Down a Darkened Path
Troy didn’t awaken until after noon on Saturday. He only did so then because his golden
retriever, Trixie, jumped on the bed and started licking his face.
“No,” he moaned as he buried his head under the pillow. Trixie thought he was playing a
game and started clawing at the pillow. When she didn’t get a response, she pulled the
blanket off Troy. She started licking his face when he began laughing.
He lazily crawled out of bed and headed to the bathroom with Trixie following at his heels.
“Stay here,” he ordered as he carefully closed the door. “There’s not enough room for
both of us.” She grunted, headed back to his bedroom and jumped on the bed.
Troy looked at himself in the mirror. He ran his hand over his head. There was still gray
spray in his hair from last evening’s performance. He laughed, imagining how he would
really look as an old man.
He stripped his boxers off and stepped into the shower. The warm water felt good
cascading over his body. He wondered if Broadway performers’ bodies ached like his did.
When he finished, he walked back to his bedroom and dressed. When he headed
downstairs, Trixie was following closely behind.
“It’s about time you got up.” He sat down at the kitchen island and forced a smile at his
mother. She poured him a cup of coffee and set it in front of him.
“How was the after-party?” she asked. “Sorry your father and I couldn’t make it. You
know he had an early flight this morning.”
“Where’s he off to this time?”
Troy was used to his father’s frequent business trips. He owned a tool and die company,
so he traveled often to try and gain new clients. Since his father had hired forty new
employees in the past year, Troy assumed that he was rather successful in his journeys.
“Denver,” replied his mother as she placed the cream and sugar in front of him. “Want
some toast?” Troy nodded his head.
As she was handing him the toast, she said, “You didn’t say how the after-party went.”
“It was fun,” he assured her. “I kind of got tired of people telling me how wonderful I was.”
“Well, you were, Dear.” She walked over and kissed him on the cheek. She smiled when
he quickly wiped it off.
“And look.” She handed him several post notes.
“What are these?”
“People who called this morning to congratulate you.” She walked over and thumbed
through them, pulling one out and handing it to him. “Look,” she smiled. “The newspaper
wants to do an article on you. It seems the editor was in the audience last night, and he
thinks you may just be an up and coming star.”
“Mom,” moaned Troy. “I’m just a kid who did a play.” She stepped back and looked at him.
“You really don’t know how good you were last night, do you?” Troy simply shrugged his
shoulders and took a sip of coffee.
“When your father and I left the auditorium, all everyone was talking about was how good
you were. Your singing was wonderful.” Troy shrugged his shoulders again.
“All I want to do is graduate in a few months,” he said, “and go off to college.”
He laughed when tears welled up in her eyes. “Now don’t start,” he laughed.
She reached out and pulled him into a hug. “I can’t help it,” she started to cry. “I just
can’t get used to the idea of my baby leaving home soon.”
“I’m not a baby, Mom,” he remarked as he pulled away. “Beside, you’ll still have Trixie.”
The old dog looked up and barked. “See,” he laughed. “You can baby her.”
“It’s just not the same,” she replied as she ran her hand over his hair. He heard her sniffle
as she turned and walked back over to the counter.
“So when’s Dad coming home?”
“Tuesday,” she replied. “He’s at some conference.”
Troy sipped his coffee and stared at his mother.
“What?” she asked.
“Did you and Dad talk about my graduation present?”
“You mean the futon we’re buying you for your dorm room?” She turned and laughed.
“Come on, Mom,” he huffed. “Stop teasing me. Did you and Dad talk about buying me a
“Oh, that,” she smiled as she turned and faced him. “We’re waiting to see if you graduate
“Mom!” he moaned. “I have a 3.2 GPA. I don’t think I’m not going to graduate. Besides,
I’ve looked forward to it since I started high school.”
“So?” His mother smiled and gave him a puzzled look. “You know, the car?”
“Oh, that,” she replied. “We’ll see.”
“Yes!” He thought to himself. He knew the, “we’ll see,” meant a yes.
He was nibbling on his toast when he heard a rapping on the kitchen door. He turned and
Claire was waving. He motioned for her to come in.
“Hi, Mrs. Neal,” she said politely as she sat in the stool beside Troy. She leaned over and
kissed him gently on the cheek.
“It’s about time you got your ass out of bed.” She blushed when Troy’s mother turned
and gave her a warning look. “I’ve been calling all morning.”
