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Original Fiction
Written by Juxian Tang (juxiantang@hotmail.com)


DEAD MAN


Part 2 of 3

It was barely ten o'clock when I was back in the downtown. I didn't feel sluggish, even though I hardly slept for an hour before the dawn came. Well, if I was right, today it was going to be over.

I stood in front of the dark bulk of St. Peter's church. The service was still going and I could hear tender voices of singing boys. My, there was time when I was in the church choir, too. My mother was so proud with me. She was sure I would be an altar boy as soon as I was eight - and I would be the best altar boy in the world, never mind! Too bad that she got ill and my father used to shove his dick up to my ass to get his rocks off.

Since then I don't remember if I ever walked inside the church at all. I felt tentative now - and ashamed, too, that I ignored it for so long. When I didn't need anything, I recalled God's name only for swearing - and when I got into real troubles, I ran for help, right? But I didn't know what else to do.

The heavy door opened at last and I saw a couple of dozens people coming out. Then I sighed and entered. Well, I don't know what I would do if I saw nobody there. But in fact, there was an elderly woman on her knees at one of the confessionals and I stood on some distance until she left. The priest, a young red-haired man, was going to leave the cabin when I walked up to him.

"Do you want to confess?"

I hesitated.

"Yes. Yes, I do."

I kneeled on the step and when he drove away the curtain, I said:

"I am to blame that two people died."

I wanted to say that I killed them - but I thought it would be too showy - even though quite right.

"How did it happen?" his voice was timid and pacifying.

"I brought the man I met at the disco to our place - and my lover killed him. And killed himself. I fucked with this man. I mean, I was in bed with him."

"Why did your lover do it?"

"Because he was out of his mind with misery. He loved me."

"Did he think that man to be the reason of everything?"

"I don't know. I just met him on that day - but El... my lover - maybe, he didn't know it."

"Why didn't he kill you?"

"He tried," I said. "He tried honestly. And now I see another dead who comes to me. I don't want him. He drives me mad. He... he comes there as if it is his place and sits there and makes things! I can't stand it. I am so tired. I just want some peace. I want to be alone!"

I spoke too loud. My heart was falling when I thought what the man could think about me. Gay, a murderer and a madman. But I needed him to help me! It was what I came for. I would do anything to convince him to help me.

"Well, enough," he stopped me and I saw how he got out of the confessional. My heart sank - he got angry, he was going to leave. But he looked straight at me instead. "Are you sure you came where you needed?"

"My mother..." I started. "There was a girl who lived next door from us. And when her grandmother died - she loved the girl very much - the girl started seeing her. Everybody thought she saw her in the dreams - but she said she was not asleep then. Her grandmother stood and waved for her to come. And soon after that the girl got terribly ill; she had such a fever that they had to put her into the tub with ice. And then my mother said it was her grandmother calling her with herself. She went to the church, took holy water and a crucifix - and the priest gave her a special prayer that drove evil ghosts away.

"And the girl recovered," I finished with fallen spirit. It was ridiculous. Something that seemed really bright to me at night now didn't stand any critique.

I really had to look like a madman for this priest. Coming to complain on the demons that chase me - or, maybe, on Furies on my own conscience - and asking for some magic words and holy water to drive them away. I breathed in before looking at his face.

He did smile - but without mockery.

"Some people do believe in such things. The Church doesn't approve it. But well. I'll give you the prayer you speak about. I hope you'll feel better with it. I mean, the main thing is if you believe in it yourself."

Half an hour later I left the church with the phial of holy water, rosaries and a bit of paper with me. I was almost euphoric - because I got what I wanted - and because Father Desmond was so kind to me. I was on my way back when I saw the board of Municipal Library. Well, I knew it was there, of course - I even used to go there when I studied at the college - but now it made me brake the car suddenly.

Dennis told he read about it in the newspapers. I could do it, too. I didn't know why I needed it - perhaps I hoped I would recall that I had already seen it - or, on the contrary, I would see that everything was wrong and the man I saw had nothing to do with the man who got killed in "Sunny II" last April. Only there was little hope to it, I felt.

I found it. At first the little notes telling about Ted Akerman, 32 years old, missing. And then, last October, his body got up. I looked at the photo - and I didn't feel surprised at all when the same mellow beautiful brown eyes looked at me from it. He smiled to the camera. He had a careful smile, like very shy people sometimes have, as if he was not sure he made it right.

He was a doctor at the local hospital. He was on vacations when he disappeared, that's why nobody worried about him for several days. Never was married. His relatives were so distant that they didn't answer when they were tried to contact. And his body lay in the forest through all the summer, heaped carelessly with leaves and roots, with the corpse of his Siamese cat on his chest.

The police was vague about it. Too much time passed to say something - and it was quite a hot wet summer. They just said he had twenty-seven bones broken while he was still alive. His lungs were badly distended, even though it was not possible to find traces of water in them any more. His fingernails and toenails were gone. His jaw was broken. And he was castrated.

Ted Akerman's body was found nine days before Elmor shot at me. And I knew pretty well I didn't read about it then.

I stayed at the library for the whole day. I didn't even notice how the time passed so quickly. I read through one newspaper after another, trying to find something, some clue. But it was hopeless. I couldn't see even an implausible version there of who killed him and why he got killed.

And I was pretty sure the name Con Baxter was never mentioned.

I drove home in the darkness and Ted's lovely soft-eyed face was in front of my eyes. I put the car to the garage and entered the cottage. The phial with holy water was clasped in my hand. I was ready to hear the construction turning - but it was not. The silence was complete.

As if he knows I have come to drive him away, I thought suddenly. He hides himself in hope that I will forget about him or won't notice him. Yes, that was what I felt. The presence was there - and the silence was the silence of a scared cornered being. I fell into the armchair and put the phial on my lap. I faced the armchair where I saw him last night - sitting and groping his hand over his lap. Now I will do it and he will never bother me again.

And then suddenly I understood something. His hand! The one that floated in the air. It was the cat he groped for. He used to sit like that, in the armchair - as I liked to sit myself - and his cat always came and sat on his lap and he stroked it. His hand moved instinctively now. Only the cat was not there any more. They were buried in the forest together - but separated from each other in the world of spirits. The cat looked for him every night and mewed in despair because it thought he left it.

I gasped. Sorrow flooded me with a huge wave. I nearly couldn't breath with it. He was so soft - Ted - I knew it, he looked soft and innocent - and he was like that - and he was killed. Killed so awfully - and was tortured before it as it is impossible for a human being to imagine. It was not the newspapers that told me about it - it was my dreams where I was him.

And now he came back to the place where he lived and used to think his own - and where he met his death - and I wanted to kick him out of there.

Tears filled my eyes. I didn't cry since Elmor shot at me and sometimes I thought I never would. But now, when I thought about Ted Akerman, I felt how misery overwhelmed me. Who I was to drive him away? Holy water, magic words - as if I was prepared to fight a voodoo spirit! Was he an evil one - that I wanted to intimidate him and kick him out? He was innocent - and I wanted to be so cruel to him.

My heart was clenching so much that it was physically painful. I hardly hear how the glass in the bookshelves started ringing suddenly, louder and louder, as if there was an unnoticed earthquake shaking the house. I drove my nails into my palms so that this pain could help me to fight the pain burning my mind. Shame and remorse overflowed me.

And then I heard my own voice whispering:

"Ted! Ted!"

The spheres of the construction twisted with a swish sound in the air and I saw how the glass in the bookcases got dark and dim at once. I grabbed the phial with holy water and raised it:

"Ted, look! I won't do it! I don't need it! I don't want to make you go. It is your house, too. Please stay here - we can share it together."

I put the phial on the table and pushed it in the direction of the other armchair. Tears stopped misting my eyes because they ran in two flows on my cheeks now. And it was when I saw a thin white hand materializing in the air - bony fingers with very short pink nails - the hand first. It touched the phial lightly but without hesitation and pushed it back. The tiny movement that shifted it only for an inch on the smooth surface of the table. I looked up - and Ted was in the armchair, leaning back after he had bent to the table to move the parcel. His soft intelligent mouth curved and a sad smile parted his lips.

"Thank you," his low husky voice said somewhere in my head. "Thank you for letting me stay and for calling my name, Jesse."

What did I feel? I went mute. It's true - I called for him, I spoke to him - but didn't still a part of my mind believe that he was just my imagination, after all? How could it be that I heard him? Was he answering me? Can the ghosts do it? He didn't do it before - and I didn't ever expect it, really!

