Last Updated – 8/12/19. It’s finished! Thanks all for your patience with this one. New stuff will be coming tomorrow.
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Table of Contents
Arc One: Kevin and Steve
- Metawriting: Straight Town Notes #1
- Metawriting: Straight Town Notes #2
- Metawriting: Straight Town Notes #3
- Metawriting: Straight Town Notes #4
“Do you ever think about how much easier it would be if we were straight?”
“What? Eww, no.”
“No, I mean, come on–just entertain it for a second.”
Kevin looked out the window of the car at the prairie around them as they drove down the two lane highway, and figured he had nothing else to do except entertain it, for Steven’s sake. “Fine, so I’m straight. Now why is this so great again?”
“I mean, don’t you get tired, sometimes?”
“Don’t tell me you’re going to try and go back in the closet, because it’s a bit too late for that.”
“No, I mean…Look, maybe it would be different, if I’d grown up where you did, but where I’m from, anyone who was a faggot–who everyone decided was a faggot–fuck, a kid killed himself when I was a sophomore, because a bunch of kids humiliated him at school enough, and…I don’t know…”
Kevin sat up and looked over at Steve, who was driving, their car. They’d decided to take a week after college was out and drive across the country–well, it was Steve’s idea, really, and Kevin thought he loved the guy enough to give being cooped up in a little sedan with him a shot. But after a few days of this, he was beginning to wonder if this was really, well, if Steve was ready for this. “I mean, I was out in high school, sure, but that didn’t make it easy, trust me. Even in a liberal neighborhood like mine–or at least a place that thought it was–there’s plenty of assholes everywhere. I’m sorry about that kid though…did you know him well?”
“No way, if you got anywhere near him, people figured you were gay too.”
“And that’s the kind of person you want to be?”
“I don’t want to–I’m just saying, don’t you wish you were normal? That everything could just be easy for you? Maybe it’s easier for you, but going home, keeping everything pent up inside me, it just makes me want to scream a bit, you know? I’m just so terrified, all the fucking time, of my dad, of my brothers, of everyone. I’m supposed to be this big manly football jock, pride of the whole damn town, and when they find out…fuck, I don’t want to know what they’ll do.”
“So tell them.”
“That’s easier to say than to do, trust me.”
“It’s not easy, for anyone, I don’t think. My mom still talks about how she’s going to have grandkids, and I don’t know how to break it to her that she’s not going to have the little scamps running around when she gets older.”
“Wait, you…don’t want kids?”
“And you do?”
“I mean…I mean, yeah, I…just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you can’t have kids.”
“Of course it doesn’t, but why the fuck would you want them? They’re little nightmare monsters, tiny gremlins that ruin lives. No more parties when you have to stay home changing diapers. Besides, the fucking planet is dying, and no one is doing shit about that. You really want to have a kid, and try and explain to them that they’re probably going to be growing up into some fucking wasteland.”
“It…I mean…” Steve went quiet, his brow furrowed, and while Kevin knew he was right, he couldn’t help but sense that, from Steve’s perspective, he had crossed a line somewhere. He looked back out the window, and saw a sign pass them by, letting them know that they were coming up on a small town, the name of which Kevin didn’t care enough about to try and remember. They all started looking the same, at some point. He’d imagined that this would give him some perspective, but if anything, it all just felt…flatter. Every town was dying, every person looked miserable, every woman seemed to have five kids surrounding her, no matter how young she looked. He just wanted to get to a city again, feel…something vibrant–more vibrant that this dismal bullshit flatness of the country’s great middle. He just felt sorry for them. He knew about the problems there, he read the news, but where Steve seemed to breathe a little deeper around here, Kevin just wanted to be gone, and he wanted out of this car, and increasingly, he was beginning to think that he wanted out of this relationship, more than anything else. Sure, Steven was sexy, and dating and fucking a football player checked a lot of his high school boxes, but maybe they were just…too different to have a future together.
“Isn’t having kids a reason to do right by them?” Steve said, after a pause.
“It is, but most people don’t,” Kevin said, “Kids are accessories, and tools, and–hell, why are we even talking about this?”
“It’s about the future, Kevin.”
“It’s their future, not ours,” Kevin said, “Even if we have kids, even if we act straight, and pass, and you coach football camp, and I’m on the church council, and even if we do everything we can to be normal, to fit that future–there’s still no room for us. There has to be something else. We have to make something else, if we’re going to find a home anywhere.”
“That’s because it is. But it’s still easier than trying to fit into their box, because you can never do that, no matter how they pitch it.”
Steve looked away from the road for a moment, over at Kevin in his flannel shirt and jeans. He looked uncomfortable. He looked like he wanted to be anywhere but here, with Steve or without. Did he want kids himself? It had been such a key part of his life for so long, the older brother with three younger siblings, he had thought for so long that of course he would. He had to–that’s what you did. But figuring out he was gay, going to college, there were so many things he didn’t have to assume anymore–and that was harder than anything. Steve didn’t really know if he did want kids or not, but he felt…obligated to defend them all the same, after listening to Kevin. He hated that. He hated how he felt like…a reaction to him, to everyone. His parents wanted him to be one thing, and Kevin…Kevin wanted him to be something else, something just as difficult, in its own way. What if he didn’t want to change? What if he just wanted to be himself, instead of being someone that someone else wanted him to be? It was confusing, and frustrating, and he didn’t think that Kevin understood any of it. As far as Kevin was concerned, Steve should be happy to be out of the place he grew up. Now he could be Gay–Properly Gay– Gay In All The Best Ways. His past was something to be corrected. At best, his heritage–his slight twang, his boot cut jeans, his love of the rodeo–could only be warped and turned into drag. A costume. A masculinity he could wear for the enjoyment of others.
It was getting late, the sun slipping into the golden hour, as they passed the first few rundown farm houses and trailers of the small town they were entering. “We should find somewhere to eat–I’m getting hungry.”
“Fine, but we’re not staying here tonight, this place creeps me the fuck out.”
“You say that about every town smaller than 500 people.”
“Yeah, because you gotta be a little creepy to think this is a normal way to live.”
Steve bit his tongue, and turned onto the town’s Main Street. A general store, a gas station, a tavern, a few other small shops with more dedicated purposes. There were people out and about in the evening, doing a bit of shopping. There were a surprising number of kids, and everyone seemed…happy, for the most part, but Steve knew all to well that the happiness was more shallow than they would ever let on, especially with a stranger.
“Looks like there’s a tavern, and…the tavern,” Steve said, as they drove down the street.
“Oh yay, another tavern, I’m sure it will have the same shitty beer and bad bar food as the last several. Maybe they’ll even have a special tonight,” he sighed as Steve parked, “I just want one cocktail. Not some manly fucking thing like an old fashioned, something dainty and sweet and electric blue.”
“We’ll hit Chicago tomorrow probably, and we’ll get you hooked up, don’t worry.”
“Thank god, civilization.”
“It isn’t that bad out here, you know.”
“That’s just the Stockholm Syndrome talking, I think.”
They got out of the car and walked back towards the tavern, along the cracked and weedy sidewalk. “You know, if you hate it that much, why did you come along?”
“Because I thought we’d be taking the Interstates.”
“And miss everything?”
“Yes–and miss all of this,” Kevin said, “Look, I know you want to defend it, I get it, but none of these people would defend you–you know that, right? They’d all happily run us out of town, if not throw us in jail, if they thought we were a couple of faggots.”
“They aren’t all bad, Kevin, and there are faggots out here too. Ones who can’t get out.”
Kevin shrugged. “Guess they should try harder then.”
“You’re such a fucking piece of shit sometimes.”
“So what? I mean it.”
Steve grumbled something under his breath as they stepped into the tavern. It was, really, a rearranged version of the same tavern they’d been in the last few towns they’d stopped over in. Neon beer signs all around, only domestic brands, naturally. A pool table and/or pair of dart boards, depending on space and local preference. Two TV’s, both of them tuned to different sports channels, and both of them playing a bit too loud. A cluster of older men around the bar, chatting with each other and with the bartender, who eyed them as they stepped inside and took a seat at a booth along the wall. He seemed…suspicious, but that was the same look too, that they always got in places like this.
“Hey boys, haven’t seen you around here. Passing through?” the young waitress said as she came up to the table, and set down a pair of coasters, and some menus. “Can I get you a couple of beers?” It was clear that she was dressed to impress the men who came in here, with his shirt tied up, exposing her midriff, and accenting her breasts. Kevin wondered if he should stare at them or not–he’d never really known what to do around women.
“Sure thing,” Steve said, putting on his twang, and Kevin bit his tongue. He always got quiet in these places, a bit too nervous. He wasn’t really used to acting, like Steve was.
She nodded, and went back behind the bar to get their beers, and Steve and Kevin saw that their entrance had attracted the eyes of the rest of the men at the bar, and one man, in particular, seemed very excited to see them. He was an older gentleman, probably around fifty or so, and he got up from his stool and walked over to them, grinning. “Howdy fellas, as mayor, I’d like to welcome ya to Derryville. Roger Derry is the same–if you need anything while you’re here, you let me know, ya hear?” he grinned, and when the waitress came back with their beers, he pulled her close to him, around the waist, and she yelped a bit. “Candy, you treat these two boys real nice, right? And you two, Candy here sure could use a strapping fella like one of you to settle down with–if ya feel like staying!” he guffawed at that, and no one else laughed–not even the other men at the bar. Roger looked from Candy, over at the two men, and saw that neither of them seemed particularly interested in his suggestion, and with a curious expression, excused himself, and Candy took their orders off the menu, and took them back to the kitchen.
Over at the bar, Roger kept sneaking glances at the two of them, and neither Steve nor Kevin wanted to try and figure out what he was mulling over. He didn’t seem…angry, or disgusted. Just…like he was thinking hard, like something had gone…screwy, but neither of them knew what it could be. Candy seemed relieved, a bit, when she brought out their food–maybe she’d become a bit too accustomed to men toying with her during her shift. Around the time their food came, Roger excused himself and left the restaurant, giving the two young men one last glance before he left.
Kevin and Steve decided to eat as quick as they could and get out of town before the mayor decided to do something about, well, whatever he was thinking about the two of them, they didn’t really want to know. They hadn’t seen an inn anywhere in town, which while a bit odd, just encouraged them to get a move on and find a motel a little further on where they could stay instead. The meal went find however, the rest of the men gave them no issue–though from the yelps, Candy got a fair share of slaps on her ass from them as she served them at the bar. Neither Kevin nor Steve really knew what to do about it, so they just ignored it–it wasn’t their problem, right? They finished their meals, left enough cash to cover it and a generous tip for Candy, and then decided to leave–the mayor hadn’t shown up yet, so maybe they’d make it out without a problem–if they were quick.
“Hold on, I just gotta piss,” Kevin said.
“I’ll be quick, alright?”
“You’re never quick. I just want to get back on the road.”
“Well, unless you want me pissing on the seats, you can wait a couple of minutes.”
Steve sighed, and Kevin hustled off to the back of the bar and into the men’s room, leaving Steve alone by the door–just as the mayor returned, naturally. Steve didn’t want to engage with him, but before he could say anything, he saw who the mayor had walking with him, and his jaw dropped. As much as he loved Kevin–and Steve did suspect he loved him–Kevin had never really been Steve’s type. In his heart, he always kind of longed for the sort of guy he’d grown up with–in particular, one of his cousins, tough enough to put him in a head lock, but there had been that one time, when they got drunk of his uncle’s moonshine, and his cousin had sucked him off, and…and fuck, if his cousin’s spitting image didn’t strut in the door that second–or almost his cousin.
His build was a little smaller, his frame a bit lighter. He didn’t…exude masculinity like his cousin had. He was a guy, but…but in other ways, he wasn’t. Steve didn’t really know how to process that, in his mind, but the resemblance was keen enough that his cock didn’t care–it was rock hard, and the young fellow…was looking right at it.
“Ah good, I caught ya before ya could jet off again–guess I didn’t have to slash those tires after all,” the mayor said. “Now–I think you said your name was Steve, right?”
Steve nodded. He couldn’t recall giving the mayor his name, but he was right.
“Now, I think you and Christian ought to get to know each other a bit better–Christian, why don’t you take Steve back home with you, where you two can get more comfortable. I’ll be by a bit later to help out.”
Christian…looked resigned, and a bit scared. Steve saw that, but it wasn’t enough for him to really feel that…concerned. Mostly he was just horny, and it was clear that Christian wanted him–he could…smell it, or know it, or something. Maybe he just wanted it enough for both of them, but Christian took his hand and led him out of the tavern, the rest of the men just watching in silence, while the mayor beamed in delight. “So nice, getting some new blood in here. It’s been getting a bit stale. Now, where’s the other one?” he asked the men at the bar, and one of them, after a moment, replied, “He’s in the bathroom, Roger.”
“Ah, good. Send him out here when he’s done, would you?”
The mayor looked at the line of somewhat grim faces at the bar, and shook his head. “Come on now men, buck up! The more the merrier, right? Don’t ya want what’s best for this town? That’s why ya elected me mayor–don’t forget. Mayor for life, as long as we keep the contract going strong. Haven’t I given you everything you asked for?”
One of the men hocked a wad of tobacco spit into a spittoon on the floor, by the barstool, “Not everyone here now was around tah have a vote in it,” he said.
“Well, we all have to abide by the rules where we reside. This is, after all, a society,” Roger said. “Send the boy out when he’s done.”
Roger stepped back out of the tavern, and a minute later, Kevin emerged from the bathroom, shaking his drying hands–it had not been pretty in there, but he’d had to go. He looked around the bar, but didn’t see Steve anywhere by the booth where they’d been sitting, or by the door–but every man at the bar was staring directly at him. Before Kevin could say anything, one of them got up, hocked a wad of spit on the floor, and stomped over towards him. “Now listen here, faggot,” the man said, “You need to get the fuck out of this fuckin’ town–and you need to go right fuckin’ now.”
It wasn’t the first time someone had called him names in his life, but Kevin could sense that something about this guy was different. The words…didn’t really feel angry, or hateful. The big redneck sounded scared, more than anything else. “Trust me, I have no interest in staying. Where’s my friend.”
“Forget about him–fucking listen to me. You have to get out of here. It’s too fucking late for him, but you can still get the hell out of here, if you leave now. Not out the front, he’s waiting out there, go out the back. Don’t go for the car, just run North as fast as you can, follow the road outside. It’s the closest distance to the city limits. Get the fuck out of here, and never fucking come back, you hear me?”
“What–what the fuck did you do to Steve?”
“It wasn’t us–now fucking run!” the man said, and gave Kevin a shove back behind the bar. The bartender motioned towards the backdoor, through the kitchen, and not really understanding what the deal was with this place, he left–he had to find Steve, and then he would get the hell out of here for sure–these people were nuts. He’d just duck out the back, get out, and go find Steve–probably waiting for him at the car, ready to get the hell out of here as well. He got out of the door, and found himself in an alleyway with a couple of dumpsters and not much else. He turned to loop back around the building, but found that he wasn’t alone.
A young man, not much older than he was probably, was standing next to a motorcycle. He looked dusty and sweaty, like he had spent the day on the road, and just got back into town for a drink. He looked over at Kevin, and the look…fuck, Kevin was rock hard in an instant, and he couldn’t quite figure out why. The guy wasn’t…not his type, but there was also something a bit off about him, like he wasn’t quite who he appeared to be. The way he walked, the way his hips seemed to sway, even the sizable bulge in the front of his jeans didn’t quite…sit right.
“Sigh, I figured as much. They told you to come out the back, didn’t they?”
It wasn’t the young man speaking, but a familiar voice behind him. Kevin looked back, and saw Roger, the mayor, come around the corner of the building. “You…where did…” Kevin looked back, and lost his words as soon as he saw the young biker again. He was coming closer, and before Kevin could do anything, he had his arms around Kevin’s shoulders and was kissing him–and Kevin found himself kissing back, tasting the sun, and the wind, and the oil and gas, and…and so much else. It tasted like freedom, and rebellion, and so many things he’d wanted, but never known how to articulate.
“You wanted to ask something?” Roger asked again, but Kevin didn’t say anything–he was too lost in the young man’s kiss. “It you’re wondering where that other boy got off to, don’t worry–he’s doing just fine. You’ll be doing just fine here too–Mike, why don’t you offer Kevin here a ride? Take him over to your place, get…comfortable. I’ll be by in a little while to help the two of you get adjusted properly.”
Mike sighed, but did as the mayor told him. Led Kevin over to the bike, and together, they rode off, Kevin behind him, grinding his cock into Mike’s ass, overwhelmed with a lust he could neither explain, nor deny. As they turned down Main Street, he swore he saw Steve being pulled along by…someone, but he didn’t have a chance to do anything about it, as the stranger headed for the edge of town.
Roger gave his knuckles a crack back behind the bar, and ducked into the tavern, where the men were all sitting in silence. “Alright, which one of you thinks he’s a smartass?”
None of the men said anything–but no one gave up the fellow who had told Kevin to go out the back either.
“You know,” Roger continued, when it was clear he wasn’t going to get an answer, “It isn’t easy, keeping things growing around here. Twenty years ago, this place was on death’s door–now look at it! Families on every corner, children all over the place–there’s not a town in America that doesn’t wish it had it as good as you do. Now I know that my methods rankle some of you in the community, but this is what ya’ll wished for.”
“Some of us,” one of the men said. “If yer really so confident, maybe you should have another vote.”
“Now, now, Mayor for life. That was the deal. Don’t get in my way again–you know how I feel about people getting in the way of progress.”
With that, Roger stepped back out onto the sidewalk and headed in the direction Steve had gone with Christian, whisting as he walked, saying hi to each person he passed my name, and spending extra time with the kids. So many happy children! It gave him such energy, seeing them all running around, happy. There’d be even more tomorrow. Two in one day–five in this year so far! They were bigger now, bigger every time. It had taken a lot of work, a lot of failure too, off and on, but Roger had done it. He’d turned this dead little town right around. So what if a few fucks didn’t like it? He knew what was best–he always had. That’s why he was mayor after all–that, and a few tricks up his sleeve.
“Dad, it’s time to get up dad! Mom says it’s almost time for breakfast!”
Steve opened his eyes blearily at the two small children who had climbed up on the bed and were crawling all over him, and for one horrifying moment, he simply had no idea who they were. Just…two strange children, no older than ten, that he had never seen before in his life–but then it was like some gear in his mind, one that hadn’t quite been running correctly, kicked into gear, and he recognized them–they were his kids, Jessica and Graham, of course. Who…who else would they be? He pushed the horror away as best he could, and wrestled them off in the bed, playing with them both until Christine–their mother and his wife–appeared in the bedroom doorway, apron on and dusted with a bit of flour. “Kids, let your father up! He’s going to be late if you keep roughhousing.”
The kids muttered and moaned, but did as their mother asked, and climbed off the bed, allowing Steve to swing his legs off the side, and look around him, at the bedroom he’d woken up in–at his bedroom. Why was all of this so…strange to him, this morning? Perhaps it was a dream he’d had? He could…seem to recall something like a dream, but with the morning, it was already evaporating, and something told him…was whispering to him that it wasn’t much worth remembering anyway. In any case, Christine was right–his shift at the station started at ten, and he didn’t usually sleep in this late, but last night…had been strange.
He headed for the bathroom, hoping that a shower would help him feel better, and in some ways, it did. He felt cleaner, at least, but the act of getting out of his pajamas and looking at himself in the mirror–it was unsettling, even though he knew nothing in the mirror was out of sorts. It was just…him. Thirty-five. Hairline receding more and more each day, it seemed like, but buzzed short to keep it less noticable. His mustache was neat and tidy–he got it trimmed at the barber’s every Tuesday, and it was Wednesday…wasn’t it? He couldn’t quite remember going to the barber yesterday. In fact, he wasn’t quite sure what he’d been doing yesterday. He could…vaguely recall driving a car, someone in it with him, but when he turned and tried to look at the passenger, it was like…a void. Like the inside of the car was just a black hole, and he shuddered. That, he was certain, was part of the dream last night. Of course he’d been to the barber yesterday. He always went to the barber, and his mustache and hair were trimmed up, so what other explanation was there?
The shower proper was disconcerting as well. His body felt…off, when he ran his hands over it. Too hairy in some places, too fat in others. He was still well muscled, of course–he had to be, in his line of work as a deputy with the sheriff’s department–but ten years with Christine and her excellent cooking and sizable portion size, had rounded out his midsection into a small gut. He washed quickly, trying to scrub away the unsettling feeling that something was wrong about all of this, but while he was able to ease it back down to a dull simmer, the sensation remained all the same.
He got out of the shower and dried off, went back into his bedroom, and found his uniforms in the closet. Again, putting it on felt…alienating. Everything fit perfectly–Christine was as masterful with her sewing machine as she was with her cooking, after all–and when he was all dressed in his khaki shirt and slacks, his perfectly polished shoes, he looked every bit the part of the small town deputy he knew he was…but something underneath it all was squirming awkwardly, like a weird slug sliding around in his guts, telling him it was a lie, a lie, a dirty, shameful lie. He was a liar, a liar to everyone, a liar to himself. It wasn’t a new feeling, was it? He’d felt that before, when he…when he was younger, in another town like this one, so much like this one, but not this one, but hadn’t he always been here?
“There you are,” a voice said from the doorway, and Christine was there–a bit fuller of frame, with a few more wrinkles than she’d had when they’d gotten married at the age of twenty, but still…her. Still beautiful, he told himself. He still loved her so much, so deeply, he told himself. She made him so happy, he told himself. But if all that was true, why was his throat so dry, and why did she look so…dismayed in her eyes, even though she was smiling? She walked over to him, and kissed him gently, a kiss he’d felt so many times, and yet a kiss that felt so jarring, he almost didn’t kiss back–but he did, and he threw himself at her, his own desire for her too sudden that even to him, it felt disingenuous, but he kissed her on the lips, on the neck, holding her close, listening to her giggle for a moment, until she pushed him away, blushing, that slight dismay in her eyes now betraying a bit of panic. “Not now, the children…and you have to eat and get to work! Tonight…alright?” She asked, but she didn’t sound particularly sure herself, and he nodded, a bit relieved himself.
Together, they went downstairs, where their two children were at the table, feasting on their pancakes. Christine went to the oven and pulled out a third plate for Steve, who sat down, and together, they ate. They ate, and they laughed, and their children were so happy–so happy that even their parents were happy, even though Steve could see that the panic and hopelessness was still sitting at the corner of her eyes, and she could still see the confusion and disgust in his, but they’d been married for so long now, perhaps this was just who they were now. They did love each other, after all–they had to, or else, why were they married? The question sounded ridiculous to him in his mind, but he didn’t have an answer to it. He could…imagine answers. He could even remember answers. But he didn’t feel any of them. Steve found himself rolling it over and over in his head as he ate, rolled it around enough that he could feel it becoming pearlescent in his mind, like the nonsense of it held a certain truth that he had lost, and if he could just…well, he didn’t know what he might do, but things would come clear, right? Things would come clear, and he wouldn’t feel so…confused anymore.
