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About DomLuka

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  1. Oh I really hope you can come back and give us more of your great stories :D

  2. I really love your stories, I had have read most of them multiple times. I hope you come back and finish the unfinished one.

  3. Happy Birthday

  4. I really love your stories and hope there will be updates on those marked as in progress. I'm dying to know what will happen next. I just love your writing :)

  5. Dom, You are featured on the blog. You must respond!!!

  6. Please come back... :'(

  7. /emoticons/default_hug-transparent.gif" alt=":hug:" /> X100

  8. Read your stories several times over (and profess to having a huge crush on Aaron:P) and just wanted to let you know that your writing is much appreciated. There's probably more than a few fans dying to get their..eyes..on more of your work so Ill end my little message with a silent prayer for more breathtaking stories from you in a not-so-far-away future.


  9. Read your stories several times over (and profess to having a huge crush on Aaron:P) and just wanted to let you know that your writing is much appreciated. There's probably more than a few fans dying to get their..eyes..on more of your work so Ill end my little message with a silent prayer for more breathtaking stories from you in a not-so-far-away future.


  10. Missing your stories. Hope you're doing well.

  11. I just read Desert Dropping this week and it is a really good story. I was sad when I reached the end. I could relate to all the characters on so many levels. Will there be a sequel?

  12. ya it's been a year >.

    i love your work! keep it up.

