Live for Me by Andy Deats

Live for Me
Part Four
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.


It had been a while since I'd been to church, yet that was where I found myself going back to. Saint Paul's Parish on Main Street had once been a source of extreme comfort for me. However, since coming out to my parents and being preached at about eternal damnation every Sunday for an entire church service, I hadn't gone back. If God had given up on me, I figured, why should I waste my time worshiping him?

Rusty had showed up at his apartment after Michael had gotten back with our dinner, a bucket of chicken from the local restaurant. We were sitting eating as he walked through the door and stopped dead in his tracks. “What are you guys doing here?” he asked.

“We came to look for you,” Tasha explained. “You just ran off, and never told anybody where you were going?”

“Didn't you think that was a sign?” he snapped at her. “I didn't want to see any of you people.”

I stood up slowly and walked towards him. “Rusty, please, we're trying to help you,” I told him as I approached. He pushed me away and I smelled beer coming from his breath.

“I don't need your damn help,” he told me coldly. He looked dead in my eyes as he spoke his next words. “I don't need you. I don't want you. I never want to see you again.”

I took s few steps back and looked down at the ground, tears forming in my eyes as I wondered why he would say such a thing just hours after telling me that he loved me. “Rusty, I...” When I looked up, I saw Michael swing and punch Rusty square in the jaw, knocking the taller boy to the ground.

“Don't you ever say that to Jay again,” he growled.

“Michael!” I yelled at him. Tasha got between him and Rusty to stop him from doing anything else, and he turned to look at me. “Stop it! Don't hurt him,” I pleaded.

“Jay, he was...”

“I don't care,” I told him. “You shouldn't have hit him.”

Rusty stood up. “Leave,” he commanded. “All of you.”

“Rusty,” I said softly.

“Leave.” Michael put his hand on my lower back and guided me out the door, followed by Tasha. A sad look was etched across her face, and I hugged her quickly.

“It's ok,” I told her. “It's not your fault.”

“I should have figured he'd come back drunk,” she told us. “He does this sometimes.”

“Tasha, it's ok,” Michael told her. “Let's just get on our way. We can drop you off at your house and then Jerry and I can go home.”

“Actually, Michael,” I said as we walked towards his car, “I'd like to drop by my church if you wouldn't mind dropping me off.”

“Saint Paul's?” he asked surprised. “Sure, if you're sure you wanna go.” I just nodded and we climbed back into his SUV. He started the car, and we pulled out of the parking lot, me sitting on Rusty's journal.

I walked nervously up the large stone steps and opened the wooden door nervously. It had been nearly a year since I had opened that door, and it was heavier than I remembered. I stepped slowly into the entrance room, bracing myself against the cold that I knew was to come as soon as I walked into the nave. No matter what the weather was like outside, my church always found a way to be cold.

There were a few people sprinkled throughout the pews, but it was far enough away from the start time of the service that very few people would be here. I was glad for that. I went to the very back pew, knowing that the front few would be filled up first. Everybody in Riverton that went to church had to make sure that everybody else in Riverton who went to church knew that they went to church. I knelt by the pew, did my cross like a good boy, and side-stepped in slowly.

Lowering the kneeler with my foot, I sank to my knees on the cushion. I crossed my hands in front of me and closed my eyes just like I had been taught so many years ago, back when my parents still loved me. Back when they felt like I was going to heaven. Back when they cared if I even did. Keeping my eyes closed, I raised my head slightly towards the roof of the church.

“God,” I said inside my head. “This is Jerry. I know it's been a while since we've talked, and I'm truly sorry for that. I don't know if you really hate me or not. I was always taught that you were loving and forgiving, though, so I'm hoping that you can do me a favor. It's about my friend Rusty. He's gay too, but I'm hoping that you don't really mind about all that.” I sighed softly before I continued. “I just want him to be happy. I think he's going through a lot of stuff right now, but I was hoping that maybe you could help him to get through it alright. I want him to be happy again, like when we first met. Even if you need to get me out of his life to make him happy again, I'm ok with that. I'm used to losing people.

