When you’re a teenager it’s easy to be led astray. What’s hard is getting out of a bad situation.
Mature or distressing themes and strong language. This story deals with issues that are, unfortunately, true to life for some teens.
In keeping with our policy of not running from real life issues, we are hosting Bad Boy Gone Good with this advisory.
When they got home from school Tuesday afternoon Jay parked at the curb in front of the house. As they got out of the car they saw the garage door open and Dave came out.
“Hey, Jay, park your car in the garage, on the right side. I cleared it for you.”
Jay thought that was a nice for Dave to do for him. He pulled in and got out of the car.
Greg grinned. “Better lock the car doors, Dad. Don’t know if this is a safe neighborhood or not.”
Jay laughed and shook his head. “Thanks, Mr. Cam… uh, sorry, thanks for letting me park inside, Dave.”
“You’re welcome. Besides keeping your car out of the elements, it will keep Pete from seeing your car if he happens to drive around here.”
“I don’t think that would happen, Dad,” Greg said. “Why would he be driving around here?”
“He probably wouldn’t, but you never know so it’s better to be safe.
“Jay, I’m going to drive you to the Metro cellphone store and get you a new phone number. You can come along for the ride if you want, Greg.”
“Sure, why not,” he replied.
When they got back from the cellphone store Greg and Jay went up to their rooms and changed into casual clothes, then went downstairs to get a snack. Greg’s mom was at the kitchen table having a cup of coffee.
“Hi, Mom,” Greg said and leaned down to kiss her.
“Hi… Beth,” Jay said. Then he shook his head and chuckled. “It’s going to be hard to remember to not call you Mrs. Cameron.”
“What did you call Doris?” Greg asked.
“Doris. Oh, I see what you mean. Just correct me whenever I slip up and say it more formal.”
“More formally,” Beth corrected him.
“English is too complicated,” Jay groused.
Greg chuckled. “You can say that again!”
“English is too complicated.”
That got them going back and forth with jokes about the English language and laughing until Beth shook her head and waved her hands back and forth.
“Stop, stop, I give!” she said. “How about a snack?”
The boys agreed and each decided to have a banana.
“So, how was school today?”
“Good,” Greg replied.
“Great,” Jay said. “I have Study Hall so that gave me time to finish almost all of the homework I didn’t get done last night. So I’m mostly caught up.”
“Greg?” Beth asked.
“Well, I don’t have a study hall but I’m almost caught up. Most of what I have left is reading, and then some problems to do for Pre-Calc.”
“You know, we didn’t tell you about how we missed a lot of excitement at school on Friday,” Jay said. He then described what they’d heard and how many kids had been pulled out of school.
“There was this old bat in the office who tried to get private information out of us when we turned in the hospital form to get back in school,” Greg said.
“Yeah, her name is Mrs. Fintch,” Jay added. “Somehow that name fits her attitude.”
“You didn’t tell her anything, did you?”
“Not much,” Jay replied. “She wanted to know why I went to a hospital in San Carlos and I said I felt real sick on my way to school so I decided to drive to where my stepmother works in Palo Alto. I didn’t make it, and ended up in St. Mark’s in San Carlos. Then she wanted to know why I was sick, and I said it was on the form. That shut her up.”
Greg added, “Then when I checked in she grilled me about why I was with Jay. I told her that we both got sick on the burritos in the cafeteria, and that my dad is an attorney and he wants to know if any other kids came down with bad stomach problems like what Jay and I had. She said that was privileged information and didn’t ask anything else.”
“I’m going to try to remember ‘privileged information’ so I can use it in the future,” Jay said.
Beth stared at him. “And when would you need to do that?”
“Like if I got injured and was out of school for a day and they want to know how I’d been injured. Anything that’s none of their business.”
“We made some new friends at lunch yesterday,” Greg said. “We had lunch with them and some of their friends again today. It’s really bizarre. They both live on Seacliff Drive, in houses positioned like our house and the one next door to us. One guy is Davis Sung. I know him, sort of. The other guy is Ryan Jenkins. His dad is the doctor I had at St. Mark’s Hospital. Anyway, they’ve known each other since they were little kids and they’re best friends.”
“That certainly is coincidental, isn’t it?” she responded.
