Curt's life takes a turn that he never expected, and he realizes that it's because he forgot something that didn't seem important at the time. He also discovers that others have forgotten things that are important and that turns out to both help him and hurt him.
Mature or distressing themes. This story deals with abuse.
Chapter 50 — Thatís Rather Anticlimactic!
Kyle’s going home party finally wound down, leaving me, Tom, Kyle, Mark, Sara, and Laura to clean up the outside and Mrs. W and Mrs. Hutchins to do the kitchen cleanup. Tom and I decided to leave the pool heater turned on so we could get back in once we picked up what little needed picking up.
“I’m surprised,” Laura told us, “that things are so clean out here. I only found one Pepsi can, and it was half-full and sitting upright. Your friends are neat, Kyle.”
“You should see my friends back home. If they’d been here it would have taken at least an hour to clean up after them.”
I looked around the yard, and nudged Tom with my elbow. “Anything left to do?” I asked.
“Nope. Everything is in great shape. So what’s left to do is I want get back in the water and just relax.”
“That sounds like a great idea,” Kyle said. So that’s what they did. They sat on the third step down in the shallow end of the pool. That brought the water to just below their armpits, without making it feel like they’d float away.
Laura and Sara sat on Curt’s left and Tom on his right, and Kyle and Mark to Tom’s right.
I closed my eyes. I would have been able to go to sleep if Kyle, Tom, and Laura hadn’t started a discussion about what living in Illinois might be like. She and Kyle got into an argument about the weather, Laura contending that it was too hot and humid in the Chicago area during the summers and Kyle claiming that the humidity was good for the skin.
Tom asked Kyle if he thought he’d come out at school when the semester started.
“Nope. I know there must be some other gay kids, but apparently they’re all as tightly closeted as I am.”
“Are there any guys you think might be gay?” Laura asked.
“Yeah, three or four. But what if I’m wrong? I sure don’t have a working gaydar to guide me. And besides, I don’t have any idea how to start a conversation with one of those possible gay candidates that would let me hint around about maybe they’d be gay without outing myself.”
“I have a suggestion,” I said. “Talk about your trip, and how different it is here. As you list the differences say one of them is how gay kids here are out and no one make a big deal about it. Or you can show your pix of our sightseeing visit to San Francisco and there should be a couple places where you could bring up the subject.”
“Where’s Ray?” Tom asked Kyle.
“He went home to get some clothes and his toothbrush and shampoo and stuff. He’s going to stay with me tonight and Sunday night. And now that I’m not leaving until Tuesday, maybe he’ll spend Monday night too. Anyway, he should be back in a little while.”
I had to laugh. The back door opened and Ray came out. “It looks like it was a really, really little while before Ray got back, Kyle.”
He grinned, then said, “Hey, Ray!”
Ray walked up to the pool. “Hi, guys. Say, Kyle, can you show me where to put my stuff?”
“Sure. Mark, you want to come along so you can introduce Ray to your grandma and you can make sure he knows where everything is?”
“Sure. Let’s do it.”
Mark and Kyle got out of the pool and dried off, then wrapped their towels around their waists and returned to the house with Ray.
Laura nudged me. “Curt, are you and Tom coming out at school?”
I turned to Tom. “How about it, boyfriend?”
“Works for me.”
“Me too. So our answer to you is, yes, Tom and I will come out at school. Don’t expect us to wear a sign around our neck, or carry a rainbow flag, or stand up in homeroom to make an announcement, though. If someone asks, and we know who they are, then we’ll tell them. If it’s someone we don’t know, I’m not sure about what Tom will do but I’ll turn it back on the person and say, ‘I don’t know you, so are you asking because you’re gay?’”
“You need to be careful, Curt,” Sara said. “With your broken arm someone might figure they can attack you and you won’t be able to fight back.”
“I will be careful, even though Los Arcos isn’t the kind of school where very many guys are homophobic. Anyway, I’ll make sure I’m not in a place where there aren’t a lot of other kids around, or where someone is making negative comments. Just to be safe, I’m going to ask Vice Principal Pearson if I can carry my cell with me in case someone starts to hassle me.”
“Do you think you get an okay to do that?”
“I think so. If they say no, I’ll refer them to my attorney.” I grinned. “Mr. Williams will encourage them to see why it’s a good idea that I carry my cell.”
Tom leaned over so he could see Laura and Sara. “I’m going to do the same. That way Curt can text me or I can text him with where we are and then one of us can get help from a teacher or someone who’s part of the school administration.”
“Good for you guys.” Laura sat looking at me for a while, then continued. “You know my brother Pat is gay and has a boyfriend.”
That stunned me. “You’re kidding! Did Pat tell you?”
“Yes, he and Callen told me. And they told me that you two gave them advice about how to tell our folks. Instead they told me, which you told them to do and is probably better than going to my folks. We’re going to work on our folks to open their minds to gay kids.”
“Your dad already knows that we’re involved with gay kids because of the website. What more do you have to do?”
“Prep them for the fact that one of their kids is gay, dufus! That’s a different story than putting together a website for other people’s gay kids.”
“Yeah, I can see that,” I said.
“In fact, what about your folks?”
“My folks are fine with me and Curt being boyfriends,” Tom said.
“I plan on telling my mom tomorrow. I don’t have a clue what she’s going to say.”
“What are you going to tell her, Curt?”
“That I’m gay, and that Tom is my boyfriend. Where it gets complicated is things like when did I realize that I’m gay, am I really gay or is this just some phase I’m going through, why did I say that I’m straight just a couple weeks ago at Don’s trial and now I’m saying I’m gay, and so on.”
“Are you two still interested in working on the website?” Sara asked.
“Yes!” Tom told her.
“Absolutely,” I said. “Why are you asking about that? I thought we were waiting for Don’s trial to be over so I could work on the website without being distracted by all of the trial crap.”
“Gary is asking about it. He’s eager to get going on the site. So, I can tell him that you’ll be ready to sit down with him on Monday?”
“No, Monday is when Don’s sentence will be announced. How about Tuesday?”
“I’ll let him know. Can I give him your cell numbers?”
“Fine with me,” I said.
“Me too,” Tom added.
After Laura and Sara left Tom and I did a double check in the yard and shut down the pool heater and closed the pool cover. We dried off and went inside, took a shower, together, and returned to the kitchen and sat across from each other at the table.
