One Door Closes

By MultiMapper
Copyright ©2002-2009 MultiMapper and CSU Productions.
All Rights Reserved.

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"A brother?" Kevin asked in complete shock.

"Yes, according to the call I got from your dad's lawyer, we're Kenny's only living relatives."

"Mom, you said dad died when I was a baby and you never said I had a brother."  Kevin said with tears forming in his eyes.

"I know Kevin, and I don't have time to tell you the whole story. Your father and I had a nasty divorce, your dad got Kenny and I got you. We were so hateful with each other that the judge decreed that we have no contact. Since each of us had one of you and we earned about the same money, there was no alimony or child support. He moved away and that's the last I heard of him until yesterday. His lawyer called and said that your dad had died and we were Kenny's only living relatives." She said without emotion.

"So when is he coming?" Kevin asked slowly, trying to take it all in.

"He'll be here in about three hours. He'll just have a suitcase. He left the rest of his things with a friend of his dad's and we'll worry about that later." She said seriously.

"Okay... where is he going to stay?" Kevin asked as he tried to gauge his mother's emotions... finding none.

"He'll have to share your room. You can get the winter blankets out and make a pallet on the floor by your bed. I'll let you two work out who sleeps there." She said, then looked at her watch.

"Listen, I've got to get ready for work so you need to get ready to go to the airport and bring him back here. His flight will arrive at three. Meet him at the baggage claim." She said and handed him money for bus fare.

"But... how will I know him? I've never seen him before." Kevin said with panic in his voice.

"He's your twin, your identical twin. That means he looks like you. God! No wonder they put you in the 'special' class." She said and hurried out of the room.

Kevin remained seated as he stared into a place only he could see.

* * * * *

Kevin watched the people claiming their luggage, trying to see a familiar face.

Three plane loads of people had come and gone since he'd been watching and his apprehension only grew.

Finally he noticed someone looking around, someone close to his age.

Kevin raced across the room and said "Kenny? Is that you?"

The boy stared at Kevin in wonder and finally said, "Yeah... I thought you were supposed to look like me."

Kevin assessed the boy in front of him. He was nearly two inches taller than he was. Kenny's dark brown hair was spiked and stood straight up unlike Kevin's straight, nearly shoulder length hair of exactly the same color. Kenny wasn't only taller, he was much heavier, not fat but sturdy... muscled. And his skin was a healthy tan.

Kenny looked at this smaller version of himself. The boy was skinny. The first thing he thought of when he saw Kevin was a scrawney weed, fighting to grow. The boy's skin was nearly white as milk and he looked like he'd shatter into pieces if you touched him too hard. His hair needed serious trimming, adding tremendously to the 'weed' effect. Although Kenny knew that Kevin was eleven... almost twelve, the boy in front of him looked to be nine years old at the most.

"We do kinda look alike in the face, but you look older than me." Kevin said as he stared into Kenny's brown eyes.

"Yeah. Maybe we're the other kind of twins, not identical." Kenny said as he picked up his suitcase.

"I guess. Come on, we've got to get to the train station to get home." Kevin said, leading the way.

"Where's mom?" Kenny asked in surprise.

"She had to work. I'm here to show you the way home. Don't worry, I know all the trains and busses in town." Kevin said with a smile and led the way.

* * * * *

"How far are we away from your house?" Kenny asked cautiously.

"I don't know in miles, but once we get off the train, we'll have to take two busses then walk a few blocks." Kevin said seriously.

"Okay, uh, why don't you tell me about you?" Kenny asked curiously.

"Nothin to tell. I'm me. That's it." Kevin said with a shrug.

"Come on, there's got to be something to tell. What do you do for fun? What games do you like to play? How's your school? Who are your friends?" Kenny prompted.

"Um, I dunno. I just mess around town for fun... I go to the park or the river. I'm not really good at games and stuff. I hate school, it's boring... and I don't have any friends." Kevin finished in almost a whisper.

"Sounds like a fun place." Kenny muttered as he noticed the town passing outside the train becoming less colorful and more depressing and concrete.

"I guess. Florida sounds nice. What's it like there?" Kevin asked hopefully.

