Friday, March 04, 2005

Chapter 3, Part 1

While waiting for the elevator to arrive, Danny sought to regain some degree of decency by trying to zip up his jacket, but without any success; a bit of the oil-soaked lining had torn loose from the interior, and several saturated clumps of fine silk thread were tangled up hopelessly in the zipper's teeth. There are few things in the world more infuriating than a recalcitrant zipper, and Danny was near to tears with frustration.

The elevator doors opened with a melodic chime, and Danny rushed in, mumbling and swearing, his attention still focused on getting the zip past the Gordian knot of oily silk... but halfway in, he perceived two pairs of feet directly in front of him, one pair in gold-embroidered scarlet and one pair in glossy black patent. He stopped dead in his tracks, looking up to gape at the unfortunate straight couple in furs who were pressed against the back wall, obviously startled by Danny's sudden and unorthodox appearance.

"Oh! Pardon me," Danny gasped out after a long moment of just staring like a deer caught in headlights, and started to back out of the elevator... only to bump up against the now-closed doors. To make matters worse, the elevator started moving upward, rather than down. Worse still, Danny recognized the couple immediately: it was the beautiful A-List pair he'd discussed with Parker Weintraub over lunch while perusing the society pages, the tall red-headed woman wearing a floor-length chinchilla cape and the slightly shorter brown-haired boy in a sable trench-coat.

Danny felt the blood mounting in his face and neck as he blushed furiously; mumbling an apology, he quickly spun around to face the button panel and started pushing on the Lobby button repeatedly. These people are going to recognize me any minute now, Danny thought miserably, and if not now, at the next Social function we attend. It will get around that I run loose in luxury apartment buildings half-naked and drenched in oil, and my reputation will be shot to Hell.

And as if he weren't miserably embarrassed enough, Danny soon realized that the wide button-panel was made of smooth, highly reflective brass, and stretched from the carpeted floor to the coffered ceiling of the elevator like a full-length mirror... and he still had an erection that simply would not go down, undisguisably huge and perfectly delineated by the thin oil-soaked denim of his jeans, with part of the head visible over the low razored waist. Attempting ineffectually to cover the thing with his hands, he glanced into the brass panel and confirmed that the couple behind him had (and were taking full advantage of) a clear view of this impressive but humiliating sight.

Wishing he could sink right through the floor, even if it meant falling to his death in an elevator shaft, Danny pushed harder and faster on the Lobby button, hoping to vent his humiliated confusion by taking it out on an inanimate object. The frosted glass button, however, was unable to withstand so much force and movement; it cracked in half and collapsed inward, catching Danny's finger in forward momentum, dragged a wildly painful cut from the nailbed to the second knuckle, and jammed it into a tangle of sharp broken wires that sent a few hundred volts of electricity running up the iron-rich veins of his arm.

"Fuck!" Danny screamed, jumping backward and falling to the floor, dazzled by the pain of the shock. The little oak-paneled elevator car came to a sudden jolting halt as the fuses controlling its mechanisms shorted out; the lights went out, too, but lit up again as the secondary power came on; this secondary electrical source, however, only powered the little crystal light-fixture and lights behind the floor-indicator, not the mechanism of the elevator. They were stuck between the tenth and eleventh floors.

"What a hideous cliche," drawled a deep baritone voice over Danny's head. Looking up in surprise, he realized that this masculine sound did not come out of the boy, but rather from the person he had thought was a woman, "two friends trapped in an elevator with a hot shirtless boy. How many porn films contain just such a scene? Cue the cheezy synthetic disco music."

"I've never seen such a film. You must lend one to me sometime," the boy responded in the same stagey drawl, though in a light tenor voice a full octave higher than his companions, as if it were a well-rehearsed cross-talk act; then he turned to look into Danny's face with sudden recognition, "Didn't we meet you at the Black & White Ball? And at the Player's Guild last week with Whatsisname the playwright?"

"We didn't meet, but I saw you there," Danny answered sheepishly, taking his injured finger out of his mouth to do so.

"Well, we're meeting now. I'm Baron Valerien de Seguemont, and this is Marquesa Willard-Wilkes," the boy put out his hand and helped Danny to his feet.

"Marcus Daniel Vandervere the Fourth," Danny blurted out, inspired by his confusion to arm himself with the richness of his name in full... something he seldom ever revealed to anyone, yet had just used twice in one hour, "but my friends call me Danny."

"Vandervere? Of the toilet-paper Vanderveres?" Marquesa asked, shaking Danny's hand gingerly, avoiding the oil and blood that dripped from his fingers, "How delightfully Jamesian! The vulgar article of domestic use!"

"What are you talking about?" Valerien cut in, confused by this remark.

"The Ambassadors, the conversation between Strether and Miss Gostrey about the Newsome fortune," Marquesa explained impatiently, "I know you've read it, Val, it was assigned in junior English."

Valerien shrugged eloquently and rolled his eyes a little. He hadn't liked Henry James and had expunged The Ambassadors from his memory immediately after final exams.

"Most of the people I meet wonder where they've seen the name Vandervere before," Danny enlarged on this, delighted to meet somebody else in the world who had read The Ambassadors, though slightly embarrassed, as Vanderveres tend to be, when talking about the real source of the family fortune, "and they seldom remember they've seen it embossed on the toilet-paper and seat-cover dispensers in public restrooms all across the country. Royal Vandervere is the West Coast's leading producer of commercial-grade bathroom tissues."