“Hungry?” Tom asked.
He laughed. “I’m always hungry. You know that. I’m going to have an apple.”
“Actually, that sounds good. I’d like one too, please.”
Tom handed me an apple, and brought a plate and knife for each of us. I quartered my apple and cut out the core. That made it a lot easier to eat. Tom did the same to his apple. We each sat there eating our apple, not saying anything until we’d finished.
Tom broke the silence. “When are you going to phone your mom, Curt?”
I leaned back in my chair. “Probably should do it now, what d’ya think?”
“I’d say that now is the perfect time. You want to see her tomorrow?”
“If she’s going to be home, yes.”
I got up. “I’ll phone her from my bedroom.”
“I’ll be in my bedroom,” Tom said, “so come see me after you’ve talked to her.”
I smiled, then walked around the table.
“Stand up,” I told him. He stood up. I pulled him into a hug, then pulled back a bit and kissed him, just lips, and soft but long.
“I love you, Tom.”
“I love you, Curt,” he replied.
I headed upstairs. When I got to my bedroom I pulled my cell out of my pocket and sat on my bed, leaning against the headboard. I pressed the speed dial number for my mom, and waited while the phone rang.
“Hi, Mom. I wondered if you’re going to be home tomorrow, could I come by so we can talk for a while?”
“Hi, Curt. Yes, I’ll be home all day tomorrow. What time would you like to come over?”
“How about two o’clock? Would that work for you?”
“Yes, that’s fine.”
“Well, okay then, I’ll see you tomorrow at two.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing you.”
“Okay. Bye, Mom.”
“Goodbye, Curt. See you tomorrow.”
I put my phone in standby mode. Well, that was sort of a weird call. But I’m going to see her at a good time, in the afternoon. Now all I have to do is remember how to say what I want to say.
I got up off my bed and walked across the hall to Tom’s room. He laid on his bed with his back against the headboard. He had his earbuds in, listening to music, I assumed. He held his tablet, probably reading something with the Kindle app. He looked up when I bumped the side of his mattress with my knee.
“Hey, Curt,” he said, and pulled out his earbuds. “Did you talk to your mom?”
“Uh huh. I’m going over there tomorrow afternoon at two.”
“Cool. Did she ask why you wanted to talk to her?”
“Nope. The call was over in less than thirty seconds.”
“I think she thinks that you want to talk about moving back.”
“That’s probably it. Won’t she be surprised when I tell her I’m gay and I have a boyfriend! The most handsome, wonderful, sexy boyfriend in the country.”
“One recommendation, Curt. While I’m happy you think so, leave out the ‘sexy’ part.”
I grinned. “Yeah, I think you’re right. I think I oughta tell your folks.”
“They aren’t home. They drove to Vallejo to visit my Aunt Jessica and Uncle Roy. They’ll be home around nine.”
“You want to do something?”
“I don’t know. What would you like to do?”
Tom shuffled to his right, making room for me to lay down. So that’s what I did, leaning against the headboard. I leaned toward him and kissed him.
“Maybe I’ll just sit here and rest for a while,” I said.
He looked disappointed. “You don’t want to mess around?”
“Yeah, maybe after a bit. I’m sort of drained, you know what I mean?”
“Yeah, I got’ya. Scoot down so you’re laying with your head on the pillow.”
I followed his directions, and he scooted over so our sides were pressed together. It was very comfortable and very comforting. I closed my eyes and fell asleep.
When I finally woke up it was getting dark. Tom lay on his left side next to me, his right arm around my waist. He snored softly, and I had to grin because this scene was so totally domestic and wonderful. I turned my head to the right and kissed him. He made a little moaning sound, but didn’t wake up. I looked at his face and studied it. I realized that my boyfriend was a black Adonis.
I guess I fell asleep again, because the when I woke up the room was totally dark. I checked Tom’s clock. It was eight fifteen. His folks would be home in a little while. I tried to wake him by saying his name, but it didn’t work. Next I shook his shoulder, and all that accomplished was Tom turned to his right side but didn’t wake up. So I leaned over and stuck my tongue in his ear. That woke him! He started laughing and pulled away from me.
“Hi, sleepyhead!” I greeted him. “Did you have a nice sleep?”
“That was nasty, Curt! You know how ticklish it is when you stick your tongue in my ear!”
“I tried to wake you by talking to you, then shaking you, but neither worked. So I did the old tongue-in-the-ear-to-wake-you-up trick and it worked perfectly. Anyway, it’s eight fifteen and your folks are probably on their way home. We ought to get up and grab something to eat.”
“That’s a good idea. I’m hungry.”
“No surprise there,” I said.
“So what’s for dinner?”
“We’ll have to raid the refrigerator and freezer. I have no idea what might be there.”
“Let’s do it. First, I gotta pee, and I want to run a wet washcloth over my face to help me wake up, then I’ll probably be ready to head downstairs.”
“That combination sounds good for me, too.”
When we got down to the kitchen I opened the refrigerator.
“Look! There’s leftover pizza,” I said. “How about I put it in the oven for a few minutes and you make a salad?”
“Sounds like a plan, my man!”
We’d finished eating and cleaned up the kitchen and were watching TV by the time Tom’s folks got home at nine thirty.
“Hi, boys. How was your evening?” Mrs. W asked us.
“Good. We spent most of it sleeping,” I replied.
“We finished the pizza that was left from lunch,” Tom added, with a grin.
“Someday, Tom,” his dad said, “you’ll talk about something other than food. I hope.”
Tom blushed, and the rest of us laughed at his embarrassment. He stuck his tongue out at us, then he laughed along with us. Nothing ever seems to phase Tom. That’s definitely one of his qualities that I love the most.
“Curt, were you able to schedule a time to talk to your mother?” Mr. Williams asked.
“Yes. I’m going to meet her tomorrow at two o’clock.”
“Good. I assume you still want to do this so it’s just the two of you talking?”
“Yeah. I think that’s best. If I bring someone with me I think she wouldn’t appreciate it.”
“Good. I agree with that,” he told me.
“You be sure to call us or text us or come back here and tell us what happened,” Mrs. W. told me.
“I will, Mrs. W,” I said.
“And if it doesn’t go the way you hope,” Mr. Williams said, “remember that you have a home here.”
I was close to crying, and Tom must have seen that, so he asked this folks about his Aunt and Uncle.
