It was three years ago the 21st of November, the moon was full that night a most brilliant white. It gleamed above the old city of Charleston in the darkness when he first saw the boy on the Battery. He was straddled over a backpack and smoking a cigarette. So lean and tall, square-jaw and sexy, his color as black as the night and he was beautiful. He wanted him that instant and started sneezing, which regularly happened to him when he was aroused—was to sneeze before an erection. He couldn’t stop and tried to hold back the sneeze and erection more so out of embarrassment as he hurried down the steps hearing an echo of waves lapping up against the seawall and rushing pass other boys-all of them white and pasty-who made him go mercifully limp along with shadowy figures of dirty old men in cars with open pants and idle engines humming.
“Do you have a light?" he asked the boy immediately pulling a cigarette from the inside pocket of his checkered blazer underneath his wool overcoat.
“Sure,” the boy said, turning to light his cigarette, and in the flame of the light, the boy saw Abel’s eyes were hazel and fiery in the glow. He caught a chill, shook the match out and backed up stumbling over his backpack and falling against the guardrail.
"Are you alright?" Abel said.
"I’m fine,” the boy said stopping Abel’s unsought approach with the show of the white palm of his hand.
"I'm glad it was your backpack and not the seawall you tripped over,” Abel uttered laughing underneath his breath, “Else I would have dived into the harbor to rescue your beautiful body."
The boy rolled his eyes and sucked his teeth without troubling himself to comment. Abel smiled fully erect underneath his coat and studied the boy meticulously through a cloud of smoke. He was not necessarily skinny but full-bodied like a strong field hand from one of those rural Pee Dee counties like Florence or Williamsburg northwest of Charleston. He carried himself well in baggy clothes, Abel prayed were surely just that—baggy-but undeniably dirt cheap.
“Cold out, don't you think?" Abel said finally breaking an awkward silence between them.
“Yes,” the boy nodded and dropped his unfinished cigarette on the sidewalk mashing it out with the tip of one black rubber boot.
“What are you looking for?” Abel said.
“I’m looking for you,” the boy whispered looking at Fort Sumter in the distance and then into Abel’s eyes he stopped shaking, he wanted him and smiled wondering if it was big at all or the usual white boy small disappointment warranting no long-term repeats.
“My car is parked up the street,” Abel said grabbing the boy’s hand that was soft and tender like a girl’s and not like the callous hand of field hand. “Would you like to go to my car and warm up?”
“What kind of car?”
“It’s a silver Mercedes.”
“How old?” the boy wondered out loud more about Abel’s age than the car and jerked his hand away abruptly.
“It’s old enough, comfortable and reliable, I guarantee,” Abel replied.
The boy picked up his overstuffed backpack and they left.
Inside Abel’s car parked behind Adger's Wharf at the waterfront the boy offered a stale can of malt liquor beer he pulled from his backpack. They shared it along with one cigarette as the moon rose higher in the black sky changing into a dazzling white. It was that moment Abel leaned over and kissed the boy on the mouth and felt himself sinking, slipping into the slightly torn 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.