There were tents spread out everywhere. Samir wandered amongst them, snatching glances here and there, sometimes looking inside. A block of toilets, square cabins, stood in a neat row. The smell said it all. People moved about, no one looked at him, probably no one even noticed he was there.
He was alright for now. Just walking around, trying to see where everything was. Except all there was were the tents and not much else. Eventually he found himself not even looking anymore. Shuffling along thinking his own thoughts. One of those playing in his head was what he would do tonight.
It was February and at night, the temperature dropped as soon as the sun went down. It could be zero, or dip below, and he really didn’t want to be outside. There was no shelter. He couldn’t just go up to people. He didn’t know how things worked. Everybody might be in the same situation, but everybody only cared about themselves. Well, themselves and their own family.
Lost in his own thoughts, he jumped, startled by a hand grabbing his arm. For a split second he was back in the city being pulled from the rubble.
“What’s your name?” Someone was asking.
He spun round and looked directly up into the face of a boy. A boy older than him. A boy with the faint beginnings of a moustache. A boy with an odd look, somewhere between nice and nasty. Samir couldn’t decide which. He said nothing.
The boy tugged his arm, looked at him with a stony glare. It was like he was deciding something, making up his mind.
“You’re new,” the boy spoke again. “Got nowhere to go?”
Was that a question or a statement? Was this a way out of his predicament, or just a cruel observation? The older boy let go of Samir’s arm. Instead, he now had his arm over Samir’s shoulders.
“I’ll take care of you.”
The words echoed inside his head. Those were the same words spoken in the makeshift city hospital. Nobody ever did, take care of him. But Samir didn’t resist as the boy with his arm around his shoulders, pulled him along.
They weaved their way between the tents. Samir tried, but failed to work out where they were. All the tents looked alike, more or less. There were no landmarks. Only the toilet block, but he’d forgotten in what direction that was.
“I’m Amar,” the boy said.
Amar brought him into a tent. They stopped. Samir looked around. It was empty apart from various bundles of clothes or blankets, and whatever else, in little piles scattered around. Amar led Samir to the far corner, patted a small pile covered with a blanket.
“This is us.” Amar looked intently at Samir. “You can sleep here tonight.”
Samir sat down on the floor of the tent. He looked up at this older boy who called himself Amar. He had mixed feelings, but he was tired. Tired from everything. The journey here. Walking around aimlessly. Tired from thinking.
As if Amar knew this, he moved to take the blanket off the small pile. Carefully he laid it on the ground. Samir saw what he was doing and helped, taking hold of one side. Next Amar took a large sleeping bag and spread it out on top of the blanket.
“Stay here,” he told him. “I’ll be back later… before it gets dark,”
When Amar left, Samir stretched out on top of the soft sleeping bag. Kicked off his sneakers and left them next to what he thought must be Amar’s clothes. He turned on his side facing the wall of the tent and fell asleep.
It was dark when Samir felt hands on him, shaking him awake.
“We need to get inside the sleeping bag.”
It was Amar who had woken him. He sat up and moved off the sleeping bag. Amar pulled a zip up one side, not quite all the way. Then he leaned over and did the same the other side.
He took his shoes off and crawled inside. Then lay facing Samir and patted the sleeping bag, gesturing for Samir to join him. It was much smaller now it was folded in two, but big enough for two boys, just. Samir crawled inside and lay down with his back to the other boy.
Amar leaned away from Samir and zipped up the bag on his side. Samir heard him do this and he did the same. He could feel Amar’s body snuggled up next to him. He felt warm, but he was also nervous.
Amar’s arm came across Samir’s body and he snuggled up against his back. He felt his breath on the back of his neck. But that was all, and Samir drifted back to sleep. He hoped he wouldn’t dream, because when he dreamt he flung his arms around. He knew because those dreams always woke him up, that’s how he remembered. Those were the worst nightmares.
When he woke it was not because it was light, although the darkness seemed less dark. Neither was it a bad dream that stirred him awake. He felt hands pulling on his jeans, he thought he was reliving the rescue, but it wasn’t the same.
The hands were Amar’s, and he had pulled Samir’s jeans halfway down his bottom. The other boy leaned over Samir and whispered in his ear.
“I like you,” The hands pushed at his jeans. “Move,” the voice ordered and Samir lifted his hips.
