Chapter 4 - Hold Overs
Later that day, Ted located Justin in the apartment above the club. The younger man was making a cup of tea and having some lunch when the club manager knocked at the door. Justin didn’t know anyone in these parts and no one in Illinois knew exactly where he was yet, so he found it strange that someone was at his door.
He felt a small amount of trepidation as he padded over to the large metal door, wishing for the sidearm he no longer carried. Rising up on his tip toes he quietly peered through the small peephole installed in the sliding metal door. Justin felt instant relief when he recognized Mr. Schmidt on the other side. He unlocked and slid open the door with a soft clack.
“Hey, Mr. Schmidt, come on in,” Justin said with a warm but nervous smile. “I was just having a little lunch, would you care to join me?”
“No, no. I’ve already eaten. I have some tasks which need to be completed and need to discuss them with you.” Mr. Schmidt, stated.
Justin closed the door and escorted Ted over to the table where his lunch awaited. Once they were both seated, Justin asked, “So, what needs to be done?”
“Well, Brian . . . Mr. Kinney, needs some work done at Britin, his home in West Virginia. He’s asked that I approach you with his needs. Mr. Kinney is willing to pay extra for your services in his home.”
At this point in the conversation, Justin started to wonder exactly what kind of services Mr. Kinney had in mind. Again, he thought to himself, there were some services he would be glad to supply free of charge. Regardless of what the task entailed, Justin would do as he was asked without question; anything to keep him from looking back and dwelling on the past. If his hands and body were busy then his mind would remain quiet and he could thankfully have some sense of mental normalcy.
Ted handed Justin a handwritten note with the address and instructions on how to get to Britin. The handwriting was done in a strong, masculine hand. In addition to the directions, there was a personal note from, Mr. Kinney with a quoted fee for services. Mr. Kinney would meet Justin at his home this afternoon at 2:00.
“I’d be happy to oblige Mr. Kinney’s requests, Sir,” Justin stated at once with only a bit of hesitation. “It may take me some while to get there though. I might not make it by two since I’ll have to walk or take the bus, Sir.”
“Oh, right . . . I forgot about that, Justin,” Ted was quick to reassure the younger man. “Tell you what, I need to take some documents out to the house for Brian’s signature anyway, how about I give you a ride?”
“That would definitely work, Sir,” Justin replied with a self-deprecating little smile. “I can be ready in about ten minutes if that would work for you.” And, in very little time, the two men were seated in Ted’s comfortable Lexus sedan heading out of town in the direction of Brian’s estate.
“Thanks again for the lift, Mr. Schmidt.”
Ted looked over at the young troubled soul, briefly casting a small smile in his direction.
“No thanks are necessary, Justin, and please call me Ted.”
Justin nodded in acknowledgement and settled back into his seat, letting the soft music in the background soothe his fractured mind. Between the calming music and the motion of the car, Justin was lulled into a fitful sleep.
It started out as another ordinary Sunday afternoon of patrolling, replenishing supplies, and doing a thorough PMCS of the operational vehicles that were located in the motorpool. Justin and two of his fellow comrades were just heading on patrol in one of the residential areas, throwing miscellaneous fare out into the dirt roads in gestures of good faith. When American military personnel were about, Iraqi children came out of the woodwork because of the sweets they were sure to appropriate. Justin and the two young Marines accompanying him happened upon a little Iraqi girl of about nine or ten. She wore a tattered, flimsy white dress, her long black hair was pulled back into a braided ponytail, and the dirt that covered her face hid her beauty in an unsettling way. As was military law, they kept the mandated distance allowed between themselves and the young waif, but the more they maneuvered, the closer she would come. Finally, as they were coming to the end of their route the young girl ran toward them at full speed.
That was the first and last word Justin and his men would hear the girl speak, she had just been used as a human sacrificial bomb. Unfortunately not only had the bomb taken the life of the young girl, one of his men was injured in the back blast. Justin rushed to his side and quickly applied a field dressing to the injured man’s wound to keep him from bleeding out. When he realized that his attempts to stop the flow of blood were futile at best, he did the only thing he could in this situation and shouted for help.
