Forgetting Can Be a Big Mistake by Colin Kelly

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 47 — Pat and Callen

So Mrs. W said she did check on me and Tom in bed from time to time. So she saw us…. Oh! My god! That means…. I felt my ears start to get hot so I knew they’d turned red like they always do when I’m blushing a lot.

“Hey, what about me?” Tom asked his mom. “Is it just Curt who you find beautiful when you come sneaking into my bedroom at night?”

“Of course not, Tom,” she replied. “Remember, I called you the Sleeping Beauty twins. But you are and always will be my beautiful little boy.”

She grinned, and I could see Tom start to blush through his dark black skin. That made me feel better, and my ears started to feel less hot.

“So you admit that you sneak into my bedroom at night,” Tom asked.

“I refuse to answer on the grounds that it might or might not incriminate me,” she responded.

Tom turned to me. “That’s what I get for having a mother who’s the wife of an attorney.”

“And,” I added, “you can’t refuse to answer on the grounds of something incriminating or not incriminating you.”

“What Curt said is correct,” Tom said.

Mrs. W shook her head. “My lips are sealed. So, what do you two want for breakfast?”

Tom and I sat down to breakfast and I told him my ideas for Kyle’s going home party on Saturday.

“Okay, here’s one of the things I thought we could do. Kyle hasn’t seen his mom or sister for almost a month. We’ll set up a Skype call to his mom and show it on the big screen at Mrs. Hutchins’.”

“But he’s going home on Monday and he’ll see his mom and sister then,” Tom objected.

“Yeah, but we’ve never seen his mom or sister, and this will let him introduce us to them and them to us and to see some of his friends.”

Tom thought for a few seconds. “That’s actually a good idea, Curt. His mom and Mrs. Hutchins can meet each other too.”

“I forgot about Mrs. Hutchins. That’s very cool too. And we’ll invite Kyle’s Aunt Lauren, if she’s back from Japan or wherever she’s gone for her job. Well, that covers the adults. Here’s who I thought we’d invite. Kyle and Mark, of course, plus you and me. Then Parker, Ray, and Laura. We should ask Mark who else should be invited.”

“Okay, so the guest list is all set,” Tom said, “or will be as soon as you talk to Mark. So what else? Seeing Kyle’s mom and sister live from Illinois isn’t the only thing we’re going to do at the party, is it?”

“No. Remember how Laura’s dad got those video games and controllers for her birthday party? I thought I’d ask Laura if we could get a couple for Kyle’s party. Or, since the weather’s going to be nice we could go to the park and play Frisbee and play a little two-on-two or three-on-three basketball. Or instead of going to the park I could ask my mom if we could shoot hoops in her driveway, since Mrs. Hutchins doesn’t have a basketball hoop on her garage. Trouble is, I don’t think any of these are very high up on Laura’s list of things she’d like to do. If she’s the only girl, that leave her odd man out. Or odd girl out.” I grinned. “Of course, I’m not saying that Laura’s odd, ya know.” Now Tom was laughing, and so was Mrs. W. That made me chuckle.

“Mrs. W, you’re a female, what can we do that Laura would like to do?”

“Don’t you drag me into this, Curt. It’s your party, you two figure it out.”

“I know what Laura likes to do,” Tom announced.

“What?”

“Go shopping!”

“And how many guys like to go shopping?” I asked Tom.

“Other than me, probably close to none,” he replied.

“Let’s skip ahead to the food. I thought maybe a couple extra-large pizzas from Extreme. And a salad, maybe coleslaw. And sodas to drink.”

Tom looked at me like he thought I was nuts.

I looked at him, totally confused. “What!?”

Two extra-large pizzas? Two? Only TWO?

“Have you ever seen those suckers?” I asked him. “They are humungous!”

“Not humungous enough. I say get three. That way we can have some variety. We’re gonna have six, seven people and that doesn’t include Mrs. Hutchins and Kyle’s aunt. We don’t want to look cheap.”

“Yeah, true that,” I replied. “So let’s get four extra-large and that way Mrs. Hutchins can freeze some for her and Mark to eat some other time.”

“Now that’s a plan, Curt, that’s a most excellent plan!”

Mrs. W shook her head. “Tom thinks with his stomach, Curt, and he has you thinking that way too. Now, the two of you, one thing you haven’t discussed is where you planning to have this little party for Kyle. Have you decided?”

“I’m thinking it should be a surprise party at Mrs. Hutchins’ house. She and Mark can keep Kyle busy Saturday morning, and the rest of us show ups and holler ‘Surprise!’ I think that would be a fun way to start the party.”