"I couldn't speak then," he said mildly as if reading my thoughts. "Not until you called for me. It's you who made it."

I swallowed. I couldn't find a word to say to him. That is, my mind was full of them - but it suddenly got void when I try to verbalize what I thought.

"Are you angry with me?" I squeezed out at last.

"No," his voice was so soft and beautiful - as nothing I had ever heard - and at the same time it was a human voice by all means - and somehow I knew that it was exactly the voice he spoke when he was alive. "Of course, I am not. How can I? You are so kind to me, Jesse."

"Will you stay?" I asked in a small voice - and I saw how he shook his head; not in denial but sorrowfully.

"I can't leave. I would love to, believe me. But there is no way for me to go. It is such relief that you agree for me to stay. You didn't change your mind, did you? You meant it, Jesse?"

I nodded. I was still frozen. My senses just returned to me little by little - and anyway, every time when I thought about it, it struck me as unbelievable. He spoke to me! The ghost. The man who was dead for the whole year. Without a medium, without a planchette and a pencil. Like a real man would speak!

Well, not exactly. His lips didn't move when I heard the words - and even if they did - I wouldn't see it. His figure in the armchair became very pale very soon - I could see just some dimness on this place. But his voice sounded clearly in my mind. And I still could feel him, of course.

"Why can't you leave?" I asked after a little while.

"I don't know," his tone was sad and amused at once. "Perhaps I didn't get in time when the light showed to me - and now it is too late? Only I didn't see any light at all."

"What did you see?" I couldn't help asking it. My own memories flooded me and I bit my lip to cope with myself. But a weird thing - at the same time somehow it made me reconcile myself with the fact that it was true - Ted was what he was and he was speaking to me.

"It was dark. Dark and cold. And wet - where they dumped my corpse in the forest. I was there. Not inside it - but around. I didn't know what to do, where to go. I stayed there - I don't know for how long."

For half a year, I thought, for the whole half a year.

"And then, Ted?"

"Yes," he whispered quietly. "Call my name. I get stronger when you do. Then they found me and buried me - and I thought I would be free then. But I just looked at my grave and nothing happened. And then I got here."

"Came here?"

"No, got. I felt I had to do something, to get somewhere - but I didn't think about my house... sorry, Jesse, yes, it was my house... and then in one moment I was here."

"For how long?"

"For months already."

I recalled something Dennis told me.

"And were you here when that married couple lived in "Sunny II"?"

"I was," he affirmed gently. "They didn't see me. Didn't feel me. Just lived here and that's all. I could hardly believe when I understood that you saw me, Jesse."

Suddenly he appeared again - less visible than for the first time - but I still could see his bright and warm dark eyes looking at me leniently and caringly.

"Why I?" I asked.

"I don't know," he said. "But you helped me to come out. Every time you knew that I was here I was getting stronger. You pulled me out, Jesse. Please bear with me now. I'll try to be so quiet that you won't notice me."

* * *

But it didn't come off like that, of course. How could I forget that besides me there was another man in the house - sometimes invisible but able to be anywhere - and answering as soon as I called for him? However, the truth was that I called very often - and that I couldn't help liking it. You can wonder - I moved to "Sunny II" to cut off the meetings with people - and now I found a weird sort of pleasure in sharing almost everything with the man I didn't know. And yet I couldn't give it up - I wanted to hear his low lovely voice saying my name - even more than wanted - with every day I felt I needed it more and more. I was fascinated with some things he said and loved other things. After a little while I could hardly believe there was time when I wanted to drive him away. How would I be without Ted?

He told me he was getting more power when I spoke his name - and whether it was true or not - I enjoyed doing it.

"I am around," he answered. "I am here, Jesse."

By day his voice was more distant - maybe, because even though "Sunny II" was the quietest possible place, still the sounds from the road reached it. But after dark I could hear him very clearly.

It was not often that I could see him. In fact, he appeared only for seconds now and then, a transparent figure, white skin and dark eyes. But there were other things that showed me his presence - and I started loving them instead of being scared of them. The construction rocking - he said he liked it because it was light enough for him to move. Dimness of glass and mirrors. And, of course, I felt him - as anyone can feel another man in the room even without seeing him.

"Are all souls like you?" I asked him once.

"I don't know," he said with a chuckle. "I think they aren't. It would be too bitter if they were. I didn't see them. Even at the cemetery. Sometimes it seemed to me that I saw - but it was wrong. Or they didn't want me to see them."

My heart ached when I thought that he was alone for all this time.

"I don't have entire knowledge," he continued. "I get to know some things - I don't know how - but not what I want sometimes."

"That's how you got to know that they were Baxter's Boys?"

"Yes," he whispered. "I didn't know it then... I just heard that they called him Con."

"These dreams - are they yours?" I asked trembling when I recalled utter horror and pain of them.

"Yes."

"Why did you send them to me?"

"I didn't want to. Jesse, I am sorry. It just happened. You know I wouldn't hurt you intentionally. I am sorry! Was it very bad?"

It was. But the thing was that he had to go through it in reality.

"And what about your cat?" I asked.

"Did you see him?" his voice faltered as it never did before.

"I hear him. He mews at night."

"I can't find him," he complained. "I call and call for him but he doesn't come. Maybe, he doesn't want to come back to me. They made me do an awful thing about him - he was dead by then - but what if he knows about it?"

I didn't ask what they made him do. I didn't ask a lot of other things, too. I just couldn't. I clenched my fists in pity and anger when I thought about Ted. They tortured and killed him - it still didn't put down in my mind - how they could do it - with him. How could they? How could anyone?

"Do you hate them?" I asked Ted - and when he answered, there was a deep sound of pain in his voice.

"Yes, I hate them. But not because of what they did to me. And not because of what they did to my cat. But because I died in fear and bitterness - and, maybe, it didn't let me see the light. And I have to stay here - I don't know for how long."

I wanted to tell him it made me happy that he had to stay but I didn't dare. I felt so sad and ashamed with my feeling. It was weird - I knew Ted for so little - but I grew so dependent on him. He was warm - and kind - I felt his accepting kindness every moment when he was with me - and I knew I couldn't do without it any more.

Dennis called and asked if I managed to get rid of the ghost. I didn't know if he was serious - or if it was a euphemism for describing my state of mind.

"Oh sure," I answered. I smiled looking at Ted's transparent silhouette in the armchair. It was Dennis who drove us together, after all.

I told Ted the things about myself - the ones I didn't tell anybody or told only one person in my life. It seemed I could tell him everything - and I knew Ted would take it just in the right way. I told him how I hated my mother for getting ill and leaving me alone. And how I was afraid to have a baby when my dad started fucking me. I told him how delighted I was when I realized for the first time that I could get money for what my father did to me for free.

I told him about Elmor.

"I loved Elmor so much," I said. "I was fifteen when we met; he picked me up. He was not like others - he really wanted it to be good for me - because he enjoyed when I felt good. From the very first night he cared for me. It was not just sex. We met, I think, ten times during the first two weeks. He told me after that he just wanted to meet me but he was afraid I would refuse if he asked me to simply meet. He was so... delicate about money. He thought I would think he wanted to get something for free.

"My life changed when he suggested it at last. And it was the best day in my life when he asked me if I wanted to live with him," I added. "Do you believe me?"

"Of course, I do," Ted said.

"He made me start going to school again," I said. "I finished it because he wanted it. Then he paid for my college. He told I would have a specialty like then. He was right. He knew what I needed. He did for me everything.

"You know - first three days when I moved to him, we spent in bed. It was how we celebrated it. Do you know - it turned me on madly when he shivered and closed his eyes if I touched him in a right manner. Even when we were together for years, I still could do it to him so easily.

"I loved his mouth," I said. "I loved his smell. I knew him so well - how he was by touch, what sounds he made, how he went rigid when cumming - I knew all about him the same well as I knew all about myself. How could I not love him or grow tired of him? It was the same as not loving myself, growing tired of myself."

I recalled suddenly one of the last times when we made sex - a week before his surgery. He was under the shower and I walked in the bath-room - he never locked the door from me. I didn't know if he saw or heard me - he was behind the curtain - just a shadow in the clouds of steaming water. I dropped my clothes on the floor and got there to him. He opened his arms and I got under the jets of water, feeling his body pressed to mine all along - chest, belly, crotch, knees.