    ur the best :D

  13. Taking five, or taking a year!!!!!! Hope all is well.

  14. Whats up? Loved "The Lo(n)g Way", now reading "In The Fish Bowl"/ Love your writing.

  15. DomLuka


    Thanks to Jim for editing! Oliver looked across the small but comfortable room as he sat at the end of one of the two twin-sized beds occupying the space, his fingers slowly drumming one of the thirty-or-so photographs scattered over his mattress. Looking the pictures over carefully, he selected one and held it up to the light. “I like this one,” he said before looking towards the other bed again. “Of course you like that one,” his brother answered, rolling hazel eyes that matched Oliver’s. “It’s got Frank in it.” “They’ve all got Frank,” Oliver pointed out, frowning as if he thought he was being teased. “I just like this one ‘cause he’s on his bike... like in the one you took for me.” David smiled. “I’ll take more for you soon.” “Oliver?” a curious female voice was heard before Jenny Woodmoore appeared in the opened doorway with her camera strap over her shoulder. “Are you talking to someone?” Oliver looked towards the space where he’d pictured his brother a moment before, and then shook his head at Jenny. “Nope, Jenny. It’s just me in here. See?” She smiled at him, and moved to look over the pictures on the bed. “Did you pick one yet?” she asked. Oliver nodded, smiling as he held up his chosen photograph. “I like this one,” he told her. Jenny looked thoughtful for a minute. “Yeah... it’s a nice one. But how about one Frank’ll like? Like this one?” she asked, selecting another from the pile. “It’s got both of you in it.” Oliver looked at a picture he specifically remembered Jay taking when he’d followed Frank up a tree to see a bird’s nest, and ultimately shook his head as he held the one of Frank on a bike higher, as if he didn’t think Jenny had taken a good enough look. “This one.” Jenny laughed. “Okay,” she agreed, taking it. “Let’s go see how fast they can get it printed on a card.” “Okay, Jenny,” Oliver replied, stepping into his shoes as he stood up. “Can we go now?” “We’ll have to if we don’t want to be late. Jay should be here in just a minute.” “I should feed my chicken while we wait!” Oliver exclaimed, as if he’d just remembered. “You know, I fed all the chickens this morning, Oliver,” she pointed out. “But this one’s lucky, and she likes it outta my hand,” Oliver objected. Jenny sighed as she followed him out of the room, through the house and into the small backyard surrounded by a newly painted picket fence. She knew better than to argue. Oliver had made a lot of adjustments since moving in with her family over ten months ago, but he’d still been irritated that his chicken had to live in the backyard with the rest of the regular birds, and not in its special cage in the garage. She supposed that if feeding it separately made him feel better, she shouldn’t argue. Besides, that chicken was the only thing he’d taken from his family’s home besides a few old pictures his brother had taken, and her family wanted him to be as comfortable as possible. Even when he’d insisted on having two beds in his room. Jenny watched as Oliver all but chased his chicken away from the others and picked up the kicking animal once it was cornered. “So are you looking forward to today?” she asked him. “Still glad we’re going?” “Yeah,” Oliver replied. “I’m gonna tell David about Frank’s card. And on the phone, he told me he’s got a surprise for Frank, too.” Jenny raised an eyebrow at that, but when Oliver looked back at her, she simply smiled. “Well, I guess we’d better hurry then, huh?” And she was grateful when she heard the old truck Jay had recently purchased from Mr. Dron pull into her driveway. ............................................. “That’s enough... Mom, that’s enough!” Frank insisted as he piled the rest of the mountain of sandwiches Jessica was putting together onto a piece of plastic wrap. “There’s only gonna be four of us... and we’ll only be thirty minutes away.” Jessica ignored him as she moved towards the refrigerator. “Are you sure there’s no room in that cooler for cake?” “Positive. We’ll do cake when I get back, alright?” “Alright. Help me clean this mess up before you go.” Frank looked at the meager amount of crumbs on the countertop and rolled his eyes, but still grabbed a rag. Cleaning. Always cleaning. It had been like that ever since they’d moved into the new house. It was actually located in town, had a real backyard, and his mother’s favorite part--a new kitchen that always had to be clean. Have you called your dad yet?” Jessica asked. “No. Rudy said not to bother them.” Jessica turned from what she was doing and raised an eyebrow. “What?” “I don’t know what they’re doing,” Frank admitted. “Figured they probably want to have the party on the boat or something.” “There’s not enough room on the boat!” Jessica objected. Frank shrugged. “Tell Dad that.” Not that it would work even if she did. His father was quite attached to the little houseboat he’d rented for summer. Frank hadn’t taken up his dad’s offer to spend the night on it yet, but then, apart from Oliver’s little boat, he hadn’t been very enthusiastic about boarding one. At least overnight. And besides, with his father making good on a promise to take time off during the summer to be closer to his kids, Frank found himself with plenty of opportunities to reconnect with his dad that didn’t involve remembering the last time he woke up floating on the water. “I already told him we were doing something here,” Jessica continued, beginning to look suspicious. “Maybe they’re hiding a present from you... but I’d know if they were, unless they’re hiding it from me, too. You didn’t ask for a dog, did you?” Frank looked at his mom, and chose to smile instead of following the urge to roll his eyes. “With three cats in the house? No.” “Four cats,” Jessica replied, and when Frank opened his mouth to respond she aimed a finger in his direction to silence him. “I know about the one you brought home last weekend. Don’t bring home anymore, and let that poor thing out of your room already.” “Actually...it’s in your room now. Ran under your bed this morning.” “Frank...” “I think I hear Jay’s truck,” Frank conveniently interrupted as he grabbed the cooler and headed into the newly carpeted living room. “You do not hear Jay’s truck!” Jessica called, following him. But, a moment later she was ignoring Frank’s dubious look as she heard the familiar sound of Jay’s engine. Frank grinned. “Gotta go. I’ll be back before dark.” Jessica sighed and rushed to the door before Frank had a chance to open it, lifting her hand to his shoulder as a few lines of worry touched her forehead. “Are you sure this is how you want to spend your birthday?” “It’s fine, Mom,” Frank insisted. “Besides, I promised Oliver, and it’s not his fault David only gets to see visitors once a month. If we don’t go today it’s another thirty days, and it’s already been over six months since...” “Okay, okay,” Jessica cut him off as she raised a hand in defeat. “I just want you to have a good day. Do you want me to go with you, just in case there are any problems?” “There won’t be. We already called ahead, and we both know you don’t really wanna go.” “It’s not that I don’t want to...” “Mom. It’s fine. I gotta go, alright? See you tonight.” After leaving a quick kiss to her cheek Frank was outside, tossing the cooler into the bed of Jay’s truck and moving through the passenger door to overcrowd the bench seat where Jay was at the wheel and Jenny and Oliver occupied the middle. It wasn’t the most comfortable way to travel, but Frank was comfortable enough with his company not to mind. Jay and Jenny had been good friends to Frank, even forgiving him when they discovered that he had no eye for photography whatsoever. Jay had once said it was nice to have a friend