By Wes Leigh featuring the contributions of Rob the Scribe


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Chapter Nine


Roderyk was accustomed to hard work, so he didn”t mind the hours he had to put in on Auntie”s chicken farm. Mucking out the coops was nasty, but he threw himself into the task with determination. Auntie was delighted; the other workers were impressed. The new guy was working out just fine.

After work on Tuesday, the men who worked for Auntie approached Roderyk as he was hosing down his work boots.

Jake, the oldest of the group, asked, “Any plans for tonight, Roderyk?”

Roderyk shook his head. “No. Not particularly. Why?”

Jake pointed at his chest with his thumb. “Me and the boys were gonna head into town. Get some food and drink and relax tonight. Wanna come along?”

Roderyk hesitated, so Jake added, “Aaron is the DD tonight. It”s his turn.” The other men laughed and slapped Aaron on the back.

“The DD?” Roderyk asked. These Americans and their abbreviations, he thought.

“Ya … the designated driver … you know, the guy who gets stuck drinkin” sodas while the rest of us get plastered off our asses!” Jake explained, to the amusement of the other men.

“Oh … I see.” Roderyk blinked, now realizing he had a dilemma.

Unbidden, memories flooded his mind of a night out with friends in Bamberg.

͠ ͠ ͠

The bus leaves. Damn bus. Now I have to walk all the way. Basically, it”s my own fault. If I hadn”t thought I had to dress up again at the last minute, that wouldn”t have happened. The way to the city center takes only about half an hour on foot, so it”s not that bad. I have my MP3 player with me. So at least I have good music in my ears.

I hum as I walk. I”m looking forward to tonight. It”s a Tuesday, and the pub where we”re going offers poker games on weekdays. I”ve never played poker, but Dominik invited me.

It”s interesting. For six long years, I went to school with Dominik. I never noticed him. Then suddenly I”m sitting in my regular pub and he”s there and immediately catches my eye. Luckily, he approached me. I”m always so damn shy and don”t dare. Well, we talked all evening. Finally, he invited me for today. Of course, I don”t want to miss it. Dominik is just super cute. Why had I never noticed it before?

Finally I”m standing in front of the pub. So far, I”ve only ever passed by here. Before I go in, I check my appearance again in the reflection of a fashion store opposite. Yes, I look presentable. As soon as I pass the door, I see Dominik sitting at the counter. The place to the right of him is still free.

We embrace each other warmly. Damn, Dom smells good. And then this warmth that he radiates … I”m feeling drawn to him. It”s hard for me to hide my feelings. Still, I try. As casually as I can, I sit down on the bar stool next to him and order a beer.

My gaze wanders along the counter. Diana is there. I can”t believe it. I haven”t seen Diana for years. Immediately I get up again and greet her properly. Very early when we were small children, our parents maintained a relaxed friendship. Later we went to the same school. Diana is a few years younger than me, but what the heck? What do a few years mean? She”s a damn dear person. Nice to see her here today. We exchange a few words. It turns out Diana plays poker with Dominik. Who would have thought that?

My beer arrives. I enjoy taking the first sip. Apart from the three of us, there are no other players yet. Dom explains to me that he invited me to come extra early so he can teach me the rules. He patiently sits down with me and explains the game to me. Man, that”s sometimes complicated. Diana joins us. With the help of the two of them, I slowly get the hang of it. As difficult as it seemed to me at first, it”s coming to me now.

We put away the deck of cards and sit down back at the counter. The others will arrive in the next hour. That”s fine by me. I”ll have more time with Dom. We fool around and have fun together. He”s just too weird. He makes me laugh all the time. That”s what I needed. From the first second of our reunion, he made me feel special. He seems to accept me the way I really am.

He and Diana start talking. They”re talking about a boy our age. I don”t know him. But what they say gets under my skin. izmit escort bayan It is clear from the conversation that he has died. Something about Diana”s remarks hurts me deeply. It reminds me of my older brother, who died not physically but mentally a few years ago. They know nothing about that horrible set of events, and I don”t want to talk about it. I sit there, struggling to control my tears and failing.

