The Stuff That Dreams are Made Of
Fandom: The Maltese Falcon
Pairing: Sam Spade/Miles Archer, Sam Spade/Wilmer Cook
Not mine, never were, never will be. They belong to
Dash Hammett and John Huston and the fantastic Humphrey Bogart.
Summary: How Sam wound up with that bird in his hand and a
faraway look in his eyes.
Warning: m/m, language, spoilers for the movie
Note: If you read the book or saw the movie, you know what the
story is; I have no idea what Iva's maiden name was, but
Masterson sounded good. Major thanks to Gail for her invaluable
help. And this one's for Silk, because of what's going on at that
The Stuff Dreams are Made of
It wouldn’t have happened, none of it, if Miles Archer, my partner, could have kept his dick in his pants.
He was mine, before he ever met Iva Masterson. I loved him, worked with him.
Played the sap for him.
He met Iva while I was tied up down at City Hall, wrangling with the assistant DA, trying to pull his chestnuts out of the fire.
And he was out fucking some bleached blond bimbo.
How long had that been going on?
I got back to the office, exhausted and barely able to set one foot in front of the other. Effie Perine, our secretary, cast me a pitying look before turning studiously back to her typewriter.
I was too tired for our normal banter. I just crossed the floor to the door to our office, the one that said Spade and Archer. Private.
Miles was already at his desk, his feet propped on a corner, lounging in his chair. “How’d it go, Sammy?”
He knew I hated when he called me that. And he always called me that when he was up to something.
I ran a hand over my face, deciding I’d better shave soon. All I wanted was to take him to my bed and wipe out the past few hours with some hot, sweaty sex. But I didn’t want to leave whisker burn all over his fair skin.
“I got him off our backs. He threatened us with having our licenses revoked.”
“*Again*?” Miles laughed, the corners of his eyes crinkling. “Good-for-nothing cocksucker!” Why was he in such a good mood?
That’s when I heard the titter. And saw the blonde sitting casually in my chair.
“A client, Miles?” I asked shortly.
He got to his feet. He was about six foot two, and he dwarfed my average height. Somehow that never mattered when we were in bed together.
“Iva, this is Sam Spade, my…partner.” She wore this little polka dot dress with tiny cap sleeves, and his fingers were around her arm, assisting her to her feet, caressing the soft skin above her elbow.
I was too stupid with fatigue to try to decipher his moves.
“Sam, this is Iva Masterson. Soon to be Iva Archer!”
Well. Fuck me!
What does a guy do when his lover, his same sex lover, tells him he’s marrying a member of the opposite sex?
I walked around to the other side of my desk, pulled out the little pouch I kept my tobacco in and began to sprinkle it carefully on the cigarette paper. It was a move that always gave me time to collect my thoughts, and no one ever realized how adrift I might be.
“Really, Miles?” I ran my tongue along the edge of the paper, slowly and deliberately, watching my partner’s eyes. He couldn’t take them off my tongue. He still wanted me.
Why was he marrying this blonde then?
I slid the cigarette half way into my mouth, sealing it, then took it out and reversed it. Then I struck a match with my thumbnail and lit it.
“Congratulations,” I finally said, mildly. I drew in a deep lungful of the acrid smoke and let it dribble out through my nose. Only then, when I was positive I would shoot neither one of them, did I lean over and kiss her cheek. “I’m sure you’ll be very happy with Miles, Iva.”
I approached Miles and he drew back abruptly. I could see that for a minute he thought I was about to kiss him as well. Instead I took his hand as if to shake it, squeezing, grinding the small bones together. He pulled his hand free before his sl…future wife could see the look of agony on his face.
He flexed his fingers and pasted on a sickly smile. “Well, we just wanted you to be the first to know.”
“Oh?” I asked, dropping down into the chair that Iva had vacated. “I’m so fortunate! Do let me take you out for a celebratory drink.”
“That’s so kind of you, Sam,” Iva said, her green eyes examining me thoroughly. “Actually, we need to see my family, to tell them the happy news.”
“Another time, then.” I just wanted them out of my office now.
My head jerked around sharply. Her smile was very prim, but her eyes were hot as they raked over my body. I swallowed wrong and choked on a mouthful of smoke.
The door closed quietly behind them, and I heard the murmuring of their voices as they spoke with Effie.
I reached down to open the bottom left drawer of my desk and pulled out a bottle of rye and a shot glass. I looked at the glass, and then returned it to the drawer.
It wasn’t big enough. I pulled the cork out of the bottle and tipped it to my lips. It burned all the way down, and settled in my stomach like a pool of acid. I coughed but was bringing it back to my mouth when Effie walked in.
She had been with me before Miles became my partner. She knew my …preferences, but that didn’t stop her from considering herself my best friend.
With only average looks that bordered on the wrong side of pretty, her body was what drew attention: she was built like a brick… well to put it politely, she was well built. We first met in the dingy little bar around the corner, when some palooka was trying to put the make on her. He was a big guy, and he laughed when I objected to the way he was treating the girl. So I knocked him off his barstool and threw him out onto the sidewalk.
Effie was thankful, and we got to chatting. She had just lost another job because of her looks. Her boss felt her job description should include the word mistress, and she didn’t. She nailed his instep with her spiked heel and was suddenly unemployed.
“Come work for me,” I offered. “I need a secretary, and I can guarantee I won’t make a pass at you!”
“I don’t think so,” she said reluctantly. “You’re a man, aren’t you? And you’re breathing? Sooner or later you’ll make a pass.”
“Umm…” How did I explain that as voluptuous as her body was, it did nothing for me? “Trust me, Precious. If there’s one thing I won’t do, it’s make a pass at you!”
Now Effie strolled into my office, the seductive sway of her hips an unconscious part of her. She oozed up onto my desk and perched on the edge, her gorgeous legs crossed at the knee, and began to build another cigarette for me. I took it from her after she removed it from her mouth, and put it into my own, waiting while she struck a match.
“Want me to go after them and kick her down the stairs, Sam?”
I shook my head, still feeling like a man who’s been sucker punched one time too many. She leaned over and stroked my hair, let her fingers trace the line of my jaw. “He’s not worth it, Sam. He was never any good for you.”
“No. I know Effie. I…guess I always knew. I just…”
“You just wanted to believe the lying bastard when he said he loved you! Men!” she snorted in disgust, and I had to laugh.
“Angel, I’m a man too, in case you had forgotten?”
She slid easily off the desk and tipped up my chin to kiss my cheek. “I know that, Sam.” She straightened quickly, almost throwing herself off balance. “It’s time to go home now.” Effie turned to walk out and I admired the curve of her backside, so smooth and taut for a woman.
What a waste!
Effie paused as she got to the door and looked me over carefully, shaking her head. “What a waste!”
I heard her sigh, but pretended I hadn’t.
I leaned against the doorframe and waved the nearly empty bottle of rye. “We’re almost out!”
“Are you angry with me, Angel?”
“You’re drinking too much, Sam.”
“No, I’m not drinking enough, darling. Now be a dear and run down to the corner and get me some more.”
She pushed her chair away from her desk and rose to her feet. “You scare me, Sam. You go out every day with that damned gun in your hip pocket, and it’s like you’re trying to get yourself killed!”
I scowled at her, both of her. Oh. This was not good. Suddenly I was seeing two of my secretary. And my stomach decided it was tired of being filled with rotgut whiskey. I clapped a hand over my mouth and staggered back into my office, winding up with my head in my waste paper basket.
