Note: Prostitution is legal in Germany and the caravan park on the Eifeltor road outside Cologne does in fact exist.
There was a depressing universality to bars, Sean thought. It didn’t matter which city in what remote corner of the world you were in, there was always a sympathetic bartender with world-weary eyes listening to people’s troubles, a couple of silent drunks sitting at either end of the counter staring morosely into their glasses, a couple of noisy drunks trying to pick a fight with anyone who looked cross-eyed at them, and last but not least there was him, Sean, the observer, taking it all in and wondering what the fuck he was doing there and how his life could have gone so thoroughly into the toilet.
He was currently nursing his second Scotch and soda. Two was his limit. Any more and all he’d be fit for was heaving up his guts and wishing he’d never been born. On second thought, strike that last bit, Sean decided. He was already wishing he’d never been born. The heaving was simply an extra-added attraction.
Sean turned his drink on the bar, morosely watching the amber liquid swirl around the bottom as if to echo the conversation swirling on either side of him. His schoolboy German was sufficient to make himself understood here in Cologne, but his comprehension wasn’t that great. It didn’t matter, though. Unlike the bartender, he wasn’t getting paid to hear other people’s troubles. He had enough of his own: a dead-end job as a west coast sales rep for a medical equipment company trying to break into the German market, and a recently concluded and very acrimonious divorce.
He was tired of thinking about his troubles, tired of feeling like a loser. In fact, he was just plain sick and tired. What he could use, Sean thought, was a good screw. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had sex with anything but his hand. How pathetic was that? In fact, he couldn’t think of anything he’d rather do right now than lose himself in some mindless, meaningless fuck, bury himself in soft wet warmth. Get his rocks off and then sleep as he hadn’t been able to do for months. Man, now that would be sheer bliss.
“Hey, Sean ol’ buddy!” A hand clapped him on the shoulder in friendly greeting, and then the owner of said hand slid onto the stool next to him.
Oh hell. It was Bob Dolan, a mid-west rep for the same company who was partnered with Sean at the firm’s booth in the Cologne Convention Center. Bob, balding, 40-ish and fair, was a ‘hale fellow well met’ type and a born salesman. He also suffered from diarrhea of the mouth, and listening to his bombastic bullshit had grown very old very quickly. The last thing on earth Sean needed was to spend his evenings with him, too. It was hard enough to drum up the necessary enthusiasm for pimping glucose meters and holter monitors to German doctors as it was. If he couldn’t have a respite from the particular hell that was Bob Dolan for a few hours, he’d never make it through the remaining three days of the five-day expo.
“Hey Bob,” Sean replied with a decided lack of enthusiasm. Fuck it all, he shouldn’t have opted for the hotel bar. The Hyatt was just on the other side of the Rhine - he could easily have walked into the city center and visited one of the brewpubs to try the Kölsch beer that everyone raved about. If he wasn’t a burned out, jaded, middle-aged fart, that is, too apathetic to enjoy being in this beautiful historic city for the first time. Sadly Sean reflected that he hadn’t used to be like this, until life snuck up and knocked the stuffing out of him.
“So why the glum face, my friend?” Bob asked, and then answered his own question. He was big on doing that. “Yeah, our sales numbers today were kinda disappointing, but ‘never say die’, that’s our motto, right?”
Yeah, right, Sean thought as Bob, in execrable German, ordered a beer. He rather snidely hoped that the bartender misunderstood and brought him some frilly ladies’ drink with a pink umbrella instead.
Once Bob had latched onto Sean, he stuck like a tick. A tick with a compulsive talking problem. Eventually, carrying their unfinished drinks (Bob did get his beer), they moved from the bar to the Glashaus restaurant. The stunning view of the Cologne Cathedral on the other side of the Rhine almost compensated for the company. Over oxtail soup and sea bass with artichokes, Sean half-listened as Bob rattled on about his wife and two kids, his in-laws and his home improvement projects. Hell, even the family dog wasn’t neglected. But was it really necessary, Sean wondered sourly, for Bob to describe the consistency of their Golden Retriever’s bowel movement after he ate a pound of chocolate covered almonds?
The only solace Sean could get from the situation was that Bob didn’t seem to require much by way of answer. An occasional grunt of acknowledgement was all that was required. He was his own best audience.
The interminable meal finally wound to a close. After paying his share of the bill, Sean was about to plead exhaustion so he could escape to his room, but to his surprise Bob said as pocketed his wallet, “Well, I hate to eat and run, ol’ buddy, but I’ve got plans for the rest of the evening.”
“You do?” Despite himself, Sean was curious. Neither of them had been to Cologne before, and he wondered what kind of plans Bob could have.
“Yup. A sweet trip to a caravan of love,” Bob said, drawing out the ‘o’ so that it came out as ‘luhhhhve’.
Sean didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. “A what?”
Bob chuckled as if amused by Sean’s ignorance. “Prostituierte, Sean. They’re legal in Germany.”
Sean wondered if he’d heard him correctly or if it was the man’s execrable German misleading him again. “Prostitutes?”
“You got it. Let me tell you, ol' buddy, it sure as heck pays to do your research ahead of time. Found out there’s a caravan park on the Eifeltor road. That’s where the whores set up shop. I was there last night as a matter of fact.” He flapped his hand in front of his face as if trying to cool himself down. “Woo-whee! Just thinking about it makes me horny as a goat.”
Sean’s growing dislike of his companion morphed into flat-out disgust. “In case it slipped your mind, you’re married, Bob,” he pointed out, tight-lipped. He might have a failed marriage to his credit, but he’d been faithful to his wife while it lasted. Too bad she hadn’t been, although with hindsight it was hard to blame her.
“What Kerrie don’t know won’t hurt her,” Bob said with a shrug. “And I have needs she can’t satisfy. But there’s a hot little number with the biggest, bluest eyes I’ve ever seen who sure can. Sent me straight to heaven and back again.” He paused, and gave Sean a sly look. “If you’re interested, you can come along with me, have a bang when I’m done. You’ll sleep like a baby afterward, I guarantee.”
Did he look as wrung out as he felt? “Thanks, but I’m not interested,” Sean said, more than a bit queasy at the thought of sharing a prostitute with Bob.
“You don’t know what you’re missing. But if you change your mind, the caravan you want is the small green one in the fourth row, second from the end. 20 Euros and cheap at the price.” With an airy wave, Bob strode off whistling. Sean watched him go with relief.
Instead of returning to his hotel room, Sean went outside for a walk. Hands in pockets, he strolled along, taking in the sights, the great cathedral glowing amber against the night sky, the colorful lights and cheerful music from the passenger-filled cruise ships passing to and fro on the Rhine.
He tried not to think of Bob inside a caravan having sex with a prostitute, but he couldn’t seem to put it from his mind. Unwillingly, the thought he’d had earlier when sitting at the bar returned, that he could use a good fuck so he could sleep, deeply and dreamlessly. Prostitution was legal here and controlled, even taxed. He’d read about it in a magazine.
Why not, then? a voice whispered in his mind. You can rent a car tomorrow, drive out there, have that mindless, meaningless fuck you need. You’re not married anymore so it’s not cheating. Go ahead and treat yourself. Only 20 Euros to be sent to heaven and back.
No way, he thought. I’m not having my first sex since the divorce with a prostitute, legal or not. He pushed the idea away from him, walked and walked and walked some more, until by the time he returned to the Hyatt it was just before midnight and he was practically staggering with exhaustion.
He fell into his bed fully clothed and immediately into sleep as if drugged. When the wake up call came six hours later, he bolted out of bed like a 100-meter sprinter when the starter’s gun went off, and stumbled to the bathroom, trying to ignore a hard-on that was the result of a vivid, intensely erotic dream. It was tempting to take himself in hand and bring matters to their inevitable conclusion, but he didn’t. This was a battle he’d fought before, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.
As a consequence, despite the fact he was on his third cup of coffee Sean was surly as a grizzly bear with a toothache when Bob showed up at the convention center.
“Good morning, ol’ buddy,” Bob said with a broad, beaming smile that made Sean want to throttle him with his bare hands. “Ain’t it a glooo-rious morning?”
Sean simply grunted and continued logging into the company’s ordering system on the laptop he’d brought with him.
“Uh-oh, looks like someone got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Not yours truly. Nope, Bob Dolan slept like a babe.” He winked.
Bully for Bob Dolan, thought Sean, his fingers itching to latch around that prominent Adam’s apple and squeeze. He had a pet peeve about people who referred to themselves in the third person. He grunted again.
“You should have come with me, Sean,” Bob said, wagging his head side to side. “Now, I don’t like to go saying ‘I told you so’ but... I told you so.” And he laughed uproariously at his own wit.
Matters only improved from there because the packed exhibit hall and long lines at their booth offered little time or opportunity for Sean to dwell on his unhappiness or his dislike, or perhaps loathing was a better word, of his companion. As the day wound to a close, Sean began rehearsing excuses to get out of having dinner with Bob again, but it proved unnecessary.
“Much as I’d love to join you for dinner again, ol’ buddy,” Bob said, as if last night had somehow been Sean’s idea, “I’m taking one of those Rhine dinner cruises. Of course, you’re welcome to join me if you like.”
Not that he liked or would have said yes even if the entirety of hell froze over, but Sean had a distinct impression that the offer was insincere. Maybe Bob had a hot date. Sean had noticed him chatting up an attractive brunette doctor with more than his typical garrulousness. And after all, Sean thought with disgust, what Bob’s wife didn’t know couldn’t hurt her, right?
“Sorry, but I’ve got other plans,” Sean lied. “Thanks for the invite, though.”
“No prob.” Definitely that was relief on Bob’s doughy face. “See ya tomorrow, partner.”
“Can’t wait,” Sean muttered under his breath. But with the next breath, as if the thought had been lurking, waiting to crawl out from the darkness, it occurred to him that Bob wouldn’t be visiting the ‘caravan of love’ tonight, not if he was off cruising the Rhine with the attractive brunette. There’s a hot little number with the biggest, bluest eyes I’ve ever seen... Sent me straight to heaven and back again… You’ll sleep like a baby afterward, I guarantee.
