W.A.R. Part Seven - Dustin's World

(2nd edition)

Chapter Five - The Friend in Need

by Jeff Wilson

Dustin didn't sleep very well. His mind needed to process everything that had happened to him in the last month. He'd hoped meeting with Sarah would take some of the burden off his mind, but that had just made things even more complicated.

He knew his father would come walking back into his life eventually. He'd hoped the old bastard would just drop off the planet or get killed, but since he hadn't, he was bound to make an appearance. His eye still hurt and his ribs would ache for a couple weeks or so, but he looked a lot better than he had the day before. He still had a black eye, but it wasn't so nasty looking as it had been. His father's very existence hurt Dustin far more than his fists. At least the physical wounds would heal.

Dustin was more worried about his friend Billy than about anything else. He couldn't build up the courage to call Brett back, so he called the hospital and got the room number where Billy was staying. Dustin and Brett had always had a very tense relationship. The issues between them started right from the first day when Brett waltzed into the neighborhood and stole Billy's heart. It only got worse from there. The two of them had been at war with each other over Billy all through school, until finally Dustin beat Brett to a bloody pulp. That was right before Dustin decided to cut his wrists. The two of them had formed an uneasy truce after all of that. Things were better between them during their senior year, and Brett had made an effort to be nicer to Dustin, but Dustin could never get over Brett stealing Billy from him. Brett had taken the only thing Dustin had ever wanted in life. He'd been trying to fill that empty place in his heart ever since, while Brett had taken Billy off to exciting new adventures.

It was Saturday, and Dustin was hanging out in just a pair of underwear playing a video game on the computer. Dustin had always been a brief guy. He liked to keep things snug down there from his days playing competitive sports. He didn't need his dick swinging away when he played basketball or something. A knock on the door had him reaching for a pair of gym shorts as he went to see who was bothering him. He checked the door and sighed. It was his mother. He reluctantly opened the door.

Carol Smith winced when she saw her son's blackened eye and the bruises on his side. She had always been glad that Dustin looked like her side of the family. Her father had had the same lean build as her son. She wished she'd inherited that trait. She hadn't been able to drop the weight of two pregnancies. She hated that Dustin felt more at home in his slum of an apartment building than at home. Their house wasn't much, but it was better than the shit hole Dustin was living in. She worried about Dustin all the time.

"I brought you some groceries," she offered.

"You didn't bring him with you, did you?" Dustin asked.

"No. He left not long after you did. I don't know where he went."

"To Hell, I hope," Dustin said. "Why didn't you just divorce him when you had the chance, mom? He hasn't even lived in the same state as you in five years."

"Dusty, I thought he was out of our lives forever. He says he'll be back soon. He wants the house. He wants to reclaim the life he threw away."

"Why'd you even ask me to come over there? Why would you think I'd want to see him? I got a PFA order for a reason."

"I didn't want to! He came to the house after I'd already called you. He told me he would find you and hurt you if you didn't come over! Your father always knew the easiest way to hurt me was to hurt you."

"God, I don't even know if I believe you or not. Why did you keep going back to that piece of garbage? We got along fine when it was just the two of us. You were always better off on your own. Like me."

"I'd rather you weren't alone all the time."

"Oh don't worry about me. I get along fine by myself. No one's tried to shove a broomstick up my ass since I moved out."

Carol sighed. No matter how much she tried to help her son, that line was the ultimate checkmate. She knew that she carried a large part of the blame for what had happened to her sweet little boy that turned him into such a cold and bitter young man.

"Don't you think it would be a good idea to go back to therapy?"

"If I thought that, don't you think I'd still be going?"

"What about your medication?"

"The only antidepressant I need is for you to keep that piece of shit as far away from me as possible. I was fine until he showed up."

"No you were not fine. You've been carrying around all that anger and hatred for years now. You know, your father has been trying to treat his bipolar disorder with alcohol for thirty years."

"Oh Christ mother! Dad didn't rape me because he's fucking bipolar! He raped me because he's an alcoholic asshole who uses his condition as an excuse to be evil! I'm not like him. The doctors looked and looked for something wrong with my brain to blame for all my problems. You know what they discovered? My brain is totally normal! I'm totally ordinary, just traumatized and abused! I would have been perfectly fine and well-adjusted if I hadn't been raised by a couple of abusive assholes!"

"Is that how you see me?" Carol asked.

"How would you like me to see you?"

"I did my best under the circumstances. I was abused too, you know. If I'd have known he was going to do what he did to you..."

