Mom and Randy were sitting in the den when we walked into the house. Randy got up and ran over to me until my mother shouted.
“Sit down, Randy!” She hollered. “Stay away from your brother.” He stopped and gave me an apologetic look. I saw tears begin to fall down his face as he returned to his seat on the sofa. I looked over and gave my mother an angry look. She gave me a challenging stare, daring me to say something.
My grandmother walked over, sat beside Randy, and pulled him into her arms. She then patted the seat beside her, indicating she wanted me to sit on the other side.
“He’ll sit over there,” my mother ordered, pointing to a chair in the corner. Without looking at her, I walked over and sat beside my grandmother. When I looked over, she was scowling.
We sat in awkward silence for several minutes. My grandmother began the conversation.
“Just what do you want, Sarah?” I could hear the frustration in her voice.
“This is a family discussion,” she insisted. “I don’t think it is your place to be here.”
“I’m your mother,” my grandmother shouted. “I’ll be where I damned well please to be. You have no right to talk to me like that.” She pulled Randy and me into her tighter as my mother looked angrily at her.
“Have it your way,” she huffed. She then looked over at Randy and me.
“Your father and I are getting a divorce,” she stated flatly. I looked over and saw Randy crying. I got up and sat on the other side of him. I hugged him tightly while my grandmother continued to try to comfort him.
“When can I see Daddy again?” He whimpered after a few minutes. I watched as an angry expression appeared on my mother’s face.
“You won’t.” she remarked emphatically.
“Sarah!” my grandmother spoke angrily, “You can’t deny these boys from seeing their father.”
“I can, and I will!” she shouted. “I don’t want that pervert anywhere near these boys.” I started to say something, but my grandmother grabbed my hand.
“He’s their father, for God’s sake,” she said loudly. “He’ll fight you in court to see them.”
“Let him try!” she screamed. “I don’t want my boys to be like him.” She looked over at me and said, “If it’s not already too late.”
“What does that mean?” I rose from my seat and stood before her, looking down angrily. My fists were balled tightly. My grandmother jumped from the sofa and grabbed my arm.
“Don’t Rudy,” she said softly. “She’s trying to upset you. Don’t let her.” She led me back to the couch and sat down beside me. Randy scooted over and I threw my arm protectively around him.
“And there will be no more of that.” My mother pointed at us. “I don’t want to see you two hugging anymore. You should be ashamed of yourself, Rudy. He’s only seven.”
“What in the hell are you trying to say, Mother?” I shouted angrily. “Do you think I’m trying to do something with Randy?” I got up, walked back over, and stood before her. She got up and stood challengingly before me.
“I don’t know what you’re capable of doing!” she shouted. “You act just like your father.” My grandmother grabbed my hand before I could swing it at my mother.
“Come on.” My grandmother pulled me away and led me to the door. “Come on, Randy.” She held out her hand and he came running over. We turned and started to leave.
“You can’t take my boys from me!” My mother shouted. “I want them here tonight. We haven’t finished talking.”
“Yes you have,” my grandmother said angrily. “You’ve said more than you should have.
Come on, boys.” She held our hands as until we got to the car. Instead of getting in the back seat as he usually does, he scooted over into the front seat. When I sat down, he clutched me tightly
“Bring my boys back here!” My mother shouted from the porch. “I’m calling the police and telling them you kidnapped them.” Our neighbors’ porch lights came on as some of them stepped out to see what was going on.
“Do that,” my grandmother warned, “And I swear to God you’ll never see these boys again.” She got in and backed out of the driveway. My mother and I exchanged angry glances as we drove away.
The incident with our mother seemed to traumatize Randy. He was visible shaken, and he clung to me tightly in the car. My mother’s announcement that she was divorcing my father, and her threat that he could never see him again, was more than he could handle. He was also worried that she was trying to separate us.
As he trembled in my arms, I grew increasingly angrier with my mother. I knew this was extremely hard on her, but she should show some maturity and put Randy’s feeling above hers. It didn’t matter that she didn’t care how I felt. I knew that I could probably handle it, but Randy was only seven. He needed our mother to be strong for him.
