He's tracked him across so many miles and so many cut-rate hotels that
he's lost track. They've all begun to look the same: two stars, three,
four--who can tell the difference? But he's a man on a mission. Never
give up; never surrender. This captain has no intention of going down
with this ship or any other.
He's memorized his IP address off
a packet of emails from more congenial times printed out and poured
over many a lonely 3 A.M. From there, finding him is easy. For
insiders, there's a "backdoor" to the fare-tracker that goes the other
way. He plugs in the IP and voila! Leonard's in Boulder this weekend.
Bill books a flight (full fare) and is there the next day.
It's the opposite of the sage real estate maxim: find the poshest suite
in the most déclassé lodgings, and that's where they'll have put him
tries a Clarion and a run-down Marriott with no luck. Third time lucky?
His spider senses tingle as he nears the door. This time he's sure he's
right. He raps: two sharp ones, crisp and determined, that snap with
the strength he used to have in days of old.
"Bill!" The single
word rings out more with surprise than acknowledgement, but it doesn't
matter. Bill steals the moment to wedge his foot in the door, his body
at the ready to slide in after it.
The space beyond is dark
and dim, but Leonard stands robed in white. As his eyes blink to try to
accommodate to the change, Bill fumbles for the words that will somehow
make this right.
"Leonard, you look…" At edge of his vision, a
full-figured woman gathers a robe about her before easing though a door
to an adjoining room.
"Now is not a good time," says Leonard.
He blocks the entrance with the spread of his shoulders, and the
terry-cloth slips just a little wafting Polo cologne and memories in
"When was it ever?" Bill says and somehow
wiggles his way past Leonard's defenses. The physical ones certainly.
The rest, it remains to be seen.
Leonard swears it will be the last time, but he's said that so many
Bill's at the window staring. "Poolside? How did you get poolside.? I
always got the parking lot."
"I hadn't noticed." Leonard pulls shut the heavy drapes and hastens
Bill out of public view.
tapered fingers close and curl around his waist and torso, like they
have so many times before, and Bill smiles as if to say, "It was my
plan to make you touch me there." At first he doesn't seem inclined to
move, but after a moment he does.
Leonard moves a camera from a chair and sinks into the plush seat.
what are you doing here?" He lights a cigarette he's supposed to have
quit last year and the year before and three years before that and five
years before that. "We've both moved on to other things." Absently he
toys with the camera in his hand.
"Some things aren't so easy to give up." Bill tosses him a bedroom
"I know." He wishes they were talking about the damned cigarettes. Or
even liquor. At least they can only kill you once.
"I see you around. You look…good." Bill scans him up and
softens a little. He tries, but time passes, and an old actor's ego
never dies: it is good to hear. Bill's at him now, in front of him,
over him. Bill takes him by the shoulders like he used to, and Leonard
knows that--like it or not--he's already fallen again.
slips his hand under the robe to his chest and the touch is more
exquisite than any smoke, any drink any high he's ever known. He'll go
to a meeting tomorrow, but today he must do this.
"Does the robe come with the room? I never got a robe." Bill's fingers
reach around Leonard's neck. And wrestle for the tag.
eyes fly open, and he struggles to ground himself. He manages to
distance himself a little, in body if nothing else. "What is it that
"You know what I want." Bill sidles closer and slides
both hands beneath the robe, pushing it down, pushing it off. "Don't be
coy. I've never played games with you."
"Why can't you just let it go, Bill?" Despite it all, Leonard sounds
like he wants anything but.
"I can. I don't want to. Is that so hard to understand?"
lips traipse and tease against the crook of his neck--more than a
breath, less than a kiss--like Bill himself, something unexpected and
impossible to define.
"Bill." Impossible to control and
impossible not to love. Not that Leonard's ever tried. Addicts know
that even if when they don't use, the fervor is forever there.
Leonard reaches for Bill's belt.
if we team up?" Bill murmurs into his neck. "We could be good together.
We could be so good. Like the old days, you and me. Fifty-fifty.
Captains both of us. I'll keep 'set your own price'--"
"Oh for God's sake! Is this about the contract?"
"Not only the contract--" Bill blinks at him.
"Get out. Get out now!" Leonard points to the door and once again, that
erection seriously threatening the tensile strength of his button-fly
501's, Bill shrugs and unpockets his PDA. He pulls up Priceline.com.
Oh, look! Leonard's going to be in San Diego next Friday. That's a
chance to break out his Speedos, and there's a fantastic sushi