View over the valley

When Love isn't Enough

By Grant Bentley

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

I’ve been sitting here all day. It’s always so quiet and peaceful up here. I can see almost the whole town from this spot on the side of the hill. The weather today is beautiful. There are just a few clouds and a slight breeze which lightly caresses my face. I come up here every Sunday. It’s my time to sit back, relax and talk to Sammy. This is ‘our’ place. Our place hidden from the rest of the world. Our place to be together.

Sammy and I met exactly two years ago next Sunday on the fifth of May. I had just wiped out big time on my skateboard as Sammy came around the corner of the school. There’s a great eight set (stairs with eight steps, for those who don’t know what an eight set is) and a couple of excellent rails at the back of the school. A lot of guys go there to skate. The school administration is cool about it. They know we don’t have many places to skate so they leave us alone.

I had just attempted to kick flip the eight set, not very successfully, when he saw me wipe. I managed to get my arm up to break my fall, but I still hit my face pretty hard. By the time Sammy got there, I had blood pouring out of my nose and it was already all over my shirt. He sat down, lifted my head onto his lap, ripped his own shirt off, then ripped it into several pieces and used them to stop the blood flow from my nose. We must have sat there like that for ten minutes until my nose finally stopped bleeding. In that time, neither one of us had said a word to each other. Actually, I was kinda enjoying him fussing over me like that. It just felt really good. I mean, it’s not like I hadn’t smacked my face on the ground before.

“You okay, man?” he finally asked.

“Yeah, I think so,” I replied.

“That was some wicked wipe-out,” he said with a grin.

“Yeah, I figure if you’re going to do it, you should do it right,” I responded with chuckle.

It was then that I looked up at his face for the first time. Our eyes met and it was like something passed between us. It was so weird. Our eyes locked and we just stared at each other, smiling for several seconds. Finally, Sammy closed his eyes and shook his head a couple of times. It was as if he was trying to shake something loose in there.

When he opened them again, his smile had disappeared and he said, “Come on, we should get you home or something so you can get cleaned up.”

“Yeah, I’ve kinda got blood everywhere, don’t I,” I replied.

“Pretty much,” he responded as he slipped out from under me and offered his hand to help me up.

“So, where do you live?” he asked once I was standing.

“Just across the street, actually,” I answered.

“Cool, so you’ll be okay getting home then,” he said.

“Yeah, no problem,” I said, “but come with me. The least I can do is replace your t-shirt.”

“Don’t worry about it, it was an old one anyway,” he said. “I’ve got at least a dozen more. Besides, I need to get home.”

It seemed like he was trying to get away from me as quickly as he could without being rude. That was the last thing I wanted to have happen. There was something happening between us, I was sure of it, and it intrigued me. I was sure he had felt it too, but it seemed his reaction was the opposite of mine…like it scared him and he wanted to get away.

“Look, I’m gonna feel bad if you don’t at least let me replace your shirt. Come on, it’ll only take a minute,” I almost begged.

“Well okay, a minute, but I can’t stay,” he replied. “I shoulda been home fifteen minutes ago.”

“Okay, cool,” I said with a smile.

As we crossed the playground, it hit me that I had never seen him before. I knew pretty much everyone who went to our school. Even if I didn’t know him, I should at least have seen him before and have recognized him.

“You must be new here,” I said. “I know pretty much everybody and I don’t remember seeing you before. I’m Joey, by the way.”

“Sammy,” he responded. “We moved here about two months ago.”

“How come I’ve never seen you in school then?” I asked.

“I don’t go to public school. I’m home-schooled,” he replied.

“Oh, okay,” I said. “Don’t your folks like the school? I mean, why are you home-schooled?”

“They just don’t want me to get involved with the wrong kind of people, so they keep me at home most of the time,” he responded.

“Wrong kind of people?” I queried.

“It’s a long story. Look, I’ve gotta get home. My parents will be back soon and I’d better be there when they do. I’ll see you around,” he said, and with that he turned and was gone.

I just stood there for several minutes, looking in the direction he had run. There was something really wrong here, I could feel it. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I knew something wasn’t right with Sammy and his parents. I got the impression that he would be in deep trouble if he wasn’t there when they got home.

I suddenly felt like I had two mysteries to solve. ‘What clicked between us?’ and ‘Why do his parents want to isolate him from other kids?’

One way or another, I was going to find the answer to both of those questions. I would have chased after him, but by the time I came to my senses after he rushed off the way he did, it was too late. And besides, I was a complete mess and really did need to get home and clean up.

My dad knows I’m gay and is totally cool with it, so that night at dinner I mentioned Sammy to him. I told Dad how I felt some kind of connection to Sammy and how I was sure he did too, but it seemed to scare him.

Dad thought about it for a minute and asked, “By connection, do you mean attraction?”

That made me think for a minute before replying, “I don’t know. It was weird. Like, our eyes locked for a minute and it was like something passed between us, you know? Then he closed his eyes, shook his head and acted like nothing happened.”

“You really think he felt something too?” he asked.

“Yeah, I’m sure of it,” I replied.

“I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe you’re reading more into it than there is,” he said.

