Jason announces to his family that he’s gay. His sisters and his father tell him that it doesn’t make any difference, they love him regardless of whether he’s gay or straight or whatever. But what about his mother? Can she come to accept that her son is gay?
At nine o’clock Jason’s alarm started playing Bruno Mars’ Grenade from his playlist, waking him slowly as the song built in volume. He’d been lying on his right side holding his pillow in both arms under his head. He turned over and stretched. He thought about the day ahead. He’d told Ron he’d be at his house by ten. He thought about getting up as the playlist segued into Hair by Lady Gaga then Snow Patrol’s Hands Open. The strong and repetitious beat of that last track encouraged him to get out of bed and get ready.
After showering and brushing his teeth and dressing in shorts made from cutoff jeans, a bright orange pocket T, and Kicks, he went downstairs to have breakfast. He found himself alone in the kitchen. He assumed that everyone else must have finished. He looked in the family room, the home office, and called upstairs for his mom, Jen, and Thea. They all must be out, he surmised.
He checked the time. Nine thirty-five. He had plenty of time for a couple eggs, sausage patties, and rye toast. Jason learned to cook watching his mother, and felt comfortable in the kitchen, certainly more so than either Jen or Thea. The sausage patties came pre-cooked and took a few minutes in the microwave. He put two slices of rye bread in the toaster oven, and quickly cooked two eggs over easy.
He finished eating and cleaning up, including washing the frying pan, and left his mom a note reminding her that he’d gone to Ron’s for the day.
Timing his arrival perfectly, he rang the Cantham’s doorbell at exactly ten o’clock. Ron pulled the door open.
“Hey, Jase, you’re on time!”
“Make that exactly on time, please.”
“Point taken,” Ron conceded as he ushered Jason into the entry hall where he took off his shoes, standard operating procedure at the Cantham home. “Did you think of anything we can do today?”
“Yeah, and you’re not going to be thrilled. We need to get our moms together to figure out who’s going to get which parts of the food for Friday’s tennis and pool party.”
“I have no problem with that, Jase. My mom can call or even meet with your mom later this afternoon. Is your mom at home?”
“No,” Jason replied, “I don’t know where she went. I assume she’ll be back soon, maybe around noon. Maybe we can check with your mom and see what time works for her.”
“We’ll have to do that later. She’s not home.”
Jason stood looking at Ron. The serious expression faded from his face and he lit up like a Christmas ornament. “She’s not… you mean…?”
“YES!” Ron shouted. “She’ll be back around eleven thirty.”
“And she left us alone, in your house, to do….”
“She left me alone, in my house, to have hot and torrid sex with you!” With that Ron grabbed Jason’s arm and almost dragged him down the hall and into his bedroom. When they got there he left the door open, and pulled Jason’s T up and over his arms and head. Jason hadn’t expected to be undressed, but he gleefully joined in by pulling Ron’s T off of him just as quickly. Next came Jason’s shorts, and he kicked off his Kicks to make short work of removing the shorts. Then he did the same to Ron’s tennis shoes and jeans.
The boyfriends stood looking at each other, dressed in only boxer briefs worn by Jason and the tighty whities worn by Ron. Despite these impediments both boys showed their obvious excitement. Those final impediments were removed and Ron pulled Jason into a hug.
“Let’s go to bed. I left it unmade so it would be ready for us.”
After snuggling together in Ron’s bed, Jason asked, “Why did you leave your bedroom door open?”
“So we can hear my mom when she gets home. That’ll give us a couple minutes to get decent.”
“I think we’re decent now. How ‘bout we use those couple minutes to get dressed instead?”
“Sounds like a plan, Jase, sounds like a plan. Now let’s kiss and touch each other and get this show on the road!”
