Well That Was Unexpected
By David Spowart
Edited by J Matlock
By David Spowart
Edited by J Matlock
I woke up alone. Todd had an early class and had to be there. My first class was not until ten, so I afforded myself a sleep-in. Last night was the first time I had not slept with Cal since my release from the hospital. I decided it was time to see if I could be okay by myself, as part of the doctor's suggestion.
I had a shower, got dressed and headed for something to eat. I passed a few people, and spotted Nick and Dave walking towards me.
"Fucking faggot!" I heard someone shout, and before I had time to respond, Nick had some guy pinned against the wall. "Get the fuck off me, man!" the guy yelled, as the guy's friend was also protesting, but Dave held him at bay. Soon, Billy Ray walked up. "What's going on, Nick?" Billy Ray asked. "Scum, is all, just scum," Nick replied. "Douche, you owe Josh here an apology," Nick said, then looking over to me. "I am not fucking apologizing to some fag!" he yelled out. "Reynolds is innocent of anything wrong!" he spat out. "What, you fucking retard?" asked Billy Ray. "He snatched the kid and beat the fucking shit out of him. He's admitted it. So how is he fucking innocent, you fucking idiot?" continued Billy Ray as Nick forced him harder against the wall.
"He was teaching him a fucking lesson, that's all," the guy insisted. "Are you for fucking real? Did your mama drop you at birth, you fucking moron?" I was now adding to the argument. "Trying to teach me a lesson? Explain Connor. Was that a lesson? They wanted me fucking dead, you fucking dipshit!" I spat out, and then just turned my back before I did something I knew I would not feel guilty over at a later date. I forgot about food and headed back to my dorm, totally pissed off. Well, at least I would have something else to talk about with my therapist. "Josh...Josh, man, hold up," Nick yelled out. "Let's grab a coffee, okay?" he said. "Fuck, Nick, who the fuck was that, anyway?" "Luke Satter, Terry Reynolds' former roommate," Nick informed me. "Don't worry about him. He's all mouth. And besides, I think he's shitting his pants right about now. Billy Ray looked a bit pissed when I left him with the fool," Nick said with a slight laugh. We turned around and headed back to the cafeteria and had a coffee. The food looked awful, so I just grabbed a couple of pieces of fruit and sat down.
"Look, dude, don't let idiots like him drag you down. Shit, a couple of months ago...shit, I would have joined him in calling your ass. But, hey, I woke up...didn't I?" Nick said, looking sad at how he had acted in the past. "All I can say is, keep your chin up. Don't let the bigots see they are getting to you," he added. "Yeah, Nick, but when you have been through what I have been through, and then you hear someone still have a go at you, it's fucking hard, you know," I replied. He tried to reassure me that this kind in college are a dwindling minority, as people realize there are far worse things in the world than gays. I mean, since the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy was banned, one of the safest places to be regarding discrimination is the armed forces. Who gives a shit if it's a gay marine? Trust me, I have been told by quite a few that there are any number of marines who sought comfort with each other, but are willing to die to defend our constitution. So why should I have to be discriminated against in fucking college?
"Yeah, thanks. I know things have been better, but it only takes one and he just got to me is all," I replied. As I said that, Dale and Lisa came and sat next to us. "You okay, dude?" asked Dale. "What do you mean?" I asked. "Some girl told Lisa that you were having trouble with Terry's roommate," he added. "Well, yeah. I walked to the cafeteria, and he called me a faggot, and Nick pinned him against the wall," I said, looking at Dale. Nick added, "Billy Ray was re-educating him when I walked away," laughing as he said that. "Fuck, this shit has to stop," he said, looking at the floor. "Okay, this is what I am going to do, and no argument on this, Josh, okay?" he said, and I was intrigued. "I said months ago I was not gay, but I am going to be a gay activist, and by fuck I am going to be," he said with meaning. I was still a little intrigued. "Lisa, there's a pep rally tonight, right?" and he looked at his girlfriend. "Well, yeah, why?" she asked sceptically. "Loads of students and shit, right?" he asked again, and she replied, "I don't know, sweetie, but from what I have been told, yeah," she nodded.
"Okay, I am going to speak to our dean of students. I want to talk at this fucking rally tonight, and I want representatives from all student organizations with me when I do, especially from the LGBT. This hate shit has to stop," he said, and stood up and traipsed off. "Oh, he looks pissed," Nick said. "Yeah, Connor's death hit him harder than he thought," I replied. "Oh, I didn't know they were friends," Lisa added. "They weren't. He just found him battered, and he's taking it bad," I replied. With that, I said my goodbyes and went to my geometry lecture. As soon as that was over I went and waited for the bus to take me to my appointment with my therapist.
I arrived at her office a couple of minutes late, but she was fine, as my hour was still ticking away anyway.
"Okay, Josh, how has your week been?" she asked.
"Better, doctor, thanks for asking." "Do you want to explain how it has been better?" she added, and I went on to explain that I had been more assertive in my approach to things, and that I was able to get out of the nightmares or bad situations while I slept. I also told her about my stupid argument with Cal, and how emotional I was during it, and then I went on to explain what happened earlier on today.