Christine cleared the table and the children, bellies full, rushed out of the house and into the backyard to begin their summer adventures, and together, they watched them out the kitchen window. “Are…are you alright?” Christine asked him.
Steve didn’t really know how to answer that in a way that wouldn’t betray his worries, and so he just muttered something, but Christine turned to him, and fixed the collar of his shirt.
“Listen to me. Relax. You’re going to be fine–we’re going to be fine now. I know…but you’re happy, right? I’m happy–I can be happy with this, I…” she blushed, and looked away, “Oh, listen to me, I don’t know what I’m saying, do I? You’re going to be late if you don’t hurry on.”
“You…You know something. Something…” Steve said, and even his voice didn’t sound quite right to his ears. It had the same slight drawl as everyone in town had, but it didn’t should like it should, to his ears.
“Forget it–I mean it. Forget I said anything. I just want to make you happy. The happier you are, the happier we all are, the easier it is, alright? Just trust me. Give it a few days, settle in. You’ll feel like yourself in no time.”
“I don’t…understand what you mean…”
“Don’t make me worry about you Steven.”
“I don’t want you to worry, Christy, I just…I don’t…feel like myself this morning, is all. Did…something happen last night? I feel like something happened, but I can’t remember anything between…between the barber, and…and I think I had a drink, and there’s this dream, and…”
She kissed him. This time, she was the one driving into him, and again, there was that repulsion, that slight horror, but Steve…knew what to do, what he’d done already, and kissed her back.
“There, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” she asked. “Now go on, Pa…hates it when you’re late, or…or was that me?” she muttered to herself, still looking out the window at their two children.
“Are…you alright?” Steven asked.
“Yes, yes. This…we can talk about it later, maybe. If you run into the Mayor today, be sure you say hi. I’m sure he’d like to chat.”
Steve retreated from the window, more uneasy than before after the strange conversation with his wife. He went to the safe, and retrieved his service pistol and badge, pinning the latter to his shirt, and clipping the holster to his belt. Then, he went out into the backyard, said goodbye to his kids, and then gave his wife a kiss on the cheek before leaving the house. The police cruiser he drove on the job was parked in the driveway, and he climbed inside, and headed into town, feeling the oddest sense of deja vu, and wishing…wishing that all of this made more sense. He just couldn’t shake the sensation that something was wrong, that he was forgetting something, and someone, and…and that all of this was fake. That he was going through the motions, that he was doing everything he ought to do–as a father, as a husband, as a deputy, as a citizen of Potters Creek–but that they were nothing more than that. Motions. More like a puppet–no, not a puppet, like a windup doll. Like someone had wound him, and now here he was, sliding along his little track, looking at everyone else in town on their own tracks…
He couldn’t think about this anymore. He couldn’t. It was too much, and he didn’t feel good about it, and it wasn’t right–what was he really thinking, that there was some conspiracy? He’d had a bad dream in the night. He was feeling out of sorts. But the best thing he could do, really, was follow his routine. It was safe, and it was right, and…and he liked it, didn’t he? He loved his children more than anything. He loved Christine. He loved his work, and he loved this town. He belonged here–there wasn’t anywhere else that he wanted to be, after all. Why question it? Why feel bad when he didn’t have any reason to? Any reason beyond that slug he could still feel, that thing inside him, telling him that…
He shoved that thought away, and put on the radio, humming along to a country song he didn’t even realize he knew until he caught himself doing it, until he arrived at the sheriff’s office, pulled into his parking spot there, and headed on inside to check in. Marcy was at the desk, face all dolled up as she always did, looking perky. She threw him a wink when he passed her by, asking her how things were with the town. She was wearing a dress cut low in both directions–showing off far more cleavage than necessary, and riding up so high that Steve could probably sneak a look at her panties–assuming she was wearing any. He knew better than to ask though–Marcy was the sheriff’s territory after all–she flirted with anything that had a cock, but he wasn’t about to mess with that–as…attractive as she was.
Thinking about that, about the fact that Marcy was attractive, and young, and desirable by him–it was like thinking about his wife earlier. He knew all of these things, they were self-evident. However, they felt…detached from the emotions he knew he should feel with them. She was attractive, but was he horny, thinking about whether she was wearing panties right now? Wondering if, not minutes earlier, she had been back in the sheriff’s office, getting plowed by him over the desk–fuck, now that would have been a sight to see, wouldn’t it? Sheriff Guthrie had quite a fucking bulge in his pants after all, and Marcy had dropped hints, more than once, at his stamina–and his virility. Marcy was married of course, but of the five children she’d popped out, who knew which belonged to who, really. Marcy’s husband–Dennis–didn’t exactly seem to mind…was that odd? It was hard to know, really–everything seemed a little strange today, and it was hard for him to focus on one strangeness before another rose up and replaced it. In any case, he maintained his respectful distance with Marcy–made sure she knew he thought she looked attractive, without letting on that he was interested, of course. Then, he went back into behind the front desk and found his father-in-law in his private office, looking a bit…disheveled and red in the face. He could smell sex in the air, and marcy’s perfume–still fresh from that morning. So they had been fucking–at least Steve wasn’t known for coming in early.
How should he feel about that? His father-in-law, after all, was still married to Christine’s mother. Something told him, in his gut, that this ought to disgust him, that it was wrong, but something else was smoothing it over. It was just how things were around here–for the sheriff especially. Hell, Steve imagined that his wife probably knew, and might even condone it. Did Christine know? He would never ask her, of course. You didn’t talk about things like this around here, about how the sheriff was banging the single secretary, how of the three kids she at, one was the spitting image of the sheriff, another identical to the tavern barkeep, a third from who knew where. Kids just…sprang up around here. Steve tried not to think about his own two children, about how little he could really recall from their childhoods. Tried not to think about that dream, tried not to worry about any of this. Christine had said something about him needing to settle down–no, about settling in, that was it. She said that it would get easier. But why was it so hard? Why did everything feel so strange?
“There’s my boy!” the sheriff said, wheezing a bit as he sat back, sweating a little still. “Don’t mine me, just…finished my morning calisthenics is all. Can’t run this department and not be able to chase down those dang troublemakers, right?” He laughed, and Steve laughed too. The sheriff certainly didn’t look like a man who knew how to do calisthenics–he probably hadn’t done a pushup in years. He had a thick gut from sitting around here all day, minding the shop as he called it, while Steve and the other deputies handled calls around town. He didn’t begrudge him for it, but he wished he would at least be honest about it.
“Sorry I’m late, Sir, I had a slow morning. Had a hell of a time getting…just feeling off today, is all.”
The sheriff chuckled. “No worries boy, I know all about a man’s need in the morning, trust me. Don’t be ashamed of it! I need another three grandchildren at least, after all, so I need you to get busy, boy. Keep that girl of mine good and pregnant like she ought tah be.”
Guthrie laughed at his own joke, and Steve tried his best to laugh along with him, but it made his stomach churn again, like how he’d felt seeing his wife this morning, like something wasn’t right about her, or about him, or about everything else. It didn’t help that looking at his father-in-law, at his confidence, at his swagger–something else was stirring in him, something he didn’t have words to describe, but something that had him thinking about that dream in the car, about that empty void beside him, about how he could almost imagine what that void could sound like. What it could feel like. What it would be like to kiss it, and…
What the hell was wrong with him today? He pushed his concern away as best he could, and maneuvered Guthrie back to discussing work. The town had been quiet over night, just the usual drunks being a bit disorderly on Main Street after the tavern closed. Nothing much bad ever really happened around here–not since the mayor had been elected, and helped sort everything out. Steve…knew he should be able to recall that better, or have more context, but it was just a thought, hanging in his mind. Something he knew to be true, but which wasn’t grounded in anything else around it. He excused himself from the sheriff’s office, and went to his own desk. He had some paperwork he understood but couldn’t recall seeing before–he did it anyway, to try and settle into things a bit better, and by the time lunch rolled around, he was feeling a bit more…at ease. With the paperwork done, he got up from his desk, told Guthrie he was going to walk the town for a bit, and Guthrie gave him a wink, and told him to take his time. The other deputies were out as well–probably Guthrie was going to have another round with Marcy, now that the offices were empty again. Steve tried not to think about, both because he still didn’t understand how he could feel so comfortable with his boss and father-in-law’s extramarital excesses, and also because he still couldn’t quite understand the unsettling disgust he felt, the same disgust he’d been feeling all morning, to be honest.
Being outside and walking the sidewalks of the town didn’t seem to help much at all, either. He followed his usual route, winding his way through the center of town, waving and shaking hands with strangers he somehow knew, and who somehow knew him. Perhaps even knew him more than he knew himself, though that made no sense, really. Men would shake his hand, and he would feel a flutter. He would look them in the eyes, and he would see something there, in some of them, something intensely familiar and yet impossible to speak to. Others were like the sheriff, pleased with themselves, pleased with the town, pleased most of all with the children, the children that were…everywhere. School was out that day, for the summer, and so the town was full of them–some of them escorted by parents who already looked exhausted at the summer, and others simply running wild, like animals through the streets, screaming and screeching.
He should love them. He had to love them. His own at least, if nothing else. He knew he loved them, and yet, there wasn’t anything inside him that felt like love. What in heaven’s name had happened to him last night? He tried to recall the dream more as he walked the streets on his beat, but it had already faded more over the course of the day, the void in the seat beside him spreading, taking in more and more of the memory, making it even harder to make out the distinctions there. He thought forgetting it would make it easier to deal with, but he found himself panicking instead, trying to grip onto him, cling to him–
There was nothing there, but it was a him, the void was a him, the void was someone. Who? Who had it been? Who–
“Afternoon deputy, good to see you up and about on this fine afternoon.”
Steve shook his head and looked around. He was behind the tavern, leaning against the wall, shaking slightly, and there before him was the mayor. Seeing him…terrified him. Terrified him in ways that Steve couldn’t even understand or remember, even though the short, chubby gentleman was the exact opposite of threatening, right? But why then was he shaking so hard, why couldn’t he dare look the man in the eye? He had to say something, he was supposed to say something! He had to be normal, he was supposed to just be normal! “A-Afternoon sir, I…have to confess that I haven’t been feeling quite like myself today, so my apologies.”
“Nonsense, you’re doing just fine. I fully understand how difficult it can be, adjusting. But just know that I see great things in you, Steven. I’m so happy you found your way here to us, such…marvelous stock. I saw your sweet Christine today, and those two angels of yours at the store. Such beautiful children. They’re the future, you know. The future of this town. The future of this country.”
Steve just nodded. He wanted to say something, but his mouth was suddenly dry, and the mayor was…unsettling. The way he talked about him, about his wife and children. It reminded him of…of someone he couldn’t remember, reminded him of how someone had once spoken about the animals on a farm.
“Are you alright Steve? You’re looking a bit faint.”
“I…I’ve just been feeling so strange all day, Mayor. I can’t explain it, but something feels so…wrong, and I don’t know what it could possibly be.”
“This is what you wanted Steve, I know it is. I could see it in you. You just have to let yourself be happy, and accept it,” the mayor said, and then moved closer, “Listen, take the rest of the afternoon off. The sheriff will understand completely–I’ll speak to him. I want you to go home. Go home to your wife, Steve. Let her make you happy. Don’t disappoint me know–I have so much hope for you.”
The words were…different. They had a force to them, a force that Steve recognized, the same force that his odd thoughts had possessed all morning. They were intrusive, and demanding. He nodded–of course the mayor was right. He walked back to the sheriff’s office a few blocks off, and got in his car, and drove home. All the way, he thought of her, of Christine, thought of her naked, thought of fucking her, thought of…filling her with his seed, of claiming her. He got home, and the house was quiet–the children must be somewhere else–and he worried, for a moment, that she would be with them, that she wouldn’t be home for him, but upstairs, in the bedroom…there she was.
She was waiting for him, she must have known. Or had the mayor spoken to her, told her to come here, told her just as he’d told Steve? She beckoned him closer, but she didn’t…seem as eager as he wanted her to be. She seemed resigned. Her eyes were empty, and distant, but he…shouldn’t care about that. He wanted her, didn’t he? He’d wanted her all the way home, she was all he could think about, but then…why was he so soft? He stripped out of his uniform, and his cock remained limp. He looked at Christine and blushed–horrified that he suddenly couldn’t perform. She beckoned him over anyway, and he climbed on top of her, and they kissed.
They kissed, and she was so soft. He was afraid of her. Afraid to touch her. Everything about her felt alien to him, and even though he knew that he had to have fucked her at some point, he couldn’t…remember ever doing so. She was patient, but he could sense that she, too, was growing anxious, pushing harder against him, trying to drag something out of him that he was not sure was even there. It didn’t feel right. Her breasts under his hand, the curve of her hips, her long hair, the makeup she had on. He tried to climb off of her suddenly, and she gripped him hard, and pulled him close.
“You have to,” she said, “If you don’t he’ll know.”
“I don’t know why I can’t, Christine,” he said, panic in his voice, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t…want to do this, I don’t understand what’s happening to me.”
She pulled him closer, and her strength surprised him. She stuck two fingers in her mouth, got them slick, and then reached behind him, probing for his hole, and he…let her, let her slide her fingers inside him, and when she did, he gasped in sudden delight, his cock throbbing. “Let me help,” she whispered to him, “This will be best, for both of us.”
“She probed deeper, sliding her fingers in and out of him, and he was hard in a matter of moments, hard, and sliding inside her. It didn’t feel right, be he tried not to think about it, and focused on her hand instead, focused on his own hole, feeling pleasure throbbing inside there, and in a matter of moments, he exploded inside of her, filled her with his seed, and he…felt better, almost immediately. Feeling that he had cum, Christine pulled her fingers free of his ass, keeping them away from her, and got up and headed for the bathroom to clean up, leaving Steve alone on the bed, shaking and shuddering. He’d done it–he’d done it, but why?
He asked Christine if there was something he could do for her, but she shook her head. He was relieved–he didn’t think he’d be able to stomach being any closer to her, not after what they’d done. He felt filthy, and he could only imagine how she felt–but if anything, she just seemed indifferent. She got dressed, as he did, gave him a hug and a kiss, but while they were warm, there was no intimacy there. The children came home from playing, and were thrilled that their daddy was home early for work, and insisted that he play with them outside–and Steve did as they demanded, trying not to think about how much they looked like him, especially his son. Tried not to think about the sheriff, or the mayor. Tried not to think about Christine, and what she had done. Tried not to think about that void, about who he’d been, most of all.
It had been a week. That wasn’t true of course. It had been years. A lifetime, is some ways, but in Kevin’s mind, it had been a week. He clung to that, for some reason, marked it with some sort of importance, even though that morning had been like every other morning–just like this morning too. Waking up with a hangover, one he sought to get over as quickly as possible by downing a beer from the fridge and chain smoking two cigarettes. Michelle was in the living room, watching TV, the kids were gone off who knew where–they were all latchkey kids for the most part, since Kevin was working at the garage most days, and Michelle was working as a waitress at the diner. Neither of them really cared that much, honestly, and nothing bad could happen to them here. This town…for everything it wasn’t, it sure as fucking hell loved its kids–that much Kevin knew. But him? They freaked him out, somehow. Unnerved him. That day, a week ago, he’d barely even been able to recall his kids’ names. Just these three little strangers who all knew him, who all looked a bit too much like him. But then, a week ago, he’d barely been able to look at himself in the mirror, or…or do much of anything.
Had things gotten better, or worse since then? He could look at himself now, he supposed. He was looking at himself now, in fact, after taking a piss in the toilet, cigarette hanging from his mouth, staring his reflection down. Bloodshot eyes, his disheveled mullet and ragged beard, a smear of grease still across his cheek that he hadn’t bothered to wash off from the day before–or maybe the day before that. He hated this. He hated this life. He was supposed to hate this, but what else was there? He was supposed to hate this, and yet, also do nothing to change it. It felt like a cage. He had built it himself, hadn’t he? All of those choices down the road, all of those shit decisions had led him right here–stuck in a double-wide with a wife that hated his guts most days, three kids he couldn’t be bothered to give a shit about, and a job as a mechanic slowly grinding his body down to nothing. He’d been…free, once. On the road. He could remember a car, sometimes, but he knew it had been a motorcycle–that’s all he drove, after all.
Was it a breakdown? No–he wasn’t having a fucking breakdown, that was idiotic. Nothing had changed, nothing was wrong, everything was exactly as it should be–but then, that was the problem, wasn’t it? He was so…angry. He was angry at something, at something locked away in his head, at something he could barely grasp at, like a dream, but it was there–and so…he was angry at everything. Angry at his kids. Angry at Michelle. Angry at work. Angry, angry, angry, it felt bottomless. Not enough to…hurt anyone. He knew none of them deserved it, so he took it out on walls, on himself. Drinking, smoking, anything to dull it, to distract him. It hadn’t been there a week ago, this anger. It was new, and it made him feel…new too. Different, than he had been. He wanted to let it go, he hated holding onto it, but it was the only thing that was giving him…something. Hope? No, that was a ridiculous idea–there was no hope for him.
He needed another beer. He should take a shower, but a shower couldn’t do what beer could. He left the bathroom and went back out to the kitchen. Michelle was on the sofa, watching TV–her soaps, probably, maybe the news. He didn’t give enough of a shit to pay attention. She was also on the phone, and as he pulled out another beer, he listened in on her side of the conversation.
“Yeah, he’s still fucking here–I know, he’s…You think I like it, Rob?” She said, and shot Kevin a glare–making sure he knew who she was talking to. It was his boss, down at the garage, probably wondering where in the hell Kevin was, since technically, his shift started a couple hours ago. He wasn’t exactly known for timeliness of course, but a couple of hours was even more than usual. “Yeah, he’ll be there–you wanna talk to him?…Alright, later hon.” Michelle hung up her phone, and looked over at Kevin. “He’s been calling you all morning–you gonna go to work, or just hang around here like a fucking loser all day?”
“Get off my fucking back,” Kevin growled back at her. He wondered, for a moment, how Rob had her number at all–he’d never given it to her. Probably best not to think about that too hard, he supposed. “I’m goin’, alright? Fuckin’ hell…”
He chugged most of the beer down, and headed back towards the bedroom, where he started digging through some of the dirty laundry there, piecing together some gear that wasn’t completely filthy yet.
“Ain’t ya forgettin’ something else?”
He looked behind him, and there Michelle was, robe open, staring at him. She’d always been a big girl–that was how Kevin liked them, but the years since they got together, she’d only gotten thicker. Not all of it fat, either–she could hold her own against him, and if she ever put on heels, she’d be taller than him by an inch. She even cut her hair shorter than his, of all things, and with the tattoos and the clothes she usually wore–well, tomboy was one word, but butch was better, in all honesty. It made it easier, somehow, but there, in her robe half naked, breasts and pussy out, he still felt…disgusted with himself. And disgusted by her. It wasn’t fair, and he didn’t…want to feel that way, but for a week now, it had been a struggle, giving her the fucks she wanted–and she was usually hornier than he was, in all honesty.
“I thought Rob needed me at the garage,” he said, still sorting through clothes.
“Yeah, but I need you first–get on the bed. We can be quick.”
“Not…today, I need to get going.”
“A minute ago you couldn’t seem to give a shit about going there, and now that I’m fucking horny, and want you in me, you can’t wait to get out of here–is that how it is?”
“I’m too fucking tired, and fucking hungover.”
“You were just as hungover yesterday and you did just fine.”
“I fucking said I don’t fucking want to fuck you!” he shouted at her, “Fucking hell–maybe I just don’t want to fuck, is that fucking alright with you?”
She stormed over, pushed him back onto the bed, and started stroking his cock. The truth was, he was horny–he was always horny, and his cock had a hair trigger. Pretty much anything would get it up, that’s how it had always been. He tried to push her off him, but not fast enough to give him a massive hard-on. “Well someone disagrees,” she said, “Now get in me already.”
“Fucking hell, I don’t…I don’t want to fuck you!” he shouted, feeling a bit of that anger slip through, and once there was a crack, everything just came pouring out. “You fucking…fuck! I don’t fucking know why, but you fucking disgust me sometimes, and just fucking looking at you makes me want to–fuck!” he said, getting off the bed and pulling on some grease stained jeans, skipping the underwear. “Just leave me the fuck alone today–I can’t fucking deal with this right now.”
She just stared at him, shocked for a moment, but she started gritting her teeth, balling the sheets up in her fist, “You think…you think this is fucking easy? You think I don’t fucking disgust myself, when I look in the fucking mirror, when I think about what I fucking want you to do to me? I fucking hate it! I fucking hate you!” She started throwing shit at him then, pillows at first, and then shit off their nightstands, and Kevin, surprised by her sudden outburst, just grabbed the closest workshirt and fled backwards from the bedroom down the hall, as she advanced, just howling at him now. “Why the fuck did it have to be me! I was fucking happy before I met you, you know? You think I want this anymore than you do? But we don’t have a fucking choice now, do we? Fuck you!”
She turned around and stormed back into the bedroom, slamming the door shut, leaving Kevin clutching a greasy shirt in one hand, confused–but still more angry than he was confused. He threw on the shirt and his boots, and got out of the house before she could storm out in whatever mood she might be in. As he was leaving, he thought he heard her moan–the same sort of moan she gave off when he was fucking her, and figured she was probably taking care of herself. Good–a fuck is probably what she needed. Probably what they both needed, in all honesty, but not…not with her. He didn’t even know who–but not her, he couldn’t face it today.
He climbed on his motorcycle and headed for town. He should at least make an effort to show up today–Rod had patience, but not limitless patience. Of course, it helped that Kevin could fix just about anything on a car or bike, no matter how old or beat up. He had the touch, as Rod told him, more than once. Too bad he didn’t have the touch in the rest of his life–it sure would help. He sped up, going sixty on the little road into town–well over the limit, but what did he care? He just wanted to feel this for a second, feel like he was moving somewhere, anywhere. That he wasn’t just trapped here like a fucking rat in a cage, or worse. He wasn’t sure what would be worse, exactly, but it felt worse than that. He got closer to town, and eased up a bit where the deputies liked to hang out and form a speed trap to help fill the town coffers–though they usually were kind enough to let the locals off. After all, no one around here had much in the way of cash, though the town was booming–at least, if you counted population. Sometimes it felt like there were more kids than adults running around the dang place–it freaked him out, in the same way his own little buggers freaked him out sometimes, like a week ago. All that shit he’d said to them, while Michelle tried to calm him down…He’d done his best to apologize, but none of them were looking at him the same–especially not Bud, the eldest at thirteen. He knew exactly what his dad had said to him–and Kevin…fuck, he was just making a mess of everything.
