|THE CASE OF THE GENTLE GYMNAST Copyright © 2005
by Jerry Leckie — A
young police detective, assigned to a gay missing persons
case, finds himself on a voyage of self-discovery when he begins to
question his feelings for his partner.
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THE CASE OF THE GENTLE GYMNAST - PART ONE
This story is a sequel to "The Genital Gymnast." It is not
you to have read that story first, but you will more readily identify
with the characters here if you do so.
Bart Killian was sweating heavily as he lay
supine on the bench, pressing the heavy barbell above him. Every muscle
in his well-built young body strained to make the final
the set. His clear dark-brown eyes were riveted on the bar.
John Wilson stood at his head grasping the bar lightly. "Push Bart!" he
commanded. "Come on, push! You can do it!" he encouraged his friend.
With one final, heroic effort Bart blew a column of air through his
pursed lips and fully extended his arms. John grabbed the bar and
returned it to the rack. "Good show old buddy!" he whooped with joy,
extending a hand to bring Bart to a standing position.
"Whoa! That was a killer!" Bart exclaimed, toweling sweat from his face
and short dark hair. "I must be getting old and
John chuckled, looking at Bart's V-shaped
body. "That's a load of crap. Man, you're built like a
brick outhouse." He glanced at his friend's cute baby face.
"As for age, shit, I'm younger than you, but
you're the one that
gets carded in bars." He waived an arm at the crowded weight room.
look like one of these college kids."
Bart and John were members of the Canyon City police department, which
had an open invitation to utilize the athletic facilities of Matson
University, free of charge. This had been a standing offer since Cyrus
Matson founded the university at the turn of the twentieth century.
Privately, John was concerned that his buddy tended to push himself
required limits, in all aspects of his life. For the moment, Bart was
and relaxed, so he continued to banter rather than start another
exercise. He nodded to a
youngster working with dumbbells across the way. "You look as good
as that kid, any day of the week."
Bart noted the boy's physique. "Nope, he's a gymnast. I played
football, so there's a difference in body mass distribution." He sighed and smiled
wistfully at the kid. "I would
have preferred gymnastics, but my dad insisted that I play football."
John glanced at the boy again and
said, "Hey, isn't that ..." He snapped his fingers, trying to recall a
Bart smiled, looking at the blond haired youth with interest. "Randy
that's him. You remember him from the Wideman-Matthews case six months
They made their way toward Randy. "How could I forget it," John declared grimly. "You almost got yourself killed."
Randy spotted their approach in the mirror. He smiled in
recognition and put down the weights. "Bart! How you doin' man?" he
said, extending his hand.
"Great Randy. It's good to see you. You remember John."
"Oh, sorry John. I didn't recognize you without your uniform," Randy
blushed, shaking the man's hand.
Bart laughed. "I'm pleased to report--on John's behalf--that he has
permanently shed his uniform," he announced. "He has the
being the second youngest Canyon City police officer to ever be
promoted to detective," he said proudly.
John blushed. "I made detective at twenty-eight," he looked pointedly
at Bart, "but, who do you suppose made it at twenty-seven?"
Randy laughed. "I can only think of one person: Bart Killian."
Then, it was Bart's turn to blush. Changing the subject, he asked,
"He's great. He's still the love of
my life," Randy said easily. "And,
settling into university work pretty
well; it's really different than high school. But, so far our freshman
is going okay."
"Are you two on the university gymnastics team?" Bart asked.
Randy nodded. The Matson University athletic department specialized in
track and field and gymnastics. The university was not large enough to
maintain football, baseball or basketball programs.
"How are your parents?" Bart wondered.
"They're fine, but Joe and I aren't living at home. We're sharing a
condo near the campus with Stella Foxworth, Joe's cousin, and Linda
girlfriend." Randy and Joe were
lovers as were Stella and Linda.
Randy snickered. "Our school work is easier than
housekeeping. After the
first few weeks in the condo, Joe and I couldn't figure out why our
fixtures turned green then brown then black. Finally, Stel and Linda
us we had to
clean them. Who knew? We're guys." he said with a laugh. Bart and John
laughed along with him, having been there themselves.
