PLEASE READ: Once again, I add another warning. Or an extension to a pre-existing one. Glimpses of abuse will now be changed to glimpses of sexual abuse. It will NOT be detailed, but some memories of it will pop up during nightmares later on. I’ll try to keep everything as non-explicit as I can, because sexual abuse has always made me squirm. I’m surprised I even included it in the story. And I apologize if Roy has come off as out of character so far. I’m trying to convey that he’s grown jaded over the years. He’ll get better as the story progresses, though.
Chapter 2: Uncle Jimmy
Roy was lounging in one of the trees at the owl sanctuary (which was, not that he particularly cared, against the rules) when Lonna and Beatrice Leep found him three days later. He could tell at a glance that Beatrice was very concerned about something and that Lonna was hopping mad. It didn’t worry him as much as it should have.
“Eberhardt! You get down here, boy!” Lonna’s harsh voice called from the base of the tree, her sharp-nailed hands on her hips.
“Excuse me for my rudeness, ma’am, but I can hear what you came to say from up here,” Roy said flatly, aware that this woman was to blame for her son’s absence. “I’m not coming down until I’m good and ready.”
Lonna Leep’s face scrunched up in frustration, distorting her beautiful features. When she spoke again, her voice was taut and angry.
“How dare you tell that doctor you were staying with me! And give my number to your country trash relative!”
“My ‘country trash’ relative is standing right behind you.”
James Eberhardt looked nothing like Roy’s father, except for the blue eyes. He had honey-brown hair, a pointed jaw, rough hands, a farm worker’s body, and was short for a man his age (about five nine). The clothes he wore were well used - tatty Wrangler jeans, a faded cotton button-down shirt, and work boots - and his skin was slightly weather beaten from exposure to the elements. If Roy remembered correctly, James was five years younger than his father had been. Lonna looked at the man with poorly concealed disgust.
“Mrs. Leep, we spoke on the phone,” James’s deep voice rumbled, showing no indication that he’d heard her last comment. “Thank you for leading me to him. He won’t be causing you no more trouble, I assure you.”
Something in the way he had said it made Roy shudder. Beatrice and he shared an anxious look.
“Come on down here, Roy. You need to get settled into your new home.”
Roy would have liked to stay in the tree, as far away from his uncle as possible, but he knew that James would climb up to get him if he did. He scrambled down quickly, not wanting to anger his new guardian any further. James put one of his calloused hands on Roy’s shoulder and smiled crookedly at the Leep women.
“Guess I’ll be seeing you around town,” he said as a good-bye, giving them a joking salute.
His grip was so tight that Roy felt his bones creak under the pressure. He bit his tongue, knowing that Lonna wouldn’t and Beatrice couldn’t help him. As he was steered toward his uncle’s pick-up truck, Roy morbidly wondered what was in store for him. A few slaps to let him know who was boss? A full-on beating to break his spirit? Maybe even death? All were possibilities that he didn’t find particularly appealing. They drove to his uncle’s house in silence, the kind of loaded silence that preceded a major event. Roy gazed out the window at the passing landscape, once again appreciating Florida’s natural beauty. But then that made him think of Mullet and he looked at his lap instead. He had never wanted his friend with him more than he did now.
“Get in the house,” James said roughly, interrupting his turbulent thoughts. The truck had stopped.
It could hardly be called a house. The paint was peeling, the shutters were dangling, and one of the windows was broken. There didn’t seem to be a neighbor for miles. Roy felt trapped just looking at it. But he did as his uncle told him and got out of the truck, trudging to the house’s front door. James unlocked it, making sure to keep an eye on Roy in case he decided to run. The kitchen was sparse and unused, which was pretty much all Roy could observe about it, because he was quickly shoved into the next room. There was a living area and again, that was all Roy knew as he was herded through it. He was finally given a reprieve in the last room on the first floor - a small guest bedroom. James closed the door behind them and locked it. Roy felt panic bubble in his stomach, hot and sickening, and bile rose up in the back of his throat.
“Want to know why my wife left me?” James asked in a would-be casual way.
Roy really wished his uncle would have just beaten him. He shivered, cold and exhausted, drawing the blankets of the bed around him more securely. James or ‘Jimmy’, as he had been instructed to call him, had left some time ago to have dinner. Roy wasn’t allowed to eat until he became more cooperative. He’d rather starve. A shrill ring suddenly cut through the oppressive silence, making him jump half a foot. His cell phone was still in his jeans pocket. Roy wondered if it was worth the effort to answer. It was probably Beatrice and she couldn’t do anything for him. But eventually, his sense of courtesy won out and he reached over the bed to fish in his discarded jeans.
“Roy!” Beatrice shouted in relief when he picked up. “I’ve been calling you all afternoon!”
“Really?” Roy said distantly, shifting onto his side. He winced. “I didn’t notice.”
“How could you not notice?”
“I was busy being violated.”
There was a tense moment while that information sunk in. Then Roy heard what sounded like a retching noise.
“Oh, Bea, don’t get sick,” he murmured, regretting his blunt approach. “It’s all right.”
“All right?” Beatrice was high-pitched, on the verge of tears. “You’re the one who got… and you’re comforting me? I have to get you out of there!”
“How? It’s too big of a job for one person.”
Beatrice took a deep breath, determination practically leaking through the phone.
“It won’t be done by just one person, Roy.”
Roy turned suddenly sharp-edged, clutching the cell phone.
“I thought you said you didn’t know where he was!”
“I don’t… But I’m almost certain that he visits his old haunts,” Beatrice took Roy’s anger in stride, her confidence building. “All I have to do is leave a note at each of them, telling him that you’re in trouble. He’ll come find me and we’ll start working on a plan.”
“Bea,” Roy said hesitantly, desperately. “Don’t tell him about the… Just tell him that I was beaten.”
“Thank you,” Roy sighed gratefully, running a shaky hand through his messy hair. “Call me before you do anything, okay?”
Beatrice agreed reluctantly, still unsure about not telling Mullet the full story. Roy knew she would keep her word, though. After some mindless chatter, Beatrice’s attempt to get his mind off what had just happened to him, they both decided it was time to hang up. Beatrice needed to get to work on the plan and Roy wanted to use the restroom that was connected to the bedroom. A nice, long shower would be nice. He could scrub every inch of skin James had touched. Somehow, though, he didn’t think that would make him feel any less dirty.
Author’s Notes:I don’t understand why I like writing angst so much. In fact, I’m slightly horrified with myself. Fortunately, Mullet will appear next chapter. Prepare for the rescue! Though don’t expect it to be easy, since I’m the one writing it… Yes, I do realize that Roy or Beatrice should have just called the police. However, I don’t think they would, considering their past experiences with the law. Detective Delinko would be the only one who would believe them immediately and he’s a great character, but he can be dense sometimes and probably wouldn’t be able to convince the sheriff to file a case against Roy’s uncle before James would kidnap Roy and skip town. Sorry about my rambling and I’ll see you all next chapter! Once I find it…