“How about this as an idea,” she said. “Have it here. We have the pool out back, and there’s a basketball hoop over our garage door, and it still can be a surprise if you invite Mark and Kyle to come over to go swimming and everyone else is already here and they shout ‘Surprise!’. Laura can use the pool with the guys who want to swim, so that provides at least one thing she can do.”

I looked at Tom, and he nodded. So I got up and hugged Mrs. W, and told her, “Thanks. That’s a great idea. I never think about your pool because it’s such a hassle to keep my cast wrapped up so it doesn’t get wet.”

“Okay! Thanks, Mom,” Tom said. “Now we have to figure out who’s gonna pay for the pizzas and sodas.” He grinned and wiggled his index figure at his mother.

Mrs. W grinned. “Don’t worry about who’s going to pay. Kyle has been here to help Curt, and Curt is part of our family. So your father and I will cover the expenses.”

“That’s real generous, Mrs. W,” I told her. “Now what I have to do is phone some people and make sure they’re available on Saturday.”

I called Parker, Ray, and Laura. They were all available and eager to come to Kyle’s going home party. I reached Mark at school. I’d forgotten he was taking classes to catch up on his studies after his problems in Las Vegas. But it was okay, he was between classes.

“So, what did you want to talk about, Curt?”

“Tom and I decided to host a going home party for Kyle on Saturday at Tom’s house. They have a pool, and we’ll have pizza and stuff to munch on. You’re invited, of course, and we’ve invited Parker, Ray, and Laura. I wondered if there are any other kids that Kyle knows who I don’t know that we should invite.”

“That’s really cool of you guys. My grandma and I are taking him out to dinner on Sunday, so having a party on Saturday is great. There are some kids I met who are going to summer school and we get together with Kyle and go see a flick, and we play tennis and shoot baskets. Maybe you know some of them. There’s Alex Smith, Tony Coralo, Drew Brock, Heather Grodden, Janice Brown, and Davis Kellerman. I’ve seen all of them at school today, so I can ask them.”

“I know Alex and Drew. Do the girls, Heather and Janice, shoot baskets with you guys?”

“Yes, and they’re better than most of us guys. Present company excepted, of course.” Mark laughed.

“Can you let me know how many can come to Tom’s on Saturday? That way we can be sure to have enough pizzas and sodas. We’ll start around eleven so it’ll be warm enough to go swimming. There’s a hoop on Tom’s garage so we can shoot baskets and play some two-on-two or three-on-three basketball. The Williams’ have a big back yard and some of it has trees that keep it shaded, so people can just hang out.”

“I’ll catch whoever I can at school, and anyone I miss I’ll call when I get home this afternoon. Then I’ll call you and let you know the body count. Does Kyle know about this going home party?”

“No, we thought that maybe we could invite the two of you to come over to go swimming, and everyone else would be here already to make it a surprise for Kyle.”

“I like that. Kyle and I have gotten real close, like brothers, and I think he’ll be really surprised. I like the idea of telling him that the two of us are going to Tom’s to go swimming on Saturday. So maybe I should tell the ones I invite to be at Tom’s at ten thirty?”

“Yeah, that makes sense. You have Tom’s address and phone number, so you can give it to the ones you invite?”

“Yup, I’ve got his info in my cell.”

“We thought we’d invite Kyle’s aunt, assuming she’s back from Japan or wherever she went on business.”

“She’s still in Australia. She won’t be back here until the middle of August.”

“That’s too bad. Anyway, that reminds me, we’re inviting your grandma to the party too. She can get together with Tom’s mom.”

“That’s great. She’s almost as sorry to see Kyle go home as I am, and being at his going home party will be important for both of them.”

 “There’s something else I thought we’d do. We’ll set up a Skype call to Kyle’s mom as a surprise so he can talk to her and his sister and they can see Kyle and you and a bunch of friends he’s made here, and we can all see the two of them.”

“That’s cool. Kyle talks to his mom and Melissa using Skype on my laptop, so I’ll ask Grandma to bring it with her on Saturday.”

 “I’m glad that there are two girls that you’re going to invite. That way Laura won’t be the only girl at the party, and the two you invite won’t be the only two girls there either.”

“I’m glad Parker is going to be there.”

“Really?” I asked, trying to stifle a giggle.

“Dufus! Anyway, thanks for asking him.”

“You guys seem to be doing great together.”

“Yeah, we are.” I heard a bell in the background. “Hey, gotta go. That’s the bell for class to start. I’ll talk to you this afternoon. Bye.”

“Okay, bye.”

