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Travis’s Anonymous Guest - Part 1

A simple act transforms a life.
As Travis walked along a busy street that morning on his way to the bus stop for his trip to work, he was met by the spectacle of a man with a bloodied head sitting against a building. Any unusual sight disturbed Travis, and what disturbed him even more in the present case was the behavior of people walking past, unconcerned and in some cases even resentful at the inconvenience of having to walk around the man’s outstretched legs. Only one person even acknowledged his presence explicitly, and it was only to say something to her companion about ‘these drunks’.

Travis was disgusted by such displays of callousness. Drunk or not, the man was injured and needed help. Travis felt that he should do something.

That was a problem: Travis conducted his life in accordance with a strict routine and a precise schedule; anything that threatened to disrupt them was very upsetting. He wanted to stop and offer help, but it might make him late for work. He had never been late for work.

A drop of blood splashed onto the ground. Travis slowed his pace, wrestling with the urge not to get involved. Then, against strong internal resistance, he stopped. Bending over the stranger and speaking softly to avoid frightening the man, he asked: “Do you want medical help?”

The man looked up at him and answered “Yes … thank you” in perfectly clear speech. He was definitely not drunk.

Travis took out his cell phone and called 911. After hanging up, he said: “Help is on the way. I have to go now.”

“Thank you” the man said again, in a tone that made his gratitude clear.

As Travis was turning away, he saw a trickle of blood run down the man’s face. It stopped him and prompted him to take out his handkerchief. Finding the place where the bleeding seemed to originate, he applied the handkerchief and said: “Keep pressure on this until the paramedics get here.”

Now quite pleased with himself, he moved on. He had done what he could; maybe he would still be able to get to work on time.

Hearing a ‘clunk’, he turned and saw that someone had actually kicked the man’s shoe to move the foot out of their way. He was appalled! He walked back to the seated figure and phoned in to tell his boss’s secretary that he would be a bit late.

While he stood guard against further abuse, he asked what had happened.

The man was looked dazed. “I don’t know. Something must have hit me on the head. I blacked out.”

There was nothing on the ground that could have fallen from the building. “Is anything missing? Do you still have your wallet?”

The man searched his pockets. “No.”

“You were probably mugged. Well at least they didn’t take your watch, it looks expensive. How long have you been here?”

“I’m not sure. A few hours I think.”

That made sense. The mugging had probably taken place early, when no one else was around.

A patrol car pulled up and a police officer got out to assess the situation, standard policy in that city when an ambulance is requested. Finding that the call to 911 was genuine, he radioed for an ambulance and the Crime Scene Investigation team. He then questioned Travis, demanding his name, address, relation to the victim, reason for being in the area, and the reason he had stopped. The officer’s hostile manner suggested to Travis that for some police everyone is either a criminal or likely a criminal.

Next, the victim was questioned. When he was asked whether anything was gone other than his wallet, he looked bewildered. “I don’t know.” The policeman asked his name. The man’s face now showed panic. “I don’t know.”

At that point, paramedics arrived. They checked vital signs and took the handkerchief away to examine the wound. Travis was about to say that the handkerchief was his, when one of the paramedics dumped it unceremoniously into a plastic bag marked ‘Medical Waste’.

Travis would have no handkerchief with him that day - not that he would have used the bloody one anyway. He was distraught; he had never been out without a handkerchief. He did not feel fully dressed. He would have to buy one on his way to work, which would make him even later.

They lifted the man onto a gurney. As he was being wheeled toward the ambulance he spotted Travis walking away. “Would you come with me?” he asked.

Travis bristled at the request! He had inconvenienced himself considerably for this man; he had even waited for the ambulance. And he had given up his handkerchief. He had done more than enough. “I’m sorry, I have to get to work. I’m already late.”

“Please” the man whimpered. “You’re the only one I know.”

This was beyond unreasonable! It was absurd! The only one he knew? He didn’t know Travis.