“Also, if you happen to have any miracles left over, I wouldn't mind maybe getting a little bit of peace myself. At least for like a day or something? That would be wonderful.” I felt a hand on my shoulder, and jumped slightly at the surprise. I opened my eyes and looked at it's owner, ready to apologize for taking their pew, and instead saw Father Shepherd's kind face smiling at me.

“Jerry, it's been quite a while since you've been here,” he spoke, his voice thick in Irish accent. I always used to think that he sounded like Big Bird when I was younger.

“Hi, Father Shepherd,” I responded, forcing a smile. “I'm sorry about not being here for a while. It's just after I...”

“Came out?” he asked, his calm hand still resting on my shoulder. “Father Kelly doesn't take kindly to those kinds of things. I told him he should let up on it some, but he is one stubborn man.”

I blushed slightly as he so bluntly exposed the situation to me. “ mean, you don't have any problem with it?” I asked him nervously.

“Problem? No, not at all. My brother's gay, in fact, and there is no way that he is going to go anywhere but straight to heaven. And besides, all hate does is drive people out of the church and, therefore, money out of the collection plates.” He winked at me as he said it, and I laughed slightly. “So what brings you back to our church tonight?” he asked me.

“Well, I honestly wasn't planning on attending the service,” I told him. “I just needed to come in for a few minutes to pray about a couple of things.”

“Well, you're more than welcome to stay for mass,” he offered. It was obviously not a command, but merely an invitation. I shook my head slightly.

“I'd rather just leave,” I told him.

“Is it about the homosexuality thing?” he asked bluntly. “If you have a few minutes, I'd like to speak to you in my office about that.”

I stood up nervously, and he walked me to the front of the church, his hand still on my shoulder. I heard some of the people that were already in the pews whispering amongst each other, but mostly ignored them. I was sure that Dad had told everybody why I had stopped attending church, and it was the gossip of everybody. They sure didn't have anything better to talk about.

Father Shepherd opened a small wooden door by the altar and guided me inside a cramped room. I sat in the little wooden chair on one side of his desk, and he took a seat in the much larger chair on the other side. “So you stopped coming to church because you were afraid God judges you for your homosexuality?” he asked.

I nodded. “That's what Father Kelly says, and so do my parents. It even says so right in the Bible.” If I knew anything, I knew the parts of the Bible that condemned me. I had heard them enough that I had them memorized.

Leviticus 18:22 'do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman. That is detestable.' That was always one of my Mom's favorites. My dad was more prone to Corinthians 6:9-10, which said 'do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.'

Father Shepherd chuckled slightly, taking my off guard. “The Bible says a lot of things that people don't listen to anymore,” he told me. “People just choose to listen to those verses that suit their own needs the best. Has your father never gotten drunk?”

“Well, yes sir, he has.”

“Then he too, shall be banned from inheriting the kingdom of heaven. Has your mother eaten shellfish at any time in her life?” I nodded. “Well, no kingdom of heaven for her! Leviticus 11:10 says that's an abomination as well. Have you ever argued with your parents?” Again I nodded. “Well, then, we have to put you to death. Leviticus 20:9. Has your father ever trimmed his beard?”

I started laughing at this point, and he chuckled. “I assume you get my point by now?” he asked me seriously.

“Yes, father,” I responded. “But why do people choose to listen to the hateful messages of the Bible and not the nicer parts?” I was sure that I sounded like a small child when I asked, but he just smiled back at me.

“People do that with everything. But the Bible is accepted by a large percentage of the world as fact. It is the ultimate truth to many people. With great power comes great responsibility.” I laughed as my priest quoted Spider-Man. “Unfortunately, some people decide to abuse that power to force their own views and opinions into other people's lives. But just like I don't judge all gays on the acts of one, you shouldn't judge all Catholics on the acts of a few.”

“Are you trying to get me to come back to church?” I asked.

“I'm not going to force you into anything that you don't feel comfortable doing, but if you would like to come to church on a regular basis, I wanted you to feel more than welcome to.”

“Thank you, Father. But...I think I'd rather not. I honestly would like to avoid seeing my parents as much as possible.”

“Problems between the three of you?” he asked kindly.

I told Father Shepherd all about what happened between my parents and me, starting as far back as I could remember. As I talked to him, I found more and more of my memories returning to me.

