Enter Battleground (Player vs. Player) (part 1)
Location: Shady Side, Maryland
Timeline: June 21st, 2010
Tags: Devon, Dev, Deo, Kyle, Valerie, Jeff, Mae, Spencer, Wilson
As far as downtowns went, Shady Side gave all new definition to the term “dull”. There wasn't much to do. A few shops stood scattered along the street though very few of them held any interest for Devon Spencer and his young cousin, Kyle. Their Aunt Tina's clinic held their attention for a few minutes, but not for particularly long.
This gave the elder boy time to think back over the last few months, and reflect. One big change after another hit Devon from the start of the new year. First, January and the disastrous visit to see the family. Devon had been away from home for three years, staying in touch with his mother and sister only through phone calls and online messaging. He only wanted to visit long enough to share the big news about his trip to Paris and give his little nephews their Christmas presents, but fate proved unkind. Greg Spencer, Devon’s father returned home drunk and nearly choked his son to death. That led to criminal charges that changed their lives forever.
Secondly, the rescue of Maddie Chamberlain. A little old lady, a popular patron and a fond acquaintance of Devon nearly died in a vehicle crash outside the coffee house where the young artist worked. He responded instantly, risking life and limb to rescue Maddie. This opened doors of opportunity that Devon never dreamed. More, it brought to the fore a change in Devon that continued to perplex him. Next, love entered Devon’s life.
A handsome new employee at the coffee house, Bobbie Mitchum caught the artist’s attention. Devon found the courage, for the first time to ask for a date. He and Bobbie bonded deeply, passionately, spending every day they could together. For Devon, it seemed like a dream come true but it was also a shock. He had never dated. He had no concept of relationships and in time, it became clear that he and Bobbie moved too fast. Immediately after, Devon learned that his mother lied about his parentage. The man whom Devon thought was his father, the man who terrorized him and left his soul rent and scarred for the rest of his life was not his father.
Fast on the heels of this, the artist smoked pot for the first time. Immediately after, Devon grew deathly ill and then he recovered, just as quickly and as mysteriously. Before Devon could think through his near brush with death, his Uncle Andy revealed the deep dark secret about Devon’s father-who-was-not-really-his-father, Greg. Suddenly, Devon could no longer look on the man that tortured him with hate. He saw a dark reflection of what Devon could become and vowed to take action. This led to a dramatic confrontation in the courtroom. Devon was free, finally free, and once he had time to stop and breathe everything that snowballed over these past few months caught up. He needed to get away, to think, to reflect, and to find himself if indeed he ever knew who he was. Shady Side might have been boring, but right now Devon needed boring. The very fact that his body twitched restlessly proved that he needed to calm down. That led him to today.
Kyle seemed to latch on to Devon from the moment they met. Devon spent time with his younger cousin and in time Kyle confided his deep dark secret, that like Devon, he was gay. Devon felt suddenly protective of his cousin. Devon could not put his finger on it but having Kyle turn to him triggered something in the artist; something Devon needed.
The young artist never knew a healthy relationship with his brothers growing up. They tormented him as their father did, following his twisted example. Kyle was the first male in the family to treat Devon with any degree of kindness and respect. Kyle looked up to him. He trusted Devon and Devon wanted to set a good example for him. Was this what it was like to be a man? Was this how it felt to have a little brother?
Devon responded powerfully to Kyle and too with Kyle’s elder sister, Melissa. He wanted to protect them. He wanted to be there for them. He wanted to earn their love and trust. He wanted them to look up to him and feel proud. He wanted to feel proud.
It was a good feeling if strange. Devon had no clue how to be there for his young cousins, but he resolved to be there for them. Sadly, being a good role model was not something Devon could look up on Google. He realized, painfully that he was only two years older than Melissa and five years Kyle’s elder. “The blind leading the deaf” came to mind. Devon feared he might be the chief lemming leading the others over the cliff. Was this manhood? What were these strange feelings? Where were they leading him and why did he feel such a fervent need to follow them to the end? These questions joined others on the heap until finally, two wise words came to mind.
Devon needed rest. Everything would sort itself out in time. He only needed to give himself that time and refrain from his habit of grabbing onto new tidbits of information and chewing them down like a squirrel with acorns. Let things be. Damn, but it felt so hard just to relax! Devon looked at his young cousin and wondered if Kyle knew how much Devon needed him?
Kyle seemed normal and well-adjusted. He had a family that loved him and doted on him. To Devon, his cousin was a map toward what he needed. Maybe watching Kyle might help Devon heal? Could it be that simple? Could Kyle help Devon put the pieces of his shattered soul together into something remotely healthy? There was only one way to find out.
The two cousins walked down the streets of Shady Side with Devon hopping from one concrete lane divider to the next out of sheer boredom. The official start of summer was a few weeks off but already the sun bore down relentlessly. Devon dressed for the weather in a ribbed white tank shirt, khaki shorts and climbing boots. If not for his earrings and tattoos he might have blended in as any other member of this sleepy little burg. As it stood he drew stares as if he was some kind of exotic alien. An elderly couple stared blatantly as he passed. Deo waited until they were out of earshot to comment to his young cousin, “I feel like checking my fly every time they do that. What’s their damage, anyway? Nobody here wears earrings or has tats?” He looked around at the people and noticed, “Forget I said that.”
Kyle chuckled. “Dude, you’re the coolest thing to ever happen to this town. They don’t know how to deal.”
“That makes two of us,” Devon scratched the back of his head. “Maybe it’s because Williamsburg is a college town but it’s no big deal there. Hell, but back home I’m boring and normal.” He paused, “What’s to eat around here?