Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Prince and I - 17

We didn’t wake up with the sun. In fact from a guesstimate it was closer to ten. I was fuzzy at best so it took me a minute to realize something was wrapped tightly around me, and it wasn’t my jacket. Or at least not only my jacket. Conner seemed to be trying to meld his body to mine even through all our clothes as he nuzzled my neck.

“Whoa up,” I said softly.

When I realized he was still asleep I shook him. His eyes flew open, he stared at me fearfully. Then awareness hit him. I expected him to move away, so when he didn’t I started to. Apparently he had other ideas because he wouldn’t let me, at least not until he planted a rather intense kiss on my lips. Then he grinned and sat up.

I shook my head and sat up too. “What was that all about?”

“In my dream I kissed you and decided it had to be an omen that I was supposed to. So I did.”

“And if you’d dreamed you were supposed to fuck me?”

“Oh I did that too but I figured it would be a bit forward right now.”

“Damn, Connor.” I grinned as I returned the kiss, just to show him two could play the game. It wasn’t anything fantastic. It’s hard to be fantastic when nature calls and you can hear people close by on the creek path. But it wasn’t bad either. I decided then and there that given the chance I might try to make the rest of his dream come true—if and when the chance arose.

I started to stand. He dragged me down, pointing up. I instantly got the message when I saw two birds circling high in the sky. We both knew it was unlikely they were anything to worry about but still…

“How are we going to get out of here unnoticed?”

I shook my head. “Good question, but we can’t spend all day here. I guess we take our chances and stay very aware of everyone around us.” I crouched when he moved off the plastic to roll it up, cramming it into my backpack. “First thing we do is wait until no one’s on the path then get our asses out of here.”

It took a few minutes until that happened. Then we crossed the creek, hopping from rock to rock, and onto the path. We headed toward downtown after we both took the opportunity to relieve ourselves in the darkness under one of the bridges. By the time we got to the ramp that would take us close to the Mall we were tense, spending as much time looking over our shoulders as ahead of us.

“At least it’s lunch hour so there’s lots of people,” Connor said quietly when we got onto the sidewalk close to Larimer.

“And we can get somewhere safe from here and get something to eat.” We headed to the RTD bus station a couple of blocks away. It had the advantage of being underground and usually full of a wide variety of people, so we wouldn’t stand out too badly. It also had a kiosk which sold over-priced wrapped sandwiches. I counted my change, then Connor’s when he added what he had to mine, and we decided to buy a sandwich and a coke to split between us. Then we sat down on one of the round stone benches to eat before hitting up the restroom.

As we came back into the main part of the station Connor wanted to know what we’d do now. “Wait until dark,” I told him which didn’t exactly excite him from the expression on his face. He stopped, looking at the signage listing all the buses that used the station. Then his face sort of lit up, if you can call a small half smile ‘lighting up’.

“If we can spange enough we can go to where my uncle’s staying.”

“I thought…”

“I don’t particularly want to but right now it would be safer.”

“Good point, but we don’t have to bus it. I have Arthur’s number and I have the feeling he’d be real happy to pick you up right about now.”

“And you.”

“Maybe not. After all I didn’t exactly let him know I found you long before now.”

Connor smirked. “He doesn’t have to know that, now does he.”

“True.” I took out the envelope with the number on it and we went in search of a public phone.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Prince and I - 16

Connor nodded, looking around. Then he hissed in a breath. “I think I know how they’re finding me.”


“The smaller man is elven too. He may have power to see through the eyes of certain birds.”

“Oh boy.” I couldn’t help looking up, even though it was too dark to see if any were flying around overhead. “What kind of birds?”

He thought about it. “Probably ones without night vision since both attempts happened in daylight.”

“Good. That means we’re safe from them for the moment at least.” I nodded when he touched my arm and pointed. “Could work.”

We crossed to a thick stand of trees and bushes against the wall on the far side of the creek from the path. Between them and the wall was a small empty patch. It was obvious we weren’t the first people to find it, but from the bit of grass making its way through the dirt I figured no one had for a while at least. I knelt and immediately got up again. The ground was damp enough to leave wet spots on the knees of my jeans. Luckily I came prepared. I dug a thin sheet of tightly folded plastic from my backpack.

“Is there anything you don’t have in there?” Connor sounded amused.

