Gingerly picking up the brilliant red telephone, Henry Bowers considered his two options: Either a) invite Hockstetter to the Aladdin theatre along with Vic and Belch, but give him the wrong time… Or b) just let the little nancy go along with them on a promise he won’t do anything to humiliate them. This was going to be a hard decision, Henry could tell. Playing with the receiver in his hands, he anxiously considered the possibilities. After a few minutes of hard thinking (Henry isn’t exactly the most intelligent or sensitive of boys, you see) he finally came to a conclusion – option ‘a’.
He cracked a boyish smirk. Patrick will be so upset! Calling up Patrick’s number there was nobody home… Damn! Tearing off a piece of note paper, Henry scrawled a wildly written note to meet him at the theatre. Grabbing his favourite black leather jacket, Henry jogged out of the house, slamming the door on his way out, and not bothering to tell his father he’d be going out. First he stopped at Patrick’s place, shoving the note carelessly through the letter box. Then he called at both Victor and Belch’s houses, telling them of the plan and catching the bus together out to downtown Derry.
‘Heh! Hockstetter’s gonna be so fuckin’ bummed when he turns up and can’t find us!’ Belch chortled as they queued up for tickets. Today they’d be seeing The Brain Eaters, a science-fiction that rumour has it – even the adults are too chicken to see!
‘Yeah! Why does that pansy even think we’re friends anyway? Loser couldn’t even hurt a fly!’ Victor scoffed. Henry simply grunted in reply – inwardly laughing that Vic thought Patrick couldn’t harm a fly.
Patrick and his mom had just been out shopping for church clothes. The boy usually loved spending time with his mother as he doesn’t usually have any friends to play with, yet today was terribly dull. His mom had made him try practically half the store on! In the end, they’d come back with next to nothing - Patrick had put on weight he’d found, and his mother had been real sweet about it, yet he could still tell she was somewhat disappointed that he couldn’t seem to stay a steady size.
Hopping out the car, Patrick noticed something jamming up the letter box. Carefully prising it out so it wouldn’t tear, Patrick spent a good three minutes trying to fathom the chaotic script.
‘Meet me at the Aladdin theatre. 3:30. Be on time or we’ll leave without you. Henry.’ He read aloud. Patrick’s heart did a little flip. Clasping the crumpled paper to his chest he beamed widely.
‘What are you so happy about, Pat?’ Patrick’s mom came clicking up behind him, carrying the shopping bags. Reading the note, she smiled with true delight. ‘That’s great, Patrick! I’m so happy you’ve finally got your friends!! Although… this one needs to improve his spelling a little…’
Patrick Hockstetter bubbled with a joy almost as great as his secret time at Derry’s dump! For the next 15 minutes that same smile refused to leave his face. Both his mom and dad were secretly very pleased for him. They’d never seen him so animated before!
‘Hey dad, is it okay if I get to the Aladdin a little earlier? I might be late with the traffic.’ The boy asked, fingering the buttons of his trench coat in worry. Ronald Hockstetter whole-heartedly agreed, and even dropped Patrick off in his brand-new work car. Kissing his dad goodbye, Patrick stepped out of the car and ran up to where Henry was standing in the queue. He couldn’t remember being this happy for quite some time!
Henry’s eyes bulged in shock. ‘What’s he doin’ here!?’ Belch hissed in irritation, narrowing his eyes.
‘W-wha..?’ Henry stammered, looking from Belch to Victor in confusion and glaring. ‘I don’t--‘
‘Hey, guys! I came earlier so I wouldn’t be late!’ Patrick bounded up to them. His smile was so natural and lit up his whole pallid face. It made him appear almost… cute… The light bounced off his golden blond mane and his olive green eyes were feverishly excited. Tripping over somebody’s candy cane-striped sneaker, Patrick almost seemed to explode up to his friends, causing somewhat of a dramatic entrance. ‘Mom’s bought us lots of candy! Look. Candy buttons. Tootsie rolls! Sky bars… Oh, and red vines! I love those.’
Henry Bowers’ facial expression turned grim, and seemed to stay grim until he’d shoved an entire red vine into his mouth. ‘Fine. Join us then. Just don’t do anything girly, okay?’ Patrick agreed nodding his head once.
