The following story is for adults and contains graphic descriptions of sexual contact between adolescent males. If you are a minor, then it is illegal for you to read this story. If you find the subject objectionable, then read no further. All the characters, events and settings are the product of my overactive imagination. I hope you like it and feel free to respond.
Dark Thoughts Rising runs through fourteen chapters and 145 pages. If you would like the entire novella, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hayden’s mom tousled Rowan's hair as she walked past. She sensed his mood. He smiled his thanks for the grilled cheese sandwich he could only nibble at. Hayden ate nothing. He was very nervous, worrying over every move Rowan made since they had met at the beginning of lunch. “I’ll be fine Rat, it's just a chance to let Davon go.”
“What are you going to do Pen?”
“Mostly listen Rat, maybe think.” Rowan picked up the sandwich and took a nibble.
“Leave your backpack and bag here Pen. I will bring it after the funeral. I’ll be waiting outside when it's over, okay?” It was a good idea. Rowan had not thought about it when Hayden invited him over. After Keegan’s morning threat, Rowan grabbed at the chance to avoid going home. Keegan was probably furious at Rowan. He did not expect to see Rowan at the funeral. That would enrage him further. Rowan was resigned to facing that when he went home. How Keegan planned to get him past Rowan’s mom to a high school party was a mystery to him.
Ms. Ratt had to shake Rowan awake when it was time to go to Davon’s funeral. The weather was clear, so he declined a ride to the Alliance Church. It must have been three years since grandma Jo’s funeral in Saskatoon. His mom had been devastated by her mother’s early death. Only nine years old, she had made him stand with her and look at the dead woman.
Grandma Jo did not look real, yet she was. Looking at her perfect face gave little Rowan the willies. He did not want to see Davon with that look of perfect repose. Rowan was doing his best not to remember his last moments talking with the teenager.
There was no casket. Why had he assumed there would be? He seemed to be early. Rowan walked to the front where floral arrangements and an oversized picture of Davon flanked a simple urn. He liked the picture of Davon. Rowan recognized the grin. He did not know how to feel about Davon reduced to ashes. He stood squeezing the web belt until the buckle began to hurt . How was he going to return the belt now?
There were voices coming. Rowan faded to the farthest corner of the sanctuary and sat down. Alone with his memories, Rowan watched the funeral pageant unfold. Nobody paid attention to a solitary boy fidgeting at the back. There were generally two or three classes of grade nines at the high school. Half of that group and a sprinkling of other grades began to fill pews. They looked as out of place as Rowan felt. Only a few noticed him at the back. Davon’s particular gang had not arrived.
Dark suited ushers began seating family groups toward the front. Rowan knew nothing about Davon’s extended family. It was certainly larger than his dispersed clan. Grandma Jo had three daughters. Somewhere Rowan had a handful of cousins he never saw. They might show up for his funeral. His dad was an only child. There was family in Sweden maybe. What was a Swedish funeral like?
Rowan fussed with the belt, rolling it up several times as he sorted through his feelings about Davon. Before the party, Davon had been this sunny person. Davon was the silver lining to Keegan’s storm. Keegan was like that red spot on Jupiter, a storm so old you could not imagine it fading. Davon could be nice. Rowan did not remember much from that party between talking about his books and lying beside Davon in the morning. Davon gave those moments to him.
Keegan trooped in with Davon’s hockey team. Twelve self important boys wearing green and white jerseys that draped over their broad shoulders like ponchos. There was a matching jersey on display at the front. Keegan looked genuinely sad. Davon’s family came last. Rowan felt sorry for them. He felt sorry they had to deal with the stricken young man who casually handed his brother drugs and eventually killed him. Rowan did not feel sorry for Reuben.
