Anal with the Night Visitor

by Nico Grey

With most sincere apologies to Gian Carlo Menotti for the atrocity I performed on the title of his wonderful Christmas opera. The story idea occurred to me. It came together rather quickly. For a brief moment the title seemed like a clever idea. And then it was too late. There was no turning back. But I really am sorry.

Amidst the fading light, a fine snow was drifting down from the leaden sky. After weeks of consumer-driven frenzy, peace was slowly returning to the streets and sidewalks of small cities and towns all over upstate New York.

With little conscious awareness of what he was doing, Robbie took in the sights and sounds of Schenectady through the sliding doors that opened onto the balcony of the third-story apartment that he occupied. There was really nothing else for him to do.

That it was Christmas Eve held little particular interest for Robbie. That the next day would be his birthday was of no more interest, save for painful reminders of his tragic past and of his dismal present.

Idly, he wondered if he might get a page from Psycho Mike, notifying him that he should expect company. 'A pager', Robbie sneered. Mike was so Twentieth Century with his low tech approach to business. He wondered whether there were any paging services left outside backwaters like Schenectady.

But Robbie would never tell him that to his face. Mike had earned his nickname honestly. Robbie knew by now that there was nothing to gain from poking a rabid bear. The physical pain from reminders of that lesson wasn't there any longer, but Robbie could still remember how it felt. He would always remember that.

And, Robbie reminded himself as he watched the dusting of snow, there were at least some benefit to keeping Mike happy. The apartment he lived in was one of them. It was fairly modern and spacious. There was an open concept kitchen and living space, a large and comfortable bedroom, a spare room for special occasions, and a huge bathroom with both shower and Jacuzzi. That shower was big enough to hold a party of four!

Robbie wasn't often prone to introspection. It hurt too much. And really, he told himself, there wasn't any point to thinking about the past. It was too late to change anything. Robbie wasn't even sure that it would have been possible to change anything had he known at the time what the future held in store for him.

For the moment, Robbie understood, he had food and shelter. Those basic needs were met. And he was fairly safe, especially if he kept Mike happy. He was better off than he had been at previous times in his life. Whatever it was costing him to stay fed, warm and safe, that cost wasn't as great as the consequences could be if that basic security was taken from him.

His life had started out ordinarily enough, Robbie supposed. He was born in a small town in southeastern Vermont, the only child of young, working-class parents. Viewed from outside their home, his family probably looked like any other starter family in the community. What happened inside the home was what made his existence unique among his peers.

Robbie's father was a religious man, but not a man of religious conviction. He probably clung to his religion because he was a drunk who exercised cruelty to control the people around him; especially his family. The religion was a veneer that allowed him to claim righteousness, at least to himself. The cruelty was a product of a large, powerful man with few moral inhibitions. He was cruel because he could be cruel. He was a drunk because drinking made it easier for him to avoid any normal human impulse toward self-examination.

Robbie learned quite young, long before he met Psycho Mike, that it wasn't a good idea to provoke rabid bears. When he forgot, he was brutally reminded. Best practice was to say nothing unless spoken to, to be agreeable when the bear growled, and to never do anything that past experience told him might irritate bears.

Robbie's mother had learned the same lesson. She learned it too late to save herself, and far too late to help her son. She was married right out of high school. Robbie was already on his way more than a month before the night of her Senior Prom. It was some months after her enormous husband playfully carried her over the threshold to her new home, that she came to understand that she was living in a bear's den.

At least the man held a good job. It provided well enough to keep a roof over the young family's head, food on their table, to keep his Ford Ranger running, and to keep up with his bar bills. There wasn't much left for anything else. But really, anything else wasn't that important.

Robbie came to understand that important lesson one Christmas morning, eleven years previous, on the day of his fifth birthday. His mother had started working part time when Robbie was two. She brought home a modest income that her husband was pleased to use to augment his bar budget and to purchase scratch tickets. He had a plan for a brighter future.

Robbie's mother thought that her income gave her license to provide something special for her son's Christmas and fifth birthday. Boy was she wrong!

Robbie was thrilled to see that the new bicycle with training wheels under the Christmas tree had his name on it! He had never owned anything that special in his life! His mother's heart was filled with joy and love to see her little boy's face light up with so much excitement!

Robbie's father was perplexed. He knew that he had a few drinks the night before, but had no recollection of anything that might account for the item under his Christmas tree. He resolved to get to the bottom of the situation.

Once Robbie's father heard the full story, his wife was made to understand the error of her ways. If she continued to waste his money on such frivolities, they were never going to hit the lottery and live happily ever after. Besides, he pointed our reasonably, there was no way Robbie could use that new bicycle with eighteen inches of snow on the ground.

Reasonable arguments were ignored. Pleas to his love for his son fell on deaf ears. Muted defiance didn't help either. The beatings were savage. But it was a special time. It was the holidays.

