Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1107386-The-Man-and-The-Boy
by Chris
Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Gay/Lesbian · #1107386
A story of two lost souls whose lonely lives connect in a devastating way.
The Man And The Boy

“Day is done, gone the sun…”

         He was walking beside the forest at a little past nine. A frozen breeze blew across his body and sent a shiver up his spine. Winter nights were so stiff, so rigid, so numbing. His nose began to throb as the blood left it. The man quickly turned his head as two headlights broke over the top of a fog-shrouded hill behind him and bore through the dense winter air, unwaveringly. The lights dimmed slightly, then turned into a driveway. Red lights were suddenly visible as the vehicle backed into the street and turned. The vehicle pulled away and the man stood watching as the red lights slipped faintly over the top of the hill. All of this the man watched with curiosity.

         The man kicked at the frozen ground as he paced back and forth. He turned and began to walk up the hill, his gaze never leaving the ground. The man turned into the same driveway the vehicle had, and walked up a sidewalk that ran perpendicular to it. He stopped at the front door of the home, cautiously, as though expecting someone to see him. Two bushes guarded the doorway and the man looked to his left and right as he approached the doorknob. It was winter. One had to be careful.

         He twisted the doorknob slowly and then pushed open the wooden door. Warm, homely air brushed his bitterly frozen face as he put both feet over the threshold. The man removed his coat and laid it across a chair that sat patiently in the foyer. He trudged into his kitchen, which lay straight ahead. The aroma of love and all things that warm one’s heart in the winter wafted by his nose. 9:22, the clock showed. The kitchen was well adorned with embroidered cloths and fanciful cookware. Tope wallpaper, which could be easily seen in the brightly lit room, covered the walls. A red light emanated from the oven where cookies were baking.

         The man inhaled the aroma of his cookies and glanced at his watch. He left the kitchen and turned on a light as he walked through his living room. Hardwood floors reflected the light of a beautiful chandelier as it hung prominently in the center of the room. A large pearl white chair and matching couch were the centerpiece of the far wall. A small table with some blank paper and crayons was set on the wall opposite the couch. Aside from the few items of furniture and the chandelier, the room was nearly empty. The man walked through the middle of the room and turned off the chandelier as he left.

         As he left the living room he stepped through the doorframe into his bedroom. Cold air blew across him again. The man turned on a high-intensity light in his bedroom, which did little but cast an eerie glow on the room. His computer was set in the far right corner of the room, and the man had entered on the left. He made his way carefully to the computer and turned on the monitor. A hum filled the room as the monitor slowly brightened. The man took off his hat and tossed it on his bed. The bed was covered with various items, all of which belonged elsewhere. In truth the whole bedroom felt as though it were out of place. A cold feeling overtook his body as he stood there, the light of the monitor swallowed in the thick air of the dark room.

         The enlarged and slightly pixilated face of a young boy appeared on the man’s desktop. The man allowed a smile to creep across his face, and it looked dubiously evil in the lowlight. But to the man the smile was innocent and it released him from the tenseness the cold air had forced upon him. The man stood there for a few minutes staring at the boy’s face and then he shoved the clutter from one side of his bed and sat down. He removed his shoes and was almost ready for bed when the buzzer of the oven reminded him of his cookies.
         He was pulled from the cold world of his bedroom back out into the warmth of the kitchen by the scent of the cookies. The man left a part of himself in the bedroom though and felt only partially whole, as though he were denying the existence of part of himself whenever he left the bedroom.

         When he arrived in the kitchen he turned off the oven. A mellow glow lit the entire kitchen as the oven light turned on when the door opened. Two-dozen warm cookies lay on the baking sheet. The man picked them up, several at a time, with his calloused hands and placed them on a cooling rack he had previously set out. Impatiently he picked one up, and hot melted chocolate dripped onto his hand. The man said nothing. He just slowly licked the chocolate off and took a bite out of the cookie. Suddenly his heart sank, despite the hospitable warmth of the kitchen he had grown cold again. He lay the half eaten cookie down on the cooling rack. Suddenly he felt a deep need to share these cookies with someone. But no one was there. The man was back in his bedroom, his chilling solace again.

         He smiled once more as he saw the precious boy’s face greet him. Yet even its radiance was stifled by the silence of the room. The man walked straight to his bed and lay down. His foot sat propped up on a stuffed teddy bear.

