“Do you think everything will be alright?” asked Craig when Blake left the room.
I replied, “He’s got a safe place to stay here.”
Suddenly, we heard Blake screaming, “What are they doing here?” We ran to the door to listen, but Uncle Steve approached.
“Stay in this room, Boys,” he warned. “Close the door and lock it.”
“Why?” I asked worriedly. I could still hear Blake shouting and crying from the family room.
Uncle Steve began pulling the door closed. “I’ll explain later. Now, stay put!” He closed the door. I wanted to open it, but I was afraid he was still outside. I began pacing around the room. “What the hell is going on? Why’s Blake so upset? I thought he wanted to stay here.”
Craig walked over to the door and put his ear to it. “I don’t think it’s that. I hear a man and woman shouting. They seem to be arguing with Mr. Ellis.”
“Why?” I approached the door and tried to listen. I heard a man shout threateningly, “You’re coming home with us, Blake! I don’t give a damn what you want to do! We’re your parents, and you’ll do what we tell you to do!”
“Shit,” I hissed. “That’s Blake’s parents! They’re making him go home!”
“Seth! Craig!” screamed Blake. “Help me!”
Craig opened the door and ran out. I followed behind him. Just as we entered the family room, Blake’s father was dragging him out the door. Blake continued to scream for me and Craig to help him. Craig tried to rush over, but Uncle Steve grabbed him. I noticed a man in a blue suit standing off to the side.
“Blake!” I shouted.
He cried out, “Help me, Seth!” I rushed over to the window and looked out. His father was throwing him into the back seat of an SUV. His mother jumped into the driver’s seat, and the man in the blue suit got into the passenger’s side. She then quickly pulled off.
“Blake!” I cried out tearfully. I turned and looked at Mr. Ellis. “Where are they taking him?”
My uncle helped a distraught Craig over to the sofa. Mr. Ellis wrapped his arm around me and sat me beside Craig. We fell against each other and cried. Mr. Ellis got a chair and placed it in front of us. He had tears in his eyes, and he looked as upset as Craig and me.
“I’m sorry, Boys,” he apologized.
“Where are they taking Blake?” I cried. After watching his father roughly tossing him into the SUV, I was worried about his safety.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “There was nothing I could do. They refused to give your aunt and uncle guardianship.” I looked at my aunt and uncle. They were standing by the door. My aunt had her head buried in my uncle’s chest as she sobbed uncontrollably. Mr. Ellis continued to explain. “They brought their attorney with them. We could have been arrested for kidnapping if we refused to let Blake leave with them.”
“It’s not fair!” I cried. “Blake was happy here.”
“Right now, it’s out of my hands,” responded Mr. Ellis tearfully. “I’ll have one of our lawyers contact children’s services and see if there is a history of abuse. If there isn’t, there’s not a lot I can do right now. They are his parents, and they have certain rights too.”
I said worriedly, “Blake will never stay with them. He’ll run away, or…” I began to cry uncontrollably. “Or kill himself.”
Craig looked at Mr. Ellis and pleaded. “You’ve got to do something. Blake hates his parents.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” he replied as he looked at his watch. “Seth, it is a little past one. I was going to take you home to meet your mother. However, I think we all need to take a break. I’m going back to my office and fill my staff in on what has happened. We’ll see what options we have. I’ll call your mother and tell her I’ll be bringing you home at three.”
“I don’t want to go,” I insisted. “What if something happens to me like what happened to Blake. What if Stacy attacks me again?”
“I’m going to warn your mother when I call her,” he replied, “that if any violence occurs, I’m going to file a report with the police department.”
Uncle Steve remarked from the side, “I’ll be there too.” He frowned and added, “This time I’ll wear long sleeves and gloves in case Stacy wants to bite me again.”
“I’ll knock her teeth out if she tries,” snarled Aunt Marie.
Mr. Ellis looked back at us. “Why don’t you boys go to your room and wait for me to return.”
“Can I go with you when you take Seth home?” He reached down and gripped my hand. I smiled because I knew he wanted to protect me from Stacy.
Mr. Ellis replied, “I’m afraid not, Craig. It’s a family matter, and only family members can be present.” Craig nodded and looked sadly at me. We rose and headed to the bedroom.
Craig sat on the edge of the bed and buried his head in his hands. “Man, I can’t believe Blake had to return home,” he began to cry. He looked at me with tearful eyes. “Do you think he’ll be okay?”
I shook my head. “No,” I replied sadly. “There’s no way he’ll stay with his parents. He’ll just run away again.”
Craig replied, “Maybe he’ll go back to the warehouse. We can always find him there.”
