15 And Life To Go - Chapter One

By: Brian Barnes

brian.jacobmillertex@aol.com

http://15andlifetogo.jacobmillertex.com

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Disclaimer: This story is a work of fiction involving teenagers in adult situations. If this offends you, please do not continue.

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“All rise for the Honorable Judge Hubert Q. Jackson presiding over docket number two four seven nine two, the people versus Nathaniel Bessie!”

Here I was again. Even before I entered the tiny courtroom I knew I was in for a long, boring day. One would think you could just waltz in and take a guilty plea to a simple misdemeanor charge and be done with it, but of course not. What fun would it be if the “honorable” prick up there on the bench didn’t tell me to stand up straight twenty times, and squint those beady eyes in my direction while he reminded me to address him as ‘sir’? Who the hell does he think he is anyway? As if he could last five minutes in my neighborhood without someone wiping that pompous look off his face. I know the drill; He’ll inform me that he is disappointed to see another bright mind wasted, remind me exactly how many times I’ve stood in that same exact spot, and to round out his dog and pony show, he’ll pick up the big book and point a corner at me while he hands down my fate. It’s probably more community service, which I really don’t mind. It gets me out of the house and away from my obnoxious siblings for a few days.


“.... Do you agree to the terms I set forth for you Mr. Bessie???” Shit, I wasn’t listening. Too busy daydreaming trying to figure out what in the hell the ‘Q’ in his name stood for. I think I settled on ‘Queenie’ before I was snapped back to reality. Oh well, I’m still a minor, so they can’t send me to jail for a simple fight in the park, right? “Yessir! Where do I sign?” I announced a little too eagerly. I should have realized something was wrong when the man in the black robe cocked his eyebrow up in a look of confusion at my answer, but that’s me. Never was one to read the fine print or ask many questions.


With a quick shuffle of the papers in front of him, the judge asked “In that case Mr. Bessie, in the matter of aggravated battery in the first degree, how do you plea?” “Guilty as charged, your honor!” I replied shamelessly. Standing at the defendant’s table, I had to go through the normal motions and answer a few more boring questions, ya’ know, like if I was coerced into plea bargaining, or if somehow I went temporarily insane when I said I was guilty. Just then he said something I couldn’t quite grasp. Wait, what?!? It wasn’t until I asked the judge to repeat himself that it finally sank in.


“This court orders you a ward of the state for a period of no less than one year, and no greater than the period of time until your 18th birthday to be served in a facility better suited for your current needs. Please, Mr. Bessie, make good use of your time in detention. I know that underneath that forged steel exterior lies an equally intelligent young man. This court is adjourned!”
He is sending me to prison. The prick is seriously sending me up state with murders and rapists. Wild thoughts ran through my head at the speed of light. How the hell am I getting a state issued number just for kicking my sister Katelyn’s husband’s face in?!? If that man knows what’s best for him, he’d head for the hills the day I bunk ‘n junk, ‘cause I might not be able to hold myself back this time. Some might call this justice, but its complete bullshit. That abusive son of a bitch gets to roam free while I have to worry about the jail house ganstas raping my cute ass.
My public defender informed me that he would stop by my holding cell before he heads off home. Why he felt in necessary to remind me he gets to go “home” is beyond me. Why was he even here in the first place? It’s not like he even attempted to get me a deal. If I would have known prison was an option, I would have come prepared, and I sure as hell would not have pled guilty.
The little cell they have me and about twenty other guys in looks like it was only built for two. We all stink. Jail does that to you for some reason. Most of us shower daily, sometimes twice just for something to do, but we smell like the old hobos that sleep under the Interstate after a week-long bender. I’ve only been in here for maybe five minutes and I think I’d agree to a life sentence just to get the hell out of here.


