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Chapter 19

by Michael Peterson

Be advised that in the following one will find graphic sexual depiction between minors and minors and adults. The story is fiction but based on real characters, events, places and situations. There is no relationship between the names used and that of any real person.

The two men in white dragged me down the stairs wearing only my socks, underwear and the straight jacket. I lifted my feet and let them do all the work.

'Cut it out, kid, you can walk.'

'Fuck you' was in my throat but I kept it there. 'Then, slow down.'

They didn't. I kept my feet up.

My mother didn't appear though I was sure she was in her bedroom and almost certainly knew what was going on..

They had a white Cadillac ambulance complete with the red cross on the side. I was strapped to a wheeled cot in the back. They drove quickly out the drive and down the hill.

The windows were curtained. I was facing toward the back so I quickly lost track of where we were heading though it seemed they headed north since I felt us go over the bridge and turn left. In addition, there was no sound of traffic or much stopping such as they'd have had to do at red lights.

I also lost track of time so wasn't sure how long we were on the road. We rode along a fast highway for quite a while, turned off it into some moderate traffic then went fast again for another hour or so. It gave me time to think and rid myself of some of my pessimism at being able to get out of such a seemingly impossible situation.

It was my desire to kill my father that drove me to look for ways to escape. All my plans ended with the knife plunging into his chest or the bullet entering his head. Getting away beyond that point didn't seem necessary. Henry Lloyd's death was the only liberation I craved.

The tentative plan I put together was adaptable to the conditions that existed at the institution to which I was being delivered.

Basically, it called for passive resistance, some obedience and an eye for a way out. By the time we pulled up and I was pulled out, I felt certain, that, as before, I would find a way to beat these people, my latest and possibly most formidable foes.

Rather than release me from the stretcher I was strapped to, the two men, not the ones who had brought me there, who opened the broad door of the ambulance hauled me out on it. They walked so quickly inside that I had little time to look around before the double doors closed behind us.

We were in the country. Quick looks to either side revealed great expanses of grass with trees here and there. There didn't appear to be any other man made structures within sight. Inside, I was towed down a broad hall then off to the left down a slightly narrower hall. There were doors on both sides but no people, nor voices. It was like we were the only ones there.

At the foot of a broad stairway, I was again lifted off the floor and carried. I must have been getting heavy. I could hear one of the men huffing by the time we reached the top of the second flight of stairs. They dropped the stretcher hard onto the floor and returned to towing me. We headed in the direction from which we'd come on the floor below. Rows of close set doors lined the broad corridor. Still, it was quiet though the squeaking and squealing of the wheels could easily have blocked a lot of sound.

Abruptly, they stopped in front of a white painted door with a small heavily screened window near the top. One pulled a large ring of keys from his pocket and, after trying two unsuccessfully, managed to unlock it. The stretcher was turned and shoved inside by the other man's foot.

'Relax, kid. Don't do nothin' stupid. We're gonna cut you loose, okay?'

I looked at him like he was daft but said nothing.

They opened the three straps then pulled me up and off the stretcher. One pushed the stretcher out the door and closed it while the other turned me around and began releasing the straps on my straight jacket. The other pushed past us and stood in front of me. The room was that narrow.

The one in front stood facing me like he expected me to become violent, or fall down. I wasn't sure which.

The strait jacket opened in the back allowing my arms to fall to my sides, tugged there by the heavy canvas which the man behind me yanked off. I took a breath which seemed to make the man in front jump slightly. I smiled. He frowned.

The one behind said, 'Take off your shirt, kid.'

That surprised me. 'Why? It's mine.'

'Just do it. There's pajamas and a robe on the bed.'

The rebellious side of my brain wanted me to refuse. The practical side ordered my hands to take it off. I dropped it into the waiting hand of the scowling man in front.

'Go up there by the window,' ordered the voice behind me. The man with my shirt turned against the wall to let me pass. I obeyed. That was the plan. Had to stay with the plan. Fuck these clowns.

The room was about five feet wide but probably a dozen long. A bed was on the same side as a small table and chair at the door end. Beyond the bed and toilet at the far end was a window with a radiator underneath. Across from the toilet, which had a flush valve rather than a tank, was a thick hand sink. There was a heavy screen over the window on the inside. Bars covered the outside.

The door shut. The lock was turned. I was a prisoner.

A chill passed through me, partially caused by the cool air. I put on the white, heavy pajamas. Written across the back and front was `Green Haven', probably the name of the institution. The pajamas and the thin robe which I also put on, were all too large for me. Equally oversized canvas slippers were on the floor just under the middle of the bed. I put them on too. I looked out the window. Visible was a broad, treed lawn that ended a couple hundred yards away where it met dense woods made up mostly of deciduous trees though a few evergreens were scattered along the edge.

The wall was easily a foot thick, preventing me from seeing very far side to side. No other structures were in view. Other than a pair of squirrels, free squirrels I remarked to myself, nothing else moved.

There was no way to tell where I was though it seemed certain I'd eventually meet others, one of whom would know our location.

I sat on the bed. Its springs squeaked almost as loud as the stretcher wheels. I sank into the weak middle. I let myself go and lay down, suddenly feeling very depressed, sad, missing Freddy, close to tears. This wasn't camp. It was much worse. I wasn't going home in a few weeks. It was possible my father had sent me here for the rest of my life. What if I couldn't escape? No! That couldn't be, wouldn't be. I would get away, get to Henry Lloyd and kill him. He would pay!

The silence was broken occasionally by the sounds of movement but rarely voices. Toilets flushed a few times. I got the impression there was someone in the room behind the wall by my bed. I put my ear to the door, then lay on the floor to listen under it. Someone seemed to be humming but it wasn't sure how far or close they might have been. Feet went up and down the stairs a few times. Two sets of feet walked down my hall. I stood and caught a quick glimpse of two white clad men moving away. There was the sound of keys, a door being opened, muffled but unexcited voices, a door closing. The men walked by with a mid-teenager by the arms. The kid looked to be sleepy or drugged. His head came up slightly as they walked by but dropped as he passed me. None of them looked my way. Were they going to do that to me?

A lunch of chicken soup, ham and cheese sandwich and milk was brought to the door an hour or so after I arrived. I was ordered to stay on the bed while they opened the door and put the food on the table. The soup was cool, the milk warm, the sandwich dry. Along with everything but the well cared for grounds, everything I'd seen suggested state institution. My father had probably paid someone off to take me in but nothing beyond that. He'd gotten rid of me cheaply.

I looked at myself in the mirror built into the wall above the table. It was a pathetic sight.

The afternoon went by as the morning except that they collected my dishes and spoon, leaving the paper cup the milk had come in. The teen was brought back looking a bit more alert. Two others were taken from their rooms. They too were young, one possibly my age. Both seemed sad, uninterested in what was happening to them. Both were returned within an hour of being taken away. Both needed help to walk. Rather than drugged, they appeared to have been hurt, badly weakened. There was pain on their faces. Both clutched their chests as though cold. I heard the bed springs of the one closest to me. It sounded like he'd fallen heavily on the bed, on been dumped on it.

The spector of what might have happened to them inspired me to examine my room more thoroughly, particularly the window and door. The inside window screen was on hinges with a pair of padlocked hasps and staples on the left hand side. The hinge pins were welded in place. It was possible the metal frame could be pried out of the heavy wooden window frame but the bars on the outside were far more formidable. The vertical and horizontal round iron or steel bars were nearly half an inch in diameter and welded together. I couldn't tell how they were fastened to the stone wall but guessed they were set in cement and not easily removable.

The door opened out so the hinges were not available. The latch and lock were large and heavy. A steel plate folded around the mechanism making it impossible to tamper with and blocking the crack between the door and frame where the lock tongue passed over.

The walls were plastered and very solid. The ceiling was high and, strangely to me, made of tongue in groove wood slats. The light fixture was a bulb inside a heavy wire cage. There was no switch inside. I looked out and saw that there was a light switch beside each door in the hall.

No one appeared in the windows of any of the doors.

I did my exercise routine, all the while listening, half expecting someone would be coming for me at some point. They didn't.

Dinner was considerably better than lunch and served from a stainless steel cart with drawers and steaming containers on top. I was served roast beef, boiled potatoes and carrots and difficult to identify fruit drink. It occurred to me it might have some kind of drug in it so tossed the greater part in the toilet. I felt silly afterward. They could easily drug any part of my food and I'd have no way of knowing.

The sun was going down to the left of my window when the two men came to pick up the dinner dishes. As before, I was told to get back by the window while the door was opened. I wondered if others were treated with such caution so I watched. They weren't, at least the ones across from me that I could see. The room directly opposite mine housed a boy who, from a brief look, couldn't have been more than sixteen. He was sitting on his bed, staring out the door toward mine. I waited to see if he'd come and look out his window after the men had left. He didn't.

