“Those damn fags are ruinin’ this country,” my father said, as he turned a page in the paper. “First, the shrinks say it’s not a disease anymore, then the homos get ‘domestic partner’ benefits, then the God Damn crazies in Massachusetts even let them marry… and now some dimwit judge says our state’s ban on gay marriage is ‘constitutionally inconsistent’, whatever that means!”
Dad put the paper down in his lap and looked right at me and said, “So not even a constitutional amendment is safe now… If we want to keep the queers from corruptin’ marriage, we gotta change even more of the state constitution.” I was sittin’ at the kitchen table, doin’ my homework, and I just shrugged at what my dad had said.
My father then turned his gaze and looked at my brother, Will, who was usin’ our family’s only computer to do his homework. I knew it wouldn’t take long - I’m sure my brother could almost feel our father’s gaze on his back - and sure enough, my brother turned and locked eyes with Dad.
“Can you believe it?” my father said as he stared at Will. “The fags are runnin’ the country!”
Although I knew better - perhaps I had a death wish or somethin’ - I diverted attention from my brother and spoke up. “Maybe not the country, but certainly our school,” I said. “The freshman class treasurer’s gay. He and Jeremy Kimball are really tight. They hold hands all the time and sometimes even kiss in the halls.”
My father turned his gaze back to me and I immediately regretted speakin’ up. “That’s disgusting!” he practically shouted. And then his face scrunched up and his eyes narrowed as he said, “Jeremy Kimball? Isn’t he that guy they caught…”
“That’s the one.” I said, as I remembered the infamous ‘gym incident’. Before then, I’d never even given any thought to the possibility of any of my friends or classmates bein’ gay. Yeah, Jeremy sure got caught in an embarrassin’ situation. He vehemently denied it had anythin’ to do with bein’ gay and claimed it was an accident, but everyone knew better. He certainly was the butt of a lot of kiddin’ and practical jokes all through the last part of eighth grade, and I was one of the ones who teased him the most.
But then I ran into him and Dave Reynolds at the Fashion Mall, doin’ a little shoppin’ a few weeks before the start of school. I asked Dave what he was doin’ hangin’ with ‘that faggot’, and Dave floored me by sayin’ that Jeremy was his boyfriend. His BOYFRIEND, for cripes sake.
Well, although Dave isn’t exactly my friend, we always got along real good and I never had any reason to think he was gay, but there he was, enterin’ high school, and he was out and proud. Man, that was a shock. David wasn’t exactly the coolest kid in our middle school, but he was certainly well-liked, and since startin’ high school, he’s become one of the most popular kids in our class. Considerin’ there are nearly a thousand kids in the freshman class, that’s quite an accomplishment.
So I’ve done a lot of thinkin’ lately, and I’ve come to realize that maybe there’s nothin’ wrong with bein’ gay. I mean, I never really bought any of that Bible crap my parents are always spoutin’ anyway, and it’s not like anyone would actually choose to be gay… that’s for sure. So if Dave can’t really help bein’ gay, then what’s the big deal? He’s still the same kid I’ve known for the past few years. Nothin’s really changed except he has a boyfriend instead of a girlfriend… not that I even have a girlfriend… yet.
But I wasn’t about to tell any of my friends what I thought about gays, mind you - I had a reputation to maintain, after all, and I certainly wasn’t about to contradict my father - he wasn’t a very large man, but he sure could be a mean SOB.
“Are you lisinin’ to me, Barry?” My father’s stern voice brought me outta’ my thinkin’.
“Yeah, Dad, I hear ya’, Dad. The fags are ruinin’ the country.”
“Damn right, they are,” he agreed as he started readin’ the paper again.
I looked at my father, sittin’ in his Lazy Boy in our small living room. We lived in a tiny house in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the school district. The house was little bigger than a single-wide trailer, truth be told, and my brother and I had to share a bedroom that was little bigger than a closet. The bathroom was miniscule, and we shared it with our parents.
Our parents may have been rednecks, but we were proud people. My dad had slaved away at multiple jobs when I was little, just so we could buy our house. The house was actually smaller than our apartment had been, but it was ours, and it was in one of the best school districts in the nation. Mom and Dad never made it past high school, but they were doin’ everythin’ to make sure that Will and I did.
My brother went back to doin’ his homework on the computer, but not before smilin’ at me. I knew he was grateful for me gettin’ Dad’s attention away from him. Not that Will was gay or anythin’, but Dad was always callin’ him ‘pansy this’ an’ ‘pansy that’, ever since he didn’t make varsity. Yeah, that had been a real source of disappointment in the Smith family.
Will had been a star athlete all through grade school and middle school. Hell, he was the first string quarterback on the freshman team! But somethin’ happened last year and things changed. He played well enough at the start, but then his playin’ turned to shit and he spent the rest of the season sittin’ on the bench.
