This is Chapter Seven -- "Reynolds."
Go back to "Chapter Six -- The Bath House" the previous chapter in the series.
The other stories in the "Wayfarers" series.
Other recent stories in the "Queer Theories" series.
Features Brian Kinney, William Reynolds, Madame Heloise, Mae, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian meets a man at the Paradise Hotel. Pittsburgh, June 1843.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
Pittsburgh, June 1843.
"A woman's face with nature's own hand painted William Shakespeare, 'Sonnet 20'
Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion:
A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false woman's fashion;
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
A man in hue, all hues in his controlling,
Which steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth...."
William Shakespeare, 'Sonnet 20'
William Reynolds was a sporting man and a gambler. For many years he had traveled from city to city, living by his wits and his skill at cards and at that dubious profession he was a success.
No one knew his true name or from where he had originated. Sometimes he implied that he was from a fine old family in the Deep South, sometimes from a New York High Society background, and at other times from some ambiguous foreign land. He certainly was an educated fellow. He knew literature and history and could speak a number of languages enough to impress most Americans, who could barely talk decent English.
Reynolds was a tall man, dark-haired, with piercing blue eyes that brooked no nonsense. These steely eyes were often enough to stare a man down at the poker table and unnerve him so that he folded a good hand. Reynolds was also quite proficient with a gun. As a gambler, he had to be. Knowing when to draw a card and when to draw your revolver were things that kept a man alive on the riverboats and in the frontier towns along the Ohio and the Mississippi and up the Missouri Rivers. And Reynolds not only kept himself alive, he prospered.
Like most sporting men, Reynolds was a dandy. He liked fine clothes and he liked fine food and drink. He also appreciated a good woman -- but he gravitated to bad women much more often. When he had left his family and turned his back on their life, culture, and fortune, he had also turned his back on the conventions of Society and Religion and become not only a libertine, but a cynic as well. And other things, too. But those things were hardly even spoken of in the Underworld through which Reynolds moved with practiced ease.
Pittsburgh was but a way station for William Reynolds. It was neither rich enough nor diverting enough to keep his interest long. But it was a convenient place to board a riverboat for better places downstream. Cincinnati, St. Louis, New Orleans -- these were worthy destinations. But after a dusty, tiring journey by coach from Philadelphia, Pittsburgh was a place of respite. Reynolds had stopped there before, the last time three or four years back, and his prodigious memory had noted that the Paradise Hotel offered clean females, clean beds, and a cosmopolitan atmosphere -- or what passed for cosmopolitan in the wretched backwater that was Pittsburgh. The madam of the establishment was a Quebec woman passing for Parisian. That amused Reynolds. In the past he had enjoyed trading French quips with her.
Once ensconced in the Penn Hotel downtown, Reynolds booked his passage on 'La Belle Helene,' a decent boat leaving the city in four day's time. He could have left the next day on the 'River Mermaid,' but that tub looked bad and smelled worse, whereas he knew that the 'Helene' was honestly maintained. And Reynolds was in no hurry. After a good winter season in New York and Baltimore had left him flush with cash, Reynolds thought he would spend the summer exploring the upper reaches of the Mississippi and into the Missouri. New towns were springing up there and money was being made and Reynolds knew that he could easily get a piece of it from the locals wherever he landed. So Reynolds was planning to take his ease this summer and in the fall, when the weather changed, he would head South, avoiding the fever season in New Orleans and Savannah. Reynolds had made the mistake years before of coming into Louisiana too early and had barely survived a bout of malaria that still kicked up if he ventured into those parasite-ridden cesspools when the bugs were still biting.
Reynolds ate a bland meal at his hotel, read the local rag for any news, and then headed to the Paradise. He had heard in the hotel barroom that Madame Heloise was featuring a New Orleans girl, a dusky wench who knew a few interesting tricks. Of course, there where no new tricks as far as Reynolds was concerned, but he thought that a try at the mulatto whore might prime his jaded pump. And lately Reynolds was feeling decidedly jaded.
The Paradise Hotel was brightly lit and its front door stood open and welcoming. Reynolds greeted Madame Heloise in her native tongue, kissing her soft, plump hand, and pronouncing her name "Elwaz," in the French manner, much to her delight.
