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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 - 22. Chapter 22 - Don't Ask, Don't Watch and Don't Think About It

Wednesday 10:21pm - Luke


 

Leander and I walked into the old cottage-cum-shack and went through the newly founded ritual of lighting a few candles. The old bashed-up lounge was now flicking in an orange hue and a light breeze blew through the broken glass window. Bear suddenly grabbed me by the back of the head and pulled me in for a deep kiss. It was unlike any kiss we'd shared so far. It was a sensual but desperate feeling. His tongue explored my tongue, and I could feel his warm breath on my face.

After a few seconds, he backed away from me and fell into a seat. His head was down, and he looked miserable all of a sudden.

"Wow," I said, wiping my mouth with my wrist. "That was unexpect..."

"I can't do this at the moment," he said, interrupting me, looking up. "This... this, life is... it's too much."

I stepped over to him, crouched down by his legs, and put my hands on his knees. "Hey, what's happened?"

"It's just this! The hiding, the... the having to go to these sorts of places to meet. My family are angry... no, livid, that I have chosen to put ME before my Dad, and that I've chosen this life. It's all just a mess and I don't think I can take much more, no matter how much I think of you."

I got up and paced the room, biting on my hand, almost going into a panic. I mean, shit, my life was a mess too right now, but... Jesus!

"Talk to me Bear, what's happened since we messaged each other earlier?"

Leander looked up at me again. "Half my family want to disown me right now, Luke. One quarter are angry because I decided to tell Mum I was seeing another guy the morning My Dad dropped dead and the rest are indifferent or suspicious of me. I've got snide remarks going on around me, my cousins stop talking when I appear in front of them. People are just different around me, and I think about what cost I am paying for this."

"This? You mean you and I?"

"Exactly," he replied, putting his head in his hands. "I warned you... hell I even warned myself. I took it too fast, Luke. I thought it was manageable!"

"And Clyde?"

"Pffft, just about my only ally. Even Duke is being weird, and Duke? Jesus he's my wingman... the brother I trust completely. If I lose him as support, I'm finished in my family."

"And Beth?"

"A disaster! She thinks I am doing this for attention. She's emotional at the moment I know. But she's got it in her head that I did this to focus the family on something else. As if I would do that, Luke. I'm not like that. And you know what? It hurts so bad she would even think that."

"Can Clyde do anything? I don't know how your family works, but you seem to have Clyde now as a leader? If he is defending you... this? Can't he get the rest to accept it. Or at least lay off you."

"You don't get it do you, Luke? So you think I just want my family to lay off me and everything will be fine? What about my family talking to me normally. What about them loving me and showing me that love? Laying off me is not the problem. The problem is us, me, you, our being together and me choosing to... Arrrgh, shit I don't know. I just want things back the way they were."

I stood at the window, no glass, of course, and looked out.

"You are the fair, and the fair is you!" I mumbled.

"Yes, Luke, exactly. It's in my DNA. I don't know any other life and losing this one terrifies me to the point of panic sometimes. Now do you understand?"

"I understand panic," I responded, talking to no one in particular. Perhaps myself. Who knew?

The breeze outside washed over me, and I could hear crickets in the distance. I desperately tried to deflate the now raging anxiety pumping through my being. I didn't want to let Bear know what I was experiencing because I didn't want to make this about me. But hell was I suffering at this very moment - about to lose the person I was so in love with. So totally and utterly in love with. 

I walked away from the window and pulled up a chair in front of Leander. His head was in his hands again, and he was silent. I knew just by looking at him that his brain was probably going about a million miles an hour. But I also knew it was probably a lot more stable and organised than mine was right now.

"Can I make this right?" I asked. 

Leander looked up at me, his face wet from fresh tears. "I'm not sure you can."

