Part One – Rocky Road

Chapter One


The bus ride back to the house was bumpy. For some reason, rides in vehicles always make me drowsy. Looking around the bus, I checked out the people. There were a lot of men and women in their business suits. Probably coming home from work. This one lady, she had these legs with the veins popping out. What are they called again? Varicose veins? Yeah. I had thought that only old ladies and old men had legs like hers, but I guess not after all.

And then there was this one kid who stuck out. His face was a mutilated mess; he looked like he had been mauled by a sidewalk, to be specific. He was wearing a glittery tank top and short shorts that showed off his legs. Now, I'm not saying I thought that he was cute or anything, but he had nice legs. As in way nicer than that girl's legs.

Yeah, I fucked a girl. It was okay. I mean, I came, of course—I always come; I'm a horny male teenager (redundant, in my opinion)—but I've had better. Her legs were hairy: crazy feminists. In any case, he had nice legs. I thought he might be gay… and Muslim. I don't know much about Muslim culture, but I had a feeling that they didn't approve of gays. Then again, what culture did approve of gays? None that I knew of.

I live in a program for "troubled kids." In other words, a group home for drug addicts and people with other mental illnesses. Yeah, I'm a heroin addict. Rather, I'm a recovering heroin addict. That didn't mean that I didn't have desperate urges to shoot up, though. As in, desperate.

By the time I got back to the program, I was half asleep. I thanked God for the walk back to the program; without it, I might have fallen asleep. It was cold. (Yeah, even though it was late August.)

I got back around ten o'clock. After getting checked in (physically searched), I was sent out back (to my bedroom). I got ready for bed. Shortly after I showered, I passed out in bed.


I went out as usual that night. There's this eighteen plus club near my house that I go to a lot. And yes, I am eighteen. The only reason that I am still a junior is because I stayed back in kindergarten because I couldn't speak English. (I spoke Arabic. I don't speak much anymore; I kind of lost it when I started school.) Anyway, I went to the club. I'm allowed to sit at the bar as long as I don't drink anything in a glass. Like, I can have a can of Coke, but I can't have water in a glass. Every once in a while, someone would touch my ass. That usually meant he wanted some. Just at that moment, someone touched me.

Maybe you wonder why I'm a prostitute. I've often wondered that myself. While I do want money in order to move out and go to college to do what I want to do, I've often wondered why I would put myself in such a sexual quagmire.

I turned and gave my sweetest, toothiest grin. It was a boy about my age. That wasn't really that unusual. Sometimes boys just want a blowjob, and from whom they get it they don't always care.

He smiled back and gave me a 'come with me' look. Speaking of coming and going places, did you know that 'thither' is a word? It means 'there'. As in 'come hither and go thither. ' Yes, it's a pretty cool word.

I went with him outside. This wasn't that unusual either; a lot of guys liked to do it in their cars. (I would want to too. I hate public restrooms; they're so gross. I mean, I know this was Chuck's place, but it was still pretty nasty. Who knows how often his bathrooms get cleaned?) But as soon as we turned the corner, I knew that I had made a mistake: there was a group of boys, looking like they were ready to hurt me. Before I could make a move to run, the kid had me by the throat.

"Get down on your knees." He released me, only to push me down.

I was shaking. First of all, it was getting cold. It was nearly September, plus it was nighttime. Second of all, I was scared as hell. (They say that a lot of people fear the unknown. I was pretty sure that I knew what they wanted, but that didn't stop the fear.) I dropped to my knees.

"Now, we're going to play a fun little game," he said as he gestured to his posse of friends. "This is how you play. You're going to blow all of us. If you make us come—all of us—then you win."

"What do I get if I win?" I asked dubiously. I should take this moment to say, 'fucking bloody hell.' I hated this. It was disgusting, advantageous, and plain mean. Now, I'm a nice kid. I don't do anything to hurt others on purpose. I mean, I'm sure I do hurt people, but it's always an accident. Right now, though, I wanted to strangle them. All of them.

"You get to stop being harassed by us." At this point, I thought, 'Well, it's technically assault, since we're not at school or an official workplace. I mean, I guess this was my workplace, but I didn't work here legally. "If you lose, we take all of your money."

"I don't have any money," I objected. And I didn't. I hadn't had any clients yet that night. All of my money was at home—probably not a good idea, I would find out shortly.

