My Father, My Son
by: Tom Borden

© 2000-2008 by the author


The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent. Comments are appreciated at...


Karl laughed. "It's okay, Michael. He and I have become friends. And that's all. And that's all it ever will be. I'm doing well, Michael. I'm going to make it. I learned something from Jumper today. He hates what he was, and he'll never go back. His commitment to Jake is so moving to me. And I hate what I was, too. And I value our commitment to each other, Michael, more than anything now. I mean it. More than anything."

Still wrapped in each other's arms, Michael and Karl fell back onto the bed as they clawed at each other's clothes.

Chapter 74 

The next day after Adriano moved in with Josiah and Brian, they all went over to Adriano's apartment to salvage what they could. The claims adjuster from his insurance company was there to meet them and appraise the damage to his contents. They had rented a truck and loaded all the things that were not damaged for storage in a locker they had leased. The wooden furniture could be saved, but would need to be repaired and refinished, all covered by Adriano's insurance. The three of them spent two days taking out and transporting what could be salvaged.

When they returned home, they found a message on the answering machine from Terry Murdock. He asked Adriano to call him at the Inn when it was convenient.

When Adriano called back, Terry said, "Adriano, I've been so worried about you."

"I'm so glad to hear from you Terry," said Adriano. "And thank you so much for your beautiful card. I have to admit to you that I cried when I read it."

"Oh, Adriano," said Terry, "I cried when I wrote it! I've thought of you constantly since I heard about the fire. Are you doing all right now?"

"I'm doing fine now. I'm tired, though. My two friends here and I have been working to salvage and haul all my stuff out of the apartment. And it looks as though I'm going to get a pretty good settlement from the insurance company."

"Lovely!" said Terry.

"Terry, you said you might come up and see me when you had a day off. Can you still do that?"

"Absolutely! I've managed to get two days off, next Monday and Tuesday. Would it be convenient for me to come up then?"

"Anytime would be convenient for me. I do teach classes on those days, but maybe you could come in and sit in on my lectures. Then we'll have Monday evening free."

"I would love it," said Terry. I'll drive up early on Monday morning and should be in Austin before lunch. I'll stop and get a motel room before I see you."

"No, please. My friends, Josiah and Brian, have insisted to me that you stay here with us if you would be here over night."

"But do you have room for one more?"

"Terry, we'll make room!"

"All right then. I will see you then."

Brian said they would set up a cot for Terry. But Adriano said, "Please don't, guys! I'm counting on his being happy to sleep with me in my bed, if you don't mind."

"Of course we don't mind, Adriano! I'm really anxious to meet this gorgeous hunk you've been so excited about.

Terry arrived shortly before lunch time on Monday. When Adriano answered the door, Brian and Josiah stood back and waited expectantly to be introduced. When they saw him, Josiah nudged Brian and whispered, "Oh, my God! Look at that!"

Adriano introduced Terry to Josiah and Brian. Terry said, "I'm delighted to meet you both. How kind of you to take Adriano in after the terrible time he had."

Brian stammered, "Adriano's our friend. It's no trouble at all."

When Adriano took Terry into his room to put down his bag, Brian said, "Leave it to Adriano to find one of the Earth's beauties for himself. I feel weak!"

"Yeah," sighed Josiah. "And he found him in a restaurant down in Goliad, of all places."

When Terry put down his bag, Adriano held out his arms and said, "Come here, Terry. Let me greet you properly."

They literally flew into each other's arms and kissed long and deeply. Adriano said, "Even with the fire and all that, you've been on my mind so much since I met you at Caleb's place. I knew I had to see you again. And then when I got your card, I was so happy."

Terry held Adriano so tightly in his arms that Adriano almost felt that he was being squeezed breathless. But he didn't want to Terry to let go. He wanted to give himself completely to this beautiful man.

Terry whispered, "I've thought of little else but you, myself. And when I heard about the fire, I almost went mad."

Josiah peeked into the room and said, "We have lunch ready, you two. Or would you rather skip lunch?"

Terry said, "Oh, how lovely! Shall we, Adriano?"

Josiah said, "Well it's not much, I'm afraid. We're just having grilled cheese sandwiches and a fruit salad. Certainly nothing gourmet."

When lunch was finished, Terry said, "That was delightful! I will have to admit that, when the dining room down at the Inn closes, Cook and I go back and make ourselves a hamburger or a grilled cheese often. I love the food we serve, but one just can't have a steady diet of it without craving something a little more substantial now and then."

Adriano got up and said, "Well, I'm due for my class at two. I'd love it if you would come with me and sit there while I give my usual dull lecture. I don't trust leaving you with these two horny animals while I'm gone."

