We haven’t quite worked out the goodbye part yet. Around nine, when visiting hours end, his demeanor changes abruptly and he starts to retreat. I’ve tried to bring him back, convince him to talk to someone other than Peter. It didn’t work. I’ve tried slipping away without a formal goodbye. They sedated him that night. If Peter hadn’t been there to forbid it, they would have restrained him. Now I just hold him. I promise him I’ll be there the next day and he promises me he’ll be waiting. We both fear the day the other doesn’t keep his word.
~~~524~~~ I hate watching him leave. It’s easier if I start to slip away just before he says goodbye. He hugs me, and tells me what time he’ll be here tomorrow and a clipboard walks me to the nurses’ station, I take my meds. Invariably they try to get me to participate in whatever activity is still going on. I just want to go back to my room. I sketch, I read, I cry, I write, I’m still working on my story but now I have to write it long hand. The only thing I don’t do much of is sleep.
~~~525~~~ It’s 9:45; Peter and I are in his office. I’m pacing, Peter's drinking tea. It’s been almost a month. Justin’s progress is slow. In six weeks he’ll be eighteen and they won’t be able to hold him. He talks to Peter, he talks to me, but he won’t talk to anyone else. I light my fourth cigarette and almost feel guilty. Peter can only share information because Justin signed the release form. He signed the form because he trusted us and we’re here trying to make sure he doesn’t get out. I don’t want him there… but he can’t leave.
~~~526~~~ The nurse glares at me as I take my meds and open my mouth to prove I swallowed them.
I’m on hourly checks now. Peter says he’s trusting me. Clipboard offers to take me to the gym to shoot hoops. I shrug. He signs out a basketball and my shoes. He has to keep his hand on my elbow the whole way. He never pulls me behind a tree or into a discreet corner. The gym is busy and loud. He actually wants me to play basketball? The noise is too much and I try to leave. He follows me.
~~~527~~~ Peter calls me at ten am. The construction crew is finishing the interior walls. It feels like they’re drilling directly into my skull. I think I slept for two hours last night. I walk outside. “What happened?”
“I don’t know. He’s asking for you.”
“Did he… what did he…”
“They called me, I called you, I’ll meet you there.”
I beat him there. He needs a faster car. He’s in the observation room. I follow Peter in and Justin stands up, throwing himself at me. I hold him, ready to kill whoever set him back. “Justin, tell me what happened.”
~~~528~~~ Brian guides me to the floor. I curl my body up to his and press my face into his chest. “No suit.”
“No clients today. What happened?”
“They rescheduled. Justin, what happened?”
I mumble the story into his chest. His body tenses, his heart rate goes even higher. He tilts my chin. “Justin. Did he try to…?”
“He didn’t want me.”
“And that’s why you’re upset?”
I pull away from Brian. I pull away from everything.
It’s harder to do because Peter and Brian think I should stop. I hear their voices when I start to slip away.
~~~529~~~ “Justin, come back.”
His eyes open, he’s not completely gone. “Justin, talk to me.”
His blank stare is creepy and when he’s back I am almost relieved. “You thought he wanted to have sex with you.”
“And you went with him.” I don’t know what to say. He’s so upset, and I just want to shake him. “Why?”
“It’s been so long, and maybe he’d let us be alone together, if I was nice to him.”
“We get time together. We’ll get more when you’re out. Justin, did you want to be with him?” He shakes his head.
~~~530~~~ Peter interrupts. “Justin, did you find him sexually attractive?”
Brian’s staring at me like his life depends on the answer. “It’s good to have people owe you instead of the other way around.”
“Isaac said that?”
“What did we talk about?”
I sigh. “I know you said not to pay attention to what Isaac taught me, but not everything was wrong. Brian was talking yesterday about calling in a favor from a friend.”
“So Brian let someone use him in a way he didn’t want, in order to get something from him later.”
~~~531~~~ For a smart kid, he can be painfully dense. He shakes his head. “I don’t think Brian would do that.”
“So what does calling in a favor mean?”
He sits in silence and finally shrugs. “I don’t know.”
“Justin. I recommended someone to a large firm, now he can help me get information on new accounts in play.”
“Oh. You didn’t have sex with him?”
How do I answer that? I did fuck him, but I also fucked two guys I didn’t recommend. “Our relationship wasn’t based on that.”
“But if he’d give us more time, or privacy…”
~~~532~~~ It hurts. I thought he liked spending time with me. He moves closer.
“I do want to spend time with you, but not at that cost. Nothing is worth that cost.”
“So I blow him, is it such a big deal?”
Now he’s frustrated. “Yes. Justin, your body is… yours. You get to say who uses it and who doesn’t.”
“But I was saying he could. It doesn’t matter. He didn’t want me.”
“That’s not the point. He shouldn’t want you. You’re a sick little boy. You can give it to anyone you want, for pleasure, not as currency.”
~~~533~~~ “Do you want me?”
I freeze. Justin’s not breathing, waiting for my answer. I think Peter's waiting too. This kid has a way of backing me into a corner…
“Yes Justin, I do want you.”
“But I won’t do anything about it. Not while you’re figuring shit out.”
“I’m not confused Brian. I know what I want.”
“Because I don’t hurt you.”
“Because you saved me. You keep saving me.”
“You don’t owe me anything.”
“No, not ever as payment. Do you understand, at all?”
His expression makes it clear. Not really, not yet.