I didn’t sleep that well that night. Thinking of how Louis and Karen were on the 3rd floor just below us. Thinking of how he was related to Lionel. How, he was here keeping an eye on me for him. He had said so himself.
I woke up a couple of times feeding Seamus and Mary. Once around 3am and again around 5. I changed them and rocked them back to sleep. After that I must have slept for a while. I had to of because next thing I knew I woke up startled as my bedroom door opened it creaking as James appeared coming quietly inside and shutting it behind him.
“What are you doing?” I asked him.
“I think he’s like him,” James told me looking at me.
“Who?” I asked him.
“Luke’s brother,” James said and I nodded my head holding open my covers.
“Did he hurt you?” I asked him.
“No. Just a bad feeling. Karen’s up and she’s making pancakes. She woke Cat and I up but almost everyone else is sleeping,” he told me climbing into bed with me.
“Are you still tired?” I asked him.
“No, I just wanted to be with you. You said if we were together it would be ok. So I wanted to be together,” he informed me.
“Ok bud,” I said holding him before I kissed is cheek, “But if you aren’t going to sleep maybe you should go play with Catty. Play tea party with her.”
“But I want to play cowboys,” he told me.
“Try and see if she’ll let you play cowboy tea party ok? Especially if you think he’s like them. We can’t leave her alone with someone that’s like them,” I told him.
“Why? She’s a girl,” he told me.
“Yes, but sometimes they hurt little girls too. And we don’t want Cat to get hurt do we?” I asked him.
“No. I love Catty,” he told me.
“Then why don’t you go play with her and I’ll take a shower and come out and play with you guys in a little bit ok?” I asked him.
“Ok,” he said, “I love you too you know?”
“I know, I love you too bud,” I said getting up and walking him to my bedroom door, shutting it behind him.
I looked at my alarm clock it was nine. I had gotten maybe four hours of actual sleep but, if he was up I didn’t want Louis being anywhere near them without Karen or me around. Not after last night. Not after he had looked at me like that. I hated to think of him alone with them.
If he could look at me like that how did I know he wouldn’t look at them like that? That he wouldn’t scoot close to them until their hearts felt like hummingbird wings in their chest, until they couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. I didn’t and I wasn’t going to take the chance that he wouldn’t so I sighed going into my bathroom and starting my shower.
I made it as quick as possible drying myself off and hanging my towel back on the towel rack before I opened the door shutting it quickly my heart hammering when I saw him standing in my bedroom. He must have heard me shut the door because after a second I heard a knock on it.
“Will? Why don’t you come out here? Karen wanted me to ask you if she would make bacon or sausage,” he told me.
“Tell her bacon,” I said through the door.
“Ok,” he answered and than said after a moment of silence, “You have a nice room. It’s very clean.”
“Thanks. I’m huh, naked so can you just like…go tell her about the bacon?” I asked him.
He laughed lightly, “I have two little brothers one of them a little older then you. I promise I’ve seen a naked boy before.”
That wasn’t the point. He knew that wasn’t the point. I didn’t want to be naked in front of him. I didn’t want to be naked in front of anyone really. Especially not him or anyone that was related to any of that.
“Could you? Please?” I asked him.
“Yeah. Of course,” he said.
I waited until I heard his steps recede until I heard him shut the door before I came out. I tried to be as fast as possible getting dressed pretty sure he was coming back and sure enough just as I pulled my shirt out of my dresser he opened the door without knocking making me jump around 10 feet in the air.
“Are you really going to wear that?” he asked looking at me.
“What?” I asked.
“That,” he said snatching my shirt out of my hand, “I mean it’s long sleeved why would you wear that? It’s not even that cold outside let alone in your actual house.”
I felt my face burning red as I folded my arms over my chest. I felt like I wanted to cry. What was he doing? Why wouldn’t he just leave me alone?
“Papa was right. You’re very beautiful,” he said taking a step forward causing me to take a step back hitting my dresser with my back.
He took another step forward and I felt my eyes go wide, “I just told you you’re beautiful. Are you going to say anything?” he asked me as he put his hand against my cheek.