I felt myself welling up, seeing he was in emotional pain. "I... I love you so much. And... and I know that's crazy, and I shouldn't be saying it so soon, but it really is true," I said, wiping my eyes. "I think I fell for you the very first night I saw you last year, and my feelings have just been laying dormant. For me, this reuniting has been so powerful. It's been such a huge spark that's woken that feeling in me for you. I can't... I mean, I can't accept that it's over before it has even started."

My passionate speech made his tears run more freely, and he leaned over and squeezed my head in his hands. "I need to end this, Luke. I need to sacrifice the very thing that has made me so happy... so so happy. I need to end that to survive, and it hurts. My God, does it hurt."

We were both in floods of tears now. Just us in the flickering orange light that made our wet faces shine and shimmer. I felt so numb. Crushed is the closest word I can get to. Crushed, shattered... shattered into a million pieces.

"What now?" I said, pulling at my hair, frantic looking. "You're walking away. You're ending what we started and walking away. Is the other side of this worth more?"

"Please, Luke. Don't. Please don't take me down that path of asking me to say what's more important. You won't like the answer. Please understand that I have a new relationship on one side, and on the other, I have my whole life as I know it. So please don't make me choose between the two. That's not right. That's not fair."

"Leander... Bear, I'm begging you. Please! Please find a way."

"I'll drop you home," he said, sniffing.

"I don't have a home right now, and I wouldn't wanna go there if I did."

"What do you mean?"

"Do you even care, now?"

Leander got up from his chair and stepped backwards, looking horrified. "Wha... how can you even... of course, I care. I care so much it's like a dagger going through me every time I look at you. I care so much. More than you appear to think."

"I'm sorry, I take that back, i'm emotional. Please, just leave me here; I'll walk back. I could do with the fresh air."

"Luke, I'm not letting you walk back along a dark, unlit country road on your own," he exclaimed, shaking his head. "If anything were to happen to you. Anything!"

I scratched the bridge of my nose and kicked my chair across the room. That sorrow I was feeling... that loss, numbness, crushing and shattering pain? It was morphing, simmering and bubbling to anger. It was a fit of suffocating anger that you couldn't walk away from or forget about. Not anger at Leander, no way. It was anger at his family. At the situation. But most of all, it was anger at myself that I had gone all-in on this new relationship. I'd chucked every chip I had on the table and bet the lot, hoping, assuming... that this would be the one. The man I would grow old with. The amount of fate that was sent my way. The amount of love that built in such a short space of time was no flash in the pan. This felt unique, solid, proper, natural... forever. It felt like forever. And instead? It was crashing down on top of me like an unstable mine. 

I was devastated! Trapped now in my own thoughts. Trapped in this whirlpool that was pulling me down to oblivion. THIS is what loss felt like. THIS is how you feel when you lose everything. THIS is rock bottom!

We were still standing in silence. Someone had to speak. I decided to. "After what you have said, Bear. I don't think I can sit in the truck with you. Please don't think I'm being childish. I just don't think I can. Can you, erm... I mean, feel free to go. Go put your life back together, I really need to be alone now, I feel like I'm losing my mind.

Leander heaved in a breath and walked out sniffing. Once again, the only sound coming to the forefront was that of the crickets until his truck's large engine fired up, and he slowly moved away.

I shuffled my feet, kicking up a thick layer of dust where I stood. I didn't know where to put myself, what to do, or where to go. It was just silent, in more ways than one. 

I decided enough was enough and walked out of the cottage and into the clear night air after blowing out the four candles I'd lit. That moment felt more symbolic once I'd thought about it.

"I thought it'd last longer," came a voice from the bushes just to my side. "I even brought you a beer to celebrate your new thing, remember?" 

I jumped and stumbled a few steps backwards, falling over a heap of half-burnt rubbish.

"What... what do you want?" I asked, feeling the voice sounded quite familiar. I saw a tall, well-built figure emerge from behind his cover and stand a few feet away from me in silence. In an effort to see him, I was squinting and straining, but the light was too dim.

"Funny, ain't it? It's always the person you least expect."