In the end, Robbie was allowed to keep the new bike, but mostly because his frugal mother had purchased it on sale and the store refused to accept the return of sale items. It hurt his mother's heart to see that after all the trauma surrounding the bicycle, Robbie never had the enthusiasm to really enjoy it.

The following September, Robbie started school. It gave him the opportunity to meet different types of people. He made friends and was actually somewhat popular. Perhaps part of the reason why was that, despite his painful and emotionally neglected upbringing, Robbie was a boy of rare physical beauty. Perhaps part of the reason was his persistent desire to please people and to avoid provoking bears.

As he grew older, Robbie began to see the possibility for a better future. He was a very bright boy. But he was still capable of being a slow learner.

Robbie's father rarely showed any interest in him. But his father's church made sure that members were aware of the terrible revolution brewing in public education. They were actually teaching young children about their bodies and about sex! In public schools! Satanic, it was!

In first and second grade, Robbie had been exposed to some basic education about his body, about what was private, and how to avoid bad people. His father protested to the school board, but the objection wasn't too serious and the school board avoided making an issue of the matter.

Robbie understood the basics of human reproduction by the time he was in third grade. His father continued to question him assiduously about what he was learning in his health education classes. The teachers told their classes that this was science and hinted that their parents really didn't need to know all the details about basic elements of their education.

In fifth grade the sex education became a bit more comprehensive. Robbie learned the basics about sexual acts and that there were more ways to have sex than just the way his father and mother did it. He wondered if he should tell them about it. But his teacher, Ms. Coven- Yes! That was really her name!- assured him that it was just basic biology. And biology was another type of science. Parents really shouldn't be bothered about the details of basic classroom education.

Ms. Coven wondered if any of her students had started to think about doing sexual things. After all, they were all ten or eleven years old. It was natural that at least one or two of them had started having those sorts of thoughts. She asked the class if any of them knew whether they were more attracted to people of their own sex or to people of the opposite sex.

Robbie was confused by the question. Ms. Coven clarified. She wondered if Robbie thought girls or boys were nicer. Well, David played with Robbie on the playground every day and Mark always offered to share his lunch with Robbie, so of course he thought they were nice!

Ms. Coven was intrigued and just a little bit excited. She thought Robbie, with his vibrant green eyes, auburn hair, and beautiful smile might be a good candidate for a club she was forming. But Robbie didn't need his parents' permission to join. In fact, it wasn't even about school, so there was no need to bother them about it at all! Ms. Coven would meet with Robbie and four other boys and girls in the class during recess, lunch breaks, and briefly at the end of the school day. It would be their own special thing!

Sometimes Ms. Coven's club even met away from school, if it could be quietly arranged. The entire club couldn't always gather for those meetings, but sometimes they even met at Ms. Coven's home! It was a very special club.

Ms. Coven taught the club even more about sex and their bodies, because they were an advanced class. Robbie learned about things that made his body feel nice- and he learned that he could even do them alone at home, if nobody else was around. He learned that it was okay to think other boys were nice, and that it was even okay to make them feel nice, or to let them make him feel nice! There was even one boy in class who discovered, with Ms. Coven's help, that he was really a girl. It was a whole new world for Robbie and the other members of the club!

When he moved on to sixth grade, Robbie really missed Ms. Coven. But she told him that they would stay in touch with each other. His sixth grade teacher, Mr. Temple, would continue to have club meetings. Sometimes his club would also have meetings with Ms. Coven's new fifth grade club. And she encouraged Robbie to continue to journal about his feelings and to share his journal with Mr. Temple, or even with her. Robbie was very relieved that nothing would really change. He was still special. And he and his special friends would continue their educational journey with the guidance of their teachers. There would now be two people in Robbie's life that really cared about him!

If Robbie had cleaved to his childhood training in pessimism, he might have seen the train coming... or at least heard it approaching in the distance. But he had discovered that his life was full of wonderful, caring people who were much more capable of teaching him how to be a happy person than he could be at home. He had started to believe the message a little too much. He learned that the hard way when he carelessly left his journal open on the small wooden table in his bedroom where he did his homework. His father rarely took much interest in Robbie's schoolwork, but he certainly took an interest in that journal!

"What does this mean?" he demanded of Robbie. "That you really love Mark?"

Well of course Robbie loved Mark. Mark was still sharing his lunch with Robbie. Why wouldn't he like him? So he said so.

The resulting explosion may have been heard across the Connecticut River in New Hampshire! His father pressed Robbie with even harsher and more demanding questions.

He had been startled and flustered by his father's sudden vehemence. Otherwise, Robbie might have distracted and deflected successfully be relying on his club training. But he didn't. Robbie spilled the beans. In fact, he spilled them all over the place. It was quite a mess!

Bureaucracies are quite experienced at defending themselves, so Robbie's father didn't get much satisfaction when he approached the school principal or the school district's superintendent. He didn't even get much satisfaction from the school board beyond a promise to 'look into the matter' and a remark, surely not intended to be overheard, that someone on the board hoped 'never to hear from that whacko again'.