By the time my name was finally called through the cell door, I was more than ready. A burly court officer led me down a corridor behind what I assumed were the court rooms and judge chambers into a small office cubicle, where I was promptly shackled and told to “sit tight”. Before long, I was joined by another teen. Seeing the fear in the younger kid’s eyes somehow comforted me. I too, am scared to death, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to show it. I couldn’t help but wonder how a kid so innocent looking could be heading to the same place as me. Heck, he looked like a cherub from one of those stupid calendars my grandmother hung all over her house.
I guess the mystery got the best of me, ‘cause I found myself asking what he did to deserve to go to a hellhole we were in store for. Boy, was that a mistake. Before I knew it, the kid was in a ball on the floor crying his eyes out. Too stunned to move, I just decided to wait it out. “He can cry himself to sleep,” I told myself. After about a half hour, he still hadn’t stopped bawling. Mustering up the courage to break away from my hardened exterior, I attempted to console him the best I know how. Nudging him with my foot, I simply said “Fuck, dude. Get up and stop cryin’ like a little kid. It won’t be all that bad, ya know!” I know, I should have gone a little easier on him, but damn, he was annoying me. Apparently it worked. The waterworks finally reduced to a subtle sniffle.


He was rather cute, with his hair all messed up. I’ve always been a sucker for the blond boys, especially when they’re paired with cobalt blue eyes. Forgetting where I was for a moment, I allowed my mind to wander once again, only this time he was in the center of my mind’s eye. If I’m not careful, this dude will blow my cover. This is neither the time nor the place to get all hung up on a guy.


“Where are they taking us?” the nameless boy managed to utter. Wow, cute and clueless. That’s just my luck. I get to ride to the joint next to a guy I could dream about, just for him to turn out to be a little empty upstairs. “We’re going to the joint, dude. You know, the big house, the pen, the slammer....” I replied to a blank stare. Jesus, did I need to spell it out? “Prison, bro. We’re going to prison.” Half expecting the tears to return, I braced myself. All he did, though, was stare off into space shaking his head.
After another hour had come and gone, and I had finally placed my silent sidekick in damn near every one of my darkest fantasies, an older gentleman walked into the room. I’m sure you know the type. He was the kind of man that wore a wool flannel suit on a summer afternoon. Complete with those tacky ass elbow pads that never seemed to match the faded beige coat in the first place.


“Boys, my name is Wilbur DuPont. “, the crusty old man started. “My job here is to make sure you are placed properly in the Illinois Juvenile Detention System. I’ll explain the process all new juvenile offenders face upon intake into the system, as well as what to expect in the next couple of weeks during your stay with us. Let’s see here, we have Nathaniel Bessie, 15, repeat violent offender, and Jeffrey Burgis, 16, violent offender, class X.” Whoa, didn’t see that coming. A class X is like, murder or something. No way could that sweet kid, who surprisingly happens to be older than me by the way, slay a fly let alone a person. “Guys,” Wilbur continued, “I’m not going to lie and say this will be easy, but it’s up to me to make you comfortable for the duration. You’ll meet a lot of unpleasant characters, and people will try and take advantage of you. There is no way around that, but if you keep your noses clean, this will be over before you know it. “
I swear, you would think that he was our tour guide on a grand adventure somewhere in the tropics the way this shit rolled off his tongue. It makes me wonder if he plans on explaining to Jeffrey over here about his exciting new experiences to come, like late night wakeups from Bubba and his crew, or the great diet plans offered in the chow hall.
Wilbur rambled on for the next half hour explaining the finer points of juvie, warned us about joining the jail house gangs, and finally wished us all the best. All in all, it doesn’t sound like the end of the world. The longest I can be detained for is two and a half years, and that’s not too bad. From what I can gather from old man Wilbur, the rest of this week Jeff and I will be locked up in our county jail until the bus arrives to take us to a central juvenile hall. Once there, we will be in what is called “intake”. Sixty one days of isolation from all other inmates except for of our cellmates. No leaving our cells for meals, the showers come to us, and the only time spent outdoors is one hour twice a week by ourselves.


As I looked on over to Jeff, he was seriously shaking in his shoes. I’m personally used to this lifestyle, but this guy looks like he’s never seen any bad in his life. When the guys in the big house see him, he’s gonna be in trouble in a big way. Jeff stands at about 5 foot 4, and maybe 150 pounds, and that is being generous.