"A noble product, supplying an inescapable human need," Marquesa smiled, "My money comes mostly from the perfectly idiotic kitsch-camp beach movies my father produced in the 60s, and have been in constant syndication on late-night local television for three decades. Entirely useless. And though they like to think of themselves as great bankers and vintners, Val's people haven't done a lick of work in eight hundred years. So you be proud of your toilet paper, darling."

"You're bleeding," Valerien gasped when he noticed the blood dripping from Danny's injured finger, and whipped a white handkerchief out of an inside pocket to wrap around the cut.

"It's nothing," Danny answered in a whisper, stunned and excited by the sudden intimacy of holding hands, even if through the membrane of soft French linen, with this beautiful violet-eyed boy. Valerien's face was extremely appealing and pretty without seeming feminine, his squared oval face graced with subtle high cheekbones and a tiny cleft in his chin; his large eyes slanted up toward the center of his face, giving him a questioning expression, and were fringed with a thick brush of silvery brown lashes; he had broad, strongly arching and rather dramatic eyebrows, and his nose was quite long and large, but well-molded and aristocratic, his mouth a small and succulent but very boyish rosebud with adorable little dimples like parentheses at the corners; his pale golden-cream skin had a delicate strawberry blush and just a hint of freckles over the nose, and his light-brown hair was soft and wavy and gleaming with a silvery sheen, fluffing out around his small delicate ears and the nape of his long but sturdy neck. Danny had a quite vivid urge to pick the young Baron up and either kiss or tickle him.

"These little rooms get hot when they're not moving," Marquesa exclaimed, diverting Danny's attention while shrugging off the magnificent chinchilla cape and letting it drop carelessly to the floor, revealing a dramatic Belle-Époque-styled gown of ruched magenta satin and a dazzling parure of diamonds and rubies that could only be the work of Van Cleef & Arpel.

Danny was unable to quite decide on Marquesa's gender: though the deep baritone voice was distinctly masculine, the beautiful face was completely female, and not just due to clever makeup, being far too delicately-boned for a man, with none of the musculature around the mouth or brow that one expects in a male face. The eyes were enormous, almond-shaped, and a glittering delphinium blue, framed in vivid false eyelashes and subtle smoky eyeshadow; the fine-drawn eyebrows had a high perfect arch, the nose was elegantly sculpted and a little too small, the vermillion-glossed mouth was austere in shape but softened with plump lips; the lightly rouged cheekbones were dramatic and severe, but the jaw was so delicate it looked like one could easily crush it with one hand. The gorgeous curly copper-red hair, which was piled up high in a Regency coiffure held in place with long diamond-studded platinum pins, was too thick and abundant for a man's hair, and the hairline was too soft, with tiny feathery tendrils framing the face.

The other usual giveaways were also absent, no Adam's apple was visible in the long slender throat, the perfectly manicured and brilliantly jeweled hands were long and impossibly slender with narrow oval nails varnished to a high gloss, and no hint of incipient stubble marred the perfection of the translucent alabaster skin. The height was rare for a woman, but not impossible, as could be said of the defined musculature of the well-balanced shoulders and graceful arms... but the voice, it was simply too deep, low and rich and reverberant.

Danny was further inclined to think Marquesa male, based solely on the immediate and inescapable attraction he felt toward the glamorous creature; but then again, Danny had developed sex-tinged crushes on exquisitely elegant women before, so even this was no proof. It was a tantalizing mystery.

"Imagine a Vandervere of the noble toilet-paper Vanderveres coming out of Drayton Marshall's apartment covered in oil," Valerien observed, still holding the handkerchief to Danny's finger and looking up into his eyes with a strangely worshipful but also knowing expression, "You're not his usual type."

"Does he do this often?" Danny wondered which was worse: to be just one of a nameless multitude to get suckered into Marshall's playpen, or to be the only one foolish enough to fall for it.

"Oh, at least twice a week for the last three months, as far as I can tell," Valerien answered, shrugging off his own coat to reveal a beautifully tailored black shantung dinner suit, and producing a theatre-program from the pocket to fan himself, "You're the third I know of who's come out with the oil still on, one assumes the others are allowed to shower first. Before the oil, I'm told it was chocolate syrup; it must have been hell on his rugs. And before that it was mid-op transsexuals. He seems to pursue kink as a vocation."

"How such a troll got past your co-op board astounds me," Marquesa sighed, rummaging around in a jeweled handbag, "and while I enjoy a good gossip about Drayton Marshall's kinks as much as the next person, don't you think you ought to do something about getting us out of here, Val?"

"He was already here when I bought the penthouse," Valerien replied, heading over to the broken button-panel and carefully opening a little brass door concealing an old-fashioned black Bakelite telephone, which he picked up and held expectantly to his ear, "and since he's managed to keep within the letter of the building's by-laws, and pays his maintenance fees on time, there's nothing I can do to get rid of him, even with the controlling votes and the land deed. One could of course make a by-law about letting hustlers loose in the hallways — not you, dear, I know you're not a hustler, but Drayton's boys usually are — but then so many of the other residents might balk at the stricture. Where is that damned concierge? Oh, hello, Tuan, this is the Baron de Seguemont. What took you so long? Yes, I see... yes... never mind, Tuan. I'm stuck in the middle elevator with two friends, in between Ten and Eleven. Has Antonio gone home yet? Well then, perhaps you ought to try calling the Fire Department. Thank you, Tuan."

