the writer who came to stay in the boarding house that winter upon advice of his editor, the great (as I was later to learn) Maximilian Trudeau, to retreat to a cloister where no one in New York City would think to seek him out and to complete that assigned novel that was long overdue, was my most meaningful encounter during my sojourn at Mrs. Childress’s—except for Stanford, of course. Alec Cotton was quite straightforward with Mrs. Childress. He said he could not concentrate on writing without an angelic young man to fuck and that none would, as he said, journey into the wilds just to accommodate his libido. He went on to say that he had heard Mrs. Childress could help him. Mrs. Childress could. For the three weeks Alec was with us—and to the litany of moans and groans from what had become a regular clientele of mine—I slept in Alec’s bed, and Mrs. Childress rented out my closet of a room.

Alec Cotton proved to be one of my most attentive, sensitive, and alluring lovers. This was not because he was handsome and dreamy, which he wasn’t. He was ugly, half of his face scarred from a fire in his youth, and one of his arms—thank god not the one he wrote with—and a leg were deformed and slightly shriveled from the same mishap to the extent that they almost were useless to him. But the man could fuck—and it wasn’t the actual act that set him apart from anyone else. He was no Samuel—or later, Stanford—inside me. But of all of my men to that point, he was a lover. He took his time with me, preparing me until I peaked and was begging him to fill me and move inside me. And in the early preparation, he was sensitive to ask me what I was feeling and what was working for me better than other approaches.

But once we were fucking, both of our pelvises working on consort, and we were both into the rhythm of the act, he insisted that I not say a word to him.

“But you are doing something special to me inside, Alec. I want to let you know how much I love what you are doing.”

“Shush,” he would murmur until I finally understood what was happening. “I’m thinking,” he would say.

But I finally got it. Because after we’d both ejaculated and he’d gone soft inside me—he never finished and immediately withdrew and left me alone—it became apparent that he need the fucking more emotionally than physically. He’d finally sit up on the edge of the bed and kiss me lightly on the mouth and then again at my navel—and then he’d go immediately to the writing table and write furiously.

I would lay there, naked, on the bed, watching him—but, as preordained—not saying a word. I would be looking for the wrinkling of his brow and for him to lay his pen down and frown slightly and look a bit lost. Because then I knew he was coming back to the bed to make love to me again until his muse had removed whatever writing barrier had arisen and he could go back to his writing.

I nearly starved in those three weeks, because Alec’s muse didn’t include mealtimes on his schedule. He never broke to attend a meal in the dining room, as the rhythm of his writing and our fucking never matched the rhythm of the boarding houses meal plans. Mrs. Childress indulged him, though, because his publisher paid very well for the environment and services she was providing. After the meal had been served in the dining room, she’d arrive and knock on the door and enter without leave—never knowing if Alec was lost in writing or in fucking. She’d be carrying a food tray—enough for both of us—and with pursed lips she’d set the tray down on the table underneath the window at the foot of the bed and pick up the spent tray. Then she’d turn and look at the chalk board hanging over the headboard of the bed, give a little smile as it always was good news for her, and then silently glide out of the room and give the door a little click of privacy assurance in her wake.

The chalk board over all of the beds in Mrs. Childress’s house was her accounting system. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had one over her bed as well. Each had a piece of chalk dangling on a string attached to it. These were for the use of Sadie, Clare, and me, and for Mrs. Childress’s tallies. After each client ejaculation—or mine, if that was the client’s principal interest—we made a chalk mark buca escort on the board. Upon each change of room tenant then, Mrs. Childress checked the board and added to the service fee appropriately. I’m sure she knew that we didn’t fully report for the clients we each favored—and Alec was one who I gave a free ride every other time—but the favored clients, including Alec, still ejaculated satisfactorily often for Mrs. Childress’s expectations of remuneration.

As Alec’s book increasingly came under control and he could see the end coming, he wrote less and fucked more—and spent more time talking to me and rebuilding his strength on Mrs. Childress’s niggardly meals. I got the impression that he enjoyed my channel so much that he was stringing his publisher along and could have finished drafting his manuscript in closer to two weeks than nearly three.

This was the point, near the end, when he found out that I fancied myself a writer too.

“You’re writing a novel on lodging houses such as this?” he asked one afternoon after we’d fucked and he admitted that he wanted to do it again as soon as he regained a hard cock.

“Yes, but what I really want to do is to write scripts.”

“Let me read what you’ve written,” he offered.

“I couldn’t possibly show it to you now. I’m still collecting and writing and weaving vignettes—and looking for a central theme.”

“I would think this was your central theme,” he said playfully.

I moaned and reached for the wrist of his good hand, his writing hand, the one stained permanently with honest ink. “Please, please,” I groaned. “Remove those fingers, please, and replace them with something thicker and longer.”

“You don’t think I can take care of you with just these two fingers? I’m not nearly ready with anything else to please you with, but I will be ready quicker if you will come for me with just what I can do with these two fingers.”

He was embracing me close to him—although not strongly, as it was his partially withered arm he was holding me with, but the tips of his fingers had found my prostate—and he knew he had from the involuntary shudder I gave and the arching of my back.

“Oh god, oh god, yes,” I whimpered as he proceeded to show me why he was a consummate lover and that he could make me come with just those two fingers and enough time for me to rise in arousal and pleasure and to writhe and flow as his lips opened over my bulb and drank me inside him.

“Seriously, do you have any inkling of a central theme yet?” he murmured later after he had mounted me and taken care of his own needs again.

“I would like to leave here,” I answered honestly. “Everything I’ve written seems to serve motivation to leave.”

“Perhaps that would be fine,” he answered, having given it some thought, for which I was grateful. “Perhaps a stronger theme would bend back to motivation for coming home again after a time away and in spite of all that had happened. You will show your book to me when you are ready, I hope.”

“If you leave me your address,” I answered.

He grew morose then and left the bed and played with his pen above a blank sheet of paper for some time before declaring that he would dress and attend the taverns that evening. I thought then that I had said something to dissatisfy him, but I only realized later that what I had done was remind him of an inevitable, quickly approaching parting.

The advent of the “by-the-hour” room had spiced my manuscript up tremendously, although here too I could safely do little more than a broad brush treatment and more suggestion than detail. The men of Asheville—even the most upstanding citizens among them, or should I say especially the most upstanding citizens among them—quickly took to Mrs. Childress’s innovative new services. Clare never seemed to catch on with them, but Sadie caught a local man of the cloth, while I counted a Jesuit priest among my regulars. There were an assortment of leading merchants with an assortment of preferences. Sadie boasted of the sheriff, while I kept mum—to her, at least—about a judge. Sadie became a regular first stop for men of wealth passing on useful information and experiences to their sons, which she thoroughly enjoyed—and which I had to admit I could boast little of. Although there was one leading lawyer who used me to demonstrate what his son—not much younger than I was—then mimicked with me. And then I was shunted aside and the father used the son, which I was somewhat chagrined to hear that the son enjoyed more than lying with me. But their money was good and the lawyer returned as one of my better customers, so I have no real complaints there.

And then there was the headmaster of the local Presbyterian girl’s school who, until Mrs. Childress priced the service out of the market for him alone, entertained Sadie in one hour, she dressed as a young girl, and then me in the next, also dressed as a young girl.

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