Rent
by Taran Geary

 

Chapter Eight: Daniel & Louis

Sunday morning arrived cold and dark; and despite the extraordinary events of the previous day, Sam was awake at his usual time of 5 am.

He sat up in bed bleary-eyed and the previous days happenings raced through his brain in a confusing blur.

“I must be fucking mad,” he concluded as he put on his dressing gown and slippers – despite the flat being centrally heated, Sam didn’t like it too warm in the mornings so the heating didn’t come on until after he awoke.

He made his way to the bathroom and then to the kitchen to make some coffee. He stopped outside Pavel’s door and stood thinking for a while before finally making the decision to look in.

He opened the door slowly and as quietly as he could and he peeped inside. His stomach lurched when he saw the empty bed.

Where could he be? Sam checked the front door; it was still securely locked from the inside, he wasn’t in the bathroom; Sam had just come out of there.

Sam gathered his thoughts and forced his rising panic to subside. He then went to the older boys’ door and again carefully opened it and looked in.

His heart leapt and he couldn’t help but smile as he saw the three boys fast asleep in a heap in the bed. The sight reminded him of his childhood and trips to his great uncle’s farm where he’d loved to see the new born piglets fast asleep in big heaps under the heat lamps provided for that purpose.

Sam closed the door and with relief set about the business of his day.

A few hours later, Shaun started to stir, he tried to move but a weight was pressing against him. He opened his eyes and took in his surroundings. He soon realised where he was and he marvelled at the shafts of daylight shining through the chinks in the curtains and the myriad dust particles that they illuminated. He just lay and watched the light show-modest as it was-for quite a while. He looked around and found that the weight pressing against him was Pavel who appeared to be upside down with his feet over Mick’s chest and his body bent almost double lying across Shaun’s right arm.

Shaun started to move and his movements caused grunts of complaint from his two companions. But he was determined now and with some effort heaved Pavel off his arm and he sprung up and managed end up sitting on the edge of the bed. He stretched and rubbed his arm which was painful from being trapped under Pavel who, small as he was, had taken some moving. He could smell coffee so he assumed that Sam was up and about, he searched around for his boxers and after finding them he ventured out of the room.

After a quick visit to the bathroom, he went to the kitchen and poured himself a cup of coffee and then he strolled into the lounge. Sam was there eating some toast and watching the news on TV.

“Morning” Sam said. “Did you sleep alright?”

“Yeh, like a log, thanks.”

“You looked peaceful when I looked in earlier.”

A cloud passed over Shaun’s face. “You came into our room?” He said accusingly.

“No, I just looked in to see where Pavel was; I nearly died when I saw his bed was empty. I thought he’d been snatched again or something.”

“Did you go into Pavel’s room, then?”

“No I just peeped in to check he was ok.”

“Ok,” Shaun grunted.

“It’s ok; I understand that you don’t trust me. Why should you?

There was a long silence and Shaun wandered back to the bedroom where he found Mick and Pavel engaged in a fight to the death which involved much grunting and giggling. Shaun did the only thing he could in the circumstances and threw himself on top of the other two and a three way death match ensued which finished with much puffing and panting and giggling. The two older boys generously declared Pavel the winner and then unceremoniously picked him up and threw him out of the room.

He tried several times to come back in but was ejected and he eventually got the message that he wasn’t wanted.

The two older boys sat on their bed; red faced and breathless from the fighting. Shaun put his arm around Mick’s shoulder and leaned in towards him and kissed him on his cheek.

“That shouldn’t have happened last night.” Mick said seriously.

“No,” Shaun agreed. “He should have stayed in his own room.” Mick looked blank for a few seconds.

“No, not Pavel, us; what we did.”

Shaun looked stunned. “What do you mean? Didn’t you enjoy it? You started it, for fuck’s sake!”

“I told you, I’m not gay, I’m straight and that should never have happened and it won’t happen again!”

“Not gay? Well, you could’ve fooled me!”

“Just shut it.”

“But I thought that we-“

“Well you thought wrong, didn’t you?”

“Can’t we at least talk about it?”

“No we can’t, drop it! Subject closed.” Mick started to pull on his clothes.

“Mick, please.” Shaun began to cry.

