Melodies of a Tattered Shadow

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Chapter14 CLOSER TO NIRVANA

The Eighties had fully blown then, the Disco era was dying out, and along with it Rock music was being engulfed by a new genre of music, a combination of Rock, Disco and Punk called New Wave. Gone was the natural long haired look of the youth of flower era, including their bell bottom jeans and their platform shoes, the so called drug and peace loving generation; the youth by then was sporting Mohawk style hair that frequently looked like cockatoo head feathers from hell, because it was also colored differently. Their clothing had become so bizarre that both boys and girls wore identically style candy colored padded shoulder shirt likened to the look in Star Trek TV series. Their pants was the total opposite of bell bottom jeans, sometime multi-pleaded and very loose in the waist down to the knee and tight as hell from heel up to the knee, in some it necessitated a zipper in the knee down to the heel in order to get it on or get out from, it was really like a horse jockey pants without a horse and a racetrack. But their music speaks more than their cockatoo candy colored fashion; their sound was electric and it seemed it would always sound new even if the decades past.

Years had passed since the break-up of D’ Kickers, apart from their music Angel’s Cry and Mad as Hell that played in Rock radio and considered a classic no significant interest had arisen for them from a business point. It seemed the band was singed to be forgotten for eternity. The former members of the band had joined different groups, but had not been successful as they were, but fortunately fans didn’t even remember them being part of D’ Kickers that’s why they continued to do what they live for in the early eighties. Except for Paul, since the scandal becomes a disease that no one wanted to touch, Paul succumbed to oblivion. His former glitter was exchanged to indifference or a punch line from a stand-up comedienne’s joke, if in case he got to be remembered.

Paul didn’t fret on the lost popularity, if not he relished the incognito status that he then possesses. But the sad part of not being popular for him was the reality that it accompanied destitution. He had lost all his wealth due to the insolvency of the firm that manage D’ Kickers, as co-owner with Mr. Vincent Baker. He survived only writing song incognito for his former band mates. They remained friends and they fully understand that his name had a stroke of taboo in the business, so he wrote songs under the name Angel Sarah. The songs that Paul wrote was the same quality as he did for D’ Kickers, but unfortunately it enjoyed only nominal success, since almost all the bands that his former band mates belongs to, were only responding to what they perceived as what listeners wanted not from what they wanted to express, a total opposite of what D’ Kickers did. As it did, Paul was paid a tenth of a fraction of what he used to earn for writing songs.

The hardest part of Paul’s indigence was the loss of his most important goal of his life; to be with Chelsea and to help support Josie Brown. His situation had made it impossible for him to establish a relationship with Chelsea; he didn’t even know her whereabouts anymore, since part of the deal with Chelsea’s case was for her to be secure and protected, away from her father, the reason her Case File was sealed. D’ Kid had no legal entity to ask the lawyers about her whereabouts and he was barely surviving, that he could not afford to seek legal assistance on matters pertaining to Chelsea. His earning was not even enough for his subsistence. His father and mother tried as much as possible to help him financially, but sometimes he refused since he knew that his dad and mom could barely afford also. He remained in L.A. since that was the only place he knew he could find to sell his songs. He now lived in East L.A., a place occupied by mostly minorities, a dangerous part of the city, where incidents of assault, burglary and killing were a common occurrence, he didn’t mind since he could no longer afford to be choosy. He was just trying to survive, he lost everything, the only possession apart from his piano that he still have, was the record collection and stereo belonging to Peter’s parents. For the last five years Paul lived that way, weren’t able to establish a relationship with Chelsea and losses touched with Eliz and Peter.

By the mid-eighties, Andy and Joey by that time had given up playing their instrument and had gone to have families of their own. Joey with Kim their high school friend were married, they also had established small businesses back in Tennessee. It was only Scott that continually plays with a band with minor successes. Unfortunately, Scott band mates no longer see’s that the songs written for them by Angel Sarah work for them, so it’s hard for Scott to give Paul some worked. That time Paul was really struggling, Scott was the only regular client that he had but then he knew he would lose him.

While police sirens and audible sounds of gunshot were heard not from a far distanced from Paul’s house, in drunken state Scott said, “Kid... you know how much I love you… everyone knows without you, we are nothing, you are the one that gave us music’s spirit… for what it’s worth, up and down… it’s you… I will give up half of my earning from here on… to you.”

Paul knew that Scott was sorry because he could no longer sell his songs to their group, “Scott… you know I love you… you’re always on my side… that’s more than enough, I’ll be fine, don’t worry about me… there are a lot of studio who are interested now with Angel Sarah’s writing, actually I continually give your band songs because of you, I have better offers… you know? So don’t worry.” and Paul feigned a smile

Paul’s smile of sad eyes, melts Scott’s heart, he readily knew that his friend said this because he didn’t want to burden him. He embraced Paul, and felt something different but didn’t make a fuss about it, “Kid… whenever you need me or you need anything… I will sell my soul for you, you know… don’t you?”

*****

Weeks had passed since his talk with Scott, but still continuing police sirens and gunshots could be heard outside Paul’s house, like an everyday echo. The songs Paul’s had written had filed-up, and sheet music littered on his floor, but there was no taker, no one to sing it. Out from the darkness of the house a lone candle on top of the piano was there and Paul was sitting on the piano stool, trying to stop himself from writing songs. He deliberately tried to sing his old writings, so that he won’t write new ones, he was starting to sound like a broken record, and he didn’t mind as long as he didn’t write a new one that would only be put to waste, but Scott’s word’s keeps on hammering his head, he fought through it not to write it, but still the words keep playing in his head, ‘I will sell my soul for you’, unable to stop the words flogging his head, he picked a music sheet on the floor and proceeded to write on the back of one of filled-up sheet he had written in a while ago and tickles the key of the piano:

I will sell my soul, for you

A man said, who owes himself to You

Never mind about tomorrow

For eternity was a farce that never saw You

How could my soul repay You

When my very flesh is from You

I will just cry hymns till tomorrow

For my voice was blessed with pains and sorrow

Refrain:

Cause in the end, I’ am soulless

Soulless without You

What to do? I’ am soulless

Soulless without You

In the end, I’ am soulless

Soulless without You

… Soulless without You

I thought I understood You

The message was confusing like You

My music struggles to continue

For my heart was callous because of You

But still I vowed to You

The choke hold that’s from You

My breath now smells of puke and flaw

For my body can’t keep a spirit from You

I can only dream of tomorrow

Without pain and sorrow

Wounded since childhood in a burrow

How can you let my future be hollow

Unknown to him, there was a man standing in the corner of his living room, while he continued on with his whirlwind of song writing and drinking. He didn’t notice him, since it was dark and he’s drunk. He had not paid his electric bill for some time, sometimes gleams from car headlights seeped through in the curtainless window pane that casts shadows of the mystery man. The only persisting sign of life in the house was his angelic soft voice and his repeated songs of pain. The man was amazed with his velvety voice of pain, but even more with his prowess in song writing; he positively envied Paul’s talent in writing and he loved the new song.

