Southern Sunshine

Chapter 9

Brian studied the note that Justin had received. Printed in bold letters probably on a computer, it read: "You are not welcome in Pittsburgh. Why don't you go back where you came from before something bad happens to you? Have a nice day." At the bottom was the smiley face sticker.

"Brian," Justin said as he watched the man's face cloud over while he read the note. "It's not really a threat," he said weakly trying not to be frightened by it.

"It fucking is a threat!" Brian reacted. "We need to find out who sent this. Kiki, who gave you this note for Justin?"

"Is something wrong?" she asked seeing the look on Brian's face.

"Yes, something is fucking wrong. Who gave you this note?"

"Somebody came in the diner. I don't know who he was, not a regular."

"Is that all you can remember?"

Kiki nodded looking visibly upset. "I'm sorry if I did something wrong."

"It's not your fault, Kiki," Justin said patting her arm. "If anyone else gives you something for me, make note of who it is."

"I will," Kiki said going to pick up her next order.

"Sunshine, I don't like the looks of this. After the freezer incident and then the drugs at Woody's, it seems like someone has it in for you."

Justin felt the tears well up in his eyes. "Why does everybody hate me? They drove me away from home, and now this. Trouble just seems to follow me."

"Nothing's going to happen to you, not while I'm around," Brian said pulling Justin into a hug and kissing the top of his head. "Are you okay to work or do you want to go home?"

"I'll be all right," Justin gulped forcing back the tears. "Debbie will knock anyone senseless that tries to mess with me."

"You got that right, Sunshine," said Debbie coming out of the back to take over from Kiki.

"I better get going then," Brian said cupping Justin's chin in his hand. "You be careful."

Justin nodded and watched Brian walk out the door. The rest of the day was uneventful. Justin finished his shift after the dinner rush and got ready to go home. He had told Debbie about the note and they had both been watchful all day for anything out of the ordinary. As Justin was about to leave the diner, Debbie called him over.

"Maybe you should call Brian to come get you," she suggested.

"I'm not a baby, Deb."

"I know you're not a fucking baby, but I don't want anything to happen to you."

"I'll be careful, go straight home," Justin promised.

Debbie gave him a hug and he headed out.

As Justin walked along the street he noticed that Ethan was walking along the street towards him his hand obviously in a cast now. He didn't want another run-in with the fiddler so he took the next street intending to go around the block and avoid meeting Ethan. He was about halfway around his detour when he thought he heard something behind him. It sounded like footsteps, but when he looked back no one was there.

Justin began walking faster wanting to get back to Liberty Avenue where there were lights and people he knew. This quiet, residential area was kind of spooky. The streetlights seemed awfully few and far between. Every once in a while he was sure he could hear someone following him, but when he would look back, no one was ever there.

As he reached Liberty, Justin was practically running. With a sigh of relief he stepped onto the street looking around at the bright lights and people walking by. He breathed a sigh of relief, but it was short lived.

"Hey," Ethan said coming up to him.

Justin wondered where Ethan had come from. Suddenly he was just there. Maybe it had been Ethan who had been following him. "Hey," he said not wanting to antagonize the man.

"You look all out of breath."

"I'm on my way home."

"I could walk you there."

"I don't need anyone to walk me home."

"I know, but I just thought we could talk and pass the time."

"Ethan, I'm in a hurry."

"Can't you just give me a chance? Look what that asshole Kinney did to me," he said holding up his hand which was now in a cast. "I won't be able to play for weeks. I'd be much better for you than Kinney. He's not right for you."

"You don't know what's right for me," Justin declared.

"I should sue the asshole."

"Did you see something over there?" Justin asked as a shadow disappeared into the night.

"Yeah, I think it was that Cody kid. He ran up the street."

Justin shivered. Maybe it had been Cody that had been following him.

"Hey, Sunshine!"

Justin looked across the road and saw Brian standing beside his Jeep. He had never been so glad to see someone. "I have to go," Justin said hurrying across the road and failing to see the murderous look that came across Ethan's face.

Justin rushed into Brian's arms, the only place he felt safe these days.

"Is something wrong, Sunshine?" Brian asked. "You're trembling."

"I thought someone was following me."

"On Liberty?"

"I cut over a street to avoid Ethan."

