RAY OF LIGHT
story by SOLACE LENITY
This is a story about tragedies and
triumphs faced in the journey
For the most part, it is a
work of pure fiction, though some parts draw upon a host of life
this story will eventually contain sexual acts between consenting
adults. Gay characters have gay sex, so if this bothers you, or
if it is illegal to read such materials due to your age or where you
live, then please do not read further. All copyrights are held
by the author, so please do not duplicate, print, alter, or resubmit (or
anything else I may have missed ) this
story without first obtaining written
permission from the author.
This is my second story in the Raven Cliff
series. For those of you
who read OF LOVE AND CHANCE, you will find ONE RAY OF LIGHT to be
quite different. For one, it is told in limited third person
narratives, rather than various individual points of view. It is
much darker, more complex delve into the nature of
humanity. It contends with spiritual and social issues, but in a
completely different manner. In similarity, it is ultimately a
romantic love story that is not meant to be a quick fix, jerk-off
session. You might also recognize a few characters here and
there, for lives often interconnect in ways we do not realize. If
you haven't read OF LOVE AND CHANCE, don't worry, for this story stands
A special thanks to Paul
for all his efforts with editing, and to Tob for his input and
have any comments, ideas, suggestions, etc., I would love to hear
Please contact me via email@example.com
the hell do I care?'
he thought to himself as
the old lady begged. He hated her with such an unyielding
feeling only utter disgust at the thoughts of his even being related to
her. She, of course, had taught him all about hatred, and he
lessons so very well. He thought back to all the torment and hell
lived through under the hand of that bitch that dared to call herself a
mother... HIS mother. The anger festered deep within his stomach,
bringing his blood to a slow but steady boil. Finally, he had
"Look, you made it all too clear
that you no longer had a son.
That was fifteen years ago. Now you track me down and call me up,
what? Did you really think my heart would bleed for you?" He
coldly stated, biting back his desire to yell. He would save that
later, using it to hit home his point. "You didn't lose any sleep
over me when you threw me out to the wolves. What the HELL makes
think I give a shit what happens to you? You tossed me out with
than you give your trash. Now, you have the audacity to disturb
me, at my
home no less, crying to me about your misfortunes."
An icy smile of pure
contempt spread wide across his rugged face. "You
reap what you sow. God only knows how miserable you made my
am HAPPY to hear you are suffering, though it is only a fraction of
truly deserve." Finally,
he let loose with both barrels.
" To paraphrase the last words you spoke to me, I DON'T HAVE A
MOTHER. YOU ARE DEAD TO ME. NEVER, EVER CALL THIS HOUSE
AGAIN!" With that
said, he slammed down the phone.
He picked up the receiver and
quickly called the telephone company. He
brewed as he waited for a representative. Finally, one answered.
"Yes, I need to have my number changed... Unlisted, please... As
soon as possible... Coal, my name is Coal Black... No ma'am, it is
Yeah, like the rock... Yes, ma'am. I have heard that one
He snickered to himself about
his name. He had always thought his mother
was far from intelligent. Coal had been born and raised in the
Kentucky, so he surmised that coal was probably the only thing his
about other than farming. There was just not a whole lot of other
industry in his home town. But, naming your child Coal was just too
much. Combine that with the last name Black, and you had a name
raised many an eyebrow.
He gave the representative
what information was needed to verify his identity
and the specifics he wanted for the new number in terms of plan
"Yes ma'am, the sooner
the better... Let me get a pen... OK... Yes
ma'am. I have it written down. Thanks, and you, too."
'What a way to begin the morning!' He fumed to
looked at the clock and became completely pissed, realizing that he
slept at least another hour. Though it was his day off, he had
matters that needed tending. Still, the extra hour of sleep would
been welcomed. Coal worked very hard, and the opportunity to rest
luxury seldom afforded to him.
With continued internal
bickering, Coal began his morning ritual. He
stumbled from his bedroom to the bath, tripping over the clothes strewn
the floor. He stripped down his boxers, scratching his heavy
he relieved his bladder. With that completed, Coal turned and
A strong current of very warm
water cascaded down his well-defined frame,
slowly releasing the pent-up tension from his bulky muscles. Coal
softly, repositioning himself in the steady spray. Relaxing, he
soaped up his body, carefully massaging himself with his hands and the
washcloth. His fingers kneaded his scalp as he shampooed his
locks. Rinsing, he bent down and turned to find the conditioner,
his head on the shower door handle.
Cursing loudly, he rubbed his
front hairline and forehead. Then, he began
to chuckle, musing as he envisioned the headlines of a man who died
accidental head injury while showering. After conditioning
rinsing, he allowed the hot spray to work over his body for a few
firmly rubbing his pecs, abs, and biceps.
Steam filled the bathroom as
he opened the shower door. The sudden
temperature change produced goose flesh, causing the soft black hair
adorned most of his body to stand. His deep brown nipples became
tingling as the soft texture of the terry cloth towel brushed over
Drying himself, he moved to the sink and brushed his teeth.
