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Sunday, July 03, 2011

Book One - Chapter 8

Chapter 8

Two down, two to go – yes! The Corvette flew down the highway with the speedometer registering in triple digits and the cd player as loud as it would go – some classic George Bad-to-the-Bone Thorogood. He couldn’t believe he’d never gotten a ticket, fast as he always drove. The Highway Goddess must love him. “Home, sweet fucking home, here I come!”

He ordered a stone for Raven. Nothing sentimental. Just a smallish polished black oval stone with his name and a paw print engraved into it. Then, he went to the kennel and bought himself a black and silver German Shepherd puppy. (Not another black one, he wasn’t trying to replace Raven). He knew it probably wasn’t the best time with him gone so much at school, but Laney would take care of it for him when he wasn’t home, and he couldn’t stand not having a dog with him when he was outside at Heron Point. He named it Hawk.  It followed at his heels adoringly, just like Raven always had.

Rafe was glad Renny and Magdelene would be leaving for Florida soon. They were thinking of buying a house there. Magdelene had wanted to do it for years but Renny always resisted. Heron Point was home and he said that was the only house they needed. Rafe figured his father was probably the only one on Forbes list of richest Americans who didn’t own more than one home but he liked being footloose and just traveling wherever they wanted to go. Renny always said when you walked away from a hotel, you turned over the key and you were done. But Maggie was hot to check out Florida real estate and Rafe guessed his dad was humoring her.
Rafe needed to spend some quality time Laney and that was easier to do with the folks gone. She seemed to be rather at loose ends since Cal had left.
“Have you got your eye on anyone else you might want to date, Lane?”
“Justin Delaney asked me to go with him to Dawn’s party. I told him I’d go with him but I didn’t want to consider it a date. I hope I’m more loyal than to start going out with other guys practically before Cal has had time to get to California. Anyway, Rafe, I think I just won’t date this summer while you’re here.”
“I’m going to race again,” he warned, “and I’ll be traveling a lot.”
“I know but, well, I’ll start thinking about dating next year when school starts.”

            “Goddam, I’m glad to see you, Kid. You know, I’ve had sponsors calling me about you? That’s unheard of at the level you’re at as a driver. Usually, it’s the other way around. I think the fan club is part of it. That story made the rounds in racing circles.  Jeri is turning out to be one hell of a publicist. When you’re a rich professional driver, you need to put her on your payroll.”
            “Slow down, Chet. I’ve got two more years of school. I just want to spend this summer and next doing what I’ve been doing. Maybe after that, we’ll start talking about what comes after I graduate.”
            “No, Rafe, we’re going to start moving you on. We’ll keep you driving sprint cars this summer but next year, I’m going to try to get you a ride in at least a few Busch series races. We’ll see how that goes and then if you want to shoot for the big time when you’re out of school, you’ll be ready.”
            “You worry about all that, Chester. In the meantime, you just point me to a race car and I’ll drive it.”
            “Good enough, Kid.”

            The girls were, of course, thrilled to see him. He had Jeri pass the word through e-mail that he was reserving a room at one of the most elegant restaurants in Baltimore and any of the members who wanted to come were invited. By the time, they all RSVPed, there were 112 of them. He chose prime rib and baked potatoes and salad for the menu. It cost him a pretty penny but he thought they deserved it.  Besides, that year he took off, between racing and playing music and handling Laney’s funds, he’d piled up money instead of spending it the way he thought he would. And he always saved a big part of his allowance because there weren’t that many things he really wanted, so his bank account had grown significantly.
            Jeri sent out a press release about the Appreciation Dinner and it must have been a slow news cycle because in addition to a couple of print reporters, Channel 5 News sent out a crew to film them going in. They interviewed several of the women, not dressed in Fan Club tee-shirts now, but in their dress-up best. They, of course, expressed nothing but adoration for Rafe. Mostly the media people wanted to talk to Rafe himself to get a feel for what this was all about and he didn’t disappoint them. Everyone who works in film knows that there are certain people with whom the cameras simply fall in love and they could tell right away that Rafe was one of them. The lenses seemed as if they wanted to wrap themselves around him, enhancing his lean, chiseled handsomeness, capturing the quick gleaming smile and the enigmatic dark eyes, dwelling on the lock of black hair that fell so appealingly across his forehead.
            “How do you account for the fan club phenomenon, Mr. Vincennes? I mean, let’s face it, your stature hasn’t really reached the point where this would be expected?” the beautiful blonde reporter, asked, all professional on camera, but thinking, “hell, I know exactly how to account for it, I’m ready to sign up myself. Can anyone say sex appeal?”
            Rafe’s quick smile acknowledged that he probably knew that was the answer as well but of course, he didn’t say it.
            “I don’t know, exactly. There’s just kind of a connection among us. I can’t tell you how much their support means to me……”
            When the recorders and cameras were off, he told her. “I can’t really explain to you in words but I could probably show you.”
            “What time do you expect your party to be over, Mr. Vincennes?”
            “I’d guess before midnight.”
            She gave him a business card with her home address and phone number written on the back. “Call and let me know when you’re on your way.”
            Linda Dee gave a little moan when she saw him on the news. Her daughter, Chelsea, who was home from college herself, began to cry.
            “Oh, my, God, Mom, he’s even better looking than he was in school.”
            “Chelsea, I’m warning you. If you even think about joining his fan club, I will disown you!”

