"McManus, McManus!" Beecher shouted; it echoed across the Em City commons.
"Hey Beecher, I'm late. Can this wait till later?"
"Just a quick question. Any news on Keller?"
Tim shook his head. "Sorry, I haven't heard anything. It's completely out of my hands."
Beecher looked browbeaten, older. "Try not to worry about it," McManus said placing a hand on his shoulder. "Things will be alright. I'll see ya."
Lawyer Boy nodded as McManus walked away. Beecher liked McManus' touch. It was soft, comforting. He also liked the man's nearly baldhead. Something about it was so sexy. He had liked it since the first time he saw him.
God, he longed for some affection. He had resorted to checking McManus out. Keller had been gone for weeks. Tobias longed for his touch, for his warmth. He ached for him. He was lovesick.
He felt pride. Beecher was proud of himself. After this latest crushing blow, Keller's confession, he hadn't fallen back into his old ways. No drinking, no heroin, no promiscuous sex.
He stepped into his pod, and leapt onto his top bunk. Said had moved out after the first couple of days. They always got along, but he could never feel completely comfortable living with Said. He liked to jack off every once in awhile, and Said's presence made him feel guilty. Plus, Said wanted to be with the Muslims right now, to strengthen the group once more.
And Beecher was no Muslim. He couldn't give up sex. No, it wasn't that he couldn't. It was that he didn't want to give up sex. Pure spirit or not, Beecher liked it.
He glanced up at a figure standing in his doorway — Keller. It felt like a mirage, but he was fucking there.
"Oh my God!" he screamed. Beecher ran to open the door for the man, and ushered him inside. "Oh my fucking Christ God!"
Keller was all smiles. They grabbed each other in a warm hug. It felt so good to lean into this man, to feel him leaning back. Their groins brushed together, creating some incredible friction. This was no mirage.
They hugged for several minutes, twisting and turning, enjoying the heat and excitement of the moment. Beecher couldn't help but shed a few tears. They plodded on Keller's shoulder during the embrace. Keller kissed him on his stubbly cheek.
Keller stepped back from the embrace long enough to take a look at Beecher. Sweet, innocent Toby. He was still thin, perhaps too thin, and his shoulders felt bonier than they had only a few weeks back. But he had those same beautiful eyes, the same winning smile.
"So, what? No solitary confinement? No death penalty?"
"No, just life imprisonment."
Beecher looked disheartened suddenly. He smiled anyway, and fidgeted with Keller's T-shirt a bit. "No possibility of parole, right?"
"Toby, it was 50 years before. Now it's just a little longer. I'll probably die before the 50 years anyway."
"You shouldn't say things like that."
"They might come true."
"Wouldn't that be a blessing?" Keller replied. He sighed deeply and threw his stuff on the bottom bunk.
"I was so worried about you," Beecher said, eyes flooding with tears again. He must've looked pathetic, but he didn't care.
Keller brushed his tears away with his hands. "Yeah, I know. I was worried you'd do something crazy."
"Who, me?" Beecher wasn't typically this playful, but he was ecstatic to see Keller again, alive and well.
"So, what did I miss around here?" Keller asked placing some of his items around the pod. He began making his bed.
"Nothing. Still no trace of Vern. Robson has been making a lot of noise; I could hear it all the way from cellblock B. Talking about taking you, me and O'Reily out."
"Yeah, right," Keller scoffed. "That dickless idiot is nothing without Schillinger."
"My thoughts exactly."
"Any of those Aryan fucks been messing with you?"
"No, and it's kinda' strange. I was hanging out with Said a little, but not much. I've been alone. Like usual. They could've fucked me up by now."
Keller smiled. He hoped that McManus had watched after his lover. "That's good. Hey, I almost forgot. When's your parole?"
"Couple more weeks."
"Yeah, and still a little scared."
"I know what you mean. It'll be weird having your routine back, won't it? Being able to do exactly what you want to do, when you want to do it."
"Yeah, well I'll have plenty of time to sit around and do nothing. It's not likely I'll get a job anytime soon."
"What are you bitching about? Your dad's a bigwig in a law firm. He'll take care of you." Keller smiled, and gave him a friendly slap on the back.
Beecher felt like a dumbass. Keller was right. Who was he to bitch and moan? "Yeah, Mom and Dad have been pretty spectacular, considering all I've put them through."
Keller nodded furiously. "Yeah, you're going to be alright."
"Sister, I'm a piece of shit. I always have been, and I always will be."
"Christopher, we've talked about this before. You're not a piece of shit." Pete spoke with her hands; she was always so expressive. Keller nodded, wearing a pathetic look.
"So, how are things with Tobias since you've been back to Em City?"
"Fine." He twiddled his thumbs nervously. "Better than fine." He looked almost nauseated as he uttered these words.