As the towel swiped away the
fog on the mirror, Coal stared at his reflection,
sizing himself up as he always did. His pale, silver-blue eyes
beneath his heavy black lashes. His dark olive skin was smooth,
smallest of lines that were barely visible around his eyes. A
shadow of stubble dawned his lower face and neck, accentuating Coal's
lips. He smiled, revealing his deep-seated dimples as he checked
pearly white teeth. Finally, Coal set to shaving his face smooth.
By any standards, Coal was an
extremely attractive man, for one who was
thirty. Truth be told, he was attractive for a man of any
However, Coal always found fault within himself. This, of course,
to the darkness that had long ago enveloped his life, jading him,
Returning to the bedroom, he
tugged on a pair of boxers and ankle socks.
A tight blue T-shirt and a loose pair of jeans completed his
Coal then gathered up the clothes scattered about his floor, sorting
piles for laundry. Carrying a load with him, he sauntered down
hallway into the kitchen. There, in the pantry, he started a load
A sudden growl grabbed
his attention, as Coal turned to find Malice
crouched on one of the shelves. Slowly, he pulled on a leather
glove. In response, the huge gray cat bared her long fangs and
arching her back as she growled and hissed ferociously. As Coal's
neared, Malice's pupils dilated, and her feral growl grew faint.
turned back, and her tail twitched with defined purpose. Without any
warning, the cat sprang into action, clutching the gloved hand with her
claws and teeth. She quickly rolled to her back, bringing her
up to kick and scrape at the glove.
Coal hissed and shook his
hand vigorously, further exciting Malice in her
play. After a few minutes, he began laughing. Malice
stopped her attack and looked at Coal indignantly. Gently, he
ears and neck. "I'm
sorry girl. I know you hate it when I
laugh at you." He
smiled and lowered his face, as Malice arose
to rub her head against his cheek. Coal grinned as she
gonna attack your daddy, not while his baby girl is around." He
said affectionately. "You're the best damned attack cat
Malice methodically worked
her way into Coal's strong arms, purring in apparent
contentment as she laid her head in the crook of his neck. He
he held the only creature to ever show him true affection or love,
Malice to be his only real treasure in life. Stroking her gently,
praised his beloved pet. "We've been through so much
baby girl. You're daddy loves you more than life itself."
And, it was true. That
old cantankerous cat was Coal's only true friend,
his only real family. He knew that he would give his life gladly
meant saving hers. After all, she had saved him many, many times
before. As he gently pet her and swayed his body in a rocking
Coal fondly remembered the day Malice came pouncing into his life.
Coal had collapsed underneath
a weeping willow that grew along a mountain
stream. Tears trickled down his reddened cheeks from his puffy
eyes. "What am I
gonna do, now?" He
aloud. "I have no
one... no family, no home, nothing to call my
own. How am I gonna live?" The reality of his situation
came crashing down upon him, and his tears became heavy sobs.
Barely fifteen, Coal had been
thrown out of his home. His mother had
always been stern and frigid towards Coal, but he had never seen her so
or abusive before, not physically at this level, he thought. He
rubbed the bleeding whelps that lined his back, butt and legs with his
arm. He knew the other wasn't broken, for he had suffered a
many times before. No, he decided, it was just severely
See, Twila Black had beaten
him within an inch of his life, and all because she
had found his notebook. "Why the hell did I have to be so
stupid?!?" He cried
out angrily, suddenly wincing in pain as he
felt the strong stings starting along the injuries to his ribs.
There was one person who had
caught his eye and held his fascination since as
far back as he could remember. Rory Hampton was his name, and
paralyzed with a heart-wrenching crush for the lad. On numerous
occassions, Rory had tried his best to start a conversation with
Coal. Unfortunately, Coal could never bring
to look Rory directly in the eyes, much less utter a word that made any
sense. To Coal, Rory was perfection made flesh, and his teenage
screamed out whenever Rory was in close proximity. Rory's
and killer smile made Coal feel faint and queasy. It was because
mind-numbing crush that Coal had inscribed Rory's name on the inside of
notebook, surrounded by three rings of hearts.
Twila became ballistic when
she discovered the written declaration of
love. She seized Coal by the nape of his neck, pelting him
with her closed fist. Though Coal could have realistically fought
belligerent mother easily, the years of abuse had stripped him of any
As he cried, helplessly
balled up on the floor, Twila retrieved a horse bridal
from the wall. She screamed terrible obscenities about Coal as
pounded him over and over again. The bridal tore into his flesh,
with each and every strike. After the beating, Twila grabbed Coal
his feet, dragging him towards the hallway and near the stairs.
ordered him to leave, but in his weakened state, he moved slowly... a
slowly for Twila's liking, apparently, for she shoved him to quicken
pace. Coal fell down the flight of stairs, striking his head
wall at the bottom landing, creating a loud thud. His face was
during the fall, burning intently as the wounds seeped his life
Twila coldly screamed at him for getting his tainted, faggot blood on
her walls, as she stomped down the stairs. Grabbing him up again,
pushed him to the door, literally throwing him out of her home and down
"Momma, please!" Coal begged, as he struggled to
turning to gaze into his mother's stone-cold eyes. His plea only
"I AM NOT YOUR MOTHER, 'CAUSE I HAVE NO SON! YOU ARE DEAD TO
ME!" Then, with a
bitter glow in her eyes, she screamed. "NEVER,
EVER COME TO THIS HOUSE AGAIN!"