            Lane spent her summer in a low-grade depression. She did all the usual things, parties and water-skiing and barbeques with her friends, but she just couldn’t seem to get into the swing of the season. Everyone treated her gently and let her get away with it for the most part because they attributed it to Cal leaving. And that was a part of the reason. She missed him. If he wasn’t quite the man of her dreams, as everyone believed, he was a wonderful friend, one she’d relied on a lot. A bigger reason for her emotional slump included Cal in another way, because he was involved in the deceit she had to engage in when she allowed everyone to make their assumptions. If her eyes suddenly filled with tears and Missy patted her on the back with sympathy for her broken heart, she had no choice but to go along with the misconception.
            It was the first time she’d really faced what her feelings for Rafe implied for her future. She flat-out loved him and she didn’t think she could change that even if she wanted to but if she didn’t, she realized she would live her entire life protecting a secret. She had already spent ten years with the dominating fact of her existence being locked away inside herself. She could never, ever confide in anyone except Rafe himself, never be honest with her friends. Like now, when they were being supportive and compassionate, but for the wrong reason, and she had to let it happen that way. She wanted and needed their concern but it made her feel guilty that it flowed from a lie.
Laney had to put constant effort into being deceitful because at her core, she was naturally drawn toward openness and honesty. She knew Rafe wasn’t at all like her. He constructed his public persona in the way he wanted people to perceive it although it didn’t even come close to the reality of who he really was. He simply told people what he wanted them to believe and rightness or wrongness didn’t even enter into it.  She’d asked him about it once, how he could lie so easily and make his lies sound so sincere.
“What great cosmic law convinces you that you owe people “the truth”, Lane? I don’t even really think in those terms. My truth is whatever I say it is.”
            She knew too that they were direct opposites in terms of how they felt about one another. For her, love was an all-encompassing thing. It filled her world. She still remembered asking him once if they couldn’t run away together and take new identities so they could be together all the time. He’d laughed at her then but she still knew she’d give up everything else if it meant she could spend her life with him. When he wasn’t around, it was almost like a part of her went into suspended animation, waiting for him to return, even though she went through all the motions of her daily routine.  Her mental calendar was always focused on when they’d be together – Christmas, for instance, and then when that was over, she concentrated on her trip to see him in February. The rest of the dates were like time-fillers in between.
            But the harsh reality, she admitted to herself, was that he didn’t feel the same way about her. She didn’t doubt he loved her in his own way but she was allotted only one small section of his brain. She had once tried to calculate what percentage that section took up, and even though it was impossible to measure in real terms, she estimated it was maybe 20 percent, if that much. And she thought out of sight was pretty well out of mind with Rafe.
            The hard part of all this was that she knew it would never be any different. Let’s say for the sake of argument, they had run away together or that they were husband and wife instead of brother and sister, he’d still be who he was, off doing his own thing the majority of the time. That 20 percent of himself was all he was willing, maybe even capable, of giving her no matter what the circumstances.  She thought faithfulness to Rafe was about as elastic as his definition of truth.
            So where did all that leave her and the rest of her life? She sighed to herself. She couldn’t go much farther with this line of thought until he left again because when he was home, reason went out the window.
            Last night, for instance. Renny and Magdelene were at Cape Cod. She heard him come home late, felt every move he made. Heard the shower come on and off as she lay there in her bed, tense with anticipation. When she saw his shadow in her doorway and heard him whisper, “Laney, are you asleep? Why don’t you come on over here with me,” her heart leaped and she couldn’t get to him quick enough. In bed, he’d kissed her and murmured, “in the morning, Honey, I’m really tired tonight. I just wanted to feel you close to me,” then put his arms around her and fell asleep. Just feeling that beloved body beside her was enough to fill her with happiness. And in the morning when he made love to her, she just decided she wouldn’t think about the rest of it right now.

