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  1. Kindar

    Chapter 35

    The Missing Son 35 Patrick growled as he nearly wrenched the shutter off its hinges, and even worse, he almost threw it to the ground. He forced himself to put it down gently. It had cost Mister Michaud three hundred dollar, he couldn't just toss it about because he couldn't focus. He had to admit he couldn't do this, not right now. He kept thinking back to Adam's scared expression and Damian's smirk. He'd hoped that a couple of days distance would have allowed him to put that behind him as much as he could, but he was still furious that someone would hurt his brother. He placed the shutter back in the box with its twin, closed it and took that to the shed. Then he knocked on the house's back door. The late forty badger opened it. "Yes Patrique?" "Is it okay if I put up the shutters tomorrow? I have some family issues on my mind and I can't concentrate." "Of course, Of course. Dat is perfectly fine," he replied in his slight French accent. "How much should I pay you now?" "Nothing. You can pay me tomorrow, once I've finished the work." "Are you certain?" "Yeah. I'll be back about the same time." "Very well. I will see you tomorrow." The badger closed the door. Patrick took his phone out. He needed to resolve this and the only he could was to have a serious talk with Damian, with his uncle. He accessed the directory and did a search for Damian Orr, tiger, to get his address, his name didn't come up. Nothing came up at all. He remembered the difficulty Rich had had in finding his father's address, and Damian had said something to the effect he shouldn't have been able to find anything. If he wasn't in the directory, he could find him on the web, he had before. He switched to a general search, and like the other time there was a lot of results, all linked to the business world. He called up a result that had a picture, and that stony expression with those blue gray eyes looked back at him. The article talked about him and his corporation, Diamond Enterprise. Right, Patrick remembered the name from the card. The company was the fourth largest multinational corporation in the world, and the largest privately owned one. The article called Damian Orr one of the most influential person of the twenty-first century. Alright, so he couldn't find his home address, but his company had to have a listing. A quick search got him that. And Damian had to be there at some time. it wasn't even noon yet. Once he was downtown lunch time would be over. He could find him there and have that talk. * * * * * okay, Patrick thought, this might be a little more difficult than he'd expected. He looked at the tall glass building. He wasn't sure why he'd expected something less imposing, after all it was a multinational corporation. Walking by the two entrances showed him they had guards in the lobby. They wouldn't let someone like him in that way. He was going to need a different way in. * * * * * The phone on his desk ringed, but it wasn't its usual sound. it was the one that said the call was on his private line. Damian looked at the incoming number then answered. "Hello August." "Mister Orr," the person on the other end said. "We might have a problem." Damian leaned back in his chair. "Go on." "The guy you're having us follow, he's at your door step." "He's welcome to come in, my company has an open door policy." "Yeah, well, from the report my guys just sent me, he's not looking to come in the front door. He walked around the building a few times and now he's at the mouth of an alley across the street from one of the parking entrances." "Which one?" There was a moment of silence. "The one on the south west side." "Alright. Tell your people not to follow him inside the building." "Sir, is that wise? If he found out you're having him watched he might be looking for retribution." "Don't be ridiculous, August. Even if he knew about you, why would he seek retribution for being protected?" The horse on the other end didn't say anything. "Look, I appreciate the concern, but I have my own security people, they can handle him if he causes problems." "Alright sir." Damian disconnected the call and stood. He knew why his nephew was here, although he didn't understand why he didn't walk in through the entrance like everyone else. He left his office and stopped by Alice's desk. "I need to look into something, I should be back before my three O'clock." "Yes, Mister Orr. Should I contact you if something comes up?" "Only if it's an emergency." "Yes, Mister Orr." Damian took the stairs down four floors and went to the security office. The large room was well lit, with a wall of screen and six security officers manning them. Damian stood next to the koala in the second left chair. He glanced at the control board and caught the reflection of his name tag. Damian had read every employee's file, but he couldn't remember every individual name. "Willis, please bring up the camera looking out from the south west parking entrance." The koala looked up in surprise, then did as he was told. The closest screen to them switched and they looked out on the street. The alley was in darkness and he couldn't see his nephew hiding there. "Call the guard at the booth, on his personal phone." The koala only had a moment of hesitation before bringing up the guards' schedule, then he inputted the number. Damian asked for the handset once that was done. "Phillip, this is Damian Orr." "Sure, Okay." Damian didn't say anything. He expected not to be recognized immediately, the bobcat had no reason to expect a call from him, and while Damian didn't demand attention and salutes, he wanted to be certain the guard knew who he was talking to before giving him his orders. "oh shit," the bobcat said and there was the sound of a chair being shoved away. "Sir, Mister Orr, sir, I'm sorry. What can I do for you." "I want you to go to the bathroom, and stay there until you are told to return to your post." "Err, sir?" Damian had hoped that he could avoid this uncertainty once the guard realized who he was talking with. "Please don't asked me to repeat myself Philip." "Sir, that's going to leave this entrance unguarded." Damian approved of this reaction. People who obeyed blindly were easier to manipulate. Damian handed the handset to the koala. "Phil, it's Will. it's okay, we have the entrance on the screen. Do what the boss says." * * * * * Patrick had been standing in the shadows for ten minutes trying to figure out how to get in unnoticed. He wanted to catch Damian unprepared. He'd decided he was going to wait for a large enough vehicle, something like a delivery truck, then quickly run across the road and use that to hide him from the guard. He was waiting for that when the guard left the booth and walked deeper in the building. Where was he doing? How long would he be gone? he couldn't waste this opportunity. he made sure the road was clear and ran across it. He stopped by the booth to make sure the guard wouldn't see him from where ever he was, and dashed for the closest column. He hid behind the column closest to the stairwell door, once the guard was back in his booth he'd go in and... then what? He didn't know where Damian's office was, and he couldn't wander the halls, he'd be noticed. He didn't look like anyone here. he didn't even know if Damian was here today. It would be a waste if he was caught and Damian wasn't even here. How could he find out? There had to be a directory screen somewhere, he could use that and call his office. They might not tell him. Patrick leaned his head back on the concrete column and looked around at the cars around him. Wait, cars. He knew which car Damian drove. It was distinctive enough he'd be able to tell if it was here. * * * * * Damian watched his nephew hurry between the cars looking them over. "What is he doing? checking if there's anything worth stealing in them?" The Koala asked. The others glanced their way and then went back to their screens That wasn't what his nephew was doing. he wasn't looking in the cars, he was giving them a quick look over. He wasn't seeing if one was worth stealing, Patrick didn't know how to drive, and he was too honest to steal cars. The only thing he could be doing was trying to find a specific car, and in this garage, there was only one car he could be looking for. Patrick was fortunate that the car he was looking for was indeed parked here, even though it wasn't Damian's regular car. Damian watched as Patrick moved through the garage, heading away from the booth and toward the ramp going down to the next level. "Call Philip." The koala entered the number and handed him the handset. "Philip, this is Damian." "Yes sir." "You can return to the booth. On your way there, you might catch a glimpse of a young tiger among the cars. You will ignore him." "Err, yes sir." Damian handed the handset back and followed his nephew from one screen to the next. He was less furtive on the second level once he noticed there were no guards, but he had to hide a few times when people walked to their cars, or parked and entered the building. At no time did his nephew try to avoid the camera, or even looked around to see where they were. Living in his low-class neighborhood, reading fantasy novels, not watching entertainment shows, and hardly having any presence online his nephew was sorely unprepared for the modern world. Damian would have to remedy that at some point. Finally, his nephew reached the third parking level. The car he was looking for was in GK-36. If he moved at the same speed he had on the second level, even considering the odds of interruptions were lower, the cars on that level were mostly long-term parking, it would take him ten minutes to get close enough to notice it. "Shut down all the cameras on the third sub level." "Sir?" Damian didn't say anything. He didn't even look at the koala. If he had to repeat himself to get this done he needed to replace him. One by one the screens showing the third sub level went dark. "Leave them down until I tell you to bring them back up." "Yes sir." Damian hurried to the stairs on the other side of the building. those would let him see the car from the door. He'd be able to plan his arrival that way. * * * * * Patrick had no trouble identifying the car at a distance, it was silver, and stood out among darker color cars. Closer he confirmed it didn't have a model name. He looked around and located the elevator. He needed a hiding place that would let him keep an eye on it while not being seen. He found it between two large cars further back. He sat down, took out his phone and settled in to read, keeping an ear for the ding of the elevator doors opening. Twenty pages later it wasn't the ding that pulled him out, but the click clack of shoes on the concrete. Patrick checked the time, not even two. Someone was leaving early. He peeked up and quickly lowered himself. It was Damian. Fear gripped him for a moment. He had no business doing this, he was just a school drop out from the bad side of the city, but then he remembered Adam's face as he ran through the dining room. he put his phone away and gritted his teeth. He stood. "Damian," he growled. Damian stopped, looked around for a moment, searching for him, then saw him. "Patrick? What are you doing here?" The surprise in his tone was clear and Patrick smiled. "You and I need to have a talk." He stepped out from behind the car and walked to his uncle. Damian crossed his arms over his chest. "Really? about what?" "You know damn well about what." Patrick's fists were clenched at his sides. Damian shook his head. "No. I'm afraid I don't." "Adam." he growled again. Damian canted his head to the side. "Adam? What about him?" "What did you do to him?" his growl was deepening. "I didn't do anything to him." "Liar. someone doesn't have the fear Adam had on his face unless someone hurt him really bad." Damian leveled his gaze him Patrick. "Patrick. Stand down before you do something you will regret." Patrick screamed. Not words, just anger. He didn't realize his fist was flying at Damian until it stopped so suddenly his arm hurt. The shock killed his anger. Damian was holding Patrick's wrist. "Do not ever attack me again, Patrick." Patrick tried to pull, but he couldn't. Damian's arm didn't even move. "You are family, and I'm not allowed to hurt you, but I would make you regret it." Patrick pulled left and right and Damian's arms didn't move. he pulled back as hard as he could, just as Damian opened his hand and Patrick fell back on his ass. He looked up, pissed, as Damian took a step toward him then crouched down. They studied each other. "What happened to the wise young man who was afraid of me?" "He found out you're a fucking bully to gets off on hurting kids." Patrick spat. Damian's thoughtful expression didn't change. "I don't." "Right," Patrick snorted. "Then what happened to Adam?" "It isn't my place to say." "And Aaron? I've seen the hate he has for you. what did you do to him?" "It isn't my place to speak to that either," Damian said, except this time Patrick thought he heard something in his voice, regret? "So, what? you get off on people being afraid of you? Well I'm not. You think your money's scary? you think because you can buy anything and anyone we should be afraid of you? Well, I've got news for you. Some of us don't give a damn how rich you are." Damian didn't say anything, his gaze unwaveringly on him. "Why are you so angry, Patrick." "Why the fuck do you think? You hurt my brothers, your own nephews. You have any idea how sick that is?" "You've barely known them for three months." "What does that have to do with anything? there's my family. They're yours! how could you hurt them like that?" "I didn't. I'm not allowed to hurt them." "What the fuck does that mean?" Damian took a moment to reply. "If I explained it to you, would you understand? Would you even try to understand?" Patrick looked at him, mouth open, why did he sound pained? He started to ask him what was wrong, but his phone buzzing interrupted him. He ignored it, but Damian looked at his jacket's pocket. "How long are you going to let her suffer?" How did he know it was his mother? Patrick had no doubt it was her, she'd been trying to reach him multiple times a day, but how did he know? "Why do you care?" "I have to look after my family. That includes you. You need your mother. You're angry at her, but you won't be able to resolve that if you don't talk with her. The chasm will only get larger and larger, and it will hurt you. If you wait too long, you may not be able to fix things anymore." "Why do you even care?" Damian stood. "I made a promise, Patrick. I believe that you understand how important promises are." Patrick found himself nodding. Damian turned to leave, then stopped. "I know that with the life you've lived you know that things are complicated, but some things are even more complicated than you can imagine. Go home Patrick." He left him alone. Patrick sat there for a while trying to understand what Damian had meant, but in the end, he had to admit defeat, he just wasn't smart enough to figure it out. He stood and took out his phone, looked at yet another entry for a missed call with his mother's number tagged to it. He spent more time thinking, about what Damian had said, about how he felt about that guy, and his mother, what he wanted out of life. then he sent her a message. 'I'll be home for dinner.'
  2. Kindar

    Chapter 34

    The Missing Son 34 Patrick didn't know how long he was going to stay this time, and he had no intention of taking advantage of Richard's generosity. He spent Sunday walking around that neighborhood looking for any type of small jobs he could do. It was slightly higher class than where his mom lived and he made some money mowing lawns, washing windows and started painting one house, with the promise he'd be back every day until it was finished. With Don paying him after work, and the money he made doing odd jobs, Patrick had to get a bank account. It proved simpler than he expected, he did it online, and all they required was his ID number. He picked a local branch, so he could make deposits now, instead of having to wait the two days until his card arrived. When she called him for the first time, he had a moment of concern about his mother, wondering if she'd have enough money without his income. He pushed the though aside, she didn't care about what he wanted, he wasn't going to care about her either. He didn't answer. He spent the week doing odd jobs when Joey didn't need him at the junkyard. That Saturday his family invited him to a picnic, which he accepted. It was a fun day, they played football, five versus five, with a dad on each team. A few times he found himself in a pileup, and his father's comment about why he liked football would surface and he found that he agreed, having guys on top of him did feel nice. At least until he remembered they were his brothers and fathers, then he was just uncomfortable. When they stopped playing Patrick lay down, and within moments his brothers were snuggled up to him, lying next to him, Aaron and Anakin were half draped over him, Arthur next to him. For a moment he wasn't sure how he felt about it, but none of them said or did anything other than lie and look at the sky, so he enjoyed the closeness. "Alright everyone, lunch is served." Patrick raised his head to see his fathers bringing two large boxes the closest table. Everyone was off him and running to them. Patrick went slower, watching them jostle each other playfully. For a moment he wished he could experience that, then joined them, staying on the outskirt. They had dug out plates and patters of sandwiches, a lot of platters. His father looked at him. "I hope you're not going to be disappointed, but these were catered. We didn't feel like spending hours preparing them." "Do you normally prepare the food yourselves?" "No they don't," Alex said. "Yeah, they get us to do it," Adam added. "We made it clear to them if they pulled that on us again," Aaron continued. "We were going to tie them up and leave them at home," Arthur finished. His fathers looked at one another. "You know," one said. "I think they've picked up," the other continued. "This bad habit of finishing each other's sentence." "From you." Patrick looked at everyone. "do you guys do this kind of thing often?" "Not as often," one started. "As you'd think," the other finished. "This is going to get annoying fast," Patrick said. His father chuckled. "Don't worry, we're done." "For now," the other added, and got a light slap upside the head. "Don't contradict me Danny, I'm the oldest." "No you're not, I was born a full minute before you." "Did not." "Did too." They went back and forth. Patrick stared at them then at his brothers who were rolling their eyes. "And we're supposed to be the teens in this family," Arthur commented. Silence fell and Patrick looked at his fathers, who were kissing. He blushed. He wasn't the kind of lecherous kissing he'd seen when he checked the pornos online, but it wasn't chaste either. It was kind of hot he found himself thinking. "There," Danny said, "We've made up." "Like you two need an excuse to kiss like that." Albert said. Patrick was sure he caught a hungry look in his brothers, and he knew it wasn't for food. He knew his brothers had sex together, but no one brought that up around him. And suddenly he knew they also did it with their fathers. He had no idea what to think of that, he was... he was... jealous? He couldn't be, they were his fathers. He pushed that thought to the side. He couldn't deal with that right now. He was here to enjoy time with his family, not freak out. The moment passed and everyone piled up food on plates and sat on the ground. Patrick looked around plate in hand, and his gaze fell on his fathers, seated together, and his brothers in twos and threes. for a moment he hesitated in choosing a place to sit, then went to his fathers. They made a space between them for him to sit. Patrick was extremely conscious of their legs touching, and snippets of his dreams came back to him. His fathers, naked, embracing him. he looked at his family again, and they looked like normal guys, brothers talking and laughing, fathers discussing their programing, and he told himself he'd imagined the sexual hunger he'd seen there. He was projecting his subconscious desires on them, that's what had happened. * * * * * Patrick was trying to read the latest Iluminar novel. Now that he had his own money he hadn't had to wait for it to become available on the lending site, he'd bought it. His phone was on his lap, projecting it at eye level. He'd reread the fifth page for the third time. Jaremis, the illegitimate son of Duren'El'Tig, the hero of the first three novels, had just found him to inform him his mother had died. Duren had just held his son and cried, telling him he wished he'd been there for him as he grew up. The scene kept bringing his fathers back to his mind, and the dreams he'd had. He wished he had someone to talk with about it, try to make sense of it. He couldn't bring it up with Mother Rosetta, as tolerant as she was, he didn't think she'd approve of this. Joey would probably be okay, but Patrick wasn't comfortable talking about his fathers to him, he didn't know why, but it felt wrong. Natalia might understand, he had no idea how witches felt about incest. He closed the book and did a search for father/son incest, and quickly decided the net wasn't the place to look. the top three links were sites for guys looking for sex, the next five were popular porn videos of fathers having sex with their sons, and after that more of the same, with written stories thrown in. It was clear a lot of guys got off on that, but that didn't help him figure out how he should feel about it. He looked at the tent in his pants. Other than turned on. He put his phone away. He was going to sleep on it. He didn't have an answer by morning, or by the end of the week, or even two weeks later when he showed up unannounced to his father's house. He should have called, he thought, after pressing the buzzer. There was no telling what he was interrupting. The door opened and Aiden stared at him. He was wearing sweatpants, his fur was ruffled and he smelled. Yeah, no telling what he was interrupting. "Pat, hi. We... We weren't expecting you to come over." "I know. I'm sorry. I just wanted to see you guys." Aiden looked over his shoulder. "It might take a bit for everyone to... err... finish what they're doing." He moved out of the way to let Patrick in. "Don't rush them. I should have called. I'll wait in the living room, unless that's where it's happening." He remembered his first time here, the mess in the living room. Now he knew what had been going on there. "We're in Albert's room." Aiden's ears turned read. "Sorry, I didn't mean to say that." Patrick chuckled. "It's okay, I sort of figured that's what you guys would be up to." "You're okay with it?" "I'm okay with you guys doing it. I'm not joining in." Aiden nodded. "Do you want me to setup the game system?" "Nah, I have a book." Aiden hesitated when they reached the living room. Patrick shooed him away. "You go finish it. Don't rush it on my account." He watched his brother step away and turn the corner to go up the stairs. Aiden was smaller and not as wide shouldered, but he had good muscles on him. For a moment Patrick considered following up the stairs. He freely admitted to wondering what it would be like to be with his brothers, but he wasn't comfortable with the idea. He stretched on the couch, and read. Ten minute later his had a message form his father. the ID was D/D. He hadn't been joking when he said they had the same number. 'Just learned you were visiting, we're going to be home in in time for lunch, in a meeting. Are you staying for dinner?' 'Yes,' he replied. 'I have no plans tonight.' 'Staying the night?' Patrick thought about it. Thought for longer than he expected. It would be nice to sleep under the same roof as his family, in rooms near him, probably wishing they could be with him. 'No, I'm not quite comfortable with the idea yet.' He knew they wouldn't pressure him, but that wasn't what he was afraid of. 'okay. the kids should have lunch ready when we arrive. love you.' Patrick smiled at the words floating before him. 'love you two.' He went back to his reading, but caught the scent of wet fur. He looked behind him, Arthur was standing there, wearing jeans and a worn t-shirt with 'I heart Geeks' on it. "You shouldn't have rushed it," Patrick said, sitting up. "I didn't we'd been at it for a while when you got here. The others are going to be down soon." he sat next to Patrick. "Dad's going to be here in a couple of hours. he said you'd be making lunch. I was expecting them to order something." "We usually cook lunch over the summer." "You enjoy cooking?" "No. nothing's set to my height." "Oh, yeah. I'm surprised dad didn't make sure it would be." "It'd be too much trouble. There's only one of me, and eight of them." "I'm guessing when you get your place it's all going to be your size, and when we visit we'll have to crouch down to walk through doorways, sit on the floor to eat with you." "And sleep on the floor, with your legs to your chest because the guest bedroom will be extra small," Arthur added with a chuckle. "and you won't fit in the shower." "Why won't he fit?" Alex asked, joining them. "We're talking about how much trouble normal size people will have in my house." Alex sat on the floor, between Patrick's legs. "Really?" The others joined them before Arthur could expand on it. "What do you guy want to make?" Aaron asked. "No idea. what's do we have?" Anakin asked. "Not much, grocery is later today." "That means we have to scrounge the shelves for something to eat." "Come on," Patrick said, "you guys can't be that hard off on food." "Oh there's stuff," Albert said, "Just not enough of any one thing to make enough to feed everyone." "It can't be that bad." "Yeah? you try making a meal out of a few of eggs, some potatoes, left over ground beef, carrots, beets and cheese," Aiden said. "Is that what's in the fridge?" Patrick asked. "It was this morning when I looked in it." "Do you have any flour?" Patrick asked. "Sure." "Butter, salt and pepper?" "Of course." Patrick looked at them. "And you can't make a meal out of that?" Blank stares regarded him. "You guys are lucky you're rich. you'd die in my part of town." He got up. "come on, I'm going to give you a course in survival cooking." He spent the afternoon showing them how to turn what they had into a hearty meal. during that time, he found out that Adam was off camping with Damian. By the time their fathers arrived they had turned the flours and eggs into pasta, sautéed the vegetables they had and made a sauce from a few cans of mushroom soup they found in the back of the pantry. Their fathers brought up cases of soda, including one of orange soda. They sat down to eat. Patrick bowed his head and silently gave thanks, surprised they waited for him to be done before starting in on their food. * * * * * After the meal was over they cleared the table and the dishes went into the washer. Then, to Patrick's surprise, they turned the top of the table into a gaming surface. It had looked like dark varnished wood while they ate on it, it had even felt like it, but now it was a dark screen with a list of game. "State of the art textured enabled screen," his father said. "So, what are we playing?" "We haven't played poker in a while," Aiden suggested. "It's going to have to be plain regular poker, with Patrick here," his father replied. "I don't mind," was Aiden's answer, and the others nodded. "Okay, everyone has their phones?" Patrick pulled out his. "Does everything turn into sex with you guys?" The question was out before he could stop it, but he surprised himself at the genuine curiosity behind it. "Nah," Arthur answered, looking at the transparent display over his hand. "But strip poker is a favorite of ours. I'll be right back. I'm going to need a standard phone for this." He ran up the stairs. "If I find out you're cheating," Alex said, looking at Albert who was putting on wrap around glasses, "I am so beating your ass." Albert rolled his eyes. "Like I need any help beating you." He gestured in the air and Patrick guessed he was interacting with what he saw in his glasses. "You know how to play poker?" Anakin asked. "Sure, but I'm used to playing with cards. Not with my phone." Don was a big fan of the game and on really quiet evenings he'd pull out the deck of cards and they'd pass the time playing it. Anakin showed him how to connect his phone to the table so he could see his cards and then the few commands he'd need. Arthur came back with a phone from his box and sat next to Patrick. "What are we playing for?" Patrick asked. "I can't really play for money." They looked around. "Right," their father said. "If we're not playing for clothes, we need something else." Their other father went through the game's options. "there, it comes with a currency option. we'll use that." Five thousand dollars appeared on the bottom of Patrick's phone. Even knowing the amount was fictitious, he asked for the game to start with a low ante. They agreed to start at twenty-five dollars. It quickly became apparent to Patrick his family didn't play to win. He wasn't a great player, but he was racking up the wins. He got the distinct impression that when they played for clothing, they wanted to end up naked as fast as possible. They were on the tenth game, which looked to be Patrick's eighth win, it was down to him and Albert, and he had three kings, when the garage door rumbled open. "Adam's back," Aiden said. Patrick called, and they showed their hands. Albert had a straight. Anakin randomized the deck and passed the cards. Patrick looked up from his phone as heavy footsteps stumped up the stairs. Adam appeared, and ran to the other stairs, disappearing before anyone could say anything. Patrick only realized what the expression on his face had been moments later. It had been fear. Not long after that Damian appeared, an unconcerned smile on his face. Patrick looked at him, then the other stairwell, and back. Adam had been camping with him. Patrick growled as he climbed over the table to reach him. With curses his brothers got out of the way. As he landed on the other side his fathers grabbed him. "Let go of me! that son of a bitch did something to Adam!" "Patrick," his father said, "calm down." Damian studied Patrick with an amused expression. "Fuck calming down." He struggled in his fathers' grasp. He was going to wipe that smug smile of his face. "Damian, leave!" "But I just got here." "Leave my house, Dam, now!" "Alright, fine." The tiger went back down the stairs. "No! You can't let him get away with what he did!" Patrick struggled harder, but his brothers joined in to restrain him. They only released him once the garage door had rumbled close. Patrick turned and stared at them. "How the fuck could you let him leave!" "Patrick, you need to calm down," his father said. "I'm not fucking calming down. he did something to my brother and you just let him walk out of here." "Patrick, please. You don't understand." "Then fucking explain it to me. And don't give me anything of that I need to have sex with the lot of you before I'm going to be ready." His fathers looked at him with a confused expression. "I said he'd have to be comfortable having sex with us first," Arthur said. His father sighed. "Patrick, it's complicated, but Arthur's right." He stared at them. He could clearly see the pain on their face. How could they not want to go after him and make him pay? He caught Aaron's angry expression and something clicked. He'd also suffered at Damian's hands, that was the reason for his animosity. He was the only one who looked like he'd want to make Damian pay, but he hadn't gone after him, he'd also stopped Patrick. what kind of hold did Damian have over them? Patrick swore and went up the stairs. He knocked softly on Adam's door. "Go away!" "It's Patrick." There was a moment of silence. "Just go away, please." "Adam, what happened? What did he do to you?" Another silence. "I don't want to talk about it." Patrick seriously considered breaking down the door. His fist was raised, before he realized that wouldn't resolve anything. He took a moment to calm himself. "Adam, I want you to know that if you ever need to talk to someone, I'm here." "Thanks." He leaned his head on the door. "If he ever touches you again, I want you to tell me, okay? No one hurts my brother. do you hear me? Absolutely no one." "Pat, don't do anything." Adam sounded closer to the door. "I'm not afraid of him." Adam's next words were soft enough Patrick wasn't sure he heard them correctly. "You should be." Then he heard Adam move away from the door. Patrick wanted to scream at him. There was nine of them, how could they let one person cow them like that. he spun on his heel and went down the stairs. He grabbed his jacket off the back of his chair and his phone off the table, daring any of them to comment. They were his family, but as he left he despised each and every one of them.
  3. Kindar