Tammy Cantham didn’t know that her son had invited Jason to come to their home this morning. Her trip to the County Child Protective Services office would end up taking almost an hour longer than she expected, and she wouldn’t be home until after twelve noon. But Ron and Jason didn’t know they had more time than expected. Instead they would find their fear of being interrupted strong enough for them to conclude their ‘hot and torrid sex’ session by ten forty-five.
Despite their promise to Ron’s folks to not have sex until they were in college, they had no regrets and no guilt about what they did. They were happy — no, they were ecstatic. This had been the first time they’d done anything in the daytime, and having daylight enhanced their pleasure. It allowed them to see each other in the nude, and they spent much of their time simply reveling in viewing and touching each other’s bodies.
After they showered and got dressed Ron suggested they have a snack.
“Yeah, I’m hungry,” Jason responded. “What do you have?”
“How about a chimichanga? I can heat a couple of them for us.”
They walked to the kitchen and Ron opened the freezer. “How many you want, Jase? One or two?”
“One should be enough.”
“Okay. What do you want to drink? We have Coke, ginger ale, and lime soda.”
“Ginger ale sounds good.”
“Okay, how ‘bout you get two cans from the ‘fridge?”
“Got it,” Jason replied.
Ron unwrapped and heated two chimicangas in the microwave, then put them in the toaster oven for a few minutes, turning them a couple times, to crisp the tortilla. He put them on plates and they sat at the breakfast bar eating their snack.
“What do you want to do?” Jason asked.
“How about we go to school and shoot some baskets?
“You’re not spooked about going back to Hillcrest because of what happened yesterday, are you, Jase?”
“Nah. Those three assholes coming on campus yesterday, that was not a usual thing to happen. Besides, today I know my hero has my back.”
Ron blushed. “Can that ‘hero’ stuff, Jase.”
“Nope. That’s what you were, and as soon as we put that vid on YouTube everyone will know how much of a hero you really are.” Jason smiled at his boyfriend.
Ron lightly punched Jason’s bicep. “Shit, I’ll never live this down. Now all the bullies will be coming to see if they can take me out.”
Jason looked worried. “You think that would happen?”
“Yeah, if that vid gets on YouTube.”
“I’ll make sure it doesn’t get posted by Jen and I’ll ask my dad’s lawyer to make sure the police don’t post it either.”
“Thanks, Jase. You finished eating?”
After they cleaned the kitchen they grabbed four bottles of water, Ron wrote a note for his mom, then he got his basketball and checked that it was fully inflated. Everything done, they left.
They arrived at Hillcrest High at about quarter past twelve, and walked past the gym to the outdoor basketball courts.
“Who’s that on the court?” Ron asked.
“The tall guy is Greg Derringer. I don’t recognize the shorter guy.”
They walked over to the courts, and Jason waved and called out, “Hey, Greg!”
“Hi, guys,” Greg replied. “My cousin Adam and I were playing horse. You want to play a little two-on-two?”
“Sure!” Jason replied.
“Let’s do it!” Ron added.
They’d been playing for about half an hour when they noticed two girls walk up and stand watching them. When they had a break in play, Greg stood holding the ball and grinned at the girls.
“Hi, back at’cha,” the taller of the girls replied. “Can we join in? We could play three-on-three to 50 points.”
“Uh…” Greg started, but the second girl interrupted him.
“My name is Bev Martin, and,” pointing to the other girl, “this is Linda Gayner. We’re on the Hillcrest girls’ basketball team, so we know how to play if you were worried or something.” She grinned and put out her hands. Greg passed the ball to her and she started dribbling and moving.
“Damn, you’re good!” Ron said. “I didn’t even know we had a girls’ basketball team at Hillcrest.”
“Our season just ended,” Linda said. “We got into the playoffs and got to the second round when we lost to Bishop O’Dowd. They ended up winning this year’s North Coast Section championship. Fourth year in a row for them.”
“O’Dowd is always good,” Bev added.
“How come your season is over and the boys’ basketball team is still playing?” Jason asked.