"I had fun. We lived right on a lake and I'd go swimming all the time. I only have a couple close friends but we had a great time. I love to play basketball... even though I'm not that good at it... I'm kinda short for it." Kenny finished with a shrug.

"I've never played basketball, I wasn't allowed. I don't have to play in gym anymore. I kept falling over so the coach said I could just sit and watch." Kevin said quietly.

"Why'd you fall over?" Kenny asked curiously.

"I don't know. After I'd play for a few minutes, my knees would just go funny and then I'd be on the floor." Kevin said shyly.

"Did you go to a doctor for it?" Kenny asked with concern.

"The school wanted me to, but mom said 'if he falls down when he plays, and you don't want him to fall down, don't let him play.' and she said it real nasty and they didn't make me play in gym anymore." Kevin said quietly.

"That don't sound right, but whatever. Tell me about your classes, what subjects are you taking?" Kenny asked, trying to push away the uneasy feeling that was growing in him.

"I don't really have any classes. A couple years ago they put me in the LD class and since then all I do is sit around while the teacher talks." Kevin said in thought.

"What's LD?" Kenny asked curiously.

"Learning Disabled." Kevin said quietly.

"What does that mean?" Kenny asked, he knew but was interested in what Kevin thought it meant.

"It means I'm too dumb to learn stuff like reading and math." Kevin said, sounding like he was about to cry.

"Kevin?" Kenny asked in nearly a whisper.

"Yeah?" Kevin responded, looking up with tears in his eyes.

"It doesn't matter to me if you're in the LD class, okay?" Kenny said seriously, holding Kevin's gaze.

"Really? You don't care if I'm dumb?" Kevin asked hopefully.

"No Kevin, I don't care at all. But can you do me a favor?" Kenny asked quietly.

"What?" Kevin asked with a note of fear.

"Please don't call yourself dumb. It makes me feel bad when I hear you say it." Kenny asked seriously.

"Yeah, um... okay. I can do that." Kevin said with assurance.

"Good. That's what I hoped. Now how much longer do we have to stay on this train?" Kenny asked, hoping to change the subject.

Kevin looked out the window and said, "Two more stops, then we get off and get the number eight bus."

"Okay, you're the one who knows where we're going." Kenny said, watching Kevin closely.

* * * * *

After leaving the train and getting on the bus, there was no more chance for conversation. The busses were too full for anything but trying to stay together.

Finally as they started to walk, Kenny noticed the neighborhood and asked, "Are you sure it's safe here?"

"Yeah, we're almost there. Don't worry, I've lived around here all my life." Kevin said then stopped when he saw someone approaching.

"Hey Trash, who's your friend?" The older boy asked.

"Hi Johnny, this is my brother Kenny." Kevin said timidly.

"You a retard like Trash?" Johnny asked with a sneer.

"We gotta go Johnny. Jake's waiting on us and we can't be late." Kevin said and grabbed Kenny's arm to pull him.

"Go on. I'll catch you later." Johnny said and started walking again.

"Come on Ken, we'd better hurry." Kevin said and continued to pull him toward the doorway of the next building.

"What was that all about?" Kenny asked as he tried to get his suitcase to cooperate.

"I'll tell you when we get upstairs." Kevin said and opened the door.

"You live here?" Kenny asked in horror as the stench of stale urine flooded out the door.

"Yeah. Come on. I wanna try and catch Jake before he leaves." Kevin said and started up the stairs.

"Right behind ya." Kenny said with worry as he tried to breathe only through his mouth.

Up and up they went, each new level of the slum being worse than the one before.

When they reached the third floor, Kevin looked down the hall and called out, "Jake, you got a minute?"

"Yeah buddy, what'cha got for me?" A boy, maybe sixteen years old asked as he remained seated in the hallway.

"Johnny caught me outside and tried to start his shit with me. I told him you were waiting on me." Kevin said as he walked to stand beside Jake.

"He knows he ain't supposed to be around here. If I see him, I'll remind him that he ain't welcomed on our block. If Daddy K sees him first, he ain't gonna bother no one no more." Jake said and started to push a needle into a well used vein.

"I ain't gonna be able to do nothin for a few days, my brother's here and I want to hang with him." Kevin said seriously.

"Yeah, there's plenty of guys around to mule for Daddy K, you two have a good time. Does your bro need anything?" Jake asked hopefully as he withdrew the needle.