Coal had struggled and
dragged himself down the road for several miles
that evening. Too weak to walk any further, he had stopped to
beneath the tree and sip from the stream. The well of his sorrow
deep, but a sudden voice shook him from his self-pity.
"Well, what do we have
here?" The voice
with contempt. Coal looked up to see Eric Sneed, the one person
Coal as much as Twila Black, possibly more. As Eric moved in
look of horror and surprise covered his face. "Man, she really
beat the piss out of you this time." He said softly. He
reached out his hand and clutched Coal by the face, turning his head to
side to assess the damage. "Damn! You really must have
pissed her off, but good."
"W-What do you care?" Coal stammered, wondering about
the sudden edge of concern that laced Eric's words.
A slow smile spread across
Eric’s smug face. "Not
bit, faggot! I was just admiring the crazy bitch's work."
He laughed. "Looks
like this one’s gonna be easy."
He glared, cracking his knuckles and balling up his fists.
Coal shuddered and closed his
eyes in defeat. He was far too weak and
sore to defend himself against Eric's attack. Coal just prayed to
that Eric killed him and ended his misery.
As Eric stepped in to strike
Coal, a loud growl rang out. Coal opened his
eyes to see a small ball of gray fur drop from a branch above
ball landed on Eric Sneed's face, and it quickly lashed out with razor
fangs and claws.
"Shit!" Eric screamed trying to
knock the wild animal
from his face.
The momentary distraction was
all Coal needed, as he summoned up his remaining
strength for one quick assault. A knee to the testicles, a punch
stomach, and a knee to Eric's face put Coal out of immediate
Shielded by the dark shroud of night, he struggled to move himself
the woods and hide before Eric recovered. The angry Eric searched
frantically, but Coal, well within a thicket of bushes, was never
As the ranting delinquent headed further into the woods, Coal crept
back towards the road.
After a couple more miles of
walking, he leaned against a fence post to
rest. Sinking to the ground, he lay still, resting his
rough, sandpaper texture began swiping itself across his
nuzzling and purring let him know who it was.
He grinned as he opened his
eyes and stroked his guardian angel. "You
saved my life, little one."
strength returned somewhat, Coal sat up and examined the kitten
more closely. "Well, I
guess I have me a baby girl."
He smiled, rubbing her affectionately, and the kitten responded with
purrs. "What to
call you?" He
Thinking of the situation, he
The kitten looked at him
roughly, as if expressing her disagreement with the
name. "Oh, you're
a feisty one, aren't you?"
giggled, as the kitten showed her claws to him with seeming
contempt you have." He laughed. Then, it struck
"Well, how 'bout Malice?"
The kitten seemed to agree,
as she nuzzled him once again. "All
right, Malice it is." he
Coal grinned at the
bittersweet memory of finding his one true friend. "Daddy
would be so lost without you, baby girl." He cast his gaze
downward, taking in the sight of his beloved pet. "How about a
special breakfast for my little Malice?"
Coal laughed as her ears
perked up and Malice raised her head to look him in
the eyes expectantly. Food was definitely the way to her heart,
was rather pudgy. He sighed thoughtfully. "You have been
there for me through all the lean times, when we could barely afford to
eat. Why not spoil you while we have it so good?"
Malice nuzzled him in
agreement, causing Coal to smirk. Honestly, their
lives were hardly what most would refer to as 'so good', but Coal and
Malice had faced so many hardships during their time together.
was not exactly filled with wonderful opportunities for a man with only
grade education and a shady past. Still, once Coal had moved to
Cliff, he found a decent job that paid a fair wage for an honest day's
work. It was semi-skilled labor, and the door to his current
had only opened to him because of the kindness of one young man.
This young man said he
believed in Coal, actually helping Coal out of his 'situation'.
He then trained Coal for the job through a program offered at the
mission. The young man had even pulled a few strings to help Coal
job, not to mention making the purchase of his first home a reality for
Coal. It was nothing fancy, but it was more than he had ever
owning. This purchase was made possible through a program at the
called Fresh Start, and it had given Coal and Malice a new lease on
Coal held his beloved
companion as he prepared her a fresh piece of fish.
Flaking it apart lovingly in her dish, he smiled. "You are my
lucky charm, Malice. Even though things have often been rough, we
made it out of every hardship together." He sat cross-legged on
the floor, hand feeding his baby with tiny bite-sizes of fish.
