Buddy held up his hands and begged Aubrey not to shoot him. “I promise,” he
cried. “I got jumped from behind. There was nothing I could do.”
Aubrey eyed him angrily and spat, “Why didn’t you come to me and tell me? I had
to hunt all over this fucking trailer park for you.”
“I was going to,” insisted Buddy, “but I was too scared.” He pulled up his shirt and
showed Aubrey the dark bruise on his left side. “See what they did to me?”
Aubrey lowered his gun and placed it back in his waistband. “Aames is mad as hell
that you didn’t show up with his stash. He thinks I’ve screwed him.”
Buddy dropped his head and said, “Sorry, Man.”
Aubrey reached into his pocket, pulled out a plastic bag, and handed it to Buddy.
“Here,” he said as he shoved it into his hand. “Run this over to Aames. Tell him I’ve
put a little more in for his trouble.”
“But...” Buddy tried to resist, but Aubrey reached behind his back and pulled out
“You got a problem with it?” He looked angrily at the scared teen.
“No...” stammered Buddy. He shoved the baggie down inside his underwear. If
anyone was going to rob him again, then he would have to search for it.
“Good,” replied Aubrey as he waved the gun at Buddy. “Now scat.” As Buddy
turned to leave, Aubrey called out, “Hey, Kid!”
“Yeah?” replied Buddy.
“You still owe me for what you lost.”
“Yeah, sure,” replied Buddy. He pulled his hoodie tightly around his head and walked
* * * * * *
“Thank you, Sergeant Murdock,” said Mrs. Caldwell as she led the policeman to the
door. “I’ll take care of this little situation.”
“I’m sure you will, Ma’am,” he replied as he put on his hat. “I’ve got two teenagers
at home myself, and they’re constantly arguing.”
“Well, Sergeant,” replied Mrs. Caldwell, “this is a little more than arguing.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” he said as he stepped out the door.
She then turned and hollered up the stairs, “Melissa! Kyle! Living room, now!”
Kyle waited until he was sure his sister was downstairs before he left his room. He
still wasn’t sure what was going to happen. He knew his mother would be mad at
him for slapping his sister, and then having the police call her at work and ask her
to return home immediately. However, his sister was actually the one to blame.
She, after all, had sent the picture out that started the mess in the first place.
He could hear his mother shouting as soon as he started down the stairs. “But,
but...” he heard his sister mutter.
His mother shouted, “But, my ass!” He knew things were serious when his mother
used profanity. She was a prosecutor, and she knew how to control her emotions
in a situation. When he entered the living room, his sister was slumped on the sofa
with her head down. Tears were flowing down her face.
He was surprised when his mother looked over and smiled. “Sit down, Kyle,” she
said softly as she motioned to a wing back chair across the room. She then turned
back to Melissa and held out her hand. “Show me the picture.”
“But, Mommy,” cried Melissa as she fumbled with her phone.
Kyle jumped when his mother yelled, “Show me that goddamn picture!” Melissa’s
hand shook as she handed the phone to her mother. After looking at it, she threw
the phone on the carpet and stomped on it.
“Mommy!” Melissa shouted as she continued to sob. “Now I can’t talk to my friends.”
Mrs. Caldwell responded angrily, “You won’t be talking to anyone for a long time.
Besides losing your phone, I’m also removing your computer from your room. If
you need to do school work, you can use mine in my office.”
“But, Mommy,” wailed Melissa. “I’ll lose all my friends.”
Kyle watched as his mother approached Melissa. He closed his eyes because he
thought she was going to hit her. He opened them when his mother began to
shout. “Do you have any idea what harm you’ve caused your brother and Brad with
that horrible picture?”
“But Brad deserved it,” Melissa cried out. “He embarrassed me at school.”
“Embarrassed you at school!” shouted Mrs. Caldwell. She pointed to Kyle. “And
what about your brother?” She stepped closer to Melissa and bent down until she
was face to face with her. “Did you give one thought to what that picture would do
to your brother?”
Melissa looked over at Kyle and scowled. “But he deserved it, too.” Kyle watched as
his mother stood. Her hands were balled into tight fists.
She stepped into the center of the room and said calmly as she pointed upstairs,
“Go to your room.” Melissa looked tearfully at her. “I’ll speak to you later when I
don’t have the urge to slap the daylights out of you.”
“But, Mommy,” cried Melissa as she stood.
“Go, now,” calmly replied her mother. “And when you get to your room, disconnect
your computer and put it outside in the hallway. I’ll have your father get it when he
comes home later tonight.”
Melissa started to say something, but Kyle could see the cold, hard look in his
mother’s eyes. He realized it was probably that look that made her a successful
prosecutor. He had never seen her in court, but he was sure that she was now in
her attorney mode. For Melissa’s sake, it was probably safer. He had never before
witnessed his mother’s anger.