"Then I guess we'll have to beat some out of you."

I tried to stop it, but it came out: "…And what if I refuse to play with you?" Oh Allah, please tell me I did not just say that. Fuck.

"Do you want to find out?" he asked menacingly. He took a step towards me.

Definitely not; that would be horrible! "No!"

"Good," he sneered. "I guess I'll go first." He undid his fly and gave me a "come to me" smile, similar to the "come with me" look. I shuffled forward. The pavement was cold and hard. I felt like a fucking slave to these boys. Sick to my stomach as I was, I sucked him off. You know those rape stories in which the victim falls in love with the rapist? That wasn't happening. Not even close. I was nauseated. He took a good amount of time to come. He obviously got it in plenty of times. Plenty of times. Do you know how easily a teenaged guy can get it up? Yeah. That meant that he had just come from sex or jerking off. The second guy came quickly. I guess he didn't get laid so much. So did the next one, but at a price: he fucked my mouth hard, like I was just a hole to fuck. Then again, maybe I was. There go the self-deprecating thoughts again. After that, I lost myself in my mind. I barely remember giving the rest of them blowjobs. All I could do was think about how horrible this was. However, I did make sure to look at each and every one of them… just in case I did file a lawsuit against them. Not that I had the guts to ever do that, but still.

Everything happened like a montage in those movies. Cold hard tar. Shuffle forward. Suck. Swallow. Repeat. Smells nauseating. Tastes worse. Ugh. It was terrible.

Everyone came. I swallowed per their requests. And that wasn't even the worst part. The worst part? That had yet to come.

"Let's play again." Three deadly words. Three other words summed up how I felt right then: 'fuck my life.' Hard. In the ass, just like me.

A lot of bad words and curses were running through my mind. "No." I stood and turned to get away. I was too slow: the leader of the gang grabbed me, twisted me around, and slammed me face-first into the pavement. I spit out blood and dirt. Then he picked me up by the hair and spat at me. That was the one thing that I absolutely could not stand, so I did what I knew from movies and books: I threw a punch. Okay, you could barely call it a punch. It was more like a weak tossing of my closed hand. He caught my fist, twisted me around, and pushed me to the ground again. He pushed my shoulders down so that my ass was in the air. I refused to keep my head down: maybe I was just a whore, but this whore was going down with dignity. And that's what saved me. I saw Chuck, the bartender and person after whom this joint was named. I screamed. I know that's such a cliché thing to do, but it worked, and that's all that mattered. Chuck looked straight at me.

He dropped his cigarette and started towards me. He began to wave one arm and pull out his cell phone with the other. "I'm calling the police," he shouted. Now, a man who tends to a bar for a living usually has a beer belly. He had something in between a beer belly and a beer baby, so he looked pretty funny running over.

"We can take him on," said the kid. The others looked around at each other and shuffled their feet and mumbled.

"Yeah," said one kid, "but we can't take on the police."

"Fine," he sighed. "Let's go." He let go of me and ran off with his stupid friends. Well, no, I shouldn't call them stupid: they were smart enough to know that they couldn't take on a cop. Although they probably learned that from "Cops."

I got up slowly and wiped my face on my shirt, forgetting how scratchy sequins are. And yes, I was wearing a sequined shirt. They do sell those things, and they're beautiful. Don't judge me!

"You okay?" asked Chuck when he got to me.

"Yes." But that wasn't the thing on my mind. "Did you really call the police? Because, if you did, I'm screwed. I have to get out of here." Because of my 'job,' I shouldn't really hang around with the police present. Of course, cops occasionally come into the bar, but that's when I go find a small booth and hide. I'm actually not that afraid of being arrested. I'm more afraid that a cop will want to go for one or two rounds.

"No, I know your deal. Now go home."

"Okay." I blew a sigh of relief. "And Chuck? Thank you."

"You're welcome. Be safe, okay?"

"I will." I was able to catch the bus back to my house. There was this really cute boy on the bus, along with this woman who started off in a seat but got up once I sat down next to her. Once I got home, I tiptoed into the house. Father was waiting up for me in the living room. Oh, shit. By the way, yes, I do swear a lot for a good little Muslim boy. But only in my head.

"Hello, Father," I said nervously.

He stared at me for a moment before he spoke. I hoped he wasn't noticing my outfit. It was pretty noticeable, pretty stand-out-ish. "Where were you?" He asked it calmly, but I could hear the tremor behind his voice.

