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In Love Worlds Afar

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At first, John automatically assumed he'd fly back to England. However, once arrived in Singapore, John changed his mind in the last minute, when he fell into conversation with two Americans who were headed for New York. John was offered a ride with a cargo ship headed for Hawaii instead of going back to Europe. There was no point in rushing home. He didn't have a job or a home to come back to yet. He had in fact some distant family in New York he could visit. Why not try something he otherwise would never experience?

"New York..." John was already looking forward to it when he boarded the ship.

Travelling across the pacific was a tedious time consuming hassle, but eventually John arrived in Honolulu. He was told he only had twenty-four hours to recoup before his plane was due for the United States. Everything was getting into place nicely. Due to his status, he was allowed to bunk in an American military base camp for the night. He wired his family from there.

Rested and eager to move on, John continued his journey by plane. It was a small private plane that would bring him directly to New York, but he could afford it.

A few hours before the scheduled landing, the plane experienced some trouble with the fuel tank, and the captain had to make a safe emergency landing at the brand new airport in Franklin County, Virginia. A place in a small community none of the passengers had ever heard of before.

Everybody was a little shook up by the experience as they left the plane and was handed their luggage.

Still far from the target, John found out that the next regularly scheduled flight to New York was in a week. The damage to the fuel tank was that severe, and the eleven passengers would have to find lodgings in town. John wired his family from the airport about what had happened. He informed them that he would arrive later than planned. Just in case more delays turned up unexpectedly, he left out when exactly he would arrive. The plane ticket was still valid for when he could continue his flight next week. He decided to keep it in his jacket for easy access.

The passengers were sent to the coffee shop just outside of the airport where they were told to wait for the local hotel owner to come and estimate how many passengers she could accommodate that the rooms to hire at the airport itself couldn’t.

Sitting alone at a table, John looked around. He foresaw this couldn’t take more than half an hour. He longed for a bed to sleep in. The flight hadn’t been comfortable at all. There was little space for people with long legs and he’d been cramped in his window seat.

He ordered a sandwich at some point because he hadn’t eaten since the plane took off from Hawaii. Under the circumstances, John thought it would have been the proper thing to do for the airline to offer something to eat, but there had been no initiative at all.

His thoughts were still rooted in Borneo. Now that he was gone, he missed the people and the work. He missed Belansai, but his native lover would be a fond memory now, and the thought made him smile to himself already. During his journey toward Hawaii, John was certain there had been several men watching him that particular way - now that he knew what to look for. But even if John had been tempted to explore his sexuality some more, he was surrounded by Westerners and didn’t dare risking being caught in an illegitimate dalliance.

Looking around, John watched the other passengers and how they coped. His travel companions were two families with children, two young couples and three elder citizens. Even here, he swore one of the young husbands had been given him a quick glance, and John felt a spark of mutual interest to him. It was positively laughable how oblivious he’d been before coming to Borneo. Never having put together the thought that men would be sizing him up for anything else but how equal he was in a fight. Or how successful John would have been in conquering their love interest, which traditionally would be a woman. John had been beaten a few years ago when some drunken fellow thought he was coming on to the fiancée. The thought hadn’t even crossed John’s mind but he’d learned a lesson nevertheless to not let his gaze wander.

Now, it was the other way around. The wives should worry about John coming on to their husbands, but John doubted they had no clue that this kind of attraction between men even existed. John glanced at the young man. Imagine marrying his wife even if he wasn’t attracted to her sexually.

Some people arrived, and everyone looked up in the hopes that the announced quartering was going to take place now. Amongst those people was in fact the hotel owner, who quickly began informing which kind of rooms she had available and at what price.

Being the gentleman John was brought up to be, he let everyone else pick before him. Being on his lonesome self, he felt they needed the beds more than he did. Of course in the end, there were no rooms available for John. He wondered if fate was simply out to get him, and perhaps he should just return home to London as was his original plan.

“Do you mind if I join your table?” a quiet yet authoritative voice interrupted his fickled thoughts.

