Copyright © 2019 DouglasDD. All Rights Reserved.
BROKEN BOYS (Part 1)
FRIDAY, JUNE 6
Eddie shivered in the damp wind. His hoodie did little to protect him from the elements. He was grateful the drizzle hadn’t turned to a full rain shower. He had owned a decent jacket until someone at the homeless encampment stole it while he was sleeping a couple of nights ago. Eddie had no idea what the fucker planned to do with it. There was no way the jacket would fit anybody else. Once again, he had something to be grateful for—the SOB hadn’t assaulted or molested him and hadn’t found his money stash.
While he had money, he needed more to be able to buy a jacket at the Thrift Store so he had his begging can out. A passerby dropped a dollar into his can and told him maybe he should get his ass to school instead of begging for drug money. Eddie shrugged. He’d heard worse.
He had run away from his latest group home two weeks ago because he hated the kids who lived there. The adults weren’t so bad, but he thought they didn’t do a good job of making guys behave, including himself. He’d spent the first two nights sleeping in the doorways of businesses located off the main streets, worried that the same pecker head do-gooder would find him and take him back. The ones who found him in the homeless camp and took him to the group home were nice, but he wished they’d stayed out of his business.
Eddie decided to go back to his old haunt in the homeless camp on the hill. He hoped Blue would be there and the pecker heads wouldn’t go searching the camp again for a while. He found Blue’s tent, but nobody was there. He looked up Old Man Gil, one of the few adults he trusted. Gil was a thin black man with a slight stoop, kinky gray hair, and a gray beard. He had helped watch over Blue’s tent when Eddie and Blue would leave for a night. He was always nice to them, sometimes giving them food or booze, and he never once came on to them.
“Hey, little Eddie, welcome home,” Gil grinned when he saw the skinny twelve-year old approach his tent. “Blue says you was picked up by the Nazis and sent to prison or some such bullshit.”
“Yeah, those two peckerheads who keep coming around looking for kids got me and put me in some fucking group home with a bunch of pervert kids who wanted to fuck me all the time.”
“I thought you liked being fucked.”
“Yeah, by somebody I want to fuck, like Blue.”
“Or somebody who pays for it.”
“Nope, I won’t let them fuck me. I’ll give ‘em a hand job or a blow job or they can blow me, but no fucking.”
Gil got up from the lawn chair he was sitting in and crawled into his tent. He came out with a bottle of whiskey, unscrewed the top, and handed it to Eddie. “You look like somebody that needs a drink.”
Eddie didn’t argue and took a big swig out of the bottle. He loved the feel of the warmth flowing down his esophagus and into his belly. He handed the bottle back to Gil. If Eddie had known anything about irony, he would consider it ironic that a boy who had been taught to dislike and distrust blacks by his father had made an old black man into a friend and father figure.
“So, where’s Blue?”
“The kid found hisself a new boy, name of Curt. I think he’s eleven like you.” Blue was fifteen and had been on the streets off and on since he was twelve. Eddie felt an outpouring of jealously flow through him. He was Blue’s boy; how dare he go find himself another boy.
“And I ain’t eleven no more. You forgot that I had my twelfth birthday the day before those assholes picked me up.”
“Oh yeah. Me and Blue couldn’t get you no cake but him and me and Rodney and Wilf gave you a good party and then the next day you was gone.”
“Yeah, I got so drunk and stoned I was out of it all the next morning and that was how they found me since I was so hungover and strung out I could hardly move. Some asshole ratted on me and told them I was there. Fuck, at least I still had my underpants on when they found me, but even that was fucking embarrassing since I’d pissed in them a couple of times. I sorta remember Blue yelling at me for pissing in his sleeping bag, like I gave a shit. I think he fucked me after that but I can’t be sure so he couldn’t have been too pissed off.”
He chatted with Gil a little more about the group home and took a couple more swigs of whiskey. “I would have stayed longer cuz it was nice having a warm bed with sheets and showers and three meals and good shit like that. The adults who ran the home were okay and kinda nice but they weren’t, like, strict enough. But everybody wanted to fuck my ass, but most of them were cool when I said I’d blow them. Then these two dudes Greg and Pat, who were like fourteen, tried to rape me so I kneed Greg in the balls when he was trying to push his pecker into my ass and he was fucking pissed.”