Elmor was of my height and, maybe, twenty pounds heavier. His body was beautiful - smooth skin and firm muscles under it. His pubic hair and chest fur was getting grey - just a big darker than his hair. I thought it lovely - I loved everything about him. I loved to run my fingers over his chest. I raise my hand and pushed it between us finding one of his nipples. It was soft with hot water but when I started playing with it, it grew erect.

"I love your tits," I whispered in his ear and gnawed my teeth slightly in his earlobe. He shuddered - I knew it so well - his body became so tense with arousal going through it. I bit harder. "I want to have a piece of you," I chanted.

"Yes, Jesse," he murmured. "Yes, please!"

His hands lay on my ass-cheeks and squeezed them tightly. His fingers were in my crack, patting there, teasing all along from my backbone to my perineum, while his palms kneaded my buttocks. Our bottom bellies were driven into each other and our cocks were jammed together, hard and burning hot.

"You can do with me anything," Elmor said quietly and I barely heard him beyond the rustle of water. "Anything you want."

I bent down and closed my mouth on his right nipple. I felt his body rising involuntarily as I drove my teeth into it. His hands clasped around my ass very tautly, the fingers digging deep in my skin. I had the hot throbbing nub of his tit between my teeth and twisted my tongue on its tip while my fingers pinched and tugged his other nipple.

Elmor moaned softly with pain and pleasure as his two fingers stabbed firmly into my anus - which made me groan too, in my turn. He chuckled a little hearing it. I knew we both were seeping pre-cum - but we couldn't feel it under the streams of water. Arousal made me dizzy.

I sucked his nipples in turn almost cruelly, knowing that my teeth would certainly leave bruises there - and Elmor's fingers continued to fuck my ass, sliding out completely and then breaking in again so violently that it made me whimper. My anus clamped on his fingers as the spasms of excitement went through me. I was turned on so quickly and extremely that it was difficult for me to hold back from shooting right now.

I knew it was the same for Elmor - but it was what we liked - to prolong it as much as possible - and there was more to come, of course.

"Come on, Jesse," I heard him whispering. "Let's go to bed, okay?"

I nodded with his nipple still between my teeth and it made him shiver in pain. Oh his nipples were perfectly sore when I let them go; I knew he would feel them for a couple of days when putting on his clothes - but he told me he liked it - it reminded him about me even when he was at the office.

I felt I was missing his fingers in my ass when we got out of the tub and wiped quickly with the towels. Elmor always looked so vulnerable without his glasses - with his soft thoughtful shortsighted eyes - that my heart was sinking with a weird mixture of tenderness and violence. He flinched when I passed the rough terry towel over his nipples and I smiled with it.

We got to bed quickly, almost without parting our mouths. I sucked his lower lip nibbling it with my teeth as his hands didn't stop moving stroking my belly, thighs and ass. My cock was all wet - not with water but with pre-cum leaking out of it. I passed my palm spreading it all along and drew a little back from Elmor.

"Open for me," I demanded. His eyelids were down and all his face was smoothed and stiffened in desire. Instead of answering, he braced his legs aside and wound them high around my waist.

I set my cock against his ass-hole. It was shut - he was not worked out as I was - and I pushed it in with effort. He moaned softly - it had to hurt a bit. It even hurt me a bit as I forced my cock deeper and deeper into him in one fluid motion that almost drove me mad. Then at last I felt my balls touching his crack and his balls against my belly.

"Yes, Jesse," he sighed out without opening his eyes. "For God's sake, start it!"

I pulled out feeling how the walls of his rectum leant to my cock - and then shoved back; now there was no resistance from him. I made slow deep strokes reaching the bottom every time and Elmor gave out low, almost sob-like sighs in cadence with my movements. There was a steady trickle of clear liquid leaking from his cock over his belly.

I made it as slow as I could - as long as I could - but then it became impossible. I speeded up thrusting more violently, battering his ass all but savagely and he gasped and moaned under me biting his lips and calling my name. Then he called my name in passion, not in hatred.

I felt the tugging in my bottom belly growing to intolerable - and then the relief passed through me as I shot my load into him - time after time, still making short thrusts with my thighs as if I wanted to plant my seed deeper into him. I fell on him nearly whimpering in satisfaction, with my face buried into his collarbone as he wrapped his arms around me.

My cock slipped out of his ass softly as I lay regaining my breath. I could feel how little cramps went through his body; his cock was searing hot and stiff, squeezed between out bellies.

"Well, Jesse," he cooed at last putting his hands on my palms. I moved; I squatted over him, looking at his waiting rapt face, and took his shaft in my palm. I guided it into my anus that was loosened for it - and slid down smoothly, until I sat firmly on his thighs.

His cock was buried so deep in me that it felt strange in my insides. I lingered on the sensation for some moments and then rose up using my legs. I clenched my ass around his cock as if I didn't want to let it go. Then I slid down again and rose again.

I knew the timing perfectly well, moving quicker as I saw how Elmor's nostrils flared and he pushed his hips up to me. I rode him smiling, seeing his face swept by pleasure. I felt him coming close - and then I sat down again, as deep as I could. He convulsed in orgasm; his cum was hot and wet inside me - and then he grew limp on the bed, all spent out.

I crawled down from him carefully. He lay flat and a small smile curved his lips. I settled down between his legs and put my mouth on his flabby cock. I could taste his sperm on it and my mucus as I licked it clean slowly, meticulously. Elmor's face was as if melted in pleasure and relief. I traced my tongue over his balls feeling wispy curly hair on them - and then I reached his anus, still opened and slimy in my cum. I shoved my tongue into it and felt how he flinched and the muscles on his legs became taut. I licked there and he arched in after-orgasmic pleasure. His anus contracted around my tongue.

He was very soft and sleepy when I finished. I ascended and nestled against him pulling the blanket over us.

"When the surgery went all right, I thought everything was going to be wonderful now," I said to Ted. "All our worries passed. Only it was never okay since then.

"He grew distant from me. Never wanted to make sex any more. And when I held him - he was like a stone, so stiff and strained. It seemed he didn't like when I touched him."

"Perhaps he worried too much - and burned something in himself - when he waited for the surgery?" Ted asked suddenly.

"I don't know," I shrugged. "He didn't ever reveal that he was afraid! He even cheered me up. Oh God. Why did he change so much?! People do live with this thing normally!

"I wondered what I had done wrong. What did I have to do? Sometimes I just wanted to go - to leave one day when he was at work - if he didn't want me any more. Oh yes! I should have done it. But at first there still were moments when everything seemed the same good as before. We went somewhere and had fun and had our evenings when we just sat together reading. I couldn't bear the thought of leaving him!

"Only it was more and more seldom when good things happened. He started having these trips to Toronto and Ottawa. And then I went to the gay bars and discos and picked up the guys there. I was never disloyal to him before that! I swear!"

"I know, Jesse," Ted affirmed.

"I didn't want him to know," I said. "But at the same time I wanted it. I thought - if he knew - he would see how much he was hurting me!

"He knew," I sighed out. "Maybe, he knew from the first time. Now, when I think about it, I understand. He must have thought me a liar! Taking his hand, murmuring endearments - while just a day ago I was in somebody else's bed! But he didn't tell me anything.

"Why, why didn't he tell me anything?!" I screwed up my eyes as I cried out. "We could speak! Everything could go okay for us again!"

I pressed the fists to my eyes. My chest was heaving in sobs but I couldn't weep. It was like that - I couldn't weep for Elmor, no matter how much I wanted to.

And when I looked again, Ted was sitting in the armchair in front of me - caressing the cat that was not here - and his warm accepting eyes looked at me with this beautiful clement expression. He shared it with me. And somehow it seemed I felt better.

* * *

Dennis came on Saturday afternoon. He was going to stay overnight - so, we had to have plenty of time to enjoy it. We built a fire in the yard - thanks God, the day was not rainy but nice and mild. Dennis liked it in the yard. He was quite impressed with how green and thick the bushes became. In fact, "Sunny II" looked like the jolliest place now - and it was going to be even better in the end of May when jasmine and lilac were going to blossom.

We played volleyball a bit while waiting for the fire to turn into coals for grill and then cooked steaks and potatoes on it. After that we just sat outside, talking and listening to the radio until the air became chilly in the dusk. It was when we went into the cottage and got settled on the sofa to watch "Jackie Brown" that Dennis brought with him.