The man stood still unable to move, didn’t want to disturb the anguish in Paul’s voice or didn’t want to be misinterpreted. He pitied Paul and had the same feeling as Scott do for Paul, he just waited there observing him, when Paul succumbed to his drunken stupor, he approached him, he tried to move him if he will be awakened but he did not. Since he could no longer talked to him, as Paul was drunk dead, he lifted him up and carry his petite body on his shoulder. From the darkness he tried to look in his bedroom and laid him there. The man missed Paul so much so he embraced him, he felt something and somehow had reasoned in his doubts, but still he let it go, he proceeds to undress Paul to change him to a sleeping clothes, but he saw something from Paul’s chest in the shadow of darkness, underneath Paul’s shirt, the trickle of light from the window revealed the truth that he suspected from some time ago. Although his vision was vague by barely touched of lit from a candle and the curtainless window, he just let it be and stayed till the sun rises, when he saw that it was safe for him to leave Paul, he left.

*****

Weeks had passed again, and to Paul’s surprise, he had an invitation to go to The Polo Club of Beverly Hotel’s that Tuesday afternoon. Polo Club Beverly Hotel’s seemed to be from a distant past. That was where D’ Kickers first signed their contract with Triumph Records; the same hotel was the place they stayed-in when they first arrived in Los Angeles. Although Paul was beyond the point of being impressed by the strapping of success and popularity, he was excited nonetheless. This could be an opportunity for him to earn a decent living and maybe still forge a bond with Chelsea later on. He still never forgets his over-all dream of forging a relationship with her.

Arriving at Beverly Hotel, few people recognized him. In their mind they could never seem to know where to put him, they knew that he used to be a celebrity but still couldn’t recognize him. The invitation was anonymous so he didn’t know who he was going to meet, the Guest relation officer approached him and he was apprehensive to say his name, but the invitee was already there, at one of the corner tables and was excited to see him.

“Kid… here,” the man shouted excitedly.

Paul approached the man excitedly, “It was you? Who invited me here?”

The guy somehow felt embarrassed, because he thought Paul might think he was trying to show-off, but in reality that’s the only place they could talk without hassle, he wouldn’t want Paul to be intimidated. “Kid, I’m sorry if I invited you here… there’s not a place I can think of that we can talk safely… apart from our place back there in the south.”

“No… don’t worry, I love it here, I’m always here.” Paul answered, trying not to embarrass himself and the man who invited him. “By the way how are Cindy and Pauline?”

But before Fox could respond a celebrity approached, “Hey Fox, when is the next album? It’s been ages since the last one… we’re dying to get one of your records to use in my movies.”

“Sly…” Fox stood, handshakes and hugged the muscle bound actor and said, “we’re working on it now, by the way D’ Kid… from the band D’ Kickers… remember?” Fox added pointing to Paul.

“Yeah…” Sly responded and extended his hand for a handshake, “Kid… maybe you should be the one to write songs on my upcoming project, I know how great your music is… I’m a fan.”

Apart from his soft hand being somewhat smashed like a tomato from the handshake, Paul remained quiet because he knew that was just a celebrity phony talked. Not far from Fox and Paul’s table a mustached older gentleman in white Armani suits with blue scarf in his neck was seated. He was an executive of an entertainment news media network, he overheard the conversation of the three and jest, ’D’ Kid… still alive, he?’ smiled and followed, ’not worth a dime… old news and I will not give him the luxury to be mentioned again in the media… his passé, let it be that way’, and sipped his espresso.

Sly recognized that Paul might be thinking that what he’s saying was just phony celebrity talked, “Kid, I’m serious… I am producing a drama… I needed your heart for the songs… don’t worry about the past, it’s a different time now and people don’t care about those things anymore.” With that Sly and Paul set a date for their official meeting for their collaborative work.

When Sly left, Fox smiled and told Paul. “You should go out more often… things like this happens.”

Paul was delighted with what had happened, but still awkwardly just lends a squint slant in his lips, but still his eyes’ foreshadows spiritual grief and injury. He uncomfortably just said, “Fox… thanks.”

Fox responded, “To tell you the truth Cindy is mad at you and Pauline was furious of her God… father, they have not seen you in ages… they said that your success made you forget about them, that’s the reason I ask you here,” Fox told this to hide a real intention. He had heard from Scott, Paul’s situation.

“Sorry about that… I’m sure even the dad doesn’t have enough time for them… being always here in L.A.”

“Kid… can you promise me to see them or at least call them…? And maybe for you to talk to me… from time to time…?” Fox sadly replied.

Paul fell silent, his tears were about to fall, but he tried to resist it. Fox sensed this and embraced him and said, “We missed you… you fool… why didn’t you call me? Or at least call Cindy? Am I not your friend?”

Paul just hung-on to Fox embracing him, unable to talk. He longed for a friends embrace for years he was glad that Fox was there, he sobbed and let his emotion poured, he didn’t care anymore if Fox discover his secrets with his embrace, he has been just glad that finally a friend was there to embrace him. When they pulled out from embracing, they looked into each other’s eyes and embraced again, saying that they know more than they use to know.

When the feeling subsided Fox declared, “Promise me that you’ll call Cindy often.”

Paul wipes the tears in his face answered “Yes, I promised.”

“Did you even know that Joey and Kim already had a son?” Fox asked.

“Yes, I did, but I wasn’t able to be there… you know… because of work.” Paul answered, still trying to cover-up destitution.

Fox knew this and answered him, “that’s the reason I invited you, I want you to have more time with your friends but with less work.”

“What do you mean?”