Randy concluded with mock gravity, "Since we're living just across
town from our parents, I'm not sure whether they wanted to get rid of
us or they loved us enough to let us spread our wings."
Bart laughed. "I'm sure it was the latter. I remember how much your
parents love you." He checked his watch. "We'd better be going. I'm
taking Detective Wilson out
for dinner tonight to celebrate his promotion," he said, smiling fondly
friend. "It's been a pleasure seeing you again Randy."
As the two officers showered and changed, John asked, tentatively, "Is
Elizabeth upset that you're taking me out to dinner?"
"No, she's cool," Bart said casually. "She understands that it's 'boys
John sighed. Bart and Elizabeth had been dating exclusively for two
years, but did not live together. Nevertheless, it seemed to John that
she somehow managed to run Bart's life. She was pretty enough,
but possessed a personality trait that was commonly called "high
maintenance" among men who dated such women. He wondered if it was her
influence that caused Bart to push
himself so hard to succeed in everything he did.
That night, Bart spared no expense for his friend. Their table in The
restaurant in the Hotel Eureka, in downtown Canyon City, reflected
understated elegance. The food was superb, the presentation was
beautiful, and the service was so efficient
that it was almost invisible. And, their table conversation was
companionable, befitting the occasion.
However, as they waited for the desert course, talk lagged and Bart's
mind wandered to some other happy place. "Penny for them," John submitted.
Bart's eyes refocused on his friend. "Ah, excuse me for drifting off.
Seeing Randy again this
afternoon got me to thinking about the Wade family. I was only in their
home once, but it left a lasting impression, of how loving they are,
how respectful they are of each other ... how freely they give their
affection. Heck, you were there with me. Remember?"
"Yeah. It was the same among Randy and Joe's friends too." He sighed.
"It must be nice. I
wasn't raised in that kind of home."
Bart grimaced. "I wasn't either." He smiled and shook his head. "But we're here to celebrate. This is not
the night for depressing talk."
He regarded his friend. The task was an altogether pleasant experience.
John's soft brown
hair fell lightly over his forehead,
framing the angular planes of his handsome fox-like face. His light
radiated strength-of-character, intelligence and loving kindness, the
for the perfect cop -- and, the perfect friend.
John was a good friend, had been for the past two years. He
could have been a best friend, if Bart could have made such a
claim upon anyone. His heart squeezed momentarily, then he was his customary self once
more. He noted that John was holding his Champaign glass aloft.
Bart picked up his glass and his friend intoned, "Here's to you, buddy.
Thanks for this evening, and most
of all for being my friend." He took a sip from his glass. "Just
remember that I'm always here for you."
Friday morning, a week later,
Bart was called
into the Capitan's office and handed a new
assignment. After several minutes, he emerged and signaled John for a
conference. "I have a new case," he announced. "Missing person at
He checked his notes. "Student ... twenty years old ... hasn't been to
class in four days ... reported by the university ... no one at his
dorm has seen him ... parents haven't heard from him."
up at John. "And guess what? You're my partner." John
beamed happily at being paired with Bart on his first assignment as a
Bart and John signed out an unmarked police
car and drove to the university.
The Matson campus was an impressive layout, covering five hundred acres
at the edge of of the city. The land had been the estate of Cyrus
Matson, the most colorful character in that part of Missouri during and
after the American Civil War. He founded the township of Canyon City as
well as Grant County. Old Cyrus was a staunch capitalist and rabid
abolitionist. A legend from those times states
that he operated a division of the Underground Railroad, ferrying
runaway slaves from the state.
When Cyrus died in 1901, his will established Matson University and
endowed it in perpetuity. It was his desire that the school serve the
minds and bodies of the brightest youth of the state, always striving
for quality over quantity. For over a hundred years, the trustees had
bent to the task of fulfilling his desire.
