The Only Way to Fly
While the band were away that weekend, Billy and I cleaned the house from top to bottom, opening windows and freshening the place up ready for the spring and summer seasons, when we weren't in bed of course. With the house to ourselves we were free in our affections, cooking together, relaxing together, taking Jake for walks together. During that weekend I also discovered Billy was a total bottom guy. Not that he made out he was a whore, far from it; he just wasn't interested in any other guy but me. He was just happy to let me do whatever I wanted to him but not inclined to do anything to me further than caressing and kissing and sometimes nibbling at my nipples, and eventually learning to take the tip of my penis in his mouth. Would he ever go further? "Maybe someday," he signed. He loved me to be masterful and use my strength during our lovemaking, manipulating him any way I wished short of bondage and sadism. He was such a beautiful boy; I could never have used the latter on him, although I did like to be in control in an affectionate way, and he loved being helpless in my arms. We used the whole house to make love in, on the settees in the lounge, on the floor of the barn, even the kitchen table got used when our passion took control and we couldn't get upstairs in time. Billy also introduced me to the delights of showering together, especially in the postage-stamp sized ensuite shower in Billy's bedroom. Caressing him with lots of soap added a new dimension to my learning curve, although it did make me recall a question I had been meaning to ask since the incident involving Ken. "If you have your own shower in here, why is it Ken caught you in the bathroom on the landing?"
Billy grinned, and signed, "Simple, I like to take a bath sometimes and rinse off under the shower." Duhh! Pea brained me! That night we took a bath together and it was fun, even when Jake decided to jump in with us and swamped the bathroom floor. One thing that mutt really liked was to be given a bath, whether it was a full size tub or a muddy pond, he had this infatuation with the wet stuff. We had until late on Monday evening to throw away our inhibitions and just enjoy our sex life to the full, and boy did Billy love it? His need to make physical contact with me seemed insatiable All this did Billy the world of good, of course. He was happy, and so was I.
On the Monday he went back to Crimpton's for a mid treatment check up. A further scan showed the remains of the tumours to be greatly reduced and responding to the chemotherapy. Brent was pleased with Billy's progress and hoped he would continue to improve, but warned him against overtiring himself, fatigue being a major reaction to Chemotherapy treatment. He also expressed an opinion that Billy had a ninety five percent chance of full recovery with no occurrence of the tumour returning. We celebrated the news that night when the band came home with a new drummer, twenty year old Pete Crayel.
We had until the 16th of April before the band left for their tour, and in that time, Billy proved to be an excellent and unselfish teacher. We had the second drum kit set up in the barn again, and he and Pete spent a lot of time together, drumming away until Pete could mimic Billy's strokes. He even let Pete use a video Bill had bought him, giving an in-depth study of lessons by a guy called Tiger Bill Meligari who taught tension free drumming. And all this during his treatment and still suffering from headaches, which Brent explained, were normal and would fade with time.
Daley found another sax player, not as good as me although I say it myself, but good enough to keep the band going until I was able to join them. When would that be? How long is a piece of string? To be honest, I didn't really want to go on tour. I had Billy now, and he was my life. I admired him for his determination to get over being blind, especially when Brent's optometrist mentioned that, as the optic nerves recovered from the bruising of the operation and the swelling of the Frontal Lobe itself lessened, there was a slight possibility that Billy would regain his sight, at least partially, but we were not to put too much hope in it. His social worker arranged for him to be screened by Guide Dogs for the Blind. If accepted as a recipient for a dog, Billy would go to a centre for training with the chosen dog, and Jake could be returned to his real owner.
On the 16th, the band left for their tour. It was a pretty moist eyed affair, and I stood on the steps with my arms round Billy; after hugging everyone, we waved them down the lane until the bus and my Peugeot were out of sight. Daley and I had swapped cars, as mine was a lot more comfortable for the long journey south. Jake didn't like the idea of Daley going off without him and chased the bus right to the end of the lane, and I had to go after him and drag him back, the only carrot he would accept being the promise of a bath and a thorough grooming.