I couldn’t understand why she was behaving as she was. She had always been a good mother before my father’s arrest. She adored Randy, and I never felt she had any animosity towards me before. She worked hard at the department store where she was manager, but she was always home in the evenings. She agreed to becoming manager only if she could work days. She always said her family came first.
Now she was acting like a complete stranger. I don’t know if she felt betrayed by my father’s actions, or she was embarrassed by the situation we now found ourselves in. Perhaps, it was a combination of both. My only hope was that soon she would learn to deal with the situation and start acting like a mother once again. Randy needed her. Grandma and I could comfort him, but he needed the love only a mother can provide.
He was asleep when we arrived at Grandma’s apartment. He stirred a little when I picked him up and carried him to the sofa and laid him down. He started crying when I walked away, so I sat down and put his head in my lap. He soon fell back to sleep.
My grandmother brought me some milk and cookies, and then she sat down and turned on the television. She sat staring at me with Randy curled up in my lap. Suddenly, she made a growling sound, and then got up and went into her bedroom. Minutes later, I heard her talking to my mother on the phone in a heated conversation.
I could make out some of the conversation when she would raise her voice and shout. My grandmother doesn’t bite her tongue when she has something to say, and she was saying quite a bit. I’m glad Randy was asleep, because she was using quite a bit of profanity. I had seen her upset before, but I had never heard her so angry.
After a while, the conversation became quieter, and soon I couldn’t make out anything she was saying. I heard her blow her nose a few times, so I assumed that she was crying. Thirty minutes after going into her room, she came out. Her eyes were red and puffy. She sat down and stared blankly at the television screen. I didn’t know if I should say anything or not, so I remained silent.
After a few minutes she spoke. “I don’t want you to argue with me, Rudy,” she stated, “but you’re going back home tomorrow.”
“What!” I shouted. Randy jumped in my lap from my outburst. “We can’t go back there, not after tonight.”
“I talked to your mother, and she’s agreed to go to counseling,” she said. “I don’t think she should be separated from you and Randy right now.” I looked down and looked at Randy’s innocent face. As much as I hated to admit it, I knew she was right.
“What about all the things she said tonight?” I asked. “She can’t keep us from seeing Dad. And what about Randy and me? She said some really nasty things. I’m not sure I can forget that.”
“As for you seeing your father,” she said, “she isn’t going to object. She thinks you’re old enough to make your own decision on that. But she still has a problem with Randy being around him alone. She’s willing to make some concessions, however.”
“What kind of concession?” I asked.
“We talked about perhaps me going with him if he goes to see your father.” She grabbed my hand and squeezed it. “At least it’s a start.”
“What if she discovers that...?” I stopped and looked down to see if Randy was still sleeping. “What if she finds out I’m gay?” I whispered.
“Just be careful around her,” she remarked. “She’s got enough to deal with right now.”
She looked at me and a grin appeared on her face.
“You were telling me about some girl your mother wanted you to date.”
“You mean Linda?”
“Yes,” she smiled. “I think that would be the best thing to do. It will throw her off right now, and it would allow you to see that little boyfriend of yours.”
“He’s not my boyfriend,” I insisted.
“Of course not, Dear,” she replied sarcastically. I looked at her and rolled my eyes.
“Now, wake Randy up and you two get ready for bed,” she ordered. “I’ll drive you to school in the morning.”
I decided to watch a little television before going to bed. My grandmother had made up the sleeper sofa for us, and Randy was sound asleep beside me. I was sitting up with my head resting on the back of the sofa. Randy had his arm thrown around me, and he was snoring lightly.
I flipped over to the news at 11. The first thing I saw was my father going into the courthouse for his arraignment. It then showed him standing before the judge. It was Judge Fredricks. I recognized him because he had been to our house on several occasions for dinner with his wife. I watched as he asked my father how he pleaded.
“Not guilty,” my father said softly. He kept his head lowered in humiliation. For the first time since Friday night, I felt sorry for him. He had always been such a strong man. Now he looked totally defeated.