Say anything? Was I supposed to thank him? I mean I’m sure in his eyes that was a compliment but it my eyes it wasn’t. In my eyes it felt like him trying to make an excuse. My brain blanked out as I looked at him trying to figure out what I was going to say and all I came up with was…
“Can I have my shirt back?”
“You are shy,” he said his smile growing, “It’s ok. You look nice without it.”
I remember thinking about how that wasn’t true. I was scrawny. Being around 5’1 almost 5’2 already at that age my limbs seeming long and lanky. I didn’t look nice without my shirt and I didn’t feel comfortable without it. I just wanted my shirt back and was about to tell him that when he pressed his lips to mine first a small peck and then he deepened it.
I put my hands against his chest trying to push him away push him off me when my door opened again without knocking and then I heard a screech as Louis shoved me backwards into the dresser, my side hitting it as I fell under the force of his shove landing on the ground as he threw my shirt at me.
“What is wrong with you kid?” he asked me as I stared at him wide eyed before I glanced at the door where Karen was standing, “Like I know you have issues but are you serious? Calling me in here to help you find a shirt and then kissing me like that? I’m not gay, thanks. And if I was I would not be ok with someone your age,” Louis hissed at me.
“Your Da has screwed you up you fucking little faggot!” Karen yelled at me, “Hitting on my boyfriend? What the fuck is wrong with you you little butt fucker!!! You know what they do to people who assault and sexually harass people? They send them to jail. You want to go to jail?” she barked continuing to scream at me, “You want to go to jail you little shit? Because that’s where you belong. Come here,” she said grabbing me forcefully by the elbow as I barely managed to pull my shirt over my head and pulling me to my feet.
“Karen, the kids obviously…” Louis started
“NO! he just assaulted you. I don’t care if he’s a kid or not. I’m taking him downstairs and my Dad is going to have a very serious talk with him about this,” Karen said dragging me from the room.
“I don’t want to hear it!” she hissed at me pulling me down the hall to the lift and punching the button, “You’re lucky you’re a kid or I would fucking kick your ass right now. Maybe that’s what you want though. You like people touching your ass? You want it up the butt don’t you? You little shit. No wonder your brothers are so fucking screwed up. You’re probably sleeping with James aren’t you? Touching him. That’s why he wants to be in your bed all the time isn’t it? That’s why you don’t kick him out. You’re molesting your own little brother. Disgusting!” she continued to yell at me.
She wouldn’t even let me speak. He had forced me to kiss him and now she wouldn’t even let me defend myself.
“I didn’t do it!” I finally managed to get out as I started crying.
“I SAW IT! You sick little fuck!” she hissed at me.
“NO, I DIDN”T!” I begged her, “I didn’t do it!”
“Whole family of fucking liars!” she hissed as the lift opened on the 2nd floor and she walked over to the guest room door knocking on it.
“DAD!” Karen screamed, “DAD!”
“I’m down here Karen, what are you shouting about sweety?” Hank said from down in the kitchen as she dragged me down the hallway towards his voice practically throwing me down the stairs at him.
“Woah, Karen you need to calm down. What happened?” he asked her.
“This fucking little faggot kissed my boyfriend. Louis looked absolutely terrified!” she screeched.
“You need to calm down. Louis is a grown man I’m sure he can take care of himself,” Hank said.
“I don’t care. Tell this little brat what happens to rapists maybe that will set him straight. I don’t want to see his fucking face again today,” Karen hissed turning around and stomping back up the stairs.
“I di…” I started to say as Ben came up behind me and punched me in the face.
“That’s for being an asshole. You don’t step out on a contract! NEVER! I didn’t give you up so you could fuck around. You hear me?” he shouted the impact of his fist forcing me to the ground again.
I didn’t have any fight left in me. I didn’t know what to do. I hadn’t kissed him. Was he going to tell Lionel? Was Lionel going to think this was my fault and then make everything that must worse on Friday?
“I DIDN”T I SWEAR I DIDN”T PLEASE I DIDN”T DO IT!! I DIDN”T DO IT!!!” I screamed not even daring to get up off the floor where I had fallen. I knew he probably hit me again.
