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  2. drpaladin

    Chapter 18

    It could have been worse. Tim and the meeting being a trap weren't surprises. Weaving the spectre into the story was a nice touch.
  3. Thorn Wilde

    Devon

    Agreed. And I think everyone, monogamous or not, could learn something from the kind of openness and communication found in good, healthy poly relationships. Thanks for all your input on this story, it's greatly appreciated. ❤️
  4. Thorn Wilde

    Devon

    It's true, I've been wanting to write a threesome for a while, and with this story I finally had an excuse to, lol! I get how not everyone will be able to relate to Devon. I never understood it and certainly never thought poly relationships would be for me, until I suddenly found myself with both a boyfriend and a girlfriend at the same time. Now I kind of miss having additional partners. It puts you in a different frame of mind. You end up seeing love and relationships and sex a little differently once you reject the idea of monogamy as the only way. For me, it made me appreciate them all the more. Thank you for reading and commenting regardless!
  5. SHIRT Steve holds Ian's red throbbing PHONE
  6. Today
  7. ObicanDecko

    Honesty

    Blake proved he is an awesome and loyal friend, I'm so glad Jasper decided to confide in him. I'm pretty sure the other two guys will be ok with it as well, they're all friends after all, not just bandmates. I'm still suspicious of Chris, he seems like he has more tricks up his sleeve. If he does decide do kick Ryan out of the band, I'm not sure what the other guys can do about it? They probably have contracts with the record label so they can't just all quit.
  8. Terry was not happy with Justin’s idea about meeting up with his father, but could hardly argue against it. He pointed out that everybody was now vulnerable, including the kids in the house. They could easily end up as hostages, even if Anson didn’t look upon them as targets. But Justin and Nathan came back fiercely saying they had lives to lead, and there was no way of knowing how long the house would be under siege. Finally, they compromised on Terry’s being allowed to drive Justin to Ealing to surreptitiously check out his dad. After father and son had their time together, Terry would link up with Justin and bring him back home. Another problem cropped up when Tim suggested a visit to a pub on Saturday evening. In the end, Justin and Nathan dodged Terry and Jenna to take the American over the garden wall so they could stumble through the back lanes to the village. Tim was by turns morose and artificially cheerful that evening. The boys were sure it was because his relationship with Peter was on the rocks. He had already been informed curtly that, when they got back to the States, Peter would be moving his stuff out of their shared house in New Haven. They were not inclined to condemn Tim too much. Justin in particular had a good deal of sympathy for him, especially as he’d been one of those who had been tempted by and fallen to the man’s sexual allure and good looks. When Tim was in the loo, he said to Nathan, ‘He won’t be on his own too long, I’ll bet.’ ‘Maybe not, but losing Pete Peacher won’t look good on his sexual CV. He might try selling his story to the press for a huge amount, although I can’t imagine Terry letting him get away with it. He’s proved he can’t be trusted. I wouldn’t trust him even if I went to bed with him. He’s nice and he’s funny, but he doesn’t seem to think past the end of his cock. I need a boy I can trust to be my partner, not just my sperm injector.’ ‘Iss not true for everyone.’ ‘I know that, but it’s true for me. Is it true for you, Justy?’ Justin paused and thought. ‘This may not be the best time to tell you, but I let him suck me off one night in the Caribbean.’ ‘What? Justy!’ ‘Don’t get all uppity on me, Underwood. I did it and I ain’t sorry. It seemed right at the time. But I still think I’m faithful to you. And hey, if Terry and Ramon, say, or Will and Felip wanted to get together with us for some fun, what would you do?’ ‘I dunno, Justy … they’re a bit on the old side. I’d not be happy about it, I think. But Tim I’d not trust. How many other men has he been involved with behind Pete’s back, and … this is the awful bit … has he always taken precautions?’ Tim returned at that point, and the air between him and Nathan became frosty. They soon left and returned to Matt’s house, where Terry was furious with all three of them. *** Sunday came. Matt and Andy disappeared early to church, taking Nathan to drop off in Winchmore Hill. Jenna drove. Terry and Justin went in the other direction, following the North Circular Road westward through the light weekend traffic. The dog walkers were out on the common, strolling the tree-lined avenues, and throwing balls for their pets on the lawns. It was humid and overcast. Terry parked on a side street. He and Justin slowly ambled across the grass to the houses on the farther side. When they found the right street and pub, Justin walked straight in while Terry continued past. Justin’s heart was suddenly beating high and he felt very nervous. His father hadn’t sent a picture, just told him to look for a dark-haired man of about six feet, dressed in denim and carrying a Sunday paper. Justin was early, so he settled down with a half of lager. He was well-built these days and shaved daily, so he was not often questioned as to his age. With the appointed hour approaching, it was all Justin could do to stay still in his seat. The clock passed twelve, and there was no one. Justin had sat where he could check out the main entrance. At twelve-fifteen he suddenly realised there would be no father appearing that day. If the man had planned to come, he would have been punctual, or even early, for such a momentous meeting. No man would play power games with time in that sort of situation. Justin felt a little sick with the reaction and, he admitted to himself, with the further evidence that his father was not a man to be relied on. He stood up and left. Terry, standing nonchalantly further along the street, raised his eyebrows when he saw Justin, who shrugged. The two of them had started back to the common when a white van pulled up a little further along the road. As they walked alongside it, the back doors burst open and two men in black jumped out. Justin froze, but Terry had his gun out with an impressive display of reaction time. He levelled it at the two men, who apparently were armed only with truncheons. It was a standoff, until a polite cough from behind Justin introduced a third player in the situation. ‘I’d put the gun away, Terry, there’s a good fellow.’ ‘Why, Anson, you fucker?’ ‘Cos otherwise I’ll have to shoot the boy’s brains out.’ Terry looked back. Justin was standing with Anson’s gun at his head, Anson grinning happily over his shoulder at Terry. Terry dropped his gun and raised his hands. ‘In the back with him, lads. And you, kid, you too.’ Anson shoved Justin into the arms of one of his accomplices, who had retrieved Terry’s gun from the ground. Once Terry and Justin were cuffed and gagged in the back, the van drove off and kept going for as much as a quarter of an hour. When it stopped, bags were placed over their heads and they were shoved stumbling into an echoing space, down some narrow stairs and into a room. A door slammed behind. After they were forced to sit, the cuffs were taken off and their arms tied competently to their chairs. Everything had so far been done in silence. Suddenly Anson’s voice snarled, ‘So Terry, we meet again. A cliché, I know, but in the circumstances it’s the best I can do. You’re going to be here quite a while, and it won’t be the most comfortable period of your life, either. That’s a pity, really, because it’ll be the last bit of your life, too. ‘Okay lads, I’ll take it from here. Off you go.’ Steps retreated and a door opened and closed. There was a moment’s silence before Anson got busy. He removed Terry’s clothes, efficiently cutting off his shirt and jacket, but left the hood and gag on both of them. Then he too went out. Time passed in darkness and fear, made more acute by the urgent pressure building up in Justin’s bladder. Finally the door opened again. His hood and gag were removed and he blinked, although the light was dim in the room. Terry, still hooded, sat a foot or two away from him. There was a steel mortuary table with restraints in front of them, its present purpose all too obvious. Justin looked at Anson, the man who had ruthlessly tortured two Afghan teenagers. He could have no illusions what the man was planning, and it almost caused his bowels to open. Anson was dressed in denims as Justin’s supposed dad was going to be, and he looked like the description. What had been left out was the cold and perfectly self-possessed look in the man’s eyes. ‘Hello Justin. This is a old undertaker’s business, which I’m renting. It came with some useful stuff. So Justin, sorry to disappoint you about the family lunch in the pub. A necessary deception to get Terry into my reach, and I don’t suppose you’ll forgive me, but I’ll have to live with it. ‘Are you tellin’ me you’re actually me dad?’ The man gave a snort of amusement. ‘What do you think? ‘Fraid that’s a mystery you’re gonna be taking into the afterlife, Justin. Anson’s my mother’s name as it happens, the one under which I enlisted in the services: Lieutenant J.M. Anson RM, officer and gentleman.’ ‘If you want me to believe you’re me dad, lemme go, and let Terry go too.’ ‘Oh I can’t do that! Too much history. Too many scores to pay. No, Terry isn’t leaving here alive, or even in one piece.’ ‘Then you’ll have to kill me with him.’ ‘That’s the plan, son, that’s the plan. I can’t let a witness survive, so you’ll have to die as well, but at least for you it will be quick and uncomplicated. Not so for Terry here.’ Anson replaced the gag, but not the hood. ‘And now the fun begins …’ He replaced the cuffs, cut the ropes, and with impressive strength hauled Terry up across the table, cuffing him underneath so his backside was open and vulnerable. ‘Just like old times, eh Terry? You were always a brilliant lay. Now what am I going to do with this sweet boy of mine?’ ‘For Chrissake, leave the kid alone! He’s done nothing to you.’ ‘Ah yes, but he means a lot to you and it’s clearly mutual, so it just adds to my fun to see how the things I do to you affect him. It’ll be great hearing you beg. Now I’m not quite ready to fuck you, I need you to be already missing afew body parts first, so in the meantime enjoy this.’ He inserted a black butt plug hard and deep. Then he repositioned Terry, cuffing him to the table on his back, spreadeagled and exposed. ‘I’ll see you later, boys. Try to get comfortable. I’ll be back.’ Terry looked at Justin compassionately. ‘I’m so sorry, sweet babe, so sorry.’ ‘Terry, we’re not going to get out of this, are we?’ ‘No, babe. Although I wish there was something positive I could tell you, all I can say is that sooner or later it must be over.’ ‘This is shit. My life was so good, and this mega-cunt’s gonna take it from me for no other reason than he’s mad.’ ‘Get resigned, kid. It’s a terrible hard thing, but if you resign yourself to whatever horrors he inflicts, they won’t mean so much.’ ‘You know he claims to be me dad. He’s lying, isn’t he?’ There was a long pause as Terry gathered his strength. ‘Dunno, son. It’s possible I suppose. His mate Laurie always called him Johnny, which I thought was a code name, but perhaps it may have been his real name after all … Jack can be short for John. Whether he's really the man your mum was talking about, though, doesn’t seem likely now.’ ‘Is he … going to, y’know, cut you?’ ‘Don’t think about it, Justy. Your own imagination’ll help him torture you. Concentrate on breathing and saying goodbye to everything you know. Can I just start by saying goodbye to you, you beautiful boy. I’ve been so proud of you, as proud as a proper father could be, and I love you so much it hurts. Watching you triumph over your shite life and transform into the thoughtful, funny and loving boy you are has been such a privilege. I love you, Justy, you’re the babe of babes, and you’re a thousand times the man Anson is.’ Tears were streaming down Justin’s face by now. He couldn’t think of a thing to say. It was quite a long time before Anson returned, still naked. He came up to Justin, bent down and went to kiss him. Justin turned his face away, until a stinging slap that set off fireworks behind his eyes forced him to take the attention. ‘Got no respect for your old man, have you, Justy?’ ‘Don’t call me that, it’s reserved for people who I care for. You’re just a lump of shite. Let Terry go.’ Anson gave him a considering look. ‘Your concern for him isn’t going to endear him to me. He’s got to die after all he’s done to me, and the fact that he’s got your affection is just one more reason to kill him.’ ‘Go fuck yourself!’ Justin croaked. Another slap left him with his ears ringing. Anson then turned on Terry. He introduced a trolley containing batteries and wires into the room. and proceeded to hook them up in a sickly imaginative way. Justin tried to close his ears to the screams and pleas, but they went on and on, for hours. Terry passed out several times and eventually couldn’t be revived with any ease. Justin sat stunned as Anson kissed Terry’s drooling mouth. The room was full of the stink of burning flesh. Anson left Terry lying there. As the hours passed, Justin got more and more thirsty and hungry. At some time his control over his tortured bladder gave way, and the smell of his piss-soaked trousers added its acrid tang to the atmosphere in the room. Terry was still unconscious when the dreaded rattle of the door handle announced yet another session of torture. Anson appeared, dressed in overalls now, turned on a water source and hosed down Terry’s body. At last Terry coughed, spluttered and groaned. His eyes opened. ‘Hullo, Terry. I want you awake for the next bit.’ Anson uncuffed him and simply rolled him on to the floor, where he flopped with a heavy thump and lay unable to move. Then Anson hauled Justin up from the chair. He could barely stand, so Anson heaved him bodily on to the table on his back and restrained him. Anson looked down on the boy with a mad smile, kissed his cheek lightly, and said, ‘Justy, you have been a bad boy. It’s about time a father took you in hand. Oh and you’ve wet yourself, so we’d better have these off you.’ Justin heaved on the table in desperation. He could guess what was coming next. A sharp knife slit his clothes and the rags were thrown to one side, leaving him lying naked on the cold metal surface. Then his balls were gripped and cruelly twisted. He writhed and gasped. Anson left him to attend to other business. There came a dragging sound as Terry was hauled over the floor to a chair. It was as he was being pulled up that Terry made a superhuman effort and grappled with Anson, seizing him by the throat. They swayed and staggered across the room where Justin could not see them. He heard cursing, a clatter as if a tray of instruments had been overturned, and heavy breathing. Suddenly a male voice cried out in agony. Justin strained at his bonds, to see with horror a bloodstained Anson rising unsteadily to his feet, a knife in his hand. He stared round, eyes wide, and focussed triumphantly on Justin. At that moment his attention switched to the door. There came a crash and a detonation as the room filled with smoke and laser lights. Dark bodies moved in the gloom amid swearing and several flashes. Shouting surrounded Justin. Strong arms released him from his restraints and cradled him gently. ‘Terry, Terry!’ he shouted, ‘I gotta get to Terry.’ But he was carried out into a passage, stretchered and taken at a run up some stairs to an ambulance. It raced away screaming into the night, a doctor and paramedics labouring over him as it went. *** Shock and sedatives kept Justin from regaining consciousness for twenty-four hours. When he finally awoke, he found himself in a hospital ward. A hand was holding his, and he turned his head to see Nathan sitting beside him. He tried to smile, but only managed a grimace. ‘Hi, babe,’ he croaked. ‘Oh, Justy, I thought I’d lost you!’ and Nathan was sobbing on top of him while Justin patted his head weakly. Nathan mastered himself and pulled back. ‘Sorry, Justy. Hope I didn’t hurt you.’ ‘Nah. Everything hurts, specially me bollocks. You couldn’t avoid it. No sex for weeks, I’d guess.’ He paused as his mind sent image after image pulsing back into his head. He sat up abruptly. ‘Terry! Where’s Terry?’ ‘Easy, my babe! He’s here. He’s in intensive care. He’s not great, but he’s alive.’ ‘Thank God. Oh, he’s such a hero! Christ, what he went through! What he did! And that fucker Anson?’ ‘Dead. They shot him as they burst in. They were taking no risks. Six in the head, a copper told me.’ ‘Good. Nate, I’ve decided to believe in religion, just so I know the evil bastard is in hell where he needs to be. But Terry, what’s happened to him?’ ‘Anson did terrible things to him … well, you know that … and knifed him in the gut, deliberately slashed him wide open. But the doctors got to him in time. He was in theatre for three hours. They’ve stitched him up. He’s lost some bowel, and the electrical torture meant he’s lost a testicle too. He’s got third degree burns over parts of his body. They’ve done grafts.’ Justin lay back appalled. ‘If they’d come any later, I’d have been much the same. Christ, my balls ache!’ Nathan looked as though he was going to vomit. He stood up abruptly and walked to the window. It was night time outside. ‘What day is it, Nate?’ ‘It’s Wednesday. He had you from Sunday to early Tuesday morning.’ ‘How in hell did you find us?’ Nathan looked troubled. ‘It’s a long story, babe, and some of it will be difficult to take, so if you don’t mind I’ll leave it for a while. Andy said to keep it quiet and not to tell you.’ ‘Where is …?’ But his question was answered by the arrival of Andy and Matt themselves. Andy dripped tears all over him and kissed him. Matt just sat next to him, gave him a tender embrace and held his hand. Justin tried to tell them how he was feeling. They in turn had more news of Terry, who had been stabilised and would be kept sedated for now. ‘Ramon’s with him, willing him to pull through. He’s strong, Justy.’ ‘Tell me about it. His last effort to take Anson down was superhuman. He’s like a hero of legend. I love him so much.’ ‘We all do, Justy,’ agreed Andy. ‘We owe him far more than we can ever repay. There’s talk of the government giving him an award of some sort, someone said it was the George Medal.’ ‘Andy?’ ‘Yes, kid?’ ‘When I was strapped to that chair, waiting for a horrible death …’ ‘… please, Justy.’ ‘Hear me out. I kept running over the regrets I had about my life. The biggest one was that I refused to let you and Matt adopt me. I wanna put that right. I want to be your kid for good and all. I wanna wipe out the memory of that monster who claimed to be my dad and was gonna kill me.’ Andy smiled hugely at him. ‘You sure?’ ‘Yes, dad.’ Andy started at the application of the term to him, then smiled through the tears. ‘Let’s do it, son. I kept the paperwork somewhere. So the world gets a new Peacher boy.’ ‘A Peacher-White, I think.’ ‘Of course. You’re our kid alright. You’ll do exactly what you want and not listen to us at all.’ *** The press was alight. The kidnapping had made news across the world. Therefore, when Justin left the hospital three days later, he was besieged by a mob of cameramen and reporters wanting to know all the gory details. Having foreseen just such a possibility, Andy had called upon his lawyers to run interference and issue statements. No one got near Justin, who was whisked directly to a plane and flown out with Nathan and his adoptive parents to the Peacher yacht, then moored off Nice. Richard Peacher was waiting as the helicopter landed, and shook Justin’s hand warmly. ‘So, my boy, it appears I’m a grandfather at last.’ Justin looked at him seriously. ‘Only if you want to be, sir.’ ‘Son, I doubt if I could be prouder of any grandson of my own blood than I am of you. It’s an honour for us to have you in the family, and you can use my name with my blessing.’ ‘Thank you, sir. You don’t know what that means to me.’ ‘Come into the main lounge. I flew over a lot of your friends, who’ve been waiting for you to get here. It’s about time for someone to explain to me – as much as to you – what really happened that Sunday.’ Justin followed his new grandfather into the lounge, to find it full of his favourite people. What surprised him was the large Rothenian contingent, with Fritz, Oskar, Will and Felip sitting together. They grinned at him, and Fritz waved cheekily. Justin was also startled to see Peter Peacher there. ‘Hey, Uncle Pete. Shouldn’t you be in Yale or something?’ Peter came over, hugged and kissed him, then held him by both hands and told him how sorry he was at what had happened. ‘Thanks, Pete. What … no Tim?’ A spasm crossed Peter’s face. ‘No. No Tim. You won’t be seeing him again.’ Matt began organising people through some double doors into a board room. Everyone took seats randomly except for Justin, who was ushered to the top of the table. Andy sat on one side of him, Nathan on the other. ‘Justy, we waited to tell you the full story till we could get Fritz and Oskar here. You’ll know why soon enough. So, where do we start? Sunday we saw you and Terry off to what we thought would be a meeting with your long-lost father in Ealing. Just after midday we had a call from Strelzen. It was Oskar, who had better continue the explanation.’ Oskar looked at him with a smile. ‘Mine is – as you know, Justy – an old family, going right back to the early middle ages. Some strange tales are told of it, strange even for my homeland, a place of many uncanny stories. This one began long ago, in the wars between the Hussites and the last Rothenian duke, Waclaw III, when a Bohemian army besieged the old castle at Tarlenheim. The count then was my ancestor Jerzy Cerescu … I think you would call him “Black George”. I could tell you how he got his name, but it would put you off your dinner. ‘So there was the Bohemian army camped in the river meadows round our castle, with Count Jerzy inside, feeling pretty good. He had plenty of food, and the old castle of Tarlenheim was very much … what do you call a castle that cannot be taken, Will?’ Will stirred. ‘I think you mean impregnable.’ ‘Yes, impregnable. Not much chance for the Bohemians, who were becoming desperate. Winter was closing in and they still had to get past our castle to penetrate the Husbrau region and sack Modenehem. So they decided to break the castle’s spirit. They rounded up the locals and began executing them quite horribly, one by one. And of course they always killed friends or relatives of the defenders. They also paraded the next day’s victim before the walls in order to prolong the agony … and people wonder why Rothenians and Czechs do not get on. ‘Now it so happened that on the seventh day they paraded a young woman as the next victim. And it also happened that her father was in the garrison. He saw the horror awaiting her and broke down. On guard duty that night, he slipped out of the castle, and arranged with the Bohemians that he would secretly open a postern gate to them the following night, if they would spare his daughter. ‘Count Jerzy was a grim man, who always lined up the garrison to watch the torture and execution of the victims – to remind them, he said, why they were fighting such animals, and to “do honour,” as he also said, to the sufferings of a compatriot. That day his keen sight noted that there had been a change of victim; a dark-haired young woman was killed and not a blonde. He immediately suspected something. ‘Now another thing about the count was that his mother had been a lady aristocrat from the Byzantine Empire, a granddaughter of the empress Theophania, of whom strange tales are told: that she was a seer and a sorceress and other such things. Certainly she had foreseen her own death and made many other predictions that had come true, the way these prophecies do, with people not realising the truth of them till after the event. The bishop of Modenheim was a little reluctant to bury her in his cathedral as a result. ‘Nothing strange had manifested itself in the count’s life until then, but that night his mother’s blood boiled up in his veins, as we say in Rothenia. While he nervously paced the walls expecting treachery, he realised he was being followed by a hooded figure in a grey cloak, which he could see out of the corner of his eye. When he turned to confront it, however, it was gone. No one else could see it. Then he knew it was a spectral manifestation of power and purpose, and indeed he feared it was a prophecy of his own death that night. Yet as he paced the parapets he noticed a strange thing: the figure was interested in others, not him. He observed the figure pause at each sentry, nod slowly at him, and pass by. But when the count came to the postern gate where the traitor stood guard, the spectre halted and this time threw back its hood, revealing a gaunt and terrible face. It pointed at the traitor, nodded to the count and was gone. ‘Being a decisive man, Count Jerzy had the guard arrested. On being questioned with instruments, the guard soon broke down and confessed his complicity. The count then prepared an ambush for the Bohemians. When they penetrated the defences, they found themselves trapped between bowmen and doused with boiling liquids. Hundreds of them died, and the siege was raised.’ ‘Wow,’ exclaimed Nathan, ‘and the father and daughter?’ ‘Rothenian tales rarely have happy endings, Nathan. The count hung the father. The Bohemians butchered the girl in retaliation for their humiliation. ‘The grey spectre has appeared several other times in the history of my family. The Field Marshal Prince of Tarlenheim, who fought for the Empire in the Seven Years War, received a visit from it in his tent on campaign in Bavaria in 1755. He was led out into the dark in time to detect a night attack on his position by French grenadiers, who would have killed him. ‘I would set less belief in this story were it not that my own father, while interned in a labour camp under the Communists as a young man, was once visited by the spectre. It seemed several agents provocateurs had been put in the camp to detect conspiracy. He woke in the deep quiet of a moonlit night to find a gaunt, hooded figure pacing the barrack room. It paused at each bunk, nodded and continued until it stopped at the one next to his. There it pointed at the bunk’s occupant, a young man with whom my father had got very friendly, and dropped its hood. My father went pale with the dread of that moment as he told me the story when I was a boy. With the moonlight full on it, he could see that it was white and fleshless, he said, with the true horror of treachery etched upon its visage. And indeed my father, knowing the significance of the vision, would not again confide in that young man, who betrayed several others in the camp to the secret police and to their deaths.’ Matt stirred, thanked Oskar and looked at Justin. ‘The next bit of the story belongs to His Serene Highness. Fritzy, will you continue?’ Fritz looked suddenly far too serious for a young teenager, yet he spoke up in his light tenor voice as cool and confident as ever. ‘Do you remember, Justy, the day we said goodbye in the hall of the Tarlenheim palace in Strelzen? I came running down the stairs and gave you all the traditional blessing. As I was going along the line and kissing you, I realised that something very odd was happening. A misty, grey-hooded figure was standing behind each of you as I did it, and bowed toward me as I kissed you. I tried to ignore it – I thought I was seeing things – but it became less misty at each kiss. And when I came to the last person, it was as clear as if it were one of you. In ragged grey sacking it was, and when I went to kiss the last of you, it dropped its hood and revealed its white face and dead black eyes. It held its shrouded hand over that man’s head, and was gone.’ ‘I remember now, but the last of us was … Tim. My God. You think …?’ ‘Oskar took me aside after you went, and I told him what I thought I had seen. Then he recounted the legend of the spectre and we discussed what to do. But that was not the end of things. The spectre was seen walking in the palace daily from then on, always at midday, and not just by me. Oskar saw it too.’ Oskar picked up the thread. ‘It was the Sunday and by that time I was always with Fritzku at noon, knowing there might be a visitation. We were in the breakfast room, and as the clock was striking the hour the thing was there with us again. That day it did not just appear and stalk away, it looked full at us and dropped its hood. I saw the white face too, as my father had done before me. It was I think a personification of betrayal … in the view of Ernst Tokvats, one of our great writers, the worst of all sins. In the countenance of that phantom you could see everything that was repulsive in the act of treachery. I have to tell you I have resolved in future to attend mass and confession more regularly.’ Fritz added, ‘That last time – for it has not appeared again – the thing did not just look at us. It pointed with its swathed arm at the clock in the breakfast room. That gesture told us the betrayal had already happened, it had happened in England, and Tim had been responsible for it in some way.’ Oskar nodded. ‘I immediately put through a call to Terry, but there was no answer even on his priority number. Then I contacted Matt, to whom I tried to explain everything as logically and convincingly as I could. He listened, and it is now to him to take up the story.’ Matt looked around the table. ‘It was a weird call to take, but I couldn’t regard it as a hoax. Oskar is as sane and practical a man as I have ever met. Besides, in the mood the Highgate house was in, I was expecting some imminent disaster. So I got Jenna, who was by then quite alarmed not to have received Terry’s periodic check-in call. She went looking for Tim and found him pacing in the garden. He must have read something in her eyes, because he refused her polite request to come and talk to us in the lounge. At that point, as Jenna does, she became less polite, and he accompanied her anyway. ‘So there we were and there he was, not knowing how to proceed. Tim is not a criminal, however, and was very on edge, while Jenna is an experienced and clever interrogator. It was an education to watch her. She began by gently questioning him about his movements since he had been in London, and anyone who had approached him about us and our activities. He swore he’d had no such contact. Then she gave a pretty detailed description of Anson and asked if he recognised it. By then he was sweating, but he claimed he’d never seen the man. She coolly told him that her information was otherwise, that she knew of several meetings. Then she stunned me: “So how was Anson blackmailing you, Tim?” she asked out of the blue. ‘He denied it, but he was flushed and panicking. Every time he denied it, she told him he was lying, that she could smell the lies on him, and that his only chance to avoid charges of conspiracy to murder was to talk then and there. And he talked. ‘He was shaking and his voice was inaudible at times, but it had all begun on a wild night in New York when Tim had been seduced in a seedy club in Greenwich Village by an underage boy prostitute. There were pictures and threats and it soon became clear that there was a mastermind behind it. Tim began feeding Peacher information to his contact, either that or face exposure, the end of his university career and a period in incarceration. Anson contacted him directly for the first time in Strelzen, not just pumping him for information but forcing him into some pretty demeaning sex acts too. It was through Tim that Anson had daily information on our movements, so he could set up the kidnapping of Terry.’ Justin butted in at that point. ‘So, his stringing along about being me father, he must have begun that from prison.’ Matt nodded. ‘Yes, he was a clever man. He spotted the story in Gay Universe and took a chance. I don’t believe he was your father, Justy. I’m even willing to arrange for a DNA test on his corpse to clear that nightmare out of your life.’ ‘No wonder there were days between his replies and my questions. But how did he know about me mam and stuff?’ ‘He had agents, contacts and money. I’m sure they located your mum’s friends and bribed them to give all sorts of details of her early life and boyfriends. How sure are you that your mother wouldn’t have told her drinking pals what she told you in hospital?’ ‘Can’t know for certain, can I? Me poor mam.’ ‘So Anson knew where you’d be at midday that Sunday, and Tim let him know it would be just you and Terry. Having already rented his torture chamber in Uxbridge, all he needed was his victims. You walked right into his ambush.’ ‘But how did the police find us? Don’t tell me the spectre turned up again.’ ‘No Justy, that was the one good thing Tim was able to do for us. He had Anson’s mobile number, and once he gave it to us, we were able to pass it on to Jenna’s contacts in the Met and MI5. Within two hours they had a GPS fix on each location the mobile had called from during the past month. It took a while, but eventually the police identified several premises he regularly used. They found you in Uxbridge on the Monday night, and a SWAT team took Anson out, a process less dangerous because Terry was trying to save you and kill him at the time.’ ‘What’s happened to Tim?’ ‘On bail, awaiting trial for conspiracy,’ put in Peter ‘That’s not fair, Pete’ objected Justin, looking hard at Peter. ‘He was a victim too.’ ‘I suppose he was, although I’m convinced he could have handled the whole thing better if only his character hadn’t been so weak. I’m not mad at him anymore, though. I feel sorry for him. I’ll even help him if I can, but whatever there was between us is over now. I agree with Oskar that betrayal’s the worst thing you can do. Tim betrayed me in more ways than one.’ ‘Whaddya mean?’ said Justin. Peter looked uncomfortable with his father in the room but went on, ‘Tim had been getting increasingly promiscuous and careless. I don’t know where he got them or when, but he picked up gonorrhoea and chlamydia and passed them on to me, the fool. So now I’m under medical supervision until I get rid of them.’ Richard Peacher looked more than a little stern at this. ‘Yes, dad, I’m sorry. I told you I’d be careful when I came out, but I guess I chose the wrong partner.’ When he saw how concerned his father was, he added, ‘It’ll be okay, dad, they’re curable. I’ll live to choose the wrong man again.’ Richard Peacher stared stonily down the table. ‘At least the man Anson, or Whittaker, or whoever he was will never trouble us again. I’m sorry for you, Justin, to have to live with the memories he’s given you. But you’ll recover, I know, and you’ve got new parents who love you very much. Sylvia is in London, and she tells me that Terry is conscious again and recovering, though whether he will want to continue in his old job I rather doubt. As long as he’s still with us, I could ask no more than that. He’s swearing he’ll be in Virginia to begin the new semester with you, son. When are you off?’ ‘At the weekend, dad,’ said Andy. ‘Justy and his Nathan need to get back to Highgate too. Justy’s starting college … going to school voluntarily for the first time in his life.’ ‘Then let’s enjoy what time we have together, friends and family.’
  9. Philippe

