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  1. Ronyx

    Chapter 13

    When Donnie stopped in front of Andre’s trailer to let him out, Andre’s mother opened the door and peeked out. When Andre exited the car, she hollered out for him to invite Kyle and Donnie inside. “Momma wants to meet you,” he said nervously. “You only have to stay a minute.” Donnie looked at Kyle, shrugged his shoulders and got out of the car. When they entered the small, cramped trailer, Kyle looked around. Two small children were sitting on a sofa watching a Shrek movie. The room was neat and tidy, and pictures of Andre’s family adorned the walls. Andre’s mother extended her hand and said, “I’m Mrs. Tyler, but everyone calls me Mom Mabel.” She was a small woman wearing a blue dress that looked two sizes too big for her. Kyle thought that when she was younger, she was probably very pretty. In fact, there was a striking resemblance between her and Andre. Andre stepped forward and introduced Kyle and Donnie. She turned off the television and told the two children to go play in their room. When one started to whine, she gave her a menacing look and they scrambled to their room. “Please sit down, Boys,” she said and pointed to the sofa. Kyle and Donnie sat down, and then Andre asked Kyle to scoot over toward Donnie so he could sit down. Andre’s mother went into the kitchen and returned with three sodas. After handing them to the boys, she sat down in an old, blue recliner. She eyed the boys carefully before asking, “How is Buddy?” Andre explained that he was feeling much better, especially after meeting Donnie and Kyle. “He laughed today,” remarked Andre excitedly. “I haven’t seen him laugh in a long time.” She studied Kyle and Donnie carefully, and then said, “Maybe friendship is just what the doctor ordered.” She then asked the boys how they had met. Kyle nervously explained how his father was the one who hit Buddy with is car. “It wasn’t his fault,” she explained. “Buddy was doing something he shouldn’t have been doing.” She looked threateningly at Andre and said adamantly, “If I ever find out you’re messing with drugs, remember what I said.” “Yes, Momma,” replied Andre. “You brought me into this world, and you can take me out of it.” His mother sat back in the recliner and let out a loud laugh. They sat and talked as they sipped on their sodas. Mom Mabel wanted to know about Kyle and Donnie. She said her son didn’t have many friends, and she was pleased that they had befriended him. Kyle and Donnie glanced quickly at each other when she asked, “Are you boys gay like my Andre?” “Momma!” shrieked Andre. “You can’t ask them that!” “Fiddle faddle,” she laughed. “What’s the harm in asking?” She leaned forward and stared into Kyle and Donnie’s eyes. “I’ve known my boy was gay from an early age.” “Momma!” Andre screeched again. She looked over at an embarrassed Andre and said, “Hush, Child.” Andre sat back and glanced quickly over at Kyle and Donnie. He was afraid his mother was being too nosy. “I’m not judging,” she remarked as she smiled at Kyle and Donnie. “I’m a Christian woman, and I go to church every Sunday morning.” She glanced at Andre. “He quit going a couple of years ago.” “That’s cause they hated me being there,” he spat angrily. “That’s their problem,” she replied. “Someday we’re all going to have to stand before our God, and I believe the scripture where it says judge not lest you be judged.” She folded her hands in front of her almost as in prayer. “I’m not perfect, and God knows I’ve done some sinning in my lifetime. But I don’t want the Good Lord to ask me why I said this about one person, or that about another. It isn’t any of my business what people do so long as they have love in their heart when they do it. God Almighty will someday decide if it was right or wrong.” “And Jesus himself will be sitting on his right side,” she continued as the boys listened to her attentively. “That’s what the Good Book says. And he’ll look down from his throne and say, “I asked my children to do one thing, and that is love each other as I have loved you. Did you love your fellow man?’” Tears started to appear in her eyes. “I want my heart to be filled with love, not hate. Jesus himself is going to ask why our hearts were filled with so much hate.” She looked around at the small, cramped trailer. “I don’t have a lot, as you can see. But the Good Lord blessed me with an abundance of love. I share that love with my children, grandbabies, family, friends and strangers.” She smiled warmly and said, “It’s the only thing I got to give.” She leaned forward and stared directly into Kyle and Donnie’s eyes and said, “So I asked you if you are gay because I wanted to love you as you are.” She looked tearfully at Andre and said almost reverently, “Just like I love my boy.” Kyle glanced quickly at Andre when he wiped tears from his eyes. Kyle turned back toward Andre’s mother and said, “Yes, Ma’am, I’m gay.” “Me, too,” remarked Donnie. She sat back, smiled and replied, “Good.” They continued to chat for about fifteen more minutes. Besides asking questions about them, she related a few comical stories about Andre. Most were about how he would do things as a small child to get attention. “One time,” she laughed, “when he was about six, he put on a pair of my Sunday church high heels and a big, purple feather hat and paraded up and down the street.” Kyle laughed uproariously when he looked at Andre’s embarrassed face. “Momma!” shrieked Andre. “Stop!” As he sat on the tattered sofa between Andre and Donnie, Kyle felt a sense of comfort and a feeling of being at home. He let his hand drop from his lap onto the sofa where Andre’s hand was resting. His hand brushed gently against Andre’s hand. The subtle gesture didn’t go unnoticed by Andre’s mother as she looked at Kyle and gently smiled. Donnie looked at his watch and announced that he had to go. “My parents have a nine o’clock curfew,” he explained. “Oh, dear,” remarked Mom Mabel when she noticed it was 8:50. “Would you like me to call your home?” He explained that they would not get mad when he told them where he was. As they were leaving, Andre’s mother hugged them tightly. “You better come visit with us again,” she said. She kissed Kyle’s forehead and whispered softly, “Especially you.” On the way to the car, Andre grabbed Kyle’s arm and stopped him. “I’m sorry, Guys,” he apologized. “Mom can be a little overbearing.” Donnie asked, “She loves you right?” Andre nodded his head. “Then it’s all good.” The boys quickly hugged before Donnie and Kyle got in the car and pulled away. When they were out of the mobile park, Donnie turned to Kyle and exclaimed excitedly, “He’s really into you!” Kyle gave him a puzzled look and asked, “Who?” Donnie laughed, “Are you blind as a bat? Andre.” “What?” “He didn’t stop looking at you all night,” said Donnie. He started sing, “Kyle’s got a boyfriend. Kyle’s got a boyfriend.” “Would you shut up,” laughed Kyle. “He doesn’t.” He then gave Donnie puzzled look and asked, “Does he?” Donnie laughed and shook his head. “I’ll tell you what,” replied Donnie. “It’s a little late, but do you want to go back to my house? We’ll grab some snacks and go to my room.” He grabbed his stomach and said, “I’m starving like Marvin.” “I have to call home,” replied Kyle. He took out his phone and called his mother. After warning him to be home by eleven, she gave him permission. “Thanks, Mom, love you,” responded Kyle as he hung up. Donnie laughed and said, “It’s not cool, Dude, to tell your Mom you love her.” Kyle gave him a puzzled look. “Why?” Donnie shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t know, but I think it’s in the teen manual somewhere.” They both started laughing. Five minutes later, they were pulling into Donnie’s driveway. His home was like Kyle’s home. It was a large brick, two-story house on a well-manicured and landscaped yard. A large boxer lying on the porch stood, wagged its tail and scrambled down the stairs. When Donnie got out of the car, the dog jumped excitedly on him. “Down, Sinbad!” The boxer sat and continued to wag his tail. He started to get up and jump on Kyle when he walked around the car, but Donnie admonished him again. When he knelt to pet him, the dog nudged him and almost knocked him down. “He’s beautiful,” remarked Kyle as he petted him. The dog lifted his head and licked Kyle’s cheek. “He likes you,” remarked Donnie. “Of course, he likes everybody.” He laughed and tore off toward the porch. The dog sprang up and chased him. When they got to the porch, Sinbad jumped on Donnie and knocked him to the ground. Kyle approached and laughed. Donnie opened the door, and Sinbad went running in. “Come on,” said Donnie as he motioned for Kyle to follow him. He threw his book bag on the foyer floor and shouted out, “Hey, Mom! Dad!” “In the den,” a woman’s voice hollered back. Kyle and Sinbad followed Donnie into a room off the kitchen. Donnie’s parents were sitting closely together watching a large television. They smiled when the boys approached. His mother looked at the clock on the wall and said, “It’s late.” “Sorry,” replied Kyle. He then explained that he had been at the hospital visiting Buddy. They were already aware of Buddy getting hit by Kyle’s father. The neighborhood watch had sent out an email informing them of the accident. “Who’s your friend?” asked Donnie’s father as he stood, approached Kyle and shook his hand. “Kyle Caldwell, Sir,” replied Kyle. “No shit!” exclaimed Mr. Dennis. “You Jeff Caldwell’s boy?” Kyle’s face reddened as he said, “Yes, Sir.” Mr. Dillon had the boys sit, and he relayed how he and Kyle’s father played golf on Sunday afternoon. He said his father had talked about him, so he was thrilled to finally get to meet him. “We gotta watch the old bird, though,” laughed Mr. Dillon. “He’ll shave a few points off his score if we aren’t paying attention.” He looked over at Donnie and asked, “How come you haven’t invited him home before?” “We just met a few days ago,” replied Kyle. He stood and pulled Kyle to his feet. “We’re going to my room.” Kyle waved to Donnie’s parents as he followed behind Donnie into the kitchen. After grabbing four sodas, two bags of potato chips and a box of Oreo cookies, they headed up to Donnie’s room. Sinbad immediately jumped on the king-sized bed. Kyle looked around the room. “Jesus,” laughed Kyle. “Don’t you ever clean your room?” Clothes were scattered all around. It looked as if Donnie stepped out of them and left them were they lay. Video games were cluttering his computer desk, and school books were stacked in a pile in the corner. It appeared that the room hadn’t been tidied in months. “What can I say,” Donnie replied as he kicked a pile of clothes under the bed. After tossing some sweat pants and a shirt off the bed into the open closet door, he sat down on the bed. Sinbad instantly started licking his face. “Stop it!” he squealed as he pushed the dog away. Sinbad jumped down and lay atop a pile of clothes. Donnie patted the bed and told Kyle to join him. “Are you sure it’s safe?” laughed Kyle. Donnie responded, “I may not be neat, but I’m clean.” He laughed, raised his arm, smelled is armpit and said, “See.” “I’ll take your word for it,” laughed Kyle as he sat on the bed. Donnie handed him a soda. He then opened a bag of chips, reached in and took out a handful before handing the bag to Kyle. “So, what do you think?” Donnie asked as he toed off his shoes and lay back on the bed. “I think you’re a pig,” laughed Kyle as he toed off his shoes, lay back and ate a handful of chips. “No,” remarked Donnie, “Not my room. What do you think about Andre?” “I’m really confused,” replied Kyle. “When I went to the cafeteria with him, all he talked about was how Buddy liked me.” Donnie gave him a puzzled look. “Buddy?” Kyle explained how Buddy had told Andre he had a crush on him. “Dude,” laughed Donnie. “Someone does have a crush on you. But it’s Andre.” He studied Kyle for a minute. “So, what do you think about that?” “I’m not sure,” replied Kyle skeptically. Donnie asked, “Is it because he’s black?” Kyle shook his head. “No,” he replied. “That doesn’t bother me.” “Is it because he’s poor?” Donnie knew he’d struck the truth when Kyle didn’t respond and looked away. He sat up and looked into Kyle’s eyes. “So that’s it, huh?” Kyle stood and paced around the room. “I don’t know.” Donnie rolled his eyes, and Kyle confessed, “Okay. Maybe just a little.” “You’re shit, you know that,” scoffed Donnie. “I know,” lamented Kyle as he sat back down on the bed. “Would you go out with him if he liked you?” “In a heartbeat,” responded Donnie. “Besides being cute as hell, he’s a genuinely nice guy. Not many of them exist anymore.” “It wouldn’t bother you that he lives in a trailer?” “Why should it?” “I don’t know,” replied Kyle. “It just seems we wouldn’t have a lot in common.” “Are you kidding!” said Donnie excitedly. “You guys talked all night. You didn’t seem to have a problem.” “I know,” replied Kyle. “But...” He stopped before saying something he knew he probably shouldn’t. He would have to do a lot more thinking before he could understand his feelings. He sat back on the bed and asked, “Can we talk about something else?” “Sure,” replied Donnie as he opened the Oreo box, took out a few cookies and handed it to Donnie. “What do you want to talk about?” “How about you?” “Me?” “Yeah, you,” replied Kyle. “How come you came up to me the other day in the cafeteria?” Donnie responded, “I told you. I just thought we had something in common. You know, being gay and all.” “Okay,” said Kyle, “But you’re like this super incredible guy, yet you don’t seem to have a lot of friends. I mean you’re really cute...” He paused as his face began to redden. “You live like this. You have a car. How many guys our age have cars?” “Yeah,” laughed Donnie. “But it has my dad’s name all over the side. That’s not really impressive.” Kyle stared into Donnie’s eyes. “How come you don’t have a dozen guys beating down your door?” “Fair question,” replied Donnie as he shoved a couple cookies in his mouth. “Thar aw ash hawls,” he said. Kyle fell back and laughed. “What did you say?” Donnie swallowed the cookies and said, “They are all assholes.” He sat up and crossed his legs Indian style. “I used to have a ton of friends.” “What happened?” “In the seventh grade,” he continued, “I told Ryan Applegate that I was gay. I thought he was a friend, and I could trust him. I just needed someone to talk to about how I was feeling.” “What happened?” “The next day he went to school and told everyone what I said.” He fell back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling for a minute. “Everyone started calling me a fag. They would do things like hide my books. Someone poured a bottle of ketchup in my locker.” “Sorry,” remarked Kyle sadly. “Naw,” replied Kyle. “It’s okay. It made me stronger. I vowed I’d never be like those assholes. So now I pick my friends carefully.” “Is that why you came up to me in the cafeteria?” Donnie said, “I passed you in the hall after that picture came out of you and Brad. I saw the hurt in your eyes. I knew you needed a friend.” Kyle blinked away tears. “Thanks,” he replied. “I did.” Kyle laughed and jumped off the bed. “This shit is getting too deep.” He walked over to his computer, turned it on and grabbed a video game. He held it up to Kyle. “Wanna play?” “Sure,” replied Kyle enthusiastically. “I have to warn you, I’m pretty good.” “Bring it on!” shouted Kyle as he pulled up a chair for Kyle. Two hours later, their friendship was cemented for life. * * * * * * Andre was surprised to see Buddy sitting in a chair when he entered his room. Buddy looked up and smiled broadly when he noticed his friend. “Hey,” he said cheerfully. “It’s about time you got your ass here.” Andre remarked, “You seem happy today.” He sat on the bed and looked down at Buddy. “God, Andre,” cooed Buddy. “He’s a dream!” “See,” laughed Andre. “I told you if you talked to him, you’d like him.” Buddy gave his friend a puzzled look. “I’ve never talked to him before. I only met him last night.” He gave Buddy a puzzled look. “Who?” He thought he was talking about Kyle. He was confused because Buddy said they had already talked in class. Buddy looked up dreamily and replied, “Donnie.”
  2. Ronyx

