Authors: Elliott Mackle
Tags: #Amazon, #Retail
The walk to Bud’s rooming house took less than ten minutes. I tapped lightly on the door and Bud let me into his two-room efficiency without a word, checking the hallway in both directions before resetting the latch and stepping back. The morning’s wing tips, black socks and cowhide belt were gone. His shirt was open. So was the fifth of Bacardi rum I’d brought over the night before. The bottle was half empty.
“Took me all day to mop up that motor lodge,” he said, his voice going thick when I asked why he hadn’t phoned. “Took twice as long as it ought to have—because of that danged woman rootin’ around in the crime scene and all. Wanted to book her, but Doc sent her off in a ambulance. We’ll have to haul her ass in yet, for general questioning. Was past three o’clock before we got back to the office. Then I had to write it all up in qua-druplicate. Doc was still slicing on old Hillard Norris when I checked the morgue right after 1ten. Didn’t think I should call you at the Caloosa so late,” he concluded, slurring the hotel’s name, “Caloo-sha.”
When he started to say something else, I shut him up by putting my right hand over his mouth and my left hand on his hard-muscled shoulder. He closed his eyes as I eased him down to the carpet.
After switching off all but one of the lights, I knelt down beside him. “Come here, Buddy,” I said.
And he did. He stayed stony-faced and stiff-armed at first, but eventually put one hand on the back of my neck.
“Shouldn’t of taken you with me this morning,” he whispered, tentatively hugging me back. “I put you at a bad risk. Would of been my stupid ass in the cane grinder if you’d got hurt. Wouldn’t of ever forgiven myself.”
I should have told him right then that the bad dreams were coming on like Jap torpedoes. I should have said I needed him to hold me tight and not do anything else until the sun came up. I might have said I was starting to care for him. I might have asked him to tell me he felt the same way. Instead, trying to make sense of the crazy day, I asked him to tell me about the mop-up and what happened later at county headquarters.
“Thing don’t add up, first of all,” he said, leaning back a little so he could run his fingertips down the middle of my shirt front, as if counting buttons. “Colored boy and a white man right there in the same room, both of ’em shot to hell. First glance, it looks like the white man shot the other one. Plugged the poor colored boy right through the ear canal. Pretty much like a firing range and he scored a bull’s eye.”
“Doc knows the wife, doesn’t he?” I said. “Wilma? Willie Jean?”
“Willene,” Bud corrected. “Willene Norris. Dead man was her husband, Hillard. They got a daughter Hillary. Pretty cute, huh?”
“Rings a bell,” I said. “His name does, Hillard Norris. Don’t know which bell, though.”
“You meet a lot of people,” Bud agreed. “Hard to keep track sometimes.” His rum-thickened tongue got in the way again: “Some-timesh.”
“And he’s from around here? What does he do—I mean, what
“Car dealer,” Bud answered. “Rich as grease. Came to the motel last night driving a new Ford and wearing a Hickey Freeman suit. Mrs. Claudette Marie Jenkins was making up stories when she denied lettin’ in any guests with no luggage. When we got down to it, she admitted to rentin’ to Norris two, three times before. And didn’t ever didn’t see any suitcases. Looks to me like he was tom-cattin’. His coat was hanging in the closet, along with his necktie. Had a box of rubbers in a drugstore bag right by the bed. One of ’em been used. Doc found it floatin’ in the toilet.”
“And you said the colored guy was wearing an Ike jacket?”
“Almost like he lived out of his B4 bag. Ike jacket and khaki service pants. Skivvies had a serial number stenciled on the back. I put a call in to Army records.”
“No wallet? Driver’s license?”
Bud lay back on the rug, his hand now loosely gripping my arm. “No ID at all. Hurston said he’s local, and he’s running the ID tonight. Weapon could belong to him, a take-home souvenir from the front. I’ll go through all that tomorrow, far as I can.”
I covered Bud’s hand with mine. “So he shot Norris twice? Then shot himself through the ear and put the gun in Norris’s hand before he hit the floor?”
“That don’t make no sense,” Bud replied, laughing and reaching for his glass. “And there’s another thing.”
“I bet,” I said, leaning up on my elbow, putting my hand on Bud’s hip to steady myself. “A commie-pinko angle?”
