Monday, August 1, 2011

Deadly Slumber excerpt by Victor J Banis

In this excerpt from Victor J Banis' Deadly Slumber, #4 in the Deadly Mysteries series, Bartholomew's, the House of the Dead, is a mortuary whose directors are drop dead gorgeous and terminally horny. And one of them is up to mischief. Stanley and Tom try to separate the naturally dead from the murdered dead and find themselves awash with coffins - until they come to the one Stanley's name on it. Deadly Slumber indeed.

Stanley, on the job, invites a handsome young intern in for a glass of wine…

Deadly Slumber
MLR Press (August 18, 2009)
ISBN: 1608200906


Stanley laughed and poured two glasses of wine. He gave one to David, and motioned to the two chairs by the fireplace. The old leather creaked when they sat. "Tell me," Stanley said when they were seated, "what's it like, actually living here at Bartholomew's. You've been here, what did you tell me, three weeks?"

"Nearly that." David took a sip of wine, contemplated the question for a moment. "It's strange. I knew when I decided on mortuary science that Bartholomew's was where I wanted to be. But, when I got the internship, and actually moved in—well, it isn't quite what I thought it would be."

"In what way?"

"I'd heard it was a friendly place." He grinned. "I mean, very friendly, if you follow me."

"The sex."

"Yes. I knew someone who interned here a while back. He said the dorm was buzzing all the time, musical beds."

"And it's not like that?"

"Well, I wouldn't say it was a nunnery, exactly. There's stuff goes on, there's a couple of the interns who keep things interesting…"

"Cody and Greg."

"Yes. Although at the moment, they're pretty wrapped up in one another. It's just, the whole atmosphere, it's a lot more subdued than what I'd been led to believe."

"What about the directors?"

David gave him a wary look, thinking of Vincent downstairs, and the almost-pass he hadn't made. "I wouldn't know about that."

"Surely you're not going to tell me it never crossed your mind. Some of them are awfully good looking."

"Some of them? Jesus, they're all to die for, if you ask me."

"And you've never done anything about it?

The fake log in the fireplace popped, making David start. He was tenser, Stanley realized, than he showed. He sat for a minute staring at the flames. When he spoke, he did not look at Stanley.

"One of them called me 'the pretty Jew boy.'"

"One of the directors?"

David nodded. "I wasn't supposed to hear him, of course."

"Or maybe you were."

David did look at him then. "I hadn't thought of that, but, yes, maybe. Whatever. I don't think he meant it as a compliment. Oh, that's not it, though, that's not what turned me off, not really. I've heard stuff like that before. I guess every Jew does at some time or other. The funny thing is, I'm not much of a Jew. And, as far as the sex part, like I said, there's others, if I really wanted something…but, you know, oddly, it's not as much a turn on as you might think. All these gorgeous guys here. They're…I guess this is going to sound weird, but, I mean, it's like, going to a buffet expecting a nice hearty meal, and the table's got nothing on it but a tray of sweet desserts. Lovely to look at, delicious to taste, but not the kind of thing that leaves you satisfied." He gave Stanley a mischievous grin. "If you want to know the truth, now, that partner of yours…what a brute. I'd make a meal of him in a minute."

Stanley smiled back. "Sorry, the brute is taken, for a long time. A lifetime, I’m thinking. At least, that's what I'm hoping."

"It must be great, finding someone special like that. The right one. Love at first sight, I'll bet, wasn't it?"

"No, I wouldn't say that. Not exactly." He thought for a minute. "Or, maybe it was, but it took a long time for us to get it. I guess in some ways we're still getting it. To be honest, it isn't what I thought it would be like. I was looking for a man, when I should have been looking for the man. If you follow me."

David gave that a moment's thought. "I think so."

"Oh, you will, when the time comes." Stanley sighed. "So, back to Bartholomew's - what it comes down to is, when you say you're disappointed in Bartholomew's, what you're really saying is, the sex doesn't live up to your expectations?"

David exhaled loudly. "No, that's putting it a little too bluntly. I mean, yes, I found that a little disappointing, but, there's more…it's hard to put my finger on it. Maybe it's knowing where you are. We used to call this place The House of the Dead, my sister and I, growing up on Dorland Street. I didn't think that would bother me, and it doesn't really, not working with dead people. But, I lie awake at night. Everything is so insulated, and so sound and light proofed. The darkness, the silence. It might almost be a tomb. Sometimes it really does feel as if I'm already dead. Like, I'm drifting away from the world of the living, sort of."

