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The Houses in Rossford part one of the twelfth and final chapter

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Old 12-12-2016, 11:16 PM
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Default The Houses in Rossford part one of the twelfth and final chapter


TWELVE

LEMONADE/STAND


“Kenny, get over here!” Layla shouted.
Layla had summoned them all to the Hot Pocket on Demming Road. Brendan Miller sat awkwardly across from her, and Milo sat between him and Dena, who was looking away, out the window, trying to be as far from Brendan as possible. Will sat beside Layla and she swung out and said, “Sit by me, Kenny.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Kenny said. “I gotta go.”
“I don’t think it’s a good idea either,” Dena agreed.
“You know what I think?” Layla said. “I think you should both shut the fuck up.
“Now listen, we can’t go on like this. A few months ago at Dena’s party we were all together, all united. We were all there for her. And I assume for each other.”
“As I recall,” Kenny said, “that party didn’t turn out so well.”
“No,” Layla said. “But that was how we knew we were there for each other, and what happened didn’t have anything to do with us.
“Now look, I’ve been so angry, and so hurt and just plain seeing red. And pretty soon a new school year starts up, and we’re going to need each other again. I don’t want us all hating each other anymore. Or ever again.”
“So you want us to call a truce?” Dena said.
“Dena, I want us to all be friends.”
“He—” Dena said, pointing at Kenny, “started up something with Brendan while we were together. He and Brendan had been with each other long before this son of a bitch ever touched me.”
Brendan didn’t say anything. He had been looking small and ashamed, and he looked more so now.
“That’s not right, Dena,” Layla told her.
“How isn’t it?”
“You hurt me. You lied to me, and you know it.”
“I know that.”
“And Brendan… is our friend.” Layla shook her head. “He’s already torn himself down. You’ve already kicked him. You can’t keep on kicking him. I’m sorry, you can’t.”
“Layla’s right,” Milo said in a small voice.
“Is anybody on my side?” Dena said. “Does anybody think I have a right to… hate the both of them. Why am I even here?”
Dena stood up.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “Milo, could you please move. I need to leave.”
“I’m on your side,” Brendan said, lifting his head and turning to her.
“I understand, Deenie.”
“Don’t ever call me that.”
“Dena,” Brendan modified.
“But I was wrong all the way around. I… did Kenny wrong. Real wrong. And, because I couldn’t accept what I was, or… how I felt, I did you wrong. I used you to turn me into something you couldn’t. I… How do you say sorry for that?”
“You don’t Brendan. You can’t.”
“No,” Brendan said. “You can’t. But… I only know how I’ve felt for the last few months. For… my whole life. Scared. Small. I don’t… hate anyone. I’ve never had to, or had to forgive anyone. But I think it has to feel awful. It must feel like shit. And, if I’m doing that to you, I want to… I want us to get past that Dena. And… if you’re doing it to yourself, if your holding onto all that bitterness cause you think I won’t hate myself unless you hate me too, then you don’t have to. “
He turned to Kenny.
“Either of you.
“I don’t expect the both of you to get this. I am what I am. But you both mean… so much to me. I love you both, and I hate that you hate me. I… That’s the worst. You don’t know how sorry I—”
Brendan stopped, and he swallowed. He didn’t talk for a long time. His head was down, and he blinked. Then he murmured, “I am so sorry.”


