It was well after one in the morning when two tired looking detectives entered the waiting room and walked over to the nurses’ station.
“We’re here to investigate the Monroe assault,” one of the detectives informed a busy nurse. She told them to wait while she ran out of the room and into a nearby cubicle. The detectives talked while they waited rather impatiently.
“Oh, good,” Matt said happily. “It looks like Sergeant Nichols is working this case.”
Jessica asked, “You know him?”
“Yes,” Matt replied. “He worked on the Wellston case with me last year. He’s a pretty decent guy.”
Jessica looked over and watched the two men. One was a burly man, whom she assumed was Nichols. He was stocky, probably the result of spending too much time in a doughnut shop. The other man was taller with better built. He appeared about 10 years younger.
After a few minutes the nurse reappeared and escorted the detectives into Joe’s room. Ten minutes later they reappeared into the waiting area and headed for Matt and Jessica.
“Matt Adams,” smiled Nichols. “I should have known you’d be involved.”
“Hello Sarge,” Matt said as he shook his hand.
He looked over at Jessica. “I’m Sergeant John Nichols, and this is my partner, Detective Eugene Daniels. We’re here to investigate the beating of your friend.” Matt reached over and shook Daniels hand.
“You know anything yet?” Matt instantly changed into his reporter role.
“Nothing really. Your friend was rather incoherent. They have him on some pretty heavy sedatives right now. We’ll come back in the morning. Maybe we can get some more information when he wakes up,” Nichols explained.
“The doctor said Joe mentioned someone named Cobra. Any ideas who he is?” Matt inquired.
Nichols face paled at the mention of Cobra’s name.
“Shit. If he’s involved in this, there could be some serious problems,” Nichols said worriedly. He looked briefly at Daniels and their eyes met. Daniels took out his pad and began writing.
“Who is this Cobra?” Matt asked as he worriedly looked over at Jessica.
“Only the meanest son of a bitch in this town,” Nichols responded angrily. “We’ve been trying to catch this guy for a couple of years. From what we can gather, he’s Wellston’s personal hit man.” Matt felt his legs go weak.
“Your friend’s lucky. Cobra doesn’t mess up. He obviously didn’t want Joe dead, or we’d be having this conversation in the morgue instead,” warned Nichols.
“I think I’m probably the intended target,” uttered Matt. “I’m the one they want. I think they used Joe to get to me.”
“Why would they do that?” Nichols asked. “I thought this whole mess was over when we finally imprisoned that piece of shit last year.”
“It was,” explained Matt. “But last week Joe and I discussed reopening the investigation.”
“Why?” Nichols asked. Daniels looked up briefly and then returned to writing in his note pad.
“Joe was going back over the case and discovered that nothing was ever mentioned in the courtroom or newspaper about the sex that was going on at the mansion the night of the raid.” He began to say more but was interrupted by Nichols.
“God dammit!” he shouted angrily. “Nothing was said because we were trying to protect some people.”
Matt asked, “Jeremy and the others?”
“Shit.” Nichols face began to pale. “Just how much do you know?”
“Not a lot. I just have a few hunches is all,” he told him.
“I don’t know if you are aware of just how much damage you have done here,” Nichols replied as his face became red with anger.
“What do you mean?” Matt was frightened by the demeanor of the usually calm sergeant.
“During our investigation last year, we discovered that Wellston planned to have all the boys involved in his prostitution ring murdered. After weeks of negotiation, we convinced him to let the boys live. In return, we dropped all charges related to his sex trade. The boys walked free without having to testify in court, or even worse, face a horrible death.”
Matt’s face whitened as he began to realize the consequences of his investigation.
“That crazy mother fucker doesn’t care about anyone. He’ll order those boys to be killed just as easily as he would order a pizza. He has no remorse.”
“I had no idea,” Matt said apologetically. “We just couldn’t understand why the sex thing was never investigated.”
“It was,” insisted Nichols. “We thoroughly investigated. We know who was involved, and the nature of their involvement. We talked to all the boys and their families. They knew the danger their sons faced. Thanks to you, you’ve jeopardized their lives again,” Nichols said angrily.
“I’m sorry.” Matt hung his head as Jessica squeezed his hand tightly. Now it made sense why she had seen the police almost daily at Jeremy and Tiffany’s apartment.
“I’ve got a lot of work to do,” Nichols said nervously. “I’ve got to get police protection for you, Joe, and the other boys. It’s not safe for any of you while Cobra is running around this city. I’m sure he’s gotten his orders directly from Wellston.”
“What do you want me to do?” asked Matt.
“Nothing right now,” replied Nichols angrily. “You’ve already done too much.”
“For the time being, Daniels will stay with you and Joe. I don’t want you out of his sight. Got it?” He warned Matt. “I want you in my office this afternoon. We should have things figured out by that time.”
“I’m sorry Sarge. I had no idea,” Matt said apologetically.
“I know. I just wish you had come to me before you started this investigation.” He turned to the other officer. “Daniels, you remain here for the rest of the evening. I’ll call you later and fill you in.”
