Live for Me by Andy Deats

Live for Me
Part One
I'd like to send a big thank you to Ronyx and Grant Bentley, who helped me to get to the point that I'm at now. Also, to my friends Eli, Ashley, Tiffany, Tasha, and George: Thanks for supporting me through everything and inspiring me to write more. I love you guys so much! And, last but not least, I'd like to thank you for reading this and e-mailing me your thoughts on my first-ever story.


I shivered lightly as Michael turned the heat on. "That feel better?" He asked kindly. I nodded my approval silently and reached into my dress pants before realizing the rain had soaked through them and drenched the handkerchief beyond use. Michael reached into the glove box and handed me a pile of fast food napkins. I used them to dry my eyes and nose before he spoke again. “That was a nice funeral," he remarked in barely more than a whisper. I was overtaken by emotion again, and my body racked with sobs as Michael pulled me to him and let me cry into his chest. "There, there, Jay," he whispered as my tears soaked into his nice shirt. "Gabe is in a better place now. There's no hate up in heaven."

"What if he's not up there?" I choked out between sobs. "Father Kelly always says queers don't go to heaven."

"Gerald Steven Jameson," he started, causing me to wince at his use of my full name. "Gabriel was a good person. Good people do NOT go to hell. Especially if they're..." his sentence trailed off, but I knew what he was thinking.

"Murdered?" I whispered, looking up into his brown eyes.

"Stop that," he snapped as I pulled away from him and sat upright in my seat. "It's not important how he was taken away from us. He was a good person, and it was too fucking early." Each of the last three words all came out slower than the one before it, and by the end I looked over and saw tears in those dark brown eyes. Michael was a traditionally attractive man. With his wide shoulders, muscled build, and square jaw, he had his pick of most girls at our school. He had extremely dark brown eyes set into an olive skin tone and the softest hair I had ever touched. I reached over and took his free hand as he drove us out of the cemetery.

Michael drove me all the way across town without saying a word. After fourteen years of friendship, each of us knew that the other didn't want to talk. I climbed out of the car and looked sadly at him. "Thanks," I murmured.

"Call me if you need anything," he responded, "I know it's gotta be hard for you, losing your first boyfriend like this. But I'm here for you." I forced a smile as thunder clapped overhead before I rushed inside.

As soon as I stepped into the house, I wanted to leave. The entire house was already dark as the cloud cover outside let in virtually no sunlight. Only one light was on in the ground floor of the house, so I had to squint through the darkness to see my father as he said sternly, "We need to talk."

"Now?" I questioned, looking through the darkness. I was soaked to the bone from the rainy funeral and just wanted to shower and change.

"Yes, now." I could tell from the tone of his voice he was serious, and knew there was no reasoning with him when he got like that.

I moved to sit next to him on the loveseat, but heard my mother clear her throat, and was left to take the seat in the corner. The way our family room was set up, it had a loveseat directly across from the TV on one wall, and the only other chair was a simple wooden chair from some long-forgotten dining set that was placed in the corner too close to the TV to see it. The chair was seldom used since I had outgrown being put in it for time-out. As I sat, I realized the only light was placed directly behind me and just over my head, leaving me to feel like a criminal being investigated. I sat in a stiff, awkward silence, as I waited for my parents to say something.

The tension of the situation brought me flashbacks of when I had first brought Gabe home to meet my parents. They were surprised at my coming out, to say the least. My parents were devout Catholics, as was much of our little town of Riverton, Alabama. They were brought up believing that homosexuality was a sin, and that's what they had always told me. I knew better though. It was how I was, and nothing was going to change that. Not even the shouting fight that my parents and I got into the moment I had said the word "boyfriend," sitting next to Gabe on the loveseat, holding his hand. Once I had broken into tears when my mother told me I was going to hell, Gabe pulled me from the house and we went back to his house. His parents knew we were together but, being from outside Riverton, were much more accepting of their son. He held me that night as I cried for hours. His parents had allowed me to spend the night there until my father called for me the next morning and told Gabe's father that he didn't want "his damn son staying with that faggot wetback."

My mother was the first to speak up. "Your father and I believe you should start seeing a girl."

"I see plenty of girls at school," I responded, although I knew what she meant. We had the same argument almost every day, but I was determined to make her say it.