"How did you find me?" I asked, starting to tremble. "And why? Why have you been doing this? Why have you been doing this all along?"

"Don't you have any better questions for me? I mean, of all the personal moments we've shared over the months, and this is all you got?"

"What else do you want me to say?" I asked, getting back up from my fall. "What are you going to do?"

"Do? Hmm, D'you know I don't know yet. I hadn't got that far in my head."

"Well, why are you here? You must want something?"

"You and you're new man have looked quite loved up recently, but what a shame it is, when it all comes down like a crashing building. It's a bit like when you are madly in love with someone, and that person is taken away from you by a snake that's on the prowl."

"Sorry?"

"Jack Austin! Ring any bells?"

I knew who Jack was. He was my first real boyfriend at school. The first person I ever felt mature enough to admit I had real feelings for. But what's he got to do with this? I wondered. Jack and I were not together that long. He was so 'awkward' in this approach to being with someone. I don't think his heart was in it, and we just fizzled out. Over the course of a few months, I learned that sometimes if you want looks, you have to sacrifice a bit of personality. I knew I wouldn't make that mistake again. So yes, Jack Austin was beautiful, and we went out, but doth, fine people butter no parsnips!

I was now frantically trying to work out what Ben had to do with Jack Austin and me!

"Why are we talking about Jack?" I asked, eventually.

"Did you know we were seeing each other? Did you know how close we were? The things we shared? And then, just when it was getting good, Luke Hanson, newly out of the closet burns it to the ground. Whatever you were feeling while you pathetically begged your Leander... your BEAR, here to stay with you? Well, that's how I felt when you took Jack away from me. It wouldn't have been so bad, but after you got bored, or whatever the hell reason you decided to dump him, he never returned to me. You wrecked everything!"

"I'm sorry, Ben, I..."

"Save it, Luke. It's too late now," Ben Flowers replied, snarling. The moon above helped me see a shiny object pulled from Ben's shorts, but I first struggled to figure out what it was. "So, how does it feel?" he growled, getting angry... even pumped up.

"How does what feel?"

Ben stepped forward, causing me to step back. Then, concentrating on what he was saying while looking at what was in his hand, I tried not to escalate the situation.

"How does it feel to lose someone you were so into?"

"Yeah, it's not nice, but Ben, I had no idea, I swear! You were not even on my radar as being gay, or..."

"It was a fucking secret, that's why!" He screamed at me, now shaking. "We were an item in secret, and you somehow came along and stole him, wrecked my whole world, and you think you can just walk away from that. You destroy MY world, and you think you can just..."

"Ben, please, be reasonable. How can I destroy something I didn't know existed. Jack Austin is the one to blame here, right? He should have told me he was seeing someone else at the time we got together. He knew. I didn't. Why are you coming after me like this? Why have you been torturing me," I cried, getting desperate about how this would play out. "Ben, you have to give me some leeway here!"

"I don't have to give you shit!" Ben screamed, suddenly lunging at me with what I had now seen was a knife. I managed to jump out of the way, sending Ben stumbling forward past me and onto the dirt. But he was quick on his feet again, coming at me for another go. I backed up... backed up as far as I could until I hit the side of the cottage. I closed my eyes, thinking this was it, but then I heard a scuffle and Ben went flying backwards after being grabbed by the scruff of the neck.

"Bear!" I cried. "Watch it; he has a knife!"

"Hmm, yeah, I see it," Leander calmly responded before falling to the floor, now wrestling with Ben in the dirt. Leander started to bang Ben's wrist against an old dead log. I heard a crack and saw the knife fly out of his hand. Ben yelped out in pain. I ran over to knife, picked it up and lobbed it as far as possible as the two continued scrapping. I cried out in horror seeing Ben land a massive punch on the side of Leander's head, but Bear just took it and was eventually able to subdue him enough to get on top and pin the crazy bastard down. Unfortunately, that didn't last long as Ben pushed Bear off and they violently switched places. Ben continued to punch Leander in the face, blow after blow. I was amazed at his pain threshold and ability to sustain such abuse without making a sound. Ben now had his hand around Leander's neck, applying a large amount of pressure. 