“Maybe, but it seemed so real,” I responded.

“All you can do is see if something more develops as you get to know him,” he said with a grin.

“I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to get to know him. He told me that he’s being home schooled so he won’t get involved with the wrong kind of people,” I told him.

“He told you that?” Dad asked.

“Yeah,” I replied. “And he seemed real scared that if his parents got home before he did he would be in big trouble.”

“That sounds a little suspicious,” he said.

“Yeah, I know. Why would they want to isolate him from other kids?” I asked.

“Now you’ve got me curious. If he’s being abused or something weird is going on, it needs to be stopped. Do you know where he lives?” he responded.

“No, he took off so fast I didn’t get a chance to follow him or anything,” I said.

“You said he moved here two months ago?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I replied.

“We just got new guy in our office, James Reed, two months ago. The guy’s a real pompous ass. He struts around the office like he owns the place,” Dad said with a chuckle.

“You think he’s Sammy’s Dad?” I asked.

“There’s only one way to find out,” he replied before asking, “What does Sammy look like?”

“Well, he has blond hair, kinda grey eyes, he’s about six feet tall, really muscular…like he works out or something. He has a deep dimple in his chin…what do you call it…a cleft chin,” I replied.

“Okay, that could easily be a description of James. He’s Sammy’s Dad, I’d bet money on it,” Dad responded. “Maybe if I can get into a chat with him at lunch, I can find out a few things. I’ll see what I can do.”

“Great, thanks Dad,” I said as I got up and gave him a quick hug.

“Be careful Joey,” he warned me with a small smile. “Don’t let yourself get too involved too fast or you may end up getting hurt.”

“I won’t,” I told him.

That just got me a wicked grin and, “Yeah right,” from him.

It took us almost an hour to finish dinner and clean up. I was feeling more than a little stressed by the time we were done, so I went down to the basement, grabbed my guitar and spent the next two hours lost in my music. I went to bed at ten that night, which is really early for me, but I didn’t get a good night’s sleep. I kept waking up, thinking about Sammy. I know, I was letting it get to me and I didn’t know if there was actually something wrong or not yet.

I spent the whole next day in a state of…I don’t know…in a state. When Dad finally got home, I was waiting at the door.

“I see you’re being careful not to let yourself get too involved,” Dad said as soon as he saw me.

“Sorry,” I responded. “I can’t help it. Did you talk to James?”

“Oh yeah,” Dad replied. “It was a real eye-opening discussion.”

“What do you mean?” I asked anxiously.

“Well, once we got the, ‘You’ve been here for a couple of months and we haven’t had a chance to get to know one another yet,’ out of the way, the rest of the conversation revolved around the fact that the whole country is going to hell. It appears he has many of the same views as Fred Phelps,” Dad responded.

“But is he Sammy’s Dad?” I asked.

“Yeah, James is Sammy’s father. Apparently, they moved here to get Sammy away from the depravity in Toronto,” he answered.

“Depravity?” I questioned.

“According to him, most of the teachers and at least half of the kids there are either faggots or faggot sympathizers. They pulled him out of school and started him on a home schooling program, which he’s still doing. He wasn’t allowed out of the house unchaperoned for fear he would be molested or propositioned by some deranged pervert. The man is insane,” Dad said with more than a little disgust in his voice.

“If they moved here to get him away from all that, then why are they still isolating him?” I asked.

“They’re still ‘testing the waters’ as he put it,” Dad said. “They feel a little more confident, but they are still being cautious. I guess they even did an Internet search for gay bars and businesses and couldn’t find any listed here.”

“You’re joking, right?” I asked.

“Nope,” Dad replied. “But there is hope. He said they are beginning to feel this really is a safe haven. He told me that, yesterday, they actually allowed Sammy to spend some time alone in the back yard.”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” I responded. “I feel so sorry for him. It must be like being in prison, or worse. At least in prison you can see and can talk to other people.”

“That’s true,” Dad said. “But, it really does sound like they’re coming around, and may actually let him go out on his own before too long. Once they’ve assured themselves that he’ll be safe.”

And so, the waiting game started. It was two weeks later, as I was doing a nose grind down one of the rails at the school, that I saw Sammy come around the corner again. I almost wiped, but managed to hold on to it.

“Hey!” I called to him.

“Hey!’ he called back and ran over to me.

“Your folks know you’re out here?” I asked him.

“Yeah, they know I’m out. I have an hour before I have to be back,” he replied before asking, “Why would you ask me that?”

“My dad works with your dad; so I know why you moved here,” I answered.

“What did he say about me?” he asked, almost in a panic, and all the colour drained from his face as if he’d seen a ghost.

“He didn’t say anything about you. Just that they moved here so you’d be safe; something about too many perverts in Toronto, or something,” I said.

“Oh…yeah…right,” he said as he visibly relaxed and the colour came back to his cheeks.

Now I’m not a genius, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out that something had probably happened. I don’t know…but the stuff his dad told my dad, combined with his reaction to me the other day and his reaction just now, all gave me the distinct impression he might be gay, and his parents found out and were not pleased.

“Do you think they’re going to follow you and spy on you,” I asked.

