Wednesday, March 21, 2018

(41) I am what I am


“What happened then Blair?” Jack asked.

“I don’t remember. Well, a bit I remember now, but I didn’t then. I panicked. It reminded me of being tied up by my stepfather before he’d…he’d…”

“We’re going to stop now,” Quinn said firmly as he put his arm around me.

“No, please, I can do this. I have to. If I don’t tell you now I don’t know if I ever can.”

“It’s up to you, Blair. I think we know what happened with the two men that were killed last, or can figure it out, except for why you were in that part of town in the first place.”

I smiled wanly. “After what happened with Doctor Freer and then that man all on the same day, I had the most horrible nightmare I’d ever had the next night.” I turned to look at Quinn and saw the sympathy in his eyes and was afraid I’d loose it again so I hurried on. “I knew I couldn’t sleep but I didn’t want to go to a club again, so I just walked and walked and then these to punks showed up and they were going to assault me and I had my mace and I sprayed them and ran, and ran.”

“You’re stepfather must have been keeping very close tabs on you,” Jack said as he closed his notebook. He looked at Quinn, frowning. “I suspect you were real lucky he didn’t come after you next.”

“He might have, if Blair hadn’t run,” Quinn told him. He turned to me. “Somehow he lost you when you did that, probably because he didn’t expect it.”

“Or maybe he didn’t even know I had, if he had to get back home because of his job.”

Jack nodded. “That makes sense. All the murders happened on Friday and Saturday. If he flew here because somehow he’d finally located you, maybe followed you intending to bring you back home with him when he found a safe place to grab you, and saw what happened with the doctor. He could have misread that.”

“He…he said he killed them to show me I belonged to him and no one else.” I stared down at my hands. “I didn’t even know. He was killing them and I didn’t even know it was happening.”

“I’m sure he’d have told you in great detail once he was finished ‘punishing’ you,” Quinn growled angrily.

“I have not doubt of that,” Jack agreed. “All right, Blair, unless there’s anything else you want us to know about I think it’s time for Quinn to take you home, or maybe out for a good stiff drink.” He chuckled when Quinn shot him a look of surprise. “So I’m not blind, I can tell you…Okay, maybe I’d better start typing up my notes before I stick my foot in my mouth any deeper. Now get out of here.”

Quinn smiled as he stood up, waiting for me as I put on my jacket. Then we did as Jack suggested—went out for a good stiff drink.

Monday, March 19, 2018

(40) I am what I am


“I don’t know if I can do this.” I know I must have looked panicked as I glanced between Quinn and Jack.

We, Quinn and I, had been back for a week. Bonnie had insisted I stay with her in my old room despite the fact that she now knows I’m male. As I had nowhere else to go I said I would, but only until I found a place of my own. I was also back working at the diner and of course Quinn had his job to do. It never ended he told me in a moment of frustration, when he’d had to cancel our first, well date I guess, because of a new case. A date, a real, honest to God date. Something I’d never done before. Well, I can wait. I will wait. Because it will be worth it when it actually happens.

Anyway, he said he had to wrap up the files on the murders my stepfather had committed and that meant he and his partner needed to know the extent of my involvement.

Which led to my sitting across the desk from them in one of the interrogation rooms at the station house Quinn worked out of.

Quinn laid his hand over mine for a moment. Then I guess he realized where he was because he quickly moved it away as he said, “The first man, the one from the club, he picked you up?”

I closed my eyes and nodded. “I was, well maybe we should start with Doctor Freer, because that’s where it all began I think.”

“All right,” Jack said and I knew he was taking notes.

“I went for a session. I was going to tell him it was the last one. I didn’t get the chance to. He kept; he wanted me to describe what I thought my first sexual experience would be like, in detail, because he thought I was a virgin. He kept pushing and pushing and touching me and finally I got so angry I began yelling at him. He made a grab for me and tore my blouse. Not here,” I touched my chest, “just the sleeve but that was enough. I grabbed my things and ran. When I got back to Bonnie’s—well I glanced in the mirror and I looked like someone had tried to assault me and I guess that’s what he did.”

“You’re stepfather must have been following you by that time. if he knew, or thought he knew, what had happened,” Quinn pointed out.

“I…yes I suppose so since he killed him. Anyway, Bonnie and I went out to supper like we sometimes did so we didn’t have to cook, but that didn’t really help. I was still so tense I had to go somewhere so that I could unwind. And as me, not, well you know. Not after that creep tried what he did.”

This time, when Quinn took my hand because I was shaking so badly, he didn’t let it go. “And that’s where you met Mr. Ward,” he said softly.