When Malice finally had her
fill, Coal walked into the living room and
stretched out in the recliner. He had just turned on the radio
bulletin for the upcoming snowstorm was announced. A tail
his cheek, as he pat his chest. "Well, come on Malice. You
can snuggle up with Daddy for a few minutes. Then, he has to run
errands and get us some groceries."
Malice accepted his offering,
as Coal stroked her fondly. He sang to a
few songs that crossed through the airways, relaxing with the
his life. 'It's
far from perfect, but I have everything I need.'
he affirmed to himself.
Sometimes, though, Coal felt
the pangs of loneliness. Not that he was in
any way dissatisfied with the companionship his darling Malice offered,
simply longed for conversation and emotional connection from other
people. Most of the time, however, he relished in his
>From the experiences he had faced in life, Coal was a bit tainted in
of people in general. It was difficult for him to relate to
near impossible for him to trust anyone at all.
Realizing that time was
growing short, Coal pulled Malice from his chest,
apologizing for intruding on her nap. He then ran out to his old
struggling to get it started. Finally, it turned over and
left it running to warm up, as he darted quickly back into his
There, he found an anxious and expectant Malice.
He chuckled lightly, his
heart quickly melting to her demands. "OK,
baby girl, you can come with Daddy."
He went to the pantry and
retrieved a flannel throw blanket. Then, he
donned his jacket and gloves. Finally, he picked up his
She purred contentedly in his arms as they headed outside.
Coal slid into the truck,
holding Malice on his lap. He then leaned
sideways and spread out the throw. Once Malice was comfortable,
tucked the throw around her to keep her nice and toasty. She
him with dismay.
"It's really cold out, girl, and
Daddy doesn't want his baby getting
sick." He stated
sincerely, explaining his actions.
This seemed to pacify her, so
Coal put the truck in reverse and backed out of
the driveway. Once on the street, he headed to the water company
his bill. Then, it was on to the electric company. Finally,
drove onward to the mission to make his house payment.
"You stay in that blanket,
Malice. Daddy will be back in a few
Patting her head one last
time, he slid out of the truck and locked the
door. Coal waited patiently in line until he finally was able to
payment. Afterwards, an unexpected desire filled his very being,
decided to pay a visit to the man who changed his life. With that
in mind, he strolled down the hallway until he arrived at the Work
"Hey!" Coal bellowed in greeting,
his excitement taking
even himself by surprise. "How have you been, Kal?"
The young man looked up, and
a broad smile of recognition spread across his
handsome face. "Lord,
have mercy. Coal! I haven't
seen you for quite some time." Kal replied, standing to
and extending his hand. Coal shook it vigorously as Kal
have had a fantastic year, buddy. I met the man of my dreams, got
married, and now, we are raising four children."
The shock on Coal's face
brought out a hearty laugh from Kal. Coal
chuckled himself, smiling at his Godsend. "Congratulations,
man. Wow! You have been one busy fella."
Coal took in the sight of his
mentor. Killian Anderson Lord (KAL) was
5'11" with a muscular build, though one would never know by the way he
dressed so conservatively. His gentle, green eyes mirrored the
found in his endearing smile, which was truly set off by his
dimples. There was something different, Coal thought. Then,
noticed. Each time Coal had seen Kal, his hair was usually matted
close to his head through heavy styling products. Today, though,
brown hair hung in loose, haphazardly arranged curls. The
wire-framed glasses were also absent.
Coal was impressed, to say
the least. He had always thought Kal was
adorably cute, but today, he looked ruggedly handsome. "I like
the hair, guy."
Coal grinned. "Say,
wearing contacts?" He
Kal laughed. "Well, I have a special dinner
with my husband this
"Oh, so this is not an everyday
thing. I get it. Wow!
There for a minute, I thought you had gone all wild and crazy
chuckled. "I take
it he likes the look,
"Very much so." Kal
'He'd be a fool not to.' Coal thought to himself.
Kal motioned for Coal to
follow him, as he walked to the break area.
Fixing them both a hot cup of tea, he offered Coal a seat. Coal
"So, how has the job been
going?" Kal asked,
enthusiasm evident in his voice.
"What can I say? I had a
grinned. "I had
another raise about two months back, and they've
offered me an advancement."
Then, Coal fidgeted a bit, as he
tried to push aside his feelings of self-doubt and
only thing is, I have to get my GED first." He explained
Kal patted his hand
I know you can do
it. You're a bright man, and one of the best trainees I have ever
praised. "Why else
do you think I called
Mr. Davenport and raved about you?"
Coal blushed profusely,
feeling the heat in his cheek with the back of his
hand. "You know, I
still owe you for that, Kal."
He looked at his cup of tea nervously. "That job changed my life,
man. It helped keep me from falling back into my previous situation."
Coal said, looking up with gratitude gleaming in his eyes.
Kal was one of the few people
with which Coal felt he could be open.
Honestly, Coal looked to Kal as his hero, his saving grace from a life
and uncertainty. If he had ever regarded any human as a friend,
it was Kal. Kal was well aware of Coal's past, but he never held
against him. In fact, Kal would often encourage Coal to be more
was. It was as if he could see this hidden potential that Coal
never seem to find... well, not until Kal pointed it out, anyway.
somehow, Kal made Coal believe he could achieve anything.
