Virtual Pets | Games

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Cagin' a Cajun

Mac O'Roni

     The hunt ended in Antarctica. Damn ‘em all, if there’s one thing I just can’t stomach it’s self-righteous hypocrisy. The X-Men can just go ta hell now, for all a’ me. An’ if I ever run across any a’ ‘em again, Archangel or that bitch Rogue in particular, I’ll probably send ‘em there. I’m through.
     I went down there ta find ‘im. I was pretty sure in my heart that all I would find was a cayenne-flavored Popsicle, but I had some hope. One thing I’d learned about Gambit right off, the kid’s a survivor. But cold is a livin’ animal, a merciless killer, an’ I didn’t think that Louisiana boy really knew anythin’ about it. But if there was a way, I knew he’d find it.
     He did, but I was just barely in time anyway. I pulled ‘im out a’ that damned wreck an’ what I had in my arms wasn’t a man but just a shiverin’ skeleton. Good thing I’d thought ta bring extra food with me. We sat in the heated cab a’ the big half-track I’d come in for a long time, just ta get ‘im warmed up a little before we moved on ta where there was an expedition ship waitin’ for us. I gave ‘im a cup a’ hot soup from the thermos I’d brought an’ he drank it without a word. Wouldn’t even look at me. I finally had ta reach out an’ actually turn his head myself, but even then his eyes were everywhere but on mine.
     The ship took us ta Rio de Janeiro, which I had thought would be a good place ta stay for awhile an’ let ‘im recuperate. Nice an’ warm, an’ while it wasn’t my kind a’ town it certainly was his kind. But we didn’t stay long. We couldn’t. Every loud noise made the poor kid cringe, an’ Rio is a loud city. It’s kinda touchy-feely place, too, an’ he couldn’t stand ta get near anybody. Except me. He still wouldn’t talk ta me or look me in the eye, but he couldn’t let me get too far away, either. I finally decided ta take ‘im up ta Canada. I had a cabin out in the woods in BC, an’ I figured the quiet would be good for ‘im. I could reacclimatize ‘im ta people slowly, an’ maybe we could move on before winter hit. I didn’t think a Canadian winter would be good therapy right then. I didn’t have a plan beyond the cabin in the woods, but I guess I was figurin’ that if he still couldn’t stand crowds before the cold weather struck, we’d head down ta the desert somewhere. Maybe live in one a’ those adobe hogans the Navajo live in, or whatever it is they call ‘em.
     We took a plane from Rio ta Miami, an’ then I bought a car an’ we drove the rest a’ the way. I guess I didn’t want ta get there too fast, though I can’t say just why. I tried ta keep the radio tuned ta upbeat music, shit-stompin’ stuff whenever I could find it. I guess we were somewhere around Knoxville, Tennessee when he started singin’ along. Timid at first, quiet, just a few words a’ certain songs, kinda tuneless. Around about Omaha he started really beltin’ ‘em out, an’ by God, the kid could really sing. Seriously, I mean you’d pay money ta hear it. Like Mel Tillis’s stutter, that thick Bayou Yat just dropped right out a’ his voice an’ every word was clear as a bell. An’ range? Christ, the kid could sing right along with Barry White without strainin’, an’ with damned near everyone else, too. Even those female singers who do all that stupid acrobatic stuff—I don’t know who started that trend, maybe it was Whitney Houston, but I don’t like it much myself. No falsetto, either. Kid could go from bass ta soprano like it was nothin’. I don’t guess it should have been surprisin’, but his best stuff was Cher. She’s kinda got a mannish voice, anyway, an’ it was right in what seemed ta be his most natural range. Blew her right on out a’ the water on “If I Could Turn Back Time.” When he was singin’ he looked almost like that reckless, semi-psychotic kid I remembered. Still wouldn’t talk, though, or look at me.
     We spent our nights in the quietest little roadside motels I could find, never in the same room but adjoinin’, I always insisted on that. I think he would have if I didn’t, because he always opened the connectin’ doors if I closed ‘em.
     We were in a little place called either the Black Bear Lodge or the Big Bear Lodge, I can’t remember which, in the town a’ Cody, Wyomin’, which is the “gateway ta the Little Big Horn Mountains,” as the sign at the city limits proclaims, when he came ta me for the first time. It was around maybe one or two in the mornin’, an’ while I wasn’t really deep asleep I wasn’t exactly awake, either. Still, I might have expected ta have heard ‘im come in, or smelled ‘im at least, but he was spooky that way. A guy like me ain’t used ta havin’ anybody, even a Master Thief, sneak up on ‘im. But the first I knew he was in my room was when he slipped inta bed behind me, long an’ lean an’ naked as a jaybird. I don’t know what he thought he was doin’. Maybe he thought he owed me somethin’, an’ I don’t really care. I think maybe this was what I’d been waitin’ for, though—why I’d decided ta drive us ta BC instead a’ fly.
     It was good, damn good, but it wasn’t like I’d wanted it. One a’ the things that drove me wild about the old Gambit was that I knew, just knew that he’d want it hard an’ rough an’ wild, like I did. Sex is good no matter how ya take it, when yer with someone that makes it good, but there ain’t much ta beat a good long session a’ really ruttin’, ya know? When ya gotta rein it in, when ya gotta worry about how the other guy’s feelin’, it just ain’t the same. But still—man oh man, did I think this kid was the best? I had no idea. “Best” just don’t quite cut it, ya know?
