‘Good, you’re here,’ Henry drawled, arrogant as usual, ‘I thought you’d never fucking show up.’ Despite his cocky demeanour, Patrick could tell the greaser was feeling down in the dumps. His hair was straggly and it seemed he hadn’t bothered with his usual DA today - instead were his long, shiny black bangs, too long in fact that they trailed into his dark eyes, giving him an almost mad, rugged look. Patrick thought this was a good look for him. It was wild, almost like his own but dark where his own hair was fair. Cowlicks stood up on end, almost although he’d received an electric shock - and instead of being slicked back in perfect imitation of his rock n’ roll star heroes, it was almost wavy on the ends.
Instead of taking the time to say a greeting, Patrick raised a speculative eyebrow and gave Henry the usual full-body scan.
‘Hey, what happened to your hands?’ Patrick asked, innocent, but with a thin trace of amusement.
Henry’s eyes widened then darted to the left away from Patrick’s. Moistening his lips, Henry remembered he didn’t have to lie so much around Patrick. He was cool. ‘My dad…’ he admitted, hiding his bandaged fingers in the sleeve of his leather jacket, ‘He was real mad, y’know. You should have seen him.’
‘Tell me!’ Patrick yelled, almost sounding angry. He didn’t like to see Henry hurt. It wasn’t a good look on him. Kids like Eddie Kaspbrak, or that stupid Eddie Corcoran, then sure. Fine. Cool. Henry? Not so hot… It was like seeing something you shouldn’t - something that would get you hurt yourself. If you got in too deep, that is.
‘Well,’ he began, averting his eyes again, ‘The other day, we got a letter from those fucking-A doctors, and it said I was sc.. Schizo- schizophrenic or whatever, but you already know that. Anyway, he got real mad, and slammed the screen door shut on my fingers when I was about to walk into the backyard.’
Patrick made an almost comforting noise but it got stuck in his dry throat.
‘Said he didn’t want no fucking mad son.’ Henry added, shaking his head sadly. His eyes looked almost tearful, and Patrick found himself cupping his bandaged fingers in his own. That was until Henry slapped him away.
‘Don’t act all sorry! This is all your fault, Hockstetter!’ Henry hissed, but soon realising Patrick was all he had left. Victor and Belch hadn’t been around in quite sometime, but who could blame them? Henry was losing it.
‘Look,’ Patrick drawled, finally meeting Henry’s eyes despite the height difference, ‘I’m truly sorry, Henry. Do you think I like being called a ‘Sociopath’? What about a ‘Psychopath’, huh?’
Henry shook his head no. Both boys were perplexed with these sudden diagnosis. Yet, so was Oscar Bowers and it caused him to outburst angrily at all possible opportunities. Henry wondered why he still hadn’t run away from his old man, but despite all the times he hurts him, despite all the times he gets called derogatory names, Henry still remembers the times he’d been tucked up in bed by his father, or maybe that time his dad remembered his birthday and bought him a second hand bike.
With a moment of silence, both Henry and Patrick caught each others eye. Henry cracked a wry smile; ‘We’ve only got one day left together before you move away, so why don’t we stop arguing all the fucking time and actually do something?’
Despite the stabbing feeling in Patrick’s chest, he gave a laugh of agreement. Last Wednesday, Patrick’s parents had a serious discussion. There had been a lot of rowing, and Patrick wondered if it was to do with that terrible, looming ‘D’ word - Divorce. He’d felt terrible, awful. All night he had listened from his bed to the noise all the way below in the kitchen. They had been yelling all night, and Patrick couldn’t sleep from the stress. Interrupt Patrick’s daily rituals, and that’s probably one of the only things that could get him to become irate. Marching barefoot down those wooden stairs at 1 in the morning, Patrick had stopped and stared his parents full on in the eyes, his expression hard and unforgiving, his hair tousled. In his blue and white striped winter pyjamas, it didn’t seem quite so threatening but giving his almost murderous expression and recent diagnosis as a Sociopath, Patrick’s parents had become quite fearful of their loving son.
Josephine Hockstetter gasped, the tear tracks evident on her paled cheeks. Ronald Hockstetter flinched and clenched the tabletop for support.
Not one of the three said anything, but mixed emotions were very present at that moment in time. Fear, intimidation and angst were riddled throughout the atmosphere, and Josephine had had enough.