Brian laughed and said, "And you're very right not to trust us, Adriano! We're likely to lose our heads completely and not be responsible for what we might do with this handsome gentleman!"

As Adriano lectured to his class, he found it enormously difficult not to keep his eyes on Terry, who sat in the rear of the hall with an adoring smile on his face. When the lecture was over, Adriano deemed his lecture that day to be a total failure. He could hardly remember what he had talked about.

When they were back in Adriano's car in the parking lot, Adriano looked at Terry and lay his hand gently on Terry's cheek. He said, "I shouldn't say this, but you have one of the most handsome faces I have ever seen on a man." Adriano leaned in close and very gently kissed his lips and cheeks and nose and chin. "To touch my lips and fingers to your skin and to breathe in the smell of your skin makes me so hot."

Even though there were others walking through the parking lot, Terry suddenly took Adriano in his arms and kissed him passionately. He whispered, "I wish that I had gotten a motel room so we could go there right now."

"We have our room back at the apartment. We can go there. The guys'll understand. In fact, they expect us to spend a lot of time there."

When Adriano and Terry returned to the apartment, they found a note from Brian saying that he and Josiah were in class themselves on campus and would not be back until supper time. Adriano and Terry raced into the bedroom and literally tore each other's clothes off and threw themselves onto the bed. Adriano watched as Terry's sensuous body emerged from beneath his clothes. His penis felt so gorged and hard, it felt almost as though it were going to explode. They lay in the bed, frantically running their hands over the skin of each other's body, trying to kiss and suck on every inch of their bodies. They had both sunk into a sexual frenzy, and neither felt they could get enough of each other's bodies.

As they writhed around on the bed, their bodies intertwined, they suddenly found themselves in a sixty-nine and took each other's hot, dripping penises into their mouths. Only seconds later, they each went into orgasmic convulsions and blew their hot, thick loads of cum into each other. Keeping the hot sperm in their mouths, they kissed deeply, allowing the mixture to slowly seep down their throats. They lay there looking deeply into each other's eyes. What they saw there was nothing but love and longing.

When Brian and Josiah returned home, Adriano and Terry Murdock were dressed and sitting in the living room talking. Brian said, "What would you say if I made reservations for dinner tonight for the four of us downtown at François'. I know it's a high-end restaurant, but people all over the country come to eat there. Very elegant, with the best French cuisine you could find anywhere. Or would the two of you rather be alone.

Terry and Adriano looked at each other, and nodded agreement. Terry said, "That would be absolutely lovely! But only under one condition. You must allow me to treat you all. After all, I'm the elder in this group, and besides, I am feeling particularly celebratory!" Everyone feigned reluctance, but agreed.

After they were seated at François', the waiter delivered the wine list, and Terry was most impressed with it. He ordered a glass of wine, while the others ordered regular cocktails. The meal was superb and the service was impeccable. Following the meal, they all had coffee.

Adriano asked, "Is this very much like the Inn where you work in Goliad?"

"Oh my, no. The décor and the ambiance for one thing is so much finer here. I would say that the food and the service is excellent and very much on a par with the Inn on that score."

"Would you like to work here?" asked Josiah."

"Oh, my goodness, yes! Everything is very much as we had it in England and at the Victorian Room in Chicago."

Adriano said, "You know what I would like to see, Terry? I'd like to see you right here. I'd like to see you right here at François' as the head waiter."

"Terry laughed. "Really?"

"Sure. Why not," said Josiah. "We'd like to have you living right here in Austin. It's a beautiful city. And look around. This place has a very high-end clientele. It would be perfect for you."

Terry looked around and said, "I wouldn't want to take any job here, and I doubt the Head Waiter's position is open."

Adriano said, "Well, you'll never know until you make an inquiry. Why not let's come over here tomorrow before you leave and see what's what here?"

"Well, I suppose there'll be no harm in asking," Terry said, thoughtfully. "My, it would be nice working here, though. The place seems so well managed, and the food and service is as fine as I've ever known it anywhere."

Terry knew the implications of securing a job in Austin. It would surely mean that he and Adriano would be able to see each other frequently, or perhaps even live together as partners. He looked at Adriano, who was looking at him with such love and tenderness in his eyes. He thought, "My God, I think I'd take a job as dishwasher just to be here in Austin with Adriano."

It was quite late when they returned to the apartment. Adriano and Terry sat down in the living room, while Josiah and Brian went into the kitchen to prepare some more coffee. Josiah said, "Brian, I'd give anything to see Terry without his clothes. When we were walking behind him on the way to the car, I looked at that absolutely perfect figure of his . . . those wide shoulders and tiny little hips, with those two firm and round little buns. I'm really good at mentally undressing a guy, and what I saw in front of me was nothing short of spectacular."

