Improvise, page 1
By Iyana Jenna
Published by JMS Books LLC
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Copyright 2018 Iyana Jenna
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Published in the United States of America.
* * * *
By Iyana Jenna
Tim Gregory sweeps his gaze across the audience. Not much use, to be honest, for it is all dark from the stage. All the lights are focused up here, even to the smallest colorful twinkling bulbs on the plastic leaves on cardboard trees. His eyes stray again and this time they catch the wrinkled frown on Danny’s bald forehead. Danny, their director for this production, never seems to have a good word to say to Tim, which is weird since Tim’s nights are always sold out. One of the most respected newspapers in the city once said he could play solo and the seats would still be sold out.
This is the point where his co-actor will slump down to the floor. Tim will run to catch him and take off his shirt to make a pillow to be laid under his injured partner’s head. Tim will be startled to find his partner no longer breathing, try to resuscitate him, fail miserably, and shower him with kisses as he mourns his partner’s death.
This will be the first gay character he has played. Two productions ago his producer thought he would be brilliant in such a role. Tim likes guys. He’s never had a long-term partner but wouldn’t say no if someone offered.
Another night ends with a standing ovation. Tim helps Sean, his dead partner, up, hugs him tight, and can’t stop himself from sniffing at Sean’s neck. Tim feels heady at the mixed scents of shaving cream, eau de cologne, and sweat. Since he began his on and off relationships with some actors, producers, and random guys he met at bars or gyms, Tim thinks he can get addicted to men and all the attributes that come with them.
Sean’s eyes are twinkling as they meet his, promising something dirty later that night. Tim laughs, throwing his head back. To the audience it might look as though they are celebrating their performance. Tim laughs harder before he lets Sean go with great reluctance and receives a bouquet of flowers from a representative of the theater before the curtains close off and he heads for his private dressing room. Someone is running to catch up with him, an assistant to the stage director.
“Mr. Gregory,” she calls, out of breath. “These two gentlemen want to talk to you.”
Tim looks over her shoulder. The two men trailing behind her are police detectives. Finally, Tim thinks.
“Thank you, Katie. I’ll take them to my dressing room.” To the men, Tim says, “This way, gentlemen. I’m so glad you came.”
One of the men, the taller one, raises an eyebrow. “Let me introduce myself. I’m Detective Dan Jacob.”
“And I’m Sullivan. Brent Sullivan.”
Tim shakes both men’s hands reluctantly and leads them to his room.
Tim pushes open the last door down the backstage hall, the one with Tim Gregory written across it and flinches, somewhat embarrassed, even though he is not the one who caused the mess in the room—costumes pulled out of the drawers, bottles of makeup scattered on the floor, powder spilled over the table, and brushes and combs scattered to the corners of the room. Tim doesn’t allow anyone to clean the place. He wants to show the police exactly what damage the people who broke into his dressing room have caused. He was pissed when the police didn’t respond when he called, but at least now they sent their men, although they are two days late.
“See? What do you think? Who would have done this? Outsiders or someone from the production?”
The shorter, older detective purses his lips and glances at the other one. He clears his throat. “Mr. Gregory.”
Tim looks at him expectantly.
“We are here to ask you some questions.”
Tim feels something is wrong, and frowns. “You’re going to ask me some questions? I filed a report a couple of days ago and now you come to question me?”
The younger man raises his hand. “Did you report a theft?”
Tim narrows his eyes. “No, I didn’t. I didn’t think I lost anything. But how can I be sure, right?” He waves his arms around. “Look at this mess. I found my place like this two days ago and I thought—I thought you came to investigate that. I never thought it was to arrest me.”
“No one’s going to arrest you,” the older man interrupts him. “Look, what we are here for might relate to this breaking and entering. Why don’t we all sit down and talk?”
“Will I need a lawyer? Am I in trouble?”
“Do you have reasons to be?”
Tim glares at the taller man. “If this is about my father—”
“Pretty much, yes.” The older of them nods to the chairs in the room. “Can we?” Tim just nods.
“So,” Sullivan begins. “Your father got ten years in prison, is that correct?”
“With no evidence to show that he was involved in the robbery.” Tim doesn’t like his father, but to strangers like these two goons he will always stand up for him.
“But, Mr. Gregory,” says Jacob. “You know your father was positively identified in court. The camera outside the museum caught his face when he took off his mask. It is pointless to deny.”
Tim can see that the detective is annoyed. Well, he is annoyed, too.
“I’ll say what I want to say. If you gentlemen have nothing more to do than rehashing that old story, the door is over there.” He jerks back when Jacob suddenly wrenches the front of his shirt.