‘That’s it!’ she had cried, ‘We’re moving! This place is tearing our family apart, we need to start afresh.’
The following day Ronald Hockstetter found a good office job application in a nearby New England state. Kingston, Vermont. Didn’t it just sound grand? Not really for Patrick… He was perfectly happy in Derry, Maine. However, even Patrick had to admit moving to a new state would be kind of exciting. After all, Derry Elementary will hardly welcome him back with open arms in September after what happened with those Loser kids… Besides, Patrick figured he didn’t have any true friends in this small town. Henry was cool. Sometimes. But Henry wasn’t a friend to Patrick like how Belch was a friend to Victor, how Veronica was a friend of Greta Bowie or perhaps how Stan was a friend to Richie Tozier - and this bothered Patrick. Patrick could tell Henry preferred to be either in a group of three (Victor, Belch and himself) or entirely on his own because like on a clover, four may be lucky, but four’s a crowd - and Patrick was that crumpled, lesser leaf that some cruel teenage boy would come along and pluck off just so that the clover wouldn’t be a genetic freak of nature. He could see it bothered Vic and Belch whenever Henry let him hang around, but he didn’t care so much about what they thought. Victor Criss and Reginald ‘Belch’ Huggins were nothing to him, merely another brick in the wall.
Patrick’s mother spent most of her days trailing around estate agents, looking for nice family homes in Kingston. She had taken time off her part-time job due to illness and spent the time she wasn’t at the estate agent doting over Patrick at home. Josephine worried about him you see. She had no idea that her son could’ve been mentally ill before the recent events. Well, his report cards had always been rather lack-lustre, but she thought that was normal for any young boy. His doodles in his math revision books had always been a little… violent, but she also thought that was normal for any boy what with their odd fixations with war and bloodshed. Now, she reconsidered, and reconsidered again. Patrick never had any friends before. Well, apart from that Bowers boy recently in the past few months. Was Henry a bad influence on her boy? Maybe… He’d always seemed so polite whenever he went round for tea, so Josephine couldn’t understand why Patrick would suddenly become so erratic. What she did understand, however, was that they needed to get out of Derry. It was for the best. Patrick would make new, normal friends, and they could maybe even get him the help he needs, if he needs it that is.
Soon enough, Josephine found the perfect home. It was small for an all-American home, but there were only three members of the Hockstetter family. The house was in a quiet neighbourhood not so far away from a little pine forest and to Josephine it looked like something out of a fairytale picture book that she’d read when she was a little girl. The garden was huge and lush. Perfect for planting vegetables and having summer tea parties with the women from the local Vermont Ladies club. She figured Patrick would like it too and planned to buy it. A week later, the house was vacant and she’d gone right ahead with Ronald’s approval and bought it. Patrick of course didn’t have a say in this matter; he was in disgrace.
Time had flown by with Henry and Patrick being banned from seeing each other (yet, did you really expect those boys to follow those rules?) and Patrick was moving the following day. His bags were packed, his wallpaper stripped and he wasn’t that depressed about it, but somehow he found himself wishing Henry could go right along with them where he’d be safe from his horrible father and his disgusting girlfriend who could make awesome apple pies.
He’d told Henry that he’d miss him something awful, and Henry had simply smirked humorlessly and told him not to be so stupid, that he’d make better friends than him and maybe even get a nice little girlfriend. Henry was jealous of Patrick’s fresh new start in Vermont. He’d be forever stuck in Derry, Maine along with his deranged father and his falling-to-shambles farm. He’d grow old and bitter in this town, and eventually he’d die and be buried in Derry’s Cemetery along with all the other small town deadbeats. However, he decided he’d be a good friend. That was what he always wanted to be if he couldn’t be clever, or very handsome or charming. He’d be a good friend - and good friends would be happy for their friend to get a fresh chance in life and make things all better. That’s what Henry decided he wanted to be then and there. In the past he had been cold and somewhat un-loyal to his pals Victor and Belch and now he decided he’d quite like to be as great to them as they’d been to him. Well… before Patrick came along. But where were Vic and Belch now? Henry hadn’t seen them for some while now and was starting to get suspicious.
‘Hey, I was thinking we should do a little something for the Losers before you go,’ Henry chortled, his eyes shining with malice, ‘It’s the least we could do for getting us into this mess!’
