A Season in Galicia

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Chapter One: Paul

The guitarist had been playing flamenco rhythms when I joined Ralph Peters, Sean Madden, and Holland Howard at one of the back tables in the Kennedy Center’s small KC Jazz Club hall in Washington, D.C. I’d had a few stops to make after our practice of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington at its P Street rehearsal hall just west of Dupont Circle. Ralph, who was a State Department cultural affairs officer—and a second tenor in the chorus—had invited us to come by to listen to a cultural exchange musician from Lugo, in Spain, he was herding around the country.

The tickets were free, I needed to stop in someplace warm anyway to get out of this damn interminable snowy winter weather on the East Coast that had intruded into spring, and I wasn’t anxious to be at home this evening with Sean because we were in a rolling fight that I’d come to believe would lead to a termination of our relationship. I suddenly was glad that we hadn’t tied the knot the first chance we’d gotten. I was willing; he less so. I guess he knew better than I did what real commitment required.

Sean was my last real tie to Washington—beyond the men’s chorus, of course. And the young and twinky blond was that rare commodity, a first tenor, in the chorus. I was a much more plentiful baritone, so if one of us had to give that up to avoid the other, it really should be me. There wasn’t much other reason to hang on. When I’d retired from the law practice early, at fifty-four, I’d said I wanted to travel the world footloose and free. But I hadn’t taken my shoes from under the bed Sean and I shared yet. I suspect he had been looking forward to me traveling the world too, so that he could put a variety of other shoes under my bed. In any case, it was me who was paying for the bed, and I assume that was Sean’s main reason for hanging on in the relationship.

I was greeted at the Kennedy Center venue with relief by the second tenor, Ralph, who had the job of trying to make the room look like it was a sell-out crowd. I was waved in with obvious affection by Holland, who had been my colleague and mentor at the international law firm and who rounded out our little men’s chorus quartet as a bass. And I was met frostily by Sean, who wanted me to know he was still in a snit, but who didn’t want to push it too hard because I was the one keeping him in a luxury apartment just steps away, at the Watergate, and in food and clothes.

It took me some time to unravel all of the layers of clothing I had on in response to the snowfall outside that had continued into late March, and I had only started to complain about the weather when both Ralph and Howard held up their hands to stave off my now overly familiar complaint. I made no bones about preferring at least semitropical—or Mediterranean—climates. And yet I continued to live in the Mid-Atlantic states even past retirement and with a financial grounding that could permit me to live anywhere I wanted—and even to keep a tropical-climate second home. When I attempted the complaint, Sean just rolled his eyes and gave me a glassy stare.

The atmosphere with Sean became even more icy as the guitarist on stage segued into ballads and, for the first time, drew my attention. He was a handsome man, although perhaps with more character in his face than truly handsome. His features were rugged, dark, and brooding—almost sultry, I would say. His complexion was swarthy, with a two-day growth of beard that he probably kept at that length for the macho effect. I gauged him to be in his late twenties or early thirties. His raven-black hair was wavy and worn long, shoulder length. He was slim, nearly to the point of being gaunt, but he also was muscular. I knew from the program provided that he was Spanish, from Galicia, the northwest quadrant of the country, famous for its rich cultural history and its vineyards, and I could see him spending as much time working in the vineyard as at his musical craft. As is my fetish, I imaged him working shirtless, his tight torso muscles rippling in the effort to care for the vines. He was a strange mix of refinement and roughness, and I was drawn to him by more than his music.

That wasn’t to say that he wasn’t proficient enough at his musical craft to be sponsored for a trip to the States and small-venue concerts in rooms like this one at the Kennedy Center. The spotlight was on the strong, calloused hands, with the long, sensuous fingers, that he was using to play his guitar, and it was as much that as the beauty I found in him and the sweet ballad music he was playing that captivated my attention—and, yes, my arousal.

The Galicia region of Spain, I thought. I hadn’t considered going there. I had considered Portugal, though, which also was on the Atlantic coast just southwest of Galicia. I decided I would consider that part of Spain now, especially after I’d leaned over to Ralph and said, “Are all the men in Galicia that sexy?”

“All of them under forty,” Ralph had answered, with a laugh.

