Rent
by Taran Geary

 

Chapter Five: Serendipity

“God!” Sam declared, “He stinks a bit!”

“We found him by the dustbins behind the dry cleaners.” Shaun explained.

“What were you doing behind the dry cleaners?”

“Having a piss,” Said Mick

“I’ve got to get to the clinic tomorrow; I’m burning like fuck when I go” Shaun interjected.

“Ok; Mick, do you want to start the food while Shaun gets him cleaned up and a bit more comfortable?”

“Sounds a plan,” Mick agreed and he strolled off to the kitchen and almost immediately very loud and to Sam’s ears, awful music was heard from that direction. It was made even worse when Mick could be heard “singing” along. But the bangs and clatters of pots and pans were reassuring.

“So, young man, what to do with you.” Sam spoke to a bewildered looking Pavel who was clinging tightly to Shaun. “So you’ve escaped from Roger, have you? You’ll be sore, then. Best stick him in a warm bath; I’ll try and find something for him to wear. Do you know where he’s from?”

“Roger said Albania,” Shaun said.

“Ok, I’ll ring my friend Jermik,” Sam continued.

“Who’s he? Is he gay as well?” Shaun asked accusingly

“No, he’s got eight kids; five boys and three girls and I’m godfather to two of them. I’ll ask him to bring some clothes for Pavel. Also Jermik is Albanian, so perhaps he can find out a bit about our young friend here.”

Sam left the room and returned quickly with a can of Coke and some crisps that he offered to Pavel. The younger boy took them cautiously but ripped open the Coke and drunk it in the fashion of someone who is very thirsty. The crisps received similar treatment.

Shaun knelt down in front of the smaller boy and started to undo the buttons on the huge plastic Mac. Pavel gave no resistance, in fact he held out his arms to make removal of the garment easier. It peeled off the damp clothes underneath with sound like opening Velcro and the smell got worse, Pavel was acutely aware of this and looked embarrassed and tearful.

Shaun then went into an elaborate and comical mime that explained that Pavel was going to get a good wash and clean clothes. So funny was Shaun’s performance that even in his desperate state, Pavel was able to giggle.

There came an almighty crash from the kitchen followed an exclamation:

“FUCK, FUCK, FUCK! BOLLOCKS, BOLLOCKS, BOLLOCKS!”

Sam ran to the kitchen “You alright in there, Mick?”

“Yeh, ok, no damage done.”

“Ok, if you’re sure.”

Yeh, I just dropped a tray with a load of knives and forks and things on it.”

Alright, but your sure everything’s ok?”

“Yeh, I’m sound.”

Sam shook his head and began to wonder if having these lads here was such a good idea after all.

Meanwhile, Shaun was in the bathroom and he turned on the taps and the room rapidly filled with steam. He did another mime that indicated that Pavel was to get in the bath. Pavel turned his back as he undressed and covered his modesty with his hand when he was ready for the bath. Shaun found some bubble bath and tipped it liberally in to the water. Pavel climbed in and let out a gasp as the warm water covered his body. He lay back and gave Shaun a big smile, he said something to Shaun and dipped his head under the water he came up again spitting water from his mouth like a fountain. He reached underneath himself and pulled the packing from his bottom, it was bloodstained and filthy, but Shaun took it from him and flushed it down the toilet.

Shaun then knelt down beside the bath and started to wash Pavel’s back with a sponge; the younger boy didn’t seem to mind, in fact he giggled as Shaun tickled him under his arms. Pavel started to get playful and started splashing Shaun with the water.

“Oooh, you little bastard!” Shaun exclaimed after a particularly big splash and a full blown water fight started.

Out in the lounge Sam smiled at the shrieks and giggles coming from the bathroom and he was impressed at how good Shaun was with the younger boy and despite the feeling of dread about the state of his bathroom after they’d finished, he came to the conclusion that despite everything he enjoyed having the lads here after all.

Meanwhile the smells from the kitchen were beginning to make Sam’s mouth water and any doubts he had about Mick’s abilities were beginning to subside. But he would wait until he actually tasted it before making his mind up. He looked up with a smile as Shaun emerged from the bathroom wet but happy, “He’s a little sod,” he grinned before disappearing out to the kitchen to see what Mick was up to. Sam phoned his friend Jermik and explained the situation.

Pavel eventually got out of the bath and he looked very pink and wrinkled but happy; he was wearing some old clothes of Sam’s that were ridiculously big but they covered him up and the trilby hat was again wedged onto his head. He looked a bit nervous when he saw that Shaun and Mick weren’t there but he smiled widely when Shaun appeared carrying a tray laden with cutlery.

The table was long and rectangular and Shaun-with Pavel’s “help”-laid it out ready for dinner. He placed himself and Mick on one long side, with Sam sitting opposite and Pavel was placed at the “head” with his back to the French doors. Mick served up the food and Sam opened a bottle of wine. Many toasts were proposed and the glasses clinked several times and everyone agreed that Mick’s meal was delicious.

“Right lads,” Sam sounded serious. “We’ve got some decisions to make: First off, I want you to know that you’re welcome to stay here as long as you want to – but there are conditions.”

“Tell us first exactly why we’re here and why you’re doing this for us,” Shaun said. “It seems all wrong, it just don’t make any sense.”

