Narrator: Faruq Kadir-Nayak (Adam)
They had been in there for almost an hour. CJ's father, Reverend Archvale had turned up whilst I went to get a drink and I've had to put up with Brent's company - just the two of us. I think I came across as a threat to him, judging by the hostile glances he gave me. We sat one seat away from each other, minding our own business.
"Leslie, I'm afraid I'll have to go - something urgent came up at the Penningway house. Is there anything else I could do for you, before I go?" Reverend Archvale looked concernedly at Leslie as they exited the room. CJ's dad seemed to be in a hurry - he was sure having a busy day and it wasn't even Sunday.
"No, it's okay. Thank you for your help," Leslie replied.
I knew she wasn't as appreciative as she sounded. She didn't want the reverend's help, or the social workers', or the doctor's - or anyone else's for that matter.
Despite how much I want to caress and embrace her, tell her that everything was going to be okay, even if it wasn't - I couldn't. Firstly, Brent was present, and staring at Leslie's skirt continuously; his fingers flexing constantly, as though he was fighting the temptation to just reach out and pull it down. And secondly, I think that would be the end of it all, it meaning me and her. She expects that I know what she really wants, and I do, and I plan on respecting her wishes.
"Let me know if you need anything - call or come to the church. And it'll probably be good for you to come on Sunday for the communion. I think you'll find it helpful. Lawrence did try his best to be at church regularly - we appreciated him being there."
"Yes, Reverend. I'll be there this Sunday. Thank you."
"God bless you, Leslie. And once again, my condolences. See you Sunday. Adam." Reverend Archvale nodded at me, walked towards the elevator and he was gone.
He knows. Or not. I can't say for sure. Being the Reverend, if he knew, surely he would do something about it... But then again, he didn't seem like to type to involve himself in other people's affairs, especially when our families are not at all close... Either way, I'm glad he hasn't confronted my father about it, if he knows of the beatings I get for the most ridiculous things. Otherwise, we may have to move - again - and I quite like it here. Even more so, now that Leslie's around.
I wondered what had occurred at the Penningway house, making it necessary for the minister to go there in the middle of the night. It was just past midnight, and I was surprised at having no calls from my father. I had told him I would be home by eleven. Even a mere ten minutes would trigger him to pick up the phone and dial frantically and angrily.
"Are you okay, babe? Do you want something to eat, drink?" Brent asked with false consternation.
"No, Brent. Thanks, but I'm fine," Leslie said coldly.
She took a seat in between us, and I fondled with her skirt, whilst Brent furiously texted someone. Yeah, I wanted to touch her, but I didn't want to go home to night and forget the way she felt after being pummeled by my father for being late.
I hadn't felt like that in a long time - wanting to remember someone and doing everything in power to not just say, "I'll be there for you," but to really be there. My heart skipped a beat for her - and it wasn't because she made me cum, but because she took the beat away with her.
Leslie's eyes were slightly swollen from crying, and she was definitely no longer laughing. I sat the way she did when I lost my mother. Uncomfortable no matter how I positioned my legs, or my arms. Complaining in my head about the seat being too hard, despite the fact that it was a cotton couch.
Nothing felt right, emotionally and physically. I think the reason for the tiredness after she died wasn't because I didn't get enough sleep. No, I believe it was from my body wanting to forget. Imagine if we never slept? Every person who lost someone wouldn't be able to move on, and everywhere you looked you would see a sulking, depressed face (not unlike, CJ's).
"Sorry for the delay. We just found out from Michelle's mother that she's at Juliet Flanagan's house, for a sleep over. Would you mind joining them, or would you rather...?" Katrina asked, interrupting my thoughts.
"I don't mind," Leslie said indifferently.
"Do you need to pick anything up from your house before heading there?"
"Good, I think it would be best you go straight to your friend's and have some sleep. You can pick your things up whenever you wish, anyway," Katrina said kindly. "So, shall we escort you? Or will one of these nice young men take you?"
"Um, I think I'll be fine on my own... With them..."
Yes! I sat up a little straighter at her response, and hoped Brent wouldn't be accompanying us.
"Well, you have my card so please call once you've reached at the mobile number. We'd like to make sure you're safe."
"Thank you, I'll be sure to do that."
"Fine then. We'll have to arrange another meeting soon, which one of us will call you about. If you've got any questions and such, just give us a ring - anytime, night or day. Okay, Les?"
