"He can hide in the closet," Zeno was thinking to himself out loud; then sternly repeated, "You can hide in the closet until he's gone."
"Hide in a closet?” Patrick sneered, got out of bed, looking furiously for his underwear. “That's absurd! I’m not hiding in...a closet." He found his underwear, pulled them on and reached for his pants and realized he'd put his underwear on backwards. He started over. "What about out there on the sundeck? Behind one of those potted cypresses. You know, that big middle one. It reminds me of you?"
"What do you mean it reminds you of me? Are you talking about my hair?"
"Of course not, silly. I meant your tool."
"You know the length of that beautiful crazy horse of yours? Hmmmm," Patrick grinned, laying back down and gazing an elaborate high ceiling. "It gave me such spine-tingling satisfaction. Last night, I felt like I died riding it and went straight to heaven. Man, who needs purgatory."
"Heaven or purgatory,” Zeno said. "I think we're closer to hell right now. Whatever. It wouldn't work your hiding there. You got to get your ass up."
"I'll turn over in a hurry, daddy," Patrick smiled, stretching out his arms. "Just come here and give it to me."
"Patrick. I'm not joking. This is a serious matter."
"Like my needs aren't?"
"He's coming up here. I have to hide you. We haven't time for anything else except hiding you."
Patrick sighed and sat up reluctantly. He pouted and looked again at the sundeck. “Those pots. Man, they're fucking huge. They could hide a couple of swines.”
“Not big enough."
“Are you implying I’m fat?”
Zeno rolled his eyes and went over and pulled the drapes. Then hurried to the door. He listened as Zelta and Abel argued not far away from the foot of the spiral stairs. Zelta’s door slammed violently, extinguishing their argument. Then Abel’s footsteps creaking across the floor and soon echoing up the stairs to the master bedroom. "Sorry Patrick," Zeno hastened back into the bedroom and pulled Patrick up by the arm. “No fucking time-"
"You gotta hide," Zeno opened the closet door.
Patrick tiptoed around him, glancing in the closet and then at Zeno. "This is not at all romantic, Zeno Elliott," he whimpered, "A person could suffocate in there. Just how many furs does one person need for San Francisco anyway?"
"They're not for San Francisco."
“If only we were there. Sibera. I would never stop kissing you, and we wouldn't need a big fur because we wouldn't feel the cold-"
Footsteps, then rapping at the door. "Zeno?" Abel called and knocked again; then tried the doorknob. "Are you awake?"
Zeno shoved Patrick into of the closet and pulled the door gently. He sprinted back into the bedroom as lithe as a cat. "Yeah!" he stalled, shoving clothing, poppers, used condoms, whips and wigs underneath the bed. "Abel? I'm just getting up,”--Patrick’s steel-toe bike boots followed underneath the bed-- “Is that really you out there?"
"Of course it is I. Aren't you going to open the door and let me in, so I can tell you how much I've missed you?"
"When did you get back?" Another delay. Zeno scrutinized the room and swallowed, noting crumpled sheets in disarray.
"Why just a little while ago. I came home early to surprise you."
"I'm very surprised,” said Zeno, pulling a short white robe over his nakedness and in the mirror studied how his legs looked in the robe that was brand new. "Did you fly your own jet?"
"Flew my own jet? I supposed I could have, but no, I have a pilot for that. I came home early because, well, tomorrow is your birthday."
"My birthday?" Zeno glanced at the calendar on the opposite wall over a oak antique desk in a corner. Tomorrow was, indeed, 20 November. His birthday. He’d forgotten it purposely since it never actually mattered to anyone other than Matthew back home.
"Zeno?" Abel tried the doorknob again. "The door, Zeno! Are you sure everything is all right in there? You sound terribly distraught."
He threw the comforter over the bed, brushed his fingers over his nappy morning hair and walked gingerly through the entryway, glancing cautiously at the closet before opening the door.
Abel crossed the threshold like a dictator and met his lips with strict urgency. He looked him over abruptly, then turned and sauntered into the bedroom. "My, oh my," he nodded, sucking-in his teeth. "Please tell me there was an earthquake last night. That epicenter was centered right here at the top of Pemberton steps in our master bedroom. Of course, you slept right through the entire thing." He turned, observing Zeno from head to toe with sharp hazel eyes.
"There wasn't an earthquake," Zeno said calmly. "None that I know anything about."
