Curt's life takes a turn that he never expected, and he realizes that it's because he forgot something that didn't seem important at the time. He also discovers that others have forgotten things that are important and that turns out to both help him and hurt him.
Mature or distressing themes. This story deals with abuse.
Chapter 45 — Doctor Hillyer Part 3
I woke up at seven thirty and got up, letting Tom continue to sleep. I had enough time to get ready, have breakfast, and get to school for my Algebra 2 class at nine. There were only three classes left before the final exam. So far my grade in the class was an A. Since Don attacked me I’d been getting my assignments and turning in my homework on the Los Arcos High Blackboard system on the internet. I felt like I learned a lot and had gained a good understanding of both advanced algebra and trigonometry.
I wanted an A in this class. I needed an A in this class. I had straight-A’s in everything since I started the first grade in elementary school. My goal was to be admitted to Cal, the University of California at Berkeley. Stanford was second on my list. Now all I had to do is get straight A’s in all of my classes, especially the Advanced Placement classes that would give me both high school and college credit.
I also needed to work with a school guidance counselor to get all of my other requirements lined up. I’d been reading about what I should write about myself and my goals, and there was a lot of conflicting information. The school counselor should be able to help me decide what I should and shouldn’t include.
There seemed to be a big push to do volunteer work to include on my application. That’s something else where I needed help to decide what kind of volunteer work would be best. I had a couple of technical projects to work on, the website for gay kids and writing an app for smartphones. Those would boost my application to get into the Computer Science program at Cal. But neither of those was really volunteering, so I needed to check out what would be good for me to do.
Seemed like my life would be very busy for the next three years.
I got downstairs, dropped my backpack on the floor against the wall, and went in the kitchen and got the OJ and milk out of the refrigerator. Then I got a box of Joe’s O’s cereal, poured a cup of black coffee, and sat down to have my breakfast.
“Good morning, Curt,” Mrs. W said as she joined me at the table. “Is that all you’re having for breakfast?”
“Yeah. I found that if I eat too much and go to class I start getting tired. I sure don’t want to fall asleep the first time I’ll be in my Algebra 2 class in almost three weeks. I don’t think Mrs. Gibbs would be pleased.” I grinned.
“Are you concerned about going back to class after being out so long?”
“No, I’m good. I’ve kept up with the assignments and I’ve done all of my homework. I have A’s on all of that and on the weekly quizzes. I’ve been participating in the online forum for the class. I’m sure that I’ll be ready for the final exam.”
“When is that?”
“One week from today.”
“Oh, my! That’s very soon.”
“Well, including today there are three classes before the final. I’m prepared, I’ve already read up on the material that will be covered in these three classes. It’s just trigonometry, so it’s a slam dunk.” I grinned when I saw the expression of shock on her face when I said the work ‘trigonometry’.
“I’m so pleased with your dedication to your studies, especially with everything that’s happened to you in the past month. I’m proud of you, Curt.” She leaned over and hugged me, then kissed me on the cheek.
“I love you, Mrs. W. You’re like a second mom for me. You guys have been fantastic, giving me a home and treating me like I’m your son.”
“You know that we do think of you as our son, Curt. Now I have two sons I can be proud of. Just don’t you go telling Tom that I said I’m proud of him!” She started to laugh.
“You don’t have to tell me anything, Curt,” Tom said as he walked in the kitchen. “I heard it all. Now I’ve got a swelled head because my mom is so proud of me.” He kissed Mrs. W and sat down at the table. “Milk and O’s with a glass of OJ and a cup of coffee. Not what I’d call the breakfast of champions. However, I’m gonna have a bagel and cream cheese so I get some protein, so excuse me while I prepare my morning repast.”
“Sometimes I don’t understand boys. No, let me correct that. Most of the time I don’t understand teenagers, especially male teenagers.”
“You know, Mom, neither Curt nor I understand teenagers either, especially male teenagers. Think about how confusing it is for us!”
“So, there lies the root of your problem. You don’t understand yourselves. Good grief! No wonder my hair is turning gray.”
“Your hair isn’t turning gray, Mrs. W,” I told her. “I don’t see any gray in it at all.”
“Hmm,” she mumbled, “I think it’s time to get Curt to an optometrist.”
“I don’t see any reason to do that,” I joked. Tom groaned, but Mrs. W smiled.
“Hey, that was a funny pun,” I told Tom. He just shook his head.
I finished my breakfast, put my dishes in the dishwasher, said goodbye to Mrs. W and Tom, picked up my backpack, and left for school. It was a little over a mile and a half from the Williams’ house to Los Arcos High, and it took just under a half hour. There were no traffic signals, only houses and a half-mile segment on the Iron Horse Trail. When I got on the Iron Horse Trail I saw walkers, joggers, and adults and teens on bikes. Most people were friendly, waving and saying ‘hi’ as we passed each other or they passed me.