     I got ta expectin’ it soon enough, feelin’ that smooth hard body slippin’ under the sheets with me, feelin’ ‘im press up against my back an’ bury his face in the back a’ my neck. I took ‘im a dozen different ways, an’ he never once complained. But he never looked at me, either, or said a word. I loved it but God, this silent act was really gettin’ on my nerves.
     Pretty soon I stopped payin’ for two rooms—no sense in it, I figured. Got some pretty dirty looks from the desk clerks but though they all “reserved the right ta refuse service ta anyone” nobody quite dared say anything ta me. We also started pullin’ in for the night early, not makin’ good miles at all, an’ it took a week what shoulda took maybe a day a’ hard drivin’. Wasn’t exactly my intention, ya understand, but I couldn’t get far before the urge—hell, the need—ta take ‘im just got too damned strong. Smellin’ ‘im all day in the car beside me drove me wild.
     We finally made it up here an’ I guess maybe I haven’t been too interested in rehabilitatin’ the kid just now. See, now that we’re out in the middle a’ nowhere with no one ta bug us it’s been a lot better. I can take ‘im whenever I want, an’ wherever I want, too. One afternoon we did it against the bole a’ one a these big blackjack pines, an’ another time we stood in the middle a’ this beautiful deep clear creek an’ stroked each other off. The water was cold an’ I thought he wouldn’t like it but he just lay his head on my shoulder an’ kept that sweet hand a’ his movin’ while I moved mine. Since then he’ll meet my eyes, an’ there’s somethin’ in his that I never expected ta see there, a kind a’ wild desperation that about breaks my heart an’ makes me want ‘im even more. He needs me now, maybe like he’s never needed anyone or anythin’ in his whole life, an’ I guess maybe I need ta be needed like that.
     We didn’t leave when winter came down on us. I didn’t want to an’ he didn’t seem ta mind at all, as long as there was a nice fire in the fireplace an’ some warm blankets ta curl up in. An’ my lap. Sometimes I’d get ta strokin’ his hair while he snuggled up ta me, an’ I could just about hear him purr. I think he started talkin’ again around the middle a’ January.
     I gave Jean-Luc a ring when we first got to Rio an’ let ‘im know I had his boy, but I’d never told the X-Men anything. Didn’t think they needed or deserved ta know. Let ‘em think they’d killed ‘im. Maybe they’d lose some sleep over it, but I doubted it. But when Remy started talkin’ again he told me he wanted ta let Ro know he was all right. I figured that was okay; she hadn’t been with the group that left ‘im behind, though she hadn’t exactly broke ‘er neck tryin’ ta find ‘im, either. We drove inta Vancouver an’ stayed that night at a hotel—a nice one, not like the little flophouses we’d stayed in on the way up. He called ‘er from there an’ then we made love, an’ it was like I’d wanted it ta be all along, wild an’ rough an’ completely uninhibited, like I’d always known he’d be. Maybe he won’t ever be the same person he was before, but he’s come a long way back in a helluva hurry, all things considered.
     Just the other day I had ‘im out on the lake with me, teachin’ ‘im how ta ice fish. I was kinda surprised at first ta find out just how good he was at livin’ rough like this, thought he was just a city boy through an’ through, but I guess Jean-Luc’d had ‘im out in the real bayou a time or two after all. Still, he didn’t know nothin’ about survivin’ the winter so I figured he’d better learn, as long as it wasn’t, like, traumatic for ‘im or anythin’. I didn’t have no ice shack, either—we was just out there on the ice, livin’ raw. He did just fine—I’m the one who ended up lookin’ like an ass. Slipped on the ice an’ fell on my butt when I was headin’ back from cleanin’ a fish. He laughed like hell, rollin’ around in the snow and whoopin’ like a loon. I was embarrassed an’ probably woulda been mad as hell but the fall was worth it just ta hear ‘im laugh. Then I sorta forgot all about it as he pulled me down with ‘im an’ started kissin’ me. He didn’t catch any fish that day, but he caught me easy enough.
     I went back to Vancouver this mornin’, but I left ‘im at the cabin. Now I’m bustin’ ass ta get home before it gets too late. We were out a’ batteries, ya see. No electricity at the cabin, so we gotta use batteries ta run the little Sony I bought for us along the way at a Wal-Mart in some little town in Idaho. Got some more CDs while I was in town, too—Travis Tritt’s Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof, Garth Brooks’s Scarecrow, Marilyn Manson’s Portrait of an American Family, Warren Zevon’s Genius: The Best of Warren Zevon, the Counting Crows’s Hard Candy, and, of course, Cher’s Greatest Hits. I like ta listen ta Remy sing along. Sometimes he sings while we’re doin’ it, an’ that’s just about as good as life gets.
     Except maybe for those times he runs off inta the woods an’ makes me hunt ‘im down. If he makes it back to the cabin before I catch 'im I gotta do him, but my prize for catchin’ ‘im is some really first-class head. Frankly, it never really matters who catches who. I like things the way they are with us just fine, but I guess maybe I just need to keep up the hunt. He seems to understand.