Birds Don't Sing Before a Storm

Chapter 7

“Can we fix dinner again like we did before?” Lane was bouncing around the kitchen on his tiptoes with an excited look on his face.

I opened the refrigerator door, took out a carton of milk and poured us both a glass. I then went to the cupboard and removed a box of Animal Crackers and placed them on the counter. After sitting down, I reminded Lane, “That didn’t go over very well last time. Except for your mother, no one even touched it.”

“I know,” he replied, “but it was still fun.”

I let out a sigh. I knew making dinner would once again turn out to be a disaster. I didn’t know my father’s schedule. He would probably work late, come home and go straight to his room like he normally does.

Fixing anything for Rodney and Curtis was futile. I think they would rather eat the remains in the cat’s litter box than eat anything I prepared. After the exchange in the gym, I was rather sure of it. However, Lane seemed excited about doing it; and it was becoming increasing more difficult to say no to him.

“Okay,” I said. He let out a scream and clapped his hands together. I walked over to the refrigerator to see what was available. I discovered a five-pound rump roast in the meat compartment. I assumed that Karen was planning to prepare it for dinner soon.

“Voile!” I held it up and showed Lane what I had found.

He asked excitedly, “What is it?” I explained it was a nice piece of pork, and that we’d have to find a cookbook for a recipe since I had never cooked one before.

He jumped from his seat, ran over to a drawer and pulled out one of his mother’s cookbooks. He handed me the book and asked, “Does this have a recipe?” We sat together for the next few minutes thumbing through the cookbook. I explained what various terms meant, and I helped him pronounce many of the ingredients we would need. Soon, we found a recipe we thought was easy enough to make.

Lane was like a little machine as he gathered the spices from the cupboard. I showed him how to preheat the oven, and he kept guard until it finally made a little ringing sound to indicate it was hot enough.

While he did that, I busily prepared a rub for the meat. Lane helped me, but he got more on himself than the meat. “This is fun,” he exclaimed excitedly as he applied the rub onto the roast. I had him put it on a roasting pan, and then we put it in the oven. We set the timer, and I looked at the clock.

“It should be ready by seven,” I informed a cheerful Lane.

He asked, “What are we going to make to go with it?”

I looked into the pantry and pulled out a big bag of potatoes. I looked into the refrigerator to see if there was any shredded cheese. I took out a bag of mild cheddar and waved it in the air. “How about some scalloped potatoes?”

“Sure!” he said excitedly. “I don’t know what scalloped potatoes are, but it sounds good.”

“It is,” I assured him as I thumbed through the cookbook to find a recipe. There was a picture, and I explained to him what we were going to do. He watched carefully as I peeled the potatoes. He wanted to help, but I was afraid he might cut himself. He was happy to mix the ingredients together and pour them over the potatoes. He then helped me sprinkle the cheese over the top. He was beaming with pride when we finished.

“Um,” he said as he looked at our creation. “That looks good.”

“Wait until you eat them,” I said. They’ll make your stomach feel good.” He giggled when I grabbed him and started tickling his belly.

With the roast in the oven, and the potatoes prepared, I suggested that we go down to the family room to watch television. He curled up beside me when I sat down on the leather sofa. I found a channel that showed old cartoons. Lane laughed loudly as he watched the coyote try to catch the roadrunner.

“This is fun,” he almost purred into my shoulder as he rested his head against me. “Rodney and Curtis would never watch television with me like this.”

I replied, “They don’t know what they are missing.” He pressed his body closer to mine.

I thought he had fallen asleep until he whispered softly, “Are we being queers?”

I moved slightly away. He sat up, gave me a puzzled look and asked, “Did I say something wrong?” His reaction seemed innocent, but I wondered why he had asked me such a strange question.

“No,” I said as I put my arm around his shoulder and pulled him back toward me. When he was rested again, I asked, “Why would you think we were being queers?”

He replied, “The boys at school say when you like another boy, you’re being a queer.”

I pulled him tighter to me and assured him, “Bestest buddies can like each other and it don’t make us queers. Okay?” He nodded his head and rested his head on my shoulder once again.

He sat quietly for a few minutes, but he kept fidgetting. I knew something was bothering him. “What’s the matter?” I asked after he wouldn’t sit still.

He started crying, and he buried his head into my chest. “If I tell you, you’ll hate me.”

I rubbed the top of his head and told him, “I won’t hate you. We’re bestest buddies, remember?”

“But if I tell you,” he sobbed, “you’ll hate me.”

I had him sit up. I held his shoulders and made him look me directly into my face. “I won’t hate you, Lane,” I assured him. “Now tell me what is bothering you.”

“I’m a queer,” he cried as his head fell against my chest. I held him while he cried uncontrollably. I let him cry for several minutes before I attempted to find out why he thought he was gay.

When he seemed to relax, I had him sit back up and face me. “Tell me why you think you’re gay?”

He sniffled several times as he tried to hold back his tears. Finally, he let out a loud sob and declared sadly, “Because I sucked Donnie’s willy.” His head fell into my lap as he continued to cry.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I’m sure that he had probably experimented with this boy Donnie. I was convinced that Lane was too immature to understand his sexual feelings. However, to make sure I didn’t say the wrong thing, I continued to console him and wait for him to explain what had happened.

After a few minutes, he got up and went into the bathroom. I could hear him blowing his nose. I also heard the water running, so I assumed he was washing his tear-stained face. When he returned, he didn’t seem as upset.

He flopped down on the sofa and looked over at me sadly. “Are you mad at me?”

“Why would I be mad at you?”

He sniffed several times and then said, “Because I told you I sucked Donnie’s willy.”

I put my arm around his shoulder, and he scooted against me. “You want to tell me about it?”

“Donnie’s my best friend at school,” he said. Then he added quickly, “But he’s not my bestest buddy like you.” I smiled and nodded my head. “When we go to the bathroom, the teacher makes us go with someone else, so me and Donnie go together.”

I nodded my head again and said, “Go on.”

“Me and Donnie pee side by side,” he continued. “One day his willy got real hard, and he dared me to suck it. Mine got hard, so I told him he had to suck mine first. So he did. Then I sucked his.”

“That doesn’t make you a queer,” I assured him. “You just made a bet.”

His face reddened as he admitted, “But I like it when we do it.” Tears appeared in his eyes once again as he asked, “Does that make us queers?”

I didn’t want to tell him that he possibly could be gay. I know when I had sex with Terry, I enjoyed it when I sucked him. I was sure I was gay, but I didn’t know if Lane would understand his sexual feelings just yet. I didn’t want to tell him he was gay, when he possibly wasn’t. He could just be experimenting, although he and Donnie seemed to be doing it quite a bit for it to be just childish play.

“I want you to promise me one thing,” I said. He looked up at me and nodded his head. “I don’t want you doing it at school anymore. If someone walks in on you, you’ll get in a lot of trouble.”

He grinned a devilish grin. “There’s a lock on the door. We make sure it’s locked before we pull down our pants.”

I laughed, “That’s a little bit too much information.” Suddenly, I thought of something else that should be asked, but I felt uncomfortable bringing up the subject.

“Ummm,” I stammered. “Do you and Donnie, like... do anything else?”

His face reddened as he asked, “You mean like be butt buddies?”

I rolled my eyes and smiled. “Yes,” I said, “I guess that’s what I mean.”

He wriggled his nose. “No,” he replied. “That’s gross.” I let out a sigh of relief. However, I was still worried that their experimentation may someday go in that direction.

“Tomorrow,” I said, “I want you to introduce me to Donnie.”

“Okay,” he replied cheerfully.

I frowned and said, “But you gotta promise me you won’t tell him that you told me what you do. Okay?”

“Okay,” he said. “I promise.”

We watched television for another hour. I should say, I watched television and Lane rested his head in my lap, fell asleep and snored lightly. I didn’t want to disturb him, but I could smell the roast in the oven.

After waking him, we went into the kitchen to inspect dinner. The roast looked delicious. Lane watched as I inserted the thermometer. He giggled and asked, “Are you taking its temperature up the butt?” I pulled the thermometer out, looked at the temperature and announced that the roast was finished.

Lane squealed when I grabbed him and told him he was next to have his temperature taken. He grabbed his waistband on his shorts and ran from the room laughing.

We set the table as we had done the other night, but I knew we would probably be eating alone. Since it was a Friday night, Rodney and Curtis would be playing basketball. I was sure that Dad and Karen would also attend. Lane told me earlier that they go to almost all the games.

Lane beamed with pride when I walked into the dining room, looked at the table and said, “You did a good job.” He giggled when I ruffled his hair on the way back to the kitchen.

He walked up behind me, grabbed me around the waist and gave me a big hug. “What’s this for?” I asked as I let him squeeze me tightly.

“For being the best big brother a little brother could ever have,” he said as he squeezed me tighter. Tears welled up in my eyes. I guess I hadn’t been wanting to admit that he was the little brother I’d never had.

Just then, we heard someone enter the front door. Seconds later, Karen hollered out, “Is anyone home?”

“Yeah, Mom,” yelled Lane. “Me and Casey are in the kitchen.”

Karen walked in sniffing the air. “My goodness,” she said. “What smells so good?”

Lane informed her proudly, “Me and Casey cooked a roast.”

She ruffled Lane’s hair as she stated, “Casey and I cooked a roast.”

Lane giggled and said, “You didn’t help him. I did.” Karen looked at me and shook her head.

She turned and headed from the kitchen. “I’m going to change into something more comfortable,” she announced. She looked at the clock on the wall. “Your father should be home shortly. Tonight we’re going to sit down and eat like a family.” Lane looked at me and smiled.

My father came home around six-thirty. Karen meet him at the door, and told him to change from his suit into more suitable for dining. He asked if they were going out to dinner, but she took his arm and led him from the foyer before he had a chance to look into the dining room.

Lane and I were sitting together at the table when they entered. My father looked at the meal on his plate and said, “This looks and smells better than what we would get at Adolpho’s.” I wasn’t familiar with Adolpho’s, but I was sure it was probably a nice restaurant. He sat down and immediately started eating.

Karen took a bite of the roast, looked over at Lane and said, “This is delicious.” He looked over at me and grinned. Even though I had prepared the meal, I was glad she was including Lane in the compliments.

Not much was said as we ate. Karen asked me about school, and I told her it was hard to say anything after just attending one day. I debated whether I should mention the incident with Curtis, but I decided that was something I would have to deal with on my own. I was already unwelcome in his home, and making him think I was some whiny crybaby would only make matters worse.

When he finished eating, my father looked at his watch and announced that he would have to leave soon to go watch ‘his boys’ play basketball. “Before I go,” he stated as he looked at me, “I’d like to have a word with you.” He looked over at Karen and asked if she and Lane could clean up while he and I went out onto the patio.

I followed him outside, and he pointed to a lawn chair. “Have a seat, Casey,” he said as he pulled up a seat in front of me. “We need to talk. I’ve left you alone and let you get settled in, but it’s time now to set up a few rules.”

I immediately became defensive. Since arriving in his house, I had stayed to myself in the make-shift bedroom he had prepared for me. I had enrolled in school as he requested, and I had even prepared a couple of meals. I was making every attempt to make the best of the situation, at least for the time being. If it weren’t for Lane, I probably would have already considered leaving.

I crossed my arms and asked angrily, “What rules?”

“Your mother told me...”

I jumped from my chair. “You’re not even going to give me a chance, are you?”

“Sit down, Casey!”

“She’s already poisoned your mind,” I yelled. “You left when I was eleven, and you didn’t even say goodbye.”

“That’s enough, Casey!” he shouted. “I had my reasons.”

I was trying hard to hold back tears. “What reason could you have possibly had to leave a boy without his father?”

“I told you, I had my reasons,” he stood and faced me. I couldn’t tell if his face was filled with anger or hurt. “You don’t understand.”

“No,” I said, “and you’ll never understand me. I didn’t want to come live with you, but Mom kicked me out of the house. I was going to run away, but she called the cops.”

