Andrew was lying on my bed asleep as I sat at my computer reading some of the email from my friends. Most were telling me how sorry they were that my mother had died. A few were ecards, mostly from girls.
I wasn’t the most popular guy at school, like Gabe, but I had a lot of friends. I have known most of them since elementary school. It also helps that our home has a large pool in the backyard. It became the hangout for my friends during the hot, summer months.
I’m not very athletic, but I do like to swim. Since I’m rather small at 5’6” I’m not exactly basketball material. I wouldn’t know how to throw a football if I had to. Three summers ago, Gabe and a few other guys convinced me to play tag football in a field down the street from our house. Gabe became frustrated because every time he passed me the ball, I managed to fumble it. Soon, I found myself sitting on the sidelines watching the others play.
Gabe is a good friend. He’s been with me through the past three years. There were times I felt I couldn’t hang on anymore, but he was always there to lend me a strong shoulder to cry on.
My mother adored him. A smile would appear on her face when we entered a room together. She would find our height difference amusing. He towers over me at 6’4” and outweighs me by about 50 pounds. She would laugh and tell us we looked like Mutt and Jeff- whoever they are.
Two years ago when my mother was really sick, he would stay most nights with me. We slept together in my king-sized bed. Late one night the moon was shining through the window and it was hitting Gabe’s face. I lay for an hour watching him as he slept.
Suddenly, something in me just clicked. I can’t really explain it. It was like in a cartoon where a light bulb goes on over someone’s head. That’s what it seemed like. In that brief moment, as I watched Gabe sleep, a revelation swept over me- I was gay.
It was like a defining moment for me. Years from now when someone asks me when did I first realize I was gay, I’ll tell them it was the night I watched Gabe sleeping beside me and I wanted to scoot next to him and wrap by body around his. For a while after that I thought it was because I was experiencing a lot of emotion dealing with my mother’s illness and his absence; but the more I thought about it, I began to realize it was more than that.
I would watch Gabe as he undressed in front of me, and I would stare at his soft dick. Mine would harden, and I would have to wrap a towel around the front of me so he couldn’t see. I would watch his long, lithe body swimming effortlessly through the water, and I wanted to sit him on the side of the pool and satisfy my sexual desires that were becoming stronger each day.
But I didn’t. And I never told Gabe how I felt, although I’m sure he would have probably laughed it off and called me a perv. He has a couple of gay friends at school, so I knew he wouldn’t have abandoned me as a friend. I just couldn’t tell him.
I think it was more of not telling myself. I pushed it to the back of my mind. I had too many other problems to deal with. My mother was dying of cancer and he had left us for another woman. I had suddenly become the man of the family. I had a younger brother and sister to protect. My sexuality would wait for another day. At fifteen it wasn’t a pressing issue. I could satisfy myself in bed late at night or in the morning shower. I didn’t need another issue to deal with.
I jumped when my door flew open. He was standing in the doorway with an angry look on his face. “Why are you up here in your room and not downstairs with our guests?”
Andrew leapt from the bed, ran over and jumped into my lap. “I want both of you downstairs, now!” He pointed toward the stairs.
“I don’t want to,” I replied defiantly. His eyes narrowed as a look of anger formed on his face.
He walked over and stood before me. His arms were crossed as he peered angrily at me. “You don’t have a choice,” he said as he reached down and grabbed Andrew from my lap. He started screaming and kicking in an attempt to get away. I stood up and faced him.
“Leave him alone!” I screamed as I pulled him back into my arms. “Leave us all alone!” I screamed louder.
He started to strike me but drew his hand back before his fist hit the side of my face. “Don’t you dare talk to me like that, Richard!” he shouted. “I’m your father.”
Before I realized what I was saying, my mouth screamed, “You’re a damn sperm donor!” I had read the term in an online story and found it appropriate to describe him. However, then wasn’t the right time to say it.
He shook his fist violently at me. I could tell he was filled with as much rage as I was feeling. “You’re grounded!” he screamed. He reached past me and yanked the keyboard from my computer.
“You can’t ground me!” I fought to retrieve my keyboard from his hand.
“Watch me!” he shouted as he stepped back. I was too small to continue to try and fight him. Besides, Andrew was crying, and he was trying to get me to stop.
Tears started to fall down my face. I didn’t want him to know he had upset me, but I was filled with too much anger to stop them. He had started to walk toward the door. “I hate you!” I screamed. “I fucking hate you!”
