Chapter 11: Favours

Lewis opened his front door. "'bout time you came."

Tyson smiled apologetically. "Sorry, but I got carried away last night so all the chores I needed to do I had ta do this mornin'."

The resident frowned. "Come in. What were ya doin' last night?"

"Lookin' up Jack's history. Don't gimme none o' them looks, just listen. I mostly talked ta people and looked up newspapers for any blanks. He realised 'e was bisexual back in High School an' didn't wanna have ta hide it. So 'e makes an LGB club for teenagers. He was the leader." The pair had gotten to the house study now. "This group did community service an' Bible readin' an' other stuff to let the townspeople be more acceptin' o' gay people."

"So that's why they're liberal here?"

"Not everybody but that's always the case. Yeah, that's the reason. Now after 'e graduated Jack went to the army. He did plan ta stay longer than 2 years but-"

"He was sent ta the battlefield in Kosovo an' witnessed the horrors of war," finished Lewis.

"That's it. He came 'ome as soon as possible...with Ivan. His mom died when 'e was 11. When 'is dad found out 'e was bi, well, at first he reacted all like 'I can't believe you're gay', but 'e calmed down when Jack told 'im he still likes girls. His dad hoped 'e would marry a girl but 'e had ta get used ta Ivan instead. Jack was gettin' counselin' an' workin' at a warehouse. Ivan got a job at the toy store where 'e works now. They both were livin' with Jack's dad an' everythin' was fine."


"Dad got prostate cancer. The house Jack an' Ivan live in now is the one Jack's dad owned an' Jack grew up in. He died after a year and a half or so and Jack broke down completely. Started actin' paranoid an' shoutin at random people and 'e would attack anybody. He stayed inside 'is 'ouse outta shame. Only his closest friends visited. Now get this: Jack did not get seen outside o' his house or garden until the times 'e was always bein' rushed somewhere ta see a doctor."

"For what?"

Tyson shrugged. "Dunno. He was always seen in a car seat in pain. The next time people saw 'im, he came to church carryin' 'is adopted baby. And 'e was friendly...or friendlier than 'e was."

Lewis looked confused. "So whaddya think? He's in on it?"

"Either that or 'e's one o' the guys behind the entire thing." The soccer coach saw a notepad with scribbles on it, somewhat resembling a timetable. "What's that?"

The photographer sighed. "Those are project plans. That agent I told you about? Who sends me all the job offers? He called the other day wonderin' why I was doin' less work. He says I have ta prove my value by takin' up more jobs an' talked me into goin' ta New Orleans."

"New Orleans? Sounds unfair ta me."

"Nah, it's fair. It's 'is way o' makin' sure 'e hires active workers an' not slackers out for easy money."

"How long?"

"'bout 5 days. Leslie said 'e'd drive me all the way there an' back. We'll be up early next Monday an' I'll be back Friday night."

"That's nice o' him. But whaddabout that problem ya have?"

"I'll be takin' Mojo with me. I hate ta put 'im through long journeys but..." Lewis shrugged.

"Kai said yes. Has Leslie given an answer yet?"

"He said 'e'd think about it. He also wan'ed me ta think about stayin' an' what 'e could do ta make me happy. We came up with a list of chores we each needed ta do but it don't solve the problem o' this town."

"I hear ya." Tyson suddenly looked sheepish. "I hate ta dump this on ya but...Kai wan'ed ta take me away this weekend an' I don't trust anyone else with the lizards..."

Lewis smiled. "I'll be happy to."


Leslie went into the living room that evening to find Lewis carefully instructing Mojo to stay away from the visiting cage of lizards. The blonde gave the lizards a funny look.

"What?" asked Lewis irritably. "You knew they were comin'."

"Do they have ta be in this room?"

"Well they ain't goin' in the kitchen or a bedroom. Seriously, they don't make no noise. An' I put 'em in here 'cos Tyson keeps 'em in the living room so I thought they'd be more relaxed 'ere."

Leslie still wasn't relieved. "I don't 'ave ta do anythin' right?"

"Course you don't. I'm takin' care of 'em an' I don't even do much." Mojo started trotting around irritably. "Okay Mojo, front door." The dog darted to the ordered place.

"You goin' somewhere?"

"Mojo needs 'is walk."

"Well take a coat, s'gettin' chilly out there."

Lewis picked out his coat but gave his lover a patronised look. "Yes Dad," he teased. He put it on.

"An' be careful."

"What the hell happens in this lil' town?" the brunette reminded.

Leslie looked somewhat bashful. "I worry 'cos I care."

Lewis smiled sincerely. "I know." He opened the front door. Mojo skipped out happily. "We'll be back in an hour maybe."