Kal reached over and gently
squeezed Coal's shoulder. "It was my
pleasure, Coal. You are a fantastic man, and I believe you
the best in life."
"Thanks, but you know all too
well that I was just a..."
started, but Kal stopped him.
"That was the past, Coal." Kal smiled. "You
are a different person now, and I am proud of the man you have become."
Kal began chuckling. "Say, do you still have that cat?"
Coal quickly jumped to his
feet, remembering Malice. "Oh,
man! She's in the truck, and it is freezing outside."
"Did you park at the side lot?" Kal asked.
"Yeah. Man, I can't believe I forgot I had Malice with
me!" Coal said,
kicking himself and feeling stupid.
Standing, Kal smiled and
patted Coal's shoulder. "Try keeping up
with four teenage boys." Then, he pointed towards the side
on. Let's get that tiger and bring her
"Tiger!" Coal laughed. "Yeah, I guess you
could call her that! So, they are teen boys, aye?" He
asked, looking to Kal as they walked across the room.
"And very active. Love and I have a time keeping up with their
"Love, huh? Hehehe!
That's kinda cute."
commented, as they headed out to his truck.
"What can I say?" Kal giggled. "He is the
love of my life."
Kal flashed a lopsided grin, reminding Coal of
a bashful child. "He
calls me Love, too."
affection in his eyes let Coal know just how Kal felt.
"He is one lucky man, Kal. I can tell you love him a great
deal." Coal smiled,
reaching out for Malice. She jumped
into his arms.
"There's Daddy's girl!"
enthused, holding her close to his chest.
Kal chuckled. "I swear. I have never seen
someone so loving
to a pet before."
"Everyone has a soul mate, I
just happens to be a cat."
"And I believe that!" Kal laughed. "Seriously,
I do. I know Malice loves you every bit as much as you love her."
Coal looked at his pride and
joy with thankfulness in his heart. "She
is the best friend a man could have." He praised.
"As long as she likes you, then
I suppose that is true."
Kal giggled. "She
was never very fond of Tracy, though."
Coal laughed as he remembered
how Malice had once attacked Kal's assistant for
touching him. Malice had even chased Tracy around the bay,
growling with every step. "She
was only protecting me. I just
don't see why Tracy found that so hard to believe."
They entered the break area,
and Kal shut the door. Coal put Malice down,
letting her explore the room. He and Kal again took their seats
sipped their tea. Coal elaborated upon the specifics of the
promotion, and Kal suggested that Coal attend the GED preparation
the mission offered. Then, they talked about the different
their lives. As they talked, Malice curled up in a chair beside
where she slept peacefully for the next hour.
Kal rose up slightly from his
chair, retrieving his wallet from his back
pocket. With a gleaming pride, he produced photos of his family
to view. First, he showed Coal a family portrait. "This is
Brad, Pete, Chance, and Aisa. " Kal grinned, pointing out each of
sons. "Brad and
Pete are both 13 now, and Chance and Aisa will
soon be 16."
Lovingly, he stroked his husbands face with his
finger. "This, of
course, is Love. Kanawha Darkstorm."
Coal studied each of the
faces carefully, looking at Kal and smiling every so
often. "Quite a
handsome family you have there, Kal. You
know Aisa and Brad honestly look a good bit like you and so much like
other. Were they brothers to begin with?"
"No, not until this past year." Kal snickered. "But,
they do look the part. Pete looks a lot like Love, I think,
hair is much lighter. Then, of course, there is Chance."
Coal was still looking at the
photo as he replied. "Man, he looks
so much like the both of you. Is he actually
Kal laughed. "Not biologically, but I know what
you mean. I
think if the two of us would have been able to have a child together,
have looked exactly like Chance." His pride for his family
evident, and Coal found himself captivated. "All five of them are
a Godsend, and I thank the good Lord every day for their being a part
Coal looked at the other
pictures as Kal explained each. Eventually, they
were on the last photo. "And this one is Aisa and Chance
Spring Formal this past year. They are a couple, by the way."
Coal was awestruck as he
contemplated how different life was for Kal's children
than it had been for him. Knowing all to well how difficult it
growing up gay, Coal found he held a new respect and admiration for
Kal; he had
given Chance and Aisa a loving home, something Coal had never had
himself. Coal also marveled at the idea of this young gay couple
a school dance together. 'Maybe their generation will make
the world a
better, more accepting place.' he thought to himself.
"So," Kal started, shaking Coal from
his thoughts, "is
there anyone special in your life these days?"
Coal sighed heavily. "Kal, you know no one is ever
gonna..." But, once
again, Kal cut him off before he could put
"Coal, you are a wonderful
guy. You are honest, handsome, smart,
charming, and hardworking."