Eddie stopped to breathe and took another swig and was feeling drunk. “Pat was a wuss and wouldn’t help Greg, which made him more pissed, and then two other guys came and told Greg to fuck himself and things got cool. But I knew Greg was gonna be waiting to kick the shit out of me and so the next day I grabbed my jacket and booked. Anyway, thanks for the booze, Gil. You’re really a cool dude for an old guy. I’m gonna wait for Blue at his tent. He’s probably out teaching that new kid how live on the streets.” Eddie was starting to slur his words.
When he got to the tent, Blue still wasn’t there, but a cute boy with shoulder length blond hair, a smooth clear face, and a slender build, was in the tent napping on top of the sleeping bag. Eddie was pleased to see that it wasn’t the same sleeping bag that he’d pissed in before he’d been picked up.
Eddie sat on the dirty canvas floor next to the boy and gently placed his hand on his shoulder. “Hey,” he said quietly. The boy woke from his nap with a startled look on his face. When he saw that he’d been awakened by another boy he relaxed a little.
“Who are you?” he asked groggily.
“I’m Eddie and I bet you’re Curt.”
“How did you know that?” the blond boy asked suspiciously.
“Gil told me.”
“You mean the old dude with the gray beard who likes to get kids drunk?”
“Yeah, him. And he just got me kinda drunk,” Eddie giggled. He thought the blond was fantastically cute and couldn’t stop looking at him. “Did he get you drunk?”
“I wouldn’t touch his shit and him and Blue didn’t try to make me. But it smells like he must have given you some booze.”
“I had three or four swigs. I got a little buzz going but that’s all.” Since he’d taken his swigs on an empty stomach and weighed just under one hundred pounds Eddie was actually a little drunk.
“You must be the Eddie Blue always talks about—the one who lived here with him.”
“He said you were never gonna come back and he was happy to find me for company.”
Eddie wondered how much Blue had told Curt and wondered if he should try to find out what Curt and Blue had done with each other. Instead he asked Curt if he knew where Blue was.
“Fuck if I know. Last night he said he wanted to see if he could get us some money for food and I walked down to the street with him. Some dude stopped to pick him up—I was kinda hiding in this alley, so he didn’t see me.” Eddie knew the spot Curt was talking about.
“Have you ever done any tricks?”
“No. I didn’t even know guys did that, especially kids until I met Blue. Anyway, Blue got in the dude’s car and they drove off and I haven’t seen him today. I had some money Blue gave me and went to buy some food. I took a nap until you woke me up. You surprised me because I thought you were Blue.”
“How did you and Blue meet?”
Curt told Eddie his story. He said he was twelve and in seventh grade. We’re the same age, Eddie thought. Gil got it wrong.
Curt had been living a good life in San Diego with good parents who loved him a lot, got good grades, played soccer, traveled places with his parents and thought he was happy. Then, a couple of months ago, when he was overnighting at a friend’s house, his parents went out to dinner. On the way home their car was hit by a drunk driver. The accident killed both of them and the drunk.
He ended up with his mother’s brother and his family who lived in Seattle. He’d only seen his uncle and aunt a couple of times and didn’t like them or his two cousins. His cousins were fourteen and eleven. “They’re both like really snooty bitches who think they’re better than everybody. They told me that nobody wanted me living with them, but their dad decided to let me live with them because I was getting a lot of money from insurance.”
“That totally sucks,” Eddie said.
“It gets worse. I didn’t get my own bedroom. I was told I’d be living in the basement. I got one of those couches with a bed you pull out to sleep on in the basement with some boxes to put my stuff in. I didn’t even eat with them; they made me eat in the basement. On my third day there, my uncle said we needed to have a talk.” Curt went on to tell Eddie that his uncle said he was giving him a place to live because he loved his sister and it was the right thing to do. Nothing was said about insurance money, but some things were implied. Curt told Eddie that he could tell he was going to be really unhappy but didn’t know what to do about it.