So Robbie's father did the only thing that a sober Christian- still somewhat afflicted by a hangover from social activities the previous evening- could do. He removed Robbie from school, "effective last week"! From that moment on, Robbie would be homeschooled.

Robbie's mother did her best. She loved her son. She did everything she could do for him in very difficult circumstances. School was different for Robbie, but he discovered that he could still love learning. He missed the special club, but had come to understand that bears really don't like exclusive groups. Apparently those groups weren't very democratic- or maybe it was just that they were pinko commies, or something. It was a disappointing realization for him.

The problem, as is often the case in complex organizations, was with the bureaucracy. In his new school, Robbie's teacher really did have his best interest at heart. She was a loving and caring teacher. It was management that created the problems.

Robbie's father was a micromanager, the sort of supervisor that any capable subordinate detests. He checked every day on the lesson plans Robbie's mother prepared. He examined any written work that Robbie did each day. And since he knew he was a great motivator, he often insisted on delivering motivational speeches.

Sometimes those motivational speeches were a bit harsh, but the boy got the message! It cut Robbie straight to the bone whenever his father insisted that no son of his could be a 'dirty faggot'. The belt that Robbie's father often relied on for motivation cut even deeper. It left emotional and physical scars.

Robbie began to suspect that he and his father would never be able to live together in peace unless Robbie became precisely the sort of person that his father demanded that he be. Robbie wasn't sure that was possible. Worse, he was starting to believe that he no longer wanted to try.

By the following Spring, Robbie had made up his mind. He still recalled how supportive Ms. Coven and Mr. Temple had been of him becoming whoever he wanted to be, even if he still wasn't entirely sure of who that person was. He was sure that living with either of them would be a far better existence than constantly trying to appease a bear, while living in incessant fear of failure. He gathered a small collection of clothes and personal belonging in his backpack. He left a note in his sock drawer, where he knew his mother would find it. He told her that he loved her.

Robbie waited for a Friday evening, when he knew that the bear would be away at a watering hole. Then he left.

When Robbie showed up at the door of Ms. Coven's home the following day, she was horrified! She had almost lost her job over the private social group she had formed with her students, and now one of them was here at her front door, apparently having run away from his home!

Looking up and down her street in both directions, she cautiously gestured for him to enter. The news from Robbie confirmed her worst fears. She could feel her breakfast rising in her stomach.

Robbie recognized Ms. Coven's reluctance and became agitated. She tried to calm him down. Finally, in desperation, she called Mr. Temple.

He took the news only slightly better than she had, and probably only because Robbie wasn't sitting in his kitchen. Speaking in hushed tones, they both agreed that they couldn't become involved in the situation. Ideas were exchanged. A plan was hatched.

It would be best for Robbie if he didn't return to his father's home. It would be risky for Ms. Coven and Mr. Temple if social workers became involved. After all, who knows what a desperate boy might say? Robbie should leave the state. For his own good.

Ms. Coven discussed with Robbie the virtues of starting over in another state. She suggested California, but Robbie had been a good enough student of geography to understand the difficulty in relocating that far away. So she turned the discussion to neighboring states. She knew of some places, even knew some people, who might help him start over there.

Robbie agreed that he wouldn't mind living in New York. Ms. Coven gave him two hundred dollars, certain that Mr. Temple would help cover the expense. She sent him on his way with a few verbal instructions on how to get to a safe place. She was convinced that she had done her best for the boy.

At twelve-and-a-half years of age, Robbie found himself in New York's capital district. He hadn't had much trouble getting rides across Vermont and decided to take his chances in Albany, rather than seek rides south to New York City. The idea of life in that vast metropolis frightened him.

Life in the Albany area was certainly much less expensive than life in the Big Apple. Making connections with the people Ms. Coven knew in that area had proved horribly confusing. He found himself alone in a much larger city than any he had ever seen before. By September, Robbie's two hundred dollars was long gone, and he was living on theft and other petty crimes. He wasn't living well.

Robbie often went without food and was living rough. He knew that the weather was already turning colder and would get a lot worse in the months ahead. He was running out of ideas.

Robbie wasn't the same beautiful boy that had charmed his schoolmates and teachers back in Vermont. But when he ran across Robbie sleeping under a pile of cardboard in a back alley behind the local bus terminal, Psycho Mike recognized a diamond in the rough. A few weeks of proper food, some expense for clothes and personal grooming, and with the right training... well, Mike could see Robbie becoming the centerpiece of his budding sexual services empire!

Like Robbie's father, Psycho Mike dreamed big.

Not fully understanding Mike's proposal, but understanding full well that he had few options, Robbie agreed to go with Mike. The guy was offering a job and Robbie needed money. After almost four months of living on the streets in the Tri-City Area, that job offer was enough.

In the coming months, Robbie learned that there were a lot of things that his teachers hadn't understood about human sexuality. It wasn't just about liking somebody because they shared their lunch. You could actually work in the field and get paid for it! Precisely what you had to do to get paid, Robbie learned over that few months of training.