“Say, Greg, do you think you could ask Ryan if we could ride with them to and from school?” Jay asked. “That way your mom wouldn’t have to take us.”
“Jeez, that’s a great idea. I should have thought of that. He didn’t say if they get a ride home, though. Ryan’s dad, being a doctor, probably doesn’t get off until later.”
“If you can work this out,” Beth said, “I’ll be glad to drive all four of you home from school.”
“That’s great. I’ll call Ryan after dinner and talk to him about it.”
“Greg, you said you know another of the boys, ‘sort of.’ What’s that ‘sort of’ mean?”
“Davis Sung tried to be friendly when I first got to Aston High. At lunch today he told me that I’d been walking around with a chip on my shoulder and he just gave up. Same for Ryan, too. Things are a lot better now. Telling you my problems and knowing you understood and decided to come home was a big help. Then having Jay here… it’s like having a brother. We both had problems and now they’re fixed. Being together is great. When you go off on a trip I won’t be alone, and neither will Jay.”
“I agree,” Jay added.
“I’m certainly glad that this seems to be working out for the two of you. And, talking about working, both of you have homework you need to finish, right?”
“Yeah. I’ll get started on mine,” Greg said. “Say, I turned on the pool heater last night. Jay is a swimmer, and I could use the exercise. I know I’ll be finished in about a half hour or so. If it’s okay, can we get in some swimming before dinner?”
“I’ll be finished with my homework in fifteen minutes or less,” Jay added.
“I don’t see why not. Just check with your father and make sure there isn’t anything else that needs to be checked besides the pool heater.”
“Okay, will do.”
Greg found his dad in the family room and the three went to what both Greg and his dad called the pool house, a name that still made Jay laugh. There was a printed checklist on the door of the equipment room, and they stepped through the process of flushing the filter and turning on the chlorinator. Everything checked out, and they verified that the pool heater was still on and set to 82F. The water temperature at the surface was 80F.
“You’re good to go, guys,” Dave said. “Just be sure your homework is finished before you come out to swim. When you walk out here wear your flip-flops because the path is gravel and hard to walk on in bare feet. Oh, and be sure to bring towels. We haven’t stocked any out here yet. Better yet, change to your swimsuits out here. It’s likely to be cold by the time you’re ready to come in for dinner, so taking your showers and getting dressed out here will not only be convenient, you won’t feel cold when you walk back to the house.”
“Do you know what time Mom’s going to have dinner ready?”
“I’m not sure. You’d better ask her on your way inside.”
They walked back to the house. Greg asked his Mom about dinner and she told them it would be ready at six-thirty.
Greg finished his problems for Pre-Calc then read the chapters in his chemistry book that he’d missed, and that let him catch up to the class. He checked the time and decided he could read the next chapter. When he finished that he completed the reading assignment for APUSH and answered the questions at the end of the chapter.
Jay had less to do. He decided to read ahead in the Library Science textbook. By the time he thought about looking at the clock it was four o’clock and he’d read ahead three chapters. He went back and answered the questions at the end of each chapter.
That was it, and he was ready to go swimming. He found where he’d put his Speedos and picked a red mid-length that had a wide green stripe down his left hip. He thought about putting them on, but decided to wait and do it at the pool where Greg could watch him. Thinking about that made him smile. He walked across the hall to Greg’s room.
“Hey, you finished yet?” he asked.
Greg yawned. “Yeah. Lemme tell you, reading this APUSH textbook is a good way to go to sleep. It’s so dry.”
“Have you ever read a Library Science textbook?”
Greg grinned and shook his head.
“Now, that’s dry reading! Get your suit and let’s get into the water before it all evaporates.”
“Fat chance of that!” Greg grabbed his suit and they headed downstairs.
As they walked through the kitchen Greg told his mom they’d come in and be ready for dinner by six-fifteen.
“Have fun,” she told them.
The air in the pool house was warm and humid. Greg stripped and stood there in the nude watching Jay take his time taking off his clothes. Once he was nude he picked up his Speedo and looked at Greg to make sure he was still watching. He was.
Greg grinned, dropped his suit on the coping, and jumped into the water.
“Oh, so it’s skinny dipping?” Jay asked.