“Don’t start bloody crying, for fuck’s sake!” And with that he slammed out of the bedroom and Shaun heard the front door slam as well.

Shaun threw himself onto the bed and cried his heart out.

After he had recovered and washed and dressed, Shaun went out in to the lounge and sat beside Sam.

“What’s happened?” Sam asked.

“Mick’s gone,” Shaun replied. “We had words.”

“Really? What about?”

“I dunno, I mean I don’t understand; he keeps blowing hot and cold.”

Shaun then went on to tell Sam what had been said. “Do you think he’ll come back?”

“I really can’t say,” Sam replied. “But give him a couple of hours to have a think.”

“I want to go and look for him.”

“I wouldn’t just yet, let him be for a bit. If he’s not back this evening, then we’ll go and look for him.”

“Why do you think he’s like that, you know “yes I am no I’m not”? I don’t know what to do; it’s so confusing.”

“Yeh, I can imagine,” Sam replied. “I guess he’s had bad experiences with gay people-like we all have and perhaps he’s afraid of being gay because of it. But in truth, I don’t really know him well enough to say. Let’s see what happens for the rest of the day, eh?”

“Ok,” Shaun grunted.

***

The day had dragged by; and Mick had wandered around the city deep in thought. He’d met up with some boys that he knew and it hit him hard just how rough life was on the street. He’d been offered drugs, but turned them down; although he accepted the offer of a couple of pints in the pub (He had to pay).

Mick sat in the pub with the three lads he had met and they chatted about this, that and nothing in particular. Mick started to tell them about what had happened and he took all the ribald comments about sugar daddies and being Sam’s bitch in good spirit. The two most boisterous boys went outside to smoke a cigarette leaving just Sam and the third boy, whose name was Louis, sitting quietly.

“I’m not going to stay there,” Mick said.

“Why not,” asked Louis

“It’s too weird; can you keep a secret?”

“Of course I can, you know that.”

“Me and Shaun,” Mick began. “We…well, you know, we…”

“Shagged?” Louis finished the sentence.

“Well, yeh.”

“So, what of it?”

What d’you mean ‘what of it?”

“Well,” Louis picked his words carefully. “Were you forced into it? Did you enjoy it? Did Shaun enjoy it?”

“Well yeh,” Mick was hesitant; he’d always liked Louis and he trusted him but this was all so embarrassing. “I did enjoy it and so did he but I’m straight. I’m sure of it. Or at least I think I am.” He finished rather lamely.

Louis smiled. “I’m dead jealous, you know. You’ve got yourself a nice place to live and someone to look after you as well as a gorgeous boyfriend who adores you and your giving it all up to come back to this shit,” he pointed to his own dirty clothes and a ticket from the Salvation Army hostel guaranteeing him a bed for the night.

“How do you know he adores me?”

“He told me.”

“When?”

“Oh, ages ago, months ago, last year sometime.”

“Really? Honest?”

“Of course, why would I lie? I’ll tell you this, though.” Louis leant across the table and whispered conspiratorially “If you don’t want him, I’ll have him.”

Mick punched Louis’ shoulder playfully and slumped back in his chair astonished.

“Thanks Louis, I had no idea. It never crossed my mind. Do you think I’m gay then?”

“Only you know that,” Louis drained his glass. “Get ‘em in, then.” He grinned.

“Where’s the other two gone?” Mick asked on returning with two more glasses of beer.

“Dunno”, Louis replied, taking a sip and smacking his lips appreciatively. “They’ve probably gone to earn some money; like I’ll have to soon. We haven’t all got nice homes and boyfriends to go back to, you spawney git.”

They finished their beer and hugged each other before saying their goodbyes. They promised to stay in touch and Mick gave Louis an open invitation to Sam’s.

Mick had known all along that he would go back to Sam’s. He realised that he was missing Shaun, but he wasn’t ready to go back just yet. He needed more time to think. He was actually more confused than ever, but he felt sure enough that he didn’t want to go down the drugs road again any more than he wanted to live back on the streets. Now that he’d had a taste of a comfortable home and “family” he really didn’t want to go back to the way things were.

So here he was. Sitting on the bench by the canal; the lights from the factories on the opposite bank twinkled on the water and the drone of the machinery inside was hypnotic. It was virtually dark now and getting very cold.

