KevaD aka David Kentner
And a Good Book
*crawls across bed* Important things first, are these sheets silk or cotton?
Actually, they’re forest green flannel under a patchwork down filled quilt. I like to snuggle in our northern
*shivers* Yeah, I can see why. What are you wearing?
Only as a courtesy, sweatpants and a sleeveless sweatshirt. Commando normally reigns here.
Ah. Hence the down. What are we snacking on in bed while we read tonight?
Pizza! I’ve petitioned the FDA to make pizza its own food group. Pepsi to drink.
Oh, you may never get rid of me now. You wouldn't believe how many people won't even let me nibble a cookie in their beds. If I open this nightstand drawer, what will I find?
. Uhm… the nightstands are small bird’s eye maple school desks made in 1902. No drawers, but the seats fold up.
I see. That's pretty cool, actually. Do you roll up in the blankets like a burrito, or kick the covers off during the night?
Roll up in the winter. I keep the window cracked open because I sleep best in fresh air. During the summer, the sheets are satin, the windows are wide open, and other than a strand of sheet over my chest, everything lolls about in the night air.
Wow...so, can I come back in summer then? Oops...somebody is frowning at me over that one. Never mind. Can I put my cold feet on your calves to warm them up?
If you don’t mind fur. Oh. Fair warning. If I doze off, I’m a hugger.
Mind fur? You've got to be kidding...fur makes me purr. What are we reading?
It’s a full length novel published by Dreamspinner Press. I’d debated telling
this story for a while. When some friends complained to me they were having
trouble finding suspense novels featuring gay men who didn’t have sex in the
book, I went right home and started writing. In fact, I dedicated the book to
Robert, the most vocal of my friends on that issue. Whistle Pass.
Once Robert reads the copy I gave him, if he gives me a thumb up, then I’ll know I succeeded, no matter what else happens.
On the battlefields of WWII Europe, Charlie Harris fell in love, and after the war, Roger marched home without a glance back. Ten years later, Charlie receives a cryptic summons and quickly departs for his former lover’s hometown of
But Roger Black isn’t the lover of Charlie’s dreams anymore. He’s a married, hard-bitten political schemer who wants to secure his future by destroying evidence of his indiscreet past. Open homosexuality is practically a death sentence, and that photo would ruin Roger and all his wife’s nefarious plans.
Caught up in foggy, tangled events, Charlie turns to hotel manager Gabe Kasper for help, and Gabe is intrigued by the haunted soldier who so desperately desires peace. When helping his new lover places Gabe in danger, the old warrior in Charlie will have to take drastic action to protect him... or condemn them both.
CHARLIE HARRIS leaned forward, pinched the end of the Lucky
Strike between his thumb and forefinger, and inhaled the last drag
possible before the smoldering tobacco burned his lips. Easing the
smoke out his nostrils, he dropped the stub to the floor and ground it
out with the sole of his boot. The carcass joined the other dozen or
more shredded on the floor of the bus.
He sat back, rubbed the two-day stubble, coarse as sandpaper, on
his cheek, and inhaled the garbage stench of smoke, sweat, banana
peels, and God knew what else the other passengers had stuffed in the
paper sacks they’d leave for somebody else to clean up. The kid
wearing the coonskin cap and Davy Crockett fringe coat, curled up
asleep in the seat across the aisle, had peanut butter and jelly smeared
around his mouth like cheap lipstick. Why the mother didn’t clean the
crap off the brat was beyond him. Maybe she’d tired of his incessant
running up and down the walkway, too, and was afraid to touch him for
fear of an encore.
Charlie turned his head and stared at the window. The low light
from the recessed lamp above him, under the luggage rack, illuminated
his dark hair. His haloed reflection stared back against the pitch of the
moonless night. Drops of drizzle running down the glass in rivulets
disfigured his features, but not the memories. He shifted in his seat,
resting his cheek on the backrest.
Need you had been the only words on the telegram—not an I want
you stuck anywhere on the yellow paper. The first time Roger had said,
“Need you,” Charlie’d fallen into his arms and bared his heart, soul,
groin, and ass.
He dug the open pack of Luckies out of a pocket in his pea coat,
shook the end of one out, and held it between his teeth. He returned the
dwindling cache to the pocket, pulled out a book of matches, folded the
cover behind a lone match with one hand, and scratched it across the
striker without tearing it from the pack. The tobacco sizzled as he
inhaled. He blew out the match flame when he exhaled and watched the
smoke bounce off his reflection.