“Well,” his mother replied. “His ass is now out of bed.” She smiled and left the kitchen.
“Did you ask her yet?” Claire looked anxiously at Troy.
She had asked him a week earlier to go to a party at the home of one of her friends.
Joanna’s parties were usually reserved for the ‘in’ crowd at school. They were generally
not chaperoned, but little drinking or smoking occurred. She said her parents would ban
her from having parties if there was any evidence of alcohol or drug abuse afterwards.
They usually involved loud music, dancing and eating. No one ever complained because it
was a way of socializing without a parent present.
However, Joanna was always happy when something mild did occur, because it insured a
successful party the next time. At the last party, Hanna Grissom exposed her breasts on
a dare in the recreation room in the basement. At an earlier party, a group of boys
wrestled with Dave Zimmers and removed his bathing suit in the pool. He proudly got out
and pranced across the lawn and retrieved it. Many of the girls were begging the boys to
try and repeat the prank again.
“I don’t know if I want to go,” replied Troy. “You know Monica will be there, and I don’t
want to fight her off all night.”
Monica was a classmate who had been having a crush on Troy since the sixth grade. She
was an average looking girl who most people didn’t find particularly attractive. Troy had
worked with her on a science project, and since then she had hopes that someday he’d
be her boyfriend. Claire and Will always laughed and said that Monica stalked him because
she always seemed to be in the vicinity of wherever he was. She had sat in the front row
during Friday’s performance and handed him a bouquet of roses when he was taking his
bows to the audience.
“You know how she is,” he said angrily. “She’ll corner me somewhere and I’ll never be able
to get away from her. I swear, one day I’m going to kiss Will right in front of her. Maybe
then she’ll get the idea she doesn‘t have a chance.”
“It won’t do any good,” remarked Claire. “Someone already told her you were gay, and
she said it didn’t matter.”
“Argg!” Troy shouted. “What is it with you women and gay guys? You’re always thinking
you can make us straight.”
“Pardon me?” Claire put her hand on her hips and exaggerated rolling her eyes. “Just for
your information, I’m not interested.” She turned her head dramatically to the side, and
then looked back at him. “And besides,” she eyed him up and down, “You’re not all that.”
“Well, all right, Miss Bitch.” Troy circled his hand in the air and snapped his fingers. Claire
was laughing so hard she almost fell out of her chair.
“You do not make a good queen,” she laughed. “You’d better stay with the straight role.”
“Then I’ll have the Monicas of the world wanting me,” he said as he snapped his fingers
Claire laughed and grabbed his hand, pulling him towards the family room. “You’re an
idiot. Come on, we have to go check with the mother figure and see if you can go
tonight.” Troy moaned as Claire led him from the room.
“Are you sure this looks all right?” Troy held up the red sweater for Will to see. Will
walked over and put his arms around Troy’s naked chest.
“You look good just the way you are,” he purred in Troy’s ear. He ran his hand over the
small treasure trail leading into his pants. When he attempted to reach his hands inside,
Troy laughed and backed away.
“I’m supposed to be getting dressed,” he reminded him. “The only reason I told you to
come by was to help me pick out something to wear. You know I’m horrible matching
“I thought you were gay,” laughed Will. He reached out his hand and held his palm up.
“Give me your gay card,” Will insisted. “If you don’t know how to match colors, then you
can’t possibly be gay.”
“I’m a musician, remember,” Troy said as he pulled the sweater over his head. “I’m not a
fashion designer.” Will looked at his feet and started laughing. He held out his hand again.
“Gay card,” he laughed. “You can’t wear a red sweater and green socks. My god, Troy.
Sometimes I wonder about you.” He walked over, took a pair of argyle socks out of the
dresser and held it up to the sweater. “Here, Bozo. These match.” Troy walked over to
the bed and removed his green socks and started putting on the ones Will had handed
Just as he was putting the last sock on, he was surprised when Will came over to the
bed, pushed him down and then straddled his body. Troy moaned when their lips
touched. They made out for several minutes, grinding their erections into one another.
When Will reached down and tried to unzip Troy’s pants, Troy pushed him off to the side
and got off the bed.
“Damn it, Troy,” responded an exasperated Will. “When are you going to let me have
Troy counted off the months on his fingers. “February, March, April, May. Four months.”
Will walked over and kissed him.
“I can’t wait that long, Baby.” He rubbed his hard crotch. “You make me go home every
night and jack off twice just thinking about you.”
