Puppy for Sale

by James Matthews

Chapter 48

No Easy Way Out

Steven and I ran pretty much all the way home hoping that we might catch Dave on the way. Steven was of the same mind as me in the fact of we would rather this potential shitstorm didn't spill out in front of mum.

"You know I am starting to regret ever putting you two together," Steven panted, as we approached the driveway.

"I'm sorry, I feel so bad about this, but I don't know what I've actually done wrong. This is such a shit situation."

"You're telling me, C'mon, let's get in and sort this out."

Steven pulled out his key, letting us both in, the faint sound of a sobbing Dave in the kitchen as we got closer. We both walked in to see Dave wrapped in mum's arms, her wearing a concerned look.

"Boys, whatever has happened, why is he in such a state?"

Steven sighed, and I just looked at the floor. "Dave, will you come up stairs please?" Steven requested, taking a hold of Dave's arm.

"Whoa, no you don't. I want to know why Dave is so upset and why you two seem to suspiciously know something about it."

"Dave, have you not even told her?" I asked.

"He hasn't said a word since he came running in here," mum declared, speaking for Dave.

"There is something going on behind my back, and you two are keeping it from me," Dave spat turning to look at Steven and me."

"What? That's... that's ridiculous!" I yelled, for the first time in front of mum.

"Dave we went for lunch out of school, I did text Billy to let everyone know," Steven added, more calmly.

"Right! All three of you round that table, now! There has been something strange going on for a few days and I want to know what it is. you're supposed to be brothers and friends, and I don't see a lot of loving going on right now, so round the table pronto."

Steven and I dropped our bags where they were and quickly did as she asked. Mum never got angry and we weren't about to argue with her when she did. Dave dragged himself over to a spare seat and slumped in it, keeping his head as low as it would go. Mum was the last to sit, making sure she glanced at each of us, as if telling one of us to start. But I guess no one wanted to, I know I didn't.

"Well, someone needs to talk, or we sit here all night, I'm in no hurry to start cooking so take your time by all means, it just means empty bellies for all of you."

"Guys, shall I just tell her, because I'm really not up for going without dinner while you two aren't willing to sort your shit out."

"Steven... language!"

"Sorry mum... ok here's the deal, and I think these two will agree with me here, ready?" Mum nodded. "So, things are not working out between these two because that one there can't keep the green eyed monster locked inside," Steven stated pointing at Dave, "And this one can't stand it anymore to the point where he has the hots for someone else, but is too chicken to just be honest about it. Jensen wants to end it with Dave but doesn't want to hurt him, and Dave wants to keep their relationship going but is not willing to change the way he acts when Jensen talks to someone of the same sex! They are not compatible as boyfriends, they rushed into it far too quick and Jensen does not have the experience to handle the situation. Dave's personality does not allow things to get better and Jensen is out of ideas! There I said it, it's done, out in the open, finished, yes sir I HAVE EXCORSISED THE DEMONS!" Steven cried, holding his hands above his head.

I sat there with my mouth wide open, while noticing Dave's head had lifted up high enough so he was now glaring at me.

"Do I wanna even guess who the guy is you have the hots for Jensen?"

"Dave, look, just forget about that for a mom-"

"Just say his name, go on say it!"

"Dave, please, this is not about anyone else this is about-"

"SAY IT!" Dave screamed, even making mum flinch.

"Ok, so I like Hunter, there, do you feel better now? No of course you don't, so I don't know why you even asked. Anyway this has got nothing to do with Hunter, or me and Hunter, the reason I need to end this with you, is because of you, no one else!"

"Ok boys, lets calm the situation down," mum said, scissoring her arms across the table. "Both of you will not get anything resolved if you turn this into a loud slanging match. Steven, why don't you go upstairs and give me some time alone with the boys."

"Yeah Steven, I think you've said enough," I growled, thinking not how much he spilled to mum, but rather the stuff he revealed to Dave.

Steven rolled his eyes at my glare and got up from the table, taking all our bags upstairs before mum asked him to.

"So boys, how do we fix this?" Mum asked, after making sure Steven was out of the room.

"I think I should go back home," Dave whispered, looking broken.

"Dave, I'm sorry, I didn't know things were going to go like this, I wasn't expecting things to be so difficult." I said, passionately.

"Hang on Jensen... Dave, do you really want to go back home?" mum asked him.

"Well I can't stay here anymore. The constant reminder of what I've lost always just a few feet away from me."

Mum turned her attention to me. "Jensen, what do you think the problem is here?"

"He's got another boy on the go that's the issue," Dave spat before I could even open my mouth to talk.

"David Hill, that's enough of that," mum barked. Dave dropped his head down again and remained quiet. Even though mum asked the question to me I decided to address both of them.