            Tom “Cowboy” Goslin hated Rafe. His loathing was bone-deep and visceral. Partly, it was based on the natural resentment of the old bull toward the young challenger.  Cowboy had been the cock of the walk around the MidCoast racing circuit for several years and he still was, but he felt Rafe breathing down the back of his neck. In his late 30’s, he was an attractive man in a rough-hewn kind of way with his lanky frame and a weathered face that featured a square jaw and ice blue eyes and a shock of sun-streaked hair (invariably topped by a cowboy hat, hence, the nickname).  In real life, he owned a masonry business. He could still lay brick or stone with the best of them and had upper arms as thick as small logs to prove it. He had at one time hoped to become a full-time driver, making the leap into the fame and fortune of NASCAR stardom but at some point, he admitted that was never going to happen and settled into enjoying the limited notoriety and the women that came along with being the best of the minor league.
            He was realistic enough to know that eventually some kid would come along and threaten his title and he didn’t think he would have minded that so much if it had been a youth much like he had been, a kid who’d had to bust his ass for every little bit of success life let him have. He might even have been willing to serve as a mentor for such a youngster.
            But then this fucking little aristocrat comes along who has obviously never had to work a day in his life but had everything handed to him on a silver platter, not a silver platter, a gold platter. Cowboy had seen his full name on the registry records. Rafael Alain Vincennes, for Christ’s sake, what kind of pussy name was that for a red-blooded American race car driver? And he’d made a point to learn as much as he could about Rafel Alain Vincennes, Esquire.  Such as that he graduated valedictorian of his class in high school and currently attended Princeton University, one of the elite Ivy League colleges. He was familiar with the blue Corvette, of course, and once he’d even driven down to Benedict and asked around to find out where Heron Point was located. You couldn’t see all that much from the road, just a lane of trees with a gold stone mansion at the end of it and a long stretch of Chesapeake Bay frontage beyond, the kind of place no one of his means could ever hope to aspire to, except maybe as an employee hired to build a wall or something.
            And then, there was this situation with his goddam fan club and the women coming to the track in their “we ‘heart’ Rafe” shirts. When he saw the coverage of the party on Channel 5, Rafe surrounded by his bevy of worshipful females, it almost made him want to hurl, both because of the women themselves and because Rafe could make that kind of extravagant gesture. Rewarding his faithful followers with a dinner at Brittain’s Grille, a place Cowboy could barely afford to take even one woman much less a hundred of’em!
            And what frosted his balls absolutely worst of all was Rafe’s attitude, the way he just accepted it all as if it was his due. He swaggered around the track like he was the lord and master and everybody else was his peasant. Well, Cowboy was here to tell that little cocksucker, he wasn’t anybody’s fucking peasant!
            Most of his buds thought he was making too much of it. They almost seemed to admire Rafe for his wins and his women and that rankled too.

            Rafe knew how Cowboy felt about him. How could he not when Cowboy’s intense dislike practically radiated off of him in waves? But he’d have known even if the man had made an effort to keep it under wraps because paying attention to people was a large part of how he got along in the world. Rafe tried to simply avoid Cowboy as much as he could because he didn’t want any trouble but he figured that trouble would eventually come his way whether he wanted it or not. Cowboy would be forced by his own rage to act. Rafe wondered what form it would take.

            Rafe still didn’t drink but he liked bars, especially the funky, country bars that race drivers and their fans frequented. (Besides that, he just didn’t like being told by society that he wasn’t allowed to do something). Sometimes, he and some of the fan club girls went out dancing after the races. So, in addition to the dinner, Rafe had spent another substantial chunk of his savings on a primo set of alternate identification papers. The driver’s license and the birth certificate and the passport were exact duplicates of his real ones only with his birthdate changed to reflect his age as 22.