"You wouldn't have done anything. When your best response is that you weren't as bad as dad was that's not a very high bar to get over. All you had to do was anything besides nothing. He was abusing me long before he raped me. You let it happen. I don't blame you for what he did, but that doesn't make you innocent."

Carol sighed. "You deserved better than you got in life, Dusty. You deserved a better mother than me. I wish I could have given you a life like Brett Reilly's mom. I always knew you were smart, smarter than your father that's for sure. He was always so jealous of you. He knew you would make something of yourself better than he ever did if you got the chance. Now you have that chance. Don't let him drag you back into the black hole with him."

"Well, I live in a slum down by the river, so I wouldn't exactly call myself a rip-roaring success quite yet."

"I just want you to be happy. You may not believe me, but that's all I ever wanted. You'll always be my sweet little Dusty. I'll always be proud of you, even if you do some things that I don't think are very wise."

"Like being gay?"

"I'm not your father, Dusty. I knew you were gay when you were ten years old."

"No you didn't!" Dustin said. "Even I didn't know then."

"Oh it's true! The way you were around Billy... How happy he made you, how he broke your heart when he dropped you for Brett. I could see it was more than just friendship. I didn't treat you any different because you were queer. Mostly I just tried to keep your father from finding out. Obviously I failed. I knew he would do something terrible when he found out, I just never imagined how evil he would become. I know you tried with Emily, but you were never meant to be together. I would have been proud of you no matter what. I'm just concerned about the way you live it out, that's all."

"How so?"

"How many men have you slept with?"

"I don't know."

"That's what worries me. I always thought Billy would be the one for you. It broke my heart when he chose Brett over you."

"It did?"

"Why do you think I was so mean to the little brat? No mother wants to see pain in her little boy's eyes. You've been trying to fill that Billy-shaped hole in your heart for years."

"That may be true, but Brett really is the right one for him. He knows how to handle Billy. Billy would've steamrolled me because I could never say no to him. Those two complete each other. I've accepted that they belong together."

"I just want you to find the right one for you. I was never going to turn into the parade marching type like Billy's mother, but I was always proud of you. Anyway, I just wanted to bring you this stuff. I don't want you to be going hungry."

Dustin looked in the grocery bags. "Frosted Flakes," he smiled. "You shouldn't have."

"Well, I know you like them."

Dustin dug into the bag deeper. "Condoms, mom? Really?"

Carol's face turned bright red. "Well I just want you to be safe..."

"You really shouldn't have. These are way too small."

Dustin got dressed while his mom put the groceries away and washed the dishes he had used the past couple of days.

"Hey, can I borrow twenty bucks? I need to buy some gas."

Carol pulled her wallet out from her bra and handed Dustin thirty dollars. "Get yourself something nice too. No cigarettes or beer!"

Dustin laughed. "Bra money... Nice. Anyway, I don't drink. I don't need any bad habits," he said as he put his cigarettes in his pocket.

"You be careful on that death trap of yours. Remember what happened to Brett."

"Hard to forget someone snapping their leg in half," Dustin said. "I'll be careful."

Carol gave Dustin a kiss on the cheek. "I love you, my sweet little Dusty."

Dustin smiled. "Okay, I love you too. If you see dad again, you better tell him to leave me alone. I'm serious. I'll kill him." He watched from his window as his mom walked to her car and drove away. He debated whether he would need a jacket for his ride into Pittsburgh and decided to take it just in case. You could never guess what the weather would be like in late September. He could always take it off. He locked up his apartment and was glad that Mr. Johnston wasn't there to annoy him. He met his other neighbor, Craig, on the stairway.

"Hey dude," Craig said. He was wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball cap over his longish blond hair.

"What's up Craig?"

"Big Red, you look like hell. What happened to your face?"

"I wrecked my bike," Dustin replied.

"Whoa! Bummer, man."

"Yeah. But at least I got laid last night."

"Dude, you always get laid," Craig laughed.

"Yeah, but this one was a girl."

"I thought you were gay?"

"Hey, I can drive automatic or stick."

"You're a funny guy, Red."

"Hey, if you ever want to go for a test drive all you'd have to do is let me know."

Craig laughed nervously. "That's okay dude. I can hear what goes on in your room."

"Then you know how good I am at it."

Craig laughed again. "You're a funny guy."