“Our season is shorter because there aren’t very many schools that have girls’ basketball as a varsity sport. We’re lucky to have enough girls interested and we did pretty good this year. We won the league championship and our game against Anderson Valley in the playoffs.”
“Hey, that’s cool. Are you going to the Cathedral game Saturday afternoon?”
“Absolutely! We wouldn’t miss that for anything,” Bev replied.
“So, you guys want to play?” Linda asked, and all four guys nodded. “Since we’re on the varsity team and more experienced, we’ll split up. Linda’s the tallest so she’ll go with the two shorter guys.” She pointed to Ron and Jason. “I’ll play with the other two guys. So, what are your names?”
“I’m Greg and this is Adam. We’re cousins.”
“I’m Ron, this is Jase.”
“Cool, let’s play!” Linda said, stealing the ball from Bev. “Let’s flip a coin to see who inbounds first. Any of you guys have a coin?”
“I’ve got a quarter, we can use that,” Adam offered.
Adam flipped (it was his coin) and Linda called ‘tails’. It came up tails, so the team of Linda, Ron, and Jason inbounded.
The game was close. While Bev and Linda did most of the scoring, the four boys contributed to the score even though it turned out that the girls looked like they were seniors and the boys were freshmen. Linda, Ron, and Jason’s team scored 50 or more points first; the final score ended up 51 to 47.
Jason enjoyed playing with and against the girls. They played close, meaning the boys and girls bumped into each other often. That he found to be something very different for him. The girls were strong athletes with hard bodies, but they had parts that were soft and that, each time Jason and one of the girls bumped into one another, he found interesting and sort of fun. Ron, on the other hand, didn’t notice the softer parts of the girls. He concentrated on the ball, and made several three-point shots and that helped his team. The most important player on their team of course turned out to be Linda. When they had the ball she scored at will; her height was the key to their victory. Bev kept it close with a few three-point shots.
When the game ended they each grabbed a bottle of water and sat on a bench resting.
“You guys are pretty good,” Linda said. “You’re sophomores?”
“Ron and I are freshmen,” Jason replied.
“Adam and I are freshmen too,” Greg added. “Are you seniors?”
“No,” Bev replied, “We’re juniors. We probably look older because we’re so much taller.”
“So how long have you been on the Hillcrest girls’ team?” Jason asked.
“We started when we were freshmen.”
“Were you on the JV team first?”
“Too few girls go out for basketball for Hillcrest to have a girls’ JV team. Linda and I went out for the varsity team and made it. It’s the best thing Linda and I ever did, I think.” Linda nodded he head in agreement.
“You’ve been friends for a long time?” Ron asked.
“I guess you’d say that. We’re cousins and we’ve lived across the street from each other since we were born.”
“That’s cool,” Greg said, and grinned. “Adam and I are cousins too. Maybe cousins make good basketball players.”
“You four guys should think about going out for basketball, even if all you do is intramural. Your ball handling is good, and your shooting is too. I’m especially impressed with Ron’s three-point shooting. For a guy who’s on the short side you still made four three-point shots and only missed one. Too many kids your age try to be Steph Curry and gun their three-point shots when they aren’t set or when they’re being closely defended. You study your shots, and that’s good.”
Ron blushed. “Thanks.”
They continued talking about their game, and the boys asked Bev and Linda to point out things they did that could be improved. The girls were more than willing to do some basketball tutoring. They enjoyed the four boys because they treated them as peers and appreciated their knowledge of basketball.
“I’m hungry!” Ron announced. “Anyone want to go to George’s for burgers?”
Everyone wanted to go for a burger, so they headed to the burger place, a short walk from the campus. They were able to give their orders immediately, and pushed two tables together so all six could sit comfortably. They continued chatting about school, which made Jason curious about Adam.
“So, Adam, you’re sitting here surrounded by Hillcrest students. Where to you go to school?”
“I’m a freshman at Sehome High.” He grinned.