When I looked up again, Effie was standing in the doorway, holding a damp, linen hanky. She tossed it to me and then stalked out of the office, irritation written in the stiff line of her back. The outer door slammed shut and I winced as the sound knifed through my skull.
I rolled from my knees onto my ass and leaned back against my desk, groaning as I hit my head.
Effie was right. If I continued on in this manner, I would soon be dead, from either one of the many enemies I had made, or my poor taste in alcohol.
The scrap of material felt cool against my heated skin and I rubbed it over my face. I staggered to my feet, almost vomiting again as the sour odor from the wastebasket hit me full force. I clamped my mouth shut and managed to get to the washroom down the hall without any unseemly accidents.
I regarded my haggard face in the mirror above the tiny sink. The bags under my eyes were suitable for travel on the Twentieth Century, and the stubble covering my chin and cheeks made me look like a refugee from a men’s mission. I couldn’t remember the last time I had looked so bad.
Miles had been married to Iva for a little over three months, and was taking what he called an extended honeymoon. He’d stop by the office once a week or so, just to pick up his paycheck. Even so filled with bad liquor that I was seeing double, I was a better gumshoe than Miles Archer.
I was doing the majority of the sleuthing.
I was also doing the majority of the drinking.
My self-respect reached back to kick me in the ass.
Okay, Spade. The man doesn’t want you.
Drinking yourself into an early grave isn’t going to change that.
Deal with it.
I glanced up and froze when Miles sauntered into the office. He settled himself on the desk in front of me, his legs splayed temptingly.
“Well. Fancy meeting you here!” I sneered, trying to hide the thrill I still got when he was near. “Slumming?”
The look he gave me from under his ridiculously long lashes was considering. The hairs on the back of my neck began to stand on end.
“We haven’t…talked in quite some time, Sam.”
“Is that what they’re calling it these days?” In spite of myself, I could feel my cock grow hard. It had been months since I had stopped drinking, even more months since he’d come to me. I still wanted him.
I licked my lips and reached for my tobacco pouch.
Miles leaned over and placed a hand over mine. “Don’t, Sam.”
“Don’t what?” I asked, playing for time. What did he want from me?
“Come on, baby. Don’t take that attitude. I had to marry Iva!”
“Really? Well, if she told you she was knocked up she lied! Or you would have been a papa by now!”
“That’s not what I meant, Sam. People were starting to talk.” His fingers curled around mine and his thumb began to run over the sensitive skin at my wrist. He smiled smugly, and I knew my runaway pulse was giving me away.
I pulled my hand free, surreptitiously rubbing that telltale spot.
“*People* always talk. So what?”
“Tom Polhaus told me it was going around the stationhouse that we were working together a little too closely.”
“Ah, shit!” Tom was a sergeant on the police force, and an old friend of mine. If he had seen fit to warn Miles off, then things were getting dicey.
“Yeah. So, you see why I had no choice?”
“I guess,” I said grudgingly. “But couldn’t you have told me? I thought…”
“I’m sorry, Sam.” He smiled and moved in closer to me, those elegant fingers threading though the hair above my ear, following the curve to my earlobe. He squeezed it gently, then dug into it with his thumbnail. I jerked back, but he refused to release me.
He used the grip on my ear to urge me up along his body, and I could feel his cock pressing needily against my groin. I moaned helplessly and took his mouth.
Miles let go of my ear and put his arms around me, stroking up and down my spine, each downward stroke coming closer and closer to my ass. And then his palms were filled with me, pulling me closer. I rocked against him, unable to control the wildfire of desire that flashed through me.
“Effie left early,” I whispered feverishly in his ear. “Let me lock the door!”
“I already did, Sam.” He gave that cocky smile of his, that melted my bones, that made me need to fuck him fast and furiously.
I settled my lips on his mouth, nudging past his lips to tease his tongue. I wanted that tongue in my mouth, fucking it. My fingers went to his belt and I fumbled with it, trying desperately to undo it.
Miles laughed and backed away. “Do you have something, Sam?”
While I was tearing through my desk looking for the lubricant, he was casually removing his jacket and dropping his trousers. He wasn’t wearing any underwear. I nearly came right then.
He bent over my desk, watching as I fumbled with the jar of cream I had once planned to give Effie as a Christmas gift. Instead, Miles and I had become lovers and I gave it to him instead.
Hesitantly, I held it in my hand, warming it. “Do you want to do me, Miles?”
He shook his head. I shed my clothes and coated my weeping erection with the slippery stuff, then scooped out a fingerful and began to insert it into my lover. Miles was very tight. At least Iva hadn’t been able to give him this!
“Come on, Sam. Stop fucking around!”
As punishment, for cutting out my heart with a dull knife, for marrying that bitch, Iva, for not loving me enough, I shoved into him with one rough stroke, and he whimpered at the sting.
His passage was snug and hot, and it had been too long since I had been inside him. I knew I wouldn’t last long. I wrapped my hand around his cock and pulled.
I tried to hold out as long as I could, but his inner muscles squeezed down, milking me, and I was pouring myself into him, my orgasm so powerful I was almost on the verge of unconsciousness.
But Miles hadn’t come. He was still hard. I slipped out of him and turned him around, leaned him back against my desk. I went down on my knees before him and licked at the drops of moisture that were on the tip of his cock. Then I began to swallow him, and although I could tell he was fighting it, it was only a matter of seconds before he erupted in my mouth.
I sat back on my heels, carefully studying the floor. What had I just done?
I licked my lips, tasting him there, and he pulled me to my feet and kissed me, his tongue sweeping my mouth. “I can taste me on you!” he growled. “I love when you suck me off!”
I took a step back. I had made him come, but it had been such a small amount that I didn’t have any trouble swallowing it all. Of course. He had been getting laid on a regular basis. He wasn’t mooning around, waiting for me.
“Will you fuck me, Miles? Will you put your cock in my ass?”
Miles looked amused, and used his handkerchief to clean himself up. He pulled up his trousers, fastening the buckle unconcernedly. “Thanks for the offer, Sam, but I don’t think so. I want to fuck something hot and wet. But you can fuck me, if you like. Or suck me.” He shrugged. “We can work out a schedule.”
I cleaned myself off and got dressed. Then my fist shot out and I clipped him on the chin. His head twisted back and his feet shot out from under him and he fell, hitting the edge of my desk.
“Oww!” He rubbed the back of his head. “What’d you do that for? I thought you wanted to fuck me!”
“No, Miles. You can fuck yourself! I won’t do that! I won’t share you with Iva!”
The son of a bitch had the nerve to look surprised.
“Oh, go home Miles. Go see if Iva can give you what I can!”
“Don’t be too sure she can’t, Sam!” he sniped back, brushing himself off. “She has a pretty educated mouth!” He got to his feet. “I’ll see you on Monday.”
He walked out of the office, leaving the outer door open.
I dropped into my chair, leaned my elbows on the desk and cradled my head in my hands.
A gentle tap sounded on my doorframe, and I looked up wearily. I knew it wouldn’t be Miles.
“Sam, are you all right?”
“I’m fine, Effie. I thought you had to leave early.”
“I did, but I saw loverboy come sneaking up the stairs, so I waited until he left to make sure you wouldn't need help hiding the body if you decided to shoot him."
“Effie, you’re an angel. Thank you.”
She hovered expectantly at the door.
“Is there anything I can do for you, Sam?” Her eyes were so sympathetic. I wanted to shoot something. Or someone.
“Yes, Precious, there is.” I began building a cigarette and didn’t speak again until I finished.
“Darling, order me a new desk.”
