The Pigtown Chronicles: Chapter 3.6 – The Warden

Precinct 27 had been a normal police precinct, at one point. The neighborhood had been rundown, ripe for gentrification maybe, but no more troubled than any other area of the city. But then, they’d seen an uptick in public indecency, nudity, sex in the alleys, all of it originating at the far end of its jurisdiction. Rumor told of a bar or a club or a complex called Pigtown that had opened up, some sleazy gay place, but the officers had never been able to find it and shut it down. Then, it had spread. A few more arrests for public indecency turned into gay bars and bathhouses and more opening up, and it wasn’t long before the corruption, or whatever it was, had spread to some of the officers. Looking back, it was difficult to say whether the choices Rumwell had made then had been the right ones or not, but there was no good reason to second guess himself now. What he had done, he had done in the interest of maintaining order, both within the precinct, and outside of it, as best they all could. It had meant making some deals with a few devils. It had included making a few necessary sacrifices. There had been an equilibrium for a while–Pigtown hadn’t grown much larger than the blocks beyond the precinct, and the commander had done what was necessary to keep the city and other eyes from prying too closely. Over the last few months, though, Rumwell had found it difficult to feel like that balance was going to last forever.

He was in his office, where two of his officers had finished their business with his boots and his cock. He sent them off to other duties, and made his way down to the lowest level of the precinct–or at least, what had been the lowest level at one time, known as the drunk tank. The basement was lined with a few cells, empty at this time of day. It was generally intended for catch and release these days. But what hadn’t always been there were the stairs at the end of the hall, that led down into the jail proper. 

Six months into whatever this was, the precinct had run out of room. There were just too many deviants, and if you jailed them together, they would get up to even worse antics in the cells than out on the streets, and more than a few times, he’d caught his officers fraternizing with the perverts. He’d even lost a few to the alleys, in the early days, before he’d learned how to assert proper control and discipline over his ranks. They’d needed space, and one night, more space had appeared. Another bank of cells below the basement, appearing like magic. But soon those had been filled as well, and more appeared, and more. At this point, it was difficult to know how deep the entire complex went below the precinct. He imagined that the only person who might know would be The Warden. 

When the jail had first begun growing, a small contingent of officers proved to be more resistant to the corruption spreading from the perverts locked up there than others–or at least, they were less prone to letting them escape, or running off with them. At some point, the group had named one of them their de facto leader, and begun calling him The Warden. Rumwell had known his real name at one point, but now, it was gone, as was most of the man’s prior identity, he supposed. After all, it wasn’t that the men had been more resilient to the corruption spreading through this part of the city, it was merely warping them in a different fashion, and by the time Rumwell realized what had happened down there, it was too late to do anything about it.

The result, now, was a division. The precinct above, run by Rumwell, and the prison below, run by The Warden. They had been cooperative at first, but slowly, the warden had grown more antagonistic. He demanded more guards to cover the cells, and when Rumwell refused, he simply took them for himself. Prisoners that Rumwell had intended to release back onto the street come morning were deemed too deviant to be allowed out, and commandeered on a regular basis. Rumwell couldn’t help but feel like he was no longer entirely in charge, and when he’d confronted the Warden about his actions a couple of months ago, neither of them had escaped the encounter unscathed. They hadn’t spoken sense. 

He descended into the jail, trying to ignore the screams, the sounds of whips and flails and paddles and whatever instruments the guards desired to maintain the prisoner’s compliance. It seemed rather clear to him that their motives were more selfish. Some prisoners saw him, begged him for mercy. The deeper he went, the less he heard that cry–instead, conditioned by constant beatings, twisted by the guards, by the warden, the deviants ached, craved the pain and the discipline, howling with ecstasy from where they were chained on the walls or confined in the cages. 

The occasional guard would notice him, but while some would smile, none tried to stop him. They all knew that they wouldn’t be able to resist him–the only one who could was the Warden. He recognized the faces of a few, but many were unrecognizable, either their faces were hooded, or they had been twisted into such a brutish appearance as to no longer even seem human. This was deeper than he’d ever been before, the depravity around him much more intense. 

“Ah, so he has returned,” a voice said out of the darkness, and The Warden stepped forth, a flogger over one shoulder, half smoked cigar clamped in his bearded jaw, “To what do I owe the pleasure, Commander Rumwell? Come to give me another lecture?”

Rumwell sized up the warden, who seemed to have grown a little wider, and a bit taller since their last encounter. Not quite as large as Rumwell was, but close. He was wearing a full leather uniform, and underneath the smell of leather and smoke, there was the distinct pang of blood in the air as well. “My feelings on the matter haven’t changed, and I assume yours haven’t either. I don’t see a reason to open up old wounds just yet. I’m here on business. I need to confirm that Shadow is still being held here–I want to see him.”

The Warden took a draw off his cigar, and pushed a plume off to the side. “Unfortunately, he escaped.”

“What?”

“A few weeks ago. Found himself a shadow, slid right into it.”

“You told me you had him contained.”

“And I thought I did.”

“Why am I just now hearing about this? Weeks? You know full well how many fucking shades that monster can make! It was a nightmare cleaning up the streets last time, and who knows if we even caught all of them.”

The Warden gave a little shrug, “I’m sure you’ll be able to catch him again.”

Rumwell stalked a little closer, “You let him escape on purpose, didn’t you?”

“And you still aren’t meeting the quotas we agreed on.”

“So you let one of the most unpredictable aberrations loose onto the street because you’re not getting enough bodies to torture?”

“This is not torture, Commander. All of these bodies, if we let them loose, what do you think would happen? The city would be overrun. You can’t keep the streets in order without me, without everything that I do down here. I know what they need. I know how to control them. You can pretend that you sit in that tall office of yours, that you know this city, but it’s down here in the fucking dark that I keep it safe. All I ask is that you give me what my guards need to stay occupied.” He took a draw off the cigar, and blew another plume. “Besides, shades are really…exquisite things. The punishment they can take–the punishment they need. Nothing like it in the world that I’ve found. If Shadow happens to make a few more that end up down here, I can’t say I would be disappointed. Flesh withers so easily, but shadow–so much more resilient.” He held out the flogger, handle towards the commander, and he saw that each leather strap was tipped with a metal spike, a few with flecks of what he imagined must be blood. “My offer still stands, Commander, if you want to try your hand at it. See what it feels like. I know you have the rage in you, I can still feel the bruise on my jaw a little. Why don’t you just let it out on something that really deserves it? They aren’t even human after all.”

Rumwell turned and left before The Warden could finish speaking, the laughter of the man echoing through the halls, mirrored in the ecstatic screams and shouts all around him. He struggled to find his way back up to the precinct, the stairwells and hallways seemed to twist around him, confound him, threaten to seal him in, but finally, he burst his way back up into the drunk tank, and didn’t stop until he was out of the building, standing on the sidewalk, panting in the night air. It was monstrous. It was necessary. He wondered, again, how it would feel, what the screams would sound like if he had brought them forth himself, if he would lose himself. He knew he would. He was strong, but not strong enough, and the Warden knew that. 

He straightened up, and marched back inside, where the night shift was just coming in. They were more hardened, more resilient than the day officers. They faced the brunt of what Pigtown had to offer, and pushed back as best they could–and fed the beast below them. “The Warden has informed me that Shadow has escaped from the jail. He’s been on the loose for a few weeks now. This is now our priority. I want him found, and I want him back down there, where he belongs.”

The Pigtown Chronicles: Chapter 3.5 – Side Effects

Parker swore that it had been a normal workout–usually a couple of hours from when he started stretching to his cool down cardio. When he looked outside though, he was confused to see that it was night already, and he had been lifting weights for close to five hours straight, cycling through arms, back, legs, chest, core and back again, over and over, desperate to try use up the energy that was suddenly thrumming through him. He was a bit addled at first, soaked in sweat, trying to piece together the hours that he had apparently spent here without even realizing it. Not long after that, he realized that more than a few of the men around were staring at him, some lustfully, but more than a couple just looked confused or concerned. He wasn’t quite sure why, until he turned again, saw himself in one of the mirrored walls of the gym, and did his best not to let his own jaw hit the floor at the sight.

The workout clothes that he had on, which he liked a little tight, so they could better show off his bulge and physique, were about to tear themselves off his body, if he flexed a bit too hard. In fact, one of the straps on his tank top had done just that at some point, revealing one massive, hairy pec with a nipple on the end of it larger than some men’s cocks–and was it leaking? He reached over with one hand, and sure enough, it was. That was enough to send him into the locker room for a moment, so he could get a better handle on what he was looking at. 

He went around the corner to the sinks, and there, he realized that he hadn’t just grown more muscular over the course of a single afternoon, he’d also grown taller. The sinks that usually hit right at his waist, now met the middle of his thigh, and he needed to stoop down slightly just to get a look at his face in the mirror. “God damn, what the fuck,” he said, looking at his thickly bearded face, heavier jaw and bro…the receding hairline. He ran a hand through his usually thick hair, only to watch a good chunk of it fall away, leaving him with a substantial bald patch. He splashed some water on his face, tried to stop himself from hyperventilating, got out his phone, and called Hugh–but the dealer didn’t answer.