The work wasn't all bad. Employees were fed, clothed and housed. And it could pay pretty well sometimes. But who really wanted to do any of those things that people were willing to pay for?

Dropping your pants in an alley and letting some stranger feel you up was weird. BJs had sounded like a fun idea, really kind of playful, until Robbie actually had to give one. It was a revelation.

He preferred it when the strangers wanted to give him a BJ, but it was still an unsettling experience. There were times when he wondered if having a little money in his pocket was worth the work.

Fortunately for Robbie's commitment to his new profession, Psycho Mike was a skilled motivator. He was a better motivator than even Robbie's father!

In time, Mike had introduced Robbie to more advanced work. That really was weird! Often it was painful. And sometimes it could be downright frightening for a boy who was barely thirteen.

But that, Mike explained, was what really paid the bills. Once there was adequate demand for his services, Robbie would have his own apartment where he could entertain customers, sometimes for a full night! It would be safer than doing it on the streets. Mike even had a friend who lived in the building and would settle any customer relations problems. He liked to play baseball.

Robbie's income would increase from hustling to find customers for twenty dollar encounters, to more than a hundred dollars for an hour session, or even hundreds of dollars for a full night. Robbie would be making lots of money, even after Mike deducted his commission and expenses for Robbie's apartment, security, food, clothing and other 'overhead'. Mike really understood the business lingo.

All Robbie had to do was let his hot little ass do the work for him. Stay home in his apartment. Wait for word from Mike about his next job. Make sure that he was clean and dressed nicely when the customers arrived. Be polite with customers. Take them to the bedroom, take his clothes off, and bend over for their pleasure. It wasn't hard. And with that ass, Robbie was a natural!

Almost three years later, Robbie had learned how to live with the job. Mike really was an outstanding motivator. Robbie had progressed just as well as Mike had predicted he would. He was pretty much at the peak of his profession in the Capital District.

He still didn't love the work. But he got to meet new people almost every day! All he had to do was be reasonably pleasant, take off his clothes, do what the customer expected, and hope that the customer wasn't the sort of to go off script and press for more than just the physical pleasure he had paid for.

After Robbie's probationary period, and once he had started to produce a steady stream of income, Mike had set him up in his own apartment as promised. He preferred to conduct most of their business at arm's length.

Mike would solicit business, he would page Robbie to let him know that a customer was coming and when, along with a brief, coded description of the services the customer would expect.

Robbie would make sure he was clean and dressed to any standard the customer had specified before the appointed hour. When his doorbell rang, he would open the door with a friendly smile and provide the services that had been agreed to. The customer would enjoy himself, then leave once the services were provided or the allotted time had expired.

The apartment building manager, a man named Ramon, would check in with Robbie once or twice each week to see if there was anything he needed and would convey any messages to or from Mike. He was usually available to step in if Robbie had trouble with difficult customers, but occasionally his baseball team had to travel for away games. His bat was much in demand!

A maid service cleaned the apartment three times each week.

Every few months, whenever Robbie wanted any sum of money greater than Mike was willing to entrust to Ramon, Mike would meet Robbie at the bank and they would withdraw money from the account that Mike had set up to hold the commissions from Robbie's work. Robbie was always pleased to see that the money in the account kept growing at something approaching the pace he anticipated, based on the number of customers he was seeing. In that regard at least, Psycho Mike treated Robbie well.

Any other times that Mike met with Robbie were unexpected and extremely unpleasant. Robbie preferred to keep that bear happy, so he did his job, paid close attention to the rules, and never complained or gave cause for complaint. He finally had the system down and it was working adequately for him.

It wasn't a bad life. Or at least Robbie had known worse lives. He had food. He had shelter. He was safe... as long as he didn't upset any bears. But he was also beginning to feel that he didn't have a real life.

The word for what he had, Robbie decided, was 'existence'. He didn't have a life, he just existed. He was starting to want more. But he was very careful that the bear didn't hear even a whisper of his dissatisfaction.

The faint glow of the sun through the clouds was rapidly fading in the west. Snow still fell, but wasn't visible any longer. Robbie continued to gaze out the glass doors without really seeing anything.

He still had no alerts on his pager. That felt like a good thing. Robbie didn't have many days without at least one customer; he often had three or four in a day. But he really hoped that he might have this Christmas Eve and the holiday to himself. It would be nice to turn sixteen without a dick stuffed up his ass.

The previous Christmas Eve, Robbie recalled, had been a weird experience. He had survived a few sketchy encounters, even some dangerous ones over the past few years. But Robbie still regarded that Christmas as his most bizarre experience.

Robbie had received the usual page with a code to pay special attention to pleasing the customer. His door buzzer rang ninety minutes later and a man entered the apartment followed by his fourteen-year-old son. The son had apparently come out as gay at school, the news had somehow reached home, and the supportive father thought the right thing to do would be to treat his son to his first ass for Christmas.