"I'm gonna fucking end you!" Ben spat at Leander.

"Get the fuck off him," I screamed, trying to pull him off, but he was locked on tight like a Staffordshire Bull Terrier dog.

In full panic mode, I knew I had to help somehow. I was the least violent person you can imagine, and my normal reaction would have been just to run, but I had to do something. So not thinking about the consequences, I found the log I'd seen just a moment ago and picked it up. Then, swinging it as hard as I could, I heard it crack against the side of Ben's head. 

The result was instant! Ben's body went limp, and he fell to the side of Leander, out cold, leaving Leander clutching at his neck, wheezing.

I rushed down next to him.

"Shit, are you okay? Where did you come from? Oh my God, you don't think I killed him, do you?" I reeled off question after question.

Leander sat up as he got his breath back. "I... saw this... this guy... quite close by in my rear-view mirror. My gut... told... me to come back! Some... thing wasn't right about him, especially all the way out here." he panted out. "I'm glad I did. I would never knowingly let anything happen to you." 

"Where is your truck?"

"I Pulled over about three hundred feet down the lane at a farmer's gate. I thought it quieter to come back on foot. Shit, my throat! Who is that jerk? And a knife, really? Jesus, what did he want?"

"It's ridiculous, but crap, can you help me turn him over? I think I killed him," I asked, suddenly worried again that Ben was so still and silent.

Leander helped me roll him onto his side, and I put my cheek down to Ben's lips. The relief I felt was palpable as I felt a moist warm breath touch my skin.

"Fuck, oh thank fuck," I said, falling back on my heels. "I haven't killed him."

"I'll grab some rope from the truck. Do you want to call the police? I'll be a couple of minutes to drive back over here. Don't worry; he won't wake up."

"I don't know, do I? I mean, what if I get in trouble?"

"You won't. It was self-defence. I was your witness. I saw most of it. Luke? Are you going to explain why this happened?"

I looked up at Leander and felt a wave of love rush through me. "You really cared that much you came back?"

"You act like you're surprised? Just keep an eye on him while I get the rope. And please don't ignore my question. I think you can do me that honour at least."

"He's my stalker! He's been at it for ages. This was the endgame for him. I dont know how someone can be premeditated and not think about the consequences of what will happen to them. You stab someone and they live? Eight years. You stab someone and they die? Twenty years. Twenty years, Bear for a point five of a second impulse. The guy has serious mental health problems.

"Crazy," Leander's one word comment came as he walked away shaking his head.

"Bear?" I called after him. 

"Yes?"

"Thanks. Ya know, for saving me."

Leander gave me a sideways smile and continued off into the darkness while I stayed with Ben. I wanted this whole nightmare to be over. 

I decided I would not contact the police.

__________________________

 

I'd helped Leander haul Ben Flowers onto the back of his Ford Ranger before we pulled away from the old cottage. As the journey proceeded, I sat silently in shock, wondering how the hell I'd got into this situation. If you want to call it that - my new love interest had dumped me for his family. And I was carrying an attempted murderer in the back of a truck, unconscious, to the fairground to be 'dealt with!' 

"This is too surreal," I suddenly announced after overthinking.

"Yeah," Leander replied, tapping the steering wheel. "It's not the day I had in mind either."

"Are you okay?" I asked, noticing his frostiness. "Are you angry?"

"Perplexed would probably be the word. And that's a big word for me, but I'm glad I learned what it meant. My father used it a lot. It's a great word for circumstances like this. Perplexed."

"Can I please ask a question that might make you think I am whining in self-pity?"

Leander looked at me and smiled. "Are you going to ask me if I wished I'd never met you or something like that?"