“God fucking damn it,” he said, face feeling flushed, looked down, and saw another reason the guys had been staring at him. He’d been so focused on his face and upper body, he hadn’t bothered to notice that his cock was simply massive–long enough that the head and a couple inches of the shaft were hanging out of the leg of his shorts, only half hard, and drooling the same viscous, milky substance his pecs had suddenly started producing. He dropped his shorts, and his balls were swollen to easily the size of a bowling ball–he held them in his hands, and he could feel them aching. Not just aching. They were churning. Fuck, how long had it been since he’d last cum? The skin of his scrotum was pulled taut–he couldn’t even feel his testicles inside them. It was like they were swimming in the goo now flowing out of him.

“God, some guys are such fucking freaks, they’ll shoot themselves up with anything. What do you think that fucker’s on, anyway?”

“Who the fuck knows, some of the shit on the street these days can be real fucking shady. Steroids, sure–who hasn’t done them? But I sure as hell don’t want to look like that.”

“Did you catch a whiff of him? Dude fucking reeks too.”

“I bet–looks like he’d be better suited in a fucking barnyard.”

Parker’s face flushed red. They were fucking talking about him, they had to be. The shame he felt surprised him. He loved seeing guys stare at him, but this…what the fuck was happening to him? He needed to get to the hospital or something, needed to figure out what the hell this stuff even was. He went to take leave, only for the shorts he was wearing to finally give up the fight, tear open from crotch to waist, and his massive genitals spilled out, the sudden drop causing a massive burst of milky cum to ooze their way out of the head, making a sizable puddle on the floor. Parker hefted his monstrous package, but just pressing on the swollen sack made even more of the gunk spew all over his hands, and the smell of it, fuck, it smelled a bit rank, but it was making him kind of horny too.

Maybe it was just a minute or two, but when Parker came back to himself, he had both hands wrapped around his cock, milking it with long strokes, grunting and moaning like some fucking animal, just flooding the floor with his precum. He regained a bit of control, just in time for the two men who had been talking about him to round the corner, heading for the showers, and stopped dead in their tracks. “Fucking, hell, what the fuck is that stench?” one of them said, throwing his elbow across the face.

“Christ, you fucking pervert!” the other said, but Parker could see something happening to them both, their eyes going a little glassy. The other one gave a little snort, got down, crawled towards the puddle of precum he’d just made and started lapping it up. The first put up a little resistance, tried to run–but Parker had had enough. He grabbed him, dragged him back, and flung him face first into the puddle with his friend, watched him try to resist for a moment, but he soon gave in and started licking as much of it up from the filthy gym floor as he could. Parker didn’t quite know why he was doing this, but he was so…so full. He needed someone to empty him, didn’t he? He got down on his knees with them, grabbed the back of their heads, and pulled them to his teats, both of them sucking down Parker’s milk right from the source, and as they did, he could see them both changing. 

Their guts grew first, filling up with Parker’s milk, but it soon became obvious that it wasn’t just a full belly–they were actually getting fatter. Their hair was next, both on their heads and their bodies, falling away into the puddle below them. Parker felt something happen to his cock–it moved in a way he didn’t quite understand, in a way he couldn’t even really control, slithering between him and one of the men latched onto his pec, like it was seeking something out. It found it, the head of his cock swallowing up the man’s cock, and it started sucking on it, and both he and Parker let off a moan in unison. He could feel it, feel himself draining the man’s vitality, his muscles, even his youth, his now hairless face growing a bit wrinkled, his muscles atrophying as they were sucked out and added to Parker’s own massive frame. The other man tried to pull away in horror, but his mouth wouldn’t let him detach from the other nipple. When his cock was finished, and had sucked away the man’s cock and balls until the only thing that remained was a piss hole buried in his new fat, the now larger cock snaked over to the second man, and repeated the process, draining him completely dry as well. When he was finished, he stood back up, the two men’s mouths coming away from his tits with a loud sucking sound, and he looked down at them, barely even recognizable as men now, just two short blobs, their mouths sucking up everything they could of their new master from the floor under them. 

He, on the other hand, was even larger. His head was mere inches from the ceiling, the rest of his clothes fell away from him as he stood up and flexed, and he tore the rags away from him. There was no reason to hide this body now–he was superior to every other man, how could he have ever doubted himself before? One of the thralls below turned around and raised its hole, now loose and more than capable of taking its master’s cock, but before he could accept the invitation and fuck the thing, there was a cramp in his arm, and then in his guts that made him double over in pain. 

He didn’t know what could be causing it, but his whole body was screaming out for…for something. Something it needed. He stumbled over to his locker, fumbled it open, and carefully extracted the extra vial of BHB he’d taken from Hugh. Manipulating the syringe with his massive body was difficult, especially with the muscle spasms, but he managed to get himself injected, and after a couple of scary minutes, he felt the pain recede, and the horniness flood through him all over again–but that could wait. Hugh’s place wasn’t too far from here, and if that was how his body was going to react to withdrawal, he couldn’t afford to go without a dose again.

When the staff came to investigate the smell in the men’s locker room, after the emergency exit had been tripped, they found the strange pool of goo, the tattered remains of three sets of men’s workout clothes, and nothing else. Parker was busy strutting his way through the darkness of pigtown, his two thralls lumbering and wobbling their way after him, stopping one after another to slurp up their master’s precum that was still seeping its way onto the sidewalk. It was time, now, to have another little chat with Hugh, and after that, it was time to settle things with Samuel once and for all, and show him who was really the boss in this relationship.

The Pigtown Chronicles: Chapter 3.3 – Shadow’s Puppet

Marlon was lost, had been lost for a while now. Sometimes, he was there in the cage, feeling his body slowly draining away, too exhausted to move, too exhausted to do much of anything. Other times, he was out of the cage, with Shadow, who for the last week, had been tormenting Marlon’s shade almost non-stop. Shadow didn’t seem to need sleep, or food, or water. Marlon, on the other hand–or at least, the part of Marlon in the cage, didn’t seem to require them any more either, but didn’t stop feeling hunger or thirst. When he managed to find a voice, he would occasionally call out, begging for sustenance, but Shadow and the shade saw no reason to engage. It ought to be wasting away, after all. It wasn’t going to be important, from now on. 

The shade had been flat, at first. Marlon hadn’t quite understood how Shadow could grip something flat, but he could. His manacles could bind it, his whips and floggers could strike it, his needles could pierce it. There was never any mark on the shade from any of this, no matter how hard it was struck, no matter what sadistic torture it was given. There was no mark on Marlon’s body either, in the cage, but he still felt every strike as though it had been against his own flesh and bone under Shadow’s implements. 

The hunger and thirst made him delusional, or at least, he thought they were delusions, at first. Visions that he was outside of the cage, looking down on himself, but without control of his body. It took a few of these before he realized he was literally looking down at himself, through the eyes of the shade. It seemed to happen when Shadow fucked the shade, or fed him a load. Often the shade would have an orgasm of its own, and Marlon’s vision would slip for a moment, looking at his own body. It was pale, flat, sagging. It seemed less like a body, and more like a costume that someone had left crumpled up on the floor. Then he would be back, shuddering, the torture would begin again, and he would return to screaming.

He didn’t understand why he wasn’t dead. Perhaps he was dead. Perhaps he was dying. He asked Shadow, asked him why he was doing this, why he wasn’t dying. There was no sense of time down in the windowless room, just that constant red light. Shadow never replied, of course. The question didn’t particularly interest him. After all, Pigtown had never killed anyone, to his knowledge. Pigtown didn’t want to kill you, it wanted to use you. The men of Pigtown wanted to use you too. Use, or be used. Take, or be taken. 

At some point, Marlon’s voice was taken from him. It took a few minutes, or hours, before he realized that the moans and screams he was hearing were no longer coming from his own mouth–they were coming from the shade. They were different as well. No longer were they full of terror–they sounded pleased. Delighted, almost. His voice croaked out, asking for more, “More, Master, more…” and he clawed at the bars of the cage, furious at his own shadow’s betrayal. He’d been his, after all, all his life. And now, he was taking everything from him. He tried to scream, tried to shout, but nothing–not even a whisper would leave his lips. It was one of the few times Shadow even acknowledged that he was still there, the shaded face turning to the cage, a slight smile across those bearded lips, and then he turned to the shade. “More of what, my little puppet?”

“Everything, all of it,” the shade said. Even worse, Marlon felt his own mouth move with the words, though no sound came from him. 

Marlon found himself slipping back and forth, between his dwindling existence in the cage, and the painful pleasure outside of it, under Shadow’s controlling hands. He could feel the shade’s voice growing, not just when speaking, but in his own mind, too. How much it hated him. Hated that body in the cage, how it had been tethered to him for so long. Marlon found himself growing more and more sympathetic. The pain on the cross, or over the bench, or whatever else Shadow did to him was nothing compared to the aching hunger and thirst and weakness when he slipped back into the cage. He was miserable. He was a miserable little fleshy thing. Better for it to wither away, better for it to disappear. Eventually, he did–mostly. The shade overwhelmed him, took on color, took on space, took on form and feature. The shade became Marlon, and whatever it was that was in the cage continued to wither, until there was nothing really left at all, not after Shadow shared it with his new puppet. 