“They’re good. Your Aunt Jessica’s cancer is still in remission. She’s feeling fine.”
“How about Jeremy?”
“He’s changed a lot, Tom,” Mr. Williams said. “He isn’t the wise-ass kid he was as recently as last Christmas.”
Mrs. W continued, “We talked about Jeremy on the way home. Now that his mother is overcoming her cancer he seems to have lost his rude and tactless attitude.”
“Good,” Tom said. “I’d always liked him before he got strange.” He yawned, and because yawning seems to be contagious, I yawned too.
Mrs. W looked at us. “You two should think about going to bed. You look like you’re ready to go to sleep right here.”
Tom linked his hands behind his head, stretched, and yawned. “I agree. Ready, Curt?”
“Yeah, I think so.” I yawned again, and Tom laughed.
“We’re growing teens. We need sleep. Let’s do it, Curt, Now.”
We went upstairs and brushed our teeth. I wanted to take a shower, but wanting to sleep overcame that and I climbed into Tom’s bed. I felt him get in beside me.
I woke up in the morning and looked at the clock. Nine fifteen. We’d slept almost twelve hours not counting the four hours or more that we slept in the afternoon and evening. I lay there looking at the ceiling. I couldn’t remember any dreams, not even any little snips of dreams. I must have been exhausted.
I looked over at Tom. He was awake and smiling at me.
“I love you, Curt.”
“I love you, Tom.”
“Time to get up, I think.”
“I agree. I think I really need a shower, too.”
“Let’s take one together. That way I can wash your back and you can wash my back and it’ll take a lot less time.”
I grinned. “Not if we start fooling around, it won’t take less time.”
“We won’t fool around. I’m hungry, and hungry always wins over fooling around.”
We mostly didn’t fool around, and made it downstairs for breakfast by quarter to ten. Mrs. W looked up from where she sat at the kitchen table.
“Good morning. What would you two like for breakfast? There are some waffles you can toast, or you can have toast or English muffins. Or would either of you like eggs?”
“Eggs, scrambled, and a couple waffles for me,” Tom said.
“I’ll have the same,” I said. I got up and went to the freezer. “The waffles are in here?” I asked.
“Yes, they’re in a plastic bag in the drawer at the bottom of the freezer. There’s maple syrup in a bottle in the refrigerator, on the bottom shelf in the door.”
I got the waffles and the maple syrup. I popped two waffles in the toaster oven, then I unscrewed the top off the maple syrup and put the bottle in the microwave on defrost for 2 minutes to warm it up.
As we ate breakfast Mrs. W asked me about talking to my mom.
“Are you nervous?”
“No, actually I’m not. I know what I have to tell her, so I’m okay.”
“What are you going to do until you leave for your mother’s house?”
“I don’t know. What do you want to do, Tom?”
“I don’t know. It’s…”
I interrupted, and said, “It’s your day to choose,” real fast.
“Hey, that’s no fair, Curt! I was about to say it!”
“What is going on?” Mrs. W asked.
“We have this thing about who needs to pick what we’ll do when neither of us wants to pick something. After two ‘I don’t knows’ the first one of us to shout ‘It’s your day to choose’ is home free and the other has to pick something for us to do. The one who’s home free can reject anything the other picks and they have to pick something else and that can go on until we both agree. Because I was quick on the draw…”
Tom interrupted, “Quick on the draw my behind!”
“…and completed it first,” I continued, “it’s Tom who’s gotta pick something for us to do.” I grinned.
Mrs. W shook her head. “Teenagers. I just don’t understand them. Especially boys!” She turned and walked out of the kitchen.
“Okay, okay, so I gotta pick. Let’s shoot some baskets,” Tom suggested.
“No, I don’t want to get all sweaty before I go to talk to my mom.”
“Okay, how about we play Far Cry 2?”
We cleaned up the kitchen then went upstairs to Tom’s room and played Far Cry 2, then when we got tired of that game we played Skate 3 until Mrs. W called us to come down for lunch.
“I’ll make egg salad sandwiches if that’s okay with everyone.”
We all agreed that egg salad sandwiches would be excellent, and Mrs. W started fixing them. I helped Tom set the table, and we ate lunch. After we ate Tom and I put the lunch dishes in the dishwasher and watched the 2012 Olympics women’s basketball games until I had to leave.
Tom hugged me. “Good luck, Curt.”
“Thanks. I hope I don’t need it.”
Mr. and Mrs. Williams said they expected it would all turn out the way I wanted. I thanked them and left.
I walked to my mom’s house. Maybe I was just a bit nervous. I walked up to the front door and realized I didn’t have my key with me. I rang the doorbell. She didn’t answer, so after a while I rang it a second time. I heard the back gate open; it makes a distinctive squeaking noise as it opens and closes. Mom walked down the driveway and came out front.
“Curt! I thought I heard the doorbell. Sorry I didn’t answer, I was watering the flowers in the back yard. I assumed you’d just let yourself in.”
“I don’t have my key,” I told her.
“Really? Did you leave it with me?”
“No, I have it, I just forgot to bring it. I guess I had a lot of other things on my mind.”
“Well, come around back and we can go in and sit down and talk about what’s on your mind.” She smiled, and we walked to the back entrance and went inside.
“Let’s sit at the kitchen table, if that’s alright with you.”
“Sure, that’s good,” I replied.
“You’re the one who called this meeting, Curt,” my mom said with a smile, “so why don’t you tell me all about it.”
“All about it, whatever it is, right?”
“Yes, that makes sense.”
I took a deep breath, then sighed. “This is going to be tough. Let me just think about it for a minute.” I sat for about a minute, trying to decide exactly how to say what I wanted to say. Finally I had it figured out.
“We agreed that I’d stay with the Williams until Don’s trial ended. It ends tomorrow with the sentencing hearing, and I’ll be there to hear the sentencing. Unless they want to file an appeal, which Mr. Williams said he doesn’t think they’ll do that. So, one thing I want to talk about is my moving back here, with you.” I saw she wanted to say something, so I held up my hand with the palm facing her.
“But before we talk about that, there’s something else that I need to tell you and that we need to discuss.
“I’ve discovered something about myself that I never realized until recently. I always knew that I’m straight, that I’m not gay. But things have happened over the past few weeks that changed my opinion.”
Mom interrupted me. “So you finally realized that you’re gay.” She smiled.
I sat there staring at her. “Do you mean that you thought that I was gay?”
