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The Robin's Egg
4 secret ingredients assigned to incorporate into a story: Jockstrap, bootcamp, wire tap, gingersnap
The old Victorian style house at the intersection of Washington and Gilmore was known much more for the robin's egg blue restoration paint job and rare architectural features than the people that lived inside. However, should neighbors have ever really spent time gawking less at the revolving door of college sorority girls that lived in the ostentatious building next door, they would have been far more fascinated by the interesting mix of people that resided within the four apartment units that divided the once unified house. Of course it didn't help that everyone who lived there usually used the back entrance and exit where the car garage was. The only people regularly seen in the front yard were Eduardo, the gardener, and his son Fernando, who eventually grew up from gangly young kid to a strapping young buck who enjoyed the attention that his glistening bare buff chest could bring on a hot summer day. Up until the raid on the Robin's Egg Vic, the greatest scandal of the block was Fernando's runaway affair with Dora, the Sorority Queen and Jewish American Princess from Florida Orange grove royalty.
From a purely physical perspective, the most unusual tenant was Brice, although he had been living there the shortest amount of time, at just 13 months. He was a very beefy slab of meat. Pure muscle with more muscle added on for good measure. The former marine definitely used his striking appearance and military training to benefit his new entrepreneurial endeavors. As owner of Total Body Bootcamp, he led groups of weight challenged adults through a rigorous course of exercises and diet discipline that promised and delivered a transformation to the body of all participants within three months. In an unusual display of finesse for such a massively disproportionate guy, he somehow knew just how hard to push people to the limits without breaking them. A sore body was to be expected from all participants, but he also hired the best team of local masseurs as part of his program, which led to rave reviews, numerous clients and return business. He wasn't a genius, but fitness was his definite forte.
However, if Brice had a therapist, they would argue that his muscle building was an obsession stemming from some kind of over compensation and that he was a failure at personal relationships. Why that was for sure, nobody knew. He was a master at first dates, with women throwing themselves at his feet whenever he hit the scene. But somewhere along the line, after hitting the sack with the hunky hulk, the women just wouldn't come back for more. Maybe it was the combination effect of the weird way Brice broke down sobbing uncontrollably while making rhythmically challenged sex and unusually strong his grip could be, which caused bruising. The ladies would always be good friends with him afterwards, but Brice was one of those had to try once, but not necessarily twice kind of exotic flavors. He didn't seem to mind. He was becoming rich and within months of buying his first multiplex condo unit.
Delilah was the den mother and owner of the Robin's Egg. For as large as Brice was with his heaping mounds of muscle of bright white flesh, Delilah was the equivalent of dark black rolling plumpness from the accumulated years of fine cooking and baking. Bruce offered to put her through his bootcamp, but she graciously refused as she caressed herself and proclaimed to be "a body majestic, with a perfection that only God and a chocolate covered angel food cake could create. Sugar is my vice, but I use it to make everything nice." Indeed she did, and the numerous charity organizations and food drives relied on her for a vast majority of their fundraising and caregiving operations. If there was a bake sale happening anywhere within the greater metropolitan area, her handy work was sure to shine. Baking was in her family blood, from as far back as her great-grandmother's slave days in the kitchen, to her grandmother's confectionary stand at the local markets, to her mother's award-winning state fair pies.
Her goodwill was a direct result of transforming the worst tragedies of her life into a sweet gift for others. While many years ago she was content to be a pampered house wife to one of the state's first African-American owners of a large law firm, fate had other plans in store for her. When her children died in a horrible drunk-driving accident, she went into a four-year mourning period of shock and became a recluse. When her husband died at the gunpoint of a disgruntled client in the fifth year, she snapped out of it and went into her first baking frenzy. That first month she produced more food than anyone around her knew what to do with, and that's when the donations to local homeless shelters began.
In the next year she sold her mansion in the outskirts of the city and set her eyes upon the Victorian house in the center of town. It sat vacant for many years, for nobody wanted to pour in the amount of money it would take to properly renovate the historical property. But with loads of money at her disposal from the life insurance policy and no real care whether or not it proved to be a bad investment, Delilah found herself the proud owner of a historical treasure with the city's most incredible private kitchen imaginable, which practically took up half of her dwelling. She divided the rest of the house up for rent, using a most unusual method for selecting her tenants. She would offer them a desert buffet and ask them about their selection. Whomever had the most interesting response, she chose, favoring of course those who loved her angel-food bonbons and gingersnaps the most. Unfortunately, this wasn't always the best method for picking folks out.
Trey, however, was a true find and a bit of Delilah's protege having lived next door to her for the 7 years since she began. He was a substitute son. When he arrived for his interview he was all teeth and charm, and precisely the age her eldest daughter would have been had she still been alive. He didn't have to pass any other test than that. He was a bit of a throwback to another era, which was one of the reasons he really wanted to live in the Robin's Egg. Trey was always found wearing brown leather suspenders up his slender bod or a newsboy hat over his short nappy hair. He entered the house a sophomore in college, an English major. He went on for a graduate degree in African-American History and Sexuality. His thesis paper, "Highlights of the DownLow Culture" was a shrewd investigation of black politics, peer pressure, and homosexuality throughout the 20th Century. Yet somehow such a mix of subject matter didn't bode well for job offers, and nobody quite knows why someone of his potential didn't just move. Perhaps he was as fond for Delilah as she was him. He found a cozy, albeit low-paying job at the local gay and lesbian center. Trey quickly became one of the city's loudest voices for social reform and queer rights. As member of several local committees and gay advocacy groups, Trey's calendar was a busy one.
