(damaged boys) 19

(damaged boys) 19: and the rain quietly stopped
There were five of them in the row of townhouses, and underneath the sheen of public normalcy and personal success lived the gaping damage within.
and the rain quietly stopped
The unit sat empty for four months. The windows remained dark and lifeless, much like they did when Braden lived in those rooms. Everything remained as he’d left it. The furnishings and accessories were all there, it was all for sale, and it was better that way. Better to say goodbye to all of the old belongings, the old way of living. He was in a new life now. A life where there was no use for chrome and stainless steel. A life where there was warmth and light. He would not decorate his new home to reflect the month of November.

Braden visited once more to make final arrangements and walked through his former home. He was careful not to switch on the lights or to draw attention to his presence there. He didn’t need the neighbors to notice. He didn’t need to explain his absence. He didn’t want to look into their questioning and judgmental eyes. No, best he should keep quiet and not attract anyone’s undesired attention. He walked through this place he formerly called home and wondered aloud if anyone had actually ever lived there. It was as if he’d barely left an imprint, nothing remotely traceable to him. No evidence that this place was of him, carefully crafted and controlled. In the end, he’d designed himself right out of it. There was no proof of life here. If anyone had asked, no one would know that Braden was ever here at all, and all at once he was reminded why he needed this move…why he needed this total transformation.
As he walked through the living room, he noticed a dark coin on the floor. He examined it: an old penny dropped by one of the prospective buyers, no doubt. It was not his, and if there was luck in a found penny, the luck was not his. He left the copper disc on the floor where he’d found it. Someone else needed it, not him. He locked the door behind him and slipped down the block before anyone had noticed he was there at all.
Braden was done with his life in this city. Braden was becoming someone else, someone who liked shades of gray, and shades of satisfaction and maybe even happiness…maybe. Charleston was home now. Charleston had colors and warmth and people stewed in sea and sun. Things smelled of rain in the sunshine and of clean cotton. Things were perfect and exhilarating and undone.
Ben and Marcus noticed it first. They were returning from the gym when the ‘sold’ placard stared garishly red at them, plastered along the upper length of the For Sale sign.
Corey had seen them in and out of the unit several times recently, the woman and her son. Sandwiched by the straight people, he thought.
Daniel and Jeanine were introduced to the new neighbors by the realtor, Maxine. Jeanine liked them. It would be nice to have another woman in the row of townhouses.
Ellen and her 18 year old son Ryan moved into Braden’s old place on Saturday. The large moving trucked pulled up, and within five hours, had completely unloaded the sum total of their lives into their new home.
Ryan liked the sleek interior, the contemporary feel, the sense that he was urbane and special and living in the city. He was eager to start school in the winter quarter, just after the first of the year. Even though he’d be living on campus, this would still be an amazing place to call home. It was a far cry from the 19th century farmhouse they’d owned when living in Wallingford. He’d surmised that this was the perfect place in which to start over, and he’d wanted that more than anything.
“Ryan, your soccer stuff ended up in my room, do you want it in your room or do you want to take it down to the storage room?”
“I’ll take it downstairs.” No need for reminders of high school now. All of his championship team memorabilia could be stowed safely away.
Ryan took the large box down the steps into the clean cement-floored storage room just off of the garage. He paused and looked through the box. There were trophies and plaques, soccer patches not sewn onto his varsity jacket, certificates and photos. He looked at the photo of him and his best friend James after their Districts victory. They were both so high on the win, happy to be on the best team, happy to be together. The photo caught them in the middle of laughing, arms casually flung around each other enjoying the moment. Ryan smiled as he switched off the light and took the photo upstairs.
He missed James. But it hadn’t been the same since the whole gay thing happened. It had been months since they’d even spoken, but it probably was for the best. In time, maybe, but for now, well, life had to move on. And, for the first time, he didn’t cry…there was no more rain in the cloud.

Aug 22, 2006 By Todd 14 Comments