He'd been speaking distantly, as if thinking aloud, but he blinked now and focused his eyes on Stanley. "Fanciful, I know. And probably, too, it had something to do with that first day, when I came to interview. I was with Mister Cyril when we discovered the body, old Mister Percy's body. You knew about that, of course?"

"Suicide, the police say."

"Yes. I suppose they're right. I thought that too, at first, but…" He shrugged. "Oh, I don't know, something about it didn't feel right, if you know what I mean. It was so, staged, I guess, is what I want to say. Somehow it reminded me of the high school play I was in, Murder Most Foul."

"In what way?"

"That's the funny thing. I don't know. It was just a feeling I got, but there was nothing I could put my finger on." He finished the wine and stood up, setting the glass aside. "Definitely better than Mogen David." He stretched his arms over his head. His tee shirt rode up, giving Stanley a view of a washboard abdomen, an innie winking at him provocatively.

"Crap, maybe I'm just feeling sorry for myself" he said, "I mean, the guys not climbing all over me the way I expected. The old bruised ego. And probably some of it really does have to do with my being a Jew. I guess that turns some of them off." He scratched at his belly, his fingers slipping under the waist band of his trousers. Stanley's eyes followed them closely, but they reemerged after just a second or two. "Not a very good Jew, I confess. I haven't been to shul in two, three years. Temple," he added, in case Stanley didn't know the less familiar word.

He said it with such diffidence, Stanley thought he could more than likely give you the hours and minutes since he'd last been to temple, shul, if he chose. "Does that matter?"

David looked surprised and then thoughtful. "To my parents, it does. They're old school. Reform, but old school nevertheless."

Still seated, looking up at him, Stanley found himself seriously doubting whether the inmates at Bartholomew's would decline an opportunity to make whoopee with this handsome young demi-god for no reason but his Jewish inheritance. His undisciplined curls, raven black, spilled over his brow, nearly to his eyes, shockingly ice-blue; his oversized mouth was voluptuously shaped, and his skin had the sheen and the color of his Mediterranean roots; and, of course, beyond all that, he had the most excellent of cosmetics, his youth.

Pretty Jew boy indeed. Stanley felt an almost overwhelming urge to lean forward and put a hand on that nicely padded crotch. Only, he had the disconcerting feeling David would probably think of him as a dirty old man.

"I guess I'd better head to bed," David said. "I've got early shift tomorrow." He paused for a moment. "You know, when I think about it, about Bartholomew's. It isn't the sex thing that bothers me, honestly. It's just there's something here, I can't explain it and I don't know exactly what to call it, but it's like something festering, under the surface. Like a stink you can't quite smell but it irritates your nose just the same. Does that make any sense?"

Stanley grinned up at him. "You know, I think you may be more Jewish than you realize."

David looked genuinely puzzled. "Really? What makes you say that?"

"Oh, that's a Jewish kind of thinking, isn't it? Most young men would help themselves to the dessert tray and fret not at all over the rest of it."

David thought about that. "My mother," he said with a wry grin. "She's always looking for the worm in the apple, as she puts it. I suppose she's infected me."

"Mothers do." Stanley thought fleetingly of his own mother, who'd scarcely seemed aware, most of the time when he was growing up, that he was alive. Had her disinterest infected him, the way another mother's love might? The absence of love could be as powerful an influence as its presence, it seemed to him.

Despite the fact that he had been grumbling about her, David's affection for his mother shone through. And though he had never met her, her affection for her son was evident to Stanley, too. The realization made him feel oddly empty.

David yawned and stretched again. The belly button winked conspiratorially at Stanley. David gave Stanley an uncertain look. "Why are you looking at me like that? All funny like. Did I say something dumb?"

"I was just thinking about accidents," Stanley said, wondering that anyone so beautiful could possibly be so naïve. He was struck, not for the first time, by the discrepancy between reality and how people saw themselves.

Or, maybe he, Stanley, really was too old to seriously register with the young man as a possible sexual outlet.

Which was not the happiest of thoughts. He set his own wine glass aside and said quickly, abruptly, "Good night, David."

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C. Zampa said...

Oh, damn. Good excerpt...but...but...I've got to read no. 3 first, to see if Tom died. Then I can decide if I approve of Stanley eyeing this man's crotch. LOL...

Wonderful excerpt, as always, Victor. Hooked me. Again.

Jardonn Smith said...

"I was looking for a man, when I should have been looking for the man."

Tons of meaning stuffed into a tiny package of words, typical Victor.