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The following story is for adults and contains graphic descriptions of sexual contact between adolescent and adult males and the power imbalance of these relationships. Like so many of my stories, this is a voyage and return.
If you are a minor, then it is illegal for you to read this story. If you find the subject objectionable, then read no further. All the characters, events and settings are the product of my overactive imagination. I hope you like it and feel free to respond.
Fourteen runs through five progressions, with frequent interludes. If you would like to comment, contact me at eliot.moore.writer@ or eliotmoore@tutanota (if you want increased privacy).
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“We at Sun Ray Solar would like to extend our congratulations on your decision to purchase a solar water heating system and join the millions who use this cost-effective and reliable choice for hot water.”
Fourteen is on his back, feet up on the plaster wall, wiggling his toes. Cordell’s small loft-shelf bedroom is way cooler than Keon’s cramped garden boy-shed. This whole Faulkner round house is way-cooler than the King’s square-peg adobe bunk house. More techie than the Montreal dirtbag termite colony.
Fourteen glances at his new friend. “Your dad did a nice job on this.”
“It is mostly Malcolm and Roman’s doing. Pop wanted to haul in a ‘67 Airstream he had a line on.” Cordell explains. “Course, he figured we would not be here that long. He just had a deal to work out, and then we were going to be out of here.”
Cordell told Fourteen all sorts of things the first time Fourteen braved stepping up to Samuel Faulkner’s door – Faulkner being clear of the place at the time. By the end of their first walk, Fourteen was feeling really bad for Cordell. His Chillicothe friends had some annoying-missing parents, but nobody had a son-of-a-bitch like Samuel Faulkner.
The Faulkner place is Inez-room-small and drum-round. Maybe twenty feet across, but it was not built to a ruler. No way, no how were Roman, Angela and Malcolm going to put up with the Pueblo going trailer park trash look. Third house they built together, Faulkner’s place was going to top the rest. They dropped a lodge pole, Abraham Lincoln split it into thin-rough rails, then raised a shed roof 30 degrees, solar-perfection, true south. The curved walls were what they had on hand; used adobe bricks, large rocks, left over sandbags. The Pueblo looked a lot cleaner when they were done. “Pops thought it was a (fucking) waste of time. He would have just stayed in the Barn. Only back then, he thought we would be out of here. They talk about building Ruby-Leigh her own place, just because they have a better plan for the next one. Sloppy old buildings.”
“It’s nice,” Fourteen assured Cordell. Nice, but very small. Just Faulkner’s bed down below, an area to sit, bathroom and cooking counter. The Faulkner’s seemed to eat on the couch. Not much for privacy, just two men on top of each other, like Levi and Fourteen in the Luxor Winnebago. The similarity comes to Fourteen.
Fourteen is at one end of the futon, Cordell occupies the other end with a bowl of popcorn between his knees. It is a new way to spend the mornings after his daily run. The Faulkner’s have hot water. Cordell starts his day sometime after lunch. Accepts Fourteen showing up unannounced. The seventeen-year-old is slouched, legs wide in nothing but some sexy-ice-silk black briefs. He is distracting. Cordell’s dark treasure trail, pelted legs, flexing pecs, 72-hour shadow, very distracting.
Fourteen looks away, clears his throat. “Sun Ray Solar collectors are the heart of the system. Their main function is to absorb solar radiation and transfer the heat collected to the fluid circulating through the system.” A piece of popcorn ricochets off Fourteen’s nose and lands on his chest. He snags it and pauses to chew on it.
“Sun Ray Solar collectors are made of all copper or copper aluminum absorber plate with high performance absorber coating, isocyanurate.” That stumps Fourteen. “Eye so sin a rate, (another pause) anoo, anoo.” He mutters with a frown. “Something back and side insulation board, and safety tempered glass cover. All enclosed in a corrosion resistant galvanized steel frame.” Fourteen is bombarded by a handful of popped kernels. He ignores Cordell, the teen’s popcorn and the heavy pouch between his dark, muscular thighs. “isocyanurate, isocyanurate.”
“Select 15 to 20 gallon per person per day or 15 to 20 gallons per bedroom.” Fourteen turns his head toward Cordell. “How big is your tank?” Then he blushes pretty tangerine across his cheeks. A cum-white puff has perched itself on the long cock-ledge draped over Cordell’s thigh.
“The (fuck) if I know.” Cordell grins just to see Fourteen blush, to watch his motile lips curl into the boyish smirk that melts a heart, makes Fourteen so desirable. Another scoop of popcorn flies Fourteen’s way. “That is pop’s thing. I just take a shower till the hot water runs out. It’s new since I left for the coast. Pop doesn’t mind spending money on (shit) like that. Cordell caught on early that the Pretty-Boy-Scout has a clean mouth. It’s so sweet, he thinks and cleans his own phrases.
“You look like a street person.” Cordell observes critically.
“Hey, they are all your clothes.” Fourteen reminds him. The Sun Ray Solar pamphlet gets tossed aside. A hand rubs the stretched out T-shirt self consciously, or maybe the boy just wants to ruck it up so Cordell can see the flat wedge of tender boy-flesh arrow-pointing suggestive-inviting to his crotch. “Most everything I came with is too tight.” The arms go back behind Fourteen’s head. This serves to advertise the slender man-child further. Fourteen bites his lip. Cordell smiles gently to himself, ejaculates more stale popcorn on his target.
“Get Angela to buy you something. She’d spend the money.”
“I have my own money.”
