It was the bewitching hour. A cold, windless night. Desperate men seeking gratification with young college-age boys drove slowly around the block and seawall fronting Charleston harbor at White Point gardens.
All like vultures looking for boys in the black, lonely November night, and a full moon.
Abel Erikson, a native Charlestonian, president of EriksonEnterprises, a business conglomerate of bookstores, art galleries, media publications and a minor league baseball owned team, was one of those like a vulture pursing a boy. The boy he eyeballed in the dark was poised like a black Adonis up the steps of High Battery and at first sight the boy scrutinized him back and puffed on a cigarette.
Gingerly he approached and kindly asked for a light, and the boy nodded and obliged his command.
Close up the boy's face was the color of caramel chocolate. A pretty face with an ample mouth and plush lips eager to please. With a slight accent the boy sounded like a native Barbadian more so than low country uneducated South Carolinian. Queen Ester Island, where the boy proclaimed birthhood, was a tiny sea island of former slave descendants who made their living selling island grown cabbage, tomatoes, red beets and sweet potatoes. The island was situated midway between Charleston and the resort of Hilton Head and city of Savannah.
The boy had a car, an old beaten Pinto hatchback, parked up High Battery on East Bay Street. The hood of it a blue hue contrasted the frame's dull yellow. Inside the car the boy offered a warm can of malt liquor beer they shared along with one cigarette and Smokey Robinson crooned about "Cruising" on the radio.
As the full moon rose higher in the black sky changing into a dazzling white he leaned over and kissed the boy on the mouth, and the loneliness of the empty night was gone.
He was sinking, slipping into the slightly torn vinyl 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...