The sound of music, from somewhere in the distance, roused him. He was cold. His sleeping bag provided little protection from the unforgiving hard damp floor, his hip was sore from the pressure and as he became more alert and aware of his surroundings, he realised that he had shit himself again.
The voices of the singers accompanying the band filtered through the noise of the passing traffic. Angels! What a load of crap. Sweet little cherubs depicted so often by artists in their mythological pictures, aiming their arrows at lovers or blowing the wind to save the sailors from shipwreck.
So where the fuck were they now?
"Peace on earth and mercy mild...."
Paul had thought Benny was his Angel of mercy, when he offered him his gift of brown powder.
Some bloody Angel!
But he needed him now, Christ how he needed him. Soon the shakes and the shivering would start, the snake, which seemed to be in his stomach, would writhe, and the bile would burn at his throat as he retched. He would paradoxically sweat at the same time as he shivered, he would draw up his knees and scream FUCK YOU BENNY. Mothers would hurry past staring with disgust, clutching their children closer to their sides.
He knew Benny would be in the Café at dinnertime, and that he must make the effort to move.
If he lay still for a while he knew the spasm would pass. The sleeping bag gripped at his legs and shoulders as he wriggled onto his back to ease the pain in his hip. He straightened his stiff legs and flexed his toes upward to tension and relieve his aching calf muscles. He tried to breathe deeply. The effort produced a sharp stabbing pain in his back, he coughed for some time, each one thrusting the dagger deeper. The exertion exhausted him, the pain made him feel sick again and the acid burning taste of bile was still in his throat. He placed his hands at his sides, tried to relax every muscle in his body starting with his toes and working upwards, but the tension in his abdomen defeated his efforts. He lay still and exhausted for a while until his breathing became easier, then, very slowly, sat up and waited for his body to adjust to the new position. The effort rekindled the painful coughing, which mercifully subsided as he rested, and he tried to relax again. In this sitting position his breathing became easier, he was able to take deeper breaths and the oxygen began to restore some sort of life. He realised that the shit, that was once warm and comforting, was now dry and crusty and was stuck to his body and underpants, his skin was roughened and sore.
"Glory to the new born child''
When his vision cleared a little he could see that the music emanated from a Salvation Army Band. From his position in the covered alley he could see the brightly lit shops with their Xmas decorations and the shoppers carrying their bags, presumably loaded with gifts. Noticing their bags alarmed him and he reached down to the bottom of his sleeping bag relieved to find that his bag, containing his few essentials of underwear, sweatshirt, socks and razor, was still there.
His thoughts turned to last Xmas. The memories of happier family times, with his mother and sister, added to his depression. He felt tears burn his eyes as his thoughts turned to those last years at school. James knew. James had gently laid his hand on his knee. James had been sad. Why didn't he condemn me? Why didn't he call me all the filthy names he was capable of? Why did he continue to go around with me pretending that things were just the same between us? Why didn't he stop me from associating with Walker and his dodgy dirty friends?
I must have hurt you so much James.
I wish you were here to help me now.
I wish that you could have been my lover.
He guessed that it must be mid morning, he knew that he had to summon up the effort to stand up. He had to get cleaned up, get some money, and most of all he had to get to Benny.
He unzipped his sleeping bag and with his back to the wall, eased himself into a standing position. He felt dizzy, the world around him seemed to be spinning, which made him feel sick again, but he forced himself to press hard against the wall for support until his disorientation passed. He took out his holdall, and then rolled up his sleeping bag, tying it with a length of rope. He pushed back the hood of his anorak, ran his fingers through his short fair hair, laced up his trainers and headed slowly and unsteadily to the main road underpass.
All the cubicles in the toilets were vacant. He pushed open the doors until he found one that had some paper, it had a broken lock and the usual graffiti but at least it had paper. He placed his sleeping bag and holdall next to the toilet pan and removed his jeans and soiled underpants. He replaced his jeans, peeled off a considerable length of paper and went out to the washbasins where he wetted it. When he returned to the cubicle he picked off most of the hardened shit, wincing as it pulled at his hairs, and wiped himself with the warm sodden paper. He dried himself with another length of paper after which he dressed, putting on a relatively clean pair of pants and socks, and took the soiled garments to the washbasin where he rinsed them. After shaving, without the benefit of soap, not too much of a problem for him since being fair and young his beard was not tough, he left the toilets, leaving a legacy of one blocked toilet pan, to get some money and find Benny.
He felt weak and hungry but fresher and considerably better than he had an hour earlier. He would take his soiled clothes to the laundrette where his pale complexion, fair hair and forlorn look would always win him the sympathy of one of the ladies.
"Course you can love, hardly worth spending money on those few things, put them in with mine".
When he left it was nearly midday. The café was not far away, only the other side of the park and he figured he could get there in time if he got lucky.
There were usually punters at lunchtime.