“Ohhh-kay. Where’s Sehome High?”
“Bellingham, Washington. My folks came down to visit my cuz and his family, and to get some sun during spring break.”
“You enjoying yourself?” Bev asked.
“Totally! We went into San Francisco and that was very cool, Greg and I went hiking on Mt. Diablo, we’ve been shopping in Walnut Creek, and today Greg gave me a tour of Hillcrest High, and because he brought along his basketball we started playing horse. That’s when you guys showed up, then you two girls’ varsity basketball players. I really liked playing with you, and the tips you gave us are great.”
Jason’s phone started playing his ring-tune. “Sorry, this is my mom so I’m gonna have to take it.”
He stepped outside to have some privacy.
“Hi, Jase. Where are you?”
“At school. Ron and I have been playing basketball, and we stopped at George’s for a burger.”
“Can you be home for a meeting by two thirty?”
“Uh, yeah, I guess. Let’s see, what time is it now?”
“Ten minutes after two.”
“I’ll be there. What’s the meeting?”
“Your dad set up an appointment for us to meet with an attorney about what happened yesterday. His name is Carter Allen, and the appointment is at three thirty. Since you’ve been playing basketball you’ll need to shower and change so we can be ready to leave by three.”
“I’ll leave in a few, so I’ll be home by two-thirty.”
“Okay. See you then. Bye, Jase.”
Jason walked back to the others, sat down, and finished his burger. “Sorry, I have to go home. My dad needs me for something a.s.a.p. You guys can have my fries. Nice to see you, Greg, and to meet Adam, Bev, and Linda. Thanks for the three-on-three game. Maybe we can get together again sometime. Ron, I’ll call you later about yesterday.” He stared at Ron for a couple seconds, and got a brief nod in return.
Jason got home at two twenty-five, five minutes earlier than he promised.
As he headed upstairs he called out, “Mom, I’m home. I’m going to shower and get dressed.”
After showering he put on some boxer-briefs and a white T, and clean khakis and a light blue button-down shirt. He thought about wearing his Kicks, but decided instead to put on a pair of tan socks and his brown Rockports. He checked the time, two fifty-five. Plenty of time, assuming the attorney’s office wasn’t too far away.
Jason pictured lawyers as old guys with white hair. Carter Allen didn’t fit that description at all. He looked young, maybe thirty years old, and he had a nice office in the law firm Begley, Gerringer, & Koch.
After introductions were finished, Carter Allen told them what he’d found out about the perpetrators. “The guys that attacked Jason and his friend Ron, and that are in the video that you emailed me, are Joe Turner, Link Scheer, and Devon Barker. Sheer is the one holding Ron, Barker the one holding Jason. All three go to Irvington Continuation High School.
“Joe Turner and Link Scheer are being held pending release if they can get someone to put up the fifty-thousand-dollar bail for each of them. So far their parents have shown no interest in making bail. Devon Barker was bailed out by his parents, and he has expressed interest in working out a plea bargain with the District Attorney.
“The video is very convincing evidence. The District Attorney might not be interested in a plea bargain unless Devon Barker testifies against the other two, which will provide the prosecution with a stronger case against Joe Turner and Link Scheer, and they won’t have to try Devon Barker.”
The discussion continued until Carter Allen asked if there were any questions.
“I have a question,” Jason said. “How old are those guys?”
“Joe Turner is eighteen, Link Scheer is nineteen, and Devon Barker is seventeen. All three are significantly older and stronger than you and Ron Cantham. That means Turner and Scheer will be prosecuted as adults, and Erik Noonan, the prosecutor from the district attorney’s office assigned to this case, said he’s going to ask that Devon Barker be prosecuted as an adult as well.”
“I keep wondering,” Jason’s mother asked, “why those boys didn’t see Jen taking a video of what they were doing.”
