Protecting David-Finding Christopher 23
At two o’clock in the morning we were both in a daze from the road noise and the motion of the truck and Mei was adding up what I owed her.
“Thirteen hunert and twenty-two dollar.”
I knew that she was probably right because I really suck at Gin Rummy but I decided to give her a hard time.
I stared at her for a minute and dropped my jaw. “You’re kidding! That can’t be right!”
“What? Why would I kid?” She starred at me and made a face. “Don’t try and talk me out of it. You always think you don’t lose as much as you lose but I think maybe you think Mei will negotiate but she nah negotiates. You owe what I said.”
I kicked off my shoes and stretched out on the wooden bench. I was beyond exhaustion I needed a shower and the inside of my mouth felt disgusting.
She said, “Don’t sleep before you pay your bills! Tomorrow morning you try and tell me you don’t owe!”
“I’ll give you a check when we get outta this. Lemme sleep.”
“Don’t tell Mei that check is in the mail! You gots plenty money.”
I laughed. “But I got a family to support now. I got kids and they eat a ton. And then there’s college, I gotta save for their college education. Many many expenses.”
“And what about Mei? I’m a poor old woman without a husband to pay for things! What happens to Mei when the wolf is at the door? You got more monies than me, lots more!”
I propped myself up on my elbow and looked at her. “You’re supposed to look out for me! You should be keeping me safe from, among other things, Chinese ladies who play Gin Rummy.” She started to protest but I waved it away and reached into my suitcase for the money Dillon had given me.
I broke the paper band on one stack of bills and counted out fourteen one hundred dollar bills. “Here, you can buy me lunch with the change. If we ever get to anywhere where we can have lunch.”
She folded the bills casually and tucked them into a side pocket of her small purse. She looked at her watch and then said, “Maybe two more hours. You wanna play more cards?”
I shook my head and said, “What I’d like to do is sleep but that’s probably not gonna happen.” I had been thinking about the murder.
I was starring at the ceiling of the truck. “Do you think your guys will find out who did this or am I gonna be on the run forever?”
“They find out. Mr. Tam nah rest. This never happen before, makes him look very bad. For men like my grandfather is not good to embarrass them. He nah rest.”
I wasn’t used to trying to sleep on a wooden bench. I was used to sleeping in Larry’s arms with the soft sound of his breathing in my ear. God only knew how long it would be before that happened again. I didn’t really know how to prove that I was innocent but I did know how to make Bass pay for doing this to me and I began to plan my revenge.
It was still dark when we crossed the border from El Paso into Juarez. The border guards barely looked up and twenty minutes later we were at the airport. Our driver went past the main entrance and turned in at a small break in the chain link fence that surrounded the airport. We drove through what looked like an airplane burial ground and parked under the creaky metal awning of a deserted looking building very near the runway.
Our driver looked back at us and said, “You must be ready to go. The plane can’t be on the ground too long.” That was about five times as much conversation as we had gotten from him on the entire trip. We got our bags together and waited looking out at the runway. I saw that a small automatic pistol had appeared in Mei’s hand but she was trying to keep it out of sight.
I looked in her eyes and said, “What?”
She smiled. “Better safe than sorry.”
Several minutes later we could hear a plane and then suddenly it swept past us in a mind numbing roar only twenty or thirty feet above the ground. It was a large light colored private jet and it settled gently to the tarmac five hundred feet to our left. We watched as it finally came to a stop at the other end of the runway and then turned off onto a side runway and disappeared from our view. Then moments later it appeared again this time coming back to our end of the runway at a fast clip. It taxied past us with its engines screaming and our driver pulled out and followed it to near the end of the runway where the planes turn to take off. While the plane was still moving the door opened and the stairs lowered.
Our driver sped up and when the plane stopped he veered in towards the open door and stopped. Mei and I climbed awkwardly out of the back of the truck and ran to the waiting plane.
There was a man in a dark suit just inside the door and silhouetted in the light from the cabin. He grabbed my bag as soon as I stepped in and said to us, “Welcome aboard Mr. Krueger, Miss Liu, but please, we have no time. Please sit and buckle yourselves in.” His accent was very slight and German. The plane was already moving forward fast and making its turn onto the runway as the door was being closed and latched and I could just see the truck that we had been in for the last twelve hours disappearing into the night.