“Yeah, food unfortunately,” I grumbled as I spread out the plastic. It had been a while since we’d eaten anything and my stomach was protesting—but I’m used to that. I felt him tap my shoulder. When I turned to look he handed me a hotdog. He had another one which he took a bite out of, wrinkling his nose, muttering, ‘Hot’.

“Spicy I gather.” I opened the bun on mine to check then told him we could trade which he did willingly. “How long have you had these?” I asked as I scarfed mine down.

“Remember the cart we passed? Well, umm, the two guys who ordered them were talking and looking at something across the street so I sort of, umm…”

“No wonder you took off so fast. And you were upset when I copped the tip off that table.”

He shrugged and smiled as he sat down. “In a book at the house I read something about ‘Needs must…’ I guess it’s true.”

I settled down beside him, wiping my fingers off on a patch of grass, then lay back, using my pack as a makeshift pillow. He sat there looking at me until I lifted an eyebrow in question.

“Can we, what did you call it, spoon?”

“Sure, come here.” I shifted and he curled up next to me, snuggling close when I wrapped my arms around him, his head on my shoulder. It felt kind of good to be holding someone, even if it was just to keep warm and dry since the plastic wasn’t all that wide. That was my last thought as I fell asleep.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Prince and I - 15

Once again Connor surprised me, inching closer to ask, “Where are you sensitive?”

“Umm, places you’re not going to find out about right now, if ever. This isn’t the time or the place.”

He stared at me for a long moment, his look, if I had to describe it, both knowing and pensive. “But there will be a time and place.” His words brushed over me like a sensual touch and I shivered.

“Yeah, maybe,” I growled, needing to break away from whatever was happening.

“For now," he said, "we should get some sleep.”

“Not here though. We don’t want the construction workers finding us.” Or anyone else. I immediately asked, “How are those men finding you when your uncle can’t?”

“I wish I knew.” He chewed his lip.

“Would you be safer if you went back to your uncle? Okay, that was a stupid question. Of course you would.”

“Perhaps, perhaps not.” He bounced to his feet, dousing the light from the amulet. “You’re right, we should get out of here.”

I was up, my pack over one shoulder, seconds later. “Are your ‘friends’ around somewhere?”

“No, but I think we should go. Until I figure out how they are finding me nowhere is safe for long.”

“We were okay last night,” I pointed out once we were in the alley.

“True, and I was—until the first time they almost caught me. What changed then?”

“Now that I wouldn’t know. Maybe they’re monitoring surveillance cameras; lots of places have them outside their businesses, like banks and what have you.”

“Would that be possible?”

I shrugged. “Not sure how they’d gain access.”

We walked in silence back to the creek path, lost in our own thoughts. I realized I believed his story, as strange as it was. I also discovered I was feeling very protective of him—which to my mind made no sense. After all he was the one who probably had ‘powers’, if the games I used to play way back where were any indication. “I’m living in an episode of D&D,” I muttered.

Connor stopped to look at me. “D and D?”

“It’s a game with all sorts of mythical creatures.”

“I’m not mythical,” he pointed out rather sourly.

“I’m getting that, but you have to admit you’re not exactly a run of the mill human either.”

“Because I’m not human.”

“Exactly.” I glanced along the path. “We’d better find a safe place to sleep. Somewhere where no one will see us even during the day because I’ve got the feeling we’re tired enough we won’t be getting up with the sun this time. At least there’s no cameras along here.”

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Prince and I - 14

“An elven prince, or ernil in our language.” Connor stopped short, looking at me cautiously. “What makes you think the good guys, as you put it, are looking for me? I mean I suppose they are, or my uncle is, but if he is searching I haven’t felt him.”

“That thing would warn you?”

He shook his head then pulled up his sleeve. There was a narrow silver band around his arm just above his elbow.

“I suppose that glows too.”

“No, but it will get warm if he’s near, just as the amulet does when his enemies are close by.”

I had a sudden thought. I guess I wasn’t hiding it too well because he asked what was wrong.

“Look, you’re probably going to kill me, or run away as far and as fast as you can…” I began.


“Let me ask you something first. What does your uncle look like, and does he have the same kind of band?”

“He does. As for what he looks like, he’s a little taller than me with darker blond hair and paler gray-green eyes.”

“Then it wasn’t him.”

Connor stared at me. “Who wasn’t him?”

