|Copyright ©2013 by Ronyx
All Rights Reserved
I didn’t get a lot of sleep. The storm raged on all night. It’s a little after six, and it’s still raining. The
lightning and thunder ended about an hour ago.
I’m a light sleeper anyway. Most teens my age can sleep all day. If I get five hours, then I consider it a
good night. My mother said I’ve been like that all my life. Even when I was a baby, I would only sleep a
few hours before I was up and playing again. She said it wasn’t unusual for her to get up at five in the
morning to find me playing quietly in my room with my toys.
Since I was up, I decided to make breakfast for my mother before she left for school. I wasn’t doing it out
of guilt for getting in trouble. I just like to cook. In fact, I cook most of the meals around here. If I had to
depend on Mom, then I would probably weigh about twenty pounds less than my 160 pounds.
French toast is my favorite breakfast. Mom isn’t really fond of it, so I guess that’s why I make it about four
times a week. She doesn’t complain because it’s better than having to get up and fix something herself
before she heads off to school. I always make sure I smother it in syrup. I love watching her trying to
scrape it off the top of the toast. She complained last year, and I quit making breakfast for about two
months. Since then, she eats what I put on the table without saying anything.
I didn’t turn when I heard her enter the kitchen, walk over to the coffee maker and pour a cup of coffee.
When she sat down, I poured extra syrup on her French toast and placed it before her. She stared at it, but
didn’t say anything. I laughed to myself as I watched her take a spoon and try to scrape off the remaining
syrup that hadn’t soaked the toast.
I stood at the counter and ate. We rarely ever sit down and eat a meal together. The only time we do is if
we go to a restaurant for dinner. It is always somewhere she wants to eat. She rarely asks me where I
want to go except on my birthday. I always suggest a Mexican restaurant because I know it is her least
favorite place to dine. She complains that the food is too bland, and she hates the beans that are served
with every meal.
“I’ve been giving it some thought,” she spoke breaking the eerie silence. As usual, I didn’t speak. She was
going to say what was on her mind whether I wanted to listen or not. I took a final bite of my toast and
began to wash my plate.
She asked harshly, “Are you listening to me, Casey?” She grumbled when I threw up my left hand and
She took a deep breath, and then said the words that would change my life, “This just isn’t working out.”
I continued to wash dishes as I asked, “What isn’t working out?”
“Me and you,” she replied. “I just don’t know what to do with you anymore.”
I shut off the faucet and looked down at her. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
She took a sip of coffee and replied, “I called your father last night.”
I bristled at the mention of his name. She knew I hated him for leaving me without a warning. I couldn’t
understand why she was talking about him now.
I looked at her skeptically and asked, “And?”
She replied, “I’m sending you to live with him.”
I wanted to remain calm because I knew she was doing this to pay me back for what I had done at school.
A mere suspension from school wouldn’t mean anything to me. She must have spent most of the evening
deciding how she could win this battle. Shipping me off to my father would crown her the champion.
I lost my cool and hollered, “You can’t do this to me!”
She rose and stood before me. Since I was about a half foot taller than she was, she had to look up. “Stop
yelling at me like some brat,” she admonished me angrily. “I’m your mother, and you’ll do what I tell you
“Well,” I hollered. “I won’t do it. I’ll run away before I go live with him.”
“It’s already done,” she informed me. “We talked for over an hour last night. You’ll be leaving next week.”
I towered over her and said threateningly, “And if I don’t?” She didn’t move. She wasn’t afraid of me, and I
knew it. She had battled many students much larger than me- and won.
“You will,” she said authoritatively. She then sat down and took a sip of coffee. “You’re only sixteen. When
you turn eighteen, then you can make your own decisions. Until then, you’ll do as I say.”
I looked down at her and glared. “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”
She lifted her head and looked sadly at me. “No, Casey, I’m not.” Tears formed in her eyes. “This is the
third time this year you’ve been suspended from school.” She took a napkin from the table and daubed at
her eyes. “I can’t get through to you anymore.”
“Fuck you,” I spat. “You never tried to get through to me.”
She rose and faced me. Her sympathetic look had changed to one of anger. “Don’t you use that kind of
language in front of me.”
I started to laugh. “So you think you’ve won, don’t you?”
“What do you mean?”
I replied, “You’ve hated me for two years. I wondered how long it would take you to finally do something.”
She stated adamantly, “You being queer has nothing to do with this.”
