In February of 2001 the quartet that I sang with had won the right to perform in a competition with four other quartets from our region. There were a total of six regions in the country that competed and they’d send their five best to another level of competition. The best quartet from each of the six regions faced off, or competed against each other for the grand prize, which is a gold medal. Sounds dopey but barber shoppers are really quite an organized group.
In May our quartet came in first place for our region. We were ecstatic! It takes a lot of hard work and we were on our way to the final competition which was to be held in the fall. It was doubly awesome because it was to be held in New York City. I hadn’t been there since I was four and I wanted to take Scott to all of the sites: Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, World Trade Center, Radio City, Central Park.
We were going to make a vacation out of it, and I booked our tickets. September 7th through September 14th. The competition was only for two days and we’d have the rest of the week to go sight-seeing.
It promised to be an awesome trip.
It turned into a nightmare.
* * * * * * * * * *
Can anyone in their right minds please tell me why, whenever you purchase plane tickets, you have to stay over a weekend in order to get a cheaper fare? Why on earth do airlines give a damn? Not that it really matters to me now, but I’ve always found that curious. And why can’t the ticket be transferable? As long as the person using the ticket has proper identification, who gives a shit. Oh, well. Thank God for First Class. These were the silly and mundane things that I pondered as we boarded our Delta flight for New York. I brought my cd player with me and a couple of cd’s for the relatively short flight.
“What cd’s do you have,” Scott asked as we taxied down the runway.
“Ella singing Gershwin—“
“Surprise,” he smiled. Perfect teeth. Dammit! I was still attracted to his smile after all these years. And his pecs. And his legs. And his ass… “What else?”
I held up a disk without a label. He smiled again really big. “You still have that?” referring to the cd that he’d made for me when we taped The Reunion Show.
“You dope, of course! I take it out and listen to it every now and then.”
“Huh. I didn’t know that you still had that. What’s on now?”
I started singing a bit of Level 42. “That there is something about you….baby…so riiiiiiight.”
He laughed. “Logan, you’re such a nut.”
“Did you say ‘chin nuts?’” I asked, looking down at his crotch. He just laughed at my endless flirting
The flight was uneventful and we actually landed at Kennedy on time. It was early afternoon and I didn’t have to be at our quartet’s practice until 6:00 that evening. For years I had wanted to have a hot dog from a street vendor in the city. Scott used to laugh at that when I’d tell him. I also wanted to go to a deli and have a pastrami on rye. Don’t ask me why; it’s just something that I associated with the Big Apple. We found the shuttle to our hotel, the Tribeca Grand, and the driver helped us load up the van.
I had glimpsed the skyline from the plane and couldn’t wait to get into the city. When I was four we had taken a train ride to visit family out in St. Louis and on the way back we had a layover in the city. Mom and Dad took me to the Statue of Liberty and to some other places. They said that we went to the Empire State Building but I don’t remember it. I only remember the Statue. Driving through the streets of lower Manhattan I was amazed at the sheer size of the skyscrapers. When the city planners in 1811 laid out the streets in the grid pattern I can only imagine what they originally had in mind. Nothing like you see today. The city was so busy with so many people walking all over the damn place. So many cars and taxis. I knew I could never live here but I could easily understand how eight million people could. Atlanta’s only one-fourth the size of New York City but it still felt much more spread out and laid back.
The Tribeca Grand is on the Avenue of the Americas and White Street. We had arranged for the rooftop suite which had it’s own private terrace overlooking the southern end of the island. The hotel itself is really sleek and the suite was designed in warm, contemporary lines. Sounds like a contradiction but the furniture was not fussy at all and the colors were more warm than cool.
Once we were alone in our room we checked out the terrace. “God, what a view!” Scott said.
“I was talking about your ass.”
I laughed at him. “Scott, you are so damn crazy.”
“Crazy about you,” he said, nuzzling up to my neck.
“Yeah? After all these years?” He didn’t say anything, just turned me around to face the railing and wrapped his arms around me. He started feeling on my chest and down to my cock, which was started to get heavier. “Dude. We really need to go inside for this. And what’s your deal with balconies!” He laughed out loud and took my hand, leading me back into the suite.
