6 months later



Keone was impatient today.  There’d been some trouble collecting his money; in fact, there seemed to be nothing but trouble nowadays.  He had yet another meeting with some group or other, and the negotiations were proving very unsatisfactory for him.  Fucking city did him no favours at all!


“Take me into the city,” said Reven.  He sat curled up in an old armchair, in Keone’s sparse little apartment.  “Take me with you.”


“Fuck off!”  Keone laughed at him, and reached for his coat.  “You think I don’t know what you’re after?”


“Nothing,” said Reven, softly.  His voice was slower now – his face smooth with the absence of a child’s emotions and hopes.  His eyes showed an age that was strangely at odds with his young body.  “After all, that’s what you tell me I should expect, isn’t it?”


Keone shook his head, irritated.  “Don’t get ideas, sweet ass.  You can’t see ‘em.  You can’t go there any more.  Not to that school, not to that park, not to anywhere the family is!  Remember?  You were the kid who confessed to the local thefts – you were the kid who said you’d befriended those sweet, innocent children, just to get close to their family and to rob them.  You were the kid who brought in the gold tie clip, proof of the things you’d taken from them…”


“Fucker!” snapped Reven, but his protest was listless.  It wasn’t as if Keone hadn’t tormented him about it before.  Many times.


“Sure,” sighed Keone.  For once, he didn’t seem to gloat as much as usual.  He was as listless as Reven himself about it.  “And this fucker was the guy who got you out on bail on the pretext of being some long-lost relative, and then helped you skip the city, most conveniently.  But you show your sweet ass back there and someone will slam you back in jail as fast as I can roll a joint.”


“I just wanted to see they’re OK…” Reven didn’t think he’d spoken aloud.  He thought he’d trained himself out of that nowadays.  Not many people were bothered to listen to him, at the best of times.


Keone shrugged.  Fucked if he was bothered what the kid did.  Except that he’d been a good little earner for him over the last few months.  He had a look about him that excited the punters – a thin, fragile beauty, yet still a boy’s beauty.  Slim, yet muscled; very graceful in his movements.  And that hair, so black and long and soft – that was a real find!  They liked to touch him – to cut him.  To watch him sigh and sob. To have him touch them.  Keone had hopes that he’d get the boy to bend over a little more readily in the future; there was a hell of a lot more money to be earned from that.


But for now, of course, he was a valuable part of the current deal.


“I’m going away,” he said, abruptly.  Reven didn’t turn his head, but he did seem to listen more closely.  “This patch is turning bad for me now – I can’t make it work for me.  I’ve got contacts upstate, and I’m going there.”  He coughed.  “Like, I don’t bother telling the other kids, they can fend for themselves.  They’ll soon fix up with others.  But you, sweet ass…”


He took hold of the boy’s chin and tilted it up to look into his eyes.  So wide; so dark, like swimming in chocolate.  “The new guy wants you, boy.  Reven.  I’ve told him so much about you that he wants to take you in – to give you a job with their organisation.  You’ll do OK if you do what you’re told.”


“Like I always do…” murmured Reven.


“Like fuck you do.”  Keone sighed again.  He dropped his hold on Reven’s face; turned away.  “The guy’s name is Chad, OK?  You keep your mouth shut and your ass ready for business, and maybe he won’t slap you around.”


“He slap you around?” asked Reven, curiously.


Keone flushed, angrily.  “None of your fucking business!  You’re a whore, sweet ass, and nothing more!  That’s all you’re worth, and you better remember it!  Just a card in the deck when I sell up here.  No more mixing with these cute kids – with these rich families.  No more simpering little girlfriend – no jock groping you in the hallways.  You think I don’t know what you got up to with them?”


Reven stared back at him, in challenge.  “I fucking know you don’t!” he hissed back.  “You don’t know anything about them – or me!  So back off!  We made a deal – you left ‘em alone, and you got me!  You fuck that up and –“


“OK, OK,” growled Keone.  “Fucking drama queen.  I knew there was a damned good reason I was leaving.  Get away from all the shit you give me.”  He threw a sideways glance at Reven.  “They’re OK,” he said, shortly.  Fucking stupid thing, thinking he owed this piece of ass anything at all! “Right?  I saw ‘em a while back.  Both at that plush school – both walking home together, laughing.”


Reven laughed, then.  It was a contrast to his usual ugly, harsh sound.  More like his laugh as a child – his very musical, happy laugh.


“It’s good you’re going, Keone.  Time for us all to move on, right?”


Keone looked at him, warily.  Boy never did drugs – else he’d think he was high on something.  “You sickening for something, sweet ass?  I can’t have you off work now, not at the moment –“


“No,” said Reven.  “I’m not sickening for anything.  Just happy, right?  Happy there are other people not stuck in this shit hole like me.  Happy there are other people who don’t have to put up with my life.”


He heard Keone slamming the door behind him, in a fit of bad temper.


Happy I got to look after them, after all, he thought.  One way or another.