Temptation ate at him, the worm in the apple of self-respect. I don’t care if it’s legal, I’m not visiting a fucking hooker.
Inquiring at the reception desk about a car rental didn’t mean anything. Renting the car didn’t mean anything. Why shouldn’t he take a drive and explore the countryside? He might never have the opportunity again. So what if he checked the road map provided by the rental company and found the Eifeltor road? It didn’t mean anything. He’d just drive by the caravan park out of curiosity to see what organized, legalized prostitution looked like.
He tried to keep up the pretense even as his palms sweated on the steering wheel and his gut churned and the 20 Euro note he’d taken from his wallet practically burned a hole in his back pocket. That didn’t mean anything either. He might want to stop for a snack while he was out, maybe some ice cream, and it was only sensible to have some cash close at hand.
The first glimpse of a white trailer parked in a wooded lot set his hands to shaking and his heart gave a sickening thud. “I’m not doing this, I’m not doing this, I’m not doing this,” he half-chanted under his breath even as he slowed the car, put on his indicator and turned into the lot. I’ll just take a look, that’s all, he told himself. Out of curiosity.
He parked the car, shut off the engine and sat there, studying the scene. Caravans of varying sizes and colors were parked in long rows front to back. Strands of multi-colored lights adorned most of them, and some had doors wide open and blinds or curtains drawn back to reveal vases of flowers in the window. Lounging in the doorways or by the windows were women dressed in tight-fitting, revealing clothes and with their faces heavily made up. It was clear they were putting themselves on display. Other caravans were shut up tight, presumably, Sean thought, because they were occupied.
He was staggered by the number of men he saw coming and going: young, old, and every age in between. His was but one of at least thirty cars parked beneath the trees in the deepening dusk. Even as he watched, a caravan door opened and a well-dressed man in a beige linen suit stepped down. He was zipping his fly and adjusting himself as he walked back to his car.
Still telling himself that he wasn’t doing this, Sean unfastened his seat belt, climbed out of the car and locked it. He moved toward the lines of caravans, trying not to look at the other men around him, trying desperately to cling to the delusion that he was a curiosity seeker only, that he wouldn’t be stepping out a door a short time from now, zipping his fly like the guy in the linen suit. What was it Bob had said? A small blue caravan – at the end of the second row? He thought that was it. But his brain was fuzzy, a strange buzzing sound making it difficult to concentrate.
His feet began carrying him across the cracked macadam until he reached the second row and turned down it. He passed caravan after caravan, and then there it was: a small blue caravan parked at the end of the row. The door was open and the long window on the side had the curtain drawn back, although there was no vase of flowers on display and no multi-colored lights were strung along the caravan side above it. She was available then, the prostitute with the big blue eyes who had sent Bob to heaven and back. Not that it mattered, he’d seen what he’d come to see. He could leave now.
But he remained where he was.
The ghost of last night’s dream rose up to taunt him. That’s when Sean stopped kidding himself that he was here for any other reason than to have mindless, meaningless sex with a prostitute.
I am doing this. I have to.
He had no idea what the etiquette here was, if there was any, and the woman wasn’t visible in the window so he could attract her attention. But there were other means. Determinedly, he strode up to the caravan door and rapped on the aluminum frame of the screen with his knuckles. Should he wait for an invitation, or just barge on in? Afraid that he might lose his shaky nerve, Sean didn’t wait, but mounted the steps.
The interior of the caravan was dimly lit, but it was bright enough to make out the rumpled bed at the far end. Sean barely noticed the rest of the décor as his eyes searched for the caravan’s occupant. She didn’t appear to be in residence.
“Hallo, ist da jemand?” he said uncertainly. “Hallo?”
He heard a toilet flush and then the sound of running water. She was here then. He felt vaguely sick and wondered if he should escape while he still could. Before he could move, however, a small door on the right opened, and a figure stepped out.
Sean stared in astonishment. It was not a woman, but a man. A young man dressed in faded jeans and a white tee shirt. His feet were bare and his dark hair disordered.
He struggled to gather his wits and his scanty German. “Wer sind Sie?” he asked foolishly, and was mortified that he’d walked in on the hooker’s current customer. She was probably still in the bathroom. Maybe that’s where they had… oh god. I should run, Sean thought, but his feet seemed glued to the carpet.
The young man was staring back at him, his eyes wide with surprise. He had very large and very, very blue eyes – the bluest Sean had ever seen. Time seemed to stutter and stop as they stared at each other. No one else emerged from the bathroom, and suddenly the truth struck Sean like a blow – this wasn’t a customer, this was the hooker with the big blue eyes, the one who’d sent Bob to heaven and back, who’d satisfied urges Bob’s wife couldn’t.
He recalled the sly look Bob had given him and went icy cold. Bob knew. How? No one had ever guessed Sean’s secret. Hell, he’d barely admitted it to himself, had fought against it tooth and nail, denied it in every conceivable way, except in sleep, in the erotic dreams that left him hard and aching and sometimes unable to stop himself from yielding to their allure.
“I’m sorry,” the young man said in a soft mid-western American accent. “I’m afraid my German isn’t very good.” He wrinkled his brow. “Sprechen Sie Englisch?” he asked in a halting voice.
It was another shock. He was American? Yet somehow that was insignificant next to the staggering knowledge that Bob Dolan, of all people, had plumbed Sean’s deepest, darkest secret. It scared the fuck out of him. Could everyone see it then?
“Look, this was a mistake,” Sean burst out, panic swamping him. “I shouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have come if I’d known – I mean, Jesus, I thought you were a woman. I had no idea that men worked here, too. Bob didn’t tell me you were a man.” The fucking scarier thing was how badly he wanted to stay. Years of repressed longing surged up inside him, clawed at him, demanding to be set free.
It was too much. Tears suddenly spurted from his eyes as if a faucet had been turned on. Sean sank onto the banquette behind him, defeated. “I can’t do this anymore,” he said in broken whisper. “I can’t pretend anymore. I’m so miserable, so fucking, fucking miserable.” He rested his forehead in his hands. “I’m sorry,” he muttered thickly. “You must think I’m insane.”
“No, it’s okay.” The thick foam cushion shifted slightly, sinking beneath the weight of the young man, who had sat down beside him. An arm came around his shoulders, strong and supportive. He wanted to lean into its sinewy strength; he wanted to be held as he’d never before been held: in a man’s embrace. A sob escaped him and the tears fell faster.
“You sound like you’re going through some kind of crisis and you could use someone to talk to.” The young man’s voice was sympathetic. “You want to tell me about it?” he invited.
Sean had never talked to anyone about his suspicion that he was homosexual. How could he, when he wouldn’t even admit it to himself? “I… I…” He struggled to draw breath, as if all the air had been sucked out of the trailer. His lungs hurt.
“You know, sometimes it’s easier to tell things to a stranger, to someone who won’t judge you.”
The inherent truth in that dislodged some obstruction in Sean’s chest. He could breathe again. He gathered all his resolve and finally said the words aloud: “I’m gay.”
“Is this the first time you’ve told anyone?” the young man asked. Sean nodded, and the arm around him tightened briefly. “That was brave of you.”
“I’m not brave. I’m a coward.” It all came out then, gushing out in a torrent of words as unstoppable as the bursting of a dam. The stern, authoritarian father, the deeply religious background, the uneasy sense that he’d always been different, the weight of traditional expectations, and the marriage to his high school sweetheart that inexplicably turned sour. Inexplicably, that is, until the day he was browsing in a bookstore and came across a coffee table book with a stunning black and white photograph on the cover of two men embracing. As if compelled, he’d picked up the book and begun leafing through it, and every photo of men kissing and caressing, or entwined in a lovers’ embrace, rubbing silk-clad cocks together, cried out to him with its perfect rightness. He’d set the book down, turned away from the message it carried - this is who you are and what you want - but he’d been unable to shake the erotic images from his mind – or the message.
“I’m scared,” he confessed in a hoarse voice. “And I’m tired. I’m so tired of fighting the truth and pretending to be something I’m not. I came here to screw a hooker, to prove to myself that I’m not gay. But Bob… somehow he knew what I really wanted. It can’t be coincidence that he sent me to you.” He drew another shuddering breath and scrubbed at his stinging eyes.
The arm around him tensed then relaxed. “What is it you want?” the young man asked.
“I want to feel,” Sean said. “I’ve been numb for so long. I want to feel what it’s like. I want to know.” He huffed a laugh devoid of humor. “And then I want to sleep without dreaming and not wake up scared shitless by my dreams. I can’t remember the last time I did that.”
A pair of warm hands cupped his face and gently but insistently turned his head to the right. Sean stared into those blue, blue eyes, and discovered nothing but sympathy and understanding in their depths.
His father would have screamed ‘blasphemy’ at him, but he was reminded of being in the church confessional and unburdening himself to one who could give him absolution. Only instead of breathing incense he breathed musk-soap-sweat radiating from the firm body pressed against his side, and he wouldn’t have to recite ‘Hail Marys’ and ‘Our Fathers’ after he left and repent his sin. Here in this caravan to reveal his true self was no sin.
Sean opened his mouth to speak, to thank him, but the young man shook his head. Without a word, he tilted his head slightly to one side then leaned in and kissed Sean, softly, softly. At the first touch of his lips - dry, warm, untouched by gloss or lipstick - a shudder ran through Sean a second time, but this time it was a shudder of sweet-sharp-hunger, piercing him to his very soul. The kiss was brief, a few seconds at most, but shattering in its effect, like a hammer striking brittle ice.
The young man pulled away and smiled faintly as Sean involuntarily licked his lips. “Lie back,” he directed Sean, shifting his hands in a light caress downward to Sean’s shoulders and pushing him back against the banquette cushions with the same gentle insistence.
Sean obeyed, lying back and closing his eyes. His skin felt fever-tight, his heart thrummed, and heat rose inside him, sending out spiraling tendrils of warmth before sweeping suddenly down as if at some silent command to pool in his groin.
He heard a click as the door to the caravan closed then a rattle as the curtain was drawn across the window. It grew quiet, the sounds of traffic and voices muffled, and when nothing further happened, Sean, unable to bear the suspense, opened his eyes. The young man was looking down at him, his expression unreadable.