I sat down with Tom and Mrs. W to go over the list of who’d probably be there. It added up to thirteen. Hopefully, it would be a lucky thirteen. Mrs. W decided that we’d stay with the four pizzas and that we’d get a box of wings to go with, along with two quarts of coleslaw from Sprouts.

I phoned Mrs. Hutchins and told her about the going home party for Kyle, and formally invited her to come over. She accepted, and said she would call back and talk to Mrs. Williams about what she could do to help. She also said she’d bring Mark’s laptop when she came on Saturday. She gave me Mrs. Campbell’s phone number in Niles, Illinois, and said I should call her around four thirty our time.

When I finished that call I got a call. It was Laura.

“Hi, Laura.”

“Hi, Curt. Hey, can I add one to your list of invitees?”

“Sure. Who is it?”

“Sara. Her folks are coming down for a vintners meeting, and Sara talked them into bringing her to my house on the way. It’s not really on the way, the meeting is in San Francisco, but it’s not too far out of their way. Anyway, she’ll be here Friday afternoon and we have Saturday and most of Sunday free so she said she’d love to come to Kyle’s going away party.”

“Excellent. It’ll be great to see her again.”

“Say, should I bring a going home gift for Kyle?”

“No, we don’t think gifts are needed.”

“Not even joke gifts?”

“If it’s like almost free then it’s probably okay. What were you thinking of as a joke gift?”

“I found a big map of the Bay Area in a box in the garage. It’s plastic coated and all folded into a small cube. No one uses it, so I thought it would be cute to give to Kyle so he can find where he was living while he was here.”

“That is cute. I say it’s a go. We’ll contact the others and say if they want to do a basically free joke gift that would be fun. I’ll have to think up something I can get him. Oh! I just thought of something. You know those ‘Welcome to Los Arcos High School’ flyers they have in the office? I think I have one in my school stuff here and I’ll give that to him.”

“That’s a fun gift, Curt. Well, I gotta run. Sara and I’ll see you on Saturday. Bye.”

“Bye, Laura.”

I told Mrs. W that it would probably be fourteen at the party because of Sara. I called Parker and Ray and told them to arrive at ten thirty on Saturday, and that gifts aren’t necessary but if they wanted to give an almost free joke gift that would be okay, and I told them the joke gifts that Laura and I were giving Kyle. Then I called Mark and left him a voicemail about the joke gifts, and asked him to grab a few of the ‘Welcome to Los Arcos High School’ flyers and bring them to me because that’s my joke gift for Kyle.