“Fine!” I shouted. I then took the edge of the table and turned it over. Her breakfast plate crashed to the
ground. “I’ll be happy to get out of your fucking house!”
I turned and rushed from the room as she hollered out my name.
* * * * * * *
I was in my room listening to my Ipod. I’m into alternative music mainly because my mother hates it. And
rap- she hates it, too. So those are the two genres I play on my stereo late at night.
It was late, and I didn’t make dinner. I wasn’t hungry, so why should I make her dinner? In fact, from now
on, she’s making her own meals. I still don’t know if she was serious this morning about sending me off to
my father. However, she’s not one to make idle threats. As a teacher, she usually says what she means. I’
ve seen many teachers eaten alive when they made threats they couldn’t enforce. So when she says
something, it would take the gods in heaven to change it.
If she does force me to go, then I’ve determined to make my father’s life so wretched, he’ll regret agreeing
to my mother’s demands. I still don’t know what I’ve done that would warrant this. Okay, so I’ve been
suspended three times, but it’s not like I’ve committed some kind of crime.
I’m not a bad kid. I get in trouble at school, but what kid doesn’t from time to time? I just hate being
pushed to my limit. I guess it is some kind of a reaction because I’ve had to deal with my mother’s attitude
for the past few years. Like yesterday. Mrs. Walker didn’t have to berate me in front of the other students.
I called her a bitch because she is one. She and my mother are like two peas in a pod.
I don’t even know where my old man lives. I don’t know anything about him since he left six years ago.
Mom never talks about him. When he left, he was a salesman for a plastics company. The letters he sends
to me have no return address, but they are postmarked from Asheville, North Carolina. So I guess that’s
where he lives now.
I googled the place, and it’s really beautiful. It’s rather mountainous, not like the flatlands around here.
Beautiful or not, I still don’t want to go. All day I’ve been deciding if I really want to run away. Like my
mother, I don’t make idle threats, either. I wonder if she’s afraid I just might take off and disappear. I
doubt it. At this point, I don’t think she really cares what I do as long as she doesn’t have to look at my
I still can’t believe she called me a queer. She might as well have taken a brick and smashed it in my face.
That’s how bad it hurt. But I’ll never give her the satisfaction of knowing it did. She must have been
harboring some deep hatred to come out with a statement like that. Queer? Who even uses that word
anymore? You being queer. That’s how she said it. Not gay. Queer. She said it as if I’m some kind of a
I don’t even want to stay here anymore. I’ve tolerated her as long as I can. I thought I could make it for
two more years, but now I know I can’t. The sight of her makes me sick. It’s probably how she has looked
at me for the past two years.
I wonder if she’s told Dad? I wonder if he knows all about his ‘queer’ son. Probably not. She probably is too
afraid he won’t take me in if he knows his son is come kind of a degenerate. It doesn’t matter because I
don’t plan to go to North Carolina anyway.
The only problem I have is that I have nowhere to go. I have other family members, but they are
scattered all over the country. After Mom and Dad got divorced, she cut off ties with his family. I would feel
stupid showing up on their doorstep with a backpack.
My grandparents, her mother and father, live like a thousand miles away. I’ve seen them once in the past
five years, and that was only briefly as they were passing through. They have a cool motor home, and they
spend a lot of time on the road. I’m sure they wouldn’t want a teenager tagging along.
Besides, there is school. I couldn’t travel around the country in a motor home and not go to school. They
would also never let me drop out to do that. I know they share Mom’s view of the importance of an
So I guess I’m left with one option- just pack my backpack and hit the road. I’ve got a little money saved.
I’m going to the Greyhound Bus station in a couple of days and just buy a ticket to the furthest place I
have money for. I checked this afternoon, and I have enough money to buy a one-way ticket to San
Francisco. I could probably walk Castro Street and meet some guy who may give me a place to stay. I
read somewhere that is where many of the gays live. I’m not going to sell my body. I have too much
dignity about myself to do that. But I could live temporarily with someone, at least until I can get on my
feet. I know I’ll have to do things I don’t particularly want to do, but at least it’s better than moving to
North Carolina with a father who deserted me when I was a kid too young to understand.
I pulled out the earplugs to my Ipod when the door opened slightly. I thought it was my mother. I was
going to get upset with her because she wasn’t respecting my privacy. We had an understanding that she
would never enter my room without permission.
