Danny rinsed out his sweaty clothes in the shower and hung them in the hot laundry room to dry, then tied a tiny damp towel loose and low on his hips and headed upstairs for his massages.
Preoccupied as he was with plans for the evening, he was nevertheless deliciously aware of his own power to draw admiration to himself as he loped easily up the stairs, glistening and tight and perfect, his big cock heavy and bloated from exertion and fantasy perfectly visible through the thin towel and bouncing from thigh to thigh as he walked along the open galleries; he didn't take time to stop and look at himself in the many reflective surfaces on his way to the third floor, at least not until he got to his massage room and had a moment to study himself unobserved in the full-wall mirror there.
Though Danny was by no means ashamed of his vanity, he didn't like to be seen preening in front of mirrors... he preferred for people to think that he was largely unaware of his great beauty, and that all this exercise and personal maintenance was done just for the fun of it: Danny was well aware that the world is quick to reward beauty, but even quicker to punish conceitedness.
He noted the almost immediate effect of the combined Pilates and aerobics sessions, focusing particularly on the attenuation of his dimpled buttocks and pelvic girdle flexing beautifully above the white highlight of the towel; dropping the towel and trying out a few erotic poses, he considered that he should pull back on his shoulder-work, as his deltoids were becoming somewhat striated... which, if let develop too far, would ruin the stylized fluidity of his upper body.
The theme of his body-work was to create a light and voluptuous sculpture, with rich, almost spherical curves to the upper and lower body, and all the attenuation concentrated at the waist... the power should be in movement rather than in mass, and the most compelling movement should be pelvic and therefore sexual. Anything that made Danny look as if he were capable of or inclined to any kind of manual labor or feats of pure brutish strength would destroy the gleaming elegant perfection of a stud racehorse or a bronze god in flight that he sought.
Danny was not alone with his reflection for long; he exchanged a few distracted pleasantries with his masseur, Moe (short for Mtombo, an extremely tall and stately Tanzanian with huge hands, glossy skin the color of pumpernickel bread, and a meticulously shaved and monumentally handsome head), and lay face-down on the warm padded table to let Moe do his work; as he pushed and kneaded at Danny's muscles, Moe habitually sang pop tunes very quietly and at the tempo of a requiem, his Commonwealth-accented basso profundo voice soothing and reverent despite the nonsensical lyrics.
The sexual tension that Danny enjoyed with his Pilates instructor would not have worked with his masseur; he and Moe had engaged in a brief but intense affair when Danny first started coming to him for massages, getting to know each other's bodies quite intimately and burning out any physical curiosity they had about each other. They remained friends, and Moe's practiced familiarity with Danny's every reflex and nerve-ending made his massages infinitely more effective and satisfying.
But while Danny usually turned his mind off during these sessions and let the pleasure and comfort of the massage take over his entire consciousness, closely following the progress of Moe's enormous strong hands as they addressed one muscle group and then another, today his fantasies about the proposed evening in a hustler bar filled his mind and distracted him from the massage.
And so as Moe worked his magic unheeded, Danny pondered what it was, exactly, that made hustlers so glamorous in his mind. He supposed that it was, for the most part, a natural envy of one socioeconomic class for another... though your average starving street hustler would probably be better justified in envying the comfort and security with which Danny had always lived, your average priveleged youth nevertheless admires the possessionless and connection-free life of the runaway, who can move from one time and place to another without carrying or arranging for anything, without telling anyone or seeking anyone's permission.
But the real attraction for Danny was the immediacy of the hustler's life, or at least the hustlers' lives he'd read about: everything in these young men's lives was of the moment, everything happened to them unexpectedly, their concerns seldom reached beyond the next five minutes, the next twenty dollars, the next meal, the next shelter for the night. They had big dreams about suddenly "making it," winning security and comfort without any effort on their own part, but had no real ambition to be anything other than what they were, no concept of their own age or mortality, no thought for what was coming. They took life as it came, adapting to new circumstances without even realizing that the circumstances had changed, carried through time on a smooth stream of unimaginitive carelessness.
"On your back, now," Moe instructed, giving Danny a tap on the butt.
Underlying the glamourous immediacy, there was a sort of "noble savage" assumption, held by many intelligent people, that unintelligent people are by nature happier than intelligent people. A young man who wanders through life without considering or even being aware of the subtler ramifications of that life must by necessity be happier than someone who was all too aware of them and couldn't help but think about them all the time; a boy too stupid to realize that he would soon lose his looks, get old, and die, too dense to consider the thousands of possible outcomes and consequences of his every action, must exist in a state of bliss unimagineable to a boy who was plagued by such thoughts and who sometimes couldn't sleep at night for worrying over them.
