“What, Dear?” Cameron was snuggled up beside his mother watching television. He was exhausted after his fishing trip with Kevin. It was dark when they dropped him off. He had taken a shower, put on his pajamas, and went into the living room to watch some television with his mother before going to bed.
“How do you know when you’re in love?”
Mrs. Lynch looked down at the innocent face of her son. She put her arm around him and tried to hide the tears that were quickly forming in her eyes. She had hoped that someday her son would ask her that question. It was her greatest desire as a mother that her only son would someday find happiness. She just wasn’t expecting it to come so soon.
“That’s a tough question to answer, Cameron.” Her voice was filled with emotion. “I guess you just know deep down inside you when you fall in love.”
“Does it hurt?”
She gave him a puzzled look. “What do you mean, Dear?”
His face started to redden. “I mean I’m sitting here with you and it’s really nice.” He sat up. “But I wish it was Kevin. It hurts me because I want him here and he’s not here.” She smiled and pulled him back into her lap. She reached down and gently stroked his blond hair.
“Isn’t this a little sudden?” she asked. “You’ve only known him about a week. And besides, you’re only sixteen.”
He sat back up and looked over at her. “You said you were sixteen when you met Dad. Didn’t you fall in love with him right away?”
She let out a deep sigh. “And look how that turned out.”
It was true. She had met Cameron’s father in high school. They began to date, and she fell head over heels for him. They became intimate, and then she became pregnant with Cameron. She was only a junior in high school. She had to drop out of school to take care of him. His father completed school and went on to attend college. He had never met him. Like many teenage mothers, his mother had raised him without anyone’s support. She had asked his father to help financially, but when he refused she didn’t pursue it. She had made the decision she would take care of him on her own. She had never once regretted the decision. The young man sitting next to her had become her life and reason for living.
She kissed him gently on the forehead, and then he laid his head on her shoulder.
“I think I love him,” he said softly. He waited for a response, but she remained silent. He looked up and saw tears forming in her eyes. “Are you upset with me?”
She started to tremble, and then she reached out and held him tightly. They remained clutched in an embrace for several minutes. Finally, she pulled away and smiled gently at Cameron.
“Of course I’m not upset,” she said tearfully. “My only wish is that you are happy. I’ve never wanted anything more. I knew this day would come. I just wasn’t expecting it to happen so soon. I still think you are too young to become involved in a relationship, but I’m going to let you make your own decisions.”
“Thanks, Mom,” he laid his head back on her shoulder. “I’ll be careful. I really think Kevin likes me too.”
She gently rubbed his hair. “Loving and liking are two different things, Cameron. I don’t want to see you get hurt.”
“I know,” he smiled. “But it’s just whenever I’m around Kevin, I get…” She laughed when his face reddened.
“Get what, Dear?” She laughed louder when he covered his face with his hands.
“Mom!” He shrieked. “I didn’t mean to say that.” He started to get up, but she pulled him back down.
“It’s all right,” she assured him. “It happens to all boys.”
“But you’re my mother,” he moaned. “I can’t talk to you about things like this.”
“If you can’t talk to your mother, then who can you talk to?” He studied her face for a moment before deciding if he wanted to discuss what had been on his mind since he met Kevin. Finally, he let out a sigh. He turned and faced his mother.
“Did it hurt the first time you and Dad did it?”
“Oh, My God!” She covered her face with her hands.
“See,” said Cameron disappointedly. “I knew I couldn’t talk to you about this kind of stuff.”
“Okay.” She sat up straight and faced him. “We can do this.” She brushed his hair back off his forehead. “What do you want to talk about?”
She had read numerous books on gay sex, preparing for the day that Cameron would become interested in someone. She wanted to be informed in case he did raise the kind of questions he was now asking. In the back of her mind, though, she had hoped that she could avoid them. However, looking at the trust in Cameron’s eyes, she was glad he was willing to talk to her about such sensitive issues.
