The Sailor's Stories

1038 Chapter thirty eight – The Sailor’s Awakening.

with 10 comments

For the first night in weeks, I did in fact sleep peacefully. I’d like to say that it was a shock to the system, but I think I was too tired to care really. My alarm didn’t even wake me that morning, as it had for the past week or two. Unlike those days past, I awoke in those crisp clean sheets, that I’d changed on Friday morning before work, with an almost energized feeling. Reaching over to circumvent the alarm, I saw that it was just after six. If I had left it, I would have had just under thirty minutes before the shrill wail of it, would have pulled me heretofore kicking and screaming from my stupor. Stretching wide and almost pushing back the wall, I looked over to the window, and noticed it was still pretty dark outside. Thinking about it, I’m sure that will change as the winter months set in, but right now I didn’t care, as thoughts of getting up were rapidly taking over my conscious mind.

Even with that exceptionally good feeling that you get after a nights sleep like that, it was with great reluctance that I finally made my move, as I could instantly feel how cold the floor boards were going to be. Had to be done though and there was no point trying to put it off, so I pulled the covers back and slid my legs over the side, so that my feet softly hit the that frozen floor. The cold was bad, but was doing little to affect my mood, so still feeling good about the morning, even though I was a little groggy from the best sleep that I had had in weeks, and a little stiff from the beach yesterday, I decided to go for a run to shake the cobwebs loose. This was indeed, a little unusual for me, as I didn’t often do that on a Sunday morning.

Now standing, I became all too aware of another little problem…, ok…, not so little, but it was going to curtail my plans a bit. With that in mind, I padded softly across to my bathroom…, Jesus Christ this floor is freezing! To be honest, at that point I couldn’t tell you what would’ve been worse, hot coals or that icy floor…., Maybe I should get that carpet like in the boy’s rooms, I thought, just like I had done every winter for years. Having flushed, I washed my hands then ran a warmed washcloth over my face to get the sleep out of eyes, and went back into my room to put some clothes on. I decided that I’d go for some sweats and a hoodie today, seeing as it was so cold. Reaching into my draw, I pulled on a pair of briefs, and then finished dressing, before heading downstairs carrying my phone and running shoes. Trying to untangle headphone leads, while holding onto three things at once is not the easiest thing in the world to do, might I add…, especially when you are trying to be quiet.

Having achieved the seemingly impossible about halfway down the stairs, I was still zipping up my hoodie, over one my very old navy tees, by the time I reached the bottom. While heading to the door in the family room, I realized I wasn’t alone. He had his eyes closed, but I could tell he was awake, as he was bopping away quietly to what ever he was listening to on his ipod. I didn’t want to scare him, so I reached over to the wall and flipped the light on, hoping that that would make him aware that there was someone there. When I flipped the switch, his eyes shot open, and he bolted upright from his laid down position on the couch, that reaction alone was very telling…

“Sorry kiddo…, I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Oh geez…, sorry…, ah…, it’s ok sir…, I just hadn’t seen you come in is all.”

“It’s Cam JJ…, remember? … Why you up so early anyway?”

“Sorry…, ah…, Cam…, um…, just used to it I guess…, we have to be up at 0530 at school.”

His expression had changed so dramatically when he had said that. I still had no idea what was really bothering him about school, but there was a certain level of darkness that clouded his usually cute face whenever it was mentioned. Even though I didn’t really know the kid that well, I was a parent…, sort of, and that kind of thing was really sad to see. It’s never fun to watch someone that should be so happy, in so much pain…, and I really didn’t know if I should get into it with him. I mean, if he wanted to talk about it, he would have done so with his own dad. Did I really have the right to try and press him…, or would he like to talk to someone that wasn’t close? The mind boggles to tell the truth.

“It’s ok kiddo honestly…, but why didn’t you stay in bed…, the others won’t be up for hours.”

“Um…, just bored I guess…, I did for a little while…”

“Well…, you can stay here if you want…, you’re more than welcome…, but I’m going for a run…, I’ll make breakfast when I get back.”

He sat up with hope in his eyes when I said that, but as I had made no mention of anything else, or taking him with me, he slowly sunk back down on the sofa.

“Oh…, um…, ok…” He said, with an air of forlorn resignation.

Looking at that poor boy, I just couldn’t quite figure him out. What was that shift that I had seen, did he want something from me…, or did he just not want to be alone. To tell the truth, I think I could see some very real demons inside him…, and I had a good sense what those demons might be. I don’t think for a second that he was dangerous, to himself or others…, but there was definitely something there, something that was just a little bit…, off. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted company this morning, but I did make a decision…

“You wanna come with?”