"What's wrong, Chris?"
"Nothing, really. Nothing real."
"Come on, talk to me. I thought we were passed this awful guarded phase."
"It's killing me," Keller said. "Beecher's parole is only a couple of weeks away."
"And that makes you feel sad, that he might be leaving?"
"Yeah." Keller thought in silence for a few moments. "We've been so — normal — these past few days. This thing we share. It's pretty amazing, despite all the shit in our past."
"Well, love is amazing. The best and truest love always is."
"Yeah, and I find myself wanting it." He smiled, and sniffed. "It's, like, worse than any drug I've ever done. I want his love, all the fucking time." Keller made a soft huffing sound. "Talk about addictions."
"Is that so bad, to want his love all the time?"
"Hell yes. Yes, it's the worst."
"Because it might go away soon?"
"Yeah," Keller replied, his voice breaking. "Yeah."
He stepped into their pod, their love nest. Beecher was busy shaving his five o'clock shadow. He inched the blade along his face with careful strokes.
Beecher could hear the anguish and loss in his voice; Keller was never very good at hiding it.
"I, uh… I can't stop thinking about those men. The ones I killed."
"You wanna' talk about it?"
Keller nodded. "It's just so fucked-up. What I did, you know?"
Beecher looked at him from over his shoulder. The shaving cream clung to his delicate face and chin. He pulled the razor down again, stripping off the stubble and revealing the pale flesh beneath. "Gimme just a minute, okay? Just let me finish this." He hurriedly shaved the rest of his face, wiped the excess cream off and seated himself across from Keller. With tender eyes, the lawyer signaled his lover to continue.
"I remember all their names." Keller looked serene yet tortured as he spoke. His blue eyes beamed at Beecher from a few feet away. "I remember their smells, their voices. I can still hear them, inside my head."
"Did you love them?"
He shook his head. "No, I didn't even know them. Not really. They were beautiful, sculptured men. Sexy eyes, sexy swaggers, sexy mouths."
Same things I love about you, Beecher thought. He banished the thought as quickly as it came and turned his attention back to Keller.
"I know this is the dumbest question, but why? Why did you do it?"
"I've asked myself that over and over." He glanced at Beecher, who wore a wounded look in his eyes. "The only thing I can remember about those nights is that I just kept thinking, this is wrong. This is so fucking wrong. And I kept blaming it on the men."
Beecher simply stared at him.
"As crazy as that sounds, I blamed my lust on those fucking men. I hated myself for wanting to fuck them, and I was just compelled to lash out at them. It was like a reflex or something." Keller fell silent for a few moments. "I blamed them for my desires," he reiterated. "But these feelings didn't start with them. I realize that now. They started a long, long time ago."
"I understand," Beecher said, softly placing his hand on Keller's shoulder.
"Do you?" Keller asked, cocking his eyebrow. He looked solemnly at his lover. "Beecher, I gotta' be straight with you, and I need you to keep it between us."
"Sure." The lawyer was deadly serious.
"I'm a fag. And I hate myself for it." Keller maintained his stone- serious veneer.
"Chris, I knew you were gay. Or at least I figured it."
Keller looked surprised, but he wasn't. Perhaps he was surprised that Beecher had said the words aloud. "Where does that leave you, Toby?"
Beecher smiled nervously. He stamped his foot a few times, trying to avoid the question. He looked like a schoolyard innocent fidgeting. "That leaves me… very fucking confused."
Keller rose and walked over to Beecher. He planted a firm, attentive kiss on his lover's cheek. Beecher turned quickly to meet his lover's next kiss. Their lips locked together, their tongues entwining in a passionate union. Neither of them wanted to let go, even to breathe.
Keller worked his mouth down to Beecher's neck and Adam's apple. He nipped and suckled at the soft fleshy nape for some time. He even kissed and tongued that little concavature at the front of Beecher's collarbone.
"It's four o'clock in the afternoon," Beecher said between breathy moans of pleasure. "Someone's going to see us."
"Then… it'll be… a free… show," Keller replied, working him into a gelatinous, faltering mess.
A hack slammed his nightstick on the harsh glass of their pod door. "Break it up, faggots! Save it for lights out!"
Standing upright, his mouth moist with passion, Keller snaked his tongue out at the CO. "You can always join us," he hissed.
Beecher looked around; the various inhabitants of Oz were staring at them. He felt like a zoo exhibit, a caged animal.
David Starnes was the new fag in town, another cocksucker in Em City. Beecher had heard the story through Rebadow. Of course, the old man got the story from God. Starnes had walked in on his lover and another man fucking; he murdered them on the spot. Sentence: 20 years, up for parole in 10.
Beecher had watched David several times, mostly while Keller was going through his ordeal. He seemed a peaceful person, never really cavorting too much with the other gays. He was more conservative than flamboyant, choosing to read and sticking to himself a lot.
