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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. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Luke Hanson's Mind & Punishment: A Teen in Despair - 9. Chapter 9 - Starstruck

Saturday (Time uknown) - Taz


Luke is my best pal, and for his journal part, he's asked me to fill in some of the gaps that happened before his story started. I don't mind doing that, even though I'm not much of a speaker. But anyway...

I met Luke in the summer of 2009 when he started at my primary school. We became friends though when we started learning to swim. Although he was in my class, we never really spoke to each other before the swimming started. Our school didn't have a swimming pool, so a bus would pick us up each Tuesday and take us to a secondary school a mile up the road.

The reason Luke and I became friends at swimming is because we both sucked at it, and as far as I know, we still do. Despite our teachers trying to make us learn, we used to stand at the shallow end messing about with the floats while the other kids took it seriously in the deep end. And so, a friendship began.

As you can probably tell, although quite tall and reasonably good-looking... I have to say because otherwise, he'd get a big head... he grew into a sensitive guy who developed issues at school. So my part was to protect him, even though I am three inches shorter and twenty-five per cent less mass. So yeah, Luke is someone who I have come to love because he's not your average guy, even though he says he is. He's not, believe me, not him.

Luke sees the world through a different lens to me, but somehow that makes the friendship work. As the years went by, we grew closer, and now we are rarely apart. I also helped him when his mum died, which deepened an already tight relationship - I remember him spending a lot of time at my house back then. When we go out, I tell him where we're going, and he tells me what to wear. It's that kind of relationship.

So when Luke came out to me just over a year ago, I was sorta shocked but happy for him as I know Luke carries all his issues like a chain around his neck. This was a big one to chop off. School then became very unkind for him and although there was support from various teachers, I usually had to dish out the black eyes to people who were less than flattering with their comments and abuse. I was suspended from school five times, four of which were for helping Luke, and I'd do the same again. That's not saying Luke can't look after himself sometimes. I did see him put a boy's head through the glass of a classroom door once after enduring weeks of being called Gluke, which basically meant Gay Luke. Fascinating how backwards kids can become when their mother is a biological slot machine, and their father is a drunk. It seemed to rub off on Gary Roberts, who ironically was bullied himself because his parents were total mouth breathers. Weird world.

We left school at the same time in the September of 2020 and right in the middle of Covid. Yes, we broke the rules and still saw each other by inventing bubbles that were just becoming a thing. But despite the risks, we were never infected, and neither were our families. Yes, it was very naughty, and the jury will be out forever whether what we did made a blind bit of difference to anyone else.

So there are some facts for you about us. Some facts about me, if Luke has not already dished them out. Okay, so yes, it's true. I look like Kit Connor if you want a baseline. We're actually the same height and build, and apparently, we have the same face and hair. However, mine is a bit less ginger which I am mildly pleased about. It's a very dull fact when you get told it so many times, but it's out there for you now. Erm, what else? So blue eyes, dark blue. Very light skin, some freckles, one tattoo on my arm of a dragon, no piercings; I'm not too fond of needles. Oh, and I take size ten shoes. For anyone outside the UK, you might need to convert that. You'll usually find me wearing superhero T-shirts, and I have a nut allergy. Anyway, I'm done here now. I might be back again if Luke asks me, but hopefully, he won't.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Saturday 7:19pm - Luke


I've run back to my car. I had no other choice. I did look back once, and as expected, everyone was just standing there, probably thinking I had lost my mind. But it's all I could do. A rush of energy had flooded my system, and I had to go somewhere, get somewhere as long as it was out of this fair. It's ludicrous, I know! It's so abnormal, so irrational, so... so frustrating. But it's done; I'm back at my old car and in the process of sliding down the side of the passenger door into a crouching position, crossed-armed and holding my stomach, which was now cramping.

Ridiculous!

~

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  

~

After five or so minutes, I made myself comfortable on the grass next to my car and pulled my phone out. The stomach cramps were now passing, and I tried to call Taz. I owed him an explanation... hell, I owed them all an explanation for running off like that. I tried again, no answer. I didn't know what to do now. Going back in there was not an option for me. I wish I'd stuck to my guns and not went. I knew something like this was going to happen.

Tilting my head up and looking at the sky, I breathed out a long sigh feeling a little calmer now. Until I heard a couple of people talking and getting closer to me. One was Taz?

Huh?

The chatter got louder, and I froze, hearing the other voice.

