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Baby Face

By Temple Madison

Published by JMS Books LLC at Smashwords

Visit jms-books.com for more information.

Copyright 2018 Temple Madison

ISBN 9781634865845

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Cover Design: Written Ink Designs | written-ink.com

Image(s) used under a Standard Royalty-Free License.

All rights reserved.

WARNING: This book is not transferable. It is for your own personal use. If it is sold, shared, or given away, it is an infringement of the copyright of this work and violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

No portion of this book may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the publisher, with the exception of brief excerpts used for the purposes of review.

This book is for ADULT AUDIENCES ONLY. It may contain sexually explicit scenes and graphic language which might be considered offensive by some readers. Please store your files where they cannot be accessed by minors.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published in the United States of America.

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Baby Face

By Temple Madison


The hour was late, the diner was closed, and Stoney Martin worked diligently wiping down the kitchen when he thought he heard a noise. When he turned to see what it was, some thug as big as a mountain had broken in and had a gun pointed at him.

The thug indicated toward the cash register and growled, “Open it.”

Stoney’s frightened gaze quickly shifted from the thug to the old-fashioned cash register. “I can’t. It’s locked.”

“So get the key and unlock it, dope.”

“But I don’t have the key.”

“Can’t you see this gun pointing at you? Open the damned cash register and give me the money, or I’ll blow you in two.”

Despite the danger he was facing, Stoney began getting annoyed. “Can’t you hear me? I don’t have the key. Want me to spell it out for you?”

“You got a smart mouth on you, blondie. Maybe you’d like a little hot lead—”

“Red!” the other hood yelled out while looking out the window anxiously, “don’t shoot him. We’re right in the middle of the city here. The sound will bring the whole damned police department down on…” His words slowly faded when his gaze cut toward Stoney. “Oh, my God, I can’t believe it. Hey, Red, you know who this cocksucker is? It’s Stoney Martin. You know, the guy in the magazine.”

When Red heard that, his eyes widened with recognition. His gaze immediately moved from his face and scanned down his sculpted body until he reached his full crotch. “Oh, my God,” Red whispered. Without looking around, he said to his partner, “Get out.”


“I said get out.”

“Hey, you ain’t—”

“Can’t you understand English? I said get the fuck out!”

“I don’t know what you got in mind, but think about it, Red, he’s…”

“Dragon,” he said threateningly.

With that his partner turned and ran.

Red’s gaze raked across the items in the small kitchen until he caught sight of an empty wine bottle nearby. With an evil smile, he stuck his gun in his belt, reached out and grabbed the bottle, and slammed it down on the edge of the counter. It shattered, the jagged edges jutting out like the blades of tiny knives. With eyes full of evil mischief, he shifted them back over at Stoney and began waving the broken bottle in the air threateningly.

“So you’re Stoney Martin, huh? One of them fuckin’ cocksuckers with a pretty face who lets guys fuck their hole. I seen your pictures. I seen you fuckin’ and suckin’ the asses of them men. If I didn’t think you were all sick, I might let you beat my meat for me, just to see what you could do. Well, I don’t fuck no man’s ass, see, and I don’t let them fuck me. The fact that you make me want to is a damn good reason to use this on your face.”

He lifted the broken wine bottle up, and said, “See them sharp edges? I was gonna shoot you, but like my partner said…too noisy. Besides, I think you’d rather die than have your pretty face all scarred up. Can you imagine what that would do to your career in porn?” He indicated toward the cash register. “You’d better open that cash register now, or you’re flirtin’ with more than death here. You’re flirtin’ with a ruined career and a ruined life, baby.”

“Look…I told you the truth. I—”

“I’m tired of your excuses, you little bastard!” Red yelled. “You gonna open it or not?”

“I can’t. I swear I—”

“Look, dummy, I mean what I say. If you don’t open that damned cash register, I’m gonna cut you up good. Got that?”

“But there’s nothing—”

“I guess you’re the kind that has to be shown,” Red chewed out through yellowing teeth that were wired with braces. Moving like lightning, he rushed Stoney and grabbed him around his neck.

Finding himself in the clutches of the enemy, Stoney grabbed the thug’s wrists, and tried to push the jagged glass away, but he was no match for the big man’s strength. He struggled as he watched the ugly, serrated edges come closer and closer, until suddenly he felt the thug’s fingers dig into his flesh.