“Why didn’t you tell me that you were writing song for others? Why you didn’t tell me that you are Angel Sarah? That’s the kind of song we’re looking for.” Fox stated.

“I don’t want to work with your company, you know that.”

Fox somehow knew Paul’s apprehension with Triumph records and said, “What if, all the ownership thing can be deal off, would you work with Triumph records? Perhaps just like you’re doing… incognito,”

Paul still fell silent and Fox continued, “Kid… your songs can only be sung by D’ Kickers if not by the Clowns. As you can see around this time rock band are struggling, you can help us put Rock still in the map by helping the Clowns, helping me.”

Paul understood what Fox meant, but instead of answering Fox he asked for the waiter to get a phone and call a number. When it was connected, he said, “Hey, this is Paul, can I talk to Cindy?”

“Kid!” Cindy answered the phone, hysterically, she already knew that Fox will meet Paul that day, but didn’t expect a call; apart from that Fox had already relayed the secret that he had discovered. Cindy added, “You owe your god daughter a lot of explaining.”

Paul answered, “Yes, I do, I’m coming over soon and I hope you understand my situation.”

“We will wait for you… I hope you don’t disappoint us.” Cindy answered.

“I promised.” Paul answered and hanged the phone down.

The following weeks, several songs were already in Fox’s hands. When he goes over it, he searched for one particular song, but couldn’t find it; he hastily rushed to Paul’s place and found him in his piano.

“Fox, what are you doing here? It’s not safe for you to be here.”

“Kid the songs, something was missing?”

“What do you mean? I’ve sent you twenty songs to choose from, you didn’t like any of it?

“No… I like them all but there was one particular song that was missing.”

“Fox… no one has seen the song I wrote for the Clowns… and how would you know that there was something missing? I send it all to you, all twenty of it, are the songs you received, not twenty?”

“Yeah Kid, it’s twenty… but there was a song I expected to be with the twenty.”

“What do you mean?” Paul asked still confused.

Fox then proceeded to sit with Paul at the piano and played the refrain of the song he was looking for:

Cause in the end, I’ am soulless

Soulless without You

What to do? I’ am soulless

Soulless without You

In the end, I’ am sou-less

Soulless without You

… Soulless without You

Paul was surprised to hear it from Fox, because he himself could barely remember it, due to his drunkenness when he wrote it, “How did you know that song?”

“I was here when you wrote it, Kid. I heard you singing it… and it was beautiful.”

Paul was drunk when he wrote it, and he couldn’t acknowledge if he knew that Fox was there with him when he wrote it, he was embarrassed about it. He was thinking about the time they had their talk at Polo Club, and acting like it was the first time he saw Fox for quite some time.

“Kid… you didn’t know I was here… I planned to talk to you back then but you were already…”

“Yeah, I was dead drunk… that’s the reason we have to search the house for it… I didn’t know where I’ve thrown it.” Paul jokingly told Fox.

“Where do we start?” Fox asked

“I think we should start with all the sheets that are lying now on the floor.” with this they looked at each other and crawled to their knees laughing.

After a while, Fox found it crumpled in the trash bin along with food leftovers. They clean-it up and positioned it on the piano and both of them sang it, with Paul’s soft angelic cry version and Fox hard rock version. That afternoon they selected the songs that would be included in the new Clown’s album, which they entitled I am Soulless the song Fox and Paul looked for from the trash.

When the rest of Clowns saw and heard the song from Fox, written by Angel Sarah they were impressed; the songs they heard they believe will revive not only the name of the Clowns, but the Rock genre itself. Unknown to Fox, Mr. Steffen Fisher the President of Triumph Records knew that Angel Sarah and Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews were one the same, he knew that only D’ Kid can write the way he did and he didn’t mind since he knew Paul’s brilliance in song writing, the only difference was that he was paying Paul now a fourth of what he used to earn as a song writer. But still, Paul was happy about it since it’s more than subsistence.

Slowly, with Paul’s song writing, The Clowns had competed with numerous New Wave bands, sticking with their traditional Rock attitude. As a result, they become relevant again, able to get a slice of the listening market against New Wave: the second British invasion in the music industry. Paul becomes a constant presence in the entourage of the Clown and the members think that it was because Paul is close to Fox, they didn’t know that the Clowns move and direction were being plotted by Fox and D’ Kid himself, since Rick Sizemore no longer manage the group but an array of new wave bands from Britain. Mr. Fisher was too happy with what was happening, although he knew that Rock was being hijacked by New Wave music, he believed that there would be a Rock band that would survive it and with Paul ‘D’ Kid’ Andrews’ help, he knew, It’s his for the taking. The Clowns would not just survived it, but even conquer it.

When the 1987 Grammy came about, New Wave was not untouchable, Rock competed with it, giving an impression that New Wave is just a fad that would perish someday. Rock music was still alive, the Clowns took four awards, all with something to do with Angel Sarah’s song writing, they took the award for Best song of the year over-all with the song ’I am Soulless’, Best song by a Rock group performance with the same song, Best Rock album entitled ’I am Soulless’ and Best Record over all.

But the awards for Angel Sarah didn’t end with the Grammy, the song ’I am Soul-less’ was also nominated in the Film Academy Award or the ‘Oscar’s’, the same song was used for the movie drama directed by Sly as a soundtrack, but Angel Sarah’s voice was used instead of the Clowns version. After the awards night, people from recording studios, we’re asking who Angel Sarah was, and only Fox, their close friends and Mr. Fisher knew who he or she is; there was a great demand for his song writing afterwards.

*****

Paul took advantage of the opportunity to cure all the broken relationship that passed. He tried to look for Peter wants to explain what transpired between them, and Eliz ready to tell her that there was nothing to worry about him anymore since their band was no longer in vogue for scandal preying media.

In every concert that the Clowns had, Paul was there to accompany Fox, but there was a different reason why Paul accompanies Fox in all The Clowns’ concert. Paul was searching for someone, a woman, his friend, he misses her as much as he misses Chelsea and Peter. While the Clowns concert was going on, Paul would sneaked-out of the event and wandered in every city they went to, taking chances. He goes to places that normal people like him wouldn’t go to, most especially him, because it was the reason for his downfall. But Paul was no longer afraid of the scandal, people barely recognized him, they just looked at him as another perverted soul in that place, in short a patron of Pick-up girls or Hookers.