“I don’t know your name.” Sean couldn’t allow whatever was going to happen to happen in total anonymity.
“My name’s Elijah,” he said.
Elijah knelt before Sean, set a hand on his right knee. “Just relax, Sean,” he said, and started moving it in a soothing circular motion. It had the precisely opposite effect, for never in his life had Sean ever been so aware of a single point on his body, as if Elijah’s touch was a high-powered laser burning straight through the tan fabric. “Let me take care of you.”
The banquette was just deep enough that the edge met the backs of his knees. Instinctively, without needing Elijah to tell him, he spread his legs wider in unspoken invitation. Elijah smiled again and moved closer. He ran his hands up the inside of Sean’s thighs to their juncture, where already a growing bulge was pushing out the zipper of the khakis. He traced the line of the zipper with a forefinger, pressing lightly on Sean’s cock pulsing beneath it, and Sean let out a strangled gasp. Oh god, oh god. He feared he might come right there and then from the intensity of the sensation.
“Shhh, relax,” Elijah said again. His hands moved to Sean’s brown leather belt and unbuckled it. Then he grasped the zipper pull and tugged it down in one smooth motion. The rasp of the zipper seemed disproportionately loud, a sensual music drowning out the pulse thundering in Sean’s ears. “Lift your hips.” Blindly, Sean obeyed, digging his heels into the foot of the banquette to give him leverage and arching upward. Elijah pulled his trousers and boxers part way down, over his hips and buttocks, but no further, just far enough to give him access to what sprang eagerly out to greet him.
Sean’s cock was flushed bright red and more fully erect than it had ever been for any woman – and Elijah hadn’t even touched him yet. “Please.” He was almost sobbing again, wanting that touch more than he’d wanted anything in his life. When it came, when Elijah wrapped his fingers around him and stroked, he did sob – but for happiness. He couldn’t take his eyes from the sight of a man’s hand encircling his cock; it was a revelation.
Then Elijah angled his cock downward, and bent his head. As supple lips stretched to encompass him, Sean cried out, not only from the stimulation of sensitive nerve endings, but from the exaltation of his soul. It was so right, so fucking right and so very beautiful.
His first time being pleasured by another man, and Sean wanted to freeze-frame time so he could play each second back at will, relive every life-altering moment and savor each detail, like the faint hint of beard that shadowed Elijah’s clear-cut jaw line and the masculine squareness of his hands, one holding his cock firmly at the base, the other splayed across his bare hip, little finger stroking along the crease of his thigh.
But the intensity was too blinding, the hunger too all-consuming to allow for that, and Sean moaned as Elijah hollowed his cheeks and sucked hard on the crown then relaxed and laved it with his tongue, licking along the slit. He continued alternating sucking and licking, and again Sean moaned, and again and again, his fingers grappling for purchase in the slippery orange polyester fabric that covered the banquette. The sweetness of the desire that licked through him with tongues of white-hot flame was so piercing, it was almost pain.
Time began to rush headlong in a kaleidoscopic blur of colors and sensations. Dimly Sean was aware of Elijah bobbing his head, taking his cock deeper and deeper into the silken-hot furnace of his mouth, and of his hand sliding between Sean’s legs to cup and squeeze his tautening sac. But even that awareness faded as a red haze of purest pleasure overspread his mind.
His testicles tightened, his hips moved in tiny, helpless jerks, threatening to dislodge Elijah, but he only suckled harder, held on tighter. The escalating moans torn from Sean’s throat might have belonged to someone else: the new Sean who was being born phoenix-like out of the ashes of the old, and who was glorying in an act that until this night had left him dissatisfied and wondering what the big deal was. He understood now, fuck did he understand, and as his climax hurtled through him, relentless and unstoppable, he only managed to grit out, “I’m- I’m coming,” before he stiffened, arched up, and the floodtide swept him away. For the first time in his life, he didn’t fight it, but finally, completely, let go. It was bliss unimaginable.
When he came back to himself, Sean weakly raised his head and met Elijah’s gaze.
“You okay?” Elijah asked with concern. He was wiping his fingers clean of sticky strands of come with a handful of tissues. At the last moment, heeding Sean’s warning, he’d released Sean and finished him with a pumping fist. It was weird to have the tiniest regret about that, given the situation and the obvious risks, but Sean did.
He considered Elijah’s question. Was he okay? He didn’t know. Maybe this was how a baby chick just out of the shell felt – naked and vulnerable yet incredibly grateful to be alive. But Sean did know that he owed Elijah a debt of gratitude he could never repay for giving him this gift, the truth that had set him free.
Words rushed into his mouth, getting tangled and confused. What came out was a humble, “Thank you, Elijah.”
Elijah tossed the wadded up tissues in a small plastic wastepaper basket. “You don’t have to thank me.” He smiled wryly. “It’s all part of the service.”
Of course. How could he have forgotten? This was what Elijah got paid to do, to ‘take care’ of his clients, to service them. Sean was only one of many. But somehow that didn’t matter. Elijah had been kind to him, put his arm around him and supported him, listened to his incoherent rambling, understood that it was a cry for help – and given him that help.
“Nevertheless,” Sean said with quiet sincerity, “I do thank you.”
“Then… you’re welcome, Sean.” Elijah stood and Sean realized for the first time that he had not been unaffected by what had just happened. His erection was clear to see, molded by the well-washed denim.
Sean was ashamed of his selfishness. “But what about you? Can I…?” New Sean or not, it was hard to say the words aloud: ‘suck you off’, ‘go down on you?’ He shivered at the very idea of doing to Elijah what Elijah had done to him.
“I think you’ve experienced enough for your first time,” Elijah said gently. “You should go back to your hotel and get some rest, Sean. From what you’ve told me, you can use it.”
It was true, he could. But Sean understood that he was being dismissed, that his block of time was over, that Elijah would have other clients this night. A fleeting image of Bob Dolan passed through his mind; the euphoric high faded, the knife’s edge dulled by rusty metal.
“Maybe you’re right.” Sean got up on legs that were undeniably shaky. He pulled up his boxers and trousers, tucked in his white dress shirt, zipped his fly and fastened his belt. He took the 20 Euro note from his back pocket and held it out to Elijah. He felt a distaste as he did so that was wholly unreasonable. This was Elijah’s livelihood, after all, and he’d earned not only every Euro, but many more, for what he’d done. “I hope this is the correct amount. Bob told me you charge twenty Euros.”
“Yeah, it is.” Elijah took the note in his fingertips, almost as if reluctant to touch it, as if he, too, felt distaste at the mercenary exchange.
So wrapped up in his identity crisis had Sean been that he’d given no thought at all to Elijah as an individual. For the first time it occurred to him to wonder how he’d ended up here and why. Who was he? Where did he come from? Did he have a story to share that Sean should listen to?
Elijah dropped the money on the counter next to the tiny stainless steel kitchen sink. Sean stood there, irresolute, and then said, “I guess I better go.” It was as much question as statement.
But Elijah only nodded. He seemed suddenly withdrawn, and his face, now in profile to Sean, might have been carved from palest marble. If he’d held up a sign saying ‘Keep Out’, it couldn’t have been more obvious any intrusion into his privacy would be unwelcome.
There was nothing left to do but leave. Sean said, “Good bye, Elijah. I can never thank you enough, especially for listening to me.” He crossed to the door, had it open and his foot on the first step when Elijah said, “Sean?” He looked back over his shoulder.
“I’ll reserve this same time for you tomorrow night, if you’re interested.”
Sean’s hand clenched involuntarily on the doorframe; his pulse leapt with eagerness, an eagerness he wouldn’t deny. He was done with pretense. “I’m interested,” he said, and then he left.
But he kept his eyes averted as he walked quickly back to his car, not from shame this time, but because he didn’t want to see the face of any other man who might be on his way to visit the small blue caravan at the end of the second row.
Too physically and emotionally worn out to think about the events of the evening any further, Sean fell into bed as he had the night before, like one drugged. But this time he slept without dreaming, and woke not only rested and refreshed, but with a sense that this truly was, in the words of that old cliché, the first day of the rest of his life. In the clear light of morning he regretted nothing that had happened in the small blue caravan; the fragile peace in his once-tortured soul was proof positive.
He didn’t kid himself that it was going to be easy from now on, however. It was one thing to tell Elijah, a near stranger, that he was gay. It was another to come out of the closet to family, friends and coworkers. His father for one would never accept it, would cut him off without hesitation, like some diseased, deformed limb. But the difference now was that Sean understood the futility of denying his sexuality. Even more, he didn’t want to. He wanted instead to embrace it at whatever cost, and free himself from the shackles that had made it impossible ever to be happy in his life.
The only cloud on his horizon as he showered, shaved and dressed was Bob. On the one hand, he owed the man big time for seeing the truth, incredible as it seemed, and pointing him toward Elijah. On the other, the thought of that smug, bombastic asshole banging Elijah, as he’d put it, in the rumpled bed at the back of the caravan filled Sean with an inchoate mixture of dismay, disgust and anger. Elijah had been kind and generous, understanding when he had no call to be. No matter that he was being paid for it, he deserved better than to be subjected to the demands of an arrogant prick like Dolan.
He arrived at the convention center uncertain whether he’d throw his arms around Bob and thank him when he saw him, or be tempted to smash his fist in the fucker’s smug mouth.
It was no contest; the fist-smash won by a mile.
“Hey, ol’ buddy,” Bob greeted him then did a double-take and stared. “Well, well, well, looks like somebody got some last night,” he said with another of those sly smiles. “Guess you must have wised up and taken my advice, huh? Went and banged that sweet little thing after all, didn’t you?”
“Afraid not,” Sean replied, the lie rolling smoothly off his tongue. “I got a good night’s sleep for a change, that’s all.” He felt no compunction at lying to Bob. The fucker would probably want to compare notes, give a blow by blow of his experiences and expect Sean to do the same. No way in hell would he share what had happened between him and Elijah with anyone, and certainly not Dolan. It had been, in a very real sense, a sacred experience, whether it took place in a prostitute’s caravan or not. He wouldn’t allow the tawdry light of Bob Dolan to shine on it and lessen it. He might have plumbed Sean’s secret, but Sean wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of letting him know it.