"Of course not. Obviously you slept right through it. I'm only elated that you survived it completely unscathed. Why you're as fresh and as beautiful as you are every waking morning. Not one hair out of place."
Zeno wanted to laugh, imagining his hair out of place. How could it really be out of place or even noticeable if it were? He chuckled and had to cover his mouth to refrain.
"You think the matter to be funny?"
"No sir," he cleared his throat; and then coughing as if smoke was blocking his airways. "I do not think you’re funny. Not at all."
“I didn’t mean I was funny. But how I’ve ascertained the situation that you apparently find humorous, and I do not.”
“Yes, that, too. No. No. I don't find it humorous. Not in the least.”
"Zeno. Zeno. What am I to do with you?"
"Well, you could always kiss me again."
"What's that ghastly aroma?" Abel fanned his hand across his nose.
"It smells like burnt grass and semen..."
"That's strange. I-I can't smell anything."
Abel went over to the table where he found a marijuana roach in a silver clip. "Zeno," he sounded, raking black remnants of dope in his hand. "Were you smoking dope last night?"
Zeno hung his head shamefully; then confessed he had smoked a joint and a bowl or two.
"A joint, a bowl or two?" Abel cried, coming to him and pulling his chin up. "You will look at me when I'm speaking to you, boy! Didn’t we consent you were not going to use drugs of any sort for as long as you lived under my roof?"
“As a reminder we did as long ago as just last week.”
“Yes, but I figured one wouldn't kill me, sir, or kill you, being it was my birthday and so I bought weed from someone I met last night to celebrate my birthday. I smoked it here. Right there where you're standing. Right there. Very much alone. It’s not that I could have invited Zelta."
"Then you understand?"
"So you smoked this bag of weed purchased from a street thug all alone?”
“How tedious that must have been? What did you do while you were smoking so alone?"
“What do you mean?”
“Well, did you watch porn? Like that dreamy wannabe actor Wade Nichols in Marishino Cherries? I think Nichols also did Barbara Broadcast and Jailbait, too. Did he not?"
"I don't remember."
"And that silly soap opera I've seen you watch without blinking, The EEEEdge of Night, where he played an unimaginable police chief with his clothes on for a change. Thank heavens! They didn't have him break out into a disco song flying like an eagle to catch bad guys. But with your insatiable libido I would wager a million dollars against the devil you watched all three skin flicks back to back until your skinny wrist just got plum tired?”
"Nothing like that"
“Then perhaps a comedy? The Apartment or maybe One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest just before you were beseeched with giggles. Then you hurried downstairs to the pantry. Surely, you found a can of Hormel Chilli and Beans to ease your impetuous munches? Or did you ring Maynard to serve you?”
"I didn't realize Maynard was here. I thought he'd gone to Charleston with you?"
"No," said Abel walking slowly over to the closet and stopping in front of the door. "He was here. I left him several chores to be completed, and they were. He was here in his little room and will fill me in on all the excitement I missed."
Zeno sweated, cleared his throat and hurried around Abel, pushing his back against the closet door.
"What do you suppose I should do about your inability to obey me?"
"I don't know, sir," said Zeno, squirming his back up against the door after he thought he heard Patrick stirring. He cleared his throat again.
"You don't know what, my boy?"
"I don't know what to recommend, sir."
Abel went back into the bedroom, pacing and beating his hands behind his back. "I've been most lenient with you since I brought you here and made this our home. I've given you ample opportunity to grow, to listen, to-"
"I have grown, sir-"
"Another thing, boy!. I will not be interrupted when I'm speaking to you. You are directed to speak only when I've asked you to speak. Is that not clear enough?"
"Yes sir. Clear. Understood, sir."
Abel went over to the wide windows and opened the heavy drapes. Sunlight had broken through the fog and the sundeck glistened. In the distance he gazed at the top floors of Bank of America Center and the triangle point of Transamerica, and the city below Twin Peaks was dazzling white and the bay turquoise.
"You're 21 tomorrow, aren't you boy?"
"Yes sir; 21 years old."
"Yet, you’re still as naive as you were the first day I pulled you out of a gutter a short three years ago in Charleston. I seriously considered how much I care about you during my recent business back in Charleston. The fact that I've loved you more than I've ever cared or loved another individual uplifted my spirit. I even told Marcel, my closest associate and friend, that I'd fallen in love with you all over again, that I'd forgiven you for all of those miserable times you hurt me being with others behind my back. Do you really know or can you even understand how much I love you?"