“Then he told me the rules. He said he loved my mom, but he could tell her and my dad weren’t strict enough with me, plus he knew my mom and dad didn’t take me to church. He said all that was going to change. He said that I was gonna get a buzz cut, that I better get straight A’s, that I couldn’t play sports so I could study all the time, that I better not think about masturbating, which means jerking off, and that whenever I did something wrong, he was gonna take his belt to my bare bottom.”
“He sounds like a total asshole,” Eddie observed.
“Tell me about it. I mean I was already getting almost all A’s at home, like he cared. Then he said I needed to learn what having the devil driven out of me would feel like so he pulled off his belt and told me to take off my pants. When I said no, he slapped my face and pushed me down on the couch and started pantsing me. I started crying and screaming and my aunt came down and asked what was going on. My uncle told her and she went back upstairs and then Megan, my oldest cousin came down and she watched my uncle take off my pants and then she took off my underpants while he held me down. I was screaming and crying.
“He made me stand up naked right in front of my cousin, which embarrassed me even more than her taking my undies off. Then he let her touch my dick and balls and she said I had a puny penis with no hair and it didn’t even get hard. He told me to turn around and I didn’t know what to do so I turned around and he said that all boys had the devil in them until somebody beat it out of them and he whacked me three times on my bare butt with the belt and I cried so hard I was shaking.
“That night the only food I got was a piece of bread with some butter on it and a glass of water and my uncle gave me all this devil shit again. Dude, my parents getting killed was bad enough but then I get stuck with this nutcase. He was like ten years older than my mom and was really her step-brother. I know my mom and dad didn’t like him much.
“Anyway, after everybody went to bed, I ran away. I figured being on the street couldn’t be worse than living in a basement and getting my ass whupped for doing nothing but breathing and getting nothing but bread and water for dinner. I won’t even go into my weird cousin stripping me and feeling me up.”
Curt told how Blue found him crying in a nearby park the next day and took him under his wing. He said that was four days ago and he slept with Blue that night but emphasized Blue didn’t try to molest him. “Not that I haven’t messed around with a couple of friends, but Blue said I wasn’t ready to do it with him.”
“The next day Blue told me about what he does a lot of nights to make money and that if I wanted he would help me learn how to pick up tricks if I stuck around.”
After Curt finished, Eddie told his story, including the alcohol and drugs and sex with Peter Astor and his friends. He told about playing sports but hating it. “There were kids on the teams I couldn’t stand. This dude named Aiden Miller was the worst. He thought his shit didn’t stink and that he was too good for guys like me.” He talked about his relationship with his dad. “We both know what a belt on our bare butts feels like and I know even worse than that.”
Eddie finished by telling about running away from his dad, from foster homes, and from the group home. He told about how he got drunk and stoned with Blue a lot and about him and Blue having lots of sex. And he told him about picking up tricks for sex.
“Dang, dude, you’re only twelve like me and you do that? I thought Blue was young, but he was, like, seventeen.”
“A guy’s gotta eat,” Eddie told him. “Oh, and Blue is only fifteen. Speaking of eat, do you have any money left?”
“Just a little.”
“Then let’s eat.”
Three weeks flew by after that. Eddie turned some tricks when they needed money while Curt waited patiently in the sleeping bag for him to come back. They had sex with each other, beginning with mutual masturbation and moving on to trading blow jobs and doing sixty-nines. Curt had never done a sixty-nine, but he had traded hand jobs and blow jobs with a couple of his friends, including the one he was having a sleepover with the night his parents were killed.
Eddie talked to Curt about fucking, but Curt said he didn’t want to do it. Just a few days ago, Eddie would have pushed the issue, but right then fucking Curt didn’t seem right even though he had the cutest ass Eddie had ever seen.
With Curt, Eddie found himself thinking more about somebody else than he did about himself, something he almost never did before. Even though they didn’t realize it, in their own way the two boys were falling in love with each other. Eddie admired how after all the shit Curt had gone through, he stuck to his own moral code without being judgmental. Curt admired Eddie not trying to make him do things he didn’t want to, like picking up tricks, or smoking weed, or drinking booze, or not letting Eddie fuck him. In other words, not making him be the wild boy that Eddie was. Curt thought Eddie was cool, and was happy Eddie stayed his friend even if he wouldn’t act wild with him. For his part, Eddie didn’t mind that Curt didn’t drink or toke or want to help earn money by picking up tricks.