“No, Curt, I knew that you’re gay. Part of my training is in gender identity. We learned the markers that indicate that a teen will exhibit that can help us classify him or her as potentially gay. You exhibited a number of those markers. For example, you’re very intelligent, are focused on your studies, and you get good grades. Almost all of your friends have been boys. You never dated. You and the girls you know treated each other like you were brothers and sisters, not like boyfriend and girlfriend. There is one boy, Tom Williams, who you are so close to that that it appears that you’re boyfriends. When Don attacked you, you vehemently denied that you were gay.
“All of these made me realize, starting several years ago when you were in middle school, that you could be gay. I’m fine with that.” She grinned. “Besides, a mother always knows, whether she admits it or not.”
“I would have thought that you would have said something to me.”
“Absolutely not. Starting when you were in middle school, if you held any suspicions that you might be gay you had them carefully hidden away. You hear gay kids talk about being in the closet, well this is a type of closet that gay kids have before they come to the realization that they might be gay. So if I’d said something, you wouldn’t have believed me, and you would have slammed that particular closet door closed and might not have ever come to the realization that you are, in fact, gay. That would not have been healthy for you, mentally. And I might have been wrong; I guess this conversation proves I wasn’t wrong.
“You have to remember that being gay is now considered to be genetic. It’s the same as being left handed or having blue eyes and blond hair. These are things that you were born with, and while you weren’t born as a blond you were born as someone who’s gay.
“Curt, there’s only one thing I want for you, and that’s for you to be happy and have a wonderful life. It frustrates me when I see how some gay kids are mistreated at home and at school simply for being someone who’s gay. You’ll never be mistreated by me at home. I hope you’ll never be mistreated at school.
“You’re lucky. You’re growing up in a society that’s becoming more accepting of people who are gay. You’re going to be able to live exactly the same kind of life as anyone else. That’s an amazing change from how things were even in the recent past.
“I love you, Curt. I want you to move home, this home, your home and my home. I want you to feel free to bring Tom here to shoot baskets and play video games and be your friend. There are things we’ll need to talk about, me and you and Tom, all together, and I’m sure when we talk about them you and Tom are going to be seriously embarrassed.”
She laughed when she saw my expression and that I was blushing.
“Yes, it’s going to be that talk and I’m not a man but I probably know more about sexuality and gay kids than more than ninety percent of all men in the country, so it’s going to be just as detailed as you and Tom can imagine. And it’s going to be just as horribly embarrassing as you and Tom can imagine. But we’re going to have that talk, and part of it is going to be setting limits on what you can and cannot do at home. But that’s what we’ll talk about in a few days, Tom, you, and me.
I didn’t say anything. I was, as Tom had said to me, gobsmacked.
“So, have I shocked you speechless or are you able to tell me if I’m on base or not?”
I started laughing, then shook my head. “You have totally outed me and Tom. I couldn’t have done a better job of it, even though I practiced how to tell you. What I will say is I want to make sure you understand how much Tom and I love each other. This isn’t puppy love or infatuation or lust or experimentation. I’m gay and in a permanent relationship with Tom. Like his mom says, we’re partners, like being married. Tom and I are both comfortable with that. By the way, his folks are fine with us being boyfriends.
“There’s one more thing. About ‘the talk’ you are going to have with us. We are fine with that. However, part of being gay and what’s involved when parents have a gay son is that gay guys mess around, you know, have sex. Just like straight teen guys mess around with each other sometimes. What I want is to be able to spend the night at Tom’s sometimes and sometimes he’ll spend the night here. Right now Tom and I sleep together almost every night, and sometimes — but not always — we mess around. I think it’s better to call it ‘messing around’ than ‘having sex’ which excludes things that Tom and I aren’t doing and that we’re not interested in doing.”
“Yes, those are some of the things I want to talk to you about. I also want to have Mr. Williams here when we have that talk, so we can establish consistent boundaries.”
“That should make Tom more comfortable about having ‘the talk’ with just you and me.”
“Curt, I want to show you what I’ve done to your bedroom.”
“You’ve changed my bedroom?” I asked.
“Yes, but I think the changes are a good thing.”
We went upstairs and she opened my bedroom door. She’d replaced my bed with a king size bed, and she added a second desk and desk chair.
“Oh my god! It’s fantastic! And perfect, too! Thanks, mom.”
“Do you think the bed is big enough for you and Tom to sleep together?”
I grinned and grabbed her in a big hug.
“Thank you mom! You’ve just answered one of my questions.”
“Just remember, we’re still going to talk about limits, okay?”
“Okay. I guess. Maybe. Sort of.” I smiled, stuck my tongue out at her, and we both laughed. We returned to the kitchen and sat down.
“I saw a counselor, Doctor Hillyer. I talked to him about what Don did to me and my reactions to… to everything. He’d like to talk to you.”
“I know that you were seeing Doctor Hillyer. I had to confirm that it was okay for you to see him, since I’m your mother and it’s my health plan that covered the copays.”
“One of the most interesting things he told me is that there was a good possibility that you knew, or suspected, that I’m gay. He also said that I might be surprised when I talk to you. He was right on both of those things, wouldn’t you say?”
“Yes, I would say, Curt. I would definitely say that. I’d like to sit down with him and talk. I think it’s a good idea for me to understand his perspective about the relationship between you and Tom. And my relationship with Don, too.”
“Okay, I have his business card for you.” I handed it to her. “You can call to make an appointment.”
“Alright, I’ll do that. Now, when will you move home?”
“How about Wednesday afternoon, after my Algebra 2 final is over? That way there won’t be any distraction. It’s after the sentencing hearing, and I can spend all the time I need studying. Tom can help move my stuff on Wednesday. There isn’t that much, it’s mostly clothes and most of those are new ones I bought because I’ve outgrown lots of my old clothes, and my laptop and some books.”
“I’ll be working Wednesday afternoon. You can use your key to get in.”
“What about the alarm? Is my code the same?”
“I think so. Let’s try it now.”
My alarm code worked because I didn’t set it off.
“So what are you going to do now?” Mom asked me.
“I’m going to go back to talk to Mr. and Mrs. Williams and tell them about our meeting. I’m sure Tom will groan about having to go through ‘the talk’ and I’ll ask Mr. Williams to phone you so you two can come up with an evening or weekend day and time that will work for all of us, including Tom and me.”