“I hope so. No one knows about it but you and me,” I said. Just then Craig’s phone buzzed. He looked at it.
“It’s Mom,” he said. “She wants me to come home.” He rose, and we embraced. “If you hear from Blake, let me know.” We hugged again before he headed out the door. I went over to the bed and lay down. After lying awake for about a half hour, I finally fell asleep.
I woke up startled from a bad dream. I looked at the door and wondered if I had shouted out. I dreamt that Blake was dead. He had run off, and I was in a search party looking for him. We were in a forest, and it seems like I had trudged through trees and overgrowth looking for him. I then came upon a clearing. There was a single tree, and Blake was hanging from it. I woke up frightened. The dream seemed so real. I began to cry and pray that Blake was okay.
I walked across the hall and took a shower. Mr. Ellis said he would return later and take me home. I really didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay here in case Blake returned. He had promised Uncle Steve that if he had a problem, he would tell him. I am hoping that if he does run away, he’ll come here first.
I had just finished dressing when I heard the doorbell ring. I walked to the door, and I could hear Mr. Ellis talking to my aunt and uncle. I hurried downstairs to see if he had heard from Blake.
“Is Blake okay?” I asked as I entered the family room. Mr. Ellis replied with a sad expression that he hadn’t heard anything.
“I’ve got a few people on the case,” he informed us. “Several runaway reports were filed with the police, but there doesn’t seem to be any complaints filed with the police or children’s services against his parents.”
I pleaded, “You gotta do something, Mr. Ellis. I just know something bad is going to happen.” Mr. Ellis tried to assure me that Blake would be safe. He said his parents both hold respectable jobs, and they attend church regularly. I responded by saying, “Blake said they hate him.”
“There’s still very little I can do,” he replied. “A lot of children and their parents don’t get along. You don’t get along with your mother and sister right now. Does that mean I should remove you from your home?”
I said angrily, “But she hit me.”
“Yes, she did,” he replied. “I made a report of it, and it is in your case file. If she does it again, I’ll have her arrested for battery. I called her from my office and informed her of that.”
“What about Stacy?”
“Her too,” he said. He put his hand on my back and asked me if I was ready to go home. I told him I wasn’t, but I would go anyway. Aunt Marie and Uncle Steve said that they would go with us. Mr. Ellis seemed pleased. I think he was worried about Stacy attacking me again. At least Uncle Steve could deal with her. We laughed when he went to the closet and pulled out a heavy pair of winter gloves.
“Just in case,” he joked as he put them on. “Marie, you’ll have to drive.”
My mother was looking out the window when we pulled up. As soon as I got out of the car, I walked over to my car and examined it. I had left it the day before, and I wanted to see if Stacy had damaged it. Fortunately, I didn’t see anything wrong.
Mom opened the door when we approached. She tried to give me a smile, but I could tell it was forced. I walked past her without saying anything. Mr. Ellis was keeping a watchful eye on me. We went into the family room and sat down.
Uncle Steve looked around and asked my mother where Stacy was. “She hasn’t come home from school yet. She looked at the clock on the wall and said that she should be getting home soon. I laughed when Uncle Steve removed the gloves from his back pocket and put them on his hands.
Mr. Ellis said that we should get started. I wasn’t sure what would happen, so I sat and listened as he and my mother talked about my sexuality. She seemed to be more understanding than I expected her to be. She said she began wondering if I was gay when I was about twelve. I was embarrassed when she talked about how I would rather spend time alone in my bedroom playing video games and reading books. She pressured me all the time to go outside and play baseball and football with the other boys, but I never showed an interest in doing that.
I wanted to die when she told Mr. Ellis, “I knew for sure when I was cleaning his room one day, and he had left his computer on.” She looked at me and frowned, “He had been visiting some gay boy site. There weren’t any pictures, but I could tell what he had been doing.” I don’t think my face could have gotten any redder. I wanted to bury my head in the sofa pillows.
“Mom,” I moaned. “Can you talk about something else?”
“No, Seth,” admonished Mr. Ellis. “Let your mother express her feelings.”
“Anyway,” continued my mother, “I knew then that Seth might be gay. After that, I pressured him into dating a nice girl. I hoped that perhaps I could change him.” She looked at me and frowned. “I guess it didn’t work.”
“Let’s talk about Seth dating boys,” suggested Mr. Ellis. “Will you be able to handle that?”
“I’d rather not,” replied my mother as she looked angrily at me. “But it better not be Craig.”
“Mom!” I started to protest, but Mr. Ellis stopped me.
“Mrs. Miller,” said Mr. Ellis. “Seth and Craig are very close. It appears to me that they are romantically involved.”
“Oh, no!” exclaimed my mother as she started to cry.
“If you try to keep them from seeing each other,” he continued, “It will only cause Seth to rebel, and you will never have a normal relationship with your son.” He looked at me, but I didn’t know how to respond. I turned my head away.
“Julie” said Aunt Marie as she walked over and sat on the armrest and rubbed my mother’s back. “What Mr. Ellis said is true. Seth and Craig care a lot for each other. I know Craig dated Stacy, but he now has feelings for Seth.”
My mother looked at me with tearful eyes, “Why, Seth?”
“It just happened, Mom,” I replied tearfully. “When Craig was in the hospital, things just happened.”
“I don’t understand,” my mother responded. “If Craig was dating Stacy, then he can’t be gay.”
“He’s gay, Mom,” I replied. “You have to believe that.”
“So, he deceived Stacy?” she asked angrily.
Aunt Marie held my mother’s hand and said, “I don’t think he was intentionally deceiving Stacy. He was confused and didn’t know what to do.”
“But he’s such a nice boy,” exclaimed my mother.
“He’s still a nice boy,” replied Mr. Ellis. “He’s the same boy today that he was last week.”
My mother shook her head and said, “Except he now likes my son instead of my daughter.”
“Yes, Julie,” agreed Aunt Marie.
My mother looked over and said, “You know I don’t want him in this house again.”
I started to protest, but Mr. Ellis gave me a warning look. “I think Seth understands that right now,” he said as he looked at me. I reluctantly nodded my head. She hadn’t said that I couldn’t see him again. She just didn’t want to see him again.
We turned when we heard the front door open. Stacy rushed past the room carrying a book bag over her shoulder. She didn’t even look in to see what was going on. Uncle Steve let out a loud sigh. I think he was glad because he didn’t have to stop her from attacking me again. Although, I noticed that he moved toward the door so he could prevent her from running in again with a baseball bat.
Mr. Ellis and my mother talked for about a half hour about having a gay son. He gave her several books and brochures to read. She pretended to be interested, but I know my mother. She was bored. I think she wanted everyone to leave so she could go to her office and do some work.
I rose and said that I had to use the restroom. After finishing, I opened the bathroom door to see Stacy standing in the doorway of her bedroom. “What are you doing, Fag? Trying to come back home?”
I pulled my phone from my pocket and threatened, “I wonder what Mom would say if I showed her some pictures? Slut!” She stared angrily at me and then slammed her bedroom door.
When I returned to the family room, Mr. Ellis suggested that he, Aunt Marie and Uncle Steve should go into the living room and let me and my mother talk. I didn’t want to do it, but they left before I could stop them. I looked at my mother. She was staring intently at me. I grew nervous and began twiddling my thumbs.
“Well, Seth,” said my mother.
I gave her a puzzled look and asked, “Well, what?”
“Don’t you think you owe me and Stacy an apology?”
“For what?” I asked defiantly. I felt I had done nothing that would warrant an apology.
“Well, for one,” she said with an annoying voice. “You’ve hidden the fact you’re gay from me for how long?”
I hung my shoulders and shrugged, “I don’t know. A couple of years, I guess.”
“You’ve known you were queer for a couple of years, and you didn’t say anything?” she asked.
I replied angrily, “I’m gay! Not queer!”
“Gay, queer,” she responded. “They all mean the same thing.”
I rose and replied, “I’m not staying in here with you.”
“Sit down,” she hollered as she pointed her finger at me. “I have every right to be upset. It’s too bad you’re not man enough to deal with it.”
She rose and approached me. I covered my face thinking she was going to slap me. “I want you to sit down, Seth,” she said more softly. “We’ve got to talk this out.” Reluctantly, I sat down.
“I know I haven’t been the best mother,” she said. “Perhaps, you have every right to hate me.”
“I don’t hate you,” I responded.
“Yes, you do,” she said. “I can see it in your eyes. I guess I’ve always been closer to your sister, but she’s a girl. Mothers and their daughters bond better than a boy and his mother.” I wanted to say something, but I didn’t. I knew a lot of my friends who got along great with their mothers. She was just trying to find an excuse why she had neglected me for all these years. “It’s going to take me a while to get used to you being queer, I mean gay. But I’m willing to try if you are.”
I looked at her and asked, “What is my punishment?”
“Yes,” I replied. “You always have a punishment for me.”
“I didn’t consider a punishment,” she said thoughtfully. “Should you be punished?”
“No,” I said. “I haven’t done anything wrong.”
“That’s your problem, Seth,” she replied. “You don’t see anything wrong with what you’ve done.”
“What have I done?” I asked angrily. “Because I’m gay?”
“No,” she answered. “It’s not that. You don’t understand how much you’ve hurt your sister.”