Sometimes Curt got depressed and would break down crying. The first time that happened was the fourth night Eddie and Curt spent together. Eddie was put off by his new friend’s behavior, so he sat on the tent floor and waited for Curt to stop his crying. Eddie felt that only little boys cried, not manly twelve-year-olds. It was only after he was sure that Curt had gotten control of himself that Eddie stripped naked and crawled into the sleeping bag next to Curt, who was wearing his dirty boxers. Eddie kept his back to Curt and tried not to touch Curt’s bare skin too much, which was hard to do in the sleeping bag.
Two nights later, after Eddie and Curt had stripped down for bed, Curt felt the tears building up. He still felt hurt that Eddie hadn’t comforted him the first time he’d broken down in tears, but he said nothing. Curt was not yet aware enough to understand that Eddie’s not soothing him had much more to do with Eddie’s life view that told him he was a tough macho boy who didn’t coddle criers than with any personal animosity toward Curt and his emotional breakdowns.
The two boys sat on top of the sleeping bag, trying not to look at each other while trading constant glances. Curt wanted Eddie to think he was more grownup than he had acted but the tears still built up. Eddie could see the sadness building up and was thinking of getting dressed and walking down the hill to find a trick or to find Gil and get some whiskey. Anything would be better than sitting through another breakdown. But Eddie saw so much hurt on Curt’s face that he found himself wanting to know what the problem was. He surprised himself by asking Curt a question that was as simple to ask as it was difficult to ask.
“What’s wrong, Curt?” Eddie asked with surprising gentleness.
Since Eddie never asked about why he’d cried a couple of days ago, Curt felt that Eddie didn’t care about him as a friend. He had all but made up his mind to run away in the morning even though he knew he had nowhere to run to. As the tears welled up, he wished he was dead.
“I miss my mom and dad,” Curt said in a hoarse whisper. “I wish they were here and I’m so scared and lonely and unhappy and I’m sorry I’m being a pussy.” His breathing became hard and irregular as he tried to hold back his sobs.
Eddie scooted closer to Curt until their naked torsos touched. He wrapped his arm around Curt’s bare shoulder and squeezed. For the first time in his life Eddie Shaffer was reaching out to someone without expecting anything in return. He wasn’t sure if this was what he really wanted to do, but he understood that he was committed. If he cared at all about Curt Jankowski, he was going to hold his friend tight and let him cry.
And cry is what Curt did as he placed his head on Eddie’s chest and let the tears flow. Eddie felt little rivers of water wash down his chest and belly and onto his boxers. Any thought he had of pulling away left him as he let his friend cry on him.
“It’s okay, Curt. I’m here for you. I’m your friend.” Eddie had no idea whose voice was saying that, nor did he know who the tears dribbling down his own cheeks belonged to. All he knew was that he liked Curt, that he wanted to be Curt’s friend, and if crying together was what friends did sometimes, then he would cry with his friend. His few tears had felt weird and wrong and weak, but as he cried and talked and felt the tension leave the boy he had his right arm wrapped around, he realized that instead of feeling weak he felt strong and ready to help the boy who was becoming the first real friend he’d ever had in his life.
The boys eventually fell asleep wrapped together. The next morning as they opened up two individual boxes of cereal and ate them dry, Curt thanked Eddie for helping him. He didn’t tell Eddie that he had been on the verge of running away from him. Because Eddie had acted like a friend a warm feeling coursed through Curt’s veins as he thought about the tough street kid holding him and crying along with him. That time Eddie had been a good friend and Curt was not about to run away from the good feelings Eddie had given him.
The next night they slept together naked like two close friends on a sleepover. The night after that Eddie went out looking to make money and succeeded in bringing back sixty dollars from a blow job he gave to a middle-aged dude with a bald head and a hairy body.
“Are you going out tonight?” Curt asked as he and Eddie walked through the park the next morning after eating their dry cereal and a candy bar for breakfast.