“Help!” he yelled as loud as he could with the thug’s hand around his neck. “Help!”

Red laughed. “Can’t you do any better than that, sissy? Nobody’s gonna hear you, you might as well be singin’ a lullaby for all the good it’s doin’ you.”

The closer the jagged edge of the bottle came to Stoney’s face, the more he struggled, but he could hardly move. He was forced to watch as slowly, inch by inch, the broken bottle came nearer and nearer until Stoney could feel just the bare edges touch his face.

“So, how about it, kid? All you gotta do is open that cash register, and I’ll let you go.”

“I…c—can’t,” Stoney said, making Red even angrier.

“Do you hear me, kid? Do you realize what I’m sayin’ here? I’m gonna cut your fuckin’ face off! Got that? You’ll be nothin’ but a face full of scars walkin’ around. No more career, no more nothin’!”

“They’ll get you,” Stoney said with a shaky voice.

“It’ll be worth it, pretty boy,” Red said as the sharp edge of the bottle pressed a little harder.

As Stony felt the pain of the pointed edges press harder and harder against his face, his fear intensified. He struggled as hard as he could, but his enemy’s fingers were like steel cords along the back of his neck. He tried to fight. He even elbowed the thug in the stomach, but it only made him madder, causing his fingers to dig even deeper into his neck. Stoney cried out in torment when he felt an intense pain shoot up into his head. He grimaced as black waves engulfed him in darkness.

“You feel that? Imagine if I…” All at once Red felt Stoney go limp and began to shake him. “Hey!” he yelled. “Are you…why you bastard, wake up!” Realizing Stoney had passed out, he lowered his hand, knowing the time for playing was over.

Somewhere in Stoney’s darkness he felt the sharp edges of the bottle stab, dig, cut, and slice. “Oh, God, please,” came his strangled plea as he continued to grasp at Red’s hand to try and keep the bottle’s sharp edges away from his face, but Red was too strong for him. When Red pressed even harder Stoney could feel the cuts begin to burn as the jagged edge of the bottle slowly cut deep and painful. The more he struggled, the harder Red pressed the knifelike edges against his face. He was helpless as the sharp edges continued to stab and cut horribly along his face. He could feel cut after cut, after cut, pulling across his flesh until something wet began to creep down his face.

When it reached his mouth, the taste was coppery as it oozed over his lips. He realized he was tasting his own blood, and began to scream. The sound was long and agonizing as it was carried out into the night. He continued to thrash about, resisting the jagged edges that continued to cut across his face, until the lacerations burned so hot that it felt as if flames were engulfing his face. He endured it as long as he could, but then the pain became so intense he couldn’t stand it anymore, and felt his life slowly leaving him. When darkness slowly enveloped him once again, his limp body fell to the floor, and his screams slowly died.

Dragon ran in from outside. “What the hell is going on?” When he saw Stoney on the floor, his eyes widened in fright. “Oh, my God, what did you do? Is he dead?”

“I don’t know, and I ain’t stickin’ around to find out!”

Turning to run, they left Stoney for dead.

* * * *

One Week Later…

The Daily Star.

Hud Spencer spread the tabloid in front of him with the same pleasure he spread wine jelly on his toast every morning. He knew it was mostly fiction, but he didn’t care. It was better than a newspaper to him. Juicier, sweeter. He poured over the pages of gossip and scandal, lapping up every unsavory detail. He loved this only second to the celebrity gossip of divorces, affairs and wayward teenage antics…until his gaze caught one incredible line that blazed on the page like a neon sign…

Thief Slashes Porn Star’s Face!

* * * *

Chapter 1

Three months later…

Hud knew what was being said. It was all over the company he worked for. They called him a devil, a liar, rude, and egotistical—and they were right. But what they didn’t know was, it was all a show, an act he had to put on to live.

No one knew Hud’s secret.

No one knew what made him breathe heavy, his heart flutter. Was it that old devil, alcohol? Loose women? Drugs? What about money? No. None of those.

It was none other than—Stoney Martin, the biggest porn star this city had ever seen. He had spreads in many of the porn magazines including his favorite, Baby Face Magazine.