“I’ll get my own clothes when I get out of here.” Fourteen grinds out. He is the compound-captive everybody avoids pointing out. Fourteen knows Cordell knows. Hell, only Malcolm and Samuel are honest about his incarceration. John Canon brutal-honest in Samuel’s case. Does Faulkner know I know about the van?
“I could buy you some clothes next time.”
“Then I would not be leaving, would I?” Cordell prefers the smile, but angry determination wears just as well on this kid’s face. Fourteen’s tangerine just sells in all its flavours. The sigh is cute too, Cordell notes. He has thought about Fourteen’s problem and the way it dovetails nicely with his own. They can help each other.
“So you wakeboard in Arkansas and snowboard in Ohio. You should try surfing. Del Mar is pretty reliable. It is easy to find a wave there. Black’s Beach is rad. Maybe not for our first time. It is a long hike down the cliff, a lot of extra paddling to the line.” Cordell watches Fourteen’s face. The truth is, he does not surf. $300 for a used longboard. Maybe $200 for a wetsuit. No car to carry it to the surf. Better ways to spend the money Cordell earns. Cordell paints pictures for Fourteen. Two fit teens bobbing on the swells, California sun bleaching Fourteen’s hair corn silk.
Cordell has the boy’s interest. This sharing where they have been and what they know is mutual pleasure. There are the contours of the body to draw two people together, and there are the mind’s contours. Cordell and Fourteen guard their puzzle boxes, shield the complete picture, and lay down considered pieces-patches. They study each other, parsing out the responses so they can select the next piece-patch. Possibly, possibly, their patches will fit together. It is a self-association game, mostly the truth.
Their talk and the stale popcorn flirtation continue under the slanted roof of the Faulkner roundhouse till the heavy front door slams open. Fourteen is silent instantly. Samuel’s voice is talking to another. “Well, you should have phoned me a damn sight sooner.” A pause as Cordell’s father stamps into the room listening. “I don’t know why it matters. It just does!” The heavy perfume of Samuel’s weed reaches the boys in the loft.
“Cordell, get down here. We need to talk.” The man’s voice is swallowed by the fantastic rat’s-nest-weave of non recyclables holding up the slanted roof.
Cordell gets lazy off the bed, offering Fourteen the universal grimace of a teenager set in motion by parental voice. Fourteen rewards his suffering with another cute smile. Cordell step ladder-slides down to his waiting father. The satellite phone that everyone argues for and nobody knows pops has, is on the table next to an ancient Tupperware full of prime bud. Reflexively, Cordell estimates the street value. He wants a moment with the satellite phone badly, knows he could use it anytime. No point yet, Cordell reminds himself glumly. So he phones Johnnie in San Diego, to tell him what? Talking to Sparks will just get ugly. Unless I square my debt to Parker, he reminds himself.
Samuel slides over on the couch, inviting Cordell to sit. As long as he is sitting there shoulder to shoulder with pops, Cordell figures he might as well roll a doobie. He lights it as his father talks.
“Is that little pisser up there?” Samuel glances up to the loft. Cordell allows that Fourteen is visiting. “I need him out of here for the day.”
“No problem, pop the battery back into the Blazer, I’ll run him into Flagstaff, or whatever.” The rust bucket is ready to go, only pops has disabled it. Cordell is not sure the last time it ran.
“Like that is going to happen.” Fourteen is in his cage. Samuel wants to make damn sure he stays that way. “Anyway, you dumbasses running down the road right into what’s coming is exactly what I don’t want happening.”
The doobie is done, inhaled in the usual tension of dealing with pops. Cordell eyes the communal candy dish. This is the best part of life at the Pueblo. It relaxes him. “We are not hiking around the scrub all day to suit you. Give me the keys.”
Cordell is not talking about the ‘98 Blazer. Samuel knows he means the quad. The boys cannot be set loose with that. Full tank, the teens could make it back to somewhere. “Fuck, and Malcolm is going to rag on about wasting gas for sport. I said the kid stays at the Pueblo.”
“The keys, pop.” Cordell is going nowhere, yet, so neither is Fourteen.
“For fucks sake!” Samuel complains in defeat. The ATV key is on a chain with all his others. Cordell rolls three joints while his pops extracts it. “Keep him clear of here.”
“Yeah, yeah, I got the message.” Cordell calls up to Fourteen. “Hey Fourteen, get down here! We’re going quadding.”
Levi Fisher came back from Vietnam and tried the Castro while Tufts or Harvard mulled over his application. He drank the waters of Oasis, savoured the Purple Pickle, but loved Vesuvio Cafe the best. Echoes of Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti over coffee, Levi Fisher felt the high, passed his memories on to Fourteen.
Levi was young and fit, not so straight-laced Boston that the disco-glitter, syncopated four-on-the-floor beat could not turn him into a whirling dervish with some cock-handy stranger. His passion was illegal till 1976, so what did rails of snow and quaaludes matter?
“They mattered a great deal,” Levi warned his fascinating-fascinated young lover. Levi was not above fucking the cum out of some young coke-head, but he owed a lot of people more than that. Nancy Regan says no to drugs, Levi Fisher agrees. “Think it opens doors, expands the mind, improves sex?” Fourteen shakes the bottle of blue pills like castanets, a silent, grinning rebuttal. “The exception that proves the point, cheeky little boy.”
