Dennis jumped from his seat so fast that he almost tripped over his chair. The Police were at the front door and The Boy From The Woods was sitting at his kitchen table. “Adam,” Dennis whispered urgently. “We need to hide you.”
Adam looked up at him and smiled, his hands sliding back and forth against the smooth surface of the wooden table. “Sitting,” he said plainly and leaned forward to smell the wood.
“Adam, please,” Dennis tried again and tugged at the boy’s collar. “We can’t let them find you. Not yet.”
The boy seemed to become concerned with Dennis’s urgency and he stood up and faced him. “Is good?” he asked and placed his hands on the sides of Dennis’s arms.
“No,” replied Dennis. “Not good. We need to hide you somewhere.”
Adam looked up at the ceiling briefly and then cocked an eyebrow as he stared into Dennis’s eyes. “Oh.”
“Follow me, okay?” asked Dennis as he tiptoed around the table toward the stairs. “We need to be quiet.”
“Oh kay,” the boy said in a singsong voice. “Following.”
The two crept the long way around the table and approached the hall by the stairs. They could hear voices coming from the front door. The policeman was giving updates on the search for Adam. Dennis carefully peeked his head around the baluster to look down the hall from the bottom step. Unfortunately, Adam did the same.
“Looking,” he whispered as he leaned over Dennis’s head.
Dennis gasped and darted back behind the stairs, grabbing Adam in the process and pulling him against the wall. “Shhh,” he begged. “Come on, let’s go upstairs.”
“Oh,” the boy smiled, “kay.”
Tiptoeing up the stairs, Dennis then guided Adam down the hall to his room. “Let’s stay in here for a while, okay? Just until Mom says it’s safe.”
“Oh kay,” replied Adam, just as Dennis opened the bedroom door.
Adam cooed in awe as the door opened to reveal Dennis’s bedroom. At first Dennis thought it was because of his room, but when he entered Adam stayed behind to examine the door.
He studied it as if it were magic, slowly swinging it back and forth as it glided smoothly on its hinges, and then he leaned forward and sniffed it. “Wood?”
“Yeah,” Dennis giggled. “It’s oak, I think.”
“Oak.” Adam sniffed the door one more time before stepping inside and swinging the door one last time. The door slammed and the crashing bang echoed throughout the house so quickly that Mrs. Hayes immediately yelled up the stairs.
“Dennis! What are you doing?!”
“Sorry, Mom!” Dennis replied in a panic. “The wind must have caught it. I—I’ll close my window!”
Adam looked stunned. Still staring at the door, he leaned forward and poked at it and then looked back at Dennis. “Oh kay?”
“Yeah, but maybe we should sit down for a while,” he decided. “Come over here and take a seat.”
Dennis sat down on the edge of his bed and patted his hand on the mattress beside him. Adam looked at him and grinned as he shifted his feet back and forth on the squishy carpet. Then, twisting his feet from side to side as he walked, made his way to Dennis. “This oh kay!”
“Shh!!” Dennis struggled to keep himself from laughing. “Be quiet, okay?”
“Oh. Kay.” Adam turned around and sat next to Dennis on the bed, feeling his weight bounce up and down. His eyes widened with excitement and he placed his hands down on either side of himself and bounced again. And again. And again.
The springs were started to squeak, getting louder by the second, as Dennis started to panic while trying to prevent Adam from standing up and jumping on the bed. “Adam, please!” he begged again. “You can bounce all you want later. Just wait for the police to go, okay?”
Adam stopped bouncing and stared Dennis in the eye. “Oh. Kay.” he leaned forward, threw his arms around Dennis and tackled him down onto the bed and rolled over.
With Dennis now on top of him, their legs still dangling over the edge of the bed, Adam started to jiggle. Their bodies vibrated in a wave-like movement against the mattress while Adam chuckled as Dennis tried to muffle his sounds by placing his hand over the boy’s mouth. But then Adam licked Dennis’s palm.