After Melissa left the room, his mother walked over to the leather sofa and let out a
deep sigh. She sat a minute before patting the seat beside her. “Come here, Kyle,”
she ordered gently. He rose from his seat and hesitantly sat down beside her.
She turned and faced him. “Are you alright, Dear?” she asked worriedly. “Did you
have any problems at school today?”
“A little,” he confessed. He figured since she didn’t appear angry, perhaps it was a
good time to tell her he had left school early. She would probably be informed of his
absence anyway. “Yes, Ma’am,” he said. “Some of the kids were picking on me, so I
left school after second period.”
She reached out and gripped his hand. “You want to tell me what happened this
He tried to hold back tears as he related to his mother the incident with Melissa. He
told her how his sister had called him a faggot, and that she thought he wanted to
have sex with Brad. He figured Melissa would tell her anyway, so he wanted to tell
his side of the story first.
“I see,” his mother replied as she walked over to the bar, took out a glass, reached
under the cabinet and poured some gin into it. She then went over to the small
refrigerator and removed a Pepsi. She walked over, sat down and handed him the
“I’d offer you a drink,” she laughed. “You probably need one worse than I do.”
“I’m okay,” he said reassuringly as he took a sip from the can. His mother kicked off
her high heels, stretched out and let out a sigh.
“Don’t ever have kids,” she muttered before laughing softly.
Kyle giggled and replied, “I won’t.” He couldn’t believe how comfortable he felt
sitting beside her. After everything he had been through during the day, he finally
They sat quietly for a minute before his mother spoke. “Are you going to be able to
handle being out at school?” She looked over worriedly at him.
Suddenly, a wave of fear surged through him. Why had she phrased the question
like that? It sounded like she wasn’t even questioning what she had seen on the
picture. Was she assuming that he was gay?
She smiled and took his hand. “It’s okay,” she assured him. “Your father and I have
known for some time.”
When tears appeared in his eyes, she reached out and pulled him into her bosom.
She rubbed his back as he cried softly for several minutes. Finally, he pulled away
and tearfully asked her, “How did you know?”
She smiled and gently wiped tears from his cheek. Her face, too, was wet with
tears. “We watched you when you and Jordan were together.”
“But we didn’t do anything in front of you.” His eyes widened when he realized what
he had said.
“You didn’t have to,” she laughed. “It was the way you looked at each other.” She
gripped his hand and stated firmly, “We’ll talk later about what you meant by not
doing anything in front of your father and me.” She laughed louder when Kyle’s face
turned scarlet red. “One can assume by that statement that things did go on
behind our back.” Kyle wanted to deny it, but he knew it would be useless. His
mother was speaking as an attorney, and the last thing he wanted was for her to
interrogate him about what he and Jordan did do together in his bedroom.
He looked over and asked, “Are you and Dad mad at me?”
“No, Baby,” she replied reassuringly as she put her arm around him. He rested his
head on her shoulder. “We’ve just always been concerned what would happen if
you did come out.” She reached up and ran her hand across his face. “You’re such
a gentle person. We are worried that someone might hurt you. I’ve seen so many
cases of brutal assaults occur because of one’s sexual orientation.”
She sat up and looked angrily over at the staircase. “And to think it would be your
own sister who would put you in jeopardy.”
Kyle asked, “What are you going to do to her?”
His mother laughed and replied, “If I told you what I want to do, then your
testimony could be used against me in court someday.” She took another sip of her
drink. “I guess your father and I will decide what to do. Whatever it is,” she added,
“just be glad it’s not you.”
“I am,” he laughed.
She looked at her watch and announced. “It’s getting late, and I still have to go talk
to Melissa. Your father won’t be home until after ten, so we’ll both talk to her
tomorrow. I’ll take you to school in the morning.”
“Why? he asked. “I can walk.”
She looked over worriedly. “I want to talk to your principal.”
“I want to be sure you’ll be safe at school.” She reached out and hugged him.
“Now, go upstairs and do your homework, and then go to bed.”
“Okay,” he replied as he returned her hug. “I love you, Mom.”
“Love you, too, Baby.” He jumped when she reached out to hit him on his butt
when he started to walk away. “I’ll be in to see you later.”
He was sound asleep when his mother and father crept into his room later and
gently kissed him on his forehead.
* * * * * *
“Hi, Aunt Mavis,” said Buddy as he stood on his aunt’s porch. She was dressed in
her usually tattered housecoat and brown slippers. “Can I come in?”
It was dark, and she peered out onto the street before opening the door and
letting Buddy enter. “It’s late,” she said sharply. “I’ve told you if you can’t be here
by nine, then don’t come around.”
