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What's in a Name?

Shakespeare asked the question. If you met someone with your name, would you be attracted or flee?

Fearing the draft, Maxwell Braxton fled Colorado and migrated to Canada during the Vietnam conflict. He stayed there for five years until the war ended, and then moved back to the United States and settled in Seattle, where he married and raised a family.

Alan Braxton was his second born. When he was sixteen he became aware that he was gay. He found no problem with this. Although unplanned, being gay was simply a part of who he was.

When he was nearing graduation from high school Alan applied to several universities, something he should have done years before. His first choice had been the University of California, Berkeley, but he wasn’t chosen. Of the two that accepted his application, he chose the Univ. of Calif. San Diego.

During those four years of study, he firmed up his decision to become a lawyer. His interests lay in defending the innocent and under-represented. He decided to continue his studies at the University of San Diego School of Law.

He found out about an opening as a state defense attorney. He got the job and after three years of courtroom practice and volunteering for the ACLU he made the decision to go into private practice with a partner who was also a defense attorney with the state. His experiences with the ACLU influenced him to continue to do a lot of pro bono work.

Four years before Alan Braxton was born, Allen LeSage was born to one of the premier families of Lafayette, Louisiana. He excelled in school and as was expected, he entered the University of Louisiana in Lafayette. After two years he switched to Louisiana State in Baton Rouge. He then entered the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center.

One of his grandfathers and his dad had both been lawyers, his grandfather later becoming a judge, his dad a state prosecutor. His mother’s grandfather and father had been politicians. His great-grandfather had been mayor of a small Louisiana delta town and then a state representative. His granddad was a two-time state senator.

After passing the bar exam Allen considered going into politics, but decided to remain a private lawyer, but wanted to spread his wings and leave Louisiana, partly because he felt his being gay was a Sword of Damocles.

He decamped to Dallas and tried to establish an office, but struggled to get it off the ground. Despite, and maybe because of keeping his homosexuality under wraps, he found it necessary to satisfy his natural inclinations by covertly seeking release in the underbelly of the city.

It came as no surprise, even to him, that one of his scores discovered who he was, and threatened to expose him. It wasn’t clear if he wanted money, or fame, or to be made a permanent lover, but none of them were choices Allen intended to honor.

He pulled up stakes and moved farther west, first to Phoenix, finally landing in San Diego. He took some refresher courses at California Western School of Law and subsequently passed the California Bar exam. Through contacts reaching back to Lafayette, he signed on as a state prosecutor.

Alan Braxton had found a partner for his private life, also. He and Winston had moved in together and everything had gone well for a couple of years, but then things got bumpy. It was simply a matter of their having rushed into making the relationship permanent too quickly. Passion had cooled on both sides, and finally, they agreed to call it a mistake and go their separate ways.

For a year Alan was content to keep a low profile, but with time nature’s urges returned. One late summer afternoon, he put on his swim trunks, a shirt, flip flops and headed to a secluded beach north of La Jolla he’d heard interesting tales about. You had to park a good distance away, take a flight of stairs down to the beach and then walk a quarter mile, around a pile of boulders to where the beach was tucked into a cove at the bottom of the cliffs.

Allen LeSage’s experience with the blackmailer in Dallas had made him abandon all physical contact for months. But with time you can’t ignore basic needs. By keeping his ears opened he found there was a nearby nude beach where anonymous gay sex might be found. It was his day off, and he was both bored and horny.

He followed the directions he’d gleaned from what he’d found on the internet and from the few questions he’d been able to ask without arousing suspicions. He hadn’t expected that he’d have to walk so far, or maneuver around boulders, but at the same time, it gave him a feeling of security. He doubted the police made this a part of their regular beat.

The few guys who were on the beach were scattered about. Allen walked the length of the beach, but there weren’t many who he thought were the least appealing. He spread his beach towel beside a large boulder near the bottom of the cliff, away from the water. After taking off his swimsuit he lay on the towel, alternately propped up on his elbows so he could see what was going on, and laying down with his eyes closed.

Alan was surprised upon arriving to find out it was a nude beach but was relieved to see there were a couple of guys in swim trunks. There weren’t more than a dozen men on the beach, and they were spread out enough that the beach was sparsely populated. He walked about halfway down the beach and stopped. There didn’t seem to be a reason to go any farther.