“Ew, gross!” Dennis tried not to laugh as he snatched his hand away and wiped it on the bed. “That’s not helping.”
But Adam only seemed to become more amused and he tried to do it again.
“Adam, stop!” begged Dennis. “You’re gonna get us caught.”
The boy leaned forward, threatening his tongue near Dennis’s face, and the two rolled over so that Adam was now on top. As they rolled, Adam had grabbed Dennis’s wrists and pressed them down against the pillow above his head, leaving Dennis to wiggle uselessly.
“Please?” Dennis stared up at Adam soulfully, but Adam showed no sign of giving in. And, instead, extended his tongue, pressed it sloppily against Dennis’s left cheek and licked from his jawline all the way up to his forehead.
Dennis blinked rapidly, his face contorted with uncertainty, as Adam grinned wildly and smacked his lips. “Tasty!”
“No,” Dennis tried to free his hand and dry his cheek. “Not tasty. Wet.”
“Wet is tasty.”
“Okay…” Dennis giggled. “But it’s also messy.”
“So, umm, can I have my hand back, please?”
Adam smiled down at Dennis and nodded but still didn’t let go. Instead, he leaned further down, pressed his lips against Dennis’s forehead and slowly inhaled his scent.
Just as Dennis could feel the grip on his wrists loosening, Adam giggled, poked out his tongue and slopped it from Dennis’s brow to his hairline.
“Aww, man, Adam! Come on!” Dennis managed to free his hands and immediately reached for his forehead. “That’s not fair!”
Adam sat up, giggling and then pressed his index finger against his lips. “Shh,” he instructed.
Dennis lay still and listened but couldn’t hear anything. “What?” he asked as Adam quietly climbed off the bed and crept across the room.
Seconds later, the door opened. Adam grabbed hold of the shadowy figure who stepped inside, lifted him off the ground and spun him to the floor without as much as a thud.
“AH!” Keegan screamed and shielded his face. “Help!”
“Adam!” Dennis jumped from the bed and ran across the room. “It’s okay. It’s just my brother. You remember Keegan, right?”
Adam looked up at Dennis and then back at Keegan, studying him closely. “Oh. Kay,” he said and let him go. He then turned back to Dennis and raised his eyebrows. “Keegan, tasty?”
“What?!” Keegan panicked. “Denny, don’t let him eat me, please!”
Dennis gave his brother a wicked grin then shrugged. “Sure, he’s really tasty.”
“Denny, no!” Keegan screamed as Adam lowered his face toward his own, poked out his tongue and sloshed it sloppily against his cheek. “EWW!”
“Ick,” Adam’s face went sour and he backed away from the younger boy. “Keegan no tasty.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Dennis giggled. “My mistake.”
Keegan sat up and scooted backward, away from Adam, and wiped his cheek. “You guys are weird.”
“So? Are the police gone?” asked Dennis.
“Yeah,” Keegan said plainly.
“Well? What happened?”
Keegan shrugged and climbed to his feet. “I dunno. I wasn’t listening. But Mom says lunch is ready.”
“Lunch is good,” Adam piped in and left the room.
“Hey,” Keegan raced down the hall and jumped in front of Adam. “I thought he could only talk a little!”
“That’s what I thought, too.” Dennis started down the stairs. “Guess he’s a quick learner.”
Keegan raised an eyebrow. “Then… who taught him to lick faces?”
“Uh, I guess he learned that on his own.”
“Do you think we can un-teach him?”
Dennis shrugged. “I doubt it.”
Adam shrugged. “I doubt eet.”
“HA! Did you hear that?!” Keegan jumped in excitement. “I want to teach him stuff, too!”
“No way. You’ll corrupt him.”
“Nuh-uh,” Adam chimed and then looked back at Dennis. “Lunch good?”
“Yes,” Dennis giggled as he followed Adam down the stairs and into the kitchen. “Lunch is good.”
