To celebrate their almost-victory, Henry and Patrick had used a fake ID to buy alcohol from the local corner shop down Patrick’s road. Nobody would believe Patrick was of legal age - he had such a baby face, even for a 12 year old. In fact, many people guessed his age at ten or eleven years old! So Henry of course was the one who had to do all the sweet talking and convincing. It was a good think the nice lady selling him the booze was rather dumb… Otherwise they would have come back empty handed. Henry would have become very irate if that had happened. He was already on edge considering the awful things that had just happened, but he didn’t want to mull over that any longer - so on with the drinks! They had bought a six pack of Budweiser considering Patrick’s parents were out at the Aladdin for the evening. Presumably they were watching some sappy romance film together and told Patrick that he were to lock up on his own and watch TV until they came back - no friends allowed! Did you really expect Patrick to obey his parents orders? Patrick was indifferent to whatever he didn’t want to hear. Especially coming from his father. Quite often it was ‘My way or the highway’ with Patrick, and his parents came to understand that. They were too weak-willed to discipline him, especially the mother. She didn’t believe in beating to teach good behaviour, in fact, she knew it had the complete opposite effect from her experiences as a child.
‘I can’t believe your mom let you have the house all to yourself while they go out!’ Henry yelled, flinging himself down on Patrick’s front porch, sitting with his legs far apart and his body relaxing flush against the balcony trimmings, ‘How fucking awesome is that!’ He attacked the six pack with his nails and sighed when he realised he’d need some scissors to get into it. He gestured for Patrick to bring him some, and Patrick scurried away quickly into his house and returned a few seconds later with them, forgetting how often his mom told him off for running with scissors.
‘I know, right! My mom’s real cool… Sometimes…’ Patrick giggled, shrugging his shoulders proudly, ‘My dad seemed to want me to come with them. But I think he’s just scared that I’ll stay home alone just so I can fuck boys,’ he added with a laugh, not noticing how Henry’s expression changed from relaxed to extremely uncomfortable at the last thing he just said. ‘He’s acting all stupid anyway… Just ignore everything he says, Henry. If he says anything to you, that is.’
Patrick carried on, jabbing at the plastic with his scissors; ‘Mom and dad think I’m a homo. They make me drink this stupid tea every morning - it doesn’t work, mind you - I just drink it ‘cuz it tastes good!’
‘Hmm,’ was all Henry could say. Really he wasn’t surprised that Patrick’s parents were acting all funny. However, Henry really, really, really didn’t want to have this conversation, so he simply grabbed a beer from Patrick’s outstretched hand and murmured a quick ‘thanks’.
Neither boy said anything for a while. Instead, they both sat listening to the crickets in the long grass in Patrick’s front yard. The smell of freshly-mown grass was strong in the late evening as the Hockstetter’s next door neighbour’s gardener had left just ten minutes earlier. It was sweet and fresh to Henry who was used to the smell of cow manure and Rena at his own home - so he had to admit he loved hanging out at Patrick’s house. It was ten o’clock and the fireflies were out already, lighting up the dusky sky with their flickering, hovering bodies. Patrick bit back the urge to teasingly tell Henry how romantic the porch looked at this time of night.
‘Um,’ began Henry, attracting Patrick’s attention with a quick jab of his elbow, ‘Maybe we should invite Vic n’ Belch? It’s kinda a lame party with just us two.’
‘Aww…’moaned Patrick, giving Henry a pouty, puppy-dog look, ‘But we can’t do anything fun with them around!’
Henry blinked, ‘I don’t know what you mean by ‘fun’, fuck-face, but I’m calling Vic and Belch. Where’s the phone?’
‘Just in the hall…’ sighed Patrick with a lazy point inside the house.
Without thanking the boy, Henry stormed inside his friend’s house, simply glad he wouldn’t be left alone with the ‘homo’ anymore.
Belch and Victor arrived together like always and threw themselves down on Patrick’s porch, either side of Henry. Patrick sat opposite Henry, not quite sure what to do with himself. He wasn’t entirely confident that Victor and Reginald liked him that well. He watched as their eyes wandered his home, half wanting to snap at them for making him feel so awkward in his own house!
‘Err, um… I’ll… go get some snacks,’ Patrick said quietly, keeping his eyes averted from the two sometimes-friends.
‘Man, I’m glad you’re here!’ Henry hissed at Victor and Belch, just discrete enough for Patrick not to hear, ‘He was going all funny again, like homo weird!’