Brian was coming out of his office when he saw Todd Meradan walking toward him.
“Hi, Todd, what’s up?”
“Can I talk to you?” Todd said in a voice that meant Brian had to say yes, and he walked into Brian’s office, shutting the door behind them.
“I don’t know what you’re up to this time,” Todd said. But I wish you would stop trying to break up peoples’ relationships.”
A light went out in Brian’s eyes and his voice changed.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I’m talking about Paul. I’m talking about Kirk. He’s a really nice guy. He’s a great guy for Paul—who you’re running around banging.”
“Okay, wait,” Brian said, caught off guard.
“I don’t know how you know that. But I don’t know this Kirk.”
“You didn’t know he existed?”
“I knew Paul was seeing someone, not that this is any of your business, but I don’t know the guy.”
“So it’s all right? Like… you didn’t know Fenn when you decided to fuck Tom?”
“I am tired,” Brian said, his voice hardening, “of that being thrown in my face, constantly.”
“Well you shouldn’t have done it.”
“It is in the past. I have repented.”
“You repented?” Todd said, smiling. “You, repented? Whaddid you do? Get baptized in the Jordan? You confessed so now you can get up and steal someone else’s man.”
“He’s not anyone’s man!” Brian shouted looking, for once, dangerous, angry and pushed to the limit.
“Don’t blame me for everything. Tom could have said no. He could have said screw you and moved on. What happened happened because we both wanted it to. And I wanted Tom. I was in love with him. Since butter doesn’t melt in your mouth and the sun shine’s out of your ‘I’m a war vet’s’ ass, I wouldn’t expect you to know what it feels like to love someone you shouldn’t, to do something you know is wrong.
“But Paul? We were having… whatever we’re having before this Kirk came along.”
Todd blinked.
“You wanna know when I found about this… Kirk, Todd?”
Todd didn’t say anything.
“Right after I’d finished fucking Paul.
“We had just fucked. Hard. And I thought that maybe, just maybe, I was in something like a new relationship when he told me, the next day, when I thought we would go out to lunch, oh by the way it was just a fuck, I’m actually dating someone else. You know what he said? “It is what it is, so if you don’t have a problem with it let’s just keep it to sex.’ And me? I said yes.”
After awhile Todd said, “But why?”
“Get the fuck out,” Brian said.
Todd stood there a moment, and then he shrugged and turned to leave.
“Because,” Brian said, as Todd opened the door to go:
“Paul’s all I have.”


Tom Mesda walked into his apartment and screamed in horror.
“You ain’t Lee,” said a long, tall yellow man in shades with rust colored curls and long crossed thighs.
Tom put the grocery bag down and pointed at him.
“Lee isn’t here. I don’t know you.”
“You scared a’black folks?”
The man sat up and took off his shades. He had green cat eyes, and he busted out laughing. “I won’t hurt you, I’m one of them tame niggahs.
“Now Lee, he ain’t no tame niggah. He might make you think he is, but he ain’t. Where he at?”
“He’s with Fenn. He’s with his cousin.” Tom’s voice sounded leaden in his ears, extremely white.
“Awww Fenn! Well, he definitely ain’t no tame niggah. Naw, indeeeed. He still with Todd?”
“Yes.”
“That’s one hell of a motherfucker too,” the man chuckled. “Can you call them for me.”
“Uh…”
“Like before Jesus comes back.”
“Uh,” Tom said again. “Yeah.”
“You know,” the man continued while Tom, abandoning the grocery bag, took out his cell phone and punched Fenn’s number, “I never knew what the two of them saw in white dudes. Two wild niggahs like that! I can’t imagine you with Lee.”
“Hello,” Tom said, ignoring the man. “Fenn, could you put Lee on the phone. Awright… Thanks.”
“Oh, I know youuu!” The man on the couch continued, clapping his hands together. “You were the one that fooled around behind Fenn’s back. Aw, but he cut you off and took the house. I remember that shit now. What, they just pass your little ass around? It’s a cute little ass too!”
“Uh, Lee… There’s someone in the house asking for you.”
“Bring me the phone, Tommy!” the man on the couch shouted.
“Who?” said Lee.
“Really tall. Light skinned.”
“Is he a redheaded motherfucker?”
“Uh… Yes.”
“Goddamn. Bring him here. It’s Lemonade.”
“Lemon…”
Lemonade was standing behind Tom saying into his ear, ‘Lemme talk to him. Bring me the phone, little man.”
“Uh… okay…”
As Tom released the phone he said, “But who’s Lemonade?”
He barely heard Lee’s voice as Lemonade took the phone.
“He’s my ex!”