"What your mother means," my father continued for her, "is that with Gabe being out of the way, this would be a good time for you to diversify your friends."

"OUT OF THE WAY?" I shouted, standing up in anger. "My boyfriend was murdered and you say he's 'out of the way?'" My voice had reached a new high, and I could feel myself starting to go hoarse.

"Sit down, Jerry," my mother commanded calmly. "We just thought that he was a bad influence on you and now you can have a wider range of friends."

"Bullshit." I exclaimed. "You don't want me to have a wider range of friends! You want me to have friends you approve of!" My mother stood up from her seat and was now staring me down in the dark.

"Gerald, I am your mother and you will not defy me like that,” she stated emphatically as my father turned the rest of the lights on so I was looking right into my mother's anger-filled eyes.

I tried to put as much hate as I could behind my next words. "Mother, I am sixteen and I will not have you tell me who I can and cannot see, in ANY sense of the word."

"He was a bad influence and…" My glare cut her off mid-sentence, and I was suddenly glad that I had received that trait from her.

"He was not!" I yelled.

"He turned you gay," she stated.

"Maybe if I wasn't afraid all women were like you, I would be straight," I responded with as much sarcasm as I could muster.

Up to this point, everything had happened so quickly, I hadn't had time for things to sink in. Tears jumped to my eyes, however, when I heard my father speak.

"You will not talk to your mother like that, you little faggot," he yelled.

Rage boiled inside me and I felt my hands ball up into fists. I swung my fist at him and connected with his jaw, but had little effect. At five-foot-seven and barely one hundred and thirty pounds, I was fairly small for my age. My father, however, was the archetype of a construction worker powerhouse. He wrapped his hand around my throat and glared into my eyes, which I'm sure were full of fear.

"Get out of my house now, and I don't ever want to see you on my property again," he ordered through a clenched jaw.

I choked for air, and he released me by shoving me as hard as he could towards the door. I looked to mom, hoping against hope that she would come to my aid, and saw her staring at me with her arms crossed, and a cold look on her face. I quickly scrambled to my feet, and left what used to be my home.

I walked down the driveway and to the corner of my street blankly before emotions hit me like the truck that I watched speed through the stop sign right in front of me. I started to wonder if maybe I should have stepped out in front of it and gotten hit. Ending my life and going to Gabe sounded like a pretty good idea to me. But that wouldn't have worked. Suicide is a sin, and sinners go to hell. 'Just like faggots,' I heard my dad's voice say inside my head.

I had been having problems with my parents for months, though, ever since I came out to them. They had never been happy with me being gay due to the overall religious nature of our little southern town, and often had blamed Gabe for "converting me to the ways of the devil," as they so often put it. I never believed that they would kick me out of the house simply for refusing to find a girlfriend. Tears formed in my eyes as I realized that this was only the latest in a long list of fights I had gone through with my parents. They tried banning me from seeing Gabe, and only got angrier when they found out I had snuck around to see him, using my few other friends as excuses. They would ground me, but I'd only find new ways to get around their rules and see Gabe. That's pretty much the way my life worked in the months leading up to Gabe's murder.

I wiped my eyes on the cuffs of my white shirt as I thankfully realized that the rain had stopped. My first instinct was to call Gabe, before I remembered that he was gone. The only person I had to call was Michael. I pulled my cell phone out and dialed his number, but the automated voice told me that my service had been suspended by the account holder's request. Apparently, my punishment was not as spontaneous as I had thought.

After walking about a mile down the road, I came upon a gas station. I deposited my money in the slot of their pay phone and dialed Michael's number, waiting patiently for him to pick up.

"Hello?" he finally answered.

"Hey, Mikey," I responded nervously.

"Jay?" He asked, surprised.

"Yeah, it's me," I replied.

"Spill it, boy, what's up?" he asked seriously.

"I kinda need some help. Mom and Dad kicked me out and I need a ride." There was silence on the other end for a few minutes, and I knew he was trying to collect his thoughts so he wouldn't say something he would later regret.

"Where are you?" I told him my location and that he could meet me across the street at the little burger joint where we used to hang out.

I made my way across the street and got a couple burgers, fries, and a soda before taking a seat at a booth. I could only imagine what kind of mess I looked. A  short, gangly teen with a mop of wet blonde hair and green eyes, bags under my eyes, in soaked dress clothes sitting at a booth all alone, munching forlornly on some fries. Luckily, it wasn't long before Michael's SUV pulled up outside. I was getting tired of the strange looks people were giving me.

