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The Self Lover


John Dexter

(A pen name used by Neil Elliott Blum)

Second edition published by Johnson Management Press/2018

First edition published by Sundown Readers/Corinth Publications/1966

This classic 1966 pulp paperback has been digitized by the author’s family. No edits have been made to the original 1966 text.

Copyright 1966 Neil Elliott Blum/All Rights Reserved

All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law.

Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.

All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is strictly coincidental.

Cover photo by Ben Rosett/Spirit Vision Studios

Notes in the 1966 edition:


Kenneth Walker and Peter Fletcher, in their study, Sex and Society, state: “The development of sexuality in both sexes follows a well-defined course dictated by the impulse to convert ill-defined hunger into love by the discovery of the appropriate environmental counterpart. This search begins in the self with the self as object, and the phase is marked by narcissistic reveries. When these fail to bring satisfaction the field is widened so as to include within it the opposite sex. Although sexual potency may by now have reached its peak, it is still prohibited from finding its consummation in a love relationship. Efforts have therefore to be made to discharge emotional tension into other activities. Sooner or later, however, they are likely to fail, and then the search is renewed until a ‘proper object of desire’ is found in a person. If the ‘I’ eventually succeeds in meeting its ‘thou’ hunger is at last transmuted into love.” Drake Thorsen had just such a neurotic problem…and his teaching career took several strange turns as a result…

Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

About the Author

Chapter One/Rough Cut by Kendall Morgan

Chapter One/5 Easy Chocolate Pieces by Danielle Summers


Drake stepped out of the shower and reached for a towel. He was a tall young man, with a glossy mop of wavey red hair that was never quite in place. As he toweled, he watched himself in the mirror. He had the long legs, lean, structured hips of those gods represented in statues of ancient Greece. Again, like a creature of some half-forgotten mythology, those long, muscled thighs met a washboard, muscled stomach that seem to exist without any possibility of expansion or decay into fatty tissue. His father had looked almost just like that into his fiftieth year. They came from lean, hardy stock that had so many centuries ago braved the North Sea and the wildly tossing Atlantic in order to settle on what was then the barren reaches of un-historic Iceland. Their Viking ships plying up those forbidden beaches, scaring the birds into flight over the guardian cliffs, Drake Thorsen’s ancestors had made the first approach to the New World with their untimely landing on the surging shore of that northern ice-locked land of fjords and monstrous icecaps.

Today the scion of that fated first party of exploration stood in a hotel room and toweled the glistening beads of water from his fine, thin-skinned body. It was a fitting scene of handsomeness in a Norseman’s setting. From the flat, muscled, stomach grew a rib cage of good size that expanded into a broad, lithely-muscled chest containing two pinpoint but wide coral jewels. Then came the shoulders.

Wide they were, with just the right amount of tight tendons that flexed like cords of rope as his sturdy arms moved. And those arms…extending from his body like laws of nature unto themselves, they were strong and lined with blue veins that told anyone who saw them that these were well-exercised limbs, arms extending into elongated, strong fingers that could have belonged to a piano player, or an Olympic athlete.

The head was something else again. Drake Thorsen’s face was less a face than a dynamic force held in check only by its own muscles. The square, even features could have meant anything to anyone, were attractive even to people who had very specialized tastes. The broad, flaring wings of his aquiline, right-triangle Greek nose—slightly broken from his Big Ten football years—the wide, innocent blue eyes with their long lashes under thick but wellspaced dark orange eyebrows, the sturdy rugged jaw, the pouting lips with the lower one just a shade too full and moist and dark, and stretched over all of this the very thin, clear and unblemished creamy complexion of the true Nordic—all of this told clearly to anyone with the eyes to see it, that this was an unusual young man, of unusual temperament, a boy capable of both great strength and great tenderness at the same time.

Drake considered his body with the puzzlement of a doctor confronted by a case whose diagnosis he was not quite sure of. That women had gone wild over that body, those exquisitely molded calves, thighs, arms, chest, and thorax, pouting mouth, sensual eyes, fascinating hair, was unquestionable. That he felt, as only the young and naturally passionate can feel it, unfulfilled…was equally as unquestionable.

He had known a number of girls, ever since his twelfth year when a young aunt had lured him into a barn in Minnesota with the promise of something more mysterious than a good-night kiss. There had been girls in high school, because not only had he achieved his full height very early, but he had also been a four-letter athlete, accomplished in track, football, baseball, and ice hockey. Other sports: skiing, basketball, swimming, gymnastics, boxing, diving, came as easily to him as breathing came to most boys. And so he had been sought after. Girls had thrown themselves at him, worshiped him, but despite a faint, nagging, imponderable yearning for something, he had been surprised at his own indifference to them. Struggle as he might, in the back seats of cars on lonely dirt roads, on couches with parents out for the evening, in the occasional bed, whenever he came away from some quivering, satisfied little girl, it was with a vague feeling of dissatisfaction...of being cheated of something promised, of something that might-have-been. He was never quite sure of what it was he was missing, only that he knew it should exist.

Eventually he gave up hoping and watching for it. Only its nagging persistence, a desire, a need for something unrequited, bothered him in fitful sleep. Eventually he began to wonder what was wrong with himself, why he didn’t indulge or enjoy the locker- room jokes of his buddies, why he couldn’t appreciate the filth that spewed itself from their gaping mouths whenever they spoke about women.

And, in a sense, women did seem dirty to him. Once undressed, they all looked alike. Their empty, blank, unlined bodies, too soft and similar to be interesting, their unkempt hair and bland, empty faces with wet, disarrayed mouths and bleary eyes that gazed up at him like cow’s eyes in adoration. It was all a bore. He felt shortchanged.

