Chapter 23

There was a lot of tension at breakfast. When I entered the kitchen, Mom was sitting at the counter drinking coffee. She didn’t even look up at me. I attempted to speak. “Good morning, Mom.” She didn’t look at me or reply. I knew she was still upset about our angry exchange the night before.

I muttered softly as I reached into the refrigerator to get the milk, “I guess you are punishing me.”

She scowled at me and responded angrily, “Who me? The mother you hate so much?”

“Who me?” I answered angrily. “The son you’ve hated all my life.”

She stood and pointed at the counter chair. “Sit down, Seth,” she ordered angrily. I started to walk out, but she stepped in front of me. “I said sit down!” she ordered again. I considered pushing her out of the way, but I knew it would probably end with me going to jail. Reluctantly, I sat down.

She sat across the counter and stared defiantly at me. “I’m trying, Seth.” She reached for my hand, but I pulled it away. “I guess you have every right to hate me.” I looked over and tears were filling her eyes. “I haven’t been the best mother.”

I fought back tears as I asked, “But why do you hate me?”

She rose and took a paper towel from the roll and wiped the tears from her eyes. She then sat back down across from me. “I don’t hate you,” she replied. “You’re my son.”

“You’ve never treated me like a son,” I replied tearfully. “It’s always been you and Stacy. I’ve always felt like I was just in the way.”

“It hasn’t been like that,” she argued defiantly.

“Yes, it has, Mom,” I replied. “You listen to Stacy about everything. She gets whatever she wants. Can’t you see how she is?”

“It’s not her fault,” she replied as she wiped more tears from her eyes.

“Stacy is spoiled rotten,” I said angrily. “You let her get away with murder. You believe everything she tells you. You always have.”

She replied, “You don’t understand, Seth.”

“Then help me understand,” I challenged her. “You and Stacy have made my life a living hell living here.”

She reached out to hold my hand, but I pulled it away. She rose and started pacing around the room. Occasionally, she would stop and look down at me. Just then, I heard a car horn outside. Mom walked over, looked out the window and then walked over and hollered down the hallway. “Stacy! Maggie and her brother are here.”

A few seconds later, Stacy entered the kitchen carrying her bookbag. She gave me an angry look, and then she went over and kissed my mother on the cheek. She slammed the door shut on her way out. My mother turned and said, “Maggie’s brother is taking them to school in the morning.” Jeff, Maggie’s brother, is a senior. He’s not very popular, and he rarely talks to anyone. Sometimes I wonder if he’s being treated the same way at home as I am.

I rose and said, “I better get to school.”

“No,” responded my mother. “Please sit down.” Reluctantly, I sat back in my chair. I watched as Mom paced nervously around the room. She then stopped and stared down at me. She sighed deeply and said, “I was hoping that we would never have this talk.”

I gave her a skeptical look and asked, “About what?”

“Stacy,” she replied as tears welled up in her eyes. “You see, Stacy had a very hard birth.”

“But we’re twins,” I said. “Did I have a hard birth too?”

“No, Dear,” she said. “You didn’t.” She looked sadly at me as tears flowed down her cheeks. “When you were born, Stacy was the first to arrive. However, there were complications.” I remained quiet while she dabbed her eyes with the tissue. “When she came out, she was blue. Your umbilical cord had tangled around her neck and was strangling her. The doctors said it damaged her brain.” I watched as my mother broke down and started sobbing. “No one knew about this except me and your father. Doctors said she might never have a normal life.” She rose, went over to the sink and splashed water on her face.

She sat down and asked, “Do you remember when you started school?” I nodded my head. “Do you remember that you and Stacy went to different schools?” Again, I nodded my head. I never understood why that happened. As a five-year-old, I wanted my sister to be with me.

“Stacy went to a special school,” she said. “They worked with her for a year trying to get her to a level that most children your age were at. They were fairly successful, but they still thought that she would have difficulties the rest of her life. You see, Stacy doesn’t react normally to situations like you and I would.”

“I don’t understand,” I responded.

“Stacy doesn’t see things in black and white,” she said. “She doesn’t process things like you and I would. So sometimes when you think I’m siding with her, I’m actually trying to deescalate a problem.”

“Don’t you think that is unfair to me?” I asked angrily.

She began to cry again. “Yes, of course,” she replied. “I only do what I think is best for Stacy. I’m trying to protect her.”

I then asked a question I had always wanted to ask. “Is that why Dad left?” She rose, walked over to the kitchen sink, broke down and cried.

“We fought all the time,” she cried. “He felt the same way you do. He thought I was giving Stacy too much attention and that I hated him too. One day, he just packed up and left.”

“Why didn’t he visit us,” I asked as tears filled my eyes. Even though I was young when he left, I still missed him at the time.

