Jericho

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Gay and Lesbian  |  House: Booksie Classic


Jericho is a short story written from the novel I am currently working on.



Hi! I'm Jericho-but don't call me that, because it's the name she calls me by. Life is supposed to be good I guess. I'm after all the lead singer of one of the hottest rock bands around. Yet, the
only thing I can think of is how much I sucked at trying to take my own life. Now sent to a ranch to clean up my act, I didn't choose to be there to heal. I went simply to get away from her, my
mother- or perhaps I should say, my monster. When friendship and loves come in the form of Roman Carter, a trainee at the camp, things seem to finally make sense. And then, they took him away.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jericho

 

 

1

 

“There’s just one condition. If he stays, you’ll sever all contact with him until he’s ready to leave the ranch.”

Previously tuned out from the conversation circling my head, I glanced up at the bald man speaking to my mother. Or maybe I should say my monster. Since staring at the slashes in my wrists and watching my blood drain the life out of me, this was the most interesting thing that held my focus. Two weeks spent in the hospital and placed under suicide watch. A social worker who I refused to speak to. Doctors who tried to get me to respond. Nurses who tried to make me want to live. And a priest who thought to scare the devil out of me. My laugh that day in the hospital had scared him.

Yet, the only thing that worked, that sparked the remotest possibility of life still left in me was hearing that I could be away from her. Once I was away from her, I would be freed from him. Jericho.

 “That’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard,” mother objected, getting to her feet. She had dressed with intent today, her skirt inches above her knees and the low cut of her top threatening to expose her fake double Ds. The ones my money paid for.

“It’s the way we operate here at the ranch, Miss. Kane,” the ranch director said, not budging an inch. Yes, yes, stick it to her like I wish I could. Let her know she can’t manipulate you. You’re the boss.

“Then I guess we’ll just have to find somewhere else to go,” mother huffed, flipping her big golden hair over her shoulders. She reached out a skeletal hand towards me and I recoiled. “Come Jericho, baby. Mama will find you a decent place where she can ensure you’re being cared for.”

I almost went but when her hand touched mine, fire burned inside me. I felt, and I hadn’t felt in a long time.

“No!” The word came out hoarse from my unused voice of the past two weeks. “No!” I said stronger.

“What did you say, Jericho?” the social worker asked. She had sat there and listened to the exchange. I could see the shock on her face and my mother’s. The dumb had finally been forced to speak. Now everyone wanted to hear what I had to say. Where were you when I was speaking for the past two years?

“This is where I want to stay,” I answered, not looking at her. I raised my eyes to regard the social worker and repeated, “this is where I want to stay.”

“Now, Jericho don’t be difficult,” mother said. “We can find somewhere better.”

“Please.”

I hated begging but if it had worked in the past, perhaps it would work now. The social worker had compassion in her eyes when she turned to my mother. “This is the right place for him, Miss. Kane. We won’t leave the ranch without signing up.”

My mother’s hands were tied, and she knew it. She smiled when she looked at me but behind the smile I saw the wrath in the depths of her pupil. “Are you sure you want to stay, Jericho?”

I closed my eyes and pressed my hands to my forehead. Jericho. Jericho. The name mocked me, inspired fear in me. She is going to get me. Please don’t let her get me. My eyes flew open.

“Yes, I want to stay.”

 

 

2

 

Jericho! Jericho! Jericho! The crowd chanted over and over. I stared into the crowd of screaming fans, overwhelmed by the numbers that had turned out tonight. In the sea of faces, I stood alone, scared, guitar in hand. I turned, wanting to run back stage but then I saw him, standing there backstage, watching me, ensuring that I became who he had taught me to be.

Drum sticks knocked together. One. Two. Three. Go! Jericho strummed the guitar. It was Jericho who walked calmly up to the microphone and struck a pose. It was Jericho’s name that was on the lips of the crowd, so Jericho did his due and pleased the crowd.