He wanted to talk to Starnes. Beecher wasn't famous with the gays. He really did his best to ignore them. But perhaps this Starnes guy was a good person to talk to about his feelings.
"Hey, you're David Starnes, right?"
"Yes, Beecher." He looked up at the lawyer.
"I'm sorry, have we met?"
"No, but I know you." He gestured for the lawyer to sit down.
"I would like to talk to you, if it's alright."
"You want to talk about your feelings for Keller."
"Yes, but how did you—."
"I enjoyed your little show the other day. You and him lip-locked in your pod."
Beecher nodded, affecting a smile, and accepting what he thought was a compliment. He couldn't be sure.
"You're conflicted, right? You have this moral code that you feel responsible for upholding, and it is in direct conflict with this inexplicable desire for Keller, this love for him."
"Yeah." It was as though Starnes had read his mind.
"Welcome to the real world."
"Real world. What does that mean?"
"It means, we don't choose who we love."
"You want me to tell you if you're gay or not, don't you?"
"Sort of. Maybe." Beecher giggled, but he found nothing funny. "Honestly, I don't know what I want." He sounded like a blundering idiot as he fumbled for feelings and words at the same time. "Maybe I just want to talk."
Starnes seemed to like this answer. "You know, I've always known I was gay. Since I first began puberty, I was always attracted to men. Hasn't always been easy." Starnes gazed at his lovely blue eyes. The gay man's eyes were the palest green Beecher had ever seen. His dark hair fell in soft curls about his temple. "But it has been more rewarding than living a lie."
"I love women," Beecher replied sullenly.
"So do I."
"I adore women. I worship them. They're my best friends. Who else am I going to share my man troubles with?" He chuckled slightly at this, but his expression was serious. "You love Keller, right?"
"And he's a man."
"You're telling me that you think I'm gay?"
Starnes thought for a moment. "I'm telling you that, in the long run, it doesn't matter."
"He's right, in a way." Said looked him right in the eyes. He was so forthright in his mannerisms. He seemed so peaceful.
"That doesn't help me any," Beecher said.
Said placed a hand on his shoulder. "Beecher, you know that my faith prevents me from agreeing with you on this whole Keller thing. But these labels, you're torturing yourself over nothing."
"It's not nothing to me. I feel like I've been living a lie."
"What lie?" A hurtful look washed over Said's face. "You loved your wife very much."
Beecher nodded, and this statement seemed to help him.
"Keller and I haven't slept together. Not since he got back to Em City."
"Is that good or bad?"
"I don't know anymore."
"Beecher, I've never been Keller's biggest admirer. But I must tell you: Keller… he's different than before. I don't know how authentic this change is, but he seems different."
"Yeah, I've noticed." Beecher stared at the Imam, his dark eyes and strong broad shoulders. "Can you not tell me what you and Keller talked about those weeks ago?"
Said shook his head no. "Sorry. I think Keller should be the one to tell you."
"It's like he has shut himself off to me again. Like he wants to separate us, emotionally and physically."
"Why do you think that is?"
"I guess it's his way of dealing with my parole hearing."
Said agreed. He remained silent for a few minutes, then spoke: "Beecher, have you thought about what you will do when you get out?"
"I mean, about Keller. Do you think he wants you to visit him?"
"God no. He's made that perfectly clear."
"What do you mean, how? He told me."
"People say all kinds of things. Because they don't want to admit things to themselves, or because they want to protect others."
"You're saying it's best that I come to visit him?"
"I'm saying he would say anything to protect your feelings… and his."
"Where've you been all day?" Keller asked as Beecher stepped into their cell.
Beecher looked around their pod. Keller had cleaned. The stainless steel shelving and basin were scrubbed, sparkling. The floor was cleared of any debris, and the glass walls were spotless. "Honey, you cleaned," he said, trying for his best June Cleaver impression. He reached for Keller and kissed him on the cheek, resulting in a squeaky smooching sound.
They smiled at each other.
"Well, you know, somebody has to clean up after your filthy ass."
"Yeah, right," Beecher replied.
A silence fell between them, and Beecher stepped up onto his top bunk. He lay back and rested his eyes. Keller milled about, finishing his cleaning. "Keller," he said, barely above a whisper.
"If I get out of here next week, I want to be able to visit you."
"Shit Beecher, we talked about this."
"I know, I know. But it would mean a lot to me. To know that you're doing well. To see you every so often."
"Beecher, I know you probably don't understand, but your visiting will just make things harder for me."
"Really? Do you really understand? I've got my whole fucking life to live in this shithole. That is, if some brother or Aryan doesn't airhole me first. Beecher, you're going to go free in just a few days."
"Chris, I need to do this."