"How long are we going to be stuck in here?" Marquesa asked, flipping open a diamond-paved cigarette case and extracting a silver-tipped black cigarette, "You don't mind, do you? I'm a little claustrophobic, and smoking calms me."

"May I have one?" Danny asked, and pulled a cigarette from the offered case, "I don't really smoke, but I'm claustrophobic, too."

"This elevator doesn't have fire sprinklers, so be careful with your ash," Valerian laughed, lighting the two cigarettes with a platinum Dunhill lighter, though he didn't join them, "Unless Tuan lost his head and called 911, I expect it will take fifteen or twenty minutes for the firemen to arrive."

"Too long to just stand around on my heels," Marquesa remarked, kicking the exquisite little Manolo Blahnik sling-back pumps out from under the floor-dusting hem of the dress and blowing a huge cloud of smoke toward the ceiling, "yet not long enough to take this damned gown off and get really comfortable. Val, you should have banquettes installed in these elevators, like I have in my building."

"I'll bring it up at the next co-op meeting," Valerien promised off-handedly, loosening his midnight-blue Chinese silk bowtie and opening the collar of his white boiled shirt, "So tell us, Danny, how in the world did you get ensared in Drayton Marshall's unsavory toils?"

"You'll think I'm terribly stupid, but it started off with this idea I had today at the gym," Danny was surprised to find himself telling these two near-strangers everything that had happened that evening, in his usual vivid and charming narrative style, explaining his initial fantasy about hustlers and his visit to Aunt Tittie, his experience of The Brat and meeting Marshall, and finally a blow-by-blow account of how Marshall had tried clumsily to drug him, had skillfully maneuvered him into the oil, and had almost succeeded in handcuffing him to the playpen; he naturally downplayed his more venal motives in coming home with Marshall, but told the whole story with a delightful air of self-deprecation.

These were all things that he might have hesitated to tell his best friend (if he'd had such a thing as a best friend), but he found himself so at ease with Marquesa and Valerien that the story, with all its sordid and humiliating details, just came spilling out of him.

In fact, although he'd just met these two a few minutes ago, he felt as comfortable with them as if he'd known them all his life. They seemed to accept him as one of their own class, though he had considered himself at least one echelon beneath them, if not two; and despite his unfortunate appearance and the unhappy circumstances of their meeting, they seemed to like him immensely and enjoy his company, which made him feel simply wonderful. The facts that he was still half-naked and half-hard, still covered in oil with a handcuff dangling from his arm, and still stuck in a tiny box of an elevator car that he had himself broken, all faded away from his consciousness as he poured his heart out to a rapt and appreciative audience of two.

He had gotten near the end of his story and was considering how to explain his final encounter with Marshall, whether or not he could bear to relate how disturbingly violent he'd become, or how he'd furiously vandalized the man's living-room, when the bronze-grilled elevator doors were pried apart with a huge crowbar and a gust of cool air came rushing into the car.

Two firemen in full kit stood there, one very young and of apparent Italian descent holding the crowbar, and one a little older with a somewhat Slavic aspect carrying an axe, both dashingly handsome as such heroic lifesaving figures tend to be.

"Is anyone injured in there?" the axe-wielding fireman asked with a tone of impatient disbelief, peering up into the car that was suspended four feet from the floor; opening the elevator doors had been absurdly easy, two people of moderate strength could have done it without a crowbar, and he was a little disgusted that neither the hysterical concierge downstairs nor this oddly assorted trio of young people in the elevator had even tried to do it themselves.

"My friend here has a cut on his finger, but nothing serious," Valerien responded, seating himself on the edge of the doorsill and holding out his arms to the older fireman the way a small child would; the fireman, without even questioning the expectation of a grown, if young and smallish, man to be lifted down, put his hands under Valerien's arms and swung him around to the floor. Once the young Baron was standing upright in the hallway, he called back into the car, "Marquesa, would you throw me my coat?"

Marquesa and Danny both slid out of the elevator on their own power, and soon they were all standing idly in the hall. Danny held out his finger to be inspected by the younger fireman, who produced a small first-aid kit from one of the pockets of his coat and administered a dollop of salve and an adhesive bandage to the wound.

"You wouldn't happen to have a handcuff key, would you?" Danny asked the young man.

"Handcuffs aren't standard Fire Department equipment," the fireman responded, amused by the drawing-room-comedy situation and fairly well turned on by Danny's provocative appearance, and favored him with a lewd wink, "But I just happen to have a little experience with these things."

The young Italianate rescuer produced a little metal tool from under the big chrome buckle of the wide black leather strap on his right wrist, which had hitherto been concealed by the big coat-sleeve but which marked him as a well-prepared devotee of the Leather Scene, and he quickly sprung the lock on Danny's handcuffs.

"If you ever want these put back on," the hot fireman whispered to Danny as he pocketed the cuffs and gave Danny's basket a polite grope, "Call me at the firehouse, ask for Tony Franco."