“I told you,” I replied. “I didn’t steal Craig from Stacy.”
“Maybe you didn’t,” she responded. “But what you two did caused your sister and a lot of other students to be arrested. What were you thinking?”
My face reddened as I responded, “It wasn’t my fault.” I was embarrassed that my mother knew that Craig had sucked me in the pool room. Stacy must have told her. For a brief moment, I considered pulling out my phone and showing her the naked picture of Stacy. “So, what do you want me to do?”
“Perhaps at dinner,” she suggested, “You can apologize to your sister.”
I wanted to jump up and holler, “Hell, no! I’m not going to apologize to that slut!” However, I knew that if I was going to return home, Stacy and I would be forced to see each other. I realized we would never get along. We hadn’t in the past. However, at least I could sleep at night knowing that she wouldn’t come into my bedroom and put a steak knife in my heart.
“Seth?” mother asked. “Did you hear me?”
“Yeah,” I replied. “I’ll try.”
“Good,” said my mother. “Is there anything more you want to talk about?”
“What about friends?” I asked. “Can I have friends over?”
Her eyes narrowed, and I knew what she was going to say. “You’re free to have anyone visit except Craig. And before you say anything, just think about it. He dated your sister. How uncomfortable would she be with him in the same house?”
I knew it was unrealistic to think that Craig would ever be welcome in our home again. But at least my mother didn’t object to others. She didn’t know about Blake yet. That is, if he ever returns again. By now, his parents may have shipped him to a family member in another state. I looked at her and nodded.
“Fine,” she rose and headed towards the living room. “I need a drink.” She went over to the bar and poured a drink. She asked if anyone else wanted one. My uncle said he would like a whiskey sour. Mr. Ellis motioned for me to go over to the door. He put his arm around my back as he escorted me from the house.
As we walked down the sidewalk, he asked how things had gone with my mother. “Do you feel you can safely return home?”
“I think so,” I replied. “She isn’t as mad today as she was yesterday.”
“That’s because I spent a half hour talking to her on the phone before I came and got you,” he replied. “Just give her a little time to adjust.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out his business card. “If you have any problems, here’s my number. Give me a call anytime, day or night.”
“Thank you, Mr. Ellis,” I replied appreciatively. “I will.” He walked over to his car and got in. Before leaving, I ran over and tapped on the window. He rolled the window down and I asked, “Can you call me if you hear from Blake? I’m really worried about him.”
“We all are,” he said sadly. “I’ll let you know, if I can.” He smiled nervously and drove off.
When I returned to the house, Mom and Aunt Marie were busy preparing dinner. My mother hollered out, “Seth! Would you set the table?” I couldn’t understand why one of them couldn’t do it. They were just standing around in the kitchen talking. I went into the dining room and began taking plates out of the China cabinet.
Twenty minutes later, dinner was ready. Aunt Marie hollered upstairs for Stacy to come down. She said she wasn’t hungry, but Mom went to the bedroom and returned with her. She looked angrily at me before sitting down across the table.
The table was extraordinarily quiet. Usually, when my aunt and uncle join us, there is a lot of talking. Much of the time Stacy talks about Craig and the football team. It was strange to look over and watch her eating quietly with her head down.
We were about through when my mother cleared her throat and looked over at me. “Seth,” she said, “Is there something you’d like to say to Stacy?”
I gave my mother an angry look. “What?” I know she had said that I should apologize to Stacy at dinner, but I didn’t think she would actually make me do it. I looked at Stacy, and she was glaring at me.
My mother said, “Don’t you think you owe your sister an apology like we talked about?”
“Julie,” admonished Aunt Marie. “What are you doing? Are you trying to instigate trouble?”
“It’s really none of your business, Marie,” angrily responded my mother. Aunt Marie started to get up, but Uncle Steve grabbed her arm and pulled her back into her seat. The tension around the table was quickly rising.
“Seth,” said my mother as she glared at me. “Tell your sister you are sorry.”
“Yeah, Seth,” quipped Stacy sarcastically. “Tell me how sorry you are for stealing Craig from me.”
I wanted to call her a bitch and knock the smirk off her face. She was enjoying watching my mother humiliate me. I reached into my pocket, pulled out my cellphone, stared defiantly at my sister and slammed it on the table. She jumped with a frightened look on her face.
I asked threateningly, “What do you want me to do, Stacy?”
“What is going on?” my mother asked. She gave Stacy and me a puzzled look.
“Nothing,” replied Stacy as she rose from the table. “I’m going to my room.”
My mother hollered out, “But Seth hasn’t apologized yet.”
She muttered, “Forget it,” as she fled the room.