My spirit, which had been wobbling up and down all day, took a plunge. I was surrounded by misery and hopelessness. There were probably twenty rooms on each side of that expanse of dull, sterile corridor. There were at least twenty young people in those narrow cells, young people who would normally been loud and boisterous but instead were silent, seemingly resigned to an existence that was barely that. I guessed they were all drugged, and that I would be too. My life, up to then so full of friends, school, sex, so much to do, had come to a sudden halt, like a puffy cream pie thrown against a concrete wall.

I sat on the bed then slipped to the floor, feeling like I was going to cry but just lying on the granite tile, feeling increasingly doomed. Freddy! Oh Freddy. God, I needed him. I clutched my arms to themselves and tried to scream out but was too afraid to do so. Fear flowed through me like water into a dry sponge. I felt like I weighed a thousand pounds.

Why hadn't I taken off, run away when I had the chance? Why did I return to my father after my grandfather's death? Education! Jesus! I did it to continue my education. That's what everybody said I had to do. Even I believed that bullshit. Where was my education now? Gone! Over! I knew something would happen. Something always happened with that son-of-a-bitch. He was just waiting for an excuse. How could I have been so stupid?

I awoke in the morning, wrapped in the spread, blanket and sheet of my bed. There was no memory of getting off the floor. The sun was lighting the tops of the trees across the grounds. The shadow of the building darkened the grass below my window nearly out to the woods. The radiator was warming. I sat against it with the bedding around me and leaned against the toilet.

The door looked farther away than I knew it was. I'd been there less than a day and already felt beaten. That wasn't my plan. What was my plan? Escape was the goal, no, murder was the goal.

Breakfast came. It was a soft boiled egg, barely warm, cold stiff toast and watered down orange juice. From the floor below the window, I stared at it on the table. As the lock was turned, I noticed a drawer in the table. For some reason, I hadn't seen it before. Curiosity rather than hunger got me off the floor. I expected the drawer to be empty but it wasn't. There were pictures inside, lots of them, of naked men, women, teen and younger boys and girls. For a minute or so, I was quite confused by the discovery then the truth struck me like the punch line of a bad joke. Still, it made me smile. The realization of what they were probably there for sucked the depression out of my brain, energized me.

'Jerks!' I muttered and laughed quietly. The idiots had no idea what I liked and wanted to find out. Select your sexual partner was name of the game. Fuck them! I slammed the drawer shut and attacked my breakfast. They didn't know shit about me. Certainly my father had told them I was a fag. The females were just there as cover. They wanted to know whether I like men, teens or little boys.

One thing for certain, they were somehow watching me, but from where. I finished eating then sat on my bed, leaning against wall, again inspecting the room though this time looking for a hole or crack in the wall, the ceiling. Then I saw it. It was obvious to anyone with a grain of common sense. There was a mirror over the table. Why in the world would there be a mirror over the table and not one at the sink? It certainly wasn't there to help me comb my hair. I shook my head. These clowns weren't so bright. I could beat them. I just had to keep myself together, try to avoid any drugs they might be using to deaden my spirit.

I put together a list of things I needed to avoid like all beverages, sauces, anything liquid. It had to be done in a way that they couldn't tell what was going on. I got up and walked to the window. They'd have a hard time seeing me at that end of the narrow room. I could carry things there and pretend to be drinking or eating though really be dumping them into the toilet. I'd have to appear sleepy like the rest, unless, of course, they weren't drugging me. Shit!

Using the same strategy that kept me going in the detention room at Camp McFarlane, fantasizing torturing and murdering my father, I passed the morning and afternoon. The meals were small but decent. I was brought a tooth brush and an envelope with dental powder. I drank water from the sink faucet.

I did my exercise routine and tried running in place but, after a short wile, the hard floor hurt my slippered feet. There was a concern that the small meals wouldn't be enough to cover my needs. I usually ate considerably more.

No one came on the floor except to deliver meals or take away dishes but, it was Saturday. Only the custodial staff would be on. Again, the coming of night seemed to rob me of the motivation to fight them. It occurred to me that one of two things was going on. Either they were trying to weaken me, break any resolve to fight them, or there was no plan at all. I was just being warehoused. Could they get away with that? Even in a state institution, one would think they would have to justify the presence of any individual. The other kids on my floor were being taken out for something.

Around mid morning Sunday, several sets of feet came onto the floor. Keys jingled. Latches were turned. Doors were opened. I went to my door and looked out. An increasing number of boys were being assembled in the corridor. Each carried a towel. I waited for my door to be opened. The men ignored me and nudged the dreary mob forward. One boy about my age looked briefly at me but turned away. There'd been no emotion, no communication, just an empty glance.

They all came back perhaps half an hour or more later. Their hair was wet. Everyone was put back into their rooms. None looked at me.

The next four days were increasingly miserable. Many of the boys were taken places and returned. Most were taken off to shower again on Tuesday afternoon. Pressed against the wall by my bed, I tried masturbation but that required mental images of things that were possibly gone out of my life forever, and, of course, Freddy. My dick went soft. I tried saliva but was only able to produce the slightest inflation. Worse, the inability to even get a hard on depressed me further. I had to get my thoughts elsewhere, in more positive directions. I went back to fantasy torture and murder then plans to embarrass my father, cause him to lose all he had, then, when he was totally down and out and alone, kill him slowly.

Everyone but me, it seemed, went again to bathe on Thursday.

Friday morning, I asked the man who brought me breakfast, 'When do I get to take a bath?'

'Ask the doctor,' was his curt reply.

'I haven't seen any doctor. When do I see the doctor?'

He shrugged his shoulders and left.

Maybe I was being too compliant. Maybe I needed to do something that forced a reaction, but something that wouldn't cause me too much trouble. The pictures were still in the drawer I hadn't opened since seeing what was inside. I didn't want to give them what they wanted, just something to get their attention.

Shortly after my breakfast dishes were taken away, I pulled out the stack of photos. They were not out of some magazine but were eight by ten black and white photographic prints. Rather than look them over, I folded them one by one into paper airplanes and tossed them toward the window. It didn't take long. I'd just thrown the third one when I heard the door next to mine open and feet walk hurriedly down the hallway then the stairs. By the fifth, footsteps came toward my door. Keys came out and my door was opened.

'What the hell're you doing, boy,' asked a white suited man I had seen taking boys from other rooms.

I shrugged my shoulders. 'Making paper airplanes.'

'Give me them!' he snapped as he grabbed the remaining photos off the table and went about picking up the ones lying about the room where they'd fallen. He didn't seem concerned I'd jump him as were the ones who delivered the food. I wondered if that had been a put on too.

'So what am I supposed to do here all day. I don't even know what I'm here for. I wanna talk to the doctor.'

'You dumb punk! You know what these cost?' He held out the bent up photos, stared angrily at me for a moment then stomped out.

'So when do I get to talk to somebody?' I shouted as he closed the door.

There was no answer.

I have no idea how I got through the weekend. Other than meals, absolutely nothing happened to break the monotonous nothingness of each day, each hour. I even tried running in place on my bed but couldn't maintain my balance. The end of each exercise was painful, an increasing strain. I wasn't receiving enough food to maintain the routine. I tried to figure out a way to get the screen and its frame out of the wall then possibly use it to pry apart the bars on the outside of the window. But, any idiot could have seen that the heaviest part of the screen's frame was no match for any part of those bars.

If I could break apart the frame, perhaps I could use it as a chisel and dig out the bars from the wall. Sure, do all that while being watched through the mirror over the table.

I had to get out of that room.

It was raining Monday morning. Breakfast, appropriately, was watery scrambled eggs, cold hard toast and a fruit drink I tossed down the toilet. Shortly after the dish and cup were collected, men came on the floor to take some of the boys somewhere. To my amazement, my door was the second opened. The same gruff man who stopped me from mutilating the photos said, 'Let's go, kid.'


'You said you wanted to see the doc. Well, he said to get you so let's go.'

I shuffled to and out the door. Another boy was being taken out by another man. He was tall, thin, deathly pale, about a year or two older than me. He didn't turn his head as he trudged by. It sent a shiver down my spine. Would I become like him?

The man led me to the first floor, to an anteroom with a white suited, middle aged woman behind a desk with a heavy black typewriter she was banging on hard enough to emboss the paper in the carriage.

My guide said, 'Lloyd.'

The woman ignored him for a few more strokes then pressed a button on a varnished wooden box and said, 'Lloyd's here.'

A voice answered from the same box, 'Goot. Bring him in.' It was a voice out of a lot of World War II B movies.

The man pushed me toward a paneled door along side the secretarial desk. It had a brass plaque on it announcing that Dr. Manfred Hein was on the other side. His office was large and paneled with a number of built-in wood shelves full of books and stacks of journals or magazines. Behind a broad walnut desk sat a bespectacled older man, probably pushing sixty though his light brown hair showed no grey. He was clean shaven and wearing a well pressed dark brown suit with a dark red speckled tie. He waved me to a leather upholstered chair without looking up from whatever he was reading in a file folder.

