The Sailor's Stories

1002 Chapter two – The Sailor’s Awakening.

with 3 comments

It was the start of the summer, and I got home early that day. I had been lucky, and had managed to get out of work earlier than usual. The last training rotation had ended the week before…, so I was just doing paperwork anyway. My work was a decent chunk of my time during a rotation, but outside of one, it was almost like I was on leave. As long as I was prepared for the next one, a few weeks later, my time was pretty much my own. It was the boys last day of school and the last of seventh grade. That was the biggest reason, for blitzing through my work, to get out early. I wanted to be there when they got home…, well…, I always tried to anyway, it just never seemed to work out for me. At the end of the next year we were going to have to think seriously about High School. There were several in the area, though I only really knew about the one I had attended. However, that’s a discussion for another time.

I couldn’t believe that the time had gone so fast. It had been a hard road some times…, especially for me. I had a difficult time, switching roles between the cool uncle, and the dad figure. As I parked my battered old jeep in the driveway, turning off the engine…, I could hear the all too common, conflicting streams of music. The harsh hard and fast beats of something punk from downstairs, the subtle dulcet tones of some electro-pop from upstairs. I wasn’t upset, as I had gotten well used to it, what annoyed me was that they weren’t using their ipods…, to save the ears of the neighbours. I couldn’t help it really, I just stood there on the front porch and marvelled at it all. My boys weren’t boys anymore…, now they were dreaded teenagers. What happened to the nice poppy stuff they both used to listen to? Maybe I was losing touch.

I’m Home, I thought to myself, with a slight chuckle. Walking through the front door, my nose was instantly assaulted with the sweet scents of mustard and pickle…, from the kitchen, down the hall. I dropped my case by the hall table and hung my hat on the hook as always. Leafing through the small stack of envelopes on the top of some other pages, on the hall table…, I could see nothing of consequence. So deciding not to bother, I went in search of that delicious smell…, probably for “Bill” anyway. The smell was overpowering me, and my stomach rumbled loudly. I realized then, just how hungry I was…, I was starving! I had managed to keep my day short by working through lunch. Following my nose, I strode casually into the Kitchen. In a heartbeat, I was suddenly attacked…, by the frenzy that is Corey. How he could hug me with half a sandwich in one hand, and a soda in the other, is well beyond me. But I was pleased all the same.

“Anything left in the fridge?”

“Sure thing Uncle Cam…, well there might be a slice of bread left…” he said with that Corey smile that made you melt, while at the same time making you want to know what his angle was.

I noticed that he had only started and had not had time to eat the other half of the monstrosities he called a sandwich.  The other half was sitting on a plate on the counter. His smile faded, while he followed my eyes…, then my train of thought, just those few seconds too late. Moving like a blur…, I had already taken my first bite, by the time he had a chance to say anything….

“Hey that’s mine!”

“You can have it back when I’m done if you like?” I answered with a smile of my own, one he knew he couldn’t beat. “Where’s your brother?” I said munching away.

“He’s in his room…, being a girl again…”

“Hey! … I’ve asked you not to do that.”

“Well it’s true.” He said, in that childish, placating way…, “He was all dark on the bus again, and I could tell he was crying…., I asked him what was wrong, but he just ignored me…., he’s been up there playing his shit music since we got home.”

“Different isn’t shit Corey…,” I said, hanging my head low in frustration. “I don’t know what’s wrong him either…, he won’t tell me. But whatever it is…, he needs our love and support alright?”

“Whatever.”

I knew he didn’t mean that in a bad way, he too was just frustrated with his brother…, to be honest I was starting to lose patience. I wasn’t angry…, I just wanted him to open up to me. I’m supposed to be the parent…, after all, if I knew what was wrong, maybe I could help.

“Well he better not spoil the whole summer with his shit attitude.”

It had become pretty obvious a few years ago that the boys were going to grow up differently.

And different they were. Physically the boys were about the same…, hardly surprising given the fact they were identical. To a trained eye, however, there were some distinct differences. The boys stood, about four foot eleven inches in height, seventy pounds, sort of a dirty blond like me…, but unlike me, they had the most intense green eyes. All this was relative though, as Corey being a little more muscular…, while Dale, appeared slightly taller, probably due to weighing less. The both had the same kind of award winning smiles, but they curved to opposite directions…, Corey left, Dale right.