I gazed at the window behind my desk, not really seeing our names spelt out.
The letters were foot high so they could be read clearly on the street three stories below.
I’d have to do something about the partnership. Soon. I was doing all the grunt work while Miles Archer got to tail husbands who were keeping a honey on the side or tracing runaway schoolgirls for their rich daddies.
Effie Perine poked her head in the doorway. “There’s someone out here to see you, Sam.” Her eyes were lit with excitement.
I pulled my watch out of my vest pocket. “It’s rather late for a new client, isn’t it, Angel?”
“Maybe, Sam. But she’s a real knockout! You’ll want to see her!”
I examined my fingernails carefully. “Are you mistaking me for Miles, darling?”
She had the grace to look abashed, and gave me a crooked smile. “Sorry, Sam.” Since my partner had married that bleached blonde bimbo, Iva, Effie had been trying to get me interested in someone, anyone. As long as they came with a warm body, they would do. She called over her shoulder, “Come right on in, Miss Wonderly.”
The brunette who walked into my office had me sitting up and examining her carefully. Her stride was smooth and gliding, as if she had been born wearing high heels. A sable stole covered one shoulder, the soft, lustrous fur draping over her other arm. A pillbox hat nestled on her rich auburn hair, a tiny bird of black silk perched on the rim, sending her deep blue eyes into shadow. The suit she wore, a velvety brown over a pale yellow blouse, cinched in her waist and fell in a straight line to mid calf. It rippled as she walked toward me, her hand outstretched.
“Mr. Spade, I can’t thank you enough for seeing me at such short notice!”
“Not at all, Miss Wonderly. What can I do for you?” I gestured her toward the client’s chair that I had purchased a few months ago. Right after Iva had made herself comfortable in my chair. “Would you like a cigarette?”
“Thank you, no, I prefer my own brand.” She reached into her purse and withdrew a sterling silver case chased in what appeared to be Russian Cyrillic lettering. Pressing the concealed clasp, she made a production of selecting one of the slim Egyptian cigarettes and placing it between her carmine lips. Before she could light it though, I struck a match and extended my arm, holding it toward her.
She had to bend toward me slightly to take advantage of the light. Then I licked my thumb and forefinger and smothered the flame.
I settled myself on the edge of my desk and waited while she fussed with her hat and her furs and her blouse collar, smoothing her skirt so it fell over her knees in an orderly manner. Effie stood at the door, her eyes enormous as she took in the little pas de seul that was being put on before us.
I grinned at her and nodded toward the door, and she went back to her desk reluctantly.
“If you’re quite finished with primping, Miss Wonderly?”
She started, as if she had forgotten I was there. “I’m sorry, I was procrastinating, wasn’t I?” She tittered.
I’d read about that, tittering, but I had never actually heard anyone do it before. A strange sound. I struggled to hide my amusement.
Miss Wonderly saw it in my eyes, and made herself relax. “I am sorry,” she apologized again. “This is just…This is very difficult for me. It’s a very trying time.”
Before she could go into any kind of detail, the office door burst open.
And Miles walked in.
He was wearing a new suit, one I was sure Iva had bought for him. I saw how his eyes turned hot as they acknowledged the svelte figure in the client’s chair. “Am I interrupting something, I hope?”
“Miss Wonderly, this is Miles Archer, my partner. Miles, Miss Wonderly was just about to tell me why she felt the need for the services of a private investigator.”
Abruptly, she reached into her purse. “This is a recent photo of my sister, Corinne. Until last week, she was at an exclusive girl’s school in New York.”
Miles went into my lower drawer and pulled out the bottle of rye. He cocked an eye at me. It was a new bottle, the seal hadn’t been broken. I brought my gaze back to our potential client.
“She was in school you say?”
“Yes. She had apparently been corresponding with our chauffeur, a rather crude, brutish man who goes by the name of Floyd Thursby. And now she’s run away with him! I got a telegram from him stating that I could have Corinne back if I met him here in San Francisco and gave him $20,000. But I’m afraid.”
“So you want either Sam or myself to find him, and find your sister.”
She smiled at him gratefully. “Yes, that’s it exactly. This is the hotel he’s staying at.” She handed Miles a card with something scrawled across the back. He took it from her, letting his fingers linger suggestively on hers.
She blushed and looked down at her purse. “If you’ll just tell me what your fee is?”
“Our retainer is $200, and we get twenty dollars a day expenses.”
She paled. “That’s very expensive!”
I looked at her sharply. “We’re very good!”
She opened her purse and withdrew two crisp hundred-dollar bills. I took them from her, while Miles assisted her to her feet. “Don’t worry, my dear,” he said, patting her hand patronizingly. “We’ll get your sister back safely and have this whole thing settled in no time!” He grinned, an expression that would have been at home on a shark, and ushered her out of the office.
His hand stroked down, as if by accident, over the curves of her ass. She jumped and he apologized, swallowing that grin, and closed the door behind her.
“Have you forgotten you’re married now, Miles?”
He turned that smile on me, ignoring my remark. “Are they good?” he asked, nodding toward the bills in my hand.
I snapped one briskly and held it up to the light. Tiny silk threads were imbedded in the paper. “They’re good,” I affirmed.
“And they have brothers in her bag, did you notice?”
“No,” I turned my back to look out the window. Below I could see Miss Wonderly getting into a cab. “I leave that sort of thing to you!”
“Ah, Sammy! That’s why I’ll get ahead in this world, and you won’t!”
I huffed softly and reached for my tobacco pouch.
“Sure you don’t want a drink, Sam?”
“With you, Miles?” I drew in a deep breath of the acrid smoke. “I don’t think so.”
It was in the wee small hours of the morning when I got the phone call.
“Sam, it’s Tom.”
“Who died, Tom?”
“What makes you think someone died, Sam?”
“Listen, Polhaus, the Frisco police don’t call me at,” I leaned over to peer at my bedside clock, “at three A.M., just to swap recipes. So, who died?”
A heavy sigh came over the line, and I felt my gut clench. I had no family on the west coast. That left only…
“It’s Miles, Sam. He took a .38 right in the pump. You better get down here.” He gave me the address, and I copied it down, but I seemed to be operating on automatic. Numbly, I hung up the phone and sat with my head in my hands.
Then I poured myself two fingers of whiskey, the first drink I had had in months, and belted it back. I stood to pull on my clothes.
I was at the door when a thought struck me, and I turned back to the phone. I picked up the receiver and dialed. “Effie, darling, it’s…”
“Sam? What’s wrong?” Everyone knows that a call at three in the morning bodes no good.
“It’s Miles, Precious. He’s been shot.”
“How bad, Sam?”
“As bad as it can be. He’s dead. Do me a favor, Angel. Get over to his place and break the news to Iva, would you?”
“She doesn’t like me, Sam.”
“She likes me even less, darling. Go see her, there’s a good girl.”
“Very well, Sam. But you owe me!”
“Anything you like, Precious. And try to keep her away from me!”
Over the still-open line I could hear Effie calling to her mother. “*Nothing’s* wrong, mama. I just have to run an errand. Go back to bed!” And then a hum came over the line and I cradled the receiver and headed out to catch a cab to Burritt Street.
Tom Polhaus looked up from where he was crouching at the side of broken guardrail and grimaced when he saw me.
“Sorry to have to get you out so early, Sam.”
“What can you tell me, Tom?”
“Little more than I told you over the phone. He took a .38 pill in the chest, point blank range. It singed his topcoat.”
“Is that the murder weapon?” I asked, nodding toward the gun he had picked up.