The truth was, Hud was gay, and had been forced into wearing a mask because the firm he worked for was antigay. If he didn’t come off acting like one of them, they might get suspicious, so what the hell else could he do? He had to make a living.

In his apartment, he had an old stack of Baby Face magazines that he took out every once in a while to look at when he was feeling lonely, and longed to feel a warm body next to his, or a pair of warm lips that moved beneath his, or an ass to plunge his long, hard cock into. Maybe he was only an image on a page in a magazine, but he moved and spoke in his dreams.

And then he read a sketchy article about some porn star’s misfortune. Names weren’t mentioned, only a blanked-out face that put a mysterious slant on the story. Since no names were mentioned, it was quickly read, and quickly forgotten because just about that time Stoney, his idol, sank into anonymity. He simply disappeared. Hud thought little of it since he figured he must be busy with his work.

He dreamed of meeting him someday, but he knew he’d never be that lucky. Even if he did, what would he say to him? Where do you go beyond hello? Should he tell him he’s dreamed of this moment? Hell, no. He’d feel like a groupie, or some lovesick fan. He wanted to be more than that. He wanted to be Stoney Martin’s lover, his protector, his everything.

Hud had had many lovers in his lifetime, but they were only to fill a need at the moment. Many who came and went were no more important to him than last week’s headlines. Only one man could steal Hud’s heart, and that was Stoney.

Now, after a busy day, he stood at the window of his hotel suite peering through a high-powered telescope, his gaze scanning the graffiti-decorated building just across the courtyard from him. He worked for Fashion House Condominiums and had been trying to convince the owners of the eyesore to sell it to his company so they could tear it down and build some chic, high-rent condominiums. He even spread a little honey on his lies by mentioning a doorman, elevators, and assuring them that in time it would become a very prestigious address, thereby bringing in a higher-than-average sale price.

He was proud of his conquests, and by using his high-pressured tactics as weapons, he took his victims down, one by one. He would lie, he would cheat, and he would even steal, if that’s what it took to get his client’s signature on a document. While gazing out on the crumbling building across the way, he thought of the honor he’d received just a few days ago for the last property he’d brought in.

What the hell…” he’d said when he walked into his boss’s office and saw the president of the company, the vice president, and the heads of all the departments gathered together. “Am I in the right place? What’s going on?”

Charles Temple, Hud’s boss, stepped up to the front, and said, “Hud, this little gathering is in your honor. If we could get right to the heart of why we’re here, let me say that it gives me great pleasure to award you this little gift. It’s from me and the others here for a job well done.” He then handed him a gift-wrapped box.

A gift? I’m…” He looked around at the others. “Would speechless apply here?”

Quick! Someone get a camera!” a voice in the background shouted. “When do we ever find Hud Spencer speechless?”

All right, all right, let’s lay off Hud!” Charles said. “C’mon, Hud, open it up.”

Well, hell, it’s not my birthday, or anniversary with the company,” he said, and then looked back over at his boss suspiciously. “There’s only one other occasion I can think of…” He hesitated a moment, and then continued. “Charles, if you’re trying to fire me, this isn’t the way to do it. You bring the guy in—”

Will you stop your spouting off and open the damned thing?”

Hud looked around at the other employees while opening the gift. “You hear the way he talks to me? Maybe I should…” His words faded when he looked down at the gray velvet jewelry box where he uncovered an expensive pair of glittery cuff links engraved with his initials. “Oh, my God,” Hud exclaimed.

That’s not all,” Charles said as he handed him another gift. “The cuff links are from all of us, but this is something very special from me and our president. You’ve been waiting for this a long time. I hope you’re pleased with it.”

When Hud opened it up, he looked at the usual white sign with red letters he’d seen in the parking lot, but this one spelled out his name. He looked up at Charles, and asked, “Does this mean I have my own parking space?”

It definitely does, and it’s a prime spot. We didn’t give you one before because you’re out of the office so much we didn’t think you needed if, but for someone who does the kind of work you do, you deserve this and so much more. I hope you’re pleased.”

Hell, yes. This beats Employee of the Month or Salesman of the Year all to hell, doesn’t it?”

We think so. Because of your unusually fine record, we wanted to say thanks in some way, but nothing seemed enough, so we had to think up something a little different to show our appreciation. The truth is, you’re more than just an employee or one of those door-to-door salesmen. You literally keep us in business.”