"Monsieur Reynolds, Mademoiselle Marie is occupied at this moment," Heloise apologized. "But if you would be so good as to enjoy the hospitality of our parlor? You may have a drink and a smoke -- and perhaps one of our other ladies might take your fancy?"
"It would be my pleasure to pass time in your gracious establishment, Madame," said Reynolds. Heloise was well pleased with the manners of this fine gentleman, although in truth such niceties and compliments were simply Reynolds' stock in trade. When so many men around him were oafs, to be a gentleman was one way of gaining a mark's trust and soothing the way to cleaning him out. Of course, Reynolds had no intention of plying his trade at the Paradise Hotel. There were plenty of poker games downriver. Tonight was for a little congenial companionship.
Madame Heloise passed off the new guest to a young blonde whore, Mae, who was seated in the parlor, and then excused herself for other pressing business. Mae immediately offered Reynolds a glass of wine and a cigar, which he gladly accepted. The girl was fresh and unmarked and ordinarily Reynolds would have been happy to have found such a beauty, but the evening was young and Reynolds was thinking of the New Orleans girl. And the Paradise was bustling, even though it was only a Tuesday night. Perhaps Pittsburgh was a more prosperous place than he had imagined.
Reynolds conversed with Mae while she refreshed his glass. Then another gentleman came down the stairs and stopped in the parlor for a drink before he went on his way. This man was well-dressed and smelled strongly of a flowery cologne unusual on men of these rough parts. While Mae poured the newcomer a glass of wine, the man looked at Reynolds with a meaning that was impossible to mistake. The fellow was perusing him! Looking him up and down, his eyes lingering on Reynolds' face and then casting down to glance at the fly of his trousers.
Many men would not have understood this jasper's implication, but Reynolds understood it. In fact, such urges had been a weakness of his since he was a young man. And although his relations were chiefly with females these days, that was more due to the dictates of Society, as well as the lack of opportunity in the circles in which Reynolds traveled. But what was the fellow doing here, in this house? Perhaps the same thing Reynolds was doing -- taking his satisfaction the best way he could. For prowling the docks or coaxing street urchins into alleys was not generally to Reynolds' liking. It was both distasteful and dangerous. Far better to stick to women.
The man smiled at Reynolds, but the gambler looked away pointedly. This fellow was ugly and it wasn't worth the trouble or the risk to follow him somewhere for 10 minutes of pleasure when he could have an hour or more with the sultry Marie. The man shrugged and finished his drink. Then he looked up. "Oh, Brian," he called, and went into the hallway and spoke to someone. Reynolds turned and saw him hand a coin to a slender figure in white. The person turned, soft brown hair brushing a lace collar, and then was gone into another room.
"Who was that?" Reynolds asked the young whore.
"That was Mr. Sykes," she replied. "He's a regular here. Works in dry goods. He always smells so nice!"
"No, my dear," said Reynolds, impatiently. "Not the client. The other person. In the hallway. Was that... a boy?"
Mae smiled. "Oh, that's Brian."
"Is he Madame's son?" asked Reynolds, puzzled.
"Well, Madame takes on over him enough so you'd think he was her boy! But he ain't really. He just works here," said Mae, relighting Reynolds' cigar, which had gone out.
Reynolds tilted his head. "In what capacity? Does he run errands?"
Now Mae laughed. "I forgot you was new in town, mister! Everybody who comes here knows Brian! He works here, same as me. And he's ever so popular."
Now Reynolds was astonished. "A boy? In this house? What's his age?"
"I'd say he's 13 or thereabouts. Two years below me. But he's been here for three years at least. He must have come after the last time you visited," said Mae, candidly.
"Yes, it must have been," said Reynolds, pondering this new development. "I'm quite interested to meet this popular lad. Would it be possible?"
"Sure!" Mae said. And then she yelled, "Brian! Come into the front parlor!"
The boy entered, grimacing. "If you holler like that Flora will take a switch to you. It's common!" And then he stopped and stared at Reynolds. "Sorry, sir, I didn't know there was a guest." The boy went over and pinched the girl. "Why are you yelling in front of a gentleman?"
"The fella wanted to take a look at you, that's why! You're a brat, Brian!" The girl answered. And she stuck out her tongue at him
"No, YOU are!" the boy rejoined.
"Excuse me, but if you would refill my sherry?" Reynolds interrupted. And the boy picked up the decanter and topped up the man's glass.
