Bashed (by Grant Bentley)


By Grant Bentley

If any nice person, nasty person, place, event, happening, thing, or sport, seems familiar, it is purely coincidental.

We think we’re the advanced ones, but bullying and hate are two human qualities that I think keep us close to the bottom of the evolutionary scale. Thankfully, the actual bottom dwellers aren’t in the majority as Julian and Quinn learn when Julian gets bashed.

I knelt down beside the small balled up figure on the floor. I could barely comprehend what I was seeing. Fifteen minutes ago we were sitting in the theatre with TJ and Sue, laughing our asses off. Julian had excused himself to go to the washroom. When he hadn’t come back in ten minutes, I went to look for him.

His jeans and what was left of his shirt were covered in blood. A narrow gash ran down the side of his face. Both his eyes were turning black and swelling shut. His lip was split. His nose had obviously been broken and was bleeding badly. His body, what I could see of it, was turning into a mass of huge ugly bruises. I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid if I tried to move him I might injure him even more.

Suddenly, everything started happening real fast and it was kind of a blur after that. The theatre manager, a paramedic waiting for another movie to start, and a nurse who had been buying popcorn, suddenly appeared and they were doing what they could to make sure Julian was able to breathe and to stop the bleeding.

I glanced up and saw my best friend TJ come up beside us. He knelt down and wrapped his arm around my shoulders as I blankly stared at my boyfriend, laying in a pool of his own blood. As soon as I felt TJ’s touch, I fell apart and began sobbing uncontrollably. TJ immediately pulled me in tighter to his body. Poor Sue just stood near the doorway staring at Julian. After several seconds she slipped in, came over, and stood beside TJ with her hand on his shoulder.

"He'll be okay Quinn,” TJ said quietly, “He’s being well looked after and an ambulance is on its way.”

It wasn’t five minutes before two paramedics rushed in wheeling a stretcher. Right behind them were two police officers. The theatre manager and the nurse immediately got out of the way and the paramedics went to work. The nurse then came over to TJ and me and began to help him calm me down. A minute later, my parents and Julian’s parents came rushing into the washroom. Julian’s mom immediately burst into tears and his dad and my mom tried to comfort her. Dad came straight over to TJ, Sue, and me, and wrapped his arms around me. I guess Sue had called them.

The police talked to the theatre manager and the nurse. Then they came over to us and asked a bunch of questions I can’t even remember now. They were really good though. They gave Dad their cards and said they would like to talk to us when it was more convenient for us. They then started questioning the ushers and others who were standing around.

The nurse patted my leg, smiled, and said, “He’s going to be hurting for a while sweetie, but he’s going to be okay.”

I just looked at her for a second and simply said, “Thanks.”

A few minutes later, the paramedics had Julian on a stretcher and were wheeling him out. They had explained to his dad that they were taking him to the Foothills. It was a matter of minutes before Mom and Dad were driving Julian’s mom and dad to the hospital. TJ, Sue and I were right behind them. When we got to the ER, a nurse got Julian’s dad to fill out a couple of forms. She then explained to them that they would be checking him out for broken bones, like his ribs and facial bones, and they would be thoroughly checking for any signs of internal injuries or bleeding. They would also have to stitch up the cut on his face, make sure his eyes had not been damaged, and realign his nose. She said it would be at least a couple of hours before anyone could see him, anyone being immediate family, his mom and dad.

After an excruciating two and a half hours, a young doctor came out and asked to speak to Julian’s parents. He explained all they had done. Miraculously, he had nothing broken other than his nose. He had no internal injuries and his eyesight seemed fine. He was definitely going to be in pain for a few days and pretty sore for a while after that. He had a concussion which they were going to monitor closely. When it came time for them to go into the ER and see Julian, his mom reached out for my hand and told them I was Julian’s brother.

The doctor looked at me, smiled, and said, “You must be his brother Quinn…right?”

I didn’t say anything. I just smiled back at him and nodded.

