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Last updated Feb 12, 2019
It was three years earlier the 21st night of November in Charleston at the end of the hurricane season when they met on the Battery. The moon was full, and a half-dozen boys swaddled in unsuitable summer coats shivered against the seawall between Ashley and Cooper rivers looking for Mr. Right. Abel Erikson was one of those Mr. Rights that night on the Battery looking to meet none of them at first sight until he stumbled and saw the only black boy there smoking a cigarette and an overstuffed backpack by his feet which made Abel's ears burn, tingle and he smiled.
“Do you have a light?” he said approaching the boy with a cigarette, the only one he carried for such an occasion, cocked at the corner of his mouth.
“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 and backed up.
Abel stared at the boy meticulously. He wasn’t necessarily skinny but full-bodied like a strong field hand like the people from one of those rural Pee Dee counties northwest of Charleston. He carried himself well in cheap baggy clothes Abel prayed were surely just baggy but undeniably tattered and dirt cheap. No, he didn't look fat at all and was impressed the boy had no Southern accent. “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 boot and blushed because his boots were the worse for wear, and he was ashamed.
“What are you looking for?” Abel said directly.
“I’m looking for you,” the boy replied soberly.
“My car is parked up the street. Would you like to go there and warm up?”
“What kind of car?”
“A Mercedes. A dusty kind of red with leather seats. Old but very comfortable.”
"Of course," the boy smiled for the first time. "I prefer older."
Abel caught the boy's hand and, glancing the boy's gleaming white teeth and black face, he wanted to kiss him then.
Inside the car, the boy offered him 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 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 . . .