kachelofen: (Default)
[personal profile] kachelofen









PARTNERS IN CRIME



PART FOUR


The new posters for the campaign have gone up and were well received although they didn’t make much of an impact. I didn’t expect them to. Nobody actually looks at election posters. They’re more there to keep the candidate in people’s minds. The trick is to find a balance between making sure that it’s Stockwell who stays in people’s minds and not over-saturate them to a degree that they get sick of him. I know how to pitch it just right.

You and I are working frantically on the TV spots for the last month before the election. We cut and re-cut the footage until it finally meets my standards. Although Claudia Warner is disgusted by the result and calls it a ‘virtually obscene pop video’, Stockwell gives his reluctant approval. I know that I’m suddenly a lot closer to my goal. One of my worries has always been that Stockwell wouldn’t accept my ideas. The man isn’t exactly visionary.

“If you wanted to make an anti-Stockwell spot, how would you go about it?” you ask me one day.

I hesitate. It’s not as if I haven’t thought about it myself. Sometimes, when I’m really sick of Stockwell and his cronies, I play mind games along the lines of how I would be able to tear him down just as easily as I’ve built him up. It helps me get through my meetings. “Stockwell’s most vulnerable if people look into his past. He’s the chief of police. There are bound to be things he’d rather keep quiet about. Any unsolved case has the potential to ruin him if you can prove or just suggest that he didn’t try hard enough or deliberately looked in the wrong direction.”

You nod and carry on with your work. I know what you’re thinking but I’m not too worried. TV ads, at least those which make an impact, aren’t easy to create. And an inept attempt at discrediting Stockwell could easily be converted into positive publicity. For now I’m just glad that I’m not the only one who has doubts and still goes ahead regardless. Of course, I would never admit to those doubts.

I barely have time to pay attention to what’s going on outside work. Occasionally, I wonder why I seem to be spending almost all my time with you and make an effort to go out more at night to fuck other people. But I’m so pressed for time that fucking you always presents itself as the more convenient solution. And since the sex is fantastic, I see no real reason to change it. It isn’t as if my friends are around much to notice and pass sarcastic remarks. And making myself scarce at Babylon can only raise my stock there.

The first time you bring your own food to the loft I’m more amused than uneasy, and only interested because it’s unusual. It’s contained in a flat box made of dark lacquered wood and consists of portions of rice, vegetables, fish and meat. You’ve brought your own chop sticks and eat the meal cold. You call it a ‘bento’, a Japanese lunch apparently.

“I really can’t stand take-out anymore,” you explain.

I eat my Thai food unperturbed.

After a few days, when you bring yet another ‘bento’, I notice that the rice is shaped like a face, the eyes, nose and mouth set with small vegetable pieces. I have to smile and take a closer look. You really are an artist. Your offer that I could try some leads to finding myself being fed by you with samples of the different foods. There’s something so cloyingly sweet and intimate about the whole incident that I feel the need to throw you out after work without a fuck. I wouldn’t want you to get too attached, so I go to Babylon instead.

Still, the food is good.

The next day you bring me my own ‘bento’, all homemade, stored in an identical wooden container and lovingly arranged. I hesitate because I feel like my wife’s made my lunch for work or worse, my mother has packed my lunchbox for school. But my resistance breaks down when I notice the rice in the middle being shaped like a penis, complete with Brussels sprouts for balls and pubic hair made of thinly chopped cabbage strips. I laugh and eat. And when we finish our work, we naturally progress to my bed again.

You do all your work from your own laptop, which you take everywhere. When I ask you, if you even have an office, you admit sheepishly that your company is so small that you work from home. It seems extraordinary to me that you managed to persuade Stockwell to include you in the campaign in the first place. Ordinarily, Vangard would never work with such a small company.

“How much is Goldstein giving Stockwell?”

You grin. “A cool million.”

Well, that explains it then. I count myself lucky that you’re so talented because for that amount, Stockwell would probably have foisted you on Vangard regardless of your abilities. I very much doubt that he checked those anyway.

What I like about you is your professionalism. You’re always completely prepared and, unless you’re angling for a fuck, you’re almost more focused on your work than I am. One day you’re in the middle of doing some air brushing, when you suddenly swear under your breath.