    Chapter 30

    The Missing Son 30 The phone he bought was ten dollars. The most basic model, Holo, but hardly any customization settings. He didn't get the earclip. A quick call to Richard and both his phone were on the same number and shared the basic functions. He silenced his expensive phone and stashed it in his underwear drawer. Then he gave his number to his mom and prayed that she wouldn't notice it was his name or know how expensive it was to get. He got use to having a phone over the week, putting all the numbers he knew in it, then find out he could get a reader function for it and moved his books to it. He wouldn't have to be at his computer to read anymore. The dreams with his fathers continued for a few more days, then they faded. He still woke up with morning wood, but it wasn't accompanied with erotic dreams anymore. He did find his mind returning to them more often than not, when he took care of it in the shower. After two weeks his friends had his number and Patrick found he had to silence his phone otherwise he kept being bothered by their call, and all they wanted to do was chat. The one person he chatted with every days was Arthur. They spent at least ten minutes talking over lunch. No subjects were off limits except for sex. Patrick found out Arthur was addicted to candy corn, loved Japanese music, despised red bell peppers, was keeping busy over the summer by taking classes and was going to find a cure for dwarfisms. For his part, Patrick told him about making up stories about the father he dreamed he had when a kid, that he liked his music on the quiet side, twentieth century jazz, and some classical composers. He liked all kind of food, not being in a position to afford not eating something. And that one day he'd probably own a bar. * * * * * This Sunday had kept Patrick busy. There had been a group of trouble makers within fifteen minutes of starting. They'd tried to intimidate him, but after the Sarantos, no one could scare him anymore. He dragged them outside two at a time. Then he had to deal with a guy who tried to force one of the new waitress to sit on his lap for some 'quality' time. Another one escorted outside. Then it was a woman who, after one too many, wouldn't leave Patrick alone. She pressed herself on him while he carded the newcomers and glowered at any other women who even smiled at him. He was set to endure her, since she just couldn't take the hint he didn't want her there, then she tried to put a hand in his pants. He almost decked her. That she was a woman made him hesitate, and that Jen pulled her away probably saved him a very embarrassing moment. After that things quieted down and his nerves settled too. Influx had picked up again. The group filled the stairwell and from what he could see a good number were also outside. He quickly checked IDs and they were all legal. Then, as he handed one back the name on it registered. He looked up at the tiger. "Alex?" "Hi, Pat." He put his ID away and moved aside so the others could pass. Patrick couldn't talk with him as he finished checking the group. Finally, once they were all in and crowding the bar he turned to his brother. "What are you doing here?" Patrick looked his brother over, and he actually looked like he belonged here. His jeans were worn, his running shoes scuffed in many places. The only thing that was a little out of place was the jacket he wore over his white shirt. It looked expensive. "I wanted to see where you worked." "How did you even know about it?" "I asked Arthur." Patrick shouldn't have been surprised Arthur had shared their conversations, it wasn't like he hadn't wanted him to, he simply hadn't expected it. "Can you join me for a drink?" Alex asked. Patrick checked his watch. At this hour he had half an hour before the next bus, arrivals should be calm until then. They went to the bar once the group had moved to tables. "Don, this is Alex, one of my brothers." The panda eyed the tiger. "Brother? You never mentioned you had a brother." "It's something recent." Don quirked a smile, but he didn't say anything. He offered his hand. "Well, it's a pleasure to meet you Alex. I'm Don, I run this joint." "Likewise." Alex shook it. "It's a nice place." "Thank you. What can I get you?" "How about an Hawaiian?" "Ahh. I'm afraid I don't carry that beer. It's a little too expensive for my customers." Alex's ears turned red. "I'll have whatever you recommend then." Don poured him a glass from the tap, set it before him and then filled a glass with orange soda for Patrick. "This one's on the house," Don said when Alex tried to pay. "Think of it as a welcome to the family drink." "Thanks." "I'm going to take a break," Patrick said taking his. "Things should be quiet until eleven-ten." "Take as long as you need. I'll have one of the girls cover the door." Patrick led Alex to the last available table. "I guess you can't drink while working," Alex said, indicating the glass. "I don't drink at all. I don't get how Don can after seeing the troubles the drunks can cause in here." He eyes Alex's glass. "You drink much?" "No. I've only been legal for a few months, so I haven't had the occasions. If I go to a club I still go to Gentrify, it's an underage club so no alcohol. As a family we don't really drink much. Dads enjoy a glass of wine here and there, usually on special occasions. I've never seen uncle Damian drink. I've only seen Uncle Dominic drink once, at Grandpa's funeral." "Do any of the others drink?" "Aiden and Albert got plastered once." Alex hesitated, "After we visited you. They got really sick, and I haven't seen them drink anything since. I expect the rest tried it, but they didn't overdo it to the point where we found out." Patrick couldn't stop the smile. "That's right, you guys haven't been around alcohol as long as I have." Alex frowned. "How long have you been around alcohol." "Since I was fourteen." "Does you mom drink?" Alex asked, horrified. "No. That's when I started working here." "How did you manage that?" "I had my growth spurt early, and I was already wide shouldered. I'd gotten a fake ID that said I was eighteen. Don didn't buy it, so I told him I was really seventeen. he didn't buy that either, but he didn't say anything. He tried me out for the night, and I've been here ever since." "Man, When I was fourteen I played video games, and worried about Aramis hooking up with Porthos." "Who?" "They're characters on a show I watched then. I was really into Aramis." "Never had much time for entertainment shows." "Arthur said you read novels." "Lots of fantasies. I'm actually reading more now that I have a phone." He took it out. "What happened to the one Arthur gave you? Aaron's old one?" "It's home. It's too valuable, if the wrong people see it they'd steal it. I got this and linked them." "It isn't that expensive, you know. Arthur mentioned you weren't happy about the number." "Do you know how much it cost?" Alex shrugged. "Sure." Patrick was annoyed at the lack of concern his brother showed. He wished he could get him, all of them to understand how different his world was from theirs. He smiled as he thought of something. "Alex, how much money do you have?" "On me? a couple hundred bucks in cash." "Is that all you have access to?" Alex looked at him suspiciously. "No, why?" "If you need more, how would you do it?" "I'd use my bank card. Pat, why do you need to know that?" Patrick dug in his pocket and dumped its content on the table. He had a five, and three ones neatly folded with not even fifty cents in various coins. "This is all the money I have." Alex look at the bills and coins. "Okay." "Alex, this is 'all' the money I have." His brother looked at him, confused. "I don't have a bank card. I don't have a bank account. Until Don pays me when he closes tonight, this is all the money I have to my name." Alex looked at the bills, then at Patrick. his eyes grew wide. "How? What?" he grabbed the bills and counted them. "How much are you going to get tonight?" "A hundred and fifty, plus whatever Jen and the other waitresses give me" "For the night?" "No, that's for working the weekend. And most of that is going to go to my mom for the bills. I'm going to keep fifty, and most of that is going to be spent on groceries." Alex stared at him, his mouth didn't seem to work for a moment. "How can you do that? What if you want something?" "There aren't any wants in my world, only needs, and those don't always get filled." "Then why were you angry at Arthur? Because of him you have a phone." "It isn't the phone that angered me. If that was it, with the plan, I would have been fine. It's the casual way he threw away," Patrick lowered his voice, "fifty grand on a phone number. You and him act like I would if I'd forgotten a penny on the table. That's what angered me. You have so much money you don't understand what it's worth and how it makes me feel to have that dumped on me without second thoughts." Alex drained his glass. "Shit, I didn't realize." "I know. you and I, we live in different worlds. I want to be part of your family, but I'm not sure I'd ever want to be part of your world." "But you have to work at a job like this. How can you want that when you could have it easier?" "Because that way I know the worth of what I have." "Do I want to know what you think of us?" "You? I like you, I like the guys in our family I've met. well, except for Damian, he kind of gives me the creeps. But like I said, you live in a different world. I'm not going to judge you by the world I live in." Patrick noticed an ermine make a fuss with one of the waitresses. "Excuse me." Patrick went and informed the guy that the staff was to be treated with respect. The ermine tried to get in his face about it, about the amount of money he could spend in this place. That if he didn't leave him alone, he was going to complain to his boss and get him fired. Patrick hadn't planned on laughing in his face, but after the conversation he'd just had with Alex, he couldn't stop himself. Once he stopped he told the guy to feel free to complain, but that he was either going to treat the waitresses with respect or leave. Patrick didn't wait for a reply, just rejoined Alex, but he didn't say anything, keeping his eyes on the ermine. After five minutes of the ermine behaving Patrick stopped focusing on him. Alex was looking in his glass. "You okay?" "Yeah, I'm just realizing a thing about stuff I'm planning to do." Patrick waited for him to elaborate, but he didn't. "What time do you normally leave?" Alex asked. "Between two thirty and three." "Do you mind if I walk with you?" "Of course not. you didn't drive here?" "I did, but I'll come back after." "Okay." Patrick finished his soda. "I should really get back to work." He put the money back in his pocket and stood. Alex stood with him. "I'll get myself another beer." "Well, hello there." A fox holding a tray joined them. "and who are you, handsome?" "Jen, this is my brother, Alex." "Patrick, please tell me he's single." "I am," Alex replied, smiling. "Not that I think it's going to help." "Oh, and why's that?" "I'm gay." "Of course, you are. That's just my luck. You wouldn't happen to have any brothers?" "I do, but they're gay too." Jen look at Patrick. "Are all the guys in your family gay?" Patrick opened his mouth, but then surprise froze him. She patted his shoulder. "Of course, I know." "How?" he asked, baffled. "Oh, you don't scream 'I'm gay', but I've seen too many beautiful women throw themselves at you only to fall flat on their face to think you were straight." "I don't call what that rabbit was doing 'throwing herself at me'." "No, I wasn't including her, she was looking for a lawsuit. but there's been plenty of others." Patrick tried to remember when a woman might have hit on him, but he couldn't. "That's what I mean," The fox said. "That confused look you have. You never even noticed they were doing it." He turned to Alex. "It's good to meet you, Alex. Were you leaving or heading to the bar?" "I was going to the bar." "Can I get you anything?" Alex gave her his glass. "I don't know what this was, Don served it to me, it was on tap." With a nod she left. "Pat, how much tip should I leave?" Patric chuckled and gave his brother a quick primer on tipping before going back to the door. The rest of the night was quiet. One girl came on to him when he refused to let her in because he ID was fake. He paid attention to what she did, and he could remember other women doing similar things before. He suggested she should leave. The customers behaved, so Patrick kept a discreet eye on Alex. He talked with the waitresses who approached him, and they all left disappointed. Jen hadn't told anyone he was gay, and neither did the waitresses who talked to him. They all seemed to enjoy seeing the next one try her luck. As he said he would, Alex nursed his beer for the rest of the night, switching to a soda at last call. With the door locked Patrick rejoined him. "What happens now?" Alex asked. "They finish their drinks and leave. You've never closed a bar before?" Alex chuckled. "I think the longest I've stayed at the club was two hours. Once I'd found a partner or two, there wasn't any point in staying." Patrick looked at him, then his ears reddened. "Oh." "I'm heading out," Jen said, "Here you go." She handed Patrick sixty dollars. Patrick pocketed it. "You're leaving early tonight." "Yeah. Bonnie's been sick and waking up at all hours. My sister's watching her, but she shouldn't have to deal with that any longer than she has to." She pulled Alex out of his chair and hugged him. "It was a pleasure meeting you." "Likewise. I hope Bonnie gets well soon." "Thanks. See you on Friday, Patrick." The fox sashayed away, drawing the eyes of everyone except the two tigers. "Bonnie's her daughter," Patrick explained at Alex's quizzical look. "One year old now. The father just up and left a couple of weeks in the pregnancy. No one knows where he went to, which is fortunate for him. A few of us would have had words with him." Alex nodded. Mary appeared next to them. "Patrick, Don wants to see you." "Thanks. I'll be right back." The panda was behind his desk and handed him an envelope as soon as he entered. "You can take off if you want." "Are you sure? There's still a lot of people here." He pocketed the envelope. "It's fine, if some of them start something, I'm still able to knock heads together. You go and enjoy some time with your brother." "Thanks, see you Friday." Patrick grabbed his jacket on the way out and nodded to the stairs when Alex looked his way. "Normally I'd be one of the last one to leave, but Don figures I should spend time with you." "That's pretty nice of him." "Yeah, he's a good guy. I don't know what you want to do. Normally I just walk home, but if you have any ideas I'm game." "Do you mind if I walk with you?" "No, but didn't you say your car was parked around here?" "Yeah, I'll come back for it afterward." "Are you really sure? This isn't exactly a safe neighborhood." "That's okay. I might not be a black belt like Aaron, but I've gone a few rounds with the fighting game. I can hold my own." Patrick thought it over then started walking. "I'm only agreeing to it because the gangs have been rounded up. It's a lot safer now." "Yeah, that was quite a coup for the commissioner, wasn't it?" "I guess. She seemed pretty happy with the results and I'm guessing her popularity is going up." "Yeah, she really wanted to clean up the city, that was what motivated her to become commissioner." Patrick chuckled. "You sound like you know her." "Oh no, but I met her, when I was twelve. Dads went to a fund raising for her campaign. The theme was protecting the children, so they brought us. I got to shake her hand." "She made quite an impression it sounds like." "Yeah. I kind of decided then I wanted to do what she did." "Run the police?" "No, be a cop." "You're going to be a police officer?" "Yeah, I'm joining the academy in September." "Wow. I didn't expect that. I figured you'd go in programing like dad." "No way. I couldn't do that. I had a mandatory computer class in my freshman year and I was so bored. No. I want to help out people, keep them safe." "Does dad know about that?" Alex glanced at him. "What?" Patrick asked. "You said 'dad', singular. you said the same a moment ago, and I think you did a few times at the bar." Patrick blushed. "Oh, yeah. I keep finding myself thinking of them as one person. I know there's two of them, obviously, but they look the same, dress the same they even talk the same. When I'm not around them, they just blend into one person." "That's cool. I was just worried that you were still fixated on having just one father." "Oh, no. I wouldn't have it any other way anymore." The memory of his dreams resurfaced and Patrick had to rearrange himself discreetly. "But yeah, they know. They're concerned, police work isn't exactly the safest job, but they're supportive." He sighed. "of course, I'm not sure if that's going to last once they find out I want to work on this side of the city." "Why would you want that? Wouldn't it be better in your area? there's hardly any officers around here. Before they were rounded up the gangs owned the neighborhood, but even now, I don't think I saw one police car drive the streets all week." "That's kind of why. I know the precincts in this area don't get much money and hardly no one wants to work here, so that makes it the perfect place to make a difference. My part of town is fully covered, everyone wants to work there, I wouldn't matter, I'd be one among hundreds. Here I'd be able to make an actual difference." "We could certainly use you." Before Patrick could say more there was a yell ahead, and they saw a form run out of a house. Patrick took off after him. He didn't even think to warn Alex. An old skunk was in the doorway screaming after the thief. Mister Woo then had a coughing fit. Patrick redoubled his effort and caught up to the squirrel. He grabbed the collar and stopped, yanking the youth off his feet. "Let go! let go of me!" The squirrel tried to get out of the shirt, but Patrick pull him up and wrapped his arm around his neck. Patrick was stunned for a moment as the Squirrel's face came into the light. "Xavier?" Then he saw the large, thick book, he was holding. "Xavier Patrosky, what the Hell," sorry, "Are you doing with mister Woo's stamp collection?" Alex arrived next to him, but Patrick ignored him. Xavier was struggling as hard as the fourteen-year-old could. He slammed the heel of his foot on Patrick's, and while the tiger winced at the pain he didn't let him go, barely restraining an impulse to tighten his arm around the neck. "Let go of me!" "Not until you tell me what you're up to?" "What do you care?" "Kid, I beat up those two bullies who were trying to force you to rob the convenience store with them last year. I did that because you were screaming your head off for them to leave you alone. What happened to you not wanting to steal?" The Squirrel continued to try to escape him. "Things change, okay? Unlike you I'm not going to be stuck in this hellhole all my life. I'm going to go places." "Yeah, you are. You're going to go return this and apologize." "Fuck you!" Patrick felt like smacking the kid, but then he remembered Alex. He turned so they faced him. "Xavier, say hello to my brother, Alex." "What are you talking about, you don't have any brothers." "It's a recent change. Now, Alex is a police officer. So, your choices are very simple. We go see Mister Woo, you return his book and you apologize, or I give you to him, and you go to prison. You wanted to go places, well prison is most definitely out of here." Alex showed momentary surprise, then his face hardened. The squirrel looked at Alex with fear and then hardened his face too. "You wouldn't dare," he stated. "Xavier, when have you ever known me to be afraid of getting in the way of someone hurting the neighborhood?" "I'm fourteen. You can't send me to prison." "Sure I can," Alex said, trying to sound tough. "I can charge you as an adult if the damage you caused is high enough." Patrick had to bite back a laugh at the very exaggerated attitude, but Xavier cringed. "It's just a book," the squirrel said with defiance. "The old man you stole it from looked like he was having a heart attack. If he gets injured, or even dies as a consequence of your theft that gets added to your sentence." Xavier started shaking. "I don't want to go to prison." "Then you know what you have to do." Patrick released his neck, but took hold of his collar again, and led him back to the house. The skunk, whose fur was almost uniformly white in the poor light watched them approaching. "Well?" Patrick asked Xavier, once they stood before him. The squirrel looked up at the tiger, who nodded to the skunk. Resigned Xavier looked at the ground as he offered the large book back. "I'm sorry." Mister Woo grabbed and cradled the book in his arms. "Mister Sanders, it was fortunate you were close by." He looked at the other tiger. "And who's that?" Alex offered his hand. "Orr, sir, Officer Alexander Orr." The old skunk looked at him dubious, and Alex winked. "Now," Alex continued. "I know your property has been returned, but it's still within your right to press charges. This young man did steal your collection." The skunk tightened his arms around the book and glared at the squirrel. "Depending on the assessed value of your collection, this squirrel could find himself in juvenile detention, at the very least, for a few years." Xavier looked up in horror. "Or," Patrick said, "I'm sure we can reach a more amiable way for Xavier to make reparation." The old man considered the squirrel for a moment. "Well, my house could do with a fresh coat of paint." "You can't be serious?" Xavier complained. "I am." "If you don't want to do that," Alex said, "we can proceed with pressing charges." "No!" "So, you'll paint this man's house?" Xavier sighed. "Yeah." "Good. When do you want him to start?" "Tomorrow, ten am." "Alright. Let me give you my number, if he doesn't show up let me know and I'll pick him up. I know a judge who really doesn't like people who break their words." The skunk took out his phone and Alex gave him his number. "So, you'll be here at ten?" Patrick. The squirrel looked at him, dejected. "Yeah, I will." "Alright. Now go home, and I better never catch you stealing anything, got that?" The squirrel ran off the moment Patrick let him go. They watched him until he vanished in the darkness. Mister Woo looked at Alex. "Are you really a police officer?" Alex smiled. "No, not yet anyway." "Alex is my brother," Patrick said. The skunk looked at him, dubious. "I found out about him and my father a few days after my birthday." Mister Woo looked Alex over and then at Patrick. "What are you doing still living here then?" "This is my home. I'm not going to abandon it." They wished him a good night and went back to their walking. "That stuff about him being charged as an adult, was that true?" Alex shook his head. "No. I was just looking to scare him. I mean I know there's cases where it can happen, but I doubt it would apply for something like this. Out of curiosity, what would you have done if he'd asked to see my badge?" Patrick laughed. "No idea. I'm just glad you played along." "Happy I could help. So, you're the area's guardian angel?" "No, but I'm not going to stand by and let a thief by if I can stop him. God gave me good running legs and strength, I'm going to use that to help the neighborhood." "Hmmm, you very much a Christian, aren't you?" "Yeah. Is that a problem for you?" "Nah, But I guess it does explain your initial reaction to us being gay." "Yeah, but it doesn't excuse it. I didn't realize it then, but I was raised with a rather narrow-minded version of what Christianity is about. Finding out about your family forced me to break out of that. I'm still working through some of it, but I don't think I'll be running off screaming at the mention of gay sex anymore." "Have you done it?" "No. I don't think I'm ready for that yet. I still have this sense that sex has to be with someone you love, so I can't see myself just hooking up." "I'm not going to disagree there, if you love the guy you're with it's definitely better." They were quiet for a time, until Patrick noticed Alex was scanning the shadows. "Is something thing wrong?" "No, why?" "You're acting like you're looking for someone hiding in the shadows." "oh, no. that's not it." "What is it then?" Alex took a moment to reply. "Well, Arthur said you didn't really like talking about sexual stuff." "He's right, so don't give me the gory details, but at least tell me why you're peering into the shadows so much." "You know how everyone in our family has an eccentricity, right?" "Yeah, I remember Aaron liking older guys." Alex nodded. "Well, mine is semi-public sex, and I've been noticing a lot of nooks where I could bring a guy and have some fun." Alex shivered. "Wouldn't that be dangerous? What if you get caught? I don't think indecent exposure will look good on your application to the police academy." Alex shrugged. "That's part of the thrill. Doing it while being quiet enough, not moving so much you give away what's happening." He almost said something but closed his mouth. Patrick looked at him, but Alex shook his head. "You asked not to get the details." "Thanks for the restraint then." Patrick pointed to the house. "There it is." "I guess this is where we have to part ways." "Yeah, as much as I'd like to, I can't invite you in. Mom would freak." Alex hugged Patrick. "Thanks for letting me hang out with you." Patrick needed a moment to get over the surprise, then hugged him back. "Hey, it was my pleasure. Hopefully we'll be able to do it again at some point." "Definitely." they let go. "You take care, Pat." "You too Alex." He watched his brother walk away for a moment before heading to his house.
  4. Kindar

    Chapter 26

    The Missing Son 26 Patrick's mother was at the table when he got home for dinner. "Evening mom. What are you reading?" She had a booklet and papers in front of her. He went to the coffee machine, but there was no coffee. He must have arrived only seconds after her. He got some coffee going and turned. She was still looking at the booklet. Or maybe she was very absorbed by that. "Mom, are you okay?" He sat opposite her. She looked up. "Oh, hi Patrick." "What's that about?" "It's information and forms for the supervisor training they've arranged." "You planning on going? How much is it going to cost?" "Nothing. It's paid by the company. They're really better than the previous owners. They even had these on paper for those of us who didn't have readers." The machine beeped to indicate the coffee was ready. He poured two cups and put them on the table. He took the milk out of the fridge and shook it to check how much was in it. He placed it in front of her and wrote a note on the board about buying more. He'd have his black tonight. "Free training? that's pretty good. When is it?" "It's on the weekend of the twenty third." Patrick nodded. It was a week and a half away. "But I don't know if I'm going to sign up for it." "Mom, why wouldn't you?" "They can only take twenty people. What if more than that sign up and I'm not picked?" "Then you're no worse off than before." "What if I don't pass the training?" "Then nothing changes. Mom, why are you hesitating? it's free. What do you have to lose?" "I'm going to be gone for a whole weekend. They fly those who go to New York City on Friday after work and they come back on Sunday evening. The weekend is the only full shift I get at the diner, we need that money. And it's the only times I know I'll get to see you." Patrick took her hands in his. "Mom. I think we can manage not to be in the same house for a whole weekend. And as for the money, I can tighten my belt. You can't pass this up. You were right when you said the new owners were good people. The previous ones never bothered trying to educate you or anyone working for them. Do you want to go mom? don't think about me, or the money. Do you want to grasp this chance to get a better job at the factory?" He kept the guilt he felt from showing, because he had another reason for hoping she'd go, a more selfish reason. She gave him a small smile. "Yes, I want to go." "Then go mom." She nodded. "I'm going to borrow your computer and fill the forms online." Patrick did a quick mental check of what was easily accessible on his system. He'd deleted the porn he'd been watching, and he'd erased the history like Richard had showed him. She wouldn't see anything inappropriate. "Go ahead. I'll start on dinner in the meantime." He didn't grab the phone as soon as she left. He needed restraint. He couldn't make the calls if there was any chance she would come back. After dinner, while she was watching her shows would be the time. * * * * * His hands were shaking as he punched in the number. He tried to calm himself while it rang. "Hello?" the voice he was learning to recognize said. "Hi dad." There was silence, then a soft. "oh my God." and then. "Patrick?" "Yes, it's me." Was something wrong? "It's Daniel. Donny was right. It hit me pretty hard when you called me dad." Patrick had a moment to wonder why he'd thought he was Donald, then remembered they were twins and sounded the same. "I'm sorry. I didn't realize you might be the one answering." "Both our phones have the same number. Whoever's closest to his answers. Give me a moment, I need to sit down." Patrick found he was smiling. He was talking to his other father. "Okay, I think I'm going to be okay now. I sort of promised myself that if this happened I wasn't going to cry. Are you still there?" "Yeah, I am. Sorry, I was just letting it sink in that I'm talking to you." "Does it feel surreal to you too?" "A little bit, but in my case it could be because you and Donald sound exactly the same." "Well, we are identical." "That must have driven your folks crazy." Daniel laughed. "No. We have no idea how he did it, but dad could always tell us apart." "Could your mom?" "She left us when we were two." "Oh. I'm sorry." "It's okay. It was a long time ago and to be honest, we never missed her." "I couldn't imagine being without my mom." "I get that. So, why did you call?" "When I talked to Donald on Monday I said that I didn't know when, but I wanted to visit you again." "Yes, he said that. The kids were overjoyed when they found out, especially Arthur." "Yeah, he seemed pretty heart broken when I said I wasn't coming back." "He has a big heart, and he'd not afraid of becoming attached." Patrick thought about it for a moment and felt a little guilty at having cause him, his brother, pain. "Well, if it's okay, I'd like to come over on the twenty third." "Yes, that's perfectly fine," Daniel said quickly. "If you have something already planned that's fine, I can come another time." He didn't want to impose on them, but that day was ideal. With his mother doing the training he wouldn't have to arrange for Don or Joey to cover for him. "No, no. it's fine. With the kids being still in school we don't plan anything big on the weekends. Just some quiet time at home. Some of the kids might have been planning on hanging out with their friends, but I'm sure they'll prefer spending time with you." Patrick felt like he was imposing, and he was about to say they shouldn't break their plans when Daniel continued. "The forecast calls for a warm and sunny day. We have a pool so bring a swimsuit." "Ah, a swimsuit?" Patrick tried to think if he had anything that could be used as such. He could probably cut his oldest jeans into shorts. "I can probably manage something." "You don't have one?" "No. swimming hasn't been something I've done." "I'm sure you can borrow one of the kids'. Alex or Aaron are close to your size." "Dad, you don't have to bother with that." There was a light choking sound. "Damn it. I wasn't going to cry." A moment later Daniel sounded calmer. "It's okay son, oh, I like how that sounds. It's okay, they have spares, and I know they won't mind." Patrick couldn't say anything for a moment, he was the one crying now. "I'll be there early afternoon." "Do you want me or Donny to pick you up?" Patrick considered it. He would certainly save a lot of money that way, but he shuddered as he remembered the one time a tiger gave him a ride. "I'd prefer taking the bus. I'm sorry, I'm just not entirely comfortable with the idea of being alone in a car with you yet." "I understand. We'll all be eagerly waiting." "I can't wait to see you dad." "I can't wait either son." They disconnected. Patrick needed a moment to regain his composure, but he hadn't cried this time. Once he was okay he called Don. "Don's Cup." "Hey Don. Patrick." "How is it going?" "I'm good. I won't be able to come in on the twenty-third I have some personal stuff to take care of." "That's a Saturday. We're normally pretty busy. That puts me in a bit of a bind." "I know, I'm sorry. I can talk to Kenneth, you met him a few months ago. He's the bull that dropped by on my birthday." "Do you mean the one I've been seeing everywhere online?" "Oh, yeah. I forgot about that. I'll see if I can talk Malcolm into taking my place. but even if I can't, I'll find someone and I'll make sure he comes by on Friday so you can meet him and tell him what you expect." "Alright, but really, if you can't find anyone, don't worry about it. We'll manage." Then he called Joey to see about getting more work. He'd need the money to cover the day he wouldn't work and to pay to go visit his father. He'd found a faster way to get there, since he'd taken the time to go through the options. There was no way he could afford the fast rail, but its predecessor was still running, and while much slower it was also much more affordable. All he had to do was convince Joey.
  5. Kindar

    Chapter 25

    The Missing Son 25 Patrick waited a few days before calling Mother Rosetta. Primarily because he'd been working all Friday at the junkyard, and then the weekend was busy for him and her. He also wanted to give himself time to think on what had happened, get some distance. But he hadn't meant to call her quite this late, it was almost five. Joey had called at ten, waking him, and needed his help with a surprise load of lumber. He'd just gotten home from that. He had some food slowly cooking in the oven, and by the time he was done with his calls it would be ready. "St-Benedict," she said. "Good afternoon Mother Rosetta." "Patrick, how are you doing? how is your shoulder?" "It's good. I'm basically all healed. One more visit with the therapist to go." "I'm glad to hear that. Did you go to the bar like you intended?" "I did." "How did that go?" "Not how I hoped it would." "What were you hoping for?" "Something normal," he sighed. "Instead I got this guy all over me, grabbing my ass and groping me even after I tell him I'm not interested and I'd left the bar." "He followed you out?" "Yeah, he was pretty sure that what he wanted was what I needed." "Oh my. That certainly isn't an appropriate behavior. What did you do?" Patrick sighed again. "I decked him. That's when he groped me, I didn't think, my fist just flew of its own accord." She was laughing, holding the phone away. She cleared her throat. "Yes, I hope you realize that wasn't an appropriate response either." "You might want to avoid laughing next time." "I know. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have." She paused. "I guess that soured you on the idea of being part of the gay community." "Actually, no. I mean I don't want to have anything to do with guys like him, but this other guy who was heading for the bar stopped to make sure I was okay." "That's certainly good of him." "Yeah, and it made me realized that I had this single image of how gay people had to be, they were either all good or all bad. It made me realize that people aren't that way, some are good and some are bad. I can't hold the whole community accountable for the actions of a few assholes." "That's a good start, but you must realize that it's still not quite that simple. Even individual people aren't all good or bad. We're all shades of the two." "Yeah, I know I'm over simplifying it, but it really helped me accept who I am, it's weird, isn't it? What I was afraid of was that by saying I was gay, I'd have to fit into this image I had on some level of what I thought that meant. if they ended up being bad, I'd have to be that way. Now I know what others are doesn't define who I am. I get to decide if I'm going to be a sleaze or a decent guy." "Yes, you do. I'm happy you've been able to see that. Does that mean you're ready to tell someone?" "Yes. I'm actually going to call her once we're done." "I thought it was something you wanted to do face to face?" "I'd prefer it that way, but I don't want to wait until she's back. I'd like her thoughts on some things." "Alright, then I'll let you get to it. God bless you." "You too." He got up and walked around for a bit and stretched. He checked on dinner, the lasagna was coming along nicely. He was in the middle of cleaning the shelves in the living room when he realized he was procrastinating. He went back to his room and called her. "Hey Natalia." "Patrick? wow, I never expected you to call." "Yeah, sorry. Are you busy?" "No, I just got back from classes and my roommate's off with her boyfriend. Look, I want to apologize for not staying while you were in the hospital." Patrick laughed. "Nat, I already got the six messages you sent me to apologize, and like I said on all of them, it's okay. I understand you had to go back." "I still felt bad about leaving you there." "Don't, at least you got to miss the media circus. I had half a dozen stations wanting to interview me. Even after I said no, some were still trying to pressure me in giving them my side of the story, like it would be different from what I told the police." "Did they call you a lot?" "No. one of the doctor told me it's illegal for them to do that, and if they call I can sue them for harassment." "I didn't know that." "yeah, but it turns out they lost interest in me after Ken talked with them. To hear him say it, he took down Emilio." "Yeah, that sounds like Kenneth, conveniently forgetting that Bruno and Trevor were part of that." "Yeah, and now he's something of a social media star, if you look online you'll find dozens of interviews he's given. He showed up on at least one family show, and he's lined up for a few more." "Wow, he's really milking it for what it's worth." "Yeah, well, they say everyone gets a week of fame. He's welcome to mine." "And mine. That isn't how I want to be known. So, did you just call to bring me up to date on what's going on in the Brownstones? That doesn't sound like you." "No, I have something to tell you." "That sounds serious, is your arm okay?" "Yeah, it's fine. The doctor did a good job. I wore a healing bandage for a few weeks and now the scar isn't even visible. I haven't lost any flexibility or strength." "That's good. So, what do you need to tell me?" Patrick had done it again, he'd found something else to talk about. He took a breath. "I'm gay." "Okay." They were both silent for a moment. "Wait, that's what you wanted to tell me? Not, you're gay and you have a boyfriend?" "Hell no," (sorry) "I'm nowhere near ready for that. You're not surprised?" "That you're gay? I guess. To be honest I never thought about it." "How about when we were thirteen. Our moms kept putting us together, hoping we'd become interested in each other." Natalia laughed. "Is that what that was about?" "What did you think it was about?" "I just thought my mom brought me over because she didn't want to get a babysitter or deal with the kind of troubles I'd get into without supervision. And she had us play together because that way I was out of her hair while she talked with your mom." "Huh. I never considered it could be anything other than a matchmaking attempt." "I never even thought about it that way. I was happy to be your friend, but I never considered anything more serious, did you?" "No. like you said you were my friend, and there were enough people our age in relationships in the neighborhood that I could see I didn't want anything like the nightmare it seemed to be for them. At least that's what I told myself. maybe I was just justifying my lack of interest in you that way." "You didn't know you were gay?" "No. I don't think the thought even occurred to me back then, and if it had, it wouldn't have stayed. Not the way our moms went on about sin and God." "Yeah, my mom was devout to the extreme. Is yours?" Patrick thought about it, how she'd reacted to his father's visit. "Well, she is devout." He left it at then, not wanting to be unkind to her. "My mom flipped when I told her I was becoming a witch." Patrick sputtered. "You're a witch?" He and an immediate image of Natalia being burned at the stake. "Yeah. I got into it on my first year here. It's a more tolerant belief system." "So, no spell throwing?" She laughed. "No, this isn't like in the entertainment shows. We just pray differently." She went on to explain her religion to him, and Patrick found himself intrigue by it. Not that he had any interest in abandoning God, but he'd never had someone described a different belief system to him with such intimate knowledge of it before. He had to stop her when he smelled the lasagna start burning. He took it out just in time, only the edges had burned. He promised to call her again then set the table. His mother arrived moments later and they had a pleasant meal. After he'd done the dishes and put the leftovers away he took the phone to his bedroom. His mother was watching a show in the living room, so she wouldn't hear him. He dialed the number. "Hello?" a man said. Patrick hesitated for a moment. "Hi, it's Patrick." "Patrick? Hi, it's Donald. How are you? Is your shoulder doing better?" Patrick felt his eyes getting wet. "It is. I should have called sooner. I was touched that you called." "I'm just happy you're okay. I'll get the others." "No, don't. I just... I just wanted to say thank you for calling." "You're welcome." The sound of a chair scraping against the floor. "Will... will you be visiting?" "Yes. No. I don't know." "I understand." "I'm not... whatever I was when I left that time, you can tell them that. I think Arthur would like to know that." "I'll make sure to tell him." "Dad, I just... I mean..." Donald was sniffling. "I'm sorry," he said. "I never thought I'd hear you call me that." "You're my dad, you and Daniel, you're my dad. I dreamed of having one for so long and now I do. I don't want to lose you. Yes, I'm going to visit again. I just have to figure out when it's going to be." "Thank you, son. I don't know if you realize how much that means to us." Patrick couldn't reply, he was sobbing now. He was someone's son. "I should probably let you go. It's a school night, you probably have to study, and I should share the news with Daniel." Patrick didn't tell Donald he wasn't in school. He dried his eyes and wondered how they would take the fact he'd dropped out. "Okay. I'll try to call again at some point." "We can call you. I know the kids would love to talk with you." "I'd rather you didn't. It's my mom's phone, we both use it and there's no telling who'll have it when you call." "Alright, I understand. Have a good night son." "Have a good night dad." Patrick cried for some time after that. He hadn't realized how desperately he wanted a father until now. After he was done crying he erased the call from the history and returned the phone to the kitchen table. His mother was still watching a show. Something more recent this time, a police drama from what he caught. He was surprised at his lack of anger at her for keeping his father secret from him. As angry as had been on learning about the lie, he'd imagined that the day he accepted his father in his life he would hate her for keeping him fatherless for so long, but he didn't feel that. She was his mother, and he loved her. She had her faults, but he loved her anyway. But she wouldn't keep him away from his father. It was his life to live and he wanted his father in it. She'd have to find a way to deal with that. He bent over her and kissed her head. "I'm turning in. Joey needs me to come in the morning, we still have a lot of stuff to move from today's delivery." she smiled at him. "Alright. you sleep well I'll see you in the morning." "You too. I love you mom." "I love you too Patrick."
  6. Kindar