Our faces were close again. I could count the thick hairs of Bud’s brows and lashes. He pushed back, sipped the Bacardi, replaced the glass on the rug and licked my ear slowly, up and down. I shivered when his cold tongue hit my earlobe.
“Found a woman’s suit jacket in the room,” he said. “Jacket with a laundry mark. I figure to run that down too, soon as…”
“Sounds simple enough to me,” I said. “One of the men was in the room with a chippie, hunting for doughnuts. The other man came in—maybe he was the pimp, and the other guy hadn’t paid for what he’d ordered. The pimp shot the cheating customer; the chippie shot the pimp and took off. Case closed.”
Bud put his hand on my hip, drawing us closer. “The woman’s jacket was on the floor, not in the closet. Might as well of been a butcher’s apron. Had blood all over it.”
“So maybe the chippie got hit too?”
“Wasn’t no bullet holes in the garment. We still got blood samples to test. Jacket looked to of been kicked almost under the bed. Doc was taking set-up photos when Mrs. Willene Norris hit the beach. I have to speculate that the chippie left there fast.”
“Or the widow Willene leaving the first time.” I was so tired I almost giggled. But the pressure of Bud’s wandering hand, which had now found the inside of my leg, stifled that.
“Right, yes. Could be. Anyhow, Willene, she kicked up a storm and disturbed the original position of the lady’s jacket when she grabbed the pistol. Haven’t seen what Doc can save from his photo plates yet. Camera got broke, you know.”
Bud’s free hand had inched around to my spine, just above the belt, the tips of his fingers moving lazily. “Got to see Doc’s autopsy report before I can do much else.”
“And your boss,” I said, moving as close. “He’ll be back tomorrow wanting answers?”
“Guess so,” Bud said. “He left Ocala well before the convention got through. Last seen in Tampa. But that was sometime yesterday evening. Be better if he gets back right away—to make a statement.”
I made a questioning noise.
His hand was now under my belt, an inch or two inside the back of my pants, pulling up the tail of my shirt. “Reporter from the
showed up just as I was climbing into the Jeep to drive home.”
“Good thing it still drives,” I said.
“Oh, it drives,” he said. “Be taking it over to the shop tomorrow, see if they can locate a surplus windshield. Anyhow, this
bastard wouldn’t let up. Picking and picking, like a buzzard on a highway with a runover raccoon. Kept asking about ‘foul play.’ He said that a bunch of times. I had to tell him I wasn’t at liberty to say nothin’.”
“So don’t,” I said, reaching for his belt buckle, throwing a leg over his hip, wanting only to be held tight.
“We better not,” he said. “The window’s open.”
The window was blocked by thick overgrown shrubbery. Still, I got up, lowered the sash, drew the curtains and returned to his side. I touched the scar on his neck. “The landlady still gone until tomorrow, Bud? That right? And nobody has rented the room next door, at least up through this afternoon?”
He put his hand on my hip lightly, keeping our bodies separated by about an inch. “Can’t be too careful. Don’t guess you noticed anybody around when you come in, did you?”
Bud wasn’t much of a drinker. He said “no-tished.” Answering that except for the two of us the whole town was asleep, I fetched a couple of pillows from the sofa, doused the remaining lamp, slid one of the pillows under his head and settled down beside him. “You don’t have to do anything,” I said. “Just hold me. Don’t talk. Wake me up if I start the nightmares again.”
And that’s what he did for a while, until I dozed off and awoke to the touch of his lips on my ear and his hand on my trouser button.
I moved closer and resettled my arm around his waist. His pants and boxer shorts were gone. His cock was as hard as the bamboo handle of a fishing pole, and about the same stubby shape. Without thinking too much about it, I touched the tip, then explored a little lower. Though the head of his cock was soaking wet, his nuts still hung down in the sack, loose and unready. Moving back to his cock, using my thumb and index finger, I began working the moisture into the flange beneath his short hood of foreskin. Shaking his head, he pulled away. “You sure you want to get into this?” he whispered.
Circling the corona with my thumb, I said, “You’re the one poking me in the belly button, Sarge. I’m just following orders. But, hell, yes, I want to.”