“What’s up?”

“Battery’s dying. I’d better save this quickly. I forgot my charger.”

I hesitate for just a moment. My private laptop has a virus on it and my work laptop is sacred. Vangard has strict rules about encryptions and access and I’ve always abided by them. I even lock my laptop in a small safe in my desk whenever I leave it at the loft, a habit I picked up after the break-in. But we can’t carry on working without your programs and it’s still early – too early to finish for the night.

“You can use mine.”

“Are you sure?”

“Sure. I’ll just create a guest account for you.”

I do just that and then watch you upload your work. Or rather, I try to watch you, while you’re standing between my legs and wiggle your ass. Then you grin over your shoulder and push the laptop to one side, before you turn around in the small space between my chair and the desk.

“Now, how can I show my appreciation while this loads up?” You palm your crotch seductively.

With a grin, I decide we may as well use the time wisely and fuck you on the desk. Later when I look over your shoulder as you’re working, I try to ignore the nagging voice at the back of my head which tells me that I would never let anyone else use my laptop. But, as I’m amusing myself with distracting you by breathing over your skin, making you shudder each time, the thought is replaced by more important issues. It’s just as well. I don’t like this accumulation of little exceptions I’m making to my rules.

But it’s when I find myself traipsing around a supermarket with you the next week, that I feel enough is enough. You said that you had to leave a little early to go grocery shopping and I offered to drive you without much thought. I hate grocery shopping, so much so that I do most of mine online because I know how tedious and awkward it is, especially without a car. But I decided I needed milk.

It was natural to offer my help, but as I watch you load the shopping cart with speed and efficiency, it feels too much like… something. Domesticity perhaps, regardless of the fact that the food isn’t for us, but for you and your boyfriend. And that’s another point that doesn’t sit right with me. Why am I doing something that the boyfriend should be doing? And why does it bother me that the food is for the loving couple? I have to stop. This is getting out of hand and I have to rein it back to a more professional level. Or just strictly work and fucking.

The one saving grace is that the supermarket is near your home, not anywhere near Liberty Avenue, so the likelihood of anyone seeing me do this is negligible. On the other hand, I can’t even go cruising here in breederland. To my relief, we’re finished quicker than expected, considering the amount you’re buying. The idea is that you’ll walk from here to your apartment, which you said is just around the corner.

As we’re crossing the parking lot, we’re stopped by a man, who steps slightly in front of you. He’s middle-aged, smartly dressed in a breeder kind of way, with thin light hair that’s starting to recede. He has his own bag of shopping and a large pack of diapers clutched in his arms.

“Justin?” It comes out a little tentatively, as if he isn’t certain he recognizes you.

You look up and your face takes on a strange expression. It’s almost like you’re panicking or maybe you’re just really shocked. You certainly don’t look happy.

“I thought it was you,” the man says. “I didn’t know you were still… in Pittsburgh.” He sounds no more pleased about that than you look about meeting him.

“You can’t tell me where to go, Dad,” you say coldly. “You lost that right a long time ago. And if you get out of my way, you won’t even have to look at me. I’ve no intention of going anywhere near you, so we’ll both be happy.”

The man looks like he’s going to say something else, then he looks at me, while I instinctively put my hand on the small of your back, and he steps aside. I recognize the look of utter disgust immediately and make it my business to hold his eyes and even watch him as he turns and gets into a small van with a company logo on the side.

You stalk over to the corvette and wait for me to unlock it. Then you stuff the shopping bags behind the seat with obvious agitation and we both sit in the car for a while. I offer you a cigarette, which you take, although you rarely smoke, and we stay silent throughout the length of it.

“So, that was your dad…” I say finally.

“Yeah.” Your cigarette butt gets thrown out of the window and I don’t say anything to that. It shows me how riled up you are because normally you clean up after yourself meticulously.

“I haven’t seen him for a long time,” you finally say.

“How long is a long time?”

“Five years. He doesn’t like the fact that his son’s gay.”

