Thursday, August 16, 2007

Love Story

Well, I blather on about writing (occasionally - it's amazing how infrequently I update this blog), so here's a sample of what I'm doing. It's a short story, very different from my usual stuff and probably un-sellable (I can't think of a market for it), but I am quite proud of bits of it. If anyone is out there, let me know what you think - Brickbats accepted alongside bouquets!

(Sorry about the formatting - haven't figured out how to get it right yet...)

Love Story

The two boys stood in the doorway.
“So?” the tallest one asked.
The other one pulled his coat around himself and scowled. “I’m thinking, alright?”
“Easy enough question, I would have thought. You’re just stalling.”
The boy still didn’t answer. For a moment they stood there, breath visible in the early evening air.
The taller boy sighed in an exaggerated way, but it didn’t prompt a reply. He knew that Pete was cold, but there was nothing he could do about that. It could end up being a long boring night – in some ways, he wished it would be – and talking was the best way to pass it.
“C’mon,” he prompted.
“It’s not that easy,” Pete snapped. “You’ve got all the other stuff to think about. Like one of them has a whole army backing him up, but the other is, like, super.”
“So who’d win in a fight, then,” Kev repeated. “Darth Vader or Superman?”
Pete wasn’t that much smaller than his interrogator, but he had the makings of being a short and stocky adult whereas Kev was always going to be tall and gangly. And even though Kev was two years older than him – well, one year seven months, as Pete often pointed out if the other boy tried to show off because of his age – even then Pete thought that he was the smarter one of the two. He might only be eleven but he thought things through, tried to way up all the odds, hence his not wanting to be rushed on this important question.
“I think it’d be Darth Vader,” Pete finally said. “’Cos he’s got like warships and them stalky things from Return Of The Jedi.”
“ATAT Walkers?”
“Yeah, them, and they could stomp Superman into the ground.”
Kev shook his head. “Don’t be bloody stupid,” he said. “Superman could lift one of those like it was a puppy. Darth Vader’d be dead in a minute.”
“Nah,” Pete countered, “Vader’s clever - he’d use kryptonite on him. I bet he’d have one of those things just made out of kryptonite, just to stomp Superman.”
Kev thought for a moment. “Does Darth Vader even know kryptonite exists?” he asked, but before Pete could answer, a shadow fell across the two of them.
“Excuse me, lads,” said a deep voice.
The boys looked up at the man who wanted to come past them. As they parted, one to either side of the doorway, Pete caught his eye.
“Business?” he said.
The man paused for a moment and looked at them. His face was unreadable and both boys were ready to run if necessary.
But not this time.
Without saying another word, the man put one hand on Kev’s shoulder and the two of them went into the toilets together.

“Slow night,” said Pete, and Kev nodded.
They were back in their squat, having finally decided that there were no more punters out that night.
“’S the weather,” the older boy agreed. “It’s hardly warm enough in the cottage, let alone out. Who wants a cold hand grabbing your cock, anyway?”
“That last guy wanted me to run my hands under the hot taps before I pulled him off,” said Pete. “Not that there was much hot water in ‘em. Only just warmed me up as it was.”
The two of them were silent for a moment.
The squat that the two boys had found was in an old council house scheduled for demolition. The doors were blocked with sheets of wood and the windows were covered over too, but someone as small as Pete could find his way inside and open up for his friend. They had been there for two weeks, which was a long time. Every night they returned to it expecting someone else to be there, to have to leave and find another squat. There would be no arguing, no claims to prior ownership – both the boys had received harsh treatment from other homeless before.
For the moment, the boys were holed up in the dining room of the house. It was empty of all furniture, but – being in the middle of the house – it allowed them an escape route through either the front or the back should there be trouble. Plus it was probably the best insulated room, if they closed all the doors leading to it.
“I could just go a burger right now,” Pete said.
Kev looked up. “Well, we’ve got some money now. Should’ve said before we got home.”
“Yeah, I know. I don’t wanna go out again either. Just saying.”
Kev nodded and they were quiet again.
“You called it Home,” Pete said after a few minutes.
The other boy thought for a moment. “Yeah, suppose I did. So?”
“Just don’t remember you calling anywhere else that before. ‘S funny.”
“You think it is Home?” Kev said, knowing that his friend was lost in thought about the subject.
“Nah,” Pete said. “Home is somewhere after all this. Somewhere with a wife and kids.”
“Remember Frank?” Kev asked. Pete nodded – Frank had been the wino that Kev had been sharing a squat with when the two boys had met. He’d been good as a room mate as long as he was drunk; sober he was a mean bastard who wasn’t beyond beating the shit out of Kev. Together, the two boys had kept him supplied with drink until they had realised that they could probably get on better on their own.
“Frank used to say that Home was licking his wife’s cunt.”
Pete looked at his friend for a minute, not sure what to say. In the end, he managed, “I didn’t know he was married.”
“Yeah, before us. Before the drink. Long time ago.”
“Sort of know what he means, though,” Pete said.
There was more silence between the boys. Outside, the wind howled around the house.
“This Home,” Kev said, “the one after all this, am I there?”
“Sort of,” Pete replied. “You’re not there there, ‘cos that’s just me and the wife and the kids. But you’re probably living next door.”
“With my own wife?”
Pete nodded. “Of course.”
Kev lay back on the dusty floor and stared at the cracked ceiling. “That’d be good,” he said.
“Time to get some sleep, I think” said Pete. He got up and walked across the room to where an old blanket had been thrown. He lifted it and shook it, dust and the smell of mildew rising from the material. “It’ll do another night, I think.”
There was no reply from Kev so he took it his decision was right.
Pete walked back over to his friend and threw the blanket over him. Then he lay down next to him on the floor and pulled the blanket over both of them. The two boys spooned together naturally for warmth.
Kev felt his friend hold onto him and listened to the wind outside. Just as he was falling asleep though, Pete said his name. Just a whisper in his ear, but the older boy replied.
“Kev,” Pete said. “Do you think that when we get older, when we’re married and all that…”
“D’you think we’ll be punters too?”
Kev thought about it for a moment and then replied to his friend.
“Probably,” he said. “Probably.”