            On this particular night, he and Chester had gone into the Overlook (due to its location overlooking the track) after the races. As soon as they walked in the door, they saw Cowboy with a few of his pals clustered around the pool table.
            “Could be a bad situation, Rafe,” Chet muttered.
            “Yep, we’ll see, I guess.”
            Chet ordered his usual Johnnie Walker Black and water. Rafe ordered a Scotch too with water on the side, then passed the Scotch to Chet and drank the water.
            They’d been there maybe 15 minutes when Cowboy ambled over and asked Rafe if he wanted to put his name down to play the winner of the next game of pool. Chances were very good that would be Cowboy because he was a killer pool player.
            “Sure, put me down and let me know when I’m up.”
            “I don’t know if that was very smart,” Chester told him.
            “What else could I do? It would piss him off if I refused.”
            “You any good at playing pool, Kid?”
            A smile flashed across Rafe’s face. “I’m unbeatable at pool, Chet.”
            “Maybe you ought to let him win?”
            “Nah, I wouldn’t do that. It’d be against my principles. Besides, we may as well get this over with.”
            “Okay, Hotshot, you’re up,” Cowboy called over.
            Cowboy had his own pool cue, with his name on it, carried it in a black leather carrying case, also with his name on it. He chalked the tip, broke the table, got the five ball in the pocket, then missed his next shot, leaving the rest of the balls scattered across the green felt. He stood back satisfied that he’d left Rafe in an untenable position.
            Rafe balanced a couple of the house cues, selected the second one he tried and ran the table. No muss, no fuss. Not spending a lot of time pondering his shots, just doing it, one ball right after another. One of the men watching whistled.
            The next guy listed next on the board came forward, ready to play Rafe.
            “No!” Cowboy motioned him off, teeth clenched. “Get back! This is between us.”
            He racked the balls. “Winner’s choice.”
            Rafe broke and ran the table in the same no nonsense style as before.
            Cowboy’s always weather-reddened face was the shade of Georgia clay by then. His eyes were narrowed, his mouth twisted.
            They were standing close together as Cowboy prepared to remove the rack from the balls while Rafe stood waiting.
            “I’ll warn you,” Rafe told him. “You can play me all night long and you’ll never win, so you decide how much time you want to waste.”
            He sensed the punch coming but decided to eat it. He wanted everyone watching to know exactly who had started this fight and how, not by calling him out fair and square, but with a blindside attack. Could be a mistake to play it that way. Cowboy had some powerful arms and fists. If he hit Rafe hard enough to incapacitate him, it was game over. But Rafe had instantly calculated the odds and figured from the position Cowboy was in, he couldn’t put that much force behind his punch.  Rafe moved his head so the glancing blow struck him at the side of his eye. Not even hard enough to knock him down but he pretended to drop anyway. On his way down, he gathered himself and lunged, driving his head straight into Cowboy’s balls. He wasn’t in a stable enough position to make the most of it anymore than Cowboy had been, but it did the trick.  The bigger man fell, clutching his testicles.
            His friends came over to help him up.
            “Jesus, Cowboy, what the hell was that all about? All he did was beat you fair and square. You had no call to hit him.”
            “You.” He pointed at Rafe. “This isn’t over. Let’s go outside.”
            “No, come on, Cowboy, let it go. Leave the kid alone.”
            “Yeah, Man, you’re so much older and bigger, it won’t even be a fair fight.”
            He shook them off and motioned again to Rafe, who shrugged and headed for the door. Chester came up behind him, “how do you want to play this, Rafe?”
            “I think it will be all right, Chet.”
            As soon as they were out the door, Cowboy went for him, wading in with his fists pumping. Rafe figured that would be his style because he was furious and fury made men stupid. He had little difficulty avoiding the other man’s attack. Rafe wasn’t the hardest puncher in the world. His advantage was blistering speed that allowed him to hit the other man and move away so fast, Cowboy couldn’t keep up with his position.  By the time, he realized where Rafe was and targeted him, he was gone. Meanwhile, Rafe kept up his own series of relentless strikes – in the kidneys, on the jaw, in the nose. Rafe didn’t believe in fighting fair. You fought to win – period. Within a few minutes, it was over. For the second, time Cowboy was on the ground. Instantly, as he fell, Rafe pulled the switchblade from his boot. They all heard it snick open.
            He pressed the point into Cowboy’s crotch.
            “Just listen for a minute, Cowboy,” he said in an even voice. “I’ve tried the best I could to stay out of your way because I didn’t want a hassle with you.” He pressed the knife point a little harder. “But I’m not going to do that anymore. Now I think you need to stay out of my way because, if you don’t, so help me God, you’ll spend the rest of your life sitting down to piss.”
            The blade disappeared.
            Chet and Rafe returned to the bar. Cowboy and his crew didn’t come back in.
            “I gotta’ say, Kid, you are always just a bundle of surprises. Where’d you learn to play pool like that?”
            “We have a pool table at home. I watched my brothers when I was young and then I practiced until I got so I could figure the angles and and where one ball had to hit another to make it go where I wanted it and the speed it needed to be going. I got so I could run the table almost every time.”
            “And what about fighting, Rafe?”
            “Fighting is just commonsense, Chet.”
            “Commonsense, huh?”
            “Yep, minimizing your opponent’s strength and maximizing your own. Like brute force is Cowboy’s strong point and speed is mine so I had to make that work for me.”
            “He never even laid a hand on you and you must have hit him at least ten times.”
            A smile flickered across Rafe’s face. “Exactly ten times, Chet.”
            “Would you have cut him if he’d come at you.”
            Chet thought the dark eyes turned to him were the coldest he’d ever seen.
            “In a heartbeat, Chet.”