I thought little about Ted then. That is, I could think about him all the time - he was always on my mind and it made me happy to recall him. But I closed these thoughts away and made myself belong to Dennis fully. As fully as I could, of course.

"Do you mind him coming?" I asked Ted when Dennis said he wanted to come.

"Of course, I don't," he said affectionately. "How can I, Jesse? I am glad he will come. I know he is good to you - try to be good to him, too, okay?"

"I'll try," I promised. God knows - I wanted it myself.

"You won't see me for these two days at all," Ted added.

We sat very close on the sofa watching the movie and Dennis's head lay on my shoulder as his fingers were plaited with mine. We switched off the light - it was just the flickering screen that lit in the darkness. It was not a breath-taking movie - if you know what I mean. Somehow we expected something more - and after a while Dennis wiggled settling more comfortably against my shoulder.

"You are bony," he complained.

"And you are heavy."

He fidgeted again.

"Would you sleep with Samuel L. Jackson?" he asked with a chortle.

"For money or for pleasure?" I chuckled, too.

"Okay, for money it is not fair. For money you sleep with money, not with a man."

"Yes," I said. "I would. He is a famous actor, after all."

"Nope, I mean - if he was not famous. Just a black guy in the street."

"I would sleep with Helmut Berger," I said and quoted the movie. "Rutger Hauer?" - "Helmut Berger".

"Yes, he is a beauty," Dennis nodded. "A fallen angel."

Then he whispered almost inaudibly:

"You are a fallen angel, too."

I felt it coming up. Every time it was like that. A tiny line he crossed - even when both of us could pretend he didn't - and I clenched inside in a tight ball.

"Give me your hand," he asked and I felt he moved it to his lips. I started trembling but I suppressed it. "I want to try something. It is silly," he giggled a little. "I read about it in Jenny's magazine yesterday. (Jenny was his twin-sister.) Perhaps it won't work. But what if it will?"

"What?" I whispered.

"You'll see."

His lips touched my fingers. My insides were still wound tense - but somehow it started letting me easy little by little. He was not going to try to lay me - or to touch me where I couldn't take it. It was just my hand. He rubbed his mouth against it.

"Jesse," he whispered. His breath was warm on my skin and it was a strange softly disturbing sensation. It was not unpleasant; I still didn't know exactly what I felt - but I didn't get deeper into trance, it was one good thing for sure. Dennis stuck out his tongue and passed its tip between my fingers. I felt chilly. He kissed my hand again - so weird - his lips were warm while his tongue was cool.

Then he turned my hand palm up and licked over my wrist. I made a short hiss through my teeth. It could seem absurd - but his touch there sent the wave through all my body. Right to my bottom belly.

Dennis pressed my palm to his cheek and whispered something again - now I couldn't get his words. But it didn't matter, actually. I patted his face. I did it before. Now he seemed not to notice it. His tongue wandered on my wrist again, up and down, teasing, dancing - and I held my breath because of the odd feeling I had.

Was it what he read about? Well, they were right. He was getting what he wanted! I realized it with bewilderment - but it didn't hinder me to recognize the kind of the tugging in my bottom belly.

Yes, there was nothing wrong with me about it. During last months I had dreams and morning erections - but it never happened in the situation of the contact with somebody - then it was always replaced by the awful feeling of shock and being unable to breathe.

"Jesse, lovely," Dennis sighed out touching my face with his other hand. He knew what happened to me - he could sense it - there was a tiny bit of triumph in his voice - and I knew I was about to share this triumph. After all, he was going to get it at last - something he waited for so very long.

He let go my hand - but now it was not important any more. He looked at me - in the darkness the light of TV screen twinkled in his eyes. He put both his palms on my cheeks and touched my lips with his.

And it was when it happened. No, not with me. Not inside me, I mean. I just felt the presence - the feeling I got used to for last days - only, unmistakable as always, this time it was even stronger and more overpowering. I sensed Ted. I opened my eyes looking around, ready to see him - behind Dennis's back, probably. He was not there. But he was somewhere near, it was for sure.

And then invisible palms brushed my hair.

You have to understand - I really felt it. The same definitely as I felt Dennis's hands on my face. Only his hands were warm and of flesh - and the hands that tousled my hair were like... like a light wind, maybe. They stroked me for a moment or more and then were gone.

But it was enough to send a long wave of shudder through me.

"Ted!" I hailed soundlessly. My muscles clenched in a spasm as I looked madly around myself. Then his voice - soft and smiley and so familiar - sounded in my head:

"Yes, Jesse, it's me!"

"How did you do it?"

The hands swept on my fingers - feather-like and swift.

"I don't know. I just did it."

"Oh my God!"

"Jesse, Jesse!" a moment later I felt Dennis gripping my shoulders and shaking me. I looked at him - his face was very close - then he got up briskly and switched on the light. His eyes stared at me frightened and worried as he went back to the sofa and sat down with me. "What's wrong with you? Why did you start trembling?!"

"I..." I didn't know what to say. In fact, I was trembling now. As soon as I recalled the touches of non-existing hands, I shivered again.

"Did it happen all the same?" with awful sadness in his voice Dennis asked. "I am sorry! I didn't have to force you. But I thought I would be able to treat you. A therapy, you know," he chuckled without smiling. "Jesse, please, forgive me."

"You... it's not your fault," I tried to say. I couldn't see him heart-broken like that. But how could I tell him what really happened?

"Thank you," he said, apparently thinking that I lied in order not to upset him.

Ted's fingers ran over my lips at that moment - and I heard his airy voice almost singing in my head:

"It's soft, Jesse. Your mouth is soft."

"Dennis..." I started.

"You know - I'd better go," he said standing up.

I couldn't bear it! It was wrong - unfair - that I was so shocked by Ted's ability to touch me that I couldn't cope with myself - and that it happened right at the moment when Dennis was probably about to gain what he wanted so much. I stood up, too, and reached my hands to Dennis trying to stop him.

"No, how can you go? You were going to stay for the night here!"

Ted passed his fingers on my palms and I couldn't help flinching again. I saw how Dennis's eyes became dull.

"Never mind, Jesse," he said. "I'll spend this night at home. Anyway, the sofa doesn't look cozy enough and I have to have a good sleep with this complicated week in front of me."

"I am sorry," I said. There was nothing else I could do but to admit my fault. "I am so sorry!"

Even it sounded as if it was really Dennis who made me react like that.

"Do you hate me?" I asked helplessly. His light eyes looked melancholy and surprised at the same time.

"No, Jesse. Of course, not. How could you think it? I didn't have to hurry up, that's all," then he stopped at the door. "Look, next Sunday I am going to have a party. At home. Nothing grand at all. Just a family meeting. Jenny, her boy-friend and Auntie (she brought them up). You and me. I just want to introduce you to them."

"Oh Dennis," I said moved.

"Will you come?" he asked.

"Of course, I will."

I looked at his car until it merged with the darkness and then I returned to the cottage. I couldn't say what I felt; my mind was a mess. And when I saw Ted in the armchair, I understood. What else could I feel? I was so happy! So happy that he could do it now.

"Ted," I said.

"I am sorry, Jesse," his voice was so distressed. I laughed a little bit - everybody was apologizing in front of everybody today! "I didn't want it to happen like that with your friend. I don't know why I did it! I just felt I wanted to touch you so very much - and then I understood I could do it!"

"You wanted to touch me?" I asked.

"Yes," he nodded. His silhouette got very pale and then disappeared - and several seconds later I felt his palms on my cheeks - the same as Dennis held my face. Only Ted's hands were much lighter and cooler. "Your skin is like silk," he whispered.

I inhaled full lungs. The feeling was something indescribable. Like a wind embracing you. I closed my eyes. I wanted it to go on and on. And then his hands slid over my neck and touched my collarbones. It was impossible - he touched me under the clothes. It didn't hinder him. He just stroked me softly and fleetingly.

"Ted," I repeated his name. Could it make him go on? "Ted."

He was with me now even more than before.

During next days I found out that there was one limitation in his growing power. I couldn't see and feel him at once. Either it was his transparent form in front of me - his smiley eyes looking like dark jewels on his white face - and then I could revel in his mild intelligent beauty. Or I could feel his hands dancing over me, playing with my hair, caressing my face.

Once he followed me to the bathroom. He didn't do it before - he was very delicate about the moments when I had to stay alone. But then he was with me. I could see only dimness in the mirrors, not my reflection. He touched my mouth and asked me softly:

"Take off your clothes, okay?"

