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Spring Cleaning

ISSUE:  Autumn 1987

May. But the snow had only just melted, new grass begun, rising, and the trees were not yet risking leaves. Dick Felt stood on the porch of the rambling summer hotel with his coat buttoned tightly to his neck. He watched deer grazing in the distant hollows of the golf course. When spring came, this world would be unceremoniously tumbled into summer. Leaves would burst out overnight, birds would flock in as if they had hatched with the black flies, and the heavy thunderstorms of June would flood streams not yet relieved of the winter run-off. He had seen it in other years, had learned not to come before mid-April, no matter how much earlier spring arrived in the Carolinas or how much he had to do in overseeing the opening of the place. He had been manager for 30 years, and this would be the last. Then he would live with the milder shifts of seasons in South Carolina, where he had bought a small home near Charleston with most of his savings. If he was permitted to live much into retirement.

Not that he was ill or even had signs of approaching failures. He was 60 and had blood pressure that needed watching, but so did most of the people his age he knew. His father had lived until he was 75, and he assumed he carried those genes rather than his mother’s. She had died when she was 55 after an adulthood of heart problems. And anyway, they had operations now that would have added years to her life.

No, he was more afraid of the mind. He had heard too often of people who lost interest in living after they retired, whose spirits did nothing to defend the body. Dick intended to remain active. But he was already on the board of directors of a winter resort near his new home, had been asked to be a financial consultant for the board of trustees at a nearby junior college, and his younger half-brother Phil and his wife lived not far away in Savannah. They had four children, and Dick often said they more than compensated for his unmarried, unfathered state. He would not miss the peremptory treatment he could receive from wealthy, pampered guests, the cheating of suppliers, the squabbles and scandal among employees, the hazards of nurturing grass on a northern golf course easily damaged by too much or too little water.

But he would miss this—eight-thirty A. M. oh a May morning with a bright sun in a cloudless day at last showing the strength to burn into the chill earth, a tamed chipmunk scurrying along the boards of the porch nearby, distant deer occasionally lifting their heads or shying with a few high-stepping paces, white flags raised, before settling into grazing again. Or, if he let himself gaze off toward that irregular but somehow perfect shape of the nearest coned mountain, he would even admit he would miss one of those rare August nights when absolutely everything ran perfectly, all guests served the right wine, all beds made and folded down in time, the movie running without breaks in one lounge, the muted violins accompanying some discreet dancing in another. On such nights he understood that all the struggle with unbalanced accounts, pacifying Mrs. Gildersleeve’s certainty that she had been slighted by the operator, having to cancel lobster night because the whole shipment came through long dead, were simply to attain the juggling feat of one perfect night when guests, 100-year-old floorboards and staircases, pastry cook, tennis pro, a congregation of brats, and assorted fat, tiny pets all whirled in space in a circle impelled by his hands..

Deflating that morning’s euphoria, the figure of the boy Seth came into sight at the bend of the driveway below Dick. The hotel was situated on a high plateau among a circle of mountain peaks, and the driveway rose steeply from the wooded valley below. The boy did not seem to be in any hurry, pausing from time to time as if he were trying to find some sign of an animal he had been stalking. He would hold still, his face turned down to the driveway, then perhaps lift a hand slowly or glance quickly up to the sky. But he never seemed to look toward the porch where Dick waited.

The boy’s hair was long and hung in a ponytail down his back. He had pale blue eyes and a pale skin to match so that he reminded Dick of a white, furred animal, perhaps a malamute, who might merge with a whirl of snow and disappear. He rarely smiled and tended to speak with a slight frown as if he had to concentrate hard to make his lips move. But Dick had seen him as a child in the summers, and at that stage he had been as noisy and intractable as any of the children who had to be herded into the mountains for hikes by counselors the hotel hired as Pied Pipers. So he tried to think the boy’s quiet intensity was only a stage.

“Sorry I’m late,” he said when he reached Dick and stood on the edge of the porch. “Couldn’t get a lift.”

“Too bad you’re not on the other side of town. I could pick you up on the way, then.”

“I don’t mind walking. Sometimes one of the crew picks me up, but they’re still at the lake.”

