Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mario - A Story - 17

“What the hell kind of a question is that?” Tate barked out as he stared angrily at Mario.

They were alone in Mario’s living room after he’d sent Wil upstairs to play, much against the boy’s will. When he was out of earshot Mario had given Tate an abbreviated version of what he’d gone through with the detectives, ending by asking, “Did you take things into your own hands? Maybe decide to teach Jonah a lesson and went too far?”

“No way in hell!” Tate said forcefully after he took a deep breath to try to calm down. “That’s not something I’d do, no matter what. The last I saw of him he was clinging to a tree because he could barely stand.”

“All right, I believe you, but I had to ask.”

“I know.” Tate sat down on the sofa and drummed his fingers on the arm. “I didn’t kill him, I know you didn’t, not that way they said he died. You don’t have it in you I don’t think, or at least not unless he was threatening Wil.” He leaned his head back to stare at the ceiling. “Did they say how he was beaten?”

“No.” Mario settled down on the opposite end of the sofa, perched on the edge as if he was going to take flight at any moment. “They just said someone beat him to death.”

“So it could have been fists or something else.”

“I suppose so, yes. Does it make a difference?”

Tate held out his hands, palms down so Mario could see his knuckles. “If it was with fists there’d be evidence of it, broken skin, bruised knuckles. I don’t have those and neither do you.”

Mario looked at his hands and then Tate’s and nodded. “So I suppose I should hope someone used their fists on him. Damn, what a horrible thing to wish.” He bit his lip suddenly, a stricken look on his face. “Why don’t I feel any sadness for his dying like that? Why doesn’t hurt that he’s dead? I mean…once I thought I might love him.”

“He threw that away the first time he hit you, Mario. You should be upset that he’s dead, yeah, and you probably will be soon enough. You’re still in shock and then to have the cops think you might be his killer on top of that, you’re still processing it all I think. But I also suspect that any grief you’ll feel will be for the loss of someone you knew, not for someone you once cared for.”

“Maybe.” Mario scrubbed his hands over his face. “So what do I do now, wait for them to come and arrest me?”

“No, now you tell me every last thing you know or remember about him. Who his friends were, who he didn’t like. I need to know about every person in his life that you can think of. If this was personal and not random then it has to have been done by someone who knew and hated him.”

“Oh boy. All right.” Mario went to get a pad of paper and a pen then sat down again. He quickly wrote down three names, explaining to Tate they were men he’d met when he and Jonah had first started going out together. “Before Jonah had decided we should spend all our time alone at his place.”

Tate waited for him to continue. When he didn’t he said, “Those were his only friends?”

“I honestly don’t know. The only time he talked about anyone was to make an occasional comment about someone or another at work and I don’t remember their names.” Mario scribbled something at the bottom of the paper. “The name of his company,” he told Tate.

“Think about his place. Were there any photos of people, on his desk or bureau and did you ask about them?”

“No to both questions. He didn’t even have family pictures around.”

“Nothing on his fridge even,” Tate asked.

“On his fridge?”

Tate chuckled. “You should see mine. That’s where I put snapshots of family and friends. It’s a veritable photo album without having to turn pages.”

Mario smiled as he pictured that. It faded quickly when Tate asked if Jonah lived alone. “He did all the time we were together,” Mario told him. “He said he hated roommates unless he was involved with them. ‘Too nosey’ I think was his comment. But the detectives told me he has…had one.”

“Really? So he found someone to replace you. And if that’s the case why would he have been stalking you?”

“Hell if I know,” Mario muttered.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mario - A Story - 16

“Now you were saying, Mr. Bassani?” Detective Forson looked questioningly at him then wrote something in his notebook.

Mario pressed his fingers to his temples and cheekbones as he stared down at the table. He took a deep breath and said quietly. “We were in a relationship but I was the one who broke it off after he attacked me, twice, and almost hit my son the second time.”

“I see. So it was an abusive relationship. What did he do once you ended it? I’d presume he wasn’t happy about that.”

Mario looked up and shook his head. “No. He started stalking me.”

“Did you report that to the police?”

“Nope. I figured it wouldn’t do any good as I had no proof to offer. I just knew that he was.”

“How did you know,” Oates asked, leaning over, his hands flat on the table.

“He showed up here several times and once at the park where I took Wil to play.” Mario stopped there. He wasn’t willing to tell them about Jonah’s confrontation with Tate.

