“I can’t believe we’re going to New York – going to New York together.” Henry exclaimed as we waited to board our flight from Omaha to New York. We were standing together, side-by-side, waiting for our flight to be called. I wanted more than anything to hold Henry’s hand, but we were still in Omaha and while we might have gotten away with showing our affection for each other in New York, Omaha was another story.
It had been three weeks since the Memorial Day weekend barbecue, and as much as I’d have liked to have celebrated our relationship with reckless abandon, the reality was something else. Even though we’d slept in the same bed ever since then, we’d barely had the time to make out and give each other hand jobs, let alone do more. It turned out that switching Henry’s matriculation wasn’t automatic, and he’d had to submit new application forms, take online exams and scramble to line up support letters and the like – all on a moment’s notice. The result was a series of late nights and all-nighters and a lot of frustration, particularly when Henry fell asleep in the middle of an attempt at intimacy.
For my part, accepting the new position at Applazon in New York involved a hell of a lot more than simply saying ‘yes’. Terms of the offer needed to be discussed, specifics negotiated, contracts reviewed by attorneys, both theirs and mine, and tons of ‘paperwork’ submitted online. Once all of that was completed, we needed to arrange a ‘house-hunting’ trip to the city so Henry and I could look at places to live. However, setting up the trip turned out to be much more difficult than I’d anticipated.
“If we’re going to be living together, you have to be involved in the search for a place to live,” I said. “The move is permanent and I’d prefer to buy if we can find someplace suitable. Why furnish a rental, only to have to try to shoehorn furnishings designed to fit one space into another? Why not buy an apartment we could grow into? Why not try to find a place we love?”
“I still feel a bit guilty for not paying my way,” Henry replied.
“Applazon’s paying the cost of round-trip seats in economy plus, and they’re paying the standard per diem,” I reiterated. Actually, they were paying only my expenses, but Henry didn’t need to know that yet. Someday I’d tell him, when the time was right. “Grace knows how much you mean to me, and yes, she knows you’re only fifteen. She also knows you’re a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics at NYU. The same goes for Jitendra back in Seattle.”
HR had no problem with my request to bring my boyfriend along with me on my visit to New York. After all, we were going to be sharing an apartment, and his input was critical to finding a place to live. However, when I mentioned in passing that Henry was only fifteen, all sorts of red flags went up. HR had no problem approving expenses for me to bring an adult partner with me on a house-hunting trip. They had no problem with me bringing a dependent child, but a minor partner wasn’t even in their playbook. Never mind that, technically, I wasn’t an adult yet, either, although no one at Applazon knew that outside of upper-level management.
When it became evident that, short of a directive from Jeff Barlow himself, HR wasn’t going to make an exception to their standard policies, I decided to pay Henry’s expenses out of my own pocket. However, Henry was upset enough as it was that he couldn’t share equally in our expenses. There was no need for us to live as starving students, particularly in a city where the cost of living was as high as the skyscrapers that dominated the skyline. As far as I was concerned, Henry was my fiancé and there was no need for artificial boundaries between us when it came to our finances. Money must never become an issue that divided us.
It was becoming increasingly apparent that we were going to need some sort of legal framework to avoid issues that might arise with Henry living with me, be it legal emancipation or even marriage. Henry was underage, and at least on paper, I wasn’t, and that could become a problem. I’d already retained an attorney to manage the legalities of the corporation that owned my stock, and clearly, my original plan to simply add Henry as an equal stockholder was insufficient. I was going to have to retain an expert in handling these sorts of things before we went any further.
“Hey, they just called boarding for first class,” Henry interrupted. Truly, I hadn’t been paying attention. Of course, Applazon would only pay for economy plus, but I decided to splurge for Henry’s first time flying. Being cooped up for more than three hours in economy would not be the best introduction to the joys of flying. There’d be plenty of time later for learning how unpleasant flying could be. Besides which, I could afford to pay to upgrade to first class. The thing was, I grew up very poor and lived in a shack with next to nothing of my own. Even without the stock, I had more than a million in savings from unspent pay. The stock I was starting to receive for the superconducting-supercomputer design had made me a paper billionaire. A billionaire! I sure as fuck didn’t feel like a billionaire. I hoped I never did.