Bob appeared to accept Sean's explanation, but then why wouldn’t such an accomplished cheat and liar accept one in return? He said no more but instead returned to his favorite topic: himself. It turned out he had wined and dined the attractive brunette doctor, as Sean suspected, and would be seeing her again that evening, news that relieved Sean no end. His worst fear was that he’d run into Bob outside Elijah’s caravan later that night. He didn’t think he could bear it if he did.
He supposed if he were a different sort of person, he’d be filled with admiration for Bob’s indefatigable pursuit of extra-curricular activities involving either sex, as well as the seemingly effortless ease with which he managed to find said extra-curricular activities even when he was in a country whose language he could barely speak. It was quite a talent, but not one Sean envied.
Sean had cried the day he removed his wedding band for the last time, mourning the loss of what it had once symbolized: a unity that no longer existed between him and his wife. Bob, on the other hand, had no such attachment to his wedding band or regard for what it symbolized. He’d removed it yesterday with the same careless disregard that he’d broken his marriage vows, seeing nothing wrong in the deception he was perpetrating on an innocent woman or in the betrayal of his wife. What was there to admire in that? He might forever owe Bob one, but he couldn’t wait to be rid of the man’s toxic presence, and if he never set eyes on him again after the expo, it would be too soon.
The exhibit hall was as crowded as the previous day, and Sean felt an enthusiasm for his work that he hadn’t in ages – if ever. It wasn’t that he suddenly liked the job any better, but it was his last hurrah and he owed it to the company and himself to bust his ass and go out swinging. Because when he got home, he was done, through, finished, out of there. The decision to quit wasn’t conscious, but had arisen organically out of the profound change that had occurred inside him. It was time to get to know the new Sean and discover what he wanted to do with his life – and selling medical equipment definitely wasn’t it.
But that was for later. First he had a visit to pay to the small blue caravan and Elijah, who would be waiting for him.
This time, Sean was oblivious to the others coming and going around him. This time, he had eyes only for the caravan, and his body was already half-hard, thrumming with anticipation. He had little knowledge of the technicalities of gay sex, but he was confident that Elijah would show him the way as surely as he’d led Sean out of the darkness of his soul.
As he drew near the end of the second row, he saw candles in the window of the small blue caravan, three of them, flickering golden in the deepening dusk, beckoning to him.
He went eagerly forward and up the steps, closing the door behind him. Then he stopped dead, staring in wonder. Elijah stood at the foot of the bed in the back of the caravan. The lights were off, but there were more lighted candles set on the counters and the dinette table, so that the young man was limned in gold. He looked noticeably different from the previous night, and Sean’s mouth went dry as dust with desire as he took in his changed appearance.
Elijah was still barefoot and wearing faded denim, but he’d replaced his white tee shirt with a flowing poet’s shirt of soft rose pink. He’d left the shirt unbuttoned so that a chest smooth and flawless as alabaster and a hint of pert nipples were visible to Sean’s hungry eyes. A silver earring glinted in his left earlobe, and his eyes were outlined in kohl, appearing even larger than Sean remembered and utterly compelling. But what caught Sean’s attention and held it riveted was Elijah’s jeans: unbuttoned and riding low, revealing that he wore no underwear. His fascinated eyes followed the downy trail that descended from Elijah’s navel over the soft swell of his belly to end at a thatch of coarse dark pubic hair.
Sean’s pulse began ticking like a metronome pushed to its fastest setting. He tore his eyes away, lifted them to Elijah’s face, shadowed and mysterious until his full lips curved into a welcoming smile and he held out his hand.
What happened next Sean could never afterward fully reconstruct in his mind. One moment he was standing at the top of the steps, the next he had Elijah held fast in his arms and he was kissing him. This kiss was as different from their first as the sun was from the moon. It was a clash of lips and teeth, a slight copper tang of blood, a hot-wet thrust and parry of tongues with no quarter given by either.
Sean couldn’t keep his hands still; he needed to touch, to discover the particular delights a man’s body could yield. He slid them under the loose shirt, pushing the clinging fabric away so they could roam over the damp skin of Elijah’s back and then across and up his ribs to hungrily palm the peaked nipples that had been playing peek-a-boo. He rubbed them with the heels of his hands, not gently, releasing the inhibitions that had kept him from ever truly letting go when he made love to his ex-wife. Elijah moaned deep in his throat, a raw, guttural sound that gave Sean the courage to take the next step in his voyage of discovery.
He slid his right hand, fingers pointing downward, over Elijah’s sleek stomach and into the nest of curls, seeking and finding his goal, the satin-over-steel hardness of Elijah’s cock. He curled his hand around it and squeezed. It immediately swelled to fit his palm and Elijah whimpered “Sean” against his lips and pressed into him and Sean thought, God, how did I ever live without this? He felt weightless, a feather floating on the air, and yet at the same time he had never been so grounded, so tied to his carnal self and the hunger that had been starved for far too long and now demanded to be fed.
It was Sean’s turn to push; they tumbled back on the bed, Sean on top, mouths fused together. He still had his hand thrust into Elijah’s jeans, holding him in an intimate grip. As soon as they settled, he began working Elijah’s cock with his fist, thinking of how he liked it best himself. He slid the loose skin around in a circular motion, lost in wonderment, a child bedazzled by his new toy, drinking down Elijah’s helpless whimpers. He tore his mouth away, planted kisses on Elijah’s neck, his shoulders, and chest, entranced by the contrast of silken-smooth skin over sharp-cut, masculine muscles. He reached a nipple, closed his lips over it and suckled. Elijah uttered a sharp cry and his cock jumped in Sean’s hand and wetness dribbled down over his fingers. Sean exulted inside.
Having Elijah’s cock in his hand was bliss, but it wasn’t enough. Sean shifted to one side and with his free hand tugged at Elijah’s jeans, pulling them lower until Elijah could wriggle-kick them off completely.
Sean was painfully hard, his cock pressing uncomfortably against his zipper. Streaks of sweat ran down his temples and he was breathing like he’d just finished running a marathon. His body screamed for release. But instead of giving into the need thrumming through him, he raised himself, bracing on one hand, and hungrily let his gaze roam over Elijah, naked now save for the shirt that was half off one shoulder.
Elijah was a feast for his eyes, and feast Sean did, drinking in the sight of his passion-darkened eyes and his kiss-bruised lips and the splotches of bright pink color raised in the wake of Sean’s kisses that adorned his throat and chest like some priceless jewelry. His gaze traveled lower, admiring his narrow, sharp-boned hips, his sinewy hair-roughened thighs, and lastly, his cock, erect and flushed with color. It curved over the soft round of his stomach; droplets of clear fluid dribbled from its tip, and fell to glint like diamonds in the dark nest of curls. Here was a gay man’s fantasy come to life, Sean thought in awe, desirable beyond any yearning dreams he’d had during the long lonely years spent denying his true self. Yet this wondrous being was also entirely real, and for this space of time at least, he belonged to Sean to do with what he wanted. And he knew what he wanted – if he could find the courage to say it aloud, that is.
“What do you want?” Elijah asked him, as if he’d read Sean’s mind. “Tell me what you want, Sean.” His voice was low, intimate, inviting. They were in the confessional again, where anything could be said, any desire expressed. “Don’t be afraid.”
“I want to fuck you. Can I fuck you?” Saying it aloud was freeing beyond belief.
“Yes, you can fuck me,” Elijah replied, holding Sean with his eyes, letting him see the desire in their depths. “I want you to fuck me.”
“I… I don’t know what I’m supposed to do exactly,” Sean confessed.
“It’s okay. I’ll show you – although it’s not rocket science.” Elijah smiled. “First thing is to undress. You don’t have to – fucking fully clothed can be brilliant. But it’ll be more comfortable for you this first time if you are.”
Sean was already so heated with arousal that he supposed he couldn’t get much redder, but a mental image of himself naked before this gorgeous young man added a layer of crimson embarrassment on top. But he wasn’t going to let that stop him from finally knowing how it felt to make love to another man. So he toed off his shoes, tackled buttons, buckles and zippers with shaking fingers, and stripped himself bare, literally and figuratively. He stood at last naked at the foot of the bed and let Elijah look his fill.
“You’re beautiful, Sean,” he said at last. “Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. You are a beautiful, beautiful man.”
It could have been a hooker’s flattery; it could all have been a hooker’s practiced shtick, compounded of fake desire and faker compliments. But Sean believed him. It could be a case of believing he wanted to believe, but he could swear he saw truth in Elijah’s eyes.
Elijah arched gracefully up, reaching back over his head to a small recessed shelf above the bed for a familiar square foil packet and an unfamiliar plastic tube. Condom and lube. He sat up, holding them in his hands. “Come here,” he said. “Let me show you what to do.”
Sean set his knee on the bed and prepared to learn.
Elijah was right; it wasn’t rocket science. Even more, it seemed less learning than rediscovering what had been buried under layer upon layer of fear and uncertainty and denial: knowledge ancient as time itself. When all was prepared, the condom rolled on, the lube applied, and Elijah, fully naked now, panting on hands and knees before him, Sean pushed slowly into a tight, white-hot passage that sheathed him like a glove, and knew that he was home.
The flickering candles cast a golden glow over their bodies; it glistened on beads of sweat dotting Elijah’s spine and pooling in the small of his back. His braced arms were quivering with strain, muscles standing out in sharp relief; his head hung down, exposing whorls of sweat-dampened hair clinging to the nape, and whimpering gasps escaped him as he absorbed the fullness of Sean’s cock.
When he was fully seated, his groin pressed up tight against Elijah’s taut buttocks, Sean paused, though every instinct he possessed was screaming at him to move, to relieve the unbearable pressure on his cock. His body shuddered with the restraint it was under, like a bowstring pulled back farther than it should go.
“Elijah,” he finally said in a voice so agonized it didn’t sound like his, “Are you…?”
“Yes! Move, sweet Jesus, Sean, move.”
