Hidden Treasure

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May, 1979, Key West, Florida

I stopped at the fireplace and stared into it briefly. This is where he burned them, thinking he’d wiped that part of his life out, not knowing that I had copies. I set the duffel bag down and sank into the sofa facing the fireplace. We had fucked on this sofa countless times, but the only time I had seen a fire going in the fireplace was the night, twelve years ago, when Riel thought he’d burned his pornographic writings. Had he known when he burned that wealth of writing that three days later he’d be dead?

So many memories; some good, some bad; many secret; more than a few sordid events even by today’s standards—seen as even more sordid back then. I wondered if this museum would be opening to mark the Cuban-American novelist, Riel de Fuentes’s, sixtieth birth anniversary if some of his better writings were known to the public. Not even his death, back there, behind the house, on the pool terrace, from a knife wielded by a street hustler he’d picked up on Duval Street while I was off being fucked by Phil Costas, was honestly given. In the record books he’d been done in by a burglar. I guess the hustler qualified, because he walked away with the money Riel had in his wallet—not much, not nearly enough from a man who would be nominated for both a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Literature the following year. Perhaps the worst memory is that Riel had died before the novel was published that lifted him to the literary stratosphere.

It wasn’t for the works I had here in this duffel bag that Riel was held in international esteem, even though this was some of his best, most passionate writing. And I should know, as I had been his editor at Doubleday since 1955, not to mention his lover—well, one of them. But one of only a few closely held lovers because he had not wanted to be outed.

I stood and walked around the house, ensuring that everything was just as it had been the day he died. We had closed up the house then. I’d moved to the guest house at the back of the lot to wrap up the proofs of the novel that was to make his name. And I’d come here periodically ever since to work on material related to Riel’s writing life and to worry my memories. And, I admit, I came here periodically for the hedonist lifestyle. I came to fuck and be fucked in a never-ending orgy as long as I was here. Key West was one of the magnate locations for men seeking that sort of attention. I had studiously preserved the house as it was that day and it had paid off. The house was now to be opened as a museum, in another month, one to compliment that of Ernest Hemingway, a few short blocks away, on Whitehead Street.

It had taken time to get the museum set up, and it had only taken off as an idea the previous year when the house next door burned down and we were able to acquire that lot to provide parking for the museum. Riel had acquired this property early on, in 1953, the year after Fulgencio Battista had returned to power in Cuba in a dictatorship supported by the United States to maintain Cuba as a gambling playground for rich Americans. The Fuentes had been in opposition to Battista, so Riel, then thirty-three, had to leave. He only went as far as Key West after a brief, but momentous stop in Miami. His family was wealthy, and he had no problem acquiring this house on Von Phister Street and the house behind it, on Flagler, and combine them into one property. Each included a two-bedroom bungalow, although the Von Phister house was the larger of the two. He had a brick terrace, with a small swimming pool laid between the two houses and used the Von Phister building as his house and the Flagler Avenue one as a guest house and pool house.

And here he wrote his novels. He’d had the best schooling in the States—his mother was an American—and lived a life of leisure in Cuba before escaping from there, almost in the dark of night with no notice, leaving all that was materially Cuba behind. He had escaped with his memories of Cuba and its lifestyle intact, though.

He’d written four published literary novels in Spanish during his twenties in Cuba and had established a reputation in Latin America. He wrote ten more after coming to the States in the fifteen years he lived in Key West. Those novels were in English and captured life in Miami and Key West for Cuban-Americans. They were cult novels in that community until his death. It was the posthumous novel that brought him to the attention of the world at large. Within five years of his death—at least partially through my efforts at Doubleday—his earlier Spanish-language novels had been translated into English and he was being lionized.

He’d been in good company among National Book Award finalists for 1968, although he hadn’t won. Thornton Wilder had won for The Eighth Day. Other finalists, though, had been Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, Chaim Potok, and William Styron. Heady company for a displaced Cuban-American writing niche novels for his own community. William Styron had won the Pulitzer Prize for bahis firmaları The Confessions of Nat Turner that year. But Riel de Fuentes’s name had been in the mix for that to the end.