He asked me about it - he could look at me whenever he wanted - but he never did it, of course. I nodded. There was nothing I wouldn't do for him. I took off my t-shirt and dropped it on the floor and then pulled down my pants. I had little on me - just these two items and undies.

"These too," he said quietly touching them. I did it and stood with my arms along my body. Now he could see me fully - there was nothing I could hide from him. I closed my eyes - ready to accept anything from him. And I didn't wince when Ted's hand slid down on my belly.

I didn't have to look to understand what he was touching. The place where Elmor's bullets tore my body. I didn't cover myself. He could do it to me - he could do anything to me. He passed his invisible fingers on my scars lightly, as if studying them - and, surprisingly, I didn't feel so bad with it. One of his hands was still there while his other hand stroked over my shoulder. It was as if he pictured by touch for himself how I was made. He ran his palms on my chest and stopped at my nipples that stood erect. He didn't virtually caress them, just patted with the tips of his fingers. Then he pressed his palms around my pelvis.

His soft voice said with some thoughtful expression:

"You are so pretty. So thin and fair. I like your face. I like your body. I used to admire male body," Ted continued and I felt his hands circling around my ass. "Always enjoyed to look at it. I never was with any man, you know - but secretly I would like to do it. That's why I didn't marry. I was afraid to make her - whoever she would be - unhappy."

If he was married - he would be alive now, suddenly I thought sadly.

"I would like to be able to touch a man as I touch you," Ted said quietly and then I felt his hand getting closer to my groin. It was not sexual - and, in fact, I was very far from arousal. It was another kind of feeling. My mouth opened slightly when he cupped his palms around my balls. "It's so strange that I can do it only now when I am... when there is no me at all. But I am glad it's you, Jesse, I can touch. I like you, Jesse," he added caressing my limp cock softly - and then his hands were gone all in all. But his voice still sounded in my ears. "I like you so very much."

* * *

I almost didn't notice as the week passed.

"I won't go to Dennis if you don't want me to," I said to Ted.

"No, I want you to," he said. "And you want to go yourself, don't you?"

It was the truth. Even if I didn't want in my heart - I wanted it with my mind. I would do anything for Dennis to redeem my fault! I wish I could redress all wrong I did to him.

In any case, Dennis's party was really sweet. His sister was the same simple and open as Dennis himself, her boy-friend (or fiancÚ - they seemed to get engaged) was cute and amiable and the Auntie was a startling-looking woman in her forties, intelligent and ironic. I felt awfully touched that Dennis wanted me to meet them. You can say there was something funny in it - as if he was introducing his girl-friend to his family - but it did mean much for me. My own family was not something I wanted to remember - and now I didn't have anybody at all in the world. Except Ted, of course.

It was almost midnight when I parted with Dennis. All others left by then and we stood in the hall, so close to each other that I could feel every inch of his long bony shape. His hand waved reluctantly in the air as if he was afraid to touch me.

"Dennis," I said, "you are so kind to me."

"It's okay," I felt he smiled a little bit. "What else can I do? Just to be kind to you."

"One day everything will work out for us," I promised.

"I know," he said. His hand fell. I braced my arms around him quickly and kissed his mouth; I broke the kiss before my mind was stricken.

"I have to go," I said. "See you next Sunday."

Then he suddenly stopped me and asked with a kind of strange expression:

"Perhaps you'll stay?"

"Oh no," what else could I say? "Sorry, Dennis, no. I can't. And it won't change anything, after all."

I was wrong. If I stayed, it would change many things. But I walked out. Dennis locked the door behind me; I ran quickly downstairs and went along the dark street to the parking place two blocks away from his house where I left my car.

I was there groping for the remote control in my jacket when they appeared behind me. They moved in silence - just dark shadows - and only when there was no escape for me they let their heels clank on the asphalt.

"That's all, shit," one voice said. "Stop dead."

At the first moment a shattering thought overwhelmed me. It was Con Baxter and his friends and they came for me. The same as they came for Ted. How did they find out that I knew about them? I couldn't answer - but they did - and they were going to make me shut up forever now.

"You bitch, don't try to scream," another voice advised grimly. I couldn't scream - my throat was gripped in horror and I felt as the little plastic box of remote became slippery in my fingers and was lost inside my pocket again.

The man behind me made a step closer - so that I could feel his warm form against my back - and I heard a short soft click that I recognized - it was a sling blade coming out.

"Don't make me cut you open," he whispered and I felt this blade - its coldness and sharpness - under my jaw.

They grasped me at the moment when my legs nearly let me down.

"Go, go!" several voices sounded at once as they dragged me to the black massive of the park. On the very border of light and darkness one of them turned his face to me and relief showered me in a drowning wave.

They couldn't be Con's guys. They were black.

By the time when we got on the back alley I resurrected my spirits. Jesus, I was almost in euphoria. After the dread I felt when thinking that they were Ted's murderers everything else seemed playful for me. In the back of my mind I somehow understood I didn't have to feel like that - but comfort was singing in me - well, what will they want? My wallet? My car? It didn't matter.

"Here," one of them said.

"Guys, we can agree," I started speaking as soon as we stopped. It was much darker here, under the trees, and I could see only the silhouettes of them, not their faces - but I could see them clearly - the crescent was very bright above us.

Two of them still held me - the grip of their hands was painful on my upper arms and they twisted my arms up and behind - one was in front of me, looking at me, with his arms crossed on his chest. And there were more... three? Four of them?

"We can agree," I repeated hastily. "I'll give you everything I have. I don't need persuasion. You can take my credit cards. You will have time to take the money off... hmm, I mean you won't believe me all the same if I say I won't report them missing?"

I chuckled. I tried to draw some threads between us. It was - like, you know, if they perceived me as a human, not as an object, they wouldn't be unnecessary violent towards me. Only so that they didn't keep silent. If they spoke to me, admitted what I was saying, it was going to be okay.

The man who stood in front of me unwound his crossed arms suddenly. He found a pack of cigarettes in his pocket and lit one of them. His face was young, strong and sensuous, with full light lips and long narrow eyes under heavy lids. He glanced at me - he saw I was looking at him. Was he going to be mad with it, I got worried.

But he didn't shout at me. Instead of it he lingered with his lighter alight under his face - the little orange flame dancing with lights and shadows on his face. His mouth curved in an odd expecting smile. He paused for several seconds like that. I got silent. I didn't know what he meant but I sensed something. That there was something important in what he did.

"Well, scum," he said at last and I recognized the first voice that spoke to me, "do you know me now?"

"I..." my mind went astray. Did I ever see him? Perhaps... something familiar. "Do I have to? Maybe, you are mistaken, aren't you?"

"Nope, white litter," the man who held the knife against my throat spoke even before the first one could answer. I felt the blade making a little line on my skin, not breaking it, just marking. "Did your lawyer cunt fuck your ass inside out?"

Dennis? They knew about him? I was flabbergasted. And at that moment the man with the lighter said:

"I was told I looked very alike with my brother," and he added almost softly when my face remained bewildered. "My brother, Johnny Taylor."

"Oh."

It was the last thing I was ready to hear. I even didn't know what to say; so many emotions flooded me at once. My mouth gaped a little and I licked my lips trying to say something - but I didn't have any thoughts what to say, not only words. Well, the man didn't want me to speak. The flame died away and in the darkness I could see only how his teeth and whites of his eyes sparkled when he spoke.

"I see you still remember the man you killed."

I gasped. I had to say it was not truth, he was unfair towards me - but I couldn't. Because it was the truth, too. And he was right, I remembered Johnny. I never forgot him.

"You white bitch, dirty prostitute!" his voice was steady but with the bitterness that rose in it I could feel he was shaking in fury. "You lured him to tease you mad shitty lover. You both killed him. And now he is dead and you are fucking around with another white slut and rolling in money of your lover. Did you plan it all? Are you happy now? You have everything while Johnny is in the grave - and you earned it with his death!"

"No!" his words were like nails he knocked into my brain - and the more he spoke the keener was the pain. I couldn't bear it already. I tried to interrupt him but he didn't listen to me. "No! No, it is not like that! I didn't want it to happen! He shot at me, too. Your father..." suddenly I recalled it. "He spoke to me! He has forgiven me!"

