by George Gauthier

Chapter 9


Several weeks later, when all four of us were in my apartment and chatting away about inconsequential matters, I found Paolo looking at me appraisingly, then nodding to himself as if he had reached a conclusion about something which had been puzzling him.

"You know Troy, I am glad to have Will in our circle of friends, making ours even more of a diverse group, if I may call it that in a non-DEI sort of way: a cop, a grad student, an entertainer, and a body guard and sometime special forces soldier. I mean, look at Will sitting there on the couch in his shirtsleeves without his shoulder holster and reloads or the weapons concealed in his ballistic jacket, but I'll bet that he still has deadly hardware on his person. Am I right, Will?"

"You've unmasked me Paolo. So I'd better fess up. Although I shed most of my weaponry when I hung up my jacket, I still have a pocket pistol strapped to my ankle plus a push knife in my belt buckle, and the belt itself can be wielded like a flail, though I would argue that the deadliest weapon I bring with me is simply my unarmed self.

"Will is a master of krava maga," I reminded Paolo, "and from their occasional sparring, Kyle knows how good a boxer he is. Anyway, you should talk Paolo. Even sitting there in your civvies I'll bet you too have a hold-out pistol strapped to your ankle plus an off-duty pistol concealed in that fanny pack with the breakaway holster."

"You know about that, do you?"

"It was Will who spotted the fake fanny pack."

"I use one myself in casual settings." Will admitted. "If I have to guard Dyson at the beach or at a picnic, I dress for the occasion, so a shoulder holster with two reloads just won't do. And the way you wear yours Paolo, on your right hip rather around in back or in front is a giveaway, though some folks do carry their phones like that."

"Fair enough, and it's true that both our jobs require us to be ready for trouble at all times, even off-duty, just in case something goes down unexpectedly."

"Which is why Paolo was able to use his off-duty pistol last week to stop a robbery at that big cash checking place on Hobart. Though the odds were three to one, he did not hesitate to take them on alone."

"Well, I walked in on the crime scene catching them completely by surprise. One of them should have been watching their backs, but their attention was on the store owner at the customer service counter. I shot one robber before either of the other two knew I was there. That made the odds two to one. The big guy was just holding his pistol i his left hand while banging the counter top with an expandable police baton to intimidate the owner and to emphasize his demands for the weekly stash of cash. The robbers had cased the place beforehand and had discovered that the management held back about ten percent of their weekly business, stashing the cash till it went into a safe-deposit box every Friday, never to be declared for tax purposes, either business or personal."

"Yes, quite a coup," Will acknowledged. "And you didn't have to kill any of them."

"No, and I am glad of that. Though they were career criminals with a history of armed robbery they had never killed any of their victims, not so far as we know. I shot the first robber in his right shoulder, just outside the coverage of his body armor. That made him drop his pistol. I shot next guy just under his body armor, just as he turned and aimed at me. He did manage a couple of shots, but they went wild. When the big guy himself came at me with that baton raised to shatter my skull, I shot his right knee out from under him. With all three down, I collected their no pun intended."

"Paolo's off-duty pistol fires regular ball ammo," Will observed. "The guy he shot in the belly was lucky Paolo didn't get him with the hold-out revolver strapped to his ankle. Its first two rounds have snake loads."


Rounds loaded for snakes and small vermin don't fire bullets but No. 12 shot.

"Anyway the shooting board cleared me, ruling the shootings justified and the arrest a righteous bust. The DA pointed out that by not announcing myself I had given their defense lawyer an opening for a claim of self-defense. That is why he will offer to drop the charges of assault on a police officer and attempted murder for guilty pleas to armed robbery. We'll have to see if they take the deal or take their chances in court. Best guess is that take the plea bargain."

"I read that the brass have put you in for a decoration. Dressed as you were in civvies, you weren't wearing body armor though all three of them were." Kyle observed. "Which was why you had to make those difficult shots outside the areas protected by their body armor."