I threw away my trash on the way outside and climbed into his vehicle.

"You OK?" he asked, concerned.

"Sure," I responded sarcastically. "My boyfriend was murdered, my parents kicked me out, and I blew all my money on lunch just now. I'm great."

We sat in an awkward silence for a few minutes as I looked out the window.

"Sorry," I eventually said. "I'm just under a lot of stress lately and...never mind. If you could just drive me to a hotel or something..."

"Hotel?" He interrupted. "No way am I letting you stay at some seedy hotel. Besides, you said you're broke."

"I'll hook," I said adamantly.

"You'd never make any money." He laughed, and a smirk even crossed my lips for a few seconds. "You're coming home with me, and that's final."

"No way. I can't face your parents after I got their nephew murdered." The last word came out as barely a whisper.

I had been thinking about that for the past few days, but found it much harder to actually say. I looked up into Michael's sad eyes and realized they were the same as his cousin's. I saw Gabe in his eyes.

"Nobody blames you for Gabe's death," he said firmly, but I knew he was wrong. I blamed myself for Gabe's murder, and I believed other people should too.

It was Friday when it happened. I was sitting in Mr. Miller's algebra 2 class and, as usual, I wasn't paying a shred of attention to the teacher. My phone had been taken away the day before, so I had no way to contact my boyfriend for the seven hours in which we were locked into good old "Hellhole High."

Whenever I had my phone taken away, Gabe and I traded notes at lunch. I was in the middle of writing one of the most corny, sappy, romantic notes of my life, detailing to Gabe what I wanted to do with and to him over the upcoming spring break. I felt a sharp pain in my side and, glancing angrily to my right, saw a disgusted look on the face of the resident jackass, Nick Nash. I felt my face drain of blood as I saw his steel-blue eyes travel slowly from the note to my face and back.

"You're a fag?" he hissed. I gulped and tried to stammer out an excuse. "And Gabe?" He continued, each word getting slightly louder so that soon half the class could hear him.

"Gabe Lorenze?" a girl in front of us asked, a disappointed look on her face. "But he's too cute to be gay."

"Well, he is," Nick responded snidely. "And apparently," he continued, now speaking to the entire class, "Jerry here wants to spend all week cuddled up in his arms."

I sat in stunned silence as Nick divulged the contents of my letter to the entire class, outing not only me, but also my boyfriend. The teacher tried in vain to stop the class laughing as I stood from my seat and ran to the bathroom, tears streaming down my face. I don't know how long I cried there before the lunch bell rang. I initially wanted to disregard it, but I realized that Gabe didn't know he had been outted yet. With the way news spread around a small town, especially it's high school, the entire school would know by the end of the day. I stood up and wiped me eyes quickly on my sleeves as I made my way to the cafeteria.

By the time I had made it to the cafeteria, a crowd had amassed in the center, an obvious sign of a fight. I gulped as I heard Nick's voice through all of the people.

"Nobody wants you on our team, faggot!" Nick yelled, referencing their positions on the school baseball team.

"Up yours, Nick," I heard Gabe retort.

I tried to push my way through the crowd to get to him, but nobody would let me through.

"I don't take it up mine like you and your little boyfriend." I heard the sound of fist meeting face and watched through the gaps in the crowd before Nick fell to the ground.

Gabe turned around to leave and we saw each other through the crowd. His face lit up, then suddenly went cold and I saw Nick stepping away from him as Gabe sunk to his knees, then hit the floor hard. I saw Nick run past me through the crowd, as I fought my way in.

"Gabe!" I yelled. I grabbed his bleeding body and pulled his head into my lap, crying harder than I could ever remember. "Gabe..." I whispered. "Come on, for me."

This time, nobody laughed as I cried.

I spent that night in the emergency room with his parents, crying as the boy we all loved died. I was told that the cause of death was determined to be a knife wound in his back. The police found the weapon in Nick Nash's possession on Saturday, and he was in jail. Gabe's funeral was on a Sunday, and we all held each other as we cried yet again. Even though I explained the circumstances involving Gabe's death to his parents, I don't think that they ever actually blamed me for his death.