I spotted Julian on the bed by the window as we walked in the room. I almost lost it when I saw him. I would have if his mom hadn’t squeezed my hand so hard it hurt. His arms were laying outside the covers and were covered in bruises. He had a wide bandage down the side of his face. He had a bandage across his nose. His eyes were black and so swollen it was hard to tell if he was awake or not.

As we approached the bed, we heard him barely whisper, “Quinn?”

"Go to him Quinn, he needs you right now, probably more than he needs us," his mom whispered.

I nodded my head and as I approached him, I took his hand in mine. As I did, I got a very weak squeeze back.

“You’re mom and dad are here too,” I said quietly.

He turned his head very slowly and very slightly towards his mom’s voice as she said, “Hi sweetie,” and took his other hand.

He was on some pretty powerful pain killers, so there wasn’t a lot of conversation. His dad asked him if he was needed anything to which he answered he didn’t think so right now. His mom and dad stayed for about an hour. When they announced we should leave and let him get some sleep, he squeezed my hand.

"Don’t leave me Babe," he whispered.

Just then, a nurse came in, checked him over, and gave him a shot. The faint slit of his eyes closed and he relaxed his grip as I held his hand. A minute later he was fast asleep.

“You should probably go home and get some sleep too. You’ve had a pretty stressful evening as well,” she said as she patted my arm.

“I don’t want to leave him,” I said.

“Don’t worry. He’ll sleep through the night,” she said, “You’ll be lucky if he’s awake when visiting hours begin in the morning.”

“You sure?” I questioned.

“Yes, I’m sure,” she replied, “Now you go get some sleep. You’ll need it for tomorrow. If you’re going to keep him company all day. You wouldn’t want to fall asleep, would you?”

I looked at his mom and dad. They both gave me a smile and his dad said quietly, “Come on Quinn. She’s right. He’ll need you tomorrow and you’ll need your rest if you’re going to be able to last the day.”

I finally gave in and went with them. I didn’t sleep much though anyway. All I could think of all night was Julian.

I was there first thing the next morning. After finding out what room he was in, I was waiting outside the room for visiting hours to begin.

“You really love that boy, don’t you?” a voice asked.

I spun around to see who it was and if he was talking to me. It was the young doctor we had spoken to yesterday.

“Of course,” I replied, “He’s my brother.”

That response got a big grin from him as he patted my shoulder and said, “Uh huh.”

All I could do was grin back. He knew, and there was no point arguing.

“Let’s see how he’s doing,” he said as he led me into the room which I was surprised to see was a private room. Surprised and pleased, as we could be affectionate and wouldn’t have to put up with some asshole roommate’s homophobic crap.

When I took Julian’s hand, he looked up at me and said, “Hey Babe,” and the doctor actually laughed out loud.

When Julian glanced at him and asked, “What?” I explained that we had told them I was his brother so they would let me into the ER to see him.

The next thing he said was, “Ow.” I guess even a tiny chuckle was enough to make his bruised ribs to hurt.

“I guess calling you Babe kinda blew your cover…Ow,” he added with as much of a smile as he could manage.

“Uh, yeah, just a little.” I replied.

“Ow, it hurts,” he said as he put his hand on his ribs.

“I’m afraid it’s going hurt for a few days yet,” the doctor warned him…and me.

He then spent a several minutes checking Julian over. I just stood to one side holding his hand. Then as soon as the doctor left, I leaned in and gave him a gentle kiss. For the next hour or so we simply sat holding hands. We did chat a little about the movie, what we were going to do when he got out…stuff like that. I didn’t question him about what happened in the washroom as it didn’t seem like he wanted to talk about it and I didn’t want to upset him. I figured there was time for that later.

Later, as it turns out was now, because now was when the doctor came in with the two police officers from the theatre. The doctor first asked Julian if he felt strong enough to answer their questions. When he said he was, the doctor introduced them as Constable Warring and Corporal Jacobsen. Corporal Jacobsen was the first to speak. He explained that the sooner they could identify the attackers the better. He also told Julian that if he started to get tired, to say so, and they would come back later.