    Chapter 12

    “Why are we going there?” asked Kyle when he saw the hospital in the distance. Donnie responded, “It’s the right thing to do.” “What do you mean, it’s the right thing to do?” Donnie looked over at the puzzled look on Kyle’s face. “Let me park first, okay. Then we’ll talk about it.” He parked the car in the parking garage, and Kyle walked quietly beside him. He couldn’t understand why Donnie was insistent on seeing Buddy. To his knowledge, Donnie had never met him, and he had only talked to Buddy on a couple of occasions. Besides, he might resent seeing the son of the man who hit him with his car. When they entered the lobby, Kyle grabbed Donnie’s arm. “Hold on,” he said as he stepped around in front of him. “Why do you want to do this?” “Because you do,” he replied. Kyle gave him a puzzled look and exclaimed, “What?” Donnie looked around, and then led Kyle to a cushioned bench against the wall. After sitting, he turned to Kyle and said, “You’ve got this Buddy guy on your mind. You told me you haven’t been able to sleep for two nights.” Kyle nodded his head. “Besides, he’s one of us. Right now, he probably feels he’s all alone in this world. Maybe he needs our support.” Kyle reminded him, “He has Andre.” Donnie replied, “That’s an army of one. Maybe he needs to know more people are on his side. You said his own mother has deserted him.” “I don’t know,” replied Kyle skeptically. “We can’t just walk in there and start talking to him.” “Why not?” asked Donnie. “I came up to you in the cafeteria the other day and started talking to you. Now we’re friends.” Kyle responded, “What if he doesn’t want friends?” “Too bad,” replied Donnie as he rose and grabbed Kyle’s hand. “What did you say his room number was?” Kyle kept staring at Donnie as they rode the elevator to Buddy’s floor. He seemed so sure that they were doing the right thing. He, however, was worried that Buddy might tell them to get out of his room when they got there. He knew that if he was in a similar situation, he wouldn’t want strangers visiting him. When they exited the elevator, they passed the waiting room. Andre was curled up on one of the small leather sofas. His coat was balled into a pillow, and his head was resting on it. He opened his eyes and jumped to his feet when he saw Kyle. “Hey,” he smiled as he approached. He glanced skeptically at Donnie. “What are you doing here?” Kyle looked over at Donnie. “This is his big idea,” he replied. He introduced Donnie to Andre, and Andre reluctantly shook Donnie’s extended hand. “Kyle told me about you,” remarked Donnie. Andre quickly glanced over at Kyle. Donnie laughed and added, “It was all good. Buddy’s lucky to have a friend like you.” A saddened expression appeared on Andre’s face. “I don’t feel so lucky,” he replied. “Buddy isn’t talking to me.” He walked over and sat down on the sofa. Kyle sat beside him while Donnie pulled up a chair. Kyle asked worriedly, “What’s wrong?” Andre sighed deeply before speaking. “You gotta understand Buddy. He’s had a rough life. Nothing’s ever gone right for him.” He looked at Kyle and blinked tears from his eyes. “I’ve been trying to make him dance, you know, make him believe.” “What?” asked Kyle. Andre laughed nervously. “Never mind,” he said. “That’s something between me and Buddy.” He looked sadly at Kyle and tears started to fall onto his cheeks. “This time I think he’s really given up.” He started to cry uncontrollably. “He won’t even talk to me. He told me last night to get out of his room. I’ve been lying out here all night.” His head feel onto Kyle’s shoulder as he continued to sob. Kyle looked over at Donnie. He was surprised to see tears in Donnie’s eyes. Hesitantly, Kyle put his arms around Andre and held him. After a minute, Donnie suggested, “Maybe he’ll feel better if Kyle and I visit him.” Andre wiped his face and looked over at Donnie. He asked, “Are you a friend of his from school? I don’t remember him telling me about you.” Donnie smiled nervously and replied, “I’ve never met Buddy.” “Then why are you here?” Donnie looked around and then leaned forward. “Okay,” he replied, “This is going to sound a little crazy, but we’re all gay here, right?” Andre and Kyle nodded their heads. “And Buddy is gay, too. Right?” Andre gave Donnie a puzzled look and asked, “What does that have to do with anything?” “We’ve got to stick together,” replied Donnie. “When one of us hurts, we all hurt.” Andre giggled and said, “You sound like me now. Buddy’s always telling me that I’m always too optimistic.” Tears welled up in his eyes. “But sometimes you just got to dance, even when you don’t feel like it.” “Yeah,” replied Donnie excitedly. Kyle gave them a puzzled look. It was if they were speaking a language he didn’t understand. “Sometimes you gotta dance.” He looked worriedly at Andre. “Do you think he’d want to see me and Kyle?” Andre replied, “He was in a pretty nasty mood last night. I really doubt it.” “Too bad,” responded Donnie as he stood. “He’s going to.” He held his hand out to Kyle and helped him to his feet. “Come on.” Kyle grabbed Donnie’s arm when he started for the door. “Maybe this isn’t a good idea.” “Why?” asked Donnie. “One of our brothers is lying hurt in a hospital bed. He thinks the world has turned on him. Maybe, just maybe, he needs us.” He grabbed Kyle’s hand. “Let’s go.” They stopped when they came to Buddy’s hospital room. It was dark inside. Only a small light over the sink was on. Buddy was lying in a fetal position with his back to the door. Donnie nodded toward Andre, indicating that he wanted him to go into the room first. They followed him as Andre lightly tapped Buddy on the shoulder. “Buddy?” he said softly. “Are you awake?” Buddy muttered into this pillow, “Go away, Andre. I told you last night not to come around anymore.” Tears appeared in Andre’s eyes as he said gently, “I brought some friends to see you.” Buddy sat up, looked at Kyle and Donnie and screamed, “Get out! All of you, get out!” Andre turned and ran from the room. Kyle hurried from the room to find Andre weeping in the hallway. “See, I told you,” he cried. “I told you he didn’t want visitors.” Kyle took his hand and led him to the waiting area. He sat beside him on the sofa as Andre wept. Reluctantly, he put his arm around Andre’s back. Andre’s head fell onto Kyle’s shoulder as he continued to cry. Meanwhile, in Buddy’s room, Donnie and Buddy stared at each other. Finally, Buddy asked, “Who the fuck are you? I don’t even know you.” “I’m your worst nightmare,” responded Donnie angrily, “if you don’t quit acting like some pissy little drama queen.” Buddy’s eyes widened, “What? Who the fuck are you? I’m going to call for a nurse to have them take you out of here.” Donnie reached down and grabbed the remote before Buddy could get it. “Listen,” Donnie responded as he walked over and pulled open the curtains to the room. “It’s like a dungeon in here.” Buddy squinted his eyes as the sun blinded him. Donnie walked over and stood before his bed. “Okay, maybe this wasn’t a good idea, and this whole thing has started badly.” “Got that right,” muttered Buddy as he tried to sit up in bed. Donnie pulled the pillow from behind him and fluffed it up before replacing it on the bed. Buddy lay back and stared at Donnie. “Why are you here?” “Fair question,” replied Donnie. He looked down, smiled and said, “I don’t have a fucking clue why I’m here. It’s just something I thought I should do.” Buddy asked, “Are you Kyle’s boyfriend?” From the time he had entered the room with Kyle, he had assumed that they were perhaps boyfriends. He didn’t understand why Kyle would have the nerve to bring him to his hospital room. “No,” laughed Donnie. “We’re just friends. In fact, I only met him a couple of days ago at school.” Buddy asked, “You go to our school?” He couldn’t remember ever seeing him in the halls. “Yeah,” replied Donnie. “You know, it’s funny but I don’t think I’ve ever seen you before.” “Yeah, well,” responded Buddy. “I keep a low profile. I ain’t got too many friends there.” He turned his head and pretended to be falling asleep. “Maybe you should go now. You’ve done what you came here to do.” “No, I didn’t” replied Donnie adamantly. “I came here to be your friend.” Buddy looked at Donnie angrily and said, “I don’t need no friends. Now why don’t you leave.” Kyle laughed and said, “There you go, being a pissy little drama queen again.” Buddy balled his fists and pointed them at Donnie. “If I wasn’t laying up in this bed, I’d knock the shit out of you.” Donnie laughed again. “Just like you did Brad?” “You mother fucker!” spat Buddy as he tried to sit up. “I’ll kill you!” Donnie put his hand on Buddy’s chest and pushed him back onto the bed. “You aren’t going to do anything,” he said as he pulled the cover over Buddy’s chest. “You already said you don’t have too many friends. You can’t go killing off the few you have.” Buddy turned his head away from Donnie. “You’re an annoying mother fucker, you know that?” “Yeah,” laughed Donnie. “But I’m your annoying mother fucker. Get used to it.” “Fuck you,” muttered Buddy. Donnie laughed again and replied, “Maybe later.” * * * * * * After Andre regained his composure, he left and went to the restroom to dry his face. Kyle considered going to what was happening inside Buddy’s room. It had been about ten minutes, and Donnie still hadn’t returned. He also couldn’t figure out why Donnie was so adamant about visiting Buddy. Maybe Donnie did have the right idea. Do you really have to know someone closely to visit them when they are hurt? After all, Buddy was a classmate. They had sat beside each other in class. Even though they weren’t the best of friends, they still shared a same bond. Donnie was reaching out to Buddy, and he didn’t even know him. Andre also appeared in need of support. In fact, he seemed much more fragile than Buddy. Buddy seemed like the kind of person who could take care of himself. What little Kyle knew of him, he already appeared to be doing that. Andre, on the other hand, seemed to need someone. He felt that Buddy was probably all that Andre had, and he could tell there was a strong, brotherly bond between them. He looked up and smiled when Andre walked back into the room. He appeared vulnerable as he sat down closely next to Kyle. Kyle couldn’t resist grabbing his hand and asking him, “Are you alright?” Andre smiled slightly and nodded his head. “I’m glad you came today,” he said as he squeezed Kyle’s hand tightly. “I’m so worried about Buddy, I think I’m going to lose my mind.” “He’ll be okay,” assured Kyle as he gripped Andre’s hand. He looked at the clock on the wall. It was almost five o’clock. He needed to call home and inform his parents where he was. After excusing himself, he walked out into the hall to call his mother. As he talked to her, he walked past Buddy’s room and peered inside. He was surprised to see that Donnie had pulled a chair to the side of Buddy’s bed, and they appeared to be talking. He watched for a few seconds before going back to the waiting room. Andre smiled when he entered the room. “Everything okay at home?” “Yeah,” replied Kyle as he sat down beside him. “I told them where I was. They said it was okay.” He looked at Andre and asked, “Are you hungry? I told Mom I was going to eat in the hospital cafeteria.” Andre shook his head and replied, “I don’t have any money. If you and Donnie want to go eat, I’ll just wait here.” “Nonsense,” said Kyle as he stood and grabbed Andre’s hand. “I’ve got enough money for both of us.” Andre tried to pull away, but Kyle kept a tight grip on his hand. “Let’s go see if Donnie wants to join us.” When they entered, Buddy was lying on his bed laughing at something Donnie had said. Donnie looked at Andre and laughed. “Buddy told me about this freakish little dance you two do,” he said laughingly. Andre started to say something, but Buddy spoke first. “I told him it’s something me and you do. I didn’t say it was freakish.” “Sounds freakish,” laughed Donnie. “Madonna is someone my mother would dance to.” Kyle looked over at Andre. It appeared he was blushing, though it was hard to tell. He could tell he was extremely embarrassed. He walked over and stood protectively beside Andre. “We’re going downstairs to get something to eat,” he said to Donnie. “You want to join us?” Donnie looked at the clock on the wall and asked, “Is it that late already?” “I called home and Mom said I could stay as late as I want,” informed Kyle. “So, do you want to get something to eat with us?” “Naw,” replied Donnie. He looked at Buddy and laughed. “They’ll be bringing this sorry fucker’s dinner soon. I’ll just eat some of his.” Andre’s eyes widened. He thought for sure that Buddy would say something because Donnie had called him a fucker. He was surprised when Buddy said, “I ordered a hamburger and fries. The fries are always cold, so you can have them.” He shrugged his shoulders when Donnie insisted that he would eat the hamburger instead. “Come on,” said Kyle as he grabbed Andre’s hand and pulled him from the room. Buddy and Donnie seemed to be getting along, and he didn’t want to ruin it by insisting that Donnie join them. At the cafeteria, Andre said he didn’t wanted anything to eat. He went instead to a table and sat down while he waited for Kyle. The special of the day was a barbequed pulled pork sandwich and potato wedges. Kyle ordered two. As he headed to the cashier, he noticed slices of dutch apple pie in a dessert stand. He placed two on the tray, and then he paid for the meal. Andre frowned when Kyle placed the plate in front of him. “I told you I didn’t want anything.” “Well, I didn’t want to eat alone,” replied Kyle as he took a bite of the sandwich. He held it up and remarked, “This isn’t half bad. Try it.” Hesitantly, Andre took a bite. Soon, he was eating as if it were his last meal. “Slow down,” laughed Kyle as Andre licked the barbeque sauce from his fingers. He had a small drop of sauce on the corner of his lip. Kyle quickly looked away when he felt an urge to lean over and lick it off. As they ate the apple pie, Kyle asked Andre, “So what is it with you and Buddy?” Andre spent several minutes telling him about the close relationship they shared. “I’m all he’s got,” he said. He left out the part about him and Buddy being boyfriends. He wanted Kyle to believe that Buddy was free to date someone. He hoped that someone would be Kyle. “He really likes you, you know,” said Andre as he wiped his mouth with a napkin. Kyle gave him a puzzled look. “You told me that once before. We hardly know each other.” “Buddy’s had a crush on you since he saw you in school the first day,” he confessed. He looked down at the table, looked up timidly and added, “I can see why.” “This is really insane,” responded Kyle. “Why would he have a crush on me?” “God!” remarked Andre excitedly. “What’s not to like.” Kyle lamented, “Some people don’t think I’m all that great.” He was thinking about his sister, Brad and other students at school. Andre put his plate on the tray and suggested that they should return to Buddy’s room. They didn’t say anything on the elevator back. Kyle seemed deep in thought, and Andre enjoyed just enjoyed looking at him. He wondered if he had made a mistake by telling Kyle that Buddy liked him. Donnie and Buddy were arguing when they walked into the room. “Hey!” shouted Buddy. “You took too big a bite of the hamburger.” Donnie laughed and took another nibble before handing it to Buddy. Buddy placed the remainder in his mouth. “Now you can’t have anymore.” They then started to fight over the remaining potato wedge. Andre looked over at Kyle and raised an eyebrow. They sat for another hour talking like old friends. Andre tried to get Buddy to talk more to Kyle, but he seemed more interested in talking to Donnie. He laughed uproariously when Kyle described the lettering on Donnie’s car. “He has huge red letters that say, ‘Buy at Jeff Dillon Ford.” “At least he has a car,” remarked Buddy as he attempted to defend Donnie. “Yeah,” laughed Donnie. “That’s what I told his sorry ass.” At seven thirty-five, Donnie looked at his watch and announced that he had to get home and finish his homework assignments. He asked Andre if he’d like a ride, but Andre insisted he could walk. After some prodding by Buddy, he finally consented into letting Donnie drive him home. “I can’t wait until you return to school,” remarked Donnie as he looked down at Buddy. “We’re going to have a lot of fun.” Kyle glanced quickly over at Andre. Andre had told him in the cafeteria that Buddy was thinking about dropping out of school. “We’ll see,” he replied. After saying goodbye, the three boys headed out to the parking garage. Andre doubled over with laughter when he saw Donnie’s car. He looked over at Kyle and said, “You weren’t lying.” “Shut up,” laughed Donnie, “or I’ll make you walk home.” Andre climbed into the back seat. After giving Donnie directions to his house, they pulled away. Andre stared at the back of Kyle’s head and sighed.
  3. At our Pride event this year, I saw more young people than ever before. Couples in their teens and early 20's were holding hands or in an embrace. Most were proudly wearing Pride attire. They get it- they understand the significance of what Pride is all about. Also to my surprise, I saw numerous straight families this year with their young children wearing rainbow shirts, hats and wristbands. I also noticed that during a popular drag show performance on Friday night, many children were watching and applauding as they stood before the stage with their mothers and fathers. This is the Midwest, not NYC or SF. As Bob Dylan wrote, 'The Times They Are A-Changin.' We have more support than I think we sometimes realize.
  4. Ronyx