Everything was going fine until about halfway through the queue when Belch Huggins noticed the Losers club joining at the back. Catching Richie Tozier’s four eyes had been just too easy. It’s hard to not stand out in a crowd for the Unfortunate ole’ Belch! With his abnormal height and a frizzy mop of hair, Belch could be considered strange-looking, yet not quite unattractive. People looked up at him to be strong because of his impressive height, yet he had to admit himself that he was pretty pathetic in a fight. That rock fight from the other week especially - Henry was still mad at him for that. Instead of being powerful, Reginald ‘Belch’ Huggins would more likely be described as somewhat graceful for a teenage boy.
Richie Tozier is well known for having an uncontrollable mouth. At school he has the nickname ‘Trashmouth Tozier’. Although, the kids at Derry Elementary had to admit he could be witty sometimes, most of the time he just gets under people’s skin! This included Henry Bowers to an almost disturbing level. In fact, Henry hated Tozier and his silly little friends so much, he could easily kill them someday… But not today. Today he’d be good. Today he’d try to igno—
‘Hey BOWERS! I heard of you and HOCKSTETTER!! Wow!’ Richie yelled over the crowds. Many people turned around in curiosity to see who the loud-mouth was. Henry Bowers turned white. Patrick red.
‘Y-y-yeah!’ Stuttering Bill attempted to holler, ‘M-muh-makes s-sense, y-you’d be s-such a guh-guh-good couple!’
‘I mean, you’re both creepy n’ unattractive!’ Beverly roared, her auburn hair falling into her eyes. Her cheeks flamed, remembering the time she’d been trapped watching their little ‘scene’.
At this, everyone howled laughing. Henry can remember being humiliated many times. Both by his abusive father and the goddamn, hellish Losers Club – but this humiliation had been taken to a new level. All the colour had been drained from his angular face (making him look as pallid as Hockstetter), and his hands shook uncontrollably as he looked down at them expressionlessly. Henry once again considered his options. A) Go kill the Losers. Here. Now. B) Explain using an awful lot of ‘French’ that he and Hockstetter were certainly NOT together, and that it was actually Trash-mouth Tozier and Stuttering Bill that were the homos here!
A glower worked its way onto Henry’s face. Deciding to simply ignore the Losers would seem creepily out of character for Bowers, yet it seemed like the best solution. Maybe the kids in line would think it could be a different Bowers and Hockstetter? Stabbing Tozier a thousand times with his eyes, Henry turned his back and stalked off to get tickets from the cranky lady selling them.
Victor and Belch gave each other a knowing glance. They knew their leader would be in a bad mood all day. Patrick simply looked dazed. Letting out a shaky breath he followed Henry into the theatre. The other two greasers trailed behind in a slouch. This really wasn’t going to be much fun.
Henry supposed the movie would’ve been enjoyable if it wasn’t for that goddamn Hockstetter with his perverted ways. He’d intentionally attempted to sit as far away from Patrick as possible. No such luck. Patrick had slipped in between Victor and Henry in a heartbeat.
At school, Patrick was well known to be rather deviant. Mrs Reichs had promptly moved Patrick away from the girls, and Patrick simply moved onto the boys! Patrick knew his parents had a call home about this matter… It’d taken a lot of explaining to fully trick his father. He wasn’t that stupid, you see. He knew something bad would happen if his parents found out he liked boys as much as he liked the girls.
Thorough out The Brain Eaters, Patrick had constantly ran his hand up and down Henry’s thigh in the dark. This really freaked the greaser out - and he’d ended up sadistically twisting Patrick’s hand backwards in displeasure. Crack! Patrick giggled complacently. Belch turned round to see what all the noise was about (the movie was just getting to a good part!).
His face twisted in confusion.
‘Eh, Vic. I think Henry n’ the pansy are holding hands!’ He nudged his friend and hissed into his ear, ‘Queers.’ Usually Belch Huggins would always be so fiercely loyal to his pal, Henry, but in front of Victor he didn’t really feel the need. Henry was going mad, so what was the point? Henry was slowly drifting away from them, closing them off and letting nobody else in; he was so obsessed with his father currently that he was finding it difficult to talk to other people.
