“Now, Carol, we said we wouldn’t say anything about that,” Mr. Wilson said, trying to calm his wife.
“I said we’ll still love our son,” she barked. “I never said anything about that boy.”
“Mum, Adam didn’t turn Scott gay. Scott was gay well before we learnt about Adam,” Chris said.
She spun around to him. “How do you know?”
“Why don’t we all go inside and talk about it there?” Dad suggested, gently taking Mrs. Wilson’s arm and guiding her towards the house.
“Yes, we can sit down and talk about this calmly. It sounds like Scott and Chris have a lot to fill you in on,” Mum added.
I wasn’t sure what to say, so I just stood there, dumbstruck at Mrs. Wilson’s rage against Adam. I glanced over at him and started to worry. He displayed his now familiar steely determination by blatantly taking Scott’s hand before heading back to the house. That would just inflame Mrs. Wilson.
Scott made a half-hearted attempt to pull his hand away, but Adam didn’t let him. The two walked back to the house together, with Scott’s parents following.
“Scott...” It sounded like Mrs. Wilson was about to say something hateful, but her husband interrupted her.
“Let’s wait until we’re inside,” he said quietly, putting a hand on her shoulder.
Chris and my parents exchanged worried looks. The issue of Adam was going to be critical in the upcoming discussion.
Randy and I brought up the rear in the procession towards the house.
“Any ideas on what we can do?” Randy whispered to me as we walked along.
“None,” I replied curtly.
It was going to be up to Chris and Scott, and I hoped Adam wouldn’t make things worse by making some sort of stupid statement about not giving up his boyfriend. His belligerent stance in front of Scott’s parents was not a good sign.
I stopped in my tracks as I suddenly guessed at what was going through Adam’s head. He’d come so far since he’d been kicked out of home that I’d forgotten how recently that was. Scott had come out to him less than a week after he’d lost his family. Adam was afraid he was going to lose Scott, too, and he was trying to show that he wasn’t willing to let that happen.
“What is it?” Randy asked me as he stopped, too.
“Nothing,” I said. I didn’t see how sharing my thoughts with Randy would help, and I might have been wrong, anyway.
Once inside the house, Mum and Dad took everyone to the lounge room, while Randy put the kettle on. I hesitated for a moment before following the others.
The Wilsons were just seating themselves on the couch when I arrived. Mum and Dad had taken the two good chairs, while Adam, Scott and Chris were sitting in the extra chairs we’d brought in earlier. Adam and Scott were still hold hands, despite Mrs. Wilson’s disapproving glare.
“What’s he doing here?” Mrs. Wilson demanded, pointing at Adam. “This is a family matter, and I don’t want him in the room.”
“He’s here for me,” Scott shot back. “I want him with me, and what we talk about is going to affect him, too.”
Before Mrs. Wilson could explode, her husband reached over and put a hand on her arm.
“Just let it go,” he said gently. “It’s not that important.”
She snapped her mouth closed and scowled angrily.
“Would you like a cup of tea or coffee?” I asked Scott’s parents as politely as I could. I didn’t want to aggravate matters by being rude.
“We’ll both have tea, thanks,” Mr. Wilson replied, after glancing at his wife. She didn’t seem to notice me.
I hesitated. Chris had told me what they normally drink, but I wasn’t confident enough to just assume that was what they’d be having. Mr. Wilson guessed my dilemma.
“I’ll have black with one. My wife will have white, no sugar.”
“Black with one sugar. White with none,” I repeated, before turning to my parents.
“White tea, no sugar,” Mum said. The fact that she didn’t smile was telling, at least to me.
“Same here,” Dad added. I was a little surprised. I’d been expecting him to have coffee.
I turned to the others.
“White coffee with two sugars,” Chris quietly told me, before returning his attention to his parents. He was frowning slightly and gnawing at his lower lip.
“White coffee,” Scott said. He seemed preoccupied, and he was squeezing Adam’s hand.
“Tea, please,” Adam said, after a glance at my parents. “White, no sugar.”
Again, I was surprised. Adam normally drinks coffee.
As I left the room, I heard Mum start the conversation.
“Chris, why don’t you tell us what you know?”
I didn’t stick around to hear what he would say. I just hoped it would help.
Randy looked up as I joined him in the kitchen.
“Chris and Scott are having coffee, Chris with two sugars. Their dad is having black tea with one and everyone else is having white tea.”
I looked down at the cups Randy had out. There weren’t enough good teacups, so I headed to the dresser to get more.
“How’s it going?” Randy asked me, as he spooned instant coffee into two mugs. We’d asked Mum earlier if we should make a pot, and she’d said to do that only if the Wilsons wanted coffee. For everyone else, instant would be okay.
“Tense, but I’m hoping Chris can explain things to his mum.”