who didn’t know everything about him down to the bad haircut he’d had when he was eight, and in him Frank had found the kind of person he could call up late on a Monday night just because he was too bored to come up with a good reason to sleep. It was something he’d missed after discovering that his friends back home were too interested in their own lives to care anything about his new one. Jay had also made his transition into a new school easer to tolerate, not to mention the events surrounding last summer had built an odd, but strong bond between them. Over the last year, Frank had even helped him coordinate a second funeral for Odetta Grover, where Jay was finally able to make certain everyone knew the mystery surrounding her death. The small town had been surprisingly accommodating, placing a memorial on the land Odetta had once lived on, right where the Seabergs’ last house had once stood. Frank had found that he liked Jenny, too. He’d been a little concerned when his mother had been less than enthusiastic about the idea of taking Oliver in, and he’d even admit to being annoyed when Jenny’s family was quick to offer Oliver a home. But, Frank had to admit that it had worked out for the best. The Woodmoores had been able to provide things that Frank’s couldn’t. Like a stable roof over Oliver’s head to begin with. The Seabergs had been in and out of tents, neighbors’ houses, and even an old cabin behind Mr. Dron’s house for over a month before they found a more permanent residence that qualified as suitable. Frank wouldn’t have wanted that ordeal for Oliver on top of everything else. And Jenny’s family had also been able to provide Oliver with something that Frank would have had a hard time giving. Independence. It had been no smooth adjustment when the state had taken David. Oliver had been devastated, and Frank’s instinct was to never allow him to feel like he was alone. But, Frank’s own anger over David having to leave had turned his support for Oliver into something that managed to seem overbearing. He’d hardly wanted Oliver to speak with anyone else unless he was present. It was the Woodmoores who’d shown him that Oliver was stronger than that. He’d settled in with a family who’d been able to support him and reintroduce him to society. He was going to church, and school, and he’d even taken a part-time job where Jenny worked, something that had been his idea. But, even though Frank was no longer Oliver Martin’s only friend, there were still things that he only shared with Frank. It was only on occasion that Oliver mentioned his parents. He’d once asked Frank if it was wrong to be sad about what had happened to them, since no one else seemed to have a good thing to say about his mother or his father; and only Frank knew that Oliver stalked the old women after church, listening to their rumors regarding his family only to mull over it over later, hiding his hurt behind a crooked smile when he saw those same ladies around town. But the hardest for Oliver, and Frank thought for himself, too, had been David’s absence. He’d been gone for almost a year. At first they’d been told that there was a chance David would be charged with murdering his father, but with all witnesses insisting that there was some sort of self-defense involved, the notion was soon dismissed. But even then, David’s troubles were just beginning, and no one had been able to do anything about it when it was decided that he’d be held in a hospital until a more “suitable” arrangement could be made, even after the Woodmoores offered to take him in along with Oliver. Matters didn’t improve when David attacked a nurse two weeks later, and didn’t bother to deny it. Frank didn’t know the particulars, but during one of the few phone calls David was allowed to make to Oliver, he’d told his brother that the woman had reminded him of their mother. Over the next months, he’d undergone evaluation after evaluation, held in juvenile detention centers and inpatient mental facilities. Jessica had repeatedly insisted that David was getting the help that he needed, but while Frank could admit that David probably needed help, he had ultimately dubbed the entire situation as just plain unfair. David Martin wasn’t the way he was because he wanted to be. He’d become exactly what he was made to be, and as a result people were afraid of him. He didn’t belong in a school with kids his own age, or out walking the streets with Frank and his friends. He was unpredictable and bad-tempered, and he wasn’t afraid to act out negatively towards any adult figure who attempted to control him. At least, that had been David Martin until two months ago. The Woodmoores had called to announce that David was being transferred to yet another private hospital. But, this one didn’t have bars on the windows, and while his contact with the outside world still had to be limited, Frank had learned that David was making progress and there was talk that he’d eventually be released. Although, no one seemed to know if that day would come before the twins’ eighteenth birthday. The facility was only a half hour down the interstate, and when David did see visitors, it wouldn’t be through a glass window. Although, for this first visit his doctors had requested that only family speak with him. Frank had been disappointed when Oliver had mentioned this, but at least Oliver would get to see his brother. And in a way, Frank thought, he wouldn’t be going alone. Especially after Jay, Jenny and he flooded Oliver’s ears for thirty minutes with well wishes for David. .............................................. “Why d’you keep asking me the same question? You already know what I’m gonna say.” Dr. Grant Devling looked past his spectacles at the young patient sitting across from his desk. Just a boy. Dark hair, hazel eyes that sparked with intelligence, and a lopsided smile that appeared every time Dr. Devling looked at him as if reading a book. “Just in case you decide to change your answer... and because I think you want to. Sooner or later, David, I’m pretty sure you will.” David looked thoughtful for a moment. Maybe he would change his answer if he thought it would get him out of there sooner. But then, he knew better than to say so. Hospitals were strange places. And doctors. Doctors just like Dr. Devling, who insisted that he wanted to help David get out even as he came up with reason after reason why David shouldn’t. And if David said he wanted out-- because god help him, who wouldn’t?-- it was like a sign to his captors that he needed to stay longer. Made no sense. “I don’t think so,” David replied. “It’s been the same the last sixty-one times you’ve asked, and I think it’ll be the same the next sixty-one.” “Sixty-one? Really?” Dr. Devling replied with mild interest. David nodded. “Yep. Been here sixty-seven days, came to see you sixty-two of ‘em, and including today, you’ve asked me sixty-one times. Check if you want,” he added when Dr. Devling looked surprised. He knew he was right. David had developed a strange habit of counting days. He felt trapped when he didn’t. “I’m not sorry my parents are dead, and if you ask tomorrow, I won’t be then, either. And I’m still not sorry I helped one of ‘em get that way... so what d’you think? Am I still broke in the head?” David wasn’t being a smartass. It was a real question that he expected a real answer to. All these doctors, they seemed so interested in fixing him. And maybe, he sometimes thought, he needed fixing. But other times, times like this day, he’d sit in Dr. Delving’s office thinking that he was the only one around there who made any sense. After all, he was telling the truth--something the doctors obviously didn’t like to hear, knowing that if he lied... they wouldn’t want to hear that, either. “You’re not broken, David,” Dr. Devling replied as he wrote something down on his clipboard, and