Occasionally a man would stroll by and take an interest in him-offering a cigarette or striking up a conversation on some pretext. Mick either ignored them or rebuffed them. He didn’t want to go back to that life either.

A lone duck swam lazily by and spotting Mick, it swum up to him hoping for a snack. The duck quacked at him.

“And you can fuck off as well!” Mick told the duck. The duck quacked again, stuck its beak in the air and headed off towards the nearby footbridge.

A familiar figure appeared strolling along the towpath.

“Hi Louis,” Mick said cheerfully. “No luck yet?”

“Nah, just dirty old men; can’t face any of them today. The big cars will be pulling into the car park soon I’ll put on my best smile and cop rich man. But why are you here, Fishy?”

“Just thinking, I’m missing Shaun. But I don’t want to admit it.”

“You know your problem? You’re in love and you don’t know it.”

“Don’t be daft.”

“You trust your Auntie Louis, she knows all the signs.” Louis laughed and made his farewells and he headed off towards the car park.

“Daft twat,” Mick grinned at Louis retreating back. It always amazed him how Louis always kept himself upbeat and positive. He was a good friend and he wished that he could help him. But the thing with Louis was that he didn’t want to be helped.

Mick continued to think; mulling over the events of the last couple of days…

“Well, well, well, if it isn’t the Fish boy!” A familiar, loud and unwelcome voice derailed Mick’s train of thought. “Got fed up with our Turk loving, burger flipping sugar daddy, have we? I knew you’d come back home to me.”

“What the fuck are you doing down here, Roger?” Mick was surprised; Roger rarely got his hands dirty. He always sent others to do his dirty work.

“Taking care of business, dear boy; taking care of business. Which is why I’m so delighted to see you, Fish Boy.”

“What the fuck are you on about?” Mick felt his temper rising.

“A very expensive piece of merchandise was stolen from me a day or two ago causing me much perturbation and embarrassment; and a little bird tells me that you may have some information concerning its whereabouts.”

“Dunno what you’re on about” Mick shrugged his shoulders.

“Oh I think you do.” Roger sneered. “It was small and Albanian and I hear that you and your little bum chum the delightful Shauny Boy took a particular interest in it. I realise that it is a very pretty little trinket and I can understand why you would want to own it yourself. Did it satisfy you during the night?”

Mick shot to his feet. “You disgusting piece of shit!” He spat at Roger. But Roger just laughed.

“You will tell me where it is and my associate here will ensure that you do.”

Roger indicated a big, powerful looking youth in a leather jacket who was standing in the shadows of the poplar trees that lined the towpath.

“He is a human being and he has a name!” Mick shouted.

“So you do know where it is!”

“No, I didn’t say that.”

Mick felt himself grabbed from behind and his arm was twisted cruelly up behind his back causing him to cry out with pain. Roger’s associate was as strong as he appeared to be.

Roger came right up close to Mick’s face. Mick tried to kick him but another cruel twist of his arm stopped him. Roger put out a hand and started to stroke Mick’s cheek with the back of his forefinger.

“It’s such a shame,” Roger said in a quiet, mocking voice. “You were such a beautiful boy, stunning blue eyes and that beautiful blond hair; and you were just so good at your job.”

Mick struggled against his captor but whoever was holding had him completely overpowered him.

“And so spirited!” Roger continued. His finger continued to move over Mick’s face and through his hair. Mick also felt Roger’s other hand exploring the front of his jeans. He cried out in horror as he felt his zip being pulled down and Roger’s hand venturing inside.

“Get your stinking fucking hands off me you filthy fucking, pervy bastard.” Mick screamed; his voice cracking as tears sprang to his eyes. Again he struggled against his captor but to no avail.

“My word, we have grown up nicely,” Roger continued to torment Mick who despite himself was stiffening under Roger’s expert hand. “Oh yes, I always knew you liked me, and we would be so good together.” He leaned forward and kissed Mick full on the lips.

Mick spat hard aiming for Roger’s face. But Roger deftly avoided it and he laughed his raucous laugh. Mick continued spitting, trying to get any vestige of his tormentor off him. Roger continued to roar with laughter and he walked away to the canal’s edge.