“You’ll hate me more,” she cried. “I wouldn’t let him. I was afraid he would try and take Stacy from me.” She started crying louder. “I just wanted to protect her!”

I rose and grabbed my bookbag beside me on the floor. “I’m going to be late for school,” I said as I headed for the door. I didn’t want to continue hearing what my mother had to say. She could rationalize her behavior all she wanted, but she was wrong for the way she treated me and my father. She may have been trying to protect Stacy, but she had harmed her more by protecting her than getting her professional help. By doing so, she had ruined three lives.

“Seth!” she cried out. I turned and she said tearfully, “I’ve never hated you.”

“Goodbye, Mother,” I replied as I closed the door. By the time I reached my car, tears were falling down my cheeks.

I was filled with rage on the way to school. I couldn’t believe what my mother had confessed. In one conversation, she ruined my life. I don’t know if we will ever be able to reconcile. When I said I hated her yesterday, I said it in anger. Now, I really feel deep contempt for her. She intentionally treated me badly to protect Stacy, as she said several times. Never did she consider how it affected me. I grew up thinking I did something wrong. At times, I even felt I was the reason my father had left home since he never tried to contact me.

And what has she done to my sister by not getting her professional help? I think she thought that doctors might take her away. She even let my father leave to protect Stacy. And what about Craig? Why did Mom let her date him knowing what Stacy was like? If she was trying to protect Stacy, why would she leave her alone for so long with a boy? She must have known that they would have sex. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Was she just using Craig? Maybe she suspected he was gay, and he wouldn’t have any sexual interest in Stacy. It would serve her right that Craig fell in love with me. Now, she must suffer the consequences of her actions.

My mind was a mass of confusion by the time I arrived at school. There was a bright spot that took away some of the chaos. Ty was waiting outside the entrance door with a wide grin on his face. “Hey,” he said as he looked around. “I’m glad you came to school today.” He looked around again and leaned toward me and whispered, “I wish I could kiss you right now.”

My face reddened as I replied with a smile, “I wish you could too.”

Just then, Craig approached from behind laughing. “God,” he said. “You two need to get a room and fuck for an hour.” Ty’s face turned a bright red. Craig elbowed me and added, “I get to watch.”

Ty grabbed my arm and led me inside, “Come on,” he said as he pulled me down the hall.

Craig rushed up beside him and stopped him. “I’m just teasing you, Ty.” He looked at both of us and smiled. “You two make a cute couple. It’s all good.” He laughed as we continued to walk down the hallway towards the cafeteria.

Entering the cafeteria was more difficult than I thought it would be. As soon as we walked in, the room became silent. Students watched us intently as we made our way over to the table where Jennifer and Sherman were sitting. It would be my first day back at school, and I wasn’t sure how they would react. They looked up nervously at us and said hello. Sherman gave us a timid wave with his hand as he looked around to see if anyone was watching.

As soon as we sat down, Roni rushed over to the table to sit beside Craig. We sat nervously looking at each other. No one knew what to say. I could hear students talking about us, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. Jennifer tried to break the tension by talking about an assignment we had in literature, but everyone ignored her.

My heart stopped when Mr. Montgomery, the school’s principal, entered and looked around. When he spotted us, he walked our way. He stood over us and said, “Seth and Craig. I want to see you in my office immediately.” He turned and walked away. Craig and I looked nervously at each other. Reluctantly, we rose and started to follow him from the cafeteria. I heard Stacy and Maggie laughing uproariously off to my left. I wanted to say something, but I didn’t. I don’t know what Mr. Montgomery wanted, but I didn’t want to add anything more.

When we reached the office, Mr. Montgomery was waiting for us. He pointed to his office and said, “This way, Boys.” I looked down the hall and saw several students watching us. They were probably hoping we would be suspended.

Mr. Montgomery closed the door and told us to sit in two seats facing his desk. He sat down and folded his hands. “I have to be careful what I say here,” he said. “This is not a punishment hearing, and no parents are involved.” He paused and stared intently at us. I wanted to crawl under the table.

“What happened Saturday was not a school function,” he said. I glanced quickly at Craig. My face reddened because I was embarrassed that Mr. Montgomery had found out what occurred. “However, I’m sure there will be repercussions from it here at school. “Craig.” Craig jumped when he said his name. “You’re a star running back for the school, so I’m sure that I will have to deal with some issues concerning your behavior Saturday night.”

He leaned forward and said, “I’m not going to ask you boys any personal questions. However, rumors are rumors, and I have to deal with them. I asked to see you because I want you to know that I want you to come to see me personally if you have any problems with either students or staff members. I don’t want anything to escalate into a serious situation. I’m also asking you boys to ignore anything said to you. I know that won’t be easy, but you know that it is to be expected. Don’t fight anyone. The last thing I want to do is suspend one or both of you for fighting. Do you understand?”