I’d decided to do as Jitendra had suggested when it came to buying a place for Henry and me in Manhattan. We could afford the most expensive penthouse for sale. Fuck, we could afford to keep vacation homes all over the world, but that just wasn’t us. Henry and I both came from more modest backgrounds, and I for one had no desire to show off newly acquired wealth. A more modest apartment on a high floor in a glitzy building or maybe a penthouse in an older, classic building would suit us just fine, as would a brownstone, for that matter, provided it wasn’t over the top. In terms of location, the Applazon headquarters in New York was in an old, iconic, department-store building on Fifth Avenue. It was an elegant, Midtown location. I also needed to go to Columbia University up in Harlem and might have occasion to travel to Chelsea, SoHo and TriBeCa to interact with engineers at Google, Facebook and other tech companies.
Henry would primarily be at the main NYU campus in Greenwich Village at the Courant Institute for Mathematical Sciences, but some of his coursework would be based at the Tandon School of Engineering, located on the multi-institutional MetroTech campus in downtown Brooklyn. At least, I could get around in my Tesla, but Henry would have to take the subway. In New York City, he wouldn’t be eligible to get his driver’s license until he turned seventeen.
We walked up to the gate agent, and each of us showed him the boarding passes on our phones and then boarded the plane. We stowed our carry-on pieces in the overhead compartment and slipped our backpacks under the seats in front of us. There was plenty of leg room. A tray table and a full entertainment system was built into the armrests. There was also a small table between the two seats. As we made ourselves comfortable, a steady stream of passengers boarded the plane and headed back to economy.
Once the bulk of the passengers were on board, one of the flight attendants came up to us with a tray of drinks and asked, “Good morning, gentlemen. Would you like some water or orange juice while we wait for the crew to complete their flight checklist?”
“Did you want anything to drink, Babe,” I asked Henry. “If you’d rather, they can get you anything.”
“Orange juice will be fine,” Henry answered as he took one of the offered cups and placed it on the small table between us.
“If you have the time for it, could you get me a tomato juice?” I asked. “If not, I’ll take whatever you have left.”
“Certainly, sir,” the young man responded. After he’d served everyone else, he brought me my tomato juice and dropped some graham crackers on the table between us.
“Do you have any peanuts?” I asked.
“Probably not,” the attendant responded. “Too many people are allergic now, but I can get you some snacks if you’d like.”
“That’d be great. Thanks,” I replied.
A moment later, he returned with a basket with an assortment of cookies, granola bars and the like. I grabbed some Fig Newtons and a pack of Lorna Doones, and Henry did the same.
“Do you always flirt with the flight attendants like that?” Henry asked.
“You know, I never thought of it that way, but I guess I do, especially the gay ones,” I confirmed. “As you saw, it got us some snacks to keep us from starving until they serve us lunch. If we play it right, we might be able to get beer or wine during the flight. There’s no one to police it in the air, so they can get away with it, even though they’re not supposed to serve alcohol to minors.”
“Aren’t there Federal marshals on this plane?” Henry asked.
“If so, they’ll be well back in economy,” I replied. “Omaha isn’t exactly a hotbed of terrorism, and with Strat Com being there, military personnel are often on these flights, many of whom are underage, too. In any case, they wouldn’t report a flight attendant for an alcohol violation. That’s not why they’re here.”
We quickly ate our snacks and drank our juice, handing the remains to the attendant as he came back through the cabin prior to takeoff. The plane pushed back from the gate, and the flight attendant began the usual safety demonstration. Henry watched with rapt attention as this was all new to him, whereas I went through email on my phone. Soon, we were next up for takeoff, then the plane quickly accelerated down the runway and we were airborne. I could tell that Henry was a bit apprehensive, but he tried to act cool. I’d let him have the window seat, and he watched as we climbed over the suburban homes of Council Bluffs. All too quickly, we were flying over endless cornfields.
“Now you can see why the people who live on the coasts call this flyover country,” I quipped, “and that kind of indifference is what led to Trump in the U.S., Boris Johnson in the U.K. and the Yellow Vest movement in France. Having grown up in rural Indiana, I understand better than most the attitudes of the people who live there, but it’s a self-selected population. People like us who get an education wind up living in places like New York. People with an education either migrate to the oases of the cities or leave the area entirely. Between corporate farming and the combination of automation and outsourcing in manufacturing, those left behind don’t have much of a place left in the new economy. It’s no wonder they feel abandoned by their country.”
“And you would address that how, oh wise one?” Henry countered.
“There isn’t a simple answer,” I replied. “The liberal elites would have you believe the answer lies in massive education programs to re-educate the uneducated. They’re deluded.”
“You mean you’re not one of the liberal elites?” Henry asked with a bemused expression.
“Hardly,” I answered. “This fall will actually be my first opportunity to vote, and although I’m probably left of center, I’ll remain an independent.”
