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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Luke Hanson's Mind & Punishment: A Teen in Despair - 15. Chapter 15 - Hey!

Monday 8.12am - Leander


Hey,

I was born Leander Scott Sheperd, now better known as Bear. It's my pleasure to introduce myself to you. I am eighteen years old, and I am the second youngest of seven children. I guess I should start with how I came to be? Or maybe memories. Okay, let's do memories. You don't really need to know how or where I was conceived. By the way, I have been told it was in the Candyfloss Cabin. Okay, I'm ending it there!
 

My first memory is that of my mother at the sink with her hands in soapy water. Millions of memories then developed from that single one and tell the story of a shy and often mothered child. 

So I came to find out.

___

Does this introduction seem right to you? I've never done this before. I feel a bit embarrassed, actually. Ha... it's my pleasure???? Hmm, maybe I should take that bit out. Should I take that bit out? Nah, I'll leave it. Anyway, Luke said he was doing this sort of thing. I asked him how I would go about doing the same. He said just be casual and write everything down. He reckons you can make a connection to the person reading it, I guess. So this is me being casual. Anyway, back to my... whatever this is.

When younger, my brothers would often pack together and give me a hard time for 'stealing our mother's attention' from them. Sometimes, but not all the time, they had a point. My only defender was my slightly older sister, who often stuck up for me and went against her own twin brother in my defence.

I first realised I was not from a typical family when some friends I'd made told me about the brick houses they lived in and the schools they went to. Of course, this difference was never something I obsessed over or felt upset by. But I did ask my parents a few questions about it, though. Hmm, such as why we lived on wheels. Now I remember asking that.

Growing up around the family fair and living in movable buildings became quite normal in my mind. This was despite what my friends had said about it being a bit strange. Even the people who were supposed to be my friends occasionally teased and bullied me about my heritage. However, as time went on and I got older, I began to feel the need of the fair was replacing my freedoms and my need for friendships. So those people soon left my life for good. 

Strangely for some, but not for me I guess was the fact that before I knew what reading or writing was, I had a ratchet in my hand. I think I was eight. I was testing our rides by ten years old and cooking dinner for my family on Tuesdays by eleven. In contrast, I could not spell my name until I was thirteen, could not read or write until sixteen, and I only found out how to do basic maths confidently around eighteen months ago. So yes, I was first educated at the ripe old age of fifteen. By a teacher or school, you might ask? Nope, my Aunt Hilder. And she taught herself apparently by saving her money and buying cheap books from WHSmith. Some might say tragic, but as my Dad always said, what skills did we need to hold a ratchet?

Please don't be hard on my parents, though; this is a way of life. A form of life you are taught about from an early age. We are a community that drifts. A family that is more together and loyal than a pack of wolves, and we use our homegrown skills and knowledge to make our money.
Like any minority, we are proud of our history and values, but we also have those within our community who paint us in a bad light. My family are one of the good ones I'd like to think. We were brought up with manners, morals, values and decency, and I live by those to navigate my way through this ever more confusing life and world.

Although not a sporty person, again not raised with it as an essential, Working at the fair keeps me very fit, and yeah, okay, I don't mind admitting it; I have been known to get a whistle in the summer from girls. Of course, this is while I have been conducting maintenance on a ride or hauling supplies between stalls while we're shut down, and I can walk around without a top on.
Oh, but I'm not vain, please don't think that. No. It's just when you live this kind of isolated life? Well, any attention from the world outside is quite nice. I hate my height, though; always been the odd one out there. Around five feet seven, all my brothers are well over four inches taller than me... even Sebastian. Mum said I was the runt of the litter but said I was her favourite, which kind of compensated, I guess. But, yeah, an adult now, and while still confused about the world outside in so many ways, along comes Luke! 

I had to pause here as my brother is being an annoying git!

 

"You've been tapping away on that keyboard for about an hour now. What you up to?" Asked Duke, the brother who I shared a trailer with. He was throwing skittles at me as I tried to concentrate. "So, come on, what are you doing?"

