Authors: V. J. Banis
Tags: #gay, #camp, #parody, #man from U.N.C.L.E., #humor
Suppressing his disappointment, Jackie pulled his eyes away from the enchanting vista, and began to undress. The body that was gradually exposed to the moonlight was a paradox, as Jackie himself was in many ways. Like Honey, Jackie was sometimes effeminate to the extreme. In Jackie's case, however, this was only another of the roles that he assumed when it was convenient for his workâan effeminate homosexual was less likely to be suspected of being an agent, and was not so feared. When it was necessary, however, Jackie could quickly discard all such mannerisms, and could appear as masculine as anyone. With him, it was a matter of conscious choice.
His appearance was equally deceptive. He was small and slender, and the casual observer would no doubt regard him as weak and helpless. In fact, Jackie was far from either condition. His limbs, although small, were molded of sheer, rocklike muscle. Combined with a strength that could almost be described as superhuman, was a speed and agility that never failed to confound his enemies. He could move like greased lighteningâhe had run the mile in just about half of the world's record, and that with no effort. There were few if any sports in which he did not excel. Superfag, he had once been described by one of his associates, and indeed the name was not far from the truth.
Naked, he stretched lazily before dropping to the floor and rapidly executing a few hundred pushups, alternating from one hand to the other. It was a policy that he never failed to exercise at least slightly each day, to insure that he would stay in top-notch condition. In his business, being out of condition could mean going out of business, the hard way.
Finally, with a last wistful glance at Honey's briefs, he crawled into bed and stretched out on his back, staring up at the flower-print canopy above as he thought over the day's events, and considered the question of his return to Los Angeles. There was not much he could accomplish here, and by all rights he should be on his way back. On the other hand, it had been a while since he allowed himself a day off. He had checked for messages while at the C.A.M.P. office earlier, and learned from Rich that things were quiet on the West Coast. And Rich knew where to get in touch with him if anything came up.
His thoughts changed directions quite suddenly. A second later, all thought of Rich, the West Coast, or C.A.M.P., were completely gone from his mind, and he was aware of only one thing...the warm, strong, very-much-awake hand that had slid across his stomach and taken firm hold of him.
Never unprepared, his flesh responded instantly and totally, rising to the occasion admirably. Beside him on the bed, Jackie heard Honey giggle delightedly at the instant results.
“I thought you were asleep,” Jackie whispered, rolling over on his side and reaching for his companion.
“I was,” Honey said, coming into Jackie's arms without hesitation. “But a man's body will wake me up every time. My one nostril twitches whenever one gets within two feet of me.”
“What a crazy burglar alarm,” Jackie decided. He was prevented from making further comment by the ripe fullness of Honey's mouth glued hotly to his. Honey, he decided at once, was a honeyâsweet and smooth, brewed from the loveliest and most fragrant of blossoms. He kicked himself mentally as he thought how available Honey had been to him all along, and he had never done anything about it before.
“You know,” he whispered, nibbling Honey's ear. “When I saw you five years ago, you were only fifteen, and a gangly, bad-complexioned brat.”
“You should know better than to judge a fruit before it's ripe,” Honey told him.
Jackie's hand had invaded the rear area of those briefs. They were silk, all right, and they very quickly allowed him access to the warm, sweet flesh beneath. This was one fruit, Jackie told himself happily, that was now plenty ripe.
“If you don't take those damned things off me,” Honey said. “They're going to be ripped in two soon.”
Jackie allowed himself to feel in front. It was true, the briefs were certainly being stretched beyond their reasonable capacity. Always sympathetic, Jackie chose to alleviate the sufferings of the fabric. He clasped the elastic in his fingers and slid it downward, over the hips that Honey lifted to make the task easier. Jackie's mouth was following the fabric, although when he reached the open plains of Honey's flat abdomen, his mouth fell behind.
He inched his way slowly downward, an ocean of soft, curly hair tickling his nose, and finally he collided with Honey's answer to the Washington Monument. In the dark, it didn't seem much different from the original, and skilled though he was in such matters, Jackie doubted he would be able to manage it all. Still, he could think of nothing more delightful than making the attempt.