    Chapter 24

    The Missing Son 24 Patrick rolled his shoulder again, the healing bandage had been off for a week now, but it was still tender. It had ensured his shoulder healed well, the scars at the point where the bullet went in were so thin his growing fur already hid them. he still had a few weeks of stretching exercises to do to make sure he didn't lose any flexibility, but he did those at home. One more visit with the doctor in two weeks and he'd be done with this. He'd gotten out of the house immediately after dinner, his mom wasn't working tonight, so he told her he was just going out for a walk, maybe visit some friends. When he saw the bus, he knew what he was going to do instead. He'd been finding reasons why now wasn't the right time to go to the bar, at first was because his shoulder was still healing. Then it was because he wasn't a hundred percent, then he didn't quite feel like it. He'd had enough of procrastinating, this was something he'd told himself he'd do, He was going to do it. He'd talked about it with Mother Rosetta, with himself, and even with Joey. So, he got on the bus. He'd been saving money, planning for this trip, scraping every penny he could manage, since he hadn't gotten more work. he had enough for the bus both ways and a couple of sodas, if the bar didn't over charge for them. Tonight was a good night to go, being Thursday, Don wouldn't need him at the bar and it was probably going to be less crowded at this one too. It took two hours to reach the area the bar was in, and then he had to walk thirty minutes to get to it. It wasn't impressive, a low brick building with dirty windows, graffiti covered walls. The rooster sign above the door wasn't lit up. Getting closer it looked like one side was broken. A parking lot across the road had a few old cars in it. He hesitated at the door, wondering if he really wanted to do this. Just like when he'd entered his father's house, he couldn't shake the feeling that crossing this door would change everything for him. He reached for the handle just as the door swung open at him and he stepped out of the way. A tiger wearing a cowboy hat and a tan trench coat walked by without acknowledging him. Patrick found himself looking at his feet and he was wearing cowboy boots. Patrick had never seen someone dressed as a cowboy outside of the old movies his mom watched every so often. The man took a few steps toward the parking lot then stopped. He turned to look at him. "Can I help you with something?" he growled. Patrick immediately looked away with a quiet. "Sorry." And just to get away he entered the bar. Only realizing what he'd done once the door closed behind him. Well, he was in now, he couldn't really back out anymore. The room was smaller than Don's place, maybe half the size. the bar was in the opposite corner to the door with a few tables scattered about, only three of which were occupied and four of the six stools were taken. Like their website said, the atmosphere was calm. The music, something old and country sounding, was soft enough he couldn't make out the lyrics. No one paid him any attention as he crossed the room and sat at the bar. Looking at them, he was happy to note most wore jeans and shirts, so he didn't stand out too much in his jeans, T and jacket. He asked the bartender, a skinny brown bear, if he had any orange soda, and got a strange look in return. "Are you even legal?" Patrick showed him in ID. "Okay, how about a beer then?" "No thanks. what soda do you have?" "Got coke." "I'll have one." The bar man shrugged. "It's your money." He filled a glass for him and asked for six dollars. Patrick paid it without commenting. Don only charged four for soda and he kept a wider selection. Patrick sipped his soda slowly, watching the other men in the bar in the mirror. At the tables they were paired up but weren't acting the way gays would. they weren't holding hands or doing lewd things to each other, they were just sitting there, talking and enjoying their beers. The gayest thing he saw was when two of them left. They waved to the barman, then held each other's hands had they walked out. Maybe this being gay thing wasn't going to be all that bad. "Hey, buddy." An arm fell across Patrick's shoulders and he froze. "You new here? Never seen you here before. And trust me, I'd remember a body like yours. Patrick forced himself to turn his head and look at the man almost completely draped over him. he was a dog of some sort, rottweiler maybe? He didn't sound drunk, but his breath stank of rum. The dog leaned in. "You know, we kind of have a tradition here." "Harold, leave the kid alone," the barman interrupted, but the dog just waved him off. "Yurick, why don't you get this fine fellow another rum and coke on me?" Patrick wanted to refuse, but he couldn't get his mouth to work. he was horrified to see another glass appear before him and smell the alcohol wafting off it. The dog leaned in even closer. "come on, just drink them up, it'll help loosen you up, you're all stiff. After that I can show you a good time." The arm on his shoulder dropped off and Patrick felt his ass being groped. Patrick bolted off the seat, finally able to move. "This was a mistake," he said and he headed to the door, although what he wanted to say and do was a lot more vulgar, and violent. He pushed the door open and stalked out. "Hey Buddy!" the dog yelled after him. Patrick ignored him, the closing door cutting off what else he said. Yeah, this had been the worst mistake he'd ever made. He'd hoped that with a quiet atmosphere it would be different from the other placed he'd read about, like the fuck markets down in the gay district. He'd stayed away from those because he wanted nothing to do with that kind of life. He'd been an idiot to believe this place would be any different. Fags were the same everywhere. Was this what it meant to be gay? sleaze? His father hadn't seemed like that, but he'd seen him only twice, how did he know how he behaved the rest of the time? as far as he knew they could be stalking the bars, looking for anyone to take advantage of. Patrick shuddered at the though. If that was true, he didn't want to be related to them. "Hey buddy!" the voice came again. Great, the dog had followed him outside. "Leave me alone." The dog grabbed Patrick's shoulder and spun him around. "Listen here buddy. You don't get to come in here, parade that yummy body of yours around and then run off when someone responds to the advertisement." The dog licked his maw. Patrick wriggled out of the hold. "What the fuck are you talking about? Just go back inside. I'm not looking for any trouble." The dog leaned in close. "I'm not offering you trouble. I'm offering you a good time." He grabbed Patrick's crotch and squeezed. He didn't think. Patrick's fist flew and the man staggered back. "Don't you fucking touch me you fag," he growled. "I don't care what you say. I know you want me. I can smell it." The dog's speech was starting to slur. "I'm just going to have to convince you to come with me so I can show you a good time." The dog came at him. Patrick sent a jab at his muzzle and then swung hard, sending the dog spinning back and crashing to the ground. Patrick looked at him, panting. For a moment he thought he'd killed him, but then he saw his chest move. He was still breathing. He turned and walked away. Fuck, this hadn't been what he'd wanted. A hand landed on his shoulder and Patrick spun around, fist raised. was that asshole already back for more? A jaguar with is hands raised was backing up. "Whoa kid, calm down." "What the fuck do you want?" "I was parking and saw what happened. Are you okay?" Patrick hesitated a moment, looking over the man's shoulder at the parking lot. He couldn't remember what car had been there when he arrived. He realized he was being paranoid. He lowered his fist. "Yeah, I'm fine." "Okay, that's good. You look a little rattled. Do you need me to give you a ride somewhere?" Patrick had a memory of a car stopping next to him, a window lowering and a tiger saying. "Come in, kid. I'm going to give you a ride home." That had been an uncomfortable ride. "I'm fine, thanks. I can manage on my own." "Okay, kid, you be careful out there." The jaguar turned and headed back to the parking lot. Well, at least he hadn't punched that guy. He actually seemed nice and considerate. He'd cared enough to check in on him, a complete stranger. Not like that fag who'd been all over him and thought they'd have sex just because he said so. Patrick stopped moving. Okay, he had something. The fags were the sleazy ones, and the gays were like that jaguar, normal guys, other than being attracted to guys. okay, he could make that work. He was gay, but he wasn't a fag. He'd never be a fag. He turned. "Hey mister." The jaguar stopped and turned. He was at the edge of the parking lot. "Thanks for caring." The jaguar just looked at him for a moment, head tilting to the side. "You're welcome," he finally said. "Have a good night." "You too." * * * * * Tom watched the tiger walk away. Thanks for caring? jeez, what world did that kid live in that he had to thanks someone for that? Once the tiger was out of sight Tom headed to his car. Sitting in it he checked again to confirm the kid hadn't double back and he placed a call. "Tom Bracha, reporting in." He reached back and groped at the back seat. "The kid had an altercation. he took care of it, but I had to expose myself to make sure he was okay." "Will you be able to stay with him?" the man said. His hand closed around something and he pulled it up. "Yeah, I can follow him on foot, but if something else happens there's no way he's going to believe it's a coincidence if I have to intervene." It was one of his baseball caps, but not the one he wanted this one had holes for his ears. he threw it on the passenger seat and looked back. "I can have Donovan Carmichael in your area in ten minutes." "That works." He grabbed his sport jacket. Under that was the cap he wanted. "Do we have the busses on this route covered? I doubt he'd going to walk all the way home." "I'm arranging that right now." "Okay. You also need to send someone at my location. The guy the kid punched will have to be looked after. I don't think there's anything wrong with him, he's getting up now, but we need to make sure he doesn't cause further troubles. He's a rottweiler, right ear notched. he's got on a blue shirt, black jeans and he's got a split lip." "Alright, I'll dispatch someone to keep an eye on him." "If they get him drunk enough he'll forget the night. I know the type." He knew from first-hand experience. It had been years ago, but something like that didn't leave you. "Understood." Tom ended the call. he took off the suit's jacket and replaced it with the sport one. He stepped out of the car, folded his ears back and put the baseball cap on. There, with that and keeping his hands in his pocket his silhouette was completely changed. There was no way the kid was going to make him. He ran to get eyes on him again and then followed him at a good distance. Tom didn't know why the company had the kid followed. it was strange, but after all the company had done for him, he wasn't going to nitpick why this one kid deserved the protection and all the personnel they had devoted to him. It wasn't as much now as it had been in the start. When they first started watching him there had been four teams on him at all time. The orders were simple, keep the kid safe and unaware he was under surveillance. Tom had stopped three attempts on him by gang members. He wasn't familiar with the local gangs, but they always wore the same colors. He knew of five other attempts over the first three weeks. In all, he was under heavy surveillance for a month or so, then the teams were pulled out. It matched the arrest of most of the gang leaders in the city so Tom figured that had been the threat on the kid. Until then he'd wondered if he was someone important, even with living in the Brownstones, then he figured he was an informant and someone within the police didn't want his involvement known but wanted him protected. The kid had been without protection for a few weeks, then the order came down to restart watching him. He'd been attack by one of the gang members. At the same time his boss had been replaced, which again made him wonder how important the tiger was, no ordinary target would cause that kind of reaction. the new surveillance wasn't as intense, a few people at first, now it was down to one on him at all time, with support when required. Someone fell in step behind him. Tom didn't react, but he paid attention to who was following him. A zippo flicked open, was lit and then the prickling of a cigarette burning. "You know Donovan, those things are going to kill you." Smoke flew over Tom's shoulder. "I'm more likely to die of lead poisoning." "Where do you even get those things? As far as I know no one sells them anymore." "Same place any other vices are filled. The internet." Another cloud of smoke passed him. "Anyway, I've got the kid. You go back to your girlfriend. We have Sandy on the bus we expect him to take and Emerson on the next one, so he's covered." Tom didn't say anything. He made the next right. He kept going for three blocks, then took an indirect route back to his car, regularly making sure no one was following him. Once in it he checked his watch. She would still be up. She answered on the second ring. "Tomas?" "Hi hun, how are you doing?" He smiled. hearing her melodious voice always did that to him. She was the best thing to ever have happened to him. "I'm good, I was about to stretch out and listen to a book. You don't usually call at this time, is everything alright?" "Yeah, I just wanted to let you now I'm heading home so I'll be there within the hour." "Really? that's wonderful. I wasn't expecting to see you until I got up tomorrow. why are you coming in early?" "They have to close the building for the night, something about a problem with the gas lines, we can't have anyone in so I'm given the night off." "And will you have to go in tomorrow?" "I won't know until I call them. I'll probably have to at least show up for instructions. I'll see you soon, I love you." "I love you too. drive carefully." As far as Ania knew, he was a security agent, and the company he worked for did building security. He had a varying schedule because he didn't always work at the same building. He didn't like lying to her, although except for it being people instead of buildings what he'd told her was sort of true. He felt it was better than her worrying about his life being in danger when it rarely was. His military training, his years doing black ops, saw to it that he could take on everything. Well, almost everything, a voice at the back of his head reminded him.
  7. Kindar

    Chapter 23

    The Missing Son 23 Aaron was putting his books away in his locker, classes were finally over. It had been a long day, three exams, and a chem lab. He was looking forward to going home, and getting a massage from Aiden, but he'd have to wait some more. Only Adam and Alexander were here, the others must have been delayed. Adam was talking with Barry, someone he knew from shop class. From the sound of it they were talking about classes, and not making plans to have sex. That's what Alex was doing with Rufus, from the chess club, not that Aaron could hear their whispers, but the tent in the aardvark's pants made it pretty clear. Aaron hadn't been planning on doing anything, but then he heard the distinct whirl of the floor cleaner. He looked around his locker door and the old goat was pushing it down the end of the row of lockers. "Hey Fred," he called. The white goat looked up and smiled. "Hello Aaron." Aaron motioned him over. Fred took a moment to shut down the cleaner and walked to him, his steps deliberate. He was pretty spry for pushing ninety. His skin was starting to hang loose on his face, making folds of fur. He kept in shape although his muscles weren't what they had been when he was younger. He'd shown Aaron pictures earlier in the year. "About to head out?" The goat asked, nodding to Adam and Alexander. "That was the plan." Aaron ran a hand up Fred's side. "But that was before I saw you. I could stay and help you." He leaned in and nuzzled the goat's neck. What he really wanted to do put his hands on his ass, pull him close and grind against him like crazy, but they had rules. Public displays of affection were fine, but hands had to remain above the belt and over the clothes. But fuck did the old goat turn him on. Fred gently pushed him away. "Do you think you should be doing this in public?" Aaron indicated Alexander and Rufus, who were now kissing, with hands roaming each other's back. "No one minds them." Student were walking by without looking at them, Or the guy and girl making out further down. "Well, they are the same age. I'm old enough to be your grandfather." "So? I still love making out with you and having sex, let's not forget the sex." Fred chuckled, and Aaron could smell his arousal. "If you help me out, how are you going to get back home?" "I'll just take the bus." "Isn't that risky? You never know what kind of people you'll meet on there." "That's what makes it fun. I should tell you some of the great sex I've had on busses." Okay, so he'd broken the rule a time or two. "Actually, you should ride the bus with me one of these days." "I don't think that would be a good idea." Aaron leaned in. "Come on, just think about it," he whispered. "Pinning me against one of the poles, pounding my ass right there in front of everyone?" The goat swallowed. "You are going to give me a heart attack, young man." Aaron chuckled. "I doubt it." He rubbed over Fred's heart. "You had that replaced at the start of the year. It's going to pump for years to come. I mean, it works well enough to get this hard." Aaron almost groped the old goat. Fuck it was sometime difficult to control himself around him. He couldn't wait for them to be in his office after they were done. bent over the desk, the goat moving in and out of him, braying and swearing. Fuck it was going to be hot. "Guys! Guys!" Albert yelled running down the length of lockers. "We have to get home ASAP, Patrick's in the hospital!" "What happened?" Adam asked. It took Aaron a moment for the words to register. Patrick was in the hospital? "I don't know, I just got the notification of his admission a moment ago. The others are at the van waiting for us." Aaron looked at the goat. Fuck. "I'm sorry, I really didn't plan on turning you on like this and ditching you, but this is an emergency." The goat nodded. "I get it, and I know you'll make it up to me." Aaron kissed him hard. "I promise." He couldn't help himself, he groped him. He was definitely hard. Fuck he wanted that. He forced himself to step away. His three brothers were already halfway down the row and he ran to catch up. He took the passenger seat as usual and turned to Albert once Adam had the minivan moving. "What happened?" Albert was putting on the glasses. "Give me a minute." He moved his hand around in front of him, moving files only he could see. "Okay, I have the initial report. He was shot." "Shot?" Alexander asked. "Why in Hell would anyone shoot him?" "This doesn't say." "Is he going to be okay?" Aaron asked. Albert read for a moment. "It's shoulder wound, the right one." "That's the side where his scar is." Aiden said. "What hospital is he at?" Adam asked. "The Four Clover." Adam told the van and the information appeared on the windshield. "That's way north, and at this hour it's going to take a few hours to get there." "I don't think we should go," Arthur stated. They stared at him. "We can't let him go through this alone," Aaron replied. "We're his brothers, we have to be there for him." "He doesn't want to see us." "That doesn't matter," Alexander said. "Yes, it does. How do you think he's going to feel about us if we show up mere hours after his admitted because Albert's been a virtual stalker? It isn't going to endear us to him." Everyone was silent for a long moment. "He's right, you know." Adam finally said. "I know." Aaron looked over his shoulder. "Thanks for being the voice of reason again." "It's becoming a bad habit of mine, isn't it?" "No, it isn't," Anakin stated, "But You must be getting really tired of keeping us in line." Arthur shrugged. "Let's just go home," Aaron said. "Hopefully the dads are going to know what we should do." * * * * * They filed into the kitchen, where Daniel and Donald were preparing dinner. The adults looked at them then the clock. "we weren't expecting you for another hour. Dinner won't be ready till then." "Patrick's in the hospital," Albert said. "What happened?" "He was shot, but it's only a shoulder wound, nothing life threatening." Daniel and Donald exchanged a look. "You deal with this, Donny, I've got dinner." Donald sat at the table. "When did this happen?" "A couple of hours ago. He was admitted just as class ended." "Sit down, everyone." He waited until they did then looked at Albert. "How do you know this? It can't have hit the news yet" "I had a sniffer functions floating around the web looking for any mentions of him." Donald and Daniel sighed together. "You can't do that Albert," Donald said. "There are laws against cyberstalking. you know that." "I'm not stalking him, I was just wanted to know a bit more about him, I mean he left pretty distraught and I wanted to see what he'd say about it, but he doesn't have any social pages. As far as I can tell, he isn't online at all. all I found were pictures he's in with friends of his. So, I got the sniffer going to look for whatever it could find, which isn't much." "Shut it down, Albert." "Dad, come on. I'm not hurting anyone." "I know, but the law doesn't care. If anyone from the cyber-crime unit comes across your sniffer they are going to track it back to you. You're eighteen, you'll be prosecuted as an adult." Albert looked down. "Oh, I hadn't thought about that." "I know. I know you didn't mean any harm, but the laws are in place because before you were born a lot of people caused harm that way." Albert nodded, put his glasses on and manipulated the functions for a time then took them off. "I've erased it. How much trouble am I going to be in if they find traces of what I did?" Donald patted his shoulder. "I don't think they'll bother looking at the history unless they get a complaint, so you should be fine." "Dad, what are we going to do about Patrick?" Aaron asked. "There's nothing to do. He isn't our responsibility." "But he's our brother, we should be there for him." "Aaron, you can't force yourself on him. If you try you're just going to push him away. We have to let him come to us." "What if he never does?" "Then he doesn't. It's his choice." "But we could call him, right?" Adam asked. "Once his shooting hits the news feed," Donald agreed. "No, we can't," Albert said. "The number uncle Damian gave us is his mothers." "Why would he give us her number and not Patrick's?" "He doesn't have a phone." "How can he not have a phone?" Arthur asked. "You've seen where he lives. Phone cost money." "Come on Dad. Phones are cheap. I mean okay, ours aren't." He tapped the bracelet he was wearing. "But basic models hardly cost anything. They could afford that, right?" He looked at Albert. "Don't look at me. I don't know what their finances are like. I didn't go look into their private life." "If he doesn't have a phone," Donald said, "It's probably because he can't afford one." "If he can't afford that, how is he going to pay for his hospital stay?" Anakin asked. Worried expressions filled the table. "I can probably cover a good part of it," Aiden said. "My first album is selling pretty well." "Isn't that going to make him feel like your forcing yourself on him?" Alexander asked. "I just want to help him out," Aiden complained. "We can't force it on him. Maybe we can call his mother and offer to help?" "We can try that," Donald agreed. Albert looked at his father. "What if he didn't know the money was from us?" "It would be difficult to pay the bill without him finding out." "That's not what I'm thinking. He has friends who have online presences. we could talk to them and arrange for a crowdfund to be setup. I'm sure they'd want to help, and once people start putting money in it, so long as we keep our donations in the same range as theirs, no one would notice." "And we'd be able to give often," Aaron added. "that way we can cover whatever the others can't." "That sounds like a good idea," Daniel said, from the stove. "Just be careful you don't force it on them. It might not be sex, but no still means no." "Why would they say no?" Aiden asked. "I don't know, I just want you to be careful. Because we have money isn't a reason to force our ideas on those who have less." Aaron shared nods of agreement with his brothers and they left to set it up. * * * * * Patrick lay on his bed trying not to mess with his bandaged shoulder. The doctors had warned him against that, it was full of micro stuff that would help the wound heal. He had to wear it for three weeks, after which they hope it would be fully healed. Unfortunately, during that time Patrick couldn't do any heavy lifting, which meant working at the junkyard was out. At least, he could still bounce, so they wouldn't be too short on money. It was already enough of a miracle they hadn't gone broke paying the hospital bills. He listened to the saved call again. "Hi Patrick, it's Aaron." "And Alex." "And Arthur!" "Come on guys, we said I'd be the one talking," Aaron sounded exasperated. And multiple voices talked over one another for almost a minute. Patrick couldn't help smiling. "Alright, that's enough." An older voice sounded. "Hello Patrick, it's Daniel. Since the kids can't make up their minds as to who is their spokesperson I'll do it. we heard on the news you got shot. We thought about visiting you in the hospital but considering the way you left we weren't sure you'd want us there, so we agreed to call and let you know we hope you'll get better soon." There was a pause, and the silence was complete. "We hope that..." Now Patrick could hear some labored breathing. "Just get better Patrick." The call ended. His mom had been the one to listen to it first since he'd been in the hospital. She'd brought the phone on her next visit so he could listen to it. He'd been touched that she did, considering what Daniel and his family represented. And he'd almost cried when he listened to it for the first time. They'd cared enough to want to visit, and he did wish they had. He almost called them back, but his mother was there. What would she think of them all here. Now he wished he had called them anyway. He had to stop making decisions with his mother's wellbeing as the deciding factor. He had to live his life for himself. Holding the phone, he saw the time and it reminded him of the call he needed to make. he punched in the number. "St-Benedict, Mother Rosetta Speaking." "Hi, It's Patrick." "Hello Patrick. How are you doing? I saw on the news you got shot. I've been praying for you." "Thank you. I think God listened to you." "How so?" "We don't have insurance, so I expected my mom to have to get a loan to pay for my treatment, but some of my friends got together and setup a social site for people to donate money toward my medical bills. So many people donated that it's all covered, as well as my checkups. Whatever's left over afterward I'm thinking I'll donate it to the hospital." "That's very generous of you." Patrick chuckled. "I don't know about that. I'm just not comfortable keeping it. To be honest, as grateful as I am for the donations, I feel a bit weird about it." "You have friends, you should cherish that." "I do, I just never realized how many people actually cared. Except for a few friends, I always thought of myself as a loner." "You don't have to run around shaking everyone's hand to have an impact on their lives. A kind word, or a gentle action are sometime all that's needed. From our conversations I have no trouble believing you've affected the people around you in a positive manner." Patrick felt himself blush. "I suppose so." He fell silent, still not quite believing he'd touch the lives of so many people. "And about your other situation, have you made a decision?" "Yeah, I'd decided to follow your advice and start exploring the gay culture. I've found a gay bar a few miles away, but with getting shot, I didn't get a chance to go. I'm going to wait until my shoulder's healed before going." "Alright. And have you told someone? Your mother?" "No, not my mom. there's no way I'm telling her." "You should." "You don't know her. I've tried to bring it up, well, to bring my dad up and she always shifts the subjects. When she doesn't, she acts like he's a threat to me." "You've never mentioned your father before." Patrick was silent for a moment, then told her about their visit. The only thing he left out was that they were brothers. "So, you're father's gay too. And he knew you were gay?" "Yeah, he said every man in our family is. I don't know if that's true, but I am." He didn't mention his brothers. It was such a strange idea, he had brothers. He hadn't really thought about them since visiting their house and he wondered how they were doing. Maybe he should call them? go for another visit? "Well, I don't know anything about genetics," she said, "but I'd think it couldn't be all of them." "I guess it doesn't matter, not really. If they are, or aren't, it doesn't affect who I am, and I'm the one who needs to come to terms with this." "True. So, you haven't told your mothers. anyone else?" "No, well, Joey knows, but he was kind of instrumental in screwing my head on straight. I was thinking about talking with Natalia, I've known her for years, I'm curious if she knew, but she's out of the city until summer." "You could call her." Patrick smiled. "I'm not much of a phone user. and for that kind of conversation I prefer face to face." "Then have a video call." "I mean in person." "Are you sure you're not just finding reasons not to ask her?" Patrick considered it. Would he know if he was? "I don't think so. I know that on the day I was shot I wouldn't have asked her, but during the few days I was in the hospital, I had lots of time to think. That's when I decided to ask her, but I couldn't manage to have her alone, and by the time I was released she had to go back to her college." "Hopefully you'll be even more comfortable with yourself by the time she'll be back, asking the question won't feel uncomfortable. Speaking of your shooting, how were you during the fight?" "I don't remember it clearly, it happened pretty fast and I lost blood. I got angry, but I think I stayed in control. I slashed him a few times, claws out, but I don't think I was trying to do more than force him to back off." "The news made it sound like you just held your own until your friends intervened." "Yeah, I heard that too, and I guess that's true. It's a blur and I'm just happy it's in the past." "Well, I'm glad you're alright." "Me too. I think I'm going to nap. it was good talking to you Mother Rosetta." "And to you too. God be with you Patrick." "And with you." he disconnected the call, placed the phone on the bedside table and fell asleep as soon as he closed his eyes. * * * * * The beep sounded from his comm system. "Yes Alice?" "Miss Tremaine is here to see you." "Send her in, Alice, thank you." He wiped his desk clean of the file he was working on and brought up the one that was relevant to this meeting. "I see you're still using a flesh and blood receptionist, Damian." She said as soon as she'd closed the door. "You really need to get yourself a reception kiosk, they're a lot cheaper" "Please take a seat Josephine. Alice does a perfect job. I don't see any need in replacing her with a machine. I take it you are using one?" "More than one. I have them anywhere I can make it work. Now, what did you want to see me about?" Damian studied her for a moment. Her reddish-brown fur was graying, unusual considering she was the same age as him. Genetic predisposition? Stress? She was relaxed. It wasn't the first time she'd been in his office in the ten years since he'd appointed her to run the security company. She'd been the only one in the company who hadn't given into corruption when he bought it. She'd been an army captain when she was kicked out for bringing her corrupt superior to justice. She hadn't been very discreet in the process, and the army, like most large organization hated it when it's disgrace were made public. Josephine paid for it by being discharged with honors. She'd done a good job running the company, as far as Damian knew. He didn't micro manage, she was a competent leader with an exemplary record, so had been the perfect choice. He hadn't heard anything until this incident, and her comment about saving money made him wonder if she was still the right person to run it. He tapped the file and slid it to her. "I'd like to know what happened." She activated it, and a news report played before her eyes. It was short, simply stating that a young tiger had been shot in the Brownstones while playing basketball. That the incident seemed to be gang related. and that he had been hospitalized but the wound was minor. The report was from one of his news company, and they all had rules to keep to the fact and avoid theorizing. Other reports from other news agencies went more in depth, and tried to interview Patrick, but wisely he'd turned them down. Damian hadn't worried about how that might have affected the family, there was nothing out of the ordinary here, but Patrick would have found that once he'd let the news media get its teeth in him, they would have been reluctant to let go. He felt his life was difficult now, it would have been more so under the constant eye of the news hungry public. If not for his friends, the news might still have stayed focused on him, but three of them, a bear, an ermine and a panther with bleached fur had been more than happy to relate everything, and how this was affecting them, making themselves a spectacle the news was happy to consume. She looked up once it stopped. "What do you mean, what happened?" He looked at her blankly. He found the result far more interesting when he didn't ask questions and let a person's paranoia speak for them. he did note her pupils were dilating. "Look, you can't be blaming us for this. We had no way to know this was going to happen. We did everything you told us to." We? she was including the whole company in this, trying to shift the blame. She knew she'd done something wrong but didn't want to take the blame. "What did I tell you to do?" "You told us to protect that kid from the gangs." "What else?" Was she misremembering or purposely altering her recollection? "What do you mean, what else?" She was becoming agitated. She was worried. Was this the tip of an iceberg she didn't want him knowing about? "You know what I mean Josephine. I was quite clear in my instructions when I gave them to you on the eighteenth of March. I want to know if you still remember them." She gave an exasperated sigh. "You said to protect him from the gangs and make sure he didn't know we were doing it." "Good. Now, please answer my question. What happened?" "I just..." "No, you didn't. You made sure I knew this wasn't your fault. You did not explain how it was that, not only did someone wearing gang colors was able to get close enough to this young man to shoot him, but the young man and his friends had to be the one to deal with it." His voice was cold, something he knew made people uncomfortable, they expected the heat of anger, not cold calculation. "Considering your instructions, I'd like to know how this happened." "Damn it, Damian. What did you expect me to do? The gangs were all arrested. I needed my personnel for other jobs. I didn't see a point on leaving people on him if there were no threats." "If there were no threats, how do you explain he got shot?" "I couldn't know that was going to happen." Damian nodded to himself. "I see." When had making money become more important to her than protecting someone she was told to protect? "Very well, that's all Josephine." "What do you mean that's all?" "I mean, I have no more questions, and you can leave. Unless you have something you'd like to add?" She opened her mouth to say something, and then must have realized the situation she was in because she closed it. "No. I don't," she growled. She glared at him and Damian could tell that gaze had intimidated many people over her carrier, but it was wasted on him. When he didn't react, she got up and left, slamming the door behind her. He waited a moment going over what she'd said and what she hadn't. It was apparent she was no longer the person to run Royal Securities. "Contact Audit." there was a beep. "Auditing department, Emil speaking. "Emil, Damian." "Mister Orr, what can I do for you?" "I need you to get an audit done on Royal Securities. If anything criminal is found, get an outside agency to redo the audit, otherwise forward me the results." "Yes sir." He disconnected. "HR." there was three rings. "HR." "This is Damian." "Oh shit. Yes Mister Orr. I'm Beltane." Beltane Dupree, nineteen, been with the company for a year. "Beltane, let me start by saying I expect more professionalism from the people working for me." "Yes sir. I'm sorry sir." "Now, I need you to go through Josephine Tremaine's employment record. I need her transferred to a position better suited for her, not a leadership role. Then go through the personnel at Royal Securities and give me a list of the ten most qualified to run it." "Yes sir." "And Beltane, as you are doing this. consider that Miss Tremaine is someone who didn't measure up to my expectations." Damian disconnected the call before the young possum could say anything. He brought up the files he'd been working on before. It was his nephews crowd sourced funding for Patrick's hospital bills. He was pleased with them. They had beat him to it, setting it up within hours of the incident, and in a way Patrick wouldn't know they were involved unless he got his friend to dig into it, and Damian had seen to it there were a few level of security added to make it much more difficult. He was glad to know they were this eager to help their brother even if they haven't gotten to know him quite yet. At this rate, Patrick might actually manage to join the family without any intervention. That would certainly be best for him.
  8. Kindar