Bart and John turned off of the main road and entered the property. The
sight of the campus never failed to impress. Built on a gently rolling
landscape, the school was a series of two and three-story buildings of
brick and stone, nestled among mature trees and well kept grounds. It
was fall and the short days and low temperatures were turning the
leaves of the deciduous trees bright yellow and gold, in sharp contrast
to the evergreens.
The detectives parked at the administration building, formerly the
hundred-room manor house of Cyrus Matson's estate. There, they
interviewed several administrators, gathering factual information about
Brandon Johnson, the missing student, a copy of his college transcript, and the
name, address and telephone number of his parents.
They learned that Johnson was an excellent student. He was in his
at the university, majoring in art. He was also an accomplished
athlete, a gymnast, attending the school on an athletic scholarship.
His near-perfect attendance record
for his classes indicated that his current absence was unusual.
The next stop was the boy's dormitory. They
interviewed a half dozen of Johnson's neighbors. Each reported that
Brandon was even tempered, courteous, and helpful
-- but not social. It seemed that he went to class, worked on school
projects, went to gymnastics practice and studied. They
never saw him at school social functions. He was a nice guy, but a loner.
His room was neat and precise. There were no pictures or posters. No
radio, no TV, no telephone, no
frills at all. The bed was made. The closet held
a modest collection of clothes and two empty suitcases. A textbook lay open on the desk next to a laptop computer.
backpack held various notebooks as well as a calendar with his class
and athletic schedule for the current week. Drawing pads
contained a variety of still life, landscape and portrait sketches and
After an hour's search, John said, "No sign of violence. Nothing seems to be missing. If he
just took off for parts unknown, all he took with him was his wallet
and pocket change. What do you make of this
Bart sighed. "At first glance, it appears to belong to an
obsessive-compulsive personality. The fingerprint guys say that
the only prints in the
room were his. In a college dorm room? Can you imagine that? The kid
had no social life. Someone
of that ilk wouldn't go away
"Maybe he just got tired of living like that," John offered.
Bart replied, "Well, something happened to cause a drastic change. We gotta find out what that was. He didn't leave a diary, so
lets take the computer. There may be a clue on the hard drive. Oh, and
lets take the sketch pads too."
As they were leaving, they met Joe Foxworth, Randy Wade's lover. They
exchanged warm greetings, then Bart asked, "What brings you here Joe?"
"I'm a reporter for the school newspaper--I'm a journalism major ya
know--so I'm gathering material for a story on Brandon Johnson's
With a wry grin, Bart said, "What a coincidence. We're here for the
This provoked a volley of questions from Joe. Bart and John outlined
everything they had discovered so far. Bart concluded with, "We've seen
no evidence of criminal activity, but Johnson doesn't seem like
the type of guy that would take off with just the clothes on his back.
We can't pinpoint where he was and what he was doing when he vanished
because no one knows him very well."
Joe grinned. "I know someone that knows him very well."
"Who?" Bart and John said at the same time.
"My cousin Stella."
Joe seated the
detectives in the living room of his condo and disappeared into another
part of the house. He returned a few moments later with an easel and
an artist's canvas, which he set up in one corner of the room. The
canvas was an oil painting of Brandon Johnson.
Bart flipped through his information folder until he found the school
picture of Johnson, a head shot of a blue-eyed youth whose comely face
was framed by golden blond curls. But the painting was something else.
It portrayed a solemn young man of admirable physique, dressed in the
school's gymnast uniform, relaxing against a pommel horse.
The men rose and slowly approached the painting, as if by
magnetic force. True, it showed the body of a young man in the prime of
life, his strength and his power. But there was more. The details of
the boy's face and his body language opened a window to his soul.
John was particularly affected. He placed a hand on the edge of the portrait and
murmured, "Gentle." Neither
Bart nor Joe responded, but observed him
carefully. John continued, as if absorbing the base qualities of Brandon's personality. "He's gentle and loving. He has so much
affection to give." He smoothed his fingers across the painting. "But
it's trapped inside him."