After being loaded up in the old paddy wagon, we set forth on our trip to the great old St. Clair County Jail. With us both being teenagers, we were going to be separated from the adults in general population of the jail, so we would both be in a cell block all to ourselves. Just the thought of a little one on one time got my head in the clouds again, only this time my wild fantasies seemed to end with cute lil’ Jeffrey going crazy and hacking me to death with a sawed off tooth brush. I’ve seriously gotta hear this dude’s story, if only for a little piece of mind.
Finally, after an exhausting day, we reached our final destination; Cell Block N2. The room is set up like a dormitory, with around twenty bunk beds lining one giant room. There were a couple of toilets in one corner that reeked to high heaven and a shower with absolutely no privacy in another. I chose to lay my head down on the bunk furthest from the nasty commodes, and I was down for the count.


At some time in the middle of the night one of the guards came in to check on us, and he wasn’t too quiet about it. Not that I actually expected him to give a damn, though. Turning over in my bunk, I noticed Jeff had parked it in the bed next to me. Even though he freaked me out a little bit, it was a little comforting knowing that we were going to go through hell together. Watching him sleeping all calm like that made me feel horrible. He has nothing to worry about for now, but the week will come to an end soon, and life behind the wall is about to get real. It’s strange, but a part of me is more worried for this perfect stranger, than I am for myself. With that thought, I drifted off to sleep again.


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Early the next morning I was awakened by a strange sensation. Have you ever gotten the feeling while you’re sleeping that someone is lurking in the shadows watching your every move, waiting to pounce? Slowly opening one eye, shielding myself from the artificial light, I found Jeff standing over my bed watching me sleep. Without even checking to see if he had a homemade shank ready to wipe away my essence, I fell off the bed backwards. And to think I was scared of “Bubba”, he ain’t got nothin’ on this little psycho.


“What the fuck are you doing?!?” I yelled, or screeched rather. My pulse was racing, sweat was dripping down my brow. “I don’t wanna hurt you, but I will if I have to!” I stated with far less confidence than I had planned.


“I’m...I’m sorry. I uh, I... the breakfast is here. I didn’t want to wake you up.” Jeff muttered and shrank away to the tables in the middle of the room. How was I ever going to survive the week? I don’t know whether to run and hide, or give the poor guy a hug. I guess going over there and talking to him might be a start. I took a seat at the table across from Jeff and just kind of watched him for a moment. Even though I’ve already decided that he is a cold blooded murderer, I can’t picture it.


“Hey bro, I didn’t mean to snap at ya. I’m Nate by the way. You gotta watch out for people around here, you know? Next guy you wake up like that might be a cold blooded killer...” As soon as the words left my mouth, Jeff’s eyes glazed over and his color drained from his face. I couldn’t believe it. The effect my statement made on him told me everything I needed to know. I might as well be breaking bread with Charles Manson himself. “Where ya from, anyways? Never seen you around here before,” I ventured.


“I’m used to live right down the road but I was homeschooled. My parents thought that the local schools were bad influences, but they were always really strict with me. See, my sister died years ago from a drug overdose after she ran away to Chicago. Ever since then I couldn’t sneeze without my parents double checking the locks.” Jeff answered. That explains his awkward nature I suppose. I went ahead and left it at that. I didn’t want to push too hard and have him clam up again.


I tried to stomach what this place called breakfast, but I ended up poking at it until it went cold. I’ve only been here about 8 hours and I’m already about to go bat shit crazy. Looking around the day room area I found a couple pencils, some old paper scraps, a deck of 47 cards, and a comb. I’m in for an exciting day. Guess I’ll do like most other inmates do and get my swell on. I might not be a guy with a perfect build, but I keep up, usually. Okay, that’s a bold faced lie, ‘cause I’m usually a bit too stoned to do much of anything, but I’m not too shabby either.


As I’m stripping down to my boxers, I happened to look over, and low and behold, cute little crazy Jeff is peering over his book catching a glance at me. Of course as soon as I caught him his eyes darted back to his worn copy of the Bible that he must have found stashed somewhere around here. Either my mind is doing some wishful thinking, or that boy is committing one of the seven deadly sins, lust, while reading the holiest books. Oh, the irony. I doubt it though. I couldn’t be that lucky. I can’t dismiss the thought though. Who knows, maybe a little jail house lovin’ is in the cards.