“You know, it was really scary for a bit while you were away,” Henry exclaimed. “After the Capitol riot, half the country worried that the other half was gonna storm the statehouses in all fifty states and maybe even assassinate President-elect Biden and VP-elect Harris as well as any of the lawmakers that voted to impeach Trump. It really was an attempt by right-wing groups to overthrow the government.”
“For a while there, I wasn’t sure there’d be a country for me to return to,” I replied. “My fears about Trump had come true.”
“How do you think we felt?” Henry chimed in. “You shoulda heard some of what I heard in school. The top brass made it clear the military wouldn’t get involved, but a hell of a lot of the rank and file had other ideas. It could’ve easily gone the other way if the right-wing groups had been better organized or if Trump himself hadn’t been insane.
“You missed the whole spectacle,” he added, “and by the time you returned, most of the Trump family was under indictment or headed for prison, the Trump organization was just about bankrupt, and the world knew what a crook our president had been. That, more than anything, put an end to Trumpism and left Republican lawmakers scrambling for the exits. Unfortunately, it took Trump voters a bit longer to come around, but come this fall, you’re gonna see a hell of a lot of Republicans lose their seats in Congress, if they even survive the primary challenges.
“The worst of it was the racism, though,” Henry went on. “Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Kenosha were real eye-openers, but seeing thugs bearing anti-Semitic, Nazi and confederate symbols as they stormed the Capitol was terrifying. And there was so much complicity from some of the police and lawmakers.”
“I’ve no doubt that serious racism exists everywhere,” I agreed. “Part of it is that humans are genetically programmed to be tribal, and part of it is what we’re taught to believe when we’re young. A good part is religious zealousness —”
“Which I’ll never understand,” Henry interrupted, “but from there, it’s a short trip to buy into conspiracy theories.”
“And organized religion is the ultimate conspiracy theory,” I continued. “Still, a good part of the unrest is economic. The new economy has been very good for some of us, but a hell of a lot of people have been left behind.”
“But maybe the problem is the new economy itself,” Henry countered. “Even the term ‘consumer’ belies consumption. We’re consuming the planet, and the result will be a drastically changed climate and mass extinctions, including our own.”
“And I work for the largest purveyor of consumption in the world,” I lamented.
“At least you’re helping to move the company in the right direction, toward the use of renewables and sustainability,” Henry responded.
“Yeah?” I asked.
“Definitely,” Henry replied. “The bigger issue is finding a role for all in a sustainable society. The educated elites will find their place, but poor minorities in the cities and poor whites in rural communities will be relegated even more to unskilled labor. Increasingly, they’ll rely on public assistance and turn to religion and drugs. Maybe we should pay people not to have kids.”
Laughing, I responded, “Now there’s an original thought. The problem is that it penalizes the children of the parents who disagree with you. People of means tend to have fewer kids anyway. What’s crazy is that New York City schools spend close to a million dollars per classroom per year, while many rural communities spend an order of magnitude less and yet the results among minorities and the poor aren’t any better.”
“It’s hard to learn anything in dilapidated school buildings and without access to broadband and resources that the rich kids take for granted,” Henry countered.
“Undoubtedly, the influence of gangs and street violence are major factors in New York, whereas drugs, inadequate nutrition and broken families are problems in cities and rural communities alike,” I added. “Public schools were never designed to address society’s social ills, which is one of the factors that has given the charter-school movement much of its impetus. Not that I think charter schools are the answer, but there are plenty of well-meaning liberal elites who would eliminate popular gifted and talented programs to help fund upgrading schools in minority communities. However, those gifted and talented programs are needed to attract the kind of workforce that companies like Applazon seek, and without Applazon, there’d be even less tax revenue to allocate to fix the ailing school system.”
“But it costs far more to incarcerate minority youth than to give them the kind of quality education that might deter them from a life of crime. If anything, the money to fix the schools should come from the criminal-justice system.”
“I agree with you, Henry, but that’s a hard sell with conservatives and even centrists, who are big on law and order. Last year’s New York mayoral race sure illustrated that. Perhaps a better strategy would be to restore the life people had with high-paying, union jobs in industry. That lifestyle worked. It incentivized people to work, to better themselves and to seek better lives for their kids.”
“And to consume,” Henry countered, to which I shrugged. “However, if people wanted union jobs, why is union membership in the private sector at an all-time low? Why did efforts to unionize warehouse workers at Applazon fail? Don’t the ‘deplorables’ know what’s good for them?”