Obviously, his first question was, “Do you know who attacked you?”

“Yes,” Julian replied, “It was Walter Melnyk, Harvey Thorpe, and Rick Jones.”

“You’re absolutely sure?” he asked.

“Yes,” Julian replied.

“Only those three?” he asked, “No one else was there?”

“Just those three,” Julian told him.

The next question came from Constable Warring. “Do you have any idea why they would attack you?”

“They’re homophobic bullies,” I said. “They attacked him because he’s gay.”

“That’s a pretty bold statement,” Corporal Jacobsen stated.

“It’s true,” I said, “They’ve acted threatening towards us for months. In fact Walter was expelled from school last month for beating up Jamie Reed in the locker room after Phys Ed. He said Jamie was a faggot because he looked at him too long.”

“You boys are together then, and they know it?” he asked looking directly at our joined hands.

“Yes,” was Julian’s simple answer.

“So you’re out at school?” he asked.

“Yes,” we both answered.

“Did any of them make homophobic slurs during the incident?” Constable Warring asked Julian.

“Yes,” Julian replied.

“Can you recall what they said?” Corporal Jacobsen asked.

“Walter started it as soon as they came in and saw me,” Julian responded, “He said, ‘Looks like we got ourselves a faggot to play with.’ Then Rick said, ‘Play with? Fuck that. Fuckin’ fudgepacker doesn’t deserve to live.’ Then he punched me in the stomach causing me to double over. ‘Yeah faggot, see if you like this,’ Harvey yelled and he kicked me in the face. I hit my head against the wall and it gets kinda fuzzy after that. I remember them yelling ‘faggot’ a lot and ‘kill the bastard.’ But mostly I was trying to protect myself. Then nothing till I woke up here.”

Corporal Jacobsen then looked at Constable Warring and said, “I think we have all we need for now. Thanks boys.”

“It’ll be my word against theirs though won’t it,” Julian asked.

“Not really, we have video surveillance from the theatre lobby and the washroom open area,” Corporal Jacobsen said, “Everything is on tape. We needed names to go with faces, and motive. You gave us those. Now, we’ll be picking up the boys and laying charges.”

“What will they be charged with?” I asked.

“Definitely aggravated assault causing bodily harm, as a hate crime,” Corporal Jacobsen replied, “With your statement, the Crown Prosecutor may choose to upgrade the charge to attempted murder. We’ll see.”

With that, they left. Lunch, such as it was, arrived a few minutes later and with it Julian’s mom. About thirty seconds later, TJ and Sue walked in loaded down with burgers and shakes from Burger Baron.

“You guys aren’t going to eat that in front of me...Ow... are you?” Julian asked as he looked at whatever was under the warmer thingy or sneeze guard or whatever it is they always put over hospital food.

“We’ll share,” Sue responded.

“I don’t think I’m supposed to share,” Julian said.

“We don’t want you to share,” TJ said laughing as he looked at whatever it was Julian had uncovered, “But we’ll share.”

“Ow…don’t make me laugh…Ow,” Julian responded holding his chest, “I don’t think I’m allowed to share your food either…Ow.”

“We asked at the nurses’ station and they said you’re not on a restricted diet so we can share,” Sue replied.

“Seriously?” Julian responded.

“Yep,” TJ replied.

We spent the next half hour chatting and consuming not-hospital food. Since they didn’t know who would be here, they had bought enough for six so Julian’s mom was right in there. Even one of the nurses stole some fries and half a burger when he came in to see how Julian was doing. Since he was just starting his lunch break, he stayed and chatted with us for quite a while.

Julian’s mom stayed for about an hour and said she and his dad would be back later. TJ and Sue stayed for a couple of hours before they headed off. That left just Julian and me. Hopefully alone, for more than five minutes. However, with everything going on, Julian was pretty tired and within those five minutes, he fell asleep.