Drunk-fucked by Scott Beck in Albuquerque, Fourteen gets the point. He is Levi-shy of messing with the mind. Levi Fisher ghosts along with Fourteen most cebeci escort places, so Levi is there with him as he disco-rides Arizona with Cordell’s hands teasing him hard. They motor to a vista Cordell has to see. Sit talking on the silent ATV as Cordell trades joints and cigarettes. Fourteen takes a token toke, memories of mad-drunk Levi in North Platte shedding his blood, too drunk to drive away. Fourteen wants Cordell Cameron-sober. Maybe just high on this life-moment with Fourteen.
Say no to drugs, Cordell will admit later when Samuel Faulkner beats on him for letting Fourteen drive the quad back too early. Fourteen is keen to drive. Fourteen is keen to have strong arms wrapped around his waist, masterbating his hard belly and cock with each happy jostle over the rough ground. Fourteen lets his ass lift off the seat just so he can let it grind down across Cordell’s crotch. Just accidental bull riding, Fourteen smirks tangerine. Cordell is fuzzy-horny with the friction dry hump. Fourteen feels it. The day has turned out to be interesting, but the day is not done.
It gets more interesting.
Fourteen leaves Cordell dozing on his bed in the loft. Vacates the Faulkner house before Samuel makes it awkward. Father not like son, Fourteen is sure. Samuel is mercifully absent somewhere. Not a good dad, Fourteen has decided. Jeremy Gates could never talk about his dad the way Cordell does. Greyson Gates, Fourteen holds the man close. My dad, and the word means so much to Jeremy Gates. Cordell deserves so much more, has done so well with the shitty cards life dealt him, Fourteen has to admire his young cowboy for that. He feels so bad for Cordell.
Something new at the Pueblo; dusty white Ford with a golden shield on its door. The vehicle is slid between Malcolm’s Bollinger and Roman’s patina truck. Dear God, a police officer, Fourteen stops in his tracks. Kevlar vest, blue authority, yellow police printed on his chest. The sight of the man is so welcome. Before North Platte, Fourteen ran from the Highway Patrol and hid in Makayla’s eighteen-wheeler. He betrayed Jeremy Gates again in Albuquerque. Drank coffee with Rookie Blue, saying nothing. Orange alert, searching for Jeremy Gates, Malcolm King admitted as much, and Levi is safe with Tuan. There is no reason not to go home now. They were looking for me, they found me, mom found me.
“Officer?” It is hard to get this out without the dry crack in his voice. It is like he has just broken a vow of silence. Jeremy Gates’ voice has lost the habit of speech.
Earnest Miles is sitting on the tailgate feeling copacetic about the day. It is Arizona spring as far as he is concerned, and he is not very concerned about this income stream. The worst part of his arrangement with the Commune cash-cow is the searchlight solar panels facing south. Air traffic sees the flash, gets curious sometimes. Vibrations get back to the center of Earnest’s web. He has to talk glib about research stations, dark government stuff. Dark government is an easy sell. This is the South West, Area 51 sells in these parts.
Scruffy wide-eyed teenage boy. Roman and Malcolm mentioned a visitor. Oh shit, a person blurts before their car hits the tree. This kid will tear the gossamer web right out of Earnest’s hands. He needs another toke.
“Officer, my name is,” There is this pause like the boy forgot the answer. “My name is Jeremy, Jeremy Gates.”
No shit, you’re Jeremy Gates. Earnest thinks sourly. Schoolboy picture grinning on the office wall for months, the whole damn push to find you. Chances are, he has a crumpled copy of the picture in his glove box. Earnest has long odds on the kid showing up in Los Angeles. He is going to lose that pool.
The teenager certainly looks like he is on the streets. His ragged clothes have that never-clean look. Wild hair matches his wild eyes. Jeremy Gates, who would figure this would spoil his day? Earnest looks around for Malcolm or Roman. Malcolm is watching a boy. Watching a boy, who knew?
“I’m Jeremy Gates,” the boy begins again. “I was kidnapped and rescued in Ohio. I mean, I was kidnapped and a man rescued me: another man, someone else. He left me here and I need to get home. I need to call my parents.”
Earnest Miles likes being a Fish and Game Warden. Enforce the laws, be part of the wildlife programs, the solitary patrols through territory people pay to see. Less than fifty thousand a year, the money is not great. When he first rode into the Commune in Y2K and met Malcolm King, an extra $150 a month seemed worth it. Look the other way, ignore the old veteran’s squat-dream. The Boston man had built himself an adobe home. Earnest figured it would melt back into the ground once the monsoon came.
Time passed and then the Montreal couple appeared with their first son. More buildings at the end of the road. More time passed and Roman and his grown son Marco sweetened the pot considerably with their drug business. Looking the other way for Roman, keeping the vibrations down while the dope shuttled back and forth, paid considerably more than Malcolm’s paltry, neighbourhood bribe. This kid was not supposed to be here, Earnest drops a suitable official concern across his face to hide his huge dismay.
“You have been missing for a long time.” Earnest begins. It is probably better not to just sit on the tailgate, looking lazy. Earnest stands up and adjusts his utility belt like he is ready for action.
“Officer, I got stuck out here.” Fourteen forgets he promised Malcolm there would be no trouble. This white truck is his ticket out. That is all he can hold in his mind. “Didn’t you come looking for me?”
“We are all looking for Jeremy Gates. That has been in the news for weeks, months.” Earnest Miles looks significantly at the satellite dish on Malcolm King’s roof. “I’m sure you saw the news.” The boy is frowning at him now.