"You read my mind," I replied, looking away glumly.

Leander put his hand on my knee and stroked it gently. "It might surprise you, but you're the best thing that have happened to me in a long time. I needed someone like you to come along."

I looked up and WAS surprised. "But... but all this stuff. Everything that's happened, all since you met me... I mean, even Ben bloody Flowers in the back there? And you still think it was worth it?"

Leander grinned wider. "Makes you feel alive, right though? It's like you see on one of those American hero movies where the guy tries to kill another guy, and then they tie him up and get him chucked in jail."

I tried to smile too, but was unsure if Leander really knew... or understood that I could have been stabbed to death tonight had it not been for him rescuing me. But anyway, I let him imagine the softer version of what had happened those short twenty minutes ago.

"What will you do with him at the fair?" I asked, seeing we were getting near.

"Clyde will know what to do, but he will never bother you again. My family will... well, they deal with stuff like this quite frequently as I said. So the best thing to do is don't ask, don't watch and don't think about it."

"And you're okay with that sort of thing?"

"I never get involved. Like I say, when we have people who try to rip us off, it's dealt with. But I never ask, I never watch, and I try not to think about it. If you're asking whether I agree with it? On the whole, no. But if you don't want to take it to the police, it still needs to be dealt with, or you'll never get away from this."

I thought about what Leander had just said as we pulled into the fair's make-shift car park. Leander brought the truck to a stop and got out. I sat for a minute, contemplating the right thing to do. Sure, I wanted this guy not to bother me again, but handing him over to the Sheperd family? 

Leander came around to my side of the car and opened the door. "Just give me a sec," I said, putting my head in my hands. "Will be he beaten up?" I asked, shaking my head.

"I said it's better not to ask."

Leander stepped away from the car and pulled out his phone. Within a minute or so, I saw Clyde walking out of the entrance towards us. I got out of the truck and stood by Leander.

"He still out cold?" Clyde asked, peering into the back of the Ranger. 

"Yep," Leander replied. Clyde pulled on the rope, perhaps making sure it was tight. As he did, a few more of Leander's family turned up. All male. One looked particularly beefcake-like, and I thought immediately that he would do the horrible bits... whatever they were.

Clyde looked at me. I must have appeared like a scared rabbit, standing there looking like I'd just witnessed a horrible car crash.

"We'll deal with this, Luke. Don't worry; he'll be fine."

"Please don't hurt him too much. He's got issues, I think."

"Luke, he tried to stab you!" Leander declared sharply. 

"I know, I know! I just... well, I don't like violence. I mean, is this really going to keep him away from me?"

"Clyde stepped over and rubbed my shoulder. "Go home, Luke. Live your life. This chapter is done for you."

I glanced at Leander for... well, something. But there was no burning light in his eyes to save us. Instead, he gave me a look that suggested we were done and that he was happy for me to get in my car and drive away.

Which is precisely what I did before bursting into tears.

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

Not sure why I am reminded of the old movie, sort of a soap opera serial but...we go from this...

Polly Burson and The Perils of Pauline - Brothers' Ink Productions

To this...sorta like don't ask....just walk away...nothing to see here...

Perils of Pauline (1933) | The perils of pauline, Old movie posters ...

 

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On 7/9/2022 at 1:32 AM, Summerabbacat said:

Luke deserves better than Leander is currently capable of offering and hopefully he will realise this as time passes. Leander has been raised in an environment of fear, and although the primary source of that fear, his father, is now dead, he is struggling to break free. He adores his mother, a woman who is seemingly incapable of making a decision for herself, who has to rely on the newly-elevated "head of the family", Clyde, to make the decisions. My comments may seem harsh, but she is an adult, and it is about time she stepped up and started behaving like one. As for the rest of his family, what a disappointment. Leander will never find true happiness and self-worth if he lets his family dictate his life choices. 