“What about you and Tom? Do either of you have things in the evening that would interfere?”
“My Algebra 2 final is on Wednesday, so I’d want to wait until that’s over before doing anything else. I’ll be reviewing and studying tonight through Tuesday night, and I’ll be moving back on Wednesday afternoon. But any time starting Wednesday evening, as long as it’s before school starts.”
“And when is that?”
Mom got a pad of paper from the desk in the kitchen and wrote in it.
“You need a smartphone. That’s something Tom and I told Mr. Williams, and he finally gave up and got one. We’re teaching him how to use it.”
“I’m too old for new-fangled gadgets like a smartphone.”
“Then I guess you’ll be looking for a home for the aged where you can move, right?” I smirked.
“I’m not aged, Curt.”
“Then you’re young enough and for sure smart enough to use a smartphone. That way you’ll have everything with you all the time. You won’t have to look for paper and a pen or pencil, you won’t misplace any notes, and you’ll end up agreeing that it’s wonderful just like Mr. Williams says about his now.”
“I’ll ask him to show me his when we meet with you two boys.”
“Good. Now I better get back to see Tom and Mr. and Mrs. Williams.”
We got up and hugged.
“I love you, Mom.”
“I love you, Curt.”
I slowly walked back to the Williams’ house. I wanted to replay what Mom had told me, and how it turned out just the way Doctor Hillyer had predicted. I began to realize how much he’d helped me get over what happened and helped me get ready to tell Mom that I’m gay and about me and Tom. I also realized how much of my meeting with my mom that turned out to be rather anticlimactic.
Before I got to the front door Tom pulled it open.
“Well, what happened?” he shouted.
“It’s all good. Well, almost all good.”
“Get in here and explain yourself,” Tom said, then he grabbed me by my right arm and pulled me into the house.
“Mom! Dad! Curt’s back!” he shouted.
He dragged me into the kitchen and pushed me into a chair. “Sit here at the kitchen table. I’ll get my folks.”
“Not necessary,” his dad said as they came in from the back yard. “We were able to hear you shouting.”
“Hello, Curt. How was your meeting with your mom?” Mrs. W asked.
“It’s almost all good. And I’m okay with the not good part.”
“What’s the not good part, Curt?” Tom asked.
“I’m going to talk about the ‘almost all good’ part first.” I told them about the conversation I had with my mom and how she interrupted me.
“She says she knew all along that I’m gay and that you and I are boyfriends. Seems she knew it before we knew it, Tom.”
“Maybe before you knew it, Curt. I knew it way back in middle school,” Tom said.
“Whatever, she says she knew and that there were something she called markers that are typical of a kid who’s likely to be gay.”
“How come she never asked you about it?”
“She said that if I’d had any suspicions that she thought I might be gay when I went to middle school, I had them carefully hidden away. Sort of like being in the closet but a kind of closet that gay kids have before they realize — and then accept — that they’re gay. Anyway, she never called me on it because she said it would freak me and I’d lock myself in that closet, maybe forever. So she kept her thoughts in her own special closet.”
“So do I have these markers, Curt?” Tom asked.
“Let me think.” I ticked them off on my fingers. “One of them you’re very intelligent and you get good grades. Another is your closest friends have always been boys. Another is you never went out on one-on-one dates with a girl. And another is that there is one boy you’re so close to that that it appears you’re one of a pair of twins, a.k.a. boyfriends.”
“The abbreviation for as-known-as. So, you’re known as my boyfriend and I’m known as your boyfriend.”
“See,” Tom responded, “I told you that you’re my boyfriend, Curt, starting in middle school. Didn’t I?”
“Yes, that you did.”
“What else did she say, Curt?” Mrs. W asked.
“She said she’s going to talk to Doctor Hillyer, that counselor I saw. He told me he’d like to talk to her.”
“That’s very good. Did she say anything about you moving back to live with her?”
“Yes, and what was neat is she showed me what she’d done to my bedroom. I always had a twin bed, and she said because I’m getting taller and since Tom would be sleeping over sometimes she figured I needed a bigger bed, so she got me a king-size bed. It’s very cool. And she got another desk and chair just like the one I had so it’ll be easier for me and Tom to do our homework.”
Mr. Williams looked at me. “Curt, I think we need to talk about some of these plans with you and Tom.”
“That’s the not good part of what Mom told me, Mr. Williams. My mom would like you to call her today to schedule an evening when you two can have ‘the talk’ with me and Tom, and to ‘establish consistent boundaries’ — that’s the way she put it.”
I looked at Tom and smirked. He let out a loud groan.
“Is that okay, Mr. Williams?” I asked.
“That is perfect, Curt. Your mom is a smart lady.”
“She’s a nurse, so I guess she knows about all this sort of stuff. She went through training to learn about how to work with gay kids and adults.”
I could tell Tom was, let’s say, concerned.
“It’s not going to be a problem, Tom. Just think, you’ll be able to say things that might embarrass your dad and my mom.”
“Yeah, as if!” he growled. “The one who’s going to be embarrassed is me.”
“Don’t forget,” I said, “this is very important for us. You need to go in with a positive attitude and not get all defensive.”
“I agree with Curt,” Mr. Williams said.
“But Curt’s mom is a woman,” Tom complained. “How am I not going to be embarrassed?”
“Just watch me,” I replied, “and go with the flow. And remember, she’s a woman.”
“You’re not going to be embarrassed? Bull!”
“All I have to say is, watch and learn.”
“So there’s no way out of this?” Tom asked.
“Nope. And while it might be embarrassing, it’s going to be better to have it soon and listen to what’s being said than to not have it and not know what our boundaries are going to be.”
“Listen to Curt, Tom. What he’s telling you is good advice.”
“I’m still going to hate it, Dad.”
“Well, I’m not going to love it either,” I said, “but it’s something we’re going to have to do.”
“What else did your mom talk about, Curt?” Mrs. W asked. I think she wanted to get Tom off the subject of ‘the talk’ and move on to something else.
“She asked when I’ll move back home. I said Wednesday afternoon after my Algebra 2 final is over.”
“I can help you move, Curt,” Tom said.
“Thanks. I was going to ask you if you could help me. There isn’t that much, mostly clothes and my computer and textbooks and a few other books.”
“I’m interested in seeing what your mom did to your room.”
