Never once in his life had Henry thought it’d be better not to speak, because there wasn’t ever anything Henry wanted to say that shouldn’t be said. Everything came out with a purpose, and Henry didn’t have any targets. He sprayed bullets indiscriminately, just with the intent to kill.
But for once, he thought, he’d better be careful.
He didn’t want to put any reason behind it. If he screwed his eyes shut hard enough and rubbed his hands over his sun-marred cheeks to rawness, he’d forget he was ever supposed to know why he figured he should be quiet. He focused on the feeling of the wood frames under his ass, holding together some shitty old corduroy couch he sat on.
“Well.” Patrick’s voice came from above Henry. He was too good to sit. Henry would’ve said that. He kept his jaws shut tight.
Patrick was catching his breath.
“I didn’t mean to make it a chase, but you can’t just run like that.”
Henry could always run. He’d send the dirt flying from under his heels when he took off if it meant he could get away fast enough. Something about the grime always clinging to the frayed ends of Patrick’s clothes smelled more like a headache when he made Henry feel like he could run. Something deep in Henry’s gut twisted in visceral rejection at the thought of punching any more of that filthy stink out. Like he was gonna throw up.
“You’re makin’ me think you wanted me to follow you in here, Hen. What’s up?”
Henry thought he might grind his teeth down, like a stupid gerbil to keep its front teeth from growing into its lip. His hands were tired from the rubbing, but if he stopped he might start thinking too much, which would be bad news for a fool who wouldn’t say a single word of it.
Patrick took a step towards him, Henry flinching in his spot. Fucking fool who won’t say anything, ‘cus there wasn’t a single thing he could garble out of his maw to make Patrick go away. It was too late for that now. He could still feel Patrick’s mouth on his, and couldn’t shake the metallic smell of what Patrick wouldn’t clean off his fingerskin from his nose.
Henry made a grab for the edge of the couch cushion when he felt a surge of red tear straight through the middle of his soul. His body wasn’t built for this kind of feeling.
Henry had let the anger and fear rip right through his putty flesh, which made him tighten his muscles in defense. He was hardening so fast on the inside, his eyeballs could’ve popped right out of his head. Patrick took another step.
A half-hour ago, Henry made off like a fat buck with his white tail flagged, seconds after Patrick kissed him, just when he was feeling like nothing could top the humiliation of letting the kiss happen in the first place. He wouldn’t admit to himself again that he uttered Patrick’s name before they mashed faces like a couple of itchy sweethearts.
He had called—whimpered—“Patrick”, like some kind of pussy-boy, when Vic and Belch were out of earshot.
They shouldn’t have left him alone. They wouldn’t have let this happen. When Henry made a mistake, which was rare, Belch or Victor always knew exactly how to reorient the situation and make it workable again.
He was gonna get sick from the pervasive memory, a week ago, of Patrick’s reaching hand, let me show you something, strobing relentlessly behind the skin of his eyelids. That day, that day. The sun had been eating away at the skin on the backs of his shoulders that poked out from the wife-beater wrinkling over his hunched stomach. He breathed in shallow gasps at the override in his brain that told him to stay right there in that spot and sit still, and let Hockstetter give him a helping of goosebumps and cold sweat. And a hand on the front of his pants.
The same half-hour ago, Patrick ran after him, because of course he fucking would.
Knowing Butch was on-duty and out of the house, Henry fled to the garage, only hearing how Patrick slowed down when the gravel underneath his boots gave way to concrete.
“Don’t hurt yourself, Henry!”
He was too late. Henry plastered himself to the back of the couch, and there he ripped more pieces of himself apart right in front of him. Right in front of Patrick. And Patrick was watching him, with that glassy look in his eyes, the same look Henry would make when he stared in the mirror some days and tugged himself off. A brimming, blissed-out look that knew what was coming.