Dr. Young, taking his time as he carefully located each student’s name on the class roster, filled out the requisite paper work, and crossed the name from his list, finally finished with those students who were dropping the course, sorted through his paper work, and announced, “I think I’m ready to go. When I call your name, please come forward and pick up one of the syllabuses and a course outline on the small table near the lectern. This’ll give me the opportunity to see you and put a face to the name. After a couple of weeks, I should be able to take role without reading the class roster each time.”
There would be no doubt, once I waltzed my pert little buns down the aisle to pick up the class materials, he most certainly would “put a name with a face” and my sweet, little ass would be grass! The “b’s” are not that far from the “a’s” so I’ll be one of the first called. I wonder what his reaction will be when he recognizes me? I know what mine is already, pure panic, unless, just unless, he’s too flustered with his first teaching job here to pay much attention. Ha! That’s about as likely as a snowball freezing in hell!
Well, it made no difference at this point in time; I’d been through rougher times in my life and I survived so far, so what’s another? This class, this one essential class, was a casualty of the events of my freshman year; the year everything went to hell in a hand basket, so to speak! Once I dropped it, I forgot to re-enroll and take it; absolute stupidity on my part and now I have to pay the price. My freshman year was the year I became a part-time student, full-time nurse, and surrogate momma and daddy to Will.
Momma was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor after she experienced a seizure while visiting with her best friend across the street, Bonnie Fuller. They were drinking coffee and Momma suddenly announced to Mrs. Fuller she felt strange and lapsed into a petite mal type seizure. Mrs. Fuller, a retired nurse, persuaded her to visit a doctor and that visit sent her to the university cancer center in Madison. After several trips to the cancer center, she decided she wanted to live out her days at home, under hospice care or with Bonnie caring for her. Bonnie, widowed, raised her family before Will and I came along, was now all alone and volunteered to help Momma and us. We didn’t have much wealth, some disability for Momma now that she was sick, but Daddy was on the county in the nursing home so all of his social security and Medicare went to them, and Will lost his SSI (supplemental social security) after the revenue started coming from the settlement the city made with Momma for all of the shit they’d put him through, but we didn’t have a great deal extra. I quit my part-time job in order to be at home where I felt I was needed most.
Intending to drop out of the university, I met with Dr. Henderson, assigned to be my advisor when I enrolled at the first of the year, to obtain the proper paperwork, but he convinced me not to drop completely, but become a part-time student and carry a couple of classes. I really liked Dr. Henderson and felt I could talk to him about anything. At first he was distressed when he discovered my intentions to drop out completely and suggested I become a part-time student, encouraging me to carry more hours than the two classes I finally decided on, in order to obtain my degree sooner. When I complained I might not have enough money to do much more, given our home situation and the responsibility looming in my future, he looked at me and said, “Jay, if you ever need money to live and go to school, let me know. I think I can find work for you. I know the responsibility you feel toward your brother and I find that most commendable; love and dedication such as that needs to be rewarded.”
I tucked his words of encouragement and promise of assistance in finding possible employment away for future reference, vowing to do my best on my own until then. The two days per week I was in class, Bonnie stayed with Momma and made certain Will was safely off of the bus after school. Bless her soul, she’d fix meals for us, making enough for a couple of days, and put the extras in the freezer so I could just thaw and heat them for Will and me to have for supper. Momma’s meals were prepared by Bonnie in advance, so when Will and I finished, I would warm hers and feed her. Most of her food was now mashed or pureed, but she was eating less and sleeping more. Will ate lunch at school, so all I had to fuss about was breakfast and supper. Will started fixing his own cereal, when he wanted it, but wasn’t ready to prepare anything on the stove yet. Given some time working with me at the stove, I was certain he’d be able to do that and more.
Mrs. Fuller even came over when I was home and began teaching me how to cook, do the laundry, clean the house, and all of those things Momma did when she was well. Momma was growing weaker and I think Mrs. Fuller wanted me to be prepared to make a life for Will and me as best I could. I was a steady and patient learner, since I was all too aware of what lay ahead for the two of us.
