Henry’s gone soft… He’s a faggot. Henry’s gone soft... What a pussy!
Henry’s a fag. Henry’s a faggot. Lookit him fall in love with that pansy boy! He’s gone soft… Softer than Eddie Kaspbrak, even softer than Patrick Hockstetter… Henry’s gone faggot!
‘Shut. Up.’ Henry shot up in bed, his hair tousled and sticking up at odd points from sleep, or lack of rather. Ever since he’d left Patrick’s house earlier he’d thrown himself in bed and refused to move, burying that damned magazine far underneath his mattress along with all his other secrets. Under that bed was like a goldmine. You could always tell a lot about a person by the contents of under their bed. That is where people most commonly hide things they wouldn’t want just anybody to come across; empty candy wrappers, decapitated doll heads, dirty magazines, old pairs of underwear, dust bunnies - you name it, it’s down there. Under Henry’s bed was his trusty switch-blade that Pennywise had gifted him with. He treasured it more than anybody would have thought. Every so often, when Henry was feeling down, frustrated or worried, he’d go delving into the space under his mattress just so he could take the blade out of it’s protective casing and stare at it. Somehow it made him feel relaxed knowing he always had something to fall back on and that he wasn’t completely powerless in this world. That switchblade was like a symbol of sanity to Henry - clear evidence that Pennywise wasn’t entirely just in his head like some people would say. If Pennywise wasn’t real, then how did he receive this gift? If Pennywise wasn’t real, then how on earth did Henry meet up with the dead Eddie Corcoran and Veronica Grogan to get this stupid, smelly cardboard box?
‘Exactly,’ Henry said smugly to himself in the half-darkness of his bedroom. The windows were open (like always, even on really cold days) and offered a steady, relaxing breeze to accompany the cool darkness he was laying in. Henry often got migraines and blamed Patrick Hockstetter for each and every one of them. Today he did just the same. ‘Stupid Patrick and his stupid homo magazines! Now my dad’s gonna think I’ve gone faggot if he ever finds this! It’s not even like I can throw this in the trash without daddy or Rena finding it someway or another. Fuck.’
To give himself some reassurance, Henry crawled out of bed and groped under the mattress to find his switch-knife and flick it open and closed. The silver glinted prettily in the darkness and Henry gave a little sad smile, knowing what he must do with it. After all, Pennywise didn’t give it to him to become a top-class chef did he now? Henry thought of the Losers. As it was eleven o ‘clock in the evening, they’d probably be tucked up in bed sleeping or reading. Stuttering Bill would be reading some horror book he’d sneaked out of his father’s office no doubt. Ben Hanscome, Henry knew almost certainly as a fact, would be reading those books he’d borrowed from the town’s library on the first days of the holidays, still with Henry’s engineer boot printed onto the first page where he’d tried to stomp it into the mud. Beverly Marsh… Henry had no idea what she was into. She was a girl, so he guessed he didn’t really care what made her buzz in particular. Stanley Uris, Henry knew would be dreaming about birds at this time of night - Most likely stuck in some sweet dream full of birds of paradise on a tropical island somewhere in the Caribbean. Richie Tozier would be driving his parents mad by practising his ventriloquism deep into the early hours of the morning. What about Mike Hanlon? He’d be fast asleep by now, not so far from Henry’s home - he was such a little baby in Henry’s opinion. 11 and his parents still treated him like he was 6 years old. He didn’t even know what sex was! Eddie Kaspbrak would also be deep asleep at this time. His mother wouldn’t have it any other way.
‘What a bunch of Losers!’ Henry announced to the empty room, suddenly afraid of how silent the place was. He couldn’t even hear Rena drunkenly yelling at his father, and boy was that a first!
Henry’s gay. Henry’s gonna be hung. Henry’s gonna get beaten to death by his father. Henry’s gonna be taken away. Henry doesn’t deserve to be in everyday society. Henry Bowers and Patrick Hockstetter are gonna get found out. They’re gonna be KILLED!
That last word rang in Henry’s ears maddeningly. It echoed throughout the room like how somebody’s voice would sound if they were trapped in a hole or some kind of underground sewer system. Henry attempted to pay it no mind - instead playing with his switch-blade in a daze. His father walked in, casually under-dressed in just his yellowing underpants. As his son’s eyes seemed so wide and frightened, Oscar Bowers probably would have asked him what was wrong if he were in his right mind. Instead of giving him comfort, he gave him a sharp slap around the face and a leer.
‘Get to bed. It’s late.’
‘Yes, daddy. I’m sorry daddy.’
Quickly, Henry shoved his blade under the mattress before his dad could see it and think he was going to murder him. In his haste, Henry’s fingers got cut slightly, but that didn’t matter at all. What did matter was that his dad didn’t go berserk at the sight of a weapon in his hands. That could happen - and unfortunately Henry knew what the aftermath of that situation would be. Death, obviously.
