Boy in the Rain -- Chapter 3
The thin trail of smoke from the burning incense stick swirled in a hypnotically fluid motion in front of Jesse's face. The room he was sitting in was originally planned as a small breakfast room, but when Jesse saw the excellent view of the beautiful garden through the huge window that made up one of the walls he immediately scrapped all ideas of having breakfast in luxury.
He made the room into what he called his `quiet space'. Totally devoid of furniture except for a small altar in front of the massive window and a straw mat on the floor, this was where he came to meditate and be alone.
The `altar' was not what one would expect a traditional altar would be. Jesse was by no stretch of the imagination run-of-the-mill Christian, and his altar reflected that. It was full of crystals, incense holders, candles and other pretty items like pinecones and pieces of moss-covered bark.
He used to go to church and read his Bible every night before he went to sleep, but eventually he realised that the religion had let him down. Practice what you preach. That had always been one of his favorite mottos. The churchgoers, including the priest, apparently didn't hold the same value to that phrase that he did.
He picked up a long, thin white candle and lit iit. Keeping it in his hands, he stared at the flickering flame and silently said a prayer:
To the powers that be, he started.
I ask that you help me through this business with Toby. I... He hesitated.
I think that I may be beginning... It's soon, but I think I may be beginning to like him too much. I really don't want to. I don't want another Donnie. I don't want to open my heart and soul to another person, just to have them walk all over it again. The intensity of the emotions that coursed through him was such that he started to tremble all over. He continued:
Help me to help Toby, and then help me to forget him. He finished. But he didn't get up. He closed his eyes, wincing as a sharp pain shot up in his right eye near where Toby's fist got him, and sat there on the straw mat until the candle wax covered his hands and the sky was darkening outside.
Toby had been drifting in and out of sleep the whole day long. When he finally woke up and felt refreshed, it was starting to get dark. The alarm clock on Jesse's side of the bed showed in bright red 5:49PM. He was desperately trying to think of a way to get out of the house. He could remember that he punched someone this morning, but he couldn't remember who.
All he knew was that he was waking up from a dream where his father was chasing him out of the house with his magnum. He quickly changed his train of thought. He didn't feel up to thinking of the events of the previous day.
He quietly got up out of the bed and walked over to the window. There weren't any burglar bars on it, and the window opened up big enough for him to climb out of it. The only problem was that right underneath the window there was a thorn bush that looked like it might be able to do a lot of damage.
Just as he turned around to look for some clothes to wear, the bedroom door opened and a handsome man that looked to be around thirty years old walked in.
As was his habit, Darren sized the boy that stood in front of him up before talking. The boy had straight, black hair that came to just under his ears and one of the whitest skins that Darren had ever seen. His eyes were a shocking blue, and Darren realized with amusement that they reminded him of his Husky's eyes. They had that same electric quality. Continuing his scrutiny of the boy, he saw that he was rather short and skinny. Not what you would call emaciated, but rather very scrawny.
The only thing that rivaled the whiteness of the boy's skin at that moment was the redness of his cheeks. Darren could see that he was definitely not used to standing naked in front of other people. Not only was the boy blushing profusely, he had also covered himself up with his hands the instant Daren walked into the room.
`W-who are you?' the boy asked nervously. Darren smiled comfortingly.
`My name is Darren. I am Dave's b-' Darren blushed as he realized the mistake he almost made. `I am a friend of Dave's. And you are Toby. You gave us quite a scare, you know.' Toby's blushed deepened even more, something that Darren had previously though impossible.
`I'm sorry,' he said, his eyes downcast. `I-I didn't mean to... cause trouble.' The boy started to shiver. Whether it was from the cool air on his exposed skin or from nervousness Darren could not say.
`It's not a problem. Why don't you get back into the bed? You look cold.' Toby walked over to the bed, and Darren made a show of averting his gaze so that the boy could get in with less embarrassment.
`Now,' Darren started. `I am a social worker. Why were you in the rain yesterday?' The question was deliberately abrupt so as to catch the boy of guard.
`Er... er... I uhm missed my bus, sir.' Toby stuttered.
