K. J. Pedersen

Copyright © 2014 by K. J. Pedersen




Elijah Christoffer Bengtsen


What happened to me early Sunday morning cannot be explained—the visions, the golden aura that appeared about Noah and myself as we lay together in bed, the otherworldly sensations as we made love for the second time, the sudden illness and fever that knocked me off my feet all of Sunday, confining me to bed. I want answers especially because I felt great this morning, truly invigorated. Only Noah can enlighten me. Only he can tell me what he slipped into the wine to drive me to such extremes, to feelings of such agony and vitality.

And I want answers now, before it’s too late. Tomorrow, following school, is not soon enough, I’ve decided, and get up from the dinner table once dessert is served, and in spite of my parents’ disapproving glare, one that speaks so clearly, saying that I’m being rude to our guests. I don’t care. Unlike Elisha, and despite my parents’ expectations, I’ve never been particularly well-versed in the social graces and have little desire to learn.

I take dessert—a rich flood of hot caramel over apple pie and French vanilla ice cream, one of my all-time favorites—but have no time to enjoy it, and simply scarf it down in four or five massive gulps upstairs in my bedroom. I leave the dirty plate on the desk, next to my computer.

As I’m just about to step out of my room, to escape, my cellphone vibrates. I pull it out of my front pocket, read the message.

Jase>8:47>Dude, I’m fucked.

Elijah>8:47>What goes?



Jase>8:48>My dad found out I was drinking at Jessie’s party.

Elijah>8:48>Shit! That sucks, man.

I wonder if somehow my dad and his dad had spoken to one another...if there was a conspiracy between them.

Elijah>8:48>My parents grounded me, too. For two weeks.

Jase>8:48>Really? You too?



I don’t give Jason details or reasons. That Dad laid into me, hard, after he came home from work. He’d called me into the study and closed the door. Then he let loose and he told me how things were going to be. He demanded I tell him what I had been doing Saturday night, after Jessica’s party, who I had been with, and where I had been. I’d kept my mouth shut, refusing to answer.

Details,” he’d insisted.


Didn’t happen.

And it’s not gonna happen. Period.

I don’t care how long he grounds me. No way am I going to share the news that I’d spent the night drinking wine with a cute and scruffy neo-hippy kid named Noah Hartford, the two of us lounging on his couch in our briefs, hard cocks out, exploring each other with our feet and toes, before going to bed to roll around naked together until the early hours of morning. Certainly wasn’t going to tell him the wine had been drugged. Or that whatever it was he’d put in it had made me violently ill.

Then I think about how Elisha had read my text messages from Jason and replied in my defense. Under normal circumstances, I would have been furious with my brother for invading my privacy, but he’d covered my ass, lying to Jason, telling him I was merely passed out on the couch downstairs.

Jase>8:49>I’m not allowed to see you anymore.


Jase>8:49>My dad says our friendship is finished.

A very long moment passes as I stand there at the threshold, staring at the message in disbelief, reading it over and over again.


Jase>8:51>My parents think you’re a bad influence. Especially my dad.

Elijah>8:51>So what?

Jase>8:51>Dad thinks you’re bringing me down.

I’m stunned. No. Not quite. When it comes to Mr. Brentwood, nothing really surprises me. He’s strict beyond belief. Always has been.

Elijah>8:51>Well, you know what, Jase? FUCK your dad!

Jase>8:51>That’s my Dad, man. Not cool.

Elijah>8:51>Your dad has you so scared you practically shit yourself every time he opens his stupid yap. Until you stand up to him, you ARE fucked.

Jase>8:51>Screw you.

I don’t have time for this. Not now. I don’t have time to be angry. I don’t have the energy to be hurt. Jason will either stand up for himself, or he won’t. If he chooses to cower....

Then what?

I feel my throat tighten.

Fuck! I fight back a myriad of sudden emotions I don’t want to deal with. I really don’t have time for this....

Right now, I have more important things to think about.

Stepping into the hallway, I go to the guard rail, and look over it, onto the living room below. Dad, Mom and Missy are with Elizabeth, sitting, and savoring their ice cream and pie.

I think over my options and realize there’s too little time to get things done right, to escape this house and make it up to Salt Lake City to confront Noah over what he’d done to me Saturday night.

If I had Elisha’s room, facing front, it’s window over the garage’s low-sloped roof and providing an opportunity to slip out unnoticed, this would be easy. But from my bedroom window it’s a fourteen foot drop to the rock garden below. A little too risky, even if I am lean and in excellent condition.

