"We got to talk about that." Clinton spoke the words without looking at his brother.
Morgan stared at the still night outside. They sat together on the back seat, the car was empty apart from the two of them. They were waiting.
"Yeah, I know, but that was... weird."
Clinton turned his attention on his younger brother.
Morgan started to speak, but failed to get any words out. His face moved to touch the cold glass of the car door. Clinton took him in both arms and turned him around. Tears had wet the boy's cheeks. He didn't, couldn't, look his brother in the eyes.
"Sometimes," Clint began. "Sometimes, there's a backlash, a curve ball. We don't expect it. The game plays out different. But kiddo, you got to face it."
Morgan looked up.
"You... come on. You liked it too much." Clinton stared at his brother.
The boy blushed, his heart was beating against his chest, his mouth was dry.
"It's okay. I love you," Clinton said.
He was still holding him. "Like a brother," he added.
"I ... I'm sorry."
A silent tear glistened as it slid across Morgan's cheek, caught in the final glow of the street lamp which switched off with the early light of dawn.
"You got nothing to be sorry about. Nothing at all. But we got to talk about it. I don't mind. You're my brother. I'll always be here for you."
Morgan nodded his head weakly and wiped away the tear.
"I know about you and Bennie, but this... It was different. It was that curve ball. I didn't hurt you?"
He shook his head, but averted the gaze of Clinton.
"It's okay, you being gay."
He'd said it. Somehow, Morgan was just never going to say the word. But it was obvious. Beyond any doubt. Clinton knew it before tonight, but he locked it away in the back of his head. They never spoke much about The Captain, and whatever went on. He never questioned Morgan about Bennie, just let it drop. Told him, Ben could take care of himself. That was cold. Selfish. But he had to take Morgan with him. They'd always been together.
What happens now? He had no idea. The game was playing out different. It was nearly daylight as they sat, locked in the car, outside the luxury apartment block where Eduardo lived. He'd done what the guy wanted. Morgan hadn't said anything. Morgan always did what Clinton told him, but he never reckoned on the lawyer wanting both of them. That was different. He never reckoned on what that would do to them. How it would change things.
"Is it? Morgan finally looked at his brother: "And you?"
"I don't know. It was a first. I guess I'll take it as it comes."
Morgan almost laughed.
"What's so funny?"
"Take it as it comes. Don't you mean give it."
"Okay, cut it out with the double entendres."
"Meaning. You know, double meanings."
Just then Miguel appeared, opened the driver side door and got in. He turned to look back over his shoulder: "We're waiting for Señor Phillipe," he said.
"When did you know?"
Clint ignored Miguel, continuing his conversation with his brother.
"I don't know. Maybe, it could have been around ten or eleven. Definitely by eleven. But there was this boy Huey when we stayed with old MacPherson."
"Huey? I don't remember him."
"Well it doesn't matter. But anyhow, I think I had feelings for him. I had feelings for the little girl, Melissa. You remember her?"
"I'm not likely to forget that, am I?"
"Guess not. So yeah, I liked Huey and I liked Melissa."
The car door opened again and Eduardo got in.
"Vamonos (let's go)," he said.
It was light now as Miguel turned the ignition and they swung out into the deserted street. The car made its way through the city, a series of buildings and intersections that were a maze for Clinton and Morgan. They were trapped in an unknown place. The game had changed, Gregoire was gone, the last they saw of him was at the nightclub.
The choices they'd never had were gone, disappeared with Gregoire when Eduardo moved them to his apartment. How did that happen? Clinton had no idea, but he would now have to dance to the lawyer's tune, and that looked like being a tango with Morgan. He felt like he was using his brother more than he ever had before, but then again he was also bending to the will of the man who rolled the dice.
"Boys," Eduardo interrupted his thoughts. "I liked you two together. Last night was a definitely hot show. You're lucky."
He grinned and turned back, taking out a cigarette from the holder he'd slipped from his breast pocket. The smoke drifted backwards, rising slowly towards the tiny gap in the rear window that Morgan had open.
"We can play good." Clinton replied.
Eduardo reached to turn the rear view mirror. He stared at Clinton's reflection as he inhaled.