As I looked down at him sleeping, I couldn’t help but shed a few tears. Why would anyone want to hurt someone as beautiful, gentle, and caring, as Julian? Hell, he even watched the sidewalk when he was walking half the time so he wouldn’t step on any ants. Now he’s lying here barely recognizable. Why? Because he’s in love with me instead of my sister.

God, when will people figure out that who you fall in love with is no big deal? It’s not like our being gay affects them in any way. I think it’s sad when their lives are so shallow and meaningless that they need to force their narrow-minded bigoted views on others to give themselves a reason for existing. I can’t imagine what it would be like if all you do with your life is hate.

Of course, he had only been asleep for about twenty minutes when the doctor and a nurse came in and woke him up so they could examine him again. This time I was asked to leave for about half an hour. As I was walking down the hall, my mom and dad stepped out of the elevator. My brother and sister, Miles and Karen were with them. When I told them we would have to wait for a while, they decided we should go for a coffee.

“How’s he doing? Mom asked as soon as we sat down.

“He seems pretty good, considering. He tires real easy though,” I replied, “TJ and Sue were here for a couple of hours and brought burgers and stuff from Burger Baron. He had to be careful and eat real slowly though. And, every time he laughs, it hurts. His mom was here for an hour or so too.”

“How about you?” Dad asked, “How are you holding up?”

“I’m okay,” I replied, “Tired, but okay.”

“I hope they put those bastards in jail for twenty years,” Miles stated emphatically, “And I hope they each end up sharing a cell with some really lonely lifer.”

“Miles!” Mom scolded, “Watch your language young man. And where on earth do you pick up things like that?”

“Well I do,” he simply replied, as Dad, Karen, and I tried not to burst out laughing…not very successfully though.

“I think we’re going to start monitoring your internet and television time,” Mom said with a grin, “Twelve year olds these days know far too much.”

“Mom!” he exclaimed.

“Don’t worry,” I said, “I’ll cover for you,” and I got a big grin from him.

At that point, we decided to head back up to Julian’s room. As we were walking down the hall, the doctor and nurse were just coming out of his room.

"Well Quinn, Julian should be cleared to leave tomorrow afternoon,” he said smiling, “And then, as long as he doesn't overdo it, he’ll be ok."

Julian was just a little bit excited when we walked into his room.

“They said I can go home tomorrow! Ow!” he exclaimed as we walked in the room.

“Yeah I know,” I said just as excitedly, “The doctor just told us. But you can’t be doing too much and overdo it.”

“I won’t,” he replied, “But I just want to be home sleeping in my own bed so bad.”

“I know,” I said as I leaned over and gave him a kiss.

We visited for about an hour before he started to get tired. Mom and Dad decided to leave and go home. I decided to stay as long a visiting hours would allow me. I sat in the chair beside his bed and just held his hand as he fell asleep. He slept for more than an hour and woke up just as his mom and dad walked in the door. We chatted about him going home, about school, about guys like Walter, Harvey, and Rick and why they hate us, but mostly about him going home and the things he would need to do as he healed. It was getting close to dinnertime so his mom and dad decided to go down to the cafeteria. They asked me if I wanted to join them but I said I’d rather keep Julian company. His mom said that they would bring me something when they came back.

“Don’t forget to bring me something too,” Julian said, “A guy could starve to death eating what they give you here.”

“Okay,” his dad said laughing, “We’ll bring you both something.”

When the orderly or whoever brought Julian his dinner, it actually looked pretty good. But, like he said, there wasn’t much, three little slices of roast beef, two little potatoes, some diced carrots with a little bowl of jelly stuff for desert, and a glass of apple juice. When his mom and dad came back, we had a burger and a milkshake each. I guess his dad ran over to Burger Deluxe after he finished eating in the cafeteria. We stayed and visited until visiting hours were over and his mom and dad gave me a ride home.