“My client asks to be released on his own recognizance pending trial,” my father’s attorney spoke up. I didn’t know who he was. I would have recognized him if he was one of my father’s partners.
Judge Fredricks shuffled a few papers and then looked sternly at my father. “Granted.” He paused again and then announced. “I am setting the preliminary hearing in ten days.”
The next scene showed my father exiting the courtroom with his attorney. The same news reporter who had come to the house Saturday morning was there waving a microphone in front of my father’s face.
“Do you have any comment, Mr. Thomas?” he shouted. “Are the reports true?”
“No comment.” My father’s attorney shoved the microphone away. The reporter turned and talked into the camera.
“There you have it,” he reported. “Mr. Thomas has pleaded not guilty for trying to have oral sex with a police officer in a park restroom last Friday. It is a tragedy that the career of a prominent attorney has been ruined by this immoral act.” The newscast then went on to report a robbery of a convenience store earlier in the day.
“What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty?” I muttered under my breath. I lay down and pulled Randy into me. It took me half the night to fall to sleep. I couldn’t get my father’s sad image before the judge out of my mind.
When I arrived at school the next morning, it was obvious that other students had also seen the news. Many stopped and stared at me while I walked down the hallway. I heard my father’s name mentioned several times. It was usually accompanied with the word ‘pervert’ or ‘cocksucker.’
As I walked dejectedly down the hall, I looked up and saw Adam and a few of my friends coming toward me. They noticed me, and then stopped talking. They intentionally walked to the other side of the hall in an effort to avoid me. My eyes briefly met Adam’s, before he hung his head and walked quickly past me.
“You look depressed this morning.” Linda walked up to me as I was getting books out of my locker.
“No shit,” I said sharply. “Did you see the news last night?”
“Unfortunately, yes,” she replied sadly. “I was watching it with my mom and dad. My mother is having second thoughts about us going out.”
“What!” I shouted a little too loudly. “She can’t do that. We have the perfect plan to get us out of the house.”
“I know,” she said. “I played it coy. I acted like I didn’t want to go out with you anyway. You know how mothers are. If they think you don’t want to do something, that just makes them more insistent. She said she was going to call your mother and talk to her. I think we may be all right.”
“I hope so,” I stated. “If I have to stay cooped up in that house with her until I’m 18, I’m going to go nuts.”
“Don’t worry, Boyfriend.” She stood on her tiptoes and kissed me on my cheek. “I’ll take care of it.” I smiled and kissed her on her cheek. It was nice to have a friend like Linda.
I looked for Brent while I walked through the halls to my morning classes, but I didn’t spot him. As I approached the cafeteria for lunch, I finally saw him. I hurried to catch him, but a girl walked up and grabbed him by the arm, escorting him into the lunchroom. Even from a distance, it was obvious she cared about him.
Suddenly, I felt something surge through my body I had never experienced- jealousy. I was becoming angry at their closeness. She clung to him and giggled while he smiled back at her. I wanted to go up to her, remove her hand from around his arm, and announce that he was mine.
Then I began to realize that he wasn’t. We had shared a nice lunch yesterday, and we had admitted our feelings to one another. However, I realized I had no claim to him. As I watched him walking happily with her, I became angrier. I was mad at myself for believing for one minute that a boy like Brent could ever like someone like me.
Fighting back the tears, I turned and headed out of the cafeteria. I walked to the exit and wandered around the school grounds before finally sitting under a tree overlooking the student parking lot.
My mind was on overload. Too much had happened too suddenly. I wasn’t prepared to deal with all this. First, it was my father’s arrest, and then my mother’s sudden erratic behavior and Randy’s insecure feelings. Then I had to deal with my own sexuality, and suddenly find a boy I liked. Realizing I could never have a boy like Brent was the final straw. I collapsed on the ground and began sobbing uncontrollably.
I don’t remember much of what happened next. I vaguely recall the assistant principal and a security guard lifting me up and taking me to the nurse’s office. By that time, I had stopped crying, and I had completely shut down all my emotions. I can recall someone saying I looked like a zombie.