While everyone in the room gathered around Hud and slapped him on the back with congratulations, he said, “I’m really touched, Charles…Mr. Mason…all of you.”

Do you remember when you first came to Fashion House?” Charles said. “We gave you the east side, and then we gave you the west side, and before long you had all of Manhattan. To make your day complete, I have one more—”

Not another gift,” Hud said, laughing.

No. This is something we’ve been keeping from you for several weeks now, but I think it’s safe to unveil it now.” Charles led Hud over to a map and began pointing something out for him. “We plan to extend your area into these surrounding boroughs in the very near future. It’ll be slow at first, but if everything goes well, we’ll think about adding the rest later.” He looked up at Hud. “When that happens, guess who gets a whopping raise?”

My God, I can’t believe it,” Hud said as he grabbed his boss’s hand and began to shake it, and then went around the room shaking everyone else’s hand. “I certainly didn’t expect anything like this.”

We recognize drive when we see it,” Charles said. “We’ve had other men in this position in the past, but you’re the only one who’s managed to bring new clients in at a rate of almost a hundred percent. Now when I drive around this city, do you know what I see? Countless signs that say”—he raised his hands as if he were reading a marquee—“Future Building Site of Fashion House Condominiums.” He turned back to Hud. “I can’t tell you how proud we…hell, I’m proud of you.”

Thank you, Charles, and thank you, everyone—”

Speech! Speech!” a few voices shouted.

I’m not too good at giving speeches, but…well, just let me say now that I know someone is watching, I promise to do my job instead of spending my time in the bars getting drunk.”

Everyone laughed.

Seriously, though,” Hud said. “I don’t blame Fashion House for keeping tabs on me, and all of their employees. I expected it because it’s a sign of good leadership, and I think we can all agree that Charles Temple is certainly a good leader. I assure you, though, I’m not, and never have been, the kind of employee that has to be watched. I did the job I did because I was watching. Believe me, I am my own worst critic.”

Although the memory was a good one, there was a cloud that hung over everything in Hud’s world, making it dark and dreary. When he went to work for Fashion House, he didn’t know that they were antigay. By the time he’d found out, he’d already made his first sale, and the money in his bank account was way too much to ruin everything now, so he kept his mouth shut.

He always felt in the back of his mind that since he couldn’t hide his proclivity forever, he was just biding his time until he was found out. That was why he worked like a squirrel gathering nuts in winter. He knew bad weather was coming, and he had no idea how long it would be before the hammer fell.

He’d been invited in to take a tour of the pile of bricks next door, but he declined. He didn’t have to go into the building to know what he would see. The apartments would have peeling wallpaper, halls covered in graffiti, and trash gathered at the renters’ doors that was rarely picked up. He’d been in a million just like it because it was his job to find these places and circle over them like a hungry vulture until he had the owner’s signature on a contract in his briefcase.

When he spotted this one, luckily it had been located next to a prestigious hotel where he’d rented a suite. Everything around it was slowly being built up into a prominent community, but the owner of this eyesore was being a little stubborn and up to now had refused to sell. The only thing that separated these two buildings was a courtyard, putting him almost within shouting distance of the owner. He wined and dined him regularly, speaking the language of the con man. When he kept resisting the sale, Hud then zeroed in for the final blow. He simply told him that if he didn’t sell it willingly, soon the city would come into the picture, and he would be forced out at a minimum price, so why not beat them to the punch and make a little money on the deal? What he didn’t tell the man was that Hud would get up a petition himself and ultimately be the one to report his trashy property to the city. With that threat hanging over the owner’s head, Hud sat back comfortably and waited for the call that would come in after a restless night’s sleep from an eager property owner willing to sell. Once he had this one in his pocket, he figured his commission alone would have at least six zeroes in it.

Now, while still gazing through his telescope, he noticed the last rays of the sun fell like a blanket down on the busy city, as one by one people began coming home from work and moving around in their apartments preparing for the evening. Since these two buildings were so close, he could hear yelling voices raised in anger, TV blasting commercials, knocks on doors, an older woman entertaining a younger man, and in another apartment, a party was going on. He knew that by the time this night was over there would be drunks weaving around, boisterous voices laughing, yelling, and finally, cabs being called to get these partygoers home.