"That's exactly what I saw." The three men whirled around to see Stella
coming out of the dining room wiping her hands on a dish towel. She
smiled at them. "I thought I heard voices in here."
Joe introduced her to the detectives. She regarded John for a moment,
then said, "I'll take your comments as a compliment. They were exactly
what I saw in Brandon, and I apparently got them down on the canvas."
John stared at the portrait. "He's a remarkable guy. Straightforward,
yet complex." He shook his head. "Interesting."
Bart asked, "Stella, when did you paint this?"
"Several weeks ago, in art class. Brandon is in the class too, but
agreed to be a model for the rest of us."
"You brought out certain of his qualities that you saw. How did the
rest of your classmates see him?" Bart wondered.
Stella shook her head. "Don't know. I didn't see the other students'
Perhaps you can answer this," Bart posed,
"would you say that he has an obsessive-compulsive personality?"
Randy and Linda chose that moment to bounce through the front door
demanding lunch. Stella announced that it was on the table and herded
everyone into the dining room, including the detectives. Naturally, the
disappearance of Brandon Johnson was the main topic of conversation.
Stella, Randy and Joe agreed that he was not compulsive, simply
deliberate in everything he did. They speculated that he had been
schooled in this behavior all his life. Now, it was habit.
Bart turned to Joe and Randy. "How does he perform in gymnastics?"
Joe answered, "He's not an Olympic gymnast, but he's very good. He
his body can do and he does it. He's steady and reliable."
"How does he behave with the rest of the team?" John wondered.
"He gets along with everyone," Joe commented. "He's polite, even
tempered and generous with his praise for the other guys when they do
"We haven't been describing a guy who would
disappear without notice, have
we?" Randy asked.
Bart looked pointedly at him. "Maybe he didn't go of his own free will."
That night, in bed, Joe lay on his side,
lightly stroking Randy's chest as they talked. Randy murmured, "I can't
get over that haunted look in Brandon's eyes in the portrait. I didn't
notice it until you guys pointed it out."
"Haunted," Joe tested the word. "I don't think that adjective was used ... but yeah ...
the look is there." He bestowed a sweet kiss on Randy's lips. "I
remember seeing that look in your eyes when I first met you."
Randy pulled his lover down for another kiss, then said softly, "I was
looking for something--I didn't know what it was--then you kissed me
for the first time, and I found it." He smiled into the boy's eyes.
"And now, I'm the happiest guy on Earth."
"No, you're the second happiest guy on Earth."
Randy pulled Joe on top of him. "Don't argue with me dude, or I might
have to make love to you all night."
Grinning, Joe responded, "Like I said, you're the second ... "
Randy clamped his lips to Joe's and rolled on top of the boy. The kiss
was long and loving and tender, expressing the deep affection and
respect he felt for his mate, his life partner. When Randy pulled back,
they were breathless and very aroused.
Joe wheezed, "Oh man, you found it ... you found what you were looking
for ... don't ever loose it. I want to live like this with you
forever." He rolled Randy onto his back and showered his face, neck and
chest with kisses while he slowly manipulated the boy's enormous
When Randy could stand the stimulation no more, he reversed their
positions and began kissing and nibbling at Joe's ear. He whispered,
"What I was looking for was love Joe. And I found it with you. I'll
never loose it because I'm yours for all time."
"Oooo," Joe exclaimed as Randy began to fondle his erection. "Oh Randy,
I'm so close."
"Me too." He turned in the bed and they each took the other's manhood
into their mouths. In mere minutes, their bodies shuddered in ecstasy
and they gave up their seed.
Randy turned in the bed once again, gathering the love of his life
into his arms. After another tender kiss, he pulled Joe's head down
into the hollow of his shoulder and wrapped protective arms around him.
"I love you so much Joe. I wish everyone was as happy as I am with you."
Joe luxuriated in Randy's comforting arms. Just before he drifted off
to sleep, he murmured, "I wonder if Bart is happy. The
next time you catch him in an unguarded minute, watch him. He has that
haunted look in his eyes too."