Unofficially, he was also the city's busiest bachelor with little time or desire to develop any long-lasting relationships. Delilah said he was too good-looking and intelligent to be alone, she just didn't know how rarely he really was alone. His lean black build and dashing good looks combined with his high profile status drew him a lot of attention from a constant supply of young college men all very willing to discover, even if just for a night or two, what he looked like out of the suspenders. Trey was happy to oblige, albeit rather discreetly, much to Trey's awareness of how similar his secretive activities were to the historical gays he profiled in his work.
If a guy was one of the lucky few to achieve a second date, he'd be invited to cross the threshold into Trey's sanctum. They arrived in the dark of night and were quietly slipped in so as not to disturb Delilah. In a kind of ritual, Trey would instruct them to arrive, unshowered, after a workout wearing a jockstrap. Trey enjoyed elaborate fantasies which involved the ripe smell of a sweaty man. He also delighted in hearing his men moan with ecstasy from his lovemaking, even though he gagged them so as not to produce too much noise. While the men were still in a glorious daze from their orgasm, Trey would move them into the antique claw foot tub and proceed to bathe them tenderly, as a sort of purification before sending them on their way.
For most men it would prove to be the most memorable night of their life, providing a story to lavish upon their closest friends, who often sought out the experience for themselves. After this ritual, with a few notable exceptions for the most exquisite of male specimens, Trey would never see them again. Although he treasured each occasion, keeping the sweaty jockstrap as a memento and writing the name of the man in black marker on the tag along with the date. An old wooden travel trunk in his living room would be its home alongside all the others. Trey could take it out and smell what musk may have still lingered from each particular experience. In the four years of his ritual, he practically filled the trunk, but he wouldn't have to worry for long about where to put any future ones.
Grace seemed like the perfect fit when she replaced Alice in the upper west unit of Robin's Egg two years ago. Alice was always late with rent and prone to passing out drunk on the back stoop just after managing to open her front door. This bothered Delilah to no end, and try as she might to fix Alice on her own, the only choice after years of failure was to get her family involved and checking her into rehab. So Delilah was extra careful in her process of selecting her next tenant. Grace passed not only the dessert process, but a thorough background check. Her spotless record and academic record of overachieving only made it that more shocking when the raid came.
Apparently when all the dust, or ashes as it were, settled, it was discovered she was the daughter of a drug lord. The newspapers would print a new article each time a new piece of information was recovered to piece the story together. That process performed the job well, and papers flew off the stands in such numbers that by the year's end they opted to print a special summary edition entitled: "The Fall of Grace." Until that time everybody was in the dark over just what happened, particularly Delilah who even though used to shock was thrown off guard once again by life's unusual twists. Some still believe the whole event was a botched job and mistaken identity and the whole Grace story as a fabrication to cover the Feds mistake. Others took a conspiracy angle, swearing it was to get back at Trey for a huge gay right's legislation that passed. Whatever the case, when Delilah discovered in the paper that the entire house had been wiretapped in an effort to gain information on Grace's family, she took no time to contact her husband's old law firm to handle the case of privacy invasion. Once again the event's of the raid and the fire that consumed all of Robin's Egg were thrust into the headlines.
So Grace had, on the surface, a very idyllic childhood, living in the perfect two story house in the best neighborhood and the best education possible. Although she became aware of her father's dealing in high school, it barely affected her. In fact, emotions rarely factored anything into her life, which many theorize was drilled into her from a very young age and that even though removed from the daily drug dealings, was still being trained as successor. It may have also been why, when her father was lying ill in the hospital, that she was entrusted to take over some of the business for him. It was for her most unfortunate timing, though, that as she came to run many of the operations, the government was already close to cracking down on her family's trade. Being the smooth and shrewdly smart woman that she was, she hired the best lawyers, also from Delilah's deceased husband's firm, to handle her court hearing. She managed to paint a portrait of good girl twisted by family legacy and utilize the tragedy of what happened during the raid of the Robin's Egg to emphasize how badly the federal agents handled the job, all of which lead to a rather soft sentence.
Although lacking much heart, Grace was not without conscience. While hardened by the family business, she recognized the right thing to do for Delilah, and while in prison exerted some influence to ensure some money went towards Delilah's latest effort of opening a brand new homeless shelter. It was her way of apologizing for her role in the destruction of the historic Robin's Egg. Brice moved quickly on to his condo purchase and eventually became owner of several upscale condo units as his fitness business flourished. Trey saw the burning of the house as a phoenix pyre to cleanse the many deeds of his past. He stayed in town a bit longer to help Delilah move on, finished seeing his controversial gay right's legislation pass, and then moved on to a new city and a new life with a new man, a steady man with whom he performed many new rituals with. And after all legal settlements, Delilah converted an abandoned warehouse into a homeless shelter. She hired a bunch of student artists to weave a beautiful and unusual mural made of branches and found objects along the entire front of the building. She even had them build three giant sculptural eggs made out of garbage and painted bright blue with speckles, just like the victorian house. The striking, but beautiful decoration of her shelter went along with it's nickname: The Robin's Nest, to which she was the mother bird for all the many who passed under her care.