He turned and stood in a pose as if he were speaking to one of his apprehensions. “You can feel what you like towards me,” he said quietly. “But until you are eighteen, you are my son and I have authority over you.” His eyes narrowed once again in anger. “You will do as I tell you, and right now I am telling you to get your rebellious ass downstairs.” He walked over and took a screaming Andrew by the hand and started to lead him away. “You have five minutes or I’m going to come up here and drag you down there. If that’s what you want, then fine.” He gave me a final glare and then pulled Andrew from the room.
“Fuck you!” I screamed as he slammed the door shut.
I waited seven minutes until I finally went downstairs. I figured if I waited any longer, he would probably come back up and do what he threatened. I knew from past experiences that he always did what he said he would do.
When I was twelve, I went to play basketball at a friend’s house. He told me to be home by 8 pm or he’d come get me. I was having fun, and I wasn’t paying attention to the time. I heard a car speeding down the road and squeal to a stop. It was him. He stormed out of the car, came over, pulled me by my shirt and threw me in the car. My friends teased me for weeks after that incident.
Most of the guests were gone by the time I made my way to the living room. Andrew was sitting on my Aunt Barbara’s lap, so I went over and sat down beside her. He came walking in a few minutes later with her beside him holding his arm. They approached and he ordered me to stand.
“Richard, I want you to say hello to Linda.” He gave me a threatening look as I stood mum.
“Richard.” My aunt stood and faced him. “I don’t think this is the appropriate time for a confrontation.”
He looked angrily at her and then at me. “I’m not trying to start a fight,” he replied. “I just want the boys to meet Linda.” I looked over at her and she appeared nervous. She attempted to pull him away, but he refused to move.
He looked back at me. “I want you to say hello to Linda,” he ordered as he put his arm around her and pulled her directly in front of me.
I started to turn, but Aunt Barbara grabbed my arm and whispered in my ear, “Do it, Richie. It’s not worth making a big scene right now.” I looked into her pleading eyes.
“Hello, Mrs...?” I then turned to my father and said sarcastically. “What is her last name?” He glared angrily at me. She smiled and extended her hand.
“Very well, Richie,” she smiled. “You may call me Mrs. Brumbaugh.” I gave him a smug look.
“Hello, Mrs. Brumbaugh,” I said sweetly. “Very nice to meet you.” I then gave him another smug look before turning and walking away. He started to follow me, but she stopped him. I could hear her trying to calm him down as I walked away.
I headed into the dining room and looked at the lavish array of food on the table. Several people in gray uniforms were flittering around making sure that everything looked presentable.
As I grabbed a plate and placed roast beef and a few vegetables on it, I noticed someone walk up, take a plate and move around the table. He stayed close to my side as I selected items and placed them on my plate.
Finally, I looked over. It was her son. I remembered him from the night I saw them in the restaurant. He was about two inches taller than me. He had brown hair that was cut short and neat. He was wearing a three-piece brown suit that made him appear extremely attractive. He had pretty blue eyes. Contact lenses, I thought. But when I took a closer look, they seemed to be his natural color.
“Hi,” he said nervously. I could see the plate shaking in his hands as he reached for a cracker with cream cheese on top. “I’m Freddy Brumbaugh.” He put his plate down and extended his hand to me. My first instinct was to walk away, but he seemed genuinely interested in introducing himself to me. Besides, he was nervous, and I didn’t think it would be right to be rude to him.
I put my plate down and quickly shook his hand. “Hi,” I said politely. “I’m Richie.”
He let out a nervous giggle. “I know,” he said. “We go to the same school. I’m a year ahead of you.”
I stared at him. I couldn’t remember ever seeing him before, except that night at the restaurant. “I don’t think I’ve seen you around school,” I replied.
“No,” he said nervously. “You probably haven’t. I don’t know a lot of people there. I just started school a month ago when…” Suddenly, he stopped.
I stared angrily at him. I wanted to complete his sentence. “When he moved you into the loft apartment downtown with him.” Instead, I grabbed my plate and walked back upstairs to my room. I expected him to come get me, but he didn’t.
After eating, I lay down on my bed and fell asleep. I hadn’t slept very well since my mother’s death. Andrew had kept coming into my room late at night and crawling into bed with me. I wouldn’t have minded, except he tends to thrash around a lot in his sleep. Just when I’d fall asleep, I would end up with his hand slapping me in my face or his feet kicking me in my side.
I was awakened when my door opened and the light from the hallway flooded my room. I opened my eyes and saw his silhouette in the doorway.
“Be downstairs in five minutes,” he ordered as he slammed the door shut. I looked at the clock. It was after ten in the evening. By now all the guests should have left, so why did he want me downstairs? I considered rolling back over and going to sleep, but I didn’t want to have him come back to my room and drag me downstairs.