Brian said, "I was looking, too, and the sight of that body wasn't lost on me, either. I'll tell you what. Why don't we go and get out of our clothes and go back into the living room with just our briefs on? And we can tell them that, when we're home, we always strip down like this so we can be comfortable. And we can encourage Adriano and Terry to do the same while we're sitting around drinking our coffee before we go to bed. In that way, we can get a real good look at Terry's bod without having to imagine what it's like."

"Great idea!" responded Josiah.

Soon, Brian and Josiah entered the living room carrying the cups and a pot of coffee, and dressed only in their briefs. They could see the surprised look on the faces of both Adriano and Terry.

Brian said, "I hope you'll excuse us, you guys. But when Josiah and I are sitting around at home, we always like to be as comfortable as possible and we get out of those cumbersome clothes."

Terry smiled and, with a nod, said, "You know, Barker and I always did the same thing when we were home."

Josiah said, "Well, you don't want to make us self-conscious here, do you. You might as well get out of those clothes yourself and make yourselves comfortable."

Without any hesitation, Terry pulled off his boots and said, "Come on Adriano, get your duds off."

Josiah and Brian stood transfixed as in a trance while they watched Terry remove his shirt and pants, folding them neatly and hanging them over the arm of the sofa. As his nearly naked body was slowly revealed, Josiah whispered to Brian, "Close your mouth. You're drooling."

Once he was down to only his briefs, Terry sat down again and took a sip of his coffee. All four sat silently for a few minutes staring at one another. As though it had been orchestrated, all four bulges began to increase in size.

Brian couldn't contain himself and said, "Terry, you've got a hot body!"

Terry laughed and said, "It's been a long time since I've been in the company of three gorgeous bodies like I'm looking at right now. Maybe never. This is nice."

The sexual tension in the room was heavy. Everyone suddenly began to feel very awkward, not knowing exactly what to say. Both Brian and Josiah were gripped with an overwhelming desire to have this beautiful specimen of a man, but they knew he was Adriano's, and it was killing them. Adriano could sense that Brian's and Josiah's hormones were oozing out of every pore, but was determined that nothing would happen other than his having Terry only to himself that night. Adriano, sitting on the sofa next to Terry, pushed himself up close and took Terry in his arms and kissed him deeply. And with one hand, he reached down inside of Terry's briefs and took hold of his penis. He wanted this to be a signal to Brian and Josiah that Terry was his and his alone.

Brian and Josiah made no secret of how aroused they were, and they were both now rubbing their own penises vigorously as they watched Adriano and Terry kissing and moving their hands through each other's crotches.

Soon, Adriano said, "I wonder if you guys would excuse us. I think Terry and I would like to go to bed now."

Brian could feel and hear himself screaming inside with desire. He had the overpowering feeling that he wanted to lunge at Terry and rape him and totally ravage him sexually. He had never felt such arousal before. Josiah was enormously attracted to Terry, but not to the point that Brian obviously was. Josiah suddenly became very concerned over Brian's reaction. He took hold of Brian's shoulders and could feel Brian's body shaking. Brian's face was flushed and beads of sweat were forming on his forehead.

As Adriano and Terry left the room for their bedroom, Josiah gently pushed Brian into a chair. "Brian, please. What the matter?"

"Nothing!" Brian blurted out as he covered his face with his hands.

Josiah sat on the floor in front of Brian and began to run his hands gently over Brian's legs. Without a word, Brian abruptly stood up and went into their bedroom. Josiah got up and followed him. Brian threw himself on the bed and buried his face in the pillow. Josiah lay down next to him and put his hands on Brian's shoulders.

Josiah said, "Brian, don't you feel well? Are you sick?

"No!," came the abrupt muffled answer as Brian kept his face in the pillow. "Just leave me alone!" he said as he wiggled his shoulders as though to throw off Josiah's hands.

Josiah didn't know what to say. Finally, he whispered, "I can't help you if you don't tell me what's wrong."

"I don't want your help!" said Brian. "And you don't need to talk to me!"

Josiah rolled over on his back and stared at the ceiling. Brian had never turned away from him like this before. He knew that Brian had been awe-struck by the sensuous beauty of Terry. But they had seen plenty of guys around who could pass for gods. And never before did Brian seem to seriously want to act on his sexual attraction to them. Josiah lay still for a long time and soon could hear the sound of steady heavy breathing that Brian always made when he was asleep. Josiah got up and went into the bathroom to wash his face and hands and brush his teeth. Then, returning to the bedside, he felt he couldn't lie there next to Brian any longer, and not be able to touch him or talk to him. But he needed someone to talk with. He was hurt and dismayed over Brian's behavior.