Dustin fired up his motorcycle and began heading toward Pittsburgh. It was a quiet drive along the river, past the old decaying mills. The highways and towns got progressively busier as he approached the city. He turned onto Route 51 and followed it through the south hills of town into Pittsburgh. Traffic wasn't too bad for a Saturday afternoon. He rode across the West End Bridge and into the North Shore section of town to Allegheny General. He parked his bike in the parking garage and took the long walk from the garage to the hospital. He stopped at the welcome desk and asked for directions, and then he rode the elevator to the proper floor.

He began to feel nervous as he walked toward the room where Billy would be. He hadn't seen his former best friend in three years. In fact, he'd made every effort to avoid seeing Billy since the day he'd told him it would be better for both of them if they went their separate ways. Dustin hated hospitals. He'd had some of his worst moments in them. He'd seen Billy lose his mind and punch a mirror. He'd been committed in one and strapped to a bed. He'd rather be anywhere else than walking down that hallway trying to figure out what in the hell nephrology meant.

When he reached the room, he hesitated. He wasn't sure what to expect when he saw Billy again. What emotions would come bubbling to the surface he thought he'd buried years ago? Would Billy even want to see him? He took a deep breath and stepped into the room.

There on the bed lay a blond young man sleeping peacefully. He was tall, not nearly as thin and scrawny as Dustin remembered him. Dustin knew every feature of that face. It was a more mature face than the last time he'd seen it. Memories of happy times surged through his mind. He couldn't help but smile. He sat on the chair next to the bed and gently called Billy's name. His eyes opened, that same greenish gray color that Dustin had fallen in love with so many years ago. Billy immediately smiled.

"Oh god, did Brett tell you I was dying or something?" Billy groaned.

"Brett didn't say anything about you almost dying," Dustin said.

"He called you, didn't he?" Billy asked.


"I'm sorry. I told him not to. I'm fine. I know you wanted to keep your distance."

"No, it's okay. It's good to see you again. You look great. I mean, for being in the hospital and all. You've been working out."

"Yeah. You told me I should a long time ago. Not anything major, just trying to keep healthy. Brett started into it for his knee and I went along for something to do and just got into lifting and stuff."

"Well you look great," Dustin said.

"Thanks. You look great too, by the way. I mean, besides the black eye. What's up with that?"

"I got hit in the face with a basketball," Dustin lied.

"Oh really?" Billy replied.

"Yeah, they're very dangerous, you know."

"Deadly," Billy smiled. "No seriously, what happened?"


"Don't bullshit me, dude. Tell me what happened."

"It's nothing. My dad came back and..."

"Your dad?" Billy gasped. "God, I'd hoped he would have drank himself to death by now."

"Yeah me too. No, he was at my mom's house. It was just like old times except..."

"Except he never hit you in the face when you were younger," Billy finished.

"Yeah. Still finishing people's sentences for them, I see. Can't say I missed that," Dustin joked.

Billy blushed. "Yeah... I try not to do that. I'm trying to be better at not being such a dork."

"Where's the fun in that? Being a dork is what you do best."

"Yeah... Look, I... I understand why you didn't want to be friends with me anymore. I know I can be annoying."

"And arrogant. Don't forget arrogant."

Billy sighed. "Yeah. I never meant to be that way. I'm trying to be better."

"Hey, I always knew you were a little... let's say eccentric. I understood."

"You understood better than most. I'd imagine that's why you got tired of me."

"That's not why I said we should go our separate ways."

"You said you thought it was `cute' that I still wanted to be friends with you. You said you'd rather say goodbye than cling to something that's dying. That we should let each other go."

"Damn your photographic memory!" Dustin tried to joke.

"I don't have a photographic memory. And I wouldn't need one to remember what you said to me that day! I've replayed it in my head for three years now, trying to figure out what I said or did to make you not want to be my friend anymore."

"Billy, I'm not worth the trouble! Seriously! I'm a loser. That's why I told you to let me go! It wasn't because I got tired of you or hated you. It was because I couldn't keep holding you back! I'd have been an anchor to you, pulling you into the abyss with me. You've got a great guy and a bright future! You don't need me. You never needed me. You were never going to get anywhere until you got rid of me. And since you were never going to do it willingly I had to do it for you."

"You act like you're a cancer I needed to cut out of my life."

"That's pretty much it. Yeah."

"That's bullshit, Dustin! You are one of the strongest people I've ever known, even if you don't believe it yourself. Life took a royal shit on you every step of the way, and you just kept on fighting. I know you were in love with me and you felt like you had to cut me out of your life to move on. How'd that work out for you? You still fucking everything that moves? You still living in that piece of shit apartment?"

"It's not a piece of shit!"