“We need the money,” Eddie said unconvincingly.
“Please don’t go tonight,” Curt begged. “Let’s go to McDonald’s or someplace to eat dinner. I want you to hold me tonight. Please”
Once again Eddie reached out to Curt, this time by giving in without any argument. That night they added another layer to their budding friendship when Eddie gave Curt a tentative kiss on the lips as they lay naked in the sleeping bag. As before when he reached out, he wasn’t sure why he was doing what he was doing, but this time any doubts he had about this being the right thing to do disappeared when Curt returned the kiss with a startling passion. They kissed harder and longer. They lay side-by-side and celebrated Curt’s first French kiss. They felt their cocks come together and they rubbed them against each other and kissed harder until Curt shot his thin pubescent semen on Eddie seconds before Eddie returned the favor.
After that night they held two things to be true. One was that they wanted more of what they had just experienced and two, they didn’t want to be apart if they could help it.
Curt started to help with the money by doing some panhandling downtown. Eddie worried that Curt would be caught by the do-gooder Nazis and taken away, something that was a definite possibility.
The glue that created the bond of love and held it all together was the sex. Neither boy ever knew it could be so great nor mean so much.
And even though it wasn’t intentional, Eddie hadn’t had a drop of booze since he and Curt had their first orgasms together, turning down offers from Gil. He did get stoned once with a trick, however, before he sucked the forty-something man off.
That was the only time he didn’t return to Curt until the next morning and was stunned to find that Curt had been worried sick. When he thought about it, Curt’s reaction made sense, since they hadn’t heard anything from Blue. And now, as Eddie waited for Curt to bring some hot chocolate, they still hadn’t heard anything from Blue.
“You should be in school you lazy brat,” a man wearing an expensive suit said as he walked past Eddie.
“It’s summer vacation,” Eddie said.
“Time to buy drugs then.” The man surprised Eddie by dropping a couple of dollars into his can. He then gave Eddie a look that the twelve-year-old had seen often in men, a look of lust.
Eddie ignored it and smiled when he saw Curt approach with a cup of hot chocolate in each hand. The man turned and grinned when he saw Curt. “Hey, you’re a cutie,” he said. He saw Eddie as an intriguing macho type while he saw Curt, with his long blond hair and smooth, totally boyish face as a total sexpot.
Before Curt could react to the obvious pickup statement, Eddie stepped in front of the man, stood as straight up as he could, and said, “I liked you better when you walked by me like an asshole; at least you were honest. We don’t want your bullshit so go find somebody your own age to fuck!”
“Is there a problem here?” a woman passing by asked.
“No, just a misunderstanding,” the man said as he stomped off.
“What was that about?” Curt asked as he handed Eddie his hot chocolate.
“Like he said, it was a misunderstanding.”
“Are you boys okay?” the woman asked.
“Yeah. We’re just trying to get some money for lunch.”
“Well, you won’t get any from me,” she sniffed as she turned and walked off.
“I swear I hope I don’t grow up to be as weird as those two,” Eddie said. “I mean the dude goes from being a mean asshole to hitting on you for sex.” He looked at his friend and grinned. “Not that I can blame him for that.”
“That guy creeped me out. And then that lady was all nice and then she acted like a, um, like a bitch.” Eddie laughed when Curt said “bitch”. It was the first time he’d heard his friend use a bad word.
It was then that another man in a suit stopped in front of them. At first Eddie saw yet one more man who wanted a piece of his ass. But the man didn’t have the look in his eye that Eddie knew all too well; the look that said, I want to fuck you. What Eddie and Curt didn’t know, was that the man standing in front of their “Lunch money needed” can was about to change their lives in ways they couldn’t imagine.
“I take it you two are hungry for lunch,” the man said.
“Yeah, we got locked out of my house this morning and didn’t have any food,” Eddie said.
“Ah, so you two are brothers then?”
“Um, no, my friend Curt is living with me. Just getting a dollar or so would help us a lot.” Curt knew Eddie well enough by now that he wasn’t surprised by his audacity.