College girls were another story, but somewhat more of the same. Being taken out of Minneapolis by Northwestern University on a football scholarship, he handily acclimated himself to the rough-and- tumble of Big Ten football and began working toward his letter in track with an eye on Olympic trials, and the girls came around again. They beleagured him, invited him to parties, took him into darkened lounges in their sororities late at night, fell in love with him and swore to love forever, wept over him, but although the girls were bustier at this stage, that was all the difference he could see in them from his past experiences. It was just more of the same.

Finally athletics began to pall, too. His mind was yearning, questing, seeking new horizons, growing indefinably. He was fascinated by ancient Greek history, when the lives of men had seemed to be so dynamic, and he began to acquire an interest in the Greek theatre. Until one evening a girl he knew suggested that he ought to try out for a role in Euripedes if he was so interested. He won a lead handily, and soon afterward began performing in other university productions. By the end of his second year in college he had held leads in a dozen plays, minor roles in another dozen, and had switched his major from Business Administration to Speech and Drama.

And today, as he toweled himself so luxuriously, and watched himself so covertly in the full length hotel mirror, he felt as if he had reached another indefinable turning point in his road toward fruition. For today he was beginning his new role as an instructor in Drama, Public Speaking, and Television at the Elaine Smythe Finishing School and Career College for young ladies.


the ad had read, and later on: “The Elaine Smythe Finishing School and Career College is now expanding. Teachers are needed in all fields. Only those with the highest references need reply to—” And then there had been several names to choose from. He chose to contact Martin Kieth, who was head of the finishing school.

Drake looked back at his rumpled bed as he finished toweling. The clipped advertisement still lay on an end table. He went over to it and pushed it into a wastebasket, then he returned to the mirror.

For some reason he had never quite understood, he liked to watch himself dress, and had often wondered if most men felt this way about it. Sinuously he put on his black ribbed hose, then his shorts, slipped into the trousers of his blue flannel suit, then absent-mindedly slipped his lean, muscular arms through a tight-fitting T-shirt.

He broke out a fresh white shirt, selected a blue- green paisley tie and attached it. Then he inserted sapphire links into the cuffs, and finally put his arms through his suit coat. Black belt suited the suit, and he selected one. Passing a comb several times through his glowing orange hair, he studied his face. It needed a little something more. Ah, he knew what it was.

He picked up his after-shave talc and rubbed some on. Then he poured a few drops of leatherstocking cologne onto his fingers and applied it. He was ready to start his day.

The Elaine Smythe finishing school was on the sixth floor of the Randolph-Dearborn Building, the career college section was situated largely on the fifth. Leaving the elevator at six, he strode down the long corridor toward the huge, glistening glass doors that were the entrance to the school.

“Good morning,” he said amiably to the young receptionist, palming his hair with one hand, “would you tell Mr. Kieth that Drake Thorsen is here?”

The girl smiled and studied him knowingly. For some reason her look made him feel unaccountably awkward. He looked around at the little tables of the waiting room, upon which sat a variety of brochures dealing with the school. He had been up here twice before. Once, when he had had his first interview with Martin Kieth; the second time when he had spoken to the manager of the Voice and Drama Department, Mr. Popwell.

Martin Kieth was a strangely handsome man in his late forties. Strangely handsome, Drake thought, because of the whitened hair that was full, thick and wavey, the starkly masculine face that brooded under it, the height and leanness of Martin Kieth, the deep, brooding eyes in that rugged, lined face. Strange for some reason that Drake was unable to grasp now.

He would have gone right back to Mr. Kieth’s office if he had remembered where to find it; but for now the school seemed such a labyrinth of corridors that he wouldn’t have known where to begin. For that matter, he couldn’t even remember if Kieth had an office. Somehow he seemed to recall that they had met in the waiting room and then sought out an empty classroom for their discussion. Kieth had asked him about his university career, but for some reason had not seemed very interested. More to the point, his eyes had seemed to probe Drake with an unusual interest. Kieth’s hard jaw had been set, his strong hands had been on the table across which they faced one another, his firm, thin lips had asked a few questions but had not seemed genuinely concerned with Drake’s answers. His dark eyes had appeared to be studying something more than just what Drake’s replies were, but Drake was unable to pinpoint just what it was Kieth had been so intent upon analyzing.

Drake had watched those hands of the older man. They were strong, veined with blue, with small dark hairs on the backs of them. Kieth was the epitome in good grooming as far as his wearing apparel was concerned, but for some reason Drake had felt as if the man were slightly out of place in a suit; that he should have been wearing blue jeans and working on an oil derrick; or wearing a bathing suit to show off what Drake could imagine was a very sturdy, masculine physique.

Why am I thinking of that? he asked himself now as he looked down and thumbed through the promotional brochures that sat on the table in front of him. I may as well read one of these, he said to himself.

He picked up one of the pamphlets and began to thumb through it. It explained in elaborate detail just how many assets there were to an education at Elaine Smythe’s, There were more “opportunities” open to a girl who had had finishing training, or training in one of the career areas—airline, fashion modeling, executive secretarial. The world was an open door to the Elaine Smythe graduate, ready to be pushed open at just the flick of a diploma. It all sounded very lovely.

He looked up. Mr. Kieth was nowhere in sight. The receptionist was looking at him with a peculiar glint in her hazel eyes. He had seen a part of that look often enough in the eyes of other women. There was a trace of desire in it, and something else more ephemeral, groping. Perhaps there seemed to be a sort of question in her approving glance, but he wasn’t quite sure what the question involved. It didn’t seem to be a question of proposition, of what they might be able to do together, but more of an asking after what sort of a man he was altogether ...