Shaking his fingers, small droplets of blood sprayed against the bedsheets and thankfully Oscar Bowers didn’t notice. Henry winced, not liking the sight of his own blood. It reminded him too often of his nightmares where he’d wake up covered in his own blood, but of course sometimes he really did wake up covered in blood. Swear to God.
Soon enough, Oscar came blundering into bed besides Henry. He always alerted his presence with the heavy sound of someone overweight simply jumping into bed without any grace. He smelt completely smashed and Henry knew he’d been drinking heavily again. Whenever he snored, the smell of intoxication drafted onto his face causing Henry’s nose to wrinkle in disgust.
‘You’re disgusting, dad. I hate you,’ Henry whispered, feeling his father’s back press against his own in the king-size bed they shared. Being a really hot day, Henry certainly wished he could have his own bed instead of having to share one with his father. ‘I hope you keel over and die so I don’t have to look at you any longer.’
Oscar gave a grunt in his sleep.
‘You smell really bad and you always beat me. Go fuck yourself.’
Henry could hear Rena snoring from her make-shift bed in the kitchen.
‘You’re just as bad, Rena. Useless bitch.’
For the next two hours Henry tried to sleep but it was just no use. His father’s body-heat compiled with the muggy weather outside was making him too hot to drift off properly. Sighing, Henry stumbled out of bed, the hair on his head sticking to his forehead and the creases from the bedclothes imprinted on his skin. He looked around dumbly for a while, still frightened of the dark and trying to find his whereabouts in this pitch black room. The curtain billowed open in an abrupt, freakish summer evening breeze. Henry found his way over to the window, picking his way over the mess on his bedroom floor, standing on at least three painful things in his sleepy state.
Out the window the sky was a lovely deep blue colour. As their home was about as far out in the country you could expect to get in this particular area of Maine, there were no streetlights but the ones protecting the homes from passing joyriders. The evening stars were just beautiful and Henry knew nothing could ever beat stargazing alone on a summers evening. There was nothing else halfway fun to do in his home. Either watch the stars or watch your parents get themselves absolutely drunken. There was Orion, and there was Draco. Those two were his favourites by far. Both Orion and Draco were powerful constellations and Henry knew if Orion and Draco were actually living people, they’d be the coolest cats around. Orion was a hunter. He took no shit from nobody. Draco was a large and intimidating snake. Could you get any cooler than that? Henry didn’t think so.
Casting his eyes just a little further down the rod, Henry could see Mike Hanlon’s house illuminated in the night by both the fireflies and the lanterns spread about the front porch. The Hanlon’s house was much handsomer than the Bowers’ house and almost anybody in Derry could tell you that. Oscar Bowers often blamed the Hanlon’s for his misfortune on the farm - but Henry knew deep down that he only blamed them because they were black. When he was just a little kid, Oscar Bowers sat him down on his knee and told him everything that was wrong with the world. Apparently homosexuals, blacks, Jews, gypsies, women, the physically and mentally disabled and the Japanese were everything that was wrong with the world. Over breakfast Oscar Bowers would rant about the Japanese. During lunch he would create some sob-story over how black people had ruined his farm, the crumbs from his sandwich getting trapped in his moustache. Whilst drinking straight from the bottle of wine he would sob over how homosexuals were poisoning young peoples minds. Henry didn’t know what to believe. Deep down he knew it was ridiculous. Even deeper down he knew everyone was the same. We were all human. We all have skeletons to support, nourish and keep us strong. We all have lungs that inhale and exhale carbon dioxide. We all have hearts that pump blood around our bodies. Heck, we all have skin covering our body and does it really matter what colour that skin is?!
The greaser wondered what would happen if his father were to find out about the magazine under his bed. He knew nothing good would come of it surely. It was dangerous, even in the year of 1958 to wear your sexuality on your sleeve. Henry knew what happened to homosexuals during world War II. They were taken to the concentration camps along with the Jews, gypsies, blacks, mentally ill, physically disabled, etc. Many of those poor souls were rescued not even 10 years ago, but Henry still couldn’t shake this feeling that if anybody were to find out about Patrick and himself in the hateful town of Derry, then something awful along those lines would happen. Hell! His father would probably be the ringleader! It all played out in Henry’s head: He’d be sent away in shackles alongside Patrick Hockstetter. Together, they’d be marched in some awful, jeering, humiliating parade surrounded by clowns and drag queens. Oscar Bowers of course, wearing a silver clown suit with pink pompoms as buttons, would be the mastermind behind this awful freak-show - leading his only son and his young lover to their prison. A large crowd would gather (presumably the whole of Derry, or at least the whole of Derry Elementary) just to see Henry cry. There would be the Losers club, laughing and pointing in the crowd as the two boys were led away to Juniper Hills in blue and white striped pyjamas. Confetti would come raining down as they get through the gates, signalling that they would no longer be poisoning the social system with their ‘disgusting’ acts of male-male love.
Suddenly, Henry felt his face go hot as tears came trickling down his cheeks and dripped off his chin. All of that just by looking over at Mike Hanlon’s house?! Henry really was going soft. He didn’t need the voices from the moon to tell him that.