In one swift move Samir’s jeans and old torn underpants were pushed down towards his knees. The hands left Samir and he felt Amar fidgeting, moving, undoing his own jeans. Samir just lay there. What else could he do? He was trapped, like a spider traps a fly. He’d been drawn into the web and could only wait for the spider to pounce.
Samir had seen his older brother playing with himself. They had even touched each other. His brother had told him that one day he would be able to do the same. Once or twice he did it for his brother. There was nothing but sadness when he remembered that time. The expression on his brother’s face, his happiness, he could clearly see the smile, the moment of complete contentment as his brother closed his eyes.
Samir could feel the older boy’s manhood prodding into him. Amar moved his hand and he heard him spit into it. He knew what could happen between men and boys, or older boys and younger boys. He knew about it, but it had never happened to him.
There again, hot breath in his ear as Amar spoke softly. “You’ll like it.”
But he didn’t. He gasped. The pain shot through his body. He almost screamed out, but a hand covered his mouth.
“Keep quiet,” Amar said in his ear.
Amar pushed Samir over, crawled to lie on top of him. His hips pushed into Samir and his manhood penetrated the boy.
Hands forced his back and head into the ground. Samir’s insides were on fire, Amar paused. The pain slowly subsided, ebbing away. Amar was nibbling the young boy’s ear lobe, stroking his hair.
“You’re a virgin,” Amar whispered.
The younger boy just lay there.
“You’re so tight.”
The initial pain had passed. The boy lying on top of him and thrusting was giving Samir a weird feeling, something he’d never experienced.
The speed of the older boy’s movements intensified. His breath on the back of Samir’s neck quickened. Then it was over, Amar lay spent on top of the boy.
“I like you,” he heard Amar say again. “Please tell me your name.”
There was a change in tone to the older boy’s voice when he asked his name, but he didn’t reply. Amar brought a cloth from somewhere and Samir felt the material on his bottom.
“Don’t mess the sleeping bag,” Amar’s voice had returned to a harsher tone. “Get up and go clean yourself.”
Samir couldn’t help a tear escaping the corner of his eye. He did as he was told. Holding the cloth firmly against his bottom, he squeezed himself out of the sleeping bag.
As he stood, he tried to pull up his underpants and jeans whilst keeping the cloth in place. He struggled, but managed. When he’d finished and was standing there wondering where to go he noticed another boy, in a sleeping bag next to them, watching him.
Actually there were two boys in that bag too. The one watching him was propped up on one elbow, grinning. It was getting light outside, Samir could clearly see the grin on the boy’s face.
“Amar did you,” the boy smirked.
Samir looked down at Amar in the sleeping bag. He didn’t know where to go, where to clean up.
“Wait till you’re with me,” the boy watching him said. “I’ll fuck you proper.” He laughed and turned away.
“Left and down to the end, then right,” Amar was speaking to him. “Go clean yourself.”
Samir turned towards the entrance of the tent and moved outside into the chill morning air. Walking as quickly as he could in what he hoped was the right direction for the toilets. The little stones hurt his feet, he hadn’t bothered to put his sneakers on. He had wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible.
He found the toilets, flung open a cabin door, went inside and shut it. There was no lock, no toilet paper either. He dropped his jeans and underpants and sat down. He cleaned himself with the cloth. Only then did he begin to notice the smell.
Scrunching up the cloth, he got out into the fresh air. Walked away and then stood still. Breathing in with one huge breath. It was as if he had to gather all his energy, with all his will power, all of it back inside him.
Samir knew he would have to go back. He couldn’t stay barefoot. He would have to endure the knowing sneers of the boy in the next bed.
He started walking slowly.
A group a young men and boys were standing around an old oil drum that was alight. Some were warming themselves, some were drinking tea. He approached slowly. They looked at him, but said nothing. Getting near the drum he threw the soiled cloth inside. Then watched it flame and burn.
Samir turned when someone touched him. It was Amar.
“Stay here,” he said and gave Samir a little smile.
He watched him disappear into a nearby tent. That was the second time Samir felt just a tiny hint of softness in Amar’s voice. He was surprised when the older boy came walking back towards him with two glasses of hot steaming tea.
He looked Amar straight in the eyes as he handed him his tea.
Amar felt this boy was special. He knew he had feelings he didn’t want to own. He shouldn’t have taken advantage, that was wrong. Samir didn’t know he’d told Mohmmad, the boy next to them, ‘keep your dirty mouth shut.’
Watching the young boy drink his hot sweet tea in front of the fire, Amar wondered why he didn’t speak?