“I see. Well, I won’t put any money into your can since I don’t know what it is going to end up paying for, but…”
“Oh, we’re going to spend it on food, we promise. We just goofed up is all.” Eddie was getting tired of sounding like a beggar even though he was one. He was wishing the man would either go away or get to the point and ask him for a blow job.
The man held up his left hand and said, “In place of putting money in your can, I will buy you lunch across the street.” He pointed to the Emerald City Café.
Eddie opened his mouth to turn down the offer, but before he could say anything Curt said,” Yeah, I guess that’s okay. I’m really hungry.” He remembered the two bagels he and Eddie shared for breakfast. Curt thought that they weren’t eating any better than he had at his uncle’s. The big difference was that being with Eddie meant his butt was getting stroked instead of whupped.
Eddie was ready to give in without protest when the man said, “There will be a price, though.” Here it comes, Eddie thought, angry with himself that he had misread the man’s intentions. They’re all the same, all perverts who want sex from street kids. He was going to let the man make his offer and then tell him to go fuck himself. “The price is I want you to answer a few questions.”
“What kind of questions?” Eddie asked.
“Just questions, like how you can lock yourself out of your house on a drizzly fifty-five-degree day and not have a jacket? That kind of stuff.”
“No, it’s cool. We’ll get enough money for lunch real soon.”
“Please, let’s go with him,” Curt pleaded. “I’m starving. He can’t do anything to us in that café and we’ll both get a free meal.”
The man listened with interest to what Curt had to say because he seemed to be an alert, well-spoken kid. He had no doubt that the two boys were runaways, street kids. Their dirty hair and clothes, the lack of a jacket on a cold day, and just the fact they were begging said it all. He thought the dark-haired boy played the street kid role perfectly, but the blond seemed uncomfortable and out of place.
“Okay,” Eddie said, “but we’re just doing lunch and nothing else.”
“That’s all I expect,” the man said.
They walked across the street when the Walk sign came on and entered the café. They were greeted by a hostess at the door. “Hi, Troy, good to see you. Your favorite booth just happens to be available.”
“Thanks, Miranda. You’re the best.”
Miranda led Troy and the two boys to a booth in the back corner of the café and set menus in front of them. Eddie wondered what was going on. The man named Troy was obviously a regular. Not only that, but the hostess didn’t act at all surprised that he was coming in with two boys whom the lady no doubt had noticed hanging out across the street.
“You can have anything you want on the menu,” Troy told Eddie and Curt. He could sense Curt trying hard not to drool over himself. “As you no doubt ascertained when we came in, my name is Troy. And who do you two gentlemen happen to be?”
Eddie had a feeling he’d be asked that question once Troy said they would have to answer questions for their lunch. As a result, he had been rehearsing this moment in his mind. “My name is Aiden Miller and my friend is Gordy Lansing.”
As an attorney with a lot of courtroom experience, Troy was used to maintaining a poker face when surprised by testimony. Eddie’s little bomb made that very difficult to do. “Nice to meet you. Where do you guys live?”
“Mayfield.” Eddie wanted to name a place the man probably never heard of and thought there was no way he would have heard of a stupid little town out in the sticks like Mayfield.
“Mayfield is a lovely town,” Troy mused. “My brother and my nephew live there.” He elected to skip the fact that his brother-in-law also lived there. His goal was to nudge, rather than flog the boys into telling the truth. He had no doubt that his courtroom demeanor would eat away at their façade. He saw Curt as the weak link and knew he would be the one to break first. “My nephew is about your age. Maybe you know him.”
Before either boy could respond, Lila, the waitress, appeared out of nowhere. She and Miranda had seen Troy work with street boys before. Lila had been watching for his signal to appear.
“Are you ready to order?” she asked pleasantly.
Eddie knew he had painted himself into a corner and was more ready to run out of the restaurant than he was to order. Unfortunately, he had made a tactical error and sat next to the wall. In order to run he would have to convince Curt to move first. He knew his friend was hungry and wasn’t going to move unless the shit got deeper. Then an obvious strategy struck him, one that he’d use as soon as the waitress took their orders.
Eddie ordered a hamburger with fries and a Coke while Curt asked for two tacos and a chocolate milkshake. Troy ordered a BLT and a lemonade. Lila gathered the menus and left to place their orders.