But on further consideration, right now Travis was in a sense the one person he knew. And the poor guy looked so frightened. For the second time that morning, Travis fought past his urge to avoid involvement, and said: “Ok.”

The paramedics would not permit him to ride in the ambulance because he wasn’t an immediate relative. He asked them what hospital they were going to, told the man he would meet him there, and after the ambulance left he phoned in to say that an emergency was delaying him and he would be occupied for another hour or two. Then he flagged down a taxi.

When he reached the hospital, the clerk at the Information Desk told him that the mugging victim was being examined and Travis would have to wait in the reception area.

Sitting in one of the hard plastic chairs, he was nervous. ‘I suppose’ he thought to himself, ‘this is what’s called getting out of your comfort zone’.

It was almost an hour before a doctor came out and consulted the reception clerk, who indicated Travis. The doctor came over and asked whether he was a friend or a relative. He said he didn’t know the man, and explained why he was there.

“Then we have a problem” the doctor said, “because the patient has no idea who he is, and he was brought in with no personal effects except a wristwatch. He has a slightly depressed skull fracture, suggesting that he received at least one forceful blow to the head. That type of injury rarely causes an extended retrograde amnesia but it has apparently happened in this case. I’m admitting him for observation so that we can determine whether the depressed bone is impinging on the brain. We’ll also take an EEG and perform other tests.”

“Can I see him? I told him I’d meet him here.”

“No, he’s in MRI right now and he’ll be undergoing tests for the next twenty four hours. He probably won’t be permitted visitors before tomorrow afternoon.”

Travis didn’t like breaking his word. “Please tell him that I tried to see him. Tell him I’ll come back tomorrow evening.”


After work the next day, Travis went to the hospital. It made him uneasy not to be going directly home to watch the TV news and read the paper, but he had made a promise.

As soon as he entered the man’s room, he received thanks yet again. “If not for you I might still be bleeding on that sidewalk. I owe you big time.”

“Forget it. Every day I read stories about people who need help that I’m powerless to give. Yesterday I was able to help. It was gratifying, you don’t owe me anything.” And to change the topic, he said: “You know, you look a whole lot better without all that blood running down your face.”

In fact, privately Travis found a cleaned-up Mr. Anonymous to be downright handsome.

To make further conversation, he asked: “Did you need stitches? I see a white blob at the back of your head.”

“Yeah” the man answered. “That’s some goop they put on where they shaved me to sew me up. They told me it will lift off as the hair grows back.”

“How are you feeling?”

“Much better. Hey, thanks for coming.”

“I tried to see you yesterday. I hope they told you.”

“Yes, they did.”

“Do you remember anything about what happened?”

“Not a thing. My mind is a complete blank. No I take that back: The words ‘hill and dale’ keep running through my head. I have no idea why.”

A doctor came in carrying a medical chart, and conducted some tactile and cognitive tests. When he began to leave without stating the results, the man asked: “So? What’s the word, when will I get my memory back?”

“We have more tests to run” the doctor answered, “but the truth is that we won’t know even then. We’ll only be able to tell you what I’m going to tell you now: You’ve suffered a significant brain trauma that is interfering with your episodic memory. We don’t know how much of it you’ll recover. You might get all of it back, or some, or none, and it could happen piecemeal or all at once, today or years from now. I wish I could give you a firm prognosis but our understanding of the brain is still very limited. You can consult another neurologist for a second opinion if you want. I don’t think you’ll get a different answer, though.”

“Where do I go when I’m released? I have no idea where I live.”

“Before long, someone will certainly report you missing. In the meantime, there are city shelters.”

Travis had read about the conditions in those shelters. They were unpleasant, dangerous places, full of seedy characters. He didn’t like that idea.

In some Asian cultures, by saving someone’s life you become responsible for them. Travis wasn’t Asian, but he felt that he had incurred a certain obligation to this man. Almost before he knew what he was saying, he offered: “If you don’t mind sleeping on a couch you can camp at my place until you find out who you are.”