Dick nodded. The boy had been sent to work with the crew at the lake where the camps were, but he had made the men nervous. He was so quiet that they began to assume he was listening to them, and they stopped being able to gossip freely among themselves. Besides, he was a summer person and they had little to say to him. “He don’t even know a two-by-four when we ask him to fetch it,” the foreman had said to Dick when he called from the ranger’s camp to say he was sending Seth out. “Better if you find something for him to do up your way.”

“That house of yours warm enough these nights?”

Seth nodded. “I sleep on blankets in front of the fireplace. Sometimes it’s too hot.”

“You let me know when it gets bad. You’re welcome to—”

“I’m fine.”

They stood in silence for a moment. The boy almost never initiated conversation, but Dick was not certain what to talk about, and often his attempts were not encouraged by Seth’s preoccupied responses.

“You’re eating all right?” But the boy seemed to be watching the deer move in a straggling line toward the woods. “Your age, I couldn’t cook an egg. Marge does a good job down at the diner.”

“I don’t eat much,” the voice said vaguely toward the empty golf course.

“Well, let’s get started, I’ll show you the implements and open up the rooms in the west wing.”

Dick turned to the dark oak doors of the main entrance, but Seth’s voice stopped him, a monotone that nevertheless seemed taut. It made Dick jittery, and sometimes he could hear it now in the silence of his own quarters, a cabin the hotel maintained in the valley for the use of the manager.

“You don’t have to find something for me to do. I can get by.”

“It’s all stuff someone has to do. Might as well be you.”

“I’m sorry I made them nervous. I like it at the lake.”

“They’re just not used to—,” but he paused, uncertain if it was right to make those distinctions with the son of one of the club’s prominent members. After all, he himself was probably closer in status to the working men than to Seth Raymond’s family.

“Not used to people like me.”

“I guess.” But as he pushed open the doors and waited for the boy to enter before he let them swing back, he wondered how Seth would define those differences. There seemed to be many ways in which he was unlike the others, not just in breeding.

“You think I’m strange, don’t you?”

Dick did not look at the face of the figure walking beside him through the shrouded lobby where even the moosehead over the mantel was draped with a sheet.

“I’ve met stranger.”

“I decided last night that was what I wanted people to think. I act strange, but I’m not really. I’m showing off when I do that. I want people to think I’m different.”

Dick had never heard the boy talk so much without prodding. He reached the main light switches and flipped them on, a necessity since all the windows on the ground floor were still shuttered and boarded up. But he did it also to reassure himself. Seth’s voice was so slow and eerie in tone that for a moment he wondered if he ought to be alone with the boy. Was he capable of some crazed violence?

“Oh, I don’t notice anything like that about you.”

“But I am a stranger,” Seth continued as if he had not heard Dick. “Stranger to the people I try to work with, stranger to my family, stranger to myself. Last night I set up a mirror in the living room near the fireplace and stared at my face for one hour without looking away. By the end I couldn’t recognize anything. There isn’t anyone there.”

Dick held still. The pale blue eyes did not blink for a long time. The boy’s mouth was shut tightly.

“Here, now. Let’s sit in the office a while.”

“Nothing more to say,” Seth said as they moved through the lifted counter.

But Dick sat in the swiveling chair behind the desk and motioned Seth to the accountant’s stool.

“It’s time you quit living in that house by yourself. You come down to my camp for a few nights.”

Seth’s head shook. Dick never liked watching that long hair move in its rope down the boy’s back. It made him uncomfortable to think of having all that hair, especially when he imagined how his own parents would have reacted if he had ever done such a thing. But he knew if Seth were his own son, he would have to endure such things. His brother Phil had two sons and long hair was the least of the problems they presented their father with. Besides, the boy did not flaunt it. He flaunted nothing.

“You talk like that and I worry. Staring at mirrors in an empty house. Look. It’s hard enough for an old galoot like myself to be alone sometimes, but at least I’m used to it. You’re young. You should be with other people.”

Seth let a laugh escape. “I am. I’m lots of people. That’s the problem. I don’t really have a me like most people.”

Dick began to feel that pressure of his own inarticulateness that the boy always brought out in him when he tried to talk to him. He could not understand why he wanted to explain everything to Seth, to argue him out of the odd, tortured ideas that he occasionally expressed. He had developed a genuine concern for the lad and had wondered even on that first night when Seth had appeared at his door, a refugee from a job in Florida, why the boy could make him feel like a vexed father. Surely his own son would not have been like this, polished by a good boarding school, drop-out from an ivy league college.