To an acquaintance, the shade would have been easily mistaken for Marlon, as he had been. There were only a few differences, the most obvious of which was that he lacked a shadow. After all, he was the shadow, where Marlon had put all of his degeneracy, all of his fear, all of his weakness. But the shade had taken all of the substance from him, locked what little remained of Marlon away deep in his own mind, not that he planned on using any of it. It would take the name though–the shade had always liked the name. He had always hated the man it had been tethered to–most shadows resented their living hosts. Of course, the shade was indebted to Shadow, and more than happy to service him. But now, Shadow turned his attention to the two pitch black cocoons which were still quivering, where they were suspended from the ceiling.

He formed a knife from the darkness of the room, sliced one of them open, and what fell out was…something else. A shade, certainly. The shade of one of the officers, but only half-formed. Shadow had devoured quite a bit of them both, weakened them enough that their shades could overtake them, suck what substance remained from them, but there wasn’t enough. 

“Are…are they alright?” Marlon asked.

“They will be, we just need to give them some more to eat, is all,” Shadow said, gave a little flourish with his hand, and gathered some of the shadows in the room around Marlon’s naked body. It condensed against his skin, becoming a set of leather gear, pitch black aside from the metal buckles that seemed to hold the light shone on them. “Why don’t we go out tonight? I have some social calls to make, but we can get these two fed first.”

The shade cradled one of the little shadows in his arms, could feel it beginning to understand itself. There was pale body mixed in with it too, somehow. Whatever it was, he could tell that it would be different from what he’d become. Shadow picked up the other shade, pulled the shadows of the room together and Marlon followed him through the darkness. 

What the old Marlon had only understood, before, as a void, the shade understood as a tapestry. There were all kinds of darkness there, stretching in all different directions. Follow a strand, and you could go, well, anywhere. Shadow led them out of the darkness and into an alley not far from where he had found Marlon and Jimmy that night a few weeks before. It was night, but not that late. Shadow dimmed the lights, and the two of them waited.

It wasn’t long before the darkness of the alley lured a couple of Pigtown’s residents into the alley for a little fuck before heading off to the next bar. What they didn’t expect, was for the two shades to bolt and scurry out of the darkness, crawl their way up their bodies, and latch themselves onto their heads, the two men screaming and prying at the darkness, trying to rip it from them, until they stopped moving. 

“They’ll probably just remember it as a nightmare, is all,” Shadow said to Marlon as they watched. “They’re not strong enough to take everything yet, like you or I could.”

“Like…I could?” Marlon asked.

Shadow nodded. “I may call you my puppet, but it’s merely a term of endearment. You can do anything I can do–I’m just as much a shade as you are. After this, they’ll be strong enough to make it on their own if they keep to the darkness. I had so many of them for a while, but I can’t feel them at all, not since I escaped.”

“From where?”

Shadow didn’t say. He just started off towards the mouth of the alley, and down the sidewalk, Marlon hustling a bit to catch up. Apparently, his questions would have to wait.

The Pigtown Chronicles: Chapter 3.2 – Filing a Report at Precinct 27

The week before, after going to see his friend Kyle at the smoke shop and having that strange conversation with Marshall,Jim had strode down the sidewalk and gone straight towards the precinct as Marshall had suggested. Standing outside the building, however, his resolve had wavered. Marshall had told him he had two options. Either he could forget that any of this had ever happened, like everyone else had seemed to, aside from him and Kyle, or he could ask the officers here for help. Jimmy couldn’t imagine what help the officers here could give him, especially since he had no concrete evidence that what had happened that night, had actually occurred. He didn’t even have evidence that Marlon existed. 

In the end, he’d left, and gone home. He’d think about it. He’d wait. See if Marlon turned up on his own. He felt like a coward, and it was that shame that kept welling his memories of him back up to the surface, just when the water had gone still. The furthest he got was three days, almost enough that he’d forgotten he’d been trying to forget something at all, only for him find a shirt that had been Marlon’s stashed in his closet that he’d stolen one night after some fumbling half-sex together. He’d felt horrible, horrible that he’d decided to just give up on him, horrible that he could still smell him on the shirt, pressed to his face. Horrible that he was clinging to some strange delusion, an imaginary boyfriend he couldn’t even prove existed at all.

And so, Marshall’s point was proven. There really were only two things he could do, two paths forward. He wouldn’t be able to forget him, he could already see that. Time might stretch longer and longer between remembrances, but Marlon would always come back to him, and that, he was sure, would drive him mad, eventually. The only other choice then, was to find someone who could help–and if the officers of Precinct 27 could help, then that’s where he would have to go. He stepped into the lobby on Thursday afternoon, trying to plan the words that might convince the officers to even listen to him. It would sound crazy, he knew that, but Pigtown seemed to be a little crazy already. Maybe that’s why they would be a little more understanding.

He stepped up to the desk, where a rather bored, disheveled officer had his feet up on the counter, and realized that he was thumbing his way through a rather dogeared porno magazine. A gay one, at that. Unconcerned, the officer looked up at him, raised an eyebrow, and asked, “Can I help you, kid?”

“I…I think I need to file a report,” Jim said.

The officer gave a little snorting noise, something between a grunt and a chuckle, and then leaned in and gave Jim a few sniffs, and sat back, his brow furrowed. “Huh, I think you do, actually. Have a seat, I’ll find someone to help you out.”

“Oh, uh…ok,” Jim said, “Do you…need some info, or anything?”

The officer had already gotten up from the desk and left the lobby, heading down a side hall. Jimmy just looked around, considered leaving before the strange fellow returned, but didn’t. He took a seat on a lumpy chair off to the side, and waited.

He didn’t have to wait long, but for a police station, the place didn’t seem particularly busy. Looking around, it also didn’t seem particularly well cared for either. The walls were stained, the floor tiles peeling up. It was a far cry from the shining, well-funded precinct out in the suburbs where he lived, where the clean, well polished officers had looked at him like he was crazy. He didn’t have to wait long for the officer to return, followed by a rather rotund and stout detective in civilian clothes, with a beard down to his chest. Nothing about him suggested he had abided by any sort of dress code, or that he could even pass a fitness test. “Who, that one?” the other officer said, looking over at Jimmy, “You said he smelled like what?”

“You heard me. Faint though.”

“But it’s the middle of the day!”

“That’s why I didn’t go right to Rumwell.”

The new officer gave a huff, and walked over to where Jimmy was sitting. Now that he was closer, he saw that under the officer’s gut was a substantial amount of muscle, and he found himself second guessing his assumption about the officer’s physical capabilities. He had a name tag on that identified him as Ambrose Winston. “What are you here for, kid? You look a little young to be a resident. Feel fuckin’ sorry for ya if ya are.”

“A resident?”

“Of Pigtown.”

“Uh, no–I…the guy, Marshall, who runs the smoke shop, he said…you might be able to help me. My name’s Jimmy, I live out in Barry’s Hollow.”

“Out in the suburbs?” Something about the way the officer said it, made it sound that it might as well be another continent–another planet in the solar system.

“Uh, yeah…My, uh, friend went missing, the Friday before last. I…I tried to tell the cops, out where I live, but they didn’t believe me.”

The officer looked at each other. “Was that when…” Winston said, looking back at the cop from the reception desk, who just nodded, eyes a little wider.

“Huh. Alright, come on back, and let’s have a chat. I think we might be able to help each other out, actually.”

“What?” Jimmy asked, but Winston was already walking away, and Jimmy hurried to catch up. They went down a short hallway, then up a flight of stairs, and found themselves in a collection of cubicles where a few other officers were busy with paperwork. Winston led them to a small office off to the side, took a seat at a desk, and motioned for Jimmy to sit across from him. “So, your friend went missing…a week and a half ago then?”

“I tried to report it sooner, but…well, it’s a little hard to believe, I guess.”

“Trust me kid, I’ve heard some weird ass shit in this precinct–let me have it.”

So Jimmy did. He told him about walking back from Depot, leaving out the underage drinking, since they had snuck in. He told the detective about the streetlights going out, about the man stepping out of the shadows–and only then did Winston perk up. 

“Can you describe the man for me?” he asked.

“Not really well. He was covered in leather. All I could see was the bottom of his face. His eyes were always shaded.”

“Shaded how? Did you see his eyes at all?”

“I…I don’t think so.”

He kept going, describing how Marlon had stepped into the shadow and disappeared. Then he told them about the two officers coming to his rescue, and again, Winston perked up. He asked him questions about them, their size, even what they’d smelled like, the sound of their voices. Jimmy didn’t understand why he was so interested in them, but he hadn’t even gotten their names. He finished by describing how everyone else seemed to have forgotten that Marlon had even existed. Just he and Kyle recalled him at all. When he’d finished, Winston sat back in his chair for a moment, mouth twisted in a bit of a scowl.

“You…believe me?”

“Unfortunately, I do.”

“Can you find him then? He’s not dead is he?”

“Pigtown doesn’t kill anyone. Death would be a mercy.”