I apologize and leave the pub. A few steps further, I lean against the cool wall of the building. Countless thoughts storm my mind. Shit, I feel bad. The whole talk has stirred up things in me I didn”t even know were there. The tears are brimming in my eyes. I can”t go back inside. I only have to look into Diana”s face once for them to break free.

What do I do now? After all, I can”t stand out here forever. First, a cigarette. I can hardly get the smoke past the lump in my throat. After a few puffs, the lump slowly disappears. Nevertheless, I feel miserable.

A voice calls for me. It”s Dom. What should I do? He really shouldn”t see me this way.

He asks me what”s going on. I just can”t do it anymore. I tell him everything that is going on inside me. He doesn”t laugh. Quite the opposite. Dominik takes me firmly in his arms. I don”t know the last time I felt so secure. Now it doesn”t matter at all. He holds me and that”s a good thing. Finally I can let my tears run free. It doesn”t bother him. Understanding and tender, he caresses me and waits until I finally find myself again. It seems to me to take an eternity.

Finally, I calm down again. Dominik makes all the difference for me. For a few minutes more, we stand in front of the pub and look at each other. Then we decide to go back in. Inside we are expected. Of course, the question arises where we have been. Dom answers evasively. I am grateful to him for that. After all, not everyone has to know that I felt so bad. I order another beer. I don”t want to think anymore.

Only a few minutes later, the last of the poker players arrive. Thank God none of them saw me sobbing in front of the pub. We go to the prepared table. In total, there are ten of us. We begin. I”m starting to find it fun. I”m not so bad. There are only three other players left at the table when I run out of poker chips. I can”t keep up with the really good ones yet.

I make myself comfortable at the counter and wait for Dominik to be finished. One beer chases the next. It takes quite a while, then Dominik sits next to me again.

The entire time, he devotes most of his attention to me. He sometimes talks here and sometimes there to his friends. It seems almost amazing to me how many people know him. Being so shy, it”s incomprehensible to me how one can approach others so openly and cheerfully. Nevertheless, I benefit from it. I have at least as much fun with these others as Dom. Something of him seems to rub off on me. In his company, I feel much safer, much more open than I normally would be. This feeling that he gives me is damn good for me.

How much I would like to show him now how I feel for him. But I don”t dare. Meanwhile, all poker players except Diana have returned home. Even though she is still there, she sits a little way from us. As if she wanted to give us space.

Again and again Dominik looks me firmly in the eye. These eyes look so beautiful. Clear and light blue, just like mine. They seem to want to see through me. I would like to allow them to do so. Suddenly, Dom orders two short ones. I”m still doing pretty well. I easily tolerate a schnapps. I often drink, so a little alcohol does not throw me off track. I take the glass in my hand and want to pour down the clear liquid as Dom holds my arm tightly. He asks me if we have ever drunk friendship. Of course we haven”t. I would remember that. His arm embraces mine. We both lift the glass and drink the alcohol. Now the time has come. I wanted it so much. Our lips touch. Actually, only a short kiss is common. Not so with us. We remain like this for a long time. At first only our lips play around each other, then we open our mouths and I feel his tongue.

The seconds seems like minutes to me. I”m happy. That”s exactly what I wanted here. I got it. This boy … he is the one I want. Why didn”t I notice it years ago? How beautiful could it have been?

No matter. What counts is the here and now. Some pub guests look at us irritated. Most people don”t mind. After we separate from each other, we continue to talk as if nothing had happened.

Many such drinks follow, with more of the friendship kisses. Then we leave out the drinks and simply kiss. Because we want it. Every kiss is more tender than the previous one. Then it”s curfew. We sit in front of our beers and stare at the mugs. What will happen next? I don”t know what to do now.

Diana stands up. What she says next amazes me. “No point izmit escort in sitting there. You love him. Do what you want.”

