Copyright on this story text belongs at all times to the original author only, whether stated explicitly in the text or not. The original date of posting to the MMSA was: 29 Oct 2017
Six days later was New Year’s Eve. Mr. Strauss was planning a quiet evening of a light dinner, and a bottle of champaign for the midnight hour, after an early attendance at end-of-year church service.
As he was getting ready to go to the 7 p.m. service, he noticed Mr. Wickham’s car parked, and his apartment door closed. Was the young man not going to celebrate the New Year? he wondered.
Knocking on the apartment door, he called out,
Mr. Wickham? Are you there?
Ye-es, Mr. Strauss, Mark Wickham answered, then walked to open the door and greet his landlord.
Pardon me for meddling, Mr. Wickham, but I was just wondering if you had any plans for New Year’s Eve?
Mark looked pensively at his landlord.
No, sir. I’m just, um, planning on staying in, and, um, a quiet night.
Well, why don’t you join me tonight? We’ll bid the old year farewell, and welcome the new one together. After that, you can spend New Year’s Day in whatever solitude you prefer.
What’re you doing this evening? Mark inquired of his landlord.
Nothing extraordinary, Mr. Wickham. Going to church at 7 for a New Year’s Eve, vesper service, with Eucharist. After that, coming back here for a simple, tasty meal, and watching some hockey, and awaiting
midnight, when we’ll share a taste of the bubbly, before calling it a night in the fold of the New Year,
Mr. Strauss explained.
Sound too tame for you, young man? he asked, looking the sad, slightly slumping, thin, young teacher up and down.
Ah, no,... not really. Are you sure you want me tagging along with you tonight?
Mr. Wickham! Do you think I’d have asked you if I did not? He topped off his rebuke-sounding question with a delayed grin.
Mark felt relieved at the smile.
Okay, I’ll be very happy to join you tonight, sir.
Alright. Go change, and hurry. We’ve got to get going, or we’ll be late. One thing I cannot tolerate is being late, lack of punctuality.
Yes, sir. Mark turned and scurried to his apartment to change his clothes. A few minutes later, he emerged in khaki dress pants, oxford shoes, a long-sleeve dress shirt and tie, and a sweater.
Is it okay? he asked his landlord.
Of course. You clean up fine, young man, he teased. The two men, one older, the other young, got into the older man’s automobile and drove off to St. Chrysostum’s Church.
Around 8:50 that evening, as they were exiting the church, the priest greeted them and wished them a Happy New Year. En route back to Mr. Strauss’ house, Mark asked if they could stop at a liquor store to buy a couple of bottles of champagne.
Mr. Strauss accommodated the wishes of his young tenant. After that, they drove back to the house to park, enter, and stay ensconced for the night.
Once back in the Strauss residence, Mark hurried back to change into a pair of Kentucky basketball shorts, a long-sleeve polo shirt, and in just his socks. He returned to the kitchen to find Mr. Strauss changed into jeans and a long-sleeve shirt.
Mr. Strauss tossed an apron to Mark, instructing him to take over finalizing the vegetables for dinner. Both men collaborated in the kitchen side-by-side to complete quickly the New Year’s Eve dinner.
Dinner was surprisingly simple and tasty, just as Mr. Strauss had said. He had baked two Cornish hens, with a small amount of stuffing; fresh green beans and broccoli, with small Cuban coffees, and two, enormous, freshly whipped, cream-filled pastries.
Mr. Strauss poured them both a glass of Zeller Schwartz Katz, German white wine, with dinner. Mark seemed delighted to be dining so well, and both men took their time enjoying the delicious food. That necessitated a second glass of wine apiece.
By the time they were ready for the dessert, Mark was feeling a bit light-headed. The strong, heavily sweetened, Cuban coffee, with a touch of whipped cream on top, was just the medicine to accompany the glucose-rush, in helping to jolt the young teacher awake.
Before 10 p.m., they settled in the parlour to watch hockey on the big screen TV, Mr. Strauss in a recliner chair, Mark on the large sofa. Both men were quite relaxed, and absorbed in the intensity and speed of the game.
When the game went into an overtime period, Mark shuffled to his feet and hastened back to his apartment to use the bathroom. Returning, he was met by Mr. Strauss telling him he did not have to go to his apartment; he could use a bathroom in the house.
Mark was self-consciously embarrassed, but thanked Mr. Strauss for his kind hospitality. As the overtime period began, Mark settled back on the couch. As the game wound on until a sudden-death score with 2:28 seconds left, Mark felt himself succumbing to the weariness of fatigue.
All at once, it was 11:58 p.m.; he was sprawled on his chest and face on the couch; and Mr. Strauss was shaking him, and shouting,
Wake up, Mark! It’s almost midnight – the New Year. Hurry! Wake up! You’ll miss it!
Mark shook his head, and dragged himself up, onto his feet, head slowly, but stubbornly resistant to clearing.
A champagne glass placed in his hand, full and sparkling and bubbly, his landlord exclaimed,
Happy New Year, Mr. Wickham!
Thuh-ank you, sir. Happy New Year to-ou– you-ou– too! Mark’s exclamation was a bit slushed as he felt himself well below the fully clear-headed mark.
Sit back down, young man, Mr. Strauss directed.
Let’s watch a bit of New Years in various places. He replenished their glasses with more of the champagne Mark had purchased earlier.
