I grew embarrassed as Mrs. Reinhart stared at us. I felt like a book she was reading. Uncle Steve rose from his chair and announced that he was going into the family room to watch television. He probably thought that we might talk without so many people in the room. In a way, I hoped that Aunt Marie would leave too. I wasn’t sure I wanted her to hear the details of what had happened.
Mrs. Reinhart cleared her throat and looked over at Aunt Marie. “Is it true,” she asked, “What Marie informed me?”
I glanced over at Blake and Craig. “What did she tell you?”
“Okay,” she sighed, “This isn’t going to be easy, but if I am to help you, I must know everything that happened.” She stared at us intently, and then she asked, “The first thing I must know is are all of you gay?” She looked over at my aunt. “Marie said that whatever happened involves your sexuality.”
I glanced over at Blake and Craig for their reaction. Blake sat erect and said, “I am.”
I looked at Aunt Marie and she nodded slightly. “I am, too,” I said as my face reddened.
“Craig?” asked Mrs. Reinhart. I looked over, and he had his head down. Blake took his hand and squeezed it. Mrs. Reinhart noticed, but she didn’t say anything.
Finally, Craig raised his head and stated, “I guess I am, too.”
“You guess?” she asked. “Don’t you know?”
Blake whispered to Craig, “Tell her. She’s here to help us.”
“I’m gay,” he muttered softly.
“Good,” she smiled. She looked over at my aunt and then said, “Marie informed me a little about what happened, but I would like for you to tell me. All she said was that you were at a party, and something happened that involved Seth, Craig and your sister.” She gave me a puzzled look. “The police were called, and people were arrested. Beyond that, I don’t know much more. I would like to know why Marie thinks that I should be involved.”
Aunt Marie looked at me and asked, “Would you like me to leave?”
I shook my head. “No,” I replied as my face reddened. “You’ll probably find out anyway.” She smiled and nodded.
“Okay,” said Mrs. Reinhart. “Start from the beginning. What happened last night?”
I looked over at Craig, and he nodded his head. She glanced down when Blake gripped both our hands and held them. Emotionally, I explained what happened. I was embarrassed and humiliated when I explained about the events leading up to the chaos. I quickly looked at Aunt Marie to see her reaction when I explained how Blake playfully began sucking me in the bathroom, and then Craig barged in and forced him to leave. Craig broke down and started crying when I told her how he had gotten on his knees and was sucking me when Stacy rushed into the room. I told her I didn’t know what had happened after that because Craig and I rushed from the house.
When I finished, Mrs. Reinhart just sat and stared at us. I grew increasingly uncomfortable as she studied us. Finally, she asked, “Where did you and Craig go after you left the house?”
“We went to an old warehouse that Blake goes to when he gets upset.” I glanced over at Blake as tears welled up in his eyes.
“I see,” she said. “And what did you do there?”
I looked at Craig, but he still had his head down. “We talked about what we should do next,” I replied.
“And what did you want do?”
Craig raised his head and stated angrily, “We wanted to die!” He started crying. Blake put his arm around him and pulled him into his chest while they both wept.
“Blake,” she said softly. He raised his head and looked over at her. “Is that what you want to do too when you go there?”
“Sometimes,” he cried. “Everybody hates me. Sometimes I just wish I was dead.”
Mrs. Reinhart rose and asked Marie if she could make coffee. My aunt got up from her chair and they went into the kitchen. Before leaving, she turned and said, “Let’s take a break. I’ll have Marie bring you boys some sodas and something to snack on. Pull yourselves together.”
“I wish I was dead,” cried Craig. “Do you know how horrible this sounds when we try to explain it? There is no way we’re going to get out of this mess.”
I cried, “We have to find a way. Let’s give Mrs. Reinhart a chance to help.”
“What can she do?” asked Blake sarcastically. “Is she going to come back in here and wave a magic wand and make the last few weeks go away?”
We turned our heads toward the door when Mrs. Reinhart laughed. She was carrying a tray with three sodas and bags of potato chips and Doritos. “No, I don’t have a magic wand,” she smiled. “But I do have connections. I have friends who may be able to help you.”
I asked, “Who?”
“While you were telling me what happened,” she explained, “I was messaging a couple of people.”
She sat down in her chair. “One of my husband’s best friends is a police officer. I asked him to come by.”
“Well, it appears that you may be runaways. He’ll know if there is a report filed. If there is, he can report that you are safe. The other person I contacted is the director of a gay center in town. He’ll be better at handling these things than I can. Both should be here shortly.”
Craig asked, “Will we be arrested.” Mrs. Reinhart said that she doubted that we would be. We really hadn’t done anything that would warrant an arrest.
Aunt Marie entered with two cups of coffee. Craig, Blake and I nibbled on the snacks. Mrs. Reinhart sat back and looked over at Blake. “Blake,” she said. “I’m concerned about your statement about everyone hating you, and you wish you were dead. Why did you say that?”
I reached over and gripped his hand when he started to tremble. Soon, tears filled his eyes. He cried as he told of his tragic life. Tears filled Craig’s eyes as Blake told how his parents had abandoned him when they found out he was gay. Even though he had told me about his life earlier, I was surprised by the way he was treated, particularly his mother. She was devoutly religious, and when he told her he was gay when he was twelve, she refused to accept it. For a year, she sent him to a pastor who did conversion therapy. He finally gave up and told his parents Blake was a hopeless case. A few times, Blake was overcome with grief, and fell against Craig as he held him tightly.
“I wanted to die,” he cried. “I just couldn’t find a way to do it.” After a few minutes he continued his sad story. He told Mrs. Reinhart how his parents had sent him to stay with Amber’s family. He said it was his last chance to prove that he wasn’t a hopeless case.
“Last night, my uncle told me I had to leave when they picked us up at the party,” he sobbed. “They’re going to put me in a school for bad boys.” Blake was crying uncontrollably. “If they do, I’m going to kill myself.” I looked over and my aunt and Mrs. Reinhart were crying.
Aunt Marie held out her arms toward Blake. “Come here, Baby,” she said softly. I put my hand on Blake’s back and gently pushed him up. He hesitated before he walked over to my aunt. She reached out, and he fell to the ground and buried his head in her lap. We were all crying as she gently rubbed her hand over his back and through his hair.
“It’s okay,” she said soothingly. “You’re going to be okay.”
“No, I won’t,” he cried. “I get somewhere, and I find new friends, and now I have to leave.” He looked at me and Craig and sobbed. Aunt Marie rose, took his hand and led him from the room.
I looked at Craig and his face was stained with tears. “I had no idea,” he remarked sadly. “I feel like shit for the way I treated him.”
“It’s not your fault,” I replied. “No one knew what he was going through.”
Just then, the doorbell rang. “I’ll get it,” said Mrs. Reinhart as she jumped from her chair and headed into the living room. I could hear her talking to someone, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. A minute later, she entered with a tall man who looked to be about fifty. He was wearing a sweatsuit. It appeared he may have just returned from running.
Mrs. Reinhart approached and introduced him. Craig and I stood and faced him. “This is Walter Ellis.” He smiled as he shook our hands. “This is Seth and his friend, Craig. The other boy left the room for a minute. He should be returning shortly.”
As if on cue, Aunt Marie entered holding Blake’s hand. He seemed much calmer than he was when he left. I don’t know what my aunt said to him, but he even had a slight smile on his face. He sat beside me and gripped my hand.
She introduced the man to my aunt. “This is Walter Ellis. He’s a dear friend of mine. He’s the director of the gay center downtown. If anyone knows what to do, Walter will.” Uncle Steve entered with two dining room chairs. He offered one to Mr. Ellis, and he sat in the other.
Mr. Ellis looked at Mrs. Reinhart and asked, “Now, please tell me why I’m here.” He looked at Blake, Craig and me on the couch. “I assume it has something to do with these young men.”
Mrs. Reinhart began to tell our story, but the doorbell rang. Uncle Steve got up and answered the door. A minute later, he came into the room with another chair. A police officer followed behind him. He quickly glanced at the three of us, then he introduced himself to the adults. “I’m Sergeant Daniel Williamson,” he said as he shook their hands. He looked down at us and asked, “I’m assuming these are the boys.”
“Yes, Daniel,” replied Mrs. Reinhart. She pointed at us as she called out our names. “This is Seth, Craig and Blake.”
Sergeant Williamson stared down at us. He was a large man, but he had a pleasant face. I looked at the handcuffs attached to his gun belt, and I wondered if he was going to arrest us. “I don’t have to tell you boys how much of a problem you have created.” I began to tremble. Blake reached down and gripped my hand. “However, you’re safe, and that is all that matters right now.”
My voice squeaked as I asked, “Are we in trouble?”
He smiled and replied, “Not with me. However, you might be when you get home. I’ve talked to your parents to let them know you’re safe.”
I giggled when Craig muttered softly, “Fuck.”
Sergeant Williamson laughed and said, “Maybe it won’t be as bad as you think. They all seemed very happy that you are okay.”
“Yeah, right,” sadly muttered Craig.
Sergeant Williamson pulled a little notebook from his pocket. He looked down and asked, “Which of you boys is Seth?”
“I am,” I replied nervously.
“Well,” he said, “you might want to avoid your sister for a while. She put up quite a fight with my officers last night.”
Blake giggled when I muttered softly, “Fuck.”
Officer Williamson closed his book and said, “I’m through here. I wanted to make sure that these boys are safe so I can close this case.” He looked over at Mrs. Reinhart. “Carol, I’m assuming you’ll see that these boys return safely to their homes.”
“Of course, Daniel,” she replied as she took his arm and led him from the room. After seeing him out, she returned to the family room. “Now, where were we?” she asked.
For the next thirty minutes, we had to relive the trauma of the past few weeks as we retold our story to Mr. Ellis. However, this time we were able to do it without breaking down emotionally. Occasionally, we cried, but we didn’t lose control like we had earlier.
When we finished, he studied us a moment, and then he asked, “How do you boys want to handle this?”
“Handle what?” asked Craig.
He sighed and replied, “You do know that you have to return home.” He looked over at Mrs. Reinhart. “Do you prefer to go home alone and confront your parents, or would you like me and Carol to go with you? We can also do it in my office downtown if you wish.”
Craig looked at me and asked, “What do you want to do?”
I smiled and replied, “Run away.”
“Me, too,” said Craig.
“That won’t solve your problems,” remarked Mr. Ellis. “Someday you’ll have to face them.”
Craig replied sadly, “I know.” He thought for a minute, and then he said, “Can you go with me, Mr. Ellis? I don’t know what to say.”
Mr. Ellis replied with a smile, “Of course, Craig.” He looked at me and asked, “What about you, Seth?” I told him I would also like him to go with me while I met my mother. I wished that Sergeant Williamson had stayed. I would probably need him to protect me when Stacy sees me.
“What about me?” asked Blake. “Where am I going tonight?”
Aunt Marie rose and asked to speak with Mr. Ellis in the kitchen. He nodded his head and followed my aunt from the room. Mrs. Reinhart and Uncle Steve got up and left also.
Craig looked worriedly over at me. “What do you think, Guys? Can we trust them?”
“We don’t have any other options,” I replied.
Tears welled up in Blake’s eyes. “I don’t know what is going to happen to me.” He started to cry. “I may never see you guys again after today.” Craig pulled him into a tight embrace as he wept.
Mr. Ellis entered the room alone. He pulled up a chair and faced Blake. “I have something I want to discuss with you.” He looked at Craig and me. “Do you want them to leave?”
“No,” insisted Blake as he reached out and gripped our hands. “They are my friends. The can stay.”
“Very well,” he replied, and he continued, “I’ve spoken to Marie and Steve.” He looked at me and smiled. “First, I’m going to talk to your aunt. If she insists that you leave, then Marie and Steve have agreed to open their home to you.”
“You mean I can stay here?” cried Blake. “Really?”
“Really,” replied Aunt Marie and Uncle Steve as they entered the room. Aunt Marie stretched out her arms and Blake rose and rushed over to her. She held him tightly as he cried.
She looked down at me. “Your cousin, Charles, is away at college. Blake can have his room.” It was now my turn to cry. I rose and hugged her and Uncle Steve.
Mr. Ellis smiled and said, “I’ll stop by tomorrow after talking to Blake’s aunt and parents. If they agree, I’ll have them sign papers allowing you to take guardianship over Blake. I don’t see any problems going forward if they consent.” He smiled at Blake and asked, “How does that sound?” Blake responded by tightly hugging my aunt as tears fell down her cheeks.
Mr. Ellis sighed and asked as he looked at Craig and me. “Who wants to go first?”
Craig looked pleadingly at me. “Can I go first? I might as well get this over with.”
“Yeah, sure,” I replied.
Mr. Ellis put his hand on Craig’s back. “Sometimes these things aren’t as bad as they seem.”
As they headed for the door, Craig replied sadly, “You don’t know my parents.” Before leaving, he turned and gave me and Blake a tight embrace. We were all tearful when he pulled away. I wasn’t sure if it would be the last time I see him.
