“Wake up Cory! We can’t be here after the sun comes up,” I hear Dumbledore’s voice above me.
“Why?” I ask still trying to pull the blanket over my heat and protect the warmth that has built up against my body.
“Because the rich assholes walk their dogs earlier in the mornin’, or they come for a jog. They easily call the police,” he answers as he starts packing his trolley as quickly as he can. “I already overslept. Remember one thing Cory; nobody has time for the unwashed of this nation. We mean nothing to them. They don’t see us as humans. To them we are all just drug addicted assholes who will rob, rape, and murder them.”
He is giving me so much information that it feels like my head will burst. What he is saying doesn’t seem to sit right, but then again, I know what he is talking about. I can recall every single time where my mom dragged me to the other side of the road, clutching her handbag tightly, trying to avoid the homeless sitting on the sidewalk.
“Will you be here again tonight?” I ask as I climb out from under the bench and push my blanket and Teddy back into my backpack.
“You promised me the rest of the story so you’d better be here to deliver it,” Dumbledore says.
“What’s your real name?” I ask as I had him the thin little mattress I had slept on during the night.
“Paul,” he says looking up as if he is thinking deeply. “But I like the name you gave me. I like being a Dumbledore I think.”
“Well thank Paul… I mean Dumbledore,” I say also having to think for a moment. “I’ll see you tonight.”
“I’ll make sure we have something nice for dinner,” he says as he gives me a little wink and starts moving away across the park with his trolley, only his body odor staying behind to remind me that this isn’t all just a dream.
I pull out my phone and text Patrick the moment I have wiped all the sleep out of my eyes.
Cory: You can drop my books at Bookstairs. The owner said he would keep it safe for me so I don’t lose it.
I push the phone into my pocket thinking that Patrick probably won’t get back to me until much later. It’s still dark out. Any normal person should probably still be sleeping, but within seconds my phone buzzes.
Patrick: It’s okay. I can keep them save. Maybe we could talk @ school later today?
I barely think before replying.
Cory: I won’t be at school anymore. So just drop my books of @ Bookstairs.
I wait for a few minutes, phone in my hand while I feel freezing without my blanket wrapped around me, but Patrick doesn’t reply at all.
After a while as the sun starts to come up over the horizon I deem it safe enough to leave the safe haven that Dumbledore has created for us and start to walk to the middle of town where I know all the junkies are, but I also know has a lot of small businesses and little restaurants that might just be okay with taking in a kid my age to work for them.
I am halfway there, crossing streets in the bust traffic of people on their way to work, not noticing a teenager walking in the opposite direction of where he should be going to school when a car pulls off the road next to me.
“You’re going in the wrong direction!” Jaycee yells as he lowers the car window. “School is back that way.”
“You’re car isn’t pointing in that direction either!” I shout back at him over the honking of a car horn behind him, trying to get him to drive on as I keep walking, keeping my eyes in front of me. He is part of the reason that I am in my current situation. If it wasn’t for Jaycee I could have stayed over at Patrick’s house now and me and my mom and sister would have all been sleeping in nice warm beds and getting a proper shower for the first time in quite a while.
“I’m not going to school! Get in! I need to talk to you!” he shouts back at me again. This makes me stop walking and look at him through the car window.
“Why would I get in a car with you?” I ask as I walk closer to his car.
“Because I’m sorry and I can help you,” he answers, gesturing again to the other side of the car, showing me to get in on the passenger’s side.
“How can you help me?” I ask raising an eyebrow.
“I could organize a job for you. You could take care of your old lady. See this car… Two months of saving up and I bought her cash,” Jaycee says leaning over to the other side of the car and opening the door as if I have already accepted his offer.
I look at him, wanting to actually bash his head in, but the offer sounds intriguing.
“Come on Cory man. Give me a chance to show you how sorry I am,” Jaycee pleads wiping his long blond fringe out of his eyes and batting his blue eyes.
“Your gay is showing,” I say before I walk around the car and get into the passenger’s seat.
“Good boy Cory! You won’t be sorry,” Jaycee says as he turns up the radio, blasting some heavy metal that I don’t seem to recognize very loudly before squeezing back into the traffic and heading down town, a place I have only driven through once or twice in my life.