Now it was Reynolds' turn to do the perusing. And what he saw amazed him, for he had rarely seen such a beautiful boy. He was tall for his age, his torso and limbs long and slender, and his hands were clean and expressive as he poured the wine. His chestnut hair was well grown-out and unruly, which gave him a careless air. The boy kept reaching up and running his long fingers through the soft mop, pushing it back from his face. And that face was the most amazing thing of all. The straight nose, the full red lips, the cocky, pointed chin -- and the dark green eyes framed in thick black lashes. He looked like a Renaissance princeling or a Greek slaveboy in a painting. But his name and the hint of an accent in his speech told Reynolds what he truly was -- an Irish boy who had somehow found his way into this house.
"Are you waiting for Marie?" the boy asked, setting down the decanter.
"Yes, I am," answered Reynolds. Those dark green eyes had golden flecks all through them.
"You'll have quite a wait, then, sir. There are three others before you. They're in the back parlor playing cards." The boy looked at the blonde girl and raised one eyebrow. At the mention of cards, Reynolds perked up like a warhorse who hears a bugle. But he wasn't at the Paradise to play cards, he reminded himself. And that boy -- he couldn't stop gazing at him.
Mae regarded the boy with wide eyes. "Did Madame join the game?"
The boy shook his head. "Just watching. For now at least."
The blonde girl sniffed. "I remember what happened last time Madame got caught in a game! She lost her fancy Chinese brooch!"
"Well, Flora's standing by, giving her the Evil Eye, so that ought to keep her out of it," the boy said. He was speaking to the girl, but he was staring at Reynolds in much the way the flowery-scented man had stared. What WAS it that made a man of certain tastes recognize a like-minded comrade? Reynolds didn't know, but here it was again. The boy sensed the man's interest, his desire. The boy smiled and licked his lips seductively. His lips were unusually red.
Mae stood up and put her hands on her hips. "This gentleman came here for a LADY, Brian! So don't YOU be butting in!"
"I didn't say a thing, Miss Mae," Brian answered, batting his long black lashes. "Not one thing." And then he smiled at Reynolds again, looking up at him through those thick lashes. "And how do YOU know what the gentleman wants?"
Yes, thought Reynolds, how indeed? For the next thing he knew, he was on his way up the stairs, the boy leading him by the hand.
Reynolds was certainly no stranger to whores, male or female. In fact, he had visited a number of male brothels in New York and New Orleans, as well as an infamous molly house in London, England. But that had been years before when he was younger and more sexually adventurous. Still, on occasion he broke down and handed over a few coins to a messenger boy or apprentice lad to come to his room and suck him or pull his prick, but that was always a risky venture. So to find a young, clean, and exceedingly lovely boy in a reputable house in a godforsaken spot like Pittsburgh was nothing short of a miracle.
The boy opened the door to a small room and ushered Reynolds inside. He went to the table and turned up the oil lamp to shed some light on the premises. The place was almost painfully well-ordered. The bed was made, with the quilt smoothed and pillows plumped. On top of the dresser the boy's comb, brush, and small hand mirror were neatly arranged. On the wall the boy had pasted or tacked up cheap prints of celebrated racehorses, foreign scenes, and works of art, including the Florentine David in all his naked glory. And, to Reynolds' surprise, a stack of books sat on the table next to the lamp. A whore who read novels was a novelty even to the well-traveled William Reynolds.
"Do you want to sit or stretch out?" Brian asked, watching Reynolds glance curiously around the room. Brian thought the stranger was uncommonly handsome and polite. Some of his regulars were abrupt with the boy, even rude. But this man seemed interested in him, personally. When he looked at Brian, he really looked at him. And he smiled openly at the boy.
"I think I shall get comfortable first," answered the man, taking off his black frock coat. Brian thought it was a fine coat, made of quality broadcloth and very well-fashioned. The boy brushed it off with his hand and dutifully hung it on a hook on the wall. Reynolds loosened his cravat and then began unbuttoning his shirt. "Why don't you come and help me with this procedure?" the gambler suggested.
But the boy shrunk back. "What are you doing?" Brian asked, in some confusion.
"Getting undressed," Reynolds replied. He set his cravat on the dresser and slipped off his shirt, handing it to the boy, who only stood and stared at the garment.
"What for?" The boy's lips made a worried movement. Brian could not stop staring at the man's lean, hairy chest.