Cringing, I quietly replied, “Please don’t use that term! Hillary lost the election, in part, because she was taken out of context. It was a terrible choice of words. Anyway, what’s important isn’t that the jobs are unionized, but that corporations take responsibility for the communities they serve. Henry Ford knew that if he paid his workers well, they’d go out and buy his cars. That, in turn, made other folks want to buy his cars. Robots don’t buy cars.”
“Henry Ford was one of those deplorables, you know,” Henry pointed out. “He was an anti-Semitic racist bastard, but getting back to robots, robots don’t require health insurance, pensions, paid time off or workers’ comp. No matter what you try to do, those union jobs aren’t coming back.”
“Touché,” I replied as I got out the menu from the seat-back in front of me. Showing it to Henry, I explained, “Speaking of consumption, meals aren’t served in economy on domestic flights, but in first class, they always keep you well fed. The meals served in first and business class are way nicer than what they have in economy on international flights. On shorter flights, you’ll just get a prepared meal, such as a sub or a flatbread pizza, and there’s no choice unless you request a special meal in advance, such as kosher or vegetarian. On a longer flight like this one, you’ll get a full meal. On an earlier flight, they’d serve a full breakfast. On this flight, they’ll pass through the cabin with drinks and snacks, and then later they’ll offer us a choice of a full dinner for lunch. If you take a look at the menu now, you might be able to get the flight attendant to be sure you get what you want. Otherwise, when they run out, you get what’s left.”
Opening the menu, I pointed out, “As you can see, they list the different wines available with the meal. On some flights with larger first- and business-class sections, they actually come through the aisles with open wine bottles, but on a flight like this, they’ll give you a miniature wine bottle if you ask.”
“Sure, like they’re gonna serve alcohol to a couple of underage teens,” Henry interrupted.
“Like I said, you’d be surprised what you can get away with in First Class. However, this isn’t a restaurant and you only can select the main course. Everything else is fixed. It looks like we have a choice today of vegetarian lasagna or chicken breast over rice with green beans. Unfortunately, I’ve had good and bad meals with either pasta or chicken. Oh, they have Bailey’s. We’ll want to order some after the meal if they let us.”
“If I didn’t know better, I’d think you’re trying to get me drunk,” Henry responded.
“Nah, it’s just a chance to imbibe of a forbidden fruit,” I replied.
Sure enough, the flight attendant came around to ask for drink orders. Because there were only five rows in first class, he didn’t use a cart. “Would you boys like something?” he asked.
“Can I get a Schweppes’s Bitter Lemon with a little lime juice and a twist of lime?” I asked.
“Did you want something in that, honey?” the attendant asked.
“I’d love to have it with gin,” I answered, then asked Henry, “Babe, do you want something? Maybe a beer?”
“Actually, your drink sounds interesting,” Henry responded. “Could I have that?”
“Of course, you can,” he replied.
A few minutes later, the attendant returned with our drinks and asked, “Would you like some snacks?”
“Do you have anything fresh?” I asked.
“I think I have some fresh-baked cookies,” he replied. A few minutes later, he came through the cabin with a tray of an assortment of fresh cookies. I suspected that the attendants and crew would’ve had them had I not asked, but they were obviously intended for the first-class passengers. There were a couple of peanut-butter cookies, so I took one, and, naturally, Henry took the other one. I wasn’t sure why they could serve peanut-butter cookies but not peanuts. In any case, they were excellent.
“This drink is really good,” Henry said.
I responded, “Your boyfriend has good taste.”
“Who said I’m your boyfriend?” Henry asked.
“I guess we could find a nice little studio apartment for you in Yonkers,” I threatened.
“What I meant to say was that as far as I’m concerned, you’re my life partner,” Henry added.
“I love the sentiment, but at our ages, the term ‘boyfriend’ raises fewer eyebrows,” I said. “By the way, if you don’t want to miss the ending and you’d like to watch a movie, you might want to get started with one. Just be sure you choose a movie that isn’t longer than the flight, and make allowances for interruptions ’cause the movie stops every damn time the pilot or flight attendants make announcements.”
“How do I watch a movie?” Henry asked, so I showed him how to access the entertainment system and how to browse the available movies. “They used to show a movie on a screen in the front of the cabin, but that was a long time ago, well before we were born. These entertainment systems used to be only in first class, but now they have the same offerings in economy but on a small screen built into the back of the seat in front of you.”
After scanning through the selections, Henry stowed the entertainment system away and complained, “Hundreds of movies and hundreds of TV programs, and not one of them is something I want to watch.”
Laughing, I replied, “They usually have only a handful of recent releases, nothing that’s still in theaters, and everything else is old. Occasionally, I’ll find something I haven’t watched at home yet, but usually I’ll bring my e-book reader or download some movies I really want to see to my tablet. I didn’t do either ’cause now I have a boyfriend to talk to instead.”