John looked up and took in the person who had spoken. It was a man dressed in a comfortable cardigan and soft leather hat and John couldn't see why he shouldn’t be allowed a seat. He didn’t own the place even if by now they were surrounded by plenty of empty seats. John looked at him for a few more moments and then nodded tiredly. “If you’d like.”

The man sat down across from John and looked around as if he was just seeing the coffee shop for the first time. Then he placed a package on the table, and put his hat on top of it. “I’ve seen you being nice to everybody else in here, but when it came to your turn nobody cared to help you finding lodgings.”

John felt the words hitting home uncomfortably close but he was right. Nobody had showed John the same courtesy. “I suppose there is some truth in that,” he said inadequately.

The man hummed and looked at John with an intensity he wasn’t used to. Then he looked away for a few moments clearly gathering words to express why he’d addressed John in the first place. Looking back, he said, “Say... I have a place a few miles from here. I’d like to show you that we have hospitality in abundance around here. Not those selfish people who travelled with you will be sleeping that good tonight.”

John was a little confused. “I’m sorry...? You’re offering me...?”

“Hospitality. And a home cooked meal.”

Worn out, John laughed at the absurdity, the sheer surreal luck. “This is very kind of you. I was beginning to imagine what seven nights sleeping on this floor would feel like.”

The man’s kind eyes crinkled in what could be a smile.

Quickly warming up to the idea of sleeping in a real bed tonight, John had a few questions to ask. “How far is your... place? I need to be back in a week.”

“It’s only a half an hour drive. I can bring you back here personally.”

“You have a car?”

“I have a car.”

That took care of the rest of John’s questions. Besides, he didn’t have alternative options and his stomach started an upsetting rumbling dance. Recognising this as another moment to forego precautions in favour of his survival instinct, John made a decision that even if he didn’t know this stranger; he instinctively felt he could trust him. This was an opportunity he would regret not taking. “In that case, I accept, Mr...?”

“Bondurant. Forrest Bondurant.”

John thrust his hand toward Mr. Bondurant who grabbed his in a friendly squeeze. “John Truscott,” John responded in kind, grateful of the observant stranger’s proposition.

“Come with me, Mr. Truscott,” the man said and indicated with his head for John to follow him out of the coffee shop. “Have you had anything to eat?” he asked.

Getting up, John nodded and blushed. “Oh my lord, I forgot the bill. How embarrassing.”

“Put that coffee on my tab, Flora,” Mr. Bondurant suddenly called to the waitress who waved back at him.

“Sure thing, Forrest,” she said.

“Let’s go then, Mr. Truscott.”

John smiled, “I’ll pay you... only I fear I don’t have any dollars...”

“Not important now, Mr. Truscott. We should head back.”

“All right then,” John smiled.

“You carry many bags,” Mr. Bondurant noticed as he picked up two while having his own parcel squeezed under his arm.

“Well, yes. Sorry about that. I come almost directly from Borneo. They seemed necessary at the time,” John apologised and picked up the rest of his luggage.

They stepped outside and John followed Mr. Bondurant who strode towards a truck loaded with wooden crates. John’s bags were placed on top of the lot to the right.

“Don’t mind the crates, Mr. Truscott. I have a small delivery round to make before we hit home.”

“You’re a delivery man?” John asked interested, as he got himself comfortable next to Mr. Bondurant on the front seat.

“I sure am. I have a lot of... customers here. Around and...” Mr. Bondurant set the small truck into motion and the two men left the premises.

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As the vehicle took them to several obscure properties in the county, the crates bumped together on the truck body revealing that they contained glass ware.

“What are you selling?” John asked politely.

“You really wanna know?” Mr. Bondurant asked casting him a glance.

“I’m obviously not minding my own business. That was rude of me. I apologise,” John quickly said. He and sarcasm had never agreed very well.

