Errol Flynn was my earliest movie-star crush. I used to stay up late at night so I could watch The Sea Hawk, The Adventures of Robin Hood, and that most perfect of swashbuckling films, Captain Blood. Physically, Flynn was strikingly beautiful, but so are many other actors. What made him irresistible was his confident onscreen persona, and that wicked sense of humor. “It isn’t what they say about you, it’s what they whisper.”


A young Errol Flynn. Check out the suit.

“In like Flynn” is an expression one still hears from time to time. It refers to Flynn’s astonishing sex life. He seems to have slept with thousands of women, many of them underage. “I like my whiskey old and my women young.” According to Wikipedia, he wanted to call his memoir In Like Me, but his publisher convinced him to change it to My Wicked, Wicked Ways. It’s a good read.

A 1938 George Hurrell portrait of Flynn.

A 1938 George Hurrell portrait of Flynn.

29. Amber Finds Her Thrill

Compliance is a key concept. Tell a girl to give you her hand so you can inspect and admire her bracelet. Have her come closer so you can smell her perfume or look at some detail on her earring. If you’re talking with a group of girls, ignore the one you’re interested in at first, then suddenly zero in on her and say, “Natalie, let’s go over there where it’s more quiet. There’s something I really want to ask you.” Notice: you didn’t frame it as a question. Take her hand and lead her. Once you’ve moved her, and she has complied, she’s much more likely to cooperate with other suggestions you make. Next, comment on how much nicer it is being away from her friends, just being with her. Usually she will become curious and say, “What did you want to ask me about?” Now she’s working; she’s beginning to chase you. –Inclusus Amator

To: Inclusus Amator
From: Cloelia
Subject: And They Say Women Are Manipulative

Amator, I read with interest your column on “compliance,” and recognized some of the moves that guys who think they’re smooth have tried on me. When I walk into a party or a bar, I do a quick reconn and pick out an heir and a spare. (I know what I like.) I catch the eye of the heir and give him a big smile, or walk right up and start a conversation. If he doesn’t bite, I go for the spare. If I don’t already know my man, I suggest we go to a quiet corner and I spend some time flirting, but also finding out whether there’s a creep factor. It’s as simple as that. No amount of subtle bullying is going convince me to sleep with a man I don’t like, and if I like him, there’s no need for it. –Yours, Cloelia

To: Cloelia
From: Inclusus Amator
Subject: Defensive Maneuvers

Mea Cloelia, you are a woman of admirable and exceptional spirit. I applaud your brave heart. And if all the guys out there were like me, decent types who merely want to give and receive pleasure in the company of a charming girl, I would urge you to continue with your current practices. But you would be shocked, my Cloelia, at some of the letters I receive. Therefore, do not assume your female intuition can separate the winners from the creeps. Get the name and number of this “heir,” and perform a Google search before you sleep with him. Check his ID. Pull a credit report. Screening for STD’s, TB and hepatitis is prudent. Ask for a few letters of reference and an official academic transcript. Unless, of course, you happen to run into me one fine evening. In which case, we can proceed straight to the coronation. –Semper tuus Amator

It was the last week of classes. Amber was putting the finishing touches on her service learning project report. Dr. Feydel, her Poli Sci professor, had advised her to specify to Larry that her internship would not extend past the Spring semester. Amber thanked him for the suggestion, but said that she was committed to the project until the contract was settled, or as long as the team would have her. She would gladly volunteer her services during the summer. True, the internship was a time sink, but it interested her more than anything she could remember, other than Latin. I’ve found my thrill, she thought. I know what I want to do.

Amber had dutifully reported back to the team about her lunch with Conor. “I tried, but I’m not sure he bought it,” she said. “That’s okay,” Larry told her. “It was worth a shot.”

Conor spent three days shuttling back and forth between the sides, trying to forge a compromise. Finally, when everyone was exhausted, on the afternoon of the third day, he showed up with a box of Krispy Kremes. Amber took a plain glazed one and promised herself that if she ended up as a labor lawyer, she would buy a lifetime gym membership.

“Here’s the deal,” said Conor. “I got them to come down on the health insurance cost increase, from twenty to thirteen percent.” The team members looked at each other, elated, but trying not to show it. Larry spoke first. “What do they want in return?”

Amber wasn’t surprised when Conor replied, “You have to drop the sexual harassment proposal. It’s a nonstarter, Larry. Their position is that if an employee doesn’t file a formal complaint through the Office of Equal Opportunity, there’s nothing they can do.”

“That’s bullshit and you know it,” said Larry. “They can do anything they want.”

“That’s how it appears to you,” said Conor agreeably. “But if they fire someone for harassment, with no paper trail in the office set up for that purpose, they give that person grounds to sue them for wrongful termination. What if they started accusing your members of harassment? Wouldn’t you demand to see the documentation?”

“Of course,” snapped Larry, frustrated. “But when was the last time they actually disciplined a supervisor for anything, let alone harassment? And the last two folks who filed complaints earned themselves a world of pain. The supervisors made their lives miserable until they left.” He glanced at Dennis, who nodded in emphatic agreement. Amber knew that Dennis was on the point of quitting. But she also knew that the university would have no trouble replacing him. Compared to positions in the private sector, comparable state jobs, with their extensive benefits, were highly prized.