Dennis’s mom was pouring orange juice into glasses by the time they sat at the table. She didn’t say anything and Dennis could tell that she was flustered. Her hands were shaky and she appeared to be biting her tongue, just like she always did when she was nervous or feeling guilty.
“Mom, is everything okay?”
Adam sat down at the table, lowered his head down above the sandwich in front of him and took a loud sniff of the bread. “Lunch is good!”
A smile cracked on Mrs. Hayes face and she nodded her head. “It’s fine. I just don’t like lying to the police, especially when we’re the reason they’re all out there. And no, apparently, for no reason.”
Dennis frowned and sat down beside Adam. “Sorry Mom.”
“It’s okay. You’re probably right about this. Turning in Adam now would destroy him.”
“What did the police say?”
Dennis’s mother sat down beside Keegan and ruffled his hair. “They found something in the woods. They think it’s where Adam’s been living.”
“Really?” Dennis’s heart began to race. “We were just there. Adam brought me there to warm up before he brought me home.”
“I know. That’s why they came to the door. They followed the tracks in the snow.”
Dennis felt his throat become dry and he reached for his orange juice. “But it’s practically a blizzard out there. I thought the wind would have covered them up.”
Adam watched as Dennis put the glass of orange juice to his mouth and drank, then he reached for his own and lifted it to his nose. “This good?” He sniffed loudly then took a sip. “This good!”
In a matter of seconds, Adam’s glass was empty and he was licking the insides in an attempt to savour every last drop.
“Adam, we have more.” Dennis reached for the pitcher of orange juice. “See?”
“More?” Adam looked at Dennis then to his glass then to the pitcher then back at his glass and back to the pitcher. The empty glass hit against the table and Adam reached for the pitcher, grabbed it with both hands and began to drink.
“Adam, no!” Keegan jumped from his seat. “Mom?!”
“Adam,” Dennis reached for Adam’s arm. “How about you try your sandwich? It’s good too.”
The pitcher was placed with a thud against the table and Adam stared down at his food and belched. He then glanced over at Dennis, who had picked up his own sandwich and took a bite. “Good?”
“Mm hmm,” Dennis nodded. “Real good.”
“Oh,” Adam picked up the sandwich, “kay.”
Lettuce crunched and crumbs fell to the table, and the sandwich was gone in seconds. Everyone watched as Adam’s bulging cheeks strained to hold the food inside his mouth as he chomped with excitement. His eyebrows were raised as high as they could go as his enthused eyes darted from side to side. “Dis good!” said the muffled voice of Adam, already eyeing-up Dennis’s sandwich.
“You should slow down,” Dennis warned. “You’ll throw up.”
Adam swallowed and belched again. “Throw up?” He said in a dry squeak, which was quickly followed with a sharp hiccup.
“Yeah, like puke, vomit, spew, up-chuck?”
“No, Adam,” Dennis chuckled. “Not good.”
“Oh. Kay,” said Adam as he stopped and stared across the table, down the hall.
“What’s going on in here?” Dennis’s father stepped into the kitchen.
Adam stared at the man, still standing across the room, and smiled a toothy, bread-slopped grin. “Lunch is good.”
“Dad, I…” Dennis stood up. “He saved me.”
“He can talk?” Dennis’s father stepped closer. “Have we called the police?”
“They were here,” Mrs. Hayes stood up to face her husband. “I told them we haven’t seen him.”
“Because he’s a human being, Eddy. That’s why.”
Dennis’s father looked dumbfounded. “Cheryl, I’m sorry. It’s just—there’s a wild boy eating lunch at our table.”
“Yeah, I suppose I should have called to let you know,” decided Cheryl. “It’s just, the police came to the door seconds after they arrived, and,”
“I get it. Let’s just focus on what to do next.”
Keegan raised his hand. “I vote he takes a shower. He smells funny.”
“And maybe we could find him some real clothes,” added Keegan’s mother. “I bet Dennis’s clothes would fit him.”
“So it’s settled,” said Mr. Hayes. “After you’re done eating, Dennis, take…”
“Adam,” Dennis filled in.