I blinked, stunned as the faces in the crowd became one. “You’re not going to talk to these people about anything, do you hear me, Jericho?”

“They can help me,” I whispered. “I don’t want to die. They can help me.”

“No, they can’t. Nobody can help you. Nobody wants to help you! You’re a little shit I made into somebody, so you shut your fucking mouth!”

I dropped the guitar and moved back in fear. I bumped into a hard wall and spun faster than a fidget spinner. Icy blue eyes frozen over with cruelty stared back at me. A smirk upturned one corner of his lip and still the crowd chanted Jericho! Jericho! They stood there and watched when his hands dipped between our bodies and still the chants went up.

“Please don’t,” I whimpered in fear.  “Please-”

“That’s right, you beg for it!”

I jerked out of bed, disoriented, my heart beating so hard I thought I was going to pass out. I wheezed trying to suck in much needed oxygen between my cracked lips. I jumped back at the knocking that sounded on the door, realizing it had saved me from the monsters that waited until I closed my eyes.

“Hey, open the door, will you?”

I couldn’t answer. My heart was still beating too hard and fast and I thumped against my chest in panic. I tried to get out of bed and to the first drawer of the dresser. My hands swept across the surface, sending objects flying to the floor. I ignored them, ignored the sound of my bedroom door opening. They had said I couldn’t have a locked door. The more they realized I could be trusted, the more freedom and privacy I could have. At least that was what they had promised. I knew better. Promises were comforts only fools delighted in.

“Hey, are you okay?”

I grabbed the small inhaler from the drawer but my hand was shaking too hard to aim for my mouth.

“Jesus Christ, what’d you do?” asked the same masculine voice over me.

Strong arms grabbed me under the arm pits and pulled me towards the bed.

“No!” I clawed at him in panic. “Let me go! Let me go!”

“I’m just trying to help you to breathe!”

Lies. They told lies to get me to do what they wanted. I started to sob, pushing at the strong arms but was already pushed onto my back. The guy, whoever he was, I couldn’t see him clearly, but he climbed partially onto me, trapping my hands beneath my body. He grasped the pump from my hand and shoved it into my mouth.

“Breathe! Breathe!” he instructed me, his voice calm and soothing. I inhaled too deep and the spray caused me to choke and cough.

“Let’s try to do it again,” he said, running the fingers of one hand through my blond hair in soothing strokes. He was speaking to me as though a baby. “I promise you, I’m not here to hurt you. I just want you to breathe properly. Nod if you understand.”

I nodded, feeling my tense body start to relax beneath his more muscular frame. He inserted the inhaler into my mouth once more and this time I was more prepared. I closed my eyes and concentrated on my breathing. It also made me aware of the hard thighs pressing into mine.

“Get off me,” were the first words I spoke once my breathing was back under control. I tensed once more, prepared for him to tell me he would do so when he was good and ready.

“Sorry about that,” he said instead and moved away, to stand at the edge of the twin bed. “You scared me there for a bit. You were starting to look so white. How are you feeling?”

Instead of answering, I stared up at the guy who had possibly helped save my life. He wasn’t as big as I’d thought at first. He had probably seemed that way because I attributed his size to that of the man who had overpowered me on so many occasions. It didn’t mean he was lacking though. He had ropy muscles which showed through the gray T-shirt he wore. His chest was hard, and his complexion tanned. He was nowhere near the most handsome guy I’d ever seen though he had great hair, thick and black, falling down to his shoulders. His eyes were blue, and I held my breath, waiting for another panic attack but he smiled, showing his slightly crooked front teeth and I didn’t panic at all.

“I’m Roman,” he told me. “I work around here and get the lazy ones up for farm life. Can you throw on something so we can go? We’re half an hour behind in chores.”

“I’m not doing any friggin’ chores,” I mumbled. “With the money I paid to get in here, you can hire people to do those chores.”

