The Pellegrine

Soul Lark

I. Sven - Chapter 2

© The author reserves all rights to this work.


This story is of an adult nature. It is not intended for minors nor for those whose law in their land forbids them to read this material.
This story is entirely fictional. Any resemblance to actual people is purely coincidental and unintentional.

NB: Words found between asterisks (*) refer to words exchanged in psychic or telepathic communication.

Normally, every last weekend of the month was when Jorg visited Sven or Sven would go up to Jorg’s grandfather’s farm. They had been neighbours before but the Vengroms moved to Jorg’s maternal grandfather’s farm when it was discovered that the old gentleman was dying. Gertrude’s mother was also aging but still had some more time left. Lars Vengrom and his wife decided that it would be best to move the family there to help the old couple out.

Jorg had been in Rescuer Corps Training School for eight years before the move. Once the family moved, Jorg could no longer spend weekends with his best friend Sven Sklerer. As the eldest, Jorg would relieve his father and grandfather at the farm on weekends. Jorg did his chores dutifully without complaint. However, the old gentleman noticed a slight sadness in his eyes. When asked, Jorg would only reply that he was a little tired. The old gentleman learned from the youngest Vengrom child, Sheila, that Jorg missed his best friend. After two months, the old Mr. Krueger talked to his son-in-law and daughter.

The Vengroms had five children, two girls and three boys. Jorg and Marie, the older two were in RCTS and came home for the weekends. Ivar, the middle child was already twenty and about to enter RCTS. The youngest two, Yanek and Sheila were still studying. Yanek was finishing his basic degree and Sheila was still in pre-university.

Old Mr. Krueger felt that Jorg should be given a chance to visit his friends. Vengrom and his wife felt that he should put family before self. Old Mr. Krueger made it clear that this was his own idea and that Jorg had not complained at all about the present arrangements. He just felt that the work was isolating Jorg from a normal social life. After a long discussion, it was decided that every last weekend was Jorg’s free weekend. He could do whatever he wanted. It was Jorg who decided that it would be good for Sven to come and visit the farm every other month and help him out with the chores. His decision endeared him a lot to his dying grandfather.

♦ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ♦

Date: 25 April 2059, Friday

This weekend was supposed to be Jorg’s turn to visit the Sklerers’. However, the events of the week had made it impossible for Jorg to make the trip to the city where the Sklerers lived. Jorg had been very dejected but had put on a smiling face when he reached home. Old Mr. Krueger saw through his deception, as did his mother, Gertrude. Jorg had explained that Sven was too tired after the tough exercises and so Jorg decided to spare his best friend for that weekend.

Normally, Ivar and Yanek would be helping out in the farm. Jorg told them that he would be doing the morning chores. They could sleep a little longer in the morning because of that. His two younger brothers were very happy. Jorg knew he was not going to get much sleep that night any way and it was much better to start work early in the morning than to brood on in his room.

♦ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ♦

Date: 26 April 2059, Saturday

The next morning, Jorg rose early to start on his chores. The very first thing he had to do was to clean up the chicken coop and then feed the chickens. Then, he was off to the vegetable fields. There was weeding to be done. In addition, he was to check for caterpillars on the plants. He was to remove them and throw them to the chickens. Jorg’s grandfather was a semi-organic farmer and didn’t like to use insecticides too much. It was hard work.

Old Mr. Krueger was up early, like he did every day since he started working on the farm. He watched his grandson diligently doing his chores. He walked over to the vegetable fields when Jorg was working there.

“Hello, Jorg,” he greeted.

“Hi Grandpa,” Jorg greeted back.

“It’s a hot day, isn’t it?”

“Quite. I should be done before it gets too hot.”

“Why don’t I give you a hand,” said Old Mr. Krueger stooping down across Jorg.

“But it’s your day off. You should be resting.”

“Nonsense. I’m slow. That’s why I needed help. However, I’m not useless.”

“Sorry Grandpa, I didn’t mean that,” apologized Jorg.

“You don’t have to apologize, I know you didn’t mean that I was useless. Sigh! I guess I do feel useless in my old age.”

“Why?” asked Jorg as he continued to pull out the small little plants that had started to grow beside the main vegetables and putting them into a special container lying beside him.

“When one grows old, one finds that he’s unable to do the things he was doing when he was young. Then he’d also realize that he won’t be able to do those things he hadn’t done but wanted to do.”

“But we all have to make choices, Grandpa,” replied Jorg as he examined the vegetable leaves for caterpillars and other larvae. “When we decide on one thing, we necessarily leave out the other choices.”