The garage was attached to the only gas station in town, and Rod owned them both. When Kevin rolled up, he could see that both bays were full, and Rod was bent over one old station wagon–probably the Jenson’s–cursing a bit. Kevin found himself staring at Rod’s ass, filling up the back of his coveralls, thinking about…about what, exactly? He was hard–but then, what else was new? He wasn’t a faggot though–he…he knew that, didn’t he? He knew it the same way he knew everything else, he supposed. Knew that Michelle was his wife. Knew that he lived here. Knew how to work on cars. Knew how to ride a bike. Knew he wasn’t gay. But he didn’t feel any of them as facts, they all felt…hollow. Like if he knocked on any one of them too hard, they’d all fall apart together–and that scared the shit out of him, somehow. He got off the bike, still looking at Rod’s ass, still thinking about it, wondering if it was soft or firm, wondering how it might compare to Michelle’s. He gave his head a shake, feeling his beard whip around a bit, and headed towards where Rob was working.
He didn’t bother apologizing, and Rod had long since stopped expecting one. He just told Kevin what was up with the other vehicle–an old truck that seemed to be having some transmission trouble, and he got to work. Work was easy, at least. Cars were easy. Sure, they might look imposing, but they were all the same basic machine. They all spoke the same language. If you could talk to one, you could talk to any of them.
“So how’s everything goin’ Kev?” Rod asked, breaking the silence as they worked.
He didn’t reply, and just kept fiddling with the engine.
“Michelle was–look, she’s worried about you. I’m worried about you,” he stood up from the car, wiping his hands on a rag. “I can’t do anything if you won’t talk about it.”
“There’s nothing fuckin’ wrong,” Kev said, taking a moment to light a cigarette, trying to keep his hands from shaking with rage. “She doesn’t know shit.”
“Hey now, she’s a fine woman, and she cares about you, more than you probably know.”
Kevin didn’t reply, but thought about how Rod somehow had gotten Michelle’s number. Thought about his youngest boy Davie, thought about how his nose kind of had the same hook as Rod, thought about how he was always at the tavern until it closed, coming home late, everyone already in bed, thought about how Rod almost always got dinner at the restaurant after work, when Michelle was in the middle of her shift. Thought about how angry he was. Not that Rod was probably fucking her, but that…that what? That Rod wanted her, and not him?
He turned back to the engine, moving too fast, and nicked himself on some metal, gritted his teeth, and ignored it. Ignored all of it. He didn’t want to have this conversation, he didn’t want to talk to any of these people. He hated this–but what else could he do? He wasn’t fucking qualified for anything else in town–engines was all he knew. So he had to suck it up and deal with it–what else could he do?
He could shove him into that back office, and tear those fucking converalls off of him. He could smack him around if he tried to say no, he could bend him over that desk of his and slide his cock up and down his crack, the way he liked to do with Michelle, when he could talk her into it. Could fuck him. Fucking a guy didn’t make you a faggot, right? No–just…taking cock. Yeah, he wasn’t a faggot for thinking about this, not really. “Fuck, cut myself, give me a second,” Kevin said, and headed for the restroom. He washed his hands, checking the cut, and then looked at himself in the filthy mirror again, and then dropped his pants, sat on the toilet, and rubbed one out, thinking about fucking his boss into bits in his own office, thinking about taking back what he wanted, thinking about taking himself back from…from…
He exploded all over his hands, and his pants–but with all the grease, no one could even tell what was anything anyway. He washed up again–the cut had stopped bleeding, and he felt a whole lot better with that load out of him. He went back out, and kept working–Rod was smart enough to avoid the subject of Kevin’s lateness for the rest of the day, and Kevin worked an extra hour alone in the garage, to help make up for it–that, and because the thought of going home and facing Michelle after what had happened that morning turned his stomach. Locking up that night, he was in the back office, where Rod hung up his coveralls and kept his boots, and Kevin jacked off again, spraying his cum across the seat of Rod’s coveralls, thought about taking a piss in his boots, but contained himself. Is this what he was reduced to? The big bad biker, riding from town to town, fearing no one, living nowhere–this is who he was now? Jacking off into his boss’s clothes while he was probably, right now, banging his wife in his truck at the diner? He could catch them in the act. He could catch them, and haul him off of her, beat him to a pulp in the parking lot and then take his ass and make her watch, show her what he really wanted, what he…fucking hell.
Something was wrong. Something was different. Something was broken in his head, it felt like. One week, and it wasn’t getting better. He was getting worse, these thoughts were just getting worse and worse, and he didn’t know what he would do if he had to try and keep them all inside him for the rest of his god damn life. He’d kill himself, probably. Do everyone a favor, and just be done with it. He thought about it. Thought about riding his bike out on the highway, crossing over, and ramming into a fucking semi like a bug on the windshield. Instead, he headed for the tavern. Drinking was slower, he supposed, but more fun in the meantime.
Jack, the bartender, saw Kevin come in, and had his usual whiskey double waiting for him at his spot at the bar. It was the regulars tonight, regulars that Kevin all knew by name, knew all their stories and all their jokes. They were all here because none of them wanted to go home–like him–but none of them could talk about it. They talked around it, talked about their wives mostly, complained about them all night long, and Jack just kept pouring. But Kevin knew the truth–they were all terrified. He was terrified too. Terrified of them back at home, terrified of a woman he could barely remember, and three kids, one of him he was now certain wasn’t his own, but three all the same that he could barely look at without getting queasy. Where had they even come from? How could he remember so little of them? The guys though, none of them talked about the kids. Talked about how many there were. None of them talked about the mayor, either, though there was plenty to complain about regarding the sheriff and his deputies, and also plenty of gossip to go around. Who was fucking who now, behind who’s back. Who had just gotten married, who was pregnant again and who the father was this time.
Kevin didn’t talk much, he just drank, throwing them back about as quickly as Jack could put them down in front of him. Thinking about the men he was sitting with, watching them all flirt with Candy as she walked around, bringing drinks to the tables around them, but none of them got too close. They wanted to be seen flirting, it seemed like, but they weren’t committed to it entirely. Kevin didn’t even do that–she disgusted him. Every woman he’d seen today disgusted him at some visceral level, like he was ashamed to even be associated with them. He found himself eyeing the other men on the barstools instead.
There was Jeremiah. Lived on a farm outside of town. Had a whole slew of kids on the farm, most of them working on it, keeping it going. It was rumored that some of them weren’t born from his wife, but from his eldest daughters–by his own hand, maybe, or by another man around town. He was fat, and old, with a trimmed beard and hollowed out eyes. Kevin wondered what he smelled like. Dirt probably. Hint of manure. Sweat. Wondered what his cock was like. Uncut probably. Couldn’t get a good eye on the bulge in those baggy overalls he always wore.
There was Benny. Younger, muscled, toned ass and a bulge you could see from miles off. Couldn’t seem to keep his hands off the young ladies around town though–married or not. He was a bachelor himself, and had probably sired eight or nine, judging from how many little blonde boys and girls there were running around. He was terrified of settling down–as soon as he felt a connection to young lady, he’d break it off and hook up with another. Like if he settled down with one, he’d wake up the next morning twenty years older. Kevin shuddered at the thought.
There was Ambrose. Old, but not as old as Jeremiah. He was the town doctor, and with his wife, Helen, they delivered all the babies in town–and sometimes, it seemed like that was all they even did. Someone once asked him how many he’d delivered, since the mayor had been elected, and he hadn’t even been able to count them–he just asked for another double. He was a handsome man though, a rough voice, always smoked this big bowled pipe. He wondered how the smoke would feel on his cock for a moment, and then pushed that idea well away. He was drunk. Drunker than he could recall being, really. Too drunk to ride, that was for sure, but not drunk enough to kill his damn hard on, god damn it. He did have to take a mighty piss though. He excused himself, and Benny followed after him, needing a leak as well.
No one knows what happened in there for sure. There was a bunch of hollering, the sound of glass shattering (one of the mirrors, it turned out) and then Benny tumbled out of the bathroom backwards onto the floor of the tavern, one lip bloody and his pants pulled down past his ass. Kevin stormed out, shouting about how Benny had tried to touch his cock at the fucking urinal, and Benny screamed back at him that Kevin had tried to yank his pants down, and wanted to fuck him. Kevin denied it, and threw himself at the young guy, starting a brawl that required three guys to pull them off each other, while Jack phoned the sheriff. Two guys held down Kevin, still trying to swing himself free, while Benny broke loose and ran out the back door–and a moment later, the deputy pulled up, and Steve stepped into the tavern, demanding to know what the commotion was all about.
Since Kevin was the only one left in the bar, and no one could say he hadn’t started it, and since he was too drunk to really even stand up on his own, Steve decided the best thing he could probably do for him was arrest him and hold him in jail over night until he sobered up, and they could get a straight story from him and Benny about what had happened. Kevin wasn’t happy about that idea, and he struggled a bit as Steve got the cuffs on him, and then hauled him out and forced him into the back of the squad car, and drove off towards the sheriff station to book him.
But Steve, for the first time that whole week, could feel an outline of that void in his mind, could see someone in the car with him, beside him, as he drove. And Kevin…swore he knew that touch somewhere, swore he knew that face of the deputy sitting in the front seat. As angry as he was at being arrested–that face…was someone he couldn’t be angry at. It was someone he didn’t even know, and that alone was confusing. Everyone knew everyone else in Derryville, so how did he not know him at all? He wanted to say something, but bit his tongue instead. Best to stay silent in situations like these. Besides, what could he say? what could possibly fill the space between them now?
Steve had finally been settling, slightly. It had been rough from that first day, trying to grapple with these memories, trying to figure out who he was, and who he had been. Christine had been a vision of patience through it all, the sheriff as well. Steve had even seen the mayor a few more times, and that, somehow, had helped assure him that this was right. That this was the way things should have always been, and that, more than anything else, he was lucky. He was lucky to have such a loving wife, to live in such a charming town as Derryville, to have such beautiful children. He should be honored that he had been chosen to protect it, and for the most part, he was. But there was still that hole, inside him. He still couldn’t get hard for Christine without her fingering him. He felt…humiliated, and yet, at the same time, something inside him was hungry for it, hungry for something else. There was that void, in that dream, in that car. He hadn’t thought about it clearly in days, at this point, but it occurred to him, halfway to the sheriff’s office, that he could feel it. The outline of that hole beside him, in the car, and even more terrifying, he could somehow sense that the man behind him could fill it.
Who was he? Steve knew everyone in town–that was his job. All of the shopkeepers, all of the families, all of the children. He had to keep them all safe, and if he didn’t know his community, how could he do that? But the man behind him, a man named Kevin Billard, was somehow a complete unknown for him. He couldn’t remember ever talking to him. He didn’t know who he was married to, though he had a ring on his finger. He knew of some…boys with that last name, a couple of troublemakers on occasion, but nothing too terrible, who lived way out on the outskirts of town–was this their father? How could he not know this?
With everyone else in town, no matter how obscure, once he met them, touched them, Steve knew them. Memories would come back, he would see the faces of children and parents and sometimes even grandparents. He had come to rely on it, the fact that nothing here, in this town, would be strange to him–but this man was the first stranger he had ever encountered here. There weren’t supposed to be strangers here, not in a town this small, and that…terrified him. Terrified him, and intrigued him, too. Why him, of all people? He thought about his last chat with the mayor, when he was watching his children play at the park with all the others, thought about how the mayor had told him it was his duty to protect this place, and to protect the children here most of all. Steve had thought that was silly–this was such a safe place! Crime was low–hell, sometimes it felt like he didn’t even need to be here. The mayor had turned stern, and told him that this town only remained this peaceful because of his work. That he had to know everyone–everything about them. It was the only way to save them from themselves.
But he didn’t know this man. Had no memories about him. The few connections he was making, were all based on logic–they held no certainty like the way he usually knew about people. There was a thought he kept having, a sense of danger. Maybe…he didn’t know this man because he wasn’t supposed to. Maybe there was something happening here that was…well, wrong. Something that shouldn’t have happened at all.
“I didn’t do nothing to him–he’s the one who came on to me,” Kevin said suddenly, in the backseat, “I’m not a fucking fairy, I’ll tell you that.”
Steve didn’t say anything. He’d only gotten a bit of the story back at the bar–and he didn’t really care what had caused the fight, he was mostly interested in breaking it up.
“He’s the one who ran–that’s why. Just so you fucking know.”
“Sure man, whatever.”
The ride was silent the rest of the way back to the station. Kevin at least didn’t fight him as much on the way in, and he booked him into the system. Before getting him into the cell, he asked the guy if there was anyone he wanted to call–his wife maybe, Kevin just laughed. “Fuck no, I don’t want to talk to that bitch right now,” he muttered. With that, Steve pushed him into the cell, uncuffed him, told him to get some rest, and headed back out to his office. There, he checked the clock, and saw it was already past midnight–Christine had expected him home at eleven. He gave her a call, telling her what had happened–and that since he was the only officer on duty, he had to spend the night there, babysitting the drunk fucker, and couldn’t come home. She was disappointed, of course–she’d been horny that morning, and he was horny too, even if he still couldn’t get hard like he should be able to around her, and he told her he’d make it up to her in the morning.
With that, he sat back, rubbed his eyes, and checked the clock again. The early deputy would be in at six, Marcy and the sheriff around seven or eight. Assuming no one wanted to press charges–and he couldn’t really imagine anyone wanting to, given the weird backstory of this whole event, the guy would be back on the streets next morning, and it would be like this had never happened. Steve wanted it like that–he didn’t want to see this man again…and yet, he found himself checking the video feed to his cell every minute or so, because he…couldn’t stop looking at him, and trying to recognize him.
He should know who this is. He should know everything about him, if he lives in the town, but he didn’t. But that wasn’t all of it, that wasn’t everything he was feeling. He should know this man from somewhere else. He could feel him, somehow, in a way he hadn’t felt anyone else he’d encountered over the last week. He studied him on the grainy, black and white monitor. Looked at his long beard and hair, at his filthy shirt and jeans, at his tattooed arms and hands. He didn’t look right, to him, somehow. He should be smaller and thinner. No hair on his face. Younger–definitely younger. Had he known him in the past at some point? But that was a whole different thing–because Steve still knew everyone in town better than he even knew himself. There were so many gaps in his past, in his own self knowledge, that it was a struggle trying to even recall things about his wedding to Christine. He could remember them eventually, but it was like something else was filling them in as he thought about them–this was different. This was already there inside him. This man was already inside him somewhere, he just had to try and place him. The video was too blurry, and only in black and white. Maybe…maybe if he was closer to him, looked him in the eye, he’d know.
Steve sat back, and realized he was hard. Harder than he’d been all week. Harder than Christine had ever managed to make him, that was for sure. But that wasn’t right–he shouldn’t be hard thinking about this big, burly fucker…right? He shouldn’t be thinking about what he might smell like, or taste like, or…
He shook his head, stood up, and went into the bathroom for a moment to splash some water on his face. This wasn’t right. He shouldn’t be thinking about this. He was happy! Yeah, he was happy here, with his two kids, with his wife. He was important. People liked him, they looked up to him! He should be…be thankful, shouldn’t he?
Where had he heard this before? He was saying it to himself, but it felt like another voice in his mind, one he could recognize, distantly. Was something wrong with him? Was he going insane? No–No, this wasn’t anything important. His relief would get here in a few hours, and then he could go home, fuck his wife, and everything would be normal again, the way it should be, and he could forget all about this strange night. In the mirror, he looked at himself again, at the face he’d been trying to accept for the last week, at the wrinkles, at the mustache, at the uniform. Was this really him? Was this who he was supposed to be, or was this a skin he was wearing, a skin that was wearing him? Everything itched all of a sudden, his skin and his hair, he shuddered and had a sudden vision of himself, clawing his way out, but inside there was nothing, just another void like the one in the dream beside him, a void shaped, somehow, like that drunk and horny biker in the holding cell.
He splashed some water on his face again, but it didn’t do much to help. He tugged on his collar, on his cuffs, trying to feel comfortable in this uniform which suddenly felt anything but. There was no reason to panic. Nothing had changed. This is who he was, who he was always supposed to be. He unbuttoned the top button of his shirt, and then another one. It was too hot in here, he was sweating in the humid night, and the air conditioning didn’t seem to be running right now–which wasn’t a surprise. He took his uniform shirt off and went back out to his desk, hanging it on the back of his chair. It was still to hot, and yet he was shivering too, somehow. He glanced at the monitor, hoping that the biker would be asleep at least, give him a reason to slip out and not come back, but his breath caught in his throat when he realized what he was seeing–the biker was sitting there on the bench in the cell, pants down around his boots, jerking off, right where the camera could see him.
Didn’t he know he could see him? Maybe he was too drunk to notice the camera hanging in the hall outside his cell. Or maybe, he had noticed. Maybe he wanted Steve to see him do it, or maybe Steve just wanted to see it, and couldn’t allow himself the thought, or the admission of guilt. The video quality was bad, he could barely make out any detail, but his mind filled it in for him, what he cock might look like, or feel like, or smell like. Steve had the front of his own pants open, and he didn’t even know when that had happened, one had milking his cock, the other slipping down the back of his briefs towards his hole, probing it gently. He had never done it to himself, only Christine had, and they still hadn’t talked about it, about why it was suddenly necessary. He was afraid that if he did it himself, then he wouldn’t need her anymore. Wouldn’t even want her anymore. Maybe he only wanted her because it was the only thing available to him to want–because he wanted this man more. He wanted him so strongly, it couldn’t even compare. So strongly, he didn’t even realize he’d gotten up from the desk, and walked towards the cell block for a moment. So strongly that even though he didn’t know what he might be able to do, he was willing to risk it anyway.
When he opened the door to the small block of cells, he heard a quiet curse from the biker, and the rustling of pants. He had been taking his time on the video monitor, and obviously hadn’t finished by the time Steve opened the door. As much as part of him wanted to catch him with his pants down, he walked a bit slower, giving him time to put himself together, before he got to his cell, and looked at him again, closer this time, in more detail than the monitor could provide. He wanted to look elsewhere, but his eyes were drawn to the front of his greasy jeans, to the hard cock outlined there, still feeling that itch in his own ass, but trying to avoid connecting the dots any further than that. After all, this man was dangerous. Belligerent. Rough.
Between the ride and the booking and the short time in his cell, Kevin had begun to sober up slightly, and he did not enjoy it–He’d wanted to sleep, but had been too horny, after that altercation in the bar bathroom, to do anything without jacking off. Already, he had rewritten the history of that moment to suit him–of course he hadn’t hit on Benny in the bathroom, in sheer desperation, hoping that the young man’s sexual appetites wouldn’t object to a blow job from a man like Kevin. No, it had been something else, Benny had tried to touch him (perhaps on accident, perhaps not) he’d overreacted (perhaps) and now here he was. It was just a drunken misunderstanding, one that had left him cripplingly horny all the same, and now he was looking at the cop, the hangover already brewing in his head, but he noticed a few things. He noticed that he didn’t have his uniform shirt on, for some reason. He noticed that he was actually rather handsome, for a cop, not as handsome as Benny, but then, he was older. More seasoned. He noticed the camera over the cop’s shoulder, and the blinking red light, the lens pointing right at him in the cell. He noticed that the cops belt was unbuckled, the fly open–only the button had been fastened. Perhaps he’d been watching, and was curious. Perhaps he was tired, and hadn’t quite got himself put together after taking a shit. But looking at him like this, Kevin realized something else. He knew him from somewhere.
Not from town–this cop…for whatever reason, he wasn’t a deputy that was familiar to him, which was itself surprising. After all, Kevin was no stranger to law enforcement, here or anywhere else. He assumed this one was just new–but that didn’t seem right either. No one…moved into Derryville. The man spoke like he’d grown up here, in that same familiar drawl as the rest of them. He knew him from somewhere else, some other context, and from the way the cop was eyeing him, he might be thinking the same thing.
“Ya know, ya look familiar,” he said, and stood up, finding his footing a bit unsteady, but better than it had been at the bar, when the cop had dragged him out. “I think I know you from somewhere, years ago. This isn’t the first time you’ve arrested me, is it.” He stepped closer to the bars, not so close as to be a threat, but closer, hoping a better look would help remind him. It didn’t help him recall anything, but the closer he got, the more he…liked the look of the cop. Maybe he was better than Benny, somehow. Less nervous, though he could see the sweat on his brow. The cop opened his mouth, and then licked his lips. He was nervous, wasn’t he? But he didn’t feel nervousness from him, or maybe, what he wasn’t feeling was fear. Most strangers got a look at him, all muscle and hair and tattoos and leather, and were afraid. But this cop wasn’t afraid, or dismissive–he was curious. More than curious. Something else. He looked down at his crotch again, and then back up, a bit afraid himself, to admit what he was thinking about.
Steve kept trying to find something to say, but couldn’t trust his mouth to not say something…terrible. Because what he really wanted to say, what he wanted to ask, wasn’t something that could be asked. He had a wife. He was straight. He had children. He had never so much as looked at another man, especially not a man like this. He wasn’t a faggot, he wasn’t! He should leave, just go back upstairs, maybe jack off himself, and then go home and fuck his wife. That’s what had to happen–but instead, he just…stood there, looking at the biker like an idiot, not even replying to his question.
Had they met somewhere before? He had seemed familiar, that void…something about him could fill it, he was sure of it. But where could their paths have possibly crossed before? He had never worked as a cop anywhere else, he didn’t know this man from town. It was clear that he lived here though, he…could feel that, somehow. But if they didn’t know each other from here, then where? “I…think I know you too,” he said finally, his mouth dry, voice cracking slightly, “But I don’t know where.”
“You have a smoke?”
Steve shook his head, “You can’t smoke in here.”
Kevin tsked, and then chuckled. “You always do only the stuff you can do?”
“I’ll get you your cigarettes, but if I do, you…have to let me do something.”
Kevin raised an eyebrow, but nodded, and Steve hustled back out to the holding area, where he had kept the drunk’s keys, the contents of his pockets, and returned with his cigarettes and a lighter. He passed them through the bars, and while Kevin lit up, he opened the cell door, and slipped inside with him, still wondering what in the world he thought he was doing. He looked up at the camera, hesitated–but he knew where the tapes were kept, how to erase them. After all, the Sheriff had to scrub his encounters with Marcy from the record every other day or so–just to be safe. That, or he kept them…somewhere else–that sounded more like him, actually.