“MEDIC! MEDIC! . . .”
As Ted drove, softly humming to the music, he saw in his peripheral vision Justin’s body tensing, his hands clenched into fists in his lap. The restless young man started to shout for a medic. Not knowing what to do, Ted pulled the car over to the side of the road as Justin’s shouting became louder, more urgent. He began to shake, sweat beading his face, eyes moving rapidly under the lids. Obviously, Justin was in the grip of a nightmare, or worse yet, a memory of his past experience in the military.
As terrifying as this display was, Ted calmed himself, thinking that this might be PTSD since Justin had not too long ago left the Marines. He had read that during an episode, you should never touch the person, so he decided to try calling Justin’s name to snap him out of it.
“JUSTIN! JUSTIN!” Ted, shouted. Ted continued to shout Justin’s name. Eventually it must have gotten through to the boy, because all of a sudden he stiffened and his eyes opened wide.
At first, Justin looked scared and a bit confused. He lifted his shaking hands to wipe the cold sweat of fear from his face.
“Justin . . . Are you with me?” Ted asked, softly.
Justin turned to look at the older man, mortification clear on his face. “Yeah. I’m here . . .” Consciously trying to slow his breathing, Justin sat up straighter in the passenger side seat and gave the man sitting next to him an embarrassed smile. “Sorry about that, Mr. Sch . . . Ted. I’m . . . I’m fine now. You didn’t have to stop driving for me. We can go on now.”
“You might be fine, but I’m still scared out of my pants, Justin,” Ted tried to joke but noticed pretty quickly that Justin wasn’t amused. Clearing his throat, Ted put the car back into gear and headed back onto the road. “So, does that happen a lot?” he couldn’t help asking.
The last thing Justin wanted to do was talk about this shit, but he felt obligated to give some response. “Well, its nothing a lifetime of therapy and a truckload of drugs won’t make slightly more bearable . . ."
Ted laughed on cue, but without any real humor. “Well, for what it’s worth, I know a thing or two about having some skeletons in your closet. So if you ever feel like you need to talk, I make a pretty decent listener.”
Justin quietly nodded but didn’t say anything more. It wasn’t something you could talk to just anybody with. This was something Justin didn’t even talk to most of his battle buddies about. With them there was no need to say much - if you’d lived through it, you just knew and there wasn’t much point in gabbing about it. But how could anyone who hadn’t been there begin to comprehend what he’d experienced? No, Justin wasn’t likely to open up to Ted Schmidt no matter how genial a man his new boss was.
Before the silence could grow too heavy, though, Ted pulled the car off the main road and started up a long gravel drive heading towards a large Tudor-style building. “We’re here. Welcome to Britin Estate,” Ted announced.
“Wow, this place is really . . . humongous,” Justin said in awe. “How many families live here?”
“It’s only Brian, his son and Debbie,” Ted answered as he pulled the car up to the front door and put it into park. “Yeah, everybody agrees that it’s way too big for just the three of them. Brian inherited Britin from his step-brother, Ben. I guess it had been in Ben’s family for generations. But, since Ben died, Brian has been holed up out here like a hermit almost. We haven’t seen him at Kinnetik for months, and if it weren’t for the endless stream of crises we’ve had lately at Babylon, I probably wouldn’t see him there either,” Ted said as he unlatched his seat belt and started to get out of the car.
Before shutting the car door, though, Ted leaned his head back inside and added with a wink, “but, you didn’t hear any of that from me. I never gossip about the boss.”