I looked at Craig, and we nodded our heads. “Mr. Montgomery,” said Craig. “I won’t be playing football anymore. I’m going to ask Coach Abernathy to cut me from the team.”

Mr. Montgomery shook his head. “Don’t act too quickly, Craig,” he warned. “Give it a few days. You’re a valuable member of our team, and perhaps your teammates will react better than you expect.”

It surprised me when Craig said, “They won’t want to play with a gay teammate.”

Mr. Montgomery replied, “You might be surprised. I’ve already spoken to Coach Abernathy about the situation.” He stood and walked around the desk. We stood and faced him. “Remember what I said, Boys,” he commented as he patted us on the shoulders. “Deescalate, don’t escalate.” We followed him from the office as he walked over to his secretary and told her to write us a pass to our first period class.

I was surprised that the morning went better than expected. No one said anything when I entered. Mr. Stevenson gave me a nervous smile and told me to have a seat. I sat next to Roni. We didn’t speak, but I noticed her staring at me several times.

When I went to second period, Ty was waiting outside the door for me. When we sat down, he pulled his seat a little nearer to mine. We smiled and giggled at each other all period. When class was over, he walked me to my third period class and then rushed off to his.

I heard a few comments in the classes, mainly by boys, but they weren’t threatening. Most students seemed amused that Craig and I had been caught by my sister. I heard them mention pool noodle a few times, and then they would break out into a laugh. A couple of students who had been at the party gave me a dirty look. I guess they felt that I was the reason for them getting detained Saturday night.

As I was heading to the cafeteria for lunch, I jumped when someone walked up beside me and grabbed my arm. I was afraid I was going to get hit. Instead, it was Amber. She had a worried look on her face.

“Seth,” she asked excitedly, “Have you seen Blake?”

“No,” I replied. “Not since his parents took him from my aunt’s house Saturday.”

She gripped my arm and pulled me to a closed doorway. She looked around before saying, “He’s ran away again.” She began to cry. “No one knows where he is.”

I was afraid this would happen. I knew Blake would never stay with his parents. He hated them. I asked Amber, “What happened?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “His father called Mom last night. She said he sounded really angry.” She hugged me tightly. “If he gets in contact with you, tell him to call my Mom. She promised me she won’t call my uncle.” She kissed me on my cheek and walked away.

I was worried about Blake. I wanted to leave school and try to find him. He might be at the warehouse. Although this time, he may have left town. Either that, or, he might have hurt himself. I didn’t want to think of what had happened. I just hoped that he would contact Uncle Steve or Mr. Ellis.

When I sat down beside Ty and Craig, I leaned over and whispered to Craig that Blake might be in trouble. He looked extremely upset. “We gotta do something,” he said worriedly.

“What’s wrong?” asked Ty. I told him I would tell him later.

Craig rose from the table and headed out of the cafeteria. He stopped when he noticed Mr. Montgomery standing there with his arms folded watching students eat. “Over there,” Craig said as he pointed to a table. We walked over and sat down. “What’s happened to Blake?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Amber stopped me a few minutes ago, and she said his father said he ran away again.”

“Shit!” hissed Craig.

Just then, Ty walked up and sat down. “What’s happened, Guys?” I looked over at Craig.

Craig asked, “How much does he know?”

“A lot,” I informed him. He had already figured out that I liked Ty. He probably knew that I had told him about him and Blake.

He nodded and told me to tell him. I gave Ty the short version of what was happening. The bell was getting ready to ring shortly, and Craig and I needed to decide what we had to do. We agreed to meet after school and see if we could find Blake. We would check out the warehouse first.

Ty begged, “Can I go with you?” I looked at Craig, and he shrugged his shoulders.

“Meet me at my car after school,” I said. “We’ll follow Craig home to leave his car, and we can ride around together.” Craig thought that was a good idea. At least we would be together if we did find Blake.

I was worried the rest of the afternoon. I kept checking my phone in case Blake tried to contact me. I had it silenced so it wouldn’t ring. If it did, a teacher would confiscate it from me. I was in enough trouble. I didn’t need to add more troubles.

Craig, Ty and I are in the same geometry class fifth period. There was a test scheduled. Craig tried to talk the teacher out of taking it since we hadn’t been in class. However, Mrs. Yarborrow said that was our problem. We should have attended. I wasn’t sure if she was aware of what had happened, and it was her way of punishing us.

I was glad when the final bell rang. We had made it through the day without any serious problems other than a few crude comments and giggles. When we met at my car, I asked Craig if he should be at practice.