He hadn’t really expected to find anyone to his liking there. He’d been more curious than anything. He had imagined it would be a place to socialize, or for romantic couples to enjoy a day where they could express their affection without garnering scornful looks.

None of that was happening. A very few were standing or sitting in pairs, but most of them were walking back and forth, obviously checking out everybody else. He accepted the fact it had been a futile trip and he’d just spend a couple of hours getting some sun. He had no plans to plunge into the chilly Pacific.

An hour later, he felt the sun was beginning to burn and decided he should get up and move around. He picked up his towel and threw it over his shoulders and walked further down the beach.

Almost at the end of the cove, he saw a naked man lying on a towel near a large boulder. The man was propped up on his elbows and watching Alan walking by. With only quick glances in the man’s way he thought he could tell he was very good-looking. He appeared to be only a few years older than Alan, and had a nicely formed body, although it was difficult to tell while he was lying prone.

Allen had been watching what from a distance as a well-built man walked in his direction. He didn’t take his eyes off him as he got closer. He was disappointed he was wearing bathing trunks, but at the same time thought the modesty was charming. He only hoped he wasn’t shy because of the size of his cock.

As the man neared him, he saw he was a young and very handsome young man. Either of those made him a candidate. Both of them together made him a prime target. The young man glanced his way several times but looked away too quickly for Allen to make any kind of gesture toward him. He watched as he went past, thinking he was almost as good looking from the back as from the front.

He sat up and crossed his arms, resting them on his knees. It was only a few minutes before the young man was coming back, having gone as far as he could. He waited for the hunk to look his way, ready to wave him over.

As the object of his interest was directly between him and the water he looked at Allen, but just as quickly looked back down at the sand.

Allen shouted, “Hey!”

Startled, Alan looked at the man sitting there, one arm raised and waving. He stopped for a moment but took another step.

“Hey,” Allen shouted again. “Come here.”

Alan hesitated, but then thought, ‘Why did I come here if I’m not going to speak to anyone? It’s not like I’m going to get mugged.’

He walked over to the man, trying in vain not to look at his cock which hung down over his balls, almost touching the beach towel he sat on.

“Hi,” said Allen, squinting against the sun. “If you were looking for seashells, the beaches around here don’t have many.”

Alan smiled. “No, I was just taking in the view.”

“Well, I’m enjoying the view, right now.” Allen returned the smile. “Why don’t you take off that swimsuit and make the view even better?”

Alan’s smile faded and he shrugged his shoulders.

“Come on, there’s nobody else around. Join me.” Allen leaned back, completely exposing himself.

Alan thought, ‘I guess this is what I came here for.’

He pushed down his trunks and let them fall around his ankles. Allen looked at the handsome man’s cock and mentally whistled. The size of his cock certainly wasn’t the reason for any shyness.

“Why don’t you spread your towel and sit down for a while?”

Alan kicked his trunks to one side and flicked his towel to open it up. He sat down and the stranger almost immediately reached his hand over and touched Alan’s cock. As a reflex action, Alan knocked his hand away.

“Sorry,” He said at once. “I didn’t mean to do that, but I’m not used to being like this out in the open.”

This time it was Allen who shrugged. “This is my first time here. But if you look around, there’s nobody to see us, and if there was they wouldn’t be paying any attention.”

“Still,” said Alan, “I can’t do anything here.”

The older man looked around behind them. “What if we moved over there behind those boulders? Nobody would even know we were there.”

Alan looked that way. His companion stood up and picked up his towel, then stuck out his hand offering to pull Alan to his feet. Alan got up and followed him to behind the boulders.

They respread their towels side by side, but before Alan had a chance to sit back down, the man dropped to his knees in front of Alan and took hold of his cock. Without his realizing it his cock had begun to become erect. There was no time to react before his cock was deep in the other’s mouth.

Alan watched as this stranger sucked his cock. Without a doubt, it felt good, and the desire that had brought him here now swelled with lust. He grasped the man’s head and thrust his cock in and out of his throat.

After several minutes Allen put his hands on the young man’s legs and pushed back, forcing his cock from his mouth. He took a deep breath. Grabbing the younger man’s hand he pulled him down onto the towels.