"Thank you so much, gentlemen," Valerien took control of the situation, expertly placing neatly folded bills of large denomination to each of the firemen's hands, "No, I insist! It was silly of us to call you away from your important work to help us out of this ridiculous old box. You simply must allow me to buy you and your crew a nice dinner and a round of drinks, with my grateful compliments."

The firemen, with mumbled and confused thanks (who the hell tips a fireman?) left them in the hallway and boarded one of the operational elevators.

"And speaking of a drink," Valerien continued, taking Danny's bandaged hand between both his own, "I hope you will join Marquesa and me for a nightcap?"

Looking into Valerien's eyes, then into Marquesa's, and clearly reading the unspoken remainder of that invitation, he squared his shoulders and held out an escorting elbow to each of them, "I would be delighted. But do you mind if we take the stairs?"

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Chapter 2, Part 3

As Danny followed his new friend out of The Brat, he flung a glance to the end of the bar, trying again to catch the eye of the large-man-who-might-be-Aunt-Tittie; but although the purple-haired boy was still staring fixedly in his direction, the big Hawaiian-shirted man remained stubbornly in conversation, and Danny simply didn't have time to go investigate. So, filing away the information for later consideration, Danny hurried out the door and found Marshall moving toward the corner and waving down a cab.

Danny caught his breath when Marshall boldly stepped out into the street with his hand raised imperiously, practically in the path of a speeding floursecent-green cab, which stopped abruptly in front of him with a terrifying squeal of brakes. Though wildly impressed with (and more than a little turned on by) such bravado, he was also unduly frightened, and decided that, if that was how you flag down a cab in this town, Danny would much prefer to take the bus.

Marshall held the door open for Danny, gave the driver an address, and climbed in after him. Danny was braced for further lewd behavior, but Marshall sat as primly and quietly in the back of the cab as one would sit in a church pew, didn't speak, and acted pretty much as if he were alone behind the driver; Danny surmised that Marshall must be the type of man who has a public face and a private face, each very different from the other, and the presence of the stolid turbaned taxi-driver was reason enough to put the public face on. Danny was half-tempted to do or say something outrageous and provocative, but decided that embarassing Marshall at this juncture would spoil the game.

After a circuitous climb, the cab eventually pulled up in the circular drive of a San Francisco landmark: the enormous, rambling, vaguely tropical pink stucco building that stood nestled into the crotch of Buena Vista Hill and Twin Peaks, which was visible at some distance from over half the city. Danny had often wondered what the building was, its assortment of odd-angled wings and Italianate cupolas along with its regular rows of smallish picture-windows and mingy decorative balconies might equally belong to a hospital or a hotel or an apartment building. Marshall paid the driver and held the door again as Danny got out of the cab, then led the way through the impressive iron-caged glass doors of the building.

"Good evening, Mr. Marshall," a uniformed concierge bowed obsequiously from behind his hotel-style desk... he was a round-faced middle-aged Asian man with an almost stereotypical accent and a wide squinty grin, dressed in gold-braided green livery that was slightly ridiculous but which lent an air of anachronistic elegance to the deep white marble lobby.

Marshall didn't respond, only nodded somewhat arrogantly, and marched Danny past the long marble-topped desk to the bank of bronze-grilled elevators at the far end of the cool, groin-vaulted hall; Danny looked around him, impressed by the elegant furnishings of the lobby, the quite good paintings and enormous French chandeliers and scattered Baroque chairs, but did not gape around him as a hustler would, nor comment on the design elements as he ordinarily would... the essence of this game was to give nothing away about his own background and education, but also to not specifically and deliberately mislead the man in any way that could be later held against him — it was a game of barely-noticeable nuances and delicately balanced misunderstandings.

Marshall's church-pew behavior continued in the elevator as it ascended to the eighth floor, and Danny's understanding of this facet of Marshall's nature led him to notice that there was a video-camera concealed in the front left corner of the ceiling. But the corridor was unmonitored, and Marshall's hand snaked down the back of Danny's pants as he led the way to the northern end of the corridor and unlocked a beautifully carved oak door marked 8A in elegant raised bronze.

Once inside the square foyer, Marshall was all over him like a ravening tiger, chewing fiercely at Danny's mouth while wrestling his coat off of him with one hand and roughly probing into his rectum with the other... Danny was shocked again, and overwhelmed, but before he could become accustomed to this rabidly passionate Marshall, he suddenly found himself completely alone in the foyer as the urbane WASP Marshall resurfaced and hung Danny's coat carefully in the hall closet, then ushered Danny into the living room and suavely invited him to take a seat on the leather Chesterfield sofa.

Danny found Marshall's sudden changes rather off-putting... he was himself always gentle and graceful in his movements, and though he could be as passionate and rough as any occasion demanded, there had to be a period of segue between his accustomed manner and whatever manner he put on for the benefit of his partner; Marshall, however, ran hot and cold without any warning or prelude, and Danny felt distinctly off-balance as he moved into the room and seated himself in a somewhat defensive posture at one end of the sofa, his arms stretched out along the back with his left ankle firmly planted on his right knee to form an effective barrier to his personal space.