"And what happens when you lose interest, huh? Say you do come and visit. Faithfully. You visit once a week for two or three years." Keller's eyes burned with intensity. "You get a job, get your life back on track, meet some nice girl—."
"Or boy," Beecher interrupted. Keller wasn't really listening.
"And then you decide you don't love me no more. Where am I then? Two or three more years of this affection and then I'm left high and dry? No thank you. Best to cut this off sooner than later."
"That won't happen."
"You can't guarantee that, Toby."
Beecher looked away from him, then returned his saddened gaze. Tears dripped from his eyes. His eyes were leaky faucets here lately. "No, I can't guarantee that. You're right." He thought some more. "But if I can't make sure you're okay, if I can't visit you, then I will never be able to move on."
"Fuck that. I'd rather have no visits at all than be cut off once I get used to it." He took Beecher's hands in his own. "Listen, Toby. This love is something I can learn to live without. You can too. You'll move on, find somebody better. Somebody who deserves you." Beecher shook his head. He was furious. He wanted to argue some more. He wanted to punch Keller in his face. But he didn't. What else could he say to convince the man? Keller was too fucking stubborn.
"Let's talk about the men, Chris." Pete had segued into the conversation with a fluid expertise.
"Tell me about them."
"They were all young men. I picked them up at some bar in town. The Syndicate, I think the place was called."
"Did you know their names?"
"Yes." Keller snickered in spite of his grimaced face. "Their names were all I knew about them."
"What did you like about them?"
Keller shot her a puzzled look.
"What made you want to have sex with them?" she clarified.
"Oh. Well, they were tall. Dark hair, light eyes. And they all three had this clean, innocent, wholesome aura about them. Almost… well, almost like—." Keller couldn't finish his statement.
"Almost like — Beecher?" Pete finished for him.
He nodded. "They had these angelic faces, very handsome men. They were ideal to me, in a way, I guess. Sort of how I wanted to be — comfortable with themselves and self-assured."
"Why kill them?"
"I honestly don't know for sure. I guess it wasn't too different from my wives. After I fucked them, I felt like they were just as dirty and filthy, just as low as I was. Or am. Whatever."
"But you didn't kill your wives."
"So you idealized them, then when you realized that they weren't the angels you thought them to be, you killed them."
"Yeah, I guess that's as close to a reason as I can think of."
"How did you kill them?"
"I smothered two of them. Stabbed the third."
"Why these methods?"
Keller shrugged his shoulders, defeated. "They say people smother others because they can't stand to look them in the eyes. As for the stabbing? I don't know."
"Have you ever thought about killing Beecher?"
"Never," he replied quickly. His blue eyes reflected the weight of his words. "I have never wanted to kill Beecher; I've never wanted to hurt him in any way."
"But you helped Vern Schillinger break his arms and legs."
"Yeah." Keller twisted in his seat, impatient. "I know it sounds crazy, but I never would've let Vern kill him, even when we were breaking his arms and legs."
"Well, I'm not here to judge. I just want to help you get to the bottom of your actions."
They sat together in silence for a few seconds. Keller didn't want to look her in the eyes.
"Have you considered," Sister Pete asked suddenly, "that you killed those men out of your hatred for being homosexual? For having these homosexual longings?"
"Yeah, I considered that."
"And… anything's possible, Sister Pete."
"You admitted to me that you're a homosexual."
"Yeah, I suppose I am."
"And you're not proud of this?"
"Of course not. Sister, you're Catholic. It's a sick act. I'm sick."
"Oh, pish posh," Pete said, waving her hands at him. "Never mind what society or religion or anyone else says right now. We're talking about you. How do you feel about being a homosexual?"
"I like being with Beecher. I like contact between us. I like the sex."
"But that isn't enough?" she asked with an inquisitive cock to her brow.
"Should it be?"
"Have you ever felt this way about other men?"
"Love?" Keller thought about her question. "Never. Not with men."
"Have you ever felt this way with a woman?"
Keller stopped. He thought for some time on this question, as well. He wasn't sure how to answer it.
"Chris?" Beecher called out. His was a disembodied voice in the darkness of their cell.
"You asked me a few weeks ago why I loved you."
"Well, I wanna' know. Why do you love me?"
Keller focused his eyes on the curved springs supporting the bunk above him. "You're not like these other fucks in here."
"So I'm still a fuck," Beecher joked.
"You know what I mean." Keller thought for a moment, and then went on. "The first time I saw you, I don't know. There was just something about you; I liked you immediately."
"Yeah, I know what you mean. I felt it too."
"I couldn't put my finger on it, that feeling, but I knew that I wanted to fuck you."
"Yeah. And you were really playing hard to get. I've never had that much trouble—."
"Getting into someone's pants?" Beecher interrupted.
Keller chuckled instead of responding verbally.
