Money. Errol's leather notebook didn't contain all of his passwords and I couldn't access anything except for his emails. The hot water to the house had blown and I didn't have any money to get it fixed. His bank card was declining. I had very little funds to spend on food, fuel for my body. The electricity bill was due very soon and I wouldn't be able to pay it, meaning that soon I'd have no hot water or electricity. Errol's animal den of a place would become literally that.
Although in the two weeks this place had been mine, I no longer thought of it as Errol's. It was my domain, my habitat. I relaxed on the sofa, stretched out comfortable and alone while I pondered my predicament.
Although I could be cunning when needed I rarely had the energy to plan ahead. The future was something I'd been happy to deal with as it came. But now I couldn't afford to not think about it. My plan was unfeasible. There was no more hot water – oh well, I could stand next to the spray and cup soapy water in my hands, rub it into my body instead. Within weeks there'd be no power – oh well, I could scrounge torches from somewhere and charge my laptop at school, use the school internet for assignments instead.
But with less than two-hundred dollars to my name I was going to run out of food very quickly. A lady down the laneway has fruit trees in her backyard. The local RSL club had a free sausage sizzle early Sunday morning. I couldn't go on welfare, I didn't have the type of smarts that allowed me to figure out paperwork. Instead I was going to have to figure out ways to address each of my individual needs, the bare necessities. But I had no permanent solution.
I was in my last year of school, scraping above the average line. I was too apathetic to get a job and work. Truthfully, my life was about to get very hard very soon. And soon it'd become a real challenge to address my daily needs. I'll need even more stealth and evasion. Corey was a welcome distraction, but he still wasn't having sex with me. I was close to just forcing him, it was what we both wanted anyway.
Margaret was no help at all. She was still only a burden, she served absolutely no purpose to me.
My brain was whirring as I drove her to social club in her late husband's old metal truck. She was babbling and berating me. I wasn't paying attention, which was dangerous, but my brain was too distracting. Whirling with thoughts, I suppose you'd call it anxiety. Danger, danger, danger. My whole world, everything had become unsafe. I needed money, I needed to survive.
"You need a haircut!" Margaret's bark cut through. "Do you even wash your hair? It's so wild and shaggy, you're like an animal! When Errol finally gets back I'm going to chew him out for this! Everything's gone to shit! Lazy, useless. Are you listening to me?!"
My jaw clenched and she continued. It'd become physically painful to endure this. The road curved to the lakeside, I could see the old boat-ramp, empty at this time of the day and not a soul in sight. It was in disrepair, a better one sat by the fisherman's wharf further into town.
"You're such a useless grandson, useless just like your father!"
My jaw unclenched. Whirring brain suddenly distracted by a realization. Margaret equaled problems for me. Without Margaret my life would be easier. If I got rid of her, and I realized Icouldget rid of her and that it would be easy. Minimal effort to solve a big problem, if not considering future consequences. Only calculating the risks in the now. It took me all of three seconds to know what to do. I drove us towards the boat-ramp.
"What are you doing?" she snapped. I ignored her, didn't even look at her.
I wound down my window just a tad, reached over and did the same with hers. Quick, efficient movements. Parked the car on the ramp. Then put the handbrake down. I hopped out of the car, slammed the door, twisted the key into its lock as it started rolling. The whole process was very quick, my face empty with focus. Margaret stared at me with bulging eyes through the back-window.
When the front tires touched the water she started to squirm. She was too old and weak, and with one arm in a sling she couldn't get into my seat to press the brake-pedal fast enough, she couldn't pull the jamming hand-break up to save herself. She tried opening her door, pulling at the locks, hitting her palms against the windows in panic. I couldn't hear her. The heavy car submerged and kept going, water undoubtedly spilling through the gaps. Air bubbles rising up through the surface of the lake as I stared passively, my face sunken with an intense boredom. But soon the truck was under and gone from view.
She wasn't sick like Errol, but she was old and killing her hadn't required much effort either. I looked around again but the road was empty. The forest was silent, safe for the tweeting of a few birds. My head was still whirring with the fears of my current living situation. The only houses in view were blocked by tall steel-panel fencing. I felt safe. I started walking back home.
"...and Zoe asked me to come over to watch Netflix but we can never agree on what to watch. She loves horror and I hate it. She tried to get me to watch serial killer documentaries with her! Like I get that some people like thriller stuff but learning about actual murders for entertainment? That's kind of fucked up."
