Mountains of Memories
Copyright © 2016 by Parker Sheaffer
After three years of happiness and domestic quietude, the inevitable happened when one day Clive finally commented on how youthful Lucas still looked. Lying in bed, he looked lovingly on his lover's angelic face and said, "You were fourteen when we met and I felt a right cad for taking advantage of a boy your age, but I couldn't help myself. You were beautiful and you still are. In fact you don't look a bit different than you did the day we met. You have the most wonderful luck. I'm afraid that I'm starting to look like an old man."
Lucas laughed and said, "I would hardly call twenty-six ancient. You're even more handsome now than you were three years ago. I will always love you."
Then Lucas took on a very serious look and said, "Clive. Do you love me?"
"Of course I do. Don't I tell you that at least twice a day?"
"How much do you love me?"
"What a silly question. You are the dearest thing in the world to me. Why do you ask that?"
Lucas turned his gaze to Clive's chest and, as his finger drew circles around his lover's nipple, he said, "I have something that I need to tell you. You won't believe me, I know, but I have to tell you this now. Please don't think I'm mad because I assure you that this is the truth. As I said, you won't believe me, but that's alright. Just put the knowledge aside until a few more years have passed and then you may start to believe me."
"Lucas, you are intriguing me. What sort of dark secret have you been keeping from me?" Clive asked with a laugh.
Lucas took a deep breath and said, "I have never told anyone about this. I know that I look like a fourteen-year-old boy, but Clive, I'm actually forty-four."
"This is a jest, isn't it? I don't understand," Clive said with a worried expression.
"I'm not jesting at all, and I'm not addled. It's alright that you don't believe me yet. You will in a few years when you will see that I am not aging."
"But that's impossible. You sound serious and I can tell that you believe what you're saying, but darling, that's just not possible. You're frightening me a little."
"Please don't be afraid. Let's just put it out of our minds for now and we‘ll think about it at another time. I love you, so very, very much and that is why I felt you should know the truth about me."
They spoke no more about it at that time and Clive soon forgot the conversation.
And they didn't mention it again for a few years. Clive watched though and, by the time three more years had passed, he began to believe.
Lucas told him, "When we met I said I was fourteen because that's how old I was when this happened. If you remember, we met six years ago and I should be twenty now, but you can surely see that I still look like a boy; and I have for a long time."
"I shouldn't believe it, but somehow I do. At least I'm beginning to. I must, the evidence is right before my eyes. Lucas, this is the strangest thing I have ever heard of. Why? How is this possible?"
Lucas told only a part of the truth. He certainly could not expect Clive to take a story with demons in it very calmly. It might drive him away.
So, with a partial truth, Lucas said, "Something happened when I was a boy. I was out hunting in the mountains near our cabin when I got lost and had to spend the night in the woods alone. Do you remember Mr. Irving's story about Rip Van Winkle who returned home to find that many years had passed and his family thought he was dead? Well, that sort of thing happened to me. When I came home the next day I found that I had been gone for a month and everyone thought I was dead, too. They acted very strange toward me after that, but when more years passed and I was not growing any older, superstitious folk that they were, they accused me of witchcraft and chased me out of the mountains to go make a living on my own. I wasn't sorry to go, either.
"It's been a strange life, I can tell you. I survived the war between the states, then spent many years at sea, changing ships whenever anyone began to notice my condition. I can't stay in one place for too long before people start to talk about me, and I can't tell them the truth.
"I was so lonely before I met you. You have made my life much easier and happier. You can see why I have had trouble managing my finances because everyone assumes that I'm a child. It's been very troublesome. Despite all of the problems, I felt I had to tell you about this. I've never told anyone else, but I've never loved anyone like I do you. I hope you still love me."
Clive had a strange look in his eyes. Lucas could see him trying to process these fantastic ideas.
With a bit of hesitation, Clive tried to sound nonchalant as he finally said, "I do. Of course I still love you. Nothing can ever change that, but what a story. I have to say that I envy you somewhat. Eternal youth is everyone's dream, but I can also see that it hasn't brought complete happiness."
"No it hasn't. Watching the people I know grow old and die is a hard thing indeed."
"Oh, my God, Lucas. You will still look like this when I'm an old man? I hadn't thought of that. Look, I have to go somewhere and think about all of this. Don't worry, I'll be back soon. I just need to go have a drink and, well, contemplate what you have told me."