“This is where you get pissed. A man caught me shoplifting. He was maybe thirty-five or forty, short dark hair…” I tried to remember anything else about his face. “Thin lips and dark blue eyes. He wore a business suit. But that’s neither here nor there. Like I said he caught me but instead of turning me over to the cops he told me he’d let me go if I’d do something for him. Look for you. He gave me two pictures.” I pulled them out of my pocket to hand to Connor. “I haven’t called him. I thought maybe you ran away because you were being abused or something and I wasn’t about to turn you over to him and his ‘friend’ which was what he called your uncle—if it was your uncle he was talking about—if he wasn’t working for the other side or whatever…” I ran out of steam then and shut up.

For a minute Connor looked stunned. Then he began to laugh. I looked at him as if he was crazy. But then I’d sort of been thinking that all along anyway, since he began telling me his story.

Finally he calmed down. “Now I know why I was drawn to you.” He touched the photos. “My uncle must have sent him to find me, or find someone who could. The pictures have a mild enchantment on them attuned to me, to make me trust whoever had them. I suppose they thought whoever that was would do what you said and call him the minute they spotted me.”

“Who is he?”

“Our liaison here, Arthur Confort. He and my father were friends until my father was killed. Now he and Uncle Sadron are working to carry out what my father began, to form an alliance to help both of our worlds.”

“And you came along for the ride?” I said somewhat sarcastically. The strange thing was even as I said it I realized that---incredibly---I was beginning to believe him.

“As I’m the heir to the throne when my uncle dies, he thought it would be a good idea for me to learn about this world first hand.” Connor shook his head. “Of course his idea of my ‘learning’ was to keep me at the house we’re using, reading books, watching television. Anything that would teach me about this world without my having to actually meet people, other than the servants.”

“So you took things in your own hands.”

Connor nodded. “What else could I do?”

Leaning back against the wall I studied him again. “Pointed ears?”

With a snort he shook his head. “Not like in your fairy tales.” He pulled back his hair to show me.

I ran my finger over one of my ears and then, before he could stop me, over his, feeling the angle which made them just barely pointed. He drew in a sharp breath, pulling away from my touch. Frowning, I asked what was wrong.

“They’re very… sensitive.”

Call me dumb but it took me a minute to get what he meant, even though he’d turned bright pink. Then I took a quick glance down to his crotch and said, teasing, “I’ll have to remember for the future.”

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Prince and I - 13

Once we were safely inside we found a dark corner in what had probably been a storage area of the original building.

“Now talk.”

Connor nodded. “I don’t know where to start.”

“Maybe with why you really left home, or perhaps who those men were. Or both.”

As dark as it was I could barely see him when he got up and began to pace, but I could hear him, his footsteps on the rubble-strewn floor and his voice, tense with emotion.

“The men work for… someone who’s an enemy of the man who brought me here. Before you ask that man isn’t my father despite what I told you. My father’s dead. I’m that man’s ward.” He paused for a minute. “He’s nice enough but as I said, controlling. He wants to be certain nothing happens to me.”

I snorted. “This sounds like some fairytale where the evil lord wants to kidnap the prince and make him do… whatever.”

“It does sort of, I know.”

“So what are you, the heir to a fortune or something? Poor little rich boy?”

Connor stopped pacing. I had the feeling he was looking at me, or would have been if there’d been any light. “No fortune, not the way you’re thinking.”

“Then what?”

“You won’t believe me.” There was a soft chuckle. “You were closer than you thought when you said it sounded like a tale about fairies. Only…” Again he paused and I heard him walk away then stop. “You asked where I was from, when we first met.”

“Yeah I did, and you said you’re not from around here. Are you visiting from back east or overseas or something?”

He blew out a long breath. “Further away than that.”

I laughed. “Got it, you’re an alien sent to this planet to take us over.”

“Just to learn about you, and not from another planet.”

“Okay Connor, the joke’s gone far enough! Now how about you tell me what’s really going on with you? I’ve heard about kids who are abused and make up a story as a way of coping. Is that what you’ve done?”

He walked back, sitting down beside me before he replied. “I’ve never been abused; no one would dare do that to me.”

“Someone tried in case you forgot. Those guys in the alley you told me about. Or was that just a story too.”

Sighing, he said, “It was the same two men who were chasing us. That time they almost caught me.”

“They came pretty damned close this time too, Connor.”

Out of the blue—well sort of I guess—he asked, “Richie, do you believe in magic?”

“Eh, some of the things Criss Angel pulls off come pretty close to making me believe. Why?”