I think I got to about 75 pushups before my arms and shoulders felt ready to give way. I used to be able to do at least 100 without breaking a sweat. Must have gotten a little out of shape over the summer. Shaking off the pain, I switched positions ready to do about 40 abs ripping crunches. Before I could start, a shadow crept over my body. Looking up, I seen Jeff standing over me looking awkward and creepy yet again. Why couldn’t he be just a little normal? Any hint of sanity would make him a perfect 10.


“See something you like?” I inquired with a wink and a smile. The reaction I got was priceless; A mixture of guilt, fear, and embarrassment. I couldn’t have made that go any better if I tried. Now he’s standing there squirming looking for a life raft, but of course there is no way I was going to let this go easily. The rest of this week might just be a lot more bearable than I originally thought.


“Ca-can I um... can I join you?” Jeff finally stammered. I looked up surprised, “Um, I guess bro. I don’t plan on doing too much today, just some crunches and pushups. Strip down and let’s see what you got! ” Okay, yes, it was an excuse for me to see him outside of the orange jumpsuit. Can you blame me?!? Sure he’s adorable in his onesy, but that’s just a tease.


The apprehension Jeff was showing grew exponentially as he turned around and began to unbutton his jumpsuit. My heart began to race a little bit when the garment finally fell to the floor. I can’t remember a dude ever making me act like this. I better get a grip before I lose all concept of reality. When he finally turned around I couldn't believe what I was seeing. He was, how do I describe it? Perfect, Jeff was perfect. Cut like a swimmer, slim but muscular. Almost flawless. Almost. When I finally peeled my eyes away from his chest, I seen all the scars covering his body. I couldn’t comprehend what I was witnessing. It looked like someone with a butcher knife used him as a pin cushion. Who would do that to my Jeffy? (Whoa, did I just call him ‘my Jeffy’??!?)


“Jeff! What the hell, man? Who the fuck did that to you? I’d kill a motherfucker if they left me looking like that!” I knew I messed up as soon as I said it. Tears welled up in Jeff’s eyes once again, with reality smacking me right upside the head. It all made sense now. I knew that Jeff probably murdered someone, and now I probably know why. As Jeff started to cover back up I tried to undo what I just did to him. “Jeff, I’m sorry. You don’t have to hide ‘em. I was just surprised, is all. What happened though? You look like you’ve been to hell and back. Dude, come here bro.” I said motioning him back over.


I was never taught how to handle a situation like this. Stabbings, yes, but not to someone that either couldn’t handle it, or didn’t seem like the kind of person to deserve it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly a nice, warm and fuzzy kind of person, but I have my limits. There are some things you just don’t do, and taking advantage of the weak or na├»ve is one of the worst. Now here I am staring that victim right in the face. I swallowed my pride whole, and embraced Jeff in a hug as he broke down sobbing. I don’t really know what else to do.


Yesterday, I was your typical juvenile delinquent, rough and tough. I’ve always had a soft side, but I’ve done a great job of hiding it from the world. That started at a very young age when I brought home a wounded German Shepard puppy home, and my pa kicked my ass and tossed me out the door in the cold right along with the dog. “Puppies are for pussies” he said. I was only eight at the time. From that day forward I kept my feelings to myself, that is, until today. It’s all good, though. I get to hold onto a cute semi-nude dude, and he gets the comforting he seems to need so desperately.


“Sorry Nate, I didn’t mean to lose it on you again.” Jeff said, empty of emotion. “I’ve never been in trouble before, but everything is so...so.... unbelievably messed up. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this, but he wouldn’t stop. Why wouldn’t he just stop with me? Brad never hurt anyone, but he got the punishment too.”


