Wayward Son

Chapter 3

war·lock –noun

1.a man who practices the black arts; a male witch; sorcerer.

2.a fortuneteller or conjurer.

This was the definition I found, and most of the articles I found were pretty much in line with this. Dark, darkness, shadows and generally on the evil side of good and evil. The images I found were disturbing, but of course they were 'artists concepts'. I don't know how that makes you feel, but if you want to see a truly twisted visual representation of an artists concept, you should check out Hieronymus Boschs's version of hell. At least you should look if you want nightmares.

If anyone could envision my nightmare, it was Mr. Bosch. I can admit that my attraction to Gideon had diminished somewhat, and I'm going to say that it's a credit to me that my libido didn't override my fear that he could be a maniacally evil dude. Seriously, for a teenage guy to defeat his libido in just about anything is a victory. So I continued to observe Gideon from a mostly scholarly perspective, trying to look for something that would give me some idea what exactly was going on.

This would be a whole lot easier if I actually knew what to look for. In all seriousness the only time the Warlock angle really gained any credibility was when it got dark outside. In the light of day, it just seemed ludicrous. But once the sun went down and the shadows began to creep across the landscape, the idea seemed pretty believable; even terrifying. Like I said, I just didn't know what I was looking for.

It would be even more convenient if people wore those black and white hats so we'd know if they were good or evil, but perhaps not only was it not that easy, it was also not that simple. Perhaps, like Seth had said, things were more like shades of gray. While most of the the items I had found put the warlock on the darker side of gray, they weren't strictly evil. I freely admit though I had no reason outside of my impure thoughts about Gideon; I clung to the hope that he wasn't some kind of super villain.

I sat in the kitchen pretty much at a standstill with my search on my laptop, eating a snack of popcorn that following Saturday afternoon. I was trying to find explanations for what I had seen and, if I weren't crazy, what Gideon might actually be. I heard the front door open and close, and the dull clump of shoes being kicked off. While we didn't have the same rule against shoes in the house that the Montcalm's did, Joel still kicked his shoes off. Might was well, it was just like home he'd said more than once.

"What's up?" He asked as he breezed by me and opened the fridge, staring at it's contents.

"You may be a brother, but don't think that will protect you from my mother if she catches you taking inventory of the fridge."

"Well, she hides the good stuff so it always takes longer to find it in your house," he emerged from the fridge with chilled M&M's and took a seat by me. "Your mom rocks, she knows chocolate tastes better cold."

I held my hand out and he poured a few out before returning to his own snacking. "So, anything new?" He asked.

"No," I replied, "the shit part is all of this sounds like I'm crazy. The only person that has any reason to think this is true is Seth."

"That's cause his parents are whacked." Joel observed. "Not that I don't believe you, but you have to admit...It's kind of hard to know what to do about it."

I sighed in agreement and popped a candy in my mouth while I thought about that. "I can't shake the image from my mind, but of course I couldn't have seen what I think I did. When it's bright and sun-shiny out I can scoff at it. Later though I get paranoid."

We ate candy in relative silence for a few minutes before Joel started to speak. It was cut off, however, by him immediately launching into a coughing fit. Small bits of chocolate and bright candy shell popped from his mouth and I tried to slap his back while laughing at the silly mess he'd become.

"Gurgh!" Joel said. Well, said is a bad word. It was noise coming from his mouth though. I just laughed harder and slapped his back. He began slapping my hand and arm, so I relocated more towards the middle of his back and higher.

"Gurgh ut!" he choked, wheezed and somehow managed to laugh all at once. He'd gone red in the face and was twisting up and away from me, knees bent as he laughed and coughed all in one sound.

"I can't believe you were choking on a chocolate ball," I smirked and he continued to try and even out his breathing.

"Goo," He stopped, swallowed and coughed a couple more times before regaining his composure. "You are an asshole."

"For what? I was trying to help!" I crunched down on a frozen candy.

"By pounding my spine through my chest? Give me those!" He surged forward and snagged the bag from the table, spilling a few out. I snatched them, popping a few more in my mouth while grinning at him.

"Ass," he stated again before retaking his seat.

"So, if Gideon is a warlock...I can't believe I'm actually starting a sentence like that," I rolled my eyes and looked at the ceiling, "If Gideon is a warlock what should I do? I mean if we take as a given I'm not crazy or seeing things."

"That's a pretty big thing to take for granted," Joel deadpanned.

"Well, have to start somewhere."

"Yeah. Okay, one problem with the way you put that." Joel upended the bag and began noisily crunching before finishing his statement. "Why should you do anything?"

"Why? What if he's evil? I think I saw him kill someone." I replied, still staring at the popcorn ceiling in my kitchen. Why do they call it popcorn? It doesn't look a damn thing like popcorn.