"No sir. I don't..."
"You mean the thought has never entered your flippant pea-sized brain?"
"No sir. Yes sir. I mean, I think that you do or so you've said that you love me. But I'm not inside of your head. I can only hear what you tell me. That's all I hear, all I know, sir."
Abel came to him, his face contorted. "There's a question I shall put forth before you now. I expect an honest answer."
Zeno swallowed, sweated.
"Do you, my disloyal boyfriend who have chosen time and time again to be an unfaithful whore, really love me? Your master who has faithfully paid all the bills and kept a roof over your head?"
"I do, sir. I love you as much as I ever loved you now or then back in Charleston, in Rome. I do love you. How could I love anyone else save you who have done so much for me. More than my own family who doesn't give a rat's ass what happens to me. It's you I love more than anyone of them whom I hate."
"Be careful, my boy, hate is a deadly sin. You may not be able to sustain the consequence."
"So it is. But that doesn't change how I feel about her...a worthless mother who was a whore. A sloppy backwoods alcoholic never there. An unscrupulous father who never tried to know me. His own son...I despise that rotten black bastard the most. Daily I curse them both to hell because hell is what they made of me. But not you, sir. You did not abandon me in my distress and all those miserable times I am as unstable as water. Please forgive me, sir. Yes, I love only you..."
Abel tore open his robe; then scraped his fingernails down his hairless chest hard enough to draw blood. "We share a common bond of maternal hate. How good is that? Perhaps, the time has come to insist you, my lover as you are, prove your incurable passion for only me...prove it far beyond sensations of position "69". After all you prefer acting a slut as you have been with that white trash, Matthew Rae, in Charleston, and countless other twerps from here to Rome. Because...because Zeno. Let's face it! Zeno Dexter Elliott is an Elliott after all...born with the same warped dignity. Incapable, most certainly, of not giving a rat's ass about past, present or future. I should treat you just as such. A common slut no lesser than the mother and father who bore you.” He groped him below his bellow button until it hurt. “I should have you fuck me and vice versa, you stupid black-hearted slut, until we’re both delirious, just like the slut you were the night I met you! The slut you will always be until the very day I personally remove you from this earth."
"I'm not a slut, sir. What happened with Matthew is over. He's there in Charleston - wherever. I'm here! Here with you because I have changed."
"Oh really?" Abel laughed sardonically.
"I've not been with anyone else in this town. I detest casual sex. I would never allow it.”
“You would never allow it?” scoffed Abel. “Do you think I am oblivious to your roguery? Why I’m so tempted to slap all the black off your face, Zeno Dexter Elliott. A handsome face. Yes, that it is. But behind that charming mask nothing more than a dangerous conniving man who must be stopped."
"Then do it," Zeno said matter of fact. "If it'll make you feel more of a man, why the hell not stop me?"
Abel brought the palm of his hand across his face mercilessly. Zeno shuddered, his face stung and wet with tears.
"Lament! Lament! you worthless piece of filth! Lament not for yourself but for me, for the fool I've been to have ever loved you!" Abel paused, tears welling in his eyes as he caught his breath. When he continued his weary voice cracked, "I had many plans this weekend to make your 21st birthday truly magnificent. Your 21st year. I remember it as a remarkable year in my own life, so long ago now. But it's a year worthy of celebration, a milestone for any man. I pondered over countless details of what I could do to make you completely elated, to love me even more than I thought. I know how much you adore that actress Trixxie Agra and since she's performing "Woman of the Year" at Golden Gate theatre, I thought I'd take you there to see one of your idols perform live on stage. Surely, you'd love me for that. Then we could have dinner at any restaurant of your choice. Top of the Mark overlooking the City or La Pergola in Rome if you so desired. We could fly to Rome tonight. I don't give a damn about cost. It was your birthday, our celebration. I wanted it to be a grandeur for you as long as I was there to share it with you.