David resisted the urge to roll his eyes. If Dr. Devling really believed that, David thought, he wouldn’t be stuck in the man’s office. “But, we’ll talk more on this tomorrow.” “My hour’s not up yet,” David pointed out, wondering what Dr. Devling had in mind for the next fifteen minutes, since there was no way he was going to let David leave early. “You have a visitor coming today.” “I know that.” “Are you excited?” David shrugged. “Guess so. Haven’t seen him in a while.” “Are you close to your brother, David?” “Says so there in my file.” Devling smiled tiredly. “You must be looking forward to talking to him. You know, most people here see up to four people at the same time and don’t get as much out of their visits. I think it was smart to ask to only see your brother. I think catching up with him will be good for you.” “Him, too,” David replied. “Can I go now? I wanna get a shower before he comes.” “In a few minutes. Do you have your journal?” David sighed, and lifted the folded notebook he’d been holding in his lap. Like every day, he dutifully opened it and read aloud the carefully written detached, impersonal words that he’d written down five minutes before his appointment with Dr. Devling. “This morning I woke up at six thirty when the man-nurse knocked on my door, real loud. I thought that was rude. I laid in bed for seven minutes and thought about what breakfast was going to be. I hoped it was gonna be French toast and not that oatmeal stuff. When I got up I brushed my teeth first, and....” “Did you write about your brother coming?” Devling asked. David frowned at the interruption, shaking his head. “Why would I? It hasn’t happened yet.” “Yes, but I’m sure you’ve been thinking about it. How are you feeling, David? It’s been quite a while since you’ve seen him, aren’t you nervous?” “What for?” “Well, according to quite a few police reports your brother was very upset about what had happened to your parents. Are you worried that he blames you for your father’s death?” “I’m the one who shot him, ain’t I?” David remarked. “Credit’s mine. Oliver knows it.” “The credit? Is that how you think of it?” David thought about it for a minute. “I don’t know. Sounds better than blame, I guess. I don’t think there is a right word. It just happened, and if I had to go back, it would happen again. I ain’t sorry that he’s gone, and neither is Oliver.” “Are you sure about that?” David narrowed his eyes, and held a burst of temper in check. He didn’t like when Dr. Devling used an argumentative tone. David was damn sure that the man did it on purpose just to push him, and when David got pushed, something always happened that made someone decide he needed to be locked up by himself for a while. And he didn’t even want to think about the drugs, especially today. “The only thing Oliver’s upset about is that we’re not together,” David said, finding a smile. “But when I see him, I’m gonna tell him not to worry, cause that’s all gonna change.” “What do you mean it’s going to change?” “We’ll be together again.” “David... you do realize that Oliver will only be visiting today? No one’s coming to take you home.” “I didn’t say today, did I? But I’ll be with my brother again, Doctor. He needs me.” “Oliver is living with a good family right now,” Devling said as he flipped through his notes. “He’s made progress with them. You don’t think he’s better off right where he is?” “He needs me,” David repeated. “And someday, we’ll have our own life. The right way this time. It’ll take time to get there, is all. I’m not stupid, you know.” “No, you aren’t. I’d like you to start setting some goals for yourself, think about what you want to do when you get out of here.” “I got goals.” “Can you give me an example?” David shrugged. “That’s easy enough. First I gotta walk out the front doors of this place with you waving goodbye... then I gotta be on my own for a while. I’ll get Oliver when it’s time.” “Alright... what about school? Your tutor tells me you make a good student.” “Maybe. But she don’t teach me nothin’ I don’t already know. That’s what books are for.” Devling smiled. “Then maybe it’s time to introduce you to some advanced classes. It’ll keep you from getting bored.” “Oh, I’m not bored,” David insisted, tapping his temple with his index finger. “I’m always busy up here. I don’t need a teacher to tell me what to learn.” “You know... there’s nothing wrong with getting a little help sometimes, David.” “I get that. Like you’re helpin’ me get ready for being out there again. But...it’s just... a man should always help himself, too. I mean, in the end, that’s all you’ve really got to count on.” A frown creased Dr. Devling’s brow, but instead of responding, he momentarily looked away from David as the phone on his desk started ringing. “I want you to write about that in your journal. Explain it. We’ll go over it tomorrow, alright?” “If you say so,” David replied as he stood up. “But, I don’t think I’ll feel like talking about that tomorrow.” Dr. Delving lifted the phone receiver as he watched David head for the door, and then politely put his caller on hold. “David?” Devling called curiously. “What do you want to talk about tomorrow?” David smiled. “Frank. You should ask me about Frank.” ...................................... It wasn’t what Frank had expected. The facility was gated and guarded, but driving in was more like entering a modest retirement home than a prison full of legally insane inmates. “We can walk in with you, Oliver,” Frank insisted. “Maybe they have a waiting room or something.” “I can do it myself,” Oliver replied, his focus on the building in front of him as he took a few steps away from Frank, Jenny and Jay. But, he suddenly stopped and turned back to smile at Frank Seaberg. “I wish you could come with me, Frank.” “Me too,” Frank replied. “When you get in there... maybe find out when David can have more visitors, alright? We’ll come back when we can... and have a good time. With your brother, you know?” “Okay, Frank,” Oliver replied, and then reached into his back pocket, smiling sheepishly when Jenny opened her mouth to object to what he had. “Oliver,” she hissed. “That was for later.” “I wanna give it to Frank now,” Oliver insisted, presenting his friend with the birthday card Jenny had helped him with. The picture of Frank on the front of it didn’t look as good as the real thing to Oliver, but it would do, and he felt good when Frank smiled. “Happy birthday, Frank.” “It’s really great, Oliver,” Frank said. “Thank you.” “You didn’t open it yet,” Oliver pointed out. Sensing Jenny and Jay looking over his shoulder, Frank opened the card slowly, and laughed at the real picture that Oliver had slipped inside. It had been one of Frank’s own attempts at a self-portrait. He’d held up a camera and managed to get one of his eyes, his nose, and the bottom half of Oliver’s face. Sliding the picture aside, Frank found pencilled-in smiley faces next to Oliver’s handwriting. “Happy birthday, Frank,” Frank read aloud. “I love you, from Oliver. P.S. Your real present is a hat to wear when you’re fishing. I hid it under Jenny’s bed.” “You’re not supposed to tell him...” Jenny started, only to have a laughing Jay pull her back. Ignoring the bickering couple behind him, Frank pulled Oliver in for a quick hug. “Thanks for the hat. You can show me when we get back... I think we’re gonna eat while we’re waiting for you. Should I save you a sandwich?” “Okay, Frank.” “Good luck, Oliver,” Jay said as he pulled down his tailgate, his words prompting Oliver to head towards the building once again, stopping twice to wave to his friends. Oliver wanted to see his brother. He’d said so plenty of times. Wished for it. Been sad when it didn’t happen. And, every one of the few phone calls he’d been allowed to have with David had left him feeling empty afterwards. Alone. And as he walked through the front