Haven Page 8


“Eksactly. Dat is what I’m saying. Give her da man-meat and she will give you da drugs.”


I got an uncomfortable feeling in my gut. “So you want me to ask guys to pimp themselves out for the good of the group? That’s just wrong.”


Bodo sighed. “Dat’s true, yes, but I don’t think you are goingk to have a problem with da men saying no.”


“Think about it, Bryn,” said Peter. “If we could all control ourselves and do the right thing, none of us would have sex with someone of the opposite sex until our world is a better place to live in. Having a baby is too big of a risk. But we’re human. We don’t always do the smart thing. So, if a guy could be with someone who wanted to have a baby and she had a way to take care of it, maybe it would be kind of tempting to be able to have sex and not worry about the consequences.”


“Except for the fact that he’d have a kid out there somewhere,” I said, getting angry about the things they were suggesting. “Not all guys would be okay with fathering a kid and then disappearing.”


“No, you’re right. I’m not saying that, exactly,” said Peter. “I just mean that it’s a different world but we still have the same basic needs.”


“Yes, and da evolution is strong. People will still want to have da babies, even when da world is a scary place.”


“It’s hardwired into our DNA to procreate,” said Peter. “Even when technically the way we want to do things won’t ever end in procreation.”


“Are you saying you want to adopt, Peter?” I asked, trying like heck to hold back my laughter.


“Mock me if you will,” warned my little friend. “I’d make a great dad, though. I don’t care what you say.”


I reached out in the darkness and patted him roughly on the head. “Yes, you would. You totally would. I was just messing with you. Have you picked out a name for your baby yet?”


“Yes, as a matter of fact I have,” he responded sassily.


“And a co-parent? Do you have one of those picked out too?” I meant it as a joke, but I knew as soon as the words left my mouth that it was a mistake.


Peter rolled over and didn’t say anything.


I scooted over closer to him. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. I’m an idiot.”


“Yes, you are,” he said very quietly.


“Peter, listen to me.” I put my hand on his shoulder and tugged him over onto his back. “I’m going to go back and find him for you.”


Peter gripped my hand, his boney fingers digging into my skin. “No! No, you can’t go back there. Especially not for him.”


“We are. Not just me, but several kids. We have to go back and figure out what’s going on … get Trip and the rest of them over here if they want to be here.”


Peter sat up. “You can’t be serious!”


“Hush, dope! You want to wake everyone up?” I pushed him back down, and he went with only a little resistance. “We have to go, and you know it. If it were me back there, you’d come.”


“Yeah, but it’s not you. It’s just a bunch of idiots who didn’t back you up as far as I’m concerned. They can just figure out how to get here like Rob and Paci did.”


“You don’t mean that,” I chided. “Many hands make light work, right? We could use more able-bodied people here helping us. Not to mention some horses and cows and stuff.”


Peter didn’t say anything for a while. When he did, I could almost hear the gears turning in his little head. “You seriously think you could get all that stuff here and not get caught by canners?”


“I think I need to try.” I wasn’t about to guarantee him I could accomplish that without paying a price of some sort. I wasn’t that stupid.


He sighed heavily. “I guess I have some plans to coordinate. When do you think you’ll go?”


“Couple days, a week. Whenever we can. When a few more people are strong enough to go with me.”


“Good. That gives me time to put some things together.”


“Things like what?”


“You’ll see.” He rolled over and was soon asleep.


I considered ignoring the other elephant in the room in favor of much-needed rest, but my conscience wouldn’t let me. Bodo’s breathing was regular but missing the light snoring he sometimes had.


“Bodo? Are you awake?” I whispered.


“Yes. I’m very tired but I haff a lot of things on my mind, I guess.”


“Me too.” I wasn’t sure where to start.


“Do you want to talk to me about somesing?”


“Yes. I do, actually.”


Here it comes. The moment where I admit I’m an asshole. “Remember when you were gone … at the Amazon’s place?”


“Yes, of course. How can I forget dat?”


“Yeah, well … something happened while you were gone. It’s not a big deal really, but I just think I should tell you anyway.”


Bodo said nothing for a long time. I was starting to feel sick by the time he responded. “I am not goingk to like dis, am I?”


My ears were hot with shame. “Probably not. But I hope it’s not going to be a big deal to you because it’s not to me.”


“Tell me what it is, please.”


I was on my back, looking up at the ceiling. I wanted to stay that way so I could avoid the shame of seeing his reaction, but that was the coward’s way out. I rolled onto my side, facing him. I couldn’t see his expression in the darkness, but I knew he was there by the heat of his breath hitting my face.


“When you were gone, I was seriously stressing about you being dead. No one knew what had happened and what everyone saw you doing last was fighting canners right by the place that eventually was blown up and on fire.”


“You thought I was deadt.”


“Yes. Well, no. I wasn’t sure. I kept telling myself you could be alive, but then I couldn’t figure out why you wouldn’t come back to Kahayatle.”