Dad spent just about every penny we had saved to send Will to a football camp over the summer, and Will seemed to come back a changed man. He was excited by the game again and was really happy, or so we all thought. But then he didn’t make the cut at tryouts and he ended up back on JV while all of his friends made varsity.
He was devastated, and moped around most of the time afterwards. It didn’t help that Dad kept layin’ inta him. I guess Dad felt that Will should have done better, after we spent all that money on him an’ all. Sharin’ a bedroom with Will was bringin’ me down, too, but at least I didn’t have to put up with Dad’s scorn.
Sharin’ a bedroom with my older brother had had enough of a downside as it was without him bein’ a grouch all the time. I’d come home enough times in the past few years to find the door locked and to hear the sound of bedsprings squeakin’. I used to tease him a lot about it, but then he commented about how it wouldn’t be long before it was him that came home to find me humpin’ some chick. That sure shut me up in a hurry.
For the most part, Will and I got along real good for a couple of brothers two years apart. I just wished I could find a way to cheer him up. I knew he seemed real down from not makin’ varsity, but it sure seemed there was somethin’ else on his mind. If only I could figure out what it was, maybe I could help him fix it.
Maybe it was ’cause he couldn’t afford his own car. Most of his friends had cars, but even with him workin’ every hour he wasn’t at football practice, it still wasn’t enough. Findin’ a car for a few hundred bucks was no big deal, but our folks couldn’t afford the insurance, so he’d have to come up with the money. Hell, our parents could barely afford to let him drive their cars, but they didn’t exactly have a choice in payin’ higher rates with a teenage driver in the house.
Still, he never complained about not havin’ a car. Maybe he didn’t want to upset our parents, ’cause it wasn’t their fault we couldn’t afford a third car. But I just didn’t think that was it. No, there was somethin’ else buggin’ Will - if only I could figure out what it was…
“Honey, we’d better get goin’,” Mom called from the kitchen to Dad. “It’s almost time.”
Dad got up and headed to their bedroom to change his clothes. He and Mom were in a bowlin’ league together and Wednesday nights were sacred.
I finished my Algebra homework and closed up my books, and then put them away in my backpack. “I’m headin’ over to Tommy’s,” I said before kissin’ my mother on the cheek and headin’ out the door. Tommy lived only on the next block, so there was no point in takin’ my bike for such a short walk, particularly since I could cut through our back yards.
“Hey, Tom, wassup?” I said as I entered his house. Tommy didn’t like to be called Tommy anymore, but I still thought of him as Tommy. We’d been friends since third grade.
Keepin’ his voice barely above a whisper, he said, “I gotta new Penthouse. Wanna see it?”
“Does a cow have tits?” I asked him with a little too much enthusiasm. “Come on, let’s see it!”
We raced to his bedroom and he pulled it out from under his mattress. Although his house wasn’t much bigger than ours, he was an only child and had a bedroom all to himself. We both sat on his bed and practically drooled as he flipped the pages.
Tommy and I had been jerkin’ off together since we were twelve, and so it wasn’t long before we both had our pants and boxers down around our ankles. We were always lookin’ for new jack-off material and a new Penthouse was definitely reason for celebration. It wasn’t long before we shot our loads.
After cleanin’ up, pullin’ our pants up and puttin’ the magazine away, Tommy said, “Man, I gotta getta girlfriend.”
“We’re not gonna get girlfriends sittin’ around at home and jerkin’ off, ya know,” I said.
“I know that,” Tommy replied, “but none of the girls I like will look at me. They all look down on me and call me a river rat.”
I knew how Tommy felt. I’d been puttin’ up with bein’ called a river rat since I’d started middle school. It wasn’t fair. Some of the richest kids in school lived on the river in developments like Lake Shores, but because the poorest neighborhoods were in areas the river often flooded, we were called river rats. I hated bein’ poor, but I hated the way the rich kids treated us even more.
Trouble was, Tommy liked Sarah Wilson, and she was definitely outta his league, but because she wouldn’t give him the time of day, he liked to complain about how all the rich, snobbish girls treated kids like us. He needed to find a nice river rat like us to bang. I did, too.
“Hey, I heard Karen Johnson’s havin’ a Halloween party next Wednesday,” I told Tommy, in case he hadn’t heard. Karen lived in a neighborhood near ours and even though the houses were bigger, they weren’t bigger by much. Karen’s parents had put on an addition, however - one of those cheap add-a-room kinda things - so they had plenty of room for a party.
“Yeah, I heard, but I’m not sure I’m goin’.”
“Why not? Don’t you wanna get a girlfriend? Don’t you wanna get laid?”
“Yeah, I wanna get laid,” Tommy replied, “But I know all the girls that’ll be there.”