“I wondered the same thing, so I asked Erik Noonan. Assuming that there’s a plea agreement, he’s going to ask Devon Barker if he saw Jen taking the video. He thinks Barker will cave and go for the plea agreement to avoid being prosecuted as an adult.”
Tim Phillips also had a question. “Will Ron Cantham be held accountable for anything since he fought off those three guys and probably injured all three of them?”
“It’s remotely possible that a civil suit could be filed against Ron Cantham by any of the perpetrators. I don’t think they have the resources to pay an attorney to take their case, and I don’t believe that any attorney would take it on a pro bono basis.”
“What’s pro bono mean?” Jason asked.
“That’s when an attorney takes a case and absorbs all costs so the client doesn’t pay anything and the attorney takes a large percentage of any judgment if they prevail in court. Otherwise the attorney gets nothing.”
“What are the chances of those three guys or their parents suing me claiming I was involved in injuring them?”
“Again, I think that’s very unlikely because of the evidence on the video.”
“What about my cellphone?” Jen asked. “The policeman said they might want it as evidence in this case. They have my SD card; why would they need the phone itself?”
“They might want it to show that the video was taken using your phone. Or they might want to verify the date and time on the phone are correct, proving the date and time stamp on the video are accurate. I talked to Erik Noonan and he has no plans to take your cellphone.”
“That’s good. My phone has everything, all my friends’ phone numbers and addresses, my calendar, and lots more personal stuff. What about the SD card with the video that I gave them? Will they replace it for me?”
“Excuse me, Jen,” Tim Phillips interrupted, “I bought you a replacement, a thirty-two-gig high speed card. It cost just over twenty-six dollars at BuyMart. I have the receipt. Carter, is there a way I get reimbursed?”
“Unfortunately, no. The District Attorney will use Jen’s original SD card as evidence since it’s the source of the video. When the trial is over they may return it to her unless there’s an appeal by one or more of the defendants. In that case they’ll retain the SD card until the appeal process is exhausted. He wouldn’t be interested in the brand-new SD card you just purchased for Jen. It wasn’t in her phone when the incident occurred.”
“But I have some of my contacts and texts on that SD card,” Jen said, “and they aren’t on my phone. I need the information that’s on that original SD card. Can’t they let me copy it? Or could they do the copying to the SD card that my dad just bought?”
“Jen, I’ll check with Erik Noonan in the district attorney’s office and let you know what he says.”
“Okay, thanks,” Jen said. “Is there a chance of someone in the sheriff’s department posting the video to YouTube?” she asked.
“Slim to none,” Carter replied. “Access to the SD card would be under evidence protocol, and has to be signed out and then back in by the property clerk in the sheriff’s department. If someone in the sheriff’s office posted the video to YouTube it would most likely be discovered and that person would be prosecuted.”
“Did any of those three guys need medical attention?” Tim Phillips asked.
“Yes, Link Scheer needed to have his ankle bandaged where Ron Cantham stomped on it and some skin was scraped off. Then it had to be wrapped with an elastic bandage because he also twisted his ankle when Ron stomped on it. Each of them complained that their testicles and penis were painful as a result being kicked by Ron Cantham. They were given ice packs which each decided hurt more when applied to their crotch.”
“Will we have to testify at their trial?” Jason asked.
“Yes, all three of you are likely to be called to testify as witnesses for the prosecution.”
“What if they plead guilty?” Jen asked.
“Then there won’t be a trial, just a sentencing hearing. You wouldn’t be called to testify at that hearing.”
“What should we do next?” Tim asked.
“Wait until we hear what the District Attorney plans to do. I’ll let you know as soon as I hear anything from Erik Noonan. Do you have any other questions?”
“It’s not a question,” Tim said. “Norm Cantham, Ron’s father, told me that his attorney is Mark Graff.”
“I know Mark. I’ll contact him so we can coordinate information where there wouldn’t be a conflict of interest for our clients.”