He was well able to meet her careful appraisal with one of his own. She was wearing a brown suit that ballooned outward at the chest. Her dark hair was tied in a George Washington pony tail, and her lips were the reddest, moistest red he had ever seen. The rest of her face escaped him; the lips were her outstanding feature. They belonged to a red maw that he was well familiar with from the countless times he had tasted ones similar. At this point he couldn’t have cared less, he was so excited about beginning his first real job, but he filed her away in his memory- bank for future study at that time—and he knew it would come—when he would again feel an aching yearning, a need for surcease from the fierce, vague desires that plagued him daily. That women had proved inadequate for him in the past meant nothing; they were, after all, the only choice he had that he knew of for performing whatever vague function he so desperately craved from time to time.

“You may see Mr. Kieth now,” said the girl, her eyes brightening as a buzzer flashed out of a row of them on her desk.

He nodded and stood up. Around the reception room there were a variety of pictures representing what he supposed to be glamorous models, airline stewardesses, business girls, etc. There was also probably a picture of Elaine Smythe, but he would have been at a loss to pick out which one it was. There were also couches around the walls of the waiting room, which opened out onto two corridors containing offices and classrooms. Going to the right, the girl told him, “No, it’s that other way.”

He nodded and, feeling awkward under her glance, veered toward the corridor on the left.

The office swept past his hurried gait. They were essentially little cubicles, tastefully decorated, with portraits on the walls, clippings from magazines like Vogue, Glamour, Seventeen, and Ingenue. The carpeting was a thick lavender pile, and the cleverly elegant little desks all bore a small vase of fresh flowers next to their dainty pink telephones. The place fairly oozed glamour and exotica, sophistication in terms of feminine standards. A faint essence of something pervaded the atmosphere.

Martin Kieth stood at the end of the corridor, with his hand outstretched.

“Hello, Mr. Thorsen. So good to see you.”

Once again Drake’s hand found itself belonging to this tall, desperately masculine man, fitted itself intricately but neatly into the strong, lined mechanism that was the hand and grip of Martin Kieth. “Hello, Mr. Kieth.”

“Won’t you come this way?”

Drake followed him back to his office, the office he hadn’t yet seen. It was a spare, man’s type of office, with books and files arranged neatly and with maximum efficiency. Later on he would remember how Kieth had looked across this desk at him, the effortless movements of this older, but agile man as he gestured, communicated in a setting of immaculate Brooks Brothers dress, the small diamonds in his tasteful cuff links reflecting light from the flourescent tubes above, the ruffled white-on-white shirt looking as if it belonged more to a tuxedo than a business suit, the scent of Kieth’s after-shave weaving a silent spell about Drake’s head.

Kieth pulled some papers out of his desk. “First of all I’d like you to fill out these W-2 forms, and then we’ll show you around.” He smiled amiably across the polished surface of the desk as he passed the forms forward. “I suppose you’re anxious to get started.”

“Yes, sir, I am,” Drake replied sincerely.

Kieth smiled again. “You needn’t call me ‘sir’ when we’re alone together, Drake, that’s a bit too formal. ‘Mr. Kieth’ will do nicely, or even Martin, if you prefer.”

“All right, sir... I mean, Mr. Kieth.”

Kieth looked away and pursed his fingertips together. “We have to retain a certain formality in front of the students, for professional reasons, but we’re a close family here.”

“All right —Martin.”

Kieth grinned. “That’s better. But I’ve just been advising you. You can do as you like, of course.”

Once again Drake found himself feeling strange in front of those dark, confident gray eyes, the glistening waves of white-gray hair that grew over a strong, masculine face. Now he saw that Martin Kieth’s lips were not near as thin as he had thought before. Actually the man had a rather full, pouting lower lip that he seemed to moisten as he spoke.

He said, “I’d like you to sit in on some classes today after you’ve been shown around. You’ll meet the other instructors, of course, and you’ll be given curriculum guides. The training period is supposed to be one month, but ordinarily you’ll start teaching before that. I’ve already explained the hours to you. Meetings are at 11:45 Monday morning and 8:45 Saturday morning. After you leave here —”

“May I come in?” It was Mr. Popwell, bleary- eyed and with his nose a bit pink as if from too much alcohol. He came in and walked over to Drake, extending his hand. “Well, hello, son. Glad you could make it.”

Drake couldn’t see Kieth’s face as he turned away to face Popwell, but he had the feeling that the director of the finishing school was looking away from the two of them.

“Good morning, Mr. Popwell,” he answered, taking the older man’s hand firmly. “I’m happy to be here.”

“And we’re happy to have you,” Popwell echoed, looking now in the direction of Martin Kieth. “You want me to take this young buster around now, Martin?” Popwell asked amiably.

Kieth looked up. For some reason his eyes had turned sullen. Drake had the uncanny feeling that something was up between these two, that Kieth had actually resented being interrupted by Drake’s departmental manager.

But Kieth said only, “Do that, George. Just show him around. He hasn’t seen the fifth floor. And you can introduce him to the counselors and instructors as you go by them.”

“Righto, I certainly will,” Popwell said, leaning a bit. “I’ll take him downstairs right now.”

Kieth looked up from his files at the two of them. His face was a mask, but Drake could detect something that he almost didn’t want to know about lurking behind it.

He stood up and pressed out his hand toward Martin Kieth once more. “Thank you, Mr. Kieth. I’ll have these forms filled out later, then.”

Kieth took his hand and looked deep into his eyes. The touch of that rough flesh seemed to galvanize something inside of Drake. Something caught in his throat, and a sort of warmth invaded his stomach.

But Martin Kieth only nodded slowly and bade them farewell.

Drake did not look back.


