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Paradise Lost and Found, Part 2

Posted on Mon Feb 19th, 2018 @ 2:39am by Unawakened Devon Spencer

Mission: Pre-Awakening
Location: Newport News, Virginia
Timeline: Monday, 15 March 2010
Tags: Devon, Dev, Deo, Spencer, Bobbie, Mitchum, Leigh, Geneva, Kiersten, Daniels, Grace, Tiresi

Previous: Crash and Burnout

Leigh swore as she went back to the car. Her two youngest girls were fighting in the backseat with the neighbor’s brat. She normally couldn’t stand her neighbor. She was the same age as Liv and had four children already. She was pregnant again but only had custody of the eldest child.

“I swear,” she growled angrily as she got in the passenger side front, looking over the seat at the children, “I brought two of you into this world, and I can take every last one of you out. Shut your fucking holes before I give you something to cry about!”

She turned back to the young woman in the front seat. “They must be out,” she explained.

“Again.” It was a sharp retort, more than Leigh was ready to take from a woman she barely tolerated.

“It’s summer,” Leigh snapped. “They probably took a spur of the moment trip and forgot to let me know.”

“I wanna go on vacation!” Geneva whined. “Why can’t I ever go anywhere? Liv gets to do everything.”

“SHUT UP!” Leigh yelled. She sighed heavily.

“Look,” said the neighbor, “we can’t sit here all day. I’ve got a doctor’s appointment which is the only reason I agreed to come out here anyway. So if you and the kids want to wait here you can. I’ll come back or you can come with me. But I have to go, now.”

“It’s hot,” Kiersten said quietly. “I don’t wanna wait here.”

“Me niever,” chimed the dirty little boy in the middle.

Leigh started to turn around, her hand raised, but before she could smack the children, the car pulled off with a squeal.

“Seriously, Leigh,” the young driver said, “there’s no need to take it out on the kids. You’re such a bitch!”

– O –

Grace Teresi sat in her car and watched from the shadow of a tree across the street. She observed as the Joneses’ eldest daughter, Leigh, beat her fist against the front door of her parents’ house for the third time this week. Interestingly, she arrived in a different car each time and never drove. Three young heads, perhaps her children were visible in the back seat. The Jones family seemed quiet and normal. Decent folk; people Grace might have considered friends in another life. Sadly, they offered shelter and protection to the Beast and for that, she had to consider them as unknowing collaborators.

That was the way evil worked. It tugged on the heart with an innocent face or called on reason to confuse and convince the unwitting to do its bidding. Such was the case now with the Joneses. They provided a fortress for the Beast but no fortress was truly impregnable. Grace knew that with time and patience she would penetrate those unassuming walls. She had to stop the Beast. It was her curse, her burden to bear. She gave birth to it and it was her responsibility to destroy it before it brought about the End Times.

Grace watched with interest as Leigh got back into the car and yelled at the children in the back. Boorish woman, Grace scowled with disapproval. Leigh had a chance at a good life with normal children to love and she wasted it. Still, perhaps she held the key to getting into the house and in that she did God’s will. Bobbie’s mother followed Leigh at a safe distance, watching and thinking.

– O –

A few hours later, the boys unpacked their car in Newport News after a day spent running errands. Devon waited until Bobbie left with a box from the dorm before heaving the last, and biggest onto his hip. He checked the hatch shut with an elbow and followed his lover inside the Jones house, arguing animatedly every step of the way.

“Who was the one who said that we needed to start thinking like a couple?” Deo accused. “That’s what I’m doing now! If we pool resources we can live a lot better. We go to the same school. We work at the same place. We don’t need two cars!”

“I’m not giving up my car, Deo!” Bobbie snapped as he walked.

“Hon, it’s only until we get your finances more solvent. You can take my car to work at ‘Sentara’ while I’m at school during the day. We meet at ‘Aromas’ for work, and then we ride home together. After that, you take the car to your job in Virginia Beach. I don’t see the problem!” Devon heaved a sigh as he reached the door.

“Deo, you work too hard as it is. I don’t want you taking on more of the financial burden. I won’t be part of it.”

Bobbie leaned against the door frame as his lover engaged in a game of open the door.

“It isn’t a burden if I want it, Bobbie,” Deo stepped back to let his lover go first. Bobbie shook his head negatively and hooked his head, indicating that Deo should go first.

“The answer is ’no’ and you need to respect that, okay?”

“No, it isn’t okay, Bobbie! Make up my mind, will you? Are we a couple or not?”

“I won’t let you bait me,” Bobbie frowned at the heavy box Deo carried. “I told you that I could unpack the damned car, Deo! You could barely stand last night!”