“A cunt’s a cunt, Tommy,” I told him.
“Hey, I’m not Tommy anymore, remember?”
“Sorry ’bout that.”
“And I know a cunt’s a cunt, but I can do better.”
“Maybe,” I said, “but we gotta start somewhere.”
Just then, we heard the phone ring, and pretty soon Tommy’s mom was callin’ out that it was for him. Tommy went out to the kitchen and I followed him. He spoke on the phone for a bit, and then asked me, “It’s Jeff Campbell. He an’ the guys are gonna shoot some hoops at the school in a bit. You wanna play?”
“Sure, I wanna play. That’d be cool,” I answered. I wasn’t a real athlete like my brother and I wasn’t even goin’ out for the freshman team, but I liked playin’ with my friends. “I gotta stop home first to change my clothes, though,” I mentioned. The jeans I was wearin’ would never do for b’ball. I just had to grab a pair of shorts and we’d be on our way.
“No prob, Bare,” my best friend said.
We cut through our back yards and we hurried into our house, only to find my bedroom door closed. I didn’t need to test the lock - I could hear the bedsprings squeakin’.
“Fuck,” I said. “I hate to interrupt Will when he’s porkin’ some chick, but I really wanna play.” I’d have asked to borrow a pair of Tommy’s, but he was skinny as a stick and I knew I’d never fit into them.
“Why don’t you knock?” Tommy asked.
Much as I hated to, knowin’ full well that Will might someday retaliate, I gently knocked on the door. When the springs kept on squeekin’ I knocked a little harder, and then harder still. Pretty soon I was bangin’ on the door.
The squeekin’ stopped, and we heard some russlin’ inside, and then my brother opened the door just a crack and stuck his head outside. He stared down at Tommy and me and asked, “What do you want?”
“Me and Tommy and the boys wanna play some b’ball. I need ta get a pair a shorts to wear.”
“I’ll go get you a pair,” my brother answered as he disappeared back inside the room, leavin’ the door open just a crack. He knew I’d respect his privacy, but Tommy had other plans. Probably thinkin’ he could get a look at some girl’s tits or maybe even see some pussy, Tommy reached around me and pushed the door open wide.
What we saw inside shocked the hell outta both of us. Sittin’ naked on Will’s bed was Jamie Wilson, one of the offensive linebackers from the varsity football team.
“Holy fuck!” I heard Tommy say from behind me. “Your brother’s a fag. I can’t believe your brother’s a fag! And Jamie Wilson! I don’t believe it!”
After gettin’ over my initial shock, I turned to Tommy and said, “Tommy, wait. Please don’t tell anyone. It’s their secret, not ours to tell. You gotta promise me on scout’s honor you’ll never tell anyone.”
“My name’s Tom, asshole, and you’re stickin’ up for them?” Tommy asked incredulously. “You’re really stickin’ up for them fairies?”
“One of them’s my brother, and I don’t rat out my brother.”
“Yeah, but you’re brother’s queer!”
“So what?” I asked.
“So he’s a fudgepacker!” Tommy answered.
“I don’t care if he does it with sheep. He’s my brother,” I stated emphatically.
“But this is worse than doin’ it with sheep. Your brother’s a faggot! Don’t you get it? Your brother’s queer!”
“What’s so bad about doin’ it with another boy?” I asked. “It’s not like they’re paradin’ in dresses around the school.”
“It’s just sick, that’s all,” he said. “How can you stick up for him?” Tommy asked. “Are you queer, too?”
“You know better than that,” I answered. “You’ve seen what gets me off, and it ain’t guys.”
“How do I know it’s not me gettin’ off that gets you off?”
“’Cause… shit, Tommy, I like lookin’ at tits and pussy. You of all people know that!”
“It’s TOM, God Damnit, and I don’t know what I know right now.”
“Please, Tom,” I pleaded with my best friend, “you know what my father’s like. If this gets back to him, he’ll kill Will.”
“Maybe that’d be for the best,” Tommy said, shockin’ me to the core. It was one thing to hate gays, but quite another to say that it was OK for a father to kill his son.
I looked into Tommy’s ice cold eyes, perhaps for the last time, and said, “I think you’d better go, but know this… If you tell anyone about what you saw here tonight, you will live to regret it.”
Tommy replied, “The best friend I used to know, the one who despised faggots as much as I do, would have never threatened me.” He turned around and walked down the hall, and I heard the front door slam behind him.
I literally felt sick to my stomach as I turned around to face my brother. He and Jamie had apparently dressed in the time that Tommy and I had been arguin’. I looked up into my brother’s eyes and said, “I’m so sorry, Will. I’m so, so sorry.”
