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Beta'd by Erin.
Human Touch - part 5/10: "blood clot"
At first it's just a small, boring, completely uninteresting scuffle between a nigger and a Brother.
Uninteresting to Keller, that is. He knows the Aryan well enough to not give a shit about him; he's tall, dumb, slightly retarded. Most of the Brothers seem slightly retarded to Chris, except for Schillinger. But - in prison - strength lies in numbers, so their intellect isn't exactly important.
Chris tries to just lay low and finish his book; his reading material wasn't approved by *Big Brother* over there, watching the scuffle with a whole lot more interest than Keller's giving it.
Schillinger has even started choosing which books Chris has the right to read; when he gets to watch TV, what he has to eat (like there's much of a choice), how to exercise...
Dictating him what to do every single fucking moment. There's a strange, fucked up interest that the older man's displaying towards Chris' *upbringing*...
"You got to know your place in this world; enemies and allies, your own kind and...the rest."-- Schillinger's basic 101 lessons on life.
Though Chris has a hard time understanding what exactly that 'your own kind' bullshit actually means.
(--'My own kind...prags, right? *White* prags...'--)
Probably practicing for when he has those kids he keeps on talking about, once he gets out. With that whiter-than-white (future) wife of his.
*That* is what makes moments such as these weirdly precious (given his track record) - small victories in the face of sharply requested constant, complete obedience. Even if he's changed the covers of the book in the process.
So it's pretty obvious he doesn't exactly care about what seems to be a stupid fight among other stupid fights...
(Except that this particular one will change the rest of his life.)
All of the sudden, all hell breaks loose: niggers yell like 'crack monkeys' - Schillinger talk - and the Aryans yell like...well, they just yell.
He knows, he just knows he has to be in the middle of it. Well, Schillinger's screamed orders might have something to do with it, but...he's *in*. Ready to prove himself, ready to stick up for 'his own kind'.
Someone's pushing him a bit too hard; he falls in a corner with a black body crushing his chest.
The guy's just as bewildered, just as scared as him; Chris thinks he knows his name, he's hearing the others screaming at him to 'airhole his white ass'...
Instinctively, without even thinking, without even *beginning* to think about thinking -- hot, sticky blood flowing through his fingers, heart pumping like a drum machine - his heart. The other guy's blood...
His voice is shaky, eyes fixed on the guy he's just stabbed.
(--'When the FUCK did that happen? *How* did it happen?...'--)
Once...twice...one last breath of air - dim, shallow - and the guy's dead. Just like that, out of the blue. No warning sign, no last words; nothing.
He's dead, gone. *No more*.
Like he never even fucking existed. Just a black mass of flesh, bone and blood collapsed in a corner.
Chris slowly stands up, half reeling; blood - *his* blood - rushing through his body. Overwhelming. Electrifying.
"Shit..."-- a hand clustering on his shoulder, Vern's voice - unusually impressed: "I guess that makes you a man, Christopher..."
(--'One tough little motherfucker.'--)
Nobody's *seen* anything. Nobody's seen *him*.
Only later, locked up in his cell with Schillinger snoring on the upper bunk does Chris realize, fully realize, what he's done.
And how *little* he feels...
About that guy whose name he doesn't even know. (Never did.) About what he's done. About the whole thing really.
(--It's not normal.'--)
But then again...this is Lardner. He had to. It's not like he had a choice...
He did what he had to. That simple.
And...(--he got praise out of Schillinger.)
He probably should start paying more attention to those 101 lessons... You never know when they might come in handy again.
Still...(--'It's not normal.'--)
"You're kidding? You're stronger than that idiot. And smarter. The Brothers listen to you, they all look up to you."
He's not even lying.
He's being as honest as he's ever been around Vern, and he even believes it himself.
Schillinger is the strongest, the most capable of leading the Brotherhood, nobody can really pose a threat to him where the leadership is concerned. Of course, he's kissing his ass - metaphorically speaking - but he needs to; beneath all of Vern's strength lies his biggest weakness. His need to constantly reaffirm his own status in front of everybody, especially himself.
So - ass-kissing or not - Chris has discovered another trick, apart from letting Schillinger be the MAN in fucking everything, a trick that seems to work even better than making him come like there's no tomorrow: telling him what he wants to hear and at the same time, making sure to NOT seem like he's ass-kissing.