One day, when I arrived home from class, I found Carl Scheller visiting with Momma and Bonnie. She motioned me to her bedside, explaining, “Jay, the doctors tell me I’ll soon lose the ability to converse and function so I need to be assured you know what to do and Will is taken care of.”
I thought I’d been rather strong, until that point in time. I just couldn’t contain my sadness any longer and began to weep. Momma reached up, pulled me to her, and held my head against her breast as I sobbed, crying not only for her pain, her eventual departure from our lives and our loss, but for Will; poor innocent, loving, trusting Will! I just didn’t know how I was going to be able to provide for him and give him the life and love he needed to survive in a sometimes hostile, hateful world. I didn’t know if I was strong enough and I blubbered all of my doubts out to Momma while laying my head on her breast!
Momma, soothing my distress, wiped my tears with a handkerchief and whispered, “Jay, remember, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Believe me, from my own experience, I know.”
Carl produced all kinds of paper work and began going through the massive amount of information I needed to know. The house was all paid for and in Momma’s name. She purchased it before she and Daddy were married. As a result, the state couldn’t come back on the estate and capture it to recoup Daddy’s care costs. In fact, unbeknownst to me, shortly after our encounter with the social services people, she had Carl place me on the deed, making me an equal shares owner and sole owner after her death. He went through the terms of the trust he established with the settlement money for Will and, although not great, would certainly help with his care, education, therapy and training. Momma had a couple of small life insurance policies which would help with burial costs, but not much more.
The greatest surprise were the documents, all signed by Judge Nelson, Carl produced, naming me as guardian and granting me full custody of William Andrew Boulton. “It’s iron-clad, Jay,” explained Carl. “Judge Nelson made certain of that. No one will dare take Will away from you.” I knew, at the time of the problem with social services, Momma requested Mr. Scheller name me as Will’s guardian in her absence, but I didn’t realize he’d gotten a court order and document that sealed it up tight. That must’ve been some favor Judge Nelson owed Momma.
“Jay, Bonnie Fuller is my best friend,” Momma finally said, “Her family is all grown and her husband, Le Roy, has been gone for some time. Lean on her, she’ll be the rock you need to anchor yourself too when things get rough. We’ve know each other long before you came into my life and I trust her with my family. She’ll be the one to help me through my last days and the one to help you through your first days without me.”
Momma spent much of her waking time those last few weeks explaining to Will what was happening to her and what he should expect. Will understood death; he’d seen dead birds and rabbits and other creatures, but leaping from them to Momma was a more difficult concept for him to grasp. Watching her deteriorate and grow weaker helped him, though; he could see the end coming and he came to realize what death was. In Will’s eyes, death did not come riding a white horse; no, death came as a thief in the night, stealing into our lives, and wrenching someone he loved from him! No one tried to mislead him, attempting to make him think what was happening was not real. It was real and he was part of it and what he had left would be the memories of a very loving mother to help him through the vagaries of life!
The last couple of days of Momma’s life, Bonnie spent night and day beside her bed. The night she died, Will went in, as he always did, gave her a kiss goodnight and told her how much he loved her, walked into my room, sat on the bed, and said stoically, “Jay, I don’t think Momma is going to smile anymore after I sleep.” Without another word, he rose, kissed me goodnight, and went to his own room.
Close to dawn, Bonnie came to get me saying, “Jay, it won’t be long now. Why don’t you wake Will and say your goodbyes.”
Will was already awake, sitting on his bed, his eyes full of tears, arms outstretched for me to pick him up. He’d grown so much, it was most difficult but somehow I managed; a nineteen year old trying to carry his nine year old brother. It’s a good thing Will was light of weight and not very tall. I hustled us both to Momma’s room. She was lying on her back, arms folded across her breasts, breathing slowly in and out. I leaned over, Will still in my arms, kissed her forehead and said, “Goodbye, Momma. I love you so.”