“Yes,” I whispered. “He was nice, sort of I guess. Nice enough that when he made it clear he wanted me, I went along with it. When we got to that apartment and he told me that he liked to be restrained and…and I did it, restrained him…” I shook my head, looking down at my hand entwined in Quinn’s, trying to breathe.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Guardian Angels - If It's Fated… (9)

Tim looked down when he felt a small hand tug his and smiled at the little girl. Of all the children who came to the library, she was one of his favorites. Her name was Cherie Lewis and she was an avid reader, well above her grade level.
"Mr Tim," Cherie said, when she had his attention, "do you have 'The Secret Garden'?"
"Of course." He led her to the right shelf and took the book out, handing it to her. "How did you hear about this one?"
"Umm, Mrs Norton said our garden reminded her of the story sort of, because it's all wild and stuff."
Tim knew Mrs Norton was Cherie's nanny, since her mother was no longer around. Why? He had no idea. He just knew from what Cherie had told him that she lived with her father. Mrs Norton was there to watch her after school and when Mr Lewis had to go out of town as part of his job.
He glanced over at Mrs Norton now. She was sitting in one of the few comfortable chairs, her nose buried in whatever book she was reading. As if she felt his gaze, she looked up and smiled, the light coming in the window making her white hair look almost like a halo around her kindly face. 
Turning his attention back to Cherie, Tim asked, "Have you finished 'Where the Sidewalk Ends'?"
"Yeah. It was silly funny but good. I brought it back today." Hugging 'The Secret Garden' to her chest, she told him, "Now I'm going to find more books, so I have a lot to read this weekend."
He smiled as he watched her dash off. I remember being that excited about reading when I was her age, but for me it was a defense mechanism. For a second he frowned before pushing that to the back of his mind. He had other more pleasant things to think about, like him and Dom going museum hopping on Sunday. All two of them. He chuckled. But hey, it is something to do and with a very nice new friend. 

* * * *

"I never did get modern art," Dom said, while tilting his head, trying to make heads and tails of the painting.
Tim chuckled. "I'm not sure it's supposed to make sense. It's a"—he peered at the sign below the painting—"a kinetic abstraction."
"Whatever." Dom shrugged. "Let's go look at the American artists' gallery."
They did, which made Dom a happy man. "This"—he swept his arm around—"this is art."
"If you say so," Tim muttered.
Dom chuckled. "I just know..."
"What you like, and it doesn't count if it was done after nineteen-thirty."
Dom grinned, flipping him off, and they moved on to some of the other galleries. By the time one o'clock rolled around, they decided it was time to leave and hit up the natural history museum, after stopping for something to eat. Instead of waiting in line to be seated at one of the local restaurants, since it was both a Sunday and lunchtime, they decided on carryout from a small deli. Juggling sandwiches and coffee in gloved hands while they walked proved challenging, but they were up to the task and managed to make it to the museum without a major disaster.
"Warmth, heat," Dom muttered, once they were inside.
"I bet you're a Southerner—or a Californian," Tim said with a grin.
"Yep." Dom replied succinctly, as he took off his coat. "Where to first?" he added, hoping to deflect any more personal questions from Tim.
It must have worked because Tim replied, "Straight ahead to the dinosaurs. From there, we wander."
They were halfway through the cavernous room, staring in awe at the huge Apatosaurus, when Dom heard a child's voice call out, "Mr Tim! Mr Tim!" A girl he figured was maybe seven or eight darted into view, her curly blonde hair flying loosely around an elfin face.
"A friend of yours?" Dom asked in amusement.
"You bet." Tim held out one hand to bring her to a halt. "Dom, this is Cherie Lewis, Cherie, meet my friend, Dom."
"I thought Shari Lewis was a bit older," Dom said, grinning. He looked down at Cherie, asking, "Where's Lamb Chop?"
Cherie looked up at him, then at Tim, saying, "He's silly."
"Yeah, he is," Tim agreed.
At that moment a casually dressed, average-looking blond man came over to where they were standing. "Cherie," he admonished, "how many times have I told you not to bother strangers?"
"But Daddy, Mr Tim isn't a stranger."
"Ah, so this is the infamous librarian. Well, one of you is," he added.
"That would be me." Tim held out his hand shyly. "Tim Chandler."
"Richard Lewis," he replied, shaking Tim's hand briefly. "Cherie, we should get going."
"But, Daddy… Can't we stay a little more? I haven't seen everything yet."
Richard sighed. "All right. Half an hour and then we go home."
"Yay!" Cherie grabbed Tim's hand, pulling him toward another dinosaur exhibit. "Do you have grownup books about these?"
 "We sure do. Next time you're at the library, I'll show you where to find them."

Saturday, March 17, 2018

(39) I am what I am

~ Quinn ~

A week after the death of Blair’s stepfather we were back home.

The police in Blair’s birth city were none to happy with the idea that it took a cop from out of town to deal with the beast in their midst. And they were even less happy with the fact that it was Blair that killed him, even though we both told them he did it to save our lives.

