Out of the Rain

by Junco

Chapter 1 - Out of the Rain

The mist fell like a whisper as it blanketed the forest floor covering it completely and so perfectly. They embraced each other for the mist was life sustaining and gave nourishment. The forest gave the mist sanctuary and a sense of fulfillment. I could see that now, how the two became one. How they shared their existence together. I looked up at the empty gray clouds, clouds with out form or meaning, without a beginning nor an end. My gaze drifted downward through the oaks and cedars where I could catch a small glimpse of the lake that lay far beyond them. The lake for the most part remained hidden, the white sand beach blazed into my memory. I thought back to that time when I was lost, when wisdom once attained, departed. A young heart wants to know, needs to know, but knowing rushes out just as fast as it came in.

It was a similar day then; cool but that day the rain was relentless. It pounded the windshield of my Jeep as I made my way to the auto parts store. I was getting ready to go inside when I saw this guy out working on his truck there in the parking lot. He looked familiar, maybe someone I went to school with. I thought it odd for me to consider school in such a way like it was so long ago, when actually I had just graduated from high school about a month ago. My mind let go of these thoughts, for as I approached, I was not sure of the person I was looking at, but when he raised his head up, I saw that it was James.

"Hi James how are you doing."

"Hey, it's Shawn right," he said in a stutter, for he wasn't sure of my name. I nodded yes, "how are you," he said with a great deal more confidence.

"I'm fine", I said. "Why are you out here in the rain, working on your truck?"

He said he didn't have anywhere that he could work on it and be dry, and looking at him that day, his statement could not be any truer. His shirt clung to his well-formed body, his faded jeans devoid of the pale denim blue, and much darker. The raindrops ran off the top of his head and down his face and cheeks. James resembled an otter, as water streamed down him, his coat wet, so wet it couldn't hold another drop of moisture. The truck he was working on, older and in need of attention had the hood up with a few parts already disconnected, and a spattering of wrenches and tools lying about on fender wells and the surrounding ground. Water was flowing in sheets across the parking lot, up and around his feet, everywhere was water. Reluctant at first, I was able to convince him to follow me back home, for I had a dry place for him to work. James said something, but it must not have been important, for he did not look up and I did not reply. He was already putting pieces of his truck back together while I ran into the parts store. The man inside had to repeat what he said, for I was not listening. Instead my mind was on the boy out in the rain. Why was it that my mind was fixed on him? Everyone wanted to be like him or so we thought, but there he was alone, in the rain. When I returned he was just finishing up the last few connections, and I gave him a jump-start, and he followed me home. We pulled into the drive off the highway, glad to be home but it lacked the feeling of being like home. I didn't have the warm meals my mother prepared every evening or the company of my parents. We didn't talk much, my parents and I, I kept to myself, but just having someone ask you about your day made you feel like someone cared. I had taken all of those things for granted, because now they were absent, and I knew what it was like to do without them. James followed me down the gravel drive, past the neighbor's house, where we veered to the right away from their house and down the hill slightly. My new home was way off the highway, out in the open with a row of trees there at the highway blocking its' view and woods about a quarter mile behind the house. I parked my jeep at the far side of the house and quickly got out to open the garage door, so that James could pull in. He turned his truck around and backed into the garage and I closed the door behind him. My uncle kept an old Chevy in half the garage and I used the other half to park in while I lived upstairs above it. Once inside James took a look at the dry workspace, workbenches, and the amount of room inside, for it was very long and wide. The workbenches went down both sides and along the far end. We probably could have fit his truck and my jeep end to end, and it still would have fit it was that long. James explained to me how his alternator went bad, and that it no longer charged the battery, but he could still drive his truck with a jump start or a roll start. He had just got paid and finally had the money to buy a new one.

"We can change the alternator later," I said, " why don't you come upstairs and get a hot shower and into some dry clothes."

"I don't mind I've been wet before," he said.

