The Field of Love
Weekends promise many things for a teenager. There's the escape from the seemingly endless attempt by adults to drive knowledge into one's brain, during the school year, but then there's the seemingly endless chores parents have planned out for them, which appears to only exist to ruin their own plans. With teenagers, every emotion, every situation is magnified into life or death.
However, Sammy wasn't your typical teenager. Perhaps it was the fact he was raised by a loving parent who fully participated in his life, without being one of those parents that tries to relive their own lives through those of their children. Billy Day wasn't poor, but he wasn't a rich man by any stretch of the imagination. He willingly gave his son anything he asked for or needed. Not that Sammy asked for a lot from his father, quite the opposite, he rarely asked for anything he didn't need.
Sammy and his dad did most things together, weekend chores was no exception. While Sammy mowed the yard, his dad trimmed the hedges and used the weed eater. As Billy stopped to assess their work, he noticed Sammy, wearing only shorts, socks, and tennis shoes, was filling out and becoming not yet a man, but the signs were there he was on his way. At fifteen, the boy's baby fat had disappeared. His stomach was flat and tight. No six pack, but the evidence was clear Sammy was an active boy. He didn't have any chest hairs, but he did have a noticeable growth of hair under his armpits and on his legs. His little Sammy was growing into a man, yet he would always be his little boy.
"Hey. Do I have to do all the work?" Sammy laughed.
Pulled from his reflections, Billy smiled at his son. The boy's smile reminded him so much of his late wife. She had the most beautiful smile he had ever seen. It was what drew him to her in the beginning. "I was just thinking." Billy said, as he wiped the sweat from his brow. "We need to finish up here and drive down to City Hall. The police want you to make a statement concerning the attack on you by that boy."
After a quick glance at his dad, Sammy's aversion to confrontation caused him to avert eye contact with his father and he allowed the mower to shut off. In a shaky voice, Sammy asked. "Dad, it is really necessary?"
Billy was surprised at his son's reaction. "Of course it is Sammy. We can't allow that boy to go around and attack younger boys like he did. You could have been seriously injured. The next boy might be."
As he ran his hands through his long black hair, Sammy said. "That's just it, Dad. Tony's in the hospital now."
"I know, son, but Tony isn't talking to anyone. That's why it's important for you to tell your story, so something can be done." Billy wrapped his arm around Sammy's shoulder. "Once they pull that boy in for questioning concerning the incident with you, the police can also question him about the attack on his brother." Billy smiled encouragingly.
Sammy glanced up into his father's eyes and curtly nodded. "Okay, that makes sense to me." With a set jaw, standing solidly, and with a determined look in his eyes he said. "I'll do it."
Billy hugged his son. "That's my Sammy."
"Dad, can we visit with Tony at the hospital after we're all done with the police?"
"I don't see why not. We'll ask the police if they have any objections. Okay?"
"Sounds good to me. Thanks."
Meanwhile, at the hospital, "Tony, please talk to us." Tony's mother pleaded. After discovering him missing Wednesday night, she had frantically called all of his known friends asking if they knew where he was or might be, while his father searched the woods around their home. Evan suddenly left home earlier that night for Lexington to meet up with some friends at the university. Gloria Thompson briefly made contact with Evan while he was in route to Lexington, but all he told her was he hadn't seen him before he lost service to his cell phone. With the spotty service in the mountains she had been lucky to have reached him at all.
It was well after midnight before they stopped the search for him and called the police. They were told the police would be on the lookout for him, but there were little more they could do in the first forty-eight hours. It wasn't until the next afternoon Ralph Thompson found his son unconscious and well hidden, which explained why he had missed him in the darkness of the previous night.
Tony woke the next morning seemingly afraid of his parents which caused the police to question them more closely. They appeared to be innocent of any crime, but with the boy's refusal to speak with anyone, it left them with little choice but to continue to consider the family as suspects.
Tony still refused to acknowledge anyone who spoke to him, including the doctors and nurses. Around four o'clock that afternoon, Sammy and Billy arrived at the hospital, after gaining the Chief of Police, Eddy Newton's okay to visit with the Thompson boy.
When they arrived on the second floor, they checked in at the nurse's station. Mrs. Thompson overheard them ask for Tony's room number and his condition.
"Hi, I'm Gloria Thompson, Tony's mother."
"Good afternoon, Mrs. Thompson, I'm Billy Day, and this in my son, Sammy Day. I'm sorry to meet under these circumstances." Billy said, as he shook Mrs. Thompson's hand and then Mrs. Thompson shook Sammy's hand.
Looking first at Billy, she said. "Thank you Mr. Day." Then she turned her focus to Sammy and said. "You must be the Sammy who Tony has spoken so much about. Do you play ball on Tony's baseball team?"
Billy nodded. "Yes, ma'am. We're teammates. I usually play shortstop and Tony plays second."
"Are you here to visit Tony?"
"Yes ma'am. If I'm allowed to." Sammy said as he studied her for her reaction.
"By all means, but let me bring you up-to-date on his condition." She paused as she sat down and motioned for Billy and Sammy to follow suit.