After Drake Thorsen left, Martin Kieth took out Drake’s file and studied it. It contained ample letters of reference, transcripts, a fascinating application for employment. From Drake’s athletic record, Kieth could not repress a sharp shudder of quivering expectation. He had seen the boy close up, the finely veined hands beneath the thin Scandinavian skin that made his cheeks so rosy, the lips so full and hungry. He could imagine what those long, muscular legs of Drake’s might look like, the thicket of unmanageable orange hair, the fascinating treasure trove of his excited loins… the muscles, the broad chest with its two coral love-dots, the open mouth and darting tongue, the hair on his beautiful head and the glistening hairs of the boy’s delicious young body… the tight buttocks… the little kiss-dimple of his navel, the beautiful blue eyes with their long lashes that could caress his…

He could not repress his excitement as a fierce desire drew him into a fantasy concerning Drake Thorsen. The boy looked so virginal, so guileless—no doubt he had never been with a man before. I’ll be the first, Martin told himself with a knowledgeable certainty. I’ll love his eyes, and his legs, and his teeth, and his beautiful warm, hard belly, and his white neck and hot mouth until he begs me not to stop.

Great lord, he thought with a sigh, I’ve fallen in love. And I never thought it could happen.

He looked out the window and contemplated what sort of joy this love could bring him. And after a while he felt himself consumed by a fierce need that drove him into a panic. Standing up slowly, he walked with measured steps to his private lavatory…


Mr. Popwell showed Drake around the fifth floor and introduced him to whomever crossed his path. At one point they passed the office of Elaine Smythe.

She was sitting at her desk in full regalia, looking very businesslike in a pink suit, her red hair piled up high on top of her head, which was correspondingly attached precariously to a very slender white neck. Elaine Smythe was a woman in her fifties, and she looked it. All the cosmeticians in the world couldn’t have erased the crow’s feet at the corners of her eyes and mouth.

“Well, Mr. Popwell,” she said immediately, “do come in!”

“Hello, Miss Smythe. This is our newest addition to the teaching staff, young Drake Thorsen.”

“Pleased to meet you, Miss Smythe,” Drake said awkwardly.

She viewed him with cool appraisal. “Not at all, my dear. Welcome to the staff. I know you’ll like it here. Everyone lasts for years and years!” As she stood, Drake was able to judge more fully just how time had taken its toll. Beneath her pink suit, it was apparent that Elaine Smythe’s immense breasts sagged almost to her navel. He could imagine her with her clothes off, but he didn’t want to. He knew there would be rolls of fat and atrophied muscle in all of the most offensive of places, where women who fail to stay exercised are most affected.

“I’m sure I will, Miss Smythe. Thank you very much.”

As they left her office, Popwell could not repress a grin. “Wily old duck,” he told Drake.

“Nice-looking woman for her age,” Drake offered.

“Horse feathers,” Popwell returned, taking long strides. They passed through classrooms and past a number of girls who were just arriving for the day’s classes. In fact, the place seemed to be filling up with them. They were hanging up coats and drinking coffee, and gossiping—in whispered tones when they saw himself and Popwell coming—and smoking, and laughing out loud. They were lovely girls, too. Drake couldn’t remember when he had seen so much attractive femininity crowded into such a small space.

Popwell showed him the typing classrooms, the fifth floor salon-auditorium, and several other rooms and offices, introducing him to several instructors as they went. Finally they were ready to return upstairs.

Popwell said as they waited for the elevator, “Miss Smythe thought you’re kind of cute, I could ten.”

Drake winced. “She did?”

“Yeah, but you don’t have to worry about her.”

They entered the elevator as Drake pondered this last remark. There were a few other people aboard, also, so he couldn’t question it until they exited.

“What did you mean...?” he began.

Popwell said abruptly, “She’s married to Martin Kieth, you might know…”

Drake felt a pang of despair and disappointment so sharp he could taste it—and it amazed him. Why should he care who Martin Kieth was married to? Or if he was married? “He is? I mean, she is?”

“Yeah, but that don’t mean nothing.” Popwell staggered as if suddenly short of breath.

Drake took him by the arm. “Aren’t you feeling well, Mr. Popwell?”

“Sure, sure. I’m okay.” Beads of perspiration broke out on the old man’s forehead. “I’m fine. I just want to warn you about Martin Kieth. Stay away from him…he’s…he’s a little strange…” “Strange? In what way, sir?”

“Never mind. Just remember what I told you.” They both looked up to see someone approaching them from the direction of the finishing school. Drake took Popwell’s arm and steadied him. The older man said, “I’ve got to learn to stay off the juice, boy. That stuff’ll kill ya.” With Drake helping him, the two of them walked toward the big glass doors.


It was an exciting day. Popwell introduced him to other instructors and showed him the finishing school classrooms and counselors’ quarters that he had already glanced at several times. “Counselors” was a euphemism for sales personnel. These people were in charge of getting the girls who came to see the school to sign up for courses, the contracts cm which could range anywhere from $400 to $2,500. Elaine Smythe had taken m two and one-half million dollars last year, he was tokl.

Once the girls began having classes, they were summoned with regularity to their “advisors,” who were also sales personnel in disguise. The advisors sought to sign the girls up for more courses. Since most of the students were not always very bright, they were intimidated until they signed up for things and put their families head over heels in debt to Elaine Smythe.

As it was largely a sales organization, Drake discovered that the instructors were low on the organizational totem pole. On top were the executives who managed the sales personnel and accounting-collection departments, after that came the sales people, then the instructors, and finally the administrative clerks, and almost out of sight—the telephone solicitors who badgered their lists night and day.