When I went downstairs, I looked around but didn’t see anyone. The dinner table had been cleared and it was set with its usually arrangement on top. I could hear voices coming from the family room.
I heard my uncle’s voice first. “Richard, we really don’t mind taking them into our home. It’s what Judith wanted.”
I then heard his deep voice. “They are my children!” he shouted. “They will live with me!”
I walked into the room and saw him sitting in a wingback chair. My sister and brother were crowded together on the sofa with Aunt Barbara and Uncle Raymond. My uncle seemed very upset.
She was sitting in a chair beside him while Freddy was sitting quietly in a chair on the other side of the room. He was holding a sleeping boy that appeared to be about Andrew’s age.
“What’s going on?” I looked over at my uncle.
“Sit down, Richard,” he ordered.
“It’s Richie,” I insisted. I hated him calling me his name.
He looked at me and scowled. “Sit down, Richard!” he hissed angrily. I walked over, picked up Andrew and sat down, placing him in my lap.
He then looked at Uncle Raymond. “As we were discussing, the children are going to live with me.”
“What?” I stood up and shouted. “We’re supposed to live with Uncle Raymond! That’s what Mom wanted.”
“Your mother isn’t here now!” he barked back as he stood before me. “I’m your father and you will live with me.”
“I’m not living with you downtown with them!” I yelled back, looking at her and Freddy. She looked sympathetically at me. Freddy was looking down at his brother. It appeared he would rather be anywhere but in our family room listening to me and my father argue.
He sat back down, crossed his legs and folded his hands in front of him. He then looked over at her and smiled. “We’ll be living here,” he announced. “Together.”
“What!” I looked around the room. Even Freddy seemed to have a surprised look on his face. It was obvious this hadn’t been discussed with him, either.
My aunt stood and stared down at him. “Richard,” she said angrily. “You can’t bring them into this house to live.”
“Why not?” he responded. “It is my house. He walked over and lifted Melinda up from the sofa and wrapped his arms around her. “And the last time I checked, these are my children.”
“But Richard…” my aunt started to speak but he cut her off.
“This isn’t open for discussion,” he replied in his detective voice. “They will live here with me and Linda. And if you try to stop me,” he looked angrily at Aunt Barbara, “You will lose. I’ve already gotten an attorney ready to respond to any challenge.”
“Fuck this!” I screamed. He approached me with his fist balled up, but Uncle Raymond stepped between us. “I’m not living here with you!”
“I’m your father, Richard!” he yelled back. “You will do as I say!”
“You’re not my father!” I screamed as I looked down at her. “Not since you left Mom to go fuck her!”
He reached around my uncle and grabbed my arm. “You insolent child!” he screamed. “Your mother was too soft on you children.”
“Don’t you mention Mom’s name!” My body was shaking with anger. “I hate you!” I started to run from the room. Before leaving I stopped and stared defiantly at him. “I wish it was you who had died!” Tears started falling from my face as I raced up the stairs and slammed my door shut. I could hear my father and uncle still arguing. I went into my bathroom to get some tissue to wipe the tears from my eyes.
I looked into the mirror. My eyes were puffy and red. I looked at my face and saw him looking back. There was no doubt I was his son with my dark black hair and brown eyes. I hated looking like him.
I pulled open a drawer and took out a pair of scissors. A few minutes later my curly, black hair was lying at my feet.
Melinda grabbed her mouth and giggled when I entered the kitchen the next morning. Andrews’s mouth dropped and soon he too was laughing. I walked over to the kitchen island and sat down. Soon, I too was laughing.
The night before it had seemed like a good idea to cut my hair so that I wouldn’t look like him; but after seeing my haircut in the mirror after I got up, I realized I had made a mistake. It looked like someone had taken a weed whacker to my head.
“Why did you do that?” Andrew giggled. “It looks stupid.”
“I don’t know,” I replied as I ran my hand through my hair. “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
I heard someone pounding on the back door. When I turned, Gabe took one look at me and fell to the deck and started laughing. After a minute, he stood up and came walking into the room, holding his sides and laughing uproariously.
“What in the hell happened to you, Richie?” he laughed. “Did you step underneath a helicopter?” Melinda and Andrew started giggling.
“Funny, Asshole,” I replied as I got up and headed to my room.
“Hold up, Rich,” he said as he grabbed my arm. “Go to your room and I’ll be back in a sec.” He turned and hurried to the door. Before leaving, he turned and let out a loud laugh. I flipped him off and then went to my room.
I was at my computer when he returned, carrying a set of clippers. “What are you going to do?” I asked.