door of the hospital and found a nurse behind a glass wall talking to an older man in a white coat instead of his brother, Oliver felt disappointed, and perhaps a little cheated. Walking right up to the glass, he startled them both when he lifted his hand to knock on it. “Where’s David?” he demanded in the same, firm tone that Jenny always used to get her way with Jay. The nurse looked at him curiously, obviously at a loss for how to respond, and the man in the white coat looked bewildered before realization suddenly touched his features, and he actually laughed. “Oliver? Right,” he remarked. “You couldn’t be anyone else. I’m Dr. Devling, your brother’s my patient. Why don’t we get you signed in and I’ll take you to him myself.” ................................. “This is bullshit,” Frank remarked, looking across the parking lot at the doors that Oliver had disappeared into. He sat at the end of the tailgate, opposite to Jenny, who was on the other side of Jay. His feet dangled above the ground and he’d mindlessly just picked all of the meat out of the sandwich in his hands, tossing it to the ground until only bread was left. “Okay,” Jay said irritably as he took the remains of Frank’s sandwich and tossed them over his shoulder. “Next time, you stay home.” Frank sighed. “Sorry. I mean, I know Oliver needs this time with his brother, but seeing how he’s all the family David has...” “Frank,” Jay cut him off, “why do you wanna see David, anyway? You really don’t even know him... you told me that even before...” “I just think it sucks he’s being treated like a criminal. It’s like they’ll never let him out.” “I agree,” Jenny said quietly. “It’s not fair.” “Hey! Hello,” Jay remarked. “He is a criminal.” “Jay, that’s not...” Jenny started. “Look,” Jay cut her off. “I know I didn’t like the guy for a long time, and I thought he was...well, you know what I thought. But this isn’t about that. I get it was his dad that killed Odetta, but...” “But what?” Frank demanded, sounding defensive. “Oliver and David are innocent; after everything they’ve gone through...” “Oliver is innocent,” Jay said. “David shot his own father.” “I was there,” Frank retorted, “and trust me...” “It doesn’t matter if Brian Martin deserved to die,” Jay said. “It wasn’t for David to decide. What he did...” “If he hadn’t done it, I don’t think I’d be here talking to you right now!” Frank snapped. “And you can’t look me in the eye and tell me you wouldn’t have done the same thing in his place, so I don’t wanna hear it from you.” “It’s not the same thing, and I’m not so sure I would have,” Jay replied. “And, even if David did have another choice about it...” “What?” Frank demanded. “I’m not so sure he wouldn’t have pulled the trigger, anyway.” “Okay!” Jenny shouted, moving off the tailgate long enough to force her way back up again, this time between them. “You’ve both made your points. Can we stop now?” Jay frowned, glancing past his girlfriend to eye Frank. “Look, Frank... I’m sorry, but I think the guy needs to be here. I know you feel like you owe him something... but would you really feel safe with him free out here, maybe sleeping in the room down the hall from your little sister? There’s something about David... it’s just not right. I canfeel it.... and what about Oliver? I know Oliver wants his brother back, but do you really think that’s what he needs?” “I think...” Frank said quietly, “… that David deserves a second chance. He’s lived in prisons his whole life. He’ll never get the chance to change what that made him if he doesn’t get out.” “Maybe,” Jay agreed. “But I’m more worried about what happens if they let him loose and he doesn’t wanna change.” ................................. When Oliver Martin hugged his brother, the only sound made was the whoosh of air as it escaped David’s lungs. David didn’t hug him back, but neither brother had really expected him to. David wasn’t big on hugs, and he would have been the first to admit that he wasn’t very good at them. But Oliver didn’t mind as much as David didn’t mind his brother wanting to be close. This was the way they were, and instead of returning such a display of affection, David simply stood there and took in old familiarities, like the lemon fragrance coming from his brother’s hair, and to notice a few changes, such as the way he’d either gained a few pounds, or perhaps Oliver had lost a few. Glancing towards the door that locked on him every night at eight o’clock, David found Dr. Devling watching them, looking at them the same way people used to years before when they’d been allowed to go to town with their parents. Something about seeingtwo of them invited people to stare, to look for differences, to wonder... it had made David uncomfortable at one time, but now, he let the doctor look on curiously, all the while staring him down until the older man figured out that he was intruding and cleared his throat uncomfortably. “David, just make sure to stay in the visiting areas with your brother if you leave your room, and don’t forget your meds are coming at two o’clock.” “Sure,” David said blandly. “Make sure you let ‘em know I want some of those little yellow happy pills.” Devling responded to David’s smart remarks with a shake of his head, and David listened as his doctor’s footsteps moved down the hall, paused, and then moved on again. This hospital had proven to be a lot different from the numerous other places that had watched his every move, but still, he waited until he was certain that he and Oliver were alone before he placed his hands on his brother’s shoulders and gently pushed him back, the corner of his mouth twitching upwards when Oliver met his eyes. “I’m glad to see you,” David said quietly. “Me, too, David. I came all by myself, just like you said.” “I see that. Who brought you up here?” “Frank. And Jenny and Jay, too. They’re waiting outside, David. And Frank wants to see you, too. Can I ask him to come in a little later? That doctor said...” “No,” David said quickly, touching Oliver’s shoulder and guiding him to sit on the narrow, heavily blanketed bed that occupied the small room decorated with blue-bird printed wallpaper. “This visit’s just for us, alright? You remember what we talked about, right?” Oliver’s brow wrinkled as he nodded. “I remember, David.” “Good. Now tell me everything about the Woodmoores. They treat you good?” Oliver nodded. “They let me go to school. A real one, David. And Jenny doesn’t talk to me like I’m stupid. She says we’re friends.” “You got your own room?” Oliver nodded again. “And I got two beds in it; one for you, David. But sometimes Jay sleeps there. He’s my friend, too.” “Jeremy Flaskis?” “Yeah. He’s my friend, David.” Oliver repeated, as if to convince his brother. “Since when does Jeremy Flaskis want anything to do with you?” “I don’t know, David. But, one time at school he hit a guy for being mean to me... he got in trouble for that.” “Huh.... So, what time do you go to school? You take a bus?” “No. Jay gets us and Frank in the morning, and...” Oliver told David everything from what color the carpet was in his room to the kind of chicken he ate at Frank’s house on Saturday nights when he went over for dinner. And there was a lot to tell. Like, how Frank’s family got a new house, and how Mr. Seaberg came to visit a lot and always invited him to go out with their family. He talked about how he didn’t like not waking up in the same room as David, and how sometimes he got lonely even in good company, and that Rudy had drawn a picture of him and David together, which he kept hung up next to his bed. He talked until he realized that David wasn’t doing any of the talking. “Are you mad at me, David?” Oliver wasn’t sure where the question came from, just that he needed to ask it. David didn’t look too surprised, either. “Why would I be?” “I don’t know,” Oliver said, shrugging