The man stayed by the entry door. I looked over the room. Eight feet to my right was a psychiatrist's sofa and stuffed chair. The desk was huge, easily eight feet wide, elegantly finished with carved molding, piled with file folders and books though the middle was clean and clear. There were paintings here and there, old canvasses of landscapes and portraits of four men, one of them, Sigmund Freud. There was a statue of a Roman soldier with a sword and spear on the shelf behind his desk. The windows had heavy, drawn back curtains but no bars.

From my chair, I examined the books on his desk and the shelves. The titles were in English, German, French and some other language I couldn't identify. Among those on his desk was the Kinsey Report.

It was possibly fifteen minutes before the doctor raised his eyes to mine.

There were no greetings, just, 'So tell me, Malcolm, vy do you vant to kill youah father?'

Part one of the plan was to say nothing until I got a feel for what to and not to say. So, I ignored his question.

He raised his eyelids a little, showing off the blue below. 'You don't haf to be afraid of talking to me. I am an employee of the state, not your father. He vas here, you know, last week. He vants to help you wis your problem. He seemed a decent man to me. So vy do you try to kill him. He says you tried three times.'

I couldn't keep my mouth shut. 'He attacked me lots of times. I was just defending myself. He's a lot bigger than me.'

'He didn't attack you last Monday. Remember, my men ver zer. I haf zer report.'

'What about my school? I was only with him so I could go to school.'

With mock surprise, he said, 'So you miss a little school and make your life much better. He iss doing a goot zing for you. You vant to be a queer all your life? I hope not.' He smiled.

I boiled inside but shut up, angry at myself for saying anything.

He asked, 'You like being a queer, Malcolm?'

It was a loaded question. I couldn't well try to deny my homosexuality, not after my arrest or whatever they called it, for hustling, the admissions in front of my parents, and the apparent way I acted.

The doctor continued to stare at me, then, 'You don't haf to live like zat. Look at all za problems you are hafing like at Camp McFarlane, getting arrested. Vee can make you normal here. Vee vill make you normal here. If you help us, it vill be much easier. You do vant to be normal, don't you, Malcolm?'

I shook my head slightly, not in disagreement but disgust. This man had kidnapped me, taken away my chance for an education, taken me away from my friends and life, locked me in a room by myself, and left pornographic pictures for me to look at. There was nothing normal about any of that.

He stood and walked around his desk. His walk was slow but deliberate, almost military.

He stopped nearly in front of me, hands clasped behind him, head up, eyes looking down at me in my chair, sparking more images from those World War II flicks. The doctor wasn't particularly tall, probably only a couple of inches more than me. But, he was thick, probably muscular. There was a hint of a paunch. His shoes were broad and well shined.

I got the impression he was waiting for me to say, or do, something. I stared back for a moment then shrugged my shoulders and looked down at my folded hands.

'Zo, you vill cooperate vis us? It vill be much easier for you, ant you vill be much happier. You can haf a girl friend, get married, be like everybody else. Much better, no?'

I changed the subject. 'When do I get to take a bath?'

'Zis morning if you vant. But you must promise to vork vis us, cooperate vis your treatment, don't try to kill anybody.' He chuckled.

'I won't kill anybody,' I replied with a smirk.

'Goot! Tomas, take my frient Malcolm to Vard D. Let him shower vis za ossers.'

Thomas, apparently the man who'd brought me and had stayed by the door, motioned for me to come with him when I looked back.

'Tomorrow or za next day vee talk, eh, Malcolm?' said the doctor.

I shrugged my shoulders. It was unlikely I'd have any choice in the matter.

Thomas stayed close behind me as we walked down the corridor. He guided me with nudges to my shoulder. We went back up the stairs but to the right rather than left at the top. About ten yards ahead the cross corridor went in opposite directions. We turned left. A few feet ahead was a glass door with wire screening on both sides. Inside was a relatively short hallway perhaps twenty feet long. To the left was a white ceramic tiled opening to a large shower room. On the right, a middle aged, hard looking man sat at a grey metal desk. Behind him was a screened opening onto a bathroom with a number of toilets, about twice as many urinals and a long row of hand sinks. There were no mirrors above them. Ahead was another door, open in the middle but for very heavy screening, certainly tough enough to prevent an easy breakthrough. There were windows to each side with similar protection.

Thomas said, 'Lloyd,' to the man at the desk. He nodded, got up and pulled up a key that hung from a metal chain on his belt.

I looked into the large dormitory beyond the second door. There was a fair number of young people inside, teens for the most part, some on their single beds, others at tables, a few just standing about though mostly at windows. One, about my age, stood at the door. The man told him to, 'Get back, kid, back.'

The boy took a few steps backward but stayed facing us, looking at me.

'Jordan, go to your bed! Now!' insisted the man.

The boy took a few more steps back. There didn't seem to be much comprehension in his eyes. Though he was looking directly at me, I wasn't sure he actually saw me.

The man with the keys entered and gruffly turned the boy around and pushed him in the direction of the beds on the left side. Jordan stopped in front of one then just stood there for a moment looking slowly side to side then pulled his hands up to his chest and looked down at them.

I was nudged inside by Thomas. The man with the keys said, 'Lloyd, you're on bed seventeen, down there. I'm gonna be watching you so don't go doin' nothin' stupid.'

About half the heads in the room turned my way. The rest stayed where they'd been.

There were eight square tables, each with space for four chairs though some had more or less, scattered about the middle of the broad room. Beds at a right angle to the wall lined each side. Each had a large number on a white plaque over it. Number thirty-eight was near the entry on the right side. Mine was next to last on the left.

I walked slowly toward it. Everyone wore the same slippers and loose fitting whitish pajamas with Green Haven front and back as I. Some had on their robes. The eldest couldn't have been more than eighteen, the youngest, lying on a bed staring emptily at the ceiling, might have been ten or eleven. Most of the bhe boys at the tables were playing checkers, dominos or cards. A couple were drawing or fingerpainting. There was very little talk, all soft. No one was smiling, much less laughing.

At least a dozen pairs of eyes followed my progress through the room toward my bed. One boy about my age giggled. An older boy across from him flashed a dirty look. The giggling stopped but not the silly look.

Most appeared about as animated as the boys who'd passed my door where I'd been housed to that point. I immediately suspected many or all were drugged.

I sat on my bed with my back against the wall. The bed squeaked each time I moved. The pillow was only a couple of inches thick. The wall was cold. I put the pillow between me and the wall and looked around.

The boy who'd giggled was watching me over the top of a hand of cards. Another at the same table examined me, his head cocked to one side, a look of curiosity on his face. The older boy said something to him. He looked down at his cards, tossed one into the middle of the table then returned to staring at me.

At the next table, all four were looking back at me. A couple whispered something only they could hear. One rose and walked toward me. His tablemates's eyes stayed on me.

The boy, my size but possibly a year older than me, asked, 'What's your name?' There was an effeminate lilt to his speech.

He seemed friendly enough so I answered. 'Malcolm, what's yours?'

'You mean my real name or what they call me here?'

'I don't know. Why don't they use your real name?'

'Well,' he sat on the side of my bed, head erect, hands folded ladylike in his lap, 'my real name is a secret. They call me Marlon here.'

His adolescent voice had a forced high pitch to it. I wasn't sure how to respond.

I asked, 'Why are you here?' more to get a feel for what I was facing rather than any real curiosity about Marlon or whatever his secret name might have been.

He leaned a bit toward me and said in a slightly conspiratorial way, 'They don't like the way I talk so I speak differently when I'm with them.'

'Who, the doctors?'

'Any of them. They all tell on you so be careful what you say. Why did they send you here?'

'I'm not sure yet,' I lied.

I noticed another boy from the same table as Marlon walking toward us. A smaller boy about eleven or twelve was crawling across beds in my direction.

Marlon asked, 'Are you queer? There are a lot of us here and you sound like you are. Are you?'

The other boy, tall and teen slim, also year or so older than me but as womanly as Marlon stood behind my interrogator and gently placed his hands on Marlon's shoulders. Behind them several others were approaching. I didn't sense any threat but wasn't about to admit anything about myself until I knew more about this group and my situation. Marlon waited patiently for my answer.

I shrugged my shoulders and lied. 'No, but I don't care if you are or not.'

The boy behind Marlon tilted his head and rolled his eyes. Another teen asked my name.

'Malcolm. What's yours?'

'For me to know and you to find out.' He grinned.

The giggler, who was among those now surrounding my bed, giggled. He wasn't silenced this time.

The kid who'd crawled across half a dozen beds lay across the one next to mine, number sixteen, and stared intently at me. He had pretty eyes. He didn't say a word.