Paul went to the park toilets, entered the only cubicle, sat on the seat and pushed the door nearly closed, leaving a crack so that he could observe anyone who entered. The drawings and scribble were familiar to him but as he waited he searched for any new additions. '' OK Tuesday 1.30 pm'' someone had written. Poor sad old git he thought, which Tuesday? Would he stand there in hope every Tuesday? How would he know who had made the invitation? He conjured up a scenario. Middle aged balding man, working in large open-plan office, with predominately female staff. ''No I'm not going to canteen today I need some fresh air, I've brought sandwiches''. Hurries to park, enters toilet at 1.25pm and checks that cubicle is unoccupied. Stands and waits. Young man enters, stands a few stalls away. Middle aged man waits. Looks towards young man. Looks at watch. Withdraws back from urinalto show his prick. Young man says piss off and walks out. Sad, he reflected, but who was the more pathetic, how did he get into this?
He knew only too well.
He met Benny a week after he had arrived in the city. He had been lucky in that the first night he slept rough, a charity worker had approached him and found him a bed and temporary refuge. He had a small amount of money but a large amount of spare time. He spent much of his time in the Café.
"Hi" Benny had said when he came and sat down at his table ''I've seen you in here quite a lot do you live round here''?
He was in his early twenties with short black hair. He wore a quality ski-jacket, tan coloured jeans, Nike trainers and a gold wristwatch. When he smiled he displayed a row of even white teeth. He sniffed frequently and wiped the back of his hand across his nose. It reminded him of the mannerisms that he had noticed boxers' display when they made their quick jab into the air simulating an assault on an imaginary opponent.
"No I don't come from these parts I've left home and looking for work" He had cautiously replied.
"It aint very easy round here, I should know. My name's Benny by the way, what's yours"?
"David" he had replied, which was the first name that came into his head.
"Have you got a job then?".
"Nah, had one or two jobs on building sites but the bastards work your bollocks off and then offer you half what they promised, knowing that you can't report them or complain. Got really pissed off when the last lot refused to pay at all, after I'd done a weeks hard graft, said I was useless, so I said fuck you too and decided work weren't for me".
"You look prosperous enough, I like the gear. What do you do then?"
Benny then told him how he too had left home two years ago, slept rough, begged, scrounged, did a bit of shoplifting until he found work on the building sites. Deciding that he wasn't going to be pissed about like that again concluded that there were easier ways of making money.
He then told him what he did.
"No way, I'm not into that".
"Well I thought so at first but it's easy money. If you catch some of the sad old farts going home from work, to their respectable families, you sometimes don't have to do hardly anything. They're so nervous and excited by the company of a young bloke, and then smiled when he said, "it's all over in a flash so to speak. Two minutes for a tenner is better pay than the Prime Minister. Yes, it can be risky but you soon get pretty cute at recognising, the easy touch".
He laughed at his second witticism, sniffed, and wiped the back of his hand across his nose again.
Pauls' reminiscences were interrupted by the sound of footsteps. He peered through the crack but couldn't see the person who had entered. He waited and the man left. Shit!
He felt as though he had been there for hours although it was probably only ten minutes or so. He still felt unwell, tired, cold and desperate to get to the café. He sat on the toilet with his trousers and underpants lowered to his ankles, this way anyone who he was able to invite to look would see what was on offer. He had only got his youth to offer. His prick had not been really stiff for ages. Sex wasn't like it was when with Chris or when he was thinking about James whilst at school. He couldn't remember the last time he wanked. He took his flaccid cock in his hand pulled back the foreskin and stroked it. There was no response or feeling. He thought back to those times when it was always rock hard, when he wanked twice, three times and sometimes four times a day. When he would go to the station toilets and let it be sucked by anyone who cared to do so. He remembered how he was tossed off in the cinema. He remembered how he and Walker had tossed off in front of slut Althea and how he had watched both Walker and his friend fuck her. He felt dirty then. He felt disgusted now and it wasn't only the effect of the drugs that precluded any response from his prick. He hadn't been able to look James in the eye, although unless Walker had said anything he didn't think that he really knew the extent of his debasement.
Forgive me James. I don't want to be like this.
Only Benny could satisfy his desires now and his thoughts returned to his life with Benny.
Benny had been kind to him, yes it was he who took him to the meat rack, where the boys would hustle for trade, but he had looked after him.
"Don't get into a car if there is more than one person.
Tell him what you are prepared to do and don't do anything you don't want.
Make sure the doors aren't locked. Get your money up front.
Don't let him take you to his house or anything, never know who's going to be there. Yes you can make a week's wages in one night at a party but it could get nasty, not worth it, stick to the easy quick ones.
Get him to take you somewhere you choose that's safe.
If you are caught don't admit to receiving money.
Play the role of the innocent young boy just looking for kindness routine"
Yes; Benny had been good to him. He selected and shared his punters, it was as easy as he had predicted, and he followed his advice.
Life had been better with money to spend and there was no need to look for legitimate work. He found that he was getting regular customers.
