"You should be heading home, dad's going to be looking for you any time now."
"I know, but I don't really want to. It's been great seeing and talking to you."
"I'm sure we'll work something out. See if you can think of anything before you come over tomorrow."
Jerry grabbed Alex and hugged him again.
"Come on then you'd best be getting home."
"Ok, I'll see you tomorrow right?"
"I didn't think I'd get to hear you call me that again."
"I know and I'm sorry about leaving you but I didn't have a choice."
"I know. Ok, enough of this soppy stuff, you need to go be with your boyfriend and I need to get home."
Jerry and Alex left Rick's and headed back out to the party. As they got closer, Jerry started to move away from Alex.
"I'll see you tomorrow." said Jerry.
With that Jerry started to run off towards his house leaving Alex looking for Justin, Rick and Alan.
Jerry was feeling happy walking home. That quickly changed as he walked into the house to see his father in the living room.
“And where have you been?” asked Tom.
“I told mom I was going to the park to get a bit of fresh air.”
“And that’s where you’ve been? All this time?”
“I haven’t been gone that long dad, but yes, I was at the park all this time. Is something wrong?”
“I hope I don’t find out you went to that street party, especially after I told you not to go.”
“You won’t dad. I went to the park just like I said.”
“Alright, Jacob called while you were out and asked if you could spend some time with Callum. I said it would be fine and arranged to take you over when you were ready; you’ll have your tea with them. I’ll pick you and Callum up later for a meeting with Vicar Stephens.”
Jerry, knowing it was pointless to argue with his dad simply said, “I’ll go and have a shower and get ready.”
“Don’t take too long, I’ve got things I want to do.”
Jerry headed upstairs, picking a towel up as he went into the bathroom. He stripped off and jumped into the shower, quickly washing his hair and body before getting out and drying off. He wrapped the towel around his waist, picking his clothes up before heading to his bedroom to get dressed. Knowing his father expected him to be dressed properly when seeing Vicar Stephens, Jerry put on some of his good clothes before going downstairs to let his father know he was ready.
Tom got his keys and they both got into the car and headed over to Callum’s house. Jerry was glad he was going to Callum’s, he couldn‘t wait to see the look on his face when he told him about Alex and Justin.
“I’ll be back around six to pick the two of you up, make sure you’re both ready to go when I arrive. I don’t expect to have to wait for you.” Tom said as he pulled to a stop outside Callum’s house.
Jerry got out of the car and knocked on the door. Jacob opened it and said, “Come in Jerry, Callum’s in his room. Let him know tea will be ready soon.”
“Yes Mr Jones, I will.”
After taking his shoes off, Jerry went up to Callum’s bedroom.
“Hey Cal,” he said as he knocked on the bedroom door before entering.
When Jerry went into the bedroom he found Callum sat at his desk which looked out of the window. Callum appeared to have been reading before Jerry entered.
“So what have you been up to today? Did you go to that party after? Or was your dad’s threat enough to stop you?” asked Callum.
“Yeah I went, but that’s not the best part. I got to see Alex. He told me all about what’s happened since his birthday and boy is it massive.”
“Well don’t just sit there like some numpty, spill the beans.”
“Well remember I told you he went to the hospital after I found him bleeding?”
“Well it turns out he was self-harming. Apparently he’s been doing it for a while, his hand slipped that day which made a worse cut than he intended.”
“Wow, that’s serious. So what happened after you got home from the hospital, why did he run away?”
“It turns out dad lied about that part, no surprise. Alex didn’t run away, dad threw him out.”
“What did he do that for? What could Alex have done for your dad to do that?”
“Dad found out Alex’s secret, the reason behind the self-harming. Alex is gay.”
There was silence in the bedroom as Jerry let Callum realise he knew someone else who was gay.
“D… d…. does he know about me?” asked Callum nervously.
“Yes and no. He knows I have a gay friend but he doesn’t know your name.”
“Why did you even mention you had a gay friend at all? He’s bound to work out it’s me and what if my dad finds out, you know he’s going to flip like yours did. Where would I go if he threw me out? Did you even think of that before you ran your mouth off?”
“Cal, please calm down, Alex knows the score, he’s not going to go blabbing to anyone about you, trust me. Let me finish telling you about what happened today and then I hope you’ll see that there is nothing to worry about. When Alex left our house on his birthday he wandered the streets before stopping to sit on a bench somewhere. This woman came up to him and started to talk to him. She offered to take him to her house, Alex accepted and he’s been there ever since. They’ve sort of adopted him. It also turned out that the woman’s son, who goes to our school, is gay as well and he and Alex have hooked up.”
“Before I left, they asked me not to mention their relationship to anyone. I asked them if I could talk to you about it, without mentioning your name. I told them about how you’d come out to me when we were eleven and how I felt you’d benefit from having some gay friends. Alex was ok with it and agreed to meet you tomorrow, if you want to.”