‘Heh! Why are you even friends with that freak?’Belch laughed, waving his hand dismissively in the air. His knees were drawn up to his chest, making him look even more like a skeeter than usual. Victor sat on Henry’s other side, resting his head against the gap in between two railings, his arms folded across his chest. ‘I don’t get it Henry, you’ve been hanging out with Patrick so much that I thought you’d forgotten about us!’
‘No, Victor…’ Henry whispered, cautious that Patrick was making snacks in the kitchen - the kitchen that had a window directly near where the three boys were speaking. An open window at that! Shit! I Should really be more careful what I say near windows in future! ‘It’s summer school. I’ve been so fuckin’ busy with school and homework that I hadn’t had time to hang out with you guys. That’s all.’
‘Really?’ Belch raised his eyebrow cockily, ‘Or have you been so ‘busy’ with Patrick that you haven’t had time for us?’
Henry felt his face flush all over at that. He could tell Belch meant some kind of innuendo with what he said from his half-amused, half-malicious expression. Belch was rightfully crowned king of the innuendo! Before he could scream something insulting in reply, Patrick trotted out the front door carrying two large trays. In one bowl was popcorn - Henry guessed sweet - Patrick had a really big sweet tooth, and in the other were potato chips. A silver jug containing what Henry knew was iced tea was overflowing, and Victor went over to help him carry the load.
‘Ugh! Why bother with that shit, Patrick? We’ve got Budweiser, shit-for-brains!’ Henry said, waving one already half-empty can in the air.
‘Oh, sorry,’ Patrick giggled, feeling just a little shy around Henry’s two friends.
‘Well… I’m fine with the iced tea,’ Victor retorted, placing it sloppily on the floor in front of Henry and Belch. Belch looked up at him and gave him a questioning glance. ‘On second thought, I’ve never been drunk before, so this should be fun!’
There was an awkward silence between the boys - the last time they’d seen each other was just over a fortnight ago when they’d gone to the Aladdin to see the Brain Eaters.
‘Want one?’ Henry asked Belch, who reluctantly took a can from Patrick’s hand. He nodded in thanks then popped the can open, his face seeming just a little tense. After his first sip, Belch almost spat the strange brown liquid onto the floor it was so bitter. He laughed shakily, backhanding his mouth and told his friends how gross it tasted.
‘Oh, don’t be a baby!’Victor taunted, giving him a playful shove. Patrick suddenly grinned, remembering that time in the dump when he and Henry had ended up play fighting together.
‘Shut up, baby,’ Belch shot back, giving him a teasingly flirtatious wink just to get another reaction from Patrick, who laughed harder this time, shovelling a handful of popcorn into his mouth. ‘Maybe it would taste better if it were on your lips?’ At that, Patrick choked on the chips he was eating. Henry had gone silent, wondering what had gotten into his two friends since the last time they’d met. Were they doing this just to wind him up?
‘I know you want to kiss me, Reginald,’ smirked Victor with an over-exaggerated toss of his imaginary long hair, never usually using Belch’s formal name but in jest. ‘So just go ahead and do it!’ He leaned across Henry’s body (which had gone unusually frigid) and wrapped his arms around Belch’s neck, half sitting on Henry’s lap. Patrick was crying with laughter, seeing Henry’s extremely terrified, confused expression.
‘Gawd! That’s enough already!’ Henry said after clearing his throat loudly, ‘What, are you drunk already after just one sip of beer?!’
Both Victor and Belch burst out laughing, not caring that Patrick was in on the joke. ‘We’re just kidding you, man! Don’t get so worked up! Chill!’ Victor chortled, his face turning pink, still lying across his friend’s knee.
‘Aww, Henry! You’re so cute when you’re embarrassed!’ Patrick simpered, his smile sarcastic and eyes burning like when his mother was having a particularly tough day and his father gets home asking where his tea is, ignoring all her feelings.
Henry growled a jumbled reply of insults and shoved another can of Budweiser into his friends hands’. His profile seemed angry, but deep down Henry almost wanted to laugh at his friends teasing. He ran a stressed hand through his greased, messy hair. ‘Now, are you just going to stare at it or actually fucking drink it this time?’
The two greaser boys either side of Henry gave each other a smug glance. Mission accomplished. Henry was embarrassed.