“Yeah,” Fourteen shakes his head confused-frustrated. “Well, I’m Jeremy.” The door to the white truck is just there past the police officer’s Kevlar covered shoulder. Just let me get in!
A patient voice, stern and authoritative, a voice for a boy lighting fires in the campground, not the voice for some good old boys poaching a deer. At the last instant, Earnest adds reasonable and compassionate. “Son, I’ve talked to Malcolm just now. He warned me you were here. He told me your story. I’m sorry about your grandfather.”
“Right, exactly.” The kid has helped him prove his point. “Your granduncle Levi. Death is hard, I know. My wife is sick with Diabetes. It makes me crazy with worry. We do things don’t we? Things we know are wrong, but think we have to do anyway?”
“What are you trying to say?” This is not the way Fourteen saw the conversation going.
“Son, I know your name is really Kale.”
“Kale Euller?” Incredulity, the story sticks to Fourteen like the suffocating blanket John threw over him in the back of the Bronco. It ties him up better than the multitude of fasteners John used.
“Yes, Kale. Malcolm explained he promised to keep you here till your parents could come for you.”
“Where is Malcolm anyway?” The fury is building. Live and let live, the old man assured him. Nobody will stop you from walking out of here, Levi’s friend promised.
Earnest wants no part of this. This Jeremy Gates is not part of the deal he made with these people. Roman Montreal needs to come back with his dope and handle this nonsense himself. “Malcolm took his grandson’s for a walk or something.”
“I’m not Kale Euller, I’m Jeremy Gate’s. Malcolm will tell you.”
“Malcolm did tell me, son.” Try patience, Earnest decides. “I understand. You saw the orange alerts, hear about this lost boy Jeremy Gates. It was worth a try, wasn’t it? Catch a ride with me? Now think of all the fuss that would cause Malcolm? He would worry. He would have to come get you. If you ran further, he would be in trouble with your parents. You are his responsibility, son.”
“Oh my God!” The boy is almost yelling at Earnest. “You must have seen my face. Look at me!”
“I’m a little fuzzy on faces. Yeah, maybe a little. It is hard to say. Jeremy Gates has been missing since before Christmas. I couldn’t say.” Earnest Miles shrugs his shoulders helplessly.
Fourteen is looking around for Ruby-Leigh, Inez, Angela or Roman. Anyone who will admit the truth. “Take me to the police station. It can all be cleared up there. Radio in for god’s sake!”
“Nothing in the canyon son,” Earnest strokes his chin, trying for reasonable. “If you had some identification, that would help.”
“I do!” Fourteen exclaims. “I do!”
This just keeps getting worse, Earnest Miles curses. Earnest is looking around for Ruby-Leigh, Inez, Angela or Roman, furious at Malcolm for putting him in this spot. Seventeen years, they shared a coffee, shared their lives, trusted each other, and Malcolm tangles him in kidnapping. Jeremy Gates’ was national headlines. Ernest rides back to Peach Springs with the missing boy, he is a national hero for the first few days. After that, someone is going to ask about the Commune sitting here sixteen years under his nose. Somebody is going to wonder how he pays for Misty’s insulin every month.
“Well,” Earnest could just roll his eyes. “That would be a big help.”
“Hang on a second, it”s in my room.” Fourteen points hopefully toward the boy-shed where his black bag sits ready to go under the bed. Then it hits him. Kale Euller is in the gym bag. Jeremy Gates is zip locked in the bag Keon helped him hide. It is so damn frustrating! All the Arizona cop has to do is take him to the police station. Hell, get him out of the box canyon so his radio will work. He turns to plead with the man. “Okay, I’ve gotta run and get my passport and ID. I hid them.”
“Do I want to know why you did that?”
“Just to keep it safe.” Fourteen is dancing on his feet. “Just give me a few minutes. You won’t go will you?”
“Son, this is serious business you are talking about. I will be right here.” Reasonable, compassionate, authoritative, it comes naturally to Earnest. He can feel the relief radiate off the boy like August sunshine. It pulses in waves. The boy grins at him and races off.
What a cluster fuck! Earnest Miles wants to yell, “Roman, where the hell are you?” This Pueblo Commune is a ghost town for the moment. He has never been welcome here, never offered a tour. Malcolm casually mentions the boy, then scoots-limps out with the two grandsons. Ruby-Leigh lets him finish his coffee and a sandwich, pretends to listen to his mundane life. As soon as she can, she cold shoulders him out of her house. The Montreal’s are about their business somewhere, friendly as always. Earnest is wishing he did not ask Roman for two hundred grams of his best stuff. He needs it though. Gifting it around keeps the neighbourhood happy.
Jeremy Gates has thankfully disappeared into the wilderness. That suits Earnest Miles just fine. There is a burst from his radio. “Yeah, what is it?” Nothing much it seems, “Just following up on some heavy tracks north of Frazer Wells. I’ll be turning back soon.” More of nothing much. “Sure thing.” Earnest likes his job. Away from the station, he is his own man, makes his own rules.
If Roman does not get back in sixty seconds, Earnest decides he will leave. The Jeremy Gates, break-everything-wide-open problem will have to wait. No way is Earnest waiting around for the kid to show up with valid ID. The $150 Malcolm slips him will get him fired, pension gone. The $1,000 Marco and Roman pay him each month will land him in jail. Earnest is fit to be tied. Fit to be tied, Misty would say to him.
“You peckerwood,” Earnest wants to grab Roman’s shirt, shake the fat man about like a rag doll. “I just met that boy you dumb hippies are hiding. Some old fart’s grandnephew, my ass. Do you know who you have out here? A world of trouble you are sending my way, you pot-addled piece of Mexican shit.”