“Looks like it. It’s a Webley-Fosbery. English make. One shot fired, recently. They stopped making them a couple, three years back, I think. Ever seen it before?”
I kept my gaze deliberately blank. “I’ve seen Webley-Fosberys before.”
Tom knew I wouldn’t answer any more than that, and dropped the subject. “What was Miles doing down here?”
I rolled a cigarette to give myself some time to think. When I finally spoke, it was to say, casually, “He was supposed to be tailing someone named Floyd Thursby.”
I took the cigarette out of my mouth and regarded the glowing tip. “Mind if I go down and take a look at him?” Deliberately, I didn’t answer his question.
Polhaus shrugged. “He’s your partner, Sam.”
“Was, Tom. He was my partner.”
Effie looked up as I entered the office, her mouth opened on some wise crack. She took one good look at my kisser, folded her lips over, and turned back to her typing.
“Aren’t you interested in how it went, Precious?”
Her shoulders slumped. “Ah, Sam, don’t be cranky with me! I had Iva in here for hours this morning!”
“What did she want, Angel?”
“She thinks you killed Miles, Sam!”
I swore viciously. Of course she would. She’d like nothing better than to get her pretty paws on this business! I glowered at my secretary. “And what do you think, darling?”
“I think you need a drink!”
I sank down in the chair by her desk and tossed my hat at the coat tree in the corner. “It’s been a bitch of a day, Precious. Sorry.” I apologized for my language and rubbed my temples, a headache thinking about taking up residence there. “Floyd Thursby’s been found dead, and Lieutenant Dundy thinks I did it.”
“Thursby? Wasn’t he the man who was threatening Miss Wonderly? How’d you kill him, Sam? I forget.”
I curled my lip at her. “Four shots to the back, from across the street.”
She shook her head. “Not your style, Sam. Plus I’ve noticed you’re not packing heat any more.”
“I took your lecture to heart, darling, and put all my little toys away.”
She snorted, a surprisingly elegant little sound. “Were you able to find Miss Wonderly? Or is it Miss LeBlanc? What name is she using today?” Effie had taken the call from our client and discovered that not only was her name not Wonderly, but her story wasn’t even half-way to being true.
Well, Miles and I hadn’t really believed her; we had believed her two hundred dollars, which made it all right enough to take her on.
“Oh, she had already checked out by the time I got there. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if we hear from her again.”
“I think she likes you, Sam.”
I gave her a sour look. “And you know how much that means to me, don’t you darling?”
She turned back to her typewriter and placed her fingers efficiently on the keys. But I just couldn’t let it go. “I was…followed to the St. Mark.”
“Come on, Angel, I know you’re dying to hear all about my dream man! Boy, actually.”
“What? Oh Sam, you didn’t!”
“No, Effie, darling, I didn’t. He’s just…younger than I usually have them. In his early twenties, I’d guess. A gunsel from the east coast!” I nodded at her shocked stare. “And you needn’t tell me, Precious, I know I’m losing what little mind I have left! A gunsel, for God’s sake! He’s probably got a bullet with my name on it!” I started for my office door, shaking my head at my own folly.
“Sam. Be careful!”
I scowled at her and went into my office. As I had ordered, the sign on the window had been changed. Now it just read Samuel Spade, Private Investigations.
The full bottle of rye was still in the bottom drawer of my desk. I looked at it, and the seven shot glasses that were lined up next to it, one for each day of the week, so Effie would only have to wash them out once.
I set my little soldiers and their general up on my desk and cracked the seal. Carefully I poured two fingers of rye into each glass, and then sat back in my chair and contemplated them. I had a lot of catching up to do.
The kid thought he was being so slick, so… professional, but I spotted him about a block from my office building. He had seen too many b- movies. The trench coat he wore belted around his waist was a drab tan, and matched the slouch hat that shaded his eyes. I could see the bulge in his pocket where he kept his gun.
I wondered if he’d have a matching one in his trousers.
I hailed the cabby who provided wheels for me when I needed to be in a lot of places in a short amount of time. Chair was an okay kind of guy. He had worked on the Golden Gate Bridge at one time, but then he developed a fear of heights and had to stop walking steel. He needed the extra fin I gave him every week to be available, so I kept him on my payroll.
Miles hadn’t known anything about that. He never looked over the books, and Effie would have lied herself blue in the face to prevent him from finding out. She liked Chair as well, and if he wasn’t married with a half dozen kids, she might have made a play for him too.
She was the reason I called him Chair. He had taken one look at her voluptuous body and said, “You’re so beautiful, you could sit on my face for the rest of my life!”
I said he was married, I didn’t say he was dead!
I climbed into his cab and told him, “The St. Mark, Chair.”
“Hot date, Mr. Spade?”
I should live so long. “No, strictly business, Chair.” I grinned and leaned my arm across the back of the ratty upholstery of his passenger seat, glancing out the rear window.
There the kid was, in that trench coat and hat, whistling up a cab, pointing to where Chair was barreling down the street.
And he tailed me all the way to Miss Wonderly’s hotel.
Notes: Gat and rod refer to guns. Johnnypump is a fire hydrant. JFK International Airport used to be known as Idlewild. Rackets are dishonest enterprises, i.e. numbers, bootlegging (when alcohol was illegal), prostitution, and drugs. Oh, and Mr. Andolino belongs to Mario Puzo. As always, racial epithets are appropriate to that day and time, and no offence is intended by the author.
He thought I was a kid, playing at being a bad man. He had no idea what was in my past, what had brought me to this point in my life.
I worked out of Hell’s Kitchen, in Manhattan. As a kid, I ran wild in the streets. I probably would have wound up dead, either in the gutter or the bighouse but for an event that changed my whole life.
I helped out a guinea kid named Sonny, who was getting the shit kicked out of him by a rival gang. I waded in, don’t ask me why, and saved his ass.
His Pop, I discovered, was someone you didn’t fuck with. Mr. Andolino never forgave an insult, but he never forgot a friend. Even though I wasn’t Sicilian, he made me feel like I was a part of his family, kind of like that Mick kid, Tom.
Mr. Andolino had already made a name for himself in the rackets, and a lot of people owed him favors. He always made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.
And then one day, a friend of his, a Russian general named Kemidov, turned up dead in Constantinople. His throat had been sliced through savagely, and he had died choking on his own blood.
I was there when Mr. Andolino learned of this. He was in the parlor of his brownstone, helping his wife with the packing; they were about to move out to the country, where it was healthier for his family.
For some reason Mrs. Andolino insisted on trusting me with the youngest of their three sons, a curly-haired little boy named Michele. I sat on the floor in my shirtsleeves, my gat snug against my spine, away from the reach of grasping, chubby fingers. Michele waited for me to line up his toy soldiers and then he knocked them over with riotous glee. We had played this game before, and he never tired of it.
Cesare, one of Mr. Andolino’s bodyguards, came pounding up the stairs. “Boss! Boss! Bad news, Boss!”
They were both looking at him, so I could get away with it too. He was out of breath, and the sweat molded his shirt to his muscled chest. I wanted to be plastered to his chest like that. I licked my lips and dropped my eyes. For some time I had wanted the handsome Sicilian, but it would have cost me my dick if I had made a move on him. The Black Hand did not approve of that sort of thing.
Mrs. Andolino pressed him down into a chair and poured him a glass of the red wine she made in the cellar. “Grazzi!” He guzzled it down and wiped his mouth on his sleeve. Before he could say another word, the boss exchanged glances with his wife, and she nodded briefly.
