For that same reason, I chose to use the version of Portland, Oregon Palahniuk describes in his book, and went by the map he included therein. Since the book was published ten years ago and the tales in it date from even further back, that version of the city does not exist anymore and is, by now, a fictional place.
The building on SW Clay Street is a figment of my imagination and exists neither in the book nor the real world.
Two remarks and a caveat:
1. I came up with this story in response to Valenti1965’s excellent Mpreg-challenge, but because what I ultimately conjured up does not meet the challenge specs I have not linked it there. Still, thanks so much for inspiring me, Louise!
2. This fic is (once again) beta-ed by my amazing friend Jack. Any mistakes, however, are solely mine.
3. The boys (Luke in particular) are probably going to seem pretty OOC. I intend to explain that in due time, so bear with me.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I’m sorry to leave you with what amounts to the progeny version of a Dear John-letter, but I was worried that if we were face to face when I told you the things I have to say, I wouldn’t have the strength to do what is best right now.
You are the most amazing parents anybody could wish for. You are kind, loving, supportive and giving. I literally could not ask for better. Even though at this moment you are dealing with a lot and your marriage is falling apart over Momīs business involvement with Dusty Donovan, you try your best to keep your troubles away from me, Faith, Natalie, and even Ethan. I don’t think those three have even noticed what you’re going through.
I have thought long and hard about the decision I made. This letter is the last in a series of several, the previous ones all ended up in the trash. I hope I get it right this time and manage to convey to you why I am choosing to leave Oakdale, even though you and the rest of my life here mean so much to me. Everything a guy could ever want, I have right here. A loving family, a trust fund, a college education started last September, even a charitable foundation set up with the money Damien released to me on my 18th birthday. So why leave?
When my college classmate Marcus Freshette died in a car crash on Thanksgiving weekend, I took it hard. I probably don’t have to remind you, because, as I fell apart completely, you picked up the pieces for me, supported me, kept me from drinking, and comforted me through what were undoubtedly my darkest days ever. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. But it also drove home an important truth: I am, at an age where I should be finding my own place in the world, still completely dependent on my family.
Where most of my friends have left Oakdale to go to college somewhere else and build a new life all of their own, I have stayed in the safety of my childhood home and still rely on you for everything. You buy or cook me dinner, pay for my education and my clothes, bury me in love and support when something goes wrong, and very often fix the problem for me. The money that started my Foundation originates from an external source. I have done nothing to earn it, and every time I come up with an idea, I leave the execution to my capable grandmother who basically runs it for me.
I love you all, more than I can ever say, but this cannot go on. I have to start making my own way, become the responsible, self-reliant adult I know I should be; become the kind of person that actually deserves the trust and love you place in me, the Luke Snyder that will make you proud.
So I am taking off. Please don’t try to find me. I know you’ll want to, but I really need to get out on my own for a while. I have taken my car and withdrawn enough money from my accounts at the Foundation to see me through this road trip I plan to take. In time I’ll contact you, but that will probably not be soon.
I realize full well I am asking you for the impossible: to let me go, and not look for me until I reach out to you. I’m being selfish. I know that if I stayed in touch with you all, my urge to run back home where I am so loved and cherished would soon become overwhelming and my plans to venture out alone and become my own man would never come to fruition. So I am asking this of you, difficult and unfair as I know my request to be: please don’t search for me, and—hardest of all—convince grandmother Lucinda and uncle Jack to do the same. I need to find out what I kind of life I can carve out for myself; by myself. I promise to send you a message from time to time to let you know I am alright.
Never doubt you will always be in my heart and my thoughts. You are the best family imaginable and I love you all more than I could ever convey.
All my love,
March 7th, 2008
When he rounded the corner of SW 4th Avenue onto SW Clay Street, Noah caught sight of him. The silhouette, huddled in his jacket, the collar up against the chilly March drizzle, stood in front of the building he was heading for. The boy was a dirty blond, beautiful from what he could see of him, even at this distance, although Noah also observed that his posture spoke of fatigue, trepidation, and more than a touch of dejectedness. Noah wondered if the weariness he felt at the sight of the teenager was showing on his face. Had it really only been seven weeks since he’d hovered in front of that building, knowing that entering it was the best option, yet dreading the decision simultaneously? The weather was marginally warmer now, but seeing the apprehensive frame positioned on the sidewalk all the feelings that had hurricaned through him at the time returned temporarily, and for a brief moment he felt the young man’s plight as if it were his own again; felt himself standing there.
Noah shook it off, adjusted the overstuffed backpack he was carrying, and picked up his pace a little. As he approached the solemn shape in front of the building entrance, he noted he had been right both times. The young man, who seemed to be about his age, was indeed beautiful. He had delicate features, a shapely mouth, and stunning brown eyes that gleamed in the light of the nearby lamppost. But the dark circles under those eyes spoke of too little sleep for too long a time, and the look on his face, the position of his shoulders, and his hands bunched into fists inside the jacket-pockets, indicated barely held back despair.
Deliberately sounding out his steps to announce his arrival, Noah advanced to a few paces away from the anguished teen. “Hey,” he said, trying to make his voice sound both reassuring and poised. “Going in?” Without waiting for a reply, he walked up to the front access, keyed in the opening code on the pad next to the intercom and stepped inside, casually leaning his shoulder against the doorframe so it stayed open as he pretended to look for something in his pack, giving the looming figure time to make up his mind. A muted shuffle behind him indicated that the blond was following him in, and Noah moved forward. “Let me show you where the intake room is,” he said.
The front entrance closed, encapsulating them both inside where it was warm and, as Luke would soon learn, welcoming. Outside, the rain continued its lacquering of the dark Portland streets. The streetlight not too far away, which had illuminated his hesitant features a few moments ago, now only lit the plaque to the side of the doorway, signalling the building’s purpose:
“Laramie House – support, shelter and housing for pregnant male teens”