I’ve already gathered that from the look the man gave me. Against my usual inclination, I want to ask a myriad of questions, first and foremost whether there’s been any violence. But you don’t look like you want to talk about it and what difference would it make? It’s not as if you’re in any danger from your father now.

“Do you want to come back to the loft?” I’m not quite sure what good I can do but I’m loath to let you go after this encounter. Whenever I visited my father, I never wanted to be alone afterwards. I always went to Mikey, usually steaming drunk.

“I do... but I have to go home,” you say unhappily.

Yeah, there’s that, of course. You won’t be alone, will you? You’ll be with your boyfriend who knows all about your asshole father and provides – how did you put it? – companionship, support and comfort. All I have to offer is distracting sex.

I start the car.




When I see you the next day, you’re back to your usual cheerful self. And yet you aren’t. You’re not exactly clingy but there’s something in the way you touch me that is more tender than usual. I’m not sure if I like it or rather, I like it just fine, I’m just not sure if I like what it implies. I’m almost relieved when you decide to go home after work instead of spending the night, saying you need to see your mother.

But yet again I’m too busy to think about it much. For a while now my other accounts have demanded more of my attention. There are only so many quick fixes I can apply before a longer intervention becomes necessary. Vangard can’t afford to lose any of its other clients over Stockwell and most of the bigger ones require my personal touch.

I like being busy. I don’t need to think about my friends, who never speak about anything but my involvement with Stockwell when we meet. I don’t need to put up with seeing cops everywhere around Liberty Avenue because I don’t have time to go out much. And I don’t need to think about you.

What I do need to think about is Stockwell. The very next day, the man storms into my office unannounced, trailed by his two most important sycophants and complains about the posters that have appeared overnight. I saw them on my way to work. My friends were gathered around one of the few that were near Liberty Avenue and gleefully talked about it. I was merely amused. The rendering of Stockwell is as accurate as I would have expected, the mustache makes him look ridiculous and menacing at the same time. The posters reveal more about who the man really is than any words could, simple but effective. But ultimately they’re too crude to make much of an impact.

Stockwell disagrees. “There’s hundreds of them. Hundreds! People are laughing at me.”

It’s true that politicians can afford to be sinister or arrogant or even dumb as shit, but no politician can afford to be ridiculous. I talk to Stockwell for a good half hour about how he should react to this, reassure him that it will have very little impact and wonder all the while what it says about the man’s ability as a police chief if he can’t apprehend one little vandal. I’m tickled by the idea that part of the problem might be that a vast contingent of cops was tied up with patrolling Liberty Avenue, where hardly any posters appeared.

In the evening when I see you, I simply say, “Nice posters. But give Stockwell some wrinkles. He looks younger than me.”

You smile softly and blink rapidly in that faux innocent way that you have. “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Do you think they’ll make a difference?”

“Well, they were on the local lunchtime news, but so was Stockwell, laughing about them. So, no, I think my campaign will be safe.”

You grin broadly and I take it as the challenge it’s obviously meant to be. I grin back at you, accepting it. It’ll be fun to see if you can derail my work at the last moment. I admit to myself that it isn’t a fair contest because I have the Vangard advertising machine and my years of experience behind me, whereas you only have your wit, your talent and limited resources. Although with Ethan Gold and his father’s money at your disposal, your resources may be a lot less limited than they could be.

The next week a second set of posters appears, unsurprisingly on the only night you aren’t staying at the loft because you have ‘to see your mother’. I realize that you must have help. There’s no way you could put up that many posters all by yourself, especially with the police now on the lookout for the perpetrator. Judging from my own friends’ reaction, any of them would be all too happy to lend a hand.

By then, Stockwell has calmed down considerably and I just have to supply him with some pointers how to react to this one. You just grin when you see me the next time. I’m not worried. The posters are just a minor hiccup as I predicted. But they do irritate Stockwell and his staff and that’s a rare bonus.




It‘s just over three weeks before the election when everything comes to a head. I’m adamant that Stockwell shouldn’t shirk the difficult engagements like his advisors want him to do. Meeting with minority groups is important for his image and despite Stockwell’s obvious discomfort at engaging with them, he’s impressive enough to come out in a positive light whenever he does.