Justin chuckled as he got out on the other side of the car. As Justin closed the car door, he heard the sound of a child’s laughter and the yipping of a young pup. He turned around and saw Gus and JB tearing around the far corner of the building. Both the young boy and dog stopped for a brief moment and spotted Justin standing by the car. As one, Gus and JB made a direct trajectory for Justin at top speed. Justin braced himself for the inevitable impact the gregarious twosome would inflict on his body. JB arrived on the scene first, trying to skid to a halt but sliding through the gravel of the driveway and barrelling painfully into Justin’s shins. Gus was only about ten seconds behind his dog, but his center of gravity was a lot higher and he was much less agile, which meant that he caroomed directly into Justin’s stomach without losing much momentum. Justin managed to wrap his arms around to protect the child, but the two of them still toppled over into a heap, with JB jumping joyously on top of the pile.
“Seems like you always fall for Kinney men?” Justin heard the drawling voice a moment later, while he was still trying to disentangle himself from dog and child.
“Yeah, it sure seems that way, Mr. Kinney,” Justin grinned infectiously up at the beautiful brunet towering over him.
Brian bent over to help sort out the pile of arms and legs. He managed to snag Gus out of the confusion and tossed his son up into the air, catching him in his arms with a chuckle that matched Gus’ more immature giggle. The blond was still rolling on the ground playing with the big black puppy with an adorable grin on his handsome face. Brian immediately retracted that mental statement and deleted the word ‘adorable’ out of fear of turning into a sentimental dickless fag. But, he really couldn’t find a better word to fit the picture, so he just let the idea fade away.
“Please don’t call me Mr. Kinney. I’d prefer ‘Brian’. Welcome to Britin,” Brian snarked, as he watched Justin climb back to his feet and set the puppy on his paws. “JB, come.” The exuberant pup gave Justin one last lick on the face and bounded to his lord and mini master.
“Normally, I wouldn’t expect an employee from one of my businesses to work at my residence, but the handyman I usually employ is currently unavailable and I need some work done that just can’t wait.” Brian stated. Brian then led Justin toward the rear of the expansive estate. “I will, of course, pay you extra for any time you spend here on top of your salary at Babylon.”
“The stables and horses within need to be taken care of until I can find regular help. I am willing to assist when I am at home, but I still need someone available to take care of them when I am at work.” Brian mentioned matter of factly. “There’s also a few repairs needed in the stables, if you have the time. I’m afraid that this place needs a lot more work than I can handle alone.”
“Not a problem, Mr. Kin . . . Brian. I’ve always been pretty good with my hands,” Justin offered, completely innocently, not even thinking about how his words would have a double meaning.
Brian, maybe not so innocently, caught on to the double entendre right away and blinked at the twinkling blue eyes that were looking at him so guilelessly. “I’m sure you are, Justin. Well, if you’ll follow me I’ll show you what needs to be done.” Brian gestured towards a large out-structure a few meters away. “Gus, please take JB back into the house and keep him there. I’m sure Debbie wants you to get cleaned up for lunch anyway.”
Gus turned to his father with pleading eyes, not quite ready to leave him in the hands of this strange man. Even at his tender age, Gus felt very protective of Brian. He could see how lonely and sad his father would get sometimes, and frankly, he didn’t trust that this Justin guy wasn’t here to hurt Brian more. “Dad, I’m not hungry right now. Can’t I stay with you a little longer please? I promise not to complain when it’s time to go to bed tonight.”
“Gus! Don’t argue with me. Please. Just take JB and go up to the house,” Brian insisted. When his son continued to dally, he ordered more brusquely, “now, Gus!”
The youth shuffled his feet in the loose gravel of the roadway but didn’t dare to talk back to his father when he used that tone. He reluctantly grabbed hold of JB’s collar and dragged the energetic puppy away, heading back up towards the main house. Gus looked back over his shoulder repeatedly as he shambled along, still distrustful of this new person.
“Gus is a little wary of strangers these days,” Brian hesitantly explained to Justin as soon as Gus was out of hearing range. “He was very close to my brother, Ben . . .”
Justin remembered the brief comment Ted had made earlier in the car. “Your brother died recently?”
“Yeah . . . well, not that recently. Ben was killed in the line of duty in Iraq about eight months ago,” Brian turned away from Justin while he explained, uncomfortable with the path the discussion had taken. “He never finished his second tour of duty.’
