|Beyond the Walls of the Citadel|
Nick had taken to studies under a tutor he’d been assigned and even managed to complete prep-school at Bishop England Catholic High School in South Carolina before Harry used his connections to get him into The Citadel. Noting Nicky’s physique and size, Harry hoped Nick would adapt and choose a military career to be primed for life there… better than as a civilian in Ivy League colleges.
Nick loved the discipline at The Citadel more so than he did the studies and, because he was possibly the most physically intimidating “knob” on campus, he was not hazed as much as other Fourth Class Cadets there. Engineering, mathematics, military history and instruction weren’t for him but, hell, Nick had already been institutionalized and anything, even the rigors of a Catholic prep school and the military academy, were a good deal better than the dumbed-down kindergarten of Los Prietos. He decided, after his first year at the Citadel, he had no desire for a military career nor did he have any academic aspirations. He discovered that a gift for gab and money opened doors for him that even the best colleges couldn’t. By this time, he had taken to the newly discovered privileges of wealth and the prestige that wearing the right clothes, driving the right car and living in the best neighborhoods, could avail him. He felt that he was wasting time sitting in classrooms when there was so much money to be made in the world beyond the walls of the Citadel.
While Nick was at the Academy, and because Harry was hardly ever around much, Marilynn acquired a Realtors’ license and set up an office in Mount Pleasant. Nick fell right in with her after leaving college and the two; Nick’s natural good looks, glib tongue in conjunction with an innate ability to read other people; together with Marilyn’s pretentious airs and business acumen, made them a good team, tailor made for the polite airs of Southern congeniality. She was a matronly southern-belle whose pretenses were less annoying to Nick than they might have been had he not already spent some time at Bishop England and The Citadel acquiring manners.
Nick took his libido into town to the gay bars and picked up on an occasional prostitute too. He hadn’t the pedigree for the society girls and he was a twenty-seven year old bachelor with what would be a good prospect anywhere else but Charleston. While sitting at Dandey’s, complaining about his last affair that ended just when he thought he’d arrived, a real-estate acquaintance asked him, “Why honey, are you wasting your time with these stuck-up bitches in Charleston? You don’t have the pedigree for these Southern Belles…”
“Yeh, that’s true, but if only…”
“If only… if only, darlin’… if wishes were fishes.” Nicky listened out of boredom but paid attention because this swish with the fishes was on to something when he quoted the Beatles song, “You should get back to where you once belonged… Jo-Joe.”
“You mean California?” Nick's paranoia had him wondering what this fag knew about his stay at Los Prietos.
“Oh sweetheart, you are getting warm…” he nuzzled up to Nick’s ear, “C’mon, Nicky, you know Santa Barbara is teeming with trust-fund babies who could care less about class distinction.”
“What do you know about Santa Barbara?” Nicky wiped the moisture from his ear with his sleeve.
The friend leaned back on his bar stool slurring, “Oh, they have one of the mo-ossst delightful gay-bars in the whole world, lover boy,” he then stood with his chest puffed out proudly, “go to ‘The Pub’ and be sure to tell Frankie, Donny of Charleston says, ‘Hi there’.”
Nick’s mind was blank about the night before… he remembered the conversation with Donny about Santa Barbara. His mind raced… putting pieces of memory in place… there was cocaine; making out in the back seat of a cab; a creepy blank space after that. He was there in a strange bed. He turned over on his side to reach over… chiefly, to find out whose bed he was in. His arm fell on cold flesh… Donny was there… face down with wrists tied to bed posts… a silk tie stretched tight around his neck… shit, dead… what? Dead! Oh, God, get out of here!
He drove to the office, hung-over, replaying the events of the night before in his mind. He remembered making out in Donny’s bed and then the screen went blank… nothing… Oh, shit, what’s going to happen… no one saw me leave his apartment… or did they? Oh, no, everyone at the bar saw us leave together… what the fuck… make up a story now… come up with something. There is sure to be an investigation. Did I leave any evidence?… semen... new stuff… DNA… (DNA was in its infancy back then). Should I call Harry?