Troy started laughing. “Then don’t start something you know we can’t finish.” When he
saw the hurt look in Will’s eyes he took him in his arms and embraced him. “It won’t be
long, Will. I promise. Four months and I’ll make it all up to you.”
“You’d better,” pouted Will. Troy started laughing when he stuck out his lower lip. He
leaned in and gently bit it. They then kissed again passionately.
“We’d better go,” said Troy as he stepped away. “Claire and Allison are expecting us
“I can’t believe your mother let you borrow her car.”
“She only let me because she said it’s low on gas and I have to fill the tank.” Troy laughed.
“Well at least you get to drive her Acura. My mother goes ape shit if I ask to drive her
Troy smacked Will upside the head and laughed. “It’s not about the car. It’s about the
driver. I’ve ridden with you before. I wouldn’t let you ride my bike.”
He laughed as he headed to the door and heard Will shout out, “Bitch.”
Troy could hear the music blaring when he got out of the car. As they walked up the
driveway to Joanna’s house, several classmates were standing outside and greeted them.
“Hey, Tevye,” laughed Carl Lindall as he patted Troy on the back. “How’s my favorite
comrade?” Troy looked around to see if anyone was noticing before he reached behind
Carl and pinched his ass. Carl let out a squeal and then stepped back.
“Ready for a Bolshevik party?” He looked over at Will and grinned. Carl’s face was turning
“Yeah,” laughed Will. “We can Trotsky over to your house for a glass of vodka and some
Carl shook his head and walked away laughing, “You guys are idiots.” Will grabbed Troy’s
arm and led him into the huge house.
Suddenly, Troy stopped. Will looked at him and then followed his eyes. He broke out in
laughter when he saw Monica walking seductively their way. She was dressed in a pair of
very tight jeans and a low-cut silk blouse that exposed half her breasts.
“Damn, Troy,” whispered Will. “She’s out to kill tonight.” Troy turned and tried to get
away, but Monica quickened her pace and grabbed his left arm.
“Hey, Troy.” Her voice was sexy and sultry. Troy looked at Will and rolled his eyes. Will’s
face was red as he tried hard to suppress a laugh.
“Hi, Monica.” He let his eyes quickly scan her body. “You look nice tonight.”
“Oh, this old outfit,” she cooed as she rubbed her hands against her bosom. “It’s just
something I threw on at the last minute.” It was obvious to Troy, though, that she had
probably spent the entire day getting ready for the party. She looked up at him and
batted her eyes. “So you think I look nice?”
Troy elbowed Will as he raised his hands and cupped his mouth in an attempt to stifle a
laugh. He looked at him and frowned.
“We just got here, Monica,” he said as he grabbed Will’s arm and started to lead him
away. “I’ll try and talk to you later.”
“Be sure you do,” she replied as she reached out and ran her hand against his arm.
“That is so fucked up,” laughed Will. “Doesn’t she know you’re gay?”
“Yeah,” frowned Troy. “But she doesn’t care.”
“Well, I do.” Will puffed his chest out and looked angrily at Troy. “She better keep her
hands off my man.” Troy tried to refrain from laughing, but fell against the wall as he
broke into laughter.
“That has to be the worse threat I’ve ever heard,” he laughed. “Why don’t you just hit
her with your purse?”
“Bitch,” replied Will as he pushed Troy’s shoulder. “I would if I had one.” He started
grinning. “Why don’t I borrow one of yours?”
“The blue one or the red one?” Will brushed back his hair and looked seductively at Troy.
“How about the green one? It would match my eyes.”
“Your eyes are gray, Asshole.” Troy threw his arm around Will and led him into the
backyard where most of the other guests were gathered.
Many of their classmates circled around Troy and congratulated him on his performance
the night before. Since Joanna had been one of the stage designers, she had invited
many of the cast members.
“I heard you were going to try out for West Side Story?” Troy looked around for Claire.
He knew she was the one who had started the rumor.
He had a lot of fun doing Fiddler on the Roof, but he wanted to enjoy his final days as a
senior. He didn’t want to end it with long, tedious rehearsals and staying up late
memorizing lines. It was fun to do once, but he wasn’t sure he was prepared to do it
“I’ll consider it,” he said dismissively, hoping that he could avoid a lot of pressure by his
classmates to perform.