Moving from his telescope, to his binoculars, and then to his camera, he scanned the property, looking for cracks in the foundation, or in the walls. He needed evidence of any kind that would prove that the property was dangerous for the renters to live there, so he lifted his camera and focused.

Cracks in the foundation…click.

Overgrown vines…click.

Thick underbrush over twelve inches high…click.

Illegal dumping…click.

Abandoned vehicles…click.

After he’d scanned the building for about an hour, he had what he needed, until he could get out and walk the property. No doubt he had only seen the obvious. Next, he would most likely find an abandoned basement, graffitied walls, debris in the hallways, and the pièce de résistance, a drugged-out homeless person in the stairwell. It could be anyone from Meth Monster to Sextasy, the Julia Roberts lookalike who walks her area of the asphalt like it’s the red carpet in Hollywood.

Hud was tired, so he pushed his telescope aside to fix himself a stiff drink. Finally, with drink in hand, he happened to catch sight of another apartment. He stared for a moment, seeing a beautiful example of a perfect body moving around a shadowy apartment. Moving quickly, he swept his telescope around and focused it on the young man working out. He admired his body for a moment until he turned—and he saw his face.

Hud gasped.

Stopping in his tracks, he stared, seeing what looked like scars that covered the whole side of his face! It triggered something inside him, but he couldn’t place it. Something he’d seen…no, read about. What was it? The information was sitting in the back of his mind, but he couldn’t seem to bring it forward.

While he continued to stare, he saw the young man go into the bathroom for a shower. With no doors closed he could see him undress, and step beneath the steamy spray. His eyes stuck like glue. Never had he seen anyone so perfectly beautiful. His body was well proportioned, and his cock was a work of art. While the man rubbed himself with soap, he could see it becoming stiff. He looked around the apartment, almost expecting someone to come and get into the shower with him, but he stayed alone. At one point, he reached up and grabbed the rod that stretched across the shower while he began jacking himself off.

Seized by the moment, Hud could feel a heat begin at the heart of his groin and flood upward, taking control of his cock. He couldn’t turn his eyes away. He knew what the young man was feeling, he knew the chase for fulfillment, he knew what the grimace on his face meant when the final explosion of his seed spewed forth. His telescope was so powerful he almost felt as if he were in the bathroom with the man and longed to touch the beautiful ass the stranger turned to show him. It was rippled and muscled, making Hud’s own cock twitch with want. By now Hud’s cock was so big and full he wasn’t surprised when a blast of creamy cum finally burst out, leaving him weak.

As Hud continued to peer through his telescope, the stranger moved away, only to emerge moments later at the window dressed in a pair of soft terry cloth shorts. After spreading a towel across the landing, he set a bottle of tanning oil beside him as he lay down. Hud knew he was trying to get the last rays of the sun as it lay low in the sky and watched as he reached beneath the waistband of his shorts, and slid them down over his muscular abdomen, revealing everything except his manhood that stayed hidden beneath a patch of light blue cloth.

Hud’s heart pounded in his chest and his mouth went dry when he adjusted the strength of the lens of his telescope. Then he zeroed in on the stranger, the telescope revealing every ridge and cord of muscle as the stranger began rubbing the oil along his body, from the top of his wide, hairless chest, down to his washboard stomach few young men managed these days. Every twist, every turn, and every fluid movement revealed sculpted lines and curves that caused Hud’s breath to catch.

He watched the guy pour oil on his hands and begin covering his lower legs first and then work his way up to his calves and thighs with precise movements. Hud licked his lips when he saw the guy’s big hands slip inside his terry cloth fabric and smooth the oil over his cock, taking a little longer than necessary. Hud glanced around at the other windows wondering if this guy was worried that someone might see him fondling himself, and then looked back. By this time Hud was breathing hard, and his cock had filled again, and was begging for release. He realized he’d been caught up in this guy’s world of exhibition, and finally came out of it only long enough to ask himself, are you insane?

He had to force himself away from the window, feeling shame for what he was doing. Had his life become so lonely and desperate he’d reduced himself to spying on unsuspecting male sunbathers? But he turned back because he couldn’t stay away regardless of how much he chastised himself. He remained fascinated with this stranger who lay comfortably on his back applying oil to his face, across his wide chest, and finally, to his abdomen.

