Brent looked at my cell phone, and then noticed the strained look on my face. “Aren’t you going to answer it, Artie?” I looked into his concerned face, opened the phone and lifted it to my ear.
“Hello?” I spoke nervously.
There was a brief pause, and I could hear my father breathing heavily. I couldn’t tell who was more nervous- him or me.
He asked, “You still there?”
“Yeah, Dad. I’m here.”
“I love you, Son.” Tears welled up in my eyes. Brent noticed and held my free hand. I squeezed it tightly, trying to draw strength from him.
“Me, too.” I could hear him begin to sob. I squeezed Brent’s hand tighter.
After a silent minute, he spoke again. “I’m sorry, Son. I never meant to hurt you, Randy or your mother.” He again began to cry.
“I know, Dad,” I whispered softly into the phone. After all the hours I’d spent thinking about the things I’d scream at him when I first confronted him, all I felt was a deep sadness. Hearing him break down over the phone melted away all the hatred I’d felt earlier.
“Are you all right?” he finally asked. “Since seeing you on the news, I’ve been worried sick about you.”
“I’m fine,” I assured him. “It was just a big misunderstanding.”
“Good.” He paused once again. “How’s Randy?” Again, his voice cracked with emotion.
“He’s doing okay,” I said. “He doesn’t really understand what’s going on.”
“Oh, God.” I heard him again begin to sob. This time I couldn’t hold back the tears either. Brent wrapped his arms around me and held me tightly. Occasionally, he would wipe my tears away with his finger.
I knew the first time I would speak with my father would be difficult, but I didn’t know it would hurt so much. I felt a pain in my chest. I was afraid that my heart was going to burst listening to him cry.
“I’m so sorry,” he mumbled into the phone, and then he hung up. I continued to cry for another minute while Brent held me.
“Are you all right?” I looked at his eyes, moist with tears. It was at that moment I truly fell in love with him. He cared so much for me that he was willing to share the pain I was feeling. I leaned in and gave him a quick, gentle kiss.
“I love you,” I whispered. He fell against me and held me tightly.
“I love you, too,” he mumbled into my chest.
We spent the next hour talking about my feelings for my father. Since he shared a close relationship with his father, he could understand the emptiness I was feeling. He told me he would feel the same why if the same thing had happened to his father. At one point, he encouraged me to call my father back, but he had turned his phone off. I thought about leaving a voice mail, but I didn’t know what I should say. Therefore, I quickly hung up.
We continued talking a few more minutes when my cell phone rang. I thought it might be my father, but it was my mother.
“Do you know what time it is?” she asked. She didn’t seem angry, but there was an irritation in her voice. I looked at the clock and realized it was after midnight.
“I’m sorry, Mom,” I apologized. With everything that had happened, I had neglected to call her and ask if I could spend the night again.
“Are you staying at Brent’s house tonight?” I gave Brent a puzzled look. She was asking me like it was a choice that I could make on my own.
“I’d like to if I can,” I responded.
“Is it all right with his parents?”
“I think so,” I said. I’m not sure if Brent had discussed it with his father or not.
“I’ll call Mr. England.” She quickly hung up. Brent waited about five minutes, then snuck downstairs to see if it was okay for me to spend the night. He came back a minute later and said his father was still on the phone with my mother. We watched television for about ten minutes, before my cell phone rang again.
“Why didn’t you tell me you saw your father tonight?” My mother asked before I even had time to speak.
“I’m sorry,” I replied. “I’ve been trying to deal with it all night.”
“Are you all right?” She seemed very concerned about my feelings. “Would you like me to come get you?”
“I’m really okay,” I assured her. “Mr. England and Brent have been talking to me.”
“Mr. England told me you were very upset,” she said. “Are you sure you’re all right?”
“Yes, Mother.” I considered telling her that Dad had called me, but quickly decided it would probably upset her more. The last thing I wanted her to do was come and get me.
“What time will you be home tomorrow?” Again, it felt strange that she was letting me decide, instead of dictating what I should do.
“Is six o’clock too late?” I asked. I glanced at Brent to make sure it was okay with him for me to stay that long. He grinned and nodded.
“Don’t be too late,” she insisted. “You do have school Monday morning.” She said goodbye and then hung up.
I looked over at Brent. He was sitting patiently, waiting for me to say something. I surprised him when I leaned in and kissed him.
“What was that for?” he asked after I pulled away.
“Just because,” I smiled.
He pulled back the covers and we climbed into bed. Unlike the night before, neither of us thought about sex. We had been through so much that all I wanted him to do was hold me. I lay on my side and he spooned me from behind. He threw his arm around me and held me tightly. I soon fell asleep listening to him snoring gently into my ear.
I woke up the next morning when I felt someone sit on the side of the bed. I groggily woke up, aware that Brent was still wrapped around me. I looked up and saw Jared smiling down at us.
“You guys better get up,” he warned. “It’s after 10:00. Dad just went and got a bucket and filled it with water.” He tousled my hair, and then got up and walked out of the room.