When we got to the bed I held his face in my hands and started kissing him. Our tongues slipped in and out of each others’ mouths, mashing and sliding against each other. The whole time he was rubbing up and down my body. I could feel the muscles in his arms and in his chest as he pulled me to him. His dick was making a really awkward bulge in his jeans. “I can’t take you to the Village like this,” I said, squeezing his package. He chuckled at that. I turned him and pushed him back onto the bed. Slowly he laid back, all the while our mouths crushed in a kiss.
With tongues thrashing I held onto his hands and raised them above his head. “I’m so glad you’re mine,” I whispered, sucking on his neck. A low growl was his only response. Slowly I traced my fingertips over his forearms and then his biceps. My mouth was back on his as I ground my bent and hard cock against his full crotch. Fuckin’ jeans. Not a lot of room for expansion. Taking my mouth off of his I lifted his shirt out of his pants and he helped me pull it over his head. I took my shirt off too and started kissing him again. I loved the feel of our naked chests pressing against each other. I ran my fingers through his hair as I pulled his face to mine. I couldn’t get enough of him. Our pecs and nipples were sliding against each other. I loved the feel of his chest hair. God how I loved him.
Slowly I licked and kissed my way down to his right nipple. This always drove him nuts. I took it in my mouth and chewed on it with my lips. Whenever I used my mouth anywhere on Scott I was like a whore. You might laugh but I really was. I’d twist my head and face back and forth, licking and nibbling, all the while running my hands up and down the other side of his chest and up his arms. Then I switched sides, using a free hand to play with the nipple that I’d just finished sucking on, and taking the other one into my mouth. “God, I love you,” I moaned into his chest.
I could feel his dick pushing into my stomach and reached down to do my nail-scratch thing through his jeans. “Awww. Fuckkk,” is all he said. I unbuttoned his jeans while I was still latched onto his chest. Then I slipped my hand into his pants and felt his amazing cock. I looked up suddenly.
“You went commando?” He just looked down at me and smiled, nodding. “Awww, shit!” and I practically wrenched the zipper down. Had to be careful, though. Precious cargo inside. With his jeans framing his hard cock and balls, they looked massive. I must’ve been leaking like a running faucet myself as I looked at his body. I was totally lusting after this guy. My man Scott.
I leaned down and took off his shoes and socks, then started tugging at his jeans. He helped by lifting his ass and I was able to slide them off of his body. “Scoot back onto the bed,” I told him. He did and I kneeled on the floor between his feet. Taking one foot in his hand I proceeded to give him a foot massage. “Oh man…” he moaned, his hands still resting on top of his head. After a few minutes I switched to the other foot and he just sighed. His cock was just laying there, hard as granite, on top of his lower belly. It pulsed with his heart beat and I just wanted to jump on it.
But I didn’t. Instead I parted his legs a bit and leaned in to start kissing his calves. Back and forth I oscillated. When my mouth was on one calf I’d rub the other with one free hand. Then I’d rub up to his balls and gently pull them down and roll them in my hand. I made my way up to his thigh, still kissing and licking. Still rubbing his balls and shaft. From this point of view it looked really huge.
I slipped his muscular legs over my shoulders and pushed them up into the air. The I dove into his quivering ass with my tongue. No foreplay there. “Fuck!” he said as I slid my tongue right into his hot hole. With my lips I massaged his ass ring. A fuckin’ stick of dynamite couldn’t have separated me from him at that point. With one hand I reached around his left leg and started jacking his dick. As I mashed my mouth against his hole his heavy ball sack rolled and lolled across my nose. “Oh Mike,” he whispered, moaning. I quickened the pace of my tongue in his ass and started jacking him even faster. “GOD you’re fuckin’ KILliN’….” I smiled to myself, knowing that I was making him feel this good.
Releasing his dick I pushed his legs even higher into the air and started eating him out with a mad fervor. I used my lips to chew on his hole and pull at it. The I’d swoop my tongue around the entire swollen gash. Looking at him like this I had to have him. Right there, right then. I let his legs down and reached into our bathroom bag for some lube. He looked at me with lustful eyes. I got back between his legs and he pulled them up for me. I lubed up two fingers and sunk them in all the way to my hand.