I looked over at Sean, who was pouting, which, canlı bahis şirketleri of course, on his Byronesque blond visage, looked cute, and I realized that it was, indeed, over with him. I no longer was that interested in “cute”—and certainly not in brooding.

I had retired in a pique. It wasn’t Howard who had asked me if my coming out would hurt the business of the law firm, but it might as well have been him. He knew I was gay. He had initiated me—years and years ago when I was clerking for him. But he wasn’t surfacing this question among the other senior partners of the firm. He was too powerful. They only brought it up when I paraded Sean out and joined the gay men’s chorus. Howard hadn’t come out; I had. And it wasn’t Howard who took the consequences.

So, I retired early; took my assets, which were considerable, out of the firm; and started a new, carefree life. But had I really? Was I really carefree? I was still here in Washington, still with Sean in my bed—but not enjoying that nearly as much as I had when it was all hush hush.

“And what do you think of our Spanish guitarist? I mean his music, not his sultry beauty,” Ralph whispered to me while the musician was taking a short break. Ralph was the nervous type, and for some reason he always wanted to know what I thought about one of his State Department cultural projects. Maybe he kept asking because I was always honest with him and he often made adjustments from my suggestions.

“He’s beautiful,” I answered. “I’d like to take him home with me.”

“I meant the music, I said,” Ralph shot back, with a laugh. “You’re always ready to take a good-looking man home.”

I heard a huff from the other side of the table. I thought that Ralph and I were conversing at low enough volume, but perhaps not. That was at the base of our rolling fight. Sean had dragged me to an art gallery opening—he was a curator at the Smithsonian—and had left me to flutter around with a group of his friends, so I’d taken one of the artists home for the night. Sean somehow had expected me to just stand around and be his presentable meal ticket, I guess. But if he thought I was going to let him control me like that simply because I was moving up in age, he was sadly mistaken.

Besides, I’d taken the artist home because I sensed that Sean was going to go off with one of his friends. And, indeed, he didn’t return home that night. I had done what I did, I now thought, to bring the roundabout arguing we’d been doing to a boil.

“The music is beautiful too,” I said. “I very much like how his hands were spotlighted. I suggest you keep that in future concerts.”

“Will do. Thanks. I’m glad you liked that. I’m taking him to Vinoteca for a late dinner, and he’s agreed to play a few sets in their upstairs lounge. Would you like to go with us?”

“Yes,” I shot back immediately.

“And would Sean—?”

“No. We drove separately, and I know Sean has an exhibit to put together and needs to be at work early tomorrow. We’ll just not mention Vinoteca, shall we?”

Vinoteca was a small, exclusive restaurant in northwest D.C. that included trendy jazz and specialty music in its upstairs lounge. Ralph often took the exchange musicians there for more intimate gigs.

It was in the upstairs lounge at Vinoteca that I learned that the Spanish guitarist, who Ralph introduced me to as Xavier Franco and who had a firm handshake and a divine, speculative smile, also had a heavenly tenor voice and I became totally smitten with the man.

And if I had to guess, I would have said he was smitten with me too. We sat near him at a table, and all the time he was playing and singing, he seemed to be playing just for me—to me. When he’d asked how I liked his concert at the Kennedy Center, I had been honest—that the flamenco music very good, but what really caught my interest were the ballads. And here, at Vinoteca, he played mostly ballads. He played them and he sang them to me.

He started off one by explaining that it was an Irish Celtic song but that his region of Spain had once been Celtic too and retained the influence of the Celts in its music. Thus, he was going to sing “Star of County Down,” which I joined in applauding as I knew that ballad well—we’d sung it in the gay men’s chorus—but he was going to alternate the verses in the languages of his home—Galego, Castilian, and the musical-heritage Celtic language. He would sing the chorus in English.

Somehow Ralph must have told him I sang too and knew that ballad, because when he came to the first singing of the chorus, he paused and motioned to me.

“From Bantry Bay up to Derry quay and from Galway to Dublin town . . .” he sang in a clear, high tenor. On the next line, “No maid I’ve seen like the brown colleen that I met in the County Down,” I tentatively came in under him in a baritone harmony with the melody he was singing.