I turned around in the bed, and faced Brent. His eyes were still tightly shut. When I kissed him on his lips, he slowly opened one eye and looked at me.
He whined, “Can’t we sleep a little longer.”
“Jared came in and said your dad just filled a bucket with water, whatever that means.” Brent’s eyes flew open and he sat up quickly.
“Shit!” he exclaimed as he jumped from the bed. “Get up, Artie!” he shouted. “Dad doesn’t play around. He’s soaked me with water over a dozen times when I’ve overslept. He gets Jared almost every other week.”
We had no sooner gotten up and thrown on our shorts, when Brent’s bedroom door flew open. Mr. England entered carrying a small green pail. He started laughing when he saw us quickly dressing.
“Damn it,” he grinned. “Jared must have warned you.” He closed the door and a minute later we heard Jared holler, “Don’t Dad!” Brent and I fell on the bed and roared with laughter.
I felt bad a little later as Brent and I sat at the breakfast counter eating a bowl of cereal. Jared came walking in with his hair still damp from the drenching his father had given him. He had protected us, but in the process, got himself soaked.
He looked at me with an amused look when he entered. I was surprised when he gave me a quick wink. He walked over and made himself a bowl of cereal, and then returned and sat down beside me.
He leaned over and whispered in my ear. “I watch out for Brent. That goes for you too.” He lifted his hand and made a fist. I raised my fist and met his.
Sunday morning breakfast was no different from the pizza we had shared on Friday night. Everyone came dragging into the kitchen, but soon it was filled with lively conversation. Amber was alone when she entered. I guess Linda had gone home sometime last night.
“Do you boys have any plans for today?” Mr. England asked. Brent looked questioningly at me. We had never discussed what we were going to do.
“I don’t know, Dad,” said Brent. “I guess we’ll just hang around the house and watch television.”
“If you don’t have plans,” he looked over at me, “your mother called and she wants you and Brent to spend the day with her. She says it’s up to you.”
I looked over at Brent. He shrugged his shoulders. “Did she say why?”
“She just said she wanted to spend some time with you, Brent and your little brother. If you’re interested, then go call her.” I again looked at Brent and he shrugged his shoulders. He wasn’t being much help.
I really wanted to spend the day alone with him. After seeing my Dad at the mall, our night had been ruined. I was hoping I could make it up to him.
“At least call her and see what she wants to do,” Brent whispered. I got up from the table and went out onto the back patio so I could talk to her without anyone listening. She had seemed all right with me being with Brent last night, and now I was afraid she’d changed her mind. This could be her way of checking up on me.
She answered the phone on the first ring. It was as if she was waiting on my call. “Artie?” I couldn’t believe she had called me by my nickname. It was the first time she had ever used it without hesitation.
“Hi, Mom. Mr. England said you wanted me to call you.”
“If you don’t have any plans for today,” she said, “I thought I’d take you boys somewhere.”
“It’s a surprise.”
“Is Brent invited?”
“Of course, Dear.”
“What time do you want to leave?”
“Can you be ready in a half hour?”
“Yes.” I went back inside and told Brent we’d be leaving soon. He asked me where we were going, but I didn’t know myself. I had experienced some of Mom’s surprises before. It was hard to figure out. It could be as simple as going out for ice cream, or it could involve a trip across two states.
She pulled up to the house, and Brent and I went out to the car. Randy jumped out of the front seat and jumped into my arms. He then looked over at Brent.
“Who are you?” he asked. Brent knelt down and spoke to him.
“I’m Brent England,” he replied. “And your name is Randy, right?”
“Yep,” he said proudly. “I’m Artie’s little brother.”
Randy turned to get into the back seat, but I grabbed his collar and pulled him to the front passenger side. He gave me a puzzled look. This was the first time I had ever let him ride in the front whenever we went somewhere with Mom together.
“I get shotgun?” he asked excitedly.
“Shotgun,” I replied. He quickly jumped into the front seat and buckled up before he thought I might change my mind. My mother looked on with an amused smile.
“Where are we going?” I asked, after we’d pulled off.
“It wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you,” she insisted.
We drove for about an hour when I suddenly realized where we were going. She was taking us to a theme park about a hundred miles away. It had been about three years since we had last been there. Randy was too young to ride any rides. He spent most of the day in a stroller.
He started squealing when he saw the rides from about a mile away. Brent looked at me and gave me a wide grin. I could see his eyes twinkling with excitement. From the things his father and Jared had said about him, I figured it was probably his first visit.
He reached over and squeezed my hand when my mother pulled up to the pay booth.
“I can’t believe she brought us here!” he said excitedly. “Jared has been trying to get me to come with him for years.”
“Why didn’t you?” I asked.
“I’m scared of heights,” he remarked timidly. “I hope I don’t ruin the day for you.”
“Nonsense,” I said as I squeezed his hand tightly. “We’ll just stay low to the ground.” He looked at me and grinned.