I grudgingly attest the man some charm and have to think about how much Stockwell must hate the fact that he once shared a hot tub with a gay man to make myself feel better about it. Of course, that was before he knew I’m gay. Nowadays, he stays at a safe distance of about three feet at all times. I tested that theory one day and found it comical how Stockwell moved back every time I closed in a little. Yeah, I know where we all stand. Without Vangard behind me, I couldn’t even be sure that Stockwell would actually share his sponsor list after the election.

I don’t ordinarily attend any meetings but Stockwell insists that I should come to the GLC. He probably thinks he can pull the old ‘one of my closest advisors is gay’ card again if things get too ugly. I don’t relish that idea because most of my friends will be at the meeting. If it comes to that, I really have to go to New York because bridges don’t get more thoroughly burnt than that. Luckily, with the GLC willing to endorse Stockwell as their preferred candidate, it’s not likely to happen.

There are some uncomfortable questions at first, which Stockwell deflects with the usual ‘it wasn’t my fault because my predecessor/opponent/Santa Claus cut my funding’. And then the giant photos come out and the facts about hate crimes and the lack of action by the police. Debbie finishes it off with that dumpster boy she was so upset about and apparently still is. I can admire the intricate research and flawless execution of the protest. You’ve really outdone yourself, even if you’re not here to witness your triumph.

Some part of me is quite proud, not just of you for organizing it but also of my friends for standing up for themselves, however futile it may be. The other part is dismayed. This is so much more than a few posters, this is a well thought-out argument thrown into the discussion in front of running TV cameras. And despite the GLC organizers trying to come to his rescue by cutting the meeting short, Stockwell doesn’t look at all good.

When I meet up with him and his team afterwards, the accusations come thick and fast. They all feel that I should have anticipated this somehow because these are ‘my people’. And wasn’t I the one who insisted on going there in the first place? The implication is that I knew about it or even instigated it. My sarcastic replies don’t make much headway with them either and I’m dismissed from the meeting very quickly.

I’m angry with Stockwell for blaming me for something I had no control over, as if politician don’t meet with outspoken protests all the time, as if Stockwell doesn’t deserve this. I’m also angry with myself for not anticipating this, for starting this little contest with you in the first place, for practically telling you how to go about it. I was completely blindsided by the posters, expecting them to be all there’s going to be. And most of all, I’m angry with you. It’s one thing to put up ridiculing pictures to appease your conscience a little. I have to admit that they somewhat appeased my own conscience as well. As if the fact that I know who’s doing it and don’t say anything makes me part of the protest.

But it’s quite another to ambush my client at a meeting – with a weapon that I supplied. And not only that, I have the feeling that I’m on the verge of getting fired again, if it hasn’t already happened as I’m driving along. I will have it out with you. This has to stop. I can tolerate Stockwell losing the election if you can manage it. But having my dream of going to New York destroyed when I’m so close I can taste it is unacceptable.

As I’m taking the stairs up to your apartment – from the layout of the door bells it has to be on the top floor, the only one without a name – I wonder if you will even admit your involvement. We never outright talked about what you’re doing. But that’s one problem I no longer have to consider when the door’s answered by a girl with very distinctive pigtails, interwoven with multi-colored ribbons – the same distinctive pigtails she wore at the GLC meeting two hours ago, where she held up the photo of a woman who was murdered in a park.

“Oh shit,” she says when she sees me.

“Yeah, that just about covers it.”

She sighs and opens the door to let me in. I’m strangely impressed by her lack of panic. She just makes an inviting gesture towards one of the doors off the hallway. It leads into a small living room with very little furniture, a couch, an armchair, a table and a TV on the floor. There are some packed duffle bags in the corner as if someone’s going somewhere or just arrived.

“Justin, Brian’s here!”

You come out of what seems to be the kitchen, looking a little shocked. “Brian? What are you doing here?”

“What do you think I’m doing here, you little shit? Do you know what you’ve done?”

You look at me without any of your usual cockiness. “I did what I had to do,” you say quietly. “It’s not as if you didn’t know.”