When Noah Riley put the camera down, the two boys on either side of Burt laughed, while Burt Buckstar absently stroked his cock.
“Well, how’s it feel to be the director and not the directed?” Burt asked him.
Noah shrugged.
“Like I just graduated.”
“You really fucked the shit out of me,” the one blond boy told Burt, stroking his nipple.
“Anything for you, baby,” Burt kissed him, and then kissed the other one.
“I’m gonna go talk to Noah.”
“Maybe,” the dark haired boy began, slapping the blond on the ass, “we’ll shoot you and Noah?”
“Maybe,” Noah said, forcing a laugh. He stood up and Burt, naked, followed him into the next room.
“This is some setup you got,” Noah looked around, appreciatively.
Burt was as used to nakedness as Noah, and so they stood there, Noah in a snug white tee shirt and back turned ball cap, Burt, penis hanging out, smelling slightly of the funk from the threeway they’d just filmed.
“It’s not permanent,” Burt said. “I was shocked as hell to hear you were here.”
“Yeah, well, there’s this hookup site on line and they’re new thing is shooting videos of real hookups of real members. I guess to prove that it really works.”
“And to make money.”
“Well, it’s always to make money,” Noah shrugged. “So we come to big cities where it’s enough good looking people who belong to the site. Or we make em join the site to say they’re on it. Half of them are poor wanna be pornstars.”
“Like us?”
Noah shrugged.
“And we shoot them fucking. And the big inducement is a pornstar like Noah Riley gets to film you, or one like Burt Buckstar gets to fuck you.”
Burt chuckled and went into the shower, followed by Noah.
“I got a proposition for you,” he said, stepping in and hitting the water.
“How’d you like to work for Eagle again?”
“What?”
“Guy’s back. Getting everything together,” Burt shouted over the water.
Noah shouted back: “You talked to him?”
“Yeah. He was going on about that hot little three way. The one we did right before he got shut down. Were you there, at the party that night?’
“Uh… yeah.”
“That’s what I—hey!”
The water shut off. Burt came out dripping, and pushed his face in a towel.
“Joe Callan told me you got fucked up on some blow at that party. You passed out while he was getting ready to do some… business.”
Noah stared blankly at Burt.
“Anyway,” Burt continued coming out of the room and going into a large master bedroom where he began rummaging through a dresser, “The police raided the place, as you know.”
“Well, actually I didn’t know,” Noah said.
“I woke up in the hospital. Pau—Johnny brought me there.”
“Oh,” Burt’s expression changed.
“Why?”
“Cause Callan was obsessing about what happened to his money, and I thought you might know?”
“Why would I know?”
“Chill,” Burt said. “Maybe you saw the police take it.”
“I was passed out.”
“Well, yes,” Burt said. “Oh, well. Callan asked Guy, Guy asked me. It’s Callan’s fault for running out and leaving you in that room anyway. All fucked up.”
“Yeah, that was pretty fucked up. You know, I don’t know what I’ll do next. But I don’t know if I want to go back to Guy or…”
“You going back to that Brazilian porn thing?”
“Uh… I don’t know.
“The only thing I know how to do is fuck people. Or be fucked. And… those kids in that room that we just shot… How did they seem to you?”
“All right, I guess,” Burt pulled cargo shorts on over his briefs, and then a tee shirt and now a blue polo. “Just kids.”
“They seemed dumb,” said Noah. “All… giggly. Like they were doing something really glamorous. I don’t know. Maybe a long time ago people really were glamorous and really were stars. But we’re not stars, Burt. I mean… Marlon Brando was a star.”
“He was fat too.”
“That’s not my point.”
“Noah, you’re not supposed to have points.”
“No one is,” Noah said. “Everyone’s so… dull. That’s the opposite of point.”
Burt looked at him and frowned.
“Who the fuck are you?”
“I don’t know,” Noah said. “A year ago… No, a month ago, I was those dumbass kids, and now I’m who I am right now. I don’t think I can go back to Guy.”
“So where?”
Noah looked at Burt, cross.
“I already told you I don’t know.”

“Can I help you sir?”
“No,” Brian turned to the little eighteen year old in the Video Watch. “I know what I’m here for.”
Even in shorts and a hoodie, Brian Babcock looked too distinguished for the Video Watch and too upright to walk into the porn section. No one just marched casually behind that curtain. A few minutes later, Brian came out with three movies.
“I’ll be buying these,” he told the boy.
“Oh…” The boy’s face went red. “He lives here, you know?”
“I do,” said Brian.
“You’ve met him?”
“I’ve fucked him.”
The boy looked at Brian of the dark eyes, curly hair and high cheekbones, who had stated that so casually.
“Me too!” the boy said. “Right back there behind the curtain.”
“Of course you did,” Brian told him, handing him his credit card.
“It was fucking awesome. He rode me hard!”
“Boy?” Brian said.
“Nathan.”
“Nathan?” Brian said as the boy rang him up.
“Yeah?”
Brian told him, “You can be quiet. We don’t need to converse. We’re not friends.”
The boy instantly shut up and shut down, and a moment later he handed Brian the receipt copy and his card. Brian pocketed his Visa, signed the receipt airily, and took the three copies of Pizza Slut saying, “Have a good night, Nathan.”
“Come back soon,” said Nathan.
Brian Babcock turned around, smiled, and told him, “Never.”