"Ralph, my husband, found him late Thursday afternoon. He had been beat up pretty badly. Even though that's terrible, he'll heal from that without any permanent damage. However, what has us scared and praying for him the hardest is, he has refused to talk to anyone." She sighed. "He'll look at you when you're speaking, but he won't respond to anything said." She placed a hand on Sammy's shoulder and cautiously glanced at Billy and said. "If your father will allow it, I'm hoping you could speak with Tony and maybe he'll respond to you."
Sammy looked to Billy for guidance. Billy thought briefly and then said. "If Sammy is willing, I don't see a problem with it, but I would like to at the very least, be standing just outside the door so I can hear what's going on in case there's a negative reaction to Sammy's presence."
Gloria smiled and said. "I'll do you one better than that, all three of us can go in together and allow Tony to decide who can stay." She waited for Sammy's answer.
"Mrs. Thompson, that's why I'm here. I wanted to see how my friend was, and if I can help him in some way, I'm all in." Sammy said, as he stood and squared his shoulders.
Gloria Thompson stood as well and in an emotion-choked voice said, "Sammy, you're everything Tony said you were. Thank you." She patted Sammy's shoulder. Billy stood and saw the tears rolling down her cheeks. She glanced at Billy and nodded. "It's this way boys." So, with an arm around Sammy's shoulder, she led them to Tony's room.
Tony was turned away from the door staring out the window with a blank look on his face. He felt like his life was over. That's why he didn't see any point in talking to anyone. Why tell anyone what happened? They would only hate him, not for anything he had done, but for what he was. He had heard the jokes and the taunting of others for just the suspicion of being what he was. Three days ago his own brother had proven him right.
"Tony, you have visitors." Gloria said. She held her breath as they waited for Tony's reaction to Sammy and his father.
Tony turned and saw Sammy standing beside his bed with a smile which seemed to make his face shine. The smile belonged to a boy he had indescribable feelings for. The boy who had made him first question his sexuality. This was the face of the boy that showed up in his most private moments. He locked onto those light brown eyes of Sammy as the tears streamed down his own face. In an emotionally filled whisper Tony said, "Sammy, you came."
"Of course I came. You're my friend and my double play partner." Sammy's smile broadened.
Gloria was beside herself at the first words she had heard from Tony's lips since Wednesday morning. "Would you like some privacy with your friend, Tony?" He glanced at his mother, smiled, and nodded.
Gloria moved next to her son, leaned over, and kissed her son on his forehead. "We'll be right outside if either of you need anything."
After their parents left the room, Sammy pulled up a chair next to Tony's bed. "How you doing Tony?"
Sammy's tone and facial expression told Tony he was truly concerned. He considered whether to be open and honest with him. He felt he could trust Sammy with his secret, but what caused him pause was the reaction he might receive if he told him the full truth- it was Sammy himself that held his affections.
White faced and as his lips trembled, Tony lowered his voice to a whisper. "I'm scared, Sammy."
"Was it Evan who did this to you?"
Tony shook uncontrollably, his eyes appeared damp and overly bright, nevertheless he held Sammy's eyes with his, then reached out for Sammy's hand and he took it, hoping it would give himself the strength he knew he needed. Then it came. It was but a small nod, yet he nodded once in answer to Sammy's question. "That's not the worst of it. He said some things about you after the game that he didn't know were true or not. I don't know if you remember the names he called you, but what I'm scared more about is…" The words were harder now, but the face he saw before him was full of compassion, and he struggled onward. "You see, Evan found out that ... well, what he thought … he thought you were … ohm … Evan thought you were gay and were hitting on me."
"Tony, I never…" Sammy started, but Tony interrupted him.
"That's not all. He was wrong about you, but he…"
"This is hard Sammy. I don't want you to hate me like I'm sure everyone else will."
Sammy squeezed his hand. "Tony, there's nothing you can say that will make me hate you. I promise." He tried to smile the most reassuring smile he could, now he thought he understood where this was going.
"I'm gay, Sammy, and Evan found out. Evan talked me into going into the woods with him the other day. He told me he had found something that would interest me. And I was stupid enough to believe him. When we got about half way up the hill behind our house, he pulled out some pictures he printed out from my computer." A flush colored his cheeks and his ears turned a bright red. "They were, you know, pictures of guys."
Sammy nodded his understanding.
"Evan then went crazy, kind of like he did with you. Calling me names and saying he would never have a queer for a brother. Things like I must have been adopted. I pleaded with him that I couldn't help it." He paused to wipe the tears which were flowing from his eyes. He coughed and began to have trouble breathing.
Sammy squeezed his hand again and softly said. "Tony, it's okay. I'm your friend. Hell, I'm your double play partner. I don't care what your brother thinks or says." Sammy paused to see if his words were having any effect, and seeing that Tony indeed calmed down some, he continued. "I made a statement today down at the police station about Evan attacking me." With his usual smile gone from his face he then said. "I think you should tell your parents what Evan did to you."
"But Sammy, everyone will find out about me if I do. I'll lose every friend I have."
"No, no you won't. You have me as your friend. And if anyone gives you any trouble, then they will have trouble with me, too." Then Sammy's voice softened again. "Tony, if you lose any friends over this, then they really weren't your friend to start with."
"Okay, I'll do it." Tony agreed, a little more forcibly than he meant it, but kept his deepest secret to himself concerning his feelings for Sammy, since Sammy never said if he was gay or not.