Randy nodded. “I hope she doesn’t end up blaming Adam.”
“Yeah,” I sighed, as I continued getting things ready. The early signs were that she was heading in that direction.
Once we had the drink orders organised and everything onto a pair of trays, Randy and I looked at each other for support. I was glad the pink in Randy’s hair had faded, as that colour could’ve been another thing to upset Mrs. Wilson. Randy raised both hands to show his crossed fingers, and then reached down to pick up a tray. I picked up the other, and we walked carefully to the lounge room.
“... and I had to keep encouraging Scott to tell Adam,” Chris was saying as we entered.
Everyone looked up as our entrance interrupted their discussion.
“Thanks, dears,” Mum said gently. She gave us a small smile.
I gave Scott’s parents their drinks first, starting with Mrs. Wilson. Her lips were pursed as she stared across at where Adam and Scott were sitting. She looked up at me and gave me a nod of appreciation when she accepted her tea, but didn’t say anything. Mr. Wilson softly thanked me but quickly turned his attention back to his two sons and Adam.
After placing a plate of cakes and slices next to the Wilsons, and handing Mum and Dad their drinks, I picked up the tray, ready to leave. Randy was waiting for me by the door.
“As I was saying, Scott was scared to say anything. I told him that I liked Adam and I kept pushing Scott to tell him about himself. After a few days, he finally did.”
“So, you were helping your brother to meet up with this...this...” Mrs. Wilson was struggling to find an appropriate word to describe Adam.
“My boyfriend?” Scott suggested. There was a touch of defiance in the way he said it, though his tone was civil.
“...homosexual,” Mrs Wilson eventually said. Her tone made it clear how unpleasant she found the word.
“I’m a homosexual, too, Mum,” Scott stated firmly, though politely, as I walked over to stand beside Randy. “I’ve known that for years.”
“But you weren’t like this, before. You’ve changed,” she said, seeming to try to contain her emotions.
“You don’t understand! Yes, I’ve changed. For the first time in over two years, I’m happy, and that’s because of Adam. I’m no longer alone. I want him. I need him, and I’m not giving him up.”
During the silence that followed Scott’s outburst, Randy and I slipped out of the room. A final glance back showed Mrs. Wilson looking like she was about to explode. She obviously wasn’t happy with what Scott had just said.
I was very tempted to stay and eavesdrop, but I headed back along the hallway. I didn’t want to give Mrs. Wilson any excuses for getting more upset. I hadn’t heard Mr. Wilson say much, so I could only hope he was listening with an open mind.
“It doesn’t sound too good,” Randy remarked, once we were back in the kitchen.
“No, it doesn’t, but it sounds like Scott’s not going to let her get away with blaming Adam.”
Randy looked thoughtful.
“Come with me,” he said suddenly, heading towards the study.
I followed, curious as to what he was planning. When he sat down at the computer and logged on, I made a guess.
“You’re going to print something off for Scott’s mum?”
“Yep. There’s a site I know of with information for parents. I should’ve thought of this earlier and had some stuff ready, but we thought it was all going to be okay.”
Randy was surfing through web sites.
“Ah ha! Here it is!”
I looked over his shoulder and saw lots of questions and answers. Reading a few of them showed me that it would’ve been a good site for me to have read earlier. I mightn’t have gone off the deep end as much as I did if I’d known those sorts of things when Adam came out.
“How many copies should I print off?”
I thought for a moment.
“Five. One each for Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, one for Chris, one for Scott and Adam, and one for Mum and Dad. That way, everyone will know what they are talking about.”
I collected the copies as they printed, and stapled them together. Once we had the five copies ready, Randy was going to head straight to the lounge room, but I stopped him.
“They’ll have finished their drinks. Let’s get the trays so we can take the cups away. We can ask them if they want any more at the same time.”
Randy nodded. “We can give them the printouts then, too.”
“I don’t think so,” I said slowly, as I worked furiously through the options. “Just give them to Dad without comment. He can hand them out, if he thinks it’s okay.”
“Good idea. We don’t know what they’ve been talking about, and we don’t want to jump in and make things worse.”
I handed him the printouts after he’d picked up his tray. When he looked quizzically at me, I just said, “They were your idea. You should get the credit for giving them to Dad.”
We headed down to the lounge room and hesitated outside, listening to see if we would be interrupting at an inappropriate time.
“…we’ve done wrong? Haven’t we provided you with a good home to grow up in?”
It sounded like Mrs. Wilson had left her belligerent attitude behind and was now confused and upset. Randy looked at me and I nodded my head. I knocked on the door to alert them that we were coming in.