What was it? Nine years? No. Ten. Ten years already since the
war ended and all the troops came marching home. Those that weren’t
buried in some rathole of a town he couldn’t pronounce the name of in
some European country he never wanted to see again. He blew out
another cloud of smoke. He wasn’t a twenty-year-old kid anymore. But
sure as hell, the minute Roger said, “Need you,” he’d walked off his
job and caught a bus. For what? A chance of love with a man who’d
walked away without looking back when they stormed the beaches of
the good old US of A?
He rolled his body away from the reflection and stared Moron
at the beige metal above him. Another drag, another burst of smoke.
Lightning shattered the darkness. Thunder clapped against the
bus. Raindrops transformed to a hail of rifle and machine gun bullets.
Charlie jerked. His eyes prowled the terrain for where the
Germans’ attack would come from—goddamnit! It’s just rain. He fell
back against the seat, brushed a jittery hand over his hair, and took a
long, comforting pull off the cigarette. So long ago, so damn long ago,
and still it took so little to bring the horror back to life.
Whistle Pass. ,” the driver called out. Whistle Pass
Charlie sat straight, grateful for something else to fill his mind
with, and looked over the top of the wide brim hat of the passenger in
the seat in front of him. Through the windshield eight rows away, a
smattering of lights appeared in the distance. He crinkled his nose.
Figured. He’d guessed a town in
a hundredfifty Whistle Pass
miles or so from
wouldn’t be more than a pinhole on a Chicago
map. By the few lights, he’d nailed it.
He narrowed his focus and strained in an attempt to look beyond
the glare of the glass and drizzling rain but couldn’t make out anything
except the glow of random streetlights as the bus entered the city. A
porch light here and there indicated houses along the street. The bus
rounded a slow curve, and a lone parking lot light’s glow illuminated
jewels of rain on wet cars. A string of multicolored triangular banners
hung limp. A dealership. He sat back and took in the blur of more
The bus rounded another lazy curve, and the downtown spread
Main Street curbing like a whore. Each
block had streetlamps
strategically interspersed so every storefront was revealed.
Saddle and Tack, Goldman Jewelers, A&P Grocery, Ash Penn’s
Stationery, Matson Jewelers…. Charlie chuckled. The business district
looked about five blocks long, and two jewelry stores were battling it
out for control of the bangle industry.
A hiss from the brakes. The bus slowed and pulled to the curb in
front of a four-story building. A giant L with “Hotel” painted down the
stem of the letter hung from an iron bracket. Rain dripped to the
sidewalk from the base of the sign.
Charlie pushed out of his seat. In the aisle he rolled cramped
shoulders, flexed the stiffness out of a knee, and combed his fingers
through his hair before he retrieved his duffle from the overhead. The
fact he was the only passenger to do so didn’t escape his notice. He
pinched out the final draw of nicotine from the cigarette between his
lips. Dropping the remnant to the floor, he opted to step over, not on,
the butt and strode to the front of the bus.
The driver pushed the handle of the extended bar of the door, and
Charlie stepped out onto the wet sidewalk. Drizzle quickly painted his
face. A drop fell from the tip of his nose. He swiped the next one and
took a deep breath. The air was clean, but beneath the overlay of rain
was a taste of fish. Dead fish. He inhaled another lungful of air. Yeah.
A river was somewhere close by.
Gears hissed into place. The engine revved, and the bus drove off.
Diesel fumes encased in a swell of black smoke threatened to cloak
Charlie. He stepped toward the building, away from the bus’s lingering
stink. The wood-framed glass door had “Larson Hotel” painted in gold
with black trim. He pulled it open, hoping they’d have a room
available. If they didn’t, he was pretty much screwed.
He guessed the lobby’s ceiling to be around twelve feet with three
ceiling fans suspended on pipes to about eight feet. Four black couches,
a few wooden armchairs, and potted plants here and there decorated the
place. At the far end of the room, the elevator’s iron gate stood open,
the operator’s stool empty. A solitary broad-chested man puffing on a
cigar sat on a couch. A snap-brim hat pulled low shadowed his face.