“Look, you worthless little rat. You queer, sissy actors are no better than your father the robber. You will talk or your father’s not going to last long in that cramped cell of his. He’s going to have a taste of what his kid usually does for kicks every night.”
Tim chokes as Jacob’s fists press into his throat. His eyes begin to water and his lungs cry for fresh air, but there’s no sign that Jacob will let him go soon. Vaguely he hears Sullivan say, “Dan, that’s enough.” Tim’s head is swimming when finally, Jacob yanks him free, throwing him back into the chair. Tim coughs weakly, fixing his shirt. He hates to see his hands are shaking. He warily glances up at the detectives.
“You okay?” It comes from Sullivan.
“How can I be? Your partner just attacked me.” There is a bite in his words but the quiver in his voice shows his insecurity. Tim almost feels like pressing himself small into a corner. “W-what do you want from me?” he stammers, avoiding looking at Jacob.
Tim still only looks at Sullivan. “Like I said when I testified, I hardly know anything about my father. I left
“He didn’t tell you about the robbery and all the stuff he stole?” asks Sullivan.
“Are you kidding me? I wouldn’t have known that he got arrested if not for those cops suddenly breaking into the theater and taking me in.” It still traumatizes him even now, every time he remembers the moment police officers came and brought him to their station, suspecting that he was also involved in the robbery. Later, with a full audience as his alibi, the police still insisted on holding him in for further questioning.
It seems like what happened then was not enough. They came again with the same questions and just now Detective Jacob was willing to rough him up just so he would cooperate. What’s wrong with these men all wanting to harass him, Tim thinks. What is wrong with him?
“Look, we did get all the stolen pieces back, all but one.”
“I’m saying that there’s an item that’s still missing. It’s a necklace with too many sapphire stones to count and sprinkles of diamonds set around each of them. It’s an old one. It dates back to the Russian Monarchy from the 1700’s.”
Tim takes a deep breath. He knows where the conversation is going.
“So you’re accusing me of getting the necklace from my dad and keeping it for him.”
“Did you?” Jacob asks. Tim doesn’t acknowledge him. “Hey, I’m asking you.”
“And I’m not answering.”
Tim yells as Jacob clamps his fingers around Tim’s upper arm.
“Get away from me.” He twists free from Jacob’s clutches and springs from his seat. “You lay your hands on me one more time, I’ll call security and you’ll never get into this building again.” The moment the words leave his mouth, Tim realizes how ridiculous it sounds. They can easily come back with a warrant.
Once more Sullivan attempts to keep the peace.
“It won’t happen again. I can come back without Dan if I have to,” says Sullivan but it’s clear that Jacob doesn’t like it.
“You’re not coming back at all, either of you. Let me tell you now—I know nothing about the frigging necklace. My father never gave it to me. He never contacted me about it. Hell, we hadn’t even talked to each other until I was forced to be a witness at his trial. Now get the hell out of here.”
One could have heard a pin drop during the seconds that follow. Then Sullivan speaks quietly, “It’s possible that we’re not the only ones thinking that are you keeping the necklace.” He nods at Tim’s room. “What if it’s your father’s buddies who did all of this? You know we only managed to get your father. His friends are still at large. I admire your dad’s loyalty to his friends but that’s not what they want. They need money and the necklace is their only chance to get a decent amount out of it. What if they decide that turning your place upside down isn’t enough and come to get you instead? They won’t be as polite as my friend and I when trying to make you to talk.”
Tim is stunned into silence by Sullivan’s long and composed speech, and the detective doesn’t look even slightly flustered. When Sullivan hands him something, Tim can only take it wordlessly.
“Here’s my card. Call me if you decide you know anything.” Sullivan turns and walks out of the room, followed by Detective Jacob.
Tim huffs, throws himself back into an armchair, and buries his face in his hands.
* * * *
Tim spreads out on his back in his bed with his legs open and up, pressed to his chest, and his eyes are shut. No words come out of his mouth, only some sounds low in his throat, short grunts and gasps, as Sean slides in and out of him, taking his sweet time, fucking him slowly. Sean doesn’t usually top. With a figure much smaller than Tim he is a natural bottom but on a few occasions Tim lets Sean screw him. The boy is wicked. His caramel-colored eyes might look soft and are always smiling but they can glint with meanness and mischief as the owner pins both Tim’s wrists above his head. Tim loves it. Perhaps he is much more a bottom than he thinks.
Sean came to get him in the dressing room after the detectives left. He almost blew up to find Tim in his pitiful state, curled up dejectedly. He was that close to running out to have a go at those detectives after Tim gave him an abridged version of what had happened to him, but Tim had stopped him.