"So why the funny look just a moment ago Paolo?," I asked.

"It's the way you two guys were relating to each other just now, you and Will. It's something I see on the force. You act not just like good friends and lovers but like sometime comrades in arms. It got me wondering about what really happened the day of the attack at Dyson's estate and how lucky you three were, you, Will, and Dyson. You even caught a bullet, though luckily it was just a graze. Is there something you aren't telling us about that fateful day?"

Before I could say anything, Kyle stepped in.

"Whoa there, Paolo! You're forgetting what your partner Sergeant Delaney told us last year after the mysterious killings of those three robbers, that while we owe our family, friends, and lovers the truth and nothing but the truth, we do not necessarily owe them the whole truth. They might be better off not knowing, or we might. So let sleeping dogs lie."

"OK, Kyle I'll do exactly that, though I am going to mentally file this matter under the label Suspicions Confirmed."

"Gentlemen," I announced, "what we have just witnessed is the workings of an astute police officer's copply instinct for ferreting out the truth, thankfully tempered with the good sense of recognizing when he should drop the matter and keep his mouth shut."

With a big grin on his face, Paolo nodded. "Definitely Confirmed!"

On a sunny spring day a few weeks later I watched as two of my boyfriends Will Laurier and Kyle Kavanaugh sparred in a boxing ring set up on the grounds of the old mansion where Kyle and I had rental apartments. The two contestants were evenly matched physically, standing five seven and five eight respectively though they were easily told apart. Will was blond while Kyle was a ginger, an auburn haired young man. Will was slender while Kyle's build would be better described a lean but muscular.

Most of their respective physiques were on display to the delight of the mostly gay residents of our building. Of course they wore helmets and mouth guards and sneakers but were not dressed in standard baggy boxing trunks. Instead they wore clingy square-cut low-rise short-shorts without much of an inseam, so their garments were like form fitting undies. Fast and agile, with pretty good footwork the both of them, the young boxers were physical poetry in motion as they danced around the ring, throwing punches or blocking as the situation required.

Kyle was the more aggressive boxer, pressing forward to take the fight to his opponent. Will fought more defensively, recognizing that Kyle had the edge on him, mostly because he had been a middleweight champion in college. For Kyle boxing was a competitive sport he enjoyed rather than a means of personal protection. For Will, boxing was one of the two martial arts he had used both as a bodyguard and as a soldier in the Canadian special forces. In sport you can win on points, in combat only by putting your man down for the count.

Besides boxing, Will was trained in Krav Maga, the deadly hand to hand combat technique developed by the Israelis. Which meant that Will had to guard against letting his ingrained training and battle drill take over during a friendly competition.

The sun was hot that day and by the end of the fifth round both young men were tired and sweaty and getting dehydrated so they called it a day.

"Time to hit the showers, guys." I told them cheerily. "Oh and given the lateness of the hour, and the fact Will needs to get back to Dyson's estate by five pm you two really do not have time to fool around in the shower."

"Why we wouldn't think of it!" the pair asserted with an air of injured innocence.

"At least not this afternoon," Kyle added almost in a whisper, but not so softly as to defeat my extra sharp hearing. Heightened senses were only one of the bodily modifications induced by the Olympic gods of Greek mythology.

Thanks to those upgrades I am three times stronger than I would otherwise be, endowed with an explosive strength which is always a nasty surprise to my foes. I can hold my breath for six minutes, run like the wind, and jump like an Olympian (and yes, that pun was intentional).

The upgrades to my body included improved senses meaning not just the classical five but the others we don't always think of as senses such the sense of balance and the proprioceptive sense, plus echolocation like the blind use to sense objects around them.

So like Will but in my own way, even without his krav maga I am a weapon in my own right, which is one reason why I seldom go armed except for a short flail with a lead ball at the business end for protection from attacking dogs. It is sold as a key chain so is not legally barred as a concealed weapon. In truth it would be of little use against a human since its swing is so easy to block with an upraised arm. I also carry a police whistle to summon first responders at need. After I explained that to the others, Will made a suggestion.