One asked the others, 'Why'd he say he was here?'

'He didn't,' answered Marlon. 'He says he doesn't know, like I believe that.'

A moment of silence followed. A fat boy about my age pushed past the others and stared hard at me. 'You kill anybody?'

I smirked and answered, 'No, you?'

'Yeah, my sister and this other guy.' He smiled.

'He's lying,' said another teen. 'It was his aunt or something, and some other guy.'

The fat boy retorted in an angry whisper, 'It was my sister, jerk! You weren't there! I was! I oughta know! You're a real shithead, Bernie. You're lucky I don't kill people any more or you'd be dead right now. Shithead!'

Everyone seemed to wait for Bernie's response but he just shook his head and twirled his finger by his ear.

The youngest boy, a prepubescent twelve or so, neared me and sniffed. 'He stinks. Can't you smell him?'

'Shut up, Michael,' said the one called Bernie. 'They had him in one of those rooms all week. They always smell after that.'

Marlon shifted to one side and said, 'Malcolm. Even your name sounds queer. You really are one, aren't you?'

The older boy behind Marlon raised his eyebrows and half smiled as he said, 'You're in here for sex. I can tell. I used to like sex too but I don't any more, at least not with guys.'

There was silence for a moment as all of them seemed to be waiting for my answer. I just shook my head. 'Look, I've just got problems with my father is all.' I knew as I was saying it that my attempt at deflection would backfire.

'Hah,' said the teen behind Marlon. 'Most of us can say that. Did he catch you in bed with your boyfriend? God, they hate that.'

A couple of others including Marlon nodded their heads in agreement.

A barely pubescent boy who'd settled in next to the fat murderer said, 'You better not try to do any sex here or,...'

The fat boy completed his sentence, 'Zaaap! They stick you in the electric chair.'

'They're gonna do it to him anyhow,' said the boy behind Marlon. 'Malcolm's queer. They do it to all the queers to make us change. It's why I don't want to do any more sex, ever, at least not with guys.'

A man's voice shouted from the corridor behind the entry gate, 'Showers! Let's go!'

The remarks about an electric chair in which I too was to get zapped immediately become more important to me than the shower I'd craved moments before. But, everyone moved almost simultaneously, automatically. The ones at my bed did a quick turn and rushed to theirs. The few still at tables or standing about went to their beds. Those at their beds got up. There was no one left to ask.

Bare boy bodies appeared all over as pajamas were shed. Towels were picked off the bottoms of the beds. I followed suit. What was in front of me should have had my cock at full erection, but it didn't. My eyes did dart about at the buns marching off in front of me, some quite full, attractive. I was desperate to know about that frightening zapping business.

A silent, orderly line formed at the wire screen door which was promptly opened. We filed through the middle hall and to the left into the shower room where the water was already pouring out of at least a couple dozen shower heads. Steam drifted toward the peeling white plaster ceiling. Towels were placed on ceramic hooks on the white ceramic tiled wall by the entryway. There were small bars of soap in the white ceramic soap dishes to one side of each of the showers. All the heads were occupied. I waited my turn. The view was exciting. Though all a pale white, there were some well put together bodies in front of me, some with large cocks, some with little or no pubic hair. Five of the boys, including the one who had crawled over the beds to watch me, were still completely undeveloped. No one was looking at anyone else.

I turned. The man was standing in the door, observing. Was he watching me? Was this another test like the photographs?

An adolescent voice from beside me said quietly, 'He's making sure no one has any fun.'

I looked out of the corner of my eye. It was Marlon. He had his head slightly down. I got the impression he was looking at my groin. His hands covered his though his fingers were obviously massaging what they were hiding.

'Nice,' he said and grinned.

'Can we talk in here?' I asked.

'Unh uh,' he answered and walked forward to a shower where a very skinny, smaller boy had stepped out of the water to wash himself.

I followed suit, taking one across from where my potential friend had gone. The boy who'd been under it, then soaping up, frowned but said nothing. I wet myself down quickly and moved out of the water. The boy, an older teen with a small dong covered by a considerable bush of dark brown, now wet, hair, handed me the soap. I washed myself thoroughly, making a point, to frustrate any typing by observing staff, of not looking at any of the other boys below the neck. The skinny pre-teen sharing the shower with Marlon gave me a strange, haughty glance then seemed to deliberately ignore me. Back in the water, I closed my eyes and enjoyed the feel of the hot water, an enjoyment broken into by, 'That's enough, rinse off. You got one minute.'

I stayed in the water until it was turned off.

The man ordered, 'All right, back into the ward.'

Everyone filed back inside. I dried as I walked back toward my number 17. The bobbing backsides were hard to ignore. One pair, a shade darker then the rest caught my attention. I guessed the well-built owner to be about sixteen. I had to force myself to keep my head facing forward as I passed him and his bed which I managed to note was number nine on my side. Fresh pajamas and underwear were on all our beds. There was only a murmur of chatter as we dressed. Bodies were covered with no remarks or the boyish playfulness one might expect in a room full of naked teens. Within minutes, everyone seemed to be back where they'd been when I walked in a bit more than half an hour before. The noise level was a couple of notches above where it had been suggesting the shower invigorated many.

Though I was anxious to learn about the electric chair, I didn´t want to appear a part of the homosexual contingent so forced myself to resume my position, sitting on the bed, my thin pillow between my back and the wall.

Marlon looked at me a couple of times but seemed more absorbed in his cards and a quiet though restrained animated conversation with the others. I tried to look interested in talking but obviously wasn't clear enough, or Marlon was too caught up in the game.

I noticed a few of the boys had books. A couple were actually reading theirs including the pre-teen who had given me the haughty glance in the shower. A scan of the room located a shelf full of old looking books. I went to check them out and was surprised to find Jules Verne's 'Mysterious Island' and 'Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea'. There were a set of the Horatio Hornblower series of C.S. Forester with its naval theme and, strangely enough, the second volume of Gibbon's 'Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire'. I took 'Mysterious Island' which I'd read but was content to read again and returned to my bed.

No one bothered me until lunch. Our meals were brought in on a large, enclosed, portable cabinet. Marlon hailed me to his table and held his hand on the seat of a chair so no one else would sit there. Being seen as a member of that group didn't seem a good move under the circumstances but my curiosity about that electric device overcame my sense of caution. We were served chicken noodle soup and thinly spread peanut butter and jelly sandwiches along with warm milk.

The conversation was about why no one was taken out for treatment that morning. The older boy, Bernie I learned, who'd earlier stood behind Marlon and insisted he no longer liked sex with guys commented, 'I think it's because there's a new kid. They wanna see what he does. They always do that.'

'How long have you been here?' I asked him.

'Me? Oh, forever, since I was twelve and I'm fifteen now.'

I had to ask, 'Why'd they put you in here?'

He grinned, 'My father caught me with this gorgeous older boy. He was fucking me like there was no tomorrow. I think they put his ass in a reform school but I don't know. That's what my mother said but she lies a lot, the bitch.'

'So how come you're still here?' I suspected and worried about the expected answer.'

'They say I'm still queer, that I'm not ready for society yet.' There was a tear in his voice but not in his eyes.

Another boy about his age said, 'They've zapped Brian more than any of us. Gives him nightmares. I can't get a hard on any more so what am I gonna do but they still won't let me go either and it's been two years, three months and seventeen days. The bastards.'

I asked, 'Does anyone ever leave here?'

That stopped the conversation cold. Eyes looked at inanimate objects.

Marlon broke the silence. 'A few but one went 'cause they killed him. Too much voltage or something. His heart stopped.'

That was the opening I needed. 'What's this electric chair?'

'You're gonna hate that, dearie,' answered Brian. 'They strap you in and connect wires to your fingers or toes, sometimes your head. Then they stick a rubber thing in your mouth so your don't break your teeth and zap you with electricity, a lot of it. They did it to me almost every week for months but they've only done it a couple times since then. I think they've given up on me. They just give me these pills all the time so I don't want any sex but I haven't wanted sex for a couple of years so I don't know why they still do that. I never want sex again, ever.' He shook his head in the saddest way.

I was terrified. 'So why do you think they're going to do that to me?'

'Because you're queer dearie. That's what they do to us. They say it will change us and make us like girls. It made me not want to do sex with anyone, ever. And I never will.'

His voice trailed off at the end. Again, he shook his head sadly.

My stomach wasn't going to accept any more food. No one else was eating either. I knew I had to get away from the place. I asked, 'What about the others who got out of here?'

Brian answered, 'This one kid got out 'cause of some lawyer but he was only here a few weeks. Joseph, that was his name, went to live with his grandparents 'cause he made them think he was a hetero. This other kid tried to run too many times so they put him in a prison for maniacs somewhere. That's what Mr. Coulter says.'

'You mean that everyone here is, homosexual?'

