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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 - 19. Chapter 19 - You Can't Be A Sheperd If You're Not Up For The Fight

Wednesday 5:19am - Luke 


 

My head is a mess; I'm falling all over the place. Still half-drunk, still half asleep. My phone... where has my phone gone. I can't find my phone because I don't care about phones and that's the reason I can't bloody find it!

I found it!

"Taz?" I said as softly as possible, my voice gentler than the shove I was giving him. "Taz, wake up!"

"Huh? What?  Luke, it's the middle of the night. Hmm, I don't feel so good."

"Jesus, Taz, are you gonna throw up? Look, I don't have time to explain because I gotta run. But, please remember that if you wake up later and see me gone, it's nothing to do with last night."

Taz opened his eyes to a squinting shocked look.

"Last night?"

"We need to talk, yeah. But not now. I have to go."

"Luke, what's going on. What are you doing?" Taz was taking far too long to comprehend my urgency to leave, it was starting to get to me, mentally.

"Taz, I really don't have time to stand here and give you a news report; just please remember that I have left, okay. It's to see Leander. I have to go and see Leander."

"Okay, okay, I get it." Taz took a deep breath and rubbed his eyes as if to wake himself up a little more. "You can't be driving, surely?"

I bit on my nails, thinking about what to do. "I have no choice. I'll stick to the speed limits and be aware."

"Jesus, Luke, you're still well over the drinking limit. And what the hell has happened for you to be in this state?"

And a state I was in... admittedly. My heart was pounding. Perhaps from the alcohol still in my system or an absolute panic shitstorm. I was too focused on Leander to even work it out right now. I had to go, and fast. 

He needed me!


_______________________________

I'd run home and jumped into my car as quick as my sand filled brain would let me. The cool air I'd run through had somewhat refreshed me to a point where I could think rationally, but regardless, Taz was right. I was over the drink-drive limit, probably by a wide mark.

I tried as much as possible to stick to the thirty miles-an-hour speed limit that most of our town roads had until I hit one road that said fifty. I was doing seventy, unable to control the lead foot that screamed with me to get there faster.

Within minutes, I don't know how many, I was pulling into the fairground car park, skidding to a stop in a soup of morning dew. I switched off the engine staring through the closed entrance gate a dozen or so metres away.

Did I get out? Did I risk getting out? I mean, to whoever was going to see me sooner or later, what the hell was I doing here? I felt messaging would be the best bet.

As I got my phone out, I happened to look in my rear view mirror, seeing an ambulance and police car rapidly approaching my location. Blue lights bounced off my side mirrors and I suddenly clammed up. Looking at my keys still in the ignition slot. 

I took them out and hid them under my seat.

"Shit, no, no, no, not the police!" I whined to myself. 

They rushed past my car and pulled to a stop as close to the main entrance as possible. I put my head down and continued to log into my phone.

[5:47am] Me: Bear, I'm sorry, I know you told me not to but I'm here. I'm in my car.😬
[5.49am] Leander: Somehow I knew you would ignore me. I'm sorry I sent that message. I was emotional and upset.
[5.49am] Me: Are you okay, is there anything I can do? 😢
[5.50am] Leander: Can't really talk now, I'm with my Mum. She's in a state. My Brothers are here. You better go.

I sat there looking at his last message. Fuck I didn't want to go. I wanted to stay, be there for him. But he's asked me to go, hasn't he? Or maybe he's saying that for my own good and he wants me to stay. Shit, what do I do? 

So what the hell do I do? It's an impossible situation don't you think? I mean, yeah, I do get it. I'm this heart-on-a-sleeve kinda guy who always manages to fuck things up most of the time because I don't use my 'logical self' to make decisions. He's asked me to go... well no, he said I SHOULD go, but is that saying? Is that saying I should really go and leave him, or not? I only ask because, why would he feel the need to message me at five in the morning if he didn't want me there. Aaaaahhh, see? I used logic there, and yet I feel no clearer in my mind what the hell I should do. Any idea?

I didn't know what to message back, it was clear he was upset, and I knew any message I sent him would be irritating. So perhaps I should do what he said. Maybe I should go.