“Sit down, Casey,” he pleaded, “so we can talk man to man.”

I laughed, “Man to man? You’re going to give me rules and treat me like some little boy?”

“Your mother told me...”

“Told you what?” I shouted. “That I’m some deviant who is always causing problems?” I stood directly before him. “Is that what she told you?”

“Casey, please...”

“You know what?” I shouted, “Fuck you. I don’t need you. You gave up your right to tell me what to do years ago.” I regretted what I was saying, but too much emotion had built up inside me over the years. I was finally letting it escape. By the look on my father’s face, I knew I had hit my mark.

I turned and headed for a gate. He kept shouting out my name as I went around the house and stormed off down the sidewalk.

I walked several blocks to a small carryout that I had noticed as I walked home with Lane earlier. I went inside and purchased a pack of cigarettes. I hadn’t smoked since arriving, but I needed a cigarette. The store owner looked skeptically at me as he took my money. I think he knew I was underage, but I looked old enough for him to convince an undercover cop that I did look eighteen.

Once outside, I opened the pack, lit a cigarette and took a deep puff.

                                                                                                                                                         * * * * * *

It was after one when I entered the house through the back door. My father was waiting up for me, but he didn’t say anything when I walked past him on my way to my room. He was sitting in the dark in a recliner. When I went into the bathroom a few minutes later, he was gone.

After returning from the bathroom, I lay down on the bed, but I had trouble falling asleep. I was at a complete loss as to what to do. I really had few options. I couldn’t return home, and there was no other family member I could call. I didn’t want to stay in my father’s home. However, I was only sixteen. If I ran away, my father would report me like my mother had, and I would probably be labeled unruly and be sent to a juvenile facility. It happened last year to one of the students in my class. She ran away, and her parents asked the courts to detain her until she was eighteen. To get rid of me, my mother would do it in a heartbeat. I wasn’t too sure about my father. He seemed remorseful for leaving me when I was a kid.

However, his remorse wasn’t enough to make me want to stay. I’m sure my mother had told him all about me. He surely knew all about the problems I had caused in school. And I was also sure my mother had told him about Rollie. Why else would he want to make rules for me to follow? From what I had observed, Rodney and Curtis didn’t seem to have any rules. They seemed to come and go whenever they wanted.

I was awakened in morning when someone opened the door and barged in. I lifted my head to see Curtis and Rodney walking over to the weight set. I mumbled sleepily, “What are you doing?”

“Taking back our room,” replied Curtis angrily. “This is bullshit we can’t work out because Mom turned this place into a bedroom for you.” He walked over and glared down at me. “Why are you here anyway?”

I sat up and responded, “Fuck you.” He instantly jumped on the bed and began pounding on me. I attempted to hit him, but since I was at a disadvantage, I just tried to keep him from hitting me.

Rodney approached, pulled Curtis off me and tossed him like a rag doll against the wall. He stood before him and shouted, “Stop it!”

Curtis pointed at me and yelled, “I’m sick of him disrespecting me!”

I jumped from the bed and angrily approached him. Rodney was caught in the middle as we attempted to fight. “You stupid mother fucker!” I hollered. “I haven’t done anything to you! You’ve been on me since I got here!”

Rodney pushed me back as he kept Curtis pinned against the wall. Curtis tried to pull away, but Rodney was too strong for him. He looked over Rodney‘s shoulder and shouted, “No one wants you here, Faggot!”

With one strong thrust, Rodney pushed Curtis toward the door. “I think you’ve said enough!” he said angrily as he pushed Curtis out of the room and slammed the door.

He waited a minute to see if Curtis would return. When he didn’t, he turned and said to me, “I’m really sorry, Casey. Curtis shouldn’t have said the shit he did.”

I didn’t reply as I reached under my bed to get out one of the bags in which my mother had packed my things. It was still full of clothes just in case I decided to suddenly leave.

Rodney grabbed my arm when I pulled the bag over my shoulder. “Where are you going?”

“Fuck this shit!” I replied angrily. “I don’t need it.” Rodney stepped away as I brushed past him and headed out the door.