First Pages: Holiday Gay by Don Holliday
Welcome to a new series from Somewhere Books: First Pages on Fridays! Every Friday, we’ll share the first pages from a book (usually vintage), along with a bit of information about the author and the book’s history.
We’ll start with a seasonal favorite: Holiday Gay by Don Holliday. This pulp novel was published in 1967 by Phenix Publishers (San Diego, CA), as part of the Companion Books series. “Don Holliday” is a pen name for Victor J. Banis, a prolific author of more than 60 books from 1963 to 2011. Holiday Gay is the eighth book in the “C.A.M.P.” series, featuring a swishy gay “007”-type agent.
From the back cover: “Would you believe a lavender Santa swishing down the chimney? Well how about Jackie Holmes in little girl drag, chasing the jewels to the tune of the Pearly Freecock as played by Birdie Wing and the Swallow Children? Cruise in for a while . . . ’tis the season to be gay and jolly. . . .”
Yes, it’s silly; yes, it’s naughty. But what else do you expect from a campy gay pulp written in 1967 (with a holiday theme, nonetheless)? At least it doesn’t take itself too seriously, right? Enjoy reading!
There was something about the holiday season and Christmas time that Jackie Holmes always especially liked. Most of all, it was evenings like this one, set aside for trimming the tree. Here he was, in a cozy warm apartment. The fire was blazing brightly in the fireplace. A tall fir tree had been correctly placed in its stand and was already saturating the room with its delicious scent. Hot toddies had gone a long way to putting him in a dreamy mood. And to make the picture complete, he had the benefit of delightful company. There beside him was one of those beautiful young men one usually just dreams about–tall, husky, with gray eyes behind long lashes, olive hued skin, and an erotically carved mouth. The picture couldn’t have been more perfect.
“How do you like those balls?”
“Perfect,” Jackie murmured appreciatively. He traced a finger over one of them.
“What about this, do you think it’s too big?”
“Not at all. It looks better standing, though, than it did hanging. I wish we could put it on top of the tree.”
His companion laughed, a deep, throaty sound that sent a shiver up Jackie’s spine. “Too much weight, I’m afraid. It would bend the tree down.”
“I guess you’re right. But the color’s so perfect–that deep red crown.” He paused for a moment, devoting himself to his efforts.
“That’s better,” his friend surveyed the results of the efforts. “That gives it a shiny look, makes it glisten. I think that’s more appropriate.”
Jackie frowned thoughtfully. “Maybe just a little more,” he suggested. After a moment, he added, “Christmas just isn’t Christmas without sweets. Hard candy at that.”
“I don’t know when I’ve enjoyed the season more. I wish it were Christmas Eve. That bit about going off up the chimney always gets to me.”
“Sounds like a waste to me,” Jackie answered. He turned slightly on the bearskin rug, and his glance fell momentarily on the tall Christmas tree. Beside it, still unopened, was the large trunk in which he always stored the decorations. Oh well, he though philosophically, he could always trim it tomorrow. As it had turned out, he had for more urgent things to tend to this evening.
He looked back at his companion. Like Jackie, Lorenzo was naked, reclining lazily on the soft rug. He smiled, his dark lips parting to reveal dazzling, even teeth. In the firelight, his satiny skin gleamed maddeningly. Jackie reached out to the broad chest, and ran one finger lightly over a brown nipple. His finger slipped downward, over the rippling surface of a brown stomach. It curled in the thick patch of gleaming black hair, and then it was back to its previous source of pleasure.
A massive arm moved about him, pulling him close again, and Jackie felt himself drawn into the gray depths of those haunting eyes. His lips were crushed beneath another pair, and then a warm tongue invaded his mouth. Jackie shivered as a strong male hand stroked his back, making its way downward.
“Beautiful box,” Lorenzo managed to whisper. “I wouldn’t mind getting something in that.”
“I hope you don’t want to wait till Christmas.” Jackie tensed momentarily, and then relaxed to the firm, confident exploration that was taking place. Sexually, he regarded himself as a seasoned traveler; and the seasoned traveler, he had learned from experience, had to be prepared to travel whatever route necessary to reach his destination. At times, that had meant traveling virgin territory, but not in this instance.