“He’s coming with the Canthams to our house tonight to see Jen’s video. Is that a problem?”
“No, that’s a good idea. Otherwise he’d have to make some other arrangement to see the video. If you don’t mind, it would be a good idea to give him a copy of the video.”
“You know, I sent a copy to Ron,” Jen said. “He can email a copy to their attorney today.”
“That’s an even better idea,” Carter told her.
“I’ll text Ron right now and ask him to send it,” Jason added. He sent the text, then let them know. “Okay, I sent him the message.”
After they got home Jason phoned Ron.
“Hey, Jase, how’re they hanging?”
“This line, Ronald Cantham, is not secure so I’m taking the fifth and not answering your question.” Jason chuckled.
“The fifth of what?”
“The fifth of May. That’s when we have to start studying for finals. That’s plenty of fifth for everyone at Hillcrest High School, don’t you think?”
“You’re no friend, reminding me about finals. Yuck.”
“Let’s get on track here, then we can talk about the delight of freshman year finals. Did you get my text and send Jen’s vid to Mark Graff, your dad’s attorney?”
“Yes and no. I got your text, but I’m waiting for my dad to get home before sending the vid to Mark Graff. I’m waiting because I want to make sure it’s okay with him.”
“Oh. I guess that’s a good idea. Is it okay if I tell my dad what you just told me?”
“I don’t see why not. Now, what’s on the plate for tomorrow?”
“There’s only one thing we said we’d do, and that’s go to the Hillcrest basketball practice tomorrow afternoon at two. I’m sure there’s more because Friday we’re having the tennis and pool get-together at my house, and that’s the next day. So there’ll be a lot of shopping for stuff like the salad ingredients for everyone and the avocados for you and me, and I suppose the others too if we want to share.”
“Oh, I love the way you think, Jase. Especially about the avocados. But shouldn’t we have already bought them? Remember what my Aunt Cathy told us about how long it takes for avocados to get ripe?”
“I remembered, so I asked my mom and she said Fresh ‘n Best always has ripe avocados so she’s going to go there and buy them today along with most of the other stuff for the do-it-yourself salad bar.”
“What is it that she’s not going to buy?”
“Eggs, ‘cause she already has plenty. Salad dressing and bacon bits, same reason.”
“So what’s left is the pizza and wings, right?”
“Yup, and she talked to your mom and they figured out how to divide it up between them. I made sure that they’re gonna get both the pizza and the wings from Extreme Pizza.”
Hearing that the cost of the pizzas and wings were going to be split between their parents made Ron feel better because that way it would be fair. “Cool. I guess I’ll see you tonight.”
“Yeah, and don’t have any dessert because my mom’s baking a cherry pie to serve along with vanilla ice cream.”
“That sounds absolutely de-licious. When it’s just me and my folks, we normally have dessert around eight o’clock. We’ll be at your house at seven to look at the vid, so for sure we won’t be eating any dessert at our house before we leave.”
“You know, I’m getting bored looking at that vid. I mean, it’s really good and all that, but I swear I’ve seen it fifty times almost.”
“I know what you mean, Jase. When Jen sent the vid to me last night I think I looked at it maybe twenty or thirty times. I even played it back slo-mo to see exactly how I kicked those guys in the nads, and how I stomped the ankle of the guy who held me. I’m finding it hard to believe that I’m the one who took them out of action.”
“You think you seriously damaged their baby makers, Ron? Like, maybe they can’t make sperms anymore?”
“Nah. I’d would have had to kick and stomp them in their nads a couple dozen times to do any real damage. The only thing that I did would have made their nads hurt like hell for a while.”
“I don’t ever want to get kicked in the balls. Just saying and thinking that is having an effect on me down, there, you know what I mean?”
“No, explain what you mean.”
“They’re trying to climb up into my abdomen and hide.”
Ron busted out laughing. When he finished he told Jason, “That’s very funny Jase. I have this mental picture of your stuff trying to climb inside you and you’re trying to pull everything back out.”