Fox learned about his escapade, because every event’s break, he looked for him, but he was always nowhere to be found. Fearing for Paul safety he confronted Paul.

“Kid, where have you been going? Every time I ask for you, you were nowhere to be found. What’s going on…? If you need anything, just tell me I can ask someone to get it for you,” insinuating that if he needed drugs Fox could ask someone to get it for him. Fox had been clean of drugs for quite some time; he started quitting it when Pauline arrived in their life.

Paul paused, he knew Fox might be suspecting him of trying to buy drugs himself, but he was apprehensive to tell him the truth, “I’m sorry Fox I didn’t tell you… I didn’t know that you might need me still when you’re already on stage.”

“Kid is not that… it’s dangerous out there to get it yourself.” Fox still thinks that it was drugs.

“Fox it was not drugs… I’m after…”

“What then…? Kid, it still doesn’t make me feel safe every time you went out, by yourself.”

“I’m looking for someone.” Paul said with hesitation.

“For Peter? It doesn’t make sense that you look for him in every city we went to.”

“I wasn’t looking for Peter.” Paul declared.

“Who then…? That it’s worth risking your life.”

Paul wanted to tell Fox but he was afraid he wouldn’t understand.

But Fox already could sense who he was looking for. His eyebrows rose up, and his forehead crinkled, he said slowly and angrily, “Are you looking for that woman?” With disappointment from his ruffled voice added, “Are you insane? That woman had made your life difficult and troubled you for years. You’re only starting to have some normalcy, and you’re looking for her?”

“Fox… You don’t understand, I’m sorry,” Paul sadly responded.

“Sorry for what Kid? I cannot let you slide again… as a friend I’m putting my foot down, you owe it to me, Cindy, Pauline and your parents and most especially yourself.”

“I need her Fox; she was my only girl friend.”

“Girlfriend? Yeah, that’s the reason you were in trouble back then.”

“No Fox, I mean my only true GIRL… friend!” with emphasized on separating the word girl from a friend and added, “She knows who I really am,” and cried on Fox shoulder.

When Fox felt Paul’s hugged, he suddenly remembered the secret he discovered and felt really distraught for Paul; and admitted to himself that being with Paul, was confusing. He contended that it must have been a struggle for Paul since his only friends in his childhood were all boys, he understood his longing. He just let Paul outpoured his cries. When it ceases Fox said, “Kid… I’ll hire someone to find her,” knowing that D’ Kid could not afford a high caliber private detective that could search the whole country and added, “you don’t have to do it yourself, it’s dangerous, especially for you… you know those places are full of no good people.”

“You cannot embroil yourself with this… you saw what it did to me, the media are unforgiving, just to make some bucks, they will feast on this if you are discovered with even a whim of it.”

“No Kid, I insist” Fox strongly said.

“Fox… I cannot forgive myself, if something happens and let you be embroil by this, please let me do it myself… I promised I’ll hire someone to look for her.” although it’s obvious that he did not have the financial capability to do so.

“Okay… promise me that you will not sneak out from our events to look for her. If you do, please at least ask someone to accompany you.” but Fox realized the absurdity of the last thing he said; to ask someone to accompany Paul looking for a prostitute.

On the following days, Fox was able to arrange for a private investigator to go search for Eliz, without the Private Investigator knowing it was Fox who hired him, he did this with several layers of acquaintances. Fox did it even with Paul’s protest, because he knew Paul could not afford to hire a high caliber Private Investigator, and he feared for Paul’s safety; the sooner they find Eliz the sooner he would be at ease with D’ Kid’s safety.

But Paul still continued on his search; he just changed his schedule, instead of during the Clown’s performance, he now waits until the concert was ended and everyone was in their hotel rooms or past out, from after event party. Meaning, he went out for a more dangerous hour between 1:00AM and 4:00 in the morning. He went to the alley of pick-up girls showing the only photo available that he had of her; a mug shot taken from a newspaper clipping. Incredibly, wherever he went in different city in different States, he always saw the same environment that almost looked the same. The street that was glittered with neon lights and alive was also the one littered by pick-up girls in its lost dark alleys and corners. The girls were excited whenever a car pulled out in their stands; they readily entertained them and peddled their merchandise as if it had the best quality of it all. But in his case all the girls he talked to was very uncooperative sensing that he might be a snitch of cops in the area, and foremost, they didn’t believe they could make money with conversing with him; for them no money, no honey. Paul was becoming desperate, so what he did, was really to get pick-up girls and later asked them about Eliz inside motel rooms without engaging them sexually. But all of these had proven to be unfruitful, he was somewhat resigned to the idea of finding Eliz and just got ready to move on.

But Fox one night showed him some paper, showing police records of Vagrancy and Solicitation records of Elizabeth Chase in Charlotte, North Carolina. “The record was three years ago, she might still be there… the P.I. said, there was no reason for her to move out.”

Paul was surprised, he strongly stated for Fox not to engage in this, but he was excited also since there was hope of finding his best friend. “Fox… thank you, this means a lot to me.”

“I know; you’re taking an unnecessary risk just to find her. Promise me that you will be careful.” Fox told him.

*****

Charlotte, North Carolina, It’s been a long time since he set foot in North Carolina and there were tons of reason that made it hard for him to go to the place. First, were the complexity of Chelsea’s and Elizabeth Payne’s cases to his true identity, and then his destitution after the scandal. He wondered about all the places where Eliz should go, why North Carolina? At that moment while he was above the sky in a plane, he thought of all the most important girls in his life his Mom, Chelsea and Eliz. When the plane landed, Paul was already feeling anxious. He had not seen Eliz for more than half a decade, he wondered if Eliz felt the same way as he feels about her. What about Chelsea, he had not had any connection to her, since her Mom herself was busy trying to survive, and help him particularly. He imagined how Chelsea would look, and she peeked into the locket in his necklace, Chelsea’s picture and himself as Cindy was still there.

He checked-in to a hotel and rested for a while, but his mind was frantic from the excitement, a part of his brain was saying to look for Chelsea, and the other part said, to look for Eliz quickly. He wrestled with these thoughts for some time and decided, “I should look for Eliz first, and then we will both look for Chelsea.”