'Oh good grief no,' answered Marlon. 'Most of this bunch is nuts or dangerous. Look at the ones that just stare.' He pointed at the boys near the windows. 'Don't ever try to talk to any of them. They get really pissed.'

I immediately thought of Milton back at Camp McFarlane.

'Then you got the ones like Butch that killed his aunt and another man. See that blond haired kid playing checkers over there?' He pointed furtively across his chest at two teens playing checkers on a bed midway up my side of the room. 'He's some kind of German. His name is Klaus. We think he killed someone too.'

It was beautiful buns in bed nine. The boy must have somehow sensed we were talking about him because he glanced briefly our way. There was no emotion of any sort on his face. He seemed far more interested in his checkers game than what we were saying.

'He's here because Dr. Hein brought him here from Germany,' said a boy a bit older than me who hadn't spoken yet. 'He learned to talk English in here. He was here before you, Brian, right?'

Brian seemed to be thinking of something else and didn't answer.

The speaker took a bite of his sandwich. That seemed to awaken the hunger in the others. They all got back to eating or slurping soup. My stomach was in a knot but my survival instinct told me I needed to eat to conserve the strength I would need to make my escape. I bit into my sandwich.

Escape. The thought of it renewed me. I asked, 'Where is this place anyway?'

Marlon frowned. 'You don't even know where you are?' He explained that we were in a farm area some ninety miles west of my home town, twelve miles from the nearest town. 'Don't think about trying to run away from here. We've all thought about it. First, all you ever get to wear are these pajamas and your robe, a green and white coat in winter that says Green Haven across the back and in the front just like our pajamas. Everybody around here knows what they look like and they'll turn you in for the reward. We only get to go out after lunch, sometimes in the morning Sundays, never when it's dark. Anyhow, they're not gonna let you go out with us until you've been here for a month or two. And if they think you're gonna try to escape, they won't let you out period and they make you take pills, Thorazine, and you'll get like the kids over there and in bed and at the windows, real zombies. Don't even think about it. Anyhow, where're you gonna go without any money or clothes or a car or anything? Forget it.'

That was another conversation stopper. Everyone, including me, ate.

My mood slipped as I went over all the obstacles Marlon had mentioned and others that occurred to me. Even if I did manage to get hold of some clothes, They'd know I was gone very quickly. Police would be looking. There was no way I could get to a town twelve miles away on foot without someone seeing me. And if I did, then what? I'd have no money to make a phone call. With the reward, people out this way would be watching for anyone wearing these pajamas. Clothes would be essential for any escape. There had to be some locked away somewhere inside the hospital complex. I'd just have to find them, then figure a way to get them out of where they were, then find a place to hide them until my escape, a place I'd have access to at the time of my escape. It was a daunting task all by itself. Then there was the escape. I'd need Captain Video and his spaceship for that.

After lunch I went back to my bed to bury myself in Verne's 'Mysterious Island'. It worked for a while then the man in the corridor called out, 'Yard!' I assumed that meant going outside.

Most of the boys went and put on their robes. I figured I'd see what happened if I tried to join them. At the gate, the man put his hand in my chest and said, 'You don't got permission for outside yet, Lloyd. Back inside.'

I went back to my book.

I was in the middle of my exercise routine a few hours later when those who'd gone out returned. Probably because I was between the beds doing situps, no one seemed to notice and went back to what they'd been doing before leaving. I wondered if they allowed an afternoon shower. I was dripping sweat. I turned over and got into my second set of pushups. At about forty, out of the corner of my eye, I caught someone watching me.

'How many you do so far,' he asked with a noticeable German accent. It was beautiful buns.

I began counting out loud, 'Forty-two, forty-three...'

'That's pretty good. I can only do twenty-four or twenty-five.'

He stood and watched. I managed eighty-three then collapsed to the floor and rolled over, relaxing a bit before starting leg raises. He was a good looking boy, thick blond hair setting off a broad, handsome face with piercing blue eyes. He was easily as good looking as Simon from Bobby's house. I made a mental note to get a look at the front of him in the next shower.

'You're pretty good. That's three and a half times more than me. What else you do?'

I didn't really want to talk about it. I knew little about this boy other than his name, supposed nationality and buns. Then there was the suggested close relationship with Dr. Hein. 'Bunch of stuff.'

'Maybe I do some wis you, okay?'

I shrugged my shoulders.

He pulled bed number eighteen away and lay on the floor beside me, too close to do what I wanted. 'What we do now?'

'I need more space. Move over some.'

He moved. I started four count leg raises that required me to lift my legs off the floor an inch, then raise them another six inches up, spread them, bring them back together and finally lower them to the same inch over the floor before starting over.

Klaus tried to imitate what I was doing but kept putting his feet back on the hardwood flooring. I ignored his mistakes and kept on, going for the seventy-five I hoped for.

After a few minutes, he gave up and sat, watching me. At one point, he put his hand gently on my middle. 'You're really hard zere. You do zis a lot?'

I grunted affirmation. It was hard to tell if he was sincere or flattering. While I was certainly in far better shape than he, even through his floppy pajamas, it was clear Klaus was well built. His rolled up sleeves showed off bigger muscles than mine.

He asked, 'You do pull ups? I can do twenty-one, sometimes more.'

'There's nowhere in here to do pull ups.'

'You wait, I show you.'

Klaus hopped up and went to the grill into the corridor where he spoke to the man there. After receiving a grudging agreement to do something, he trotted back to me and pulled the bedding off of bed eighteen then stood it up against the wall. The wood crossbar between the legs was a bit low but would certainly work. He held the bed against the wall and said, 'C'mon. I hold it up for you zen you hold it up for me.

A few eyes had followed Klaus' trot back to me. When he raised the bed, some started to walk over to watch whatever it was we were about to do. The same little kid who had crawled over beds to me in the morning, performed his feat again, this time quicker, with more agility.

I started in. My knees hit the bottom of the bed each time I went up. Klaus began counting. By five, others were counting with him. At twenty, it sounded like everyone in the room had joined in. Self consciousness and a growing desire to laugh at the spectacle I'd made of myself stopped me at sixty-seven.

There was admiration in the comments from behind me but not just for my athletic prowess. Someone mentioned my 'pretty ass'.

Klaus said in a whisper, 'Maybe better I don't try zis. Everybody laugh when I can only do one sird of yours.'

Klaus seemed to have a head for math.

I asked him to hold the bed so I could see if hanging leg raises were possible. He agreed instantly. I turned, gripped the crossbar, lowered myself and managed, with the crowd counting, eight, well below my usual fifteen or so. They seemed disappointed.

Klaus said, 'I gotta try zat. I know I can do zat. Hold za bed.'

I held the bed. Klaus couldn't do any. He held it in but I could see the anger in his tight jaw. I decided it best to cut my routine short and avoid any problems. My prowess didn't include fighting an obviously bigger and probably stronger boy two years my senior, a boy who well might have killed.

'They let you shower in the afternoon?'

'No shower 'til Wednesday. Just sree times a week but maybe you ask Mr. Shultz. Maybe he say yes for you. I don't sink so but you ask.'

Someone else said, 'Yeah, go ask Shultz.'

It was a wasted trip to the door. Shultz just frowned and shook his head.

When someone said, 'But Mr. Shultz, look at him, he's all sweaty. Let him shower,' the speaker, a boy my age who hadn't been among the homosexual group, received a dirty look.

I went back to my bed then walked back and forth for a while to cool off. Klaus put bed eighteen back together again, even smoothing the sheets, then sat on it.

When I finally sat on my bed, he asked with a smile, 'What zey say about me?' He nodded toward the table where the homosexuals sat chattering over their cards.

'Just that you're name was Klaus and you were German.'

`Zey not say I kill somebody?'

'Not to me.'

'Anyway, I'm not German, I'm Austrian. Your name is Malcolm, yes?'

I nodded agreement.

'How come zey put you here, Malcolm?'

'Trouble with my father, I suppose. I don't really know.'

'You queer, Malcolm, like zem?'

'No, I'm not queer.'

'You sure? No big deal for me. If court don't send you and you not crazy like zose ozer guys, well, most guys like zat here are queers.'

'I'm not queer,' I replied as calmly as I could while worried inside that he'd figured me accurately. I tried to counteract the logic.

'I got busted, okay?'

'So za police get you. For what, Malcolm?'

'I don't wanna talk about it.' I really didn't.

'You don't gotta worry about me, Malcolm. I don't tell nobody nosing. Why you get busted?'

I shook my head and picked up my book.

'Okay, okay. You read. We do exercise tomorrow?'


I was a bit surprised he let go that easily. Though no one had suggested it directly, I'd gotten the impression that his closeness to Dr. Hein may have included feeding information gathered in the ward. I was very curious as to why Dr. Hein had bothered to bring him over from Austria, and, with that in mind, why he was locked up with us. He didn't seem queer but then neither had Martin nor Philip.