Will leaned over in my arms, released his grip on me, hugged her as best he could and said, “Me too, Momma, but can’t you stay just a little longer?”
Leaving him in that position for just a moment longer, I pulled him up, asking, “Do you think Momma wants to be always in pain and hurting?” He waggled his head side to side, tears streaming down his cheeks, soaking into his “Pooh Bear” pajamas.
“Then we have to let her go, don’t we?”
He nodded his head up and down. It wouldn’t make it any easier for him, but it was a step in the right direction. Will sat on my lap next to Momma’s bed until her breaths came farther and farther apart and finally stopped altogether. Will looked at her, scrutinized the now still form of our mother, turned to face me, secured my face in his hands, one on each cheek, stared into my eyes, and said sadly, “We’re all alone now, aren’t we Jay?” I could but nod, clutch him tighter to me, trying to give him strength and me comfort.
The funeral service was simple yet meaningful. The casket was closed, as she requested, insisting Will and I didn’t need to see a corpse when we had lived with the real thing. Momma had a prepaid funeral so there were very little additional expenses for me to contend with. The funeral home director conducted the service for us, since we really didn’t belong to any particular church. Friends of Mommas stood and spoke of her life, dedication to her husband, and love of her children. Judge Nelson, although not scheduled to speak, rose from the gathering to say simply, “Anna Jacobsen Boulton came to the rescue of many people in her short life and for that I will be personally, eternally grateful.”
People were very kind and helpful; all except for one cousin of Daddy’s who announced quite loudly at the luncheon, “I don’t think it’s right that faggot is allowed to care for his retarded brother. Hard to say what he’ll do to him.”
Luckily, Carl and Bonnie got to him before I did or I would’ve served his head on a plate to the nearest flock of corbies gathered in the trees.
Later, when we were alone, Will crawled up on my lap and asked, “What’s a faggot, Jay?”
I looked at him and replied, “It’s a bad name some people call boys who like boys instead of girls.”
“Oh,” he said with a quick smile, “like you do, Jay. That’s not a very nice name to call you, is it?” I’d never discussed my homosexuality with Will and even avoided giving any hints of it while with him, but Will would often surprise me with what he observed and knew.
The first couple of weeks after Momma’s death were the roughest for Will. He’d wake up in the middle of the night crying, calling for her, and I’d take him to bed with me. He’d cuddle up to me, settle down, and sleep the rest of the night. It was just as difficult for me to adjust to her loss, but I could understand it a bit better than Will. I had to remain strong for him so, suppressing my emotions. I’d sooth him and comfort him, giving him the love he returned to me by his smile and presence. Bonnie was there for us when we needed her and would meet Will when he got off of the bus on the days I went to class. Will was comfortable with that and really adapted to it better than me. It was one problem solved for me, but didn’t really solve my long-term problems; house payments, taxes, household expenses, and my education.
Dr. Young called for John Bender, getting closer and closer to me. Bender paraded to the front, messed around picking up the paper work, muttered some incoherent question to Dr. Young, and lollygagged his way back to his seat. After which seemed forever, Dr. Young finally reached my name and called, “Jason Le Roy Boulton.” I rose from my seat and started walking toward the front, not in a rush, but casually, hoping to gather my materials and remain relatively obscure. Dr. Young looked up as I neared the lectern and his eyes widened as he recognized not Jason Le Roy Boulton, the erstwhile student enrolled in his “Money and Banking” class, but Lee Williams, male courtesan, provocateur of sensual and erotic experiences for gentleman of discretion, masseuse par excellence’, and refined in the cultural arts, walking toward him; the man he’d fucked and who fucked him several times three nights before in a Milwaukee motel.
To be continued.
Thank you for reading “Where there’s Will, There’s a Way” Chapter Four - “Dare to do your duty always” (C. Simmons)
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or locales is entirely coincidental or used in a fictional content.
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