We spent the next few days, when we weren't in school, getting Billy used to doing more things for himself, like going shopping in Bingford without me; a familiar place for him to practice in, where there were people he knew if he needed help. This came in handy when I was asked to take on some extra pupils at the school and needed to stay on to cope with them. As long as he had Jake with him, he could make it round the town as well, with Jake guiding him to the school after his session at the hospital. I got used to him arriving at a certain time, with Jake trotting by his side. One day he didn't arrive.
I waited another hour before I went to see Stevens and told him I needed to go and look for Billy. I drove down the street, keeping an eye out for him. I reached the café where he usually stopped for coffee, and parked the car in front of it. I went into the café and saw Mrs. Sheen carrying two plates of food from the kitchen. She spotted me, screamed, and the plates crashed to the floor.
Mr Sheen ran out of the kitchen to see what was wrong and stared wide eyed at me. "Mr Alton, how did you get here? We were told you'd had an accident and been taken home."
"What?" I stared at him then at his wife and they stared back, confused, their customers forgotten. "Where on earth did you hear that?"
"The men who came for Billy." Mrs Sheen said in a small voice, her hands gripping her apron.
"They told him they were police officers and they were taking Billy home." Mr Sheen said. "They took the dog with them."
I felt a cold hand crawl up my spine. "How many were there? What did they look like?"
"Three, two came in and there was another in the car. The two that came in were tall, well built. I don't know about the one in the car, I couldn't see much of him."
"What kind of car?"
"An old blue Ford Sierra. I know the model because we used to have one like it."
I had my mobile out as I ran from the café and dialled 999 before driving home as fast as Daley's Peugeot 206 would go, wishing I was in the 405. When I got there I didn't even bother to lock the car. I dived up the steps to find the door unlocked. I searched the ground floor as quietly as I could and found Jake on the kitchen floor beside a piece of raw meat. We never fed Jake raw meat. I dived out of the kitchen and through the passage to the barn. The door was ajar and as I went through it, I saw a naked body draped round the circumference of the base drum, surrounded by the mess of broken equipment. The last thing I remember seeing before something hit me on the side of the head were red drumsticks.
I woke to the most horrendous headache I had ever had. Zigzag lightening flashed in front of my eyes and I closed them quickly. My blood thundered in my ears, and I felt like throwing up. A migraine, I thought, and tried to turn over but my body wouldn't work. I lay still, trying to remember why. I heard soft voices and tried to open my eyes. The zigzags were still there but a face danced behind them. "Daley?"
"Hey, buddy." His voice battered my ears, and I tried to tell him not to shout, that I wasn't deaf.
"He's coming to," another voice shouted. "He's trying to talk but I can't tell what he's saying."
What do they mean they can't tell what I'm saying? I'm not talking a fucking foreign language. "Damn you! Don't shout."
"Now I know he's coming to." I heard Daley laugh, and I felt him take hold of my hand. Boy, it hurt! I snatched my hand away, pain shot through my shoulder and I died. Well, I thought I had; the pain was so bad. I roused, hours later with Daley still sitting by my side, drinking a cup of coffee. This time, my eyes worked okay, and the thundering in my ears was bearable. I was aware of my body hurting all over but I couldn't remember how I'd hurt myself.
"What happened?" I asked; my voice sounded like a croaking frog.
"You got worked over. Don't you remember?"
I shook my head and the headache came back with a vengeance. I waited for it to subside and opened my eyes again. This time there was a blue uniform sitting on the other side of the bed, notebook at the ready. Trouble; it had to be.
"Okay, tell me."
"Do you remember going home in search of your friend, Billy D'Marco, Mr Alton?"
Billy! My eyes shot open wide and I stared at Daley. He had a strained look on his face and there were dark circles under his eyes, like he hadn't slept for ages.
"Where's Billy? What's happened?" I reared up off the pillows and felt as if my body had been torn apart. I yelled and fell back. It took me a while to get my breath back and stop my head from spinning. I waited for the pain to subside and tried again. "What's happened?"