"Yeah but, you can't prove it. No one else saw him and even if they did, what can you say? Shadows filled up the alley, the guy was dead and then you saw Gideon and then he was gone. Bout sum it up?" Joel crinkled the wrapper and tossed it towards the trash can. I blocked it idly, flipping it back in his general direction.

"I can't prove it, that's true. But I know I saw something."

"Doesn't mean you have to do anything. Look, things happen everyday. You hear about the news, all those people dying in other places. Hell, even in our country we do shitty things, not always anything you or I can do about it." Joel sighed.

"True enough, " I said. I leaned back in my chair. "But there is also a big part of me that needs to know what I saw, to explain it."

"A big part? I thought it was kind of an average part." Joel snickered.

"Jealousy is so ugly on you," I stood and went to the fridge for sodas.

"Well, maybe the only way to find out anything is to talk to him?" Joel asked.

"Talk to him?" I slid a can of Coke across the table to Joel. "What of if he, I dunno, hexes me or something? Am I supposed to just show up at his house and ask how he does those neat but scary things with shadows?" I popped the top of my can and took a deep drink. "Besides," I got no farther as an enormous belch roared up my throat and into the room.

"Awesome," Joel commented.

"Ow, that hurt," I held a hand to my chest.

"I bet, it hurt me all the way over here." Joel smiled and drank some of his Coke as well. "You could try to talk to him at school. Ask him how he likes it here or something."

"No," I shook my head and drained the rest of my can. "If I talk to him, it won't be something as lame as that." I belched again and clutched my chest.


"Hey, Gideon right?" I asked as I stood next to his locker, squirming in my sneakers. Gideon's head became visible as he leaned back out of the locker to look at me.

"Yes, that's me." He replied. I smiled at him in a way I hoped was totally non-threatening.

After thinking about the problem some more I had reached the conclusion that I couldn't just let it go. Ergo, I had to form a plan, and after considerable thought I realized that the only way to go, safely, was to take Joel's advice and talk to the guy. At school, where there was plenty of light. The more I thought about that, I realized that everywhere you went there were shadows and if that's where his strength lay I may need a little more protection than just the daylight.

So I did some more research on the net and found that the most common way to protect against a warlock was pretty simple: garlic. I thought that was weird at first, because vampires are said to be warded off by garlic, but apparently warlocks were averse to it as well. Maybe it was something all evil things generally despised?

So before I left for school I grabbed a couple cloves of garlic from the fridge and pocketed them. I figured I could keep one on me and eat the other before I talked to Gideon. My idea was foolproof. At least it was up until I actually put that clove in my mouth and bit down. To say the taste was overwhelming doesn't even scratch the surface of what was occurring in my mouth. I felt the sharp bite of the garlic and then every saliva gland in my mouth kicked on at once and began a flood Noah would have recognized. I started looking around frantically for a garbage can or some other receptacle to deposit this offensive flavor.

To make matters worse Gideon was dialing the combination to his locker and my window of opportunity was closing.

My mouth reflexively closed down on the chunks of garlic and another wave hit my senses. With all the accumulating saliva, I involuntarily swallowed everything. I was seized by a coughing fit and my eyes were watering but my nose felt amazingly clear. Unfortunately all I could smell was the overpowering garlic. The odor was so powerful it almost had it's own mass, like it could walk over and make small talk with someone.

Gideon smacked his locker door with the palm of his hand and began spinning the dial again. I darted over to a water fountain and began greedily drinking, trying to wash the taste from my mouth. In between gulps I glanced at Gideon to keep track of him. His locker door opened and I stood up, deciding it was now or never.

That brings us to him leaning out of his locker and looking at me.

"Yes, that's me." He replied.

"Uh, I'm Danny, uh," I swallowed as my mouth still continued to overproduce saliva. "Daniel Whitson." I watched as he began to smile, and then his nose wrinkled and he leaned back a step, accompanied with a small cough.

"Hi," He shot me a confused look.

"Yeah, so...I was...," My voice died as Gideon turned his head and shook it slightly. Oh crap, the garlic was warding him off! I wondered just how much garlic it took to ward a warlock off? Was I about to drive him down the hall or was he going to burst into flames? His face was contorted and then he opened his mouth and started to...laugh.

"Holy shit Daniel Whitson, get a tic-tac!" Gideon waved his hand in front of his face. I stood dumbfounded for a moment before smiling back at him sheepishly.

"Uh, yeah, sorry about that. I, uh..."

"Bring last nights Italian leftovers for lunch today?" Gideon shook hid head and reached back into his locker. I recoiled reflexively as his hand withdrew, my eye catching him in profile and my mind seeing him under that streetlight.