    Chapter 22

    The Missing Son 22 Patrick had trouble believing how much of a difference three week made, not just with him, but on the whole neighborhood. Three weeks without the gangs walking around like they owned the place, intimidating people, breaking into houses, stealing cars. It hadn't happened over night, but now people were sitting on their porch after work, drinking beers. Kids were playing on the lawns and running around the houses. He'd mentioned it to Mother Rosetta, and she'd said much the same of her parish. The gangs had been this dark cloud over the area that no one really mentioned but that affected them all. The gravity of the change made itself clear not long after that, when the smell of cooking meat had drawn him outside and Mister Omaka, an older ocelot, three houses down the road, was barbecuing on his lawn, people coming over with food from other houses. Patrick had rushed back in and gone through the cupboard looking for something he could bring. He put together a quick potato salad from the bag of potatoes he'd cooked a few days ago to keep them from going bad. He walked to the ocelot, realizing he should have asked first if this was open to anyone or a private affair. "Mister Omaka, I hope I'm not intruding, I saw everyone coming with food and I thought I'd offer some too." "Patrick, call me Jinko, you know that." The ocelot's fur was very pale, an indication he was quite advanced in age, but he didn't show any other signs. Patrick had seen him running some of the younger gang members off his lawn more than once. "And of course, you're welcome. today's such a fine evening I just had to grill something, and seems everyone's feeling much more neighborly these days." "Yes sir. I've noticed that too. I brought potato salad, I hope that'll do." "Of course it will. Just put it on the table there and tell me what you'd like." "I'd take a sausage roll, and if I can I'd like a burger for my mom, she'll be back from work in a couple of hours and I know she'd enjoy something different from what we've been eating" The ocelot looked Patrick up and down. "You only want one? Seems to me a boy your age should be eating more." "I don't want to impose, I'm sure plenty of others are going be asking for some, and I didn't bring that much food." "I'm sure everyone is going to want some, but I've got plenty, and Gillian brought a few packs of sausages too, not to say of all the burger patties I have." "Well, if it isn't going to cause problems, I'll have two." Mister Omaka snorted. "You'll have four and you won't complain about it." Patrick's ears warmed and he fought a desire to refuse. He much preferred to earn what he got, but Mister Omaka was insistent, so he couldn't make too big of a deal out of it. He put the salad on the table and saw there were two other bowl of potato salad, but each smelled like different spices had been used, so he didn't feel too bad. There were three cakes, two platters of vegetables, three pies, and a large bowl of lettuce. Party plates and bowls were stacked at the end of the table. In a cooler filled with ice he found lots of soda cans, and even a few of orange soda. Patrick was surprise, he didn't realize anyone else drank the stuff. He grabbed one and Mister Omaka had his food ready. "I've set aside two patties for your mother, I'll cook them when she comes home." "You don't have too, if you cook them now I can take them home and put them in the over." The ocelot gave him the evil eye. "If you leave our little gathering, I am going to chase you down and beat you, got that? Now, go find a place to sit and eat." Patrick couldn't stop the grin from spreading on his face. "Yes sir." The rest of the evening was spent talking with people he'd seen daily, but hadn't spent the time taking with often, everyone then too busy looking over their shoulders or wondering who would cause problems next. When his mother got home, she saw the gathering and came to investigate. Mister Omaka handed her two burgers, pointing to the condiments. She tried to refuse, but like Patrick, she lost that argument and settled next to him. Someone brought her a coffee. The gathering lasted until late in the night. * * * * * Patrick ran across the court, stopped, dodged his opponent, looked for his teammate, waved to indicate he was clear. The ball was bounced to him. he caught it, dribbled two steps, leaped in the air and threw it at the basket. The ball hit the back board, then the rim and bounced outside the playing field. "You still can't get a ball in to save your life, Sanders," someone said. "I told you I sucked when you insisted I play," he replied, running after the ball. He grabbed it before it rolled on the street and threw it back. Of the people he was playing with he only knew two, Natalia was a tigress he'd met because their mothers worked at the same factory. He strongly suspected his mother had arranged it hoping he and Natalia would hit it off, but while they got along, the chemistry had never been there. Patrick had never thought about it before, but now he knew why. He wondered if she'd guessed it back then, but he hadn't worked up the nerves to ask her since it would mean telling her he was gay. it was one thing to have admitted it to himself, another to tell someone else, well, other than Joey, but somehow Patrick felt he didn't count. The other was the bull who lived across the street from him. he was a year older and heavily into sports. he'd managed to avoid being dragged into the gangs because he lived most of the time with him mom on the other side of the city, being here only every other weekend. He was the one who had insisted Patrick come play. Patrick jogged back to the court, an unused parking lot that had been a Soranto gathering point before their mass arrests. Someone had procured the two basketball hoops and set them up. Natalia pointed in his direction and yelled something he didn't get. He turned to see what had gotten her attention. Thunder rang through the air and something punched him in the shoulder, sending him twisting and then falling to the ground. He looked up to see a horse walking in his direction, waving a gun around, He heard screams over the pounding of his heart. His shoulder was hurting now, a lot. he glanced at it, and it was bloody. He made the connection between the gun and his shoulder. "You fucking shot me!" Emilio pointed the gun at him. "I said you were a dead man." Patrick couldn't believe he'd been shot. Fuck, this was going to cause so much trouble. How long would he be off work because of this? Things had finally been starting to look up, His mom had had a slight raise at the factory so she'd been able to put some money aside. this was going to wipe all of it away. "I thought you were in jail," Patrick growled. "Didn't they arrest the lot of you?" "Yeah, I guess me showing up is a surprise. I guess you thought getting your buddies the cops to rough us up and then arrest us would free you, but guess what. when I promise something to someone I make sure it happens." Patrick winced at the pain as he forced himself to stand. he was woozy for a moment but kept his footing. "What the fuck are you talking about?" "Ohhh, you think we wouldn't notice you had people watching out for you? What? you were so scared of us you made a deal with the cops so they'd take us down?" "You're not making any sense, as usual. I didn't call anyone, I didn't make any deal. I deal with my problems myself, without a gang to back me up, unlike someone I won't bother naming." Anger crawled up the horse's face as the words registered. "I won't have some mangy cat bad mouth me!" Patrick didn't wait for him to raise the gun. He ran at him. The gun went off, but he didn't feel anything. He slammed his good shoulder in Emilio's chest, sending him flying back, but Patrick almost blacked out as the impact caused his other shoulder to erupt with pain. The horse was standing up when Patrick could see again, but he wasn't holding the gun anymore. Patrick was going to kill him. He had fucking enough with Emilio and the Sarantos. Each step he took made his shoulder complain, but he didn't listen, he shoved the pain to the side, he'd pay for this later, right now he just couldn't give a damn. Patrick struck the horse across the face, hand open, claws extended. he felt them dig into the skin and rip. Emilio took a step back in surprise, four bloody lines on the side of his face and a piece of his ear ripped off. The horse was furious. He looked around, then fear replaced the fury. He didn't have anyone backing him up. He'd never gone up against Patrick alone. "I'm not going to let a punk like you do this to me and live," Emilio threatened. Patrick slashed again, but the horse moved back. Patrick slashed back and forth with his good arm, but all that did was keep the horse at bay. He was losing blood. How long could he keep fighting until he lost consciousness? If that happened, he was dead. he wasn't going to let that happen. He wasn't putting his mom through this kind of tragedy. He staggered, putting on a show of having trouble moving. his slashes were lower and slower. He panted heavily, but that wasn't an act. He lounged at the horse, even if he was still out of reach, and he saw the smile of confidence on his face. Emilio did a quick lunge in. Patrick forced himself not to flinch back and let him strike him on the chest. It wasn't very hard, the horse hadn't gone all in, but when he staggered back Patrick almost couldn't stop himself from falling. The horse pressed his advantage, and Patrick struck him. he'd aimed for his throat, intent on ripping it out, but his hand hadn't gone up that far. He ended up slashing deeply at Emilio's chest. He almost lost his balance, and a hand caught him. he lashed out, but that was caught too, then he saw the fur was striped instead of brown. "I've got you," Natalia said, and then he was unconscious. * * * * * Patrick came to with a start, felt hands on him and saw brown fur. He trashed, trying to get away but the pain in his shoulder screamed. "Hold him down damn it!." Hands pushed him down, tan fur, long tapered muzzle, canine. "Calm down kid, we're here to help." The brown fur again, round ears, short muzzle, small eyes. Bear. Not horse. The fight left Patrick. He closed his eyes and panted. He could hear beeps and whirls. he opened his eyes again. He was in the back of an ambulance, on a stretcher. The bear was scanning his shoulder. He looked around, but didn't recognize any of the equipment. "Sorry for trashing about. I hope I didn't hurt either or you." "It's okay kid," the bear replied. "We've had to deal with far more difficult customers than you." "How bad is it?" "All thing considered? not bad at all, the bullet's intact and lodged in your muscle. I'll give you some local anesthetic and pull it out." "Fuck." The canine, a coolie regarded him. "I don't have insurance," Patrick explained. "I can't pay for any of this." The collie looked at the bear and then out the door. "Don't you worry 'bout that. Our job's to do what we can, not to bill the customer. Wallace there'll take out the chunk, then we'll take you to the hospital so they can make sure nothing bad happens. Infection and all that." "Can you give me antibiotics? I can't go to the hospital. You're not charging me, and I'm grateful, but they're going to bill me for just looking at me. I don't want to think what it's going to be when they actually do something." "Look kid." The bear injected Patrick's shoulder, "Sure, we can give you stuff to make sure it doesn't get infected, but you've got muscle damage. If you don't get that looked at you could lose a lot of flexibility in your arm, is that what you want?" "Of course not, but It's not worth ruining my mom." "Maybe you should call her so she can make the decision?" The collie offered. "I don't have a phone." "That's okay, I'll lend you mine, you know her number?" "She's at work." "I'm sure they'll let her take the call, this is something of an emergency." Patrick thought it over. He didn't want to bother her with this. But no matter what happened, she was going to be affected. He cursed halfheartedly and recited the factory's number. The paramedic punched it and unhooked the top of the phone, bending it so it would fit around Patrick's ear and placed it there. He heard the ringing, then a click and a man's voice. "Olympic Mattresses, where we make mattresses fit for Gods, how can I improve your sleep?" "Hi, I need to talk to Margarette Sanders, she's one of your seamstresses." "I'm sorry, but this is the sales department." "Sorry, this is the only number I have. Can you transfer me her supervisor? I really need to talk to her." "I'm sorry, but I don't think floor employees are allowed to take personal calls during work hours." Patrick sighed, feeling tired all of a sudden. "I'm her son, I need to inform her I've been shot." "You've been shot? Oh my God, do you need me to call the police? an ambulance?" "No, they're already here, I just need to talk to my mother." "Yes, of course. I'm going to put you on hold while I find her." Patrick closed his eyes, and then opened them, he didn't want to risk falling asleep. He felt pressure on his shoulder and realized the pain was gone. He looked and the bear had thin pliers in the wound. There was a slurping noise as he pulled out and he had the bullets. "Can I talk to him?" a police officer asked from the doorway. "He's trying to reach his mother," the collie replied. "By the time he's done we'll have sanitized and sealed the wound, you can talk to him then. I'll call for you." The yak nodded and left. Patrick was about the thank him when his mother was on the spoke in his ear. "Patrick? Are you alright? They told me you've been shot, how bad is it?" "I'm okay mom. Just a shoulder wound, nothing vital. Look, they want to take me to the hospital." "Of course, doctors need to look at it. I'll explain things to my supervision and go there immediately, do you know which one they are taking you to?" "Mom, I can't go. We don't have insurance." "That's fine, I have some money aside." "Mom, this is a hospital, I don't think your savings are going to be enough." "Then I'll get a loan. Patrick, you are going, it's final. I'm not going to risk your health just for money, do you hear me?" "Yes, mom." He sighed. "Which hospital are we going to?" "Four Clovers is the closest one." "Four Clovers, mom. That's where I'll be." "I'll see you there as soon as I can." He took off the ear piece and handed it to the collie. "Don't worry, if Clovers can't take you I'll call her to tell her where we'll end up." "That the factory number. She doesn't have her phone." The collie looked at him questioningly. "We only have one phone for the two of us, so it stays at home." Patrick got two horrified looks. He was too exhausted to laugh. "If you're done I'm good to talk to the police officer now." That was going to be a pleasant conversation, he thought wryly. The collie called the yak over and stepped out so he could come in. The bear stayed and continued scanning his shoulder. "I'm officer Androny," the Yak said, "we're taking statements from all the witnesses. Can you tell me what happened?" Patrick took a breath. "I was playing basketball with my friends. I missed a hoop, the ball bounced away so I chased it. got it and was coming back when I heard thunder and fell. My shoulder was bloody. Emilio was pointing a gun at me. I defended myself." "You knew the man who shot you?" "We're had altercations before. He's been trying to force me to join the Sarantos for years now. I thought he'd been arrested with the others." "During the fight, did you slash him?" Patrick sighted. "Yes. my claws were all I had to defend myself." He really didn't need this. He's managed to avoid getting in trouble with the law his entire life. Now because of that horse he was going to end up with an assault charge on his record. "Look, I need to know. what am I going to be charged with?" The yak stared at him. "Charged? what for?" "I clawed him. That's assault, they teach us that really early at school." "Buddy, he came at you with a gun. What you did was self-defense. No judge is even going to want to see you in her court. All you're going to have to do is go over the statement to make sure it's accurate and sign it. Your buddy Emilio is sitting in the back of my cruiser right now, and he's looking at prison time for possession of an illegal firearm, not to mention shooting you." He stood. "You just focus on healing, we'll contact you when everything's ready for you to sign." He left. "So, you're ready to head to the hospital now?" Patrick smiled. "Yeah, I am."
  9. Kindar

    Chapter 21

    The Missing Son 21 The Church was smaller than he expected. The photos on their web page made it look larger. The outside was worn, but well maintained. They had replaced one of the tall wooden doors recently, the varnish hadn't bleached in the sun yet. He entered and, as always, he felt a little smaller. This was the House of God, and he was just some insignificant tiger. He dipped his fingers in the basin of holy water and crossed himself. He walked between the pews, relieved they were unoccupied. It made sense, it being the middle of the afternoon. He would have been even more uncomfortable if it had been crowded with regular parishioners. As it was, he was nervous and starting to doubt the wisdom of coming. Part of him said it would be better to just bury his head in the sand. Ignore the growing list of evidence and go back to living the way he had been. And blowing up at strangers for imagined slight? He sat down and looked at the cross. Like every depiction of him, well, those who accepted Jesus was cervid, he now knew, his antlers were broken off and made into a crown, with the points sharpened and pressing in his head. His punishment for preaching the existence of Eden and that the Path was the way to return there He couldn't look at him for long without feeling like he was being judged. Looking down he saw a bible someone left in the nook on the back of the pew in front of him. He took it and leafed through the pages. He looked back up. "God," he whispered, "Why did you make me this way?" Someone put a hand on his shoulder. "Can I help you?" a woman said. Patrick jumped out of his fur and landed a couple of feet away panting in fright. He turned and looked at an otter in a cassock. She was also panting, a hand over her heart. It seemed his start had frightened her as much as she had him. "I'm sorry," he apologized once he found his voice. "It's alright." She gave him a small smile. "I should have made sure you knew I was there." She sat on the pew. "I'm Mother Rosetta. I don't remember seeing you here before." "I'm Patrick." He sat a respectable distance away. "I'm not in your parish, I live in Brownstone." "That isn't exactly nearby," she commented after a moment's thought. "What brought you to our church?" Patrick hesitated. "I need a different point of view on something. I've been looking online and came across the blogs on your site. They were refreshingly balanced." She tilted an ear in his direction in an invitation to continue. "Father Durony, the priest at my Church, he's.... Well, I've come to realize the way he interprets the bible isn't the way others do. From the reading I did, he takes a very old fashion view of it." She gave him a knowing smile. "He's one of the Revivalists then?" Patrick nodded. "Yes, they do tend to view God as being fire and brimstone. Why don't you tell me what you need help with?" "I'm...." He froze. He couldn't say it? He'd been practicing it in his head on the way here and yet the words didn't want to come out? "You don't have to say it, if you aren't comfortable," she reassured him. He breathed in, to calm himself. "I have to say it. I've been 'not saying it' for too long, it feels like each time I don't I'm actively encouraging a lie." Worry appeared on her face. Patrick closed his eyes and breathed some more. "I'm gay." There, he'd finally said it... and nothing. No being struck by lightning, no bursting into flames. He opened his eyes in surprise and she was smiling at him. "I take it you were expecting something to happen?" "I know it's stupid, but yes I was. It isn't like God has turned anyone back into an animal recently." She nodded. "I can see how growing up in a revivalist church would cause you to have problems coming to terms with your sexuality." Patrick leaned back. "Yeah, ever since I've been a kid I've been told how being..." he sighed and forced the word out. "How being gay is the quickest way off the Path. How God hates gays, that they are the work of the devil, stuff like that. If being... gay is so wrong, why did he make me this way?" She studied him for a moment. "God doesn't hate gays." "But the bible says he does." he shook the bible he was holding. "That it's against His will." She took hold of the bible and gently brought it down to his lap. "This book was written by us, not by God." "But they wrote the words of God, didn't they?" She smiled and was thoughtful. "Alright, let's say, for a moment, that we accept that those who wrote the bible were indeed, let's call it channeling God. Let's say that's true. "Do you really think that one of our minds could hold the thoughts of God and not miss something? Or misunderstand what He thought? God's mind is infinite. He knows everything, he sees everything. Our minds are very much limited. Even if we were to try to hold all that God is, we couldn't. At best we could only old a very small part of it. "If his mind is even a little bit like ours, it's a chaotic place, it isn't like a library where everything is ordered with a computer listing where to find everything. It stands to reason that anyone who tried to write down His mind couldn't put everything down, and what they did write might not be correct." Patrick looked at the book. "So, you're saying that the bible isn't accurate because we couldn't understand everything God had meant." She patted his hand. "No, that's not what I'm saying. That is something someone could argue as being valid. I, personally, don't believe the bible is the word of God. Patrick stared at her. "Shocking, I know." She grinned. "Thinks about it. We've had evidence the bible has been modified, rewritten, for decades now. We also know that many of those changes were done to bring the bible in line with what the rulers of the time wanted. Now, I'm not saying there aren't some good ideas in it, but in the end I'm not willing to believe God would have a hand in penning something with so much hate and anger in it. "God doesn't hate you. He doesn't hate anyone." "How about his enemies?" "God doesn't have enemies." "Of course he does. All those terrorists. The attacks in the early twenty first century, what was going on in Kenya on the thirties?" "They aren't God's enemies. God made them, he made all of us, how could they be his enemies?" "But they follow other Gods." "No, they don't." She paused. "At least, I don't believe they do. They might have given Him a different name, but there is only one God. Not one true God, simply one God." "Then why did they attack us? why did they call us heathen? The massacres in Kenya, the deaths in the Congo?" "Because they are people, they aren't perfect. Like you and me, they are flawed, and for whatever reason they decided to use God as an excuse to make war instead of following Him to peace." She was right, Patrick realized. He'd seen it in his neighborhood often enough. People proclaiming God's name while doing something He would never approve of. "Then what about God's first creation? He had to hate him for disobeying Him. He destroyed them after all." She canted her head. "Did He? The bible simply says the He removed man from Eden for eating the apple. I prefer to think that he took them somewhere else. Maybe a world of their own, where they could learn the consequences of their action. After all, when we asked permission to eat the apple, he warned us we would have to leave. That once we had the knowledge the fruit brought, Eden wouldn't be for us anymore. "After man was removed from Eden," she recited, "God elevated the animals to take his place, to care for Eden." "Except the snake," Patrick added by rote. Mother Rosetta smiled. "Yes, except the snake. For the part it played in offering the apple to man it has been fated to always crawl on the ground as a simple beast. But for the rest of us, we grew and cared for Eden, until the day our curiosity grew too strong. We tasted the apple and left Eden." "Do you think we'll ever make it back there?" She didn't answer immediately. "I don't know. I'd like to think God wants us to, since he sent his Son to show us the Path." She leaned toward him. "Did you ever think about why Jesus came to us as a cervid, instead of, say, a lion, or a tiger?" Patrick shrugged. "Not really." "I believe it's so we would see that power, or strength, wasn't what would get us back to Eden. Cervids aren't exactly known to be strong, although they certainly aren't the weakest of us. He wanted us to see it was our actions that would lead us back to Eden." Patrick looked at the bible in his hand, rubbed the worn cover. "If I can't use the bible to figure out what the Path is, how am I ever going to find my way to Eden?" "God gave you the only tool you need to find your way back." She reached over and put a hand over his chest. "He gave you a heart. He gave you the ability to feel, to care and to love. If you follow it, are nice to your neighbor, eventually you'll find your way back." Patrick let out a sardonic chuckle. "I hate to break it to you Mother but being nice doesn't exactly cut it in this world." "You're right. When I say nice I don't mean you should lay down and let others trample you. God wants you to defend yourself. He wants you to defend others, if need be, but do so without malice. Don't seek revenge, seek justice. Keep anger out of the fight." Patrick was silent for a moment. "That might be easier said than done," he sighed. She looked at him inquisitively. "I have some anger issues," he admitted. "How bad is it? have you ever wanted to hurt someone?" Patrick wanted to deny it. "Sometime. Mostly I scream a lot, but recently, with... this, I've been lashing out at things." "Do you think that will go away once you resolve the issue?" Patrick considered it. "I think so. I've been calmer ever since realizing that what I knew of God might not be all there was." She nodded. "If you don't mind me asking, what made you start questioning your sexuality?" "I'm not ready to talk about that, not yet. But it isn't that I had sex. I'm not ready for that." "I understand. When you are, you know where to find me. I'm just what, a five hour walk away?" Patrick chuckled. "Closer to three." She smirked at him. "Closer to three, he said, like even that's an easy walk." "I like to walk." She shook her head in amusement. "Tell you what. Let me give you my number." Patrick chuckled. "I don't have a phone." She started at him. "How can you not have a phone?" Patrick shrugged. "Never had one, I can't afford the plans, so I managed without." "Well, I'm not sure how I can give it to you then." "Just read it out, I'll remember it." She looked unsure but pulled out her phone and read off her number. Patrick repeated it to her, then a few times in his head. "If you ever need to talk, call me, day or night." She stood. "Will you be staying? Mass is in about an hour." "I can't. I'm working and with the walk, I'll be there just in time." "Alright, you're always welcome here. have a good day, and God bless you." "Thank you, Mother." Patrick stood in the aisle, looking at Jesus. He crossed himself and headed out. He stopped before leaving the Church. Next to the door was the donation box. He didn't normally give anything, he had so little already, but he dug in his pocket and pulled out the ten and twenty. He didn't have time to go home, so he'd have to buy something on the way. What could he afford to give? food wasn't exactly cheap. He put the twenty in the box. He'd buy a sandwich and soda on the way. He'd eat more at the bar. Don didn't have food, but he didn't mind if Patrick ate a lot of the peanuts.
  10. Kindar

    Chapter 20

    The Missing Son 20 Patrick paused by the living room, his mother was sitting there, watching the news. It was such an odd sight, her being home this early in the day that he took a moment to appreciate it. The television had woken him up and it was barely noon. For a moment he thought he'd forgotten to turn it off when he got home, but then remembered he'd headed straight to bed. "Hey mom, what are you doing home?" She looked over her shoulder and muted it. "Hi Patrick. The factory closed early." "Closed? in the middle of the day? They've never done that before. is everything alright there?" "It's fine. I guess the new owners wanted to look over the machinery." "New owners? Are they going to close it down?" Patrick hoped not. "No, of course not. They assured us everything would continue as normal before giving us the rest of the day off, with pay." Patrick hoped she wasn't being too trusting, sending everyone home didn't seem like a good sign. They couldn't afford for her to lose that job. He doubted he could bring in that kind of money even if he did odd jobs all day, every day. "What time did you get home last night?" she asked. You still weren't in when I went to bed." "About four in the morning. Don asked me to help out with a private party and it ran late." She frowned. "You know I don't like it when he keeps you out that late." "I know, but it's extra money, and we need it. I put it in your checkbook." Not to say that being offered two hundred dollars by a woman to get him to dance on the table had been a strange experience. He'd been scared of the idea, of making a fool of himself in front of them, but tempted by the money. When she pressed, and told him there could be more, if he took off his clothing, He'd been even more conflicted. There was no way he'd ever undress in public, was there? Just how much money was she offering, and why had he been excited at the idea of doing it? Fortunately for him, the decision was taken out of his hands when Don reminded her his bar wasn't *that kind* of place. "I hope you've kept some." "Thirty bucks. That's enough to see me through the day." By her lack of reaction, he didn't think she's seen how much he'd left. Even with disappointing the woman, it had been a good night. They tipped heavily, and she slipped him a fifty after he'd agreed to dance with her. The dance had been - interesting. She'd rubbed herself all over him in the process, ran her hands over his entire body. The way she licked her lips as she gyrated against him made it clear, even to someone as clueless as he normally was, what she really wanted. Even if he'd been interested in giving her what she wanted, for all the touching and rubbing she did, his body hadn't reacted. He'd done his best not to show it, but once they were done he spent ten minutes in the bathroom dealing with the shock, the disappointment, of realizing he truly wasn't straight. He might have spent longer there, but he had a job to do. "I'm going to head out after I grab a shower. There's something I need to take care off this afternoon." "Alright, are you going to be back for dinner?" "No, it'll take most of the day, and I'll go directly to the bar after that." The Church was close to ten miles away, so it would take him most of the afternoon to walk there. He stopped by again after his shower. He was wearing his best everyday clothes, not that they were that great, but at least they didn't have any holes or rips. He wanted to make sure she was okay. He didn't think she would have lied to him about her job, she would have told him if she'd lost it, but now that he knew she'd lied to him before, he felt like he needed to verify it. He watched her silently, and she did seem unconcerned as she watched the news. On the screen a gazelle in a deep blue suit was standing behind a podium. Someone said something to her and she nodded, putting papers in order. the 'live' icon flashed in the left corner and next to that 'police commissioner Hyacinthe press conference' Patrick had been about to turn away when he saw the words, 'gang violence down.' crawl at the bottom of the screen. "Thank you for coming," the gazelle said. "I called this press conference because today we are celebrating a major victory against gang violence." 'Leaders and lieutenants of Saranto, Claws and Infernals arrested. Gang in disarray.' scrolled at the bottom. "Over the last few months we have been conducting a series of undercover operations with the goal of infiltrating multiple gangs. This morning, using information gathered from those operations, we arrested the leaders of the Sarantos, the Claws and the Infernals as well as all their lieutenants and most of the gang members. "When I became commissioner, I promised the citizen of San Francisco I would address the city's gang problem. This is only the start. Know that the police aren't going to rest until all the gangs have been broken. Gangs are parasite on this city and it's time we got rid of them. "I want to thank this fine city's citizens, who are in large part responsible for making this possible. Your donations helped us properly fund the gang task force. The information you provided allowed us to pinpoint who to target and where to find them. a long time ago the gangs declared war on this city, and now, together, we are fighting back, and winning." Patrick took a moment to let what she'd said sink in. This certainly explained why the Sarantos had been leaving him alone. was that also why they'd tried to kill him that last time? They thought he'd inform on them? They were idiots if they thought that, Patrick would never bring the cops into his private business. Then he remembered something that stole his breath. He went to the kitchen and sat down. "You'll never have to worry about your safety." Damian had told him, during that unnerving car ride. Had he made this happen? How could he? She said they'd been working on this for months, and the ride hadn't been that long ago. But it couldn't be a coincidence either, could it? He forced himself to calm down, pushed the disbelief aside so he could focus. Damian was rich, a quick online search had told him that. He owned so many companies he hadn't been able to read the entire page listing them. So, he had the finances to do something like that, but why have the commissioner say they had been working on it for months then? To make his involvement less obvious? He shook his head. This was something out of the novels he read. No one would spend that kind of money on him. It had to just be a coincidence. He looked up. God sure did work in mysterious ways. He made himself a sandwich and ate it on his way to the door. As he put his jacket on he looked at the frame, on the table by the door, of his mother and 'father'. He didn't feel the ache he used to when looking at it. The wonder about what it would be like to have a father was a memory. He wondered why she kept it here, now that the lie had been exposed. Was she trying to keep it going? or was it simpler, she'd grown used to the idea of the family they represented. The family she dreamed they had been? were? He didn't have to imagine anymore, he had a father, well, two. That was confusing. He hoped that in time he could get himself to do see them again. Even with them being... the way they were. He wanted them to be part of his family. Now that he had a father, he didn't want to never see him. His mother didn't have that. he didn't know if she'd ever be able to accept them as his father. So she kept her illusory family alive with the pictures. He found he didn't blame her for that.
  11. Kindar