“Oh, we all feel that way sometimes. I mean, I do something strange and I wonder who I am. But you don’t have to dwell on it.”

“I don’t. It’s just that way.”

“Spend too much time by yourself and all you can do is think.”

“Are you afraid of thinking?”

“No, no. I don’t mean “thinking” that way. I mean thinking about yourself. All this deep stuff about who you are and so forth. Too much is bad.”

“Your mind does what it wants to do. Can you stop thinking when it wants to think?”

Dick tried to lean back and look at ease with his leg crossed, but he was getting tense. He could not see the boy’s eyes clearly because the desk lamp cut a shadow across the upper half of Seth’s face.

“Well, I can remember when you and Jim Biddle let the air out of everyone’s tires during the annual picnic. What were you thinking of then?”

“That wasn’t me.”

“Come, now. We knew who did it.”

“No, I mean I didn’t know anything then. My mind never bothered with itself then.”

Dick sat forward, “It’s those schools you went to, isn’t it? All that learning that’s going no place. You need some direction for it all, Seth, something you want to do. When I was your age I had to scramble. I read and learned a lot, but I had to figure out where I was going. You need—”

But the boy was riffling a pad of receipts on the table beside him. “Did you call my parents?”


“So they know I’m here.”

“Well, I thought it best. That first night, I was worried.”

“They don’t care, really.”

“That’s not true. I’ve known your mother for years.”

“So have I.”

In fact, Kitty Raymond had not been very interested. “He’s turned up there? He never writes. His uncle saw him in Virginia some weeks ago.”

Dick had tried to reassure her that he would give Seth a job, something to do for a while.

“That’s good of you, Dick. But don’t be disappointed if he walks out on you. We simply can’t get him to stick to anything these days. His father’s furious about the way he quit Dartmouth, after all the trouble we went to getting him in.”

By the end of the conversation, Dick had been embarrassed, as if his call had been an imposition, and he was also a little annoyed that she had not recalled who he was for a few minutes in spite of the fact that he had known her when she was a teenager and her parents had begun coming to the club. Finally with relief in her voice she had said, “Oh, Dick Felt. Of course. I have you so connected with summer that I simply couldn’t place you for a while.”

The office was a large, high-ceilinged room, darkly paneled like the rest of the hotel and still filled with much of the furniture and fixtures from the early part of the century. The board of directors had offered to modernize the office once, thinking that Dick would want that and was probably miffed because so much had gone into the new kitchen and bathrooms without upgrading his own facilities. But Dick had refused. He liked the old wooden filecases, the slanting accountant’s table and its high stool, the coat hooks made from the curved hooves and legs of deer. He and Seth sat quietly for a while, and somewhere far over them a loose shutter began thumping in the rising wind.

“I’ll have you keep an eye out for that while you’re cleaning. Probably needs a new clamp.”

“It’s going to snow.” Seth stared into the lobby.

“No.” Dick was genuinely shocked. He had not turned on the radio that morning, but the sky was so cloudless, the sun so mild that he saw no reason to doubt that this was spring at last.

“By afternoon.”

“Not now. Not in May.”

“Six to ten inches.”

“I’ll believe it when I see it.” He stood. The idea of snow was discomforting, even ominous, but he was relieved to be talking about the weather. He could not follow much of what the boy said. The first night Seth had come to Dick’s cabin because he knew no one else in town very well. He had been drenched by an ice storm when the bus dropped him at the junction two miles north of town. At first Dick had not believed him when he said he had been working at a hotel in Florida. “You’re too pale.” But Seth had been a night bellman. “I slept during the day.”

That evening he had taken the glass of bourbon Dick offered him, “to cut the chill,” and had rambled on intensely, making leaps of association that Dick could not follow, about the nature of Spirit and Matter and whether there was a gulf between the two that made man hopelessly divided since he was part body, part soul. All this had reminded Dick of the class in philosophy he had taken just after he had retired from his winter managing job in Charleston. He had been trying to improve his mind. But now he could not remember what all the answers were that he had read, so he had nodded and listened to Seth and tried to ask questions which only puzzled Seth further. “Well, I mean—” Dick would begin when trying to explain the connection between what he had asked and what Seth said, but he only ended up sweating, turning down the thermostat, tossing all night in half-waking dreams where he stalked phrases that would have set the boy’s mind at ease. The next morning he had made Seth some breakfast and driven him up the road to his family’s summer house.