    The Next Step

    LOL, not my intent at all; just thinking out loud. @Aceinthehole has talents far beyond me to be weaving his stories. I have faith that regardless which direction it takes a us it will be an adventure. He is an amazingly young talent. I do get vested with the characters though and can only hope to have that gang all survive the tale. Perhaps because of the young characters and having lost a young friend/crush in high school, it was truly a shocking lost when Jamie didn’t survive Velocity. To build that connection of a character and their bonded characters with the audience and then have that character violently and unexpectedly snatched from the audience is more difficult for me but I still appreciate the talent regardless.s
  10. chris191070

    Honesty

    I’m pleased Jasper came out to Blake. It gives Jasper and Ryan an ally in the band. I hope the band gets there lawyer to look at the new contract. Ryan deserves to be in the band, so Chris needs constant reminding of his harshness towards Ryan in the band.
  11. chris191070

    Lon Chapter 5

    My guess is Gold.
  12. droughtquake

    The Next Step

    You’ve just upped the ante for @Aceinthehole! You’ve added orders of complexity to the situation. It will be interesting to see whether your comments have affected the story arc… ;–)
  13. Philippe

    The Next Step

    Unfortunately I understand the problems with trying to find a proper balance between protecting the child and allowing them to find their own truth/identity; it’s a tough nut to crack. But the child, like water seeking it’s own level, will find their own path. I have a fantastic relationship with a former neighbor child. He lost his dad to suicide as a sophomore in high school. He came to me seeking guidance. I became a mentor and father figure during some difficult and challenging times. The relationship grew to be best explained to outsiders as a god-father role but I feel as if the boy is my true family. He was however adopted by the only dad he had known and lost to suicide. Since that time he has been contacted by his bio-dad. Bio-dad’s reputation was sinful by reporting family members. Thankful I never assumed or tried to impose a position on the issue. But as he was learning to challenge assumptions and deciding how much exposure he wanted to chance, I was there it support safe and sound thinking. He was hoping for the best but proceeded with the worst assumptions for his bio-dad to confirm or disprove. Well this all brought about many disclosures from those previous reporting family members and a better understanding of the family dynamics. Now my god-son has a relationship with his bio-dad. That relationship is not a deep rooted bond but now more honest and open for growth. Most importantly he has a relationship with two younger half siblings that he so cherishes. The added family relationship between those kids has brought them peace and mutual support in difficult situations. While all this drama would lead you to believe our bond has lessened but that is not the case either. He still sees our relationship as the support he can trust and depend on. The relationship with bio-dad closes gaps on some family timelines and commonalities but doesn’t carry the trusted bond, support, and guidance he seeks from me. I so rejoice for each text updating me test scores, accomplishments, and ideas for new goals and dreams. My conclusion to this tale is though Ezra may be exactly as Adam believes him to be, there may also be more important lessons to be had from Ezra’s explanations. I don’t doubt there could have been death threats or others pressures from Sarah’s parents. Ezra’s parents may have put increased pressure to hide to protect him. Either way there seems to be others involved too and I would rather know who and what to trust before putting this issue to bed. Could and should Ezra have made contact before now? Yes! Should Adam have already made contact before now? Yes! Should everyone in Artie’s life been more forthcoming? Absolutely! Sometimes life makes us believe you can’t rebuild bridges once burned, sometimes it teaches us the replacement is even stronger than any before, then at other times we realize that bridge was burned to insulate us from the dangers of the other side. I love this story and look forward to seeing where it’s taking us next.
  14. I found it funny how just one week ago, I was contemplating how to get my wallet back from a stranger that I had just met the day before. And, now, he was quickly walking right next to me down a road I pass by every week day, Springfield Lane. Why is that so significant? Because it was here that I recall thinking of a boy, for the first time, in ways that I never have before. It was on this lane and intersection, exactly, where I replayed his voice over and over again my mind, relishing it’s accent and his pronunciation and annunciation of how he spoke in his foreign, city-boy speech, desperately trying to decipher what about it appealed to me so much. And, I felt awkward & jittery all at the same time. And that’s exactly what I felt this time as well. Awkward & jittery, but, for far other reasons, entirely, than before when I had not known a thing about him as a person or his hidden & forbidden secret persona. I was not sure what to even say to Salem as we quickly walked, but, I remember strictly recalling when we left his house how angry he looked and seemed, almost in a psychedelic & supernatural manor as if he was having some sort of a mental & psychic battle with a spirit of the dead as they fought each other’s minds violently in an awesome & cryptic battle as they glared at the one another’s eyes, not blinking once, to see who would win, whose mind was stronger, who’s thoughts were deadlier, & who would dominate the other in their supernatural battle of power, mental, & psychic abilities for all to see. His own family couldn’t even stop him from leaving the house. I wondered if he acted like this back in Brooklyn where he was from with his mom. Did she live alone with him? And, why didn’t they all live in one house? I could only imagine a women being alone and trying to control and also love her young son all at the same time if he just left the house whenever he wanted, threw things, lashed out, hit people, smoked, drank, and God only knows what else. I, mean, it all happened so fast, I couldn’t even say “Hello.” or “Goodbye.” To his sister and father. And, for the record & love of God, SALEM is STRONG. OW!! He freaking squeezed my hand so hard, that my pinky bent in this really awkward & unnatural way that it almost made me push him off! I almost did, but, he gripped it in a less hurtful way before I even got the chance. As we continued to walk, I remember feeling one thing- confusion. That’s exactly what I felt as I was walking beside Salem in a speedy & uncomfortable pace on the sidewalk by the Cleaners in our town, passing it by, quickly, while I was looking down nervously at my fingers as I played with them, debating, whether or not I should even say anything at that moment, unsure of the type of response it would issue from him, considering the unstable, emotional state he was in at that moment. I decided to speak anyway as I contemplated to myself what should even be said, and the type of reaction it would cause. “Salem?” “…What.” He said in that annoyed & sharp tone of his boyish voice as if I had been repeating his name over and over again and he was trying to focus really hard on his math homework while doing a complicated word problem and I had just interfered with his thinking process of correctly solving the equation, causing him to have to start all over again from the beginning. I softly replied. “Are- are you okay?” He looked at me, instantly, with a look that caused his nose to wrinkle in, somewhat, disgust as if I had just told him that I secretly enjoyed smelling his socks & chewed on them seductively in his room while he wasn’t around. “Yeah, why?” *honk* A car in front of us honked and stopped us from continuing to walk across the street as cars began to drive as the light was red. Apparently, we were both so lost in our own heads & caught in our own web of thoughts, that were not even paying attention whatsoever to our surroundings as we walked in our speedy pace. I jumped from the loud noise a bit as we stopped and stood awkwardly at the corner at the light of the Main Street waiting for it to change. People were looking at us. I noticed. I guess seeing two teens walk really fast as though one is going to kill someone as his friend tries to keep up draws some attention to yourself on a suburban, casual main street after a while. Plus, it might not seem to matter, but, he was wearing all black and combined with his mood, it just made him look like a storm in human form about to rain his showers on anyone’s flowers around him a in a violent torrent of twisters and hurricanes as he just stared at the sky above making his eyes turn a sharp brightburn blue as his powers reigned and rained all around him as they helplessly experienced his fury & power, unable to do anything to stop the chaos as they begged for the clouds to go and blow away. You could just tell. It was obvious. He was on edge. As he stood there, his hands were moving and shaking as they hung on his sides as if he was shaking off invisible water from them as he shifted his body weight, unnecessarily, from one foot to the other, back & fourth quickly as he was looking anywhere and everywhere, turning his head back and fourth, & not being able to stand still. Being around his energy made my own behavior mimic his. I began to feel even more uneasy than I did before. “Uhm, I don’t know. We sort of left in a hurry.” I said a bit briskly. He, then, looked at me. His movements died down for a moment. He gave me that same look with hazed eyes that he gave me in his bedroom for a moment before we darted out of there and looked at my lips, then my forehead, then chin, then my eyes and said. “I’m sorry.” As he looked at me with a sincere look. It was a bit of a shock. His mood changed. The clouds of danger which were blowing all around us that his mind and emotions had created since he pulled me out of his room that we were both fighting as the imaginary winds he was radiating from how he felt swirled around us, suddenly, seemed to vanish in mid air. I never heard him apologize to anyone in front of me before or to me for that matter. I couldn’t help but notice how sincere he was being. He stared at the ground almost replaying the scenario in his mind. The light turned green for the crosswalk. We both noticed as we continued our pace. “Where do I turn?” He asked me. “What do you mean? I don’t know where we’re going.” I responded as a matter of factly. He looked at me as though it was obvious I should know what to say to him and responded- “Your house. Where do I turn.” He said, accentuating his second sentence almost as if to tell me “Hurry up. I’m not in the mood right now.” I hesitated. This was Bad. Salem just got in trouble for having ME in his house alone. What on earth would happen if he went to mine? I remembered the look that Sarah gave her father that night when we all shared a meal of Chinese takeout when he commented how much he wanted to go to my house. And I, instantly, thought one thing- “What happened the LAST time he even went to someone’s house alone?” Did I even want to know? What would happen if he flips again. What would my mom say?! My mom was a very kind & down to earth women who had basically been a role model and a best friend to me my entire life that I could always confide in and count on. But, she has a very srtrict sense of order when it comes to manners and discipline one should follow in regards to respecting others. “Well?” He said as we began to pick up our pace against my will. “Uhm-it’s uh..” my speech died off. I really didn’t want to tell him. Couldn’t we just... like go somewhere else? The park? Sweeetie’s? I could show him that place! Nelly’s? The candy shop? The town’s mini theatre? Stop & Shop?! I don’t care! Anywhere is fine with me, just, not my house where I have to mentally battle and decipher how to keep everyone calm and collected and walk on egg shells. I didn’t want anymore problems for the day. I was already exhausted. “What? I can’t HEAR you.” He said. I really didn’t want to get him even more upset then he already was. So I thought for a moment and defeatedly said- “Two blocks up, turn right on Micklemerry, 6 blocks down and your there. 86 Manhattan Drive, little blue-“ “Okay, great. Thanks. Lemme’ get us some drinks okay, man? Hmm. I think that little café joint has some sodas. I can’t go in the dollar store. That girl there gave me some lip, because, I asked her when the man in charge would be back and she got all emotional and stuff. Like she even knows me or my own life. God. So ANNOYING. She doesn’t even know who she is or what she’s talking about. I don’t want anything to ever do with her ever again. She can’t see me. She’s not allowed. She can’t come back inside. I won’t let her. She can’t stop meeee. The imbeciiillleee.” He said and as he led on to that last sentence. The creepiest thing occurred to his voice that I had ever heard in a voice before in my life. It literally sounded like a boy named, Salem, was talking and started the conversation; but, as he continued with what he was saying, it’s like his face sort of changed it’s demeanor and his voice transformed into that low, demon & grim reaper, two-people-talking-at-once voice I heard a few times, before, while I was alone with him in his bedroom; it sounded like he was talking from the shadows of your own mind in hell as Salem’s own voice disappeared into the background under it as it came out of his throat and teenage body. That’s how his voice sounded. It went as low as his pubescent vocal chords would allow it to go, but, somehow picked up some extra tones. I did not understand how his voice could even DO such a thing; It freaked me out so much. I said nothing in response to what he said as he just led the way. I kept walking behind him as I let him drift a bit ahead of me, honestly, creeped out by his unusual behavior. I’d have said something. But, it’s a bit too vulgar for me to say out loud. But, if I did, it would have sounded a lot like- “...What the Duck?” We went inside of the café and he spoke to the register girl. “Sup, can I have these two Monsters, please? Oh, and lemme’ get a Blueberry muffin. You got those? I like ‘em. … Well? ...Hello?” The girl stared at him with sort of wide eyes saying nothing. She looked my age to be honest. I reckoned she must have been the daughter of the family who owned the dimly lit & coffee smelling place. “Uhm…” He said. “oh -OH! Haha. Uhm, sure. Yeah! We have those. They’re sooooo good. Hehehe. Uhm. I like them toasted. Do you? You want that? I can do it. Ya, know? Ha. Well? Oh, and sodas? Oh, I mean, MONSTERS?! They’re not sodas. They’re energy drinks. Haha. Sure!” She said all giggly and way too fast for my tastes as I noticed Salem just give her a look as she continued that just said “UHMM yaaaaah.” As his nose wrinkled and his eyes widened a bit. Talk about your “What the duck?” moment. “Uhh, yaaaaa. Sure, thang. Thanks. Toasted? Never had that. Sure, dazzle me. Why not? Maybe, some butter. Looks like you don’t even need any Monsters with all the freaking energy YOU got...” He said in front of everyone. I almost died hearing him say that and seeing her reaction. She paused for a moment then blurted “HAHAHHAA! Yeahhh! I’ll get you’re muffin Mmk?Here’s a cookie on me. Heh. So where are you from? I’ve never seen you hear before.” He said, casually, “I’m from my parents.” Meaning biologically coming from his mother’s womb at his birth due to the natural insemenation process of human reproduction. I spit out some saliva trying to hold in my laughter in front of everyone and failed miserably. That girl gave a look that was blank as she tried to put together the response he just issued her. “Oh, HAHAHAHHAAAAA!!!!! You’re FUNNNNYYYY.” She said. A few