    Chapter 18

    The Missing Son 18 When Patrick entered the kitchen, his mother was in the middle of eating her cereal. He made sure there was enough milk in the fridge before filling himself a bowl. "Mom, about the other day," He started, sitting down. "I told you last night, you don't have to worry about them anymore. They said what they had to say and they aren't going to bother us anymore." "Look, that's not what I mean. I..." "Shit, I'm going to be late." She emptied her bowl in the sink. She kissed the top of his head. "Don't worry about the dishes, I'll do them when I get back from work." And she rushed out. He looked at the clock on the stove, it wasn't even seven. His mother normally didn't leave for the bus until seven fifteen. Her transparent attempt at dodging the issue annoyed him. When she came back from work that evening he tried again. "Mom, can we talk?" "I'm sorry Patrick, I'm just too tired. I had a difficult day. I'm going to take a nap, and we can talk later." Her nap stretched through the night. The next two days, he didn't see her, Don needed him at the bar due of being booked for a party on both night, which meant he got home late and She was gone to work by the time he woke up. He tried again when they ate dinner, and she waved his attempt aside. It took all his will power not to scream at her. He realized she was determined not to talk about his father's visit. He could continue pushing and get angry at her, he'd probably snap at some point and say something hurtful, or he could drop it for now and wait until she was in a more receptive mood. After a week he didn't even want to talk to her. Anytime he thought about talking to her about his father's visit, he could imagine her waving it aside and he'd get angry. So, he didn't. He didn't want to be angry her, but he couldn't seem to stop himself, so he did his best to avoid her. If that wasn't enough, as time passed he realized he watched guys more and more. No, he wasn't just watching them. that wasn't right, he'd always watched guys, but now he was studying them. They had been right when they said he'd been turned on seeing naked guys in the locker room. Because of that anytime he watched a guy he didn't let himself look to close, he glossed over them. Now he was paying attention to them. Often, he caught himself looking at them closely. Their arms, legs, ass, and especially their crotch. Fuck, why couldn't he stop looking at guys. He thought he was tantalized because they were covered up. So, he went online that night, after his mom went to bed, and looked at pictures of naked men. He was shaking as he watched them, breathing hard, panting and, he suddenly realized, hard. He shut down the computer and took a cold shower. It didn't help, so he prayed. He forced himself to pray until he wasn't erect anymore. After that he went to bed and prayed until he fell asleep. He woke up with morning wood, like most mornings, and was under the shower, in the process of taking care of it when he realized that instead of just focusing on the sensation, like he'd always done, he was now seeing images of the naked men. With a curse he let go of himself, feeling guilty. He hadn't felt guilt over masturbating since he read up on it at fourteen and realized it was just a biological need and nothing more. But now because he'd looked at those pictures they kept coming back anytime he thought about taking care of himself. He finished his shower quickly, scrubbing himself down harshly, he preferred feeling pain to allowing those images to affect him. His fur felt raw once he had dried off and dressed, then he headed directly out to look for work. He had to stay busy and keep his mind occupied. Not for the first time he wondered where the Sarantos were, he hadn't seen any of them for more than two weeks, that rabbit had been the last time. He supposed it was how things went, when he could use them to vent his anger on they were nowhere to be found, but the moment he'd want some peace and quiet they were going to jump him. He didn't have any luck finding work. His near constant growling didn't help, but he couldn't stop it. The anger was directed at himself and he didn't know how to let it go. He should never have looked at those pictures. When he got home, his mom had already left, and there was a message from Joey asking him to come in the morning. Relieved he would have something to do he ate and tried to read. It didn't go well, but he forced it until he fell asleep * * * * * Patrick arrived at the junkyard in a bad mood because his morning hadn't gone any better than the previous one. Fortunately, three pickups were already there dumping appliances and various other household items in the sorting area. He greeted Joey with a grunt and set to work, picking up the heaviest items he could lift and carrying them to their designated areas. He thought that this would tire him enough he would stop thinking about his situation, but each time he came back to the sorting pile, the guys from the pickups were there too, and he couldn't help watching them. They were Cervids, elks, or maybe caribous, he couldn't tell, The four of them obviously related, with the eldest in his forties, then one in his mid-twenties, low twenties and the youngest probably eighteen. They got along, joking and ribbing each other. At one point the father and the youngest got into a friendly tussle and Patrick stared at them, envying their closeness. He grabbed a fridge and lifted it over his head, moving fast to avoid being toppled over by its unbalanced weight, all the while cursing his mother for robbing him of his chance to experience that closeness with his father. What right did she have to keep that from him while he was growing up. He reached the area where it went and threw it against the others with a scream instead of putting it down. A few of them tipped over. He cursed and got them upright again, forcing himself to remember his mother had done the best she could, the best she knew how to do. It still hurt. When he went back for the next item one of the pickups was gone, and only the guy in his mid-twenties and the eighteen-year-old one were there, trying to move a large industrial oven off the truck's bed. Patrick rushed to them as it started tipping over and the young elk got a panicked look as he tried to support it. Patrick put his back against it and braced his feet, feeling the strain as he took more of the weight. His feet slipped a little then he wasn't moving, and neither was the stove. He glanced to the elk who now had his shoulder against it. "Shit! Matt, you okay?" The one on the truck said. "Yeah, the tiger who works here his helping support it." "Oh thank God. I was scared you'd be crushed." "How the fuck do you think I feel?" the elk next to him grumbled. "Now what?" he asked. "I don't know, can the two of you push it back on the truck?" The elk looked at Patrick, who shook his head. "I'd need to move to get enough leverage," Patrick said, "And if I move I'm not going to be able to hold it up." "If I let go can you hold the weight? I can go get something to brace it." "No!" Patrick said. "If you're pulling your weight, keep at it, we're holding as much as we can. Don't let go." He looked at the office, he thought he could see movement in there. "Joey!" He roared. A moment later the bulldog ran out of the building. "What the fuck's going on?" "This thing almost tipped over and crushed this guy." "Then why the hell are you both still under it?" "Didn't know how valuable it was." "Fuck that, it's certainly not worth more than either of you." Patrick nodded. "Okay, on my mark we get out from under it." The elk nodded and Patrick counted down. As one they threw themselves away, and the other elk yelled in horror as the stove came crashing down. Patrick coughed in the dust cloud and waiting for it to clear before getting to his feet. The entire time the older elk was yelling Matt's name. "I'm fine!" Matt finally replied, then had a coughing fit. "Thank God, I heard conversation, but I couldn't make it out." "Sorry," Patrick said, rolling his shoulders. "I didn't think to warn you." "Hey, you have nothing to apologize for, if not for you my baby brother would have been crushed." "You guys are going to be okay?" Joey asked. "I'm fine," Matt replied. "Okay, I'll go get the loader so I can move that." With that the bulldog left them. Patrick leaned against the stove. Matt and his brother joined him, resting on each side of him. "Thanks," The elk said, shaking his hand. "Without you I'd be dead. I mean it, you saved my life." Patrick shrugged. "Don't worry about it, I'm just happy I was able to get under it in time." The older elk put an arm over Patrick's shoulders. "Hey you saved my brother, that means I owe you, big time." "Yeah, me too." Matt got closer and squeezed Patrick's thigh. "That's Jeff by the way." Patrick didn't know what to say, momentarily overwhelmed by their closeness. Even with a bit of dust in the air they smelled good, manly, and their closeness made him tingle. "Whatever we can do to thank you just say it," Jeff said. "Me and Matt always repay our debts." Patrick smiled, it wasn't often he dealt with people who looked forward to repaying their debts. But then he noticed the hand on his leg, the arm over his shoulders, their closeness. Had Jeff whispered that last part? Oh fuck. The image of the three of them, naked on the bed of the truck formed in his mind, and he found that he wanted it. He shoved them away. "Fuck no!" "What?" Patrick put some distances between him and them. "Look," Jeff started. "No! I don't fucking care what you think you're going to do. I don't want any part of it." "What's the problem?" Matt asked. "Jeff and me just want to thank you." he put a hand on Patrick arms and the tiger jerked away. "Don't you people get that I said no?" he growled. "Now leave me the fuck alone." He grabbed a washing machine and dragged it away. The gall of these people, just because they were fags they thought everyone wanted to have sex with them, well, he wasn't like that. He wouldn't be like that. He screamed trying to drown the voice in his head calling him a liar and threw the machine as far as he could. It fell among windows to the sound of breaking glass. He grabbed a crowbar someone left leaning again a post and Slammed in the closest object, a patio door. He broke anything with reach, yelling the entire time. He Didn't want to be a fag. He was following the Path, he would stay on it no matter the temptations. He wasn't going to let people like them lead him astray. he wasn't going to let someone like his father do the same. "Patrick!" Patrick turned, crowbar in the air and stopped, looking at Joey standing before the loader. "Put the crowbar down," the bulldog growled. "What the fuck is going on with you?" "With me?" Patrick threw the bar on the ground. "They're the ones pushing for me to have sex with them." "What the fuck are you talking about?" "You weren't there. You didn't see them get close to me and whisper about how they were going to thank me." Joey stared at him in disbelief. "Of course, they're grateful, you literally saved that guy's life. But I can't believe they would blatantly offer to have sex with you." "You should have felt them, close to me, arms over me, I could see what we were going to do." Patrick paced and growled. Joey watched him silently for a moment. "Right. you could see it. And you wanted nothing to do with it?" "Of course not!" Patrick glared at him. The bulldog stared back. "Bullshit." Patrick made fists. "Are you calling me a fag?" "Are you?" Patrick took a step toward Joey. "Don't you dare call me that." "Or what? You're going to hit me? Pound me until you feel all macho and tough?" Patrick took another step, but staggered a little, like the words hit him physically. He looked at his fists and then at Joey, confused. "Fuck Pat, you're acting like it's nineteen eighty and being gay is a problem. It's twenty forty-three, for God's sake." "That's the fucking problem. I don't want to go to Hell, but God's already damned me." "Pat, I'm pretty sure God doesn't work that way." "How the fuck would you know? you don't believe in Him." "And you wonder why? Who the fuck follows a god who decided you're already going to Hell even though you haven't done anything wrong?" Joey closed his eyes and calmed himself before continuing. "You're part of a church, do talk to them." Patrick laughed. "Right, because the guy who preaches every week about how God punishes anyone who sins is going to have a sympathetic ear for a sinner like me." "Then go to another fucking church," Joey growled. "Fuck Pat, You need to deal with this. I can't have you here if you're going to be this angry. You just destroyed a couple hundred dollar in doors and windows, so go home." "I can't go home, I don't want to be around that woman." "Then go somewhere else!" Joey cursed quietly. "Pat, go home, find a way to deal with this, because you are becoming a danger to yourself." "Fine!" Patrick grabbed his jacket and ran out of the yard. He hated himself for having talked to Joey like that. The man had never been anything but understanding and helpful, and he'd almost punched him. He ran as fast as he could. Since there was no Sarantos around on whom he could unleash his anger he needed to do something else to burn it off. He pushed himself hard and ran right by his house. He kept going. he didn't slow down when his body screamed for him to stop. he turned around and ran home. When he got there he hurt, but he was too tired to be angry. He took a quick shower and put on an old pair of shorts, old sweatpants that had been repaired often and then turned into shorts. the elastic was dead so he used and old belt he'd found a few years ago, it had been belonged to his father, and it had helped him feel closer to him. He stopped as he realized it hadn't belonged to him. He expected to be angry at the reminded of the lie, but he was too tired. He sat in front of the computer and turned it on. It was old, His mother had bought it when he was nine because the city started offering free internet access. He'd been so happy, He'd envisioned himself playing all the games his friends were playing, but that hadn't happened, He'd forgotten that he didn't have much free time, being busy with taking care of the house while his mother worked two and something three jobs to pay the bills. Now the computer was just too old to play them. He could barely handle the newer version of the browser as he started looking around idly. He wasn't sure why he was online, but then typed 'gay church' in the search bar.
  12. Kindar

    Chapter 16

    The Missing Son 16 "Mister Calmander is here to see you Mister Orr," Alice said on the intercom. Just on time. Damian liked that about his acquisition officer. "Show him in, Alice." The bull entered. Today he was dressed in a sharp Hermmione suit in a dark green that flattered him. Damian did note that it was a little tight around the waist. Jeremy wasn't keeping up with his exercise regimen. Damian stood and extended his hand, "Ah, Jeremy, where do we stand?" Jeremy shook the hand and handed Damian a folder. "The managerial reorganization is proceeding well," the bull said. Damian looked through the list of names while he continued. "We've identified those who just do the bare minimum to keep their jobs and we're looking for the best positions to promote them to. We expect that within a month of their promotions they will be so overwhelmed they will either quit or fail in such a spectacular way we'll be able to fire them." Damian found the one he was looking for, closed the folder and sat. "Good. How about the rest of the employee restructuring?" Jeremy followed his example. "We want to wait until the management situation has calmed down. A month at the most, then we'll inform the employees of the takeover." The bull paused, and Damian could read the coming question on his face. "Sir, why are we doing this?" "It's a good factory. With a few upgrades we should be able to increase productivity." Damian answered casually, knowing that wasn't what Jeremy meant. "People will always need mattresses, Jeremy." He'd learned quite young that people became very uncomfortable around him if he was too perceptive. "Yes sir, I know that. I mean the company paid employee training. That's going to cost us millions and all that's going to do is let them get paid not to work. I can guarantee that none of them are going to bother learning anything." "Really, Jeremy? So tell me, why do you think all those people are poor and stuck working what is basically a dead end job?" Jeremy talked and Damian listened, but didn't pay attention. He has bags under his eyes, not sleeping well. His suit is wrinkled, and smells like it's his second day in it. Not going home? Fiddling with his wedding band. He's been married for twenty years. So it's because it's troubling him. yes, problems at home. He doesn't realize he's pulling on it, but he hasn't taken it off. He's thinking about toughing it out. "So, if I understand," Damian said once Jeremy was done. "You feel that they are where they are because they don't work hard enough. they are lazy and deserves to be where they are." Jeremy nodded. "I see. So tell me, if your marriage were to fail-" "What's my marriage got to do with this?" Jeremy interrupted. Damian's only reaction was surprise. He's getting flustered. He sees my comment as an attack. "Excuse me? I was just throwing a theoretical scenario out there." He paused. "You're married? I didn't know." Jeremy nodded. And he's calm again. with that he believes I didn't know and meant nothing by it. His face showed none of the pleasure even such a small manipulation caused him. I need to find someone to let loose on. Jimmy is nice, but he no longer offers any challenge, and it isn't looking like I'll be taking Adam camping anytime soon. "So, if it were to fail, would it be entirely because you didn't try hard enough? Isn't it possible that some outside forces might be involved? Maybe your wife had an affair?" Jeremy just managed to stop himself from wincing That's what he suspects. "Maybe you did try had hard as you can, but she isn't willing to work with you to save the marriage." Jeremy had trouble keeping his worries off his face. Reluctantly he nodded. "Then, can't you accept that it's entirely possible these people." He tapped the folder. "Might be trying as hard as they can, but just have the deck stacked against them? Look Jeremy, I want to do this because educated employees are much more productive than uneducated ones. Yes, I'm certain that you're right, some of them will see this as a paid vacation, but those people will weed themselves out of the company in time. We're going to be left with people who can do their jobs better. even if they don't learn the skills needed to climb the corporate ladder, they will have skills that will let them improve how they do the work, which will help the factory be more productive. You'll see, this is going to help them, and in return it will help us." Jeremy stood, "Yes sir." He tried to hide it, but it was obvious to Damian he didn't believe him. Damian stood and shook his hand. That didn't matter, Jeremy was good at his job because he followed the plan and didn't let his personal prejudice interfere. Damian sat down once the bull was out of his office. Of course, what he'd said was total bullshit. Something he'd come up on the moment, a good, if long, sound bite. Good enough in fact he was going to condense it, print it and make sure is was distributed at the factory when the employees were informed of the takeover. Something to keep moral high and reassure them they weren't going to lose their jobs in the process. No, the fact that all these people were going to get an education out of this endeavor, a better life, was irrelevant. Only one name in that list mattered, not that he actually cared about her either, but Patrick did, even if he was angry with her at the moment. He hadn't lied to Patrick. A woman like her, steeped in the negative side of her religion, would never accept anything from someone like him. So he wasn't going to give her anything, he was going to set things up and see how far her hard work could take her. His eyes fell on the frame on his desk. It only had three pictures in its memory. one was a picture of him and his brothers, taken when Damian turned twenty one. The other of his nephews, taken on their sixteenth birthday. But the one that always showed was of him and his father. The way things were going he would have to add a fourth one, since it didn't look like Patrick was going to pose for a picture with his brothers any time soon. The one he was looking at was of Damian and his father. He was five, seated on Brian's lap, they were waving at the camera. His smile looked fake, he hadn't perfected how to smile at that age. He didn't keep this picture because it engendered some emotional response. He had it because he had wanted a picture of his father and this one perfectly exemplified what he meant to him. What wasn't visible in the picture was that Brian was whispering to him, explaining why they were waving, why they smiled, helping him behave normally. He smiled at the picture, a smile that could fool anyone, even if it was just an act he put on. Not for the first time, he considered what his life might have turn out like if he hadn't looked in on him that last time.
  13. Kindar

    Chapter 19

    The Missing Son 19 He didn't know what to think. He had no idea there were so many different churches. Sure, he knew about the Presbyterians, the Anglicans, the Jesuits, but the Church of Jesus the Lover? Who claimed that Jesus had been gay. The Church of the Strong, who had Jesus as a lion. And there were others, who didn't claim anything quite so extreme, but who's views on God and how He expected us to stay on the Path varied greatly. He'd always only known his Church, and Father Durony. They'd had visiting priests, but they had espoused the same things Father Durony had. For a moment he didn't know what to think. Had someone else lied to him? Had a priest led him astray? But no, Father Durony had never claimed his was the only Church, he'd never said anything about other churches, Patrick had just assumed they were all the same. He spent hours being amazed at the variety of thoughts out there on God, and how so few of them actually preached an angry God. By the time he fell asleep his head was swimming with various images of God and Jesus. He dreamed of floating, of being held with love by someone he couldn't see but felt familiar. Strong arm, solid chest, deep soothing voice. He didn't know that person, and yet there was a sense of familiarity to him. For the first time in a few weeks, Patrick woke up without feeling like his mind had betrayed him in the night. he quickly got dressed and set the table for breakfast. "Morning mom," he said as she entered. "Good morning Patrick." She sat and he placed two cups of coffee on the table. "How late did you come in? I didn't see you when I got home." "I was already in bed. I was exhausted when I got home and crashed. I haven't been sleeping well recently and it caught up to me yesterday." She looked at him with concern. "Is it anything I can help with? You know you can always talk to me." He smiled and shook his head. "It's okay. I'm working it out." He didn't want to bring it up. He realized that as much as she wanted to help him, his father was a subject she didn't want to deal with, so he was going to drop it. Joey had been right. he needed to find someone else to talk with, and now that he knew not all Churches were as restrictive as the one he'd been going to, he thought he could find someone who would listen to him and not pass immediate judgment. It was a pleasant meal, with his mother talking about the people in the factory and at the diner. She got into the story so much he had to point out she'd miss her bus if she didn't get going. She smiled at him, an expression he saw rarely because of how exhausting her jobs were and hugged him before heading out. He looked online for an hour, searching for a Church that was close enough he could go to it and suited his needs. He didn't want one that would just validate his view. He wanted genuine Church views, but without the fire and the anger. He hadn't found it, but he'd eliminated a lot of them by the time he called the junkyard. "Joey's Junk." "Hey Joey, it's Patrick." There was a moment of silence. "How are you doing?" Joey's tone was guarded. "Better. Thanks for sending me home and telling me to find someone to talk to. I haven't yet, but I'm looking and I think I'm on the right track." "I'm glad to heard that." "Look, I called to say I'm sorry for how I behaved. I had no excuses, and I'll work off the damage I caused." "Don't worry about it, just focus on working through your issues." "No, Joey, I'm serious, figure out how much you could have made off the stuff and I'll work all of it off." "Alright, we'll figure out something." "Thanks." "So, do you think you can work this week? I'm expecting the same guys as yesterday to be back tomorrow. I could use a hand." The elks. Patrick's breathing sped up in worry. Did he really want to see them again? No, of course not, he'd acted like an asshole. They probably didn't think much of him, but he owe them an apology too. "I'll be there." He disconnected and felt better. he'd worried Joey wouldn't want him to work for him anymore. Losing the money would have hurt, but loosing Joey's friendship would have been worse. He went back to his search, spending the day sifting through information. By the time he started on dinner he had a headache, but he had the address for St-Benedict's Church. He'd read their blog and they had balanced opinions. They didn't excuse everything like some of those Churches who tried to be 'all inclusive'. They gave well thought out opinions on where they felt God stood on different topics. It also helped it was only a few hours walk from the house. * * * * * Patrick watched the pickups backup, the beds filled with more large households items. The four elks got out and the two brothers exchanged a glance on noticing him. Patrick didn't give himself time to worry about it. he went to them. "Matt, Jeff, I'm sorry for how I behaved." The father looked at the three of them over the truck. "We'll be there in a minute, dad," Jeff said, then looked at the tiger. "What happened? You seemed fine one moment and then you flew off the handle." Patrick nodded. "Yeah, I was working very hard at not dealing with some stuff. That and what you said sent my paranoia flying. I've started dealing with it." Matt slapped Patrick's shoulder. "Man, I'm glad to hear that, you kind of freaked me out." "Yeah, sorry. It won't happen again. How about we get to it." "Sure," Jeff said, "And we don't have anything that big, so there isn't any chance I'll accidentally kill my little brother this time." They worked in good humor, and the rest of the day went well. At the end Joey tried to pay him. Patrick refused, and they ended up agreeing on half of it. While preparing dinner Don called him and asked him to come in. There was going to be a party at the bar and he needed him to help keep things under control. Patrick was more than happy to help him out. He and his mom could use any extra money.
  14. Kindar

    Chapter 17

    The Missing Son 17 The call had reached him while he was going through the monthly expenses of the security agency he'd bought the year before, just to have something to do. The company had been a mess of illegal operations committed by employees wanted across multiple continents. "Damian," Dominic was crying. "There's been an accident, Dad's hurt bad." "Alright," Damian answered, comparing two pages, money was still disappearing. "Damian, please, listen to me, Dad's hurt. He's at the Memorial, you have to come." "Why?" There was a loud sigh. Of all his brothers Dominic was the one who knew how best to deal with Damian's detached attitude, not that it meant he didn't dislike him as much as everyone else. "He's your father too. He'd want to see you. You can act like you care about him, can't you?" Damian considered telling his brother he had more important things to deal with right now, like an embezzler. but something in Dominic's tone made him pause. "Just how badly is he hurt?" "Pretty bad. I don't know the details, they just took him out of the operating room and he's resting. All the doctor will tell me is that it's serious." Brian would understand if he didn't show, and Damian didn't care what his brothers thought about him, but still, as his son, he would be expected to put in an appearance. "Alright, I'm on my way." "Thank you." * * * * * When he reached the waiting room everyone was there, even his uncles, Bobby and Byron, they were holding each other, crying. Dietrich was in sweatpants and a jacket over his bare chest. He must have been competing close by to make it here this quickly. Dominic hugged him, still crying, and Damian hugged him back. "How is he?" Dominic dried his eyes. "I don't know. The doctor hasn't been back since I called you and the nurse won't let us in to talk with dad." "Why?" Dominic shrugged. "Okay, I'll deal with him, but first what exactly happened?" Dominic breathed in. "I was at the garage, seeing Harry. We'd finished fucking in Dad's office and were just talking in the afterglow when we heard metal break and crash to the floor. We rushed out and one of the lift had broken and the car fell on dad. I called 911 while the others got the car off him." "What was he doing on the floor?" Damian asked. Brian owned the garage, he had twenty employees, he had no business standing anywhere near one of the cars. "You know dad. He loves working on cars. Fuck I should have been keeping an eye on him instead of having fun with Harry." Damian agreed with his brother but didn't say it. He could see it wouldn't change anything, and to say it would hurt him. He'd promised not to hurt his brothers. "What happened next?" "They're raised the car off him by the time the ambulance arrived but we didn't dare move him. He was in bad shape, bleeding a lot, but he was breathing. I rode in the ambulance with him and they took him directly to operate on him. I was so out of it that I didn't think to call anyone. Someone from the garage called Donny. When he and Danny showed up that's when I thought to call you." "Okay, you go sit down, I'll go see him and let you know how he's doing." Dominic crumbled in the nearest chair. Damian stepped to the nurse, a tall gorilla, Silverback, by the gray poking out of the back of his uniform. He stepped in front of the door as Damian reached him and crossed his arms over his chest. "No one's going in." He stated. "That is my father." "I don't care. the doc said he needs rest. No one's seeing him for a few hours." Damian smiled at him. "You are going to let me in." The gorilla returned the smile but bared his teeth. "If I didn't let in that wall of muscle over there, what makes you think I'm going to let you in?" Damian quickly went through what he'd noticed on his way. wedding band, married, well groomed, she takes care of him, but he looks haggard, he has children, young. Damian dropped the smile. "How many children do you have?" The question took the nurse by surprise and he took a moment before answering. "Three." "The oldest, four years old?" "Four and a half." Damian nodded. The look was the same as he remembered on Brian's face while he was trying to keep up with him, Dietrich, Donald and Daniel. "I take it you love your children, and your wife?" "Or course." "Good." Damian looked at his watch. "If you don't let me into the room so I can see my father within the next five minutes, I am going to leave the hospital and drive to your house. Since you have three children and make good money here your wife is at home. You will warn her that I'm coming, but that isn't going to help her. I am going to subdue her, tie her down and then slowly cut up your children in front of her." "Are you fucking threatening me?" the gorilla growled. Damian got in his face. he didn't have to work at making his expression menacing. Dominic had told him that his neutral expression looked like he was a stone-cold killer. "No," Damian stated quietly, "I am threatening your family. You, I will leave here to suffer in the knowledge that you could have saved them." Damian saw the rage flourish in the gorilla's face. "If you lay one hand on me, I will break all your limbs, then I will see my father, and then, I will go visit your family. Think very carefully about what you do next." The anger was replaced by confusion. The gorilla looked at Damian, then around, back at him, the confusion was gone now, replaced by fear. He stepped aside. Damian entered the room. He was assaulted by the smell of disinfectant and the sound of the machines helping Brian stay alive. What wasn't covered by a thin sheet of bandages had been shaved. They had reset both the legs, pins were holding them in place, as was one arm. By the type of brace holding the other arm in place that one had been crushed. Brian's breathing was labored even with the machine's help. His lungs weren't working right. He took the chart and read it. The spine was broken in three places. The operation had been to realigned it and reattach the nerves. Now they could only hope it had been done early enough they would fuse properly. He read the rest of the notes and comments on what else they had found during the operation. He had read the entire medical library out of boredom during his first year at the university, so he understood what the expressions used meant. He'd taken psychology and that had proved so easy he'd gone there looking for something more challenging to read. It didn't look good. Damian felt something at the realization Brian wasn't going to make it out of the hospital alive. It surprised him, because he didn't love his father. He'd never felt anything but respect for this man who had raised him without fear. The only person who had known him and not been afraid of him. For all that they did love him, his brothers were afraid of him. He didn't hold it against them, they were right to be afraid. But Brian didn't. He had seen concern in that man's eyes, worry at time, love often, he could recognize the emotion even if he didn't feel it, but never fear. And Damian was now realizing that meant something to him. "Hey dad," he whispered, standing next to the bed and calling him the way Brian wanted to be called, the one that made him feel like Damian cared for him, even if he knew it was a lie. "Damian," Brian croaked, his voice weak. "How bad?" "Very bad Dad." Brian was silent for a moment. "I'm not making it, am I?" Damian didn't answer immediately. Was this one of those time when it was better to lie? Could he lie to his man? They had promised they would never lie to each other, and Brian had kept up his end. "No, Dad, you're not going to make it." Brian nodded weakly. "Damian, promise me something. Promise you'll look after our family." "I will, dad." Brian turned his head in obvious pain. "Promise me." Damian didn't want to make another promise. He didn't want to bind himself to something as long ranging as that. But Brian knew him too well. He continued looking at him despite the pain. Damian could walk out, He didn't have to say anything. But he owed this man too much. "I promise." Brian let his head settle back. "Thank you. And try not to hurt too many people." "I'll try." At least Brian hadn't made him promise that. He'd promised not to hurt his brothers when he was four, to only hurt people who deserved it two years after that. Another promise like that would have been troublesome. "I think I'm doing to sleep now." "Alright dad." Damian turned to leave, then stopped. He came back and kissed Brian on the forehead. This was the proper son to father behavior in this situation, wasn't it? The gorilla eyed him wearily and Damian smiled at him. "How is he?" Dominic asked, Dietrich and Daniel a step behind him. Donald was seated on the couch, looking after their children, who at eight seemed to be taking it better than the adults, but it was their second death in only a little more than a year. They might have been inured to this by their great grand father's death. Damian only shrugged, before sitting in the first seat he saw. He'd never promised to be truthful to them, and he expected they would be more comfortable believing there was hope. He had to think. If he was going to take care of the family he needed to change his plans. The security company couldn't accommodate what was needed. It would still play a part, but now he needed something larger. To accomplish what Brian asked of him he needed more money, more power. It would have to be a multinational. He couldn't limit his action to a local arena, he was going to have to remake the world. While he thought, he was aware of a code blue in Brian's room. His brothers expressing concern, then relief. They argued, blamed each other for the situation. Sometime later there was a second code blue. Doctors rushed in. There was furious activity in Brian's room, then it was silent. He looked up when he noticed the mass of people leaving the room, and his brothers and uncles entering it. He checked his watch, twelve hours since he'd sat down. He went to the door and looked in. Dominic, who was on the other side of the bed noticed him. "He's gone," was all he said. Damian nodded, looked at the others, who were focused on Brian, and left. He didn't care what people thought. Let them think he was overwhelmed by Brian's death and couldn't tolerate staying here. Brian was dead, there was no reason for him to stay, it was that simple. He had more important things to do. He had to set plans in motion to ensure his family's survival. * * * * * He put the frame back on his desk. Things would have been different if he hadn't made that promise, but they certainly wouldn't have been quite this interesting. "Mister Orr?" Alice called. "Your three O'clock is here." "Thank you, Alice, send Mister Hammer in." Damian leaned back in his chair and watched the fox cross the space to his desk. He still walked wearily, as if at any moment Damian might jump out an attack him. Damian was amused at the reaction, After six interview the man should know he had nothing to fear. Although, Damian supposed, the things he had learned during those conversations could make a less rational man uncomfortable. "So, Nicolas," Damian said once the man was seated. "What do you want to cover in this session." The fox took out his recorder and placed on the desk. He didn't immediately say anything. Damian could see him weigh how badly he wanted answers. Finally Nicolas' face took on a professional air. "Last week, you mentioned you had some sort of interaction with Bannerson Pharmaceutical. I'd like you to go into details about what happened. Damian smiled at his biographer. That had been such a good time. "It started when Bannerson bought farm land out from under me."
  15. Kindar