Nick's brother Carter, however, did blame me for Nick being arrested. I heard from a few people around my neighborhood that he had promised to "make that queer regret messing with Nick," a threat that never failed to send chills down my spine.

I ran my fingers through my hair as I looked at Michael. "You promise that nobody else blames me?" I asked softly.

I blushed some as I saw him trace an x over his heart with his pinky, something that Gabe always did to signify a promise. He held the pinky out to me, and I locked mine in it, a small smirk forming on my lips from the memories.

Michael's father was a big-shot lawyer for a very prestigious firm in our town and his mother was a teacher at the local college, so to say they were well-off financially was a bit of an understatement. They had more garage than my parents had house, and it was about a half a mile to their nearest neighbor. I remember the first time I rode up their driveway with Gabe and Michael to some sort of family function that I had been invited to, I asked what the name of the road we were on was. They laughed and informed me that it was in fact their driveway, and never let me live that embarrassment down.

Walking into their house was always an awkward experience, and this time was no different. His mother was sitting on their couch working on something out of a notebook, and looked up when she heard us walk in.

"Oh, hi, Michael. Jerry, what are you doing here?" The question wasn't bitter or angry, simply curious.

"Mom," Michael responded, "we need to talk for a few. Jay, you wanna go up to my room real quick and I'll meet you up there in a few?"

I nodded and walked slowly up the stairs to his room. I couldn't hear what Michael or his mom were saying, but I suddenly felt very intrusive as I sat on the edge of his bed. I would never have agreed to stay with Michael had I known that his parents didn't know about it. I sat a while before Michael walked in and sat next to me.

"I don't wanna be a bother," I said softly.

"You worry too much," he responded as he put an arm around my shoulders. "I told Mom everything and she said it's ok for you to stay as long as you want. Dad's going to swing by your house after work and pick up the things you'll need; at least through spring break." I sighed softly as I remembered what it was like to have supportive parents.

I forced a smile. I had a place to stay for the next seven days, even if it would be awkward living with the aunt and uncle of my dead boyfriend. "Is there somewhere I can get a shower?"

"Right over there," Michael responded and pointed to a door in the far corner. I sighed softly as I stood up and walked to the bathroom.

I stripped down and turned the water on before stepping into the shower and letting the hot water wash away my fears, worries, and troubles. It felt so good to finally be in a familiar situation that I wanted to stay in that spray for the rest of my life. I knew, however, that this was not an option. Eventually, I would have to get out of the shower, and Gabe would still be gone. My parents would still hate me, and I would still be all alone in the world except for Michael.

 I was brought back to reality by a knock on the door. "You want dinner?" I heard Michael call out. I shut off the water to reply.

"No thanks, I'm just tired."

"Ok, well your duffel bag is on the bed. And you can sleep in the guest bedroom. You remember where it is?"

"Yeah, down the hall on the right," I replied.

"Ok, cool," he said.

I stepped out of the shower and quickly dried myself off before stepping back into Michael's room. I pulled on some boxers and a pair of pajama pants and carried my light bag down the hall to the guest room. All my possessions, I realized, were contained in a single duffel bag. I could hardly fit what I wanted to take to a friend's house for a sleep-over into a duffel bag when I was younger, yet now it was all that I owned.

I tossed and turned for what must have been hours in the bed before I was able to finally fall into an uncomfortable sleep. The next few days I felt incredibly awkward. Both Michael and his parents worked during the day, leaving me alone in the house. They told me to make myself at home, but I didn't feel right doing much of anything. We were in completely different social classes, and I didn't even belong. I spent most of my time in their backyard with my feet dangling in the pool, doing a lot of thinking. I never actually got into the pool, though.

By Tuesday, I became fed up with just sitting around and doing nothing. I took some money from a jar in Michael's room which he said I could borrow whenever, and took a bus to the cemetery. It took me a while to find the spot, but I finally found a small, simple headstone.

Gabriel Lorenze

Loving and Beloved Son

March 8, 1992-April 3, 2010


I shoved my hands deep into my pockets, trying to brace myself against the cold. "Want a jacket?" a strange voice asked from behind me. I turned around and saw a boy I didn't know standing there, casually looking me up and down.

