Take THAT Henley.
Take it and WRITE ON IT.
"So tell me, Blaze... Would you care to go for a drive?"
"Sure," Blaze said, finishing the last dregs of his coffee. Arik seemed to be making up his mind whether or not he was happy about Blaze's easy acceptance. Blaze tossed his empty cup into the trash. "Taxi?"
"Rental," Arik said, fishing in his pocket and pulling out a key ring with a plastic tag.
"Cool." Blaze scooped up his bag and slung the strap across his chest. "You drive."
"I was planning on it," Arik mumbled, mostly to himself, Blaze thought, and Blaze followed Arik out of the shop and into the hotel proper. Guests and staff milled about, their strides and stances screaming of self-importance. Arik held the door for Blaze, who smiled his thanks, and Arik pointed to the parking garage next to the hotel.
"Lead on," Blaze said over the sound of horns honking and traffic steadily rolling past the hotel on the busy downtown street. The row of buildings narrowed the sky above to a slim strip of blue. Cloudless, haze-less, a gorgeous day in the making, not too hot and not too cold; perfect early autumn weather.
A group of businessmen split and streamed around Arik and Blaze like a school of fish around a rock, and Blaze instinctively grabbed his long t-shirt sleeves, tucked his hands into them, and put his hands into his pockets. Arik glanced over his shoulder to check that Blaze was there, and then hurried across the street while the light was still flashing. Blaze jogged along, watching the movement of Arik's slacks across Arik's ass, and the way Arik's upper body worked with the swing of Arik's muscular arms, and Blaze cobbled together what he knew.
The first dream had been the city's skyline, moon above and lights below...
The sign read Davenport Conference Center, and it was next to a fountain set in a downtown street sidewalk. A man wearing comfortable clothes walked out of a shadowy parking structure and disappeared into the grand front entrance of the hotel, rolling a carry-on bag behind him.
...the second dream was all Arik...
Hands opened a suitcase, hung a suit in the hotel closet. A razor sliced in careful rows across stubble on cheeks. A fork lifted a bite of food to a well-shaped mouth. A pair of eyes crinkled with laugh lines at the corners. Comb in dark hair, socks on feet, and a full image of irritated exhaustion, a credit card sliding across a counter.
...the third dream left Blaze breathless...
Flush on cheeks, parting lips, gritting teeth, sweat rolling down the center of a wide back... A low moan, a whisper of a name… A turn of a head, out of rhythm and out of time, seeking out Blaze who watched… a whisper… again… Blaze's name… beckoning… inviting. And skin rolled over the top of a hard cock, a flat stomach heaving as release sprinkled a kempt patch of pubic hair and the jut of a hipbone.
...the fourth dream had been on the train coming into the city...
Room numbers 1107 and 1143.
The blond man, the sad eyes, the cigarette, Blaze in bed... A phrase, SINS OF THE FATHER, and the top of a flyer jutting out from a book. The flyer had been from a church, perhaps, the scrawling single word the only color in the black and white dream:
And then, just before they left, a cell phone, a steering wheel, and carnival music. Rarely did Blaze have so damned little to work with, but he'd done more with less and managed to pay his dues on time.
Arik lead Blaze to a Chrysler 300 in an icy blue color. "Upgrade," Arik said, almost apologetically. The car chirped at them as though it was agreeing.
"Nice," Blaze said, opening the back door, tossing in his bag, and climbing in to settle in the front seat. "So where we headed?" Blaze fastened his belt.
"I've got a client meeting at half past ten," Arik replied, hooking a hand onto Blaze's seat and reversing out of the space.
"You need backup?" Blaze teased.
Arik snorted. "Maybe. But you'd probably be more comfortable in the lobby of the building. It shouldn't take long."
"And I'm to be your, what, assistant?"
"God, no. I have one of those, and she doesn't travel with me, thank goodness." Arik weaved through the garage toward the ground floor exit.
"Oh, then maybe the call boy who won't leave until you actually pay him?"
"Oh, the people I’m meeting know I'd pay and pay well." Arik grinned slyly. "More like the call boy who won't leave because he can't get enough."
"So I'm Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman? If I had a damned dime..."
Arik's laugh was interrupted by the sound of a phone ringing though the car speakers. The dash lit up with INCOMING CALL and the number, and Arik hit a button on the steering wheel.
"Good morning, Maria," Arik said.
"He's rescheduling," said a weary female voice, presumably Maria's.
"There's a good reason."
"There had damned well better be."
"Faulty gallbladder. He's in the hospital having it removed as we speak."
Arik sighed, swung into an open handicapped space, and thumped his head against the seat. "Where does this put us?"
"Well, Mr. Boss, and if you don't mind me saying so, Mr. Boss, as I know you won't, Mr. Boss--"
"--but there's really nothing on your plate that can't be pushed, and the man does need time to knit flesh, and he wants to reschedule for end of next week, which could allow you fly home, be a work-a-holic, and return, but I was thinking, Mr. Boss, that just maybe, if you wanted, of course, you might use this time to..." Maria paused, and when she spoke again, her stage whisper was deafening, "...take a bloody vacation for once in your sad life."
