Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language, violence, and mature content.
As they walked up the path, Winslow straightened his tie and admired the flowers along the walkway. Someone was taking tender care with the variety even if some of them were just husks at the moment. It wouldn’t be very long before the resident gardener could enjoy the signs of a new spring.
He crouched down to examine a small patch of weeds, pulling back the brush to see a defined footprint. The position of the print would have had someone leaning against the tree it fell beneath. Winslow flipped out his pocket knife to dig into the dirt. Within a few seconds of searching, the detective found a single aviator cuff link.
“Winslow, do you want me to knock on the door or are you going to do keep ‘digging’?”
He turned to see Norton standing by the front door, tapping his foot against the mat and flipping his notebook back and forth. Winslow brought himself up from his position in the flowerbeds and brushed the debris off the cuff link. He kept his head bent down but noticed the slight movement of the living room curtains.
“I think I found some solid evidence when I went through that dirt.” Winslow glanced to the moving curtain and continued, “Obviously someone was tip toeing through the tulips. And by the look of it, both members of the party were wearing cuff links.”
Before Norton had the chance to ring the bell, the door popped open to a young man in a flannel robe holding the collar shut with his hand. He stepped just far enough outside of the door for Winslow to guess the kid hadn’t been wearing much before. In a soft voice, the young man asked them, “Is there something I can help you gentlemen with or would you just prefer to lurk on my door step?”
Winslow moved in front of Norton, flipping out his badge while saying, “We’re looking for Lieutenant Commander Morton and I’m guessing you’re not him.” He pulled the Air Force cuff link out of his breast pocket and continued, “Unless the Lieutenant was in the garden with someone else but I don’t think most Air Force boys around here would be a Navy commander’s type.”
A glance to the side revealed Norton’s discomfort with Winslow being so casual but the young detective still stood strong. The young man tightened his robe against him once more and Winslow could see it slip around the bare shoulders. It was a few moments of awkward silence as the two detectives stared at the squirming soldier, and Winslow wasn’t sure which way it was going to go.
The soft voice spoke quickly as it said, “Well I guess I must thank you gentlemen for finding my missing cuff link.”
He opened the door further and then looked down while asking, “Is there anything I can get for you? Maybe iced tea?”
Norton was still awkwardly standing on the porch as Winslow forcibly drug him inside. The elder detective answered with a polite, “Iced tea would be absolutely lovely. And I’m sure my partner would agree.”
As the young man shuffled away in his house coat, the sides fell open and Winslow could see the clear outline of the man’s rear end. After the death of his partner in Germany, very near the end of the war, Winslow hadn’t sought out companionship. During his early army intelligence years, he had had enough risky sex with beautiful young men to compensate for nothing now. Back then, they had loved his muscles and his strength in every way.
Now Winslow didn’t even have the emotional strength to find the comfort that he so desperately needed.
Being left alone again while someone tinkered in a nearby kitchen was just a flashback to the days spent in Reggie’s apartment crying. The death of his partner had been near the end but still Winslow had to go back. He could have lived out the end of time lying in bed with Reggie and his partner, being held by his friends while he tried not to let the dark thoughts pull him into the abyss…
“I do hope you like sugar in your tea, detectives. As a Southern boy I couldn’t imagine having it any other way but certain kinds-”
Winslow interrupted him saying, “Sweet tea is just perfect.”
He took a sip and was thankful for conversation amid his dark thoughts.
“Now the matter we’re here about, Mister?”
“Lieutenant Isaac Browe. And as you rightly predicted,United States Air Force.”
Winslow glanced once to his right to see Norton ignoring his tea and awkwardly taking notes on the conversation.
“The matter we’re here about, Mr. Browe, concerns a murder that your roommate might have witnessed. Do you have any idea what time he got back last night?”
The airman looked once toward the back of the house and Winslow managing to hear a slight rustling. Browe seemed to be embarrassed that someone else had noticed the sound and the detective saw his eyes go to the floor once again.
“I...I’m not exactly sure what time James got back. I was uh a bit occupied at that moment, but I did hear his car leave this morning. And I know that he went to work.”
Norton sat up from his chair to join in the questioning. After taking a sip of tea he asked, “Did you not go to work today, Lieutenant?”
Browe was now casually reclining in his chair with his coat open.
“You might say I was feeling a bit under the weather from the festivities.”
Norton was evidently quicker on his feet than Winslow thought because the younger detective quickly continued his line of questioning.
“If you didn’t go to work, how do you know that Morton went to work?”
“Because anyone who knows Morton would know that he would never miss a day of work. And certainly not with the projects he’s working on currently.”
The comment was a clear slip in judgement as the airman inched toward the edge of his seat, once again clutching his robe to his chest as he said, “Now whatever you’re thinking about secret projects, you can keep on going. I don’t know much about his current project but I know he wouldn’t miss a single day of being on that submarine.”
Winslow started to feel it was best not to press the interview farther in the direction of national secrets, instead moving back to the topic of Morton’s whereabouts.
“Now Browe, since it is nearly 18:30, where would we find Morton?”