"Billy was attacked at his home, Mr. Alton," the police officer said gently. He was only a slip of a kid and he wasn't enjoying his job at this point in time. "Apparently he was last seen in the Rose Café in Bingford by the proprietors who saw him and his dog leave with three men in a blue Ford Sierra. I believe you called us from there on your mobile, believing he had been kidnapped. You got to the house ahead of us and you were attacked. We found you in the barn, and the dog dead in the kitchen. He'd been poisoned." The officer stopped talking and he looked down at his notes, looking quite sick. He swallowed hard and tried had to appear in command of his feelings, but failed miserably. I looked at Daley and found him sitting hunched over with tears in his eyes.
"Is someone going to tell me what happened or do I have to get up off this bed and find out for myself." The force of my own voice startled me never mind Daley who shot up straight in his chair. "Well?"
"They tied him over the bass drum and..."
I closed my eyes and immediately recalled the scene before I was clouted. Billy! Oh God, Billy! No!
They put me in a wheel chair and took me to see him. It was as if he had just come out of his brain operation; a small boy with a ski cap, only this time his face was bruised and stitched. He was lying on his side and seemed to be sleeping peacefully, like those pictures you see of babies in their incubators. I stayed there for hours, just watching him, refusing to go back to my own ward and getting bitchy with anyone who tried to persuade me otherwise, including Daley. In the end they brought a bed in and placed it beside Billy's, so they could carry on treating my own injuries. Daley told me we'd both suffered extensive bruising. I had a wrenched left shoulder, a badly bruised spleen and kidneys, and should never have got out of bed in the first place, and I had cuts to my head and face; all stitched. Billy had head injuries, hence his ski cap dressing, a load of bruises on his back and torso and grazes round his wrists and ankles where he'd been tied to the drum and he'd struggled to get free. But that was the least of his injuries, and I felt sick when Daley told me what someone had done to him with the drumsticks. It had taken a session in the operating theatre to remove them and repair the damage.
When Billy stirred at last, I insisted on a nurse helping me into my wheel chair. It bumped the bed as the orderly manoeuvred it as close as possible to the head of the bed. Billy roused and opened sightless eyes, and reached out a wavering hand to feel who was there. I caught his hand and squeezed it, and felt an answering squeeze. I was so choked up I could hardly speak. "Billy, why did you go with those men?"
"Because I love you,"
I stared at him. Wait a minute! My mouth dropped open. "You spoke!" I couldn't believe my ears. "Billy, you spoke to me!"
His eyes were closing but his lips moved. "What?" I felt his hand relax in mine and I felt so disappointed that he should fall sleep just when a miracle had happened. Just then, Daley walked in with a bunch of flowers. I grabbed him, and tears flowed from my eyes. "Daley, he can talk."
"What?" Daley stared at Billy and almost dropped the flowers.
"He spoke to me."
"No, I'm not."
"Well what did he say?"
"That he loves me." I started to cry buckets as Daley's arms came round me. As he hugged me I heard him whisper, "Halleluiah!"
The next thing I heard from Billy was a loud groan. I was back in bed and the nurses had come in to turn him over. The doctor had come in earlier on Daley's insistence, and had explained to us that a traumatic incident, similar to that which had robbed him of his speech, sometimes triggered a reversal. When they had gone, and Daley had left to phone the boys with the good news, I sat up and looked at him. He was lying facing me, and his face was contorted in a grimace of pain. "Hey, little man, how do you feel?"
"Fucking sore." What a wonderful mid-to-high tenor voice he had.
I laughed and got out of bed, almost falling in my attempt to get into my chair, I was so excited. Wheeling myself over to his bed, I took hold of his hand, and I was rewarded by an answering squeeze. "You can swear all you like, Babe; it's so great to hear you talking at all." I leaned over and place a light kiss on his cheek, and saw a tear trickle from his left eye. "Can you tell me who it was did this?"
Billy nodded. "It was Ken."
Shocked, I sat back and struggled to take it in. Then Daley walked in and I said, "You remember Ken's threat?"
Daley looked like the world had dropped on his shoulders as he grasped what I was getting at. "The drumsticks!"
"Yeah; Billy just told me. We'd better get PC Plod in here."
"Oh no," Daley shook his head. "Not until I've done some phoning first. We itinerants look after our own, and Indian and Rob are straining at the leash to do someone a real injury. Let me phone my dad and have an APB set up first."