I heard a rustling sound. Suddenly there was a soft glow—sort of like from a firefly was the closest I could think of—but brighter. I could see it came from something he was holding in his hand. “Cute light, where’d you get it?”

“It’s an amulet. I took it when I ran from my… well you’d call him a king, our word for him is aran. It’s supposed to protect me.”

“Not doing too good a job of it, is it?” I replied snarkily, trying to take in what he was telling me while wondering just what drugs he was on.

“Because it is not attuned to me. It belongs to the king. He’s my uncle so we share the same bloodline but for me the match isn’t perfect. And…” By the light I could see the scowl on his face, “it has protected me sort of. It warns me when my enemies are near, just not soon enough.”

“You really believe all this bullshit don’t you?”

“It’s the truth!”

“Uh huh, so you’re some fairy prince who stole a magical amulet, ran away, and now the good guys and the bad guys are hunting you.”

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Prince and I - 12

We spent the rest of the afternoon just being lazy, something I for one rarely did. I probably wouldn’t have even then if I hadn’t wanted to probe a bit more into Connor’s life. Unfortunately he was very good at fending off my questions by asking ones of his own, mainly about the people we saw around the mall. You would have thought he was from another planet or something, as little as he seemed to know about things.

I was in the middle of explaining the difference in bikes, since we’d seen several passing by on the path, when he suddenly stiffened. I glanced around, wondering what had caught his attention. I didn’t see anyone out of the ordinary at first so I turned to ask him what was wrong. He wasn’t there. Just that fast he’d vanished.

“Shit and double shit,” I growled, jumping to my feet. I had to figure he’d headed down to the creek and was about to go in that direction when two men dashed across the busy street, coming in my direction. One of them was huge, probably six two or three and bulked. The other was smaller, slender and if the way he’d dodged the cars was any indication very agile. It was apparent they had their sights set on me and neither one looked happy.

I snagged my pack and took off running, playing ‘Slip-and-Slide’ down the bank to the creek, grabbing trees and bushes to keep from falling flat on my face or my ass. I could hear them behind me, one of them shouting something in a language I couldn’t understand. For damned sure it wasn’t Mexican or Italian, both of which I knew.

I figured I had one advantage over them, I knew the territory. Along here the creek zigzagged over rocks and between low brush and taller bushes. It was almost like being in the country, not the city. I crossed, heading for a thickly overgrown area where I knew there was a small cave in the embankment, carved out by the early spring flooding.

I was almost there when someone grabbed my wrist, pulling me down onto my knees. Before I could protest or fight a hand covered my mouth. I heard Connor whisper, “Be quiet and lie down.”

My adrenaline was pumping so strong I almost ignored him, fear of whoever those men were urging me to keep going. Then I heard them a few feet away. Whatever the one man was saying I’d have bet it wasn’t that they should give up the hunt, so I did as Connor said and flattened down under a large, overhanging bush, praying the branches didn’t move to show the men where we were.

I guess they didn’t because I heard them moving on, talking angrily to each other. Finally their voices disappeared. I was about to get up when Connor whispered against my ear not to move yet. I got why when a few minutes later I heard them returning, one on each side of the creek now. They weren’t talking and seemed to be trying to stay quiet but there was too much underbrush for them to be successful. I swear I stopped breathing when I saw a pair of shoes not more than a yard away from where we were scrunched together under the bush.

It took all my willpower not to gasp when the man came close enough to kick several times under the bush, one kick landing on my hip. If it had landed anywhere else he’d have know he hit flesh but I guess he must have thought my hip was a branch or a rock because he kept on going.

We waited until it turned dark, barely moving, not uttering a sound. I thanked whoever was watching over us that the river rats who lived along the creek didn’t come exploring to see what we were. I. Hate. Rats.

Finally we decided it was safe to move. As I inched out from under the bush I kept expecting hands to grab my shoulder and drag me out the rest of the way. None did.

Once we were safely back on the dark path, we both breathed deeply before I turned my glare on him. “Mind telling me what all that was about?”

“I suppose at this point I don’t have a choice.”

“Damned straight you don’t!” I was tempted to grip his arm so he wouldn’t run but reined in my temper. As calmly as I could I said, “Let’s find somewhere safer than here and you can tell all.”

“Is anywhere safe?”

“Define ‘safe’. I know a couple of spots where no one’s likely to find us and one’s not too far from here.”

