The piano tuner was quite attractive, his skin looking dark-skinned white or light-skinned black, Charles couldn’t quite determine which. He wore a tight black t-shirt and jeans so tight that no imagination was needed. Adrian, the last piano tuner, had worn dress pants and a button-down shirt, but he supposed young people were dressing more casually these days, and after all, tuning a piano required no uniform.
Charles cleared his throat. “You’re the man from the service?”
The piano tuner smiled. “My name’s Jason,” he said. “Mr. Anderson?”
“Charles will be sufficient,” he said. “Come in.” Adrian had retired, and he’d found himself struggling through the yellow pages, looking for a service that seemed adequate. His piano was so precious to him– the last reminder of the old days he’d chosen to keep– and Adrian had been careful and meticulous; it had been a pleasure to have him in the apartment, and a pleasure to play for him when the work was done. He hoped Jason would at least be adequate.
Jason put his case down and closed the door behind him. “You want the door locked?”
“Mmm, yes,” he said. “The piano’s here, in the living room.”
Jason looked back from the chain with wide, confused eyes. “Piano?”
“Yes,” Charles said, gesturing. Suddenly the language of the ad came back to him with clear, terrifying precision. We’ll handle your instrument with care. “Oh, dear.”
“I.” Jason flushed slightly. “I’m sorry. I–”
Charles bit back his disappointment and let it be overwhelmed with embarrassment instead. “You don’t really tune pianos, do you.”
“I’m. Um. I–”
Charles realized he was staring at Jason’s case with horror.
“Crap, I’m sorry,” Jason said. “Our schedulers are supposed to be really clear…maybe there’s another investigation going on–”
Charles sank into his armchair. “My piano sounds terrible,” he said miserably.
Jason scratched the back of his head. “I’m tone-deaf.”
Charles laughed in spite of himself. “I’m terribly sorry. I should have read the ad more carefully–”
“It’s okay,” Jason sat down, balancing on his case. “It’s happened before. Not to me, but.”
“I’m afraid I’ve wasted your time.”
“Um,” Jason said. “I…they charge. No matter what. They told you that, right?”
In retrospect, they had. “Yes.” Well, that was a hundred and fifty dollars he wouldn’t be seeing again. What a fool he was. An old, naive fool….
“I could. Rub your back or something? You’ve got half an hour.”
Charles rubbed his temples. “How old are you, Jason?”
“I’m twenty-two. Perfectly legal. Well, the age of consent part anyway.” He opened his legs slightly and leaned toward Charles. He was broad-shouldered but not overly so, with wide, bright eyes and thin, sensual lips.
“How on earth did you find yourself doing– this?”
Jason shrugged his shoulders. “Ran away when I was sixteen. Found some good people. They do background checks, make you use rubbers. Helped me get my GED.”
That’s nice for you, Charles thought, but felt foolish for thinking it, much less voicing it. “Perhaps. Perhaps a back rub would be…yes,” he said, at last. “Please.”
Jason grinned and got off the case. “You want to use your bedroom?”
Charles rubbed his hands together. “Yes,” he said. “I’ve…I’ve never done anything of this sort before.”
“It’s cool,” Jason said. “I won’t do anything you don’t want me to, promise.”
“Thank you,” he said, and rose. His bones felt tired, and he felt terribly embarrassed; but Jason seemed kind and patient. A back rub might be pleasant; a human touch, from an attractive young man, would be welcome, really. A pity the circumstances weren’t different, but unavoidable, he supposed. He led the young man to the bedroom and removed his shirt.
He still walked every day, but he knew he was in terrible shape; his chest felt hollow, the skin was marked with moles and covered with thin white hair. The Lord only knew what his back looked like.
Ah, well. The young man had no doubt seen worse. “Your room’s nice,” he said, and Charles smiled.
“Thank you,” he said. “I have made it something of a haven, over the years.” It was also, he realized with a frisson of concern, clearly the room of someone, if not wealthy, quite well-off. The coverlet was Italian design in Egyptian cotton; the artworks were quality, though not trendy; the mirror was in an antique ebony frame.
Jason was rummaging through his case, pulling out a bottle of massage oil. “Should you take the bedspread off?”