“Fuck football,” he replied. “We gotta find Blake.” Ty and I followed Craig to his home. He asked if we wanted to come in for a minute, but I was in a hurry to see if Blake was at the warehouse. Craig ran in and changed clothes while Ty and I sat in my car.

Ty reached over and gripped my hand. “Are you okay?” he asked worriedly.

Tears welled up in my eyes. “I’m so scared,” I admitted. “I’m afraid that Blake could be dead.”

“He’ll be alright,” he replied. He squeezed my hand tighter. When I started crying, he pulled me into his chest and rubbed my back. For the first time all day, I felt safe.

Craig ran out to the car and jumped in. He asked Ty if I was okay. Ty assured him I was. After a quick kiss on my cheek, I sat up and drove away. Craig kept talking about how worried he was. Several times I had to wipe tears from my eyes.

We arrived at the warehouse, and I parked in the back behind a dumpster. When we got out, Craig walked over and looked inside. I think he was afraid that he might find Blake’s body inside. Ty asked why we were here, but we both ignored him.

The outside door creaked when we opened it. I gave Craig a worried look when we noticed some blood on it. “Fuck!” hissed Craig. He ran to the room where Blake called his home. He pushed the door open and rushed in. “Blake!” he called out as he ran around. Blake was nowhere. We stopped suddenly when we came to the makeshift bed. The top blanket was soaked in blood.

“Blake!” I screamed out as I looked into some closets in the room. Ty and Craig ran around knocking over boxes looking for Blake’s body.

“He’s been here,” cried Craig. “There’s blood everywhere.” I fell to my knees and started crying hysterically. Ty tried to comfort me, but I was past the point of being consoled. Blake was hurt, and we didn’t know where he was. I stood and began running around the room hollering out his name. We rushed into the hall and began searching some of the other rooms. I stopped when I thought I heard a low moan coming from one of the smaller rooms.

“Over here, Guys!” I hollered out. I entered what appeared to have once been an office. There were two rusted metals desks and a couple of filing cabinets inside. I told Craig and Ty to remain quiet while we listened for any kind of noise. We then heard another low moan coming from under one of the desks. Ty rushed over and fell to his knees.

“Oh, God!” he cried out. Craig and I rushed over to where he was. He was pulling Blake’s limp body from under the desk. I gagged when I saw him. His face was bleeding and bruised. Ty’s shirt was soaked with blood where he was cradling him in his arms. Craig and I fell to our knees and began crying as he touched Blake and hollered out his name.

“We’ve got to get him help,” said Ty urgently. “I’m afraid he’s going to die.” He continued to cradle Blake in his arms and rock him. Blake appeared unconscious. I thought he was already dead, but Ty assured me Blake still had a pulse. Ty told me to call 9-1-1. I couldn’t get reception, so I hurried outside, hoping I could get a signal.

“What is your emergency?” asked the person on the phone. I explained the situation, but I had no idea what the address was. I looked around and described it as best as I could. Finally, the woman said she thought she knew where I was. She told me that help was on the way. I ran back inside to see if Blake was still alive. I cried for several minutes before going back outside and waiting for the ambulance to arrive. When I exited, there were two police cars with their lights flashing. I told them to follow me, and I showed them the room where Blake was. I then ran back outside to wait for the ambulance. It showed up minutes later. They removed the gurney, and I told them to hurry as they followed me inside.

The next few minutes were chaotic. They made Ty, Craig and I stand off to the side while they tended to Blake. His body was limp, and he didn’t respond to anything they were doing. They cut off his blood-stained clothes. His face was damaged so badly that we couldn’t recognize it was him. He also had bruises on his arms and back. One of the officers walked over and began interrogating us. We were so emotional that we couldn’t answer his questions. Fortunately, Ty kept a level head and could answer some of them.

We rushed over to the gurney when they put Blake’s limp body on it and covered him with a sheet. I tried to lean down and hold him, but one of the medics gently pushed me back and warned me that I could hurt him more. We cried uncontrollably as they took his body out. We couldn’t leave because the two officers wanted more information on what we knew. We provided him with Blake’s name and ours.

When they asked if we knew who might have done this to Blake, I spat out angrily, “His father!” A few minutes later, they gave us permission to leave.

When we got to my car, we stopped and hugged each other. Ty was covered in blood, and it got on us, but I didn’t care. Craig said, “We have to get to the hospital.”

“Wait,” I said. “I’m going to make a phone call.”

It rang three times before someone answered. I shouted into the phone. “Mr. Ellis! Blake has been hurt bad! They’re taking him to the hospital!”

We jumped into my car and raced to the hospital. I kept praying that we wouldn’t be too late.


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