I sat huddled under the pay phone with a dim light shining on me. I was trembling so bad that my teeth were chattering. I was trying not to cry because there were too many strange people going in and out of the store. If I appeared afraid, they might prey on me.
After about twenty minutes, I saw Bernie’s white Mercedes speeding down the street. I sprang to my feet and rushed out into the street, waving my hands wildly. The car pulled up, and Bernie rushed out of the passenger’s side.
“Oh, my God,” he cried as he pulled me into his chest. All of a sudden, the emotion I had been holding inside came out like a flood. I started crying and trembling as he wrapped his arms tighter around me.
“I..I’m..so ..scared,” I cried. Thomas got out of the car, walked around and rubbed my back. For the first time in twenty four hours, I felt safe.
“Where have you been?” asked Thomas worriedly. “Every cop in this city is looking for you.”
“I’m sorry,” I wailed into Bernie’s chest. He continued to hold me strongly in his arms.
“Let’s get you home,” he said.
“No!” I screamed. “I can’t go home!”
“But your parents are worried sick about you,” said Thomas.
“Then let me leave,” I insisted. “I’ll be all right.” I tried to pull away from Bernie, but he wouldn’t release me.
I couldn’t go home and face my parents after they knew what I had done. They had to know I was gay, and that I had tried to have sex with my drunken friend.
“Get in the car, Taylor.” Bernie said softly. He led me to the car and opened the back door.
“I can’t go home,” I responded adamantly. “I don’t think I can ever go home again.”
“Thomas and I are going to take you home with us,” he said. “After a good night’s sleep, we’ll talk more in the morning.”
He helped me into the back seat and sat down beside me. I buried my head into his chest. His jacket became wet with my tears. Slowly, I began to gain some control over of my emotions. Occasionally, tears would form in my eyes, but I was no longer hysterical. I knew I was safe. We didn’t speak on the way to their home. Thomas would look into the backseat to see if I was all right, but nothing was said. Bernie continued to rub my back, trying to keep me calm.
When we arrived, Bernie helped me out and into the house. It was the first time I had seen their home. It was huge and situated on a golf course. I remembered riding around it a few years earlier with my father as he pointed out the one’s he had contracted. Many of the homes sold were valued over of a million dollars.
Bernie led me to an upstairs bedroom. It contained a king size bed with very elegant furniture. I could have put three of my bedrooms inside it. “Get undressed and take a shower. You stink.” I let a smile creep onto my face when he pinched his nose shut. Soon, we were both laughing.
“Ew,” I said as I lifted my arm and smelled under it.
“I’ll see if we have anything you can wear,” he said as he headed out the door. “I’ll lay it on the bed for when you get out.”
I went into the bathroom and undressed. It had an enormous shower with three shower heads. I turned them on and stepped into the warm spray. I watched the dirt run down my body and into the drain. I must have stayed under the hot water for twenty minutes. I didn’t want to leave. I kept scrubbing at my body, trying to wash away what had happened to me; but I knew it was useless. I had to get out and face the world.
After toweling myself, I went into the bedroom and found a sweat suit, clean socks and a pair of blue boxers lying on the bed. They must have belonged to Thomas because he and I were about the same size. After dressing, I made my way downstairs.
Bernie and Thomas were sitting on stools talking quietly. They both rose when I entered. Bernie led me over to a bar stool while Thomas walked over to the microwave and pulled out a plate of food. He brought it over and set it down in front of me.
I looked down at the plate of pot roast, red potatoes and green beans. Without saying a word, I dug hungrily into the food and began shoveling it into my mouth. I was famished. I hadn’t had a thing to eat since the sandwiches I’d bought at Burger King.
“Slow down, Taylor,” laughed Thomas as he went to the refrigerator and took out a pot and began putting more food on it. He walked over to the microwave and heated it up. Minutes later, I was woofing down another plate of food.
They said nothing to me as I ate. Since both of them were attorneys, I guess they figured it was best to let me start.
“Thanks,” I said, pushing my plate away. I then let out an enormous burp. We began to laugh. “Oops, sorry.”
“Actually,” offered Thomas, “it’s a compliment in some cultures to burp after a good meal.”
I grabbed my stomach and let out another loud burst. “There,” I laughed. “That was a good meal.” Thomas just shook his head as he retrieved the plate and put it in the dishwasher.
There was an awkward silence as they waited for me to say something. Thomas gave Bernie a kiss and told us he was going to bed. I had a feeling he thought I’d open up if only Bernie were there. I looked at the clock and noticed that it was almost one thirty in the morning.
“Did you call my dad?” I asked. I was fingering the design on the marble countertop.
“He knows you’re here and that you are all right,” he replied.
“You didn’t tell him I was filthy and crying like a baby?”
“No,” he simply replied.
I looked up into his eyes. “I fucked up, Bernie.” Tears started to well up in my eyes again.