Troy observed the two carefully. He could tell that “Aiden” was looking for a way to get out of a sticky situation. “Telling the truth won’t hurt you,” Troy said gently. “I have two sons, one is older than you and the other is about the same age. If they were here, they’d tell you that the truth rules.”
“I have to go to the bathroom,” Eddie announced. Troy saw his eyes focused on the front door of the restaurant. Eddie started edging toward Curt. “As long as you’re getting up you might as well come with me, Curt.”
“Sit for just a moment longer,” Troy said, his voice still gentle but with a slight edge of steel mixed in. “The hamburgers here are really quite tasty.”
“But, I gotta pee.”
“That will be hard to do after you dash out of the door.”
Eddie decided the best way to get what he wanted was to continue his lie. After all, what are the odds Troy knew Aiden Miller or Gordy Lansing? He thought. “We live outside of town, so I probably won’t know those kids.”
Curt broke his silence. “Yeah,” he agreed.
“I’ll bet you know them from school, Curt.” Troy put a heavy emphasis on Curt’s name, letting “Aiden” know he had used his friend’s name earlier. Troy could see the sweat forming on Curt’s brow. He saw Curt as a good kid who had gotten way over his head in the other boy’s cesspool. He also caught the look on “Aiden’s” face when he realized he’d slipped up.
“My name is Troy Miller.” Troy saw the dark-haired boy blanch when he gave his name. “And by some coincidence my nephew’s name is Aiden. And, believe it or not, his best friend happens to be a boy named Gordy.” Curt started sweating harder, his face a bright red. “You both appear to be bright boys and I bet you can put the pieces of this puzzle together very quickly. As I said earlier, the truth can be freeing.”
As Troy waited patiently for one of them to break, Lila appeared with their lunches. Curt was so hungry for a real meal he immediately dug into his tacos despite his nervousness. Eddie looked at his hamburger, but didn’t move.
“I have to pee,” he finally said.
“Then pee your pants. I’ll buy you a new pair. You look like you could use a jacket, too.”
“Somebody stole mine last night and I got money for a new one anyway,” Eddie said irritably.
“The truth will not only set you free, it will also earn you a pee break.”
Curt swallowed his mouthful. He lowered his head and the tears started to flow. Eddie knew that Curt was about to break. He wasn’t sure if he should be angry with him or grateful.
Curt started into a non-stop outburst, his words broken only by the sobs welling up from deep inside of him. “My name is Curt Jankowski and my parents were killed in a car crash and I was sent to live with my uncle who beat me and wouldn’t feed me and I ran away and Blue helped me and then Eddie helped me and he became my best friend and I don’t want to go back to my uncle and I’m sorry I lied but I am scared.”
Troy patted the space next to him on his bench seat. “Sit next to me, Curt.”
Not knowing what else to do, Curt switched seats. Troy put his arm around the young boy’s shoulder. “It’s going to be okay, Curt,” he said soothingly. “I’ll make sure nobody hurts you. That is a promise.”
When Eddie saw Troy place his arm around Curt’s shoulder his suspicious mind wondered what was going to happen next. “Who are you?” he asked.
Troy pulled a pair of business cards out of his wallet. He gave one to Eddie and one to Curt. Eddie looked down at it and said, “This means you put bad guys in jail, right?” He took the first bite of his lunch. Seeing Troy’s card somehow made him feel safe.
“That pretty much sums up my job description. You both know I would like to hear the truth, but you know what I would like first?”
“I’d like to see you two finish your lunches and I’d like to trust you to use the restroom without dashing out to the street. How does that sound?”
Eddie took another bite of his burger and said, “I’ll be right back.” He was a boy of his word and returned a couple of minutes later. “What would you have done if I booked?”
“I would have thought you were a boy who preferred living in a tent or more likely under a blanket and didn’t care to find out if maybe it was possible to have a better life.”
“You wouldn’t have chased me down?”
“I can only help those who want be helped.”
Curt excused himself and went to the restroom. When he returned, he went back to his place next to Eddie. “Do you really have two boys?” he asked.
