Children of Starlight, part 3 episode 13 of “The Starlight Trilogy” by Thea Washington
The character “the Rock Star” is based on Adam Lambert.
The videos in Part 3 feature Adam Lambert, Queen, Depeche Mode and Savage Garden.
Chapter 25 – LOVER’S RISK
It was late morning in Rio. Angel was having his hair and makeup done for an afternoon interview when he heard the tone on the handpad. Everyone in the room knew what that meant, leaving him to his private “family time.” He turned it on wearing a grin on his face, expecting to see two little angelfaces grinning back.
It was early morning in L.A. and the kids loved to talk with him while they spilled cereal all over themselves and their miniature kitchen table. It was always funny to see Dad/Daddy dressed up to talk to people and sing for them. But it wasn’t the kids who greeted him. It was Lover, looking as if he hadn’t slept in days, although they’d talked early the day before and he’d been fine. Angel was immediately on high alert.
“What’s happened? Is it the kids? Are they OK?”
“No, no, babe. They’re fine, really. It’s me. It’s me.” Lover could barely get the words out.
“What, baby?” asked Angel. “Tell me what’s wrong?”
Lover took a deep breath and said, slowly, “I killed a man.”
Canceling the interview, Angel left.
Across town another man was on the phone, too, calling back to Maryland.
“Well, I saw him,” he told Twin.
“How’d it go?” she asked.
“Oh, about the way you’d expect. He wouldn’t admit anything but I could tell I had it right. Thanks for your help with that.”
“You’re welcome. What about the money?”
“You were right, we didn’t really talk about it. I just dropped the number. My guess is he’ll want to talk to the Rock Star before he does anything.”
“Yeah, he will. Remember now, you on thin ice. Don’t fall through ‘cause I don’t like getting my hair wet.”
“Don’t worry, sweetie. Neither one of us is taking a bath on this one. You just leave it to me.”
“OK, but remember, shit can go both ways. We can be friends, or not.”
“I remember. And I’m not gonna forget. Pack up, it’s time to leave.”
Lover was in the window seat when he saw the limo pull into the driveway. He was in Angel’s arms as soon as he’d gotten in the door.“Where are the kids?”
“They’re on a play date at the Guitarist’s. They won’t be back for another couple of hours.” Lover was barely able to speak, he was so relieved that Angel was home.
“Come on, let’s go sort this out.”
Lover told him the whole story.
Angel had known about Lover’s childhood, how he’d started being a lookout for the neighborhood’s main Pimp Dealer before he was eight years old. How he was called “P.B.” for “Peanut Butter” because it described his complexion as well as his smooth skin when men in the neighborhood sexually abused him. It had gone on for years. How he’d had a secret place on the roof of the tenement building where his family lived, Mommy, him, his Twin sister and their little brother and sister. That was his family, his father having abandoned them.
Lover had grown up determined to never be anything like his father and, except for being a father himself now, he’d made sure that had come true. He’d told Angel about going to live with his Aunt and Uncle in a D.C. suburb and how the better schools had landed him at Harvard and Wharton. It had also led him to an internship at the P.R. and marketing firm in L.A. where he’d learned the business that had made him an international figure and a billionaire.
But there were big chunks in the story and it was time for Angel to know what they were.
“I don’t know where to start,” Lover said, sitting on the sofa next to Angel, who had his arms wrapped around him.
“Just tell me. You know you can tell me anything. Anything. Nothing you could say could hurt us, you know that, right?” Lover wanted to believe it, so badly. Something inside told him he couldn’t be sure, not about something like this. But he also knew there wasn’t any way he couldn’t tell Angel now that the memories had surfaced.
(The Demons, who’d been gone for so long while Angel and Lover had put their life back together, literally smelled blood in the water. It was an opportunity they could not resist. And this time they were determined to win.)
Angel could see how upset Lover was, but he also knew he would tell him what was so bad, what was upsetting him so much.
Chapter 26 – SNAKE
By the time Lover was ten, he’d saved a stash of money from his job with the Pimp Dealer. Some of it he gave to Mommy to help her out. Sometimes he’d buy clothes and food for his brother and sisters, sometimes he’d pay the phone bill or the electric bill. A couple of times he’d even given Mommy enough to catch up on the rent so they wouldn’t be evicted. He’d hidden the rest in his secret place on the roof.
He never found out how, but Snake, the Pimp Dealer’s brother, heard about the money and the secret place, maybe because they were never evicted and the lights and phone stayed on. Snake was known in the neighborhood as a Perp who especially liked little boys. Especially pretty little boys like Lover. Pimp Dealer was able to keep Snake off Lover for a while but, when the drug-addicted gambler found out about the hiding place, nothing could have stopped him. Snake was determined to have both “P.B.” and the cash.
One day Lover was in his secret place when he heard Snake’s distinctive footsteps headed in his direction. He knew it meant trouble, big trouble. Snake was known to be extremely cruel to his prey. Lover tried to hide even more before Snake saw him, but the man easily found him and pulled him back to the secret place.
“I tried to get away.” Lover had been holding it together until he said those words. The dam broke and he was whimpering. It was worse than that night with the chair. “I tried, I really did, but he was so much stronger than me and I couldn’t … ”
Lover had to stop, take a few breaths. Angel could feel him shaking and was himself afraid of whatever was coming next.