I looked over the screen of my laptop and gulped... probably audibly. "Nothing why?"

"The noise of that tapping is kinda annoying."

"Go outside then, I have to put new bearings on Wild Snake in an hour.
This is my time."

"Got someone have you?" he continued, smirking at me.

"What?" I replied, spurting out a nervous chuckle. "No, of course not. If you must know I am finishing the extras for my online English course and my fifth level writing skills."

Duke rolled his eyes. "I really don't know why you put so much into that, it's not like you need it."

"Yeah, Duke, but it is nice to be able to read a menu on a takeaway leaflet or an everyday newspaper, you know?"

"Meh, just get the computer to read it to you."

"Pffft, you're impossible sometimes."

I locked the screen and closed my laptop, pushing Duke's legs off our coffee table as I left for the outside. The bright sun forced my hand to my eyes as I adjusted to the light. I felt great as I pulled my top off and stretched out my arms. I'd had a good night's sleep after a somewhat late finish because of Luke. But I had awoken more convinced than ever that his coming back to me was a sign I could not ignore. The tricky bit was working out how the hell I was going to keep this all a secret.

Oh my days!

############_________________________________###########

 

 

Monday 10:04am - Luke


It was another Monday morning at Saunders. Mostly, everything seemed the same as last week. The heatwave continued to tire everyone out. Taz was on the early shift at McDonalds, Lee was at school, my Dad was at work and of course I was here. Nothing different from the last week. EXCEPT last week, I was not in love with the best looking boy in town. Last week I was just average Luke. But now I felt special, alive, and... happy!

Would it last? In my mind no, of course not. Something is bound to happen to wreck it. In reality? It was probably fifty-fifty like most things at the start. Of course, I'd avoided the massive elephant in the room with regards to Leander. In fact I have yet dared to even put it down on paper, or move it to the front of my mind. That elephant is caged up, not to be spoken about. 

No, I'm not mentioning it, you'll have to work it out for yourselves. In the meantime. For now. I just wanted to enjoy this happiness and live in the moment.

I went back to my duties.

 

_____________________________-

 

Derek appeared in the doorway between the shop and the stock room and leaned against the frame.

"I can hear you humming from out there. Did you find a fifty-note on the floor or something?"

"Nope, just happy, that's all," I replied, looking up and smiling while striking my knife over a sealed box.

"Well I must say, in contrast to last week it's good to have you somewhat back to your old self."

"Lunch today? I'll pick it up."

Derek's eyes went wide. "Okay, that's not normal. Since when do you offer to get lunch? I always have to ask. Something terrible has happened. Can I have the old guy back?"

"Very funny Derek. Look I don't mind, I've got to stop by the post office anyway and get a birthday card for my Dad, so I'll stop by and grab us a roll."

"I'll leave some silver coinage under the counter. Anyway, I'll let you get on. I seem to be getting my monies worth from you today. Be a shame to disturb that."

Derek disappeared onto the shop floor, and I quickly pulled out my phone.

[10:54] Me: Hey, still okay for 11:15? x
[10:55] Leander: Yep, but gotta be back by half 12. I've gotta stock the soft toys back up. hands and arms full of grease at the moment, gotta run.
[10:56] Me: Cool, see you soon x

I stared at the screen for a moment, a broad smile and a shake of my head confirming that yes, I was in the most sickly of love.

Already!

 

__________________________

 

"Oh before you go, Luke, can I ask you to pick up a book of first class stamps if you're going to the post office? I keep meaning to get them but my brain always conks out remembering."

"Sure Derek, I'll get them, just add it to my bonus this week."

"Cheeky swine. Go, be off with you and say hello to Doreen for me."

"Sure, will do. See ya soon."