All Steve had meant to do, was smell him. He didn’t know what that void was shaped like, or what it sounded like, but somehow, he…could almost remember a smell, a taste. He stepped close to Kevin, pressed his nose to the nape of his neck, and took a sniff. It…it wasn’t the same, it wasn’t what he remembered, but it was…it. Clouded over with smoke, and drink, and musk, and work, and women, but it was there, buried deep down. He licked him there too, and then Kevin’s greasy had wrapped it’s way around the back of Steve’s head, pulled his face over, and kissed him, feeding him the cigarette smoke, but now he was sure of it. He knew him, from somewhere. Not…him exactly, but he could sense that same recognition in the biker, in the way he touched him, in the way he tasted him too.
“I knew you’d feel like this, I knew it,” Kevin said, and then kissed him again. After a moment, he pulled back, obviously wrestling with something. “I’m…I’m not a faggot.”
Steve shook his head. Of course he wasn’t. Neither of them were.
“I have kids. Three of them. I fuck my wife everyday, just…just like a man should.”
“Me too…just…let’s not talk about it, please.”
They kissed again. Steve opened Kevin’s greasy jeans back up, hauled out his thick cock. It didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like he had tasted and smelled him, but he wasn’t going to object to the eight inch, uncut cock, so thick he could only just get his hand around it. Kevin moaned, bit
Steve’s lip, pushed him back up against the cell wall. One had still working Kevin’s cock, the other undid the button on his pants, let them fall around his knees, tugged down his underwear awkwardly, and then he spun around, ass grinding against Kevin’s cock.
Kevin hesitated again, Steve could feel him thinking about it, calculating it. He couldn’t handle the waiting–if the fucker didn’t get his cock inside him soon, he might lose his nerve for the whole venture. “Fuck me already.”
“I’m not a faggot.”
“Shut the fuck up about faggots already! Just fuck me, I know you want to, I can fucking feel how fucking hard you are.”
“If you fucking tell anyone–”
“Why the fuck would I say anything! Just fuck me!”
Kevin drooled some spit into his hand, lubed up his cock, and pressed it to Steve’s hole. It was…so much bigger than Christine’s fingers, it hurt so much, but Steve didn’t dare tell him to stop, or tell him to slow down, anything that might cause him to hesitate again. He needed this–it didn’t matter how much pain it was, but as soon as he felt it, the head of the cock puncture his hole, he knew that this was what he had been missing. He had been missing this, and he’d been missing him! He’d been looking for him everywhere, even though he couldn’t know the shape of him. He’d been hunting, spending so much energy on it without even realizing he’d been doing it–and then he heard a gutteral sob behind him.
He looked back, and saw the biker wiping his eyes, his hand soaked with tears. Before he could ask what was happening, the man grabbed him in a bear hug, and drove the cock in another couple of inches, making Steve gasp and cry out in pain, but he couldn’t move, the biker was clinging to him, crushing him, and sobbing against his shoulder. “I didn’t think, I didn’t know…where you’d gone…” he sobbed again. “How did I…where did you go?”
They didn’t feel like questions with answers, to Steve. Besides, he barely had a chance to catch his breath before Kevin drove his cock still deeper inside him, and began fucking him in earnest, still clutching Steve to him, who could do nothing more than brace himself against the wall.
“I couldn’t find you, I went looking, I was worried, I…” Kevin muttered, mostly to himself, trying to retrace some footsteps that should have been lost to the past already. “I loved you.”
Steve reached down, started working his own cock. It only took a few strokes before he was riding the edge of his own orgasm, and Kevin was pumping harder, breathing faster, probably close to his own. Steve came, catching most of it in his hand, as best he could, and then Kevin came as well, filling his ass with his load. He could feel the thick cock pumping inside him, and he cried out a little, and Kevin held him tighter, held him until his cock had gone soft, held him until Steve started to squirm a bit, and he could get away to empty the palm of his hand into the toilet, and then wiped the rest of it off with a handkerchief, while Kevin tried to regain some sort of composure.
“You have to go,” Steve said, as he pulled his pants back up. “No one will know you were booked here, at least no one at the bar. I never told another officer you were here.”
“You…you felt that too, didn’t you?” Kevin muttered. “This…this is wrong, this is fucked. What the fuck happened to us? How did I forget you, why…why can I still not remember a god damn thing?”
“I don’t know. But you have to do, now.”
“When can I see you again?”
Steve didn’t know how to answer that question at all.
“I can’t…I need to know, please.”
Steve shook his head, “I don’t know. I don’t know if we can ever do this again.”
Kevin face fell, and some of the sadness hardened into anger–at himself, or at Steve, he wasn’t quite sure.
They didn’t say much else, after that. He got Kevin his things, took his number at Kevin’s insistence, and then pushed him out the door. He checked the clock–it was a couple of hours before another deputy would show up–he had time. He got rid of the booking, still incomplete and not entered into the system. He found the video files, but hesitated. He had to delete them. He had to. He had to try and get rid of all the evidence, even from his own mind. He knew, somehow, that what they had done wasn’t just taboo–it was one of the most dangerous things he could have done here. There were no faggots in Derryville–it just wasn’t something that existed here, because everyone…had kids. That’s what you did here, that’s why this town, unlike so many others, had a future. Why it was growing. That they had done this, that they had enjoyed it…no one could know, and yet, he couldn’t bring himself to do it. In the end, he took the footage, put it on a little flash drive, and tucked it into his pocket before closing down the station and driving off for the evening–running everything through his mind, making sure he hadn’t forgotten anything, some little scrap of evidence that someone might find–the little drive burning a hole in his pocket, but he couldn’t. He’d found him, finally–and he wasn’t about to let him go that easily.
Maybe it would have been easier, if things could have been left at that, but things are rarely so easy, especially not in this town. Kevin woke up on the couch the next day, when Michelle got up, gave a snort, and shook him awake–reminding him that he was well on his way to being late, yet again. She didn’t bother asking him when he’d gotten home the night before, he had stopped caring about that years before, when she had realized that Kevin didn’t appreciate, or even want, her concern. Besides, it was better sometimes, when he was out late–Rod liked to take his time, which Kevin seemed incapable of doing.
Kevin had hoped that the amount of shit he’d drunk would be enough to blur out the memory from the night before, but to his dismay, he found he could recall what he’d done with Steve quite clearly–and that this wasn’t all that he could recall between them now. A man that he had hardly even known from around town the day before, was suddenly…there, everywhere in his memory–but he also knew that they weren’t the right memories, the ones he should have had of him, from…before.
Kevin had always known of each other, from the day he settled into town…years ago? It had to be years, but it felt like he hadn’t been here for very long at all. Things…hadn’t gotten off to a great start between them–the uptight law abiding deputy and the slovenly, rebellious biker. In fact, things had been outright antagonistic, until one night, much like the night before, when Steve had arrested him, and things had gotten out of hand back at the station. But hadn’t the night before been their first time together? Everything felt slippery to him, but what scared him the most, was when Michelle joked that she’d heard Steve had picked him up at the bar, and figured she’d have to bail him out as usual before getting to the restaurant. Kevin grumbled something about getting let off with a warning, got coffee instead of a beer for once, and smoked a cigarette, trying to sort out what was going on.
They had fucked, and his whole fucking mind had changed. He could…remember now how, on the surface, they kept up a certain tension around town, but, well, Kevin was always finding some excuse for Steve to arrest him, so they could get a few hours together. They knew it wasn’t…right, but it helped them stay sane, in a way. Besides, as long as their wives never found out, what did it matter? Hell, it wasn’t like Michelle wasn’t banging Ron behind Kevin’s back, and Kevin had an inkling Christine might have her legs open for a few other people too–given how this town seemed to work. On the surface, everyone was congenial, but behind their doors together, well, sometimes it seemed like everyone was fucking everyone else, and the kids just…kept coming.
He wanted to find something to say to her, something about their strange argument the day before. He couldn’t quite bring himself to apologize, especially without even knowing what he might have done wrong. She would see through that shit immediately if he tried it. Before he could work anything out, two of his boys came charging in at that point, muddy from something they had been doing outside, but now hungry again, even though they’d already had breakfast at some point, while Kevin was snoring (his boys didn’t dare wake him up, for fear of his wrath, but thankfully, Kevin slept hard). Their sudden appearance turned his stomach in the same way they always did–he knew that they were his (no, not his, he wasn’t comfortable with owning them, or claiming them–but they were…of him, he couldn’t deny it, at least for two of them.) Michelle got them sorted out, while Kevin sat, drinking his coffee, thinking about the night before, thinking about how he couldn’t possibly feel at home here, thinking about how he hated this, all of it. Without even bothering to change his clothes or shower, he left–he had to get to work, in any case, and that was as good an excuse as any. Riding towards town, it took all the effort he could manage not to drive by the station and look for him, or even worse, to ride by his house and see if he was still home. He couldn’t let anyone see them together, not like that. It wasn’t…safe, not here. Behind closed doors they could get away with more, but out in the open, people might get ideas.
So he rode into work, trying not to think about it anymore than he had too. Ron was understanding about his lateness, like usual, but Kevin could tell it was stretching his patience. He had to get his shit together. Stop drinking so much, try to patch things up with Michelle, try to be a father, rather than just a lout who stumbled in at night and crashed on the couch. He could be better, couldn’t he? Didn’t he want to be better? He got to work on the car in the shop at that moment, eager for something to distract him a bit, but his hands kept shaking as he remembered what he’d done the night before, how right it had felt, somehow. He should settle down, try and be a good father, but a new line of potential was unfurling for him, some strange, half-baked, adolescent thing. He could ride off with Steve. They could just leave, together, and never come back here, ever. They could be happy together, couldn’t they? Why not? He took a few deep breaths, looked over at where Ron was working on another car, and adjusted his cock, mostly hard in the front of his jeans. It was silly. It was impossible, really. He bent back over the engine, and got to work.
It was an hour later, when Steve rolled up in his patrol car, parked it, and went inside the office to talk to Ron, who was busying himself with some paperwork. Kevin didn’t even notice–he was underneath the car, focusing and fiddling. It wasn’t until he had gotten back out, and found himself standing next to the familiar vehicle as Ron pulled it into the garage, that he looked over at the glass window between the garage and the waiting room, and saw Steve sitting there, magazine in his lap, but his eyes looking right at Kevin instead. His throat caught, and he just stood there, rubbing a rag between his fingers, unable to move any part of his body other than those, until he yanked his eyes away and down at the greasy floor of the garage.
“Just an oil change and an inspection for this one, Kevin,” Ron said, “Steve’s fine if he has to wait–he said he has time this afternoon,” and headed back into the office to keep doing some paperwork. Kevin nodded, and then tried to focus on finishing up the first job, but his mind was racing. Was it a coincidence? Had he come here to see him? To talk? To fuck? He didn’t know how to react, and so all he could do was keep working, trying his best to stay on the side of the car that let him keep an eye on Steve, and see what he wanted him to do.
When Steve was sure he had Kevin’s attention, he went up to where Ron was at the desk, and asked to borrow the bathroom key. The garage was old, and had two detached bathrooms with doors in the back of the building. Ron handed him one, and before Ron could look over and see that Kevin had disappeared as well, he slipped out of the garage, around the other side of the building, just as Steve was coming around himself, key in hand. They said nothing to each other until they were inside one of the small rooms, hot in the warm summer afternoon, dingy and smelling faintly of piss, since neither Ron or Kevin got around to cleaning them out very often, since they were usually the only people who used them, generally.
“Alright, what the fuck happened last night?” Steve asked, “I…I went from not knowing who the hell you even were, and suddenly–what the fuck have we been doing? How could I fucking forget any of that? Why…”
“I didn’t remember shit either,” Kevin said, “I woke up this morning, and…” his mouth went dry. Kevin…didn’t want to talk. There were so many things he wanted to do, but talking wasn’t even close to the top of the list. This close to him, in the confined space, he could smell him, smell both of them, in fact, just like they had smelled last night in the cell. He stepped closer, wanting to kiss him, but before he could even get close, Steve shoved him against the door to the bathroom, hard enough to knock his head against the metal door. “What the fuck was that for, you fucking piece of shit?”
“You think I fucking came here to fucking fuck you?” Steve snarled at him, “I want to know what the fuck you did to me back there, last night. I–I have never so much as looked at another man like that, never so much wanted to touch a cock, and then you step in there, and I…you fucking drugged me, you did something! I’m a good person, I’m a police officer, people count on me, and I know what’s good–and you, you’re a real fucking piece of shit, I can tell you that. I should have thrown you and that bitch wife of yours out of town when you first rolled in here, I knew you were going to be nothing but fucking trouble!”
Kevin saw the windup, knew that Steve was going to try and punch him again, and instead of giving him a chance, he pushed off the door and slammed into him, throwing him against the wall across, and pinning him there, chest to chest, belly to belly, cock to cock. He could feel it, how hard Steve was–just as hard as he was. “You didn’t come here to fuck, you said, but I can feel how fucking hard you are, you fucking pig.”
Steve spat in his face. “I’m not some fucking biker faggot like you, I have fucking principles!” Steve tried to shove him off, but Kevin was heavier, and more practiced with this sort of brawl–that, and he was angrier than he could remember being in his life. They’d both cried last night. Kevin hadn’t cried in years, he hadn’t cried when any of his boys had been born, but he’d cried for this man, for this fucking cop pig! Just this morning, he’d been dreaming about running off together, leaving all of this behind, and now this is what he was getting back from him? He was angry, he was horny–and fuck it, he wasn’t going to waste this fucking chance.
He grabbed Steve by the hair, and knocked his head against the wall, hard enough to stun him, and then shoved him down onto his knees in the bathroom, fiddling with his jeans, getting his hard cock out, “Fucking pig–you wanna know who’s the real fucking faggot around here? It’s fucking you, and you fucking know it. You came here, you were looking for me. You wanted this, I fucking know you do, now fucking open up–I can’t have you looking all beat up when Ron gets a look at you when you go back–but I will if I have to.”
Kevin gripped the hair on Steve’s scalp and pulled, the cop crying out, but before he could get words out, Kevin shoved his cock into his mouth and started fucking him, rough–and fuck, it felt good, letting go like this, giving into this so easily, and so naturally, he could…could almost remember…something. He fucked harder. Steve had stopped fighting so hard, and was just focusing on trying to find a minute to breathe when he could get the chance around Kevin’s cock. Where the night before, their sex had felt intimate and revelatory, this was brutal and unyielding, humilating, and all Steve wanted was for it to be over. It was, soon enough–Kevin pulled his cock free and shot his load all over Steve’s face, wiping the head across his mustache, and laughing at him.
“Now that’s the kind of look I like on my cops pigs,” he said, and pulled his fly back together.
Steve just stayed on his knees for a moment, unable to process what had just happened. He had come here for an explanation, and to threaten him, that if Kevin ever told anyone about what had just happened, he would hunt him down. He was so lost in his own horror, that he didn’t notice Kevin pull out his phone and take a picture of Steve, still on his knees and cum all over his face. Steve snarled, swung for the phone on Kevin’s hands, but Kevin just laughed, and shoved Steve back with one boot to the chest.
“Now now, I can’t have you going back to the waiting room with a broken nose–so behave, pig,” he sneered at him. “It’s just a little insurance is all–right? I can’t have you getting any bright ideas.”
“You can’t fucking do this–you’re a fucking low life piece of trailer trash, who the fuck would believe you?” Steve spat at him, wiping his face with one hand.
“Please, you ain’t gonna tell nobody about any of this. I know what a pig like you is going to do. I’m going to leave, and then you’re going to bust a nut in your hand, and lick it right up. I get it, you have a bit of pride, I can admire that, but you don’t have to pretend around me, pig, I know what you really came here for–and you can come on by whenever you want–you don’t even need an oil change for an excuse.”
With that, Kevin left, leaving Steve inside, and he hovered outside the door, and listened. No sound of a sink, immediately. He could hear a quiet slap, a little moan–he was right, the fucking whore. To think, just a few hours ago, he’d been thinking of riding off with this piece of faggot shit, just like that–well no fucking way was that going to happen. He wasn’t about to be seen riding the highways with some faggot like that, right? He straightened up his own clothes, wiped his hands off with his rag, and went back around to the garage, and resumed his work. Ron either hadn’t noticed his absence, or didn’t care–he was still in the office doing his paperwork. A few minutes later, when Kevin popped back up, he saw that Steve had returned to the waiting room, and was no longer reading his magazine–just trying not to shake. His face was wet, as was his hair–he had tried to clean himself up eventually. He looked over, through the window, caught Kevin’s eye–and then looked away. Angry and ashamed, but it was an admission too–he’d needed it, more than he’d really known.
But as Kevin tried to focus on the car, he doubted it. What had happened the night before, there had been something there. There was…a completeness they had shared, a vulnerability. He tried to grasp for it, feeling something there, some truth, or some other person, but it was gone. In its place, some of his memories of their prior encounters were now colored differently. Where before, he had recalled them as something more comradely, if not romantic, now everything was more lopsided. He’d bullied Steve into sex multiple times since that first time in the jail house, taking out his frustration with feeling so alienated at his own home with Michelle and the boys, that the ability to exert power over someone–especially a cop!–was a more potent aphrodisiac that he had been prepared for. It helped that no matter what sort of humiliation he forced on him, Steve had never reported him, had never refused him–he could tell that the cop wanted this too–and in Kevin’s mind, that made him a faggot–though in all honesty he wanted it just as much.
But it was a safe thing, drawing that boundary. Kevin was safely on one side, his masculinity, and his humanity, intact. Steve on the other hand, well, he was there to be used, wasn’t he? Not something that he had to care about, not something he even had to worry about. Steve was a slave to his own perversions, obviously. The fact that Kevin would fantasize about sex with him for days, dreaming up new, twisted shit to do to his private pig, meant nothing to him. He was in control. He was the man. For the first time in a week he felt…proud, somehow. He knew that, even with all of his own failures, even with everything about his life that he hated, he was better than this faggot, at least.
Ron left before him to get dinner, as usual. After closing up, Kevin skipped the bar that evening, and went to the restaurant instead. He’d arrived to find Ron sitting at the bar, leaning over and chatting with Michelle, his eyes firmly planted on her breasts. She saw him first, and turned away from Ron, blushing. He turned around, saw Kevin standing at the door, staring at him, and he could see the older, pudgier man gulp. He took a seat beside him; it only made sense, right, to have a dinner with his boss for a change? They were both quiet–they knew they were caught, right there in the open, and all they could do was eat shit as Kevin chatted with them both, asked her why she had never mentioned becoming so familiar with his boss at the garage, asking Ron when he’d started eating here, when Kevin knew, for a fact, that Ron’s wife, Linda, was an excellent cook. Ron finished his meal as quickly as he could, paid, and fled. Kevin ate slowly, drawing things out a bit, and then told Michelle that he would see her at home.
That evening was the first one he’d spent home with his boys for the last week. It was the first time he could even tolerate being near them, appreciating them. They watched old action movies on the TV, ones his boys had seen countless times, and as he watched them, Kevin could remember them all as well. Michelle arrived home a couple of hours later, with some dinners from the restaurant for the boys to eat, and as soon as Kevin could pry her loose from them, he dragged her off to their bedroom, and fucked the daylights out of her, fucked her like they hadn’t fucked in years, since they’d been on the road together, since neither of them had had a care in the whole damn world–but even that hadn’t compared to the night before, and Kevin knew it.
She confessed, afterwards, to the affair. She had been lonely, Kevin had been so distant, but she was careful not to blame him for her own folly. Kevin told her that he understood, and that he honestly didn’t care. It had just been too damn good an opportunity, making Ron eat shit like that, right there in front of everyone having a nice family dinner, the fucker. He kissed her again. They’d promised they wouldn’t fall into that usual shit, that their relationship would be different. Besides, he knew she’d been a stripper when he met her–hell, his first time with her, he’d paid for a threesome with her and her best friend at the club. He couldn’t begrudge her needing to get laid–especially when he hadn’t exactly been the easiest fellow to live with for a while now.
“I’m sorry babe, I really am,” he said, “I thought–when we met, we had the world, and I wanted you more than anything else. Things…changed,” he said, with a frown, still not entirely sure how to name what that change was, or why, for the last week, it had felt so…blatant, like some tectonic crack along the faultline of his ego. “We had kids, we settled down, got the closest thing to real jobs either of us have ever had…but I want you here because you want to be here, with me, understand? If you wanna fuck a few guys on the side, well, I can’t say I’ve always been perfectly faithful either.”
Kevin didn’t know what he’d been hoping for, but Michelle just looked at him, ran her hands along her body, and sighed.
“I suppose so,” was all she said in reply.
“I feel like there’s something ya ain’t tellin’ me.”
“She looked at him then, in the dark. They could hear the boys hollering at the TV still. One of them would have to get up soon, and force them all into bed. “Promise me, things can stay like this. Promise me you won’t make a mess of it, and…I don’t want to lose anymore, Kev.”
He wasn’t quite sure what she meant exactly, but he nodded. She got up, threw on a robe, and started yelling at the boys to get cleaned up and into bed already, before their neighbors started knocking and complaining. The boys whined, but obeyed. They were good boys, really. He should be proud of them. But he didn’t fall asleep thinking of them, or of Michelle. He was thinking of Steve, of when he might see him next, and he dreamed of him too–but it was gone by the time he’d woken up, hard enough to give Michelle another fuck before getting to work–arriving on time for the first time in ages, Ron speaking to him as an equal…maybe he could make a real kind of life here after all.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. It wasn’t how Steve had imagined it that morning, when he’d been working himself up to it, working over his feelings, trying to reconcile what he’d let that fucking biker do to him in that cell, what he’d wanted him to do, with the man he’d spent all week trying to be. A good husband, a caring father, an upstanding citizen of this small town. He’d been trying so damn hard, and it had been working, ever so slowly! Sex with Christine, while not exactly easy, was at least becoming easier to manage on a daily basis. At times, he could even maintain an erection without her having to keep her finger in his hole the entire time–though he always seemed to need a little prod to get it working to start with. Work was getting easier, as he became more and more acquainted with the community, and with the sheriff–though he was so damn insistent that he get his little girl pregnant as soon as possible, he half expected for him to start demanding daily pregnancy tests from her, to see how things were progressing. Marcy had, at some point, gotten pregnant with someone’s child–whether it was the sheriff’s, her husband’s, or someone else’s even, Steve didn’t even want to know. That didn’t stop the sheriff from doting on her, bringing her flowers, making sure she didn’t do anything too strenuous around the office. It brought a bit of relief in fact, since in gave the sheriff somewhere else to focus his paternal energies, other than his son-in-law.
There had been an order though, for every frustration. Steve had felt, with all of his bones, that things were getting easier. Things were going right–they way they were supposed to go, the way they always should have gone for him. And then, with one fucking night, and one fucking mistake, everything started coming apart in his fingers.