"Since you run around in the nude half the time and next to naked the rest you cannot equip yourself with suitable weaponry. Let me suggest something that you can always have with you even when you are naked."

"I'm not sure I going to like this answer, but OK, what?"

"What else but krav maga? It's the martial art which turns you whole body into a weapon, so it's perfect for a little guy like you who goes around unarmed. It has two prime principles: avoid physical confrontation if at all possible, but if not, get aggressive and finish the fight as quickly as you can, attacking the most vulnerable parts of the human body, especially those along the center line."

"You understand, there is no holding back. Forget holds or throws or joint locks. With Krav maga you either get away or you do your utmost to permanently harm or kill your opponent. I can get you started with the basics, but you will need specialized training, otherwise you might cripple or kill your sparring partner or vice versa. It is that deadly."

"The Israelis don't fool around, do they?"

"They can't afford to. Not living in that neighborhood, they can't."

Though I usually don't go around armed, that does not mean I am not skilled with weapons, far from it. I had, after all, used Will's single sticks much as I had wielded blades centuries earlier in the arena in Rome, fighting as a gladiator with twin short swords rather than sticks.

So don't discount my skill with weapons. I may not look like much but don't be mislead by my lack of a reputation or street cred. What you don't know about me may well be my most dangerous capability, krav maga or no.


Oh no, not again! For the third time, I found myself caught out naked in a public place by Sergeant Delaney, aided as it happened for the second time by his partner and my lover Constable Paolo Franco. Oh, the irony of it.

"Oh my Gosh, Troy. What the hell happened to you?" Paolo began. "Here we find you stark naked and bound in heavy cord. Someone has tied your wrists behind your back and looped a cord around your neck to hitch your hands up to your shoulder blades. Then they worked you over good. Here, let me cut the ropes. Now let your arms dangle to get the circulation going."

"Otherwise how are you? Dumb question. I can see for myself, stark naked as you are, that you are badly beaten and bruised, and those scrapes on your hips and back tell me that you may have been thrown from of a moving car."

"I guess I must have been, but my memory of what happened to me since I got off work Friday night is hazy. I know it started with footsteps running up behind me, then I got tased, handcuffed, and shoved into a van. As we pulled away I felt needles jabbed into my butt injecting drugs to keep me tractable."

"I have no idea where the kidnappers took me. All I saw was a abandoned factory with one section more or less intact. That is where they kept me in a makeshift cell, hauling me out from time to time for beatings and rough sex. Time and again I was treated like a living punching bag, their punches repeatedly rammed into my gut. At least they never targeted my head. Sometimes for variety they tormented me with a plasma wand which crackled menacingly and which spit sparks at my bare flesh. It's like I was the star in some BDSM porno video."

"No wonder you're bleeding out of your anus. It must be from those endless mountings. As to why you wound up here, I suppose they must have finally tired of you, then dumped you in this wreck of a parking lot. Look around. It's strewn with empty pill bottles and vials and drug paraphernalia."

Sergeant Delaney, we gotta get Troy to a hospital."

"Yes, Franco, we do, and besides his health there is another reason to get him over to the hospital." Delaney noted. "Troy, once you check in, the hospital staff won't let you be questioned by the police. Not till they discharge you."

"But you're both questioning me now."

"Yes, but as your friends. From here on out, till this gets cleared up, no cop is your friend, not even us, and especially not any cop who seems friendly or helpful. If you ever listened to my advice son, listen now: Keep your mouth shut and lawyer up."

"Am I in trouble then?"

"You could be in big trouble."

"But why? Troy is the victim here, all tied up and beaten and raped. And he's my friend and yours too," Paolo wailed.

"Yes he is, but everything that has happened to him could be spun another way, be made it look like Troy was caught up in a drug deal gone bad or had a falling out with members of a drug ring. Maybe it won't be the detectives on the force but an ambitious DEA agent looking for a case to build his reputation, one who might run with."

