It was the bewitching hour. Cold, windless and uncomfortable for those accustomed to tropical climate even sporadically during the third season in coastal South Carolina. No matter the season, be it spring or summer or fall, men were as concupiscent in the third season on the first coldest night of November as if it were the balmiest night of August when panties were easier to lose.
On the Battery by a seawall fronting the harbor a half dozen boys braved an icy condition and shivered in unsuitable summer coats like withered flowers. Each awaiting the right companion to escape the cold and have something to eat. Other times a hit of dope, quick sex in a backseat and nothing more than that.
Abel Erikson stumbled on the top broken step up East Bay Street that led down the Battery and Murray Boulevard. Street lights were sufficient to see the boys in the distance posed against the seawall like juvenile delinquents in a police line up. Only one stood out. He squinted to see him clearly. The black one. The others all white. The black boy he decided he would have before the men in shiny cars steady pumping their brakes and blinking red-lights would take him for what they all suspected.
“Do you have a light?” he said with a cigarette cocked at the corner of his mouth, and the boy was smoking, too, and carrying a overstuffed backpack.
The boy’s ebony eyes probed and searched him, seeking a safer place. “Sure,” he struck a match and, lighting the cigarette, saw his eyes were hazel like murky fish water and a harshness behind it in the flame compelled him to shake out the fire immediately and back up.
He drew smoke into the back of his throat, swirled it around and let it stay for a while and then exhaled studying the boy’s lean figure. He liked it and licked his lips moving his tongue slowly over the thin top from left to right. He relaxed against the rail and stone and, grinning, crossed his legs at the ankles and his heels up against the base. “Cold, don’t you think?”
“Yes,” the boy nodded dropping his cigarette butt and mashing it out with the tip of his foot.
“What are you looking for?”
“I’m looking for you,” the boy whispered without looking up.
“My car is parked just up the street on East Bay,” he grabbed the boy’s hand and squeezed it firmly. His hand cold and soft like a girl's. “Would you like to warm up?”
Inside Abel's charcoal black Mercedes the boy offered a warm can of malt liquor beer he pulled from his backpack, and they shared it along with one cigarette.
As a full moon rose higher in the black sky changing into a dazzling white, Abel finally leaned over and kissed the boy on the mouth, and the loneliness of the empty night was gone. He felt himself sinking, slipping into soft platinum white leather seat, losing control and wanting it.
This kiss, the helpless way it made him feel, captivated him so, leaving him no hint of the dark machinations yet to come, no hint of the relentless downhill spiral that would eventually lead to murder...