“Just take me home,” Tim had whispered. He barely had enough energy to do much else.
Hence he is the one having his brains screwed out. He wants to forget everything.
A sated Sean is always demanding. Perhaps his pumping adrenaline is still so high in his system that he needs something else to do to let go. Perhaps this is also why Tim doesn’t let him top too often.
“What did the cops do to you?” Sean asks.
“Come on, Sean,” Tim whines as the man falls sprawling next to him, pulling up the blanket over their damp bodies. “I’d rather not talk about it.”
“Oh no, you don’t get out of it like that. We have to think about what to do. Those cops will certainly come again, or those thugs, looking for the necklace.”
“There is no we,” Tim replies drowsily. “It’s my problem. I’m not going to get you into this, putting you in danger.”
“You are in danger, Tim.” Sean’s eyes bulge out and in a contorted view in Tim’s half-asleep state, they look weird and hilarious, yet still beautiful. Tim wraps an arm around Sean’s bare shoulder.
“I’ll play it safe,” he murmurs into Sean’s neck. As safe as he can manage, he hopes. He has planned to go visit his dad in the state correctional facility and he now wonders if that is the right thing to do. One thing for sure, he’s not going to tell Sean about that.
* * * *
Tim feels like he is looking at his own, aged reflection in the mirror. His dad was very young when his wife had Tim. He is not even fifty yet, and everyone agrees he has aged well. Tim has his dad’s eyes and lips. Still, Tim won’t willingly stay in a room alone with his father. Looking at him from across a glass panel like this manages to make Tim wary.
“My son.” Paul smiles predatorily. “You really know how to make an old man happy. I’ve missed you, boy. What brings you to this lonely corner of the world?”
Tim has only come to get some answers, nothing else. He certainly doesn’t plan to indulge in small talk. “Dad, you lied to everybody. Why?”
Paul keeps beaming. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Cut it out, will you? There are men messing things up at my place and cops on my tail. Tell me, what did you hide, and where is it?”
Paul’s face hardens, his fingers tightening on the handset. He leans forward, almost pressing his nose at the glass panel. Tim resists the urge to pull back.
“What did you tell them?” Paul hisses, and glances back at a guard standing with a bored face.
“Nothing! I had no idea what they were talking about, or what your friends were looking for. Tell them to stay away from me. You are—I don’t want to have anything to do with you.”
As if not hearing Tim’s words, Paul grits his teeth. “The necklace is mine. I just need you to keep it save for me.”
“Fuck you and your necklace. I don’t even know where it is.”
“Keep your voice down, damn it.” Paul’s face shows puzzlement. He hisses, “What do you mean you don’t know? My lawyer gave it to you on the second day of the trial.”
“I don’t, okay? Do I need to spell it out to you? I never received anything from your lawyer.” Then Tim sneers. “So it must be with your lawyer. Now you tell your frie
“They’re not my friends, leaving me to rot here all by myself. By the way, my lawyer couldn’t have had it. I put it in a thick sealed envelope in the save and told my lawyer to give it to you. I saw when he gave it—Wait.” He frowns. “That’s right. He didn’t give it to you.”
“He put it in your backpack, Tim. I guess you didn’t know.”
“I didn’t,” says Tim quietly. He finally figured it out. His father’s eyes pierce into him and Tim looks away, putting the handset back over the hook, grabs his bag, and rises to his feet. He nearly jumps out of his skin when his father slams at the glass window. He can’t hear, but Paul is calling out his name. Tim ignores him. He has to get away from this place. He feels suffocated in here.
Tim glances back as he leaves the place, double takes, and freezes for a second. He might be mistaking, but he swears he saw something in the guard’s stare. Almost like he has some hidden agenda. Tim suppresses a shudder and hurries outside.
* * * *
The first thing Tim sees as he gets to the parking lot, is a tall figure standing next to a 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle. Tim belatedly recognizes Detective Sullivan as his mind does a somersault over the fact that—since when do detectives ride a muscle car? Tim dreams of owning one. His daydream falls apart as soon as the man start speaking.
“Mr. Gregory.” Sullivan nods slightly by way of greeting.
“You’re following me,” Tim says flatly.
“It’s my job. I need to get answers from you.”
“You didn’t believe me when I said I knew nothing.”
Sullivan squints up at the tall building behind Tim. “Maybe now I do, considering you might’ve come here to get some answers yourself. It’s your obligation now to tell me.”
“I’m not obliged to do anything.” Tim starts heading toward his own car.
“Well, I just have to bring you in for questioning then.”
“I didn’t do anything wrong. Don’t you have to have a warrant?”