I checked the time. It was almost quarter after ten. Time for me and Tom to get ready to go downtown for our lunch with Pat and Callen.

~~~<<>>~~~

Tom and I approached the Chicken and Waffle place at five after eleven. Pat and Callen were sitting at the outside table I’d suggested, waiting for us. They were looking down at a menu and would glance at each other every so often and giggle.

We walked up and stood at the front of the table across from them.

“Hi, guys,” I said. What’s so funny?”

They looked up and stared at Tom, then at me, and smiled.

“Someone wrote in this menu and some of the stuff is really funny. So Curt, this is your boyfriend? How about introducing us.”

“Pat and Callen, this is Tom Williams. Tom, This is Pat Rosas and this is Callen Antovich.”

They stood up and shook hands with Tom, and grinned, and Tom and I sat down.

“You guys order already?”

“No, except for these Cokes. We’ve been looking over the menu and reading the comments in Pat’s menu.”

“Lemme see.”

Pat handed me his menu. The comments were silly, like they’d been written by a fifth-grader. I smiled and handed it back.

“So, have you decided what to order?”

“Uh, no, not yet,” Pat replied, “we thought it would be better to wait for you guys.”

“Well, you can order anything you want,” I said. “Remember, I’m paying.”

Tom and I read the menu.

“I’m gonna have the chicken and waffles combo,” Tom said.

“Me too,” I added.

Pat ordered the same thing and Callen ordered waffles with bacon on the side.

While we waited for our food, I asked Pat and Callen to tell Tom how they met. They went into a long description going back to elementary school. Tom asked a bunch of questions, showing that he was interested.

The food arrived and we all concentrated on eating. We asked Pat and Callen about being on the swim team, and how they were doing, and they repeated what they’d told me about making the JV team, something I’d forgotten to tell Tom.

After we finished eating Callen asked, “How did you guys meet and how did you decide you’re gay?”

“Well,” Tom replied, “it started when my folks and I moved here from Pleasanton. I went to Parkview Middle School, and it was the same old ‘new kid’ thing with nobody talking to me. Except Curt. He walked up and asked if I was a newbie and I said yes and he grinned and said ‘Welcome to Parkview’ and we ate lunch and discovered that we lived fairly close to each other. We went to his house after school and he pulled out his Xbox but instead of playing a game we just sat on the floor in his bedroom leaning against the side of his bed and talked for a couple hours. We talked about books and music and TV shows and movies and sports and our families. His mom asked if I wanted to stay for dinner, I called my mom who was freaked because I hadn’t come home from my first day at school but she talked to Curt’s mom and it was all okay. I stayed for dinner and we were friends from then on. We just sort of became best friends without any ‘Gee, let’s become best friends’ sort of thing. It just happened. Okay, Curt, your turn now.”

“I think he wants me to talk about how we became boyfriends. We were both absolutely certain that we were straight…”

Tom interrupted, “Excuse me, but I wasn’t ‘absolutely’ certain, just plain and simple certain with some reservations. Okay?”

I grinned. “Yeah, yeah. So, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, we were just plain and simple certain with one of us having some reservations that we were straight.” I explained what happened with Vanvelick and then Don attacked me and broke my arm, and then my mom wouldn’t believe that Don did it to me, and because of that I moved out and Tom’s dad, who’s a lawyer, became my lawyer and got temporary guardianship of me and I moved into their house.

“Then things between me and Tom just sort of happened. We got some clothes and my laptop and books and other stuff from my house that I’d need, and when we got to his house Tom helped me unpack in the guest bedroom which was now my own room. I was sort of emotional. I’d just moved out of the house where I’d lived most of my life, my mom didn’t believe that Don attacked me, and I’d moved into Tom’s house with him and his folks.

“First it was a kiss. Tom saw how upset I was and pulled me into a hug. It was exactly what I needed, and as he pulled away I leaned in and kissed him, a real short kiss but on the lips. He smiled and kissed me, a lot longer and a lot more intense than I’d ever done. Then we had this little conversation. It’s something I’ll never forget. He said, ‘Bet that’s never happened to us before, being kissed by a guy,’ and I replied, ‘No, and it was nice,’ and he said. ‘Yeah, it was nice,’ and we kissed again. Then his dad came into the room and said, ‘Excuse me boys.’ I just about freaked, and tried to pull away but Tom pulled me back into another kiss, right in front of his dad, then took my hand and turned around and said, ‘Hi, dad.’”

Pat and Callen’s eyes were open about as wide as they could be.

“Oh my god, what happened then?” Pat asked.

Tom replied, “My dad asked if we were hungry and wanted something to eat, and we said yes and went downstairs and had cold fried chicken. Sort of like what we’re having for lunch, except it was better than this fried chicken. Hey, my mom made it so hers has to be the best!”

I continued. “We still claimed that we were straight, but then we kissed at other times and one thing led to another and we finally admitted that we’re gay.”