Oates looked unbelieving. “It sounds to me like he was just trying to mend fences.”

“That’s why I didn’t report it,” Mario protested. “I knew that’s how you, well they, whoever, would feel. But you weren’t the one that got verbally and physically assaulted. I was. And I kicked him out because of that. He’s violent when he drinks damn it.”

“Was…perhaps, Mr. Bassani. We only have your word for that. He’s dead now and whoever did that to him obviously hated him.” Oates kept his hard gaze locked on Mario for a long moment before he turned to Forson. “I think we should take him down town to finish this conversation.”

“You’re arresting me?” Mario said in shock.

“Not arresting, just questioning, for now.”

Forson tapped a lip then shook his head. “Let’s wait ‘til we get all the reports back then we’ll have a better idea what to ask.”

Mario could tell Oates wanted to drag him away on the spot and prayed that Forson’s common sense would prevail. After a long moment Oates nodded with reluctance then turned back to Mario. “You’re free, for now, but we will be talking to you again so do not think about leaving town.”

“Yes sir,” Mario replied meekly. He sighed with relief when the two detectives walked swiftly out of the room and put his head down on his arms.

That’s how Mr. Reiter found him a few minutes later. He pulled out the same chair Forson had been using and sat down. “So what’s going on?” he asked.

“Jonah’s been killed, murdered.”

“Couldn’t have happened to a better man in my opinion,” Mr. Reiter stated adamantly.

“Maybe, but the police think I did it. Or I think they think that. They didn’t come right out and say it.”

“Do you have an alibi for when it happened?”

Mario shook his head. “I’m pretty sure from what they said he was killed late last night and of course I was home in bed.”

“Alone,” Mr. Reiter said with a small smile.

“Yes, alone. Trust me I’m not looking for someone to keep me company there, not after what Jonah put me through.”

“I was just kidding, Mario. Look, if you want to leave now it’s okay. It’s not that busy today.”

“No. Thanks for the offer but if I did I’d just go home and worry about it all. At least here there’s something to take my mind off of it.”

“All right.” Mr. Reiter stood up. “Come on out as soon as you’re ready.”

“I will. Thanks.”

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mario - A Story - 15

Mario was in the small break-room off of the kitchen at the restaurant when he heard someone speak his name. He looked up from his book to see two men in suits standing across from him. “I’m Mario Bassani,” he said. “How can I help you?”

“We’d like to ask you a few questions, sir,” one of them said. He took out his wallet to show Mario his badge. “I’m Detective Forson, and this is Detective Oates.”

Mario looked at the badge then back at the Detective. Suddenly he felt a wave of panic. “Something’s happened to Wil.”

Forson frowned. “Who’s Wil, sir?”

“My son.”

“As far as we know he’s fine. We’re here about Jonah Heath.”

Mario slumped in relief. “Jonah? Oh great, what’s he done now?”

“He’s dead. Murdered.” Forson said succinctly.

“He’s what?” Mario sat up straight again as he stared at the Detective in shock.

“His badly beaten body was found in an alley not too far from here. We found your name and address as well as the restaurant’s on his cell.”

“His cell?” All Mario could think was that it couldn’t have been a robbery then, and he said so.

“No sir, nothing points to robbery.” Forson pulled out the chair across the table from Mario, sat down and took out a notebook and pen. “What was your relationship to Mr. Heath?”

“Relationship? We were friends.” Mario hoped his face didn’t belie that statement.

“How close a friendship was it, sir?”

“Close?” Mario tried to play dumb. “We were just…friends.”

“That’s not what his roommate said.”

“Roommate?” Mario whispered. “He doesn’t have a roommate.”
“Apparently he did. The man said he’s been living there for the past month. He also told us that to the best of his knowledge you and Mr. Heath had been lovers until Mr. Heath broke off the relationship.”

“No way! He’s not the one…” Mario clamped his mouth shut as he realized what he’d just admitted.

The door opened at that moment and one of the waiters stuck his head in to remind Mario his break was over. Detective Oates told him that Mario would be out when they were finished talking to him and not before. The waiter shot a look at Mario, frowned and left.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mario - A Story - 14

Tate jerked awake when someone rapped on the side window of his car. He shook his head to clear it and rubbed his hands over his eyes before he turned to see who was there. Mario stared back at him. Tate rolled down the window and with a small grimace said, “Good morning.”

“Why are you here? I saw you drive away last night.”

“I had a bit of a run-in with your ex.”