"I still think you should get dried off, and a hot shower would do you some good. You and me are about the same size, and I have plenty of dry clothes."

"Thanks Shawn that would be great. Sure you don't mind."

"Not a bit. Really it's no trouble at all."

"I got some clothes here in the back," he said.

James had a small pickup truck with a camper shell, but I thought it strange that he would keep clothes there in the back of it. When I looked again I saw the whole back of his truck was full with boxes. He retrieved his clothes and we exited out a side door and walked quickly toward the back of the house. We climbed up a very long flight of stairs to a landing where the stairs doubled back and continued up 6 more steps to a deck that overlooked the open fields to the west and to my neighbors lawn to the east, and to the woods on the south, but there was no time to enjoy those views now for it was still raining very hard. I opened the door for him and we entered into the kitchen. He was impressed with the kitchen, for it's size and number of cabinets. We walked through the kitchen into the living room, full of wood paneling and wood bookshelves. There was a counter that divided the kitchen and living room that James pointed out was maple. He seemed to know something about the different woods, what kind of trees they came from and how hard, or soft, or dense they were, and I was impressed with his knowledge. There wasn't much furniture at the time only two couches some tables, a TV and a stereo. We walked through the living room to the hallway, to a small spare bedroom, more like a big closet, empty now, then onto the bathroom beyond that. The bath was large, with lots of room and there at the end of it was another door that went off to the bedroom. We walked down to the end of the hall, where it just opened up into the bedroom. It was a huge bedroom with windows on three sides and a bay window at the end, facing north toward the highway. I told him having my own place gave me the freedom to entertain my girlfriend Shelly, only problem was she had gone to France to stay with her grandparents for a while. We had talked of eventually moving in together and I was so ready for that to happen. I got James a towel for his shower and I went to the living room, realizing how the first part of my dream had come true, but now without Shelly here, what was the point. Half a dream left me empty, more so than when it was entirely just a dream. The two of us had been together since the first days of our senior year, and while she had only been gone for three weeks, it seemed much more like a year. It was going to be a long summer for she wasn't due back until August. The day Shelly left for France was bright sunshine lots of busy people important people all with some place to go all of them too busy to notice me, too busy to see how distraught I was. Even Shelly was distracted with thoughts about her trip and about seeing her grandparents again. She was excited caught up with things going on around her. I wasn't sure if she was going to miss me, at least not until she was ready to board her plane. We held each other tight knowing it would be some time before we would see one another again, then she was gone. I stood there at the window my palms pressed up against the glass tears gushed out of my eyes as I watched her plane take off. Her departure was so abrupt almost without a second thought. It was her grandparent's idea, a graduation present. I heard about the trip the last day of school, then suddenly almost in an instant she was gone.

I looked out, still raining, the sound of it hitting the roof, streaming endlessly on. It was the kind of sound that would put you to sleep in a minute. Sleep would have been good for it was that kind of day, but the sound of the door opening and James emerging told me it was time to get to work. We went back down the stairs out into the rain, then into the garage to work on his truck. James seemed to know what he was doing, as I assisted by holding the bolts with a wrench while he loosened the nuts. He was kind of quiet that day, and didn't talk much. I had always seen him with others but had never been with him by myself before, and did not know what to say to him. The silence felt a bit awkward, but that was pretty much the norm for me. Conversation seldom came easy, and rather than attempting and failing, I often choose to say nothing. This time was no different so we worked and proceeded with great speed and had the alternator off in no time. He smiled at me and I was glad to see him smile, because I didn't think I could take his sad puppy eyes anymore. He retrieved the new alternator from the floorboard of his truck, and began the task of installing the new one. His smile didn't last long, soon the sad look returned to him, and I began to wonder what it was that troubled him so. I tried to think of something to cheer him up but nothing came to mind. We said a few words to each other but worked in silence for the most part.