Patrick guffawed in agreement, nodding his head vigorously. In the boys’ opinion they hadn’t done anything wrong. It was all the Losers’ Club fault and they should be the ones that get punished! Rats deserve to be treated badly - break that unspoken rule and you were fresh bait, left for dead by all your closest friends.
‘Yeah! That’s great Henry!’ Patrick beamed, his usually dead eyes alive with excitement. ‘I really, really hope you kick their ass when I’m gone, Henry!’
‘Don’t you worry, baby,’ Henry lied easily, his expression a lazy, almost sleazy smile, ‘They’ll wish they never fucking messed with us!’ Together the boys were hanging out at Derry Harbour where they wouldn’t be found quite so easily. It was where they’d first met up properly besides school, and Henry thought it was very sweet and fitting for it to be the place they’d say their final goodbyes. After they’d found the Losers and given them a good, old-fashioned beating that is. Secretly, Henry knew he didn’t want anything to do with the Losers anymore… He wanted a fresh start just like Patrick - and the only way he could do that was to avoid them point-blanc. Well, after today he would. He promised himself he’d straighten out and start preparing for his future like a real man. He was only fourteen, but it was never too soon to start growing up. He wasn’t a ten year old any more and it wasn’t like Oscar Bowers could make any sensible, logical decisions for his son. From tomorrow on wards, Henry would think about Patrick in the back of his parents car, probably stuffing his face with candy and giving himself butterflies thinking about all the stupid kids he’d make friends and enemies of in his new town. If Henry could do that, he just knew he’d be inspired to get his life back to normal, whatever that was.
As it was almost deserted at the harbour, Henry allowed Patrick to swing his arm around his waist just like they’d done at Sundae’s. It felt comforting to have somebody that enjoyed touching him and wasn’t afraid he’d freak-out and punch them or something silly like that. All of the pupils at Derry Elementary knew he didn’t like to be cuddled and messed around with, and even his closest friends were reluctant to give him any kind of physical contact without warning him beforehand. Because he once kicked Eddie Corcoran in the shin for giving him a one-armed hug, everyone knew to leave him right alone, apart from Patrick Hockstetter obviously. He didn’t quite fit into the normal social regime of things you see… Henry knew he’d miss Patrick’s free hugs and how easy it was to allow Patrick to touch him. Who else would give him affection when Patrick was gone? Nobody - they were all too intimidated by him, another reason Henry wanted to turn his reputation around.
Swinging his arm around Patrick’s broad shoulders, Henry pulled him closer to his body and directed him towards the barrens. Hopefully, the Losers would be there. Perhaps playing in their pathetic little underground clubhouse, maybe building a stupid little baby-dam. It didn’t matter. What did matter was that they got their slither of revenge. Which, by the way, is never best served cold. That’s just not satisfying enough. Henry would rather have immediate revenge than get revenge on somebody that can’t even remember what they’d done to upset him and deserve their punishment.
Sure enough, there they were. Patrick admitted they were cute together; especially that whore Beverly Marsh and big, blundering Ben Hanscome. He was only one year older than the Losers, but he still felt it gave him an advantage over them, especially with Henry around - he was fourteen! Hidden by the tall grass, both Henry and Patrick crouched down so that they were almost able to fully see the Losers. In between the blades of grass were the fiery shades of Beverly’s hair that bobbed up and down every now and again. Henry guessed she was talking animatedly, nodding her head with enthusiasm. He could hear their silly, childish voices that had yet to deepen echoing all around them, bouncing off the steely drums and pipes of the nearby sewer system. Richie’s voice was louder than usual and for some reason, he seemed to be talking in an Irish accent. Henry resisted the urge to giggle it was that ridiculous.
In Henry’s satchel were a small collection of curiosities; four cherry bombs, ten firecrackers, two M-80s and five eggs. He didn’t usually carry around a satchel, it’s just he didn’t want to be stopped by some nosey old hag. He was already well-known by the adults of Derry to be a troublemaker and if they were to see him with these items (especially lately) he’d most likely be stopped and taken to the police station. Henry didn’t plan to kill the Losers any longer. Pennywise wasn’t real. Some nice lady at the child psychiatry had told him that much... But why did Patrick see him too? Henry guessed that would always remain a mystery, although he did secretly think Patrick would agree with or do anything he said, even ‘jump off a cliff’ or ‘go kill yourself’.