seconds later he walked up to me looking at nothing with a look and just said “Fuc*.” HAHA! Oh my god. That was funny. I guess Salem gets it good with the ladies considering how her and her friends were all giggles and wiggles while he had his back turned to them as we proceeded to leave the place while he began munching on his little toasted muffin which was blueberry flavor, his favorite. Hehe. I don’t know why, but, it made me smile to know that for some reason as I saw him chew on it happily. ________ *Ding Dong* The doorbell rang to my house and Salem was by my side. This was so weird! I was so nervous. Why? I’ve had friends over before in my old house. Right? Hearing my mothers slipper covered feet walk up to the side door I remember distinctly closing my eyes Shut. Almost regretting having bought him over as if my mind was saying-“Please, don’t, Please, don’t. Please, don’t.” “Hey, sweetie.” My mother said to me. She turned to look at him and scanned him up and down for a moment. I felt one emotion then, guilt. My mommy was looking at the very boy that I had been, secretly, thinking about in lewd ways over the last week, making me confused, happy, & nervous all at the same time. This was the boy who almost just beat the flipping pancakes out of me two hours ago, and was the same boy I had just shared my very first romantic, full-on kiss with while I was alone with in his very own bedroom! This is terrible! “And who is this young man.” She said with a smile. Oh my god. Kill me mercilessly. My Cheeks were cooking. If they made any audible noise, whatsoever at that moment, which I’m pretty sure that they did, they would have sounded a-lot like- “Tssssssss.” “Uh, well.” I stopped. How do I talk? What do I say, again? Who, exactly is he? Who am I, again? What does my life even mean anymore? “Well, come on in! Don’t just stand there.” She said with a grin. He was inside. My house was now the vessel which Salem was inside of and I felt so on edge; it was sickening. The room was spinning and my face felt hot. “Hello, ma’am. I’m Salem. I am the son of Nelly, the owner of the town’s pizza shop by the Main Street Johnny goes to.” He said with a smile all proper like extending his hand to her. “I have just moved into town two weeks ago from NY where I’m from so I am still getting used to everything here and meeting the locals.” My mouth hung open. My god. Who’s this?! He’s acting all… proper and … and nice and stuff. It was kind of.... uhm “cute”. Is that even a word I’m allowed to use? That’s the only one I can use to describe this. I was lost. This is weird. My mother gave a look as though he just told her he was the Honor Role student of our high school, nodded, shook his hand, gave a little dramatic and playful bow, giggled said. “Well, Pleased to meeet you Mr. Claymore. I’m Mrs. Applebee. But, call me Ms. Applebee, for the love of God. We’re working on some business.” She said with a grin almost mentally communicating him as though he was a 46 year old millionaire full fledged adult. What the heck? Mom!! That’s a touchy subject, here. You can’t DO THIS! “Oh, okay.” He said. He looked around and sort of pouted and nodded and said. “This is a nice home you have, here. You put this together? I like it. Blue is my favorite color.” “Oh, well...” she began and sat down at the table and drank some coffee she obviously made prior to our arrival as she was in her casual house outfit. “You see... I wanted to paint it. But, it’s kind of cute! I think I like it like this. I don’t know... thank you! I did it all with Johnny’s help. Just us.” She said smiling at me. He looked at me and smiled, too. There were his lips. The ones that were just on my own, earlier. And, there was my MOM looking at me and smiling about 5 feet away from them. UGH. This is just crazy! This is disgusting! What the heck has happened to my life?! I needed to get out of there. This just got too awkward for my body to function. “Yes. Uhm. Can we see you in a little bit, mom? Please?” I said just wanting to separate them as quickly as possible. Looking back down at her magazine and calendar she was clearly working on to organize our next month, she responded with a casual-“Sure, Thing. If you boys need anything ask me, okay?” 20 minutes later from us walking up my house, we were in my room and I asked Salem, awkwardly, as he was scoping around my things that I had set up on my desk, “So, uhm- why are we here? What do you wana do?” I asked him. ”I don’t know. Who cares.” A typical Salem response is what I got from what I had learned over the past week. ”Cool, what’s in here? Can I see?” He asked as he opened my closet. “Oh. Wow. You weren’t kidding man. These are huge.” He commented on my large suitcases. Yeah. I felt weird. I didn’t respond. “So, what’s in them anyway?” He asked and I, immediately, felt a tremor surge through my body as I felt my eyes widen as I stared into a blank hole of nothing. My work. My... books. My treasure I had been writing so deeply about that has not seen the light of day since I was in Denver, Colorado was about 6 inches away from his hand. I debated whether to even shut the door in his face and tell him, “Nothing.” But, he’d catch up on that lie, immediately, and either take that offensively or beat the living crap out of me for telling him what to do and closing my closet door in his face and pushing him away. “Nerrs..ses-nes...” I muttered. ”What?” I know for a fact he couldn’t hear me. ”Nothing special its just that Book that I was telling you about I was wr-“ I began, but, he instantly interrupted me. “Oh, neat! Can I see? Cool, man. I love reading books. It’s one of the only subjects I’m good at. I just need some writing help and I’m all golden A’s. Well, I mean, except for Math and History. Like, who needs that stuff, anyway? Why do I need to know anything about some-.” He continued as I just nervously wanted so BADLY to just snatch away that suitcase from his hands, but, couldn’t. He’d KILL me. And, his mood was better and I really didn’t want to change that. Please, no. I really did want to stop him, though. There it was. There HE was. He was...he was Holding the thick red and burgundy colored binder I bought at Barnes & Nobel which held Volume one. It was in his hands! I felt my mouth hang open in defeat. Two minutes passed and he looked... almost angry. His eyes were furrowed. As he was reading them and was flipping the pages so violently that I thought he’d rip some. “What the hell?” He said loudly and looked at me. ”What? .... I’m I’m sorry. You don’t have to read that. Listen. It’s it’s stupid. I just-“ I started but he stopped me. ”You wrote this?” He said showing me a few pages. The two that he held were stacked one above the other. One was called “Desire.” Which I remember writing about how badly I wanted things to change back when my dad left but nothing made me happy. I wrote that while staring at our old fireplace that I wanted so badly for it to be lit, giving it a menacing glare in our living room, with a pen in my hand and writing on that exact same piece of paper Salem was holding. I kept wanting new things to fill that void and nothing helped me. That also led me to write “Addiction” to help people realize and learn how to fight their own addictions they do to make themselves feel better. But, they never actually help you. I learned that the hard way, being young. ___________________ Desire What is really interesting about desire, Is this is, truly, a never ending fire. Your desires & passions can go on forever, And, you can, truly, be never satisfied, ever. You could desire one thing & then get another, And, then look at the possessions obtained by your brother. You could want it & get it & be done with it, And, no longer want it after playing for a bit. But if this continues to go on, how can your desires ever be gone? If this eternal hunger will transform, Somehow, always, into a knew form, How can you, like this, ever perform? This is a torture. You can be sure. In this way, you can never allure. This is an itch you cannot scratch. It is something you cannot catch. Like holding water in your hand, it slips through your skin. You cannot hold it, unless it is inside of a tin. Like a storm’s rain drops as they fall, You cannot catch them all, No matter how thirsty you are, Some are near & some are far. This is not your fault. Do not halt. You are not in a vault. They fall where they want to as they continue. If you want all of them, you will be forced to chase & race at your own desire’s pace, Never enjoying the delicious food on your own plate even after you ate going at a fast rate at any date in an anxious state. You will no longer be able to savor each flavor. So, do yourself the favor & meditate on what it is that you truly want. And, only then, will your desires no longer haunt. _____________________ Addiction You think too much. You drink to much. This is why you sink, No matter how many times you try to blink. You cannot see straight. It all looks foggy. No matter the date, You feel groggy. It is all dirty & unclean. This is why you act mean. You are haunted, By all of the things you have wanted. These drugs are like bugs. You cannot stop thinking about them, Like you're in love with what you hate. They suck the life from your fate. It is nothing but a shackle holding you back. It is a giant leech sucking the blood from your back. What is compulsive is repulsive. It is seductive, but, destructive. The addiction causes confliction.. It clouds your depiction, no matter how many times you acquire restriction. The infection causes dissection in your every direction. Each insect will affect & try to infect, Whatever, it is, that you will select. How will this go away? Discover the reason why you do it in the first place. And, only then, will this black flower be removed from your vase. _________________ “Uhm well, yeah I took a few advanced writing and grammar lessons and classes. I like to write using correct and formal-“ I said but he, quickly, looked down and grabbed another. ”This. You wrote this??” He asked, loudly. ———————- Memories Ah memories, how they tell past stories, like little snowflakes trickling down, how they easily turn upside down a frown. They fill you up with warmth and love. Like slipping back on a royal glove. As if re-attending a ballroom party. One to which all attended, and none were tardy. Like a waltz you once learned, reliving it by yourself, like respraying rich perfume, which has been stored on your shelf. Like placing back on jewelry you wore, trinkets & lockets you so adore. As if re-holding a Sword you once used on the field. As if re-locking your arm back in your trusted shield. All to which you would so bravely wield, And made your enemies retreat and yield. Placing the Armor onto your body which once protected you. Passing the ointments and medicines which once disinfected you. Remembering the blood you have spilt from your loyalty. Which has gained you your place as Velvet Royalty. Smelling the air of once eaten & cooked food. Relishing, again, how it all tasted so good. You wear all of these things like a magical Crest, around your neck to remember the best. Keep these things with you, they may help on your Quest. And, forget the Bad ones. Forget the rest... ____________ ”Well, Yeah. I-“ I said ”And, THESE?” He said. I looked at the pages that he held and nearly shoved in my face from his quick movements. Still shocked that this was even happening and was all real; I was dumbfounded at the fact that this boy was actually holding my own work and private thoughts in his own fingers. If it make sense any sense, I felt like he was touching ME as he held them. —————— The Storm The Power of The Storm, was meant to transform. In order for Earth to take on a new form. Although the Storm can be destructive, Its power was born to be reproductive. In order so it can be constructive. But, it must first be controlled. It must first be instructed, In order for its power to be properly conducted. It has the power to nurture mother nature, In order for her to grow more mature. That is its reason, that is its cause, To have each season. It always was. The storm is air & water mixed correctly, In order for it to be done perfectly. This violent force which can be wild, Is also calming, is also mild. It is controlled by one who is only a child, In order, to ensure that it is properly filed. The lightening is its scowl. The wind is its howl. The thunder is its growl. Feel The Storm now swirl around you, As its winds now twirl around you, As these words now all surround you, As these words now all astound you, As this page which has now found you, Will properly grow &, now, ground you! Its thunder is a wonder. Its lightning is frightening. Its whirlpools are violent. Its twisters are valiant! Its hurricane will rain as it will reign, As it will swirl in order to remove all of the pain, As it will twirl in order to improve all of the terrain, As it will curl and do all of this with its rain. And, as a lion this is its very own mane. It will brighten the day. It will lighten each way. It will clear the path & clear the way. It will remove it all & make it go away, And, make all of the darkness no longer stay. And, to THE FATHER it will always obey. Listen to The Storm & what it is trying to say, That, it wishes, only, to keep the stagnancy at bay, As, it fills by HIS own wills each ocean, river, and bay. And, perhaps, it is doing so, right now, today. And do not be afraid, for one day, It will only play. There once was a sign in a book. Perhaps, you were able to take a look. Perhaps, the symbol of the Rainbow, Is in order to teach you how it will be so, Is in order to show you how it will go. Maybe, on That day, The Storm will no longer be scary. And, maybe, you will see This spiritual fairy… ————- The Warrior These individuals are a unique type of fighter. Their flame of rarity burns even brighter. With hearts of steel this is why they appeal. With minds of iron, as the Mane of a Lion. They do not require a shield and sword, for what lies in their spirit, is what is to be adored. They fight that to which they even despise, And will bring it all down to its demise. They slay their enemies which are larger in size, While glaring directly into their eyes. Their courage ranges to that of the skies. They never give up despite all of their tries. Nothing ever can cause them to fright, For they are always accustomed to fight. With their mighty hands, they fight darkness with light. This brings them their power. This brings them their might. With skin of stone, power lining every bone, this is what all can see to be shown. Always bringing something new to the field. For their abilities in them are permanently sealed. They fight when even at their lowest point. Their strength they always will manage to conjoint. The blood which flows through their mighty veins, This is what shields them of all of their pains. All of their onslaughts which bring them their victories. Which are transformed into their own little stories. They transform their weakness into their strength. They will do this all to whatever length.. With the crown of Nobility, With the shield of Stability, With the armor of Agility, With the sword of Ability. This is what aids them fulfill their responsibility. This is what keeps them always in humility. This is what brings them their earned Tranquility, This is why they were born. This is their Destiny. ——————- The Medallion This Medal made of metal, Bronze, silver, or gold, Who's material is irrelevant is so bold. It is a representation of yourself. It is a representation of you. It is a presentation of all you have gone through. You never gave up. You chose to continue. You are one who is righteous, gold, bold, & true. Because you are noble, You are now made global. They acknowledge your knowledge. They acknowledge your courage. You are acknowledged with a bow. You did not know, then, But, you knew somehow. You do now. Only those who are righteous, will be allowed to wear, This beautiful necklace around their neck & bare its representation & meaning, which, none