Richard slept through breakfast so John ate alone. He wanted to visit the monastery in Krem and attend a special organ concert at the church. He had hoped Richard would go with him. The 17,000 pipe organ reportedly made it the largest in the Germany. The simplicity of the monastery’s chapel and the glorious music filled the space and lifted John’s spirits. After the concert he walked around the quaint medieval old town and had coffee and pastry before returning to the ship. The day was a perfect fall day with the yellow leaves of the sycamore trees whispering before floating down to the pools and lawns. Richard was on the upper deck sketching Lars lying sleeping on a lounger. He waved and didn’t speak.
Within fifteen minutes the ship’s whistle blew three shot blasts and the boat and its passengers were on the way to Passau, Germany. Richard had Lars move from one position to another on the lounger. His drawing pencil was scratching feverishly across the pages. He didn’t smile as he concentrated. He finished, walked over to where John was sitting and smiled, “You missed a good time last night. We found an unbelievable bar with our kind of people.” John smiled up at Richard thinking his days of bar hoping were over. Without looking away from John’s face Richard added, “There was more leather and chains in that place than I have ever seen in Andersonville or anyplace.” Richard left the deck with his pad and pencils.
John stood quietly at the rail looking across the water. Stepping over Shawn piped up, “Have you seen Richard’s butt this morning? I can’t imagine how he can sit down.” John didn’t respond as Shawn walked over and sat on the lounger next to Lars. John stood watching the shadows move across the low hills along the river.
Walking toward their cabin John wondered what had happened to Richard’s butt. Once in the cabin hesitatingly, John got up his courage, “I understand from Shawn that you had an interesting time last night.”
He looked at me surprised, “Yeah, what did he tell you?”
“He told me he was surprised you could sit down and draw.”
“Well, he was right.” He stood up, turned his butt in John’s direction and pulled down his pants. His ass was rosy red but the skin wasn’t broken. “Would you put some lotion on my cheeks.” John reached for the bottle of lotion. He squirted an ample amount on his right hand and rubbed his hands together to warm the cream. Each hand went to a separate butt cheek. Richard winced as John let each hand slide down Richard’s downy butt crack. “Wonderful. Put on some more.” John repeated the process but this time he let his hands slip deeper into the crevice. Richard’s moaning suggested that he was enjoying the massage.
Richard turned away pulling his dick into his shorts before fastening his belt. He said, “John, I will probably go with Lars and Shawn to the Amsterdam Leather Pride after we finish the cruise. It starts a couple of days after we get to Nuremburg.” John had no interest in a leather event but couldn’t stop Richard from going. He tried to act pleased for Richard but he was really mad that Richard would be so cavalier about leaving him.
John said, “What about your flying and school?”
“I’m not scheduled to fly until November 1. I will miss a couple of classes but that’s not a problem. The leather festival ends on October 29. You can come if you want to.” His words were not convincing.
“That’s not my thing, but I’m thinking of going to Berlin since we’re so close.”
“We’ll get back to Chicago about the same time.” The ship slipped silently past river cottages and mature fields of corn ready for harvesting. As evening approached the four guys sat at the upper deck bar watching the sun set. Richard was the first to speak as the sun slipped behind a craggy mountain. “Tomorrow, if the weather is perfect like today, I want to sketch us nude.”
Shawn snapped, “Where can we do that?
Richard answered, “In most cities and towns in Germany there is, at least, one city park where you can sunbath naked. Passau’s major park for that is called Lake Oberilzmill about a mile from where we dock. I suggest we take a taxi early.”
Lars jumped in, “Fine with me. Why don’t we stop and buy wine, cheese, and bread for our lunch.”
There was a communal “That’s great.”
Shawn’s tone was unsure. “Can I wear my leather jock? I am not sure I am ready to be completely exposed.”
“You didn’t seem to have any problem the last night at the club.”
“That was different.”
The group was in a taxi at 10am and stopped to buy lunch supplies at a quaint grocery enclave. Lars bought two types of hard bread. Shawn went to the shop next door to buy ham and two different types of hard cheese. John went with Richard to buy wine and water with gas. In fifteen minutes the group was back in the taxi and on the way to the park. The dew was almost gone from the grass. Lars spoke to the taxi driver in German and arranged for him for a pickup at one o’clock because the ship was scheduled to sail at two. The driver agreed since he got a good tip which he didn’t expect. As we walked into the park Richard was concentrating on finding places to draw. He stopped at a concrete bench where the sun was filtering through the leaves. He directed Lars to undress below the belt but leave his shirt on. Lars quickly and nonchalantly complied as Richard opened his sketch pad. His pencil started flying across the page. Occasionally, he would rub his finger on one aspect of the picture or another.
