The Lament of the Tortured Soul
Authors Note: This story is completely fiction. It is not based in anyway on actual events. Any resemblence the characters have to any living person is completely accidential. Saying that though many of the characters share traits with one person (it was completely unintentional) who unfortunately left us at the end of January 2002. Shadow as he was known to the people he called friend, the people who loved him and the people he left behind miss him greatly.
This story is dedicated to him. Rest easy my love we’ll be together again soon.
Edward Harvey rushed into his house. Something was very wrong with the world but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Josh seemed to sense him before he actually saw him and huddled down in his chair at the dining room table where he and Nick were working on their homework.
Nick didn’t sense Harvey but did sense Josh tense and try to make himself smaller. Nick also tensed but in a different way. He tensed as if preparing for some battle he expected to come but the direction was unknown.
“Would have been home hours ago if it wasn’t for that overturned truck.” Harvey said to no one in particular as he rushed into the dining room. “What are you doing here?” He said as soon as he saw Nick. The wild eyes of Mr. Harvey fell on Nick searching for something, trying to draw the truth out of Nick. Nick shifted uncomfortably under the cold searching gaze.
“Homework Sir. Josh offered to help me catch up.”
“You two are not in any of the same classes.” The accusation hung in the air demanding to be answered.
“Its better this way. Two different opinions of the same materials helping us both to understand it better.” That seemed to satisfy Mr. Harvey and he walked off muttering to himself. Nick couldn’t help but let out a breath in relief. Of what he didn’t know he just felt relieved.
“You’d better go.” Josh said in a small voice, “He’ll be wanting his supper soon.”
Nick couldn’t say goodbye to Josh the way he wanted to. Mr. Harvey was hovering in the background, waiting to pounce on the slightest indiscretion, anything that might be deemed inappropriate.
Nick whistled to himself as he walked home in a light drizzling rain. Even through it was cold there was a warmth that came from inside him and he didn’t notice the cold or the rain. He was still whistling when he walked into his living room to be greeted by the group of chuckling people there.
“I think someone’s
gotten lucky.” Dylan said giving Nick a wink. Dylan was the lead singer
of Mystic Blue the band both Robbie and
Jason played in. The entire band was there except Robby and Nick could hear Eric in the kitchen.
“What are you all doing here? Where’s Robbie?”
“Gone to work.” Jason said.
“Just as well too.” Dylan added, “what with him and your uncle staring at each other all afternoon you couldn’t get a decent conservation out of either of them.”
“We were not.” Eric said coming back into the room carrying a tray of drinks. He knowingly eyed Nick giving him a warm smile and a wink. “Right down to business, Robby’s birthday party. Or should I say the block party in Robby’s neighborhood.”
For the next couple of hours they all discussed the party. It was a surprise party for Robby. The party itself wasn’t a surprise but the reason behind it was and that the band would be playing at the party certainly was. It would be the first truly public performance of Mystic Blue which was something Robby wanted more than anything, an outside performance in front of a large crowd. The only sticking point was that there were still two households that hadn’t agreed to the having party. They had to get everyone’s permission before the appropriate permits would be granted.
“But I don’t see why I have to be the one to convince them.” Nick almost whined.
“Because you could charm a half starved polar bear wearing a suit of salmon.” His uncle responded.
It was over a week later before Nick got his chance to talk to the two people. One house was opposite Robby’s and he had to find a time when Robby was out and the people in the house were home. The old lady who owned the other house had been away and had only just returned.
He decided to try the house opposite Robby’s first. Taking a deep breath Nick pressed the doorbell and not long after he heard a muffled “I’ll get it Mom.” In the moments between the voice and the door opening Nick suddenly got very nervous but when John opened the door the relief on his face was very visible.
“What are you doing here little brother?” John asked more than a little confused.
“I’m from the block party committee.”
“Ah … you’d better come in then.” John guided Nick through his house to the kitchen where his mother was.
“Mom this is Nick he’s wants to have a chat with you.”
“So this is the son I never knew I had.” She had a friendly smile that put Nick as ease, “Johnny has told me a lot about you.”
“Has he?” Nick said quietly. John was behind him and was loosely holding him with his arms draped over Nick’s shoulders. It was the sort of thing that Nick has always thought a big brother would do and it made him smile. When Nick was little he remembered asking his mother for a big brother to play with for his 3rd birthday. Thinking of his mother made him sad and he started to feel uncomfortable being there with John and his mother. “Weekend after next there is a block party planned only it’s a little more than a block party it’s also a birthday party for Robby who lives across the road. Only before we can have it we need everyone to agree to have it.”