“That’s what I’m doing. Whether you do it too is up to you.”
Jay dropped his suit on top of Greg’s and jumped in.
“Now what?” Greg asked.
“How about some laps. Not a race, just easy laps. Say we start with one round trip and take a breather.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
They did laps, then Jay showed Greg how to do a backstroke without sinking to the bottom of the pool the way he usually did. They did some more laps, horsed around with some pool toys, then pulled themselves out and sat on the coping.
Greg looked at Jay and grinned. “So, you’ve really crossed over to the other side of the street?”
Jay wiggled his eyebrows. “Yup.”
“Then how about telling me about Paul Meadows and Rick Manenking. Sounds like they’re already on the other side.”
“They said they met in eighth grade and hit it off right away. They each knew they were gay, but weren’t out. Rick said his folks caught them messing around. They sat them down and said it was fine if they were gay or were just experimenting, but they wanted them to hold off on anything other than touching. They decided that if they were experimenting then they should redefine ‘touching’ a bit beyond using just their hands. That made them realize they really liked what they did, and that meant they were definitely gay.”
Greg laughed. “Smart eighth-graders! So how did Paul’s folks find out?”
“He told them one night at dinner. His sister and two brothers were there too. They all responded that it was about time, that they’d figured out that he was gay ‘years ago’ as Paul put it, and they were okay with it. They’d also guessed that Rick was his boyfriend because they always did everything together.
“So, they decided to come out at school. In the eighth grade. In middle school, for god’s sake! But what they did was clever. They went to their counselors and told them they were gay and would be coming out at school and they wanted to be sure that they wouldn’t be bullied or harassed at school.
“The counselors arranged for them to meet with the vice principal and they told him the same thing. They were told that they’d be supported and if there was any bullying or harassment they were to come to him. They agreed to do that.
“They told their friends, but didn’t go around announcing it to the whole school. By the time they were at Aston High lots of kids already knew they were gay, and they haven’t had any problems.”
“So you think we should come out to our friends?”
“Well, we don’t seem to have a lot of friends, so that should be pretty easy.”
“But if you tell someone and they spread the word, couldn’t that cause a problem for us?” Greg asked.
“I asked Rick and Paul if that happened to them, and they said it did get spread around but that it didn’t cause any problems. They said I should join the GSA club and I’d see other kids who are gay and out, and kids who are straight and supportive. Maybe even some kids who are gay and closeted because they think, or know, that their families wouldn’t be supportive.”
“You said ‘I’ should join the GSA instead of ‘we’ so does that mean you didn’t say anything about me?”
“Not a word about you. If you want to be outed to them, that’s your decision and you should do it, not me. So that brings up a question. If you came out to your family, would they be supportive like Rick and Paul’s folks were?”
“I’d hope so, but I don’t know. We could talk about it, and see what their reaction is.”
“Let’s do that. We can talk about someone we know who came out to their folks and got a very negative reaction. Like loss of their cell and their computer and threats to send them to one of those places that claims to fix gay kids.”
“Yeah. That’s a good way to do it. Then if my folks seem supportive we can tell them about Paul and Rick to show how kids at Aston High can come out without those sorts of problems with their folks.
“Jay, did you know that in California it’s against the law to send anyone under eighteen to one of those so-called make-you-go-straight camps?”
“No, I didn’t know that. That’s a really good law, in my opinion.”
“Yeah, that it is.”
“Did you like what we did on Sunday when we slept together?”
Greg grinned. “Yes, very much.”
“But you said you weren’t gay when I asked you.”
“And you also said you weren’t gay when I asked you.”
“I was scared.”
Greg scooted so he was pressed against Jay’s left side. He put his arm around Jay’s shoulders and pulled him into an embrace, then leaned in and kissed him. The kiss lasted maybe five seconds, but to Greg and Jay it seemed much longer and at the same time much too short.
Greg looked down and grinned. “I see two flagpoles, waving in the breeze.”
That made Jay laugh. “Isn’t it the flags that wave in the breeze?”
“Not in this case.” Greg reached down and to his right. “Especially in this case.”
Then one thing led to another.
When they walked into the house they were laughing as they tried to poke and tickle each other.