A huge smile broke out on his face, as he jumped up to put his shoes on. They were skate shoes, so they weren’t the best for running, but they should be comfortable enough. I figured I wouldn’t push him too hard on the run as I had no idea on his level of fitness. I figured that it would have to be at least reasonable, given that he would have had to do PT at the academy, but still, he was pretty young. Nothing more was said, as I held the door open for him and we stepped out in to the frigid morning air. We started off slow, but I was soon impressed with his fitness level, and every now and again took it up a notch. Deciding to take a different route this morning, we headed off around the bay. I say different, but in fact it was really just the reverse of the run I usually take, because if we went the way I usually went, it would take us quickly past the high school…, I didn’t think he would be ready for that quite yet.

We pushed on for well over an hour, and soon found ourselves running through the park just as the sun was coming up over the hill. Once again I stopped and marveled at that sight…, I hadn’t been here for a while and didn’t realize until that very moment, just how much I had missed it. I motioned for JJ to follow me over to the bench, and then sat there just watching the sun. No one was around to spoil this peaceful moment, and JJ and I just sat there silently taking in the scene. After a while though, I figured this was as good a time as any, so I looked over at the young man beside me. He was a little red from the run still, but the look on his face was a little better at least…

“Look kiddo…, there’s absolutely no pressure here…, but a blind man can see there’s something bothering you…, do…, ah…, do you wanna talk about it?”

The poor kid had tensed up when I started, but he soon calmed down a little. Though he said nothing at first, he just sat there for a while, obviously mulling over my offer. Or at least that’s what I thought, unfortunately for me, just like his dad, he was really hard to read. To be honest I was beginning to lose all hope that he would eventually open up, and aside from anything else, I was beginning to get a cramp from the cold and stopping the run short. But when I went to stand to shake it out, I looked at him again and my heart broke as I saw a single tear make it’s way down his soft cheek. It’s true what they say…, once a parent, always a parent. I just couldn’t help myself, as I sank back down beside him, and wrapped him in my strong arms. All he could do right then was to press his head against my chest and sob.

The sun was well and truly in the sky when he came back to himself, so I must have held him for quite some time. It’s not that I cared, or was even counting the time, the boy needed someone to hold him, and as I was the only one there…, well I was it. It’s true…, it didn’t really bother me, as it wasn’t the first time, and it definitely won’t be the last, but JJ wasn’t my kid, and I was starting to get a little uncomfortable…

“I hate it there Cam…,” He finally said, muffled by the folds of my hoodie. “I thought I’d love it…, I thought going would make daddy proud of me…, but I just hate it so much…”

“You wanna tell me why?”

“I guess…, I gotta tell someone…, but…”

“You don’t know how?”

“Yeah…”

“It’s ok Kiddo.” I said, as I gently rubbed my hands up and down his back. “You don’t have to tell me anything…”

If I was to be brutally honest…, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to know. But as he became calmer his voice was growing stronger, as if a certain amount of determination was setting in. Whether I wanted it or not, I think I was going to get that explanation, so I just patiently waited him out. Keeping up the steady rhythm of my hands, I just sat there holding and trying to comfort that frail boy. After a while he started to pull back a little, and I let him go. He sat up again, and started to wipe the tears from his face with the back of his hand. At least he’s not messing up a perfectly good hoodie,  I thought to myself, with a silent chuckle, as I watched that determination spread across his face.

“I’m sorry Cam…”

“Jesus Kiddo…, what are you sorry for…”

“For being such a pussy…” He said, with a slight sniffle.

“JJ look at me…,” I said, waiting for his eyes to meet mine. “I don’t think you’re a pussy. Trust me on that…, I’d know.”

“They do…”

There it was, I think…, the crux of the matter. But god I really hoped I was wrong, if he was being bullied then between his dad and I, I’m pretty sure we could handle that…, but if it was something else…

“Who’s ‘They’?”

“The upper classmen…, that’s what they call me ‘PussyBoy’.”

“What…, why?”