 I ended up telling him the entire story of my life, confessing the things that I had done and how my parents had reacted. I told him about them kicking me out after I refused to find a girlfriend, and about going to live with Michael. I told him all about meeting Rusty and how I felt about him, as well as being apparently attacked on Elm. I also told him about the way that Rusty had acted when he told me he loved me and how he acted right before I had shown up at the church.

“I wish I knew what to say to you to help make it better,” he told me sincerely. “If you ever need anything, even just to talk, I'm here for you, as I'm sure anybody else in the church is. You need but to ask. As far as trying to avoid your parents, you could sit in one of the back pews,” he pointed out.

I nodded solemnly. “I'll consider it, Father.”

“Well, unless you need anything else, you are free to go whenever you wish.” I stood up and walked to the door, but stopped before opening it. “Is something the matter?” Father Shepherd asked.

“My parents are out there,” I told him softly. Tears formed in my eyes as I swallowed down the lump in the back of my throat. That was the first time I had seen them since they kicked me out of the house and, apparently, their lives. They didn't even show up when I was attacked. They didn't care enough to see if I was even alive.

“Do you want me to walk you out?” he asked. I knew they wouldn't say anything in front of the Priest, so I nodded.

“But can we not make a show out of it?” He laughed as he stood up and put his hand once again on my shoulder.

“Of course.”

We walked out of his office and I flinched slightly as the door creaked. The entire congregation turned their heads to look at us as Father Shepherd walked me out the door and down one of the side aisles. I looked towards my parents and made brief eye contact with my father before looking down at the ground again. I heard hushed whispers throughout the pews, but Father Kelly continued on with his service. I heard him stress the words “sinner” and “damnation” a few times.

At the back of the church Father Shepherd hugged me quickly. “Peace be with you,” he whispered into my ear.

“And also with you,” I responded before turning and leaving the church. Michael was sitting in his car waiting for me, just as we had discussed before I had gone in. I walked over and climbed inside, a slight smile playing at the corners of my mouth.

“Did it go ok?” he asked.

“Yeah, how about with you?” He blushed bright red, and I grinned. “So you got some, huh?”

“Shut up,” he whined. “It's not like that. But Tasha and I are going to go out this Friday. And she also agreed to watch out for you when you go back to school tomorrow.”

“Oh,” I responded softly. “I forgot about that.”

“Do you feel like going back tomorrow?” he asked me. “You know you don't have to if you'd rather stay home for a few more days.”

I shook my head. “No, I need to go. I missed a lot in the hospital, and I need to be sure that I can graduate so that I can get into a good college.” He just nodded and drove us towards his house.


It's funny how being the town sad-sack suddenly entitles you to be much more popular than before. I got out of Michael's SUV and met Tasha in front of the school, forcing a smile at her. “You ready for this?” she asked.

“Hell no,” I responded laughing some. It was only partially a joke, and she knew that. She forced a smile back to me and clutched her books to her chest as we started the long walk towards the school. People had a tendency to gather in groups standing in the courtyard of our school, and those groups had a tendency to gossip. Apparently the gossip machines were in full effect the day that I decided to go back to Riverton High.

“Hey, dude, where ya been?” one guy asked. It was obvious by his voice and laughter that he didn't hold any concern for my well-being at all.

“There's a lot of dick around here to suck,” his friend replied. Their laughter doubled in volume, and started to spread to other small groups nearby.

“Just keep walking,” Tasha said under her breath. “They'll grow up eventually.”

We walked into the school together, and I saw tears forming in her eyes. “What's the matter?” I asked.

“I'm sick of all their shit. This is exactly what happened to Rusty, and I don't want to see you go through the same thing.”

“I'll be fine,” I told her. “I was a nobody for so long, maybe some ridicule will be a refreshing change of pace.” She looked at me, and I gave her a goofy grin to let her know that I was kidding. All I got from her was a giggle.

She hooked her arm in mine and we started walking towards my homeroom. Unlike on the outside, nobody inside of the school said a word to me. Normally, that wasn't a problem, but this time people actually stopped their conversations to stare at me as I walked past. “They think I'm a freak,” I said to Tasha out the corner of my mouth.