    Chapter 11

  5. Ronyx

    Chapter 11

    Buddy continued to sleep as they kept vigil for fifteen minutes. Finally, Mavis announced that she was tired, and she wanted to go home. She turned to Andre and said, “You can ride with me on the bus. I may need help getting off.” Mr. Caldwell immediately offered to take her and Andre home. “I don’t want to be a burden,” she insisted. “You won’t be,” replied Kyle’s father. “I’ll be more than happy to take you home.” After a brief refusal, Mavis finally consented. She said she was too tired to argue. Kyle waited with Mavis and Andre in the lobby while his father went to get the car from the parking garage. Every time Kyle looked over at Andre, he would catch him staring at him. He had never had another boy show so much interest in him, so he felt awkward and embarrassed. He walked away and stared out the window as he waited for his father to arrive. Mavis gave Mr. Caldwell directions to her home. When she turned and reminded Andre to bring Buddy’s things to her home, Kyle’s father told her it would be no trouble for him to take Andre home first, and then bring the items to her home. Kyle and Andre sat in silence in the backseat. Occasionally, he would notice Andre look over, but he pretended that he didn’t see him. Since his confrontation with Andre in the hospital restroom, he was confused as to what was going on. Andre confided in him that Buddy had a crush on him. Then, why hadn’t he said something? They shared a few classes together. They had even sat together on a couple of occasions. Kyle hadn’t noticed that Buddy was interested in him. But then again, he really hadn’t given him a chance. It was his nature to be aloof around strangers, and he had treated Buddy with the same indifference as he did everyone else. His eyes widened when Andre told his father to pull into Chandler’s Mobile Home Park. The gate looked to have collapsed years ago, and the road into the park contained large pot holes. The street was lined with old trailers that appeared to have been there since before he was born. The areas around the trailers appeared clean, but it was still obvious that most had been neglected over the years. Kyle looked around and with astonishment asked, “You live here?” He looked in the rearview mirror to see his father scowl at him. He quickly said, “Sorry.” Andre pointed to an old green trailer and told his father to pull up front. “That is where Buddy lives,” he said before quickly adding, “Or he used to live.” Mr. Caldwell got out and helped him load several trash bags full of clothing. They also put an armload of school books and an old stereo in the trunk. As they started to drive away, he pointed to a blue trailer with stained siding and said, “That’s where I live.” Kyle couldn’t believe that Andre and Buddy lived in such squalid conditions. He had seen pictures on the news, but he thought that places like this only existed in the larger cities. When they pulled up in front of Mavis’s home, it didn’t look much better. Even though she lived in a wood frame home, it still appeared that she was as impoverished as Buddy and Andre. Moving from his home to hers wouldn’t be much of an improvement for Buddy, he thought to himself. He sat in the car and quietly watched as his father helped Mavis to her door. It surprised him that his father embraced her and gave her a kiss on the cheek before she went inside. Andre took Buddy’s belongings from the trunk and carried them into the house. Before going inside, he turned and looked sadly at Kyle. “Those poor people,” his father remarked as he started to pull away. Kyle squealed, “Can you believe they live like that? I’d kill myself if I lived in an old trailer!” His father looked over and said coldly, “I wasn’t talking about their financial situation. I was talking about the hurt they are feeling.” “Oh,” replied Kyle as his face reddened. It surprised him when his father didn’t head directly home. He was afraid to say anything because his father seemed upset. At one point, his father took out his phone, called home and told them that they wouldn’t be home until late. He could hear his mother ask if Buddy was alright. His father looked over at him and said, “Yes, Buddy’s fine. I’ve got some other business to take care of.” They drove in silence for over an hour. Kyle assumed that his father was heading to a construction site and was taking him along. He couldn’t understand, though, why his father wasn’t speaking to him. Soon they came to a small town. It looked like at one time it might have been a small, manufacturing town. Now, however, only small homes lined the streets. Many of the larger buildings were shuttered. They passed by a barber shop, and several old men waved as they drove by. Mr. Caldwell continued to drive through town before turning onto a narrow side street aligned with small cottages. Trees lined the street, but it was obvious that most homes were in desperate need of repair. Several of the homes were boarded up. Shingles were missing from many rooftops, and gutters hung from others. Kyle thought it didn’t look much better than where Andre lived. He looked over at his father when he pulled into the driveway of one of the homes. Grass was growing between the cracks. The yard hadn’t been mowed for ages, and plywood was covering the windows. Kyle asked, “Who lives here?” His father looked over and stated sharply, “I did.” He then opened the door and got out. Kyle hesitantly got out and followed his father as he strolled around the dilapidated home. When they returned to the front of the house, his father stopped and stared at the porch. Without looking at Kyle he said, “This is where I grew up when I was your age.” He pointed to a boarded up window. “That was my bedroom.” Kyle gave his father a puzzled look and stated, “But grandma and grandpa live in a nice house.” His father smiled slightly and replied, “This was a nice house at one time.” He turned back to the house and continued, “This is your roots. This is where you came from.” Kyle asked, “We were poor?” “I was poor,” his father stated sharply. “I’ve provide you and Melissa with everything I never had. Now I realize it may have been a mistake.” “I’m confused,” replied Kyle. “How come you never told me before about where you grew up?” “Because I didn’t think it mattered,” he said sadly. “Dad worked hard and put me through college.” He pointed to an old warehouse about a mile away. Much of the brick smokestack had fallen to the ground. “Your grandfather worked there for thirty-eight years. We didn’t have much, but we were happy. After I became successful, I bought them the house they live in now.” “Why are you telling me all this now?” asked Kyle. His father’s eyes narrowed. “Because you’re arrogant and snooty,” he replied angrily. Kyle replied excitedly, “What? I’m not snooty. Besides, I don’t even know what that means.” “It means you’re a snob.” His father looked angrily at his astonished son. “I saw how you looked at Mavis and Andre when you saw how they lived. Just because they don’t live like we do, doesn’t make them anything less.” “But Dad,” argued Kyle. “I didn’t think that.” “Yes, you did,” replied his father. “It’s not your fault though, it’s mine.” “But, Dad...” His father pointed toward the house. “This is where you could be living if your grandfather hadn’t busted his ass off to make my life better.” Kyle watched as tears appeared in his father’s eyes. “And your mother and I have busted our asses to make your life and Melissa’s better.” “I know, Dad, but...” “But all it did was make both of you arrogant,” he said. “Melissa thinks she’s a princess who should have everything she demands.” He turned and started to walk away. “And you look down on Andre and Buddy because you think you’re better than they are because you live in a big home, and they live in a mobile park.” “But Dad...” Kyle’s face reddened when his father stated, “Your mother told me about your little theory of supply and demand. Three hundred and sixty-eight dollars for video games? Do you think money grows on trees?” “Dad,” whined Kyle. “Listen to me.” “There’s nothing right now you have to say that I care to hear,” his father replied. He pointed to the boarded up home. “This is your roots. This is where you came from.” He opened the door and got in the car. When Kyle climbed in, he warned, “Don’t you ever forget it.” They rode in silence all the way home. * * * * * Kyle was tired when he entered the cafeteria the next morning. During dinner, he was afraid to look at his father because he was embarrassed. He knew his father was right. He had been appalled with the way Andre, Buddy and Mavis lived. However, he was more disappointed that his father had recognized it. Now he felt his had hurt his feelings. He had said nothing to him on the way home, and he made no attempt to say anything after dinner. He went to his office, while Kyle went to his bedroom. A couple of times, he considered going to his office and apologizing, but it would be meaningless. He was arrogant- and snooty. Looking back over his brief life, he had always associated with guys who lived in his affluent neighborhood. He rarely associated with students who he viewed as poor. He didn’t do it intentionally. It was just that he felt he had nothing in common with them. He often laughed when one of his friends teased another boy about the clothes he wore, or the neighborhood in which he resided. Until his father’s admonition, he had never realized that he, too, looked down on those who he thought were less unfortunate. He tossed and turned all night with the visions of his father’s boyhood home. “You look like shit,” remarked Donnie as he sat down across from Kyle in the cafeteria. He tore open a wrapped doughnut and took a bite. “These aren’t half bad,” he said as he took another bite. Kyle giggled and said, “Not if you like eating dog biscuits.” “And how would you know what dog biscuits taste like,” replied Donnie as he raised an eyebrow. “Been dipping into your dog’s bone?” His face reddened, and he burst out laughing. “That sounded kind of perverted, didn’t it?” “Yeah,” laughed Kyle. “I don’t do four legged animals.” Donnie raised another eyebrow. “Then that implies you do two-legged ones?” “You sound like my mother,” replied Kyle with a laugh as he tossed a pencil at Donnie. Donnie took another bite of his doughnut, sat back and asked, “So why do you look like shit today? Big night?” Kyle leaned forward, looked around to see if anyone was listening and asked, “Am I a snob?” Donnie gave him a puzzled look. “A snob? What brought that on?” Kyle sat back and replied sadly, “My father said I acted like a snob.” Donnie asked, “Why?” Kyle spent the next few minutes telling him about his visit to the hospital to see Buddy. He then described his living conditions, and those of Andre and Mavis. When he finished, he asked, “Is it wrong to not like the way they live?” “It depends on the motivation of your feelings,” replied Donnie. Kyle asked, “What does that mean?” Donnie leaned forward and stared into Kyle’s eyes. “It means do you feel it’s wrong not to like the way they live because you feel empathy for them or because you think they are not as good as you are.” Kyle sighed. “My dad thinks I’m a snob and I look down on them.” “Do you?” asked Donnie. “Your dad has a lot of money,” replied Kyle. “You live in my neighborhood. You must feel like I do. Would you want to live in a run-down trailer?” “No,” replied Donnie. “But if that is where I lived, then I wouldn’t have a choice.” “But we don’t,” exclaimed Kyle. “No, we don’t,” replied Donnie. “But this Buddy and Andre don’t have a choice, either. They can’t help where they live no more than we can help where we live. And to answer your question, the answer is yes.” Kyle gave Donnie a puzzled look. “Yes?” “Yes,” replied Donnie as he rose from the table. “You are a snob.” He turned and walked away. * * * * * Buddy was lying in the hospital bed with his head facing the window. “Come on, Baby,” cried Andre as he reached for Buddy’s hand. Buddy pulled it away and hid it under the sheet. A few minutes earlier, Andre had told him about Kyle and his father visiting him the night before. “Say something,” begged Andre. “Didn’t you hear what I told you?” Buddy looked at him and scowled. “I heard you just fine,” he answered angrily. “I thought you’d be happy,” explained Andre. “Kyle came to visit you.” Buddy asked sadly, “You don’t get it, do you?” Andre looked worriedly at Buddy as tears began to appear in his eyes. “Get what?” he asked as he reached down and wiped away a tear falling down Buddy’s cheek. “He knows all about me now,” replied Buddy. “He knows I’m lying here because I got beat up because I was selling drugs.” “I don’t think that’s come out yet,” replied Andre. “At least the news hasn’t said anything about it.” Buddy’s eyes widened as he asked, “This was on the news?” “Well, yeah,” replied Andre. “Mr. Caldwell is a big shot.” “Jesus,” mumbled Buddy. “Just great.” He turned his head away from Andre and closed his eyes. He pretended to be asleep as Andre attempted to get him to say something. He just wanted to be alone, and he hoped Andre would leave. Andre asked, “You gonna talk to me?” He sat quietly for about twenty minutes before he got up. “I’ll be back tomorrow, okay?” He leaned down and kissed Buddy on the forehead. Buddy buried his head in the pillow and cried. * * * * * Kyle was standing on the steps after school waiting for Donnie to go to his car. He hadn’t shown up at lunch, and Kyle hadn’t seen him in the halls. He couldn’t figure out why he had gotten mad at him and walked out earlier in the morning. Finally, Donnie emerged from the building. He stopped when he saw Kyle. Kyle was relieved when he saw a big smile appear on Donnie’s face. He bounded down the stairs toward him. “Hey,” he said. “I didn’t know if you’d show.” “I thought you were mad at me,” confessed Kyle. Donnie asked, “Why would I be mad at you?” He laughed and added, “I’ve had worse assholes for friends before.” He lightly hit Kyle on the arm and said, “Come on.” “Am I really an asshole?” Kyle asked as they were driving out of the parking lot. “Don’t know,” laughed Donnie. “The verdict is still out on that one.” “Listen,” insisted Kyle as he turned toward Donnie. “I’m really not a snob. I didn’t mean all those things I said this morning. Honest.” Donnie smiled and turned right onto a street. “Let’s go somewhere and talk.” Kyle nodded and sat back in his seat. Occasionally, he would look over at Donnie, but Donnie kept his eyes forward and said nothing. Ten minutes later, Donnie pulled his car into a Tim Horton’s. “I like the mocha latte they serve here,” he remarked as he got out of the car. “Mocha latte?” asked Kyle. “And you call me a snob?” Donnie opened the door for Kyle. When he did, he giggled and said, “If you’re not nice, I’m not going to share any of my honey dip timbits with you.” “I’ll be nice,” promised Kyle as they approached the cashier. After ordering, they sat down at a booth. There were few diners in the restaurant, so they didn’t have to worry about anyone overhearing their conversation. “So?” asked Kyle as they snacked. “What do you think about it?” Donnie stuffed a tidbit into this mouth. “About what?” he asked as he took a sip of his latte. “Me,” replied Kyle. “Do you think I’m a snob?” Donnie smiled and asked, “Why is this bothering you so much?” Kyle shrugged his shoulders. “I guess it’s because my dad called me a snob. He also said I was snooty.” “Snooty!” laughed Donnie. When Kyle confessed he didn’t even know the meaning, Donnie explained it to him. “Okay,” said Donnie as he leaned forward. “Let’s take a hypothetical situation.” Kyle nodded and listened. “You say this Andre guy said that Buddy likes you.” Kyle nodded his head again. “Let’s say he gets better and someday he asks you out. Would you go on a date with him?” “I don’t know,” replied Kyle skeptically. “He’s cute and all, but...” “But he’s poor?” “You should see how he lives!” exclaimed Kyle excitedly. “He lives in a run-down trailer.” “So, you think you’re better than he is because you live in Forest Ridge?” Kyle responded, “I didn’t say I was better than him. It’s just... what would people say?” Donnie’s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean, what would people say?” Suddenly, Kyle realized that he sounded exactly like Melissa. He now knew that what his father had said about him was true. “I didn’t mean that,” he apologized. He buried his face in his hand and moaned, “God, I am arrogant and snooty just like my father said.” “I could have told you that,” laughed Donnie. “Now, what are you going to do about it?” Kyle shook his head. “I don’t know.” “I do,” replied Donnie. “We’ve got somewhere to go.” He took the last bite of his timbit, picked up the tray and headed toward the door. Kyle hurried behind him. When he got in the car Kyle asked, “Where are we going?” Donnie grinned and replied, “You’ll see.”
  6. Heartwarming story @droughtquake I just finished reading a story about a man, Terrance Mannery, who single-handedly fought off an antigay mob that was chasing four gay men following the Utah Pride Festival in Salt Lake City. He put himself in harm's way to protect four strangers. A true hero! https://www.advocate.com/crime/2018/6/06/lone-man-fights-antigay-mob-utah-pride
  7. Ronyx