"Hm." I'd zoned back into conversation with my boyfriend at the mention of hisfriend. My lip turned down in distaste.
The two of us were sitting in a booth together after watching a movie at the nearest cinema complex. A comedy that was stupid, I didn't understand it. And although the patrons laughed I never did. Now we were eating at a pizzeria. All of this costed money. I didn't want to come but Corey pushed it. He usually never pushes anything, but this time he'd insisted that boyfriends went on dates. So I'd agreed, certain that by doing this I'd be entitled to sex with him afterwards. It'd been over two weeks and I was fed up with his pointless delaying of what we both wanted.
My earlier 'anxiety' flared up again, setting me ill at ease. My finances were dwindling and even though our orders were already taken I found myself thinking about leaving without paying. But I couldn't explain my actions to Corey. The money problem wasn't going to solve itself. My way of life is under threat and I don't have the energy or intellect to work, and for all my cunning I still hadn't invented an easy solution to get out of this.
"She was telling me that a common trait of psychopaths is that they start by murdering members of their own family." He sipped into the straw of his coke, it cost $3.50.
I wanted to pay for him to guarantee sex afterwards, that meant my balance drops to $119.75. I need money for safety and survival.
"I don't want you to hang out with other people anymore. You have me, we don't need anybody else."
Corey's eyebrows drooped with exasperated sadness. I didn't care if he was sad. This was a long time coming and I was set on the matter. Usually my boyfriend was compliant and I liked it because I had all the power and control. He was non-confrontational and almost always went quiet and obeyed whenever I rose my voice at him. We'd never even had a single fight. So because of that our relationship was peaceful for the most part. I was still sacrificing more than Corey: tolerating his friends for as long as I had, being extremely tolerant of his unnecessary shyness about sex, and being tolerant of his other needs. It'd been boiling down to this point; my tolerance was almost up. I knew what was best for us and our relationship wasn't going to be perfect until Corey became entirely obedient. Seeing things the correct way, my way.
Corey lowered his face to the table, picking at crusted tomato that'd refused to be wiped away since the rest of the surface was clean. I wasn't sure, but his eyes may have been wet "You don't want me to have friends...?"
"You don't need friends." I sighed in irritation. It cost me a lot to be patient with him.
Corey didn't answer and soon our pizzas arrived. A pretty, slender brunette wearing a thick layer of makeup set down wide trays, smiling and setting out our food with cheer. My boyfriend's head was still lowered as I reached for my pizza and started eating.
This wasn't like what Errol used to order. Flat-base, stringy cheese with little green leaves and olives. It looked insubstantial, pretend-quality. I started eating anyway because I was hungry, the tomato paste was acceptable enough. I was on my second piece when Corey finally started eating as well, picking apart a piece with his fingers and chewing slowly. Hunched shoulders. I didn't mind this new mood seeing as he wasn't rambling anymore.
Like the food this place was faux-fancy. Bulbs hung on wires from the ceiling, the floor was wood-paneled and the colour scheme was white, black and gold. When we were finished I pulled out my wallet to pay before staring resentfully at the three slices that remained on Corey's tray. These pizzas were almost $20 each but he scowled at it like it was upsetting his stomach.
The same waitress came over with the bill inside a black pad. Corey got better, looked a little appreciative when I insisted on paying. My payment would come later.
It was hard to hand over the fifty dollar note, painful to watch the black-aproned man ping the register and count. I couldn't help wincing after getting my change, slipping my wallet back into the pocket of my jeans.
"Let's go to yours." I told Corey as we left the heated air, it was like a wall ending right at the sliding doors. Outside was bare-bones cold. The lights from the hundred odd bulbs bordering the street-side of the cinema flashed in the dark from across the road.
"My grandparents aren't going to let you come over this late." He blinked at me, breath misting between us.
"It's a Saturday."
"They don't let friends sleep over."
We stopped at the curb. I internally cursed them whilst considering my only option. I had a house to myself and absolutely no family to disturb me anymore. If you could call it a house. I'd never let anyone else see it, knowing that it could lead to child protective services coming over for a visit, and if any government worker took one look at the place they'd take me away. Despite the fact I enjoyed my freedom, prowling about for hours in the woods. But I wasn't a child anymore so it didn't matter who saw where I lived. Taking Corey there seemed to be my only choice.
"Then come back to mine."