Mei and I grabbed the first row and buckled our seat belts. The man in the blue suit was sitting across from us and yelled against the roar of the engines, “We were only able to purchase a very limited period of amnesia from the people in the tower. We need to get out of here before they regain their ability to see.”
I didn’t hear any of the usual communication that you hear between the pilots and the tower. The pilot just seemed to hit the throttles and we were rocketing down the runway one moment and then rotating and soaring into the still dark early morning sky the next.
After we reached altitude the man in the dark suit got out of his seat and came over to us.
“Let me introduce myself. My name is Carl and I am to get you anything that you may need. Would you like some breakfast?”
“Carl, whose plane are we flying on?”
“This is the plane of the Banc Haussman.” I guess that figured.
“Where are we headed?”
Carl handed us both menus and said, “Herr Mueller has an estate near Geneva.” Leave it to Gerhardt.
After a great breakfast and after getting cleaned up Carl made up a couple of beds for us and then closed the shades on all of the windows of the plane and I was able to get a little sleep as we flew across the Atlantic. I dreamed of when I was a little boy living in Milwaukee with David and Mark. Mark was with me in the pool trying to teach me how to swim and he was holding me up in the water and telling me that everything was going to be okay and that I should just relax.
I said to him, “Dad, what if you let me go and I drown?”
Mark grinned at me. “Alex, I’m not gonna let anything happen to you. I’d never let you drown.”
It was just after midnight when we landed at the International Airport at Geneva. We had been travelling in one thing or another for almost twenty-four hours and I could barely walk. While I had been getting ready to leave the plane I noticed a dark BMW pulling up to the plane and when I walked outside, Didier, the handsome Frenchman who manages the real estate section at the Banc Hausmann, was standing at the bottom of the steps.
He was dressed in blue jeans with a white dress shirt and a leather jacket and he looked like a movie star. His black hair was being blown by the wind as he laughed and yelled, “Alex, you look like crap!” He jumped forward and wrapped his arms around me. “You know, if you lived in Europe where you’re supposed to this sort of thing would never have happened.” He kissed me on the cheek. “But we’re glad to get you anyway we can.”
I never expected to see him here. “Man, what are you doing here?”
While Mei and Carl loaded up the car Didier draped his arm around my neck. “When I found out what happened I thought this would be a great time to go over some things.”
He pushed me a bit away from him and looked at me. “I know this other thing is important but it will be solved. Gerhardt and your father are working on it and frankly when those two work together it’s a little scary, so it will be solved. Business, on the other hand, is forever! And with the way the economy is falling and now commercial real estate as well, well, the opportunities are vast.” He squeezed the back of my neck. “Besides, it’s nice to get away from the office for a change.”
As we were getting into the BMW he said, “We had some of your clothes picked up at your dad’s place in London and flown over. I would have gotten them from your apartment in Monte Carlo but I thought it best not to do that. God knows who might be watching.”
As he started the car he said, “My son Luc is with me but Gerhardt won’t be in until sometime tomorrow. Have you ever seen Gerhardt’s house here?”
I shook my head and said, “No but it seems to me that my dad said that it was pretty impressive.”
“It’s really magnificent! The original house has been in his family for a long time but he expanded it and completely remodeled it. It’s right on the lake.” He slowly shook his head. “There must be at least eight bedrooms, maybe more and his cook is fantastic. Maybe we can put a couple of pounds on you.”
The house was magnificent and sat on several acres overlooking the lake. There was a circular drive and Didier parked at the front door.
As he got out of the car he said, “Someone will put this away. Right now we’ve got to get you to bed. You must be exhausted.”
Inside the house was warmly lit and smelled faintly of the fireplace that was burning in the living room. The windows were two stories tall and overlooked Lake Geneva. Off to our right the lights of the city glittered.
A young man in a uniform came forward and took our coats and Didier said, “Will you be able to sleep Alex or would you like a drink?” Mei followed the young man up a staircase.
I said, “Will you have one with me?”
“Sure. Let’s sit by the fire. It would be a shame to waste it.”
He handed me a beer and we sat on a sofa facing the fireplace. I said, “I wish I could talk to Larry or my dads or the boys. The kids have gotta think that we abandoned them.”
He sipped his beer. “I was tempted to call Larry but then the more I thought about it the more I realized that if his calls were being watched it would just give the police an idea of where you might be. Larry’s an attorney; he’ll understand what’s happening. Anyway, your father knows what’s going on and I’m sure he’ll find a way to fill Larry in.”