Josiah had a sudden urge to go out on their balcony. As he walked down the hall past Adriano's and Terry's closed door, he stopped momentarily, listening. He could hear no sound, but could imagine what might be going on in there.

Josiah sat down and, leaning his head back, he enjoyed the unseasonably cool breeze that blew across his body. He had no answer to what was going on with Brian and wished now that the dark figure would appear to him again. But whoever that person or thing was told him last time that he would not be back. That had been his last visit. He needed someone to talk with. He thought a little about calling Jeff and Paul, but it was far too late to be making phone calls. Josiah opened his eyes and peered into the darkness at the other end of the balcony. He said to himself, half aloud, "I wish you were there. Maybe you could help me."

With the cool air blowing on him, Josiah began to feel very sleepy. He didn't want to be caught asleep in the morning in only his underwear by all the busy traffic below. He got up and, as he headed for the door, he heard:

"Josiah? I go through all the trouble of coming here for you, and now you're leaving?"

"It's you!" said Josiah, returning to the chair. "You told me you weren't ever coming back."

"I know. But I couldn't help it. You're one of my favorites, you know."

"Favorites? Favorite what?" asked Josiah.

"One of my favorite special people! What else?"

"There are more like me?

"Of course!" said the dark figure. There are thousands of special people."

"Like who?"

"Well . . . Eartha Kitt, for example."

"Eartha Kitt! Why is she so special?"

"Well, she has powers like you do?"

Josiah said, "She seems like a strange example. Isn't the president a special person with powers, or the Prime Minister of Great Britain."

The dark figure laughed. "My dear Josiah, no one who is destined for a political life is special. Special powers are never granted to those humans who live by their own selfish ways, those who think of nothing but their own imagined power, those whose every move in their life is designed to perpetuate that imagined power and prestige for themselves. There are selfless people like yourself who are given the powers. You don't have to imagine them. You have them!"

"You think I'm selfless?" said Josiah.

"Of course you are, Josiah! Jumping in the path of a speeding bullet to save someone else's life. Wouldn't you call that selfless?"

"I guess so."

"Josiah, we've been over all that before. These tiresome and constant reassurances I'm always having to give you must stop!"


The dark figure said, "Now you go back in there and tell Brian that you love him. Why do I always have to tell you this? You have the powers. You know what to do."

"But what good will that do? He already knows I love him."

"Josiah," the dark figure finally said impatiently, "Do I have to go over and over with you the power of love? Your love for Brian is very strong. And as long as it stays that way . . . and I mean in a selfless way . . . not a selfish love . . . you'll never lose him. It doesn't matter how he's feeling right now. Your special powers will take care of everything. Lie next to him and tell him softly in his ear that you love him, over and over again. Oh my! Do I have to tell you how to do everything! Just trust in your powers, my boy. Must be going now. Ta-ta!"

Josiah got up and walked slowly back to his room. He found Brian up and looking out of the window, his handsome figure silhouetted against the light from outside, with his broad shoulders and strong arms. Josiah went up behind him and, putting his hands on his shoulders, he whispered in his ear, "Brian, I love . . . ."

Brian suddenly shrugged him off and said, "Maybe we should split up, Josiah . . . for awhile maybe."

Josiah backed up and sat on the edge of the bed. He could hardly believe what he'd just heard. His so-called 'powers' weren't even given a chance. With his voice shaking, he said, "Brian, is this something you've been thinking about? Have you been thinking about it for awhile?"

"I don't know," said Brian.

Josiah said gently and softly, "That's not much of an answer."

Brian stayed at the window and Josiah sat on the edge of the bed for a long time without saying anything.

Josiah could feel the tickle of a few tears as they ran down his cheek. He thought to himself that this was no time for tears. He told himself to stop. It would only make matters worse. Brian was obviously troubled about something, and tears were not going to help either of them. He lay flat on the bed. Maybe if he could go to sleep, he would wake up in the morning and find that it was just a bad dream. But he couldn't sleep.

After a long while, Brian lay down without a word, turning his back to Josiah. Josiah again remembered what he was told and rolled in close to Brian. He whispered in Brian's ear, "I love you, Brian. I love you. I Love you."

Brian had gone to sleep again, but Josiah never stopped. He whispered, "I love you. I love you, over and over again. He once again lay back and, this time, felt himself drifting off.

When Josiah awoke, the sun was beaming in on him. Looking over, he saw that Brian was already up, and he could hear the shower running in the bathroom. Josiah lay there quietly, wondering what Brian would be like, or what he would say when he came back into the room.