“I always suspected that I might be gay,” Tom said. “What sealed it for me is that I fell in love with Curt the second or third day after I met him in middle school. I didn’t say anything to him because I was freaked that he’d stop being my friend, and that was the most important thing for me.”

“If Tom had told me that he was gay, I’m not sure how I would have responded. Probably, ‘Okay. So what do you want to do now, shoot some baskets?’ or something like that. He was my best friend, and no way was I going to let him go.”

“So, you’re in love with each other now?” Callen asked.

“Yes, I’m absolutely certain about that,” Tom replied.

“And for me too, I’m absolutely certain,” I emphasized.

The waitress walked up and asked us if we’d like anything else.

“What desserts do you have?” Pat asked.

“Well, the cook just pulled some pecan pies out of the oven. You can have it plain or with vanilla ice cream for a dollar more,” she replied.

“Oh, pecan pie, please,” Pat said. “I love pecan pie. And just plain, please.”

“Do you have whipped cream?” Tom asked, “real whipped cream, not the kind in a can?”

“Yes, we do,” she replied with a grin.

“Then I’ll have pecan pie with whipped cream, and a cup of coffee, please.”

“Make that two, please, with the whipped cream and coffee,” I said.

“Make that three, please, except no coffee for me” Callen said.

“Can I ask a real personal question?” Callen asked after she left, “You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”

“Well,” I said, “let me decide after I hear your question. What is it?”

“Do you guys,” and here he switched to a whisper, “have sex?”

“Yes,” I whispered in reply, “do you guys?”

Callen looked at Pat, then they whispered simultaneously, “Yes.”

“In fact,” Pat said out loud, “like I told you yesterday, Curt, that’s a big problem for us, finding somewhere where we can go that’s private and where we won’t get caught.”

“We use our bedrooms, but that’s not private enough,” Callen said.

“And we use the pool house in my back yard, but that’s not private either,” Pat added.

“Unfortunately, we can’t help you guys with that,” Tom said. “You’re on your own, I’m afraid.”

“Would it be easier if we came out to our folks?” Pat asked.

“No,” I replied, “it might become harder if you come out.” Pat, Callen, and Tom burst out laughing.

“What?” I asked Tom. He smirked then shook his head. He stuck his fist out with his thumb extended straight up. That helped me realize what I’d said.

I grinned and looked at all three of them. “Jeez, guys, grow up! You two are going to be in high school in a few weeks, so it’s time to drop the juvenile humor. And Tom is already in high school, but that doesn’t seem to make any real difference as far as he’s concerned.” That made them laugh and giggle and poke each other even more.

“Curt,” Tom said, “It’s your juvenile humor that we were laughing at.”

“I didn’t say that on purpose,” I said, trying to look disgusted.

“You gotta admit,” Pat told me, “It was pretty darn funny.” He grinned at me, then poped me on my arm.

“And you not realizing what you said made it even more funny,” Callen said.

“Alright, I guess it was funny. And embarrassing, for me!”

The waitress brought out our big slices of pecan pie and we spent the next few minutes demolishing the best pecan pie I’d ever eaten in my life. While Tom and I slowly drank our coffee, Pat asked another question.

“How can we tell if and when it’s okay to tell our folks that we’re gay?”

“Oh my god, there’s the big, fat, gay question,” Tom said. “I don’t think Curt and I know either of your families well enough to give you an answer that would be right for your situations.”

I suggested, “I suppose you could feel them out when someone who’s gay is on TV, that sort of thing.”

“I don’t know,” Callen said. “That seems sort of… what’s the word… contrived, that’s the word. It seems contrived to me.”

“Pat, I just had sort of a wild idea,” I said. “Sit down with Laura and tell her.”

“Oh my god!” he shouted, drawing the attention of the other diners. “Sorry,” he said in a softer voice, “but that is such a horrible idea.”

“I don’t think so, Pat. Back when Tom and I were saying we were straight, Laura told me she thought I was gay and that Tom was gay too and my boyfriend. Laura and I had a fight over what she said, I denied it, but she said she didn’t care if we were gay or straight or whatever.”

I saw from Pat’s expression that he was about to state the usual ‘But I’m her brother and that’s family’, so before he could do that I said, “I think she’ll be extra supportive because you’re her brother, and you’re family. I think it’ll work. Then the two of you can figure out how to tell your folks. Promise me that you’ll think about it.”

“Okay, I promise that I’ll think about it,” he replied. I didn’t think he look convinced, but maybe after thinking about it he’d actually talk to Laura.

I turned to Callen, “Sorry, I don’t know your family well enough to be able to tell you what to do.”

“You know,” he said, “I think Eric will support me. He has some gay friends on the swim team from last year, and he knows some other gay kids at school. He tells me about them sometimes, and he always seems like it’s okay that they’re gay. I’ll think about it and come up with a way to introduce the subject and talk to him about gay kids. Oh, I know! I’ll tell him that I wondered if the gay kids he knows at Los Arcos have any problems at school. Once we start talking I’ll ask him if it’d be okay with him if I was gay. If everything goes the way I think it will, then I’ll ask him about how to tell my folks.”

“That’s a great idea, Callen!” Pat exclaimed. “I can use that line on Laura, I’ll just word it different. Hey, thanks loads Curt and Tom. You’ve helped us decide how to come up with a way to tell our families that we’re gay and boyfriends.”