We were just finishing when James turned to me, "I really appreciate you helping me out like this" he said then his face grew tight, something else was going on inside him. I could see a canyon open up inside him, something was wrong, all I needed was a clue, and I already had an idea.

"Glad to be of some help," I said, "Staying busy keeps my mind off of Shelly. What about you? Last I remember you were living with some girl our whole senior year."

"To be honest with you Shawn, yeah I was but she kicked me out a few weeks ago." His eyes drifted off his attention gone while his voice trailed off. My suspicion was correct. I had seen that look before in some of my friends. It was a look that was hard to forget.

"Sorry to here that." Wish I could have said more, but my mind never thought of the right things to say, at least not until it was too late. I was trying to come up with something to comfort him, or should I not say anything. I decided to ask him about it. Sometimes talking could be painful at first but the release you get from talking about helps the pain. "Are you doing okay," I said quietly.

"Yeah I guess so."

"So how did it happen?" I said almost regretting that I had mentioned it.

He began to speak slowly at first each word a struggle for him. "I really enjoyed being with her, and we seemed to get along together. I'd work part time after school but she was already out of school a year older than me. I tried to help out but she worked full time and earned a lot more money than me. We had some really good times together. After graduation I had started working with this guy surveying. He was just getting his business going and had a lot of out of town work. He paid well and was willing to teach me. I thought it was a great opportunity. You know it seemed like things were going to get better than ever between my girlfriend and me. Then I got home after being out of town, and she had more or less kicked me out. All my stuff was packed and in boxes. It was clear she didn't want me anymore. I tried to talk to her, but she wouldn't speak to me so I put the boxes in my truck and left." I was standing there listening as I felt my knees go weak a lump in my throat. A new fear griped me as my mind thought about my own sweet Shelly what it would be like if I couldn't hold her again. Never again to have her soft skin against mine and feel her arms around me. A nervous feeling came over me and I didn't know what to do or say. I wanted to reach out and touch him to let him know it was going to be all right. I felt my arm move outward towards him but it stopped short, as if a weight was tied to it. Neither of us knew what lay ahead. Our destinations a mystery our dreams vaporized. He had stopped speaking for a moment but now continued. "I was looking forward to learning something new and working full time, then she dumped me for some other guy. Guess he was better looking than me."

"Not true James, you're a great looking guy " Couldn't believe I would say such a thing to another guy, but I was trying to cheer him up. He had brown hair under a layer of sun-bleached blond on top. He had green eyes but with a brown center that seemed to sparkle, not brightly but like a star in the night sky. His smile was sweet and inviting. He was popular in school, always laughing and always with a friend or a girl. He seemed to have a following, not the same excluding group, but lots of new people around him, sometimes the most popular guys or girls there, sometimes just people like me, but always there was someone with him. He never seemed alone, or down, never questioned his youth, never afraid of his destination. But here he was, alone, and it seemed like he had no place to go. It was a thought, maybe a silly thought, but when I looked at all the boxes again, I decided I had to ask. It would bug me later if I didn't.

"So where did you move to?"

"Luckily we have had out of town work and I was able to stay in a motel room while we worked."

"Yeah but what about weekends"

"I stay in the back for now."

"In the back of what, this truck?"

He looked down at the ground, didn't answer at first, but then he said, "I have no family, and was always so busy my last year in school working, that I never had much time with my friends, outside of school. I really don't have anywhere else to go till next pay check then I can put some money down on a apartment."

"Dude you don't have to do that, you can stay here with me, at least until August."

"I couldn't do that, I don't want to intrude."

"Look James your out on the streets, and I could probably use some company for awhile. At least until Shelly gets back.

"Really Shawn that would be great but I don't want to put you out.

"James I don't want you living here out of the back of your truck. I mean it. You can stay here till you get back on your feet. I wouldn't be living here now if it weren't for my uncle giving me a break on the rent. You need someone to help you right now. You have nowhere else to go. Didn't you just say that?" I felt like a father talking to him.