Together we pay and leave the pub. We don”t get far. Dominik pushes me against the wall after only a few meters and pins me there. He caresses my body as we kiss again. I can”t get enough of him. I want more. Always more. My hands wander under his tee-shirt and caress the warm skin underneath. At some point we hear a “good night”. Diana walks past us. We pause briefly in our actions and smile. None of us are embarrassed. Nevertheless, I still want to have a drink. At this time, there is only one pub open. My regular pub. We go there.

As soon as we enter, we are greeted. Yes, we belong here, we are almost at home here. I sit down, and Dom settles down next to me. We drink something else. All the time he holds my hand. What more could I want? He just knows what I like. This small gesture is worth more than a thousand words.

After a few more drinks, the lights in the pub go out. We have to go. Again, we make it only a few meters. This time, it”s me pushing Dom against the wall. We enjoy the closeness to each other. Again and again, we kiss and stroke each other. A car drives past us. It”s Chris, the pub owner. He looks over at us in disbelief. We laugh about it before we concentrate completely on each other.

͠ ͠ ͠

“Well? You ready to try out some Georgia beer?” Jake was smiling as he asked the question. “Might not be up to the standard of your German beers, but I think we have a few that”ll match up pretty good. You can judge for yourself.”

Roderyk swallowed hard. “Sorry, Jake. I”ll have to pass. I don”t drink.”

That wasn”t what the other men expected to hear. “What? A German who doesn”t drink?” Jake asked, teasing. The other men laughed.

Roderyk shook his head. “Not anymore.”

The men stopped laughing, not understanding the sudden pain in Roderyk”s eyes.

“Okay,” Jake replied, suddenly embarrassed. “Ummm … we”ll see you tomorrow then.”

They quickly disappeared, leaving Roderyk standing next to the barn.

͠ ͠ ͠

I head to our pub. Dominik”s and my pub. He asked me to meet him here, and I”m looking forward to it. It”s been a wonderful week for the two of us, washing away the hurt I never was able to escape before. Now that Dominik and I have given in to our desire for each other, my pain is gone.

I approach the pub and see Diana standing outside. Her face is drawn and haggard. Her eyes are red and puffy. She sees me approaching and begins crying. Painful, agonized sobbing.

I rush up and take her in my arms, asking her what is wrong.

She shakes her head and can say nothing. I hold her in my arms and rock her from side to side. Eventually her crying slows and see says, “It”s Dominik. He”s gone.” And she begins crying again.

I”m stunned. Unable to understand the words she just said. What does she mean? He”s gone?

I push away slightly and tilt her head so she has to look at me. I ask her to tell me what is going on.

With sobs and gasps, Diana tells me that Dominik was drinking the night before, heavily. I hadn”t been able to go because I had to work, but she and Dominik and several of our friends had met to drink, as we always did, and he had gotten very drunk, as he often did. Then he”d gotten in his car and tried to drive home. He”d driven into the Elbe. Drowned.

I am numb. I hold Diana and comfort her. But there is no one to hold me, no one to comfort me. That was Dominik”s job. And now he”s gone.

Gone like my brother. I suppose my brother was lucky. They were able to bring him back when they pulled his car from the river. There were able to save his life, though his mind is gone forever.

And now Dominik has done the same thing. Just like my brother. Left me alone.

I look up at the sign above us. The pub sign, encouraging us to come in and bury our sorrows in beer. And I vow it will never touch my lips again.

͠ ͠ ͠

Roderyk rolled up the hose and put it away. He glanced around the barn, checking to see if there was anything he”d forgotten to do. Everything was put away, waiting for the next day. The chickens were quiet for the most part, although there was one loud squawk from squabbling hens in the corner of one coop.

Roderyk ignored them and closed the door of the barn behind him. He wasn”t ready to go in the house yet. He knew Auntie would have supper ready in an hour or so, and he planned to use the time to think.

He found a grassy spot under the massive oak tree in the front yard and sat down, not caring if the crows were nesting above him or not.

͠ ͠ ͠

I am lost. I know that, but I can”t find my way back.

I”ve left my friends. They don”t understand why. They don”t know how hard it is for me izmit kendi evi olan escort to look at them and not search for Dominik.

And no matter how hard I search, I won”t find him. So I keep looking for something to make me forget.

