Drug use and sex work are depicted in this chapter.
15 October (Thursday)
Eddie hung up the phone and turned to the thin man as he hovered nearby. "That was James. He wants to see you in an hour." Eddie stepped close to Lee. "I swear, if you don't come home with cash this time then don't bother coming back." His dark eyes glittered in the light of the naked bulb overhead. "I know James likes to pay with OX, but we don't need that shit; we need money."
Nodding, Lee kept his gaze down as Eddie carried on. "I got it." Lee crossed his arms over his narrow chest. Their heat had been cut off, and that October had not been a warm one. Lee's sweatshirt was worn, stained, with ragged gaping holes at the elbows, so it did little to help with the chill.
Eddie frowned at him. "Take that filthy thing off. Put on your black t-shirt; it's the cleanest." He wrinkled his nose as Lee removed the sweatshirt, sighing when he saw Lee's prominent ribs. "We're lucky James likes skinny faggots."
The young fellow nodded mutely, careful to avoid saying anything that might upset Eddie. He had just healed from the last set of bruises Eddie had put on his body and had no desire to rile the man. Lee dug through the pile of clothes on the floor beside the doorway to the kitchen. Finding his black t-shirt, he pulled it on. He shivered in the coolness of the apartment, chill bumps standing out on his arms.
Eddie walked around him with a critical eye, while Lee held still so he could be checked for suitability. Here and there, Eddie removed bits of lint and other debris stuck to his clothes. Finally, he nodded. "Okay. Isn't James the freak who likes to rim you?"
Eddie shivered. "Ugh. Don't know why anybody'd want to stick a tongue in that used hole." He waved at their squalid bathroom. "Go clean yourself. Put some deodorant on. At least smell good when you walk in the door."
They were behind on the water bill too, but that hadn't been cut off yet. Lee did as he was told and cleaned himself well. He dried, then dressed again in his tattered jeans and his best t-shirt.
Eddie looked him over one more time and seemed happy with what he saw. "All right." He pulled Lee to himself. "Don't forget who you belong to." Eddie gripped Lee's balls through his jeans. Lee grimaced as he squeezed. "You hear me?"
"Yeah. I know."
Eddie nodded. "Good." He let go of Lee's nuts and kissed the younger man. There was no affection or love in it; it was only a way to mark him, to remind Lee of his place. Eddie pushed back from him and smacked his ass. "Go on. And don't come back without my money."
Entering the brick building, Lee sighed, thankful to be out of the cold. While clear and sunny, the outside temperature was in the high forties - not exactly t-shirt weather. He walked quickly down the hall past pairs of doors that led into apartments on the lowest floor. The structure was old but well-maintained, and the gas heater blew warm air on full blast.
Stopping at the end of the hall, Lee knocked on the door of 7A.
Lee did. The apartment was dimly lit with candles strewn about and blackout curtains over the windows. James appeared from the hallway. Dressed only in a pair of track pants, he grinned as Lee shut the door. "There he is." James approached and slid an arm around him. There was a hunger in James's blue eyes as his hand meandered down Lee's back. "Mmmm. I can't wait to taste you."
Lee tried to smile. "You can. But we need to talk payment before we get started." Lee repeated what Eddie had already said to James on the phone. "Eighty for the hour, and you can do whatever you want."
"Oh." James nuzzled his neck and his hand slipped beneath the loose waistline of Lee's jeans. "Are you sure that's what you want?" He whispered as he teased Lee's hole with one insistent finger. "I was thinking we'd take some oxy together, and I'd put my tongue in you until you come on my chest."
Lee wet his lips. "N-no." Eddie's warning rang in his mind. "No, not this time. It's eighty or it's not happening."
James sighed. "All right, fine." He laid his best smile on Lee. "How about a freebie then? I know you love getting off while you're flying, hrmm?"
Free OX? Fuck yes. Lee nodded. "Okay."
James grinned, then motioned at Lee. "Strip. I'll go get your money and the candy."
Lee knew the drill by now. James only liked certain things, and Lee was his regular boy. He took off his clothes and draped them on the back of the couch. Luckily, James's place was clean and warm, and Lee was comfortable.
James returned with a glass of water and his other hand closed around their pills and some cash. He too had undressed and already had an erection. As clients went, James didn't have the worst body. He was in his mid-thirties, a lanky guy with a small beer belly and pale skin from lack of sunshine.
"Here ya go." James gave Lee that familiar little tablet. His mouth watered as he held it.