“How the hell did he..?” Mario paled. “He was here.”

“That was sort of my thinking so I decided to come back just in case.”

“Damn it.” Mario ran a hand through his hair, sighed and said, “You might as well come inside. We were just about to eat breakfast before I take Wil to Maria’s.”

“At this hour?” Tate asked as he opened the car door and realized the sun was barely up.

“Yep. I have to be at work by six-thirty.” Mario led the way into the duplex and smiled when Wil launched himself at Tate. Tate picked him up to carry him back into the kitchen.

“Why you here?” Wil asked when Tate set him down on his chair.

“Why are you,” both adults said at the same time. Tate looked at Mario and laughed. “And I don’t even have kids.”

“I think it’s ingrained no matter what,” Mario replied as he got out another bowl and a plate, set them on the table and then put two slices of bread in the toaster.

Tate looked at the two boxes of cereal that stood there. When Wil immediately pushed one towards him he took it, poured some into his bowl, added milk and was about to reach for the sugar when he realized the cereal was pre-sweetened. He hated that kind but bit back on saying so since he didn’t want to hurt Wil’s feelings.

Mario watched with amusement and as he handed Tate his toast he whispered, “Thanks.”

Tate shivered when the breath of the whisper caressed his ear. Quickly he dug into the cereal to cover is impulse to do something he shouldn’t and touch Mario.

Mario, completely oblivious to what he’d done, sat down opposite Tate to finish his breakfast.

Wil looked at his father and then Tate. With all the wisdom of a five-year-old he said, “Tate’s here because Jonah was.”

“Yeah, I am,” Tate told him. “But it was last night, before I left, and he followed me so you were safe.”

“I know. You made the house safe.”

Mario ruffled Wil’s hair. “Yes he did, and he’ll make it even safer tonight.”

“And I can help. He promised.”

“That I did Wil.”

“Okay guys,” Mario said as he got up. “Hate to say it but it’s time to get a move on. Wil, go get your things please.”

After Wil dashed from the kitchen Mario began to clean up. Tate immediately leant a hand despite Mario’s protests. “Hey, I ate, I do dishes, or at least rinse them off,” Tate stated. Mario smiled and let him, so by the time Wil reappeared they were finished and ready to leave.

As they left the house Tate reminded Mario to set the alarm to notify him if anything happened, just in case. With a nod Mario did then closed and locked the door, took Wil’s hand and headed to his car.

“Bye, Tate,” Wil called out before he got into the car.

“Bye you two,” Tate replied. He watched until they were safely on their way then returned to his car. He was going home to get some sleep before he had to face the rest of the day and the two clients who, thankfully, had afternoon appointments.

Blogged at Mahalia Levey's site.

Hope you enjoy my 'frustrations'. I don't. LOL

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mario - A Story - 13

As Tate drove away he smiled to himself when he realized that he wouldn’t have Miranda on his ass because he’d worked a twelve hour day. That was in the past now and although some part of him missed her it was well buried under the idea that he was free to do as he pleased now without recriminations.

And what he didn’t want to do was go home quite yet. The problem was he had no where else to go, not really. He wasn’t a man with a lot of friends and those he did have were from before his divorce. Besides which, on a Monday night he couldn’t exactly drop in on any of them since they worked normal wage-slave hours.

So he drove slowly down the avenue with no particular destination in mind until he saw the lights of a club off to the left a block or so ahead of him. He went past it, looked for a break in traffic and hung a turn onto a side street. It took a while but he found a parking place and then walked back to the avenue.

When he got inside the club he shied away from the noise of voices, and music blasting from the loudspeakers. ‘Damn, it’s been a while. Forgot it was so noisy.’ He paused then bit the bullet and made his way to the bar where he ordered a beer. ‘I getting old,’ he thought with a rueful shake of his head.

For half an hour he sat and sipped his beer while he watched the men and women interact, some friendly, some quite obviously on the make as they searched for someone to go home with. Or in the case of a few men he saw carefully pairing off with other men, into the john for some quick relief.

‘This is not my thing anymore’ he decided. He finished his beer, set the bottle down on the bar and left.

He was half way down the block to the street where he’d parked when he heard someone say belligerently, “Stay away from him.” Tate spun around to see the blonde bruiser, Jonah, standing, well weaving, a few yards behind him.

Tate played it dumb and asked, “From who?”

“You know who. Mario. Stay away from him.”

“You’re getting repetitive.”