His face fell and a part of me felt bad for wiping off that smile from his face. “Everyone shares in chores,” he told me. “I’ll give you fifteen minutes to put on clothes. Wear something light, get rid of the long sleeves. It’s hotter than hell out here.”

Before I could respond, he was already out the door. I told myself there was only one reason I did as I was told. I badly wanted to get out of the little box room they had put me in.

 

 

3

 

“Where are we?” I asked as I trudged beside Roman twenty minutes later. He was right. The heat in this place was horrible but the long sleeve shirt I wore was non-negotiable. It was a part of me. It hid the monstrosity that was inside of me, begging to come out and made its manifestations as scars. Before I had dressed, I’d opened two fresh wounds on my upper arm with the razor I had taped underneath the bottom of one drawer. I’d slipped it into the ranch inside the heel of my boots. They’d checked me thoroughly when admitting me into the rehab ranch. They’d taken my packs of cigarettes, my bottle of good booze and all sharp objects. They had even taken my belt.

“For the time being we are on chicken duty,” he announced with a grin. I wondered why he always smiled or laughed. He was on a ranch of depressed people with all sorts of mental problems. Did he think it was appropriate to just go around smiling like everything was right with the world?

“What the fuck does that mean?” For the first time, I was able to express myself without suppression. I could say whatever I wanted. However, I wanted.

“Language,” he scolded, glancing at me. “We’ll feed the chickens and gather the eggs they’ve hatched. That’s breakfast. The farm is self-sufficient. We live off its produce.”

I frowned at him and stopped immediately. “If you think I’m going to do your job for you, then you’re mistaken.”

“You’re not doing my job for me,” he replied, stopping at the building where I could hear clucking. “I’m actually here to help you to do your job.”

“My job?”

He nodded. “Yes. Look around you. Everybody is assigned a duty around the ranch. It’s the physical aspect of healing. The counselors, therapists, they will deal with the rest after.”

“Gathering eggs will stop me from wanting to slit me wrists again?” I asked incredulously.

His frown deepened. “Any reason for living, even one as mundane as gathering eggs, is reason enough to live.”

“Are you a counselor or a therapist?” I enquired, eyeing him suspiciously.

He smiled. “None. I’m a junior counselor-in-training. I ensure the difficult cases are constantly watched.” The way he looked at me left no doubt to whom he was referring.

“I don’t know any damn thing about chickens,” I muttered. I looked away then back to him when he said nothing. I found him staring at me in a peculiar way. His eyes jerked to mine when he noticed I had been watching him watch me. His face turned pink and he turned his back to unlock the door at the small coop.

“I’ll teach you what to do,” he told me. “Give me your hand.”

His hand was outstretched to me. I noted the way he didn’t reach out to grab my hand but waited for me to take his. I glanced up at him, his face open, hiding no secret intent. I placed my hand in his, feeling the calloused palm against my softer ones. A tremor slivered through me and I looked anywhere but at him. Nobody should know who or what I was. Jericho wasn’t gay and that was important. Jericho was the heartstopper of a rock band, the boy wonder every young girl dreamed of. All that mattered was what Jericho wanted. Not what I needed.

His fingers curled around mine and he tugged me towards him when I hesitated. I took one step then another until I was walking inside the coop with him. I stilled by his side, checking out the chicken. They had white feathers and there must have been some two dozen of them. A few flew from their perch when we walked in and I prepared to run, my body tense. But I felt fingers gripping mine and squeezing.

“They’re friendly,” Roman told me. “They won’t peck unless you hurt them. We’ll throw the feed here and while they are eating we get the eggs. Here.”

He let go of my hand and thrust a basket at me. I stood, staring at him as he scattered a handful of feed to the ground. The chickens flew down and swarmed him, pecking at the floor. He laughed when a bird flew onto his shoulder and I stared at him, just drinking him in. He was like a cool glass of refreshing lemonade, so happy and full of life. No wonder I felt this inexplicable pull towards him. He had the smile I had lost, my laughter that had dried up.