“I really like Kevin,” he said. “I know he likes me, and I just sort of... Um...,” he started to blush. “Never mind, Mom.” He sat back and blankly looked at the television screen. Mrs. Lynch watched as he became sullen.
She reached over and took his hand. “You want to have sex with Kevin?” Cameron’s face turned a bright red. Timidly, he nodded his head. “So you haven’t yet?” His face burned a bright red.
“No. Well, not exactly.”
She frowned. “What does not exactly mean.”
“Mom,” he whined. “I can’t tell you everything.” She studied him for a minute. She was wondering just how far his relationship with Kevin had gone. They had just met, so it couldn’t have been too much. They had never been alone except for a couple of times in Cameron’s bedroom. Finally, he added, “We’ve kissed a couple of times.”
His face reddened. “I touched him a couple of times.”
It was her turn to blush. She thought she had been prepared for the conversation, but she was finding it harder to handle than she thought. She was beginning to think that perhaps this could be handled better by her brother.
“Why don’t you discuss this with Uncle Jerry?” she suggested. He frowned and fell back onto the sofa.
“Okay.” He became sullen as he watched the television. Mrs. Lynch realized that she had lost his trust. He had opened up to her and was willing to talk. Now, she had slammed the door shut on him.
She rose and left the room. He felt embarrassed that he had tried to discuss sex with his own mother. However, she was the only person he could truly trust with his feelings. He had taken a chance, and now he felt hurt and humiliated.
She walked back into the room and sat down. She placed a plastic bag in his lap. “What’s this?” He opened the bag and shrieked, “Mom!” He pulled out a box of condoms and held them up. “What are these for?”
“I bought these about a year ago.”
“For me!” he shouted. His eyes widened as he looked at the box. “I don’t need these!” He took them and placed them on her lap. She took them and handed them back to him.
“You may not need these now,” she insisted, “but you will someday.”
He pushed them back to her. “Well, I don’t want them now!”
She gave him a puzzled look. “I thought that’s what you were talking about when you said you wanted to do something with Kevin.”
“I do want to do something,” his face burned a bright red, “But not that!”
She sat back and gave him a strange look. Finally, he smiled and started laughing. He leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “I love you, Mom.”
She asked, “Now would you tell me what we’re talking about? I’m completely confused.”
He started laughing. “I like Kevin,” he paused before adding, “A lot. I just want to know if it would be wrong if we kind of like did things together.” He handed her back the box of condoms. “But not things like this.”
“I see.” She folded her hands and thought for a minutes. She then turned to him. “You’re a smart boy, Cameron. I’ve always let you make your own decisions. Not once have you ever disappointed me.” She reached over and took his hand.
“Do what you feel is right. Don’t do anything you don’t feel comfortable doing. And never let Kevin or any other boy force you to do something you don’t want to do. You are the one who has to live with the consequences of your actions.
“Personally, I feel that you are too young to become involved with someone. However, I know that I can’t stop you if you two do decide to do something. All I ask is that you use some discretion.”
Cameron put his arms around his mother and hugged her tightly. “I love you, Mom.”
“I love you too, Son,” she replied. He sat back and gave her an evil grin.
“Can Kevin spend the night?” She picked up a pillow and hit him over the head with it. He fell back and started laughing.
She gave him a serious look. “I’ve never had a problem with you being gay. I’ve always known you’d someday bring a boy home to meet me. I’m okay with that. However, I don’t want you to flaunt it in front of me. You’re permitted to hold hands around the house. Even an occasional kiss is acceptable,” she smiled. “But no tongue.”
“Ewww,” said Cameron as he wriggled up his nose.
“Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it,” she laughed. “As for anything else, like I said, I can’t stop you. I just don’t want to know about it. If you want to talk to me about something, then I’m here for you. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to me about it, then go to Uncle Jerry. In fact, I want you and Kevin to sit down and talk to him and Dave sometime soon. I’m sure there are other things you need to discuss that I don’t have the answers for. All right?”
“Sure, Mom.” He nodded and gave her another kiss on the cheek. “I’m going to bed now.”
“Okay, Sweetie,” she said as she kissed his forehead. He started to walk away.
“Cameron?” When he turned, she tossed him the box of condoms. “You forgot something.”
“Mom,” he blushed. He then tucked the box in his pocket and headed for his bedroom.
Kevin was standing outside the school entrance waiting for Cameron to arrive. He looked at his watch. He was ten minutes late. He let out a sigh when he saw him approaching with Stanley beside him.
Cameron smiled when he saw Kevin standing on the steps. “Hey.” Kevin wanted to walk over and hug him, but he resisted the urge.
He then looked over at Stanley. “Where’s Charles?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “I called his house, but his mother said something about him still being in bed. She said he was complaining of an upset stomach.”
“I hope he gets better,” said Cameron.
“There’s nothing wrong with him,” Stanley replied with a worried face. “I think he chickened out. He doesn’t want to face the heat.”
Kevin asked, “What’s happened?”
“You haven’t heard?” Both boys shook their heads.
“Fletcher and TC came by my house Saturday afternoon,” he said. “They said Paul is planning to cause some trouble for us.”
“Like what?” Kevin moved closer to Cameron as if to protect him.
“They didn’t say,” he added. “They just said he and Gordon are going to ‘take us out.’”
A couple of boys approached and walked up the steps. They brushed against Cameron as they entered the building. One turned and muttered angrily, “Watch where you’re going fag. Touch me again and I’ll knock the shit out of you.” Stanley stepped in front of the boy.
“Keep on moving, Anderson,” Stanley warned.
The boy turned and faced Stanley. “Now ain’t that sweet. The fags are standing up for one another.” Stanley balled up his fist. He was ready to hit the boy when Mr. Langdon, the school principal, appeared at the top of the steps.
“Is anything wrong here?” He crossed his arms and stared sternly at the Anderson boy.
“No, Sir,” replied Anderson as he cast an angry look at Stanley. “Nothing’s wrong.”
“Then I suggest you get to class, Mr. Anderson,” he ordered. Anderson turned and headed into the building.
He looked down at the others. “Come with me, Boys.” They followed him down the corridor until he approached a room, took out his keys and opened a door. “Go in and have a seat.”
They sat down as Mr. Langdon stood before them. “I’m well aware of what is going on,” he said. “Coach Alston called me over the weekend.” Stanley gave Kevin and Cameron a puzzled look. It was the first time he was aware that the Coach knew what was going on.
“Mr. Barber.” He looked down at Stanley as he sat up erect in his chair. “I can’t be around to protect you boys every minute of the day. I have other responsibilities. One thing you can’t do is take on everyone who says something to you.”
“But he called us fags!” Stanley said angrily.
Mr. Langdon stepped back and crossed his arms once again. “You’re going to hear a lot of students say much worse than that. We have a zero tolerance here at Western High, but I can’t suspend every student who calls you a name. I have to pick my battles. If you are directly threatened or physically challenged, then I will take immediate action to protect you. But in the meantime, you have to show some restraint. You can’t go around fighting everyone who calls you a name.” He stared at the boys. “Do I make myself clear?”
“So you just want us to use the sticks and stones approach?” Stanley asked sarcastically.
“I think that is an excellent approach,” he smiled. “I couldn’t have said it any better.”
“But...” Stanley began to complain.
“No, buts, Mr. Barber.” He looked down at Kevin and Cameron. “That goes for you too, Mr. Williams and Mr. Lynch. Use some restraint. Ignore the small things. They aren’t worth getting suspended over. However, if someone does attempt to fight you, then you find the nearest teacher and inform them what is going on. Can you at least do that for me?”
The boys looked at each other and then nodded. “Good,” sighed Principal Langdon. “You’ve just made my day a little bit easier. I’ll do all I can to keep you safe, but you have to cooperate with me. There’s only one of me and twelve hundred of you.”
Just then, the bell rang. Mr. Langdon looked at his watch. “All right, Boys. First period starts in ten minutes. Go to class and try to have a good day.”
“That’s easy for you to say,” snapped Stanley. He got up and walked out the door. As he was walking to class, a hand gripped his shoulder. He turned, and was prepared to fight. Instead, it was Charles.
“I thought you were staying home sick?”
“I was,” frowned Charles. “But I couldn’t just leave you here alone to face everyone.” He looked at Stanley and smiled. “We’re in this together, all right?” For the first time that morning, Stanley felt he could make it through the day.
“Come on.” He grabbed Charles arm. “Let’s get to class before I decide to kiss you right out here in front of everyone.” Charles laughed as they headed off to class.
The room was abuzz when Kevin entered Mr. Shepard’s geometry class. As he walked to his desk, there was a subdued hush. He could tell that everyone in the room was staring at him.
He looked for Cameron, but he hadn’t arrived yet. After he sat down, the room started back to a loud clamor. Several times he heard his name being mentioned. The room became quiet again, and he looked up and saw Cameron walk in. He had his head down as he hurried to take his seat. He looked up briefly to give Kevin a quick smile.
“You all right?” Kevin whispered as Cameron sat down.
“Yeah,” he said softly without turning around. Kevin bristled when someone behind them called out, “Fags.” The room burst into laughter. Mr. Shepard rose from his desk and looked angrily around the room. The bell rang, and he quickly began the daily lesson.
He worked several homework problems on the board, and then he announced there would be a quiz over the material. The students groaned as he handed out the test. Kevin was still working problems when the bell rang.
“I don’t think I did very well on it,” he said to Cameron as he placed his paper on Mr. Shepard’s desk.
“For the first time in my life,” confessed Cameron, “I think I may have failed a test.”
As they left the room, they were bumped from behind by another student. He turned and shouted, “Watch out cocksuckers!”
Kevin looked over at Cameron. “Has your day been like this?”
“Yeah,” replied Cameron sadly. “Someone knocked me into a locker on the way here. I don’t know why people have to be so cruel.”
“I guess it makes them feel big when they can pick on someone when they’re down,” Kevin replied. He stopped and turned towards Cameron. “Are you going to be able to handle this?”
“I think so,” Cameron replied. “I talked to Uncle Jerry this morning, and he helped me a lot. He told me stay strong.”
Just then someone pushed Kevin into Cameron. “Sometimes that’s a little hard to do.”
Kevin escorted Cameron to his class and then ran to make it to his own before the bell rang.
“What the fuck is that?” Paul asked angrily as he looked across the cafeteria. As usual, he was sitting with Devin and Ashley. Today, Sherri had decided to join them. “It must be the fag table.”
Devin looked over to where his twin brother was sitting. Cameron was beside him, but today they weren’t eating alone. Stanley, Charles, Fletcher and TC were sitting with them.
Fletcher and TC had talked about it over the weekend. After warning Stanley to be careful around Paul and Gordon, they had decided that they would not succumb to peer pressure, and that they would remain friends with Stanley and Kevin. If other students wanted to think they were gay, then they didn’t care. To them, friendship was more important than idle gossip.
Sherri asked, “I thought Fletch and TC were straight?”
“Naw,” replied Paul angrily. “You see them sitting with those fags. That makes them fags, too.”
“Really, Devin,” stated Ashley harshly. “I don’t know how you can sleep in the same bedroom with Kevin. He might try to do something some night.”
“Shut up, Ashley!” Devin shouted. “For your information, Kevin moved out of our bedroom. I hardly see him anymore.”
“Good,” shuddered Ashley. “Just the thought of you two sleeping in the same bed makes me sick.”