Shawn still dressed laid on towels from the ship. The sun moved overhead and the temperature rose. John undressed to his boxers and Shawn did the same. Richard turned to a new page. He said to Lars, “Take off your shirt and stand up.” Lars did as directed but his dick was extending. He didn’t seem to notice or care. His action caused me to have the same reaction as I looked at Lars’ tall, thin, blond body. He casually brushed his hand down his middle as his dick slapped against his stomach. “Look away from me,” was Richard’s next order.
Richard finished the Lar’s sketch and turned. “You guys aren’t ready. Get naked. Hurry. There isn’t much time.” John did as he was told. Shawn pulled his pants down to reveal his black leather jock strap. “John, lay back and Shawn put your head on John’s stomach.” After one drawing, which took Richard quite a while to complete, he said to Shawn, “Get on your knees as if you are ready to kiss John. Point your butt in my direction.”
“I don’t want my asshole in your picture.”
“Please do as I ask, the sun is perfect.” Shawn did as directed and Richard sketched but his frowning face showed he was having difficulty getting what he wanted. Lars watched Richard finish the sketch and then quietly reclined. Richard finished his drawing of the two of them as Lars was opening the bags holding the food and drink.
Richard said, “John your turn. Lean over the edge of the bench.” Richard sketched feverishly and finally said, “I like it. OK, enough, thanks guys. I got some great drawings.”
The group ravenously devoured the cheese and bread and drank the wine. The bottle of water went unopened. The three guys looked over Richard’s shoulder as he flipped from page to page. John definitely didn’t like the way he was drawn but didn’t say anything. Richard said, “Guys, sit still I want to work on details of eyes, fingers and dicks. Don’t move much.” He sat in front of Lars and sketched looking directly at his inflated dick. On the same page he sketched Lar’s facial features and finally he frowned as he tried to get Lar’s fingers the way he wanted them. As one o’clock approached people were jumping into the lake so the group decided to do the same before the taxi returned.
The taxi wasn’t at the pickup point at one o’clock. The group nervously waited five or ten minutes before deciding to walk since there was time to make the sailing time of two o’clock. The group hadn’t gone fifty yards when honking was heard and the taxi arrived. The driver apologized to Lars who explained that he got caught behind a traffic accident. The ship pulled away at two headed for Regenburg with a planned arrival before midnight.
The morning tours were scheduled in that picturesque, medieval city. Lars, Shawn and John were Richard’s models for his camera but this time with their clothes on. He photographed in front of fountains, at sidewalk cafes and in ancient courtyards. Late morning the conversation turned to their planned rail trip to Amsterdam from Nuremberg. Back in their stateroom John asked Richard about leather costumes for Amsterdam. Richard modeled his leather harness with metal cock ring for a surprised John. He mentioned that Lars had plenty of extra things for him to wear. When he finished modeling he opened the door of the French doors and stood looking at the emerald green hills dotted with reds and yellows of fall.
During the night John felt Richard’s hand on his chest then his butt. Richard continued rubbing his hands over John’s smooth butt cheeks. John was pleased but nothing further happened. That was their last night together because Richard, Lars and Shawn left the ship midday to catch an Amsterdam bound train. John said “Goodbye,” as they got into a taxi for the train station. He stood waving and hoping that when they got home their intimacy would be more than simply Richard’s hands rubbing over his butt.
Richard sent a message thanking John for the trip. He acknowledged that he, Lars and Shawn were having fun. John acknowledged the message but didn’t comment on the picture Richard attached.
John didn’t see Richard for almost a month after they returned to Chicago. Richard’s drawn window shades suggested he wasn’t sketching at home. With no firm job offer John busied himself doing research for a gay love story he was having trouble starting. John continued his regular workouts at the gym. One afternoon he was in the bar where they originally. Richard walked in. He said, “I saw you turn in so decided to talk to you personally rather than call.”
“I want to thank you again for taking me on the cruise. It was a really fun time and I got some fantastic sketches of the three of you.”
“Did you share them with your instructor?”
“She was impressed and so was the entire class. She put some sketches up on an easel so the others could look at my technique.” He paused as if trying to decide what to say next.
“You’ve been flying?”
“Yes, a lot. I picked up some extra flights. Amsterdam was expensive.”
Jokingly I said, “Your butt survived?”