“My dad knows where I am?”
Didier laughed. “Your dad knows everything!” He shook his head and grinned. “He is so like Gerhardt!”
When I finished my beer Didier took the glasses and set them on the bar and then took me upstairs and showed me my room. It overlooked the lake.
“I’m right next door, Alex, if you need anything.” He stopped at the door. “It’ll be okay, you’ll see.” I knew that it would be okay, or at least I was pretty sure. What I was thinking about now was how it felt when Larry kissed me and the reassuring feel of his cock pressed against me. I was also thinking how great Didier looked in jeans.
Except for a corona of light around the edges that wouldn’t be denied the tall windows of the bedroom were covered with heavy curtains that blocked out the morning sun. I rolled over on top of my morning hardon and humped it against the mattress. This is the point were usually Larry is climbing on me coaxing me to get laid and this morning I ached for that.
Finally, with a groan I rolled out of bed stumbling over to the window and pulling back on side of the curtain. The room was immediately flooded with the morning sun and I quickly jerked the curtain back in place while my eyes adjusted.
Against the wall was a huge freestanding wardrobe and I pulled the doors open. Inside on hangars were a suit that I recognized as coming from my tailor in England several pairs of slacks and a dozen shirts. I pulled open a drawer and a found a stack of underwear.
In the bathroom were all the toiletries that I normally use including a razor and a half an hour later I was clean, shaved and dressed in a light blue dress shirt and charcoal grey slacks. I let my nose lead me to food.
Didier has three kids. The youngest is Claire at six, the middle boy Philip is ten and Luc is the oldest at twelve. Luc has turned into a remarkable looking young guy. He’s inherited Didier’s movie star looks and added to them in a way that goes beyond handsome to almost being celestial. But while Luc has always seemed happy enough it’s like there’s something important that’s bothering him.
Luc stood up as I walked into the breakfast room and extended his hand to shake mine. Just before our hands met I’m pretty sure he was checking out my crotch and he seemed to be blushing slightly.
“Luc, how have you been? Where’s your brother?”
“Hello Mr. Krueger.” He made a face and rolled his eyes. “Philip had to do something with his friend.”
Then he said to Didier as he bent to kiss his father, “Father may I go look at the lake?”
Didier laughed and nodded. “Don’t fall in!”
When I sat down Didier sighed heavily and said, “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about Luc.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Problems?”
He said softly, “I think he may be gay.” Didier quickly held up both hands. “You know that I don’t care, Alex! I just want him to be happy but I had hoped that if he is gay that he’d tell me. But he’s just gone silent and he spends most of his time alone. I really do want to help. A boy should be able to talk to his father about anything.”
He added some coffee to his cup. “The one time that he’s been different was when I told him that I was coming here….to meet you.”
Didier nodded. “He asked me to bring him and I’ve been thinking about it ever since then. He knows you Alex and he’s met Larry, he knows that you’re gay. And he’s always asking me when I going to see you and if you’re coming to Europe. I was thinking that maybe he hoped to talk to you about it.”
“What makes you so sure that he’s gay?”
“Well, I’m not positive but, well, call it a father’s instinct.”
“I can’t very well ask him if he’s gay.”
“No, but my feeling is that he may bring it up.”
“If he does I’ll be happy to talk to him about it. Frankly, I agree with you that he should bring it up with you but I understand how that might be hard for him to do. If I get the chance I’ll encourage him to talk to you.”
He grinned. “I understand that it must be difficult for him. I know that I could never have talked to my father about something like that. He was an old fashioned European father, you didn’t speak unless you were spoken to. I don’t want things to be like that with Luc.”
Didier shrugged. “Well, all of that can wait.” He opened a briefcase that had been leaning against the table. “Alex, the world economy is in disarray. Hotels all over Europe are in trouble and we need to take advantage of that. That Swiss fellow we hired has already turned the hotels you already own to a small profit and now is the time to plan for the future.”
He handed me a list. “Ten hotels, the best possible locations and I can almost guarantee that at least five of them will be up for sale in the next year. Any of them would complement what you already own and we could put together a team of managers and the appropriate advertising that isn’t as easy with fewer locations.”
Ultimately I signed off on it because Didier is very good at what he does but my mind was filled with concern for how I was going to be able to prove that I didn’t commit murder, not how I was going to make more money.