"Looks like he found you anyway."

Justin nodded. Ethan was still staring at them from across the road. "I thought I heard footsteps, but every time I looked around no one was there."

"Maybe it was just your imagination."

"Maybe, but it scared me."

"Next time stay on Liberty. People here know you and they won't let anything happen to you."


"Let's get you home," Brian said as he climbed back in the Jeep.

They drove off noting that Ethan still stood rooted to the same spot. Justin visibly calmed now that he was with Brian. They arrived at the apartment and went upstairs. Dee had some kind of casserole thing in the oven. Brian tugged at Justin's sleeve wanting his Sunshine more than he wanted any of Dee's food. Justin smiled and started to follow Brian to the bedroom when Dee called him back.

"This came for you today."

"What is it?" Justin asked looking at the envelope with something akin to fear.

Brian grabbed the envelope and noted the return address. "You don't need to worry unless the Pittsburgh School System is after you."

"School?" Justin frowned. "I wonder if they got my transcripts." He grabbed the envelope and ripped it open. "They're goen to let me in," Justin gasped as he read the contents of the letter. "I get credit for some of my courses. I only need two more credits to get my GED." Justin could hardly believe what he was reading. He thought they would have made him take all his last year courses over since technically he didn't finish them.

"That's great news, Sunshine," Brian said picking up Justin and swinging him around. "I think that calls for a celebratory fuck, don't you?" he whispered against Justin's neck.

Justin felt his face grow red, but he whispered back, "Oh yeah."

Brian carried his lively cargo down the hall, Justin's legs wrapped around his waist. He kicked open the door to Justin's room and deposited the blond in a heap on the bed. He immediately started removing Justin's clothes.

"Close the door, Brian," Justin said lost in the sensations that Brian's hands always produced.

"It's only Dee here and she's seen gay sex before."

"Please," Justin gasped as his jeans were whipped off and Brian's hand clamped over his hard dick.

"One of these days I have to teach you to be less of a prude," Brian said but he moved to the door and gently closed it. "Happy now?"

Justin nodded. "What … what are you waiting for?" Justin asked as Brian stood by the door staring at him.

"Just admiring the scenery," Brian smirked.

Justin's hand immediately covered his stiff dick and he blushed scarlet.

"You make an interesting girl, but you are one fucking beautiful boy."

"Brian," Justin moaned. Brian's words had gone right to his dick making it ache for Brian's touch.

It didn't take Brian long to have his way with the tasty little morsel known as Sunshine or Justin. When his dick was way up said morsel's ass, he didn't particularly care what he called the boy. Sometimes Brian even said "I love you" without realizing it. But no matter how into the throes of passion Justin was, he always heard those words and his heart soared. He loved Brian beyond anything he had ever thought was possible.

When they were through, they took a quick shower and went out to the kitchen to see if Dee had saved them anything to eat. She had set the table and turned off the casserole, leaving it in the oven to stay warm. She was sitting at the table waiting for them when they came out.

"You two done fucking?" she asked boldly giving Brian the evil eye.

Justin blushed and nodded.

Brian gave her his death glare and simply said, "For now."

"Well, if you want to eat, my casserole's ready. Grab some beers and come sit down."

They did as she bid and they had to admit that her casserole wasn't bad at all.

"Are you going to sign up for the courses you need to get your diploma?" Dee asked Justin.

"Um … yeah, I think so."

"You should," Brian said. "Without it you have limited options."

"And what options do I have with it?" Justin asked. "It's not like I can go to university or anything."

"Why can't you?" Brian asked.

"I don't have the money. I have to work."

"Maybe someone will help you … or, you could take night courses."

Justin snorted. "That would take forever."

Brian shrugged. He knew education had been his salvation. It was extremely difficult to get any kind of decent job without at least a high school diploma. Justin deserved better than working in the diner for the rest of his life.

"Can we go see a movie tonight?" Justin asked.

"I guess so, but I thought we might just … you know." Brian cocked his head a couple of times in the direction of the bedroom.

"We can do that when we get back."

"What do you want to see?"

"It will be a surprise."

"Okay." Brian didn't see any point in arguing although he tended to like the classic movies better than most of the crap they put out nowadays. Beside, he wanted to get Justin's mind off that fucking note and the idea that someone was following him.