Both of the men took their drugs, and James handed Lee a glass of water. Lee washed the treasure down and smiled, knowing what was coming. "Thanks."
"Sure." James took the half-filled glass and put it on the coffee table along with the money. "Now then," he licked his lips and lay on his back on the couch, "come over here and sit on my face."
Officer Joseph Wells watched as Lee Sloas, one of his regular troublemakers, staggered and blinked in the fall sunshine. It was early afternoon in Crescent City, and Joseph had been having a good day until he laid eyes on the young street hustler.
"Unit six here. Possible 10-52 at the corner of E and fourth." Joseph spoke into his radio. "Will report back in five."
"Understood, unit six. Unit two is four blocks from your position if needed."
Joseph got out of his patrol car as Lee leaned hard against the corner of the building he had just exited. The officer approached Lee.
Lee jumped and spun to face Joseph. He had his back to the brick building and squinted at the tall lawman. Lee wasn't dressed for the weather, and he had lost even more weight. His brown hair was lifeless and greasy on his head, while his green eyes were bloodshot. A pang of empathy for the young man shot through Officer Wells.
"What?" Lee frowned. "I ain't doing nothing." He slid a little against the building, struggling to stay upright.
"Lee," Joseph stepped close, "what'd your client pay with? Booze? Drugs? What did you take?"
"Nothing!" Lee shook his head. "I quit hustling, just like I was told to." His eerie, dilated pupils told the story to Joseph. "I was just seeing a friend."
Joseph crossed his arms over his chest. "Really."
Lee nodded. The movement upset what little balance he had and he slid sideways down the wall to tumble relatively gently on the grass beside the apartment complex. He blinked up at Joseph, his expression registering only confusion at his new position.
Joseph sighed. "Okay. Come on." He leaned over to lift Lee to his feet.
"No!" Lee flailed his arms as Joseph bent.
It was pure chance that his knuckles cracked into Joseph's cheekbone. Joseph grunted and carried on with his task. He pulled Lee up and leaned the addled fellow against the wall. Lee stared at him, tracking something as it ran down Joseph's face.
The officer felt and wiped a drop of blood away from the cut Lee had opened up on his cheekbone. Joseph kept a firm grip on Lee, his blue-eyed glare spearing the man. "You hit me." His incredulous laugh made Lee cringe. "You assaulted an officer."
"Officer Wells, I didn't mean ..."
The radio on Joseph's chest crackled. "Unit six, what is your situation?"
Lee gulped. "Please." He shook his head. "I didn't mean to."
They both knew assaulting an officer was an offense that would land Lee in jail for a very long time. Joseph's eyes never left the emaciated man's face as he reached for his radio. "Six here, Dispatch. Stand by."
Joseph stepped away from his patrol car and waited for the phone to pick up.
"Hey, Greg." Joseph watched Lee as the man sat dejectedly in the backseat of his cruiser. "So, I have a situation, and I wondered if you could help me out." He sighed. "Feel free to say no, but I have to at least try."
"You have to take me back," Lee whined in the back of the patrol car. "He'll kick me out! You have to take me back, please."
Joseph shook his head as he drove east out of the city. "Nope." He looked in the rearview mirror. "It's either you stay at the campground with Greg, or you go to jail for assaulting an officer. You're lucky Greg agreed to take you in. This is your shot, and if you mess it up then you know where you'll end up."
"Throw me in jail, then! At least Eddie won't think I skipped out on him that way!"
Officer Wells made a disgusted sound. "The less you have to do with Eddie, the better.”
Eddie was all that he had - the only security Lee had known for three years. Without Eddie, Lee would have been on the street. Lee knew how much he owed Eddie, and there wasn't anything anyone could say to make him think otherwise.
Lee’s head swam from the effects of both the three shots of vodka and the oxycodone he had taken while having wild sex with his client. James always got his hour’s worth, and Lee's ass stung a bit from his treatment. “I hate camping,” he whinged.
“Have you ever even been camping?” Joseph turned into the Hiouchi market parking lot.
“No, ’cause I know I’d hate it.” Lee shook his head. "Why anybody'd want to sleep outside makes no sense to me."
Officer Wells snorted with a laugh. He parked and opened his door. “I’ll be back. Be good." Lee made a face at Joseph as he left the car. They both knew he wasn’t going anywhere locked in the back of the cruiser.
A faint vibration from the trunk made Lee groan. Everything in Lee's pockets, including his phone was back there in a ziplock bag. "Fuck." He was overdue, and Eddie was looking for him, no doubt.