“Let’s go to your bathroom,” he said as he pulled me up by my arm. Once inside, he told me to remove my shirt and sit on the toilet. He then took a towel hanging nearby and wrapped it around my shoulders.
I asked worriedly, “What are you going to do?”
“Cut your hair,” he said as he turned on the clippers. I turned and grabbed his hand.
“Do you know how?”
“Yeah, sure,” he replied confidently. “I cut Grover’s hair all the time.”
I stood and shouted, “Grover is your cocker spaniel!”
“Hair is hair,” he replied. He pushed my shoulder. “Now sit back down. If I can cut his hair, I can cut yours.”
“You better not fuck it up.” He looked at me and howled. I tried not to laugh, but soon found myself bursting out in laughter. “I guess you can’t do any worse than I did.”
“Guess not,” he replied as he placed the clippers to my scalp and started to remove what remained of my hair.
When he finished, I stood and looked at myself in the mirror. I ran my hand over the dark stubble. I still had his eyes, but now with my hair gone I didn’t think I looked so much like him.
“What do you think, Dirtwad?” Gabe asked as he ran his big hand over my head. “You never did say why you wanted your hair so short.”
“Don’t know,” I lied as I left the bathroom and sat on the side of my bed.
“What’s up, Rich?” Gabe looked into my face. He could always tell when something was wrong.
“He’s gonna fuck up my life,” I moaned as I lay back on the bed and covered my eyes with my left arm. I was afraid I was going to cry. It wasn’t that I didn’t want Gabe to see my tears. He had seen plenty over the past two years. I just didn’t want to cry because of him. If I did, then I felt he won.
“Him.” I stated.
“Who is him?”
I sat up and faced my friend. “You know, him.” I couldn’t even bring myself to say father.
“You mean your Dad?” I looked at Gabe and frowned.
“He’s not my father,” I replied angrily. “He’s my sperm donor.”
Gabe lay back on the bed and laughed. “Yeah,” he said as he sat up and looked at me. I could tell he was trying hard not to laugh. “And the best part of you dribbled down his left leg.”
It took me a few seconds to realize what he had said. Soon I was laughing with him. “Shut up, Fucker,” I said as I flipped him off.
“So, what’s the matter?” He looked over and gave me a puzzled look. “You said he’s going to fuck up your life.”
I looked at him and frowned. “He’s going to move that bitch in here.”
“You mean his girlfriend.”
“No,” I replied angrily. “I mean his bitch. And that’s not all. Listen to this; he’s moving her kids in here too.”
Gabe wiggled his eyebrows. “Are any of them young and cute?”
“Yeah,” I laughed. “If you like ‘em with a dick.”
“Sorry,” he frowned. “Not my thing.”
‘I know,’ I thought. “Do you know a guy by the name of Freddy Brumbaugh?”
Gabe thought a minute and shook his head. “Is that the kid’s name?”
“Yeah,” I replied. “He’s a year ahead of us. You probably wouldn’t know him. He’s a junior and he just started at our school.”
“Wait a minute,” Gabe said excitedly. “I do know who he is. Does he have brown hair and blue eyes?”
“Yeah,” I said. “Do you know him?”
“I’ve never talked to him,” he replied. “But he’s in my computer science class. He came in about three weeks ago.” He looked at me and whispered, “Rumor is, he’s gay.”
“What!” I shouted.
“Shhh,” Gabe put his finger to his lips. I don’t know why he was being so quiet about this. No one was around to hear us. “I heard Vicki Tipton tried to talk to him.” He started to grin. “You know how big a whore she is.”
“So what happened?” I asked excitedly.
“She cornered him in an aisle in the library and rubbed her tits against him,” he replied. “Now any normal guy would have gotten all hot, but she said he turned all red and flew out of the library. He even left his book bag at the table.”
“That doesn’t mean he’s gay,” I responded. “Maybe he doesn’t like sluts.”
“Don’t know,” he shrugged his shoulders. “When she rubbed her tits against me once, I reached out and felt them.”
“You felt her tits?” I shouted.
“Shhhh,” he said as his face reddened. “Yeah, sure. Wouldn’t you if she put them in your face?” My face reddened as I fought for the right answer. Gabe gave me a puzzled look when I didn’t reply quickly. “You would, wouldn’t you, Richie?”
“Yeah, sure,” I managed to stammer out.
“Good,” he said as he pretended to wipe the sweat from his face. “You had me worried there for a minute, Richie. I was beginning to think you may be like Freddy.”
I was tempted to ask him if he would hate me if I did say I was like Freddy. It was my opportunity to finally come out to my best friend. I knew deep down he wouldn’t hate me, but I couldn’t take that step.
At least not yet.