“Ok,” Sam gave a deep sigh. “Here we go; I’ve been very lucky. I was left this place and the whole business by someone I loved more than I’ve ever loved anyone in my life. He helped me out and took me in and I wanted to do the same for someone else. I’d seen Shaun about and he seemed a nice, sensible lad and I seriously thought of getting to know him and making him the offer – But I never had the nerve to ask.

“So you don’t really want me at all, then,” Mick sounded disappointed, almost hurt.

“You weren’t part of the original plan, I’ll admit but the two of you turning up when you did was pure serendipity – A wonderful thing purely by accident. I would be very disappointed if you decided to go, I want you both to stay very much. And that is the truth.”

Mick and Shaun looked at each other and whispered together.

“Ok, “Mick said. “We’ll give it a try and see how we all get on.”

“That’s great; but you can’t stay here for free”, Sam continued. “You’ll have to get jobs or college or something and contribute to your keep. I’m happy to employ you in the shop until you find something better. Is that ok?”

The boys nodded ascent. It didn’t escape their notice that Sam had avoided using the word “rent”.

“Second, you do your own washing and ironing, I have enough trouble doing my own with out having to worry about anyone else’s, ok?”

Again the boys nodded.

“So,” Sam continued. “Apart from the obvious things like no lying or stealing, that’s about it. It’s Saturday today and you can have this week to adjust to things but I want you to start work next Monday.”

“Ok,” said Shaun. “But what about Pavel?”

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it; but I seriously doubt that he will be here very long.”

“Why do you seriously doubt?” Shaun cut in.

“We’ll have to see what Social Services say.”

Pavel, knowing that he was being talked about got up from his chair and moved around the table and stood between Mick and Shaun’s chairs. Shaun put his arm around his waist.

“What will happen to him?” Mick asked

“They may want to put him into care until they can send him home. But I’ll fight to have him stop here if that is what you-and he-wants.”

“Of course it’s what we want,” Mick said. “Thanks Sam.”

“No Problems; Now to the tricky bit.”

The boys looked worried. “Go on,” Shaun said.

“I’ll need to know your names and birthdays.”

Again the boys looked at each other and whispered; they both finished with a shrug of the shoulders.

“Ok,” said Mick “Here goes,” he cleared his throat noisily. “Claude Michael Haddock.” He gave his birthday.

“I see,” said Sam. “That explains the ‘Fishy’”.

“Correct,” Mick affirmed.

“Hello Claude.” Shaun teased.

“Say that again and I’ll cut your dick off.” Mick replied with mock menace. “Anyway let’s hear your name, then.”

“William Evans.” He too, gave his birthday.

“Not Shaun at all then?” Sam was surprised.

“No, but I’d like you all to keep calling me Shaun.”

“I’ll do that for you, Billy.” Mick grinned.

“Listen, Claude, we’ll both end up without a dick if you don’t watch It.”

“Oooh, fighting talk,” Mick continued to tease.

“Alright, alright; that’s enough,” Sam chided. Then the doorbell rang.

Jermik came into the room carrying a large bag and introductions were made.

“So this is our young friend, is it?” he spoke perfect English without any trace of an accent.

Fear crossed Pavel’s face as he believed that once again he was being sold on.

Jermik sat down next to him and spoke in Albanian. Fear turned to confusion and finally his face lit up like the sun coming out on a rainy day. He started talking at a fearsome rate until Jermik raised his hand to stop him.

“Sam do you have a notepad? His name is Pavel, by the way.” Jermik announced proudly.

“Well, however would we have managed without you?” Shaun said very sarcastically.

Jermik turned to Shaun and put on a very strong accent, “How you say in your country? Fuck off!” They both laughed.

Jermik spoke with Pavel for nearly an hour and by the end Pavel was falling asleep the events of the day had totally exhausted him.

There was a third bedroom in Sam’s flat – not as big as the others, but acceptable – but it was used mainly as a storeroom. Mick, Shaun and Pavel were dispatched to tidy it up and get it usable while Sam and Jermik discussed things over a drink.

“He comes from a place called Kukes which is high in the mountains to the north of the country. He says he thinks he was drugged by his cousin and taken from his bed. He woke up in the back of a lorry where he spent at least a week having to piss through a hole in the floor and shit in a bucket. He was with 5 other people he doesn’t know what happened to them. They were fed burgers and water when the truck stopped but most of the food was drugged because he slept most of the time. He woke up in a room somewhere stripped naked. He was made to stand with his arms by his side while men came and inspected him. A man he thinks called Roger finally came and bought him. He had just left that place with Roger when he saw your two young friends for the first time. He wouldn’t tell me what happened at Roger’s house but I can guess. By the way, he thinks Mick and Shaun are wonderful and that you’re a very nice man.” The last sentence was spoken with a smile. He also gave Sam Pavel’s full name and birthday.

“Poor little bastard,” Sam was close to tears. “We’ve got to nail that bastard Roger” Sam felt tears of rage replacing his previous tears of horror.
“Don’t think we haven’t tried. He’s got friends in very high places,” Jermik continued. “He calls himself a ‘Procurer of boys for the rich and famous.’”

Shaun and Mick reappeared. “He’s asleep.” Shaun said. “Spark out. What’s up Sam?”

“I’ve just heard Pavel’s story; it’s horrible.”

The room went quiet and Jermik took his leave. Mick took the bag and put it in Pavel’s room.

Sam walked out of the room and returned with some cans of beer; he handed them out to Shaun and Mick.

“Sit down, lads,” he said. “I’m going to tell you a story.”

 

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