When Brian returned, he looked down at Josiah. Josiah looked back, but said nothing. Brian came over and sat on the side of the bed looking down at Josiah for a long time. He didn't smile. He finally said, "Josiah, I don't deserve you. You could do better with someone else."

Still lying there without moving, Josiah said, "What are you talking about, Brian. Please tell me what this is all about."

Brian continued to look into Josiah's eyes. "You're a saint, Josiah. Your love is the purest love I have ever known. Mine isn't pure, Josiah. You're the only one I love and the only one I have ever loved. But unlike yours, my love is ragged and messy. It's all entangled with lust and yearning that doesn't always involve you."

Josiah said, "Have you ever . . . ."

"No, Josiah, I've never been with another guy. That isn't what I mean. But I sometimes have so much lust in my heart for . . . you know . . . others, that it tears me apart to think I have the nerve to go on accepting and soaking up all that pure love you have to give me. I see how you look at me sometimes, with love written all over that dear, sweet face of yours, and I feel so wretched that I'm harboring these thoughts and desires secretly inside of me. Josiah. You don't deserve that."

For the first time, Josiah saw tears begin to brim up in Brian's eyes. He reached up and pulled Brian down onto him and held him tightly. He whispered in Brian's ear, "It was Terry, wasn't it? Do you think I wasn't attracted to him, also? You don't have to beat yourself up over the way your hormones reacted to him. Who wouldn't react that way with him?"

"It wasn't just him, Josiah. I go through this all the time. Every good looking guy I see, I want. I would never do it, but the lust and desire builds up in me and beats on me. I can't help it. You're the kind that can be attracted to someone else, but you don't let it tear you apart. You know, Josiah, when Karl was going through all the problem he had, I kept thinking I'm the same way."

"But you never acted on those desires, Brian. He did. And he did it recklessly without regard for Michael's feelings. I don't believe it's in you to do that. You've obviously been feeling badly about those feelings of yours, but Karl never did."

"Oh, Josiah, I wanted to admit all this to you so many times, but I knew I would lose you if I did. It's true that being with Terry last night sent me over the edge this time. I'll always love you, Josiah. But I don't expect you to put up with my crazy head. You don't deserve any of that."

Josiah said softly in Brian's ear, "I love you, Brian. I love you. I love you."

Brian raised his head suddenly and said, "Say that again, Josiah."

"I love you, Brian."

Brian looked at Josiah curiously. "Those words didn't sound like they came from your mouth. They sounded . . . I don't know . . . like they were spoken with a different voice, like they just came out of the air somewhere."

"No, they came from me. They came from my heart, in fact."

Brian just stared at Josiah as though he were looking at a vision, someone hallowed, saintly, almost god-like. "What have you done?" Brian said slowly. "I know this sounds silly, but I feel almost like some holy person has just blessed me with his love. It's crazy."

Brian continued to stare into Josiah's eyes, eyes that sparkled and glittered in the sunlight. Kissing Josiah on the lips, he whispered simply, "You're a Saint, Josiah, and I'll always be yours."

As Josiah and Brian lay in each other's arms, they could hear that Adriano and Terry were already up and moving around. Josiah went to the door and stood there in all his glorious nakedness. Adriano and Terry, now fully dressed, were just passing down the hall toward the living room.

"Hi, you guys," Josiah said. "I hope you had a good sleep. Or rather . . . you know what I mean."

As Adriano beamed, Terry said, "Oh, yes, we had a delightful sleep . . . all half hour of it!"

Still naked, Josiah said, "I'm on my way to the kitchen to get the waffle iron heating up. We're going to have waffles this morning. And we're going to have some real, honest to goodness maple syrup from New England. Steve gave me a bottle of it that he has shipped down to him from there from time to time from some farmer who makes his own."

Adriano and Terry both licked their lips in obvious approval. As Josiah walked naked down the hall, Adriano said, "Look at that sweet little ass! I'd love to take a bite out of each of those little cheeks!"

Terry said, "Well, you chewed on my ass cheeks so much last night, I don't know if I'm going to be able to sit down this morning! I twisted around and looked at them in the mirror this morning, and they're as red as apples!"

"And they tasted like sweet apples, too!" said Adriano.

Everyone ate heartily, each having two waffles. Terry said, "Well, I'm not surprised that Steve has a connection to the best maple syrup in the country. He is an absolutely superb cook. And he's going to make a real go of that wine and cheese shop of his. He'd also make a first rate chef at some fine restaurant. But I suspect he would rather prepare his meals for small parties than the operations that go on in restaurants. You know, speaking of Steve, he and Caleb seem to be perfect partners. They are completely devoted to each other. They're just different enough to keep life together from getting boring. Barker and I were like that to some extent. We were often at odds with each other over something or other. But in spite of that . . . or maybe because of that . . . our love never faded. It just kept getting stronger and stronger."