“I never thought of that, but now that you mention it, I wouldn’t be surprised,” he answered.

“So maybe I should stay at least five feet away from you then, just in case,” I said, laughing. “They might think I’m one of those perverts.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. I guess I’d better get going,” he said, glancing back towards the corner of the school. “Catch ya later.”

“Later,” I replied and he was off.

I was careful not to watch him leave, but immediately went back to skateboarding. I sure as hell didn’t want them to suspect that I was some kind of pervert staring at their son’s ass. It was just a minute or so after he left that a woman came around the corner, watched me for a few seconds and then walked off in the same direction Sammy had gone.

I talked to my Dad about it that evening when we were eating dinner. He agreed with me that first, something was definitely not right with Sammy’s parents; second, that I was probably wise to stay away from Sammy in case he was being watched; and third, that, all things considered, Sammy may very well be gay and had been found out be his parents. There was no doubt they were extremely homophobic and seemed far too concerned about protecting Sammy from any deranged perverts and faggots.

I saw him walking around a lot over the next couple of weeks. Other than the odd ‘hi’ or ‘hows it going,’ he avoided me and I avoided him. Every time I saw him, it wasn’t long before I saw the same woman, always wearing a long dress and scarf on her head, walk by in the same direction he had gone. Obviously, he was being followed.

It was a month before he approached me again. I was sitting in the little coffee shop just down from my house with my two best friends, Sandy and Karen, when a voice said, “I can’t find a free table. You mind if I join you?”

I glanced around and noticed the four of us were the only people in the place before looking up into Sammy’s smiling face. “Of course,” I replied. “Sit down.”

I introduced him to the girls and suggested that Sandy move over one chair to let him sit down. She looked at me for a second before it dawned on her why, and then she slid across to the next chair. The three of us had no secrets. They were the first ones I told I was gay, and I had told both Sandy and Karen all about Sammy.

So, now it was boy-girl, boy-girl, and we wouldn’t look the least bit suspicious. We sat and chatted for at least an hour before the girls decided they’d better get home to help with dinner. It had been a great time. I discovered that not only was Sammy wicked smart, but he also had a wicked sense of humour. Not only that, but he and I had more in common that I could have imagined… from music to movies, authors to just about everything.

Once the girls were gone, I asked him if it was safe to be seen with me. He responded, “Oh yeah. My mom’s gone to visit my grandmother for a week and my dad’s still at work. And guess what, the last couple of days, my mother hasn’t followed me. I think I’m finally safe.”

“Oh, cool,” I said, grinning. “Now maybe we can hang out.”

“I sure hope so,” he said with a smile.

We sat and chatted for another half hour before he decided he should get home, since he had to get dinner ready for when his dad got home from work. It was another ten minutes before we finally got up, said our good byes and headed home. I almost skipped all the way home, I was so happy. Now maybe Sammy and I would get together more often…and maybe, just maybe, we could become more than just friends.

The next morning made that seem like a real possibility. Just as Dad was leaving to play golf, the doorbell rang. Dad answered it.

“Hi, I’m Sammy,” Sammy announced as he held out his hand to shake Dad’s.

“Hi, it’s good to finally meet you, Sammy. I’m Ross, Joey’s dad,” Dad replied.

“Is Joey home?” Sammy asked.

“Yeah, but he’s probably still in bed. He likes to sleep in on weekends,” Dad said.

“Oh, sorry. I’ll come back later,” Sammy responded.

“You don’t need to do that,” Dad said. “Just go on up and wake him. He’ll be glad to see you. His room’s the second on the right.”

“Thanks,” Sammy said before asking, “You sure it’s okay?”

“Of course, just go on up,” Dad said with a smile.

A minute or so later there was a knock on my door. As it happens, I was already awake. I knew it wasn’t Dad because he usually hits the door once and yells, “Joey, get your ass up.” I looked at my clock and saw it was eight-thirty. Nobody I knew got up that early on a Saturday. There was another knock, quieter this time. I rubbed my eyes and called out, “Come in.”

The door opened slowly and Sammy peeked his head in. “Hi,” he said. “Your dad told me it was okay to come on up and wake you. Sorry, I never thought about you sleeping in. I’m never allowed to do that.”

“No problem,” I responded as I sat up. “I don’t mind. Come on in. Besides, I was already awake.”

Sammy slowly walked in and stood in the middle of the room like he didn’t quite know what to do next. He glanced around my room until his eyes focused on one of my posters. It was a poster of two guys kissing, silhouetted against a rainbow flag. He froze and stared at it for several seconds, then turned and ran from my room, down the stairs, out the door and was gone. I called to him but he either didn’t hear me or ignored me.

“Fuck!” I shouted as loud as I could before I flopped back on my bed, grabbed my pillow, hugged it tight and started crying.

I moped around the house all day. I didn’t even bother to get dressed. I was lazing on my bed in my boxers when my dad got home. I don’t think he knew I was even home until he walked past my door. When he did, he stopped and looked at me for a second before walking over to my bed and sitting down on the edge of it. He brushed his fingers through my hair and gave me a smile.