I felt something bump me on my butt. I turned around and laughed. It was Pat Rosas, Laura’s little brother.
“They take people’s licenses away for striking a pedestrian, Pat.”
“I don’t see any cops, so I’m good. Where are you going, Curt?”
“School. I’m taking Algebra 2 in a summer class.”
“You didn’t flunk it or something, did you?”
“No, I’m taking it this summer so I can take pre-Calc my sophomore year, that’s this fall, and AP Calculus my junior year.”
“Man, you must be some sort of math genius. I oughta get you to tutor me.”
I thought about it for a few seconds. Tutoring is volunteering, and that would look good on my application for Cal. “I could do that. What math will you be taking?”
“Once school starts give me a call and let’s see what sort of schedule I can work out with you.” We exchanged email addresses and cell numbers.
“I’ll walk with you to school. I’m going out for the swim team, and we’re doing our qualification practice sessions today. They’re always done in the summer so guys can be selected for the teams and know what they have to concentrate on during the fall and be ready for the season when the league swimming competition gets started.”
“That’s cool. What events are you going out for?”
“It’s a little early to tell. My best are the 100 Breast, that’s the breaststroke, 100 Free, that’s freestyle, and 100 Fly, that’s the butterfly. I do better on short distances and face down, as if you couldn’t tell. I’ve been swimming on the Parkside Swim Center teams since I was in the fifth grade. Now I’d love to be on a real team for Los Arcos. You oughta come to the pool after your class and watch the trials.”
“My class isn’t over until noon. Will you guys still be in the pool that late?”
Pat stopped and pulled out a card from his pocket. “I’m doing the Fly at half past twelve. Will that work for you?”
“Yeah, it will. Which end of the pool?”
“Aha! You know how the practices work. West end.”
“Yeah, I know how they work. You know Eric Antovich and Parker Hopkins?”
“Sure! They’re both amazing divers. You know them?” Pat replied.
“Yeah, the three of us have been friends since first grade. I came last year to see them practice.”
We walked along the trail for a couple minutes without saying anything, just enjoying the summer sunshine.
“Do you mind if I ask you something, Curt?”
“No, ask away.”
“How’d you break your arm?”
“My stepfather beat the shit out of me three and a half weeks ago. Broke my arm and punched me in my left eye and my chest. He was arrested and went to trial for child abuse. We’re waiting for the verdict.”
“Why’d he do that?”
“It’s a long story. But a neighbor claimed he saw me kissing a guy and my stepfather went apeshit thinking I was gay. He never even tried to find out, or ask me about it, he just came after me.”
“Are you gay? Oh, never mind. I shouldn’t ask questions like that.”
“I don’t mind telling you, just don’t tell anyone else, especially Laura, okay?”
“My lips are sealed.”
“I didn’t think I was gay when my stepfather attacked me, but lots of other stuff has happened since then and I realized that there’s a guy I know who I really liked, you know, that way. He was my best friend since middle school, and I found out that he liked me the same way I liked him. Now we’re not just best friends, we’re boyfriends too.”
“Cool. I’m gay too.”
“Really? Do your folks know?”
“No. You won’t tell anyone, will you? Especially Laura?” Pat laughed.
“My lips are sealed.”
We looked at each other and smiled.
“Do your folks know, Curt?”
“My mom doesn’t. She divorced my asshole stepfather so he isn’t my stepfather anymore and is totally out of the picture. I have to figure out how to tell her.”
“You know, you’re the first upperclassman I’ve ever met who’s gay.”
“I hate to spoil that for you, but I’m not an upperclassman. I’m going to be a sophomore when school starts up later this month. Upperclassmen are juniors and seniors.”
“Okay, then you’re the first older guy I’ve ever met who’s gay,” Pat said with a smirk.
“Older guy? Older guy? I’m only fifteen. What are you, like fourteen? How does one year difference make me an older guy?”
“Nope. I’m thirteen. That makes it two years, and at our age that’s, uh, let’s see, two divided by thirteen is…”
I interrupted. “It’s zero point one-five. Fifteen percent, if that’s what you were trying to calculate.”
“Damn! You did that in your head?”
“Sure. It’s easy. When I tutor you for geometry I’ll teach you how to do simple arithmetic in your head.”
“Cool! I’m soooo glad I met up with you today. You’re gonna be a huge help for me in math. It’s my worst subject.”
“So, how can you be thirteen and a freshman in high school? Did you skip a grade?”