Mr. Bondurant hummed amused and said, “I deal in whisky. Pure and simple. It’s not a secret, Mr. Truscott. Everybody around these parts knows and we like it that way. Brings in more customers. We get by.”

“And who are we?” John dared to ask looking at Mr. Bondurant’s manly profile.

“My family. You’ll meet them soon enough.” Then the truck stopped as some individual standing on the side of the road stepped forward, intent on doing business with Mr. Bondurant.

John sat quietly and observed what was happening. When the crates had changed hands and money had been paid, John saw the little self-satisfied smirk on Mr. Bondurant’s face. He pulled forth a cigar and offered it to John who refused.

“N-no thank you. But I appreciate the gesture,” he hurriedly added.

They sat quietly for a while with John occasionally coughing.

“Does the smoke bother you?” Mr. Bondurant asked indicating his head toward John.

“A bit,” John said, not sure if he would offend his host or not.

“I smoke a lot of cigars,” Mr. Bondurant admitted. “We make a lot of money so why not enjoy good Cubans?”

“Seems reasonable,” John said and coughed some more.

Mr. Bondurant inhaled more smoke deeply and then suddenly stubbed the cigar and threw the rest out of the window.

John looked away embarrassed. “I’m so sorry that I’m the cause...”

“Relax, Mr. Truscott. If the smoke is a nuisance to you, I’ll simply refrain from smoking in your presence. Besides, there’s more where that came from. Moon shining pays well,” Mr. Bondurant said.

John nodded acknowledging Mr. Bondurant’s considerate gesture. “Alcohol is not allowed in this country, if I recall correctly,” he said conversationally.

“You do recall correctly, sir.” A smile blossomed on Mr. Bondurant’s face making John stare stupefied at him for a few moments. That smile completely changed the man’s face and took off quite a few years of his appearance. John had thought the man pushing his forties. That was not the case. He looked John’s age, and he was handsome when he smiled.

Realising he was staring at the man, John looked out of the side window. This was not a good time to become excited about seeing a man he liked, but John wasn’t prepared for Mr. Bondurant to suddenly attract him physically.

Shortly after, another shady looking fellow stepped out from the side of the road, eager to do business with Mr. Bondurant.

“Whoa. That would be Mr. Shaw,” Mr. Bondurant said and stopped the truck with a little more drama than John thought necessary.

“Who have we here, Forrest?” Mr. Shaw asked taking a good look at John who immediately understood what the man was implying. However, there was nothing that John thought drawing about this individual. To avoid the man’s beady nosy eyes and further attention, John demonstratively looked away.

“None of your business, Rodney,” Mr. Bondurant replied. “Just a house guest for the week travelling through.”

“Looks mighty citified, don’t he?” Mr. Shaw said.

“And you would know, wouldn't you?” Mr. Bondurant said icily. “Here’s the usual. Pay up.”

John noticed the subtle way Mr. Bondurant stuck his hand in his pocket and withdrew something. When his hands gathered on his back, John detected a brass knuckle. John quickly looked at Mr. Shaw, but he didn’t look like he felt threatened. If Mr. Bondurant found it necessary to take drastic precautions, John knew better than to put himself in the middle of it.

Moments later, money was exchanged and Mr. Bondurant tipped his hat mumbling something like ‘till next time.

“Later Forrest,” Mr. Shaw said and smiled knowingly when John couldn't help looking at him one last time. John felt a little filthy and couldn't wait for his host to drive on.

“That’s it. We’re heading home,” Mr. Bondurant said as he set the truck in motion. Mr. Bondurant didn’t have much variety in the way the soft spoken lilt he used and still got his point across. John liked the tone of his voice. A bit gritty but honey gentle even when he had been stern toward Mr. Shaw.

“Finally,” John allowed himself to say. Then something came to mind. “Say, weren’t you worried someone might steal from you while you were at the airport?” John asked, mentally shaking away the unpleasant feeling of Mr. Shaw’s lecherous attention.

“No,” Mr. Bondurant said as his hands gently grabbed the steering wheel. John’s eyes noticed and he found that he liked the man’s hands and steady fingers.