When there was no response, I pushed the door open. The first thing I saw was Mrs. Wilson dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief. She was visibly distressed. Her husband was awkwardly patting her other hand. A glance around showed that Chris was looking worried, and that Scott seemed to be the verge of losing it. I wondered if Scott was about to start screaming abuse, or maybe just break down on the spot. Adam was holding Scott’s hand tightly in both of his and keeping his focus on his boyfriend. He barely looked up as we walked in.
While Randy went up to Dad, I stepped forward to grab everyone’s attention.
“Would anyone like another drink?” I asked, while scanning the plates of food to see if they needed to be topped up. The plate near Chris was half empty, but most of the rest didn’t look touched. I wondered whether that was a good sign or a bad sign. It could have meant that either they had been too busy talking or they were too upset and distraught to eat.
Mrs. Wilson had barely tasted her drink, but she asked for another one. Mr. Wilson accepted the offer, as did Mum, but everyone else turned me down. When I turned to Dad, I noticed he was busy scanning the printouts that Randy had slipped to him while everyone’s attention was on me.
Randy and I returned to the kitchen and put the kettle back on.
“Any idea on how it’s going?” Randy asked me.
I shrugged. There really wasn’t anything to say.
The kettle had just boiled when we heard a polite cough from behind us. We turned to see an apologetic-looking Mr. Wilson standing nearby.
“Excuse me, but where’s the toilet?”
Randy pointed him in the right direction. I was about to make the tea, but decided to wait until Mr. Wilson returned. There was no point in taking it in before he went back to the lounge room.
When he did return, he stopped and looked at us. He glanced down the hallway towards where the others were, and then turned his attention back to Randy and me.
“Umm, can I ask you boys a question?”
“Sure,” I replied while Randy nodded.
“You’re living with Adam. Aren’t you…uh…afraid he might…”
His voice drifted off as he struggled to say what he meant.
“He might what?” Randy asked with an edge to his voice. He was playing games. I knew he knew what Scott’s dad was talking about.
“Never mind,” Mr. Wilson quickly replied, looking embarrassed as he turned away. “I shouldn’t have asked.”
“Yeah, I was, but not anymore,” I replied. On that subject, I thought I understood things better than Randy.
Scott’s dad turned back to stare at me.
“Oh?” he said, raising an eyebrow.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Randy scowl at me, but he stayed quiet.
“When I first found out about Adam, I remembered some of the stories and jokes I’d heard. I was worried he might try something. Eventually, though, I realised that Adam is still the same guy I’ve known for years. He probably saved my life last year, and he just doesn’t fit the picture of the poofs I’d been told about.
“I’ve decided he’s a friend, first,” I added, lying through my teeth. It wasn’t the time to tell Mr. Wilson that while I wanted Adam as a friend again, he still hadn’t accepted me back. “That’s all that’s important.”
Mr. Wilson nodded his head.
“Thanks,” he said absently, before strolling slowly back to the lounge room. He looked like he was thinking hard.
I turned and put the kettle back on. It started to boil again almost immediately, so I started making the three cups of tea. Once I’d finished, I looked up to see Randy staring at me. He had an odd expression on his face, as if he couldn’t work something out.
He shook his head. “Nothing.”
Ignoring my brother, I picked up the tray and took the drinks back down to the other room. I paused outside the room, waiting for a chance to go in without disrupting things. The conversation sounded heated. Scott was being interrogated on whether or not he’s really gay.
“Mum, I’m sorry. I’m gay, and that’s the way it is. I can’t change it. Both Adam and I have tried, but it just doesn’t work. Can’t you please understand that?”
I heard Mrs. Wilson say, “Scott…” The raw emotion in both of their voices was painful to hear.
There was silence for a few moments, so I knocked and entered. Scott had his head buried in Adam’s shoulder, and his whole body was shaking. Adam had both arms wrapped around Scott and was whispering softly to him. He looked distressed. Mrs. Wilson was half out of her chair, but was being held back by her husband. Both seemed very upset. Scott’s mum must’ve given up trying to keep her composure, as unchecked tears were streaming down her face.
I handed out the drinks and quietly left. I don’t think Scott even realised I’d been in the room. I was shaking when I stepped out of the room, due to the intense atmosphere I’d just left. Both Scott and his parents were going through something really painful. I was glad I didn’t have to go through it with them.
Randy and I were reduced to looking at the clock. Neither one of us felt like talking. I was worried for Scott, and I guessed Randy felt the same. It started raining, the weather seeming to complement the mood inside the house.
Almost an hour later, everyone came out of the lounge room. Scott’s dad was holding a rolled up paper, so I knew my dad had handed out Randy’s printouts. Scott and Adam were holding hands as they followed the four parents out of the room. Chris brought up the rear.
Scott was a wreck and his mum looked just as bad. Mr. Wilson looked slightly better, but he was moving as if he’d aged twenty years.
“Thanks for coming around, Carol, Phil,” Mum was saying. “We look forward to seeing you tomorrow.”