    Chapter 10

    Mavis got up early in the morning and put on the purple dress she wore on special occasions. She counted $1.25 in small change from the piggy bank she kept on her bedroom dresser. She puts nickels, dimes and quarters in it when she returns from the grocery. It is her ‘rainy day’ money. Today, she might need it for the bus ride home. After dressing, she took her cane hanging on the back of a dining room chair and headed out the door. It took her forty minutes to walk to her sister’s trailer. Several years earlier, it would only take her half that time. However, it was chilly outside, and her arthritis was messing with her hip. “Dammit,” she muttered to herself as she stopped, bent over and tried to catch her breath. She looked down the road and saw the mobile home park in the distance. “It’s terrible getting old,” she said as she straightened her crippled body and slowly shuffled down the road. She rapped her cane on the trailer door and waited for her sister. When she didn’t appear, she struck the door four more times with the tip of her cane. Seconds later, a man appeared and hurried down the steps as he buttoned up his shirt. She heard her sister holler out, “Who the hell is it? Do you know what time it is?” Mavis slowly climbed the rickety stairs and stepped into the small trailer. “I sure as hell do, Pearl,” she spat angrily. “It’s time to bust you upside your head with this damn cane.” She moved toward her sister, lifted the cane and took a swing at her. Pearl jumped back and shouted, “What the hell is wrong with you?” Mavis put down her cane, stood before her sister and placed her hands on her hips. “Do you know your boy is laid up in the hospital?” “Yeah,” replied Pearl as she tossed some clothes off the couch and sat down. “The cops came into the restaurant last night and told me something happened to him.” “So why ain’t your ass down at the hospital?” “Ain’t nothing I can do for him,” replied Pearl as she got up and went into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. She didn’t see the cane coming as Mavis hit her over the head with it. “Hey! What are you doing?” She turned and rubbed her head. Mavis asked angrily, “Your boy is in the hospital, and you’re not even worried about him?” “I got a job to go to,” she replied. “I can’t be worried about him.” She put up her hand and stopped the cane from hitting her again. “You bitch!” spat Mavis. Pearl finished making the coffee, took a seat at the dining room chair and waited for it to finish running through the coffee maker. She looked up at Mavis and asked sarcastically, “If you care so much for him, why don’t you take him?” “Fine,” replied Mavis as she reached into her purse and pulled out the consent form the doctor had given her for Pearl to sign. “Sign this then.” “What is it?” “They need your permission to fix him up.” She pulled a pen out of her pocket book and handed it to her. Pearl looked up and scowled, “This going to cost me anything?” She signed it after Mavis assured her that Buddy would probably get free treatment from the state since she didn’t make much money. Once she signed it, Mavis walked over to the door. Before leaving, she turned and said, “Put Buddy’s things out on the patio. I’ll have that boy next door get them and bring them to my place.” She turned and slammed the door shut. She went to the corner and waited for a bus to take her home to rest. Before going home, she stopped at a nearby drugstore and faxed the forms to the hospital. She was fifty cents short, but the clerk told her not to worry about it. Later in the afternoon, she got up and rode the bus to the hospital to see how Buddy was doing. * * * * * Kyle’s father walked out of the garage and watched his son get out of the white Focus. He started laughing as it pulled away. Kyle’s face reddened as he approached. He knew his father was laughing at the bold red lettering. “What?” he asked as he walked up to his father. His father asked, “Who was that?” “Donnie Dillon,” replied Kyle. His father’s face lit up. “Is that Jeff Dillon’s boy?” Kyle nodded. “I play golf with Jeff,” he said laughingly. “Got to watch that old cheat. He’ll shave a couple of strokes off his game if we don’t pay attention.” He put his arm around Kyle’s shoulder and led him over to his BMW. “How long have you known Donnie? You’ve never talked about him.” Kyle replied, “I just met him today. He sat down with me in the cafeteria.” Kyle’s face reddened when his father wiggled his eyebrows and asked, “So is he… like…um… interested?” “Dad!” squealed Kyle. “You can’t ask me questions like that. That’s...that’s... just weird!” “What’s weird about it?” he asked. “I’d ask Melissa the same question if a boy brought her home.” “Alright, fair enough,” replied Kyle with a smile. “But it’s still weird.” He started to get in on the passenger’s side of the car, but he stopped when his father extended his hand and offered him the car keys. Kyle gave him a puzzled look. “What?” His father laughed and said, “I’m going to let you drive down to the corner.” “What!” squealed Kyle. “You’re going to let me drive your BMW? You won’t even let me wash it.” His father put his arm around his shoulder and led him around to the driver’s side of the car. “You’re sixteen now. I figure pretty soon you’ll be wanting your license.” Kyle nodded his head. “We’ll see about enrolling you soon in a driver’s education class.” Kyle stepped back and said excitedly, “You’re joking, right?” His father laughed and handed him the keys to his car. Kyle hesitantly took them. “No, I’m not,” his father assured him. “Your first lesson will be today.” He opened the door and Kyle got inside. His hands shook as he placed them on the steering wheel. He followed his father’s directions as he slowly drove down the long driveway. He was careful to look both ways before he pulled out onto the street. His heart was racing with excitement as he slowly drove down the street to the corner. He was hoping his father would let him drive all the way to the gate, but he said he didn’t want to push their luck. The community had a resource officer on duty who patrolled the neighbor, and he didn’t want Kyle to get pulled over. As they drove toward the hospital, Kyle questioned his father about Buddy. His father told him that he had called the police that morning, and they told him that Buddy’s condition had improved overnight. He then called the hospital, and they informed him that Buddy was in stable condition. His father asked if he could have visitors, and they told him that he could. So, he called Kyle and asked him to go with him to visit. Kyle asked, “What if he doesn’t want us to see him? You’re the one who hit him with your car. Maybe he’ll be mad about that.” “I didn’t hit him,” insisted his father. “He stepped into my path.” “Whatever,” replied Kyle. “We’re strangers. He may not want us to visit.” Kyle was worried because he didn’t know Buddy, and he didn’t see why his father insisted on visiting him. “Why do you want to do this anyway?” A sad expression appeared on his father’s face as he said, “I just keep thinking what if it had been you.” Kyle leaned back in his seat, turned his head toward the window and remained silent the rest of the way to the hospital. When they entered the hospital, Kyle trailed behind his father as he approached the information center. A kindly lady peered over the top of her glasses and asked, “May I help you?” Mr. Caldwell took out a piece of paper, looked at it and asked, “We’re here to see Buddy Ryder. Can you tell us what room he is in?” She entered his name in the computer and then said, “We don’t have a Buddy Ryder registered as a patient. Are you sure he’s here?” Kyle’s father explained that he had talked to the police earlier that morning, and they informed him he was in the hospital. She looked down at the screen and asked, “How old is the person you’re looking for?” Mr. Caldwell looked at Kyle and replied, “Sixteen or seventeen?” She smiled and said, “We have a Garland Ryder listed. Would that be him?” Mr. Caldwell looked over at Kyle. Kyle shrugged his shoulders. After informing his father that the patient was sixteen, she wrote a room number on a sheet of paper and handed it to Mr. Caldwell. He and Kyle headed to the elevator. When they stepped out of the elevator, Kyle’s father pointed for them to go left down the corridor. Kyle asked his father, “What room is he in?” “3212,” he replied. The door was open when they approached. Kyle hesitantly followed his father inside. The bed was empty. “I guess he’s not here,’ remarked Mr. Caldwell as they turned and left the room. As they headed down the hallway, a thin, black teenager approached. He stopped suddenly when he noticed Kyle. His eyes widened as he asked Kyle, “What are you doing here?” Mr. Caldwell said, “We’re here to see Garland.” The black youth looked over at Kyle’s father and said, “You mean Buddy? No one ever calls him Garland.” Mr. Caldwell asked, “Are you a friend?” “Yes, sir,” he replied as he extended his hand. “I’m Andre Patterson. Buddy’s my best friend.” Kyle’s father looked back at the room and asked, “How is he? He wasn’t in his room?” “They took him down to run some more tests,” replied Andre. He looked over at Kyle and said, “I still don’t understand why you’re here. Buddy said you don’t say much to him at school.” Kyle gave Andre a puzzled look. “Buddy talks about me?” Realizing he had probably said too much, he turned to Mr. Caldwell and asked, “Why do you want to see Buddy?” Mr. Caldwell looked down the hall and noticed a small sitting area. He put his hand on Andre’s shoulder and said, “Let’s go have a seat and talk.” Kyle trailed behind them as his father continued to hold Andre’s shoulder. His father and Andre sat on a hard, leather love seat while he sat in a chair a few feet away. He listened as his father explained to Andre about Buddy stepping in front of his vehicle the night before. His father reached out and pulled him into his chest when Andre began to cry. “I don’t understand why this happened,” he sobbed. “Buddy don’t deserve this. He ain’t never done nothing bad to no one.” He continued to cry for several minutes while Mr. Caldwell held him tightly. After several minutes, he finally gained his composure and sat back up. Kyle’s father asked, “How badly is he hurt.” Andre explained about the concussion and the other cuts and bruises he had received from the beating by Brad. Mr. Caldwell asked, “What on earth was he doing over at Brad’s?” Kyle listened attentively because he was also interested. He had heard the rumors, but he didn’t know if they were true. Andre looked down at the floor and responded, “I’d rather not say.” Mr. Caldwell decided not to continue questioning him about the incident. He knew that the police would probably keep him informed about what had happened. “What kind of tests are they running on Buddy?” “An REM,” replied Andre. Mr. Caldwell laughed and said, “You mean an MRI?” Andre shrugged his shoulders. Kyle sat quietly and watched his father and Andre talk. Andre, even though small and frail, appeared extremely cute. He had light brown skin, almost like the color of an almond. Like his own, he had very little body hair. His hair was curly, and he had long, dark eyelashes. His eyebrows were arched, like he might have shaped them. Kyle remembered seeing him several weeks ago at the football game that he attended with Melissa. Then he had had a hood over his head, so he wasn’t able to get a good look. Now, he could see just how handsome he really was. Kyle looked over at his father and said, “I’m going to the bathroom.” He wandered out into the hall and until he saw a sign that said, ‘Men.’ He walked down the hall and entered the small bathroom. As he was relieving himself, the door opened and Andre stepped inside. He walked over to the sink, turned on the water and began splashing water on his face. Kyle finished, stood back and watched Andre in the mirror. Andre stopped drying his face when he saw Kyle looking at him. “Hi,” he said timidly. “What did you mean when you said Buddy talks about me,” asked Kyle. “We hardly know each other.” “I...I... guess I got confused,” stammered Andre as he tossed the wet towel into the trashcan. He started to leave, but Kyle gripped his arm. “Please,” pleaded Kyle. He could tell that Andre was holding back on him. He was curious why Buddy and he would talk about him. Andre thought for a minute as he decided whether to tell Kyle the truth. He knew Buddy would never say anything, so what did he have to lose. Kyle could leave the hospital and forget about Buddy, or he could perhaps bring them together. He took a deep breath and said, “Buddy’s had a crush on you since the first day of school.” “What!” exclaimed Kyle. “A crush on me? Why?” Andre giggled and said, “Yes, you. Who wouldn’t.” He stared into Kyle’s brown eyes. “You’re cuter than he said you are.” He grabbed the door handle and opened it. “Listen,” he said before leaving. “I’ve already said more than I should. Buddy just likes you, okay?” Kyle stood with his mouth open as Andre hurried from the bathroom. When he returned to the waiting room, Andre was sitting beside his father. They were talking as if they had known each other for years. Kyle sat down and tried to listen to their conversation. It appeared that Andre had dropped out of school, and he was attending a community college to get his GED certificate. His father asked, “Why did you leave school so young?” Andre’s mood changed to sadness. “I got bullied all the time,” he replied. “Since I’m small and gay, the kids picked on me all the time.” Kyle was surprised by Andre’s casual admission of his sexuality. “Didn’t you tell the administrators what was happening?” asked Kyle’s father. “Mr. Caldwell,” replied Andre, “No one cares about gay kids. They were happy when I dropped out because then they didn’t have to deal with me.” Kyle’s father shook his head and looked sadly over at his son. He asked, “Do you have that problem, Son?” Kyle dropped his head and muttered, “I think I can deal with it.” His father started to say something, but just then the elevator door opened, and a frail woman got off. Andre jumped to his feet and shouted, “Aunt Mavis!” Mr. Caldwell rose and helped her over to his seat. “Damn cold weather,” she muttered angrily as she rubbed her hip. “This arthritis is killing me.” She looked up and asked Kyle’s father, “Who are you?” Andre quickly introduced Kyle and his father to Mavis. She asked, “What are you here to see the boy for?” She didn’t seem upset when Andre told her that it was Kyle’s father who had hit Buddy. Mr. Caldwell said apologetically, “I’m really sorry. There was nothing I could do. He just stepped out in front of my car.” “Course it wasn’t your fault,” she responded. “Buddy shouldn’t have been in your neck of the woods in the first place.” Mr. Caldwell asked, “How is he doing?” Mavis shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. Didn’t you see me just get off the elevator?” Kyle giggled when he saw his father’s face turn red. She looked over at Andre and asked, “What are you all doing out here anyway?” Andre explained that Buddy was having tests run on him, and it would be a while until he returned to his room. Mavis explained to Andre that he was to get Buddy’s belongings when he went home and bring them to her house. Andre became upset with the way Buddy’s mother seemed to be unconcerned for his health. Mavis ranted for ten minutes what a deadbeat mother she was, and she related some of the things she had done to Buddy over the years. “Used to beat the living hell out of that boy,” she said angrily. “Poor boy did nothing, but she’d hit him anyway.” Mr. Caldwell asked, “Why didn’t you call children’s services?” “And what would they have done?” Mavis asked angrily. “Written a report and left. That’s why he always came by my house. He knew he was safe there.” Andre asked worriedly, “What’s going to happen to him now?” Mavis started to answer, but a nurse stepped into the room and asked, “Are you the family of Garland Ryder?” Andre giggled and informed her, “You better not let him hear you call him Garland. He’ll get upset.” “What should I call him? “Buddy,” replied Andre. “He likes people to call him Buddy.” “Buddy it is then,” said the nurse as she wrote his name on the chart she was holding. Mavis rose slowly from her chair and asked, “Can we see my boy now?” “Buddy just got back from having several tests run,” she explained. “He was complaining of being in a lot of pain, so the doctor ordered a sedative. He’s asleep right now.” “I still want to see him,” insisted Mavis as she limped past the nurse. “He’s my boy now, and I want to see him.” The nurse looked sympathetically at Mr. Caldwell. He grabbed Mavis by the arm and helped her down the hall to Buddy’s room. Kyle and Andre trailed behind. They stood just inside the doorway as Mavis made her way across the room with the assistance of Mr. Caldwell. “Poor Baby,” she cried as she leaned down and kissed him gently on the cheek. “It’s going to be okay now,” she muttered softly as she kissed him again. Andre started crying. He leaned over and buried his head into Kyle’s chest. Kyle hesitated as he put his arm around Andre and comforted him as he wept.
  8. Ronyx