"The worst scenario would be if the authorities suspected that his kidnapping was a hoax, another one of those fake hate crimes like that staged attack on the TV actor Jussie Smollett or the pretended rape years ago of that girl Tawana Brawley, both of them shameful bids by members of a minority for publicity and sympathy, though in this case it's a gay boy instead of a racial minority."

"How could people believe that I would lie about such a thing?"

"Because it has happened before, because sexual abuse fits your public persona as an oversexed shameless and salacious pole dancer and nude fashion model, because it would be all too easy to paint a bottom boy such as yourself as the M in a sadomasochistic relationship. You said it yourself just now. Face it Troy, you are vulnerable to such suspicions."

"All it takes is for an ambitious and unscrupulous prosecutor or maybe a detective or even a reporter to get the eight ball rolling right over you. Trust me, Troy these things happen. When I was starting out as a detective on a major case squad, I saw it send an innocent young man to prison."

"So Troy, here is what's coming up. The hospital will test your blood for the drugs in your system, assess the damage to your body, maybe even check for concussion from hitting the pavement. Oh, and they'll need to run a rape kit. Sorry, I know how embarrassing that is for a guy, but it's necessary."

"You gotta get things straight in your mind before you answer questions, and then only through your lawyer. Understand? I see from your nod that you do. So let's start our investigation with some neutral facts which I can give to the detectives so they know you are not stonewalling them entirely. Friday night is your payday, isn't it?".

"Yes it is. They must have targeted me for my paycheck which I always take in cash, though why would thieves take me captive and use me so harshly?"

"They wouldn't. Not thieves anyway. The cash was likely just a bonus for them."

"Back to the timeline. It's worse than you think, Troy. Today is Monday afternoon. They took you on Friday night shortly after one a.m., so really very early Saturday, then kept you for more than two days"

"I do remember the beatings. My captors liked to watch me writhe and twist my body away from the punches to my gut like I was a body bag in a gym though I cannot imaging why anyone would do that to a human being."

"You'd be surprised. Ask your boxer friend about it. Or check YouTube for videos of Abs training or Gut Punching."

"Seriously? That is a thing?"

"Yes, it is supposed to strengthen your abs to let you take punches to the body better."

I shook my head.

"Whatever happened to sit-ups and crunches? That's how I strengthen my abs. I certainly don't let anyone punch away at me."

"Well some folks do. I suspect there's a sexual element to it."

"I'll take that under advisement. Anyway why did they throw me away afterwards like a piece of garbage onto an empty lot strewn with trash and junk and drug paraphernalia."

"My guess, and it is only a guess, is that your kidnapping was a case of mistaken identity. Once they realized they had snatched the wrong guy they dumped you. That could explain why they left your face untouched, so that the body of their intended victim would more easily be recognized."

"Now it's a good thing Troy that you are ambulatory. We can take you over to the hospital ourselves, just us, no other cops.

"Franco, it's best if we run him over to McClellan Hospital. It's not far; it's quicker for him and for us. It's also better for the taxpayers without the hefty charge for an ambulance. On our way to McClellan call this in to Dispatch and have Crime Scene Investigation can come out here and process the scene."

"Now Troy, you gotta realize this incident makes you a three time loser. Three times now the police have found you stark naked in a public place in questionable circumstances. So you had better have a good story, but don't try to explain it yourself. Let your lawyer run interference for you with the detectives, the DA, maybe the DEA, or a judge and jury if it comes to that, but let's hope not."

"So you do believe me? That I am not a liar or a criminal."

Delaney snorted. "Son, I've known from the very first moment we met in the park that you were good people. The EMTs credit you with slowing that shooting victim's blood loss just long enough for them reach in time. As for your streaking naked that night, I put that down to hyperactive hormones, so no big deal."

"Which is why I have broken protocol and am giving you this advice. Understand that from this moment Troy, you and I and your boyfriend Franco here have to play this by the book. We cannot show favoritism or even look like we have. The brass will have to keep us off the case anyway because of our friendship. So let's start by getting formal."