“My grades aren’t good enough to skip any grades.” Pat grinned. “Get it, grades and grades?”
“I get it, I get it!” I chuckled. “So, what’s the reason?”
“I started first grade when I was five years old because of the California birthday rule. My birthday is December first. As long as you were born by December fifth they’d let you start first grade at five years old. They don’t do that anymore. So anyway, you’re two years older than me. Fifteen percent older. An older guy.” Pat giggled.
“Dufus!” I responded, and we both laughed.
“Let’s get back to your swimming practice for a minute. How long does the practice session last?”
“Ten a.m. to four p.m. But most of it is waiting for your events and then your group. Pre-freshmen like me always go last.”
“So you’d be on the freshman swim team?”
“I hope so. I’d really like that.”
“If you don’t mind my asking, do you have a boyfriend?” I asked him.
“Since you told me that you have a boyfriend, I’ll tell you that I have a boyfriend too. His name…”
I interrupted Pat and put up my hand with my palm facing him. “Don’t out him to me. That’s cool you have a boyfriend, but If he wants to be outed to me he should do it in person, okay?”
“Yeah, you’re right. That was stupid of me. Anyway, he’s, like, WOW! Freakin’ hot.” Pat touched his butt with one finger and made a sound, ‘tsssssss’ like he’d touched a hot pan. I laughed. That was from a scene in the comedy ‘Young Frankenstein’, a real old movie that’s in black and white. Even so it’s one of my favorite movies. It is so funny!
“Pat, when did you realize that you’re gay?”
“I think I always knew. When I was in second grade I started having dreams about playing with naked boys. I mean, there was no sex, we didn’t touch each other, we just played normal little kids games but in the nude. I found out that I liked to look at naked boys. Anyway, I didn’t know about sex when I was six or seven years old. But lots of kids in the playground liked to talk about sex stuff, and I’m a fast learner so I learned a lot. Most was crap, some was correct. So I’d go on Google and search for things and oh, my, god, did I learn a lot! When I was in fourth grade I showed my best friend a site I’d found and he really liked it. From then on we both wanted to look at sites like that and then we started messing around. So by middle school we were boyfriends and we still are.”
“I assume you’re not out with your folks or at school.”
“Good assumption. The only one who knows about me is my boyfriend. And now you. I’d like you to meet him if he’s okay with it. Is that okay?”
“Sure. You know, I’m wondering how you decided to tell me that you’re gay.”
“You’re a really nice guy. I know Laura likes you a lot. You’re not her boyfriend, but you’re like her best friend who’s a guy, and I heard her say that she trusts you. I saw you at Laura’s birthday bash and I wanted to talk to you but it was so hectic I never got a chance. So when you told me that your stepfather beat you up and broke your arm because he thought you were gay, well, that was a good opening and I went for it. I want to know someone that my boyfriend and I can talk to who knows a lot more about what it’s like being gay.”
“I’m not sure if I know a lot about being gay. But Pat, if you ever have any questions or problems you can come to me or call me or whatever. Okay?”
“Yeah, more than okay. That’s totally awesome.”
We arrived at the back side of the Los Arcos campus and entered the gate at the east end of the outdoor pool.
“Okay, Pat, I’ll be here at the other end of the pool around quarter after twelve.”
“Great. See you then.”
I got to my Algebra 2 class a little early. All of the kids in the class wanted to sign my cast and hear what happened.
Mrs. Gibbs called out, “Attention, attention!”
The class quieted down, and she made an announcement.
“I know you want to talk to Curt, but let’s leave that for our break at ten thirty. I’ll give you fifteen minutes then for Curt to answer your questions. You can also talk to him after class. But now it’s time for the delights and rigors of trigonometry. Please turn to page 549. Today we’re going to learn about trigonometric functions and how you can apply them to triangles.”
At the break I gave a very brief statement about what happened. “I was attacked by my stepfather and ended up in the hospital. The worst thing is my arm is broken in two places. I hope to have my cast off by the end of this month if it’s healing okay.”
Of course, there were a lot of questions, but I briefly answered each one without giving many details. My answers seemed to satisfy everyone.
At the end of the class I was able to leave after only a few more questions. I got to the pool around twelve twenty. I went to the west end and sat on the bench on the pool deck. There was no one else sitting there, but there were a bunch of kids and some adults in the bleachers along both sides of the pool where it was easier to see the competitive events. Pat saw me and waved. He was with a really cute kid and they were talking to each other. They both looked serious. Finally Pat bumped the other kid with his elbow and they walked over and sat on the bench, Pat next to me and the other kid next to him. It didn’t take much for me to guess he was Pat’s boyfriend.
The kid looked familiar, and I realized he was Callen Antovich, Eric’s younger brother.