Terry had talked frequently about Barker while he was with Adriano. Adriano wondered if he could ever hope to measure up. He wondered if perhaps he was just being used as a cheap substitute for Barker. But the way Terry made love that night, his passion for Adriano seemed sincere.

After everyone said their thank yous and goodbyes, Terry and Adriano drove over to François's to inquire if there might be a position open. The restaurant was owned and operated by François himself . . . François-Maurice du Maurier. The restaurant was still closed, but they could see several waiters inside busily setting tables. Adriano knocked on the door, and one of the waiters came to tell them they would not be open until 4:00 p.m.

Terry straightened up and, speaking with his finest French accent, "I am here to see Monsieur du Maurier."

"Do you have an appointment, Sir?"

"Why, yes. I believe I do," came the reply.

"If you care to step in, Sir, and have a seat, I'll go and tell him you're here."

"Here is my card," said Terry producing a finely printed simple business card.

Adriano was impressed with Terry's commanding performance. In a few moments, a tall, handsome gentleman came out into the dining room, heading directly toward Terry. He was all smiles with his hand extended. "Monsieur Murdock! It is a pleasure to meet you at last," du Maurier bubbled in his rather thick French accent. I am quite familiar with the Goliad Inn. In fact, we lost one of our very best chefs to you. I feel very fortunate that we are not located close to the Goliad Inn because we would indeed be competing fiercely with each other. Won't you please follow me. We can talk in my office."

Terry introduced Adriano as a friend of his, a professor at the University. Adriano immediately excused himself, saying that he had some business to take care of, but would check back later.

As du Maurier showed Terry to a seat, he said, "May I offer you a coffee?"

"Oui. Merci!"

"Ah! You speak French?"

"Oh, yes," replied Terry with assurance.

"Good!" said du Maurier. "What can I do for you, Monsieur?"

"I'm thinking of relocating to Austin, and I've been making inquiries as to positions available."

"Have you secured a position yet?"

"Uh . . . no, not yet."

"And you're interested possibly in a position at François'?"

"Yes, I would consider a position here, if it were suitable to my experience."

"Monsieur Murdock, you should not be surprised that there is a very good reputation connected with your name. Most of us in this business have heard of you. You are known by many as the gentleman who put the Goliad Inn on the map, so to speak. Tell me about your background."

Terry Murdock told du Maurier the whole history of his work life. Then he said, "If we find ourselves mutually interested in my services, I will be glad to provide you with my references."

"I don't think that would be necessary," purred du Maurier. "I will tell you that we do not have at the moment a head waiter. The person who filled that position was terminated about a month ago. He had become, shall we say, bothersome to me. We also lost our sommelier. He died of what one might call a case of over-enthusiastic wine tasting. Poor fellow. He did know his wines, but a little too well, I'm afraid. I'm glad to know that you have worked as an experienced sommelier."

François went on to tell Terry about his restaurant, its clientele, the qualifications of and the training given to its waiters and other employees, and his expectation concerning the deportment and service provided by his people. Then he said, "Would you be interested in the Head Waiter's position, Monsieur Murdock? I'm afraid the position would also involve being the wine steward, the sommelier. Of course, your compensation would be appropriate. My wife and my four sons also work in the restaurant, but I'm afraid that none of my sons have yet gained the knowledge and sophistication required for head waiter. But they're coming along."

François wrote the figure on a piece of paper and shoved it over for Terry to see. Terry had to guard against losing his composure as he looked at it. "Yes," said Terry. "That would appear to be appropriate and satisfactory."

"Well?" said François expectantly.

Terry did his best not to appear overly eager and said, "I need to get back to the Inn this evening. If you would allow me a day or two to think about it, I will get back with you by phone promptly with my decision. And of course, you understand that if the decision is in the affirmative, I will need to give several weeks notice of my resignation at the Inn."

François stood up and extended his hand. "Of course, Monsieur Murdock! This meeting has surely been serendipitous. I hope you will give the offer serious consideration!"

"You have my word that I will, Monsieur du Maurier. Good day"

As Terry returned to the sidewalk, he found Adriano leaning against the outside wall, assessing all the young male passersby. "Well?" asked Adriano eagerly.

"I have the job, Adriano!" said Terry excitedly. "Not only head waiter, but also sommelier! And the salary is almost four times what I'm making in Goliad! I'll go back there and call François in a couple of days to tell him I will accept the offer. Then I'll put in my resignation at the Inn."