Talking about Ben made Brian incredibly uncomfortable. It felt to Brian like he was giving away parts of his brother’s memory. The memories he had of Ben were his and his alone. Brian wasn’t about to go into intricate detail about Ben’s time in the service or any other part of his life for that matter, especially with his ‘hired help’. Justin might have limited insight in regards to the layout of his personal grounds, but that didn’t give him a pass to dig into Brian’s private affairs; whether it was intentional or not. Brian didn’t trust what someone like Justin would do with such information, especially since the circumstances of Ben’s death hadn’t yet been determined. The term ‘friendly fire’ kept echoing hollowly through Brian’s mind. How was Brian to know that Justin wouldn’t run back to some trigger happy military official with some axe to grind? Brian didn’t have any reason yet to trust this man, so he wasn’t about to go detailing his family’s history.
“Anyway, that’s neither here nor there . . . This is what I need you to do,” Brian proceeded to list the chores he wanted Justin to complete. “I’ll be up at the house if you need anything,” Brian muttered as he walked away towards Britin.
Justin was a little unsettled by the abrupt way that Brian had changed the topic of the conversation. He’d thought that the Marine connection with his brother would have brought them closer. Instead, it seemed to have pulled Brian farther away from him. Justin was still searching for a way to initiate the conversation about Brian’s picture, but it would have to wait for the appropriate moment. This wasn’t the most opportune time.
“Yes, Sir. I’ll get right on that, Sir,” Justin confirmed as soon as he’d heard the list of jobs Brian needed seen to.
Justin turned towards the stables to get started, unaware that he was being watched by small pairs of boy and puppy dog eyes.
As Justin proceeded with the stable chores, Gus and JB decided to make an appearance. They stealthily - as stealthy as a small boy and puppy could move - found their way into the barn. They found Justin mucking out the stalls and occasionally rubbing the velvety noses of the horses being stabled. He seemed to have an affinity with animals and they with him. The horses were calm and loved the attention being bestowed them.
Justin knew that someone had entered the stables. He could tell that they were trying to be quiet but it wasn’t working out so well. He could hear a young voice hushing the great dane pup beyond his field of vision.
“Gus, didn’t your father instruct you to go into the house?” asked Justin as he turned in the general direction from which he heard the sounds of boy and dog coming.
After a bit of a pause, he got his answer. “Yeah, but JB and I wanted to see what you were doing with the horses. They sure do seem to like you,” enthused Gus with his happy tail-wagging pup.
“Animals and I definitely have a fondness for one another. When I was in the service I helped to train very special dogs - bomb sniffing dogs. I can help train JB if you would like, and if you have the approval of your dad of course.” Justin said, hoping to have an excuse to spend more time around his angel and his son.
Gus was so excited about the prospect that he agreed to talk to his dad about Justin training JB and ran off, with the mutt hot on his trail, to ask his father about it.
Justin went back to mucking out the stables, talking quietly and rubbing the horses’ noses as he went.
Soon after Gus came back inside, Brian decided to take a walk to the stables to see how things were going. Brian entered quietly and could hear a soft cooing voice. As he approached the sound, he discovered Justin talking to one of the more feisty stallions in a soft, calming voice as he gently rubbed the velvety nose with one hand and down the neck with the other. Watching Justin serenade this lusty beast into acquiescence was surprisingly arousing. The blond’s voice and actions felt like an emotional and physical caress along Brian’s flesh. The very timber of Justin’s voice talking to the horses made him hard.
Brian shook his head to clear his mind of the lust filled thoughts he was having about his temporary stable hand. As quickly and quietly as he could he left and returned to the main house. Brian walked in to find Gus and JB engrossed in a rousing game of fetch (with indoor friendly balls of course) and immediately went into the master bedroom, stripped down, lubed up his hand and was jerking off to the memory of the sight and sound of the blond crooning to the horses. And within only a few minutes, Brian was releasing his newfound lust as he laid back in his extra-large, custom made, orgy-sized bed in satiated bliss.
Somehow, though, he knew it wouldn’t be enough.