“Untouched, as a matter of fact. But, god, the drugs.” He paused, “I tried a lot of stuff. I’m glad that’s over. I want to show you the sketches that I showed to my instructor.” Again he paused, “John, do you think I could move in with you.” I screwed up my face and he got a worried look, “My roommate bailed to move in with some chick. I can’t afford to keep the place myself. The place needs a lot of work that our landlord won’t do.”
“You know my place is pretty small and the second bedroom isn’t very big. Where will you keep your art supplies?”
“At school. I kept them at my place because it was convenient. I didn’t need to.” He tried hard to convince John who couldn’t quite decide. He added, “I like you.”
“Well, I like you, too. But I never considered you living with me. Let me think about it. I like my private space.”
“You wouldn’t lose your privacy because I’m gone a lot, you know. You can continue to run around naked. You know that doesn’t bother me.”
“Well, since you’ve been away I have been thinking that I should look for another partner. I really don’t like being alone. I was thinking that person would be more my own age.”
“If you find someone I’ll be happy to move out. I know when we were on the ship I liked touching you in bed. Maybe we could try more than touching.”
“I’m willing to consider it. Come over for dinner and let’s discuss the details.” They agreed that the following Wednesday when Richard was back from a three day trip that he would come over. As usual John was scurrying around cleaning, getting groceries and preparing Wednesday morning when he got a text from Richard announcing that he had a bad cold and wanted to reschedule. John was disappointed but not surprised. Richard’s text suggested the following Tuesday.
The following Tuesday John really didn’t have to do much because he used the pasta sauce he had prepared the week before. He made a fresh salad, new spaghetti and had the unopened bottle of red wine. When Richard arrived he looked pale and his eyes were blood shot. He said, “John, I apologize about last week but I was so down. I’m on the mend, I think. I still have a nasty cough.”
“Are you taking vitamins? You don’t look like you are over whatever you had. Do you mind if I put my hand on your forehead?” He nodded as John reached out his hand to rest his palm on Richard’s forehead. John knew Richard definitely had a temperature. “Have you been taking aspirin?”
“Are you allergic to them?”
“No, I take them occasionally when I have a headache.”
“I’ll get you a couple and we will eat a little so your stomach won’t get upset. Have you been eating regularly?”
“Haven’t been hungry.”
“I thought so. We’ll have a little pasta. No wine. Then go in my bedroom and lie down.”
“I’ve got to get back to my place and pack. I’ve got to be out by Saturday.”
“Did you get sick after Amsterdam?”
“If you’re asking did I have anal sex? I did but only with Lars and Shawn. I took Prep just in case. Truthfully there were many other things in my butt over there. It was stupid. Do you think I got infected with something?”
“Maybe. I think you may need a shot of penicillin to get the bug.”
“If I go to the employee health they’ll ground me until I’m over whatever it is I have.”
“You can call my doctor. Or I’ll call him.”
“I don’t think I can have penicillin. I’m allergic, I think.”
“There are substitutes like tetracycline. You need to get rid of the bug.”
“OK, call your doctor tomorrow. Also, can you help me move out on Saturday? I’ve got to be out.”
“We never agreed you were moving in here.”
“I know. But maybe I could stay for a few days until I’m better. I’m so tired. I’ll go lie down.”
“I’ll clean up the dishes and come in to check on you.” He slowly got up and wavered as if he was going to fall. He managed to slowly step toward the bedroom. John busied himself clearing the table and cleaning up the kitchen. When he went into the bedroom Richard was sound asleep under the covers. John didn’t want to disturb him; pulled a blanket and pillow from the closet; and went back into the living room to sleep on the couch.
Before it was light Richard was in the bathroom showering. He came into the living room and in the dim light John could see he wasn’t steady. “What are you doing?”
“I’ve got check-in at 9am for my flight.”
“Let me feel your head.” I reached out my hand and without question he still had a fever. “I don’t think you should go. Let me call you in sick.”
“They get so pissed when someone calls this late.”
“Man, you’re sick. Be smart and let me call.”
“OK, let me get you the telephone number and my employee number which they will ask for.” He came back with a slip of paper, handed it to John, and returned to bed. John called the number at United and reported that Richard was too ill to fly. At 6:30am he decided not to go back to sleep. He busied himself making coffee and having his regular oatmeal with raisins while reading the news on his tablet.
