Judge Thomas Oakley slowed the car as he crossed Martin Luther Key Street on St. Catherine where it turned into Jefferson. He often slowed down here, in passing the King’s Tavern Lounge—although he’d never gotten up the gumption to go in there. It was too close to home and he was too well known.
When he wanted that scene, he didn’t go anywhere here in Natchez. There were some private men’s clubs up in Vicksburg where he could scratch that itch.
He wasn’t slowing down outside the King’s Tavern Lounge today to see what trade was out and prancing about but because he couldn’t quite figure out where in town that boutique, Claire’s, was that Peggy Ann had dropped hints about. He was at a total loss about what to get his wife for her birthday that was coming up in less than a week. There wasn’t anything that he knew of that she might want that she didn’t buy for herself—with a vengeance—holding over his head what she suspected and what had sent them into separate bedrooms five years earlier.
The judge was still a young man, though. He had needs. And he had preferences too. It wasn’t really his fault that they were inconvenient preferences for a sleepy Southern town like Natchez, Mississippi.
He pulled the Lincoln Town Car over to the curb while he rummaged around in his wallet for an address for the Claire’s place. He assumed they had a list for him of things Peggy Ann wanted—or else she wouldn’t have wasted all that time dropping hints about the place to him.
It was a hot day, and the air conditioner in the Town Car needed Freon. It put out cold air well enough once it got going, but it took a long time to kick in, and he’d left the car out on the hot asphalt. So, he’d rolled the windows down when he’d started off for town.
“Anything I can do for you, mister?”
Judge Oakley looked up smartly, surprised at the interruption and by the smooth, insinuating voice. He looked over to the passenger side of the car and saw a young man, his elbows almost inside, and his head, with its mop of blond hair, filling the space where the open window was.
“Anything you might want?” the young man repeated. He had a knowing smile plastered on his face.
How could he possibly know? Judge Oakley wondered. He’d never known them to come right out on the street and proposition someone just passing through. But then he realized that he wasn’t really “just passing through.” He’d pulled over to the curb right outside the tavern. And he had his window rolled down.
“No, of course not,” he replied, his voice full of “what do you take me for?” huff.
“Nice lookin’ car,” the young man said. “And you look buff too,” he added. He retained that smile, and the way he was hanging in the car, it seemed like he was going to take up residence.
“I . . . I . . . I just pulled over to get my bearings. I’m down here buying a birthday present for my wife.” It was the first thing he could think of—something defensive to put him in an entirely different world from his young man. This young man with his handsome, ready smile and that endearing mop of blond hair. And soft, milky blue eyes. He couldn’t be more than nineteen.
“I thought you looked like, you know, you’d like some company,” the young man persisted. “Look like you might want to buy a present for yourself. If there’s anything you’re interested in—”
Judge Oakley put a right fast end to that, though. He hit the passenger window button, and the young man barely had time to move out of the way of that and step back before Oakley pulled back out into traffic—to the sound of the horn of a woman in a car that had been on the road coming up behind him and had to slam on her brakes.
The judge dipped his head almost as if he feared she’d recognize him and get the wrong impression of what he was doing at the curb outside a gay bar with a fine-looking young man hanging in his window.
He muttered to himself as he drove on. He was shaking badly, upset by the encounter. But also aroused by it, his mind going lickety-split over the conversation that had transpired between him and the young man—and then racing on to the implications. Followed by the possibilities. It had been nearly two months since his court schedule had allowed him to travel up to Vicksburg.
In two more streets, he turned left and then left again on E. Franklin. He was driving on autopilot. Two more lefts and he found himself turning off of MLK onto Jefferson again. And driving slowly past the tavern a second time.
The blond smiled and waved to him.
Judge snapped his head away and applied pressure on the gas pedal. He was almost to the Mississippi River when he managed to pull over to the curb again to get control of his shakes. He took a handkerchief out of his pocket and mopped his brow. He sat there for a couple of minutes, thinking, and then he took out his cell phone and made a call to the police department down in Sibley, a small town to the south of Natchez, where he was restoring an old plantation house on the Mississippi.
* * * *
The door on the Sibley police department—just a one-man operation, really—was locked when Judge Oakley arrived there later in the evening. That didn’t stop him from getting in, though. He had a key. Judge Oakley was probably the most important person who had settled in Sibley since before the War of Northern Aggression, and he held the key to any business or government building he was interested in in the small, dying town.
And he’d made a point to make really, really good friends with the town’s one policeman, Dooley Lumpkin. Part of how he had ingratiated himself so well with Dooley was that he usually took Dooley with him when he made his trips to Vicksburg.
It was this special relationship with Dooley that had prompted Judge Oakley to call him in Sibley rather than the Natchez city police.
Oakley looked up and down the sidewalk before letting himself in the jail’s door. No one was out and about, though, which didn’t surprise him a bit. He closed and locked the door behind him. And then he just followed the sounds.
He could hear Dooley grunting and another man moaning. They were in one of the only two cells in the room off the back of the office. The other cell was empty.
Judge Oakley stood there for several minutes, watching Dooley work on the young man—the young blond man who had asked Oakley if there was anything he wanted out in front of the King’s Tavern Lounge in Natchez.