He was rolled gently over, onto his back. For a moment they lay like that, the powerful weight of Lorenzo’s body crushing him down against the rug. It lifted then, and he felt his legs being raised into the air, balanced on wide, thickly muscled shoulders. He opened his eyes to smile up into Lorenzo’s eager, thrilled face.
“Should I say please?” his companion wanted to know.
“Save your breath for ‘thank you’,” Jackie informed him. They kissed, and he felt the first, tentative probings, then a slowly increasing pressure. He was reminded, for a brief second, of his companion’s impressive size, but the memory was not an unpleasant one. He moaned softly, more from pleasure than from pain, and then he felt himself filling up, seeming to swell with pleasure as the sensations moved rigidly deeper.
Lorenzo kissed him, and then buried his face in Jackie’s hair, gasping hoarsely. “Dio, it’s never been like this. I’m in Heaven.”
“I’ll be there myself by the time this is finished,” Jackie informed him. “Because I think I’m going to have the hell screwed out of me.”
He was right in his expectations. Until now, it had been forceful, but cautious. It moved on until its journey was completed, the lovely ornaments that Jackie had admired before brushing gently against the smoothness of his taut buttocks. Then, scattering goosebumps over his flesh, Jackie felt it withdrawing, slowly, slowly–only to come crushing into him again, this time with an intense ferocity.
Jackie moaned again, arching upward off the rug. “Careful of the rib cage,” he managed to gasp, as the plunging became a roller coaster ride at breakneck speed.
“Ah, ah,” Lorenzo sighed and sobbed, hurling himself against his partner. “So beautiful, so unbelievable. It’s like a miracle.”
Then, so abruptly that it was shocking, he came to a complete stop. “It is a miracle,” he exclaimed, his eyes wide with astonishment. “Listen, I hear bells!”
For the first time, Jackie heard them too, filtering through the haze of his arousal–chimes, actually, special signal that only he would understand.
“Christ!” he swore aloud.
This exclamation only increased his partner’s consternation. “Then it is truly a miracle, a virgin birth–the second coming!”
“Hardly a virgin,” Jackie reminded him. “Although any birth from this would certainly be a miracle. Anyway, I think we can forget about coming.”
He extricated himself from the now passive embrace of his befuddled partner. “Don’t go away,” he said, heading with reluctance toward his bedroom. Annoying though it might be, he could not ignore the summons of the chimes. His training on that score had been thorough, and he was dedicated to his duty.
In the bedroom, he went directly to the long low dresser. On its surface was a figurine of a naked youth, seated. Its appearance suggested nothing more than a piece of decorative art, but in reality it was more than that. Jackie lifted it from the surface of the dresser, knowing that a concealed switch would start it operating at once. He turned the bottom side up and lifted it to his face. On this surface, too, it appeared perfectly innocent, but concealed cleverly within the posterior anatomy of the figurine was a miniature speaker, into which he now spoke in low, terse terms.
“Holmes here,” he addressed the porcelain buttocks. They were, he decided, a poor substitute for the lovely pair he had so recently been fondling.
“Jackie?” He recognized the familiar bass voice at once.
“Yes, Rich. What’s up?”
“Maybe I should ask you that,” the voice chuckled from the area of the porcelain crotch. “Your voice has that come hither sound.”
“Hither, thither–how can I get around to coming anywhere when these damned chimes are always going off before I do.”
“Sorry about that,” Rich said, then grew sober. “But this is really hot. Upton’s called, he wants to see you pronto. Use Contact Hustler.”
Jackie’s annoyance paled–Contact Hustler meant something really big. “I’m on my way,” he answered. Without waiting for further comment, he replaced the figure on the dresser, and started at once back to the living room.
Lorenzo was still bare on the bearskin rug, looking confused by the entire situation. “Sorry,” Jackie said as he entered the room. “But that was business, big business. I’ll have to go out.”
“What about this big business,” Lorenzo asked, indicating. For all the distraction, his business was still up and throbbing painfully.
Jackie went past him to the table where he had left his gift wrapping paraphernalia. He selected a large ribbon with a bow and, coming back to his companion, slipped it neatly around the prominent portion of Lorenzo’s anatomy. “Put it under the tree,” he suggested. “I’ll be back to open it later, okay?”