He walked over and pulled Daniels aside. They talked for several minutes, and then Nichols quickly exited the emergency room. Daniels returned to the waiting area and sat down several seats from Matt and Jessica. He didn’t want it to look obvious that Matt had security, just in case Cobra decided to come looking for him at the hospital.
Matt and Jessica sat silently. Jessica increased her grip on Matt’s hand. If there was ever a time in his life he needed support, now was the time.
* * * * * * * *
Outside the hospital emergency room, an angry Cobra watched as Nichols and Matt talked within. He couldn’t hear what was being said, but their body language spoke for them.
He could surmise that they were discussing Joe’s injury and the reason for his beating. By now they had probably figured out that he was involved. He took the gun out of the holster that he carried around his shoulder. He looked to see that it was fully loaded before returning it to its secure spot.
He walked behind a bush when he saw Nichols angrily leave the hospital. His fingers itched to take out the gun and shoot him as he got in his car. But Nichols was not the person he wanted. He looked back through the window and saw the blonde- haired boy holding the hand of the young girl.
He lifted his hand toward Matt as if he was pointing a gun. “Bang! Bang! You’re dead!”
* * * * * * * *
“Did you contact Cobra?” Wellston asked Tiffany. She was faithfully visiting him almost weekly since his incarceration. On her last visit she had informed him about Matt, and he had told her to tell Cobra to ‘take care of it.’
She was sitting in a small cubicle facing Wellston, who was sitting behind a glass window. They were speaking together on a phone. “Yes, Sam, I called him. Dumbass can’t do anything right, though. Instead of taking out Matt, he roughed up his boyfriend.”
“Shit. How did he fuck up now?” he asked her angrily.
“He called last night and said he waited around for Matt to show up. When his boyfriend showed up instead, he roughed him up pretty bad. He’s in the hospital right now.”
He gave her a questioning look. “I don’t know who you’re talking about.”
“That black guy, his editor.”
“Oh, yeah. I remember him now,” he said into the phone. “Listen. Get hold of Cobra and tell him to lay low for a while. The cops are probably on this. I don’t want anything traced back to me. I’ve spent enough time in this hellhole.”
“I know, Babe. I miss you so much.” Tiffany frowned and then reached her hand under her skirt and began to play with herself.
“Stop that!” Wellston hollered. “God, I’m ready to bust, you tease!”
She smiled, stuck her finger into her mouth and licked it. “I can’t wait until you get out, Baby,” she cooed as she continued sucking her finger.
“I gotta go,” he said with frustration. “Tell Cobra to come see me in a few days.”
“Anything for you. Sam. I’ll see you next week.” She licked her finger a final time before getting up slowly and turning her back to him. She dropped her purse on the floor, and then bent over to pick it up. Her dress lifted above her ass. She didn’t have on any panties, so Wellston got a good look at her pussy. She turned around and smiled, waving as she exited the cubicle.
“Damn tease!” Wellston muttered as he rearranged his hardening cock.
* * * * * * * *
Matt entered the darkened room where Joe had been assigned. He and Jessica had left earlier; however, unable to rest, he returned to the hospital. When he arrived he discovered that Joe had been transferred to a regular room.
He walked quietly into the room and found Joe asleep in the hospital bed. He looked so peaceful. The drapes were drawn, but a small opening slightly illuminated his face.
Matt was suddenly overcome with a tremendous feeling of love for his friend. It was not just a crush he had Joe, it was love. He didn’t realize how much Joe really meant to him until he saw him lying helpless in the bed.
He walked over to the bed and looked down. Joe’s bare hand was out from under the covers. Matt took hold of it and held it gently. He felt Joe give it a little squeeze before groggily opening his eyes.
“Hey,” he said weakly, squeezing Matt’s hand harder.
“Hey, yourself. How are you feeling?”
“Like shit warmed over.” He suddenly began to cough.
“Here, sit up a little,” Matt suggested as he took hold of Joe’s bare shoulder and lifted him slightly. As Joe continued to cough, Matt began to gently rub his back.
“Let me get you a glass of water.” Matt walked over to the sink and filled a cup with water. He returned to the bed and put his arm around Joe’s back. He handed him the water and held him while he drank.
“Thanks.” Joe looked up into Matt’s green eyes. Matt leaned over and kissed him on the forehead. It was just a small gesture, but for both it had a significant meaning. It was the first time either had shown feelings for the other.
Matt returned Joe to a lying position and took his hand once again. When he wrapped his hand around Joe’s, he didn’t resist.
“You look like shit yourself,” Joe smiled.
“I’ve been worrying about your sorry ass,” he replied. “I haven’t slept in over twenty-four hours.”
“I’ll be all right. I feel like a mule kicked me in my sides, but the doctor said I should mend soon.”
“I’m just glad you weren‘t seriously hurt. I couldn’t live with myself if something had happened to you.” Tears welled up in his eyes. He lifted Joe’s hand and gently kissed it without any resistance from Joe.
“Joe, I’ve really got something I have to tell you. I’ve held it in for over three years.” Matt was preparing to confess his love for his friend.