While thinking about my own selfish decisions, I saw one of the paramedics running back to the ambulance they had recently vacated. He seemed to pull off two large green NHS bags and was lugging them back to the group of trailers where all the commotion seemed to be. Then I saw Leander walking into view. He appeared to be wiping his eyes and then became quite animated with his arms as another young guy seemed to be following him. I saw the two of them converse, which looked like an argument. But then they embraced. The other guy then grabbed Leander's head in his hands and was talking to him in a very focused way, as if drilling something into him. I saw Leander nod a few times, and then the guy dropped his hands.

My heart was almost pumping out of my chest at this point. I was like a greyhound itching to be let out of my cage at the start of a race. I desperately, desperately needed to go over there. But that would bring down the whole house of cards for everything we had agreed to abide by with Leander's 'secret life.' So I sat there, almost wanting to cry myself from the stress of just being out of reach.

___________________________

 

I'd been in my car effectively hiding, for around fifteen minutes now. Nothing had been happening that I could see since Leander and whoever the other guy was had gone back to the trailers. But then there was movement, and I darted up in my seat.

Two Paramedics came out and threw their blue gloves into a clear bag one was holding. The one on the left was panting, almost like he had run a marathon. The other, holding the bag, was met by one of the police officers and a conversation started. Then, quite unexpectedly, I saw Leander strolling towards the entrance.

As he got closer, I could see his face was wet from obvious tears and when our gaze met, he shook his head. I got out of the car, wanting to run over to him, but I stood just outside, thinking it better to let him get to me.

"Well?" I said, putting one hand on my head.

"I told you to go!" Leander replied, looking exhausted, and sounding it too.

"I would have, but my gut told me to stay."

"They couldn't save him. He's died. They worked for fifteen minutes. After that, they said it would have been like a light switch being turned off."

"Shit Bear, I'm so sorry."

"My inner tortured self is telling me to celebrate. But In fact, I feel pretty devastated."

"Heart attack, right?" I asked softly.

Leander nodded and wiped another tear from his eye. "We uh, we can't open the fair today. Clyde wants to carry on and open it, but he's been told by Mum that we can't." 

Leander's statement didn't seem to have any value in the current circumstances, but he was probably in shock.

"Bear?" I said as quietly as I could, but loud enough so he could hear me. "Whatever you want me to do, I'll do. Just tell me. But I really want to be with you right now."

"I erm... I should really go and be with my Mum."

"Do you want me to go?" I asked.

"HEY BEAR?" came a call from the distance. We both looked in the direction of the voice.

"That's Clyde, by the way. The guy? The guy you saw me with. That's my eldest Brother."

Clyde was now picking up pace and heading towards us. Leander could clearly see this and didn't appear to be doing very much in the way of telling me to scramble. On the other hand, I was shitting myself as this tall and well-built man was closing in on us.

"Wait here," Leander said, moving away to meet his Brother.


_____________________________

 

I'd been watching the two of them talking over by the main gate for what seemed like ages until suddenly Leander dropped to his knees in front of Clyde and burst into tears.

What should I do? Do I go over there? No! No, he's asked me to wait where I was. I couldn't look that concerned. After all, I'm just a paying customer asking when the fair would be opening. At least, that's one of the many excuses I'd made up for what Leander was going to say the reason was: that another guy was hanging around the main gate.

Hang on, it was six in the morning! Perhaps I was lost instead?

I didn't know what had made Leander fall into a broken mess, but looking at Clyde just standing over him didn't feel me with optimism. Until, after what seemed like an eternity, Clyde slowly got down onto the floor and pulled his crying Brother into a hug.

Seconds later, he shot me a look, then extended a hand, waving me over. Clyde's face was warm all of a sudden. Almost inviting. He was a big lad, massive arms, tattoos. Big gold rings on his fingers, and much bigger built than Bear. But they did look alike, and I saw that same warm expression I often saw appear on Leander's face when he looked at me.

I shifted a few steps and then stopped. Was it okay to go over? I mean really? Or were the both of us about to have the shit kicked out of us? That was the worst thing about all this. I could not hear anything that had been said.

Clyde waved me over again. I swallowed hard, and this time, I went all the way.

"You Luke, right?"

"Uh, yeah, that's me."

"Our father died tonight. You know, I hear?"

I started to tremble a little. But not wanting it to show, I put myself in a leaning position and placed my hands in my pockets.

"Yeah, I'm very sorry for your loss," I said, almost bowing my head.