“Daniel,” he said, addressing Mick’s captor. “Make sure this young man gives me the information I require.” He turned his back and gazed out across the water.

Mick heard a voice whisper in his ear; “Make like I’m hurting you.”

“You are fucking hurting me!”

“Just pretend I’m really hurting you.”

Mick was puzzled for a few moments and when the penny dropped he screamed in agony as Daniel pretended to hurt him. Roger could be heard chuckling to himself as he scanned the towpath, presumably looking for more fresh meat.

This went on for several minutes; but Mick and Daniel froze as something shot out from the bushes and cannoned into Roger causing him to fall face down into the water. It took a few moments for Mick to realise that it was Pavel who was now standing on the bank screaming at Roger. He then started running up and down the towpath picking up stones and hurling them at Roger who was now standing up to his neck in the dirty water desperately trying to dodge the stones and half bricks etc that Pavel was hurling at him.

“Stop that you little bastard, I’ll fucking kill you when I-OUCH-get hold you-OW! Daniel! Daniel! Get your useless- OUCH! You little bastard. Daniel get over here and help me.”

Shaun arrived breathless and panting and he ran to the towpath and scooped Pavel up into his arms and he held the sobbing boy tight.

“You better go and help your boss.” Mick said to Daniel who released Mick and strolled over to the canal and reached out a hand to Roger.

At the same time Pavel wriggled free of Shaun and ran to the canal bank and charged into Daniel sending him sprawling in the water alongside Roger. When Daniel had got himself upright he stood facing a furious Roger.

“You’re a useless waste of fucking breath, you hear me?” Roger shouted in Daniel’s face.

Mick and Shaun recalled Sam’s story and realised that despite his airs and graces and fine clothes, Roger was still “Rotherhithe Rog” underneath.

“I’ll make you pay for this,” Roger’s rant continued. “I bring you here to protect me and you allow me to be fucking humiliated by a fucking 12 year old. You’re fucking useless, you hear? Fucking useless.”

The three boys stood on the towpath watching as Daniel calmly and deliberately drew his fist back and punched Roger full in the face. Roger sprawled backwards in a shower of dislodged teeth and blood.

Mick, Shaun and Pavel clapped and cheered as Daniel waded to the shore and Mick and Shaun helped him out of the water. Pavel again started hurling stones at Roger and Shaun had to restrain him to stop him throwing an old bicycle frame into the water.

Roger managed to regain his equilibrium and started to make for the towpath and when he got close enough, Mick landed a well aimed kick which sent him flailing yet again and dislodged his remaining teeth.  He asked to be helped out of the water and he was answered by a loud chorus of “Fuck off!”

Pavel sat on the canal bank and watched as Roger struggled to get out of the water; he was elderly and climbing up on to the bank was obviously painful; and his expensive clothes had soaked up water like a sponge making climbing out even harder. Pavel found a long stick and when Roger was nearly out Pavel jabbed him causing him to fall back in. This caused the young boy much amusement; but he eventually got bored and walked over to Shaun and Mick

“Where did you two come from?” Mick asked Shaun.

“Came looking for you.” Shaun replied.

“Why?”

“Why do you think?”

Mick shrugged his shoulders “Dunno”

Shaun swallowed and drew a deep breath, “Because I love you.” He said quietly.

“Fuckin’ Hell,” was all that Mick could find to say, but he put his arms round Shaun and snogged long and hard.

“Oh I love a happy ending!” Louis appeared again out of the bushes and was clapping his hands gleefully.

“Any luck?” Mick asked.

“Yeh,” Louis replied. “I just sucked off the local magistrate in the bushes there. He gave me £50 and wants to see me tomorrow same place, same time. So I’m well happy. See ya.” Louis bounced off towards the town to spend his earnings.

***

Sam appeared, apparently out of nowhere. “What’s been going on here?” He asked looking at a soaking wet and shivering Daniel.

“I thought you were minding the shop.” Shaun said.

“Those lazy bastards, Dom and Sadik turned up at last so I joined the search.”

“Who’s this?” he asked indicating Daniel.

“He’s Daniel,” Mick replied. “He used to work for Roger but he helped me out and punched Roger in the mouth.”