“You wanna talk?” he asked and I was in tears again instantly.

He pulled me up, wrapped his arms around me, and just held me until I finally cried myself out. We continued to just sit there for a minute or two.

Finally, I said, “The poster.”

“The poster?” he responded questioningly.

“He saw the poster,” I said.

It was then that it dawned on him. “Oh, that poster,” he said, glancing towards it. “I take it he didn’t respond well?”

“He looked terrified for a second and then he just turned and ran out of the house. I called to him but he just kept going,” I replied.

“Well, if your theory is right and he is gay, and his parents found out and went ballistic on him, he could be terrified of the same thing happening again, or worse. And if he’s developing feelings for you as a friend, seeing that poster and realizing you’re gay may have brought all that fear to the forefront,” Dad explained.

“That means I’ve ruined everything then. I’ve lost him,” I responded.

“Don’t go blaming yourself,” Dad said. “You had no idea he would react the way he did. You’ve always made it clear you’re proud of who you are and that poster was your ‘pride’ statement. You’ve always said, if anybody didn’t like it, to hell with them.”

“Yeah, well Sammy isn’t just anybody,” I said.

“I know,” Dad responded. “You’ve fallen for him pretty hard, haven’t you?”

“Yeah, I kinda thought he was THE ONE, you know,” I replied.

Just then, the doorbell rang again.

“I’ll get it,” Dad said. “You’d better get dressed, it’ll be dinnertime soon.”

Just as I was pulling my pants up, there was a light knock on my door. I turned and almost fell over. It was Sammy. We just stared at each other for several seconds.

“I’m sorry,” he said quietly.

“Don’t be,” I replied.

“It’s just, I wasn’t expecting something like that,” he said. “Well, not really…I don’t know.”

Just then, Dad peeked in and tapped on my door. “Why don’t you boys get cleaned up and come down for dinner,” he said with a smile.

I looked into Sammy’s eyes and asked, “You wanna?”

He glanced at Dad, smiled and replied, “I’d like that, but I can’t stay long.”

“It’s on the table ready to eat, so it won’t take long,” Dad said with a grin.

We went into the bathroom to wash up. I couldn’t keep the grin off my face and, looking in the mirror, I noticed Sammy was also grinning. When we figured we had done as much as we could to get rid of the dirt, we headed downstairs to the kitchen. Dad already had everything set out, so all we had to do was dish up what we wanted and start eating. Dad sat at one end of the table and Sammy and I sat on the sides, across from each other.

Once we were eating, Dad looked at Sammy first and then at me before he smiled and asked, “So, you boys okay?”

I was actually surprised when Sammy replied first. “Yeah,” he replied with a smile. “Sort of.”

“Sort of?” Dad asked.

“With Joey, things are cool…I think,” he responded and smiled at me. “But with my folks, nothing is okay. The only reason I’m here right now is that my dad had to go back into the office to finish some work. As soon as he turned the corner, I came straight over here. I won’t be able to stay long because I’ll have to be there when he gets home. I just hope he doesn’t phone in the next half hour to make sure I’m there, but after I ran out on Joey, I had to come back and apologize.”

“You didn’t have to put yourself in jeopardy to do that. You could have waited till tomorrow or phoned,” I said.

“No, I’ve been thinking about it all day and I had to do it today,” he said. “And I can’t phone because our phone records all outgoing and incoming calls and my dad checks it every day.”

“That sucks,” I said.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Did you see your dad at all today?” Dad asked him.

“No, he just came in and yelled up the stairs to make sure I was home. Then told me he had to go back to the office and to have dinner ready by seven. That’s why I can’t stay long. I have to have dinner ready for him when he gets home,” he replied.

We ate and chatted for the next half hour or so before Sammy said, “I’m sorry, this is so good, but I should go or I won’t have time to get everything ready. Can I come by tomorrow?”

“Absolutely,” I replied, grinning at him.

“I promise I won’t run when I see that poster next time,” he added as he returned my grin.

“It won’t be such a shock next time,” I replied with a laugh. “Will your dad let you out for the whole day?” I asked him.

“Yeah, I think so. He’s playing golf with a few guys from the office, so he won’t be home till late,” he responded, then looking at my dad he said, “I wish my dad was like you. Maybe we can talk sometime.”

“Well thank you,” Dad replied. “My door is always open anytime. So is Joey’s.”

“I’d better go, thanks again,” he said as he got up.

I got up, walked him to the door and he was off and running down the street. This time, seeing him running away wasn’t upsetting. It did leave me feeling concerned for his safety, though. I couldn’t imagine what his life must be like.

True to his word, he was tapping on my door at eight-thirty the next morning.

I called, “Come in.”

“Morning,” he said as he came in the door.

“Morning,” I replied.

This time, he walked right over to the poster and stood looking at it for a few seconds before saying, “That is so cool. I’m sorry I acted like such an idiot when I saw it yesterday.”

“Don’t be,” I said. “I’m sure it was a real shock. I mean, we had never talked about any of that stuff, so you sure as hell weren’t expecting to see something like that. I don’t usually announce I’m gay to people when I meet them. I mean, I don’t hide it and I’ve been out since I was fourteen, but if I had known you were coming over, I would have told you instead of letting you find out that way.”

