Chapter Two – Diencephalon
Relaying sensory impulses – homeostasis
Part I – Negative Feedback
It’s all about maintaining balance
“I think he had sex with me,” Joel felt like talking. He thought that was the only possible way to know. To know if it was real.
“Yeah, I know.” Grif told him.
“How the fuck can you know?”
“Because...” Grif half thought Joel might react violently. “Because I was there watching your face pressed against the glass.”
“You was there?”
“I was there.”
“Why didn’t you say anything... before?”
“Like something.” Joel was pissed. Grif had been there. He saw it, but he had never mentioned it. Worse thing was, he didn’t remember himself, he needed Grif to tell him.
“You mean like, oh hi Joel, by the way, you really got off on being fucked by Kado.”
“Shit! So it did happen. That’s fucking negative feedback.”
A door banged shut with a sharp metallic sound, somewhere down the corridor someone was moving around. It distracted his attention. He wanted more information. Or did he? Maybe not, maybe it was enough just knowing?
“It’s nothing. What’s wrong with you? Fucking looked like you enjoyed yourself to me.”
“Maybe I did.”
“Yeah, maybe.” Grif had the impression that Joel was pissed at getting the confirmation from him about what happened. But would he have been more pissed if he had told him he didn’t know, he wasn’t there? No, wait a minute, Grif realised, it was because he had seen it. That’s why.
“Forget if then,” Joel made a lame effort to calm the game and somehow step back.
“Tonight there’s a session entertaining the fat man,” Grif changed the subject.
“Well you’re his fave boy Grif.”
“Uh huh. But this time he wants a double act.”
“Fuck. You’re not fucking asking me?”
Grif smiled that really cute boyish, butter wouldn’t melt, smile. He leaned on one leg, looked up at Joel.
“You are fucking asking me.”
“Jeez, can you cut out the swearing Joel. You really have got a foul mouth.”
“Yeah, like when I’m sucking your cock.”
“I’m gonna eat. Coming?”
Joel followed him down the corridor without saying anything more.
It was Charlie with him at the Centre. He remembered that now. He remembered being there before meeting Grif on the street. But what happened, where did they go, Charlie and his mother? Where we’re they now?
“You know something Grif.” Joel stopped eating to look at him seriously.
“What?” Grif replied between mouthfuls.
“I seem to remember I said that to you.”
“Oh yeah, very funny,” Joel smirked.
“Yeah well, what?”
“Having a memory with holes in it. That’s what.” Joel was getting wound up. “Being here, doing this.”
“Doing what? Eating?”
Joel sprang up from the table. Grif thought he was going to hit him. Then, just before he exploded Kado walked up, put an arm on his shoulder, kind of a friendly greeting. Joel shrugged it off, but turned around to see who it was.
“Hey kiddo, easy. What’s up?” Kado was all smiles.
It eased the tension, things cooled down. You could feel the release, like the air being let out of a balloon. Joel sat back down and Kado joined them, his large imposing figure dominated the table. Someone was with him.
“This is Jack,” Kado introduced a lean figure with long straight hair that sort of half covered his face. Jack gave a barely visible nod in their direction.
“He’s another escapee,” Kado chuckled, turning to look at Jack. “Sit!” He said it almost like he was commanding a dog.
“Jeez,” Grif said. “What is this, he’s your new pet?”
Kado ignored the remark, but Joel saw the new boy’s scowl. Grif hadn’t won any points there he told himself.
“Hi,” Joel looked over at Jack.
“Jack was at the Centre. Now he’s here, and... well it’s like this. Grif, you and Joel here need to clue him in. So he’s bunking with you.” Kado stood up.
“With us?” Grif looked up at Kado.
“You got it. With you... and Joel,” he turned to leave. “He’s your responsibility. Don’t fuck up.”
Kado left the three of them sitting at the table. Grif looked from Joel to Jack. Jack just sat there.
“What happened to you at the Centre?” Joel thought this was his chance to discover some stuff.
Jack, despite appearing kind of timid earlier on, had taken possession of the old leather armchair with the stuffing escaping. He sat there in that all too familiar teenage pose, legs apart, staring disinterested, looking at the floor. Grif was pacing aimlessly around the basement room. Joel sitting on the bed was trying hard to ignore Grif, who was starting to irritate him.
“Why?” Jack replied, not even looking up at him.
Here we go Joel thought, what’s his problem? “Because I was there with my family, now I’m here, and I don’t remember anything that happened in between.”
“So what happened to YOU?” Joel could feel his temper building. “For Christ’s sake Grif, sit down will ya! “
Grif stopped pacing around, looked at Joel. Feeling the tension, which he didn’t need to add to, he sat down. He needed Joel in a good mood for the session with the fat man, and there was fucking Jack to deal with. Take that which ever way you want; Jack was an irritating little fucker, but a little fucker who was going to get fucked. That thought amused Grif.
“Jack! What happened?” Joel insisted, it was like getting blood out of a stone.
“Nothing much,” Jack was still not looking at him.
Joel felt like getting up, walking over there, and either smacking him or shaking him. The lethargy and his wanting to get some answers were going to make him erupt at any moment.
Jack must have sensed the atmosphere, he looked up, finally. “I mean, they gave me this injection. Said I had to wait around. Then someone came back, I don’t know how long after. That was it.”
“And then what?” Joel was coming down from the brink now the kid was talking, but this wasn’t easy.
“Uh, nothing. They said I was clear and could go. They kept my uncle though. Never saw him.”
“Your uncle?” Joel wanted to know more.
“Yeah, they kept him. Told me to go home. Said he was there for observation.”
“That’s it?” That wasn’t much more information than he already knew, only it seemed the needle hadn’t made Jack lose his memory.
“That’s it,” Jack returned his gaze to the floor.
“How come you ended up here?” Grif butted in.
Hearing Grif’s voice made Jack look up again. “Kado, he brought me here.”
“So you know Kado?” Grif was interested in this new twist.
Jack’s gaze rested on Grif. “Yeah.”
There was something in the kid’s stare Grif thought, an attraction. That would make things easier. He must be gay, Grif thought.