I nearly panicked. I couldn't say I was studying; it was far too late to have been studying. "I—"

"I know that you are eighteen. I know you want some freedom. But with freedom comes responsibility. And as long as you live in this house, you need to tell me where you are going." Last time I checked, the quote was, 'With great power comes great responsibility.' I don't actually remember who said that, but I know it was said. (Oh, Spiderman said that, I think!)

"Yes, Father, but…" I stepped forward into the light. I stared past him at the floral wallpaper (it looked very Martha Stewart) and hoped that his reaction to my outfit would be… well, not angry, that's for sure. I have this habit of dissociating when I don't want to be somewhere. I wish that had happened when I was at Chuck's.

His eyes widened. "What happened?" he gasped, gaping at the bloody mess that used to be my face. He didn't seem to notice that my outfit was outrageously not the outfit of a good little Muslim boy.

"That's… what I wanted to tell you. I got jumped on my way home." It was only a small fib. I had been jumped, sort of, just not on the way home.

"Tell me what happened," Father said.

"I… don't really want to talk about it."

"Okay," he said. So agreeable! I wished he was always like this. "You should go to bed."

"Yes, Father," I said, being the good little Muslim boy that I was, or at least the one that I pretended to be. I went upstairs, took a quick shower, and went to bed. And thank Allah that my father didn't see my outfit.


The night that everything started, I wasn't in Seattle. I was, in fact, at home that night for the last full night. That was the night that my wife, Lesley, and I got into a fight.

"You're never at home to take care of the kids," she whisper-screamed, not wanting to wake up the kids. I have two kids: Sophia and Zee. Sophia is eleven and Zee is four. Sophia likes to read and Zee likes to play dress-up and have tea parties. But that's enough about them. At least, that's what Lesley thought. "Ben!" she hissed.

"At least I actually do something with them when I am home." I, on the other hand, was perfectly calm… on the outside that is. On the inside, I was roiling. But it was true: every time I was home, my kids and I went roller skating at Skateland, got ice cream at Hawksie's, or went gaming at Laser Craze. There wasn't much else that we all liked to do. But it didn't matter: we spent time together, unlike their mother.

"What do you mean, Ben?" She put her hands on her hips and cocked her head to the right. "Hm?" She had this piece of stray hair. It was kind of hanging out of her bun, trailing down the back of her neck. I couldn't stop staring at it. It must be awful to be a girl.

"I mean that all you do is sleep and yell at them to do chores when you're home. And half the time you leave Sophia to take care of Zee." I was getting tired, so tired of this. It was true. When I came home for the little time that I was home, she was sleeping. And then Sophia would tell me stories about how her mother yelled at her to do chores. I had a feeling that she spent the day shopping at Nordstrom, too, spending lots of money. And not Nordstrom Rack, either. (That's apparently where girls get expensive stuff on clearance. Not that I would know anything about that. But if you had asked Lesley, she would have told you it was a regular department store.)

"I'm tired all the time. I can't help sleeping a lot." She shook her head back and forth, and the stray hair swung from side to side.

"You're tired because you sleep all the time." This was getting to be too much.

"That doesn't make any sense," she whined. "Doctors recommend getting at least eight to ten hours of sleep each night."

"It does make sense, though. You enter the fourth stage of sleep, so you wake up tired." I couldn't help being science-y. I might not have gone to college, and I might have been a lousy trucker, but I knew my stuff about sleep and dream psychology. Speaking of dream psychology… ugh, I hate dreaming. "They actually recommend getting between eight and ten hours of sleep each night."

"I don't know what the fuck you are talking about," she said with an air of haughtiness. She had a worse trucker's mouth than I did! Actually, I didn't swear very much.

I sighed. "Whatever, Lesley. Let's just go to bed. I'm tired."

"Oh, so you can be tired but I can't?" She ran her hand through her hair, and more strays came out.

Sigh. "I work twelve hours a day. Yes, I am tired, okay?"

"Humph," she harrumphed.

"Whatever, Lesley. Drop it, okay?"

"Whatever, Ben," she mimicked me. "I'll drop it."

We went to bed after she decided she was done being mad at me. We had sex, but it was mediocre. That was when I began to seriously consider my sexuality. And it wasn't over a stray hair.