Terry and the Peachers

II

By Michael Arram

Terry's face was pushed deep into the duvet as the body above him entered him and began battering away hard at his arse. He lay tied and cuffed spreadeagled face down on a hotel bed. Johnny seemed to enjoy forceful entry into restrained lovers, and with the thickness of his member it was all Terry could do to stifle gasps of pain, which he guessed would excite Johnny all the more. He willed his abused anal muscles to open and accept the thrust and size of the older man, and he counterfeited sobs of lust. He swore this would be the last time Johnny took him. He'd already had more than enough of the domination which Johnny enjoyed all too obviously. He'd gone over the line by sodomising him with a variety of objects, culminating in a thick dildo which he'd jammed hard into Terry without permission or much lubrication.

Johnny groaned and gasped into his ear, 'You're loving this aren't you, you fuckin' little bum slut?'

'Oh God. You're sooo big. Fuck me, stud. Fuck me!' Terry knew that apparently enjoying this abuse was important for a lot of reasons, and survival might possibly be one of them. He just hoped his rent-boy sex talk didn't sound too far over the top. Eventually it ended. Johnny rolled off him with a gratified groan. He massaged Terry's bum and back.

'You're the best, kid. What a whore. What an ass. I got some friends who'd love to meet you. They'd pay a fortune for a night with you. Interested?'

Terry looked across at him and faked a grin, 'Might be. But I'm not in the best position for negotiating at the moment.'

Johnny laughed, got the keys and undid the restraints. Terry rolled over, sat up and rubbed his wrists and ankles. Fortunately his erection was straining and leaking after the battering his prostate had just taken. Johnny grinned as he looked at the state of Terry's long member, 'You really loved it, you fucking ass bandit. You're up for anything, huh?' He took Terry in his mouth and sucked him dry.

As they separated, Terry got up and went to the bathroom. He didn't like the sticky feel between his buttocks; if that bastard's condom had split he'd kill him. As he gingerly explored his anus he was relieved to find no semen, but his fingers nonetheless came away liberally coated in red. For all Terry's wide experience, his anal ring was abraided and was bleeding freely; that sodding dildo. He cleaned it with handwash and cold water, until his fingers stopped coming up bloodstained, although it stung badly. Nonetheless, he came back naked and smiling into the bedroom. Johnny had turned down the lights and was lying satiated across the bed. He was well-muscled and hairy down the front. Terry reckoned he must have been over thirty, and he had the look of someone who had been in the military at some point. Terry sat next to him, saw how sleepy he was, and turned him over. He began massaging his shoulders and stroking his thighs and back. Johnny sighed and murmured, squirming sleepily under his attentions. Eventually Terry stopped and lay next to Johnny, who embraced him and drifted away into a deep sleep.

Terry listened to the city traffic fade into silence outside the hotel room. It was about three in the morning when Johnny snored heavily and rolled away from him. He got up and dressed silently. Knowing it would come to this he'd emptied his pockets of coins and jingling keys before he'd met Johnny that evening, to receive his apologies and to seduce him. He went to Johnny's clothes scattered round the dimly-lit room, and searched the pockets. He found the man's wallet in his back trousers pocket. He pulled out the cards and saw without surprise that they were embossed with several different names. He quickly noted them down. He removed the banknotes, which amounted to a good few hundred pounds, and shoved them in his own pocket. Then he swiftly explored the so-called Johnny's travelling case. There were not as many papers as he hoped, but two passports, both British, gave him two more names to play with and a wide variety of immigration stamps and dates: most recently entry to the States, as he noted. He took a few of the negotiable travellers' cheques he found, amounting to five hundred more pounds, but left the really big denominations. Then there were some e-mail printouts and headed letters which might be significant. He took them into the toilet and pulled out a slim and expensive digital camera with inbuilt spotlight, that Paul had given him. He photographed the passport details and each of the documents as carefully as he could. Then he shoved the papers carelessly back in the case but in the same order as he'd found them. He wanted Johnny to know it had been searched for money, but not necessarily for information. He wanted to be taken for a petty thief. He let himself quietly out of the hotel bedroom, and took quickly to the damp early morning streets.

It was nearly five and still dark when Terry arrived in Finkle Road along with the milkman. He stood outside No 25 and rang Paul's number with his mobile, and he saw the curtain of the front bedroom twitch. The door opened quietly and he found himself taken into his friend's warm embrace.

'God, Tel, I was so worried. I went through a complete novena. Are you OK?'

'My bum will take a while to recover from the bastard. Iss put me off the idea of fetish sex, I can tell you.'