Will reached out and squeezed my shoulder as he said, “It’s alright, Barry. You didn’t mean for this to happen, but you made me proud of you, brother. The way you stuck up for me was amazing. Since I realized I’m… gay, I’ve been doin’ everything I could to hide it from you. I thought you were as bad as Dad, the way you laid into that Jeremy kid all last year.”
“I’ve grown up a lot since then, Will. I’ve made up my mind that bein’ gay’s OK. Hell, I think I’d even like to make amends with Jer, and with his boyfriend, Dave. I’d like to be their friend, now, if they’ll let me. They’re really cool, and popular. And besides, you’re my brother. I meant what I said… I’d never rat you out.”
Jamie came up behind Will and wrapped his arm around him. I had to admit that creeped me out a little, but that was just my old ways comin’ to the surface. I quickly buried those thoughts and smiled at the two of them. “You two make a handsome couple,” I said as I looked into their eyes. “I mean that.”
“I know you do,” my brother responded.
“So what are we goin’ to do?” Jamie asked.
“I don’t think Tommy’ll out ya,” I answered. “Give him time, but he’ll listen to me.”
“I’m not so sure, William stated, “but regardless, I don’t want my parents findin’ out their older son’s gay from their neighbors.”
“What do you mean?” Jamie asked with a tremble in his voice.
“I mean that I don’t want to go to sleep anymore wonderin’ if my dad’s gonna come bargin’ into my room in the middle of the night. I’m terrified of him findin’ out, but I’m even more terrified of him findin’ out from someone else.”
“You’re thinking of telling him?” Jamie asked.
“Not just him, but everyone. I’m thinkin’ of commin’ out.”
“But won’t you be outin’ Jamie?” I asked.
“I’m already pretty much out,” Jamie answered. “It’s not like the whole school knows, but my parents know, my sisters know and the whole football team knows.”
I couldn’t believe it. He was like the ultimate jock, and not only was he gay but all his jock friends knew it and were cool with it. Well, maybe not cool, but OK enough not to blab it to the whole high school. I was impressed.
I looked thoughtfully at my brother and said, “Will, Dad’ll kill ya. I wasn’t kiddin’ when I told Tommy that. Dad’ll fuckin’ kill ya.”
“I don’t know, Bare. Part of me says you’re right, but another part of me says he’ll love me, no matter what. I just don’t want him confrontin’ me outta the blue. I want to tell him on my terms.”
“Do you want me here when you tell him?” Jamie asked my brother, as he gently squeezed his hand. In that moment, I could see how much they loved each other. I wouldn’t say I was comfortable with it, but it still made me feel good inside.
“No, Jamie, this is somethin’ I need to do by myself, and as much as I love you, I wouldn’t want to subject you to what’s likely to happen afterwards.”
“I’ll be here for my brother,” I said to Jamie.
He smiled at me and said, “I know you will, and I thank you for it.”
Jamie then turned to his boyfriend and said, “I guess I’d better go.” They gave each other a brief kiss on the lips, right in front of me. “So when do you think you’ll tell your folks?”
“Tonight,” my brother answered as he sighed.
“Shit, I guess there’s no time like the present, but don’t you think you should at least sleep on it?”
“I’m not willin’ to take a chance on Tommy blabbin’ it to the whole school before I get to tell them.”
“If you’re sure about that,” Jamie said with strength and reassurance in his voice. “Call me afterwards if you can, no matter how late it is. OK?”
“I’ll try,” my brother answered, and then Jamie left.
I thought waitin’ for our parents would be torture, but Will and I talked more than we had in ages. It’s funny, but for a couple of guys that slept in the same room, we rarely talked about anythin’ personal. We generally talked about school, and sports, and music, and until tonight, about girls, but never about what it’s like to grow up… or about what it’s like to grow up gay… and in fear.
We could scarcely believe the time went so quick before our parents returned home. It seemed like it had been only a few minutes, but hours had passed. Even though it was late - after 10:00, William was still determined to come out to Mom and Dad tonight.
After some idle chatter about how their league did that night and so on, Will said, “Mom, Dad, there’s somethin’ I need to talk to you about.”
“Can’t it wait ’till mornin’?” Mom asked. “We’re both awfully tired.”
“No, it can’t,” Will answered.
“It sounds pretty serious,” Dad said.
“Believe me, it is,” Will responded. “You’d better sit down,” he added.
Will and I sat on the sofa while Mom and Dad each sat in their recliners.
“You get a girl pregnant?” Dad asked, raisin’ what he probably thought was troublin’ his older son.
“No, Dad, that’ll never happen.” Will answered.
“What daya mean?” Dad asked bluntly.
“The thing is… Damn, this is hard… It’s because… well, Tommy and Barry came home to find me in bed with someone.”
“So?” Dad asked.