That night, he went straight to Murphy Avenue, the place for Charlotte pick-up girls. As expected glittering neon lights from night club bars adorned the street, while the dark alleys and corner areas were peppered with pick-up girls peddling their body to prospective patrons. Paul with his rented car slowly crawled to the street searching among the girls in the pavement, many were excited to engage and quickly rushed to his car windows, but it was close and he refused. He no longer showed Eliz’s mug shot, since he knew it would only arouse some suspicion towards him. After his first drive-by, he took a U-turn and slowly crawled again in search at the other side of the street, but to no avail, he didn’t find Eliz or even remotely resembling Eliz except for scantily clad pick-up girls with a typical exuberance for their work, surprisingly for others, but not for him anymore. He took a U-turn again and tried to search again back to the other side. Other Girls noticed his car that it drove there a while ago and bellowed at him, “Hey boy… if you’re not buying, no peeping, this is not a movie house for you to watch… you pervert looser!”

Paul felt embarrassed, he knew that he could not pass again on the other side without getting a girl, or else he might end up being howled backed again, or worse, being thrown rocks at. In his U-turn, he decided that he would get a girl, and get information from her once they were in privacy. His car slowly crawled again, by then his car window were open for engagement. A black girl with a blonde curly wig and a white girl with blond long hair, approached, both puffing a smoke and chewing bubble gums, both sexy and very young looking, not even in their twenties.

Gazing at him seductively, “Hey boy… is this your first time? Want some ebony loving… I guarantee you, you’ll forget your name.” the black girl said.

Puffing-out a smoke, “Stick with white… stick it in me… nothing like a girlfriend lovin that I can give you.” the white girl said.

Paul noticed that the girls are too young to have been there for over three years, so he passed, and politely said, “Girl’s I’m sorry you’re too young for me… I am for some mature loving.” The girl didn’t object since they knew their youth and beauty sometime could not be a guarantee for success, different clients have different preferences, some they recalled would even take a pick-up girl old enough to be their grandmother. That’s how it is, so they accepted it and signals to one of their friends who were twice as old as them. The middle aged lady approached, she looked definitely like a mature mother in drag, with feathers frills in her clothes, her heavy makeup made her even more un-attractive, she was a signed of distant time of prostitution, it was written in her face; but surprisingly, like with the other girls she was a lady in exuberance.

In her approach, she said, “Hey boy… my girlfriends said that you are looking for some old fashioned loving… You choose well, as the saying goes experience beats… everything… or something like that… I’m at your service.”

“Yes, you are what I’m looking for,” Paul answered and concludes their transaction with the agreed price and settled her in the front passenger seat of the car. The two young ladies looked on enviously, but happy that their friend was able to get clients despite of her age, and then, quickly they proceeded to the next car coming after Paul.

The old lady directed Paul to the regular motels where they had a cut whenever they bring a customer in. But inside the room, it was no longer a surprised; the place was disgusting. The place reeks of deodorizer to masquerade the smell of stench that was hard to figure out where it’s coming from. Either it’s coming from the dimly lit white tiled turned a yellowish comfort room, or the dirty, soiled, spotted red carpet, or even from the bed itself. The flowery design of the pink wall didn’t help conceal the daily trade that was being dealt on its bed. The red linen was tainted and was sprinkled with stains of varying degree of color: from greenish to yellowish and absolute brown that looked like dried blood. The room could be likened to a car repair shop or car wash; that steadily freezes its form for its user.

The old lady promptly started to undress to go down to business, when Paul stopped her and said, “Ma’am can you put your dress back on? Can we… talk?”

“Alright… if that’s what you want,” the old lady thought that Paul’s fondness must be about teachers, that’s why he addresses her as ma’am. She dresses back and followed “So do you want me to scold you first? For not doing your homework…?”

“No Ma’am… it’s not what I mean… I just want to talk.”

“Just talk?” the old lady asked, but was not surprised. “Okay… I’ve been in this work for quite a while… and I guess I’ve seen everything, your request was not unique, but isn’t it expensive to pay a hooker for a talk?”

“No, its not,” Paul answered and was reminded of Eliz wits when they first met.

“Is this about your mother? I have clients who get me because they don’t get along right with their own mothers.”

Although Paul knew that his business was not about his mother, he equally was taken from what the lady said, about men having problems with their own mothers. He was tempted to ask further but decided to go on down with his business. “I get along just fine with my mother… what I’m here for was for some information.”

“What information… you are not a snitch… Are you?” the old lady get weary and suspicious.

“No Ma’am, I’m not… I’m looking for a friend of mine who used to work along your alley,” he said, and took out the clippings of Eliz mug shot, and hand it over to the old lady.

The old lady looked in the photo with some reaction. Paul couldn’t figure it out if it was positive or not, but hastily the lady said, “I don’t recognize her!” Ladies in the trend tend to protect themselves, even if she knew Eliz she would not tell Paul, since they worry that it must be about some criminal case, the closer they know the person the more they would not reveal anything. “I have been doing business for more than ten years here and I haven’t seen closely resembling like her, maybe she was in other cities.”

Paul then knew that the old lady was lying; it would be impossible for her not to know Eliz from her old police records in Charlotte and in that particular area was from three years ago. Paul pleaded with the old lady, but the old lady remained suspicious, so she didn’t say anything about Eliz. Paul and the old lady separated without getting any information about Eliz.

When Paul returned back to his hotel room, he remembered how Eliz told him about how protective they were with their friends, since they were subject to abuse by the police and other scoundrels in the society. He thought hardly of how he could penetrate the barrier of trust among pick-up girls and then said, “That’s it… among themselves,”

*****

Morning, Paul was in the flea market buying clothes obviously not for him, he chooses the most revealing and colorful ones, along with the accessories and shoes for it. When he finished shopping for the clothes, he quickly tried it on to himself in his hotel room, and motioned at the mirrors imitating someone who’s definitely far off. He was both excited and anxious; he believed that through this action he would definitely find Eliz.

That night, Paul excitedly brought with him the clothes in a paper bag that he bought that morning. He looked for a space where he could park his rented car, unnoticed with the cover of darkness. When he found one, he hastily parked and put on the clothes and the accessories, and put on some make-up too. When he was satisfied with the way he looked, he emerged out of the car. What materialized was a replica of the old lady he talked to a day before, only younger, his make-up was heavy, showing that he didn’t have the hand for it; he definitely looked like a drag queen. He proceeded to Murphy Avenue, where prying eyes were upon him upon his arrival, not the preying that had a lustful interest, but more of contempt and suspicions.