Dooley certainly had a way with that nightstick of his, the judge thought. Both of the men had their trousers and briefs off, and the young man was handcuffed to the bars above the cot in the cell by his wrists. He was laying on his back, with his legs splayed out, and Dooley was hunched over him and working the tip of the night stick at the rim of the young blond’s asshole.
After a few minutes, when it looked like Dooley was going to change nightsticks, Judge Oakley cleared his throat.
Dooley jumped away from the young man and turned in a crouch, ready to spring. His eyes were those of a wild animal. When he saw it was the judge, though, he relaxed.
“Oh, it’s you, judge. I didn’t hear you come in.”
“I can see why not,” Judge Oakley said, followed by a low laugh. “Hate to interrupt you, but don’t you think it would be good to keep this all in order? The trial first and then the punishment?”
“Um, sorry, Judge. Where do you want him?”
“I think we can do this out in your office,” the judge answered.
“Uh, OK. I’ll get him up and dressed and—”
“Oh, I don’t think we need to set anything into reverse. Just bring him on into the other room.”
The young man looked like a scared rabbit as he was dragged into the outer office. While Dooley was uncuffing him, the judge was going to the front of the room and pulling down the shades. Then he went and sat behind the desk.
Dooley pulled the prisoner to the front of the desk and made him stand there.
“What’s your name, young man?” the judge asked.
“Bart. Bart Smith,” the young man squeaked.
“You got a wallet from him, Dooley?”
“Yeah. Uhh, yes judge,” he said as he saw Judge Oakley purse his lips. “That’s the name on his driver’s license. It’s from Maryland.”
“You’re a long way from home, Mr. Smith. Visiting relatives in Natchez?”
“No, sir, just passing through,” the young man murmured.
“How old are you, young man?”
Judge Oakley turned his eyes on Dooley, who smiled and nodded his head.
“Do you know what you’re doing here, Mr. Smith?”
“Getting fucked,” the young man said, and quite acidly too.
“That will be enough of that. This is a court of law, young man. You will have respect for the court.”
“What in the shit—?”
The young man didn’t get any more out than that, because Dooley backhanded him across the cheek. It wasn’t enough to send the young man toppling, but it got his attention.
“You heard the judge. Respect.”
“You are here on a charge of solicitation and vagrancy.”
“I’m not homeless or nothing, and all I asked you was if you needed anything.”
“I’ll take that as an admission of guilt. I hereby find you guilty of solicitation and vagrancy. You have three options. Jail time—thirty days, here in this jail, under the supervision of Officer Lumpkin here. Or a $300 fine, or community service. Which is it to be?”
“I ain’t got that much money. What would the community service be?”
“Twenty-four hours here, servicing Officer Lumpkin and me.”
“Christ almighty, you could have had that back in—”
Another backhand across the face shut him up.
Judge Oakley took him first, back on the cot in the cell, Bart’s wrists handcuffed above his head on the bars of the cell and Judge Oakley gripping his ankles and fucking him deep and slow.
Oakley was a relatively young, handsome man in good shape, and Bart went with the fuck, moving his pelvis with Oakley and making all of the noises of satisfaction that egged Oakley on.
Dooley’s turn wasn’t quite as welcome. There was that nightstick he wanted to use again and then the sounds he wanted to hear out of Bart were more on the pain than the pleasure side—and he worked hard at getting the sounds he wanted.
The judge and Officer Lumpkin played a game of checkers and killed off a couple of beers out in the front office while they were building up desire and need again, and then they had another round, much like the first, with Bart, who wasn’t nearly as happy to see Oakley the second time as he had been the first. But he had agreed to the community service option, so the judge and policemen were feeling just fine about how justice was working out. The young man had been soliciting sex up there in Natchez.
Judge Oakley went home for his supper and a quiet evening alone with his wife while Dooley was setting up for a new round with Bart. There would be time for Oakley to come back to help Bart Smith some more with his community service the next afternoon. The sentence had been for twenty-four hours from the time of sentencing.
* * * *
Early the next afternoon, Judge Oakley was stopping in at Claire’s boutique—finally having located where it was—before his drive south to Sibley, when Detective Grimes of the Natchez police opened the door and walked in. As he did so, two Natchez policemen stationed themselves outside on either side of the door.
“Why good afternoon, Jack. What brings you in a place like this? Your wife drop hints about what she wants for her birthday too? We got a conspiracy going on in this town?”
“Not of that nature,” the detective said. Then he cleared his throat. “I’m afraid I’m here to ask you to come over to the station.”
“I’ve got kind of a busy schedule today, Jack. What do they need me over at the station for? Some warrants to sign or something? I could—”
“Umm, no, I’m sorry, but—”
“Here, let me do it.” The voice was from another man altogether.
Judge Oakley looked around toward the door and his jaw dropped. There, standing inside the door, his police shield out, was . . . Bart Smith.
“I’m not Bart Smith and I’m not nineteen, and although I’m new around here, I’m not from Maryland,” the young man was saying. “I’m from the Natchez vice squad, and, Thomas Oakley, I’m arresting you on the charges of assault and corruption. I wish to inform you that you have the right to . . .”