I came in stronger on the next chorus, after he’d sung verse two: “As she onward sped . . .” in Castilian Spanish, and here, as he guided me, I canlı kaçak iddaa took over the melody of the chorus, with him soaring above me in a tenor harmony.

I was smitten, and the decibel rating of the applause indicated that others had been smitten too.

A beaming Ralph put his hand on my forearm amid the hearty applause and said, “I have Xavier booked into the Georgetown Suites Harbor Hotel, which should be on your way home to the Watergate. It’s getting very late and I have to check in at State before I go home—and Randy’s been complaining a lot lately on how late I’ve been getting home. Would you mind terribly . . .?”

No, I wouldn’t mind at all.

* * * *

I’m sure we both knew we were going to fuck when Xavier took my car keys from me, handed them over to the valet, and invited me up to his hotel room. But it was still a surprise to me that, when I came up to his room from the bar downstairs with the bottle of whiskey he wanted and two glasses, I found him stripped down to his briefs and sitting on the side of the bed, strumming his guitar.

He spoke better English than I spoke Spanish, so that’s what we spoke. I was impressed that although he had all of the rugged looks of a farm laborer—belied as they were by the sensitive way he stroked his guitar strings—he spoke so many languages, as he had demonstrated by singing in Spanish and Galician as well as Celtic and English. And I was nonplused that we did talk, sitting there side by side on the hotel bed, sipping whiskey, and talking about Spain and music and his impressions of the States, when we both knew what we were working up to, especially since he settled that off the top.

“Ralph told me he knows you from some sort of gay men’s choir—that you both go with men.”

“That’s right,” I answered. “Does that make you uncomfortable?”

“No, not in the least. I find you very attractive. Ralph tells me that you are very well equipped, as well.”

“Does he now?”

“He says you are a top.”

“Mostly. I have gone both ways, but, yes, I prefer to top. I hope that—”

“Is convenient? Yes, it is. I knew as soon as I saw you that we were going to fuck. I do like to have some form of release after playing concerts as tonight. That cultural palace on the river is quite intimidating to someone who comes from rural Galicia.”

“Cultural palace on the river? Oh, you mean the Kennedy Center. Yes, it’s imposing, I suppose, but we have arts centers like that in most of our big cities. I thought the jazz club setting was just right for your performance. It was very intimate—sensual even—and I thought it suited you. You’re a very sexy young man, you know.”

I was confused. I was used to working up to it. He had initially been very direct—and matter of fact. It was as if having established we would fuck—and, indeed, I could see that he was as hard inside his briefs as I knew I was—he now wanted to revert to some cultural form of foreplay.

We had spoken of getting it on—making sure we were a fit, which, I was pleased to learn, we were. But he now was talking of his experiences on his tour. I almost laughed. I was sitting beside him, still fully clothed, the two of us nursing a bottle of whiskey, and nearly nude he had approached getting down to the sex I assumed we would have—we both knew I could tell he was hard; I certainly was—and were now having a civil conversation on his impressions of his musical program.

“I have played in Madrid and Barcelona, of course. They are more festive than here. They chatter through the music but somehow still absorb it completely. The audiences I’ve played to here so far are so serious. I wonder if they really like—”

“Your audiences at both the Kennedy Center and the restaurant this evening were mesmerized by your playing, Xavier. You understand what mesmerized means?”

Xavier nodded that he did. I continued. “They listened so silently out of respect and because they didn’t want to miss a single chord of what you were playing or lose the tune of what you were singing. You didn’t like this reaction?”

“No, I did like that I wasn’t just background music. But it put so much responsibility on me—I felt like I had to work so much harder to make it sound right. I’m afraid I made many mistakes. In Spain, I play at the outdoor restaurants at night and just sit in the shadows, giving a foundation to the dinner conversation.”

“You made no mistakes that I or, I’m sure, anyone else heard, Xavier. Your playing was divine. And you know what else is divine?”

“No, what?”

“Your body is divine. The curve of your hard cock that I’m tracing inside your briefs is divine. And the whiskey bottle is empty. And it’s getting late.”

“You want to fuck now?” he asked in a matter-of-fact tone.

“I want to make love to you now,” I responded.