“Nobody’s stolen from us. So far at least...” Mr. Bondurant added after a moment.

“That’s... that’s marvellous, I suppose,” John said and hated the fake enthusiasm he put in his voice. The pleaser voice indoctrinated in him from early childhood kicked in unexpectedly. The boring ways of civilisation had its way of creeping back sooner than later once one returned to society, he had to admit. The ridicule of Belansai, Selima, and the rest of the natives of Sarawak seemed so far away already now John was back in civilisation... As close to anyway.

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At last, they reached their destination and a large cottage with a filling station in the front soon became visible at the end of the road. As soon as the truck stopped, Mr. Bondurant stepped out and a woman showed herself in the door before she came down and greeted them.

“Maggie,” Mr. Bondurant said with a polite nod and Maggie gathered her scarf around her shoulders. John nodded, too but didn’t say anything. The woman took a thorough look at him and John felt like a child under her scrutinising gaze. She reminded him unpleasantly of Selima.

“And who might you be?” she asked nearing John and Mr. Bondurant who stood still watching what was going on.

“I’m... Truscott. John Truscott,” John said and stuck out his hand. A few moments later, he felt awkward and put his hand in his pocket instead, when Maggie hadn’t made any indication to shake it.

“Mr. Truscott is our guest until the next flight to New York can take him home next week,” Mr. Bondurant said, and John sensed a challenge in his voice somewhere.

“Oh...” Maggie said and John sensed a hint of shame colouring her cheeks, when she realised she’d been rude to a guest of the house.

“Maggie runs this place. She can handle herself.”

“Does she carry a weapon, too?” John couldn’t help asking.

“Like I said, she can handle herself,” was all Mr. Bondurant elaborated.

“That makes perfect sense then,” John said, and Mr. Bondurant hummed like he appreciated the sentiment. Mr. Bondurant went behind the truck and began to unload John’s suitcases.

“That’s everything I believe, Mr. Truscott?” Mr. Bondurant said focusing his intense stare at John.

John nodded and smiled. “Thank you, Mr. Bondurant.” He reached for some of his belongings and gathered his coat across his arm. The weather was hot and slightly humid. He longed to freshen up and change his shirt.

Maggie stepped closer to Mr. Bondurant, as he hefted up some of John’s luggage.

“Did you get those products for me, Forrest?”

“I did. I always do, Maggie. They’re in the front seat,” Mr. Bondurant said and cocked his head toward the truck.

“Thank you, Forrest,” she replied softly and went to fetch the parcel.

“You’re welcome, Maggie.”

Watching the exchange between the two, John imagined Mr. Bondurant and Maggie might have a thing going on between them. However, Mr. Bondurant hadn’t introduced Maggie as his wife, so...

The intimacy of the relationship between the two of them was subtle maybe even invisible on Mr. Bondurant’s part, though much more noticeable on Maggie’s.

Entering the house, John looked around curiously. The front of the house served as a saloon with a long wooden desk to provide the station’s thirsty customers. There were none at this point of the day, but a gathering of dirty dishes and utensils indicated that there had been.

“We offer coffee, and Maggie’s cooking. Mostly people are buying coffee,” Mr. Bondurant said.

“It looks...” John commented, but he didn’t quite know what to think about the spartan looking saloon and left his remark unfinished. Mr. Bondurant didn’t seem to notice and went past the room toward a door. Behind it was a staircase and John followed until he was told not to.

“This room is vacant,” Mr. Bondurant said and pointed toward a door. Grabbing the round handle, he let John take a look at the place.

“You’re very kind, Mr. Bondurant,” John said, as he stepped inside. Slowly, he put his suitcases on the floor to where Mr. Bondurant had dropped those he’d carried.

“I’ll leave you to it then. Dinner’s usually at six. Maggie don’t appreciate tardiness.”

“Of course not,” John quickly assured him.