uncomfortably. “Sometimes I think... maybe if I was better, or different, you wouldn’t be in here.” David’s eyes drifted, his lungs releasing a slow breath. “You’re not the reason they won’t let me go, Oliver.” “Then I think... maybe you’re mad at me about the way things were before,” Oliver said quietly. “That wasn’t your fault, either. You can’t help what you are. None of us can.” “But I remember things, David... things I didn’t before. It’s like I’m having dreams, but they’re not dreams. I don’t tell no one. Not even Frank.” David raised an eyebrow. “Why not?” he asked, and then Oliver fell exceptionally silent. “If Frank’s such a good friend, why don’t you tell him the truth?” David pressed. “Because,” Oliver whispered. “You’re my brother, David... and Frank thinks Dad killed Ms. Grover.” Apart from blinking, David didn’t have much of a reaction to this news. “What do you say when Frank says that?” David asked. “Nothing, David,” Oliver whispered. “I don’t say nothing.” David smiled. “That’s good, Oliver.” “It’s not lying, David? It feels like lying.” “It’s not lying,” David insisted. “It’s Dad’s fault she’s dead... and it’s in the past, right? What does it matter now?” Oliver sighed, frowning. “I don’t like thinking about Dad anymore, David... I don’t like thinking... I don’t like...” He paused, taking a deep breath to calm himself. “I want you to come home, David. I don’t want you to be sad anymore. You’re sadhere, David.” David’s eyes widened slightly in surprise, and then he laughed. “You don’t gotta worry about me, Oliver. I’m gonna make sure you and me are together again, and it’s not so bad around here. People cookin’ and making sure you eat three times a day. You getta watch TV when you want, and go outside in the morning, and where else can you wear pajamas all day long without someone hollerin’ for you to get your ass dressed, huh?” David waved roughly at himself, his chin turned down as he looked over the matching blue one-size-fits-all pocketless pants and shirt that consisted of such thin material he was convinced that the nurses got more than a glimpse of his ass when the light hit him the right way. “These are actually kinda comfortable. Don’t gotta put a lot of thought into what you’re gonna wear every morning. You should try ‘em.” “I sleep in shorts, David.” David grinned. “Who said anything about sleeping?” he asked, a sly grin aimed at his brother. “Oliver, when we talked last time... do you remember, when I asked you to do something important for me?” .................................................. “Dr. Devling, you have a patient waiting in your office, and Adam wants you to go over his meds with him again... the color of one of his pills has changed and he wants to make sure no one’s trying to poison him.” Devling graced the short woman peeking into the front offices with a wry smile. “No alien transmitters this time?” “You’ve obviously brought Adam a long way,” she replied, and then with a nod, left him. But. Dr. Devling didn’t wander off in search of Adam like he normally would have done, or send someone by his office to tell his appointment that he’d be delayed. Instead, he continued to stare at the small, wilting desk plant that one of the employees had brought in months ago, and he thought about the one patient he saw on a daily basis that he didn’t seem to be helping at all. The boy was one of the most impersonal people he’d ever come across, and over the past few months, he hadn’t been able to make the slightest breakthrough with David Martin. If Devling was certain of anything, it was that David was far from being ready to be released. But, he wasn’t sure that David belonged there, either. David refused to talk about the incidents leading to his current condition, or to express any remorse for them, but Dr. Devling wasn’t exactly ready to transfer David to another program just yet. In fact, being moved around so much had likely become part of the problem, not to mention, given his history there wasn’t likely anything David despised more than being locked up. It was difficult to believe that David Martin knew how to trust anyone, so now it was encouraging that he hadn’t objected to seeing his brother. Dr. Devling had promised him a private visit, in hopes that seeing Oliver would encourage David to start working towards progress. Perhaps if Oliver came more often he could suggest that he participate in one of David’s sessions. Oliver might have had some mental disabilities, but Dr. Devling was willing to do anything that could help at this point. Maybe, he thought, gathering up his binder, he could intrude on the brothers for a few minutes to discuss it. Lifting a phone, he dialed David’s hall, confirming with the orderlies that they were still in the room, but when he hung up, he changed his plans since the information he’d received wasn’t what he’d expected. Waiting casually in the main hall, he flipped through David’s file until a familiar face with a visitor’s tag appeared moving in his direction. He’d treated twins before, even some that had to wear nametags so that he could tell them apart, but these brothers were something else. Almost like an illusion. When they were side by side there were differences, a broader nose, thicker chin; and the facial expressions, their attitudes, made them so individual that it was like they didn’t really share the same face. But separated, the mirror image they presented of each other was spooky, and watching Oliver Martin walking towards him had Dr. Devling feeling as if he’d slipped into the future, right to the day that David would walk out the front doors and find a better life than he’d had before. Oliver didn’t acknowledge the doctor as he passed by, almost as if he didn’t even remember meeting him a few hours before, which Devling decided was entirely possible. Oliver struck him as the type of person who had trouble focusing on more than one thing at a time, but still, he fell into step beside the boy with a friendly smile on his face. “Oliver, I’ll walk you out.” Oliver looked up, smiling as if he’d just noticed his company. “Okay.” “You know, I think it’s good you came today. Your brother’s had to make some difficult adjustments, and I think seeing you will help. I’m hoping you’ll visit again soon.” Oliver released a little laugh, and grinned. “I’d like to see my brother again soon,” Oliver replied.” David’s not bad. He’s my brother.” “Well, no one’s saying he’s bad, Oliver, but I think...” “He’s my brother. I know him better than you do, Mr. Devling. He’s going to be better really soon.” “Really?” “Yep.” “Well, Oliver, I don’t think you understand...” “Do I give this to you?” Oliver interrupted, removing his visitor’s tag and holding it up. “I can keep it if you want me to.” “Um...I’ll take it. Oliver...” “My friends are waiting for me outside. It’s Frank’s birthday.” “Frank? He was there the night your father was killed. David mentioned him. I was wondering if you could tell me a little about him.” Oliver looked up expectantly, and when the doctor wasn’t more specific, he shrugged his shoulders. “I like Frank. It’s his birthday. I gave him a card with his picture on it. Frank takes good pictures... there’s Frank!” Oliver said, suddenly pointing out the front windows to a group of three hanging around a pickup truck, and in the time it took Dr. Devling to look, Oliver had slipped out the door, and when Devling spotted him again, a crooked grin was flashed in his direction as the boy waved goodbye to him. ...................................... “Jenny, stop trying to be his shrink, will ya?” Jay complained. “All I said is it wouldn’t kill him to spend one night on that boat with his dad. It’s not like Mr. Seaberg hasn’t been trying.” “Well so has Frank,” Jay retorted. “And he can work it out with his dad without you. They’re fine.” “It’s not like he...” “He, is still sitting right here,” Frank