“Of course we’ll agree dear.” Nick was confused. He had been told that it would be practically impossible to get the last two to agree and here was the first one agreeing with out him even really asking.
“That was easy. Why did everyone say they it would be really hard?” Nick had to ask.
“Well my soon to be ex-husband had a problem with most of the people in the neighborhood”
“He left last week.” John added unable to hide the hate in his voice.
“Yes he did and it might also be because John and Robby don’t seem to like each other very much. They used to be best friends up until they were about 12 then something happened and they haven’t spoken since.” Nick felt John tense when his mother mentioned Robby. He could tell there was something there that John felt pretty uncomfortable about. John’s mother could tell too and she had a pretty good idea what it was all about.
“I’ll agree to Robby’s birthday party on one condition.” Nick sighed inwardly, there was always a catch, “John introduces his boyfriend to me.” John let his arms fall away from Nick and took a step back.
Nick started to giggle, “Is that all.” John’s mother nodded more to John than to Nick, “Just use John’s phone every speed dial key is programmed to Blake’s.” Nick giggled harder when John said “Hey” and punched him playfully in the arm.
Nick got the story of how John and Robby stopped being friends while they waited for Blake to come over for supper. Robby and John had both not long turned 12 and had decided to try out the tent that Robby had received for his birthday. John wasn’t too forthcoming about what actually went on in the tent that night but Nick had a pretty good idea. The next morning when Robby tried to give John a hug John saw his father watching he pushed Robby away calling him a queer and then when Robby tried to get up he gave Robby a bleeding nose. Needless to say that had been the end of their friendship.
“I think there’s something you need to do.” John’s mom said after he had finished his story.
“I know Mom.” John said sadly.
Nick excused himself a few minutes before Blake was due to arrive. He just couldn’t bring himself to face what would happen with John’s Mom when Blake arrived but as he stood on Mrs. Watt’s doorstep, hoping he could get her consent as easily, he did look back to see John’s Mom giving Blake a hug on her front porch.
When Mrs. Watts opened the door Nick was feeling pretty sad. He looked up at the woman who looked almost exactly like a picture perfect grandmother and came very close to crying. To her credit Mrs. Watts took one look at the boy who she had never seen in her life before and ushered him inside. Mrs. Watts had spent nearly 20 years as a youth councilor and knew when she saw a kid in trouble. By the time Nick had told his tale she was surprised by how well Nick had dealt with everything life had thrown at him so far.
She was also surprised when Nick told her that the community was basically too scared to come to her and ask her about the birthday/block party. She knew that he had become jaded over the last 20 years of dealing with drugged out teenagers who the last thing they wanted was help but she didn’t realize that she portrayed hostility to the people around her.
By the time Nick left she had fallen in love with the boy who had started calling her Grandma sometime during their talk. Nick walked back to Robby’s garage where the band was practicing happily munching on a homemade chocolate chip cookie. He really did feel a lot better after talking to his new grandma and also had the feeling that on some level he had helped her too.
“Where did you get that?” Dylan asked instead of singing the last line of the song he was singing as Nick walked into the garage.
“Down the road, Mrs. Watts.” Nick replied making a big production of finishing the cookie.
“You’d better watch it. It’s probably poisoned.” Robby said sarcastically.
“Na, Grandma wouldn’t do anything like that.” Nick gave them all a wink and flopped down on the beat up old couch in the corner. They just stared at him completely stunned. The only thing that brought them around was a knock on the garage door which Jason answered.
“I thought you boys could use a little break.” Mrs. Watts said walking into the garage holding a plate piled with her soon to be famous home made chocolate chip cookies. She couldn’t help but laugh as she was swamped by the group of permanently hungry teenage boys.
Soon she found herself on the beat up old couch with Nick snuggled next to her. “Well lets hear you play then.”
“You boys are very good.” She told them after they had finished. “Do you write you own music?”
“Mostly, but it was your grandson there who wrote that one.” Dylan admitted. She looked down at the boy who was tucked shyly under her arm amazed. “But you should hear him play.” Dylan finished.
“You play?” Nick looked up at her and nodded with an embarrassed grin, “Well get up there.” Nick extracted himself from under her arm and took the acoustic guitar that Jason was holding out for him.
“What should we play?”
“Someone too hold.” Dylan whispered to him directing him toward the mic.