By that time, Robbie had decided that he was no longer entirely sure that he was gay; only that work in the field was mostly tolerable and the pay was good enough. But that boy! Robbie thought he would really enjoy letting that boy have his way with him. It was a twisted sort of awakening.

The boy was good looking and quite likable. His lack of experience was the difficulty. Dad knew what his boy should want, but junior wasn't into the scene so much yet- maybe because dad was there.

Robbie did his best for the boy. He climaxed, said he had enjoyed it, but Robbie saw that his gaze was constantly coming back to his pile of clothing. The boy was done and eager to leave.

That might have been the end of a brief sexual encounter, made a bit disappointing by Robbie's desire for it to continue. But at least it was easy money... until dad decided that since they had bought Robbie's ass for the night, if junior was done using it he might just have a go or two.

Robbie recalled Mike's page directing him to keep this customer happy. But he also knew that the standard contract didn't require him to share his services with anyone who accompanied the customer. Mike might actually be upset if he did let the guy.

Robbie explained the difficulty to the man. The boy kept glancing at his watch. And the man finally persuaded Robbie to bend the rules a bit. Five hundred dollars can be very persuasive, even to someone as rules-conscious as Robbie was. Robbie just hoped that word never got back to Mike.

So the man made the most of his purchase for the next twelve hours. He brought his son to experience his homosexual maiden voyage, but the man might have experienced his own epiphany. And that's how Robbie had turned fifteen with a dick up his ass, while the man's fourteen-year-old son looked on with increasingly visible discomfort.

When father and son left the following morning, after 'just one more for the road', Robbie tried to make it up to the boy by telling him how much he had enjoyed sharing that first experience with him. But when he went in to hug and kiss him, the boy pulled away and started dragging his father toward the door. It was an experience that Robbie would never forget, and might never fully understand. The sex with father and son hadn't been too complicated. But Robbie's emotions regarding the event were indecipherable!

The darkness was now full outside the glass balcony doors. The haze of city lights illuminated the night, but Robbie's sense of isolation was palpable. It was Christmas Eve and he was alone in the world. It wasn't a bad feeling, when he considered some alternatives. But he couldn't escape the sense that he was disengaged from life and missing out on something vitally important.

He thought it odd that of all the physically intimate sexual encounters he had experienced over the past three years, it was his failure to satisfy the emotional needs of that boy last Christmas Eve that mattered most to him. He had a brief opportunity for an emotional connection that felt more real than all the steamy flesh-on-flesh, flesh-inside-flesh physical encounters of his lifetime. But that connection hadn't materialized. It was strange to Robbie how much that failure mattered to him now.

Time might bring another such opportunity his way. But he understood also that time wasn't particularly on his side. Guys in his profession got old fast. No one in his trade retired with a gold watch at sixty-five. If he was lucky, he might still find decent work for another five or six years, but he knew he was already past his prime for the customers he served.

Mike had even started to make remarks suggesting he was no longer as desirable as he once had been, hinting that maybe he deserved a bigger commission because he was working so hard to find customers for Robbie. Sometimes the remarks went beyond suggestions. When particularly annoyed with Robbie during a recent encounter, Mike had even remarked that some societies used to castrate youth to preserve their beauty. The pointed look Mike had directed his way still came back to haunt Robbie at odd moments.

Robbie shook himself back to full wakefulness and realized that more time had passed. There were fewer light illuminating the night in Schenectady. Christmas was drawing near.

Robbie checked his pager. There were definitely no messages from Mike. His watch read 10:35. Robbie considered it unlikely now that he would be working that night... and hopefully not the following day.

He stood before the balcony doors and gazed out into the night. Overhead he noticed a bright light. It was probably a star, the light constant and remaining fixed in the same location in the sky. It must be a bright star, Robbie concluded, for its light to be penetrating the overcast and clouds in the sky so clearly.

Watching the star, Robbie found himself wishing that he could find a way to make things right for that boy from last Christmas. He found himself wishing that he could find some way to make his own life more full of meaning and his existence more real.

He continued to gaze at the star, his eyes becoming increasingly unfocused as his forehead rested against the glass. Without thought, he reached into a pocket for a hair tie, pulled his shoulder-length auburn hair together behind his head, and tied it back in a pony tail. He wouldn't be working this evening.

His door buzzer sounded. With a start, Robbie pulled his forehead away from the cold glass and tried to focus. The chill had penetrated into his skull.

Who could be at his doorbell at this hour? It might already be past midnight. Robbie never received visitors, except for Mike or Ramon, who weren't paying customers. He checked his pager briefly to see if he had missed a notification, but there was no message. It wouldn't be Mike or Ramon at the door unless there was some sort of emergency. Robbie didn't know what he should do.

Caution told him that he shouldn't answer the door. He had no reason to be expecting a visitor.

Caution also told him that he should answer the door. If it was Psycho Mike buzzing, it wouldn't do for the door to remain closed until he started pounding on it and screaming.