“Yeah, well even finding out that way probably never got that reaction before,” he said, grinning.

“Well, actually, no one else has reacted quite like you did,” I replied with a chuckle. “A couple have called me a faggot, told me to stay the hell away from them and stormed out, though.”

“That’s their loss,” he responded.

“So it doesn’t bother you that I’m gay then?” I asked.

“No, not at all,” he replied. “And I think you already know why.”

“Yeah, I think so,” I said with a smile. “That’s why you moved here isn’t it?”

“Yeah, but I don’t want to go there right now,” he replied.

“That’s cool,” I told him as I climbed out of bed, grabbed my jeans, and started to get dressed.

“You had breakfast yet?” I asked.

“I had some cereal before I came over,” he replied.

“That’s all I’m having. You want some more? I think we have Cocoa Puffs, Reese’s and Cap’n Crunch,” I said.

“Yeah, I think I will,” he said. “All we have is Bran Flakes and Granola.”

As soon as we were done eating, I suggested that we go for a walk. Sammy was all for it. I think he had already walked all over every part of town over the last few weeks. In fact, he had probably seen more places than I had after almost seventeen years.

“Is there any part of town you haven’t explored yet?” I asked.

“I think I’ve probably seen every place at least ten times. That’s all I’ve done for at least a month,” he replied before laughing and adding, “Well, me and my mom, but I’m not supposed to know that.”

“I know one place I bet you haven’t been,” I challenged.

“Oh, where’s that?” he asked.

“You’ll see,” I told him.

Our town is located in a valley with treed hills all around it. On the north side of town the hills are the steepest, and just at the top of the steepest part, there is a small clearing. From there, I can see the whole town and for miles beyond. It’s far enough from town and so small that unless you were walking up here, you would never see it. As far as I was concerned, God had made it for me and me alone. This would be the first time I had taken anyone up there. Until today, it had been my special place, my safe haven. Today, I hoped it would become our special place, our safe haven.

It took a little over half an hour to walk there. When we finally got there, Sammy just stared at the view for a couple of minutes.

“Oh my God, this is amazing,” he exclaimed.

“Yeah isn’t it?” I responded. “Nobody else know it’s here. This is my special place, my refuge from the world.”

“Nobody?” he questioned.

“Nope, nobody…except you now,” I replied.

He just looked at me and his eyes filled with tears as he asked, “You brought me to your special place?”

“Yeah, it’s our special place now,” I replied with a smile.

The next thing I knew I was in his arms, so I naturally wrapped my arms around him to complete the hug. We stood like that for a minute or so before he pulled back and looked into my eyes and with a huge smile said, “You have no idea how happy I am right now. I never thought I would ever feel this good again.” Then he leaned in and kissed me. It was short and quick and mind-blowing.

I took his hand and pulled him over to the base of a huge tree that was right in the middle of our space. I sat down, leaned against the tree and pulled him down so he was sitting between my legs, leaning back against my chest. I wrapped my arms around him and he immediately laced his fingers through mine. We spent the next two hours just sitting like that, looking out over the valley and talking. That was the beginning of the best time of my life.

“I think your stomach is trying to tell you something,” he laughed when my stomach began to growl.

“Ya think?” I said, laughing.

We had brought some sandwiches and juice. We moved around and sat cross-legged facing each other and I dug everything out. We spent the next half hour satisfying our hunger. Once we were finished, Sammy lay back on the grass looking up at the sky. He patted the ground beside him so I moved over and lay down beside him.

He pointed to a cloud. “What does that look like?” he asked me.

“It looks like a horse’s head,” I replied.

“No, not if you look at it from an angle,” he said.

“Okay, it looks like a horse’s head on an angle,” I said, laughing.

“No it doesn’t,” he said as he poked me. “It looks like a heart.”

“Okay, yeah I guess it does,” I said.

“It’s my heart…and it’s whole again,” he said.

If he wanted instant tears, that was the way to do it. My eyes instantly teared up. He rolled on his side to look at me, smiled, brushed my tears away, and then leaned down to give me the most amazing kiss. If I hadn’t already been totally, head-over-heels in love with him before, I sure was now.

We spent probably the next hour, not that anyone was keeping track, cuddling and kissing…just us, the grass, the breeze, and the sun. It was without doubt, the best day of my life. I really, really, really didn’t want it to end. I…no, we…were at peace with ourselves and at peace with the world.

Unfortunately, however, it had to end. If Sammy wasn’t home when his dad got home or soon after, he would be questioned unmercifully. We gathered up our garbage and started back to town. On the way back, we held hands until we were close to town and near the edge of the trees. Just before we stepped out into the open, I took him in my arms and gave him a long, passionate kiss.

We stood gazing into each other’s eyes and smiling until he brushed his hand across my cheek. “I am so falling in love with you,” he whispered. Then he grinned, turned and ran towards town. I just stood there with tears running down my cheeks…again…and the biggest smile ever.

Just to be safe, I walked back deeper into the trees and down several hundred yards before I stepped out into the open and ran home.