“I’m Cajun.” Roman snaps back. Earnest Miles does have a hand on Roman’s shirt. The tail is çeşme escort not going to wag this Louisiana hound dog. Roman is a big man and Earnest Miles is a Barney Fife joke. Roman looks around for pequeno gallo. The Little Rooster is nowhere to be seen. “Where is Fourteen?”
“The kid ran off into the trees for some ID.”
“Take it up with Malcolm. You kidnapped a kid, you French fuck. I did not sign up for that.”
“Malcolm says he is just a confused runaway.” Roman replies, uncertainly. He leaves the world’s problems to Marco and Malcolm. Sure, he listens with one ear to the Phenix family talk. The country is stacking crazy on top of crazy. Roman is content to live like Samuel Faulkner, free from the maddening, crowded world.
“Oh, you are so dumb.” Earnest spits venom. He glances off in the direction Fourteen ran, calculating how much time he has left. “Give me the stuff. Okay, get this straight. You and Malcolm fix this problem. I mean, fix it. People still want this kid. They think he might have moved on, but between Flagstaff and Phenix this boy is smoking hot and dangerous to us.” Earnest takes a deep breath. He is not a bad man. He just has a partner without insurance to take care of, a few harmless habits and desires. Earnest is not a bad man, but he is a man with a problem.
“I’m out of here.” Earnest points a shaky finger at Roman’s bulbous, red nose. “This runaway is not coming back to bite me, understand? No kid yapping on about the game warden who stranded him with a bunch of drug dealing old hippies squatting in the mountains.”
Earnest hits the narrow canyon’s narrowing walls too fast. He jams on the breaks, puts the breaks on his panic. Earnest does not want to know how Roman and Malcolm will solve this new problem. He does not care. Earnest keeps the world outside, that is the deal. Roman and Angela take care of this Pueblo they run. Malcolm is a nice old guy with a nice family.
Then there is the third man living behind Roman in the weird round house covered in black panels. Samuel Faulkner, Earnest knows the name, searched him up. The King family mentions him in passing as if Earnest has met him. Roman and Angela say less. The steady trickle of cocaine and marijuana is all Roman and Angela’s affair. Roman claims Faulkner is just another off-the-grid hermit, like Malcolm. Or maybe more, Earnest cannot tell, sees no point in asking. Earnest’s job is to hold the curious world at bay. He does not want to know the details of the Pueblo. Better to not know how Roman fixes the problem of Jeremy Gates, either.
The truck takes the familiar trail more carefully. Seventeen-years, it will work out, Earnest assures himself. He claws around in the glove compartment, spills the mess onto the floor. It is there, just out of his reach. Jeremy Gates’ picture, smiling before free into a boundless future. Earnest Miles licks his trembling lips. It will work out. It has to work out. Earnest has taken their drug money for five years.
Limits and boundaries, all his life, Fourteen reflects philosophically. Jeremy Gates felt dog-on-a-leash all his life. That was not so bad. You’re a kid, you feel that way now and then. Jeremy-at-home just whimpered goodnaturedly, nothing serious. Jeremy and Shane knew it all changes given time. Growing up is the whole before, now, and after thing.
The August fair was their first time running parent-free. Next year, the curfew is later, maybe car keys. Last year, no Sean Mendes concert for Jeremy, time comes, he will drive a car to Cincinnati on his own. Jeremy and Shane are sensible about it. Wade and Shay do not see this quite as clearly as them. It is always now for those two friends. Jeremy and Shane just grin. They know they will be ready for the after.
Fourteen is ready for morning. You have to stop running off half cocked, he scolds himself. Fourteen knows better, but he was angry again. The adults screwed him over one more time. Fourteen sprinted back to the Pueblo on freedom’s wings. “Bless you, Levi.” Fourteen breathed as he scanned the cards and passport through the dusty plastic. Levi knew Fourteen would need this proof, might need documents to smooth his way back to Chillicothe. It was a solar plexus punch that drove the breath out of Fourteen again. Screwed once again, the police officer was gone.
Fourteen screamed at Roman. The screaming brought Ruby-Leigh to tell him to calm down, so he screamed at her. His voice was raw when he turned it all on Angela and Inez. He might have been a toddler in the toy aisle for all they cared. Keon would have calmed him down, make him stop to think. Keon was missing, another sort of betrayal in Fourteen’s mind. So Fourteen ran off half cocked.
Then there was later on the cliff, dangling by his fingernails. “You stupid,” Fourteen ground his teeth. Then he banged his head lightly on the cold rock. Fourteen hated the thought of Kale Euller. Proving he was Jeremy Gates should have been a synch. There on the cliff, Fourteen remembered that Kale the Salad was eighteen years old. Nobody could keep him anywhere he did not want to be. That is the problem with being fifteen and used to limits and boundaries. All he should have said to the doofus cop was, “Sure I’m Kale Euller. I’m an adult, just give me a ride out please!”
His legs are dangling over the next cliff edge. The bastard cop would have left him anyway, Fourteen realized. Watching the sun set helps to calm Fourteen down. It is not exactly dusk over the Grand Canyon, but Arizona is beautiful. He checks his ankle again, not broken. The rock gave way halfway down. He tumbled down to a ledge. The ledge was wide.
