Paradise Lost and Found, Part 3
Posted on Mon Feb 19th, 2018 @ 2:39am by Unawakened Devon Spencer
Location: Newport News, Virginia
Timeline: Monday, 15 March 2010
Tags: Devon, Dev, Deo, Spencer, Liv, Jones
Previous: Crash and Burnout
Late afternoon and school let out for the day. Liv Jones drew her car to a halt outside the house of her parents in Newport News to see Deo’s car present in the drive, but not Bobbie’s. She registered this with only mild concern. Nobody called with an emergency so it only made sense that Deo’s condition did not change significantly. She took the opportunity while at school to do a little research on Dev’s symptoms and ran into mostly dead ends. Everything came back to the loss of food mass. Other possibilities came to mind but they were chilling to consider. She entered the living room to quiet and found the guest room door open and the bed made.
Nothing seemed out of place in the kitchen. The coffeemaker was cold and there were no dishes in the sink. The closer she drew to the back door, however, the more Liv heard a curious sound, like someone chopping wood. She slid the door cautiously to the side and peeked outside, “Hello?”
At the far end, a makeshift archery target hung from the tree that grew just inside the fenced patio. Vulnerable furniture sat back safely clear of potential damage. Meanwhile, Devon stood with a bow in hand, his feet braced, his arm falling from a shot. He started at the sound of the door and reached for a box of tissues that sat on the arm of a nearby chair.
“Hey, I wasn’t expecting anyone home for another hour.” He cleared his throat abruptly, averting his gaze as he wiped his nose. A waste paper basket sat at the foot of the chair full of bloody tissues.
“And I wasn’t expecting an archery range on the patio, but hey, we get what we get. Are you sure you should be up and about?” He was still pale, but not as bad as he had been, and other than the basket full of bloody tissues, there wasn’t much sign that he’d been sick.
“I feel better,” Dev held the tissue to his nose. He saw Liv’s expression and explained. “I don’t feel hungry anymore. I don’t feel as weak. I’ve already been to the doctor’s office. We’re…” he trailed off, “I’m just waiting for the test results.”
“Gone,” Deo walked down to retrieve his arrows.
“Class?” she asked, “Work?”
“I don’t know where he went. He left about an hour ago,” The Greek youth cast his gaze down miserably. “I don’t know if he’s coming back.”
“What are you talking about?” Liv asked, clearly skeptical.
“We had a fight coming home,” he looked up, thinking back across the day. “It was stupid. I pushed too hard. Anyway, he got pissed and stormed off.”
“Wait a minute,” Liv said, “What are you talking about?”
“I don’t know for sure. He said that he wanted me to think about us as more as a couple. You know me; I made charts and graphs. I figured we could live better and improve his finances if he let go of his car. He didn’t like that.” The Greek boy walked back and sat next to Liv with a despondent air. “I also yelled at him for babying me.”
Liv squinted and pinched the bridge of her nose. “Babying you?” She sighed, “Go on….”
The artist climbed to his feet and took a few steps in restless reflection. “He kept telling me to take it easy. I told him how much better I felt but he kept at it until….” he hung his head in shame. “I snapped at him. I told him to stop, to quit treating me like a baby. He said ’okay’ and left, just like that. The look on his face, Liv. I think I’ve hurt him. I think I’ve hurt him, bad.”
He clenched his fists with frustration, “It was like he wasn’t listening or like he didn’t trust me! You know how I can’t take being cooped up for long! I thought he knew that!” He started pacing, muttering as he went. “I’ve been away too long as it is. I haven’t checked orders in over a week. I’m behind on commissions. School started today!” He rounded to take Liv by the shoulders with some urgency. “Please tell me you picked up my class work?”
“Put me down,” Liv said sternly. “When have I not gotten your work? Do I look like a Neanderthal?”
“Sorry,” he let go and stepped back. “Things have been crazy what with Bobbie’s psycho mom. After that, the cops trashed my room. Then we moved in on you, Chuck, and Sandy. Oh, let’s not forget my getting sick after smoking pot and now my mom is ready to kill me, thanks to Harvey.” He heaved a heavy sigh as more came to mind. “Shit, but family counseling is Saturday at the same time as my run with the ‘Wall Crawlers!’ I’ll miss my run!” He sat and gripped his head, “I finally feel better and can get a handle on things and here Bobbie goes on about ’taking it easy’. I can’t take it easy, not yet! Why couldn’t he understand that? Why didn’t he trust me?”
Bright red drops of blood stained the ground at Deo’s feet. He grabbed a fresh tissue, “Now my nose won’t stop bleeding, ugh!”
Finally, something she could deal with. Liv grabbed tissues and pulled a chair out of the mess. “Here,” she said, “Sit, lean forward, head down.” She pressed the tissue to his nose to help put pressure on the arteriole causing the immediate problem. “This way,” she said, “any more blood you lose doesn’t go down your throat where it could make your stomach upset. Keep the pressure on it.”