“I’m glad you guys have an approach to tell someone in your family that you’re gay as a start,” Tom told them. “Just take it slow. There’s no big reason that you two have to come out to everyone in your family, and especially no reason to come out at school. Like my mom likes to say to me about things, ‘Don’t rush headlong into anything, take your time, figure out what’s going on first,’ and that’s good advice.”

“I agree with Tom, especially the at school part. Join the GSA, get to know the kids there, figure out who you are and how important it is to out yourselves to others. Make a lot of friends first. You’ll meet a lot of new people at Los Arcos, not just the ones you know from middle school.”

The waitress came and got the bill and my cash. “It’s starting to get crowded, so we should leave so someone else can use this table.”

We stood up and Pat came over and gave me a big hug and Callen hugged Tom, then switched and Callen hugged me and Pat hugged Tom. They were grinning.

“You’re not embarrassed that we hugged you guys?”

“No,” I said, “why should we?”

“Most guys don’t like other guys to hug them,” Callen said. “Especially out in the open like where we are.”

“Yeah, that’s other guys,” Tom told him. “Besides, you guys are really cute and it’s fun being hugged by you.”

Callen blushed, and that made all four of us laugh as we walked down the street towards downtown.

“What are you guys going to do now?” I asked.

“I have a practice session with Coach Canton,” Pat replied. “He wants to help me improve my breaststroke time.”

“I’m going home to work on some of my dives with Eric,” Callen said. “After that I’m going to bring up the gay subject with him.”

Pat bit his bottom lip. “I’ll have to find a good time to talk to Laura. I don’t want to just spring it on her unless there’s an in when we’re talking. What are you guys doing?”

“Nothing special,” Tom said. “I bought some new clothes yesterday, and I need some more T’s and some new bikini briefs.”

Pat turned around, stopped, and stared at Tom. “You wear bikini briefs? How? I mean, how do you keep your nuts from being crushed and to stay inside them?”

“I get the kind that have a big reinforced pouch in front like you guys wear when you’re swimming. That takes care of both those problems.”

“Okay, I understand that. But then how do you pull it out to pee?”

“I don’t,” Tom replied and watched Callen and Pat’s expressions and grinned, then continued. “I pull them down so the front is below my nuts and then it’s out and I can do my business. Then I pull them up and stuff everything  back in and close things up.”

“I’ll stick with boxer briefs,” Pat responded. “A lot less work, in my opinion.”

Everyone heard my phone’s ringtone, a cut from the song If I Die Young, and I answered with their laughter in the background.

“Curt, this is Michael Williams. Where are you now? Is Tom with you?”

“Hi, Mr. Williams. We’re downtown, walking toward Nordstrom. Tom’s with me. We just had lunch with Pat Rosas and Callen Antovich.”

“Exactly where are you? I need to pick you up. I got a call from Beth Wolman. It appears that there’s a decision in Don’s trial and she wants to meet with us.”

“Wow. That’s great. Uh, we’re at the southwest corner of Main and Mount Diablo Boulevard.”

“Okay, stay there and I’ll pick you up in about five minutes.”

“Will do. See you in five.”

“Bye.” He ended the call so I did the same and put my cell back in my pocket.

“Okay, guys, Tom’s dad is going to pick us up right here in about five minutes. So I guess we’ll see you at school. That’s what, about three weeks from now. If you need to talk to either of us just call our cell numbers. Do you two have Tom’s cell number?”

They didn’t, so they exchanged numbers with Tom.

“We’ll see ya,” Pat said. “Thanks for everything, guys. You’ve been fantastic. Someday we’ll pay you back by taking you two out to lunch.”

“Ditto that,” Callen added.

They headed up Main Street and I explained to Tom what his dad told me.

“So it looks like we’ll learn what the verdict is today?” he asked.

“I hope so.”

We had to wait about ten minutes for Mr. Williams. He pulled up to the corner and we got in.

He told us what happened.

“First, the Judicial Panel sent an advisory to Judge Young that they had come to a unanimous decision and wanted to hold the session in court tomorrow morning. Beth wants to talk to us about the process.

“Second, Brian Cooley and Colton Brown said they would like to hear a plea bargain from the Prosecution. Beth wants to talk to you two about that.”

“Wow,” I said, “things are starting to wind down. That’s a good thing, I think.”

“Yes, Curt, it is a good thing.”

As we drove to our meeting Tom and I, with comments from Mr. Williams, chatted about football and the draft picks and trades that the 49ers and Raiders made and whether any of those improved their teams enough to be contenders this year.

We got to Beth’s office in about twenty minutes. The receptionist took us to a small meeting room and we sat down. Beth arrived in about a minute or so and sat down across from us.

“Thanks for coming on such short notice. First, the session when the Judicial Panel’s verdict will be announced is tomorrow morning at nine thirty in courtroom seven in the Bray Courthouse. I assume you want to be there, but it’s not required, but strictly informational. Because I know you’re going to ask, I don’t know the verdict. After the announcement by Judge Young, he will either release Don if the verdict is not guilty, or schedule a sentencing hearing if the verdict is guilty. There are options, for example the decision could be guilty of a misdemeanor, or it could be guilty of a felony.