The room in which Danny found himself was elegant, decorated with conspicuous expense and good taste, but was a bit too typical to be really beautiful. It was a spacious and well-proportioned oblong with two square windows on either side of a little fireplace at one end, two somewhat larger square windows in the long wall filled with a sweeping view east to the Bay, and bow-arched doorways leading to the foyer and to the small dining room; the apartment featured herringbone hardwood floors, carved bronze light-fixtures, and recess-paneled plaster walls painted a soothing golden cream color.

The floor was covered with an unexceptional brown-and-green Bokhara rug, and the windows were framed with straight panels of celadon damask; the furniture was comprised of biscuit-tufted brown leather sofas and chairs, in the style of an Edwardian gentleman's club, with a few pieces of cream-colored velvet and celadon damask in the big throw-pillows and Queen Anne side-chairs tying it all together; the lamps were Korean celadon ginger-jars with parchment shades, and there were very few decorative objects on the matching square dark-wood tables that were of no particular style or period, just a few wood and stone boxes and the occasional empty Grecian-style bronze vase; the pictures were all lithographs of sepia-tint watercolors depicting ancient temples from around the world, framed in dark wood and spaced at exact intervals along the walls.

The dining room visible through the archway was filled with a matching eleven-piece suite of Queen Anne reproductions, and featured a chandelier that matched all the wall-sconces, but was otherwise exactly like the adjoining living room. One could not see into a kitchen or any other rooms behind the closed dark-wood doors.

In fact, aside from the large etagère filled with a series of leather-bound books that looked like photo albums and a small representative sampling of classical-music CDs (meticulously and unnecessarily arranged in alphabetical order by composer), the room was the kind that one would expect to find in a four-star hotel suite, or a high-end traditional furniture showroom, completely lacking in personality and giving no clue to the identity of the occupant.

But a practiced eye might have noted that "no clues" constituted a clue in itself: Marshall appeared to be very secretive, for to create such a monumentally flavorless room in one's own home — not just to neglect making a personal statement in a room, but to painstakingly eschew anything so telling and inevitable as a special-interest magazine or a personal photograph — one would have to be actively seeking to mask one's own identity.

The decor made Danny a little uneasy on a purely instinctive level, but he did not fully consider the indicative oddness of such an impersonal living space until much later... he merely noted the generous costliness of the square footage and appointments, and added that to his game calculations.

Marshall retrieved one of the wooden boxes from a side-table, about the size of a cigar humidor but made of teak and deeply carved in the Indonesian style; he opened it on the low coctktail-table in front of the sofa and removed a large oval mirror framed in multicolored antique Chinese cloisonné, a beautiful matching cloisonné-handled knife with an unusually squared silver blade, and a rather large matching cloisonné covered jar-and-spoon set that was probably intended for honey or sauce but which was filled instead with white powder.

Showing great concentration and a dazzling display of the pharmacist's art, Marshall spooned a heap of the powder onto the mirror and separated it into four beautifully uniform lines with the little knife; there was even a matching pair of exquisite cloisonné straws, perhaps modified from pen-handles or chopstick-ends, which Marshall offered first to his guest.

"No thank you," Danny refused with a gentle smile.

"It's coke," Marshall insisted, apparently nonplussed, "it's good shit, totally pure."

"Coke gives me an instant headache," Danny lied blithely — he actually enjoyed cocaine immensely the two times he'd tried it, but refused to use it again for fear of becoming addicted; yet he'd discovered that most people who used cocaine would get defensive and insistent when he mentioned this fear, so Danny invented the headaches — "even when it's pure. I'm allergic, I think. But you go right ahead, don't mind me and my allergies."

"How about some K?" Marshall offered, after neatly inhaling two lines and even more neatly returning the other two to the cloisonné jar without leaving so much as a speck on the mirror, "Or do you like crystal? I have some pot, too, and some GHB? Anything you want."

"A martini would be nice," Danny wondered what Marhall's accustomed guests must be like, if he kept such a huge and varied stash in his home. Danny knew a number of people who kept drugs in their homes, and who routinely offered them to guests, but it had always been the one drug of the host's particular preference that was offered, not a wide-ranging pharmacopeia.

"Bombay, very dry, two olives?" Marshall remembered his order from The Brat, which Danny found unexpectedly touching.

Danny thanked him with a dazzling smile of gratitude, and Marshall crossed the room to the liquor table against the wall, which was set up like a shrine, warmly top-lit and flanked by a pair of Boston ferns on dark wood pedestals, with cut crystal glasses on silver racks and a dizzying array of bottles nestled into a Georgian silver galley-tray that, with the exception of the antique cloisonné cocaine "service," was probably the only remarkable piece in the room.

With his back to Danny, Marshall took a good long time mixing the martini and pouring himself a neat Scotch... and though Danny was more interested in cataloguing the room around him than paying attention to the mixing of his drink, he nevertheless heard a suspicious "clink" as a hollow cheap-glass object came into contact with a crystal object, a sound that was indefinably out of tune with mixing a martini.

When Marshall handed him the drink, Danny studied it closely without appearing to do so, his suspicions roused by the odd clinking sound and then confirmed by the not-very-clever grains of off-white powder which clung to the olives in the bottom of the glass.