In the bedroom, Jackie dressed rapidly. As he did so, the slender blond seemed to undergo a transformation. Naked, and away from his work, there was little about Jackie Holmes to indicate his homosexuality. He was small, and slender, but one quickly recognized the taut muscles rippling beneath the surface of his flesh. His daily routine included a program that would have exhausted even the finest athletes. Moreover, he utilized every conceivable exercise to train his various facilities, racing through complex mathematical equations in his mind, testing his senses of hearing and smell, and even reading daily in Braille to keep his touch keen. Few men could match the abilities of this slender, innocent-looking blond.
As he dressed, however, and prepared for “work”, he donned another personality along with his clothes. Jackie Holmes, good-looking, masculine, dynamic, became mysteriously a thin, limp-wristed homosexual. His blond hair was pulled down to flop over his forehead. He pinched his cheeks to a bright redness, to give an impression of make-up. He adopted mannerisms and gestures typical of a certain type of homosexual known as “queens”. In the end, he looked anything but masculine, or dynamic. Most important, he looked utterly and completely harmless. It was a deliberate facade, one that had proved time and again invaluable to his work, for in disguising his true personality, Jackie was disguising his line of work as well. The small, effeminate blond boy who stood a few minutes later before the mirror, was in fact a secret agent, of a most mysterious and unique sort. His true identity remained known to only a few, but his reputation spread throughout the world, giving hope to many unfortunate souls, and striking fear in the hearts of countless wrongdoers. To these people, he was not known as Jackie Holmes. To them, he was simply the Man from C.A.M.P.
A private elevator whisked Jackie from his apartment to the garage of the building. Here, too, a facade was kept, for the building appeared to be an ordinary apartment house, with a basement garage, and Jackie’s apartment as a penthouse. In fact, the entire building was his, the other apartments empty dummies, and the long stalls of cars in the basement were all a part of Jackie’s private collection.
He hesitated for a moment and then headed for one of the stalls. The vehicle he had chosen was nearly as unique as its drive. Its styling was audacious, exaggerated shapes and lines flowing into a sensual whole. The long hood was a wonderland of louvres and rivets and bright shiny things. It sported giant wire wheels and curling, chrome-plated external exhaust pipes.
Jackie opened the door and climbed into the Mercedes. The rim of the massive steering wheel was as thick as the bannister rail of a stairway. It rumbled to life with a deep alto sound from the exhausts. A minute later, he had backed it around and was out of the garage, turning in the direction of Hollywood.
Traffic was thick and slow moving. It was the Christmas season, and from the number of cars and pedestrians still on the streets it seemed as if the entire population of Los Angeles had chosen this particular evening to do their shopping. Jackie swerved skillfully in and out of the traffic, making his way rapidly into the heart of Hollywood proper. Here, the traffic was even worse. He turned into a side street, spotted a parking place, and swooped into it. From here, he walked a block and a half to Hollywood Boulevard.
With the increase in pedestrian traffic, the number of hustlers on the Boulevard had increased as well. And the abundance of handsome, animalistic young men had created an increase in the number of queens flitting up and down the sidewalks. It was a part of the Holiday season rarely considered by the average person, but one with which Jackie was quite familiar. He could see at once the wisdom of using this particular method of contact with the man he was meeting. No one would give a second thought to the sight of two men meeting on this street, on this night. It was happening all about him even as he walked. Eager eyes would dart about, light on an interesting prospect, and take a rapid inventory. A smile, a nod, two strangers pause. There is a brief conversation, and then they drift off to a side street, a car, a waiting apartment.
Down the street, the crowd of hustlers was like a swarm. This was “hustler’s corner”, in front of the Silver Chalice coffee shop. Jackie was aware of the many pairs of eyes on him as he sauntered into the throng. Some of them were interested, some just curious. Some glance down, to the carefully arranged bulge at the crotch of his trousers. Others studied his clothes and jewelry, silently estimating his financial worth. Jackie stopped at the corner, glancing around with only slight interest, and then leaned leisurely back against the wall of the building. From here, he could survey the entire scene with only a slight turn of his head . . . Hollywood Boulevard in both directions, the crowd outside the Silver Chalice, the open air magazine stand on the side street. He was a witness to the scene, and at the same time a part of it. No sooner had he stopped and leaned, than he became an item of merchandise for the consideration of the passing buyers.