"But I haven't!" suddenly he made a step to me and slapped me on my face with stunning force. My head dangled under the impact and I made a short sound in pain. "How can it be forgiven? Johnny... He was the best one! There was nobody who didn't love him. He didn't make harm to anybody in his life! And he died for such a shit as you are, for you white worthless whorish ass!"

I felt blood on my lips and I licked it without letting it trickle out. He raised his hand again and I knew he would hit me once more. He did - slowly and heavily, with the back of his hand.

"No," I said. "No, please."

"You will pay for his death, you filthy whore," he hissed leaning towards me, right in my face. "We'll make you feel remorse."

His hands lay on the collar of my shirt - searing hot fingers, I felt them for a moment before he yanked it open, tearing the buttons in one swift movement. Shame, horror and despair seized me so tightly that I nearly collapsed. The hands of his friends kept holding me, preventing any struggle. I could just repeat helplessly:

"Please don't do it. You are wrong. Please don't."

I still could hear how the buttons clattered on the asphalt when he yanked my shirt open. I knew what he would see - even though there was very little light from the narrow moon.

He snapped his tongue in amazement but not in relenting.

"Yep, it looks like my dad was right. You are really messed."

I felt my cheeks getting hot with shame. He looked at my chest and belly obscenely and then he called other guys:

"Come nearer. Looks like we have one Frankenstein's monster here."

They looked. They chuckled. He passed his fingers on my scars, pressing them hard, tracing them down from my ribs to under the belt of my pants.

"You lawyer's slut doesn't mind to fuck such a freak? I've never seen anything so ugly," he was saying it but I couldn't say that his words penetrated my mind fully. I was clenching in shock and shame. I was helpless. They could do anything. Suddenly I got a suspicion, a nasty one, what they were going to do. It almost made me sick.

"Yeah, it looks like there is God," he went on, "He marked you, bitch, for life."

Suddenly his fingers that were rubbing my scars clasped on my nipple. His hand was steely and he applied all his force, I could feel it, squeezing it between his forefinger and thumb and twisting it at once. I breathed out in pain.

"Come on, horny slut," he spat at me, "is it how you lured my brother? Is this what he liked in you?"

He continued to wring my nipple incredibly hard, with his nails sticking so deep that I could feel blood appearing around them. It felt like he was going to tear it off - and I could believe it - he was able to do it.

"Show us your dainties! Yeah, you'll do it, slut. We'll check what was so special in you that my brother had to pay with his life for it!"

"No!" I screamed aloud. It was useless - there was no one around all the same, no one but them. And at the same moment Johnny's brother's knee drove up into my groin. I got breathless. The pain was stunning, going in shock-waves through my abdomen. And he kneed me again and again, non-stop, holding my shoulders for leverage. I hung limply in the hands of his guys; the waves of nausea were flooding me. I even didn't feel when he stopped.

Then they yanked me up and dragged for several steps.

"Here, on the bench!"

I knew what they would do. I howled in pain and despair. The knife was taken away from my neck, they were too busy dealing with me now - but I couldn't struggle much. The pain was stoning me. I did writhe when they pulled the shirt off from me and yanked down my pants. They threw me on the bench naked, belly over. Two of them held my wrists above my head and two others yanked my legs up and apart. A hot spear of pain shot through my groin on the right where it seemed like some ligament was torn.

I stopped thrashing. It was hopeless. I was going to pay just as they said - to pay for what I had done to Johnny.

"Let's see how honey the cunt of this white trash is!" somebody wheezed. I saw a silhouette above me - not Johnny's brother, some other guy - and the first cock broke into my ass.

"See? He shut up," one of them said, "I bet he loves it. It is not a good punishment for him, nope, Jimmy."

I felt I was choking. Everything in me was tightened in a hard clot. I couldn't take a breath. I knew I had to, for my own sake I had to - but instead of it my insides were winding even tighter in a non-existing cocoon. I saw black.

"Jesus, he is clamping there!" the guy who penetrated me sighed out in delight. My short passing out saved me. I started breathing again. The man made long heavy strokes bottoming out with every in-ward movement. I knew he was all inside me because I could feel his balls against my crack when he thrust in. The pain was pretty bad. I hadn't made sex for seven months by now - and he was taking it by force. He stuck it dry into me but at the moment the sliding was smoother because of blood from the minor splits.

I drove my teeth through my lip; it was already bleeding after Jimmy hit me - and now I tasted more blood. I closed my eyes - when I looked up, I saw their dark faceless silhouettes above me.

The man speeded up making swift and deep careless strokes. He grunted when cumming and yanked his cock out at once, while it was still hard. Almost at the same moment another guy replaced him.

The things had to go easier now - I was wet with his sperm inside and it made the strokes slippery, not painfully hot and raw. The man leant on me, the weight of his body wringing my injured groin even more. His face was so close that I could smell beer in his breath. I turned away. I didn't know if he noticed it.

The third one had an enormous cock. At the first moment I didn't realize what it was so blunt and huge pressing against my anus - and then he pushed it in and I screamed in blinding pain. It seemed I felt how my anus ring was bursting. The pain was searing - as if his cock was made of burning wood. I heard him laughing and he continued to push it inside me. It was so big I thought he would rip my rectum before he forced it inside. My colon was distending with it as he stuffed it deeper and deeper. It seemed endless. He pulled out a bit and shoved in again, making me shriek in agony. I could feel how my sphincter was turning inside out around his penis.

"That's the prize cock for the white whore," somebody commented.

I don't remember how long he fucked me - probably it was just a couple of minutes but every stroke seemed like eternity. I think I passed out for some moments because I don't remember how it was retrieved out of me. When I realized myself again, I was thrown on the ground on my knees, some hands held my arms and shoulders and one gripped my hair. I was still convulsing in pain that tore my insides some moments ago.

"Don't think about biting," I heard Jimmy's voice hissing over my ear. And then a blunt wet tip poked on my lips. On its size I understood it was the same cock. It smelt with blood and shit, my shit. My stomach rose and then somebody distracted my attention by kicking my side heavily.

"Open your mouth, bastard!"

I took the head of the cock in my mouth. My jaw ached - I had to open it awfully wide to be able to do it. He pushed it behind my tongue - I retched, it was too big, I couldn't deep-throat it. But the hand that held my hair yanked my head forward and I felt it squeezing inside my gullet. My windpipe was covered. The hand pulled me back. Then the owner of the great cock took charge and put both his huge - of corresponding size - palms on my ears and started fucking my mouth with all his force.

I gagged and choked, catching the air in rare moments when he dragged out enough to let me do it. Spittle leaked out of my mouth untidily, I could feel it dripping on my chest. The pain that the head of his cock caused in my throat was raw and burning. Another source of pain was little pebbles under my bare knees I had to stand on. I wiggled as much I could trying to relieve it - but I couldn't much.

It was ages before he spurted his cum into my mouth.

"Swallow it! Every drop!" he shouted at me.

There were more of them. They threw me on my belly over the bench and another one started pumping my ass. Then the next one. I lost the count of them. I am messed what they did exactly - they twisted and threw me as a doll, bending me and folding me in the poses that were convenient for them. The pain in my opening was horrible. It seemed it was burnt continuously - and every cock that got there was like a red-hot rod searing it out.

I sobbed and pleaded them to stop. I got so crazed with pain that I couldn't find any convincing words to make them stop, I just pleaded them not to do it any more. I don't even know if Jimmy fucked me. I guess he did. What I knew was that they fucked me more than once, at least, some of them. When I realized they were doing second time I pleaded them:

"To my mouth, please, to my mouth."

"The bitch wants to suck a black cock," somebody said. I tried to do my best satisfying them with my mouth. I was slobbering on the shaft of one of them when I felt something touching my anus. It was not a cock, it was fingers. Two, three of them penetrated my ass. They were not so thick as a cock but they moved, rotated, rubbed against the splits. When he added the fourth finger, I realized he was going to fist me.

I groaned. With the cock filling my mouth I couldn't even make much sound. The man shoved his palm without thumb up to my ass fully and turned it around. The pain blasted in me. My mouth opened even wider in a muffled howl and the cock penetrated my throat deeper, to the delight of the guy. The man who was going to fist me took his hand out to tuck the thumb in - and then I heard Jimmy's voice:

"Don't. I don't want the whore to get to the hospital. We don't need problems with him."

For a moment through the mist of pain I felt relief. Then pain shattered my body. He didn't stick his fist it. He kicked my anus with his boot.