Happily, Clive returned later and seemed to have accepted Lucas' story and his little problem. He said, "On the bright side, I will always have a beautiful lover."
Lucas felt a huge weight lift from his shoulders and he wept and hugged Clive, relieved that their love was still strong.
"So, this explains why you are so knowledgeable about everything, doesn't it? You know about books and mathematics and ships. It's because you've been around for more than twenty years," said Clive, as he began to come to grips with Lucas' revelation.
"Yes, Dear, I'm afraid so."
"I want to hear more. You say you've been to sea? Tell me everything, Lucas. I'm ready to know you now."
The explanation took a long time in the telling and Clive was amazed at learning about the things that his lover had experienced. The only thing Lucas kept from him still was the information about the demons. That was something he wanted to forget.
"Clive," said Lucas one morning. "You've got a stain on your trousers."
"So I have. Well, I suppose it's time to pay a visit to my tailor for some new suits. You could do with something new, too. Why don't we pay him a visit this morning?"
"When you've finished breakfast I will hail us a hackney and we can go shopping. There are a few other things that I need," Lucas said.
The temperature was still cool and the sun had not climbed high enough to make them uncomfortable so it promised to be a pleasant day out. As they walked down their steps to the street, Lucas sneezed loudly. Although it was early, the air was already filled with dust stirred up by the many horses. His nose was filled with their odors as well as the airborne particles of their dried dung. While it was convenient to be able to ride instead of walking, Lucas found the soil produced by so many animals to be offensive.
Dozens of carriages and coaches passed up and down Franklin Street, so it was a simple task to find a conveyance. The two could have taken a horse drawn omnibus or one of the new horse cars that rode upon steel rails, but Clive hated being crowded in with so many other people.
Once in the shopping district they strolled at a leisurely pace, stopping to look at the many fun and interesting things in store windows. Clive stopped to admire some attractive hats on display. As they prepared to enter the haberdasher's they were interrupted by a small voice saying, "Please, sir. I'm hungry."
A well fed man with a surly look on his face stood in the doorway, and he snarled, "Get away from my shop, you dirty little gutter rat," raising his hand to a tiny boy, who cringed in fright.
The boy's outstretched hand quickly withdrew and he turned to run away, but Lucas said, "Hold there, boy," and snatched hold of his shoulder.
"Don't you dare strike this child!" he shouted at the man. "Here, son, talk to me," he said, kneeling on the sidewalk. The boy kept glancing up fearfully at the man who had threatened him.
Lucas asked, "What's your name, son?"
"A-Andy, s-sir." he whispered, his eyes downcast.
"And how old are you, Andy?"
"Don't know, sir."
"Where's your momma?"
"Ain't got one," he said quietly.
Lucas could hear the boy's soft voice crack as he tried to hold back tears.
"And, your daddy?"
The little boy broke down and began to sob. He wiped his nose and eyes on his tattered coat sleeve. "Ain't got no daddy, neither. Oh, sir. I'm awful hungry. Can you spare me a penny?"
Lucas was stunned that a child of this age would be alone on the streets, starving and without a home. He couldn't be more than six-years-old and he looked frail and weak.
The shopkeeper said, "Don't pay him no mind, sir. He's just a little thief that's always bothering my customers and making off with things that don't belong to him. I don't know how many times I've had to chase him away from my back alley. Always trying to steal my dog's dinner, he is. A good beating is what he needs. I'll just call the police and let them take him away."
It was an enraged Lucas who confronted him now and said, "You'll do no such thing. You're lucky I don't have you beaten, you insensitive fool. You are a scoundrel. Clive, I don't think we need anything from this man's shop. What we need to do is feed this boy."
The shop owner looked stunned and tried to stammer out an apology even though he obviously didn't understand why this young nob was so angry.
Lucas held out his arms and said, "Will you come with us, son? I'll see that you get something to eat and a warm place to sleep."
Andy went cautiously to his arms and Lucas hugged him. The boy wept on his shoulder and clutched him tightly as Lucas carried him down the street with Clive walking beside them, looking bemused. Clive also felt sympathy for the boy, but not the depth of emotion that seemed to have affected Lucas. After all, there were so many poor people in the city. However, whatever Lucas wanted, Lucas could have, even a pet waif. A very smelly one, at that.
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