Friday, August 16, 2013

Excerpt: Six Degrees of Separation

Chapter Six

September 4, 2009

He sat huddled in a corner of the basement, forehead resting on his knees, one arm wrapped around his bent legs, absently playing with the heavy pendant hanging from his neck.

The leather and stainless steel cross necklace was a birthday present from the hottest man he’d ever met. It wasn’t too expensive, but it was his most precious possession, as it represented a time when he’d been successful in his chosen profession, and enjoying the always exhilarating early stages of a new relationship. He’d been happy back then. Ready to settle down in a city he’d learned to love, and almost sure the guy in his life was The One.

Then everything had gone to hell in a hand basket.

He brought the cross up to his lips and kissed it softly, remembering the day he’d met his ray of sunshine, wondering if he’d been forgotten, and giving thanks for the memories they got to create prior to his abduction.

He didn’t know where he was, or how long he’d been here. He didn’t know if his family and friends were looking for him, or if they thought he was dead, like sometimes he wished he was. But those memories had kept him alive this long, and would be his final thoughts when he couldn’t go on.


Not when.

Those lovely memories would be his final thoughts if he couldn’t go on.

At times it was easier to pretend he didn’t care whether he got rescued or not. He felt tired and physically ill, and didn’t hold out much hope for a brighter future. But he still prayed the police had gotten involved in his case and were doing everything in their power to find him. He needed a miracle. He wanted a second shot at life. 

He leaned his head against the wall, and listened to the scurrying of rodent feet and the water dripping from the sink faucet as he let his gaze wander around the space.

There was a tiny bathroom that needed cleaning, a pantry stocked with dry goods, and a small flat pillow and a dirty blanket on top of the cot where he slept. An easel, treated and untreated canvases and tubes of paint and brushes were carefully stored near the far wall. The exit to the staircase had been blocked with a steel door, and three out of four windows remained covered with wood panels most of the time. A few tube lanterns didn’t do much to illuminate the place.

He took a deep breath, and once again tried to remember everything he knew about his surroundings.

It was damp, dark, and getting colder every day. Not many noises outside. There was the occasional car driving by, but no kids playing around. That was it. All useless details that didn’t clue him in on the location of his prison, or how long he’d been in it. Then again, it didn’t matter. He didn’t have a way to get information to anyone. He knew that for a fact, as he’d yelled for help to no avail until his throat was raw.

“What if they are too late?” he wondered. “What if they don’t get here before he decides he has no more use for me? What if they can’t find me before I lose my soul? Do I really want to stay alive and do what I’ve been doing all this time, or should I put a stop to this madness?”

A noise outside the basement door snapped him out of his thoughts.

“Is anybody there?” He was weak and lethargic from lack of food, and the shackles around his ankles made it difficult to move, but after a few attempts he managed to get off the floor. “Hello?” He coughed and wheezed, but didn’t let his shortness of breath keep him from reaching the door. “Can you hear me?”

He rattled the door handle, and then pounded on the smooth surface until his temples throbbed and his shoulders started to shake from the effort. “Hello?” he called out again, this time in a lower voice. “Is anyone out there?”

He didn’t know how long he waited for a response he should have known would never come.

“Why are you doing this you sadistic mother fucker?” He’d been asking the same question for only God knew how long. “And I don’t want to hear another fucking word about lambs and wolves and whatever fucking punishment you think we queers have earned. I just wanna know who the hell you think you are, punishing us for being gay.”

He rattled the door handle one more time with the same result. “Please… somebody help me… Please…” He pressed his ear to the cold door, but the silence on the other side was deafening.

Had he been wrong thinking someone had walked past the door? Was he imagining things? Was the chronic exposure to turpentine affecting his mind as much as it had affected his respiratory tract?

Silent sobs racked through his body. “Is that you outside, you fucking asshole?” he asked when he could get his voice to work again.


Not a fucking word.

He bowed his head until his chin touched his chest, and moved his stringy hair away from his face. He looked at the ragged clothing clinging to his decimated body, and sniffed himself.

Sorrow. Guilt. Regret.


Those were the scents adhered to his skin.

He’d been an idiot to think there was a way out of this situation. That somehow he’d be able to reclaim his future, and build a life with the man he’d fallen in love with.

He gulped loudly, and straightened his back.

“I’m done with your sick games,” he announced calmly to the empty room. “You're either going to have to kill me or set me free, because I can’t do this anymore.” He took a few steps back and made a fist with his right hand. Then he swung forward with all the force and momentum he was able to gain, smashing his own hand against the door time and again. “Fuck!” He yelped, holding his now damaged hand against his stomach, silent tears falling down his cheeks. “Did you hear what I said, you son of a bitch?” he asked in a trembling, pain-stricken voice. “I can’t do this anymore.”

Coming August 30th, 2013

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