Caution won out over caution. Robbie stumbled slowly across the living room carpet and carefully swung open the apartment door.

A man stood outside the door, a pleasant and expectant expression on his face. At a glance, he appeared to be about thirty years old, of average height and slender build. His medium brown hair hung past his shoulders and a carelessly groomed beard graced his face. He didn't wear a coat, Robbie noticed, and his beige shirt was made of some rough fabric, had a loose opening for the man's head, and hung down well past mid-thigh. He didn't look at all like anyone Robbie had even seen as a customer.

The man smiled gently. "Robbie Bryant?" he inquired.

Robbie nodded dumbly. He didn't think anyone in Schenectady knew his last name, not even Mike, but there was no point in denying who he was.

The man's benign smile glowed gently as he entered the apartment. "I have come this day to fill you with my love," he announced.

Inwardly, Robbie smiled cynically. He had heard such boasts before. He shook his head. There hadn't been a page, but this must be a customer.

He paused a moment in confusion. Without Mike's page he had no idea what services the man had purchased. But he had said he had come to fill Robbie with his love, so Robbie could make a reasonable guess that it was his customary order. It certainly wasn't uncharted territory for Robbie, so he nodded and headed toward his bedroom with a 'follow me' gesture.

Robbie didn't understand why, but even without direction from Mike, he felt no need to enter into negotiation with this customer. He didn't even feel the need to inquire about how the man preferred to start their encounter. He began peeling off his clothes, remembered to pull the tie out of his hair, and lay face-down on his bed.

The man began to knead Robbie's shoulders, his touch firm but comforting. The man took his time to thoroughly work each muscle pair before proceeding lower, and Robbie relaxed under his touch in a way he had never experienced with another customer. A peculiar sense of rejuvenation filled Robbie's body.

The man carefully massaged the muscles of Robbie's lower back, the feeling of his work-roughened fingers on smooth skin even more stimulating to Robbie than the pressure that was working and relaxing the muscles beneath his skin.

By the time the man had finished slowly kneading Robbie's glutes- up and down, back and forth- the firm, consistent pressure left Robbie in a near-trance. He was only dimly aware as the man stepped between his legs and began to caress the insides of his thighs. Then he filled Robbie with his love.

Nothing made sense to Robbie. He felt sensations surging through his body, many familiar, but nothing he could connect to a narrative that seemed real. These feelings would normally originate from physical senses, but Robbie could never recall any physical contact, beyond the massage, that would rationally explain the things he felt.

Some sensations, he assumed, came from contact with the man. In his mind, others appeared to originate from contact with an older man, some from women, even girls. For a time he was in the arms of that boy from the previous Christmas- Brandon! That had been his name. Brandon!- their gentle kisses and frotting drove him to ecstasy. The sensations of holding Brandon and being held by him brought Robbie to joyful tears.

Often Robbie became so wrapped up in the intense physical sensations and pleasure he was experiencing that he completely lost awareness of his surroundings. At other times he was engulfed in waves of such intense emotion that he completely lost touch with himself and simply became the feeling. The physical stimulation was intense, but it was the sense of tranquility and peace, of happiness and fullness, overwhelming him emotionally that was most powerful.

With every nerve in his body wracked with pleasure, his emotions amplified almost beyond his control, Robbie arched his back, released, and fell into a deep, peaceful slumber.

Several hours later, Robbie woke gradually. He could sense the quiet around him and recognized that he was in his bed, a blanket covering him, and that there was some sort of dim light still on in his apartment. He shifted his body slightly and felt another behind him.

Turning his head slowly, Robbie could make out the long, medium brown hair of his visitor. He felt the man's strong arms now, wrapped tenderly around his chest and stomach. The man was spooned gently against Robbie's back. His breath was soothing and warm against the nape of Robbie's neck.

The man leaned forward and his lips brushed the side of Robbie's face. "Love is man's greatest gift, Robbie. And it is your greatest strength," he whispered. Gradually, they both returned to sleep.

When Robbie woke again, daylight was starting to fill his apartment. He realized that he had been called from sleep by a familiar rapping on his door. That pattern would only be Ramon.

Robbie was amazed at how good his body felt. His mind was still slightly disoriented from sleep.

He floated across the carpet, hesitated a moment, then opened the door. As expected, Ramon stood outside his apartment with his hand raised to repeat his coded signal. He looked at Robbie with mild surprise, glanced cautiously back to his left and right, and asked if it might be better if he came in.

Ramon's eyes barely left Robbie's face.

"A man called me this morning, Robbie. He said he was a lawyer," the word left a slightly sour expression on Ramon's face. "He says that Mike is in trouble. Big trouble. At the police station."

Robbie gazed back at Ramon with a perplexed frown. "What do we do?"

"We do nothing, Robbie. The man just says that Mike was taken by the police early yesterday. He will not contact you for some time. He does not know how long." Ramon paused to gather his thoughts. "You will have no... guests... for a while, Robbie. I am sorry. You will stay here. The lease is paid for many months. But the maid is paid when she works. Without Mike's money, she will not come."