Luka had turned to scan the room before he sat down. He paused when he saw Rowan far in the back. Rowan could not see Lav anywhere. When he looked back to Luka, he was still watching him. Luka shook his head slightly, as if to tell Rowan Lav was absent. Rey tugged at his jersey and he finally sat down. One afternoon Keegan, in his malice, promised to give Rowan over to his hockey team on Rowan’s thirteenth birthday. “Thirteen bumps”, Keegan threatened. For a guy who did not read, Keegan had a vivid imagination. Rowan liked to think Davon and Luka would have stopped it. Rowan did not have much use for hockey.
Davon would not have stopped it. He would have sold Rowan’s body to the team for friendship, pretending it was all some forgivable dare the boys were sharing. Davon inflicted Keegan and Rey on Rowan. Davon, not his brutal stepbrother, was the games master. This really was Davon’s fault, so why was he sitting in the back pew trying to forgive Davon? Why was he mourning the loss of Davon’s touch? He looked at the picture and closed his eyes.
When Rowan could manage it, he wished he had kept his eyes closed. Rey and Keegan had come forward. Rey began glibly in a voice that could not shake his usual carefree style. Keegan stood behind his shoulder, uncomfortably looking at the people starting back. Davon had given these two permission to rape him, and then he booked out leaving a helpless Rowan in their hands. The belt in his hand reminded him of that. Keegan noticed Rowan. Hate flowed out over the room in both directions.
He thought he could come and spoil this for us. Keegan wanted to march right over to Rowan, grab him by the shirt and drag him out the door. The selfish, unfeeling little faggot bastard. Was Rowan so incredibly self centred that he thought he had a place here with Davon’s teammates? He was not a classmate. He had not played hockey for six years side by side, win and lose, with Davon. Rowan had wormed his way into the centre once again. Rowan should get he had no friends here. He was sitting surrounded by empty pews that should have been filled with the people who knew and cared about Davon.
Rey had to nudge Keegan. It. was his turn to speak. Keegan concentrated on the words, not much caring how he read them, half his mind on Rowan, self righteously judging him at the back of the room. He stopped talking before his turn was up, tears of frustration rolling down his cheeks. Rey smoothly covered for him. Brooklyn was crying sympathetically for him. There was no shame in his tears. He looked toward Rowan.
Keegan missed his next turn. Rey and Luka had written it all, Rey might as well read it. The ushers had opened the door for a tall man. Keegan recognized the face instantly. It was like confronting a balding Rowan fifteen years from now. Rey was tugging at his jersey, trying to get him to move back to their seat. He stumbled forward, still trying to work out what was happening.
Rowan was relieved to see the two boys finally sit down. Remember while you miss him. He showed them what you need and now you are wondering if Luka will be nice like Cameron. You are actually imagining what sex with Luka and Lav would be like at Davon’s funeral. Rowan hated that part of himself. He needed Hayden’s steadying warmth beside him.
Instead, some man had slid into the pew uncomfortably close. Rowan jumped in his seat when the man put a hand on his thigh. The belt slipped from his fingers unnoticed. Now? Some old guy wants you now? Rowan turned, and then he was clinging to his dad.
“Shh.” Kort warned. Rowan must have cried out. He did not care. His dad held him close then let Rowan pull away so they could see each other. “Long time no see kiddo. You have to stop growing. You’re making me dizzy.” His dad whispered with a smile.
“What are you doing here dad?” Rowan touched his leg, checking to see if he was real.
“Your mom thought it was time to come.” His eyes glistened. “Would you like to get out of here?” Kort looked at the picture surrounded by flowers and a hockey jersey. “Have you said goodbye to your friend?”
“He was my enemy.” Rowan said simply. “It’s complicated.” He added, thinking of his mom and dad. “Mom knows you are here?”
“We should talk outside Rowan. She knows you’re coming with me. You will see her this weekend. She needs time to think Rowan.” At Kort’s prod, Rowan stood up, the web belt forgotten on the floor. He took a last look at Davon’s urn and left with his father’s hand on his shoulder.