“You won’t keep warm there, Seth. You’d better take me up on my offer.”

“I need to be alone.”

But Dick knew those summer homes. No insulation. No running water in winter. The boy would have to lug that from the brook below.

“If you change your mind—”

But Seth was saying his thank yous on top of Dick’s voice, and then the car door slammed. As he turned around in the narrow slot between tall pines, Dick watched the figure walk to the steps and pause. He had a way of rising on the balls of his feet with each stride that Dick recalled even from the boy’s childhood. He was still standing with the knapsack slung over one shoulder, staring at the roofline as if something were perched there, when Dick began driving down through the woods. That was the first time he had felt the vacancy in himself, had put it into words by thinking. “That could be my own boy, my son.” But he also felt the figure was himself, as if only part of him were steering carefully over the narrow bridge and the other were slowly rising up the stone steps with a key in hand.

Cleaning was the only job he had been able to think up for the boy. He could not carpenter or plumb or do the finicky lawn work on the bowling green, so he had asked him to begin cleaning the hotel, room by room. There was always a residue of mouse droppings, some fallen plaster, perhaps a dead bat or two and stains from places where the melting snow had backed up against window frames and leaked in.

“I’ve never seen this place without people in it.”

Dick laughed. “Well, you will now. All of it.”

They left the office together and Dick led him to the equipment room where the brooms and dust rags and pails were kept. Then they took the stairs to the third floor, walking slowly since Dick’s right knee had never fully healed after he twisted it in a fall three years before.

But as they climbed the stairs that snapped from unaccustomed weight after a winter of disuse, Dick could not help seeing the place through Seth’s eyes, and this was disquieting. The long corridors looked so drab and empty. Each room he opened, with its rolled mattress and draped furniture, was a blank chamber that trapped and dulled the daylight. Here the windows were not shuttered, and he could see out toward the course, the flagpole, the slopes of the mountains. But even the landscape had a disheveled, negligent look to it. What he saw was indecisive, not one season or another, waiting for something but not urgently. When he recalled Seth’s weather forecast, noted that already a pewter tinge was dulling the brightness of the sky, Dick wondered if this was really the place to leave the boy—bearing dustpan and broom and cloths in a deserted beehive with chamber after chamber of neglect.

They came to the end of the corridor and the last room. Dick walked in and some fallen plaster cracked underfoot.

“Look, now. Just take your time. And if it gets too chilly, come on down to the office. I’ve a heater there.” But the words were lame. These rooms, suffused with the morning’s sun, were warmer than the lobby had been.

“No one would want to stay here if they could see this. We never see things the way they really are.” Seth turned away from the room to stare out the window.

The brass bedstead did look particularly drab and dilapidated when not filled with its mattress and the elegant ruffled counterpane.

“It’s different in summer.”


On the roof was sprawled the carcass of some large bird, reduced by the long winter and its various thaws to shreds of sinew and feathers. The skull was bare, eye sockets rimmed by delicate shelves of bone.

“Must have flown into the wall, or maybe the window. We’d better shove it off.”

But Seth did not seem to hear him and was still staring. “Dead matter,” he said. “That’s all.”

Dick was annoyed to be staring at it like that. “I said let’s knock it off.”

Still the boy did not move. Dick’s pulse began to lift. He wanted to order the boy gruffly, even to take him by the shoulders and shake him. “Here, stop all this staring and muttering, Get on with it.”

Instead he unlatched the window and flung it up. The sash weights thumped. He reached for the broom and pushed at the carcass with the handle. A wing flapped loose and began sliding over the edge. He reversed the broom and swept at all of it with the straw end. The dead bird rolled into a confused mass over the edge and out of sight. Then he swept wildly at the remnants of bone and flesh until only a dark imprint was left on the shingles. Because the end of the broom had touched the dead bird, he was certain he had some remnant on his hands. When he came back into the room, he was out of breath, and after leaning the broom against the wall he wiped his hands up and down his pants legs.

“There. Easy come, easy go,” he tried to say lightly, but his heart was pounding. The boy had turned away, was lifting a dust rag from the box he had carried up. “Well, that’s it, then. Need anything else?”

“No. Thanks.”