Nick felt slightly
insecure as he begun the song but closing his eyes and playing the introduction
calmed him before inhaling silently and letting his voice fill the room.
Almost twilight in the middle of the day
Praying that darkness comes his way
Why did God have to make him this way?
Why was it always his turn to pay?
When all he wanted was someone too hold.
Nick could see the tears in his grandma’s eyes even before the song was finished. He had written it the night after he first met Josh but before he had ever actually spoken to Josh. It was about wanting nothing more that to hold and be held by that special someone but through circumstances beyond anyone’s control it remained nothing more than a dream.
“That was very nice.” Millie Watts said with her voice breaking. She gave each boy a hug lingering a little longer with Nick but that was only because she felt he needed it. “I really must say hello to your mother Robby but I’d like to hear more of you boys play.”
“Here Mrs. …uh… Grandma.” Robby said handing her a tape.
Robby took her through to talk to his mother. As soon as he returned there was a nervous knock on the garage door. Since Robby was the only one standing he made his way to the door. Nick instantly knew who it was and also made his way to the door just in case.
The door seemed to frame John as he stood there head down with Blake slightly behind him and to his left. John looked up to meet Robby’s glare. No one talked and for every second that went by the tension between John and Robby grew. Nick was on the verge of stepping between them when John finally spoke.
“For what?” Robby spat.
“For hurting you.” John’s eyes dropped to the ground again, “My Dad…he was watching us…I didn’t want to hurt you. I wanted to kiss you.”
That left Robby along with everyone else in the room in a state of utter shock, except for Nick who stood there leaning against the garage wall with a satisfied grin on his face.
“Well better late than never.” Robby laughed and gave John a hug.
“Can you forgive me?” John whispered
“Already have.” Robby said letting go of John and giving him a not so gentle thump in the arm. “Who’s this?” He asked indicating toward Blake who was still hovering in the background.
“This is my boyfriend Blake.” John put his arm around Blake and pulled him close.
“Cute.” Robby said giving Blake a wink that made him turn bright pink. “At least you have good taste in boys Johnny”
“Oh shit that reminds me, Nick your uncle rang looking for you. When I told him you were over here he seemed almost excited.” John gave Robby a wink and it was Robby’s turn to go bright pink. “He said he would be by at 6 to pick you up.”
“Bet you he’s
early…huh Uncle Robby.” Nick giggled which caused everyone else
in the room to laugh and made Robby go from pink to a very deep crimson.
“Who’d fucking believe it, Big John a queer.” Jason said after John and Blake had headed home for supper. That pretty much summed up what everyone was feeling. Robby was leaning against a speaker with a slight smile on his face and the rest of the band was lost in their own thoughts playing their respective instruments quietly to themselves. Nick was sitting on the couch lost in his own thoughts of Josh when he felt someone sit down next to him.
“Umm…Nick…umm your … Eric and me…umm…how’d you feel if?”
“You belong together.” Nick told Robby simply.
“Thanks.” Robby said hugging Nick.
“Oh god he’s at it again.” Jason said thumping Dylan in the arm.
“He’d better not try hugging me.”
“What do you recon?” Robby said giving Nick a wink.
“He is pretty cute.” Nick replied with an evil grin that turned in to a giggle as he watched Jason, Dylan and Tommy back up against the far wall.
When Eric arrived, early as Nick had predicted, he found a pile of boys on the mat in the middle of the garage floor, most trying to get away from two in particular who seemed determined to grab and hold onto the others. Eric wanted to join in even though there was only one he really wanted to grab and hold and probably would have too if they weren’t disturbed by Robby’s mother and another woman who he later found out was Nicks newly adopted grandmother.
It was good that Eric was early because it took nearly 2 hours for him and Nick to get into his car and head for home. First there was Millie Watts who wanted to know Eric’s complete life story. Then there was Robby’s parents who seemed to think of Eric as their soon to be son-in-law followed by a quick conservation with John’s mother and finally saying goodbye to Robby, the thing that took by far the longest and was by far the most enjoyable.
Nick was pretending to be asleep when Eric got into the car but his grumbling tummy gave his ruse away.
“I didn’t take that long did I?”
“I thought I was going to fade away to nothing.”
have that now can we.” Eric laughed, “How does burgers sound?”
If there are any errors in this story I appologise. Unfortunately the end of January 2002 also saw the departure of my editor. Big thanks to Oldie for fixing what needed to be repaired.
Any comments welcome though if you have a flame please keep it to youself as this story is of a personel nature firstname.lastname@example.org