"Didn't you tell him you'd accept the job?" asked Adriano.

"Oh, no. Never let a prospective employer think you're desperate, especially if you know you are well qualified for the position. It helps to raise the ante that way. I'd better get back now. Let me drive you back to Josiah and Brian's place. I know you have a busy day of classes and so forth."

As they pulled up to the apartment building, Terry said, "You have made this one of the happiest two days I have spent. I'll be in touch with you, and I hope you will call me, too. There is something you and I haven't discussed. Do you think, when I do move to Austin, that you and I can find an apartment together. I mean . . . ."

Adriano leaned over and kissed Terry. He said, "Terry, that's the whole point of you coming up here. It's so we can be together. And I mean live together. I thought you understood that."

"Well, love, I had hoped that to be the case, but we never really said that in so many words. I haven't said this to you yet, Adriano. But I love you very much. You've suddenly become everything to me. François talked about serendipity. Our meeting at Caleb and Steve's house was also serendipitous."

Before Adriano left the car, Terry took him in his arms and, as they hugged, they kissed deeply and passionately.

When the alarm went off, Corky awoke to find Mark sitting up in bed. "You look like you've been awake for awhile, Mark. Why the serious look on your face?"

"Oh, I'm just thinking about the Joe Thomas case. Mona Thomas doesn't know anything, and naturally, we won't get anything out of Jacob. We need to talk to more people. I think we need to go and talk to Joe's teacher. He or she might have something useful to say. Let's head back to Crawford this morning. Okay?"

When they arrived at Crawford's elementary school, the clerk in the Principal's office said, "Joe's teacher was a Mr. Adams. Classes are just letting out for morning recess. You might be able to catch him in his classroom. It's Room 118 down at the end of that hall."

When Mark and Corky entered Room 118, they found Mr. Adams seated at his desk marking papers.

"Mr. Adams?" asked Mark.


"My name is Mark McLeod. I understand you once had a boy in your class named Joe Thomas."

Mr. Adams said, "Please, Mr. McLeod, have a seat. Do you know something about Joe?"

As Mark squeezed himself into one of the small children's chairs, he said, "Well, Joe has been missing and no one knows his whereabouts, including his parents." Mark announced that he was a private investigator.

"He hasn't shown up for school now for some months," said Mr. Adams, as he joined Mark and Corky in one of the small chairs. "We've called his home, but no one ever answers the phone."

"What can you tell us about Joe?" asked Mark

Mr. Adams said, "Joe was always such a sad little boy. And he was very small for his age. I noticed on many occasions that he had bruises on his arms and neck. One day he had a very large swelling on one side of his face and, on another day, he had a very angry looking black eye. Once I noticed that he wanted to stand at the back of the room and wouldn't sit down, even when I asked him to. That was the day, Mr. McLeod, when I took him into the boys' room. I suspected the worst and asked him to take down his pants. I saw that there was blood on his underwear, which was, by the way very dirty. It looked as thought he hadn't had clean underwear in weeks. And then I saw his little cheeks bruised and red as a beet and covered with welts. I asked him how this happened and he started to cry. I just instinctively knew it had happened at home. I had seen other children who had been abused at home."

Mark said, "Did you report what you found?"

"Indeed I did," said Mr. Adams. "Both the Principal and I reported it to the juvenile authorities, several times, in fact. But of course, they did nothing. Those people are useless. Then Joe stopped coming to school. After several days, I asked the mother of another of my students if she knew something about Joe. They live in a small house across the road from the Thomas's. She told me that Mrs. Thomas had said that Joe had moved away to live with another relative. But she was suspicious that something else was going on."

"What were her suspicions?" asked Corky.

"She didn't say anything more. I think that you probably should talk with her yourself. Her name is Mrs. Schroeder, and her son's name is Otto. Otto's a smart little boy, and very well behaved. And his mother comes around here frequently to see how things are going, as a good mother should. She's a widow and has very little money. They live very simply in a very small house. You know, that area is pretty run-down. Here, I'll write down their address for you. She's a very good seamstress and does alterations in her home. So she is surely to be home when you call on her.

"Thank you, Mr. Adams," said Mark, as he got up to leave.

"Oh, Mr. McLeod," said Mr. Adams. "Joe was such a sweet little boy. My heart ached for him every day. I wish I could have done more for him. Would you mind keeping in touch with me if you find out something?"

When Mark and Corky got back in the car, they smiled at each other. Corky said, "Did you recognize him?"

Mark said, "I sure did. On the few occasions we've gone into the El Jardine , he was tending bar. It was only on Saturday nights, though. You know, those elementary school teachers don't make much money, and he was probably just supplementing his income by going to San Antonio and working in a gay bar. He seemed like a nice and caring sort of person."