He had gone home that night, secure in the belief that his dalliance with the biker would be a one time thing. Something he would never be able to explain, and because there was no explanation, it would never be repeated again. No one would ever know, Kevin had probably been to drunk to even remember any of it, and as good as it had felt, feeling that void begin to fill with…with something, he knew it couldn’t happen again, not here, not in this town. And so, exhausted, hole still throbbing, he had climbed into bed with his wife, his kids fast asleep, and drifted off, secure that everything, in the morning, would be fine.
But it wasn’t. He had woken up, only to discover that the void he had begun to accept as something that would just always be there, had in fact been filled slightly–and he discovered that he could remember, now, that his jail cell tryst with Kevin had not, in fact, been their first time meeting one another. In fact, he could now recall a clandestine affair spanning years–since they were young (since they were…there, in that car, not themselves, together, and so, so different, so different he couldn’t recall anything about themselves aside from the surety of their very existence there) and he was horrified. Horrified, that he could have somehow forgotten all of this, all of these things he had done. Horrified, too, that he was not, in fact, the person he had thought he was. That the upstanding, model citizen, the police officer, the lover and carer of children and of his wife, was in fact, just a faggot.
It had been too much for him to handle. He felt betrayed by his own mind. He wanted to forget all of it, wanted to will it from existence, but the more he thought about it, the more real it became. Details filled in, smells and tastes and feelings he did not know how to grapple with. He loved him, he realized. He loved him with more conviction than he had ever felt for Christine. It explained so much–why she had to finger him so he could even get hard enough to fuck her, why he felt so alienated from his children, why the sheriff’s obsession with heterosexual sex both repulsed him, even as he found himself thinking about the man more, about the curve of his gut, wondering how his cock might taste. Maybe Marcy would know–then again, he doubted the sheriff would ever waste his seed on a mouth, and especially not a man’s mouth.
He hated these thoughts. He hated how natural they felt. He was so afraid, all morning, to even speak, for fear that his voice or his thoughts would betray him somehow. Christine wanted him to fuck her, and he couldn’t even stomach the notion, he was so confused and ashamed of what he had allowed himself to become. He felt hopelessly corrupted, and as disgusted as he was by himself, all he could think about was seeing him again, was tasting him again, was smelling him again. And so, it was in that flurry of terror, self-loathing, and desire that he had told the sheriff he was going to take his patrol car to get an oil change at Ron’s that afternoon. And after his confrontation with him, the taste of Kevin’s seed still lingering on his tongue, sitting in that waiting room, he knew then, with absolute certainty, that he was lost.
Steve still loved him, in spite of everything, but Steve also knew that Kevin would never again see him as an equal, not like they had been the night before. He had lost something, in his eyes. He had been so afraid, and he had fucked everything up. He was alone now, and he had nowhere to turn. He did the only thing he could do–he drove it all inside. He hardened, as best he could. He resolved that he would do the best he could, regardless. He had forgotten once, after all. He could forget again. He could claw his way back towards the man he was supposed to be, back to being the man everyone saw him as–everyone except for Kevin. But maybe…maybe if he could do that, then Kevin would see him like that again too, right? Not with that loathing sneer he kept flashing him through the window, when he looked at him from the garage. Not…not like a faggot.
He wasn’t a faggot. He wasn’t a faggot! Faggots were simpering little fuckers, crawling in the gutters of the disgusting cities of this country, unable to control their baser desires, unable to resist the animal clawing at their insides, unable to do what was necessary for the security of the future. Faggots were dangerous, to everything he stood for. These were things that he knew, but they were not things that Steve felt, in that moment. All he felt was fear. Fear, because he could feel that animal inside him now. Feel it growing stronger, each time he succumbed to it. It was whispering: “This is not you, this is not the man you were supposed to be. You ran from this once, you fled, and you can run again, you both can.”
But that would require loving that man there, in that garage, the one who had just…
And it would require Kevin loving him as well, who had just allowed him to…
The oil change on the patrol car was finished. Ron told Steve he would bill the department, as usual, and handed the keys back to him. Steve fled as quickly as he could drive, fantasizing about turning onto the main road, about driving, and driving, and getting the the freeway, and driving more, and never turning around, and never coming back, and forgetting all of this–but he couldn’t do that. Perhaps, if he had been younger, before he had met Christine. He had roots here, now. A family. And as hard as it was, he had to stay here, for them, didn’t he?
He settled back down into his rut, as best he could, but either the rut had grown misshapen, or he had warped himself. Each day, he felt like he was nearly bucked off of it by one thing or another. A text from Kevin in the morning perhaps, a picture of his hard cock, telling him to come by the garage at six, after Ron had left, for a fuck. Another forced fuck with Christine, who found herself working harder and harder now to get Steve hard around her. It was torturous but he knew it was necessary, and he would try not to cry, try not to just…blurt out his name, when he came, thinking about him every moment of every day, it seemed like. But every time he tried to draw closer, Kevin would push him away, and every time he felt Kevin begin to soften towards him just the slightest bit, his rough hands turning gentle in the garage, or in the bathroom, or back behind the tavern, Steve would rile him up, harden him again, too afraid of what might happen should either of them get too vulnerable. It wouldn’t be good for either of them, he knew that too.
And all through this was the mayor, and the sheriff, though each terrified him for different reasons. The mayor was unnatural. The mayor, Steve was coming to believe, was truly inhuman. In all of their casual greetings about town, when Steve was out on patrol, he was perfectly congenial, his eyes and voice projecting confidence and trust and everything that Steve could hope for, in an elder figure for their little town–but he was suspecting, slowly, that the mayor knew what was going on. The slightest hint, in the midst of their conversations, things that would only occur to him hours or days later, when it was too late to wonder if he had ever said the right thing in reply. The sheriff was simpler–Steve knew what would make him happy–another grandchild, but that was proving difficult, this time around. It has seemed some easy, with his first two–so easy, he could barely even recall how they had been conceived. But this time, when Christine’s period arrived, and her mood swings, and her bitching, and her–her failure, and she knew it was a failure too. She was ashamed, and they couldn’t even talk about it, just know how they would have to try next month, again. Steve realized, then, that she hated him. She would never say it to his face, perhaps she couldn’t. Hell, perhaps it was all in his imagination, but he was certain of it. She knew. She knew what he was, and if she knew, her father would know. And if the sheriff knew, than the mayor would know of course. He was waiting, waiting for then to just say something, waiting for them to accuse, so at least he could finally, at long last, stop lying.
Perhaps, subconsciously, he wanted someone to find it. That was why he would leave the drive out at work. That was why he would, on his night shifts, take it and watch it again, watch that first time with Kevin–that…first time that mattered to him. Sometimes, he wouldn’t even watch the sex–just watch them as they talked before hand, how they had come so close, how…they had been reaching for each other, unable to find the words, or the feelings, and…and he would cum, or he would cry, or both.
But then, one morning, it wasn’t there. He thought he must have misplaced it. Taken it home with him on accident. But when the sheriff crossed paths with him a bit later, and Steve felt how cold he had become towards him–he realized what had happened to it, and who had it. Now, all he could do was wait–and sure enough, that afternoon when the station had started to empty out, Guthrie told Steve he needed to have a word with him in his office about a private matter.
“You know, I was furious, when I found out what had happened that day, when you’d rolled into town,” Guthrie said, when Steve stepped into the office and shut the door behind him.
He paused, and Steve wasn’t sure if he was supposed to say something or not. Defend himself? Try and explain? He wasn’t even quite sure what the sheriff was talking about, though, so he said nothing, and waited for the older man to continue.
“She was such a cute girl. Eight years old, I got to watch her grow up–do you know what a privilege, that is around here? No–of fucking course you don’t. But for eight years, she was mine. My little girl. Oh sure, I knew at some point he would take her, use her, breed her with some other fucker in this fucking town, but he knew she was special to me. He knew, that I expected him to treat her right, to give her someone I would approve of–and so what does he do? He drags her off the street that day, and…and now she’s married to some fucking faggot!”
Steve flinched, like he’d been slapped. He had heard the word from Kevin’s mouth. He had heard it in his own mind. He had never, yet, heard it from his father-in-law’s mouth, and the word emerged with such bile, such contempt, that Steve shuddered.
“Two faggots, rolling into this fucking town. My fucking town! ‘Oh, we need new blood,’ he told me. ‘Oh, why should I waste two young men like that?’ I fucking told him why. I told him that the two of you, you would never fucking survive here, because no matter what he did to you, no matter who you grew into, you’d still, always, just be a fucking pair of faggots! And now my little girl is gone, and wasted on a piece of fucking shit like you.”
“I don’t…understand…” Steve finally managed to say, and the sheriff picked up a file from his desk and flung it at him in a rage.
“Shut the fuck up! Don’t you say a fucking word–I am not finished with this,” Guthrie said, and then put his head in his hands. “The worst fucking part–I really did like you. He did good on you, he really did. Told me you had good bones, good instincts. That with the right…right reeducation, you would understand. You’d fit in just fine. That…that friend of yours, he had him pegged, but you…you fooled us both, with that goody-two-shoes act, with that smile. All the children fucking love you…”
He paused then, unholstered his pistol, and set it down on the desk, the muzzle pointing right at where Steve was seated, hand not on the trigger, but very close. Steve froze, when he saw it.
“Have you even been fucking her? Using her right?”
“Have you been fucking my daughter, your fucking wife? Have you been doing your god given duty on this fucking earth, have you been fucking her or not?” he roared at him, finger twitching, gun shaking in his clenched hand.
“Yes-Yes!” Steve said, hands going up, “I fuck my fucking wife, what the fuck do you want me to say?”
“So what, you let that fucker…fuck you, right here, right in these fucking cells, and who knows where else, and then you just go right back home and fuck her? How many other guys around here have you gotten to fuck you? How far have you spread this sick corruption of yours, anyway?”
“No one, no one else, I swear, please…please, I’ll leave. I’ll…you’ll never see me again. Please, I’ve sorry…”
“You’re sorry…you’re fucking sorry…” Guthrie said as he stood up, and then stepped around the desk, gun in hand, and leveled it at Steve’s face. “I don’t fucking believe you.”
Steve was certain, in that moment, that he was going to die. He wondered if he deserved it. He wondered if he should feel sad about it. In a way, he felt relief. At least, if nothing else, it would be over.
“He told me to tell him, if either of you relapsed. He said that he could use your lives at least, put you to good breeding use. But where the fuck does that leave her, exactly? I already lost years–ages of her to him, because of you, and I am not about to lose even more because you couldn’t stop yourself from sucking cock. Really, I should just fucking end you, right here–but I…fuck.”
Steve noticed then, that something about the sheriff seemed odd. He was swaying a bit on his feet, and he was breathing heavy, the gun drifting a bit off to the side.
“I should have known, you know. You smell…so good, just like fresh fucking pussy. That’s how you get them to do it, isn’t it? You smell, fuck, just…like him…” his eyes went a bit distant for a moment, and then snapped back. He shoved the muzzle of his pistol into Steve’s mouth. “Lick it, cocksucker. Lick it like it’s the last fucking cock you’ll ever taste.”
Don’t do it, he thought for a moment. Save your dignity, at the very least. But he was more afraid of death than he was of humiliation, and he licked it, tasting the metal, and the sheriff…moaned. Moaned, and groped his cock through the front of his pants…and truly, Steve wondered if he was already dead. If the gun had already gone off, and he was now gone, blown to pieces, this image the final, sick, perverted twist of a troubled mind. But the sheriff pushed the gun in deeper, making him choke on it, and then pulled it free, unzipped his pants, and shoved his own cock into Steve’s mouth.
Guthrie told him to take it. Told him to suck it like a good little faggot, that if he liked it, he might let him live. And so, Steve did his best, because, he discovered much to his surprise, that he did want to live. He wanted to live, and the thing he wanted to live for, in that moment, wasn’t Christine, or his children–it was Kevin. Because for all the brute’s hangups, and issues, he had never treated him like this. With such blatant disdain, and disgust. Used him like…like a whore. So he worked the sheriff’s cock, and he came quick, filling Steve’s mouth with a load of cum–and then he stumbled back, leaning against his desk, heaving for breath, face red, cum still dribbling from the head.
“You…what the fuck are you?” the sheriff muttered, “You…I haven’t…not since…” He raised the gun again, and he was shaking now, and Steve knew what had happened. He knew–because he could remember it too. All those other times now, that he had sucked the sheriff’s cock–here in the office, down in the jail. “No…no no no, I promised myself, I…you fucking…” he wheeled on him, and slapped Steve across the face–but that wasn’t new to Steve either. The sheriff was a rough fucker, after all, and…
God–was this all his fault, Steve wondered? First Kevin, and now the sheriff–he was the common vector. Is he…literally turning men gay? He knew he should feel shame at that, and yet…when the sheriff slapped him again, he could see that the older man was already hard again, and Steve could feel his own mind starting to warp too. He liked this. He…he deserved this sort of abuse, didn’t he? A corrupting little faggot like him. “Harder sir, hit me harder,” he heard himself say, and the sheriff slapped him again, sneering at him, and then gripped his throat, choking him, Steve feeling himself going a bit lightheaded, as the sheriff leaned in closer to him. “This what you wanted, boy? You…you married my daughter, just so you could get some of her daddy’s cock?”
It was like, in the aftermath of their sex together, their memories were still…maleable. Steve could remember that now, but he thought, he could recall something else too…perhaps. “You wanted me too, don’t forget. You…you put on a face, but I think you love me…don’t you…”
It was a gamble. He could see the flash of anger in Guthrie’s eyes, but it wasn’t as strong as before, and his grip lightened, just enough, that he could breathe easier. “I…I could never love a faggot like you, I…you did this, you changed things. Only he can change shit like that, how did you–”
Steve lunged up, and kissed him. Forced himself on him. He could feel the sheriff fighting with himself, with these desires welling up inside him, and finally, he pulled him closer, kissing him back, remembering not just the rough sex now, but the moments of intimacy too. Steve…Steve loved him too, he could feel it, but it wasn’t like what he felt with Kevin. He knew that what he was doing now, he was doing so he could survive. If the sheriff didn’t love him, if he told anyone about what he was doing, about what he was. No–he had to be complicit. He had to need Steve, as much as Steve needed to stay alive. “Say it,” Steve said to him, grabbing the sheriff’s cock with one hand, rubbing it, massaging it.
“I…no, I can’t, I won’t…” the sheriff moaned.
“Fucking say it!”
“I…I love you! I love you boy, fuck, I…oh god–”
The sheriff came again, then, his cock spewing another massive load of cum, soaking their uniforms between them, and Steve felt a rush of power unlike anything he had felt before. He could feel it shifting, could feel how the sheriff longed for him, the long texts he got from him, asking when they could see each other again. Sure, he could be a rough fucker when he wanted, but he knew he only did it because…because they both enjoyed it. He felt the hands on his belt buckle, the sheriff undoing the front of Steve’s pants, freeing his cock, and staring at it. Knowing what he wanted, but terrified of taking it.
“Come on daddy, help your boy out,” Steve whispered into his ear, and the sheriff slowly dropped to his knees, and started sucking on Steve’s cock–and Steve realized that he’d won, somehow. He allowed himself to enjoy this, for a moment. Revel in the feel of the sheriff’s mustache on his cock…and the man was too good, to have not done this before, he realized. Had he…actually wanted this, just as much as Steve had, all this time? He wanted to ask…but he couldn’t. It was too raw, somehow. So he just enjoyed this, filled the sheriff’s mouth with his load, and then stepped back, head spinning with everything that had just happened, trying to fit all of the pieces of this complicated relationship with his father-in-law into place. The sheriff just gulped down the cum, and then started to cry. Steve went to comfort him, and the sheriff shoved him back, and turned away.
“I…I promised myself I would never do that again. I promised him, I wouldn’t. I had to be…strong, and in charge. I…” He took a deep breath, and looked up at Steve. “I knew this was a terrible idea. I knew it, but…fuck, I do love you, son.” He put his head in his hands. “I…I think I always did. I wanted you to do good. I wanted you to be good, because…because it would be easier, for me, if you were, but…but neither of us were strong enough. I just wanted to be normal. I just wanted…a family, and kids, and grandkids.”
Steve paused…wondering if that was really for the best.
“Boy, I said, get out! Get the fuck out!”
And so, Steve ran, and he got out of the station and into the sunshine, amazed that he, after all of that, was even alive to feel it. And inside, Guthrie sat down at his desk, trying to muffle his sobs, and he remembered a time before Derry, before his family, before all of this. The smell of a locker room, the smell of a boy. A time he had trie, so hard to forget, the deals he had made to seal it away, all of it. Steve climbed in his car, and looked at the setting sun, and at the clock. The garage would be closed–where would Kevin be? He thought about what Guthrie had said, and how little sense it had all made, but it was the closest to the truth he had gotten, in all the time he lived here–and somehow, he knew that Kevin was the key to the rest of it. He had to be–no one else…fit. And he headed for the bar, to hopefully make sense of this, at last, and understand what this fucking town was really doing to them both.
That same evening, Kevin was at the tavern, sitting at the bar. It was a relatively pleasant evening, much to the surprise of all the men there, who were usually there drowning their various sorrows and frustrations with the town they called home. Of course, criticizing the town, or the mayor’s rule over it, was strictly forbidden–so the men usually spoke around the edges of things. Complaining about some new building that seemed to have popped up overnight–like that new restaurant, none of them could quite seem to remember having in town before. Sure, the food was fine, and it was nice having a family friendly place to go, but the kids were always so loud, weren’t they? Of course, they had a right to be–they were kids, but the men all liked to come here for a reason.
Kevin had, usually just listened to the rest of them and their old conversational grooves. Mostly, he was there for the company. While it wasn’t quite the same as the rowdy biker bars of his youth, he craved the camaraderie, the space where men could gather and just…just be men, with each other. But being there hurt in someways too–ways he could recognize better now. He didn’t just want company–he wanted intimacy. But now he had Steve for that–a faggot he could use when he needed to, safely compartmentalized away from his masculinity, and with that need met, he found himself much more willing, and able, to open up with the men around him in the tavern.
Of course, some of them still regarded him suspiciously–especially Benny, but that wasn’t surprising, given their earlier altercation in the bathroom. But that was history now, if not ancient, and even Benny found himself enjoying the rowdy biker’s raunchy stories, his exploits with strippers back when he was younger, back when he didn’t have a family that depended on him. Kevin, for his part, was never quite sure if the stories were real or not. They always started out as fabrications to him, little fancies he had in his head, but as the story got rolling, details would come to him, and he would feel them, and see them, and he…he became more and more convinced that he was creating himself, in them. That the stories were coming true–like so much else about him. It was powerful, somehow, and in his alone time, in the garage, thinking to himself, he would recall other stories. Ones with men–young, old, straight, faggots, brothers, enemies. Those were becoming more and more real too…but those, he would have to save for someone else, at another time. Those weren’t safe here–even if he found himself wanting to tell them all the same, longed to feel them dance off his tongue, see if any of the men would respond to them in kind.
He could feel them here, these men. They were longing for something, just like him. Freedom, maybe? That was probably too much to ask for, in Derryville, but at least they could have their stories. In the past, they could be free, right? Or at least, freer.
He was in the midst of one such story, describing how he and a buddy had tag-teamed an stripper one evening (leaving a sizable part of it untold, how he had fucked his buddy’s ass, while he in turn had fucked the bitch) when the door opened, and the men turned to look at who had come in. After all, the regulars were all here–all the other men were with their families, where they probably should have been as well. There, in the doorway, was Steve, breathing hard, looking a bit disheveled and stressed, and Kevin’s voice choked, just for a moment, and the bar fell silent.
Steve strode forward to where Kevin was sitting, amidst the men, and immediately, Kevin could see that something had changed in him. In his stance, in his confidence. He didn’t look like the faggot he had been taunting for months now, abusing in the garage bathroom. He didn’t even look like that desperate, aching cop from that night in the station. He looked like a man. That both turned Kevin on something fierce–a reaction he was not expecting at all–and also terrified him, wondering if Steve was about to spill their secret in front of all of these men.
“We need to talk, now,” Steve said simply.
“Fucker–I don’t have anything to say to you,” Kevin said, and downed the rest of his whiskey, “Unless you got some reason to put me in that car of yours, why don’t you get your ass out of here?”
Steve didn’t punch him hard–Kevin knew a punch pulled when he felt one, but the blow to his shoulder was enough to knock him off balance on the stool, and send him toppling down to the ground hard, away from the bar, when he lay for a moment, shocked by the sudden act of dominance from a man who he had assumed was largely passive.
“Out back, now,” Steve said and stepped over Kevin, heading for the back door of the bar. “None of you fuckers follow. This is about me and him–you don’t want to get involved if you know what’s good for you.”
They all knew full well what was good for them, and this looked like just the sort of trouble all of them had been at one time or another, and which none of them wanted to repeat. They watched as Steve left, and Kevin shoved himself up and stumbled after him, grumbling and swearing. Jack poured all the men a round on the house, and the atmosphere turned back into sullen introspection for all of them. Whatever was about to happen back there, it would only end badly for the two of them, they all believed, but they also all knew better than to try and stop it. They’d seen them, after all, that day, before. How close they’d been. A few even longed for it themselves, perhaps. But not hard enough to try again, to buck the mayor’s rule here in Derryville.
“Faggot, I am going to pound your face into the fucking ground for that,” Kevin said to him when he stepped out, after the door had shut behind them. “Then I’m going to fuck you, and remind you of where your place is.”
“Would you cut the fucking macho act for a second, and think for one goddamn second?” Steve said, “There’s something fucking going on here, in this fucking town. I know you fucking feel it too. This isn’t fucking right! I know something isn’t right here, with me, and I know it has something to do with you, and I’m not fucking leaving until we sort this out.”
Kevin didn’t want to hear it. He didn’t want to think about it, about all the anger and frustration he’d been able to avoid these past few months. It was too hard. It hurt too much. He was tired of hurting, tired of looking in the mirror and hating himself. He…he could belong here. There was something here for him, a place where he could belong in all of this, he just fucking knew it, somehow, and this fucker was going to try and take it away from him, he could tell. He strode towards him, ready to throw a punch, ready to restore order, ready to fight for himself, and was surprised when Steve did not meet him with equal violence, but instead stepped into him, and pulled him close, pulled him tight.
Kevin froze, smelling him. Wanting to push him away, but he ached, he ached for him, so hard, had ached for him every day, ached so hard it hurt sometimes in ways he could barely describe. He could barely restrain himself from running to him–the only thing that had stopped him these past few months was that line. On this side, on his side, was the man, and on the other side, the faggot, the degenerate. Already, the line was dissolving inside him. Either they were both men, or both faggots, and neither of those was tenable to him, in his mind, in everything he knew now. He tried to push him off, but Steve clutched him harder. “Talk to me. I know you saw something, felt something that night in the cell. You said something when you came, about how you’d been. About who you’d been. What did you see? What the fuck were we?”