The stranger brightened. “That would be super … if your wife doesn’t mind. Or is it your girlfriend?”

“I live alone and I’m not dating, so no one else will be involved.”

“I really appreciate this, uh ... Hey, I don’t even know your name.”

“It’s Travis. Travis Collins.”

“Thanks. I wish I could tell you mine.”

“That’s ok. See you tomorrow.”

When Travis mentioned to his boss that he would be sharing his apartment temporarily with the unknown man, his boss was concerned: “You’re taking a big chance. For all you know he’s a con artist or a murderer, or a sexual predator. I’d keep my valuables with me and the bedroom door locked if I were you.”

Travis shook his head. “I know there’s no foolproof way to judge people, but I’m confident he’s not dangerous. And the police will alert me if they turn up anything bad; I told them he’ll be staying with me and to let me know when they find out who he is.”

“I hope you’re not lying dead by then.”

Travis visited the man again the next evening, and took him home the following afternoon when he was released from the hospital. Indicating the couch, which Travis had made up with a sheet, a blanket and a pillow, he said: “Sorry it isn’t a convertible but it’s seven feet long and you’re not, so I think it will be adequate.”

“Thanks, it’s fine. This is really good of you.”

Travis smiled. “I’m glad for the company. And speaking of that, while you’re here I’d like to call you something other than ‘hey you’, so how about picking a temporary name?”

“I don’t know … what about … Evan?”

“Ok, Evan. I’m going to order takeout for dinner. What kind of food do you like?”

“I like a lot of things: French, Northern Italian, Thai, …” He suddenly looked perplexed. ”How did I know that?”

“There are different kinds of memory. I did some reading on the subject while you were in the hospital. Episodic amnesia doesn’t affect certain fundamental things: For instance you still know how to walk and you still know English.”

Travis’s statement that he was glad for the company was true, if somewhat misleading. It was specifically Evan’s company that pleased him: he had taken a strong liking to the man.

At the same time, this radical change in living conditions was distressing: He had never shared his home space with anyone; Evan’s presence made the apartment seem crowded. Notwithstanding the fact that Travis liked Evan very much, he was already looking forward to his guest’s departure.


Travis had no talent for small talk and Evan had his own thoughts, so they ate dinner in a somewhat awkward silence. Afterward, Evan said: “Please keep a tab showing what you spend on me. When I can get to my cash, I’ll repay you.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“Please. I don’t want to be a freeloader.”

“Alright, I’ll keep a tab.”

“Good. Now I’d like to take a shower if that’s ok with you.”

“Sure.” Travis pointed to a closed door. “The bathroom is right there. Toss those clothes out and I’ll put them in the hamper. We’re close enough in size that I can loan you some of my things.”

“Thanks, a change of clothes will be great” Evan said as he started to walk toward the bathroom.

Travis was watching appraisingly, and he noticed that Evan’s gait was unsteady. “Maybe a shower isn’t the best idea right now, you’re a bit wobbly.”

Evan waved dismissively. “I’m fine.”

A minute after Evan tossed his clothes out, Travis heard the shower start, followed shortly by a thud and a groan. He ran into the bathroom.

Evan was sitting on the floor of the tub as the shower spray rained down on his naked body.

“What happened?”

“I lost my balance! Dammit, why couldn’t I have fallen backwards?”

“If you’re thinking that another blow to the head might bring your memory back, you’re dangerously mistaken” Travis informed him, shutting off the water. “That’s fiction. The last thing you need is another head injury.”

Travis now took his first good look at Evan’s body. He had noted Evan’s handsome face in the hospital and his exciting rear end minutes earlier as Evan walked toward the bathroom, but only now could Travis see the tempting cut penis with its pendant, filled-out pouch, the build just muscular enough to highlight his body’s best features, and brown hair whose wet and bedraggled state at the moment, did not conceal its luster.