At nine John called his doctor whose office was in the South Loop. The receptionist said unless it was an emergency the doctor’s schedule was full. Since Richard was a new patient the doctor would want to do a complete physical check up. John assured her Richard had insurance and urged her to find an opening. John was concerned Richard’s infection might get worse. The receptionist was hardly sympathetic. When Richard awoke after ten John told him about his interaction with the doctor’s assistant and insisted that they go to Elk Grove Village to see the employee health doctor. Richard was reluctant but agreed he had to do something since he felt so miserable.
After his visit with the employee health doctor Richard was more relaxed. The doctor did give him tetracycline orally. He fell asleep as John drove back into the city. When they got to John’s building Richard said he was going back to his bed. John said sharply, “No you’re not. I’ll go over to your place and get what you need,” After he unlocked his door and led Richard to the bedroom John realized he had never been in Richard’s place. Before getting into bed Richard handed him his apartment key and asked him to bring his tooth brush. He put his head on the pillow and seemed to be asleep instantly.
John went over after stopping at the Jewel where he bought food for several days. Once he put groceries away he was ready to go to Richard’s. Richard came into the main room naked as he slept except he had a hardon in the afternoon. He smiled, “Got any orange juice. I’m so thirsty.” John poured him a glass.
“Some. Have you been over to my place?”
“Not yet. I was just getting ready to go. Do you need something?”
“Yeah, I need you to bring my toilettes bag. My medicine is in there.”
“You’re on Prep?”
“That plus my inhaler. I have asthma. I never get too far away from my inhaler.”
When John opened his apartment door it was clear Richard was not ready to move out. His roommate’s bedroom was cleared out but Richard’s room, which could be seen from across the street, was a cluttered mess. John wondered what it would be like living with Richard on a daily basis. He decided he would have to set some rules. A pile of boxes in the front room suggested Richard was preparing to move out. John picked up the things Richard requested and returned to his condo. He looked in his bedroom and Richard was sound asleep.
John called John or Kevin’s cell number to see if they could help him move Richard’s things. There was too much for him do it himself. After the first ring he heard, “Hello,” in Kevin’s heavy Asian accent. After telling Kevin who was calling John asked him if he could help move Richard’s things across the street. There was silence which John initially took as a rejection. Then Kevin quietly said, “John is teaching today.” Not knowing where to take the conversation John thanked him and was ready to hang up. Slowly Kevin said, “I’ll call one of my student assistants to see if he can help us. Do you want to move now?”
“Yes,” Richard’s lease is up and he is quite sick. He is sleeping in my condo.”
“Let me call my assistant? Should we come to your condo?”
“Yes, as soon as you can.”
About an hour later there was a buzz which John answered. When he opened the door John found three people. Standing slightly behind Kevin was a stocky white guy in cutoff jeans and a paint stained tee shirt and next to him was a younger Asian man who had a bodybuilder physique. Kevin said, “This is Roger,” pointing at the white fellow. “This is Jimmy. They’re my assistants in the shop. We’re ready.”
The four men made quick work of packing up the apartment. They moved clothes, art stuff and a few kitchen implements – a blender and a food processor. John rolled one suitcase full of clothes and returned to help with the remaining boxes. There were questions about what stayed. John told them he would bring Richard over later. Richard was awake sitting in his running shorts on the sofa when the boxes arrived. The guys piled the boxes in the second bedroom. They came into the living room. He said, “Thanks guys, I really appreciate you helping me out. I’ll buy you a drink in a couple of days when I get back on my feet.” They smiled and by the look on Jimmy’s face he was more interested in Richard than the drink. Kevin pushed them toward the door and they were gone.
“Want something to eat?”
“Maybe later. I’m going back to bed. I’m not sleepy but just so tired.” He rose and took his toilette bag from the breakfast bar. He slowly opened it and took out an orange pill bottle. He dropped one of the pills in his hand. After swallowing it with a sip from his water glass he took the inhaler and shoved it up one nostril and then the other. He immediately started to revive. He turned and walked toward the bedroom. His arm motioned suggested that John follow him.
After he got into bed John sat on the side of the bed. Richard said, “John, thank you. I want you to sleep here tonight not the couch. I’ll sleep there.”
“No you won’t. You’ll sleep right where you are. I’ll sleep with you. You’re not contagious.”
“Deal. Thanks for bringing my stuff.”
“We have to go over because there were several things we didn’t know if they were yours. Can you call your landlord?”
Richard reached for his I-phone and located her number. John phoned and could hear the buzzing before a voice message came on. When it finished he said, “Ms. Martin, this is Richard in 2-A. I have moved out but I didn’t quite finish. I will get the last of my things tomorrow morning and clean the place. Call if there is a problem. Thanks.”