    Chapter 9

    The cafeteria was abuzz with chatter when Kyle arrived. When he stood in line to get his milk and stale doughnut, he could overhear students talking about what had happened the night before. He had seen Brad and the other boys taken away in police cars, but he went to sleep afterwards. He didn’t wait up to see if he returned home. After listening to some of the conversation, it appeared Brad was being detained for assault. “I heard he almost killed the guy,” remarked one student to his friend. His friend asked, “Do you know him?” “Nah,” he replied. “Supposed to be some sophomore. No one knows him.” Kyle was slowly beginning to put the pieces together. For some reason, Buddy went to Brad’s home, and he was beaten up by Brad and a couple other football players. That must have been the reason he stumbled in front of his father’s car. He was also picking up bits and pieces with the mention of drugs and Joy Riddler, but he wasn’t able to understand what they had to do with Buddy’s beating. He made his way to the south side of the cafeteria and sat down at a table alone. After laying his book bag on the table, he pulled out his literature book and tried to catch up on a short story that had been assigned as homework. With all the activity the night before, he hadn’t had a chance to read it. As he was reading, he was interrupted by another student who sat down across from him. “Hi,” he waved timidly at Kyle. “I’m Donald Dillon, but everyone calls me Donnie.” He held out his hand to shake Kyle’s. Kyle skeptically shook his hand. “I’m Kyle Caldwell.” The boy laughed nervously and said, “I know who you are.” Kyle found him very attractive. He reminded him of Jordan. He was thin and lanky, and he was wearing a Cowboys football jersey that draped off his shoulders. He had cropped blond hair and blue eyes. But Kyle was struck most by his beautiful smile with straight white teeth. Kyle glanced down so the boy wouldn’t notice him staring. “You got Oswald for lit?” he laughed. He grabbed the book from Kyle’s hand and looked at the story he was reading. “Masque of the Red Death,” he said excitedly. “I read this last week. It was pretty decent.” Kyle smiled and said, “Then you can tell me what it’s about. I didn’t have time to read it last night.” “I bet,” replied Donnie. “I heard about everything that happened on your street. I live over on Somerset. I saw all the cops around your house.” Kyle laughed and said, “There was a lot of excitement.” “Is it true,” asked Donnie. “Did your old man really hit that kid?” “Listen,” responded Kyle rudely as he put his book in his book bag and started to get up from the table. “I don’t know you, and I really don’t want to discuss what happened last night with a stranger.” Donnie gently grabbed his arm. “It’s okay,” he assured Kyle. “I really don’t want to talk about what happened.” “Then what do you want?” asked Kyle skeptically. Donnie looked around to see if anyone was sitting nearby. Then he leaned in and whispered softly. “I heard rumors you are gay.” He did a quick look around before continuing. “I thought I was the only one in the school.” Hesitantly, Kyle sat back down and stared at the blond boy across from him. He seemed sincere, but he still didn’t know if he could trust him. “So why do you want to talk to me?” Donnie shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know,” he replied. “I guess I’m looking for someone to talk to.” He looked around the cafeteria. “I’ve been going to this lousy school for two years, and I hardly know anyone. If you don’t play sports, and you’re not one of the popular kids, no one even knows you’re alive.” Kyle smiled slightly and mumbled, “You got that right.” Donnie tried to assure Kyle, “I just want us to be friends, is all.” Kyle studied his face before responding. “I’m not looking for a boyfriend.” “No!” replied Donnie excitedly. “I’m not trying to hit on you or anything. I just thought we could talk, you know, about things.” Just then, the bell rang, and Kyle stood and pulled his book bag over his shoulder. “So, what do you think?” Donnie asked as they started walking away from the table. Kyle looked over and smiled. “Maybe,” he replied. “Cool!” said Donnie excitedly. “Maybe I’ll see you at lunch.” Kyle nodded his head and laughed as Donnie took off hurriedly down the hall. He thought to himself, “Maybe I’ve found my first friend.” He laughed as he said, “He’s cute, too.” He pulled the book bag tighter over his shoulder and headed to first period. * * * * * * “But you don’t understand!” Andre shouted as he struggled with the hospital security guard. “I’ve got to see him!” The burly guard wrapped Andre’s arms behind his back. “Settle down, Kid. I don’t want to hurt you.” Andre’s smaller body was no match for the husky man. Andre’s body went limp as he stopped struggling. “He needs me,” he cried. “Please, let me see him.” A nurse stepped up and held his arm. “He’s still in surgery,” she informed him. Andre looked up and asked tearfully, “Then he’s still alive?” She smiled and gripped his arm tighter. “He’s in surgery,” she assured him. “That means he’s still alive.” She pointed to a seat in the waiting room. “Why don’t you sit down, and I’ll let you know when he gets out of surgery. Okay?” Andre nodded, and the security guard helped him over to the seat. He patted Andre gently on the shoulder before walking away. Andre sat back and cried. “He can’t be dead,” he cried to an empty room. He sat alone for two hours. He heard the elevator door open. He jumped up and rushed to the woman who came limping into the room. “Aunt Mavis!” he shouted as he wrapped his arms around her. She was dressed in a shabby jacket. It appeared she had left the house quickly. Underneath her coat, she still had on her blue nightgown. She was wearing pink, fluffy slippers. “How is he?” she asked worriedly. “The police came by the house and told me what happened.” He led her to the sofa. “I don’t know,” he replied as they sat down. He took her hand and held it. “I’ve been here for over two hours and no one has come out and said anything.” She looked worriedly into Andre’s eyes. “What was he doing in that neighborhood anyways? The police said he walked into a car.” Andre shrugged his shoulders. “I’ve been trying to figure that out myself.” Mavis gripped his hand tighter. “Is he working for Aubry? That’s what his mother told me when I called her.” “Is she coming to the hospital?” Mavis shook her head. “She’s working.” They both knew that even if she was at home, she still wouldn’t come to the hospital. Mavis sighed deeply. “Poor Buddy has never had a break. He has to put up with that mother of his, and now this.” She pulled a stained handkerchief from her pocket and dabbed at the tears in her eyes. “I hate say this,” she continued, “but maybe it’s best that he doesn’t survive this.” “Aunt Mavis!” cried Andre. “How can you say something like that?” She started crying uncontrollably. “I’m sorry,” she wept, “but that poor baby doesn’t have a chance in this world.” She pulled Andre into her arms, and they held each other tightly as they wept. * * * * * * Kyle was sitting in the cafeteria nibbling on a cold chicken nugget. It had been a busy morning. Brad was the conversation of the entire building. Even sitting alone, he could still hear his name being mentioned at nearby tables. From the rumors, Brad and a few other members of the football team were over at Brad’s house. His parents weren’t home, and someone had brought some weed over to smoke. When they ran out, David Gaston, a tight end, called a friend to see if they could get some more. An hour later, Buddy arrived. When Brad saw him, he became violent and began hitting him mercilessly. Some of his friends tried to stop him, but not before Buddy was pushed into the water. They managed to get Brad inside, but when they went out to check on Buddy, he had disappeared. Ten minutes later, they heard sirens. When they looked outside, they saw the fire department and ambulances on the street. His friends were trapped and unable to drive away. Kyle was still unclear of what happened next, but from what he noticed the night before, and from a few conversations he overheard, the police brought in a canine unit and they were able to trace Buddy’s scent to Brad’s backyard. After questioning Brad, he was taken downtown. As far as anyone knew, he was still there since he hadn’t appeared in school. Kyle took another bite of the chicken nugget, and then tossed it back onto his plate. “Tastes like shit,” he mumbled to himself. Just then, he looked up and saw Donnie approaching his table. Donnie broke out into a wide grin when he sat down. “You don’t mind, do you?” he asked as he unwrapped a cheeseburger and took a bite. “No,” replied Kyle nervously. “Good,” smiled Donnie. “I was going to sit here anyway.” He let out a chuckle as he reached for one of Kyle’s chicken nuggets. He took a bite and spit it out into his hand. “Jesus,” he grumbled. “Tastes like shit.” Kyle sat back and laughed. He took another bite of his cheeseburger and asked, “So, how’s your day going?” Kyle shrugged his shoulders, “Okay, I guess. Everyone is talking about what happened last night.” “Yeah,” replied Kyle. “Talk about drama. I even heard you’re messed up in all this?” “I am?” Kyle asked excitedly, “How?” “It seems like your sister started all this shit when she broke up with Brad,” he said. “Now all this is rumors,” he assured Kyle, “But it seems like Brad was out to get that poor stiff who was hit by the car.” Kyle shook his head. “I still don’t see how he was involved. I don’t think my sister even knows him.” Donnie looked around to make sure no one was listening. He leaned over the table and said, “I overheard a guy who knows a guy who was at Brad’s house last night.” Kyle leaned forward and nodded his head. “He says the guy who got hit by your dad’s car saw Brad and Joy Riddler fucking under a stairwell last week. He thinks the guy told your sister, so he beat the shit out of him.” Kyle’s eyes widened, “What?” “Yeah,” replied Donnie excitedly. “When that poor guy showed up at his house last night to drop off some weed, Brad went nuts.” Kyle asked, “So where is Brad now?” “The guy said he’s locked up in juvie until they find out if the kid dies or not.” Kyle slumped down in his seat. Donnie reached over and grabbed another chicken nugget, examined it, and stuffed it in his mouth. He asked, “You okay?” “I suppose,” responded Kyle. “It’s just a shame some innocent guy got caught up in all this.” “He wasn’t all that innocent,” suggested Donnie. “He was delivering weed to someone’s house.” Kyle looked away and thought about Buddy lying somewhere in a hospital bed, that is, if he was still even alive. Kyle had seen him a few times, and he appeared to be a nice guy. He kept to himself, and he didn’t deserve what happened to him. Donnie looked at the clock on the wall and noticed the bell was getting ready to ring. He stuffed the remainder of his hamburger into this mouth. “What are you doing after school?” he asked with a mouthful of food. Kyle asked, “What?” He smiled as he watched Donnie try to quickly swallow the hamburger. “I asked, what are you doing after school?” Kyle asked, “Why?” “I dunno,” replied Donnie. “I just thought we could hang out. I can drive you home, if you like.” Kyle’s eyes opened wide. “You have a car?” Donnie’s face reddened slightly. “Yeah,” he replied. “My dad is Jeff Dillon.” “Jeff Dillon?” Kyle squealed. “Like in Jeff Dillon Ford? The guy I see on the television all the time?” Donnie shrugged his shoulders. “Yeah, I guess.” The bell rang, and they rose from their seats. “So, what do you say? Can I take you home after school?” Kyle eyed Donnie suspiciously before replying. Donnie was attractive and friendly, but he wasn’t ready to become involved with someone, at least not yet. As if he read his mind, Donnie smiled and said, “I’m just taking you home. I’m not asking you for a date.” Kyle flung his book bag over his shoulder and headed for the door. “Okay,” he replied as Donnie ran up beside him. “Good,” said Donnie with a smile. “Meet me in the parking lot after school.” Kyle nodded and hurried away. * * * * * * Mavis was asleep with her head on Andre’s shoulder when someone exited the double metal doors. She awoke when Andre sat up and nudged her slightly. She asked sleepily, “What?” “I think the doctor is here,” he replied as he stood before the elderly doctor in green scrubs. Andre extended his hand and pulled Mavis to her feet. They both stood silent, awaiting to hear what the doctor would say about Buddy. Andre almost collapsed to the ground when the doctor smiled and said, “He’ll be okay.” He helped Mavis and Andre back to the leather loveseat, and then he walked across the room to get a metal chair. He straddled it as he sat down before them. Mavis and Andre were crying as he explained Buddy’s injuries. “It doesn’t appear that the car accident did much damage,” he informed them. “Most of the injuries came from a beating he received before being hit by a car.” Andre asked with surprise, “Beating?” The doctor looked worriedly at him. “The police haven’t talked to you about what happened last night?” Andre shook his head and replied, “All we were told is he got hit by a car.” “I see,” said the doctor. He leaned forward and explained what he knew had happened to Buddy. Andre felt sick when the doctor told them about the injuries to Buddy’s face and body from a beating he had received prior to the accident. “He received a very serious blow to the head which resulted in a severe concussion,” he explained. “We’re going to keep him in the hospital for a few days to make sure there is no swelling.” He looked over at Mavis and asked, “Are you his mother?” “No,” she replied, “I’m his aunt.” He stood, looked down and said, “I need to speak to his mother.” “Good luck,” replied Mavis sarcastically. “She could care less that he is in here. If you need anyone to sign anything, I can do it.” “I’ll still need her to agree,” he remarked. “I’ll have a nurse bring you a consent form for his mother to sign.” “Fine,” replied Mavis as she stood and faced the doctor. “If she sobers up long enough, I’ll get her to sign it.” She took Andre by the arm and started heading toward the double doors. “Now may we see my nephew?” “Of course,” the doctor replied as he hurried to catch up. * * * * * * Donnie was waiting outside for Kyle when he exited the school doors. Kyle wasn’t sure if Donnie remembered he had promised him a ride. A smile appeared on his face when he saw Donnie at the bottom of the steps. “I didn’t know if you’d remember,” Kyle said. “I’m sixteen,” laughed Donnie. “I don’t have Alzheimer’s yet.” “Yet,” remarked Kyle with a laugh. He jumped when Donnie reached out to swat him on his arm. “Come on,” laughed Donnie as he took Kyle’s arm and pulled him towards the parking lot. Kyle bent over and started laughing uproariously when he saw Donnie’s car. It was a white Ford Focus with red bold letters running along the side that read, “Shop at Jeff Dillon Ford.” “You’re driving an advertisement!” howled Kyle. Donnie frowned and said,, “Get in.” Once inside he told Kyle, “It’s the only way I could talk my dad into letting me have my own car.” He looked over with a smirk. “Okay, Smarty Pants, just what do you drive?” “I don’t have a car,” replied Kyle. “Just what I thought,” gloated Donnie as he pulled out of the school parking lot. “At least this didn’t cost me anything, and Dad pays for the gas.” Kyle laughed when he Donnie looked over and stuck out his tongue. As they headed away, Donnie asked Kyle if he’d like to go somewhere and get a hamburger. “Yeah, sure,” replied Kyle. “But I have to call home first.” He took out his cell phone and called his house. Melissa answered the phone. Donnie listened as Kyle’s tone changed to anger. “Let me talk to Mom.” Kyle looked over and rolled his eyes. “Then put Dad on the phone.” Donnie stifled a laugh when Kyle angrily muttered, “Slut.” Donnie couldn’t hear what Kyle’s father was saying, but Kyle kept replying, “Yes, Sir.” After a minute, Kyle closed the phone and put it in his pocket. Kyle turned to Donnie and said, “He wants me to come straight home. Can I take a rain check?” “Yeah, sure,” responded Donnie disappointedly. “Is everything okay?” Kyle replied, “He wants me to go to the hospital to see Buddy. He said he called there, and they told him he’s out of surgery and in a room.” Donnie offered to go with him, but Kyle refused. “Dad has never met you, and he’ll have a million questions.” “Does he know you’re gay?” Kyle nodded his head and said, “Melissa outed me last week.” He laughed when Donnie responded with an angry, “Slut.” A few minutes later he pulled into the gated community and dropped Kyle off in front of his house. Kyle smiled as he waved goodbye.
  9. Yesterday, I witnessed one of the coolest things I've ever seen. At our Pride rally, each year a couple of guys assemble at the entrance of the event with a bullhorn and Bible in hand yelling out how sinful we are, and that we need to find God. Usually, they are ignored. This year a large group of our young brothers and sisters (you got to love the youth today! They aren't taking any shit anymore!) confronted them. I wanted to go down and tell them to ignore them, that giving them attention is what they wanted. Suddenly, I looked across the street and about eight 'angels' were approaching. I've seen pictures of this in the past when Fred Phelps and the Westboro Church would protest funerals and other events. The angels surrounded the two men, blocking them from view. It was absolutely amazing! Later, out of frustration, the men left. Ironically, I met the guy in the forefront the day before and he is deaf. He couldn't hear any of their rant.
  10. Ronyx

    Congratulations Graeme!