Their conversation satisfied Beecher, though he still had no idea why Keller loved him. He slid out of his blanket, and plopped down on the floor. He knelt by his lover.
"I want you to fuck me," he said in a loud whisper.
Keller turned to him: "Not tonight." He looked sad as he said these words.
Beecher wanted to argue, but begging and pleading was out of the question. It wasn't worth the humiliation. He shrugged his shoulders and climbed back up into his bunk. Why hadn't they had sex since Keller came back from his trial? They hadn't even shared a kissed since that day when the CO harassed them.
Beecher tossed and turned a few times, but he could not rest. Keller had remained quiet the whole time, so he had probably fallen asleep.
"Toby," he said finally, half-hoping that his lover would already be fast asleep.
"Yeah?" Beecher replied groggily.
"Remember the day of your son's funeral, when you asked if I had ever been with men before?"
"Yeah. You lied to me."
"I lied to you, but in a way I didn't."
"The way you said it, if I had ever felt this way before about men."
"Right, and you lied through your fucking teeth."
"Okay, sure, I've been with countless men. But look, I've never felt this way with other men before. I don't think I've ever felt this way with anyone before."
Beecher remained still, letting the words sink in.
"Look, whether you believe me or not, I just wanted you to know."
"You love me."
"I love you, yes."
"But I can't come visit you?"
Keller rolled his eyes.
"You'd rather be without my affections completely? Huh?" Beecher spoke in a short, choppy manner. "Okay, Chris, I admit it. I might fall in love again when I get out. I might lose touch with you, over time. But wouldn't you rather—."
"Wouldn't you rather enjoy the time we have left in here together?" Keller sighed deeply. His breathing hardened with impatience. "Toby, please don't. Just don't."
A screaming silence fell over the pod.
"Fuck me," Beecher beckoned again. He didn't want to be this pathetic, but he was horny. No, beyond horny. He was starved for affection.
"Suck me," Keller replied as a sexy smile spread across his lips.
Keller awoke with a slight spasm. Beecher's smaller frame was curled under his left arm, snoring softly. Strange how these bunks could hold two people comfortably, if you lie just right. He lifted his right arm and ran his fingers through the lawyer's soft sandy blond hair.
"I want you to move me to another pod," Keller said.
"Yes," he replied resolutely.
"Do I need a reason?"
McManus thought for a second. "I'll think about it."
"Come on, McManus."
"I said I'd think about it. Officer, take him out of here."
"He's running away," Pete said. Her voice was soft, almost lulling, but forthright.
"I got the idea that they might not be getting along."
"No, that's not it. Beecher's parole hearing is in two days, and he's trying to run away from this good-bye."
"You sure?" McManus said.
"Well, I can't very well say no. Wouldn't that just make him resentful? I mean, you can't make someone face their emotions." Pete stroked her chin. "I suppose so. I've tried my best to open him up."
"What should we do?"
"Honestly, I'm through with it. Let him go, I guess."
When Keller told him, Beecher didn't want to cry. Not now, at least. The dark-haired man gathered his various belongings and walked out of the pod.
Beecher felt a shiver, like the warmth had suddenly been sucked out of the cell. No tears, he kept repeating to himself. Truth was, his body didn't even need the convincing.
He was through with crying.
The pod door clipped shut behind Hill, Beecher's old roomy made new again. "How's it going, man?"
"Alright," Beecher replied. He believed it.
"Look, I know you and Keller had some special thing, so I hope you don't go thinking you can pull some of that manly loving on me or nothing," Hill said smiling.
"No." Beecher walked to the front glass wall. Keller walked into his new pod on the second floor. It was the same pod that he had used before. Beecher flashed back to a couple of months, back to when Keller watched him from that cell. Chris had watched in anger as he gave in to Mondo's incessant begging.
Mondo. What a lousy fuck. And he was always so verbal. He used those horrible porno movie phrases, like `whose bitch are you?' or `whose ass is this?' If Beecher were really lucky, he'd get to hear `whose pussy is this?' amid the ass ramming.
"Man, are you even listening to me?"
Beecher shook his head, stirring from the memories. "I'm sorry, what?"
"I asked if this was your razor?"
He picked up the razor from Hill's hands. Keller's razor.
Two knocks. The glass door jarred with each thud.
Keller was resting on his new bunk, his hands behind his head in a familiar diamond shape. He was smiling that ornery smile; the one where you knew something was churning inside his head.
"You forgot your razor," Beecher said, placing the silver tool on the sink. He grabbed the door handle to go.
"Beecher," Keller said.
He stopped but held the door with his knee. The sounds of Em City filled the pod.
"I love you." Keller winced as he spoke the words.
Beecher pushed the door wide-open and walked back to his pod.
The judge stared at him with somber eyes. He looked so sad, but Beecher guessed it was just the gravity of the parole hearing weighing on the man.