Clyde looked up into my eyes. I thought he looked annoyed suddenly, but maybe I imagined it.

"Why?" He asked, throwing me off-kilter.

"I'm sorry?" I said as politely as I could.

"Why? Why are you sorry for our loss?"

I looked at Leander, who had his gaze on me the whole time—kneeling like a frightened little rabbit. I didn't know what to say. What could I say? What was a safe answer?

"Well, I know losing your father must be traumatic and very sad. I..."

Clyde cleared his throat and stood up. I stopped talking. Was this the point he was going to smash me in the face with his fist?

"Look after Bear here, will ya? Our Daddy is dead, and I have to deal with this. They'll be no more fear in this family."

After his request and statement to me, Clyde immediately turned his attention to a vehicle I could hear approaching, gravel pinging off its wheels as it got closer.

I turned around to see what it was as it came to a slow and eventual stop. It was a white Ford Transit with the words 'Private Ambulance' printed on its side. Clyde left Leander kneeling and went over to greet the two men who had just exited the van.

I rushed to Leander, who was wiping his eyes dry. "You okay?"

"I think I'm going to be, yeah," he replied, looking up at me.

"Your Brother didn't pound me into mince meat," I said, trying to... probably stupidly... lighten the mood.

"Clyde's a good Brother," was all Leander responded with standing up. "Come with me."

______________________________

Leander had led me into the closed grounds and over to the living accommodation trailers where his family resided while on site. At the back of the lot, he took me to a long beige caravan. We'd taken a route that avoided the paramedics, police and coroner.

"Welcome to my home," Leander stated, opening the flimsy plastic door.

We went inside. Almost immediately, I saw we were not alone, as sitting on a long thin sofa was another guy, gently rocking back and forward.

"Duke? You okay, Bro?" Leander asked, rubbing his Brother's back with his hand.

"Just thinking," Duke replied, staring into space.

"This is Luke. He's my... well, he's a friend of mine."

Duke looked up at me and managed a thin smile. "Hey," he said, putting his hand up. "Bear? Have they taken Dad away yet?"

Leander went to the window and peered out. I looked too, off into the distance, seeing a stretcher with a black body bag placed upon it being wheeled towards the entrance to the fair. Leander glanced at me and then at his lost-looking Brother.

"Yeah, Duke, he's been taken now. You okay?"

Duke remained still for a moment and didn't look at either of us. "I prayed sometimes." he started, his tone slow and thoughtful. "I prayed in bed that... that something bad would happen to him, just for it to stop. That something would kill him maybe?" Duke looked up at Leander pausing for a moment. "What he did to me.. you all know what he did to me. Maybe I didn't receive the violence. But I wish I had."

My mind was doing overtime at what was coming out of Duke's mouth. Was I hearing right? I stayed silent, but felt the uncontrollable urge to shake my head. Leander went and sat down next to Duke. I stayed where I was, thinking it better and more polite. 

"Bro, I think we all had those thoughts at some point. But you don't need to feel guilty."

"I feel sad I never fixed him. It was my fault."

Leander grabbed Duke by the chin and pulled his head to look at him. "Hey! You never ever think that right?"

Duke nodded, but how much he believed it was another question.

"He was super unkind to you too, Bear. He beat you so bad."

Leander produced a deep sigh and put his arm around Duke. "Duke, Dad was like a TV that had been left on one image too long. Even when you turned it off, the image was still there as a shadow. We all go like that TV when you are set in your ways for too long. You remember how Granpa was? It's no excuse, but we can't undo what his father did to him and the way he was brought up. He thought that was the correct way to do things. But those methods were for long ago, not now. Dad just... well he just never knew any other way."

"I'm so lucky," I said, unable to control my thoughts. I had to say something, knowing the life I had with my father. The contrast was stupendous.

Duke looked at me and tilted his head as if only just realising this stranger was standing near him.

"Are you the one he goes and sees at night?" Duke asked me, out of the blue. 

I looked at Leander for help. None came. I was on my own. If Leander didn't want me to answer one way or the other, he would have stepped in, but he hasn't. He's silent, not giving me any clues. What do I do? I've been silent for a few seconds now. Say something, say something now...NOW!

"Yeah, Duke. I'm the one who Leander goes to see at night."

