Title: Turtle Bay
Series: Tides of Change, Book Two
Author: John Patrick
Release Date: 06/28/2022
Heat Level: 1 – No Sex
Genre: Historical, LGBTQIA+, gender-bending, cross-dressing, businessman, humor, law enforcement, political, PTSD, Postwar America, sexual discovery
It’s 1947, and New York City is awaiting the construction of the new United Nations building, the FBI is actively pursuing Communists and Soviet spies as the Cold War begins to build, and homosexual men have even more reasons to hide who they are.
Uptight FBI Agent Arthur Mason is so deep in the closet he doesn’t even realize he’s in one. Clueless about his own sexuality, he’s surprised at his reaction to both Hans Schmidt and his twin sister, Ada. Under pressure from work, Mason investigates Hans and his boarders, including the highly suspicious Hank Mannix, a known member of the Communist Party. Though Mason can’t seem to locate Ada, he can’t stop thinking about Hans and keeps going back to visit.
Hans Schmidt is a cross-dressing German immigrant running a boarding house for “a certain type of man,” and he wants nothing to do with Agent Mason and his ill-fitting suits and bad haircut. Until he begins to see Mason more as a man and less as a government official.
Hans enjoys dressing as a woman from time to time, and once his feelings for Arthur begin to change, he realizes he needs to share his Ada persona if they are to have a future together.
Secrets on both sides must be revealed and cherished beliefs challenged if these two men are to find the love and happiness they deserve.
This story can be read on its own; however, characters from book one, Dublin Bay, play a prominent role as secondary characters, so it’s recommended to read that first.
John Patrick © 2022
All Rights Reserved
Even after five years in America, Hans still startled every time the telephone rang—an abrupt, clanging sound insisting on attention. Why couldn’t a country capable of producing an atomic bomb be able to create a more discreet way of letting a person know about an incoming call? He vaguely remembered the phones in Ireland giving a soft chime first, before beginning to ring in earnest, but his time there had been short and chaotic, always one step ahead of capture, so he couldn’t be sure.
He didn’t remember the sound of telephones in Germany at all, even though he knew one hung on the wall in the university’s administration office. He pictured it there next to the corkboard but couldn’t reconstruct its sound.
He hoped the new dial telephone would have a more melodious tone. Assuming the phone company ever got around to swapping out his candlestick model for something more modern as they had been promising for months.
The telephone sat atop the counter in the small reception hallway. Hans swiveled his stool and picked up the entire device, bringing the mouthpiece forward and lifting the receiver close to his ear. He was surprised a call had even come through; most of the operators had gone out on strike.
“Schmidt’s Boarding House, Hans Schmidt speaking.”
“Hans, old boy! It’s Wally, up in Albany.”
“Oh, Wally, so good to hear from you. Is this business or pleasure?”
“Business, I’m afraid. I have a live one for you. And don’t forget I’m still on a party line here.”
That was code for anyone could be listening. Hans appreciated the reminder. The boarding house had its own private line, and he sometimes forgot most people outside the city still used party lines. As if to prove the point, Hans heard muffled soft breathing in the background.
He sighed and glanced at the wall clock, mentally rearranging his calendar for the afternoon. “Hold on.” He placed the transmitter back on the desk, switched the receiver to his left hand, and pulled a pad and pencil out of the drawer. He leaned closer to the mouthpiece so he could still be heard. “A day or two’s notice would make a nice change. But go on.”
“Sorry, there was no advance notice this time. He came right up to the counter and said, ‘One-way ticket to New York City, please, next available bus.’ You’ve got two more hours. I’m certain of this one, Hans. We served together.”
“Oh, were you…?”
“No. Nothing like that,” Wally responded. “But I knew, of course.”
“I understand. Greyhound?” Hans asked.
“Yes, arrives at three thirty.”
That was good news at least. The Greyhound terminal was next to Penn Station, which was only a half-hour walk if he hurried.
“Would you recommend Ada or Hans?”
“Oh, Ada for sure, dear boy. This one seems quite skittish. A direct approach won’t do. He needs to see what’s possible,” Wally replied. “He’s a good kid, Hans. Don’t let him get swallowed up by the Y.”