“If I expect the truth out of you, then you should expect it out of me,” Troy replied. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and brought up pictures of his two sons. “The older one is Chase and the younger is Logan.” Troy felt a shot of emotion hit him. Tomorrow would be Logan’s eleventh birthday. Troy couldn’t help but note the contrast between what his son would be experiencing compared to what the two boys at the table with him would experience on the same day.
Eddie and Curt each thought Troy’s sons were hot. Troy scrolled to another picture. “Oh, and just so Curt knows, this is my nephew, the real Aiden Miller.” A picture came up of Aiden in a t-shirt and shorts. Curt thought Aiden was very cute while Eddie saw the same asshole kid he’d seen too often in Mayfield.
“Speaking of the truth, I believe it’s your turn,” Troy said.
Eddie thought about creating a new lie, then remembered something Coach Connor had said when he was on the baseball team. “If you tell the truth you will always remember what you said.”
“My name is Ed Shaffer, but everybody calls me Eddie. Are you happy?”
“I am for now since I want you boys to enjoy the rest of your lunch. But I’d like you both to come to my office with me. That will give us all more privacy for truth telling. One of my colleagues will join us so you will both feel safe.”
“What if we don’t want to go?”
“Then it will be like I said before. If the two of you are happy with the life you have right now, I can’t help you.”
“Are you going to be like the CPS assholes who took me away and put me in a group home with a bunch of older boys who wanted to rape me?”
“No group homes. I belong to a volunteer organization that works with street kids like you. Group homes are not what we do, I can promise you that. What I can’t promise you is exactly where each of you will end up, but they will be good places for you.”
Curt picked up on what Troy implied instantly. “You said places. Does that mean we won’t be together?” Troy could sense the tension in the young boy’s face.
“Since you’re not brothers, that is probably what will happen.”
“No”, Curt said with more force in his voice than Eddie had ever heard from him. “I won’t go anywhere without Eddie. He saved me. I’d rather live in a sleeping bag in a dirty old tent and eat stale bread than live in some mansion if I can’t be with Eddie.” Curt took a deep breath. “He saved me,” he repeated. “He’s the best friend I ever had in the world. I’ll run away if I can’t be with Eddie.” What Curt didn’t say was that he would even be willing to turn tricks with the perverts if it meant staying with Eddie.
Troy looked over at Eddie, wondering if the tough kid was going to back the emotional plea of the boy sitting next to him. “I’m with Curt. He’s my best friend ever. I love him. I love him a lot. Promise we stay together, or we won’t come with you.”
“I love Eddie, too,” Curt said with soft-spoken sincerity.
By some silent agreement, nothing more was said while the three finished their lunches. While they ate, Troy came to a decision. He had turned nine street kids over to the members of his organization who placed them in individual homes of members. He never made promises, and while he followed their progress as much as he could, he never saw any of them again. While he wasn’t going to make any solid promises now, he did have a couple of ideas of how he might go to extra lengths to help the two boys who were somehow touching his heart. Even Eddie, the rough tough street boy, touched him by the way he obviously cared for Curt.
His voice finally broke the silence. “Boys, the only thing I can promise you right now is that I will do my best for you. I hope that is good enough for you.”
“It is for me,” Curt nodded. “But I hope it means I stay together with Eddie.”
Eddie reached over and put his left hand around Curt’s right hand, making sure Troy saw what he was doing. “Mr. Miller,” Eddie said, not sure why he used Troy’s last name instead of addressing him as Troy except that it felt right. “Curt is more than just my best friend, he is my boyfriend.” He gave Curt a look that spoke of the deep love a boy could have for another boy, the same look Troy had seen pass between his son Chase and Chase’s boyfriend Dillon. The look was returned in kind by Curt, who was surprised by Eddie’s public declaration.
Eddie looked directly into Troy’s eyes. It was a piercing stare which told Troy that Eddie was telling the complete truth. If Troy had housed any doubt at all about giving these boys his best effort, that doubt vanished. He knew he was witnessing something special and he was being called upon to save two lost souls who were well worth saving. The big question in Troy’s mind was whether he was capable of doing that.
Next: True Love