The ledge is a disappointment. He has to keep climbing down and it looks tricky everywhere. Very disappointing, Fourteen sighs. He is not sure where to start the next climb. There is no traffic on the road. Tomorrow is another day. Fourteen thinks he can identify the ranger station Samuel Faulkner pointed at. He will try the cliff in daylight.
The good news is that a wolf is not going to sneak up on him, and neither will Samuel Faulkner. The good news is that Fourteen is not totally unprepared. He was not completely stupid. Fourteen has his black bag and that has his squirrelled goodies. Fourteen was not too upset to forget it when he ran.
The Beretta Nano, was another good thing. He almost left it in the hiding place. It is not a thing to brandish at the skeptical police officer. It is not a thing Fourteen can leave behind. The Beretta Nano is Levi, and all Fourteen has is the Hikari blade, the Nano, and a silver loop to remember Levi by. Sitting on the ledge, Fourteen feels the Nano in his bag. Just try me Faulkner, Fourteen growls silent.
Not so skatter-brained to jog down the highway chasing after the policeman. He took the quad. That almost set him in the direction of the known road back to Frazer Wells, but Fourteen was not sure it had the gas. Fourteen knew he would be easy pickings for the men if he followed that road. Not so suicidal as to run for Samuel Faulkner’s stash of drugs. Fourteen was not sure what lay beyond the service van anyway. Faulkner’s ridge seemed the best way out. The quad would carry him to the ridge. He could climb down. Then road was there just off the cliff. Fourteen could make it to the road.
Too cold at night, even with his hoodie and Malcolm’s old coat. Fourteen had the virtue-matches lifted from Roman Montreal. The shelf had trees and there was bracken. A fire might bring help from across the wide valley. A fire would bring the men from the Pueblo. Fourteen moved off the precipice and limped back to the shelter of the rock.
Before darkness shrouds details, Fourteen paces the limits of the shelf. An easy eight feet back up to the quad. Easy eight down from there, then the six foot drop that twisted my ankle. The easy eight feet up here, then the face with no holds. Fourteen tried a traverse, slipped and fell. The drop down to the valley was more challenging Fourteen sips some water from his bottle, tears a hunk of bread, plans his morning descent.
Cordell’s voice breaks into Fourteen’s thoughts.
It is a shout that flows over the cliff and writhes its way between the trees below. Fourteen imagines himself frozen out there in the darkness, hearing Cordell’s call like the jackrabbit catching the low growl of a wolf. The Faulkner’s have found him. Samuel Faulkner is up there with his rifle. Fourteen was certain. Stealth, like he tried with John and Patrick in the Bronco. No betraying sound, Fourteen warns himself. His hand moves to the Barretto Nano snug in the light holster at his waist. Go Bobcats, Fourteen decides grimly.
“Fuck!” Disgust and disappointment. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.” A shower of gravel and dirt rains down on Fourteen’s head. Cordell and his father must be just above him. Cordell’s voice is welcome. The night is lonely and Fourteen has had enough of solitude. Fourteen listens for the voices. There is only Cordell’s voice on the ridge above.
“I’m down here.” Fourteen admits.
“Fourteen!” The relief is so transparent. “Man, you had me worried. I know you are pissed. I would be pissed too. They are (fucking) assholes. You just ran off.”
“Where is Faulkner?” Fourteen wishes he could as Keon that. Keon would tell him the truth.
“Everyone is everywhere. Roman and Inez took the truck down the road. They figured you would make for Frazer Wells. Pops, well Pops had an idea you would go east. Keon said you might try the cliff here.”
“Where is Keon?”
“Said he would catch up with pops.” Fourteen nods his head as if Cordell could see him from above. “Are you okay, Fourteen? Keon said you would try the cliff, head for the lights.”
Fourteen did not see any light. He pulls himself up on his good leg and steps away from the cliff face. A pine perches precarious on the edge of the next fall. He leaned against it and scans the horizon. It is there. A twinkle red warning light off in the distance. Fourteen wonders if it would be lost to sight in the trees below.
“Are you okay, Fourteen?”
“Yeah,” Fourteen replies. “My handhold gave way. I slid down and banged myself up a bit.” Fourteen leans over, peers down the next drop. There is nothing to see in the dark. He knows it is a killing drop if he cannot find a path. “I should have scouted this out a bit more.”
“You should have just taken the road. Rode the quad right out of here.”
“They would have found me.”
“Roman would let you go. You’re not a prisoner.”
“Then why didn’t the cop wait for me?” Fourteen asks. He has turned so he can look up to where Cordell’s voice comes easy down to him. “They want me here, even Keon. They all want me here. I want to go home.” The last is broken desperation. Fourteen is not on the road beside the stream. This time, Malcolm King is not going to lure him into the Bollinger with promises of Levi. Fourteen will take his chances on the cliff, find the road and follow it to where it takes him.
“I’ll get you out of here.”
Fourteen hears the words. Promises all the time, he is sick of promises. “Why?”
“Because you want to go.” Fourteen likes the finality in Cordell’s voice. Levi and Malcolm were always, yes, but … with him. “Look, I know you want to keep going, but if you trust me, I can get you out of here.”
“Sure, now.” Fourteen likes the confidence. He recalls the heat when Cordell wrapped his arms around him on the quad. “Can you come back up?”
“Do you have a rope?”
“Why would I have a rope?” Cordell’s voice is light with laughter. It is easy, a popcorn-throwing voice in a loft, a friendly voice with a sexy rasp.
“I don’t know.” Fourteen laughs back. “If you had a line, I could tie it off and climb down the rest of the way.”