He said, supportively squeezing
Coal's shoulder gently. "And, whether you want to admit it
not, you have a heart of gold in there. Any man would be lucky to
you in his life. But, someday, I just know that one man will be blessed
with having you as his lover."
Coal felt like he had an
intense sunburn, he was blushing so hard.
Sheepishly, he looked up at Kal, as his grin grew into a huge
Kal." He replied
The two continued their chat,
as time slipped past them during their
conversation. Taking notice of the clock, Coal reluctantly
it was time to get going, else he would be late. He thanked Kal
repeatedly for all of the help in turning his life around. Before
left, though, Kal gave him his cell and home phone numbers.
"Call me sometime, Coal. I
would really like you to meet Love and
the boys." Kal
"I think that would be nice." Coal grinned, feeling a
satisfaction from the contact and conversation with his hero.
Then, Kal did something Coal
wasn't expecting. He gave him a firm
hug. The connection was brief, but it left Coal with fond
loves you, Coal, and so do I."
Coal felt a strange feeling
slowly creep inside of him as he pondered those
"Be safe, and remember to call me." Kal grinned. He
then petted Malice on the head. "You take good care of your
daddy, girl, and remind him to use the phone if he forgets."
Coal laughed at Kal's
insistence. "I get
the hint, man. I
promise, I will call, and soon. I really hate to leave, but I am
late, and you know how she can worry."
"Then, I will see you soon,
buddy." Kal smiled,
nothing but positive feelings towards Coal. This made Coal once
realize why he idolized Kal so much.
Coal waved goodbye and exited
the building. The truck stalled again, but
finally turned over. After letting it warm up, Coal put it into
headed out. Malice yawned, and stretched, then resumed her nap as
heater blew warm air in her direction. Coal simply grinned,
Malice's comfort was assured.
Coal drove to the north side
of Raven Cliff, pulling into Crow's
Pharmacy. There, he picked up a few prescriptions for Mrs.
Next, he went to Talmage's to purchase a valve for her hot water
Afterwards, he drove to Mrs. Turner's home on the west side of
As Coal pulled into the
driveway, he looked up at the old garage apartment
fondly. He and Malice had lived there for a little over two years
Kal helped Coal fill out his application at Fresh Start. Three
later, Coal received the keys to his very own home. Though Mrs.
was sad to see him leave, she had told Coal how proud she was that he
officially living the American dream. She had even given Coal the
bedroom suite from the furnished apartment as a house-warming gift, the
was still using two years later.
The storm door creaked open
as Mrs. Turner stepped out on the stoop. Her cane
clanked sharply as it struck the concrete slab. "I hope you
brought Malice with you, because I have a special treat for her."
Coal grinned widely as he
took in the sight of her. Margery Turner stood
a tad shorter than her 5'2" frame due to her osteoporosis. She
bit hefty, fairly stout for a woman of 78 years. Her white hair
up on her head in a full bun, and her gold-framed glasses were at the
end of her
nose. Her steal-gray eyes were transfixed on Coal, shining with
warmth that her smile also presented.
As Coal reached to get the
prescriptions and the valve, Malice climbed his arm
and sat upon his shoulder. He then grabbed his toolbox from the
the truck and headed towards the door.
"Malice would have my hide if
she missed out on any of your treats,
always been rather
fond of your cooking."
She laughed. "It is Marge, not Ma'am, son, and
I can see Malice
is fond of someone else's cooking, too. Lord, she must have
couple of pounds in the last few months."
They both laughed as Malice
shot an indignant look towards Marge. "Sorry,
honey. We ladies tend to plump up as we get older." Mrs.
Apparently, Malice accepted
her form of an apology, for the cat leaped down and
stroked herself around Marge's legs with affection. Mrs. Turner
guests into the kitchen, where a fresh plate of catfish was awaiting
Malice. She had also prepared Coal a nice lunch. Marge
a small bowl with cold water from the fridge and sat it on the floor
Malice's treat. Then, she strong-armed the protesting Coal to the
to join her for lunch.
Smiling, she commented, "It is nice to have someone to
cook for, you
know, so don't feel like you are putting me out." She unfolded
her napkin and placed it on her lap. "Honestly, son, after all
these years, you should know better by now. Just politely concede
the protest." She
you are the
one doing me the favor, fixing my hot water heater and all."
Coal became flushed. "I'm just returning old favors."
They both began their meal,
exchanging idle chitchat and pleasantries.
Coal complemented Marge on her wondrous cooking, which she graciously
accepted. Marge made a few comments on how strapping and handsome
was, which caused him to blush deeply.
Laughing heartily, Marge
slyly commented. "You
know, I have a new
tenant who would be blown away by your charming good looks and kind
spirit. He works at the Medical Arts Center by the hospital, and,
is he ever handsome."
She paused, lifting her fork and pointing
it at Coal. "You
know, I could cook a special dinner to introduce
the two of you."