“Hello!” he greeted the ladies, while waving his hand like from a beauty pageant. This sends even more that he didn’t belong there, and the girls stared back at a girl in drag in disbelief.

He stood in one of the corner, but, “This is me… move if you don’t want to be beat up,” one of the lady harshly said. Paul was surprised that he was not welcome by one of the girls. He tried some other location, but with the same result he was turned away, until he reached a young white boy dress in drag, that was obviously too young to be in the trade. The young gay boy just lets him; it was a surprised for him to see someone for the first time that worked in the trade that didn’t do it enthusiastically.

“Hey Boy, is it okay with you for me to be here? With you…?” Paul asked.

“If Leroy asked you to be here, what can I do?” the boy responded sadly. But Paul didn’t react, since he had a feeling that it might be the one that pushed the kid to prostitution.

Since everyone was looking at him suspiciously, the old lady from last night recognized him and promptly ran to a public phone, quickly dialed and immediately said, “he is here… the boy I told you about last night, he’s dressed like a drag queen.” and hastily hanged the phone down.

Unknown to Paul, Leroy the pimp had been already there looking at him suspiciously. He looked like a man from the 1920’s, wearing a suit style in that era but in purple color. It’s just like his clothes were screaming what he is. The other ladies were telling Leroy that the drag queen could be a snitch, “a snitch… after what I’m paying the police for protection,” Leroy said in an angry broken voice. He continued to observe the young drag queen, and noticed that he was obviously not there for the trade, since Paul continually refused customers and kept on looking at the other girls that’s been coming and going. Leroy thought he might be sent by his competitor in the business, this sends him an ire, nothing more he hated than other pimps crouching on his territories. Knowing that the young drag queen was not from the Police, he quickly approaches him “Hey… you seem new to this place?”

“Yeah… try the other girls’ sir, I’m waiting for someone.” Paul answered naively.

“Yes, you are… you fucking snitch,” and was immediately given a sucker punch in his stomach. Paul collapsed on the pavement and was swiftly pulled by his black hair, pulling him fully by the head. He slithers in the cement pavement, tearing and smudging both his dress and his skin, while blood immediately sipped out from his skin. Paul tried and struggled for a halt and to stand-up, but Leroy was so strong, he couldn’t help himself but just hanged onto the man’s arm holding his head, while being bullied away. The other girl seemed unfazed by the event; it’s as if it’s just natural, the only one that was somehow daunted by the event was the old lady. Leroy continuously pulls him by the head into a dark alley, where no one could see them.

At the dead end he stopped, and rapidly kicked Paul again in his stomach and wherever it could hit him. Paul cried out in pain, begging, but only rats squeaking competed with Paul’s howls of cry. The place was desolate, he could not even see where the kick was coming from, it was really dark, apart from there was some blood that oozes in his head already that’s trickling into his eyes. But the pimp had no mercy for his competitor. He hit Paul everywhere. When Paul stopped making any noise and didn’t move, he pulled Paul up and rested his arms and chest over one of the big steel trash carts. Paul was bloodied and motionless but still lucid; he could barely look back at his attacker. Leroy pulled up his skirt and put down his underwear. Paul was keenly aware of what’s going to happen, but there is no way to stop it, his body was limp from the assault. His spirit was crying, “no… no… no…”

“Now, you’ll learn what a snitch like you will suffer if you cross my street.” Leroy said this, and penetrated and proceeded to sodomize him. At that moment, Paul whims went out and some dirty dream like memory emerges in his mind, a young girl being smothered by a drunken man, the man was naked on top of the girl, he could see the girl’s anguished and pain from the experienced, and he could feel it himself, the physical pain was unbearable, but the pain of indignity and humiliation was even more. When Leroy was finished with him, he let Paul collapsed on the ground, and for a final humiliation from a suspected competitor snitch, out from a shadow you could see a man standing holding his manhood, urinating, at a motionless body dressed in soiled gown. Leroy’s pee poured first on Paul’s face, mixing with the blood gushing from the wound from his head. Leroy continued on, mixing his urine with blood that soaked Paul’s dress. “Now you are born again… I Baptist you in the name of WHORING… you fucking snitch!” Leroy declared and, THUG, giving Paul a final kick.

Back on Murphy Avenue, a lady arrived with her Police boyfriend, she promptly and nervously approached the old lady, “Brenda where is sh… the boy?”

The old lady just pointed sadly to the distant alley. Right away the Police and the lady hastily ran towards the dark alley, hoping that they could make it to Paul, on time to save him. The Police quickly put out his flashlight and revolver searching, they ran up to the dead end and looked through to the rubbish. They found Paul’s beat up body barely breathing, barely clothed, bloodied with the stench of urine in the corner along with the file of garbage. The lady swiftly puts Paul in her embraced, and said, “Why did you go looking for me? Oh god, what did he do to you?” Eliz cried out. Eliz and her Police boyfriend directly rushed Paul to the hospital. Finding out that Paul was out of danger, the police hastily went out of the hospital.

*****

That night, Leroy was captured by the group of Eliz’s police boyfriend, he happens to be the Chief of Police in that district, the one that protected Leroy’s turf, and all the illegal activities in the area.

“Leroy, I specifically told you… no forcing anyone and most especially no raping of women.” the Chief of Police said.

Leroy was confused, he was paying this Police Officer for protection, but he was now being carried at the Police station’s back door, he could sense that something bad was about to happen to him, he was being brought in out-of the record book, this could mean his life, “Chief, I didn’t do anything… I didn’t rape no woman.”

“Popped…” and the Police Chief instantly punched Leroy in the face, immediately bloodying his nose, “you fool… you can’t lie to me… you just TOUCHED Eliz’s friend, you’re going to pay for this, nothing more I hate but disobeying my orders.”

Leroy was carried into the interrogation room, where six big inmates were waiting. Leroy saw the six inmates and instantly knew that he was in for a beating, he pleaded, “Chief… I’m sorry I didn’t know that he… she was Eliz’s friend, please spare me… please Chief.”