“Ummmmph,” he sighed. I ignored his cock completely and it was dripping quite a bit of pre-cum. I finger fucked his ass with two fingers for a bit when he said, “Enough. Just give it to me.”
“Oh baby,” I groaned back to him. Then I spread lube on my red hot, rock hard dick, and placing the head right at his hole, I sunk right into him. He tilted his head back.
“Oh….Christ!” he hissed. I just smiled as I started slamming my dick home. Over and over I banged my engorged cock into his hungry hole. I didn’t take my time. Sometimes you wanna make love; sometimes you just wanna fuck. I wanted to fuck. I kept long dicking him at lightning pace then I felt that great feeling behind my thighs.
“Here I come, baby,” I growled at him as I ground my dick into his hungry hole. “FUCK!!!!” I hollered. “Unh!…Unh!….Mmmmph!” Goddamn! I shot so hard it felt like I lost my balls. I knew he was close himself so I popped out of him, crawled over his waist and grabbed the lube. I slopped it onto his cock and then deep-seated his big thick shaft right up my ass.
“Awww man…” I moaned. You’d figure I’d get used to this feeling but I didn’t. Immediately I started grinding my ass on his swollen shaft as Scott reached up and grabbed at my pecs. My dick was banging against his belly when he grabbed hold of my thighs and started just banging the fuck out of me. With one final thrust I felt his already meaty dick expand a bit in my ass as his cock coated my insides. I kept grinding on his rod until his cum-hollering stopped, then I collapsed onto his chest. We were both out of breath. He wrapped his arms around my back and started kneading my ass.
“I am so fuckin’ crazy about you,” he gasped out.
Laying my head on his chest I could feel his chest hair on my cheek. “And you always fuck the shit out of me.”
Scott let out an exhausted laugh at that. We kissed some more and then got up to take a shower. I got dressed to go to practice and he put on some jogging shorts and a tank top.
I looked over my eye candy. “God, how I love your body,” I told him.
“Great. He wants me for my bod. I feel so used.” I had to laugh at that.
“Well, I can’t have sex with your brain!”
He mulled this over. “There’s always nasal sex.”
“Oh shit!” I laughed. “I think I’ll pass on that. I’ll see ya later hoss,” and I gave him a kiss goodbye.
The Civic Center wasn’t that far away and I walked over to meet the other guys. Our practice went well. We spent about forty-five minutes warming up our voices and practicing our craft. By “craft” I’m not meaning some ethereal bullshit like acting. Curiously when a person is singing, the tones that they hear in their head is actually not what someone listening to them is hearing. The reason for this is because the sound is bouncing around in your skull and the resonance makes it sound higher in pitch to yourself than it actually is. So as a singer, unless you’re blessed with perfect pitch, you have to train yourself to hit just above (or an onionskin) above the note that you want to sing so that a person listening to you hears that note accurately. In layman’s terms if I want to sing a B, in order for it to be heard as a B, I actually need to hit somewhere just above a B.
Now try to get four people to do that at once, all singing different notes. All four guys have to be right on target on every single note. Oh, and let’s not forget expression. You really want to have your face express whatever the emotion of the song is. All four have to sing the song with the exact same interpretation. Not an easy thing to do, but when it’s done correctly it sounds great. You may prefer hearing howler monkeys over barber shop singing, but good singing is still good singing.
All competing quartets sing a ballad and an “up-tune.” For our ballad we were singing “When You Wish Upon A Star.” Our up-tune was “Wedding Bells Are Breaking Up That Old Gang Of Mine.” After about an hour or so of practice the four of us headed back to our hotels.
When I got up to the suite I found Scott sitting on the terrace with a drink. “What’cha got there, hoss?”
“Ummm. Want another one?”
“Please,” he smiled back at me.
“You know Scott, you have an abso-fucking-lutely perfect smile.” I winked at him and he smiled broadly again. “Just thought you should know that.” I playfully smacked him on the head and fixed us our drinks.
I sat down next to him and we looked at the nighttime skyline. What an incredible city. I reached across and held his hand. We sat in silence and looked at all of the skyscrapers. They all looked like dwarfs compared to the Twin Towers.