“Coz, sometimes I cry myself to sleep…, honestly Cam when I first got there I was so scared…, I’d never been away from home before…”

He stopped for a moment, and breathed deeply, as if he was trying to rebuild some strength in order to continue. To be fair, I didn’t think that it was that bad, most kids would feel and act the very same way on their first time away from home. Even me, and I’m not ashamed to admit, that the first few nights at Annapolis I did cry. Of course, I obviously had a better room mate. With another deep breath he soldiered on…

“That’s not the worst of it though…, for real, those first few nights were pretty bad…, but then a few of the older boys started to really pick on me…, I could…, I could handle it for a while, but then they started to…, to make me do things…, and when I didn’t say anything…, they just got worse….”

“It’s all right kiddo…, there’s nothing wrong with crying…, even I do it sometimes…” I said, as I pulled him back into the hug I knew he needed. “They can’t hurt you here…, I won’t let them.”

“They didn’t hurt me…” He said, looking up into my eyes. “Not really…, at first yeah…, and sure it was real embarrassing…, the things they made me do…, but after a while…, and I wasn’t alone either so that kinda helped a little…, two of the others in my year had to do it too.”

“Don’t get me wrong kiddo…, I’m not judging you here…, but did you like what they did to you…, is that why you’re so conflicted?”

I had a horrified and unshakable thought, that I’d gone to far there with that one, especially given the look of surprise and the sudden fear of recognition on his face. But like I’ve said many times before, I’m no headshrinker…, if Karen was here, she’d probably slap me silly for what I was doing and how I was doing it, but right now, I had to use the tools I had at my disposal. And all I had was hard cutting honesty. Even though, he was looking a little upset at what I’d said, he was still holding onto me and making no move to go anywhere else, so I think that alone was proof that I wasn’t damaging the kid too much.

“Sorry JJ.., I shouldn’t have asked that…”

“Nah Cam…, it’s alright…, um…, yeah…, I did sometimes…, there was this one guy that was different…, he was real nice to me, not like the others…, he always made me feel special when we were alone….”

“Being nice isn’t good enough though kiddo…, if they were forcing you…, it’s still wrong…, is that why you never said anything to the teachers…, or your dad?”

“I guess…, I mean I was so scared at first…, then…, I dunno…, it just seemed like it was too late…, and I couldn’t tell daddy…, coz well…, you know… you won’t tell him will you?” He said, with a tremor of fear to his voice.

“Yeah I think I do…, or at least I think I know what you think…, but no…, I won’t tell him…, though I still really think you should.”

“I dunno Cam…, I mean I heard what you said yesterday…, and yeah he didn’t seem to care about your boys…, but I’m his only son…, you know…, that’s a big difference.”

“He loves you kiddo…, I’m sure he just wants you to be happy…, look JJ you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do…, no one can make you…” I really hoped he picked up on the double meaning of that one. “But if you don’t want to go back…, you’re gonna have to give him something.”

“I guess…, um…, can we go now…, I’m getting really cold.”

“ Sure kiddo…, gotta get breakfast in anyway…, before Corey’s stomach collapses from lack of use.” He laughed at that, and so did I, It was like a soft gentle music. “Oh…, by the way…, he doesn’t really dress for breakfast…, so consider yourself warned.”

He looked at me in an odd fashion, as if he didn’t know quite how to take that, but I left him with nothing further and simply ran off. I checked a little later to see if he was following, and sure enough he soon caught up. Taking a few sweeping turns, we headed through the center of town, that was just starting to wake up. The sun was now beating down on us, but it was still quite cold out, made blatantly obvious by the clouds of smoke coughing out of the cars as they passed by.

I’d always really enjoyed that time of morning, and lately had been taking a few dollars with me when I ran, to stop at the diner, and pick up a cup of hot coffee and toasted cheese bagel. The people are different this early as well…, it’s not that they are different people, they just act differently. Shop owners opening up their store fronts, not yet bogged down by the depression of an angry customer. Delivery boys not yet tired from a day of work…, they all just seemed happier in the morning.

Before long, we made it home, and not a second too soon I noticed. As soon as we stepped through the door, it was all too obvious that someone was awake, as we could hear some very telling noises from upstairs. I was a little embarrassed to say the least, but JJ seemed all too curious when I looked his way…

“Holy shit! … Are they…?”

“Yeah…, probably…”

“Kewl…, and you’re ok with that?”

“Don’t have much of a choice really…, I would prefer they didn’t…, but then I’d rather have them safe…., and as they would just do it anyway…, at least this way I know where they are.”