“Well, you’d better,” warned Joanna. She stepped up and wrapped her arm around
Troy‘s. He grinned when he saw Will’s face redden with jealously. He knew he wanted to
be the one holding him. Even though many of the students were aware of their
relationship, he felt it would be pushing it to demonstrate their affection for one another
“With your musical abilities,” Joanna added, “you’ll make a wonderful Tony. I just can’t
imagine anyone else playing the role.” She tightened her squeeze on his arms. “I just
might try out for the part of Maria.” She looked over at Will and smiled before turning
back to Troy. “Wouldn’t you love kissing me in front of a thousand people?”
Everyone around them started giggling. Troy felt bad when he noticed Monica standing
behind Will. She gave him a sad look before turning and walking dejectedly away.
True to one of Joanna’s parties, as the night wore on, the festivities grew rowdier. Even
though alcohol was never seen, it was apparent that many were getting drunk. Troy had
been offered a drink out of a paper cup several times, but each time he refused.
Just before midnight three members of the track team challenged each other as to who
could run the fastest 100 meters. Since they were obviously drunk, someone jokingly told
them that it would be more challenging if they did it nude. The house emptied and
followed the boys out into the street. Another student ran down the street and held up
his hands. Just before he dropped them, the three track members removed their shirts
and in one final motion, pulled off their shorts and underwear. Everyone fell on the lawn
laughing as the boys tore off down the road butt naked. The joke later that night was
that Jason Saunders won by an inch.
Everyone headed back to the pool area and was having a good time until the police
showed up. After talking to Joanna and discovering that no adults were present, they
informed the students that the party was ended. They remained until the last of the party
goers had left. They were also warned that police were stationed down the street and that
anyone caught driving intoxicated would be arrested. There was a mad scramble to find
“You haven’t been drinking, have you?” Claire gave Troy a worried look as she got into
the back seat of the car. She had helped Troy get Will into the passenger’s seat. He had
drunk too much and was close to passing out.
“I’m fine,” he assured Claire. He lifted Will’s head from his shoulder when he fell over onto
him. “Poor Will is a different story. He’s not used to drinking. I don’t know how I’ll explain
it to his father.”
“I know you won’t let him spend the night with you,” said Allison. “He can stay in our
guest bedroom. I’ll call his mother and tell her he was tired, went to bed and asked me to
“She’ll never believe you,” exclaimed Troy. He knew that Will’s parents were extremely
religious and they would never condone his drinking.
“No,” replied Claire, “but it’s better than you carrying him drunk to his bedroom.”
He reached over and ran his hand through Will’s hair. “Poor guy,” he laughed. “Can’t
handle his alcohol.”
“Well maybe if you..” Claire stopped when Troy cast her an angry look. She had been
trying to convince Troy that he and Will should have sex and not wait until they
graduated, but Troy was adamant. Will had confided in her numerous times the
frustration he was feeling.
Troy helped Will into Allison’s guest bedroom and waited while she called his mother. He
couldn’t hear what she was saying, but he could tell she was very upset. His heart
stopped when Claire frowned and handed him the phone.
“I’m very disappointed in you, Troy,” she said angrily.
“But Mrs. Richey,” he started to apologize but she abruptly cut him off.
“I realize that boys will be boys,” she said, “but I would have preferred you to have been
honest with me. Having Allison call me with some lame brain excuse shows weakness in
“Yes, Ma’am.” Troy hung his head while Claire walked up and wrapped her arm around him.
“We’ll talk about this tomorrow,” she replied. “I won’t upset his father by telling him what
happened this evening. I’ll also be calling your mother in the morning.”
“That won’t be necessary, Mrs. Richey,” he assured her. “I’ll tell her myself over
breakfast.” He jumped when he heard her slam down the receiver.
“Well, that went well,” frowned Claire.
“Yeah, right.” He looked over at the bed where Will was sound asleep. “He gets drunk and
passes out, and I’m the one who gets my ass reamed.”
She walked over and pulled the covers tightly over Will. “I’m sure he’ll hear plenty about it
Troy walked over and sat on the side of the bed. He ran his hand gently across Will’s
cheek. He stirred slightly when Troy leaned in and kissed him gently on the lips. “Sleep
tight, my dear Lazar Wolfe,” he whispered gently into his ear.