He lay back, offering him his stiff cock. The lust was driving him, and Alan bent forward and took the proffered cock, which wasn’t quite as long as his own, into his mouth. He liked sucking a cock, and it had been months since he’d had the opportunity to suck one. He moved his head up and down, turning his head in different directions, swirling his tongue around it.

The man was running his hands over Alan’s muscled back. He wanted that long, fat cock again. He grasped Alan’s hips, pulling him in his direction. Alan sensed what he wanted, and without releasing the cock in his mouth, he moved so that he was lying on top of the stranger. He reinserted his cock into the open mouth.

He was on top, and he intended to stay there. He had no intention of not being in control. He continued to enjoy the cock he was sucking, but his mind was on his own cock. He began to fuck it in and out of his sex partner’s mouth, making him sometimes gag. He felt his balls flap against the guy’s eyes.

Alan knew his mouth was about to become filled with the cum of someone whose name he didn’t know. It came and he accepted it. He never considered not swallowing another man’s cum. That was the object of sucking someone off.

And he completely intended to load his cum into this person’s mouth. He had let the softening cock escape his mouth concentrated on his own cock, continuing to fuck this hot mouth.

It took several more minutes before he felt his balls contract and the cum spurt out, shot after shot. He didn’t stop fucking until he knew he had no more cum to give. Only then did he pull his cock out and roll off the man he’d just sucked off.

Allen lay still for a couple minutes, regaining his breath. He’d never had his mouth fucked like this, and his head was swirling. He was slightly delirious. He was quietly ecstatic.

Alan put his feet through the legs of his bathing trunks and stood up, pulling them up. He picked up his towel. He had no idea what to say. He wanted to go. Was he supposed to say ‘Thanks?’

Allen turned his head and asked, “Will I see you here again?”

Alan half smiled. “No, I don’t think so. It was, I don’t know. Fun? Interesting? But like I said, this is all new to me, so I don’t think I’ll be back.”

“Sorry, you didn’t like it. You could have fooled me.”

“No, it was good, and I needed it. But thanks.”

As soon as he said it, Alan knew it was the wrong thing to say. He turned and began to walk away. After a dozen paces, he half turned and waved ‘good-bye’.

For the next few days, Alan tried to keep his mind occupied with work and anything else that kept him from dwelling on the events of that afternoon.

The next week he got a phone call from a friend who was a court-appointed defense attorney who knew he had a case where justice had gone awry: A veteran who had served in Afghanistan and who was faced with the Draconian California three-strikes law.

Maximiliano had come home damaged, not physically, but emotionally. When he got here he found he no longer had a girlfriend or a job. He was angry, and that anger simmered just below the surface.

He got a job in a machine shop – work he’d never done before. After only a few weeks he cut a needed iron rod too short, which messed up the assembly. His supervisor berated him and continued to do it after making his point. Max slugged him. The supervisor landed on his butt. Max landed in jail.

Shortly after that, during a period of depression, he bought a bottle of off-brand vodka. On a Friday night, completely drunk, he stood in the middle of Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter, screaming obscenities. He futilely struggled with the cop who arrested him. He was charged with public disturbance and resisting arrest.

Two weeks after being released from jail, homeless and hungry, he went into a 7-Eleven and picked up a prewrapped ham and cheese sandwich, a bag of Fritos and a bottle of Starbucks cappuccino. He headed for the door without paying. The cashier yelled at him, and at the same time, two cops walked in the door.

And now he was facing more jail-time than the guy who walked into a Bank of America and handed the teller a note demanding all the money in her drawer. Or the guy who had masqueraded as a San Diego Gas and Electric employee and told homeowners the company was going to start requiring customers to install solar panels, but as a promotion, the first twenty-five who gave him a hundred and fifty dollars cash would get free installation.

Alan said he’d look into it and see if he felt there was anything he could do. This was the kind of thing he was known for in limited circles, but he didn’t take cases where the evidence didn’t support the claim.

“What’s this guy’s name,” he asked his friend.

“Max.”

“Okay, that’s a start. Now, how about a full name?”

“Sorry, I was looking through a stack for his case. Here it is, Maximiliano Wells.”

Alan waited for a beat.

“You’re bullshitting me.”

“No, it’s Maximiliano all right.”

“This is too weird. The guy’s name is Max Wells?”