“Don’t move” Travis instructed.

He draped a towel over the toilet lid and went back to the tub. “Turn toward me.”

Evan turned. Travis slid his arms under Evan’s shoulders, pulled Evan against him, and lifted.

A thrill ran through Travis at the feel of Evan’s naked body. He was thankful to be wearing tight briefs under his pants; they concealed what quickly developed at his crotch.

He sat Evan on the towel and used another towel to dry him, struggling to hide the lengthening outline in his pants. Evan made no attempt to take the towel and dry himself, nor did he argue when Travis informed him: “I’m taking you back to the hospital. They shouldn’t have released you so soon.”

The ER physician on duty allowed Travis to join Evan in the Emergency Room. The on-call neurologist was summoned, and after completing his examination he told Evan: “The EEG shows some improvement from when you were brought in the other day, but it’s still far from normal. Get a lot of sleep and don’t engage in any intense mental activity. You’re going to be a bit rocky for a while; balance and small muscle control will be a problem. If you don’t see much improvement in the next two weeks, consult your primary care physician for a referral.”

Back in the apartment, Evan said: “I really need to wash. Do you have a basin I can use for a sponge bath?”

“Yes.” Travis got a large basin, filled it with warm water, and put it on the bathroom counter along with soap, a washrag, and a towel. After draping a fresh towel over the toilet lid he brought Evan into the bathroom. “You should be able to reach these things easily from the toilet. Do you want help undressing?”

“No, but thanks.”

After cautioning Evan to use the sink for balance when standing, Travis left the bathroom.

There was a period of silence, presumably while Evan was taking his clothes off and reaching for the basin, then Travis heard a splash and a curse. He reentered the bathroom and saw the overturned basin on the flooded floor. A furious, naked Evan was looking down at it. “Damn! I tipped it over!”

“That’s ok, sit down” Travis said as he took a second appreciative look at Evan’s body.

He brought in some paper towels and used them to soak up the water on the floor. Then he refilled the basin. When Evan reached for it from his position on the toilet, Travis commanded: “Take your hands away. I’ll do this.”

He began washing Evan, who submitted with childlike meekness as his face, ears and neck were washed and when Travis raised each arm to deal with the armpit. Travis was charmed by Evan’s capitulation; he couldn’t help but smile warmly at the man as he worked downward over Evan’s chest to his belly. He received a bashful smile in return; it caused him to almost drop the washrag: Evan’s smile was enchanting.

From Evan’s belly Travis moved the washrag directly to his thighs and then to his legs, followed by his well-formed feet. With every new area Travis encountered, his admiration increased.

Finally, he moved back up and began to wash Evan’s penis and the smooth, full pouch on which it lay. Evan’s penis began to lengthen, and by the time Travis finished washing it, Evan had a full erection.

“This is embarrassing” Evan said. “I’m sorry.”

“No need” Travis responded, looking at the nearly seven-inch member with its dark pink sculpted crown. “It’s a natural reaction.” He did not add that Evan’s was not the only stiff penis in the room. “Ok, now turn around and kneel so I can wash you in back. Hold onto the tank.”

Evan did as he was told. Travis washed his back and his beautifully-curved buttocks, running the washrag between them and wishing he could think of an excuse to use his bare hand.

After washing the backs of Evan’s thighs and legs, Travis dried him, helped him back into the living room, and handed him the pajamas Travis had laid out. He waited while Evan put them on and got under the blanket. Then he said goodnight and went to wash up and undress.

Leaving the bedroom door open in case Evan should need anything during the night, he got into bed and fell asleep quickly, tired from the stressful evening.

Some time later, he was awakened by an unfamiliar noise. It was not coming from anywhere in the bedroom. He glanced at the clock; it read 3:45. He went into the living room in search of the sound. There he saw bedding from the couch scattered on the floor, flung there by the flailing of Evan’s arms and legs, flailing which was still in progress.