Dick leaned toward the boy’s back. For a moment he thought he would start yelling something or would grab the boy’s arm and spin him around. But yell what? Angry for what? Instead he walked to the door, did not look back when he said, “I’ll be in the office,” and strode to the elevator, thinking he had better make certain it was in good repair. He stopped at each floor, and by the time he was in the lobby again he was calm. He sat at his desk and leaned back for a few moments with his eyes closed. Suddenly he felt like calling Phil. “Boy, do I understand now what you were saying about Mikey a few years ago. They can really get under your skin, these kids.” But he would not. He thought of Phil often but rarely communicated directly. When he used the telephone, he always seemed to reach his brother at the wrong moment.

He worked hard all morning on orders and on replying to various letters from members requesting reservations. In many ways this was his favorite time, the month or so when he could have the place to himself, watching it and the season slowly open up. He could see to repairs with no interruptions, could look through catalogues and arrange for a future that each year he liked to believe would go off as planned. Winter damage this year had been minimal, the crew on the lake had even reported no incursions by bears or the thieves who sometimes snowshoed in from the north on old logging roads. In another two weeks some of the staff would begin to arrive, trusted employees who had been with him for at least ten years—Beth Dee who ran the house crew, Francis Lintot the chef, and his accountant Al Moulton. They would work through the days, each knowing what to do, lunch together in the spacious main kitchen where Fran, as they called him before the season began and it was necessary to be more formal in front of guests, would have prepared some little speciality for them to eat with the lunches they had brought. Beth was widowed, the other three all single, although Al had nearly married twice and liked to joke about the occasions as “near misses.”

By mid-morning Dick was not concentrating on the requisition form in front of him but reminiscing. This had been happening to him often in the past weeks. He had not been able to subdue the autumnal haze that surrounded all his acts this year. When he had turned the key to his cabin and entered to find all the small objects and mementoes of his 30-year occupation still in place with only a winter of dust to be shaken or rubbed from them, he had stepped over the threshold and paused. He had the eerie sense that he had walked through the opening in a time machine. From then on everything he did was being performed “for the last time.” He emptied the hearth of fallen clinkers and the ashes of summer’s final fire—for the last time; he spread the comforter and sheets on chairs in front of that evening’s fire to freshen them—for the last time; he drove up the road to the hotel slowly, savoring that moment when the bend would take him through the trees and the first view of the rambling, turreted structure of the hotel—for the last time. He tried in subsequent days to ignore the new vision, but finally knew he could not, So he gave in and found each day was full of repetitions and yet intensely unique. Enjoy, he said to himself, even opening a bottle of wine with his dinner occasionally to sip a glass or two alone. He had earned this. And so he began to believe that he had put all those years into this job just for these days, these last repeated gestures that no one but he could fully appreciate.

But at times he wanted to tell all this to someone, and he looked forward to the arrival of the others, Even though they were not retiring, they would understand if he told them a few things about how the place had looked when he first arrived or rambled through one of his stories about old man Angus Nicholson, the founder of the club. They would even understand those days when he felt a tugging close to pain because sometimes he did not want it to be the last time. Sometimes instead of reminding him of how often he had performed an act in the past, the act forced him to look forward into a future with no clear functions. But Dick did not believe anything could be gained by dwelling on painful matters. If you did not look into them deeply, they often withered away. Pay attention to a pain and you only feed it.

When time for lunch came, Dick left his desk, walked through the lobby, and out onto the porch. The boy had been right. The sky was covered with a heavy, seamless lid of gray, and the air was decidedly chill and damp. He even suspected the haze he saw on the furthest ridges was a snow squall. Well, he would turn on the second electric heater in the office and call the boy down to eat lunch with him. He would tell Seth some of the morning’s memories—about those rooms the boy was cleaning (almost all enclosed some story he could tell), or perhaps about Seth’s grandfather who had won the August golf tournament whenever he entered it. What the boy needed was some entertainment, something to get him outside himself.

At the bottom of the stairs he called out, “Seth? Seth?” His voice had a peculiar resonance there, smothered by the draped lobby, drawn upwards into hollowness by the empty, spiralling stairwell.

He thought he heard a door slam on the third floor.

“Hellooo. Seth?”