“True,” said Old Mr. Krueger. He was just pulling out the weeds from the row of vegetables on his side. “Sometimes we make conscious choices and we will definitely understand the choices. Sometimes though, we think that we still have a choice when unconsciously, we’ve already chosen.”

Jorg neither replied nor stopped his work. From his face, Old Mr. Krueger could see that Jorg was thinking. After he finished with one of the plants, Jorg moved to the next and dragged the container with the weeds along with him.

“But sometimes, Grandpa, we have no choice. We’re thrust into a situation that we cannot change. Those routes are more difficult.”

“Ah, Jorg, the thing is – we do have a choice, even if the situation seems already set.”

“Let’s say,” started Jorg after a short pause. He was still weeding out weeds and caterpillars. “I had an accident and lost my right leg from my hip. There would be certain choices I can never make because I no longer have my right leg.”

“What kind of choices do you mean?”

“I couldn’t choose to be a professional ballet dancer, for example. We have prosthetics that can help a one-legged person live normal lives but our prosthetics have limits.”

“I disagree,” replied Old Mr. Krueger. “Without your real leg you might not be able to be a top-grade professional ballet star, but you could still learn ballet. You could still choose to follow a dream, even though that dream might need to be adjusted to fit in the reality.”

“So what’s the point of following a dream if only to end up as a mediocre ballet dancer?”

“That’s the difference, my man, between a choice and a dream. In a choice, one is always aware of the limits but a dream has no limits. Only when the dream’s limits is within the dreamer’s own personal limits can the dream be fulfilled.”

“I understand what you’re saying Grandpa,” said Jorg with his hands still working. His eyes were still on the ground and the vegetable leaves. “Let’s take a different example. A woman cannot choose to be a man, even though she could dress up like a man. Even if she were to have an operation to change her gender, she would still not be able to function as a man. No matter what changes she makes to her body, she would still be less than a man.”

“I agree. There are times when what we desire and the choices we are presented with do not coincide. However, we still have to choose and that would still remain our choices, we cannot claim to have no responsibility for our choices.”

Jorg took some time to digest what his grandfather had said. Though he was already close to forty, Jorg had spent most of his time in the training school. He had not experienced the reality of the world yet. He had read and understood what was happening in the world and how that humanity could be really evil. He also understood why magi had to help humanity in secret. He had learned everything in school. The only thing he lacked was real-life experience and that, he felt, had set his maturity back quite a bit. Fortunately, magi age very slowly, Jorg still looked as if he was still in his twenties. If he were shorter, he could even be mistaken for a teenager.

When he started talking again, Old Mr. Krueger noticed that his grandson had strayed away from what they were talking about before. They talked about the weather, the plants, the happenings in the human world. All that time, he knew Jorg was thinking about the first part of their conversation. He left it like that. Old Mr. Krueger knew that Jorg would tell him his reflection once it was complete.

♣ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ♣

Gertrude saw Jorg leaving the house in the morning. From the way he moved, she knew that Jorg had a lot on his mind. Did he have a quarrel with Sven? she wondered. What worried her most was that Sven might have discovered Jorg’s feelings for him. Sven’s natural reaction would be to reject Jorg. Knowing how Jorg felt about Sven, Jorg might have taken it badly.

Gertrude had to help a family many years ago when she was with the Rescuers. She was too late to save a gay teenager from killing himself because he was rejected by his best friend. Her task was to see that the family was cared for. The case had come back to her when she discovered that Jorg had feelings for Sven. Lars, Jorg’s father, came from a strict background and had harsh words to say about gay people. There was no doubt that Jorg was very ashamed of his feelings. Thus, he was very careful when he was dealing with Sven. Though Jorg had never told her personally what was going on, she could see that Jorg treasured Sven’s friendship. Perhaps he harboured the hope that Sven would reciprocate one day. Whatever the case, she knew she should have set the matters straight when she discovered it but she did not. She was now worried that Jorg might end up like that dead teenager.

She had brushed aside her suspicions when she first had them when Jorg was eighteen. The two boys were still in school and Jorg was the sidekick of the two-boy team even though Jorg was evidently more capable both physically and intellectually. It was when Jorg decided to face his fears of the sea that she realized that she could not brush aside her suspicions any longer. Jorg claimed he did not want to disappoint his best friend and needed his approval. Gertrude knew that Sven would never think less of Jorg if he did not know how to scuba dive. She wanted to believe that Jorg was just being paranoid but she knew. She was, after all, his mother. Fortunately, Lars never suspected that his son was gay. If he did, Jorg would probably not be able to leave the farm and be stuck as a level two magus for the rest of his life. She also knew that if she were to say do something after the scuba diving incident, the consequences would be dire because Lars would find out. Knowing how long magi lived, especially when they are unmarried, she knew that Jorg would probably go out of his mind, killing himself in the end if he was isolated on the farm. The twenty-first century was still struggling with gay rights, and gays were still struggling with acceptance from their blood families. The struggle was no different with the more advanced magi.