Travis knew better than to restrain someone who is having a seizure; he waited helplessly as the spasm played itself out.

When all motion had stopped, Evan lay limp. After a minute, he opened his eyes and saw Travis looking down at him. With a confused expression, he asked: “What happened?”


It was not easy to find an on-duty cab at that hour, but finally they arrived at the hospital. Travis paced up and down outside the Emergency Room for almost an hour and a half before his guest emerged and told him : “The on-call neurologist took another EEG trace. She also did some tests that weren’t done before. She says the seizure was an aftereffect of my brain injury and should be temporary.”

“You don’t have epilepsy?”

“No, I asked.”

“That’s good.”

“Yeah. She gave me some medicine which I took right away, and a prescription for another six days’ supply. It’s to prevent more seizures. She warned me it will make me drowsy, which she said is good because I should get a lot of sleep. That’s the same thing the other neurologist told me to do. She said that the medicine might not prevent the seizures completely but if I do have any they should be mild. I have to take one capsule every day for the rest of the week and then I should get a follow-up exam, unless I start to get headaches, then I have to come here right away.”

By the time they got back to the apartment, with a stop at an all-night pharmacy to fill the prescription, Evan was so sleepy from the new medication and his recent ordeal that he seemed barely aware as Travis undressed him and put him into pajamas, trying not to get too aroused in the process.

After getting Evan tucked in on the couch, Travis went to the kitchen and put up a pot of coffee; by now it was 7 AM and there would be no point in going to bed for an hour before he had to leave for work.

He drank two cups of coffee and then went into the living room to check on his guest. Evan was fast asleep. Gazing at him lying there in quiet slumber, Travis had a sudden desire to stay home and keep watch. However, being late for work was one thing, breaking a perfect attendance record would be too much. He left the room and completed preparations for his departure.

Fifteen minutes later, as he was opening the door to leave he stopped and went back to make sure the blanket was snug all around so that Evan would be warm and comfortable. Satisfied following a few adjustments, he looked once more at the sleeping man, and impelled by affection he leaned down and placed a soft kiss on Evan’s forehead.

Evan groggily opened his eyes.

Travis felt a flush of shame. “I’m sorry I woke you. I’ve left a note on the kitchen counter telling you where to find things. It has my number at work; call me if you can’t find something or you have a problem. Definitely call if you have another seizure. It’s all in the note. Now go back to sleep. See you this evening.”

He waited to see if Even knew what had awakened him and had been shocked by the kiss. Evan just smiled lethargically before closing his eyes again.

On the bus, Travis thought about what a shambles his schedule had become these past few days. There was also the matter of his impulse to stay home and take care of Evan, and most alarming was the spontaneous kiss. It was all very disturbing. He concentrated on the reassuring fact that soon Evan would be identified, he would leave, and things would return to normal.

When Travis got home from work, Evan was sitting on the couch, still in pajamas. He greeted his host with a cheerful “Hi, thanks for the note.”

“You’re welcome. What have you been doing?”

“Mostly I’ve been sleeping.”

“That’s good. What were you doing when I came in, you weren’t reading and the TV is off.”

“I’ve been trying to see if I can remember … anything.”

“The neurologist said no intense mental activity. Besides, I don’t think that’s the way it works. I believe the memories will come back on their own, or they’ll be triggered by something you see, or hear, or maybe even by a smell. You can’t force them back. Trying might even make things worse. So relax, let your brain recover. I’m going to order takeout, are you ready for dinner?”

Shortly after they finished eating, the phone rang. Evan heard only Travis’s side of the conversation, consisting of: “You did? That’s excellent. Yes, he is. Oh that’s interesting. Yes, we’d appreciate it very much, thank you.”

Travis hung up the phone. “That was the police, and I know why you were thinking of ‘hill and dale’: Dale is your first name, you’re Dale Williams, a naturalized American citizen born in Australia. You’re some kind of consultant and you must be very successful at it because you own a condo in an upscale section of the city. They’re sending over all the information.”