“Thank you, Yvonne,” Mrs. Wilson replied. There was definite sincerity in her statement.
She then turned to Scott and hesitantly lifted her arms. Scott stepped forward, but his expression was stony as he gave her a hug. After he stepped back to Adam, Mrs. Wilson gave a heavy sigh before turning to Chris and doing the same with him. Unlike his brother, Chris smiled down at his mum.
“Now, you two be good for Mrs. Johnson,” she instructed after letting go of Chris.
“Yes, Mum,” Chris said, smiling, while Scott just nodded. Scott’s face was a mask of neutrality.
Mr. Wilson stepped up and gave Scott a hug. He whispered something that seemed to surprise Scott, but whatever it was must’ve been encouraging, as Scott looked happier when his dad stepped over to Chris. Mr. Wilson only shook Chris’ hand, but both of them were smiling.
While Mr. Wilson did that, Mrs. Wilson was staring at Adam and Scott, who were standing together, each with an arm around the other’s waist. Adam noticeably pulled Scott closer when he became aware of the attention. He was scowling, as if in challenge. Mrs. Wilson was harder to read. She wasn’t happy, but she didn’t seem as hostile as she’d been when she’d arrived. Even in Adam’s grip, Scott was standing stiffly, like a soldier going to war. He wanted his parents to accept him, but he wasn’t going to back down on what he wanted.
After a few more pleasantries, the Wilsons left. The rest of us stayed inside, out of the rain.
“So, how did it go?” Randy asked impatiently, as soon as we saw Scott’s parents’ car disappear down the driveway.
We all looked at Scott to see if he was going to answer.
“Not good,” he said sadly. He leant against Adam, as if for support, and then continued. “But it could’ve been a lot worse.”
“We’re staying here another night, but we should be back home tomorrow,” Chris said, when it was clear that Scott wasn’t going to say anything else.
“Scott’s parents need more time to think,” Mum said, “so we all decided it’s best for the two boys to stay for a bit longer.”
“Thanks, boys, for those printouts, ” Dad said, smiling at Randy and me. “They really helped.”
“Randy gets the credit for that,” I replied.
“In that case, thanks, Randy.”
“That’s okay,” Randy said, giving a dismissive wave of the hand. “I’m just sorry I didn’t think of it earlier.”
“I’m not sure Mum was ready to listen before then,” Chris remarked. “She had to have Scott and me give her the background, first.”
I noticed Adam was staying very quiet and Scott didn’t seem keen to say much. Trying not to be obvious, I watched them closely. I wasn’t sure, but I thought both of them were still tense. Adam had an arm around Scott’s back and was holding him tight.
“Well, I suppose I should get the air mattress back out,” Randy said.
“Get the two singles out, not the big one,” Dad said.
“Yes. We’ll organise things differently this time.”
Randy looked puzzled. “Different how?”
Dad looked over at me. “David, do you mind Scott staying in your room tonight?”
“Why can’t Scott stay with me?” Adam asked. There was an unspoken plea behind his words.
Dad fixed him with a critical eye. “Last night was special; Scott needed you. You’re only fifteen, Adam, and we need to take that into account. Tonight, you’re going back to your bed in Randy’s room.”
“Of course, we don’t have any special plans tomorrow, so you can stay up late if you want to,” Mum added comfortingly. “We’re not going to get between you and Scott, but there are boundaries we’d like you to respect.”
“I take it that means I’m sleeping in the lounge room, then,” Chris said.
Dad gave him a wry smile. “I heard a rumour that you snore, so I think that’s best for the rest of us,” he remarked dryly.
“I don’t snore!” Chris remarked indignantly.
“Yes you do!” Scott and Randy chorused.
“Hmph,” Chris snorted. “If you’re going to be that way, then I’m going to sleep in the lounge room tonight. I won’t want to sleep in the same room as either of you.”
“David, you haven’t answered your dad’s question,” Adam asked without inflection. He was staring at me as if he was waiting for me to make a wrong move.
“What question was that?”
“About Break sleeping in your room tonight.”
I then knew what he was waiting for. Luckily, there’d been time for me to think before the question was re-asked.
“Of course he can stay in my room. He can even have the bed. I’ll sleep on the air bed.”
Adam’s eyes widened at that, but otherwise he didn’t react. Scott was startled.
“You don’t have to do that! You keep the bed.”
I stared hard at him. “You’re still upset, Break. You’ll sleep better in a bed than on the floor,” I said sternly, before continuing more gently. “Please, let me help, even if it’s only in this small way.”
Scott was tired, or had more important things on his mind, so he stopped arguing and just accepted it with a nod of his head.
While it was only midafternoon, everyone, apart from Randy and me, looked worn out. The tension must’ve been high in that meeting. Mum went out to see her horses, and Dad retreated to the study to read a book. The rest of us returned to the lounge room.