"If he does, I'll wait till you get back. I wouldn't let him buy from anyone else." Kevin said with a smile.

"Is he old enough to want... you know?" Jake asked, looking at Kenny questioningly as he released the oversized rubber band that had been tied around his bicep.

"If he does, we'll catch you later. Now you need to enjoy your party and get to work. We're going upstairs." Kevin said with another smile.

"Right. If you hear any noise tonight, keep your head in. Daddy K's been having trouble with Spade. It could blow up tonight." Jake said seriously.

"Gotcha. Have fun." Kevin said and led the way back to the stairs.

Kenny gave one last look over his shoulder to see Jake rest his head back against the wall in aparant bliss.

* * * * *

Another flight of stairs and Kevin led them down a hallway, then another. The twists and turns confused Kenny to the point that he lost all sense of direction and felt like they were heading back to the stairs.

"Are we close?" Kenny asked hopefully.

"Yeah, it's two doors past Lupé." Kevin said and pointed to a rail thin girl smoking a cigarette with one hand and holding a phone in the other.

As they got closer, Kenny noticed that she had horrible open sores all over her arms and face.

"Mamacita won't let Lupé smoke in the apartment so she's almost always out in the hall." Kevin said as they passed her

Kevin finally stopped at a door and pulled out a key on a long chain from around his neck.

Kenny looked at the door, hoping that he could see some identifier so he could recognize it if he were on his own... not that he'd want to be on his own here in his worst nightmare.

The door finally opened and they walked in.

What Kenny saw was the last thing he expected. It was a clean little living room. The air smelled of stale cigarette smoke, but everything was clean and tidy.

Kevin locked the door efficiently, and began to walk away.

"Our room is over here." Kevin said quickly and walked down the hallway.

Kenny hurried to follow and was shocked again. The room they entered was nearly empty. There was a beat up dresser, a bed and a pile of blankets made to serve as a bed in the floor. Besides that, there was no furniture, nothing on the walls, just an empty room.

"This is your room?" Kenny finally asked.

"Yeah. We're going to share it. I hope you don't mind. But we've only got two bedrooms." Kevin answered in an apologetic tone.

"No problem. It's just so clean... I kinda thought you'd have toys or magazines or something." Kenny stammered in response.

"Mom can't afford that stuff. Besides, I don't like to have a lot of stuff in case we need to move quick." Kevin said seriously.

"Does that happen often?" Kenny asked with worry.

"Once or twice a year. If she can't make rent, we have to move in the middle of the night and we can only take what we can carry." Kevin said then walked to the closet.

"There's plenty of room for your stuff in here." Kevin said and gestured into the open closet door.

Kenny walked over to look inside and saw two shirts hanging in there... nothing else.

"Do you want to share my dresser or should I move my stuff so you can have a drawer of your own?" Kevin asked as he pulled open first one, then a second dresser drawer. There were two pairs of threadbare Y-front cotton briefs and five pairs of socks in the top drawer. There were two T-Shirts and a pair of short pants neatly folded in the second.

"What's in the bottom drawer?" Kenny asked carefully.

"That's my pictures. I'd kinda like it if you wouldn't look in there." Kevin said shyly.

"I won't look unless you tell me it's okay. I promise." Kenny said seriously.

Kevin gave a wide grin that was amazing given his aparant existance.

"So you wanna unpack now?" Kevin asked as he looked at the suitcase by the door.

"You mind if I wait. I'm really hungry. The only food they gave us on the flight was like a little mini sandwich thing and I'm starving." Kenny said hopefully.

"Yeah, come on. I'll show you the kitchen." Kevin said with enthusiasm.

* * * * *

"Would you like a peanut butter sandwich?" Kevin asked as he looked first in the refrigerator, then the cupboards.

"Yeah. Okay." Kenny said slowly.

He had seen that there was almost nothing in the cupboards as Kevin had quickly gone through them.

"Here." Kevin said as he handed Kenny a sandwich of peanut butter and bread.

"Um, do you have any jelly?" Kenny asked hopefully.

  "Mom said she couldn't get it this pay. We could get peanut butter OR jelly. I'm glad she picked the peanut butter, the jelly tastes good but I don't stay full." Kevin said as he carefully washed off the knife that he used to spread the peanut butter, then dried it and put it back in the drawer.