A few minutes later, Officer Wells exited the market with a couple of bags. He popped the trunk, and the items went in on top of the other supplies he had already purchased.
Lee tried again when Joseph got into the car. “Officer Wells, come on. Please.” Lee really laid it on. “I’m gonna lose my home if you keep me away from Eddie. Please!”
“You’ll lose your place in Eddie’s apartment.” Joseph put the car in gear and pulled back onto the highway. “But I’ve been there, and that hellhole is not a home.”
Failing to sway the lawman, Lee made a disgusted noise and flopped back in his seat. He spent the next twenty minutes glaring at the back of Joseph’s head, until they turned into a little blacktop loop off of the highway.
The patrol car entered the campground and Greg walked over as it came to a stop. “Hello, Officer Wells.” He kept things formal while Joseph was on duty and glanced at the fellow in the backseat. “Is this our newest camper?”
Joseph got out. “Yup. Greg, this is Lee. He’s here so long as he behaves. The second he doesn’t, let me know.”
Lee clenched his jaw but held his tongue.
Greg noticed the cleaned cut and Bandaid on Joseph's cheekbone, but he avoided calling it out. "No problem. I'm sure things will be just fine."
Joseph stepped next to the car and opened the door for Lee. "Come on."
Lee got out and crossed his arms over his chest. "If I'm not getting arrested then I want my stuff."
"That's fine." Joseph popped the trunk and handed Lee the plastic bag that held his meager belongings.
Lee immediately took out his cell phone. There was a series of texts, a missed call and a voicemail from Eddie. He glared at Joseph and stepped away from him and Greg.
Greg watched Lee as the young man dialed. "You know he's going to try to run, right?"
Joseph nodded. "Yeah." He turned from the items in the trunk to look over his shoulder at Lee as he finally got through to Eddie. "I'm betting he won't have a place to run to once Eddie hears where he is."
They watched and listened as Joseph's theory was put to the test.
"Eddie! Just come get me! No, I'm not under arrest, I'm at that campground. Yeah, the new one." Lee frowned and shot a nasty look at Joseph. "I didn't have a choice." His face fell as he listened. "But … I didn't know it's full of cops." Now the expression on Lee's face changed to fearful. "No! You can't leave me here! Please, come …" He straightened his arm and looked incredulously at the phone, then put it back to his ear. "Eddie? Eddie!" Lee barely held himself together as he tried to dial him again.
"This is going to be interesting," Greg whispered as Lee made a frustrated noise a few feet away.
"If it gets to be too much, then I'll take him back to town. There's a homeless shelter there that will probably take him." Joseph had the trunk emptied beside the back wheel of his cruiser. A tent, sleeping bag, pillow, and various other supplies lay on the asphalt. "Here." Joseph handed over a hundred dollar bill. "For his stay and a few of his meals." Before Greg could say anything the policeman shook his head. "Don't try to say you won't take it. He's going to be some work."
Greg made a face as he agreed. "Okay. Fine." He put the money in a pocket. "I think he's going to need a job - something to occupy his time."
Lee had apparently given up on Eddie. He threw his phone on the pavement and it blasted into a dozen parts. He stood panting, glaring down at the pieces.
"Hey!" Joseph's voice made Lee jerk. "You're picking all that up." Joseph pointed a single finger on target at Lee's feet. "Now."
Defiant for a moment, Lee slumped. Now quiet, he stooped to gather up the sad remnants of his ruined phone.
Lee's little fit hadn't gone unnoticed, drawing the attention of a number of other campers. Luckily, they only had the regular crowd, in addition to Avery from The Raven Project. The blonde teenager looked with curiosity at the men and Lee.
As Lee straightened with the pieces, Avery walked directly to him. "Hi!" He grinned. "I'm Avery."
Lee grimaced and nearly growled at him. "I don't care."
"Lee." Joseph crossed his arms over his chest. "Do you really want to go to jail? Because if you aren't decent to the other campers, and if you don't do everything Greg tells you to do, then that's where you'll end up."
"Oh, jail!" Avery bounced on his toes. "Really?" His eyes widened as he took Lee in. "What'd you do? Is it because you broke that phone?"
"Avery, go on. Let Lee get settled in." Greg put a hand on the excitable boy's shoulder. "You can chat later."
"Oh, okay." Avery smiled again at Lee, almost totally unaffected by his attempt to rebuff him. "Talk to you later!"
Glowering, Lee watched him go.