Oh, great, Danny thought to himself while sniffing at the drink as if savoring the aroma, he's trying to drug me. And he's clumsily used a powder — what is this, Special K? ground-up tranquilizers? nobody would put speed or coke into a cocktail — when everyone knows a tab of LSD, or a few drops of the GHB he offered, would have slipped in without a trace. Now what should I do?

Although slipping unknown and poorly-chosen substances into a guest's cocktail is a crime against hospitality that should have sent Danny packing, he was unwilling to let the game end just yet... a person so secretive and unexpectedly sly would be fun to gently blackmail, or better yet induce to reform; so he pretended to take a few sips of the drink, letting the tainted gin slosh against his closed mouth, and considered his options. All the while, Marshall watched him like a hawk, waiting for something to happen.

I need to stay in control, here, Danny reasoned, he's waiting for something to happen, so I'd better make something happen. After assessing Marshall with one of his patented smoldering bedroom-eyed stares, Danny launched himself across the sofa and on top of his host, treating him to the same ferocious face-sucking and ass-groping he'd inflicted on Danny when they'd entered the apartment.

Marshall was a passionate but clumsy kisser, relying too heavily on tongue and teeth (as Danny believed was fairly common among thin-lipped men), but Danny enjoyed their adolescent grappling more than he'd expected... he got hard immediately, and the sense of his own power (he had at least fifteen pounds of muscle and fifteen years of youth on the older man) turned him on, too. After ten or fifteen minutes of concentrated liplock and dry-humping, Danny pulled back and looked Marshall straight in his slightly dilated eyes, smiling a wicked, gloating little smile at his flushed, loose-mouthed, heavy-breathing host.

"So tell me," Danny growled deeply, his face only inches away from Marshall's, "what does Drayton Holyfield Marshall like to do?"

"Drayton Holyfield Marshall the Third," Marshall answered very evenly, "would be happy to show you what he likes to do."

Wriggling out from under Danny, Marshall led the way back to the foyer, through a door into a narrow passage, and into a dark room at the far end; as Danny joined him in the open doorway, Marshall reached in and flicked on the light-switch, revealing a playroom lined entirely in black vinyl panels. There were no windows, or the windows were covered up, and various devices of arcane usage were ranged along the walls... nothing like a torture chamber, no whips or paddles or spiked objects which would have sent Danny immediately out of the apartment, but rather a huge array of phallic sex-toys, traditional fetish gear, and assorted restraints.

And right in the center of the room was a huge, square, padded "playpen," a sort of upholstered box two feet high and eight feet wide, covered in black PVC rubber and filled with what appeared to be cooking oil.

"What do you think?" Marshall asked, pulling open the buttons on Danny's jeans and sliding them and his shorts down around his thighs.

"I think Drayton Holyfield Marshall the Third is very kinky," Danny laughed a little but then caught his breath as Marshall knelt down and swallowed Danny's cock right down to the pubic bone, then demonstrated some Olympic-level fellatio skills. He quickly became so enrapt in the exquisite sensations that he only barely registered what was happening when Marshall reached up to Danny's neck, caught hold of the top of his beautiful custom-made shirt, and pulled hard enough to tear the fragile black silk all the way down to the bottom hem.

"Hey! That was expensive!" Danny complained when he looked down and saw the ruined shirt hanging loose from his shoulders (noting, at the same time, a small bald spot on top of his fellator's head).

"I'll buy you a new one," Marshall mumbled around a heaping mouthful of cock, then resumed his heroic work. Danny bade a sad farewell to the ruins of the wonderfully detailed shirt as he shrugged the shredded silk off his shoulders and threw it into a corner of the room.

You bet your ass you'll buy me a new one, and a Cartier watch to go with it, Danny vowed, disgruntled, but his attention was quickly redirected to his cock and the amazing things that Marshall's tongue and throat were doing to it.

Looking up into Danny's face, keeping him very distracted with the blowjob, and curling his arms around Danny's knees, Marshall started slowly shifting Danny across the room to the edge of the playpen. Danny was unfortunately so distracted by the fabulous blowjob that he wasn't even aware of having been moved, and so was shocked when he felt himself being pushed over the side of the playpen... he tried to catch himself, but with nothing to grab onto but Marshal's bobbing head, he toppled over backward when Marshall pulled his ankles out from under him.

Danny’s back hit the bottom of the playpen with a splash, spattering oil all over the place; much to Danny’s surprise, or rather to add to his already heightened state of surprise, the bottom of the playpen was not mere padding, as he had expected, but rather a waterbed mattress that swayed and undulated like a warm sea.

Marshall still held Danny’s ankles up in the air, stripping the jeans, shorts, boots and socks off of him; all the while, Danny struggled vainly for purchase against the roiling mattress and the sloshing oil; and though the oil wasn’t deep enough to cover Danny’s head, it was getting into his eyes and his nose, causing an irritation that, paired with the helplessness of floundering around in a playpen full of oil with one’s ankles held up over one’s head, was rapidly developing into rage.

But just as suddenly as everything else that had happened since meeting Marshall, Danny was free and sliding luxuriously across the oil; he turned over onto his belly and managed to get his knees under him, then grabbed on to the edge of the pen, giving himself a sense of control, and was able to assess the situation better as he watched Marshall hurriedly undress and step into the oily playpen with him.