I dropped my box cutter on the counter, left through the main door to the shop, and walked briskly up the street towards the row of shops where I would be 'casually' meeting Leaner in the Lamb and Dog pub for a soft drink and chat. We'd pre-agreed that place because I can't recall anyone I knew saying they had been there, and Leander knew that all his family drank beer in the Half Moon, which was closer to the fair's location.

As I got to the main street, I saw Leander's truck parked in an 'hour only' bay which told me he was here already. Even I had left early, so this was promising. Part of me wondered if he was going to send me another message bailing out. But it never came. 

Thank Almighty God!

I had a brief look around, probably like someone who had deliberately dropped some litter would, before skulking inside the pub. Inside, the air was ice cool and thoroughly relieving as I drifted my eyes around for Leander.

Not seeing him at the bar, I wandered along each of the pub's private booths and found him sitting sheepishly at the end. He was wearing a plain white t-shirt and pink chino shorts. His tanned hairy legs looked amazing in a pair of Nike running shoes - new, and some pink sports socks that sat just below the ankle. With a Turkish-style skin fade at the back and sides, on top, his hair was glossy, almost black and brushed to one side. I'll give him credit; away from his environment, he could be very well-groomed.

"I got you a lemonade," he said thoughtfully, his face trying to be relaxed. However, his nervous tone gave away the lie.

"When did you get your hair done?"

"This morning. We have a local Turkish guy I always go and see when we're in town."

"Looks great... like fucking hell!" I said, laughing. "So you okay?"

Leander nodded. "Yeah, just keep thinking my Dad is gonna walk in and find me for some reason. I know he's not. I guess I'm not used to this sneaking around and into little town pubs. But I guess I can now say you're worth it."

I leaned forward over the table to give Leander a light kiss on the lips, but he drew back, looking horrified.

"What are you doing," he strained out in a high-pitched but quiet freakout.

"I was just saying hello," I said, frowning.

"There could be CCTV or something."

"And? What do you think they are doing? Making a copy right now to deliver to your family?"

"Don't be fickle, you know how I need to be careful Luke. Please."

His outburst suddenly tarnished the mood, but I tried to play it down and make him relax again.

"Do you think that was our first tiff?"

"What's a tiff?"

"You know, like our first argument."

Leander giggled and sipped on his lemonade. "Hey you know you said last night before we left the old house that you were writing like some sort of journal?" Leander asked, tapping his fingers on the table.

"Oh yeah, well it's nothing really. I'm just doing it so I can look back on my young self, perhaps for others to read too. But maybe a long time from now."

"Well I've started doing the same. My first page mentioned you, and I thought that would be a good place to start. Plus it helps with my writing skills and my grammar. But that's not why I'm telling you."

"So, what is?"

Leander grinned. "My brother, Duke? Well he started asking what I was doing, and I almost gave myself away just by the look on my face."

"Oh no, really?"

"Yeah, I mean I can laugh about it now, but he was like, 'hey you been tapping on that laptop for ages, what you up to?' So I was like, erm, erm, what?"

Leander has the cutest giggle and makes this adorable noise when he first starts. It's hard to explain a sound, but it has me gripped. Gripped in his spell. His white set of teeth subtly shows as his eyes squint to the rhythm of his laugh. When he laughs, it feels like it's coming from his heart. But I note there is evidence that he might not get to do it all that often. I don't have special powers, of course, but it's like I could see an inner part of him hiding just behind a thin curtain, scared to be on show—a more vulnerable part, perhaps a part that made up the whole of him.

"So, can I see you tonight?" I asked, having to work hard to make it sound like I wasn't begging.

"I finish at eight tonight as I've been on maintenance early, so that could be a deal," he said, nodding. He then sighed. "Just got to start coming up with excuses as to why I'm leaving the grounds."

"Hey, can I ask you something, and you try to promise you won't take offence?"

Leaner narrowed his eyes. "I'll try," he said slowly.

"Do you have to explain to your family when you wanna go out and where you're going? I mean, I'll obviously tell my Dad if I'm going out most of the time, but he rarely asks me if I don't offer it. So I guess I'm a bit baffled why at your age, you can't come and go when you please, as long as you're not working."