“Take Adam upstairs to get cleaned up. Wait, he has a name?”
“Of course he has a name. Doesn’t everyone?” replied Dennis.
“Yeah, but that would mean someone named him.”
“Nothing,” Mr. Hayes stepped back and rubbed his face with both hands. “So, I’m assuming you’re all right then? Nothing bad happened to you?”
Dennis nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Good. But no more running off, okay?”
“Oh, kay,” replied Adam, causing everyone to laugh.
“Then it’s settled,” said Mr. Hayes. “Finish eating and help Adam get cleaned up.”
“Uh,” Dennis shifted in his seat. “What do you mean help?”
“Well, I’m guessing your new friend has never used a shower before. He’s probably going to need a hand.”
“And I’m meant to help him?”
“I don’t think he’d let anyone else, Denny,” said Dennis’s mom. “He seems quite comfortable with you, though.”
“Just show him what to do,” explained Mrs. Hayes. “Take him upstairs to pick out some of your old clothes and help him in the shower.”
“I’m supposed to shower with him?” Dennis wasn’t sure if he was nervous or excited; definitely embarrassed. “I don’t know.”
“Come on, Dennis. The only other option is to get outside help.”
“Okay.” Dennis sunk down in his seat.
“Oh kay,” said Adam, and he grabbed Dennis’s hand. “Is good?”
“Yeah,” Dennis giggled. “Everything’s good.”
“Come on, let’s go get you cleaned up.” Dennis stood up, still holding Adam’s hand, and gestured for him to follow. “Coming?”
“Oh. Kay,” replied Adam as he reached for the remainder of Dennis’s orange juice and quickly gulped it down. “Following.”
The two made their way back up the stairs and inside Dennis’s room. Dennis sorted through his dresser drawers for something that might fit Adam. “You’re probably not ready for jeans yet, huh? How about these?” Dennis pulled a pair of sweats from the drawer and held them out in front of himself to show Adam. “Good?”
Adam stepped forward and touched the material. “Oh! Good.”
“Right then, halfway there.” Dennis turned back around and fished out a plain white tee and socks, followed by a pair of boxer-briefs. “You ready for this, Adam?”
Dennis nodded with a smirk. “Yeah, it’s good. Come on.”
“Oh. Kay. Following.”
Dennis’s heart was pounding. He wasn’t sure what was going to happen when they were alone in the bathroom, but his head seemed to have a few ideas—and not a single scenario was G-rated. What’s worse is that he wasn’t even sure where the thoughts were coming from. He’d never thought like this before; not in so much detail anyway, and definitely not about a boy. Mostly. But now that he was going into the bathroom with another boy, closing the door, closing, closed, it was too late to back down.
“So, this is the bathroom,” Dennis explained nervously as he turned to take a towel from the shelf.
Adam turned around, staring at the walls all close together. “Is good?”
“Umm, yeah. It’s good. You, uh, need to get cleaned up, okay?”
“You don’t understand me do you?”
Adam raised an eyebrow at Dennis and shrugged. “Is good,” he said and then turned around to face the toilet. His eyes widened and he immediately dropped down to his knees, and before Dennis could say anything, Adam had his hands cupped together in the toilet and was about to drink.
“Adam, no!” Dennis slapped the water from Adam’s hand. “That’s gross!”
“No,” Adam stared up at Dennis. “Is good.”
“No, Adam. If you’re thirsty you use the sink. The toilet’s for, uh, pooping.”
Adam glared down at the toilet then back up at Dennis then back down at the toilet. “Ick,” he said while waving his hands in front of him to dry them. “Why?”
“Umm, I dunno. We’ll come back to that later, okay? Right now we need to get you clean.”
“Oh,” Adam stood back up. “Kay.”
“Uh, heh, you’re going to have to strip; if that’s okay.”
“Oh kay,” replied Adam, but he didn’t move.
Dennis wasn’t sure what to do. Adam obviously didn’t understand. “You have to, uh, take off your clothes, Adam.”