Like every single city this one has a down town as well. The part of town with low cost housing, where you are judged for living in. It’s the part of town where you hear lots of rumors from but as we drive through the small little brick houses and apartment buildings that seems to have had much better days, I realize that the majority of them has neatly kept lawns. Even if the paint is peeling away there seems to be quite a bit of effort being put in by the families living there to at least make it feel like a home. I could even go as far as to say that some of the houses look quite nice. At this point I would not mind renting a house like this for me and my mom. It might be on the wrong side of town so to speak, but it would be a home with beds and a bathroom, and even some heat. That alone would turn a shack into a palace for me at the moment.
When we stop right in front of yet another one of the identical brick houses Jaycee turns down the radio. This house doesn’t have a lawn at all, but there seems to be two small flats that has been built in the front yard, with where the lawn should have been being paved over by bricks.
“The old man hates mowing the lawn,” Jaycee says as if he can read my mind. “The left flat is mine. The right one is the office. My dad stays in the house.”
I climb out of the car and notice a dog a few houses away looking like it hasn’t been fed in a week. It doesn’t bark at us, and looks almost like it has lost its will to fight back against what may come in life. Some people have made their houses a home, but it still feels depressed standing in this street. Almost like all hope is lost in this part of town.
I look around some more as we enter the gate and walk into the tiny yard that is left, looking for clues as to who Jaycee and his father might actually be, but there actually isn’t much at all to tell me anything personal. Aside from two potted plants everything seems neat but impersonal.
“Are you coming in?” Jaycee asks as he slides open the glass door which is the entrance to the flat.
Walking inside I take a deep breath. This is not at all how I would have imagined Jaycee’s place to look at. When you saw him at school you would think that he is a bit higher on the status level than what I used to be when my dad was still alive, and just a bit under Patrick. Inside the flat it speaks of something else entirely. Nothing seems to match and nothing is in really good taste apart from the part of the flat that seems to be the lounge. Everything is one big open plan with a small kitchen, with dirty plates everywhere, a sitting room that seems to be decked out in the latest technology like an Xbox, Playstation 4, a new laptop and a wide screen television taking up half of the wall. In the opposite side Jaycee has a huge bed, probably a king size, and what seems to look like two cupboards. The only thing left is off course a door that I am guessing leads to the bathroom.
“So you kinda live on your own?” I ask still taking in everything around me. “You’re dad’s just okay with that?”
“As long as I do my job and keep to my responsibilities my old man doesn’t care what I do,” Jaycee says as he opens the fridge and pulls out two cans of cola. “Thirsty?”
I nod and take the cola from him and go ahead and sit down on the couch thinking that even a place like this would be awesome to have for me, my mom and Chloe. She can make anything work. Even this.
“So you mentioned something about a job?” I ask as Jaycee takes a seat right next to me.
“In time Cory, babe. In time. Why don’t we just get to know each other a little bit better first,” Jaycee says taking my cola from my hand and putting it on the coffee table in front of us.
“I don’t want to get involved in something like drugs,” I mutter as Jaycee sits closer to me and puts his hand on my thigh.
“Nothing like that Cory. I’m not that type,” he whispers close to my ear.
“That’s not the rumors at school,” I answer, trying to ignore his breath in my neck.
“Just because I tried out some drugs a few times at house parties doesn’t make me a dealer. That just makes me someone who experiments,” he says as his hand moves a little bit up my thigh and I put my hand on his and push it down.
“I am not going to have sex with you Jaycee,” I say, turning towards him, our noses mere inches from one another. “And I’m not interested in drugs, anything illegal, or any other kind of shit. Okay?”
“Okay,” he says sitting back, his hands not near me any longer. “Look I know you are in a bit of a squeeze, so I’m just gonna be honest with you. My dad runs a little business here from him. Out of the other flat actually. Nothing big, just enough to get in some proper money and such.”
“And how much is just enough money?” I ask sitting back again, but not letting my guard down at all.
“Couple of hundred a week. Sometimes a couple of thousand. Depends on how many hours you put into it and how much work you are willing to do,” Jaycee says picking up his can of cola again and taking a big sip.