“Spare you… did you even know what you did,” the Chief said to Leroy and added and said to the inmates, “Guys’ I told you I have a gift for you… I promised you a BITCH, this will be your bitch for the fucking night,” handling Leroy by the neck and added, “I want you all to take turns beating and FUCKING this guy ass’s up, but don’t let him sleep, I want him to feel every one of you, give him the satisfaction, and when you’re done, make him your crapper for I will not allow you to use a commode after this, feel free to urinate and do your things at him, and I warned you, I mean all of you… anyone who doesn’t do as order will be punished… as you can see I’m a bad enemy, so don’t try me.”

As the Chief left the room, the inmates quickly assaulted Leroy as instructed. He could not see where the blows were coming from, for it was far too many, he cried and begged, but nobody listens to him, it seemed they enjoyed beating Leroy, but suddenly one of the guy said, “Stop!” Leroy momentarily was happy since the blows ceases.

“We can’t just stop, the Chief orders to beat him up.” the other inmate said.

“You Idiot, the order is to make him a BITCH, and the Chief wanted that he should feel everything… we should start FUCKING him up, before he loses consciousness.”

“Yeah, let’s FUCK the bitch.” all the inmates shouted. Leroy momentarily happiness from the cessation of the beating was struck by a more horrific event. Right away, the inmates quickly undressed him and laid him with his chest pressing on the table, one guy rapidly penetrated and sodomized him, while another inmate goes to his face, and said, “Open your mouth and blow this… don’t bite it, I promise you, I will kill you… if your teeth remotely touch my dick.”The other men went to his sides and asked to fondle their organs. All the prisoners were laughing at Leroy’s humiliation, while he was being abused.

The police that was supposed to guard could not look at the scene, it was far too horrific, seeing another man being dehumanized that way, he turned away, “Officer Henley, why are you not on guard?” the Chief promptly barked at him.

“Chief… I’m sorry I can’t watch it,” the officer answered with a screwed face.

“So you don’t want justice… you just want guys like Leroy raping women? What if Leroy raped your daughter or sister, will you just let it be?”

“No Chief.” the officer answered quickly, alarmingly frightened.

“You are not supposed to watch… you are supposed to guard.” the Chief declared.

By the time the prisoners were finished with him, Leroy could not count how many time he was sodomized, his rectum was bleeding continuously from the assault. But still his sufferings didn’t end there, he was mixed in the jail with the others, and every time an inmate needs to take a leak, they urinate at his face, one of the inmates even took a dump on his face. He was not formally charge, and he was not listed in the books as one of the inmates. With his humiliation, still in Leroy’s head an unknown future for him hanged, that means it could really mean his life, next.

*****

Opening his sleepy eyes slowly, Paul finally wakes up and immediately saw Eliz seating by the bed, crying, “Why are you crying? Has someone died?” he said. Although, he had suffered a lot the night before, it seemed to him physical pain was endurable than the pain of losing someone, anyway in his thoughts it was nothing new to him, he contended. The bandage on his head and all over his body due to broken ribs was all too plain for him, compared to Eliz presence.

“You should have not looked for me… isn’t it enough that I destroyed your career? Now, you’re going to lose your life just to see me… you are stupid” Eliz said crying. But only smiles went out of Paul’s face, he was really happy to see Eliz, and it seemed that all the pain in his body could not erase the joy of seeing her. He was right his action had made it possible to see Eliz.

Her eyes glinted at Eliz, “You’re my best friend… and my elder sister… would you forgive me for looking for you?” Paul said and smiled back again.

By then, Eliz realized it’s like she was really talking to a really stubborn and pesky younger sibling, and just said in resignation, “Okay, promise me that you will not be as stupid as that… again.”

Eliz’s police boyfriend arrived and whisper in Eliz ears, then she quickly, “Hey Kid… this is the love of my life Captain John Rivers.” The man extends his hands to Paul for a handshake and later looked into Eliz. And she quickly responded, and said to Paul, “We have a surprise for you… please close your eyes.”

After a while, they asked Paul to slowly open his eyes. He was in disbelief, he never expected to see this person in his hospital bed or anywhere else, the person was crying because he learned what Paul had suffered from, “I’m sorry I had to leave you back then… you know it’s impossible between us.”

Paul just smiled back at the man with tears of happiness in his eyes, he loved the man for what he is, it seemed all those body bashing he endured last night, was actually a gift in disguise. Peter looked completely gay now; he no longer had the pretension about his sexuality.

“Kid… I miss you, you know? I’m sorry if I haven’t gone to you sooner.” Peter told Paul.

“Oh… if I know, you were busy chasing boys.” Paul joked, and everybody laughed as if nothing had happened the past night.

That morning the four of them shared stories of their lives, on how Eliz found Peter in San Francisco with the help of Captain John Rivers, trying to persuade him to make amends with Paul. They all shared how Eliz and Capt. Rivers becomes an item, but Eliz didn’t share yet why she had gone to Charlotte, North Carolina. By afternoon, when Eliz and Capt. Rivers were about to leave, the police chief told them about Leroy and what had been done to him; he further asked Paul, “What do you think? Are we going to press charges or… we can make him just go away for good?”

“Set him free… I think he had paid his dues more than enough.” Paul responded.

“But honey, he almost killed you… we should at least let him rot in jail.” Peter interjected.

“Peter… the things he did and what happened to him will imprison his soul forever, it will never go away… anyway, it was just my body that was hurt… it will heal, since even if he doesn’t hurt my body it will still decay someday, don’t be too vengeful.” Paul said and smiled at Eliz. With that Eliz and Capt. Rivers leaved for the night.

“Honey… I still want him to rot in jail for what he did.” Peter said.

Paul smiles and teases the way Peter called him honey in a typical effeminate way, but seriously Paul said and added, “Peter we can’t sue… I’m not even listed here in the hospital of my true identity, as you know.”

Peter realized with despair, “But he hurts you badly… I wish him dead.”

Paul was still smiling whenever Peter speaks effeminately, and can’t believe himself that he still loved him just the same, not in a romantic way, but way deeper.

“From now on, I will never leave you. I will always be by your side, to protect you.” Peter said.

But still Paul laughed at his gesture and said, “Even if there are boys chasing you?”

“Okay, I’ll leave you only when there are boys… but without the boys, I’ll always be with you,” Peter joked and both of them laughed to the extent that it hurts Paul on the account of a broken rib.

After this, Peter told Paul, “I’m serious Kid. I will stay with you from here on.”