The sales force had attractive offices, beautifully appointed; the instructors had a “staff lounge” that was vastly inferior to the student lounge. In all, the school hung in a delicate balance of rivalries between all of the factions.

Most of this would not become too clear to him until much later, but for now he was enjoying meeting new people, watching the girls, and sitting in on classes.

The average age range was seventeen to twenty- two, but the girls could range all the way down to ten and all the way up to fifty. Despite the publicity that Elaine Smythe accepted “only the very best qualified,” there were a number of retarded children also in the school, sent there by parents looking for a magic formula that would require no work on anybody’s part but the magnificent staff of Elaine Smythe’s.

He sat in on classes in Voice, Drama, Little Theatre, Television Acting, and Public Speaking, all of which overlapped in many areas. It was all very interesting, but he could not repress an eagerness to begin his own teaching.

Occasionally he was on his own without either Mr. Popwell or Martin Kieth guiding him, and he was able to get to know a few of the other instructors better.

About two-thirds of them were women, largely in areas such as Styling, Visual Poise, Make-up, Hair Care, Photo Modeling, and others that dealt largely with the girls’ physical aspects. There were a handful of men teaching in these areas, but not many. Otoe such was Barton Michael.

Michael was a tall man of about thirty-two with jet-black hair and a movie star’s looks. Drake didn’t see how the girls in his classes could help but fall in love with him. He dressed casually, as if he knew that his natural, God-given looks made all extra effort in dress as extraneous and unnecessary. He was a good man to talk to, for his voice was quiet and sincere. Drake found himself relaxing with a companionable spirit for the first time that day. Martin Kieth was exciting, Popwell was a drunk, but Barton Michael was just soft-spoken and easy-going.

Drake found out that Michael had been on the staff for a number of years after giving up an earlier attempt to open a beautician’s school. He taught largely in Wardrobe and Styling, but also occasionally pinch-hit in Personality and Social Graces.

It was a relief also to find someone like himself who was young and who had a background and understanding of athletics. Michael had competed in the javelin throw in the 1956 Olympics, and had been a gymnast star at the University of Chicago. But for some reason, despite his good looks (or perhaps because of them, came the unbidden thought), there seemed to be something just a trifle sad and tragic about Michael. Drake wondered what it was that made him sense this.

Drake couldn’t help but notice the glossy black hair, the elongated facial features with a long, deep jaw, ripe lips in a cupid’s bow, the broad flaring nostrils that gave away Barton Michael’s passionate temperament from beneath that easy-goingness. And those sensual black eyes under long, black lashes, the complexion smooth as a baby’s. Drake wondered offhand what Michael would look like undressed.

But he didn’t have much time to conjure up any pictures on that subject. After a few moments the last bell rang and his first day at Elaine Smythe’s Finishing School and Career College was over.


Drake had moved into Chicago in a hurry when he was hired by Martin Kieth. Up until then, while he had been looking for a job, he had stayed at his fraternity house on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. He had gone back to Minneapolis for a few weeks after graduation to visit with his parents, but almost immediately had returned to Chicago. His father had tried to talk him into going into the wholesale food and grain business with him, but somehow Drake had felt the inexorable pull to return to the big city.

His mother had been sad, of course. They had always been very close. And she had missed her baby during the four years he was away at the University, with only time for an occasional trip home. During the summers he had worked as a stevedore on a cargo loading dock, throwing freight with the best of them. And at Christmas time he had occasionally gone to Florida.

He felt that his opportunities for enrichment and growth were better in a city the size of Chicago, where he already knew a great many people yet had barely tapped the surface of possibilities available in a town so vast. Job opportunities were greater, too, and it was a city that he could already find his way around with very little trouble.

Too, he felt a kind of deep, hidden yearning to make some unknown discoveries about himself, discoveries of secrets that he knew existed, however murky their depths. He wasn’t quite sure what it was he was seeking to learn, all he knew was that it existed to be learned. He had to know just what sort of person he was, what he was lacking and what he had an abundance of. In short, he was seeking, like so many other men-in-the-dark before him, an understanding of his own identity, whatever it might be. He felt, for some unknown reason, that he could find this out better in a city the size of Chicago than in one such as Minneapolis.

He had left the fraternity to move into the Maryland Hotel on Chicago’s near north side, which was only fifteen minutes from downtown. He didn’t want to go apartment hunting right away and tire himself out before starting his new job. Rather, he preferred to move right into a hotel and then take an apartment at his leisure.

Now, as he stepped out of the hotel for that evening, he was studying the classified pages of the Chicago Tribune and slowly eliminating apartments with a red pencil.

For one thing, he wanted something furnished. Nothing extravagant, but he had no wish to go out purchasing furniture at this stage of his life. That would have to wait until later. And the apartment would have to be small enough so that he wouldn’t feel lost in it—something about 1)4 or two rooms, with as much supplied by the landlord as possible.

And it would have to be conveniently located, so that he could get downtown in a hurry when necessary, and have maximum time for his spare-time pursuits, whatever they became.

Methodically he began crossing out ads, then thought better of it and just circled the ones that appeared at this point to have the ingredients he required.

A couple of them were fleabags, and he made a note to upgrade what he was willing to pay. With this he moved upward into yet another category.

By the end of the evening he had finally narrowed his list down to a place on North Astor Street that looked pretty good. It was a quiet street, and the building was a five-story walk-up.

The building itself had an immaculate red-brick front, with a white, columned portico in front. The garden on both sides, surrounded by bushes, had every appearance of being well cared-for, even to the extent of containing a few roses. When he reached out to touch one of them, he pricked his finger on a thorn.

“Come on in, honey,” came a be-sotted voice from somewhere, “and don’t go botherin’ th’ poor helpless flowers!”