"I thought your Uncle didn't let people come over?"
"He's out of town."
"I don't know... Nan and Pop are probably already asleep, but..."
"Then why not?" I watched him wriggle "I thought you liked me?"
"Of course I do."
"Then come back to mine."
As Corey drove us back into Tuttle I remained single-minded on my goal. When I directed him to my street I felt dreaded concern about how he'd react to the house. Indoors was always foreign and strange to me. So artificial and clean, devoid of dirt, holes and mess. So contained and without any gaps leading to outdoors. I could imagine how my childhood home would look to a normal like Corey, but I didn't know how to prepare him before the sight.
As the car rolled up his mouth fell open.
"Oh my God." he said and I didn't respond. "Sebastian... don't tell me you live in that? That place isn't livable." I observed what he was seeing, the damaged walls, gaps in the corners. Slanted and the mess of rusted gutters, more rust than metal and eaten away by the elements. The vines creeping up the corner down to where bags of rubbish flowed from the side of the house. "You live here... with your Uncle?"
He looked at me, facing me in his seat and I could tell an understanding of some kind was settling into his features.
"Let's go inside." I pulled the door lever open.
Corey was a few steps behind me, head flicking around as he took it all in. He was extremely wary, as if frightened the place had booby-traps. The door was crooked in its gap, I forced it open, out of place with a good push. My slim boyfriend stepped into the dark corridor after me.
"This is a place animals would live in. Not people." His voice was dripping with concern.
He peered into my bedroom, at the slanting floor and the bare mattress on the ground. At the look on his face I began to worry that I'd made a mistake in bringing him here. He cupped his mouth with both hands and kept staring at me.
"What?" My tone was belligerent.
"I noticed that you wore clothes with holes in them, but I had no idea."
"I like living here."
"How could youlikeliving here?"
I shrugged "I've always lived here."
He was staring at me again and I didn't know what to say.
"I don't know what to say. I mean, you want me to sleep over?" his eyes went back to the mattress.
"I can find a sheet to cover it." My voice was harsh.
"I'll stay for a bit but I'm not sleeping here. It's so cold. You can see outside."
"I have blankets and jumpers. Come on, we'll sit in the living room."
We stepped over the cluttered carpet, the place where Errol died. His body was in the hidden shed beyond the woodland. Margaret's body was in her husband's old ute, under water by the old cement boat-ramp. The path that led to it was overgrown because nobody used it anymore. I didn't think her body would be found, it would be within years if ever. That secretive, partially-hidden waterside spot. Her big metal truck would be her tomb.
The fizzling TV sat in front of us while I started making out with my boyfriend. Corey was responsive to my lead, enabling me. I went to put my hand through his auburn hair, nudging his thin glasses askew. The room was dark apart from fizzling light from the small screen. He didn't relax into the moth-eaten sofa, jumping at my grabby clutches. He was undecided but started moaning. I was so hard and excited that I was leaking. After noticing that Corey was also pitching a tent it was all the invitation I needed.
He needed a little more persuasion throughout, but we jacked each other off on the couch. Quick breathing and raw excitement. It was the first sexual encounter with another person for both of us. Corey's tentative hand around my cock, jerking me off uncertainly, me telling him to go faster until I came all up my shirt. It didn't take us long, most likely cause of the thick eagerness at exploring uncharted territory for the first time. Corey had his eyes closed all the way until I finished him off. Too embarrassed, I supposed. The tendons on his neck stood out and he clenched his jaw against his orgasm. Afterwards I was very happy and finally satisfied. Accomplished. I couldn't understand why Corey was quiet afterwards.
But after that time, our first time, it became easier to convince Corey to let me do it again.
He insisted that boyfriends went on dates, so I complied. I insisted that boyfriends had sex, so I started rubbing and pushing against him whenever we were alone. When Corey resisted I could usually guilt him into doing what I wanted. I learned that it was better to ask then just climb on top and start touching his dick, he resisted less when I asked first. We started jacking each other off more and tried oral too. I loved getting Corey to suck me off. His hot, wet mouth soft against my hardness and the pleasure as he moved his head. In exchange I watched movies with him and went on dates.
Dates that didn't cost any money, if I could help it. I told Corey not to sit with his friends at all now and with the reward of intimacy and exclusivity, he left their company and remained in my possession. The two of us, a couple, a pair, a unit separate to the larger herds of the 'others', the school students. Exactly where I wanted us.