Practically sobbing with relief Sean did, releasing the bowstring and the tenuous hold on his self-control. Gripping Elijah at the hips hard enough to leave bruises, he withdrew part way then pushed back in, and each subsequent thrust grew easier as Elijah’s body yielded to his invasion, the narrow passage softening, turning buttery, bathing Sean in liquid heat. He thrust faster and deeper, confident now that he wouldn’t somehow hurt Elijah, and was rewarded by the fervent “Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck” Elijah chanted in time to his thrusts.
Elijah braced on one hand and found his cock with the other and began to stroke it. “Oh sweet Jesus, I’ve never… this is… fuck!”
Suddenly, not even sure why, Sean rocked back on his heels, drawing Elijah up with him, so that they remained joined together, but now Elijah’s back was plastered to Sean’s front, his thighs spread wide on either side of Sean’s, and they were, if anything, even more intimately joined.
Sean buried his face in the side of Elijah’s neck, breathing in his sweat-soap-musk and relishing this new closeness. This was how he wanted to fuck Elijah, not like some stud mounting a mare, but like two lovers made one, every inch of skin touching. He wrapped one arm tightly around Elijah’s chest, just beneath his breastbone, and rose higher on his knees. He canted his hips back and snapped them forward and Elijah let out a high keening sound as Sean penetrated him farther than he’d yet managed. Yes, fuck yes, Sean thought fiercely, covering Elijah’s hand on his cock with his, lacing their fingers together. This was how it had to be, how it was meant to be.
As they moved in concert, their union became as much dance as sex act, a thing of grace and beauty, and Sean was transported out of himself and into some other realm that he had never known existed. Awareness of self vanished, he was part of Elijah and Elijah was part of him; he could no longer tell where one began and the other ended. The pace of the dance increased; they moved in concert, faster and faster, spinning helplessly toward some end that Sean both craved and feared.
The end came with stunning force and blinding intensity; Sean cried out, his hips snapped erratically, once, twice, thrice… and then he stiffened and ejaculated deep inside Elijah. Elijah came moments later; with a satisfaction as deep as his own release gave him, Sean heard the patter of semen hitting the sheets, followed by a trickle of warmth on his fingers. But it was the hitching catch of Elijah’s breath, the drawn-out ‘ohhh’ as he came, and more than anything his soft, wondering ‘Sean’, that gave Sean the greatest satisfaction of all.
When the last wracking shudder faded and he was spent, Sean slumped back, gasping for breath, with Elijah held tightly against him and their bodies still joined. He wrapped his other arm around the young man who had transformed his world and hugged him to him in wordless gratitude. Elijah covered Sean’s hands with his own and they remained like that for some time, unspeaking, while the sweat on their bodies cooled and their pulses slowed.
What seemed eons later Elijah craned his neck to look at Sean and said, almost apologetically, “I can’t stay like this.” He lifted his hand and caressed Sean’s cheek, the backs of his fingers rasping against the hint of stubble. “You’re a fast learner, Sean. I don’t think you need ever worry about pleasing a lover. You were amazing.” Then he kissed him and sat up, pulling free of Sean, separating their bodies. It was over.
As he pinched off the condom and removed it, Sean tried not to feel regret. It was over, yes, but it had been a transcendent experience, and for the rest of his life he would have this night and Elijah to remember.
Elijah pulled on his jeans and shirt, buttoning both. Sean dressed more slowly; lassitude was overcoming him, heaviness invading his limbs as if he was moving underwater. He went into the tiny bathroom to wash the lube and come from his hands, and wished he could lie back down on Elijah’s bed and sleep with him cradled in his arms. Impossible; he had to stop thinking like that. Elijah’s bed would soon be in use again. He was a hooker, not a lover. Nothing would change that, no matter how much Sean might wish it were otherwise, and more and more, despite himself, he was wishing it. More and more what Bob had called this place no longer seemed a joke to Sean, but the truth. It was indeed a caravan of love.
Before he stepped out of the bathroom, he took another 20 Euro note out of his pocket. If it had been distasteful yesterday to pay Elijah for his services, that was nothing to how it was now. He didn’t offer the bill to Elijah, simply set it on the counter where Elijah had dropped the other one.
He stood there in awkward silence, trying desperately to think of something to say, something that would do justice to the experience they’d shared, and Sean would go to his grave believing that it had been shared, that it had meant something to Elijah, too.
But Elijah had gone remote again, refusing to meet his eyes.
“Good night,” was all Sean said, all he could say.
“Good night, Sean,” Elijah replied softly.
He didn’t stop Sean on the way out to invite him back next evening. But he didn’t have to. Sean would be back at the same time tomorrow, and he knew that Elijah knew it, too.
“Well, ol’ buddy,” said Bob as they got the booth set up next morning, “it’s our final day. If we can make it just as sweet as the last two, we’ll be looking at a nice bonus when we get home. Corporate is gonna love us.”
Not as much as you love yourself, Sean was tempted to say, but didn’t.
“And a damn good thing, let me tell you, because Bob Dolan spent a few too many Euros on this trip,” Bob continued. “I bought Renata a gold bracelet by way of a farewell present – cost me 200 Euros. I purely hate having to tell her the bad news – that I’m already hitched – but she was making noises over dinner last night about coming to visit me in Iowa, and I can’t have that happening. It almost makes me wish I’d stuck with the sweet little thing at the caravan park. No demands, no tears – just bang, pay and go.” He shook his head sadly. “I don’t like to love ‘em and leave ‘em, but lordy, I do miss my little wife and the kiddies. Bought a few things for them, too, of course.”
Sean stared in dumbfounded amazement. “Tell me, Bob,” he finally said, goaded beyond his endurance, especially by the ‘bang, pay and go’ remark, “were you born an asshole or did you attend a special school to learn how to be one?”
“Hey!” Bob protested. “I thought we were friends.”
“Whatever gave you that idea, you self-centered, cheating, lying prick?”
Bob went all hurt puppy, something at which he was expert. “I tell you what, Sean, now you’ve gone and wounded me. Cut me to the quick.”
Sean was immune to the hurt puppy act, inoculated by disgust. “Yeah, well, I expect you’ll get over it. Now help me get this monitor set up.”
Icy dignity replaced hurt puppy, which was fine by Sean. The less Bob talked, the better he’d like it. He hadn’t slept well, despite the mind-blowing orgasm that had left him lax-limbed and drowsy. His sleep had troubled by a dream in which he arrived at the caravan park to discover the small blue caravan gone, vanished without a trace. He’d run up and down endless rows of caravans, searching for it with increasing desperation until he jolted awake, sweating and panicked, with Elijah’s name on his lips.
The dream had no hidden meaning, he concluded. He was flying back to the U.S. in the morning, leaving Elijah behind. Elijah, who had opened the door to the closet in which Sean had cowered for so long and showed him the sun shining outside; Elijah, who had initiated him into the wonders of gay sex with a kindness and generosity of spirit that, hooker or no, would leave Sean forever in his debt. In the small blue caravan with Elijah he was free, freer than he’d ever been in his life, accepted for who he was without labels or judgments. Once he returned home, Sean would have to find his way forward on his own without Elijah. He was determined to succeed, more so than ever, but the path would be rocky and the journey long and often lonely. Was it any wonder he’d dreamed as he had?
Bob’s hopes to the contrary, sales were slower and customers fewer. The hours crawled past, and Sean’s mind kept jumping ahead to the coming night and Elijah. He couldn’t allow himself to think about it too much, about what might happen between them or, more perilously for his shaky self-control, about what would come afterward. Almost he wished Bob would start talking again as a distraction. Almost.
Eventually the expo wound to a close, and they began breaking down the display, boxing what needed to be shipped back to the United States and totaling up their sales, which overall turned out to be more than respectable. Bob shed his hurt puppy persona, crowing about the many new clients they’d attracted and speculating on the size of the bonuses they’d earn. Sean just kept on quietly working.
“Well, ol’ buddy,” said Bob when they were back at the Hyatt and ready to go their separate ways, “it’s been grand working with you. I hope we’ll get to do it again some time.” He stuck out his hand.
Sean stared at his hand, soft and doughy like the rest of him, with perfectly manicured fingernails. He didn’t want to shake it. He didn’t want to touch any part of Bob Dolan that had touched Elijah with careless indifference. But when it came down to it, he did owe the man, whether he knew it or not. So he gritted his teeth, grasped it and said, “Same here, Bob.” He squeezed a little too hard and a little too long, until Bob winced. He couldn’t help himself. Childish? Maybe. Satisfying? Definitely.
Sean showered, shaved, put on aftershave, and dressed with care. He might have been going on a date. He might have convinced himself that he was going on a date, until he took another 20 Euro note out of his wallet, folded it carefully in half and slid it into his back pocket. Payment for services rendered; the death knell to fantasy.
As he drove along the Eifeltor, the previous night’s dream returned to Sean. What if in fact the dream had been prophetic, and Elijah and the small blue caravan were gone? For fuck’s sake, Sean, he scolded himself, when have you ever had a prophetic anything? But the closer he got to his destination, the tenser and more nervous he became. After parking the car and locking it, he practically ran through the park, so anxious was he to prove his dream wrong – or right.
When he saw Elijah’s caravan parked in its usual spot, candles once more flickering in the window, he stopped to catch his breath and sweet relief flooded through him. He’d been needlessly worried after all. His eyes briefly closed.Thank god, oh thank god. Just why it was so vitally important to see Elijah this one last time was something that Sean didn’t dare to examine too closely, because he feared sex had little to do with it and if that were so... He pushed the thought away and kept walking.
Elijah was waiting for him when he mounted the caravan steps. He had paired his faded jeans with a red shirt this time, a tight-fitting knit that clung to his lean torso and molded his chest so closely that his nipples stood out. His eyes were bluer than Sean had yet seen them, almost unearthly in their radiance, and he couldn’t look away, held captive by their spell.
Seconds ticked past; the air grew close, heavy, heady as fine wine. They stood barely an arm’s length apart, but Sean didn’t move to close the small gap. Though he ached to touch Elijah, there was something he had to do first. It was so much harder than he’d anticipated, even if it couldn't mean to Elijah what it did to him.