One punter had his prick out as soon as he opened the car door, all Paul had to do was to get his own cock out and show it to him and the punter would cum immediately. Another only wanted to suck his cock but he wanted it to be soft so that he could take both it and his balls into his mouth. He figured that this one wore a condom because he never got his prick out but rubbed away at his crotch until he had come. Quite often he was asked to wank them, which was the minimum charge but rarely agreed to suck them off, even though the rate was higher, and never allowed them to take him anywhere outside the car. He had enough easy regulars so that he never had to agree to being fucked.
He shared a flat with Benny.
He just wished, oh how he wished, he had not tried the Angel Dust. Life went downhill quickly. He didn't bother to get out of bed during the day and only went hustling at night, although he wished that he didn't have to, he would have rather stayed shut up and cocooned in his euphoria.
He carefully unfolded the paper and tipped the powder onto the glass-topped coffee table, then, with a razor blade pushed the pile into a line. He reformed the paper into a tube, put it into his nostril and knelt down beside the table, exhaled, until his lungs were completely exhausted, and with one finger blocking his other nostril, breathed in the line of powder.
He stood up, walked to the bed and flopped onto it.
He lay still for a while. Nothing was in focus. He reached out towards the bedside lamp but had no sensation of touch as he fumbled for the switch. The lamp fell to the floor. His mouth was very dry and he closed his eyes, soon nothing mattered anymore, no pain hunger or regrets. Just floating peace and calm. and he couldn't recall to his memory a picture of Chris the deceiver. He had no memory of getting off the bed to go the bathroom, his limbs seemed detached from his body. He had no sensation of his feet touching the floor; it was as though he were on a cloud. He moved as if in a dream in a state of spatial disorientation.
In the beginning Benny had given Paul the stuff for free but was now demanded the going street rate since Paul was earning but his requirements were increasing. The other boys wouldn't tolerate his habit, if he approached a punter they would push him aside and only a few weirdoes picked him up, most of whom wanted to fuck him or be fucked. Benny wasn't there to protect him, having abandoned his life on the meat rack for more lucrative earnings from his drug dealing. Paul couldn't earn enough to contribute his share of the expenses of the flat and left................ to survive on the streets again.
He heard footsteps and looking through the crack saw a man wearing a pinstripe suit enter but he went to a urinal out of his range of vision.
He moved his foot to open the door a little to let him know he was there.
Pinstripe moved into view and looked towards the cubicle.
He invitingly opened the door a little further. Pinstripe turned away, zipped up his trousers, went to the entrance of the toilets and looked around the park. When he returned he pushed open the door.
"Like to suck this for me kid?" he said nervously.
"It'll cost you"
"Like how much?"
"No way" pinstripe replied and returned to the urinal.
"Ten then" Paul replied fully opening the door inviting him in.
He had to get to the café now that he had enough for the fix. As he walked towards the exit he saw the Park Keeper approaching the gate. He'd seen him many times before but had always been able to avoid him.
He looked big and threatening.
Life on the street had taught him that, although you may not have done anything wrong, your appearance was enough to incite suspicion, abuse, or confrontation. His first thought was to turn around and leave by the gate that he had entered, but this would mean a hell of a long walk around the outside of the park to the Café, he was weak and tired and couldn't face it. He carried on walking and as he approached the gate he could see that the Keeper was waiting.
The Keeper was black and big. He wore blue overalls and a yellow oilskin jacket, of the type issued to council workers, the wheelbarrow he was pushing was filled with leaves and rubbish. On his head he wore a blue woolly hat pulled down quite low so that his eyes were nearly covered.
"I want a word with you son"
"Why? I ain't done nothing."
"Don't give me no lip I know 'xactly what you doin', you think I'm stupid or something? I see everything what goes on in this park. Now I don't care 'cos I don't want no more hassle than this stinking job gives me already. Unless I was to see children involved I figure I don't want no trouble, I just want to go home at 5 o'clock and mind my own business."
"So. You look like a nice kid, I don't wanna know why you got yourself like you are but I only wanna warn you that the law is keeping watch on the toilets. It's all part of a big clean up or something, so just watch it and don't give yourself any more trouble than you already got."
With a huge gnarled hand he pushed his hat back a little, exposing more of his face and his widely spaced brown eyes the colour of a Coke bottle. He unzipped his coat, put his hand through the opening in his overalls and fumbled into the pocket of his trousers beneath. When he pulled it out it held a £5 note.
"Here take this, and spend it on something to eat instead of that shit you're on. Now get out of here; and watch it."
Paul took the note and looked into the large open eyes of his benefactor.
"Thanks mister I'll stay away."
"That would be a good idea son" and then, as he picked up his barrow to walk off he paused and asked,
"What's your name, and how old are you anyway?"
"Paul" he replied, surprised that he had given him his real name. He never did that. "I'm eighteen. You been nice to me mister, what's your name?"
"Angelo, would you believe." He smiled, showing a row of brilliant white teeth, one of which was capped with gold, and laughed. "My mother said she thought that when I was a baby that I looked like a angel. Fancy !....... Me!........ A fucking angel !"
Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]
* Some browsers may require a right click instead