         Through the muted light the man’s outline was visible. He was aging, but not weak. One arm he laid across the top of his head on a hard pillow, the other slowly slid down to his pants. The warmth of his groin lifted his spirits and the outline of his smiling cheeks could be seen by the backlight of the computer. The man began to breathe heavily and soon enough he was asleep.

“…From the lake, from the hills, from the sky…”

         The monitor had gone into standby long before the man awoke, but the picture it burned into his imagination was indelible and still easily visible. The bedroom was bleak and dim as ever. The morning sun’s rays were stopped completely by the dark blinds in the man’s bedroom window. The day was new, but this room was stuck in a night, a very cold night that did not desire to be warmed. The man opened his eyes and dropped his feet to the ground. Thousands of needles were pricked all at once into the man’s foot, the one he had propped up all night. He grimaced faintly and blood began to flow back into his sleeping foot. He stepped over his belongings that were strewn across the floor and made his way into the adjoining bathroom.

         Systematically, the man went about showering, brushing his teeth, and dressing. All this he did silently, though thoughts and conversations in his head never ceased. The man dressed in an undershirt that he covered with a gray sweater. He wore black corduroy pants and tan loafers. The man walked out of his bedroom, forgetting to turn off the lamp he had turned on the night before. Its light was all but invisible.

         The man walked back through his living room and kitchen and out to his front door. He grabbed his coat from the chair as it continued to sit patiently, on guard by the door. He stepped out of his house into the open air. The freedom it brought to him seemed somewhat awkward, as he had no one to share it with.
         The man turned down his sidewalk towards his car which was parked around the back of his small house. The man reconsidered and took up a brisk pace down his driveway towards the street. He needed a vigorous walk to the park. The cold kept him alive, made him think, made him dream. And dream he did, all he way to the park.

         The wooden bench creaked as he sat down on it. He propped his right elbow against the cold, wrought iron armrest, and laid his chin on his fist in a pensive position. Wind howled through the trees and beckoned to the man, like the voices of hundreds of lonely children, calling to his empty heart. The man watched a small girl at play. She darted back and forth through a patch of tall grass, chasing what the man assumed to be a bug. But there were no bugs in winter. She was imagining the bug, and even as her chase was futile, it brought her joy. For it was not the bug she desired, but the catch. It was not what one held, but the fact that one was holding something. All this the man pondered as he watched the children at play.

         In the corner of his eye he saw a young boy, maybe ten or eleven years old approaching him at his right. The boy was holding a frog in his hand. How sad, the man thought, that the boy did not even know the oils on his hand would kill the frog within several hours. The boy simply wanted to play with the frog, but in doing so, he would kill it. Was this a worthy price to be paid for contentment? The man produced a several month old newspaper page from his right-hand pocket. He pretended to read as his peripheral vision followed the boy. The child walked directly in front of the man sitting on the cold park bench, and for a fateful second, the boy strayed from the man’s sight. As he did, the man extended his feet, stretching out on the park bench. The boy’s feet tripped clumsily over the man’s extended legs. The boy’s attention momentarily strayed from the dying frog. His hands extended out as he braced to hit the ground. The man however, was somehow aware of all that was occurring. He stuck out his leg and tightened his muscles just as the boy’s weight came bearing down upon him.
          “Whoa there boy,” the man said, as that dubious smile appeared on his face again.
          “Oh, sir, I sure am sorry,” responded the boy. As he did his tightened fist relaxed, and the frog’s limp body spilled slowly out onto the ground. Dead. Already. And by no fault of its own. It was simply an accident.
          “Looks like I saved you there, huh, buddy?”
          “Sure, sir, I suppose.”
         The boy looked up at the man’s face. He seemed to be pondering something, the boy did now know what, though.
          “What you thinking, sir?”
          “Thinking you owe me, boy.”