The next time we got together was the following weekend. His dad had decided to drive out to pick up his mom. How he ever convinced his dad to leave him home I don’t know, but he did. It was a four and a half or five hour drive each way, so we had at least nine if not ten hours of freedom. We actually walked around town together. We didn’t hold hands or anything, for obvious reasons, but we were together. We had coffee and doughnuts with the girls and visited for a bit. Then we bought a couple of extra large coffees and a bunch of doughnuts and other goodies and headed for our spot. As soon as we entered the trees, Sammy laced his fingers through mine and we walked the rest of the way hand-in-hand.

We spent the whole day up there, kissing and cuddling, and talking about life. He finally told me what had happened in Toronto. He had met a guy in school, David, and the two of them became very close. Then one day, his dad caught him and David cuddled up on his bed. He threw David out and gave Sammy a black eye and a couple of broken ribs. Of course, the story at the ER was that he was running and fell down the stairs. I wonder how many times they hear that one.

Even though Sammy is six months older than David, his dad had phoned the school and demanded that something be done about David and the other faggots preying on innocent young boys. When the principal of the school basically told him to keep his bigoted opinions to himself, he pulled Sammy out of the school, put him on home-schooling and forbade him to leave the house. Two months later, they moved here. He broke down a couple of times while he was telling me his story. I simply hugged him tighter, told him I loved him, and assured him that things would be better now. Once we got onto other topics and spent a little more time wrapped in each others arms, Sammy perked up and we had an amazing day together.

Sammy and I spent as much time together as we could. It wasn’t easy, as his parents questioned his every move and occasionally he was followed. We were well aware of the situation and we were careful to the point of being paranoid. We even set up a system. We never met up at the same place twice and always he would walk by and I would mess around on my skateboard or set myself up somewhere out of sight and wait fifteen minutes to be sure he wasn’t followed. Then I would take a round-about route and we would meet up somewhere on the north side of town. If he didn’t see me in twenty minutes, he knew he was followed and would continue walking around town, go to the coffee shop and meet up with the girls, or go to the park, sit and feed the ducks.

We made it to our special place nearly every week unless it was too cold out. His parents gradually backed off. They had seen him with Karen and Sandy quite often. I was there occasionally, but Sammy and I were always at opposite sides of the table and he was always sitting beside Karen. We got together at Karen’s quite often as well. Sometimes the four of us would go to a movie together. I think they began to believe he was dating Karen and was becoming the normal son they had always wanted. Everything was working out perfectly. Too perfectly…and I guess we got careless, very careless.

Towards the end of March, the girls went away for the weekend with Karen’s parents. Brokeback Mountain was playing in the local theatre and, foolishly, we decided to go. We were very careful to look up and down the street to make sure neither of his parents, nor anyone we knew, was anywhere in sight, and quickly slipped into the theatre. However, when we came out of the theatre, we saw his mom coming out of the grocery store across the street. We were sure she hadn’t seen us, though, as she turned and just started walking the other way. But, when I didn’t see Sammy for more than a week, I began to get more and more worried as each day went by. I talked to my dad about it and he said he would see if he could find out anything.

Dad had become very fond of Sammy. In fact, he had become like a second son. Dad had even gone to the trouble of getting to know Sammy’s dad, to the point of becoming sort of friends with him. He thought that it might prove helpful if anything came up or went wrong. I mean, they didn’t hang out or anything, just played golf once in a while, or went for coffee or lunch at work. But it was enough to win his confidence so he would tell Dad things he might not tell anyone else.

I paced around the house all day. I couldn’t sit down for more than ten seconds. I couldn’t eat. All I could think of was Sammy. The more I thought about him and what was going on, the more freaked out I became. The day seemed to go on forever. Finally, at four thirty, Dad walked in the house and I was all over him with questions. When he finally got me calmed down, he sat me down on the sofa, put his arm around me, and explained what he had found out.

“I’m not sure, but I think Sammy’s mom may have seen you come out of the theatre,” Dad said. “His dad’s exact words were, ‘Sammy is grounded indefinitely. God-damned faggots are everywhere. I thought we got away from them when we moved here.’ When I tried to get more out of him, he just stormed out of the office. The guy is a nut job.”

“Oh God, no!” I exclaimed as a sudden wave of fear swept over me. “Is Sammy alright?” I asked as I began to cry.

“Yes, he’s fine,” Dad replied. “I stopped by their house on the pretext of dropping off a couple of forms for him to sign and Sammy was working at the kitchen table. When his Dad went to his office to sign them, Sammy whispered, ‘Tell Joey I’m sorry,’ then quickly went back to work on his studies.”

I was sobbing at this point and Dad just held me and did what he could to try to comfort me.

“What are we going to do?” I pleaded. “Things were going so well…I can’t lose him now Dad. Can’t we do anything?”

“I don’t know, Joey. I don’t think we can do anything unless he physically harms Sammy,” Dad replied.

“But isn’t mental abuse just as bad, or worse?” I asked.

“Yes it is,” Dad responded. “Actually I think quite often it’s worse. Look, I’ll talk to Roy Brown. He’s a good friend and a family lawyer. Maybe he can help us figure out if there is anything we can do.”