“Hey, don’t worry about it. I don’t know what happened to ya, but I’m pretty good at reading people when I first meet ‘em. You seem like a good kid. Your smart, seem pretty normal, well, most of the time. So, whenever you want to talk, you can trust me bro. For now, let’s forget about pushups and shit, and just chill back and watch whatever is on the TV.” I walked over to the TV to try and figure it out, without any luck. It was hung on the wall with a big metal box around it with a Plexiglas front, but we had no remote. I don’t deal with failure very well, and I deal with television withdrawal even worse. I was in full fledge psychotic breakdown mode, bloodying my knuckles on the fake glass front when I heard Jeff giggling. When I looked, he was doubled over with tears in his eyes gasping for breath. One could only imagine how I looked standing on a table in nothing but my boxers kicking and screaming at a powerless TV. Before long I gave into my inner child and joined Jeff in hysterical laughter.


The rest of the afternoon was rather eventless. Lunch came and went. We ate mystery meat sandwiches and cold beans. Yum! All we could really do is sit around and chat. Nothing special, but I did learn a lot about the mysterious Jeffery Burgis. He isn’t into sports, but he’s smart as hell. Right before summer started he completed all of his high school course work, and had planned on going to Washington University’s med school to try his hand at his doctorate. I also learned that Bradley was his little brother. To me it sounded like Brad was Jeff’s only friend in this world, and based on where we both ended up, I’d pity a fool that would mess with Jeff’s brother. I still don’t know who hurt the both of them, but I have a pretty good idea it was his father. I tried to look for clues without going and flat out asking him, but Jeff never mentioned his parents, period. Not even in the past tense. Without even realizing it, hours had passed, and it was dinner time. Even though I knew the food was going to be shit, I was hungry as hell.


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As day two of my prison sentence came to a close, I brushed my teeth and decided to wait until morning to shower. I had a feeling I’d me more ‘up’ to it right after waking up. When I tucked myself in my bunk, I looked over to Jeff and wished him a good night. He thanked me for listening earlier, and repeated my night’s blessings and went back to what looked like sketching on the scrap paper I found earlier. I smiled and drifted off to meet up with the Sandman, and it didn’t take long. Right before I fully gave my subconscious control, I overheard Jeff praying:
“...Dear Lord, thank you for protecting and watching over me. I know I did wrong, and I deserve to be punished. I’m sorry for what I did, but I was only trying to save Bradley. I failed and now I have to pay the price. Thank you for sending Nathaniel here with me. He’s a true friend. Please don’t let him leave me. I need him... Amen”


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The next morning I woke up to the sound of running water. Just the thought of my bunkmate lathering himself up just a mere few feet away made all of me stand at attention, but the need to relieve an achy bladder took precedence. The toilets were close enough to the showers that I might get lucky and catch a peek at some premium hottie ass. As I made my way over to the stainless steel commodes, I actually got quite nervous, which is yet another new sensation that I am not used to. By the time I actually made it to my destination, I almost peed all over myself ‘cause I was shaking like a leaf. Man I’ve got it bad. Stealing a glance through the holes in the jail’s sorry excuse for a shower curtain I got more than I bargained for. Jeff stood, in all his teenage glory, his head back, with one hand on the wall, and the other stroking like a pro. I wanted to stop everything and join him, but I had a feeling that would be a game ender with super-shy Jeff. That is until I heard what he was murmuring under his breath...


“Oh God, Nate! Oh God, I’m gonna...!”


As Jeff blew his load, the shock tore through me and I literally tripped over both my feet and went headlong right into the corner of the toilet. Needless to say, the pain was blinding. All I could hear was wet footsteps and Jeff screaming for help. When the guard came running in, the look of surprise was priceless. Here I am with my jumpsuit around my knees all sprawled out on the floor with a very naked (and breathtaking) Jeff standing over me. You should have heard the homophobic jokes coming out of the mouths of the over-paid jailers. I wouldn’t mind being the butt-end, literally, of any one of the jokes, but they still pissed me off. I tried to tell them to shut the fuck up, but all that came out was a mumble of random sounds. Jeff came to my rescue, and surprised even himself. He straight up yelled “Don’t you FUCKING pigs have anything better to do?!? He’s bleeding to death and you’re making jokes. Do you know who I am? One phone call, that’s all that stands between your job and the unemployment line!” With that, the “pigs” instantly got serious, and the mystery surrounding Jeff got even bigger. Who was this boy?