Despite the liquor being absolutely disgusting, all four boys manged to finish the six pack between them, each ending up finishing the final two cans between them. Over the space of an hour, they were all drunken - never having drank alcohol before but a tiny amount at a distant relatives wedding party, or when they pass the wine around at Sunday’s church service. Patrick didn’t really care about what his parents thought of him anymore. Since the day they forced him to drink his ‘sexual-correction’ tea every morning, he decided they could think what they wanted of him, just as long as they didn’t keep him from seeing Henry Bowers. However he couldn’t help but feel this irritating niggle whenever he heard some neighbour’s car pull into the drive way. Belch, Victor and Henry were all drunk out of their minds and Patrick was hardly sober himself but he could still feel himself panicking about the thought of his parents finding him with alcohol. That would be the final straw and Patrick realised that. His parents were already reluctant to let him have friends over… The boy didn’t know what he’d do with his summer if it weren’t for Henry - he figured he’d probably be in Juniper Hills already when the Derry Police department find his secret fridge. Patrick felt himself cringing at the thought of it. It had been a while since his last kill and he had Henry to be thankful for that. Okay, he had to admit that he’d attempted to murder Stanley Uris just a few hours previous… But that hardly counted in his books - it’s not like he tried to smother Stan in his Amana was it now?
‘Patrick?’ Henry slurred, giving him a sharp nudge with his elbow, ‘Don’t look so depressed! It’s fucking annoying!’
‘What?! I’m not depressed!’ Patrick shrilled, his face flushed with colour. He gave Victor and Reginald a questioning glance, seemingly asking them why Henry was being so aggressive all of a sudden. They both shot him a ‘don’t ask me,’ glare and went back to ranting about the Losers club. Puffing a strand of fringe out of his eyes, Patrick went back to huffily listening to their heated conversation, every so often giving a light-hearted giggle or a gasp of surprise and occasionally a yell of annoyance.
There was a break where Henry didn’t say anything, and then… ‘Yes you are, Pat! You’re such a fucking fag!’ Patrick narrowed his eyes in irritation - it didn’t usually bother him when Henry called him names like that, but now was much different - Vic and Belch were around and it made him feel somehow more intimidated having older boys in his home. Victor and Belch stopped talking immediately, their expressions displaying both shock and embarrassment. For a moment Patrick just stared at Henry, daring him to say or do something more with the power of his mind. Belch gave a little cough, clearly wanting somebody to explain just what was going on. Victor suddenly became very fascinated with the rotting wood of Patrick’s front porch, keeping his eyes trained on the gaps. Henry said nothing at all. His face remained livid. The silence was almost suffocating - and Patrick wanted to go back inside his house and throw himself down on his bed to leave his friends to talk outside alone. Henry was suddenly reminded of how long it had been since he last saw his two closest friends. Giving them both the iciest glare he could muster, Henry turned back towards Patrick. Thrusting his middle finger up in Belch’s face as he went, Henry gave a grunt of irritable laughter. With the sudden change of direction he felt his head spin nauseously from the liquor, and he really wished he hadn’t drank so much. ‘Umm, look… Sorry for yelling at you suddenly, I’m just so fucking drunk right now.’ He let out a little chuckle, willing it to sound apologetic.
Patrick raised his eyebrows, a gesture he learnt from Belch, ‘It’s fine, Henry. Sincerely.’ He felt the situation was getting kind of ridiculous and desperately wanted them all to just go home so he could simply go to bed and wait for his parents to get home. Every little noise made him flinch. Every distant beep of a horn or every screech of somebody’s tires forced him back to the real world with a jerk. He’d had enough already and Henry was seriously pissing him off.
‘Good!’Henry yelled in his typical boisterous manner, ‘Now do your parents have any wine in their house?’
Patrick’s glare deepened. He really didn’t want to get in trouble with his parents but Henry was just taking it too far… Giving his hair a brush through with his stressed hand, he smirked evilly as he thought of a plan to get back at Henry for calling him an offencive name.
‘Sure, Henry,’ he simpered sweetly in his best imitation of his mother’s tone of voice. Flashing his greaser friend a quick beautiful smile, he raced back into his house and jogged down to his parents wine cellar. Bravely flicking the switch on, Patrick carefully tested the first rotten wood step. He’d never been down in the cellar before as his father had forbidden it - and his house was rather old. Victorian, he quite often liked to think. Sure enough the first few steps were safe and Patrick quickly stumbled down the remaining ones. When he was younger Patrick was scared there could be monsters down there and that was the reason why his dad wouldn’t allow him down there, in interest of his own safety. Now, Patrick knew it was because they didn’t trust him to behave. Swallowing his sudden sense of shame, the twelve year old grabbed the first two bottles he could lay eyes on. He didn’t suppose it mattered to Henry whether they were red, white or rose - so he simply chose the two most inexpensive ones out of the vast selection.
The three greaser boys stopped talking as Patrick reappeared. He guessed they were talking about him and gave a mental shrug to the thought of it. If they were going to act like best buddies again, then that was just A-okay with him. ‘Here,’ Patrick huffed, out of breath from all the stairs down to the basement, ‘These okay?’