"What do you mean by formal, Delaney?" I asked, still rather slow on the uptake even though the drugs were largely purged from my system.

"That's Sergeant Delaney to you from now on, young sir. Sorry, but in serious business like this the formalities must be observed. Don't you agree, Constable Franco?

"Well yes, I guess I do, I have to, for all our sakes. I am sorry Troy, but despite our closeness, I cannot show favor to anyone, not even to the boy I love. So yes, Citizen Ganymede, brace yourself since you may well be called upon to cooperate with the police investigation, to answer probing questions, come what may from it."

"Oh for crying out loud. Now I'm a suspect? Fine. I get it. We'll do it your way, formally. So here goes. I Troy Ganymede at this moment hereby invoke my right to silence under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution and my right to counsel under the Sixth. I want a lawyer. There, is that formal enough for you?"

"Careful there, Citizen." Delaney warned. "Once you invoke your right to silence you need to keep your mouth shut. Snippy remarks like your last one could well be construed as having abandoned the silence which you have invoked as your constitutional right. As your friends we can overlook it this once, but if anyone else gets gets you talking about anything at all, you may find your constitutional protections evaporating. Be careful, be silent, and wait for your lawyer."

Of course, Delany was right. He and Paolo were both looking out for me within the constraints of their duty as police officers. On the way over to the hospital Paolo asked me for the phone number of the lawyer whom our parkour group had on retainer and called him. At the emergency room I was checked out, patched up, and processed for rape, then pronounced healthy enough for discharge though still much the worse for wear.

My two cop friends then drove me over to the precinct house where I was met by my lawyer, Seth Wickersham, whose unprepossessing and rumpled appearance belied his sharp legal mind. Seth's son had been a member of our parkour club for a time before moving to Seattle. That is how we got to know him.

"Why is my client naked under that hospital gown which is about three sizes too big for him anyway?"

"That's the way we found him. He actually was totally naked and tied up, no gown in sight." Sergeant Delaney explained. "As you know counselor it is only in prison that those in custody are issued uniforms. In a local precinct house or jail, especially before arraignment, it is come as you are."

"All right sergeant. I need to speak privately with my client, so if you will, we shall need the exclusive use of this interview room, audio turned off."

"Interview Room? More like an Interrogation Room." I grumbled.

As my friends in blue filed out the door, Paolo looked back with a pained expression on his face and mouthed "Sorry!"

"Look Troy." my lawyer began "That's the precinct captain on the other side of the glass talking to Delaney. He's taking this seriously, and so should you."

I sighed. "You're right Seth. Here is me as serious as I can be. And yes, I know that Delaney and Paolo, that is Constable Franco, have done all they could for me."

"Indeed they have. Your boyfriend has gone farther than you know. He not only called me, he called Will, er what's his name, the bodyguard..."

"Laurier, Will Laurier."

"Right, Laurier."

"Constable Franco called Laurier seeking help from Franklyn Dyson. He asked Dyson to provide some high powered legal assistance, an expert in criminal law who would be willing to sit second chair to a general practitioner like myself. So that is more proof, as if you needed any, that those two boys in blue are hands down your best friends in this imbroglio."

"Let's go over what you remember, while you still remember it. OK? Recording now."

"I only wish I had a clearer picture of what happened, but the events of the last forty-eight hours are like a dream whose memory is starting to fade away."

Over the next half hour and under Wickersham's probing questions, I told my story, mostly one of disconnected episodes including one incident when my captors gloated that when they had had their fill of tormenting me they would just kill me and bury me deep, somewhere I wasn't likely to be found. It was just too bad that the ground around there was too hard to dig a hole nearby. As we finished my attorney said that he would get his investigator on this too.

"We don't want the cops bending over so far backwards not to show favoritism that you get short shrift. Now what kind of drug paraphernalia and loose pills would you suppose they found with you or rather in that lot nearby?"