“Yeah. So?”

He couldn’t see Alan shake his head. “My dad’s name is Maxwell.”

“Oh,” was all his friend could think to say.

Any chance he might not take the case was now doubtful. The coincidence seemed too strong, as if fate was dealing him a hand, if you believed in fate.

The next day he drove to the county jail and went through the process to see a prisoner. He went to the assigned window and sat down, placing his briefcase on the floor.

Alan looked up and saw a tall, ruggedly handsome African-American in his early thirties. His first thought was along the lines of this being the good guy in the old Hollywood westerns he watched as a kid. The guy in the white hat who in the end killed the bad guy and got the girl.

He had the “unsung hero” sit down and piece by piece got the story out of him, from the return from war to the location of the 7-Eleven where he’d been arrested, but not in that order. spent the next two hours going over the story, again and again, filling in every detail that was overlooked with each previous telling.

During the following week, Alan learned a lot about Max. He did it by going to the jail and talking to him almost every day. At the end of the work-week on Friday, he went to the county courthouse to file the necessary papers.

Afterward, he decided to walk over to the US Grant hotel for a drink. He went into the grill and ordered a Wild Turkey on the rocks. He was lifting the glass to take his first sip when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

“Well, I’ll be damned. I certainly didn’t expect to run into you again.”

Alan turned and frowned slightly. He wasn’t sure he knew the man who was touching him, or where he knew him from. Then the clouds of confusion parted and he stood up straight so the man’s hand fell away. It was his recent paramour from the beach.

Before he spoke the semi-stranger stuck out his hand.

“We never introduced ourselves. I’m Allen LeSage.”

Alan flinched slightly. “You're bullshitting me.”

“No-oo. That’s who I am, I’m pretty sure.”

The hand was still extended. Alan took it.

“I’m Alan Braxton.”

“Oh, wow! That’s what? Weird, amazing?”

“That and more, I’d say.”

Allen sat on the bar stool next to Alan and signaled for the bartender. They chatted for half an hour and then left together. gave him directions to the apartment he’d rented in Mission Valley. It was the opposite direction from where Alan lived, but it was Friday, so he opted to go.

Allen was waiting for him on the sidewalk when he pulled up to the building.

“Parking’s a bitch around here. You might have to park a couple blocks away.”

Alan coasted down the street and luckily spotted an empty space on the other side of the street. He made an illegal mid-block U-turn and eased into the space.

He walked back to where Allen was waiting, they went into the lobby, took the elevator to the third floor and down the hall to Allen’s condo, all with them exchanging only a few words.

As Alan sat down on the sofa where Allen indicated Allen asked, “Would you like another drink?”

Alan shook his head. “No thanks. I’m not a drinker, and especially when I’m driving.”

“Good,” said Allen, grinning.

He dropped to his knees in front of Alan and putting a hand on each of Alan’s knees he spread his legs.

“I can’t wait to get to that long dick of yours.”

He bent forward, opened his mouth and gently bit Alan’s dick through his pants. Alan’s first reaction was to grab him and pull him off, but he caught himself in time and watched as this man he hardly knew rubbed his face in Alan’s crotch.

In a few minutes, his dick was hard, but his pants were getting wet with Allen’s slobber. Without saying anything he undid his belt buckle and unhooked the catch above the pants’ fly. Allen frantically pulled the zipper down with some difficulty. He jerked Alan’s pants down. Alan raised his hips and let his pants be pulled down and off over his shoes.

Allen licked his tongue up Alan’s legs from his knees to his groin. He returned to biting and kissing his briefs-covered dick. He manipulated Alan’s dick so the head peeked out from one leg opening. He lapped at it, his tongue bathing the head and the part of the leg on which it rested.

He pulled on the waistband of the briefs and they repeated the act of pulling them down and off. He engulfed as much of Alan’s dick as he could, gagging himself in his greed.

“Hey,” Alan said quietly, “I want to fuck you. Okay?”

Allen let the dick leave his mouth and it sprung up and wetly slapped Alan’s stomach.

“God, yes. Please fuck me. Please.”

The begging seemed strange since Alan had asked to do it. Allen had struggled to his feet and was tugging Alan to his.

“Let’s go in the bedroom. Fuck me there.”