There were hints, but no more, of homosexual proclivities in his mainstream novels. What only a few of us knew was that he had been even more prolific in writing homosexual pornographic works that had never gone to publishers. I knew about them, of course. I was his editor in everything, working directly with him here in Key West once Doubleday, in New York, had assigned me to work with him. That was fine with Riel. We’d already met a few times in New York. We had already fucked. He was a submissive bottom; I was versatile. Together we were a passionate fit, although I had to look elsewhere to have a man’s cock inside me.

I not only edited his pornographic works as well as his mainstream novels—I also was a character in many of them, as was he. Many of the short story manuscripts, in particular, that were in the duffel bag by the fireplace now, were a fictionalized version of our life together. Much of it was written to celebrate and enhance our sex life at the time, which it surely did. It also was some of the man’s best writing. His prose in these was blazing hot. It wasn’t erotica; it was literary pornography. Everything was described in melting detail and there were no barriers to what his characters would do to obtain sexual release. I hadn’t been as able to give it up as he was when he burned his copies. I kept mine.

I had come down to Key West at the request of the museum board not only to check everything out but also to give a private tour before the opening to Riel’s son, who would be arriving by air two days hence. Riel had met an artist, Catherine Prentice, in Miami when he had gone there first upon leaving Cuba and before settling here in Key West. It had been a confusing and challenging time for him in which his whole world had been turned upside down. He had tried in the upheaval in his life to follow a different path than he’d been on in Cuba, which meant he’d turned from his basic, secret nature to try the heterosexual lifestyle.

He and Catherine Prentice had had a torrid affair, lasting merely weeks, when Riel was endeavoring to go mainstream in his new country and persona. It hadn’t worked. Riel was a man’s man, and a submissive one. Catherine was bi, but she was aggressive and was attracted to Riel by his manly looks and his writing, which was in the vein of Hemingway. It didn’t take her long to catch on to the true Riel, however. The affair had lasted only long enough for her to be impregnated.

She decamped for Oak Park, Illinois, where she could worship at the feet of the Frank Lloyd Wright art style. The affair had been in 1952. Her son, who she named Neo, was born in 1953. Catherine and Riel had never married, but it was in the best interest of both to let their liaison be known in public—exhibiting that they both were normal, ergo straight—and the illegitimate Neo Prentice was raised as the acknowledged son of the novelist, Riel de Fuentes.

I had been sent to Key West in 1954, after Fuentes had moved there and two years after Catherine had left him and he hadn’t fully accepted that it was men, not women, he wanted. I had been in the Navy and nineteen when and where I was initiated into fucking and being fucking by men. I’d gone straight from the Korean War to Colombia University, studying to be a book editor. Riel de Fuentes had been my first editorial and long-term sexual affair hookup.

The son, who had never been to Key West, had requested to visit here. He was twenty-six years old, a handsome, dusky Cuban-heritage minor-productions actor in Hollywood and a male commercial model in San Francisco. He was not-so-openly gay, which I knew because I had met him twice at programs celebrating the novels of his father and had fucked him both times. I couldn’t help myself; he was the spitting image of his father. What I didn’t think he knew was that his father had been gay too. I certainly didn’t tell him. We hadn’t discussed it. Neo had been an easy lay. He wanted it. He had also wanted to know more about his father. I’d told him what I thought he would want to know. I left with the feeling that he was exchanging sex for information on a father he’d never been close to and was obsessing about that. I thought that was sad—and a bit pathetic. But he was a good lay.

I picked up the duffel bag and went through the main house one more time, turning off the lights. I exited onto the terrace and sat on a pool bed, putting the duffel down beside me. I had no idea why I was carrying it around or what I planned to do with its contents. I’d had the vague notion of trying to track down Phil Costas, who was a printer and who had printed up some of the pornographic material before Riel died and we’d distributed here locally under the pen name of Bill Morrison. Maybe, I thought, Phil was still here and still in business and more of the material could be printed the same way, with kaçak iddaa profits going into the museum endowment. The board didn’t have to know how the money had been raised. And if Phil was still here and still could get it up, maybe we could go a couple of more rounds. He would be in his early fifties now—we hadn’t kept in touch—and he had possibly the biggest cock I’d ever had inside me.