He cleared his throat. “Elijah, I think you should know that this is my last night in Cologne. I have a flight back to the states in the morning.”
An emotion flickered in Elijah’s eyes. Sadness? Regret? It was there and gone too swiftly for Sean to decide – or perhaps he’d only imagined it.
“Then we’ll have to make the most of your last night here, won’t we?” was all he said.
He moved to the window and pulled the curtain closed, shutting out the outside world, enclosing them once more in that cocoon of warmth and security. As he turned back to Sean he crossed his hands at the hem of his shirt and in one lithe movement pulled it over his head and tossed it away. His jeans followed right after, and he stood before Sean naked and at his ease, one hip canted, and his arms loose at his sides. He might have been Michelangelo’s David, thought Sean, had God breathed life into him when the sculptor’s work was finished. What in God's name was Elijah doing here in this prostitutes' park making 20 Euros a pop having sex with total strangers in the back of a caravan?
“Elijah,” Sean began, but Elijah immediately shook his head as if he'd read Sean's mind - or perhaps Sean's face had been too revealing.
“No, no talking, Sean,” Elijah said. “I want to see you now.”
Elijah had called him beautiful, told him never to let anyone say otherwise. Nevertheless, it wasn't possible to shed the insecurities of a lifetime so easily. But whatever doubts Sean had secretly harbored about Elijah’s sincerity fled before the avid look in his eyes as Sean started to undress. And the effect of his clumsy, fumble-fingered strip tease on Elijah was undeniable and flattering as hell. A rapidly growing erection rose from the nest of dark curls, and when Elijah circled it loosely with his fingers and moved them languidly up and down, pleasuring himself while he watched Sean from under half-lowered eyelids, Sean decided he wouldn’t trade his too short, too pudgy physique for that of Brad-fucking-Pitt.
The sight of Elijah touching himself drove the breath from Sean’s body as surely if he’d been punched in the gut.Lithe is the last word anyone would use to describe me right now, Sean thought ruefully, as he wrestled with his clothes. Not only because his fumbling fingers wouldn’t stop shaking but because he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the mesmerizing cock-play going on practically under his nose. He wished he were the one doing the touching; he hadn’t gotten nearly enough last night of the feel of Elijah’s cock swelling to fill his palm…
“Taking your sweet time undressing, aren’t you?” Elijah mocked him gently, knowing very well why.
“If you’d stop what you’re doing for a minute, I might be able to go faster.” He yanked at a shirt cuff in frustration and the button shot free, pinging off the wall.
Elijah only laughed, and kept right on doing what he was doing. Until, that is, Sean finally got off the last piece of clothing, his boxers – no easy matter with a massive hard-on in the way – and hurled them across the caravan. Then Elijah moved, practically vaulting the small space between them to burrow against Sean like a human heat seeking missile. His fingers sank eagerly into Sean’s mat of dark-gold chest hair and the painful tugs and bursts of static electricity as they forced their way through the tangled curls made Sean gasp and his skin tingle. Then Elijah found his nipples, pinched and rubbed them, and the tingles turned to seismic tremors, shaking Sean to his core.
But that wasn’t the only sensual assault under way. Elijah’s lips were equally lethal as they brushed hot kisses along Sean’s collarbone and up his neck, and then along his jaw line to his ear. He nipped sharply at the fleshy lobe, and completed Sean’s undoing by tracing the ultra-sensitive rim with his tongue.
For the life of him Sean couldn’t move, couldn’t return the favor as he wished to, because right now it was all Elijah, making Sean feel like the most desirable man in the entire universe.
“What would you like me to do to you? Tell me,” Elijah whispered in his ear, his warm breath sending shivers coursing down Sean’s spine. He undulated against Sean, dragging his cock back and forth against Sean’s hip where it burned like fire. His hands slid around to Sean’s back and the slightly callused pads of his fingers played along his spine as if he were a musician and Sean his chosen instrument.
“Anything,” said Sean hoarsely in reply. “You can do anything to me.”
Elijah pulled back slightly, looked at Sean. “Do you trust me?” he asked, all trace of mockery vanished.
Sean didn’t even hesitate. “Yes,” he said. I’ve never trusted anyone more. It was true, even if this was only the third time they’d met, even if Elijah was a prostitute.
Next instant his mouth was captured in a searing kiss, and those talented fingers moved lower, settling at the small of Sean’s back where they stroked in teasing circles that raised the tiny hairs there as if they’d been electrified. As Elijah tugged gently at his bottom lip with his teeth, he slipped his middle finger down into the cleft of Sean’s buttocks. Sean tensed. Dark, taboo, wrong. Inhibitions schooled into him from the time he was a child came rushing to the fore. He’d never been touched there, never touched himself there.
“No, don’t tense up,” Elijah murmured against his mouth. “It’ll be good, I promise.”
Sean willed his body to relax. Everything is right here, he reminded himself. Nothing is taboo. You’re free, remember? The first light touch on his anus caused it to contract sharply. It was a weird sensation: neither painful nor uncomfortable, but only… different. The next touch, firmer, caused a stronger contraction that reached deeper inside, and his cock, pinned against Elijah’s belly, jumped. Different and good, Sean decided, as Elijah had promised it would be. He shifted slightly, widening his stance, and Elijah expressed his approval with a pleased murmur against Sean’s mouth. He rubbed the pad of his finger against the opening so that electric sparks snapped and sizzled, and the sensation soared straight from good into the stratosphere of fantastic.
“God, that’s…” Sean stuttered. “Fuck, it’s…” He was at a loss how adequately to describe it, and when Elijah pulled his magic finger away and stepped back, he feared he'd given the impression he didn't like it and cursed himself.
But then Elijah said, “It can be even better, you know." He grasped Sean by the shoulders and guided him until he was facing the kitchen counter, holding onto the metal-trimmed edge with arms widespread. His cock, freed from its entrapment, jutted stiffly out, the tip nearly touching the faux wood cabinet, and it was difficult not to press close, rub it against the hard surface and find relief.
What Elijah had in mind to make it even better, Sean wasn’t certain. But he peeked under his arm just as Elijah dropped to his knees behind him and his heart gave a queer lurch as he realized what Elijah must have in mind. His body broke out in a sweat, trickles of perspiration running down his sides and flanks. Surely he couldn’t be intending to…
Firm hands gripping his buttocks and parting them. A rush of cool air into the hot-damp cleft. A puff of warm breath where Elijah’s finger had been… Sean’s hands convulsively gripped the counter as the strongest spasm yet caused his inner body to contract painfully tight. Another puff and another and then… He let out a strangled gasp as the puff of breath was replaced by the flat of Elijah’s tongue, licking him, over and over, licking him and then pushing at his opening with the tip of his tongue. Sean’s skin crawled with the most incredible sensations; nerve endings he’d never known he possessed came to life. He feared he might explode into a million pieces, unable to contain the enormity of the feelings rushing through him.
“Elijah, Jesus, what are you doing to me?” It was almost a wail.
The sweet torment ceased; immediately Sean wanted to beg Elijah to resume. “It’s called rimming, Sean,” Elijah said, a quiver of amusement in his voice, and licked him again as if to demonstrate.
In fact, that wasn’t what Sean had meant; he’d heard the term before. But it wasn’t the moment for explanations, not with Elijah’s tongue where it was and doing what it was. He could only shudder and moan and hold onto the counter for dear life. He had a feeling it was the only thing keeping him from spontaneously combusting.
Just when Sean was certain he couldn’t stand a second more, Elijah got to his feet. He kissed Sean between his shoulder blades, stroked his rough-silk palms down his trembling biceps. Then he said, repeating the very same words Sean had used to him last night, “I want to fuck you. Can I fuck you?” His erection nudged, insistent, at Sean’s buttocks; wetness from the tip painted his skin. He added, almost fiercely, “I want to be your first, Sean. I want you always to remember me as your first.”
Sean swallowed hard against a sudden lump in his throat, undone again but in a very different way. “Yes, I want that, too,” he whispered.
A second kiss ghosted across his skin. “Then you'll have it. Don’t move; I’ll be right back.”
Sean doubted he could have moved if he wanted to, not with the erection he was sporting and the spasms that continued to ripple through him as if Elijah was still tonguing him. But he did manage to turn his head and watch Elijah walk to the rear of the caravan, so he could admire the smooth, moon-pale rounds of his buttocks, the corded muscles in his legs, the width of his shoulders narrowing to slim hips, the shift and play of the muscles in his back as he reached once more for the supplies they would need.
“You’re so beautiful,” he said, as Elijah walked toward him. “I’ve thought it many times, but I should have said it aloud. I'm sorry.”
"It's okay," Elijah said. "I've seen it in your eyes. You don't have to tell me."
He popped the cap on the tube and squirted a generous measure of lube onto the fingertips of his right hand. He moved behind Sean again, pulled his left cheek away and gently pushed one finger inside him. “Fingers first, then dick, or it can hurt,” Elijah had told him. But his body, already softened and loosened by the rimming he’d gotten, yielded readily to Elijah’s seeking, stretching finger. There was no discomfort when a second finger joined the first or even a third, only a sensation of fullness that, satisfying as it was, wasn’t quite satisfying enough. After a time he moved his hips involuntarily, pushing back against Elijah’s fingers, drawing them deeper in an instinctive demand for more. "I'm ready," he panted. "Don't make me wait any longer, Elijah, please."
"I won't," Elijah promised. He eased his fingers out, picked up the condom and tore open the wrapper. A hiss of breath escaped Elijah as he unrolled the condom over his cock and smeared on lube. "I'll try not to hurt you," he said when he had his cock in position, the tip pressing against Sean's opening. Then finally, slowly, he pushed inside Sean. His cock, granite hard and unyielding, stretched him far past what fingers could do, and yeah, it hurt. It burned like hell. But Sean gritted his teeth and ignored the pain. It was a small price to pay to have Elijah inside him, to know what it was like to be possessed by a man.
“Sean?” Elijah's voice was higher than normal, tight with restraint, and Sean understood all too well the hell he was going through. Hadn't he suffered the same agonies the night before?