"You got any milk to drink?" Kenny asked, feeling like a complete burdon.

"No. Mom only gets milk when she needs it for cooking." Kevin said as he filled a glass of water from the tap.

Kenny accepted the glass of water and watched as the milky looking water swirled in the glass. He sniffed the water before he attempted to drink any and smelled a strong chlorene aroma.

After finishing his second bite of his sandwich followed by a second small drink of water, Kenny asked, "Aren't you going to eat anything?"

"I don't think I should. If mom don't make enough tips to buy us food tonight, we'll have to make this last. Besides, I already ate today." Kevin said and watched Kenny carefully.

"Then will you share this with me?" Kenny asked, suddenly feeling less hungry.

"Yeah, tear off a piece and we'll share it." Kevin said happily, like it was the most special thing in his whole life.

Kenny carefully pulled off a piece of the sandwich which was approximately half of the original sandwich.

"That's too much. You're bigger, you need more food." Kevin protested.

"We're brothers. Twins. We get the same." Kenny said firmly.

"Okay." Kevin said reluctantly but accepted the sandwich.

"Um, what do you want to do now?" Kenny asked as he took another bite of his half sandwich.

"Can you tell me about Dad? Mom always told me he was dead and never told me I had a brother till today." Kevin asked hopefully.

"She... I can't believe that." Kenny said in wonder.

"Did Dad tell you about me?" Kevin asked quietly.

"Yeah, all the time. He was always planning to wait till we were fourteen and then come and find you because when you're fourteen, you can choose which parent you live with." Kenny said seriously.

"Really? He wanted me?" Kevin asked in wonder.

"Yeah. I guess you kinda grew up as an only child. I grew up as a brother. Every holiday, everytime we talked about the future, sometimes for no reason at all, Dad would talk about you like you were just out of town for the weekend." Kenny said with a fond smile.

"I wish I coulda known him. He sounds nice." Kevin said as he propped his elbows on the table and rested his chin on the heels of his hands.

"He was great. He was like my Dad, my big brother and my best friend all rolled into one. I don't know how..." Kenny trailed off as tears began to fall down his cheeks.

"How did he die?" Kevin asked as he got out of his chair and stood beside Kenny, putting an arm around his shoulder.

"He got sick. He was sick for nearly two months before he died. He made me promise to come here and be with you. It's the last thing he asked me to do for him. Even though he didn't get to see you for over nine years, he loved you just the same as he loved me." Kenny said, then turned in his chair to pull Kevin into a full hug.

* * * * *

"You wanna watch TV or somethin? We got three channels." Kevin said after washing the water glass and putting it away.

"Um, no. I've got some questions and I was hoping you could answer." Kenny said hesitantly.

"I'll try. I'm not too smart... sorry, it's hard not to say that. What's your question?" Kevin asked shyly.

"Well, I guess I'll work in reverse order. What's wrong with Lupé? Why does she have all those sores?" Kenny asked as he sat on the couch.

Kevin sat on the other end of the couch and said, "That's from meth. She was hookin and makin good money for a while then she started on the coke and the meth. Now that she's all skinny and skanky she can't hardly get anyone to pay her for sex anymore so she's stayin with her mom."

"You said 'hardly', are you saying that there's people who'd pay to sleep with someone who looked like that?" Kenny asked in disgust.

"Yeah. Jake said that when you gotta bust a nut real bad, you don't care as much who you're with. But he also said he ain't never had to bust a nut *that* bad." Kevin said simply.

"I'll have to take his word on that. What about Jake? Was that heroin?" Kenny asked and turned to face Kevin more fully.

"Uh huh. He's been using for almost a year that I know of. He used to live in these apartments. Now he crashes in the hall or on the stairs sometimes. Just about everybody likes him and he don't mess with no one, so no one minds him crashing here if he needs a place." Kevin said and turned to mirror Kenny's position.

"So was that what he was offering to sell me?" Kenny asked hesitantly.

"Yeah. Heroin, meth, weed or whatever else you're into. He's really cool. He doesn't push anyone to use, but if they're going to anyway, he'll sell it to 'em." Kevin said in thought.