Blair spent a few hours in the emergency room while the doctors tended to the damage done to his back and thighs, coming out with several sets of stitches which were needed to close the wounds inflicted by the belt buckle. When they set him free, the police took over, interviewing us separately about what had gone down. Once they were satisfied, they let me stay with him as he told them about the murders his father had confessed to. I was able to verify the facts of his story and add the details that Blair was unaware of. Until his father had told him about them, Blair had not known about the deaths of Doctor Freer and the two punks who had tried to assault him. He accepted the information stoically but I knew that he was taking it all to heart and believed that he was partially responsible for what his stepfather had done.

I intended to disabuse him of that idea if it took the rest of our lives together—assuming of course that we would have a life together. That discussion was yet to come and I wasn’t going to press for it until I knew he was ready.

We stayed for the funeral only because it gave Blair the final closure he needed. And then we headed home.

When we arrived back in the city, Blair was on tenterhooks as the cab dropped us off at the diner. He knew, because I’d told him, that Bonnie was now aware of who, or I guess what he really was, and he was scared stiff that she wouldn’t accept him now.

I kept my arm around his shoulders as we walked through the door, feeling his tension. Bonnie turned from the customer she was waiting on see who had come in. It took her two seconds to cross the room and sweep Blair into a huge hug. I could see him git his teeth even as his face lit up. She saw it too and broke away but didn’t let loose of his arms as she looked him over carefully.

“Who hurt you and did someone take care of them?” She shot me a look at the last bit and I nodded.

“I… I’ll tell you later. I mean if you…if that’s all right,” Blair stuttered out.

“Sweetie, you don’t have to tell me anything if you don’t want to. I’m just glad to have you back here and one piece. You scared me out a year’s growth when you disappeared like that?”

“Only a year?” he joked as he visibly relaxed.

“Well, okay, two years,” Bonnie admitted with a laugh. “Now both of you get over here because I doubt the nuts they serve on the plane were enough to keep even a bird alive.” She didn’t let go of Blair’s hand until he had gingerly settled down in the booth. When I leaned over to remind him to take his pills, Bonnie was gone and back in a flash with a cold glass of water. She watched and waited until he’d taken them before going back to her other customers, promising to return to take our orders, on the house, as soon as possible.

I started to slide into the seat across from him but he shook his head. Since I was fairly sure he didn’t mean that I should leave, I sat down beside him.

“She was glad to see me,” he said, and he sounded both surprised and relieved.

“Of course she was, baby, She cares about you and she really doesn’t give a damn that you turned out to be a man and not the woman she thought you were. It’s you she likes, not the external but what’s inside.”

“Which is still pretty messed up,” he confessed softly.

“But we’re going to work on that.” I wrapped my arm around him until he was pressed to my side.

He looked up at me. “Are we?”

“Yes. We are. Emphasis on the ‘we’.”

He let out a small sigh as he leaned back against my shoulder and we waited for Bonnie to come back.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

(38) I am what I am


I heard Quinn’s voice through a haze of pain and thought I was imagining it. Then I felt a hand on my neck, touching me gently and I knew it was real.

I was just about to respond when I heard my stepfather let out a string of curses. Then Quinn’s hand left me. I felt bereft at its loss; and then terrified when the sound of fighting filled the room.

It took all my strength to move but I had to do something. I knew my stepfather. He was insane when he was angry, and being interrupted while he was punishing me would have had him seeing red. Biting down against the flaring pain I grabbed the bedpost and stood. They were fighting tooth and nail and there was nothing I could do to stop my stepfather unless I could find something to use as a weapon. Then I saw it—Quinn’s gun on the floor just inches from my feet.

I bent to pick it up and it felt as if my back was being torn apart. But I couldn’t let my stepfather win. I couldn’t. Gripping it tightly in one hand I stood just in time to see the bastard hit Quinn hard on the side of his head. Without a thought except for my need to save Quinn, I pointed the gun and fired.

Blood flew everywhere and I just about gagged as I saw the top of the bastard’s head explode as he fell backwards.

Dropping the gun, I staggered across to fall on my knees beside Quinn. His eyes were glazed at first but they cleared slowly and he looked up at me. “You did it, baby,” he murmured, lifting his hand to touch my cheek.

“We did it,” I whispered back and then the tears came.

“Oh, Blair, damn.” Quinn sat up, gathering me so gently into his arms.

I wrapped my arms around him and we stayed that way for a long time, him sitting, me still kneeling, my face buried in his shoulder as I sobbed out my relief that it was over.

Finally he got up, lifting me with him to carry me into the bathroom. As we passed my stepfather’s body I looked down at the beast who had made my life hell for so long and felt nothing but cold hatred and a strange joy. I took me a moment to understand that the joy came from knowing that at last I was free. Free to be me.