remarked with a roll of his eyes. He liked having friends he could confide in, he really did, but sometimes he couldn’t decide if these two particular friends were there to amuse or annoy him. He was happy that this time he wasn’t required to put too much thought into it, because as soon as he saw Oliver moving towards them he slid off the tailgate to meet him. “Hey,” Jenny called, her argumentative demeanor fading. “How was it?” Frank wanted to know the same thing, but as Oliver came closer, he found himself wondering if he already saw the answer on Oliver’s face. Something seemed off. Oliver looked tired; drained. Frank was quick to look at the building accusingly, wondering what Oliver had seen in there. “Oliver?” he asked, getting close enough to touch his friend’s shoulder. “Is David okay?” Oliver finally met his eyes, curious for a moment before a lopsided grin spread over his face, his features becoming much more familiar. “It was good, Frank. We played a game.” “Checkers?” Jay guessed. Oliver shook his head. “Nope, not checkers. Can we go home now? It’s Frank’s birthday.” “Sure,” Frank agreed, sliding an arm around Oliver’s shoulders to lead him to the truck. “You can tell us how David’s doing on the way back.” He looked at Oliver and affectionately moved his hand up his neck towards his hairline. Oliver laughed, shifting like he was being tickled as he caught Frank’s hand and brought it back to his shoulder. “Okay, Frank,” he agreed, and sometime over the next several hours there was cake and gifts in the Seabergs’ living room, along with the argument over a puppy that Sam and Rudy had been hiding on a houseboat. ...................................... Early on a Wednesday morning, on a boat owned by Jeremy Hill, Jeremy Flaskis snapped a picture of two unsuspecting boys on a small motorboat. “Jay,” Jenny Woodmoore called irritably from behind him, “I didn’t borrow Jeremy’s boat so you could take pictures of other people all day. Stop spying and get over here.” Jay smiled. “I’m not spying. I don’t do that anymore... it’s just, they’re getting kinda close to where the Martins used to live, aren’t they?” Jenny sat up from where she was sunbathing to look across the water where Oliver and Frank were definitely drifting towards a red roof, but seemed too busy talking to notice. “So what? They’re talking.” “Yeah,” Jay agreed. “But Oliver’s still steering... see that?” “Maybe he wants to go by his old house. No crime in that. He’s probably missing his brother again... he’s been kinda off since he talked to David. I think we should drive him back there on the next visitor’s day. What d’you think?” “I think you mean I should drive him,” Jay remarked, feigning irritability in a way that made Jenny laugh. “And, I guess so... Hey, maybe we should turn around and catch up to...” “No,” Jenny said firmly. “You promised all day--with me; and if I have to remind you again I swear I’ll go drop you off in that boat with Oliver and Frank so I can find a boyfriend who likes to watch me.” Jay held up his camera as he slowly turned to face her, smirking. “Watch you... with, or without the lens?” “Without,” Jenny decided as she brought her hand to the camera and pushed it down. “I’ve forgotten what color your eyes are.” “Then you better check,” Jay said, leaning closer to her, and with Jenny busy studying Jay’s eyes, and Jay busy studying Jenny, neither of them noticed Oliver Martin’s motorboat drifting out of sight behind some brush, and if they had noticed, they probably wouldn’t have cared. And Frank, who was in Oliver’s boat, didn’t exactly care, either. He hadn’t paid any mind to Jenny or Jay since they’d passed by twenty minutes ago, waving. Since then, it had been the pinhole-sized leak in the bottom of the motorboat and the occasional water moccasin that occupied his mind. Oliver had taken them further out than Frank had been comfortable going in a long while, and while his ego had prevented him from making complaints thus far, his nerves were slowly outweighing it. “Oliver?” he finally said. “Are you ready to eat yet? We can find my dad... have lunch...” “I’m okay, Frank.” “Oh. Alright... Do you remember where that spot is yet? Maybe if we could stop for a while...” Frank stopped when Oliver glanced back at him, grinning. “Frank,” Oliver said, before dropping his voice into an amused whisper, “are you scared?” “No,” Frank said quickly. “I just wanna know what the plan is. Last week all you could talk about was some place where you wanna catch baby frogs...” “Tadpoles, Frank.” “Whatever; tadpoles, to fill up your tank--last week you were calling them baby frogs... And now, you changed your mind about that because you wanna go fishing, but if you haven’t noticed, we didn’t bring any fishing poles, so unless you plan to catch ’em with your hands I don’t see that happening, either.” “Actually,” Oliver replied, glancing over his shoulder, “I didn’t notice. But that’s okay, I got somewhere better to go. Okay, Frank?” Frank frowned as Oliver turned his back once again, and found himself staring at it as if the answer to every question running through his mind was supposed to be on Oliver’s shirt. And Frank did have questions. Not all of them had to do with where they were going, either. There had been plenty of things bothering him since his birthday, and not the least of which had to do with the realization that he hadn’t been enjoying Oliver’s company as much as usual. “Okay... Oliver.” Frank took hold of the sides of the boat, sliding forward where he more or less forced Oliver to make room for him on the narrow bench at the back of the boat. “Can we stop for a second?” “Right now, Frank?” “Right now,” Frank insisted, and to make a point, he reached around Oliver to kill the engine, leaving the boat adrift on the water, and the two of them in silence until he broke it. “I wanna know why you’re not talking to me.” Oliver cocked his head, baffled. “I’m talking to you right now, Frank.” “You’re avoiding me,” Frank replied, matter-of-factly. “You’ve been doing it all week. And Mrs. Woodmoore told me about the problems at her house.” Oliver crossed his arms. “She’s lying,” he was quick to say, and Frank’s frown only deepened. “You don’t even know what she told me,” Frank pointed out, and when Oliver turned his eyes down, he sighed. “Look, just because they noticed some money missing doesn’t mean anyone’s accusing you of doing it, Oliver. Jenny doesn’t think you did... and I... Oliver, I’m not going to ask if you did it. You know... I don’t think I even care. I was talking about the other stuff. I wanna know why you’ve been acting weird ever since you saw your brother. Did David tell you to stop talking to me or something? Or to Jeremy? Because you don’t call anymore, and every time I see you it’s because I come dragging you out of your room. And I see the way you’ve been looking at Jeremy when he can’t see you. Did he do something to make you mad, because if he did, it better be good if he catches you grinding your teeth at him... or is this something else?” “Something else?” Oliver repeated, suddenly seeming uncomfortable with Frank’s eyes so close to his. He stood, having no trouble with his balance as the boat rocked beneath him and he slowly stretched. Frank looked up. “Yeah,” he replied, his voice beginning to sound unexpectedly cold. “I guess I’m trying to figure out what the hell happened between now and when you last talked to David.” Oliver returned his gaze to Frank, the corner of his mouth twitching as he itched his shoulder, and then released a small laugh. “What?” “It’s an easy question, Oliver,” Frank replied, finding his way to his feet, somewhat slower than Oliver had. “Did something happen with your brother? I think he said something to you... maybe he did something that wasn’t good. I’m just wondering, because it’s not like you’ve talked to me about