“I suppose I should,” he said, and pulled it down. His retirement had been profitable; royalties allowed him these luxuries, the fine coverlet, the expensive sheets. Arthritis had slowed his hands from performing, but he could still play, and it hurt him to think of the piano out of tune.
He would have to call someone else, later.
Jason was still looking at him, waiting.
“Oh,” he said, and sat on the bed. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s cool. A lot of guys are nervous. You want me to take my shirt off?”
Charles looked at Jason. He was certainly an attractive young man. And…well. In for a penny, in for a pound, he supposed “Yes. Please.”
Jason smiled. He seemed more at ease peeling his shirt off. His chest was well-muscled, not quite a bodybuilder’s, but quite attractive, to be sure.
“Should I lie down, then?”
“It would be easier, if that’s all right with you.”
He felt terribly vulnerable, but he laid on his stomach, and stiffened a little as he heard the case unsnap, felt Jason’s weight on the bed.
Jason was warm, and his hands were muscular and strong. “You okay?”
“Yes,” he said. “It’s…unusual, I suppose.”
“You have anybody?”
Charles thought about it. “I…not for a long while.” Jason’s fingers were long and slender. “I mean. I have family, and friends, but–”
“Yeah,” Jason said. “It’s hard, finding someone.”
The sheets were warming under his stomach. “I didn’t think– escorts…dated.”
“I get a couple nights a week off. I’ve been with them a while, so I get some…choices.” He must’ve put some kind of lotion or cream on his fingers; they slid gently over Charles’ skin.
Charles was, for some unplaced reason, glad to hear. Jason’s touch was lovely, and Charles tried not to respond to it too much. Just a massage, he reminded himself.
“I am. Arthritis, I’m afraid.”
“Make sure I don’t hurt you, okay?”
“Thank you,” Charles said. “But your hands are very gentle.”
“Thanks. So what did you do, Charles?”
“I was a pianist,” he said. “Classical. I’m afraid it’s quite dull.”
“Doesn’t sound dull to me,” Jason said. His thighs were touching Charles’. “Sounds beautiful.”
Charles smiled into the bed. “It was, at times.”
“I’m glad.” Jason’s hand dipped down to Charles’ waistband. “Mind if I–”
“I…” He bit his lower lip. “No. If you’d like to.”
Rationally, he knew Jason was a prostitute, that he had done things like this a thousand times, that this was as commonplace to him as getting up and doing scales was to Charles. But his heart still picked up as Jason’s hands ghosted across his skin. He lifted his body slightly so Jason could unbutton his pants; he shuddered slightly as Jason slid them down, with his boxers, rough against his erection. Warm, slick hands crossed his buttocks, and Charles felt his already compromised ethics struggling with his desire.
“Tell me more,” Jason said. “What did you like to play?”
“Chopin,” he said, feeling like he was telling secrets. “The mazurkas most of all. They weren’t the most challenging, but…they spoke to me.”
“He was Polish, right?”
Charles smiled into the pillow. “He was. His heart is in a church in Warsaw, in a case. I went and saw it once. The case.”
Jason’s soothing hands stilled for a moment. “Why– why’d they do that?”
“He was buried in Paris, but they wanted his heart in his homeland.” Jason’s hands touched him again, so intimate; Charles sucked in breath and tried not to enjoy it too much. “Some of his friends brought a jar of dirt to Paris and sprinkled it on the grave, so he would be buried under Polish soil.”
“Huh.” Jason leaned his body closer to Charles’. “That’s kind of sweet. Not the heart bit, the dirt.”
Charles chuckled. “Yes. It was a kindness. And they were patriots– Poland was never well-respected in Europe.”
Jason laughed, and Charles could feel his body move. “What’s changed, huh?”
“I suppose not much, no.” Charles closed his eyes for a moment. “Jason.”
“Yeah?” He could hear the smile.
“Might you– could you….”
“Whatever you want,” Jason said. His voice was very soft.
“Please,” Charles asked, and he was grateful his face was hidden in the sheets. “Please…touch me.”
“Course,” Jason said, and his fingers sunk lower, and Charles shuddered. It had been some time. Jason was gentle, and his fingers were slender and cautious. Charles found his breath picking up. “Good?”