“Hey,” Beth said, trying to look stern and holding back a grin, “no horseplay in the kitchen!”
“Okay, Mom. Sorry.”
“So, I take it you had a lot of fun swimming and, as you kids put it, messing around,” Dave commented.
Greg paled, but got an idea. “What do you mean, messing around? We didn’t damage anything or throw any of the furniture in the pool or anything like that. We just played with those foam pool toys.”
“I’m sure you didn’t damage anything, but that’s not what I meant. I went out to see what the pool was like for you two. I can summarize by saying that we don’t have any problems if the two of you are gay. And we’re not going to send either or both of you off to one of those gay conversion camps.”
Jay turned to look at Greg. He couldn’t help laughing at him. Greg’s mouth hung open, just like he’d read in stories.
“What?” Greg growled. “What’s so funny?”
“You were standing there with your mouth hanging open.”
“No I wasn’t!”
“Yes, you were,” Jay, Beth, and Dave said simultaneously. That made them burst out laughing. Greg couldn’t help himself, and even though he blushed he started laughing, too.
“So you heard us talking about… being gay?”
“Yes,” Dave replied. “The messing around part was even more convincing.”
“And… you’re okay with us… being gay and… messing around?”
“Yes. You’re almost seventeen years old, Greg. And Jay, you’re already seventeen years old. There is one thing, you are going to be subjected to a safe-sex talk, I’m afraid. They’ve probably covered what I’m going to talk about in your Sex-Ed class. If they haven’t, they should have.”
“It was covered last year in PE when I was at Sehome High.”
“They covered it last year in PE at Aston High,” Jay said. “We’ll get a refresher this year too.”
“You’ll get a refresher this coming weekend,” Dave said, to a look of horror on each boy’s face.
“Hey, just a darn minute, Dad,” Greg said, “you were standing there watching us for a long time if you heard us talking about being gay and then saw us ‘messing around’ as you called it. That seems to me that you were being a peeping Tom which…”
“A peeping Dave,” Jay interrupted, grinning.
“Okay, a peeping whomever. Isn’t there a law against doing that?”
“Accurate English, but incorrect legal supposition,” Beth stated. “As owner of this domicile, Mr. David Cameron has full right to inspect the premises at any time he feels so inclined. And, potentially much to your embarrassment, so do I. So that should settle that.”
Dave smirked. “You know, Beth, we could install video cameras in the hall upstairs to determine if there’s any cross-cohabitation going on. Then Greg and Jay wouldn’t have to subject themselves to a safe-sex talk until they’re seen on the video.”
“I think that’s a good idea even if you have that safe-sex talk with them,” she retorted.
“You know, Beth, if the boys had accepted the proposed plea bargain they wouldn’t have subjected themselves to potentially more severe and complex penalties that are undoubtedly much more onerous than the original little talk I proposed.” Dave shook his head. “Perpetrators never seem to learn, do they.”
Jay capitulated. “All right, all right! We accept the plea bargain as originally stated.”
“Huh?” Greg queried.
“Just say, ‘I agree.’ We don’t want things to get more complicated. Besides, it’ll be interesting to see if we learn anything from the talk.”
“Okay, I agree.”
“Good. Now let’s eat dinner before it either burns or gets cold.” Beth said.
After dinner the two boys lay across Greg’s bed. “I’m going to call Ryan Jenkins and talk about us sharing a ride to school with his dad, and after school they can share a ride with my mom.”
“Hey, that reminds me. That girl in my Library Science class, her name is Jennifer Jenkins. Ask if she’s related to Ryan.”
“Okay.” Greg dialed Ryan’s cell number.
“This be Ryan. Who be this?”
Greg laughed. “This be Greg Cameron. How you doing?”
“Good. Hey, Davis is here. If you guys don’t have anything to do, walk on over.”
“Sounds okay. Lemme check with Jay.”
Greg asked Jay about going to Ryan’s and he agreed.
“Assuming it’s okay with my folks we’ll come on over. Is this a good time?”
“Sure. I’ll turn on the backyard lights so you can see your way here.”
“Okay. If we get lost I’ll call you.”
“Be sure to bring a flashlight.”