“Curt, this is Callen.” Pat leaned back to we could reach across and shake hands.
“Hi, Callen. I know Eric, we’ve been friends since elementary school.”
“I thought you looked familiar. You come to our house sometimes, right?”
“Yup. So you’re taking after your brother and becoming a diver. I’ll bet Eric gives you a lot of pointers.”
“He’s a slave driver. We have a big pool in our yard with professional high dive boards. He makes me dive until he’s happy with my form. A slave driver.” Callen grinned.
Pat bumped Callen with his shoulder. “Tell Curt what we talked about,” Pat said. “He won’t tell anybody.”
Callen took a deep breath and let out slowly. He got up and moved over to my right side.
“Pat and me are boyfriends,” he said.
Pat leaned across me and told him, “It’s supposed to be ‘Pat and I are boyfriends.’”
“Jeez, lay off the grammar lessons!” Callen said, but with a big grin.
“Callen, I think it’s cool that you two are boyfriends. Congratulations to both of you.”
“You won’t say anything, right?”
“My lips are zipped,” I replied.
“Do you have a boyfriend,” Callen asked me.
Pat asked, “Do you think we could meet him someday?”
“Maybe, but that’s going to be up to him. I’ll ask him tonight and let you know, how’s that?”
“Cool,” Pat replied.
“Man, that’s so cool. I didn’t know there were any gay kids at Los Arcos. I thought we’d be alone like we were at Parkview Middle School.”
“There’s quite a few, and some of them are out. You might even know some of them.” Of course, Eric would know Parker Hopkins, one of the other divers on the swim team. “There’s also a GSA club. You ought to drop by one of the meetings once the semester starts.”
“I don’t know,” Callen said. “I don’t want kids to think I’m gay until Pat and I are ready to come out.”
“It’s not just gay kids in the GSA. GSA means ‘Gay-Straight Alliance’ so there are a lot of straight kids that go to the meetings. Also, no one has to say whether they are gay or straight or bi or whatever. In fact, almost no one announces what they are. The meetings are open to anyone, you don’t have to be a member. If you’re a member you get an email with the announcement about the speaker at the next meeting. There are a lot of interesting topics like how to handle a bully, the police sent a speaker who talked about their support programs for kids, and lots more. I think you’d enjoy them. I forgot, they have excellent homemade cookies and they are two for a quarter. That money supports the club.”
“Are you a member?”
“No, but a friend of mine is. I went to a couple meetings with her. She’s straight, by the way.”
We heard a whistle. “100 Fly for pre-freshmen in five minutes, get to your lanes and get ready,” Coach Canton yelled through his bullhorn.
“I’ll see you in a few!” Pat said.
“Good luck, Pat,” I said.
“Break a leg, man,” Callen called after him. Pat reached around and holding his hand behind his back gave Callen the finger. At least I assumed it was for Callen.
“When’s the diving, Callen?” I asked.
“How’d you do?”
“First place. Coach was saying he might move me up to JV’s or maybe even varsity.”
“That’s fantastic. See, Eric’s slave driving works, right?”
“Yeah, it does. What I want to do is get so good I can score higher in his favorite dives. That’ll show him!” Callen looked at me and grinned.
“Let’s go over to the bleachers and watch Pat in the 100 Fly,” I suggested. So that’s what we did, going to the top row of the bleachers where we could see the competition better.
There were eight pre-freshman kids trying for the 100 Fly event. Pat finished first, almost a full lane ahead of the rest of the kids. We applauded for him, but didn’t shout his name or yell. Having watched Eric’s diving tryouts I was aware of the expected decorum.
“Jeez! Did you see Pat’s time?” Callen asked.
“No, I missed it. I was too busy watching all he others surrounding and congratulating him, including Coach Canton.”
“He did it in 56.1 seconds. 56.1 seconds! You know what the national record is for the 100 Fly? It’s 49.9 seconds. You know what the school record for the 100 Fly is? 56.7 seconds. Pat broke the school record! I gotta get down there to be with him.”
I followed Callen but instead of going over to where Pat and his teammates were still celebrating his record, I went back to the bench at the west end of the pool. About five minutes later a beaming Pat and Callen joined me.
“Your 100 Fly performance was fantastic, Pat. Callen said it broke the school record.”
“Thanks. Too bad it won’t go into the record book. I’ll have to set the school record in an actual meet so it’ll be official.”
“That sucks,” Callen commented.
“Well anyway, Coach said it would be listed in the section for school records that don’t happen in a meet.”
“Do you think you made the team?” I asked.