“What does that mean?”

Winston didn’t reply. He just pushed a card into Jimmy’s hand, told him to call if he remembered anything else, or if anything happened that reminded him of that night. Jimmy left, realizing only afterward that he hadn’t left any information with the officers–he made the man at the reception desk take down his name and number for the detective, but he didn’t seem to consider it important. He left feeling demoralized, but in an entirely different way. They believed him, but he had no idea what he was supposed to do. He didn’t know if Marlon was alive, he didn’t know who could have done this. It would have been easier if they’d just laughed in his face.

But inside the precinct, Winston wasn’t laughing. He hustled up the floors to the top story, where Commander Rumwell’s office was. He pushed inside, not even bothering to knock, and interrupted the commander with one officer cleaning his boots, while another one was between his legs, sucking and nursing at his sizable cock. Winston didn’t blink at this, of course–he gave a little salute, and said, “Sir, I have new information regarding the disappearances of Glison and Avery.”

“Oh?” Rumwell said.

“I…I think it was Shadow.”

That brought Rumwell up from where he was reclining, and he pushed the younger officer off his cock. “Excuse me? We know where Shadow is–he’s in the jail.”

“I…have solid testimony that leads me to believe he may have escaped. Have you…uh…spoken to the Warden lately?”

Rumwell’s face soured. He took a long draw off his cigar, and pushed the smoke out his nose in twin jets. “We haven’t been on the best of terms lately, no.”

“What?” Winston said, “I mean…I don’t know what that means.”

“It means nothing, for the moment. He’s just sulking. Tell me what you heard.”

Winston told him, and by the end of it, Rumwell had sucked his cigar down to a thin butt, which he snuffed out in the ashtray on his desk. It was credible, as much as he didn’t want to believe it. 

“Do you have a lead?”

“Marshall’s, maybe. I heard he has a new apprentice who seems to know the witness and the victim.”

“He does have a new apprentice, nice kid–little green,” Rumwell said. “Go have a chat. I’ll go see what I can wring out of the Warden.”

The Pigtown Chronicles: Chapter 3.1- Feeding the Fire

The Tuesday after he’d met Rod in the VIP room above Depot, Samuel had given him a call and said he wanted to talk about his offer. He’d intended the meeting to be short–long enough to turn his deal down, and maybe throw a drink in his face. Samuel had never wanted to be bought. You couldn’t get anywhere in the art world without selling your work of course, but there was selling the work you made, your unadulterated vision distilled, and then there was commission, creating for someone else, with your own voice. Advertisements, really. Marketing. He found it distasteful, and after that strange vision in the bathroom of Depot, he also found it terrifying.

Yet, once Rod had stepped into the studio, and begun probing at the art in the revolving process of ideation and disintegration around him, Samuel found his plan already falling off the rails. What unnerved him the most, was that Rod understood. Understood what he saw, what his art was, why he did it. Samuel was obsessed with flesh. Many reviewers misunderstood when he said this to them, and translated his precise word of ‘flesh’ to the more palatable ‘bodies’. Bodies were composed of flesh, of course, but it was not the body itself that drew Samuel’s attention. It was what comprised it. Muscle, fat, sinew, tendon, bone, blood, organ. Rod had used the precise word, without prompting. “I love your depiction of flesh in this one,” he said, holding up a canvas, looking back at Samuel with those steel grey eyes. 

“It’s not right, that one is no good,” Samuel had said, attempting to deflect.

“Oh, none of them are good. None of them are anything like what you’re really capable of, Samuel,” Rod had said, and he’d struck his second weakness, that fine line between backhanded compliment and earnest encouragement. They’d chatted a bit more, then Rod had left, and Samuel stared down at the check in his hand, astonished that he’d taken it. Astonished that he’d wanted to take it. For a moment, after cashing it, he was flush with inspiration, but as soon as he’d sat down to work some of it out, it vanished. 

Since then, he’d spent over a week trying to recapture that moment of inspiration, but it hadn’t returned. Not a single idea that, as soon as it was down, didn’t feel like the most insipid, self-satisfying bullshit he’d ever considered. Normally, when faced with a block like this, he’d found that his best solution was a good fucking at the hands of whatever muscle bound man he was with at the moment. Something about being pounded by a mountain of flesh could provide insight, but Parker, currently filling that role, only terrified him now.

Terrified was the wrong word. Disgusted was the wrong word. He’d yet to find the correct one, in any language that he knew. He could barely stand to exist in the same space as him, and he’d hoped that a few days of distance from that scene in the bathroom would help settle his mind and let him get back to fucking, but the vision refused to fade away. It was always there on the edge of his sight, that beast, those sucking thralls at his monstrous feet, beckoning him. He’d considered telling Parker what he’d seen, asking him about the new steroid that Hugh was apparently selling him now, but neither of those things could cross his lips. He told himself that Parker was far too simple to grasp what he’d witnessed, but he was also afraid that perhaps he would understand perfectly. Perhaps Parker’s ignorance of the beast behind him was the only thing keeping it from bursting free at any moment.

Parker, on the other hand, spent the early part of the week following his night at Depot feeling great. Every workout was phenomenal. He broke through his plateau in a matter of days, packing on a solid five pounds of mass, even as he could tell he was cutting fat, giving his body the sort of definition he’d only been able to manage after a few days with minimal water. His energy was up, his libido was definitely up, and after trying a couple of times to get Samuel interested in a good fuck, he gave up, and started fucking anything that moved–and there were a lot of things in Pigtown that wanted him, day or night.

But as was usually the case with steroids, the effect wore off a few days before it was time to shoot up again, but that first week, the relief was enough for Parker to push through to Friday, get another dose from Hugh, with the usual discount of a good fuck, and then enjoy the rush again. That second week, however, the high dwindled away quicker, his impotence was back by Tuesday, and he was left feeling frustrated that the drug wasn’t delivering what Hugh had promised him. 

Thursday afternoon, he’d returned home from the gym to discover Samuel there. He hadn’t been spending much time at their apartment for the last few weeks, for some reason. He seemed…afraid of Parker, but wouldn’t tell him why, and the two of them hadn’t fucked since before that night at Depot. They ended up fighting about money, of course. Without the fucking to distract them, there was nothing to hide the fact that the two of them were completely at odds with one another. Much to Samuel’s surprise, however, Parker ended up getting rough with him, something he hadn’t done before, pinning him up against the wall, grinding his cock against him–it was only the fact that he couldn’t even get it up that made Parker retreat, leaving Samuel with just a few slaps and a lighter wallet before storming out of the apartment, and heading for Hugh’s, to get his next fix.

He had to pound the door for most of a minute before Hugh finally answered. It was early afternoon, but judging from the fact all he had on was some boxers and heavy bags under his eyes, it had been a late night for him–but then, dealers didn’t get to work normal hours. “Fuck Parker, what is it?”

“I need another dose.”

“You shouldn’t dose again until tomorrow, once a week. Like I said–this shit is real experimental.”

“Real fucking worthless you mean, the stuff doesn’t even last a whole week!” Parker said, pushing into the apartment, “Now I got your money, give me another vial.”

“It has to fully cycle out before you can take another–”

“Trust me Hugh, it’s fucking cycled out, now give me the shit already.”

“Ok ok, calm down man,” Hugh said, shut the door and went into his room, dug around in his stash, and pulled out another vial of BHB. “Are you doing alright? You seem a little agitated.”

“I’m not here asking you to be my therapist,” Parker said, grabbing the vial out of Hugh’s hand, threw the wad of cash he’d taken from Samuel’s wallet down on the dresser, looked around until he found a syringe that seemed clean, and drew out his dose. 

Hugh just watched, just wanting to get Parker out of here. He was obviously agitated, but whether that was a side effect of the drug, or whether he was just frustrated that the drug wasn’t perfect, he couldn’t tell. He had a few other guys testing it out, but he hadn’t seen any of them react quite like this before. Hugh injected himself, junked the syringe, and heaved a sigh of relief, and set the vial down on the counter of the bathroom. “Now, how about that other part of the payment?” he said, and dropped the gym shorts he was wearing.

“Fuck Parker, not right now, I have a hangover the size of Texas. I don’t even know how I got home last night.”

“Well nothing helps a hangover like a good dose of protein, you know?”

Parker stepped closer to him, and Hugh noticed something strange–he smelled different. He was used to Parker smelling–he didn’t exactly shower much after the gym, and Hugh didn’t mind a little musk. This was different, it was sharp, and drew him in with a moan. Parker lifted up his arms and let Hugh clean them both out for a few minutes, before he could feel the same rush of horniness as before, and pushed him over to the bed.

“Seriously Parker, take it easy,” Hugh said, but Parker was aching to fuck now, climbed up, and literally tore to boxers off his body, shoved the slick head of his cock against Hugh’s hole, and pushed it inside. Hugh moaned, that same sharp scent, that need now somehow inside him, suffusing him. He moaned in pleasure as Parker drove in deeper, reaching around his neck with one muscled arm and pulling him back, choking him lightly and also keeping him from moving too much. 

