The Last Handful of Clover

Chapter 2.32: Morning Sunlight

Book Two — Gifts Both Light and Dark

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June 13, 4:25 pm

This time it was not the hot tub that the Wanderer conjured from Richard’s mind. This time, it was his own bedroom. And the memory his adversary had chosen was one that could not have cut more deeply into Richard’s heart.

Keith was face up on the bed. He was naked, and the sheets were lying in disarray on the floor. Morning sunlight streamed through the venetian blinds, illuminating his lover in a striated, angelic glow. Keith’s eyes were closed, and there was a smile on his face.

Richard remembered this moment vividly. This was just months after the two had started dating. Keith still looked like the young man he had met in the hot tub. Even then he was shaped like a teddy bear, and his soft, round belly rose and fell rhythmically, as if he had just fallen into a gentle slumber.

Richard remembered the day.

It was late on a Saturday morning. They had just made love, the way they both liked the best. Keith’s hairless, soft torso and chest rose above Richard as he lay on his back. Keith straddled the older man and had moaned with so much unrestrained passion that Richard had worried that the sound would travel to the street. Richard’s cock had been deep inside his lover, and the sound of Keith’s moaning had taken him over the edge. The orgasm shook him with such power that he thought he might pass out. Only when it had passed did he realize that Keith’s lips were on his own, and his hand had been working his own cock. As they kissed, his lover gasped and Richard felt the hot stream of semen spraying between them, soaking both of their chests and bellies.

He was so young, Richard thought. In fact, we both were. Even though it had only been ten years ago, and he had been well in his forties, the years since then had taken their toll. Back then, they had rutted together with as much joy and abandon as he had ever known, and he had been convinced they would both live forever.

He looked at Keith’s naked body, now lying on the bed, the semen still glistening on his belly. This was exactly how he had looked when Richard came back from the bathroom, with a towel for them to share. But he remembered now he’d hardly needed the towel. Seeing him there on the bed, he had bent down, and gently licked the wet spots from the man’s belly, delighting in the taste of Keith’s seed, and knowing he had left his own deep inside him. Keith had giggled from the feeling, and his hand had toyed in Richard’s hair. The smile on his face that morning was one of the most beautiful things Richard could remember from their entire life together, and seeing it all again now felt like a knife, carving his heart right out of his chest.

As Richard stood at the side of the bed, looking at the naked body of his lover, he knew the Wanderer had chosen this moment from Richard’s memory intentionally. And he hated him for it.

At first, he didn’t see the old man. He must have been following behind Richard as he exited the bathroom. Eventually, the thing hobbled past Richard’s right shoulder, and made his way to the foot of the bed, where he too stared at the naked young man who laid there, smiling and waiting for his lover’s return. Then he looked at Richard who was suddenly acutely aware of his own nakedness. He wanted to cover himself with the towel in his hand, but found himself unable to move. All he could do was stare at the old man, as he eased himself down onto the foot of the bed.

Like both himself and Keith, the old man was also naked. The silent tableau was like the aftermath of some dreadful threesome, except that Richard couldn’t bear to look at the gray and wrinkled body of the creature. The contrast between the beautiful young man he had just made love to, and the disgusting old crone so near to death, could not have been more stark. Or disgusted him more utterly.

A paper sack full of curtain rods, he thought once again.

“He’s a chubby little thing, isn’t he?” the old man said, and he laughed, a high-pitched cackle that made Richard’s skin crawl. The creature looked up with a smirk on his face, and his eyes bored into Richard’s soul. “But I guess you like them like that. Young and chubby, I mean. Sweet and tender. This little piggy’s basted in his own juices, I see. I imagine you like them that way too…”

Richard tried to speak, but found that his throat was locked as securely as his limbs. He tried to free one and then the other, with no success.

“I know what you’re thinking,” the old man said, and had the temerity to reach out a gnarled hand and place it on Keith’s short, stubby toes. “You’re imagining what it would be like to be with this little piggy again. To fuck him, just like you used to. To make him moan the way you liked so much. To lick that spunk off his belly and actually taste it.” He sighed as if he was remembering it himself.

“It’s okay, Richard. I understand. You don’t need to pretend with me. I know you. I know that you’re remembering everything it meant to be in a body. To touch, to feel. To fuck. You’re just remembering what it meant to be alive.” The old man smirked and hooked a thin, bony finger in his direction. “And you’re imagining what it might be like to do it all again.”

Richard couldn’t speak. And he also couldn’t turn away, even though every part of him longed to block the vision of this death-masked old skeleton. So instead, he just stared at Keith, and the line of wetness glistening on his round belly. Tiny rivulets of semen were sliding down the curve now, and soaking into the sheets. The way his tears refused to do.

“You can’t stop thinking about it, can you, Richard? Being in a body again. It’s only been a bit more than a week, and already you long for it like a junkie longs for a fix.” The old fingers caressed Keith’s toes, and then slid trembling up the young man’s smooth shin, toying with the fine, dark hairs that lingered inside his knee.

Richard wanted to launch himself at the old man. To beat him until nothing was left but a red stain on the carpet. But this time he could not move.