Alan followed him to the bedroom. When they got to the bed Allen sat down and frenetically stripped off his pants and boxers at the same time.

“Come on. Do it. Fuck my ass with that big dick,” he demanded.

But the expression on his face was one of pleading, as if he was afraid Alan might turn and flee.

“Do you have any condoms?” Alan asked.

He assumed that lubricant would be provided with the condoms. Allen jerked open a drawer in the night table and tossed a condom to Alan. He scrambled onto the bed and waited in an agitated state as Alan tore open the envelope and rolled the condom down over his erection. No lubricant had been offered.

Alan thought, ‘Well, it’s his ass.’

“Turn over and get on your knees,” he said, with more authority in his voice than he’d intended. It just seemed called for in this situation.

Allen got on his knees and elbows, looking back to see if his new master was preparing to impale him on his rod. Alan climbed on the bed and holding the base of his dick put the end against the pucker before him.

He pushed, and then a little harder. The lubricant on the condom appeared to be enough and his dick forced its way in. He pushed until he was all the way in. Surprisingly, his dick was being squeezed tighter than he’d expected.

“Oh, yeah, big dick. Fuck my pussy,” Allen hissed.

The command seemed somehow ludicrous to Alan. He was fucking a middle-aged man’s asshole. He had no other illusions, and the thought of fucking a pussy didn’t turn him on.

He pulled his dick back and out and plunged it back in again. He repeated that five more times, each time forcefully thrusting it in. He put his hand on the back of this man’s neck and pushed him down, at the same time using his legs to spread Allen’s.

Allen slid down onto his stomach and Alan continued to fuck him hard, making him grunt and moan. Alan remained holding himself up with stiffened arms, watching his dick enter and leave his sex object’s body.

He pulled his dick out again and got off the bed. Allen turned, hoping he was going to get flipped over and fucked from the front, but Alan didn’t want to look at this person he was fucking. He dragged Allen roughly over to the edge of the bed, still on his stomach, and placed him so his feet were on the floor and his face against the mattress.

Once again he rammed his dick in and aggressively returned to fucking him.

Allen’s breaths came out in puffs, but he managed to say, “God, that feels good. My pussy loves your dick. Fuck me good. Fuck me deep. Make me cum.”

In this instance, Alan wasn’t concerned with his sex partner cumming. As good as it felt, at this moment he wanted to bust his nut and get this over with. He jammed his dick in and out with quick short strokes and knew his balls were drawing up, ready to release their load.

Allen’s face was still pushed against the mattress, but he managed a muffled shout.

“OH, FUCK YEAH! OH, GOD! OH, FUCK!”

Alan didn’t make a sound as he emptied his cum into Allen’s ass. When he’d finished he pulled his still hard dick free and turned toward the bath alcove on the other side of the room. He went into the toilet closet and wiped his dick clean with toilet paper and then took a leak.

When he came out of the bathroom Allen had rolled over on his back and had forced Alan’s cum out of his rectum and was licking it from his hand. He dick was soft and glistening in the lamplight from the cum that was smeared on and around it.

It suddenly occurred to Alan how ridiculous they both must have looked fucking and still dressed in their white shirts and ties and shoes and socks, their bare asses exposed to the world.

Alan went into the living room and sat down on the sofa where he’d sat when first arriving. He pulled on his briefs and then his pants and stood up to pull them up, tuck in his shirttail and zip up his pants.

Allen still hadn’t come out of the bedroom, so as he buckled his belt he went back to the bedroom and stuck his head in the door. Allen was sitting on the edge of the bed.

“Hey, I’m going. It was fun, but I’ve got to get home.”

Allen got off the bed and came toward him. Not wanting a kiss or to be touched Alan turned and went back down the short hall with Allen behind him, his soft dick wiggling from side to side.

“Will I see you again? Do you hang out at the Grant grill?

“No, not really. Like I said, I’m not a drinker. I just go there sometimes.”

“Well, here, take my phone number,” Allen said, taking a business card from a holder on the credenza by the door.

Alan glanced at it, then looked again. “Jesus!” he exclaimed. “Don’t tell me you’re an attorney, too.”

“Yeah. Wait, what do you mean “too”? Are you?”

“Yeah. What the hell is this, a conspiracy?”

Allen said, “I’m a state prosecutor. Do you work for the state too, by any chance?”