shall compare. It is a crown but on your chest. It is your own crest, To prove you have faced your own quest. You have conquered your conquest, And, have passed every test. You have destroyed what you detest, And, are one of the best. ————————- Karma What goes around, will come around, What goes up, will come down. Who makes others miserable, now, too, will frown. Make them fail in their swimming, and you too shall drown. What you speak, to you will be spoken. What you break, of yours will be broken. What you take, of yours, will be taken. What you shake, of yours, will be shaken This is truth. Be not mistaken. Every lie you tell is a lie you will be told, Every gift you give is a gift you will unfold. What you feed to others, you too shall eat. If burning others is your fashion, you too will experience heat. What you do, to you will be done. Do not give and you will receive none. Do not think the World does not work in this way. For it has done so since the very first day. This give and take shall never decay. So of all darkness you must keep at bay. All in this world will be served, Exactly what is to be deserved. Remember you will always receive, whether or not it is that you believe, all in this World that you have done. This is as solid as the Moon & the Sun. —————— I sighed. “Yes. I wrote this entire thing, Salem. I want to be a writer when I grow up and-.” ”So, you’re a poet? No way. That’s so cool! This isn’t normal poetry like they make us read in school. This has words I never hear you or anyone else saying in real life. These words go together in ways I never would have thought. Like, how’d you do that? Can you teach me? Please?” He said. I had to be honest with him. “No, I can’t. I- I don’t even really know how I do it either. I just sit down, take a pen or my phone, type or write, and just write them in about 3 minutes and-.” ”You don’t edit these?! These are like first drafts? Bro, you’re like one of those “special” kids they show on YouTube and everything. These are awesome. Can I read some more, please? I want to read them. Please? I’ll be careful. I swear on my life.” He said all happy. Honestly, it may be wrong of me to say. I don’t really like to stereotype people or anything. But, I really never would have pegged Salem to even be into this kind of thing. ”Uhm, sure.” I said softly with a smile. It made me smile knowing that even liked them at all to begin with. “And, thanks. I’m- I’m so glad you like them.” ”I could never write like this, I don’t think. Man, you’re so cool. You know that?” He said with a grin. Awww okay. That was kind of cute. Hehe ”I can only do one talent that I wana do for the talent show but-“ He said but I stopped him. ”You have a talent?” I said giggling to myself. I don’t know why it was kind of funny to me. I imagined Salem having a talent. Hehe. Imagine that? Him? He just seemed like the type who wouldn’t give a crap about any of that stuff. “And, What is that if I may ask, myself?” I continued, playfully. He put the book gently down to not ruin any of its pages on my bed, carefully, which I could’nt help but find slightly amusing to myself, so as not to ruin any of my work, like he was protecting it, somehow. And he looked up at me with a sneaky grin- "I tickle." He said and then fluttered his fingers, rapidly, in a manor that looked like he was tapping them on an invisible something. What the bloody hell was he even talking about? "What?"I asked. I really did not understand. What does he even mean? He's being so random and weird. Tickle? What does he tickle? ...Do I even want to know? He looked up and rolled his eyes as he did like a tongue click sound. "' -'hoe-Yo' bro. I'll rhyme it…okay?- ...I tickle the keys like a breeze with ease and a tease." He did his hand motions again. I thought for a moment. I looked at his hand motions, once more as I contemplated to myself. OHH. Ohh! The piano!!! HAHA!! Omg. Salem plays the piano!? That's so Cuutee! "THE PIANO!?" I said, a bit too loud for my tastes after the words VOMIITED out of my throat. God. I'm so awkward, sometimes. I feel like a nutcracker trying to crack a nut and there’s no NUT there so I just release all my energy too fast, too soon, & too hard for no reason and just make myself look like some spastic moron. You know when you go up or down the stairs and you think there's an extra or a missing step and you walk with enough force to prepare for that step and it isn't how you planned it and you jerk your whole body in that completely unnecessary and weird way, making you look and feel like the most ridiculous person living on Earth for that one moment and you pray to the angels who are watching over you that they didn’t see you until you recompose yourself? Yeah, it's like that with me, sometimes. ANNOYING. He gave me a look that almost said- “Yeah Dummy”. Hehe. He kills me and he said, "DING-A-LING. Congratulations. You got the award of the day, bruh. You’re the class president." He said with a grin and bowed down at me looking up at me mischievously. Pardon my French. I am not French; He was being such a smartass! It was so funny. It’s almost as if I was watching a movie star on an old 50’s rerun show that was deemed as one of the most popular, iconic, and funniest, comedies ever to hit the big screen in its day and he was right in the middle of it as the Star of the show. I pushed him hard and he moved back a bit. I couldn't help it. Oh, no. See. I get this girly weird freaky giggle, sometimes, that happens when I want to laugh but try to muffle it down. So it malfunctions and I just sound like a giggly, weirdo, freak. I did it. I giggled my wiggle giggle, I call it. I couldn't stop. He heard it as well because he stopped laughing for a moment. It was a silent moment that we shared and he stared at me, briefly. I stared at him as well. No words were said. But, honestly, something about Salem just spoke to me in that one paused & frozen moment in time that both of our souls shared with one another that just felt as though we were the only two people in the world that existed. Time froze. Something about his spirit or mind communicated to me for some reason in some way without saying anything. I cannot explain it. It’s like he talked to me without words. Just then, it was as if he said to me- "I got your back." “Wow.” He whispered under his breathe. “What?” I asked. I could tell when he said that, he didn’t really want to speak it out loud. It was more of a private thought that he was having to himself and his body just involuntarily spoke out his thoughts. He gave a grin and looked down and I saw him biting his lip. Obviously, he was feeling quite nervous and shy at that moment and must have been debating whether to speak the words he wished to say or not. He looked back up at me and quietly said in the softest voice that I ever heard him speak in. “You’re so beautiful.” I was shocked. What do I say? He- He’s like hitting on me, right? He’s actually openly flirting with me. I, instantly, squirmed and felt like jelly. I was so embarrassed and felt funny! Oh my god! “Salem. Hehe. Jeeez. Stop.” I smiled. I was so dumbfounded as to what to even say in response. “You are. God. I mean you’re so nice and stuff. And you’re talented. And-“ he kept going but I was so hot and bothered with embarrassment that I, honestly, don’t even know what else he was saying. Honestly, he was being so opened with me. He was... casually showing me he had some feelings and affections for me. And he was a boy! So, I really was curious. Was Salem, like.. Gay? I wanted to know for sure. It really impacted how I saw him for some reason. I wanted to know. I asked him. “Salem ... are you like, you know, …gay?” The moment I said that he changed. His smile vanished. It was gone. The warmth that radiated from him vanished, immediately, and he turned to ice. He reminded me of one thing at that moment- my old & cold, blue Denver, Colorado fireplace. Bad idea. Bad. BAD. His face looked so horrified that I would ever even say that. A few seconds passed and I saw tears flow out of his eyes. WHAT!? He was obviously really hurt by me saying that. Oh, no! I didn’t mean it like that. I’m sorry Salem. Don’t! He was shaking so bad. He looked like he was panicking and he sat on the floor and put his hands over his head and bent down as through their was an earthquake and he was shielding himself from the catastrophic and death provoking debris which was falling from the ceiling and threatened to take his life. I walked up to him. “Salem. Look, I’m sorry. Please don’t be upset. I was just curious. I’m not mad.” “...Go away.” He said softly. And I heard him sniff. I started to cry. He sounded like a little kid who just got beaten up by 6 bullies and was left on the street to rot! I didn’t mean to do that to him! I was trying to calm him down... but he was shaking and breathing really hard. I think he was having a panic attack! A few moments passed and I was in shock not knowing what to do. I, then, heard an extremely unusual and low menacing whisper that I will never forget for the rest of my life from how haunting it sounded. “Pleaseeee.” He said softly. “Pleeeaaaasseeee.” He repeated. He was shaking so much it, actually, scared me. “Please, What? I’ll do anything. What is it?” I said, feeling anxious. I just wanted to help him. I was crying and I didn’t really know why. He looked up as though a part of him was on fire and he was begging me to put it out as tears were literally flowing from his eyes in a stream over those cheeks of his and he looked at me, desperately. “Pleasee.... Killl meeeeee.” He whispered softly as he shook. What?! “Please. ... I don’t want to be alive anymore….” He looked down as if he was looking at a murder scene of his family on the floor in front of him and he had a look of horror and then back up at me. “I’m disgusting.” He said. “Pleaseeeee.” He wants to die! Oh my God! This is horrible! It broke my heart. I saw my vision become blurry as the tears literally flooded right out of me and I, instantly, hugged him so tight. “No!” I said crying too. “Salem don’t die. You can’t! You’re family loves you. We all love you! We all care about you! You can’t do that. It’s okay. It doesn’t matter if you-“ He looked up at me. He looked so miserable. Nothing. Nothing was said at all for 14 seconds. Believe me I counted. He, finally, looked at me with those bright green eyes of his and slowly said… “You’re sooo pretty.” He, then, all of the sudden took his hand and touched my hair with a blank look as he just looked at my hair. “You have such nice hair. I- I-I love it.” He said in a broken low voice. I just was, just, enjoying the fact that he was not crying so much and I sniffed my own mucus from my own nose and said in a manor tying to relax him. “Oh, yeah. Uhm, uhm-Thanks. Yours is nice, too. I like your haircut you-“ His look got worse. He looked sad, mad, hurt, shocked, triggered, and depressed all at once and it was a look that to this day I cannot describe it or put into words from how horrible it was. And, he said nothing AT ALL. He gritted his teeth and tears fell out once more and said to me in a low growl.” Nooo. No NOO. It’s – it’s UGLY.” He said all panicky. “I haaaaateee IT. I Haaaate THEM. I HATE IT. IM SO- UGLY!!!” He shrieked in anger and sadness. “They— They- .” He started to cry. “What’s going on?!” I thought. “Theyyy ruined mmeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.” He said in that snake voice, using it even more sharply then I ever heard him use it before as he clamped his teeth soooo hard that it looked as though he might shatter them and it, honestly, scared me as I was worried he would hurt his own mouth or teeth from it. It scared me. “Who? Who’s they?” I said. Who’s they? Who’s hurting him?! What’s going on here?! I thought, putting my hand on his shoulder. I don’t know why, but, I felt the need to hold him, somehow, as though he would fall inside of a hole and I’d never see him again if I didn’t. I didn’t want him to fall! I wanted him to stay safe, right here with me! I – I cared about him! I needed him to stay safe with me! I don’t know why. But, I needed him with me and to know that he was safe! He cried so hard and said nothing. Then, he started to, actually, pull on his own sporty locks of hair! But they were too short so they slipped from his fingers. He was so sad. He was hurting himself! “Stop! Don’t do that! Don’t hurt yourself.” I said worried and scared. He looked up at me with a broken hearted look and a wet face and whispered “They they put me in that room and CUT it. They- they cut all of my hair. It was long like yours…. But they cut it so I wouldn’t… do the thing… they didn’t want me to PULL IT anymore. They-” he tried as he started to speak in broken up breathes as he remembered whatever horrible and traumatic events he was remembering at that moment. “They shaved it all off.” He said so sadly. I was a mess. I had never cried like this before in my 14 years of life. “I used to be pretty, too. But, not anymore. Now I look like This and IM SO Ugly and stupid now…UGHH I HATE IT I HAAAAATEEE THHEEEMMM! You must hate me!!!!” He said all mad and started to scratch his own flesh of his arms as he held himself while rocking his body back and fourth. He did it so hard, that I saw his nails dig into them and leave thick pink and white gashes on them. I grabbed his wrists. “STOP!!!” I said, concerned, worried, and mad all at once. He looked at me with wide specs like when he grabbed MINE last time. But, then, it died off and his eyes drifted into a half opened daze as he looked at me. He was so hurt. He looked like an absolute mess. His cheeks had wet tears all over them, his eyes were dimly lit and red. And, yet... at that moment… I thought he looked… amazing. He was so small and broken and yet .. I thought he was beautiful. I wanted him like that! Is that disgusting? Am I gross? I- I wanted him, somehow, and I noticed I looked at his lips as he sniffed as I firmly gripped his wrists to make sure he would stop hurting himself. I didn’t want that. Fast. It happened so fast. I closed my eyes, awkwardly, and just -leaned in. I kissed someone. This time I started it. And, it was with the boy that I was holding to stop him from hurting himself any further. His lips were so salty from tears. But I really didn’t care. They were soft, plump, and .... just... perfect. ”Oh, god.” He muttered as I continued to kiss him and make him feel better. I wanted him. I wanted him so badly I just wanted to to- be on top of him! I got on him and pressed my body on his and moaned in pleasure from, finally, knowing and realizing what it is I had been wanting since the day that I met him! I understood what I wanted. I wanted him! I pushed him back, slowly, and I was on top of him on my own bedroom floor. This is crazy! What the hell has gotten into me!? And, I didn’t even care! Ipulled away and he was breathless, obviously shocked that I had just revealed to him my secret feelings I had been holding, secretly, that I had for him since the very first day he spilled sauce on me and awkwardly tried to clean it off of my Light blue Sweater. I leaned down and kissed his neck. I don’t know why. I just did. All of the sudden he started to peel my sweater off. I had no shirt on. I had no idea what I was doing or what was happening. All I know is I felt warm. And the warmth was coming from him. This was the most intimate, crazed, spontaneous, taboo, and unusual thing I had ever done before in my life. And, I don’t think even he cared. And, I didn’t either. For the first time I felt warm again. My fireplace was lit and he was the fire. And, I certainly, was not expecting the things that I was about to do to him within the next 20 minutes. Nothing would have prepared me for it. And, if you told me yesterday it would have happened I would have, instantly, laughed and thought you were insane and called you out on it. The last time we were in one of our rooms, today, He was scared and confused and so was I. We both were. But, this time, He was hot & bothered and so was I. We both were.
  15. Mac Rountree