“I’ll ‘repetitive’ you,” Jonah snarled as he took a few staggering steps towards Tate.

With a shake of his head, Tate spun on his heel and walked away. He turned the corner onto the darkened side street and waited to see if Jonah intended to follow.

“’fraid a me?” Jonah slurred as he came into view. “Should be. He’s mine. Stay away.”

“Why the hell would I be afraid of a drunken, abusive excuse for a human being?” Tate spat out in annoyance. “Go home, sober up, and grow up.”

Jonah took a lurching swing at Tate and missed by a few feet. That didn’t stop him from trying again. This time he tripped over his own feet and staggered into a tree. He swore when his fist hit it then leaned against the tree to get his balance.

With a snort Tate continued on his way. He glanced back once to see Jonah still using to tree to stay upright. ‘Stupid fucker,’ he thought.

It wasn’t until he got to his car that it hit him. How had Jonah even known Tate knew Mario? There were only two ways, he’d followed Mario to Tate’s office or he had found out where Mario lived and seen Tate coming and going this evening. Unfortunately, Tate thought, it was probably the latter or else how would Jonah have found him here.

He drove as fast as was legal back to Mario’s home. All the lights were off so rather than wake Mario up Tate parked across the street and settled in to keep an eye on the place until morning.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Where have all the bookstores gone…..

Long time passing?

That’s what I want to know. Okay, I’ll admit I don’t own a car so I can’t just jump in and spend gas money driving to one of the few several miles from me.

The question really hit me last week. I grocery shop at a store by a high-end mall two miles from home. The mall is also cheek-by-jowl with three streets of high-end shops. Is there a book store anywhere there? No. There used to be. One of the best indy bookstores in the city was across the street from the mall until a couple of years ago. It was a great loss when it moved but there was still a bookstore in the mall. I found out last week it too had vanished.

Now the only place I can buy books (without taking a bus or two to get to Barnes-Noble or the relocated indy, or used bookshops somewhere) is in the grocery store or the drugstore next door to it. Do you know what they carry? –rolling my eyes- Pseudo best-sellers and romances. Don’t shoot me but I’m not a big fan of m/f gushy romances. Sorry.

Anyway, the point of this ‘rant’ is…

Don’t people like to go to bookstores any more to choose their books? Have they lost the desire to browse and touch and decide that way if they want a book? Or spot one on the shelves that they didn’t even know they wanted until they saw it?

It’s beginning to look as if they have, at least to me. And that’s a real pity in my book. (excuse the pun)


Monday, June 20, 2011

Mario - A Story - 12

Mario handed Tate his cup, added some sugar to his own coffee, then suggested they go into the living room where it was more comfortable. When they were settled he asked, “How did you decide to become an investigator?”

“I’ve always been nosey,” Tate admitted with a smile. “I like knowing why people do what they do and I actually enjoy stopping the ones who need stopped. I seem to have a nose for ferreting out the bad guys. I’m also good at deciding whether someone is as bad as a client thinks or if it’s all in the client’s head.”

“This isn’t in my head,” Mario said defensively.

“I know it’s not. Remember I saw Jonah, only that one time at the restaurant but it was very obvious he was not happy with you. How the hell did you get hooked up with him in the first place?”

Mario looked down at the cup in his hands and took a drink before he replied. “I’ve always, well since I accepted I was gay, gravitated to men who were bigger and stronger than me. Men who wanted to protect me or acted like they did.” He looked over at Tate. “Not that there’ve been that many, three actually in the last five years. Two of them sort of, well they did walk away. They didn’t like coming second to Wil in my life. Jonah seemed different at first. He seemed to accept that Wil came first and dealt with it. I thought.”

“He wasn’t drinking then?”

“Not that I knew of but then we were only dating. What he did when I wasn’t around was his business as long as he wasn’t doing anyone else. That’s what set things off I think. The first time he showed up drunk, really drunk, he looked like hell too and I got smart-mouthed and asked whose bed he’d come from.”

“He went off on you I take it.”

“Oh yeah. Not physically, that came later.”

“Why the hell did you stay in the relationship?”

“If I knew that, Tate, I might not have. Need I suppose, and hope that it was just an aberration, that something was going on with him that pushed the wrong buttons and it would go away and we’d be back to normal again.”

“Didn’t, did it?” Tate said with a mixture of pity and anger.

“No.” Mario sighed deeply. “I keep wondering, if I’d broken off with him after that first time, if he would have just have walked away and none of this would be happening.”