Stiff problem that it was, Jackie made a determined effort to absorb it deeply, with a degree of success that promised him real fulfillment in the not too distant future. For the moment, however, he wanted to taste all of the rich harvest before him. He explored to the very root of the subject and then beyond, the path lying open to him. He reached his goal, and lingered there to make a penetrating analysis before Honey's squirming and moaning warned him that he best not delay.
In a twinkling, Jackie was back to his original location, and with no regrets at having been summoned there. He had always disliked catching cold, but he never complained about having something in his throat. Nor did he mind in the least when Honey decided to occupy himself. They held tightly to one another, their bodies moving in see-saw fashion, and Jackie could only be grateful that he did not have to dine alone.
It was short and frantic. Honey's mouth and tongue were as skilled as his anatomy was satisfying. Jackie soared upward into the heavens and, as he exploded in his delight, it felt as though the top were being blown off his head.
He was aware of the fact that Honey was right there with him, joining him flood for floodâbut most important, or at least most prominent in Jackie's consciousness, was the realization that he had, at the very last, surmounted Everest, so to speak. Except that, where mountain climbers crowed about reaching the top, Jackie was as proud as any of them to have reached the bottom. In the morning, he would probably be sore, but for the moment he felt mighty like the canary that had claimed the cat. Furthermore, he had answered his own questions about returning to Los Angeles, or remaining here for a few days. He planned on a great deal of visiting before going.
It was late morning by the time Jackie awoke. He opened his eyes to see that he had not been dreaming the night before after all, as he had momentarily supposed. There, only inches from his face, was the same pulsing source of delight that had provided him such pleasure. Jackie stared at it briefly, managing to raise his ey
es only wi
th some effort. Honey was awake, and grinning down at him.
“Just saving breakfast for you,” Honey announced, edging closer.
There was nothing Jackie liked better than breakfast in bed. As a result, it was nearly noon by the time he and Honey ventured downstairs. Aunt Lily greeted them pleasantly, and insisted on bringing fresh coffee into the breakfast room for them, and even joining them.
“I've been doing a lot of thinking,” she said as she seated herself between the two young men. “I mean, it's been so exciting being involved in international espionageâjust like in a James Bond thriller, don't you see.”
“Well, Aunt Lily,” Jackie said, smiling tolerantly at her over his coffee cup. “I'm afraid it never comes out quite as simple as in those books. It's actually a very difficult and dangerous business.”
“I know, but it's exciting. Anyway, I've been wondering why we couldn't do more of the same. Not you, of course, I know you're already involved in the field, and I wouldn't dream of crowding in your territory. But it looks to me like there's spying enough to go around. And I think this household needs some activity, something to spice up our lives a little.”
“I think you're right,” Honey agreed, to Jackie's further concern. “Things do get awfully dull around here. But let us get one coded message, and already we've had two gorgeous agents hanging around the place.”
“Thanks for the two compliments,” Jackie said with a grin.
“That I'm gorgeous, and that I'm here.”
“Now, boys,” Aunt Lily interrupted. “Don't try to get me off the subject. I've already spoken to Nasturtia, and Mari, and even Gladiola, and they all think it's a nice idea. So we've decided to have a secret meeting, tonight at midnight.”
“A secret meeting? And at midnight?” Jackie was scarcely able to conceal his amusement. “Why all the mystery?”
“Because I've read all those books, and I know that's the way things are done. Now don't you worry, I'll take care of all the details. Of course, you wouldn't really have to come, Jackie, but we'd like you there anyway, just to see for yourself how us amateurs can do.”
“I'd be delighted,” Jackie assured her. “Where do I go?”
“The basement, in the furnace room,” Aunt Lily told him. “At the stroke of twelve. And be careful you're not being followed.”
* * * *
It was shortly before the stroke of twelve that Honey woke Jackie from his sleep. Jackie had, in fact, been asleep only a short while, although he and Honey had come to bed about nine in the evening. There had been more interesting things to attend to, however, than sleep.
“You mean the meeting is still on,” Jackie asked drowsily, reaching for a pair of trousers. “I thought everyone would have forgotten about it by now.”
“I think it's very exciting,” Honey informed him. “Just think, we may be a big thing internationally.”