"And he was really good looking, too," said Corky. "He had a very gentle look about him."

When Mark and Corky arrived at Mrs. Schroeder's house, they found her tending a very small garden of Marigolds around the front steps. When they introduced themselves and asked if they could talk with her about the Thomases and their son, Joe, she laid down her trowel and invited them inside.

After Mark told her the purpose of their visit, Mrs. Schroeder said, "I am so glad to be able to talk to someone about this. That family is a terrible family. Their oldest son, Daryl, left home some time ago. I have no idea what happened to him. I often asked little Joe in for cookies and milk with my son, Otto. But he would never do it because he said he wasn't allowed to go out of his yard. He was always so bruised and battered, I knew there was something going on in that house. But the father was so big and cruel looking, I was afraid to interfere. I had visions of his coming over here and hurting Otto or burning our house down or something."

"Did you see anything else," asked Mark. "Do you remember the last day you saw Joe?"

"Yes. Vividly. One evening, I saw Jacob dragging poor Joe out of the house and into the shed on the side. Joe was screaming. They were there for a little while, and then I saw him carrying Joe and putting him in the cab of the pick-up truck. And then they drove away. It was almost midnight when I heard that truck roar back into the yard. When I looked out the window, Jacob was alone when he went into the house."

"Was Joe still screaming when he was carried out to the truck?"

"Well, no, I think he was quiet. It was getting dark and it was hard for me see everything really clearly, but I'm pretty sure it was Joe he was carrying. That's the last time I ever saw Joe. I have been so fearful that something terrible has happened to him."

"Do you ever talk to Mona Thomas?"

"No. She never seems to be alone when she's home. There are all these strange men going in and out." She shook her head and said, "It's a terrible family."

Mark said, "Well, Mrs. Schroeder, I can give you one piece of good news. The older boy, Daryl, is now living with someone who cares for him in a good home."

"Oh, thank the good Lord for that!" Mrs. Schroeder exclaimed as she clasped her hands together.

As they got up to leave, Mark said, "Mrs. Schroeder, you've been very kind . . . and very helpful. We're going to get to the bottom of this. And we'll keep you informed. Also, if you see or hear anything else that you think would be helpful to us, please call me. Here is my card."

As soon as they left, Mark assumed that no one was home in the Thomas house since there were no cars or trucks parked there. He drove the car over into the Thomas's yard. He and Corky walked over to the shed and saw that it was padlocked. Mark took a small tool out of his pocket and easily picked the lock.

As they entered, Mark said, "Now don't touch anything in here, Corky. We just want to look around."

A large automobile engine, partially dismantled, sat up on blocks. The workbench along one wall was strewn in a disorderly way with tools of every kind. In one corner stood a large fifty-five gallon drum, which was filled with trash. Peering into it, Mark saw several dirty rags, but one of them caught his attention. A piece of a terrycloth towel had been crammed down along the side, but enough of it was visible where Mark could see what appeared to be blood on it. Taking a flashlight that he found on the workbench, he took a closer look. There was no mistake. The cloth was soaked through with dried blood. It had turned dark and brown, indicating that it had been there for some time. As he made notes in his pocket notebook, Corky continued to look around. Several tire irons lay on the floor, and a large machete lay on the workbench, along with other assorted hunting knives.

"I think we have what we need here, Corky," said Mark. "Let's get over to the police and see if a search warrant can be issued. I think it's time that the police get involved. They can get in here and impound some of these things and do some lab work. You know, fingerprints and blood analysis."

As they stepped outside and carefully refastened the padlock, Jacob Thomas suddenly appeared from around the corner of the shed. Standing there with his feet apart, he said, "Can I help you, McLeod?"

"Mr. Thomas," said Mark, "I might as well tell you that we are investigating the disappearance of your son, Joe."

Very calmly and with an uncharacteristic look of innocence on his face, Jacob said, "I think I told you once, McLeod, that my son is now living with other relatives. They move around a lot, and I really have no idea where they are now, but I'm sure everything is fine. I think you're wasting your time on searching for someone who isn't lost at all."

"You may be right, Mr. Thomas," said Mark, relieved that this unexpected confrontation was not a violent one. "We just have a few more things we'd like to check out to be sure. I hope you won't mind our checking back with you again, Mr. Thomas."

Jacob continued to wear his innocent expression and said, "Why of course, McLeod. Whatever I can do to help clear this up, just let me know."

As Mark and Corky were getting into the car, Mark looked back and found that Jacob's expression had changed to one of violent rage.

To be continued...


Posted: 10/10/08