“I’m okay,” he said, and it wasn't a lie. Already his body was adjusting, absorbing the intrusion, his insides turning molten around Elijah's pulsing cock. He recalled how Elijah had clenched around him, the incredible sensations that resulted, and gave it a try. He was rewarded by an almost agonized “Fuck!” from Elijah. So he did it again.
“Ohmyfuckinggod,” Elijah panted. He jerked his hips back as if compelled, but when he pushed back in again, it was as slowly and carefully as before.
Before this night, he could never have imagined himself submitting to being fucked by someone else or enjoying it if he did. In his dreams, he’d always been the one on top. But now he welcomed it, and he didn't want slow and careful, didn't want Elijah holding back out of fear of hurting him. If this was to be the last time he and Elijah were together, he wanted everything Elijah could give him, no holds barred, no regrets.
“Don't tell me that's the best you can do?” he mocked, turning the tables on Elijah.
He heard Elijah exhale on a gasp of half-laughter, half-exasperation. “You fucker,” he said, but his next thrust showed that Sean’s comment had severed the leash of restraint. He withdrew almost completely and drove back in so hard that his testicles slapped wetly against Sean’s ass. The sound was arousing beyond belief.
Elijah continued to move, harder and faster, giving Sean everything he had. The pain vanished, transmuting into molten pleasure; the same sense of being one with Elijah returned, of not knowing where he ended and Elijah began. He wanted it to go on and on, but all too soon the familiar tension began building inside him, and Elijah's thrusts became shorter and sharper as he began to lose control.
"Fuck. Fuck. Ohfuckohfuckohfuck," Elijah said. He pressed his sweating forehead against Sean's back and his hands kneaded the roll of flesh at his hips, gripping and ungripping almost frantically. "Shit. Shit."
Sean wasn't in a much better state. The fire that Elijah's thrusts had ignited inside him was raging out of control, and there was only one way to douse the flames. So he took his cock in an almost cruelly tight hold, and a mere half dozen strokes later he climaxed, spurting in helpless jerks onto the cabinet. Elijah was right on his heels, coming with an incoherent shout and a gush of warmth bathing Sean inside through thin latex.
Time hung suspended as Sean's orgasm subsided and his brain started to function again. When Sean came back to himself, Elijah, trembling spasmodically, was draped over his back like a damp silken cape and they were still intimately joined. A gleam of pearl-white caught Sean's attention; it was his semen, running in an uneven trail down the oak veneer. He wasn’t even vaguely embarrassed. In fact, it was an unexpectedly erotic and somehow satisfying sight. The doors to his sexuality had not only been opened by Elijah, it seemed, but blasted right off their hinges.
Elijah finally stirred, raising himself and pulling his softened cock free. Sean winced involuntarily as he did; the soreness Elijah had warned him about was making itself known.
“I’m sorry, shit, I’m sorry,” Elijah said.
“Don’t be. Please, don’t be sorry about anything.” Sean turned around, took Elijah, beautifully sticky and sweaty and smelling like come, into his arms and held him. “How can I ever thank you?” he said humbly.
For a long moment Elijah yielded to his embrace then he pulled resolutely away. “You don’t have to thank me.” Sean thought he might cry if Elijah said anything about it being ‘part of the service’. But he didn’t. What he said was, “I’ve never really liked to top, but somehow I knew it would be different with you, Sean, and it was. I should be the one thanking you.” He pitched the used condom in the trashcan, picked up his jeans and pulled them on. He straightened. “When you get back to your hotel, you should take a hot bath. That’ll help with the soreness. Tylenol or ibuprofen will help, too, and if you have any cream or ointment you can apply, do it.”
So matter of fact, so clinical, as if the emotional connection had never occurred. It might have bothered Sean more, except that Elijah would barely meet his eyes, and what he glimpsed in liquid blue wasn’t a hooker’s ‘I’m ready to move on to my next customer’ disinterest. But what could he do? They were playing by a set of rules he’d agreed to. He was buying and paying for a service; if he’d somehow snuck through Elijah’s defenses momentarily that didn’t change things.
Elijah gathered up Sean’s discarded clothes and handed them to him. “You’re gonna need that bath soon,” he said.
It was like the other times. Sean got dressed while Elijah resolutely presented a stony profile. The money practically burned his fingers but Sean took it out and laid it on the counter as before. But he wasn’t going to leave with a simple ‘Good night’, he decided. Not tonight.
“Elijah, will you look at me?” he asked quietly. As if against his will, Elijah did. His expression was guarded. “I know you don’t want my thanks, but you have it. I will never forget you or what you did for me. Whatever my future holds, you’ll be a part of it, because I’d never have admitted or accepted what I am without you. I need you to know that.” He put his arms around Elijah and held him one last time. “Good bye,” he whispered, and let him go.
Elijah raised his hand and gently stroked Sean’s cheek. “Good bye, Sean." He swallowed as if there was a constriction in his throat. "I hope that someday soon you'll find a man to love who will love you back like you deserve and you'll be happy.” He dropped his hand. “If you ever think back on this,” he added softly, “think of it as a dream. Nothing but a dream.”
Every step away from Elijah was like moving through quicksand. Eventually Sean made it back to the car, but he didn’t immediately leave, because he couldn’t see well enough through his tears to drive away.
The caravan door closed behind Sean. Elijah stared at it for a long, long time. Then he bent and picked up a small white button lying on the carpet. He put it in the pocket of his jeans before sinking down on the banquette and burying his head in his hands.
The water in the tub was as hot as Sean could tolerate, almost scalding in fact. Steam rose from the surface and his skin turned lobster pink, but no warmth could penetrate the coldness inside him. It’s over, he told himself dully. Time to get on with your new life, find a nice guy, be happy like Elijah said.
He’d told himself the same thing several times on the way back to the hotel. It had been no more convincing then than it was now, and the soreness in his heart far exceeded any soreness left by Elijah’s fucking.
He rested his head against the smooth white porcelain and closed his eyes. Yearning filled him, just as it had that first night when Elijah pushed him back and said, “Let me take care of you.” But the yearning wasn’t for a nice new guy. It was for the one he had left behind, who had taken care of him, with gentleness and understanding.
You already were happy, with Elijah. The happiest you’ve ever been in your entire life.
That’s because you finally admitted you’re a queer, came out of the closet. You had sex with another man for the first time. Why wouldn’t you have been happy? “If you ever think back on this, think of it as a dream.” That’s what Elijah said, that’s what you should do.
Instinctively he rejected that argument. But it wasn’t a dream. It was real. I touched and was touched, kissed and was kissed… Something stirred to life inside Sean then, struggling to break free and make its voice heard. It was his heart, and what it cried out was a truth simple and yet utterly soul-shaking: I loved and was loved.
Sean sat up so fast water sloshed over the side of the tub. Of course it was love. Had been since the moment Elijah stepped out of the bathroom and their eyes met. The sense of homecoming he’d felt when his body was joined with Elijah’s wasn’t only because he’d found his true identity, but because he’d found the one person who could make his life whole and give it meaning. And he believed, no he knew with gut-deep certainty, that it was the same for Elijah. He’d shown that love in so many ways, if only Sean had had wits enough to see it.
“I’m such a fool,” he said aloud.
Yes, you are a fool, replied his heart. Now what are you doing sitting here? Get dressed and go tell him.
Sean called Lufthansa and canceled his flight. He packed and checked out of the hotel. Then he drove straight to the Eifeltor road and Elijah. He didn’t rehearse what he was going to say to him or frame arguments and persuasions. He didn’t think about what would come afterward. There would be time enough later for promises and plans. They would have the rest of their lives for that.
Or so he believed until he arrived at the caravan park and his flying footsteps halted as if he’d crashed into an invisible wall. It turned out his dream had been prophetic after all: the small blue caravan wasn’t there.
“No,” he breathed, rejecting the evidence of his own eyes. “No. It can’t be. I won’t let it be.”
But he went forward until he stood on the empty pavement where the little blue caravan, the caravan of love, had been and faced the truth. Elijah was gone. He didn’t kid himself that it had nothing to do with their parting. If you ever think back on this, think of it as a dream. Elijah had been telling him with those words that he meant to disappear so that Sean could never find him.
“No!” The low keening wail might have come from some wild animal standing over its fallen mate.
Sean’s head drooped forward and despair swept over him. How would he ever find Elijah? He didn’t even know his last name. But in the wake of despair came determination. I will find him if I have to drive up and down every friggin’ street in this friggin’ country.
But where to start? With the obvious, he thought.
The caravan closest to Sean was shut up tight, but he didn’t give a damn. He strode up to the door and banged on it as hard as he could with his fist. “Hallo?” he called. “Hallo?”
From inside the caravan he heard raised voices, male and female. He couldn’t make out what they were saying, but they didn’t sound pleased. Tough shit, he thought. He banged again.
"Ich komme ja schon!!" the female voice said, and a few moments later the door opened part way, and a woman wrapped in a skimpy silk robe stood there, pushing impatiently at a long strand of bleached blonde hair falling in her eyes. "Was soll denn das? Können Sie nicht sehen, dass ich gerade beschäftigt bin? Kommen Sie nachher noch mal." She started to close the door again.
“Nein! Schließen Sie nicht die Tür,” Sean pleaded. “I need your help. Please.” In his distress he slipped back into English.
“What is wrong?” she said in English as slow and painstaking as his German.
“I’m looking for the blue caravan, the one that was parked behind you.”
“Elijah has gone,” she replied guardedly.
“When? How long ago did he leave?” He flung the questions at her.
“I don’t know exactly. But an hour since, maybe? Or maybe it was closer to two hours.” She shrugged. “I wasn’t paying attention.”
“Do you know which way he went? Where he was headed?”
She considered him from world-weary eyes. Probably she’d seen it all, and his desperation was nothing new or different. Maybe she mistrusted his reasons for wanting to know where Elijah went. He couldn’t blame her. He must look and sound like some wild man. “Elijah is a nice boy,” she said finally. “I am not sure if I should tell you anything more.”
“Please,” he said again. Tears swam in his eyes, half-blinding him. “I love him. I have to find him. If you have any information at all that will help me find him, please, please tell me.”