As I walked to eat dinner with Marlon and his group, a smaller boy, eleven or twelve, walked beside me for a moment and said, 'Be careful what you say to the Kraut; he's probably an informer,' and turned toward the food cart. I realized as he walked away that he had been the slim boy who glanced at me from the shower across from me, who apparently liked to read.

O course, he hadn't told me anything I didn't already suspect. Klaus' long relationship with Dr. Hein was sufficient for that. The boy didn't look back at me as he accepted a plate of food from the woman doing the serving. She seemed to know what he wanted. He returned to his bed and ate along side a book I'd seen him reading.

I asked Marlon about him. 'That's Jonathan. He's a nasty one. Thinks he's better than everyone else here. Doesn't talk to us peons. Just reads.'

'What's he here for?'

'Who knows. They zapped him a lot when he first came in so he might be queer but he doesn't act much like us so I don't know. Anyway, he doesn't talk to us so screw him.'

I raked in a bit more information on the treatment I should expect to receive. Of course, I was mostly interested in the so called electric chair.

According to my ward mates, it was used not just for treatment but punishment as well. Any one of a number of acts the staff considered misbehavior, from fighting all the way down to disrespect, could result in a painful jolt. One boy, a fifteen year old named Maurice, told me the pain could last for hours. He was expecting another session that week and wished there were a way he could kill himself first.

It was another ruined meal.

I had a hard time concentrating on my reading that evening, brushed my teeth three times, and had a terrible time falling asleep.

The following morning after breakfast, seven boys were taken out, including Maurice. When they came to get him, he fell on the floor and begged them to leave him alone. 'I won't do any more bad sex, ever again!' he cried. 'Just girls! I'll just do sex with girls! Please!'

They dragged him away crying, begging. One of the smaller boys who never seemed to leave his bed except to eat, cried uncontrollably though as quietly as he could into his pillow.

How would I stand up to the infernal machine?

When Maurice came back, he could hardly walk. He staggered in with his arms wrapped tightly across his chest. He had to search for his bed before sitting on it. No one went near him. It reminded me of the boys who'd returned in the same condition to their rooms the week before. The machine was apparently used a lot.

The little boy cried again.

Lunch was very quiet.

Wednesday morning in the shower, I got an eyeful of Klaus who had shed his pajama top to exercise with me the Tuesday afternoon, exciting me no end. His body was nothing short of magnificent with a great cock to match. A strong suspicion of Dr. Hein's sexual orientation grew. If he was homosexual with an interest in boys, it was easy to understand why he'd have brought this boy from Europe with him. He'd have been hard to leave behind.

I wasn't sent for until Friday. By then, I knew the routine. No one expected me to be given the electric treatment for another week or so. First, they said, they'd talk to me about the evils and pratfalls of homosexuality.

Dr. Hein saw me personally. I hoped there'd be some way I could avoid what had happened to Maurice and the others.

After inquiring how I was getting along with the others and enjoying the food, he asked, 'Do you make all zose exercises to make yourself more attractive to ze ozer boys, and men, I suppose?'

I measured my response. 'It just feels good. It makes me feel good all the time, and I almost never get sick.'

'Zat is a lot of vork jus' to feel good. Vy do you do so much. Look at you. You sure do a lot to haf all zose muscles. I'm sure za queer boys sink you are vewy beautiful, and zose men you go wis.'

'I just went with the men for money when I didn't have any. I didn't do it that much.'

'Ah, Malcolm. Zey say you vere on za street many times a veek ant you vent to bed wis many, many different men.'

'Whoever said that is a liar. I didn't go that much. The only reason I went downtown usually was to go to the library. I like to read.'

'If you don't go zat much to za street, vy do za police arrest you? Ant vere you learn to do such sings. Only homosexuals know such sings.'

'I didn't learn it.' That wasn't what I wanted to say. 'I was sitting in the park one day and this man talked to me and he was nice so I went with him to see his library at his apartment. After a couple of times, he got me to, you know, let him do me. He gave me five dollars. That's a lot of money.'

Dr. Hein smiled. 'Malcolm, you are za von who iz lying. You did sings to him. You like to do zose sings because you are a homosexual but I will help you forget zat. I vill make you normal zo you never vant to go wis men, just girls like all za ozer boys.'

He gave a speech about the horrible life 'queers' lived, how everyone hated them, sometimes beat them up or even killed them. 'You don't vant to live like zat, do you? Von't it be nice to be like za ozer boys, go to za dance wis a pretty young girl?'

'I've dated girls. I've even kind of done things with them.' Desperation was growing inside me. 'Back in eighth grade, this girl and I used to go into the bushes at my school. I didn't really do all that much. She wouldn't let me, but, you know.' I knew I'd said the wrong thing, that he'd never believe such a tale and hated myself for inventing it. Fear oozed out of me like juice from a stewed tomato. Dr. Hein sat back in his chair, probably feeling very victorious.

I went back to the ward more afraid than I'd ever been in my life, too frightened to even think of escape, not far from the desperation I'd seen in Maurice the night before they hauled him out.

The others must have sensed it when I was nudged back inside by Mr. Shultz because no one looked at me. In the shower moments later, I wondered if I could ram my head hard enough into the tile wall to kill myself, a stupid thought, brief, but enough to cause me to tremble at having such a thought.

After lunch, I realized that I'd read all of 'Mysterious Island' yet had only recollections from the first time I'd done so. None of what my eyes had seen had made it into my brain. I had to get away.

As I'd done in my room, I examined the windows and doors seeking a weakness I could exploit to escape the terrifying world I was trapped in.

Klaus didn't come by to join me in the exercises, which I didn't do.

Saturday crawled by like a train trying to climb a mountain on icy rails. That night, I had nightmares of being trapped naked in a long dark tunnel. Something was coming after me but the deep mud under my feet prevented me from running. Then, when I could, my legs just didn't seem to work. No matter how I tried, they wouldn't move. It was like each was tied to a huge rock. I threw up Sunday morning's breakfast minutes after managing only a few bites. Mr. Coulter, the ward attendant or watchman or whatever, put down his paper long enough to watch me clean out my mouth at the sink but didn't ask what was wrong. I was sure he knew.

Church services were called out, including Mass for Catholics. Jonathan, the boy who'd warned me about Klaus, got off his bed and went to the gate. To do something that might possibly divert my mind from the horrors I felt were coming possibly the next day, I joined him.

Before letting me out, Mr. Shultz, who had taken over for Mr. Coulter after breakfast, checked a list and must have found my supposed religious allegiance to be Catholic because he let me through. Another man walked behind us. Jonathan knew the way.

He had a strange walk, very upright, like he was walking along a chin high wall and looking for something on the other side. Even though he was a head shorter than me, the way he carried himself made him seem taller. He held one hand in the other behind himself as though casually protecting his rear entry. His dark brown hair was straight and a bit long but hugged his head like it was glued on right to the tips.

I caught up to him to ask what he was reading. He pursed his lips without turning his head and answered, 'Just the tripe that's available.'

His tone didn't indicate a desire for further conversation.

The chapel, which smelled a lot like the church my father attended, was small with only a dozen pews, six to a side and a simple, moderately ornate altar which looked like it may once have been a side altar in a large church. There were about a dozen others, all adults, scattered about, sitting and kneeling, quiet in their thoughts and prayers, all dressed in the same dreary pajamas with Green Haven printed in large block letters front and back.

Jonathan said, 'Sit up front and nobody will bother you there.'

I expected him to sit with me but he went up beside the altar and disappeared into a door there. Moments later, he reappeared with the priest and another man. He and the man wore red cassocks and white surplices just like those used by Stewart and the other altar boys in my father's church.

Only Jonathan knew the responses to the priest's prayers. The older man with him just stood and kneeled, following Jonathan's lead. During the short sermon on biblical admonitions to respect the things and rights of others, Jonathan sat with arms folded, head held high displaying a slim neck, and eyes closed as though thinking deep thoughts.

After Mass, on the way back to the ward, I made another attempt at conversation.

He answered my query about the book he was reading with, 'I am reading the third volume of Gibbon's Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, nothing you'd enjoy.'

'I've already read it, a few months ago. I thought it was interesting.'

Jonathan looked at me out of the corner of his eye for a second then, 'Why?'

'I like history, especially ancient history like about the Greeks and the Minoans on Crete but there's nothing like that here.'

He chewed on that for a moment. 'What grade were you in in school when they sent you here?'

'Freshman year in high school, just a couple months from the end of the year, less. Son-of-a-bitch.'


'My father.'

We reached the ward and were shooed inside. Jonathan went to his bed and I mine where I picked up my book. Jonathan's snootiness was a turn off and, I harbored a paranoia about relationships with others there. There was a lot of talk about snitches who told tales to ingratiate themselves with, and protect themselves from, the hospital staff.