The former Evan sighed heavily. “I finally have an identity. Wait … are they sure?”

“It’s definitely you. They identified you through your fingerprints.”

I have a police record?

“No. Seems you’ve been fingerprinted in connection with some work you’ve been doing for the government. They didn’t say what kind.”

“The government. I wonder what I consult about. Now I need to wait for someone to report me missing.”

“I don’t think anyone will. You have no immediate family and since you’re self-employed there’s nobody to notice.”


“The police have your wallet and smartphone. A kid they arrested for shoplifting had them. He claims he got them from a dumpster.”

“That’s great! The phone could give me a lot of information. Do they think he’s the one who mugged me?”

“No. He has a rap sheet but all for petty stuff, nothing violent.”

Within an hour there was a knock on the door, and a police officer turned over a thick manila envelope. Inside was a folder full of information about Dale, as well as his smart phone and wallet. He switched the phone on and looked through the contents. “It has an address book. That will give me a start. I was hoping for some photos too, but there are none here. There’s also nothing about what kind of work I do.” He read through some of the papers in the folder. “A fancy section of the city, huh?” he mumbled when he saw the address of his apartment.

Seeing him yawn, Travis snatched the papers from him. “I think you’d best go to bed now and continue this in the morning.”

In spite of Dale’s protests, Travis refused to give the papers back. He waited with arms crossed, until Dale had washed up and gotten to bed on the couch. Then he took the papers and the other items with him into the bedroom.

He spent half an hour going through the past two days’ unread newspapers and then went back out to check on Dale. Finding Dale asleep, he retired for the night.

In bed, he lay thinking: He was happy for Dale - and unhappy for himself. Only two days ago he had been looking forward eagerly to having the apartment all his own again, and now he was unhappy about Dale’s impending departure. That troubled him. Was he falling in love? The possibility was not welcome.


The next morning, Dale picked at his breakfast, engrossed in a review of the papers from the manila envelope and the entries in his smartphone.

Travis watched him. “And I thought I was impatient. Can’t you wait until you finish eating?”

“I’m anxious to find out about myself.”

Following their meal, Dale removed the sheet and blanket from the couch and began folding them.

“I’ll do that” Travis said, “You don’t have to bother.”

“It’s the least I can do, after all you’ve done. I’ll bet when you stopped to help me you didn’t expect me to be this much trouble.”

“To tell the truth, I’m sorry to see you leave.” Travis smiled. “I liked having you here.”

“And I liked being here ... with you.”

Travis looked at him uncertainly.

Visibly ill at ease, Dale said: “Now that I’m leaving, I can tell you something: I think I’m gay.”

That was a surprise. “Why?”

“Because I’ve been wanting to kiss you ever since that first day. I wouldn’t have done it but still I was afraid that if I told you it would make you nervous. Would it have?”

“Let’s see.” Travis took Dale’s face in his hands and kissed him, holding the kiss long enough to make it clear that this was not an experiment. Then, stepping back from the astonished man, he said: “I guess not. Dale, I’m gay. And you’re very attractive. I kept my feelings from you partly for the same reason you kept yours from me.”

Dale heard him but only responded: “Whew! That was some kiss!”

“Did you like it?”

“You bet I did! And I’ll tell you something else: The boner I spiked when you gave me the sponge bath? It wasn’t from the warm water.”

“Neither was mine. I managed to hide it, but trust me it was a doozie. I loved bathing you.”

They stood smiling at each other for a few moments, then Dale had a question: “You said you kept your feelings to yourself partly for the same reason as me. What was the rest?”

“I was afraid of what it might lead to if you responded. A few years ago I went through a bad breakup, it made me gun-shy about any new relationship. The last thing I would want is to fall in love with anyone.”

“I understand. I’m sorry you had a rough time. Thank you for telling me.” He paused. “I’ll be going to my apartment now.” Another pause. “Any chance you’d come too? I’m asking because … I confess I’m a little nervous about what I might find. Your moral support would be welcome.”