“Do you know a Joe Callan?”
“No,” Lee said.
They were sitting in Fenn’s kitchen, around the old table.
“Well, he’s a friend of a friend,” Lemonade said that night in the apartment. “Or maybe it’s better to say an associate of an associate.”
“Is he a criminal?” Lee said flatly.
Tom looked at Lee.
Lee explained: “Lemonade is a goddamn criminal.”
“I have biz’ness,” Lemonade said. “Jus like everyone else. No need to demonize.”
Lee rolled his eyes at Fenn and Fenn shrugged.
“You know what I think about when I see you two wild ass niggahs and this little Tom you both had?” Lemonade said. “I think about what it would be like to have a white dude.”
He turned to Lee. “Is he good?” he gestured at Tom.
“Good enough,” Lee said, deadpan.
“Well, see, that’s what I figured. You know every time folks start to talk about white folks: white folks do this, white folks do that, I think to myself, well now wait a minute… To hear yawl tell it, butter don’t melt in a niggah’s mouth. But we know it do. I mean, anything you say about white folks, you got to admit a niggah’ll cut you for a ham sandwich, and goddamnit I’m tired of being cut.”
“I assure you,” Tom said with a smile. “White people cut just as deep as anyone else.”
“Maybe,” Lemonade shrugged. “But I bet it don’t feel the same.”
“Joe Callan?” Lee prompted.
“Aw, yeah… this crazy motherfucker said he was headed to Rossford.”
“So you came here for that?”
“Partially, yes. I heard something about money, about Rossford, and about the Lighthouse Theatre.”
“Lemonade,” Fenn said carefully. “How do you know this Callan person?”
“Aw shit, he up into drugs. Sell ‘em to pornstars and shit. Got busted up around here not long ago. He should be having a trial, but last I heard he was going to break away. If they catch him again… It’s his ass.”
Tom looked up at Fenn.
“What?” Lemonade said.
“Lemon, get out a minute,” Fenn said.
“What’s going on?” he said.
“Lemonade,” Lee said quickly. “Get. You can come back in a minute.”
Awright. It’s your thing.”
He shrugged and went down the hall.
“Fenn, that money,” Tom said.
“It’s no way in hell he could know about it,” Fenn said.
“Unless Noah said something,” Paul said.
“He wouldn’t.”
“Who else?
“Lemonade!” Fenn shouted. “You can come back in.”
“Hey,” he said, walking back in, “I heard you got a new sister now.”
“If you value your life, even a little bit,” Lee told him, “you won’t bring her up again.”
“Shit, Lee, she’s family. Take her some flowers.”
“Take the bitch a punch in the mouth,” Fenn muttered, as Lee walked out, and Paul came in, ticking something off on his fingertips.
“Perplexed?” Fenn said.
“About Julian.”
“Oh, shit,” Lee muttered.
Paul said: “Does the whole thing with Vanessa… mean that Julian is both of you guys’ nephew?”
“No,” Lee said, flatly. “It makes him my cousin.”
“What if…?” Fenn said, “this man really is coming for us. If… Noah did, by accident maybe, give us away?”
Lee looked at his cousin.
“Well then that makes us in trouble.”

While Paul slept beside him, carefully, Brian rolled himself out of bed and, pulling on his briefs, rounded the bed to rummage through Paul’s jeans. When his hands hit the shiny coolness of the cell phone he smiled to himself and then, with it, tiptoed out of the dark bedroom flipping it on.
“Um…” these things all worked so damn differently!
“There,” he whispered, satisfied. The address book.
With a grim look of accomplishment, Brian crossed his living room and sat at his desk copying out one address and murmuring, “In East Carmel, Indiana.”
Then he went through the address book again.
“Not there…” Brian murmured.
He sat with the cell phone hanging from his hand, feeling a little put out. And then he sat up straighter and grinned brightly.
Well, he’d just have to deliver that himself.