Jackie returned some of the glances, but without encouraging them. In fact, he had no interest in finding a sex partner here, but he did have to keep up the pretense of being one of this band of flesh peddlers.
Every type was represented in the passing parade. Tall men, short men, some that didn’t seem to be men at all. There were those who looked like athletes, and teachers, and dancers, and even vice squad, the legal lavender that combined business and pleasure in cruising with the gays.
Jackie took a second glance at one of the approaching figures. This one, he thought to himself, couldn’t have looked more like an accountant in some dingy, dimly lighted office. He was probably in his thirties, but he looked older. He was balding, and showing a tendency toward fat, especially about the waist. Anything but a perfect specimen, Jackie decided with amusement, noting the cheap gray suit, badly in need of pressing.
The man had drawn nearer, was almost in front of him. Jackie discovered that, beyond the thick glasses he wore, the man’s gray eyes were watching him, speculatively. Jackie gave the sort of vague, nearly imperceptible response common in such situations–a ghost of a smile, the faintest of nods. This was part of the game. And then, not surprisingly, the gray suit veered, and the man had stopped directly in front of him, standing as close as discretion permitted. He held an unlighted cigarette in one hand, and he lifted that now to his mouth, although Jackie was fully aware that this too was only part of the game.
“Got a match?” the stranger addressed him.
Wordlessly, Jackie removed a packet of matches from his pocket and indifferently handed them to the speaker. The man lit his cigarette. The gray eyes continued to watch Jackie through the flicker of light.
“All alone?” Gray suit wanted to know. Jackie was aware of the fact that some of the others around them were watching, observing the action.
“I was,” Jackie replied.
“Looks like I’ve got company.” Jackie ran a tongue suggestively over his lips, and scratched slightly at his bulging crotch. Then, without further comment, he turned and started down the street. Gray suit joined him. The others on the corner watched for a minute or two. Some of them were disappointed–gray suit had looked like an easy customer. Others watched Jackie’s fanny, bouncing slightly in skin tight trousers. Some were just curious. But the interest of all was short lived. By the time Jackie and his companion had gone twenty feet, no one was watching them any longer.
“This way,” Jackie said at the next corner. They were on the side street where he had parked his car. They walked in silence for another block.
“This is it,” Jackie said, indicating the Mercedes.
“What’s this one,” his companion wanted to know, admiring the racy lines of the car.
“Mercedes, S model, 1928,” Jackie said. He started up the motor, and his companion was no sooner in the car than they had started off. Jackie turned south, to Sunset Boulevard, and then they were caught up in a thick river of cars heading west, one of countless moving vehicles on the street. They were literally surrounded by thousands of people, and they couldn’t have been more isolated.
“Okay, Lou,” Jackie said finally, paying only token attention to his driving. “Let’s have it. Rich said it was something big.”
Lou Upton shifted slightly in his seat, so that he was facing Jackie. He had shed the facade of mediocrity, and the eyes behind the lenses were now shrewd and hard. They belonged, as Jackie well knew, to one of Interpol’s finest agents, one with whom Jackie had worked on numerous assignments before.
“It is big,” he answered. “Although frankly I don’t know yet just how big.” He paused to light a cigarette. “Ever hear of the Levinstein diamond collection?”
“Who hasn’t. It’s the world’s largest, the last I heard. Say, isn’t that in town now. I thought I heard that it was on display . . .”
“At Ballocks Department Store on Wilshire,” Upton agreed. “Or at least, it was.”
“Was?” Jackie shot a glance at his companion. “You don’t mean . . .?”
Upton nodded his head grimly. “It’s been stolen–every last carat of it. Necklaces, brooches, stick-pins, tiaras–all gone.”
Jackie gasped with amazement. If Upton was right, this was undoubtedly the greatest robbery of all time.
“But how could that be? There’s been nothing in the papers about the theft.”
“Look at it this way, if you’d borrowed the world’s largest diamond collection from the Sheik of Ruwait, to put on display in your store, and it got stolen, would you be eager for a lot of publicity before you had a chance to get it back?”
“Well, you’re right there. But surely, someone must have noticed that it’s gone. I mean, it was on display in their head store. You can’t just explain away its disappearance.”