"Well yeah I did," he said looking down at the ground. "You sure you don't mind?"

"I'm sure James." and as I said this I grasped his arm up near his shoulder and I bore down on his arm but the strong muscle did not yield to my grip. He looked up at me directly into my eyes and I knew I had his attention.

"I just don't want to be a problem for you," he said softly.

"I would rather see you here than out on the street somewhere. I just don't have a place for you to sleep other than the couch, or we could share my king-size bed, there is plenty of room there."

"Shawn, that would be cool, I really appreciate this. I'll pay you back, I promise."

"Don't worry about that now lets get you unpacked then you can help me with my Jeep."

"Sounds good to me."

"I'll tell you lunch sounds good to me, why don't we take a break and eat." As I said it I looked at him. He had a smile that I was happy to see again.

"I'm starved," said James.

I fixed us some lunch and we talked some more while we ate, then we went back to the garage. We moved his truck just a little, so that I could pull my Jeep in. I was just getting out, when I saw his smile again.

"How come you and I were never good friends in school?" I said.

"I don't know Shawn, guess we only had one class together, and I was either at work or with my girlfriend."

"And I was busy with Cross Country and Track all the time."

"You were one of the top runners."

"Not till my senior year," I said looking back at his ragged truck.

"So why did your uncle give you such a good break on this place?"

"I use to spend a lot of time with my uncle helping him fix cars and stuff."

"Didn't know you liked working on cars."

"Don't love it. He asked me to come over and help him out once and I enjoyed spending time with him."

"He must be pretty cool."

"I guess. You know he's got tons of land on the south side of town."

"No I didn't."

"He owned some land before the freeway went through, sold some of it, then that gave him some money to start developing the rest of his land."

"He sounds like a smart man."

"Must be. Well then he started a hobby of buying cars and fixing them up and reselling them. I helped him out from time to time, and we developed a close friendship because of the time we spent together."

"Wish I had an uncle like that," he said scuffing the floor with his shoe.

"I am lucky to have him. See that Jeep there?"

"Yeah."

We worked on that together, then he gave it to me when we were done."

"Awesome, that's a cool Jeep."

"It's just a six cylinder, not too fast, but I still like driving it."

"It's tons better than what I got," he said looking back at his truck.

"Your truck's okay."

"Sort of," he said turning back toward me. "So is this place his too?"

"Ah, yeah, he worked with me on my rent and helped me buy furniture, so he's been a big help. My parents found a king-size bed at a real good deal and we moved that into my bedroom. Then they helped me get the two sofas for the living room and the TV. Shelly was going to come live with me soon but instead went to spend the summer in France with her grandparents."

"Why France?"

"Her mom drinks a lot and has been giving her a lot of grief, and I thought it would be better for her to live with me. Her grandparents live in France and they wanted her to get away, and figured that right after graduation was the best time for her to go. Come on let's get your stuff upstairs."

"Then I'll help you fix your Jeep. Its the least I can do."

We worked on our cars all day, unloaded his truck and moved the few things he had into the spare bedroom. I made some room in my closest and dresser for his clothes then we were both ready for supper.

"Come on Shawn I'll cook you some supper."

"You cook?"

"Yeah, that was part of our upbringing."

"Great, let me get out of these dirty clothes and get cleaned up."

I took my shower first then James. After he got out of the shower, he of followed my example of wearing gym shorts and a tee shirt. I could see his legs now, they were smaller than mine but still looked pretty strong, and real tan. He scoured the kitchen for something to eat looking in the fridge and the cupboards contemplating, till his enthusiasm took off and he wildly started looking back through for something, and putting things out on the counter. The phone rang; I left James on his own while I went to get the phone.

"Hello."

"Hello dear how are you doing."

"Fine mom."

"What did you do today, with the rain and all"?

"Worked on my cars all day mostly."