Which, in fact, it kind of...is. But...(--'whatever.'--)
What really matters is that Chris has grown to believe it himself. Vern is the strongest guy in the Brotherhood.
He's got the biggest badass in Lardner to watch his back.
So...he's - for lack of a more appropriate word - *happy*.
As happy as a dog on a very tight leash can be.
He's alive and in one piece in the worst fucking place an 18-year old could be.
What more could you ask for?!...
Schillinger's looking at himself in the mirror, trying not to cut his throat with his razor as a small, benign chuckle fills the cell.
Yes, the kid's right.
Even by judging the situation with a clear head - instead of feeding off the afterglow of the morning's quick blowjob - he knows nobody really has any chance to bump him off.
There just isn't anybody who can match him, it's that simple.
But...(--'when the fuck did you come to depend on this little bitch's reassurance?'--)
"You know? You're a very useful piece of ass, Chris," Vern says, glancing at the boy in question, who's leaning on his elbow on the lower bunk, suddenly all eyes and ears: "I like that."
That's all Keller needs to hear; he's 'useful'.
That means EVERYTHING.
He's safe, protected. For the time being, anyway. God, he could almost leap out from his bunk and kiss him, that's how *happy* he feels!...
And...(--'that fucking says it ALL about this *relationship*, don't it?!'--)
He knows Vern's depending on him for more than sex.
What he doesn't realize though, or - better said - doesn't want to admit, is that he too depends on Schillinger for more than protection.
(--'This is what having a father must be like.'--)
Of course - of-*fucking*-course - things can't always go this easily with the older man. Not because Keller's not trying his best to please him, but...something's always...missing.
Like, the other day: just having a small, meaningless conversation, just to pass the time. Shoot the shit. Talking about music, about women, about what-the-fuck-ever...
Leaning in towards Schillinger, trying to act like he's not his fucking property, but his... *buddy*?
And having the other man leaning back in his chair as far away from him as possible, cold, unemotional voice casually ordering him to 'stop acting like such a fag'.
"It's fucking embarrassing, okay? You make me look bad."
While Chris can't help but think (and thank God, have the presence of spirit not say out loud): 'But...*you're* fucking *me*. How the hell am I supposed to be acting?'
Giving him small bits of...(intimacy), just to immediately slap him back to his place, reminding him constantly - like there really was any need to - where he stands: under. Under his hips, under his orders, under his everything.
Just let him have HIS way.
Like there really is ANY other way...
And if - more like, WHEN - he hits you, take it like a *man*. When he calls you a 'whore', a 'slut', when he calls you `sweetpea', or `cupcake' or what-fucking-ever...when he calls you 'Chrissie' or 'Chris-to-pher' in that mildly deceptive fucking voice of his - just act like you've always been called that.
Which, in actual fact, you kinda have...
So it's only natural to...embrace it as God-given truth. Just lay down and...take it.
(Like the bitch that you are.)
Just do what you've always done: use him by letting him use you. Works all the time, with fucking everybody.
Chris Keller's secret formula for survival: tit for tat. Flesh for safety; head for a way out.
Nothing's that BAD, as long as you can *take* it.
(What-fucking-else is new?!...)
But something's...missing. Always has been. Chris chooses to pretend it doesn't matter, but he knows it does.
That inner ache, the emptiness; that sickening feeling overwhelming him each time Vern climbs into his own bunk, never - not once - saying anything to him. He could settle for just a 'Good night', or 'Fuck you' or whatever; instead, he gets nothing.
And it feels to Chris like the other man wants to somehow forget he even exists, let alone that he's just fucked him, just like he's been doing for the past year on a regular basis.
It's during moments such as these when Chris realizes just how unimportant he actually is; how he could die, vanish, fucking disappear in one small second, and nobody would care less. Nobody.
Yeah, something is missing, all right...
So, he puts his arms around Vern's shoulders, trying to be...you know, affectionate, but not faggy, only to be rewarded with a disinterested shrug and a casual mentioning of how Chris was gonna put *something else* on his shoulders that night.
Which is okay for Keller, he's tired of lying on his belly like a fish on dry land, anyway.
And besides...if he actually wants for Chris to be face up...that means he's not THAT unimportant, right?
That's unless Vern's fishing for something; trying to get something out of him, something he could later use against him. Which means he's got to fake it - like always.