“Thanks Dad,” I managed to get out between sobs. I couldn’t lose Sammy…I just couldn’t.

I became a zombie for the next few days. If I wasn’t crying, I was about to. I couldn’t go to school because I couldn’t stop crying. Karen or Sandy brought my work home for me and would sit with me and talk, or just hold me every afternoon. The most frustrating thing was that I had no way to get in touch with Sammy without making things worse. I couldn’t imagine how he was feeling, locked up in that house alone. At least I had Dad, Karen and Sandy who did their best to comfort me and keep me going.

Finally, after three days and the weekend, I was able to go back to school. I didn’t learn much. I went from class to class and went through the motions, but I still couldn’t concentrate. All I could think of was Sammy alone in that house with those horrible people who masqueraded as his parents. I felt some hope in that Dad was talking to Roy Brown to see if there was anything we could do. Unfortunately, it seemed to be taking forever.

It was almost a month later, on a Thursday night; I was lying on my bed staring at the ceiling, doing what I had been doing for the past twenty-eight days—trying to think of a way to contact Sammy without getting him into more trouble—when my dad came into my room and sat on the side of my bed. He looked extremely upset. In fact, he looked like he had been crying. I was suddenly scared to death. I hadn’t seen my dad cry since my mom had died three years ago.

“Dad?” I questioned. “What’s wrong?”

When he didn’t answer, I sat up and wrapped my arms around him and repeated, “Dad, what’s wrong?”

He wrapped his arms around me and held me tight, but still didn’t say anything. Now I was getting really scared. It took a lot to get my dad upset, so I knew something terrible had happened.

“It’s Sammy,” he finally said.

“Sammy? What about Sammy?” I almost shouted.

“He’s gone,” was all he could say as he tightened his hold on me.

“What do you mean he’s gone?” I shouted as tears filled my eyes.

“He…oh God Joey…his dad found him…he…” was all I heard. Then everything went black.

When I opened my eyes again, I wasn’t in my bedroom anymore. I was in some tiny room, all painted this really nasty kinda light green colour. My daddy was there too. He was sleeping in a big ugly blue chair. The chair was beside my bed…except it wasn’t my bed. It was a funny bed. I couldn’t lie down on it ‘cause it was bent. I had to kinda sit up. My hand hurt too. When I looked, there was a big pokey thing stuck in it with a tube going up to a bag of water on a pole and there was a beeping machine by my bed too. I didn’t like it. It was annoying.

I saw Daddy open his eyes. When he saw I was awake, he jumped up and hugged me. It was nice.

“Joey, you’re awake,” he said. I thought that was funny. Of course I was awake. I had my eyes open didn’t I?

“How are you feeling?” he asked. I don’t know why he asked me that. I was fine except for the pokey thing in my hand.

“I’m fine Daddy,” I said to him with a smile, “except this pokey thing hurts,” and I held my hand up to show him.

He got a really funny look on his face when I said that and then he pushed a button on the end of a cord by my bed.

A lady all dressed in white came running into the room. She seemed kinda old to be running like that.

“Is Doctor Peters here?” Daddy asked her.

“Yes, he’s just making his rounds,” she said.

“I need to speak to him as soon as possible,” Daddy said.

“Oh, I see your son is awake now,” she said.

“How are you feeling?” she asked me and I wondered how come everybody wanted to know how I was feeling. I was feeling fine.

“I’m fine,” I said, smiling at her, “but this pokey thing hurts.” Then she got a funny look on her face like Daddy did. She looked at Daddy and said, ‘I’ll get Doctor Peters right away,” and she ran out. If she keeps running like that she’s going to hurt herself.

Then a minute later, a man all dressed in white came into my room. ‘People here must like white,’ I thought.

He talked to Daddy real quietly for a while and then he came over to look at me. He looked into my eyes with a funny little black thing. Then he put the two ends of this thing in his ears. I think it’s called a stepperspoke or something. When he put the other end on my chest, it was really cold. I didn’t like it. Then he asked me bunch of questions, like…what was my name…did I go to school…who my best friend was…stuff like that. Then he talked to Daddy again real quietly.

After he left, I asked, “Daddy, where are we?”

“We’re in the hospital,” he said.

“Why?” I asked. “Am I sick?”

“No, you’re not sick,” He said. “But you had something happen to you and you need to get some special help.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“You lost something you loved very much,” he replied.

“Is Mommy out looking for it?” I asked. “Is that why she’s not here?”

“Something like that,” Daddy said.

“So I can’t come home with you, Daddy?” I asked.

“Not for a few days. But I’ll be here with you every day,” he said with a little smile.

They took the pokey thing out of my hand. I liked that. It still hurt for a while though. Daddy stayed with me every day just like he promised. I didn’t see Mommy, so she must have been looking real hard for the thing I lost. I couldn’t remember what it was though and Daddy didn’t tell me. I still had a lot of different people dressed in white come in every day and talk to me and ask me a lot more questions.