“Dad, I’m… I’m gay…” William answered and then he swallowed hard.
“WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU’RE GAY?” My father was up on his feet in a flash, shoutin’ within inches of Will’s face.
“Dad, please,” my brother said, as the tears in his eyes boiled over and spilled down his cheeks.
“I WILL NOT HAVE A FAGGOT FOR A SON!”
“It’s not like I have a choice,” Will argued back. “I can’t help the way I feel. I’m not attracted to girls. I like boys.”
Before we knew what had happened, Dad reared back and punched Will, right in the eye. Mom screamed in response. Will started bawlin’ in earnest.
“GET YOUR PANSY ASS OUTA MY FACE!”
I reached out and put my arm around Will, and guided him to the kitchen table. We couldn’t afford a refrigerator with an ice maker, so I grabbed a tray of ice outta the freezer and popped the ice cubes into a plastic bag. I pounded the bag against the kitchen countertop to break the ice up, and then applied it to Will’s face.
Our father wasn’t done with us, however. He came up to me and asked, “So you caught your brother in bed with a boy. Who was the boy?”
When I didn’t answer, he slapped me across the face. It stung like hell, but I wasn’t about to give into him. I just stared back at him with all the anger I could muster. I suppose it showed in my eyes. I didn’t even shed a single tear - I wasn’t gonna let him see any weakness in me.
“WHO WAS IT, BOY?”
Just as Dad reared back to strike me for real, Will shouted out, “STOP! It was Jamie Wilson.”
“Friggin’ pansy, can’t take a few punches,” Dad muttered as he headed off to my parents’ bedroom. Rather than checkin’ on how her sons were, Mom followed him. I’d never felt so alone in my life, but given the choice, I was gonna stick with my brother.
Before long, I heard shoutin’ comin’ from the bedroom. I only heard dad’s voice, but I still couldn’t tell if he was arguin’ with Mom, or with someone on the phone, since Mom never raised her voice all that loud. Since Mom’s even more religious than Dad, I seriously doubted she was comin’ to Will’s side, however.
“YOU DON’T CARE YOU GOTTA FAGGOT SON?”
I heard that loud and clear. Dad was apparently talkin’ to, or rather, shoutin’ at Mr. Wilson. The shoutin’ continued, but I couldn’t make out anythin’ else that was bein’ said. After another fifteen minutes or so, Dad stormed outta the bedroom.
“Pack up your things, William. You’re spendin’ the night at the Wilsons. They’ll be here in ten minutes. After tonight, we’ll hafta see,” Dad said. I’d never heard him sound so cold. It seemed he was tryin’ to control the anger that was seethin’ outa every pore.
I headed in the direction of our bedroom, just behind my brother, but then turned back to face our father. “I’m packin’ up some stuff, too. I’d rather spend the night on their floor than spend it here with you.” I just had to meet his anger head on.
“Don’t you dare talk to me that way, boy. I’m your FATHER.”
“You’ll be my father when you can accept Will for who he is,” I replied. I couldn’t believe I was bein’ that brazen.
“I have half a notion to take you across my knee,” Dad said.
“You do that and you’ll lose both your sons forever,” I said with more conviction than I’d ever felt in my entire life. I turned back and went to my bedroom, where Will was busily shovin’ his things into a duffle bag.
“Hey, Bare. You don’t need to tag along for my sake, you know.”
“Will, I just gotta get outa here. After Tommy turnin’ his back on you an’ me and after Dad hittin’ both of us… I just can’t spend the night here. I’m goin’ with you, if you’ll let me.”
“Of course you can, Bare. After the way you stuck up for me tonight, I’ll have you with me for the rest of my life if you need me. I love you, bro.”
I reached out to my brother and we hugged each other in a tight embrace. I couldn’t remember the last time we’d done that - if ever. In that moment, my love for him swelled and I knew the bond we shared would be with us for the rest of our lives.
William stuffed as much as he could fit into his duffel, not knowin’ if and when he’d be returnin’ home, or if he’d ever be able to collect the rest. Figurin’ that I’d at least have a chance to come back in the future, if not to return home, I packed only enough for overnight.
Jamie and his father both came to pick us up. I offered to ride shotgun so that my brother and his boyfriend could sit together in back. Mr. Wilson was really cool about everythin’, and he told Will that he could stay as long as he needed to.
They lived in a much nicer neighborhood, in a house that I’m sure, others would think was small, but to us was a mansion, even if it only had one floor. There were four bedrooms - Jamie’s sisters shared one, Jamie had another and there was one left over as a guest room. I couldn’t even imagine havin’ enough space to waste a bedroom like that - not that we’d ever had a need for a guest room. I was glad for it, though - it was almost midnight and at least I had a real bed to sleep in.
