Then and Now
 

Chapter Nine


 

The Life and Thoughts of Jeffrey Tenbrook

Volume Four
 

Sunday 4 February 1973 

 

            Life is beautiful and God is smiling down upon me. I have had the most wonderful weekend of my life and I could not be happier. Even my brotherís whining as I watched the fourth episode of Tom Brownís Schooldays couldnít ruin the most incredible two days of my life.

            I love Timothy Lawrence and he loves me.

            Last night, Timís mother served pot roast and mashed potatoes and it was wonderful. His mother is the kindest and friendliest woman on earth. His father is warm and encouraging and never once made me feel uncomfortable or anything other than welcome in their home. Even his sister was nice. Itís like the perfect family.

            Their home is beautiful, with a fireplace in the den and we all sat around it watching Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart and eating popcorn until Tim and I went upstairs, where we played chess in his room and grinned at each other and laughed at each otherís jokes and had just the most fun.

            At one point, as Tim was setting up the board for another game, I had stood up and was watching the snow fall in his backyard. The happiness and the joy of knowing I had found a friend was too much for me and I started crying. I was so embarrassed, but Tim stood and came over to me. He started crying, too, as I explained why I was shedding tears. He put his arms around me and said we will be friends forever and that we will never have secrets from each other and that we will share everything and that I can trust him more than anyone on earth.

            I was looking into his eyes and I saw the truth and sincerity of his words reflected in their watery blueness.

            And, then, it happened. I donít know how it started, whether he moved first or me or if we both did it together. But, we kissed. Lightly at first, his lips brushing against mine, his breath sweet and intoxicating as our lips united. Then it grew until I was clutching him tightly and he me. I brushed my fingers through his hair and told him he was the most beautiful boy in the world. He told me I was the handsomest young man he had ever known.

            We heard steps outside and quickly sat down at the card table before his father peeked in to tell us it was they were turning in and not to stay up too late. When he was gone, Tim smiled and went to his bed. I could see the arousal in his pants as he lay down and held his arms out to me. I lay beside him, trembling with fear and love, and we kissed for hours.

            At some point, we stood and turned off the light. I moved the cot that they had set up for me over and we removed each others clothes. I grasped him and he grasped me and we held each other, standing there naked, for hours, it seemed, pleasuring each other until we crawled into his bed and clung to each other. We hugged and held each other tightly until the heavens opened up and our love for each other burst forth.

            Exhausted, we held each other and fell asleep.

            I was awakened twice to find Tim fondling me and bringing me to heaven again. We grinned at each other both times and the love was too beautiful for humans to grasp.

            This morning, we went to church and never was there a more beautiful boy than Tim Lawrence. I had to be there early because I am an acolyte, and I introduced him to the Head Acolyte. Tim wants to join us.  Heíll look so beautiful in his white robes, his angelic face and hair and eyes perfectly complimenting them.

            When I took communion, I silently thanked the Lord for giving me Timothy Lawrence. And, when I go to bed tonight, I will touch myself and dream of my sweet Tim and as Heaven opens for me and the light of our loves shines at the moment of climax, I will thank the Lord again, for what exists between Tim and me is too beautiful to be wrong, too perfect to be a sin.

            I have been blessed.

 

Sunday 6 May 1973 

 

            Tim was Crucifer for the first time this morning at church. It was the first time that he had led the procession and he was proud and beautiful. I was the right taper and it was all I could do to keep my eyes to the front and maintain a devout and respectful demeanor. He assisted Father Borden at the altar during communion and did so perfectly.

            After church, Father came up to us in Great Hall and said that he thought our friendship was the most beautiful he had ever seen. His eyes were moist and it moved Tim and me.

            This afternoon, after changing, we played Frisbee at the Peace Garden for a  while and had a blast. We wrestled in the grass at one point and almost embarrassed ourselves.  Timís sister took a Polaroid of us in front of our favorite dogwood. I will sleep with the picture under my pillow forever.