I chuckled a bit. “Do you remember when they remade King Kong?”
“Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange.”
“Okay. When was that?”
“What made you think of that?”
“The twin towers,” I said nodding in their direction. “There was a scene when Kong climbed up them because they reminded him of his jungle home.”
“Those are some tall-ass buildings,” Scott said. I nodded. “Can you imagine what it’d be like to work there?”
Scott started twirling the ring on my finger. He pulled my hand up and kissed the ring. “Of all the things you’ve ever given me, Mike, this ring…well, I can’t put into words.”
I smiled. “I love you, Scott.”
“God, I love you too, Mike.” He usually called me “Logan” so hearing my first name was sort of special. God, what a sap I am! Yeesh!
* * * *
I’d like to say that my quartet won the competition, but we didn’t. We didn’t even place, dammit. Our quartet came in fourth place, which I know isn’t bad but I wanted to go home with a medal, dag nabbit! Oh well, such is life. That night, which was Saturday, Scott and I got loaded along with the rest of the guys in the quartet. We found a bar that had pool tables and shot pool for a couple of hours. Nightlife in Manhattan is indescribable. Scott and I headed back to our hotel around one in the morning.
Sunday morning we got up late and then started checking out the sights. The main thing I wanted to see was the Statue of Liberty. The breeze on the ferry made the air a little cool and we stood shoulder to shoulder looking at the approaching monument.
“Worthless trivia time,” I said. Scott rolled his eyes. “The same guy who designed Biltmore in North Carolina designed the pedestal of the statue.”
“Dude,” he chuckled, “where do you get this shit?”
I smiled. “I’m a learned man.”
He put an arm around my shoulders. “That you are, my friend.”
“You know we gotta check out Ellis Island.” I had probably mentioned it a thousand times since we’d landed.
“Really! I had no idea you wanted to go there.”
I looked at him and backhanded his chest. I leaned onto the railing and breathed in the sea air.
“You look so damned content,” Scott said softly.
“I’m with you, Scotty boy,” I smiled. He gave me a little half smile and turned back to the statue.
“So whose name do you want to see again?”
“My great-grandfather’s. He came over from Italy in the early nineteen hundreds. From Naples, I think.”
“Well, it was actually Marroni, but at that time the Italians were so discriminated against by the Irish that many had to change their names to less-Italian sounding ones. So he changed the ‘i’ to ‘e’ and it became Marrone.”
“But your grandfather was Irish, right?” he asked.
“Yeah. His parents were from Ireland but he was born in Liverpool. He married my grandmother, who was a Marrone.”
“Damn, no wonder you have such a temper. You’re Italian and Irish!” He laughed as I hit him again.
The statue was incredible and the view from the crown was awesome. Scott had never been to New York at all, state or city, and he really enjoyed all of the touristy places. I got my hot dog that afternoon and was happier than a hog in slop. He just kept laughing at me because I walked around with a smile on my face half the time. It was really great being there with him.
Monday we went and saw the Rockettes. Hey, I might be gay, but that’s a lot of hot piece of ass on top of all of those legs. We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and strolled on the Promenade. I loved those brownstones. I always thought it’d be cool to have one, but I don’t think I could ever leave Atlanta.
Monday night we had dinner in our room and sat out on the terrace again.
“I’m glad that y’all had to come up here to sing,” he said.
“Me too. I’m glad you came up here with me.”
“Wouldn’t have it any other way.”
I have no idea how long we sat there looking at the city. I just remember Scott nudging me and we headed in to go to bed. It had been a long weekend and I was really zonked. I slept like a baby….
Until I heard my phone ring. Not the hotel phone, but my cell. I opened my eyes and looked at the clock. 8:40. Oye. I stretched and yawned and reached for the phone but it stopped ringing. A minute later it started ringing again. Caller I.D., it was Scott.
I smiled into the phone. “Where are you, you dope?”
“I’m on the…top of the world lookin’…down on creation…” he responded, singing the song by the Carpenters. I got out of bed and headed out onto the terrace.
“You goof. Seriously, where are you?” I asked.
“Num-nuts, I just told you. Well, not quite. Do you want to have breakfast this morning?”