“What type of work is it?” I ask. “It sounds like something pretty illegal to me.”
“How do I know I can trust you with this?” Jaycee asks pulling his fingers through his hair and making me think a lot of Patrick as he does so.
“You don’t,” I answer. “Just like you couldn’t be trusted to be a nice person when you told the entire school I am homeless.”
“Touché,” he says with a laugh and then gets up from the couch to retrieve the television remote before he sits back down.
He turns the television on and then presses play and immediately the entire flat is filled with moaning noises. For a moment I want to get up and run, but then I see Jaycee’s face on the screen, sucking on a big member of some guy.
“You make porn?” is all I can get out before I stand up from the couch and walk to the glass side door. When I reach it I look Jaycee in the eyes while the sucking continues on the screen and say; “You want me to make porn?”
Jaycee turns the television off and stands up from the couch.
“No I don’t. That’s just a little something I taped myself a few days ago. The guy was hot,” he says walking over to me. He puts a hand on my shoulder and leads me back to the couch. I am so shocked by what I have just witnessed that I follow him without even thinking.
“Just give me a chance to explain Cory. Maybe then you will actually understand what is going on.”
“Five minutes. Five minutes and then I leave,” I say looking at Jaycee, trying my best to see if there is something good in him because at this moment I am not thinking any good thought about him at all.
“My mom died two years ago,” Jaycee starts. “After that everything just went to shit. My dad stopped going to work. He started drinking. For a while there I was doing anything I wanted. I kinda liked it. No supervision. Nothing. Then one day I opened up the fridge and there was no food left. No money to buy any food with either. Do you know how that feels Cory? Do you know what it feels like to go to sleep hungry for a few nights in a row? Too embarrassed to ask for food at school? You know what you do? You go to a store and you steal some food. That’s what you do. But then they caught me after the second time I did that. They called my dad and he beat me senseless before he went back to scratching his balls and drinking with his friends.”
I look from Jaycee’s face over to the photo next to his bed. In it is four faces. The one must be his mom because he looks exactly like her. Next to her is a man, laughing hard at the camera. It’s hard to imagine a handsome guy like him just letting go of himself. In the photo he looks perfect with his brown hair neatly in place, the laughter on his face, and a twinkle in his eyes.
“Where’s your brother?” I ask as I observe the little kid in the picture. In there he is probably four years old.
“He got taken away. Foster care. Some welfare slut came to the house after I was arrested for shoplifting. They took him away when they saw what was going on. I stayed,” Jaycee says. He sounds bitter. Almost like he hates himself.
“It doesn’t explain the sex tape,” I answer shifting my eyes back at Jaycee.
“A few nights after my dad beat me up one of his friends came into my room. He said he wanted to make sure I was okay. He’s one of my dad’s dealers actually. Not a bad looking guy either. Early twenties. I thought he was trying to be nice. Trying to be a friend. He asked me off there was anything he could do. I told him some food in the house would be nice. He told me that we need to work for what we want in life. I asked him what he wanted and he asked me what I was prepared to give to him.”
Jaycee stops and takes a few deep breaths before picking up his can of cola and taking a big gulp before slamming it down on the table hard enough for some of the cola to splash onto the table.
“I sucked him off that night. I was only fourteen. Since then he comes around the house once or twice a week. He makes sure we have food, and sometimes I suck him off, and sometimes he wants a bit more. All in all it’s a good arrangement we have going,” Jaycee finishes.
“But how does your dad fit into all of this?” I ask. Somewhere something is still not making sense.
“He caught us one evening. His friend told him the truth. The next day my dad started the business. I get half of whatever a guy pays. He makes sure I get some guys who are willing to pay. It’s as easy as that,” he answers grabbing his can and taking another sip of his cola. “It works for both of us. It’s win-win. We are four guys doing this together now. With you will make it five. Nice work. Nothing hard. Almost enjoyable most of the time.”
“I’m leaving,” I say. “But don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me. I promise. I’m just not interested.”
“You’ll be back,” Jaycee says as I open the glass door to leave his house. “The other four also said no and they all came back.”