As the door opened further, I could see Terry standing sheepishly in the hallway. He asked nervously, “Can
I come in? If you’re busy, I can come back another time.”
I laid the Ipod aside and said, “Sure, come on in.” After he was in, I told him to, “Shut the door.” He gave
me a puzzled look as he closed the door and walked over to the bed.
“Sit down,” I said as I patted the side of the bed.
He gave me another puzzled look. “You sure?”
We never sat together. Usually when he came to my room, the door remained opened, and he sat on the
chair at my computer desk while I sat on the bed. He cautiously walked over and sat down.
I then said, “Kick off you shoes. Get comfortable.” He eyed me suspiciously as he toed off his shoes and sat
back on the bed beside me.
I felt guilty because I knew what I was about to do. I was going to use Terry. If I was going to San
Francisco to find someone to live with, then I needed experience. It had been two years since I did
something with Rollie. We were both young, and we didn’t know what we were doing. If I expected a guy
to take care of me, then I needed to know how to take care of him.
We sat quietly for a few awkward minutes. Terry kept looking around the room, and I could hear him
breathing heavily. I put my hand on his bare thigh and asked, “Do you want to mess around?”
He looked at my hand rubbing up and down his thigh, and then he looked into my face. He asked, “Are you
serious?” He seemed much younger than fifteen. His smooth boyish face had only a few traces of hair. He
was much smaller than me, and I thought that this would probably be his first sexual experience.
“Very,” I replied as my hand moved to his crotch. He was already semi-hard. Cautiously, he let his hand
touch my erection. He let out a slight gasp as he put his hand around it and squeezed it.
When he leaned in to kiss me, I pulled away. “No kissing,” I said. “You can do anything else, but no
kissing.” He nodded his head as he reached into my sweat pants and wrapped his hand around my erection.
Later, after he left, I thought I’d feel bad, but I didn’t. He was a very willing partner, and we did things that
Rollie and I never considered. I kept hoping my mother would barge into my room and find us naked on
After he dressed and was standing at the door, I pushed his long brown hair off his forehead, and I leaned
in and kissed him gently on his cheek. “Thanks, Terry,” I said as he put his fingers to his cheek and looked
into my eyes.
“Okay,” he replied nervously as he fumbled for the door. “Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said as he left
I watched Terry walk down the hall without telling him that there would not be a tomorrow for us.
* * * * * * *
I got out of bed before Mom and grabbed the backpack I had prepared the night before after Terry left. I
didn’t want to take too much because I didn’t want to be burdened down with cumbersome baggage. I had
packed enough clothes for three days. I could always wash them regularly at a laundromat. I decided I
didn’t need to take my phone, Ipod or laptop computer. I figured they would probably be stolen anyway
within a few days.
I quietly crept downstairs. The second stair has a loose board, so I was careful not to step on it. One creak
could ruin my whole plan. To say I was scared would be an understatement. I had only a vague plan of
going to California. I knew nothing about San Francisco except what I’d read on a few sites on the internet.
However, I was determined to follow through with my plan. My mother no longer wanted me at home, and
I certainly didn’t want to go live with my father. Even though I was sixteen, my height made me appear
older. I could easily pass for someone who was eighteen or nineteen.
The only real problem I had, other than a good plan, was the lack of money. I had $463 to my name.
Ironically, most of it was money I had saved from the cards I received from my father the past few years
on my birthday and Christmas. I wasn’t even sure it would cover the bus fare to the west coast.
As I tiptoed through the kitchen heading for the back door, I noticed my mother’s purse sitting on the
counter. I had never stolen anything in my life, but I was desperate. I opened it and counted out the
money she had in a wallet. There was $168. I stuffed it in my pocket and left. As I walked down the
sidewalk, the sun was beginning to rise in the east. I didn’t bother to look back at my former home.
We live in a residential area outside of the city. It’s like any other small suburban community. The homes
are mainly a three-bedroom ranch style. Except for the landscaping, most of the homes look alike. It took
me a little under an hour to walk the two miles. Since it was early, I didn’t see much traffic.
The city was fairly deserted. A couple of city trucks passed and the drivers waved to me. I guess they were
surprised to see someone walking the streets so early. I looked at my watch and it was 6:17. The streets
were dirty, and there was a nauseating smell in the air. As I walked further, I noticed a Waffle House on a
corner. I figured I should get something to eat. Since I would be on a bus the rest of the day, I wasn’t sure
when I might get a chance to eat again. I also thought it might be wise to buy some snacks to take with
me on the bus.