But Adam just stared at him and smiled.
“Watch.” Dennis walked over to the shower and turned on the water.
“AH!” Adam jumped back and pressed himself against the door.
“Wait, Adam come back, it’s okay.”
Again, Adam didn’t move.
“It’s good, promise.”
Still, Adam refused to come closer.
“Crap.” Dennis stepped away from the shower and reached for the bottom of his shirt. “Here, watch. Like this,” he said while pulling his shirt up and over his head. “Now you, okay?”
“Oh?” Adam curiously stepped forward. “Kay?”
“It’s just water; to get you clean.”
“Yeah,” Dennis nodded. “It’s really good.”
Adam had apparently caught on and tugged the furry coat off of his shoulders and let it fall to the floor. He then looked down at Dennis’s shirt then back up at Dennis. “More?”
Dennis nodded. “Yeah, more.”
“Oh kay,” said Adam as he reached for Dennis’s pants and gave them a tug.
“No! Adam! You, not me,” Dennis giggled as he backed up and pulled his pants back up.
“But is good.” Adam cocked an eyebrow, smiled and went for Dennis’s pants again.
“Okay, okay! Stop, I’ll do it.”
Putting his hands at his sides and gripping his pants, Dennis yanked them down to his ankles as fast as he could. He had hoped that the speed would counter the embarrassment, but it didn’t work. The moment he stood back up, his pants still around his ankles and three-quarters in the buff, it happened. He could feel his cheeks begin to burn and ears tingle—a genetic anomaly he had somehow inherited from his mother’s side.
Dennis stared at the ground, his eyes unwilling to look anywhere else, and hoped that Adam wouldn’t need any more hints to get him in the shower.
“Is good?” asked Adam, who had stepped closer to Dennis.
“Uh, yeah. Good.”
“Oh! Oh kay!” Adam said in a strange squeal then dropped his furry pants to the floor. “Is good?”
Dennis glanced up at Adam, who was standing naked in front of him, and blushed even brighter than before. “Okay, uh, time to get you cleaned up.”
“Oh.” Adam stepped even closer to Dennis and snatched his underwear down to his ankles.
“AH! Hey!” Dennis panicked and attempted to pull them back up, but Adam stopped him.
“Now is good.”
Dennis looked down at himself, then over to Adam and back at himself. “Crap.”
“No,” Dennis couldn’t help but laugh. “It’s nothing, okay? Let’s get you in the shower.”
Adam looked over at the streaming water, behind the fogging glass, and shook his head. “No. No-no-no.”
“Really? Come on, Adam. You smell kinda bad.”
“No,” Adam looked strangely offended. “Is good.”
“No, Adam. Not good. Really kinda bad.”
“Yeah, really, really bad.”
Adam looked down at the discarded clothes on the floor. “Oh. Kay.”
“Come on then,” Dennis tried again and grabbed Adam’s hand. “Following?”
Without looking up, Adam whimpered once then asked Dennis one last time, “Is good?”
“Really, really good. Promise.” Dennis stepped backward into the shower, holding Adam’s hand the entire time.
When Adam stepped inside and felt the water splash him for the first time he jumped back and screeched in surprise. “Hot! Is hot!”
Dennis couldn’t help but laugh as he pulled Adam even closer into the water. “Yeah, it’s hot… Probably should have mentioned that, huh?”
“Is hot!” Adam opened his mouth and chomped at streaming water. “Good!”
“Really real good!” Dennis chuckled.
“Is real-ee good!”
“See? I told you,” he said in relief as he looked down at the shower floor. The tiles were covered with swirled black, spinning round and round and getting thicker by the second. “Geeze, Adam. Don’t you bathe in the woods?”
Adam didn’t pay Dennis any attention, though. He was more concerned with hogging the falling water, and inch by inch he’d shove Dennis further into the corner. “Is real-ee real good!”
“Yeah,” Dennis reached toward the soap dish and picked up the bar. “You should try it with this. It’s even better.”