It went on for a while longer. At last they let me loose and I flopped on the ground. I desperately wanted it to be over - but how I could believe it would? I heard them standing over me, then one of them pushed me with the toe-cap of his boot, turning me face up. It was Jimmy - I realized it when he spoke:

"We can kill you. We have to kill you as you killed my brother, dirty slut. But we won't. You don't deserve so that we defile our hands with you. That's what you deserve!"

And then a foul stream hit my face. It was hot and smelly and unmistakable. He urinated on me. I curled covering my face with my palms - but then others joined Jimmy and the jets were falling on me from every side. It leaked on my face and hair, got to my eyes, trickled on my chest and limbs. I would yelp but I was afraid it would get to my mouth. I stopped breathing because I feared I would inhale it. One of them was pissing on my crotch and the other one washed blood on my anus with his stream.

They didn't touch me after they finished. I lay curled in a ball, stifling the sobs and listening how they walked the alley chatting to each other and the heels of their boots reverberated on the ground. They were gone but I didn't move all the same.

The pebbles were cold and prickly under me. I could feel how wet they got around me. I was all soaked wet; it still dripped from my hair and eyelashes. And the stench - I hardly could breathe with it. I raised my hand to cover my nose and gritted my teeth because my hand was in the drops of piss, too.

Despair and disgust seized me. It was worse than the pain, even though it was very bad, too. I cried out when I got on my fours. My knees were rubbed sore so badly that they bleed. It seemed there was an open burning wound in lieu of my asshole. I crawled to the bench lopsidedly and found my shirt in the grass under it.

I had to switch my mind off from everything, I knew it. The only thing I had to think about was to get out of there. I pulled the shirt on me and groped for my pants in the darkness. At last I found them. I sprawled when I got up and tried to put them on - but I made another attempt and succeeded. I trapped the pain in the farthest corner of my mind - and shame, and disgust, too. All I have to do is to get out of here, I repeated to myself again and again, until my mind got void of any other thought. I checked the car keys - they were still in the pocket, thanks God. The thought what I would do if they got lost showered me with cold. I didn't find and didn't look for my undies, socks and shoes. I walked back to the parking place like that, barefoot.

It was quiet and empty except for my car - and no wonder, it was half past two already. I fell into the car, suppressing another fit of sickness. The key didn't get into the lock.

"Stop it, stop it, Jesse," I whispered to myself in a dreadful hoarse voice. "You can do it."

Of course, I did. I drove the car all the way to "Sunny II" with the speed I was able to control. I had to hypnotize myself trying to forget about the smell - it was awful in the car. I was half-way when the thought came to my mind that I could go to Dennis instead of driving 50 miles home. But no, I couldn't. I didn't forget about him. I couldn't lay it for myself that I would be able to appear in front of him like that.

I didn't cry as long as I drove - I fought the tears because they would hinder me to see the road. But there was nothing that could keep me when I drove into the garage. I wailed aloud shamelessly, with spittle leaking out of my mouth and snot out of my nose. I scrambled out of the car and tore off the wet dirty clothes. I dropped it right there, on the floor. I was going to burn it. And I knew I would have to burn the draperies in the car salon.

Naked, I walked to the bathroom hitting light switchers on my way. I couldn't stand darkness any more. I realized how cold I was only when I got under the shower and hot water flooded me.

Soil stuck to my body everywhere where it was wet, especially on the back of my thighs - there was crusted sperm and blood that leaked out of me even some grass blades glued there. I poured half of bottle of liquid soap on the sponge and started rubbing myself. The foam was pink and grey falling from me.

I rubbed the sponge against my agonizing opening, trying to get off every bit of their juices on me. There were more inside me, too, and when the thought struck me, I drove the head of the shower right inside my rectum. The pain was shattering. I fell on my knees and the water immediately leaked red but I fucked myself with this shower washing them out of me. When I pulled it out, I threw up. Which was good as well because I knew I would have to do it anyway; their semen was in my stomach.

"Why did they do it?" I wailed aloud without asking anybody. Then another thought struck me. What if one of them - or some - had some disease? Even not AIDS - but syphilis or tripper? Of course, they all used me without condoms - but who knows, maybe, they don't care if they could get infected. I'll have to visit the doctor, I thought. And for some reason this thought seemed the worst for me. It was unfair! Why?!

Ted. Why did they do it to Ted? That's what I used to ask, right? Suddenly the thought about him overpowered me. I didn't sense his presence from the moment when I fell into the door - but he had to be around - as he always was.

I understood all at once that I thought about him all the time. I didn't call his name - but his image wandered somewhere in my mind. I didn't go to Dennis not because I didn't want to see him - but because I wanted to see Ted - and nobody but Ted.

"Ted, you know," I whispered barely audibly behind the rustle of the water. "Ted, it was done to you, too. You know how I feel."

It was absurd, helpless words. How could I compare? He was murdered in the most horrible way - and I... they didn't stub cigarettes on me, didn't torture me, didn't even fist me. Not only that! He suffered without fault - and I answered for what I did to Johnny. But I said it and I waited for his answer.

He answered me at once. I saw the mirrors getting dim but it was just a visual effect. His answer was in what I felt - his accepting presence - around me, inside me. As if he penetrated my soul and wiped pain and bitterness from there. I felt his love. I understood it exactly - it was what he tried to tell me. That he loved me and was with me. He caressed me while I sat crouched in the tub under the flows of water - in the very tub where he died.

I couldn't see him - his body image - he was putting all his energy in sensation, I understood. The mirrors were like black swirls when I got out of the tub. His invisible hands supported me. He walked me to the bed and then I saw how the spread on it was pulled off. For the first time I saw something like that and I felt a fit of mad joy - how strong he was getting.

"Ted," I called his name. I wanted to give him as much strength as I could. What happened to me this night suddenly stepped away, became unimportant. Ted made it for me - and only Ted meant something for me now. "Ted, please be with me," I asked lying down on the bed. "Please be me, Ted," I whispered.

He was all I needed. I opened up for him, meeting his fleshless hands sliding on my body and then I saw his face, mist-like pale and translucent, above me. For the first time I could feel and see him at once. His hair was like black shadow - but his eyes - beautiful tragic eyes - were hot and present as a live being has.

He closed his face to mine and for a moment I felt a kiss of his lips on my swollen sore mouth. And then his eyes became mine and I became him - and as I lay prone on the bed in "Sunny II" - I returned to the day in last April when Ted met his death here.

I got to know everything. I went through everything - every hour of those thirty-seven hours while they killed him. His pain was my pain, his horror singed me. He led me through it all. But I was happier than he was - or more unhappy. Because some tiny part of my mind knew all the time it was the past he was showing to me, the things that were already gone. But at the same time it made me agonize in the terrible pity towards him for what he had to go through.

I found out everything. I found out why they killed him. I couldn't believe it but I knew it for sure, with the sublime knowledge that Ted gave me. He entered the bar to get a alcohol-free drink at eleven o'clock in the morning and the TV was on. Some program about Holocaust victims, children queuing to the crematorium that was masked under shower-rooms, heaps of dead bodies in Warsaw ghetto, naked Jewish women shot by the soldiers.

And there were Baxter's Boys, in their leather-spiky garments, sitting at the empty table, laughing and jeering. Ted just glanced at them. He was an adult man, he knew very well what the freaks like this were up to. He took his soda and exchanged the looks with the barman. They both could dislike Baxter's Boys as much as they wanted - but it was better for themselves to keep silent.

Then Gary Troppe - they called him Fatso for the folds of fat on the back of his neck - said:

"Remember that Jewish chick we stuffed full last month? I bet she walked legs wide for a week after that."

"You stuffed her?" Con Baxter asked melancholically. "What with? With your tiny prick?"

"His peter is just big enough to stuff a lap-dog," Wayne commented. "Do you know his mother's lap-dog? He used to fuck it."

Gary flushed.

"I'd rather fuck a bitch than a Jew bitch," he muttered.

At that moment Ted passed by them with his drink in the hand - and for some reason Gary paid attention to him.

"And what do you think about fucking Jews?" he asked putting his leg on Ted's way. "About fucking them - not fuckin' them!" he laughed happily with his pun.

"I am a Jew myself," Ted said quietly stepping over Gary's leg. Con and others laughed with approval.

"Hey, we have a fuckin' Jew here!" Gary exclaimed raising his knee. Ted stumbled. He lost his balance and nearly fell. It could be killingly funny he fell - and he would stay alive if he did.