"Whatever is popular these days on the drug scene. Maybe fentanyl and heroin."

"Exactly right."

"But I've never used those drugs. Won't the drug panel show that I'm clean?"

"What if it does? Even if the only drugs that show up in your blood are things like a muscle relaxant or one of the date rape drugs, that would prove little. Many dealers never touch the stuff they sell. Which is why we need to persuade the detectives that the pills they found weren't yours. It was just a coincidence that they were strewn around or perhaps disposed of there or were planted to make you look bad, or even as an element of misdirection."


"Sergeant Delaney might well be right with his speculation about mistaken identity. That would explain why you are still alive."

"But if my kidnappers were prepared to kill someone else, why not just dispose of me too?"

"I could only add my own speculation to the good sergeant's, but for one thing, the Mob does not like unsanctioned hits or hits which go astray of their target. Too many complications. Or maybe it was personal vengeance at work, and once the people who took you realized you were not their target, they let you go. You should realize that even people who contemplate murder or have actually killed someone in the past may not be basically evil. Never judge a man solely by the worst thing he ever did, even if the law often does."

So began my legal troubles for crimes of which I myself was the victim. All of which put me in mind of that observation from the lexicographer Samuel Johnson to the effect that nothing concentrates the mind like the prospect of being hanged in the morning.

Legal Beagles

As the investigation into my kidnapping proceeded Seth arranged a meeting with the attorney Franklin Dyson had set me up with.

"I hope, Seth, that this attorney who is coming over today, this Harcourt Branson, is not one of those flashy high-powered lawyers whose reputation is built on getting obviously guilty parties off scot-free. You win the case in court but lose it in the media or rather in the minds of the public. In the eyes of nearly everyone, you were really guilty but got away with your crime thanks to lawyerly tricks and legal technicalities. And their fees are so exorbitant that they leave their exonerated clients in the poor house."

"Don't worry about fees and legal costs. Dyson is picking up the tab including my fees. As for your other concerns, Dyson is a shrewd customer and took all that into consideration. Which is why he or rather his lawyers sent us Branson whom you might describe as a medium-powered attorney, meaning he is all about quiet competence but without flash or notoriety. Which is why we should partner well. I don't get much chance to shine in a trial, usually I am stuck with office work, but I am really good at presenting a case and at cross examination. I will do you proud on that score. Branson is good at building a case and at finding the holes in his opponent's."

"I think you'll like him. I've never worked with the man myself, never having traveled in such exalted legal circles, but people I trust and respect and who do know Branson, give him their unqualified endorsement. He is good people. You are in safe hands with this man, Troy."

So something was going right in my legal entanglements.

Quiet competence was the perfect description of Harcourt Branson. Soft spoken and polite though not much given to idle chit chat, the man could have been sent over from Central Casting, looking every inch the trial lawyer: professionally dressed in a dark gray suit, tall, dark, and sleekly handsome, he inspired confidence, though he disabused me right away about such surface impressions.

"I see by your demeanor Mr. Ganymede that you hope and expect me to be a combination of Perry Mason and F. Lee Bailey. Well, I am not. Despite surface appearances I am not that good at presentation or at arguing a case in court or at dealing with the press. That is why you need a legal team. The two of us, Seth and I are complementary, your attorney of record is good on his feet, I am good in my seat, so to speak. Which is why I am willing and even glad to sit second chair even though Mr. Dyson is paying me eight times what you were paying Seth here."

"Fair enough. So what are my chances?"

"Quite good with the right judge. The prosecution really has no case. It's all surmise and speculation salted with more than a touch of misplaced ambition. So our legal strategy will be to get the charges thrown out without a trial on the grounds that there is no prima facie case to answer for."

"You can really do that?"

"Watch me, or rather us, since it will be Seth's eloquence and perspicuity which will have to persuade the judge, not just the legal arguments I will marshal in my brief."