A sudden thirst came upon him, and he hurried to his bedside table and poured himself a glass of water. That was when he realized he was sweating. He didn’t know how long he stayed away, but when he turned back to the window, and again turned his telescope toward the young man of the hour, he saw him climb through the bedroom and pull the curtains.

Hud had to face it. The show was over for today, but he’d found himself a new pastime.

The next few days stretched into a week, with nothing on his mind except his next-door neighbor. Every night when he got home, he made himself comfortable in front of the telescope and began again until his arms would begin to hurt or he would get hungry and have to stop for dinner. He’d learned to eat fast and suffer with indigestion, but he continued watching this guy stretch and move under the sun like a lazy cat.

He strained to keep the lenses steady and his view unobstructed as he watched the man exercise. Every move seemed to work up a sweat of tiny beads that turned to delicious drops that fell down the man’s chest in the valley of muscle and across his abs.

And then he disappeared.

Even though Hud was tired, he waited.

Seconds that seemed like hours passed until he made an appearance in the living room again wearing a white towel riding low across his waist. Hud focused on the perfection of his body, willing his arms to fight against the strain to make out the thick oblique muscles that framed his perfect shape above the cloth. A moan escaped from Hud’s own mouth, and his eyes closed when he imagined how good his body would feel in his arms. It was so beautiful it ushered him into an orgasm with a blast so powerful, he looked down and saw that he had messed up his pants.

He’d learned that voyeurism could be a dirty pastime, especially when the performer was a sexy male putting on a better show than the corner strip joint. Since it didn’t seem as if anything else was happening, and since Hud was uncomfortable in his wet pants, he was just about to strip down naked and clean himself up when he looked up and saw that the man had plopped down on the couch with a beer. It was a direct view into his apartment, so Hud took his telescope, focused it, and kept staring. His eyes searched his scarred face, admiring the smooth side when suddenly he saw the kid’s eyes shift—and they were looking at each other!

* * * *

Chapter 2

Stoney stared, watching as the man pulled away from the telescope when he realized he’d been seen. Feeling exposed, he instinctively brought his hand up to his own face and felt his scars.

Had he seen them?

Even though the TV was blasting out his favorite show, Stoney paid no attention. He quickly jumped up and hurried to the bathroom. As he stood in front of his mirror, he looked at himself, remembering what life was like when he looked normal.

He was blond, blue-eyed, and thought of as pretty. Not handsome, not cute, but pretty. He was the type of guy the gay magazines clamored for, and it wasn’t so long ago that Stoney modeled for one called Baby Face. He made good money, kept his hair in the latest punk style, and dressed in the latest punk fashion. He had a hot, tight butt, luminous blue eyes, and a sexy swagger. Stoney knew he was in hot demand back then and knowing that might have made him a bit cocky. He was popular because he was the quintessential gay man who didn’t grow hair on his chest or back like other men. He had a smooth body, was on the slight side, and about average height. It seemed like God had given him the perfect body to be a submissive, because he seemed to attract the aggressive type and was glad to let them play their role. Damn, he’d had some good fucks with some wild and crazy guys, but he was no whore. Every time one wanted to pay him to be with them exclusively, he backed away, eventually getting lost in the dark world he found himself in now.

Now, as he looked at himself in his mirror, his gaze stayed riveted to his face. What was smooth and soft before was now a mass of disfigured skin that seemed to be pulled in different directions. As it healed, the redness became unusually white, and his face eventually settled into a disfigurement that was anything but attractive. No matter how many times Stoney saw it, he winced. Without a doubt, his modeling days were over, and because of his disfigurement, he wasn’t comfortable going out among people. Not making the big bucks any longer, he had to rent a cheaper place and managed to buy a newsstand from an old geezer who wanted to retire. It had become run down, and with what money he had left, he built it up and stocked it with things the other newsstands didn’t have. By the time he was through, he had a sign up over the top that said simply, Bite of the Apple. Because of the catchy name, he eventually became known all over New York. Every day he could be found in his booth selling papers to rich people, poor people, and even carried all the popular magazines, including the one he used to model for.