The past two days had been rough, without Keller. Without any kind of affection. He was still pissed. After all they had been through, after all he had experienced, Keller still could not face up to his emotions. Sure, he said "I love you" — hell, he said it all the time now — but Keller was still very childlike in his refusal to say good- bye. He was one stubborn son of a bitch.
"Mr. Beecher, let me be straight with you." The judge's scornful tone penetrated the air in the tiny meeting room. "You've had your fair share of problems here at Oz. Your behavior has been somewhat questionable, and you've taken numerous trips to the Hole."
Beecher nodded, "I had my rocky periods. But in my defense, I've also been through some very traumatic experiences. Not just from living in here, but also with the death of my wife and son on the outside."
"Duly noted." The judge lifted her eyes from Beecher's file for a moment. "I've looked at all the evidence, and I've come to a decision."
Beecher looked to his left, in his lawyer's direction. Not really at her, but through her. She smiled at him, and for a moment he almost forgot about Keller.
"It is the finding of this court that you have paid your debt to society, and that you should be immediately released to resume life once again." The judge pounded the gavel, and rose to leave the courtroom. The participants rose to excuse her.
Exhilaration. Utter elation. Beecher felt like grabbing his lawyer and kissing her. He shook her hand intensely. He knew she wasn't solely to credit for his release, but he appreciated everything right now. It was as though this giant figure had covered his day in this funereal shroud, and that figure had dissipated immediately upon hearing the verdict.
"Congrats, man," Hill said to him as he walked into their pod.
"You heard already?"
"Yeah," he replied with a sneaky grin, "I know everything `round here."
Beecher grinned. "Right."
Hill extended his hand, and Beecher shook it. They stood in silence for a while.
"You know, for the longest time, I thought you were crazy as fuck."
"For the longest time, I felt crazy as fuck." They both laughed at this.
Beecher turned to see Said's tall frame outside their pod. Beecher gestured for him to come inside.
"Soon as they'll let me."
They embraced once more, for perhaps the last time. Said felt like shedding tears, but he did not. A few moist drops appeared in Beecher's eyes, but he brushed them away just as quickly.
"Don't you cry over this place."
"It's not this place I'm crying over." Hill wheeled himself out into the Em City commons, almost blushing for the emotional men. Once alone, Beecher continued: "You know, now that I know when I'm getting out, that I have a date, I'm almost sad." Said smiled empathetically. "Don't get me wrong, I'm excited as hell, but like we've talked about before. I'm a different man than before." Beecher slipped into a contemplative look. "It'll be interesting to see what happens to me on the outside."
"I have a feeling you'll do great things."
Beecher nodded. He certainly hoped that he would.
"You going to talk to Keller before going?"
The lawyer shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know. Sometimes I want to, and sometimes I think it'll be much easier if I don't ever look at him again."
"You know, those years ago, when I insulted you, asked you who you ever really helped besides yourself?"
"Truth is, you've helped me. Immeasurably."
They hugged each other again, fondly. This time, Said permitted himself to shed a few tears.
"That is a great comfort to me." Said's warm words accompanied the warmest expression on his face. He realized suddenly just how much he would miss Beecher. His questioning personality, his sharp wit, his desire to know God. Most of all, however, he'd miss the man's innocence. Through all the trials and tribulations, Beecher still could not claim to know more about the `street life' than when he came to Oz.
Keller watched like an eagle, resting on his perch from the second floor. It made him feel good that Beecher was a free man. He always knew it was going to happen, but somewhere deep down he wished it weren't true. He wished he could have continued to watch his lover in here for years to come, even from afar. Now he was alone again.
And that was no good.
McManus looked so solemn. He was sleep-deprived and disheveled. His eyes sagged, and his goatee was overgrown and shaggy. "Beecher, I just want you to know… I'm sorry for your time being so rough in here."
"You didn't cause that."
The unit manager nodded. "Yeah, I know. But in a way, I couldn't stop it either."
Beecher shook his head. "I don't blame you, McManus. If I blame anybody, I have to blame myself."
A strange pause.
"You know, as hellish as it's been in here, I don't know if I would change it. Any of it."
"Even your wife and son dying?"
"I've tried to accept my part in their deaths. Somehow, I just hope they can forgive me, wherever they are now." He choked back some tears. "Right now I have to be there for my daughter."
"I don't have any kids. I'm pretty sure I'd be an awful father."
"I think you'd make a great father," Beecher replied. Honestly, he didn't know whether or not McManus would be a good father. It seemed like the right thing to say.
The two shook hands as Beecher rose to leave the office. He glanced at McManus again. He thought back to those months ago, when the man had come to get him in the Hole. `You wanna' touch my dick?' he had asked McManus.
In a way, he wished McManus had wanted to.
"Take care, Beecher."