    Truth Revealed

    Wednesday night dinner was fairly quiet in the dining hall. Many of the boys had their families arriving with picnic suppers. My gut was in turmoil. I knew that the evening program was a test but I didn’t know the parameters and what was actually being tested. Mr. Fish told me that I was in charge of the entire program and that he would be sitting with the Executive Board for the Council. When I asked him the reasoning, he became uncomfortable and said I would find out later but to do him proud. I asked about the Order of the Arrow ceremony. He said I was in charge of that also. “You and Mason know what to do. You are an impressive pair.” I had not told Mason about this change in plans. Also, there was the package from Paris. Tonight was not the time to open the package and explain what I had done. Something was coming down and I didn’t know if I was prepared. I felt a nudge. It was Mason. The realization hit me that the troops had finished their meals and were waiting for me to dismiss them. I stood up and put on my best smile. “Gentlemen, Scouts and Rogues, I bid your presence at 7 o’clock in the amphitheater. Please be on time, be fully kitted out in your uniforms, and be prepared for an evening of entertainment and the tapping of new members to the Order of the Arrow. You are dismissed until then.” The staff sat looking at me. It was obvious that I was living totally in my head though I was physically present. Mason stood and asked if everyone was ready for the evening activity. Everyone acknowledged that they knew their roles. Mason dismissed the staff asking that Lester stay back. When it was just the three of us, Mason looked at me and asked if we needed Lester’s assistance. I nodded in the affirmative. I swore them to secrecy and said that something was coming down that night but I didn’t know what. It was all intuition. “Guys, my gut is saying that something is happening tonight. I don’t know what it is. I think we need to be prepared for anything. We might be making it up as we do it. We need to support Mr. Fish. Somehow, I think Mr. Higinbotham and Toby are connected.” Lester snorted. “Those two are up to no good. I told you on Monday that my gut was telling me that something wasn’t kosher.” He looked at Mason and then turned red. “I didn’t mean anything bad about what I just said. I am sorry.” Mason laughed and thanked him for apologizing. “If that’s the worst we have to deal with tonight we will be in good shape. Apology accepted. Thanks, Lester. You have been great to me ever since that Sunday afternoon when I couldn’t swim. Jimbo helped me but it was you and the waterfront staff who helped me succeed.” Mason leaned into Lester and was about to give him a hug only Lester acted first and pulled Mason into a bear hug. He then kissed the top of Mason’s head and said he was a special guy. “Okay, guys we need to get ready for tonight.” We walked to the staff camp area. I told Mason that I needed a shower before I prepared for the evening. We grabbed our dop kits and headed to the showers. I turned on the shower and started undressing. Mason came up to me, raised my arm and sniffed my pit. “Oh my gosh, you sure stink. It is a good thing you are taking a shower. Your pits smell like a skunk has taken up residence.” We both laughed. I think it was the first time I had laughed all day. Mason kept cracking jokes about my stinky pits, my stinky feet, and my stinky butt. I grabbed a towel and made a rat tail. I chased him back to the camp site with both of us yelling and screaming. We reached the tent and grabbed each other for support. The rest of the staff stood staring at us. “All is good. All is good. I made Jimbo wash his stinky pits so we don’t have to suffer that putrid fragrance all night.” The tension was broken and everyone laughed. We went into our tent and started our ritual of dressing. The package from France was laying on my bunk. It was as if it had taken on a personality. I asked Mason if we could open it later when I was in the right frame of mind. He paused and then agreed. “It is your package and you get to open it when you are ready.” We completed our ritual and stepped into the camp site. All of the staff were ready and waiting. I could tell that they suspected something was up. We stood in a circle and they waited for me to start. “Alright guys, I think something is up. I don’t know what. Mr. Fish is not leading the program tonight. He will be sitting with the Executive Board of the Council. Lester will be the wingman for Mason and me tonight. If something comes down and you are needed then Lester will let you know. Lester had put on his loin cloth for the evening. This, in and of itself, was unusual. He always wore it on Fridays but not on Wednesdays. His black hair and blue eyes were startling with his cheeks sporting chevrons of yellow paint. His loin cloth was a dark green and centered with the Triquetra symbol surrounded by shamrocks. The knot symbolized eternal spiritual life. Though he appeared to be an extrovert on the waterfront I knew Lester to be an introvert who relished in his inner reflective self. His Irish heritage came through with his loin cloth. He didn’t look Native American with his chest of shaggy black hair. The pelt crossed his shoulders and went down his back. Once, I had suggested he shave it off for Order of the Arrow activities and he gave me some slack answer about why he wouldn’t shave it. I thought he just enjoyed showing off his body. I would. He was a handsome man and his summer sun tan made people swoon. In his quiet voice, Lester gave instructions to staff. He directed different staff to sit with each troop. He said they were to stay with the troop during the program and to accompany them back to their campsites. He was clear that they were to stay with the troops until he came to get them to return to the staff area. He doubled down to make sure they understood. There would be hell to pay if they left their posts. The tension heightened as Lester finished but everyone was absolutely clear about what was expected of them. We headed into the unknown. The amphitheater was packed with scouts and their parents. I looked up at the benches and saw staff scattered with the troops as Lester had dictated. Lester had posted himself at the bottom of the stairways so no one could leave without going past him. Mr. Fish was sitting in the middle of the Executive Board. He looked very uncomfortable. I channeled Degataga and looked at Che Sequah. It was important that we be these Native American personae tonight. I stood together with my red bird. I remembered what I had told Mason about the Whitman phrase: standing together we were invincible. I stood in front of the bon fire with my head bowed to the ground. I then lifted my head and spoke through Degataga welcoming everyone to the program. I used a lesser amount of humor than Mr. Fish because I was Degataga and not Jimbo. I used lots of references to nature and our natural life. I incorporated the Scout motto and used that as the spring board for everything I did. Che Sequah led the tapping ceremony where inductees were brought forward. I was prepared to step in and assist but looked and found Lester taking on what had been Mason’s role. He knew exactly what to do. He even gave them instructions for after the program. The program ended on a solemn note with the inductees being led away by Lester. I thanked everyone for attending and for trusting their sons to us for the week. I reminded them of the importance of the scouting program and their support of the summer camp program. I left the arena and stepped into the dark. Mason was right behind me. I was quiet as a thief as I watched staff accompany each troop back to their campsite. They were doing exactly as Lester had instructed. There was only one complication. Mr. Higinbotham and Toby were telling staff they had a meeting with the Executive Board. The staff told them that they were instructed to take everyone back to their camp sites and there were no exceptions. I intervened and said that I would take responsibility for Mr. Higinbotham and Toby. I saw Toby smirk. The insolent brat. Lester was right. Mason and I walked them to the camp office. We walked in and saw the Executive Board and Mr. Fish already there. Mr. Higinbotham looked like the cat that had just eaten the cream. He was self-satisfied. The Chairman of the Board thanked me for bringing them and said that Mason and I were excused from being in the meeting. I looked around the room and once again channeled Degataga. “Thank you sir, but as acting Camp Director for the week and a Vigil member of the Order, I believe it is important that Che Sequah and I stay.” There was consternation among the board members. Finally, the chairman agreed since it would impact my role at the camp for the rest of the season. We were all sworn to maintain confidence in what was said and done. He looked around the room and said, “It has come to my attention that there may be some inappropriate sexual activity happening at camp. We are here tonight to see if we can resolve this is a quiet, amenable manner.” My heart felt like it stopped. Toby was grinning. I realized that Mr. Fish had been set up. I looked at Mason. There was silence in the room. “Excuse me, sir.” Mason said those word and then started crying. What was happening? Why was Mason crying? Everybody in the room stared at him. “Yes, young man. What do you have to say?” “My name is Che Sequah. I am also known as Mason Jenner. I am a member of Troop 10. Mr. Higinbotham is my Scout Master. Toby is in my troop.” “Yes, thank you for sharing that. I don’t see how that figures into what we are doing.” “Well, you see. You were talking about inappropriate sexual things happening. I assumed you were talking about me.” Mason had big fat tears rolling down his cheeks and his voice was quivering. “I just need to say that Toby made me have sex with him. I knew that we shouldn’t do those things on camping trips but you see he told me that if I didn’t do those things he would tell Mr. Higinbotham and also tell my parents. He said he would report me to the police if I didn’t do what he said. He is older than me and I was afraid I would be arrested at the scout meeting and I didn’t want that to happen so I let him do those things to me.” Mason stood there with tears running down his face. “I know it was probably wrong but I felt like Toby had power over me and I didn’t want to get into trouble. He was the leader of the pack I was in and he always said that whatever he demanded of us we were to do. I am sorry that I have caused this problem. I guess I should have told you earlier. But we didn’t do anything here at Camp Falls. I told him that I wouldn’t do it and he got really mad with me.” Everyone, I mean everyone, stood there with their mouths hanging open. Except for Toby. He was really angry. “You fucking faggot. I am going to get you for this.” Toby was outraged. “You weren’t that good, anyway.” Toby stormed out of the office…..into the arms of Lester. Toby could not get past the waterfront director. “I think you need to pack your bags.” Lester then led Toby to his campsite to get his trunk. The members of the Executive Committee looked confused. “Gentlemen, I think we have been led down the wrong path by that young man. Mason, on behalf of the Executive Council, I offer our sincere apologies for what happened to you. Our attorney will want to talk with you. Are you willing to do that?” Before Mason could speak, I said that his parents were out of the country and that I was his guardian and would let them know whether Mason would speak to the attorney. Technically, that wasn’t quite true but it served our purpose at that moment. I did have the envelope even though I didn’t know what was in it. I suggested it had been a long day and these gentlemen needed to drive back to the city and that one of them needed to take Toby home. They argued among themselves over who would have that responsibility. It was finally agreed that the Chairman would have that task. He called Toby’s parents to alert them of his impending return. Everyone departed, mumbling, confused and angry about what they had just heard. Mason and I were alone with Mr. Fish and Mr. Higinbotham. I suggested we sit. “As Acting Camp Director, I want an explanation. Mr. Fish you go first.” He objected. I stood and looked at him. “I didn’t ask. I said that I want to know what is happening. Mason just laid his life on the line for you. You owe him an explanation. Start talking.” I saw a broken man sitting in the chair. He had tears in his eyes. He then looked at Mr. Higinbotham and said, “I love you Ed, but we need to tell them what is going on.” Mr. Fish then proceeded to tell us how he and Ed were lovers. Toby had found out about it and had blackmailed them. Toby had told the Executive Board that he thought that Mr. Fish was gay and seducing boys. It turned out that Mr. Fish had provided a week of summer camp to Toby without charge. Toby had convinced Mr. Higinbotham to have sex and was using that as blackmail. “We have a huge problem and we need to get our stories straight. Do not think that Toby is going to accept this without a fight. He was caught by surprise tonight. I am also concerned that you, Mr. Higinbotham, do not come across as an innocent in all of this. So, Mr. Higinbotham, tell us what is going on. Did you really have it set up that you were to be Camp Director with Toby as your assistant? What does he have on you?” Mr. Fish’s eye flew open and his mouth was agape. Mr. Higinbotham hesitated. Che Sequah stood, walked across the room, and lifted his chin. “Degataga has given you an order. You will obey or I will start the process to have you removed from the Order of the Arrow. I will testify against you after what I saw what happen the other night.” All of the color drained from Mr. Higinbotham’s face. “Yes, I saw you and Toby in the apartment with Mr. Fish. He was not a willing participant. That is called assault and rape. It is a shame that you and Toby won’t be able to share cells because he will be in juvenile detention and you will be in adult jail after I finish with you. You saw me tonight – I will make any jury believe me. How could you do that to the man who is your partner? Now talk.” It was hard for him, but Mr. Higinbotham talked about succumbing to Toby and how Toby then used that against him. He said that he and Mr. Fish had been lovers for five years. While Mr. Higinbotham told his story, I could see that Mr. Fish slumped in his chair. He sat mutely with tears running down his face. “Gentlemen, Mason and I have had enough for one day. Mr. Fish you are back in charge starting at breakfast tomorrow morning. Mr. Higinbotham, you have a troop to manage for the rest of the week. They are not up to standard and you have two days to pull them together. My guess is that Toby was keeping you busy with sex while he working behind your back. He is a master manipulator. Also, the two of you have talking to do about yourselves. Mason and I will meet with you after the Friday ceremony. We have to decide certain things and that will give us time to find solid ground after what has been revealed tonight. Also, you should thank Mason because, gentlemen, he saved your asses tonight. I have to decide whether I have any respect for either of you. Mr. Fish I will let you know at breakfast whether Mason and I will stay past noon on Saturday” I turned and took Mason’s hand. We stepped out of the office and Lester was standing there. It was unclear what he had heard. It didn’t matter at that point. He maneuvered between us and put his arms across our shoulders. “You are bravest men I have ever met.” He pulled us in close so that our heads were together. “You have my permission to take the morning off.” He laughed knowing he didn’t have that authority but it was an idea that had a lot of appeal. When we got back to the campsite all of the staff were waiting for us. Mason and I could barely