“Wow, I’m sorry for going off on one at you, it’s just I really need to be careful about who knows.”
“I know Cal, and I hope you believe that I would never tell anyone I thought would hurt you.”
“You’re my best friend Jer, if I can’t trust you…. it’s just that hearing someone else knows about me, sort of scared me.”
“I’m sorry as well, but to let you know about them, I had to let them know a little about you. If it wasn’t Alex, I wouldn’t have said anything before talking to you first.”
“Did Alex say when tomorrow we could meet up?”
“He told me to pop around anytime in the afternoon I could get away from dad. Perhaps if we arrange with your dad and mine to go to a park together, they’ll be more likely to let us go.”
“Sounds like a plan. So how did it feel to see your brother again?”
“It was great and the best bit, I got to see him and Justin kiss.”
“Yeah, I asked Justin if he was going to kiss his boyfriend goodbye, after a bit of toing and froing they agreed to kiss. They only pecked each other first off, I wound them up then, saying that I’d done the same with my gran and then the proper snogged, tongues and all. It was wicked cool to see.”
“Wow, I can’t believe you asked to see it. Didn’t it freak you out seeing two boys kissing?”
“Come on Cal, I’ve known about you now for what, two years, do you think if it freaked me out, you and I would be as close as we are?”
“Ok, but why would you want to see it?”
“I was curious, I mean I’ve seen a boy and girl kissing and I wanted to know if there would be much difference seeing two boys do it.”
“Just how curious are you?”
“I don’t know Cal. I know you were certain what you wanted two years ago. Thanks to knowing you, I was sure Alex was gay as well, but at the moment I’m just not sure what I want myself. I don’t know if my feelings for you are because we are good friends, or if there could be more to it. I do know I fancy some of the girls in school, so does that make me bi or is it more complicated than that?”
“Wait, you have feelings for me?”
“Of course I do you doofus. You’re my best friend. What I am trying to say is, I don’t know if that’s all I feel for you, or if there could be more to it. I’m just not so sure of my feelings as you are.”
“You are my best friend as well bud, but we don’t have to decide on anything in a rush. We have plenty of time to work out what our feelings mean.”
Right then Callum’s father called the boys down for tea. Knowing how his father felt about being kept waiting, the boys went down quickly.
“Did your father tell you what time he was coming back to pick you and Callum up Jerry?” asked Callum’s father when they entered the kitchen.
“Dad said he’d be here for six, Mr Jones.”
“That should give you plenty of time to finish your food, do the dishes and get ready to go Callum. I don’t want you dragging your feet and making me look bad.”
Jacob said grace before letting anyone eat. There was never any talking allowed when they were eating in the Jones’ house.
“May I be excused so I can get started on the dishes dad?” asked Callum.
“May I be excused also Mr Jones? I’ll help Callum with the dishes so he’s got time to get ready for when dad comes.”
“You may be excused Jerry, but you are a guest in this house and I don’t expect you to help with the chores.”
“I don’t mind Mr Jones.”
“You may not Jerry, but I do.”
“Is it ok for me to go and talk with Callum while he does the dishes then?”
The boys talked in whispers while Callum quickly washed the dishes. When he was finished they went upstairs again. On the way to his bedroom, Callum grabbed a towel from the airing cupboard.
“I’ll just grab a shower; I’ll be quick, like five minutes. Have a look at some of the drawings I did this morning, they’re in my top desk drawer.”
Jerry went into the bedroom and sat at Callum’s desk, he opened the top drawer and found Callum’s sketch pad. He pulled it out and started to flick through some of the pictures he’d already seen until he came across one he hadn’t.
The picture was of a horse galloping across the sands and waves of a beach. There was plenty of detail in the picture, enough for Jerry to work out the beach was Barry and the horse looked a lot like the one from the adverts on telly.
The next picture was of an underwater world. It looked familiar but he couldn’t work out why. The more he looked at it, the more he noticed, and then he spotted the tail of a mermaid and realised it was a scene from Disney’s Little Mermaid.
Jerry had always thought his best friend was a really good artist, and he knew it was something Callum was passionate about; unfortunately Callum’s father thought it was something one did as a hobby, not as a living. Although he bought sketch pads and a few other things Callum asked for, it was only on condition that Callum’s grades were perfect A’s.
Jerry loved looking through the sketch pads; there was always something that you could lose yourself in. So it was no surprise that he didn’t hear Callum come in.
Being naked in front of boys had always been awkward for Callum, he’d always felt like the other boys would accuse him of looking at their privates, even when he wasn’t. After he had outed himself to Jerry, things got more awkward in the changing rooms. When they were back at Callum’s house one day Jerry asked him why he seemed to have problems in the changing rooms. Callum broke down in tears as he explained how he kept imagining how the other boys might react if they suspected he was looking at them the wrong way.