But he didn't. Instead of it his drink splashed out of the bottle - right behind the back of Con's collar. Con wiggled. It was wet and at once got sticky. The barman shot a broad smile - and Ted couldn't help smiling. But what was the worst was that Gary and Reg and Wayne and Kevin laughed aloud. They laughed at Con - at their leader - and at the next second Con's face became dark as thunder.

"I am sorry," Ted said. He was sorry he had an idea of having this soda all in all but he didn't have an idea how bad everything was. "Friend, I mean it. I am sorry."

He put the half-empty bottle on the table and walked out trying not to hurry too much.

What happened then he didn't know - but he did know it now - and because of it I knew it, too.

The guys' laughter died away under Conrad's fierce stare. At once they felt uneasy - how they dared to laugh at him?

"This stinky Jew," one of them said. "It was too much about him, Con. Really too much."

Con looked at them with crazy expression and they felt like shriveling and getting very tiny. That's why they supported Kevin who - instinctively - tried to drive Con's anger from them to somebody else.

"These Jews deserved what Aryan guys were doing to them. They can't behave themselves when they are let walk loose."

"Will anybody else add something?" Con asked in a chilly voice.

"Yep," Wayne said. "Let's teach him a lesson."

"Let's teach the fuckin' Jew a lesson!" Gary exclaimed - and they rose all together.

The barman walked behind them when he noticed how they directed to their shabby "Jeep Isuzu" so determinedly. But Ted was gone by then and the barman returned to his place thinking everything was all right. Six months later, when Ted's body was found, the barman was dying of lung cancer and couldn't care less about the little commotion he witnessed once.

Ted drove his car the same road as I came today - as we both came every time when went from the downtown. They saw the rear of his car as soon as they turned around the corner. And they started the chase.

It was fun. The music howled through glass-less windows of the Jeep and everybody clapped Wayne on his back pushing him speed up, drive faster. I knew what Ted felt when he noticed them and realized they were after him. I could scream in my mind - don't do it! Don't drive to your house! Go to police! They would leave you as soon as they would understand it.

But the thought of police came to his mind only to be thrown away at once - the same as it happened with me today when I drove home. He had this absurd notion of home being his fortress. And he also hoped that Baxter's Boys would get bored with chasing him.

It seemed to happen. But it was Con who restricted Wayne when he realized where Ted was going. They dropped behind and Ted happily believed it - because it was what he wanted to believe. He put the car to the garage and entered the cottage.

Was there a chance that he could call the police? Funny. No adult man would do it. To complain about what? That bad boys - all of them had to use false ID's to buy a drink - wanted to catch him? Con knew what he could count on. There was a chance, however, that Ted could live with somebody else - but it seemed it didn't even come to Con's mind - and he didn't need to worry about it.

Ted popped a can of Sprite for himself when he heard the door from the garage to the house clapping. He didn't have time to make a step towards it - because his visitors were already here.

And his hell started.

The cans of Sprite - it was Ted's favorite drink, he had a fair amount of them in his fridge - they used to stuff them in his ass - after they tore his opening so loose that it was not interesting for them to fuck it any more. They fucked him both ends and two up to his ass at once. They used their fists to fuck him - and every oblong object their eyes fell upon - candles, a candlestick, sprays, bottles. In the end everything was so torn in his perineum that they couldn't find anything appropriate, everything was falling out of the gaping wound.

Three of his ribs were broken during the first fifteen minutes when they beat him and the pain of their sharp ends puncturing his lung was haunting me through all the time. He suffered massive inner hemorrhage - and every time when they started beating him again it got worse. He had his kidneys beaten off - enough to make him invalid for all his life. On the second day his spleen was ruptured and his belly started bloating with blood accumulating there. He would probably die, anyway, even if they left him alone. They jumped on his belly, kicked him with all their might. They smashed his balls with their boots, squeezed them until they popped and became just mushy mass.

Every cigarette they smoked they stubbed on him - but cigarettes were not enough. They burnt him with matches and lighters, cooked his hands on the stove. Con tore out his nails with the pliers and dripped boiling water on the raw flesh.

They were demented. None of them had ever done anything like that to a human being before. There were cats on their account, dogs they knocked over on the road or tortured to death in the basement - but never a human. But they were very successful with their first attempt. They loved it. No one wanted to stop - but everyone wanted to outdo others in the ideas and performance.

Ted tore his voice raw with screaming. In the beginning he tried to beg them - tried to call for their reason - only no way. They didn't care for the noise he made. There was nobody around, anyway, and the TV was on loud. And soon he could only wheeze and cackle, anyway.

I had to go through Ted's agony when they crucified his cat. I got to know the cat's name - Pete - and why he was called like that. Because of the cat in Heinlein's novel, the one who looked for the door into summer, remember?

He strolled in the yard and returned home, opened the cat's flap by his head when he got hungry. Why didn't he sense anything? Cats have the instinct. But it didn't warn him. He didn't get scared when seeing a bunch of strangers inside. He stopped, however, when he saw his master writhing in the pool of blood on the floor. Ted was past crying by then - but when he saw Pete, he screamed:

"Get out! Get out of here!"

Do you know how stubborn the cats can be from time to time?

"What? What did they do?!" I knew I asked it. It was my mind crying with what Ted was showing me. I couldn't believe it. But it was what they did. They gutted the cat - and then Con gathered a handful of his slimy guts and shoved them into Ted's mouth. They broke his jaw a while ago to get safe blow-jobs from him - so, he couldn't prevent it. Con used the handle of his knife to push the gut tubes down Ted's throat.

"Maybe, he'll get one cat's life like that," they joked.

For the night they tied him and when he tried to get free, they broke his arms against the armchair elbow. It was a weird sound of dry branches cracking when his bones were disjointed. After that he couldn't do anything at all.

They proceeded with him in the morning, amazed that he was still alive. He was bleeding from all his openings, there was no uninjured inch on his body. He already barely responded to pain - and I could see how displeased Con and his buddies were with it.

"The Jew bitch is dead meat now," they said.

But I knew it still hurt when they kicked him or when they stubbed cigarettes on him. They carved David's Stars on his body. Nobody knew about it - by the time he was found, his skin was gone so much that it couldn't be seen.

And then - later at night - on the second night of his agony - Baxter's Boys got too tired with everything. They lazily pushed the prone body on the floor with their boots - as if not knowing what to do with it. Well, it hardly looked like a human body by now, anyway.

"Who will finish him off?" at last Con asked. They didn't volunteer to do it. The rage of destruction was drained out and they just wanted it to end.

Ted didn't sense it. He was just a piece of meat by then, half-mad with pain. He didn't hope to stay alive; he didn't want to stay alive. He just wanted the pain to end - it was the only thought he had left.

"Well," Con said coming up to him and stepping on his hand that was curled on the floor. The heel of his boot smashed his already broken fingers once more and it sent a wave of shudder through Ted's body. "Then let's draw it."

Gary, Wayne and others watched him when he took out five matches and cut one of them short. But he didn't simply present them to his friends to draw. He turned Ted on his back. By then they already cut off his balls. They tried to push the bits of them in his mouth but he couldn't swallow. He started choking and they dropped it. His cock, almost skinless and burnt black, was still attached, however. Con stuck the matches into its head - Ted seemed not to feel it.

"You can draw," he said.

One after one his friends pulled out the matches. When seeing that he had a long match, Gary even imitated disappointment. But they all pulled out long matches. Con was the last.

"Well, fuckers," he said. "I knew I would have to do it."

He didn't draw his match - instead of it he pressed the blade of his knife to Ted's cock and cut its head off cleanly. It was when Ted made his last cry. After that he didn't make any more sounds.

"Fatso, fill the tub," Con ordered. "Wayne, you'll help me!"

They dragged Ted to the bathroom when the tub was almost half-full. Gary - an idiot - filled it with hot water - for God's sake, as if he was going to take a bath. They laughed over it while waiting and Ted lay at their feet in an untidy heap. Blood leaked from his chopped cock.

Then at last Con raised him on his knees and stuck his head under the water. Ted's eyes opened. They were swollen and covered with blood - but the water let him see - and he looked at the dented enamel on the tub's bottom. The water filled his ears and nose. At first he tried to drink it. But then the moment came when he had to breathe it in...

The water was pink because the blood on his face melted. I had to guess it before.

The End of Part 2

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