The man seemed to linger for a few moments. His eyes glanced around the walls before they rested on John. Then he nodded as if he hadn’t realised he was still standing there and left with a hum. John stood back in the quiet room not knowing what to do now. Then he looked around and tried to see what Mr. Bondurant had seen. The walls were paper hung in a small flowery pattern. No carpet but there was a circular greenish throw rug in front of the bed. John grabbed a suitcase, put it on the bed, and opened it. Wrinkling his nose, he noticed a distinct travel odour coming from his clothes. He wondered if he overstepped some boundaries if he asked Miss Maggie to wash them for him. He would have to ask Mr. Bondurant about the matter not to make a fool of himself. Selima had chastised him not to assume that service appeared magically, just because he was a man.

After changing his shirt, he wanted to get a better feel of the place. He left his room and stepped out in the small corridor. He noticed more doors further back and a few toward the staircase. It made him wonder how many people were actually living here. Mr. Bondurant did mention he had family. Did they all live here with their families, or was it just him and Maggie? The house seemed quite big from the outside, but even bigger once you got inside.

Resisting prying, John headed to the stairs and came down into the saloon. He found Maggie there and he nodded in greeting. Then he discovered she had a baby on her arm. A charming little baby. John hadn’t expected that and instantly, he understood that Mr. Bondurant had to be the father and that they’d had the baby out of wedlock. John could imagine the complications that would cause in a small community like Franklin County. It explained some questions but also raised others that John had no business asking.

“Hello,” he said testing waters and smiled. He was shortly distracted, when the door went up and a couple of men came in and found a table. John’s eyes went back to Maggie.

“Hello, Mr. Truscott,” Maggie replied and looked at the men who watched them back.

“Hello, Miss...?” John wasn’t sure she wanted him to call him Maggie, but she just shook her head.

“Miss Beaufort, but call me Maggie. We’re not so formal among ourselves.”

“All right. In that case you can...” John began to say.

“No. You’ll be Mr. Truscott until I know you better,” Maggie interrupted.

The men chuckled in the background. John closed his mouth and smiled awkwardly. Women always made him feel awkward. Well, confident women. Cecil hadn’t made him feel awkward, but then she hadn’t made him feel much of anything. It was apparant that Miss Maggie believed in proper behaviour and civil virtues, even if she herself had allowed another man to get her with child. But who was he to talk, really? Everything came back to him in a rush, like it did several times a day. The particular night he spent with Belansai. How debauched and ungentleman-like he’d behaved, and how he’d letting himself enjoy it. He’d let Belansai do unmentionable things to him, and he’d done them to Belansai in kind. He wondered briefly if there were men who did that sort of thing in secrecy here in rural Virginia, but not in a million years would he ever ask any of the manly blokes he’d met here so far. He was certain he’d get killed for even insinuating if they had sex with other men.

Self-conscious about his face reflecting his inner thoughts, he looked away from Maggie and coughed.

“I was wondering where Mr. Bondurant is?”

“Which one?” Maggie asked, but he could tell she knew perfectly well whom he was referring to.

“Sorry. I’ve only met... one of them.”

“Forrest is outside.”

“Thanks.”

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Hurrying out to escape her sarcasm, John located Forrest Bondurant with a couple of men and he went to join them. He could tell the talk quieted immediately and embarrassed, he realised that they probably didn’t want his company. Awkward as usual, he scratched the back of his neck and turned to walk in another direction when someone called out.

“You can stay, Mr. Truscott.”

John turned again. A young fresh faced man made a ‘come here’ motion with his hand and John went back to them.

“Didn’t know if I...”

“No-no...” Mr. Bondurant said. “Let me introduce you. This is Jack - my younger brother. That’s Howard - my older brother. This is Cricket, and Harry – a neighbour, and that’s... Li’l Harry - not related.”

John shook hands with them all. “And... you’re all staying here? Living here?”

The men laughed, as if John had said something funny. Jack shook his head. “Nah – I wouldn’t wanna live with these guys. Got my own place. Got married recently.”