The next morning Justin woke up all alone in his bed. He and Brian had fucked until the wee small, and then Brian had left. Justin wanted him to stay, but Brian knew he had to work and he needed to be up in good time. The bed always felt lonely now when Brian wasn't there.

Dragging himself out of bed, Justin went and took a quick shower. He looked out the window to see that it was raining. That didn't do much for his mood. In the kitchen he found a note from Dee saying she had gone out early and would see him after work. Justin was scheduled at the diner for eleven and it was just a bit after ten. He poured himself a bowl of cereal and sat munching it at the little table in the kitchen. He got up and found the envelope from the Pittsburgh School System. Later in the week he would go see about registering for at least one of the courses he needed. He finished his cereal and picked up the phone.

"Mom?" he said when she answered.

"Justin, I've been hoping you would call."

"You have? Why?"

"I have something to tell you."

"And I have something to tell you too."

"You first," she laughed.

"I applied to take courses for my GED."

"You did? Oh honey, I'm so proud of you."

"You can be prouder still. I only have to take two courses and I can get my diploma."

"That's great. Are you enrolled?"

"Not yet, but I will be later this week. I just thought you'd like to know."

"I'm so pleased. You're being so responsible. I'm overwhelmed."

Justin smiled. He knew his mother would be happy for him. "What did you want to tell me?" he asked.

"Nothing so good."

"Is something wrong?"

"I talked to Mrs. Jensen down the street a few days ago. She told me…" Jennifer hesitated but she knew Justin needed to know this.

"Told you what?"

"That Chris Hobbs has left here. Nobody seems to know where he's gone."

"Chris Hobbs?" Justin said uncertainly. His mother knew that Chris had been one of the instigators in the attack on Justin. "You, you don't think … oh Mom, he couldn't have come after me?"

"I don't know, Justin. I felt you should be aware that he left here."

"Where would he go? How could he know where I am?"

"I don't have any answers for you, Justin. He and his family have friends all over town, so who knows what he could have found out?"

"But he doesn't know about Dee, about Derek, does he? You didn't tell anyone?"

"No, Justin, I swear I haven't mentioned it to anyone. I sent you there to be safe."

"I know, Mom, it's just that…" Justin almost told her about the strange things that had been happening to him, but he didn't want to worry her. And they might be nothing. He hoped they were nothing.

"What, honey?"

"I miss you," he said.

"I miss you too."

"If you hear anything more about Chris, let me know."

"I will."

Justin hung up the phone. Now he had another thing to worry about.

It had stopped raining by the time Justin left for work. At the diner some guy was putting up a poster advertising a contest at Babylon. It was called "Delicious Drag Divas". It was a contest for anyone who wanted to dress in drag and sing. The prize was $1000. Justin read the sign twice to be sure.

Debbie came up behind Justin. "You thinking of entering, Sunshine?"

"Oh, not me. I could never do that, but Dee can sing. She and Emmett did a number at Woody's and it was really good. I'll have to tell her tonight."

"I bet you could do a knock 'em dead number if you put your mind to it," Debbie encouraged him. "Besides, that thousand would go a long way for anyone."

"Yeah, I could sure use the money," Justin said.

"If you needed help with a costume, I sew," Debbie explained.

"Geez, Deb, I don't think so."

"Well, if you change your mind…" She bustled off to take an order.

All day while he worked Justin kept thinking about the contest. He thought Dee would have a good chance to win, but he wondered if he could pull it off if he decided to enter. He had sung in the choir at school for a while, and they even gave him a short solo one time. He had enjoyed that until the cool kids at school had started taunting him about being in the sissy choir. He had given it up after that.

Justin shook his head remembering how bad he had felt for Chuckie Howard. He was the only other boy in the choir, and he sang like an angel. He loved the choir and he loved to sing. But he was such a geek and a wimp. Everybody picked on him. He actually looked up to Justin and had begged Justin not to give up the choir. He said he liked having another boy to sing with. Chuckie and his family had moved away not long after Justin had quit the choir. Justin wondered what had happened to Chuckie. Maybe he would become a big singing star someday. Justin chuckled at that thought as he wiped off a table. More likely Chuckie would be an accountant or a pathetic salesman in a furniture store. Maybe he might even be dead, like Justin had come close to being. Justin shivered as he carried the bin of dirty dishes to the kitchen.