She gave me a look and I scooped up my charge. “C’mon, Mikey. How’s about you and me go play downstairs for awhile?”
“Stay nearby, Wilmer.” He was the only one who ever called me that. “I may have need of you.”
I raised my hand to let him know I had heard him, but continued out the door, the kid on my hip.
Downstairs, I set him next to a johnnypump and took a rubber ball out of my pocket. To his delight, I began bouncing it off the stoop. He clapped his hands and laughed.
It takes so little to make some people happy.
I craned my head back and looked up to the third floor window where Cesare was waving at me. “The boss needs you!”
Back onto my hip went the little guy and we traveled up the stairs to where his mother was waiting to take him from me. She was pale, and her lips were a tight, thin line in her face. For just a second her eyes held mine, and then she was gone, leaving me to see what task I would be asked to perform.
Mr. Andolino was sitting at the kitchen table, fat tears rolling unashamedly down his face. My insides clutched. I had never seen this indomitable man so devastated.
“What is it, Me signore?”
“Wilmer. You have heard me speak of my old friend Kemidov?”
“The Russian general who did you some small service?”
“It was not so small, but this is neither the time nor the place to go into that. He has been murdered, most brutally. I want the man who is responsible to pay.”
I was already reaching for my topcoat where it lay over another chair. “Of course, Me signore.” I said simply.
Mr. Andolino smiled at me, and I was glad that I was not the one who had crossed this powerful man. He handed me a piece of paper with a name and a city on it. My target and his location. I took the handful of bills he gave me and stuffed them into my pocket.
“I’ll leave as soon as I can get to Grand Central Station.”
“That is not necessary. There is someone who owes me a favor, and he will fly you to the west coast. You leave now.”
“Of course.” It never occurred to me to mention that I had never flown before, that I was not comfortable with heights. I did as Mr. Andolino bid me. “Addio, Me signore.”
“You a good boy, Wilmer. Too bad you not Sicilian! Addio.”
Cesare walked down the stairs with me, giving me his spare rod and all the ammunition he had on him. “Go with God, my friend, and watch your back.”
He hugged me, and I was careful not to let him feel my arousal. But I was able to kiss him on both cheeks, and I took that with me as I got into the car that would take me to Idlewild.
The driver glanced uneasily at me through the rearview mirror. “What’s up, Willie?”
I realized I had a shit-eating grin on my face. I never smiled. I wiped off the smile and returned Guido’s look stonily. He gulped and got his eyes back on the road.
“I guess someone’s gonna die, eh, Willie?”
“Yes,” I said softly, and looked down at the paper in my hand.
Floyd Thursby. San Francisco.
Note: I know Humphrey Bogart’s eyes weren’t yellow-grey, but Sam Spade’s were, and I’ve opted to go with Dash Hammett on this one. This is still Wilmer's POV.
I was sitting in the lobby of the Hotel Belvedere when the little man I was waiting to see came hurrying in, crossing rapidly to the front desk. He carried an elegant walking stick with an ivory handle. Gloves of the softest leather matched the fawn spats he wore. His black cashmere coat had a full, luxurious alpaca collar that was up around his chin. Even from where I sat I could see the darker splotches that marred its plush, midnight depths, and the small white bandage that covered his temple.
There was also a bruise on his cheek.
My man seemed to have spent the night on the tiles. The corner of my mouth tipped up in what passed for a normal expression of humor.
He stopped at the front desk to get his room key. Tentative fingers touched the bandage, as if still surprised that it was there, or that it was necessary to even be there.
I snapped my newspaper shut and was about to rise to approach him when a hand the size of a ham landed on my shoulder.
“You got a reason to be here, son?”
I kept my face bland as I looked up into his eyes. “I was waiting for someone.”
“Yeah, well we don’t allow such goings on here at the Belvedere. You’d better be on your way!”
I stared at him stupidly, not understanding his reference. And then I did and I surged to my feet.
Only to have a grip like a pincer squeeze the nerve at my elbow, and the newspaper fell from my grip. “You’re not going to give us any trouble over this, are you sonny? You’re going to do what the nice house dick tells you. Right?”
I jerked my arm free and whipped around to lose myself in a pair of eyes like a hunting hawk’s. My breath caught and for a minute I couldn’t speak.
“I’ve got business here!” I finally had myself under some semblance of control.
“Not anymore, you don’t!” He looked amused, as if he didn’t take me seriously.
“This was still a free country, last time I looked!” I could feel the warmth that flooded my cheeks and pooled in my groin, and I was chagrinned. What was it about this stranger that made me want him?
“Ah, that’s just a bedtime story we tell the kiddies!” Those yellow-gray eyes reflected his enjoyment of baiting me.
“That’s a good one, Sam!” The house detective laughed half-heartedly. He was losing interest in the conversation. All he wanted was for things to remain quiet until the end of his shift. “G’wan, Petunia, run along home to mommy!”
My mouth stretched in a smile, but I let my eyes stay flat, and deadly. He was unimportant, but the man who sicced him on me might prove to be a problem. I knew him now, and recognized his type. A private dick who didn’t like anyone new coming into his territory.
He laughed out loud and my mouth got dry and my dick got hard. “It’s okay, Luke,” he told the man hovering next to him. “The kid knows where he stands now, don’t you kid?”
“Care to take this outside, shamus?” A flash of excitement rippled through me at the thought of following him into a dark alley, of pushing him up against a stinking wall and pressing my body against his, of taking that mouth. I could feel my eyes go sultry.
For a second I thought he was going to ruffle my hair, and I wasn’t sure how I would react if he did. Then he walked away, drawing the house detective with him, leaving me standing in the middle of the lobby.
I took a deep breath and looked around for my man. He was nowhere to be seen. I turned on my heel and walked out of the hotel.
There was a phone booth on the corner. I got the operator and in quiet tones gave her the number of the Alexandria Hotel. I dropped in the nickel she requested and moments later I was speaking to the man who thought he was my employer.
“Mr. Gutman? I tracked Joel Cairo to the Belvedere. Before I could get to him some private dick had me tossed out on my ass.”
Gutman said, “Ah, Wilmer, that would be a waste for an ass as fine as yours!”
A hard blush colored my cheeks. I curled my lip at the receiver in my hand, but continued speaking smoothly, as if he hadn’t spoken at all. “I don’t think Cairo’s found the little item you’re concerned about, but I’ll hang around here and see if I can… persuade him to speak with you.”
“No, that won’t be necessary, Wilmer. Keep an eye on our investigating friend and see what you can discover about the gentleman. What did you say his name was?”
I told him what I had heard, and I could almost see him stroking and pulling at his lower lip and gazing off into space as he mulled the new pieces of this puzzle he was so desirous to solve.
“I do believe you’ve crossed paths with Samuel Spade. My contacts tell me our Miss O’Shaughnessy may be planning to use him to replace the late, unlamented Floyd Thursby. I don’t imagine you’ve learned yet who ended his illustrious career? No? Well, I hadn’t really thought so. Hm, hm, hm.” He chuckled, deep in his throat, and hung up.
I stood there, clutching the black instrument until my knuckles turned white. My eyes closed in revulsion.
Kasper Gutman wanted me. That fat…man wanted to shove his cock up my ass and fuck me blind. He wanted to force me to my knees before him and make me… I shuddered in spite of myself.
The operator came back on the line. “Number, please.” I forced myself to hang up the phone and stepped out of the booth in time to see Sam Spade leave the hotel and get into a car that was idling at the curb.