Paul looked at Peter with deep smile and tears, and they both embraced. Paul felt a little closer to Nirvana that time, the only person that was missing from him was Chelsea. He later wrote:

God & Devil hear me

My mind was uneasy

And tried to climb the mountain

Tried to grow wings and fly to heaven

But pulls of bladed string, chained me

Refrain:

How can it be?

How can I escape?

The numbness in me

My soul sings kill me

I was embraced by storm

I sing, so I can be superhuman

Tried to pull the string back from hell

Both God and Devil had betrayed me

I swim in the abyss of hell

To find a long lost peer

Monster ate and degrade my being

When I woke up I peek at heaven

Refrain: II

How can it be?

I’d escape a monster

With feeling of glee

I sing my life is lovely

Eliz was there as the sun rises in North Carolina, bringing with her breakfast for Paul and Peter. They started the day laughing from Peter’s story on his conquest for boys. Paul had not felt happier; a morning with Peter and Eliz was a breeze. Peter was a different person now, all happy times no dullness, even Eliz was amused with his fuzziness, that’s what he called himself, Queen Fuzzy, sometimes a total lady and sometimes a crazy Gaylord.

On a serious note, Paul asked Eliz why she chose to move into North Carolina when the scandal happened. Eliz narrated that at first she herself didn’t understand it, but maybe because the frequent talk of the place with Paul in the past, it had made her go there since that’s the only thing that’s on her mind that time, when they talked about a place other than L.A. and where she came from originally. Naturally, she would never go back to her family since she hated them. The first few years she struggled in the city, trying to find a job and not to join in the trade business there. But working 8 to 5 she contended was not for her, so, she slithered easily backed to the trade, where for a few years she tried to survive on, but later when she started seeing Capt. Rivers, she started to realize what she was after. She was after Chelsea, Chelsea’s safety since she knew that Paul wasn’t able to continue on with his dream of being with her on the account of the scandal that was due to her, so, she made it a promise to herself that she would look for Chelsea, until Paul comes back for her.

Paul’s eyes lit out, “So you would know; Where she is now? How is she? Have you talked to her?”

“I can’t talk to her… I have no legal entity to do so, and the truth, it was harder than I think it would. When I started tracing for her, I could not find her. I’ve gone in Asheville in her former shelter, but she was no longer there. Her files had been sealed after the trial, her names were changed, and her whereabouts were all confidential, to protect her from her father, so that, by the time his father went out of jail, he could no longer disturbed her.” Eliz answered.

“Yeah, I remember that’s part of the deal to protect her from her evil dad, but how were you able to find her?” Paul asked and Peter second it, “Yah, how were you able to find her? And if you were able to find her, isn’t it also plausible that his dad can do the same?”

“Well, in truth, yes… but the few people who knew about Chelsea where his lawyers and these people won’t readily give the information. John happened to know Atty. James Lavraza, he must have known some secrets, mind you, Atty. Lavraza will not give the information if he didn’t trust John, I really don’t know what story John told him but he was able to get the info. I’m sorry Kid, I told him everything about you to be able to convince him to get the information, but he does promise me that your secrets will die with him. That’s also the reason he was totally mad, when he heard that you were in danger, at Leroy’s hands.” Eliz continuously narrated.

“So, where is she now? Is she fine?” Peter asked

“She’s fine… I’ll show her to the two of you… once you’re out of the hospital.” Eliz said.

Peter, Eliz and D’ Kid were immediately ushered to one of exclusive all-girl school in Charlotte, by Capt. John Rivers, when he finally went out of the hospital. It was already 1988, Paul reckon that Chelsea was now 17 years old. There was an occasion in the school and parents were there to witness their children in the event, a Broadway play of West Side story was scheduled. Eliz looked into the billing of the play and winks gladly; and quickly pulled both Paul and Peter to the auditorium of the school. The play was about to start, both characters, male and female were played by all female students, dressed as what the character they portray. The place was jammed packed; all the parents of the students were there. Paul could sense that the reason Eliz brought him and Peter to the play was that Chelsea was one of the actors in the play. Paul gave his full attention to the play, when a student playing the character Tony started to sing, he promptly cried and hanged onto to the locket in his necklace, the irony was beautiful to feel; even Peter readily knew, that it was Chelsea playing the character Tony, for he recognized the soft voice, very familiar and closed to him.

After the play they waited for Chelsea, to at least congratulate her for the performance. When she finally went out, Chelsea searched in the parade of parents around congratulating her and the other players, among these were the three of them. Chelsea handshakes Paul, and looks into his face, she seemed fazed, and paused, but then suddenly someone called, “Nicole…” a sophisticated middle age lady embraced her, “You were terrific honey, I had goose bumps from your singing.”

“Mom, you’re embarrassing me.” Nicole responded sweetly to her mom.

Paul just stood there unfazed, he loved the way Chelsea grew up, she was a fine lady, she looked strongly like Elizabeth Payne, like Sarah herself, but now with a sophisticated lady for a mom. He holds into his necklace locket, and noticed that Chelsea was not wearing any necklace; he contended maybe she had forgotten all about Sarah. The three of them continuously observed Chelsea from a distance, until finally they could no longer see her, when her new mom’s Mercedes Benz finally went out of the school premises.

The three of them fell silent afterwards. Eliz and Peter avoided talking about Chelsea’s situation, knowing that she was definitely better off then. “I think everything turns out well for Chelsea… she deserved what’s happening to her now, I see that she was genuinely happy… am I correct Eliz?” Paul declared and asked Eliz with a faint of glee.

“Yes Kid, she was doing quite well, her mom now loves her so much, just like the way Mrs. Andrews loves you.”

Knowing that Chelsea was doing well, Paul was relieved, but still he could not stop the feeling of selfishness, of wanting Chelsea to be with him, but then he knew that she would be taken care of, he just has to let it be.

At the airport on their scheduled departure for L.A., both Eliz and Paul couldn’t hold their tears from their embraced; Peter just looked on to the two dear friends. “Promise that you will call me often times, and visit me again here soon.” Eliz told Paul.

“Yes… I promised you, I almost die looking for you, now that I found you, I’m sure will not stop from pestering you,” Paul said, and pinched both Eliz’s cheeks and walks away. But before they finally depart, Paul hurried back running to Eliz and embraced her again, and whispers, “Look after my sister… I love her dearly,” they embraced tightly, and then Paul walked away with tears still streaming from his eyes.

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