I don’t know how long I sat in the nurse’s office before my grandmother arrived. She talked soothingly to me, and then she led me out to her car. The next thing I can remember was sitting on a table in a doctor’s office. A man, who I assumed was the doctor, kept asking me questions. After what seemed like hours, I was given some medication and then allowed to go home.
It was dark when I awoke. I looked around me and realized I was lying in my bed at home. I squinted to see the time on the clock on my desk. It read 3:26. Since the room was dark except for a desk lamp, I assumed it was the middle of the night and not the afternoon.
I got up and walked over to the bathroom, took off my boxers and jumped into the shower. I closed my eyes as the warm water ran over my body. I was trying to figure out what had happened. I could remember some what occurred, but a lot was a blur.
The only thing that made sense was that I had had some kind of a mental breakdown. I guess everything came crashing down on me all at once. Up until last week, my life had been pretty normal. There had never been any major tragedies, and my parents had always tried to protect my brother and me from most of the evils of the world. Therefore, I had very little experience in how to deal with things when they went wrong. My life had definitely gone wrong now, and I guess I did not know how to deal with it.
I assumed the same was true for my mother. My parents had led the almost perfect life. They always seemed happy, and I had only heard them argue on a few rare occasions. Usually it involved my father thinking that my mother was spoiling Randy or me by buying us something we didn’t really earn. It wasn’t a matter of money. He just thought if we needed it bad enough, then we should work for it. I was expected to mow yards or shovel snow in the winter. He expected Randy to keep his toys picked up around the house.
That was the hardest thing about what happened on Friday- no one saw it coming. If my father had been a horrible husband or father, then maybe it wouldn’t have been as bad. However, he was almost perfect. Everyone thought he was a wonderful guy, and he was. He was the kind of man who, instead of giving money to a homeless person, would take them into a fast food restaurant and buy them a meal. Then as he was walking away, he would put a ten-dollar bill in their pocket.
Even though he was a successful attorney, he was constantly representing clients pro bono. If he read in the paper that someone was being treated unjustly by the legal system, he would visit him or her in their jail cell and then ask to represent them. He was recognized two years ago as one of Mount Evans Citizens of the Year.
Now everything had changed. My mother was filing for divorce and she didn’t want us to be around him anymore. Our whole lives had been completely altered, and it didn’t seem fair. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to stand before him and shout, “What in the hell were you thinking, Dad!”
As I got out of the shower and toweled off, Randy came tiptoeing into the bathroom. “Artie, are you okay?” He looked at me worriedly, and I could tell he was on the verge of tears.
“I’m all right, Randy.” I walked over and pulled him into me. He clutched me so tightly I could hardly breathe. “Let me take you back to bed.”
I tucked him into bed, and then sat with him until he fell back to sleep. Once again, anger surged through me as I thought about what my father had done to us. Randy was just a kid, and he didn’t need to be put through any of this.
After he fell asleep, I walked out of his room and went downstairs to the kitchen. I was surprised to find my mother sitting in the dark drinking a cup of coffee.
“Hello, Mother,” I said softly. I turned on a counter light, went to the refrigerator, and poured myself a glass of milk. She sat quietly, sipping at her coffee.
I started to leave the room when she stopped me. “Sit down, Rudy.” She pointed to a chair opposite her. “Please.” I cautiously sat down. After the past few days, I didn’t know what to expect.
She didn’t say anything for a long time. I drank my milk while she stared at her empty cup. “Would you like another cup of coffee?” She handed me her cup and I went over to the coffee pot and filled it. I put in one spoonful of sugar and just a dab of cream. I had been fixing her coffee for years, so I knew how she liked it.
“Thank you,” she said as I placed it on the table and sat back down. I watched as her head sunk and her shoulders started shaking. Soon she was wracked with tears.
“I loved him so much,” she cried. I watched her completely fall apart. She was crying uncontrollably. I didn’t know what to do. Overcome by her grief, I began to cry also. She pulled her chair next to mine and pulled me into her. We held each other and shared our hurt.