“Oh?” Henry joked. “Where is he?”
I got back at him by saying, “The flight attendant, of course.”
“Very funny,” Henry replied.
As if he’d heard me, the flight attendant came by and asked if we wanted refills for our drinks, which we’d finished. Looking at the drink selections in the menu, I asked, “Could I have a Bud Lite?”
“Certainly, doll,” he replied, “and can I get you anything, sugar?” he asked Henry.
“Do you have Heineken?” Henry asked.
“The drink selections are in the menu,” the attendant replied, “and yes, I do.”
When the attendant returned with our beers, I asked, “Can you recommend the chicken or the lasagna, one over the other?”
Stooping down near me, he said, “I have a couple of servings of salmon with rice and asparagus that someone else ordered, but they cancelled at the last minute. The salmon’s always good. If you want them, they’re yours.”
Looking over at Henry, who nodded his head, I replied, “That sounds infinitely better than the chicken or pasta. Thanks.” Shortly after that, he went around the first-class cabin and took people’s dinner selection. When he got to us, he acknowledged that he had our requested meals. Very clever.
As he drank his beer, Henry exclaimed, “At this rate, I’ll be sloshed by the time we land.”
“Ask the attendant for a couple of little bottles of wine with the meal, and later, ask for a little bottle of the Bailey’s. We’ll take them with us and have them when we order pizza or something.”
“That’s a great idea,” Henry agreed.
As our meals arrived, Henry commented on my somber mood. “What gives, J.J.? You should be excited about house hunting in New York; yet, if anything, you seem kinda subdued.”
“It’s just that my idea for a superconducting motor doesn’t seem to be working,” I replied. “Remember how I told you about my spending time at the racetrack when I was in Indy and coming up with an idea for an all-electric race car that could compete with gas?”
“Actually, they use alcohol as the primary fuel in Indy cars, sometimes with only a little gasoline added in to boost the power,” Henry said.
“Of course, that makes sense.” I responded. “I hadn’t even thought about it when I was there, but of course they’d use alcohol, probably methanol. It combusts at a much lower temperature than hydrocarbons, so it shouldn’t generate as much waste heat. Internal-combustion engines may be heat engines, but the lower efficiency of operation at lower temperatures should be more than offset by the reduced overhead needed to cool the engine, and the reduced engine ping from secondary emissions.”
“Actually, they use ethanol, which has a much higher octane rating,” Henry replied. “Otherwise, you got that in one. So anyway, what’s the problem with the superconducting motor?”
“Loss of superconductivity from pathologic magnetic flux has always been a problem in superconductors but particularly in motors. A small stray, magnetic moment can cause the superconductivity to collapse, but that’s a particular problem in ceramic motors because of the tight tolerances. I thought that by using a non-magnetic stator and the Hall effect, I could get around the problem entirely, but the Hall effect is caused by magnetic fields generated by induced electric currents. If anything, the effect is less predictable and even worse than what might have been seen with permanent magnets. The problem in an automobile is that even minuscule mechanical torque from the unevenness of the pavement can cause pathologic currents that cause the superconductivity to collapse, rendering the motor useless.
“Applazon’s spent a fortune on the prototype, and it works great in the lab, but as soon as they mount it on a vehicle, it fails, and quickly, sometimes catastrophically with the ceramic crystals shattering in the process. I’ve tried a number of doping strategies to minimize the variations in flux, but nothing has worked,” I lamented.
“Isn’t there a way you could detect the pathologic currents and compensate for them?” Henry asked. “Surely the frequency components have to be in the low hertz range, maybe a kilohertz, at most. If you could detect the currents and feed that back into the power applied to the superconducting electromagnets, you should be able to allow for minor and even major variations. You can probably build magnetic sensors into the magnetic structure of the honeycomb and then use the measured variations to tweak the magnetic field, shifting the phase slightly to compensate. It might take a while to develop a good predictive model, but once you have one, you can use machine learning to improve the responsiveness with time.”
“Henry, that is a terrific idea.” I responded. “I’ll send it along right now so my colleagues in Seattle can get to work on it.” I said as I got out my phone and used the in-flight Wi-Fi to access Applazon’s corporate server over their VPN.
The salmon was quite good, and the flight passed surprisingly quickly as Henry and I engaged in casual conversation, and we bantered back and forth about the relationship between computational mathematics and machine learning. In all the times I’d flown, I’d never traveled with a companion before. Having Henry with me made the time pass so much more quickly.