“Assuming it’s a guilty verdict, the sentencing hearing will be scheduled to be held in Judge Young’s court. Judge Young will determine the sentence based on the findings of the Judicial Panel and his interpretation of the applicable laws of the State of California. The sentencing hearing will probably be scheduled in one week, but it could be longer, perhaps as long as three weeks from now.

“I assume you’ll attend the session tomorrow morning.”

Both Tom and I said “Yes!” I added, “I’m sure that Kyle Campbell will attend as well. I think it means a lot to him. He’s  going back home to Illinois on Monday.”

“He won’t stay if there’s a sentencing hearing?” Beth asked.

“No, he has to be home for the start of school. The sentence isn’t as important for him as it is for me.”

“Alright. The primary reason I wanted to meet with you today is that Colton Brown and Brian Cooley are pressing for a plea bargain.

“The charges against Colton Brown are misdemeanors. The most serious of these misdemeanors is Resisting Arrest, and he’s being charged under California Penal Code 148PC. He could be sentenced to up to one year in prison if found guilty, but most likely the judge would reduce the sentence to probation and community service. The other misdemeanor is under Penal Code 422PC, Criminal Threats. That’s when he threatened to eject you from the tennis court you were using, and the other when he threatened you as he left the tennis courts. These are also unlikely to result in a prison sentence. We are willing to accept a plea bargain of six months’ probation for each offense to run concurrently, and five days community service for each offense to run consecutively, plus a cumulative fine of $2,000.00.

“The charges against Brian Cooley are also misdemeanors. The Resisting Arrest charge is also being charged under California Penal Code 148PC. In his case it’s unlikely to result in a prison sentence. We decided to file his attempt to assault you, Tom, under Penal Code 240PC Assault as a misdemeanor because he attacked you, and struck you, Tom, but you were able to fend off his attack and defended yourself by hitting him once and disabling him. We could have charged him with Penal Code 242PC Battery because he actually struck you when you fended off his attack. Since that’s a little iffy because you weren’t injured and did not request medical attention, we decided to go the misdemeanor Assault route because we’re more likely to win that and might not win a Battery charge which is also a misdemeanor but with a higher fine. We are willing to accept a plea bargain of one year probation for each offense to run concurrently, and five days community service for the Resisting Arrest charge plus ten days community service for the assault charge, plus a cumulative fine of $2,000.00.

“Michael, here are written summaries of the pleas bargains. Please discuss these with Curt and Tom and let me know if you have any suggestions. You know that plea bargains are decided solely by the Prosecutor and their staff, and that we engage the victims of a crime for informational purposes only.”

“I understand, Beth. I’ll talk to Curt and Tom now.”

“Let the receptionist know when you’re ready to talk to me.”

“I will.”

With that Beth left the meeting room and closed the door.

“Why don’t we read these plea bargains, then we can discuss them,” Mr. Williams told us as he handed me and Tom copies of the two plea bargain documents.

I started with the one for Colton Brown. The penalties were the only part of any interest for me. Except for more legalese the penalties had the same wording as the summaries Beth Wolman read to us.

I read the one for Brian Cooley, and the penalties had the same wording as the summaries Beth read to us.

I handed them to Mr. Williams, and noticed that Tom also had finished reading his copies.

“Do either of you have any questions or suggestions for either of these plea bargains?”

I shook my head and said, “No.”

Tom said “Just one question. What Brian Cooley did is worse, he tried to hit me and did strike my arm. But his fine is the same. How come?”

“The fines are set for each misdemeanor. There are two misdemeanor charges against each of them, and the misdemeanor fine is $1,000.00. Notice that Brian Cooley has longer probation and longer community service.”

“Okay, there’s a question I just thought of,” I said. “Why doesn’t the plea bargain specify where the community service has to be performed? Like at Los Arcos High School?”

“The community service will be determined by the judge, based on recommendations from the Prosecutor. I assume Beth will recommend the community service be performed at Los Arcos high, but you should ask her that question. However, I assume she will have to get approval from the school district and the principal of Los Arcos High School.”

“When will this go in front of the judge?” Tom asked.

“Like Beth said, it’s typically one to three weeks, depending on case load. It can be fast-tracked, but that’s unusual.”

“Are those guys out on bail?” I asked.

“Most likely they have been released on their own recognizance, without having to post bail. It depends on what the Prosecutor asked for and what the judge decided was necessary and fair.

“Should I tell the receptionist that we’re ready to talk to Beth?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “Sure.”

Tom said, “Yes.”

When Beth joined us I asked my question about the community service, and she said the same thing that Mr. Williams had said. There was one difference, which she explained.

