Authors: K Z Snow
Published by Liquid Silver Books, imprint of Atlantic Bridge Publishing, 10509
Sedgegrass Dr, Indianapolis, Indiana 46235. Copyright © 2010, KZ Snow. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Liquid Silver Books
Christine M Griffin
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.
What happens to a young man's self-image, and his sex life, when he wakes up one morning to see his good looks significantly altered for the worse? Three twenty-something gay friends—an embalmer, a movement coach, and a literary agent—find out the answer when they hit on the wrong patron of a club one night.
Todd, Fallon, and Jake, aka the Hunt Club, think they're pretty damned hot. As a result, their standards for worthwhile hook-ups are appallingly superficial. The men aren't total jerks; they just need an adjustment in perspective. And they get it, in spades, from a mysterious stranger who's sick of seeing his beautiful partner pawed by dawgs.
There’s no medical explanation for the hideous rashes that erupt on the trio overnight. Doctors can’t even detect it, much less cure it. Still, the Hunt Club’s mirrors reflect ravaged faces, and the toned, handsome guys they normally pursue now shun them.
As the vulnerability that’s always lurked beneath their vanity begins to surface, Todd, Fallon, and Jake begin to see themselves and potential partners in a new light.
Little did they know that in the eyes of three ordinary, overlooked men on the sidelines of their lives, it's
been the heart that’s mattered far more than the hot.
The only lessons learned by going clubbing are usually those related, first, to picking a buddy for the night and, second, to one’s blood alcohol content when the time comes to drive home. But one slushy, sloppy evening in March, in a place called the Foxhole, three of my friends embarked on a whole new educational journey—one that would teach them something of far greater value than the size of the dick concealed within a pair of designer pants.
I was on my third Snapple and minding my own business when Fallon Tate tossed the shit that hit the fan. Of course, he didn’t see himself doing anything of the sort. He thought he was simply complimenting a certain man by giving him the old ass-grab.
After all, it was a way to convey one’s admiration in a loud and crowded place.
The whole mess started when that certain man entered the bar. He was a serious head-turner. Jake Pelletier and Todd Heileman also noticed him. Of course they would.
Fallon, Jake, and Todd had been meeting for drinks every Friday since time immemorial, or at least for the last few years, so when one of them was at the Foxhole or Bent or Lady Dah’s, the other two would likely be there as well. I was just an occasional hanger-on.
Truth be told, all of them would’ve liked a piece of the beautiful stranger. They had a kind of ongoing competition that centered on scoring with the hottest men at any given bar, and
guy would’ve been a major coup. A hundred ten points on the hundred-point scale, easily, and none of them would’ve tried denying it.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The evening began inauspiciously enough, with the four of us grouped around a table at the Foxhole. The bar, to the right of the entrance, was shaped like a loose, elongated C, which allowed for visual contact from all points. Directly across from the entrance, beyond the vast expanse of dance floor, was a stage where the DJ set up. Low platforms cluttered with tables and chairs ran along the other two walls. The “Hunt Club,” as I thought of my three companions, had decided to stake out a position on the rear platform.
From there they could scan not only the patrons already in the place but the ones just walking in.
Fallon, Jake, and Todd first did a bit of catching up. They always had interesting stories, for they all had interesting jobs. Jake, the literary agent, mentioned an inspirational how-to book that had bagged a hefty advance. He was the quintessential young urbanite, dark and casually elegant, with an enormous vocabulary and dry wit.
Fallon was much more colorful. The most garrulous and entertaining of the three, he was lithe, punk-haired, and pierced.
Fallon was a movement coach. He taught pageant contestants and wannabe models how to pose and strut; he helped singers and public speakers deliver their messages as much with their bodies as with their voices. Fallon knew natural beauty and easy grace when he saw them, and he had a penchant for trying to get natural beauty and easy grace into bed with him—if, that is, they came bundled in, or with, a male package.
“Got another peewee princess this week,” he said. “Pageant mom looked like Tweedledum and her kid looked like a tricked-out Alice after she’d chomped on the
side of the magic mushroom.” He patted the side of Jake’s face. “That was for you, sweetness. You’re not the only one who reads books.”
“True,” said Jake. “And I’m not the only one who saw the Disney movie.”
Fal didn’t get a chance to let the implication sink in, because Todd asked, “Was she a brat?”
“Let me put it this way,” said Fal. “Imagine how Alice would’ve acted if that caterpillar had been smoking crank instead of hash and he’d shared some with her.”
Dramatically, he rolled his eyes and made a gesture vaguely resembling the sign of the Cross. “I need to start packing Ritalin.”
Todd, the most soft-spoken of the three and, at five-foot-eight, the shortest, had the most fascinating job. Morbidly fascinating, that is. He was an embalmer at the Sudbury-Bischoff Funeral Home. As if to counteract any preconceived notions of men in his profession—that they all looked like Ichabod Crane by day and Pumpkinhead by night—
he kept his meticulously highlighted hair in a youthful, sideswept fringe and his body in a state of buffness.