In what was a moment that just totally floored me, I watched a dance of almost telepathic communication take place between the two of them as Duke slowly took his gaze off me and onto his Brother. They stared into each other eyes for what seemed like an eternity. Duke seemed to be reading Leander's expression, his eyes, lips and forehead until uttered words I was just not expecting in a million years.

"Do you love him?" he said, looking at Leander but chinning a look to me.

"It's erm..." Leander quickly looked at me and then back to Duke. "It's... it's only been a very short time, Duke."

Duke turned his attention to me. "You love him?"

"Hands down, yeah," I said. "I think I have since before we even met."

"Sounds great," Duke said, nodding. "He's a sweet guy, please take care of each other." 

In a moment of throbbing confidence that had just come into my mind, I went and sat down next to Duke.

"And... and you're okay with that?" I asked, shaking a little, emotion building.

Duke shrugged. "We're taught not to be, but each of us, on our own. I dunno, it's quite common, right?"

I laughed a little, nodding. Leander smiled warmly, putting his arm back around his Brother's shoulder. 

"Yeah, I guess it is," I replied. 

Duke got up suddenly, as did Leander. I followed.

"I should go be with Mum," Duke said before walking out and closing the door. Leander took his focus from it and turned to me.

"He's in shock, but it will pass. He's strong. Takes after Mum."

"Leander, what is going on????" I said, almost frantically. "I should be dead right. Hung up and hacked limb from limb."

"Pffft, we're not savages, Luke," Leander replied, probably minutely offended.

"But... but, what you said, about how your family would... I mean, what they would do if they found out."

Leander placed his hands on me, and we sat down on the sofa again. He looked into my eyes and took a deep breath.

"What I'm going to say will seem so callous and probably strange too, but I need you to believe it."

I nodded. "Go on."

"An event like this... my Dad suffering a heart attack and dying is probably one of the very few, if not perhaps the only thing, that could have happened to give me enough courage to throw my hand all in on who I think I am choosing to be. Everyone is in shock. Luke, there are going to be many consequences of what's happened. Consequences that will be different for each family member. That probably makes no sense to you, but when the leader of a Gipsy family dies, it creates shock-waves, and a new order is created. Clyde, my Brother? He is much more liberal. He's now the head of the family. His opinion matters now, and a lot. Getting his support was crucial..."

"And how... I mean, how did you... I mean, at the entrance, he was? I mean, you told him?

Leander nodded.

"It was then, or perhaps never."

"Not for me, please not for me," I said, shaking my head quickly.

Leander tilted his and pulled his lips down. "Partly? But mainly for me. Does it matter?"

"Yes it matters. Wherever this goes, and I hope it goes far and long, I don't want you to look back and feel that I forced your hand. I've done everything by the book, like you asked," I exclaimed, passionately.

"For me then!"

"Don't say that now." I smiled, digging him in the chest. "And Duke? Did you know he'd be here?"

"I chose to bring you here to Duke first, because out of all the family, he is the most street-worthy. He knows stuff, has friends outside the fair and watches a lot of TV. The rest are lucky dips. Who knows how things will go down with them."

"I'm worried."

"So am I, but I'm ripping this plaster off now. Now is the only opportunity."

"Even with Clyde knowing. Like, now he knows, isn't it okay?"

"Ahh, yes, you haven't met my mother yet when she disapproves of something."

"But you're her favourite you said."

"Don't mean shit if I've pissed her off. And I have a feeling, telling her what I am going to, will be up there with the best of them." Leander did manage a laugh. The first one since we last saw each other.

I softened my face and looked into Leander's big brown eyes.

"Hey, just changing the subject? Earlier, I saw you. When you were looking at Duke? He seemed to stare at you for a while, and then... it was just amazing. What was that thing you did?"

"Me and Duke are real close. We can speak with our faces and eyes when we need to. When we did that just then? I was worried, and he knew what I was worried about. I just let go, you know, trusted him. He told me with his eyes that he knew what had been worrying me. And then, with a few changes in facial muscles and a blink, he..."

A tear slowly ran down Leander's cheek as I waited. He looked away from me. "Yes?" I whispered, willing him to continue.

"He told me it was okay. That we were okay, you know? And I'm sad because he's been through so much, and he tells ME, it's okay."

Leander broke down again, and I reached out to hug him tightly. It was all I could do. I was so moved by what had just been explained to me I had no words I could use as comfort. I hoped that just being there was enough.