"What about that part about me being old enough. What was that?" Kenny asked curiously.

"Sex. Depending on how much you pay him, he'll give you a hand job, blow you or let you fuck his ass. He said he won't fuck no one's ass because he's afraid he'll give 'em AIDS or somethin." Kevin said casually.

"Does he have AIDS?" Kenny asked with worry.

"Maybe. He don't know, but he said he ain't gonna do the stuff to give it to no one else in case he does." Kevin said in thought.

"Have you ever known anyone who had it?" Kenny asked carefully.

"Yeah. I knew four people who died from it and I know about six more who're waitin to get ripe." Kevin said with a sad look.

"Get ripe?" Kenny asked cautiously.

"Um, go from HIV to full blown AIDS. They know they got it and are waiting to get all sick and skinny and stuff. I think that's why Jake don't get tested. If he's got it, he don't want to have to wait to die. He wants to wait till it makes him sick, then he won't have too long." Kevin said in thought.

"So you don't think people who have AIDS are evil or dirty or bad?" Kenny asked cautiously.

"No. They're sick. Germs don't care if you're good or bad or dirty or gay or a hooker or a druggie. It's a germ, it just does it's thing and makes you sick." Kevin said seriously.

Kenny nodded and sat silently for a long moment.

"Why?" Kevin finally asked.

"Cause that's what Dad died from. Pop said I wasn't supposed to tell anyone here because they might think he was bad or something." Kenny said slowly.

Kevin saw the distress on Kenny's face and moved across the couch to give him another hug.

"I'm sorry he's dead. I always wanted a dad." Kevin whispered.

"He always wanted you too Kev." Kenny whispered back.

* * * * *

They held each other for a long while and then Kenny finally asked, "What's the deal with you working for Daddy K?"

"Sometimes I carry stuff for him when he's too busy. I don't sell the stuff, but sometimes I carry it to the people who do... but never off this block." Kevin finished quickly.

"Why not off this block?" Kenny asked slowly.

"Cause Spade wants me to do whorin for him and I don't wanna do it. I stay away from him and his guys." Kevin said nervously.

"You mean he wants to be your pimp?" Kenny asked in disbelief.

"Yeah, and I never done no sex stuff and I don't want to. You see what it done to Jake and Lupé. It was the whorin that started it all. Nothin good comes of it." Kevin said seriously.

"You know, you may be right bro. I never thought about it like that before but I can see what you mean." Kenny said seriously.

"Really?" Kevin asked in wonder.

"What?" Kenny asked in confusion.

"Did I really know something you didn't?" Kevin asked in excitement.

"Kev, you know lots of things I don't. I've never been around drugs of any kind before. I'm guessing that smell on the second floor was weed, but I never smelled it before today. I don't know anything about how to live like this and I'm scared as hell... and I admire you so much because you've lived here all your life and are still a wonderful person." Kenny said seriously.

Kevin blushed and hid his face in Kenny's shoulder.

"Kev, it's the truth. I probably wouldn't have made it to the apartment without you... even if I could find it. I've never lived in a place like this before and don't know how I'll survive." Kenny said in thought.

"It ain't that hard. You just got to get rid of all that stuff about which group is good and which group is bad. They're all people and there's some good ones in every group, and a few bad ones too." Kevin finished sadly.

"You don't look like you want to talk about it. but if you ever do, I'll always listen to you. I love you bro." Kenny finished in a whisper.

"I love you too Ken." Kevin said as he pulled Kenny in tight for a hug.

"It's getting dark. Would you mind if I don't unpack tonight. I'll just get what I need out of the suitcases and get ready for bed. I know it's early, but I'm really tired." Kenny said into his brother's hair.

"Okay. I need to clean up the kitchen before we go to bed." Kevin said and hurried into the kitchen.

"You washed the dishes when I finished using them. What is there to clean?" Kenny asked as he looked around the spotless room.

"There are bread crumbs on the counter and the table. I need to wipe those off and wipe out the sink." Kevin said as he began to clean.

"Is there anything I can do to help?" Kenny asked cautiously.

"No. This will just take a minute. Mom says if we keep the place clean, then the roaches won't come back because they won't have anything to eat." Kevin said as he wiped down the tabletop.

"I know how they feel." Kenny muttered to himself as he opened the refrigerator.