“Well, yeah,” I said. “Where?”
“Windows On The World. It’s in the twin towers.”
“Hey, cool! Which one,” I started to ask him but was suddenly drowned out by the sound of a jet. I remember thinking, ‘Shit, they’re flying low today.’ I looked up and saw the first plane as it careened over the city. “Goddamn!” I hollered.
“OH MY GOD MIKE!!!!!” I heard him screaming into the phone.
I watched it and looking back it seemed to be flying in slow motion. To my horror it was heading towards the towers. “Oh my God!” I gasped. An instant later it crashed into the building. “NOOOOO! SCOTTTT!!!!” I screamed as the fireball blew out of the hole that the plane had made. “NOOOOO!!!!” I screamed again. I stood there in stunned horror as the smoke started billowing out of the building. My legs became jelly and I sank down to my knees.
I must have stared for what seemed like an eternity. I was too shocked to even cry. God, please don’t let that be the tower he was in, I thought. Horrified, I stood up and ran to the room to get dressed. On the way in I tripped over a chair and dropped my cell phone. It clattered across the terrace. I picked it up. Luckily it was still receiving a signal. Thank God. I ran in to get dressed. The Trade Center was only about ten blocks away and I knew I could get there quickly.
The elevator seemed to take eons getting up to the top floor. When the doors finally opened I jumped in and smashed all of the buttons. They closed and I felt the cab gliding downwards. Once it got to the lobby I ran through it and out the main doors. I thought I heard someone say ‘Mr. Logan,’ but I ignored it and stumbled down the stairs, falling onto one knee. Fuck! I picked myself up and flung myself forward and into the street. My knee was killing me as I ran as quick as I could to West Broadway.
Please don’t let him be in that tower, I prayed.
I was about four blocks away and all you could hear was sirens. Police sirens. Firetrucks. Ambulance sirens. All around people were either running away or to the Center. A lot of people were standing there shocked. My fucking knee! I ignored the pain as much as I could but it slowed me down a little bit. You could see the flames over eight hundred feet up. The sight was horribly awesome and I slowed down a bit.
I heard my phone ringing. Looked down. “Scott!!!” I answered. But there was no reply. Fuck! I gripped the phone with both hands and shook it. Hard. “God dammit, God dammit!!!” In my panic it finally dawned on me to call him back. I dialed but it went straight to voice mail. Okay, stop Logan. Calm down. He’s probably calling you and you’re blocking his call by trying to call him.
I breathed deep for a second or two. Dialed him again. Voice mail. Fucking voice mail. I took off south again. As I was running towards the Center traffic at this point was not even moving. Too many people stopped in the streets watching. You could see the firemen from this distance running into the building. I neared the plaza, still looking up, and stopped dead in my tracks. In the distance you could see a dot getting closer that was quickly taking the shape of an airplane. It was heading in fast and people in the streets and looking out of windows nearby began hollering.
My phone rang again. “SCOTT!” I heard clicking and static as the plane got closer and closer.
“Mike! Mike! I’m—“ BLAMM!!!! The airplane flew right into the other tower near a corner of the building, and the blast carried through the other face of the structure. I stood there with my mouth wide open, phone next to my ear. People around me were screaming and backing away from some of the debris that had been blown away from the building.
There was no sound on the phone. “Scott?” I said, my voice wavering. “Scott, are you there!” I started sniffing uncontrollably as the tears flowed. “SCOTT!! SCOTT ANSWER ME!!!” A few people watched me as I stood there screaming into the phone, looking up at the twin towers, crying almost hysterically.
I dropped to my knees and sat on my heels with my face in my hands. A stranger slowly walked up to me and put her arm around my shoulder. She was crying too. I sobbed and shook like a baby in her arms. As I did my phone slipped from my hands and hit the ground. She picked it up and handed it back to me. I looked at it—it was blank. I tried turning it on. Nothing. In a rage I screamed out and threw it against the building next to me, shattering it.
I kept on crying, keening actually. My insides hurt. I couldn’t breathe. I felt like the bottom had dropped out in my life. I didn’t want my life anymore.
I knew Scott wasn’t going to be calling me.