At that point, knowing they were alone and no one was going to interrupt them, Jerry started to undress in front of Callum. Callum was frozen to the spot, not knowing what was happening. He came to just as Jerry was about to take his briefs off. He asked him what he was doing and Jerry’s answer was simple. ‘I’m proving I don’t worry about what you look at’ as he dropped his briefs to the floor. From that point on, neither Callum nor Jerry had a problem being naked around each other. Callum still felt the same in the school changing rooms but knowing Jerry was there and had his back made things a bit easier.
Rather than put the clothes on he’d worn earlier, which he knew was not good enough for a meeting with the vicar, Callum just wrapped his towel around him to get back to his bedroom. As he got into his room he saw Jerry looking at his sketch pad. He seemed to be lost in one of the drawings. The noise of the bedroom door closing brought Jerry out of his day dreaming.
“Hey, that was quick. These pictures are awesome, definitely some of your best. The horse galloping through the sand is wicked.” Jerry said looking up to see Callum continue to dry off.
“Yeah that’s one of my faves as well.”
“So what have you been doing the rest of the day? Your dad can’t be on you to do anymore school work surely?”
“You know him, but when I showed him this morning that there was no more work I could do until we went back to school, he said I could do what I wanted so long as it was quiet. Mom’s been feeling a little ill so he doesn’t want me disturbing her.”
Callum reached into his wardrobe to get clothes he could wear for the meeting with the vicar, grabbing a pair of boxers and socks at the same time. He dropped the damp towel to the floor so he could get changed.
“Do you have any ideas what this meeting with Stephens is all about?” Callum asked as he put his socks on.
“Not a clue. Knowing how dad has been since Alex’s birthday, it could be anything.”
“So long as it’s not another one of his lectures on the sins of homosexuality, I’ll cope.”
“Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s not going to be one of those lectures we can just sit and nod through. After all it’s not very often we get special meetings with Stephens.”
“True.” Callum replied pulling his boxers on. “Going back to your brother, is he still self-harming?”
“I’m not sure it’s something he’s going to just be able to quit just like that. From what I understand, it’s a bit like bulimia or anorexia, something you have to deal with for a long time.”
“That sucks. It must have been so hard for him not knowing whether being gay was right or wrong. I really am lucky on that score. And having you as my best friend makes me extra lucky.”
“What makes you say that?”
“I’ve had you to talk to now for two years about things. It’s helped me stay sane. I could easily have ended up like Alex, cutting myself to try and make me straight.”
“I guess I didn’t look at it like that.”
“Ok, I’m ready, we should go and wait for your dad, don’t want to make him upset by dragging our feet. The sooner this begins, the sooner it’s going to finish.”
Callum headed out of the bedroom and down the stairs with Jerry close behind.
“We’re going to wait for Jerry’s dad by the front gate dad.”
“Make sure you pay attention tonight and behave yourself.”
Both boys made their way out to the gate to wait for Tom to arrive. They weren’t there long before he pulled up to the pavement. They got in quietly and Tom pulled away, heading for the church.
The meeting with Vicar Stephens was just as boring as predicted and centred on some part of the bible that was concerned with being a good Christian. Vicar Stephens threw in a few quotes to back his arguments up and questioned the boys on some of the things he had talked about. Both boys knew it was pointless questioning the interpretations of the passages the vicar had chosen to back up his lectures, so they just answered how they were expected.
As time wore on the boys tried not to show how bored they were, knowing that any sign that they weren’t giving one hundred percent would get back to their fathers.
It was around nine thirty when Vicar Stephens finally finished. Tom had turned up just before to take them home.
“Can I offer you a lift home Vicar Stephens?” asked Tom.
“That would be great thanks Tom. I am not that fond of catching public transport and Janet has the car tonight.”
“If it’s ok with you, I’ll drop Callum at his home first.”
“That’s fine with me Tom.”
All four headed to the car. The boys sat in the back, leaving Vicar Stephens to sit in the front. The ride was silent until they pulled up outside Callum’s.
“Is it alright if Jerry comes over tomorrow Mr Wilshere? I thought we could spend some time in the park, if that’s alright with you and my dad?”
“I don’t see it being a problem Callum; have your father call me later if he’s ok with it.”
“Yes Mr Wilshere.”
With that Callum got out, “Night Mr Wilshere, Vicar Stephens. See you tomorrow Jerry.”
“See you Cal.” Jerry said as Callum closed the car door.
“I wish you wouldn’t call him that Jerry. His name is Callum.”
“Sorry dad.” He wanted to mention how his name was Thomas not Tom but knew better.
Driving towards the vicar’s house, Tom and Vicar Stephens were talking between them. Jerry switched off and was watching out the window when everything went black.
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