“No, I’m in private practice.”

“Well, I’ll be damned. I guess we were meant to meet. Small world.” Allen was beaming.

“Yeah,” was all Alan said as he opened the door.

“Give me a call when you want to get together again, but don’t wait too long.”

“Yeah,” Alan repeated, and headed for the elevator.

He practically sprinted for his car. He just wanted to get home and take a good, long hot shower, but he really didn’t know why. He got on the eight-oh-five, took it to the eight and that to the five. He headed south to the Coronado Bridge and then across the soaring bridge to his small apartment.

He didn’t have a view of the water, but across the roofs of a couple of houses, he could see the towers of downtown San Diego. Here on Coronado, he could shut out the madness of the world he was faced with every day. And he especially wanted to rid himself of the madness of this particular day.

Late Saturday morning he was restless. He needed something to do, something radical. He made up his mind to do something he’d never done for a client before. He got in his car and drove to the county jail, but instead of going in and registering for a visit, he went to a bail bondsman he’d dealt with before and put up the bond for Max’s release.

It took a couple of hours, but he was waiting for Max when he walked out of the exit. It was mid-afternoon, and Alan was hungry. They went to a Coco’s and had lunch, then to Macy’s where he bought two changes of outfits, over Max’s objections.

Before leaving home Alan had called an acquaintance who worked at Father Joe’s Village and gotten a bed reserved for Max for the night. That also meant a shower and a couple of hot meals.

“On Monday we’ll go check out the Headstrong Project and Veteran’s Village of S.D. for a start. We need to get you some kind of permanent housing and some help with your emotional issues.”

“First, why are you doing this?” Max asked. “And what emotional issues?”

Alan looked at him. “Seriously? After all, we talked about? You agreed you have some PTSD problems. Don’t you think we should get those taken care of?”

“Perhaps, but…”

“Well, you aren’t going to get better until you recognize the problem. So if you want my help, you have to go along with the long-range plan.”

Alan had spoken frankly, but he wasn’t sure that tone would go over well with the older man, even if the age difference wasn’t much.

“Okay, but still you skipped question number one. Why?”

Alan didn’t have a quick answer for that one. “Because,” he began, and then just let the words come as they may.

“I don’t think you’re a bad guy. I think you got a shitty deal. You served your country, and that means me too, and you got shafted when you got home. I think I owe you something. Not just you, but all of you guys. I can’t pay back all of you, but by helping you it might ease my conscious, so it’s self-serving too. And what the shit, I like you.”

He was instantly aware he should have stopped before that last part. He was certain Max knew he was gay, although he’d never made any sort of comment about it. But even if he was broadminded, he might not like what could be considered a come-on.

“Well, I’m grateful, but I don’t like feeling obligated.”

“Didn’t you just hear me? I’m the one who feels obligated. More than you ever could. So why don’t we call it even, and get on with keeping you from going to prison for the rest of your life?”

Alan stopped and sat looking at Max. After a half dozen seconds Max stuck out his big hand and Alan took it in a grinning handshake.

The next day was Sunday, and Alan wasn’t restless. This time he knew what he wanted to do. He drove over the bridge and to Father Joe’s Village. He collected Max and went to Balboa Park. They had lunch in the Sculpture Garden and took turns through the Museum of Man, the Timken Museum of Art and the Air and Space Museum interspersed with walking through the park and sitting on benches, talking.

Alan probed into Max’s history, and in doing so revealed much of his own. There were things Max didn’t want to talk about, which was fine. Alan had no intention of telling about his recent adventures at the nude beach, or the previous Friday. That had only been two days ago, but he’d pushed it so far away it seemed much farther in the past.

That night, lying in bed, he explored a thought that had come to him when they’d been going through the botanical garden. He had a strange idea that Max was gay.

Maybe he’d never been in a relationship with another man. It could be he’d never even had a blow job, but there was something there that gave him the feeling Max was secretly homosexual.

It might be possible he didn’t even know what he wanted. That was a crazy idea, he admitted to himself, and yet, there was that thing where one gay guy senses that another guy is gay without there being a clue. was facetiously called gaydar, but Alan believed it was real.

And then there was the fact that he was sure Max knew he was gay. He didn’t act it out, but he never tried to hide it. If anyone was paying attention he was certain they’d pick up on it fairly quickly. So either Max was very broad-minded, or he was part of the crowd.