As I read a menu covered in dry syrup, the waitress approached. “What will it be? You want some coffee?”
I nodded and she walked away. She soon returned and placed a hot mug of coffee in front of me.
She asked, “What’s someone so young doing out so early?”
I ignored her and ordered a waffle, city ham and two scrambled eggs. She wrote it on her pad and left. I
watched as the cook prepared my meal. Soon, several more people entered. One group looked like
construction workers. They were dressed in faded, white tee shirts and dirty denim jeans. A young couple
entered and sat in a booth in the back. They looked tired, as if they had been partying all night. They were
probably getting something to eat before heading home to crash for the rest of the day.
The waitress brought my plate to the counter and placed it down in front of me. The waffle looked dry, and
the ham appeared greasy. It didn’t taste any better than it looked. At least the eggs were more edible.
When I was finished, the waitress handed me the tab. I handed her some of my mother’s money. She
examined it, and then walked away in a huff. I figured she didn’t appreciate the measly tip I’d given her.
Besides, what had she done for me? She didn’t prepare the meal. All she did was take the order and place
the crap in front of me.
The bus station was eight blocks away. The sun was beginning to shine as I left the restaurant and headed
down the sidewalk. I knew where it was because I had seen it a few times as my mother drove around
town running errands. It was located inside a shabby building on the west side of town. There was parking
for about six buses next to the building. The large dog on the side of the bus always caught my eye as we
The lights inside were off, and the door was locked when I arrived. A sign on the door said that the ticket
office wouldn’t open until nine. I still had over an hour and a half wait. I walked around a few blocks, but
everything was closed. More cars were beginning to appear, and I wondered if any were students on their
way to school.
My mother would be up by now. She probably wouldn’t even notice that I was gone. The last two times I
was suspended, she didn’t speak to me before leaving for school. Once or twice I got up and made
breakfast, but most of the time I would stay in my room and wait for her to leave before going downstairs
and fixing myself something for breakfast.
I went back to the bus terminal and sat down on a bench outside the building. I’d been sitting about
fifteen minutes when a small, elderly woman approached and sat down beside me. She attempted to strike
up a conversation, but she soon realized that I wasn’t in the mood to talk. Occasionally, she would look
over at me and shake her head.
The attendant arrived fifteen minutes late. She was a heavyset woman, and seemed rather rude. As she
unlocked the door, she told us it would be at least ten minutes before the ticket office opened. She ignored
me when I remarked that the sign said the office opens at nine.
I waited behind the elderly woman as she purchased a ticket. I had to listen to her tell the attendant that
she was visiting her grandchildren for the weekend. The attendant seemed about as interested as I was.
After a couple of sharp, “That’s nice,” the woman bought the ticket and sat down on a bench by the window.
The clerk asked without looking up, “Where you going?”
“San Francisco,” I informed her. She thumbed through a travel schedule, and then looked over the top of
her glasses at me.
“Next bus to San Francisco doesn’t leave for two days.”
“Two days?” I replied excitedly. “I can’t wait two days.”
“Well, you have to,” she said with an irritated voice. “You want the ticket or not?”
I thought for a minute. I really didn’t have many options. I had already decided I would go to California. I
hadn’t planned an alternate choice. Finally, I said, “Yeah, sure. How much?”
She looked at the schedule again and said, “Two hundred and sixty four dollars.” I took out my money from
my pocket and purchased the ticket. It was Thursday morning, and the bus to San Francisco wouldn’t leave
until 2:10 Saturday afternoon. The ticket also indicated I wouldn’t arrive until Tuesday morning at 8:28.
Not only did I have to find somewhere to stay for two days, I would also have to be on a bus for another
two and a half days.
As I left the Greyhound station and started walking down the street, a patrol car came up behind me and
stopped. The officer jumped from the car and rushed around the front. He stood before me and put his
hand on my shoulder.
He asked, “Are you Casey Barrett?”
I gave him a puzzled look and responded, “Yes.”
He gripped my shoulder tighter and pulled me to his car. He ordered, “Place your hands on the hood.”
After a quick pat down, he handcuffed me and put me in the back of the cruiser.
* * * * * * *
Chapter 3 Return to TMJ
Birds Don't Sing
Before a Storm