I whistled up a cab and told the driver to follow him, discreetly.
Maybe he was too distracted by thoughts of the brunette who was inching her way into his life. Maybe he was contemplating the very unusual Joel Cairo. Maybe he just didn’t give a fuck.
Whatever it was, this time he didn’t know I was on his tail. I settled back and watched to see where he would go.
After I ascertained that Joel Cairo was snug in his little suite of rooms at the Hotel Belvedere, I had Chair drive me back to my apartment building. And all the way back I had that feeling, that little niggling at the base of my skull, telling me I was being followed.
No matter how many times I glanced out of the rear window, I couldn’t spot anything suspicious. Jesus, was I hoping the kid was tailing me again?
I shook my head at my folly, walked into my building and took the elevator to my floor.
The night before had been a rough one. Miss Wonderly paid me a surprise visit. I found her huddled in the stairwell of my building, half-fainting from fright. I got her up to my apartment and settled her in the big easy chair by my radio.
She took the glass of Bacardi I folded into her hands, and smiling pathetically, gulped it down. She didn’t realize I only bought the highest proof available in the States, and she gasped and coughed and got drops of rum all over her lovely ivory crepe de chine dress.
When she was finally able to catch her breath again, she went into a lengthy explanation of why she couldn’t tell me what was going on. And then she begged me to trust her anyway.
She batted her lashes and looked up at me through them. They were so thick they should have been declared illegal. I leaned back against the doorjamb to the kitchen and regarded her with a bored air as I toyed with my own drink. She realized I wasn’t buying the innocent young girl act and abruptly straightened in her chair.
“I was promised 5,000 pounds if I could deliver a certain object d’art, a black bird, some sort of falcon I believe, made of porcelain, or something similar to that. Floyd Thursby was my partner, but he betrayed me. He left me in Hong Kong and took the bird with him, meaning to keep the finder’s fee for himself.”
“Who shot him?”
“I don’t know. I thought it might be Joel Cairo, or perhaps…I don’t know. I’m afraid!”
“So this is all about a piece of sink?”
She was shocked by my callous disregard for something so obviously valuable.
I shrugged and began building a cigarette.
“Men have died over this bird!” she finally burst out.
I paused as I was about to lick the cigarette paper and watched her over the edge of it. “Who? Aside from my partner, of course!”
She gasped at the mention of Miles and fumbled for a handkerchief. “I don’t know the whole history of the black bird. I do know Floyd killed its previous owner, some Russian general, I think, living in Constantinople!” Then she stuffed the scrap of linen into her mouth, as if to muffle sobs.
“Oh, you’re very good, sweetheart! I haven’t seen a performance like that since Lunt and Fontane appeared at the Belasco!”
She lowered the handkerchief and regarded me with hard, dry, eyes.
That was when she confessed that her name was really Brigid O’Shaughnessy, and I had to wonder if she had a different name for each day of the week. First Wonderly, then LeBlanc. Would her name be Nora Charles tomorrow, and Lady Edwina Morgan St. Paul the day after that? And what would it be on Friday?
My phone rang and it turned out to be that odd little man who had stuck me up in my own office and searched for…whatever it was he was searching for.
“Ah. Mr. Cairo. No, you’re not disturbing me at all. Sure, come on up. It’s apartment number…”
He told me before I could tell him, and I laughed sourly. Of course. Everyone in this fucking case knew more about everything in it than I did! I let the receiver drop into the cradle and glanced at the woman who was now wandering restlessly around my parlor.
“You…know Joel Cairo?” She tried to make the question casual.
Now it was my turn to track her from under my lashes. “Obviously, you do. Care to tell me about it, or are you going to give me the fluttering schoolgirl routine again?”
“You’re a hard man, Mr. Spade!”
Yeah. Miles could have told her how hard I was. How hard I could be.
But Miles was dead. He had been my partner, and now he was dead. I would have to do something about his murder. You couldn’t let something like that go in our profession. If you did, the next thing you knew, they all lost respect for you; the cops and the hoods and the squealers.
And worst of all, you lost respect for yourself.
“Is he after the bird too?”
She started. “The bird? I don’t know…”
“Ah, Jesus! Are you going to keep playing your little games?” I demanded harshly. “Do you know how fucking late it is?” And I didn’t mean just the time.
There was a tap at the door and I scowled at her, then went to let Joel Cairo in. He minced past me, the odor of gardenias rolling off him like the fog coming in off the bay. I waved my hand in front of my face to disperse the cloying scent and shut the door, but not before I saw a shadow just down the hall.
The kid who’d followed me to the Wonderly dame’s hotel earlier? At that thought I suddenly found I had a steel rod in my trousers, and had to surreptitiously adjust myself.
He was way too young for me, a kid playing at being a badman.
Raised voices in the parlor drew my attention back to the problem at hand. I pressed my fingers against the door and sighed before I turned to rejoin my guests.
There was an angry outburst in the other room and I hurried in to find Joel Cairo and Brigid O’Shaughnessy grappling for a gun. “Children, children!” I chided them. “This is no way to behave!”
The little man lurched to the side as I casually broke his hold on the gun. The look I gave the girl convinced her to surrender the compact weapon to me. I tucked it away in my pocket.
“She said you were going to make it look like I murdered your partner and Floyd Thursby! She said that you would do this for her because you loved her! She said the police would believe you because of the kind of man I am!”
“And just what kind of man are you, Cairo?”
He was taken aback for a moment, unsure how to answer that. Then he shrugged uneasily. “Levantine?”
“Certainly,” and I turned a cold stare on the girl.
“That’s a lie, Sam! I never said anything like that, I swear it!”
Cairo spun around and lurched toward her, his fingers outstretched as if seeking her pale, slender throat. She jerked back and stumbled over the ottoman. Horrified, her eyes enormous, she watched as the little man tried to reach her.
My left hand grabbed the deep green cravat he wore and twisted, while my right hand slapped him hard enough to knock him down, although I kept him standing.
His eyes burned with impotent anger. “That’s the second time you’ve put your hands on me!”
“Yeah? Well, when I touch you, you’ll like it and beg for more!”
Hot desire replaced the anger and his lips parted in excitement, little puffs of air escaping, signaling his arousal.
I watched him coolly. In the dark, all cats were alike. It had been a long time since I had gotten laid.
But it hadn’t been long enough that I would consider the mincing fop before me.
Not when there was the kid out there in the hall.
Maybe it was time to encourage my guests to depart…
Like an answer to a maiden’s prayer, my doorbell jangled again. “Don’t move a muscle, either of you!” I warned them. Would it be too much to hope that it was the kid?
I threw open the door and released the breath I was unconsciously holding. It was. Standing before me were Lieutenant Dundy and Tom Polhaus.
“Sam, we need to talk to you,” Tom said. Dundy just looked through me, chewing on a toothpick. I hoped he’d choke on the splinters.
“Can’t it wait Tom?”
Suddenly a cry of pain came from the other room. “We’re coming in, Sam!”
“I guess you are!”
By the skin of my teeth I kept my client out of police custody, although a bleeding Joel Cairo was taken downtown, the material of his cashmere topcoat crushed in Tom Polhaus’ beefy fist.
I saw the girl safely back to the apartment she had taken at the Coronet, then left as soon as I decently could.
The hallway on my floor was empty. No one was hidden in the shadows, desperate for me to return and have my wicked way with his body.
//Of course,// I mocked myself. //You really expected him to be waiting here for you? A kid like that? Wake up and smell the coffee, Spade!//
I tugged off my tie and dropped it onto the chair by my bedroom window, then leaned over to open it. I always liked the night air.