 

Volume Five

Sunday 8 July 1973 

 

            Disaster. I want to kill myself. If it werenít for the thought of what it would do to Tim, I would.

            My horrible, evil monster of a step-father has read my journal. While I was over at Timís this weekend, the monster pawed through my things and found my journals. He has read them all, every word. He knows every intimate thought I have entered, all the pain, the anger, the love, the joy. Everything. He knows I hate him and wish him dead. He knows the humiliation I experience every day at school. He knows my dreams and fears. And, worst of all, he knows of my love for Timothy Lawrence.

            He assures me it is over. He promises me I will never make love with Tim every again. He swears he is putting an end to it. He says he will not tolerate a ďfruit, a ďpervertĒ, a ďqueerĒ in his house.

            My chest is about to burst with anxiety. What will I do? How can I protect Tim from his wrath? How can I save our life together?

 

Volume Six

Saturday 26 October 1974 

 

            This is the first entry I have been able to make in my journal in more than a year, since that horrible, hellish Sunday night in July of last year. I have been unable to bring myself to write a thing. Indeed, I have been unable to bring myself to make any effort to do anything since that awful, dreadful week when God turned his back on me allowed the beauty of the world to die.

            Today is my sixteenth birthday. Tonight, we had a birthday cake after dinner and my family, at my stepfatherís urging Iím sure, gave me a weight set. Mom says that working out will help me use up all the negative energy inside me and my stepfather says Iíll feel more like a man after a good workout. I can assure them that it will sit, unused and unopened, in my closet until Hell freezes over.

            I took the bus, this morning, to Maple Crest Cemetery and spent the day with Tim. It was so beautiful. Fall was always Timís favorite season and the maple trees were spectacular. Their bright reds and oranges were at their peak. I placed a Peace rose on his grave. It was his favorite, a cream-colored blossom with just a hint of pink and a graceful fragrance that was not too strong, subtle. I read Whitman to him, Leaves of Grass, and cried.

            I wish I still believed in God. I wish I still believed in heaven and an afterlife. I would like to think that Tim was with me and crying on my shoulder, assuring me that all was right with the world.

            I canít believe in a God who would allow the Holocaust, who would sit by and permit cancer and famine and misery, who would allow someone as pure and innocent as Timothy Lawrence to feel the despair and hopelessness that drove him to his decision. I canít believe in a God that would let my step-father live a happy and prosperous life after exposing our love to Timothyís parents and bringing our worlds to an end, who would let my stepfather gloat in the consequences of his actions and feel justified in what he had done.

            I canít help but think it should have been me instead of Tim.

            I try to tell myself that at least he isnít any more feeling the pain, the rejection, the desperation, the rejection, the loss that he was feeling in those dreadful days after my stepfather ďexposed our perversion.Ē

            If only I could have seen him one last time, if only I could have gazed into his eyes before he took the knife into his hand. We could have run away. We could have gone to Canada or California or someplace that wasnít motivated by ďChristianĒ hatred.

           

Volume Seven

Thursday 24 April 1975 

 

When Jennifer and Eric dropped me off after play practice tonight, I found my bastard stepfather standing in my room, tearing sheets of paper in to tiny pieces and depositing them into a pile on the floor of my room. It was my novel. He had a very self-righteous and self-satisfied look on his life as he ripped my heart from my chest for the second time. First, he murders Tim. Then, he murders my final dream, the last dream left to me.

He declared that as long as I live under his roof, (the roof financed, by the way, by my fatherís life insurance and for which the son-of-a-bitch stepfather never had to pay a penny), he will not allow me to write a gay love story and he sure as hell wonít allow it to be published. He must have thought it was good if there was a threat in his mind that it might be published. There it was, the novel into which I had poured my heart and soul, (clichť, I know, but true), the novel into which I poured all the love left in my after I lost Tim, the novel into which I poured the last of Jeff Tenbrook. Thereís nothing left of me. Itís all gone.