“SEE,” BARB AFFREN said, turning it around in her hand. “That’s why I love this little baby so much, because you can put it in your purse and it’s silent when you fire it.”
Milo and Kenny walked into the kitchen and Barb discreetly tucked the gun under the tablecloth.
“Hey, grandma!”
“He kids.”
“We’re just looking for a snack.”
“We got Fritos up in that cupboard over the fridge. And have some manners.”
“Hi, Mr Houghton!” said Milo.
“Mr. Houghton, Mr. Phillips,” Kenny said. He pulled down the bag, and then they headed out of the kitchen with a pitcher of Kool-Aid.
The door swung shut and Barb continued:
“Now as I was saying: This will be just the thing for you to have for the next few days until we take care of that son of a bitch.”
“Now… when you say take care,” Fenn began.
“Oh, honey,” Barb pushed her glasses up, “I always send Bob out for a few new sacks of quicklime just in case we ever need it.”

“I hate to be the one to point this out,” his sister said, “but we’re outselling you.”
“No, actually sis, your lot isn’t,” Kirk Hanley differed, pushing up his glasses. “Not when you do the math.”
“I guess that’s that new math they’re talking about,” Sheila said with a smirk. “You better watch out little brother. Love is making your sales go down.”
“Love?” said their cousin Peter.
“Oh, yeah. Not a bad looking guy either.”
“I forgot about that,” Peter said.
“You can save your look of disgust for someone who cares,” Kirk told him.
“Hey!” Peter put up his hands. “Whatever floats you, Cuz. Personally, I don’t know how you could possibly be attracted to a man.”
“Well, if every man looked like you,” Sheila told her cousin, “that might be a valid thing to say.”
Kirk chuckled and said, “I’d love to fight with the both of you, but I gotta go across the street and do some business.”
“Praying for a customer?” Sheila said.
“Hellll no!” Kirk told her. “He called. I got an appointment with him for eleven. Wants to take a Cherokee on a test drive.”
“Gas guzzling bastard,” Sheila shouted at her brother’s departing back. “He’s killing the planet, and we’re helping him!”
Kirk shook his head and chuckled, jogging out of his sister’s lot and down to his where he came through the back door and tunneled through the little offices to the show room. A bell had just rung, and in came a tall, handsome and slightly cold looking—but who was he to judge—man.
The man gave him a half smile, and approached offering his hand.
“You must be Kirk Hanley.”
“Yes,” said Kirk. “And you must be my eleven o’clock, Brian Babcock!”


“Todd, can I ask you a question?”
“Hum?” Todd turned from his editing.
“I…” Paul edged into the office. “Maybe it’s my imagination. But it feels like you’ve been avoiding me.”
“Nope,” Todd said, turning away.
“Todd?”
Todd turned around and said, “Kirk’s a good guy.”
“I know he’s a good—I really like Kirk.”
“Then why are you sleeping with Brian?”
Paul opened his mouth.
“I know you are. I was out the other night and I was trying to surprise you, and… never mind. But, when I saw Brian come out of that apartment… God, Paul! Brian!”
“He’s not a bad person.”
“He’s a hurt person,” Todd said. “He’s a fucked up, wounded, potentially vicious person. And you’re not helping. You’re… how could you do this? It would kill Kirk. He thinks you’re so innocent. He doesn’t know anything. He thinks you’re afraid of sex. He thinks you’ve never dated and you’re afraid to make love to him.”
“I am,” Paul said.
Todd looked at him.
“The way I feel around him…” Paul began. “All of the feelings... I want him.”
“But that’s good.”
“But it’s not,” Paul shook his head. “I’ve… never made love. Never. I don’t even know how to. I’m… So… I just get terrified. And then something in me rushes back to do the old thing. To be what I was. Every time I’m with Kirk I get so scared. There’s that moment when I feel so soft, when I feel so…”
“In love.”
“Yes. And I don’t know what to do. Or who I am. And then I’m so afraid he’ll find out who I am, who I really am.”
“But, Paul, you’re you. You’re exactly who he knows.”
“I’m Johnny Mellow. That’s real.
“For almost ten years I was Johnny Mellow, and I went places—parties, weekend events and shit, pride parties—full of all these queens who made me feel like I was the biggest star in the world, like I was someone really great.
“But I come back here, to Rossford. And to Kirk. And I realize that there wasn’t a guy I met, who cheered for me, who told me how awesome I was, that I would have ever thought seriously about. Maybe fucked, but that’s about it.
“And then Kirk shows up and I’m just someone who whacked off in front of a camera, and… who has no education cause he was busy blowing fat queens on Rodeo Drive. I’m… If he knows that part of me. If…”
“Paul, you can’t keep this up. Dating him, screwing Brian. It’s not fair… to anyone.”
“I know.”
Todd nodded.
“I just… I just don’t know how to tell him.”

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