Ramon glanced around, as if uncertain how long a boy could go without a maid.

"If you need money for food, Robbie, I will help. But Mike pays for big expenses. So please, be careful." Ramon made firm eye contact with Robbie, as if to ensure that his message had been understood. Then he turned to the door.

"You come see me if you need something," he added as a parting thought.

Robbie was in a daze. Whatever he had thought about it at times, his world had been reasonably safe and predictable for years. Suddenly, everything had changed.

He stumbled to the dining table and pulled out a chair, then jumped when his cheeks came into contact with cold wood. It helped his mind become more alert.

Looking around the apartment, Robbie began to inventory what he would need to do for himself to survive. He needed food. The apartment and utilities were provided and required him to do nothing. He did his laundry in the room that was shared by everyone living in the apartments. The place was safe and would remain so. He had clothing.

Robbie realized that he already had everything he needed to survive except for food, and he had enough money to buy food for quite a while. He had visited his bank with Mike recently. And there was money he had received on occasion from very satisfied customers.

Without calculating too carefully, Robbie thought he could probably last at least six months without even cutting back on his ordinary expenses. And if he was on his own for longer than that, Robbie supposed he could always go out and solicit business. But that was a more dangerous way to earn a living, and Robbie knew better than to ever bring those customers back to the apartment.

Satisfied that all of his needs could be met for months, and that he didn't have any obligations until Mike returned, took a load of worry off Robbie's mind. But it also left him with an uneasy feeling.

His basic needs were met, but suddenly Robbie was completely responsible for himself. Even more unsettling, he had nothing to do; absolutely nothing at all. He had just turned sixteen years old. His past was unresolved but completely behind him. His present was at least secure but uninspiring. And his future, Robbie realized, was such an empty slate that he didn't have any idea of even the direction it might take.

What would he do? What could he do?

Pondering his future, Robbie's mind briefly wandered over the odd experiences of the previous night. Much of what he recalled of it was odd, even irrational. He had felt wonderful, still felt absolutely wonderful in the light of day, but it couldn't have been real. He wondered whether the man might have drugged him somehow.

Robbie glanced toward his bedroom, curious when his visitor might appear, and considered what he should offer the man for breakfast. Realizing that it might be appropriate to get dressed before offering to make breakfast, he headed toward his bedroom to find some clothes.

His bed was empty. The bedclothes were disheveled, but at a glance it didn't appear that more than one person had slept in the bed. The only clothes in sight were those items that Robbie had dropped on the floor before falling onto the bed the previous night. He didn't hear sound anywhere else in the apartment.

It was confusing; an unusual night made even more perplexing in the day. Robbie dashed around the apartment, checking for any place the man could be. He even opened the glass doors onto his balcony, getting nothing for the effort beyond frozen nuts.

Robbie was alone in the apartment. Slowly the realization took root: Robbie was also alone in the world.

Cupping his hands over his genitals to relieve the frostbite, Robbie went back to his bedroom. He looked around in confusion, trying to understand how a night that had been so emotionally and physically intense, hadn't even been real.

He pulled on pants, a shirt and socks, then rummaged under the bed for a pair of sneakers. He sat on the bed to slip on the sneakers and made another perplexed survey of the bed. The sheets and comforter were pulled away on the right side, where Robbie had exited the bed. There was only one narrow area on the right-hand side of the bed where the mattress suggested that it had supported the weight of a body. The pillows were stacked on top of each other, also on the right side, rather than poisoned side-by-side.

Robbie reached up to straighten the pillows and there, beside them, he saw a card.

It was an ordinary card, white, and appeared to be the size of a business card. The only thing on the card was the words: "There is Love", printed neatly in a medium shade of blue. Robbie picked up the card and turned it over. On the other side was just a number. It was ten digits long.

"There is love?" Robbie murmured aloud. A ten digit number on the other side. Could it be a telephone number? For a moment, Robbie wondered if it wasn't a recruitment of some sort. 'There is Love' could be the name of an adult 'entertainment' service. Maybe... whoever had been in his apartment... wanted Robbie to come work for him?

Robbie looked at the number more closely. The first three digits read "802". Was that an '802' area code? That wasn't local, he realized. An old light turned on in his head. '802' was the Vermont area code. Was it a Vermont phone number? And on reflection, if the next three numbers represented a local calling prefix, that number was familiar, too. It could be a phone number from the town where he grew up!

But try as he could to wrack his brain, the final four digits of the number weren't at all familiar. It wasn't his family's phone number, or the family number for one of his friends. It wasn't the school number, he was sure. It wasn't the number of that woman who had been his fifth grade teacher, either. Robbie was certain that he had never seen the number before in his life.

So how did it end up next to his pillow? "There is Love"? It just didn't make sense!

Robbie's inability to take that final step to close the connection in his mind was infuriating. He thought about his uncertain future, the lack of any compass to guide the rest of his life. Love was something he knew that he wanted. Robbie knew he needed love. But who was offering it?