“You want to tell me about it?”
“What’s to tell?” I cried. “I’m a fag. End of story.”
“Don’t use that word,” he admonished.
“That’s what I am,” I cried. “Fag, fag, fag.” Tears started streaming unashamedly down my face.
He got up from the counter, walked behind me, put his arms around me and whispered gently in my ear, “You’re not a fag. You’re a troubled, gay, young man.”
“I’m a fag,” I continued to cry, “who sucked his best friend’s dick when he was passed out on the bed.”
“We all make mistakes, Taylor,” he tried to reassure me.
“Mistake!” I yelled as I pulled away and stood staring at him in the middle of the kitchen.
“I blew my best friend!” I screamed. “His girlfriend saw me. I don’t think that qualifies as a mistake.”
“All right,” he said. “A big mistake.” He held out his arms and I rushed back into them.
“What do I do now, Bernie?” I cried into his shoulder. “What do I do? I wish I were dead.”
Bernie pushed me back and looked angrily at me. “Don’t you ever say that again! Ok, you fucked up, but you’re going to have to face it. It’s not going to be easy, but wishing your life away isn’t the answer.”
“I’m sorry.” I leaned into him once again. I needed to be held. I’d been through too much, and I needed his strong arms around me. He gently rubbed my back, whispering that everything would be all right.
I started to yawn. When he asked if I was tired, I replied, “Duh.” He started laughing. He turned out the lights and led me back to the bedroom where I had taken a shower.
“Will you be all right in here?” he asked.
“It beats where I slept at last night,” I replied sadly.
“Here, take this.” He handed me a small white pill.
“What’s this?” I asked as he handed me a glass of water.
“An Ambien,” he said. “It will help you sleep.”
He helped me into bed and pulled the covers over me. Before leaving, he leaned in and kissed me on my forehead. I was asleep before he turned out the light.
I awoke groggily from my sleep, realizing that someone had sat down on the bed beside me. I opened my eyes and saw the back of my father’s head. Bernie was standing in the doorway and they were whispering quietly. I rolled away from him, buried my head in the pillow and started crying once again.
“Son.” He grabbed my hand and tried to hold it. I pulled it away from him.
“Don’t, Dad.” I cried. “Just leave me alone. I know you hate me.”
He got off the bed and said angrily. “I want you dressed and downstairs in fifteen minutes.” I listened as he closed the door. I continued to cry several more minutes before I got out of bed and put on the clothes Bernie had provided me.
I slowly trudged downstairs ready to meet my fate. I had no idea what my dad had planned. I figured he would probably send me away to live with another relative. He had a brother in Nebraska I had never met. My mother had several sisters whom I had met a couple of times. I guess one of them would take in a gay, perverted teenager.
When I entered the kitchen, my father and Bernie were talking softly. They stopped when they saw me. I noticed the hurt look on my father’s face when he told me, “Go get in the truck, Taylor. I’ll be there in a minute.”
He emerged from the house ten minutes later. He said nothing as he drove out of the drive and headed down the highway. I looked over at him when he drove past the road that led to our house. I started worrying that he was going to take me directly to the airport or bus station without even getting my things.
We drove through town and headed towards the mountains. I was still confused as to where he was taking me. It didn’t help that he hadn’t said a word to me since we left Bernie’s.
After about an hour, we were deep into the mountains. He pulled onto a dirt road and drove about a mile into a mountainside. When we came to a dead end, he turned off the truck. We got out and I followed him to the back where he took out some hiking gear. He handed me my hiking boots and a backpack.
“Where are we going?” I asked timidly.
“I need to hike,” he said. “I hike when I’m upset.” That was all he said. We put on our boots and backpack, and then I trailed quietly behind him as he headed up a mountain path. I watched the back of his head, trying to understand what he was thinking. I would rather he yell at me than to give me the silent treatment; at least then I would know how he felt.
We had hiked about a mile up the mountain when he finally stopped and sat on a large boulder. I walked hesitantly over and sat down beside him. He reached in his backpack and pulled out a water bottle, taking a long drink. He sat staring out across the beautiful mountainside. The sun was shining brightly and it was warming my face.
I was becoming uneasy with the silence. I wanted him to say something to me- anything. Finally, out of frustration, I spoke. “Are you upset because I’m gay?” I looked over and our eyes met. I could see tears quickly forming in his.
“No, Taylor,” he said quietly. “I’m upset because you didn’t trust me enough to tell me.”
“I’m sorry.” I reached out and threw my arms around him. He grabbed me and pulled me tightly into him. “I was too scared. I was afraid you wouldn’t love me anymore.” Both of us started sobbing uncontrollably. I melted into my father and felt the love he had for me. It had always been there, and it was still there. I was no longer afraid.
“God, Taylor,” he cried, “I was so scared that something had happened to you. I don’t think I could face a day without you.” He clutched me tighter as we both continued to cry.