“You’re a fucking shit,” Ben hissed at me, “You know what? How about we call him? See what he thinks about all of this?” he said turning and grabbing the phone that he started dialing.
“Oh come on Ben it wouldn’t be the first time Louis has gotten handsy and he’s a pretty boy. You can’t really believe it was his fault,” Hank sighed.
“I don’t give a shit. I’m not allowed to touch him but Louis is? That’s bullshit,” Ben said before there was a sound on the phone, “Yeah, Lionel?” he muttered, “Karen, Hanks daughter just brought my nephew down here said she caught him playing tonsil hockey with your oldest grandson. Can I ask… ok, fine, Yeah here he is. It’s for you.” Ben hissed at me as he thrusted the phone into my face.
“Hello?” he asked.
I sighed I didn’t want to talk to him. I didn’t want to cry where he could hear me either so I tried to quiet my sobs but he must have heard me sniffle.
“Oh little one it’s ok. I know it wasn’t you. You would never do that to me because you’re a good boy. I know it wasn’t your fault. There’s no need to be upset,” he said quietly, “Don’t worry about a thing ok? Has anyone else touched you?”
“N---no,” I barely managed to stammer.
“Good,” he said after a minute of silence, “How about you go sit somewhere quietly and I’ll talk to your uncle?”
I stood up as I handed the phone over to my Uncle Ben. I went and sat in the living room trying to calm myself down as I hiccupped. He didn’t blame me. Louis had kissed me and he didn’t blame me but everyone else sure seemed to be. I just wanted it all to go away. And Karen thought I was molesting James? What if she told mum that? Would mum believe her? Or would she believe me?
Even thinking about it made me feel sick to my stomach. How could she think I wanted to do that to him? I would never do that to him. Not ever. I would kill myself before I ever did that to anyone. Did she even realize how bad that made you feel? Even if it didn’t physically hurt how bad it tore you apart inside? How could she even imagine that I would do that? Just thinking that someone could believe I would do that made me so angry and so upset. I started crying again this time silently as I sat on the couch. I still didn’t have any idea where John was and mum wasn’t due home until tomorrow. I felt completely and utterly alone not even my younger siblings around to tell me it was ok. That I wasn’t the person Karen had accused me of being. That they believed me because no one else did. No one that mattered.
I could hear Ben fighting with Lionel over the phone for a while as I sat there thinking to myself until I heard a light knock on the threshold to the living room, “Hey,” Hank said quietly holding a cup, “Can I come in?”
I looked at him and my eyes must have showed my fear, “You’re under a no touch order even if I wanted to I’m not allowed to put as much as a hair on my head near your body. I just brought you hot chocolate. Used to cheer Karen up when she was feeling down and she was your age,” he said setting two cups down on the coffee table before he sat in a recliner to the right of the sofa I was sitting on.
“Thanks,” I managed to say quietly.
“Look I don’t know what happened but, just know that Karen is…she’s sheltered ok? She doesn’t …she see’s what she wants to see. It’s one of the things I love about her,” he told me.
“I didn’t do it,” I said quietly.
“I’m sure you didn’t,” Hank said, “I know we haven’t talked a lot but, you seem like a good kid. I think you’re smart and I think you’ve had things explained to you enough that you wouldn’t cause trouble. I think you understand a lot of things other kids probably don’t. So why don’t you sit here and calm down ok?”
“You don’t think I did it?” I asked him.
“No,” he said, “I don’t think you did it. So just stay here, watch some TV and in a few hours after Karen has cooled off you can head back upstairs.”
“Can I ask you something?” I asked him figuring this was my chance to find out where John was, what was happening to him. If he was ok or not.
“Sure. I can’t tell you I’ll answer but ask away,” Hank said.
“Where is John?” I asked him quietly looking at the carpet under my feet sighing. I really hoped that didn’t make him mad.
I heard him exhale heavily me avoiding looking at him so I didn’t have to see how mad he was, how upset the question made him before he answered, “He’s fine. He’s safe and he’ll be back with you guys in no time. That’s all you need to know ok?”