He stood about six-foot-four with long jet black hair and the most piercing green eyes that I had ever seen. I felt as if he was judging me, and yet for some reason I felt extremely safe around him at the same time. The second I saw him, there was no doubting that he was gay.

"What?" I asked awkwardly.

"I said, 'do you want a jacket?'" he repeated slowly. I almost felt as if he was mocking me, but I could tell that he wasn't.

"No, I'm ok," I responded politely.

"Nonsense." The sentence was short, but by the time it was over, he had removed his hooded jacket and thrown it at me, revealing a flimsy blue t-shirt with a smiley face printed in the center. It was an awkward fit, pulling his grey and white striped jacket on because he was much taller than I was.

" I know you?" I asked, trying not to sound rude.

"You're the boyfriend right?" he asked back, not even bothering to look away from the headstone.

"What?" I questioned, blinking back my shock. "How did you know?"

"Tasha told me all about you and Gabe and that bastard Nick. He can rot in hell for all I care."

"Tasha," I repeated to myself as I scanned my memory for anybody with that name. It didn't take long for me to draw a blank. "I don't think I know her."

"That doesn't mean she doesn't know you," he responded cryptically. "Everyone knows Jerry. Or is it Gerald? Maybe Jay?" He had a very elegant way of talking in circles without giving me answers. I felt strangely like I was dealing with a character in Alice in Wonderland. It was starting to make me mad.

"Jerry, to you." I snapped. "And everyone may know me, but I don't have a clue who in the hell you are."

"Sorry," he responded politely as he extended a long, thin hand to me. "I'm Rusty Delmore."

I shook his hand, but still didn't know quite what to make of this guy. He seemed to be at both poles of all traits simultaneously. Kind and vicious, open yet mysterious, comforting but unnerving. And I still didn't even know why he was there. "So did you know Gabe?" I asked curiously.

"Not particularly. I'd passed him a few times in the halls back when I was in school and was just waiting for him to come out. You're lucky you got to him first."

"Sometimes I'm not so sure," I replied without thinking. "I mean, I love him, I still do, but this is a lot of heartbreak to go through at seventeen." I started choking up and turned to leave when Rusty put his hand on my shoulder.

"Don't go," he said.

"Why not?" I questioned as I turned back to look at him.

"You still got my jacket." He smirked, showing it was a joke, so I forced a smile. "And you need some lunch in your tummy."

"I...I don't have much money," I admitted as I felt my face redden slightly.

"My treat," he responded with a kind smile. I was starting to like that smile.

"Oh, no thanks, I couldn't," I started, but was cut off by him grabbing my wrist stubbornly.

"Nonsense. Tasha said you would need a friend, so I decided to find you." I dug my heels into the ground as he started to walk away.

"Who is Tasha?" I asked him.

"She goes to school with you," he stated simply. "She's my eyes and ears there. When she heard your story, she thought maybe I could help you get through things."

"Thanks," I said pulling my wrist from his grip. "But no thanks. I'm not some kinda sad-sack charity case. I can do just fine on my own."

"Maybe you can," he responded softly, "but I can't."

“What are you talking about?” I asked, turning around and coming face-to-face with one of the cutest “puppy-dog” looks ever.

“I don’t wanna eat lunch alone. Please don’t make me,” he begged in an over-done attempt at a pathetic voice. “PLEASE,” he cried out, sinking to his knees in sheer melodramatic comedy. I laughed and blushed at the same time.

“Ok, fine. Just stop; you’re making a scene,” I almost begged.

He stood up and brushed his knees off with a cocky smirk. His smile was infectious and soon I, too, was smiling as we walked out to his car. “I’m still really confused,” I admitted as we climbed into his Chevy Cavalier. “So this Tasha girl, who I don’t even know, heard that Gabe was murdered and decided I needed a new friend?”

“It’s more than that,” he responded as he drove. “I’ve been through some bad shit myself. I’m good at coping. I figured maybe I could help.”

“But why?”

“Why what?” he asked confused.

“Why would a stranger I don’t even know offer to help me out?”

“Cuz I’m amazing,” he responded playfully. “But seriously. Nick Nash and his brother have been causing shit for us for way too long. Nick blames you for finally getting locked up, and that means the shit is about to hit the fan for you. It wouldn’t hurt you to have a few more friends.”