“No, I wish to make love to your body first,” he said, as he laid his guitar aside, sank to his knees in front of me, gently parted my knees to put my legs into a wide-open stance, unzipped my canlı kaçak bahis trousers, fished my cock out, and opened his lips over it. As I sighed and leaned back, burying my elbows into the surface of the bedspread behind me, he moved a hand up my belly to my chest, opening buttons on my shirt and spreading the shirt open as he moved. His hands glided over my chest and belly. I was glad I was in good physical shape. His touch there was as intimate as his encasing of my shaft by this mouth.

The abruptness and baldness with which he went about it embarrassed me and actually made me start to go soft, so I pulled him up to beside me on the bed, embraced him with one arm, and my hand went to his dick through the material of his briefs as his hand encased my cock. I moved us back to panting foreplay. That helped return me to getting hard and I was able to get him going in that direction too. I tried to kiss him on the lips, but he turned his face from me. It was obvious he wasn’t interested in that sort of intimacy. He did, however allow me to kiss him elsewhere on the face, in the hollow of his neck, and down to his nipples.

He came quickly with just that much attention. I had managed to move my hand under the waistband of his briefs and grasp and stroke his cock a few times before he came, but not much more. It was as if he hadn’t really done this before and had no control over building up his arousal.

After he came, he pushed me off him, stood and stripped his briefs off, mounted the bed, and immediately went on all fours, with his legs spread and his tail turned to me. He was signaling that he wanted to get on with it—that he was offering his ass for me.

It was a very nice ass. His thighs and buttocks were covered with a curly black down and even his asshole was rimmed with black fuzz. Aroused by his lean, sinewy body, much more of the man of the outdoors and hard work than I was used to encountering in the cultural circles I traveled in, I moved behind him, working my tongue over the down on his thighs and buttocks and then smoothing down that encircling his rim before moving my tongue inside him. I grasped his cock, pulled it back between his legs, and divided my efforts and attention between his asshole and his cock and balls.

He moaned, trembled, and moved languidly under my embrace. It took time for me to open him to the point that I thought he could take me and then more time, with him grunting and groaning but holding in place like a bitch dog wanting it, before I could finally work my thickness inside. But then he just stoically took it until I had pumped him to an ejaculation.

Afterward, we stretched out against each other on the bed, naked, and he let me embrace him and slow stroke his cock as we both dozed off. I made another move to kiss him on the lips, but this obviously wasn’t something he liked, so I desisted. He still left me with the impression—even though there was no holding back from him in letting me fuck him—that he hadn’t been with that many men before.

When I woke sometime in the middle of the night, it was with an aching pain in the arm that I had under him, encasing his waist at this point. His back was propped up on pillows against the headboard, and he was smoking a cigarette, a little frown on his face, his face highlighted by the only illumination in the room, the lamp on the nightstand.

“Do you regret—?” I started to say, but he didn’t let me finish the sentence.

“No, of course not.”

I moved my left arm from under him while moving my right arm over his belly and turning toward him. I lowered my mouth to his right nipple and licked and sucked it. He was breathing more heavily than when I woke and I could feel his dick start to harden under the attentions of my right hand. But his cigarette apparently was important enough to him not to respond otherwise.

“I don’t think you’re supposed to be smoking in this hotel,” I murmured, “especially not in bed.”

“If they want to chase me down for it, they’ll have to follow me to Spain,” he said, his voice a low growl—not angry, more disinterested in what anyone thought about him smoking.

“So, even from what you’ve seen in the States, you want to go back to Spain?” It was a pertinent question. He looked like he came from rough, somewhat primitive circumstances in Spain—although I’ll have to admit that this was a large part of his turn-on factor for me—and from what I heard from Ralph on these cultural exchange programs, it was a problem often to return musicians like him to their home circumstances after they’d gotten a taste of the amenities and appreciative paying audiences in the States. The program was meant to seed pro-American sentiment in countries abroad, not to skim off the cultural cream of other societies, but often the effect was the latter.

“I can’t wait to go home. I am enjoying this tour, yes, but I would wither and die if I was away from Galicia for long. That is heaven on earth.”

He spent considerable time then, as I was working his nipple with my mouth and his cock with my hand telling me of how much a paradise that region of Spain was. And, though I was concentrating in preparing him for sex again, I was listening to him too, and he had me convinced of the glories of the region he came from.

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