"The boy is doing much better already," said the doctor. "You know, of course, that he's been molested?"
It seemed as though ages had passed. Still, it had been almost three hours. The man and the two boys had waited in the chairs in the waiting area, where the nurse showed them. Devon was out, sleeping on the two chairs the man had pulled together for him, probably warm for the first time since summer. But Larry wouldn't sleep. He wanted to be awake for the moment the doctor came in.
"Well, the boys didn't say for sure, but it seemed pretty evident by his condition when I came upon them."
Larry looked up at the man with a bit of a quizzical look. 'Came upon them! Hell, he knew everything, like he'd been lookin' down on us the whole time.'
"Doc, he got grabbed up by some ole guy and beat up and prob'ly fu-u-u. . . well, you know . . . poked. I didn' think he'd live." He sat on the edge of his chair, impatiently looking at both men, waiting for the doctor to tell them anything.
"The trauma to his body was significant, but, except for some bruised ribs and scratches, he seems to be in fair shape, overall. However, the tearing of his anal cavity indicates a penetration by something far bigger than he was capable of accepting. He's going to need to heal for quite a while. The problem as I see it is this, he isn't bad enough to stay here." He put up his hand to stop the man from challenging him, then continued. "Oh, he'll need to stay the night, but I don't think I can keep him here any longer than that.
"There is another problem. I am required to report this attack as a rape. There will be an officer here in a few minutes to talk to you three. Then he'll need to talk to, ah, I don't even know the boy's name." He looked at the man for help, but the man shook his head and looked at the boy in the chair next to him.
"Michael, he's Michael. Uh, and he hates bein' called Mikey or Mickey, if ya know what's good fer ya." Larry's eyes had a look of hope in them, as though he wanted Michael to be well enough to argue about his name hang-up again.
"Thank you, son. And you are . . . ?" the doctor asked, looking at Larry.
"Really glad he's okay. We was worried. I never seen him hurt like this before. But what's all that medical stuff ya said he's got? I couldn't figger that all out."
"I'll explain it to you later, son. Doctor, thanks for you're help. Can we see him?" The man's hand patted Larry's knee, before he stood up to shake the doctor's hand.
"Tomorrow. We've given him something to let him sleep. He'll be pretty sore tomorrow. You need to keep him as quiet as possible. And he'll need special instructions to aid the healing of his anal canal."
"Huh? His butt, ya mean?" Larry again looked back and forth between the two men above him.
"Yes, his bottom. He took quite a beating back there. So, sir, are you the boy's grandfather or guardian? I guess I'm remiss in not asking sooner. Why else would you have been involved?"
"Oh, no. I'm . . . ." The man was blushing a bit, showing off his cheeks above the line of his full beard.
Larry jumped up and pulled on the man's sleeve.
"Yeah. Hey, Gramps, uh, yeah. We can come visit him in the mornin' and take him home, huh?"
"Now, son. I'm not going to . . . ."
"Yeah, I know. You ain't gonna miss a chance ta see Michael when he wakes up. He'll wanna see us."
The man turned to correct the boy. It had never been in his nature to lie to anyone. It never occurred to him.
"Well, he should be having his breakfast at about 7:30 tomorrow, then there will be some tests to run. That might be a good time to come; after about eleven. If there are no issues tonight, he can go home after we've checked him once more. I'll try to meet with you then. Good night, now." And the doctor turned and walked out.
"What's goin' on? What'd I miss?" Devon was standing next to Lar, rubbing his eyes.
"He's gonna be alright, Dev. He's just gotta take it easy so his, uh, anal canal heals, or sumpthin'."
The man chuckled. He put his hands on the two boys' shoulders and leaned over to speak to them.
"Boys, I know this isn't your favorite thing to do, but you need to talk to a policeman about what happened tonight. Now, don't go running off. You did nothing wrong. But we don't want that man to hurt another child, do we?"
Both boys looked like they just might be agreeing with an adult for once, when both gasped and stared at each other.
"The nose pickers! Shit, mister. There's two kids left in there, and they's smaller'n us! They could be in real trouble by now, and we ain't there to help 'em!" They both looked up with pleading eyes.
"Then we'd best get back there, shouldn't we?"
"But what about the pig, I mean, the cop? We s'pose to hang around here while them two little guys get beat up and sexed?"
The man shook his head and, grabbing two hands, led the way to the elevator. As the doors opened, they almost ran into a man coming out. He had a warm overcoat over his arm and was in a dark blue suit. They barely even noticed him as they hurried into the elevator.
"Hey! Are you three the . . ." His voice was cut off by the closing doors.
"Stay here, boys, until I come back down with some light." The man walked into his building as the boys nodded in agreement.
"Lar, are we gonna take him to our place? Shit, we'll never be safe again."
"Devon, uh, du-u-h! We ain't safe there now. We gotta figure out how to lock a door or sumpthin'. But first, we gotta find those kids."
"Yeah. Okay." Of course, Devon was anxious to get going.
In minutes, all three were moving slowly on the fourth floor of the old building, shining two flashlights in their path.
The littlest was doing all he could to hold back his tears. But it was the noise that would get them caught. It was he that woke up his older brother to get him to hear what he was hearing. Jeremy gasped once and clamped his hand over his own mouth.
Sure enough, they heard shoes slowly skidding along the floor. Then they heard an old voice, scratchy and mumbling from too many smokes and too much wine.
"Humph! Where'd them three go? I'm 'bout ready for another round with another piece of sweet boy. Ha! They ske-doodled after I let that young purty one go, I bet. Huh! They's gotta be somepin else around here to sink my teeth inta. Here, boys! Cough! Cough! Here, boys. I know yer hidin' from ole Buck. Ain't no good. I'll sniff ya out."
His brother's hand quickly went over his younger brother's mouth.
"Shush up, Jacob. We gotta hide. Come on.”
He led the way as they crawled to the far doorway. It was just a closet, but it had a door. If they could just close it without it squeaking.
"Here, purty boys. I knows yer in here somewhere."
They heard the scratching of his shoes on the concrete. It sounded like he was in the other room.
"Buck, what are you doin' up here? You gonna go out again or you done fer the night? I gots three dolla's; 'nuff to buy a bottle at P and K's. See ya, asshole."
"Shit, I was havin' a treat here, ya know. I can't just change my schedule ever' time you get a tick. Shit. Humph."
Much to the boys' relief, the scratching went the other way and was finally silent.
"Jeremy, is he . . . ." The hand again.
"Sh-h-h. Wait. We don't know. Maybe they set a trap for us or somethin'. We're waitin’ here; maybe sleepin' here."
Jacob couldn't take anymore. He crawled into his brother's lap and turned into his shoulder and started to sob. He was quiet, but he was sobbing pretty hard. Jeremy ran his fingers through his brother's fine, thick hair. He was on the verge of tears himself, but first, he had to be strong just a little bit longer.
More voices brought the older boy from his dream. He strained to listen for the old man's rasp and the sound his shoes made. Instead, he heard more familiar voices.
"This is where they usually are. Oh gawd, if they was caught by that same guy . . ."
'Larry?' thought the boy. He wanted so much for it to be the older boy for the first time since they'd met.
"Okay, Larry, think about where they might go that would be safer. Is there such a place here?"
It was a man's voice, but he sounded proper, like his own grampa used to sound to him. It couldn't be that old gnarly guy. This man was different. Jeremy was getting fidgety. He so much wanted to call to them; to come out of hiding, but, he was so scared.
"Larry, look here. If you were crawling through this dust on the floor, wouldn't you make these kinds of marks? They go this way."
"Yeah! Hey look! They go . . . . "
Jeremy could hear Devon's voice coming real close. His shaking woke up Jacob.
"Wait, Devon. We need to be careful. If those two little ones are in there, they'll be scared out of their wits. Let me do this."
'Do what?' mouthed Jacob to his brother.
"Boys, we're here to see that you are safe. There's no one else here but Larry, Devon and me. I'm a friend that helped them get little Michael some help. We want to make sure you're safe now. Can you come out where we can see you?"
The door swung open and the two boys crawled out. Seeing the look on Larry's face made Jeremy feel better. But seeing the man made things seem even brighter, and it wasn't because there were two flashlights now. He looked over at his brother.
Jacob's expression was one of pure awe. His eyes were fixed on the man holding one of the flashlights. It almost looked like he knew him from someplace.
"Boys, I have a big favor to ask you, all of you. Now, we want to go see Michael tomorrow, and bring him back, right?" Two heads nodded. "Well, I'm tired. If it's okay with you four boys, could we retire to my apartment and get cleaned up and get some sleep? I think we'll all feel better and safer." He had the kindest, most convincing voice.
Two of the boys, Jeremy and Devon, nodded dumbly, as though they were in a trance. Jacob was still overwhelmed by the vision in front of him; something that couldn't at all be possible.
"Sounds like a plan, mister. I'm beat. If'n it's not too much bother fer ya."
"No, Larry. In fact, it would be a pleasure to share what I have with all of you tonight. Now, let's get out of here." He said it with just a hint of laughter in his voice.
They turned to leave and made it to the stairway.
"Jacob? Come on!" Jeremy was turned to his brother who hadn't moved an inch. The man walked back to little Jacob and scooped him up in his arms. Jeremy could see that, at last, his little brother was getting some comfort, this time from the man's strong arms.
The laughter coming from the bathroom was enough to make him chuckle. It was certainly enough to make him worry about the amount of water on the floor, but he was pleased that the children were enjoying a warm bath. He took the pan of milk off of the burner and poured the cocoa in while he stirred. A burst of laughter made him chuckle again as he reached into the cupboard to find the marshmallows.
He walked back into his living room and adjusted the covers on the littlest one. Jacob was asleep by the time they made it from the old place to his sixth floor apartment. He'd laid his little bundle on the couch and removed Jacob's coat and shoes. While his clothes weren't in as bad shape as the two older boys, they were pretty dirty.
"Uh, mister, if it's this warm he sleeps best in just his undies. Here, I'll do him." Jeremy stripped the boy of his pants, socks and two shirts, like he'd been doing it for a long time. He caught the man looking at him strangely. "What? Oh. If it wasn't for us taking care of each other, we never would have eaten or had clean clothes or most anything."
"Oh, you mean in that building." The man couldn't take his eyes off of the near naked eight-year-old. He was dirty and he was beginning to show signs of a boney body, as though they hadn't been eating very well for a long time. Still, his beauty was apparent. His long, golden blond hair fell over his face but couldn't hide a very cute little boy.
"No. I mean at home, before we got homeless and before we ran away," answered Jeremy. Then he leaned down, kissed his brother on the forehead and pulled the blanket up to his chin. Then Jeremy started to take off his clothes.
"Um, don't you want to do that in the bathroom?" The man was used to children, just not children undressing in front of him.
"I suppose, but there's more room here. Larry and Devon are in there and they'll take up all the room." He continued to disrobe.
"Jeremy, you gettin' in with us or you too shy to see what big boys got?" Larry had called out from the bathroom. The man rolled his eyes, but the twinkle in them showed how funny he thought Larry was; typical for his age.
Jeremy's eyes lit up and his mouth fell open in awe at the invitation to join the two bigger boys. Flipping his briefs over his shoulder, he ran back to the hallway that led to the bathroom and a tub of soapy water and two other dirty boys.
So, while the boys had been washing themselves and probably everything else in the bathroom, the man started cooking and then sat next to a sleeping angel and brushed the hair out of his sleeping eyes. Then he slowly got up and walked back into the kitchen to stir the pot of macaroni and cheese. He wasn't sure at the time why he'd bought so many boxes. He chuckled when he thought about the coincidence. It felt so good to have something to chuckle about again.
The three clean boys seemed to be enjoying their meal. They talked and giggled, just like boys should be doing. The towels still wrapped around their waists did little to hide their natural beauty. Their skin fairly shone, their hair almost sparkled. But the man could tell by their freedom and expressions that their greatest beauty was inside.
He looked at the youngest of his guests, still asleep on the couch. He rose to make up a plate and mug for the boy, in case he woke during the night. Covering it with a cloth napkin, he set it on the end table, beside the couch.
He walked over to the dining table and noticed that the boys had become somewhat quieter. They looked very tired, indeed.
"Well, mister, we can get our clothes and get outta yer hair, I suppose. But maybe Jeremy and Jacob could stay the night on the couch er sumpthin'? They're too small to be over there at night, anyway."
"Oh, I don't think so boys," said the man. He chuckled out loud when they gasped at his refusal. "Ha ha ha! I don't think you and Devon are leaving to go back there either. I want you to stay here tonight. Then we can figure out where we go from there, after we reunite you with your friend, Michael. We have a lot to talk about until then, so I think you need to get as much sleep as you can.
"I want you boys to take my bed and I'll sleep on the recliner so I can keep an eye on the little one. Do you think there'll be enough room? It's quite a large bed."
All three boys were in awe; as much from the offer of a warm place to sleep as from the warm, comforting voice of their host. They each barely noticed the other one nodding agreement, then found their legs following the man into the bedroom. The man chuckled when he turned to see that all three boys had lost their towels somewhere along the way. He was glad that they weren't shy about their bodies. They were far too beautiful to cover up.
As he tucked the boys in, he talked about their schedule the next morning, about breakfast and returning to the hovel to find any belongings they might have, then going to visit Michael. He fished out three of his t-shirts from his bureau drawers to wear as night shirts, but when he turned to offer them to the boys, they were fast asleep.
Sometime, in the night, as he slept in his recliner, he felt his blanket come away from his body and someone crawl up onto him. He could smell the muskiness of a dirty boy, but also the smell of macaroni and cheese. His hands pulled the fallen blanket to cover them both back up and then came to rest over the small back of the eight-year-old. His other hand came up to support a tiny bottom covered in sagging briefs. He patted his warm bundle once before contented sleep engulfed them both again.
Jacob had a dream that he was having Christmas with his mommy and Jeremy in a big comfy room with lots of couches. What made it so funny was that Larry and Devon were there too. He didn't see Michael, prob'ly ‘cause he was in the hospital, and he didn't see the nice man because he was working. He he he! Jacob's delight turned into a smile on his face as he lay on his comfortable bed, made of the nice man about whom he still couldn't believe that he would forever be able to call his friend.
Jeremy dreamt of a comfortable room where he and his brother sat together on one of those small couches, like at their neighbor's house. On the table in front of them were a plate of cookies, two glasses of milk and a pile of comic books. He looked up to see Larry come in with a cake and Devon behind him with a plate of hot dogs. It didn't seem strange at the time that they were still wrapped in their towels from their bath. The room was so big and, even though the man wasn't there, he knew it was the man's house somehow, somewhere.
Devon dreamt of being warm and toasty. He had his eyes closed so he didn't know where he was, but he knew he was likin' it a lot.
Larry was tossing and turning. It was he that got them to go to that old, run-down place and, if they hadn't Michael wouldn't have been hurt. He realized that his dreams put him in a large room with several couches and felt, as well as saw, the man sitting next to him. The man's mellow voice filled his senses, putting him at ease.
'Had you gone to another place, Larry, the outcome might have been different. Michael may have died.'
Larry shuddered to think what might have happened to Michael if the man hadn't seen them carrying his hurt friend. He smiled as he thought about an actual adult wanting to help them. Then he finally let out a long sigh and snuggled against Devon and slept peacefully the rest of the night.
Please read with pleasure, this has been my gift to you. I would like to hear/read your criticisms, good and bad. I'd love to talk about where this gets to you.