That made Jason laugh. “Now you have something to dream about tonight.”
“That’s harsh, Jase, harsh! But you’re probably right about the dreaming part. Mmmm! I’m definitely going to have to change my sheets tomorrow morning.”
“You’re just a horndog, Ron. But that’s one of the many reasons why I love you.”
“Aww, Jase, you always know the perfect thing to say.”
“I think I’m going to sign off now. I have that English responsive reading project to finish, and I want to reread what I wrote for the World History and Geography project that we have to turn in next week.”
“Okay, I guess I ought’a do the same for that English project. I finished the other a couple days ago. Anyway, I’ll see you tonight at around seven. Bye for now.”
“Bye for now,” Jason repeated and closed the connection.
The Canthams arrived at the Phillips home at seven, and their attorney Mark Graff arrived a few minutes later. They started with Jen’s video, and Ron, Jen, and Jason provided narration. Mark Graff wanted to review sections, so they ended up replaying parts of the video over and over. That soon exceeded Jason, Ron, and Jen’s thresholds of boredom and they got fidgety. Betty noticed, so she called an intermission and served the pie and ice cream, with coffee for those who wanted it.
During this break Mark Graff asked if he could talk to Ron and Jason privately, so they sat at the kitchen table eating their desserts. Mark had several questions.
“My questions are under client privilege, so your answers are confidential. Ron and Jason, the three guys who attacked you called you faggots. Are you gay?”
“Yes,” Ron replied.
“And Ron and I are boyfriends,” Jason added.
“Are you out at school and with your friends?”
Ron looked at Jason, then back at Mark. “We don’t march around school with signs around our necks that read ‘I’m Gay!’ So we’re out, but only to friends.”
“Are those friends also gay?”
“Some of them are gay, some aren’t,” Ron answered.
“Is there any way those guys who attacked you could have found out that you’re gay?”
“I don’t think so,” Ron said. “They don’t go to Hillcrest. We’d never seen either Link Scheer or Devon Barker before, and Joe Turner was in eighth grade at the same middle school when we were in the sixth grade, but we didn’t know him or had any classes with him. The only reason we know about him is he got expelled from Lomita. He started a fight with another kid in the boys’ locker room in his PE class, then slugged the coach who broke up the fight. You can tell that Joe Turner is really stupid because he slugged a teacher, and not just a teacher, a PE coach who had no problem taking him out.”
“Our lawyer, Carter Allen, found out that all three of those guys were going to Irvington Continuation High School,” Jason added. “Also, we’re certain our friends wouldn’t tell anyone, especially those three guys, about us.”
“Have you had any problems with kids calling you names like fag or worse at Hillcrest?”
“We’ve never had any problems. A couple friends who are out say a kid who’s a hall monitor is very anti-gay, and when he sees to guys holding hands he makes remarks telling them they’re going to hell for being homosexuals, God hates fags, he’s gonna pray for them, stuff like that. They just laugh at him.”
“Some of your gay friends are out at school?” Mark seemed surprised about that.
“Yeah, at least six of our friends are out and not just to other gay kids,” Jason replied. “Two are juniors and are athletes, one is on the varsity basketball team and one was on the JV football team and will be on the varsity next year.”
Mark sat looking at Jason and Ron for about ten seconds. “Can I ask you something personal?”
“I guess,” Jason responded. He wondered what could be more personal than what Mark had already asked.
“About two months ago I walked into my son’s bedroom. He didn’t hear me knock because he had his earbuds on. He was watching a gay porn video. When he realized I’d seen what he’d been watching it all came out. He’s gay, and is so afraid about being outed at school that he avoids making friends because he thinks they’ll discover his secret. My wife and I had been wondering about Steven. He’s never shown an interest in girls or dating. We don’t have any problem if he’s gay or bi or straight. I told him that we love him unconditionally. We went downstairs and he told his mom who told him that she loves him unconditionally too.