“I’m fine, you don’t have to baby me!” Deo protested as he shouldered into the house. “We went to the damned doctor, what more do you want?”

Bobbie followed his lover into their room. He set the box down and caught the Greek boy by the shoulders. “Deo, stop and think. You … were … dying last night and nobody knew why! We still don’t know what happened! I know you feel better but take it easy, at least until we get the test results back.”

“A doctor will just tell me to take it easy,” Deo huffed with irritation. “Kind of redundant, don’t you think?”

“Deo, stop,” Bobbie took his lover into his arms and held him. “I know what’s going on. You can move now so you can’t be still. Your brain is racing. You have to keep moving. You have to stop thinking about it. It’s a panic attack. It’s part of PTSD.”

“STOP IT!” Deo broke free. “You act like I don’t know what PTSD is! I know what it is. I live with it every fucking day! Stop babying me, Bobbie! I’m not helpless! I feel smothered, I’m suffocating!”

Bobbie stepped back calmly, “okay.”

“Okay…?” Deo peered suspiciously. “Don’t fuck with me, Bobbie.”

“I’m not fucking with you, Deo. It’s your life so live it but don’t share it if you can’t. I’ll see you at work.” At that, he turned and stormed out.

– O –

It was too early. The sun was still up. It was too fucking early. Harvey Nussbaum nudged empty, crusty microwave dinner trays aside to make a clean place on the kitchen counter to set his coffee cup. He lit a cigarette and placed it to his lips, only to find one already lit. Bobbie took it out of his hand and helped himself.

“I thought you quit smoking,” Harvey croaked. God, but he needed a drink of water. Water, ugh, why drink water? He wasn’t a frog. Come on, coffee.

“Weed,” Bobbie forced smoke through his nose, visibly upset. “I quit smoking weed, Harvey.”

“I distinctly remember you waxing eloquent about turning over a new leaf for your shiny new boyfriend. I also remember saying you were full of shit, but, eh,” he shrugged.

“He’s suicidal, Harvey!” Bobbie sucked down more smoke. “You saw how bad he was. It was worse last night.” He swallowed a hard knot of fear. “I really thought he was going to die!”

“What’s his address again? I need to send flowers.”

“Harvey, will you wake the fuck up? This is serious!” He paused as the salty sot stared blankly at the coffee maker. “What are you looking at?”

“I honestly can’t tell if that sound is coming from the coffee maker or my ass.”

“When was the last time you cleaned that thing?”

“My ass?”

Bobbie palmed his face, “the coffee maker.”

“You clean those?” Harvey’s eyes peeped round with surprise from beneath bushy eyebrows.

Bobbie pushed his waiting cup to the side and set the cigarette in the tray. He clasped his hands on the counter and grimaced sourly. “Jesus, what do you smoke, Harvey? Shit eats the lungs.”

“Amateur,” the barfly sniffed dismissively. “What are we talking about again?”

“Devon … me … we just had a fight and here, last night I thought he was dying. He tried to push me away and I let him! Fuck, but I’m so stupid!”

“You won’t hear an argument from me.” Harvey rubbed his eyes and blinked owlishly. “Oh, my god, I see the TV remote! I’ve been looking for the bastard for weeks!”

“Harvey…!” Bobbie growled.

“Don’t start with me, kid!” the bellicose barfly shook a finger. “You woke me at a god-awful hour to cry on my shoulder!”

“Harvey, it’s four in the afternoon.”

“I know, I had two hours left. Two hours, Bobbie! A man like me needs his rest!”

“You know what, maybe it was a mistake to come here. Sorry for disturbing you, Harvey,” Bobbie climbed up from the bar stool but Harvey caught him by the shoulder and sat him back down.

“Oh, no, I’m not done guilting you, yet. I haven’t even dug into my book of Grandma Gail lines.” He poured coffee and took a sip straight, black, and hot. “Yuck, nobody can sleep through that. Anyway, what’s the deal with the kid?”

“As soon as he felt better he went into a full-blown panic.”

“This is your professional opinion, doctor?” Harvey peered knowingly.

“I’ve worked with PTSD patients before, Harvey.”

“You visited your brother and his buddy at the V.A. Oh, and you helped the doctors. There’s a difference.”

“Meaning,” Bobbie peered.

“Meaning you’re what, 20 years old? Fuck’s sake, Bobbie! You don’t have a single degree! You’re not licensed and you’re too young to know your ass from a hole in the ground. You’re a pre-med student looking to get into all that bionic robot … stuff.”

“Physical therapy for soldiers with prosthetic limbs,” Bobbie offered helpfully.