"Dude, it's a piece of shit. Trust me, you deserve better than living in a slum on MeKean Street."

"How do you know all this stuff?"

"Because I never let go of my best friend, even if he let go of me."

"Okay, so look... I thought I was doing the right thing. I don't deserve to be your friend. I proved that when I screwed you over for valedictorian."

"Oh please! You think I give a damn about that?"

"You were pretty angry about it. It was my fault you lost it. I'm the one who screwed you out of it."

"Dude, Brett and I have had more fun in the last three years than Sarah Taylor will have in her miserable fucking lifetime. I didn't need a fucking title to tell me that I was the smartest student to ever walk through that school's doors. And maybe you think that's arrogant, but it's the truth. But I never blamed you for what happened. Never! Mr. Hartley manipulated you just like he manipulated me. You feel bad for something I forgot about three years ago!"

"But if it wasn't for me being stupid and messing around with Kenny..."

"Dustin, get this through your thick head: I don't care! I've done way worse things to people. I'd be a real asshole if I held what happened against you."

"I just feel like such a douche for the way I acted."

"Dude, we're not in high school anymore. Could you imagine if we all kept acting like we did back then? God, I'd punch myself in the face! I don't know how anyone could stand me back then. But I grew up. Your problem is you never left high school. You're still fucking everything that moves, searching for something to satisfy you."

"Okay, so what if you're right? What am I supposed to be searching for then?"

Billy smiled. "I think you know the answer."

Dustin gagged. "Oh god, not love! Jesus, what is it with everyone trying to tell me that lately!?"

"Dude, if I can see it, it's got to be obvious for everybody else. You can't fuck your way out of your problems. It's time to stop thinking with your penis and start thinking with your icy cold heart for once."

"Boy did I walk in at just the right time!" Brett said as he came into the room. "Who's thinking with their penis now?"

"Billy thinks I should stop trying to satisfy myself with random meaningless sex and use my heart to find real love."

"Billy said that?!?" Brett replied, clutching his chest. "Holy shit! Good thing we're in a hospital! I might just have a heart attack!"

Billy blushed. "Maybe some of your wisdom is rubbing off on me, babe."

"Hey, if you guys are going to be talking about rubbing off on each other, I'm out of here!"

"Actually, I just was stopping in on the way to grab a coffee in the cafeteria if you want to come with me, Dustin."

"Can you bring me back something?" Billy asked. "I haven't had coffee in days."

"Which one of us almost blew up his kidney again?" Brett scolded.

"You're no fun," Billy sulked.

"Anyway, you want to keep me company?" Brett asked.

"Uh... Sure," Dustin replied. "I'll need to head back home soon anyway."

Dustin said good-bye to Billy and followed Brett to the elevator. Dustin noticed the knee brace on Brett's right leg. He couldn't help but feel guilty about it. It had been his dirt bike which had caused Brett's accident. After a quick trip, the elevator dropped them off at the cafeteria level. Brett paid for both of their coffees and sat near a window with Dustin. Dustin sipped his drink as Brett looked out the window at the city. Dustin struggled to think of something to say. He hadn't been alone with Brett very often.

"Still wearing a knee brace?" Dustin asked awkwardly.

"Yeah. Only when I'm physically active. I've had to do a lot of running around the last few days and it's a little sore. I wear it when I go bowling and stuff. My knee's never going to be one hundred percent after what happened." Brett ran his fingers through his curly brown hair. It was longer than Dustin was used to seeing it. Brett had always kept it short or hidden under a Yankees baseball cap when they were younger. "Jesus there's just so much shit going on right now."

"So what happened to Billy? He never got around to telling me."

"Kidney stone. He'll be okay in a couple days. He'll have to cut out the soda for a while, but he'll be okay."

"Wait, you made me all worried and anxious over a stupid kidney stone?!?"

"It worked, didn't it? You showed up."

"So he's not close to dying or anything?"

"I don't know, he complained an awful lot about it before we came here."

"Well he's Billy. If he wasn't complaining I'd really be worried something was wrong with him."

"Yeah. Anyway, they have to watch him more carefully because of him being diabetic. He's been good otherwise. I kind of follow the same diet he does, you know, watching the carbs and avoiding the sugars. It's been good for me, actually. I was closing in on two hundred pounds when we finished high school, but I'm back to around one-seventy now. It takes the pressure off the knee."

"Wow, I'd love to hit one hundred seventy. I can barely get above one-fifty."

"It's because you were neglected as a kid," Brett said.

"Yeah, but that was years ago."