“I’m sorry, Larry,” said Conor. “I can’t fix this one. But I do have another piece of good news. The university will agree to reimburse your members for one pair of steel-toed boots every three years, up to $100 per pair. It’s contingent on a memorandum of understanding that this doesn’t set a precedent for any other type of equipment.” He looked at Amber as he spoke, and though he didn’t smile, she could tell he wanted to. He reminds me of someone. Who is it?

Larry looked gratified. “That’s a first.”

“Two out of three ain’t bad,” said Virgil. “I think we got ourselves a deal.” They turned to Dennis, who smiled bravely. “Maybe I can get a job in a pawn shop.”

“Thanks Conor. We’ll discuss it further and let you know by seven this evening,” said Larry.

“Thanks to you all for hiring me. I’m having dinner with my son tonight, but I’ll keep my phone turned on.” He began shaking hands with each team member.

“Your son?” said Amber when he extended his hand to her. “You mean he’s a student here at Parnell?”

Conor smiled. “Yes, his name’s Nicholas. I don’t suppose you know him?”

“He’s in my Latin class,” she said, her mind whirling. It seemed so obvious now.

“Ah. His favorite subject in high school.” Conor chuckled. “In that case, Amber, you’ll need to keep in mind that everything we’ve said during these sessions has been top secret.” His green eyes, the same color as Nick’s, sought hers, and he gave her hand a meaningful squeeze.


The next day, Nick surprised her after class by suggesting that they eat lunch together at Jo-Jo’s, which was the pizza joint in the student center basement. It was quieter and more private than the food court. She’d been waiting for Nick to give her some sign that he was ready to hook up again, but although he was more friendly to her than before Dr. Dog, and liked to catch her eye during class, there had been no repeat invitation.

A part of her felt relieved, because she might have been forced to turn him down. The long hours devoted to her internship had made it necessary to study almost every night, weekends included. On the other hand, what if it meant he didn’t like her? There were plenty of other men around, but her mind kept returning to Nick. She looked forward to every Latin class because she knew he would be there, passing some sly remark to crack up Del, or delivering one of his perfect translations. The thought that the class was almost over, and that she would likely not see him again until next Fall, made her unaccountably sad.

“I heard a lot about you last night,” said Nick, once their pizza order was in. “From someone we both know. He thinks the world of you, just as I predicted.”

“I had no idea Conor was your father until yesterday,” she replied. “But I can see the resemblance. I like you both very much.”

“I never thought I’d be jealous of my old man,” said Nick thoughtfully.

“Silly, I’m not attracted to him at all,” she said, conscious that it was a white lie. Then she added truthfully, “You’re the only Flynn who’s getting in. But it’s clear where you got your mojo. He’s a very persuasive man.”

Their pizza arrived and he cut a slice for her. “Speaking of my mojo,” he said, “I discovered the reason for its absence when we were together. I have a brain tumor.”

Amber dropped her fork, and it clanged noisily on the table. She stared wordlessly at Nick, her chest tightening with fear, even before she recognized the emotion.

“Amber,” he said cheerfully, “your pupils just dilated to huge dimensions. I didn’t know you cared so much.”

“What…” Her voice cracked. As he waited patiently, she took a sip of Pepsi, then tried again. “What is the prognosis?”

“It’s surprisingly good. As brain tumors go, I have just about the best kind there is. It’s in my pituitary gland, behind my eyes.” He pointed to the bridge of his nose. “The tumor is benign, but it’s getting bigger. If they hadn’t caught it, it would have blinded me.”

“My God,” said Amber. “Can they fix it?”

“Yeah, they go in through the nose and debulk it. Then they give you medication to keep it under control,” he said. “It’s making a hormone that prevents me from getting an erection. They say that as soon as I have the operation, and the meds, everything should be back to normal.”

“That’s great,” she said, though she was skeptical that a large tumor on a tiny bulb in the center of a person’s head, a bulb that controlled many of the body’s most important functions, could be dealt with so simply.

“It’s a good thing my old man put me on his health insurance,” said Nick, “or I’d be shit out of luck. I gave him the news last night. He was almost as shocked as you, but he took it pretty well. I told him I’d pay back the out-of-pocket costs. Eventually.”

“How are you taking it?” she asked. Beneath his casual exterior, he had to be afraid.

“I’m fine. There’s no pain. My main problem is that I have desire, but I also have a dick like an udon noodle.”

Amber smiled flirtatiously. “I disagree. It’s much tastier, though I could imagine adding condiments. Did I ever tell you about the special oil that I make from Rooster hot sauce?”

Nick raised an admonitory hand. “You’re killing me, Amber. Shut up and eat your pizza.”

“Okay. But can I visit you in the hospital?”

He looked surprised, and took a moment to ponder the request. Finally he said quietly, “Yes. I’d like that.”

Copyright 2016 by Linnet Moss

Notes: Nick Flynn may not be as handsome as Errol Flynn, but I had good reasons for giving him the name. I wasn’t sure whether readers would make the connection between Nick and Conor too soon (they both have the surname Flynn), but my hope is that it comes as a mild and welcome surprise.

Flynn is of course an Irish name. Errol Flynn was Australian by birth and became a US citizen. His great-great grandparents were from Ireland, and his father Theodore returned to Ireland to teach marine biology at Queens University in Belfast.


Theodore and Marelle Flynn. You can see that Errol took after his mom.