stand because of the drama that had just happened. Lester said that he was concerned about dismantling the camp starting on Saturday. “Jimbo designed a plan for dismantling the camp. I think we throw it in the trash. I had not planned to stay because I had other things to do before heading to school. I have changed my mind. If everyone agrees to stay and will work together we can finish by midday on Monday. Who is with us?” To the person everyone agreed that they would stay and help. They started joking that they could actually finish Sunday night. I could barely control my emotions that they were stepping up for me even though they didn’t know the particulars. Mason and I stepped into the tent and closed the flap. The package was lying on the bed. I tried to find language to let Mason know I didn’t have the energy to open it. Before I could speak he said, “We are both exhausted and need rest. Whatever it is can wait.” We didn’t take the time to remove the paint from our faces. It was the next morning in the shower that we discovered we both had smeared the red paint all of either other’s faces and in our hair. No amount of cold cream could get all of the color out. We walked into breakfast and sat at our place. Mr. Fish was present and in charge. His usual humor was missing but he was present and accounted for. After breakfast, I went up to Mr. Fish and said that Mason and I were honorable men and would stay and do our part to dismantle the camp. I then told him the time frame had been compressed and that all of the staff were staying to complete the work. He started to speak when I held up my hand in a stop fashion. I then said that Mason and I were taking the morning off and we would be back on duty at noon. I turned and walked out of the dining hall. I found Mason talking to Lester. I smiled and told Mason to put on his orange speedos and then turned to Lester and said we were taking a canoe for the morning. I was in the stern position as we paddled away from camp. About a half mile from camp was an island in the lake. The camp had bought it for the Order of the Arrow chapter. We had been so busy we had not gone over. We would use it for our fall conclave. There was a simple hut on the island and I headed us in that direction. I opened a locked chest in the hut where blankets were stored. They were musty but I didn’t care. We made a pallet on the ground and lowered ourselves. We held each other in a death grip. I kissed Mason’s eyelids. My tongue snaked down his cheeks and found his mouth. Our teeth clattered against each other as the pent up energy forced each of us on the other. I leaned down and bit Mason’s right nipple. He yelped. I placed the palms on his shoulders and held him down. I then leaned down and bit his left nipple. He let out a cry. He had tears running down his cheeks. I wrapped him in my arms and flipped us so that I was on my back. I lay there waiting for him to attack me. He stretched his body the length of mine. In a quivering voice I said, “hurt me, you have a right. I didn’t protect you enough so do whatever you want to do. Hit me, slap me, Mason I am so sorry.” I was a mere shell of myself and deserved whatever punishment he meted out. He gently kissed my lips. “I love you. We are warriors together. When one of us hurts the other hurts. When one of us loves the other loves. We are one, Jimbo. I could never hurt you because we are one. Hurting you hurts me. Hurting myself hurts you. I may come across as this young kid, but when we are in danger, I become a fury. I will take on anyone and anything to defend us. There are people who wish us ill because we love one another so let us only love each other with all that is in us.” I lay on the pallet unable to move. There was a great crushing weight on my chest. It wasn’t Mason lying on me but rather my heart breaking into tiny pieces at his selflessness. How had I been so lucky to find this boy to be part of my life? We lay there not moving. Finally, I felt my being knitting itself back together; no not knitting but rather forming an amalgamation of the two of us in my heart, mind and soul. The tension of the week and the great danger for both Mason and I had led me to examine my weaknesses and I found myself wanting in many areas. When he stepped forward last night, I was amazed at his audacity but also sheer strength in confronting wrong. His fury. I knew that I had an equal as a partner. He was younger but wilier and more strategic than me. We would make a good pair. I knew the moment had come. I pulled out the contents from the package. Inside were two rings. They were 18 kt. rose gold and consisted of strips woven in a way that resembled ocean waves. They were actually made in Nags Head but Judy Jenner wanted to take them to Paris to be blessed. I had told her about the rings and in the midst of preparing for her trip to Paris she had driven to Nags Head to purchase them, took them to Paris, had them blessed by the chief Rabbi and sent them back by courier. She had worked wonders making that happen. Mason and I had committed ourselves to each other but this was one more outward symbol of our love for each other. It was important to Judy that they be blessed. They also were a symbol of the blessing from Judy and Herbert. Instead of fitting our ring fingers they were made to fit on our middle fingers. She told me the French would wear them that way. We exchanged rings and sat in contentment. We had been through so much for the past few days that the excitement was muted by our exhaustion. We paddled back to camp, got dressed for lunch and entered the dining hall with the rest of the staff. At first, neither of us noticed that the staff kept glancing at our hands. When I realized that they were staring, I blushed and grinned at them. Lester looked at us and said he wanted to be best man at the wedding. The staff whooped in agreement. We were both blushing by that time. We said nothing. The Friday night ceremony was carried out as Mason and I had planned except that Lester said he wanted to participate. He told us that as best man in our upcoming wedding and fellow gay man he felt that we were like the Three Musketeers. I just grinned at how he outed himself to us. Mason gave him a big hug and thanked him for telling us. “Thank you for showing me how to be open in an honorable way. You are the first guys I have told so there is no need to spread the news. My boyfriend and I are both going to college together in a couple of weeks. We are trying to learn to be open. You have given me the courage to do that.” Mason and I stopped at the office to meet with Mr. Fish and Mr. Higinbotham. I knew what had to be said and had discussed it with Mason. It was basic: this was now no longer of concern to either of us. They had to sort through the detritus and figure out if they could salvage their relationship. Mason would stick to the story he told on Wednesday night. We assured them that what happened was bound by confidence and we would abide by that rule. We wished them well and said the case was closed. After the closing ceremony on Saturday, Lester called the staff together and said it was no time like the present to start dismantling camp. He told the staff we would finish the day with a cook-out and swim fest on the waterfront. We all put on our grubbiest clothes and started by taking down the tents in each of the campsites. The staff worked like a well oiled machine. They were an impressive bunch of guys. We heard the bell ring at the parade grounds. We all arrived and Lester said we were heading to the waterfront and that swimsuits were not allowed. He had told Mr. Fish we were giving the dining hall cooks the night off. We raced to the lake and became rudie nudies. The tension of the week evaporated as we dunked each other, dived off the pier, and played water volleyball. We grilled burgers and dogs for dinner. After securing the area we headed to our tents. Everyone was exhausted. Lester was right that we finished our work late on Sunday afternoon. The only problem was that everyone had told their parents to pick them up on Monday. “What kind of wimps are you? I think you had an easy life this summer. We are scouts, so we are camping out.” Lester was laughing and taunting us. We built a bonfire, spread out our sleeping bags and fell asleep. Mason and I had joined our bags together and cuddled. We kissed each other. I thought we were pretty quiet as we whispered words of love to each other. All of a sudden, we heard the guys making kissing sounds. Then they started making sex noises and calling each other darling and honey bun. Finally, someone started laughing and before we fell asleep everyone had a good chuckle. When I awoke in the morning, my arms were wrapped around Mason. Looking up I saw Lester smiling at me. “Good on you, Jimbo. I am going to miss you guys so much.” We stowed our gear in the dining hall while we were waiting for rides. We would be back in a few weeks for the fall Order of the Arrow conclave so we didn’t have to close down the dining hall or the office. It was hard to believe that summer camp was over and that I had met Mason. What a remarkable, life changing summer it had been. My mother arrived after lunch. She said my dad was working and couldn’t take the afternoon off. We put our belongings in the trunk of her car and got in the back seat. She gave me an odd look. I sat behind her and Mason sat on the other side. We held hands. I could see her look at us through the rearview mirror. She was not happy. In less than an hour we were at the farm. We started unpacking and my mother told Mason which room to use while he was staying with us. Reality smacked me beside the head. We were back in civilization and our life was about to take a new turn. Late afternoon, my father arrived at the house. He had been in the fields all day and took a shower. We sat on the porch until it was dinner time. He gave a start when he saw the rings on our hands. Nothing was said. We ate dinner and my father barely uttered a sound. Mason offered to help my mother clean the kitchen. My mother was starting to tell him that he was guest when my father said that was a good idea since he needed to talk with me. We walked onto the front porch and sat. “What is that ring on your finger?” I swallowed hard and prepared my thoughts. We had lived in a bubble and were now back to reality. “Well, dad, Mason and I gave these to each other. We are extremely fond of each other. They are like friendship rings.” I was skirting the truth. Why hadn’t I prepared myself for this conversation. Why had I thought that we would get through the next couple of weeks without anyone noticing? “Why are you wearing that ring on your middle finger?” “Well, Ms. Jenner said that is the way the French would wear them?” “Are you French now?” “No sir, I am still a Virginian. It is just the way these rings are worn?” “What is so special about those rings? I want you to take it off while you are here. Tell that catamite he is to take his off also. You tricked me. I didn’t know that I was going to have to house a Jewish boy. After you got us to say he could stay here is when we found out what kind of person was staying here.” “Dad, that wasn’t….” “You knew what you were doing, boy. You lied to us. We don’t associate with those kind of people out here. Now, take off that faggot ring.” His voice was louder and his face was red. “No sir, I can’t do that.” “Are you a faggot? Are you telling me that my son is a faggot?” “Sir, Mason and I love each other.” “I will not hear that. You are a man not a fairy. Just look at you with all of those muscles. You ain’t no faggot. That boy has seduced you. I will do the Christian thing and let him stay here until his parents return. Then you can get your sense back. I didn’t raise no queer boy. You got it? I didn’t raise no queer boy.” At that point, he stood up, walked in the house and slammed the screen door. I was stunned but should not have been surprised. This man was the same person I had known all of these years. We had never had a conversation about gay people but we listened to many sermons at church where the preacher castigated gays. My father was a firm believer in whatever the preach said. Mason slipped onto the porch and sat in the rocking chair next to mine. He gave me a questioning look. I shook my head to indicate that we shouldn’t talk. He sat in companionable silence. When I started to relax my mother came to the screen door and told us it was time to go to bed. She reminded Mason where his room was and said that I was to sleep in my own bed. We walked to the top of the stairs and I saw my mother standing at the bottom watching us. I told Mason good night and went into my room. I left the door open. Mason left his open also. My mother came up the stairs and closed both bedroom doors. The next morning, we shared the bathroom as we got ready to work. We had a good morning kiss in the bathroom. We sat at the table and my father read a passage from Leviticus as our morning grace. He said nothing else while we ate our breakfast. Once we finished eating, he told Mason that he would work with one of the day laborers. I was to work with my father. It was grueling work. The heat, humidity and hate filled language from my father was as much as I could take. I had less than two weeks before I left for college and decided that I could stand anything for that time. My mother rang the dinner bell in the back yard to let us know that lunch was ready. Pork chops. She had cooked pork chops for us to eat. Mason looked at me and offered me his chop. I thanked him. My father spoke up and told Mason that he should eat the food my mother had cooked. Mason thanked my mother for her cooking but did not eat the pork chop. He left it on his plate. We finished. “When Jimbo was growing up we had a rule in this house: if he didn’t eat everything on his plate then he didn’t get dessert. We still have that rule in this house.” My mother put slices of pie in front of my father and me. She didn’t offer pie to Mason. I refused to eat the pie. That was difficult as my mother was an excellent cook. She had always laughed at my ability to practically inhale her pies. At the end of the work day we returned to the house. My father said he had something important to talk to me about while Mason showered. I could then go upstairs to shower. We always had a cold supper and mother had made bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. Mason took the bacon off of his sandwich and made a lettuce and tomato salad. I didn’t dare get any dressing from the refrigerator. This wasn’t summer camp. There were also potato salad and sliced cantaloupe to eat. Again, he wasn’t given any dessert. I refused mine. My dad reckoned since I didn’t want mine he would eat it. After dinner, Mason and I went and sat under the oak tree in the back yard until bed time. This became our daily routine. We talked quietly while sitting under the tree. This was our only time to be alone. He took his volume of Cavafy poems and we read them to each other. That is until my father asked what we were reading. I told him. He told me to give him the book. I answered that it was Mason’s. He then stormed back into the house. The next day while we were in the fields, the book disappeared. My parents would sit on the back porch trying to hear our conversation while we sat under the tree after dinner. We talked in soft voices so my parents could not hear. If we got too close my father would come off the porch and make some comment about looking at the stars. He would stand there until Mason `and I moved apart. He would then look at me and go back on the porch. Each day became longer and longer as my yearning for Mason grew. I needed to touch him. I needed to make love to him. I needed to protect him from my parents but I didn’t know how. We both knew that Mason’s parents were due back in a few days and that we could survive the short term to be able to have the long term together.
  16. mikedup