“I don’t think she changed anything except the bed and adding a second desk and chair. She moved some of the furniture around because the bed’s so much wider than the twin I had, and to make room for the new desk and chair next to mine.”
“One question,” Tom asked. “Why did your mom support Don after he attacked you?”
“I didn’t ask her that question because everything was so positive, but it’s something I will ask her some time later, probably after she’s had her meetings with Doctor Hillyer. But she did say that now she realizes that she was wrong about what Don did to me.”
“Michael, are you going to the sentencing hearing?” Mrs. W asked.
“Yes, I’m going to take Curt. And Tom, if he wants to tag along.”
“I do, Dad. I was a witness and gave testimony in the trial, so I’m interested to hear what the Judicial Panel decided. What do you think the sentence will be?”
“I’d guess he’s going to get probation with a stay-away order to protect Curt. He said he’s moving to L.A. so the stay-away shouldn’t be a problem.”
“How long do you think his probation would be if that’s the sentence?” I asked.
“I’m not sure, Curt. Probably one year, but it could be less.”
“Will there be anything else, like a fine or restitution or something like that?”
“I doubt that there would be a fine. And why would you need restitution?”
“It’s not for me. It’s for my mom, to cover the copays she had to pay when I was in the hospital, when I went to Doctor Curtis to get my new cast and when I go back to have the cast removed, and for Doctor Hillyer.”
“Did you actually pay the copays yourself?”
“No. I think Mom paid them for the hospital, and Doctor Curtis billed her for it the cast. I’m not sure about Doctor Hillyer, but he probably billed her.”
“I’ll phone your mom now to set up our meeting with you and Tom, and I’ll ask her about the copay amounts. With that information I’ll phone Beth Wolman tomorrow morning and make sure those costs will be included in the sentence so Don has to reimburse her.”
“Thanks. I know my mom will appreciate it.”
Tom and I went upstairs.
“Do you have anything you need to do before dinner, Curt?” Tom asked.
“I need to study for the Algebra 2 final that I have on Wednesday. Other than that, I don’t have anything else I need to do until tomorrow when I need to pack my stuff to move home.”
“I’m going to hate to see you go. I’ve gotten used to having you right here across from my room. And in my bed.”
“I think you’ll discover that it’s not so bad. I’ll be sleeping in your bed sometimes and you’ll be sleeping in mine sometimes. We’ll work that out when we have the meeting with my mom and your dad.”
“How about tonight?”
“Is there still room in your bed?” I asked.
“Yes, there is.”
“Then no problem, right?”
“Yeah! No problem, none at all. Now, what time is the sentencing hearing tomorrow?”
“Eleven. Let’s ask your dad what time he wants to leave.”
We went downstairs. We found Mr. Williams in the family room watching TV.
“Uh, Dad, what time will we leave for the courthouse tomorrow?”
“I want to leave a little early so I can talk to Beth about Don paying the copays and any direct medical expenses that weren’t covered by Curt’s mother’s insurance. So, let’s say ten o’clock.”
“Okay, we’ll be ready. Thanks, Dad.”
“Thanks, Mr. Williams,” I said.
We went back upstairs.
“We’re getting our exercise, aren’t we, Curt.”
“Sort of. I’d like to be at school and taking Weight Training, but it might be a while until I can do that. I’ll probably use the pool during PE as soon as my cast comes off. Doctor Curtis gave me a note for the office. That reminds me, I want to make copies for the PE staff and for me.”
“And when’s your cast coming off?”
“I’m going to see Doctor Curtis on the thirty-first after school. That reminds me, I’ll need to have a ride to Martinez. I’m going to call my mom and see if she can take me.”
“So you know it’s me. My name’s on your caller-ID?”
She chuckled. “That’s right. One of the miracles of modern technology. What can I do for you?”
“I’m going to have an x-ray on the thirty-first at four o’clock and if everything is okay my cast will be removed. That’s a Friday. My appointment is with Doctor Curtis at his office in Martinez. I’ll need to have a ride from school to Martinez and then home. Are you working that Friday afternoon?”
“Let me check.
“Unfortunately, I have to work late shift that day. I start at two and won’t be home until about eleven p.m. Is there someone else who can pick you up?”
“I’ll ask Mrs. Williams. Then after my cast is off she can take me to her house and Tom and I can do our homework. Maybe since you’re going to be home so late I can have dinner with the Williams and stay overnight.”
“Okay. If that doesn’t work out, you can call a taxi and I’ll give you money to pay for the cab rides.”
“Thanks. I’ll let you know if I'll need the taxi. There’s lots of time to figure out my transportation because my appointment’s not until three weeks from now.”
“By the way, Mr. Williams phoned and we set up our meeting with you and Tom at seven p.m. on Thursday here at home. I assume that’s okay with your and Tom’s schedules?”
“Yeah, that will work fine. One thing, Tom embarrasses easily, so please go easy on him.”
“Alright, I’ll go easy on both of you. But you know there’ll be a lot of detail that we need to discuss, and some of it is going to be embarrassing for you and Tom and there’s nothing I can do about that.”
“Yeah, I know. I told Tom he could say things that will embarrass you and his dad. He said the only person who’ll be embarrassed is him.”
Mom laughed. “Tell Tom that he shouldn’t be so sensitive. Anyway, I’ll see you and Tom when I get home tomorrow afternoon.”
“Okay. Bye for now.”
“Mom told me that she talked to your dad and we’re having ‘the talk’ on Thursday night at seven at my house. As far as getting my cast taken off, my mom can’t take me to see Dr. Curtis. She’s working late shift that day. I’m going to ask your mom right now.”
“I’m sure my mom will be willing to take us to have your cast cut off,” Tom said.
I went downstairs.
“Mrs. W, on Friday the thirty-first Doctor Curtis is going to x-ray my arm and decide if my cast can come off, which he’s already sure it’ll be okay. My appointment is at four o’clock, and my mom is working late shift from two to eleven, so I need a ride from school to the doctor’s office in Martinez and then back here. Then after Tom and I can do our homework, and if it’s okay may I stay for dinner and sleep over? My mom won’t be home until after eleven p.m.”
“Of course, Curt. For that you don’t even have to ask. Now, let me just check my calendar to make sure I don’t have a conflict on that Friday afternoon.”
Mrs. W uses one of those freebie calendars that come in the mail, and she marks her appointments in the little date boxes. Like my mom, she really needs a smartphone.