any of it.” Oliver snorted and reached out to take a playful swipe at Frank’s shoulder, seemingly oblivious to the way even the light touch forced Frank to retake his balance. “That’s silly, Frank. I just saw my brother. He can’t say anything bad. You’re my friend.” Oliver grinned widely, but for once, Frank wasn’t eager to smile back as he slowly reached out and placed a hand on Oliver’s shoulder, mostly to continue holding up his own balance. “I wanted to be your friend. But I’m wondering,” Frank said, dropping his voice into a secretive tone, “when you just saw your brother, David, did you tell him the same thing before you left him trapped where you’re supposed to be?” Frank snatched his hand back, and something sparked in the other boy’s expression. The boat rocked beneath their feet, and Frank fought to keep his knees securely locked as a small bout of lightheadedness reached him. He’d done things that weren’t very well thought out, and he’d spoken out of turn before. But this time, on a little boat hidden out of plain sight, and facing something he hadn’t realized that he feared until now made him feel as if his words were about to cost him. Suddenly not trusting his own legs, or the boy in front of him, Frank could only stare, his instincts becoming defensive as hazel eyes stared back at him, and the crooked smile that faced him a moment later was far from comforting. “How long have you known?” David finally asked, and the attempted communication surprised Frank. “I don’t know,” he said honestly. “Maybe before now...I didn’t want to think it. Why? You could have...” “Waited? I was sick of waiting,Frank.” “So you used your brother?” Frank snapped. “I didn’t use him,” David replied. “I asked for a favor. Did it ever occur to you that I didn’t force him, Frank? He’s not as innocent as you wanna think he is. Got a little bit of me in him... and he knows I did this for us.” “David, I know Oliver wanted you to get out...I wanted you to get out, but after everything that’s happened if you don’t do this the right way you won’t have any kind of life. Unless you plan to keep hiding, and if you’re gonna do that, it isn’t going to be behind Oliver’s face. You have to go back. You know that, don’t you?” David lowered his head, his shoulders sagging as if his body was processing some deep thought along with his mind, and on his face... disappointment, as if he’d expected this moment, and moreover, expected a different outcome. And then he looked up, and the world began to move very fast for his boat-mate. Frank made a mistake, one he recognized very quickly when he chose not to follow his instincts and shove David right over the side of the boat. He’d had the opportunity, a split second when he could have pulled it off, and it was missed before he was raising his arms to fend off David’s, catching his balance as the boat rocked violently beneath his feet. But, balance didn’t prove to be enough, and when two firm hands came forcefully against Frank’s chest, he hardly caught his breath before the air rushed from his lungs and he toppled sideways in a dizzy, panicked haze. There was a strange crack in Frank’s ear, and he felt something wet trickling down the side of his face before he even made an oddly heavy splash into the water, the lake surrounding him like a cold, heavy blanket. His body twitched beneath the surface in his valiant effort to get above it, and as if to bring on one last terror he looked up to see the bottom of Oliver’s boat before the oncoming darkness surrounded his senses and he sunk slowly into it, unaware of the hazel eyes still watching him. David Martin’s mouth was tugged down into a frown as he watched the head of blond hair below the water fade away into the murk before his attention was turned to a snake weaving its way past the boat. Frank Seaberg was a disappointment, and would be a necessary sacrifice if he wanted to accomplish all that mattered to him. And just like all his life, all that mattered to him was taking his brother away from this place. He looked to his left, the back of the house he’d once been prisoner in coming into his sights. Somehow, all of those memories constantly on his mind seemed like a distant dream; something he’d never speak of again. The moment was a new one for him, and standing there on the little motorboat he knew there was a decision to be made. A change. And in an instant, he was somewhere better. At least somewhere better than Frank was, he imagined, as he looked down once again and tried to ignore a strange ringing in his ears that insisted that when they met again, his brother was not going to like this. “It’ll be fine. Trust me, Oliver,” he whispered. Because like himself, David knew that the only thing Oliver would ever be able to count on in this world... was David. ........................................ “Jay, look out!” Jenny screamed, and surfacing in the water, Jay casually grabbed a small snake around the neck and tossed it well away from his personal space before he swam closer to Oliver Martin’s boat and looked up to where his girlfriend was still standing in the larger one. “I don’t see him!” he shouted, and without waiting for a response, dived down below the surface of the water, knowing that Jenny’s watchful eye was on him until he surfaced again. She was crying, and Jay didn’t feel there was time for that. “Leave me here!” he shouted. “Get to Frank’s house and tell his mom...” Jenny’s attention was suddenly turned as she heard coughing behind her, and she left the edge of their borrowed boat to attend to it. “Jay, he’s awake!” Frank Seaberg groaned as he fell from the bench seat they’d carefully placed him on, and jumped when Jenny Woodmoore gripped his shoulders, calling his name as if he wasn’t right in front of her. Forcing his wet lashes open, Frank took her in before looking past her, his attention on a dripping figure until it became Jay Flaskis, kneeling next to him. “Frank, where’s Oliver?” Jay demanded. Frank coughed again. “What?” “We can’t find him!” Jenny said impatiently. “What happened?” Frank looked between the two of them, his mind seemingly working at an inconveniently slow pace before he found himself looking gratefully at Jay and his wet clothes. “Did you pull me out?” he asked. Jay frowned. “We found you in the boat--Frank, did Oliver go over or not?” Pulling himself up, ignoring the assistance from his friends, Frank made his way to the bow, looking over the edge at the small motorboat still drifting in the water. “Frank!” Jay shouted, as if a firmer tone would get his attention. “We have to go get Oliver...” Frank started. “Where’s Oliver?” jenny demanded. “It wasn’t Oliver,” Frank stated, raising his voice above both of theirs. “It wasn’t Oliver... with me.” He turned to them, meeting Jay’s eyes, and in a moment he knew that Jay understood. “It wasn’t Oliver.” “David did this to you?” Jenny asked. There was a fright in her voice, and a feeling of paranoia as she turned in a circle as if ready to ward off an attack. “If that was David...” Jay said. “We have to go get Oliver,” Frank finished for him. Jay cursed, his temper sparking as he looked at Frank. “I told you! I told you he was nothing like Oliver! He’s dangerous, Frank, we should...” “I don’t know,” Frank quietly interrupted, his mind on the last moments he remembered in the water as his eyes took in the boat where they’d found him. “Maybe David’s got a little Oliver in him after all.” “Frank,” Jay growled. “Wait,” Jenny said. “So... where is David?” It seemed to be a question the three of them had in common as they silently looked over the water for several long moments before Frank finally shook his head. “We won’t find him. He’s gone.” “For now,” Jay said, and in a whisper full of uncertainty towards the near to distant future, Frank agreed. “For now.”
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