Finally the nurse showed up. She, unlike the guards, was very nice. Mandy, as she introduced herself, bandaged my head, gave me a cold compress, and told me not to fall asleep. After this morning, I highly doubt I’ll be getting a wink of sleep for days to come. She asked Jeff to keep an eye on me, and he was more than willing to agree. I think he was a little too enthusiastic, as Mandy looked at him, then me and winked with a smile.


Once all the excitement wound down, and the guards departed after leaving our breakfast on the tables, Jeff and I settled down to eat. I once again opted to skip the meal, but I sat down with Jeff anyway. We had to talk, and Jeff had some serious explaining to do. “So Jeff, um, thanks, you know, for earlier... I was, that was...uh, stupid, ya know?” I started. Before I could begin my interrogation, Jeff stopped me. “It’s okay. I thought you... I mean, you’re not mad at me are you?” he inquired. “Me?” I asked, “Mad? Um, no. You did kind of handle things back there. I am, however, a little surprised. I keep trying to find out about you, but the mystery surrounding you keeps getting deeper and deeper. Like, seriously, who are you that you can work those cops like that?”


“My mom’s father, my grandfather, is Shawn Whitmore. He’s the county sheriff. In other words, he’s the boss of all these wannabe police around here. He actually lives in an apartment above the jail here, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by seeing up there. It’s like a penthouse suite. I hope I can trust you, because I doubt people around here would like it much if they knew what family I came from.” Finally, an actual explanation. Of course him telling me all this only leads to more questions. Why didn’t Grandpa pull some strings for Jeff? Did his Gramps pull some strings, and this is the best he could do? Why am I so friggin’ interested in Jeff’s story? I’m so close to going loony thinking about it. Besides, there are more important things to think about. Such as, why exactly was he whispering my name while he was pleasuring himself in the shower? I deserve to know, seeing as I almost killed myself witnessing it. How should I go about it though? If I say the wrong thing I will blow any chance of getting close to him. Strangely enough, where yesterday my dreams included no clothing and lots of sweat were replaced with closeness and just being together. I’ve heard the movies talking about the feeling that you’ve known somebody a lot longer than just a couple of days. It’s a good experience, yet hard to explain. I didn’t know him just mere couple of days ago, but I could almost place him by my side in all my memories. He just... fits.


As I was just about to get my nerve up to bring up the shower scene, Jeff got up from the table and laid down on his bunk. Damn, I missed the chance. Oh well, we should still be here for another couple of days before we part paths. That is a depressing thought. Following suit, I parked it in my bed, and before I knew it, I was out like a light.


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SMACKKK!!!! I woke with a start. My cheek was burning like a sonnofa. Jeff slapped me, what the hell? “You’re not supposed to sleep Nate!” He almost yelled. He was sitting on my bunk, right over my face. Oh jeez, here come the butterflies again. Think, Nate, think. I sat up just a little, inched my hand on top of his. I was looking directly into his beautiful eyes, and they seemed to be begging me to continue. I started inching forward, ready to show Jeff how I feel. Right when I could feel his warm breath on my lips, the door to the cell block unlocked, and Jeff shot out of the bunk in a flash. DAMMIT!! Soooo close, yet again foiled.


The nurse Mandy walked in to check on my wound. I’m not sure if she could sense my uneasiness, or if it was Jeff’s pacing back and forth in the dayroom, but Mandy couldn’t stop snickering. I bet she just loved torturing me like this. I get the impression she knows a helluva lot more than she lets on. Before she left for the second time today, she leaned in and whispered “You know, if you ever needed privacy, the camera can’t see into that corner over your shoulder.” As I watched her walking away still cackling away I still sat, stunned. I hope we aren’t that obvious to everyone else. Maybe she is just an extremely intuitive lady. Here’s wishing....