    Chapter 15

    The Missing Son 15 He'd reached the main road, then gone a few blocks before he started shaking. Fuck, he shouldn't have come here. Why couldn't they have left him alone? He would have happily gone on thinking he was the son of a war hero. Now he was going to have watch what he did and thought all the time so he would remain on the Path. He looked up again, but there was too much light here, he couldn't see the stars. Why did life have to be so complicated? Isn't my life miserable enough, God? I'm doing everything I can to be a good person, why do you keep piling the crap on top of me? He sighed. "Sorry, that isn't fair to you. I know you haven't made me Job. You aren't testing me. It just... Some time it doesn't feel fair." He realized the car had been pacing him for a time. he wasn't worried, he'd have time to get out of the way if it swerved on the sidewalk, and if the driver got out he was going to beat the crap out of him. "Hop in, kid. I'll give you a ride." Patrick didn't look at the person in the car, although he had a sense he was leaning in the passenger side to talk to him "No thanks. I'm just going to the bus stop." "Really? How are you going to pay the fare?" "Fine, I'll walk then." Was the way he was dressed so telling any stranger knew he didn't have any money? "I don't get into some stranger's car." "Kid, I'm not a stranger, I'm your uncle. Now get in. I'm taking you home." Patrick stopped and turned to look at him. the car stopped too and the tiger straightened back in the driver's seat. The door clicked and opened. It was a gray sedan, it looked expensive. The driver leaned toward him again when Patrick didn't move and pierced him with his cold gray blue eyes. "Patrick," he said in measured tones. "Get in the fucking car." Patrick blinked, he was seated in the car and it was in motion. He looked at the driver trying to understand what had just happened. The tiger looked to be the same age as the men in that house. Was he really his uncle? "Who are you?" "My name is Damian." "And you're my uncle?" He nodded. "And you were just waiting there, waiting for me to leave so you could pick me up?" Was he like the others? If he was, he better not even think of trying anything. "Calm down, Patrick. I'm not going to do anything. I wasn't waiting for you, I was just coming over to visit my nephews and saw you leaving. You looked out of sort so I thought I'd give you a ride home. Considering how long it took you to realize I was there, you were out of it." "I'm not going home." "Yes you are. Your mother's been worrying herself to death since you left. You need to take better care of her you know. Not everyone's fortunate to still have his parents in his life." "Why the fuck do I care if she's worried? She didn't give a damn about me when she lied to me." "Most people lie, Patrick. That's how they are." "Do you?" Patrick asked without intending to. The tiger got a thoughtful expression and Patrick couldn't believe he had to think about it before answering. "Yeah, I guess I do, but always with good reasons. Not that you'd know what they are." "Fine. I still don't care. I'm not going home. I'll tell you where to drop me off when we get close to it." Damian didn't reply. he drove in silence for a minute, then he swerved the car into an mostly empty parking lot and stopped. Damian stared ahead for a moment. When he turned to look at Patrick his face was expressionless. his eyes had lost all the gray and were pale blue. They were cold and emotionless. They weren't looking at him, Patrick realized, they were looking through him. he swallowed and tried the handle. "Door's lock," Damian said in a flat tone. Patrick looked for a way to unlock it, but there weren't any buttons. He slammed his elbow in the glass and only got pain for his effort. "Bullet proof glass. You're not getting out of this car unless I let you." The tone, the words, they made Patrick shy back, trying to push himself as far from this man as he could. He remembered what he'd been told about the Orrs having eccentric tastes. He now realized that the few he'd heard might be nothing compared to some. "What are you going to do to me?" Patrick had told himself if this man tried anything he'd beat him up. Now he through he might not be able to do anything to stop him. The eyes blinked, and warmth seem to come back to them. Damian gave him a wry smile. "I'm going to explain a few things to you." He looked at him and the smile widened. "Relax kid. You have nothing to worry about. Not yet anyway." He thought of something and chuckled. "But one day someone's going to tell you about me and you're going to piss yourself remembering this meeting." He got the car moving. "When my father was on his deathbed he made me promise to look after my family. I take my promises extremely seriously. And to be clear, to me it isn't your last name that makes you family or not. It's your blood. So, no matter what you call yourself, you're an Orr. That means I'm going to take care of you." Patrick watched him drive for some time and wondered what he meant by that, but he didn't dare say anything and interrupt whatever thinking that tiger was doing. He'd gone up against multiple gang members over his life and something told him none of them had been anywhere near as dangerous as this man was. "And your mother," Damian said, as if he hadn't been thinking for some time. "She isn't blood, and normally she wouldn't matter, but you care for her, so I'm willing to make an exception, this one time." They drove in silence again. Maybe he'd imagine the danger coming from him. After all he said he'd take care of his mother too. Not that Patrick was sure she deserved it. "What do you mean by 'take care of me'?" He asked after a time, curiosity getting the best of him. "Are you going to shower me with money so I never have to work? Get my mom a house like the one Donald and Daniel have?" He realized he couldn't think of one of them without thinking of the other. Damian laughed, a cold mirthless laugh. "Your mother would spit on anything a fag like me might give her. No, I'm not going to give her anything." He was silent for a moment. "That's not how I work anyway. You need to make your own way in life. You don't appreciate it if you don't have to work for it." Patrick studied this man, his uncle for a moment. "What are you going to do then?" "I'm going to promise you something. I'm going to promise you'll never have to worry about your safety again." Patrick stared at him. "Yeah, I know about them. About how you got that scar." Reflexively Patrick put a hand over his bicep. How did he know about the gang? "They won't bother you again. I swear that to you." "How?" "How do I know? Or how can I promise that? The answer is the same for both questions. I know people. Which reminds me." He pulled a business card out of his breast pocket and handed it to him. The card was plain, with a diamond in the center of it. 'Diamond Industries' was written over it, and 'because diamonds are just coal under pressure' under. Patrick looked at it, read what it said a few times. "You do know that doesn't make any kind of sense, right?" Damian smiled. "Sure it does, kid." He glanced at him. "And something tells me that if anyone ever manages to figure it out, it's going to be you." Patrick stared at him. "Anyway, on the back is the number to my company's recruitment office. Give it to that friend of yours, the one who managed to give you my brothers' address. If he ever gets tired of shady deals and going hungry for weeks at a time, I'm always looking for talented people." "If you know so much about him, why aren't you making the offer in person?" "Come on Patrick, you can answer that yourself." "He doesn't know you from the serial killer down the block. I'm not sure I trust you myself." "That's very wise of you." Patrick was silent for a long time. Considering what this meant. He was offering Rich a job. He was looking for talented people. "You're not offering me a job, are you?" That made sense. No one wanted a dropout like him. Damian didn't reply immediately. "Do you want me to offer you one?" Patrick almost said yes. He'd do anything for a real job, a way to help his mother with the bills once and for all. Well, almost anything he thought as he remembered those eyes, blue and cold. What might it be like to work for a man with eyes like that. What things might he be required to do? He shook his head. "I think I'm going to make my own way." Damian smiled. "Another wise thing you've said." Patrick felt a smile creep up his muzzle. "Although I could use someone to pay my tuition for school" Damian snorted. "Don't look at me for that. that's what fathers are for." They were silent again, for the rest of the drive. When the car stopped Patrick realized they were in front of his mother's house. "How did you know where I live? I never told you." Another wry smile. "Who do you think gave your brothers your address? You go in, your mother's going to be relieve to see you." The door clicked and opened. Patrick stepped out and looked in, holding on to the door. "D... uncle Damian." The words felt strange coming out of his mouth, alien. He'd never had an uncle before. "Why am I scared of you?" His uncle gave him the brightest smile he'd ever seen, but it didn't comfort him, the smile didn't reach those eyes. "Because you are a wise young man, Patrick, very wise indeed." He motioned for him to close the door and drove off. Patrick watched the car pull away, then looked at this mother's house. There was light, so she wasn't at work. He stood there for some time, trying to figure out if he wanted to go in or not. No that was the wrong question, he didn't want to go. The question was, did his mother deserve to suffer for trying to protect him. He sighed, No, she didn't. "Patrick?" she called as soon as he closed the door. "Yes, mom, it's me." She rushed out of her room and hugged him. "Oh my God, I was so worried. You just walked out and I didn't know where you were. Please don't ever do that again. Where were you?" "I just stayed at friends." He didn't return the hug, but he didn't push her away, even if the urge was there. "Looks, about what happened." "It's okay, Patrick. Don't worry about it, those men are gone and they're never going to bother us again. You don't have to worry about them." Patrick almost told her this wasn't about them, but his anger was just waiting for an excuse to lash out at her, and he wouldn't let that happen. He gave himself long enough for his temper to quiet down. "Mom, you're working tomorrow, you should go to bed, I'm okay. I'm not leaving." She looked at him, her eyes were wet. She wiped them. "I'm sorry, I was just so worried they might have taken you away from me." His anger flared. They aren't interested in taking me away. you're the one determined to keep me away from them. But she'd already turned away, so she didn't see the snarl on his face. He headed to the kitchen for a glass of water and to calm himself. It wasn't her fault, he told himself, she grew up in a different time, her parents were pretty stern, not that he got to know them, It had always just been him and her. He wondered if he had grandparents now. Were is father's parents alive? He couldn't excuse her attitude. She'd raised him the same way she was raised, and he was over coming it, wasn't he? He'd gone to see them, asked questions, gotten to know them. And screamed at them before rushing out because what they said made him uncomfortable. How could he be so angry all the time when he was trying to follow the Path, while they seem perfectly happy living in sin? He should ask Father Durony next Sunday. Maybe stepping off the Path, deciding you weren't going to even try to reach Eden again meant you didn't worry about anything else. Was that kind of bliss worth going to Hell? Fuck, he had to stop thinking about that, he was going to give himself nightmares. He drank two glasses of water and headed to his room. He dressed down to his underwear to sleep and lay down. Seeing the frame with the picture of the man he had thought was his father for all his life, he shoved it in the drawer of his side table.
  16. Kindar

    Chapter 14

    The Missing Son 14 Patrick got off the bus, looked around and wondered where he was. This didn't look like the San Francisco he knew. Sure, he knew Old San Jose was where the rich folks lived, but this... He was standing next to an eight-foot wall made of white stone. On the other side of the road was a similar wall, with trees behind it, and in the distance a house. A large house. The people on the side walk were looking at him and he didn't blame them. Fuck, he should just turn around and go back, he had no business being in this part of the city. If he had enough money he'd get on the next bus and do just that. As it was he might as well see this through before walking home. The street he wanted was the next one, and it slowly wound up the hill. After the first one, the houses we no longer walled, but they were all very large and the one with the bright red wall with purple... waves? and yellow awning was rather gaudy. How could he be related to anyone living here? The number he was looking for was on a post next to a driveway winding further along. Next to it was a path, which he took. It was lined with some bushes and purple flowers. He looked up from the flora and stopped. He'd called the buildings he saw on his way here houses, but standing close he now realized how wrong he'd been, this was a mansion. His mom's house could probably fit twenty times in it. Just who the fuck was his father to live in a place like this? The driveway led to the garage, partially inside the hill. He stared at the door. It was bigger than his house, how many cars did they have? And why wasn't this place gated to keep guys like him out of it? Above that and slightly recessed, was the two-story mansion in a tan color stucco. At least it wasn't as bright as some of the other houses, Patrick thought. Then realized how stupid that thought was. so, it wasn't brightly painted, it was nonetheless extravagant. Again, he considered turning around. This was a mistake, but since he'd already made it, no point in leaving now. He forced himself the rest of the way to the door, which was a deep red clay in color. He knocked, then noticed the buzzer. Maybe he should have used that instead? He waited for a moment and was about to press the button when the door opened. The smallest of the tigers who'd shown up at his door stood before him, mouth agape and eyes wide. Patrick didn't remember his name, but he thought he'd been the one to knock on his door. He was bare chested, and well built. Patrick's gaze lingered for a moment on this pecs and biceps before realized what he was doing and looked up at his face. his breathing had intensified, and he couldn't stop a though that the short guy was pretty good looking. He smelled sweaty and wore only sweat pants. Patrick hadn't realized it the last time, but he was one of those dwarfs who was built proportional, he looked like a miniature person. "Hi," Patrick said in the stretching silence. The tiger closed his mouth. "Hey," he said in what sounded like a forced conversational tone. "I'm Patrick, you and your brothers came to my place the other night." The small tiger nodded. "I remember." "Is your dad here?" The guy nodded, took a deep breath and yelled. "Dad! Patrick's here!" Patrick winced and took a step back. For such a small guy he had one Hell (sorry) of a pair of lungs on him. Once his ears stopped ringing he thought he heard people moving about further in the house. Not long after that a man showed up. He too was only wearing sweat pants and smelled sweaty, but there was something else mixed in that scent. Patrick didn't know what it was but his heart started racing. He forced himself not to look at the well-defined biceps and abs. "Thanks Arthur," the man said. He had to be in his forties, but he looked good for an old man. What the fuck was he thinking? Patrick wanted to run away. This was the worst mistake he'd ever made. The man ruffled Arthur's hair and sent him back. then he moved out of Patrick's way. Patrick looked at the large hallway behind them and felt like this was the cave leading to the dragon that would threaten to eat him. Get a grip, he told himself. This isn't a fantasy novel. And even if it was, the dragon always holds answers. And regardless of anything else, he wanted answers, didn't he? The dark cave, he realized what this was. the place where everything changed for the stories' main character. Would things really change for him if he crossed that threshold? It wasn't just the obvious wealth. These were f... what they were and they acted like it was the most normal thing to be. They claimed he was like them. Would going in confirm that? "Are you okay?" the man asked. Patrick realized he'd been fixed in place for some time. He'd made the journey, crossed the wild land to come here. He entered. "Should I take my shoes off?" he asked. The floor was black, polished to the point he could see his reflection in it. The walls were off white, slightly gray maybe? At least it didn't feel harsh against the black floor. There was a mirror on the wall in a gold frame, over a small table. At this point, he figured the frame was actual gold and promised himself he wasn't going to touch it. he should probably avoid touching anything, if he broke something he'd never be able to pay it back. "Only if you want to. Don't worry about getting stuff dirty. We have seven kids, nothing stays clean long in here." Patrick eyed the shiny floor and had trouble believing him. they probably had an army of people keeping this place clean. "If you want to take off your jacket the closet is over there." He pointed to the opposite wall. There was a polished wood door, it had to be solid wood, not the wanna-be stuff the closet doors in his mother's house were made out of. Should he leave his jacket there? was he expected to leave all his close in there? "Is there a dress code or something?" "excuse me?" "You and Arthur are only wearing sweat pants. Is that how you dress here?" The man looked down at himself, as if he'd forgotten what he was wearing. "Oh, no. You just caught us...exercising. If you prefer I'll go put on something more appropriate." "Exercising? like the whole lot of you?" "Yes, it's a family tradition. We like to stay in shape. It looks like you do too." Patrick shrugged, he was muscular, sure, but it wasn't because he worked at it. Working at the junkyard took care of that, as did having to defend himself all the time. But that explained why they were sweaty. He put his jacket in the closet, and it looked like rags next to the others there. "Look, I don't want to offend you, but I don't know which one you are. I wasn't really paying attention when you, or the other one, said your names. I only remember one, are you Daniel?" "No, I'm Donald. And I understand. That meeting wasn't exactly smooth." Donald, so he was the one with the temper, Patrick thought, just like him. "That's certainly one way to say it." "How would you describe it?" Donald asked. Patrick thought about it for a moment. If he was back home he'd never think of using the kind of language that kept coming to his mind when he thought about it, but thinking back on Donald's behavior then he got the feeling he preferred honesty over proper language. "I'd call it a fucking load of shit, blowing up over everyone." Donald laughed. "That's certainly colorful. And don't worry about not being able to tell me and Daniel apart, no one can. Don't be afraid to ask who's who. The kids just call us dad so they don't have to worry about it, but I don't expect you to call us that." "I wasn't planning on it," Patrick replied, harsher than he'd intended. "I understand. How did you find the house?" "I know a guy who's good at finding stuff like that out. I gave him your number." He left it at that. They walked by what had to bed a living room, by the large couches, plush carpet and large entertainment center. Donald hadn't been kidding after all, the place was a mess, cushions all over the floor and one of the chair was tipped against another. A strong scent of artificial freshener came from the room, roses or something. "What happened there?" he asked. "Like I said, we have seven kids," was all Donald gave as an answer. not long after the opening to the living room was a stairwell going up, and after that the wall had frames with pictures in them. not photos, Patrick noted, art of some sort, bright art. They entered the dining room which, again, was larger than his house. At one end of the table, which could seat at least twenty people, was Daniel, with the seven kids seated close to him. "Grab a seat," Donald said and went to sit next to Daniel. Patrick didn't move, watching him. Donald had said no one could tell the two of them apart, but Patrick hadn't believed him. No two tigers had the exact stripe patterns. You could always tell them apart on a subconscious level. You might not know what was different, but you knew they were. Now he looked from one to the other, and realized it was true. Not only couldn't he see any differences, but he felt like he was looking at the same person. He looked at the teens, their arms and chest, the patterns on their furs, the shape of their muscles, ears and muzzle, and he could easily tell them apart. And now he was breathing hard from looking at those bare chests so he focused on the table. Chestnut colored wood polished smooth with years of use. calmer he sat at the opposite end of the table. "I have questions," Patrick stated. "Feel free to ask them," Daniel replied. It was Daniel, right? He was pretty sure Donald had sat on the left. Did it matter? no, it didn't. he was delaying what he'd come here for. "First off, why do you even want me to be your kid? I mean, I'm poor, I live in the bad part of town. I won't exactly fit in here." "Hey, you can fit in anywhere you want to," one of the kids said. Donald and Daniel looked at one another and then Donald? spoke. "It isn't about us *wanting* you to be our son. You *are* our son. That you live here or not, and we don't expect you to, we are still your fathers, but I don't expect we'll ever be your family." "Actually, can you clear up something for me? Exactly which one of you is my father?" They shrugged in unison. "We don't know." "How can you not know?" "We both had sex with your mother, so there's no way to tell." Patrick noticed none of the kids displayed any of the discomfort he was feeling at hearing people talking about sex. "okay, but we can get a paternity test done." They smiled, and even that looked identical. "I don't think that is going to help," the other man said. How the fuck was he going to tell them apart? They hadn't move and he was getting a headache trying to figure out who was whom? "Of course, it will, everyone's DNA is different, so it'll tell us whose genes I got." "just like no two tigers ever has the same stripe patterns?" the other said. Patrick closed his eyes and massaged his forehead. Forget the names, it's the left one and the right one from now on. "I'm not saying we won't do it," the one on the right said, "We'll be happy to, but I don't think you'll get the results you're hoping for." Patrick looked at the other teens. "How do you deal with it?" "What's there to deal with?" said the one who had been in the minivan's passenger seat. Aaron maybe? or Albert? At least he could tell them apart. he'd just have to learn the names. "They're both our fathers, we don't care whose genes are in us." "So long as they are in us," someone said, softer, which elicited chuckles from a few of the others. "Aiden," the one of the left warned. "Watch your language, we have a guest. You know the rules." "Sorry dad." "Next question?" the same one asked. Patrick took a breath, okay, this was the big one. The secret that would change his live. "How do you know that I'm...." He couldn't say it. Fuck, he'd thought he'd be able to say it. He didn't want to say it in anger, not only was it wrong to do so, but he wanted to do what Joey had suggested, get to know them, respect them. Maybe there was a chance the bible was wrong and he could stay on the Path even with being...? They didn't say anything. they gave him the time he needed to formulate it, but eventually he gave up. "I can't say it," he growled. "I'm sorry, but I can't. But you know what I mean, right?" "That you're gay?" the one on the right said, and Patrick felt like he'd been slapped. He wasn't like that. he couldn't be. "Yes, we know." "How do you know that?" he asked through clenched teeth. "Because you're one of us, you're an Orr." "I'm not an Orr, I'm a Sanders!" The teens looked at him with a shocked expression, but the two adults kept their steady gazes on him. He felt like he should apologize for his outburst, but he wouldn't. They wanted to take away who he was. "Sanders is your last name," the one on the left said. "We're talking about the blood that flows through your veins. That's what makes you an Orr. "I could take after my mother." "You don't." "How can you know that?" Patrick's voice broke, and they waited for him to regain his composure. "Somethings you take after your mother, you have her eyes. But when it comes to your sexuality, you take after us. It's always been that way in our family. We always have sons, and they are always gay." "And eccentric," added one of the kids. "Albert," the one on the left warned. Okay, if that was Albert then the other one was Aaron, he was sure of it. "What? It's true." "What does he mean, eccentric?" "Do you mind if we keep that question for after we've answered all the other ones?" said the one on the right. "The answer to it is going to make you uncomfortable, and I'd prefer we go through the ones you have first." "Okay, sure." What could he mean by that? "You had kids, so you're not entirely...." fuck. "like that. I could too." They gave him a sad smile, and Patrick felt his hopes crumble. "We're not bi, we're gay. Yes, we had sex with women, but that was only so we could have children. We could have gone with tubes, but that didn't feel right to us." He paused. "have you had sex?" Patrick felt his ears could start a fire and looked away. When he looked aback the teens were staring at him in disbelief. "The sex was good," the one to the left said, "sex always is, but we were able to perform through will power, not because we felt anything for them. We're virile men, even as old as we are." "Speak for yourself, I'm still young," said the one on the right in a failed attempt to break some of the building tension in the room. "Like I said, we're virile," the one on the left continued, "and yes, if we set our mind to it we could have sex with a woman, but we wouldn't want it. we want men, that's what makes us gay." He paused. "That's what makes you gay." Patrick closed his hands into fists. he didn't want to be angry at them, he really didn't want to, but he didn't want to hear this. "Fine, but I don't have to do anything about it, right? I don't have to act on how I feel." "What?" Aaron exclaimed. "Why would you ever not want to have sex with another guy?" "Alexander!" "But dad?" "Enough!" "Yes dad." Alexander looked at the table. Patrick continued to control his anger, but he could tell from the whispers that Alexander's opinion was shared by the others. What was wrong with them? Man didn't sleep with Man, it was a sure way off the Path. He forced himself to take a mental step back. Okay, he could accept, for the sake of the argument, that the desire wasn't the work of the devil, that it was genetic, like a lot of people claimed. But they also claimed that fighting was genetic, ingrained in us from century of evolution. it didn't mean that was something he should do. He wouldn't act on how he felt, that was final. That resolved he went to ask his next question, but nothing came. He knew he'd had more of them, but he couldn't think of them. He glanced in Albert's direction. Might as well get that over with. "What's the eccentric thing about?" The men sighed, but the teens looked up, excited. "We did promise ourselves we wouldn't lie." The one on the right said. "Yeah, we did." The one on the left took a deep breath. "okay, on top of being gay, Orr men have eccentric tastes." "What does that mean?" They looked at each other. The one on the left nodded and the one on the right continued. "As an example, me and Donald, we like to tag team our partners. It isn't a fetish, it isn't something we need to do to reach orgasm, but given the chance, it is how we prefer doing it." "Aaron likes them old," Albert said. "What's wrong with liking mature men?" Aaron countered. "with wrinkles." Albert shuddered Patrick swallowed. "okay, I think that's enough." "Adam likes them married." "Enough!" Patrick stood his weight was on his hand and the table was holding him up, he was shaking. He couldn't tell if it was fear of anger. "What's wrong?" someone he didn't know the name of asked. "You were right, this is making me very uncomfortable, so I'm going to leave." "But we haven't showed you!" "No!" Patrick slammed his palms against the table. "Look, I came here of my own free will. I asked for answers, so as much as I want to be angry at you all, I have no right. But. I. Really. Don't. Want. To. Be. Here. Anymore." "I understand," one of the man said, "Arthur, why don't you escort Patrick to the door?" "Yes dad." Patrick started walking, barely aware of the small tiger next to him. He grabbed his jacket and the door was already opened by the time he had it on. He walked out. "Patrick?" Patrick felt the motion close to his arm and he thought Arthur would grab him, but he didn't. He stopped, but he didn't turn around. "I'm sorry we made you uncomfortable. I hope you'll visit again." "I don't know." Patrick looked up, there was so little light pollution here he could see the stars. He tightened his jaws. "No. I won't." He thought he heard sniffling as he walked down the path to the road.
  17. Kindar

    Chapter 13

    The Missing Son 13 "Sanders!" Don yelled over the crowd before throwing the key to Patrick. "Alright everyone. This is the last call. Order up and enjoy." Patrick locked the door and then sat at the bar. The place was very crowded and they were loud. He was getting a headache from that and not getting enough sleep. He only spent one night at Zach's place, somehow his dad had learned about Patrick being there and he'd exploded. Patrick wished he'd been there so he could have taken the blunt of the anger. On Thursday he'd slept on Max's couch, the poodle was a guy he'd gone to school with, and who had stayed in touch with him after Patrick had left. Max was on track to get out of the neighborhood, he was graduating in the spring and had been accepted at Berkeley on a football scholarship. Of the few guys he still knew from school he was the only one getting out. Max couldn't let him crash over the weekend because of how late Patrick worked, so he'd used the cot at the back, and hadn't gotten much sleep. Mary brought him an orange soda, and he sipped it while keeping an eye on the customers. the last drink could make some of them forget themselves and become a nuisance and he'd have to escort them out, but tonight, for as noisy as they were, they were well behaved. Finally, the last one left, it was almost three, and Patrick enjoyed the quiet through the ringing in his ears. He reached over the counter and dropped his soda can in the garbage. Fifteen minutes later Mary hugged him before leaving and handed him sixty dollars. "Here's your pay," Don held the hundred twenty for the weekend. Patrick looked at it. "Can you hold on to it for me? I'm not comfortable walking around with that kind of money." "Then put it in the bank." Patrick stared at the panda. "To have a bank account I'd have to keep money for more than a couple of days. My mom opened one for me when I was a kid, I found out they'd closed it for inactivity when I started bouncing for you. Normally I give most of it to my mom." "You're not giving this to her then?" "Why should I?" Patrick snapped. "If she thinks so little of me she had to lie about my father why the fuck should I give her my hard-earned money?" Doc took a step back and raised his hands in surrender. Patrick sighed. "Sorry." "Still angry at her then." Patrick nodded. "Yeah, I can hold on to your money till you need it. You'll want to get a bank account if you're going to be keeping it. I mean I don't mind doing it for you, but I can't give you interest on it." "I'll do that tomorrow." "Good. I'm closing up. are you sleeping in the back?" "No. Thanks for the offer, but that cot is a health hazard. I made arrangement with a guy I know. I'm heading there directly." "You need a ride?" "No, thanks. I need the walk to clear my head." Don accompanied him outside and they went on their separate ways. Thinking about his mom had gotten him angry again, and had brought his father to the surface again, both of them, the fictional one and the real one. Thinking about who he had believed his father to be made him ache, he'd imagined so much about him he hated knowing it had been for nothing. Thinking about the real one made him long to know what it was like to actually have a father. It was why he'd called Rich before work. Richard Zilescky was a rat he'd met a few years before when he turned a corner and walked in on him being beaten up. He'd chased his attackers away and helped him to his place. He was a few years older than Patrick, another school dropout, but he was pretty smart, he'd taught himself programing and now he did hacking work for the gangs. He knocked on the door. Rich had a ground floor apartment in a converted house. The curtains parted, closed and then multiple locks turned. the door opened and a thin white rat pulled him in and hugged him. "Man Pat, I never thought I'd get to return the favor and help you out." "Thanks for letting me crash." "Hey, man, no problem, Mi Casa and all that. I never thought you'd ever call and ask for help, usually you're just checking in on me. Hell, when I gave you my number and you didn't put it in a phone I thought you'd just brush me aside as a good deed. I can't believe you remembered it from me just saying it once." "You said it once, and I told it to myself a hundred times while I helped you here. You sound like you're working on something, don't let me interrupt, just tell me where you want me to crash and when you want me out." "Yeah, I'm working, but it can wait. I guess I'm hyper, I've been drinking espresso all evening." "It's four in the morning." "Is it? really? Wow, I guess I've been at it longer than I thought, I must be close to being done then. I can't wait to be done with than and get paid." "Just tell me where to sleep." "Oh, just take the stuff off my bed and stretch out there." "Where are you going to sleep?" "Me? oh, I'm not sleeping, I still have work to do. I'm probably going to be going for hours and hours. I have plenty of espresso in the machine. I'm good, thanks." "Okay, when do you want me out?" "Do you have to be some place? I mean it's okay if you do, but if you don't you can stay here, as long as you want. you said you had problems at home, right? that was you, right? Yeah, it was. So, you can stay here until that's fixed. Don't worry about it, I owe you a lot more than that." Patrick hid a smile. "Okay, I'll go crash then." The bedroom was the first door he saw. In the living room Richard was typing on a keyboard so fast Patrick couldn't make out the individual key stokes. Across the hall was the bathroom. He used it, then took the electronic parts off the bed to make space. He was asleep before his head hit the pillow. * * * * * Patrick came awake as he felt someone against him. He'd turned in his sleep, he realized, and pressed against the guy next to him. Patrick had a moment of horror when he thought he'd gone to bed with another guy, then realized he was still dressed, and that it was Rich next to him. The rat had come to bed once he finished his work. Patrick carefully got out of bed to avoid waking him. Made a stop in the bathroom, then headed for the kitchen. It was a mess, cans of energy drinks everywhere, dishes piled up high in the sink and takeout containers on the table, and counter, so old Patrick worried they would attack him. The clock on the stove said it was seventeen hundred. That couldn't be right, the sun was coming in from the living room, and that was to the east. The clock on the wall said it was twelve twenty-five, that was more reasonable, but then he realized the seconds hand wasn't moving. Well, unless he was planning on going out to look for work the time didn't matter, and he couldn't do that. He needed to talk with Rich once he got up. To pass the time he decided to clean the place. He filled three garbage bags in the kitchen and two in the living room. There, the computer clock told him it was ten fifty-eight. He was in the middle of doing the dishes when Richard stumbled in. He blinked at him, considered something, then nodded. "Right." he looked around. "You didn't have to clean the place, Pat." He pulled the fridge open and took out an energy drink, which he downed. "I had nothing else to do. Should you really be drinking that? you just woke up." "Got nothing else until I get paid. Didn't you look in the fridge?" He sat at the table and looked at the top like it was the first time he's ever seen it. Considering how much stuff had been piled on there it was a distinct possibility. "Not my place. I didn't open anything except under the sink to get the garbage bags." He took twenty out of his pocket and put it on the table. "Here, buy something to eat." "Shit man. I can't take your money. I already owe you my life." "Would you take it if you did a job for me?" "What kind of job?" Patrick took out the card Daniel had given him, it was blank except for a hand-written number on it, and handed it to Richard. "I need the address that goes with this number." Richard took the card, looked at both side of it. "Who's is it?" "My father," Patrick replied after a moment. Richard nodded. "He owes you child support?" "No, nothing like that. I just want to talk to him. I guess I don't feel comfortable doing it over the phone." "Sure. You do know you can get that info by doing a reverse lookup, right?" "Sure, but you can use the money." The rat chuckled. "Okay, I'll do it. Shouldn't take more than a minute to get your info. Hell, Starting the system is going to take longer." "Alright. I'll go out and get myself breakfast while you're doing this." "Get me something too. There's a fast food place two blocks that way. Get me a number two combo, and that'll be my fee for getting the address." "are you sure that's enough?" "For a minute's work? that's plenty, and I finished my previous job so I'll be getting paid later today. I'll be able to fill the fridge then," "I'll be right back then." * * * * * Patrick returned fifteen minutes later and Richard was still at the computer. "Food's in the kitchen when you're done." He sat down, said a silent prayer then ate. He was in the middle of his second breakfast sandwich when the rat sat down. "Okay, who is he, really?" Patrick looked at him questioningly. Richard put the card on the table and slide it toward him. "Who is he?" The tiger swallowed. "He's my father." Richard studied him for a moment. "Okay, but 'who' is he? He is a spy or something?" "What? of course not... I mean, I don't know what he does for a living. I've only met him once at this point." "It was a lot harder getting the address then it should have been. I wrote it on the back. Nothing came up on the reverse lookup. Even the sites that hold private numbers didn't have anything. I had to hack the phone company to get the information." "Is that going to get you in trouble?" Richard chuckled. "Nah. Their security's decent enough, but it was nothing for me to slice through it. They don't even know I was there." Patrick turned the card over. "Can I use your computer to figure out how to get there?" "Sure. I'll go get it. It's on the south side of the city, in the Hills." While Richard was in the other room Patrick went through the money he had left. forty-eight and change. It had been a while since he'd looked at the cost of tickets for the busses, but he through eight dollars was enough to cross the city. Realistically he couldn't walk across the city. Not if he wanted to get there in a reasonable amount of time. "Here." Richard handed him his phone. It was a large black model with a homemade casing. Patrick took it and looked it over before raising his eyes to Richard. "I added a few things to it. I don't like that the government can track it or listen in to my calls. If you want I can do the same to your phone." "I don't have one." Richard didn't have as many programs on it as he expected. "Really? I can get you one, if you want. Wouldn't be as powerful as mine, but I don't think you need something that can slice through the city's security." "That's okay," Patrick said, starting the mapping program. He put in the address. "I can't afford a phone plan." It was pretty far. In the Saratoga Hills, just outside of Old San Jose. It would take a good part of the day to get there, but at least he'd remembered right. It was only six bucks for the trip, but a lot of transfers. He looked up. "Sorry?" "I said, I can get you a plan that wouldn't cost you anything." It took a moment for Patrick to realize what Richard was talking about, phone, right. Free plan? that could work, except. "That wouldn't be legal, would it." Richard shrugged. "Who's to care if they don't know?" "Thanks, I appreciate it, but I'll pass. I've lived this long without a phone. I'll be fine." He wrote down the list of busses he'd have to take on the card and stood. He put forty dollars on the table. "What's that for?" "To pay for the work you did." "I told you breakfast would cover that." "That was when you thought it would just take a minute. It was harder than that, so you deserve more. Look, just take it, Rich. Get some food, you look like you haven't had a decent meal in ages." Richard chuckled. "I guess I owe you again." Patrick shrugged. "I'm not keeping score. I'll probably be back late again. is it going to be a problem?" He'd have to walk back. "Nah, I don't expect to be working, but I never go to bed early anymore." "Thanks again for letting me crash here." He squeezed Richard shoulder on his way out.
  18. Kindar