After parking, my mother told me that Brent and I would be on our own. She was going to take Randy to ride the children’s rides. He whined at first, saying he didn’t want to ride the ‘baby rides.’ He wanted to go with us and ride the ‘big boy rides.’ He relented when she threatened to make him sit for the afternoon and wait for us.
“It is just after two,” she said looking at her watch. “Why don’t we meet back here at seven? Does that give you boys enough time?” She grabbed my hand and pressed $50 into it. I leaned in and gave her a quick kiss.
“You bet,” I responded. “Come on.” I grabbed Brent’s arm and led him away.
The next few hours were the best I had ever spent in my life. Everything was new to Brent. At first, we rode rides that weren’t too dangerous; but as the day wore on, so did his confidence. We were soon riding the most thrilling rides in the park. I liked it because he held on to me tightly.
He was not kidding about being afraid of heights, though. When I talked him into going on Drop Zone, I was afraid he was going to have a heart attack. I had never seen anyone so scared. When we reached the top, he said he thought he was going to pee his pants. He giggled when I reached down, pinched it, and told him I would help.
After that, we rode some of the water rides. He looked so cute when the water sprayed us and wetted his hair. It seemed weird to think of sex at that moment, but I could only imagine what he’d look like if I ever did take that shower with him.
With the money my mother had given us, we managed to make ourselves sick. There is only so much junk food you can eat while riding on rides that spin and swirl. It is not a good combination.
“I think I’m going to be sick!” exclaimed Brent as he grabbed his stomach after our latest ride. I roared with laughter when he walked over to a trash bin and threw up the peanuts, cotton candy, nachos and soft drinks he’d been consuming all day.
“It’s not funny,” he pouted when he was finished.
“How about some more cheesy nachos?” I asked. I fell to the ground laughing when he rushed back to the trash container and spit up some more food.
“It’s almost six forty-five,” I frowned after looking at my watch. “We’d better go meet Mom.”
“I wish this day would never end,” he remarked sadly. “It’s been one of the best days of my life.”
“Mine too,” I said. I wanted so desperately to kiss him, but there were too many people around. We did manage to touch hands lightly on the way back to the entrance to meet my mom.
Randy was knocked out when we approached. My mother was sitting on a bench, and he was sprawled out beside her with his head on her lap. He was fast asleep.
My mother asked, “Did you boys have fun?”
“I’ve never had a better time in my life,” answered Brent excitedly. “Thank you so much, Mrs. Thomas.”
“I’m glad you enjoyed yourself.” She got up and gave Brent a hug. I leaned down, picked up Randy, and held him in my arms. He groaned slightly, and then threw his arms around my neck and held on tightly as I carried him to the car.
I crawled into the backseat with him and placed his head in my lap. He was so tired that he didn’t even wake up. I felt guilty leaving Brent sitting in the front seat with my mother. After the fun time we had shared, I would have preferred to sit with him and hold his hand all the way back home.
I don’t think that he and my mother stopped talking on the trip home. My mother did most of the talking- about me. In the two-hour drive, I think she had related every embarrassing story about me. He kept turning around and grinning at me. I guess he had enough ammunition on me to last a lifetime. I couldn’t wait until the next time I was invited over to his house. I’m sure an hour with Jared would even up the score.
I was happy, though, that my mother had so willingly accepted Brent. After her initial impression of him, I was worried that she would still find him too feminine. However, she seemed really impressed with him. I had always been a good student and brought home good grades, but they were nothing compared to his. How in the world can someone have a 4.2 GPA? Isn’t that mathematically impossible?
By the time we arrived at his house, they were talking as if they had known each other for years. She even leaned in and kissed him on the cheek before he exited the car. I wanted to see him to his door, so I managed to move Randy from my lap without waking him.
Do you have any idea how awkward it is to walk your boyfriend to his front door when your mother is watching? As we stood under the porch light, Amber pulled a curtain back and peered out the window. She puckered her lips several times and laughed before closing the curtain.
“I’ve really had a great day, Artie,” said Brent. “Thanks for everything.”
“I’m glad,” I replied nervously. I kept looking over at the car to see if my mother was watching us. It surprised me when she suddenly backed out of the drive and drove slowly down the street. A few seconds later, the porch light went out. We were finally standing alone in the dark.
“I guess that’s our cue,” I giggled. I then leaned in and kissed him. He threw his arms around my waist and pulled me into him. We continued to kiss for about a minute before the porch lights started flashing on and off.
“I guess our time is up,” Brent giggled.
“Tell Amber I said thanks,” I replied. I knew she had to have been the one who turned off the lights so we could be in the dark for a minute. He gave me another quick kiss, and then opened the door and went inside.
I walked off the porch, just as my mother came pulling up slowly in front of his house. She was grinning when I got in the car.
“Don’t say anything, please,” I begged. I could tell by the amused look on her face, she wanted to say something to embarrass me.
She giggled and asked, “What in the world would I have to say?” I am glad it was dark outside, because she couldn’t see how bright my face became when she started making kissy sounds.