It was blatantly obvious he had never met a man, or at least a parent, quite like me as he was all curious smiles standing there as he watched me. I said nothing further, just flicked my head towards the kitchen. We spent the next half hour or so prepping breakfast of pancakes, sausage, bacon and eggs. This was our thing in this household, Sunday was big breakfast day. Usually the only day of the week that we were all together for any length of time, and I was determined to share that with JJ. He’d had a pretty rough morning, but unless I missed my guess, he was going to get through it…, whether he told his dad and stayed, or went back to school, was however, at this point, anyone’s guess.

True to form, just as the first pancakes were ready and on the table, Corey padded into the kitchen in nothing but boxers. Poor JJ got quite a show, for his first morning with us…, I was again a little embarrassed, to be fair…, but then, looking at him, I think he was rather enjoying himself. He still hadn’t admitted anything to anyone, except maybe himself, but I think at least now he was a little more comfortable. We were soon joined by the other two, and JJ couldn’t keep the grin off his face. I thought that was going to cause some tension, but the boys took it all in stride…, for Carl, at least for the moment, he had staked his claim on his man…, and Dale just sat there a little red, but still soaking up the attention.

There was good conversation and smiles all round the table that morning, it was a wonderful sight after the events of last week…, it was good to finally put that all behind us. In fact, to be honest, I got the feeling that JJ was going to become a somewhat regular fixture. After breakfast the boys went upstairs to shower and get dressed, and JJ and I spent a little more time together cleaning up. He really was a good boy when it all came down to it…, that much was obvious, and though there were still a lot of things going on in that head of his, I think at least now he was a little happier. It’s quite a liberating feeling, if you are that way inclined, to know that gay was just as normal as anything else.

Knowing that Caleb was busy, and that JJ probably didn’t want to hang with the girls for the rest of the day, I decided to take the boys out to the mall for a movie and a late lunch. I can’t even remember what we saw, I think it was some kind of slasher flick, that the kids wanted to see. Still it was a good day and all the boys drew closer together, so much so that at the end, as I was dropping JJ home, there was a few sad faces. But numbers and emails were exchanged and promises made…, as I drove off, I kinda hoped we would see him again.

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Written by bigct/Octavius

April 2, 2010 at 14:44

10 Responses

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  1. Nice the way you worked JJ in. Where was Cam when I was that age? Probably somewhere but I was too afraid to look….

    Dawngreeter

    April 3, 2010 at 00:53

  2. I’m with you, Dawngreeter! Where was MY “Cam”? When I was that age, I was surrounded by redneck loggers and their hick, narrow-minded offspring!

    Rick

    April 3, 2010 at 01:52

  3. Sorry Octavius I’m gunna be a slacker and just leave one comment – really enjoyed both chapters – like Dawngreeter I wasn’t sure how you would fit JJ into the story, but you did it so smoothly almost like it is his destiny. He might well make as big an impact as his name sake has done.
    I’m trying to work out if you had a very busy day writting on Good Friday or you have just been saving it as a nice Easter present for your readers. Which ever way thanks for a loverly easter read. Happy Easter buddy hope you get a chance to wind down for a few days.
    Regards Stef

    Stef

    April 3, 2010 at 12:04

  4. I sent you a e-mail about how much I like what you doing with JJ and about the Picture you picked for me in the pictures place. I love the story please keep writing it. Hugs you a lot, JJ

    JJ

    April 4, 2010 at 18:46

  5. Two excellant chapters with a snapshot of the past and a glimpse into the future. Still cant’t believe how much this story is similar to my past.

    Tom

    April 5, 2010 at 02:38

  6. Hey ct or octavius. I just caught up with ur story. Kinda sad that I’ll have to wait now. But anyway I loved it and I think it could be a movie or tv series. I’m 15 so it sorta hits home. For Tristan I wrote a little side story when I caught up in his saga. I can do one for you too but I’m about to go to bed right now. I’m actually thinking of doing something different for you and suggesting a character for you. Who knows? Thanks for the ride 🙂

    Spiderweb

    April 6, 2010 at 02:30

    • Might be interesting to see what you come up with…

      CT/Octavius.

      bigct

      April 6, 2010 at 12:04

  7. CT, you must continue with this, I have now caught up, and need more, fantastic story line, you are quite the writer, such incredible insight into the characters.

    Love, Danny in Oz.

    Danny in Oz

    April 10, 2010 at 02:54

  8. Hi,

    After a couple weeks of sporatic reading I finally got here to the end of 38.

    Great story — I’m really lovin’ it and looking forward to more.

    Oral

    Oral

    April 16, 2010 at 17:20


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