“How will that hunger feel in a month, I wonder? Or in a year? Or maybe in a hundred years?” the Wanderer asked, his eyes sparkling with malice.

Perhaps the thing could actually read his thoughts, but Richard suspected he was just fishing. Of course he knew Richard must be thinking about possession—after what he had told him the last time they had met, that would be a safe assumption for him to make. But could he really tell what Richard was actually thinking?

 He tried to make his mind a blank. To not feel or show any reaction to the Wanderer’s words. He tried not to think about killing the old man. He tried not to think about the Fourth Gift. He tried not to think about making love to Keith. He tried not to think about anything.

Just listen, he repeated to himself. Listen and remember everything this psychopath has to say…

“Some of us here forget what it’s like to be in a body,” the old man was saying, almost dreamily now. “And some eventually lose that hunger for touch. For sex. For love. But I can tell you are not one of those ghosts, Richard Pratt, and I suspect you will never be. You will never forget what it was like to be in a body. To feel skin against skin. To feel your lips on the lips of another man. To taste his sweat and smell the musk that lingers in those dark and moist places. And especially you’ll never stop yearning to feel yourself sliding into your lover, feeling his ass tight around your cock. Hearing him moan as he lets you… inside… As he gives himself to you. As he let’s you take him. Take his body. Drink in his youth.”

Just listen. Don’t react. Just listen and remember…

“You’ll never stop wanting that. And if you don’t get it, the wanting of it will drive you mad. If you are honest with yourself, you know I am telling you the truth.” The man’s bony and spotted hand traveled up past Keith’s knee. “But I’m here to tell you that you can have it all back. And better, you can have it the way it used to be. Before you got old. Imagine what it would be like to fuck your little piggy here with a new, strong, young body. A nice, big, hard, young cock. One that was fresh and new, not like that withered old thing there.” The creature looked directly into Richard’s crotch and made a clicking sound with his tongue. “Such a sad old thing, you have there, Richard. Wouldn’t you rather have a new one? Imagine what it would be like to be able to touch that new body and pleasure it, and know it was yours. It would be a body that you could do anything you wanted with. Imagine what it would be like to feel that thick young cock growing hard in your clenched fist.”

Despite his best intentions, Richard was imagining that very thing.

“You remember what that was like, don’t you, Richard? Back when you were young? I guarantee you, as long as you exist, that need will never fade in you…”

Richard struggled to remain calm and not react. But what the Wanderer was offering stirred something deep in him he couldn’t control. He realized that his naked body had responded to the words of this presence the way he had wanted. Richard’s erection rose wild and painful in front of him, pointing at Keith’s reclining body on the bed. And as he watched, he saw Keith’s cock stiffening, rising from where it had been laying, spent on his belly, still wet and glistening with his own semen….

Part of him wanted to scream, “Yes! That’s what I want! Give it to me!”

He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to calm his breathing. But he could hear the Wanderer laughing, his hand now stroking Keith’s naked thigh.

“So, what body would you choose, Richard? I’d suggest one that is strong and beautiful. One that would bring the light back into the eyes of this piggy here. One that would make Keith look at you the way he used to. The way he never will again… That is, unless you take this one, small step…”

Unbidden, Richard pictured Pil, and the powerful connection he and Keith had. All the fantasies he’d had the past few days about being with Keith again, all those fantasies of using Pil, of possessing the big Hawaiian man, came flooding in. He imagined being inside of Pil, driving the big man’s body like he would drive an unstoppable train. He saw himself picking up Keith in those enormous tattooed arms. Picking him up, and then falling together with him onto this very bed. He felt Pil’s cock stiffen, and the pleasure as Keith guided it into him. He felt his lover opening up to him again, and saw his hungry eyes. And reflected in those eyes, he saw the face of Pi’lani Kilani…

And with a roar, the Wanderer burst into mocking laughter.

Too late, Richard realized he had revealed to his enemy everything he needed to know about Pil and Keith, and the connection between the two. The creature now knew how close Richard was to succumbing to the temptation he had so expertly planted, and he knew exactly who Richard was thinking of using. He knew everything. It seemed the old psychopath could be in his mind after all.

He tried to push the Wanderer out of his head, but it was too late. There was a dark glee in the creature’s presence now.

“Oh, Richard, that one really looks like a beast! I can imagine how much Keith must want that big Hawaiian man’s cock. It would practically split him open!”

Richard made a sound that could have come from an injured deer. Or a terrified kitten. But he could not move.

The old man went silent a moment, then said, quietly, “I wonder where Justin is right now. You know he wants nothing more than to hurt you. I’ve tried to tell him he shouldn’t, that he must get past the anger and rage he has at you. But I’m afraid he’s beyond listening to me.” A broad smile broke across the creature’s face, shattering any facade of concern he had faked.

“And of course, he knows where your little piggy is… He may be on his way here right now. I certainly hope you can get to Pil before Justin finds him. Somebody has to protect this little piggy. He seems so vulnerable, doesn’t he?”