But then again, maybe he was just thankful Alan was taking his case, and once the outcome was known, he’d be history. But Alan was going to do his damnedest to see that wasn’t going to happen.

For the next two weeks, he contrived ways and reasons the two of them should get together, but Max never questioned his motives. He appeared to be happy to see Alan, and interested in the things they did together. Besides never having gone to an art museum before, he’d never been to Old Town or the Mission of San Diego de Alcala.

On the third Thursday after their meeting, they’d had an early dinner at the Fish Market restaurant on the Embarcadero. They were sitting on the back deck drinking a beer and watching the sun going down behind point Loma, the colors of the sky reflecting off the water.

“What in hell did you do in San Diego?” asked Alan. “How could you not know these places we’ve been visiting? They are San Diego.”

“Lots of reasons.” Max took a swig of his beer. He glanced at Alan and saw he was waiting for a more complete answer.

“Being black and growing up poor with a working mom had a lot to do with it. People don’t have any idea how being poor affects all aspects of your life. Then I went into the military and wasn’t around here for almost twelve years. A lot of that time I was in and out of Afghanistan.”

And again, later that night, Alan contemplated whether it was possible Max was attracted to other men. He remembered how he had touched him often that day. He’d laid a hand on his shoulder. He’d placed his hand on his back. He’d squeezed his bicep. Each time he’d touched him had emboldened him to touch him again in a more personal way.

He’d taken his hand when making their way through the restaurant as if leading a child. He’d patted his leg to emphasize a point when they were sitting on the deck. He’d pressed the back of his neck when laughing at something Max had said.

And Max hadn’t reacted to any of that. He hadn’t reacted in a good way, but more importantly, he hadn’t reacted in a negative way. He had acted as if each touch had been natural. Or was Alan imagining all this?

The day of the trial came. They’d requested a court trial with a judge instead of a jury. Alan picked Max up and on the way to the courthouse went over things they’d discussed a half-dozen times.

They checked in with the court clerk and took their seats at the defense table. Alan took papers and a legal pad out of his briefcase and arranged them neatly on the table. He was looking in his briefcase for his pen when someone touched him on the shoulder. He looked up and was greeted with the face of Allen.

He stood up rapidly, almost tipping his chair over. “Attorney LeSage,” he said, a little too loudly.

“Is this your client?” asked Allen, unnecessarily.

“Yes, Max Wells. Maximiliano.”

“I know Mr. Wells’ name,” Allen said, barely looking at Max. “You never called me.”

“Oh, yeah, sorry. I’ve been really busy. You know, crime never stops.”

Alan knew he was babbling, but his mind was whirling around the fact that of all prosecutors, this was the one that had drawn this case.

Allen put a hand on Alan’s arm, quieting him.

“Can we talk after we get rid of this nonsense?” meaning this life-changing situation for this accused veteran.

Alan bit his tongue but managed to construct an answer.

“We’ll see how it goes, first.”

He turned and sat back down, and a thought came plowing into his head.

‘This asshole liked it when I took charge at the beach. At his apartment, he was completely submissive. He wants to be dominated. He wants a master, and I bet that isn’t confined to the bedroom. I bet I can take charge here, too. I know I can. I can dominate him here, I can make him and his arguments submissive to me. I can destroy him.’

“All rise,” ordered the clerk.

As they stood Alan quietly said to Max, “Okay, let’s play the card.”

“What card?” queried Max.

“The get out of jail free card,” Alan said, resisting a smile.

“Department nine of the Superior Court is now in session, Judge Allen presiding. Please sit.”

A female judge had taken her seat and was arranging her robe. Alan knew her. She had been a defense attorney who had taught a course in court trials he’d taken years before. And she was a liberal.

Now Alan smiled. Leaning close to Max he whispered, “We’re going to get through this. Just hang on for a bumpy ride.”

Max put his large hand under the table and gripped Alan’s leg just above the knee.

He whispered back, “I’ve decided if you really want me, I’m going to hang on to you for this ride to the very end.”

Alan put his hand on top of Max’s and squeezed.

“Mr. Braxton, are you ready?” the judge asked.

Alan stood and said, “Yes, your honor.”

 

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