"You have to understand that our system of justice, for all its institutional strengths, is run by human beings with all the flaws we humans are prey to. There are hanging prosecutors as well as hanging judges, lying detectives, and forensics specialists who are too much the team players of the detectives they work with. Anyone, despite honesty and competence in his field, may be subject to faults like jumping to conclusions, confirmation bias, or stereotyping."

"Your history of being found by the police in public stark naked will work against you. They may think that it was the two earlier incidents which gave you the idea for the hoax. Those videos and stills of your pole dance act and those fashion photo shoots won't help either. This may be the twenty-first century, but prejudice against gays persists, which is why I don't want you testifying. No matter that you would be nicely cleaned up and dressed in a blue suit and red tie for the cameras, in their mind's eye jurors will still see you as naked, just like in your salacious pictures and even the snapshots of you standing essentially bare-ass under that hospital gown you wore to the precinct. No, in front of a jury you would be entirely too pretty for your own good."

"You make the law sound like a crap shoot."

"It can be. Look at those poor souls released after thirty years in prison for murders of which they were ultimately found innocent. The original investigators ignored leads they should have followed or relied on shaky eyewitness testimony often from a line-up, always the weakest sort of evidence. In one case an innocent man served nine years for rape after being picked out of a line-up even though he did not match the victim's initial description. Yet the guilty man was standing right there in that very same line-up, a fact only realized years later after DNA analysis. Sure, the states give exonerated prisoners settlements, but would anyone agree to go prison for thirty years even with a guarantee of ten or fifteen million dollars at the end?"

"Those TV shows exaggerate the reliability of much of what forensic techs like to call their science. Do you know how many people have been convicted because of bite mark matching, just recently barred in court as totally bogus? Same thing for FBI claims that they could identify a particular batch of ammunition from the trace metals in the bullet. Then there are the many innocents convicted of murder by arson because of burn patterns on the floor or walls, supposedly pour patterns from the use of an accelerant. But arson investigation was never a science, only an art passed down via apprenticeship from one generation to the next. It took a real scientist, a specialist in combustion physics, to prove that those "pour patterns" were evidence of flash over, a perfectly natural effect of a fire gone wholly out of control. But don't get me started."

My legal team went to work, and in a dramatic confrontation in front of a fair judge, blew the prosecution's case right out of the water. The judge dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning don't bother the courts again with this nonsense.

What made the police and the prosecutor look even worse was that a body showed up a couple of weeks later. The victim could have been my twin, a doppelgänger, some young guy tortured and killed then dumped not far from where I had been thrown from a van. Which proved that I had been snatched because of mistaken identity. It had nothing to do with drugs or a hoax or any other crime involving me, except as the victim. The murder case is on-going at this time. With the revenge motive pretty clear, the cops are trying to find out who had it in for the murdered man or boy really, only nineteen years old, poor devil, whatever he might have done to provoke his enemies.

My reunion with Kyle and Paolo and Will was everything I could have hoped for. After taking our leave from the celebratory dinner with our legal team plus Dyson and Sergeant Delaney, and even that scamp of a chamber boy Jaeden, we made love in a wild three and even four way affirmation of life and love and freedom and friendship and loyalty. Gosh, I really love these guys, and I am going hold on to them as long as I can before, alas, my agelessness forces me to move on.

It was only days later that the avatar of Hermes showed up for his monthly check on my wellbeing. The Olympians respect my privacy, but they can find me easily enough when they want to. Had I still been held captive in the deepest hole in the ground, Hermes would have found me and rescued me from my captors.

Still, those miscreants had acted against one of their proteges, and capricious and cavalier though they could be, the Olympians had no tolerance for someone who would terminate the life of a human on whom they had conferred the gift of immortality. So it came to pass that one day or rather one night, a certain isolated house in a run down section of town suddenly blew up as if from a gas explosion though the house used neither natural gas delivered by pipe nor propane gas in tanks. The arson investigators could only shake their heads and mark the explosion and fire down as of unknown origin.

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