"What do you think?" Reynolds said, grinning. But then he saw that the boy wasn't joking. He was looking at the gambler in dismay. Reynolds softened his tone. "Hang up my shirt, Brian. That is your name, is it not?"
"Yes, sir," the boy replied, carefully hanging the shirt on another hook next to the coat.
"All right, Brian. What is the difficulty, then?" Reynolds sat down on the edge of the bed, watching the boy. He looked even more ethereal in the dim oil light than he had in the harsher brightness of Madame's parlor, his skin all white and gold and his hair with a touch of red fire in it.
Brian put his head down, unable to meet the man's eyes. "It's just... that nobody ever... what I mean is... a client comes in and sits himself down and takes out his peg and then I... I handle him. And then I do other things. And then the client tucks himself in and he pays his fee and he goes." Now the boy was turning bright red with humiliation. "Nobody ever took all their clothes off before. I mean... what for?" Brian looked up at the man, trying to understand what it was that he really wanted.
"Come over here, Brian," the man said, holding out his hand and pulling the boy over to him. "Do you mean to tell me that no man has ever done anything else? That you handle them and suck them and nothing more?"
The boy shrugged. "What else? Nobody ever asked for more. And nobody ever... ever got undressed... or...." And then he was silent. Because Brian couldn't take his eyes off the man's hard, bare torso. He could feel the heat of it. And he longed to run his hands over it, longed to feel the curly black nest of hair that covered the man's chest and twined around his nipples. Just the touch of the fellow's hand on his own was causing Brian to feel many pleasant sensations in his secret places of his body.
"Pull off my boots," said Reynolds, extending his left leg. And Brian pulled off one boot and then the other, along with his stockings. "Can you open up my trousers? I'm certain you know how to do that." Brian nodded and deftly undid the man's fly, reaching into his underdrawers for his cock. But Reynolds stayed his hand and, instead, slipped his trousers down and then his underdrawers until he was completely naked. As naked as the print of the statue that Brian often gazed at, but much more furry and colorful. And the man's peg was already standing firm. Yes, his peg was... something different altogether. "Have you never seen a cut prick before, Brian?" asked the man, amused. His prick often engendered this response.
The boy swallowed. "No, sir. Never. Does it... hurt like that?"
Reynolds smiled. "Not at all. That's a very special prick, just like the men of Olden Times had in the Bible. Do you know the Bible, Brian?"
"Not really, sir," Brian answered, wincing. "Madame used to take me with her to Mass, but the priest told her I wasn't welcome at the Sunday School. So she told the priest that he was a black-hearted pig and he told HER that we were all going to Hell. And so I don't know much Bible, sir. Although I read a little of it to Miss Cora some times because she doesn't know how to. But I don't understand much. The words are so strange."
"Do you read a lot, Brian?" Reynolds glanced over at the books on the desk. "Those novels?"
"When I can. And I read to the girls. Most of them can't read at all and so I read them the newspapers and 'The Ladies' Gazette.' And those books, mainly with love stories in them. I read the girls 'Evelina' last. That was a grand book! Before that I read them 'Northanger Abbey.'"
"Love stories and sensational trash are not fit reading for a growing boy!" Reynolds scoffed. "Those books are made for packs of weepy females. You need tales of men and adventure! Of war and great deeds! 'Robinson Crusoe' and 'Gulliver.' Or 'Tom Jones.' Or the plays and poems of William Shakespeare, the Immortal Bard of Avon! Have you read any of those, Brian?"
The boy looked at him honestly and directly. "I never heard of them, sir. Madame picks out the books for me at the lending library. She has a subscription."
"Brian Boru," mused Reynolds, half to himself.
"What, sir?" asked the boy at the sound of his own name. This gambler was certainly the oddest client that Brian had ever had.
"Brian Boru was an ancient king of Old Erin," Reynolds answered. "A warrior and a poet. Have you never heard of him, Brian? You were named for him."
"No, sir," the boy replied, seriously. "I was named for my grandfather. But he was dead before I was born. And he wasn't a king... at least I don't think he was."
And Reynolds laughed out loud. The gambler thought that he had never had such a strange conversation with a whore in his life, especially not when he was naked and hard. And yet, he was enjoying himself greatly. Enjoying himself in a way he had not for a long, long time.