Coal was a mix of embarrassed
and warm-hearted. He knew Mrs. Turner cared
for him quite deeply. Though he tried to deny it to himself, he
strong feelings for her as well. She had often referred to him in
company of others as her grandson, and Coal knew this was how she truly
him. If he was honest with himself, he knew the perception went
Coal thought of arguing, but
he knew he would never win. To pacify Marge,
he smiled and simply said, "Maybe."
She reached over and took
Coals hand in her own. With a loving caress,
she stared into his pale silver-blue eyes. "Sooner or later, you
are going to have to let go of the past. You are not that person
more, Coal. You are a wonderful young man who deserves a lifetime
with a special partner."
A few tears whelped up in her
eyes. "I want you
to have the kind of happiness that George and I
Coal's thoughts turned to
George Turner. He was a kind man who, like
Marge, did not hold Coal's past against him. When George took
before his death three years back, Coal had promised to look after
Coal felt it was the least he could do for the kindness they had given
Coal had taken George's death
rather hard, for George was one of the few people
in Coal's life he even remotely trusted. George had been somewhat
father figure for Coal, and Coal had often wondered if his shady past
somehow cursed George with such a grueling death. Like many other
people who had come into his life, George was gone. Coal felt as
were a black cat crossing life's highway, bringing misfortune to all
he came into contact.
"He was a good man." Coal said somberly, bowing
Marge squeezed Coals
hand. "So is my new
She grinned. "He
has many of George's qualities. I know how
fond you and George were of one another, so I think he would be a
Coal just laughed. "I see." He skillfully replied,
keeping himself uncommitted to her matchmaking plans.
As Marge looked out the
window, her train of thought skipped track
quickly. "My Lord
in Heaven!" She
Coal looked out to see a
heavy snowfall beginning. "It looks like
we are in for a real good one." Coal sighed. He
his napkin and placed it on the table. "I best get to fixing your
hot water heater before Malice and I get snowbound."
"I could think of worse things." Marge quipped.
Coal laughed. "You know I didn't mean it like
"Of course you didn't." Marge grinned, assuring
that she was not offended. "But, I would never object to your
Malice's company. Besides, you could meet my new tenant this
Coal snickered as he made his
way into the utility room. There, he shut
off the water valve to the line. Next, he cut the line and
broken valve on the tank. After considerable effort, he installed
valve and soldered the line back together. Assured there
leaks, he sat for a moment, just admiring his handiwork.
This was a skill he had
learned from helping George around the house and his
old apartment. Coal smiled tearfully many times while completing
repair. In his mind, he could hear George's instructions as if he
standing right beside him. It also brought about a whirlwind of
bittersweet memories of the times the two of them had spent together.
This, in turn, caused Coal to
contemplate Marge's words about her new tenant
and Coal forgiving himself for his past. Coal wondered if someone
really love him, and the possibility of it all made him smile.
began envisioning that special person finding out about his past.
was just not sure he wanted to risk being hurt like he had been so many
before in life. He was, after all, still jaded by the darkness.
It was just before five when
the repairs were finished. Coal thanked Mrs.
Turner again for the lunch and Malice's treat. She slipped a
his shirt pocket to reimburse him for his expenses, though Coal knew
would be a little extra for what she considered to be his trouble.
Marge then gave him a small bag of baked goods to take with him, asking
think about the dinner. He promised he would, then turned to
"Just a minute." Marge called to him, as she
the living room. She returned with a scarf she had knitted for
Coal. Wrapping it around his neck, she smiled. "I can't let
my grandson get sick on me, you know."
Coal was deeply touched,
knowing Mrs. Turner had taken the time to make
something so special for him. Feeling himself getting misty eyed,
cast his gaze to the floor. "Thanks." He said
Marge raised his head with
her hands and kissed Coal on the cheek. "I
love you, son. Never doubt that for a moment." She
smiled. "Well, be
careful going home, and please, call me and let
me know you made it safely."
"I promise." Coal smiled. He
gathered up Malice
and turned for the door. "I'll let you know about the
too." He added, just
While the truck warmed, Coal
cleared the walkway for Mrs. Turner. With a
grin of excitement, he did the same for the mystery man tenant Marge had
raved so much about. He mused to himself that perhaps Mrs. Turner
right. Maybe it was time he tried to let someone inside.
broadened as he finished his task, wondering to himself what this guy
really like. Seeing that, at most, only a couple inches of snow
fallen, Coal did not clear the drive.
He slid in the truck with a
zeal of enthusiasm. He and Malice then drove
towards home, stopping at Tilly's Grocery along the way. His mind
spinning as he contemplated Marge's dinner offer while he walked across
parking lot. He was leaning towards accepting the invitation when
entered the store. Coal had several things to get, but the lines
long except for the express lanes. Having Malice with him, he
just get a few essentials and do the bulk of the shopping later.
retrieving the necessities, he quickly checked out.