"Where at uncle Bob's house."

"No actually here. I went into town to get some parts for my jeep, and I saw this guy out in the parking lot working on his truck."

"In this weather."

"Yeah, the guy was soaked. It turns out he's somebody I knew from school. Didn't know him very well in school but he's a nice guy."

"What's his name dear?"

"James, James Ryan."

"I don't remember him."

"I didn't know him too well either, but I think I'm going to get to know him a lot better soon."

"What makes you say that dear?"

"It's a long story mom, but he had no where to live, so he's going to stay here for a while."

"I'd like to hear all about James, but we're suppose to go to your grandmothers tonight, won't be back till late tomorrow. Tell you what, call me on Monday, we can have you and James over to eat."

"Sounds like a good idea mom."

"We have to go, bye dear, love you."

"Love you too mom." I hung up the phone and went to check on James. He seemed to be in his element, cutting or mixing up different things that seemed to make no sense to me, but I didn't cook. I left him alone to go put on some music. While in the living room I started looking through the tapes and cd's I had, picked out some good tunes and lay back on the sofa to listen. The rain was still falling, and it seemed to be getting dark early. I thought about Shelly what she must be doing now. Probably asleep or just getting up. Being so many time zones away I really had no idea what time it was there. It had been a while since we talked, and phone bill for talking across the ocean is expensive. I should write her a letter or something. Wish she had e-mail, that would really work out well for this situation. Maybe I'll mention it to her when I write. I did miss her. We had a lot of fun together this past year. Soon I was thinking about those times. How we would ride our bikes out near my uncle's place down the road to the lake. We had a lot of fun together, going different places. Then I thought about poor James, his sad eyes, his quiet demeanor and how his girlfriend must not have a brain in her head. How could she just kick him out like that? Shelly would never do something like that. My thoughts kept bouncing back from Shelly to James. I don't know how long I was there, time just slipped away.

James called me to dinner, and I sat there at the living room side of the bar, while he sat at the kitchen side. James put down our plates and our drinks. The food was steaming hot; don't know what it was for sure but it smelled good. Some kind of pasta and cheese mixture, with something else but I didn't know what.

"What do you call this?"

"Don't know, just made it up."

I was surprised. It was so good, and I wondered how he just invented it? "So James what all is in here?"

"Noodles, cheese, tomato paste, tomato sauce, a little bit of chicken I found in the freezer and a few vegetables."

"This is really good. You make a good cook." He just smiled at me and continued eating. It was a lot of food but I was hungry. He finished before me picked up his plate and started washing dishes.

"I can do that," I said.

He turned around to me and said, "I don't mind, plus you're still eating." So I finished my plate and took it to him. Went to go brush my teeth and sat down on the couch. James did the same and then sat at the other end of the couch from me.

"You know I was thinking what a big mistake your girl, I mean old girlfriend made."

"How's that."

"You are a hard worker, great cook, and you seem to be a nice guy. I just think she screwed up letting you go."

"Thank you Shawn for the compliment, and yes I agree she really screwed up big time. I think this other guy turned her onto drugs or something."

"You're probably right. She must not be thinking with a clear mind."

"I've been around more than you and believe me drugs can screw up your life."

"Wouldn't know 'bout that."

"Good for you."

"So how is your work going," I asked.

"Good, work is great. I'm learning a whole lot. I got a nice boss, plus we get to travel some.

"Sounds interesting."

"Not only do we work outside, but we seem to do a lot of different types of surveys. It's not the same old thing everyday, plus I get to enjoy nature."

"Sounds like the perfect job for you."

"How 'bout you?"

"Me? My job doesn't sound half as interesting as yours. I've been working at one of the plants here in town, not on the floor but in the administrative area. There's always a lot to do there."

"Like what?"

"When I started, I ran errands and stuff mostly. Then they had me do some data entry on the computer and they liked how well I adapted to their programs, and gave me more responsibility. Lisa Zimmerman is my boss, do you know her?