“Hard to tell, Mario. But it is and as soon as I have this place totally secure we’ll see what we can do to make him back off and leave you alone.”

“If that’s possible.”

“We’re going to do our damnedest to make it happen.” Tate put his cup down and stood. “It’s getting late. Go get some sleep. I’ll be back tomorrow night to finish up here.”

“All right. Not sure I’ll sleep but…” Mario yawned. “Or maybe I will after all.”

“You will. But do it upstairs, not on the sofa.”

Mario looked at him in surprise. “How did you know..?”

Tate grinned. “Lucky guess but I gather I hit the nail on the head. So up you get because you need to set the alarm after I leave.” Tate hefted his bag onto his shoulder then headed to the door.

“Again, thank you,” Mario said when Tate stepped onto the stoop.

“Again, welcome. See you tomorrow night.”

Mario watched him get into his car before he shut the door and turned on the alarm. As he did he wondered what his life would have been like if he’d met someone like Tate instead of Jonah. ‘If wishes were horses…’ he thought as he headed up to bed.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mario - A Story - 11

Mario laughed. “Wil doesn’t usually move that fast, at least at bedtime.”

“It’s all in the motivation.” Tate stretched then said, “Give me your phone so I can link it to the system while we’re waiting.”

While Tate worked Mario studied him even as he kept an ear open for any untoward sounds from Wil. Then he shook his head when he realized what he’d been doing, and where his mind was going.

Tate caught the motion and looked over at him with an arched eyebrow.

“Nothing,” Mario said quickly. “Just…thinking.”

“Good thoughts from the look on your face.”

Instead of replying, because at the moment he couldn’t think how to, Mario quickly got up, went to the bottom of the stairs and called out, “You all right up there Wil?”

Tate chuckled to himself as he watched Mario flee, because that’s what he was doing. He had an idea what Mario had been thinking just from his reaction and felt, well flattered he supposed. While he was no stud and never would be he knew he wasn’t bad looking, for his age. Maybe a few too many lines on his face but he thought they gave him character. Not that it mattered if they did or not because he was dead certain that the good looking young man standing with his back to him at the moment had only been idly wondering, if that, about what might happen if…

Wil's bounding down the stairs and across the room to Tate put an abrupt end to Mario’s musings. Tate spent the next few minutes explaining to the boy what each item in the bag was and how it was used.

When Wil yawned widely Mario picked him up and told him in no uncertain terms he was taking him up and tucking him in. Wil waved sleepily at Tate over Mario’s shoulder as they left. Tate smiled and waved back then finished off the adjustments he’d been making to Mario’s phone. He was done at the same time that Mario reappeared.

“I should get going,” Tate told him as he packed up.

“If you want some coffee first I can make some,” Mario replied with some hesitancy.

Tate considered the idea and shrugged casually. “Sure, why not.” He followed when Mario went into the kitchen and watched with a trace of amusement as he skittishly filled the pot and the basket then set the coffee to brewing. When Mario turned around to lean against the counter Tate said, “You’re going to be all right.”

“I…I know. It’s just, well you being here, doing this, it just makes it all the more real that I’ve got something to be afraid of.”

“Good. That will make you even more careful. From what you’ve said I suspect evenings and nights are when you need to be more aware of what’s going on around you. I doubt he starts off the day drinking, not if he’s got a job.”

“He does, and one where coming to work half-drunk would get him fired. So, yeah, I think you’re right.”

“Things here are secure enough at the moment,” Tate continued, “though I am going to add the rest of what I want done tomorrow evening, now that I have the lay of the land.”

“Thank you,” Mario said gratefully.

“Hey,” Tate replied with a grin, “nothing to thank me for. I’m going to make a small fortune doing this.” When Mario’s eyes widened in shock Tate laughed. “I’m kidding. It’s not going to cost all that much.”

“Whew. I wasn’t lying when I said I had a bit put aside from my grandparents, but I really would like to keep some of it for emergencies.”

“Not a problem, and I think the coffee’s ready.”

Mario turned to check then got out cups which he filled as he asked, “Cream, sugar?”

“Nope, I take mine straight.” Tate was tempted to say, ‘Unlike my men,’ but figured this was neither the time nor the place to joke about that even if Mario had known he was bi, which he didn’t.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mario - A Story - 10

After Tate parked in front of Mario’s duplex he sat and studied it. It was two stories, with a basement he figured from the steps leading up to the entrance. The neighborhood was decent, family oriented he thought from the number of kids and accompanying parents he saw either sitting on stoops or out for an after dinner walk.