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Because this was our first trip together, I’d decided to splurge on an exceptional hotel. Naturally, that was well beyond the rate Applazon would have compensated for a non-contract hotel, so I didn’t even bother to book it through Applazon. Applazon would pay a flat per diem instead. I knew that most of the better hotels had VIP suites, and of course, so did the Four Seasons New York, but this wasn’t just another fancy hotel. Designed by I.M. Pei, it was an extraordinary hotel in which rooms started at a thousand dollars per night, plus tax. I’d been given a room in St. Louis that ordinarily cost close to a thousand dollars per night, so I had some idea things like that existed. Of course, New York was something else entirely, and a thousand dollars might not buy much more than a common room in a number of the better hotels. I’d reserved the Central Park suite with terrace, which cost nearly $3500 per night. It was 700 square feet, including a living room, a bedroom, a separate dressing room, a lavish bathroom and a large terrace overlooking Central Park. There were suites even more extravagant than the one I’d reserved, including the 4300 square-foot penthouse suite that rented for fifty grand per night. I’d actually considered reserving the 1350 square-foot Presidential suite with its expansive double terrace, but the price was insane, and frankly, it was far larger than anything we needed. That was actually a lesson worth remembering when it came to the search for a place to live.
Even as we deplaned, I sent a text message to the limo driver for the car I’d ordered to take us into Manhattan. I let him know our flight had arrived and we’d be in front of arrivals shortly. We didn’t bother to bring checked luggage; our carry-on luggage and backpacks were sufficient. We each had a suit packed in case something came up where one was needed, but casual clothes would likely be sufficient for the week. Our car was waiting for us as we exited the terminal, and I asked the driver to take us to the hotel via the Turnpike spur and the Holland Tunnel as I handed him a fifty. It took twice as long as the Lincoln Tunnel would’ve; he was only allowed to charge a standard flat rate to take passengers from any of the area airports into Manhattan, regardless of the route taken. I therefore compensated him up front with close to a 100% tip, and I still tipped him when we arrived, but watching the expression on Henry’s face as he saw the Manhattan skyline for the first time was worth it.
I doubted that Henry had a clue when the car pulled up in front of the hotel on 57th Street that we were less than two blocks from Central Park. He seemed awestruck as we entered the modern hotel lobby, with all its luxurious appointments that were reminiscent of Art Deco. I guided us up to the front desk, and after a short wait in line, announced my name to the person behind the desk. She quickly pulled up the reservation and verified the details, then called a bellhop to take us to our room. He was just a boy, not much older than I was. He loaded both of our carry-on bags onto a cart, even though they had wheels. In a more ordinary hotel, I would have declined the personal service, but I had a feeling that wasn’t even an option here. He led us to an elevator and took us to the 32nd floor.
Taking out one of the keycards, he opened the door to our suite and handed each of us one of the keycards. He wheeled the cart into the suite, and we followed him inside. We went through an entry foyer into a central hallway. The boy unloaded the luggage from the cart and stowed it in the dressing room, showing us where there was closet space to hang up our suits. As the bellhop led us into the bedroom to show us the amenities, Henry spotted the view out the window and the sliding glass door that led to the terrace. He ran right to the door and threw it open, running out onto the terrace. “It’s his first time in New York,” I explained to the bellhop.
“Will you be needing a rollaway?” the bellhop asked.
Giving him my ‘you’ve gotta be kidding’ look, I responded, “Not on your life.”
Laughing, he replied, “I didn’t think so. You guys are an adorable couple.”
“Thanks,” I replied as I handed him a pair of twenties.
“Thank you very much, sir,” he replied. “Could I show you the other amenities of your suite?” he asked.
“I think we can figure out things from here,” I replied.
Handing me the cardboard jacket from our keycards, he added, “The WiFi ID and password are on the inside of this jacket. There’s a folder with more information on the desk in the living room. Your room rate includes breakfast. The gratuity is included. You can order your breakfast by calling room service, or you can order it directly on the TV or online using your phone and our app. There is no restaurant; however, our award-winning chef will be happy to prepare lunch or dinner for you and serve it on your terrace. There are a number of Zagat-rated restaurants within walking distance, and the concierge will be happy to make reservations for you. The hotel will provide complimentary transportation anywhere within Manhattan and to any of the three airports when you check out. Is there anything else I can get you gentlemen?” he concluded as Henry rejoined us in the bedroom proper.
“I think you’ve more than covered everything,” I replied. “Thanks very much for your helpfulness.”
“You’re very welcome, gentlemen,” he responded and then let himself out.