When Justin came out he saw that someone was sitting in the booth he had just cleaned. He walked over taking out his order pad.

"Can I get you something?" Justin asked before he saw who it was.

"Yeah, a clean table would be a start," Darren said as he picked at some miniscule speck on the tabletop.

"I just cleaned that," Justin said. He didn't like this guy at all.

"Another thing you don't do very well."

"Fuck you! Do you want something to eat, or are you just here to annoy me?" Justin demanded. Maybe if he insulted this asshole, he'd pick up and leave.

"I think I'll do both. I'll have a cheeseburger and fries."

"Right," Justin said moving away.

"Oh, and a coke."


"Oh, and bring me some cutlery."

"Of course," Justin said as he put Darren's order in. Maybe he could find a fork and knife that were contaminated with e-coli. Smiling at the thought, he carried clean flatware to Darren's table.

"These are all spotty," Darren observed picking each piece up and eyeing it critically.

"What do you want me to do about it, lick them for you?"

"That's really disgusting," Darren said haughtily. "Bring me some clean ones."

"Those are clean. Wipe them on your napkin."

"That's your job."

Justin sighed. Why the fuck did he have to wait on this guy? He picked up each piece of cutlery and carefully polished it with the paper napkin they had been wrapped in. "There, does that suit you?"

"Much better, but now I need a clean napkin."

Justin groaned inwardly. He would have liked to shove the dirty napkin up Darren's ass. However, good waiter that he was, he went and got a clean napkin for his asshole customer.

"All set now?" Justin asked sure there couldn't be anything else that Darren would require.

"My coke?" Darren said sarcastically like he was talking to a retarded elf.

"Oh, right." Justin had forgotten all about that. He returned quickly with the Coke.

"Isn't my burger ready yet?" Darren asked. "This place is always so slow."

"Then why don't you take your ass somewhere else," Justin stated through gritted teeth. He had had enough. "I'm sure you can find another diner much more to your liking."

"I think I'll report you to the owner," Darren said with a smirk.

"You do that," Justin challenged.

"I will."

"You'll be the one who's barred from here," Justin declared.

"Hi, hi, hi," Emmett said coming up behind Justin. "Hi, Sunshine, could I get a coffee and donut to go?"

"Sure, Emmett," Justin said moving away to get Emmett's order.

"Spreading more cheer, I see," Emmett said to Darren.

"Fuck you for giving that kid my job."

"It wasn't your job at that point. And if you hadn't been such a queen about accepting it, it would have been yours."

"It should be mine," Darren said. He was like a dog with a bone.

"Here's your coffee, Emmett," Justin said handing him the paper cup and a bag containing the donut. He had Darren's burger in his other hand and he practically dropped it onto the tabletop where it landed with a resounding thud.

"Thanks, Sunshine," Emmett said holding the bag and cup. They moved over to the counter so Emmett could pay while Darren glared at them.

"Have you seen the poster about the drag singing contest at Babylon?" Justin asked pointing to the poster on the wall.

"No, this is the first I've seen the poster, but I had heard about it."

"Are you entering?"


"You and Dee did a great song at Woody's," Justin reminded Emmett.

"I can sing, but I'm not really into drag. I like my feminine side to come out in other ways." Emmett waggled his bottom as he said that.

Justin laughed. "I think you should enter. I'm goen to tell Dee to. We certainly don't want him winning the prize." Justin gestured towards Darren who was wrestling with his burger.

"He lip synchs. I'm not even sure he can sing."

"I bet he'll enter anyway. He thinks he's such hot shit."

"What about you, Sunshine? I bet you would make one fabulous diva."

"Geesh, what's with you people? Debbie's been bugging me about entering. You guys don't even know if I can sing."

"I bet you can," Emmett smiled. "I better get going." He quickly headed out leaving Justin to wonder once again if he should seriously enter the contest. He could use that fucking money.

"Hey, Sunshine!" Darren called making the word "Sunshine" sound like some kind of disease. "I need a refill on my Coke."