“He’s probably downtown at some of the clubs with our other roommate. They’re all around the Saenger but he likes the Cabaret best, at the moment.”
Norton was quick on the draw again to ask, “How many of you live here, Mr. Browe?”
Browe looked once more to the back room and answered, “Just four of us at the moment. During the war, there were a few more splitting up the rooms.”
From the back room there came a shout of, “Isaac, who is it?”
Browe started to move from his chair but Norton was soon standing with his hand on the airman’s shoulder. Winslow stood as well, taking his badge out of his pocket.
“I presume that is Mr. Browe’s other roommate. I think I’ll go and have a word.”
The detective shot a glance to Browe and then to Norton said, “Stay here with him.”
Winslow walked down the hallway, knowing he was going to go into some sort of embarrassing situation. As he opened the door, the same voice as before said, “Isaac, please just give it to me already. You’ve teased me long enough, ba-”
The man in the room, who was tied to the bed in neat knots, gave a sharp gasp upon realizing it was the detective at the door. Winslow walked further into the bedroom, noting the scene that Browe had set. Before he could began his questioning, the man in the bed asked, “Who the fuck are you?”
“Detective Smith. Mobile Police Department,” Winslow answered while flashing his badge. “And do I get the privilege of knowing who the fuck you are, buddy?”
From the looks of the man, he surely wanted to wriggle into another plane, but still managed to squeak out, “Captain Edgar Rency.”
“Well Mr. Rency, I’m here investigating the death of a pilot in Mobile who was an acquaintance of your roommate, Mr. Morton. Were you and Mr. Browe here all of yesterday and today?”
As Rency was squirming on the bed, Winslow moved in to notice that he was being stimulated in multiple areas. He was once again observing the set up when the door banged open once again with a nearly nude Browe and Norton in chase.
“I’m not sure what kind of right you think you have, Detective Smith, but-”
Norton now had his hands back on the man’s shoulders as Winslow moved about the room.
“I hate to be a bastard with people who have similar preferences to me, but what exactly do you think you can hold against me? Especially when I’m a police detective here to investigate a murder and I happen across something that some might call ritualistic torture.”
Browe shot a glare at Winslow while saying, “You know very well what we’re doing. And I’m sure you’ve done it yourself by the thirsty look in your eye.”
Winslow motioned to Norton and the younger detective let Browe loose. Browe ran to Rency’s bed side, quickly sitting on the edge and pulling his robe back to his chest.
“Well Norton, I think we should be letting these gentlemen get back to their business. If we have any more questions, I’m sure they won’t mind us dropping in.”
Winslow was surprised as Browe stood from the bedside and politely offered, “I’ll walk you out to the door.”
The hallway passed by quickly and the detectives soon collected their hats from the seats in the sitting room. Browe walked them to the door and as they stepped outside he asked, “You won’t put that in your report, will you, Detective Smith?”
“I’m not that much of a bastard, Mr. Browe. But i can’t have you giving out my secrets either. Do you understand?” Winslow asked as he kept his hat in his hand.
“I understand entirely, Detective. By the way, just out of curiosity, do you like being in control or being controlled?”
A funny look of confusion had already crossed Norton’s face and the awkwardness continued as Winslow answered, “Well you’re a submissive bitch if I ever saw one. You should be able to know a proper dominant when you see one.”
At this both Norton and Browe were noticeably blushing. The call for “Isaac” came from the back room again and the detectives let the pilot return to his private business.
As they walked back down the path, tipping their hats once more to Lieutenant Browe, Norton asked, “Winslow, I’m not trying to be a judgmental bastard but was that pilot flirting with both you and me? While he already had another fellow tied to a bed post in the other room?”
Winslow looked back on the house one and saw the pilot still standing in the door way with the house coat ever slipping from his hips.
“I haven’t been active in the game for awhile but yeah, I’d say he was looking over your measurements.” Winslow stopped Norton in the path, putting a hand on the young man’s shoulder while questioning, “Do you have a problem with that?”
The young detective lit a cigarette and offered one to Winslow, who surprisingly declined. Norton took a few puffs before he answered and said, “Actually I’ll take it as a valuable compliment to see that someone besides my wife has an interest in me.”
They walked back out to the street, slipping into the squad car and sat back in silence for a few moments. It wasn’t long before Winslow just had to ask, “Why are the effeminate, dolly ones always going after you?”
Norton looked back with confusion and asked, “They go after you too, Winslow. You’re usually just too busy being mopey to notice when I take you out to bars that aren’t filled with cops.”
Winslow sighed at his answer and was left to question in his head why those sorts of folks were attracted to Norton when Norton fell into that type himself. If only Norton wasn’t in a relationship, then Winslow would find a way to take the young man to bed and figure out just what was so alluring about him.
“I suppose you’re right about that - I haven’t been all together with it since I came back…”
The detective trailed off for a second before he continued, “So which bar would you like to try first?”
“I think we’ll go with the Cabaret since it is almost late enough for them to be starting a show.”
Nothing else was said as they tore out of the street and headed for downtown Pensacola.