“I don’t do easy, slut,” Parker said, and slammed his cock the rest of the way in, and Hugh gave a howl of pleasure. He lost track of how many times Parker came over the next hour, as he fucked him non-stop. Each time he did, he would feel that same sharpness leech into his body, making him feel weaker, making him want it more and more, until Parker, sated for the moment at least, hauled his cock free, and watched the cum drool from Hugh’s well worked hole, onto the sheets below him, the dealer still moaning. “There we go, that’s better, isn’t it?” Parker said, got up, and fished around in Hugh’s good for another vial of BHB. “A tip–you don’t mind, do you?”

“Wait, Parker…I think something’s wrong…with you…” Hugh muttered, but Parker either didn’t hear him, or didn’t want to hear him. He was out the door and back on the street, heading home to finish what he’d started with Samuel–but when he got there, he was nowhere to be found. The coward had probably run off to his studio. Parker considered tracking him down, but that long fuck with Hugh had mostly fixed the frustration he’d been feeling. What he wanted now was a good long workout, and then maybe he’d hit a few clubs to find a few more holes to plow. Before he left though, he took out the partial vial from Hugh’s place, drew the rest of it out, and injected himself again–a booster, he told himself. By the time he got to the gym, he was riding high, pumping more than he ever had in his life. Even if there was a risk, he was willing to take it–he could take anything he wanted, as long as he felt like this forever.

TPC: Chapter 2.1

Part 2 – Into the Gyre

Chapter 1 – Back to Reality

Dennis and Barry didn’t speak much for the rest of the weekend, after their night out at Depot. It was clear that something between them was withering in a way that was rather unexpected, but neither of them could articulate. Barry, however, was closer to understanding it. It was the same sensation that he always felt after a circuit party, or an orgy, when he was back in the quiet house again. He was back in reality. The party, the club, the sex, all of that was just fantasy, it couldn’t penetrate him. He couldn’t allow it to penetrate him. But when he saw someone like Samuel, or Parker, who not only allowed that energy to flow through them, but lived and breathed it, all he felt was restless. Like he’d done scuba diving, with all of this protection, only to discover other guys he knew had gills. That Dennis had intruded on that rather sacred experience, injected his own kind of order and justice and control into it only made him feel more sour, more disconnected, more jealous of what he could be, if he hadn’t chosen all of this.

Dennis, on the other hand, was feeling usurped. Annoyed that Barry had dragged him to that party, annoyed that he had challenged him when it came to Kyle and threatening to tell his father, annoyed that he felt bad about it, most of all. He’d done the right thing, he was sure of that. Kyle shouldn’t have been there, he was too young. It was illegal. Pretty much everything that was happening in that club was illegal, in fact. But Barry had put him on the defensive, a position Dennis hated, since he was very careful to always maintain a moral high ground. He felt like he needed to defend something that ought to be obvious. The fact that Barry apparently disagreed only made his own values feel more slippery. 

Barry dealt with the frustration by going to the gym, and stopping off at a gay sauna on the way back for a little action. Dennis dealt with it by making calls to the health department, the liquor control board, and the police department, reporting the myriad of violations he had witnessed at Depot on Friday. Neither of them felt satisfied, by the end of it. The energy that Barry was craving just wasn’t there, like it had been at Depot. The guys were all too nervous, too embarrassed, mostly older closeted men with wives in the suburbs. It only made Barry feel more hemmed in than before. Dennis kept getting the runaround from every agency he called. They would seem interested, and then as soon as he mentioned where he had been and they confirmed the address, the person on the other line would go quiet, say that wasn’t their jurisdiction, thank him for his vigilance and hang up on him. Only once, with a police officer, did he manage to get a little bit of info out of him. “Look, the folks you ought to talk to are down at Precinct 27. They handle everything in that neighborhood.” Frustrated, and again feeling like he was running into some bureaucratic red tape he hadn’t expected, he decided he’d pay a visit to the precinct sometime in the next week, and get some answers there. Surely they would have a more difficult time dismissing his complaints in person.

Monday came for them both. Dennis headed for the hospital–Monday was usually a day for appointments, and getting his surgeries for the rest of the week planned out and organized. Barry headed into the office, dreading it more than he had in some time. He’d hoped that seeing Samuel and having a chance to blow off some steam would have helped soften the blow of being passed over for a promotion, again. Instead, he just felt caught between two worlds, one unsatisfactory foot in each. He couldn’t invest himself entirely in his job–it bored him to death, and he didn’t understand how Dennis could stand being so normal all the time–but if he didn’t, he’d never get the respect there he longed for. Each time he saw Samuel though, it was like looking at some amazing being. He was so free. Sure, his life likely wasn’t easy, but it seemed effortless and fun and exhilarating in a way Barry’s had never been. It also terrified him, all the same, and he hadn’t even been able to hack an hour on the dance floor on Friday. He got settled in his office, and got caught up on his email for the first couple of hours, before the usual Monday morning meeting was due to start.

This is what he was dreading the most, of the entire day. He showed up a bit late, took a seat towards the far end of the table. Evan Ternbull, his current boss, was sitting at the front, and off to his left was Richard Carlisle, the man that Barry privately considered his rival, but they had never spoken more than a few words to each other, since Richard was a relatively new hire, and they’d been working on different projects.

“As you know,” Evan said once getting everyone in order, “I’m going to be transferring over to a new project team in a month or so, which I know all of you are so disappointed to hear about. I’m happy to announce today that Richard here will be stepping up into my role and overseeing your team for the remainder of your project. As you know, Richard is relatively new here, but he comes with some great outside experience, and I am very confident that he will be a great project lead.”

The folks around the table clapped for Richard, who stood up, looking a bit sheepish. How old could he be, really? Twenty-five, twenty-six? Slender, twinkish but clearly straight, Richard got up and introduced himself, talking about his wife, and about the baby they had on the way. The table clapped again, and Barry tried to mask his scowl as he clapped along. Part of him felt a bit bad now for feeling so entitled to the position. Dennis and he were doing just fine with their incomes, and he knew that kids were expensive–one of many reasons he’d never wanted one. But as soon as that sympathy popped up, he pushed it back down. Just because he was straight, just because he was “starting a family” didn’t mean he was entitled to more money than him. It didn’t mean he was entitled more respect.

That was it, wasn’t it? The respect. He didn’t feel respected here. He didn’t feel respected at home, even. Dennis loved him, sure, but did he respect him, really? Did it feel like a relationship between equals all the time? It didn’t. Barry would goad him, and half the time Dennis would just dismiss him out of hand, refuse to even engage, like fighting with Barry was simply beneath him. Like he knew that no matter how dissatisfied he might be, he’d never leave him, because he liked the money, and the lifestyle, and Barry’s own job here couldn’t afford it. 

He could barely focus for the rest of the meeting. After an hour, he faked a phone call, and retreated to his cubicle to think. Mostly, he stared at the little business card that Hugh had given him, and thought about what on earth “Broker” might mean. Someone in the drug trade, apparently, if Hugh worked for him. So much of that conversation had been…weirdly cryptic, but Hugh had been right about the central proposition. Barry was unsatisfied with his life, and more hemmed in he felt–by Evan, by Dennis, by Richard now–

“Hey, Billy, right?”

He was startled up from his thought, looked up and saw Richard looming in the doorway of his cubicle. The meeting was over apparently–was this the first thing he’d thought to do? Hunt Barry down?

“Barry, actually.”

“Oh shoot, sorry man. Everything alright? You zipped out of there in a hurry.”

“Yeah, just the husband, you know. Everything sounds like an emergency to him.”

Richard laughed, “Yeah man, I get it. Hey, Evan told me that you were on the shortlist for the position, and I just wanted to let you know that he thought you would have been a great choice too, and he wants you to keep throwing your hat in the ring, alright? He just didn’t think that this position would be a better stepping stone for me, since we’re at the tail end of a project, about to ship. He knows that wouldn’t have been a challenge for you.”

Barry’s face was growing a bit heated. Evan thought so, huh? Then why wasn’t Evan here telling him this? Why send this cherub faced little shit to come apologize on his behalf? “Sure thing, I understand. Besides, you got the growing family to feed, right?” Barry said, stretching his mouth into something he hoped was a smile and not a sneer, and from the way Richard’s face lit up back, he must have managed well enough. They chatted a bit about Barry’s current duties, and then Richard moved on to the next member of the team.

That settled it, then. If nothing else, he would have his curiosity satisfied. If it was a service that could make his life better, than great. Why care that the info came from a drug dealer? He pulled out the card Hugh had given him on Friday–it was rather simple. All it had was a name, Ian Miller, the word “Broker” below it, and on the bottom of the card, a phone number. He picked up his phone, and gave the mysterious number a call.


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TPC – Chapter 1.8

Chapter 8 – Pigtown’s Shadow

Both Marlon and Jimmy had been reluctant when Kyle had suggested going out to a club that night. It wasn’t that they were bothered by the idea of going out, or drinking underage, it was that in their opinion, gay clubs were passé. Who went out to a club anymore? It seemed like such an anachronism. If you wanted to meet a guy, you got on tinder. If you wanted to get a drink or party, there were way more exciting places to do it than with a bunch of gay guys. But with enough badgering they relented, climbed into Jimmy’s car, and headed downtown to Depot.