He got most of my clothes off, then turned, leaned back with his head on the pillow, and pulled me on top of him. By then I was as stiff as he was, and almost wet enough to get inside without hurting him. I spit in my hand, added that to what I’d produced down below, found the slot and tap-tapped at the opening. He pulled his legs wider. It felt as if he somehow grabbed my hips and cock and pulled me inside him. Saying only, “Uh, uh,” he clenched and relaxed with short, rhythmic breaths.
“We ain’t keepin’ score, Coach,” he muttered. “Hit me a home run with that bat you got. We can win…but get my jock off, my strap. Help me.”
Leaning forward, I kissed his neck and ears and closed-tight eyes. Pulling out, I took his straining cock in both of my hands, slid the hood back, touched the flange and licked it. He twisted around, as if I’d pinched him hard and he was trying to ride the pain. I touched his nuts. They were drawn up almost tight enough to fire. I pulled on the sack gently, hoping to slow him down. His eyes popped open in surprise. “Could score,” he whispered. “You, Coach?”
Easing down until I was nearly on top of him, I swabbed his chest with my tongue, mopping the track of hair that grew between his navel and his neck. When I touched the tough buttons on his chest with my mouth and teeth, he sucked in roughly. Thick sweat ran off his shoulders and gut and down his sides. He smelled like Lux Soap and salt spray and pine tar. I was steaming too, the sweat soaking my undershirt, running off my arms and down the crack of my ass as I plowed his gut with my cock. Rising up to meet me, our heads now side by side, he touched my cock and my nuts just as I had his. After a few seconds of push-pull handling, first tentative, then aggressive, I had to back away from what he was about to do. Understanding me, he slid both his hands around my hips to draw me forward and inside again.
The dark threads on his arms and the steaming carpet in his pits, the stiff crew cut, the fur on his thighs and calves, the dark mat on his ass—the hair on his body was the sexiest thing about him. That and the scar that ran from his neck down his side. I kneaded the scar with my open hand. It was wet now, like his chest, and heaving.
The hot, closed room seemed to move—yeah, I know, a cliché and a cheap one, but true all the same. I was half dreaming, out of my head. The ship rolled in stormy seas and I was with Mike and Bud both at once, riding the built-in lower bunk in officers’ country, hitting wave after wave, timing my thrusts to the ship’s movement. Both men were under me, both grunting out the kind of words men only grunt to each other. “Yeah, right there, Coach. You got just the spot. Keep on it, Dan. God, God help me. Yeah, yeah. Right in there. I’m dying. Aw, fuck.”
The thing worked for a while longer, Bud still wearing his open shirt, me in just my undershirt and socks, the naked Mike Rizzo there with us and then suddenly gone.
Rocking under me, Bud moved faster and faster, taking five or six little breaths, then stopping. Then repeating the series. “Help me, Coach. Keep on it, Coach.”
Just when I figured I ought to go for a home run and let the man on third either score on his own or take an out, Bud’s movements slowed and then stopped. His prodding cock, hard as a stick between us minutes earlier, softened and retreated. Touching him there, I felt only his coursing, preliminary wetness. When I stroked him with my thumb, the pressure quickly returned. I knew what I was doing. Within thirty seconds he was stiff again. He shifted under me.
“Show me,” he moaned. “Show me, Coach.”
Bud suddenly shook his head and coughed. For an instant, his whole body hardened. Releasing his grip on me, his thick arms fell away, straight out from his shoulders. His palms rolled upward. Christ in a soiled white shirt.
I thought he was about to pop, or popping, and that I would soon follow. But I was wrong—on both counts.
Within seconds, his head turned slowly turned to one side and he passed out for good.
After a couple more thrusts just to make sure his eyes wouldn’t blink open again, I rolled off gently, stood up and looked around for something to clean myself with. A discarded set of boxer shorts was the best I could do.
As I moved away, Bud seemed to shiver, so I detoured into the tiny sleeping alcove, pulled the gray Army blanket off the Hollywood cot, returned to his side, lay down beside him and settled the blanket over the two of us. His hand slipped into mine and he pulled me close. “Best goddamn coach in the world,” he mumbled. “And don’t you forget it.”