Personality wise, they were poles apart. Corey was the outgoing one, brimming over with confidence. He was good at sports, thoroughly enjoying most physical pursuits. He excelled at almost any sport he tried, and in the last year had become the star on the swim and baseball teams. He also had a serious amount of charm, consequently he was very good with girls, and a natural leader among friends. Honest loyal and forthright. Academically he had a decent record, but here he was certainly outshone by his brother.

Dale on the other hand, was rather more insular, he was not weak by any standards, just…, sensitive. Dale was the brain of the pair, a straight “A” student, that could pull apart, and put back together again, anything you put in front of him. And he was incredibly well read…, something I wish Corey would be more like. Although decent at sports, he was only really good at baseball. To be honest, thinking back on it now…, it had been a while since I had heard him talk about girls, let alone seen him with one. At the time, I had put it down to teenage hormones, figuring I would broach the subject when the time came.

For some reason, which was yet to be explained to me…, the two boys had started to drift apart over the last year. Don’t get me wrong, they still loved each other dearly and talked often…, even though nothing of real substance. They still did things together quite regularly…, but, the relationship they shared just wasn’t the same. Even the circles they ran in, had drifted apart as well, over the last year. It seemed as though they had three distinct sets of friends, Dale’s, Corey’s, and the ones they shared…, which was growing less and less by the day. Things really came to a head between them about eight months ago. In a fit of independence, Dale decided to move into the third bedroom. Both of the boys had taken that hard, but Dale seemed to be hurting the most over it. He was incredibly hard to read at times, just like his mother. This was the first time to my knowledge that they had ever lived apart. I was still in the dark as to why, but left it alone.

“Do you want to take the boat out tonight? We can go down to the cove for an overnight.” I said to Corey as I licked the last of his sandwich off my fingers.

“Shit yeah! Sounds good to me Uncle Cam.”

“Hey! Watch your language!”

I wasn’t really serious…, I realized a long time ago, it was futile to curb the language of an adolescent…, but I had to try.

“Alright then, well…, clean this mess up, then we’ll go down to the store…, I swear you two are going to send me broke with the amount you eat!”

“Not likely…, but, I have a quarter here somewhere if you need it Uncle Cam…”

There was that grin again. I have to admit, I really did like it…, even when it was used against me. It was private joke between the boys and I. I used to offer them a quarter when they thought I was being unfair for whatever reason…, you know, to call someone who cares. In the last couple of years they had started throwing it back in my face…, I guess karma really is a bitch huh?

“Smart ass…, when you’ve done cleaning, why don’t you head over to Reggie’s and see if she wants to join us for the weekend? … Then go down to the boat and turn the old girl over. I am going to go see what’s wrong with your brother.”

“Aye aye Captain…, good luck with that.” He said with a sad giggle, to which I replied with a soft smack on his ass, heading towards the stairs. I was still dressed in full tropical white uniform…, I did think about changing, but in the end decided Dale’s need was greater.

Off the top of my head…, I really had no idea what the hell was going on…, but I decided that I had sat on the sidelines long enough, both my boys were hurting, it was time to get in the game. I strode purposely up the stairs, every step bringing me closer to his door. My mind was racing a mile a minute trying to think what the problem might be. Though Corey had stayed pretty much the same…, Dale, I realized, had changed. He had become a lot darker, brooding, depressed…, and he was crying a lot more lately. I had noticed, but I figured he would come to me when he was ready…, since he hadn’t I didn’t think it was that much of an issue…, what was that term the boys had used…, oh yes “Emo”…, yeah, that’s it.

Dale had quit the baseball team, just before he had made his move. That was also when he had started to dress and act differently. Once again I had put it down to hormones…, I knew that the two couldn’t stay the little boys I knew forever…, I just wanted them for a few more years, you know? Now that I thought about it more, I realised I had seen something…, in fact, it had been there all the time. The subtle glances, the sideways looks, the puffy eyes. I could even remember a few times that he had come home crying. Usually he would just avoid us, obviously hoping that we hadn’t seen him. I had only noticed a few times…, he was very adept at hiding it. When I confronted him those times…, all he did was push me away.