“Damn right I did! Coach told me a couple minutes ago. I’m on the JV team, and if I can keep my times low he’s going to move me to the varsity. That would be so cool, being a freshman and on the varsity swim team, just like Callen’s going to be on the varsity diving team. Some of the guys on last year’s varsity came over and congratulated me and talked to me. They were great, said they hope I make the varsity team. The Los Arcos 100 Fly record is pretty old, and if I can keep swimming low times in Fly that’ll help the team win league this year. The fastest guy in the league last year did a 57.6 Fly. He graduated, and they don’t think there’s anybody coming up in the other schools who’s very fast.”
Pat stopped talking, took some deep breaths, and looked over at Callen. “I can’t wait until we get somewhere where I can hug you, Cal, really hug you. I need a hug and a kiss.”
I started to grin but I held it back. This was a real boy-boy problem, finding a place to go where you could share a hug and a kiss in private. Talk about something that sucks. I felt bad for Pat and Callen.
“Well, guys, I gotta get home. I have stuff to do this afternoon. I’ll see you around, probably when school starts. Pat, why don’t you give Callen my email and IM addresses. Callen, that way if you ever have any questions or problems or you just want to talk, send me a message or give me a call.”
“Hey, cool. Thanks, Curt. I’ll tell Eric I saw you today.”
“Yeah, say hi to him for me.
“You got it.”
I waved to the two guys then walked around the pool and headed home. I wanted to grab something to eat before we left for my three o’clock session with Doctor Hillyer.
I didn’t have to wait to see Doctor Hillyer. As soon as I arrived I was ushered into his office and we got started.
“Curt, I know you want to talk about the issues surrounding moving back with your mother today, But first I have a few questions I want to ask you. Is that okay?”
“The first is, do you have any questions or comments relating to what we covered in our two sessions?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “No, nothing I can think of. Maybe you can ask that at the end of today’s session. I might think of some things.”
“Alright, I’ll do that. Tell me about school.”
“Well, I go to Los Arcos High. I’ll be a sophomore this year. I love school. I get good grades, actually excellent grades. I have a straight-A average since first grade and I work hard to keep getting A’s in all my classes.”
“It sounds like you could be eligible to be the valedictorian for your class and give a speech at your graduation ceremony.”
“My guidance counselor said something about that. But my main reason for getting A’s in all my classes is so I can get into Cal. I want to be a computer science major. I’m starting to think about what else I need, like the letter that I’ll send with my application. I’ve gone online and there’s a lot of contradictory information about what to include in your letter and what to leave out, how long or how short it should be, do you include your Facebook address and password or not. It’s very confusing.
“Then there’s this whole thing about volunteer work. I’m not going to be able to do something like travel to the jungles of Borneo to teach kids to read or anything like that. You have to pay your own way and my mom can’t afford it. I want to focus on some sort of technical volunteering so it’ll help me be accepted in the computer science program at Cal. I hear it’s real tough to get in. So one thing is I’m going to help design and develop a website where gay kids can meet to chat about being gay and find online friends. We already have the domain name registered, and the brother of a good friend is a web whiz and he’s going to work with us to develop the site. My friend’s father is putting up money to get it off the ground, like paying for the domain name and the hosting service. Tom said I should get into writing apps for Android and iOS phones and tablets. So I’m going to look into that. But I was thinking that those aren’t really volunteering, they’re projects. Today I saw the younger brother of a friend of mine. He said he needed help with math. So I’m going to tutor him and register at school as a tutor for math and whatever else they need that I know. I think those are good choices for volunteer work.”
“Do you have a job after school and on weekend?”
“No. My mom told me that my grades are more important than spending time bagging groceries. Besides, until I’m sixteen it’ll be tough to find anyone who is willing to hire me.”
“What are your interests outside of school?”
“Hmm. I love to read. I have the Kindle and nook apps and I read books on my laptop, phone, and tablet. I found some sites that list the books that are free on Amazon, and I look for science fiction and mysteries and computer books that I don’t have to pay anything for.” I grinned. “Free fits my budget best.
“I like to write, too. Stories, fiction about teens. Like yesterday and again this afternoon, this kid gave me an idea for a story. Kids who are gay have a problem finding somewhere where they can be together. Sure, that includes where they can have sex. But how about just simple things like being able to hug each other, and kiss. So there could be an interesting story about two kids who are on the swim team at school and they are boyfriends. They end up getting caught by one of the kids on the team, and then there’s the whole thing about being outed at school and having to come out to their folks and how that works out.
“I’m into computers. I built my own desktop PC at home. I’m using my laptop at the Williams’. It’s too much of a hassle to try to bring my desktop to their house. So it sits there back at home running twenty four by seven as a server. I backup all my work from my laptop to my desktop using cable internet connections at each end. Everything is encrypted so my data is secure. I have a firewall at home so no one can hack into my PC. I run firewall software on my laptop so that’s secure too. So I could write that up and include it as an attachment to my application.