"Relax," He put his hands up and showed me the Certs in his hand, which he slowly extended to me. I felt so stupid, I can't even express it. Embarrassed I accepted the breath mint. Gideon replaced the package in his locker and pushed the door shut.

"So, what can I do for you?" he asked.

"Oh, yeah, well..." I stumbled over my words, but looking at Gideon's face I had a hard time tying him to the face I saw that night. I must have been seeing things, after all if the mind doesn't understand something it will fill in the blanks as best it can.

"It's just that I thought I saw you over at the Spring Fling the other night," I stopped speaking suddenly as Gideons smile faltered. He glanced down, out the window and then back to my face. Actually, more like my chin. He smiled again, but all the warmth was gone.

"No, no I ah, didn't go. I was home, my...guardian always has me studying and I have stuff around the house to do so..." He glanced at his watch just as the warning bell for class made both of us jump.

"I have to..."

"I'm late so."

"Yeah, see you later."

"Yeah, see you," I muttered. That raised more questions than it answered.

"You do realize that he was more than likely backing off of your dragon breath, not that warlock's hate garlic. In fact, maybe that's why they say nasty things stay away from garlic breath...or anyone else for that matter; because it stinks."

"Yeah, I muttered as we jogged around the field. "it didn't taste all that good either."

"Hey, maybe you should chomp one of those things and then kiss Aila...betcha she'd stop asking after that!" Joel chortled. I pushed him and he laughed some more. I started to laugh with him and shook my head.

"Hey Joel, please don't tell her about all this stuff, all right?"

"Yeah, sure. Why would I tell her?"

"I don't know, sometimes shit just comes up. With all the other things she has to talk about, I'd rather this wasn't one of them."

"Yeah, whatever, no problem. So what are you going to do now?" We jogged in silence for a moment as I bounced the idea back and forth in my head.

"Well, when I brought up seeing him at the fling his whole face changed. So I think the question made him uncomfortable; maybe he lied even."

"Yeah...you asked him after the mint right? So it wasn't just your bad breath that made him stop flirting with you?" Joel asked.

"Yeah, it was..hey, I never said I was flirting, or that he was!" I gave him a small shove for emphasis and he stumbled a bit before catching up.

"You didn't deny it either. Plus, you smiled when you were just telling me he smiled at you."

"I only mentioned he smiled to accentuate the fact that he stopped smiling when I brought up Spring Fling. That and his smile was different after." I retorted.

"Yeah, so if his smile was fake after, that means it was genuine before so...your boy toy was happy you were talking to him."

"You think so?" I shoved him again, this time he was ready for me. "My point was that while he was friendly before the question, he was different after. Not exactly unfriendly, but not the same either."

We finished our circuit of the field and joined the rest of the team. I bent to put my hands on my knees and breathe deeply. Joel placed his hands on his hips and walked a few circles, flexing his legs and stretching. I stood up slowly and walked to the dugout wall to lean against it and stretch my leg muscles. Even though we had stretched before running, it was a good idea to stay loose.

Coach called out to take field positions once the last guys finished their laps. I grabbed my glove from the bench and Joel's as well. I tossed his to him as I walked back towards the field.

"Well, the only way you're going to find out more is to talk to him again. The garlic didn't work, so maybe you can spare yourself that at least." Joel laughed and ran to take his place at short stop. I sidled up to third base and scratched the dirt around with the tip of my sneaker. Joel's kidding aside, the garlic hadn't been nearly as effective as I'd thought. Maybe my best weapon was surprise, since the internet was probably going to be no help on this one.

I opened my front door to the warm smell of pot roast and the sound of the TV coming from the front room. I peeked in and saw my dad slumped in his chair with his glasses perched on the end of his nose. I continued on to the good smells in the kitchen and found my mother at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and a romance novel.

"I can't believe you read that stuff," I chuckled at her.

"I can't believe you just walked through my house with those dirty cleats," she responded. She put the book down, face open and turned to consider me.

"Sorry," I grimaced. "Dinner smells good."

"Yes, it does, and you may have some as soon as you take a shower, sweat ball." She smiled at me, opened her mouth and then closed it.

"What?" I asked.

"It's nothing really," she shook her hand at me, "Go get clean."

I toed off my cleats and picked them up, carrying them up to my room. After showering I ran my fingers through my still damp hair. It was getting too long, maybe I should get it cut this weekend. Back in my room I dressed in fresh underclothes and then stood in contemplation. Sweats for comfort and staying in for the night or get dressed and surprise Gideon at home? Well, nix the surprise Idea, I didn't know where he lived. I couldn't look him up either, as a foster kid his guardian wouldn't be listed in the phone book under Gideon's last name.

I pulled the sweats on and decided I would have to cogitate on how to find out where Gideon lived, in the meantime...pot roast awaited.

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