“Oh, shit,” Troy hissed to himself as he was driving home. The low gas warning light had
been flashing since he was about four blocks from his house. Will and Claire had insisted
that he stop and get gas, but the nearest station was several miles away. He thought he
had enough gas to get to Joanna’s and back. He was to have taken Will home and then
drop Allison off at Claire‘s home. The trip to Allison’s house was unexpected. She had
volunteered to drive him home, but he felt assured he had enough to make it. Now the
jerky motion of the car told him he didn’t. When it rolled to a stop, he slammed his hand
down against the steering wheel.
“Where the fuck am I?” He looked around in the dark trying to figure out where he was.
He had taken what he thought was a short cut home, but he had been driving for several
minutes down isolated streets with dilapidated buildings and run-down homes. He didn’t
have a clue where he was. He fumbled with the GPS system on his mother’s car, but he
was unfamiliar with how it operated.
“Fuck!” He shouted as he got out of the car and looked around. He took out his cell
phone to call Claire, but he realized he didn’t know the street he was on. He slammed the
door and locked it with his remote. Stuffing it in his pocket, he headed out to the nearest
intersection so he could tell Claire where he was.
He could hear the ringing of “I told you so,” in his ears. He knew he had no one to blame
but himself. Now he was stranded in a deserted part of town. It was dark since many of
the street lights had been knocked out, probably by bored kids.
He pulled his jacket collar tightly onto his neck and he started in the direction where it
seemed more lit. He remembered seeing an abandoned building with a name painted
across the front. He figured Claire could find him easier if he could give her some kind of a
description of a nearby building.
He trembled as he walked along the dark, desolate road. He recalled watching the news
last year when they told of a young girl who had been kidnapped, raped and murdered.
The pictures of the scene looked remarkably like the street he was now walking.
He had walked about 50 yards when a blue van turned onto the street and approached
him. He became frightened when it stopped about 20 yards from him and turned out its
lights. He turned to see how far he was from his mother’s car. He realized he couldn’t
make it back to his mother’s car in a race with the occupants of the van.
He grabbed his phone tightly as the van slowly began to creep towards him. He cautiously
stepped away from the curb about six feet into a parking lot. When the van reached him,
someone rolled down the window. A young black man, about his age, looked out and
“You in trouble?”
Troy turned and pointed to his car. “I..I..ran out..of..of..gas,” he muttered nervously.
“Shit, White Boy,” said the stranger as he exited the car with an angry look on his face.
“That wasn’t a very smart thing to do.”
Troy backed away when the side door opened and another young black man got out. He
looked around in panic trying to find a place to run.
“There’s no where to run to,” laughed the first guy. He stepped up to Troy. Troy looked
over his shoulder and saw the other figure standing behind the young man before him.
“Don’t..hurt..me!” Troy pleaded. The boy’s eyes narrowed in anger.
“You’re on our turf, White Boy,” he sneered. “We make the rules around here.” He
stepped up and gave Troy a deadly look. “Give me your wallet.”
“I..I..don’t have much money,” Troy stammered. He took his wallet out of his back pocket,
removed the money and handed it to the boy.
“Fuck, White Boy.” Troy bent over in pain when the boy hit him in the stomach. “Did I say
I wanted your money, Mother Fucker?” He hit Troy again. “I told you to give me your
wallet. You white boys can’t follow directions.” Troy could hear laughter behind him.
The young man walked up and lifted Troy’s head. “You got a cell phone, Mother Fucker?”
“I need it to call my Mom,” cried Troy. He was shaking with fear. The two hits to his body
indicated he was in extreme danger.
The boy drew back his hand and hit Troy in the left temple. He staggered and fell to the
ground. “You ain’t calling no one, Mother Fucker!” He then kicked Troy in the side. “You
hear me?” he shouted.
“No, please!” Troy begged as he got on his knees and attempted to get up. He turned
and in a split second saw one of the men swinging a two by four at his head.
He couldn’t remember what happened after that. He knew he had been brutally beaten.
He felt that he had lost consciousness, but he didn’t know how long. It could have been
minutes or hours.
When he attempted to get up, he realized his eyes were swollen shut. He felt his face, and
could feel the warmness of blood as it oozed from his body.
In a panic, he rose and stumbled down the sidewalk, falling several times off the curb.
Many times he’d lay motionless for minutes, listening for a car to approach so he could
beg for help.
It seemed he had wandered for days when he fell to the ground. He then felt someone
lean down and hold him. Darkness overcame him as he was embraced in the arms of a
Chapter 4 Return to TMJ