‘Gross!’ Victor Criss smirked, thinking it was rather amusing that somebody like Henry would engage in such an act – and with Hockstetter too! From the angle the boys were sitting at, it certainly looked as if they were holding hands, but actually Henry was trying his hardest to fracture Patrick’s wrist. Patrick squirmed in slight discomfort. It didn’t hurt, but it didn’t feel good either; and he wasn’t quite sure if he dug this sensation. Pain, just like other intense feelings, doesn’t come easily to Patrick Hockstetter.
‘Well, I’ve got to leave now. Dad said he’d ground me if I’m too late for dinner…’ Patrick mumbled to the pavement, saddened that he’d have to leave his friends so soon. ‘So bye, Henry! I love you!’ he added suddenly and careered off, howling with childish laughter.
He’s gonna be so mad at me now! the boy puffed under his breath – leaving the greasers to gaze after him in mixed confusion and distaste.
‘Oooh! Looks like somebody’s got a crush~!’ Victor chortled. His face was flushed a pale scarlet and tears threatened to spill from his sapphire eyes. Secretly both Victor and Belch thought this was rather hilarious. What the hell was Bowers doing fuckin’ around with that nancy?!
Belch joined in snickering, ‘Yeah, Henry! What was all that about? We saw you guys in the cinema, doin’… y’know……!’
Henry freezed up, thinking Belch meant Patrick’s constant pawing. ‘He’s freaking me out, man. I don’t know what to do about him,’ Lowering his voice he added, ‘Patrick’s gonna ruin my reputation if we don’t do something about it!’
There was a moment of silence to ponder this awful possibility. Henry now had Victor and Belch’s full attention. ‘Also… he could ruin all our reputations! Do you want everyone we know to think we’re all homos?!’
Belch examined his sneakers, ‘Jesus! Do people really think you n’ Hockstetter are queers?’
‘Fuck! Fuck, I don’t know! The little shit fancies me and that’s all. That Beverly bitch has told all her loser boyfriends about that time when Pat-‘ Henry clamped a clammy hand over his mouth before he could reveal anything else. His friends didn’t press for details. Henry would tell all in his own time. Force it outta him, and he’d get real mad. It’s best just to let him sulk for a while in Victor’s opinion. Besides, the boys knew it would probably be something disgusting that they’d really rather not know about!
Bowers was becoming edgier and edgier by the minute. ‘I don’t like him though, just so you know.’ He looked up at the cloudy blue sky in an attempt to calm himself down. He squinted as the sun hit his eyes, and swore he could see a clown’s outline glowering at him from the light. ‘Fuckin’ pansy.’ He added spitefully and ran off home to get away from the situation. He’d rather not talk about love with his friends. He was too cool for that! Especially homo love!! Henry repressed a shudder.
Fwack! Henry’s poor face was red and swollen before he’d even gotten through the front door.
‘What?!’ he screeched, holding a hand to his tender cheek. His brown-black eyes overflowed with tears. Attempting to blink them back just made things worse… They rolled down his face, big and fat. Salt water stung where Oscar Bower’s ring had connected with the space underneath Henry’s eye.
Mr Bowers wore an inexplicable expression. The TV buzzed faintly in the background in all its black and white glory. Henry tried to focus in on the noise the TV was making instead of facing his estranged father; Marilyn Monroe was singing in her iconic sultry alto.
‘If I hear of you fuckin’ around with any more fags, I’ll mess you up, boy. Do you understand?!’ Oscar Bowers took the cigar out of his stained lips, and broke the silence (in between his son’s quiet sobbing and Marilyn’s ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy’). In the man’s deranged opinion, his 14 year-old son was nothing more than a useless pup. A farm boy. A delinquent, and even worse, the offspring of his previous wife.
The poor boy had not even a clue how his father knew about Patrick! His hands trembled weakly and his breath came out in whimper-y sobs. At school, Henry was such a bully, to the Losers, to the kindergartners, even the teachers were slightly afraid of him. There was only one person to render Henry completely powerless – and this was his father. He’d been abused, beaten, insulted and tormented by his father for most of his years until he felt completely worthless. His friends couldn’t remember a day where Henry hadn’t slumped into his desk covered in a rainbow-variety of bruises, his face melancholy and etched with small cuts where his father’s ring had caught it.