Smoke curled upward, only to be blown back down by the fan blade’s
slow rotation. To the right of the elevator was a wooden stairway, the
banister nearly black from decades of hands sliding over it. A
grandfather clock in a corner tolled 3:00 a.m.
Charlie turned left to the long, dark wood counter. A bank of
pigeonholes, several with keys, was mounted to the wall. He smiled.
Keys in the slots meant there was probably a vacancy. With the office
chair at the desk unoccupied, he slapped a palm onto the silver bell.
The clang rolled around the room. A pair of curtains parted, and an old
man walked out.
“Morning. Sorry. No trains due in, so I was laying down.” He
looked around and lowered his voice. “Most of our guests work for the
railroad. Railroad changes crews in
Not many tourists of Whistle Pass.
late. Looking for a room? Don’t have much right now, though.”
Charlie set his bag on the floor. “Yeah. Whatever you have’s
The old man set a book on the counter. Opening it, he handed
Charlie a pen. “Need you to register. How long you staying?”
Charlie wrote his name underneath a bevy of names without
addresses. “Not sure. You need my address?”
The old man plucked a key from a slot and pivoted back around.
“Not really. Nobody’s business but yours. That’s the way I see it,
anyway. Manager tends to disagree, though, unless you work for the
railroad, of course.” He flashed a wry smile. “But he ain’t here, is he?”
He spun the book around and started to close it but paused. “Charlie
Charlie tensed. The whiskey-dry voice spoke his name like the
employee recognized it. “Yeah. Why?”
The clerk turned, set the key back in the slot, and pulled another
one from a different hole. He handed the key to Charlie. “Had a note to
expect you sometime tonight. Room 412’s reserved for you. Paid in
advance for a week.”
Confused, Charlie looked at the brass tag with a machine-pressed
L and 412. “Who got me a room?” And why a week? Not like the Roger
he knew to have things planned out in advance.
“Don’t know. Note didn’t say. You can ask the manager when he
comes in later. Need help with your bags?”
Charlie picked up the duffle. “Nah. I got it.”
“Good, ’cause I couldn’t help you anyway. You’ll have to use the
stairs. I’m not allowed to leave the lobby since I’m the only one
working. So there’s nobody to run the elevator.”
An amused snort leaked out of Charlie. The old man couldn’t
leave the lobby unattended, but he could steal a few winks in the back
room. He wheeled and noticed the sitting area was now empty.
The thick leather soles of his work boots clunked echoes as he
walked up the stairs. Curtains of fresh cigar smoke hung in the air. On
the second floor, Charlie made the turn and spotted half a cigar
smoldering in a pedestal ashtray. The band identified it as a Red Dot.
He glanced up and down the hallway but didn’t see anything that
seemed out of place, other than a wasted choice smoke. He cocked his
head and listened. Nothing. Unbuttoning his coat, he headed for the
third floor landing.
On the third floor, he stalled his progress and looked and listened
again. A stuttered snoring crawled along the empty hall. Charlie shook
his head and blew out a breath. “You’re just nervous about why you’re
here. Shake it off.” He grabbed the banister and pulled himself up the
stairs, his booted steps rhythmically clomping his advance. At the
midway point, he palmed the ball on the banister break and made the
A Black Cat shoe heel came at him too quickly for Charlie to
react. The blow caught him between the eyebrows.
Charlie slammed against the wall. Pain exploded in his head.
Blinded from shock, he swung the duffle. The weight of the bag in his
left hand pulled him to his right, so he let go of it, balled a fist, and
blasted it back across his front. The backhand blow struck pay dirt in a
jaw. The attacker cursed. Charlie followed up with a right fist to the
shadowy figure coming into focus. His fist hammered into a rib cage.
Charlie pumped two more quick jabs into the ribs.
“Gack.” The man’s torso leaned left.
Charlie reached out, grabbed two handfuls of shirt, and flung the
man past him, into the wall. Staying with his target, he planted his feet
and loosed a flurry of punches onto the exposed back, over the kidneys.
The snap-brim-hatted attacker’s knees bent, and he sank to the
Click. Click. Charlie whirled. At the top of the stairs, two more
men. Young. Late teens, early twenties maybe. Each wore blue jeans
and a black leather jacket, and… each held a switchblade knife.
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My Web Site: http://www.kevad.net/
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