“Oh...” John shrugged a little helplessly. “Many happy returns.”

“Thanks. So it’s just Forrest and Maggie... and Billy jr.,” Jack clarified. “Was a surprise Forrest invited you to stay, mind you,” Jack said sounding genially surprised. “He never invites people to his home. And you’re not even from around here, I can tell.”

John wasn’t sure how to interpret that and smiled disarmingly. “No. I’m from England. Originally anyway, but your brother was kind to offer and I was desperate for a place to stay before the next plane for New York leaves from here.”

Jack looked at him like it was still rather strange. “It’s still very unusual.”

John cast a brief glance at Forrest, but his host was positively exasperated at the attention his kind unusual act received from his younger sibling.

Jack didn’t say anything else on the matter and looked expectantly at the others. “We have some loading to attend to?”

Apparently, they had a fresh batch of whiskey ready to be distributed.

“Drive carefully,” Mr. Bondurant said, as the goods were safely loaded on the truck and the men ready to go.

“Two in one day?” John asked.

“Yeah. I was delaying the delivery because I had to pick up something from the airport,” Forrest said.

For Maggie... John knew right away. He found it interesting that Billy jr. wasn’t named after his dad. Forrest jr. would have been the logic choice, but then it dawned on John that Forrest might not be Billy’s dad after all.

Forrest went back inside the house and John followed.

“I met Billy jr.,” John said.

“Yeah. Small kid. Needs special diet. Maggie won’t... you know... herself.”

No, John didn’t know but he could imagine that Forrest was referring to breast feeding. “On Borneo... I saw men feeding babies... you know. Like women,” John replied.

Forrest looked at John for a few moments before he cracked a rare smile. “Really? Interesting. Hm.”

They entered the saloon and Maggie was standing by the window with the baby, but she wasn’t paying attention to it. The baby was crying its little heart out, and Forrest immediately went to take it from her. She didn’t seem to notice. The men still sitting at the table, sent annoyed looks Maggie’s way. It made perfect sense; a baby had nothing to do in a saloon.

“Perhaps we should tend to dinner, Maggie?”

Maggie didn’t answer but went toward the staircase and left them.

“Anything I can do?” John asked.

“Come with me to the pantry and could you hold him?” Forrest asked.

“Yes... I’m...” Hurriedly he followed Forrest to the pantry in another direction when they went to the staircase once more. They stepped into a much homelier and much smaller kitchen next to the staircase.

“Just make sure you don’t drop him. He’ll be fine.”

John grabbed the baby and tried to remember how Ti Hou had carried a child. He rocked the child subtly as he watched Forrest survey the contents of the pantry. “Forrest... do you mind if I call you Forrest?” John hurriedly asked.

“Not at all. You can call me Forrest. My dad was Mr. Bondurant. Clears the lines of communication,” Forrest said and turned half to look at John.

“Fine. Call me John then,” John said.

Forrest nodded and returned his attention to the pantry. John came and stood next to him.

“Is the child sick?”

“Bill is... Billy is smaller than he should be, but Maggie...” Forrest shrugged. “I don't know. She’s gotten strange ever since he was born.”

“How strange?” John couldn't help asking.

Forrest stalled before he leaned closer to John. “She’s not right in the head. She used to be sharp. Always having an opinion about everything. Scolding me and my brothers. Now she don’t care.”

“Can’t you just give him something to eat?”

“Too soon. Stomach is not ready for real food yet.”

“Ah...” John said. What a pity. “Will he be all right?”

“I was hoping one of the neighbour wives could help us out, but... Billy is born out of wedlock. They don't care to give us a hand.”

“Unbelievable. So you have to get the special diet for him?”

“Don’t seem to make any difference.”

“I’m sorry,” John said.

“Hmm,” Forrest hummed. Then he seemed to have found what he was looking for, because he picked some things and went to heat up the stove.

John went and sat down at the table and watched the man work. He was still carrying the small baby and he looked at his divine little face. “He’s lovely.”