It was all over school when I got back on Monday and I was bombarded with questions. What happened? Who did it? Will he be okay? When will he be back? Can anyone go and see him? I also got, I’m so sorry, I hope he’s okay, I prayed for him, I hope whoever did it rots in hell, and so on. Within five minutes, I had a huge handful of ‘Get Well’ cards to deliver. I think it took TJ, Sue, and me ten minutes just to get to our lockers.

Because Julian was in hospital, I had permission to keep my cell phone on vibrate during classes. In the middle of English, it vibrated. I looked at it and it was Julian. I put up my hand and told Mr. Reagan that Julian was calling me and asked permission to take the call. He didn’t even hesitate to say yes.

As soon as I answered it all the kids in class started to yell, “Hi,” “Hope you get better soon,” and a whole bunch of other stuff.

Mr. Reagan told them to settle down and let me talk. Julian was excited that all the kids had yelled out to him and asked me to say ‘hi’ back which I did. Then he said he was just calling to let me know he was home. I told him I would be over as soon as school got out and we said goodbye.

Everyone was really excited that he was home and the room was buzzing. Mr. Reagan just laughed as he said, “Okay I give up. The last fifteen minutes are yours.”  Of course he was right in there joining the conversation about Julian being home and everything. In fact, he told the kids that Julian wouldn’t be back any time soon. He said that all the teachers would be sending Julian’s work home and his dad would be hiring a tutor until he was healthy again.

Every day for almost two weeks, two or three kids from school visited him. Julian was really touched that nearly every kid in our class made the effort to visit him. Of course I was there everyday and so were TJ and Sue. Finally after a month, Julian was ready to go back to school. He and his dad picked me up and we drove to the school. The principal had announced a few days before that he would be back today. He warned everyone that Julian would still be fragile and they were not to mob him or get physical with him, including hugs.

When we walked in the front doors, the entrance and hallway had kids sitting around or in small groups talking, which was nothing unusual. What was unusual, and took us several seconds to realize, was that everyone we could see was wearing a purple t-shirt with the slogan, ‘SOME PEOPLE ARE GAY—GET OVER IT!’ emblazoned across the front. Julian was in tears instantly, happy tears, but tears. He wasn’t the only one.

When they noticed us, several kids crowded around us but they were all very careful not to jostle Julian. A few reached out to shake his hand and a couple of girls snuck in a kiss on the cheek, but not once did he get bumped or pushed. Kevin, one of our classmates, stepped forward and presented Julian and me with a t-shirt. We both immediately put them on which started everyone cheering. A few seconds later, Kevin had one for Julian’s dad as well.

The warning bell went for classes to begin, but before anyone moved, there was an announcement directing all students to the gym. Everyone slowly made their way into the gym. Whistles and cheering started as soon as the first kids walked through the door. It got progressively louder as more kids entered the gym. When Julian, his dad and I got in there, the reason for their cheering became evident. Mr. Reynolds, the principal, was standing on the stage with the entire staff, and they were all wearing the same t-shirts. Apparently, when they heard what Kevin and a lot of the kids were doing, they went to Custom T’s and ordered enough shirts for themselves and for the students they knew would want one but couldn’t afford one. No one was left out.

Mr. Reynolds welcomed Julian back. He made it very clear how devastated everyone was and how determined they were to support him and all kids regardless of their orientation. He reminded people to be careful around Julian for the next few weeks. He then declared April 15th to be ‘GET OVER IT DAY’ to another round of thunderous applause and cheering. We were then dismissed to start another wondrous day of learning.

As we were leaving the gym, I turned to TJ and asked, “How did you guys do this without me finding out?”

“Kevin and a few of the guys, talked to everyone they knew, who talked to everyone they knew…except you…and everyone was sworn to secrecy. Then they went to Custom T’s who gave them a deal on a hundred t-shirts,” he replied with a big grin.

However they did it, it was singularly the most touching and impressive show of support I have or probably will ever see. The grins on our faces never left for the whole day. How could they? Everywhere we looked we saw someone’s big smile and the words, ‘SOME PEOPLE ARE GAY. GET OVER IT!’

Thanks to Colin for editing, prepping, and posting this story for me.