I can’t believe it. No matter how long I look at it, the image won’t disappear from my eyes.
Well-known Attorney Arrested in Local Park
Rudolph Thomas, age 43, was arrested Friday afternoon in Mount Evans Park for solicitation for sex. Mr. Thomas was taken into custody after trying to proposition a male undercover officer in a park restroom. According to the police report, Mr. Thomas asked the officer if he could perform oral sex on him.
Rudolph Thomas is a prominent criminal attorney in Mount Evans. He is best known for defending Stanley Sullivan, who was tried for a double murder involving his wife and alleged lover. After a controversial four month trial, a jury returned an acquittal. Mr. Thomas was able to convince a jury that it was a case of self-defense, even though the gun, Sullivan claimed he was threatened with, was never produced.
Mr. Thomas was released on his own recognizance after being booked into the Mount Evans Police Department. Mr. Thomas lives in the Ridgewood Height Estates with his wife and two sons.
I’m one of the two sons. I’m reading the article in the morning newspaper. It made the front page. They even have a picture of Dad coming out of the police station with his face shielded by some papers.
I don’t know where he is right now. He came home for a few minutes and got some things out of his office. He and Mom got into a horrible fight. She has been crying almost non-stop since he left last night with some luggage and his briefcase. My brother and I were sitting on the bed listening to them yell at each other. After a few minutes, I had to go over to my stereo and turn it up loud, because of the words they were using. I’m sixteen, so it wasn’t anything I had never heard, or used myself. But Randy is only seven, and I didn’t want him to know what was going on.
How do you tell a seven year old kid his daddy was arrested in a park trying to suck another guy’s dick? No matter how hard I try, I can’t even comprehend it. I always thought he was perfect. Unlike many hard-working fathers, he was always there for me and Randy. I looked up to him. He was the person I wanted most to be like when I grew up. I even thought I’d become an attorney just so I could please him. And now this.
“Give me that damned newspaper!” I jumped when my mother snatched the paper from my hands and started tearing it into small pieces and letting them fall to the floor. I looked into her face, and she looked- old. She was only thirty eight, but it appeared the events of yesterday had aged her ten years. Her face was tear-stained, and she still had on her robe. She hadn’t taken the time to fix her hair or apply her makeup. I had never seen her look so wretched.
“Go to your room!” She shouted. Randy was coming into the kitchen, and I grabbed his hand and led him upstairs. We went into my room and I sat on the side of the bed. Randy jumped into my lap and threw his arms around my neck and started crying.
“What’s going on Artie?” he cried. “What’s wrong with Mommy? And where is Daddy?”
I held him tightly while we both cried. In one day, the life we had grown accustomed to had come crashing down. How could I explain to him that our lives would never be the same again? How do I tell him that we’ll never go camping with Dad again, or enjoy an amusement park as a family? My heart sank with his next question.
“What did Daddy do that made Mommy so mad at him,” he sobbed into my shoulder.
I couldn’t tell him that Dad was gay. I didn’t even know myself if he was. I heard guys talk about being bisexual. From what I understood, that was men who liked having sex with women and men. Maybe that is what he was. After all, he did father me and Randy.
Randy pulled away and looked sadly into my eyes. “Is he coming back home, Artie?”
I shook my head, and then held him while we both cried again. I could tell by Mom’s reaction, that Dad would probably never come back into the house. I heard her tell grandmother last night that she was going to get a lawyer and file for divorce.
He sobbed loudly, “I don’t understand what’s going on, Artie.”
I looked into his wet eyes and tried to explain as best I could what he might be able to comprehend. “Daddy made a big mistake yesterday. Mommy’s really mad at him now. I don’t think Daddy will be coming back home.”
“What did he do that was so bad?” He was pleading for something that would make some sense of what was going on.
“I can’t really explain it to you, Randy,” I said. “I don’t even understand it myself. He just did something he shouldn’t have, and now Mommy’s mad at him. Maybe someday I can explain it to you, but right now I don’t think you’d understand.”