‘That’s great, Princess Patrick,’ Henry looked up and giggled, thrilled with his new, insulting nickname for his peer. Belch and Victor joined in crowing with laughter and the younger boy gave each of them a hardened glare. Snatching the two bottles from Patrick’s arms, Henry almost dropped them and gave a little cry of surprise. ‘Oh, God!’
Patrick pulled a tongue and drifted off into his own little world, leaving his friends to get drunk and praying his parents would be back soon. After another thirty minutes, Patrick could hear that their conversation was flagging. The three fourteen year olds were crashed out together, all slumping against the balcony, their expressions each displaying exhaustion. Henry in particular. His face was flushed a bright red as he were the one that had consumed the most, being the leader of the gang.
The twelve year old gave a sneaky little titter as he remembered his secret plan to humiliate Henry. His older friend glanced up in surprise as Patrick towered over him - his face flushed but not entirely from the alcohol’s influence - and his slightly chubby body inches from his face. Henry was just about to complain of Patrick being so close to him when out of nowhere, the younger boy flung himself down on his lap, wrapping his legs around his waist and his arms around his neck. Belch and Victor certainly were shocked but were too drunk to do anything but laugh themselves into hysterics. Bowers froze up, not entirely sure of what was happening. Before he could yell at Patrick to get off or to go kill himself, Patrick’s wet, livery lips were already against his own, his mouth slightly parted and tasting strongly of Budweisers. His tongue quickly darted against Henry’s mouth before he could push Patrick off his knee - and Victor was seemingly laughing so hard that he had to rush inside to use the bathroom. On any typical day, the two boys would despise any man who openly kissed another male, but today they actually found it hilarious as they were absolutely smashed. Belch stared in mixed confusion and fascination, his own mouth slightly agape and wondering what the hell would happen if anybody from Derry Elementary found out about this incident.
The younger boy broke apart from the greaser at the sound of tires crackling on gravel. Henry helplessly watched as Patrick stumbled off his lap and began to collect empty beer cans and bottles of wine from the floor. His expression was so pathetically desperate that Henry found himself getting to his feet to help. Gesturing frantically for Belch to join in, the older boy gathered as many empty cans as he could carry and threw them into a nearby bush. Out of the corner of Belch’s eye, he could see a pretty, young-ish woman hopping out of a ‘54 Volkswagen, smiling from ear to ear - he guessed that was Patrick’s mom - he looked like her a lot. Out of sheer luck, Henry and Belch just managed to escape from Patrick’s house via the back gate before Mr and Mrs Hockstetter could notice them. Patrick stood outside on the porch, his body frigid and his expression a wide, phony grimace. His eyes looked too bright and his face too pink in Josephine’s opinion.
‘Hey, Patty. What are you doing out here? You haven’t been outside all this time waiting for us, have you?’ his mother cooed worriedly, clicking down the gravel path to join her son’s side and wrap him in an embrace. Ronald followed not far behind her, his face displaying pure suspicion. Unfortunately, Victor Criss wasn’t as lucky as his friends to escape, and had only just got back from the bathroom in a mixed state of drunkenness and confusion, wondering where on earth his two friends had got to and who these two strangers were.
‘Oh, who’s this, Patrick?’ Josephine asked amusedly, quite surprised to see somebody new in her house - especially seeing as her son had been rather forcefully told no friends were allowed tonight. Victor blinked dumbly at her, not sure whether it was his place to introduce himself or not. Patrick seemingly wasn’t going to say anything; he had gone into one of his catatonic states, so Vic cleared his throat and made his introduction before running away quickly.
Patrick’s parents stared after the boy, wondering what he was doing there. A horrible thought played in Mr Hockstetter’s mind as he mused over who Victor was to his strange son. He gave Patrick a quick stern glance before storming into his home and slamming the front door, obviously very mad as the door splintered in it’s frame, causing Josephine to jump and shield her face in shock.
To make a light-hearted joke, Josephine turned towards her son and said, ‘Was that your boyfriend, Patrick? He’s quite handsome!’ She waggled her eyebrows in jest and Patrick couldn’t help but giggle despite how humiliated he felt. Obviously he’d have to explain to his dad later that Victor wasn’t his boyfriend, and that he was very sorry for having a friend round when they especially told him not to, and also that he wouldn’t ever let it happen again. It sure was a good job that they’d managed to get rid of all those cans of beer before his parents turned up - otherwise he’d be grounded for the remainder of the holidays - Patrick didn’t think he could deal with that if it were to happen! He had too much to do…