Adam looked at the bar of soap and the up at Dennis as if he were crazy. “Is no good. No-no-no,” he shook his head and turned away.
“No, really. It’s good, see?” Dennis slid the soap along his chest and down his left arm. “See? It’s slippy.”
Adam turned back around and stared at Dennis’s chest. “Slippy?”
“Yeah, slippy. Smells good, too.”
Adam grinned. “Is real-ee real good?”
“Definitely. Give it a try,” Dennis tried again and offered the bar to Adam.
As soon as Adam grabbed it, however, he squeezed too hard and it rocketed from his grip, hit the shower wall, the glass and then, finally, circled several times on the tile floor. Adam’s eyes widened with excitement and he started to laugh; really, real hard.
“See, I tried to warn you. Slippy.”
“Is real slippy!” Adam chuckled as he bent down to retrieve the soap, but every time his hand came in contact with it, the bar would slip away again. “Is fast!”
“Really fast!” Dennis giggled. “Here, let me help.”
Dennis crouched down next to Adam and the two attempted to pick up the slippy soap. Unfortunately, every time Dennis came close, Adam would try and grab it from him, causing the bar to dart away again.
“You gotta be gentle, Adam. If you squeeze too hard it’ll keep running away.”
“Is good!” Adam continued to chuckle until, finally, he managed to secure it in his hand.
Adam held the bar using both hands and very slowly stood back up. “Oh. Kay,” he agreed but continued to stare at it.
“You rub it on your skin,” Dennis reminded him. “It’ll make you clean and smell really good.”
“Real-ee real good?”
Dennis nodded. “Better than you’ve ever smelled in all your life.”
Still holding the bar with both hands, Adam slowly directed the soap toward his chest and slowly slid it up and down. After a moment of awkwardness, he looked up at Dennis and raised an eyebrow. “Is good?”
“Um, yeah. But you don’t need both hands, do you?”
“Is hard,” Adam squeaked. “Slippy.”
“It’s okay. Let me show you?”
“Oh?” Adam looked down at Dennis’s open hand then at the bar then carefully secured it in his palm. “Kay?”
“Thanks,” Dennis said with a giggle. “This might tickle a bit,” he warned as he placed the bar against Adam’s forearm and slid it up to his shoulder. “Then you go back down again,” he explained, “and round and round.”
Adam shivered and laughed. “Is good,” he said softly.
“See? I told you.” Dennis moved the soap to Adam’s chest. “Just wait until we get to the shampoo.”
“No,” Dennis giggled. “Shampoo. It’s to clean your hair.”
Dennis nodded. “Really real good.”
“Oh!” Adam said in a squeak and grinned. “Kay!”
As Dennis continued to clean Adam, watching his hand sliding up and down the boy’s skin, his body started to react, making the situation all the more awkward. He couldn’t help it. He wanted to look away, to stop himself from thinking, perhaps even run away screaming, but it was like he was frozen in place. His hands were the only things he had control over, and even they were starting to betray him. They were gliding over someone else’s slippery, wet skin. His fingertips could feel him. He was smooth and soft and warm. His sun coloured skin was toned and healthy from head to toe, despite the cold winter months. And then came the V.
Dennis had been trying not to look. It had taken all of his inner strength, which was quickly depleting. The water was streaming down the boy’s chest, gliding over his suds-covered tummy then funnelled directing down the V-like shape to places unknown—until now. Dennis couldn’t help it. It was impossible not to. The situation he was in just didn’t allow an alternative. The guilt was overwhelming, but the temptation was even stronger. Dennis tried to overcome it, to wait it out. The feeling couldn’t last forever, after all. Unfortunately, he was already staring, and so was Adam.
Adam simply smiled when their eyes met and they both realized what the other was doing. He stepped closer, a smile still on his face, and wrapped his arms around Dennis’s waist then pulled him closer. “Dennis is good,” he said and rested his head on Dennis’s shoulder.