We wept for about ten minutes. Everything we had felt over the past week was released. I could understand her hurt, and I think she realized that I too was hurting. She sat up, reached for a paper towel, and wiped the tears from her eyes. She then handed me one.
“I’m sorry, Rudy,” she apologized. “I haven’t been acting like a very good mother. I know you hate me and you have every right to.” Again, tears started to fall down her face. I wanted to tell her that it was all right, but what she said was true. I didn’t hate her, but I couldn’t yet forgive her for all the hateful things she’d said to me.
“I’m going to go to a counselor tomorrow,” she stated. “And I think it would be wise if you and Randy did as well. After what happened at school today, I think you need to work through your feelings.”
My first instinct was to argue about seeing a counselor, but I knew she was right. Too much had happened, and I never wanted to break down again as I had at school earlier. I looked at her and nodded.
She walked over to the counter, took a pill out of a bottle, and handed it to me. “Here, take this.” She handed me the pill and I watched as she took one also.
“What is it?” I asked, looking at the small pill in my hand.
“An anti-depressant,” she replied. “The doctor wants us both to take it.” I placed the pill in my mouth and washed it down with my milk. If it would help me deal with what was going on, then I was willing to take it.
She sat back down and looked over at me. “You can see him if you want, I won’t stop you.”
“I’m not sure if I want to,” I confessed. “I wouldn’t know what to say.”
“Someday you’ll change your mind, and I won’t stop you if you want to see him.”
“And what about Randy?” An angry looked appeared on her face, and then she gained her composure.
“I’ll work something out,” she replied. I knew what she meant. She probably would let him see Dad if he was with my grandmother. I guess that was the most she was willing to bend, at least until he became older.
“And I’m sorry about the incident at the church,” she said. “I just didn’t know what to do, so I tried to turn to God. I realize now that it wasn’t right. I really don’t think there’s anything He can do to get us out of this mess.” She briefly started to cry again, but soon stopped.
“You don’t have to date Mrs. Sullivan’s daughter on Saturday, either.” Of all the things she had said the past few minutes, this one upset me. Our perfect cover was unraveling. It wasn’t that I thought I needed it now, but I had been looking forward to spending time with Linda and Amber. I also didn’t want to spoil things for Linda to be with Amber.
“If it’s all right,” I said sheepishly. “I think I’d like to go out with her Saturday.”
A small smile crept across my mother’s face. I think she thought I really liked Linda. I did, but not in the way she was thinking.
“Of course, Dear,” she grinned. “I’ll call Mrs. Sullivan tomorrow. Any idea where you would like to go?”
“We talked about maybe going to a movie,” I responded. I could tell I was blushing brightly. This only amused my mother more.
“I’ll tell her mother we’ll pick her up at six. I’ll drive you to the mall.”
“She’s such a lovely girl.” I could tell my mother was elated with the prospect that I was dating Linda. I began to feel guilty because I was misleading her to cover my sexuality. I wished that I could tell her I was gay as I had my grandmother. However, I knew that wouldn’t be wise. She had enough to deal with, and I didn’t need to add to it.
Then I became depressed remembering that I was supposed to meet Brent. After seeing him with that girl today, I was sure that any relationship with him was impossible. I don’t think he was leading me on when we went out to lunch yesterday; but I did feel that he really wasn’t sure of what he wanted. I was sure though, that it wasn’t me.
My mother looked at me and noticed my sudden change. “Is anything wrong?”
“No, Ma’am,” I lied. “I’m just tired. I think the pill is kicking in. I’m going to back to bed.”
“All right, Dear.” I walked over and kissed her on her forehead. “Sleep late if you want to. I’ll call the school and tell them you won’t be there...” She looked over at the time. “Today.”
I went back to my room, crawled into bed, and covered my face with the pillow. I couldn’t stop seeing Brent walking with that girl. I remembered how she wrapped her arm around him and rubbed her body against his.
The pill may have been an anti-depressant, but it wasn’t working. I was feeling miserable, as the tears fell down my cheek and dampened the pillow.