“No problem, I’ll pencil that in. So you want me to pick you up right after school that day?”
“Around three-thirty would be great. Tom and I can wait for you at the pick-up area in front of the school. Thanks loads!”
“You’re welcome Curt.”
I went upstairs and sat on Tom’s bed. He was surfing the internet.
“On the thirty-first your mom can pick us up and take us to my doctor’s appointment and then I’ll have dinner here. And I’ll stay overnight with you. If that’s okay with you, Tom.”
“Sheesh! Of course it’s okay. It’s more than okay. I’ll be terminally horny by then because you won’t be here.”
I decided to change the subject, so I looked at his display. “What are you looking for?”
“I’m checking out some of the free Kindle books. There’s a couple sci-fi stories that look interesting.”
“Let me know if they’re good.”
“Trouble is, Curt, if you wait they won’t be free anymore. Just download them and delete them if you don’t like ‘em.”
“I don’t want to clutter up my Kindle library with stuff that I’ll never read.”
“Then just delete them.”
“There’s a way to do that?”
“Well, what?” Tom grinned.
“Come on, dufus, tell me how to do it.”
“I don’t remember. But you can Google it and find the link or maybe even the answer.”
“Alright. Hey, I’m going back to my room to study for my final. I told you that I need an A in this class. I have an A so far, but the final is twenty percent of our grade so getting an A on the final is a must.”
The next morning Tom’s alarm went off at seven. We dragged ourselves out of his bed and took a shower and shaved and brushed our teeth. Normal morning cleanup things. I tried to comb my hair so it looked neat, and it was maybe three-quarters neat. I figured that would be good enough.
We sat down at the kitchen table and I spent the next few minutes yawning.
“Busy night, Curt?” Mr. Williams asked, with a sort of smarmy grin.
“Yeah. I studied for my Algebra 2 final until about one in the morning. I should have just stopped but I was in a section on vectors and I didn’t want to break off until I finished that part.”
“And what about you, Tom?” he asked.
“I started on a new sci-fi story that I downloaded from Amazon. The title is The Martian.”
“And how much did that cost?” he asked.
“Zero. It was one of the free books that I download.”
“Okay. I’m amazed at how many books you’re getting that are free.”
We ate breakfast and after went into the living room to watch replays of Sunday’s NFL preseason games. We started with the Arizona Cardinals playing the New Orleans Saints. The Saints ended up winning 17 to 10, but almost all the scoring was in the first half so it turned into a boring game. Hey, with football I want lots of scoring during all four quarters. So we talked and argued about the upcoming season and who would make it to the Super Bowl and how the 49’ers and Raiders would or wouldn’t do. My vote was on the wouldn’t-do side because, unfortunately, I’ve never had much confidence in the Raiders. To balance things, I picked the 49’ers to go to the playoffs.
Finally it was time to leave and we drove to the courthouse in Martinez.
“Curt, I phoned Beth and requested that the copays your mother had to take care of needed to be included in Don’s sentence, and Beth said it had already been taken care of and would be in his sentence.”
“Okay. I know my mom will be glad that she’ll be reimbursed.”
We entered the courtroom and took our seats. The Bailiff did his announcement and Judge Young sat down at the bench.
“This hearing is to announce the sentence for Donovan Clarey who was found guilty…” I tuned out at this point. I’d heard everything that went on during the trial. All I wanted to hear was the sentence itself.
Finally I heard those magic words. “…and Donovan Clarey is sentenced to two years of supervised probation, and is fined two thousand dollars that will be paid to Virginia Fischer as compensation for the costs she incurred for doctors and hospital charges for the injuries to Curtis Fischer. A keep-away order has been agreed to by Donovan Clarey and is made part of his sentence. This keep-away order states that Donovan Clarey cannot come within three hundred yards of Curtis Fischer during the term of Donovan Clarey’s probation or any extension thereof….” Again I tuned out because the rest of it was about how the supervision of Don’s probation would be handled because he would be moving to Southern California.
When the judge finished and left the courtroom, and Don and his attorney left through a side door, we got up and walked out.
“That was rather anticlimactic,” Mr. Williams said.
“What do you think of the sentence,” I asked.
“It’s about what I expected, but I didn’t expect it to be two years. I thought he’d get one year of probation. The other thing that was a surprise is that there is a keep-away order for Kyle.”
“What? I guess I didn’t hear that. There’s a keep-away order so Don can’t go near Kyle?”
“That’s correct. I’m surprised you didn’t hear it.”
“I guess I sort of turned out. Too much legalese. Is Kyle here?”
“Yes, he and Mrs. Hutchins sat in the back. Oh, there they are,” Tom said.
We saw them standing in the lobby and walked over.
“Hey, Kyle, Mrs. Hutchins,” I said.
“Hi, guys. Hi, Mr. Williams.”
After all of our greetings were finished, Mr. Williams asked if anyone would like to have lunch.
“I’m hungry,” Tom said, “so that’s a very good idea.”
“How about something different,” Mr. Williams said. “Haute Stuff is a few blocks down Main Street and it has great sandwiches and salads.”
We all agreed that would be fine. On the way there Tom and I talked to Kyle about the stay-away orders.
“I was surprised that the judge announced a stay-away order for you, Kyle.”
“My mom had my lawyer request that it be included. She’s not sure that Don is as changed as he claims to be, so she wants me to be protected.”
“You had a lawyer, Kyle?” Tom asked.
“Yeah. I wanted your dad, Tom, but because of conflict of interest he couldn’t have me as a client.”
“He didn’t say anything to me about that,” Tom said.
“Or to me,” I said.
“I guess that’s part of client confidentiality. He gave Mom the names of three lawyers, and she called them and picked one of them. He’s the one who filed my stay-away request with Judge Young. Don also has to pay my legal bills, and yours too, Curt.”
“Really? I didn’t know that.”
Tom poked me in my ribs. “Weren’t you in court today?” He grinned.
“Yeah, but I guess I was tired. I sort of zoned out most of the time when he was reading Don’s sentence. Too much legalese.”
“You didn’t zone out, Curt, you fell asleep,” Tom whispered to me.
“Well, it was all good. The copays for your medical bills are being reimbursed to your mom,” Kyle said.
“That I knew about. Mr. Williams told us he was asking Beth Wolman for that to be included. I didn’t think it was a lot of money, like the two thousand dollars in Don’s sentence. It’s more the principal that he has to pay something for what he did to me that I like.”