"Oh yes, I know. Your little brother there, he loves it."
He smirked, turned the mirror towards Morgan, but the boy wasn't looking. He heard it all and wondered what was next, but he preferred not to ask. Whenever he did, things didn't get better, they only seemed like it. Nothing lasted. It fell back to what it was before. There was an endless need to escape that was never quite attainable.
The car took a sharp right turn into a narrow side street and pulled up. Miguel cut the motor and opened the door. He stepped around to the back and opened Morgan's door.
"Come on kids. Get out. You've got work to do."
They stepped onto the sidewalk and followed him through a metal door. The daylight disappeared and it was dark once again. Across the large room was a curved wooden bar behind which were shelves stacked with bottles reflected in a mirror. A heavily built guy stopped what he was doing behind the bar and emerged to talk with Miguel. Whatever that conversation was about, they had no idea, Clinton and Morgan simply followed him through a back door, leaving Miguel standing, watching.
"This is gonna be interesting. I don't think he speaks English," Morgan whispered, as they climbed up the stairs.
The dimly lit passageway smelt vaguely of stale tobacco smoke, although a little less strongly than on the floor below. At the end of the narrow corridor they finally hit daylight again, coming out into a small inner courtyard. It was shaded by tall walls and stood empty apart from a clothes line strung across one end.
The man led them back inside and up more stairs to what must have been the top floor of the building, because they could see through a wide archway which led to the roof. He opened an old wooden door.
"Tu cuarto (Your bedroom)," he told them, and a voice from within replied.
"¡Qué carajo! (What the fuck!)"
"Los arreglas (You fix them up)," the man grunted, then turned and left.
Morgan and Clint tentatively entered the room as the voice from the far end stirred, sat up and opened a window. More light filled the room and Morgan had to catch his breath. He was face to face with the most beautiful guy he had ever seen. The young man was half asleep and didn't look happy, which somehow made him all the more appealing. Clinton nudged his brother to move, but didn't fail to catch the reaction.
"Quien diablos eres? (Who the hell are you?)" the young man asked.
"We don't speak Spanish," Clinton replied.
Morgan just stared at the boy, who looked back at him not best pleased. They stayed like that for what seemed like forever to Morgan. His heart was beating, but nothing else in the room moved.
"Who are you?"
The boy spoke with a strong South American accent. They watched as he swung himself off the bed and stood up. Morgan couldn't take his eyes off the slim tanned body with jet black hair and piercing dark eyes.
"Like what you see, chico?
The boy moved towards Morgan, who stood there as if fixed in place. That was until Clinton pushed himself between the two of them.
"What's your problem?" Clinton said angrily.
"¡Nada! Nothing!" was the reply. "Forget it. It's too fucking early."
The boy sat back down on the bed and brushed his hands through his hair. Clinton decided he should ignore the initial reaction and be friendly. This boy was maybe their only link with what was going on; least ways, the only person they could understand, who spoke English. Apart from Miguel and Eduardo who had disappeared, leaving them here.
Morgan continued staring at the boy, his eyes resting on the long smooth brown legs, the faded boxers he had on, and smooth hairless chest.
"Javier," the boy said, introducing himself with a faint smile and glancing back up at Morgan.
"You can take the other bed and that cupboard, but it doesn't look like you got anything to put in it."
"It's a long story," Clinton replied. "I'm Clint, Clinton, and this," he took a hold of his brother, "is Morgan."
"Hi, Clint," Javier smiled. "Morgan?"
There was a little question in the way he voiced the name and the look he gave Clinton's brother. They sat down together on the only other bed in the long narrow room. Sunlight shot across the empty space in a band of light catching little whisks of dust swirling in its beam.
"If you need a change of clothes," Javier waved an arm towards the cupboard at the foot of his bed. "Help yourself."
"What do you do here?" Clinton looked directly at Javier, trying to decide how much he could trust him.
"Serving. And other stuff," he looked away. Not embarrassed, but rather disinterested.
Clinton looked around the room. It was pretty bare, but Javier obviously had the larger bed and Clint noted that.
"I suppose you're the new boys?"