Still no answer. Dick took a few steps up, then paused. Maybe not. He could not help thinking of Seth’s tense, uneasy manner. Better, perhaps, to leave him alone. He had told him to come down if he wanted. No need to drag the boy around. After all, he was almost a man and could look after himself. He had to learn how to tough it out. But for a little while Dick felt slightly guilty. He had to admit he was avoiding him much as the work crew had. They were right, though. Seth’s presence, no matter how silent and polite, was somehow oppressive. And telling Seth about the hotel’s past would be almost impossible. The boy would somehow turn any conversation around to his obsessive questions and speculations. “Too deep for me,” Dick would have to say again, irritated at Seth as if the boy were only trying to show up Dick’s ignorance.

Seth did not appear for lunch, and after he had thrown the empty bag in the trashbasket and swept the crumbs off his desk, Dick went back to work, concentrating hard to make up for his lapses of the morning. The heater ticked off and on. A few strokes of rough wind shook the windows behind him, but by mid-afternoon he had worked his way through half of the accumulated correspondence. The season was already well-booked. He would have to work hard to stay on top of things this summer.

But again he began losing his concentration. He would hear Kitty Raymond’s voice, or see the shape on the roof where the bird had rotted, or see Phil when he was seven and their father had died, a boy in a dark suit rented for the occasion, his eyes wide and unblinking, an image that had made Dick, who was 28 at the time, vow to remember all he could about their father over the years and tell him, tell him. He put his pen down and rubbed the tense lines above his nose. Of course, the boy had not really cared to listen, and whenever Dick had tried, the attempt always seemed so self-conscious that Phil would walk away or turn on the TV. Phil’s mother certainly never even tried. Why was he thinking of Phil now? He stood and went to the window, unlatching the inner shutter.

The air was full of fine, light snow falling so thickly and through such still air that he could hardly see the long shed where the lawn equipment was kept. Snowing. In May. He had seen it before, and he knew better than to believe in its permanence. By tomorrow there could easily be as much as a foot of it, but just as easily the first clear sky would expose it to the May sun, and then everything would be bright, sparkling, and fluid. But this time he could not see that sunny day clearly any more than he could see the shed. The snow clung to everything it touched, weighting down the bows of the nearby maples. His own body felt heavy, his pulse a slow, mechanical thumping in his ears.

The sleeves of Phil’s rented suit had been too small, exposing the cuffs of his shirt. But in his brother’s place, Dick saw the pale, unhappy face of Seth Raymond. He imagined the boy was standing three stories above him, staring out a window at the same view. They were both watching a large, fiercely black crow flap across the space between the shed and the maple. The bird moved so slowly that the snow and landscape seemed to be shifting past the stationary crow. It clutched at the limb of the tree, shaking down white bars of snow. He thought of the boy looking at the crow and of how Phil had tugged roughly a few times at the unaccustomed tie as if he were strangling. Dick imagined opening the window as he had the doors to the rooms above, turning the key with one hand, the cold knob with the other. What he saw beyond the threshold was the view of tree and crow and shed and falling snow, and superimposed on it, hanging at about the level of his eyes, were the scuffed boots, the frayed denim legs of Seth.

He turned and bumped his chair as he ran toward the stairwell. He was calling, “Seth, Seth,” as he plunged upwards, and even though his knee nearly buckled with pain he kept taking the stairs two at a time. On the second floor he paused and tried to listen, but he was out of breath, his pulse beating so wildly that he could hear nothing, so he stumbled on. Down the corridor. The door was open. He stopped just inside.

Seth was standing at the window, his back turned. The room was not any different than when Dick had left him there.

“Didn’t you hear me?” Dick had to catch hold of the doorframe.

The head nodded.

“Well, what’s going on here? You haven’t done anything. This place’s still a mess.”

The boy did not turn or even lift his hands. Beyond him Dick could see the grainy sky.

“Answer me, damn it.”

He walked toward the boy. He was going to shake him up good this time. Have it out. Enough of this. He wouldn’t put up with it anymore.

His hands reached out and tugged at the boy’s shoulders. He shook him hard, once. The head gave a jerk. The body seemed very lax, as if suspended.

Dick’s throat constricted so tightly that any words he might have wanted to say could not come out. The figure turned, but he did not let go. Seth lurched into him, and Dick found his arms circling the shoulders, his hand patting roughly against the back. The boy was weeping, shuddering in uncontrollable sobs and moanings from a face burrowed into Dick’s chest.

“Help me, help me,” were the words he heard, and Dick clung, uncertain if the voice were the boy’s or his own.


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