I succeed, some nights. Not with alcohol. I”ve abandoned that Master. He failed me. He took my devotion and stole my life and left me lonely and afraid. I”ll never go back to Him. I”ve found Others to worship. Others who make me forget.

I go to Them often now. They welcome me and invite me to offer all I have to Them. I eagerly give it. Why do I need money and possessions? It”s worth nothing to me, and these Others whom I now worship give me peace, if only in brief spurts while I am in Their presence.

I know what has happened. I”ve even written about it. To remind myself of how far I”ve fallen. I sometimes sit in my room and think about leaving Them and finding my way back into the world, but They call out to me, summoning me to come to Them again and find peace.

I look at the words on the paper in front of me. My words. Scrawled out yesterday, in a moment of clarity. I read the words and feel the truth in them.



Night. Once again. I”m looking for You. Need You. You are everything.

My drive. My longing. My escape.

I search for You. Find You. You came to me, radiant Savior.

I wanted You, You me.

Needed You.

Took You, always more. You showed me new worlds. I wanted to see You.

Let me fall deep inside You, in Your arms, into Your kingdom. Give me warmth, renewal.

Deep. I dove the depth of You.

Your names? Alcohol, Weed, Speed, LSD.

Praise each of Your names. Curse You. Love You.

I am addicted, addicted to You.

I want You. I search for You, need You. You are everything.



The words on the page blur. I can”t see them now, but I feel them in my heart. They accuse me of unfaithfulness.

How am I unfaithful, I ask?

You left your first love, they say.

I had no first love, I answer. Every love I”ve ever had has been stolen from me. Snatched away before I could taste it. Ripped from my arms, leaving me desolate and alone, with only my demonic gods for company.

The words on the page are finally silent. They cannot reply, because there is no response.

There is a rapping on my door. Someone wants in. I don”t want company, so I ignore it.

The rapping continues, louder, insistent. Why won”t they leave me alone? Leave me alone, I think, laughing. Always alone. Leave me alone. Left me alone.

More knocking. Almost banging now.

I stand up and walk to the door. I unlock it. Unhinge the chain. Open the door.

Diana is there, standing next to my mother. Both have tears in their eyes.

What now, I ask myself? What new tragedy have they come to reveal to me, to send me spiraling ever deeper into the hellish hole I”ve dug for myself. “What do you want,” I demand, hoping they”ll take their bad news elsewhere.

They push into the room and wrap me in their arms. They hold me and whisper that they love me. They tell me I am not alone, and they draw me away from the Pit.

͠ ͠ ͠

Roderyk sat beneath the oak tree, tears gently rolling down his cheeks, remembering how the love of his mother and his friend finally broke through the despair he”d allowed to dominate his life. It had taken years to come back, but it had all started that night. The decision to leave behind his false gods. To never worship them again.

He had begun working out in the gym the next day. Painfully disciplining his body as he disciplined his mind. Building a foundation for a transformed life.

He”d gradually begun living again. Spending time with friends, but never at the pubs. Going on walks in the Hainpark with his mother. Attending church with his family. Being invited to lead a scout group. Discovering he had something to offer once again, something of value, something others appreciated … himself.

He felt a soft hand on his shoulder and looked up to see Auntie standing behind him, smiling.

She patted his shoulder and said, “I”ve made brownies for dessert. Thick, gooey, chocolaty brownies with cream cheese frosting and walnuts. But you can”t have one `til you eat up all your ham and mashed taters. Dessert is the reward a good boy gets for cleanin” up his plate.” She winked and smiled even brighter.

Roderyk wiped away his tears and stood to his feet, taking Auntie in his arms and hugging her.

“Come on, my boy. Food”s getting” cold while we”re out here carryin” on like this.” She pulled away and took his hand, leading him into the house.

The food was delicious. The brownies were heavenly, though Roderyk only allowed himself a small one. The conversation was light-hearted, with never a word said about why Roderyk was crying underneath the tree. Whatever had caused his tears, it was over now, and he was truly at peace.


The end of UNCAGED, Chapter Nine


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