His newsstand caused talk at first, and then people began stopping by just to get a look at him. To them, he was a little mysterious, keeping to himself and hiding one side of his face with his hair. A few even tried to strike up a conversation with him about the catchy name of his stand, but that’s as far as it went. Even though he got to know many of them, they never got too close because they were the normal people, and that was the way they wanted it. They were careful to hold him at arm’s length. Stoney knew this because he used to be one of them. They might talk and laugh with those who were beneath them, buy from them, and wish them a great day, but that was it. Don’t get too chummy because the disease of poverty might rub off on them. He was liked only because he was different and gave them something to look at, laugh about, and talk about when they got back to the office, home from their dates, or during drinks with their friends after the sun went down. Beyond that, for all they knew, he, and his business, simply blended into the cracked asphalt, the dirty dumpsters, and the sewers that spewed out their steam nightly.

It was okay. He didn’t care. He wasn’t looking for friends. All he wanted was to be left alone. Maybe he did give off a mysterious air, but he took pride in his newsstand. It was one of the best. He sold newspapers, magazines, maps of the city, and guides, all kinds of snacks, cigarettes, lottery tickets, and just recently he had begun selling tickets to the Broadway shows.

He was happy—at least as happy as he could be in his situation. He had a business, regular customers that didn’t mind spending money, and as long as they did, he would play his part as the dark, mysterious owner of Bite of the Apple. Selling newspapers in the middle of Manhattan wasn’t something he ever thought he’d be doing, but then surprises came along ever so often, didn’t they?

And the next one was just around the corner.

* * * *

The next day, Hud was in a cab with a driver who spoke fluent Spanglish. He’d been hearing about the newsstand they called Bite of the Apple that everyone was talking about and asked the cabbie about it. “I mean, a newsstand is a newsstand, right? What could one newsstand have that would be so much better than another one, right? Kind of stupid if you ask me.”

“Oh, no, not stupid. From what I hear, the gringo is cleaning up,” the cabbie replied while battling jaywalkers and traffic tie-ups.

And then Hud thought back to what someone had said at work.

It covers up what looks like scars on his face.

Hud felt a jolt.

Where is this newsstand?” he asked his office buddy.

It sits on the corner of Times Square and a Hundred and Fifty-Seventh Street next to a bar called Jim’s. It’s a big square booth type thing with a sign up above that says, Bite of the Apple. He has everything. Do you know the guy even had a pay phone installed and worked out a deal with the telephone company to get a percentage of the calls made there? Damn! The man is cleaning up.”

That’s a waste of money. Everyone’s got cell phones today.”

Not necessarily. You’d be surprised at the business he does with that pay phone. I mean batteries play out, right, or you can’t get a signal around these tall buildings.” He gave a shrug. “In that case you’d need a pay phone, wouldn’t you? The thing is, anybody that stops by to use the phone, nine times out of ten they stay to buy something. I’m tellin’ you, the man knows what he’s doin’.”

How old is the guy running it? Old geezer, huh?”

No. I’d say he’s somewhere in his twenties. In spite of the swatch of hair that hangs over his face, you can tell he’s pretty young. And good-lookin’, too.” He gave a slight shrug. “At least he must have been once.”

You say he has scars?”

I think so. As near as I can tell, at least. I’d love to know what happened to him, but I certainly don’t want to ask him about it. But God, he’s smart. Whatever happened to his face sure didn’t affect his brain.”

Now, as Hud held on while the cab made a wild path weaving in and out of traffic, he couldn’t get the newsstand off his mind. After thinking about it for a moment, he told the cabbie, “Hey, forget about that address I gave you. Take me to Times Square.”

“Got it,” the cabbie answered, and swerved into a turn just as the light turned green.

After they’d been driving a while, Hud was looking out the window and happened to see the newsstand with the strange name.

Bite of the Apple. Odd, but catchy.

“Stop!” he shouted, causing the cab driver to plunge down on the brakes.

“What the hell do you shout at?” the cabbie yelled in his broken English.

“Sorry,” Hud said. “I saw a newsstand and wanted to get the latest issue of Esquire.”

Revista de ricos,” the cabbie muttered. “I wait for you?”

“No, you can go ahead. I live nearby.”

Just then the cabbie looked back when he heard a sudden barrage of honking horns behind them. “Hey, gringo, I must go. The carros, they pile up back there.”

Hud started digging for his wallet and then threw several bills into the seat in front of him before he opened the door and got out.

In a hurry, the cabbie pulled away, burning rubber.

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