After they left, Mrs. Reinhart asked me if there was anything more that she could do. I hugged her and thanked her for everything that she had already done. She assured me that I could call and talk to her anytime I wanted. She ruffled Blake’s hair. He giggled and stepped back. “We’ll be seeing a lot of each other. I’m going to talk to Marie about setting up counseling sessions. What do you think about that?” Blake didn’t say anything as he leaned in and hugged Mrs. Reinhart. She ruffled his hair again before leaving. I could hear her and Aunt Marie talking in the kitchen. I guess they were talking about what days would be best for her to bring Blake to see her.
Blake and I sat on the couch. “Are you scared?” he asked worriedly. “Are you going home with Mr. Ellis when he gets back from talking to Craig’s parents?”
I rose from the couch and headed into the kitchen. My aunt was scurrying around the room preparing dinner. I looked at the clock. It was after seven. I didn’t realize so much time had passed. “Aunt Marie?” She turned and smiled. “Can you call Mom and ask her if I can stay here tonight?”
She looked worriedly at me. “Don’t you think you should go home? Your mother is worried about you.”
“But I’m okay,” I replied. “Besides, I’ll be able to handle it better tomorrow. I’ve been through so much today.”
“I’ll call and see what she says,” she said. “But, if she wants you to come home, you’ll have to. Now, you boys go to Charles’s bedroom and wait for dinner.” I grabbed Blake’s hand and walked down the hall.
I was surprised to see Uncle Steve in the room. He was standing before a shelf and staring at some cross-country medals Charles had won in high school. He turned when we entered. He pointed at the bed and told us to sit. He then got Charles’ computer chair and sat in front of us.
“We need to talk,” he began. He stared intently at Blake. “Marie and I are taking a big risk by welcoming you into our home.” I looked at Blake and saw tears forming in his eyes. Uncle Steve looked at me and said, “However, you are Seth’s friend, and we trust his judgement.” Tears formed in my eyes.
“From what I heard, Blake, you have been through a lot,” he continued. “Marie and I don’t want to add to your burdens.” Blake began to cry. Uncle Steve reached over and patted his knee. “We’re going to provide you with a safe place to stay until you graduate from high school. We don’t want to make a lot of demands on you. The only thing we ask is that you attend school every day and maintain good grades. Can you do that?”
Blake looked teary-eyed into Uncle Steve’s face and said, “Yes, Sir.”
Uncle Steve smiled and said, “You don’t have to call me Sir.” He looked at me. “Just call my wife and I what Seth does. Please call us Aunt Marie and Uncle Steve. Okay?”
Blake responded timidly, “Yes, Sir. Oops, I mean yes, Uncle Steve.”
Uncle Steve patted him on his knee and said, “Very good. One other thing.”
“Yes, Uncle Steve?” replied Blake.
“I heard you say that you like to run away when you can’t cope with your problems.”
“I’m sorry, Uncle Steve.”
“No, it’s okay,” responded my uncle. “I do want you to make me one promise.”
My uncle replied, “I want you to promise me that if you feel that you can’t deal with something, and you feel the urge to leave, that you will come to me or Aunt Marie and tell us what is bothering you. Do you think you can do that?”
I watched as Blake became emotional and began to cry. I felt that it was the first time that any adult had shown him any compassion. Uncle Steve rose from his chair and pulled Blake into a tight embrace. Blake buried his head in Uncle Steve’s chest and wept. I stood and put my arm around Blake’s waist.
“Can you promise me that, Blake?” Uncle Steve asked softly. Blake nodded his head into his chest.
“Very good,” he replied. He looked over at me. “The same goes for you, too, Seth. You come to me if anything is bothering you. Promise?”
“Yes, Uncle Steve,” I replied as I reached over and hugged him.
He pulled away and smiled at us. “I’m going downstairs now. I’ll leave you two alone for a while. Why don’t you lie down and get some rest before dinner.”
“Yes, Uncle Steve,” I replied with a smile.
He started to turn but stopped and looked at us. “One other thing, Boys.”
“What?” I asked.
He smiled slightly and replied, “I want you boys to be discreet around your Aunt Marie. I’ve watched you, and you’re very close. You care about each other. Just don’t do anything that will embarrass her.”
“We won’t,” I promised.
“Good,” he smiled. He headed for the door. Before leaving, he turned and said, “And lock the door when I leave.” He laughed and said, “I had to put a latch on it so Marie wouldn’t walk in on Charles and catch him doing something she wouldn’t want to see.”
“Uncle Steve!” I squealed. He laughed and closed the door. I walked over and locked it.
I hope you are enjoying the story. Let's hope the boys find their way out of the chaos they are in. Send your comments to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I enjoy hearing from readers. All correspondence is confidential.