He looked up to see a fat, bloated old hag in the window of the first floor apartment. “Pardon me,” he told her hastily, feeling acutely guilty.

“That’s okay, honey, you just come on in.” She beckoned with her finger, and not knowing just what to do, Drake took her advice.

The front door buzzer was quickly clicked, and he entered on a red-pile carpet and looked around. From up a few small stairs and around a corner to the right, came the alcoholic voice again: “Come on in, honey. It’s right up here.”

The manager’s office was not a good advertisement for the building. Her apartment seemed to be slightly askew, with old newspapers flung about, bottles of beer here and there, a parakeet squawking slightly inside of the door, an angora cat curled up menacingly on top of a lace doily which in turn rested on the back of a sofa.

“Come in, kid. Don’t be bashful,” she told him, approaching him from the kitchen. She was a woman of about forty, but looked older, with baggy jowls and eyes, old robe cast slovenly about her squalid body, ill-concealing the heavy breasts as they sagged. She wore little puffy slippers with furry white bonbons on them, and even her feet had crow’s feet. When she spoke, Drake had to blink away the alcohol vapors.

He held up his newspaper as if to ward off an evil spirit. “You have a small apartment for rent here?”

“Right. I do baby. A couple of ‘em. Wait a minute while I get the keys.” She pushed aside some strands of white hair that kept falling in her face, and disappeared into the kitchen.

A dope addict, Drake thought. She must be a dope addict.

But if Mrs. Groat was not a very appetizing person, the apartments she showed him were quite the opposite.

There were three of them, all very tastefully decorated. One on the top flow, which Drake decided was too high up for convenience, one on the second floor that he decided was too small and viewless, and another on the second floor that seemed as if it were made for him. It overlooked the alley, but in this block the alley was quite quaint and picturesque. It was cobbled and neatly fenced, and the backyards below were all arranged in good taste. On one backstairs there was a red broom that sat underneath a night light, giving a sort of atmosphere. And in the background were the towers of Chicago on the west, rising into the starry night.

On one side of the apartment it was separated from other apartments by an elevator shaft that was used only for transporting supplies up and down, which meant soundproofing from that end. On another side of the apartment was a corridor, and the other two sides were walls of the building, as it was a corner apartment.

“How much are you asking for it?” he asked guardedly.

“Oh—” She mentioned a figure.

“Well, that’s too much for me,” he said, and he started to walk out.

She grabbed his arm. “Wait a minute. This is a nice place, and we like to rent to nice people. You look like a decent sort For you I’m ready to make a special price.”

“What is it?”

She quoted a figure.

“All right, I’ll take it.”

If it was one thing his mother had taught him about the business world, it was never to take the first price offered. Few years she had managed the family business using just those sort of tactics.

Mrs. Groat smiled and took him downstairs to take his money and make out a receipt. As they passed the first floor landing, he almost collided with a very young boy in tight sky-blue jeans who had the most striking appearance he had ever seem The boy had very white hair that looked almost as if it had been bleached, and a strikingly clear-skinned face that Drake could almost suppose had been powdered or made-up, it was so white. The boy gave him a glance, mumbled a polite “Excuse me,’ and passed on. When Drake looked back up at him, he found that the bluest eyes he had ever seen were in turn looking down at him. The boy turned and hurried on upstairs.


Paying his rent and taking the receipt, key, and Mrs. Groat’s good wishes, Drake returned to his new room. It was just a 1-1/2, with a small stove, sink, and some utensils. There was a bureau, and a large table for working at, and a couch that opened up into a full-length double bed. He felt quite at home, since he had never lived in very large places anyway since leaving home. Back at the fraternity he had shared a study room with another young man and slept in a drafty upstairs dormitory with several dozen others. This little apartment seemed marvelous for its privacy and feeling of seclusion away from everything else.

Without realizing it, he found himself drifting to the couch and just sort of lying there, the back of his hand propped up on his forehead, his eyes gazing off into the deep blueness of empty space and the starry night. Fantasies began to weave themselves here. It had been an interesting, exciting, invigorating day. He thought of Martin Kieth and Barton Michael, and of the boy he had passed on the stairs. For some reason these were the images that had stayed in his mind. Slowly he dozed as he thought of these uniquely interesting people. Strange thoughts began to pervade his dozing. Slowly he moved his right hand downward. A slight prickling sensation had come to him from the vicinity of his legs, then a sweet, sort of cloying ecstasy seemed to be struggling for ascendency and release over his spirit...

Slowly, so slowly that he could not have known when it had begun, he began to tremble...a tingling wave of sensation bubbled along his thighs, while on his chest he became aware of a prickling irritation which increased with his every erratic breath, seeming to lodge in his hardened nipples .. . just as, below, another wave crept guilefully upward to his inner thighs to fortify itself at last at the very core of his being. Unconsciously, his strong hand moved slowly toward that secret, sturdy oasis of pure pleasure and desire…and his other hand slowly began unbuttoning his shirt so that at last he could put a hand under his T-shirt and caress the hard muscles of his firm chest and washboard stomach...

He was so tired, yet his body felt singularly languid and warm and receptive in a way that he had never experienced before. He closed his eyes as if to banish the imagery of a scene whose every detail seemed to be depicted with a mercilessly real portraiture upon the fresh canvas of his impressionable, dreaming young mind. But that did not help at all…

Love was ethereal and pure and surmounted the baseness of the body. Love was emotion and poetry and truth and beauty and —

He groaned and drew one knee up in the air, opening his trousers in a feverish haste, grasping so tenderly, so lovingly. A trembling awareness seemed to hold him in thrall. He was keyed up as never before. His senses were immeasurably sharpened as if they had been deliberately whetted, but by what, he had no idea.