But now, Jimmy and Marlon were converts. The sheer energy and vitality in the room was unlike anything they’d felt before, and by far, the strangest and most thrilling part was that in Depot they were normal. Growing up in the wealthy suburbs, going to wealthy schools, they were all part of the same upper class as the rest of their peers, and for the most part, the homophobia they’d faced was minimal in the liberal culture. But while they weren’t hated, they weren’t normal, either. They’d never really thought about all the ways they were constantly pressured to conform and tone themselves down, so that the people around them–the straight people–didn’t have reasons to be afraid of them. To hate them.

But here, they weren’t just normal, if anything, they were boring. The makeup, the bodies, the sex, all of it. The energy was infectious, and by the time last call came around, the two of them were amazed to discover that hours had passed and felt like no time at all. That, and Kyle was nowhere to be found. They checked their phone and found his message saying he’d gone home already, and they chuckled at that. The guy who had been so eager to come out had left early, and here they were, still having fun. 

In an effort to be responsible, Jimmy hadn’t had a drink since that first one, but Marlon had gone back to the bar for a few more as the night progressed. He wasn’t falling over wasted, but he was more than a bit drunk, enough that as they walked down the sidewalk towards where they’d parked the car, he was leaning on Jimmy for some support. It was cute, Jimmy thought. Looking around, the streets were emptier than he’d ever seen, and it was a little unnerving. As they got closer to the car, he also had the distinct sensation that something was watching them.

He paused, and Marlon almost fell over. “What’s up?”

Jimmy looked behind them, but there was no one there that he could see–but oddly enough, from the corner they’d come around, to a couple of yards away, all of the street lights had gone out. And not just the streetlights–every light on the street. About twenty yards away, everything just went completely black, which shouldn’t even be possible. There was still light around, after all–but it was like something was just absorbing all of it. As he stared into it, trying to look and see what might be in there, another street light flickered and went out, leaving just two between them and the void.

“Come on Jimmy, what’s up?”

“Doesn’t that seem strange to you?” he said, pointing into the darkness. “Those were all lit up a second ago.”

“Everything around here is falling apart man, it’s not that strange,” Marlon said. He tried to stand up on his own, but ended up stumbling over and leaning against the side of the building.

“Hello there, boys, how’s the night?” The voice came from the doorway not far from where Marlon was leaning. The space was dark, the same kind of shadowdark as the street they’d come from. A man in full black leather stepped out onto the sidewalk, the only bit of skin visible was the lower part of his face, and even that was obscured by a thick black beard. The band of his muir cap was pulled low, so his eyes were impossible to see. “You aren’t going home yet, are you? You know the night’s just getting started around here.”

“Actually, we are heading home, thanks,” Jimmy said, pulled Marlon over to him, and they kept walking down the street. As they passed under each street light ahead of them, it would flicker, and then go out as they crossed to the next. He looked behind them, but the man had slipped back into the darkness and was impossible to see. They were almost to the car, which was on the next block, and at least the guy seemed to be alone. But then, the light ahead of them flickered and went out leaving an empty hole in front of them. Jimmy pulled up short, but Marlon, whose head had been watching the sidewalk for cracks, stumbled on into the dark, and just…disappeared. 

Jimmy just waited, expecting him to come back out, but there was nothing. Not even the sound of his footsteps, or of him breathing. He stepped closer to the edge of the light, when he heard something behind him. Boots on pavement. The stranger stepped out of the shadow again, right on the edge of the light. “Where’s your friend, boy? Wasn’t he just here?”

“Dude, get the fuck away from me, alright?”

“He just stumbled into the darkness, didn’t he? He can’t be that far away. Go on, just take a little step–you aren’t afraid of the dark, are you?”

The man stepped closer, looming over him, the dark behind him, the man before him. He edged his foot back, but he couldn’t…feel the sidewalk there, in the dark. He felt like he was being pushed to the edge of a pit.

“Jimmy?”

It was Marlon’s voice, but it seemed so far away. “Jimmy, where are you?” he replied.

“Right here Jimmy, I’m at the car. Come on, Jimmy, let’s go home, you have the keys.”

Another moment, and maybe he would have stepped back, and found out what was in the dark. But instead, a bright beam of light cut through the dark behind the man, and he winced, visibly, as though the light had hurt him. 

“Fuck, is it another one of Shadow’s puppets? I thought we’d gotten them all!” someone shouted.

“He has someone cornered!” 

The man in the leather, glowered. “A pity,” he said, straightened his coat, stepped past Jimmy into the dark, and like a switch, all of the lights came back on up and down the street. He blinked, and saw a couple of men running towards him with flashlights, and coming closer, he saw they were police officers. “Fuck, it’s just a kid,” one of them said. 

Jimmy looked around for Marlon, but he wasn’t on the sidewalk. Looking further up, to the car, he wasn’t there either, that he could see. “M-Marlon?” he called out. “Marlon!”

“Hey, hey!” one of the officers grabbed him by the arm, and shone the light in his eyes. “What the fuck are you doing out here this time of night, kid?”

“I…My boyfriend and I, we were just going home!”

“What the fuck are you doing out here? God fucking damn it!”

“Give him a break Williams,” the other officer said, and pulled the other off him. Something seemed off about the two of them, somehow–they weren’t quite…right. They didn’t quite seem to have the build he would have expected from the police officers out in the suburbs. Their beards were longer and unkempt, their uniforms dirty and wrinkled. “Did you say your boyfriend?” the officer asked. 

“Yeah, he…he stepped into the dark, and…and now I don’t know where he is.”

“Into the dark?” the officer said, “What do you mean ‘into’?”

“It was the shadows, I don’t know. The guy wanted me to go in too, but then you showed up.”

“I didn’t think any of his puppets could do that,” the other officer said, looking around.

“What’s your name, kid?” the nicer officer asked.

“Jimmy.”

“Alright Jimmy, I need you to listen to me,” he said, and locked eyes with him. A sense of calm washed over him, and the only thing that was keeping him standing was the officer’s firm hand on his shoulder. “Is that your car over there, kid?”

Jimmy nodded.

“You’re going to walk straight there, Jimmy. You’re going to get in, and drive home. What’s your boyfriend’s name?”

“M-Marlon.”

“You let us take care of Marlon. You don’t need to worry about him. You don’t need to think about him for a while, or wonder where he is. The most important thing for you to do now, is to go home, and don’t come back here, for Christ’s sake kid. Stay the fuck out of Pigtown if you know what’s best for you.”

Jimmy nodded, the officer looked away, and gave him a little push towards his car. Jimmy did as the officer said, went right to his car–half expecting that Marlon might be inside waiting for him, but he wasn’t. He drove himself home, and found himself staring at every shadow he passed, but they were all empty ,and normal. Not like that strange, deep darkness. Still, he kept a lamp on next to his bed all night long, not that he slept much. He might not have been afraid of the dark before–but he was now.


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TPC: Chapter 1.7

Chapter 7 – Home Safe

The ride home was quiet. Dennis was driving, Barry was sitting in the passenger seat, and Kyle was in the back, slumped against the window, not quite sure whether he should be angry or terrified. Barry wasn’t quite sure what Dennis had in mind with this whole thing–was he really going to out the kid to his asshole father, just for wanting to get into a gay club? It seemed…cruel, but then, Dennis had always had a bit of a cruel streak in him. Barry had largely been able to avoid it, but his husband had never had much sympathy for gays who fell outside of the normal range of behavior that his rather conservative upbringing could tolerate. Assimilation or scorn were the choices, and Barry had chosen the first. He regretted it at times, but at least he was comfortable.

It took about half an hour to get out of the city and into the suburb where the three of them lived. It was an older subdivision, built in the early 90’s. The lots still had yards in the front and the back, rather than the strips of grass that passed for outdoor space in more modern construction, with your neighbor’s prying eyes six feet away from you next door. Barry expected him to drop Kyle off at his house, but they drove past it and arrived at their own, pulling into the driveway.

“So, do your parents know you were out tonight, or did you sneak out?”

“I…I told them I was over at a friend’s house for the evening. They don’t mind if I get back home late.”

“Look, I’m doing this for your own good, alright?” Dennis said, “I know that places like that seem fun, but trust me when I say, they’re dangerous–”

There was a light scoff that came from Barry at that, but Dennis ignored it, aside from a little pause.

“–Guys do a lot of drugs in places like that, and there are guys who will take advantage of you, alright?”

“I’m not a virgin, you know,” Kyle said, “I know what sex is, you don’t have to treat me like a kid.”

“You are a fucking kid though, and I know you don’t see that, but when you’re grown up, and have a job, you’ll understand that this was for the best, and I expect a thank you note when you get there.”

Kyle looked away at the window. “Are you gonna tell my dad?”

“It depends–”

“Of course we won’t.”

Dennis looked over at Barry, who was glaring at him from the passenger seat. “We’re not going to tell his dad, that’s fucking awful to even suggest it,” Barry said.

“Alright, I’m not going to tell your dad, this time, but you know what Kyle? You need to tell him. I know it’s scary, alright? My parents weren’t exactly the…most supportive people, of the lifestyle.”