“Tell you what: I have to go to the office, but spend the day here and I’ll pick you up after work, ok?”

Dale didn’t answer. He was staring into space.


It was almost a minute before Dale turned and looked at him. “So will you come with me?”

“I told you I will. You were zoned out. I think you had an absence seizure. They used to be called petit mal episodes. Was that one of the mild seizures the neurologist said you might have?”

“Yes. And she mentioned another kind, it sounded like some sort of enema.”


“Right! I see you’ve been doing your homework. Or rather mine.”

“I wanted to know what we’re dealing with.”


“Yes, ‘we’. I didn’t expect you to be identified so soon, I thought you would be here a while longer. No let me rephrase that: I was hoping you would be here longer, so that I could take care of you. Now get some sleep, I’ll pick you up after work and we’ll go to your apartment.”


The doorman at Dale’s building greeted him warmly as he and Travis approached. “Good evening, Mr. Williams, welcome back. Been away on a short vacation?”

“You might say that” Dale replied. He went to the reception desk and said that he had lost his key. “Do you have a duplicate I can use?”

“Of course, Mr. Williams.” The concierge went to a large, compartmented box and withdrew a key. “You’re welcome to keep this one until you find yours, or I can order a copy for you.”

Dale asked him to order a copy.

Dale’s apartment was 26-H, on the top floor of the building. They took the elevator to 26 and searched until at the end of the hall they saw two doors on opposite walls, both marked “H”. They made an arbitrary choice and tried the key.

The door opened and they found themselves in a large, fully-equipped kitchen. Travis looked around and said: “Now we know why there are two doors.”

I don’t.”

“Who would have reason to come from the hall directly into the kitchen?”

Dale briefly looked puzzled. Then: “Oh my god, we came through the servants’ entrance, I might have servants!”

From the kitchen they proceeded down a hall past several rooms and turned a corner into another hall. At the end was a closed door. They opened it, walked through, and both said “Holy shit!” before looking at each other and laughing at their simultaneous outbursts: They were in a very large, thickly-carpeted living room, two of whose walls consisted almost entirely of floor-to-ceiling windows that provided a panoramic view of the city. Outside, the windows of tall buildings were beginning to light up in the gathering dusk.

Turning from the panorama, Travis noticed a staircase. “Dale, it’s a duplex!”

They explored further, and found the master bedroom. It was as opulently furnished and decorated as the rest of the apartment. Its king-sized bed, topped with a luxurious quilt and pillows, looked almost small in the spacious room.

Dale turned to Travis. “I hope you’ve been keeping that tab.”

They explored several other rooms, and then Dale said: “I’m going to search for financial records. If I find a credit card or enough cash, would you have dinner with me?”

“I’d like that.”

Travis went into the living room and watched the evening news on the large-screen TV. As the sports portion of the program was starting, Dale came in and told him “I found bank statements and a lot of other stuff. I also have a safe, but unless I eventually remember the combination I may never know what’s inside it.”

“Don’t’ worry; there are experts who can get into almost any safe.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. Oh the good news is that there’s no indication of servants, there are just receipts from a weekly cleaning service and a catering company; apparently I throw parties from time to time.”

“You’re relieved not to have servants?”

“Yeah. I don’t like the idea of ordering people around. Hey I also tried the bed. Travis, it’s like a cloud. Now I’m going to look upstairs.”

When Dale came back down, he said wonderingly: “There are three more bedrooms up there, two with full baths and one with a half bath. That makes five bedrooms and five bathrooms total. And this is the top floor, the level upstairs is the penthouse, and I have a roof garden.”

“You must be one hell of a consultant” Travis remarked, “This place is larger than the average house.” He pointed to the pictures that stood framed on various pieces of furniture. “Do you have any idea who these people are?”

“Not a clue” Dale replied unhappily. “Let’s find a restaurant.”