Forrest stopped his motions and then hummed his thanks. He made something for the baby and John didn’t mind feeding it to the child.

“Men breast feeding, huh?” Forrest said after having watched John for a few moments.

John chuckled. “Yes. Imagine that? I couldn’t believe it.”

“And it worked?”

John looked up. “Yes. I saw the milk with my own two eyes.”’

“And this was a man?” Forrest asked clearly to make sure he heard John right.

“Unquestionably true,” John said.

Forrest didn’t ask any more questions and went to start supper. This task didn’t take long, and Forrest’s comment on Maggie managing the place must have been redundant by now. Obviously, she didn’t cope these days and when Forrest went to bring her a tray, he came down with the rejected food.

John had politely waited to begin eating until Forrest had returned. It would have been impolite to let the man eat alone while John had finished his meal. Forrest took the baby from John after he’d poured food onto a plate. Sitting with the small baby resting in one seemingly strong arm, he operated a fork with the other hand. Occasionally, he’d cut into the food with a knife, but other than that, he handled himself quite well; bearing witness to a repeated pattern.

The food was a good, simple fulfilling meal, and John was grateful he’d accepted Forrest’s hospitable offer. Afterwards, John realised how tired he was. The travel and everything he’d experienced so far came down on him, and he could barely keep his eyes open.

“I’m going to have to excuse myself. I’m afraid I’m not worthy of any company.”

“Hmmm,” Forrest said.

“Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.”

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John went up the stairs and quickly used the bathroom. Then he found his room and after a small internal debate chose to put on his pyjamas. He couldn’t remember when he’d used it the last time. He had only worn them the first few nights in Borneo. After he begun sleeping with Selima, he’d dropped them all together. In Virginia it was also warm, and he would have been the most comfortable if he’d slept naked. However, this wasn’t his bed and he imagined it was impolite not to cover up his body.

John had just entered that perfect place where he was dreaming, when he was interrupted by the sounds of Forrest coming up the stairs. His host went inside one room and closed the door. John turned on his left side and put his hands under his cheek. He was tired but the sounds of Forrest mulling about in his room stopped him from falling asleep again. The creaking noises of a bed indicated that Forrest had literally gone to bed and John closed his eyes.

A few minutes after, he heard another door open and light footsteps were heard in the corridor. John wondered what was happening. It was probably Maggie needing the bathroom, but then he heard another door open, and John opened his eyes. That was the door Forrest had used. Maggie was going to Forrest’s room.

John got up on his arm and his sense of hearing intensified in the dark.

“Maggie...” John heard Forrest murmur.

“Forrest...” Maggie moaned and John couldn’t believe he was forced to overhear that.

“Maggie... not a good time... you should go back to bed.”

“I need you,” Maggie whimpered.

“Maggie...” Forrest said, and he sounded distinctly like he was trying to talk some sense in to her. “Billy...”

“Just once, Forrest. I’ll be quick,” Maggie said in a desperate voice.

“Maggie...” Forrest said, his voice close to a warning, but then there was a sound that reminded John of someone having the air punched out of them, and Forrest groaned painfully.

The bed was creaking rhythmically now, and John was appalled by the images that came to him of what plausibly happened in the room across from him.

“Maggie...” Forrest hissed but the woman continued.

“Won’t be long now. Won’t be long. Just... I’ll be all you’re thinking of...”

“Maggie... this is futile.”

“Please, Forrest.... just...”

John pressed both hands to his ears. He didn’t want to overhear her completion.

A few minutes went by, and John lessened the pressure from his ears and he listened intensely for signs that Maggie was done.

“Go back to bed, Maggie,” he thought he heard Forrest prompt her, and not long after the door opened and Maggie left Forrest’s bedroom.

He’s just like me, John thought. With the lack of chemistry from Forrest’s part it would make sense. Forrest rustled a bit in his bed obviously trying to get comfortable after the nightly visit. John turned on his right side and drifted to sleep.