Richard’s head cleared, and he realized that the old man had slid further up the bed. And his gray hand was now traveling up Keith’s thigh. The hand opened like a claw, and Richard watched helplessly as the gnarled old fingers reached for Keith’s now fully erect penis. His hand moved slowly, but his eyes never left Richard’s face. And the smirk he now wore was one of triumph.

With a roar even more wrenching than he had uttered when he had forced the old man’s head beneath the roiling waters of the hot tub, Richard finally broke his paralysis. Seeing the old man’s hand reaching for Keith’s cock shattered the chains that held him, and the entire illusion fell around him like shattered shards of glass. Now, it was just him and the Wanderer, alone in the endless dark.

He no longer cared to keep the old man out of his mind. He no longer cared if the creature knew everything that he was thinking. All he wanted to do was destroy him.

Richard’s hands were like claws as he reached for the old man’s face. And tore at it.

This time, the old man did not react with rage. The skeletal face just laughed. Long uproarious cackles that mocked Richard’s fury. Even as he ripped the old and rotting flesh from the man’s face, Richard knew he had lost.

“I know you are looking for me!” the Wanderer screeched through his laughter. “But it is already too late! By the time you get to me, things will be in motion. You’ll be too late! You’re already too late!!”

As the blood and flesh of the man’s rotting face succumbed to his clawing hands, Richard successfully wrenched the door closed, and expelled the laughing creature from his mind. In an instant, the vision was gone. The blackness and the Wanderer himself disappeared like cotton candy in the rain. The sound fading in his brain was like a roaring elephant, left behind by a speeding train, slowly receding into the distance.

With a desperate gasp, Richard Pratt opened his eyes.

He was still in the cell. Howard Gunderson still appeared to be sleeping. But as he turned his head to the left, he saw Billy was staring at him, his mouth agape.

“He was here, wasn’t he?” Billy asked.

Richard jumped up. “He knows we’re looking for him.”

“What? How?”

“It’s my fault,” Richard moaned. “I should never have let him in. I thought I might learn something, but he played me. He knows about Keith, and he knows he is the only thing that still matters to me. He’s clearly been talking to Justin, and I think he’s sent Justin after Keith.” Richard whirled and began pacing in the cell like a caged animal. “Billy, we’re in the one place we shouldn’t be! Howard is locked up. Justin can’t use him. But he can use anybody else. He could possess someone already close to Keith. Billy, this is the one place I shouldn’t be.”

Billy just looked at Richard, stunned and speechless.

“Billy, I have to go! And I have to go now!”

The boy was on his feet in a flash. “Richard, that’s what he wants!” he shouted, grabbing the older man’s shoulders. “He wants you to go to Keith! You said he’s playing you, well don’t let him! You know that’s what he wants. Don’t give it to him! I don’t know if Keith is really in danger, but I know that if you go to him, you’ll be doing exactly what he wants you to do! He’s controlling you. He’s pulling your strings like a puppet. For God’s sake, don’t let him!”

“Billy, don’t you understand?” Richard said, and he could hear the pleading in his voice. “I don’t have a choice. He’s threatening the man I love, and you’re trying to tell me I should just sit here in a cell with the man who killed me. I can’t do it. Billy, I just can’t.”

“And what could you hope to accomplish by being with Keith? What if Justin is waiting to attack Keith until you are there to witness it? What if you going puts him in worse danger?“

“Billy, I’m going,” Richard said, with such vehemence that he even frightened himself. “The only question is, are you coming with me?”

Richard could see the look of defeat in Billy’s eyes. And in that moment, he knew the boy would come with him.

“I’ll tell you what, Billy,” Richard said, trying to control his panic. “We’ll go to Keith. And later, if you can convince me he is safe, and that he will stay that way, I’ll help you find Justin. I haven’t given up on fighting this son of a bitch. But if he kills Keith,” Richard’s voice cracked, “there won’t be anything left of me.”

Billy looked very old in that moment, and his lip was trembling. But Richard could tell he accepted what he was being told. Richard had spoken the truth. If he didn’t go, it would destroy him.

Finally, Billy sighed.

“I believe you, Richard. Let’s go.”

The Last Handful of Clover is a supernatural thriller by Wess Mongo Jolley. Thanks for reading! If you are enjoying this story, please consider supporting the author on Patreon.

For more information (including maps of the story’s world and a contact form) visit the author’s website.

To read previous chapters of this book, go to the Table of Contents page.

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Copyright 2021, Wess Mongo Jolley. All rights reserved.

Wess Mongo Jolley

Wess Mongo Jolley is Utah native, who is now an expatriate American novelist, editor, poet and poetry promoter, living in Montreal. He is Founder and Director of the Performance Poetry Preservation Project, and is most well known for hosting the IndieFeed Performance Poetry Channel podcast for more than ten years. As a poet, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Off The Coast, PANK, The New Verse News, and Danse Macabre; and in collections such as the Write Bloody Press book The Good Things About America. He enjoys hearing from readers, and can be contacted through his website, at https://wessmongojolley.com. If you are enjoying this story, please drop me a line, and consider supporting my work as a novelist at http://patreon.com/wessmongojolley. More than half of the the trilogy's over 200 chapters are already available there for subscribers.

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