Down in the street below, a figure stood leaning against the street lamp. A match flared and his head inclined as he touched the flame to his cigarette. Then his eyes met mine over the distance between us. I could see the flash of white as he grinned around the cigarette in his mouth.
He touched the brim of his slouch hat in a brief, cocky salute and faded back into the shadows.
I blinked a couple of times.
But he was gone.
Notes: Adam and Eve on a raft is eggs on toast
As far as the police were concerned, there were two murders, and one man connected to both of them. They thought if they dug deep enough, they could nail Sam Spade’s hide to the barn door.
I wasn’t about to allow that.
I knew he hadn’t killed Floyd Thursby; I had done that. It had been my pleasure to obey my employer’s orders, and the fact that I’d had to shoot him in the back didn’t keep me up nights.
I wasn’t sure yet who had actually shot his partner, although I was starting to get a pretty good idea. I knew it wasn’t him, though.
And I knew he was in danger. So I spent most of the night walking Hyde Street, dodging the cop on the beat, and making sure no one else paid Spade an unexpected visit.
It was very early when I finally got back from keeping an eye on his apartment. The newssheets had been tossed on their corners for the newsies to start hawking them, and milkmen were just starting their rounds.
I let myself into Kasper Gutman’s hotel suite and carefully hung up my topcoat, the pockets heavy with all the artillery I was carrying, then sprawled on the settee. One leg was braced on the floor, the other extended on the cushions. Within moments I had slipped into a deep sleep.
I rarely dream, and those times I do find me waking sweaty and sticky and shaking from the force of my orgasm, a silent cry on my lips.
Because when you belong to the mob, you make sure your cries are soundless. And you never, ever let them know the desires that are buried so deeply even you are unsure if they are really there.
I dreamed in those early morning hours, though. I dreamed of light brown hair spilling over a high forehead, of yellow-grey falcon’s eyes pinning me in place, of long-fingered hands palming my nipples, stroking down my body, ghosting over the front of my trousers.
I twisted restlessly, rocking my hips up, needing to feel those hard hands on me, around me. My hoarse breathing and the muted pops as the buttons of my fly were undone broke the silence of that pre-dawn time.
And then I stilled as plump, damp fingers reached into my trousers and freed me.
I came awake as I always do, quickly, quietly, utterly still.
This was no dream. The fat man had my weeping cock in his moist palm, and was lowering his head to take me in his mouth.
I arched up and he made a satisfied sound deep in his throat. Before he could taste me, the dark mouth of my gun barrel gently caressed his temple, and he froze in that position, bending over to take me, his large belly balanced on my thighs. The click as I thumbed back the hammer sounded like the crack of doom in that darkened room.
“Put it back where you found it,” I said softly and waited for him to obey my command. His fingers seemed to want to linger on my fly, and impatiently I dug the barrel of my automatic in deep enough to make him flinch.
“My employer sent me to you so you could use my muscle. However, that was not the particular muscle he had in mind!”
Reluctantly, the fat man put my now soft cock back in my pants and straightened slowly, to see if I would allow it. As soon as his weight was off me I scooted away from him, trying to hide the shudders that rippled through my body.
“Hm, hm, hm!” he laughed uncomfortably. “I assure you this meant nothing! No need to get excited, dear boy! I must have my little joke, after all! You… won’t tell our mutual acquaintance, will you?”
I was swallowing hard, keeping the bile down with difficulty. Although I had acknowledged the fact that I found men much more attractive than women, I had never acted on it. And I wasn’t about to now. With him.
“No,” I assured him. “He would kill you if he ever discovered you put your hands on me!” I didn’t tell Gutman that my employer would have me killed as well, probably leaving me with my severed dick stuffed in my mouth. I shuddered. That was information he did not need to have.
Kasper Gutman heaved his bulk off the settee and lumbered away from me. He cleared his throat. “Mr. Spade has been informed that I am desirous of speaking with him. However, he is proving a trifle… recalcitrant, shall we say? I want you to find him and encourage him to accept that it is in his best interests to throw his lot in with us, rather than with the very deadly Miss O’Shaughnessy.”
I looked up at him sharply, but he was fiddling with the bibelots on the little end table near the window. He straightened and continued speaking, never once meeting my eye.
“We shan’t speak of this tiny misunderstanding again, shall we not, Wilmer, my boy? Go and find Sam Spade now.”
The quiet close of his door signaled my dismissal. I uncocked my gun and slid it into the holster that nestled against my spine, then got to my feet and made my way to the bathroom.
I needed to wash off the feel of his hands on me.
The Alexandria offered room service, but I had to get out of there. I strode out through the revolving doors in the lobby, giving them an extra shove for good measure, and turned to make my way to a small diner just up the street.
I would have gone to Herbert’s Grill in Powell Street, where I knew the odds of running into the private dick would be fairly high, but they didn’t serve breakfast at the Grill.
Or lunch either. I checked the big clock face on the building opposite where I was standing and saw that it was close to noon. Well, I really wasn’t much of a breakfast person anyway.
The diner was still empty of the lunchtime crowd, so I took a seat at a booth toward the rear of the place, where I could keep an eye on everyone who entered. Being a cautious man had kept me alive for a long time. It was one of the things my employer appreciated about me.
In spite of the time, I ordered an Adam and Eve on a raft and a cup of java. The waitress was about to tell me they had stopped serving breakfast an hour ago, when I looked at her with my baby blues and gave her a half smile. She smiled back at me and brought me my coffee after she gave the cook my order.
Sometimes it paid to look a lot younger than I actually was.
I was sitting back in my seat, idly rolling the coffee cup between my hands, watching the stream of humanity pass by the window.
And then I saw a familiar face, glaring at something down the street. I slid out of the booth and reached into my pocket. I slapped three quarters on the linoleum-topped table and headed for the door.
I might never be back to that diner again, but my boss had taught me to never stiff anyone who gave you service. You tipped them as much as you could afford. Leaving a thirty-five cent tip for a forty-cent meal was extravagant, but my waitress had kept my cup filled with fresh coffee and never once complained about the time I spent there once I had finished my meal.
And, too, I might need an alibi one day soon. She would be more inclined to remember me if I was generous.
By the time I got out of the diner, the figure I needed to catch up with was about a block away. I hurried after him, being careful not to jog any of the passersby. And then he was right there ahead of me, and, oh, God, I could smell his shaving lotion. I closed my eyes for the barest moment and breathed him in, almost drunk on his scent, then fell in just a step behind him.
Sam Spade was walking briskly down the street when I shoved something into his back. Because he was before me, he had no idea it was my finger that was boring into his spine and not the Colt automatic that was my personal favorite.
“He wants to see you,” I said softly in his ear, and he shuddered.
I didn’t realize how close to him I was. I could feel him along the whole front of my body. And I couldn’t prevent myself from leaning in closer.
He grinned at me from over his shoulder, his eyes alight with amusement. “Get that rod away from me, sonny, or I’ll take it away from you and break it in two!”
“Fuck you, Mr. Spade.”
“Oh, no, kid. I’d much rather fuck you!”
Note: Looky, looky, looky, here comes Cookie, walking down the street.
Looky, looky, looky, call him Cookie, cause he’s sweet!
These lyrics (which I’ve paraphrased) are from the 1935 Burns and Allen movie, Love in Bloom. Thanks to Tim who was interested enough to check it. And this is *still* Wilmer's POV.