“I was so scared. I’d heard what he did sometimes. He’d make the boys do things before he’d rape them. I don’t know which I thought was worse. I just didn’t want it to happen to me. And then he made me kneel in front of him and he took it out and he had this look on his face and I knew he was … he was …”
Lover could barely breathe now. He was back on the roof with Snake.
He gathered himself and made himself finish telling his husband about that terrifying day.
“I knew he was … what he was going to make me do first. He had his hands on my head and he told me to get it out and to take hold of him. I could see it. And I knew he kept a knife in his back pocket. So I pretended to reach around him to hold on but I got the knife and then I stabbed him. I stabbed him. I kept stabbing him. And I cut it off.”
“And then I ran away.”
Angel was horrified at what he was hearing. Not that he had any sympathy for Snake, appropriately named and who’d gotten what he deserved. His heart was breaking for his Treasure, his Lover, his husband, his heart. By now they were both in tears, hanging onto each other, drowning in the horror of what had happened on the roof.
“I ran back to the apartment. Mommy was there with Twin when I ran in. I just wanted to be safe and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do. I had blood all over me from where I’d stabbed him and cut him. Twin started screaming and Mommy made her shut up. I still had the knife.”
Angel suddenly realized something else. That was why Lover was always so nervous and fumbling around knives and why, that night with the chair, Lover had become even more terrified as Angel had gotten closer to them on the counter. Angel remembered how Lover had looked at him and then at the knives and then back at him, that look on his face as if he were somewhere else, in Hell. He had been and now Angel knew where. “What happened then?” he asked, gently. “What did Mommy do?”
Lover took another deep breath before he answered. “She made Twin help me get my clothes off while I told Mommy where my secret place was and about the money and the books I kept up there. She got a pail and some bleach and cleanser and I remember she had a pair of rubber gloves. She took the knife, too. She told us to stay in the apartment until she got back, no matter how long it took. So that’s what we did.”
Now that the worst part of the memory was told, Lover calmed down a little. He felt like he could tell Angel the rest now. He took another swallow of the water Angel’d gotten him and they just sat there for a while until Lover was ready to keep going. By now it was like he had to get it all out or he’d never escape the memory. Angel knew exactly how that felt, from that day when he’d finally let Starlight go. But this, this was a million times worse.
“Mommy was gone a long time. Twin acted like she was afraid of me. I don’t know, I guess all the blood. I remember her running me a bath and me getting in it and watching the water turn pink.”
“Blood in the water,” the Demons cackled.
“I took the bath and put on some clean clothes. When Mommy came back she had all the money and my books and everything I’d had up there. Then she took the bloody clothes and my shoes and went somewhere and burned them. I guess nobody thought anything about it because we used to burn trash all the time. The garbage trucks didn’t always come and the smell would get so bad. You know, sometimes I still remember that smell, all that garbage piled up.” He shook his head as if he were trying to get that smell out of his memory, too.
Angel remembered the Exec screaming at him that he’d treated Lover like garbage. He put that away in his mind; because he was realizing how right the Exec had been and because he knew Lover needed his full attention now.
“That night I heard Mommy on the phone with Auntie. I didn’t know what they were talking about but the next day she packed up all my clothes and Auntie and Uncle came and got me and took me to live with them. I was crying. I thought I’d never see Mommy again or my sisters or my brother. I thought she was sending me away because I’d been bad and she didn’t want me around anymore. But she said it was to protect me and that I’d get to go to better schools and that I’d have a better life. And Twin was crying, too, everybody was crying, Mommy, too.”
Angel was so gentle when he asked, “Did you ever see your family again?”
Lover nodded. “Mommy would come visit every once in a while. I was so glad to see her. She wouldn’t let my younger brother and sister come because she was afraid they would find out what had really happened that day and where I was. Sometimes she’d bring Twin, though. She’d act kinda mad. Mommy said it was because they’d been fighting about school and boys and stuff but I think they were fighting about me. She could get awfully mad awfully quick.” Lover almost chuckled, remembering that. “That was the weird thing about being twins. We’d mostly been so different, even though we looked a lot alike. But in some ways we are a lot alike.” He stopped as he was once more back in his childhood.
“You know, I don’t think things were ever the same between us. Mommy made sure Twin never said anything to anybody. I heard her tell Auntie that they were always fighting about it. Twin kept saying it wasn’t fair that I got to go live with Auntie and Uncle in their nice house and go to nice schools and have all this stuff when I’d killed Snake.”
“You were protecting yourself. It was self-defense,” said Angel. “And being a kid and knowing what that pervert was going to do to you, I’m amazed you’re still sane. I would’ve gone crazy by now for real.”
“Well, I felt like it a few times, when I was still a kid. You know what, though? As I got older, I guess I buried it all. But I’ve always been scared around knives and I’d never let myself think of why … .” He drifted off, now remembering everything from his life before and after Snake.
“Anyway, I heard they found Snake’s body up on the roof but they figured some bookie or a member of that other gang had killed him. Everybody knew what he was, what he did, so nobody was really sad about what’d happened.” Lover took another deep breath. “Except his brother the Pimp Dealer,” he said. “He was pissed off, I mean, really pissed off. He said he was gonna find out who killed Snake if it was the last thing he did.”
Angel hugged Lover even closer to him. “Well, he’d better not come around here, that’s for sure. I swear to God I’d kill him before I let him get close to you or the kids.”
Lover looked at Angel. “Pimp Dealer’s not the problem,” he said. “The Reporter was here yesterday. He knows everything and he wants $20 million.”
Tomorrow in “Children” – The real target, and friends come to help