“We never slept in the same bed! We had twin beds!”
“Well, good,” she replied. “I just wouldn’t want him trying to do anything to you.”
“I still can’t believe TC is gay,” commented Sherri as she looked across the room. “I dated him a few times, and he sure didn’t act gay.”
“What did you do?” Paul enquired.
“Fuck off, Paul,” she hissed. “I don’t think that’s any of your business. Let’s just say he wasn’t gay when he was with me.”
“Girl, you didn’t!” Ashley put up her hand and high-fived Sherri. “Why didn’t you tell me you slept with TC?”
“Like you told me you were sleeping with Devin.” Her eyes widened and she put her hand over her mouth. Devin looked over and gave Ashley an angry look.
“Oh, forget it, Devin,” laughed Sherri. “The whole school knows you two are doing it.”
“At least they know you’re not a fag like your brother,” added Paul.
Devin stared across the cafeteria at his brother. He was laughing at something Stanley had said. “Yeah,” he said softly. “I’m not a fag like my brother.”
“That was a good practice, Guys” Coach Alston hollered across the gym. “Now go hit the showers. Williams, Barber and Collins, I want to see you in my office.” He turned and disappeared through the green double doors.
Kevin, Stanley and Charles grabbed their gym bags and followed the coach into his office. He pointed for them to take a chair while he went over and closed the door. He then sat on the end of his desk and looked down at the boys.
“How’s your day been,” he inquired. “Has anyone given you any problems?”
“Not much,” said Charles. “A few people have called us names, but it’s nothing we can’t handle.”
He looked over at Kevin. “What about you?”
“A couple of people have shoved me and Cameron into the lockers, but it wasn’t too bad.”
“Did Cameron handle it all right?” Kevin nodded. Stanley and Charles looked on with interest because they couldn’t understand why the coach was showing such an interest in Cameron.
He then turned to Stanley. “How about you?”
“I almost kicked some guy’s ass this morning,” he laughed, “but Mr. Langdon stopped me. He told us to not react when someone called us names.”
“That’s wise advice,” said the coach. “You’ll be kicking everyone’s ass in that case.” The boys started laughing. “And it’s a pretty big school.”
He jumped off his desk and sat down. “I was watching the practice pretty closely. Did anyone on the team say anything?” All three boys shook their heads.
“Good,” he said. “I didn’t think we’d have any problem.” He looked over at Kevin. “Now that your brother and Glenn are off the team.”
Kevin asked, “Is he kicked off the team for good?” It had bothered him that Devin couldn’t play because of him. He didn’t want it to interfere with his father’s plans for them going to college on an athletic scholarship. To his knowledge, his father still wasn’t aware that Devin wasn’t playing. If he was, he hadn’t said anything about it.
“I didn’t kick him off,” Coach Alston responded. “I merely told him to get off the court when he hit you with the ball. It was his decision to quit.”
“So he can come back if he wants to?” Kevin asked hopefully.
“Why would you want him back?” Stanley asked. “He’s treats you like shit?”
Kevin looked at him sorrowfully. “He’s still my brother, Stanley. I can’t turn my back on him that easily.”
“He’s welcomed back anytime he feels he can play as a team,” replied the coach. “And that means he has to be able to play with all the team.” Kevin nodded his head. “Now go shower, and I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”
As they left the Coach Alston’s office and headed for the locker room, Stanley looked over at Kevin. “Why did the Coach seem so interested in Cameron? I didn’t even think he was taking gym this year.”
“He’s not,” Kevin replied. “Cameron’s his nephew.”
“No shit?” Charles said. “Why didn’t you say something sooner?”
“I just found out yesterday,” explained Kevin.
They stopped when they entered the locker room. Stanley was the first to approach their lockers. Charles and Kevin walked up and looked at the sight before them.
Their lockers had been smeared with pink paint, and someone had written threatening words in red.
FAGS MUST DIE