“You let me walk in there completely unprepared! You took my ideas and you fucking used them against me! And now I’m getting the blame for your mess and by this time tomorrow I’ll probably be off the campaign! I won’t let you ruin this for me. I swear to you if I lose my chance to get out of here because of you…” I take a deep breath and try to lower my voice. Or find a realistic threat to finish that statement.

“You knew what I was doing! You told me how to do it!”

“I never thought you’d actually do it!”

“You hate the man’s guts. You know he’s a homophobe and a bully. You know he will destroy everything and yet you work for him. You can’t be that blind.”

“I’m not blind. I simply don’t care. The world’s not gonna turn into a better place just because little Justin doesn’t like it the way it is. No politician’s gonna do shit for the queers. The others just pretend they don’t hate us.”

“Us? Really, Brian?” Your voice is dripping with sarcasm now. “Suddenly, there’s an us? Aren’t you the one who doesn’t believe in the gay community?”

“So I’m a fraud. Or a traitor. And you’re the savior of all things gay. Get off your high horse, Justin. You’re no better than me. Because you’re working for the same guy. Only you’re not in danger of losing your job, are you now? No, that would be me!”

“Well, you can always tell your boss that I’m the one behind the posters and the protest today. Might earn you some points.”

“Maybe I should.”

“Well, do it then, I’ll be glad to be out of it.”

“Justin,” the girl says warningly.

You look at her and then down at the floor. After a few deep breaths, you look back at me. “I’m sorry you got caught in the crossfire.”

“Yeah, well, sorry’s bullshit.”

“Yeah, it is.”

I suddenly feel deflated. Looking at you, I realize that I’m angry because it was so unexpected. All my friends could have done the same thing – and did or at least participated – and I wouldn’t feel half as bad. But you I had considered an ally. From you, I expected some kind of loyalty. And why? Because we’ve been fucking for a couple of months now? How pathetic is that?

I turn when I hear a noise to my right and see Ethan come out of one of the rooms, looking slightly disheveled. “What on earth’s going on here?”

Great, isn’t that just the icing on the cake! I ignore him and look back at you. “Just stay the fuck away from me!”

I’m still fuming by the time I reach the loft. Tearing off my clothes and uncharacteristically throwing them across the room, I go to have a long shower. Afterwards I feel marginally better, at least enough to take care of my expensive suit. Then I grab a bottle from the drinks cart and my stash and settle on the couch.

Ordinarily, this would be the kind of situation where I’d call Michael and get him to come over. Michael has always been the sounding board for my frustrations and my safety net. And he’d come – he always does – but he wouldn’t be too sympathetic in this situation. He might even consider me getting fired from the campaign a good thing. I couldn’t bear listening to him prattling on about how it might be for the best. And the only person who’s been on my side over the past few weeks is out of the question. If I never see you again, it would be too soon.

Three hours later, I’m slightly drunk and slightly baked, so I get ready to go out. There’s nothing a good fuck or three can’t cure or at least make bearable. It’s just my luck that on the way to Babylon, I run into Debbie, who‘s coming out of the diner after finishing her shift.

“Your guy’s not looking too good now, is he?” she crows.

“All politicians have to put up with attacks from the lunatic fringe,” I drawl, no longer caring much about anything. Let her do her worst.

She smiles softly. “Well, I’m glad you saw the light. I was a bit worried about you for a while there.”

What light? “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.” I linger a little, not because I’m interested in what she has to say but because there’s no venom in her voice or look for a change. It’s been a long time.

“Of course, you don’t.” She taps her nose knowingly and pats my arm a little before walking on towards home.

I blink and wonder if I overdid the JB and weed a little because I seem to have missed the point of this conversation completely. Then I shrug and turn towards Babylon.

The club engulfs me with its heat and mass of gyrating bodies. It always makes me feel at home. Here I can be myself, don’t have to defend my actions to anyone and get laid in the process. I don’t think I need any more alcohol tonight, so I make my way to the backroom straight away – only to find it padlocked with a closure notice attached. I’ve never even seen the door shut in all the years I’ve been coming here, never mind actually locked. Fuck! Or not. At least not here.