“Kids at school know I’m into computers so some of them ask for help when they’re having a problem. That’s another kind of volunteering I can list in my application letter, providing free technical support for kids at school.
“I like sports, basketball and skateboarding, swimming, tennis, throwing a football around or playing catch with a baseball. I haven’t been doing much because of my broken arm, but my cast comes off around the end of this month so I’ll be able to get into doing those sports again. I don’t have any interest in going out for a sport at school. It takes too much time and it would be almost impossible for me to take all of the AP courses I want if I had to spend lots of time going to practice and to games.
“I listen to music, usually when I’m reading. I wish I could go to rock concerts, but they are real expensive. I like almost everything except country and rap. I even like classical music and opera. I’d love to see some operas in San Francisco, but they are even more expensive than rock concerts.
“We go to movies, not a lot but when there’s something interesting like a new science fiction film or a good comedy I’ll go for that. I don’t watch much TV except CSI and NCIS a few other shows, but I don’t watch them every time they’re on. I watch the news sometimes, and we get two newspapers at the Williams’ house so I’ll read some of the articles and the sports news and the comics.
“I like to watch sports on TV. I sort of forgot about that because I’m mostly a football fan and football season is over. I like the 49ers and the Raiders, Cal and Stanford, and almost whatever is on Sundays. I watched the Super Bowl® and the American and National League playoffs, and of course the World Series. Go Giants! I also watch the Warriors and Cal and St. Mary’s basketball games.
“I play video games. I don’t have my own game console, but Tom has Xbox 360 so we play car racing games and Madden football. I’m not into shooter games or online MMO and MMORPG games.
“Let’s see. I can cook. I don’t get any opportunity at the Williams’ because Mrs. W is a great cook and she loves cooking. You should taste her fried chicken! I help her in the kitchen sometimes, and that’s fun because I learn more about cooking.
“I’ve been sort of rambling. Is this what you wanted?”
Doctor Hillyer grinned. “Yes, you gave me a lot of information. You have a lot of interests, and you’re obviously not fixated on any one or two of them. What about chores at the Williams’?”
“Oh, yeah. Tom and I share the chores he used to do alone. The biggest is the yard. They have a gardener so we don’t have to mow the lawn or trim the bushes. But we do water the plants. They have a lot of plants in pots and containers and they have to be watered by hand. There are a lot of trees in the back yard, so we have to rake leaves.
“I’m a neat freak. I got ragged on by friends when they’d come over and see my bedroom. Tom is too, sort of. I do have to remind him to put his dirty clothes in the basket in the bathroom. We keep the bathroom we use very clean. I hate dirty bathrooms.
“We help out in the kitchen, doing dishes after dinner. We wash the pots and pans by hand because they don’t fit in the dishwasher. We keep our rooms clean and we switch the towels and put them in the wash. We wash our own clothes and sheets and towels. We iron our shirts if they need it. They have a cleaning lady who comes in every Wednesday morning for a few hours and does the vacuuming and dusting and cleans the tile floors.
“All that’s not too different than when I was living at home, except I didn’t have Tom to help me out. And at home I had to mow the front and back lawns. Now my mom has the same gardener as the Williams taking care of the yard. If I move home I hope she’ll keep him.
“That’s about all the chores I can remember. Oh, except for taking out the trash on Tuesday nights and bringing the bins back in after they’ve been picked up on Wednesday.”
“Are you religious, Curt?”
“No. I’m not into the organized religions, especially the ones where guys get on TV on Sunday mornings and rant and rave about how homosexuals are going to ruin the good old U.S. of A. Then they ask people to send donations to help their cause. I’m talking big numbers here, people make donations of hundreds of dollars. That really sucks.”
“Tell me about your relationship with Tom Williams.”
“Well, we’re boyfriends. We really love each other. It’s not lust or puppy love or anything like that. We sleep together every night now, and Mr. and Mrs. Williams are okay with that. I guess you’d have to say we’re gay, but it’s also different. I might notice other guys if they’re cute, but I don’t stare at them and drool or want to get in their pants. Tom’s the same way. I guess a way to describe it is that we’re monogamous. When I look at him or when we’re in the same room doing different things I sort of tingle all over. Touching his body makes my hair stand up on end. It’s not like I always get hard when we do it, I just feel so comfortable and safe when we’re together. Of course, it feels really good when we’re touching each other’s bodies, like rubbing each other’s back or arms.”
“Tom is African American. Is that a problem for you?”