I nodded my head. I didn’t want to push it. I knew it was a lie. That wherever he was he wasn’t safe but he was wherever Uncle Ben and Hank wanted him to be. He was probably in the house somewhere. Probably downstairs and I knew it from Hanks answer. Because where else would he do those sort of things to John? I sat down there for maybe 20 or 30 minutes before I decided I was hungry making myself a snack from the downstairs fridge and after that the com rang out.
“Dad it Karen, are you there?” I heard her ask and waited for Hank to come back from wherever he was but he didn’t, “Fine you little shit you can come upstairs. I can’t take the screaming anymore so come and calm James down.” She said addressing me.
I sighed but took that permission that I was allowed back upstairs and when the lift opened on the fourth floor I could hear the shierking and screaming all the way down the hall, “I WANT WILLY WHERE IS WILLY HE”S GONE WHY IS HE GONE HE CAN”T BE GONE, HE SAID AS LONG AS WE”RE TOGETHER AND WE”RE NOT TOGETHER WE”RE NOT…” he screamed until he ran out of breath and the floor filled with silence before he let out a wordless shierk. I ran into his bedroom, noticing how quiet the floor was besides his screaming, his screams of panic and terror.
“I’m right here bud,” I said going into his room and hugging him, “I’m right here it’s ok.”
“He was here,” he barely whimpered.
“What makes you think he was here?” I asked him quietly.
“You…you said as long as we-hiccup-were-hiccup to-together it w-would be ok. But you were gone s-s-so i-ittt w-wasn’t ok,” he whimpered, “s-s-ssso he h-had ttt-to be he-he-here.”
“No he wasn’t here. Karen was just mad. That’s all so she sent me downstairs. He wasn’t here I promise. He’s with mum and Da he wasn’t here at all. You were scared he was because I disappeared?” I asked him and he nodded his head.
“H-h-he ww-was going to hur-hurt you and th-th-then c-c-come get me,” he sniffled.
“No, bud. He was never here. We’re safe. We’re ok. I’m ok,” I told him “Shhh…it’s ok. It’s ok.”
I cradled him in my lap rocking him gentle as he finished crying it out. He seemed so terrified. So concerned that I had been hurt. That I had been taken away from him. And Karen thought this was how a kid acted towards someone that was hurting them? She knew nothing about psychology. No, this was a kid that was beyond terrified someone would hurt him if I wasn’t there. Or that someone was hurting me because I wasn’t there. This wasn’t a kid who was scared of me, just of everything else.
“It’s ok buddy,” I said climbing into his bed with him under the covers, “It’s ok. We’re safe.”
“You promise?” he managed to ask me after a few minutes, after he had started to calm down.
“I promise,” I told him.
“Why don’t we think of something good. You have anything good you want to think about?” I asked him.
“You’re safe,” he told me cuddling me.
“Besides me. How about we play a game, if you could choose anyone to go in your safe castle with you besides me, who would you choose?” I asked him.
“I’m tired I think,” he told me.
“I know but answer the question. Think hard about it,” I told him.
He was silent for a minute or two with his eyes closed as I ran my hand through his hair trying to soothe him, trying to make him feel safe and loved. After a minute he sighed.
“Robby,” he told me.
I smiled, “Who is Robby?”
“He’s my friend. You met him once. On the playground,” he notified me.
I thought hard to recall. A little boy with brown hair and dark eyes. I remembered that, I did I remembered him.
“Why Robby?” I asked him.
“Because I’m going to marry him,” he told me.
I had to stifle my own laughter. I didn’t want to explain to him that six year olds couldn’t get married let alone get into the discussion of why men couldn’t marry other men but it was a cute answer. I thought about it for a second and smiled into the crown of his head before I kissed it, “Ok bud whatever you say.”
“Will you cuddle with me?” he asked me sleepily and at that I did laugh a little bit.
“We are,” I pointed out.
“Ok,” he said yawning, “I love him though. Robby. I mean I love you too but I love you like a brother and I love him different so I’m going to marry him.”
“How about you just close your eyes and we’ll nap ok?” I asked him.
“That sounds…” he trailed off his speech slowing down, “nice.” And with that he let out a big sigh and his whole body relaxed against mine as he started to drift off to sleep.