    Lon Chapter 5

    Excellent chapter, more intriguing than before
  17. 4 February 2016 Dear C, Today is International Cancer Day. Never paid much attention to it, but now I do. Once you or your loved ones have been touched by this fucking disease, your life is never the same. Words cannot express how happy I am knowing that you are cancer free now. And I ask whoever is out there to keep you healthy. I am sure you will stay like that till you are very, very old with grey hair and your loved one by your side. I still remember that day (2nd of June 2015) when you called me and said you were diagnosed with cancer. I screamed. That was all I was able to do. Our flatmate Flam rushed into our room to check what happened. I broke. But I had no time to be broken. I had to take action. I needed to be there for you all the way. I put my court case aside to the far back of my mind and focused on you and your recovery. Once, after leaving your hospital with Kasia I told her that if I only could I would transfer that cancer from your body to mine. I thought she would yell at me for saying this, but she looked at me and said that it was very brave of me to say so. She also said she would never be able to do so for anybody. Anyway, it is over now. You are cancer free. No more "gruba dupa"! In the gym this morning they were showing some statistics about cancer on Sky News and apparently 1 in 2 people will end up with cancer and just a few years ago it was 1 in 3. On a positive note though, there are 10% increase chances of people overcoming cancer. Yes! As for myself, I think I am getting stronger every day now. There is still a big hole in my heart and I have been missing you greatly, but I guess I am slowly getting used to the fact that what we had is gone now. Maybe next life we will end up together? Or maybe not. Forever yours, Sebastian
  18. Luno Thankfully, I do not have to search very far for Tobias. He is standing just across the frozen lake. Since he is alone, I can only assume the other Demons have retreated back into their portals. To my surprise, Enfi is perched on his shoulder. She is rubbing her face along the places his horns and hair meet together. He looks particularly annoyed by her affection at the moment. It makes me laugh to myself when I see that. Tobias said that the horns were made from splitting the Angel halos in half. Did that ever hurt him? I hope not. The whole process of going from an Angel to a Demon sounds like it could hurt. “Let me guess, they were useful for once?” He asks, shaking his shoulder to get Enfi to fly off. She does not move away at all. I give a small shrug. “Kind of? They added more questions to be honest. Their final memories have been wiped away. All they remember was living their normal lives and then boom...it all turns black.” He frowns and stares at the village across the lake. “So they die and stay stuck in the Middleplains,” He says slowly, most likely to himself. “That only makes things more frustrating to figure out.” He sighs and pulls out his favorite map once again. “We are headed for the next place already?” I ask. Tobias does not answer, he just nods to himself and turns to move towards whatever black dot could be next in line. Groaning out loud, I grab my bag off my shoulder and pull the winter clothes out. Is it weird I actually started missing them? The cold air is starting to get to me for once. I am not entirely sure how I feel about that. There is a small hut that sits in the middle of the open. With a quick knock to see if anyone is inside, I open the door. There is nothing in here? Well that is not entirely true. There is a small chest inside. Letting my curiosity get the better of me, I decide to check what could be inside. Inside the little chest sits three items. A doll of a girl with armor, an old owl skull, and a drawing of the doll. The drawing is a bit more grown up in my opinion. Is shows an older lady with flowing dark red hair coming from her helmet. Her armor is silver and menacing looking. She stands on a rock with her sword piercing it. A snow owl is perched on her shoulder. Flipping the paper over, I see a name has been written in the corner. It is a bit faded out but I can read it just fine. Violette Bancroft Is that the name of the artist or is that the name of the armored lady? Either way, I have no idea who this is. She seems interesting. I am not sure if she is alive or not however. For all I know, she could sitting in a pile of bodies like many others. Well not sitting...you know what, this is a bit dark and depressing to think about. Putting all the contents back into the chest, I close it and start putting my winter clothes back on. This time it does not feel so stuffy. Something tells me this little hut was made for a child in the village. A little place to hide their things. They must be a fan of whoever Violette Bancroft is. My only question about her is if she is someone from the past, or was that poster something from the present? Perhaps Tobias could answer this for me! I just hope he did not get too far from me. He tends to keep walking since he knows that Enfi will find him for me. There have only be a few times that I have gotten lost. They were mainly my fault. I saw some furry faces that needed my help. Tobias just moves on without me since he gets tired of that pretty quickly. I can’t help it! Everyone deserves help. Not just the humans. They are not the only living beings in this world. Yes, that would include the Demons. Pushing open the door, I almost run into Tobias. He has an annoyed look on his face. One that is starting to seem like the regular look. “What are you doing in here?” He almost yells. “If you are going to go somewhere else without telling me, then what is the point of us working together? For all I know, an Angel could have swooped down and taken your bitch ass to Morgoren!” My eyes widen at the sudden tone of his voice. If I was not mistaken, I would think he was worried. “I was just changing into my winter clothes!” I say. “I wanted to get back into them because the air here feels like it has gotten colder.” Tobias rolls his eyes and grunts before turning to leave; not before grabbing my arm to pull me with him. Since I am back with him, I might as well ask him about the stuff i found in the chest. “Do you know anyone named Violette Bancroft?” I ask. “There was a chest full of things that were about her. I think one of the village children must look up to her.” He hums in response, not at all sounding like he is paying attention. “She seemed important if someone was willing to make a doll and poster of her, right?” I ask. “That seems about right, right? Have you ever heard of anyone named Violette? I have never heard of anyone like, but you are a Demon who has been out here in the world a lot longer than me, so surely you would know who she is.” As soon as I finish talking, he glances at me with an eyebrow raised and a small smirk. “You done talking?” He chuckles. “If you would have taken a small pause, you would have given me time to answer.” Oh right...that probably would have been the smart thing to do. “Hey, I would like it you did not let those flowers of yours droop because of me,” He says. I guess they were wilting because of my mood? “To answer your question, I have indeed heard of Violette Bancroft. She was a human. A powerful human.” “A powerful human?” I frown. “Powerful how?” He shrugs. “She had a lot of friends. Friends with armies. She managed to bring everyone together to fight against an evil group of humans that were in Morgoren’s favor. She slew countless foes and managed to survive many, many battles.” Tobias smiles to himself. “I would say she was one of the good Humans in this world. She was more open-minded to working with Demons. More than most living in the mountains.” So this woman lives way up here where we are. I do not know any people from here, so it is rather interesting to learn about them now. I guess there are more humans here that are more open to magic then? “Was she a mage?” I ask. Tobias shakes his head. “No. A full warrior with her sword and shield. Apparently she was to be some King’s wife, to only be a source for children and a warm bed. She did not want that at all. She had trained in secret with the King’s guard, one of whom, she had grown to love.” “Is she still alive?” I ask. “I have not heard of great wars like that. Especially with all the humans in the situation we are in at the moment.” “Nah, she is not alive,” He says. “She died over a thousand years ago. That was back when they did not have to worry about whole cities dying in piles. She lived a long life with her husband and children.” I smile. “Well that is sweet. I am glad she found love.” Tobias chuckles and shrugs. “If you are into that sort of thing, I guess.” “What do people in love do?” I ask, a bit curious about it. I know next to nothing. All I have read are stories about how a wife and husband are pretty much in love, but I never understood how. Everyone just says it as if it is a fact. That does not tell me what love is. Tobias looks at me for a moment, most likely thinking things over in his head. “Kiss, fuck, and have children if you can I guess,” He says, his eyes hardening and turning back to keep walking forward. Frowning in confusion, I reach out and grab his arm. “Kiss?” I ask. “I thought...I thought that was what people did for greetings or just for close friends and family.” He chuckles and shakes his head. “There are different types of kisses I guess.” Tilting my head, I walk beside him in silence. Different types of kisses? What could that possibly mean? Viktor gave me kisses on the lips. Does it mean different things with where you place the kiss? Tobias has kissed me on the lips a few times now, but I do not think both of them meant it in the same way. Monie gave me kisses too! They were only on the cheek though. Did that kiss mean something different? I just assumed that kisses were some way of communicating. Sure, I tended to like Viktor’s kisses more than Monie’s, but I did not know they meant something like love! Now I am...conflicted. Have I been doing this wrong? “Tobias?” I say. Tobias looks over at me. “What do our kisses mean?” If I was not mistaken, I swear I could see his skin turning a shade of pink. “N-nothing,” He almost chokes on his words. “Absolutely nothing. Nothing at all! Those were just mistakes. There was no feeling behind them. Just forget about them!” Frowning, I nod along to his words. I guess it would be best to listen? After all, he is telling me to forget about the kisses. I was probably just overthinking it anyways. For all I know, they were spiteful kisses. Tobias has made it clear that I annoy him after all. He said there was no feelings behind them, but I am sure there must have been something there. Honestly, I can’t say that I have ever heard of angry kisses, but maybe Tobias did those? They did not feel angry though. They were actually quite gentle. This is confusing me now. I should distract myself with something else honestly. Maybe I should look on the map for our next place to sleep for the night. ~~~ ~~~ Tobias I think that may have been the worst question he could have asked me. How the hell am I supposed to know what kisses mean? Why can’t he just be like everyone else and understand how the world works? Gods it is so infuriating how stupid he can be. Okay, okay. He never really grew up around normal people. He was busy jumping around with giant wolves with moss on their backs. I cannot entirely blame him. I will just blame the Gatekeeper. Still, he apparently learned nothing from whatever books he has been reading. I find it a miracle that he can read at all to be honest. Now I know why there was no feeling in those previous kisses. He thought they were a normal thing as if they were a handshake between strangers. Guess I cannot be too mad about it now. It would be foolish of me. I am a bit torn about them still though. Who knows, maybe it was just a few moments of weakness for me. Sure I find him irritably attractive and nice, but he is also a huge pain in my ass. Looks like I will let this be my true reminder that I should not get attached. Absolutely no reason to. Especially with some crazy, nature person. Glancing at him, I see he is a bit behind me now and has snow twirling above him. Snow shaped into butterflies fly around for Enfi to chase down. Luno laughs when one particular butterfly ends up exploding above him, splattering snow into his hair. Yes. Crazy indeed. The next village or city we are visiting is only a two hours away. We will have Luno bring them back and then we should find a place to stay. There is a clock on the map that slowly moves, telling me how much time is left before the moon comes out. We have about six or seven hours. We should be fine. There are a bunch of abandoned buildings. Well, I guess they are not entirely abandoned. The humans are simply unable to walk back to said ‘abandoned buildings’. It is never best to think about such things, however. I would say that we are borrowing their homes for a time. It is not like we are doing it for nothing after all. In the end, we are paying the humans back with their lives. “Tobias?” Luno’s voice says behind me. I inwardly cringe at what other frustrating question will come out of his mouth. I sigh, waiting for another unnecessary this time. “What do you want this time?” Luno bounces in front of me, walking backwards as he speaks. “I am only curious about you,” he beams. “Since we are friends, why not learn from each other? I would like to know what made you...well you!” I roll my eyes and glance at the map, doing a once over of all the past places we have gone to. No black dots have reformed. “Please?” He practically sings. “Come on! What have you got to lose?” Huffing in annoyance, I finally look up at the smiling idiot. “I have nothing to share with you,” I say. “Nothing that would be of your interest, that is.” He shrugs and keeps walking in pace in front of me. “With you, I will take whatever you can give me!” Luno grins. I let out a small chuckle at his wording, but I know he has no idea how his words could be taken. That may be one of the few good things about him. He is too naive. Perhaps too much for his own good. This brings me back to my own problems though. I barely remember my past. All I have been told was that I may have died in my home during a war. Nobody tells me anything else. The only one who has hinted anything was Raiyo. One day, Raiyo said he could feel my confusion. I had questions that not many of the others had. For some reason, I had gained enough favor with him to grant me a fragment of a memory. Not just any memory, however. A memory that affected the entirety of my human life. When he said it was a fragment, he really was not even close to joking. All I get every three days are those dreams of being in some room with other children and straw. It confuses the hell out of me. “I am afraid, I can not share because I am not able to,” I say. “I lost all of my-” I trail off when I look over Luno’s shoulder. Grabbing him, I push Luno behind me and pull out my pistol and sword. “What are you doing?” Luno exclaims. Hushing him, I glare at the thick trees to the right of our path. I know I saw someone sneaking around there somewhere. Thanks to Raiyo, I know when my mind is being played with, and I know it isn’t now. “I know you are out there, Human,” I shout. “Come out now unless you wish your soul to burn in Enfierna!” “Tobias!” Luno smacks my back. “Do not scare them like that! They could just be looking for help!” Grunting at his words, I keep my eyes on the woods in front of us. At first, nothing makes a move to come out, but a few moments later, I hear footsteps in the snow. They are coming our way. I tighten my grip on my sword and pistol, ready for whatever danger could be headed our way. A hooded man slowly comes out from behind a tree. His hands are held up in the air in surrender. He wears fur under leather armor. A pistol and axe are strapped to his sides. “I did not mean to scare you,” The man says. “We were simply curious if the rumors were true.” Narrowing my eyes, I keep my pistol trained on him. “We?” I ask. “How many more of you cowards are hiding in that forest?” More footsteps can be heard. There are not many people with this man. They will not be a problem if they try and test me. “There are three of us, Demon,” The man says. “We do not wish to fight you.” Two woman in the same hooded armor step up behind him. They both have bows and daggers strapped to them. “Forgive me if I made the wrong decision,” The man says. “You did,” I glare. He nods along and removes his hood, revealing his face. “My name is Vlad,” he says. “These are my spies in training.” This Vlad has dark red hair and a freckled face. He looks like a human in his thirties. A few scars are scattered along his face like mine. The difference between him and me would be that he still looks like a friendly face. That only keeps me from trusting at all. He is a fighter, but who does he fight for? “Why are you spying on us, Human?” I say, not at all moving my pistol. Luno is standing behind me still, he has his face pressed to my back, no doubt scared of the intruders. The human laughs. Laughs. “News of people coming back from the dead tends to reach high places rather quickly,” he smiles. “Your little friend behind you has gotten the attention of my clan.” My jaw clenches at his last sentence and I back up slowly so that Luno can get further away from this spy. “Oh no!” Vlad laughs. “I mean no threat to you both. What I meant to say was that, we could use your help. We are more than willing to try and help you on your journey.” Raising an eyebrow, I say, “What do you know of our journey?” Vlad shrugs. “Well to me, it looks like you bringing all the humans back. Unless your actions are for something else?” Luno peeks up over my shoulder. “We are trying to bring you all back to life,” he says in a small voice. Vlad smiles and gives a nod. “My thanks to the both of you then. It would be an honor to help your in your cause.” Frowning, I slowly put my weapons away. This is strange. They see my horns. He has already made it clear that they know I am a Demon. Yet...they gave me their thanks? I’m conflicted. Luno’s hand massages into my shoulder. For some reason it is calming the tension that has been in my chest this whole time. “We would like that,” Luno says with a smile. “Right, Tobias?” A bit confused, I nod along. Weirdly fine with this agreement.
  19. travlbug

    Honesty

    I'm proud of Jasper for requesting a fair contract on behalf of the band members. This time, I'm sure that the guys will let their lawyer vet the new contract. I'm also proud of Jasper for coming out to Blake. Now, Jasper and Ryan both have an ally within the band. Kudos to Blake for being a true friend, even putting Jasper before Beth. Finally, I hope a flock of birds decide to perform synchronized pooping on Chris's head (Ryan can arrange the choreography!) because of his continued mean-spirited approach to Ryan's membership in the band. 🐦
  20. Daddydavek

    Chapter 41

    As Arad steps out into the void, I wonder what unexpected impediment he will encounter....Mann never lets his characters have it easy.
  21. kbois

    Chapter 32

    I was just WAITING for someone to make make that comment. 🤣 I almost went there myself! The kids are having meltdowns I'm sure. Kids do. Luckily Lex and Ian don't have to deal with them. Kathy and Jessie are troopers!
  22. flesco

    Il Gran Si

    Outstanding chapter! Toby and Mr. Higinbotham most definitely have an agenda, the tryst with Mr. Fish is unusual. Jimbo and Mason along with the rest of the camp staff are aware that something is going on and are also aware that Toby and Ed are behind the drama. The troubles approaching as the last week of camp progresses are going to be difficult but Jimbo, Mason and staff will solve the problems and come out on top together. I’m definitely looking forward to the next chapter! 😃❤️
  23. ZULUS Zeke usually looks under Steve's SHIRT
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