Oscar slipped back into the living room to watch TV. Marilyn was cut off and transformed into the soft hum of Tom and Jerry. His son slammed the door and decided it would be best to avoid Oscar for the rest of the day, unless he’d like to have a broken limb or something. That would certainly put a downer on the rest of the summer holidays! It was the middle of July, and Henry had done literally nothing all that fun. Intimidating the Losers was the best thing he’d done all holiday! Chucking his jacket on the floor as it was getting so much hotter outdoors, Henry backhanded his tears and swaggered out into his street. Passing Bip and Bop, his father’s pigs, he gave a flick to temple of the biggest of the pigs.
‘Stupid pigs! You remind me of Fat Boy Ben!’ He hollered down at them, ‘Well, you’ll be bacon soon, just like the Losers!’ Bip simply grunted in reply, lazy eyes rolling back to it’s dinner.
Lighting a cigarette in the shield of his hands, he puffed out wistfully. His eyes were red and swollen from crying. Hopefully Belch n’ Victor won’t come by. That would be humiliating! Henry mused, leaning over the bridge and peering cautiously into the murky water. Imagining the Creature from the Black Lagoon floating in there, just waiting to rip his head off gave the greaser the chills, so he turned around and was quite startled to be nose to nose with none other than Patrick Hockstetter!
Patrick giggled in his typical self-satisfied manner. ‘Hello, Henry!’
‘What the fuck are you doing here?!’
‘Why are you crying?’
Henry paused, torn between beating the boy to within an inch of his life, or venting about what had happened with his father.
‘Why are you bleeding?’ He retorted, oblivious to the fact that actually, he was bleeding too.
‘What? Oh, this isn’t mine…’ Patrick muttered, rubbing his forehead and gazing at the blood on his hand in confusion. He sucked his fingers just to make Henry uncomfortable.
‘So… What’s wrong, anyway?’ He asked timidly, gazing up at Henry and blinking rapidly.
‘Heh! Nothing’s wrong with me. You’re the one who needs his fucking head checking!’
‘Hmmph.’ Patrick huffed, blowing a strand of fringe out of his eyes, ‘You’re such a liar.’
Henry said nothing to this. He wasn’t going to deny it. A part of him did want to mention what had happened to make him so upset. He felt like he could tell Patrick anything, it’s not like he had any other friends to blab to! Also… he didn’t have to act cool like he did with Vic and Belch. They were good friends – fierce and loyal – but he couldn't really tell them anything that would make him seem weak, and to Henry, being abused by his father was a sign of weakness. Often he would see Victor out with his dad, playing baseball, or going out for hamburgers, and it made him so envious. He wished he could have a relationship like that with his dad!
Out and about he would find Patrick out shopping with his mom. She was pretty and very feminine with a haircut like Audrey Hepburn! When Henry went to Patrick’s for tea once, his mother had answered the door, and Henry couldn’t help but wish he was her son. She’d smiled sweetly and taken his jacket. Her perfume was peach and cherry blossom, a fruity-floral smell that Henry wanted to get more of. It was beautiful compared with Rena, his dad’s icky girlfriend’s aroma of BO and grease. When he was 10 years-old, his mother had ran away from Oscar’s abuse, and good on her. Henry Bowers prayed that she would’ve taken him with her as she’d gone. But when he’d woken up the next day, it was like she’d never even been there after 10 long years.
‘Heeyy….? Henry? Are you alright?’ Patrick interrupted him from his pensive state.
‘No. I feel like we’re being watched. Let’s leave.’ Henry whispered, feeling the sad thoughts wash over him, making him weak and tired.
Patrick’s expression went dark with paranoia ‘Want to sleep over? You won’t have to go home.’ He offered, a smile attempting to turn the corners of his mouth.
‘What the hell! No! I’d rather sleep in a goddamn bush than sleep with you!’ Henry spat, turning away from Patrick slightly. His face was flushed all over, making Patrick titter.
‘Well, let’s go to the dump instead!~’
‘Yeah, hopefully we’ll run into those Losers again. I feel like throwing around a couple of fuckers…!’ Henry bellowed, seemingly perking up a little at Patrick’s suggestion. Patrick smiled, satisfied, and carefully slipped his hand into Henry’s. It was so discrete that Henry didn’t even notice, or maybe even care.
As the two boys walked hand in hand to Derry’s dump, not one of them noticed a clown-like face, slick with white greasepaint, slide above the water’s surface, and slowly slip back, obscured by the dark, filthy water. Under the river, Pennywise was leering. He certainly had something planned for those moronic little brats!