We got to the restaurant, and even at that time it was crowded. There were a couple tables open so we were seated right away. The food was great. I had a BLT with avocado, one of my favorite kinds of sandwiches. Their version had thick sliced bacon and perfectly ripe tomatoes and avocado slices on sourdough bread. For dessert I had bread pudding, and it was about the best I’d ever had. While we ate we talked about Kyle’s flight home.
“What time is your flight tomorrow, Kyle?”
“Twelve-fifteen, and I get in to Midway Airport at four. My mom will pick me up and we’ll drive home from there.”
“Where’s Midway Airport?” Tom asked.
“It’s on the south side of Chicago. We live on the north side of Chicago. But it’s sort of a straight shot north from Midway Airport to Niles, and it’s about a 45 minute drive.”
“Where are you flying from?” I asked.
“Oakland. Mrs. Hutchins is driving me.”
“I assume you’ll be glad to get home.”
“Yes and no. I miss my mom and Melissa, but I’m going to miss you guys and the great weather here. I also love Los Arcos High. The attitude of the kids, even knowing that I’m gay, is fantastic. It’s like, ‘so what’ and that’s very cool.”
“You’re still planning on coming here to visit next summer?” I asked.
“Yeah. Melissa wants to come too, and my mom will take some vacation time and be here at the start and the end of summer. Mrs. Hutchins said we can all stay at her house. That’s great because I’ll be able to see Mark again.”
We left the restaurant and started the walk back to the garage and our cars.
“How about you and Ray?” Tom asked.
Kyle smiled. “That’s going great, but I don’t think a long-distance relationship can work. Ray does, so we’ll see. He wants to visit me during spring break. We’re lucky that your spring break here and mine are the same. Then I’ll see him while I’m here next summer.”
“So, did he stay over with you Saturday night?” I asked.
“Yeah, and last night and tonight too.” Kyle blushed.
“Oh my god!” Tom shouted, causing Mr. Williams and Mrs. Hutchins, who were ahead of us, to turn around to see what was going on. We busted up laughing, and they shook their heads and resumed walking.
“So you messed around?” Tom asked.
“My lips are sealed,” Kyle said, and he blushed again.
“Leave him alone, Tom. Otherwise he’s gonna start asking us embarrassing questions.”
“The questions won’t be as embarrassing as my answers,” Tom responded, and that made me and Kyle start laughing again. Tom just got a smug look on his face.
“Smartass!” I stage whispered to him.
“Hey, that’s one of the reasons you love me, Curt!”
That got us laughing again.
“This is one of the reasons I’m going to miss you guys,” Kyle said, “you’re always kidding and laughing and making me laugh.”
“Tom’s dad says he should plan on being a stand-up comedian in case he can’t get any other kind of job.”
“Ah, true that!” Tom said.
We arrived at the garage and said goodbye to Kyle and Mrs. Hutchins. When we got back to the house Mrs. W wanted to know the sentence that Don got, so Tom and Mr. Williams told her. I didn’t say much because I’d tuned most of it out. Whatever.
I phoned Mom at work to tell her about the sentence, but she wasn’t available so I left a message. I think she’d be happy about getting the $2,000 to cover the medical copays.
Well, it was finally Wednesday afternoon and time for my move home. My former home that hadn’t been my home since Don attacked me. I went upstairs and started packing my stuff. I filled my backpack and the suitcase I’d brought, but there were still some things so I went downstairs and got a couple shopping bags from Mrs. W. They were big enough for the rest of my clothes.
I felt good about my Algebra 2 final. Every question and problem seemed to be exactly what I’d studied the last couple days. I was so positive that I’d get an A that I knew I’d be very upset if I didn’t.
I walked across to Tom’s room.
“Hey,” he said. “You all packed?”
“Yeah. I filled up my backpack. It’s the heaviest because it has my laptop and textbooks and other stuff from the desk. The suitcase has my other shoes and clothes, and the rest of my clothes, mostly the new things I bought, are in a couple shopping bags. So I’m good to go.”
“Want to walk to your house?” he asked.
“Sure. I’ll wear my backpack and pull my suitcase, and it would be great if you can carry the two shopping bags.”
“Sounds like a plan, Curt.”
We went downstairs and I said goodbye to Mrs. W and Mr. Williams.
“It’s not goodbye, Curt. It’s so long,” Mrs. W said. “You’ll be back soon, and you’re always welcome here.”
“I agree, Curt. We’ve enjoyed having you here. You’re like a second son, and we love you,” Mr. Williams added.
We all hugged and got a bit teary, and they walked us out to the sidewalk.
Even though we walked slowly, it only took ten minutes to get to my house. Yes, it was once again ‘my house’ and not just my mom’s house.
“Curt, look!” Tom said, pointing across the street at old man Vanvelick’s house.
“Wow! A for sale sign. How cool is that?” I turned to Tom and grinned. “Our nemesis, the guy who started everything by lying to Don about you and me, moved out and his house is for sale.”
“You know,” Tom said, “that was just over a month ago. Can you believe that? Think about everything that’s happened since we were playing horse in your driveway.”
“I know. It’s hard to believe that it happened and that it’s finally over. Well, over except me getting my cast off.”
“And us working on that website.”
“And that we met and are friends with Mark and Kyle and Parker and Ray, and Pat and Callen, and Sara, too.”
“And don’t forget, you made peace with Laura,” Tom reminded me.
“Yeah, I did forget about that.”
“And not to forget that you and I are boyfriends now,” Tom said.
“And we are out, like in we’re gay and out,” I added.
We walked up to the porch and I stood looking at my former home that was now my home again. I put the key in the lock and opened the door, and Tom and I entered. I realized that we were starting a new chapter in our lives. I disabled the alarm, took off my backpack and dropped it and the suitcase on the floor, and Tom set the bags down. I pulled him in a hug and we kissed.
“Welcome home, Curt. This is your home once again,” he said.
“That’s what I was just thinking. One thing that’s different and better is that you’re going to be staying here often and I’m going to be staying at your house often.”
“True that! Uh, what time will your mom be home?”
“Then I have a suggestion. You said that you have a new king size bed. I think we should inaugurate it, don’t you?”
“Oh, yeah! That sounds like a plan, Tom, a very good plan.”
So that’s what we did, and it definitely wasn’t anticlimactic!
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