eBook Details

Harm Reduction

By: Heidi Belleau | Other books by Heidi Belleau
      Violetta Vane | Other books by Violetta Vane
Published By: Storm Moon Press
Published: Feb 13, 2012
ISBN # STRMNP0000003
Word Count: 5,400
Heat Index  
Price: $0.00

Available in: Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Reader, Mobipocket (.prc), Mobipocket (.mobi), Epub

Categories: Romance>GLBT>Gay Romance>Contemporary Romance>Free Reads


Harm Reduction by Heidi Belleau, Violetta Vane - Romance>GLBT>Gay

It's 1992 in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and Magic Johnson has just gone public about being HIV+. Out of the news but right at the frontlines, Julio Torres works the streets and the parks, doing everything he can to keep more people from dying. He meets a young hustler named Linley who doesn't stand a chance. But no matter how hopeless, Julio never gives up trying to do the right thing.

It's 2012 in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and there's a Whole Foods around the corner selling organic flowers for Valentine's Day. The city has changed, and so has the world, but Julio is still holding on to his past. He's moved on with his life, taken up new causes, but he just can't let Linley's memory go.
Reader Rating:   3.5 starstarstarstar (6 Ratings)
Sensuality Rating:   liplip

One second, and everything was fine, just a four-man pickup game played slow and sluggish in the crackling cold—puffs of breath like plumes of steam, the occasional rattle of the ball against the high chain-link fence—and then one of the other kids had to start talking shit.

If Julio's foster son Jay had shaken it off, turned it around, they could have kept playing and things would have gone on like they were going. But Jay wasn't good with words like that, and he wasn't too good at shaking shit off, either. Always walking the line between changing and staying the same—Julio and Jay and this court and the Lower East Side and the whole damn city—and even if change could be for the better, it was like they were always one minute from midnight on the doomsday clock, just one word away from some kind of apocalypse.

Julio grabbed his upper arm and moved fast. Marched Jay off the court before he could struggle and fly at them. "Not worth it," he advised in his lowest, bitterest voice—the one that meant commiseration.

Tick, tick, tick. Counting closer to midnight. No, it was the rhythm of the ball being dribbled like a war-drum.

Words trailed off into the distance behind them: "You go on home with your bitch-ass daddy!"

Jay's whole body convulsed at the taunt's electric shock. "Let go," he gritted out. He wasn't fighting anymore, so Julio relaxed his grip. Slowed down, now that they'd walked at least a block up the long length of Sara D. Roosevelt Park and the danger was past. He leaned to block Jay's line of sight back to the court, making a wall of his body.

Jay was shivering so hard that the sharp outlines of his face blurred. The cold. Adrenaline. Julio examined him calmly, clinically, isolating his own hurt and stuffing it down somewhere with the memory of another boy, so many years ago, who'd vibrated just like this. "You're gonna be fine. The way you feel right now? It's bad, but it's not gonna last. You got to take care of your body. Let's go get a hot chocolate or something."

"Fuck you, man. Hot chocolate? The fuck you think..."

Julio reassessed the situation. Jay wasn't ten anymore, and with his pride wounded as it was, hot chocolate wasn't comfort, it was an insult. Okay. Jay could still come back from this. Misstep, recover. "We got two choices. We can replay the situation, talk about it, get ready to make it better next time. Or we can move on. It's up to you. And if we move on, we can always come back to it later."

That seemed to help Jay focus. "Move on. Yeah. I just wanna get the fuck out of here, know what I mean? Don't know why we came here anyway. We always come here. You always make us come here. How come we ain't playing indoors? Look at these fingers. Fuck!" He threw shivering fingers in Julio's face, the brown skin around the knuckles ashy from the cold, dry air.

Moving from shock to parental blame? Julio could deal with that. He'd asked Jay to bring gloves, of course, and been ignored. Pointing it out wouldn't help the situation, so he didn't.
Reader Reviews (2)
Submitted By: cleochicago on Jan 28, 2013
Wonderful free story. It's short but the characters and story are well developed. The parts set today and in 1992 are vivid. This is a sweet story - no sex.
Submitted By: Vushka on Feb 21, 2012
Short, sweet, and uplifting. A second chance story that is thoroughly grounded in a vivid setting and good character description.

Harm Reduction

By: Heidi Belleau, Violetta Vane