"Come on, Lee. Let's put that stuff in a bag. I'll have to take it in for e-waste on the next trip into town." Greg motioned at him to follow. "Then we'll pick out a site for your tent."
Lee shuffled behind Greg, bitterly unhappy. "I don't know how to set up a tent," he grumbled.
Greg led him to Mason and Jeremy's Airstream. He looked over his shoulder with a slightly evil grin. "I can get Avery to help you."
As Greg disappeared inside the trailer, Lee sighed.
"No, like this. Here." Avery took the rubber mallet from Lee. "Put it through the loop first, then hammer it into the ground." Lee watched while Avery secured one corner of his newly erected tent to the ground with a little metal stake. "See?" The blonde straightened and smiled at him. "Easy, right?"
"Sure, yeah." Lee took the offered mallet from Avery. He felt nervous as Avery stood over him, watching. Regardless, they picked another corner and he put the stake in the loop.
Lee raised the mallet.
"Wait." Avery knelt down next to him and stretched the corner of the tent so that it would be taut. "There. Go ahead and hammer it in while I hold it."
Lee hesitated. You'll just fuck this up. You always fuck shit up.
"It's okay. Go ahead." Avery's voice had a patient tone and he continued to hold the tent corner. "Even if you slip and hit my fingers it won't really hurt. It's just rubber."
"All right, I'm doing it." Lee grumbled. He tapped the stake and it flopped to the side on the grass. Frowning, Lee grabbed it and tried again. "Fuck." It tumbled away as he clipped it with the mallet.
"Just push it in a little first, so it's sticking in the ground already."
Lee wanted to scream. It was such a simple thing. Why can't I do it? "Fine."
He finally followed Avery's directions. Lee pushed the stake into the dirt as far as he could with his hand, then he swatted it with the mallet. It sank a half-inch deeper in the earth.
A tiny surge of accomplishment made Lee's spine straighten. "Okay." Although it took him twice as long as it did Avery, he tapped the stake with the mallet until it was flush with the ground and securely pinned the corner of the tent.
"Awesome." Avery straightened and grinned at Lee. "Now there are just two more to go."
Greg watched as Avery coached Lee through setting up his tent. Greg hadn't known how long Avery, who was usually easily distracted, would be able to remain focused on the task. So far, it looked as if he was going to stick with Lee until the tent was up.
By now it neared time to think about getting dinner prepared. In order to keep Lee occupied, Greg planned to make the fellow his kitchen assistant. As Avery and Lee straightened to look over their handiwork in setting up Lee's tent, Greg walked up to the site.
"Nice job, guys."
Avery grinned as Greg stopped. "Thanks. Lee did most of it."
Lee and Greg both knew that wasn't true, and Lee frowned at Avery.
Shrugging, Lee put his sleeping bag and pillow in the tent. "Yeah. Thanks." He then hesitated as he held his wallet. "Is there a place I can lock up some money?"
"Nobody will steal your money if you put it in your tent." Greg motioned toward the Airstream. "But if it worries you then we can put it in Mason and Jeremy's trailer."
"It's not my money. I owe it to someone, and it's really important that he gets it." Lee gripped the wallet in his hand. "I wanna lock it up."
"Okay, come on." Greg smiled at Avery. "Thanks for helping."
"Yeah, it was fun!" Avery grinned. "I'm gonna go to my cabin. See you later, Lee!"
Lee watched Avery duck into a cabin, then he turned back to Greg. "What's wrong with him?"
Greg chuckled. "He's just a little excited to meet someone new."
Lee didn't quite buy that, but he didn't argue. He followed Greg to the Airstream. There at the patio table, a tall guy named Mason looked through a Forestry book. Lee had been introduced to him earlier, and he remembered his name because they were very close to the same age.
"Hello again, Lee." Mason smiled and leaned back. He stretched in his chair, and several bones in his shoulders and arms popped as he did.
"Mason," Greg began, "we're going to put Lee's wallet away. I'm gonna lock it up in the upper cabinet, the one above the desk, and then give Lee the key. That okay?"
"Sure. That's fine. Jeremy and I don't have anything in there right now."
Soon, Lee's wallet with the eighty dollars he owed Eddie was safely locked away. Lee pocketed the key to the cabinet and felt a tiny bit better knowing nobody could get to his ticket back to Eddie. While he had the cash there was a chance - he just had to get back to Crescent City.
They left Mason and the Airstream and headed to the camp kitchen. A big, broad man chopping onions smiled as Greg approached. "Hey, husband."