He told us about a recently deceased twenty-two-year-old man whose sister had found him hog-tied in his closet, hitched up to the empty clothes rack, with a plastic bag over his head—something the youth had apparently done to himself.
“A girl I know who assisted with the autopsy was amazed he got his body into that position,” Todd said. “The binding method was really elaborate. His arms and legs were twisted in weird ways. A lot of thought went into it.”
“Jesus,” breathed Fal. “Trussed up like a smokehouse ham.”
The rest of us grimaced.
“But why would he kill himself that way?” Fal asked.
“I doubt that was his intention,” said Jake, who glanced at Todd for confirmation.
“Sounds like an autoerotic kink gone awry. Problem was, he didn’t put enough thought into getting
Our mortician friend nodded. “It happens more often than you’d think, and mostly to men. All age groups, too. They get off on bondage combined with hypoxia. But it’s like any addiction. You push it too far and you can’t bounce back.”
“So was he, like, in a knot when you got him?” I asked, which prompted uneasy laughter.
bad. The ME’s the one who had to deal with the contortions. I just had to do some light work on his limbs—massaging and flexing. By the time we got the guy, he was going out of rigor.” Todd smiled wryly. “That’s one of the advantages of early-stage decomposition. It softens and relaxes stiffened muscle fibers.”
“Another bit of trivia to spout when conversation flags,” Jake said.
Face scrunched in disgust, Fallon stared at Todd. Then he snapped his fingers. Fal’s finger-snap had become the acknowledged signal that it was time to change the subject.
The Hunt Club began doing what it did best: scan the area for prey while making snide comments about the men who weren’t up to their standards.
A group of five kids walked in. They looked like kids to me, anyway, but were probably students from the university.
“Here comes the itty-bitty-titty committee,” Todd said.
“I don’t mind snack-sized,” Fal countered.
“Then maybe I should introduce you to Gabriel,” Todd told him. “I think he’s got a crush on me. I’d like to nip it in the bud.”
Gabriel was a new Sudbury-Bischoff employee, an allegedly short and quirky young guy who took care of the cosmetic side of their preparation work. Todd preferred tall, handsome men. All three of them did.
Although none of us would’ve said so to Todd, we all wondered how he managed to hang on to
hook-up after the hook-up found out what he did for a living. It was an irrational prejudice, granted, but a prejudice we had trouble overcoming. Fallon had once said, “I’d do Toddy in a minute…after I knew he’d spent a day getting detoxed by a hazmat team and another twenty-nine days in the shower.”
A short time after the twinks walked in, Jake peevishly noted the “glamazon” who was dancing with a man he fancied. Fallon, possibly taking umbrage, said glam was better than butter-faced, which described the glamazon’s partner.
“Damn, look at
one,” Todd said, pointing out a guy who was wending his way from the DJ to the bar.
“Yowza,” Jake said distastefully.
“Boy must’ve tumbled from the tippy-top of the fugly tree,” said Fal, “and hit every branch on the way down.”
My companions were just warming up. I knew the routine. Once alcohol and laughter had washed away all their work-week tension, they’d begin to circulate.
Although I didn’t approve of their snarkiness, I could hardly fault the Hunt Club for hunting. We were all in our late twenties. We got horny on a pretty regular basis.
It was just before the Wow Guy strolled in that I noticed a lone man sitting at a table behind and to the left of ours, the fingers of one hand curled loosely around a squat tumbler of amber-colored liquor on ice. He looked older than us—late thirties, maybe—
and had a kind of dark, smoldering intensity conveyed by every aspect of his appearance.
Even his facial hair gave him an alluringly sinister air. Judging by his legs, which seemed longer than the average mortal’s, he was tall, too.
I thought he looked like a pirate, sexy as all fucking hell-and-damnation, and my attention would’ve been riveted to him if I weren’t so concerned about seeming rude. My companions, I figured, were being rude enough.
He sat angled away from the table, his left ankle propped on his right knee, and I got the distinct impression he’d been listening to the Hunt Club’s conversation. Our eyes met for a brief tick before his gaze moved languidly to the dance floor.
I didn’t point him out to the Hunt Club. One of the guys would’ve probably hit on him while another made some snotty comment about his age. I had a feeling the whole scenario wouldn’t have played out too well. When the man rose and headed for the restroom—he
tall, and very well built—I hoped beyond hope Todd, Fal, and Jake wouldn’t notice him.
They didn’t. Because, seconds later, Mr. Wow appeared.
People had been trickling in both directions not far from our table as they entered or exited the Foxhole. Its lobby was maybe ten or twelve feet behind us. Mr. Wow stood out from the flow like a piece of gold in a mountain stream. He stepped to one side and looked around the club’s interior.
He was around six-one, I estimated, with a perfectly proportioned body, beautiful but not vacuous face, and rich hair the color of some rare, finely grained and polished wood.
The blue of his eyes was deep and faceted; the contours of his lips, pure erotic fantasy.
“Come to papa,” Jake muttered as Fal did a double-take and Todd’s eyes got bigger.