At that moment, Bart was in bed, in his apartment, making love to
The next morning, John parked in front of Bart's residence and checked
his watch: 7:30 am. Bart answered his knock, fully dressed, with a
coffee mug in his hand. He led his partner back to the kitchen and
filled a second mug. Elizabeth entered, dressed in a silk house
but she was perfectly coiffed and made up. She greeted John and sat at
the kitchen table. Bart poured a cup of coffee and set it before her.
They exchanged pleasantries for a few moments, then Bart kissed her on
the forehead and bid her good bye. She smiled up at him and said, "I'm
going to mother's for the weekend. Won't be back until late Sunday
night. I'll drop in and say 'hi' to your dad while I'm there. Oh, and
on the way out of town, I'll drop your brown suit off to have it
cleaned. You're beginning to look like the stereotypical
rumpled detective." Bart smiled in response as he and John walked out the
On the way to police headquarters, John brought Bart up to the
minute regarding the case. "Late yesterday, Johnson's parents wired
money to the
university to have fliers printed. The chancellor agreed to provide
an army of students to distribute them this morning. It's Saturday, so
he should have a good turnout. He's also promised more
students to help conduct the search. The Grant County Search and Rescue
team is setting up a command post on the campus as we speak. According
to the leader, they plan to fan out and search within a five mile
radius. And that's some pretty wild terrain,
particularly the woods on three sides of the campus."
"Sounds good. How late did you stay at your desk last night?"
"Until about nine."
"I'm sorry you had to do that. I tried to get out of my date with Beth,
but she got a burr up her butt about it, so it was easier just to go
along with her." John sighed as they pulled into the police parking lot.
They settled into Bart's office to review the material they had
so far. John plugged in Brandon Johnson's laptop and breathed a sigh of
relief that the boy did not have it password protected. Meanwhile, Bart
began flipping through the student's sketch pads.
Over the course of the next two hours, their labors were interrupted by
several phone calls. The fliers were going up by the hundreds all over
town. Search and Rescue reported in every thirty minutes.
John stretched and twisted his neck to work the kinks out. "All of the
text files have to do with Johnson's school work." He
paused and looked at Bart. "Ya know, there aren't any games on the hard
drive. I checked the Internet history file. He never went to any
entertainment sites. The kid didn't
seem to do anything for fun."
Bart smirked. "What, no porn sites?" John blushed crimson and his
laughed. "So I shouldn't check the history file on your computer, huh?"
He buried his face in the sketch pads and murmured, "You wouldn't want
to check the history on my computer either."
John didn't know how to respond to that and kept silent. Bart changed
the subject. "This is curious." He flipped
open two of the pads to selected pages. "Johnson is a good artist. Look
at his still life and
landscape work." He pointed to a water color of a vase of flowers. "You
can almost smell those flowers." Then, he pointed to a painting of a
stone church. "Look at the ivy growing on the church walls. You want to
out and feel the leaves."
He opened a third pad of life drawings. "But, look at this. These
aren't very good, and none of them are in color. The talent is there,
but he seems to have trouble drawing people." Shaking his head and
mumbling to himself, he continued to study the drawings.
A few minutes later, John spoke, shaking his head in wonder. "The kid
only ever sent e-mail to one address. Looks like it was to his
parents." He consulted a calendar. "He wrote to them every Sunday
John began reading the e-mail files. "Hm, he wrote the same stuff week
after week: Stuff about his classes, his gymnastics, that he always
church." He skipped down in time to the previous month. "Hm, this is
different. He's telling them about a guy he met in art class."
He began scanning the e-mails rapidly. "He's becoming really friendly
with this guy. Says the boy really understands him ... painted a
portrait of him."
He had Bart's full attention now. "Does he name the kid?" John shook
his head and Bart shoved the pad of life drawings at him. "Flip through
these pages. As bad as they are, it looks to me that all of the
drawings are of the same
person, a boy. We gotta find him." Bart called the art
instructor and outlined a plan to visit the class on Monday.