So Lewis and his dog walked through the dark neighbourhood easily. The photographer mused at the fact that Stepmanford somehow seemed friendly even at night. No city could ever seem to do that, no matter how cheery it was during the day. At some point, he realised he was walking in the direction of the Semes Club Mansion; he saw the familiar gates up ahead, but he paid it no mind. As far as he knew, there was nothing special happening except the usual bar open on weeknights. Mojo rushed ahead.

"Mojo!" He chased after him. "Mojo come back!" He panicked when the dog ran through the open mansion gates. "No Mojo! Stop!" He quickly ran in himself and grabbed Mojo's collar.

Lights glared at him. Lewis was bewildered. The glaring lights came from a car. He heard the sound of someone coming out of the car and walking towards him. It was a policewoman. As his eyes focussed, he saw her brown eyes, blonde hair held up with a clip and her police badge stating 'Hawkeye'. He had seen her around during various days, just talking to people and hearing various concerns.

"Sir?" she enquired politely yet mechanically. "I would like ta ask you ta leave, this is private property."

There was something about this that confused Lewis. The lights that were turned on in the mansion were placed in a curious array and he could see very few cars in the car park.

"Sorry," he sighed. "My dog jus' ran in. I've got 'im, so I'll leave now."

"If 'e's 'ard ta control, I'd recommend you use a leash next time ya walk 'im."

"That's alright, he's not 'ard ta control...usually. Night officer."

"Night sir."

She seemed to watch him walk away before switching off the car lights.


Leslie was playing with Mojo in the garden. The sun was setting, making the sky glow orange. Lewis walked tiredly into the kitchen and got himself a glass of water.

"Hey Lou! Come outside an' play a lil'!" shouted the blonde from the garden.

Lewis approached the open door to the outside. "I would but packin' equipment tired me out!"

"Lazybones!" teased Leslie.

The doorbell rang. "I'll get it," Lewis sighed. "It'll be Tyson!"

He left his water in the kitchen and patiently made his way to the front door. He was surprised to open it and find Kai's neutral face staring back at him.

"Kai. Where's Tyson?"

"At home, in bed. He got food poisoning during the weekend." The tall man shrugged. "Nothing serious but it's not pleasant. I don't see him working tomorrow. Anyway, I came for the lizards."

Lewis nodded but with concern. He let Kai in and led him to the lounge. "Hope it didn't spoil the weekend."

"Not really. He was having fun until that point." When Kai spotted the lizards in their cage, he smirked. "They're content. They seem to like it here." He moved to pick the cage up. "Heard you're going to New Orleans tomorrow. Ever been there?"


"2 pieces of advice: don't go out on your own at night and only eat at the classiest looking places, not necessarily the most expensive."

Lewis was a bit puzzled by this advice. "Okay."

Kai made his own way out. "Thanks again, take care."

"You too."


It was night time on the highway. Leslie's car was parked on the side of the road with the lights on. Leslie and Lewis stood by idly, taking the ball from Mojo's mouth when he ran to them and tossed it again to let him chase after it.

"I think s'been 7 minutes. We have about another hour, we should get goin'," suggested Leslie.

Lewis stretched idly. "Come on Mojo, back in the car."

He opened the back passenger door, through which the dog reluctantly climbed. Once everyone was seated, the car started again and drove away.

"Mind if I visit Tyson quickly when we get 'ome?" asked the brunette.

Leslie frowned. "s'already gone 9. Be a bit late won't it? An' whaddabout the pictures?"

"They were all digital or digitised, I sen' 'em off already. I don't have much to unpack, I won't mind."

"Gee, you seem more desperate ta see Tyson than me."

"Well we talked on the phone everyday. Whenever I call 'im 'e won't pick up."

"Did 'e get 'is cell changed?"

"That's what I thought. He can be a bit forgetful. He replied to an email but it was short. He weren't chatty."

... "What did it say?"

Lewis sighed. "He just asked 'ow I was doin' an' how New Orleans was. Said 'e felt better but 'ad ta clean his bed an' 'is bedroom stinks."

"Don't sound like 'is complaints changed much."

The photographer chuckled. "Nope."


It was dark and rather quiet. But it wasn't so late that all the house lights in the neighbourhood were switched off. The street lamps were still on too but uh...this town didn't seem to have many of those. Lewis strolled along easily to Tyson's house. He rang the doorbell. He was so shocked by the sight of the person answering the door that he turned slackjawed.

"Lewis, good evenin'." There stood a smiling Tyson, wearing a similar smile to the one Alan always had. His hair had been brushed finely and his black waves framed his round face. He wore a sleeveless hoody that was bright green and his jeans were perfectly white. And from what Lewis could see over his friend's shoulder, the house interior had become spick and span.

"What...happened?" he shakily asked. His reaction was as if he'd seen a ghost...or a murder.

Tyson looked delicately confused. "Whaddya mean? What you talkin' about, Lewis?"

Lewis ran away, sprinting for his life.

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©Ruth Amy Louise Hüneke 2008