Fade to White
A freshly lit cigaret burned slowly in Jerek’s hand as he raised it to his mouth, gazing out at the trees below his window. That girl. After he had finished chopping wood, she had asked him to stay for dinner with the explanation that it was in payment of all that he had helped her with. He had refused. She had been more insistent, however, that he should borrow her horse to get back home, and he would have never gotten away without agreeing to ride the thing. It was an old brown stallion, evident from the fact that the slump in its back was deep, yet despite that the girl seemed to love the horse and was very adamant in obtaining his promise that he would bring it back as soon as he could.
Yet there was something that irked Jerek. How could a farm exist so close to Nosaj’s castle, and he not even know about it? Breathing in deeply and sucking on his cigaret, Jerek then exhaled and watched as the smoke floated in front of his eyes. If he had known, the place would have been ransacked and burned a long time ago, but for some reason that thought bothered him even more.
Sharply bringing his hand down, Jerek hung it out the window to hide the cigaret as a loud bang of the door being slammed against the wall announced Nosaj entering the room. They stared at each other for a moment, both of their faces betraying no emotion, before Nosaj’s lips curled and he started to grin.
“Don’t bother Jerek,” Nosaj said laughing, “Everyone knows, and nobody cares.” Walking up to Jerek, he held out his hand. “Mind if I have one?”
“This is my last one,” Jerek replied, keeping his hand down and the cigaret hidden.
“Oh.” Nosaj seemed thoroughly disappointed. “I’ll have more sent to you. I came to ask you something. Your horse returned some hours ago alone. Why?”
Jerek pointed to the cut in the side of his head. “I was attacked by a bandit. If he’s not dead already, he will be soon.”
“Why of course, those fools will do anything for a scrap of bread or a few coins, but what about the horse you came in on?” Tapping his lips with a long crooked finger, Nosaj looked down at Jerek.
“Belonged to the man, I suppose,” Jerek replied calmly, turning his attention back to looking out the window.
Failing to get the hint, Nosaj continued, “I imagine you’ve had a busy day. That girl you brought in earlier, perhaps you would like to have her first?” Jerek remained silent, so Nosaj added, “Should I have her sent in then?”
“Ah, perhaps you’d prefer Ramo then.” Nosaj chuckled.
Spinning around, Jerek flung the only thing he had in his hand at the quickly retreating figure of Nosaj, but the cigaret fell harmlessly on the floor short of its target. Stomping angrily, Jerek marched up to and slammed his bedroom door shut, locking it. Walking over to his bed, he got down on his hands and knees to retrieve a small box from underneath, pulling out a new cigaret and match.
Irritated, Jerek yelled “What?” in reply to the bubbly voice.
“Jerek! Unlock your door and let me in,” Ramo called, his voice muffled through the wood.
“Ever consider that doors are locked for a reason?” Jerek muttered to himself.
“Nosaj asked me to talk to you. Let me in.”
“Oh all right.” Tossing the cigaret out the window, Jerek unlocked the door. In a blur of black shiny leather, Ramo had his arms around Jerek’s neck and his cheek pressed against Jerek’s chest.
“I’m so glad that you’re alive! I was worried about you.” Ramo looked up at Jerek with a glistening light in his eye and touched the cut on the side of Jerek’s head. “This looks awful!”
Taking Ramo’s hand quite forcefully in his own, Jerek thrust it way from him, but Ramo’s arm snapped right back around Jerek and he clung even more tightly.
“Get off me,” Jerek growled.
“No,” Ramo replied.
Losing his temper, Jerek shoved Ramo away from him and hit Ramo across the face with the back of his hand.
Ramo touched his stinging cheek gently and with a hurt expression looked at Jerek. “I’m sorry . . .” he whispered, turning his face away while Jerek grunted and shifted uncomfortably, looking over Ramo’s head at the door. “As I said before,” Ramo’s voice shook, but as he talked it stabilized, “Nosaj asked me to speak with you. He’s worried – and so am I – about your sexuality.” Blinking in surprise, Jerek took a step back. “The problem is, you haven’t ever done it once, and that’s just not healthy. If you want, I could . . .”
“Woah, woah, woah!” Jerek sputtered, then yelled, “I most certainly will not! Get out!”
“But Jerek –”
“GET OUT!” Moving forward, Jerek physically shoved Ramo out of his bedroom, shutting and locking the door with the resolve to never open it for anyone ever again.
Sitting down on the window seat, Jerek once again turned his head to the outside, but this time he didn’t see the forest. They would be back later, and more insistent than before. He had to . . . suddenly Jerek’s eyes came into focus as an escape planted itself in his mind. Deciding to wait for now, Jerek retrieved another cigaret to pass the time. He would finish this one before leaving.