“You don’t care that I’m gay?” I asked when I could finally speak.
“No,” he said. “Your mother and I have known for a while. We were waiting for you to tell us. I’ve given you several opportunities to open up to us.” I then remembered all the times he had mentioned gay couples or made a comment about there being nothing wrong with being gay. I realized how blind I had been.
We stopped crying and broke our embrace. He smiled at me and rubbed the tears from my face. “I know I don’t say it often, Taylor, but I love you.”
“I love you too, Dad.” We hugged again.
“You want to tell me what happened?” he asked. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”
“No,” I said. “I’ll tell you.”
After everything we’d just been through, I knew my father would love me no matter what I had done. I told him about the party and how I had consumed a lot of alcohol. He frowned, but he didn’t say anything. I then told him how I had cleaned up Jason and attempted to have sex with him before Stephanie and Cynthia walked in. I then described what had happened after I left Chris’s house until I called Bernie.
“What a mess,” he exclaimed after I was done.
“What am I going to do?” I asked. “I can’t go back to school. By tomorrow, everyone will know what happened.” I knew that by lunch, Stephanie would have told anyone who would listen. The entire school would know I was gay by the end of the day.
“You’re going to have to face this, Taylor,” he commented. “You can’t run away from it.”
“But everyone will know I’m gay,” I said sadly.
“And if they can’t deal with it,” he said, “then that’s their problem.”
“That’s easy for you to say.” I was becoming increasingly upset. “You won’t be the one they call a fag.”
“It’s not going to be easy, Taylor.” He took my arm and turned me so I was looking at him. “But I’ll be here, and your mother. We’ll be with you when things are hard. You just have to trust us.”
“Thanks, Dad.” I leaned in and hugged him once again.
“There are other people who will help you too,” he assured me. “Cynthia spent the entire day with us yesterday. She’s worried sick about you. And Mrs. Mason called several times. You know you can depend on Bernie and Thomas.”
“I know,” I replied. Besides my father and mother, I felt very close to Bernie. I had really bonded with him the night before. I felt he was someone I could trust completely.
He looked at me and raised and eyebrow. “Who is Chris?”
“Why?” I gave him a questioning look. I had already explained that it was his party where everything had happened.
“He has called the house about twenty times asking about you,” he grinned.
“His name is Chris Brewster,” I told him. “You know his father, John Brewster.”
“John!” he exclaimed. “You’re talking about little Chris?”
“He’s not so little anymore,” I laughed.
“So you’re friends with Chris Brewster?” he stated. “I’ve known his father since our college days. I remember the day Chris was born.”
“I don‘t really know him,” I responded. “I only got to know him yesterday. We’ve never talked much.”
“Well, I think he’s more of a friend than you think,” my father said. “He was hysterical that you were missing. I think he drove his car around all day yesterday looking for you. He kept calling about every half hour to see if you showed up at the house.”
“Wow.” I didn’t know how to reply to what my father had said. I couldn’t understand why Chris had taken such an interest in me. He was one of the people who I assumed would be angry at me.
“Did Jason call?” I already knew the answer, but I had to ask.
“No, Son,” he said sadly, “He didn’t. I guess I should tell you now,” he said worriedly. “You’ll find out later anyway.”
“What?” I didn’t like the tone of his voice.
“Stephanie called,” he informed me “She’s made a few threats.”
“Yeah,” he grinned. “Something about your balls on a platter.”
“God, I hate that bitch,” I said angrily.
“Language, Young Man,” my father chastised me.
“Sorry, Dad,” I laughed. “I didn’t mean to say God.” We both broke out in laughter.
He rose, put out his hand and pulled me to my feet. We continued to hike for the next two hours. We’d stop occasionally for a drink, but we didn’t mention anything about what had happened. It was like all the other times we had hiked together. Only this time he knew I was gay, and he was all right with it.
He let me drive his Escalade home. We stopped at a steak house and I wolfed down another meal. He laughed when I ordered a second piece of pecan pie.
My mother almost suffocated me with hugs when I walked through the door. Again, a lot of tears were shed. Like my father, she reassured me that she loved me and would support me in any way she could.
I felt guilty for not having trusted my parents. They had never given me any indication that they would turn away from me if I were gay. I felt like I didn’t deserve such wonderful parents. I was, however, glad that I had them in my life.
The rest of the day was filled with people coming by to comfort me. Cynthia was the first to arrive. She hugged me and gave me a kiss on the mouth. Some things, I guess, never change. She was one of the people whose love I never questioned. I sometimes wished that I were straight, so I could give her the love she deserved. She really was very special.
I was lying on my bed watching the Sunday night football game when the phone rang. My father hollered up the stairs and told me it was for me.
“God! Are you all right? I’ve been worried sick.” The young voice said.
“Who is this?” I didn’t recognize the voice.