            “Well, you’re halfway through, Rafe, what do you think by now?”
            “I hate it, Dad. It feels like prison but you know I’ll do it, for you, if for no other reason.”
            Rafe’s feelings for Renny resembled love and it was love in a way, although not love in the traditional sense. It was more like he acknowledged Renny as the alpha male. He admired, respected and even feared his father’s power. He sought Renny’s approval as any subordinate wants the approval of its superior and because of that, he willingly submitted to his father’s domination. It would remain that way as long as Renny was strong enough to assert his leadership.
            “I can make it a little easier for you these next two years. If you think it would help, I’m willing to pay for you to rent an apartment in or near Princeton so you can get out of the dorm. I assume that’s the part you dislike the most?”
            “Yes! If I could just have more privacy, it would make all the difference, Dad.  I feel so exposed in the dorm.”
            “Well, you might want to reconnoiter the area before school starts and see what you can find. I think housing is at a premium around Princeton. If you wait too long, you might have a hard time finding anything close. Why don’t you take your sister with you? Getting away for a couple days would probably do her good. She’s been down in the dumps since her boyfriend moved.”
            He handed Renny a check. “I’m going to give you $5,000. That ought to be enough to pay a month’s rent and a damage deposit as well as your travel expenses. I’ve done a little research (actually he’d talked to Gil). You ought to be able to find something livable for less than $2,000 a month if you don’t mind a bit of a commute.”
            Renny took the check. “I really appreciate this, Dad.”

            They set off the next Monday. Laney was joyful at the thought of two or three days of freedom with Rafe. He was pretty happy himself, mostly about the prospect of never having to return to a dorm although, of course, he was glad to have Laney with him too.
            The first night, they just stayed at the motel after going out to dinner and buying a paper. Lane read the want ads for rentals while Rafe did research on his laptop. They made a list of places they wanted to check out the next day.
            Then Rafe ran his hands in her hair.  “Take your clothes off and get into the bed, Woman,” he ordered teasingly.
            Are your intentions honorable, Sir?”
            “I’ve never had an honorable intention in my life.”
            “Oh, good!”