"I can come and go, Luke. I think you're missing problem. You see, before I met you, I had no reason to leave the grounds. We have a lackey who collects supplies and stuff. My friends at the fair are basically cousins who live with us and I don't have a girlfriend... obviously. So when they see me leave, they naturally ask where I went."

"I take your point."

"Like I said to you before. Everyone is sort of suspicious because they have seen me a bit distracted, and I have left in my truck a few times without warning. This is part of the reason why I freaked out and said I don't think it could work out between us. I didn't want to hurt you... a future us... if there was ever going to be an us."

"You said part of the reason?"

"Well yeah, I mean... I mean I wasn't sure, you know, about..."

"Your sexuality?"

"Uh-huh," he replied, biting his bottom lip. "I didn't want to hurt you, or give you false expectations. And I still don't."

"And now?"

"Do I want to hurt you?"

"No silly. Are you a little more sure of your sexuality?"

"What? No of course not. It's been like two days, not even that. This is something that will take time, loads of time. If ever. Luke, I need to take this one day at a time. Forty-eight hours ago, the prospect of even sitting in this pub with you... another boy would have been well off the radar. At the moment, I am just permitting myself to enjoy these new feelings and being guided by you. That's it. I'm not reading a manual somewhere secretly.

I looked at him, kinda sad he was so unsure and scared. "Hmm, if I only could, I'd make a deal with God, and get him to swap our places."

"Huh?"

"Just a line from a song. Kate Bush?"

"Who?"

"Kate Bush, Bush, Kate, Kate Bush, no?"

Leander shook his head, smiling. "Sorry."

I looked into space for a moment. "Just a singer my Mum loved. I can see her now, singing along with that one blaring out on a Sunday morning."

"You miss her big time, I can tell."

I sighed. "Yeah, Leander. Like, every hour!"

Leander pursed his lips. He then peered around the booth, then behind him and finally across the ceiling, before gently resting his hand on mine and stroking my knuckle with a finger.

"Call me Bear," he said with a caring look.

"Okay, I'd like that," I said as he took his hand away and placed it around his glass again. "Suits you," I added.

"Apparently so," came the reply, causing a grin to form on our faces.

Man, he was everything!

Hey readers, new and old. While I've got you for a minute I'd like to ask a small favour. There's been quite a gap between my last story and this new one. I thought now we're a few chapters in and you're enjoying it, I'd be so pleased if you gave it a recommend. I want to try and reach a wider audience again after being away a little while. Using Gay Author's top recommendations table would really help get the story noticed by others. So if you have a second, I'd appreciate your little clicks. If you don't want to? Well that okay too of course. :)

Many thanks

James

Copyright © 2022 James Matthews; All Rights Reserved.
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Trying a different style and a couple of new things in this book and my only benchmark on how that is going is you, my loyal readers. So I have a small favour. Please do click a like if you're enjoying the story and please do recommend the book. If you have a thought or comment I'd be made up to hear what you think. All feedback is relished and of course I do love hearing your ideas, opinions and banter. Many thanks, folks! Now, let go forth on to the next chapter :) 

Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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3 hours ago, drsawzall said:

I think the last two chapters are the calm before the inevitable storm, one has to hope that it continues for Luke and Bear, knowing there is a job for Bear in town if he so wishes...wouldn't it be a hoot if Bear moved in with Luke, then finding out Dad's girlfriend's son has issues that throw a spanner in the mix......

I love you vivid mind and almost clairvoyant look into things. Let's face it, it could br crash and burn or their LHEA scenario.  

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I admit I'm absolutely horrified that Leander (and presumably his siblings) were not taught to read and write, or even basic math.  Is this normal for Romani in England?  Is it legal?  I think it's unbelievably selfish, those children are completely unprepared to survive outside the family, I guess that's the point!  They are practically prisoners of a cult!  

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