I tried to hold back my approaching orgasm, but Jamie’s tongue was relentless, mercilessly goading me towards an inevitable climax. My back arched, and for a moment I was surfing on the crest of the wave, a peak of ecstasy and desire that came crashing down all too soon. Jamie grinned, fluids dribbling down his chin. I ruffled his hair and he settled himelf into my arms, back firmly to my chest. He tightened my embrace and I was only to happy to hug him to me. At that my instant I felt an overwhelming urge to protect this fragile child from everything that had happened to him, and would happen to him in the future.
“What did I do to deserve you?” I thought aloud.
“I ask myself the exact same thing,” Jamie replied.
“I love you,” I said, and I meant every syllable, and what I had once imagined would be a momentous declaration of commitment now seemed like nothing more than a simple statement of fact, a truth as obvious as the colour of sky or a vampire’s hunger for blood.
“I’m ready to tell you about my past now.”
There was a long silence as we both considered the meaning of those words.
“You’re absolutely sure?”
“I want to… no, more than that… I need to tell you my story.” And with that he began to speak.
I grew up in the town of Bend, Michigan. The town had two things going for it. A fast flowing river and lots and lots of trees. Back near the turn of the century they built a pulp and paper mill on the river, and the town’s fortunes have been tied to the mill ever since. My dad worked at the mill. He was an engineer. It was a good job. Paid well. My mother could stay at home, and we lived in a nice large house. I don’t remember much of those years, but they were happy years. There were snowmen in winter, and the trip to Chicago. That was so exciting – I’d never been to a big city before.
But the paper business has its ups and downs. My dad explained it to me once, when the bad times started. When the economy is good, everyone wants to buy paper – so the price goes up, and the paper companies make a lot of profit. But the companies get greedy because the price of paper is so high, and they figure if they make more paper, they’ll make more profit. So they spend lots of money to buy shiny new mills. Except they find once they’ve built all these new mills that demand for paper isn’t quite as strong as they thought it was. All these mills are producing more paper than people want to buy, so the price goes down and so do the profits for making paper. The only way to correct the balance is to produce less paper. They shut down mills temporarily at first. But if that’s not enough they shut mills down permanently. And the mills they look to shut down aren’t the shiny new mills with the latest in technology and the cheapest production costs. It’s the older expensive mills that will require them to spend more money to make them competitive.
I can’t remember when it happened exactly. I was small, maybe 6 or 7. But the mill shut down. Temporarily at first. Those were tense months. And then it shut down for good. Almost overnight the town just died. A thousand unemployed workers, looking for jobs that didn’t exist. All those businesses that depended on mill workers spending their big pay cheques? They suffered too. Those that could, left. We might have too, if we didn’t have the big house with the big mortgage, and no one to sell it too. My dad turned to drinking. He’d stay out late, propping up the bar with his buddies from the plant. When he was home, there were fights all the time. I couldn’t imagine how things could get worse.
And then they did.
My mom had gone to pick up my dad from the bar. I remember them being gone late… too late. There was a knock at the door, and it wasn’t my parents, it was Mister Miller from next door and there were cops with him and I wondered why ’cause if they wanted to talk to my parents they weren’t home and I didn’t know anything about anything, but what they had to say was worse, far worse. I just remember this buzzing in my head, and their voices were a drone, like they were talking underwater and I was just repeating to myself over and over “My parents are dead. There was a car accident and my parents are dead. They’re not coming back because my parents are dead.”
That’s how I ended up in Siberia.
Officially it was the Simon Barber Home for Children. But some clever spark a few years back had taken to the sign with some spray paint. Some deletions here, a few extra letters there, and Siberia was born. Every so often the staff made half-hearted efforts to fix the sign, but someone would just vandalize it all over again, and by the end the staff had stopped caring. Our other nickname for the home was “the Gulag” – because we were stuck in the middle of nowhere with no hope of escape.