“Sorry,” he replied as he walked over and sat down on the old sofa. It sank from his
weight. The springs had given out years before. When he slept on it at night, he
always woke up sore in the morning. A hard board pressed against his waist and
made for an uncomfortable night.
He was tired, more tired than usual. His sides still hurt where his attackers had
kicked him. One thing had worked in his favor, however. When he delivered the
drugs to Aames earlier, his wife was home. He made Buddy go around to the back
to wait for him outside the back door.
When he came out, he grabbed Buddy’s neck and choked him. “Listen, Kid,” he
spat angrily. “Don’t ever mess with me again, got it?” Buddy nervously nodded his
head. Aames removed his hand, and Buddy stepped away. He considered explaining
what had happened, but it appeared the huge man before him could care less. All
he was concerned about was getting his marijuana. When Aames’s wife came to the
door and looked out, he turned and left quickly.
Buddy was tired, but it wasn’t a physical tiredness. He was tired of life. He was only
sixteen, but he saw no end to the life he was living. He went home to a filthy trailer
each night, and many nights he had to listen to his mother ‘entertaining’ a man she
had picked up in the restaurant. He hated to admit that she was no more than a
prostitute. He had often observed men handing her money as they left.
Now he felt he was becoming trapped into a situation he didn’t really want. At the
moment, he was just a runner. However, he knew it would only be a short time until
he would be dealing for himself. The money was better, and he definitely needed the
money. The small change he was receiving from Aubrey was enough to meet his
needs; but if he wanted to move out of the shithole he was in, he’d have to make
changes. He felt his only way out was to sell drugs.
When he woke up the next morning, he could smell the aroma of coffee coming
from the kitchen. Wearily, he rose from the sofa, stretched his lanky body and then
headed into the bathroom. He stripped off his clothes and jumped into the shower.
He jumped back when cold water burst out of the showerhead. “Damn,” he
muttered as he took a washcloth and carefully washed his body clean. He was
shivering when he stepped out and toweled himself off.
“Do you know there’s no hot water?” he asked as he walked into the kitchen.
“Yes, goddamn it!” his aunt remarked angrily. “The hot water heater burst the
other night. Water was all over the fucking utility room.”
He poured a cup of coffee and sat down at the kitchen table. His aunt stormed
around the kitchen opening and slamming cupboard doors. He knew she didn’t have
money for a new hot water heater, so she would have to bathe and do her laundry
in cold water for several months, if not longer.
“How’s school going?” she asked as she placed a plate of two fried eggs, a slice of
bacon and a piece of toast on the table in front of him. She took another plate off
the counter and sat down.
“I dunno,” he replied. “I’m thinking of dropping out.”
“And do what?” she asked as she looked around the small kitchen. “Live like this the
rest of your life?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “Not too much of a chance to get out,” he replied as he
took a bite of toast.
“Got that right,” she muttered. “That worthless mother of yours should never have
“Thanks,” he responded sadly. “That was encouraging.” He stood, finished drinking
his coffee and put on his thin jacket. “I gotta go.” He bent down and kissed his
aunt on the cheek. “Thanks for breakfast.” She waved him off as he headed for the
* * * * * *
Kyle looked over at his mother and whined, “Do you really have to speak to the
principal? I’ll be alright.”
“Yes,” insisted his mother as she opened the door to the white Escalade. “I’m not
going to have you hurt like some children I hear about on the news.”
“Mom,” whined Kyle again. “I’m not a child. I can take care of myself.”
His mother stood before him and eyed him skeptically. “When have you ever been in
“Well,” he muttered. “Never.” He looked up at her and smiled. “You told me never to
get in a fight.”
“Nice try,” she laughed as she took him by his arm and started walking toward the
school. Kyle pulled away and walked ahead of her. It was bad enough that she was
escorting him to school. All he needed was for other students to see her holding
onto him like a protective mother hen.
As they approached the office, a student stepped away from his locker, bumped
into Mrs. Caldwell and almost knocked her to the floor.
“Watch where you’re going!” yelled the young man angrily. Buddy turned to look
into Mrs. Caldwell’s eyes.
“I’m sorry,” apologized Kyle’s mother. “However,” she admonished him, “You should
be more careful when you back out of your locker.”
“Listen...” Buddy started to get upset, but he glanced over and saw Kyle staring
back at him. His face reddened when he realized he was arguing with his mother.
He took a step back and said, “I’m sorry, Ma’am. I should have been more careful.”
Mrs. Caldwell watched closely as Buddy glanced quickly over at Kyle before slamming
his locker shut and hurrying away.
“That was strange,” she remarked as she watched Buddy rush down the hall. She
turned to Kyle and asked, “Do you know him?”
“Not really,” he answered. “He’s in a few of my classes, but we don’t talk.”
“Maybe you should,” replied his mother as she took his arm and headed toward the
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