Mystery surrounds young hunk Tab when he steps off the bus in the small, historical harbor town of Shernhaven, Massachusetts. How is he so quickly able to perceive the dark underbelly of the town—and what is it that he’s putting his “handyman” skills to changing, or “fixing,” or, at least, to shaking up? How can he know that the seeds of what the town is underneath its picturesque veneer go back to its founding three hundred and seventy years before? And to the men who founded it.
When Tab steps off the bus onto the town’s Braintree Road and immediately catches the speculative attention of Shernhaven’s leading banker, Trevor Cole, is it chance or is it part of something deeper?
The Handyman toys with the concept that the sexual proclivities of men can be passed down through the generations as it follows the history of American immigration into a small New England seaport town through the arrival and establishment and interrelationships of six founding families. Shernhaven is a man’s town in every sense of the word and becomes so from the unique input of the men who have arrived in Shernhaven to establish their presence from the very beginnings of the United States.
Arriving in 1640 with a land grant from the English king, Charles I, three families, those of the Sherns, Coles, and Geers manage to establish a place in history for themselves in Shernhaven. The aristocratic Sherns have ruled, by right, from the town’s founding, and their men share an interest in cruelty in the taking, down through the generations. The original founders of the Cole and Geer families arrived in more servile fashion, and not just in their social status, but they also manage to establish themselves in enduring prominence and power in Shernhaven.
Spice is added to the mix when the slave trade becomes a mainstay of the Shernhaven economy in the mid eighteenth century, and Kweku, the original black stud arrives in Shernhaven from the African Gold Coast by way of Jamaica. His descendants become the always-ready and enormously satisfying men of the Semple family.
Exhaustion from a half century of wars bring the Germans, in the form of the Fischer family, the men of which have an obsession for punishment, to Shernhaven in the early nineteenth-century and some thirty years later the potato famine in Ireland introduces the Irish to the town, represented by the Dungans, with their puritanical streak.
Nearly four hundred years of the churning and melding of all of the sexual obsessions of men for other men in the town of Shernhaven inevitably results in complications and tragedies that come to a head in the late 1990s.
Ten years later the handyman, Tab, strides into this mix and slowly, but surely, the whole sexual power structure of Shernhaven begins to shift.
The last mystery is how and why—and to what end is the handyman working?
The Trailways bus came in south from Boston on the Boston Road, turned right onto Cushing Street to come into Shernhaven on the east side of Shern Park, the center green of the old Massachusetts harbor town. Half way down the green it turned right again, headed east on Braintree Road and made an almost immediate turn left into the Shernhaven bus depot.
Only six passengers disembarked before the bus took on four more and headed east toward its next destination in Braintree.
The last one off the bus in Shernhaven was a young man of twenty-five or so in dusty jeans, a tight white T-shirt, and brown, ankle-high construction boots. He walked just a couple of paces down the curb toward the park from the door to the bus and bent over and placed a duffel bag and his jeans jacket on the ground. While he was straightening back up in a languid motion, he pulled a pack of cigarettes and matches from under the fold of the sleeve on one of his biceps. Cupping his hand over the flaring match and leaning his head down, he lit a cigarette between his lips.
He shook out the match and rather than tossing it on the ground, ran it into the hem of his jeans at one ankle. Taking several deep drags on the cigarette, he stood there and looked up and down Braintree Road, seemingly a stranger in town getting his bearings.
Standing in the window of the Union Bank of Norfolk directly across Braintree Road from the bus station, the bank’s president, Trevor Cole, was taking the scenery in. He liked to have his desk near one of the front windows. He was a window shopper of sorts. And this young man who had gotten off the bus was just the sort of shopping Trevor Cole liked to do.
He found the *oung man quite attractive. Slender, but with a good build. He had an assuredness about him and a fluid movement that Cole liked. In fact, he was sexy as hell. Trevor identified him immediately as a working man. The jeans, boots, and T-shirt helped him peg the young man, but so did his deep tan, his close-cropped dirty blond hair, and that red bandana around his neck. It was just the sort of bandana the Stilton *id had been wearing last summer on the road crew fixing the pot holes on the road up to the Upper Head. . . .
The Stilton *oy wasn’t home for long, so he had to take the work he could get. Cole, whether Andy knew it or not, had arranged for him to get this job. Trevor Cole prided himself in thinking ahead. The pay was OK, but it was dusty work. That was what the red bandana was for. Andy had it around his neck and would pull it up and over his mouth and nose whenever a vehicle went by and kicked up dust. The road was asphalted, but, even though it led up onto a bluff, the sand got up there on dry days like it had been last summer and kicked up a choking cloud.
Even with the bandana—especially with the bandana—Andy looked good to Cole. He liked the construction work look. It gave him a thrill to slum. And Andy was in great shape—a college football player, just like Trevor Cole himself had been at Harvard only four years previously—and had been wearing just construction boots and low-hanging shorts in addition to that bandana.
Trevor Cole didn’t just know when Andy Stilton would be home from college for the summers; he also knew quite a bit about what Andy did at college.
A twenty-dollar tip to the head of the road crew and another twenty to Andy, and Andy had ridden to the top of Upper Head in Trevor’s BMW convertible with him, gotten in the back seat with Cole, and let the banker . . . The college guy had been surprised that Cole had been the one who wanted to be bottomed. He was easier to convince and handle when he’d found that out. He’d said that Cole had looked too macho to want to be the one giving it up, but Cole just laughed and said he had always been good about putting up a good façade.
Yes, Trevor Cole had fond memories of a hunk with a red bandana around his neck.