Why I haven't stopped loving you beats all hell out of me when I should be a jackass to love you again. You're a user, Zeno. A pompous little ass who cares only about how Zeno looks in the mirror. Everyone else is a piece of shit unless he owns at least two Mercedes and a private jet. You're as gullible as my lunatic mother, my user of a brother Bernie and every other fool who thought they could deceive me and get away with it. Right now, I cannot stand the sight of you. Truly, I regret the day I even met you." He pressed his fingers to Zeno's throat just above his Adam's apple, tears streaming down his face. "Nigger! I should kill you! Should kill you for crossing me. A white man! A fourth generation Charlestonian. I was your master in bed and in life. Farchrisake! You deceived me as if I was invisible. As if I was a nothing more than piece of trash to be discarded into a recycled bend. How dare you! You miserable black filth. I hate you for it. And I know that someday I will have to hurt you. And that will be the end. The end of you, the end of our story..." And then his rage subsided like a calming breeze. He pulled away, quivering, unable to meet Zeno's startled eyes or let him see the remorseful tears in his own. He walked to the door battered, disappointed, and there he stopped in door, holding it with his back to Zeno.
"I expect this entire house scrubbed and left as spotless as if you were its sole servant. Forget about Rosa, Maynard or anyone else cleaning it. But you will clean every square foot of this house because I commanded it. As for me, I need a martini. A double shaken and not stirred. One week away from here and the sins of both you and mother are enough to condemn you both to the darkest pits of hell along with the Elliotts and Bernie, too. This room! This whole house is a pigsty. I suggest you get started cleaning it immediately; then maybe I can look at you. You’ll come to me in my study the first moment you’ve completed your task. You will kneel at my feet and beg my forgiveness. Then, perhaps, I can bare to look at you. Perhaps...maybe I will look at you and re-discover the boy, the man, I've lost and once cherished." He walked out subdued, exhausted, and pulled the door behind him.
Downstairs on the second floor Zelta peered out of her bedroom door. When she heard him coming she gasped and attempted to retreat, and he caught the door before it closed.
"It's best you stay clear of me, too, mother," he warned her. “I shall deal with you, too, in due time like I’ve dealt with Bernie and everyone else who ever dared to stand in my way." He pulled the door and went down the hall, determined to have that martini.
He flung open the French doors and stepped across the Tibetan rug to the bar. He mixed a double, very strong martini. Discipline, he thought, taking a swig. The boy and the mother would be disciplined Abel Erikson’s way, never again to misbehave.
* * *
"What kind of monster is he? Doesn't he know we won the Civil War, that you're not his blasted slave?"
"That's not it Patrick. That's not it at all."
"Then what the hell is it when he demeans you...as if he made you, as if he's some kind of a god?"
Zeno fell face down on the bed and closed his eyes. “I have to respect him,” he muttered.
"And to think, I respected you,” Patrick got up from the bed. “But this foolish relationship of yours with that beast, that monster! I can't understand it!"
"You're not entitled to understand it."
Patrick tiptoed over to the door and pushed his ear up against it. The house was as silent as a mouse. He made sure the door was double-locked and came back to the bed, kneeling on the floor. "I guess this was a one night stand?" he whispered, stroking the side of Zeno’s face with his fingertips.
Zeno looked down at him. "So it seems,” he said.
"I don't want it to be that, hon. I happen to like you, but I don’t like this way you're living. It's so demeaning when you're a class act."
"Thank you Patrick, but it's really my life. I'll live it as I please."
"Your life? According to that beast, that thing that just walked out of here, you don't have a life! That frustrates me."
"It's not your concern. Why should you worry about it?"
"You're afraid of him, aren't you?"
"I'm not afraid of him."
"Then why do you allow him to treat you with such indecency?"
"He doesn't treat me indecent. And really, he's not that bad. I'm the one who broke the rules. I disobeyed. I deserve punishment."
"That’s the most preposterous thing I've ever heard. You're a man, Zeno. Your own man first. You don't have to tolerate that beast's crap no more than I would, or he would allow from you. How do expect to become independent when he’s making all of the decisions?"
"He does pay the bills."
"What's stopping you from paying your own goddamn bills? What happens when that bastard dies, you haven't a job or any means of support? What will you do then? Find another master?"
"Abel is not my master! Neither am I penniless. I trust him and would not have any means to paint or sell any of my work without his support. No, Abel will never die."
"Like hell he won't unless he knows something I don't."
"Maybe I love him after all."
"You love him, Zeno, because you need him."
"You don't understand it, Patrick. Not at all.”
“Then help me understand, will you?”