It’ll be tight at best, I decide, the timing and execution. I had better go now, before it’s too late.

James and Anya just bought their first home,” I hear Elizabeth say as I make like a cat, trying to glide down the stairs without being noticed. “It’s a cute little cottage between J and K Streets.”

It’s then Dad sees me on the stairs. “Where do you think you’re going?”

Where’s Elisha?” I ask.

Sitting on the back patio with Em and Mattias,” he says.

That’s where I’m headed,” I say.

He gives me a wary look and I go into the kitchen and out the sliding glass door onto the patio. I find my brother, his fuck buddy, and the former tomboy-in-pigtales sitting under the massive patio umbrella. I don’t say a word to them as I pass, ignoring my brother’s inquiry, as to where I’m headed, and go straight to the side yard. I go through the gate and onto the cobblestone right of way, following it to the street.

It would have been nice if my parents had bought me a car for my sixteenth birthday, like I’d asked them to, but they’d decided to put whatever money they might have spent on a car into my college savings account at the credit union instead. Did the same for my brother. It would have been nice, even, if they had bought us a car to share. But no. Education first, that’s the rule in our house. So, carless, we’re stuck, relying on either Jason or Mattias to get us where we want to go. And that means I have no choice—I have to take the bus again.

THE RIDE PASSES IN SILENCE, through Mill Creek and Sugar House, as we drive north along Highland Drive toward Salt Lake. I’m left with nothing to do but stare out the side window into the darkness. And to think about Jason’s texts. My mood grows darker as I think about his father. How arrogant he is, trying to run Jason’s life by diktat, and by shaming him, as he always has. Trying always to mold Jason in his own image. Jason is just weeks away from his eighteenth birthday. Only days now separate him from manhood and independence.

How long will he continue to allow this?

I’m surprised, too, that I’m less angry with my own father, and the way he had come down so hard on me earlier, than I am with Mr. Brentwood.

The closer we get to the city center the more angry and frustrated I become. Finally, my stop comes up. The driver lets me off on South Temple Street.

Under the canopy of trees that line this thoroughfare, it is, except for the street lamps, quite dark, the businesses here having been closed for an hour or so, their storefronts black. The street’s surface shines, though, wet with puddles, reflecting the pale lamplight. During the day, this is one of the busier streets in the city, but it is now quiet; few cars pass as I walk. I turn the corner at a café. I recognize it from the other day, when I had passed it coming home from Noah’s.

I walk north toward Second Avenue. It’s a short walk. The blocks in the Avenues district are unique, being only half the length of those elsewhere in the city. A moment later, Noah’s house comes into view, the roof line, then the front bay window. Lights are on upstairs in the bedrooms. And the venetian blinds at the bay window downstairs glow blue and white in the flickering light of a television set. Noah’s car, The Beast, is parked out front, behind an older model Mercedes-Benz.

Well, at least I know one thing for sure, Noah’s home. I hadn’t come out all this way for nothing.

I check my cell phone for the time—it’s well after ten now. I have just over twenty minutes to confront Noah, get what I need from from him, and return to the bus stop. I don’t want to miss the bus. It’ll be the last one serving the southeast side of the valley until five-thirty tomorrow morning. I will not be missing that bus, believe me; I’m in no mood to walk the eight or so miles between Noah’s house and my own.

When I start for the stairs, leading down along the side of the house to Noah’s apartment, I waver, unsure of what I’m going to say. Unsure if my accusation is right, after all, or not. Noah already denied that he’d put anything in the wine. He’d claimed that is was strong and I was already well on the way to being drunk as it was.

But that doesn’t explain the visions or sensations.

Gathering my courage, to confront him, I knock on the door, determined.

A moment later, Noah comes to the door naked except for the little white towel he has drawn tight across his waist, fastened at the hipbone in his right fist. It’s a hand towel, I realize. It covers him, but just barely, leaving one thigh completely bare, and all the way up to where he has the towel’s corners clasped tightly.

Seeing this, his soft cock in outline through the fabric, and the hair on chest and firm belly, I feel my breath catch. I’m suddenly aroused and begin to lose my resolve.

Noah’s dark blue eyes flash with surprise when he sees me. “Bengtsen,” he cries and opens the door wider. “Come in, brother.”