"Doesn't matter. The body remembers. It's like getting a limb cut off. Your body still thinks it's there even though it's gone. Your body remembers the abuse, even though you'd like to forget it."


"Yeah. That's kind of why I was hoping you'd come see Billy. I understand why you thought you had to cut him out of your life, but you really hurt him. You were there for each other your whole lives, and suddenly you tell him you don't want to be his friend anymore? You couldn't just cut him off and not expect it to hurt him."

"I didn't do it to hurt him," Dustin protested.

"Well you did. And from the looks of things you hurt yourself even worse than you hurt him."

"What are you a psychiatrist now?"

"Psychology major actually. I'm thinking about getting into musical therapy."

"That sounds right up your alley. I'm still trying to imagine you as a college student."

"You're not the only one! You don't know how hard it is to study something so advanced while being dyslexic, but it's a fascinating subject. Billy helps me a lot. I can pay attention when a subject interests me. It helps Billy too. He's always had trouble figuring people out. Seeing things spelled out in a book helps him understand the way other people act. Tell him that people act in predictable patterns and he's all over that. It's when people don't act predictably that gets him messed up. So now he analyzes people the way he analyzes numbers. It's kinda cute."

"I always just assumed he was obsessive-compulsive about pretty much everything."

"Dude, you should try living with him. You haven't lived until you've seen a twenty-year-old guy spend two hours looking for a sock because he has an odd number of them. And he can't just throw the spare one away because he might find the other one. I mean, he's getting better, but he still has issues."

"Okay, let's be honest. You know I loved Billy when we were in school. You know I was insanely jealous of you. I even beat the shit out of you over him. Why do you keep reaching out to me?"

"What do you mean?"

"You know what I mean."

"I didn't do it for you. I did it for him. Maybe you're like the missing sock he's been looking for since high school."

"Okay, I'm calling bullshit on that. You had your mother pay for my therapy after I tried to kill myself. You gave me a ride to school our senior year when you didn't have to. You invited my sister to the prom. You found my cell phone number and called to tell me about Billy. Billy would have been fine if he'd never spoken to me again. It's you who reached out to me. It's you who keeps dragging me back into your life. Why would you do that?"

Brett took a sip of his coffee. "Okay... In high school I was extremely possessive of Billy especially when it came to you. But I found that the more I tried to keep the two of you apart, the more it hurt him. Nothing would have made me happier than for you to disappear back then. And then you did, and Billy was miserable. He needs his best friend. You guys have something that's deeper than friendship, and I've reached the point in my life where I can accept that and not be a jealous little bitch about it."

"I don't know... I had good intentions when I told him we should go our separate ways. I thought Billy would be better off without me. I thought he'd understand why I did it."

"You expected Billy to just understand what you were feeling without spelling it out for him? This is Billy we're talking about."

"Yeah, I know. It's like sharing your feelings with a brick wall sometimes."

"Maybe someday Billy will tell you why he's like that. It's not my place to say. I'll just tell you that he may act like he's all brain and no heart, but we both know that's bullshit. Most of the time he's all heart and no brains! He actually cares way too much. That's his problem. Trust me, every stupid little conversation you've ever had with him is stored in that brain of his somewhere. He could write a book. You told him you didn't want to be friends anymore. I know you thought you had good reasons, but Billy, as smart as he is, is kind of naive. The guy can do calculus in his head but he can't read people. Maybe you thought he'd understand, but he couldn't process it. In his head, you didn't want to be friends anymore because he did something wrong. He's been blaming himself for how things ended with you for three years."

"I didn't mean I never wanted to see him again. I was the one who screwed everything up."

"Hey, I get that. You get that. But it's Billy we're talking about here. You know he has been replaying every conversation you ever had in his mind for the last three years, analyzing your whole relationship trying to figure out what he did wrong. He always assumes he's to blame when something goes wrong. I mean he thought he killed his grandmother for god's sake. But we both know Billy will not make the first move, because he's terrified of making things worse. He analyzes the situation until it paralyzes him."

"I know. He's just frustrating. So let's say we become friends again. Aren't you afraid I'll try to sleep with him like I do everybody else?"


"Why not?"

"Because that's not the kind of relationship you guys have. Sleeping with Billy would be like sleeping with your brother. He's your family. Your real family. Billy was always the one relationship you could never fuck up, no matter how hard you tried. Even when one of you did something stupid, you always ended up working it out. That's why I know you'll get through this, too. You really do need each other. I hope you understand that. You need him just as much as he needs you."