Somehow, I found myself in Sam Spade’s apartment. He ignored my repeated statement that the fat man insisted on seeing him immediately.
“I’ve got until 5:30, Cookie. That’s more than enough time for me to take care of you and then get you home!”
My mouth went dry, and it never occurred to me to wonder how he knew my name. His fingers latched onto my sleeve and he hauled me to the curb. The piercing whistle he emitted on placing two fingers between his lips brought his ubiquitous cab driver to a screeching halt before us.
“C’mon, Cookie, in you get!” His hand at my waist slid lower and I froze, half in and half out, as I felt him fondle my ass. He caressed me through the material of my topcoat and I relished the feel until it dawned on me it was broad daylight on a busy San Francisco street.
Mortified by my loss of control, I bolted into the cab and huddled in the corner. The driver grinned at me in the rear view mirror, but it was a friendly smile and I realized he hadn’t seen anything out of the ordinary.
Spade had shielded me and prevented the world and his mother-in-law from seeing what he was doing to my body.
“Back to my place, Chair, and step on it. I don’t have half as much time as I’d like!” He settled back in the seat and watched me as the cabby competently drove the sloping streets of San Francisco, making the turns on two wheels and almost becoming airborne on the top of the hills.
“Take it easy, Chair,” he ordered when he noticed my greenish cast. “I want us there in one piece!”
“Right, Mr. Spade!” The driver agreed easily, but his driving didn’t change that I noticed.
I clamped down on my back teeth, determined to keep my meal in my stomach.
Sam Spade laughed gently and leaned back against the seat.
The elevator was one of those caged affairs that were self-operated. It arrived on the lobby floor of Spade’s building and stood open and he waited patiently in it for me to decide if I wanted to follow him into that tiny box. He didn’t say a word, just lounged there, watching me with those falcon eyes. I was suddenly so hard I ached.
I took a step forward, and then another, and then I was in the elevator, the door sliding closed behind me with a soft shhhhht. I chewed on my lower lip, plumping it, and Spade stared at it avidly.
Not sure what to do with my hands, I stuffed them into the pockets of my topcoat, curling my palms around the butts of the pistols that I carried there. The smooth grips soothed me, and I felt more in control. I stepped further into the cab until I was toe to toe with the gumshoe.
His yellow-grey eyes grew slumberous and sultry, and his lips parted as if to invite my kiss.
This was dangerous. I had to get myself in hand. And then the image that flashed into my mind was of him taking me in hand, reaching into my trousers, taking me out, holding me in his warm palm. I flushed, and then turned pale, an almost soundless gasp stirring the air between our mouths.
I made myself face the front of the elevator, keeping my eyes on the indicator as it moved slowly to the right. I could feel him watching me; it was almost palpable. I wanted to lean back into him, let him slide his hands under my coat, pinching my nipples as I had dreamed, stroking down the front of my body to discover my traitorous flesh.
I tipped my head back and briefly shut my eyes, only just suppressing a needy moan.
He reached around me and jabbed a finger at the stop button. The elevator lurched to a halt. Before I could gather my wits to protest, he had yanked the shoulders of my coat down around my arms, imprisoning me.
I made no move to free myself.
I was shaking visibly, unable to tear my gaze from his mouth, his hard mouth.
He saw how I trembled, and he pressed me back into a corner of the elevator. “Do I scare you, Cookie?” He nuzzled the hinge of my jaw, then drew back to observe my reaction.
I shook my head, barely hearing his words. All I could do was watch the movement of his lips as he spoke. Finally I forced the words out. “Why do you call me Cookie?”
The grin that parted his lips was mocking. “Because you take the cake?”
My eyes jerked up to meet his, and I saw he was mocking me. I struggled to get out of his embrace.
“Because you’re sweet,” he acknowledged ruefully, pulling me back to him. His knee insinuated itself between my thighs. He was taller, and his added height gave him the advantage he needed to rub against my cock. The unbelievable friction brought me to the verge of coming.
And then the light flashed, signaling that someone was calling for the elevator.
Sam Spade swore and adjusted my coat onto my shoulders. He smoothed down the lapels and then fisted his hands in them, pulling me sharply against him. His lips found mine in a soft, tantalizing kiss. His tongue outlined the curve of my lips, traced the seam of my mouth.
I groaned and he took possession of my mouth, his tongue filling me, mapping the contours and textures. I was almost whimpering with need.
We were both breathing hard when he released me, and I sagged weakly against his body. He stabbed at the button and the elevator jolted on in its upward journey.
We got off on his floor and he strode out and down the corridor to his apartment. I followed him stupidly, so shattered by what had happened in the elevator that I didn’t even case the place as I normally would.
Like his personal lap dog, I trailed after him, going through the open door into his sitting room.
“I can’t do this, Spade,” I said to thin air. He was not before me.
I heard a thud, and spun around to see he had kicked the door closed and was twisting the key in the lock.
“You’ll do whatever I want you to, Cookie!” He tossed his suit jacket aside and his fingers went to the tie knotted at his throat. It slid off and joined his jacket. Then he began to work on the buttons of his white cotton shirt.
Even as I was shaking my head in denial of what he wanted from me, I was feverishly shedding my own clothing. My topcoat landed with a solid thunk and he cocked his devil’s eyebrow at the sound my weaponry made as it hit the floor.
Then he grinned and dismissed the possible danger.
His body was lean and hard, and his dusky-tipped arousal was jutting proudly against his flat belly, a drop of precome already oozing from him. My shirt dangled from a wrist, and my trousers gaped open.
Spade stalked toward me, and I backed off, not realizing I was going through his bedroom door until the edge of the bed hit the backs of my knees and I toppled onto it. His grin was a predator’s, and I scrabbled backwards, trying to get away from him, panicked.
And then he was on me, his hands tearing at my clothing, his mouth ravenous on mine.
“Don’t be coy, Precious. Anyone would think you hadn’t done this before!”
“I haven’t!” I cried, frantic now, to get away from this man who was nothing like the one who had kissed me so desperately in the elevator.
He stopped moving. “Angel…”
“Goddammit, don’t call me that! I’m not one of your fucking dolls!”
He stared into my eyes, then groaned and rolled onto his back. “You’re a virgin?”
“I never said that!” I said huffily.
“You’re a virgin!” This time it was a statement. “I’m sorry Cookie.”
Now that he was calling me by a name he didn’t give every dame and doll in San Francisco, I felt able to relax my guard.
“I…just didn’t expect you to jump all over me.”
“What did you expect?”
I shrugged helplessly, watching dry-mouthed as he stroked his hands over his own body. I had never given any thought to the mechanics of the act. I told him as much. “It’s more than my life is worth to even be on this bed with you!”
His hand paused in its pleasuring of himself. “Mind explaining that to me?”
I laughed humorlessly. “If it ever got back to my employer that I was spending the afternoon in another man’s bed, I’d be dead so fast I would barely have time to thank God the boss let me die so easily!”
“Gutman would kill you for this? Isn’t that a trifle… hypocritical for someone like him?”
He cupped my chin to force me to meet those falcon’s eyes, and I could see the exact moment he put two and two together. “The fat man isn’t your employer!”
I shook my head.
“Someone from back east? Someone who thinks what we would do together would be a mortal sin?”
I nodded miserably.
“Do you feel that way too?”
“If I did, do you think I would have let you kiss me? Strip me naked? I’ve given you something to hold over me.”
His eyes were shuttered.
“And if you ever choose to use it, I won’t wind up deader than Thursby, and your partner. But I’ll be just as dead!”
End Part A
To Part B