'You... fucking hero. You didn't need to go that far. Was it so bad?'

'I cannot tell a lie, Paulie. It wuz grim, and it was only thinking about you that I got through it. But it may have been worth it. I gotta lot, including a grand and more I reckon I thoroughly earned. Not that I negotiated a price beforehand.'

'The other thing, Tel, is that you are now in some real danger.'

'I know.'

'He knows where you work, and he'll be after you for revenge if nothing else. He sounds like a right cunt. He'll find your house and although I don't see him making any connection with me, still he'll be at Finkle Road soon enough too and he'll be very intrigued to find you here. You know what this means?'

'I gotta disappear, Paulie. And today too. I got a letter here I wan' you to send to Mrs Williams who runs the disco fitness club at the gym. Says I gotta take a bow for the foreseeable. Wouldn't wan' her worryin' 'bout me.'

'OK. I'm glad we're agreed.' He pulled out some tickets, 'These are for London, the seven o'clock train. You're going to be on it, and I won't feel happy till you are.'

'So where am I goin', Paulie?'

'I got friends in Crouch End who know you're coming. You'll like them, they're gay. They know a bit of what's going on, and soon enough they'll know more. Alex is a useful guy, with contacts. He'll meet you at Paddington. There's this too.' Paul handed Terry a big sealed manila packet. 'You need to take it with you.'

'What is it?'

'This may be what friend Johnny is after. I can't tell you any more, but look after it. A lot of people's happiness depends on its being kept out of Johnny's hands.'

'S very mysterious, me old mate. So there is somethink in Finkle Road worth stealin' after all?'

'Only this, I think. Johnny will be here soon to look for it. I want him to, and I want him not to find it, so he'll bugger off and try to find it somewhere else that it isn't.'

'Yer bein' very mysterious, Paulie.'

'With good reason, me mate. In an image you'll appreciate, keep it with you and keep it safe, as Gandalf said to Frodo.' Paul smiled: he thought that Terry's addiction to film fantasy was childish but cute. 'Maybe I'll be able to tell you more in a few days. But for now, let's get some breakfast down you and get you to the station. There'll be a taxi here in an hour. Your parents know you're going away for a few weeks?'

'Yup, told them to expect me when they see me. Mum didn't like it one little bit.'

'Take this too.' He handed Terry a fat envelope.

'What is it?'

'More cash in big denominations, and a lot of it. It's OK, there's plenty more where that came from. It's from the Bank of Peacherland. You'll need it. I have a feeling that London may not be the end of your travels. You got your passport, like I asked?'

'Yup. More bloody mystery. I'm almost enjoying this.' Terry admitted to himself that he was enjoying this bit at least. Life had suddenly got really interesting. His old routine of pubwork, disco groups, casual pick ups and failed romances had become by turns boring and frustrating after the first thrill of living way beyond society's confines had worn off. He admitted to himself that maybe his extreme affair with Anthony the Acid had been a desperate attempt to recapture the dangerous thrill of an alternative lifestyle. He had been more than a little pissed to discover that the wild side became as familiar as your back garden after a while. No wonder some of his friends had got into drugs; not that he had been tempted, he didn't like what he'd seen of the end result.

Paul regarded him with a worried look. 'Terry, I'm not happy with putting you through this without you knowing what it's all about. But believe me when I say that it's very important for two people I love very much.'

'Andy and Matt, right?'

Paul nodded. 'I'll be able to tell you more soon, I promise.'

Paddington at rush hour was packed. Heaving crowds surged towards the Underground. Somewhere in the mass of people was the man whom Terry was thinking of as his 'contact', Alex Johnson. He'd never met Alex, and Paul didn't have more than a blurred group photo to show him. Still, he had a mobile number if Alex wasn't under the signboard. But he was there, a large well-built lad, quite good looking with long dark hair, a broad white-toothed grin and a brown face. Terry went straight up to him. 'You Alex?'

'That's me. Hi Terry.'

'Hi. Did Paulie tell you whassup?'

'Something about it, yes.' Alex's voice was home counties upper middle class, which didn't make Terry immediately sympathetic to him. Terry was a young man with more unresolved issues than just his relationship with Paul, and one of them was an automatic contempt for those people who he reckoned had it easy in life. Alex led him to a nearby Starbucks. They got their lattés and settled into some soft chairs as the world went by outside the window.

'You're on the run, Paul said.'

'S a bit over-dramatic, but yup, I had to get away from home fast, and there's someone after me, someone not very nice.'

'Can you give me the details, Terry? Paul said you've got a list of his identities. I work in journalism and I've got some contacts I can use to try to trace the names.'

