I dreamt of him as a child & alone. Coming day after day into the hands of the one that would tear him apart. Creep tip toe softly down the stairs to the back of the house. Don’t turn on the light. Don’t make a sound. Soften brittle between your teeth. He was always such a radiant child in all his uncontrollable sadness. He rode his bike hard out the back door, down the alley, across the field, through the parking lot, to the waiting arms of the only one that cared for him in all the wrong ways. He always had a very feminine air about him even as a child. Hair long & curly, but mostly matted. His nose long & slender. His eyes softly proud, but usually cast down. There was a tag on the back of his house, a heart with an A through it, that one of the girls had left there for him. He always had a few women about him even as a young boy barely past eight. He was their keeper, trying to play a big boys role in their heart, biking between the alleys & stores collecting what he could to keep them a float. They were all his senior by almost ten years, but he could not refuse that frightened look in their charcoal singed Bambi eyes. That is why he returned again & again to the dragons den, breathing fire down his throat, in the guise of PB & J sandwiches. He bore it all so gently & firmly. It wasn’t for himself, his mind was elsewhere. When his mom went into the hospital he was so calm & collected no one thought to question the older single man he had been spending so much time with. Just a family friend here to check in after hearing the news. No one exchanges names in a time of calamity. He never told. He grew up & mostly moved on. Local grocery clerk peddling on the side. He stopped coming around as much, but he kept his word. I’ll never understand why he kept that word. Or how he preserved so much gentleness in his heart after loosing so much blood to his own wounds. An old soul trapped in a young mans body. Was I another one of his lost doves he was trying to rescue? Could he really love me in all his softness carrying around the weight of those secrets? Was I responsible for that far away look in his eye?