Secret Shopper

By Thermidor

Ray always treated these trips like little undercover assignments, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. He parked the GTO in the far corner of the lot, hidden in the shadows beside the dumpster. He hunched down in his jacket and darted across the parking lot to the front door. He hated this part.

As a cop, he understood why 24-hour cash businesses were so well lit; as a guy, he hated feeling like he was under a spotlight that announced to any passersby that he, Ray Vecchio, formerly Stanley Raymond Kowalski, was a porn store customer.

He strolled into the store, practicing his “I’m not a sad and lonely pervert” walk. Which he didn’t think he was, really. He was just a guy who needed a release, no different from guys who got theirs by picking up tipsy secretaries at Houlihan’s happy hour. Just because his release was more along the lines of Loaded Lumberjacks Volume 12 didn’t make him a pervert.

He tried to believe that. Still, he was always quick about getting in, getting his movie, and getting out fast.

Renfield Turnbull tried to be as inconspicuous as possible; it was difficult, as he towered over the display shelves. It also made browsing problematic, as the shelves only came up to his chest. He didn’t want to appear to be scrutinizing the lurid boxes too carefully, but he had learned through experience not to grab the closest item at hand. Booty Bandits hadn’t been quite to his taste, despite the impressive proportions of some of the actors.

Turnbull stooped, trying not to look as though he might need assistance from one of the cheerful, multiply-pierced salespersons.

Ray rounded the corner, walking quickly past the transsexual section and into the alcove where the gay videos were. He scanned the room. Not too crowded, not totally empty; good. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of navy pea coat. For one horrible moment, he thought it was Fraser; then the size of the coat registered, and he realized it was Turnbull. Just Turnbull.


Gee, the things you never knew about people. He thought for sure the big guy was straight; Turnbull had gone nuts over that country singer chick. Then he reflected that maybe that was the Canadian version of the Judy Garland thing.

He watched for a moment as Turnbull leaned over to peer at the movies on the shelf. He didn’t look like he was trying to hide, just trying to pick a film; he looked like he came here all the time; hell, Ray, thought, maybe he did. He imagined Turnbull sprawled out on a couch, pants open, jerking off to some video.

Whoa. That was kind of a nice image.

Still, he wasn’t keen on having a gay porn bonding experience with anybody, especially not someone who worked with his partner, who Ray knew just wouldn’t approve. He could practically hear Fraser now, lecturing him on exploitation and sexual politics, probably illustrating his points with wise little anecdotes about a seal who took advantage of a caribou. He shuddered. That’d be enough to put a guy off porn for life. He hustled quickly over to the relative safety-- not to mention the huge cardboard display case-- of the Girls Gone Wild section.

Turnbull had just found an item that looked promising. True, the title Working Class Studs seemed a bit trite, but the slim man on the box cover, adorned in torn overalls, a smudge of auto grease, and a smile, seemed quite appealing. As he stood up, selection in hand, he noted someone darting out of the room. He wondered if it might be a shoplifter and thought perhaps he should give chase, despite the many signs which proclaimed “CCTV Cameras in Use! Shoplifters Will Be Prosecuted!”

He saw the man disappear behind a lurid display of silicon- enhanced young women cavorting on a beach. Turnbull slid into the next aisle and peered over the shelves. Although the man was facing away from him, Turnbull recognized the spiky hair and leather jacket.

Detective Vecchio?!

Turnbull was so surprised that he dropped the box he was holding, and it tumbled loudly to the floor, knocking over several copies of Nasty Nurses as it fell. Detective Vecchio turned, looking for the cause of the commotion, and they looked at one another in horror.

“Good evening, Detective,” said Turnbull, taking refuge in politeness.

“uh…” the detective responded.

Oh dear, thought Turnbull, he seems quite embarrassed. Turnbull knew that the cornerstone of etiquette was making others feel comfortable; he tried to set the detective at ease.

“I was just finding something to watch this evening, “ Turnbull said, “it seems we are both interested in film.”

“uh, yeah,” said Vecchio, still flushed bright red and wide-eyed in shock.

“I could be mistaken, but I thought I had perhaps seen you in the other room,” Turnbull gestured to the gay room, “which would seem to indicate that we have something else in common as well.” He winked at Vecchio.

To his surprise, the detective’s face broke out into an enchanting smile. “Yeah, I guess we do,” he said.

Turnbull liked seeing the detective smiling; he was usually scowling when he visited at the consulate, likely due to the presence of Inspector Thatcher. Turnbull decided he’d like to see more of that smile; perhaps a suggestion was in order. To put the detective at ease, of course.

“I notice you haven’t made a selection,” Turnbull said. “Perhaps we could watch mine together. I do have a large screen television at home as well as a comfortable sofa, and I could prepare some snacks as well as-"

“Turnbull, you’re babbling,” Vecchio said, “Let’s grab that movie and go.”
He looked at Turnbull’s selection and grinned. “I fix cars, you know,” he said, and winked.

This time it was Turnbull who blushed as they walked to the register together.


The end

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