"Every night I lay awake wondering if there was anything I could do to fix this. Every night I wonder if I am to blame... if anyone is to blame. I'm kind of embarrassed to say that I don't have a clue how this relationship stuff works. I've tried to see your point of view Dave, I really have, and I have even wondered whether there was... no scrap that, I even wondered IF there was something I could have done differently, but I don't have a bench mark to compare it to. Steven says it's not normal, and you mum? Well, I've wanted to try and talk to you about it but never seemed to get the opportunity. The truth is I can't cope with your jealousy Dave, its making me so unhappy."

"You always seem happy when you'rearound Hunter," Dave remarked, not even looking at me now.

"You always find a way to bring Hunter into this. Yes, I like him... I like him because I can relax around him. I don't feel like he is watching my every move, like, who I am talking to, who I'm with or where I am. And you know what? As much as you think there is something going on between us, he..."

I had to stop and clear my throat feeling mums eyes on me. I wonder if she thought I was talking about sex. I felt my face heat up.

"He, um... he has never once tried to make a move on me because he knows I am with you. So I really wish you would believe me when I say there is nothing going on between the two of us. But anyway, more than that, he is not the cause of our problems, Dave, WE are the cause of our problems."

I looked up and saw mum had a tear rolling down her face. "Puppy, that was very mature and honest of you." Dave was also gently sobbing and I got up and went over to him. Leaning forward I put my arms around his back and whispered into his ear.

"I'm sorry it's turned out this way, just please don't hate me for being honest with my feelings."

I released my hold on him and went to sit down again. "So it's over... for real?" he asked, through soft sobs.

"We aren't good for each other Dave, you can see that, surely?"

"Boys, I know probably sound like some silly old woman, but maybe you both rushed into this too fast. You're still young boys, there is so much you need to learn and learn from. I think what's most important right now is that you don't grow to hate each other because you're both beautiful people whether you stand together, or stand alone."

"Dave, I really don't want you to leave because of me. I get the trouble you're having at home and going back there... to the place you hate, is only going to make you feel worse but for different reasons, right mum?"

"Puppy's right Dave, you have a home here for as long as you want it, that's my commitment to you."

"I... I just don't know how I am going to be able to cope with seeing you day in, day out knowing that we are not together."

"This is hard for me too Dave, the last thing on earth I wanted... expected, was to be in this situation with you, but we can't do this thing while things are the way they are."

"I think I get it, but it's still so hard to accept."

I looked at mum not knowing what else to say. I had crushed another person's world and didn't even know how it had happened. I felt guilty... more guilty than I have ever felt about anything in my life. Why was caring for someone such a royal pain in the ass? How could I hurt someone so easily without putting an ounce of effort into it. The feelings running through my mind were a headfuck and I wondered whether I was compatible with anyone. Then, once again, in the worst environment possible, a smiling Hunter creeps into my thoughts, where right now he should not be.

Dave stayed downstairs talking to mum while I headed upstairs and had a twenty minute shower to rid the mental grime from my mind. I stood under the scalding hot water, continuously adjusting the heat until I couldn't bear it anymore. I felt like I needed to not only cleanse myself, but also punish myself for hurting another person.

Finally stepping out I took my daily and twice daily pills, using the mouthwash cup to wash them down with. God knows how I would feel if it weren't for these, I thought, staring into the steamed up mirror.

I pulled on some clean underwear and headed into the bedroom finding Steven doing his homework, pencil in his mouth. He looked up removing it and smiled.

"Still talking to me?" he asked, a grin forming on his face.

"I shouldn't be! The one time I need you to be serious and you just treat this whole thing like it was a joke down there."

"Hey, that's not fair, I was serious," he retorted, placing his books to one side. "I just said, AS ALWAYS, what needed to be said."

"You know, I could stomach everything you said down there because it was true, I'll give you that, but Jesus Steven, did you have to mention that I liked Hunter?"

"You said you could stomach everything that was the truth, so what's your point?"

"You know what I mean... you could have left his name out and still got the message across."

"Jensen, it shouldn't have to be me getting the point across! If you'd stopped acting like some girl and just had it out with Dave a while ago you could have nipped this in the bud much sooner. Instead, what's resulted, is a fucking scene from Twelve Angry Men downstairs."

"Twelve angry who? Look never mind... I didn't know it was going to affect him this bad, nor me for that matter... AND, I was not acting like a girl, Steven, I just think about people's feelings before I open my mouth, something I don't think I have ever seen you do."

"Jensen, sometimes people have gotta know where they stand to protect them from making a complete fuck of themselves. The world works better that way. I have never understood why people pussyfoot around subjects and problems. Just say the fuck what's on your mind and everyone knows where they are, it's simple."

I rolled my eyes at him. "No wonder you're single!"

