Hamilton Gode

by Luca

Chapter 1

The bus pulled to a halt whipping up a cloud of dust from the dry dirt road. Suddenly they were in the midst of a hive of activity. People stood up, dragging baggage from the metal overhead racks, fishing out bundles from beneath seats. They pushed their way to the front, climbing out into the midday heat. Embroiled in the chaos he stood still a moment wondering if they would be left there, disembarked without their luggage. He saw Lowerstoff move to fetch his rucksack from the soute of the old yellow monster whose metal doors had been flung open and hitched up the side of the bus. He followed suite, anxious to get his own luggage and escape the turmoil.

"Hotel, mister!"

He turned as he slung the rucksack over one shoulder, narrowly missing a women wrapped up in clothing like a swaddled baby. She scowled at him before returning to retrieving a huge bundle from the entrails of the bus. Lowerstoff was standing watching, his rucksack properly on his back. Their eyes engaged, he caught his half smile.

"Let's go," Lowerstoff said, and Zachary was just as eager to make their getaway.

The kid led them down what resembled a main boulevard. Stalls lined one side of the street selling all manner of fruit and veg, but he noticed only the piles of tomatoes and melons. A policeman stood on the pavement at the corner surveying everything, his pistol holstered in a shiny black shoulder strap, his peak cap adorned with a green star and his uniform with gold braid. A stark contrast of propriety amidst the crowd of peasants for whom even those men dressed in western style wore old jackets and trousers, no socks, and more often sandals or babouches than shoes.

"You want buy something?" The kid asked as he saw him looking.

"How far to the hotel?" Zachary replied, not wanting to get side tracked. They could shop later, although they probably had all they needed for the time being.

The kid, he was no more than twelve or thirteen Zachary guessed, hurried on like he had a train to catch. Perhaps he was keen to get his reward? It wasn't far. He stopped at the door. It was a building which resembled all the others in the street, except for the sign, a taught navy blue linen hood over the doorway which at the front end read, Hotel Asilah. Behind a small dark wooden counter sat a teenager who looked up but didn't get up. The kid stayed outside looking at them expectantly. Zachary searched for a dirham in his pocket, he'd exchanged some money in Tangiers, at the airport. The kid held out his palm, but it seemed one dirham was not enough, although Zachary was not about to inflate the prices. The kid looked put out, but so what, Zachary thought. He was tired and wanted somewhere to rest out of the heat, which meant getting rid of their hotel guide.

"I take you to kasbah," the kid said, probably as a means to get a bigger tip out of them.

"Tomorrow," Zachary told him, instantly regretting saying that because he knew he would be back waiting to take them tomorrow.

Still it settled things for now. The kid smiled, a cute smile, and scampered off. The teenager had got up from his seat behind the counter and was looking at them like they were an annoyance he didn't need.

"Two dirhams a night. How long?" He said, and it made Zachary feel like slapping him. He imagined leaning over the counter, grabbing hold of his t-shirt and smacking his face. He didn't usually have violent thoughts, but the journey here had wiped him out and he felt very edgy.

Lowerstoff's voice had a calming effect. "Show us the room first," he insisted.

The youth took a key from the rack and slipped out from behind the counter. They followed him inside the hotel.

Like most houses the construction consisted of rooms arranged around a central courtyard which was open to the sky. The teenager crossed to the far side and climbed a narrow tiled staircase to the first floor. Standing aside he let them enter the bedroom. There was a single window which looked back on the corridor of the inner courtyard. A large double bed with white sheets, a washbasin, chair, and wardrobe, completed the room.

Lowerstoff, ever the practical and vigilant one, dropped his rucksack from his shoulders and turned back the sheet, examining the bed. Satisfied it was clean, he nodded.


The youth kept his unfriendly tone. He certainly was no asset for a hotel business. Zachary ignored him, he would get his comeuppance, but that was for later. They fetched up their passports and handed them over. Lowerstoff lay down on the bed, taking the far side. The room was cool, dark, a pleasant change from the heat outside, if only by a few degrees.

Zachary looked at Lowerstoff. "So, here we are."

"Yeah," he smiled back, "I guess so."

But this is not actually where this story begins. We have to go back a bit to when Zachary first met Lowerstoff and his encounter with Hamilton Gode. He was staying in the Foyer Des Jeunes Travailleurs De La Cité Des Fleurs, in Paris. Although he was not a young worker, but an eighteen year old student studying for his baccalaureate. Hence, Paris, and the foyer which also housed some students. It was convenient for Zachary because down the road, not even one hundred metres, was the annex of the ateliers of the beaux-arts where two afternoons each week he took painting classes.