Without a word, I turned from him and started to gather the eggs.

 

 

4

 

“Hey, aren’t you Jericho from the rock band?”

I glanced up in panic at the girl who had recognized me. So far, for the most part I had kept to myself but there were meals that they expected us to take together at the ranch. It was one way for them to check up on us to ensure we were all still alive. At least that was the way I looked at it.

“No, you’re mistaken.” I mumbled and with my tray in hand walked from the dining hall. I didn’t want to eat with anyone. Certainly not anyone who knew who Jericho was. I just wanted to be left alone.

I located a secluded spot outside under a tree and pushed the food around on my plate. It was the eggs I had gathered this morning with Roman. I was getting better at it too after one week of ranch life. Toast and bacon made up the other portion of the meal. I felt sick just looking at it. I hadn’t been able to eat well for a while or sometimes I would eat but bring it all back up later. It was the way my mother had taught me. She said my fans loved my boyish, slender, blond good looks. If I gained any weight, I could lose my fans.

Mommy always knew best.

“Thought you might need some company.”

I didn’t have to look up because I recognized the voice and his scent. Roman. For some reason, he always found me wherever I was. It was like he had a radar that made it impossible for me to hide away completely. When no one else knew where I was, he could find me.

“You don’t have to constantly watch me, you know,” I grumbled under my breath.

“What are you talking about?” he asked, then moaned from the forkful of eggs he shoveled into his mouth. Unlike me, he always ate huge portions.

“I know they pay you to watch me,” I answered. “To act like you care.”

He chewed carefully before he answered. “Partially true. I do get paid to ensure you’re okay.” He chewed again, letting seconds go by before he added, “but they don’t pay me to care. I simply do.”

I clamped my eyes shut, wanting to bang my fists against my head to get out the foolish thoughts of tenderness. There was no such thing for me. All I knew was bitterness.

“Stop lying to me.”

He reached across to grip my skinny knee and squeezed. “I’m not lying to you, Jericho.”

“Don’t call me that!” I shouted. “Don’t fucking call me by that name!”

He didn’t let go of my knee. “Why?”

“Just don’t call me by it, okay? Call me anything you want. I don’t care. I just-I don’t want to hear that name again.” I sighed, losing my steam and added on a whisper. “Especially from you.”

“Is it okay to call you Jerry then?” he asked.

“I don’t care.”

I heard him sigh. “You know professing not to care usually means you do care.”

I stopped myself from saying the first words that came to my lips. I don’t care.

“Eat your breakfast,” he instructed me. “You’re very slender. Too slender.”

“It’s my image. What’s it to you?”

“You’re really too skinny, Jer.”

A shiver ran through me. First Jerry and now Jer? He was making it hard for me to stay away from him.

I scoffed at his words. “So you say but still I see the way you look at me.-+” My words were more bravado than fact. Yes, I’d caught him eyeing me several times and thought I saw interest in their midst, but I never knew for sure if I was mistaken or not. Until now.

I peeked at him from beneath my thick lashes, biting on my lower lip. His face was a lobster red and he was making every effort not to look at me. “I’m here only in professional capacity,” he sprouted.

“Bullshit,” I called. “You’re not only as gay as I am but you’d like to be gay with me. You people talk about honesty and opening up and you don’t even practice what you preach!”

Disgusted, I pushed the plate from my lap to the ground and stalked to my feet. I plunged ahead, feeling rage engulf me. I hated it that he couldn’t simply admit interest in me. Who was I kidding? I was damaged goods. What would he be doing with suicide on legs? He seemed a decent guy.

“Jerry, wait!”

I broke in a run when I realized he was coming after me. To feed me more of his lies. I spotted the barn and ducked inside. Horses neighed at my sudden entry and I paused, nervous. Before I could gather the courage to make a step, Roman slipped into the barn behind me.