Darren smiled at him before saying, `Let's cut the crap, please. I'm neither stupid nor fifty years old.' Toby looked at him blankly. `In other words,' Darren continued, `stop lying to me, and for God's sake, stop calling me sir. My name is Darren.'
Toby looked Darren full on in the eyes. They sat there, on Jesse's bed, staring at each other. Darren knew that if he was to break eye contact at that moment things could have taken a turn for the worse. Finally, Toby averted his gaze.
`Can I trust you?' Toby softly whispered, a suspicious look on his face. Darren could see that the boy was not going to open up easily. Something bad must have happened to this one. Still, he wasn't going to give up.
`Look,' Darren said. `I can see that you don't really want to talk about this, but it is necessary. I will let you think about it for a little while longer, and I'll come to talk to you later this evening.' He got up. `Oh, before I go. You can trust Jesse you know. He's a good kid.'
Just as he was about to exit the room, Toby called, `Darren?'
`Who did I punch this morning?' Darren bit his bottom lip. This was something that could make getting the information out of Toby much harder.
`Jesse,' he answered. `You punched Jesse.' He then turned around and walked out of the room without saying another word.
`He's a scared little puppy, that one.' Darren said. He was sitting with Dave under the big oak tree in the garden. It was around seven o'clock and the sunset bathed the whole garden in an orange glow.
`Yes, I know,' Dave replied. `I just wonder why he punched Jesse. You saw him this morning when we went up there. He's got a shiner like you won't believe and the little bastard who gave it to him is lying in Jesse's bed at this very moment.' Darren could see that Dave was getting worked up.
`He didn't even know that it was Jesse.' Darren said. `He just asked me before I left who he had punched.'
`He didn't know?!' Dave exclaimed. `How the... How could he not know?'
`I don't know. But this is worrying me. I hinted at Toby that Jesse would be a good listener. Hopefully he'll talk to him.' The sun was almost done setting now. The sky was a deep purple with a streak of orange right on the horizon. Darren closed his eyes and took Dave's hand in his own.
`Hopefully he will...' Dave said.
`Hey.' The small voice gave Jesse a fright and he jumped up from his straw mat, the meager remnants of the candle still in his hands. He had been sitting in his quiet room for a couple of hours by now, and the whispered word sounded much louder to him than usual. He turned around. Toby was standing by the door in Jesse's maroon bathrobe. He had a stressed look on his face.
`I'm sorry...' Toby said in the same whispered voice. Jesse could feel his heart pound. What reaction did this boy have on him? Not ready to speak yet, he just gave a curt nod and pointed to the floor. After depositing what was left of the candle he sat down on his straw mat again and crossed his legs. Toby followed his lead and dropped down to the floor next to him, clutching his legs as he sat.
The sat there in silence for a little while. It was completely dark outside by now, and the only light coming from the room was the soft glow from the candles on the altar and in Jesse's hands.
It was Jesse who broke the silence, `What happened this morning?' Toby's face, which had taken on a serene look in the last couple of minutes, tensed up again. His body became rigid and he sat more upright.
`I... I don't know.' Again the soft voice. `I was waking up from a bad dream I guess.' Jesse got instantly irritated.
`You gave me a black eye because you had a bad dream?' He said incredulously.
Toby lowered his head and murmured, `You don't understand.'
`Then make me!' Jesse exclaimed. `Make me understand what has been happening these last twenty four hours, because things are pretty damn confusing to me now.' He lowered his head in his hands, suddenly ashamed of his outburst. `Sorry,' he said. `I didn't mean to speak to you like that.' Silence descended on the room again.
There he was, sitting right in front of Toby with just a pair of loose white cotton pants on. No shirt. Fuck, he thought, this is beauty in its purest form. Toby was struggling inside. He was not stupid enough to believe that Darren's comment about Jesse being trustworthy was just a matter-of-fact tidbit. He knew that Darren wanted him to talk to Jesse -- was using Jesse to get to him.
But on the other side, he really did feel like he could trust Jesse. Gentle Jesse whom had shown so much compassion in the last day. What choice do I have in any case? If these people cannot help me I am out on the streets -- for good.
He took a couple of seconds to gather some strength for the ordeal that he was going to live through again before saying, `Okay. I'll tell you.'