This lack of intelligence, the admirable fearlessness that went hand-in-hand with common thoughtlessness, was the hallmark, in Danny's imagination, of the street hustler... and though he knew their lives to be sordid, dangerous, hardscrabble existences, he believed they were infinitely freer and happier than himself, more involved in the moment and less burdened by doubts. These literarary representations of hustlers seemed so deliciously uncomplicated, and Danny loved them for it.
"Will we be having the 'happy ending' this afternoon?" Moe growled enticingly after finishing Danny's massage at the groin, wrapping his enormous hand around Danny's inevitable erection.
"I think I'll save it up for later, Moe," he replied, sitting up and kissing the masseur with great affection.
"Heavy date tonight?" Moe rubbed the excess massage-oil from Danny's skin with a warm, rough towel, again invoking that long-ago nanny and the brisk comfortable intimacy of being cared for.
"I certainly hope so," he smiled, tucking his hard cock under his thigh in hopes of discouraging it with discomfort.
"I'll go get your river-rocks, then, and save this up for later, too," Moe lewdly grasped his great cock, as monumental and handsome as the rest of him, through his white uniform pants.
Danny reached out and ran his hand over the long linen-wrapped bulge, more than tempted to revisit it but still determined to save his next orgasm for later, "I think I'll skip the river-rock massage today, sweetheart, I don't think I can sit still for it."
"It is awfully boring, isn't it? Just laying there with hot rocks on your back, and I don't even get to touch you! Some of my clients seem to need the down-time, but I'll be glad when this fad is over. You'd better stop pulling like that: if you're not going to come, I don't want to, either. How about a sea-salt and bilberry rubdown instead? It will make you feel tingly and nice."
"I already feel tingly and nice, thanks," Danny hopped off the table and wrapped his scant towel around his waist, trying to concentrate on something else so that his cock would lay down and behave, "and hungry. I'm going to go have lunch instead... but you make sure to charge Parker for the sea-salt and bilberry scrub, anyway."
"That was my intention... when you schedule an appointment, I sign my time-card for the appointment, whether I'm putting rocks on your back or playing with myself alone," Moe winked at him and ruffled his hair, then went about tidying the room for his next massage, "I'll see you on Monday, yes?"
"Absolutely! Have a good weekend!"
Danny made his way back down to the ground floor, relaxed and lively and half-hard still, and decided on a short pore-opening sit in the steam-room before he got dressed. The spacious and extraordinarily clean chamber was a little too busy, though, with four old men fiddling with themselves under their towels while watching a pair of young exhibitionists put on a bit of a show in the corner, so Danny left again without breaking a sweat. Not wanting to strip off the emolliating oils of the massage, he skipped the second shower and slipped his just-dry clothes over his gleaming skin, then went back to the locker room to put on his socks and shoes in order to be seemly for his usual after-workout lunch.
Though the long counter and group of tables at the end of the pool was designated as the "Juice Bar," it was in fact a full-service restaurant offering a rotating menu of highly nutritious gourmet salads and entrées along with the usual protein shakes and fruit smoothies; the club's resident nutritionist had also concocted a series of "mocktails" to serve in place of aperitifs and wine, strange but interesting blends of clear herb essences and fruit extracts with healthful properties, elaborately garnished and served in traditional cocktail glasses.
Seated at his favorite table overlooking the swimming-pool, his body humming with endorphins, picking at a huge slab of steamed mahi-mahi on a bed of spinach wilted with a warm citron vinaigrette and tossed with blood orange wedges and asparagus pickles, sipping at a huge cobalt bottle of Italian mineral water and occasionally clearing his palate with a ruby-colored aperitif concocted of cava-cava with pomegranate and cranberry essences, and leafing through a San Francisco lifestyles magazine in search of pictures of himself or his friends at various Social events, Danny felt a return of the happiness he'd felt on awakening.
"This is living," he said to himself, gloating over how good he looked in an unusually clear picture taken of him drinking champagne with a Pulitzer-winning playwright at a fundraising event for one of the local theatre groups.
"Talking to yourself, Beauty?" Parker Weintraub asked, ruffling Danny's hair as athletic men were wont to do, and seating himself at Danny's table, "You're too young to start slipping into dementia."
"I was just expressing my appreciation to the Powers That Be for how good I feel right now," Danny replied, leaning over to give Parker a peck on the cheek, resting his head slightly against Parker's face for a moment and leaning his hand on Parker's shoulder. Among Danny's many invaluable social skills was his ability to remember how hundreds of different people like to be greeted... with a wave, a handshake, a hug, a touch, air-kisses, damp or dry pecks on the cheek or the lips, or full open-mouthed kisses... everyone had a favorite, and Danny always gave each of them what they wanted.
"Prayers of gratitude, is it? And to nameless gods? How New Age of you. A sure sign of mental slippage," the older man laughed, snapping his fingers at the passing waiter, who responded speedily by setting down a tall frosted glass of iced green tea before his employer, "Any good piccies of yourself on the Society pages, pet?"