“Don’t go!” he insisted and grabbed the tail of my shirt when I would have ran. He yanked and I stumbled back, hitting the solid wall of his chest. His arms snaked around my waist and the shaking started. I shuddered against him and couldn’t stop. I didn’t like the way he made me feel so good to be up against him. I closed my eyes, fighting with the desire building inside me, desire I’d been told to suppress, even while they fed them in the dark.

“Easy, easy, I’m not going to hurt you,” he murmured, his hand sliding under my shirt to stroke the hollow carve of my belly. “I just want you to be well.”

“Then tell me the truth,” I said angrily, my breathing coming in shallow pants. “Tell me I’m not crazy.”

He turned me around slowly in his arms, so we were face to face. He pressed his forehead to mine and took a deep breath. For the first time, I realized he was struggling too with what he was feeling.

“No, you’re not crazy,” he said softly, his breath tickling my lips. “It’s just I’m here in a professional capacity and-”

I didn’t want to know how much duty dictated what we could and couldn’t do. For the past week we had been skirting around the electricity bouncing between us. I shifted my head lower and captured his lips with mine. He startled for a second and pulled back. He stared at me for one second…two seconds…three seconds…and then he was pulling me back against him.

Roman cupped the back of my head, his fingers digging in my hair in a relaxing way. He kissed me softly, sucking on my lips, teasing me to open up for his questing tongue. I gasped, my body wound so tight with need that I was shaking a little. I wanted him so damn much and the feeling nearly overwhelmed me, that this time I had control over what we were doing. I knew if I asked him to stop he would, but better still was that I didn’t want him to. I could kiss him for days.

“Come here.” He took my hand and I followed him without question. He led me to a wooden staircase and we climbed still not speaking and with him gripping my hand so tight it hurt. I looked around in surprise when the stairs gave way to a hay loft. In one corner of the loft on a bed of straw lay a thick blanket and a book. I glanced at him in question.

“I come up here to think and to get away,” he answered, then released my hand, staring from the straw bed to me. “You can stay if you want or we can go back and pretend none of this ever happened.”

I hesitated, uncertain of what I wanted. I remembered the marks on my body and knew it wasn’t a pretty sight. “Uh maybe I moved a little too fast,” I said.

His face fell and he scratched the back of his head. “That’s okay. Let’s go, then. As I said, no pressure.”

He turned away and I couldn’t bare to see the disappointment in his eyes. He was always smiling, and I didn’t want to be the one to kill that. I grabbed a hold of his hand and stopped him. “We don’t have to leave. I mean, unless that’s all you’re interested in.” I released him, stepping away as an unpleasant thought came to mind. “Unless this is you just wanting to brag about fucking Jericho, popular rock boy.”

He scowled at me. “That’s ridiculous. You think I give a shit who you are?”

I shrugged. “Everybody else does so why should I think you’re any different?”

“Maybe because you came on to me and not the other way around?” he snapped. “Look, this was a mistake apparently. I’ve work to do.”

As he made for the stairs, panic swept through me that I’d lose the one person who had tried to be patient with me while I had been here. He didn’t see me as the popular singer who had millions to his name. He just saw me as a lost boy who needed his time to find back his way. And I’d pushed him away because I was afraid of these new feelings. I was afraid I’d get my hopes up for nothing.

“Roman, stop!” I cried but he kept going. “Please, don’t go. Let me explain.”

He stopped then and turned slowly. I could tell by his expression he was still upset at my accusation. But, he had stopped and that was all that mattered.

“Look, I know you’re not well,” he said on a sigh. “Obviously, since that’s why you are here. I do not mean to take advantage of my power here and so we should carry on as before. You don’t have to reveal any secrets to me you’d rather keep to yourself. There’s always the therapist who comes twice per week.”

I knew that. I’d been to see the therapist exactly twice. Those two days had accomplished nothing but me sitting in stony silence. Only with Roman did I feel comfortable enough to speak and I knew somehow, in him I would find the gateway to my healing.