"Yes sir, right away, sir, immediately, sir." Justin tried to be just as sarcastic right back as he filled another glass with Coke. He planted it on the table in front of Darren. "Will there be anything else, sir?"

"Not at the moment," Darren sneered and Justin went to look after some other customers who had just come in.

As Justin was putting in the orders from the new customers, he heard his name. "Hey, Sunshine, check!" And then Darren snapped his fingers, actually snapped his fingers at Justin.

"What do I look like to you?" Justin demanded slapping the bill down on the table in front of Darren. "I'm not your fucking flunky."

"But you're my fucking servant while I'm in here," Darren said arrogantly. He threw down a ten dollar bill and stomped out of the diner.

"Thanks for the big tip," Justin muttered. It would amount to a whopping twenty-one cents, what was left from the change from the ten. "Fucking asshole!"

A little after nine Justin came out of the diner. He had just finished for the day, the dinner rush lasting longer than usual. He was bushed. He had started at eleven that morning and had been on his feet pretty much ever since. There had to be an easier way to make a living. Maybe if he got his courses and earned a diploma, he could start looking for a better job. Although, he really liked the diner, and most of the people who came in there, except for that asshole Darren. He shook his head as he walked along Liberty. What other kind of job would let him interact with people and meet such colorful characters as Emmett and Debbie? There were probably better jobs, but he was relatively happy where he was, as long as he didn't have too many days like today.

Justin was approaching the area of the street where they were building a new four story office complex. Justin never liked walking under the scaffolding that came out over the sidewalk. He always thought something was going to come crashing through the flimsy wood on top of it and crush him.

He had made sure to stay on Liberty Avenue like Brian had told him. He hadn't heard anyone following him like the other night. That had been spooky. As Justin started under the scaffolding he could see that there was an open section in the boards that surrounded the construction site. That was weird since it was dark and nobody would be working at this time of night.

Justin hesitated to go further. He had looked in one day recently when a workman had entered just as Justin went by. There was a huge hole in the ground and not much else at this point. Justin decided he was being silly and started to walk towards the open gate. Just as he arrived at the opening and looked in to see nothing but blackness in there, he heard feet running. Before he could turn to see who it was, someone gave him a mighty shove and he started to tumble into the opening.

The thing that saved his life was the fact that to get through these openings you had to step up and over some wood at ground level. As Justin was pushed into the opening his foot caught on the wooden board at the bottom which the door would close against. That made him fall more quickly without all the forward momentum he had been given from the push.

Justin fell onto the ground hard, knocking the wind out of him. He slid forward in the mud with his arms outstretched trying to grab onto something, but there was only dirt. Then his arms went into nothingness and Justin knew he was going to end up at the bottom of the hole that would become the parking garage under the new building.

He dug the toes of his running shoes into the earth as hard as he could. Somehow he came to rest with his hands and his nose over the edge of the deep hole. The rest of his body was still lying on the dirt. Justin let out a long sob as he pulled back his arms and used them to get some purchase to get up. The front of him and his hands and arms and face were coated in mud from the rain they had had earlier in the day. Justin took a couple of deep breaths realizing how close he had come to going over the edge and into the big pit below. He felt like his knees were rubbery and it was all he could do to stand, but he had to get out of there.

Gulping back the tears that wanted to fall, Justin made his way the few steps back to the opening. He stepped over the board that had slowed his fall and walked unsteadily towards the end of the scaffolding. His breath came in choppy gasps and his heart pounded with fear. His head didn't seem to focus very well. Taking the few steps he had covered, had taken monumental effort, but he knew they also took him a few steps closer to home.

As he came out the end of the scaffolding a car pulled up beside him and he jumped back afraid that someone was going to leap out and attack him.

"Sunshine," Brian's voice said gently.

Justin turned revealing the mess that he was. Brian ran over to him catching him as his knees buckled and pulling him into his strong arms.

"What happened? Are you hurt?"

"Brian," Justin moaned. "Someone pushed me."

"Sunshine, are you hurt?" Brian repeated.

"No, no, but I was so scared." Justin was holding onto Brian like there was no tomorrow and there almost hadn't been.

"Come on. I'm taking you home, and then we'll find out what happened."

Brian scooped him up and deposited him in the passenger seat of the Jeep. Someone was going to pay for this.

Return to Southern Sunshine