There was a moment of silence from the Losers and even Trashmouth had stopped his jibber-jabber - Henry thought for one terrible second that somebody had caught sight of them perhaps, and soon they’d either fight of flight (or freeze if your name is Eddie Kaspbrak). In that moment of panic Henry threw his first cherry bomb, and it landed next to Beverly with such a loud bang that clouds of dust travelled through the air. All seven kids let out a shriek of surprise, some of them jumping so high that Patrick feared they’d land on him. Thankfully for the girl, it hadn’t hit her. Henry’s aim was way off. She’d sometimes hear of some poor, unfortunate kid that lost a finger or an eye playing around with cherry bombs, and recognised the noise right away. Her friends weren’t too fast to react, Mike still sat on the ground, brown eyes wider than saucers.
‘Get up!!’She hollered, taking full command, ‘It’s Bowers! Get up now!’
‘SHIT!’ Cried the no-longer-Irish Richie Tozier, ‘Shit, just leave us alone Bowers.’
‘Y-yeah. Fuck. O-off,’ Bill said forcefully, standing up to join his two friends.
‘It’s us six against you two loons,’ Stan whispered distantly, placing a hand to his head where Patrick had shoved it underwater not so long ago. ‘And you aren’t even supposed to be together anymore.’
At that, Henry spluttered with laughter, throwing back his head and leaning against Patrick for support; ‘Yeah? Yeah! Sure! Shit!’ he giggled, tears dripping down his cheeks with a sudden case of hysterics, ‘I don’t fucking care, Uris.’ Placing his arm back around Patrick’s shoulders, he pulled him closer again - ‘Just because you losers beat up Princess Patrick here… doesn’t mean you can even think of messing with me - huh?’
Patrick gave him a quick eye-roll. His expression clearly stating he wasn’t impressed with his new nickname.
‘Enough tough talk bullshit from you, Henry,’ Beverly hissed, seething that Henry had the nerve to show his face after letting his retarded friend drown Stan. ‘If you won’t leave us alone, I guess we’ll just have to kick your ass again.’
‘Go right ahead,’ Henry replied smugly, ‘You’re just a stupid little girl.’
‘Beverly’s not stupid,’ Ben yelled, wobbling over to where his friends were gathered opposite Henry and Patrick, ‘And we’re going to beat you. Again.’
After another bout of laughing, Henry’s face straightened out. He was now completely serious and somewhat depressed. Before the Losers could even think about moving he had already thrown a firecracker in their direction.
Grass and bits of debris flew up into the Losers path, causing some to shield their faces and others to flee from the danger. The unlucky ones had their bare legs cut by shards of glass. Beverly landed not so far away from Bowers, as agile as a big cat on her hands and knees, her green eyes just as furious as one too. Her legs were pale in the bright sunlight but with a shock of red where the glass had struck her - Fortunately, it could have been a whole lot worse. Plaits flying as she lunged at him, Henry found he was far too amused to move. Placing his hands in a joking ‘get away from me!’ gesture, he was surprised to feel Beverly’s fist plunge into his jaw. With a dull crunch, he backed away slowly, eyes alarmed.
‘I thought I told you creeps to stay away from us,’ she grinned, obviously feeling elated at her sudden surge of power. Her friends stood around with their mouths wide open. Obviously they’ve seen their Beverly kick some ass before, but that was with Patrick Hockstetter - he was different! Henry Bowers was a whole different case. He was the kind that could beat up a high schooler boy without batting an eyelid.
Patrick stood there dumbfounded, but at the same time feeling very amused by the situation. Henry stared, blood dripping from the corner of his mouth - in a daze, he licked the blood from his chin. Giving Patrick a quick grin, he yelled, ‘NOW!’
Tucked in the sleeve of Patrick’s long shirt was another cherry bomb. He threw it through the air and it landed not so far away with a satisfactory ‘bang!’. Henry gave a boisterous cry of laughter and threw the two eggs in his hands, one of them splattering all over Bill Denbrough’s head. ‘Haha!’ He cried, fumbling through his satchel and throwing another two. Patrick reached into his bag and grabbed a M-80 - he knew they were dangerous - he didn’t care.
With the yolk dripping down his forehead, Bill Denbrough trembled. For a second it looked although he wanted to cry. He’d had a tough summer alright and that egg was just the icing on the cake. His parents ignored him, his brother Georgie had been dead two years, an evil clown was trying to kill them, and not only that - but now Henry Bowers was hot on his case again!