Steve’s words were barely a whisper in his ear, but they rang so loud inside him. What had he seen? What had he felt? He’d seen himself. Someone he’d been, but who he could have never been really. A phantom. Young, not even twenty-five. Soft, thin, supple. Obviously a faggot of some variety, but a comfortable one. One who had heard the word often enough that it no longer carried the force of hatred and self-loathing to him. Someone who had grown up in a city, someone on a trip–but beyond that, nothing much. But even that little image had shaken him deeply. Deep enough that he’d denied it so hard to himself, told himself he must be imagining things.
“What the fuck did you see? You have to tell me, you have to.”
“I didn’t see fucking anything!” Kevin said, finally managing to push Steve off of him, “I don’t know what I saw, it was just some kid.”
“It was you, wasn’t it. Who you were.”
“Fuck. What the fuck is this fucking…”
“What the fuck is this fucking shit about ? Why the fuck are you doing this to me?” Kevin said, “Why the fuck is it that every fucking time I see you coming you make me hurt so fucking much? I’ve been in bar fights, I’ve had broken bottles shoved in my side, and none of it has ever hurt like this in my whole fucking life.”
Steve told him, omitting a few details, what had happened to him in the sheriff’s office that evening. How so many things Guthrie had said to him didn’t make a lick of sense to him, unless…unless they had been different somehow, before this.
“No, this is fucking insane,” Kevin said, after listnening to him, “I know who I was before I settled down here. I wasn’t some faggot kid going to college. I remember everything.”
“Yeah, but you remember something else, don’t you?” Steve said to him, “You remember June 27th, don’t you? I don’t know why, but I woke up that day–and it was like the first time I met you. I knew I should know who my wife was, who my fucking kids were, but I didn’t. I could feel the outlines of something, some life I was supposed to live, but it wasn’t mine. And fuck knows, I’ve tried. I’ve tried to be the good husband, the good father, the good fucking cop, but it isn’t getting any fucking easier, because I fucking know it’s a lie, and you know it is too.”
“Yeah, so then who were you?”
Steve hesitated. “I don’t know.”
Kevin just stared at him.
“What, I fucking don’t, but I must have been fucking someone! I just…I just know that I wasn’t always this.”
Kevin turned then, and headed back towards the tavern. Steve grabbed his arm, and tugged him back. “Fucking let me go, I’m fucking done with this shit.”
“You…you fucking know this is a fucking lie, and what, you’re just going to go along with it?”
“And what the fuck do you suppose we do? You’re telling me that something in this town turned…took me, that me, that whispy little faggot, and turned me into some burly biker with no fucking memory of who I had even been. Gave me a wife and three boys, and…and what? What the fuck do you propose we do about it? We don’t know shit–I wish I didn’t know any of this shit, and I’m going in there, and I’m going to drink until I fucking don’t remember it, I can tell you that.”
“You can’t just fucking turn your back on me!” Steve said, “Whoever we were, we were together, you realize that, right? I…I don’t think I can stand it, living here apart from you. Knowing that we could have been something, and…and now we’re just this! Doesn’t that fucking piss you the fuck off? I thought you were some big fucking biker rebel, and now you’re just going to drink yourself under the god damn table? I know that you’re fucking terrified. Hell, I’m fucking terrified! I don’t know what the fuck is going on, and…and I know I’m fucking toast, if I stay here another day. I’m leaving, and fuck it, I want to leave with you.”
Kevin turned and looked at Steve. He had seen something else, in that moment. Someone else. He hadn’t known who, until now, but looking at Steve in the light, if you got rid of the mustache, and the wrinkles, and the uniform…he was the same kid, the one across from him at the table, beside him in the car, with him then. But that was a lifetime away. It didn’t even exist anymore. “Yeah? You want to run off with me? What the fuck are we going to do then–one washed up biker thug and a overly earnest deputy? What the fuck are we supposed to do if we leave? Where the fuck do we even go? I…I don’t know what’s out there, anymore. It’s all gone, all of it, and I know you don’t know either. We have lives here–families. It…it doesn’t matter how we got them, or who they are, you think we don’t owe them some responsibility too.”
“Oh cut the crap, you’re just scared.”
“Of course I’m fucking scared! I’m fucking terrified! The fact that you somehow aren’t just tells me you’re either insane, or an idiot.”
Steve kissed him then, forced himself at Kevin, into his arms, smelling the whiskey and smoke on his breath. Kevin resisted for a moment, and then kissed him back, letting Steve push him back, up against the brick of the tavern behind them, let him thrust his hand down the front of his jeans, grope his cock. “I don’t know what’s out there. I don’t. But I know that…that together, it’s better than this. Tell me you don’t feel this, fucking tell me you don’t want this, and I’ll…I’ll let you leave. I’ll go alone, but I’m fucking going, with or without you. I can’t do this anymore, whatever this is, and…” the words were lost again, as they kissed, growing more and more forceful, Kevin trying to force his way into a dominant position, but he felt something else welling up inside him. Not a weakness, though that was the first word that came to mind, He let Steve turn him around, push him up against the wall. Let him tug down his jeans, felt a finger running up and down his crack. He shuddered, knowing what was about to happen, thought about that line he had constructed so carefully between them, how it was crumbling more and more, how everything was becoming so confusing, but so thrilling. Then, Steve was inside him, and Kevin cried out in surprise and joy and ecstasy. He had thought about this, he’d thought about this, and he’d been terrified by how much he wanted it, but now that it was happening, he only wanted him deeper, pushed back harder, and harder still, Steve fucking him, both of them trying to stay quiet, but unable to bring themselves to stop.
The world began to fall away, in those next moments. Their families, their jobs, this town–all of the structures that had been holding them apart all of this time just collapsed, and it was just them. Two men, as close to each other’s bodies as they could possibly be, reveling in something animal between them, and Steve could see himself there, that…old him, that young him–not the youth that was part of his story now. Burly, still holding onto that masculine ruggedness that had kept him safe in that small town, even as Kevin had tried to sand off the hard edges and get him to adjust to life in college, to life in the city.
The vision did not come with the sort of revelatory catharsis he craved. He saw himself, the truth of himself…but no longer felt any connection to him. There was grief there–sorrow for the years he had lost, but he found himself surprisingly unenvious of him, of that future. He found himself drawn back to the moment, to the sensation of his cock buried in Kevin’s ass, the smell of his musk, the rough denim under his hands, Kevin urging him on, telling him to get rougher with him, that if…if he thought he was man enough to be on the road with him, he was going to have to prove what kind of rough, raunchy fucker he was willing to become.
Steve came inside him with a moan, feeling his seed pump its way into Kevin’s ass, as Kevin stroked his cock off, spraying his own load all across the side of the building with a shuddering gasp, and then he collapsed against it, Steve clutching him, cock still softening inside his buddy’s hole–and he knew he’d done it. They’d done it. They’d found each other again, themselves again…and somehow, this time, in spite of everything, it felt right. More right than it ever could have when they were those young men, fumbling along.
“Well, guess we’re both faggots now…” Kevin said, chuckling, but with an edge of bitterness all the same. “Wish…fuck, I knew it would feel good, I really fucking did, but I didn’t think it would feel…that fucking good, with you.”
Steve spun him around, and shoved him up against the brick of the building, and gave him a little slap. “Shut up with that faggot shit–we’re not fucking faggots. That’s what they call us. We’re fucking men, and…and fucking hell Kev, I fucking love you. I always fucking loved you.”
Kevin nodded, and turned away so his face was in shadow, to hide the tears he couldn’t seem to stop from streaming down his face. “So…so we just leave then? That’s it?”
“What the fuck else can we do?”
“We could…stay, couldn’t we?” Kevin said, but even he could hear how weak the suggestion was.
“You and I both know that’s a fucking mistake.”
“But Michelle, and the boys–who the fuck is going to look after them? I…I have fucking responsibilities here, and I fucking know you do to. I know! I know, before you say it, that it isn’t important–that…that it isn’t real. But I’m not that kid anymore, Steve. I…fuck, I fucking hate the idea of that kid, you know? Just…freaks me the fuck out, thinking about it. He might not have wanted to be me either, and maybe he should have gotten a choice, but…well, I’m here now, and this matters to me. It should matter to me too.”
“So what, we just fuck in the shadows? Hope no one fucking finds out? I think we both know that’s never going to work Kev.”
“Maybe…maybe we could change it here.”
Steve thought about the sheriff, thought about his rather rapid change of heart. Then he thought about the mayor, about his calmness for the last few weeks, about his hints. He knew he was the real threat. This was Derryville after all–this was his town. It didn’t matter how well executed their rebellion might be, it would be quashed ruthlessly…in ways that Steve probably wouldn’t even be able to imagine. “I wish we could…I do. But we can’t be safe here, and I know you know that. I know you’re braver than this–what the fuck is the matter?”
“M-Michelle is pregnant,” Kevin said.
“She just told me this morning, missed her period last week, and Ambrose confirmed it. I…She can’t do it alone.”
Steve sighed. “She can. You know she can. We have to get out of here, I know you know that, and it had to be now. Either we leave together, tomorrow…or we can’t keep doing this.” Steve stood back. “No–either way, I’m leaving. I can’t stay here, not…not after today. I’m leaving tomorrow. Come with me, please…please, I…I can’t make you, but I can’t keep you safe if you don’t come.”
Kevin didn’t say anything, he just turned away from him a bit, further into the shadow. “I have to think about it.”
“That’s not a no! I have to fucking think about it–come…come over, and either I’ll go with you, or say goodbye–that’s the best I can give you right now.”
Steve wanted to press him, but worried it might only drive him further away. In any case, he had to get home, and try and pack a bag without Christine or the kids suspecting anything. He gave Kevin a kiss, and then left around the side of the building, got to his squad car and drove off. Kevin stuck around behind the bar for a moment, breathing deep, thought about going back into the bar, decided against it, and headed around after him towards his bike. Neither of them noticed the other car parked a few buildings away down the alley, that had sat there and watched everything that had just transpired. Inside, in the driver’s seat, was Mayor Derry, and beside him, was Sheriff Guthrie, still trying to put himself back together.
“Well, I appreciate you telling me everything, Guthrie,” Derry said, “but I already knew what out two newcommers were getting up to. But your honesty means much, and it means some…leniency, when we discuss punishment.”
“I…I just want him. He did this to me, and he gets to be mine. I don’t care what you do to us otherwise…give him to me.”
“Now now, we’ll see if that sort of punishment seems fitting. I can’t, after all, support sexual degeneracy in my town, if that’s what you’re suggesting.”
“Oh fuck you–you have Jeremiah fucking all of his daughters already! Don’t you fucking talk to me about degeneracy. Just give him to me, that’s all I fucking ask. You fucking owe me–you know you would have never gotten this far without me.”
Derry tsked, but shrugged. “Perhaps. For now though, I think it would be best if we see if we can get our two trouble makers back onto a more righteous path–and if not, well, I will take your request under due consideration. First–I should go fetch your wayward deputy, before he does anything rash.”
Steve never made it home that night. He was hustling down the sidewalk to his patrol car, already assembling his pack in his mind, withdrawing what savings he could so Kevin and him might have a little money to travel on until they found somewhere new, somewhere…better than this, at least. But as he was walking, a figure stepped out in front of him from a side alley in his path, and he stopped short, recognizing the figure of Mayor Derry immediately. Before he could turn and run the opposite direction, however, the mayor spoke to him–spoke to him in a way he had not spoke to Steve before, that he could remember at least. The words were so smooth and soothing, that no matter how hard he tried to not hear them, they slipped into his mind away, past his consciousness, towards something deeper. The Mayor stepped closer, laid a hand on Steve’s shoulder, and had a few words with him, suggesting that he join him and the sheriff for a conversation, before he make any rash decisions. Steve, as much as he did not want to, knew that this was likely the best course of action–after all, the mayor was never wrong about these sorts of things. So, with one last longing look towards the patrol car, towards freedom, he turned instead and followed the sheriff to the car parked around behind the building, the car with a perfect view of where he had just been speaking to Kevin–and he was terrified for a moment, that Kevin had already been apprehended. However, the car was empty–just the three of them, and Steve allowed himself a moment of hope that perhaps, Kevin would be able to get away at least.
They drove to the sheriff’s station in silence. Or at least, Steve was mostly sure it was silence. The mayor was still speaking, but not in words that he could hear–more thoughts that seemed to be reverberating inside him, consoling him, relaxing him, such that when they arrived, he felt surprisingly calm about the entire situation. It was necessary–he knew that. What he had been doing with Kevin, what he had done with the sheriff…while not strictly illegal of course, it was not in the best interests of the mayor’s town–and something would have to be done about the three of them in due course.
So they entered the station, and the three of them went down into the small jail in the basement, the mayor guiding them to the second cell in the row–the same cell where Steve and Kevin had first fucked…and Steve realized, then, that none of this had been a secret–at least, not from the mayor. From the sheriff’s reaction earlier, it was clear that he’d had no idea that any of this was going on, but the mayor–he thought back to those conversations they’d had, those leading questions and insinuations. This had all been a test–a test, and Steve had failed it.
“Now, why don’t you have a seat on that bench there, Steve, and we can have a chat,” Derry said to him. The sheriff, knowing he was not yet needed, but that he had better not stray too far away, sat down in a chair outside the cell, and watched. “I must say, first of all, that I’m disappointed in you Steve.”
Should he apologize? Should he beg for forgiveness? Steve wasn’t sure that either of those would sway the man in front of him–he had always seemed somehow above those sorts of petty, human things. In fact, looking at him now, in the sterile lights of the cell, Steve found himself wondering who, exactly, the mayor was. He’d known about all of this–he likely knew every time anyone in the town fucked–it was his business to know, he supposed. Whether he had been human once, or whether he was just some other thing wearing a human skin, Steve supposed that it did not matter at the end of the day. They were different beings, the two of them. It was unlikely that anything that might sway Steve would work on this man, and so he stayed silent, but avoided the mayor’s eyes. His eyes, that was the most unnerving thing. Had he ever seen the mayor blink? Wipe a tear? The silence stretched longer, and longer still. The mayor stood and stared at Steve, but he heard the creak of the chair where the sheriff was seated, as the man shifted, uncomfortable in the silence. “I…I would tell you I’m sorry, but I don’t think you would believe me, even if I were,” Steve said at last.
“I blame myself. Really, truly, I do,” the mayor replied. “This town–there is a space here for everyone somewhere here, where they can both be happy, and contribute themselves to something larger than themselves. To a future. But I’ve never found men and women to be particularly capable of understanding my vision here. Always so focused on the present, on what they want. Even when I give them what they want, they seem to trick themselves into thinking it isn’t what they wanted at all! You all really are so confusing, you see, but I accept responsibility for it all the same. It is imperfect, what I do, but we must resolve it, all the same, for the sake of what we are building here.”
“What…do you do, exactly?” Steve asked, “What the fuck did you do to me? To us? We…I know we were different, I’ve seen us, but it’s like I’m looking back through the wrong end of a telescope.”
“I’m afraid that the what is rather worthless, without the why.”
“Fucking fine then, why the fuck are you doing this? We..we didn’t do anything to you–we just wanted to pass through–I think I remember that..” Steve muttered, and the mayor nodded, confirming he was right. “We were leaving–but…why? Why do this?”
“Because we needed you, of course. You don’t realize this, I don’t think, but you are very valuable here–more valuable than most of the people who live here. More valuable than your wife, or most of the children you pass on the street–because you are new. Newblood–every town needs it ot survive, and grow, and thrive. Tell me, do you know when the restaurant was opened?”
Steve thought, and then shook his head.
“Was it there when you drove through that day? Do you think those two young men, in a town they didn’t know, would have stopped to eat at that dingy tavern, if they could have gone to that nice, sleek diner instead?”
“I…I don’t know.”
“It didn’t exist, not until the two of you came, and stayed. You see, you…have all of this energy inside you. More than you can even understand, all of this potential, and you all eek it out over the course of lifetimes–but give that energy to me…and all sorts of things can happen in the blink of an eye.”
“You…you what, stole our fucking youth, and used it to build a fucking restaurant?”
“Among other things,” the mayor said, sweeping his hand out, “You expanded the town limits another couple of miles down the road. You added two classrooms to the high school. You gave us five new beautiful children between you. There was plenty more as well–I am not wasteful, I only keep a small percentage for myself, as tax, you see. The rest is for you–for all of you. For the town. That is what I was asked–elected–to do, and that is how I serve this place, and these people. Before me, this town was dying, and now look at it–a few more young men driving through like the two of you, and things will only get better still. Do you understand? We needed you, and so we took you, but in exchange, look at what we gave you! Families, jobs, purpose.”
“We had that!” Steve said, “We had our own fucking lives, and you just…just decided those weren’t living?”
“You had no future–especially not together. I could see it, plain as day, how much you were coming to despise one another. And besides, what kind of future could either of you have, really. Behaving as you were? No structure, no culture, no purpose. Where would that other you be, ten years down the line? Would be be successful? Are you sure? Would he be happy? You’ll be happy here–I guarantee it, one way or another. If not this way, then we will try another, now that I understand you better. I rarely get things wrong the second time around–though I must say, I am surprised how eager you were to talk yourself out of this life I’ve given you here.”
“What do you mean?” Steve asked.
“Because I gave you everything you asked me to give you,” the mayor said, and smiled. It was not a kind smile–there were too many teeth, and they were too sharp suddenly, in the light. “Everything that old you was longing for. You ran away from home, went to college, but not because you disliked where you were from, but because you didn’t feel there was a place for you, where you could matter. So I made you matter. A deputy, the husband of the sheriff’s daughter, ready to be groomed by him to take his position when he retires. A man of importance, who matters to his community, with two beautiful children for you to love and rear like I knew you wanted. I could see the ache in you–a young man with three younger siblings, wondering if you would ever have a family of your own, wondering if you would ever be normal. I made you normal. I fixed you! I fixed you, and all you have done is undermine my work at every turn.”
“Because it isn’t what I wanted! I didn’t ask for any of this!”
“Of course you did. You came willingly, you told me what you wanted. Don’t you remember?”
He didn’t, but there was so much he couldn’t dredge up from his mind, that he wondered if it was true, perhaps, in a fashion. The mayor, after all, could be a rather convincing fellow–but that didn’t justify what he’d done.
“Perhaps I was just blinded by another fellow, similar to you,” the mayor continued, looking over his shoulder at the sheriff, still sitting there, frowning, staring at his lap. “It worked out well enough in his case, I suppose, but apparently, I was wrong. And now I have three problems in town, and all of them need solving. Such a trouble you two have been, mucking about in my perfect little town!”
“Fuck you! You fucking piece of shit–you don’t fucking know me, you fucker. What the fuck can you do to me that you haven’t already done anyway? I’m still driving the fuck out of here come morning–or you can fucking kill me, I don’t fucking care. I’m not living some fucking lie anymore.”
“Oh I would never, ever kill you, Steve. It would be such a waste after all! No–we don’t waste lives here in Derryville, we use them.” The smile was wider now–the teeth even sharper, the eyes…the eyes–what even was he? “So help me, Steve. All I want is for you to be happy here. I can give you anything you might want here. Power. Authority. Purpose. Family. Love. Nothing is beyond me, I just need to know what will make you happy–content. What kind of little life I can make for you here, that will help you settle down, right where you’re supposed to be. So help me out, Steve. Help me, help you. What do you want? What can I give you?”
“You can let me go,” Steve said.
“No…no no no! Steve you aren’t listening to me! You haven’t heard a word I’ve said, have you? You live here now, Steve–you will live here until the day you die, and that life can either be one you enjoy–a gilded cage, with plenty of space to stretch your legs, or I will make you something ironclad that you will never be able to escape–but I don’t like having to do that Steve. That’s not nice, and it isn’t necessary–all you have to do is settle down. Relax. Live a life–so tell me, what life do you want? I could make you a biker, make you buddies with Kevin, I could even let the two of you fuck on occasion–provided it doesn’t interfere with your breeding duties. Do you want this fucker’s job?” He asked, looking back at Guthrie, making the older sheriff squirm a bit, “That could be arranged as well.”
“You…you can’t keep me here. I don’t want to be happy here–I know this place is a fucking lie. What the fuck can you do to me, in any case? No matter what you do to me, I’m fucking leaving here tomrrow, you can’t fucking stop me.”
“Tell me, Steve, do you even know what I could do to you right now?”
Steve didn’t. But bravado had gotten him this far, really, with both Kevin and with the sheriff. He saw no reason to change course now–and he could still feel that the mayor would have no interest in him begging for mercy anyway.
“Well, allow me to demonstrate then–just what I can do. Guthrie, be a good fellow and come on over here, won’t you?”
Steve heard the sharp breath com from the sheriff, and he stood up from the chair, glancing towards the stairs out of the jail, and then back at the mayor. “I…I came to you sir, please, I told you what I did! I know I made a mistake, I know it, but…but please, you don’t have to do this, I’ll be fine, I can be fine, I can be good again!”
The mayor shook his head, and shushed him, calmly, the sheriff shaking now as Derry approached, took him by the arm, and pulled him into the cell where Steve was sitting. “I know. You did the right thing, Guthrie, you really did. And if you had just come to me, and told me that you wanted me to help you put everything right, put all those old things right back in their boxes, make you good as new and deal with these two troublemakers, there would be no need for this–but you know what, Guthrie? You told me something else, back in the car, didn’t you?”
“No–I didn’t, I didn’t say anything!”
“You told me, that you wanted him, didn’t you? That you loved him? That whatever I do to you both, you wanted him. You didn’t tell me you wanted to be the sheriff, or anything like that…I think I’ve been neglecting you–not giving you what you really need to be happy. But we can fix this, I think–and give you what you really want–but you have to give me something to work with, don’t you?”
The mayor’s hands moved so fast that Steve couldn’t even register that they had moved–it was like they had always been there, gripping the sides of Guthrie’s face, the sheriff still muttering, and pleading, but it was already over.