That isn’t the first thing I wanted to do upon my return to Key West. Finding Phil was an iffy proposition. He probably no longer was here. He may no longer be alive even. What I wanted first thing upon coming back to Key West was to fuck someone and be fucked in return.

It occurred to me that here, where I now was sitting, facing the pool, the outside lights at the eaves of the two houses combined with the breeze causing the surface of the pool to shimmer in small waves, was where Riel had died.

Ah, the memories. I stared into the gently moving water of the pool.

* * * *

I was barely nineteen, an E-1 seaman recruit, lanky, blond, achingly good looking, and already knew I wanted men, but I hadn’t done anything about it. I was ripe for it, and the Navy, where randy and fit men were isolated in a tin can on the ocean for months at a time, was a good place to get it. My destroyer was steaming off North Korea, in the spring of 1952. It had just strafed the northern coast and the men were in high spirits. An E-3 seaman sat on my chest in a tight bunk, stuffing my mouth with my briefs to keep me quiet and slapping his cock on my cheeks, while a burly E-5 petty officer, 2nd class—I couldn’t remember them by their names, only by their rank—tore my virginity out of me, holding my legs hooked on his hips, while he fucked and seeded me.

I had resisted a bit at first, but I hadn’t said no, and I’d certainly let them think yes in the foreplay. I was as hopped up and in heat as they were. I had thought long and hard about doing it, and now I was doing it. Once the E-5 was in me and the pain had subsided and he’d started slow-pumping me, I relaxed and took it. When the E-3 moved to sheath my cock and ride me in a cowboy, I was into it enough for all of us to know I’d both give and take without being a problem for the rest of the cruise, which I did. So, I was a full recruit to both sides at nineteen.

Visions of the Navy subsided and swam back up as memories of diving into this pool, naked, on my first night in Key West in 1954. I was twenty-one and working my first job—the only job I’ve ever had—at Doubleday. Riel had driven me from the airport. The atmosphere in the car was electric. We had fucked—he had wanted me to fuck him, which I had done—on two of his visits to Doubleday in New York in setting up his contract—and hooking up with me as his editor. Both times, we had moved from consultations at the publishing house to a “get better acquainted” dinner and drinks at his hotel. Then up to his room. The first time I’d done him in a missionary on the bed—the second time I covered, mounted, and fucked him in a doggie position on the carpeted floor below the bed. There was no question I was to be the top, but there was no question that he was in control. He’d asked me stay that night, which I did. He’d asked Doubleday to assign me solely to him the next day, in the late stages of the contract negotiations, and they had agreed to it. I was new, not yet a known quantity to them. This was my big break. I knew I was selling myself, but it wasn’t really new ground for me sexually.

As we drove back to his house on Von Phister in Key West, we both knew the first thing we’d do when we got there was fuck. He went beyond that.

“I’m highly sexed,” he said. “I’ve found that I work best when mellowed out. Part of your duties as my editor will be to fuck me every day.”

“I think I can do that,” I said.

“But I need my sleep and my space. I’ll be sleeping in the main house and you’ll have a room in the guest house.”

And, with that, the parameters were set. I don’t think I managed to cover him every day we were together, but it was close.

* * * *

I flinched when a frog dropped into the pool very near to my feet. I had been dreaming. I often did that here at the pool. I felt close to Riel here. That perhaps was a bit morbid considering he’d died here—right here. I doubted that the docents would point that out to visitors to the house museum. But then again, maybe they would. Maybe they’d even outline where his body was found in yellow paint. That was the sort of scintillating information that kept museums in the news. And telling someone that a burglar murdered Riel here would be different from telling them it was after they’d had gay sex.

I stood, picked up the duffel bag, and continued on to the pool house. The bungalow facing Flagler was two rooms deep. It was about forty feet wide, which meant there was only about six feet on either side to the eight-foot fence on the lot lines. The bedrooms—two of them—were on the front of the house, facing Flagler, and, as bathrooms kaçak bahis with walk-in closets had been built toward the street onto both bedrooms, the front wall of the bungalow was right against the sidewalk. A parking space separated the bedroom wings, and the door was on the inside wall of that. The space had been covered, making it a carport, with a front door hard to get to when a car was parked in it. Riel was just fine with it being hard for uninvited visitors to get to the front door of the Flagler house—the other house was the main one. The people he’d invited, who parked on Flagler—usually hookups he wanted coming in from the back—knew to come around the side to the pool terrace. The back of the house, facing the terrace, was one long room, with the living room flowing into the dining area and into the kitchen area. The back of the house was almost completely glass.