“See, Abel is like my personal business manager. Actually, he is my business manager. I'm apart of Erikson Enterprise Corporation, a subsidiary we named ZEAF, an acronym for Zeno Elliott Art Foundation. I make money for him, he makes money for me. What's so wrong about that?"
"You're a silly fool for trusting anyone who talked down to you the way he howled. He treated you as if you were his own personal disposal property!”
Zeno gestured his middle finger at Patrick.
“I think you already have,” Patrick retorted. “And I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
“You’re definitely a good lay, even if you’re a bitch.”
“I’m not sure if I like being a called a bitch.”
“It didn’t seem to bother you any last night.”
“It was appropriate then for that situation. But I do happen to mine it, now.”
“Then I’d try never to repeat it.”
Patrick climbed back into the bed and crossed his legs over Zeno’s, and Zeno’s black skin felt soft and nice against his own. "I wish there was something more I could do to help you to see him differently. I feel terrible about all this. I want to help you somehow. I mean, I really enjoyed our making love and, it's not just that, I would truly love knowing you as a friend, and if there's more I'm willing to have that too. But I do wish you'd like yourself as much."
"What makes you think I don't like myself?"
"Because of this way you're living with him."
"I wouldn't be a painter if it wasn't for him."
"Don't you mean, Abel sir?"
"Don't belittle me."
"But you said so many times when I was in that closet I wanted to choke myself."
"Why didn't you just do it? Just choke yourself right then?"
"I would have, except I felt sorry for you-"
"Don't ever feel sorry for me, Patrick Delanney,” Zeno sprung up, his fist raised and ready to strike. “There’s nothing I feel sorry about, so don't you ever pity me. Do you understand?"
“You were going to hit me. You were going to hit me in the face.”
“It wasn’t your face in particular I wanted to hit...”
“Then you’re in love with him?”
“I used to worship the ground he walked on…a very long time ago.”
“Maybe it was not him you really loved, but the luxuries he has willfully provided.”
“I would be poor and penniless if it wasn't for that man, Patrick."
"The arrogant beast that he is?"
"Whatever!" Zeno pushed his back against the headboard and sighed.
"What makes you think your ass is any different or better than mine or anyone else's?”
“But my ass is different, Patrick. I’m a black man with a black ass, aren’t I?”
“And its a beauty of an ass like the rest of you.”
“Are you calling me an ass?”
“You are handsome and selfish. But yes, you’re more than an ass. You’re a class act I could easily fall in love. I truly have to see you again. I mean, the sex was wonderful and all, but what is sex really without feelings, without love? If we were to get to know each other, I promise I’d help you get a grant, or a job waiting tables, doing dishes or even an office job would do you no harm. Straight jobs don't mean the end of the world nor do they make you any lesser of an artist."
"I'm a painter first and foremost. I don’t do 9 to 5 nor do I have much interest in the working class.”
"Well, I’m a working class who just spent the night making love to your uppity ass. I wait tables and take office temp jobs not because I adore either of them, but because I have to stand on my own two feet without a sugar daddy to support me."
"Must you go on with this drivel when I really don’t care."
Patrick got up and went over to the door, hearing footsteps pacing somewhere downstairs. Again, he made sure the door was double-locked. "Where are the rest of my things?" he said.
"Underneath the bed, the sofa, all over..."
He pulled on his t-shirt; then looked pensively at Zeno. "You know, you really turn me on. I wish I could keep you with me always in my back pocket.”
“That would be a very tight squeeze fitting my big self into your little back pocket.”
“That would be kind of silly, wouldn’t it?”
They thought more about it; then both caught the giggles and they were friends again.
“Anyway I think it’s best you figure out a plan to get me out of here unseen or we could both end up buried in the garden by your lover. I’m sure he's the type who keeps a shotgun hidden in the house—just in case."
"I'll get you out, don't you worry. And yes, Abel does keep a gun—a Luger revolver—somewhere hidden in the house, just in case, he says."
"Just in case of a burglary he has undoubtedly informed you?"
"But of course. He would never threaten me with that Luger, Patrick. A burglar, yes. But I am not a burglar so why should he harm me?”
"He’s harmed you all right; but you’re too naïve to realize it.”
"He never will, Patrick. Not with that gun. It's as simple as that."
"For your lovely sake I hope it is that simple." Patrick wrapped his arms around him. "I wish we could do it again! It was so wonderful, our love making! We came together each time."