“They're the freaks,” she responded, anger pouring out of her words. “Fucking parasites just live to feed off of other people's misery.” She gave some chick the finger as we walked into homeroom and I took my seat in the back. “I'm gonna hang out with you until it's closer to the start of homeroom,” she announced, sitting on my desk with a smile.

“Hey,” one guy said to me as he walked in the room. “Did they get back together?”

“Who?” I asked, my confusion likely showing on my face.

“Your butt cheeks,” he said, laughing as if he just heard the funniest joke ever. Some of the idiots around him joined in.

“Alright, listen here, ass-face!” Tasha had stood up and was face-to-face with the boy who had made the joke before I had time to react. “Just because Jerry is gay doesn't give you the right to make fun of him! You're not all high and mighty. You're no better than he is!” She was yelling right in the boy's face, and he didn't have a response for her at all. “He, unlike you, is nice and sweet and caring and actually gives a flying fuck what other people think!”

“Tasha, what is going on here?” my homeroom teacher asked as he stepped into the room.

“Oh, sorry Mr Brite,” Tasha responded sheepishly, a far cry from the angry tone that she had just a few seconds earlier. “I was just defending my friend.”

“Well, if you could leave my class, that would be greatly appreciated. I'd like to get the day started without a fight.” Tasha left the room, and Mr Brite walked over to me. “Hey, Jerry. You doing ok?” he asked kindly. I nodded and put my head down on my arms. It was going to be a long day.

My classes followed that formula for the majority of the day. I avoided teachers' questions as much as possible while shrugging off jokes, insults, and stares. I was never quite so happy that I could remember as when the final bell rang, signaling my dismissal from hell. At least I was going to go to college at the end of the year, I told myself.

I met up with Tasha out front of the school, and we walked together over to Michael's SUV. She climbed into the front as usual, and I sat in the back. “Hey, you two. How was school?” I grunted from the back seat and Tasha rolled her eyes. “No good?” he asked.

“They treat me like a side-show freak,” I groaned.

“Some assholes were picking on him, but I stopped them,” Tasha told him.

“Hardly,” I told her bluntly. “At lunch I was walking with my tray and people kept backing up in their chairs just so I couldn't walk through any of the aisles.”

“Well, fuck all of them,” Michael said. That was his solution to any problem that he didn't know the answer to, and a large reason why he failed a couple of math classes over the years.

I sat in silence until we got back to the house, at which point I climbed quickly out of Michael's car and walked inside with my backpack. “Hello, honey, how was your first day back?” Michael's mom greeted me.

“I'm sorry, Mrs Lorenze, I'd really just like a nap. Can we talk later?” She nodded, and I went up the stairs two at a time to the guest room. I opened the door and threw myself on the bed, laying on my stomach as I dug Rusty's journal out from under my pillows and opened it up.

I hadn't read any more since the day before, so I opened it up to the first page.

“May 7, 2008.

Today, I came out at work. They wasted little time in firing me. I really liked that job, but I guess that's how the fairy tale goes. Boy meets girl, boy gets job, boy comes out, boy loses job. And they all live happily-ever-fuckin-after.”

I turned the page, and read on.

“May 13, 2008.

Being broke sucks. I've started to sell some of my paintings, but the money is too little and infrequent to really live off of. I think I'm gonna have to find something else to do to make ends meet.”

“May 18, 2008

Today I did something I never thought that I'd do. I turned a trick. I had sex with a man for money. I sold my body. I gave away the only thing that I can really call my own. I abused my body and let a man use me, all for a mere $200. The worst part of it? I'm too ashamed to even spend the money.”

I gasped slightly when I read that. Rusty had sold his body? I couldn't even believe it. It seemed like there was any other number of ways for him to make money, and he chose to do that. I closed the book and tucked it safely back under the pillows.

“Jerry!” Tasha said as she busted into my room suddenly. Her voice made it obvious that she was holding back tears.

“What?” I groaned in a fake-sleepy voice. “I was trying to take a nap.”

“It's Rusty,” she told me, starting to cry. “He's been arrested. They think he murdered somebody.”