I turned my scoff into a cough at Katrina's "okay, Les?". People whose drug-addict stepfather's just died, doesn't want a stranger to start calling you nicknames that no one else uses. And she's a social worker, is she?
"Will do. Thanks for your help," Leslie responded politely.
"No problem. We'll be off then. And very sorry for your loss."
"Yes, we wish you the best of luck," The man added courteously.
The two of them left, and it was only the three of us.
"Leslie, do you want me to take you to Juliet's? I've got my car with me," Brent offered.
"No, I think I want to go alone. You can go home." Leslie gave me a look, which I interpreted as her telling me to stay.
"Really? 'Cause I can definitely take you, I'm not tired at all." Brent's face had lightened up at her rejection of the offer. He was tired, dark circles had begun to form and his yawning had started to annoy the hell out of me.
"Yeah, I'm sure. You go ahead."
"Right then, I'll see you later. Call me, 'kay?"
What could the two of them possibly have to say to each other? Did they have telephone sex? With a brain the size of Brent's, I knew they didn't have intelligent conversations about the crashing economy or the latest scientific discovery.
"I love you more than anything, Leslie."
He leaned in to kiss her, his arm around her neck. Leslie's hands were glued to the seat, making no contact with Brent. He wanted more of it, and I could hear a soft moan coming from him. He was an animal and I looked away, repulsed. One thing my father taught me, was control. My father hit me, but it never left a too obvious of a mark because he was controlled. In life, without it, things would be twice as worse.
Leslie pulled away, and ran her fingers swiftly through his hair and Brent walked off. And then there were two.
"You want to go, or would you rather sit here and...?" I asked.
"Why wait? Let's get out of here."
Leslie got up and instead of making her way to the elevator, she lead me to the door to the staircase. She wanted to move. I understood that; after my mother passed away I ran in pace to a bus, as the passengers stared at me through the windows.
"Race you!" Leslie exclaimed as she speeded down the steps. I ran after her, going slower than I would so she could have something to celebrate in the end.
She was at the first floor, and I put on a smile that said, "damn you", my eyes locked on hers. Which probably wasn't the best idea.
"You idiot! Nice one, Adam," She laughed as I regained my balance from fumbling the last three steps.
"Haha, very funny Les," Purposely emphasizing the nickname.
"Yeah, what was up with that? And she calls herself a social worker..." Leslie said in agreement.
We walked to the taxi stand of the hospital. There wasn't much of a line, and we got into a cab within five minutes.
"54th and Lexington, please," Leslie ordered the cab driver and faced me, "So what're you gonna do after I leave?"
"Go home. My dad's probably gonna beat the guts out of me for being late."
"What? You mean, really?" Leslie inquired in disbelief. I must've said it much too seriously. I didn't want to trouble her with the thoughts of me being abused, so I chuckled.
"Of course not!" I answered lightheartedly.
We arrived at Juliet's house by 12:30. Leslie had fallen asleep against the window by then. The whole time, I'd been tempted to lay her down, allowing her head to rest on my legs.
"That'll be $13.70," The driver said as he pushed the brakes.
I got out my wallet and paid the man.
"Leslie, come on." I tapped her arm gently and she woke up instantly, her face pale as though she'd been having a bad dream. Then she caught my eyes, and a little color ran into her cheeks.
We got out of the car, and I saw a familiar gold Nissan pulling up behind the cab. Shit. I immediately let go of her hand and I became unaware of his presence.
My father had smelled something suspicious, and had used the GPS tracking system he had put on my phone. He didn't call, and now he was here, giving me no way out of it.
The daunting figure of a tall buff man, came out of the front door of the Nissan and I sighed lividly.
"Adam, what's wrong? Let's go inside!" Leslie's words were almost a whisper.
"Faruq. Get away from that girl," He ordered calmly, making no step towards me. He just stood there by the car, waiting for me to come to him.
"Adam? What the fuck is going on?"
"He's my father, Leslie! I'm sorry, I have to go. Take care, Leslie. You... mean a lot to me."
I didn't say that I loved her - I didn't know if I did, and I promised myself not to give her false hope. But one day, those words would ring true and I would say them without hesitation. For now, that didn't matter.
Leslie looked at me as though she was expecting a kiss, a hug or some form of physical affection after all we'd done. I was despaired that I couldn't give her what she wanted, but that particular car and that particular man were two strong warnings to not do anything.
And I didn't. I just walked to the man who called me Faruq.