“Yes,” Charles breathed, as Jason slid in a second finger. “Oh, yes.”
Retired he might be, but Charles would always be a musician. He appreciated rhythm, tension, artistry; and Jason was an artist, that was certain. His fingers teased, stretched, caressed; he leaned in close, and his breath ghosted against Charles’ bare shoulder. Charles curled his fingers into the pillow and tried to breathe evenly.
“I could…I have condoms, if you want.”
Charles held his breath for a moment. He wanted; he wanted very much. Jason was beautiful, and his hands were wonderful and he very much wanted….
“No,” he said, reluctantly. “Just…just touch me, please.”
“Do you want to turn over?” Jason asked. “And look at me?”
He did. Moving– especially with Jason’s perfect, slender fingers moving out of him– was a bit of a challenge, but Jason took his arm with his free hand, and helped him lie on his stomach. Jason smiled at him, supportive and warm. “You want me to take off my pants?”
“Please,” Charles said softly, and Jason’s hand sunk to his waistband. The outline of his erection was clear against his pants. He unbuttoned his jeans slowly, almost lovingly, and Charles could see the dark public hair against his skin. No underwear; of course.
His skin was amazing; clear and smooth, the color of dark honey. Charles watched as his lighter cock was freed; it was large, uncircumcised, hard. “Oh,” Charles said. “Oh.”
Jason’s smile took on a rougish note. “You like?”
“You are lovely,” Charles said. “Oh.”
Jason was on his knees, smiling. He reached over and stroked Charles’ face, gently. “Thanks.”
Charles turned his face into Jason’s touch and let his lips brush against Jason’s palm. “Is kissing–?”
Jason laughed and kissed him. His mouth was soft and sweet; breath mints were probably part of the job, he speculated, but then forced himself to stop. There was a lovely man kissing him. He did not need to think of anything more than that.
He pulled Jason closer, and soon they were lying together, skin touching skin, that warm, perfect erection dangerously close to Charles’ own. Jason licked at his ear and moved his fingers back in Charles’ body, more sure of himself this time, sliding directly in and then–
“Oh,” Charles gasped. “Oh, dear heaven–”
Jason put a leg over Charles’ and moved their bodies closer, wrapping his fingers around Charles’ cock with his free hand. He stroked him slowly, lovingly, never seeming to mind the wrinkled, aging skin, and Charles felt so grateful, so overwhelmingly fortunate. Despite his age, his orgasm came too quickly, too briefly, and he found himself panting gratitude into Jason’s skin, his face against Jason’s muscled shoulder.
“You okay?” Jason asked, when his heart had stilled somewhat.
“I…yes. Yes. Thank you.”
“You mind if I–” Jason gestured to his erection.
“Oh. No. Of course.”
Jason finished, his hand moving quickly, and Charles all but held his breath as he came. So very lovely, and young. The money he had paid hardly compensated for this.
“Thank you,” he said. “You’re…thank you.”
“Hey,” Jason said. “It’s my job. Let’s clean you up, huh?”
There were towels in Jason’s case, and wet cloths, and Jason took to that work as professionally and gently as he’d touched Charles.
He would have held Jason, but he was well aware of the time, and with the madness of his passion fading, he was well aware of the professional nature of their encounter. Charles dressed quickly while Jason was putting his own clothing on; he was embarrassed now, ashamed. He’d paid a prostitute for sex. He’d never thought he–
“You okay?” Jason’s eyes were very wide and very dark.
“I. Yes. I’m fine.”
He swallowed. “I’m sorry about the piano.”
Charles wondered how many men threw Jason out after things were finished, and felt even further ashamed. “It’s all right. It’s a big city. I’ll find someone.”
“My boss has a piano. I can ask him.”
“That…that would be kind of you,” he said. “Can you…would you come again, if I asked for you?”
Jason’s sweet smile covered his face again. “I’d love to, yeah. You’re nice.”
“How much time do we–”
“I’m out,” Jason said. “But…if you want me to stay for coffee or something, I don’t have another appointment for an hour.”
“That–” Charles felt his own face smiling. “That would be lovely.”
“Would you– could you play for me?”
The piano sounded terrible. But Jason had already said he was tone deaf. “I’d love to.”