"Yeah," he said plainly. "You too."
"Sister Peter Marie," he said softly. The door squeaked as he opened it.
"Hello, Tobias. Please come in."
He sat down in the plush little chair facing her desk. "I guess this'll be my last time working in your office."
"Yes, another one gets paroled. See what I mean? Every time I get someone trained, get them accustomed to my method of working, they leave me."
"There will be someone else."
Pete smiled the most genuine smile. It reminded him of Said. "I'm going to miss you, Tobias."
"Yeah, me too."
Sister Pete sniffed, holding the tears back from her saddening eyes. "So, did you learn anything during your stay here at Oz?"
"Stay out of trouble."
"Well, you were right. I learned that everything I thought I was — lawyer, son, father, husband, friend, brother — was stripped away to reveal a person underneath." The words filtered throughout the room. "I learned that I can survive. And that to survive, sometimes I have to fight."
"It's strange," he continued. "I come from a family with money. As hard as I worked to live up to my father's and my grandfather's image of success and happiness, I don't think I ever really had to fight for it. Sure, Harvard was tough, and so was the stress of being a lawyer. But this place—." Beecher stopped himself.
"What about this place?"
"In a way, it's more real than anything I lived before it."
"I know what you mean."
The room was silent again, and they could hear the rumbling of inmate conversations all the way down the hall.
"At the risk of slipping into psychiatrist mode, have you said good- bye to Chris?"
Beecher shook his head.
"Tobias, you need some closure with this relationship."
"I'm not sure talking with him will give me that."
"Don't you think you should try?"
"I will, I will." He felt like a schoolboy, being lectured to for behaving poorly.
"Have you thought about meeting someone on the outside?"
"That's the last thing I need right now, another relationship."
"I know, but I mean in the long term."
"Another lesson I learned in Oz -— don't think about tomorrow until you actually live through today." Beecher smiled in spite of the seriousness of the statement.
Pete understood. "What I mean is, what kind of person do you expect to find yourself attracted to?"
"You mean male or female?"
"Male, female, straight, gay, bisexual, Chinese, Indian, whatever."
"Eventually, I guess I expect to find myself with someone... someone I love."
It was bullshit pride. Beecher knew it. He didn't want to seek out Keller. He wanted to be pursued, for a change. He wanted to know that he was still wanted. And if that meant that Keller never came, that he had no closure with this affair, well—.
But Keller came.
That manly swagger the man had perfected by now. The swaggerer knocked on his pod door and helped himself in.
Beecher looked at him, blankly. He wanted the first words to be Keller's.
"I'm real glad that you're getting out."
"Thanks." The lawyer returned his eyes to his book. He only had a few chapters left.
Keller stamped around a bit, sizing up the room that he used to occupy. He finally seated himself on the stiff plastic chair in front of the beds. "I've been thinking some more."
"Mm-hmm," Beecher replied without looking up.
"It'd be good if you could visit me. You know, just whenever you have time."
The book clapped shut with a short burst of air. Beecher looked up suddenly. "You really mean it, Chris?"
He nodded fervently. "I was just thinking about you and me." He paused for a few seconds and stared at his feet. "Well, I know how hard it will be for you to visit this place, given all that you've been through."
"Yeah, it'll be tough visiting. I still want to do it."
"I know. That's why it would be good for you to do it. Good for both of us."
"Alright." Beecher felt like shaking the man's hand. Actually, he felt like groping Keller relentlessly. But he remained prostrate on the bed.
Keller turned to leave, but turned to face the man again. "Toby."
He smiled sensually: "Too bad they haven't brought back conjugals."
"I'll talk to McManus, see what I can work out."
They shared another smile, perhaps their last for some time.
Keller turned to leave again. He grasped the slick steel door handle.
He could hear Beecher's delicate size 10 feet slap the floor. He whirled around and found the man right in front of him. The lawyer pressed into him, and Keller could feel the burgeoning erection beneath his weathered black trousers. He then felt the blood surge through his own sex, its sensitive head massaging against the strap of his boxers.
The line between sex and love had blurred for Beecher. He was seducing Keller now. For these moments, he forgot about Oz, about their cell, about their past together. He forgot about their love, the rules, and his parole, about everything except their two connected, hot frames.
He pressed his soft lips into Keller's. They kissed, long and hard. His arms were free-roaming explorers, tracing invisible lines across the man's back, shoulder blades, neck, ass and beyond. The two lovers breathed into each other, tongues snaking into and receding from their hot, tasty mouths.
Beecher pulled back for just a moment. Over Keller's shoulder, he glanced around the commons outside. For a change, no one was watching them. No COs were around, so he kissed and nipped at the man's lips some more.
"There is this nice secretive little place where I used to go with all my male buddies," Beecher said amid the intense kissing and tonguing. "No one will ever find us."