         All too quickly the boy felt out of place. For some reason his personal boundaries felt encroached upon, threatened. He wanted to leave. He raised himself off the ground and bent over to brush himself off. Dead, crushed winter leaves were all tangled in the fibers of his wool sweater. The boy picked leaf pieces from his sweater and then bent down to brush them off his legs. The man reached out a hand and began to do the same. The boy recoiled with a shocked look on his face.
          “Only trying to help.”
         The boy smiled timidly, and stood tall on his feet.
          “Alright, well I’ll see you later,” said the boy.
          “When?” asked the man.
          “I was just meaning goodbye, that’s all,” responded the boy, taken aback by the man’s question.”
          “Well I killed your frog now, I think its best I made amends with the amphibian world. What say we go buy you a new one?"
          “I don’t think I need to be out with strangers.”
          “Would a stranger offer to buy you a new frog?” asked the man.
         The boy shrugged, and agreed to go along with the man. The man smiled, revealing slightly yellow teeth that seemed to dully glisten in the morning sun. A stiff, cold wind picked up as the two walked to the local pet store. The boy shivered and it seemed only to grow colder as they walked. The man put his hand down on the boy’s neck. The boy would normally have drawn back from this advance, but the man’s hand was surprisingly warm. The boy lowered his eyebrows, confused.
          “Nice day, huh, boy?”
         This man seemed not to be at all affected by the chilling cold. Rather it seemed to bring out the best in him, or at least it revealed some portion of truth that the boy could sense but not understand.

         The two arrived at the store at ten in the morning. The man motioned for the boy to wait outside as he went in to buy the new frog. The boy wanted to come in, but in lieu of better judgment, decided not to question the man’s orders. The man was, after all, much older and smarter. A bell jingled as the door to the pet shop closed behind the man. Suddenly the boy was alone again. Alone as had been for three days now. Alone because his mother had left him that way. She had lowered her window with the crank in the door of the car. She extended her face out of the window and chewed her bubble gum annoyingly loud. The words she said would be forever etched into the heart and mind of the boy.
          “Who needs a damned kid when they ain’t got a man?”

         The boy couldn’t answer that question directly. Only he knew that deep inside he needed a mother, whether she needed him or not. Perhaps that is why he went along with the man. Perhaps he wanted this man so his mother would love him again. Or maybe he was simply lonely, and this felt right. But inside his developing body, something, a flag, somewhere waved and told him this was wrong, this man was wrong, and it would do nothing but drive he and his mother further apart. A tear began to fall from his left eye just as the bell jingled and the door to the pet store opened. The man reappeared holding some sort of frog. The boy assumed it to be a frog at least, though tears welling in his eyes had distorted his vision. The man opened his mouth to speak, but was silenced by the boy’s tear. It twinkled in the rising sun and all the morning’s innocence was reflected into the man’s soul. The man smiled delicately and reached out his empty hand. He cupped the boy’s head with his fingertips and brushed the tear away softly, though another fell in its place. The man ran his hand through the boy’s hair. He stared thoughtfully at the boy while the boy continued to weep.

          “Let’s get on home now,” said the man.
         The boy had not the strength to move, not even the strength to tell the man that the boy had no home. Somehow though, the boy felt that didn’t matter. The home they were going to was not his, nor was it supposed to be. But maybe after a while it could become his home, at least in his imagination and heart.
         The walk was cold and long back to the man’s house.

“…All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.”

         They sat silently in the man’s living room. The man sat on his pearl white couch with his legs crossed and his arm propped along the top edge of the couch. He sat smiling as he watched the boy playing with some toys he found. The only thing that drew the man’s gaze from the playing boy was an intermittent hum from the computer in his bedroom. Something continued to pull the man’s attention back to the boy though. It was his movements; so childlike and innocent. The man relished in the happiness the boy had found. Unknowingly the boy was sharing every moment and every sentiment with the man, who was lustfully observant.

         The man’s eyes darted all over the boy’s body. His smooth young legs were tanned and hairless and the man could see the boy’s calf muscles flexing with each movement of his body. His arms were tanned as well, and small veins protruded from the surface while the boy clutched his toys. His hands diligently moved to manipulate the toys to his liking. They were the method of his enjoyment, and they were used unknowingly. The boy bent over on all four and looked along the hardwood floor at ground level, one eye open, the other closed. The boy’s buttocks and back arched into the air and the man admired the tight curves, his eyes tracing from the boys neck to his feet and back up again. The man pressed his tongue to his lips firmly and swallowed.

         Suddenly the man was pulled from his trance-like state as he realized what it was the boy was doing. His toy car had rolled under the couch and he was looking for it. The smile fell from the man’s face and he grimaced as he bent over and reached under the couch. He groped for the car and his hand patted along the hardwood floor until it felt a plastic toy car. Just before the man told the boy he had found the car, he reconsidered.