He got out of the car and went to ring the bell. Moments later the door opened. He shook his head as he looked at Mario. “Did you even check to be certain it was me?”

Mario pointed to the peephole in the door with a nod then stepped back to let Tate in. “I’m not totally stupid,” he said with a smile.

At that moment a small boy came into view. He stopped shyly at the entrance to the living room to stare at Tate.

“You must be Wil. I’m Tate,” Tate said as he held out his hand.

Wil looked at his father and when he nodded the boy crossed slowly to shake Tate’s hand. “You’re the man who’s going to fix things.”

“I’m going to try.” Tate shot a look at Mario, wondering exactly what he’d told Wil.

“He knows,” Mario said. “I figured it was best he did.”

“We don’t want Jonah here,” Wil put in with a sharp nod of his head. “He’s not a nice man.” He looked up at Tate. “Are you a nice man?”

Tate chuckled. “So I’ve been told. You want to tag along while I check the place out?”

“Can I?” Wil’s face lit up. He looked at the bag Tate had slung over his shoulder. “Do you got guns and stuff in there.”

“Have,” Mario said automatically.

“Have. Do you?” Wil didn’t take his eyes off of Tate.

“No guns I’m afraid, but yeah there’s ‘stuff’ in case we need it.”

“Can I see?”

“Wil,” Mario said firmly. “I’m sure when the time comes you can but first we need to show him around.”

“That might be a good idea,” Tate said with a chuckle.

Half an hour later Tate had a good idea what more should be added to make the duplex safer from intruders, especially from Jonah.

“Your security system is good,” he told Mario, “as far as it goes. Unfortunately whoever installed, probably the owner, it didn’t cover the second floor. Those stops you have on the windows up there wouldn’t keep a determined person from opening them. You need to alarms on them linked into the system like the ones down here, and on the back gate. I’d also suggest security cameras.”

Mario nodded. “You can do all this? Oh, and what if someone tries to break in when we’re not here?”

“I can. Setting up security is one of my specialties. When I’m finished the system will send any alerts to your cell when you’re not at home.”

“Then let’s do it.”

Wil asked sleepily, “Can I help you Tate?”

“Sure, but not tonight. I think it’s probably your bedtime.”

“It is,” Mario said firmly when Wil started to protest. “You have school tomorrow.”

“But daddy…”

“No buts. Upstairs now. I’ll be up in a minute.”

“I never got to see…” Wil pointed to Tate’s bag.

With a glance at Mario, Tate said, “If it’s all right with your dad I’ll show you when you’re ready for bed.”

Wil immediately jumped up and raced upstairs.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mario - A Story - 9

“What came next? We moved.” Mario said. “We were very careful, well as much as possible, to make certain Jonah wasn’t around when it happened.”

Tate nodded. “He found you anyway?”

“Oh no. He came to the restaurant again only this time he was at least half drunk and pissed because I’d moved.” Mario sighed deeply. “I think if the people I work with hadn’t stood by me he might have done something. As it was he went outside, telling me he was going to wait for me so we could talk. I left by the backdoor.”

“Have you seen him since? And when did this happen? And more importantly have you reported him to the police yet?”

“I haven’t seen him, no. It happened last Friday evening. Truthfully I don’t see any good coming from my talking to the police. I have no real evidence he’s stalking me, or that he really intends to harm me. It’s just a gut feeling.”

“Never ignore those, especially in a case like this. So, what do you think I can do?” Tate smiled a bit. “I’m not some movie PI who’ll go threaten him or beat him up and tell him to stay away from you or else. That wouldn’t work anyway; he’d just take it as a challenge.”

“I didn’t expect you would,” Mario replied, essaying a small smile in return. “I guess I was hoping you’d have some ideas on what I can do to stay safe from him other than moving again.”

“For starters I can check your new place out and set up some security if it needs it. How old is your son by the way? Young I take it from how you described his reaction in the park, and from looking at you.”

“He’s five. Why?”

“In school yet?” Mario nodded. “Then you have to talk to the people at the school, sign papers if necessary that state who’s allowed to pick your son up. Who would they be?”

“Me and my sister, that’s it. Well her husband too I guess. You don’t think…” A flash of fear crossed Mario’s face.