But, moments later, Jonathan sat at the bottom of my bed, book in hand, head held high.

'What else have you read?'

It was a question I couldn't resist answering. 'Lots. Jules Verne, Jack London, Dostoyevsky...'

'Dostoyevsky? What did you read by him?'

'Dr. Zhivago, The Brothers Karamazov. Zhivago was a better book.'

'He's a great writer, I suppose, though we really wouldn't know unless we were fluent in Russian. It's the translator's prose we read. Have you read Milton or Keats?'

'No. I think we were supposed to read them next year.'

'Good grief! Where did you go to school?'

I told him.

'God! Jesuits. They're almost as bad as where I was going, ignorant religious fanatics.'

'Where did you go?'

'I'm sure you never heard of it. It's a Christian school with all the ignorance and religious tripe that goes along with it. My parents are teachers in the University that has the school. They teach theology, garbage. Anyhow, it's not really a university. They just call it that so it sounds important.'

'Your parents are college professors?' I couldn't imagine educated people sending one of their children to an awful place like this hospital. And he sure didn't speak like anyone I'd ever met, at least not a kid.

'Theology. Superstition. Ignorance. It's not like they taught history or physics. All they studied was the Bible and books about it. Tripe! And, it's only two years so it's not even a college, really.'

'You don't believe in the Bible?'

He stopped, took a breath then said, 'I didn't say that. What I mean is...'

I sat up and leaned toward him. 'I don't believe in any of that crap either,' I said in a near whisper.

He stared me in the eye for a moment then asked quietly and deliberately, 'Then why did you go to Mass?'

'Something to do.' I worried I'd said something that would come back on me but Jonathan wasn't sounding like a snitch, more like someone who was worried I might be one.

He smiled a half smile and shifted the topic back to books. He wanted to know what I thought of Dr. Zhivago and questioned me about a few of the characters in the book. I got the impression he was testing me to see if I really had read it.

He relaxed somewhat as our conversation went on. A bit of the snootiness melted into animated enthusiasm for his subject, books and reading. His eyes widened. They were a pretty grey-blue, less noticeable before due the way he had kept them half closed. His thin lips moved smartly with his precise words. His narrow nose flared when he became particularly excited. I'd hadn't seen him speak to anyone else at all much less converse with them. I wondered how long it had been since he'd spoken at such length with anyone else. Did he feel he'd met a kindred soul, a fellow lover of literature? I probably was the only other boy in the ward who'd read more than a few if any books. But could I really trust him?

When lunch arrived, we were still talking though we'd moved through several themes to Jonathan's theories on who Jules Verne was trying to portray with Captain Nemo of 'Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea'. He felt he was an anti-hero, whatever that meant, and that Verne was warning us about the existence of such powerful, advanced individuals and how they might take over the world. I hadn't gotten that impression at all though I did admit that Nemo was a somewhat scary character.

We ate on his bed. I asked him why he was in the hospital.

'Stupid stuff, sex, like you but not really queer stuff. Why are you here?'

I almost claimed not to be queer but figured I could do it later if the trust I was beginning to find in Jonathan didn't pan out. Still, I used the tired, 'I pissed off my father.'

'Good grief, Malcolm, that's what most of us are in here for. Our parents didn't know what to do with us for one reason or another. Mine, well, they just didn't understand. That religious tripe of theirs made it impossible for them to understand anything about me. Your parents are Catholic, right?'

I nodded agreement.

'Well, they think all sex is a sin too, right?'

I smiled. 'Well, not all sex. They made me.'

'And if you did any sex? Masturbated? Did something with someone else?'

'My father, well, they never really caught me doing anything. But, you're right, they didn't want me doing anything, I suppose. My father said things all the time but he didn't really know anything. He just thought he did.'

'But he was right, wasn't he?'

That caught me unprepared. 'About what?'

'That you were doing stuff, like with others.' He leaned toward me and said after a look off to the side. 'My parents caught me with my sister.'

There went the queer theory. 'You sister? What were you doing... How old was she?'

'Two years younger than me. I was fucking her.' He looked a bit proud.

I wanted to get details but wasn't sure how he'd react. I needn't have worried.

'We started when I was still nine. She was almost eight. It was her idea. She wanted to see my thing. She said a girl in her class said that boys put theirs in girls and wanted me to put mine in her. So I did. We both liked it so we did it a lot, whenever our parents went out and the baby sitter was downstairs. She was old and always fell asleep. Ruth, that's her name, my sister, always wanted to do it longer than me. It took her longer to have an orgasm, a lot longer sometimes. So I had to fuck her and fuck her for a long time, making sure that I rubbed her hard just at the top of her vagina. That's where she gets her feelings from, this little thing that sticks out just inside there at the top. Sometimes I could have two orgasms. It was really great. You ever fuck a girl?'

I had to double over a little as though resting on my arms. Jonathan's story had given me a hard on. 'A couple of times.'

'How old was she?'

'The first time, eleven, I think.

'So, what was it like?'

'Really good, like it was for you.'

'That all you did, just that girl?'

'We jerked off a lot, me and sometimes some friends of mine, from school.' I felt my words didn't come out as smoothly as they should have.

Jonathan looked at me, from one eye to the other. He was waiting for me to give him more, sure that there was. I wasn't about to. I suspected he had done more. They'd probably only caught him with his sister once and didn't know how long they'd been doing it, perhaps thought it was that one time.

'How'd your parents catch you?' I asked.

He rolled his eyes. 'We were really doing it one night. They came home really early. It was feeling so good I didn't hear them. They opened the door to Ruth's room and saw us naked, fucking like crazy. I don't know how long they were watching us. I heard my father walking toward us. He almost yanked my arm off. He beat me all over with his belt. I thought he was never going to stop. I began to think I was going to die. He kept shouting that he was going to beat the devil out of me.'

I knew what he went through. 'My father did that to me a bunch of times. Broke my ribs once when he threw me down the stairs.' And now, I thought, he's got this doctor to hit me with electricity. 'Son-of-a-bitch,' I muttered.

'Did he catch you having sex?'

`No. It was for other stuff.' I gave him a short survey of the battles I'd had with my father. He listened attentively.

'Well, at least mine only beat me with his belt, and not that many times, at least hard. The second time he caught me he didn't even hit me, just sent me to this prayer clinic where I was supposed to read the bible and pray all the time. Some nut preacher he knew was supposed to exorcise the devil out of me. My father thought I was possessed.'

'He caught you with your sister again?'

Jonathan sucked in his skinny lower lip for a moment then said, 'I was fucking this kid at school. We got caught in the boiler room.'

'A boy?'

He grimaced. 'Shh! Keep it down. I'm not queer like them.' He nodded toward the table where Marlon and his group were chatting away. 'He liked it, acted like them.' He glanced again toward the queer table. 'I never let him do anything to me, well, except put his mouth on mine, my penis. He liked to do that too.' He moved his head closer to mine. Our hair almost touched. 'It was actually better inside him than it was with my little sister. His hole was tighter and he wiggled it around sometimes. Felt incredible. His mouth was better too. And, as soon as I had my orgasm, I could stop. He usually masturbated then.'

I was sure then he'd done more. And, he'd said that the boy was the second time he'd been caught and that he was sent to some kind of religious clinic due to it. Why had he been sent to this hospital?

'So, how come you're here? You get caught again?'

Though he didn't look at me, he seemed about to answer. Then, he raised his eyes to mine. 'I told you a lot. You say first why you're here. The truth. I'm not going to say anything. The truth, not just some tripe about your father getting mad.'

He had told me a lot but I was very wary about telling him anything that might make my already bad situation there any worse. So I said something the doctor already knew. 'I was arrested for hustling.'

'What, drugs?' he asked, obviously puzzled. Hustling was a street term. Jonathan had had no exposure to the type of world I'd inhabited.

'Myself. I went out with men for money. It's called hustling.'

He tossed that about mentally for a few seconds. 'Good grief! You're one of the boys in Kinsey. So you are queer. What'd you let them do to you? Fuck you?'

I shrugged my shoulders. His reaction embarrassed me. I was a freak to him, something he read about.

'Didn't it hurt?'

'Some. I did it for the money.' My defenses were in high gear.

'How much did they pay you, to fuck you?' He was enthusiastically nailing me.

'Five, sometimes more.'

'How many times did you do it, a week.'

'I didn't do it that much,' I lied.

He stared at me again. 'So you did get caught. Was a man fucking you when they caught you?'

'No. I was on the street, you know, waiting.'

'That's right! You were a prostitute, a boy prostitute. Wow. I never thought I'd meet anybody like you. The truth. How many men fucked you? Fifty? A hundred?'

'Shit. Nothing like that.'

'Then how many? I would have liked to watch that. What did it feel like?'