They had a good dinner, including wine (Dale knew that he preferred a dry white) and then returned to the apartment. As soon as they sat down, Travis saw Dale yawn. “I’m going to leave so you can sack out. Or better yet, some back to my place. You had a seizure even with the medication. Admittedly it was a mild one, but even so I’d feel better if you stayed with me at least until the follow-up exam.”

“I’d like to stay with you, but how about we stay here? You could use one of the guest rooms. Or if you want ... there’s my bed.”

Travis was tempted but reluctant. He didn’t answer.

“It’s a big bed, we don’t have to have any physical contact” Dale promised. “It’s a great bed, Travis.”

For another minute Travis stood deep in thought. Finally, he said: “Alright, we’ll stay here and yes, I’d like to sleep in your bed.” He smiled. “Of course it’s not the bed that’s the primary attraction.”

Hearing that last, Dale asked with a smirk: “Did I mention that there’s a price?”

Travis knew this would not be a serious demand. “What’s the price?”

“Another one of your dynamite kisses. Payable in advance.”

Travis put his arms around Dale. “This is one bill I’ll be happy to pay promptly.”

And he did.

In the aftermath of the kiss, Dale let out a breathy “Whoosh! Could you teach me how to do that?”

“I will” Travis told him, “on one condition.”

“Uh oh. What’s that?”

“I saw computers in some of the rooms. I don’t know anything about computers, will you teach me?”

“It’s a deal.”

They stood with their arms around each other; then suddenly Dale pulled away slightly, squinting at Travis. “Did you stop that day because you liked my looks?”

Travis guffawed. “Are you kidding? You wouldn’t ask if you had seen yourself with the scraggly hair and the bloody face. And it’s not why I invited you to stay with me either; what you looked like once you were cleaned up was a bonus.”

They found that Dale had a streaming service, and decided to watch a film from the wide selection available. Sitting next to Dale on one of the living room couches, Travis became so engrossed that it was a while before he noticed that Dale’s head was resting on his shoulder and Dale was fighting to keep his eyes open. “Why don’t you get more comfortable?” Travis suggested. “I’ve been told that my thighs make nice pillows.”

Dale smiled. “Ok.” He lay down with his head on Travis’s lap and let his eyes close. Within minutes he was asleep.

He was still sleeping when the film ended. Travis looked down and resisted the desire to caress Dale’s face. He leaned back. Soon he too was dozing.

When he woke up, it was dark in the apartment and Dale was sitting in a chair, watching him. “What time is it?” Travis asked.

“About eleven. I didn’t want to wake you but now that you’re up, we need to talk.”

“We need to talk always means something ominous.”

“It’s not anything terrible, I was just thinking … I might have been too hasty with the invitation. I’m pretty sure I’m gay, but I don’t know whether I’m out. If you stay overnight the doorman will assume that we slept together, in both senses of the word. I’ll be alright by myself; there’s a phone on the bedside table if I get into trouble.”

“I have a better idea: Come back to my place as I originally suggested. I can’t offer you a cloud, but if you share my bed you’ll have an attentive companion.”

“What excuse would I give for leaving with you and being gone all night?”

“You went bar-hopping with your old friend Travis who you hadn’t seen in years.”

Dale nodded. “Ok.” He packed the things he would need for the next few days, using large paper bags instead of a suitcase so that the purpose wouldn’t be apparent. Then he and Travis went down to the lobby.

Holding the doors open for them as they approached from the elevator, the night doorman said “Good evening, Mr. Williams, welcome back.” Glancing at Travis, he asked: “Is this your new boyfriend? He’s a hunk.”

For a moment, Dale was taken aback by the question. Then, realizing its full significance, he turned and smiled at Travis. “I hope so, Ralph, I’m working on it.”

Without a further word he took Travis’s hand and led him back to the elevator.

End of Part 1

Part 2 has been written, and will be forthcoming after a final edit.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

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