"Just two this month, at the Players' Guild and at that silly gallery opening. But that's just Westbay View, I haven't seen the other magazines yet," Danny slid the open magazine around the corner of the black-marble table so Parker could see it. As Parker studied the magazine, Danny studied him, wondering if he would look anything like that himself in thirty years' time.
Parker had not aged as gracefully as Danny thought he should; though just past fifty, he still retained the excellent physique and razor-elegant bone-structure of his youth as a physique model and professional sweetheart (not unlike Danny himself), but he had unfortunately clung a little too long to that youth, and ended up looking just a trifle desperate: his skin was too deeply tanned and too tightly stretched, resembling a well-cured but rather thin leather; his hair was suspiciously thick in the front, with someone else's locks woven in to his own thinning hair, which was dyed too dark and cut in a style far too foppishly tousled for an adult; his clothes were similarly too-youthful, trendy to the point of being a caricature of the trends, and leaning toward the slutty. Instead of presenting an image of the mature successful businessman he was, he looked like a party-boy who'd been left out-of-doors during bad weather.
He was still great-looking, of course, nothing could obscure the beauty that had been the moneymaker of his youth, winning him a legion of wealthy admirers, one of whom died "in the saddle" and left him a fortune with which to build his own fitness empire; but there was something tragic and slightly unseemly about Parker's attempts at maintaining youth, and Danny worried that he might be similarly unable to adapt when the lights went on for Last Call and youth was inescapably over.
"I don't know what you see in these people," Parker shook his head as he perused the other photographs on the page, "They're so unnatractive. I mean, you'll never hear me knocking rich old boyfriends, but who dresses these women? That chiffon number is so obviously from Sak's, but she wears it like it's from Sears. This one needs to be told that nipples do not belong under the solar plexus. And what's with the Gloria Vanderbilt rictus grins? They all look so hungry and frightened."
"It's a WASP thing," Danny replied with a laugh, "Even when you're having fun, you're supposed to look like you're suffering. It keeps the peasants from revolting."
"Here's an exception, though," Parker pushed the magazine back with his finger pointing to a picture on the next page, "he's just about the prettiest straight boy I've ever seen, and she looks like a cross between Greta Garbo and Nicole Kidman. And those aristocratic names are so cute. Do you know them?"
The couple Parker was pointing out were not unfamiliar to Danny, he had seen them at various Arts events, but he'd never spoken to either of them... they moved in that most rarified circle of the super-rich, with the Gettys and the Spreckleses and the Hollywood celebrities and the visiting royalty of foreign nations; it was in some ways a literal circle, a close-herded flock for which the bodyguards that came to keep an eye on their diamonds created a sort of Armani-clad wall between them and the merely Social like Danny.
"I don't know them to speak to, but I've seen them around. 'Baron Valerien de Seguemont and Marquesa Willard-Wilkes at the Players' Guild fundraiser,'" Danny read the caption aloud, studying the softly beautiful youth with his stunningly beautiful female companion; he was in impeccable black-tie, and the contrast of the starched white and sharp black with his romantically long ash-brown hair and huge violet eyes was fascinating; she was dressed in a dramatic gown of deep blue jersey and wore an enormous square yellow jewel on a diamond chain around her neck, with an immense mane of auburn curls cascading around a pale and exquisite pre-Raphaelite face that did indeed combine the dreamy mystery of Garbo and the brittle elegance of Kidman, "They're out of my league... Vanderveres are Orchestra seating, these people are Private Box."
"I'd like to get at his box," Parker leered, leaning over the magazine, "those girly little straight-boys totally push my buttons."
"He is awfully pretty. And she does have adirable style as well as great beauty, a rare combination in that circle. Though I never understood how she could have a Spanish title and an English name."
"Maybe it's a nickname, like Baby or Princess or something," Parker shrugged, turning the page, "or maybe she's Spanish and married an Englishman, but got to keep her title anyway. Here they are again at the Opera... I wonder if they're engaged to be married? They'll make some damned pretty babies. But look at this old bag... she must be a hundred, and she's painted up like a blind hooker!"
Parker and Danny continued to critique the various denizens of San Francisco's haute monde, and then moved on to critique the advertisements and photo layouts in the magazine, making up lewd fantasies about the male models and catty dialogue for the female models, laughing and enjoying themselves immensely as Danny finished his lunch.
After the magazine and the mahi-mahi were devoured, Danny excused himself and returned to the locker room to collect the rest of his things. After checking his PDA to see that no messages awaited him in his voice-mail, Danny calculated how much more time he would have to kill before he could beard Aunt Tittie in her den at the Parrot. If he walked slowly and window-shopped his way home, and changed out of his gym clothes before he walked the two blocks to the pub, he would arrive about midway through Aunt Tittie's first martini.