“We talked for a long time about why he is so afraid about being outed at school. He doesn’t fit any of the typical gay stereotypes, he doesn’t look or act any different than any other fourteen-year-old kid but he doesn’t agree with me. Another thing is he’s positive that there aren’t any other gay kids at his school. I told him that there must be other gay kids in a school as large as Hillcrest High. I know this is asking a lot, but would it be all right if I tell him about the two of you? Maybe if he realizes there are other gay kids at his high school he’ll relax a bit and start making some friends.”
“It’s fine with me,” Ron said. “I think he’s in our English class and my Algebra class. His name’s Steven Graff, right?”
“That’s right,” Mark replied.
“I recognize his name,” Jason added. “He is in our English class. He’s very quiet, but seems to be real smart. When we have a responsive readings and have to read what we wrote out loud, Mr. Lyon has to ask Steven to speak up so all of us can hear what he’s saying. His responses to stories are always interesting and show that he really understands what’s behind the story, maybe better than the rest of the class. Anyway, if you want, he could phone and talk to me or to Ron, whichever.”
“I have an idea, why don’t we invite him to come to our tennis and pool get-together on Friday?” Ron suggested.
“That’s a great idea,” Jason said. “Mr. Graff, we’re having a bunch of friends over to swim and play tennis. It’ll be cool to have Steven come over and meet us and some of our friends, both gay and straight. There are going to be seven of us, eight with Steven. Tell him to phone me. I’ll give you my cell number. His mom can call my mom to find out about it and that she’s going to be here. We’re going to get together at ten. He should bring his tennis racquet, a swimsuit, and a six-pack of whatever soda he likes. We’re providing everything else.”
“He’s real shy,” Ron said. “Do you think he’ll be willing to come over?”
“I hope so,” Mark replied. “Since the two of you are in a couple of his classes that should help. Do you think he knows any of the other kids who’ll be there?”
“Marcus Benson is in our Algebra class,” Ron told him. “Steven might know him or at least recognize his name. Art and Larry go to Alcosta High, so Steven probably wouldn’t know them. The other two guys are Leshawn and Kevin Cross, they’re cousins. Kevin is from Portland and is living with Leshawn’s family for a while. They both go to Hillcrest; Steven might have classes with either or both of them. I’ll tell him who’s going to be there when he calls me.”
“Thanks, guys. I’ll talk to Steven when I get home. Jason, what’s a good time for him to call you in the morning?”
“Say about nine thirty? I should be up by then.”
“That should be fine. I’ll ask him to call you around that time.” They stood and Mark shook hands with Jason and Ron, and they returned to the family room.
After they rejoined the others Jason and Ron decided they weren’t needed any longer and Mark Graff agreed. So they went upstairs to Jason’s room.
“You want to play a video game, Ron?”
“No. My folks will probably finish talking pretty soon. How about we just watch some TV?”
“Okay, let’s see what’s on.”
They decided on a replay of CSI New York, and before it was half over they heard Ron’s folks call him because they were about to leave.
Jason pulled Ron into a hug and they kissed.
“Why don’t you come by for lunch tomorrow, then we’ll head to the basketball practice from my place,” Ron suggested.
“That’s okay with me as long as it’s okay with your mom.”
“It is, I already asked her. So come by around ten, like you did today? We can play some video games or we can both work on our English projects, or whatever.” Ron wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.
“Ron, you gotta be kidding! Your mom’s going to be right there, and you’re suggesting that we mess around?”
“No, whatever gave you that idea?”
“The way you wiggled your eyebrows, that’s what.”
“Don’t spoil my dreams, Jase!”
That’s when Ron’s dad hollered from the bottom of the stairs, “Ronald Cantham, get down here, now!”
“See you tomorrow, Ron.”
Ron waved as he headed downstairs. “Until mañana, Jase!”
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