"What are you looking for?" Kevin asked as he moved to Kenny's side.

"I just wanted to see what we've got... catsup, mustard, baking soda... maybe I'll make soup?" Kenny teased.

"I made tomato soup out of catsup a few times. Mom don't like me doin that cause it uses up a lot of catsup and she can't always afford to buy more." Kevin said, then started wiping the water droplets out of the sink basin.

"What are we going to eat in the morning?" Kenny asked, hoping there was an answer.

"We'll have to see if mom had enough tips to buy us food tonight. If she did, then we'll have something special for supper." Kevin said with a smile.

"Okay, are you done?" Kenny asked as he watched Kevin put the stopper firmly in the sink.

Kevin looked at Kenny's curious expression and said, "It keeps anything from coming up the drain when the lights are out."

Kenny gave an involuntary shudder and said, "I'm with Jake, there are some things you are better off not knowing."

* * * * *

Kevin automatically went to lay down on the pallet in the floor as Kenny said, "Why don't you come up here and talk to me for a while?"

"Okay." Kevin said and moved to the bed to sit beside Kenny.

"I know you probably don't want to talk about it, but why did Johnny call you 'Trash'?" Kenny asked quietly.

"Oh, that don't bother me. Johnny calls me that cause he's an asshole. He caught me digging through a dumpster looking for food and started telling everyone at school about it. I don't mind because I know I'm better than him." Kevin said, but Kenny could tell that it did bother him.

"Why are you better?" Kenny asked cautiously.

"We all do stuff we don't want people to know about. I dig in trash sometimes and I've stole a few things from the store. Johnny whores for Spade..." Kevin said, but was interrupted.

"So trash digging and shoplifting is better than whoring?" Kenny asked in surprise.

"No. It's all the same. The stuff we do cause we got to. I'm better cause I don't tell no one that Johnny sells his ass. He makes fun of me cause it makes him feel better bout himself. I don't say nothin for the same reason. I think my reason is right so I think I'm a better person." Kevin said in thought.

"I think you're right." Kenny said with a smile.

"So you ain't ashamed to have a brother who done stuff like that?" Kevin asked hesitantly as he looked into Kenny's eyes.

"No. I'd do the same thing if I had to live like you do. But why don't you get foodstamps or something? You shouldn't have to do that for food." Kenny said in thought.

"Don't never talk about that with mom, okay. It just pisses her right off." Kevin said quickly.

"Your mom don't like to take charity?" Kenny asked in surprise.

"No. They say she makes too much money to get foodstamps. It makes her so mad she'll be screaming, so don't say nothing about it. Besides, she says if she can get the paperwork done right, she's gonna start getting disability checks from Social Security cause I'm learning disabled." Kevin said darkly.

"You don't sound happy about it." Kenny said as he watched his brother closely.

"Once you get on it, you don't get off. I wanna get a job someday and be someone. If I get on the Social Security, it's like, I'll be sitting around and waiting for my government money to come in. That's my job. And if I do anything to earn money, then I lose the Social Security money. I'll never be any better off than I am right now." Kevin finished in a defeated tone.

"I'll do whatever I can to see that it don't work like that Kev. I promise." Kenny said as he pulled his brother close.

"No one ever hugged me like you do. I kinda like it." Kevin said from the embrace.

"Dad and Pop hugged me all the time. I miss them so much." Kenny said, then quickly released Kevin and ran to his suitcase.

"What's wrong?" Kevin asked in surprise.

"I forgot to call Pop to tell him I got here okay." Kenny said as he pulled out his cellphone.

"Oh. Um, who's Pop?" Kevin asked cautiously.

"That was Dad's boyfriend. He's been like my other father for the last three years." Kenny said as he waited for his Pop to answer the phone.

"Pop. I'm here and I'm okay. Call me back when you get this, I really need to talk to you. I love you. Bye." Kenny said into the phone, then hung up.

"He wasn't there?" Kevin asked quietly.

"He probably was. He doesn't leave the house anymore or answer the phone... I think he wants to die so he can be with Dad." Kenny said as he went back to the bed to sit by Kevin.

Kevin gently put an arm around Kenny and they remained silent, each thinking their own thoughts.

To Be Continued...