“You mean back to you.”


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I sighed. “Yeah, that too.”


“You know I tried, right?”


“Yes, I do now. But at the time, I didn’t, you know? And as the days went by and you still didn’t show up, I got more and more depressed. I don’t know … I kind of felt like I’d lost my dad all over again in a way. I kept thinking how much he would have liked you.”


Bodo reached out and rubbed my arm. “Thank you, Bryn. I know dat is very special for you to say dat.”


His being so nice just made me feel worse. “That’s not what I need to tell you, though.”


“Okay, I’m listening.”


“After you left, someone in the swamp kind of made it known that he … you know, wanted to be with me … like you were.” My face was flaming red right now, and it only got worse when Bodo’s hand went still and then left my arm.


“Continue,” he said.


“Everyone thought you were dead. He didn’t mean anything bad or disrespectful by it. He wouldn’t have done it if you had been there.”


“Who was it?”


“I’d rather not say.” There was so much potential for bad blood in this situation, I hoped to avoid it as much as possible by keeping his name secret.


“Dat’s okay. I know who it was. It’s dat Paci.”


I felt like I was going to throw up hearing the tone of Bodo’s voice. It was dead-sounding. No emotion. The love that was usually there shining through was gone.


“Yes. It was. He’s not a bad person, Bodo.”


“No, he’s not a bad person. I know dat. But he’s a person who wants to be Mr. Bryn, I know dat too. And if you want him, den I guess dat is your choice.”


“I don’t. I just have to tell you that something happened with him, and I’m not proud of it or happy about it. It just … happened.”


Again there was a long pause before he spoke. “Just tell me. I am imagining a lot of thingks und I prefer da truth.”


“We kissed. We talked and we kissed. One time.”


“What kind of kiss?” His voice was strained.


I didn’t want to answer. I wanted to lie. I wanted the truth to not even exist. But it didn’t matter. It happened, and there was no denying it.


“It was a big one. It was meaningful.”


“Oh. I see.” He rolled over and didn’t say another word.


I wrestled with myself about whether to keep talking. But I couldn’t think of anything else to say other than one last thing.


“I’m sorry, Bodo. If I could take it back, I would.”


No response.


It took me a long time to fall asleep, and when I finally did, nightmares of being left behind and abandoned by the boy I loved filled my head and left me crying silently in the dark.


***


When I awoke, I was alone on my blanket with only a sleeping kitten and Buster to keep me company. Peter was standing with a group of girls across the room and Bodo was nowhere to be seen. I left the ball of fur suffering under the poodle’s anxious attention to use the temporary latrine that Peter had a group dig out the day prior. On my way out I looked around, but still didn’t see Bodo anywhere.


When I emerged from behind the tarp that served as the latrine’s door, Rob was standing outside.


“Hey, Rob, what’s up?”


“Just draining the main vein. You know how it is.”


“Ew. Too much information, dude. Why are you using the outhouse, though? Can’t you just go anywhere?”


“Technically, yes. But Peter is making everyone go in the same place. He says he wants to control disease and sanitation or whatever.”


I laughed. “Awesome. Well, enjoy.” I gestured to the tarp as I walked by.


“Wait up for me. I’ll just be a second.”


I stood back a few paces waiting for him. He talked while he wizzed.


“We need to get going on our little rescue plan or whatever. There’s no reason to wait. Fohi’s not going no matter what he says, and the longer we wait, the more time we give those asshole canners a chance to get in there again and in bigger groups.”


I nodded absently, thinking about the nightmare of walking in on a recently fought canner war. The casualties would be horrendous.


“Yeah. I know. The logistics suck, though … I wish we could take Peter with us.”


“I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that,” said Rob, coming out and tying the straps on the front of his pants. “Dude’s been up since before dawn planning with a group of other OCD kids. He’ll have our every move mapped out before lunch.”


I smiled. “There’s a group of them?”


“Yeah. They’re calling themselves the City Manager’s Corps or something like that. Bunch of Peter disciples. I won’t be surprised if they start saluting him soon.”


“Peter disciples. That just sounds so wrong.”


He laughed as we walked back to the lobby. “Tell me about it. But it seems to make him happy and keep his mind off … well, you know … stuff, so whatever.”


“Trip, you mean.”


“Yeah, maybe.”


“So what’s the deal with Trip? I mean, did he say anything to you guys about Peter or whatever after we left?”


“Nah. He didn’t say anything. But he was obviously really upset, and I think everyone knew it wasn’t over you.”


“Why doesn’t he just admit he’s in love with Peter or likes him or whatever and get over himself?”


“It’s not that easy. Trip’s dad was really harsh. Being gay would have been like a sin against the family or something to that guy. Trip didn’t even want to admit it to himself for a really long time. At least, that’s what it seemed like from where I stood.”

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