Immediately, Henry asked, “Is Applazon paying for this? Did you know it would be this nice? Is this where they put you up the last time?”
Laughing, I replied, “No, yes and no. Applazon put me up in a Marriott Spring Hill Suites, which is an ordinary business hotel that costs about a tenth as much as this. I wanted your first time in New York to be special. I also wanted to give you an idea of one of the options for an apartment in New York. We’ll talk more about that later, before we meet with the realtor.”
“You’re paying for this?” Henry asked. “Can we afford it? It looks like it must be costing you a thousand a night.”
Laughing, I replied, “The cheapest room in this hotel is a thousand a night, and that’s before tacking on the outrageous hotel tax they charge in New York City. Even the place where Applazon put me up for the interviews was over three hundred a night. New York’s very expensive, so get used to it.”
“Gees, I knew it was expensive, but that was theoretical,” Henry replied. “How am I gonna be able to afford to live here?”
“You leave that worry to me,” I responded. “For one thing, I have a lot of money saved from the two years of traveling all over the world. I thought I’d need it for the down payment on a house someday, but my share of the profits from selling servers has made us rich. Very rich. We can afford to buy anything in Manhattan that we want. In addition, Applazon’s paying me very well to head up their A.I. department. I’m not one to live high on the hog just because I can, but we’ll have enough to live very well here.”
“You keep using the word, ‘we’,” Henry replied, “but I’m just your boyfriend. I was only joking about being a kept man.”
“Oh, Henry,” I responded as I pulled him close to me. “You are anything but ‘just’ my boyfriend, and you will not be a kept man. We’ve both had boyfriends before, and we both thought they were our life partners, but don’t you see? This is different. Like an order of magnitude different. From the moment you told me how you really feel, I realized just what it was I wanted in my life. Just who I wanted in my life. Someday we’ll marry, but I already consider you my husband, and spouses share. I’ve already spoken to an attorney, and I’m going to make sure that everything is equally ours. I’ve never had a will before, but now I know I need one. Dr. Moorthy suggested I should have a prenuptial agreement, too, not to protect my assets from you, but from any of my family who may eventually show up in the future. I’m also going to find an attorney who specializes in the legal arrangements for partners who are underage. I want to be sure that you as my partner inherit all that is mine. Yes, I said ‘we’ because I see us as a very definite ‘we’.”
“But…fuck,” Henry exclaimed.
“Maybe later,” I quipped, and then he suddenly realized what he’d inadvertently said, and we both laughed hysterically. “Seriously, Henry, you know you’d have done exactly the same thing with me if the situation had been reversed, and one day it might be, considering your groundbreaking work in computational mathematics.
“I have a lot planned for us during the week we’re here. We’ll be spending quite a lot of time with a realtor, and, hopefully, we’ll buy a place together where we’ll live after we make the move to New York. I also want to take some time to see the museums, maybe climb the Statue of Liberty while we’re young enough to do it, do some of the tourist things and see some Broadway shows. Actually, I already bought the tickets for that ’cause I wanted to be sure we got the best seats.”
“Wow, we’re gonna be busy!” Henry exclaimed.
“You bet we are,” I agreed, and then added, “Oh, and I want to look at cameras while we’re here.”
“Cameras?” Henry asked with a bemused look on his face.
“Yeah, cameras,” I answered. “I’ve kind of gotten interested in photography lately. Smartphone cameras can only go so far. Most of the online photography stores started out as camera stores in New York. This is by far the best place to get quality advice on cameras and to try before you buy. I’d like to have a decent camera to take with us on our trip this summer.”
“I thought we were just gonna look at apartments,” Henry replied. “Well maybe that…and fuck each other silly.”
“Oh, we’ll definitely do that, too,” I replied, as I kissed my baby deeply. Coming up for air, I added, “Why don’t we get started on that now?” As I pulled Henry’s tank top up and over his head and tossed it aside, it dawned on me that for all the time I’d talked to Henry about sex and even been with him when we were both naked, I was so ready for this. I feasted my eyes on his magnificent torso. Although he had a mustache and long sideburns, his chest was completely smooth and firm. Placing my left hand on his right pectoral, I wanted to feel that firmness now. I had to break contact, though, when Henry lifted the hem of my shirt up and over my head, tossing my shirt on top of his. Hooking his thumbs in my waistband, he pushed my shorts down to the floor. Toeing off my sandals, I kicked my shorts aside.