Though cautious, taken aback by the invitation, I do what he asks and step inside. He closes and locks the door.

What are you doing here?” he asks.

I find I can’t answer, unable to do anything but stare at the handsome young man and the way his dark hair hangs loose on his shoulders, wet and dripping. Trails of water fall, leaving streaks down along his sides, along his ribs.

Sensing my unease, he says, “Sorry, man,” and grins shyly. “Just stepped out of the shower. My friends and I were playing touch football in the park earlier and we got caught in the rain. Figured I should shower before going to bed.”

I managed to mumble this time. “Yeah.”

I should get dressed,” he says. “Is it okay if I dress here, or would you prefer I do it in the bathroom?”

More boldly this time, I say, “I’ve seen you naked.”

A little smile appears on his lips, so disarmingly cute. “Right.”

Noah drops the towel and everything I’d felt for him as we were having sex for the first time rushes back, overwhelms me. Lust, such hot and all-consuming desire, and more...genuine affection...burgeoning friendship....

Then, suddenly, I’m angry.

You drugged the wine.” I close the distance between us. I’m quick about it and aggressive. “What sort of hallucinogenic—”

He takes a step back, a look of surprise on his handsome face. “Elijah! I told you already: We drank from the same bottle.”

Doesn’t means shit, Noah,” I say. “Maybe you’ve become accustomed to whatever it is you put in the wine.”


I trusted you.”

I keep telling you, I did nothing to that wine.”

How can you just stand there a feed me such a bald-faced lie?”

No lie.” He backs off another step.

I step forward again, press my advantage.

Naked, he’s intimidated; he scared. He tries to cover the fact, though, by keeping eye contact between us, and the look on his face blank.

Bullshit,” I say.

He moves over to the bed, carefully, unwilling to turn his back to me. “It isn’t my fault that you can’t handle your alcohol, Elijah.”

I drink every weekend,” I tell him. “Have been since I was sixteen. So don’t give me that.”

A pair of gray briefs are on the bed. He turns slightly, just enough so that he lean over quickly and pick them up. “Have you spoken to your brother,” he asks, “about what I said?”

No. I was too fucking sick Sunday,” I tell him.

You need to.”

Stop trying to steer the conversation.”

Your brother is in danger,” he says and steps toward me in a way that cannot be mistaken. It’s a challenge; he will not back down now. “Brandt will destroy him, mind, body, and soul!”

I square my shoulders. “Not only are you a fucking drug addict, you’re insane on top of it all.”

Noah holds his ground, then, in a rapid and defensive move, pulls on his underwear. “First of all, I’m not a drug addict. And I didn’t slip you any sort of hallucinogenic agent. Or anything else for that matter. Second, I’m entirely in my right mind. Third, your brother is in serious danger.”

I ignore this, and demand, “Why were you at Jessica’s party?”

Noah goes to the closet, opens it, looks around inside for a clean pair of jeans. “You need to come with me,” he says as he puts his pants on.

Answer my question, Noah,” I tell him. “You’re wearing my patience so fucking thin.”

Noah pulls a T-shirt over his head and steps into his sandals. “Follow me.”

You don’t listen, do you? I’m not going anywhere until I get answers.”

You’ll get them, but only if you see what I have to show you.” He unlocks and opens the door. “Now are you coming or not?”

THE HOUSE ON FIFTH AVENUE is also Victorian in design, but considerably larger than Noah’s, its front door sandwiched between two bay windows, which continue up to the second-story. Above that, spires and dormers. The house is elegant, an old-time mansion from the days when mining and railroad magnates and plutocrats ruled Utah’s economy, and usually in opposition to the Mormon hierarchy, the so-called “theo-democracy,” which effectively governed the state from the church’s headquarters on South Temple.

This is the Smedt’s house,” Noah tells me. “Dustin lived here.”

Your boyfriend....”

My boyfriend. My best friend. The best friend I ever had.”

We stand on the sidewalk in front of the mansion. Lights are on upstairs. And Noah points to a darkened dormer window.

Dusty’s bedroom,” he says. “At home, I have the basement. Here, Dusty had the attic.”

Without a second thought, he crosses the lawn and stands on the stone walkway. I follow, feeling nervous, watching the door, afraid of how Mr. or Mrs. Smedt might react to this intrusion onto their property by the son’s former lover.

Here,” he says. “Right here.” He’s pointing at the ground.

I stand next to Noah, swallow hard.