“I don't think the world is ready for you,” Jackie said frankly, but he softened the remark with a grin and a playful grab at Honey's legs.
* * * *
Surprisingly enough, the others were thereâall except Nasturtia. Mari was sent for her, and returned in a few minutes to announce that Aunt Nasturtia was on her way.
“She'd forgotten about it,” Mari explained, “Thought it was tomorrow night anyway.”
While they waited, Jackie glanced about the dimly-lighted room. The windows high up on the walls had been covered with burlap, and Aunt Lily had placed candles about with eerie results.
“What is that?” Jackie asked, pointed to the one wall. The faded portrait could not have looked more out of place, but even more preposterous was the fact that a hole had been cut in the old gentleman's chest, and through it protruded the lens of an antiquated camera.
“A hidden camera,” Aunt Lily explained in a very matter-of-fact tone. Jackie did not pursue the subject further.
Aunt Nasturtia arrived soon, and the meeting was ready to begin. Jackie toyed with Honey's sizable charms as he listened to Aunt Lily's opening remarks. The excitement of spying was discussed, and it was agreed that all had enjoyed their brief episode, and would enjoy more such sport. Jackie did not have the heart to tell them that it wasn't all such fun. In any event, he was convinced that merely contemplating spying would keep them happily occupied for a few days.
“Now,” Aunt Lily was saying, obviously enjoying her role as ringleader. “I've chosen a name for our organization. We're going to call ourselves WATERCRESS.”
“WATERCRESS?” Honey repeated.
“I think it's charming,” Nasturtia offered.
“What does it mean?” Mari wanted to know.
“Women Acting Together, Enlightened, Righteous, Courageous, Responsible, Enterprising, Strong, and Sensible.”
“But that's silly,” Honey protested with a pout. “You didn't say anything about me. I'm not a woman.”
Mari giggled, but Aunt Lily silenced her with a frown. “Well, darling, can't you see, we can't very well spell WATERCRESS with an M-it wouldn't come out right. You'll just have to be sort of a silent
“I still don't like it,” Honey grumbled.
“I think it's cute,” Mari decided. Jackie avoided making any comment. After all, it wasn't his party.
“Besides,” Aunt Lily went on. “We'll make it up to you by giving you one of the more important roles in the organization. We're going to make you our signal man.”
“The man who gives signals, of course. Every secret organization has to have a communication system of some kind, and a code, just like Butterfly. Well, ours is going to be music.”
“Music?” Honey sounded dubious, but somewhat more interested.
“Of course. Well have various pieces of music which each have a specific meaning. When you want to give us a message, you just play the âMoonlight Sonata' to tell us of danger.”
“I only know the first movement,” Honey reminded her.
“I'm sure that's all we'd need,” Aunt Lily insisted. “By the time you get that played, we should have gotten the message.”
“But that's the only piece I know.”
“Well, then, you'll just have to learn some new ones, and inform us of what each one means.”
Honey seemed pacified by that explanation, and lapsed into thoughtful silence, not even noticing Jackie's hand which was still busy on Honey's lap.
The rest of the meeting was free of much argument, although this may have been accounted for in part by the fact that Nasturtia and Gladiola were both asleep
by now. Aunt Lily herself would assume the responsibility of finding an outlet for their services.
She shot Jackie a hopeful glance, but he shook his head. He did not think C.A.M.P. would particularly welcome the efforts of WATERCRESS as a partner. He could hardly wait, however, to see Craig Mathews' reaction to the news. And at the thought of the handsome Irishman, Jackie felt a quickening of his pulse. He began to wish for Aunt Lily to cut her explanation short. Of a sudden, he was in a hurry to get back to bed, although he was not in the least sleepy.
* * * *
Late in the morning, Jackie paid a visit to the C.I.A. His excuse was a curiosity regarding any subsequent developments, although his real purpose was merely to see Craig again. Regrettably, Craig was out. Eventually he was greeted by a rather flirtatious Miss Temple, who proved to be the secretary of the C.I.A. chief himself.
Miss Temple, one of the antiseptically pretty breed of women who somehow manage to find themselves in the government service, was more than a little interested in Jackie, which he found peculiar. She certainly would know who he was, that he worked for a homosexual organization and was presumably himself homosexual.