A man’s voice called irritably from the back of the caravan, "Klara, sag dem Idioten, der soll sich verpissen und komm zurück ins Bett!"
She turned her head. "Moment noch, Schatzi," she said, although she didn’t sound as if whoever the man was, he was her darling. When she looked at Sean again, her gaze softened and his heart leapt with hope. “I do not know exactly where he has gone,” Klara replied. “But when he came here three nights ago, he said he was on his way to Strasbourg. Perhaps that is where he is headed now.”
“On his way to Strasbourg?” Sean repeated blankly. “But… I thought he worked here.”
“Nee,” she said with an emphatic shake of her head. “Elijah is no prostitute. We do not have men prostitutes in this place.”
“But I don’t understand.” Sean was reeling. “Then what was he doing here?”
“He came by mistake,” Klara said. “He thought this was a camping ground.” She considered him again. “But instead of leaving, he stayed. For you, I think, no?”
Had Elijah stayed for him? Yes, Sean thought. He must have. So much made sense now that hadn’t added up at the time. Fool, fool. But why had Elijah misled him? There was only way to find out.
“Klara, ich danke Ihnen. Entschuldigen Sie die Störung,” Sean said, and he took off at a flat run back to the car.
Sean turned the car’s interior light on and unfolded the map provided by the rental agency. It was difficult even to make sense of the lines on the paper when he was so consumed with impatience to be on his way and find Elijah that he was a jittering bundle of nerves. But he forced himself to focus and concentrate. Strasbourg lay more or less due south of Cologne. If Elijah was indeed headed there then the route was fairly straightforward and he might be able to catch up to him. But if he wasn’t… Sean pushed negativity away. He’d find him. One way or the other, he’d find Elijah.
He got on the Autobahn heading south and blessed Germany’s higher speed limits as he floored it. Elijah couldn’t be driving very fast, not pulling a caravan. He guesstimated that it would take a good four hours for him to reach Strasbourg, assuming he drove straight through and didn’t pull off the highway to rest. But he couldn’t assume that. In fact, given that it was now nearly two in the morning, it made more sense to assume that he would stop at some point. That meant every rest area he would have to pull off and look for the blue caravan.
About an hour and a half later, tearing down the A61, Sean saw slowed and pulled off at rest stop. As he drove down the exit ramp, he saw a small blue caravan parked in the lot. His heart leapt with joy. He’d found him! He pulled alongside the caravan, jumped out of the car leaving the engine running and banged on the door. His abused fist protested, but he didn’t give a shit.
“Elijah, it’s me, Sean,” he called, banging some more. “Elijah, I’m here.”
He could barely contain his emotions as he waited for Elijah to open the door. Tears of joy fought with the biggest smile in the history of the world, but when the door finally opened, shock replaced them both.
"Wass'n los?" A disgruntled man in tee shirt and boxers demanded irritably. To judge from the state of his shock of white hair and the creases lining his face, he had clearly been sound asleep.
Oh shit. “Sorry, falsche Adresse,” he blurted out, jumped back in the car, and took off like a bat out of hell.
It seemed a very bad omen, but Sean tried to remain positive as he continued down the A61, kilometer after kilometer ticking by on the odometer, and no sign of the small blue caravan anywhere. He stopped for gas and a cup of coffee as the first hint of gray light heralding dawn appeared in the sky, and continued on. He was desperately tired and losing hope. Elijah could be anywhere, he thought. Off on some side road, or possibly gone in an entirely different direction. Klara had no definite proof that he’d headed toward Strasbourg.
He passed a sign saying that the next rest area was 10 kilometers ahead. I should take a nap, he thought, dropping the empty coffee cup on the floor. He was afraid that in his wrecked state he might drive right past Elijah without even realizing it. But if he did, how much further ahead might Elijah get? No, he had to keep going. He’d pull off, check for the caravan, and go.
For a moment, he honestly thought he was delusional when he spied a second small blue caravan. But then he realized it was no hallucination. This time, keeping in mind that there could be someone other than Elijah inside it, he didn’t leave the car still running, dash up to the door and start banging like someone demented. Besides, he was so afraid of being disappointed again that he was half-afraid to get out of the car. He didn’t know if he could take another crushing disappointment.
The first thing he heard when he summoned his nerve and got out was guitar music, achingly sweet and mournful. He recognized the song at once. Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine.
He’d found Elijah.
The door was unlocked as it had been the first time. Sean didn’t knock, but quietly opened it and mounted the familiar steps. He said nothing, only stood staring at the young man sitting on the banquette, his dark head bent over an acoustic guitar, his fingers – those callused musician’s fingers that had played Sean like an instrument – moving unerringly over the strings. Strangely, now that he’d found him, Sean was in no hurry to make his presence known. He remained where he was, drinking in the sight of Elijah lost in his music, every note he played pure and perfect and beautiful beyond belief – like Elijah himself.
When the last chord was struck and faded into silence, only then did Sean say softly, “Elijah.”
Elijah’s head jerked up. His eyes went wide with astonishment. “Sean?” he breathed as if he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Then astonishment turned to a blaze of unmistakable joy as he accepted the truth of his own eyes. “Oh my god. It is you.” He set the guitar aside and the next instant he was in Sean’s arms, clinging to him so tightly that Sean could feel the convulsive tremors wracking his body.
“Oh my god,” Elijah repeated in an incredulous voice. “Oh my god. I thought I’d never see you again.”
Sean held Elijah impossibly closer, as if he might disappear at any moment, and said in a tear-choked whisper, “I couldn’t leave, Elijah. I had to find you and tell you.”
“Tell me what?” Elijah pulled back slightly to look at him. His eyes were red-rimmed but dry.
“That I love you,” Sean replied, and at that a single silver tear slipped free and ran down Elijah’s pale cheek. Sean wiped it tenderly away with his forefinger.
“But you don’t know anything about me,” Elijah said, more tears following the first.
Sean shook his head. “You’re wrong. I know everything about you that matters.” With a sob, Elijah buried his face in Sean’s shoulder. “But Elijah, I have to ask: why didn’t you tell me the truth? Why did you let me believe that you were a prostitute?”
“How did you find out?” Elijah said in a muffled voice.
“I talked to a woman named Klara. She told me. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have known where to start looking for you.” His arms tightened. “But I never would have stopped looking until I found you.”
Elijah looked up, his heart in his eyes, and their lips met in a kiss that began in desperation, the desperation of two people who had feared never to meet again, but gentled as the knowledge that that fear was now behind them suffused their souls with joy and peace.
When they finally broke apart, Sean took Elijah’s hand in his and turned it palm up. Lightly, he touched the calluses on the pads of his fingers. “You’re a musician,” he said.
Elijah nodded. “Yeah, I am. I was in Europe touring with this band I belonged to – the guy who started it was my boyfriend. When the tour was over, we decided to stay on for a couple weeks and rented this caravan in Strasbourg. We toured around France for a while then went up to Amsterdam. Things weren’t going well between us, hadn’t been for quite a while, and sharing such a small space together 24/7 made it obvious it wasn’t going to work. Instead of bringing us closer, we just got on each other’s nerves big time. While we were in Amsterdam, he took off - just up and disappeared one afternoon. I’m pretty sure he hooked up with some other guy. So there I was, stuck with the caravan we’d rented, and I decided to head back to Strasbourg, do a little sightseeing on the way, and catch a flight home to the U.S.”
Sean said nothing although anger filled him at the thought of Elijah being abandoned that way. He laced their fingers together, sending the silent message: I will never walk out on you.
“Anyway, when I got to Cologne it was late and I was desperately looking for someplace to stop for the night. When I saw all the caravans in the park on the Eifeltor, I assumed it was a campground. So I just pulled into an empty spot with no idea what it really was.”
“And then I showed up.”
“And then you showed up.” Elijah bent his head. “Sean, you were so confused, so lost, so in need… I couldn’t bear it. I didn’t think it would hurt to help you if I could, and I thought it would be easier for you if you didn’t have to worry about any emotional entanglement. So I let you think I was a hooker. It seemed an innocent enough deception if it meant you could find peace with being gay.”
“I can understand that much,” Sean said, “but it’s what came after that I don’t get.”
“Don’t you?” Elijah raised their joined hands to his lips and kissed them. “I fell for you, Sean. I fell for you so hard.”
Sean did see then, or thought he did. “And of course after what happened with that asshole walking out on you, you wouldn’t want to risk being involved with someone else so soon.”
Unexpectedly, Elijah smiled. “Is that what you think? Sean, you’re wrong. God, I was so fucking glad to see the last of Jason, especially when I met you and I realized what love really is.” The smile faded. “Only you’d just admitted to yourself that you were gay. I was the first guy you ever had sex with. How could I tell you the truth – tell you that I was in love with you? You were so vulnerable. It would’ve been like taking advantage of you. I couldn’t do that.”
“Oh Elijah, I wish you could have seen inside my heart. You would never have worried that it was taking advantage to tell me the truth.” Sean hugged him close again. “I can’t tell you how honored I am that you were my first, but I’m even more honored that you’ll be my last – and you will be my last, I promise. And just so you know, you can take advantage of me any time you like, beginning with right now.”
But Elijah pulled away. “Wait. There’s something I have to return to you.” He pulled open a drawer, removed the three 20 Euro notes that Sean had given him and held them out. “Taking this money from you was the hardest thing I ever did.”
Sean reached out but he didn’t take the money. Instead, he closed Elijah’s fingers around them. “Keep them,” he said. “Consider them part of my share.”
Elijah looked puzzled. “Share of what?”
“Our expenses. I’ve always wanted to kick around Europe in a caravan.”
“What about your job?” But Elijah’s eyes were shining and a happy smile curved his lips.
“I’d already decided to hand in my resignation. I’m ready to move on.”
Elijah stuffed the bills in his back pocket. Then he said, the words causing a reminiscent shiver to run through Sean, “What is it you want, Sean? Tell me what you want.”
There was only one answer this time. “I want you, Elijah.”
He got him. Later, they fell asleep in each other’s arms in the bed at the back of the small blue caravan that truly was, now and forever, a caravan of love.