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A Soul's a Fair Trade

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Jesus Fucking Christ, I'm so miserable I almost don't feel like swearing. Almost.

Puke's rushing up my throat, and I know, I just know this is gonna make Boyd Goddamn Crowder step back in disgust. The thought takes the nausea up a few million notches--he can't leave me with this yawning pit inside shivering and begging for a hit. But if I ask him not to go, then that's exactly what he'll do.

We've done this before, man. Too many times to count.

This time we're out behind the old garage that nobody bothered to take over after Bobby Withers died from a heart attack. Good place for privacy--nobody comes here but Boyd and the people who buy from him.

I'm sweating and my heart's bouncing around like a basketball inside my chest. I reach out, grab the sleeve of his dark colored shirt and hang on with the world swelling and dropping beneath my feet. Nothing's steady and I can't hold it back no more, leaning forward like the wind's at my back to try and miss my shoes. A projectile stream of liquid acid shoots from my mouth.

Haven't eaten much in days, so that's all I got left. Who needs food when you got junk?

Until you don't. Then Boyd and occasionally other dealers around Harlan own my soul, and sometimes my mouth and asshole. Whatever gets them off if that's what'll get me ripped again.

I don't mind. Been a long time since I owned my own soul, if ever I did.

"Garner Pruitt, what in the ever-loving world put you on this path to personal destruction," Boyd says, and there's a note there that surprises me.

My eyes sting. I wipe my arm over my mouth and look up at him, try to give him a smile, but Raylan's name is chanting in my head like a song teenagers moon over. He's where it began. Though none of this is sure as shit Raylan's fault, or anybody's, maybe. 

Then again that fuckhead Arlo Givens did give my dad down-the-road over catching me and Raylan in the blackberry patch with our pants off.

"Poverty, discrimination, poor life choices," I say, and my smile gets more real in response to Boyd's bark of laughter. "Maybe just this goddamn place ate my soul."

The last bit of answering smile on Boyd's face disappears. What he sees in Harlan I will never know, but he's as protective as hell about it.

And all the time we talk, the past--Arlo's shotgun jabbed in between my shoulder blades, marching me home to tell my dad the shameful news--plays over again in my head. 

"Your goddamned little faggot here's infected my boy!" Arlo had screamed. He was so mad the spit flew as he talked, jabbing a finger at me like he wished it was a knife.

After Arlo left to go beat the shit out of Raylan, my dad did the same to me. I was out of school for a week.

All because I wanted--and got--fifteen-year old Raylan Givens on his knees. Fresh-faced and rail-thin, eyes wide and startled, long fingers spread out and braced on his knee. Mouth parted and shiny with spit and come.

Then he'd grinned at me with those even white teeth, dimple popping in his cheek, sly and shy at the same time.

Almost striking a pose. Kind of...slinky, I guess is the way to describe it, but also arrogant, like he's always known and seen more than you ever will. Somehow elegant in that way he still is and will always be.    

All I could do was stare at him, then fumble myself back into my jeans and slide to the ground beside him. I grabbed his face and kissed him hard to shut him up.

Still, I felt him snicker beneath my mouth.

So I laid him out on the ground, laughing when he yelped because a blackberry bramble poked his ass, and then I sucked him dry. Raylan's eyes rolled up to heaven, body bowed up and pushing for more into my mouth. I raked a finger along his crack and wiggled it at his hole, rough little thrust popping inside and out, in and out until his chest was flushed pink and his eyes too bright. Shuddering little breaths caught in his throat, quickening, until he came in my mouth.

He didn't offer to pull out and I didn't offer to pull off. He looked at me afterward, eyes crinkling at the corners and as gleeful as if he'd won a big prize, but it was exactly what I wanted.

I never got anything that compared, afterwards, until the smack.

Yeah, Raylan was worth a moony teenager song, or a million of them, playing like a chant in my head. Never met anybody else that came close to him.

"You got anything else to say for yourself before I leave you high and dry?" Boyd demands, and suddenly I'm in the present again, all the sickness pressed up close.

I try to straighten up, then double over, groaning. Stomach cramp, fuck. Hurts so bad.

"Go home, you hear?"

"You know I got nowhere to go, Boyd." I reach out for him again.

"Your sister will still take you in. Tell her to stock up on some Imodium."

"Imodium?" I look at him blankly.

Boyd sighs. "It's got Loperamide. It'll help with the symptoms. That and plenty of water." He puts a hand on my shoulder. "I'm trying to help you, believe it or not."

I talk to the ground. "Just make it go away, man. Please?"

He sighs again, shifts his feet, and I think he's about to walk away on those skinny-ass legs. I reach out one last time and catch his eye.

He's giving me the stone cold look, like he's got marbles for eyes. Killer eyes. "Get yourself gone." He shakes his arm impatiently.  

"I got something to trade," I say, desperate and still clinging, shame nothing more than a pale ghost. I'm not much for shame anymore. Too far gone I guess. 

"Now what would you have to trade me?" Boyd's hand is on my back. He gives me a brief pat. 

"A story, I got a story." A tear rolls down my face. 

I hear him move to kneel beside me. "I'd be mightily surprised to hear anything worth the size of your need," he whispers in my ear.

"Then you're about to be surprised," I whisper back. I take a chance and touch my lips to his ear.

Boyd chuckles.

I pull back a little. I want to see his face. "It's about Raylan," I say.

Boyd's eyes light up. He's a sinner but a saint, big white teeth shining as he smiles, eyes gone warm and dark and interested. I know I got him by the way he catches his lip between his teeth. 

It's worth it, I tell myself, your last secret, and already the shivers are leaving me, planning how to spin it out. I'll get the hit and relax, tell it nice and slow, sweet and hot.

I don't know what he'll do with the information, but he'll find a use for it. I know Boyd.

And maybe he'll let me stay the night.