"Howdy, husband." Greg leaned over the counter and kissed him.
Lee had already met the handsome brute with the knife but didn't remember his name. The man nodded at him. "Hey, Lee. Get your tent set up?"
"Yeah." Lee looked at the pot on the stove and the pile of diced onion. "What are you doin'?"
"Clay has done some of our work for us." Greg smirked as Lee made a face. "Yep, that's right. You and I are making dinner for the campground."
"I've not started the water for the pasta yet." Clay took off the apron. "I wanted to get the sauce further along first."
"That's fine. We've got it from here, Clay. Thanks."
Clay gave Greg another kiss, then he left them in the kitchen. Lee shifted from one foot to another as Greg put on the apron.
"Lee, what would you like to do? Do you want to fry up the onions and the ground beef, or do you want to boil the water for the spaghetti?"
Lee’s nervousness had returned. "I … I don't know how to cook." He frowned at the onions on the cutting board. "I only know how to do one thing, and unless you want to stick your cock down my throat, then I'm not much use to you here."
Greg cocked his head at Lee. "Is that why you think you're here? So that we can squeeze some use out of you?" Greg watched Lee carefully. "Be honest. Is that why you think you're here?"
If not for some benefit to Greg, then Lee was genuinely mystified as to why he would have agreed to allow Joseph to drop him off. He glanced at Greg. "I … well, yeah. There has to be a reason you want me here." He suddenly thought he understood. "Do you and your husband want a boy to sleep with?"
"No." Greg sighed. "No, Lee." He motioned. "Come here, around the counter."
Lee walked around and stood next to Greg behind the kitchen counter. Greg motioned at the countertop. "Right now, the only thing I want you to worry about is which you want to learn to do first. Do you want to learn how to make the pasta, or do you want to learn to fry up some ground beef and onions? If you help me make dinner, then you'll get your meal for free, and I'll give you any extra tips in the donation jar - anything not needed to resupply the kitchen."
Wild suspicion ran rampant in Lee's mind as he searched for some trick. He strained to figure out Greg's angle. "Uh. You … you'll pay me to help cook?"
I have no idea what I'm doing. Why would he pay me? Lee stared at Greg. "What if I don't want to cook?"
"That's fine. You can go hang out at the firepit or at your tent." Greg shrugged. "I just figured you'd be bored, and could maybe use a little money."
Lee's mind whirled as he attempted to figure out what Greg got out of the deal. Finally, he blinked. "Okay." He turned back and looked at the onions. I can use money, for sure. Eddie would love it if I brought even more than eighty home. "I … I want to try frying the onions and beef."
Greg smiled. "All right." He reached under the counter and pulled out a dutch oven. "We'll cook that stuff in here. We'll have quite a few campers who pay into the dinner, so we'll need a lot of sauce."
It wasn't long before Lee looked down at browning ground beef and onions in the dutch oven on the stove.
"You want to keep stirring so that it doesn't stick." Greg gently reminded him.
"I was." Defensiveness leaked into Lee's tone, and he resumed stirring.
"Oh. Okay." Greg smiled slightly as Lee redoubled his efforts. "You're doing fine." Greg dumped his pasta into the hot pot of water on the stove. "After we drain that ground beef, we'll add some tomato paste, diced tomatoes, fresh herbs, a little of the starchy water from this pot, and some pasta sauce. It'll be some good stuff."
Lee continued to help Greg with the night's dinner. A bit after five-thirty, everything was done, and a number of campers had gathered at the picnic table near the kitchen in anticipation of the evening's meal. Lee helped serve up the food and watched as bills and change slid from fingers into the donation jar.
After serving their last camper, Greg patted Lee's back. "Take a break. Here." Greg handed him a bowl piled with noodles and covered in the rich, meaty sauce that Lee had made with Greg's help. Lee couldn't remember the last time he had been given so much food. "Why don't you go sit at the picnic table with the other campers?"
"Th-thanks. And here is fine." Lee walked around and took a seat at the kitchen counter.
Lee's mouth watered as he stuck a fork into the noodles and sauce. He brought the steaming, savory-smelling bite to his mouth, barely suppressing a groan as he chewed.
Fuck. This is good. I made this, and it's good! With a bemused smile, he licked his lips and went back in for another forkful.
Here we go. This is the first chapter of Broken, the next installment of Camp Refuge. I appreciate any reads, comments, and ratings you spend on the work. Thank you for taking the time.
This story will update every week, and it already a completed work. So there is no danger of it not going to completion.