“No way, dude!” Cordell laughs out loud. “Get back up here. It’s cold, man.”
“Yeah, well that’s a problem too. I can’t see a way up.”
“Fuck its cold!” Cordell’s voice gets louder. “I’m going to toss some wood over the edge. I will toss my lighter cim cif yapan escort too.”
“I have matches.”
“Cool.” Cordell adds happily. “You start a fire. No sense in us sitting in the cold.”
The fire on the ledge casts light across the cliff between them. Cordell’s fire on the rim casts a matching glow along the edge. Fourteen sits with his back to the valley, sharing the night with Cordell and studying the shape of the rocks. This is a summer camp moment wrapped in the incense of trees, Arizona earth, and wood smoke. Companions pushing back sleep, just voices back and forth.
“So no place to climb up?”
“A spot to the right. I might make it up. The first, I don’t know, the first eight or ten feet look easy. After that, nothing. I can’t see any holds at all.” Fourteen adds, “I never thought to bring a rope.”
“I’m glad you didn’t.” Cordell answers. It warms Fourteen more than his small fire. Fuck it’s cold!” Cordell adds. They talk some more.
“Is this long enough?”
Fourteen looks up, as a snake of knotted fabric slithers down the cliff. “Move it over to the left. No, your right.” He climbs up the broken rock until he can just reach the knotted end.
Cordell is braced naked in his gotch, feeling the boy’s weight stretch his muscles and his clothes. Let him come up easy, he reminds himself. If he pulls too hard, Fourteen might lose his grip. Fourteen is agile, as Cordell already knows. The boy grins when his face clears the edge.
Fourteen offers Cordell his coat, but Cordell is content to sit beside the fire while they unknot his pants and shirt. “Cordell, I need to go home.”
“I know. You should go. I will get you out of here.” Cordell is serious. Fourteen is fun to be with. We’ll take pop’s Blazer, cruise San Diego together. Cordell shivers as he frees his shirt. I’ll pay my debts, buy myself free from Johnie Sparks. This boy grinning at him warmed his heart, excited him. Cordell could see the magic building between them. Cordell grins back as the fire pops and the born-to-trouble sparks fly upward.
Cordell is seriously handsome in the firelight. The young man’s muscles ripple on a body not yet grown thick with age. Shadows and light play across his body. His natural darkness is fey. Cordell has the vague unworldliness of a woodland elf. Cordell can get him out of many things, Fourteen decides. He hurdles in the leather coat, but what he wants to do is bare his body like Cordell did. They can dance around the fire between them. Two boys caught between fire and ice.
Fourteen’s tangerine leaves Cordell unusually excited. Cordell can cast off his San Diego worries by the fire and the glitter in the boy’s eyes. The now intoxication of near-nakedness, night chill, Fourteen-fire heat is an after promise to the tired youth. Cordell stands up. He is heavy with the possibilities. Fourteen’s eyes follow his movements as he draws his clothes back on.
Nobody says anything about it. Things did not go back to normal. He does not think about Inez. He cannot sleep with her again. Just curiosity, of course, Fourteen wanders by the ATV to confirm that the key is absent.
It is hard to live with people you cannot stand. Everything they do makes you makes you mad. The way Malcolm drinks his coffee, or the way every once in a while Roman takes a deep breath and then Puffs it out through his lips. Fourteen cannot watch Asher yawn or stretch to scratch. Fourteen cannot stand to be close enough to Inez that they might touch. He feels as if Keon and Vondell had become his wardens, waiting for him to bolt away again. Keon’s disappointment is evident. It fails to move Fourteen. Fourteen seethes each time Samuel Faulkner cuffs Cordell with his voice. He cannot stand the Pueblo.
“Not the music itself, you idiot.” Fourteen laughs. They sit side by side on the stained couch listening to Garth Brook’s The Dance. It is a thing Fourteen notes with little understanding. Levi Fisher’s cassette tapes replaying the old man’s teens and twenties. Malcolm King relentlessly Motown or a Bluesy mix. Samuel Faulkner’s thing is Country. Reba McEntire’s Is There Life Out There has a title that speaks to Fourteen and Cordell. They drop the title into conversation. It is a reminder that they will leave together. Faith Hill’s The Kiss, Cordell can croon that one out for Fourteen.
♪♫♬ I don’t want another heartbreak
I don’t need another turn to cry ♪♫♬
I don’t want to learn the hard way
Baby, hello, oh, no, goodbye ♪♫♬
But you got me like a rocket
♪♫♬ Shooting straight across the sky.
“Nothing new in this house. Pop’s just plays the same stuff over and over.” Cordell tosses a battered cassette box toward the player.
“Oh my God! Levi too, you know?” Fourteen blushes.
“I don’t have much of a voice.” Cordell admits.
But you do, Cordell. Fourteen cannot say why he stops himself from saying the words aloud, any more than he can say why he stops himself from taking Cordell”s hand. The Country music stops with a rude click leaving them in silence. Maybe he can say something about his feelings. It is hard to be honest with Cordell. Fourteen knows he is not innocent. This is the Cameron Kruger dance once again.
Fourteen is starting to realize he needs to choose his words carefully with Cordell. I’m gay. I could kiss you, just saying. That might make magic, if he just keeps stringing words together. If he can create a story about himself. A soft story about Jeremy Gates, something could be real between them.