“What else can you tell us?” Randy asked. I’d been trying to work out how to ask the same question, but I hadn’t been confident enough. I was afraid Adam might take it as putting my nose in where it wasn’t welcome.
Scott just sat there, resting his head on Adam’s shoulder. Either he didn’t hear the question, or he just didn’t want to think about it, because he didn’t react.
“Neither of them understand,” Chris answered. “Dad is trying really hard, but Mum seems to have some sort of mental block on the subject. It’s like until she can sort out what’s happened, she can’t move on to working out what to do next.”
He sounded sad, but he hadn’t given up hoping for a happy ending.
“On the positive side, both of them say they still love Scott. Dad even made the comment that we’re his sons first, and anything else second. Mum just can’t seem to be able to see Scott and ‘gay’ at the same time. We probably could’ve gone home today, but another night of thinking things over, separately, seemed like the smart thing to do. Everyone agreed to that.”
“What did our parents say?” Randy asked.
“They kept out of it, mostly,” Chris answered. “They said just enough to show they support both Scott and Adam, and then only intervened to correct mistakes or to keep things under control. Your dad was good with dispelling myths about gays, but he left a lot up to Scott and me. Your mum was really good at calming our mum down when needed.”
We talked for some time. Scott was very quiet and Adam’s attention was mainly on his boyfriend, but Chris filled Randy and me in on the events of the afternoon.
He was concerned about his mum. Despite the sympathy she’d expressed previously about Adam, she just couldn’t accept him as Scott’s boyfriend. She was also struggling with the concept of Scott being gay. Chris thanked Randy for the printouts. They’d helped redirect his parents into more useful areas of discussion. Whether another night of thinking about it would be enough to start Mrs. Wilson coming to terms with her gay son and his protective big brother remained to be seen.
Chris mentioned that his parents had said they hadn’t slept the night before. He was hoping that was part of the reason for his mum’s aggression. They’d be back for another talk the next afternoon, and the intention was that Chris and Scott would go home at that point.
When that was stated, Adam stirred and looked worried.
“Why can’t your mum accept that Scott and I are together, Chris?” he asked, showing some anger. “Every time she looked at me, I felt as if she wished she could shoot me.”
“She doesn’t understand, Adam. She’s still getting used to the news. Give her time.”
“What’s there to get used to? I love Scott and I’m not giving him up. Why can’t she just leave us alone?” Adam asked. He was building up into a rage against Scott’s mother.
Scott suddenly pulled away from Adam and jumped to his feet. He glared down at his startled boyfriend.
“She’s my mum, Ads! She’s not your father!”
With that, Scott stormed out of the room.
As soon as Adam had shaken off his stunned surprise, he leapt to his feet.
“Scott, wait!” he cried out as he sprinted to the door.
Randy started to move, but Chris held up his hand and stopped him. “Let them go. This is between them and none of our business.” Chris sounded very tired.
I heard what sounded like the door to the veranda closing, dropping the volume of Adam’s pleas. I nodded to myself. The veranda was probably the best place for them. They’d have some privacy without getting rained on.
I stood up and looked over at my brother.
“Come on, Giant. Time to organise things for tonight.”
Scott and Adam didn’t come back inside until just before dinner. When they reappeared, they were holding hands, but didn’t look comfortable. While they were gone, Randy and I had set up the air mattresses; one in the lounge room and one in my room. Chris had made a half-hearted offer to help, but ended up lying on the couch with his eyes closed.
The mood that night was somber. No one seemed willing to talk much. Even Randy didn’t tease me as much as he normally would. Mum made an effort to get things going by asking me what I was going to wear for my date with Liz the following night, but all that did was to make me start to worry. I’d been intending to wear jeans, a good T-shirt, and a jacket, but then I became concerned that that would be too casual. When we finished eating and cleaning up, I headed to my room to have another look at what options I had in the clothing department.
I had clothes scattered in piles all over my bed when I heard someone behind me.
“Don’t worry about it, Stick. Liz isn’t going to turn you down because of what you’re wearing.”
I looked over my shoulder at Scott, who was standing in the doorway. He looked tired and unhappy. Despite that, he seemed amused at me.
“I know, but I want to show that I’m making an effort,” I said, as I scanned my selections and moved one set off the bed and into the reject heap.
“She knows that already.”
Feeling a bit desperate, I sat down on the edge of the bed and looked up at Scott.
“You’ve been talking to her?”
“Not much, but yes,” he replied as he walked towards the bed. He glanced down at the piles of clothes and gave me a half smile.
“How about you take the bed and I take the mattress? That way you won’t have to move everything.”
I stood up quickly. Glancing at the clock, I was surprised to see it was already after nine. “I’ll move them, but isn’t it a bit early to go to bed?”