"Is this him?" The pair of sneakers asked Taz, as I had not dared to look up.

"Yep, that's him." Taz answered. I closed my eyes.

I heard some shuffling, breathing and then contact as I was now being sat next to, very closely.

"Your Pal here says that you've been looking for me, and for a very long time. I feel famous," came the voice I dreamed I'd hear again. Tears were starting to run down my face, which I wiped immediately, hoping they would not be seen. "But you see, unless you're actually inside the fairground, you'll find it hard to spot me."

"Yep!" was all I said, now looking straight ahead. That was before I felt four fingers gently connect to my chin and began to turn my head. I closed my eyes again, knowing he would see my red, wet face, crying. But it didn't matter. It didn't matter because as soon as I opened them and saw his face, that face. Theeee face. His eyes were immense, bright, intense. The smile I was getting was warm and inviting. Then I was able to connect the face to the voice once again as he spoke.

"Leander," he laughed playfully. "Nice to finally meet you, Luke."

"I'm Luke," I said in awe.

He nodded and laughed again. "Yeah, I know. Do you want to stand up?"

"Uh, yeah, I guess." Leander held out one of his large hands and gestured for me to take it. I raised mine slowly, not taking my eyes off his face, and he pulled me up to standing height. Just at that moment, I could see Leo, Lee and Donna heading toward us. Taz quickly ran off and ushered them in the other direction, which they complied with. I let out a breath after holding it for a moment.

"Those your friends?"

"Yeah, we all came together. I never thought I'd see you again. Sorry, that must sound so creepy. Essentially, you've never met me... well, you did, but you have probably seen millions of people since I met you, and I don't expect you to remember everybody, especially me; I'm not special, I..."

"You talk a lot." Leander chuckled, and a wide grin came over his face. "Actually, I do remember you. iPhone eight, ghost train. You were with your Dad, and I saw you when your ride finished. You didn't stop looking at me." Leander let out a gentle chuckle. "Oh yeah, I remember you."

"Wow! Now I feel famous."

"So your pal tells me you were worried about seeing me?"

"Did he say anything else?" I countered, needing to adjust what I was going to say next if I had to.

Leander shook his head. "No, he just said you were a star-struck fan and would I come and put you out of your misery. But, hmm, actually, I think he spoke to my mum first. Well, she's the one who got me off the ride to see your friend, Taz."

"I'm sorry about him."

"So, am I everything you expected?" Leander asked, his tone playful.

"Uh, yeah, if not better, with a year on you."

"I'm kinda getting the feeling you might look at me in a more than friendly way. Am I reading that right?"

"Is it not obvious yet?" I asked, studying the soft one-week growth of light brown hair on his face, which suited him.

"Well, I'm flattered, Luke. Listen, I better be getting back, or I'll have me Mum marching over here to pull me back in. Look, why not come back inside, have a great night with your friends, and see Cherry in the kiosk for some free ride tickets. It was lovely to meet you."

Then he walked back and I felt a wave of loss come over me. The feeling had some of the characteristics of jealousy even. It was a strange feeling that I couldn't locate in my archive many feelings I'd had before.

Taz, who had been nearby but far enough away to give us some time, walked back towards me, a neutral expression marked on his face. I took a deep breath. We were probably both wondering what to say to each other.

"I erm... I told them to go and enjoy the fair."

"I saw, thanks."

"So uh... do you feel better?"

I looked at Taz and paused. "Erm, not really. In fact, I think I feel more lost now than at any time in my life."

"Lost?"

"Dunno really, speechless. I can't explain."

"Try."

"I almost asked when I could see him again. Taz, I don't know him, yet I do in my parallel mind. In fact, in that mind, he should be coming home with me now we've seen each other, not going back to his life at the fucking circus."

"Erm, it's a fairground, Luke."

I shook my head. "I know."

"So what now? You've seen him; he's met you. What now?"

I raised my arms and let them slap against my thighs. "Shit," I chocked out. "I dunno."

"So what do you want to do? You wanna go in there with the guys?"

I shook my head. "I'll just wait here until you guys are done."

"What? Don't be stupid. I'm not letting that happen. Look, wait here. I'm gonna tell the guys you're not feeling well and need to go. They can get a cab back. Between the three of them, it will only be a few quid."

"What about you?"

"Meh, it's just a fair. I'd rather come back with you; make sure you're okay."

"Taz, you were enjoying yourself. Please don't let my stupid antics ruin your night. Go be with the guys."