When we went in to school the next mornin’, everythin’ was different. For one thing, my former best friend, Tommy, was right there to taunt me from the moment we got outta Jamie’s car. I never got to find out if he’d blabbed or not, as my brother reached out and grabbed Jamie’s hand and they walked into the school together, hand in hand. Now the whole school would know I had a gay brother, but I didn’t care.
Word apparently traveled fast, as everyone was starin’ at me in class. I didn’t let that bother me, though. My brother came first, and if my friends didn’t like it, then they weren’t my friends and they could form a line behind someone else.
When it came time for lunch, I went through the line and sat down at my usual table. I was afraid that no one would sit with me, but then Dave Reynolds and Jeremy Kimball sat down.
Before either of them could say anythin’, I said, “Listen, Jer, I’m really sorry ’bout how I treated you last year. I was just bein’ dumb.”
“Apology accepted, Barry,” Jeremy said. “School’s a lot about role playing, and you were just playing the role of a straight, young teenage boy.” I liked thinkin’ about it like that. I’d played a part, but it wasn’t really who I was.
“Anyway,” David said, “after what we heard about the way you stood up for your brother last night, I don’t think anyone’s gonna question your loyalties.”
“Word sure gets around fast,” I said, “but I don’t care about what people think. I love my brother, and if our dad doesn’t want him in the house any more, then I guess he doesn’t want me, either.”
“That’s pretty amazing of you, Barry. Standing up to your father took real guts,” Jeremy said.
“Or stupidity,” I added, gettin’ a round of laughter from David and Jeremy, and a few of their friends, who’d joined us at the table.
“Barry,” David continued the conversation, “you might want to think about joining the GSA. You don’t have to be gay to join… in fact, most of our members aren’t gay. Some have gay friends, or gay brothers, sisters - some even have gay parents. A lot of them, however, joined just because they want to show support, and acceptance, for people of different backgrounds. The GSA is all about diversity, and it’s a place where people can be themselves without worrying about who’s in or out of the closet.”
“Thanks, David,” I responded. “I’ll think about it. Seriously, I will. I could use a few new friends now.”
“I think you’re gonna find out who your true friends are,” David said, “but it may be tough on you at first ’til everyone figures out their own loyalties. In the meantime, just know that you have friends at this table.”
“I’m glad of that and all,” I said, “but I’d like to have at least a few straight friends to scope out the girls with.”
Once a few gigglers had settled down, I heard one of the boys sittin’ with us speak in a kinda serious voice. “I’m straight.” I didn’t know him and it surprised me a bit that he’d be seen sittin’ at a table of gay boys.
“Me too,” said the other boy.
“And I think you’re cute,” said the only girl. It turned out that David and Jeremy were the only gay kids at the table. I was blown away by it. They were gay, and everyone was cool with it, and I felt real good about it all.
By the end of lunch period, I felt indeed I had five new friends. So what if I lost most of the old ones?
The rest of the school day went by in a blur. Since Will and Jamie had football practice after school, I spent the time in the library gettin’ a jump on my homework assignments. The computers at school were a whole lot better than our pathetic old one at home, and they had broadband, so everythin’ went zippity-pow.
When we got to Jamie’s house, Will tried callin’ Mom at home, but the message he got was chilling. She and Dad had both decided they didn’t want him back, and told him to send me to get the rest of his things outta the house by the weekend. We both cried when she said that. I knew that I could never live there again, and it hurt.
Mr. Wilson suggested we wait until Sunday to give my parents a little time to cool down, but it didn’t help. By Sunday, we had everythin’ - all of Will’s worldly possessions, and mine - packed up and sittin’ in the Wilson’s garage. The Wilsons made it clear that I was welcome to stay indefinitely, too, and I was glad. There was no way I was gonna be separated from my brother after all that had happened.
Halloween was on Wednesday, and Will and Jamie were goin’ to a party sponsored by the GSA. They invited me to go along, too, and since I sure as Hell wasn’t goin’ to Karen Johnson’s party after all that had happened, I decided to take them up on the invite, even if it meant some people might think I’m gay, too. In truth, I didn’t care what people thought about me anymore. I knew who I was.
Jamie and Will dressed up as Jack and Jill - Will looked really cool in drag! I dressed up as a pirate - it was lame, I know, but I didn’t have a lot of time to work on a better costume.
I ended up havin’ a great time! All the kids Dave and Jeremy had introduced me to were there, as were a surprisin’ number I knew from my classes. I danced a lot with the girl who’d said I was cute - her name was Carrie, and by the end of the evenin’, I had her number. Wow!
Since it was a school night, the party ended at ten, and we were back at the Wilsons by 10:15. The moment we arrived, I knew somethin’ was wrong. The house was dark except for a single light in the kitchen. There was no way the Wilsons would have gone to bed this early.