“Thanks, that’s a good idea. Say, Jay says there’s a girl in his Library Science class named Jennifer Jenkins. Is she related to you?”
Ryan laughed. “Jennifer and I are twins. You’ll meet her tonight, Greg.”
“Okay, we’ll see you in a few.”
“Okay. See ya.”
Greg disconnected and put his cell to sleep, then told Jay that Ryan said Jennifer was his twin sister.
“We better wear jackets. It’ll be cold outside,” Greg advised.
They put on jackets, and Greg found his flashlight and checked if it worked. It did. They went downstairs and they went into the family room.
“Mom, Dad, Jay and I want to walk over to Ryan Jenkins’ house. He’s the guy we met at school today, and his dad’s the doctor that I saw at St. Mark’s Hospital. They live on Seacliff, that’s the next street over. We can get to their place by walking through the woods that are on the other side of the cul de sac. It’s a short walk, and I have a flashlight and Jay and I both have our cells in case we get lost.” He grinned, and Jay rolled his eyes.
“Alright. What time will you be home?” Beth asked.
“Let’s see, it’s seven thirty, so about nine thirty or ten. But no later than ten. Oh… Ryan and Davis get a ride to school from Doctor Jenkins. If it’s okay, I’m going to ask if we can go with them. That way you won’t have to drive me and Jay to school, Mom. Then would it be okay if you drive all five of us home after school? I’m pretty sure they take the bus and walk because Doctor Jenkins doesn’t usually come home until a lot later.”
“I think that’s a fair compromise. But what’s this ‘five of us’ — you said it would be you two and the two boys from Seacliff Drive.”
“Ryan has a twin sister, Jennifer,” Greg said.
“She’s in my Library Science class,” Jay added.
“Alright. I’d like to talk to Mrs. Jenkins. Do you have their number?”
“No. I have Ryan’s cell number, but not the home phone number.”
“Then ask her if she’ll call me. If she isn’t home, ask Mr. Jenkins to call me, okay? I want to be sure to talk to one of them.”
“Okay,” Greg replied. “We’re going to head over there now.”
After they said their goodbyes they left the house. There was a street light at the end of their cul de sac that lit up the entrance to the path into the woods. After a few feet along it became a dark walk, so Greg was glad he had the flashlight. After a couple minutes they saw the lights in the Jenkins’ backyard, found the gate, and entered. Ryan and Davis were sitting on the back deck waiting for them.
“Hi, guys,” Davis said.
“Hey, Davis, hey Ryan,” they both responded.
“Come on in,” Ryan said.
They were introduced to Ryan’s parents. Greg already knew Doctor Lyle Jenkins but Jay didn’t. They met Ryan’s mother, Gloria Jenkins, and Greg met Jennifer, Ryan’s twin sister. Greg shook hands with Gloria Jenkins, Ryan’s mom. Then when he shook hands with Doctor Jenkins, he joked, “You look sort of familiar.”
“I’m glad to see you again, Greg,” Doctor Jenkins said with a smile. “And this must be Jaydon?”
They shook hands. “Please call me Jay. It’s nice to meet you, Doctor Jenkins. Greg told me about how you took good care of him when he was at St. Mark’s.”
“Uh, before we do anything else, could I ask a couple questions?”
“Sure, Greg. What are the questions?” Doctor Jenkins responded.
“The first question is for Ryan. Do you, Jennifer, and Davis take the bus home from school?”
“We do almost all the time, unless we can con someone at school into giving us a ride. We ride to school with my dad,” Ryan said.
“Okay, since you just answered my second question about getting a ride to school, I have a proposal. My mom’s going to be driving me and Jay to and from school every day. If we could hitch a ride with you in the morning, Doctor Jenkins, then my mom will pick all of us up after school and drive us home.”
“I like that proposal,” Ryan said.
“Me too,” Ryan, Jennifer, and Davis each agreed.
“That sounds like an excellent idea,” Gloria Jenkins said.
“There is one problem. My folks travel on business a lot. So we might have to figure out some alternatives when my mom’s not able to drive us home.”
“I could probably fill in,” Gloria said, “assuming my twins won’t be embarrassed by having their mom pick them up after school.”
Ryan blushed. “I didn’t really say that, Mom.”