How could he find out who? After trying to put the business card with its strange message out of his mind, Robbie discovered that he just couldn't do it.

He had straightened up his apartment, made breakfast for himself, and was sitting in front of the television trying to find anything interesting to watch.

It was Christmas. He was now sixteen years old. He was bored out of his mind. There wasn't even hope that his pager would sound, that familiar sound of the door buzzer would announce a new customer, and he would lead the way into the bedroom, get naked, and have his brains screwed out.

It didn't appear that anything would change for a long time, either. Psycho Mike had other things on his mind. He certainly wouldn't want to call attention to his business activities while he was managing his legal problems.

Robbie was on his own. He had food, shelter, heat. He was safe. He wanted more.

He wanted love. He had felt it for a night, perhaps only in his mind, and now he needed more.

Robbie reached into his back pocket and pulled out that business card. He couldn't recall putting it there, but he had known where to find it. He studied the promise. He studied the number. The phone number.

There was love. He had to know where.

Robbie considered his options. He wanted to call that number. He wanted to see if love was there, if there was a place where he could belong.

He didn't have a telephone. It wasn't something that bears liked their employees to have.

Robbie thought he might be able to make a call from Ramon's apartment, but he wasn't sure that news of the request might not get back to Mike eventually. Bears had a way of encouraging people to share information. And they could be very sensitive.

He had no idea who he could ask to lend him a telephone for a long-distance call.

Realization took a few hours to dawn. Pay phones had once been fairly common in public places. They weren't any more. But Robbie remembered seeing a small bank of pay phones at the local bus terminal when he had first arrived in Albany three years ago. That seemed like a place where there might still be public telephones. And the Schenectady bus station was barely three blocks away.

Robbie took stock of his situation. He could stay where he was. There was food, shelter, and safety if he stayed in his apartment. Mike would surely be back before the apartment lease ran out. He could go on living as he was.

But Robbie definitely wanted more for himself. He wanted love. He wanted a place where he belonged. Well beyond the physical sensations, the previous night had been so amazing! And he wasn't sure how much longer he wanted to live around bears, anyway. He needed to find out where there was love. He had to call that number and see if answers were waiting there.

Old lessons from his life on the street came back to Robbie. He expected to call and return to his apartment. But sometimes things happened. He needed to be prepared in case he couldn't return for some reason.

He took out the backpack he used to carry groceries when he went shopping. If Ramon saw him leaving with the backpack, it would look normal enough. But he put several changes of clothing in his backpack, buried the several hundred dollars in cash he had in his apartment in the bottom of the pack, and stuffed the passbook for his bank account in, too.

He was loath to leave that passbook lying around where he might not be able to retrieve it. He couldn't access the cash without Mike until he turned eighteen, but he would definitely return for that money someday. There was almost eighty thousand dollars in that account! The past that it represented, Robbie didn't really care to think about. But that money would be his future!

Out on the street, Robbie fell back on familiar behaviors. He walked purposefully, like he knew where he was going, he didn't make eye contact with anyone, and he did his best to blend into the thin crowd that wandered the snow-dusted sidewalks of Schenectady on Christmas Day.

His heart leapt into his throat when the blue lights and blaring siren of a Schenectady Police patrol car went flying past. It was encouraging that it wasn't headed toward his apartment building. But might it be waiting ahead for him at the bus station? Robbie didn't want to consider that possibility.

Robbie understood in his mind that he was feeling paranoid in an unfamiliar situation and without the disturbing protection behind him that Psycho Mike provided. But knowing that he was paranoid did nothing to convince him that he might not have good reason for paranoia.

Robbie walked the full length of the glass face of the bus terminal before he entered the building. He wanted to know where the public phones were located so he wouldn't be searching too obviously once he was inside the building.

He entered the far end of the terminal and strode purposefully straight to the pay phones. He knew precisely what he would do. He didn't see any danger lurking. But for some reason his heart was pounding away in his chest like a jackhammer.

There was no one else using a telephone. Robbie would have felt more comfortable if he had been just one of several people using a phone. He was less likely to attract attention that way.

Robbie picked up the phone's receiver. He deposited change in the coin slot until he got a dial tone. He reached into his back pocket for that card and carefully entered the number.

He prayed that it actually was a phone number. He prayed that someone would answer. But mostly he prayed that there was love at the other end.

Distantly, the sound of a telephone ringing came over the line. It rang once. It rang twice. It rang a third time.

Surreptitiously, Robbie glanced around the bus terminal to see if anyone was paying him any attention. The phone buzzed in his ear a fourth time... then a fifth time. There would be no love for Robbie that day. Christmas. His sixteenth birthday.

Robbie was preparing to hang up the telephone in disappointment when he heard a faint click on the other end of the line.

"Hello?" A familiar voice answered. But she sounded so much happier than she ever had in Robbie's memories.

"Mom?" Robbie whispered.

The End

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead