When Donnie stopped in front of Andre’s trailer to let him out, Andre’s mother opened the door and peeked out. When Andre exited the car, she hollered out for him to invite Kyle and Donnie inside.
“Momma wants to meet you,” he said nervously. “You only have to stay a minute.” Donnie looked at Kyle, shrugged his shoulders and got out of the car.
When they entered the small, cramped trailer, Kyle looked around. Two small children were sitting on a sofa watching a Shrek movie. The room was neat and tidy, and pictures of Andre’s family adorned the walls.
Andre’s mother extended her hand and said, “I’m Mrs. Tyler, but everyone calls me Mom Mabel.” She was a small woman wearing a blue dress that looked two sizes too big for her. Kyle thought that when she was younger, she was probably very pretty. In fact, there was a striking resemblance between her and Andre. Andre stepped forward and introduced Kyle and Donnie. She turned off the television and told the two children to go play in their room. When one started to whine, she gave her a menacing look and they scrambled to their room.
“Please sit down, Boys,” she said and pointed to the sofa. Kyle and Donnie sat down, and then Andre asked Kyle to scoot over toward Donnie so he could sit down. Andre’s mother went into the kitchen and returned with three sodas. After handing them to the boys, she sat down in an old, blue recliner.
She eyed the boys carefully before asking, “How is Buddy?” Andre explained that he was feeling much better, especially after meeting Donnie and Kyle.
“He laughed today,” remarked Andre excitedly. “I haven’t seen him laugh in a long time.”
She studied Kyle and Donnie carefully, and then said, “Maybe friendship is just what the doctor ordered.” She then asked the boys how they had met. Kyle nervously explained how his father was the one who hit Buddy with is car.
“It wasn’t his fault,” she explained. “Buddy was doing something he shouldn’t have been doing.” She looked threateningly at Andre and said adamantly, “If I ever find out you’re messing with drugs, remember what I said.”
“Yes, Momma,” replied Andre. “You brought me into this world, and you can take me out of it.” His mother sat back in the recliner and let out a loud laugh.
They sat and talked as they sipped on their sodas. Mom Mabel wanted to know about Kyle and Donnie. She said her son didn’t have many friends, and she was pleased that they had befriended him.
Kyle and Donnie glanced quickly at each other when she asked, “Are you boys gay like my Andre?”
“Momma!” shrieked Andre. “You can’t ask them that!”
“Fiddle faddle,” she laughed. “What’s the harm in asking?” She leaned forward and stared into Kyle and Donnie’s eyes. “I’ve known my boy was gay from an early age.”
“Momma!” Andre screeched again.
She looked over at an embarrassed Andre and said, “Hush, Child.” Andre sat back and glanced quickly over at Kyle and Donnie. He was afraid his mother was being too nosy.
“I’m not judging,” she remarked as she smiled at Kyle and Donnie. “I’m a Christian woman, and I go to church every Sunday morning.” She glanced at Andre. “He quit going a couple of years ago.”
“That’s cause they hated me being there,” he spat angrily.
“That’s their problem,” she replied. “Someday we’re all going to have to stand before our God, and I believe the scripture where it says judge not lest you be judged.” She folded her hands in front of her almost as in prayer. “I’m not perfect, and God knows I’ve done some sinning in my lifetime. But I don’t want the Good Lord to ask me why I said this about one person, or that about another. It isn’t any of my business what people do so long as they have love in their heart when they do it. God Almighty will someday decide if it was right or wrong.”
“And Jesus himself will be sitting on his right side,” she continued as the boys listened to her attentively. “That’s what the Good Book says. And he’ll look down from his throne and say, “I asked my children to do one thing, and that is love each other as I have loved you. Did you love your fellow man?’” Tears started to appear in her eyes. “I want my heart to be filled with love, not hate. Jesus himself is going to ask why our hearts were filled with so much hate.”
She looked around at the small, cramped trailer. “I don’t have a lot, as you can see. But the Good Lord blessed me with an abundance of love. I share that love with my children, grandbabies, family, friends and strangers.” She smiled warmly and said, “It’s the only thing I got to give.”
She leaned forward and stared directly into Kyle and Donnie’s eyes and said, “So I asked you if you are gay because I wanted to love you as you are.” She looked tearfully at Andre and said almost reverently, “Just like I love my boy.” Kyle glanced quickly at Andre when he wiped tears from his eyes.
Kyle turned back toward Andre’s mother and said, “Yes, Ma’am, I’m gay.”
“Me, too,” remarked Donnie.
She sat back, smiled and replied, “Good.”
They continued to chat for about fifteen more minutes. Besides asking questions about them, she related a few comical stories about Andre. Most were about how he would do things as a small child to get attention. “One time,” she laughed, “when he was about six, he put on a pair of my Sunday church high heels and a big, purple feather hat and paraded up and down the street.” Kyle laughed uproariously when he looked at Andre’s embarrassed face.
“Momma!” shrieked Andre. “Stop!”
As he sat on the tattered sofa between Andre and Donnie, Kyle felt a sense of comfort and a feeling of being at home. He let his hand drop from his lap onto the sofa where Andre’s hand was resting. His hand brushed gently against Andre’s hand. The subtle gesture didn’t go unnoticed by Andre’s mother as she looked at Kyle and gently smiled.
Donnie looked at his watch and announced that he had to go. “My parents have a nine o’clock curfew,” he explained.
“Oh, dear,” remarked Mom Mabel when she noticed it was 8:50. “Would you like me to call your home?” He explained that they would not get mad when he told them where he was.
As they were leaving, Andre’s mother hugged them tightly. “You better come visit with us again,” she said. She kissed Kyle’s forehead and whispered softly, “Especially you.”
On the way to the car, Andre grabbed Kyle’s arm and stopped him. “I’m sorry, Guys,” he apologized. “Mom can be a little overbearing.”
Donnie asked, “She loves you right?” Andre nodded his head. “Then it’s all good.” The boys quickly hugged before Donnie and Kyle got in the car and pulled away.
When they were out of the mobile park, Donnie turned to Kyle and exclaimed excitedly, “He’s really into you!”
Kyle gave him a puzzled look and asked, “Who?”
Donnie laughed, “Are you blind as a bat? Andre.”
“He didn’t stop looking at you all night,” said Donnie. He started sing, “Kyle’s got a boyfriend. Kyle’s got a boyfriend.”
“Would you shut up,” laughed Kyle. “He doesn’t.” He then gave Donnie puzzled look and asked, “Does he?” Donnie laughed and shook his head.
“I’ll tell you what,” replied Donnie. “It’s a little late, but do you want to go back to my house? We’ll grab some snacks and go to my room.” He grabbed his stomach and said, “I’m starving like Marvin.”
“I have to call home,” replied Kyle. He took out his phone and called his mother. After warning him to be home by eleven, she gave him permission.
“Thanks, Mom, love you,” responded Kyle as he hung up.
Donnie laughed and said, “It’s not cool, Dude, to tell your Mom you love her.”
Kyle gave him a puzzled look. “Why?”
Donnie shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t know, but I think it’s in the teen manual somewhere.” They both started laughing.
Five minutes later, they were pulling into Donnie’s driveway. His home was like Kyle’s home. It was a large brick, two-story house on a well-manicured and landscaped yard. A large boxer lying on the porch stood, wagged its tail and scrambled down the stairs. When Donnie got out of the car, the dog jumped excitedly on him.
“Down, Sinbad!” The boxer sat and continued to wag his tail. He started to get up and jump on Kyle when he walked around the car, but Donnie admonished him again. When he knelt to pet him, the dog nudged him and almost knocked him down.
“He’s beautiful,” remarked Kyle as he petted him. The dog lifted his head and licked Kyle’s cheek.
“He likes you,” remarked Donnie. “Of course, he likes everybody.” He laughed and tore off toward the porch. The dog sprang up and chased him. When they got to the porch, Sinbad jumped on Donnie and knocked him to the ground. Kyle approached and laughed.
Donnie opened the door, and Sinbad went running in. “Come on,” said Donnie as he motioned for Kyle to follow him.
He threw his book bag on the foyer floor and shouted out, “Hey, Mom! Dad!”
“In the den,” a woman’s voice hollered back.
Kyle and Sinbad followed Donnie into a room off the kitchen. Donnie’s parents were sitting closely together watching a large television. They smiled when the boys approached.
His mother looked at the clock on the wall and said, “It’s late.”
“Sorry,” replied Kyle. He then explained that he had been at the hospital visiting Buddy. They were already aware of Buddy getting hit by Kyle’s father. The neighborhood watch had sent out an email informing them of the accident.
“Who’s your friend?” asked Donnie’s father as he stood, approached Kyle and shook his hand.
“Kyle Caldwell, Sir,” replied Kyle.
“No shit!” exclaimed Mr. Dennis. “You Jeff Caldwell’s boy?”
Kyle’s face reddened as he said, “Yes, Sir.”
Mr. Dillon had the boys sit, and he relayed how he and Kyle’s father played golf on Sunday afternoon. He said his father had talked about him, so he was thrilled to finally get to meet him. “We gotta watch the old bird, though,” laughed Mr. Dillon. “He’ll shave a few points off his score if we aren’t paying attention.”
He looked over at Donnie and asked, “How come you haven’t invited him home before?”
“We just met a few days ago,” replied Kyle. He stood and pulled Kyle to his feet. “We’re going to my room.” Kyle waved to Donnie’s parents as he followed behind Donnie into the kitchen. After grabbing four sodas, two bags of potato chips and a box of Oreo cookies, they headed up to Donnie’s room.
Sinbad immediately jumped on the king-sized bed. Kyle looked around the room. “Jesus,” laughed Kyle. “Don’t you ever clean your room?” Clothes were scattered all around. It looked as if Donnie stepped out of them and left them were they lay. Video games were cluttering his computer desk, and school books were stacked in a pile in the corner. It appeared that the room hadn’t been tidied in months.
“What can I say,” Donnie replied as he kicked a pile of clothes under the bed. After tossing some sweat pants and a shirt off the bed into the open closet door, he sat down on the bed. Sinbad instantly started licking his face. “Stop it!” he squealed as he pushed the dog away. Sinbad jumped down and lay atop a pile of clothes.
Donnie patted the bed and told Kyle to join him. “Are you sure it’s safe?” laughed Kyle.
Donnie responded, “I may not be neat, but I’m clean.” He laughed, raised his arm, smelled is armpit and said, “See.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” laughed Kyle as he sat on the bed. Donnie handed him a soda. He then opened a bag of chips, reached in and took out a handful before handing the bag to Kyle.
“So, what do you think?” Donnie asked as he toed off his shoes and lay back on the bed.
“I think you’re a pig,” laughed Kyle as he toed off his shoes, lay back and ate a handful of chips.
“No,” remarked Donnie, “Not my room. What do you think about Andre?”
“I’m really confused,” replied Kyle. “When I went to the cafeteria with him, all he talked about was how Buddy liked me.”
Donnie gave him a puzzled look. “Buddy?” Kyle explained how Buddy had told Andre he had a crush on him.
“Dude,” laughed Donnie. “Someone does have a crush on you. But it’s Andre.” He studied Kyle for a minute. “So, what do you think about that?”
“I’m not sure,” replied Kyle skeptically.
Donnie asked, “Is it because he’s black?” Kyle shook his head.
“No,” he replied. “That doesn’t bother me.”
“Is it because he’s poor?” Donnie knew he’d struck the truth when Kyle didn’t respond and looked away. He sat up and looked into Kyle’s eyes. “So that’s it, huh?”