Malice was not thrilled with
the cold winds from where Coal had opened the
baby, but Daddy has to get in if we are going to
get home." He
The storm was really getting
bad when Coal put the keys into the
ignition. With extreme effort, the old truck turned over.
few minutes, the sun was setting, and Coal and Malice were back on the
It was now dark, and the snow
was falling in a fast fury. The large
flakes looked almost like chicken feathers to Coal. Though the
in four-wheel drive, he carefully navigated the vehicle through the
streets. He was just a mile or so from home when he saw a young
running towards the street. The kid was naked, and appeared to be
out. "What the
exclaimed, bringing the
truck to a dead stop.
Coal put the truck in
park, leaving the door ajar as he jumped out to see what was the
The naked kid ran on, getting closer and closer to Coal. "Oh,
God! Oh, God!"
He heard the young man cry as he came into
"Buddy, what's wrong?" Coal asked softly, as the boy
to a stop. The kid was hysterical, so Coal wrapped him tightly in
arms. "It's OK." He soothed, holding the
terrified young man even closer to him. After he held him for a
Suddenly, Coal felt a sharp
pain along the back of his head, neck and
shoulders. It knocked him to his knees, the feeling was so
"You should have minded your own
angry voice yelled. Coal had been so overtaken by the boy, he
the others coming. It was a mistake that would cost him dearly.
"Oh, God, No!" The kid screamed, as two
grabbed him, dragging him away from Coal.
"Now we're gonna finish what we started, you fucking faggot!"
One of them hissed.
Coal willed his body to move,
but someone grabbed a large tuft of his hair and
tugged forcefully, causing his head to be pulled backwards
Then, he felt a sharp sting, followed by a burning sensation along his
Coal reached up to grab hold of his throat. Pulling his hands
was panicked to find them drenched in blood.
"Told ya, you should have minded
your own business, fucker."
The angry voice shouted.
Coal was shoved to the
ground, as his attacker walked over him, stepping on his
back and head. Coal painfully looked up, only to see the three of
beating the daylight out of the poor kid he had tried to help. He
to yell, but only a gurgling of blood was produced. He was in
he helplessly rolled over onto his back. In the distance, he
the cries of the young boy, the pounding blows of the attackers, and
obscenities being shouted. He gasped many times in sheer
Then, logic took over. He pulled the scarf Mrs. Turner had made
tightly around his neck, trying his best to control the bleeding.
Coal could feel himself
becoming weaker, as his life force was swiftly oozing
from his body. His mind raced in so many random directions... the
the past, and the present. He saw himself at Mrs. Turner's,
wonderful dinner with Marge and her tenant. Then, he saw Kal on
they first met, his loving eyes beckoning Coal to trust
heartbeat later and Eric Sneed was standing over him on the playground
grade, taunting him as always. Then, there was George squatting
him, as he was teaching Coal how to fix the damaged pipes to the
in his old garage apartment. Twila Black replaced George, as she
over Coal with the strap drawn back, as she prepared to
painful lesson of his worthlessness. In a flash, Coal was fixing
breakfast for his darling Malice.
His eyes glistened as the
wave of tears washed down his cheeks. Silently,
he sobbed with soul-felt sorrow. 'Oh, God! What will happen
baby?' his mind
As if summoned by his
thoughts, Malice edged her way upon his chest.
Carefully, she curled up along his neck, as Coal often found her when
in the mornings. Lovingly, she licked his face and nuzzled her
along his cheek.
'Oh, baby girl! Daddy
loves you so much.'
Coal mentally stated,
knowing he could not verbalize his affections any longer. He just
that she knew his ever-present thoughts were filled with the fondness
for his beloved feline friend. For the first time in many, many
Coal turned to God in prayer, asking that he send someone special to
Malice should he die.
As the darkness closed in
upon him, Coal saw Rory. He was walking over to
Coal, as Coal sat under a tree on the playground eating his
seated himself just inches from Coal, while Coal felt his stomach tie
into a million tiny knots.
"Hey. How are you
smiled, wiping his
sun bleached blond hair from his face. This gave Coal a clear
view of the
dazzling jade eyes that captivated him so deeply.
Coal tried to speak, but as
Rory reached into his brown paper bag to get his
sandwich, his taut, silky smooth arm brushed along Coal's leg.
made a small gasp, as he was once again rendered speechless.
moment, Coal glanced slightly at Rory, blushing profusely.
Rory's smile just
OK, Coal. You don't
have to talk if you don't want to." His soft teen voice was
heaven's harmony to Coal's ears. "Let's just enjoy our lunch
Every day, Rory tried his
best to make a connection with Coal, but it always
ended in the same results: Coal was just too overwhelmed with
speak. As Coal thought back on his life, over all the heartaches
he had endured, there was one thing he regretted more than anything
He never was able to thank Rory for being so kind to him. Coal
realized that Rory was the only person in his childhood to ever reach
out to him,
to treat him like a real person, and to acknowledge that Coal had any
all. That thought haunted him as he sank further into the depths
that is a wrap for chapter one, and remember, I said before it was a
bit darker a tale than OF LOVE AND CHANCE. The next installment
out shortly. Again, if you
have any comments, suggestions, etc., I would love to hear
Please contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org