    Chapter 12

    The Missing Son 12 Patrick wanted someone from the Sarantos to show up, as he walked hard toward... He didn't have a destination in mind, he just needed to get away from his mother and her lies right now. He'd have to figure out something soon, if only because he needed a place to sleep, but right now he was burning energy, and spoiling for a fight. His expression kept the people on the sidewalk from accosting him, and no gang member caused trouble. Why couldn't they be there when he actually wanted them around? Instead of making his life miserable the rest of the time? Brooding on the gang kept him from thinking about what those two men had said. Eventually he had to slow down, his legs were hurting from the forced pace, and he was hungry. That he couldn't do anything about, He'd given his mom all his money. He should have kept some. Hell (sorry) he should keep what he made. It was his money, not hers. He looked around, where was he? He didn't recognize any of the store fronts, nor the intersection he was at, Alida way and Country club. Okay, he'd walked longer than he thought. The area certainly looked better than his neighborhood. It took him a few tries before he got someone willing to give him directions to Don's Cup. The first people he tried to approached looked at him once and walked faster. Eventually a woman, a sheep, cautiously let him approach and she pulled out her phone to find the bar. Okay, he definitely was further than he expected. He thanks her and started walking, keeping his pace reasonable this time. The bar only had a few people there, even for a Tuesday it was a slow evening here. Mary smiled at him. "Pat, I didn't know you were working tonight." "I'm not, I just need to make a call. can I borrow your phone?" "It's in my bag, in the back. Once I've served these beers I'll go get it." "I'll handle it," Don said, suddenly standing next to Patrick. for a large man he could move quietly at times. "Come on, you can make it in my office." Once there the panda handed him his phone, and it took a moment for Patrick to find the call function among all the others on it. He thought, as he entered Zack's number, he had to be the last person left who memorized numbers, everyone else relied on their phone to keep them. "Hello?" "Hey Zack, it's Pat." "What's up?" "Can I crash at your place tonight? Had a fight with my mom and I don't want to go back home." "Yeah, sure. but you're going to have to be gone before seven in the morning. That's when my dad comes back and you know how he is about my friends spending the night." "Won't be a problem, thanks. I'll be there in twenty." That was tonight taken care of. "You okay?" Don asked. "You want to talk about it?" "No, I don't want to talk about it." Patrick forced a breath to calm himself, he'd almost snapped at Don. "I'm okay, just stuff with my mom." The panda nodded and motioned for Patrick to follow him past the store room. Don opened the door next to it, just before the back door that led into the alley. it revealed a small space with a cot. "I set this up a couple of years ago when me and the wife went through a rough patch. Haven't used it since, but never needed the room for anything." Don took a key off his keychain. "That's a key to the back door. If you need a place to crash feel free to use it." "I can't do that," Patrick protested. "Bullshit. You work for less than I'm legally required to pay you and you don't bitch about it, and you do a good job bouncing." "I don't need the money that badly." Patrick said, even though that wasn't true, but he didn't want Don to feel like he had to do this. "Fuck you can be stubborn." He put the key in Patrick's hand. "Take the fucking key. You're in a rough patch, make use of it if you need it." "Okay, thanks." He added the key to the ring containing his house key. "I better get going, I don't want to keep Zack waiting." * * * * * Patrick was taking lamps out of a pile of them as the Ocelot pointed them out. She wanted something antique looking, ideally from the nineteen-nineties, So Patrick was treading on the treacherous ground made by those lamps. Lamps weren't worth much so Joey only had them thrown in this pile. they were all broken in some way because of that, but it didn't stop her from excitedly pointing to one and then another. Over thirty minutes Patrick brought her eight lamps, all of which she loved. She hated having to choose only one of them. He pointed out the her that if she wanted all of them, Joey was sure to be happy to give her a great deal on them, just to be rid of them. She was brimming with joy and had him bring them all to her car. Joey asked for forty bucks and she happily paid it. "Come on in," Joey said, after she'd left. He sat at his old desk and reached in the older fridge behind him. He pulled out a beer for himself and a can of orange soda with a deli sandwich for Patrick. "Okay, what's going on? You were at the gate before I got here and you said you didn't mind working for free. You've never been someone who requires a lot of money to work, but I've never taken you for the kind to give away the work. So, what gives?" Patrick took a bite of the sandwich and a long swallow of the soda to give himself time to formulate an answer. Unlike with Don, he didn't mind talking about this with Joey. There was something comfortable about the bulldog in his ripped, dirty, jeans and grime covered t-shirt. "My mom's been lying to me about who my father was. He isn't the war hero she told me. he isn't even dead. He's a..." Patrick found he couldn't say it. He'd hurled it at them easily enough when he was angry, but he'd realized they didn't deserved it. That they were... the way they were wasn't their fault, and they hadn't done anything to him. It was his mother who had lied. And he found that if he wasn't saying the word in anger, he couldn't actually say it. "He's a homosexual. And he said I was too." "Are you?" "No! Absolutely not! There's no way I'm a fag!" Patrick yelled. "That's a pretty energetic denial," Joey said, unaffected by the anger directed at him, "for someone who said he isn't one." Patrick glared at him, but the bulldog just took a sip of his beer without taking his eyes off him. Patrick looked away. "I don't want to be one," he finally admitted. "Why?" "Really? You have to ask? even forgetting that it's a sin, you've seen the news. They molest kids, breakup marriage. Who in their right mind would want to be one of them?" "Really, Pat? I thought you were smarter than that. You're using the news? You know damn well that's nothing to go by, ignoring the fact that most of what gets reported isn't verified, of course those who make the news are the bad ones. Why else would the news talk about them? There's been a bunch of hyenas on the news recently for murder, are all hyenas murderers then? You're a tiger who's poor, are all tigers poor?" Patrick looked at the floor, finding his appetite vanishing under Joey's rebuke. "But it's a sin. I don't want to walk off the Path." Joey shrugged. "Look, you're talking about the bible now. A book that was written thousands of years ago. I never read it, but I have to say I'm suspicious of a book that old having any relevance in today's world." Joey didn't get it. He couldn't get how important God's opinion was to Patrick. It showed how to stay on the path. To set off it was to start walking toward Hell. "Let me ask you this." Joey finished his beer. "Do you think I'm heading for hell?" "What? of course not." "How do you know? Maybe I'm gay." Patrick started to answer but stopped. his reaction had been to say that of course Joey wasn't... "Are you?" "No, but that's beside the point. The point is, how do you know? You told me that gays are just the ones who see on the news, they do the bad stuff, so everyone else you see on the street is straight, right? You're assuming how people live their lives base on some fears you have from a book that's older than... Older than anything I know. Seems to me you're doing all of them a disservice." Joey stood. "Anyway, it isn't my place to tell you what you should do or think." Patrick shook his head. "No, thanks. I think I needed someone to give me a reality check. You're right. for all the reading I do, I haven't really tried to get to know all that much about them." "Look, don't worry about it. Maybe try to get to know him. You say he's your father, right? wouldn't it be better to know your father, even if he isn't perfect?" He took twenty out of his pocket and handed that to Patrick. "Here." "You don't have to do that. I said I'd work for free today." "I know, but if you hadn't been here, I'd have been the one to help that woman and fight with the mountain of lamps. And I only pay fifty cents per lamps, so even with paying you twenty bucks, I've made a really good profit on this." "Thanks." "Are you going home after this?" "No. I don't want to be in that house for now." "Okay. Do you have a place to spend the night? My place isn't much, but the couch is mostly clean." "Thanks, but I'm good." He'd call some of the guys he knew, hopefully one of them would be able to let him couch surf for a couple of night. and if not, he might take Don up on his offer to use the cot. "Once I'm done eating, I could use a shower, unless you have something you need me to do." "No, you go get clean and then enjoy your day." Patrick thought about the card in his pocket. Joey was right, he'd spent his childhood wishing he had a father, and now he did. He couldn't ignore him, and him being... what he was, was part of the package. he'd have to find a way to deal with it.
  19. Kindar

    Chapter 11

    The Missing Son 11 Patrick had just added the beans to the rice when the door opened. He quickly poked his head in the hall. "Hey mom, I didn't expect you'd stop by before going to the diner." His mother looked up from taking off her shoes, a tired expression on her face. "I'm not working tonight." She rubbed her feet. "Amanda owed me a shift for when I took hers a few weeks ago. I asked her to take mine tonight." "Cool. Then I'll have dinner on the table in fifteen. I'll grill some bread to go with the rice and beans." "Thank you, Patrick, that's very nice of you." She was still leaning against the wall when Patrick headed back to the stove. He stirred the beans in the rice, then turned on the oven. He took six slices of bread and put them in. The bread was going stale. He was going to have to find something to do with them before long. He put ice in a pitcher and filled it with water from the tap and put that on the table. He tasted the rice and added a bit of salt and pepper. They were running low on salt. They were running low on a lot of things. His mother let herself fall in a chair and rubbed her face. As tired as she was, she looked a lot older than forty-four. Patrick wished he could do something so she wouldn't have to work so much for them to make ends meet. "How have you been?" she asked. "It's been a few days since we've been here at the same time." "The weekend was good. The bar was pretty busy, so the girls were able to give a bit more of their tips. And I worked a few hours at the junk yard. Joey got a few pickups of stuff from one of the manufacturing building that closed. I put what I made in your check book." She gave him a tired smile. "Alright. I haven't had time to look at it today. I'll do that after dinner." He filled a plate with the rice and beans and placed it in front of her then filled his plate. He took the bread out of the oven and that went on another plate. Margarine went on the table. By the weight he could tell there wouldn't be enough for both of them. His mother cut a slice in quarters, spread margarine on them and put the pieces on her plate while Patrick grabbed glasses for them. He sat down, and she put her hands together. "Thank you, God, for the food before us, for my son who works hard to make his mother happy. I thank you for the work we get, and the blessings you send our way. Amen." "Amen." He broke a slice and forked his food on it before shoving it in his mouth. She took a small fork full of hers. "Slow down, Patrick. You don't have to rush off anywhere... do you?" Patrick shook his head and forced himself to eat slower. "How was your day?" She let out a heavy sigh. "It was okay. My department's getting a new supervisor, so everyone's nervous. They hired someone from outside, so we don't know what to expect." "Wasn't the position open internally?" She shook her head. "I'm pretty sure they have to offer it to their employees before they can look outside." She shrugged. "They're the ones who run it, they can do things however they want." Patrick decided to change the subject. "Since you're here, do you want to go do groceries after dinner? We're pretty much out of everything. If we can get a few eggs and some milk, I can turn what's left of the bread into dessert before that's inedible." He looked at the cupboard. "If we have any sugar left. I didn't check that." "Yes, that would be nice, going out together. I'll see how much we have available for food once we're done." She indicated the margarine as he took another slice and broke it in half. "Have some if you want." "Thanks, I'm okay. Don't worry about it." he forked more rice on the piece and bit it in half. She narrowed her eye at him but didn't say anything. Once they were done eating he did the dishes while she went to her room. When he was done she came back. "We have forty-two dollars for food this week." "Just that? No food credits?" "We already used what we had for this month." She sighed. "The electrical and phone bill came in today, the water's on Friday. Unless you know you're going to be making some money by then?" Patrick shook his head. "Joey isn't expecting anything large this week. I'll look for something, but not many people want to hire a stupid school dropout, even for labor jobs." She took his face in her hands. "You're not stupid, Patrick. I wish you hadn't had to leave school to help be pay the bills." "It's okay, Mom. I'm not complaining. It's the way things are. we'll get through it. God will see to it." She smiled at him. "Yes, He will." They went to the door. "Do you want to hit the day-old food store before or after the grocery?" he put on his jacket. and opened the door for her. "Let's do that first. Hopefully we can get most of what we need there." Patrick hoped so too. When he worked Joey fed him, so with him being here all week he'd have to go hungry if he wanted there to be enough food until next week. That or go to the soup kitchen at the back of the church. * * * * * Patrick looked around as they walked back home, unable to shake the feeling he was being watched. He kept expecting to see Saranto colors darting about, not that he thought they'd do anything on a busy sidewalk, that wasn't their style, they liked things more under their control. Now that he thought about it, it had been a few days since he'd seen any of them. That kid who attacked him was the last time. Five days? That had to be the longest he'd gone without one of them making his life difficult. Maybe one of the other gangs was giving them troubles. He could hope any way. "Is everything alright?" His mother asked. "Huh? Oh, yeah. Just looking around." She obviously didn't believe him, but didn't say anything. Still, he wished he knew why he felt like he was being watched. * * * * * Donald and Daniel sat in the car, silent. "I don't know if this is a good idea." Daniel said. "What's the alternative?" Daniel didn't say anything for a time. "You heard what Aaron said, Patrick thinks his father, singular, died years ago." "Even more reasons to have the talk with him. He needs to know this stuff, otherwise it's going to drive him crazy." Daniel sighed and nodded. He hesitated a moment then got out the car. The kids hadn't been kidding when they described the neighborhood. He knew some part of the city had been hit hard by the recession, but he hadn't thought any place had been hit this hard. Daniel's steps faltered at the house's front yard and Donald took a few more steps before looking back at him. Daniel looked at the small house, the faded blue paint, the weed covered lawn, the gray door and barred windows. Who could live in such a place? He forced himself forward and together they reached the porch. Donald knocked, and a moment later a tigress opened it. "Hello Margarette," he said before she could greet them. Her expression was tired, but curious. "Hello. Can I help you with something?" "Yes, we'd like to see our son." She was confused for a moment, then her eyes grew wide, before her expression hardened. "No. Absolutely not. He's my son, not yours." She tried to close the door, but Donald held it open. "Margarette, you sighed a contract, which you broke when you vanished. We didn't pursue it back then, but if you don't let us talk with Patrick we will drag you to court over this. Our brother has an entire law firm at his disposal and believe me, we will make use of them." Donald's tone was hard. Daniel put a hand on his brother's arm. "Donny, please calm down." He looked at the tigress. "We're not here to take him from you. We have sons, and we're happy, but he's our son too. And because of that there are things he needs to know, you too." "He's not here," she replied, "and even if he was, I wouldn't let two fags like you get anywhere near him." "Mom?" someone asked, further in the house. "Who's at the door?" Donald sneered at her. "Not here, huh?" He tried to push his way passed her, but Daniel held him back. "Danny, don't take here side on this. He's our son. She'd probably poisoned his mind already." "Donny, please calm down. I'm not taking her side, I'm trying to avoid this blowing up. Margarette, regardless of how you feel about us, Patrick is our blood, and that means he needs to be told some things. I really don't want to bring lawyers into this, but we will talk with him. You can either let us do that here, now, with you present, or we can go to court, and you will lose him." The tigress' face was a study in stubbornness, broken only when her son appeared behind her. "Who are you?" he asked. "Hello Patrick. I'm Daniel, this is Donald. We're your fathers." The tiger eyed them for a moment. "Is this a joke? Mom, who are these fuckers?" "Watch your language, Patrick," She whispered reflexively. Then her body deflated. "Come on in." "Mom? what's going on?" Patrick moved aside as his mother ushered the two tigers in. Daniel an Donald entered a small living room, crowded with Christian symbols, crosses on the wall, angels on the tables. The small couch was upholstered with Cherubs. "Sit down, Patrick." Her voice still barely above a whisper. She indicated two seats for Donald and Daniel to take, but they sat on the couch, close together. Donald smirked at her. Resigned, she didn't say anything. * * * * * "Mom?" Patrick was worried about her, he'd never seen her look so completely defeated. Not even when she'd lost the job she had before the diner, for not putting out to the owner. She sat and didn't look up from the floor. "one of them is your father." huh? "What? What do you mean, 'one of them'?" "I had sex with them and nine month later you were born. He stared at her for a long moment, just repeating what she'd said in his head. she wouldn't look up at him. he clenched his teeth, grabbed the picture frame on the side table and shook it at her. "Then who the fuck is that?" She looked up at it, then away. "You told me my dad was a war hero! You said he was deployed to Kenya just after I was born and died there saving his men! Are you telling me that was a lie? That I'm the son of one of those fags?" One of them made to stand, but the other held him down, getting a glare in return. Patrick could see the one glaring about to explode in anger, but he contained it and sat back down. The one holding him looked at Patrick, and Patrick realized who they were. They had seemed familiar on first seeing them, although he'd had no idea why, but now he realized they were those guys' fathers. He also realized he couldn't tell them apart. "You're gay too, Patrick." "No!" he yelled, his mother echoed him. "You can deny it all you want," he said, "but it's in your blood." "No, I'm not a fag," Patrick growled. "I'm straight. I'm no sinner." "What the fuck does sinning have to do with anything?" the angry one growled back. "Donny," the other one warned and was glared at again. Patrick let out a sardonic laugh. "What's it got to do with it? Everything. I'm a church going Christian. I've read the bible. I know right from wrong. I know being a fag's a sin." He wasn't a fag. There was no way he could be like that. "So is lying," the calm one said in a soft voice, looking at his mother, who looked away. He turned his gaze on him. "Patrick, if you don't want to act on it, that's your choice, but you need to know who you are. As our son, you are gay. That's in your blood. You can deny that you get turned on by watching guys in the locker rooms, but it doesn't change the fact that you do." Patrick tried to stare him down, to prove to him, and himself that what he was saying was wrong. He wasn't going to admit it to him, of all people. He was unable to hold the gaze for more than a few seconds, his ears burned as he looked away. "It isn't a sin," the tiger continued. "And it isn't a choice. If you decide not to act on it, make sure it's because you're making an informed decision, not because you're afraid." He stood. "Come on Donny, it's time to go." The angry one, Donny, startled then his face twisted in anger. The other one, Patrick through he'd said his name was Daniel took a card from his wallet and handed it to him. "I understand that this is a shock. If you want to ask us questions this is our number. Any time, day or night, call us." He took Donny's arm in his hand, but it was wrenched out as Donny stormed out. Patrick watched as the door closed behind them. he wasn't a fag it kept telling himself. He didn't care what they said. They couldn't make him one just by stating it. He realized he was still holding the frame and looked at it. His mother, in her early twenties with a man she'd claimed was his father. "Who is he?" She looked at him and he shook the picture. "Who the fuck is the guy in this picture?" She eyed it, and her face softened. "He's a friend." "He's alive?" She shrugged. "I guess. I don't know. I knew him when I was studying in Iowa." "And did you fuck him too? Is there any chance I'm really his son?" She shook her head. "That's great, that's just fucking great. I've got a fag for a father and you never through to tell me that? You just made up a lie about who my father was?" "I wanted you to be proud of him, not afraid he was going to hell." "And what about my soul? didn't you ever think about that? you heard them, I'm a fag too." "They're lying, you're my son." "How the fuck do you know?" the words slipped out and he couldn't take them back. But he wasn't going to add anything. Let her wonder what he meant. The dreams he'd had would stay in his head. How he'd felt in the locker room at school would stay there too. "I took you away from them to protect you. Don't you see? If I'd let them have you, you would have been drawn into a life of sin." "And living a lie is so fucking much better." "Watch your language Patrick Sanders." "Don't fucking tell me what to do!" "I'm your mother! You're going to do as I say!" "You're nothing more than a fucking liar!" The picture frame flew by her head before exploding on the wall. Patrick didn't stay to watch her reaction. In a few steps he was at the door, his jacket in hand, and then he was out the door, slamming it shut. * * * * * Daniel sped up to reach the car first. He didn't want Donny behind the wheel in his state. He grabbed onto the door and blocked his brother, which earned him another glare. For a moment he through Donny would shove him out of the way, but with a curse he went on the passenger side. Daniel sat and put his hands on the steering wheel. For a long moment the only sound in the car was Donald's heavy breathing. "Go ahead," Daniel whispered, "Let me have it." "What the fuck was that?" Donald yelled. "You saw what the woman's done to our son, He's fucking terrified of who he is!" Daniel closed his eyes. He hated seeing his brother when he lost his temper like that, so he wasn't going to look at him. "What did you want me to do, Donny?" He kept his voice calm, a counter point to his brother's scream, but all he wanted to do was cry. "We can't change things just by sitting down and having a talk with him. something like this isn't going to happen overnight." "So that's your idea? leave him with his mind twisted mother so she can add to the damage she's already inflicted?" Daniel flinched at the accusation. He could feel his eyes getting wet. he took out his phone an offered it to his brother. "What's that supposed to be for?" he growled. It took effort to keep his voice steady. "Go ahead, call Damian. Tell him to come take our son and bring him to that bedroom he has ready so he can do whatever he thinks is needed to fix him." Donald was silent. "Fuck." A fist slammed on the dash. "Fuck." Again. "Fuck!" Again. "FUUUUUCK!" When the scream ended the silence was deafening. Daniel let the silent hang for a long moment before opening his eyes. Donald was crying. He pulled him against him and rested his head on his shoulder and both of them cried. When he looked up and dried his eyes, he saw Patrick walk down the road, away from them. He thought about going after him, but there was nothing he could do right now. They all needed to take some time to let the night settle.
  20. Kindar

    Chapter 10

    The Missing Son 10 The minivan moved slowly through the neighborhood. Adam was driving and peering out, looking for the address his uncle had given them. The others were looking at the houses with lawns over grown with grass and junk, rusted cars in their driveways or parked on the street. The people walking by stared at them. "This can't be right," Aaron said, from the passenger seat. "Well, this is Caliban street," Adam noted. "And the numbers are going down, so we have to be getting close." "Maybe there's another Caliban street?" Arthur offered, "Or maybe the numbers restart at some point?" "Doesn't look like it." Alex raised his phone to show the map. Adam Brought the minivan to a stop against the curb. "It's that house." He pointed to the small one-story house with faded and pealing blue paint. Unlike the other lawn, this one was mowed, but there was still a lot of weeds on it. "Uncle Damian must have given us the wrong address," Anakin commented, which got him stared at. "Uncle Damian wouldn't have given it to us if he wasn't completely certain that was it," Adam replied. "Look at it," Anakin insisted. "How can he live in that if he's one of us?" "I wouldn't want to live there," Aiden agreed. "You have to remember, not everyone is as fortunate as us," Aaron contributed, "That doesn't make them any less good people." "Would you want to live there?" Aiden challenged him. Aaron didn't reply. His bedroom was probably larger than the whole house. They probably didn't have a pool in the backyard or workout equipment. Did it even have a backyard? "How about you Arthur? would you live here?" Aiden asked his brother, only to discover he wasn't there, and the door was open. Arthur was running toward the house. With curses, everyone left the minivan to run after him. They caught up to him just has he knocked on the door. * * * * * Patrick sat down to eat, his fur was still damp from his shower. He'd made a stew with the cheap meat his mom had bought and some of the vegetables that were getting a bit old. His mom had taught him all the tricks he knew for cooking, like the one about cooking tough meat for a very long time at low heat to tenderize it. He'd set the stew to cook as soon as he got up at two, and now he was going to enjoy it. There was a knock at the door. Patrick looked at the stew, fork in hand. Of course, his first meal in a few days where he can sit down and not have to worry about going to bed right after, and he's getting some door to door salesman. It wasn't like anyone else would knock at his door at seven at night. He thought about ignoring it, but he stood. It could be a neighbor who needed help with something. "Yeah?" he asked as he opened the door. A bunch of tigers were standing there, with one who couldn't be more than four feet at the front, gawking at him. They were dress way too good for the neighborhood. The taller of the group moved forward, standing next to the dwarf. He was wide shoulder and the muscles stretched what had to be a silk shirt. "Hi, I'm Aaron. we're your brothers." Patrick stared at him. Brothers? These guys were going to claim to be his brothers? He burst out laughing, then slammed the door shut. That would have been a good one, if they didn't look like they were Hollywood stars. He thought about going back to his food, but instead looked through crocheted curtain over the tall window next to the door. They looked utterly confused. What? had they expected him to go along with it? They exchanged a few quiet words, and Patrick noticed a few of them had wet eyes. What the Hell (sorry) was going on here? The tall one turned and they left, shoulders hunched, heading to a minivan parked on the opposite side, a little farther up. Patrick hadn't expected that. They were obviously rich, so why wasn't it a limousine? They entered it and stayed there. Okay, so why weren't they leaving? Well, whatever it was, it wasn't his problem. He turned and took a step toward the kitchen, only to stop and turn around. Fuck, he couldn't just let them sit there. Obviously, they were invested in coming here if some of them were crying. He grabbed his jacket off the coat rack * * * * * "I'm sorry," Arthur said, closing the door. "I shouldn't have run there. maybe it would have gone better if I hadn't been the one to knock." Anakin ruffled his hair. "No, I'm pretty sure we'd still be sitting here, debating what to do, or commenting on his house, but we certainly wouldn't have gone there and knocked on that door. You got the ball rolling, good on you." "Did we sound that crazy?" Albert asked, drying his eyes. "He laughed at us." "I guess it was a shock to him," Alexander offered. "Seven guys he's never seen before show up at his door and announce they're his brothers." "Maybe uncle Damian can get his phone number?" Aiden offered. "One of us can give him a call and try to explain the situation?" "And what could we say?" Adam said dryly. "The situation hasn't changed." "Hey guys?" Anakin nodded toward the tiger that was walking toward them. He'd put on a denim jacket over his wife beater. The jacket had seen better days. Aaron lowered his window as the tiger got closer. He could see fur through rips in his jeans, and he was pretty sure those rips weren't professionally done, but actual wear. "Look," the tiger started. "I'm sorry for laughing at you and slamming the door. But there's no way you guys are my brothers. I don't have brothers. My dad died right after I was born." Aaron had no idea what to say to that, so he did the introductions. "I'm Aaron, this is Adam, Anakin, Arthur, Alex, Albert and Aiden." The tiger didn't immediately say anything. "I'm Patrick." Most of the brothers winced to that. "What?" "We were kind of expecting your name to start with an 'A'," Adam said. "Why would you expect that?" "It's a family tradition," Aaron said. "Look, I already said I wasn't related to you." Aaron eyed him. "okay, on what day were you born? March thirteenth? Fourteenth? or fifteenth?" Patrick eyed him back. "Fourteenth." "Us too!" Aiden exclaimed. Patrick smirked. "Right, all seven of you were born on exactly the same day I was." Aaron realized it did sound a bit preposterous. "No, we were born between the thirteenth and fifteenth, but instead of having birthdays over three days we always ended up celebrating them on the fourteenth, so we decide to make it easy on everyone and picked that day as our official birthday." "So what? you guys were born a year apart, but basically on the same day?" "No, we're all eighteen, just like you." "Oh, so you guys are tube babies." "No, we have mothers," Albert said, "but our dads didn't want-" he didn't get to finish. "Dads?" Patrick stiffened. "Yes," Albert tried again. "Our fathers wanted..." "Look," Patrick interrupted again. "I told you. I'm not your brother. Now leave me alone." Patrick headed back to the house. "What just happened?" Albert asked. "I have no idea." Aaron sighed. "Okay, let's go home. We can ask the dads what we should do next. * * * * * Patrick slammed the door shut, but by now the anger was directed at himself. He shouldn't have snapped at them like that, but he'd just been taken by surprised when they said they had two fathers, which meant they were... Well, living in sin. He should go an apologize. The minivan was leaving when he opened the door. Oh well, it didn't matter anyway, they obviously had the wrong guy. He closed the door and looked at the picture of his mom with his father. It was one of the few his mom had kept around. She said the others just brought up too many memories. There was another one of him, on her bed side table, and Patrick had one on his, and he knew she had one in her wallet. As far as he knew they were the only pictures of him she'd kept, but she had so many stories of him Patrick felt he'd known him. He did wish he'd been around though.
  21. Kindar

    Chapter 09

    The Missing Son 09 Damian edged his car to his brothers' garage, and a moment later it opened. He parked next to Adam's Navaho, the hood was up, and tools carefully lined up on the liner. As he expected the minivan wasn't here. His nephews still had three hours of classes. He got out and smoothed the wrinkles out of his suit. His brothers ribbed him any time they caught him doing that. They also had many choice comments about the amount of money he spent on those suits, but Damian owned and ran the largest private multinational corporation, he had to dress the part. He looked at the Navaho's engine. The injector was off, he looked around and found it on the work table that lined the east wall. He looked at what else was taken out or disconnected. Adam was still trying to figure out how to turbo charge it, but he'd made progress. Damian was confident Adam wouldn't be asking him for help, so he was going to have to find something else to get him to take the trip with him. He ignored the doors on his right, all storage rooms, but peeking into the first one on his left, the lounge, not that they used it as such. Hooks on the ceiling for when they felt like using slings, as well as places against the walls for securing guys. lined the back. His brothers and nephews weren't into overly kinky stuff, but once in a while they felt like being kinkier than usual. In front of that three full sets of exercising machines, so the whole family could work out together. Staying in shape was a tradition every member of the Orr family embraced, except for Dominic, who'd been turned off it because of how Dietrich's ego got over inflated the bigger he got. The next door was Anakin's room. He didn't open it, even though he knew it wasn't locked. Other's privacy was a concept Damian had struggled with when he was young and his father spent a lot of time explaining it to him. In the end Damian filed it as something else that only applied to his family. The stairs took him to the main level. He walked down the hall dividing the house in two, currently the kitchen on his left and the dining room on his right. The wall past the opening had multiple picture frames, the extended family on one side, which he ignored and the other wall had the covers to computer games. He stopped just before the stairs going up another level. A new frame had been added, Future Action. He remembered his brothers putting it on the market four years ago, but he hadn't realized they'd sold it. He would have to look into it. Past the stairs, were Alexander, Albert and Aiden's bedrooms. He went up to the top floor, where he could hear someone typing. That would be his brothers, in their office. He passed Adam, Arthur and Aaron's bedroom, and arrived to his brothers. The door was open, the sound came from the open door on the right. Damian put a scowl on his face and stormed through the bedroom to their office. "How the fuck could you let that happen?" He yelled. "Hi Damian," his brothers said in unison, not looking up from their screens. They had repainted the wall since the last time he'd been here, they were now a rich earth red brown. The shelves were the same, with books after books of computer languages. Their desks were in the center of the room facing each other. They stopped typing and looked up at him. He studied them, like he always did, looking for something to tell them apart, any difference in the stripe patterns. He growled in frustration. "One of these days, I am going to carve your names in your foreheads. I shouldn't have to wait until we're having sex for me to tell you apart." He took a moment to calm himself, this was one of the few things that truly vexed him. "Now, who's whom?" "I'm Daniel," One said. "We can always start wearing name tags, if that'll help," the other, Donald, offered. Damian thought the idea ludicrous, they could switch them at will. Carving the names might be a bit extreme, but he could always scar one of them to create a difference, except that would go against his promise never to hurt a family member. "No. If father could tell you apart, then I will manage it also." Daniel smiled. "Good luck with that. Now, what has you screaming at us?" Damian crossed his arms over his chest and settled an angry expression on his face. "how could you let that woman leave with your son?" Donald sighed. "Well, that explains why the kids have been so well behaved for the last week. So, they told you." "Yes, on Wednesday, and don't you dare blame them. You had no right to keep something like that from me." "Hey, our lives are our own," Donald growled, pushing himself up. "We don't have to tell you every damn thing we do, Dam." "No, you are right, you don't." Damian made his tone reasonable now. "But when it affects the family, I have to know. I promised father I would look after everyone." "Dam," Daniel said, "Dad didn't mean that you have to be our guardian angel. we're perfectly able to look after ourselves, the lot of us." "You go tell that to Dietrich," He grumbled now. "Look, this isn't up for debate. He's an Orr and I'm going to go get him." "No! Absolutely not!" Donald got in his face. "You're not going to go there, storm in and breakup that family. He might have our genes, but he's her son now." Damian looked at Daniel, the less emotional of the two. "He's eighteen and no one has educated him. Do you have any idea what he's going to go through?" "The same thing the rest of the world does," Donald stated. Daniel continued. "So, he isn't going to be perfectly adjusted. So, what? Most people seem to manage." Damian couldn't stop the growled that escaped him. Why did these two have to be so obtuse at time. He expected this kind of emotional nonsense out of Dominic, but even Donald was normally much more rational for all that his temper tended to get away from him. "You are not thinking this through. His mother is a devout, old style, Christian, and she's raising him the same. She has filled his head with nonsense about sin and an angry god. Have you considered what will happen if he is the one who has a family? Do you really want our line to become tormented people, repressing what comes naturally to them? Because I promise you, if you don't do anything, that will happen. His religion will compel him to find a girl, have kids and raise them the same way he was." They were thoughtful now, so he continued. "I cannot let that happen, and I don't need your permission. Not if you are not going to see him as your own son." Donald sat down, shaken. Damian looked at Daniel. "Do you have anything to say?" His brother rubbed his temples. "Alright, you're right. We have to do something." Donald gave him a hurt look. "But Donald's also right. You can't be the one to deal with this. I'm sorry Dam, but you're not exactly the most well adjusted person. Your idea of helping him probably involves kidnapping him, locking him in a bedroom and twisting his mind until he doesn't know what he is anymore." Daniel locked eyes with Damian. "I can't let you do that to my son." Damian felt a tingle of excitement at the core of his being at having manipulated one of them into considering the child their son. "Very well, give me an alternative." He wasn't surprise Daniel had basically outlined his plan, of all his brothers, he was the one who could always work out how Damian thought. Daniel thought about it for a moment. "I think we need to let the kids handle it, at least at first. They're the same age, experiencing the same things, so it might be easier for him to accept it coming from them." Damian nodded, while he would have preferred his brothers take a direct hand in it, this was satisfactory, and it had the added benefit that if his nephews became attached to him his brothers would have no choice but to take him in. "Alright, and afterward?" "We handle it," Daniel answered. "As you pointed out, he's our son. he's our responsibility." "And if you screw this up?" "Then it's on our heads. We all screw up sometime, even you, we accept that. We'll do the best we can and see what happens." Damian nodded. He didn't screw up, but he knew he was capable of miscalculating, as the trip with Aaron demonstrated. He smiled at his brothers, now that this was resolved, he needed to take care of his tingle this manipulation had given him. He reached out and grabbed them by the collar. "Let's go seal this agreement in your bedroom." It wouldn't be as satisfying as when he was with one of his victims, but sex with his brothers had its own kind of satisfaction
  22. Kindar

