Last updated August 1, 2018
November 21 in Charleston. It was three years earlier, the moon full and a half-dozen boys shivered in unsuitable summer coats on the Battery. Each with big hopes of meeting Mr. Right. Abel Erikson was one of those Mr. Rights who came to the Battery that night.
Leaving his car, a dusty red Mercedes, parked up East Battery Street, Abel stumbled up High Battery stopping at the top of the promenade steps to catch his breath and gripping the rail to prevent himself from falling. A silver American-made car moved slowly down Murray Boulevard at the tip of the peninsula underneath a row of Palmetto trees. It parked ahead of several boys poised on the sidewalk and blinked its brake tail-lights twice. One scrawny milky pale boy with sandy hair, lush lips and glassy eyes resembling all the others, save one lone boy, hurried for the car. He stooped over to peer inside, and the passenger door unlocked.
That easy, Abel thought, smiling at an African-American boy glowering back at him and awkwardly puffing a cigarette. The boy was separated from the others with an overstuffed backpack pushed up against one leg. Abel made his approach. “Do you have a light?” he said cocking a cigarette at the corner of his mouth and gesturing with his free hand.
“Sure,” the boy said striking a match and, in the flame, saw that Abel's eyes were hazel like the color of algae murky pond water. He shook the firelight out after igniting Abel’s cigarette and backed up.
He wasn’t necessarily skinny but full-bodied like a strong field hand, Abel thought. He carried himself well in baggy cheap clothes Abel prayed were surely just baggy but undeniably dirt cheap. No, he didn't look fat at all. “Cold out, don't you think?" he said as smoke billowed from his mouth.
“Yes,” the boy said mashing his cig butt out with the tip of his worn-out boots.
“What are you looking for?” Abel said.
“I’m looking for you,” the boy said.
“My car's parked up the street. Would you like to go there and warm up?”
Inside the car, the boy offered a stale can of malt liquor beer pulled from his backpack, and they shared it along with one cigarette. As the moon rose higher in the black sky changing into a dazzling white, Abel leaned over and kissed the boy on the mouth and felt himself sinking, slipping into the soft 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 . . .