“You didn’t come out to them until you were thirty, Dennis, stop making it sound like you’re some brave soul,” Barry said, and flipped around, “I don’t think there was anything wrong with you being there, I think you were right to get out of from under your parents thumb, and I don’t really think you should listen to Dennis on this one. Live your fucking life while you still can, alright Kyle? And if you go out again, and you get in trouble, then call us and we’ll come pick you up, alright?”

“Barry, that’s–”

“Let it go, Dennis, I think you got your little snitch high from this already, he’s scared enough. Go home Kyle.”

Sensing an opportunity to get away from this uncomfortable situation at last, Kyle nodded, thanked them for the ride home, and took off down the sidewalk at a quick stroll, leaving Barry and Dennis in the car, silent. Barry got out first, and went into the house, with Dennis following close behind. “Is there something you want to say to me?” he asked, “It seems like there’s something you’d like to talk about.”

“I can’t fucking believe you sometimes, you know that?” Barry said.

“What! He’s underage! He shouldn’t be in a place like that, and you know it.”

“Just because you were immature, and too scared to do anything fun when you were younger, doesn’t mean the rest of us weren’t willing to take a risk now and then. And threatening to out him to his father! What the fuck is wrong with you?”

“He’ll have to tell him at some point, he might as well rip the bandaid off now.”

“Brave words from you. Why didn’t you tell your parents, huh?”

“That was different, and you know it.”

“Why weren’t you brave, Dennis? Just rip the bandaid off, you know, it’s easy!” Barry said, cooing at him. “We both know full well why you didn’t, and you were right to not tell them until when you did. And Kyle is right for not telling them too! Why the fuck are you like this? Why are you such a fucking hypocrite?”

“Excuse me?”

“You think you know exactly what’s best for everyone else, all the fucking time, and you dole out all of this mealy-mouthed advice, which everyone knows you would never do in a million years. You’re a fucking coward, Dennis, and you want everyone else to do the work so you don’t have to change.”

“It’s called being an adult, Barry, maybe you should try it sometime. You act like a child, you know that? You’re almost forty for fuck’s sake, why can’t you act like it? You have a good time tonight, pretending you’re a cool kid again? Make you feel better about getting turned down for that amazing promotion yet again?”

“You know damn well why I got turned down.”

“It’s not because you’re gay, Barry. It’s because you’re unserious. Because you’re immature. You think you can go out and party and still be treated like an adult, well at some point, you’re going to have to grow the fuck up.”

“I can’t fucking deal with you sometimes!”

“Well we both know you’ll never leave, because as much as you want to be a little party whore, you want the nice house and the respectable life more, and you’re lucky I’m willing to put up with your shit to give it to you. We both know who pays the fucking mortgage, after all.”

Barry gave up at that point–as soon as Dennis brought up the bills, he knew he’d lost. It was his husband’s favorite point of leverage. Barry made good money, but he didn’t make money like Dennis did, and as much as Barry might resent him for it, he did like it. He liked being taken care of, he liked the comfort. He went upstairs to the bedroom, Dennis stayed down in the living room after getting a beer out of the fridge–most likely, he’d end up sleeping on the couch, which is what usually happened after one of their arguments. Come morning, neither of them would apologize, and they would just move on with their life together, pasting over their frustrations again, and again, because usually, things were fine. Usually. Barry found himself peeling back layers, unable to help himself, wondering how many times you could cover something up before it just came apart anyway.

He got out of his clothes and into bed without a shower, closed his eyes and thought about that pounding bass on the dance floor again, thought about being swept away. Thought about how he’d been too scared to do it, too old. He was getting old, he was getting fucking old! He hated that, he hated how it felt like he had wasted his youth trying to be a good gay, trying to be a smart, clever, business gay, and now here he was, stuck in a job he hated, with the ladder rapidly getting pulled up away from him. He’d been passed over for a promotion again, for someone younger than him, a good little straight boy, twenty-eight, with a wife and a kid on the way. He knew the reasoning. He had a family to support, after all. But Barry didn’t want a family, Barry just wanted to be respected. He wanted his work to be seen and appreciated. He wanted the money too, of course. But why had he worked so hard, and missed so much, if all he got for it was a boring office job as he just kept getting older, and older, and older.

He got up again, dug around in the pocket of his pants, and pulled the card out Hugh had given him. None of what Hugh had told him seemed possible. None of it had even made sense. If he told Dennis about it he would scoff at the fantasy, but after the argument, that just made it more appealing. Mostly he was tired. Tired of things being safe, tired of being bored. It couldn’t hurt to ask, right? 

TPC – Chapter 1.5

Chapter 5 – The Offer

Barry was panting and sweating through his shirt, trying to decide if he was having a good time or not. The beat of the music only seemed to be quickening, the crush of the bodies around him growing thicker with each moment. It had probably only been a few minutes ago when Samuel had been pulled away from him, but it felt like hours in the throng. Someone pushed up against him, looked down at him, placed two hands on the sides of his face, and kissed him, only to be whisked away by the current of bodies, and replaced by someone else. Why the fuck had he turned down Samuel’s offer of coke a moment before? Why had he thought this would be a good idea? He hadn’t been on a dance floor like this since his mid 20’s, not long after graduating from college, before the pace of work had decimated all nightlife for him aside from the occasional breeder dinner party with Dennis.

He knew from experience that the only way through was surrender. Just give in, forget everything else for a bit and just let the music and the vibe hold him. Each time he tried though, he lost it and just felt out of place and embarrassed. The crowd was well mixed, but he was still older than most of the guys there. He was out of shape, his knees were hurting. Somehow he was sure that Dennis was watching him, scoffing, thinking about what a fool he was being, and that was enough to make him push for the edge of the floor, stumble out of the mass and stand by a table, trying to not look as panicked as he looked around for his shirt and jacket, tugging them on before anyone could look and really see how out of shape he was.

The air was still too thick, the smell of sweat and everything else in the room overwhelming him. He pushed away, looking around for Dennis and an exit. He stumbled out a side door, and found himself in a small patio area where guys were smoking and chatting, or kissing and fucking off in the darker corners of the fenced area. At least the air was cooler, despite the smell of cigars that Barry had never really enjoyed.

“Having a good time?” a voice said.

Barry looked over, and sawt the dealer from before, who had sold Samuel the cocaine, smoking a cigarette. “It was Hugh, right?” Barry asked.

The man nodded. “Looks like you bit off a bit more than you were expecting. Need a bump?”

It sounded appealing, but despite wishing for it out on the floor, he no longer thought it would do much for him, and he shook his head. “I just haven’t been in a club in a while. I’m not quite the twink I like to think of myself as, you know?”

Hugh laughed, “Yeah, it’s a wild scene in there, but good for business. Hell, the whole district has really taken off in the last year. Crazy to think how many places were going under just a couple years ago, but everything is really getting revived. Some solid private investment, I’ve heard, but I don’t know that much about it, really. Here, can I get you another drink at least?”

“Just a water, thanks.”

“Suit yourself,” Hugh said, went over to the smaller bar out on the patio, and returned with a bottle of water that Barry guzzled down. “So, you two don’t seem like the usual types who come around here. That other guy, he your husband?”

Barry nodded. “Yeah, we don’t have much time for a nightlife. I was just trying to pin down when I’d last been in a place like this, and I think…it’s been most of a decade?”

“Work keeps you busy, huh?”

“Yeah. Dennis is a surgeon–joint replacements mostly. I work with CelTech, in their sales department.”

“Sounds dreary to me.”

It was a bit, but Barry didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of being right. Certainly after his time on the floor, he was almost looking forward to the simplicity and safety offered by his office come Monday.

“Have you ever considered giving it all up? Finding something a little closer to your passions?”

“Excuse me?”

“You have some valuable assets, Barry. They could be worth a lot of money to the right folks, and you could get yourself a life more in line with what you want–what you really want.”

Barry just stared at him. Was he really thinking about networking through a drug dealer, that he’d just met a few minutes ago? 

“Look, I’m just a connector. I connect people to things that they want. A lot of guys here, they want drugs, but I like to think that I can offer many things to many people.”

“And what do you charge for such a service?”

“Oh, I don’t get paid by you. I do receive a commission from the client if I bring them someone who goes through the process successfully, but I guarantee you, you’d get more out of it than me.”

Barry was saved from having to find out more, by Dennis pushing his way through the door and out onto the patio, dragging Kyle out with him. “There you are Barry, come on, it’s time to go.”

Barry looked from Dennis to Kyle and back, confused. “Uh, yeah, sure. Why…Kyle?”

“Hi Mr. Gershom.”

“You’re…oh, I see,” he said, looking back at Dennis. “What happened?”

“This young man got in here, underaged, and I suggested that he let us take him home, or else I’ll tell his father where he’s been sneaking off to.”

“Dennis let go, you have a deathgrip on him.”

Dennis looked over at Kyle, and let go of his wrist, a bit embarrassed. “Don’t go anywhere.”

“I’m fucking not, and you’re not my fucking parents anyway.”

Dennis held back an exasperated sigh, glad he’d never had to suffer through children at least. “Let’s just go home, alright?”