Then Reynolds reached his hands up and ran them down the boy's slender form, feeling him shiver. He began to unbutton Brian's shirt. It was sewn of fine white lawn with lace trim and tiny shell buttons that almost evaded even the gambler's practiced hands The boy stood stock still and watched while Reynolds undressed him, finally slipping down his white britches and linen drawers to reveal a surprisingly long but not surprisingly perfect young cock, which was already rising to the occasion quite handily.
Brian looked down at his growing erection in amazement. He had never experienced anything quite like this in all his life. Sometimes when he was sucking a client he felt the urge to open his own pants and touch himself, but he knew that was not his place. Instead, he waited until the fellow had left and then he gave himself relief before he went back downstairs to wait for the next customer. Brian had played with himself many times and even fumbled around in Mae's bed, trying to understand what all the fuss was about. The girl had showed Brian what to do and he had performed as instructed, but he had not felt anything special. The touch of Mae's hand on his peg had not made him feel the way this stranger made him feel, like his limbs were all on fire.
Yes, thought Reynolds as he touched the boy's soft skin, this was better than walking away from the table with a year's stake in your hand. Finding this creature in such a place was indeed a miracle. A boy like this would be worth his weight in gold in New Orleans. And down in the Islands or South America -- why Reynolds could name any figure and be assured of obtaining it. And a practiced cocksucker to boot! And yet never breached, Reynolds was certain of that after their brief conversation. Why, selling THAT single commodity alone might keep a man in high style for months -- if the bidding were handled right.
Or, thought Reynolds, examining the goods before him, he could keep this for himself. All of it. The boy was bright, that was certain, and bold, yet with a hint of shyness that was like a tonic to Reynolds' jaded sensibilities. Not only was Brian a beauty, but he had a brain in his head. The gambler had enjoyed conversing with him about books, of all things! The boy was quick on the uptake. Very quick. There was no telling what he could learn -- or what Reynolds could teach him about all manner of things. And yet Reynolds had rarely felt his prick so hard. And he was in no hurry to spend himself. No hurry at all. Seeing what this boy was made of would be a pleasure to be well savored.
Reynolds pulled the boy against him and kissed him softly. Brian started. He wasn't expecting to be kissed, but he didn't draw away. No, he didn't draw away at all. Instead, he leaned into the gambler, placing his palms flat against the man's hairy chest, opening his mouth and allowing Reynolds' tongue to enter. Reynolds reached behind him and folded back the quilt on the bed, slipping under the spread and bringing the boy in with him. He eased Brian back against the pillow and began to kiss his way down the boy's golden body, enjoying the sound of his moans as he stroked the firm young cock until the head was completely exposed. And when Reynolds took Brian in his mouth the boy cried out and began bucking wildly.
"Calm down!" the man ordered gently, lifting his head. "Just lie still!"
"But... I'm supposed to do that to YOU!" the boy said, his face suffused with worry. "This is all confused!"
"You're supposed to do what the client wishes, isn't that so, Brian?" Reynolds reasoned.
"Then put yourself at ease. Because I'm doing exactly what I wish to do. And after I do this, then you can suck me. And then we shall see what else develops. And that is my wish. Never fear -- I have the money to pay for the entire night, if we need it. And more than that. Much more." The man paused. "Do you agree, Brian?"
Brian nodded. "Yes! I never felt such a thing before!" And he smiled shyly at the man who was providing such pleasure. "I knew it must feel good, because men like for me to do it them and they pay for it gladly. But I never thought that... that...." And the boy was lost for the words to describe what his body was feeling.
Yes, thought Reynolds, the men who would come to an establishment like this to be sucked off by a beautiful boy would not be likely to return the favor. They would spend themselves quickly and then retreat, little guessing what a banquet they were passing up. But Reynolds had no intention of bypassing a single course, even if it took him the entire time he was in this backwater burg.
"Then lie yourself back" Reynolds whispered. "Because you have not even begun to experience everything. This is only the start of it. So close your eyes."
And Brian closed his eyes and lost himself in sensations he had never known were within his young body. Lost himself in emotions he had never let himself imagine that he could possess. And he understood that nothing in his life would ever be the same again.
©Gaedhal, June 2003.
Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions. I welcome all of your comments on "Wayfarers." Without your feedback I don't know if you are enjoying this new series!
Posted June 7, 2003.