Steve found himself trying to understand what he had seen, what had happened in front of him, between the sheriff and the mayor. It had happened, but it hadn’t taken…time, not like how Steve would do something. From one moment to the next, he was looking at the mayor holding the sheriff’s face, and then…he was holding someone else’s face, someone that Steve did not recognize–but who he knew, with certainty, was the same man. Was Guthrie. But even though it had happened in an instant (no, faster than an instant. Instant implied a before and an after . What had happened erased the before entirely–the man had not been the sheriff an instant before–he now had never been the sheriff at all.) and yet it hadn’t–he had witnessed the changes, he could remember them, even though he couldn’t place the time they had taken in his mind. Out of time, perhaps–but what could that even mean? He could still see the hair falling from Guthrie’s head, showering about his shoulders, the remaining hair growing longer and longer, going from his silver speckled black, to grey, to now mostly white. Remembering the changes now, it felt like ages, like time had slowed to some monstrous crawl, watching him age like a rock eroding over decades into some new and predestined shape. His firm body, with a hard gut growing softer, muscles fading into more fat that sagged down around him. His uniform was no longer there, replaced by old jeans and a long sleeve shirt, both of them crusted with grime and age, his wrinkled face hidden by a thick beard just as white as the rest of his hair, or what remained, eyes cloudy with cataracts, back hunched over, now clinging to the mayor’s arm to keep from falling over, and the mayor summoned the chair, set Guthrie back down, the old man crying now, weeping even, for his loss.
Steve looked at him, horrified, and in that moment, he shot up from the bench and sprinted past the mayor, heading for the stairs, but didn’t even make it to the first step before Derry calmly told him to stop. Told him to turn around, and sit back down on the bench–after all, they weren’t done with their conversation, were they?
“This was my mistake with you, I now believe. I remember peeking into your little head, looking at what made you tick, looking at that cute little small town you’d grown up in. Looking at the happy childhood of yours. You were so happy, you know–but something happened to you, that old you. A flaw, somewhere along the line, made you–the handsome football star, the town’s shining fellow, made him like cock. I saw all that–and I wanted to give you that back. I wanted to give you a place in this town where that little boy could have everything he wanted, without being driven out by some small minded assholes–like that coach, like your dad, like those boys. They needed you, just like we needed you. Losing you put one more nail in that town’s coffin–but it worked out for us here just fine, and I figured it would work out fine for you too. Give you a place to be happy, give you a purpose. Fulfill those dreams of yours, when you were eight, and all you wanted was to be a police officer. I thought you would be happy–but it turns out, I was wrong about you, wasn’t I? You aren’t happy at all.”
“Please…” Steve said, “Please, I’ll…I’ll stay. I’ll be the sheriff, I can do it, I know I can, please, I didn’t understand, I didn’t know–”
The mayor put a hand to Steve’s lips, and smiled that same, nightmarish grin of his. “I know you didn’t understand. But if I gave you that now…well, fear doesn’t make anyone happy. It just means that you spend all your time looking for ways to get out of the cage, like a dog. You know what happens if you train a dog with a shock collar, Steve?”
He shook his head.
“One of those invisible fence things. Collar goes on a dog. If they cross a line in the yard, gives them a shock. Works like a charm–that dog never crosses that line after the first few times–but you know what? Dogs aren’t stupid. The dog knows exactly what you are doing to them, knows exactly what the collar does, and knows that you put it around its neck. And if that collar comes off…well, you’re never going to see that dog again. Why would it ever come back to the fellow who shocked it, because they were too lazy to train it properly?”
The mayor’s hand appeared under Steve’s chin, just as his hands had appeared on the side of the mayor’s face–like it had always been there.
“I just want to make you happy, Steve. I don’t want to put a shock collar on you. I want to give you a nice yard, with lots of room to roam, and good food, and train you right–because I don’t want to have you running off as soon as you get the chance. But that’s the thing about you, Steve–you like running. That’s where I got you wrong, the first time. I thought that little town had driven you out, but I was wrong–you were running from it. Perhaps for good reason, but you were running all the same. You and Kevin rolled into this town, and you were already thinking about running from him too. That’s what you need, isn’t it Steve? To be running from something?”
“Please–” was all Steve managed to get out, before something inside him tore to pieces. Everything about him, tore to pieces. There was everything he was, and then there was nothing, and then, bit by bit, someone started telling him a story–a new story about himself. How he’d been born here, in Derryville, to his mother and father, but when he was just three years old, his mother had stolen him away in the night, and run off with him to the Big City (which big city it was was not important. It was big, and smelly, and claustrophobic, and threatening, and evil and…) because she thought, stupidly, that the small town life wasn’t for her, or for her son.
And so he had grown up there, had a kind of childhood there, in the slums. His mother had made things work with a string of jobs as he grew up, turned ten, and then thirteen, but something happened to her. The Big City crawled inside her, like it wanted to crawl inside him as well, and did something to her. Got her addicted to drugs. Turned her cold, and unloving, and cruel. She would hit him, in a drunken, drug fueled stupor, have men over, strange men that looked at him with a nasty look, wondering if he knew what they were there to do. He had step-siblings then, creatures truly of the Big City, and he could feel it, as he came of age, trying everyday to find its way inside him, to corrupt him too, just as it had corrupted everyone he loved–everyone other than his father.
Steve was not a smart boy, or a talented boy. His childhood was not conducive to a regular, or a good education. He made do, running small jobs–some legal, others less so, saving up everything he could get, determined to escape the Big City before it could get it’s fingers in him too, before it could crawl down his throat and infect him with the same sickness he was watching tear his mother apart. And then he fled, when he could. He took a car, filled it with gas, and drove to the only other place he knew–he came home, here, to Derryville. To his father.
But that had been over twenty years ago now–and he thanked every single one of those days for the country sunshine, for the clean air, for the honest work and good people in this beautiful town where he lived now. He felt something well up in him, a great, expansive happiness he had been afraid of gripping for so long, but now he could. He had Escaped. He was Free. It was everything he had ever wanted–it was his dream.
He blinked some of the tears away, looked up into the mayor’s kind face, and all he could say was “Thank you.” For what, he was not quite sure, but he knew it needed to be said. “Not to worry about a thing–just don’t get into any more brawls, Steve–you’re not a young man anymore, you know?”
“Now you go home with your daddy, and mind him like you oughta.”
Steve looked behind the mayor, and the old man sitting there, and recognized him immediately. It was his father–his real father, who had accepted him with such great love, when he’d gotten into town that day, that he’d known, with real certainty, that he was home, for good, and he’d never leave again. His daddy looked a bit confused, and a bit sad, but when Steve touched him, his eyes lit up with recognition, and he looked to the mayor, and then back at Steve, as if confirming this was real. “Yes son, let’s…let’s go home…”
Steve did not pass a mirror as he left. He couldn’t see that he had lost quite a bit more hair, that the wrinkles of his face had deepened, that his gut had grown even as his body had filled in with hard earned muscle. He wasn’t an intelligent man, but he knew the value of hard work, and most of the construction in this town wouldn’t have gotten anywhere nearly as fast without Steve’s hard work on the crews–and everyone knew it. But now, he needed to care for his daddy–that was the most important thing to him, making sure that this man, this man who had given him a home here, was cared for, and loved.
But when they got home, and Steve discovered that, to his father, their love was expected to take on another dimension, he balked–at first. The old man was strong though–and it didn’t take much to bend his son to his will, to push him over the bed, fuck his semi-willing hole, show him just how much he loved him in every way that a father could love his progeny. And while Steve had been married once and given her two children, she was…with someone else now. It didn’t matter. He’d fucked other women over the years, given them children,contributing to the future of the town as was necessary for all the men here–but he was past his prime now, he knew that. His focus now would be on loving his father. On keeping him happy–keeping them both happy for the rest of his life. When he woke up in the morning, made coffee for them both, and sucked his father’s old cock with such pristine adoration, he spared not a thought for a biker on the other side of town named Kevin—-but the mayor was more than willing to pay him a visit in his stead.
Kevin, cursing under his breath the whole way to his bike, climbed on, revved it up, and sped off towards home. He was furious. Furious at Steve for being given an ultimatum like that. Furious at himself for being so weak, as to let that damn faggot manipulate him like this. Furious at this town, for whatever it had done to them both. Furious that he still didn’t even understand any of it–not the little snippets of memory, nor his love for Steve, nor the sudden upwelling of emotion that had accompanied Michelle’s announcement that she was pregnant this morning. Pregnant, with his kid.
He had three of them with her, this wasn’t something new for them, and yet, all the same…she’d been so damn happy, when she’d told him. Like some gigantic weight had lifted from her that he hadn’t even noticed she’d been carrying for months now. “We did it,” she’d told him, like they’d just won a trophy, “We fucking did it, thank fucking god.”
He’d never liked children. He’d never even liked his own children. And yet, something inside him had shifted gears, some ancient, biological machinery was grinding to life, and he found himself excited, and eager, and giddy–and he had absolutely no idea why it was making him feel like this. One more kid was just one more anchor around his neck, one more fucking think drowning him in this town, right? Or was it something keeping him afloat? Something assuring him that he was on the right path? And now all of this with Steve, with that terrified look in his eyes. He knew Steve wasn’t being fully honest with him, about something. That he’d stepped in some real fucking shit here, turned over a mess he shouldn’t have–he’d seen that look before, on guys in gangs, when they’d fucked up big time. He knew he should stay away. That it didn’t have to be his problem, unless he made it his problem. Just deny it, deny everything. It would work on everyone but himself.
But he loved the fucker. He’d loved the fucker since that first night in that damn cell, but loving him had been so damn hard. Hating him was easier. Seeing Steve as a faggot, and himself as a man was easier. Seeing him as some fuckup was easier. But loving him was hard, and his heart seemed dead set on it no matter how he rationalized it. By the time he got home, running off…it was sounding better and better to his ears. It wouldn’t be easy, by any means, but is this what he really wanted? This shitty mobile home, this shitty marriage, three (soon four) squabbling kids? Maybe it wasn’t even his. Michelle said she’d stopped seeing Ron, but he couldn’t know for sure. No, his heart told him, it was his. He could feel it, somehow, reverberating in him. Even on the off chance it wasn’t his seed–the baby belonged to him all the same.
Inside the trailer, his boys were all in bed–it was just Michelle, waiting up for him, still basking in the glow of her success, rubbing her belly, on the couch. Kevin sat down with her, and kissed her, trying to summon the same level of passion he’d felt not moments before with Steve, but it refused to come to him–and worse, she knew it wasn’t there. She knew he didn’t love him, and that meant she didn’t have to try to love him back, but at least she had his child, and that was enough for her. She leaned over towards him, and he put his arm around her, and watched TV for a while…and he knew this could be enough. Not the best, not everything he wanted–not what either of them really wanted, but enough.
She went to bed not too long after the end of the next episode, and didn’t even try and pull him to bed with her, for what had become their regular, nightly fuck. His purpose, for her, had been served. She wouldn’t need him for another nine months. She would care for him, sure. Keep the household running, keep him fed, keep him happy enough, but beyond that–he wasn’t necessary. In that moment, he knew what he had decided to do.
He waited through another two episodes, until he could hear the soft snores from the bedroom, signalling that she had fallen asleep. Then, creeping around the house as quietly as he could, he started assembling his bag. He wouldn’t need much–he’d never needed much. He took the savings from the coffee can on top of the refrigerator, and then put a couple hundred back, feeling suddenly guilty. She would need something, after all. The town would make sure she was taken care of, but he didn’t want her to suffer. That much he knew–he was abandoning her, with no fucking explanation, and that was bad enough. The hesitation was almost enough to derail his entire plan–but he put back another wad of cash, taking not even half for himself, and put it to rest. He knew she didn’t love him. This town didn’t need him–all it cared about was his seed, it seemed like. But Steve cared. Steve could have just ditched, but came to him first. That meant something, it had to. In the whole mess of this place, that felt, to him, like the last thing that mattered, that he was anchored to. Everything else could fall away, and as long as he had Steve, they would be fine.
So he packed his bag, and now too wired to even try and sleep, he turned off the lights, turned off the TV, and just sat on the couch, listening to the sounds of his family sleeping, thinking about his boys, about their names, what the wanted to do with their lives, what they might think of him when they find out he’s run off. What Michelle would tell their fourth, boy or girl (he found himself hoping for a girl, despite himself, something to balance out the place, someone to help Michelle feel less alone). Whether she would curse his name, whether she would run off with Ron. He’d treat her well enough, he supposed. Better than he would, probably. They all deserved better than this, including him.
And so he waited for dawn, when Steve had promised he would come. Even this late in the summer, it was still coming early. He saw the first streaks of light around five. The first slice of sun at five thirty. The whole sun up a little after six. Still no sign of him. He heard his boys start to stir, and without thinking too hard about it, he shoved the bag under the sink–pulled the cash out and replaced it in the can, and with one last look down the dirt road of the trailer park, he slipped into bed with Michelle, and fell asleep almost immediately.
It was a few hours later when he awoke, groggy and cranky and worried as could be. His boys were up and eating breakfast, Michelle talking about how they would have to go school shopping that morning, and so they couldn’t go play outside. They moaned and groaned, and as Kevin slipped out of the bedroom in a shirt and his underwear, heading for the toilet, he saw her reach up to the coffee can and take out some cash for the supplies. If she noticed that the cash inside had been rearranged, nothing showed on her face. Kevin slipped into the bathroom to take care of his business, and then got dressed–it was his day off, and so he figured he would probably be going with them to the general store, helping to wrangle the three boys for Michelle as they got them all ready for another year of school.
It surprised him, how he wasn’t disappointed. How he’d gone from packing up and planning to leave all of this behind not three hours ago, and now he was resigned to a day spent at the store with his family. To a life spent with them. He wondered what had happened with Steve. Maybe he’d gotten cold feet. Maybe he’d…been found out. He thought about the bag under the sink, wondered if he’d have a chance to unpack it before they left for the store. Beyond the bag, the only evidence he’d thought about leaving was in his head–and that, at least, he hoped was safe. He sat down for breakfast, being his usual grouchy self, but the last month had seen him continue to soften towards his boys. He could look them in the eyes, he could touch them without that sense of revulsion that had chased him at first. Things were getting better. They could keep getting better. Fuck Steve–he could sort out his own shit. Maybe he should just…make piece with this after all.
After breakfast, they got the boys ready, listening to them moan and whine, but now that dad was coming, they knew better than to put up much of a fuss–he had no problem bending any of his boys over for a few sharp whacks–even in public, if necessary–to keep them in line. They were about to leave, when a car pulled up outside, and Kevin froze. Steve, was his first thought. He’s here, now. He kept as calm as he could, thought about the bag under the sink, thought about the store, thought about the coffee can, about what he and Michelle had built here together. About what he wanted, still, despite everything. He opened the door and looked out, but it wasn’t Steve getting out of the patrol car–it was something worse. It was Mayor Derry.
It felt like all the color from his skin drained out of him. It felt like every little sin, outside his body and in his heart, was laid out in front of him, ready to be catalogued. He felt like a faggot–a memory came to him, some other person’s memory, men shouting at him, berating him, and looking at them, hating them, hating them all, wanting to be on that side, wanting to be better, wanting to be free, he told himself, but mostly feeling powerless and hating every moment of it. He stepped outside. Whatever sort of punishment was awaiting him, at least he could face it like a man–he’d sinned, he’d known the risks, but the mayor seemed…pleased, somehow, came up, and shook his hand. “Kevin! I really am sorry we haven’t had a chance to talk lately–I just feel awful about it, but when I heard the good news from Doc Ambrose, I just had to come over and give you my congratulations in person.”
It took a moment for Kevin to hear what he’d actually said, instead of what he’d expected to hear. “Oh, uh, well thanks, I guess. Ya didn’t have to come all the way out here to just…tell us that.”
The mayor didn’t respond, and just pushed on up the stairs and into the house, saying his congrats to Michelle as well, talking to his three boys with more warmth and genuine emotion than Kevin had ever managed to do himself, even after months of practice. It made him feel ever more alien somehow–even more worthless. This was it then. He really wasn’t necessary anymore. So what now? Would he kill him? Probably–that would be easiest. Maybe he and Steve could share a ditch on the road to the highway. Just…two faggots, rotting away where no one would even care, not around here.
“Now now, it’s nothing serious, I promise. We just need to have a little heart to heart is all. I’ll have your man back to you, not a scratch on him,” the mayor was saying. Michelle and the boys were ushered out of the home and to their car by the mayor, who sent them on their way to the store, leaving Kevin still standing there, feeling like a fool. Of course he knew. Of course. There had been no way to avoid this reckoning. Of course he couldn’t have just gone to the store. Of course he’d missed his chance. There was a line, there had always been a line, and no matter what he did, he was on the wrong damn side, every fucking time.
The mayor waved as they drove off. Kevin did too, but weakly, already certain he would never see them again. Michelle looked grim and resolute. Like she too, had written him off already. The only person smiling was the mayor. “Now, why don’t we go inside, have a chat, eh? There’s town business to discuss.”
“If you’re going to kill me, just…fucking do it. I don’t care.”
The mayor laughed. An uproar, really, like Kevin had just told some fabulous joke, and didn’t even know it. “Kill you! Now what a supreme waste that would be. I’ve been called many things, young man. Perverse. A degenerate. A fascist. But wasteful! No, no one would ever consider me that. Now let’s go inside. We’ll have some coffee.”
So, like everything was normal, they went inside. The pot was still half full, Kevin poured two cups, black, and handed one to the mayor, who set it down and ignored it entirely, while Kevin sipped his own. “Where’s Steve?”
“Steve is gone,” the mayor said.
“He…he really left?”
“This isn’t a prison, Kevin. Anyone can leave if they really want to. I know this town isn’t for everyone, but I like to think there can be a place for anyone willing to make a go at it. Some people, they just aren’t cut out for it. I can’t get it right every time. Sometimes, I get it real dang wrong–and for that, I’m sorry.”
Kevin wasn’t sure if he should ask more about Steve or not. It felt like a trap, but he was already convinced that the mayor knew everything, even knew about the bag under the sink. So he nodded, and drank some more coffee.
“I mean that, I’m sorry. For what I did you to. I didn’t understand you–either of you. I didn’t take my time, I was too rushed. I was worried you’d spook, take off down the highway before you ever gave it a chance, before you really understood how much this town needs young men like you. Now Steve–I can’t do anything for Steve, but you–I think we can try again, and do better this time, if you’ll let me.”
Kevin just stared at him, unsure of what he meant, exactly.
“Look–you know, that I know, everything,” the mayor said, one hand sweeping towards the sink for emphasis. “This is my town, after all! I know every little thing that happens in it, and around it. But just because I’m omniscient, doesn’t mean that I’m going to stick my nose into every little thing, wag my finger at you if you toe over a line. I mean, can you imagine how much work that would be? I have important things to do too! But sometimes, that means things go a bit too far. They went too far with Steve–I’m sorry for that too. Him putting all that pressure on you, trying to make you choose just because he shat the bed, so to speak. It wasn’t fair to you at all–but then, none of this has been, really.”
“No… no fucking shit, it hasn’t,” Kevin said, grabbed his cigarettes off the table, and lit one for himself, hoping that might calm his shaking hands a bit. “I don’t fucking get it. I don’t understand any of this. If you’re fucking sorry…” He took a long draw blew smoke out his nose in two plumes, “Explain it. Who we were. What we did to deserve this. What I did to deserve this. Why you fucking did it. You owe me that much.”
The mayor shrugged, like how much he personally owed could be contested, but he relented. Derry gave an honest retelling. Who they’d been–Steve, the young gay from the country, running away to find a version of himself he could live with. Kevin, the suburban gay, good upstanding liberal, approriately disgusted at the backwater ways of the rural towns Steve was subjecting him to. Derry told him that the town needed them and their energy more than whatever they’d been wasting it on. So Derry had acted–rashly perhaps, off the limited knowledge he’d gathered from a quick look. He’d given them both what he thought they’d wanted–and what they’d needed, and for Kevin, that meant this.
“I looked at this kid you’d been, this lispy, brash, suburban, snotty, kid, and I gotta admit, I kind of hated you. I hated you, because you looked at this town like it was trash, like everything I’d been doing, all the work I’d done here–that we’d all done here–building it up from nothing, was just garbage. Like we might as well all die, aside from the few worthy ones chosen by you who oughta wise up and just head for the cities, so they could be properly assimilated into good little liberals like you. So…perhaps I over reacted. If you were going to believe that a place like this oughta make you miserable, then I was going to make you miserable. I was going to turn you into the trash you hated–the trash you thought deserved to be here, because then you wouldn’t run. Because deep inside you, you’d still think you deserved it. But I was wrong. Boy, was I wrong about both of you–looking back, I just feel like a real idiot, you know? You people, you humans, never fucking stop with the surprises. That’s why you’re so interesting, you know?”
Given that summary of his one time self, a self he could barely remember, Kevin had to admit he didn’t much like him either–but he had a feeling that the mayor had a finger on the scales of judgement for a reason. He supposed it softened the blow, a bit. “You said you got it wrong. How?”
“Because you changed, man. You grew into it. You accepted it, eventually, and when you did, I gotta admit, I was damn surprised. I had it all planned out, you see. Have you get Michelle pregnant again over a couple of years, wear you down, really…cement you in here, then she leaves you for Ron. You stay here, fucking other women, sowing your seeds, working for the man who stole your wife the whole time, ending up as a washed up drunk without a trace of self-respect–it ain’t a happy ending, but I thought it was one you would accept, given your assumptions. But you didn’t do that. You pushed back, and it was all because of Steve. See, this is where my hands off approach really shines. I tried to keep you two away from each other. I knew that if you met early on, there was a damn good chance of you two falling into old habits. I almost stepped in after that first time. I would have, probably, if not for what had happened at the garage–you know, the real second time, in the bathroom. You decided he was different from you.” The mayor drew an imaginary line down the middle of the air. “You, over here, were a man. Him, over here, a faggot. Artful, really. And then I realized what I had gotten wrong about you–you needed that line, and you needed to be on the right side of it.”
“No, that ain’t it at all. You don’t get it.”
“No, see–you don’t get it! That’s what I missed! It was so deep inside you, that you didn’t even see it–and so I didn’t see it either. I gave you want you thought we deserved here, but I didn’t bother trying to sort out what you wanted–you want a line, but a line you control. A line that gives you power. Back in the city, you can use the right words, say the right things, look the right kind of way, and you’re in. If you don’t–well, maybe you’ll pity them, like you pitied Steve–that old Steve–or maybe you’ll abuse them, like a faggot, like the county fucks you hated so much. It doesn’t matter to you, not really. We’re so similar, really. We always hate the things that remind us most of ourselves, I think, but we don’t have to be enemies anymore, Kevin. I can give you that line. I can give you that and so much more.”
The mayor stood up, and offered him a hand. “Come on, let’s take a ride. I’ll show you. We can get it right this time. I know, I fucked up. Trusting me would be hard. So if you want, take that bag there, and go. Ride off. He’s heading east, you can catch him. I told him I’d let him go, let each of you go, but you’d have to make the choice on your own. If you’re worried about Michelle, I’ll do right by her, I swear. Ron will make her happy, treat your boys well. This isn’t a prison, and I might be the closest thing to a god you’ll ever meet–but I’d rather be your friend.”