Kyle stood and paced around the room. “I don’t know.” Donnie rolled his eyes, and Kyle confessed, “Okay. Maybe just a little.”
“You’re shit, you know that,” scoffed Donnie.
“I know,” lamented Kyle as he sat back down on the bed. “Would you go out with him if he liked you?”
“In a heartbeat,” responded Donnie. “Besides being cute as hell, he’s a genuinely nice guy. Not many of them exist anymore.”
“It wouldn’t bother you that he lives in a trailer?”
“Why should it?”
“I don’t know,” replied Kyle. “It just seems we wouldn’t have a lot in common.”
“Are you kidding!” said Donnie excitedly. “You guys talked all night. You didn’t seem to have a problem.”
“I know,” replied Kyle. “But...” He stopped before saying something he knew he probably shouldn’t. He would have to do a lot more thinking before he could understand his feelings.
He sat back on the bed and asked, “Can we talk about something else?”
“Sure,” replied Donnie as he opened the Oreo box, took out a few cookies and handed it to Donnie. “What do you want to talk about?”
“How about you?”
“Yeah, you,” replied Kyle. “How come you came up to me the other day in the cafeteria?”
Donnie responded, “I told you. I just thought we had something in common. You know, being gay and all.”
“Okay,” said Kyle, “But you’re like this super incredible guy, yet you don’t seem to have a lot of friends. I mean you’re really cute...” He paused as his face began to redden. “You live like this. You have a car. How many guys our age have cars?”
“Yeah,” laughed Donnie. “But it has my dad’s name all over the side. That’s not really impressive.”
Kyle stared into Donnie’s eyes. “How come you don’t have a dozen guys beating down your door?”
“Fair question,” replied Donnie as he shoved a couple cookies in his mouth. “Thar aw ash hawls,” he said.
Kyle fell back and laughed. “What did you say?”
Donnie swallowed the cookies and said, “They are all assholes.” He sat up and crossed his legs Indian style. “I used to have a ton of friends.”
“In the seventh grade,” he continued, “I told Ryan Applegate that I was gay. I thought he was a friend, and I could trust him. I just needed someone to talk to about how I was feeling.”
“The next day he went to school and told everyone what I said.” He fell back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling for a minute. “Everyone started calling me a fag. They would do things like hide my books. Someone poured a bottle of ketchup in my locker.”
“Sorry,” remarked Kyle sadly.
“Naw,” replied Kyle. “It’s okay. It made me stronger. I vowed I’d never be like those assholes. So now I pick my friends carefully.”
“Is that why you came up to me in the cafeteria?”
Donnie said, “I passed you in the hall after that picture came out of you and Brad. I saw the hurt in your eyes. I knew you needed a friend.”
Kyle blinked away tears. “Thanks,” he replied. “I did.”
Donnie laughed and jumped off the bed. “This shit is getting too deep.” He walked over to his computer, turned it on and grabbed a video game. He held it up to Kyle. “Wanna play?”
“Sure,” replied Kyle enthusiastically. “I have to warn you, I’m pretty good.”
“Bring it on!” shouted Donnie as he pulled up a chair for Kyle. Two hours later, their friendship was cemented for life.
* * * * * *
Andre was surprised to see Buddy sitting in a chair when he entered his room. Buddy looked up and smiled broadly when he noticed his friend.
“Hey,” he said cheerfully. “It’s about time you got your ass here.”
Andre remarked, “You seem happy today.” He sat on the bed and looked down at Buddy.
“God, Andre,” cooed Buddy. “He’s a dream!”
“See,” laughed Andre. “I told you if you talked to him, you’d like him.”
Buddy gave his friend a puzzled look. “I’ve never talked to him before. I only met him last night.”
He gave Buddy a puzzled look. “Who?” He thought he was talking about Kyle. He was confused because Buddy said they had already talked in class.
Buddy looked up dreamily and replied, “Donnie.”