All he said was, “Okay,” before following me down the path. When I headed up a ramp to leave it he balked but I told him he either came with me or he was on his own. We crossed the street to the mall’s large parking garage. It was well lit but if you play your cards right you can find the shadows. Ask any of the muggers who hang out there from time to time. We made our way through it and out the other side. I figured it was safe enough to cross First Ave. and make it to Second where I knew there was a building in the process of renovations and so half torn down. We made it there, crawling through a hole in the fence---well hidden behind an industrial-size dumpster---that a guy I knew had told me about.  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Prince and I - 11

“This is wicked,” Connor exclaimed as he counted the change he’d gotten from passers-by. Then he frowned. “That is the right word isn’t it?”

“Depends. If you mean ‘evil’ or ‘bad’, no. If you mean it’s great you made so much then yes it is.”

He nodded. “I heard some guys at Boots using it that way. I mean the good way. I liked how it sounded.”

“Come on surely you heard it in school.”

“I had a tutor and he never let me use slang.”

That had me frowning though I wiped it away quickly. One of the pictures of him showed him in a school uniform, or at least I figured that’s what it was. There was some sort of emblem on the jacket pocket. “La-di-dah,” I commented, chuckling. “Spoiled rotten brat huh? No wonder you don’t know much about living rough.”

He looked embarrassed as he turned away. “I wasn’t spoiled. My… father though I should receive the best education possible is all.”

The slight pause before he said ‘father’ was puzzling. I kicked one foot back and leaned against the wall behind us, asking casually, “Was that why you ran, because he made you do things like that and you didn’t want to?”

He worried his lip. “Partly I suppose. He was very, umm, controlling while we were here. I got tired of it. I wanted to see how real people lived.”

I broke out laughing. “So you decided spending your time trying to keep it together on the streets was the way to do it.”

“It lets me watch people,” he replied defensively. “All sorts of people.”

“That’s for sure, and when you’ve been at it for a while you learn which ones will part with some change and which ones would just as soon you were anywhere else so they didn’t have to see you.”

Just then two women came out of the restaurant and proved my point. One of them looked pityingly at Connor before handing him a dollar. The other one sniffed and I heard her say loudly as they walked away, “You shouldn’t encourage them. They’ll just spend it on drugs. You know how these street bums are.”  

“See, told you.” I pushed off the wall. “Let’s get moving, lunch hour’s over.”

Connor stuffed the dollar in his pocket. “Where are we going now?”

That was a good question. If we’d been downtown I’d have just moved on to another spot, probably by a coffee shop. Here the options were limited. We’d been lucky no one had made us move from where we’d stationed ourselves. I chalked that up to Connor. He really looked like he was dying of hunger and lack of sleep. Me, I looked like what I was, a guy who knew the score. As far as most people in this area were concerned they probably thought my next stop would be trying to break into their houses while they weren’t around to find something to sell to buy drugs.

“How ‘bout we go to the park by the creek. There’s benches and you can watch the rich people go in and out of the mall across the street.” As always, it seemed he had to give the idea a lot of serious thought. “Do you ever just do something on impulse,” I finally asked.

He looked at me, his green eyes sparkling suddenly. “Sometimes, which is why I’m here.” He started walking down the street away from me. When I asked where he was going he said, “To the park.”

“Wrong way.”

“Oh.” He spun around, walking past me. “You coming,” he called over his shoulder.

“Damn. Yeah, yeah, I’m coming.”

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Prince and I - 10

I woke up cold and alone, neither one a surprise until I remembered Connor had been sharing the small space with me when I fell asleep.

“Oh shit,” I growled, both in anger that he’d slipped away and because I’d hit my head trying to sit up, which wasn’t happening with the ‘roof’ just a couple of feet above me.

“Are you alright?”

I scooted forward to look down at the path, sighing in relief. Connor stood there looking like he just woke up himself. A minute later I was beside him after tossing him my pack.

“You thought I’d left, didn’t you?”

“It did cross my mind, yeah.”

“I wouldn’t. Really. I…” He worried his lip between his teeth. “Are you my friend?”

I gave that some serious thought. If I was, then I wasn’t acting like one, not telling him about Arthur and all. On the other hand I thought he needed a friend so maybe I wouldn’t tell him. At least not until I got a better feel for him.

“Yeah, I suppose I am, as much as I have anyone who I’d call a friend.”