    Chapter 08

    The Missing Son 08 Patrick walked to the bar. It was Sunday night and he was feeling good. His knee no longer hurt. He'd used some of the tips the waitress gave him to get some medicine for it so that by the time Friday came about he was okay to work. He'd called Joey to get a few hours at the scrap yard, but the bulldog wouldn't talk to him until Monday. His mom hadn't been happy about finding out he'd been in a fight, but she knew he hadn't started it. She called the police, over his objections, and two officers took his statement, but since Patrick couldn't give them anything more species and gang affiliation, they weren't optimistic. Patrick didn't think they'd even bother looking into it, after all this was the Brownstones, the police didn't exactly care what happened here. Patrick lifted his jacket's collar and pulled it tight. Tomorrow was the first day of spring, and he hoped it would bring a change in the weather because he was getting tired of this cold. He caught movement out the corner of his eye, a flash of color, Saranto colors. He turned, but whoever it had been, wasn't there anymore. Patrick cursed. He was only half way to the bar. Was it worth running? His knee could take the run, but what if this led to an ambush? He couldn't afford to get hurt again. He couldn't spend any more time off work. He paid more attention, and he caught the colors again in a reflection. As far as he could tell it was only one person, with mottled fur. He didn't see enough details for a species, but he seemed on the smaller size. With this gang member tailing him he made sure to keep an eye in front of him for any indication more were waiting. They knew his route, he always followed the same path, which was stupid on his part, now that they wanted him dead. He couldn't afford to make it easy on them. He turned on a side street and picked up his pace. If there was someone waiting for him they'd have to reposition themselves now. Steps quickened behind him. This street had fewer people on it. Patrick wasn't sure how he felt about that. The Sarantos wouldn't attack him in crowded places, but now? Fuck it. He stopped and turned to face his pursuer. and barely ducked in time to avoid the baseball bat. The kid, a rabbit, wielding it couldn't be more than fifteen. "What do you think you're doing kid?" Patrick asked. "I take you out, I become a big man." The rabbit swung at him again. Patrick stepped back. "Kid, I took on three of yours last week and I walked away. I don't want to fight you." "Way I heard it, you had help. Don't worry We're going to find them too and make them pay. No one goes against the Sarantos and live." Figured they'd make up something. They couldn't just say he'd gotten lucky. "You got to be stupid, why else you'd refuse to join?" Patrick looked around, both to see if more Sarantos were coming and if some of the passerby might help. The few people there had moved to the other side of the road. He was alone, yet again. Patrick stopped and raised his hands. "look kid, you don't have to do this. The gang isn't going to do you any good. It's just going to drag you down with it." "You want me to be stupid like you? I'm not. I'm a Saranto. I'm going to be an important guy after I kill you." he swung at him, but this time Patrick was ready. He caught the bat in his hand and ripped it out. His hand stung and he could barely hold on to it as he threw it in the street while he caught the rabbit by the collar with his other hand. What the fuck was wrong with kids these days they'd want to join? When he was that age, threats were used to get kids in the gang. The rabbit's hand flashed and Patrick dropped him with a yell of pain. Three lines of blood appeared on his hand. "You little son of a bitch, that hurts." "You're going to hurt a lot more by the time I'm done with you." "Okay, kid. I'm going to teach you something about taking on someone who's bigger than you." It only took two steps to reach the rabbit and grab him by the base of an ear. He pulled him hard, making him scream in pain, and dragged him until he was against the wall. "That hurts doesn't it?" He slammed the kid against the wall a few times. "This is what pain feels like. you like it? You think this is just for fun? You think being in a gang's going to keep you from getting hurt?" Patrick stopped talking and moving. The kid was bawling his eyes out, his hands on his; trying to get him to let go of his ear. Fuck. what was he doing? He was just a kid. He let him go and took a step back. The rabbit crumpled to the ground holding his head. At least there was no blood anywhere. He would only have bruises. "I'm sorry kid. I shouldn't have done that." The rabbit looked at him, hate blazing in his eyes. "You're dead. you hear me? You think you can treat me like that and walk away. I'm going to kill you. you hear me?" Patrick just stared at him. he was threatening to kill him, after what the tiger had done? What was wrong with the kid. "I give up. You want to kill me, fine, you come and take you best shot, but you're going to want to bring backup, because next time I'm not going to be as nice." Maybe what had just happened to him finally registered because the rabbit's hateful gaze turned to worry. Patrick didn't stick around. He had to go to work. Fuck, why couldn't his life be nice and peaceful.
  23. Kindar

    Chapter 07

    The Missing Son 07 Damian walked back to his office. "Alice, I need you to find out what and when the next event that Commissioner Hyacinthe is attending is, and who we normally send there." "Yes sir." He entered his office and was about to close the door when she called to him. "Actually sir, there's one tonight." "Good, who are we sending?" She took a moment to find the name. "Benita Johanson, out of finances." It took him a moment to remember who she was. Benita was an armadillo, she was married, had been for twelve years now. She had a son and two daughters, twelve, eight and thirteen. She was a good worker, often stayed late when it was needed. "Tell her to do enjoy her evening, I'll go in her place." He started to close the door, then paused. "Wait, is this a woman only event?" "No sir, it's a gala to raise money for the police's retirement fund." "Alright, good, is there a required dress code?" "Yes, it's black tie. Do you want me to inform them of the change?" Damian shook his head, "No, there's no need. I'll simply look for Benita's card." He closed the door. He would have to stop by his condo and change. He still needed to decide what he was going to do with what his people found on the woman who had kidnapped his nephew. He could simply go take his nephew and fix him, it wouldn't be too difficult. But he was family, and he had to consider what that meant for the mother. The promise he'd made to his father only involved taking care of his family. The situation with his nephew wasn't covered by it. He wouldn't be breaking his word if he ignored the mother. Or he could approach this from multiple angle, set things up for him to take him, while approaching his brothers with the information and seeing what they did with it. There was one thing he needed to get started regardless. The meeting with the commissioner was one part of it, the other would be handled by the security company. He sent the necessary messages to get that started, then settled in for the rest of his day. * * * * * The gala was held at the Old City Hall, the room could easily host a thousand people, and it was almost full, even if Damian had arrived half an hour early. Finding out where the Commissioner was seated had only required him talking to the host. Having his card, Benita's, moved to be seated next to her was only a question of paying one of the servers to move it. He waited for the gazelle to sit down before heading for their table. Before he reached it, a slim black bear looked like he was going to sit next to her, noticed the name on the card, read it again, before heading out, searching for someone. Damian sat down. "Commissioner," He greeted her, setting his untouched glass of Champaign down. The gazelle looked at him, then the card in front of him. "Benita?" She asked. He gave her a charming smile. "Actually, it's Damian. Miss Thortorne's youngest daughter fell sick so she had to go home. No one with the right seniority in financial was available, so as owner of the company, it fell to me to come. I just had time to stop home to change and come here." "And which company do you own?" "Diamond Enterprises." Her ears went up. "Really? I know your company has given a lot of money to the police over the years." "The police do important work, I believe it's also important that as a company, and a citizen who benefits from that work, I show my appreciation for it." She looked at him. "You certainly have a concise way of putting it." "Thank you. Actually, it's fortunate that I'm here tonight, I've been thinking of contacting your office to discuss funding your anti-gang task force, I believe it's something you've been looking to do for some time." "Yes, but It wouldn't look very good for the money to come from a corporation as large as yours. It would make it seem like you're trying to buy our services." Before Damian could reply the lights dimmed and a hyena in police garb stepped on the stage. She talked for a time about the kind of work the police did and the financial difficulties the recession had caused. Here and there she must have said jokes, because people laughed. Damian patterned his reaction after those at his table, two police chief and their spouses. Damian felt the speech was boring, it wandered all over the place. If the speaker had taken the time to formulate it she could have said what she wanted to say under three minutes. Twenty minutes later she introduced the commissioner, who left the table to go say a few words. Her speech was better prepared, and well-rehearsed. Damian could hear the cue cards she'd memorized in the tempo of her voice. She didn't meander, and was only there for five minutes. What she said was summed up by, the police work hard, so those who reach retirement age need to be able to afford to enjoy it. And the people in this room were responsible for that to happen. As she came back to the table, and someone else took the podium, a server placed a plate of food before him and the others. It was a platter of expertly made sushi with a variety of fish meats and vegetable, each piece had a card indicating the provenance of the fish that was used. All of them came from well-regulated fish farms, he was pleased to see. "That was a good speech," he said as the gazelle sat back down. The others at the table nodded their agreement. He gave her time to savor one of the piece of sushi before whispering to her. "I promise you, I have no intention of trying to buy the police force. I already have enough to manage with just my company" She chuckled, and Damian wondered what might have been amusing in what he said. He let her eat some more, but she was the one who talk to him. "Regardless of your intentions, the public would see it as such." "Only if the public knows it came from my company. It's easy enough to route the money as donations from multiple origin." She eyed him. "That doesn't sound particularly legal." He smiled. "I assure you, it's completely legal. Politicians have made sure there's enough loophole in the donation laws I could drive your money in an armored car through them." She looked at him thoughtfully before going back to eating. He must have said that wrong, except he was certain he'd repeated it exactly as Rigel said it went. Another example of why he didn't bother with humor. He let them finish the plate in silence. When the server cleared the table, he looked at Damian's still full plate, but the tiger nodded for him to take it away. They brought a streak, from the smell of it, basted in a red wine sauce with garlic and sesame. He expected it to be quite tasty. "You seem quite determine to get me to agree to this, I have to wonder why." "Well, eliminating gang violence was part of your platform when you became commissioner six years ago. Since then you haven't seen much successes in that. As with many things lack of resources is why. I agree that gangs have become too strong in the city. I could certainly use the money to pay private security company to deal with them, but I expect you would frown on such actions." "Frowning is a very mild word for the reaction I'd have." Damian nodded. "Which is why I propose to give that money to you so you can fund more personnel, better tool and training." She was silent as she ate, and Damian didn't interrupt. once their plates were cleared, with another odd look from the server at Damian's full plate. "The food isn't to your liking?" she asked. "At two thousand dollars for the meal I'd expect you to want to enjoy it" "As I said, I wasn't supposed to be the one coming here, I had already eaten a substantial meal before coming." "You could have cut your food, made it look like you ate some of it." Damian looked at the desert placed before him, a rich looking cheese cake drizzled in a kiwi coulie. "I suppose I could, but I don't see the point. By leaving the piece whole, they are in a position to donate it to someone who is in need." She smiled. "I have to say the way you look at things is refreshing. How about we do lunch tomorrow to discuss this proposal further? I know a nice place by the waterfront that's very discreet." Damian smiled. "That would certainly be agreeable." She wrote down the address for him and they agreed on the time. He watched them finish the meal and then left. * * * * * Damian entered his condo and headed for his bedroom, where he undressed and folded his tuxedo. In the morning he would drop it off at the cleaners. After that he went to the kitchen, where he took out a thick steak, the making of a lemon rosemary glaze and a salad with a raspberry dressing. Watching those people eat made him hungry, so he allowed himself a larger portion than usual. After that he called Jimmy, his driver. He was slowly prodding how far he could push the wolf, and he was finding him pleasurably malleable. A few hours forcing him to have sex would be good before bed.
  24. Kindar

    Chapter 06

    The Missing Son 06 Adam parked the minivan in the school's parking lot. He looked to Aaron. "Well?" Aaron sighed. "Yeah, yeah. I know." He turned to the back. "Alright, Alex, you have all the stuff we found in the attic?" Alex patted his bag. "Alright, we're all agreed we need to ask uncle Damian for help?" "Well," Aiden said, "We agreed to it, you sort of just went along with it." "I said I'd go with the majority. Okay, so it's important the dads don't realize what we're doing. Make sure you all call one of them to let them know you're going to be home late and that you're going to arrange for a ride yourself." "Got it." They replied. Aaron wasn't looking forward to that visit, but they'd spend three days going through the documents from their births and hadn't come up with anything. He knew they could manage it on their own, but he couldn't know how long that would take, like them he didn't want to have to wait before meeting him. they had been separated for eighteen years, that was eighteen too many. Which meant Damian. Aaron shuddered then exited the minivan. "Hey guys," a broad shouldered wolf, in the green short of the football team, greeted them. The seven of them turned as one to look at him and they all smiled. "Hey Zack," Arthur said, licking his lips. "To what do we owe the pleasure of this encounter?" "I... errr..." The wolf rubbed the back of his head. "I was wondering if any of you were going to be at the football game this Saturday." "Oh yeah, we're going to be there." the brothers answered, Except for Alex. He stepped in front of the wolf. "I don't know." He ran a finger along the wolf's jaw. "What's my incentive for showing up?" Zack panted, then tried to swallow. "I can show up early, and ... you know." Alex smiled. "I'm kidding. I'll be there, you don't need to offer yourself to me for that." "Really?" The wolf sounded disappointed. "He's right," Arthur said. "You don't need to offer anything, but." He ran a finger down the wolf's chest. "If you were to lead your team to a victory, I know I'd be willing to reward you properly." "Yeah," Aaron added, "I'm sure we all would." Zack looked at them, then swallowed hard. "All of you?" Nods. "At the same time?" The smiles on the tiger's faces became even wider. "Oh, err, I, Okay. I have to go, errr, practice, yeah, right. I have to go practice." The wolf left in a hurry. They watched him go, their eyes on his ass. Aiden sighed. "He does have a great ass." "Yeah, he does," Adam agreed. "I don't know," Albert said, "I prefer his pecs. Don't look at me that way," he added when he felt his brother's stared at him. "You six as all ass obsessed. I happen to think there's more to him than just his ass." "You are absolutely right," Adam agreed. "He also has an amazing cock. Thick and veiny. I can't wait for him to fuck me." "You think he'll be able to fuck all of us after the game?" Aaron asked. "Sure," Alex replied, "but only one of us gets to feel him cum." Aiden discretely readjusted himself "Well, now that we've made sure I'm going to be hard all day, I need to get going. I have a music class in ten minutes." "I have a chemistry class," Arthur said. "I have math," Alex groaned. "I'll walk with you and offer moral support." Albert put an arm around his brother's shoulder. "I'm heading to the library." "alright," Aaron said. "I'll see you all here after class." and with that they went their separate ways. * * * * * Adam parked the minivan in the first available parking spot he saw on the street. They were downtown, and only his intimate knowledge of city streets allowed them to make it before the office closed. "Why don't we go in the underground parking?" Alexander asked. Adam looked over his shoulder. "Right, because they would let this heap in there. You probably didn't notice, but just in the time we reached this spot two Cadillacs exited while a Bentley and a Ferrari entered. This is a building where they only let people with money in." "We have money," Aiden commented. "Dads have money," Adam countered, "We're just the kids, and a minivan doesn't exactly scream 'rich family coming through'." "It's uncle Damian's building," Arthur said, looking up in awe at the tall skyscraper. "He'd let us park inside." "What's there to be impressed about?" Alex asked. "You've been downtown before. You where there when Dads won the game designer's award last year." "Sure, but this building is in our family, and it's the tallest one in the city." Alex looked out the window and smiled. "Okay, when you put it that way." "Well, we can't count on him cutting us any slack," Aaron commented. "He doesn't know where coming, so we'd have to pay anyway. It's going to be cheaper to put money in the meter. We won't be here long. Hell, he might not even see us." "You didn't call him?" Adam asked. "No." "Why not?" Aaron sighed. "Because I don't want to be here. Look. I'm sorry. I know I should have. I just couldn't get myself to do it and talk to... him." Adam looked at him with worry. "It's okay," Alexander interjected, "we're family so he's going to see us." "This isn't a family gathering," Aaron replied, "where everyone jumps from one bed the another as he pleases. This is his company; uncle Damian is a busy man." "Isn't that why it would have been better to call ahead?" Arthur asked. "No, it's a good thing Aaron didn't call," Adam replied. "For all we know he would have called dads, and we wouldn't have been able to leave school without them escorting us home. Alright, let's go." Anakin put the eight dollars in the meter and they now had half an hour. The lobby was large, with a water fountain in the middle shooting a jet of water in the air. Albert whistled at it. They attracted a few looked from the security people at the desk, but their school clothes were good enough to fit in with the other people. The elevator that took them to the top floor was large and luxurious, but played the same kind of muzak every other elevator they'd ever taken. Aiden hummed in time to it, and got stared at by his brothers. "Do you really have to do that?" Alexander asked. "I don't have my guitar to play along with it, so humming has to do." Aaron chuckled, glad for the distraction. Aiden was the musically talented one in the family. He played the guitar, the flute, the piano and the trumpet. He had perfect pitch, sang in the choir and composed his own songs. Their fathers had suggested he become a concert pianist, but Aiden didn't care for that kind of pressure. He preferred recording his songs on YouTube. He'd developed enough of a following with all the songs he'd uploaded there that he'd be an instant success if he decided to publish an album. Aaron looked at the numbers and his dread climbed with them as they come closer and closer to one hundred. "Adam," He whispered to his brother. "I can't do it. I can't be the one to talk with him." Adam squeezed his hand in comfort. "Don't worry, I'll do it. I just wish you'd tell us what happened between the two of you." Aaron closed his eyes, fighting back tears and shook his head. When the elevator dinged and the doors opened he'd gotten his tear under control and dried his eyes. They stepped out and looked at a wall with a diamond shaped glass in the middle of it. Above that a sign read: "Diamond Industries", Under the glass another sign: "Because diamonds are just coal under pressure". They stared at it for a moment. "Does that make any kind of sense to you?" Albert asked. Heads shook. "Uncle Damian must have been the one to come up with it then." Arthur said. Everyone nodded. They walked around the wall and the space opened up to cubicles and glass offices. It didn't look like there was a lot of people in the room, but they looked very busy. They headed for the largest office, at the back of the room. Like the others if was glass, but double the size, and the blinds were closed. The sign on the door read: "Damian Orr" Adam opened it. It was a reception. A gazelle was seated at the desk. She looked up from her computer at them, then at the clock on the wall. It was five forty-five. Her ears shook for a moment then she got them under control. The wall behind her was opaque, and had a door in it. "Can I help you?" she asked as they reached her desk. the plaque on it read 'Alice Turbone'. "We'd like to see Mister Orr." She looked at the clock again. "Do you have an appointment?" Adam shook his head. "Mister Orr is a very busy man." Her tone was friendly, but firm. "He doesn't have time for walk-ins. Specially not fifteen minutes from closing." Adman's smile faltered. "We're-We're his nephews. Could you check with him? Please?" She looked at him, then the others, studying them for a moment. She picked up the phone. "Mister Orr," she said after a moment. "I'm sorry to disturb you during your meeting, but there's a group of youth here who would like to know if you can find the time to see them." She listened for a moment, then looked the tigers over. "Seven of them, sir. Yes, tigers." She was silent, then surprise on her face. "Very well." She hung up. "He's wrapping up his meeting and he'll see you." "Thank you, Alice," Adam said, "thank you very much." Albert moved to the wall, studying the painting there, while the others found seats, purposely avoiding sitting close to one another. "Excuse me," he asked, looking over his shoulder, "is this an actual Rembrandt?" "No, dear, it's a reproduction." He looked at it again. "Are you sure?" "Yes, the original is in a museum." Albert frowned and moved his muzzle until it was almost touching the painting and he sniffed it. "Smells about right for the era," he mumbled to himself. He checked that she wasn't watching him and ran a finger over the part of the bottom, feeling the paint's texture. "This isn't a reproduction." He took out the small flashlight attacked to his key chain and used its powerful light to study it up close. "There's even cracks in the paint." and he thought he could see dirt in there, although that would require taking the painting to a lab to confirm. Albert took a step back and looked at the painting, the tumultuous sea, the gray sky with sun rays making their way through. The boat and the people fighting to keep it from overturning. It felt real to him. "If this is a forgery, I want to meet the painter." "Albert, stop peering holes in it and come sit down," Aaron said. Albert sat down next to him and started leaning against his brother, who cleared his throat and indicated the secretary. Albert straitened. "I don't get your fascination with those old painting. Your stuff is as good at them." Albert shrugged. "I'm no master. I just dabble in painting." "You dabble, just like Aiden plays with toy pianos. You have to stop selling yourself short. You should be studying to be a painter instead of planning on doing restoration work. There's no money in that." Albert sighed. "Can we not have this conversation again? You know I don't care about money. I want to make sure the work of the masters will survive." Aaron might have said more, but the office's door opened and an angry elephant in a very expensive gray suit stormed out. He glared at the tigers then left, slamming the door behind him. Alice didn't flinch at the sound. "Mister Orr can see you now." The seven of them entered. The office was larger than their living room, and they'd had parties with more than fifty people in that room. They now realized this office extended the entire length of the cubicle room. The only things in the room was a black desk, with two black seats, standing out against the polish white marble floor, and in front of a glass wall looking out over San Francisco. Damian stood behind the desk. "Come on in!" He had a wide smile. "I have to say this is quite the unexpected surprise. I'm afraid most of you will have to stand, this is the most people my office has ever seen at one time." "Hey uncle Damian." Adam realized he was nervous. What's wrong with you? he asked himself, you're never like this around him. You've had sex with him for God's sake. Snap out of it. But this wasn't home, in the living room or one of the bedrooms. He was in his office, and for all that he was smiling, right now the tiger before him didn't feel like his uncle, who could get him to try things he'd never dare, would be afraid to even contemplate, but would end up loving. No, here, in his environment, his uncle looked like what he was, one of the most powerful man in the world, one of the most feared. Damian directed his smile at Adam, and the teen felt himself relax a little. He knew that smile. he'd seen it often while on his back, his uncle thrusting in him. "There," Damian said, "that's better. You all know you've always been welcomed here, even if it's taken this long for you to visit." He came around the desk, hugged and kissed each one of them. leaving them smiling, blushing and sporting a hardon. even Aaron, who went stiff when his uncle wrapped his arms around him, couldn't stop himself from reacting when those lips pressed against his. He might hate his uncle, but the man was one hot kisser. Damian leaned back against his desk. "To what do I owe this pleasure." It took Adam a moment to find his voice again after that kiss. "We found out we have a brother we didn't know about." He then went on to recount the discussion with their fathers. Damian listened intently, standing eerily still. When he was done with that Alex took out a stack of papers from his bag. "We went through the attic," Adam continued, "And found a lot of papers about our births and the times before that, but nothing that helped us find out which woman disappeared with our brother. We though the contracts would help us, but that wasn't there." Damian took the papers Alex proffered. "They wouldn't keep those in the attic. They have a safe deposit box for those kinds of documents." "That's what we figured. Can you help us find him?" "Yes, I can." "What's it going to cost us?" Aaron asked. "Nothing," Damian answered. "This is family business, I wouldn't think to put a price on that. Leave these with me, and I'll let you know once I've found him." Arthur hugged him. "Thanks uncle, you're the best." "You're welcome. And if I don't see you before that, I'll make it up to all of you for missing your birthday during the summer picnic." Damian watched his nephews leave. "Alice." His phone beeped, then rang. "Yes, Mister Orr?" her voice came form the speaker. "You should have left after ushering my nephews in." he speed read the papers. "You aren't required to work pass six." "I know sir, I just wanted to make sure they wouldn't have any trouble leaving." "You are a horrible liar, Alice. You want to make sure I leave the office." "Well, you do have a bad habit of spending far too much time here." "That comes with owning and running a multinational corporation." "It doesn't mean you should be sacrificing your health to it, sir." "I promise you, Alice, I take excellent care of my health. Now, go home. Unlike me, you have a husband waiting for you, and while I'm certain he appreciates that with the kind of salary I pay you there comes some sacrifice. Tonight isn't one of those." "Does this mean you'll be leaving with me?" "Unfortunately, not tonight. I still have some work to do, but go home, Alice. Go enjoy your evening." "Alright, have a goodnight Mister Orr. I'll see you in the morning." The phone disconnected the call and he put the last page of the stack on his desk. His first instinct was to go see his two brothers and knock their heads together. What had they been thinking, letting one of their sons get away like that. What was this nonsense about them having enough kids? It wasn't about how many kids they had, it was about him being raised right. He spent the next hour making calls. Putting his best people on sifting through each and every scrap of information about his nephews' conception and the events around it. After the calls were placed he went home. It would take a few days before he had anything he could use. A good meal, some exercise, then a full night of sleep. Alice would be pleased he didn't spent the whole night in the office.
  25. Kindar

    Chapter 05

    The Missing Son 05 Patrick came awake with a start and winced as he jostled his knee. Joey was shaking his shoulder. "You said you needed to leave at six thirty. It's six fifteen." Patrick started stretching, then stopped as he pulled on his side. "Thanks." Joey handed him two twenties and a ten. "For the day." "You shouldn't be paying me for not doing any work." "I said I would. Now take it before I shove this in your pocket myself." Patrick keep the money. "Thanks." "You're welcome. I know I can't stop you from working at the bar tonight, but take it easy. And then stay home and rest up. You're not going to be helping anyone if the Sarantos get to you in this state and cut you up." "I will. It isn't like I have any work lined up for this week anyway." The bulldog nodded. "Sorry, but I'm not going to call you if I get a large delivery this week. I'll check in with you next Monday. If I believe you when you tell me you're feeling better I'll schedule some time for you." Patrick put the ice pack off his knee and handed it to Joey. "Keep it," the bulldog said. "It should be good for another twelve hours, and it's a one time use. Buy me a new one next time you're working." "How expensive it is?" "A couple of bucks, five at the most. Just grab whatever is cheapest." "I will, thanks." Patrick stood and put some weight on his leg. His knee was numb enough that the pain wasn't too strong. He took a few steps to reach his jacket. "Fuck this." Joey reached his jacket first and handed it to him. "I'm going to drive you." "I can walk. I'm not an invalid." "No, but if you force yourself to walk on it, you're going to become one. Don't argue. Come on. I'll help you." Patrick felt bad for taking Joey out of the scrap yard. At this hour there was no one else here and he could miss customers. The drive to the church took less than ten minutes, so he was there very early. "The bar you work at is only a few blocks that way, right?" "Yeah, Don's Cup." "Okay, that's not too far. Stay off that leg as much as possible Pat. I'm not kidding, if you don't take care of it, it isn't going to heal right and you'll end up limping for the rest of your life." Patrick looked at the bulldog. "You know, you're going dad on me so strong right now that you should probably think about adopting me." "Don't tempt me. There's a few times where I've felt like throwing you over my knees and spanking you for the stupid stuff you've done." "What stupid stuff?" "Don't act that way. I saw you climb that tower of junk so you could reach the sink the customer wanted." Patrick shrugged. "Nothing happened, and she really wanted that one." "Damn it, Pat. That's why I feel like spanking you. Nothing happened? it's pure fucking luck you didn't bring that whole thing down on you and her." "No, it wouldn't have, not on her anyway. If I'd felt it move in any way I would have made sure to be on the opposite side." Joey glared at him. "You are so lucky I know your mom would skin me alive if I dared lay a finger on you. Now get out, I'm sure your priest is waiting for you so he can get things started." "Yes dad," Patrick laughed as he exited the car. The bulldog glared at him again, made sure he was clear and drove away. Patrick watched him for a moment before entering the church. It wasn't large, serving only the community, and the seven pm service didn't get many people. There was only a two already seated. Most would show up closer to the start. He dipped a finger in the holy water and crossed himself before heading to the confessional. He knelt down and a moment later the panel slid open. "Forgive me father for I have sinned. It's been a week since my last confession." "What have your transgressions been my son?" "Well, I got in a fight." "Did you start it?" "No." "Did you do all you could to keep it from happening?" "I think so, but by the time it was going I was pretty angry." "Anger is a dangerous emotion my son, it often leads to sinning." "Yeah, I know." "Anything else?" "I've been angry at a few customers at the bar who were mistreating the waitresses." "And what did you do about it?" "My job, mostly. I tried to get them to calm down and leave them alone. If I couldn't I escorted them outside." "Why did you say 'mostly'?" "Because at least once I might not have been as gentle with him as I should have been." "I see." "I've also been having impure thoughts." "Of a sexual nature?" "Yeah." There was a slight chuckle from the other side. "You are a young man, those will happen." "But they're still a sin." The priest didn't reply immediately. "It's the acting on them which is the sin, and will lead you off the Path. Keeping impure thoughts out of your mind is certainly commendable, but the important thing is to keep them out of your actions. Anything else?" Patrick thought about it. "No, not that I can think of." "Very well. Say an our Father and three Ave Maria and go in peace my son." Patrick crossed himself and left the confessional to take a seat in the middle of the pews. He put the ice pack on his knee and said his prayers. People sat around him, then the service started. Father Durony was an older ram whose black fur was graying. He always spoke with passion and fought hard to keep his followers on the Path to Eden. Patrick used to listen intently to everything he said, but as he got older Patrick noticed that the ram focused a lot on the negative side of things, instead of the positive, so he wasn't as attentive an audience anymore. He wondered what he was going to do while his knee and sides healed. Maybe he could try some of those computer games he heard about at the bar. Don was addicted to Castle Crash. Jen played a lot of StarFuries. He'd listened to both of them talk about the games, but he didn't see the appeal. He'd see what books were in his list and read that. He'd have to tell his mom about his knee, and the fight, since that meant they'd have less money coming in this week. He really hoped he'd be in better shape by Friday. He couldn't afford not to work at the bar, that was where the bulk of his money came from. "And God sent two of his angels down to Sodom," Father Durony's voice boomed, "for he had seen they had lost their way. Lot, still God's servant waited for them in the city's gateway. The bowed to the winged beings with his face to the ground. 'My Lords,' he said, 'please come to your servant's house. There you can wash your feet, spend the night and be on your way in the morning.' " 'No', they answered. 'Our father bid us observe your people, and judge them on this night.' Lot insisted, for he knew his people, and they would not be judged favorably, but they insisted. 'Then, let me feed you before the night, that your mind not be clouded by hunger.' "The angels acquiesced and followed him to his house, where Lot Prepared a meal for them, Baking meat on wood of Ash, and they ate. As they finished the men of the city surrounded Lot's house. "They called to him. 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we can have sex with them.' "The Coyote went outside to meet them. 'My friends, do not do this wicked thing. Remember the path. Remember the reward for walking it.' " 'Get out of our way', they replied. 'that they came to judge us, they must know what we do.' They pushed forward, pushing Lot back to the door. "The angels stepped outside and the others were pushed back. 'Our Father sent us here on this night to judge how to bring you back to the Path. The Path is lost to you, All you follow is Sin.' "They told Lot to take his family and leave. Run as fast and as far as they could, for on this night, Sodom would be no more." The ram paused, catching his breath for a moment. "What does Genesis nineteen tell us? It tells us that God can, and will judge us at any time, and if we stray too far off the Path, God will not bring us back. It tells us that Sin is the surest way off the Path to Eden. We must fight Sin as hard as we can, or God will pass judgment on us and we will never find our way back to Eden." Patrick felt the sermon was a little harsh, after all, didn't God forgive the repentant? Or was there really such a thing as sinning so much there was no coming back from it? Patrick hoped not, although the verse did seem to indicate the sin of homosexuality was a sure way off the Path. Once the service was over Patrick waited for most to have left before standing and limping out. The air was cool again, he hoped it would start warming up soon, as he walked to the bar. Once there, Don had him sit on his stood and ordered him not to move from there. He did that even before Patrick told him about his knee, so Joey had stopped by. Fortunately, Patrick didn't have to escort anyone outside that night. Once everyone was gone, Don Drove Patrick home, against Patrick's objections. once home he put the pay from Don in his mom's check book, ate the meat pie in the oven and went to bed.

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