Rowan blinked at the glare when they stepped out of the church. He let the fresh air fill his lungs and felt Kort’s steady hand on his back. Santino leaned against an SUV double parked beyond the line of black sedans. Then he saw Hayden standing next to Keegan’s new hockey bag. Hayden stood hugging himself. Rowan forgot his father and the two friends were pulled together.
“What gives Rat?”
“It’s time to go Pen.” Hayden’s voice was tranquil, but tears were brimming in his eyes.
“Go?” Rowan could barely get the question out. The panic was building. He did not want to understand.
Hayden nodded his head. “You have to go Pen.” There was no argument in his voice. Hayden was simply stating a fact.
Rowan wanted to cling to Hayden. Despite himself, he understood and it was breaking his heart. He needed to sit with Hayden on his bed and feel him close. Instead he had to stand here on the sidewalk staring stupidly at his friend. Rowan glanced at his dad, then at Santino by the white SUV. His eyes rested on the hockey bag before returning to Hayden’s face.
“Everything is in the bag Pen. I did not forget anything.” Hayden stepped closer. “You can’t stay here any longer Rowan. You know that.” Hayden closed his eyes. “Pen, I need you to go.” His dad touched his shoulder and then did a strange thing, he gave Hayden a long hug. Rowan was silent as Kort muscled the bulging hockey bag off toward the waiting SUV.
“St. George?” The panic was raw in Rowan’s voice. His eyes began memorizing Hayden’s face, trying to catch up with the head start Hayden had allowed himself.
“60 minutes Pen, then one thousand five hundred sixty four steps from my grandparent’s.” Hayden smiled bravely.
“How can you know that, Rat?” Rowan asked weakly.
“I just do Pen.” Hayden’s voice broke a little. “I really wanted to spend last night with you.” He confessed.
“That would have been nice.” Rowan whispered sadly. “And dinner together.”
“I’m sorry about that.” Hayden looked dejected. Rowan understood. Hayden wanted his other friends to have a chance to say goodbye.
“Another time Rat.” Rowan promised.
Hayden smiled And nodded his head. There was a huge sigh. Hayden looked suddenly very vulnerable and unsure. “Dance with me tonight Rowan? Hangout with me so we can still dance? We will trade medicine bags the next time we meet.” Hayden needed an answer. “Till then, we can talk and dance.”
“Anytime Hayden Echa Ratt.”
They had to hug as the desolation swirled around them on the sunny sidewalk. “Please get into the car Pen. I need you to get into the car and go.”
Rowan buried his face on Hayden’s warm shoulder. “How am I going to make it without you Rat? What am I going to do?” Rowan sobbed. It was too hard.
“Live Pen. That’s all I want you to do.” Hayden whispered in his ear, “Kisâkihitin Pen.”
Rowan sat in the back seat all alone. He felt numb and incomplete. Santino tried to talk to him as his dad drove. There was a room ready and a school nearby. He had seen kids Rowan’s age at the condo pool over the summer. Santino could not draw Rowan out. His dad checked him in the rear view mirror from time to time. Something was missing besides the horrible wound where Hayden should be.
“Stop the car!” Rowan’s voice was so panicked that the SUV tires screeched and swerved on the highway. Kort pulled over on the shoulder as Rowan twisted around to the hockey bag. The men watched as he struggled with the zippers in the confined space, tugging. It was there on top. “It's okay.” He breathed. “It's okay.”
It was not his leather bag. It was Hayden’s beaded twin. Rowan slid back into his seat. He waited until the SUV was back on the road and the men’s curiosity faded before checking inside. Hayden had even found another little journal to replace the one he had given away. There was a new braid of sweetgrass and a lighter. He inhaled its fragrance and thought of sitting naked in the cool grass with Hayden. Peter was missing, and so was the little Playmobl Viking. Rowan tucked everything away except Rat. He understood.