"I said I'm coming back with you, and we'll get Pizza on the way, right?"

"Yeah, sure...oh Jesus, now I feel bad."

"Oh, shut up, will you? It's done. Just wait in the car; I'll be back soon."

I watched Taz run towards the entrance and then got back into my car, banging my fist on the steering wheel.

What a great job I've done tonight. Excellent. I've finally met my Wonderboy, who, once he found out I was gay, couldn't get away quickly enough. I've let my friends down. I ruined Taz's night because now he feels responsible for me, and now I'm going home to Elaine the dinner lady and my Dad shagging like rabbits in the next room. What a great Saturday night this has turned into!

~

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  

~

Taz was gone about ten minutes when I heard a knock on the glass, and he opened the car door.

"Sorted!" he said, giving me a smile.

"Do they hate me?"

"I hate to burst your bubble, but you were really not going to ruin their night. I saw Leo chatting to no less than seven girls in the eating area, and Lee and Donna were playing happy families on the rifle range stall. They will manage without you."

"Actually that makes me feel very pleased," I replied, glad that I had not dampened the evening for seventy-five per cent of my friends.

"Listen, I know your Dad and Elanie are having an evening in tonight, I remember you saying. Do you wanna stay at mine? I'll let you sleep in my bed." Taz winked at me, playfully.

"Jesus, I thought you'd never ask. I was just thinking how getting home to them stuck together like slugs would be my cherry on the top of this fantastic evening cake."

"Well, I've stuck all my reputation and your hopes on red tonight. Hopefully, later we'll find out if we won or not. Now, pizza time."

"Hey, hang on. What does that mean?"

"Just drive. I'm hungry!"

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. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Chapter Comments

8 hours ago, drsawzall said:

I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer here but Luke is sliding off towards the land of the truly pathetic, I understand he has psychological issues, that he needs help, yet refuses, when offered, to take the necessary steps to help him deal with his affliction. 

I can say he's a very lucky young man to have Taz and his father in his life, but for all intents and purposes, they are nothing more than crutches that enable him, rather than help him.

Luke needs professional help...the sooner the better...

If this thing with Leander goes anywhere I could see Luke's condition blowing that up.But maybe Leander won't be a crutch and perhaps he might be the vehicle that points Luke in that direction

BTW another character whose name begins with an L what up with that?

Edited by weinerdog
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22 hours ago, weinerdog said:

A couple or reactions one of Luke's thoughts "Excellent. I've finally met my Wonderboy, who, once he found out I was gay, couldn't get away quickly enough. Jeez he had to get back to work it wasn't necessarily because of that.But the thing Taz said"Well, I've stuck all my reputation and your hopes on red tonight. Hopefully, later we'll find out if we won or not." That sounds like he put something in motion.Hmm despite what I wrote in the last chapter comment maybe Taz is a qualified match-maker🤞

 

Yeah Luke's a little bit paranoid I think. You make a good point. :D 

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21 hours ago, drsawzall said:

I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer here but Luke is sliding off towards the land of the truly pathetic, I understand he has psychological issues, that he needs help, yet refuses, when offered, to take the necessary steps to help him deal with his affliction. 

I can say he's a very lucky young man to have Taz and his father in his life, but for all intents and purposes, they are nothing more than crutches that enable him, rather than help him.

Luke needs professional help...the sooner the better...

Hardly turned the dial down after all has he? hahaha. I think he needs more help than his general Doctor gave him, that's for sure.

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15 hours ago, pvtguy said:

Taz is one loyal friend!  And yet I totally agree with the Dr.  Luke will get no better without more help.  There are several therapeutic techniques he could be taught as well as medication to help even out his psychosis.  However, I'm still fascinated with the story.

Thanks Pvt, glad you're enjoying it. 

I'm not sure Luke is completely off the rails yet, but that train is tipping wildly as it rushes along. We'll see if Taz will be first to witness the derailing, or will he make the turn?

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13 hours ago, weinerdog said:

BTW another character whose name begins with an L what up with that?

Coincidence, i swear :D 

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Taz may be good at matchmaking, but Luke is too far gone to take advantage.  Luke needs to realise that Leander is not going to be in town long.  Leander does seem to be a nice guy, but Luke won't find out if there can be something more if he keeps running away.  Maybe this will give Luke the motivation to do something. Len is right to suggest that Luke gets help. 

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