    Congratulations, Graeme!
  11. This weekend our city celebrates Pride. Tonight, it kicks off with a speeches and performances downtown. Tomorrow at noon is our Pride parade. In the evening we'll be meeting friends for dinner before we attend a performance of the Gay Men's Chorus. I look forward to this weekend because it is a time I can openly celebrate with the LGBT community, and we in one united voice shout: ' We're gay, We're proud!
  12. History of LGBT Pride How will you celebrate LGBT Pride Month?
  13. Ronyx

    Chapter 8

    “Okay, Kid,” remarked Aubrey as he handed the baggie to Buddy. “Are you sure you know where to take it?” “Yeah,” replied Buddy. “I’m not an imbecile.” “Just be careful,” responded Aubrey. “This is an upscale neighborhood, and people will wonder what you’re doing there.” “I’ll be careful,” assured Buddy as he left the trailer. Aubrey wanted him to deliver some weed to a residential neighborhood outside of town. It would be a thirty-minute ride on the bus, but he had been promised that he would be paid double the normal amount because of the risk involved. It was easy to make a delivery in his neighborhood, but he was going to an area where people would be suspicious of a stranger walking through the neighborhood. It didn’t help when he got off the bus and walked about a block before seeing a ‘Neighborhood Watch’ sign. He pulled his hoodie over his head so he couldn’t be recognized. He walked six blocks before he came to the address on the paper Aubrey had given him. “Shit!” exclaimed Buddy as he looked at the immense home. It appeared to have three different floors, and the yard was meticulously landscaped. He cautiously approached the columned front porch. It contained white rattan furniture, but it appeared more for show. As he started to climb the steps, a window from above opened. “Hey, kid,” someone said softly. “Come around to the back.” Buddy descended from the stairs and walked around the side of the house. A stone sidewalk trailed around the garage to a white gate. He opened it and stepped into the back yard. He immediately stood before an Olympic size pool. “Jesus!” hissed Buddy to himself. “Who lives like this?” A young man stepped out from a door of the house and motioned for him to come nearer. Buddy cautiously approached. He recognized him from school, but he didn’t think they shared any classes. “Good,” said the boy. “You’re here. Me and my buddies have been waiting.” Buddy reached into his underwear for the baggie and handed it to the boy. The boy reached into his pocket for the money. Just then, Buddy looked past the boy as two more young men approached. His heart started pounding when he noticed that one of the boys was Brad. Brad pushed the boy to the side as he stepped out onto the patio. “What the fuck are you doing here?” He grabbed Buddy’s jacket, pulled him forward and hit him in his face. “What’s going on?” shouted one of the boys as they tried to pull him off. Buddy doubled over when Brad hit him in the stomach. “This fucker is always up in my business,” he said scornfully. “He’s the one who ratted me out about Joy. Now he’ll tell everyone I’m smoking weed.” Buddy ducked when he swung again, and he lunged at Brad. They toppled to the ground, and Buddy hit Brad several times in the face. Brad’s friends pulled Buddy off, and they held his arms while Brad beat Buddy mercilessly. Buddy struggled to free his arms, but they held him tightly while Brad pummeled his face. When Brad told them to set him free, he shoved Buddy into the pool. Traces of blood flowed into the cool water. Buddy gasped for air as he thrashed around in the water. He looked up through swollen eyes to see Brad standing on the edge of the pool. He quickly moved back when Brad attempted to kick him in his face. “Listen, Fucker!” spat Brad. “Tell anyone about this, and I’ll kill you the next time!” He turned and headed into the house. When they were inside, Buddy crawled out of the water, sat on the edge of the pool and tried to catch his breath. Everything looked hazy. He ran his hand across his face and then looked at the blood he wiped off. His face throbbed with pain, and he knew he had visible wounds. He dragged himself up and stumbled out through the gate. Almost blindly, he made his way down the street. He didn’t see the car approaching. By the time he heard the screeching of tires, it was too late to react. * * * * * * * Kyle was lying across his bed when his cell phone rang. When he answered it, his father shouted frantically, “Grab some towels and bring them to me!” Kyle responded worriedly, “Where are you?” “In front of the Chambers’ house!” his father replied anxiously. “Someone stepped out in front of my car. I’ve called 911, but I have to stop the bleeding. Now hurry!” Kyle ran to the linen closet in the bathroom and grabbed an armload of towels. He also grabbed the emergency medical kit in case his father would need it. When he exited the bathroom, Melissa stuck her head out of her bedroom door and asked what was happening. Kyle rushed past her without even responding. He rushed out onto the porch and peered down the road. He could see his father’s car in the middle of the road with its warning lights flashing. His father was kneeling, and he appeared to be comforting a body lying in the street. Kyle tore off down the sidewalk and rushed to his father. His father stood and extended his hands, “Give me those!” he said urgently as he grabbed the towels from Kyle’s arms. “He’s got a big gash on his forehead, and I’ve got to try and stop the bleeding.” Kyle stood back and watched as his father lifted the person’s head and wrapped the towel around him. In the darkness, he couldn’t make out who the injured person was. After wrapping the towel around the person’s head, his father sat down in the street, and held the person gently in his arms. “It’s going to be alright,” he stated soothingly. Kyle bent down and asked, “Is there anything I can do?” Just then sirens could be heard in the distance. “Go down to the corner and direct the ambulance this way,” he replied. Kyle rose and raced to the corner. He could see red lights flashing a half mile away. It seemed like an eternity before they finally approached. He frantically waved his arms and pointed in the direction to where his father was. He then ran behind the ambulance until it came to a stop. He stood back and watched as the back door of the ambulance flew open. One person hurried to the person on the ground while two medics pulled the gurney from the rear door. Kyle moved around until he could get a better look at the person on the ground. His father came over and threw his arm around his shoulder. He gasped when the medic removed the bloody towels and wiped the person’s face clean. His father looked down, pulled him closer and asked, “Do you know him?” Kyle’s voice trembled as he replied, “He’s in my class at school.” The medics were hovering over the body trying to stop the bleeding. One of the medics hollered, “Get him on the gurney, Stat!” They quickly picked his limp body off the road and placed him on the gurney. They then rushed him to the back of the ambulance and lifted the gurney onto the ambulance. Two medics climbed in the back while the third rushed to the driver’s seat. Within seconds, the ambulance raced away with the siren blaring. For the first time, Kyle noticed that the street was filled with police cars with their lights flashing. One was blocking the street at the corner to avoid cars from entering. Two policemen were cordoning off the area with yellow tape. A large, burly officer approached Mr. Caldwell and asked, “Is this your BMW?” “Yes, it is,” replied his father. The officer asked him to accompany him. Kyle watched as his father was taken to a police cruiser and helped into the back seat. He almost vomited when he looked down at the street and saw the large pools of blood. ‘He’s got to be dead,’ thought Kyle as his body began to tremble. Just the day before he had sat beside the injured boy in class and joked about his loud snoring. Now he was seriously injured, perhaps even dying. Kyle’s father got out of the back of the cruiser and motioned for him to come to the car. “You told me that you knew the boy?” asked his father. “He’s in some of my classes,” replied Kyle nervously as an officer took notes. The officer looked over and asked, “Do you know his name?” Kyle replied, “No, Sir.” “Do you have any idea why he was in the neighbor?” asked Mr. Caldwell. “He wasn’t coming to see you?” Kyle shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know why he would. We’ve never really talked.” “Perhaps he was visiting someone else?” suggested the officer. “Do any other students live in the neighborhood?” Kyle looked over at Brad’s home. He noticed someone peeking from a curtain on the second floor. “Only Brad,” replied Kyle as he looked at his father. “But I don’t think that’s who he was visiting.” The officer wrote something in his notebook and said, “I’ll have someone check it out anyway. You never know. The kid was here for some reason.” He looked over at his father and said, “Thank you, Mr. Caldwell. I think we have enough information right now. If anything else comes up, we’ll get in touch with you.” Kyle’s father asked, “Should I contact an attorney?” “I don’t think so,” replied the officer as he closed his notebook. “It appears this was an accident from what you say.” Kyle asked, “Do you think the boy will be alright?” The officer appeared worried. “Let’s hope so. The medics said he was in pretty bad shape.” Kyle’s father put his hand on his shoulder and they walked home. Since the car was still surrounded by yellow tape, he was told it would be several hours before he could remove it. Kyle sat in the kitchen with his father and talked. His father was extremely upset for hitting Buddy with his car. “I didn’t see him until it was too late,” he said. “He stumbled into the path of my car before I could even swerve to miss him.” “He’ll be okay,” insisted Kyle, even though he had no idea how bad Buddy’s injuries were. His father stopped speaking and stared at Kyle’s face. “What happened to you?” he asked as he put his hand to the side of Kyle’s face. Kyle winced and replied, “Melissa and I got into it again.” His father asked excitedly, “She did this to you?” Kyle hung his head and responded, “Yes, Sir. She’s going to have her girlfriends tell everyone I was having sex with Brad.” “What!” His father jumped from his chair and hurried from the room. A minute later, Kyle could hear his father upstairs screaming at Melissa in her bedroom. Fifteen minutes later, he returned to the kitchen. He was visibly upset with the argument he had with Melissa. He looked over at Kyle and said, “You won’t have to worry about your sister.” Just then, Melissa entered the room. She was looking at the floor, and her face was stained with tears. She walked over before Kyle and mumbled, “I’m sorry.” He jumped when his father barked, “He didn’t hear you!” Melissa looked into Kyle’s face and said clearly, “I’m sorry, Kyle.” His father said angrily, “And?” Tears filled Melissa’s eyes as she continued, “And I’m not going to spread anymore rumors about you.” She started crying and asked her father if she could go back to her room. “Alright,” he replied. “Remember what I told you. One more incident, and I’m sending you to live with your grandmother.” She nodded her head and hurried from the room. He looked over at Kyle and said, “Let me know if she gives you any more trouble.” Kyle’s father shook his head sadly. “If she doesn’t get her act together, your mother and I are sending her to live with your grandmother. We’ve taken about as much as we can take.” Kyle laughed and asked, “Do you want me to go upstairs and pack her bags.” They sat and talked for about a half hour about what had happened earlier. Mr. Caldwell was still visibly shaken. He kept telling Kyle, “He was just your age. I’d die if something like that happened to you.” It comforted Kyle to know that his father cared so much about him. Mrs. Caldwell arrived home after ten o’clock. She was upset because she had to park her car down at the corner and walk the hill to their home. The police still had the street cordoned off and wouldn’t let anyone enter. She became upset when they explained what had happened during the evening. They began by explaining the cuts and scratches on Kyle’s face. She agreed that if things didn’t change, then drastic measures would have to be taken. “I’m going to call a counselor tomorrow, and see if that will do any good,” she suggested. After a few minutes of discussing the situation, Kyle’s parents agreed it would be the best course to take. “Now,” she asked. “What happened down the street?” Mr. Caldwell explained about Buddy stepping into the path of his car. “Oh, Dear,” she remarked sadly. “I hope he’s alright. Maybe we should go to the hospital and check on him.” She became even more upset when Kyle told her that she had seen him at school. “Remember the boy who backed into you the other day at his locker?” She asked, “The tall, attractive young man?” Kyle nodded his head. “Oh, Dear,” she stated again. After talking about the incident for another twenty minutes, Kyle was told to go to his bedroom and get ready for bed. On the way to his room, he decided to step outside and see what was happening. He stood and watched as police walked around the Chambers’ house with flashlights. One officer had a dog on a leash which he had pacing around the side of the house. He sat down on a bench and watched the events that were occurring. Twenty minutes later, Brad and three other boys were taken to police cruisers, placed in the backseat and driven away. ‘What was that all about?’ Kyle thought to himself as he got up and returned to his bedroom. He stripped off his clothes and climbed into bed. It was several hours before he fell asleep. He kept wondering if the boy his father hit was alive. * * * * * * Andre was babysitting his sister’s children. One was asleep on the floor, and the other was lying beside him on the sofa. His mother had called earlier to inform him she would be working late. The couple whose house she cleaned was having a party, and they asked her if she would help the caterer serve food. His sister worked second shift at a machine shop, and she didn’t usually pick up the children until after one in the morning. He was watching a movie when he heard a car door slam shut. The noise woke the child sleeping beside him, and he picked her up and cradled her in his arms. He started humming a song as he attempted to get her to go back to sleep. He walked around the trailer a minute before going over to the kitchen window to peep outside. He figured it was Buddy’s mother returning from work with one of her ‘gentlemen’ friends. He had attempted to call Buddy several times to come over and keep him company, but he had never returned home. He knew Buddy was now delivering drugs for Aubrey, and he would be gone most nights. He had tried to talk him out of it, but Buddy insisted he needed the money. As much as he hated to admit it, Andre knew that it was probably the only way someone like them could have cash in their pocket. Andre was surprised to see a police cruiser parked outside. An officer was standing at Buddy’s trailer door. When no one answered, he walked around the trailer and peeked inside with his flashlight. Andre placed the baby back on the sofa, wrapped her in a blanket and then headed outside. The officer flashed his light in his face when he approached. Andre asked worriedly, “What’s wrong?” The officer responded gruffly, “You know where Mrs. Ryder is?” Andre asked, “Why?” The officer replied angrily, “If I had wanted you to know, I would have told you. Now, Kid, one more time,” he said sarcastically, “Do you know where she is?” Andre started to panic, “Has something happened to Buddy?” “You know him?” asked the officer as he flashed the light into his face again. Andre held up his arm to block the light. “Yes, I know him,” he replied. “He’s my best friend. Has something happened to him?” “Yeah, Kid,” the policeman replied, “There’s been a bad accident. I need to talk to his mother.” Tears started to fill Andre’s eyes. “What kind of an accident? Is Buddy hurt?” He grabbed the officers arm and pleaded, “Please tell me!” The officer hesitated before saying, “He was hit by a car over in the Forest Ridge area. I need to tell his mother.” Andre cried, “Is he dead?” “He’s hanging on,” replied the officer. “But I really need to talk to this mother.” “What hospital is he at?” pleaded Andre. “They took him to City General,” replied the officer. “Thanks,” responded Andre as he rushed back to his trailer. He had to find someone to watch the two children while he went to see Buddy at the hospital. “Wait!” hollered out the officer. “You didn’t tell me where his mother is.” Andre turned as he was entering the trailer and replied sadly, “It won’t do no good. She won’t care anyway.”
  14. Ronyx