After a moment’s acclimation, Danny found the warm oil and warm rubber waterbed rather pleasant; and getting a good look at Marshall nude was rather pleasant as well... though he had a little bit of a sag around his waist, and his cock wasn’t anything special, Marshall was well-muscled and smooth-skinned, obviously athletic and richly suntanned all over, easy on the eyes and inviting to the touch.

Marshall turned around a few times in the oil to get himself thoroughly lubricated, and then performed a sort of wriggling swim across the playpen until he was lying on top of Danny; they resumed their makeout session from the sofa, groping and kissing and biting gently, but their embraces soon developed into a wrestling-match... but unlike a proper Greco-Roman wrestling match, or even a more showmanlike professional wrestling match, these two were more interested in creating unusual frictions and suctions than in subduing each other.

Danny was finally enjoying himself completely; though his careful coiffure was ruined, and he probably had a trace of mascara running down his face (it was waterproof, but no makeup is oil-proof), wrestling about in the warm oil with a hard, hot man on the undulating surface of the black rubber mattress was more fun than he’d had all week; his first orgasm, which after a day's self-denial should have shot out of him in a graceful and impressive three-foot arc, was ignominiously caught between their writhing bellies; but Danny was well on his way to a second orgasm when Marshall’s holds started to become more intent and specific, alternating between trying to mount Danny and trying to pry his ass open, playfully at first but by degrees becoming more pointed in his attack.

“I really want to fuck you,” Marshall breathed, nearly succeeding in getting Danny into a businesslike shoulder-lock and sliding his remarkably hard cock between Danny’s cheeks.

“Not in all this oil,” Danny replied reasonably, never so far gone to passion that he would ignore the little practicalities of life, “a condom wouldn’t hold up.”

“Come on,” Marshall wheedled, trying again for the shoulder-lock hold, “We don’t need to worry about all that. I’m clean, and I’m sure you are.”

“I’m not sure, and I don’t fuck without condoms, ever,” Danny pushed away a little more firmly, and assumed he’d won his point when Marshall abandoned the attempt to mount him and returned to his extraordinary cocksucking. He brought Danny through his second orgasm in short order, practically wrenching it out of him, and swallowed the load before Danny could pull out. Marshall slid up Danny’s body again, kissing Danny deeply while pushing Danny’s arms up over his head.

Just as he had been guided across the room to the playpen while being expertly sucked off, Danny was completely unaware that the second blowjob had a similar purpose: without Danny realizing that he was being guided, Marshall had directed their combined movements so that they were eventually shored up in one corner of the playpen, then he started pushing Danny’s arms over his head while kissing him through his post-orgasmic euphoria.

Danny’s eyes popped open when he felt the cold metal handcuff closing over his left wrist with a grinding click; shocked one more time into utter confusion, he struggled uselessly against his would-be captor, but could not dislodge Marshall’s thighs as they firmly gripped Danny’s small waist in a strong saddle-hold... and since Marshall had the upper position, and knew well how to ride a bucking animal, his prospects for getting Danny’s right wrist over the edge of the playpen into the other handcuff looked pretty good.

“Hey, quit it!” Danny shouted, struggling to pull his right arm down with all his strength, but to no avail; with his left arm already immobilized above his head, and unable to brace himself against anything, Danny didn’t have sufficient strength to pull his arm downward out of Marshall’s two-handed, upward-pushing grip. Marshall didn’t answer him, but merely redoubled his efforts to get Danny’s arm manacled, “That’s not funny, stop it!”

Something snapped in Danny’s mind as he struggled there in the oil, and a rushing access of rage that he’d never felt before flooded into his brain. This man had mauled him and thrown him off balance, had tried to drug him, had ripped his beautiful silk shirt to shreds, and had dumped him unceremoniously in a pen full of cooking oil; and now he was trying to immobilize him without asking permission, and was probably intending to fuck him without a condom despite his stated principles. Danny was suddenly so angry that he actually saw red, perceiving a crimson haze clouding around the outer edges of his range of vision.

The adrenaline that was released by this sudden rage gave Danny the extra strength he needed to free his right arm from Marshall’s grip; and in the strength of his downward swing, Danny clipped Marshall right across the nose with his elbow... unfortunately hitting his funny-bone on the bridge, increasing his rage with this added mind-scrambling pain. Pushing Marshall off of himself with a solid knee-kick to the lower back, Danny launched himself spectacularly out of the playpen with a backward somersault that would have made his high-school gym coach proud, and stopped to assess how he could get out of the handcuff.

The cuffs were the standard chrome-plated steel model used by police officers and bondage enthusiasts all over the world, loosely attached to the outside corner of the playpen by a large steel eyelet hook; Danny was able to slide the connecting chain down off the hook and pass the empty right cuff through the eyelet to free himself from the playpen, then stood up to look around for the key that would remove the left-hand cuff from his wrist.

“You broge by dose,” Marshall sobbed pitifully, wallowing around on the swaying mattress, trying to get himself upright while pinching his nostrils closed and tilting his head at a backward angle.

“I ought to break your fucking arm!” Danny yelled as he tore frantically through the various lewd props hanging from the wall, “Where’s the goddamned key to these cuffs, you dick?”