"But that's heading for trouble. Let the fuzz handle it."
Daley shook his head and turned to walk out. "Not until we've given Ken and his friends our own brand of punishment. In any case we can find him faster than the boys in blue can. We'll just let our two rottweilers have a quiet word with him first, then we'll hand him over to the law for due punishment."
"Trust me, Mags. I know what I'm doing, okay? Now remember, no talking about it to anyone until I get back." He pointed to Billy. "Keep that one's mouth zipped as well."
That was easy enough to do as Billy slept on for quite some time and only stirred again when Daley walked back in, followed by the young police officer. Daley signed to me that his dad had got the grapevine working and people all over the country were looking for Ken. The boys were keeping the tour going and would await further instruction via Daley's dad. I just sat and listened to the police officer interview Billy about the attack, and marvelled at my lover's new velvety voice, but not the details of the attack.
Billy had gone willingly with the two guys because they said they were cops, and that they had come from an accident in which I was supposed to have been involved. He didn't give the officer the same answer he had given me when asked why he had gone with those men. He just said he wanted to get to me as quickly as possible and they offered to bring him to me. Now I understood his answer to me, and I believed him because he had said it aloud, to my face; the first wonderful words he had ever spoken to me. I would never forget them, and at that moment I wanted to lift him from the bed and hug him tight and tell him how much I loved him too, but I didn't think the officer would have understood; and I wanted to spare him any embarrassment. He had a hard enough job as it was, writing down every detail of the attack.
Ken and his thugs had brought Billy to the house and had offered to feed Jake then grabbed him and forced him to walk into the barn with them. He had put up a fight but Ken's friends were oversized wrestlers and he stood no chance, especially when they beat him up. They had stripped him and tied him to the drum, and Ken had taunted him with the drumsticks. Then all three had made him suck them off before they raped him and Ken carried out his threat with the drumsticks, causing him to bleed heavily, hence the red drumsticks I saw before my own lights went out. That had hurt the most, and it had happened seconds before he heard me yelling his name. He didn't remember his own drum kit and the other equipment being smashed up. He thought that had happened before they brought him to the house. That meant Ken must have been watching us for a few days for him to know when we would be out of the house.
"If that's the case," the officer asked, "how did Ken get into the house without a key."
All we could think of was that he had taken an impression of the key he handed back to us the day we chucked him out, and had a new key made. Daley confirmed this when he remarked that when Ken tossed him the key, it felt greasy. The key was in Bill's desk and no one had used it since. The officer said he would pick it up and have forensics look at it. There would be evidence of the soap and also of Ken's fingerprints on it. Otherwise it was a mystery how Ken had got into the house. It was double glazed throughout, with modern five point dead locks on all outer doors, including the backyard hatch to the cellars.
"What about the Sierra?" I asked. "I didn't see it at the house"
"We found recent tyre tracks in the back yard and at the front of the house, which don't match the ones made by the 206 or the 405." I guessed Daley had used my car to get here fast.
We were kept in hospital another six days before Daley was allowed to take us home, hardly able to walk. We found that the band had cancelled two gigs to be with us and insisted on acting as nursemaids to the pair of us. They refused to let us go upstairs except for a bath or shower, an old toilet in the hall having had a thorough scrubbing, and they turned the lounge into a communal bedroom with Billy and I ensconced on two of the sofas, which I had to admit were a lot softer than Billy's bed. The band brought their sleeping gear in and used the floor and it was like living in a cosy nest. The only one missing, and for which we were all sad, was Jake.
After four days of being waited on like kings, Billy and I were able to witness Pete's coming out. Pete had revealed that he had been a closet gay since he was sixteen but had not had the courage to do anything about it. Whereas my own initiation had been asked for and almost clinical, Pete's was a full-blown show with all the tassels and whistles to go with it. The band was getting bored so they decided to have a party. There was lager, wine and soda, and even a couple of bottles of Scotch that Rob had found in the cellar. Daley and Rob made a pile of finger food, which Billy yearned for but couldn't eat because he was still on liquids only, to give his back passage time to heal, and we were getting into the swing of the party when the band buttonholed Pete about his gay feelings.