******JJJJJJ******



For about half a minute, there’s complete silence in the apartment after you leave. I don’t want to look at either Daphne or Ethan right now or talk, but there’s nowhere to be alone. So I just stand there, deep in thought. I didn’t mean for this to happen. You getting fired over this was never my intention. How did you end up getting the blame for it? I really underestimated the scapegoat mentality of these people.

I never wanted Stockwell to win the election. When I started out, there wasn’t any indication that he would, but I didn’t take your genius into account. I can even sort of understand your motivation in this. Surprisingly, I never thought about the political consequences until recently. Stockwell and you were just an opportunity for me.

But things have changed. I’ve come to witness the effect Stockwell has on Liberty Avenue. People are defiant at the moment, ignoring the police as much as possible, organizing protests and hoping that Stockwell won’t win. But what if he does? Will things really calm down like you purport to believe? Or will Stockwell, freed from the scrutiny of an election campaign, strangle the life out of the gay community? If he wins the election, he can even claim that he has a mandate for that.

And then there’s you. I liked you from the first moment I saw you. You’re fun to be with, the sex is fantastic and you rival my considerable intelligence, if you don’t surpass it. Fuck, whom am I kidding? I’ve fallen for you, big time, the kind of falling for someone where I won’t hit the ground anytime soon, if ever. Or if I do, I may shatter into a million pieces when there’s no one there to catch me. And there’s no chance you’ll do that, is there? Everything, absolutely everything has changed, so much so that I want to stop what I’m doing and just try and be with you. And maybe I would do that, if I didn’t know that you’d never allow it.

I took my poster campaign and the protest at the GLC as a friendly competition. And I thought you felt the same way. You even indicated as much. I’d throw some spanners in the works, then you’d fix it somehow and wait for my next move. Like a game of chess. In the end, we would both walk away. Of course, you don’t know what I’m planning and what if you can’t walk away in the end? Messing up people’s plans is okay when it’s Stockwell but not when it’s you.

You hate me now. I could see it in your eyes. And that’s the worst, that you won’t smile at me anymore or look at me with those beautiful eyes. Recently things between us have moved to a higher level, softer somehow. Not the fucking itself but the way we treat each other. I’ve told myself that it’s just guilt for lying to you, but now, when it’s all over, I know that it’s something different altogether.

“Do I have to put up with that guy in my own home as well now?” Ethan snarls at me. “Isn’t it enough that I have to put up with you fucking him?”

“Yeah, like that’s exactly what we should be focusing on,” Daphne replies sarcastically. “And this isn’t your home.” She turns back to me. “How does Brian know where we live?”

“He drove me home the other day, remember? When I saw my dad at the supermarket.”

“You’re getting careless. I really don’t want to get caught in the fallout, Justin.”

“It’s not a problem. I already told him I work from home. He doesn’t care.”

“Well, maybe he didn’t when he couldn’t see past your ass. But what about now? What if he starts asking questions?”

“I know, I know. I fucked up, alright? I was rattled. I wasn’t thinking straight that day. I’m nearly done with the job. It’ll be over soon.”

“How soon?” Ethan asks. “Because soon can’t come soon enough as far as I’m concerned.”

“Me neither, actually.” It’s clear that Daphne finds it distasteful to agree with Ethan on anything, even the obvious. “Can you still do it without Brian?”

“Sure, but it would depend on how persuasive I am with Stockwell.”

“Justin, the election’s in three weeks.”

“Yeah, I know. It’ll be fine.”

Daphne sighs. “If you says so.”

I know I should be focusing on the job I have to do. But all my life I’ve always wanted everything at once and getting it has been a game to me. This time I have to wonder if I’ve overreached myself. Or if the parameters have changed. I lost sight of the main objective and focused on my feelings instead. There wasn’t much choice involved in that, it just happened, almost immediately. And the game has turned very serious indeed. You now have the potential to destroy me – in every sense of the word.




PART FIVE HERE: http://kachelofen.livejournal.com/26466.html




From:
Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
User
Account name:
Password:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
Subject:
HTML doesn't work in the subject.

Message:

 
Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.

Profile

kachelofen: (Default)
kachelofen

July 2014

S M T W T F S
  12345
6789101112
1314151617 1819
2021 2223242526
2728293031  

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 23rd, 2017 04:36 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios