WHERE IS FAIR
By:
Jess Mercer
( 2008 by the author)
 

  The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent. Comments are appreciated at...

 

It's the first day of school of my junior year and, unlike most of my fellow students, I couldn't be happier. Not that I'm a 4.0 student, though I could be if anybody gave a damn, but school in session means I'll get a decent hot meal for five days a week. It also means cooler weather soon. Cooler weather means salesmen start coming back to town, so I'll be able to make a few dollars to buy some new clothes to replace the rags I'm wearing.

 

I'm lucky to live in a seaport because those towns always have a small section near the docks catering to more specialized tastes. The cops ignore it, figuring the better parts of town are where their paychecks come from so deserve their attention.

 

Guess I'm lucky I got good genes from somewhere, cause I'm good looking enough to be in demand when the district begins to become active after the torrid summer weather cools down. I have a small list of regulars willing to pay my price which is higher for less than any of the other guys on the street give. What's so special about me is I'm smart enough to 'read' my johns and hold their desires to what I'm willing to do while making them feel truly loved in return.

 

I hate my name which is totally pretentious and go by my street name of Dink. I didn't choose it. My old man started calling me that because I'm so small in comparison with him and my older brother. Life was pretty good as long as mother was alive. She was tiny like me. Dad tried to argue with her a lot, but one word from her was enough and he never raised his hand against her. I found out it was love when she died. I was eight, my brother twelve.

 

Her death seemed to break the old man. His drinking got progressively heavier and food on the table skimpier. It reached a point where if there was anything at all to eat, Bobby fixed it. Our bedroom was supposed to be ours, but Bobby made it clear it's his and there's no room for me. The bed's a double, but I get an old blanket on the floor and a pillow that leaks feathers. I tell the old man and get hell knocked out of me for my trouble.

 

Bobby was heavy into sports at school, so big he could dominate anybody two grades ahead of him. His size attracted some of the older jocks in school and he started hanging around with them. I learned the hard way that while they talked about sex with him listening, they were smart enough not to touch him. By the time he got home he was frantic and I was fair game for anything he wanted to try.

 

He hates me because I'm small and not interested in sports, instead loving school and books, so he used me sexually by force without any sign of love or concern. The first time he took me from behind I had just turned nine. When I screamed he slapped me senseless. I came to in agony, lying on the floor in a small pool of blood. I seem to remember my old man staggering to the door and looking at me. Bobby said, "Little faggot is too dinky to even make sex good."

 

The old man laughed. "Dink's a good name for the little pussy." I've been Dink ever since and have actually come to like it. Anything is better than my real name.

 

I never forgot these lessons, even as life went downhill. By the time I was ten there wasn't a sexual practice or perversion Bobby hadn't forced me into. Complaining to my old man only got me slapped aside the head hard enough to knock me senseless at times, or if he was drunk he'd take a belt to me. If I cried out or moved I got twice as many licks.

 

When I reached fourteen one of my teachers sent me to the school nurse. I refused to let her do more than weigh me and answer a few questions about my eating habits. She said I was practically starved and fixed it so my lunches at school were free. She also asked me to bathe more often.

 

But how could I shower? By then our old clapboard house was practically falling down cause the old man and Bobby wouldn't do lick of maintenance. We hadn't had any hot water in a couple of years and if I tried to heat some on the stove to wash with and the old man caught me, he'd throw the water on me. I was lucky he never did it when the water was boiling though I got burned a few times. Bobby had dropped out of school when he turned sixteen and worked with the old man on the docks. The union hall had showers for the members, so they washed there. I had long ceased to count for anything.

 

Just to keep from going home, I'd hang around school each day until the janitor kicked me out. After most everybody was gone I'd explore every inch of the building from cellar to attic. My great discovery was at the end of a short hall in the cellar that looked like it didn't go anywhere. I found there was a door which opened into a little bathroom. From the dirt and cobwebs, I figured it hadn't been used in years. When I pulled on the chain, the low wattage light bulb glowed. The key was in the inside lock, so I knew I had it made.

 

The next afternoon, I raided the janitor's closet for supplies and, locking myself in the little bath, scrubbed and cleaned until the fixtures were clean as I could get  them and the dingy worn linoleum on the floor looked as good as it could. The walls and ceiling remained black, but I had no paint or way to clean those beyond sweeping down what cobwebs and loose dirt I could reach with an old broom.

 

The next morning I left home before the old man or Bobby woke up. In a paper sack I carried my other pair of briefs, a T-shirt, and shirt. Those and what I wore were all the clothes I had. With nearly an hour before the first bell, I snitched a bar of handsoap from the restroom in the teacher's lounge and went to my private lair. I washed the clothes I had worn to school as best I could and hung them on a sagging electric cable to dry, then got into the shower. The hot water felt so wonderful I washed myself and my hair three times before I got out. I dried off with a large towel I had scrounged from the janitor's cleaning rags, put on my other clothes and went to class.

 

At lunch I heard some of the guys at the next table laughing at one of them talking about the hustlers he'd seen on the street the night before while going somewhere with his father.  Didn't know what a hustler was, but without thinking I asked Bobby.

 

He sneers at me. "What a pussy like you oughta be doing. Hey, dad, why don't ya put Dink to hustlin'? His tender little ass oughta sell good."

 

"Shut your face!" The old man yells back. "That's trouble." If he could say that, he's not completely drunk yet.

 

Bobby shrugs. "Maybe you get a little older you can peddle your ass and make a buck or two. Pay fer your keep." It all falls into place now, but I almost laugh at the idea I owe the old man or Bobby anything.

 

Over the next few days I think about hustling. I wish I knew how to go about it, cause I could use a few new clothes. When one of my teachers says experience is the best teacher, I take care to get as clean as possible in my little shower after school and put on the clothes I'd washed. When I hear the janitor locking up, I slip out the door and walk toward the part of town the boy was talking about.

 

At one of the fast food places a table next to the sidewalk hasn't been cleared. I look around and don't see anyone, so I snatch up the half eaten burger and what's left of the drink and run to the end of the block before I slow down and start to eat. When I've finished, I drop the paper and cup in a trash bin and rub my stomach. It feels good to have something in it at night.

 

I see one or two guys are out already. They're either walking slowly near the curb or leaning against the pole of the street light. I walk over and copy the guy leaning against the pole. He pushes me away roughly. "Go find your own turf, runt."

 

"What's that?"

 

He laughs and shoves me again. I walk a little further one. A guy looks seventeen or so beckons me over. He's skinny, wearing torn jeans and a rock group T-shirt. His hair is spiked and dyed purple. He's leaning against a fence.

 

"You better find somewhere else, kid. The older guys don't want kids your age around; you draw cops."

 

He just speaks plainly, not like he's mad at me or anything, so I ask. "How do you hustle?"

 

He looks at me for a moment then laughs bitterly. When he stops, he grabs my arm. "Jesus! You're serious, aren't you? Where'd you come from, kid? Why you want to hustle anyway?"

 

"I I need some clothes to wear to school and I'm hungry."

 

He looks at me with pity. "Damn, ain't you got no home?"

 

I shake my head. "Old man's drunk and beats me, and I hurt near all the time from where Bobby fucks me."

 

He shakes his head. "I'm crazy, but stick with me and watch what I do when a john comes along."

 

"They give you money?"

 

"First off you set a price for what they want. Make 'em pay first cause most of 'em'll stiff you. No matter what, you don't never feel nothin' for a trick. " He looks me over. "You need some clean jeans and a shirt and sweater. No underwear and the jeans have to be tight to show what ya got. That's what the john wants to see." He pulls me to where the light is better and looks at me again after feeling me up. "You're a baby. You'll do better if you get good clothes like the rich kids wear to school and a haircut. Lots of johns want kids look like students, specially young ones."

 

It's a slow night. My hustler walks away from three cars, telling me they were too cheap. When he tells me what he charges I almost fall over. A few minutes later a car stops. The driver and he exchange a few words and my friend gets in. I figure it's late enough to go home, so I start walking. The house is dark, so I slip through the window of my room. This way I don't make any noise, usually. I pull my blanket from under the bed, but a couple of cans, from the sound of it, roll across the room noisily. The light flashes on.

 

"What the fuck?" My brother growls. He grabs his belt from the foot of the bed, it arcs around and lands hard on my back. I don't dare move or make a sound or it'll be far worse. I get four hard licks and he switches off the light and falls back on the bed. In the dark I roll up in my blanket, laying on my stomach cause the floor hurts my back so bad.

 

From long habit I'm up and out of the house before my brother or the old man are awake. I'd like to skip school and rest on something soft, but if I skip it'll cause questions I'll get a beating for. When I get to school, I have to soak my shirt and t-shirt cause the back's all bloody. I shower to wash off the blood, hoping the bleeding's stopped so it won't show on the shirt I washed yesterday. I'm glad it's Friday.

 

That night I'm back on the street and find my hustler where he was. He grins when he looks at me. "Friday and Saturday nights are prime time. I won't be around much. Maybe you'll have some luck, kid."

 

About nine there are lots of cars going slowly along the street, then one will stop and I see a guy get in. When there's no guys on the block, I lean against the light pole and hope. A car circles the block about three times then stops. I can't see anything from where I am, so I walk over and the window glides down. I see the driver looking me over.

 

"You're awfully young, aren't you?" He asks.

 

"I'm old enough," I reply with what I hope is bravado.

 

"How much?" He asks.

 

"What you want?" I counter.

 

"Just to hold you and pretend you're my son. I might play around with you a little."

 

"If you're just gonna jerk me off, you can do that here and it'll cost you ten."

 

He looks sad. "That's so cold. I'd like to take you to my room for at least an hour."

 

From what my hustler told me, this guy must be as new at picking up guys and I am. He looks like a college student and he's beautiful. Despite my need for money, I feel attracted to him. That breaks the first rule my hustler taught me, "Don't ever fall for a john! You're like a Kleenex to them, use and throw away."

 

I look at him again and say, "Okay. I'm cold and tired. It'll feel good to get warm. A cup of coffee would be real good."

 

He smiles as I open the door and get in. "Thank you," he says and drives off. He parks in handicapped place at the motel and opens the door. I'm surprised to see him standing on crutches when I get out; his left leg looks gone just above the knee.

 

He lifts his stump when he sees me looking at it. "This going to bother you?"

 

I shake my head. It looks different and I like it for some reason.

 

He pushes me in ahead of him and immediately fixes the little coffee machine on the counter. I stand there not knowing what to do. He finishes and turns on more lights. I happen to be back to him and he says, "Oh, my dear God!"

 

"What?" I ask, turning around.

 

"What happened to your back, son? It's all bloody. Come over here and let me look at it."

 

I shrug. "It's okay."

 

He pulls a stool over by the vanity and points to it. I sit down and he starts to unbutton the few buttons left. I flinch when he begins to pull the shirt away from my back.

 

"Sorry, son. I know it hurts, but your back needs bathing."

 

He runs warm water in the basin and begins to wash my back with a soft face cloth. He's so easy it hardly hurts at all. The water gets so red, he drains the basin and fills it again, then finishes washing me.

 

"Do you have anything else to put on?" He asks, then laughs. "Silly question. Since when do hustlers carry overnight bags with them." He opens his suitcase and finds a T-shirt he puts on me. It's big, so it doesn't hurt my back. He really surprises me when he hands me a new toothbrush and a tube of paste and tells me to brush well.

 

By the time I finish, he's turned down the covers on the queen-size bed and is sitting on the edge. "Come get in bed, son."

 

I pull off the shirt and my briefs cause I like to sleep raw, and get in. He pulls the covers over me and kisses me on my forehead. "Will you tell me your name?"

 

I do and he says, "Sleep well, Dink. You're a beautiful young man."

 

I wait to see what happens, but he strips down to his briefs and gets in beside me. He pulls me against him so I'm on my side and puts his arms around me. The bed's so soft and I feel so wonderful with this guy's arms around me it takes only a few minutes before I'm asleep.

 

I wake up in the morning when he leans over and kisses me on the forehead again. "Did you sleep well, Dink?"

 

I hug him. "I forgot what a bed was like." Then I start to cry. "Thanks for being so good to me."

 

He hugs me to him, rocking me back and forth. "You're a good boy, Dink. Holding you in my arms last night gave me the best night's sleep I've had in a long time."

 

When I calm, he releases me. "I guess we need to get washed up and go get some breakfast." He says, flipping the covers back.

 

I get my first good look at his stump. It's a little smaller than his good leg and the scar is fading. I reach across and stroke it. "What happened?"

 

"If we see each other again, I'll tell you, but it's why I don't like to see kids your age hustling. Won't you let me take you to social service?"

 

"No way! They'd take me home then I'd get two bad beatin's."

 

I try to pull away but he holds my hand. "Whatever you want, Dink."

 

We get some looks in the restaurant cause his big T-shirt sags on me, but I feel so good being clean with a soft shirt on. I'm glad it's a buffet, cause I load up. He looks amused at how much I eat. "Perhaps I'd better get your things a size large or they won't fit when what you've put away turns to fat."

 

I know he's teasing so I say, "Don't eat like that very often."

 

"You must like school."

 

"I do. How can you tell?"

 

"You speak well, use language correctly, and don't have the usual hustlers' vocabulary. I'm convinced you're a hustler only because you're driven to it, Dink. I wish there were someway I could take you and help you realize the potential you have."

 

I smile at him. "I wish I could be with you, too, but I know I can't, so I'll be okay if I get something to wear, a little to eat each day, and some place out of the weather."

 

He tells me to call him Ted. By the time we're through at K-Mart I've got some new underwear, socks, three shirts, a light summer wind breaker, and a new pair of sneakers. While we're standing in the check-out line Ted tells me he's sorry he doesn't have the money to get me more. I don't give a damn who sees me, I grab him around the neck and kiss him. Ted's face is crimson when I let go, but he doesn't say anything until we're in the car.

 

"I appreciate the kiss, Dink, but you might have waited until we were here in the car."

 

"I don't care who saw me. They don't mean anything so why should I care?"

 

"You probably don't need to, but if anyone who knows me saw it I could lose my job."

 

"I'm sorry, Ted. I thought you didn't live here."

 

"I don't, but I see a number of people when I'm here on business. If I were reported to my boss he would fire me and, because of your age, call the cops. I'd be in jail until I died."

 

I put my hand on his arm. "I'll never do it again unless we're in your room."

 

He smiles at me then mess my hair. "I'm glad you understand."

 

He gets my haircut, then we eat a great lunch together and go back to the motel for Ted to pack. He looks sad and I feel ready to cry because the time I've spent with him has been the happiest of my life.

 

He looks puzzled when I ask him to wait long enough for me to put on my old clothes I dragged out of the trash can he threw them in.

 

"Why?" He asks.

 

"Cause if I show up in new clothes the old man'll beat me for not having any money, and Bobby'll tear 'em up for fun."

 

He hugs me. "I'm so sorry, Dink. Where are you going to put them?"

 

"I got a secret place nobody else knows about. I can dress there before school each day."

 

"I'm so glad, Dink. Do you want me to drop you off any place before I leave?"

 

"Near the school I go to will be great."

 

He gets checked out and drives me to the school. When I open the door to get out, I throw myself across the seat and hug him. "I love you, Ted. Will I see you again this summer?"

 

He hugs me. "I love you, too, Dink. I doubt I'll be back before next September. I won't be doing any traveling in the summer. Is there any place I can send you mail nobody else will get?"

 

I shake my head.

 

"I know," he says. "I'll send it general delivery. You'll have to go to the post office window to pick it up. Have you got any identification?"

 

"My student ID from school."

 

"Good. That should do it." He writes down my name Dink Montaigne in his notebook then hugs me once more. I give him a kiss, then slam the door and run toward the school so he won't see me crying. I hope a door is open so I can change back into my old clothes.

 

After I've changed back into my rags, and fold the nice things Ted bought me and put them in an old locker I dragged into my special place, I walk slowly toward home thinking of one thing I'm proud of. With all the time I spent with Ted, I never asked him for money. How could I when instead of sex he bought me clothes and food, and made me feel loved like a father's supposed to do. 

 

About time for exams to start, the old man walks in almost sober one evening and drops a bunch of rags on the floor. "Them's some jeans and shirts I got fer ya."

 

"Thanks, dad." He seems satisfied and goes on to the kitchen to open a beer. I know exactly where he got 'em. The warehouses on the docks buy unsorted rags by the bale. A lot of times there are some pretty good pieces in there, and he found these. The jeans and shirts are better than what I've got on, but not by much. At least they're clean cause bought rags are sterilized.

 

Bobby has been staying out late a lot. I hope it lasts until exams are over. I want to do my best so I can tell Ted when he comes back, so bring one of my books home each night and study. I do my homework at school, but a long paper I bring home to finish. I'm studying when Bobby comes in.

 

He snatches up my paper. "Look at this shit! You won't get any money from it." Then to show me how strong he is he rips my paper in half, all twenty pages of it, and throws it at me. I start to cry cause it's taken me the afternoons of two weeks to write it.

 

"Aaaw, baby's crying cause I fucked up his school stuff." He grabs up my text book and rips it in half along the spine. "Cry about this, faggot!" He throws it at me, one piece hitting me in the head.

 

He gets in bed and turns out the light. With the little bit of light coming in the window I get as much of my paper as I can find and the halves of my text. I'll have to turn it in to my teacher and pay for it. Money I don't have.

 

The next day my history teacher surprises me by giving me a roll of tape and telling me to tape the pages of my paper together. I mean she was being nice by taking it in longhand and now she tells me to copy it over and give it to her late.

 

"I wish I could help you with the book, Dink," she says, "but the office told me it had a value of twenty dollars. You'll have to give it to me before the end of the week or you won't be allowed to take your exams. That means you'll fail for the year and have to repeat it."

 

"Yes, ma'am."

 

There's only one way I know to get the money. That night I'm on the street. An old car pulls up in front of me and stops. The driver is fat and dirty looking, but he wants to blow me, so I make a fast ten. I feel so dirty and used when he drives off, I want a bath. I go home. By good luck the old man's passed out and Bobby's not there. I heat some water on the stove and wash any part of me he touched then I go to sleep on my blanket.

 

I don't have any luck the next night though it's past midnight when I sneak in and go to bed. The third night I get a nicely dressed man who wants some head. He's clean and smells nice, so I take my time and give him as much pleasure as I can. When I'm done, he's practically asleep. He hands me two twenty dollar bills.

 

"It's only twenty," I tell him.

 

He smiles. "That's okay, kid, you're worth it." He leans over and kisses me on the forehead. "You're clean and neat, and you acted like you cared about how I felt. Keep it up and that'll make you rich."

 

He drives off leaving me with a sense of relief. I can pay for the book and still be thirty ahead. I now put all my money in a heavy-duty zip-lock bag and hide it behind a loose concrete block on the outside foundation of our old garage which is falling down.

 

I do my exams and make a 3.6 average without really trying. Nobody cares anyway, and it's for sure I'm not going to get in college, much as I'd like to. The counselor doesn't like me for some reason and laughed when I asked her about scholarships. I have to find somewhere for my few good clothes because the school closes for the summer.

 

After school's out most of the hustlers I've come to recognize leave town for places with lots of summer people. I turn what tricks I can for money mostly for food, because if Bobby's home he'll fix something for him and the old man, then eat it all so there's none left. I learned long ago if I said I was hungry, I'd get slapped around and told to get my 'faggot ass' out and earn some money. I tried that once and when I came home the old man grabbed my money and I still didn't get nothing but another beating cause he didn't think I had enough.

 

I hate hustling but with the money I don't go hungry very often like I used to, and I have enough to wash my clothes at a coin laundry. I was smart enough to make a list of six men I like, because they're clean and nice to me. They make no protest when I tell them I won't be working the street and want to call them. Four of them give me phone numbers and the other two give me pager numbers and a schedule for me to call them by. Sometimes I turn one trick a week, sometimes five, even after doubling my prices. I always try to give them good value.

 

The summer is pretty easy for me after the docks get rushed and the old man and Bobby come home beat and fall asleep after one beer. I guess Bobby's found a girl friend cause he hardly ever shags me any more. I'm really glad about that. But I make myself scare on weekends cause the old man'll be home and drunk.

 

I like to walk down to the river and sit on the bulkhead looking at the ships. I'd love to stow away on one and go somewhere to experience new things. I've gotten close as I can to students who got to travel on their holidays and vacations just to hear about what I'll never be able to see for real. I'll never get to go to college then get a job that pays enough for me to travel, but I'm not going to wind up a damned dock bum like my brother and old man. They call themselves longshoremen, but dock bums are all they are. Half the time they don't even work.

 

Most days I spend in the public library reading ahead for classes I'll have when school opens again. Before school closed I found a copy of the reading list for junior English, so I'm reading those books as welI. This keeps me out of the house during the day and since the library has a pay phone, I can call my johns from there. With my being there every day, the librarians are used to seeing me. The head librarian gives me a job putting books back on the shelves. It pays enough to keep me in three solid meals a day.

 

I get through the summer easier than ever before. With money from the library, I seldom need to call a john, so my list dwindles to two guys I especially like. When I can remember, I check the general delivery window at the post office. Usually there's a letter or two from Ted. It's always short, telling me to be good, he loves me, and he's sorry he can't send me more. There's always a ten or a twenty enclosed. With this I saved enough money to buy a new pair of jeans and a couple of shirts, and some running shoes for school.

 

I pick up my class schedule and look at it. English first period. That's good because I like it and I'll be fresh from the shower and wide awake unlike the rest. The teacher must be new because I never heard of Edward Warren before. I go on to the room and claim the seat in the farthest back corner like I always do. Once the others in the class see me in that seat, they'll sit anywhere that's away because before I've usually been dirty, my clothes ragged, and I smell. I didn't like it any more than they liked being around me, but when you've got one pair of ragged jeans, two pair of ragged briefs and T-shirts, two torn shirts, and a pair of worn out tennis shoes to your name, there's not much alternative. Now I don't want any questions about the change.

 

 I'm wondering what the teacher this year will be like when the door opens and he walks in. I slide right out of my chair with a crash, cause it's Ted. Everybody laughs and I'd like to die on the spot. Hell, he never told me he was a teacher. His eyes linger on me as I pull back up in my chair, then move on before he calls the roll.

 

"Reginald Montaigne?"

 

I flinch and slowly hold up my hand. Everybody's laughing at this hell of a fancy name for poor white trash cause they know me as Dink. Ted yells for quiet, makes a mark on the sheet he's holding, and calls the next name.

 

While he's talking, I think of the nights we spent together and decide to split the moment the bell rings so he can't say anything to me. I'm also looking at him standing down there on two legs and remember hearing everyone in the world has a double. With any luck this guy ain't my john after all, cause he's only got one leg.

 

After class several students crowd around his desk to talk to him so I get away without being noticed. Most of my classes are gong to be a snap which is good cause study period is the only time I get to study.

 

After school I circle the house to see if the old man's home and whether or not he's drunk. If he is he may decide to beat me for no reason except what comes to his messed up head. Through the bedroom window I see my brother looking in the old mirror admiring the muscles he's built from working on the docks. If I go in now, he'll throw me down on the bed and rape me. I stopped complaining to the old man cause he only slaps me up side the head and says a pussy like me oughta be good for something.

 

I go on to the library and read until they close. The house is dark, I slip in feeling safe only to fall over something. The noise wakes Bobby and he takes his belt to me again. Soon as the janitor unlocks the door and moves on, I'm in and down to my lair. I put my shirt in to soak and let the warm shower wash away the blood and ease my pain.

 

I'm early for class and Ted is in the room; he stops me. "Dink? Is that really you?"

 

I drop my head and nod, suddenly ashamed.

 

I feel his hand on my shoulder. "You've nothing to be ashamed of and no one knows or will from me. I want to see you as soon as your last class is over, so come back here. Okay?"

 

His fingers lift my chin until I'm looking into his eyes. "I guess."

 

"You may take your seat," he says because more students are coming in.

 

I eat lunch quickly so's I can wash out my shirt that I left soaking. All the blood didn't come out, but long as the light isn't very good it's hard to see. Don't make any difference cause it's my only other shirt.

 

I put my books and homework in my locker and walk slowly to my English classroom. Ted is waiting and there's nobody else in the room. He shuts the door and points to a desk. When I sit down I instinctively lean back then jerk forward because it hurts my back.

 

"What's wrong, Dink?"

 

"Nothing."

 

He comes over and sits down in the desk beside me. I try to turn, but he puts his hand on my shoulder and pushes me gently forward so he can see my back.

 

"Dear God! Not again!" I hear him whisper. I can feel the wetness of my T-shirt now. "Did that happen at school?"

 

"No, sir."

 

He stands up and pulls me up. "You're coming with me and no argument."

 

I know he won't hurt me so I'm happy to go with him. He spreads an old towel on the back of the leather seat in his car and helps me in. It's a beautiful little sports convertible sporting the Mercedes emblem.

 

He doesn't say anything, but drives fast. A few minutes later he's parking in the drive of a house of the kind I've looked at and wished I lived in. It's not big, but it's

so pretty I love it.

 

"Come in, Dink." He takes me into the nice bathroom and tells me to take off my shirts. He starts to help me with my T-shirt, but it's stuck to my back and hurts when I pull on it.

 

"Wait, Dink. Take off your jeans and shoes." While I'm doing that he's running water in the tub, then he tells me to get in and lean back so the water wets my shirt and dissolves the blood sticking my shirt so he can get it off without hurting me or starting the bleeding again.

 

I'm not embarrassed from the time we slept together before.  After a few minutes he helps me up and pulls my T-shirt over my head without hurting me. He lets the water out of the tub and begins to wash me. I relax because it feels so good. I use the shower to rinse off and step into the big soft towel he's holding for me. When I'm dry, he rubs some ointment on my back and bandages it.

 

I'm wondering what I'll wear when he grins at me and opens a drawer. "These might be a little small for you now. I bought them the last time I was here, but I couldn't find you. Anyway, put them on and we'll go get you some new things."

 

I look at them and start to cry. I'm just a whore and he knows it, yet he kept these clothes to give me.

 

He pulls me against him and strokes my hair. "Don't cry, Dink. You're a fine young man with great potential. Now that I'm your teacher, I intend to make sure you have the opportunity to realize that potential if it's within my power."

 

"Why? I'm nothing but a whore."

 

He pushes me back enough to look into my eyes. "One does he can to survive. It's obvious from your back that you've been abused, your rectum, too. I saw it and felt you flinch when I bathed you. That will not happen again."

 

On the way to the store, he asks, "Who has taken you so roughly? A trick?"

 

I shake my head. "My brother."

 

"Dear God! Can't you avoid it?"

 

"He's too big. If I tried, he beat me 'til I couldn't walk, then do it."

 

"Your father's no help?"

 

"He beats me and tries to make me turn tricks so he can get my money." I finally look at Mr. Warren's horrified face. "Yeah, I turn tricks to get something to eat when I'm hungry and get the things I need for school."

 

"If you had somewhere to go, would you leave home for good?"

 

"In a heart beat, but only if my old man don't know where."

 

"You're not going home tonight, because your back will need some attention in the morning."

 

Ted fixes dinner that's really good, then I watch TV while he's doing some work for class. It's a little early when he says it's time for bed.

 

"I'm sorry, Dink, but I've only bought one bed. I'll sleep on the sofa."

 

I hug him. "We'll sleep together like last time. I want you to hold me like then."

 

When we're in bed and I'm snuggled up against Ted, I stroke his stump. "You said you'd tell me."

 

Ted pushes up on a pillow and pulls me up beside him, hugging me close.

 

"Have you done any hustling since I was here?"

 

I drop my eyes. "Yeah," I mumble.

 

"Why?"

 

I tell him about the way Bobby tore up my paper and book that I hustled to get the money to pay for and buying three good meals each day.

 

He smiles at me. "That's why I almost didn't recognize you yesterday. You look great. Do you have any other clothes now?"

 

"One more good shirt."

 

"Then we'll have to do something about that."

 

 I reach down and stroke his stump. "I'd forgotten how good you make that feel, Dink."

 

"Tell me about it."

 

"Will you go get me a cup of coffee? It's a long story and I don't want to put on my leg."

 

I set our cups on the nightstand and get back in bed, close to Ted and rub his beautiful stump.

 

"I hate to see you hustling, Dink, because you never know what kind of trick you're going to get." He hugs me and grins. "Just like I didn't know what kind of hustler I was getting when I stopped for you."

 

I lean over and kiss him, then he continues. "I know hustlers because I've been there. My folks are good people, Dink, but they've had a lot of illness over the years, so we never had much money. A guy I knew convinced me that hustling was an easy way to get more money than working in a store, so I tried it.

 

"I got more than my share of tricks because I was always polite and quiet, and I tried to give them their money's worth. The extra money helped out a lot at home. One night a big new Cadillac stopped and the driver said he'd give me five hundred dollars if I let him do some things I'd never done before and didn't want to. But that much money would pay my tuition at the community college for a year so I could start my education.

 

"I got in his car and we drove out to a big house in a nice part of town. I began to relax and he gave me a beer and chatted about things that interest me. The surprise was down in his basement. There was a room full of chains, shackles, whips, and other things. The son of a bitch was a sadist.

 

"I tried to get back up stairs, but the door was locked. When I looked at him, he was naked except for a black hood he had over his head. He told me I could strip, or he would tear my clothes off. I took my clothes off, begging him the whole time to let me go because I wasn't into the S and M scene.

 

"I think my begging turned him on because he was a strong son of a bitch. He had my hands and feet in shackles before I knew it and fucked me senseless. When he was done he began to hurt me with his little toys. Every time I screamed from pain he got hard. I could tell it was frustrating him and he increased the pain level until I barely remained conscious, but he still wasn't satisfied.

 

"He dragged me up on a table and spread-eagled me on my back. I think I knew subconsciously what he was going to do when I saw him pick up a machete. He dragged the point across my tits with just enough pressure to make them bleed. I don't think I ever hurt so bad! I couldn't get enough breath to scream. 'That doesn't suffice,' he said and raised the machete over his head.

 

"When it came down the part of my left leg you don't see was lying on the floor. I guess I screamed just right, because he shot all over me. I guess it dawned on him what he'd done because he slapped a tourniquet just above my knee and dragged me out to his car. He put me in the back seat floor on an old blanket and drove fast. I passed out, because I came to in the hospital after the surgeon had cleaned up my stump."

 

He hugs me tightly. I'm crying for him and for his leg. "Now do you see why I don't want you hustling?" He whispers.

 

I nod and hug him tighter. "I'm sorry, Ted."

 

He pushes me back and kisses me on the forehead. "No need for you to be. I'm used to it now. I was really happy when I had enough money to get the type of leg I wanted." He smiles at me. "You can rub it. It feels good when you do and I'm glad you like touching it."

 

After school the next day, he takes me to a furniture store to buy a set of furniture for the spare room. Once he's cut the motor, he takes my face in his hands and looks at me with a serious expression. "I want you to come live with me. It will be our secret."

 

I hug him tight as I can and start to cry. "There's nothing I want more, Ted."

 

After I quit crying and use his handkerchief to wipe my face, he says, "We'll talk at home. Let's go shopping." He lets me pick out the furniture because he says it's going to be my room. I hope he's not kicking me out of his bed, because I can't get enough of just lying beside him, stroking his stump, and getting hugs and kisses. I'm just disappointed he won't go any further.

 

Two hours later we're back at his house, Ted telling the men where to put the bed and other stuff. That was enough, but Ted took me on to the mall and I never had so much in my life at once. I've got a pair of jeans, but for school he's bought me slacks, nice shirts, sweaters, a blazer, a pair of great loafers, and the shoes like the other students wear, and loads of underwear and socks. He helps me put it away in my room.

 

Ted fixes steaks for us. As we eat dinner he talks about things. "Reginald "

 

"Please, call me Dink. I hate my name."

 

"Very well. You may call me Ted except at school or when other students are around. And you're never to tell where you're living. If anyone insists on knowing  refer them to me." He reaches across the table and holds my hand. "This is most serious of all, Dink. I will not touch you sexually."

 

"Why? You never have and I love you, Ted. I want you to."

 

He shakes his head. "It was wrong even when you were hustling, but now that in effect you're my son it would be that much worse."

 

"No!" I cry. "I love sleeping with you, Ted. I want to love you and love your stump." I start to cry again. "It's the only way I got to show you how much I love you and you do so much for me. Please, Ted."

 

"I like having you sleep with me, too, Dink. You may sleep in the same bed with me and I'll let you rub my stump since it appears to give you as much pleasure as it gives me, but sex is out. For that, find a friend your own age. As for proving your love, do it by doing the work in school I know that you're capable of."

 

I nod my head, but only to satisfy him. I'll find a way to make him want to love me forever.

 

As the weeks pass I feel like Ted really is my dad. He's the kind of father I always wanted. I find out he trained to be a teacher, but took the salesman's job because he needed the money to finish his last year of school. Then he inherited enough money from his grandmother to feel secure on a teacher's salary. A lot of the kids at school didn't even recognize me on Monday. Ted makes sure none of them see me getting out of his car every morning. I just smile when they ask questions and don't answer them.

 

For the grading period I get the 4.0 I promised myself I would make for Ted, and hold it until graduation.

 

Since I've lived with Ted, I've seen my old man once. It was a warm day and Ted and I are going shopping. When we get stopped by a light, I see my brother and him walking along the sidewalk. I can tell they've had a few. Bobby looks at Ted's car then me. He doesn't recognize me until I give him the finger as the light changes and Ted pulls off. Bobby looks like he can't believe it. When Ted tells me that I should not have lowered myself by doing that, I can only say it felt awfully good to get some of my own back. Turn about is fair.

 

The best feeling of all will come in three weeks when I turn legal. Ted agreed from the first that if I still loved him then, we'd make love. He says there's no question in his mind that we'll be lovers and partners in this life.

 

While I'm waiting for Ted at school one afternoon, I wander down to my old lair and look around. It looks awful to me now, but for over a year it was a place of warmth, cleanliness, and comfort for me. I finger the rags in the old locker cringing at the thought that at one time these were all I had to wear. Tears come to my eyes as I take the key from my pocket and slip it into the lock on the inside of the door and turn out the light, then shut the door. If someone like me comes along and needs a refuge, I hope he'll discover this room like I did.

 

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Posted: 02/22/08