“Are we going to be able to see Daddy again,” he cried.
“Of course, we will.” I tried to sound cheerful, but I wasn’t really sure if we would or not. By the way Mom was acting, I had my doubts.
I heard the phone ringing downstairs. It had been ringing constantly since the evening news reported Dad’s arrest. Mom had turned the television off downstairs in the den and told me and Randy not to watch it anymore that night. However, I turned the television on at 11:00 pm, and saw the lead story about Dad. It was right after that when he came home and packed his things. I watched out my window as he walked slowly down the sidewalk and got into his Mercedes and drove away.
When I went into the kitchen earlier to make some breakfast, I saw the phone flashing, indicating there were messages waiting to be received. There were thirty-four. I hit the replay button, and the first message was a private call which sounded like it was from an older man. “Hey, Buddy. Want to suck my cock? I’ll meet you in the park tonight at 8:00.” He laughed, and then hung up the phone.
I quickly deleted the remaining messages and then turned off the messenger. I’d leave it up to Mom if she wanted to answer the phone. I’d heard it ring several times since then, so I guess she wasn’t going to take any calls.
The kitchen door slammed, and I waited a minute before removing Randy from my lap. I then walked over to the window and watched as Mom backed her Volvo out of the garage and drove away. I grabbed my brother’s hand and led him back downstairs.
We went into the kitchen, and I began to fix him something to eat. He was still sniffling, but he had stopped crying. I felt so sorry for him. He didn’t have a clue what was happening.
“Where did Mommy go?” he asked. I looked over on the counter to see if she left a note. Usually when she leaves, she’d write a note telling us where she was going and how long she’d be gone. This morning she didn’t bother to tell us.
“I don’t know, Little Guy.” I tried to sound optimistic, but I could tell by his face he was worried.
I prepared us a bowl of cereal and a glass of orange juice. We sat on the bar stools and ate from the kitchen counter. Randy scooted his chair close to mine, resting his body against me. He was scared, and he was trying to stay as close to me as possible.
We ate quietly, and occasionally the phone would ring. Randy asked me why I wouldn’t answer it, and I told him that Mom told me not to. It was a small lie, but at least I could avoid hearing people talk like the guy in the first message.
We both jumped when we heard the front doorbell. I told Randy to stay where he was, and I went to answer it. I carefully opened it, only to find a television reporter standing on the porch. The lights from a camera briefly blinded me.
“Is Mr. Thomas here, Young Man?” I attempted to close the door, but he put his foot against it.
“Are you his son?” He thrust the microphone in my face as he held the door open.
“Do you have anything you’d like to say?”
Suddenly, I heard a loud commotion coming up the sidewalk. “Get away from that fucking door, or I’m going to have you arrested for trespassing.” It was my grandmother. She was swinging an umbrella, and she looked like she was ready to do damage to the news reporter. As she approached, the reporter turned with a stunned expression.
“I’m counting to three and you’d better be moving!” she shouted.
“1” She started swinging the umbrella at the camera man and reporter. Both were throwing up their arms to prevent her from hitting them.
“Stop it, Lady!” shouted the reporter. “We’re leaving.”
“You’re not leaving fast enough!” she yelled as she hit them both again. “You should be ashamed of yourself, trying to get a young boy to talk to you.” She hit them again as they took off running down the sidewalk. Just then a police car pulled into the driveway, and the reporter ran over to it.
They talked a minute before the reporter got into the news truck and drove away. The policeman got out of his car, and my grandmother walked down to meet him.
“I want them arrested for trespassing.” I heard her shout. The officer talked calmly to her, and soon she settled down. They spoke a few more minutes, before my grandmother shook the officer’s hand and came back to the house.
“Are you boys all right?” she asked as she entered. “Has this been going on all morning?”
I explained that it was the first time anyone had come to the door, but that we had been getting a lot of phone calls. Just then, Randy ran out of the kitchen and jumped into grandmother’s open arms. Once again, he started crying. She held him and tried to comfort him.
“Rudy, go unplug all the phones in the house,” she instructed.
“What if Mom tries to call?” I asked.
“She’s gone for a while,” she informed me. “She knows my cell phone number if she has to contact us.”
“Where’s Mommy?” Randy asked.
“She had to take care of some business,” she said reassuringly. However, I knew where she went. She had told Dad last night that she was going to file for divorce first thing in the morning. I figured that was where she had probably headed.
Randy asked tearfully, “Is she coming back?”
“Of course, she’s coming back.” She pulled Randy into an embrace and held him tightly while he continued to cry. She looked over at me with a worried look. I left the room and unplugged all the phones in the house. You never know how many there are until you go around and count them. There were seven in the house, one at the poolside and one in the garage.
When I went back into the house, they were in the den. Grandmother was sitting on the sofa, and Randy was asleep with his head in her lap. She was gently stroking his hair. She motioned for me to sit down beside her.
“Do you know what is going on?” she whispered. I nodded my head. “Are you going to be all right, Rudy?”
Tears welled up in my eyes, but I was determined to stay strong. I knew Randy, and perhaps my mother, were going to need my strength to get through all this.
“You’re a good boy, Rudy.” She reached out and stroked my hair. Grandmother and my mother were the only people who still continued to call me Rudy. That was also my father’s name. I was Rudolph Thomas II.
When I was about ten, my friends started calling me RT. I started writing it down on my papers at school, but I thought it looked stupid. One day I wrote it, Artie. Since then I’ve gone by that name. All my friends and teachers now call me that. Even Randy thought it was cool. Since his name is Randolph Thomas, he said he was going to use it too. I finally convinced him it would be confusing if we both went by the same name. I told him that when I outgrew it, he could officially have it. Almost once a week he’ll ask me if I am tired of it yet. Once in a while, I’ll catch him practice writing it on a paper.
I asked Mom and Dad to call me Artie, but Mom refused. She said she was only going to call me by my given name. Reluctantly, Dad agreed. It took him about six months before he started saying it without throwing in a Rudy now and then.
“How much does Randy know?” she asked softly.
“Not much,” I replied. “I don’t know how to explain it to him.”
“Maybe it’s best we don’t explain anything just yet,” she suggested. I nodded my head in agreement.
After sitting silently beside her for a little while, I excused myself and went to my room. I grabbed my cell phone and lay down on the bed.
My phone had been very active. I had fourteen calls and six text messages. I knew who had been texting me. Only one person usually did that- Adam Vance, my best friend. We’d been friends since the fifth grade. He lived four blocks over from us. We met when I was riding my bike past his house one day and he was coming out of his driveway on his bike. He asked me where I was going. I told him no where. He jokingly asked me where that was. He rode beside me around town for the next two hours. After stopping at McDonald’s for lunch, our friendship was cemented.
I scrolled down through the numbers of people who had called me. Most of them I recognized as my friends. A few I didn’t. I deleted them, because I didn’t want to experience another call from someone making a nasty comment.
I almost dropped the phone when it rang. “Hey.” I recognized Adam’s voice immediately.
“Did you get my messages?” he asked.
“I was just getting ready to read them,” I informed him.
“Is it true?” he asked nervously. In the years I’d known him, I had never heard tension in his voice.
“Why don’t you come over, Adam? I could use my best friend right now.”
“Um,” he hesitated. “I can’t. My dad don’t want me hanging with you any more.”
“Are you shitting me?” I shouted. “He can’t do that.”
“I’m really sorry, Artie,” he replied sadly. “He said he’ll take away my car if he sees me with you.”
“Fuck it, Adam!” I was trying to hold back the tears. “Some friend you are.”
“I’m really...” I didn’t hear what else he had to say. I shut the phone off and threw it across the room.
I lay on the bed crying softly into the pillow. If my best friend turned against me, what chance did I have with my other friends? Was I now going to be an outcast at school, as well?
I’d never been exceptionally popular. I had a group of friends that I usually hung out with at school. Most students found me too studious. While most guys my age talked about sports, I liked to read books. I didn’t know a Bronco from a Steeler, but I could rattle off every Union and Confederate general of the Civil War.
I was also a reporter for the school newspaper, which didn’t help my image. I was the guy who usually showed up at events with a digital camera, snapping pictures of people who many times felt I was intruding on their privacy.
Actually, I didn’t think I fit the geek mold. I didn’t wear glasses held together by tape; and I would never think of wearing a pocket protector. When I looked in a mirror, I was happy with the boy looking back.
I was rather tall for my age. I stood about 6’0” and weighed 160 pounds. I was rather thin, but I wouldn’t consider myself skinny. I had light brown hair which I liked to keep cut short on the sides and spiked about an inch longer on the top. My eyes were bright blue; and if the sun hit them just right, I was told they looked green.
Because of my height, I was always asked why I didn’t play basketball. We had a basketball hoop attached to the garage. On a good day, I’d sometimes score four or five points against Randy when we would play around. At barely four feet tall and 60 pounds soaking wet, he could usually dribble past me. The basketball coach watched me playing in gym last year. He observed me for a few minutes, shook his head and walked away.
One thing I always took pride in was the fact I looked just like my father. His mother showed me a picture of him when he was a boy. She took a picture of me that was taken a few months earlier and placed them side by side. It looked like the same person. I always considered my father a handsome man, and I was glad that someday I might grow up to look like him. Of course, now he was two inches taller and about thirty pounds heavier. He exercised daily and was in great shape; perhaps better than I was.
Something else had been bothering me for a couple of years. Now with my father’s arrest, it came surging at me. I was afraid that I may be more like him than in just my appearance. I was struggling with the fact that I may be gay.
I had dated a few times over the years; it was expected when you reach the age of about fourteen. Girls started to dress differently, and then would hang around guys, trying to fit in. It was more fun, when we were little, to ward off a girl with a big, green frog. Now we had to tolerate their presence, as they giggled and blushed at every word we said.
While other guys seemed to enjoy the attention, I found it uncomfortable. When a girl would stand close to me and rub her breast against arm; instead of getting an erection, I’d feel repulsed.
The few times I did go out on a date, I found them boring. At least with a guy, another guy could be himself. But with a girl, I had to watch what I said and did. One wrong word and she’d go back the next day telling her girlfriends we were going steady.
That happened in the ninth grade. Diana Comer asked me if I liked her. Without weighing the consequences, I said, “Yeah, sure.” The next day she had everyone thinking we were going steady. It took weeks to dispel that rumor. Now I only went out with a girl to the movies or the mall on a Saturday afternoon; and then only if we were with a group of our friends.
Until yesterday, I’d pushed most of my sexual thoughts to the back of my mind. Even though girls didn’t turn me on, I really hadn’t been actively pursuing the possibility I liked guys. I lay awake most of the night wondering if I was gay. Was this a gene that I had inherited from my father- that is, assuming he was gay.
I thought of the possibility that perhaps my mother wasn’t satisfying him sexually. As much as I found that repulsive, it was something I considered. Maybe he had to search for sex somewhere else. But what was he doing in a park restroom asking another guy if he could suck him off? Why didn’t he go out and hire a prostitute? One thing was for sure; it would be a while before that question would be answered- if ever.
Now that everyone thought my father was gay, I’d be put under the microscope. Since we looked so much alike, I knew people would be looking at me and wondering if I too was gay. And since I didn’t date often, and I didn’t have a steady girlfriend, people would wonder. I had to be more careful than ever.
There was a soft knocking on my door, and then my grandmother walked in. She sat on the side of the bed and gently rubbed my cheek.
“Want to talk about it?” She appeared exhausted. I guess everything was taking a toll on all of us.
“Why did he do it, Grandma?” I asked, holding back the tears that were welling up in my eyes.
“I don’t know, Rudy,” she responded softly. “I guess he had a dark secret none of us knew about.”
“Do you hate him?” She seemed stunned by my question. “Mom hates him now.”
“Your mother is really confused right now,” she replied. “She feels betrayed by a man she’s loved for over twenty years. I don’t think she knows how to feel right now. Just be patient and give her time.”
“I’m not sure I can deal with this,” I confessed. She reached out and embraced me.
“This isn’t going to be easy for any of us right now.” Without looking in her face, I could tell she too was crying. “We just have to stay strong and be there for each other. Randy really needs you right now, and so does your mother.”
“I don’t think I’m that strong,” I cried. “I think I hate him for what he’s done to us.” I started crying with that realization. I couldn’t remember ever hating my father. While other guys complained about their fathers, I always felt lucky that I had a great dad.
It seemed like my grandmother was reading my thoughts. “Just remember the good things he did. He was a wonderful father to you and Randy. Don’t do things, or say things, that you may someday regret.”
She lay me back down, ran her hand through my hair, and then leaned in and kissed me on the forehead. After she left, I fell asleep for a while. When I awoke, Randy was curled up beside me. I pulled him into me and wrapped my arm around him. He took a deep breath, and then relaxed in my arms.
I had no idea what was going to happen. My mind was numb from thinking of the direction our lives could go. We had to deal with the pending divorce of our parents. I knew that my mother would be difficult to live with. I just hoped she’d hold things together for Randy and me; but after witnessing her behavior this morning I wasn’t sure I could depend on that.
Something else I realized was that I had to go school and face my friends and classmates. By now they had probably already seen my father’s face on the news and in the newspaper. Since he was a prominent attorney in our area, the news media was going to make a circus out of this. The reporter at the door showed that they would do anything to get a scoop on this hot topic.
I pulled Randy in tighter and realized that he wasn’t going to escape this unscathed. Although his friends were younger, I’m sure they would be aware of something going on. Surely, their parents would be talking about what happened. They would have to pick up on some of it. I also worried that his friends’ parents, like Adam’s, would not let them associate with him anymore. How could I explain that to him? It was easy for me to tell Adam to ‘fuck it,” but what does a seven year old boy say?
I looked down at him while he snored gently. While I looked like my father, he had received my mother’s features. He had curly black hair that flowed down the side of his face. Like mother’s, he had dark brown eyes. While my nose was rather long and sloping, he had a cute little upturned nose. Sometimes I was jealous of that, because I thought it would really make him attractive as he got older.
Since he took after my mother, I was hoping that perhaps he hadn’t inherited the gay gene, if such a thing actually existed. Since I was fairly certain I’d probably never produce children, he could assure that our family line continued.
As I looked down at his gentle face, I remembered back to a camping trip we had taken with my father last summer. It was the first time that Randy had accompanied us. My father was a big outdoorsman, and we would go camping up into the mountains at least once a month during the summer.
On that particular trip, we had spent the day fishing at a mountain lake. A storm came up suddenly, and we had barely made it back to the tent before it started thundering and lightning. While the rain pounded our tent, I held Randy tightly while he screamed and cried every time a clap of thunder hit nearby.
After the storm, we climbed out of the tent to the most beautiful rainbow I had ever seen. It arced from one side of the mountain to the other. It was the most spectacular thing I had ever witnessed.
My father pulled us into him and held us tightly. “Look boys,” he said reassuringly. “There’s a rainbow. There’s always a rainbow at the end of a storm. Just remember that when you’re faced with a problem you think you can’t overcome.”
Lying in bed with my arm around Randy, I can’t help but think there will be no more rainbows.