Jamie went to open the front door, and it was unlocked. I started to shout that he should close it and we should call the police, but by then it was too late. My dad threw open the door and pointed his 9mm at Jamie’s head.
“All of you, get in here,” Dad shouted at us, “or this faggot’s gonna be a dead faggot.”
We wasted no time in complyin’. What greeted us inside was the stuff of nightmares. Jamie’s parents, and his two younger sisters - the youngest was only ten, were tied up to the kitchen chairs. They were all bound and gagged. There was a smell of urine and I noticed that the younger girl had peed herself.
“I came over to try an’ talk some sense into your parents, Jamie,” Dad said, “but they wouldn’t listen.”
Dad took out a glossy brochure and showed it to us. Turnin’ to Will, he said, “I got this from our church. There’s this special church school they got for mixed up kids like you and Jamie. The can cure you of your perversion. Trouble is, we don’t have enough money to send you there, but Jamie’s folks shore do. I’d hoped I could talk them into sendin’ the both of you, but they don’t think there’s anythin’ wrong with bein’ queer.
“As I see it, you’re all goin’ ta Hell anyway, so there’s nothin’ wrong with sendin’ ya there right now. That is unless you can talk your parents into changin’ their mind,” Dad said as he looked straight at Jamie.
“I’m not goin’ to go someplace to be brainwashed, Dad,” Will said before Jamie could answer.
“It’s not up to you,” Dad said. “I can send you to any school I choose, so long as I can pay for it. That’s where the Wilsons come in. I don’t really care whether or not they send Jamie, too, but you’re gonna go. If they care so much about you as they say they do, then they’ll cough up the dough. Hell, it’ll be a lot cheaper than raisin’ you and sendin’ you ta college. If they have any smarts, they’ll send Jamie, too. After all, it’s your souls, we’re talkin’ about here.”
“You can’t force them to send us there at gunpoint,” my brother said.
“Sure I can,” Dad said. “All they hafta do is wire the tuition money to the school, and I can take care of the rest.”
“But they can’t wire the money tonight,” Will said back. He was diggin’ himself deeper and deeper into a hole - a hole the group of us might not be able to climb out of.
“Then we’ll just hafta wait till mornin’ won’t we?” Dad replied.
“But it won’t hold up, Dad,” Will said. What the fuck was he doin’? Didn’t he realize he was only makin’ things worse? Still, Will continued. “What you’re doin’ here is a crime, Dad. You’ll go to jail, and the Wilsons will get their money back.”
“Shuttup, William!” I shouted at my brother. Someone had to do somethin’, and it looked like that someone was goin’ ta hafta be me. At this rate, we were all dead anyway, so I had damn little to lose.
“Dad’s right,” I continued, “you’re sick and we need to get you and Jamie some help.”
“I thought you were on my side,” Will shouted back at me. He’d clearly flipped his lid and didn’t get what I was tryin’ to do.
“I am on your side,” I replied. “Yours, and God’s.” I answered him, givin’ him a quick wink and hopin’ that he’d understand what I was tryin’ to do.
“Dad,” I continued, “I’m sorry about walkin’ outta the house, but I thought you were gonna hurt William. I shoulda known you’d want to get him help… help for him to fight his perversion.”
“That’s all I ever wanted to do, Barry,” Dad replied, “but Will’s right about one thing… I’m not gonna walk outa here. After tonight, I’ll be goin’ to jail, or Hell.”
“Holdin’ the Wilsons at gunpoint may not have been the smartest thing you’ve ever done, Dad, but you did it in the best interests of William. Surely anyone can see that,” I said. “No jury’s gonna convict you when all you wanted was ta save your son’s soul.”
My father chuckled as he said, “Son, you’ve been watchin’ too much TV. All the jury’s gonna think about is two little girls, bound and gagged, and held at gunpoint.”
“Then why not let them go?” I asked. “If you let them go now, it’ll show that you didn’t mean to hurt them.”
“And they’ll call the police,” he replied. “No, I can’t let them go… not yet. We’re gonna hafta wait it out till mornin’. In the meantime, we need to tie up these boys so they can’t cause trouble.”
Turnin’ to face my brother, he said, “William, tie up Jamie. Tie him up real good, or I’ll kill him right here and now.”
Will had no choice but to comply. Once his boyfriend was bound to another of the kitchen chairs and gagged with a sock in his mouth, reinforced with duct tape, Dad turned back to me and said, “Now you tie up your brother. Same thing goes… if you don’t do it right, I’ll kill him here and now.”
After I finished, I thought about the way all six kitchen chairs were in use. I wasn’t sure what Dad intended to do with me.
“Barry,” he said, “why don’t you go make some coffee. It’s gonna be a long night.”