"Yeah, maybe, but at least I own my own cock and no one else does. That's right isn't it baby, there, there," he said, rubbing his crotch.

I walked across the landing into mum and dad's room finding dad taking a snooze on the bed. Just about to walk back out again he called me back.

"Hey Max, sorry did I wake you?"

"No son, just dozing... you ok?"

"I guess, just feeling sorry for myself," I said, standing in the door way. Max held out his arms and I went over to him and snuggled up on the bed with him.

"Wanna tell your old man about it, I'm still pretty young and with it you know, maybe I can help."

I laughed at his comment for the first time in ages. "Yeah I guess you are."

"Hey, wanna go out for a drive?"

"For real?" I asked, getting excited.

"Yeah, just you and me, how does that sound, then you can tell me what's going on in that head of yours," he said, using his finger to tap my forehead.

"Am I that obvious?"

"Well yeah, plus your mum and I do talk you know, but she told me to leave the subject for a while. But since you brought it up then I have a get out of jail free card don't i?"

"I didn't bring anything up."

"Nope, but your eyes did. Puppy, have you ever looked in the mirror at your eyes?"

"Uh, no, that would just be weird."

"Maybe, but let me tell you something, between your mother and I, you have been born with the most amazing eyes. Legend has it, the way into someone's soul is through their eyes. From the first moment I saw you Puppy, yours told a million stories, much like the one in the doorway just now. C'mon, let's go... here take my keys and go warm the car up."

"But I don't know how."

"Just make sure the stick is level with the P and turn the key, how do you think I learned how to drive?"

I shrugged. "I dunno."

"I read it on the back of a matchbox... lets go let mum know we are going on a short tour."

We got up off the bed and Max went to the back of the bedroom door and pulled off his thick coat, putting it straight on. I went into our room and told Steven we were going out. He just nodded and went back to his papers. Thankfully I was not being given homework at this point, which was a good thing, seeing as I had what felt like the world on my shoulders.

Dad and I wandered into the kitchen where mum and Dave were sitting talking still. Dave's eyes looked dry and he even managed a smile as we looked at each other.

"I'm taking our boy here out for a father son rally drive."

"MAX! I have just had your car washed!"

"Joking Honey, just going out for a drive, we'll be back soon yeah?"

"But what about dinner?"

"How long?"

"About forty minutes," mum replied, looking at the kitchen clock.

"We'll be back by then."

"Ok, but don't corrupt him while you're out, I don't want him coming back knowing words he shouldn't."

"You hear that Puppy, apparently I'm a bad influence, isn't that cool?"

"Just be back by seven please, and drive carefully."

Max threw back his head and laugh evilly with me in tow until we stepped outside into the fresh, still evening. Winter was coming evidenced by a wet frost that had started to form on the cars nearby. I gave his keys back to Max and he pressed the keyfob making the car blink at us.

"You get in Puppy, I just gotta move the van out of the way."

"Ok," I replied, opening the door and sliding into the bucket seat of his car. Soon enough Max had moved the van enough so we could get the car out and he got in closing the door. He reversed out onto the road before turning the car round so it was facing the right way to move off, then he stopped.

"What are you doing?" I asked, confused why we were just sitting there. Max slowly turned his head round to look at me, a slight grin on his face.

"Mum told me to drive carefully," was all he said.

"I don't think she meant by not moving, I think that's a little too safe."

"You're right. So, wanna know what a three litre engine can do to your stomach?"

"I guess," I replied sounding a little apprehensive not knowing what was coming.

"THIS!" Max yowled, playfully, before stamping his foot hard to the floor on the right hand peddle. The big beastly sounding engine roared into life immediately with the tyres making an ear-piercing scream as they spun round faster than we were moving. Thick black smoke started to form outside my window until it was suddenly gone due to us speeding away at frightening speed. That feeling Max mentioned in my stomach was prevalent as i was sucked back into the seat making me want to piss myself suddenly. Looking to the right as we approached the end of our street Max saw there was nothing coming and yanked on the steering wheel hard to the left. The back of his BMW spun wide out into the middle of the road like you see when muscle cars drift on TV. I think Max intended the car to do that as he pulled the stick into setting 1 and made a small correction, straightening the car up again. I looked over at the speedometer and saw we were now doing almost a hundred down a wide road, the BMW's engine protesting as it was being asked to work so hard.

"Max, wont it blow up or something I asked," gripping the sides of my seat.

"Puppy, these kinds of cars love nothing more than being ragged to shit, the engines are tuned for it," he replied, starting to slow down as we got to a junction.

"Wow, that was... FUCKING AWESOME!" I screamed. Max took his left hand off the wheel and held it up and we high-fived. I started laughing and screaming as excitement and adrenaline plateaued in my body.

"I did that with your mother in the car once, and she threatened to divorce me, boring eh?"