          “Cookie?” he said, inquisitively.
          “Sure,” the boy said.
         The man got up and rubbed the boys back as he pushed himself off the floor. The two walked into the kitchen and the man nodded to the cookies he had left out the night before. The boy ran feverishly to the counter and began to stuff cookies into his mouth. He chewed them quickly and smiled with his mouth full at the man. The man’s heart jumped and sped up as the setting sun’s rays began to fall through the kitchen window. They shone just behind the boy and the man could see the outline of his smiling, cookie-stuffed cheeks. The man watched as the boy ate almost half of the cookies, both of them smiling all the while.

         Once the boy could eat no more, the man led him back through the living room, this time all the way to the doorway of the bedroom. The man opened the door and extended his arm, leading the boy in. He walked in willingly, happily. He had let his guard down. The boy’s smile faded as the cold air blew past him. The air was so close and dark. The man walked to the dark blinds and in one motion, threw them open revealing his room to the boy. Household items were scattered about the floor. The bed was covered with blankets, teddy bears, pillows, and other stuffed toys. A child’s bed, the boy thought. On the floor were children’s clothes. They looked as though they were never worn, however, they were all wrinkled and uncared for.

         In an instant the boy felt something wrong. And as if to confirm this feeling, the man bumped into his computer table, moving the mouse, and turning on the monitor. The boy saw his own face in the computer screen. His eyes stared back at him, trapped behind the glass. They looked so solemn and pleading. The boy turned, realizing his situation, but it was too late. The door closed gently behind him and the man approached.

         The man extended out a hand and took the boys shoulder, delicately. He brushed his other hand through the boy’s soft, blonde hair. The boy began to weep quietly. The man brushed away the tears in a sweeping motion with his thumb.
          “Don’t cry, bab-,” his words faded out as he chocked up.

         A tear fell from the man’s face; a tear of joy. The man leaned down and kissed the boys forehead. Unexpectedly, the boy summoned all his strength and flailed his arms, breaking away from the man. He jumped towards the door as quickly as he could and the man reached out in vain, grasping for the boy. The boy dashed through the living room and the kitchen. He ran out the front door, only steps in front of the sprinting man. All this the chair observed, sitting patiently, waiting only to hold the coat again.

         The boy turned left out of the driveway, down a large hill. His soft, tender feet were cut open on sticks and rocks. He reached the edge of the forest, now well ahead of the tiring man. The boy ran into the dark forest, and the suns dying rays nearly all failed to follow. The boy looked over his shoulder, glancing at the man. He was growing closer again. Suddenly, not one hundred yards into the forest, the boy felt a limb catch his neck. It stopped his motion, his feet were flung from beneath him, and he fell to the ground. The man never stopped running.

         The boy’s feet were bleeding badly and his neck seemed to be dripping blood too. The man came to the boy slowly, as if not wanting to scare him away. The boy tried to stand, but he could not. One of his legs had been broken when he fell. The boy cried, and from the deepest corner of his heart he yearned only to die if it would save him from the pain. The man was crying profusely as he approached the boy who was trying futilely to drag himself away.
          “Why did you leave me?”

         The boy did not respond. He began to shiver as the chill set deep into his body. His teeth clacked together in both fear and bitter cold. His tears froze on his face as the man knelt down at his side. The boy stopped dragging himself away. He was too tired.
          “You shouldn’t ever run from someone who loves you,” said the man, pleadingly, as tears fell from his own cheeks. “Why?” he cried out loudly and slowly.

         The boy opened his mouth to speak, but before he could utter a word the man pulled a knife from its holster on his leg. He thrust it into the boy’s throat and drew it across slowly. He could feel cartilage, muscles, and tendons all being severed. Blood flowed in thick streams down the boy’s neck and onto his chest; what little light fell down into the forest glistened off the innocent boy’s blood. As the man stared at the dying boy, a small frog hopped by him. He leaned over and picked up the frog carefully in his hand. He stroked it slowly and began to cry. The man cried loudly, retching all the angst from his soul and pouring it forth in tiny tears of release. He stared blankly ahead as tears cascaded down his cheeks. They fell from the man’s chin and dripped onto the boy where they pooled with blood on his cold, motionless chest.

© Copyright 2006 Chris (cwarrenc at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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