"And I hope you get some sleep too. You look exhausted."

"I don't sleep well lately," Dustin admitted. "You're not looking too great yourself."

"There's a lot going on. School is pretty busy. Then Billy ended up in here. But mostly it's my brother."


"Yeah. He can't kick the heroin. It's getting worse. I'm really afraid for him. I've had to bail him out over and over again. His life just went to shit after his dad ran off with my mom."

"His dad? Isn't he your father too?"

"Just because he fucked my mother doesn't make him my dad. He can go to hell as far as I'm concerned. So can she."

"Family sucks," Dustin sighed.

"Yeah," Brett replied. "Nobody can hurt you like family."

"Yeah... So I guess I hurt my brother pretty bad at the end of school, even if he says he doesn't care about valedictorian."

"It was never about valedictorian. And, he feels a lot better about that since he found out Sarah bombed out of school and moved back home. He knew he was better than her all along. That just proved it to him. Of course you know how Billy can be when he's right about something."

"Yeah... So... What do you think he'd say if he found out I slept with her?"

"You fucked Sarah Taylor?!?" Brett gasped. "Oh Jesus! I hope you disinfected afterward!"

"She was really nice."

"With all the practice she's had I'm sure she was!"

"Who do you think has fucked more guys, her or me?" Dustin asked.

"I'm guessing you, but not by much. Wow! I hope you at least used a condom."


"Seriously? For one, we didn't call her `Syphilis Sarah' for nothing. But also, you don't want Dustin Junior coming around in nine months, do you?"

"She said she was on the pill," Dustin protested.

"And you believed her?" Brett asked.

Dustin didn't answer.

"I can't believe you fucked Sarah Taylor. Wait until Billy hears about this!"

"Can we not tell Billy about this?" Dustin pleaded.

"Oh... Want to keep it on the down low, eh? Okay. I won't tell him. So what was it like? As cavernous as I think it was?"

"Dude, that's disgusting. It was okay. It just kinda happened."

"That happens a lot to you, doesn't it?"

"I guess so."

"Do you love her?"

"Of course not. I don't do the whole `love thing.' I just needed to talk to somebody about what happened with my dad and one thing led to another."

"What happened with your dad?" Brett asked.

"You can't tell by looking at my face?"

"Dude, I noticed the black eye but I thought your dad moved out of state."

"He came back. Wanted me to drop the protection order I have on him."

"Well obviously you need it. I hope you called the cops on him."


Brett sighed. "Jesus, Dustin. You're as determined as Billy to be a martyr to save people who don't deserve it! Call the fucking cops on his ass. I'm serious."

After the two finished their coffee, they returned to the elevators, only this time they were going in different directions.

"Tell Billy good-bye for me will ya?"

"Yeah. Hey... I'm glad we talked. I'm sorry we never got along. I know it was mostly my fault."

"We both made mistakes, Brett. We were just stupid kids. What did we know back then?"

"Yeah. I am sorry though. I wish I could go back and not be such a dick to you."

"I appreciate that," Dustin replied, offering Brett his hand. Brett shook it and smiled.

"You don't have to be a stranger."

"I know. Thanks for listening to me ramble."

The elevator doors opened and Dustin squeezed his way into it, and then headed back to his bike. The sun was setting as he arrived back at his apartment. Just as he was walking past Mr. Johnston's apartment the door opened.

"No I don't have another victim to fuck," Dustin said, feeling annoyed.

"No," Mr. Johnston said. "You told me to watch out for anyone who came around looking for you."

"Someone was here?" Dustin asked. "What'd he look like?"

"It was just some kid. Looked familiar. Probably about your age. Brown hair. Seemed friendly. Didn't stay long. Knocked on your door and left after a few minutes."

"Well what color were his eyes?"

"I don't know! I'm eighty-five years old for crying out loud! You think I can remember every detail of every person I see?"

Dustin sighed. "Wow, that's a really helpful description. You just narrowed it down to about fifty guys I know."

"Hey, I can't help it if you're promiscuous! You know most people would be..."

"Whatever! Thanks for nothing," Dustin said. He slammed his door behind him and sat down at the computer. Soon he would have to head out for his night shift at Wal-Mart, but until then he just wanted to rest for a few minutes. Now he had strange people showing up at his door.

"Great," Dustin sighed. "Now I have a stalker."

Things are moving along! Nice to see Billy and Brett again, I hope? Anyway, what'd you think? What's going to happen next? You can reach me at jkwsquirrel@yahoo.com

Next time - The Lost Souls in the Fishbowl