They found Dusty’s body here,” he says. “Almost every bone in his body had been broken.”

I look up—the darkened window is straight above where we stand.

It had been raining that night,” Noah says. “As it was tonight.”

What are we doing here?” I ask, my voice surprisingly quiet, even to my own ears.

They say he slipped on the wet shingles as he tried to get out and over to the turret there, where he could climb down, and run off to Brandt’s house.” Noah shakes his head. “But that isn’t what happened.”

What are you talking about?”

Brandt killed Dustin, Elijah,” he says. “As surely as if he had pushed him from that window.”


Doesn’t matter,” Noah replies. “We’re almost there. Just keep walking.”

It matters to me,” I growl.

Don’t worry, Elijah; I’ll drive you home,” he says. “And I would have driven you home Sunday afternoon, too. But no. You couldn’t wait, could you? Wouldn’t come back to bed.”

I had to get home—”

Noah cuts me short. “Here we are. Brandt’s old house.”

We’re in the upper Avenues now, on F Street, and looking down the street, down the hill, I can see the lights of the Salt Lake Valley as they stretch twenty miles or so to the south, fading finally towards the Point of the Mountain and Utah County.

Brandt’s former house isn’t like most of the others that characterize the Avenues district, old Victorian and Colonial-style houses; this is a modern house, two stories, built on a slope, in fact, so that if seen from the garage side, it is three-stories, with ceiling-to-floor glass windows, and flat-roofed. Square concrete columns faced with rock hold aloft a deck on the far side of the house.

So this is where the arrogant prick used to live,” I say. “Wish he’d never left. Can’t stand the way he struts down the halls of Spring Creek High.”

Noah smirks, nods. “I knew Brandt all through our school years. We were even friends for a while, in the fourth and fifth grades,” he says. “But we were never close.”

That doesn’t surprise me,” I say. “He just doesn’t seem to be the ‘loyal friend’-type.”

He isn’t.” He pauses. “You know, for as popular as he was at U. Park, Brandt was a loner. Kept to himself most of the time. Still, he dated girls. And fucked boys. Dusty was just one of many guys he lured into his bed during his sophomore and junior years.”

I would have never guessed.”

What, about Brandt being gay? Yeah, that was kind of an open secret. Made the girls jealous as fuck. Especially the ones he dated.”

What happened—between Brandt and Dusty?”

Brandt’s hot,” Noah says. “And Dusty was hot for him. There’s really nothing more to say about it.”

But you are bitter.”

Not so much about the fact that they were screwing around. I mean, fuck, Dusty and I used to get into threesomes with a couple of his friends from the swim team. And I was messing around with a skaterboy named Jeremy. No big deal. Not really. What made me mad was that Brandt was trying to come between us.”

I get it.”

Last winter, Brandt’s family went to Norway around Christmas,” Noah says. “He came back...odd.”

How so?”

There was a touch of cruelty to him I had never seen before,” he says.

Noah is suddenly silent. His expression hardens.

He killed my boyfriend.”

You can’t be serious, Noah,” I say, exasperated because this is the second time he’s said so. “Do you really expect me to believe that he murdered Dusty?”

Oh, no—Brandt didn’t murder my boyfriend, Elijah,” he says. “But that doesn’t make him any less culpable. He was directly responsible for what happened. If it hadn’t been for Brandt Lyngdal, Dustin Smedt would still be alive today.”


Noah drives me home as promised. But nothing more is said. I don’t get the answers I’m looking for. I don’t get anything more from him, except for the same warning, that Elisha needs to put a good distance between himself and Brandt, and now. Before it’s too late.

We pull up in front of my house just after midnight and I get out of the car. The car remains running, Noah’s hands on the wheel. He looks tense, unhappy.

You’ve answered none of my questions,” I say.

I’ve told you everything you need to know.”

You poisoned me, Noah!”

Noah clenches the steering wheel tightly, wringing his fists about it. The veins in his forearms become pronounced as he does. He struggling—I can see that much—struggling with what he should say and do next.

He revs the engine.

I prod him again. “Isn’t that right, Noah?”

It was never intended for you,” he says. “It was meant for your brother.”

Then you admit it—you poisoned me!”

Yes,” he states clearly and with unmistakable ferocity. “And more.”

What do you mean?”

In poisoning you, Elijah, I’ve made you unpalatable to the demon which consumes Brandt, body and soul.”

* * *

To be continued with Chapter Seven.

* * *

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