"Can't say I do."

"She's a few years older than us but real nice. I like working with her. She liked my work, and had me take some of supply orders and organize them. It helped them from running out of or getting too much of the supplies they need on the floor."

"Sounds to me like you've done well for yourself," he said as he shifted slightly to get more comfortable.

"My dad helped me get the job, he knows one of the big bosses there. I felt guilty about it for awhile but now that I'm really helping out, I don't feel so bad."

"So do your parents live nearby?" He asked.

"They live on the east side of town just on the edge, kind of near the ball park."

"Do you get along well with them"?

"You bet. I had my differences years ago but outgrew some of that stuff. They've been real supportive to my moving out. How about your parents, do they live around here?" There was a pause, silence no response. Maybe he didn't get along with his parents. Gosh I hope I didn't ask a bad question, and then I remembered him saying earlier that he had no family. How stupid of me I thought, dummy. What was I thinking? He looked out the window; he was a million miles away and still nothing. All evening I had watched him, looked into his eyes as he looked at me. Eye contact was something I often avoided, but to look into his eyes so bright like a magnet I was glued to them. Now he was looking away, I could not see his face, but I knew I needed to listen, listen to his silence. I sat still, motionless, no sound, no-wind. The clock on the wall was silent, time had stopped, as my focus remained on him concentrating on him nothing else. Finally he turned to me. His eyes were different somehow they looked strong, yet they were yielding and kind. I looked at him softly, but intently, listening, seeking him out, and preparing my self for his words.

"Shawn," he said in a calm still voice, "a long time ago we were all in an automobile wreck. It happened when I was ten. I don't even remember where we were going. I heard this terrible sound; I felt a jolt, almost like being struck by lightning or something. It happened so fast so hard, and so sudden, I never saw it coming. I couldn't get out, the doors were jammed up, I called for my mom and dad but they never answered. Some people tried to help but couldn't get me out."

"So how did you get out?" I asked.

"Some fire trucks came and the firemen all helped me get out of the car. They put me onto a stretcher, but I didn't see my mom or dad. I kept calling for them but they never answered. As they were loading me up a state trooper came and asked my name. I told 'em, who I was and asked where my parents were. Were those your parents there in the car with you, and I told him yes. Then asked me how old I was, and I told him ten. Where are my parents I asked again? The state trooper put his hand on my shoulder. He told me to be brave, what he had to say was not good. I saw him look at me, something in his eyes, gave me this sense of demise. He said son, there is no easy way to tell you this, your parents were killed in the wreck."

As he told me his story, I fought back tears, I fought hard for it was I that needed to be brave for him, it was his story, his sadness, his lose. Instead he was the brave one, while I uselessly fought back the cool tears, now running down my face. I felt so sorry for him, not knowing what to say, I felt myself shiver as I moved closer to him and put my hand on his shoulder. He remained calm and, continued to speak.

"Lots of nice people took care of me at the hospital. I stayed for a couple of days and then went to an orphanage. You know where Falcon ridge is?"

"Sure."

"There were lots of boys there; most of them didn't have parents. Some of the kids did have parents but they were pretty messed up or their parents were bad off. I stayed there till my senior year. That's when I moved in with my girlfriend."


His eyes remained strong his voice cool very still

"That's such a sad story, I feel real sorry for you," I said as I wiped my eyes.

"Don't, be sad," he said, "I've learned to adjust for the most part. It would be nice to have parents like yours but that just isn't possible."

"I'm sorry I brought it up."

"Really it's okay Shawn. Breaking up with my girlfriend is what really hurts the most right now."

"James, I wish there was something more I could do for you."

"Wish there was too. As for my parents I still miss them but it has been a long time now, and I've moved ahead. As far as my girlfriend is concerned, feels like my heart's been ripped out of me."