Guess in advance what it is exactly that Vern's after this time around, and give it to him while making sure NOT to actually give anything away... Not that he really has anything to give, but still...
Wrists crossed behind his head, gasping against his shoulder, trying to look at Vern - really look - and see what it is he wants from him.
Trying - at the same time - to find even a shred of...closeness; after all, he IS fucking him, right?
And seeing Schillinger's pale blue eyes carrying as much emotional charge as the eyes of an insect...completely blank, uninvolved, unresponsive as if the man wasn't even there.
It suddenly hits Chris: 'It's not normal. *He* is not normal.'
All the guys he's had sex with, no matter the reasons, he's always, ALWAYS hit something inside them; he's always managed to get something out of them.
Just like some twisted, fucked-up need for reassurance running through his body like fire.
He's always gotten a reaction.
Vern instead, is just...fucking him.
Like a dog.
Sure, you do this with someone you've never met before, someone you've never fucked before; Chris can understand that, he's had that. But...they've been fucking for more than a year now.
It's not normal, this lack of...whatever. It's not normal.
So he does the dumbest, most inappropriate thing he could ever think of: he leans his head in the crook of Vern's neck and kisses the other man's tense muscles, just under his ear, arms automatically folding around his shoulders.
Vern seems to freeze for a second, caught with his guard down; he feels as if a gigantic flashlight has been directed at him - God's flashlight, his father's.
(--'You're a fag, Vernon.'--)
Chris knows instinctively that he's hit something, so he presses on; his lips slowly move upward, trying to reach the other man's hot, unbalanced breath.
A sharp pain in the gut stops him; he can barely see through the tears filling up his eyes, Vern's figure rising above him menacingly, the back of his hand landing flatly over his left cheek.
The blow is so strong, driven by so much hate, Chris feels his neck painfully jerk to the right, while rough hands pin him on the mattress, clutching his shoulders:
"What the fuck do you think you're doing, bitch? Did *I* tell you -- YOU could do *that*?"
(--'Just WHAT do you think I am?...'--)
"I'm sorry, I didn't... Vern, I'm..." Chris has no idea what to tell him. He's scared, limbs shaking and throat rapidly choking with his own blood.
He knows Vern could kill him, he's seen him kill. He knows he can.
Split lower lip reveals itself in an awkward, completely fucked-up attempt of a smile, the only thing Chris Keller always clings to like a lifeline. His one automatic, unstoppable response to...everything.
Vern can't help but associate what he sees beneath him with the image of a terrified animal right before being gutted.
"Shut the fuck up and listen." He draws a long, ragged breath of air, voice falling back into that familiar rhythm of disinterest: "You don't ever do this, you hear me? Or I'll beat the shit out of you, you fucking faggot. Got that, Chris?"
The smaller figure beneath him nods in agreement. No sound leaves his body as Schillinger orders him silently to roll on his back to finish the fucking job already.
"You fucking brought this one on yourself," Vern whispers, pushing his entire weight, along with his cock, into the boy's body.
He doesn't wanna fuck him; he wants to punish him, teach him a lesson. He wants to crush him.
Face turned towards the wall, Chris' eyes darken, a cold, static wind blowing in behind his pupils.
Earlier tears are all dried up now, leaving nothing but barely noticeable salty marks on his cheeks.
His mind, his soul, his entire body slowly shuts down...Schillinger's breath, his muttered curses, the stench of sex filling up the air, the burning ache spreading throughout his bones, exploding repeatedly across his spine - all disappear, all blend inside him, poisoning his blood with thick, never-to-fade-away skin-deep sensations. Stacking up along all the other flesh-forged (willingly or UN-willingly) memories.
He doesn't know it (yet), but his eyes bare the same empty, nerve-deep, heartless mark that Schillinger's eyes have.
That same...*something* which will carry them through life in a disturbingly similar pattern.
The difference, that which makes them so UNlike, is that Keller senses it, instinctively feels the horrible abnormality; and it terrifies him.
He'll try to escape it all his life, through WHATever and WHOever.
Schillinger, on the other hand, will never even notice it, running his entire life through a particular pattern he's not even aware of.
And thinking, believing deep in his heart, he's no different from anybody else.
Or if he is...(--he's *better*.)
Better than the little slut called Chris Keller, that's for sure.
---end of part 5/10---
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