Scott shrugged and sat down on an empty spot of the bed. “It’s been a tiring day. Adam and I were about to start arguing, and I don’t want to do that, so I’ve decided it’s time to go to sleep.”
I started moving things from the bed to piles on the floor nearby.
“You and Adam were fighting?” I asked, surprised. I hadn’t heard anything, but I’d been obsessed with my clothes.
“Not quite, but it was heading that way,” Scott sighed. His shoulders slumped and his face looked drawn.
I debated with myself about whether I should get involved, while I cleared the rest of my stuff off the bed. Coming to a decision, I sat down at the other end of the bed.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
Scott at first shook his head, but then nodded.
“Adam’s asking me if the worst happens, will I choose him or my family.”
Scott was worried, that was obvious, but I sensed he didn’t want to make that choice. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he didn’t know the answer to that question, and didn’t even want to think about it.
I got up and closed the door. We were going to have a private chat, and I suspected it would be unwise to let others overhear what we said. I also had a question I wanted to ask Scott, if I got the chance.
Returning to the bed, I looked at Scott before saying anything. He seemed dejected. He was sitting, slumped, staring at the floor. He’d been shaken by the situation with his parents, and still hadn’t recovered.
“You don’t want to lose your family, do you, Break?” I asked gently.
He shook his head.
“Adam’s already lost his family. He doesn’t want to lose you, too.”
“I know that, but it doesn’t make it any easier,” Scott admitted before turning to face me. There was a glint of anger in his eyes. “Adam doesn’t have the right to ask that of me!”
“Adam’s scared. He might look strong, but he needs as much support as he can get,” I responded. “I can still remember the effect you had on him. The day before, he’d been frantic when Maise and Helen harassed him. The next day, he was confidence plus. He told me afterwards that knowing you were there for him made all the difference in the world. He doesn’t want to lose that.”
Scott looked at me wide-eyed. “He said that?”
I nodded. “Yep. I’ve seen it, too. He’ll do anything to keep you with him.”
Scott looked away. “He still shouldn’t ask me to choose.”
“No, but he’s doing it because he doesn’t want to worry about you walking out on him.”
Scott jumped to his feet. He was halfway to the door before he glanced back over his shoulder at me.
“I’ll be back, Stick. I just need to say something to Ads.”
I smiled. Adam and I were still rubbing each other raw at times, but I was glad that Scott and I didn’t have that problem. Gay relationship counselling wasn’t something I’d ever considered I’d be doing, but I felt I understood Adam, at least to a degree. His situation was sort of like mine with Liz. I’d do anything to avoid having her walk away from me. In a strange way, I owed Adam, and helping him and Scott was a way of paying him back.
While Scott was out, I started thinking about having a gay guy spend the night in my room. I trusted Scott, but I was nervous. There were so many things I didn’t know. I made a quick decision and changed into a pair of tracksuit pants. I could sleep in those. Sleeping in my underwear like I normally do would probably have been okay, but I didn’t see any harm in being cautious.
Scott came back after about twenty minutes, and he was smiling happily. He closed the door behind him, sat down on the bed, and looked down at where I was sitting on the mattress.
“Thanks, Stick,” he said. The gratitude he felt came through loud and clear.
I shrugged. “It was nothing.”
“Do you mind if I go to bed? It’s been a long day.”
I grinned. “Go ahead. I want to get up early tomorrow, anyway. I have to make that cake.”
While Scott got undressed, I picked up a book to read. I was happy to let Scott take the lead if he wanted to talk about the day.
“Do you want me to turn the light off?” Scott asked me when he was finished.
I looked up. He was wearing a pair of boxers and a loose T-shirt. I gave a wry half-smile as I realised he looked exactly the same as every other time we’d slept over at the same place. It just reinforced the idea that he’s still the same guy he’s always been.
“I’ll do it. You’d probably fall over me if you tried to get back to the bed in the dark.”
Scott chuckled. “I wouldn’t want to do that. Okay, thanks.”
I got up and turned off the light. On impulse, before going back to the air mattress, I stripped off my tracksuit pants. The sooner I started treating everything as “business-as-usual” the better it would be.
After lying down on the mattress and pulling the doona up over my chest, I put my hands behind my head. I had a question I wanted to ask Scott, but I didn’t know if I should. It was important to me, but I would be asking Scott to talk about his boyfriend. That’s a different relationship than when he and Adam had just been best friends.
When I heard Scott roll around in the bed, trying to get comfortable, I took a deep breath and decided to go ahead. Raising myself up onto an elbow, I looked in the direction of the bed.
“Scott, can I ask you a question?”
“Sure, Stick,” he replied hesitantly. “What do you want to know?”
After getting the go-ahead, I almost backed down. I suddenly realised that I might be risking my friendship with Scott, too, if he thought I was prying. It was only the feeling that if I didn’t ask then, I never would, that made me continue.