“Pleased to meet you Daniel,” Sam said. “And thank you.”

Daniel grunted and looked modestly at the ground. Roger by now had got out of the water and slunk away. A trail of blood told that he had made for the footbridge and his escape.

“How are you two now?” Sam asked.

“We’re ok,” Mick said. “I think I know where I want to be.”

“And where’s that?”

Mick grinned; “Working in a chip shop with my boyfriend”

Shaun turned to Mick and kissed him

***

“Come on lads,” Sam said. “Let’s go home.”

The boys sorted themselves out and prepared for the short walk home; Pavel who had been playing with some ducks, joined the little band.

“Hang on,” said Mick. “Daniel, where will you go?”

“Dunno,” Daniel stuttered as he shivered. “I’ll find somewhere.”

“Sam,” Mick asked. “Daniel can come home with us and get dry and cleaned up, can’t he?”

“Yes of course. Come along Daniel, it’s not far.”

They headed off along the towpath Mick and Shaun arm in arm in front and Sam and Daniel, deep in conversation behind

Pavel still had his stick and was poking about and hitting things as small boys do. He was skipping ahead and playing around quite happy and secure with his “family” close to him.

When they got home, Daniel showered and changed into some of Sam’s clothes and the five of them got comfortable with beer or coke, Mick made some sandwiches and they just chatted together. As the evening wore on it became obvious that Sam and Daniel were getting very friendly indeed.

Shaun nudged Mick and indicated that they should go to their room. Pavel was dragged, protesting to his room.

In their room Mick and Shaun sat on the two beds and just looked at each other for long moments.

“Where shall I sleep?” Shaun asked.

“Where do you want to sleep?”

“With you, of course.”

“Ok, then.”

Shaun took off his clothes and carefully folded them as before while Mick looked on bemusedly.

He slipped into the bed and the two boys snuggled up together. They didn’t have sex that night they just cuddled and talked; Mick told Shaun of his conversation with Louis.

“I never told Louis, I adored you!” Shaun said. “I never told anyone.”

“Why would he say that you did?” There was a long silence as several pennies dropped.

“He’s a perceptive sod,” Mick concluded.

“And a good friend; I wish we could help him” Shaun said.

“He’s ok; he’ll sort himself out when he’s ready.”

“I hope so.”

During the night, Shaun got up to use the bathroom and he stopped outside Sam’s door; he grinned because he could hear the unmistakable sounds of two men enjoying themselves.

“Atta boy Sam!” he said under his breath. “Give him one for me.” He chuckled and went back to bed. As he lay down Mick threw an arm over him and they snuggled up and slept.

Sam got up at his usual hour and reluctantly left the sleeping Daniel in bed while he went to make some coffee. He went downstairs to unlock the shop for the early morning staff to come in and clean the equipment. When he got back upstairs Mick was sitting in the lounge eating toast and drinking coffee.

“There’s toast made in the kitchen,” Mick said.

Sam went and got his toast and sat down next to Mick.

“So,” said Mick. “A little bird tells me you had a good time last night.”

Sam went red. “Might have done,” he said.

“Will Daniel be staying?” Mick asked.

“No,” Sam replied. “He’s going to stop with his aunt up North.”

“That must be disappointing.”

No, not really, he’s a nice lad and I like him a lot; but I’m not looking for a relationship. I hope we’ll stay in touch. He’s catching the 11 O’clock train.”

“Why did he turn against Roger?” Mick asked.

“Same reason we all did,” Sam answered. “He’d had enough.”

“Ok, I understand; are you ok?”

Yeh, I’m fine. How are you and Shaun?”

“I think we’re ok; it’s just all new to me. I’m not used to being loved for me as a person instead of just for my cock.”

Sam smiled, “you’ll get used to it.” There was a pause. “Anyway I’ve got Daniels clothes to iron.”

“You said you wouldn’t iron our clothes” Mick said mischievously.

Sam laughed, “You live here, Daniels a guest.

Mick snorted.

“I’m going back to bed,” He yawned. “Give us a shout before Daniel goes so that we can say goodbye.”

“Ok”

Mick went back to the bedroom and snuggled up to Shaun. “You lucky bastard, Haddock,” he spoke to himself before he drifted off to sleep.

 

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