    Chapter 7

    “I can assure you, Mrs. Caldwell,” remarked Dr. Carville, the Superintendent of Center City Schools, “that safety is our first concern.” He looked over at Kyle and continued, “We’ll do everything we can to make sure that your son is not harmed.” Mrs. Thornton, the principal of Center City High School, shuffled some papers on her desk, cleared her throat and said, “I’ve emailed Kyle’s teachers and informed them of the situation.” She looked over at Kyle and remarked, “There may be some initial problems. These things happen with teens. But after a few days, life, I’m sure, will return to normal.” “And if it doesn’t?” Kyle’s mother glanced over worriedly at her son. “Then what?” Dr Carville spoke very authoritatively, “We are quite prepared to handle the situation. Center City Schools has zero tolerance when it comes to bullying of any kind. All our students are aware of the consequences if they cross the line.” Mrs. Thornton looked worriedly at Kyle and asked, “What about the other matter?” “What other matter?” asked Mrs. Caldwell. “Well,” replied the principal as her face reddened slightly. “What about Kyle’s homosexual proclivities?” Kyle watched as his mother rose from her chair and looked angrily at Mrs. Thornton. “Proclivities?” she said loudly. “You make it sound like my son is some kind of a deviant.” Dr. Carville rose from his chair and stood in front of the principal’s desk. “I’m sure she didn’t mean it to sound that way.” He glanced down at Mrs. Thornton. “All children at Center City High are treated with the same respect as normal students.” “Normal students!” screamed Mrs. Caldwell. She glanced down at Kyle. “My son IS normal! You're assuming because of some photoshopped picture that Kyle is gay. I came here today to discuss his safety, not his sexuality." “Now, now,” replied Dr. Carville in a soothing manner as he pointed to a chair. “Please have a seat, Mrs. Caldwell.” “I’m not sitting!” Kyle’s mother spat angrily. “If any harm comes to my son while in school- or out,” she warned as she glared at the superintendent and principal, “I’ll sue this school district into oblivion.” She grabbed Kyle’s hand and pulled him to his feet. Before leaving, she turned and said, “And I’ll be sure that both of you will be standing in an unemployment line the next day.” After escorting his mother to the main entrance, he returned to get a pass to class. When he entered his second period history class, Mr. Peterson had already divided the class into several groups. He explained to Kyle that each group was writing a short play about the landing of the Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock. He looked around the room, and he told Kyle to join the third group. He walked over and took a seat beside Buddy. Buddy had his head down on the desk and appeared to be asleep. “Oh, it’s you,” snidely remarked Lizzy Taylor when he sat down. Lizzy was the student everyone hated because she was always asking questions in class. She would often take up so much class time that the teacher would have to assign additional homework. Lizzy appeared to be leading the group assignment. “I’ve already assigned the roles, so you can just sit and watch.” She glanced over at Buddy and remarked, “Or you can go to sleep.” Kyle snickered when Buddy, without lifting his head, raised his hand and flipped her off. Buddy sat up when their group went to the front of the class to present their play. He looked over and noticed Kyle still sitting beside him. He asked, “You taking an ‘F’ too?” Kyle smiled and shrugged his shoulders. “Looks like it,” he said, “since I wasn’t given a part.” “I’m failing this class anyway,” remarked Buddy. “Peterson gives too many assignments that has to be done on the computer.” Kyle asked, “You don’t have a computer?” “Nope,” replied Buddy as he put his head back down on the desk and pulled his hood over his head. It was the first time he had ever really talked to Kyle, and he didn’t want him to know how impoverished his living conditions were. Kyle completed an assignment for biology as the members of his group worked on their presentation. He was glad he wasn’t asked to participate because they were going to act out a five-minute play. He would have to get up in front of his classmates, and he knew that everyone would be thinking about the picture of Brad and him as they watched. So far, no one had said anything. However, he did see a few girls look at him and giggle. When his group performed, Kyle looked over and laughed when Buddy started to snore rather loudly. A couple of students sitting nearby laughed. Kyle scooted his chair nearer to Buddy, and then he lightly elbowed him in his side. Buddy slowly lifted his head from his desk. “What?” he asked as he pulled the hoodie from his face. Kyle stared into his hazel eyes and smiled. “You were snoring,” he giggled. He had seen Buddy in the past, and he always found him cute. But looking into his face, he noticed how handsome his features were. His strawberry blond hair flowed just beyond his earlobe. His eyebrows were a shade darker, and there was a hint of a thin blond mustache that was beginning to form on his upper lip. His cheeks were rosy, and he still had a few boyish freckles dotting his nose. Their eyes met for several seconds until Buddy looked away. Kyle noticed as his face began to redden slightly. “Was I?” he asked as he wiped the sleep from his eyes. Kyle giggled again. “Yeah,” he replied, “I was afraid the teacher was going to come back and say something.” “Thanks,” remarked Buddy appreciatively, “for looking out.” Again, their eyes met. “It was nothing,” replied Kyle as he looked at the school clock on the wall. His group had finished their play, and they were returning to the table. Kyle gathered his books and placed them inside his book bag. When the bell rang, he rose from his seat. He waited briefly for Buddy. He hoped they could walk down the hall and talk. However, Buddy got up and walked to the teacher’s desk to speak to Mr. Peterson. He tried to hear what he was saying, but they were talking quietly. As Kyle walked down the hallway to his third period class, he saw Brad approaching. He was flanked by several members of the football team. Brad stopped when he saw Kyle. He looked over menacingly as his eyes narrowed in anger. He walked over, grabbed Kyle’s jacket and slammed him against the wall. Several of his friends pleaded with him to stop, and they tried to pull Brad away from Kyle. He batted away their hands as he tightened his grip on Kyle. “We gotta talk, you little fag,” he spat angrily. Kyle pleaded, “I had nothing to do with that picture. Honest, Brad.” His voice trembled with fear as he looked into Brad’s angry face. He could sense students starting to gather around them and watch as Brad had him pinned to the locker. Kyle turned when he heard a voice say, “Leave him alone.” Brad slammed him again into the locker, and then loosened his grip. He had to steady his legs so he wouldn’t fall to the floor. “What are you doing?” Brad asked angrily as he faced Buddy. “Protecting your boyfriend?” “Why don’t you shut the fuck up!” spat Buddy as he stood defiantly before Brad. “You fucking moron!” Brad’s friends held him back as he balled his fist and tried to hit Buddy. Buddy took a step back, and he positioned himself for a fight. “I’ll fucking kill you!” screamed Brad. “You’re responsible for all this anyway!” he shouted. Brad had always assumed that Buddy had told either Kyle or Melissa that he saw Joy and him under the stairwell having sex. They stepped away from each other when they heard several teachers shouting for students to move so they could break up the fight. One was Coach Abernathy, Brad’s football coach. He grabbed Brad by the nape of the neck and quickly pulled him away from the crowd. As he did, Brad looked back and threatened, “This ain’t over with.” The coach slammed him against the wall and started hollering at him to get his ‘act together,’ or he was going to kick him off the team. Kyle was still shaking as he watched the coach drag Brad down the hallway. Students started to disperse and hurry to class. When he looked over to where Buddy was standing, he had disappeared into the crowd. * * * * * * “I just can’t do this anymore,” lamented Buddy as he lay on Andre’s bed with his head in Andre’s lap. Andre was gently running his hand through his hair. “It will be okay, Baby,” assured Andre as he leaned down and kissed Buddy’s forehead. Though they hadn’t been sexually active for over a year, he still felt a deep affection and loyalty for the boy who had been his first love. Buddy looked up into Andre’s eyes. “He’s going to kill me,” he said nervously. “I could tell it in his eyes. He thinks I’m the reason for Kyle’s sister breaking up with him. He also thinks I have something to do with that picture.” “Maybe you should talk to Kyle,” suggested Andre, “and tell him to have a talk with Brad.” “Not likely,” responded Buddy. “He was going to kick Kyle’s ass before I stopped him.” “Aww,” giggled Andre. “You saved your boyfriend.” Buddy rolled his eyes. “That’s what Brad said. Half the school heard him.” “I still think you should ask him out,” suggested Andre as he ran his hand through Buddy’s hair. “You said you picked up some vibes in class. You shouldn’t have ditched school and gone to your afternoon class to see if he would talk to you again.” Buddy sat up and leaned against the wall. He turned to Andre as tears appeared in his eyes. “We can’t keep kidding ourselves,” he replied as tears fell down his cheek. “Guys like Kyle aren’t meant for guys like us.” Andre reached over, took his hand and squeezed it. “How do you know if you don’t try?” “And do what?” asked Buddy. “Get hurt?” He laughed nervously. “No thanks. I’ve got enough problems as it is. I don’t need to add rejection to the list.” Andre turned toward Buddy. “What if he really does like you? What if you miss your chance?” Buddy fell back on the bed and laughed. “You really do believe what you’re saying, don’t you?” Andre nodded his head as tears welled up in his eyes. “I gotta believe it, Buddy. If I don’t, I’ll feel as miserable as you.” He jumped off the bed, went over to his CD player and hit play. Suddenly, Madonna’s Vogue blared throughout the room. Andre reached down and grabbed Buddy’s hand and pulled him to his feet. “I thought I broke that fucking thing,” spat Buddy. Andre laughed and said, “I stole another one at Kmart.” He tried to spin Buddy’s body. “Come on, Baby,” he pleaded. “Dance with me. Believe with me.” Andre fell on the bed and cried when Buddy hurried from the room. * * * * * Kyle was exiting school at the end of the day, when someone grabbed him from behind and dragged him into a doorway. When he turned, Brad and a couple of his friends were surrounding him and blocking him from leaving. Kyle asked nervously, “What do you want?” “You know what I want,” spat Brad angrily. “I want to know why you and that other fag sent out that picture.” “I didn’t have anything to do with it,” pleaded Kyle. “You have to believe me.” Brad grabbed Kyle’s jacket and lifted him off the ground. “Then why did he try to protect you this morning? I know he told you what he saw last week, and then you told Melissa.” Kyle’s voice trembled as he asked, “What are you talking about? I don’t even know him. Honest.” “Then who sent out that picture of us?” “I don’t know,” replied Kyle. “It must have been Melissa.” “How did she find out about Joy? I know your boyfriend told her,” spat Brad. Tears appeared in Kyle’s eyes as he pleaded, “Please let me go. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Brad pulled him closer as his friends stepped nearer. “I’m warning you, Fag,” he remarked angrily. “You’ve got everyone in this school thinking I was fucking around with you.” He tightened his grip on Kyle’s jacket. “You better tell them the truth, or next time I’ll kick your faggot ass.” He lifted Kyle off the ground and stared angrily into this face. “Got it?” “Yeah,” mumbled Kyle. Brad let go of his jacket, and Kyle fell to the ground like a rag doll. Brad kicked him lightly and warned, “Tell your boyfriend I’m coming for his ass. All this is his fault.” He turned and stormed down the hallway with his friends trailing behind him. Kyle lay on the cold floor for a minute before finally pulling himself to his feet. He peeked out the door and scanned the deserted hallway before leaving. “How was school, Dear?” His mother sang out from the kitchen when he entered the front door. He tossed his book bag on the floor and went into the room and sat at the island counter. A glass of milk and a plate of cookies were on the table in front of him. He smiled when he nibbled on one of the macadamia cookies. They were still hot from the oven. It had been several years since his mother had made fresh cookies. As she took another tray of cookies from the oven, she turned and asked, “Did anyone give you any trouble at school?” He took another bite and hesitated before answering. He knew his mother well enough to know that she would become upset if she thought Brad was threatening him. She turned and stood before him. “Well,” she asked with a smile. “Would the defendant answer the question.” “Well, maybe,” he responded timidly. She sat beside him and placed her hand over his. “Tell me what happened.” Reluctantly, he told her about the incident after school. She listened patiently without interrupting him. “So, you think Brad intends to harm this other boy?” Kyle nodded his head. He shook his head when she asked, “Do you know how to contact him?” “I don’t even know him,” he replied. “I don’t understand how he’s involved in all of this.” “Perhaps your sister does,” she said as she got up from her seat and left the kitchen. Kyle continued to nibble on his cookies and wonder why Brad seemed so upset with the boy in his history class. He didn’t know him. He had sat with him in history in the morning while other students prepared their presentation. Then, he had slept with his hoodie over his head. He had also sat beside him in literature, but they hadn’t spoken. He was also confused why he had attempted to stop Brad in the hallway after class. It was apparent he was willing to get his ass kicked just to protect him. But why? He looked up when his mother reentered the room. “She doesn’t know him, either,” she said with a sigh. “She swears no one talked to her about Brad except her friend, Laurie.” Kyle asked, “Is she the one who made the picture?” “Yes,” replied his mother angrily. “I called her mother last night, and she won’t be doing that again.” Kyle took another bite of his cookie, then he asked, “So what should we do? What if Brad hurts him?” “He won’t,” she replied as she left the kitchen. Kyle followed her into the foyer while she put on her coat. “I’m going to pay Mrs. Chambers a visit.” She looked at her watch. “I think she should still be working at the boutique.” She kissed him on the cheek and then left the house. When he went upstairs to his bedroom, he passed by his sister’s room. The door was slightly ajar, and he could hear her talking to someone on her cell phone. He was surprised because he had thought his mother had taken it from her. He was going to go to his room, but suddenly stopped when he heard his sister say, “I want Brad’s reputation ruined. The picture was a start. Now tomorrow, circulate the rumor that he was having sex with Kyle. Tell them that’s why I broke up with him.” Kyle opened the door and stared down at his sister who lay on her bed. “What!” he screamed. “Why are you doing this?” His sister jumped from the bed and yelled, “Get the fuck out! If you don’t, I’m going to call the police again!” Kyle yanked the phone from her hand and threw it across the room. “You Dweeb!” his sister hollered as she threw her arms around him and attempted to scratch his eyes out. He fell back and pinned her down on the bed. She continued to wrestle with him as she clawed at his face. He could feel her nails digging deeply into his skin. His sister hollered as she fought him, “I’ll get even with you!” As he struggled to restrain her, he asked, “Why are you doing this to me?” “Because I hate you!” she hollered. “You always wanted Brad. I saw the way you looked at him.” “What?” Kyle looked down into his sister’s reddened face. “I never wanted Brad.” “You did, too,” she started to cry. “Everyone wants Brad.” She stopped struggling and began to sob uncontrollably. She pounded on Kyle’s chest and yelled, “Get off me!” Hesitantly, Kyle rose from his sister and stood before her. She pulled the covers over her face and continued to cry. She looked up angrily and yelled, “Get out of my room!” Kyle looked down defiantly and warned, “You better not start any rumors about me and Brad. I’ll tell Mom.” “Do you really think I care?” she asked tearfully. “My life is already ruined.” “Well, you better not,” he warned. She pointed to the door and yelled, “Get out!” He turned and slammed the door on his way out. He then went to the bathroom across the hall. He looked in the mirror at his face. It was covered with deep and bloody cuts and scratches.
  15. Ronyx