“Well, my offer stands, Greg,” Gloria stated.
“Okay, maybe it would work then. Uh, could you call my mom? She wanted to talk to you about this and just to talk, mom to mom. I wrote down our home number for you.” Greg handed her a piece of note paper with their number and his mom’s name.
“I’ll be glad to call her. Thank you, Greg.”
“Okay,” Ryan said, “let’s go to the rec room and maybe play some video games. How’s that sound?”
“Good grief,” Jennifer groused, “all you think about are your games. Where are your manners?” She turned to Greg and Jay. “Would you like something to nibble on and a Coke or some other soda? We’ve got a lot of different kinds.”
“Jennifer is right,” Ryan said. “Sorry for my lapse of manners. We’ve got chips and salsa, grapes, some homemade chocolate chip cookies….”
“Real homemade chocolate chip cookies?” Greg asked.
“Yes, I made them myself yesterday,” Jennifer replied.
“They are boss,” Davis said. “You gotta try them.”
“Okay, chocolate chip cookies for me. With a glass of milk, if that’s okay,” Greg said.
“Same for me too,” Jay added.
“Everyone follow me to the kitchen and we’ll grab our goodies.” Jennifer led the way and a few minutes later they were in the rec room where Ryan and Davis set up the Xbox One console and controllers.
“So, how about Deep Six Station?”
“I’ve never played that,” Greg said.
Jay shook his head. “Me either. I never heard of it.”
“Cool,” Jennifer grinned. “We’ll teach you how to play.”
A couple hours later Jay flopped onto his back. “That was fun!”
“I thought you’d like it,” Ryan told them. “I really like games where there is a story line, and it’s cool the way Deep Six Station changes the story according to what each player does in the game.”
“Is it okay if we come back this weekend and play it some more?” Greg asked.
Jennifer nodded her head. “Sure! I loved the way you two got into the game, especially since you’d never played before. It’s my favorite game, especially because it’s not girly.” The boys laughed at her ‘girly’ comment.
“How about Sunday afternoon?” Ryan suggested.
They discussed then agreed that one o’clock worked for all of them.
“We’d better get going,” Greg said as he stood up and yawned. “School tomorrow, and we told my mom that we’d be home by ten. Can we help put stuff away?”
“Nah. Jennifer and I know where it all goes.”
“Those were fantastic chocolate chip cookies,” Jay told Jennifer. “You oughta go into the cookie baking business.”
She blushed. “I prefer making them just for my family and friends.”
A short distance away Bob Porter was worried. Pete had left in a big hurry and hadn’t closed the garage door. It was wide open, the white Prius that Doris drove was parked inside, and Pete hadn’t returned. There were no lights turned on inside the house. Bob had a premonition that something was wrong. He walked across the street and up the steps to the front door. There was no response when he rang the doorbell. He knew it worked because he could hear it ring each time he pressed the button. He tried knocking with the same result. With no lights on it was too dark to see anything inside through the narrow window next to the door, even when he used his flashlight.
He walked back to his house and picked up the phone. He dialed the non-emergency San Bruno Police Department number.
“San Bruno Police. How can I direct your call?”
“Do you do welfare checks? I’m worried about my neighbor.”
“Yes, we do. Let me transfer you to that department.”
Office Morris Pender picked up the call. Bob explained his concern. Officer Pender checked his computer for calls to that address. What stood out was an emergency protective order issued against one of the residents, a Peter Medrano. He checked that name and found he had a record. He dialed the extension for dispatch.
“Do you have a patrol car that can do a welfare check at 149 Fleetwood Court?”
“Yes. We have a car within a mile of that location.”
He sent Dispatch the link to the report he’d entered so the patrolmen could see what Mr. Porter had stated. Satisfied that the check would be done within a half hour, Officer Pender closed his report then told Bob Porter that a patrol car would stop by that address.
Dispatch sent Patrol Car 26 to the address. Patrolman Lawrence Katz read the report to Officer Steve Regeant as they got underway. They didn’t expect anything serious. Someone probably forgot to close their garage door before they went to bed. Monday nights were usually quiet in San Bruno.
Thanks to Cole Parker for editing Bad Boy Gone Good
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