I sat there in silence for a few moments. Not only did Nick murder my boyfriend, he blamed me for getting arrested and, from the sound of it, planned on making my life hell for it. Just when I thought things couldn’t possibly get any worse, God always found a new way to shit on me. “How could he do that?” I asked once I recovered. “He’s in jail.”

“Honey, Nick may have been a complete and total asshole, but he still somehow had friends,” he replied.

“I don’t get how,” I said while making a face.

“Me neither.”

We both laughed and talked as he drove us to a Wendy’s. For life being so horrible at that time, I felt oddly at peace around Rusty. I knew next to nothing about him, but something about his demeanor relaxed me.

He had a certain elegance to his walk as he strutted into the restaurant. I would have felt extremely inferior around anybody except Rusty. Even though he had an extremely confident aura about him, I could tell that he didn’t feel he was better than anybody else. We got our food, which he paid for, and walked towards a small table in the back. As we walked, people stopped to stare. I wasn’t quite used to people staring at me for being gay. I never really set off people’s suspicions the way that Rusty must have. It was uncomfortable for me, but I could tell he was used to it.

“So you used to go to my school?”

“Yeah,” he responded a little hesitantly.

“So did you graduate?”

“Not really...” Again, I detected a note of hesitation in his voice. I decided not to press the issue.

“Oh, ok,” I responded as I idly played with my French fry.

“I dropped out,” he said bluntly. “I was catching too much crap and you don’t need school to be an artist.”

“Oh,” I said softly. “I didn’t know. Who would try to start shit with you?” I reached across the table and gently rubbed his arm.

“I would have totally helped you out.” He grabbed my hand and held it gently in his on the table, but I had to pull mine away quickly.

“I’m sorry,” he apologized quietly. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

“No,” I responded as I felt my face redden. “You didn’t do anything wrong. I just...”

“I know,” Rusty replied sympathetically. “I understand completely.” I smiled at him as we both finished eating, and then I stood up and threw our trash away.

Rusty led me out to his car and unlocked it just as we saw a white Buick roll into the parking lot. I felt my heart stop. I recognized the car immediately. “Just get into the car,” Rusty said as we watched the large car roll up next to his. I was frozen in place, however, and couldn’t move. That was Nick’s car. How could he be here? He was supposed to be in jail. “Jerry, I said get into the car.”

“I’m not running away,” I said boldly.

I stared at the car and watched as a boy got out. He looked much like the one who had haunted my dreams since murdering Gabe, only taller and with a hooked nose. Those same steely blue eyes bore right through me. There was no denying that he was Nick’s brother.

“Oh, look,” he said cruelly. “The faggot has a new boyfriend.”

“Shut up, Carter,” Rusty responded protectively.

“Must not have taken you long to move on,” he continued, ignoring Rusty and talking straight to me. I balled up my fists in anger, blinking back tears. “So if you don’t love him, I guess you won’t care what we did at the cemetery.” My blood ran cold as he said that. Surely he wasn’t evil enough to touch his grave.

“Shut the fuck up, Carter!” Rusty was suddenly right in his face, pushing their noses together as he screamed. I watched as three other guys got out of the large white car, one holding a baseball bat. They were Nick’s friends and Gabe’s former teammates.

“Let’s go, Rusty,” I said and we climbed back into his car. I saw the four boys mocking us as we drove off, but couldn’t hear what they said.

I noticed Rusty was gripping the steering wheel incredibly tight, so I rubbed his thigh gently to get him to relax. “I fucking hate those low-life maggots!”

“I know,” I responded. “I do too.” I wanted to cry, but knew I had to be strong in front of Rusty. “I wanna go see what they did.”

Rusty drove us to the cemetery and we got out of the car near Gabe’s headstone. I was nervous as I ran ahead of him. I felt my body go cold and tears jump into my eyes when I saw the two poster board signs that were attached to Gabe’s grave. “God laughs when fags die,” one read, with confetti, streamers, and a party hat stuck on it, as well as an obnoxious large smiley face. “God bless Nick Nash,” the other simply read.

I ripped the signs off and threw them to the ground before falling to Gabe’s grave crying. Rusty helped me to my feet and wrapped his thin arms around my shoulders as I sobbed. “Why do they hate us?” I cried softly.

“I don’t know,” he responded, gently stroking my hair as I cried into his shoulder. “But I swear to God, I am going to make those fuckers pay.”