Without a word, I reached for the hem of my shirt, hesitating only once the material was halfway up my belly. Steeling my nerves, and swallowing the bile that rose up in my throat, I tugged the long sleeve shirt over my head and dropped it to the floor.

“Fuck!” he swore and I glanced away from him and fastened my gaze to the floor. I did not want him to pity me, but I wanted him to understand why I had turned him away. It wasn’t because I didn’t want him but because I was afraid of seeing the revulsion in his eyes when he saw my self-mutilated body.

“Turn around,” he said softly, and I complied, my boots shuffling against the floor. I still kept my eyes lowered to the floor. The marks on my back were not due to self-harm but had driven me to marring my body. After all, it was my body. Why should anyone else get to mar me and I couldn’t?

“Who did this to you?” he asked, his voice full of anger. He marched over to me and I kept my back turned to him, squeezing my eyes shut as memories returned. A cigarette burn here, and a cigarette burn there. The smell of flesh burning as the lighted end grounded into my skin.

“Someone who took everything from me,” I whispered. “Someone my mother let into my life then gave a blind eye.” I bit into my bottom lip to stop the tears from oozing out. “I know it’s not pretty to look at.”

Hands settled firmly on my slender hips and my eyes flew open at the merest whisper of lips in the center of my back. Another kiss pressed to a different scar, then another and another still. Roman trailed kisses over my back, soothing and replacing haunting memories with better ones. He finally kissed up my spine to the nape of my neck, slipping his arms around my waist to pull me firmly against his front.

“You’re beautiful,” he murmured, licking the shell of my ear.

A sob tore from my throat. “You don’t have to lie to me. I know how I look. Like a freak.”

“No, you look like a masterpiece of survival,” he said, running his hands up my tummy. “Your body is a mural of the pain you suffered. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. But…”

“Yes?” I prompted on a whisper.

“But you don’t have to suffer in silence anymore,” he answered, letting me go. He tugged me towards the bed of straw and sat down, pulling me to sit on his knees. I couldn’t remember the last time I sat on anyone’s knees though I could remember being put across knees and being spanked. I shuddered from the memory and wrapped my arms around his neck, burying my face in his chest. He held me firmly against him, his embrace secure.

“I don’t want to suffer in silence anymore,” I mumbled against his shirt. “I want to be free, to live. I want-I want to love and be loved.” I clutched the front of his shirt to feel grounded as the tears started to seep through. “I want to live, Roman. I want to live but it’s hard. I lost everything. For the past two years, I was stripped bare and turned into a mindless robot to use and control. They did things to me…”

The words tumbled out as I cried and sometimes I didn’t think they made sense but he listened. But more importantly, he held me and didn’t make me feel bad for allowing myself to be manipulated like I was.

“I can’t believe your mother allowed him to do that to you,” he said in anger when I was exhausted from recounting the stories. I bared all to him.

“She only cared about the money my contract provided for her,” I said on a sniff. “She didn’t care the man she signed me on to was taking something from me I did not want to give.”

“Jesus, there’s a special place in hell for both of them,” he said bitterly, then brushed my hair from my face. “I know this may be hard for you to do, but this is something you should report to the police. God knows who else he’s doing that to.”

“But she’s my mother,” I protested on a groan.

“She’s a monster!” he exclaimed and I smiled because he had used the same metaphor I used for her. “At least think about it. No pressure as I said, okay? You talk to the therapist about this and she’ll help you to get to that place where you can get justice for what was done to you.”

I nodded, then stared at him, trying not to appear too hopeful. “And as for us…”

“We’ll take things slow,” he remarked with a smile. “After all, you’re here for another eleven weeks. A lot can happen then.”

I placed my lips against his and smiled. “You’re right. I can see a lot happening.”

 

Afterword: Jericho is a short story adapted from my current novel Jericho which will be released in 2018. Let me know your feelings towards the piece and thanks for reading.

 

 



Submitted: December 31, 2017

© Copyright 2022 Sasha Fleur. All rights reserved.

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