When she saw Jorg move to the vegetable plot, Gertrude hurriedly went into the house and decided to contact Elise, her friend and former neighbour. She needed to find out more if she was to know how to help her son.

♠ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ♠

With the help of his grandfather, Jorg finished the vegetable plot in a shorter time than it usually took him. They disposed of the weeds and worms in their usual way. The weeds went into a compost bin and the worms were thrown to the chickens. Then the two men moved back towards the house.

“Come Grandpa, for helping me, I’ll fix you a cold glass of iced tea, Jorg’s special recipe!”

Old Mr. Krueger laughed. “You mean the recipe I taught you,” he said with a wink.

Jorg got his grandfather to sit down whilst he went into the house to get the ingredients for his special recipe. It was all found in three hand-sized satchels. After about ten minutes, he brought two glasses of iced tea to the table.

“Drink it and then tell me if there’s a difference!”

When older man took a sip, he realized that Jorg had added something to the tea. It gave the tea a slight bitter taste and yet a different aroma. It took him a moment to realize what his grandson had done.

“You’ve added chrysanthemum flowers into the tea, didn’t you?” he asked.

“And what else?” Jorg asked.

“Well, there’s tea and there’s sugar and there’s chrysanthemum … water, of course, ice … No, I can’t detect anything else.”

Jorg gave a triumphant smile. “I didn’t use normal sugar Grandpa. I used natural crystalline sugar.”

“Ah! You sneaky fellow. There’s no difference between sugar and the so-called natural crystalline stuff.”

“The Chinese believe that it helps in the chrysanthemum’s ability to remove heat from the body. I thought it would be helpful since we’ve been working under the heat of the sun.”

Old Mr. Krueger laughed. “You believe in those stuff? I thought you younger fellows are more scientific and don’t believe in these old-wives’ tales.”

“Well, Grandpa, we’re both magi and we, or at least until I reach level four, are able to transport from point A to point B without a vehicle and we can turn ourselves invisible. I haven’t heard any scientific explanation for our abilities yet. The magi books explain it scientifically as psychic. Ha! That word is used to describe anything that science can’t explain.”

“You forgot the word yet, Jorg. We may not be able to explain it now but we may be able to in the future.” As he took a sip of his tea, Old Mr. Krueger gave a small laugh.

“Why are you laughing?” asked Jorg.

“I remember a series of television programmes that I used to watch when your mother was still in the Rescuer Corps. It was about space travel. There was this space ship that could travel faster than light and move from one star system to the next in a matter of days, without suffering the Einsteinian effects. It was hilarious. I collected their recordings. I must show them to you some day.”

“What made you think about this programme? We weren’t talking about space at all!”

“It’s the tea. There was a special blend of tea that the captain of the ship liked. He would never have anything else,” replied Old Mr. Krueger.

Just then, Jorg’s brothers and sisters came into the kitchen. Their footsteps and voices made the two men turn around to greet them.

“We’re going to the pool for a swim,” said Marie, “Want to join us?”

“I just finished my chores,” replied Jorg. “Why don’t you go on first. I’ll come after a little rest.”

“You have to come Jorg. Marie can’t protect both Sheila and me from Ivar,” said Yanek. That brought a friendly punch from Ivar.

“You’re seventeen, Yanek, you should be able to defend yourself,” Jorg laughed. He knew that his brothers were always playing around.

“He’s still larger than me,” Yanek retorted.

“You only have to do the physical work Jorg,” said Marie. “See what I have to put up with? I’ll trade this for physical labour any day!”

“Go on!” said Old Man Krueger. “I hope you remembered to put on the filters last night!”

“Yes we did, Grandpa,” replied Marie. “Okay guys! Let’s go!”

After the rest of the Vengrom siblings left, the two men drank their tea, enjoying the cooling effect it had. Jorg finished his tea first. As he was catching the last drops, Old Mr. Krueger spoke to him in the magi way.

*Jorg, it pains me to see you sad. Please tell your dying grandfather what’s happening?*

Jorg put down his glass. He knew his grandfather was getting weaker. His parents had told him that the next New Year would probably be his last. He loved his grandfather and he tried his best to make his final days as pleasant as possible. That was why he always put on a brave front, smiling and laughing even if he was not happy.