His question regurgitated the possibility he was like me, or maybe Philip. He'd admitted fucking a boy and right there admitted an interest in watching a homosexual act. It was my turn to stare at him. His eyes told me he knew he'd been caught.

'Depended on how big they were.' The answer provided both of us openings. I felt clever giving it.

'So,' he paused, 'some of them felt good?'

I raised my eyebrows briefly.

'I got caught fucking another boy,' he stated with a slight smile, 'well, him and his little brother. They were really cute. But I could never let a man fuck me. All that hair!'

It was my turn to smile. I lay back on his bed and rolled toward him. He leaned back on his elbow. 'I know some other kids like you. You like little boys. Don't worry. I'll never tell anybody.'

'Okay, how many men fucked you?'

I wasn't sure. 'Maybe twenty.'

'And other boys?'

We smiled at each other.

'More, maybe thirty, forty.'

'You do anything else? I put my mouth on Timmy's and Michael's.'

'Mmh hmmh.'

'What else?' He was very enthused. I wondered what any others observing us thought we were talking about.

'Like what?' I asked.

'In back.'

He paused then said softly, 'Some.'

Jonathan laid back and chewed gently on his lower lip. My thoughts went to Martin. He was probably with Steven. Had they slept together Saturday night? Had they allowed Dickie into their intimacies? Loneliness overcame me for a few moments. Martin loved me too, probably not as much as he did Steven who was more the age he liked, but he did. Bobby had seen it right from the start. I'd have given a lot at that moment to have had Martin lying there instead of Jonathan, to have been able to hold him, have him hold me, kiss me.

'I miss Timmy and Michael too,' said Jonathan from beyond the mist that had formed over my eyes.

I blinked the tears away. He was observing me more than staring, his look curious more than sympathetic. Did he miss more the two boys' companionship or their bodies? I suspected the latter.

Then, out of nowhere, 'You want me to fuck you? We could do it at night. Most nights when Mr. Coulter is on, about an hour after lights out, Klaus goes into the shower room with him and sucks him off. You didn't know that, did you? Then Mr. Coulter goes to sleep at his desk and Klaus goes to, well, I tell you that in a minute.' He smiled proudly at his knowledge.

'I'm pretty good at reading lips. I saw Klaus talking to him a couple times. Each time, Mr. Coulter told him he'd come wake him up at ten or eleven. The first night I fell asleep but the second time I stayed awake. So, Mr. Coulter came in real quiet and woke up Klaus. Then they went into the shower room. I went into the bathroom and looked through the screen but they were against the wall inside. But I could hear the sounds. After a while, I heard Mr. Coulter make sounds like "Unnh Unnh" and then whispered something I couldn't understand, might have been in German. Maybe it wasn't because I didn't hear it real well but strange, huh? Mr. Coulter's supposed to be American but maybe he isn't. Maybe he's another Nazi like Dr. Hein.

'Well, then I saw Mr. Coulter's arm like he was fixing his pants. So I got back, to the door. Klaus came out first wiping his mouth. I quick went to my bed. Mr. Coulter and Klaus were talking for a couple of minutes and Mr. Coulter gave something to Klaus. Then, he let Klaus back into the ward and Klaus went to the bathroom and washed his mouth out at the sink. Oh, and my penis was hard the whole time, really hard.

'Well, then Klaus didn't go to his bed but went over to this kid Sonny, in twenty-seven, and woke him up. They went into the bathroom like Sonny knew he was supposed to or something but he didn't act like he didn't want to.'

Sonny was a thirteen year old who kept to himself as did about a quarter of the kids in the ward. He was pleasant looking, a little thick in the body though not really fat, sort of softly muscular. He had a plump backside and a growing cock with a whisp of pubic hair over the top. I couldn't recall hearing his voice.

Jonathan continued his tale. 'I had to see what they were going to do. I figured Klaus was going to make him suck him but when I got to where I could see, over there on the floor in front of two, they both had their pajama bottoms off and Klaus had some little tin thing about this much around.' He indicated an inch and a half with his thumb and forefinger. 'Sonny got on the floor and lay flat with his legs spread open. Hans penis was really hard, just like mine was again. He put this stuff from the tin on his penis and got down between Sonny's legs. Then, he pulled Sonny's rear end up until he was kneeling on his hands and knees. He put more of the stuff on Sonny's rear end, up inside. Sonny's got a really big rear end. Then Klaus got in close and stuck his big penis up into Sonny's rear end, not really inside yet but up between his, you know, buttocks.'

I rubbed myself over the eye to hide a look at Jonathan's crotch. Sure enough he was pushing out his pajamas, farther than I'd expected he could. Mine was visible too so I rolled over a bit to hide it.

Jonathan said, 'Then, he pushed at Sonny, hard, a couple of times. Sonny kind of jumped and held his head tight but that was all. Then Klaus pushed all the way inside him, I mean, all the way until he was really tight as he could be against Sonny's rear end. The head of his penis must have been halfway to Sonny's stomach, at least to his bladder.'

Jonathan paused, possibly for effect, and looked very serious. 'At first, he just stayed like that. It must have felt really good because he had his eyes closed, probably thinking about how far inside Sonny his big thing was. Then, he started to fuck him really slowly, in and out about like this.' He rocked back and forth taking about two seconds to go each way.

'Sonny didn't move or make any noise. I think he liked it because it looked like he pushed his rear end up a little, like he wanted more. He must have a stretched colon, huh? Michael, the little brother of my friend, he used to do that with me. God, he liked it.

'Well, Klaus started going a little bit faster and faster, really banging into Sonny so hard he was pushing him across the floor. Klaus had to keep going forward on his knees to keep up.

Then, all the sudden, Klaus just stopped. His face looked like you do when you're falling asleep. It must have felt really, really incredible. Then, after maybe a minute or two, he takes it our slowly. God, it seemed like it was going to be coming out forever it was so long, well, not really that long but you know what I mean. But then, Sonny laid down and rolled over. His thing was hard as a rock. Then, Klaus did to him the same thing he did to Mr. Coulter. And it was really fast. I'm sure he didn't do up and down more than four or five times before Sonny sits up and grabs Klaus' head so he can't move any more.

'I couldn't watch any more. I crawled back to my bed and lay on the floor so I could masturbate. I was almost as fast as Sonny.'

His eyes stared wide into mine as though he wanted a very strong response.

'When did all this happen?'

'Only a few weeks ago, three, on a Tuesday night, when Mr. Coulter was on night duty. And he's on this week. Wanna stay up and see if they do it again?'

That was tempting. 'I'll try but I fall asleep real easy.' That was a partial lie or truth depending on one's point of view. When I could get my mind off where I was, sleep came easily. On the contrary, I was awake for hours.

Jonathan asked, 'When Klaus did exercises with you, did he ask if he could fuck you? I think he's asked everybody else, well, the ones who act queer, except, I suppose, Sonny. I don't know how he acts. I think Klaus is the only one he ever talks to, except for the doctors, of course. Did he ask to fuck you? You've gotta be careful with him. He's buddy buddy with Dr. Hein. He might tell him. Of course, he must not have told on Sonny because I don't think they zap him, at least not while I've been here. So, did he ask you?'

'No, he just wanted to do exercises like I've gotta do right now. As I started to get up, I realized I still had a boner. I thought fast and came up with a question to ask.

'You said you can read lips. You mean like a deaf person?'

'Exactly. I studied it with my sister in her deaf school. Ruth's deaf since she was two. She sat inside the organ at this church, where the pipes are, and couldn't get out for a couple of hours when my uncle found her. Ruined both her ear drums. I went with her to learn to read sign and learned lip reading too. I'm better than her at that. It's easy. I can teach you if you want.'

He went on, 'I could see Marlon talking about me. He said I was nasty, right?'

'Are you?'

He lay back and closed his eyes. 'Sometimes.' Then, softly, 'So, you want me to fuck you?'

I laughed to myself. He might enjoy that but I wouldn't feel much.

He went on. 'Mine's started to grow. It'll feel good to you too.'

Could he read my mind? 'Unh uh. Like I said, it's too risky.'

'Maybe if you do something to Mr. Coulter, he'll let us do it in the bathroom like Klaus and Sonny and not say anything.'

I shook my head and got up. I'd let my exercises slip. If I was going to escape, I needed to be in tip top shape. And, I felt a bit overwhelmed by all we'd discussed and discovered about each other. I begged off to go work out but also, as Jonathan probably surmised, to think over all that had been said between us. I'd lost my concern he might be a snitch. There was some doubt that all he'd told me was true. For a boy with a reputation of not talking to 'peons' as Marlon had said, he'd sure opened up to me. I was likely the first person he'd felt comfortable talking to and had probably said more than he'd intended. Still, he'd enjoyed himself, possibly more than he had since coming to this terrible place.

After stretching, I started on jumping jacks and stayed with them for almost half an hour before moving on to strength building. Stamina would be very important if I had to run for a long time.

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