The room I’d always used as a bedroom, which was a bit narrower than the other bedroom, so that the carport wasn’t completely centered, was on the right, with my back to the terrace. It had a three-quarter’s bed. The other bedroom had a queen-sized bed. I went to the closet in my room and stashed the duffel bag, changed into what I considered to be cruising clothes, and went out to the carport.

The carport was pretty much filled with a 1966 Buick Skylark convertible, the car Riel owned when he died. It had been here ever since, and was in nearly pristine condition, rarely having been driven. The caretaker of the compound drove it enough to keep it alive. I’d already found that it attracted young men on Duval Street when I drove to the gay bars. That didn’t bother me a bit.

I went to Jerry’s, a bar off Duval that had been a favorite of Riel’s when we were together. The bartender bar owner remembered me, and we discussed the “good old days” and the progress in getting the museum open. Riel and I hadn’t gone out together too much in public. This was one of the few bars we did go to. The people here had always been very discreet, and I was never aware of Riel having been outed. Few in Key West knew who he was—or cared until he started pulling in international awards. By then he was dead.

There was a group of twenty somethings at a table who were pretty raucous, but nobody in the place seemed to care. I, at the bar, certainly didn’t. I’d checked them out. I was cruising. The bartender pointed out that one of them, a cute surfer dirty blond lad, his hair long and silky, his build both slender and well-muscled, kept looking at me. When the others left, he stayed long enough, looking at me, for me to know he was offering a hookup.

He left the bar. I waited ten minutes before I also left. The red Skylark convertible was parked out front at the door of the bar, and Kenny—which I later was told his name was, although he probably didn’t give a real name any more than I did—was leaning in a James Dean pose against the fender of the car.

“This yours?” he asked.

“Close enough.” I’m betting he knew it was mine—that he’d seen me drive up in it. It belonged to Riel’s estate. It was still unclear how I fit into that. But no one questioned whatever I did with his things.

“Can I get a ride in it?”

“Sure. Is that all you want to ride?”

“What do you have in mind?” Kenny asked.

“Both ways,” I said. “You ride me and I ride you. Flip-flop. That’s the way I like it. I have someplace we can go.”

“Suits me fine,” he said.

Our first, flip-flop, fuck was in the Skylark in the guest house carport. I scooted over onto the passenger side after driving into the carport, while Kenny was going up on his feet and hovering over me, the heels of his hands pressed into the top of the car seat on either side of my head. I unbuckled and unzipped his shorts, pulled them down to his knees, and gave him head for a while. He returned the favor and went further. Kneeling on the car floor in front of me, he pulled off my jeans and briefs, and sucked on my cock, congratulating me on being horse hung. He asked me to put my ankles on the top of the windshield, which I did, and he rolled my pelvis up and sucked on my balls and ate my ass out.

He was preparing to rise over me and stick it in me, when I murmured, “The backseat. Let’s do it in the backseat.” There wasn’t much room back there, but we managed a completed flip-flop. I knelt sideways on the seat on all fours, and he mounted, penetrated, and fucked me to an ejaculation. I did him in a cramped missionary, with his shoulders and head on the seat and his pelvis elevated, his legs waving in the air, as I crouched between his thighs and had him warbling about my being horse hung again.

“Want to do it again, with more room? Want to come inside? I have a pool?” I asked.

“A pool? Sure,” he answered.

When I came out of the guest house in a terrycloth robe, wearing nothing else, Kenny’s lithe, naked body was making a perfect dive into the pool. I went over and sat on the foot of the pool bed and watched the young man swimming languid laps in the small pool. Once again, the beams of the lights on the eaves of the houses were reflecting off the surfacing of the pool, making it shimmer around the beautiful, nude body of the young man.

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