Upton sighed. “In a way, I suppose we can thank the thief for that. They provided the perfect cover up–exact duplicates of the entire collection, perfect copies.”
“You mean they switched collections?”
“Exactly. The worst thing is, we don’t even know when. The real stones were there three days ago. Today, when the special guards started their routine check, they discovered that they were guarding a bunch of worthless fakes. And someone has made off with two hundred million dollars worth of diamonds.”
Jackie was aghast. “I’ve never heard of anything like it,” was all he could manage to say for a moment. He thought about it for a minute. “But how could they have done it? That would make a heck of a large bundle to carry out the door, even in the Christmas shopping rush.”
“That’s the really crazy part,” Lou Upton continued. “I don’t think they’ve taken the jewels out of the store.”
The traffic had come to a standstill, solid lines of cars in every lane, none of them moving. Jackie lit a cigarette for himself and turned to Lou. “What makes you think that?”
“It’s the only logical answer,” Lou replied. “Look, we both know Ballocks has the finest security guard system in the world. And they intensify it during the Christmas season. Every purchase is packaged and then tagged, and there are at least two guards at every door to make sure no one gets out with a package that isn’t tagged.”
“But if it were an inside job, then they could package the diamonds and tag them . . .”
Lou shook his head. “With that large a collection, they’d have to have every sales clerk in the store in on it. Anyway, the tags are code numbered, and records kept of them. They have to correspond to sales slips, and we’ve checked that already. There’s been no missing tags, and no evidence of counterfeiting. So you see, the diamonds still have to be in the store. That’s why we’re working on it, of course, although we’d have been called in anyway. I don’t have to tell you this is vitally important from a diplomatic standpoint. The Sheik is one of the few pro-Western figures in Middle East politics. Something like this could blow the balance of power all to hell. But to make it more complicated, the local police have their hands tied. You see, until the diamonds are taken from the store, they haven’t legally been stolen.”
“You’re right.” Jackie frowned. “But if they’re inside the store, it should be a simple matter. Lock the store up for the day, and search it till you find them.”
“Do you think we haven’t already taken the place apart? But there isn’t a trace. It’s as though they had disappeared into thin air.”
“I see.” The traffic had started moving again. Jackie shifted gears, letting the Mercedes roll slowly forward. “Well, it’s an intriguing case, I must admit. But I don’t see offhand just where we come into it.”
“From two standpoints. First, as I said, the local police have their hands tied, and in a sense, so do we. But your organization can work more freely in such matters. Secondly, we found one clue, which I though would interest you very much.” He paused, obviously waiting for Jackie to coax the information out of him.
“Okay, you know I’m curious,” Jackie responded. “What did you find?”
Upton had removed an envelope from his pocket. “Whoever switched the jewels dropped something in one of the display cases. A feather.” He had opened the envelope, and now he removed a small white feather from it. Even in the dim glow Jackie could clearly see its peculiar qualities. Although white, it glimmered iridescently, in a mother of pearl fashion, and its very tip was a slash of shocking crimson. He had seen such plumage before, but that had been long in the past.
“A Pearly Freebird,” he gasped in amazement.
“Right–a cock,” Upton amended. “The hen if you remember, is brown and green. Only the male is pearly.”
Jackie remembered well, despite the passing of years. Once, while traveling through the Amazon jungles, he had been fortunate enough to have seen a Freecock, winging swiftly by. He could still hear its plaintive call . . . sounding like “vee deee . . . vee deee . . .” But that was in the past. So far as the world of science was concerned, the Freebird was extinct now. There was only one possible source, and that was shrouded in mystery, known to only a few persons such as himself.
“Birdie Wing,” he said aloud. Even the speaking of that name sent a shudder through him. “And the Swallow children.”
“You’re right,” Upton said grimly. “And it makes sense, doesn’t it. Who else would pull such a large scale job, and do it with such apparent success? Only the greediest and most brilliant of criminal minds could have even conceived the idea.”
Jackie nodded, but he did not answer at once. His mind was working busily. He knew now why Upton had called on him. Who else would he have turned to, dealing with such an adversary, but Birdie Wing’s arch enemy–C.A.M.P.?
For more information about Victor J. Banis (aka “Don Holliday”), see his profile on Wikipedia.