            They’d looked at apartment complexes until they could hardly remember which apartment offered which amenities.
            “I can settle for any of them if I have to,” Rafe told her, “anything is better than the dorm.”
            Now they were parked in front of a three-story, turn-of-the-century Victorian in a residential neighborhood, palely pink, with lilac and peach and light turquoise trim. No one answered the doorbell so they went through the gate in the privacy fence into a landscaped yard filled with flowers and blooming shrubs and trees and meandering brick pathways. They followed the voices they heard coming from the pool area. Seated at a table by the pool were two men in swimming trunks.
            “Are you the ones with the apartment for rent?” Rafe asked.
            “Depends,” said the first man. He was 50-ish, stocky and bald with friendly hazel eyes and a wide, humorous smile, framed by a neat brown goatee and mustache.
            Rafe cocked one dark eyebrow, “on what?”
            “Are you gay?” The second man was probably in his early 60’s, with perfectly barbered silver hair and eyes that matched. He managed to look distinguished even in swimming trunks.
            “Do I have to be?”
            “We prefer it,” said the younger man. “And by the way, my name is Vic and that’s Chas.”
            “Well, Vic, I’m not gay so if that’s a deal-killer, I guess there’s no sense wasting your time. I do have a brother who is gay though and I could probably get him to give me a reference, if that would help.”
            Vic looked at Chas with a gleam in his eye. “He isn’t gay, but he is beautiful, so having him around as eye candy would be a pleasant diversion.”
            “That’s true,” said Chas, “and no messy aftermath if one of our friends got involved with him and ended up with a broken heart,” speaking as if Rafe wasn’t there.
            They both waited expectantly to see what Rafe’s reaction to their comments would be.
            “I’m good at gentle rejection,” he assured them, his mouth quirking in amusement.
            “What’s your name?”
            “Rafe Vincennes and this is my sister, Lane.”
            “So, Rafe Vincennes, tell us why you’d make a good tenant?”
            “I don’t drink, I don’t smoke and I don’t party. I do have women in occasionally, actually maybe a little oftener than occasionally, but almost always only one at a time.” Both men were a little startled by the electric smile that went flashing across his face.
            “Whoa,” thought Vic, “that’s high voltage stuff.”
            “Anything else?”
            “If you’d allow it, I’d like to bring my German Shepherd. I’d promise not to let him damage anything.”
            “We were thinking of getting a watchdog anyway, weren’t we, Chas?”
            “We were?” asked Chas.
            “One thing. We have parties back here by the pool sometimes. It’s very private so we don’t worry much about offending the neighbors. You’re not easily shockable, are you, Rafe?” Vic asked anxiously.
            Laney giggled, “I can’t think what it would take to shock Rafe.”
            Vic went on, “and I feel I need to warn you. You’re welcome to use the hot tub but it’s at your own risk. We couldn’t guarantee what might happen, what some of our friends might do if you, if you…”
            Rafe nodded seriously, “I’ll probably avoid the hot tub altogether.”
            “Good, good. Well, I think that’s all the concerns I have. Why don’t we show you the place and see if you like it.”
            Rafe and Lane followed them down a flower-lined path to the carriage house. It was a small brick building, trimmed in green, with a tile roof. There were flower boxes full of fuschia petunias at the windows that went across the front of the structure. They entered by means of a green door with a brass knocker in the shape of an erect penis.
            “We can replace it, if it will bother you,” Vic told him.
            Rafe chuckled, “Nah, I don’t care as long as it opens the door.”
            The inside was all high ceilings, golden oak floors and sunny windows. There were three rooms flowing into one another through wide archways – a modern kitchen with a bar separating it from the living room, which featured off-white Italian leather furniture and a white brick fireplace and from there, a spacious bedroom with a king-sized bed and a mirrored wall. The bathroom off the bedroom contained a sunken tub and a double sink with a long marble countertop.  The whole place was creatively decorated in subdued hues splashed with colorful spread rugs and paintings and pillows. Large braided Ficus trees and pots of Schefflera filled the corners, a tall elegant vase of ceramic Calla Lillies adorned the mantel of the fireplace. Chas opened the entertainment center opposite the sofa.
            “The television and stereo are in here.” Vic showed him.
            “You get the use one of the spots in the garage off the alley,” said Chas.
            “What do you think?” they both said at the same time.
            “I think it’s great.” Rafe told them, “perfect. I’ve only got one worry.”
            “What’s that?”
            “I’ve never been into plants much. You’d have to give me instructions about taking care of them.”
            “Oh, we can do that or come in and do it for you. The plants are no problem,” Chas assured him.
            “Well, maybe you’d better tell me how much then to see if I can even afford it.”
            “We usually charge $1,800 with $100 a month extra for a pet, but we can drop the extra hundred, can’t we, Chas?”
            “Why don’t I start out paying the $100 until you see for yourself that Hawk isn’t going to harm anything, then we can drop it later if you feel comfortable.”
            “Yes, that’s a good way to do it.” Chas smiled warmly “When do you want to move in?”
            “Not ‘til closer to the end of the month but I’ll go ahead and start my rent now. That way you won’t lose anything waiting on me.” He wrote them a check.

            They both watched the narrow hips saunter gracefully down the sidewalk to the gate.
            “What a fucking waste,” said Chas.
            “It’s going to be different having a straight guy as a tenant but I think this one’s going to be fun, don’t you, Chas?”
            “Interesting, to say the least,” Chas replied.

            “I just googled our new tenant, Chas.”
            “Aren’t you supposed to do that before we rent to him, Vic? If he’s a felon, it’s already too late.”
            “He isn’t a felon. He’s a race car driver. He has his own website and his own fan club. He’s a big super-athelete at Princeton. They call him Rafe the Wraith because he’s so fast. He won the Chesapeake Regatta two years ago. The family is hugely rich. They live on an estate on the Eastern Shore called Heron Point. I researched some of his brothers and sisters. The gay brother, Denis, is an artist. His partner is an actor. He has the lead role in “It’s in the Cards”, you know, it’s playing at the Broadhurst. Maybe after he gets settled in, we ought to ask him to invite his brother and his friend to one of our parties.”
            “Let’s not jump too far ahead of ourselves, Vic. Let’s just wait and see what he turns out to be like first.”

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