"I'm so sorry about your Dad, you must have so many crazy feelings going on right now if I am reading everything correctly." I said; my face buried in his neck.

"Don't be Sorry. You didn't know him as we did. He was a great man in so many ways. In business, the way he valued family above all else. The way he treated my Mother, the hours he put in, the rewards he gave out for loyalty. But as a father? Jesus, as a father he was a tyrant that none of us dared cross. He used discipline like it was tomorrow's fashion and used...." Leander shook his head. "I'll grieve for the man who loved my Mother and kept us fed and a roof over our heads. But, I won't grieve for my Father."

I pulled Leander in tighter, telling him symbolically that I understood what he was saying. Then, as I peered out of the window through the slatted blinds that blocked out some of the light, I could see the commotion outside dying down as person after person left with their vehicles and partners. Until all that was left was a short, middle-aged woman wearing a long grey cardigan which flapped in the breeze. She looked like she had just lost everything.

Leander slowly looked up. "That's my Mum. She'll want to be alone right now if I know her."

"She looks very alone," I added, feeling sad for her.

"She adored my Dad. But she's a survivor. You can't be a Sheperd if you're not up for the fight. Well, Luke, she's next on my list. Coming?"

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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Chapter Comments

Well now James...it will be difficult to top this chapter, simply one of your best. It flowed seamlessly towards a point I don't think anyone saw coming. 

Emotional and poignant, and so very well descripted, this certainly lived up to the title of the chapter. But what sums it up so well, at least for me as it struck a deep chord and what resonated clearly for me, was the following...

"I'm so sorry about your Dad, you must have so many crazy feelings going on right now if I am reading everything correctly." I said; my face buried in his neck.

"Don't be Sorry. You didn't know him as we did. He was a great man in so many ways. In business, the way he valued family above all else. The way he treated my Mother, the hours he put in, the rewards he gave out for loyalty. But as a father? Jesus, as a father he was a tyrant that none of us dared cross. He used discipline like it was tomorrow's fashion and used...." Leander shook his head. "I'll grieve for the man who loved my Mother and kept us fed and a roof over our heads. But, I won't grieve for my Father."

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Thanks for the kind words Dr. Yes it was quite moving to write as well. When I need to do scenes such as this i'll put some reflective minor key music on to keep my mood level for the chapter in place. That probably sounds totally strange, but it does help when writing the deep stuff.

I'm really pleased you enjoyed it and it lived up to a good standard. 

I think if you were to take all the children, they each had a different relationship and view of their Dad. I wanted to layer that out in this chapter and hope (apart from Sam and Seb) It played out as planned.

 

Many thanks for the comments again. I really do appreciate the feedback! :) 

 

James

12 hours ago, VBlew said:

Seems like the father was physically abusing all of the boys, which is why Leander was so afraid of what his “family” would think of his relationship with Luke.  Seems like the brothers are on board, now for mom…

 

I think it's all coming to light now what was going on behind closed doors. Thanks Pvtguy :) 

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On 7/5/2022 at 4:04 PM, drsawzall said:

Well now James...it will be difficult to top this chapter, simply one of your best. It flowed seamlessly towards a point I don't think anyone saw coming. 

Emotional and poignant, and so very well descripted, this certainly lived up to the title of the chapter. But what sums it up so well, at least for me as it struck a deep chord and what resonated clearly for me, was the following...

"I'm so sorry about your Dad, you must have so many crazy feelings going on right now if I am reading everything correctly." I said; my face buried in his neck.

"Don't be Sorry. You didn't know him as we did. He was a great man in so many ways. In business, the way he valued family above all else. The way he treated my Mother, the hours he put in, the rewards he gave out for loyalty. But as a father? Jesus, as a father he was a tyrant that none of us dared cross. He used discipline like it was tomorrow's fashion and used...." Leander shook his head. "I'll grieve for the man who loved my Mother and kept us fed and a roof over our heads. But, I won't grieve for my Father."

Thank you, That's really nice to hear :) 

James

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The violent cult leader is dead!  It sounds like Clyde will be a much better family leader.  I want to feel sympathy for his mom, but that woman allowed a man to physically abuse and terrorize her children.  She chose to not teach her children to read and write.  I feel sympathy for Leander, who loves his mother.

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