‘T-th-throw o-one more t-th-th-thing and I’ll k-kill y-you!’ Bill yelled, tears now falling from his eyes. He didn’t want to cry in front of his friends - he was the leader - but this time, oh this time, Bill had enough. ‘I-I m-mean i-it, B-b-b-bowers! I want y-you t-t-to guh-get the f-fuck o-out!’ Pointing a shaky finger at Henry, Bill chuckled, tears still pooling in his eyes. Patrick watched emotionlessly, arms crossed across his chest. Henry smirked, his eyes smoldering with a certain kind of infuriating power that only people like himself could possess.
Henry had got what he wanted. He was satisfied. Did he really want to kill the Losers? Not really. Dr. Annie told him that deep, deep down he didn’t really - and that it was just his sick brain playing nasty tricks on him. He agreed happily enough. What he really wanted to do, however, was to humiliate them for the amount of times they’d humiliated him. And more. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. He had made Bill Denbrough, leader of the Losers Club cry and that was good enough for him. At least for now whilst that Pansy Princess Patrick was still around.
‘You know what? Fine,’ Henry drawled, raising his palms skyward in self-defeat. ‘I made you cry like a little baby and that’s all I wanted for today. See you fuckers later!’
‘Buh-bye, babies!’ Patrick called after them, linking his arm back around Henry’s waist and sticking out his tongue, ‘This is sadly the last time I’ll be seeing you cuties, so goodbye!’
Ignoring the jeered insults and hawked spit directed towards their retreating backs, Henry and Patrick wondered back to the direction they came from, lost in their own crazy little world.
‘So this really is the last time I’ll see you?’ Henry enquired, his face seeming depressed.
‘Yeah…’ murmured Patrick, casting his eyes away from Henry’s, ‘But mom said I could always write to you, and that sometimes, I could maybe even visit you. If you’d like.’
‘Really?’ Henry said doubtfully, cocking an eyebrow. Somehow he doubted Patrick’s mother would let her son see him so easily again after what happened with Stanley Uris.
‘Yeah,’ said Patrick again, this time his eyes seeming shiny and red, ‘Henry?’
‘Promise me you’ll always reply to my letters, even if they are lame and boring.’
Henry gently slapped his hands either side of Patrick’s face, squishing both his cheeks. They were standing outside Patrick’s home in his front garden, and Henry could feel his nosey next-door neighbour watching them with her steely, prejudiced eyes. ‘You’re real dumb, Patrick. Of course I’ll write back to you!’
Patrick met Henry’s eyes. ‘Thank you…’ he looked down at his sneakers, wishing once again that Henry could come with them to Vermont.
‘Don’t cry,’ Henry instructed, ‘It’s faggy.’ He let out a little chuckle as he felt himself trying his hardest not to shed a tear.
Henry knew then that Patrick was his best friend. Possibly the best he’s ever had. He could share painful secrets without feeling bad, he could let Patrick embrace (and sometimes even kiss!) himself without feeling terrible, and, most of all, he trusted Patrick. Patrick was cool. Would there ever be another Patrick? Henry didn’t think so. Wiping his nose on his jacket sleeve, Henry gave another weak laugh.
‘We’re being stupid aren’t we?’ Patrick laughed, imitating Henry’s nose-wiping move.
‘Mmm. We’ll see each other at Christmas when you come to see your Grandma. I’ll make sure of it,’ smiled Henry, feeling his chest being crushed. ‘And …I’ll write you every week. Even if nothing happens.’
Patrick’s mother popped her head from around the porch door, dragging a suitcase far to heavy for her to carry; ‘Patrick-baby? Henry? I’m sorry, but are you boys ready? We really need to hit the road.’
‘Yes, Mrs Hockstetter,’ Henry said without a smile, wanting to give Patrick’s mother a higher opinion of himself, ‘We’ve said goodbye.’
‘Would you like a-’
Henry knew what she was going to say, but he felt he couldn’t keep his emotions under check any longer, ‘No thanks. I’ll just walk. You seem very busy.’
Patrick hopped into the backseat after giving Henry a quick hug. He waved his hand sadly in Henry’s direction - but Henry was already halfway down the road, willing himself not to cry. When he reached Bowers farm, he threw himself down on the porch and had a long crying session - the longest he’d ever had since his mom ran away when he was ten years old.