It is daunting to think about, because the Jeremy Gates’ Chillicothe anguish-fear-desire is overwhelming. Life in Chillicothe was Shane, Oliver, and the dream boys that followed. Chillicothe was closet-safe till Patrick snatched him away; safe but unrequited. Levi was always going to leave him. Keon is just-a-friend wrong. Jeremy Gates wants to dance the disco dervish like Levi Fisher, but what does Cordell Faulkner want?. Fourteen sighs heavily.
Cordell does not look up. He catches the stretched sleeve of Fourteen’s worn hoodie in his fingers, pulls until Fourteen’s hand is hanging in the space between them. Then Cordell slides his fingers into Fourteen’s open palm; and Fourteen disintegrates.
The anguished-memories of wanting the impossible slip away. . How many chances passed me by? Fourteen wonders. Maybe, he thinks, he just did not recognize all the possibilities in simply taking someone’s hand. Cordell was so brave to put himself out like that. Fourteen has to close his eyes. Fourteen chances a small squeeze.
When Cordell touched his hand, Fourteen finally understood. He knew. Two people just have to fit those different puzzle pieces together. You need the right password or your debit card will be expelled from the cash machine. Each time you slide your everything in, you worry the ATM will swallow your card. Offer accepted, transaction complete.
Cordell turns Fourteen’s hand over. He traces the cupped palm as if he could read the boy’s before and after in a few lines. Fourteen opens his eyes, jackrabbit wondering where the older boy will take them. Cordell smiles and simply lets his finger trace Fourteen’s offered hand. It might be the boy’s whole body he explores.
Fourteen likes to think of Cordell, and the way their palms fit like jigsaw puzzle pieces. They are Yin and Yang, so different, yet they seemed to carry a kernel of each other deep within. Here in the hated Pueblo, Fourteen’s heart is light. Cordell is touching him and Fourteen feels like he will float up out of his body.
Body of Work
If you are here on the midway then you have come to the carnival seeking entertainment, company and of course excitement. There are a dazzling array of rides suited your every mood. There are gentle rides that conjure up soft memories of youth and rides that lift you from the dreariness of your grind and send you flying ageless through the night. There are also the side shows…
If you are here then you are in the house of mirrors captivated by the reflections around you. They are all curved in some way. Every mirror is imperfect and every mirror draws your attention to something new. The mirrors magnify or diminish parts of what we think is real. Sometimes you like what you see and sometimes you don”t. Sometimes you believe what you see and sometimes you can”t be sure what has been distorted. The distortions are intentional and we flatter ourselves into believing the mirrors only stand arrayed like this in such places as the midway. Before you go back to the mirrors of your life step closer to this one.
Eliot Moore, 2007
Here is a summary of the wide variety of other stories I have published.
Dark Thoughts Rising: This story was posted to Nifty in April 2017. Keegan Bressler (14) and his best friends Rey and Davon rape Keegan’s stepbrother Rowan Pense (12) during the course of a drunken party. The three boys embark on a desperate struggle to keep the shattered and confused Rowan from revealing their crime. As events unfold, Keegan and Davon fail to fight their inner demons. Rowan begins his own journey, hiding the truth from his closest friend, Hayden, until he reaches the breaking point.
Awakenings: This ghost story was posted to Nifty in November 2016. Middle aged divorcee Jake begins renovating a 1900’s Craftsman home in an old neighbourhood. He becomes entangled with Will, the 18-year old ghost of a Great War veteran and Chris, a 15-year old homeless addict on a desperate quest. As Jake’s failed life is rejuvenated by his love affair with Will, he slowly pieces together the hundred-year-old connection that has brought the three of them together.
For Your Eyes Only: This novella was posted to Nifty in November 2010. Simon meets Glyn and his younger brother James one August evening during a neighbourhood game. Simon and Glyn become fast friends but it is Simon”s secret game with James Fleming that helps Simon accept his hidden self.
A Fragile Light: This story was posted to Nifty December, 2009. Graham (28) goes to the Christmas Eve service to be with his husband John. He is alienated from his deeply religious family and detached from the warmth of the service. He identifies a kindred spirit teenage Theo and learns they have more in common than he thought as Theo is joined by Jesse. Graham leaves strengthened by the encounter.
Janus: This story was posted to Nifty July 2009. Michael (18) is coaxed into attending a summer party by his older sister. He is college bound and uncertain about the choices he has made. At the party, his encounters with Lauren (19) and Scott (20) help him discover himself and make a decision about his future.
Hound: This story was first posted to Nifty the summer of 2008. The first draft was completed in 2005 and in truth I sat on it a long time before I decided to post it. Six-year-old Ethan Yates is abducted off the streets by a pedophile ring. Cast into a nightmare world he struggles to hold on to his identity. Isolated and confused, he clings to fourteen-year-old Peter. As the years pass their mutual need develops into an indestructible bond.
Turbulence: This novel was first posted on Nifty between February and June of 2007. Fourteen year old Daniel Murrell finds the hazing at Riverview High School as freshie a serious challenge. He negotiates it with the help and hindrance of his friends. After a long year of discovery, he comes to terms with his fty//gay/highschool/turbulence/ (first edition) and
http://www.dabeagle/storymainpages/turbulence.html (second edition)
Recovery: This story was first posted to Nifty in January 2007. Sixteen year old Greg Cox reluctantly joined his father in a small rural village in Saskatchewan. There his life becomes entwined with fourteen year old Seth Patterson. As he is slowly drawn closer to Seth he struggles with the memories and guilt associated with the loss of his mother, brother and sister while coming to terms with his gle/storymainpages/recovery.html
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