Jeff came back over and sat down, except he was on his own bunk this time. “Nate, I can’t do this. Don’t get me wrong, I want to. I REALLY want to, but we’re in jail, and who knows if we will ever see each other again. I kind of already knew about you Nate. I tutored your sister Katelyn when she was studying for the GED. Katie used to talk about you a lot. One day we had to stop by your house, and you were in the driveway working on a car. I’m surprised she never told you, because she wouldn’t let me live it down. According to her, I needed to pick my jaw up off the ground before I started catching flies. That’s why I’ve been a little nervous around you. But we can’t. Maybe when we meet up again sometime, who knows?"


By this time, I am about to have an anxiety attack. I cannot believe what I’m hearing. Not only did he just admit to feeling about exactly how I felt, he backed it up with history of liking me when I didn’t even know he existed, yet he refuses to take it even an inch further because of this shitty situation we are both in. Ironic as it is that we wouldn’t have even met if I wouldn’t have avenged my sister’s honor and he didn’t do, well, whatever he did. Screw this. I’m Nate, and Nate doesn’t fail. Ever. I reached over and took him by the hand and led him to Mandy’s suggested blind spot, and pinned him up against the wall, with the words dripping from my mouth like venom “I get that this sucks. I get that we are in jail, and we might not see each other again after this. I fucking like you Jeff. I know why you’re doing this, yet I can’t understand why we can’t just see.” With that, I forced myself forward, and stole the kiss I had been previously waiting patiently for. At first Jeff struggled a little bit, but that didn’t last long. He wanted this just as bad as I did, and by the way his legs seemed to be weakening, he was mine for as long as I wanted.


I’m no slut, but I’m not exactly a novice as far as guys go. I’ve got a few notches on the bed post, but never, ever, have I felt like this. I’m used to rough, animalistic sex followed by a joint and a smoke. I can’t even picture that with Jeff. I couldn’t exactly put my finger on the emotion until I seen my reflection in the scratched up mirror on the wall. I was smiling. Not my sly, shit-eating smirk, but a genuine teeth showing, dimple popping smile. I wasn’t scared when I kicked dude’s teeth in to get locked up, wasn’t scared in juvie when the other inmates tried to punk my ass, and again had to keep the tooth fairy busy. Hell, I wasn’t all too scared when that fucking judge handed me down an overkill sentence, but here I stand; terrified yet smiling.


As I was brushing myself off, and trying my best to maintain self-control, Jeff brushed past me and gently whispered in my ear “I hope you know how to finish what you started Nate!” and then just kept walking. He doesn’t fool me at all. When I first met him, he seemed to be a shell of a boy, but now his grin was about to split his head in half. Now he’s mine. My boyfriend. I have a boyfriend. It just dawned on me, this is the first time I can honestly say that. The shame of it is, I have nobody to go run and tell. The only person I would want to tell is Katie, but she is still mad that I whooped up on her husband. Not knowing what to do next, I plopped down on my bunk and watched Jeff with his head in the clouds, dreaming the day away. Oddly enough, I feel lucky today.


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We remained that way for some time. Jeff sitting in the dayroom thinking about who knows what, and me on my bunk thinking about you know who. Everything was perfect, content. Every so often Jeff would glance over, and catch my eye. Instantly his grin would grow, and his natural bashfulness made him look away with his face a nice shade of pink. I should go sit over there with him, but now I’m the nervous one. What do I say? What if I sound like an idiot? I seriously thought the hard part would be the kiss, boy was I wrong. Now all I can think of is the end of the week. Maybe Jeff was right. We’re going to be apart for at least a year. What if he’s locked up much longer than me? I still don’t have any of the actual details of his crime. What if I mess up and cheat? I don’t think I will, but that’s now. A year from now, I might be pretty damn desperate. I am just a guy, you know.


My thoughts were interrupted when a large older man in a business suit walked right into the cell block like he owned the place. He looked like he came straight from cowboy country complete with the boots and a genuine Stetson hat. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think he was packing a pair of six shooters on his hips. I wasn’t the only one intimidated by this dude. Jeff started fidgeting the minute the stranger made his presence known.


“Jeffery, my boy, how are you surviving? Everyone treating you alright? Come give your papa a hug!” The man boomed. That explained it, he DID own the place. I wanted to give those two some privacy, but there really wasn’t any way to do that, so I decided now might be the best time to try and take a nap. I thought it would be better to be unconscious then do something to piss off the sheriff. From the looks of it, one wrong move and he would prep the gallows and my ass would be hanged.