I didn't know what he was talking about for sure. I explained to him that I never broke up with anyone. I had dated a few girls but no one seriously.

"There was one girl that I talked to at school, during lunch and that kind of thing, and then we went out once. It was hard to find time to be alone with her you know with out the whole school being around." He nodded knowing exactly what I was talking about. "Then we went to a school dance together. Two days later I called her on the phone. I was talking about the next event coming up that we might be able to go to. She said don't, and I said don't what? She said, don't ask me to go. I was surprised by her comment; guess she didn't want to go out with me anymore. It hurt my feelings, being rejected by her. I couldn't look her in the eye, or talk to her. I had a hard time even facing some of her friends, but we just weren't that close."

"I'll try to explain it to you," he said while I put my hand back on his shoulder again. He paused, but only briefly. I was amazed at his strength.

"When you love someone and they decide they don't want you anymore, it can tear you apart." There was another pause; I tightened my grip on his shoulder to let him know I was still there. I can't explain what I felt at that moment. Kind of like a brother, kind of like a friend but neither one. We had both shared parts of our lives, but what I felt at that moment, was stronger than any of that. He looked at me again, "You ask your self a lot of questions. Like why, or why me, or is this what life is all about. Sometimes you don't feel like living anymore."

"James, don't say that."

"It's true."

"Don't even think about killing yourself."

"It's not like that, you just seem to lose the will to live."

"Is that the way you feel now?" I asked quietly.

"Not now, you're here. It was when I was alone that these thoughts came to me. Soon you're re-living something, or asking yourself questions that don't have an answer to them. It hurts, it hurts way inside of you, and there is nothing to take away that pain except time." As he said those words, I started to get an idea of what he might be going through. I thought of how well off I was yet still troubled at times, being unsure of my situation, unsure of my future. All through high school, James appeared this well adjusted, confident person, without a care in the world, and with out parents. I never wanted to go through what he had, to live without parents or to be dumped like he was. I wasn't sure how he went on, and yet there he was next to me, a little battered but still surviving.

He seemed much wiser than I was. I didn't have the life experiences that he did, nor did I want them. Instead by remaining quiet, being an observer, I felt as though I learned more about people, what they were thinking, seeing through the facades. I looked at him; he was amazing to me, to have lived through so much. We continued to talk about all sorts of things, our past, our dreams, funny things that happened to us, or about people that both of us knew. Sometimes as I spoke he would be looking out into the room, still listening to me, but when he turned his head to look, I did not divert my eyes. Instead I looked straight at him, for I was not fearful of him, as I was with so many. I felt at ease, words came to me, and I talked like I had never talked before. We both agreed that good friends were important, and how amazing it was that we were becoming just that. I could feel a bond developing between us; I think he felt it too. It was like I had known him for years. He promised that as soon as he was able to, that he would get his own place. I told him he was welcome to stay as long as he needed to. We decided that it was time to go to bed, and he asked for some blankets to sleep out on the couch. I thought he had been through enough, and how unfair it would be for him to sleep on the couch, and insisted that he sleep in the massive bed with me.

Then he asked, "How did you manage to get the bed into that room."

"We took a crane, lifted the roof off the house and put it in."

"Silly boy," he said, and we both brushed our teeth and crawled into bed and I turned off the light. I was settling in, getting ready to sleep when James put his hand on my shoulder, much like I had done for him earlier. I was only trying to comfort him earlier, and he seemed to be thanking me for my help with out saying a word. I felt his hand move up under my sleeve and back on my upper arm. His grip was strong and warm. I enjoyed his touch, the feeling transcended my body. I felt tears once again, silent tears, tears-of sadness and joy all mixed together. I couldn't remember a time when I had felt this way about a new friend. Faintly off in the distance I heard the song of a whippoorwill calling as I drifted off to sleep. Next morning I woke up and saw the sun shining, looked like it would be a great day. I went out to the kitchen and there he was making us breakfast.

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