Rowan watched the highway being eaten by the SUV as they drove on to St. George. He wanted to feel the pain of Keegan and Rey to slip away from him. It was not working. Along with Davon, they still owned him. Maybe he would never be free of Davon. Rowan looked at Rat in the palm of his hand, cupping the smiling figure gently.
Tonight, Hayden would begin to help Rowan dance the three teenagers out. They would dance together in the dark of their separate rooms, because what else could twelve year old boys do? Till, 60 minutes and one thousand five hundred sixty four steps later, they could dance together. Rowan was going to make Hayden promise to do that. Until then there was time to talk with his mom, come to know his dad and Santino, start again, and dance with Hayden in darkness and sunlight. Rowan sobbed, not caring that the men might hear him. He put Rat carefully back in the medicine bag, pausing to smell the September night in the sweetgrass.
Rowan plugged in his headphones. There was already a message about Peter on his phone. Rowan laughed through his tears and thumbed out a reply. He did not know how to spell the Cree word Hayden had whispered into his ear, so he simply added an emoji. Rowan found Hayden’s music and set it going. He watched the fields speed by as the music lifted him away. Rowan closed his eyes. Rat was dancing with Pen naked on the moonlit grass under the sparkling prairie sky. They kept spiralling around each other, closing to that point where they would finally come together. Exhausted, Rowan drifted off, dancing with Hayden to the drumbeat of their hearts.
Body of Work
If you are here on the midway then you have come to the carnival seeking entertainment, company and of course excitement. There are a dazzling array of rides suited your every mood. There are gentle rides that conjure up soft memories of youth and rides that lift you from the dreariness of your grind and send you flying ageless through the night. There are also the side shows…
If you are here then you are in the house of mirrors captivated by the reflections around you. They are all curved in some way. Every mirror is imperfect and every mirror draws your attention to something new. The mirrors magnify or diminish parts of what we think is real. Sometimes you like what you see and sometimes you don't. Sometimes you believe what you see and sometimes you can't be sure what has been distorted. The distortions are intentional and we flatter ourselves into believing the mirrors only stand arrayed like this in such places as the midway. Before you go back to the mirrors of your life step closer to this one.
Eliot Moore, 2007
Here is a summary of the wide variety of other stories I have published.
Awakenings: This ghost story was posted to Nifty in November 2016. Middle aged divorcee Jake begins renovating a 1900’s Craftsman home in an old neighbourhood. He becomes entangled with Will, the 18-year old ghost of a Great War veteran and Chris, a 15-year old homeless addict on a desperate quest. As Jake’s failed life is rejuvenated by his love affair with Will, he slowly pieces together the hundred-year-old connection that has brought the three of them together.
For Your Eyes Only: This novella was posted to Nifty in November 2010. Simon meets Glyn and his younger brother James one August evening during a neighbourhood game. Simon and Glyn become fast friends but it is Simon's secret game with James Fleming that helps Simon accept his hidden self.
A Fragile Light: This story was posted to Nifty December, 2009. Graham (28) goes to the Christmas Eve service to be with his husband John. He is alienated from his deeply religious family and detached from the warmth of the service. He identifies a kindred spirit teenage Theo and learns they have more in common than he thought as Theo is joined by Jesse. Graham leaves strengthened by the encounter.
Janus: This story was posted to Nifty July 2009. Michael (18) is coaxed into attending a summer party by his older sister. He is college bound and uncertain about the choices he has made. At the party his encounters with Lauren (19) and Scott (20) help him discover himself and make a decision about his future.
Hound: This story was first posted to Nifty the summer of 2008. The first draft was completed in 2005 and in truth I sat on it a long time before I decided to post it. Six-year-old Ethan Yates is abducted off the streets by a pedophile ring. Cast into a nightmare world he struggles to hold on to his identity. Isolated and confused, he clings to fourteen-year-old Peter. As the years pass their mutual need develops into an indestructible bond.
http://west.nifty.org/nifty/gay/highschool/turbulence/ (first edition) and
 I love you (Cree)