Just then the door swung open and Jessica came rushing in, carrying a bouquet of flowers. Matt and Joe withdrew their hands, but not before Jessica noticed.
“Hey Sweetie,” she said cheerfully to Joe. She looked over at Matt and gave him a knowing smile. “You’re looking a lot better. Must be the company you’re keeping.” Matt looked at her and rolled his eyes. She walked over and handed Joe the flowers and kissed him on the cheek.
“Thanks, Jessie. It’s really nice of you to bring me flowers,” he responded. She took them and placed them on the dresser beside his bed.
“I’m glad you’re feeling better. Our boy, Matt, is a mess. He hasn’t eaten or slept since they brought you here.” She looked over as Matt rolled his eyes again. He knew what she was doing. She was going into her matchmaker mode.
“Thanks, Jessie, for visiting, but it’s time for you to leave.” He took her by the arm and led her to the door. “Joe needs his rest.”
“Nice try, Blondie, but I’m not ready to go.” She removed his hand from her arm and walked back over to Joe. Matt let out a deep sigh. He knew he was doomed once Jessica set her mind to something. She had seen them holding hands, and she was now determined to cement their relationship.
The door opened and in walked an older black couple. The man appeared very distinguished. He was rather short and dark-skinned. He was dressed in a dark brown suit, tan shirt and striped brown tie.
The woman appeared a few years younger. She was very attractive. She stood taller than the man, and was dressed in a business-styled slack suit. Her hair was neatly arranged and she had only a slight amount of makeup to accentuate her caramel- colored beauty. Looking at her, it was quite obvious where Joe got his good looks.
She rushed over to the side of the bed, took Joe in her arms and kissed him several times. “Baby, how are you?”
“Can’t you see the boy’s all right, Vivian?” Joe’s father spoke with irritation. He walked over and looked down at his son.
“Son.” That was it. He said no more. He had coldly recognized his son and nothing else needed to be said. His mother gave him a disgusted look, and then turned to Jessica and Matt.
“Hello, I’m Vivian Monroe, Joe’s mother,” she said politely as she extended her hand. “This jovial person is his father, Maxwell Monroe.” Mr. Maxwell let out a small grumbling sound.
“And you must be?” She questioned.
“Jessica Livingstone.” She extended her hand. Mrs. Monroe shook it, and then looked at Matt.
“Matthew Adams.” He shook her hand, and then extended it to Mr. Monroe. He just looked at it, refusing to shake Matt’s hand.
“Oh, you’re Matt!” Mrs. Monroe said excitedly. “Whenever Joe comes home, you’re all he ever talks about.” Mr. Monroe again made a grumbling sound, and then acted like he was clearing his throat.
“Mother!” Joe shouted. “I do not.”
“It is so nice to finally meet you.” She held out her arms and embraced Matt. Matt looked over at Joe and smiled.
“We really should go, Matt,” Jessica insisted. “You know hospital rules, only two visitors at a time.” She could sense the awkwardness with Mr. Monroe in the room, and she thought it was best if they left.
“It was nice meeting both of you.” She walked over to Joe and kissed his forehead. “We’ll come back tonight and visit.”
Matt held out his hand and shook Mrs. Monroe’s hand. After being rejected the first time, he didn’t offer his hand to Mr. Monroe.
“It was very nice to meet you two.” He walked over to Joe and squeezed his hand lightly. Turning around, he saw a disgusted look on Mr. Monroe’s face. “I’ll see you later,” he smiled. Joe looked up and returned his smile. Jessica and Matt then left the room.
“Well, your friend seems like a nice young man,” Joe’s mother exclaimed. “He’s very attractive.”
“Looks like a fag to me,” Mr. Monroe grumbled.
Joe shot his father an astonished look. “What did you just say?”
“Maxwell!” Mrs. Monroe shouted. “Not here!”
“Jesus, Viv.” Mr. Monroe responded, “Anyone looking at that boy can tell he’s one of them.”
“Dad, I won’t have you talking about my friend like that!” Joe was becoming furious with his bigoted father. He had listened to his homophobic bullshit for years. It was one of the reasons he had refused to deal with his own sexual conflicts. He knew his father would never have approved having a gay son.
“You sweet on that white boy?” he spat. “It just ain’t right. I’m a deacon in the church and the Bible says it ain’t right for a man to be with another man. Just ain’t right,” he huffed.
“Shut up, you old fool.” Mrs. Monroe interrupted the hostile exchange. The tension was becoming overwhelming. “Come on. Let’s go back to the hotel and rest. We had a long flight getting here and my feet are killing me.”
She walked over to Joe and gave him a gentle kiss. She then whispered in his ear, “Give him some time, Honey. He’ll come around eventually.”
Joe was stunned. Was she insinuating what he thought she might be? Did she realize that he might be in love with Matt?
She turned and gave Mr. Monroe a slight shove towards the door. “We’ll be back soon. You get your rest.” She gave him a quick wink, and they disappeared out the door.
Joe was left alone, trying to piece together all the events that had just occurred over the past hour.