In those classes was a mixed assortment of individuals, different ages, various backgrounds. As for Zachary, his background was a mystery, at least to him. I suppose you could say he didn't exist before Paris and the foyer. That was how he felt. Like someone who had had an accident and lost their memory, or come out of a coma into a new world where the past was a blank. He imagined you could look at time like a little ball spinning around the roulette wheel, jumping from slot to slot. Zachary had come to rest in Paris and what he was doing there seemed very familiar. How he arrived there, what went before, he didn't remember.

Michel Lafarge, a twenty something talented painter always dressed with a bohemian style. Meaning he was flamboyant and wore a silk neck scarf, often pink, sometimes purple, occasionally red or burgundy. He seemed to Zachary to be trapped in that part of the colour spectrum, at least concerning cravates. Michel took Zachary to Le Marais. A part of Paris renowned for its gay night life, bars, cafes, and clubs.

As a naive English boy he had yet to discover that a lot of those bars and clubs had dark rooms. What went on in those backrooms I will leave to your imagination, mostly. But I have to describe how Zachary met Hamilton Gode. It was unintentional, on his part. He wandered into the dark back room following someone who caught his attention and not knowing where he was being led to. The person disappeared from view as he stumbled through the dark room, his eyes trying to adjust. He moved on quickly when a man in leather with his erect penis poking out of tight trousers attempted to pull him into his liaison with another leather clad man who was on his knees. He was close enough to the action to make out what was going on even in the dark, besides an onlooker had lit a cigarette. He bumped into someone whilst pulling free. That someone was a shadowy tall dark figure. In his turn this new person attempted to engage with Zachary. He turned back, desperate to get out of there without being accosted by anyone else.

An arm in the dark touched Zachary and a soft voice said: "This way!"

Either he decided he trusted the voice, or he could think of no other choice, which ever it was, Zachary followed the stranger. Back in the bar proper, with lighting under which you could actually see something, he was face to face with someone about his own size. Lowerstoff had chestnut hair braided in dreadlocks hanging down to his shoulders. He was half a head taller than Zachary. Slim. Dressed in old jeans and a grubby t-shirt. Later Zachary discovered he was thin, not slim, you could see his ribs. He also learnt Lowerstoff was nineteen, seven months older than himself.

They went together to a table where an anachronistic moustached man with jet black hair was seated. He wore a sky blue jacket under which he had a plain white shirt with large lapels. On the table lay his white panama hat. Zachary noticed later, when they left the bar, he also wore white flared trousers and leather ankle boots. This was Hamilton Gode. A figure straight from the sixties, flower power and hippies, love and peace. Only there was something incongruous, because he ported a holster on a leather strap across his shoulder. In that holster was a big gun. A Magnum 357. Zachary knew nothing about guns, but it was big.

Lowerstoff and he laughed about that later.

When they left the bar it was in Hamilton's 1930s Cadillac. White walled tyres, the spare hitched on the side, the roar of the V6 engine under the long hood. A sleek powerful machine. They tore along the highway through the night, heading south. Hamilton took them to Nice.

Zachary never sat his exam. He left a puzzled Michel Lafarge behind. Whether he missed him, Zachary was not sure, he never felt he knew him that well.

"How do you know this guy?" Zachary asked Lowerstoff when Hamilton had stopped to fill up the Cadillac. It guzzled fuel like a dying man drinking water in the dessert. In its time it was super fast. Today... it wouldn't be fair to draw that comparison. As Zachary thought about it he wasn't at all sure where they were today, he didn't know if this was 1975 or 1990, or somewhere else. That sounds crazy, but that's how it was. This was a road trip through time, with other revelations.

"He made me," Lowerstoff replied.

"Made you?" Zachary stared at him.

Lowerstoff triggered feelings in Zachary which meant it hardly mattered what he was saying. He didn't need to understand him or where he came from, or how they got here. Well, he knew how they got here. They hit one hundred on a long straight stretch of road after they left Paris. The old car bombed it. What a thrill.

It was that precise moment as the needle on the speedometer jittered around one hundred that Lowerstoff's hand landed on his leg and squeezed it. Wow! Zachary was instantly hard. He fell in love with him right away, or so he felt and told himself. That may sound dumb and unbelievable, but there is at lot going on here which is not easy to understand. If we started with Zachary's memory loss it was probably because he blanked out completely some earlier trauma. If you want to understand how he could instantly fall in love with someone he just met, the only answer there might be emotions and hormones.