But then, he reminded himself wearily, many women liked thatâthey seemed to regard it as a challenge, and fed their egos with the satisfaction of diverting a boy's interest from males to themselves. In this case, however, she was wasting her time. Jackie had been normal far too long to become interested in the opposite sex now. He left a message for Craig, which he doubted would be delivered, and prepared to leave.
“If you happen to be watching television this afternoon, you'll see Craig, and me also,” Miss Temple offered as Jackie reached the door.
He paused briefly. “Not a quiz show, I hope.”
Miss Temple laughed, a terribly phony sound. “Oh no, just an appearance by our boss. I'll be with him at the luncheon. I'm afraid Craig will be harder to spot, since he'll be mingling unostentatiously in the crowd, but if you look you should be able to spot him.”
Jackie thanked her and left.
* * * *
He arrived back at Aunt Lily's house to find that her day had been no more productive than his. She had attempted to call both the U.S. State Department, and the Russian Embassy, with absolutely no success at either address.
“They wouldn't even talk to me,” Aunt Lily snorted angrily. “Not even when I explained that we were spies, and looking for work. I even asked at the Russian Embassy if we couldn't buy some little piece of information, just to get ourselves started.”
Jackie smiled and offered her consolation. Finally he made his way upstairs to Honey's room. Enjoyable though his visit was, he knew that he would soon have to be returning to Los Angeles. Rich had kindly not contacted him with any assignments, but he knew that merely meant his partner was burdening himself with extra work. He would have liked to become better acquainted with Craig, of course, but that seemed an unlikely possibility. In the long run, it would probably be wiser if he began his packing and made ready to depart.
His efforts were interrupted, however, by Aunt Nasturtia's appearance in the room. She burst in without knocking, a fact in itself unusual.
“You've got to come down and look at the television,” she sputtered, tugging at his arm wildly. “Come quickly, oh, please.”
“The television?” Jackie was bewildered by her actions, but he allowed himself to be piloted down the stairs toward the den, where the older model television set was kept, hidden from the sight of guests.
As he entered the room and saw the luncheon scene on view, he remembered Miss Temple's remarks at the C.I.A. offices earlier.
“Oh, yes,” he said aloud, a little annoyed that Aunt Nasturtia should have made such a big thing out of Craig's appearance on television. “Craig is on this afternoon.”
“No, not him,” Aunt Nasturtia was saying, pointing hysterically at the screen. Aunt Lily was there too, and she seemed every bit as excited. “The woman!”
“The woman?” The only woman on the screen at the moment was Miss Temple herself, seated dutifully at the side of her boss.
“That's her,” Aunt Nasturtia explained in an excited voice. “That's the woman with the other white poodle!”
Jackie suddenly understood the reason for all the excitement. “You mean the one at the poodle parlor, the one whose dog they got mixed up with Fritz?”
“That's her, I'm positive.”
Jackie stared dumfounded at Miss Temple's bland face on the screen. If Aunt Nasturtia was correct in her identification...and if the note they had intercepted had really been intended for the other white poodle...then Miss Temple was an agent for Butterfly! It was incredible, the secretary to the chief of the C.I.A.âand yet, it was possible.
“Whew,” he gasped, seating himself. “This could be something really big. I have a feeling I'd better get in touch with Craig, and right away.”
“Jackie, dear.” It was Aunt Lily who delayed him, tugging at his sleeve gently but firmly. “There's just one thing. It is our discovery, you remember.”
Jackie nodded reluctantly, already suspecting what was coming next, and not knowing how to prevent it.
“Well then, I want you to promise us that WATERCRESS will be in on the case.”
“Aunt Lily, I can't promise anything like that. For one thing, it isn't even my case. It's a C.I.A. matter, and they might not even want me butting in.”
“Well then, promise me you'll at least ask that nice young man, Mr. Mathews. If you ask him, I'm sure he'll let us help. That's all we want to do, really. We have no intention of taking his job away from him.”
Jackie sighed. “I'll try, Aunt Lily. But be prepared, if you do get to help, to find that it may be very dull and very routine work. You'll be acting as flunkies, if anything.”
“Oh, we'll be thrilled to do anything at all,” Aunt Lily promised him, all smiles and happiness again.