His chest ached, his palm could feel it throb. He forced his trousers down and finally his shorts became soft manacles around his slender ankles. Again his trembling fingers brushed his tender, prickling flesh.

Drake’s head fell back, rolling to one side, eyes deliberately sealed tight as if to shut out his own wild imagination, he surrendered himself to the tempestuous, new, unbearably bittersweet demands of his aroused senses. Presently there arose a faint, sobbing gasp and cry, and a sweet paean of rapture made Drake Thorsen shudder as if he had been gripped by a wonderful, supernatural force.


When he awoke it was a strange feeling of completeness, of good will and well-being, yet at the same time he failed to accurately recall just what it was that had given him this sensation.

When the tiny knock came at the door, he rose up startled.

“Who is it?” he asked in a hushed voice.

“Hello,” came a delicate voice, “it’s the boy from across the hall.”

Drake opened the door to find before him the most accurately beautiful young man he had ever seen. The boy was not tall, and only came to about Drake’s shoulders, but he had a face as radiantly lovely as any girl’s could ever hope to be—perhaps more so because it was set off by a very slender, tightly drawn male’s body, with slender neck containing one pulsing blue vein that seemed to Drake as if it should have belonged to a swan, it was so white, clear, and strong.

The total picture was of a boy still in his teens, but with an intensely sensual look in his clear blue eyes that gave away an ardent nature and experience beyond his meager years. It was the same boy Drake had passed on the stairs. He had changed to a pair of peach-colored jeans that fitted so snugly Drake couldn’t imagine how the youth had gotten into them, slippers, and a loosely belted lavender silk robe that he had thrown about his shoulders. Behind the robe peeked the whitest, most creamy-smooth and hairless chest Drake had ever seen. This was a strikingly exotic and beautiful creature that anyone, man or woman, would have had to appreciate, Drake thought, with long features, high forehead, anglingly highset cheekbones like those of a panther, almond-shaped liquid blue eyes under long, girlish lashes, a straight Grecian nose with broadly flaring wings, and a ripe wide mouth that Drake supposed many young girls had wanted to kiss. His platinum hair looked natural, like that of a Finn’s, in this corridor light, and the boy’s flesh, where it wasn’t immaculately pure white, had that creamy tint with tiny rosy flecks that belong only to the naturally golden-haired.

There was a scent of something that rose from the open robe as the boy spoke; probably bath salts, Drake imagined. “I’m David Tracy,” the young man said shyly, putting out his delicate hand.

Drake took it in his. To his astonishment, he found its touch exciting in some way that he could not name. He held it for a long time, looking down into those clear blue eyes. “We have the same initials,” he answered at last, feeling the youth’s hand tremble in his grip. He smiled, “That’s a coincidence, isn’t it? I’m Drake Thorsen.”

He found that he didn’t want to let go of David’s hand. There seemed to be an electric bond of friendship flowing between them, but he was at a loss to understand how such a sensation could have materialized so quickly and effortlessly.

When he finally released the boy’s hand he thought he detected a sharp intake of breath in David’s immaculate chest.

“I wanted to introduce myself and invite you over to my place. We’re having a spot of tea over there, and I have a few friends over. If you’d like to meet them—well, that is, this is a very ‘close’ building, and we all like to be friendly. It’s just a small party ...” David lowered his eyes demurely.

Drake grinned at such apparent sweetness in a boy. “Why’ sure, I’d love to come over. Wait for me a minute, will you?”

Since he was only wearing shorts and a T-shirt, Drake returned to the couch to pick up his trousers and shirt. He slid his legs into the trouser legs and glanced back at David and caught the boy looking at him intently. Quickly then, he looked away.

Drake didn’t mind being admired, since he had always been proud of the Grecian athletic, muscular quality of his smooth, well-flexed body. Yet, as he considered it, it seemed to him that David’s look had contained something that transcended a mere admiring interest of the sort that he expected from other men. He couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was exactly, though.

Slipping his feet into his brown loafers, he put his shirt on and buttoned up. Now he was ready.

He approached David then. The creamy-skinned youth had his mouth slightly agape, and his eyes were burning with an intentness that Drake couldn’t quite place.

It must be hero-worship, then. It wasn’t the first time that Drake had been its object. In an effort to make the boy relax, he placed an arm about David’s shoulder. Instinctively a shudder rose up from the boy’s slender body and Drake was afraid he might collapse.

“What’s wrong, David? Aren’t you feeling well?”

David leaned against him, his beautiful blond head resting against Drake’s chest. “No—” he gasped, “I—1’ll be all right. Don’t worry. I just feel a little dizzy sometimes, that’s all...” And then he turned his blushing face away.

Drake let him go. “I hope I didn’t do anything to offend you. You looked so nervous I just thought you needed some steadying.”

“I’ll be all right,” David’s voice came out soft as a whisper.

“Fine,” Drake said, careful not to touch him again. “Then let’s go over to the party. I’ll be very happy to meet your friends.”

“I hope so,” David murmured.

Across the hall David pushed open the door to his apartment. It was considerably larger than Drake’s, with a shower stall, a much wider living room and kitchen alcove. There was even a small bedroom. Several people sat around on cushions, and a strange essence seemed to emanate from the coziness of the scene. The atmosphere was kind of languid and mysterious, with little metal figurines tinkling in the air, pots of incense glowing, and the darkness shrouding everything in shadows that were relieved only by the quiet effect of a pink and maroon light that illuminated almost nothing. The total effect was one of ethereal decoration, a kind of peaceful secrecy that could allow any forbidden liberty within these guarded walls.

David made the introductions. “This is Bryan, William, Angelo, Tab, and Mr. and Mrs. Winslow.”