“Id really hurds,” Marshall snuffled uselessly; having reached the edge of the playpen, he rummaged around on the floor trying to find something to stanch the blood, finally making contact with Danny’s sheer black silk shorts.

“Give me the fucking key!” Danny saw what Marshall had done too late to stop him, and realized that his shorts were now just as useless as the shirt; he continued to rage around the room, searching every inch of the toy-festooned panels, occasionally stopping to call Marshall names and demand the key. Marshall never answered him, merely mumbling and crying over his bleeding nose; and there were no dressers or bureaus or shelves in the room that might have held a key, so Danny left the room and the sniveling Marshall to hunt through the rest of the apartment.

The next nearest room was a lovely eau-de-nil tiled bathroom, and Danny stopped short for a moment when he saw himself in the etched bathroom mirror, his eyes wild and his teeth clenched, his heaving chest gleaming with the cooking oil that dripped from his ears and the ends of his saturated curls in big amber-colored drops, his cock still absurdly hard and bobbing comically in front of him... if he hadn’t been so angry, he might have laughed at the ludicrous sight he presented, but it did have a somewhat sobering effect on his rage to see how silly he looked. His search for the key became a little more systematic, though he still left a hell of a mess behind as he rifled through drawers and upended decorative boxes.

His fury ebbed a little more with each room, moving through the bathroom into a large bedroom furnished in another matched suite of Queen Anne reproductions, then a similarly furnished small study, then the front hall with its adjoining closet and powder room, back into the living room and the dining room, finally passing through a narrrow butler’s pantry into a small, odd-shaped, and immaculately sterile Moderne kitchen.

After rummaging through all of the drawers in the cupboards and peering into the brushed steel canisters along the grey granite countertops, Danny leaned back against the steel sink to catch his breath and try to reassess his situation. It looked pretty hopeless: covered in oil, his shirt and underwear gone, a pair of handcuffs dangling from his arm, stranded naked in a strange apartment with an even stranger man.

“No, I’m not stranded,” Danny corrected himself aloud, taking a deep calming breath and heading back out through the butler’s pantry, “I still have my money and my PDA, I can have that concierge call me a cab, I can leave whenever I want. I don’t need a shirt, and I don’t need underwear, and I can get these stupid handcuffs taken off at any leather bar on my way home.”

After stopping in the hall closet to retrieve his jacket (coming within inches of the handcuff key he sought, which was attached to Marshall's keyring in the pocket of the brown suede car-coat he'd been wearing), Danny returned to the black-paneled playroom and, ignoring the still-blubbering Marshall, started shoving his still-turgid body into what was left of his clothing; and though he had left a lot of the oil behind as he’d rampaged through the apartment, there was still more than enough of it on his skin to make it difficult to wriggle into his jacket and tight jeans, soaking through the fragile raw silk lining and the thin handsewn denim, and to slosh around in the handmade Italian boots, damaging everything but the jewelry beyond repair.

But his mad-money was still folded in the soles of his boots, oil-drenched but nevertheless legal tender, and his wallet and PDA were still in his jacket pocket... he would never get the price of a new shirt (much less a Cartier watch) out of Marshall now, but the losses didn't appear too great if kept in the proper perspective: they were only clothes, expensive clothes certainly, but at least his health hadn't been compromised.

“Will you please give me the key to these handcuffs?” Danny tried one last time to reason with Marshall before leaving, leaning over him as he lay in the oily playpen with his head lolling backward over the side with the expensive but not very effective fine-knit silk shorts jammed against his broken nose, which was still trickling blood and starting to turn purple.

“I’b nod gibing you anyding, slud,” Marshall spit at him, his voice vicious despite being clogged with blood, his bloodshot eyes and spattered face managing to hold a supercilious sneer, “you broge by fugging dose, you azzhole.”

“Let me get this straight,” Danny’s rage mounted again from this insult, and he reached down and grabbed a fistful of Marshall’s fine brown hair, “you tried to drug me and you tried to handcuff me and you tried to fuck me without condoms, all against my express wishes, and I am the asshole?”

“You’re jus’ a cheab fugging slud,” Marshall screeched wetly, “a dobody, dothing biece of fug.”

“Let me tell you something, Mister Drayton Holyfield Marshall the Third,” inspired to even greater heights of fury, Danny pulled the yelping Marshall to his feet by his hair, yanking out a good many follicles in the process, the red tingeing his field of vision again, “I am not nobody, and I am not a nothing piece of fuck. I am Marcus Daniel Vandervere the Fourth, and Vanderveres don’t take shit like this from any cruddy little parvenu Eli dickhead Marshall. You got that, asshole?”

With a solid slap across the face, Danny shoved Marshall away from him and watched with satisfaction as he skidded wildly across the surface of his ridiculous playpen and fetched up in an unflattering position at the other side.

Freshly enraged, Danny stopped on his way out of the apartment and inflicted further damage on Marshall’s already overturned living room in order to work off the anger, pulling the anally alphabetized CDs off of their shelves, spilling three bottles of pungent liquor over the furniture, and scattering several thousand dollars’ worth of cocaine from the cloisonné jar all over the carpet... nothing really damaging, but terribly expensive and inconvenient to put to rights.

Still worked up, but somewhat satisfied with his revenge, Danny slammed out of the apartment and pushed the call button for the elevator.