When he came home last week with a bloodied nose, I had tried to talk to him again, and again he pushed me away. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew he needed time to think…, so I cleaned him up, and left him in his room. Still so very worried, I just couldn’t get the image of my broken boy out of my head. So later that night I took a sandwich and a glass of milk, up to his room. I knocked but there was no answer. I did something I hadn’t done since they were small…, I looked in on him. He was in bed with the lights out, but he hadn’t been asleep long, his breathing was still laboured from obvious sobbing. I crept in and put the food tray on his desk. As I turned to leave, I felt a small hand take hold of my wrist. Looking down at him, my suspicions were confirmed…, he had indeed been crying…, his normally beautiful green eyes, all bloodshot and puffy.

“Don’t go…, please?”

What could I do…, my heart broke so much, I couldn’t leave him. His plea had been so desperate…, so pitiful. I said nothing, I just climbed over and lay behind him, holding him close, as a new round of tears started to flow. All I could do was wait it out. I can never let go when the boys are like this…, even now. Though I had to admit, neither of them had been this bad since their parents died. I can remember thinking that, that might have been it, at the time. But still he hadn’t been overly forthcoming. When the sobs and shakes died down I thought he had drifted off to sleep…

“Thanks Uncle Cam…”

“Anytime “Short Stack”.., you know that…, you want to talk about it?”

“No…, I don’t think I can…, not yet anyway..”

“Well you know where I am…, when you need me…, but don’t take too long, if you’re being bullied I need to know about it.”

“It’s not that…, I just…, can’t tell you yet.”

What couldn’t he tell me? I mean, there was really only a few things that could be, even remotely, that bad. This sudden realisation, brought into stark relief just how much I had let things slide into routine. My job at the school was to teach new and young officers to rely on what they could see, and to determine the rest from what they couldn’t, “You can tell a lot about a person/target, from how they dress, how they walk, the kind of equipment they use…, and how well it is maintained, stance and motion, these are the keys to survival…” I could hear myself saying. I couldn’t help but think; what the hell else have I missed all these years?

I stood on the landing for a moment and tried to play back everything I could think of from the last few years. What is it that has made Dale so moody in the first place? He wasn’t hurt…, well, not in the beginning, not visibly anyway. He was just sad…, I just couldn’t figure it out. Had he fallen in with the wrong crowd? Was it drugs? Or something more sinister…, what had he gotten himself into? I had always respected the guys’ space…, maybe I should have been more in their face these last few years. I thought through it all, and still came up short…., hmm…, some worldly operator I was…., couldn’t even figure out a small boy. Without realizing it, I had started moving again, stopping outside his door. Collecting myself, I knocked, using that old ploy, that had always gotten me in the room in the past…

“Hey Dale, we’re going to go out on the boat for the weekend if you’re keen? …  I thought I would do a load of laundry first, though…, anything you want to put out?”

“You can come in Uncle Cam…” I heard through the door as the volume came down several notches. I had to stop underestimating the boys it seems, he’d seen through my ploy with relative ease.

Could I do this? … To be honest, at the time, I really wasn’t sure. I even strongly considered chickening out…, or getting Reggie to do it for me. But in the end I just knew it had to be me. This was my real job…, the most rewarding battle I have ever been in.

I cracked the door open…

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Written by bigct/Octavius

October 26, 2009 at 10:37

3 Responses

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  1. the sandwich delivery scene is kinda nice CT. i liked it and got a good mental picture.

    ~cody!

    cody

    November 7, 2009 at 23:42

  2. I have just started to read this story and have finished chapter two. I am very impressed and it looks like we have a work of art created by a very gifted author. I am eagerly looking forward to the rest of it

    Tom

    January 21, 2010 at 22:44

  3. Fri. 12:43 AM. 6/10/10

    Hum…, very interesting, or something more sinister in deed.

    I must read on, but right now I must get some sleep.

    caring…. sunny

    sunny

    June 11, 2010 at 16:47


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