Drake nodded to all of them and accepted their friendly greetings. For some reason he was surprised to find a married couple in the room.

“What’s your pleasure,” David called as he went back to the alcove.

“I’ll take a highball, if it’s all right,” Drake said, following the boy with his eyes. David’s hips seemed to have an unusual little sway when he walked.

David giggled from the sink, “Oh, dear me, a highball is easy to make.” The perfect picture of domesticity, Drake thought as he watched David fix his drink.

“There you are,” David said at least, returning.

Taking the highball, Drake squatted down on a green cushion next to Mr. and Mrs. Winslow. “Are you two living in this building, too?” he asked politely.

“Yeah,” Mr. Winslow told him forcefully, reaching for his wife. The faint odor of whiskey stung Drake’s nostrils. He sipped at his drink and peered into the twilight of the room. Music flooded the room with a three-dimensional magic, music of impressionable, haunting beauty. He recognized the selection: de Falla’s “Nights in the Garden of Spain” The conversation in the room furnished a hushed murmuring background to the evocative and romantic phrases shared by piano and orchestra.

He noticed suddenly that Mr. Winslow had his hand inside his wife’s low-cut blouse and was fondling one huge, pendant-like breast that hove into view almost to the nipple, so that Drake could make out its wide coral aureoles very plainly. For some reason he couldn’t arouse any interest over such a display. Winslow was a surly-looking man with slicked down hair and a huge, bushy mustache that must have been left over from the Gay Nineties. His features were gross, he was unshaven and unkempt. His wife was not singularly more appealing. She lad dark, straggly hair and heavy lips that breathed hard as her husband touched her.

Drake looked around at the other boys. No one seemed to be noticing the Winslows at aft.

“Every party has to have one straight couple,” Angelo said absently. Bryan giggled to his defense.

Drake was puzzled. Very little talking was going on. The boys were smoking from tiny, thin little cigarettes in a funny way, with their lips pursed together, holding tightly as if they had never smoked before, or as if they were husbanding their drags with special care. They weren’t noticing their (kinks very much except for an occasional delicate sip.

He looked over at David who smiled shyly at him, a cowlick of white hair resting lightly on his flat, smooth forehead, Ins slender legs doubled up under him in Indian fashion. Drake felt a compelling impulse to go over and put his arm around the boy, he looked so delicate and out-of-place.

Instead he simply smiled. He didn’t want to upset David the way he had when he had put his arm around him before. A boy that sensitive probably shied away from overt friendliness.

David returned his smile with one of his own, adding: “You may sit by me, if you like.” And he made room few Drake on a cushion next to himself.

Drake went over and sat down next to him. He looked deep into David’s eyes, which seemed to have a sort of limpid quality. Instinctively and without knowing precisely why he was doing it, he reached out to take possession of one of the boy’s hands. It was a sweet, clear-skinned little hand, smooth as alabaster. It seemed to tremble in his clasp, and he thought he detected a sigh from David’s lips.

I must be imagining things, Drake told himself.

“Have you lived here long?” he asked David at last

David looked down at his drink. “Oh, just about six months. I’m from Colorado. I’ve only been in Chicago for about nine months.”

“You seem rather young to be living alone.”

One of the other boys giggled; Drake wasn’t sure who it might have been, William, perhaps. He looked around slightly annoyed.

David shrugged and looked unhappy. “Oh, I do all right. I had a bit of trouble at home. My folks send me money.”

Drake was astounded. What sort of “trouble” could this beautiful young boy have had to warrant traveling all the way across the country, leaving his parents at such a tender age? A boy with looks like these should have had all doors open to him. It made him feel all the more protective as he studied David’s full, pouting lips.

“Well,” Drake said, “and what about school? In this state you have to attend school until you’re sixteen. How old are you, anyway?”

David blushed under his scrutiny. “Well, the authorities here have no way of checking on me. They don’t know I exist. And the Coloradp people can’t locate me because I get all my mail through a box number at the post office downtown. The Federal government won’t give you away unless you’re wanted for a crime or something, I think.” He grinned. “After all, I’m not an escaped convict or anything like that, you know.”

Drake could not believe the fierce attraction that he felt between himself and this boy. It was unnatural. From the smooth, creamy skin beneath David’s robe came an odor so pure, so sweet and clean that it made Drake dizzy.

He looked down at the youth’s legs. They were rolled underneath him now, but Drake could detect the slender beauty that they would exemplify should they be uncovered. He saw them as slim, smooth and hairless except for a few lines of white. Hie muscles would be tight on his slim legs, and the ankles and feet would be delicate like priceless China jade.

Eyes sweeping back upward, Drake found himself taking in David’s full thighs, which hugged tightly against the peach jeans. He knew that they would be firm and smooth also, but thick enough to be encompassed by his two hands.

And at the vortex of those thighs was a ballooning strong against the constricting jeans ...

“I make a living,” David was saying, interrupting his reverie.

Drake winced as he came out of it. “How?” he asked, more in reflex than curiosity.

David was evasive. “Oh, there are ways and there are ways. I do odd jobs for people.” He looked down at his delicate little hands.

Drake had no chance to conjecture further over that. For just then Angelo broke from his conversation with Bryan and William and danced into the middle of the room.

“Well, everybody,” he called, clapping his hands, “it’s time for my little dance!”

Bryan, William and Tab applauded joyously with grins and remarks of approval. Mr. Winslow grinned and waved an arm in salute. Mrs. Winslow laughed uproariously, one huge hanging breast having come out of her dress now under Mr. Winslow’s fondling fingers, its nipple extended like a little soldier, very long and large. Drake looked away in disgust, his eyes turning on David.

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