After what felt like hours of sleep I was startled awake yet again. This time it was my perfect little Jeff screaming at the top of his lungs. I couldn’t make out what was being said at first, but that didn’t stop me from running to his defense. Sheriff or not, nobody is going to hurt Jeff in here. By the time I finally reached the day room, Jeff was inches from his “papa’s” face screaming every four letter word in the book. When Jeff seen me coming, he finally calmed down a hair, just enough for his words to become understandable. “Grandpa, there is NO FUCKING WAY I’m going the easy way, and he has to be locked up like a dog! NO WAY! I killed my dad and kidnapped my brother and it’s a fucking country club visit, and all he did was get in a fight?!? NO WAY! WE BOTH GO OR NEITHER DOES!”


What did I just walk into? He killed his dad, I fucking knew it! For some reason that doesn’t affect me like I thought it would. I almost know exactly how that must have went. Dad went after his brother, and Jeff lost it; offed his dad and saved his brother. Where did he go? Aw, my poor baby boy. Before I knew it Jeff was in tears again, and without even realizing it he was in my arms with me whispering sweet nothings in his ear. I put my forehead to his and told him everything will be alright, that we would make it through this together. I forgot that we weren’t alone until I heard the sheriff clear his throat.


“Gentlemen, I don’t even want to know what this is between you two, but I think I understand what is going on here. Nate, is it? My name is Shawn Whitmore. My grandson here doesn’t believe you deserve to be here. I, in turn, think that he has no business in the Illinois Department of Corrections. If I had known what that man did to my grandkids, I would have killed him myself, but the powers that be have spoken. The district attorney here in Saint Clair has a hard-on for my position as sheriff, and made an example of Jeff. He somehow thought that might just make me give up and hide, but all it really did was piss off a stubborn old man. I can’t do anything to help anyone until they end up here, at MY house. The real reason you two are here for a week is so that I can call in a favor for my boy Jeff here. There is no way I can allow him to be locked up with hardened criminals for trying to protect his brother. Now, granted you weren’t supposed to know any of this, but now my hands are tied. I don’t know how you know Jeff, but he puts me to shame in the stubbornness department. I must admit, I haven’t even looked at your file, and if first impressions mean anything, you look like you’ve been around the block a time or two, but I’ve never known Jeff to be wrong about someone. I’ll try to see what I can do to keep you two together, but boy, you better beware. The concept of an easier stay might seem great now, but if you hurt Jeff in any way, or step out of line your time in lockup will be worse than you can even imagine. Do you understand Nathanial?”


I think I nodded. I mean, I told my mouth to say yes sir, I told my hand to shake his, and I tried to smile, and none of that happened, but he said “Glad to have an understanding!” and walked away, so I’m assuming I nodded. I’m a bit too numb at the moment to properly process any thoughts or control my actions. Jeff did this. He’s keeping us together. He risked going to maximum security just to keep me somewhat nearby. Never in my 15 years on this earth has anyone stuck up for me, period. It was always me, and only me. A team of one. I didn’t notice when the tears began to fall, but before long the flood gates of repressed memories and all the shit that I bottled up for many years came flowing out like a river, and I finally let it all go.


Jeff pulled me close and ushered me back over to my bunk. He didn’t seem to mind seeing me in my most vulnerable state. He simply laid me down and crawled in next to me, gently petting my head and reminding me that he’s not going anywhere. As we laid there, we heard dinner get delivered, but neither of us moved, not caring if we were seen in an awkward position, let alone in a rush to eat. All we needed now was to be close, together. If this is how the rest of my days end up, I’d serve a life sentence with Jeff by my side.


Before we both drifted off to sleep in each other’s arms, Jeff leaned over me and told me something I might never forget. He looked at me with the most gentle blue eyes and told me that he could see the real me, and he couldn’t wait until I could see it for myself. Maybe, just maybe all is not lost. For once in my life I am slipping into slumber not frowning about the past, but excited for my future, our future.


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