I reached for the waistband of Henry’s shorts, but he dropped to his knees and inhaled deeply, smelling my package through my dark-red bikini briefs. “You are so sexy in these briefs,” Henry exclaimed, “but even sexier without them.” Henry pulled the waistband of my briefs forward, exposing my rapidly expanding member. “I’ve wanted to do this since the day I met you.” He went down on me and swallowed me whole. Oh, my god! What he was able to do with his throat and tongue should’ve been illegal. I tried to hold out, I really did, but Henry was just too good at it, and before I could even warn him, I was unloading into his mouth. Milking and sucking out the last few drops of my jizz, he returned my deflated organ into my briefs. Standing back up, he explained, “I’m sorry. I know you would’ve preferred to hold on longer than I let you, but I just had to have you. I had to taste you.” He kissed me deeply, and I could taste myself on his tongue.
Finally, I hooked my thumbs in his shorts and pushed his shorts and boxer briefs down in one motion, and he toed off his sandals and kicked his shorts and boxers away. I dropped down on my knees and went to work on his member, but I was much crueler than he’d been, bringing him to the brink again and again, but backing off whenever he got close. “Oh, you are so good at this,” Henry exclaimed. “It’s exquisite torture.” We feasted on each other’s feet, made out like crazy and explored each other’s most intimate spots. At some point along the way, I lost my briefs as well. I gave Henry a rim job the likes of which he’d never had, and at one point he gasped, “I’m not a bottom, but I want you in me.”
“Maybe another time,” I replied, “but right now I want you in me, and I want it now.” Lining myself up with him, I slowly lowered myself onto his pole and then I gyrated as I touched him all over. To say it was good would have been absurd. It was easily the best sexual experience I’d ever had as I gave my all to the boy I loved with all my heart. Henry writhed under me as he experienced the aggressive way I rode him to exhaustion. Finally, I felt Henry reach the point of no return, so I allowed myself to reach my own climax yet again. My spunk flew out over his head and landed on the bed, in his hair, on his face and all over his chest. At the same time, I felt his own cum filling me up inside. Yeah, we did it bareback, which probably wasn’t wise given that I’d been with a couple of guys during my recent trips, but I’d used every precaution with them, and Henry preferred it this way. Before I even had the chance to withdraw, he pushed me over onto my back and ate me out. Whoa.
After taking a shower together, we dressed in our shorts and took a look at the room-service menu. We still needed to talk about tomorrow and our plans to look for an apartment together. After making love as we had, neither of us felt like going out for dinner. The room-service prices were outrageous, but I was paying, so we ordered a bunch of things to share that we both liked. I placed the order online. We ate our dinner out on the terrace as we discussed what we both wanted in a home. We talked about amenities, building type and age, and preferred location. As with Mr. Cobb in Inception, we’d have loved to have had a dwelling that was both a house in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright and a modern apartment in a high-rise building with a view, but while we could dream of such things, the reality was that we had to choose. We could have a brownstone on the Upper West Side, but that would’ve meant having four or five floors, of which we’d actually use only two. A brownstone would give us room to grow, but it would take a lot of work to maintain. Yes, we could afford a housekeeper and a gardener. Then again, the only people our age on our block would likely be the teenage sons and daughters of our neighbors. We’d feel out of place.
An apartment in a high-rise building would be much more practical, but finding one with a terrace would be difficult. Our hotel room was just about perfect. We’d need at least double the space, but the combination of a view and a large terrace on a high floor was just what we wanted. A brand-new building would be nice, but very few of the newer buildings had terraces. There were a lot of older buildings on Central Park West with terraces, but we’d probably have to do some renovations to bring an apartment there up to modern standards, and that would mean living somewhere temporarily while that was being done.
And there was the snob factor. For example, the hotel was on what was called billionaires row. There were a lot of new, super-tall skyscrapers on or near Central Park South, but a lot of the apartments were empty much of the year, and when they weren’t, the occupants were mostly new money, tending to look down on anyone who wasn’t better than they were. That wasn’t the kind of neighbor we wanted, but how could one get to know their neighbors before making an offer on a place?
By the time we finished dinner, it was getting late, and we were tired from what had been an exhausting day. We set a wakeup call for 8:00 and ordered breakfast delivered at 8:30. The realtor was going to meet us at 9:00.
Disclaimer: This story is purely fictional and any resemblance of characters to real individuals is unintentional. Although it takes place in actual locations, in no way are any official policies, opinions or events inferred. Some characters may be underage and at times engage in homosexual acts. Anyone uncomfortable with this should not be reading the story, and the reader assumes responsibility for the legality of reading this type of material where they live. The author retains full copyright and permission must be obtained prior to duplication in any form.