Arik glanced at Blaze. "Sure," Arik said.
"I said, 'sure.' Clear my calendar. I'll stay until he's out of the hospital and we can--"
"--set up the appointment, again. I'll stay where I am for at least a couple more nights. Will phone if I want something more quaint--"
"Who are you and what have you done with--"
"--or anything else, for that matter. Lovely to chat, Maria, good-bye."
"--sick? Near death experience? What the hell is--"
Arik hit the button and burst into laughter. "Oh God, I've wanted to do that for years, but never thought I'd actually get the chance."
Blaze waited until Arik quit giggling, unable to help himself from smiling at seeing Arik so momentarily amused. "So, you know what this means?"
"Other than Maria is going to put salt in my coffee for a month after I get back, no, not really."
"You've got the day free."
Arik sobered and blinked adorably at Blaze. "I do, don't I?"
"Don't worry, I have something we can do."
"Mmm." Arik leaned across the seat and slipped a palm onto the back of Blaze's neck. Sparks flew, and Blaze heard the carnival music, again, but this time he saw...
Blaze was glad Arik kissed with his eyes closed, because Blaze's were open in shocked delight. He got lost in lips and tongue and taste for a few blissful moments, and nosed Arik's cheek when Arik broke the contact. Arik brought a hand up to his mouth, as though it tingled. Blaze wondered if Arik could feel the connection, too, and how interesting would that be, if Arik wasn't immune to the force that had brought them together.
"More of that, definitely," Blaze said. "But if you're still set on the idea of a drive, I think I have someplace we can go."
"We've already got a hotel," Arik pointed out, helpfully.
"What, you only fuck in beds?"
"I..." Arik blinked. "What did you have in mind?"
Blaze sat back in his seat. "Head north on the Interstate, past the exit for the Parkway, and take the one for Manhurst."
"That'll take us out of the city."
"Impressive nav skills you've got there."
"Not going to tell me where we're going?"
Blaze slowly shook his head.
Arik rolled his eyes but dropped the transmission into reverse. "Richard Gere never had to put up with this shit."
"You're right. He just had to eat pussy on a piano."
Arik pulled a face and made gagging noises, and they headed out of the garage, through four lights, across three lanes, and onto the Interstate. Morning traffic had thinned, and the car hummed at ten over the limit.
"The one I miss is Heath Ledger," Blaze was saying, staying on topic of movies and actors for as long as possible.
"Which one's he?" Arik asked, taking the exit with a smooth tilt of the wheel.
"No, I've got this. He was Batman, right?"
"I weep for you."
"What, he wasn't?" Arik asked, glancing at Blaze and at the highway and merging onto the latter.
"He was the Joker. The new one. He committed suicide."
"How awful," Arik said, voice softer.
"That one was."
"Aren't all of them?"
Blaze shrugged. "Depends on their reasons."
Arik was skeptical. "Been around a lot of suicides, have we?"
"A few," Blaze said. But what he thought was, If only you knew, and what he asked was, "You?"
Arik didn't answer for a moment. "Just one."
"I'm sorry," Blaze said, matching Arik's tone.
"Thanks." Arik did the increasingly-familiar thing where he sank into himself, gaze going inward, and his lips began to move with unspoken conversation, wherein Arik had to play all the parts and sides of the argument.
Blaze watched Arik from the corner of his eye. "You'll want to turn left at the light."
"What are we doing, Blaze?" Arik asked.
"Driving, Arik. Preferably in the leftward direction."
Arik gave Blaze a dark look, but obeyed. Blaze could tell there were a hundred questions being born and being put to death before they saw the light of day. Relaxing wasn't, evidently, one of Arik's more honed skills.
Blaze let Arik brood, watching the edges of the city devolve into strip malls and gas stations that faded to sparse sub-divisions and finally to the occasional farmhouse, cows, and open land. A mere ten minutes later, and they were close enough. Blaze rolled down the window.
"What are you doing?" Arik asked.
Arik did, and when he was distracted and stripped of worry lines and confusion, Arik was the kind of appealing that Blaze didn't want to let out of sight, mind, or bed. "Is that...?"
Blaze grinned and nodded. "It is."
Arik ducked lower, chin almost on the steering wheel as he scanned the sides of the road. "We're going to the... circus?"
"Better," Blaze said. "Turn here."
Blaze got no argument, and Arik slowed to a stop when he saw the sign. His face cracked into a boyish smile that took ten years off his age.
On either side of the pavement were pillars made to look like badly painted Grecian columns. They supported an enormous sign that showed a fat princess riding a pig, a spoon and a plate holding hands and jumping over a smiling, stoned cow smoking a pipe, a wizard in one corner with whirling red-black eyes, hands aloft and wand at the ready, and, Blaze's favorite, a goat standing on its hind legs, front ones crossed as it leaned against a wall of open air, sprig of wheat between its grinning teeth.
"What... in... the..." Arik began.
"Welcome," Blaze said. "To Mini-Golf Insanity Land."
Until next time!
Tune in next week for more.
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& ♥A.F. Henley
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