    Chapter 6

    Buddy held up his hands and begged Aubrey not to shoot him. “I promise,” he cried. “I got jumped from behind. There was nothing I could do.” Aubrey eyed him angrily and spat, “Why didn’t you come to me and tell me? I had to hunt all over this fucking trailer park for you.” “I was going to,” insisted Buddy, “but I was too scared.” He pulled up his shirt and showed Aubrey the dark bruise on his left side. “See what they did to me?” Aubrey lowered his gun and placed it back in his waistband. “Aames is mad as hell that you didn’t show up with his stash. He thinks I’ve screwed him.” Buddy dropped his head and said, “Sorry, Man.” Buddy reached into his pocket and pulled out a plastic bag and handed it to Buddy. “Here,” he said as he shoved it into his hand. “Run this over to Aames. Tell him I’ve put a little more in for his trouble.” “But...” Buddy tried to resist, but Aubrey reached behind his back and pulled out his gun. “You got a problem with it?” He looked angrily at the scared teen. “No...” stammered Buddy. He shoved the baggie down inside his underwear. If anyone was going to rob him again, then they would have to search for it. “Good,” replied Aubrey as he waved the gun at Buddy. “Now scat.” As Buddy turned to leave, he Aubrey called out, “Hey, Kid.” “Yeah?” replied Buddy. “You owe me for what you lost.” He reached down and grabbed his crotch. “Yeah, sure,” replied Buddy. “And I think you owe Aames for his trouble,” he added. “I already told him. He’ll be waiting for you to make it right. Buddy nodded and headed down the sidewalk. The thought of having to perform oral sex on Aames sickened him. Aames was a married, overweight guy who looked like he rarely bathed. He feared, however, that if he didn’t do it, then Aubrey might be waiting to shoot him when he returned later. “Shit,” he moaned to himself as he approached Aames’ dilapidated home. “What have I gotten myself into?” * * * * * * “Thank you, Sergeant Murdock,” remarked Mrs. Caldwell as she led the policeman to the door. “I’ll take care of this little situation.” “I’m sure you will, Ma’am,” he replied as he put on his hat. “I’ve got two teenagers at home myself, and they’re constantly arguing.” “Well, Sergeant,” replied Mrs. Caldwell, “this is a little more than arguing.” “Yes, Ma’am,” he said as he stepped out the door. She then turned and hollered up the stairs, “Melissa! Kyle! Living room, Now!" Kyle waited until he was sure his sister was downstairs before he left his room. He still wasn’t sure what was going to happen. He knew his mother would be mad at him for slapping his sister and then having the police call her at work and ask her to return home immediately. However, his sister was the one to blame. She, after all, had sent the picture out that started the mess in the first place. He could hear his mother shouting as soon as he started down the stairs. “But, but...” he heard his sister mutter. “But, my ass!” His mother shouted. He knew things were serious when his mother used profanity. She was a prosecutor, and she knew how to control her emotions in a situation. When he entered the family room, his sister was slumped on the sofa with her head down. Tears were flowing down her face. He was surprised when his mother looked over and smiled. “Sit down, Kyle,” she said softly as she pointed to a wing back chair across the room. She then turned back to Melissa, held out her hand and ordered, “Show me the picture.” “But, Mommy,” cried Melissa as she fumbled with her phone. Kyle jumped when his mother yelled, “Show me that goddamn picture!” Melissa’s hand shook as she handed the phone to her mother. After looking at it, she threw the phone on the carpet and stomped on it. “Mommy!” Melissa shouted before she sat back and continued to sob. “Now I can’t talk to my friends.” Mrs. Caldwell responded angrily, “You won’t be talking to anyone for a long time,” she hissed. “Besides losing your phone, I’m also removing your computer from your room. If you need to do school work, you can use mine in my office.” “But, Mommy,” wailed Melissa. “I’ll lose all my friends.” Kyle watched as his mother approached Melissa. He closed his eyes because he thought she was going to hit her. He opened them when his mother began raging, “Do you have any idea what harm you’ve caused your brother and Brad with that horrible picture!” “But Brad deserved it,” Melissa cried out. “He embarrassed me at school.” “Embarrassed you at school!” shouted Mrs. Caldwell. She pointed to Kyle. “And what about your brother?” She stepped closer to Melissa and bent down until she was face to face with her. “Did you give one thought to what that disgusting picture would do to your brother?” Melissa looked over at Kyle and scowled. “But he deserved it, too.” Kyle watched as his mother stood. Her hands were balled into tight fists. She stepped into the center of the room and ordered calmly as she pointed upstairs, “Go to your room.” Melissa looked tearfully at her. “I’ll speak to you later when I don’t have the urge to slap the daylights out of you.” “But, Mommy,” cried Melissa as she stood. “Go, now,” calmly replied her mother. “And when you get to your room, disconnect your computer and put it outside in the hallway. I’ll have your father get it when he comes home later tonight.” Melissa started to say something, but Kyle could see the cold, hard look in his mother’s eyes. He realized it was probably that look that made her a successful prosecutor. He had never seen her in court, but he was sure that she was now in her ‘attorney’ mode. For Melissa’s sake, it was probably safer. He had never before witnessed his mother’s anger. After Melissa left the room, his mother walked over to the leather sofa and let out a deep sigh. She sat a minute before patting the seat beside her. “Come here, Kyle,” she ordered gently. He rose from his seat and hesitantly sat down beside her. She turned and faced him. “Are you alright, Dear?” she asked worriedly. “Did you have any problems at school today?” “A little,” he confessed. He figured since she didn’t appear angry, then it was perhaps a good time to tell her he had left school early. She would probably be informed of his absence anyway. “Yes, Ma’am,” he said. “Some of the kids were picking on me, so I left school after second period.” She reached out and gripped his hand. “You want to tell me what happened when you got home?” He tried to hold back tears as he related to his mother the incident with Melissa. He told her how his sister had called him a faggot, and that she thought he wanted to have sex with Brad. He figured Melissa would tell her anyway, so he wanted to tell his side of the story first. “I see,” his mother replied as she walked over to the bar, took out a glass, reached under the cabinet and poured some gin into it. She then went over to a small refrigerator and removed a Pepsi. She walked over, sat down and handed him the can. “I’d offer you a drink,” she laughed. “You probably need one worse than I do.” “I’m okay,” he assured her as he took a sip from the can. His mother kicked off her high heels, stretched out and let out a sigh. “Don’t ever have kids,” she muttered before laughing softly. Kyle giggled and replied, “I won’t.” He couldn’t believe how comfortable he felt sitting beside her. After everything he had been through during the day, he finally felt safe. They sat quietly for a minute before he mother spoke. “Are you going to be able to handle being out at school?” She looked over worriedly at him. Suddenly, a wave of fear surged through him. Why had she phrased the question like that? It sounded like she wasn’t even questioning what she had seen on the picture. Was she assuming that he was gay? She smiled and took his hand. “It’s okay,” she assured him. “Your father and I have known for some time.” When tears appeared in his eyes, she reached out and pulled him into her bosom. She rubbed his back as he cried softly for several minutes. Finally, he pulled away and asked her, “How did you know?” She smiled and gently wiped tears from his cheek. Her face, too, was wet with tears. “We watched you when you and Jordan were together.” “But we didn’t do anything in front of you.” His eyes widened when he realized what he had said. “You didn’t have to,” she laughed. “It was the way you looked at each other.” She gripped his hand and stated firmly. “We’ll talk later about what you meant by not doing anything in front of your father and me.” She laughed louder when Kyle’s face turned scarlet red. “One can assume by that statement that things did go on behind our back.” Kyle wanted to deny it, but he knew it would be useless. His mother was speaking as an attorney, and the last thing he wanted was for her to interrogate him about what he and Jordan did do together in his bedroom. He looked over and asked, “Are you and Dad mad at me?” “No, Baby,” she replied reassuringly as she gave him a hug. “We’ve just always been concerned what would happen if you did come out.” She reached up and ran her hand across his face. “You’re such a gentle person. We’re worried that someone might hurt you. I’ve seen so many cases of brutal assaults occur because of one’s sexual orientation.” She looked angrily over at the staircase. “And to think it would be your own sister who would put you in jeopardy.” Kyle asked, “What are you going to do to her?” His mother laughed and replied, “If I told you what I want to do, then your testimony could be used against me in court someday.” She took another sip of her drink. “I guess your father and I will decide what to do. Whatever it is,” she added, “just be glad it’s not you.” “I am,” he laughed. She looked at her watch and announced. “It’s getting late, and I still have to go talk to Melissa. Your father won’t be home until late, so we’ll both talk to her tomorrow. I’ll take you to school tomorrow.” “Why? he asked. “I can walk.” She looked over worriedly. “I want to talk to your principal.” “Why?” “I want to be sure you’ll be safe at school.” She leaned in and hugged him. “Now, go upstairs and do your homework, then go to bed.” “Okay,” he replied as he returned her hug. “I love you, Mom.” “Love you, too, Baby.” He jumped when she reached out to hit him on his butt as he started to walk away. “I’ll be in to see you later.” He was sound asleep when his mother and father crept into his room around midnight and gently kissed him on his forehead. * * * * * * “Hi, Aunt Mavis,” said Buddy as he stood on his aunt’s porch. She was dressed in her usually tattered housecoat and pink slippers. “Can I come in?” It was dark, and she peered out onto the street before opening the door and letting Buddy enter. “It’s late,” she said sharply. “I’ve told you if you can’t be here by nine, then don’t come around.” “Sorry,” he replied as he walked over and sat down on the old sofa. It sank from his weight. The springs had given out years before. When he slept on it at night, he always woke up sore in the morning. A hard board pressed against his waist and made for an uncomfortable night. He was tired, more tired than usual. His sides still hurt where his attackers had kicked him. One thing had worked in his favor, however. When he delivered the drugs to Aames earlier, his wife was home. He made Buddy go around to the back to wait for him outside the back door. After turning over the drugs and receiving the money, Aames started rubbing his cock inside his pants to make it hard. “Aubrey said you were going to make things up to me,” he remarked as his cock started to harden. Buddy turned his head so he wouldn’t have to watch. He felt that he was going to get sick if Aames pulled his cock out. He was saved when Mrs. Aames came to the door to see what was taking so long. He remarked angrily as he headed up the steps, “Next time, Kid.” Buddy was tired, but it wasn’t a physical tiredness. No, he was tired of life. He saw no end to the life he was living. He went home to a filthy trailer, and many nights he had to listen to his mother ‘entertaining’ a man she had picked up in the restaurant. He hated to admit that she was no more than a prostitute. He had often observed men handing her money as they left. And now, he was no better. To get high, he was performing oral sex on Aubrey to pay for the marijuana he needed to escape the reality of his life. After the incident with Aames, he knew it would only be a matter of time before he too would be sucking other men’s cocks for money. He had seen it happen too many times over the years. Straight men with children would offer their body to another man just to support their drug habit. Everyone soon knew about it, but they still insisted that they were not gay. He knew he would soon be regarded as a hustler. When he woke up the next morning, he could smell the aroma of coffee coming from the kitchen. Wearily, he rose from the sofa, stretched his lanky body and then headed into the bathroom. He stripped off his clothes and jumped into the shower. He jumped back when cold water burst out of the shower head. “Damn!” he muttered as he took a washcloth and carefully washed his body clean. He was freezing cold when he stepped out and toweled himself off. “Do you know there’s no hot water?” he asked as he walked into the kitchen. “Yes, goddamn it!” His aunt remarked angrily. “The hot water heater burst the other night. Water was all over the fucking utility room.” He poured a cup of coffee and sat down at the kitchen table. His aunt stormed around the kitchen opening and slamming shut cupboards. He knew she didn’t have money for a new hot water heater, so she would have to bathe and do her laundry in cold water for several months, if not longer. “How’s school going?” She asked as she placed a plate of two fried eggs, a slice of bacon and a piece of toast on the table in front of him. She took another plate off the counter and sat down. “I dunno,” he replied. “I’m thinking of dropping out.” “And do what?” she asked as she looked around the small kitchen. “Live in a shit hole like this the rest of your life?” He shrugged his shoulders. “Not too much of a chance to get out,” he replied as he took a bite of toast. “Got that right,” she muttered. “That worthless mother of yours should never have had you.” “Thanks,” he responded sadly. “That was encouraging.” He stood, finished drinking his coffee and put on his thin jacket. “I gotta go.” He bent down and kissed his aunt on the cheek. “Thanks for breakfast.” She waved him off as he headed for the door. * * * * * * Kyle looked over at his mother and whined, “Do you really have to speak to the principal? I’ll be alright.” “Yes,” insisted his mother as she opened the door to the black Escalade. “I’m not going to have you hurt like some children I hear about on the news.” “Mom,” whined Kyle again. “I’m not a child. I can take care of myself.” His mother stood before him and eyed him skeptically. “When have you ever been in a fight?” “Well,” he muttered. “Never.” He looked up at her and smiled. “You told me never to get in a fight.” “Nice try,” she laughed as she took him by his arm and started walking toward the school. Kyle pulled away and walked ahead of her. It was bad enough that she was escorting him to school. All he needed was other students to see her holding onto him like a protective mother hen. As they approached the office, a student stepped away from his locker, bumped into Mrs. Caldwell and almost knocked her to the floor. “Watch where you’re going!” yelled the young man angrily. Buddy turned to look into Mrs. Caldwell’s eyes. “I’m sorry,” apologized Kyle’s mother. “However,” she admonished him, “you should be more careful when you back out of your locker.” “Listen...” Buddy started to get upset, but he glanced over and saw Kyle staring back at him. His face reddened when he realized he was arguing with his mother. He took a step back and said, “I’m sorry, Ma’am. I should have been more careful.” Mrs. Caldwell watched closely as Buddy glanced quickly over at Kyle before slamming his locker shut and hurrying away. “That was strange,” she remarked as she watched Buddy rush down the hall. She turned to Kyle and asked, “Do you know him?” “Not really,” he answered. “He’s in a few of my classes, but we don’t talk.” “Maybe you should,” replied his mother as she took his arm and headed toward the principal’s office.

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