“I messed up big time with Adam. I’ve been trying to fix things up since then, but I don’t know if I’m getting anywhere. Do you think Adam will ever again accept me as a friend?”
I held my breath while I waited for a reply. I let it out in surprise when Scott gave a short, sharp laugh.
“Sorry, Stick, but that wasn’t what I thought you were going to ask about,” he said with a chuckle.
“What do you mean?” I asked before I could stop myself. I quickly added “never mind” when I guessed what he meant. I suppose I’ll eventually ask him questions about sex, but that was not the time.
I waited for Scott to say something, but when his silence stretched out, I got worried.
“Forget it, if you don’t want to answer,” I said quickly, as I tried to dig myself out of a hole. I was afraid I had somehow upset Scott.
“Sorry to take so long, but I want to make sure I answer this properly,” Scott said. “Give me a sec while I work out how to say this.”
I waited nervously.
“Stick, I don’t think you appreciate how much you hurt Adam that night,” Scott started cautiously. “While he wasn’t able to do it properly, he’s told me that there were a few people he had expected to be able to tell he’s gay without a serious problem. You were one of those, and when you fired out at him that night, he felt betrayed. He had faith in you, but you let him down in the worst possible way.”
Scott paused while I cringed at what he’d said. I’d always considered myself to be fair-minded and open, but I was anything but, when Adam told us he’s gay. I still don’t believe I understand exactly what I did, but I was gaining an appreciation for the pain I caused.
“Since then, you’ve tried really hard, and Adam knows this, but he’s slow to trust you again. He’s getting there, but it’s going to take time. Just keep going the way you’re going.”
“Is there something else I should do?” I asked, and was then afraid that I was sounding a touch desperate.
“Don’t worry about it, Stick. You’re doing fine. Just give Ads some more time.” I heard the smile in Scott’s voice. He’d heard my desperate tone.
We talked about minor stuff for maybe another hour. When I heard Scott yawn, I ended the chat, and we settled down and went to sleep. I woke up partway through the night to the sound of Scott tossing and turning, but I didn’t say anything. If he was having trouble sleeping, there wasn’t much I could do about it. I waited, and he eventually fell back to sleep.
I woke up early the next morning. I heard Scott snoring faintly, so I eased myself carefully out of bed and picked up some clothes to put on later. I quietly opened the door and went to take a shower.
After I’d finished and dressed, I went down to the kitchen. Tony was due later that morning, and I didn’t know how long he’d stay, so I needed to go ahead and bake the cake for Mary’s mum. Otherwise, I might run out of time.
Not surprisingly, both of my parents were up. Mum looked like she’d already been out to check on the horses. Dad was sitting down with toast and coffee, while Mum was eating a bowl of cereal. I said good morning and quickly made myself some raisin toast and a cup of strong coffee. After finishing my breakfast, I got everything ready to start cooking.
I was just putting the cake in the oven when Randy and Adam entered the room.
“Where’s Scott?” Adam asked.
“He was still asleep when I woke up,” I replied, setting the timer on the oven. I’d never hear the end of it if the cake got burnt.
Adam’s glance down the hallway couldn’t have been more transparent.
“Why don’t you go wake him up?” Mum suggested, trying to smother a smile.
Adam didn’t wait. He disappeared straight away.
“What’s your plan for this morning, Mum?” Randy asked casually as he started to organise his breakfast.
“I was planning on going for a ride. Why?”
Randy shrugged. “Just wanted to know, that’s all.”
Mum didn’t seem fooled by his attempt at nonchalance, but she let it slide.
“I’ve got some shopping to do down at Chirnside Park. Do you boys want anything?” Dad asked.
“Nothing for me,” I replied. I was secretly pleased that we’d probably have the house to ourselves when Tony arrived.
“I don’t need anything, Dad,” Randy added.
Adam and Scott came in soon afterwards. Scott looked a lot better that morning. When Chris came in, it was clear that both of them were a lot more relaxed than they’d been the day before. Their parents would be showing up at around two that afternoon. Unless something went terribly wrong, they’d be going home that day.
It was after nine when Dad left. Mum gave me a compliment on the cooling cake before she headed outside to ride her horse. The sky was overcast, but the rain had stopped during the night and it looked like it was going to stay dry for the day.
“What will we do when Tony arrives?” Randy asked, once we were all alone.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I mean, who goes out and says hello? If we all go, he just might turn and run away, thinking he’s about to be mobbed.”
“Good point,” Chris said. “I think Adam should go out to see him.”
Adam shook his head. “He rang Randy first, and it’s Randy’s home. He should go out first.”
“I’m happy with that,” Randy stated. He was keen to meet the guy.