They saw New Years in Boston, New York, Toronto, before going on to Chicago, Dallas, and Denver. Over the next 90 minutes, Mr. Strauss emptied both bottles, pouring their equal shares again and again.
They volleyed their comments and talk for quite a while; but Mr. Strauss became aware he was doing all the commenting, which was met with silence. Looking over, he observed his youthful tenant stretched out on his face and stomach on the couch.
His knees bent and skinny legs sticking upward, his thin, basketball shorts surrounded his small, narrow rump. He was out cold, sound asleep.
Getting up, the landlord walked over to the couch, stooped down, and spoke softly to his sleeping tenant.
Time to get up and head off to bed, Mr. Wickham, his voice rustled.
There was no movement, much less response from Mark Wickham. He was deeply asleep. Mr. Strauss placed his hand on the young man’s cervical back, shaking him slightly.
Come on, Mark. I’ll help you up and to your apartment, he spoke his hushed offer.
When it was met with no response or movement, he grasped the young teacher’s right arm, intending to pull him up and off the couch, onto his feet. Instead, the young tenant yanked his arm out of his landlord’s hands, away and under the lanky, slim body splayed on the couch.
Come on, Mark! Mr. Strauss spoke in a stage whisper.
You need to get up, and to your place, into bed. You can sleep it off until late tomorrow.
Once again, he attempted to pull Mark’s right arm out from under his chest. The young man twisted to his right, attempting to frustrate his landlord by keeping his arm under him and remaining spread out sleeping.
The lean, young teacher suddenly raised his head and chest upward, bending convexly backward, his face reflecting the astonished shock of pain registering in his stupefied brain from sharp smacks to his bottom. In frustration to get the attention and compliance of his tenant, Mr. Strauss had rapidly applied his open, rough hand to deliver several, sharp swats to the seat of his dazed, young tenant.
Instead of complying with his landlord’s requests, Mark turned onto his side, his front facing outward, his bottom hidden against the back of the couch. The fact of his bulging woody protuberantly tenting the front of his shorts escaped his consciousness.
Hey! Stop it! Leave me alone! Let me sleep! I just need, want to sleep! Mark called out involuntarily. Unthinkingly, he turned back onto his stomach and chest.
Hey! Ow! Ow! Nooo! Stop it! Ow! Ow! Staaaahp! he cried out again, turning back to project his stiff todger at his landlord, while concealing and protecting his backside against the couch back.
Mr. Strauss moved swiftly for a big man his age. He bent forward, grabbing Mark’s arms and pulling him upward from the couch. At the same time, the older man turn his shoulder in the young man’s abdomen, pulling and lifting him up and over the landlord’s left shoulder.
Mark Wickham was not sufficiently in possession of his faculties to appreciate what had just happened to him; but he did not like dangling, hanging upside down over his landlord’s shoulder.
Starting to wriggle and twist, as if to writhe himself off and out of the position in which he had been placed, he was startled again by more swats to his rearend. Mr. Strauss’ right hand applied a rapid-fire series of 20 or more swats to the rump of the young man upended and suspended over the older man’s shoulder.
Stay still, son, if you don’t want to receive a lot more of these! he barked at Mark. Even in his semi-awake fog, his body and brain complied. He reposed himself jack-knifed over his landlord’s left shoulder, relenting to letting the older man cart him along out of the parlour, down the short hallway, to his apartment door.
In the process of being carried in that fashion, Mark’s own consciousness was intermittent. At the door, Mr. Strauss produced the master key to unlock and open the apartment door.
Stepping inside, he hauled the semi-succumbed, sleeping, slender young man into the partly separate alcove where his bed was located. At the side of the bed, he stooped forward allowing the transported young man to fall backward onto his back and bottom, lying soundly asleep.
Mr. Strauss pulled off Mark’s socks. Reaching to grasp the waistband of the basketball shorts, he pulled them down, lifting the young man’s legs and buttocks.
When he’d tugged the shorts off his sleeping tenant’s bare feet, Mr. Strauss reached up and pulled upward and off the long-sleeve, polo shirt, drawing the young man’s long, lean arms up to remove the shirt. Last to go was the white, snug t-shirt, leaving slumbering Mark Wickham bare, but for his light blue trunk briefs.
Remembering the young teacher had imbibed as much as he had, he considered, he had better get him to the bathroom before leaving him to sleep it all off over a long night. Lifting the lanky, thin and bony young man upward, he pulled him off the bed, and with arms under the youthful tenant’s arms, standing behind him, the landlord steered him along slowly to the bathroom.
In the bathroom, he lifted the toilet cover and seat, stood the dozing tenant in front of it, and slid the young man’s briefs down below his buttocks, freeing his penis to urinate a freely flowing spillage into the bowl. Flushing the toilet, he pulled the briefs back up over the Mark’s bottom, tucking in his boner, before guiding the somnambulant young man, out of the bathroom and back to his bed.
There, Mr. Strauss reached down and lifted the now-limp, young teacher up off his feet, cradled momentarily in his arms, while he placed him back on the bed, on his face and stomach.
He pulled down the bed linens under the young man’s body, before placing them over, the unconscious, young tenant’s lax body. Before leaving, he leaned over and spoke softly into the sleeping young man’s ear.
Happy New Year, Mr. Wickham. Sleep long and well. With that, he turned out all lights, leaving
young Mark Wickham to sleep long and awaken refreshed to the New Year.
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