Could he trust him? Did he really have a choice? He looked at the sink, thought about the bag under there. Thought about the years on the road, with and without Michelle–though he realized, as he did, that it was a lie. A lie designed to keep him here–but the mayor had just said…it hadn’t worked, hadn’t he? After all, he’d loved it. Being on the road, being free, but fuck, if there hadn’t been some nights, sleeping in a goddamn ditch, when he all he’d wanted was just a place to call home. A small place, a family. Someone to love. Was that really such a bad thing, after all? Hadn’t he just a few minutes ago, decided to stay, that it couldn’t be all that bad? That it might be something he wanted? So he took the mayor’s hand, and allowed him to pull him up.
“Let’s go for a ride–my car though, I hate motorcycles. Unnatural things.”
Kevin followed him out to the car, and climbed in the passenger seat, and together, at a leisurely pace, like the mayor had all the time in the world, they drove into town. Along the way, the mayor would slow down and wave to anyone he passed, greeting them by name, asking about their lives as though he didn’t already know everything about them. Loving the children most of all–the treasures. The future. Kevin mostly just sat, and watched, wondering where they could possibly be going, until they pulled into the parking lot of the sheriff’s department. “I…I don’t understand, what are we doing here?”
“Come on in–you’ll understand soon enough.”
“I said, come in, Kevin.”
It was friendly, but Kevin felt the compulsion as a nudge, knowing it could become something stronger at any moment. So Kevin got out, and followed the mayor into the building. Marcy was at the secretary desk, filing her nails, and the mayor spent a couple minutes chatting with her, making sure her baby was doing well, that the office was surviving for the moment. Kevin…just wanted to run. Something was wrong with this, he had made the wrong choice, he was sure of it now.
When the mayor finished his chat, he went behind the desk, Kevin still following him, and they made their way to the sheriff’s private office–which to Kevin’s surprise, had been cleared out. In fact, he was puzzled to realize that he was no longer sure who the sheriff was in town…but the town had to have a sheriff, didn’t it?
“Have a seat, Kevin.”
Kevin headed for one of the seats in front of the sheriff’s desk, but the mayor made a little sound, and he felt a pull, back around the desk, and he settled in the sheriff’s chair, looking out.
“There, isn’t that better? Yes–I think this is going to work out just fine. Perfect. I might not always get it right the first time, but the second–oh, I rarely miss twice.”
“I don’t understand, I can’t be the sheriff, that doesn’t make any sense!”
“Doesn’t in though?” Derry said–and from one moment to the next, he was no longer in front of the desk, but behind his chair, one hand on each of Kevin’s shoulders. “I think it makes all the sense in the world.”
The world came apart then. His world, came apart, rather. Some things remained–Michelle remained. He could recall his days as a biker still. He had been that rebel on the wrong side of the law–but he’d grown tired of it. Disillusioned. Too many thieves, rapists, murderers. He’d been a vigilante. He felt something growing inside him, a sense of justice that felt so firm that it was no longer a line–it was a wall, running right down the middle of the world.
On one side, there was him. There was Derry. There was the town. There was family, and god, and justice, and peace. And on the other…degeneracy. Perversion. Filthy cities and wild gangs, and the enemies of civilization itself. As hard as he tried to resist it–he realized that the foundation of it ran deeper–so much deeper than anything he had felt before. It drove all the way down to the core of his being, so deep he knew that nothing would be able to uproot it, no matter how strong the winds of injustice blew against him–and that felt damn good. He groaned, shuddered, and the mayor’s hands loosened slightly. “Marcy, be a doll and pay us a visit, would you?”
Kevin looked up, unsure of himself, unsure of who he was, exactly. Marcy came in–he knew her, didn’t he? Better…better than he did, in that moment?
“Oh, I’m so glad you found someone–I was getting worried. He looks…rough…” she said, and tittered a bit. “I kind of like it. Nicer than the last one.”
“I have a feeling he’ll do great–it’s in his bones. Do him a good favor though–I know you’re with child and all, and it ain’t really proper, but–”
“Oh don’t worry about me, mayor, I know the drill.”
“There’s a good girl–I knew you’d understand.”
Kevin tried to push himself up, tried to get an explanation, but the mayor had already slipped out the door, and Marcy closed it behind him. “Now now, sheriff, perks of the job and all that. You sit right back down there, and let me help you get settled in.”
She was on him then, his pants open, his rock hard cock in her mouth. He didn’t protest much–it felt too good. He…he deserved this. He was the only thing standing between this town and chaos after all–he deserved to be treated well. When Marcy finished, and he gave her a kiss, she slipped off and left him to his office–which he saw was no longer sparce, but full of all sorts of memorabilia. Photos of him and the mayor at newly opened establishments. His sons’ little league trophies on a shelf by the window, and even a couple of pictures from his days on the road–to keep him humble. To remind him, perhaps, that he could always go back. There was a mirror as well, and he spent a long time looking at himself, trying to adjust to what he was seeing. Not older, so much. Maybe a year or two. His long, greasy hair was reduced to a high and tight. Beard now cut short, close against his face, no longer something he could hide behind. Hands shaking still, he found his way to the humidor, clipped a cigar, and sucked it down, hungry for something familiar, something he could cling to–but he couldn’t stay here. He could get to work tomorrow, he supposed. He left the station, trying not to think to hard about the wink Marcy threw him, climbed in his patrol car and headed for home.
But home was not where it was. It was in the nice part of town now, on the right side of the tracks, on the right side of the line. With the respectable, good people of the town, where he belonged. He could feel it still seeping into him, coloring everything, judging everything he passed with an iron clad sense of black and white which was so comforting, it took so much to resist it. They were there, home from the store, his clean, shining boys displaying there new purchases for his approval, and god, if he wasn’t so happy in that moment. Giddy. And the look on Michelle’s face, with her new dress she could have never afforded before–she was proud of him. Unexpectedly proud of him. Surprised to discover, herself, that there was a place for him here after all.
“It just seems like a goddamn tourist trap to me. I mean, we’re callin’ this shithole some fucking caves? More like a divot in the damn ground. Calling it, ‘world’s largest golf divot’ would be more fuckin’ accurate than this.”
That was Charley, always complaining. Hard worker–Steve could admire that–but god could the fucker run his mouth about just any little old thing in the whole world. He didn’t know how fucking good they had it around here–half the people in the town, it seemed like, just didn’t fucking get it at all–how bad it was, everywhere else.
Steve wiped his forehead. Winter had come and gone, Spring was here again, all sun and wildflowers and storms, and fuck, he loved every minute of it around here, it was so damn fresh. Just…filled him with life, even if he ached like an old fuck every day. He thanked his lucky stars he was here now, not stuck in some shitty fucking slumlord’s building on some claustrophobic street with a cunt of a mother. He had the open sky here. Hard work. A Pa who loved him more than anything else in the world. He’d escaped–it was still a marvel to him, to this very day, that he’d gotten out, and he knew he would never take it for granted, not like Charley. Steve tuned Charley out–still grumbling and moaning–and got back to work, constructing the foundation of what would be Derryville’s first tourist attraction–the Derry Caverns.
Alright, cavern, really. Singular. A guy out hunting this winter had accidentally fallen in through the top, broken his leg, but it turned out alright. And now, the mayor was all excited–wanted a brand new facility, tour guides, souvenirs, a billboard on the highway, all sorts of shit. Really put Derryville on the map, he said. Probably be done in time to open next year–but Steve was more hopeful–hoped he could push the crew to get it done over summer–at least get it open and ready for people to tour. It was possible, he could feel it thrumming in the spring air, like youth on the wind. The town, after all, had seen stranger miracles than that.
It was while he was working that a car rolled up, and out climbed the mayor from the driver’s seat, and with him, the sheriff as well. It was the first time Kevin had been out to survey the area where the new attraction would be–he’d mentioned his curiosity to the mayor more than once, but he’d been redirected each time. He had a feeling that Derry hadn’t wanted him to come out here yet–but he knew better than to try and ask him why. After the events of last summer, he knew that some things were better left unknown.
“Ain’t it a beauty?” the mayor said. Just think–finally, we can start bringing people in, really…really put some life into this town, you know?”
Kevin knew exactly what the mayor meant, and nodded along. “It looks like construction is going well.”
“I want it open by this summer, Kevin–I have…good feelings, I’m just…I can feel it, I can’t wait.”
“Well…how can I help, sir?”
“I think I need your deputies to step up your patrols, set up some more speed traps for the next month. Spring Break is coming up, and I bet, if we’re careful, we can snag a few, bring them back into town. Like you did with those two guys a couple of months ago.”
It hadn’t been a speed trap, but Kevin understood what he meant. A couple young guys had gotten stuck out on the highway, their car had broken down. The closest tow truck had been Ron’s–and they’d called him up, looking for help. Kevin had gone out to give them a hand as well. But once they’d gotten here, spent a few nights staying with the Emerson’s, and their two daughters–well, he could see Charley down there working on the site right now. Jim would be in the kitchen at the restaurant–he usually worked the day shift. Kevin had had Jim and his wife Emily over, since he worked with Michelle–both of them were good people. Good additions to the town. Kevin…knew he should feel a bit bad about it, what the mayor did, but better they were here, on the right side of things. Better than who knew what out there, in the world, where anything could happen. It was safe here. Kevin made sure of that at least. “How…many do you need?”
“Four or five, if you can manage it. Younger the better, you know? I could…use what I have, but I’d rather spread it around. Besides, the bigger we get, the better. Less I need to take from everyone.”
“It’s going to be great, you know. Families coming here. It’s going to be so good for the town.”
“I know, sir.”
Kevin was looking at the man working with Charley. Steven–Guthrie’s boy. Been here longer than he had, built this town into what it was today some said, but the name was enough to make him think of someone else, naturally. He thought about Steve too often for his taste–he couldn’t help it some days. He hoped he was happy, wherever he was, and mostly hoped he never tried to come back. This wasn’t the place for him–he understood that now. To think, they had tried to be together! It seemed so silly now, so frivolous. A waste. And Derryville was not a place where you wasted anything–not a person, and certainly not an opportunity like this.
The sheriff and the mayor chatted about a few other things, some of the families around town, a few guys who were…a bit dissatisfied, who might need a reminder of what they ought to appreciate about Derryville. Kevin’s cock stirred at the thought, though it humiliated him too, knowing it. Thinking about that last jail cell, how the mayor had converted it into a dungeon. About Kevin’s leather uniform hanging there, about how…how with the mayor’s permission, Kevin could take men there. Men who needed a reminder of which side of the line they were on. No one knew about that, of course. The men who visited him there never spoke a word–how could they?–but they remembered the lessons well, and there were only a few who needed regular visits with the sheriff, to keep them set straight.
The mayor, after all, had learned his share of lessons too, about people. About Steve, and Kevin, and Guthrie. That the baser instincts of men and women, that what they want more than anything, can’t always be controlled. Now, all three of them couldn’t be happier, and they all meshed together in the town like they’d always been here. Giving Steve a chance to wrap his lips around his daddy’s cock day and night had done wonders for his attitude and work ethic. It was a shame Guthrie’s health was beginning to fail him, the mayor would have to come up with a replacement for him, he was sure. Kevin had needed an outlet too, something the mayor had been thinking about, a way to keep his own desires in check. So far, the dungeon in the jail had worked like a charm–both on Kevin, and on a few of the troublesome men who needed his guidance.
Their business concluded, the sheriff and the mayor got back in the car and drove off. Steve never even noticed that they’d been there–he was too focused on his work, and too focused on ignoring Charley. Too busy thinking about his dad again, as he did often enough. How much he loved him. It had been a hard winter for Guthrie, had a bad bout with pneumonia, and spent most of his days in bed now–but Steve could still take good care of him. The mayor had chatted with him, about what might happen if his dad passed away, that it might be sooner than anyone wanted–but the mayor promised him that he’d be taken care of. Maybe not by his daddy, but his needs would always be met.
That afternoon, Kevin met with the deputies and gave them the orders from the mayor. Set up speed traps around the outskirts of the town, even out on the highway, if they thought they could get away with it. Escalate the encounters, arrest them, bring them home. The sheriff and the mayor would sort through the ones that would make good citizens, and deal with the rest. With that taken care of, and nothing else to worry about in the office, Kevin decided to head home a bit early. His sons had been pestering him for some baseball practice lately, and Kevin did love his time with his boys–but nothing was quite as precious to him as Mary Michelle Aster–his new daughter born just a few months ago.
He rolled through town, slowly, Waving as he went to the people he passed, a few men not even daring to look in his direction, too ashamed of what they’d done and what they’d enjoyed, to dare face him in broad daylight. They knew which side they were on–and they also knew the sheriff could put them back over, whenever he, or the mayor, wanted. As he drove out of the main strip of town he passed by some woods–and as he did, he saw a couple of figures dart into the forest there–it was hard to know for certain. Curious, he pulled his patrol car over to the side of the road, rolled down the window, and listened. There was the sound of footsteps crashing through the underbrush. A couple of voices, young men, and one of them he recognized. It was one of his boys–his oldest one, Michael.
It was odd, thinking about it now, how they’d grown up so quickly. He could remember them being young, back before he’d been sheriff, but after that, just as he’d gotten older…so had they, though a bit unevenly. Over the winter, they’d grown up in spurts and without warning, separating more in age–the youngest now 13, the next 16, and Michael, the oldest, was graduating high school this year, turning 19 in a few months. He’d been…a bit of a troublemaker, as of late. Of course, Kevin could tolerate a little rebellion–hell, he’d been a rebel biker for long enough he couldn’t blame his sons for feeling the drive…but he was worried, all the same. Michael was a man now, but that didn’t mean he could just do whatever he wanted–not in Derryville. What troubled him more, perhaps, was the other voice–one he didn’t recognize as readily, but which was definitely male.
He was torn. He wasn’t the mayor. He didn’t need to know everything that was going on in his son’s life…but he was worried. He had a right to be worried, and that line in him…he thought about what would happen, if the mayor decided Michael needed a turn in the dungeon. What that might do to him, to them both. So he popped open the door, quietly as he could, and followed the game trail the two boys had taken into the woods, meandering slowly, quietly, telling himself it was just…reconnaissance. Making sure that everything in the neighborhood was alright, and on the level.
Kevin walked slow enough that the voices got a bit quieter for a while, but never disappeared. About a mile into the woods, sloping down gently towards a ravine and a stream he knew ran through here, the voices started getting louder–along with the sound of the water running. The stream was loud enough to keep him from hearing what they were saying, and Kevin moved slower now, not wanting to give himself away as he came to the edge of the ravine and peered down to where the two young men were, sitting on a log, shoes off, feet in the water, chatting. Now he could see the other young man–someone he recognized too. It was Carl, a good friend of Michael’s from school, Christine’s son, if he remembered right. A good woman, married to Ron, the mechanic. Treated her and the kids well, though they were from another marriage…who exactly, he couldn’t recall. So many people to keep track of, it made his head spin at times.
But Kevin saw more. Kevin…could feel it, could feel a longing well up inside him at the sight of them. The way Michael would glance over at Carl, catch his eye for a moment, look away and blush. Carl made a gesture with his hand, but when it came down again, it landed on top of Michael’s–so gently that the tiniest flinch from his boy would send it flying off, but it settled there, firmer now. Michael scooted closer on the log, their thighs touching now. Kevin was frozen. He knew what this meant, he knew exactly what he was looking at. It was dangerous, and it was wrong, and…and he couldn’t bring himself to stop it. For the first time, he felt that solid line inside him waver and blur–he watched as Michael leaned closer and landed a kiss on Carl’s cheek–Carl cuping Michael’s chin and kissing him firmly on the lips, his other hand sliding down Michael’s thigh, towards his cock, Michael shivering in the cool Spring shade, knuckles white and gripping Carl’s shirt.
Kevin fled before he could see anything else. It was too raw. Something inside him, trapped in a cage he hadn’t even known was there, was shaking and screaming and howling like some tortured animal. It could have been him. It could have been him, this whole time, he could have been gone, he could have been himself, and now he was this, he was this man, he was bringing people here, trapping them here, and he knew he had to, he knew it, but oh god, it ached! It ached. He got to his car, sobbing, thinking about Steve, out there somewhere, alive. Living. Living, and not…here. Not with him, and why would he ever want to be with him, with any possible version of himself? He felt corrupted, utterly. For a moment, he considered driving away, not stopping, now while he still could have a chance, but where would he go? The mayor knew he belonged here. He’d always belonged here, from the moment they’d crossed the border. He had been a hypocrite then, and he was a co-conspirator now. He wiped his eyes, turned around, and headed for town again–he needed a drink.
He hadn’t had a drink in the tavern for ages–not as this self once. But the people in here knew him, knew both of him–some knew all three even–and while he was regarded as a surprise guest, he was welcomed by most of them. Some of the men who could not look at him were here though. This was where they all gathered, those men who couldn’t fit the mold just right, who were compressed too much, who couldn’t lose everything of themselves to the mayor and his vision and his future. He’d hoped he wouldn’t have to come back here, but he’d been fooling himself, as always. Today, he didn’t sit at the bar, but at a table alone. Candy brought him what had been his usual, and he drank it without complaint.
He was alone here too. The conversation around the bar was distant, and seemed so empty. The sports on the screen couldn’t hold his interest. He felt himself getting drunker and drunker, but the screaming in his chest was only getting louder and louder still. What could feed it? What could possibly console it, and settle it back down? He tried to eat, but that was a mistake–not twenty minutes later he was in the bathroom, vomiting into the toilet everything he had taken in that evening, and he slumped down next to the toilet, numb–and even that was a relief of sorts.
The door to the restroom opened, and before Kevin could get to his feet and save himself a bit of his dignity, a man came in front of the toilet and froze, looking down at him there. It was Paul. Paul had a bad habit of beating his wife–and his kids. Had some real anger issues. Most of it directed at the town, but he knew there was nothing he could do to escape it, so he turned it on the things he could control. He was a regular down in the dungeon. When the mayor could tell he was reaching a breaking point, Kevin would step in, take him down there, and give him a good beating and a fuck. Kevin was kind about it. He didn’t want ot punish him–it was just a release for them both, and even Paul knew it for what it was, saving him from his darker self. He went willingly, but still couldn’t grapple with the necessity of it. That something inside him craved it.
Paul had never seen Kevin like this, though. Tear streaked. Vomit in his beard. Hollow eyed. He didn’t know what to do–it felt like he had stumbled into something private, a man at his lowest, and he flinched. He tried to leave, but before he could, Kevin scrambled after him, grabbed his hand (thought about the hands on the log, how gentle they had laid there, like leaves, feathers, kisses, wishes, dreams) and tugged Paul back to him. “Don’t go. Please don’t, I…I don’t want to be alone anymore.”
Kevin couldn’t get anything else out, but he tugged on Paul’s belt, pulled open his pants, the other man unable to be sure this was really happening. Kevin took his cock in his mouth with a sigh (so gentle a kiss they’d shared there, by the stream–had they gotten this far? Had they? Why hadn’t he stayed, why hadn’t he watched, why hadn’t he shouted and screamed and celebrated them in that moment, why had he run away like a coward? Why was he so afraid of knowing?) and sucked hard, desperately, eager for any kind of closeness, to any kind of man who might understand, who might help him find his way upright again. Paul let him do it, one hand curling around the back of Kevin’s head so gently, came after a few minutes, and then left. Kevin swallowed, stood up, and cleaned off his face as best he could. He’d had enough–it was time to go home.
Back out into the real world, of a kind. He’d missed dinner. Michelle saw the look on his face, and wondered what must have happened to him, but knew better than to ask. The boys were disappointed he hadn’t been home to help them practice, but he’d told them that some work had come up that he couldn’t avoid. It sounded like the lie it was, but no one challenged it. Michelle tried to pull him to bed with her, after the boys went down, but he pulled away, and went out on the deck with a cigar instead, looked east, and just wept for a while.
The voice surprised him, and Kevin quickly wiped his eyes and turned around, to see Michael standing in his pajamas by the back door of the house. “Yeah–Yeah, just having a smoke is all. What are you doing up?”
“Couldn’t sleep,” Michael said, and stepped out onto the deck, and came up next to his dad at the railing, looking at him smoke his cigar. “Can…I try one of those? I am almost eighteen now.”
Kevin chuckled. “It won’t help you sleep.”
“Come on dad.”
“Fine–but just suck some of the smoke, ok? Hold it in your mouth…and taste it. You shouldn’t inhale these–it’ll have you puking faster than a punch to the gut.” He handed his son the cigar, and Michael studied it, before he took a gentle suck on the end, held his breath for a moment, and then coughed and gagged.
“Blech, why would you smoke that?” Michael said, and handed it back to his father.
“Something my dad used to do, I guess. Being an adult…you get used to things that would have disgusted you where you were younger.”
“I think I’ll pass on the cigars.”
“Well, don’t tell your mother in any case, she’ll rip my ear off.”
They stood in silence, looking out at the stars. There was no moon yet, and everything was bright as could be. Kevin put his arm around his boy’s shoulders, and pulled him a bit closer to him. “I love you–you know that right?”
“Yeah dad, I…I know.”
“I love you no matter what. I know you’re a man now, and you’ll be looking for a job soon, and finding some pretty…you know, moving out on your own, finding your own way. But…But be careful, is all. This town has a nice face, but…it can be real ugly too, you know? I just want you to be happy, is all, fuck, I’m just blabbering now.”
“I love you too, dad,” Michael said, and leaned on his shoulder, and for a moment, Kevin felt something a lifetime away, a boy leaning on his shoulder in a car, driving across the country. Driving east. But it was just his son–that other boy, both of those boys, were long gone now.
“Dad…I…I mean…no, it’s nothing, don’t worry about it.”
“Nothing. Just…silly stuff. Kid stuff. I’m going to go to bed, alright? You should too, soon.”
“You sound so much like your mom sometimes.”
Michael accepted a kiss on the cheek from his father, and then went back inside, and headed up to his room. He knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep for a while yet, not…after today. He could still feel the cool stream on his feet, Carl’s breath on his neck…
He got to his bedroom, shut the door, his cock already a bit hard again, thinking about it, and thinking about what Carl had shown him–and given him. He found his flashlight, and pulled out the folded up thing–the map. There, traced on it, was a red line, starting where they were, in Derryville–not even on the map itself, and it wound out. Chicago. Philadelphia. New York. Washington DC. Atlanta. Nashville. Denver. Las Vegas. Los Angeles. San Francisco. Seattle. So many cities. Millions of people. Hundreds of miles. He’d wanted to tell his father, but what would he say? No–the plan was better. After graduation, just…go. They’d…come back eventually. But there had to be more than this. There had to be. He could already feel the wind in his hair, see Carl in the seat next to him as they ride out into the east. In his heart, he was already there. Maybe, he always had been. He was his father’s son, after all.