“What if it’s a setup?” I asked. “Randy’s been attacked once when he was by himself.”
Randy snorted. “Yeah, right. You guys will be right here in the house. How likely is it that this guy will try anything?”
“It’s worth worrying about,” Scott said. “If he’s on a bike he could be away again before anyone could catch him. Why doesn’t Stick go with you, Giant? It’s his home, too.”
We all looked at each other and it was quickly agreed. Then it was just a case of waiting. Randy remarked that he hoped the guy hadn’t chickened out, but he was told there wasn’t a lot we could do about that. It was the best time for Tony to show up. Mum was down riding her horse and could be expected to be out there until close to lunchtime. Dad was out shopping, and wasn’t expected back until just after midday. Tony could show up and, if he wanted to, be gone before Mum and Dad saw him.
When we saw a bike coming up our driveway, Randy and I went outside. Randy was particularly eager to meet the mysterious “Tony” and find out who he was.
As the rider approached, I thought he was about the same age as me, though with the riding helmet obscuring part of his face, it was hard to tell. He looked average in size, but was clearly fit. I was guessing he’d ridden from Yarra Glen, but he was still going strong. He had on the typical brightly-coloured, skin-tight clothing that serious bike riders tend to wear when road riding. He was also wearing a backpack. He lifted one hand to wave to us as he came closer.
He pulled to a stop near us and dismounted. With his back to us, he flicked down the stand for the bike, then took off his helmet and shook his head. A mass of vaguely familiar black curls appeared. The guy then turned to face my brother and me.
“Tristan!” I said in disbelief.
“Hi, Stick, Randy,” Tristan MacDonald said in a reserved manner. He looked nervous.
“What are you doing here?” I asked as I tried to put my brain into gear.
“Were you expecting someone named Tony, by any chance?”
“You’re Tony?” Randy asked, perplexed by something.
“Can we go inside? I don’t want to cool down out here,” Tristan said, as he slipped the backpack off and held it by one strap. “If it’s not too much trouble, I’d like to take a shower. I’ve got a change of clothes with me.”
“Sure,” I said, waving him towards the house.
I wanted to talk privately with my brother, as he was looking at Tristan suspiciously, but we didn’t really have a chance. Tristan was never that far away. As he’d never been to our house, that wasn’t surprising.
I opened the door and let Tristan go first. Inside, Adam, Scott and Chris were waiting.
“Hi, Tristan,” Adam said, looking concerned. “What brings you to these parts?”
“This is ‘Tony’,” I said.
Adam shook his head and glared at Tristan. “He’s not Tony. I know Tristan’s voice, and that’s not who I spoke to on the phone. Okay, Tristan, what are you up to?”
Tristan ignored Adam and stared at Scott and Chris. He then glanced across at Adam and gave a small nod of the head, as if to himself. Stepping forward, he put out a hand to Chris.
“Hi. I’m Tristan. You must be Adam’s boyfriend.”
Chris stood up and accepted the offered hand. He shook it firmly. “I’m Chris. Before I answer that, can you answer Adam’s question?”
Once Chris had let go, Tristan nervously ran his hand through his sweaty black hair. He looked around at all of us before turning back to Adam.
“No, I’m not Tony,” he conceded. “Tony’s a friend of mine. I wanted to make sure things were safe before he came here.”
Adam’s belligerent mood subsided as he absorbed that statement. Randy’s tension also seemed to drop away as he accepted what Tristan had said.
“Sensible,” Chris said, with a nod of his head.
There was a moment of silence. I didn’t know what to say and no one else seemed to, either.
“Do you mind if I make a phone call?” Tristan asked. He looked liked he’d made some sort of decision.
“Go ahead,” I said, as I started to walk over to get the handset. “I’ll get it for you.”
“No need,” Tristan replied, and pulled a mobile phone out of his pack.
After hitting a few keys, he held it up to his ear.
“Hi, Tony. It looks okay. Come on up.”
Pausing to listen to the response, he smiled and then hung up.
The smile transformed into a cold stare as he glared around the room.
“Tony will be here shortly,” he stated curtly. “I’m putting my brother’s life in your hands, guys. You hurt him and I’ll make your lives a living hell.”
[Authors note: One website for parents like that mentioned by Randy can be found at http://www.bidstrup.com/parents.htm ]
The author copyrights this story and retains all rights. This work may not be duplicated in any form – physical, electronic, audio, or otherwise – without the author's expressed permission. All applicable copyright laws apply.
Disclaimer: All individuals depicted are fictional, and any resemblance to real persons is purely coincidental.
I would like to express a special thank you to Ryan H., and also to everyone at The MailCrew. The help they have given me with this story has been fantastic. Special kudos go to Aaron for doing a brilliant job of editing. I can thoroughly recommend their website to all teenagers who are gay, lesbian, bi or not sure.