“Seriously I doubt he’d harm your son as that would get him no where. I’m not going to sugar coat it though, he could try to take him from the school and use him as leverage to make you come talk to him, or whatever he’s got in mind now.”

Mario scrubbed his hands through his hair. “Maybe I should just pick up and leave the city.”

“I’m not sure that would do any good if Jonah’s fixated on you, and it sounds as if he is. Set things up with the school, and for God’s sake tell them why so they’ll know it’s serious. When can I come to your place to check it out?”

“I’d say tonight but…”

“Tonight it is.”

“I suppose I should ask what this is going to cost me.”

Tate chuckled. “Probably.” He took a sheet of paper from a desk drawer. “These are my rates. I’m open to time payments if that works better for your budget. I doubt you make a fortune as a waiter.”

“Not really,” Mario agreed. “I do have money though, from my grandparents’ wills, so paying you won’t make me destitute. Besides all things considered it’s worth it.”

“All right then.” Tate handed him some more papers to fill out, took the retainer check Mario wrote, and they set a time for Tate to come to the house.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

'The Normal Heart' just won a Tony award for best revival

Larry Kramer's "The Normal Heart" won the best revival prize and two actors from the AIDS drama — Ellen Barkin and John Benjamin Hickey — also won. Barkin, making her Broadway debut, was declared the best actress in a featured role in a play, while Hickey took home the male equivalent honor.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mario - A Story - 8

Tate checked his appointment book, saw he had time still, and ran down to the coffee shop for his usual, black with no additives. As he waited in line he glanced around and felt a sort of freedom. Now that the divorce was final he could check out the men who were there. Not that he did it in any obvious manner but just the idea that he could look without feeling guilty was liberating. Of course there wasn’t even one who remotely appealed to him but it was the idea that counted.

He chuckled when he realized that the barista had been trying to get his attention, gave her his order, paid her and headed back upstairs.

As he stepped off the elevator he saw a man pacing the hall in front of his office door. He looked vaguely familiar although Tate couldn’t figure out why. The man turned and stopped with a hopeful if nervous look on his face.

“Mr. Kendall?”

“I am. If you’re Mr. Bassani then come on in,” Tate replied as he got to the door and unlocked it.

“Thank you.”

Tate led him through the tiny waiting room into his office. “Please have a seat, Mr. Bassani,” he said as he sat down behind the desk.

“Please, call me Mario.”

“Mario it is, and I’m Tate. Now exactly how do you think I can help you?”

After he took a deep breath Mario replied, “I think, maybe, that I’m being stalked.”

“Maybe? You’re not certain?”

“Well… All right yes I’m fairly certain, I think. God, this is hard.”

“Start at the beginning.”

“Okay. I had a lover, a boy friend…”

Mario hesitated as if waiting for a negative reaction from Tate. Instead Tate smiled, then snapped his fingers. “I knew I’d seen you somewhere. You work at a restaurant I stopped into one day. The boyfriend’s a big, burly blonde, right?”

Mario looked surprised but continued on. “Right. Jonah. Anyway we broke up, or more I did the breaking up after he beat me up a couple of times and almost hit my son the second time and, well…”

“Damn,” Tate spat out. “I take it he’s not willing to accept it.”

“No he’s not. He shows up at the restaurant, then one evening when I took my son to the park he showed up there too.” Mario frowned deeply. “The problem is it wasn’t planned, I mean our going there and it wasn’t the one we usually go to.”

“So this Jonah had to have followed you. Did he cause a problem there?”

“No. Just said he wanted to ‘talk’. That’s his usual excuse. I got out of there fast, mainly because Wil, that’s my son, was scared.”

“Had he seen you getting hit by Jonah?” When Mario nodded Tate remarked that it was not wonder the boy was afraid. “So what came next,” he asked, having a feeling there was still more to the story.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mario - A Story - 7

“Daddy, look,” Wil said seconds after Mario came through the front door of Maria’s place. “I made you an ashtray.”

Mario took it and chuckled when Maria said, “I tried to convince him to call it a candy dish since you don’t smoke but he said it was too small for that.”

“Well it is,” Wil told them adamantly.

“It’s great, no matter what we call it,” Mario replied as he picked Wil up and swung him around. “So, what’s for dinner?”

“That, brother mine, depends on what you’re cooking. The kitchen is all yours.”

“Maria,” Mario growled.

“Okay, okay, I’ll help,” her husband said. “Better than babysitting.” He grinned when the three kids protested as one that they weren’t babies, and then he followed Mario into the kitchen.