"Haha, Max, you're so cool... you're such a cool dad!"

"And you'rea really cool son, Puppy. Well, I think that cleaned out the old exhaust pipes, better slow down now.

I didn't know where we were going but for some reason it felt like dad had a destination as he seemed to be taking very specific directions. A turn here, a corner there. Each road seemed to be getting smaller and smaller until finally we actually left a tarmac road and seemed to pull onto a bumpy dirt track. Max took the car slowly down a spooky pitch black lane which was so narrow leaves were stroking the door mirrors. In front were what looked like several thick tree trunks but as we got closer it turned out they were actually wooden bollards. He stopped the car right in front of them and switched off the engine, leaving the lights on. We had been driving a mere ten minutes.

Max took off his seat belt and opened the door letting in the cold.

"Getting out?" he asked, almost as if he expected me to think I should.

"What is this place?" I enquired, stepping out of the car. I watched as he went passed the bollards and stopped just ahead of them.

"Come over here," he requested, as the full beam of the headlights were blinding him looking back at me. I slowly approached him, watching my footing until I was standing next to him. Looking out, I saw a vast body of water.

"Wow," I uttered, as the lights lit up the calm water.

"Recognise this place?" Max asked, looking at me. I looked up at him confused before gazing once again out into the dark abyss.

"Nope, I don't think so."

"I'll give you a clue. Look straight out and slightly to your left... say about eleven o'clock."

"Yeah, I'm looking... what am I supposed to see?"

"That massive house over there... with the lights on."

"Oh yeah I see it... oh hang on... oh my god, is... is that Greenstone?"

"The very place, Puppy."

"So... so this must be..."

"Your special lake, yep."


"So you remember all those times you and Cindy used to stare out on to this lake? Well, there's a small chance you both would have been looking at me and Susan. Probably seems strange from the other side, don't it?"

"You and Susan?"

Max stepped closer to the water and nodded. "You know it never dawned on me but me and Susan came here quite often in the summer. We used to bring and old bashed up cool box and a blanket and sit a chat right in this spot, gazing over the water. We probably had that old house over there in our sights so many times."

"And all the time I was in it." I strangely said feeling like I was finishing what he was meant to say.

Max nodded again. "All those years Puppy, all those summers I was looking for you not realising how close we actually were, it's frightening to think. I probably fed the same swans you fed, got my feet wet in the same water you had."

Max pulled me into his side and placed his arm round me, as we both gazed a cross the lake towards Greenstone. I could see his face shining, wet from tears that had obviously fallen down his face, the headlights of the car lighting up his complexion.

"Max?" I asked, looking at him.

"Yeah Son?"

"I'm really glad you did, but why did you bring me here, it looks like it's made you really sad?"

"Because Puppy, the next time you're feeling sad, or down... like right now, I want you to look across this lake and see where you have come from and where you are now. When you look at that house over there beyond the lake I want you to think about that timid, anxious and frightened boy you were and realise the strong young man you have grown into these last few months. I wanted to bring you THIS side of the lake so you can see how far away and small Greenstone looks from here. Now I want you to think of that distance and let it signify how far you have travelled since we found each other."

"Wow, Max, that's really powerful," I uttered, indeed looking at the small building that had been my home for so long. I moved forward a little bit and splashed my hand about in the water, wondering if it was the same water I had splashed in so many times before with Cindy... even just myself at times. It even felt like different water from this side of the lake and I wondered whether that was just my mind wanting it to.

Max came forward and put his arm round my shoulder again and we both stood in silence once more looking over the still water. We could hear the odd duck quacking as they settled for the night. The moon was high in the sky giving the lake a strip of rippling white light with nothing else for it to illuminate, but the vast amount of water, out ahead.

"I finished things with Dave today," I said, wondering if he was expecting me to tell him.

"Yeah, I know, tough luck huh?"

"Yeah it sucks Max, I feel so sorry for him, but I keep telling myself over and over, that I haven't caused this and so why should I feel bad."

"That, my boy, is because you have a kind, warm heart, and you're human. Good people hate to see others hurting, even when it's those people causing their own unhappiness. It's natural to feel responsible Puppy. It's also natural to blame yourself, but everything is cause and effect mate, everything. And, well, couple that all together with your lack of experience with these situations, it's always going to feel like you might be the one hurting him."

"Can I make it better?"

"You could, and you know how, but that would be wrong and not what you want right?"

"You mean get back with him?"

"Exactly Puppy. Sure, you could fix it straight away by doing that, but from what Susan, and now you have told me, this is something Dave needs to work through as they are his demons. No matter how old and wise you get Puppy, breaking up with someone is never easy especially when you hold that person in high regard or care deeply about them." Max sighed. "As with many things in life, Puppy, sometimes, there is just no way to win no matter what you do."

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