"I don't know," Clint turned his attention back to Javier.
"Okay. I see we need to sort things out."
There was a silence, not uncomfortable, between the three of them.
"Sort out what?"
So far Morgan had not said a word. He was struggling with everything that had happened and with his emotions, which were tumbling around like clothes in a washing machine. Turning over and over, chaotically.
Javier looked at Morgan: "How old are you?" he asked.
Morgan didn't answer he buried his head in his hands.
"It's kinda been a long night." Clinton replied for him. "He's fifteen, if you want to know."
Clinton too felt tired. All He wanted to do right now was sleep. Javier seemed to pick up on this without more conversation. He stood back up off his bed.
"One of you take my bed. I'm going out. I'll be back in a few hours and we'll go get something to eat. He gave them both a weak, but genuine kind of smile. The sort of expression that said he understood.
Clinton got maybe an hour's sleep, but was disturbed by Morgan in the other bed. His brother was animated in his sleep, tossing and turning, mumbling to himself. Having woken up, he silently slipped out of the room and wandered through the archway onto the small roof terrace. The sun was blazing down from an intense blue sky and the city seemed to buzz with activity which filtered up from the streets below. But all he could see, shielding his eyes from the glare, were the mixed shapes of rooves and the few windows of a taller building some way off. The twin steeples of a large church or maybe cathedral dominated one side, towering upwards. There was a tiny covered area to the left which was a bamboo lean-to, it housed a large rectangular sink with an old heavy looking brass tap. To the side was a shower, more or less open, with a hose pipe hooked up on the back wall. Two pairs of boxers and two t-shirts hung from a looping line of string. One of the t-shirts bore the faded emblem of something, but Clinton wasn't sure what, it looked vaguely like a lion with a shield bearing the letters CBC and Leones written in large dark blue letters across the bottom.
He stayed there, sitting down on the concrete floor under the shade of the washroom lean-too, his back pressed up against the whitewashed wall. Idly he juggled the two dice between his fingers, trying, but failing, to figure a plan. He dosed off in the rising heat of the day. It was the church bells ringing in the hour that prompted him to get up and go check on Morgan.
Peering in through the slightly open door, he saw Javier sitting on the floor next to his bed. He could only just see Morgan's upper half, which was enough to glimpse Javier delicately brush the hair back from his brother's forehead with a slow movement of his finger tips. The long slender fingers matched the rest of Javier's body and they appeared to calm Morgan's restless sleep. Clinton actually thought Morgan smiled as he turned, his murmurs grew quiet. After a moment, Clinton silently entered the bedroom. Javier turned quickly and stood up, wiping a hand across his face. He looked at Clinton and wondered what he had seen.
"We should go get some food. I know a place nearby."
"Javier..." Clinton didn't know what he should say. "We have nothing. No money. Nothing."
The young man held his gaze: "It doesn't matter. I will pay."
Clinton sat down on the bed with an air of exhaustion and a feeling of desperation. Javier joined him on the bed. They sat side by side.
"You want to talk?" Javier asked.
And Clinton, the guy who always took care of his brother, who managed everything, but never told. He did. He talked to this complete stranger. Why? Perhaps because there was nothing to lose. They talked quietly together for an hour. They shared their stories. If Clinton didn't say everything, it was only because some things were personal to Morgan. He would have to decide if he wanted to reveal those things.
Morgan stirred and woke up. He looked across at his brother and Javier.
"How long have you two been here?"
"You know you talk in your sleep?" Javier told him, smiling.
"I wasn't sure you could talk," Javier joked, and Morgan blushed deeper.
Clinton grabbed Javier playfully in a headlock, pulled him to his side, and messed up his hair before releasing his hold.
"Don't make fun of my brother," Clint laughed.
Javier stared directly at Morgan, a huge smile on his face.
Morgan's heart skipped a beat.
"Come on Javier. Something to eat. Remember?"
Clinton stood up. Morgan crawled out from under the sheet, then realised he was just a bit exposed and covered himself with his hands. Javier laughed, stood up, and joined Clinton.
"Get dressed. We'll be on the roof," Javier winked.