Keller could have swooned at any moment. It was painful, experiencing this pleasure for the last time, but he would surrender to it. He always surrendered to Beecher, eventually. No matter how much he resisted, lawyer boy always got his way, didn't he?
They walked out of the pod, Beecher's arm around his neck. Keller wanted to fondle him, touch him, run his arms all about the lawyer. He wanted to pleasure him, endlessly.
At last, they came to this relatively secluded corner, nothing but a darkened stairwell. Beecher fell to his knees, pulled Keller's sex out of his pants and pleasured him. His tongue slid across the pale shaft effortlessly.
Keller leaned back against the steps, the cold steel of a step pressuring the crown of his head. He moaned with agonizing pleasure as his lover's lips glided back and forth on his shaft. For several minutes this continued, and he sank further into ecstasy.
Beecher eased his mouth off Keller's cock. He stood again, the smile of an expert cocksucker on his face. Keller returned his smile. His cock twitched, the saliva cooling in the draft of the stairwell. They kissed again, and Keller tasted himself on his lover's breath. Lawyer boy dove into his mouth with his pink fleshy tongue. Over and over. Under and under.
While they enjoyed the amazing, breathless kissing, Beecher's hands found the man's erect tool. He encircled the prick, yanking it and twisting his fingers and palms about the man's device. Keller's knees would have buckled had Beecher not had such an incredible grip on his cock.
"I… want… you inside… me," Beecher pleaded between kisses.
He pulled back once again. This time, he grasped his trousers. He tore the button open and thrust the weathered pants to his ankles. His white boxers — tented with his affections — glared in the poor light. He grasped the elastic band of his boxers and, turning around, pushed these down as well.
Keller touched the awful red swastika on his lover's ass. The memento of Beecher's time as Schillinger's prag. Beecher jumped at this motion, perhaps because his fingers were cold. But he didn't miss a beat. He smoothed his hands over Keller's shaft, removing the dots of precum that had formed there. With his lover's help, he massaged the cum across his manly core.
He could hardly wait. He helped the lawyer massage his white-blow across the puckered little asshole. So tight, even after all the sex he had had in Oz. Each time felt like the first time for Keller. He pushed his aching device in, and Beecher released several muted moans of bliss. The small amount of lubricant permitted his cock to slide in and out of his lover with ease.
It was painful, but Beecher had grown accustomed to this pain. He wasn't sure before, but he realized that he had come to enjoy anal sex. Keller wasn't the biggest man in here; Beecher knew that now. But he was the gentlest lover in Oz, and he fucked like a madman. Like an expert queer.
"Uh, uh… fffffshit." Keller groaned in and out of him repeatedly. It wouldn't be long. Steadying himself with his left hand, Beecher enclosed his own prick with his free hand. It was long and engorged, with a pale shaft and head a beet-red color.
Those familiar spasms. Those telltale hip gyrations. "Uh!" Keller exclaimed. He pulled out suddenly, sending an aching wave of pain through Beecher's ass and abdomen, and jerked himself, massaging his swollen cockhead against the tense, tattooed curve of lawyer boy's ass.
The lovers grunted together, exploded together. A jet stream of cum erupted from Beecher's cock, releasing waves of pleasure and joy throughout his body, his entire being. His eyes followed the sticky white globules as they rained down onto the concrete floor. At the same time, he felt Keller's warm semen land across his ass, lower and middle back in repeated, volcanic bursts. The sticky love juice formed puddles, and slowly streamed down his arched back.
Slamming his cock against his lover's ass, Keller emptied the last shots from his raging dick. He pulled Beecher's smaller frame up to him and turned the man around to face him. They exchanged exhausted glances, but he pressed their chests together nonetheless. He wanted to feel Beecher's warmth, his essence. He wanted to hear that faithful heartbeat.
The lawyer loved the warmth they shared. He thought briefly what it would be like to have it forever, but he dashed those hopes as reality settled in. Their bodies were hot, intertwined together, but the draft of the stairwell made his ass cold. His pants were still wrapped around his ankles, as were his white boxers.
"I love you, Chris."
"I love you too." They remained silent, embracing, for some minutes. It was time to go back to their pod for the evening. "Nothin' is gonna' change that, okay?" Keller said, gazing into Beecher's soft eyes. He waited for a reply.
His lover nodded. "Yeah, me too." He felt sick suddenly. "You take care of yourself, Chris Keller." Tears flooded his face; they were unexpected. He was flooded with feelings of love, joy, and sadness and pain.
Keller helped his lover straighten up, and they returned to Em City's commons area. No one seemed to pay attention to either of them. It was as if they had never left.
The familiar buzzer sounded, and after a brief hug, the two parted ways.
Beecher was gone the next morning.
Concluded in Part 4
and be sure to check out a different ending in his Alternate Ending