Then one night, something woke me up. When I opened my eyes, there was this big boy standing by my bed. He was really nice and I liked him right away. He said his name was Sammy and he loved me. He said he wanted me to get better and he didn’t want me to give up. He wanted me to go on with my life…to be the special person I was meant to be. I saw he had scars on his wrists. I asked him how he got them, but he disappeared before he could answer me. I felt really funny when he disappeared. I never saw anyone disappear like that before. I wanted him to come back. I wanted him to come back real bad.

The next thing I knew, Dad was holding me. I was crying so hard that I was having a hard time breathing. A nurse ran into the room and gave me an injection of something and I felt myself begin to calm down and I was suddenly very sleepy.

When I woke up again, the sun was shining in my eyes. I was lying in a hospital bed with Dad sleeping in a chair beside the bed. My moving around must have woken him because he was up and standing beside my bed in an instant.

“Joey?” he said. “Are you okay, son?”

“I don’t know,” I responded and I noticed a look of relief in his eyes.

“Sammy’s gone isn’t he?” I asked as my eyes filled with tears.

“I’m so sorry son,” Dad replied as he pulled me into a hug. He held me as I cried for the next several minutes.

“He slashed his wrists didn’t he?” I asked.

“How…” Dad started to ask.

“He was here last night,” I said.

“He was here?” Dad asked, sounding astonished.

“Maybe it was just a dream,” I replied. “But it was so real. He told me he loved me and he wants me to go on with my life. I saw the scars.”

Dad gave me an odd look before he smiled and pulled me back into a tight hug.

It was another two weeks before they let me go home. During that time, and after a lot of begging, Dad finally explained how he knew what had happened to Sammy. He told me about a phone message he had received from Sammy’s dad.

“My son just took a razor blade to his wrists. That God-damned faggot stole my son from me!” the message had said. When Dad told me, I burst into tears and cried on his shoulder for a long time. Dad said they caught a plane and flew back to Toronto two days later.

It took me a long time to come to grips with what had happened. Sammy had taken his own life…and part of mine that night. We were just a year from graduation and college. I would have waited for him. He should have known that. I loved Sammy with all my heart and I knew no matter how long I lived, I would always love him. He was a part of me and would always be a part of me. Nothing would ever change that. I often asked myself why my love wasn’t enough to keep him going. But I had no idea what he was going through, the isolation, the verbal abuse, and maybe even physical abuse. I had no right to doubt his love for me.

The hardest thing to deal with, though, were the dreams. They were both a blessing and a curse. I would dream of the great times we had…laughing, talking, cuddling, kissing, and just relishing in being together. But then, every morning, when I woke up, I would have to tell myself he was gone. There were times when I wished they would stop. But most of the time I was glad I had them because they kept him with me.

It’s been a year now since Sammy and I were together. I’ve been sitting here all day. It’s always so quiet and peaceful up here. The weather today is beautiful. There are just few clouds and a slight breeze. I come up here every Sunday. It’s my time to sit back, relax and talk to Sammy. This is ‘our’ place. Our place hidden from the rest of the world. Our place to be together. But you already know that.

Today, I’ve been telling him all about the past week in college. Yeah, I’m a freshman in college now. I’m studying psychology. I want to become a child psychologist, specializing in the twelve to eighteen age range. I want to help gay kids like Sammy, and like me too, I guess.

But it’s getting late. The sun will be setting soon so I’d better get back. There are too many scary noises up here in the bush after it gets dark. I know, I’m not a little kid anymore, but it’s still scary.

Just as I stand up, brush myself off, and get ready to start back, a familiar voice says, “You always come up here and talk to yourself.”

My whole body goes numb. Suddenly, I can’t hold myself up and I slowly begin to sink to the ground. Strong arms quickly wrap around me from behind and hold me up. I instinctively grasp the hands that are holding me and look down. I see the scars.

Then I wake up.

It’s dark and I’m lying in my bed. Another damn dream. Sometimes they’re so real, it’s just too much. This is one of those times, and I really wish they would stop.

But, as I’m lying there, I try to remember the last few hours. I can’t. I can’t remember getting home, getting undressed, getting into bed. I can’t remember walking home from the hill. I WAS on the hill. I know I was.

I move my hand and suddenly, I realize I’m not alone. I feel the bed move. Someone just rolled over against me. I can feel warm breath on my cheek. I can smell his scent…Sammy’s scent. I close my eyes and turn my head. I’m almost too scared to open them again. When I finally get up the courage…those eyes that captured my heart two years ago are looking back at me and that priceless smile…oh God.

“Hey,” he says as he gives me a quick kiss.

“Hey,” I reply as my eyes fill with tears and my arms slip around him, pulling him close.


Sommerville Rehabilitation Centre is located somewhere in the northern Ontario wilderness, but no one seems to know exactly where. Their claim to fame is that they can ‘cure’ homosexuality. Once you’re in there, you’re completely isolated from any outside contact. Sammy spent eleven months in there before he was declared ‘cured’ and released a week before his eighteenth birthday.

It cost his parents $175,000.00 to ‘cure’ him.

If they only knew…his kisses still take me to a whole other world.

A very special thanks to Azy for his time, hard work editing this story for me.