Barry nodded, and followed Dennis away, but not before Hugh pressed a business card into his hand. “If you need a contact, you know. There’s better lives out there, if you want them.”

He nodded, and left. Finding their way out of Depot was more difficult than getting in. Barry got the distinct impression, somehow, that the building didn’t want them to go, not yet. It was a silly sensation, but the pull and the flow of bodies, the positioning of walls, all of it made him feel a bit claustrophobic. In the end, they found their way out of the unmarked door and back onto the sidewalk. It was less busy, the city already beginning to turn in for the evening, but the guys who were still out were a little less friendly than Barry preferred. “Come on, let’s go find the car,” Dennis said, and led the way. Barry followed behind him, and Kyle lagged a bit further back, but wasn’t trying to ditch them. Barry wondered what he might say, to help. Looking at the young man’s face, it was a look he recognized–he was unhappy, and he wanted freedom, or something more free than what he had. He thought about telling Dennis they should let him go back, that he should have a chance to be young, and have fun, and feel like himself for a moment at least, but he didn’t. Dennis was right–he was too young to be out here, especially in a place like that. He felt like a snitch all the same, and while Dennis was happy in the role, Barry had always chafed under it, and he resented Dennis for putting him there. At least he’d had a little fun. He sent a text to Samuel explaining their sudden exit and thanking him for the evening, found their car, bundled in and headed home, to the suburbs.


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TPC – Chapter 1.4

Chapter 4 – The Crow’s Nest

Dennis was left behind, as he’d expected he would be. If you’d pinned him down on it, he would have even admitted that he wanted to be abandoned, that it would confirm for him that this was somewhere he didn’t belong, and where he didn’t want to be. He sighed–Barry had promised him one drink, but he could already tell that he’d have to drag him out of here in a couple of hours. He could be such a child.

He started looking for somewhere that he could wait, preferably somewhere quiet and away from the noise of the dance floor, but most of the nooks he found were largely taken up by guys in various states of making out or full blown sex. One thing was for sure, when he was out of here, he’d be dropping an anonymous tip to the liquor control board and the health department, because none of this was acceptable to him, and everyone here should be ashamed of themselves.

Dennis had grown up the son of two doctors, with well entrenched class interests that neither had done much to examine. Dennis’ homosexuality had been a minor wrench in their family, but quickly smoothed over. An anecdote, real or not, that Barry had heard many times at many dinner parties, was that his parents would have been more scandalized by him not going to medical school, than the fact he was gay. His parents’ orthodoxy hadn’t entirely rubbed off on him, but he’d imagined that the sort of debauchery all around him now was beneath gay men, as a culture. They could get married now! They were on TV all the time. This sort of thing just wasn’t necessary, or at the very least, could be kept more discrete. He found a set of stairs leading up. They weren’t cordoned off, but no one seemed to be on the upper level that he could see. On the stairs, someone had spray painted the words “Crow’s Nest” along with an arrow pointing up. A bit curious, he climbed them and found himself on a set of narrow walkways suspended over the warehouse floor. Entirely unsafe, and most certainly another violation of some sort. He’d always kind of enjoyed being a snitch.

The view gave him a good view of the place. There was the dance floor where he was sure Barry and Samuel were still satisfying some of their baser urges. He looked around for where the hell knew where that shady fucker and the meathead had gone, but soon lost interest. He polished off the beer, and set the can off in a little cubby on the wall, and leaned over the railing by the entrance to the bar, deciding to just spend his time looking at the flow of guys coming in, as something to do.

It was after about twenty minutes, when he was contemplating going down and beginning the process of extricating Barry from the place so they could go home, that he saw a trio of younger guys enter the bar. Obviously underage–not surprising, since the bouncer didn’t seem interested in checking ID. They were looking around nervously, tittering a bit and huddling together, before they headed for the bar to get a drink. As they passed under a light, though, Barry realized that he recognized one of them–Kyle Hendricks, a son of one of their neighbors, who they paid to watch their cat, Misty, while they were on vacation.

And so, the snitch in Dennis was torn. On one hand, he loved the idea of getting someone in trouble. On the other hand, Kyle was a good kid, and he’d always taken good care of their home and Misty for them. Besides that, there was the issue of Kyle’s father. It didn’t surprise Dennis to see Kyle here–Barry and him both had sussed out the teenager’s preference rather quickly after their initial introduction. What had concerned them both, though, was the cold treatment they’d gotten from Kyle’s father ever since they’d moved in. He seemed like a garden variety homophobe. He could tolerate Dennis and Barry in his neighborhood, because at least they were respectable, but Dennis didn’t think he would be as accommodating with his own son somehow. There was also the matter of what had happened last summer, but Dennis avoided thinking about that in the moment. What was there to tell anyway? He’d offered to pay Kyle in exchange for helping with cleaning out the garage. Sure, there had been some flirting, maybe. Just some play, really. But then Kyle had kissed him, and Dennis had kissed him back, nothing more, but he was thinking about it now, he knew better than to think about it. Best to bury things like that deep down, and never tell a soul. It was safer that way.

The three young men moved deeper into the bar, and other two kids started making out, while Kyle kept drinking–classic third wheel, then. Maybe he’d come along just to keep them company. Maybe he didn’t even want to be here. The two disappeared into the dance floor not long after that, leaving Kyle alone–and Dennis felt a certain camaraderie, having been abandoned in these sorts of places often, including tonight. If he went down, he could offer him an escape hatch at least. He’d probably be thankful for it. There was no way a good kid like him wanted to be somewhere like this. Kyle finished his beer, and Dennis thought he’d probably just be a good wall flower and stay put, but he didn’t. He was looking around at the other men around, then pushed off from the table, and headed towards…well, Dennis found his theory full of holes already.

Kyle slid closer to the object of interest, a leather clad bear smoking a cigar (indoor smoking, another violation) who was easily twice his age, if not more than that. Older than Dennis, surely. The man looked Kyle over and gave him a nod, the two of them started chatting, and it wasn’t long before the man slid an arm around him and pulled Kyle closer. Dennis wracked his head, trying to remember exactly how old Kyle was. He knew Kyle was eighteen (though he’d been seventeen the summer before, but Dennis definitely wasn’t thinking about that). He was too young to know what he was getting into, what this place was, who that man was and what he was into. Finally feeling a solid moral ground, he headed down to the main floor, and pushed towards the dance floor.

The club had been only moderately packed when they’d entered, and now was beginning to feel crushing. Dennis hadn’t been this close to so many men in a very long time, but rather than exciting, it was just frustrating him. By the time he’d reached the tables around the dance floor, he saw the bear and Kyle had moved from heavy petting to kissing. Dennis walked over, grabbed Kyle by the shoulder and hauled him away from the older man. “Kyle Hendricks, what the hell do you think you’re doing here?”

Kyle’s eyes went wide in the dark, and he tried to bolt, but Dennis kept a firm grip on his upper arm.

The bear got up, “Hey man, what’s the deal, this your boy or something?”

“He’s my neighbor, and he’s underage.”

The bear laughed, “Come on man, this is Pigtown–everyone who’s here belongs here, don’t you know that? The kid came onto me, anyway. I was gonna be gentle.”

Dennis gave the bear a glare, and pulled Kyle further away from him. Kyle was a scrawny kid, with long hair that tended to fall over his eyes, something he liked to hide behind. “If you bolt, I swear to God, I will tell your dad what you were doing tonight, and where you were doing it.”

Kyle’s eyes went from startled, to legitimate terror at the threat. “Mr. Case, you–he’d fucking kill me, come on, I just…my friends wanted to come out, and I…I didn’t really want to, I…”

“Yeah yeah, you just wanted to get all up in some leather bear’s grill, huh? I am going to firmly suggest that you are probably too young to know what you actually want.”

“I’m…I’m eighteen, it’s legal.”

“There’s a distinction between legal and right. Now, Barry and I are going to take you home, and if I catch wind of you doing anything like this again, I will have to make an issue of it with your father, do you understand?” He stood Kyle next to an empty table. “Now, I have to find Barry, and then we’re leaving. You do not take your hand off this table, do you understand me?”

Kyle nodded, and watched as Dennis slipped into the throng of bodies on the dance floor, looking for his husband, surprisingly satisfied to have both the moral high ground, and an indisputable reason to leave this place. Kyle heaved a sigh, trying to get his heart to stop pounding in his ears, and looked back over at the bear a few yards away. The leather bear was looking back at him, with a rather pitiful look, and that just made Kyle angrier. He hated pity. His friends pitied him, for his asshole family. He pitied himself, because he was scrawny. He’d been the one to suggest this place, anyway, not that Dennis needed to know that. He looked down at his hand, still on the table where Dennis had put it. He could let go–he knew that. He could go back over to that bear, he…he could say fuck it. Who cares if his Dad knew, anyway? He’d figure it out. But he didn’t pull his hand away–he just waited, feeling like the child he mostly was still, and hating himself for it. 

The bear just shrugged, and took another drag on his cigar. The boy would have to grow up sometime, after all. Besides, he was pretty sure he’d be seeing more of him soon enough.


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