He leaned forward and held the tissue as instructed. “It’th hard to talk like thi-th, you know,” he lisped.
“I’ll go get you a cold compress for your neck,” she said. “That should help. And talking like that is easier than talking while you barf or when you’ve bled out. Which you won’t do. Calm down; it’ll help.”
“You sound like Bobbie!” He called after her. He drooped sadly and resumed pinching the bleeding off. He continued talking while she worked nearby. “I don’t understand, Liv. He wanted me to think about us as a couple and when I did, he got upset.”
“What did he want?”
“What did he want?” Dev gave her a blank look. “I thought he wanted for us to do what couples do; pool resources, plan a life together, stuff like that.”
“Devon, Love, what did he say?” She returned with the compress.
“That was it,” He looked up. “Just that he wanted us to think more like a couple.”
Gently resting the icepack on the back of his neck, Liv wondered how to ask the next question. “Has he ever told you what being a couple means to him?”
The Greek boy paused at that. It seemed obvious by his silence that Bobbie did not tell him, nor did Deo think to ask. He assumed he knew. Clearly, given Bobbie’s reaction, Deo was wrong. What else was he wrong about? His mind raced, thinking back to how that one mistake might have led him astray in other ways. It led him to reflect on many things, much more than he expected. The magnitude of his mistake threatened to overwhelm him.
The fence appeared to loom ominously in the artist’s mind. Devon’s gaze flicked to the hastily thrown-together archery target and then to the walls surrounding it--and him. Devon felt suddenly suffocated. He pushed past Liv without explanation and entered the house. The tighter confines inside snapped at his heels in a claustrophobic nightmare, leaving Devon struggling to breathe until he pushed out through the front door, into the yard, and under the open sky. There, he leaned against his car, pointedly looking into the sky where he could see no walls.
Liv followed him, alarmed by the sudden rush of activity. When he stopped, she watched him, making certain that he wasn’t ill again.
Her friend reached for her hand, keeping his gaze on the reddening sky as night time approached. “Everything,” Devon spoke. “I’ve made assumptions about everything and everyone. I never asked because I didn’t want to know. I was afraid of the answer.”
He turned his blue gaze to Liv. “I have to predict and define everything. I need to know, to control, or else I leave myself open … exposed.” He lowered his gaze thoughtfully. “I need walls, see?” He peeked from under his brow. “Work, school, my business, blogging, archery, parkour, everything I do is to put up walls that I can predict and control. I use it as a shield. I use it as a distraction to keep from thinking about what’s out there.”
“What’s out there?” she asked, prompting him gently.
“My father,” he braced with one hand on the fender while he held the compress to his neck. “You remember how I used to love the woods? I camped out every night I could, looking up at the stars. It let me get away from my brothers, from the yelling; from Papa. Then he came for me and the night no longer felt safe. I’m afraid to look out at night because I might see Papa’s eyes.” He turned to Liv, “You helped me see what I was doing and how it led to what I did to Bobbie. He said something before he left, something I didn’t understand until now.”
“What did he say?”
“He said, ‘Don’t share your life if you can’t.’ I know now that he meant for me not to shut him out of my life. My walls, my illusions were more important.” He offered Liv a sad little smile. “Heh, you know how, when I learn a lesson I apply it instantly to every part of my life? Yeah, this one royally sucks. I’ve been stupid again. I don’t blame Bobbie for leaving me.”
“Leaving you? Devon, you sweet dumbass, I think he just went to cool off. He’ll be back.”
“I hope you’re right,” Devon breathed a forlorn sigh. “I screwed up, big time. It never occurred to me but it makes sense. All this time I wanted to go home. I wanted to prove to Papa that I could be successful on his terms. I wanted to win his love and respect but it was all a lie. It wasn’t my life. I didn’t do any of it for me. It was all for him and to keep from thinking about it I stayed busy. Bobbie kept trying to get me to slow down but slowing down meant thinking. The more he pushed, the more I resented it and pushed back. I push him away and now he’s gone.”
“Oh, Dev,” Liv said gently, pulling him into her arms, “Devon, my sweet, gentle fool, surely Bobbie isn’t gone. If he is, I’ll kick his ass from here to Texas and back again, because he didn’t deserve you in the first place. I’m certain he’ll be back.”
“I’ll never let him go if he does,” Deo returned her hug when a brief car horn honk startled him.
The artist looked on with slack-jawed amazement as Bobbie’s car pulled into the drive on the opposite side of Devon’s car from where they stood. Bobbie climbed out and sat two large bags on the roof of Devon’s car. The aroma of delicious Greek food wafted under Deo’s nose, drawing a growl of anticipation from his stomach. The green-eyed dancer peered across the car roof with bashful uncertainty.
“I bring a peace offering. I’d like to talk if it’s okay.”
-To be continued-