I hope Luke tries to make peace with his father. His father’s decision to ask him to leave did seem unfair, but Luke should try to rationally discuss his dislike of Elaine with his father. She does appear to be rather presumptuous and insensitive, but her intentions may be genuine. I think he needs to give her the benefit of the doubt for the time being, and if she proves to be a gold-digging harpy, be there for his father when such intentions are revealed.

@James Matthews I am enjoying this story immensely. I wrote a lengthy comment on chapter 18, posted it then lost it due to one of those annoying ads popping up and fucking everything up. I am very impressed with the authentic way you are illustrating Luke’s struggles with anxiety, presenting the facts with empathy and understanding. His self-doubt, internal conversations and see-sawing emotional state rings true. Well done.

Hey Summer,

Thanks so much for the kind compliments and for the impressive review of this chapter. You have made some great points, especially the one about Leander standing up to his family. We're not sure yet (or haven't been told) the true extent of the beatings the younger children got from (Scott) their father. I would imagine that will come out soon (wink wink). 

 

Looking forward to your thoughts going forward. Thanks for ready and for being so kind about the novel.

 

James

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22 hours ago, drsawzall said:

Not sure why I am reminded of the old movie, sort of a soap opera serial but...we go from this...

Polly Burson and The Perils of Pauline - Brothers' Ink Productions

To this...sorta like don't ask....just walk away...nothing to see here...

Perils of Pauline (1933) | The perils of pauline, Old movie posters ...

 

HAHAHA!!! The second picture really sums up the meeting with the Sheperd brothers before Ben was taken away to be "dealt) with. 

Great, Love it!

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On 7/9/2022 at 4:59 AM, VBlew said:

It was very fortunate that Bear saw someone and came back or it looks like Ben would have killed him. The fact he was in the closet and lost his boyfriend was not Luke’s fault. But revenge has a nasty habit, in stories, of making people very irrational.

Revenge does, very much agreed. Add in a kind of obsession and mild psychosis? you got problems!

Thanks for the comments Vblew

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On 7/9/2022 at 2:57 AM, pvtguy said:

I believe Luke didn't want to call the police because he truly believes Ben has mental issues. though what action he wants to take is not clear.  He doesn't want any violence but is also not thinking clearly.  

Bear is in emotional turmoil too - after all, his father has just died and the family are all grieving and taking out their anger on him. 

I am eager to see how this resolves too!

You might be right there, thanks Pvtguy :)

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On 7/9/2022 at 2:21 AM, weinerdog said:

I have to say for all us annoying guessers like myself this wasn't anywhere on my radar very well done.Any thoughts from readers on why no police? So Bear's family will take care of this?Sounds almost Mob like maybe Luke is dodging a bullet not being involved with Bear's family (I know dumb thing to say after a knife attack) I'm going to assume it over between Luke and Bear but after this chapter with this author I don't rule out anything. Can't wait to read more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks Weiner :) 

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On 7/9/2022 at 1:06 AM, chris191070 said:

Wow, that was an amazing chapter.

Thanks Chris :) 

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On 7/9/2022 at 12:55 AM, Okiegrad said:

Wow, what a chapter!!   Loving this series so much!!

Thank you, Okiegrad :) 

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On 7/9/2022 at 12:39 AM, Etotsira said:

Luke, sweetie, go on a self destructive binge. It will help, I’m speaking from experience! But also get with Taz, he’s good for you. You need someone to keep you grounded not an unstable boy who can’t be out. 

You summed it up well there haha :) 

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Great chapter glad Bear saw what was going on and came back to help. He should have been taken to the police and let the law deal with him  he may even have got the help to deal with mental issues he clearly has. How is leaving him at the fair a good idea?

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8 hours ago, mansexlover said:

Great chapter glad Bear saw what was going on and came back to help. He should have been taken to the police and let the law deal with him  he may even have got the help to deal with mental issues he clearly has. How is leaving him at the fair a good idea?

Thanks very much, appreciate the comments :) 

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