He looked relieved. “And my protector?”

I chuckled a bit. “Umm, not sure I’d got that far unless it was one on one.”

Instead of saying anything he dug into the pocket of his hoodie and handed me a half-eaten burrito wrapped in the paper it had come in.

“Been dumpster-diving?” I asked with a grin, breaking it to give him half.

He shook his head. “It was in the trash can over there.” He pointed to the one by the ramp leading up to street level. “I saw a guy toss it and…” He shrugged before devouring his half of the half.

I did the same, then after checking to make certain no one was around went to relieve myself behind a bush by the creek. When I got back he was fidgeting like he wanted to get moving, which was fine with me.

“Ready to head downtown?”

“Do we have to?”

“Well yes and no. If we want to spange then yeah, we probably should.” I picked up my pack which he’d set down after I’d tossed it to him. “There are other places but we might not do so well.”

“Can we try? Please.”

“Sure, why not.” I turned away from downtown, thinking we could take our chances along Colorado Blvd. “It’s going to be a bit of a walk.”

“Okay.” He rubbed his arms, obviously trying to get warmer since the sun had just come up and it was still chilly. I dug into my pack, handing him my old jean jacket, trying not to laugh when he put it on. It had been a bit big on me. On him it was huge. He didn’t seem to care though. He just shoved his hands in the pockets after thanking me and started walking.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Prince and I - 9

Connor was the one who actually started our conversation, once we’d finished eating. He rested his elbows on his knees, staring at the swift-moving water and asked, “Why are you here?”

I figured he meant why was I living on the streets so I told him the same thing I’d told Arthur.

When I finished he turned to look at me. “That was quite honorable of you.”

My eyebrows went up at the way he’d phrased it. It sounded like something out of a book I’d read in English class way back when I was actually in school. So I put it off to his reading something similar and thinking it was a neat word.

“She probably went after someone else as soon as I left, but at least it won’t be my fault if he finds out. He’s got a temper.” I sort of hoped by saying that it might make Connor open up on why he ran, but it didn’t. He just nodded and went back to staring at the water. So I asked him outright.

“I just needed to see how things are before I have to go home,” he replied somewhat cryptically.

“So you don’t live here in the city?”

He shook his head.

“In the suburbs?”

Another head shake. Getting information out of him was like pulling teeth. “In the state?”

He glanced up at me with another shake of his head so I dropped it to ask instead, “Do you have a safe place to sleep? If not you’re welcome to share my digs.” I chuckled. “Well more like wherever I decide to land for the night.” Before I’d finished talking he was backing away from me. “Hey, easy there, I’m not after your body if that’s what your afraid of.”

He shocked me when he replied quite indignantly, “Why not?”

“Umm, maybe because I don’t fuck people I don’t know? I mean you’re cute enough I guess. Enough that those dudes you told me about wanted you. But I play keep-away. Life’s hard enough without catching something, if you know what I mean.”

“Oh…” he inched closer again. “They didn’t want…” Suddenly he snapped his mouth shut but remained where he was.

“It’s for damned sure you probably don’t have any cash on you, unless you got lucky and someone gave you some out of the goodness of their heart or you left home with something valuable that you pawned.” I guess I hit the nail on the head because his eyes widened and he was scooting backwards again. “Hey, hey, it’s alright. I wasn’t trying to pry, honest. Okay, I was a little but all you have to do is tell me it’s none of my business and I’ll drop it.”

He continued staring at me as if trying to decide if I was lying or not. While he did, it gave me a chance to study his face. He really was sort of cute, though more handsome than cute actually, in a cute sorta way. It was the eyes I think. They were deep green with gold flecks and stood out against his pale skin. I’d have bet he burned easily in the summer and almost asked him then decided he probably couldn’t handle any more questions right now.

“Where do you crash?” he finally asked.

“On a night like this, probably up there.” I pointed to the narrow spaces between the concrete girders at the end of the bridge going over the creek. There didn’t used to be a full cement wall. Just a low one with space behind it where we’d feel safe enough to sleep at night. That stopped, and the city walled it all the way up, when punks started using the wall to hide behind so they could mug bikers and hikers. But there was still enough space at the top of the wall to lie down if you were thin, and agile enough to get up there. I was both and I figured Connor was too, at least on the thin part.

Connor looked at them then at me and finally back at the spaces before nodding. “Why don’t people paint pictures on the walls?”