Terry handed him a list of the names he'd found on the cards and passports in Johnny's room. 'I photographed one of his passports and Paul printed off this image before I left... iss a bit blurry, but you can get an idea of what he looks like.'

'Mean-looking bastard.'

'Certainly is.' Terry's arse was still throbbing from the assault it had taken from the mean-looking bastard earlier that morning. 'What now, Alex?'

'I'm heading into work, but my boyfriend, Ben, is at the flat. You need to get the tube to Muswell Hill, and then a 322 bus. I brought this A to Z. You need to get off here at Crouch End Broadway and on to Palace Road. We're on the third floor of No. 214. It's a bit of a hike, but you've not got a lot of baggage at least. OK?'

'Sure, I juss need to get to a bureau de change to exchange these travellers' cheques. Then I'm ready.'

If he had been a bit cautious about Alex, Terry found Ben positively difficult. To start off with he had no small talk and zero sense of humour. Also he was a northerner, a sub-species for which Terry had nothing but contempt. After they'd said their helloes, he couldn't get any words to the point out of Ben. He didn't seem to know much about what was going on, and it seemed to Terry that Alex must be the brains of the pair. In the end, he put the TV on and watched the daytime soaps. He joined Ben for an afternoon walk round Alexandra Palace, and at least enjoyed the London views if not much conversation. The day was a little misty but not too cold.

It was a real relief when Alex got back from work at 6.30. He kissed Ben lingeringly at the door, and grinned at Terry. Ben went into the tiny kitchenette to get a meal going, while Alex changed out of his suit and sat at the lounge table with Terry. 'Heard from Paulie yet?'

'Nuthink. I'll ring him later.'

'No, don't do that.'

'You what?'

'Don't ring Finkle Road, and I'll tell you why. Your man Johnny is Mike Anson, former SAS lieutenant and mercenary, veteran of Afghanistan and Northern Ireland. Surveillance a speciality. If he's watching Finkle Road he's monitoring calls in and out, land lines and microwave both. He's very expensive and very good. He's pretty well known to the press, 'cos he uses his skills on the side to pick up indiscrete media calls and sells them on to us. He's quite famous in his line, you should feel complimented to be involved with him. He also has a reputation as a fixer. Someone's paid him an awful lot of money to find what you've got in that bag. I e-mailed Paulie with the information and some suggestions as to how he should get in touch. He'll ring us from the pub later tonight. I'm a bit worried to tell the truth. I'm told Anson doesn't stop at a bit of violence, if he reckons it's necessary. Paulie may not be as safe as he thinks he is.'

'Christ, it gets worse. What can you tell me about all this?'

'Let's wait till Benny's got the meal, then we can talk.'

Ben had made a pretty reasonable spaghetti bolognaise. With Alex in the room he was very different, less shy and straitlaced. He even smiled from time to time. Terry began to warm to Alex a lot as he watched him tease and amuse his boyfriend, he had a way with funny stories that would have caused a Trappist monk to convulse. The depth of affection between the two also touched him. He was realising that it was precisely that which he wanted, a regular and devoted partner. But his personality and his personal history was running against him.

And maybe it was being away from home, and maybe it was because he was genuinely on the run, but a need to be deeply and unconditionally loved by some lovable man surged up in his heart. It was a feeling which was actually painful in its intensity. These two young men very obviously had the thing that he felt life had denied him. But he didn't feel envious of them so much as wistful.

After the meal, Alex and Ben cleared the table, and they sat round with coffee.

'So tell me about Finkle Road and Matt and Andy,' Terry asked.

Alex raised his brows. 'Do you know them at all?'

'I saw them once or twice when I was wiv Paulie before he started university, but not to talk to.'

'Well, the thing is that Andy has a stepmother. She's quite well-known, from a rich Italian-American family. She does some work for UNICEF, and there's been pretty convincing talk since Christmas that the new administration is going to appoint her US ambassador to Thailand. Andy's dad is big with the White House and he's a huge Republican donor, and it may be cynical, but I guess that may have something to do with the appointment. But there's some concern in Peacher circles that Congress may challenge her hard, even though there's a Republican majority in both houses, not so much because she's unsuitable, but because it's all a bit too cynical, to appoint a donor's wife to a tricky posting over the head of career diplomats. I was in Washington till the beginning of this month, and my sources are good, believe me.'

'So how does this tie in with what's goin' on here in England then?'