He turned it into a joke until Todd and Rob grabbed him and pulled him onto their settee. All three were laughing as Ron held him down and Todd went for his belt. Once that was undone the others joined in except for Indian and Ashley who made themselves scarce. Billy sensed what was about to happen and a grin creased his face. I struggled to my feet and managed to reach for his hand without losing my balance. I hauled him up and steered him towards the door. Behind us, Pete was squealing and shrieking with laughter as he tried to prevent all those hands from getting inside his shirt and pants. It was a losing battle and he knew it, and it didn't look like he was putting up much of a fight. As I opened the door and pushed Billy through it, Pete's pants and shirt sailed over the back of the settee and his protests became muted moans of "Oh no, please, no, oh, oooh! Aaagh! Mmm! Ooooh man! Wooooow!" Our own journey up the stairs was painful but it was worth it when we finally sank onto Billy's bed and helped each other undress. Sex was out of the question, we were still too sore to do anything, and Billy certainly couldn't go any further than be petted and caressed, in fact I doubted Billy would ever allow me to penetrate him again after what Ken had done. We just wanted to be alone together. He wanted to lie in my arms and be kissed and loved. I just wanted to hold him close and watch him fall asleep. He was so beautiful, although at the moment his face was a patchwork of fading bruises and cuts. Mine probably looked no better. He no longer wore a ski cap and his hair was beginning to grow again, in uneven, spiky strands. I remembered him weeping in my arms when they had first shaved his head, and signing that it had taken a long time for him to create the hairstyle he favoured, his hair being so fine and fly away, and he was afraid it would never grow back that way. I woke up in the middle of the night to find him sobbing his heart out.
He lay facing away from me and curled up a tight foetal position that spelled the aftermath of a nightmare. I coaxed him back into my embrace and held him until he calmed down then asked him what the nightmare was about. He shook his head. "It wasn't a nightmare. I remembered about my mum; what happened to her; how she was murdered." He started to cry again and I tightened my arms about him, while he sobbed the whole story out.
In the eyes of a little boy, most of Mummy's boyfriends were nice. They played with him, and cuddled him when he hurt himself. They bought him ice creams and toys, and he treated them as if they were his daddy, whom he missed terribly. Mummy didn't give him hugs or kisses, she said she wished he had never been born. He wasn't her kid anyway. He heard her boyfriends talk about her being drunk and if they didn't stay to look after him he would be taken away from her. He didn't want that so when a couple of them did things to him, he didn't object. They loved him so he loved them back. But one day Mummy brought a new boyfriend home, and Billy didn't like him at all. The other boyfriends had done gentle things to him, which he liked and made him feel good, but this one hurt him and did nasty things to him; and broke his toys when Mummy wasn't looking. He told Mummy that Billy had broken them himself and Mummy smacked him. The new boyfriend hurt Mummy too, and hit her a lot. Billy didn't like that even though he didn't love her and she didn't love him. He tried to protect her, but he always got thrown in a corner while they fought.
One day he hid behind a chair and watched Mummy's boyfriend hit her again and again with a heavy stick until she fell to the ground screaming. Then he dropped his pants and stuck his pee-pee into Mummy and hurt her with it, like he hurt Billy. Even when she became quiet, the man still did it. Then he hit her a lot more times and left the house. Billy stayed hidden for a long time, in case the man came back. Then he crept out of his hiding place to go to Mummy. She was covered in blood and her face looked strange, like the doll of a little friend of his that had been squashed by a car wheel. She didn't move, and she was cold and limp. He tried to wake her up but she wouldn't open her eyes. A long time later, Mummy's friend from next-door came, and someone took him away. They asked him questions but he couldn't talk. He never saw Mummy again.
I held Billy in my arms for a long time after he fell quiet, shocked at what he told me, and realising that what Ken had done to him and been so similar to what he had witnessed. It had surely reawakened his memory of that horrific time. At last I said, "You have to go to the police, Billy. You must tell them everything. Do you think you could recognise your mother's killer if you saw him again or saw a picture of him?"
"I don't have to." Billy began to sob again. "I've already seen him."
"In this house?"
"Yes. It was Ken."
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