As Mario checked the fridge to see what was available David got a box of almost instant dinner from the cupboard to hand to him as he said, “Okay, fill me in. Maria was sort of cagey with the kids around.”

“Jonah showed up at the restaurant again, only this time he was two sheets to the wind and threatening.”

“Shit. Did you call the cops?”

Mario shook his head. “Though if he tries that again I might. They’ll say there’s nothing they can do but still…”

“It’ll be on file, Mario, that’s what counts.”

“I know.” Mario found the hamburger and began to brown it while David got out the rest of the ingredients they needed and opened the box.

“Can I make a suggestion?”


“Hire a PI or something like that to help you stay safe, or at least tell you how to.”

Mario frowned. “They do things like that?”

With a slight smile David told him, “They do on TV, might as well find out if that’s anywhere close to reality. If you find one who will you’re going to feel a hell of a lot better about it all.”

“I’ll…see what I can find, or who I guess.”


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mario - A Story - 6

The week after the move was calm as Mario and Wil settled into their new home. Maria came by twice with her kids to help Mario with the finishing touches, the second time bringing curtains for the front window to replace the venetian blinds, and to help him set up a swing-set that he’d bought in the backyard . She commented as they did so about the high cedar fence which surrounded the small yard.

“Makes me feel a lot safer,” Mario admitted somewhat ruefully. “Who knew I’d ever need the sense of protection it gives.”

“Hopefully you really never will,” she replied, hugging him.

He agreed wholeheartedly.

Then Friday afternoon came around and with it Jonah.

Mario had half an hour before his shift was over. The restaurant was fairly empty since it catered to the breakfast and lunch crowds. He was just in the process of wiping down the counters and filling shakers when the front door opened and Jonah walked in.

“There’s my man,” Jonah said with the heartiness of someone who had already had one too many drinks.

Mario looked up and shivered. “We’re about to…” He bit off the sentence. The last thing he needed was for Jonah to think he could wait around for him.

“Close.” Jonah smiled as he took a seat at the counter. “I know. That’s why I’m here.” His countenance darkened. “I was going to surprise you and go to the apartment. Imagine my surprise when I discovered you don’t live there any more.”

“Nope, we found a nice place through a friend and jumped at the chance,” Mario replied with a smile in an attempt to make light of the move.

“Where?” When Mario didn’t answer Jonah slammed his fist down on the counter and said loudly, “Where, Mario?”

“Sir,” Mr. Reiter said as he came up behind Jonah, “I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave. You’re disturbing the other customers.”

Jonah took a deliberate look around the restaurant. “What customers?” he sneered.

“Out, now.” Mr. Reiter said firmly as two of the other waiters stepped up beside him.

Jonah stood abruptly, reached across the counter to grab the front of Mario’s shirt and yanked him close. “This is not over. I’ll be waiting outside for you. I want to talk with you. Don’t try to avoid me. Understood?” He released his hold, fisted one hand then must have realized people were watching because he dropped it to his side and stalked angrily from the restaurant. Once he was outside he leaned up against the front window, arms crossed over his chest as he shot a defiant look inside.

“I’m going to call the police,” Mr. Reiter said.

“No, please don’t.” Mario’s voice was shaky. “That will only set him off more. I’ll go out the back way and…and catch a cab to the school…Oh hell.” He pulled out his cell. “What if…” Rapidly he placed a call, asking to speak to the principal. He explained very briefly that he was sending his sister to pick Wil up and he was not to let anyone else take him. Then he called Maria, told her in as few words as possible what had happened then asked her to go get Wil. “But please, just let him think it’s…that I’m meeting you at your place for dinner, or something.” He nodded, smiled slightly at what she said in return and hung up.

“She’s going to do it?” Mr. Reiter asked.

Mario nodded. “Yes. Now I just have to avoid…” he glanced at Jonah who still stood outside with his eyes now locked on the door, “him.”

“Take the bus bin back to the kitchen then get out of here. If he looks like he’s going to move I’ll go out and keep him busy.” Mr. Reiter smiled tightly. “I’ll read him the riot act for how he acted.”

“Just be careful, he likes to use his fists.”

“Don’t worry,” one of the other waiters said. “I’ll go out with him. That should make the ass think twice.”

“Thanks, all of you.” With a fearful look out the window Mario picked up the bin and headed quickly to the kitchen.