“Understood, and thanks for the tip. What will he be wearing?”
Wally laughed, and the connection broke up a bit. “Oh, not to worry. You can’t miss him.” Hans heard a click as someone hung up, or perhaps someone else picked up to check if the line was available.
“Will you be coming down yourself anytime soon?” Hans asked. “You absolutely must see David Brooks in Brigadoon. He’s in a kilt most of the time. We could make a weekend of it.”
“That sounds grand! Maybe next month.”
They exchanged a few additional pleasantries and ended the call.
Hans needed at least an hour to get Ada ready, and he was thankful he hadn’t yet put on cologne. He’d planned a shopping trip this afternoon to resupply a few staples—coffee, tea, and biscuits for the ladies’ reception parlor—but that could be rescheduled. But he couldn’t put it off for too long; the ladies did not like to run out of biscuits during their social hour.
As he descended the stairs to Ada’s room on the garden level—a New York euphemism for below ground—he was reminded how much easier things were for men. He wore a simple gray suit with a narrow navy tie, appropriate for all seasons and conservatively bland. Why, a fellow could disappear into any crowd wearing such an outfit.
Ada, though—she had a much tougher go of it. It was spring, technically, but still quite chilly. She’d need something…delightful. Yes, Hans thought, that was the right word. Not too frivolous, but sufficiently feminine to show the world there was still joy in beauty. But she’d also need to wear an outercoat and sensible enough shoes for a bit of a walk. She wouldn’t want to invite scrutiny, but she’d want people to see her and appreciate the effort she’d made.
Hans stepped into Ada’s room and opened the closet. He considered his options. He’d have to use last spring’s coat; he hadn’t had the time or funds to completely reoutfit this season. But it would do the job. It was robin’s-egg blue with a fitted waist rather than a belt. Five oversized white buttons ran down its length. Sadly, American fashion houses continued to insist on outrageously padded shoulders even now, nearly two years after the war’s end.
A thrill ran through Hans as he stood in front of Ada’s closet. It always did, right before the transformation.
He eyed the spring dress he’d bought two weeks ago and knew it would be perfect. He took it out of the closet and laid it flat on the bed. It was a creamy off-white cotton, with a hint of pink. It dropped to midcalf and had a layer of tulle underneath the skirt—an extravagant use of material that would have been unthinkable only a year ago, when rationing and scarcity were just starting to give way. Large red cherries created a pattern, and a back zipper allowed for a smooth, uninterrupted front.
Hans removed his suit and his baggy, shapeless boxers, making a mental note to remember to take the clothes back to his own room, behind the kitchen. He spent the next half hour on underclothing and shapewear, then makeup, and finally a softly curling blonde wig that matched his natural hair color.
Hans was more comfortable dressed as a woman than he was dressed as a man. He always had been; it’s what got him in trouble back in Germany.
Dressed as a woman, Hans absolutely sparkled. His slight frame and delicate features fit Ada better than they fit Hans, and more than once he wondered what it would have been like to have been born as Ada. He’d met men who claimed to actually be women, deep inside, but he didn’t fully grasp that. At the heart of it, Hans liked being a man and being attracted to other men. He just liked dressing and acting like a woman sometimes.
It was enough for him.
The dress itself—the item everyone saw—was the easiest part but for the back zipper, which he managed eventually.
He slipped on square-heeled navy shoes, tied a gauzy pink scarf around his hair as protection against the breeze, and then headed out the door.
Meet the Author
Author John Patrick is a Lambda Literary Award finalist living in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts, where he is supported in his writing by his husband and their terrier, who is convinced he could do battle with the bears that come through the woods on occasion (the terrier, that is, not the husband). An introvert, John can often be found doing introverted things like reading or writing, cooking, and thinking deep, contemplative thoughts (his husband might call this napping). He loves to spend time in nature—“forest bathing” is the Japanese term for it—feeling connected with the universe. But he also loathes heat and humidity, bugs of any sort, and unsteady footing in the form of rocks, mud, tree roots, snow, or ice. So his love of nature is tempered—he’s complicated that way.
John and his husband enjoy traveling and have visited over a dozen countries, meeting new people, exploring new cultures, and—most importantly—discovering new foods.