"I'm not real," Lowerstoff said. "He made me." He nodded towards Hamilton.

"You're screwing with my head!"

"Okay. Forget what I said. I just happened to move into the same foyer as you. I followed you and that other nerdy guy."

"You followed Michel?"

"Is that his name?"

Zachary nodded.

"Hamilton told him to bring you. You didn't know that, I guess."

"Lowerstoff! What sort of a name is that?" Zachary was annoyed.

Lowerstoff batted his eyelids and broke into a smile. "It's my name."

And Zachary forgave him. He wielded this magical attraction for him. He was drawn to him like a magnet. Did Lowerstoff know that, Zachary wondered? Perhaps not from the outset, but after the leg squeeze moment cramped together in the Cadillac, he knew.

"Do I know Hamilton?" Zachary asked Lowerstoff, whilst they were alone.

Lowerstoff looked at him. "Maybe. How should I know. Does it matter?"

"What does he want? Why are we going to Nice?"

"What he wants, I don't know. He's an anti-hero. Why are we going to Nice? He offered, you said yes. Simple?"

Lowerstoff could be irritating, but he was right. It niggled away at Zachary's brain that he had seen Hamilton Gode somewhere before. It was there, buried in his memory. The memory he still had. He just couldn't bring it to the front, but he'd get it, some time.

Lowerstoff interrupted his musings. "Morally, he's corrupt. He lacks courage and has no heroic qualities."

"How do you know all this?"

"I've been around."

"Around?" Zachary repeated, wondering what that meant.


Hamilton had finished refuelling, he paid the garagist, and tipped him. Zachary watched as the guy dressed in oil splattered, no longer white, one piece overalls, touched his cap and stuffed the rag he was carrying into one of the deep pockets. He focused on the petrol pumps crowned with a yellow shell. It did not seem quite right. It was from a certain epoch, but not this one he thought. A jingle played in his head: "Keep going well, keep going Shell, you can be sure of Shell, Shell, Shell."

It was 1962!

No, not possible. In '62 he would have been seven years old.

The car pulled away, leaving the garage behind, and a strange impression.

"We'll stop overnight," Hamilton announced.

The hotel was in keeping with Hamilton Gode. Not the same epoch as his clothes, nor his Cadillac, but definitely elegant. Expensive, no doubt, but it wasn't Zachary paying the bill. Lowerstoff and he were sharing a room, it had one enormous bed and a spa tub. Certainly, Zachary wasn't complaining and by the expression on Low's face, neither was he. Plush red carpets, a red leather sofa, full length (red) drapes. Yep, the theme was red. He couldn't help wondering about the clash of colour with Hamilton's sky blue jacket, but maybe the suite he was in had a different theme. Somehow he doubted that.

It was that evening he noticed how thin, rather than slim, Lowerstoff was. He wasted no time in filling the spa, pouring in whatever was in the bottles on the side shelf. Soon it was practically overflowing in a foam of soapy bubbles. He watched Lowerstoff's arse disappear into the foam. An unavoidable glimpse as he ran naked across the room.

There was a tap on the door. "Room service!" Announced the young man in his neat black uniform. He left the tray on the side of the tub. A bottle of Moet & Chandon. Not the most expensive, but definitely around a hundred dollars the bottle. There were snacks as well.

Zachary looked at Lowerstoff, his mouth open. "You ordered this?"

"Man," Lowerstoff grinned, reaching for the bottle, "you gota profit from life a bit."

Zachary was drawn towards that spirit of having a good time, but he couldn't help thinking about everything that was going on here. Not with Lowerstoff, he was an open book. With Hamilton Gode.

"Get in here, will you?" Lowerstoff was holding up a glass.

He didn't need any more persuading. Since the leg squeeze he'd been keen, more than keen, to get it on with Lowerstoff. Zachary was not a shy guy. His body was nothing special, no six pack, but not bad. He treated Lowerstoff to a striptease. Who watched, sipping his glass of expensive bubbly in his bubble tub. Then Zachary was in there beside him. Lowerstoff passed him a glass.

"You happy how this turned out?" Lowerstoff sounded sure of himself.

"I guess," was Zachary's short reply.

Lowerstoff put his glass down and hit a button that turned on the jets. Leaning across Zachary his roving hand found the inside of his thigh.

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