“Nope. I don’t care about race or nationality or anything like that and I never have. Tom’s skin is such a beautiful dark black color. He just… glows. When he smiles his teeth are so white and his lips are sort of pinkish black and he has these little freckles you can barely see across the tops of his cheeks. I can tell when he blushes. I’m the only person other than his folks who can do that. His eyes are so expressive. He’s the best kisser in the universe, at least for me. And he’s sexy, very, very sexy.
“Tom is funny. I can always tell when he’s trying to mess with my mind as part of a big joke. His dad says that if he can’t do anything else he can become a standup comedian.” I chuckled. “I know his dad’s just pulling his chain because I’m obviously a much better comedian than Tom. Just kidding.
“Tom’s an athlete. He was on the varsity baseball team last year, as a freshman, and had the top batting average and the most home runs. Too bad that our pitching sucked or we would have won more games. He’s also a good football player and he was on the JV team last year as a halfback. He’s a good basketball player, at forward or guard. But he says one sport is enough so he’ll only go out for the baseball team this fall even though the football coach has been after him.”
I laughed. “I guess you can tell that, as Mrs. W said to me, I’m smitten with Tom. That is so true, but it’s more than just being smitten. We’re in love with each other. We say ‘I love you’ to each other all the time. We’re going to have to watch that when school starts the end of this month. We hug and kiss at home, but we try to keep it at a minimum in front of his folks.”
Doctor Hillyer looked at his notepad then back up at me. “So moving in with your mother might curtail how much you see Tom and you might not be able to sleep with him?”
“Right. I think my mom needs to come to counseling sessions with you so you can explain how much Tom and I love each other. You can tell her about what’s involved in having a gay son.”
“Do you think that there’s any chance that you might stay with the Williams?”
“No. I think that my mom would have a fit. Anyway, the temporary guardianship will be over once the trial is final. What I want is to be able to spend the night at Tom’s sometimes and for him to stay at my mom’s house sometimes. I want her to know that I’m gay and in a permanent relationship with Tom. Mrs. W says we’re partners, like being married. We’re both comfortable with that.”
“Is she going to have a problem because you weren’t out to her when your stepfather was arrested for attacking you? He did it because he thought you were gay. Now you admit that you’re gay.”
“I didn’t think about that. You’re right. Shit… uh, excuse me. What can I do?”
“Truth is always the best course of action. You need to sit down with your mother and tell her that you’re gay and that you and Tom are boyfriends.”
“What if she freaks? She could say we’re moving away, or refuse to let me see Tom.”
“Part of the truth is that you didn’t know that you are gay until after the trial was over.”
“Okay. But how is that going to help?”
“Let’s say your stepfather didn’t attack you, that it never happened. Would you and Tom be in love the way you are now?”
I thought about that for about fifteen seconds; I watched the second hand on his clock as I was thinking.
“No, I don’t think it would have happened the way it did. I probably wouldn’t know that I was gay, either. But how’s that going to help me? If I say to Mom ‘You turned me gay by forcing me to move in with the Williams,’ she’ll say, ‘Okay, then I’m going to move you away from him so you can become straight again.’”
“So becoming gay was your choice?”
“That’s not what I’m saying… or is it. Damn, I don’t know.”
“Being gay is something you were born with, Curt. Despite the rhetoric you hear on TV, being gay is not a choice. Being gay is genetic. Where, and why, it’s in your genes no one knows yet. It doesn’t appear that there is a specific gay gene. It’s more likely a combination of genetic markers that directs someone to prefer a partner of their own sex.
“What about bi? Is that something I could have been born with?”
“There’s a theory, untested so it’s unproven, that sexuality is a continuum with heterosexual — straight — at one end and homosexuality — gay — at the other. In the middle is bisexuality. So, in a way you can think of it as a yardstick. The theory is that you can be anywhere along that ruler, so you might be mostly straight and somewhat gay or the opposite or somewhere between gay and bi. I think it’s a reasonal premise. So if the only male you’re attracted to is Tom, you could be somewhere between bi and gay.
“For this discussion, to keep things simple, let’s assume that you’re gay.”
“Curt, your mother is a nurse. She should be easier to convince that you were born gay, and that you’ve just recognized that in yourself. How often have you dated a girl?”
“We go out with a bunch of friends, it’s about half boys and half girls.”
“That’s not what I meant. I mean a one-on-one date, where it’s just you and a girl.”
“Never. Well, I’ve gone to movies with Laura. But she’s like my best friend. We think of ourselves more like we’re brother and sister.” I left out the part where Laura told me she knew that I was gay. I left it out because she recanted her comment. How’s that for a legal definition?