By Monday, progress
on the case was not encouraging. No one had responded to the fliers and
the search had been fruitless. Nevertheless, Bart and John were keen
with anticipation as they drove to the campus.
"Did Elizabeth get back from Jefferson City okay?" John ventured.
Bart nodded. "I spoke to her on the phone this morning."
"I didn't realize that she was from your home town." John said.
"Yeah, I knew her in high school." Bart sighed. "She was the only girl
I ever dated that my dad approved of. Then, one day a couple of years
ago she calls me up and announced that she was working in Canyon City."
He grinned wryly at his friend. "Three guesses who gave her my phone
number, and the first two don't count. The rest is history."
John smirked. "Hm, sounds like someone is working behind the scenes
here. Bet your dad wants you and her to get married."
Bart gripped the steering wheel tightly and said through clenched
teeth, "That ain't gonna
Fortunately, they pulled into the school parking lot at that moment.
The art class had been under way for about ten minutes when they
entered the room. The instructor introduced them and Bart quickly
summarized their reason for being there, asking to see each
student's painting of the missing boy.
As Bart was speaking, John quickly scanned the faces of the class.
There were six male students, but he immediately spotted the boy they
were probably after. He was a handsome young man, tall, with blue-black
olive complexion and Asian looking eyes. But, at the moment, he wore a
sad and somewhat frightened expression.
They slowly made their way around the class, introducing themselves and
respectfully observing the students' work. Each canvas displayed the
same handsome boy, most of which only brought out the
physical aspects of the subject. They winked at Stella while pausing to
gaze at her canvas. Their second look at it elicited the same sense of
gentleness and longing that they had first seen.
At last, they arrived at the boy in question. He introduced himself as
Ed Tekai. As they turned to his painting, their breaths caught in their
throats. The portrait was magnificent. It was as detailed as Stella's,
but brought out very different qualities. Tekai was a male, and his
work brought out the loving sensuality hidden in Brandon Johnson's
soul. The sense was almost erotic.
When they had completed their circuit of the room, they thanked the
students for their time and quietly retreated to the instructor's
office. At the end of the class, the teacher asked Tekai to remain,
then left the boy alone.
Bart and John reentered the classroom, Tekai appeared to be ready to
and run. Bart quickly reassured him. "Mr. Tekai, we are here to gather
facts regarding Mr. Johnson's disappearance. You may be able to give us
some information that will lead us to discover his whereabouts."
Ed's face continued to display apprehension. John asked, "May
we speak with you for a few minutes?" The boy nodded. "Your portrait of
Brandon is remarkable. You have brought out qualities of his
personality that the other students did not."
Fear formed in Ed's eyes. "You knew him personally, didn't you." John
Ed nodded and looked at the floor. "Yeah, it was my painting that
brought us together. When Brandon saw it, he said that what I had
painted was what he felt inside. He said it awakened something in him.
So, we got to talking and became friends."
Bart asked carefully. "When was the last time you saw him?"
last, about ten o'clock in the evening. I guess it was the night he disappeared, because he
didn't show up
for class on Monday."
"Where did you see him last?"
Bart wanted to know.
Ed blushed slightly. "Uh, my place. I live in a rooming house off
John asked gently, "Did he seem distressed about anything?"
Tekai spoke more freely. "No! He was very happy. He was
looking forward to the rest of the semester. He was talking about
moving in with me and going
home with me for the Christmas break."
Bart said, "Brandon sent an e-mail to his parents every Sunday, except
for the Sunday that he disappeared. Did you know that he told them
about meeting a new friend ..."
"He didn't tell them that we ...?" Ed stammered, then paused, his face a mask of raw fear.
"That you were lovers?" John supplied, softly.
eyes shifted nervously between the detectives, measuring, gaging their
reaction. Bart said, "It's all right Mr. Tekai. He didn't tell them
about you. And we know how to keep a secret. All we want is to find Mr.
Ed caved in and broke into tears. He sputtered, "I thought
we were lovers. Then he disappeared.
So I guess he got scared and chickened out on me." Red eyed, he gained control of
himself. "He was perfectly all right when he left my place that night.