"Is it so important that we came together?"
"You bet it is, lover boy. You're much better than the little credit you give yourself. I wish I could tell you that every day until it finally sinks in that thick skull of yours. But for the moment, I should hide before that beast of yours were to burst in here again. I swear I’d kill the SOB if he lays a finger on me or you again."
"He won't hurt you."
"But what about you? He slapped you and call you those god awful names; then threatened to kill you with his bare hands?"
"I don't care what he does to me, but he won't hurt you. Besides his bark is worse than his bite. I'm not afraid and wouldn't let him hurt you or anyone else when I'm to blame. But you're right, I should hide you until I can get rid of him altogether."
"You'll be careful, won't you? I mean, I don't want anything dreadful to happen to you."
"You mean, you care about me?"
"I care everything and even more about you, sweet man."
"I am always careful. Besides it won't be so long before he passes out.”
"You know him better than I. I'm sure you're right.”
He stroked Patrick’s silky locks and thought of another blond from Texas he'd recently known. He hadn't forgotten him, didn't care to forget him. Patrick was as handsome and as sweet, but he wasn't sure if he could fall in love with him. The other he quietly worshipped. He wondered now just where he was? If his lover had come back to his loving arms? If they were making love right then or riding a cable car up the steep hill of California Street? Each time he had climaxed he imagined it was his green eyes embracing him, his name he whispered under his breath. The memories, as they were, he savored. He swept Patrick's bang from out of his eye and kissed him gently. "You're quite a jewel, Patrick Delanney. I enjoyed all of last night. We left nothing untouched. Thank you, my angel."
"Exquisitely done, my sweet man. We should both garner Oscars of a different sort for our performances last night. I hope we can see each other again?"
"Nothing has ever stopped me before. Why should I let it now?"
Patrick hugged him hard. "Then friends we'll be for life and even more if the stars should decide. I wish I never had to tear myself away from you."
Savagely their lips met as they tumbled back on tangled satin sheets; slender young black and white bodies locked around the other, excitedly pushing and grinding and not caring a damn if Abel walked into the room and blasted them both to hell with the Luger he kept hidden about the house–just in case.
* * *
Meanwhile, many miles from Pemberton steps in San Francisco, snow flurries had been forecast in tiny Alicetown in Alice county, Georgia, for early afternoon. But the sun managed to peek through an overcast sky calming a fierce wind howling in from the north. Later that afternoon in a bucolic Holiness church on a dusty backwood dirt road, Etha Lee Singletary-Belin-Davis knelt half-way down at the altar and grunted from arthritis burning in her swollen joints. She trembled before an unseen God who was kind and merciful and had uplifted her spirits through darkest moments. Feverishly, she prayed for Clarence’s soul already delivered. She implored as feverishly for Travis, the lover, come down from San Francisco. She begged for God's mercy, that Travis would be spared from this ugly thing killing off young men like her prettiest chile born who came home and died in his momma's bosom. She prayed hardest for Ty-rone to be delivered of hatred and that Ty-rone, too, would soon find inner strength, peace and courage to love unconditionally with forgiveness in his cold heart.
Not faraway and in back of the wooden Holiness church, the wind was bitter in a wide cemetery by a small field of four rows of collard greens and behind it a forest that stretched in a half-circle surrounding the field and church to the dirt road. Travis shivered at his lover's graveside marked by a white cross and, scribbled in the middle of the cross, Clarence's full name, Clarence Melvin Belin, was handwritten.
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” he muttered, dropping to the earth on his knees and grabbing a fist full of soil. “For we are dust. And to dust we shall return...”
Suddenly, the wind died. Little blond hairs rose on back of his neck. He froze, hearing something moving over a pile of dry leaves at the edge of the woods. He looked furiously around, sensing he was being watched. Then a gusting wind hastened back, tearing through the thick woods and slamming against the back of the old wooden church.
Dear God! It was true. He thought aloud. He had been exposed. Had possibly contracted incurable Red virus from Clarence. A hundred more men before Clarence. He could deny the tainted alien flowing through human blood, then slowly killing each white blood cell until there were none to fight back. Deep inside he suspected he had contracted it, too, was, in fact, a carrier of Red Virus. Please God! He entreated a God he knew very little about. Don't let it be true! Don't let the alien be inside of me, too.
He covered his face in the palm of his hands and wept...