I went lookin’ through the Wilson ’s cabinets and quickly found some Starbucks coffee in foil bags - there were a few bags of different flavors, and there was one bag of decaf. I grabbed the decaf, bein’ careful to hide the label from Dad, and measured out enough for a pot. I filled the brewer with water and started it up.
I knew the Wilsons kept their pills in a cupboard next to the sink and, fortunately, they also kept their coffee mugs there. As the coffee brewed, I grabbed a couple of mugs, and dropped a few of Ms. Wilson’s sleepin’ pills in the bottom of one as I made sure Dad wasn’t lookin’. I only hoped the coffee wouldn’t taste funny because of them, but then realized he wouldn’t know if it did. Starbucks was a luxury we couldn’t afford.
I fixed Dad’s coffee the way he liked it, makin’ sure the sleepin’ pills dissolved completely, and then fixed some with lotsa cream and sugar for me. It tasted great!
“Since when do you drink coffee?” Dad asked me as I brought him his mug.
“Since tonight,” I answered. A lot of the kids go out for coffee, but I couldn’t afford it. I thought now would be a good time to try it.”
“Well don’t you get used to this fancy stuff,” he said. “All we can afford at home is Folgers.”
I nodded my agreement as I sipped my coffee.
The wait was interminable. I watched my father tryin’ to stay awake, only to have his head keep noddin’ in its relentless loss to the war with gravity.
Finally, after his head had been down for a good five minutes and his gun hand was hangin’ at his side, I got the courage to go up to him. I gently shook his shoulder to try to wake him. If he woke up, I could always say I was tryin’ to help him. When he didn’t respond to gently shakin’, I shook him a bit more vigorously. He seemed to stir, scarin’ the shit outta me, but nodded right off.
I waited another five minutes, and then tried to wake him up again. This time he didn’t stir with even vigorous shakin’. Very slowly and carefully, I pried his fingers loose from his gun and removed the gun from his hand. Once I had it firmly in my own hands, I put the safety on and put the gun down on the counter. I grabbed the phone and dialed 911, and told the operator what was happenin’. Only then did I realize that William and the Wilsons had been watchin’ me the whole time.
First, I went to Jamie’s little sister and untied her, then Mrs. Wilson, who soon comforted her. Then I undid Mr. Wilson’s hands and together we freed the others from their ropes. The police were there before we even thought of tyin’ up my father.
A hero, the papers called me, but I sure didn’t feel like one. Dad was in jail and, sadly, our Mom was dead - he’d apparently shot her before he left for the Wilsons. The days that followed were unbelievably hectic as we were all thoroughly checked over and interrogated by the police. The good news, if it could be called that, was that Dad hung himself in his cell, sparin’ us the ordeal of a trial.
I had mixed feelings about my parents bein’ dead. I felt sorry for Mom, but after what happened, I realized I didn’t love Dad, if I ever fully did. I’m sure he loved me, but there was just too much hatred in his mind and flowin’ through his veins.
The house and my parent’s possessions weren’t worth shit, and my parents didn’t have any life insurance, but what little there was would certainly help with our college expenses. The Wilsons were really terrific about everythin’. They got an emergency foster license and made it clear they intended to adopt both Will and me.
At first, CPS wasn’t crazy about Will sharin’ a room with his boyfriend - they felt he should have his own room - but then the Wilsons suggested puttin’ an extra bed in my room so Will and I could share. CPS was fine with that - apparently it was OK to share a room with a brother, but not a boyfriend. I guess I could understand that, but I seriously doubted the extra bed in my room would be gettin’ much use.
In the end, I did miss my parents, but what I gained from my brother more than made up for it. We became closer than I could have ever imagined - we were best friends, really - best friends who loved each other as only brothers could. I also became very close to Jamie. He was a really great guy and he became every bit another older brother to me. In a sense, I guess he really was my brother-in-law.
Tommy - well, he looked sad every time I caught his eye, but we never spoke again.
This is the fifth in a series of stories known collectively as Naptown Tales. The series of stories can be found on my GayAuthors Page and on the Naptown Tales Page at Awesome Dude. Slightly modified versions of some of these stories that are suitable for younger teens can also be found on the Altimexis Page at Codey’s World. Please see the Introduction for important background on the series.
DISCLAIMER: This is a fictional account involving gay teenage boys. There are references to gay sex and mild descriptions of sexual acts, and anyone who is uncomfortable with this should obviously not be reading it. All characters are fictional and any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. Although the story takes place in actual locations and establishments, the author takes full responsibility for all events described and these are not in any way meant to reflect the activities of real individuals nor corporate policies. The reference to a judicial ruling on a constitutional gay marriage ban is strictly hypothetical in nature and does not reflect constitutional law in any particular state. The author retains full copyright of this story, and of stories based on these characters.