I don't know what happened to him. I didn't have anything to do with
They had no choice but to believe him, for the moment.
night, Randy and Joe had left the gym after practice and were
strolling hand-in-hand along the flagstone path to the main entrance of
the campus. It was cold and they had donned heavy sweat pants and
down-filled jackets to make the journey home.
The night was crisp and beautiful and smelled of dried leaves and
fertile earth. They paused to look through the bare tree branches at
the stars. Joe sighed, "Ya know what that reminds me of?"
Randy grinned. "No telling."
Joe smacked his shoulder and dragged him into the bushes. "It reminds
me that I haven't had a kiss from my lover since morning." And, he
planted a long wet one on his lover.
When they came up for air, Randy wheezed, "Wow! Let's get home fast. I
have a present for ya."
Quickly resuming their journey, they soon entered the quadrangle in
front of the main building, but stopped short at a remarkable
There, under a streetlight, stood a man dressed in a white robe.
Otherwise, he was barefoot and had long dark hair and a long sparse
"Jesus," exclaimed an astonished Joe.
"That's exactly who he looks like," Randy whispered, intrigued.
The man appeared to be confused, looking this way and that. The boys
approached him cautiously. He didn't seem to notice them until they
were quite near.
"Hi there, can we help you?" Randy asked.
The man flinched at the sound. He looked at them as if he couldn't
believe his eyes, and reached out tentatively to touch their clothing.
Convinced that they were real, he shut his eyes and began to shake,
crying. He wailed, "Oh, I've made it!"
The street lamp shown brightly on the smooth skin
of his face, and they realized immediately that he wasn't a man at all;
was a boy their own age, or younger. Joe placed his arm around the kid's shoulder and whispered, "Sh, there.
You're okay. What's your name?"
The boy looked at him for a moment, dazed, as if trying to
recall. "Richard," he said slowly. "Richard
Marks," he continued, as if he had discovered something wonderful.
"Where did you come from?" Randy asked.
Richard pointed to the administration building. "There."
The boys glanced at each other skeptically. "Well then, where are you
Richard's face grew pitiable. "Away." He began to sob quietly once
more, and his teeth began to chatter. "It's so cold," he muttered
Randy and Joe glanced at each other, nodded and began to lead the boy
to their condo. There, they took him to their room. Richard smiled for
the first time. "Home," he said quietly, looking around their messy
They stripped his robe, finding him to be small of stature and build,
much younger looking than they had assumed. He was completely
hairless, other than that on his head and his sparse beard and pubic
hair. Except for some small bruises,
he seemed to be in good condition. They gave him a hot bath and shaved his
beard, then dressed him in warm wool socks,
sweat pants and one of Randy's impossibly large sweaters.
They questioned him further, but his replies were either one word
responses or shrugs of his shoulders. He thought he was seventeen years
old. In the bright light of the room,
his eyes seemed glassy, so they roused Linda who had had Emergency
did not seem to mind being stripped in her presence. After a
examination, they dressed him once more. Linda tapped her front teeth,
deep in thought before she spoke. "The bruises aren't serious. The
worst one is on his leg. The needle marks on his arms and his glassy
eyes indicate he's been drugged. And, there's something else I'm not
of. His breasts seem enlarged, and look at his lack of body
hair. I'd say he's been given some sort of hormonal drug. My dad's
an endocrinologist ya know. Maybe he can examine him tomorrow." She
snapped her fingers in front of the boy's face
to get his attention. "Sweetie, how did you get that bruise on your
ankle," she asked slowly.
A pained expression washed over Richard's face. "Chain," he whispered.
"Jesus," Randy exclaimed in disgust.
Linda patted Richard's cheek. "Sweetheart, are you hungry?" He nodded
and smiled. She gently took his hand and said, "Good. Come with me. I'm sure
Joe and Randy are starving, so we'll have something delicious to eat."
As they passed through the living room, Richard pulled away from her to
stare at the unframed painting in the corner.
"Brandon," he murmured.
To be continued
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