 

Wednesday 7 May 1975

             Well, I did it. I finally broke the umbilical. Iíve done what Tim and I should have done two years ago. I dropped out of school and left home. I got on a bus and went to Hatfield. Iíve rented a room and gotten a job at a local pizza place as a busboy, dishwasher, and relief cook. Itís a hellish job, but itís $1.45 an hour and it will pay the rent.

            My dream of attending a real university, something respected and challenging, is dead, but then so many of my dreams have been slaughtered, whatís one more. Iíll get my GED and pray that since I had a 3.9 GPA before I left that I can at least get into XXXXX State University. I know I can get decent scores on the SAT and ACT. Maybe I can salvage something of my academic career and my life.

 

Tuesday 20 May 1975

             I had last night off from work and spent it strolling around campus and relaxing. Then I discovered something. The school year ended here a couple of weeks ago, but there are still plenty of people on campus and there seemed to be a lot of men strolling around the area between the Union and the Library. And, then, I realized what was happening! I couldnít believe that I had been so incredibly blind until now.

            As I was sitting on a bench watching the interesting ballet unfolding before me, this really attractive guy, maybe twenty or twenty-one, with a navy Izod and perfect jeans stopped and sat next to me. He figured out I was gay and explained that this is the main ďcruise.Ē He also told me there is a ďtearoomĒ in the library on the third floor, a bathroom where people exchange oral sex. Thereís also one on the first floor of the Union beside the ROTC office, (how ironic).  There seems to be a whole world out there that I have been totally unaware of. I am amazed.

            His name is Todd. Heís in the Beta house and staying over for the summer. He took me back to his room and we smoked marijuana. Itís the first time Iíve done so and it was amazing. We listened to Deep Purple on his headphones and it was like the music was in my head. Then he removed the headphones and kissed me.

            I spent the night and we had sex all night. He showed me things I had never even thought of, things I never imagined were possible, and it was wonderful. It was incredible. It was amazing. He told me that it was cool that I was seventeen and that I had never it before. I told him that I never said I hadnít done it before. All that Tim and I had done, (all? As if that wasnít enough), was kiss and hold and stroke and writhe against each other).

            Somehow, though, as exciting as what we did was, I donít think it would have been appropriate for Tim and I to have done the things I did with Todd. They seemed dirty and nasty and appealed to my dark, my wicked side, as I used to say. With Tim, it was beautiful and I wouldnít have wanted to ruin that.

 

Friday 23 May 1975

             Toddís a shallow and superficial bastard. I was busing tables at work tonight and he came in with a couple of guys I guess were fraternity brothers of his. He pretended not to know me and I understood. He didnít want them to know that he was gay. But, after work, about two-thirty, I walked through campus on my way home and stopped to cruise the Union and Library. Todd was there and he still pretended not to know who I was. He looked me right in the eye and walked right past me. I couldnít believe it. What a jerk! I guess he got his virgin and now doesnít need me anymore.

            It didnít matter. This older guy took me behind the evergreen bushes beside the Bus Ad building and sucked me. It was pretty good, but Todd was better, though it could have been the marijuana. I think I may need to get some of that stuff. Iíll bet masturbation is great on it!

 

Thursday 4 June 1975

             I was fired tonight. I showed up stoned and the bastard fired me. Fuck it. Who cares. I have enough saved up to last a while. Iíll take a few days off and get high and cruise and then get another job. Jobs are a dime a dozen here. Itís a college town. Iím gonna smoke another bowl and go out again and cruise. Man, it is so easy to find it on campus.

 
Note: Now I know what happened to my wonderful, sensitive, intelligent father when he was a teenager. I know how his spirit was destroyed and how the most intelligent man I have ever known came to spend the next twenty-five years waiting tables and taking customer service calls. Now, all I need is to confirm the answer to the final questions: why did he leave when I was eleven and why didnít he even say good-by to me?



 

 

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