The sad thing was that the home had been grand once. Simon Barber was one of the original investors in the mill way back in time. He put up the money to build the home – his way of giving back to the community I think, and when he died he left a legacy in his will to fund it. For decades, it was the pride of the town. The problem was that the money that funded the home came from a fractional ownership of the mill. When the mill shut down, the money was gone. By the time I got there the home was in decline. There weren’t enough staff. There was no money for maintenance – and it was an old building. It needed a lot of maintenance. And the kids? Well there were more of them than ever. Parents pushed to breaking point would just up and leave, and the children they abandoned would end up in Siberia.
It was alright at first – or as good as it could be for a kid who had just lost his entire world. The staff cared, and they did their best with what they had. By one by one they left for other parts, or had to be let go to save money. Those left behind were stressed and overworked. And the kids kept coming.
But I still had hope until Sully and his friends arrived. Sully and the rest were teenagers… bigger, stronger, harder than the rest of us. They took control of the rest of us, and there weren’t enough adults around to watch them. It started with casual bullying… a push here, a punch in the arm there. They made us do favours for them. Took the little spending money we got from the home. The more they got away with, the more daring they became. Sully took a special interest in me, I don’t know why. All of us just wanted to be ignored, and I could see the relief on the faces of all the other children when I was targeted and not them.
One minute Sully was all threats and yelling and fists waved in the face, the next he was acting like my best friend. I hoped if I did what he said he’d be satisfied and leave me alone. But every time I did one of his “tasks”, it only seemed to encourage him to go further. He made me steal from the pantry. He made me steal from the caretaker’s office. But being his errand boy wasn’t enough. His new goal became humiliation. He put a dog collar on me and made me bark like a dog. I had to walk around on my hands and knees all night. He made me take off my clothes in front of his friends, and they teased me about the size of my dick. They made me walk the length of the house naked. They pissed on me in the showers. They’d twist my arm and pinch me. I started wetting the bed and that just seemed to make everything worse.
One night I was kneeling in front of Sully naked, and he pulled down his own shorts.
“What… what do you mean?”
” You heard me. Suck it.” He grabbed my head and rammed it where he wanted to go. “I feel teeth you little faggot, and I’ll fucking kill you.”
I’d never been so scared in all my life. I thought that when he was done that would be the end of in. But his friends were waiting.
I became their new favourite toy. The bed wetting got worse.
About the same time Sully discovered a new passion – drugs. Oh, and his friends had dabbled ever since he arrived. But now they were lighting up nightly. Sometimes they passed me the joint, and anything that made the Gulag seem less like hell on earth was okay by me. Where Sully was getting such a regular supply from… well I didn’t ask.
“Hey Jamie boy, come here. I’ve got something special for you.” Sully seemed to be cooking something in a spoon with his lighter. Then I saw the needle.
“No no no no no no no no no.” I was shaking my head, trying to back out of that room, that horrible horrible room, but strong hands gripped my arms, and I was pushed relentlessly forward. The needle sank into my arm and all my troubles just disappeared into the ether. I didn’t care when the strong hands pulled off my clothes, I didn’t care when Sully lay on top of me and whispered soothing words into my ear, I didn’t care when he…
Sully kept giving me the drugs. I was much more compliant when stoned out of my skull. And the more I took, the more I needed them just to get through every day. I didn’t have to be summoned to his room any more. I would seek him out, looking for my daily fix. He quickly found I would do absolutely anything as long as I got my fix.
I think they call it an epiphany, that moment of realization, that you’re circling the well of oblivion, and if you don’t change something fast, you might never find your way out.
I had to escape. And the one bus that came through town was the only way to do it. I knew where Sully kept his cash. So I stole his stash, left the house and caught the 5 in the morning bus south.
I’d escaped Sully but his gift came with me. I was still hooked, and I got my drugs the only way I knew how. When the heat got too much in Green Bay, I left for Milwaukee. When Milwaukee got dangerous I headed for Chicago. Things were different, but also the same.
Until you came along.