'There is a tie in, so me and Paulie think. What I'm going to tell you is something that only a few of us know, and I don't know the whole story believe me. But what I do know is mind boggling.' Ben quietly agreed. 'Little Andy Peacher came up to university incognito. No one knew who he was and that was the way he wanted it to stay. He kept out of societies and kept to himself, but at the beginning of his second year he fell head over heels for Matt... and who can blame him, eh Benny?'

Ben blushed scarlet, 'I was another one of Matt's unsolicited admirers, of which there are very many, men and women, believe me.'

Alex continued, 'Matt's quite a guy... well you've seen him.'

'He's certainly amazin' lookin'.'

'There's a lot more to him than looks, Terry, a lot more. He's one of the most...' Ben paused, a little flustered. But Alex reached across the table and took his hand gently and squeezed it.

'You'd have to be made of stone not to be moved by a guy like Matthew White, Terry. But anyway, where was I? Oh yeah. Andy and Matt fell for each other. That's quite a story in its own right, but a story for some other time. The point is that in the second semester of his second year, Andy was outed to the press in every sense of the word. They closed in on him, and you were there when it happened, so you'll remember.'

'Yeah, Finkle Road wuz like a fairground, me and me mates went down from school just to see it all. They'd talk to any fucker who claimed to know anythink about the poor bastards. A stupid little cross-eyed squit called Liam Tinsley in Year 10 strung 'em along wiv a story that he wuz one of Andy's rent boys. It got out of hand when they printed it, and he got taken into care. Liam's poor bloody parents.'

'It was even worse inside No. 25. That was when it hit rock bottom; who could forget the "Paedo-Peacher" headline? Andy had enough in the end. He did a runner to America, and left Matt behind. It was terrible, poor guy. Never seen anyone so down and depressed. That's when I got to know Paulie, and discovered that there was someone just as amazing as those two in Finkle Road.' Terry looked at Alex with further respect. To praise Paul was guaranteed to win his sympathy. 'We talked it through in those dark days, before the end of the semester and before I went home. He was quite convinced that there was far more to the whole business than appeared on the surface. But he couldn't quite put his finger on it. Well, things went from bad to worse for Andy. He transferred to an American university called Burnett, but there he fell in with the hard-drinking, drug-taking set. You'll remember the rest from the press.'

'Yeah, I do. Andy got done for drugs and killed this kid in a traffic accident. Don't know how he kept out of gaol.'

'That's the bit that not many people do know. Matt and Paul went storming across the Atlantic and it was in Burnett that Paulie put two and two together with the help of his Rachel and worked out that someone was behind it all, that it wasn't just a rich kid going to the bad, like they do. In fact Paulie already had his suspicions. It was Mrs Peacher, the stepmother. She'd blown Andy's cover in England at the university and with the tabloids. She'd driven him to the States and she set him up at Burnett, getting him into the clutches of her nephew, a nasty piece of degeneracy called Jim Rosso. She wanted to discredit Andy with his dad, to get him excluded from his inheritance so that her kids would get the money. She was working hard to get him to top himself, poor Andy. If it hadn't been for Paulie, she'd have done it too.

But Paul smoked her, found the evidence to confront her and gave it to Matt. And then Matt took her on... God, it was legendary, awesome what he did. Fought a genuine monster to save the love of his life. Only mythology could compare with it. He pulled Andy out of her claws and back to Europe, and he healed the kid, which was pretty amazing too.'

'Jeez, what a story.' Terry was entranced, this was better than any book he'd read in the school library, which hadn't had much to say about gay love affairs in any case. 'Then what's in the packet in my bag?'

'Ah well. Paulie put together a dossier of documents and tapes to prove what she'd done. That's how Matt was able to defeat her and force her to undo some of the damage she'd done to Andy. All her power is based on her marriage, and that dossier would have ended it. Richard Peacher, Andy's dad, is a good guy, Paulie says. He loves his son. After it was all over, Matt left the dossier with Paul to take care of. So it's been resting safe at Finkle Road, at least it has up till now. But it's not safe any more.'

'So Anson is after it on her behalf?' suggested Terry.

'That's what we think. Mrs Peacher wants that dossier. She wants to free herself of Matt's weapon against her, and maybe too she daren't let it be in circulation while her ambition to be a US ambassador is in the balance. The hearing will be late this spring.'

'So what we goin' to do, Alex?'

'The dossier'll have to move on, but not yet. We need to wait till Anson raids Finkle Road, which won't be too long, I'd guess. Paulie's making it easy for him. He's going out and leaving the house empty, and he's leaving his e-mail up and running when he's not there. He's seeded it with some false messages to Matt that he wants Anson to see. He's also got a couple of other tricks up his sleeve, which we'll talk about some other time. Once Anson's made his move, then we make ours.'

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