That was out of the blue and I laughed. “Pictures?”

“Yes. Like the ones on the walls at the Boot.”

“Ahh, graffiti. It’s against the law though I heard they’re trying to change it.”

“That’s not fair.”

I snorted. “It’s life, which in case you haven’t gotten it yet isn’t fair.”

“I know,” he said softly, his words ending in a huge yawn.

“So are you going to crash here with me? Well, umm, you know what I mean. Or are you going back to wherever you usually stay?”


“Is that a question or a statement?” I replied as I stood up and snagged my gear.

“Statement.” He gave a sharp nod of his head.

“Deal.” I headed to the wall, waiting for him to join me. “You need a leg up?”

He looked up at the space, which was out of arms’ reach for him. Then he bent his knees and jumped, catching the edge with his fingers. Seconds later he was pulling himself into the space. I was right behind him, though I didn’t have to jump since I’m a good few inches taller than him. It was close quarters but with a little wriggling around we got comfortable. I chuckled low and he asked why.

“I think this is the first time I’ve ever spooned with a guy without expecting anything more to happen than just getting some sleep.”

“Oh,” he whispered. Then, “O-o-oh.”

“Bother you?”


“Good. Now go to sleep.” For a minute I felt like a father talking to a kid. Only this kid was definitely not a ‘kid’. That was the last thought I had before falling asleep.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Prince and I - 8

Connor remained silent, just nodding. Then, when I was about to ask what happened, he said, “Not a fight. Two guys thought I was… umm… I was something they wanted is what they said.”

“Aw shit. Did they…?”

He looked up then, a tiny smile on his face. “No. I got away.”

“You were damned lucky.”

He nodded, going quiet again. But there was a strange look in his eyes. If I’d had to put a name to it, it was triumph. Like however he’d gotten away from his attackers it was more than just seeing the chance and running. I would have asked but I had the feeling he wouldn’t have told me. Not sure why I felt that but I did.

“Can I ask you something?” Connor looked at me like he was afraid I’d say ‘no’.

“Yeah sure. What?”

“What does spanging mean?”

“You’re on the streets and you don’t know? Okay, it means you’re begging for spare change. ‘Spare’ plus ‘change’. Spange. Get it?”

“Yes.” He twisted his hands together, frowning. “I was afraid if I did that the police would arrest me.”

I snorted. “If they arrested all of us who do it there’s be no room in the jails for the real criminals. They’ll just hassle you and tell you to move on.” I eyed him again. “When’s the last time you had some real food?”

“Umm…” He shrugged.

“Thought so. Okay, look, I’m not trying to come on to you or anything but if you want, I have a couple of dollars thanks to those nice people at table one.” I nodded toward the table where I’d copped the tip. “I’ll buy both of us a couple of burgers or better yet a couple of subs if you don’t mind a bit of a walk.”


“Why what?”

“Why will you buy one for me?”

My turn to shrug. “Why not? You look like you could use it, I got the cash, so…”

It took him a long time to make up his mind. While he was I just stood there, watching the passing scene so to speak. Finally he agreed.

We walked for a long time in silence, twelve blocks from where we’d met to be exact. I stopped in front of the sub place, asking if it was okay with him. He smiled, his eyes lighting up. I guessed that was a yes. A few minutes later, once I’d proved to the guy at the counter I had the cash, Connor and I walked out with two subs with all the fixings.

I suggested we go down by the creek—which was only a few blocks farther on—so we could eat in peace.

“Is it safe?” he asked hesitantly. “It’s dark now.”

“It’s been dark for the last hour in case you haven’t noticed.” I almost used his name, which since I realized I hadn’t asked what it was would have been a big mistake. So I did ask, saying, “I never introduced myself. I’m Richie.” I wondered then if he’d give me his real name.

“I’m… Connor.”

“Hi, Connor. So… Yes it’s safe, at least the part where we’re heading.”

“Okay.” He looked longingly at the bag with his sandwich.

I laughed. “You don’t have to wait until we’re there to eat it. Honest.”

“I can though. Honest.” He actually grinned, the first time since I’d met him.

Although we didn’t talk any more until we got to the creek I sensed he was finally more relaxed than he had been. I led him to the edge of the creek and the rocks that made a good place to sit and eat, and talk---hopefully. I might have finally found Connor, but there was no way I was going to call Arthur and let him know until I discovered why he’d left home.