“Yeah, that,” Harvey punctuated with cigarette smoke. “Look, are you Dev’s boyfriend or his shrink?”

“I can’t help...?” Bobbie protested.

“Ah--!” Harvey cut him off with an upraised finger, “Are you his boyfriend … or his shrink? It’s a simple question.”

“Don’t bait me, Harvey,” Bobbie glared angrily.

“Which of us is baiting and … which of us is running?” Harvey winked or maybe he needed to fart.

“What?” Bobbie scrunched his face, honestly confused.

“Bobbie, you’re a control freak and a runner. I think it’s got something to do with your brother but that takes more brain power than I have right now. The point is, you need to play hero. It lets you control everything and when you lose control, you run. You ran away from the SEALS, your family, your brother….”

“Harvey, that’s fucking low!” Bobbie shot to his feet.

“It’s also true and you know it! Sit back down, have a cup of java. It’s good shit, trust me. It’ll get you wired out more than you are already. Anyway,” He took another sip. “I don’t have the time or the life to baby anybody. I’ve got enough drama to deal with. That said, I like you, Bobbie. You’re a good kid, just like Dev is a good kid, but face it, you’re kids. You’re gonna fuck up. What matters is how you face shit and deal with it. You don’t do either one. Neither does Dev. You’re perfect for each other.”

“Harvey, do you know how much sense that does not make?” Bobbie frowned, perplexed.

“If you want something bad enough you fight for it.” Harvey peered cleverly from the corner of his eye. “You can run all you want but you’ll always go back to each other. It’s beautiful to watch, really. Kind of like one of those passenger jet crashes in slow motion. You can see the chairs flying...”

“Harvey, stop, I get it … I think,” Bobbie rested his elbows on the counter glumly.

“Probably not, but you want to, and that’s what matters. You’ll figure it out eventually. Weird,” he took in an idle curl of smoke, thinking.

“Yes, you are, but what did you mean?” Bobbie curled his lips with a hint of returning cheer.

“I’m just thinking about what you told me that night Dev rescued Maddie Chamberlain. What did you call him again?”

“A hero,” Bobbie swallowed. “An honest to god hero… like… like Matt.”

“I remember your eyes shining as you gushed about him. You had it bad for the kid even then. So, what changed?”

“Huh?” Bobbie blinked, startled by the sudden turn in the conversation.

“You stood right here and called Dev ’suicidal’,” Harvey tapped the counter for emphasis. “The kid’s sick, he’s shell-shocked like when the troops came home from Afghanistan. He never lied about it. Everybody knows. He jumps out of his skin if you drop a spoon but he went after that old lady like some kind of superhero out of a god damn comic book. What’s different about him now?”

Bobbie stared at the counter for a long time before words came to him. “He doesn’t care about his own life. It’s like death doesn’t register for him. He doesn’t think about his happiness. He thinks about what his death might do to others he cares about and that is all that holds him back. It’s like he has a death wish but he can’t follow through on it as long as somebody in his life might be hurt by it.”

“That’s kind of like what you told me about Matt.”

“Matt said that the only thing holding him back was us….” Bobbie swallowed again, hard.

“And even that didn’t stop him.” Harvey propped his chin in his hand and studied Bobbie in silence.

“I’m afraid Deo’s going to do it… kill himself, like… like Matt.”

“That or run himself to death, and you know what, he just might. I smoke too much, I drink too much. God knows I eat too much. Not you, though,” Harvey finished his cup and poured one for Bobbie. He pushed the cup and the tray of fixings across so his guest could partake at his pleasure.

“Why is that?” Harvey picked up. “You smoke a little weed. I’ve seen you get a little drunk, but I’ve never seen you cut loose. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Okay, so yeah, I’m complaining. You make the rest of us look bad. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were just as tightly wound as Dev. I mean, look at him. A teetotaler, high strung, always looks out for others before himself. All of it is a distraction to keep him from grabbing his head and screaming for the rest of his life. It isn’t like you’ve got a reason….” he arched a speculative eyebrow at Bobbie.

“You think I might have PTSD too, because of Matt… and Deo triggered me.”

“Makes sense, don’t you think? Aren’t you trying to fix Dev like you tried to fix your brother? Save the hero before he kills himself?” Harvey patted Bobbie warmly on the back, “Bobbie, go; just be his boyfriend. Let the rest take care of itself.”

Bobbie cleared his throat abruptly and shook his head in agreement. “Thanks, Harvey; you’ve given me a lot to think about.”

“For once it ain’t about your paycheck,” the old drunk nodded toward the door. “Get out of here! Oh, and next time, bring an offering if you’re going to wake me up so early! Ungrateful brats these days.”

-To be continued-


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