*What makes you think I’m sad, Grandpa?*

*Your eyes, Jorg. Your eyes tell me many things. Yet, you choose to hide the truth from me.*

*Grandpa, I’m sorry. I know I’ve deceived you …*

*… but your purpose was never to hurt me,* Old Mr. Krueger completed Jorg’s statement, surprising the younger man. *I know you love me. I know that you didn’t like the work you had to do in the beginning but you’ve appreciated the fact that the farm work helps you physically, giving you a workout. I know that you missed Sven in the beginning. That was why I convinced your parents to let you be free on the last weekend of every month.*

Jorg never knew that arrangement and he continued to just stare at his grandfather with a blank expression on his face.

*I see your face light up when Sven is here. I see the way the two of you relate and I’m very happy that you’ve found a good friend. Yet, I’m afraid.*

Jorg found his psychic voice, *Afraid? Why?*

*Jorg, what the both of you have is just friendship. I see that you hope for more. I’m afraid that you might not be able to take it if there isn’t more than just friendship.*

Tears began to fill Jorg’s eyes. *Grandpa, I think there might not be even a friendship left.*

*What happened?*

*Grandpa, I shouldn’t be burdening you with my personal problems. Perhaps I’m just over-reacting to the situation.*

*Humour an old man, Jorg. Tell me what happened.*

It took some coaxing but Jorg eventually told his grandfather what happened in training school during the week.

*Have you any idea why he’s afraid of you?*

*I’ve been going through the last few weeks wondering if I’d done anything to give him that impression. I’ve found none. I’m left wondering if that is the end of our friendship.*

During this time, the two men were facing the kitchen door that led to the outside. Suddenly, they heard a sound from behind them. Someone was entering the kitchen from the house.

“Good morning! You’ve finished your chores already, Jorg?”

Jorg immediately straightened and used the long sleeves of his shirt to wipe his whole face. It was the voice of his father.

The two turned to face Lars Vengrom. Jorg was afraid that he might be reprimanded for not doing the work alone as he was supposed to. Old Mr. Krueger also had that fear but was ready to step in and defend his grandson.

“Yes, I insisted on helping him,” said Old Mr. Krueger.

“You know Jorg can do it on his own?” asked Lars with a questioning face. He was not angry at Jorg. He knew Jorg could not refuse to let his grandfather help.

“Actually, he did more work than me,” chuckled the old man, realizing that his grandson was in no danger. “I just wanted to have a good talk. So I just squatted with him at the vegetable plot pretending to help. He pretended to let me help because he was secretly checking to see if I had missed anything.”

Jorg went a little red. His grandfather was not lying. Lars had told his son that sometimes his grandfather would miss things because of his failing eye-sight. So Jorg judiciously, but secretly, made sure that his grandfather did not miss anything.

His father laughed when Jorg turned red. “You’ve got to learn to be less obvious Jorg.” Lars got to the refrigerator to get himself some milk.

Jorg relaxed considerably. He loved his father but he knew that his father would not have approved of his feelings for Sven.

From the hallway, the men heard Gertrude and her mother approaching.

“See mother, the menfolk are all in the kitchen. Perhaps, we women can rest today?” Gertrude asked loudly in a teasing voice.

“Gertie, stop giving them ideas. You know I would never be able to stomach your father’s cooking!” replied Mrs. Krueger with a wink.

“Be careful of the womenfolk,” said Old Mr. Krueger with a wink. “They’ll be able to get you to do anything once you fall in love with them.” Then he placed his arms around his wife and gave her a slight squeeze. Mrs. Krueger shook her head at her husband’s antics and gave him a kiss.

Gertrude had, in the meantime, leaned forward and received a kiss from her husband. Jorg was not embarrassed by all of this. His parents were often quite open in showing affection for one another. He smiled but inside, he was sad that he won’t have someone of his own.

Then Gertrude said, “Listen, the Sklerers have invited us for dinner. We can all take the three o’clock train to their place. Then we can still make it back on the nine-thirty.”

“This is good, Jorg has finished all his chores. The afternoon chores can still be done if we all pitch in,” said Lars excitedly. “It’s been a while since I’ve spoken to Nic. I wonder how the family is.”

“Jorg, would you be so kind as to call the others back from the pool? Tell them that there’s a family outing. I’m sure that’ll get them out quickly,” instructed Gertrude.

Jorg was worried. His mother had not given him time to make a protest. He was very uncomfortable that he would have to face Sven.

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