“Is that normal for a fifteen year old teen? How about your friends at school who are in your class. Do they date girls?”
“Yes, some of them. Maybe most of them.”
“Do you ever get kidded about not going out on dates?”
“What did you tell them?”
“That I’m real picky and I haven’t found a girl I like enough to go on a date. Sometimes I’d say that all the girls want to do is, excuse my language, fuck, and I’m not into that because of my church. That my church happens to be the ‘Church of Curtis Fischer’ is something kids at school don’t have to know.”
“I want you to think about this, Curt. We’ve been edging toward what could be a solution for you. First, you agree that you’re most likely going to move back to your mother’s house, right?”
“And you figured out that you’re gay, that you were born gay.”
“Your mother is a nurse. She certainly has been exposed to the concept that kids are born gay or straight.”
“Right. I hope.”
“It’s a combination of everything that’s happened since your stepfather attacked you. You never dated. You suppressed realizing that you are gay. You know now that you are gay and that you were born that way. Your mother knows that’s the current science. You found out that your best friend is also gay. You fell in love.”
“But why did it take me so long to find that out? A kid I know that I saw today is thirteen and he knows he’s gay. He said he knew it when he was in second grade for god’s sake. Here I am at fifteen and a half and I’m just discovering that I’m gay? Does that make sense?”
“Of course it makes sense. It’s like puberty. Puberty usually occurs in a series of stages between the ages of nine and fourteen for boys, though it can range between the ages of eight and seventeen. For a boy, knowing that they are gay usually occurs between the ages of twelve and sixteen, though it can range between the ages of nine and twenty. So knowing that you are gay at fifteen is in the normal range.”
“Will you talk to my mom? Explain this stuff about me to her?”
“Yes, but you’re the one who has to talk to her about meeting with me.”
“Do I have to tell her that I’m gay before she meets with you?”
“Yes. I can’t see her if you haven’t told her that you’re gay. To use gay vernacular, I can’t out you to her. That violates my professional and personal ethical standards. But you can preface your announcement by telling her you’ve been seeing me for counseling sessions, and you think it’s important that she meet with me. She will probably ask you why it’s important, and you can tell her it’s because you realize now that you are gay. Curt, I think that might be a very emotional meeting between you and your mother.”
“Yeah, I think it would be.”
“Let me ask you a question. Did your mother ever ask you if you are gay?”
I sat there for a while, stunned, because his question never occurred to me. I also realized that she never asked me herself.
“No, I can’t remember that she ever asked me if I’m gay.”
“There is a possibility that your mother knows, or suspects, that you’re gay. You might be surprised when you talk to her.”
“I did testify that I’m not gay, though. That was sort of a lie, wasn’t it?”
“That’s something you should discuss with your attorney. Was the issue of your being gay a major factor in the case?”
“I’m not sure. Beth Wolman, she was the prosecuting attorney, pushed the idea that Don had what she said was a propensity to violence and child abuse, and that was why he should be found guilty. The defense used the ‘gay panic’ idea for their defense, and lied about me attacking Don and injuring myself. It was the defense that asked me if I was gay, and I said no. But at that time I still didn’t think that I was gay.”
“As I suggested, you need to talk to your attorney. Ask him if the outcome of the trial would have been different if you had answered ‘yes’ when you were asked by the defense attorney if you were gay.”
“Actually, we did talk about it. He didn’t think it would be a factor because I was so unsure about whether I was gay or not.”
Dr. Hillyer wrote on his pad for a while, then looked up at me.
“Okay, what’s next?” I asked.
“The ball is in your court, Curt. You have to talk to your mother. If she agrees to have a session with me, then give her my name and number. Here’s one of my cards you can give her.”
I chuckled and shook my head. “And here I thought you’d solve all of my problems about whether to move in with my mom or stay with the Williams.”
“I think I did just that, Curt.”
That was a big surprise. I looked at him then thought about it. “You know, you’re right. I had lots of options before, and now it’s down to one and how I can make that one work for me.”
“Good. I’m glad you see that path for yourself. You’re very good at planning, Curt. So plan what you’re going to say to your mother and how you’re going to say it. Practice with Mrs. Williams. I think she will be a good listener and editor for you. Then talk to your mother and give her my card. If she wants to see me, she will contact me.”
“What if she wants me to be in your session with her?”
“That’s fine. If you have an objection to doing that, or if you have any questions, call me and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”
I stood up and held out my hand. He stood and we shook hands. “Thank you, Doctor Hillyer. You’ve been a big help. I liked our sessions together.”
“Thank you, Curt. I find you to be a remarkable young man. You have a good handle on what you want out of life and how to get there. I expect that you’ll do fine when you talk with your mother.”
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