“We have a standing agreement with the school district and the principals of all of the high schools, including Los Arcos High School, so we don’t need to apply for permission. The community service times at the high schools are from four p.m. to six p.m. on weekdays and nine a.m. to five p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and all service is done outside of buildings. So, for example, cleaning the quad or the outside eating area next to the cafeteria, or the stands in the football stadium, or trimming bushes, things like that.”

“That’s wicked!” I said. “I love it. It’s just too bad that they can’t be made to clean the bathrooms.”

Beth grinned. “I’m afraid that would be defined as cruel and unusual punishment, Curt.”

“True that!” Tom said.

“Well, if there aren’t any more questions, I’ll see you tomorrow morning. Again, it’s going to be in courtroom seven in the Bray Courthouse.”

“We’ll see you tomorrow morning,” Mr. Williams told her.

********

We got back from our meeting with Beth Wolman at about quarter to three. I read for a while then at four-thirty called Kyle’s mom. I told her that the decision of the Judicial Panel was unanimous and would be announced tomorrow morning at nine thirty our time. She gave me her email address and I said I’d send her the verdict. She wanted to know when Don would be sentenced if he was found guilty, and I said we’d also find that out tomorrow morning.

Then I told her about the going home party for Kyle on Saturday. She was really happy that we were giving Kyle a party.

“We already use Skype video to talk to Kyle, so we can be here whenever you want on Saturday. Remember, we are two hours later than you folks in California.”

“We thought we’d do it in the afternoon, around three our time. Will that work for you?”

“Yes, it will. How many kids are going to be there?”

“Around fourteen, ten guys and four girls, including Kyle. There are five of us who live close to Mrs. Hutchins where Kyle is staying, and Mark is inviting some of the kids that he and Kyle know from Mark’s summer school classes.”

“And this is going to be a surprise party?”

“Yes. The Williams have a pool, and we’re going to invite Kyle and Mark to come over to go swimming on Saturday at eleven. The others will all get here at ten thirty, and we’ll all be outside around the pool when Kyle and Mark get here, and we’ll shout ‘Surprise!’ when they come out back.”

“That’s wonderful. Thank you for doing this for Kyle.”

“We’d rather that you and Melissa move here than have Kyle go back to Illinois. We’ll miss him.”

She laughed. “He’s going to miss all of you, too. I know he’d prefer to live there, but that’s not possible. This is our home, and my job is here. Anyway, thank you again. If there’s anything I can do, let me know.”

“Okay, I will. We’ll have Mark set up the Skype connection with you on Saturday. We’ll hook the video up to the Williams’ flat screen TV. Then we’ll have Kyle and the others come inside, and that should be a big surprise for him.”

“It sounds like fun, Curt.”

“I think it will be a lot of fun, mostly for you to see some of the friends he’s made here.”

“I’m looking forward to it. I need to say goodbye so I can get our dinner ready.”

“Okay, thanks Mrs. Campbell. Bye.”

“Goodbye, Curt.”

Okay, what’s next? I thought about what I hadn’t done yet, and I remembered I was going to get with Mrs. W to practice how to tell Mom that I’m gay and Tom’s my boyfriend. I got up and looked for her. I found her in the side yard watering plants.

As I walked over to where she stood I said, “Hi.”

“Why, hello, Curt. How are you?”

“Good. Will you have some time this afternoon? I’d like to do that practice that we talked about yesterday.”

“I’m almost finished here. Why don’t we meet on the back patio in ten minutes.”

“That’s good. I’ll see you there. Can I help?”

“No, I’ll just put this watering can in the utility room on my way to see you.”

“Okay.” I smiled, then turned and walked to the back patio and sat down. Then I remembered that I’d forgotten the script I wrote. I got up and went to my room and got the script and went back downstairs.

Mrs. W sat down across from me. “So, how do you want to do this?”

Suddenly I was all nervous about practicing what I’d say to Mom. I started to tell Mrs. W things she already knew.

“We’ve  already talked about how I’ll have to move back home once Don’s trial is over. We found out that the Judicial Panel is going to announce their unanimous verdict tomorrow morning. If he’s found guilty, there will be a sentencing hearing in the next three weeks. That would end the trial then. If he’s found innocent, he’ll be released immediately and that would end the trial tomorrow. So I’ll be moving home real soon.

“I’m gay. Tom and I are boyfriends. My mom doesn’t know that. Yet. This practice is so I’ll know how to tell her. Doctor Hillyer told me that I need to do it and do it before I move back with her. It’s going to be tough, Mrs. W. I need to say everything right and not get all emotional or defensive or argumentative or whatever. So I’d like you to play the part of my mom. Is that okay?”

“Yes, Curt, it is. Why don’t I get started.”

She changed her voice so it was higher, closer to my mom’s voice. “‘Hi, Curt. How was your Algebra 2 class today?’”

“Mrs. W, since I’ll be talking to my mom before I move back, there wouldn’t be the normal kind of questions she’d ask me when I come home from my Algebra 2 class. So maybe the best way is for me to start.”

“Alright, I think that’s a good idea. Go ahead, Curt, you start whenever you’re ready.”


[Continued]


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