"So this person insulted you verbally? Physically?" she asked. "Words is all," I replied. "And what did you do when he started to attack you with words?" she asked, whilst writing down notes on a yellow pad. "Nothing at first," I replied. "Two friends, well, new friends actually, had him pinned against the wall," I added. "Did they attack him?" she asked, with a serious look on her face. "Not physically," I defended, and then I told her what he said to me about his former roommate being an innocent party and how I retaliated at his words. "That's good, Josh, you seized control. That's a good step," she replied.
"You said that you are able to pull out of your nightmares. Explain," she asked. I told her that when I was ever confronted in my dream I would just say to myself, wake up! And I would," I added. And she went on, "Okay, so far so good. But sometimes the brain is fooled by dreams or nightmares, convincing your subconscious that you are awake. So what happens then?" she asked, and I replied, "Well, so far doc, that hasn't happened to me, and I'm hoping it does not. I think once the trial is over I should have the control back," I added, and she smiled at me and said, "Very insightful, Josh," and I just said, "Thank you."
"Okay, Josh, do you still feel panicked when out by yourself?" she asked, still jotting down notes. "Yes, but not as much as I was. People for the most part just let me be. The ones that approach me, I feel I can handle, like Nick, and Billy Ray, people that I had not really known before I had been attacked. Actually, Billy Ray and his friend, Donny, are former friends of one of the guys who kidnapped me," I added.
"Wow, and they are friendly towards you?" she asked. "Nick had his wake up call when Connor Brian was attacked. He was pretty homophobic beforehand. And I suppose my attack by their friend was Billy Ray's and Donny's wake up call," I informed her. "You have a very trusting nature, Josh. I am not saying it's a bad thing. I am not suggesting you second-guess yourself. But, you said you thought you could trust one of your attackers," and she looked at her notes, "Ben Kips." she added. "Yes, I did, but that's because he had given me and everyone the impression that he had saved me. But all he did was delay it," I replied. "And trusting...yeah, I can be, but...not as much now," I finished. With that, she said that was the end of my session. Again, I had questions for myself. Okay, I can be trusting, and although I don't want to change that, I should probably be more careful with that in some regard.
I left the clinic and was surprised to find Cal was sitting in his truck next to my bus stop. "You never said anything about not picking you up," he said, talking out of the window. He reached over and opened the passenger side to let me in. I climbed inside, reached over and kissed his cheek. "What's that for?" he asked. "Coz I love you," I replied, and for once he was the one with the goofy smile.
"You wanna grab a bite?" he asked, starting the truck. "Yeah. I am starving. I have only had a banana all day," I replied. With that, he drove and found us a little Italian place, and we ordered their sampler menu, and had a little of everything. Cal was so impressed with it he ordered the lasagne to go.
We got back on campus around 5pm and headed back to my dorm. We arrived and heard Todd talking to Dale. As soon as we entered the room it was obvious they had quickly changed the subject of their conversation. "What's up?" I asked. "Nothing, dude," Dale replied. "Bullshit!" I responded. "You were talking about something, and you stopped as soon as I came in. NO FUCKING SECRETS, remember?" I shouted out the last part, throwing my jacket down on my bed, as Cal wondered what the fuck was going on. "Okay. The rally tonight. The dean thinks it's a bad idea, but we don't, so we asked the student body president to intervene, and we are just waiting to hear from him," Todd told me. He looked a bit sheepish that he was going to withhold something so trivial, and I was thinking there might be more to it. "And that's it? Shit, guys, I'm not made of glass. Okay, I had a therapy session, but I can handle shit, okay?" I said a bit harsher than I intended.
"Sorry, dude. Yeah, sorry, Josh," they both added.
Soon after, the girls came knocking, and we headed out to the sports field and the pep rally, still not knowing if Dale was going to talk, and what he had to say anyway. As we approached the stadium, Trent Jarvis came towards us and stopped Dale. He said he had permission to talk and he would stand with him. Dale told me that when I was in the hospital and then at home, Trent, despite being the student liaison, had been voted student body president. We went inside, and, while the place was far from full, there were still a few hundred attending at least. I took my seat, and the rally began. It was to support our baseball, lacrosse, and basketball teams, and twenty minutes later Dale got waved down. "Watch this dude," he said before he walked down to the field.
Trent had the microphone and began to speak. "Okay, guys, settle down, I want to introduce a first-year student who has some valid points to make about the student body on this campus. I would appreciate it if you could hear what he has to say." He held the crowd well. I was impressed. I heard a couple of "Shut the fuck up's," but mostly respect was shown. "Students and faculty, Dale Jackson," he concluded.
"Okay, guys, ladies. I want to talk about hate," he started, and got a few boo's, and they got shouted down. "That's what I mean," Dale went on, "A few months ago a student by the name of Connor Brian was viciously assaulted on this campus by a student and a couple of people known to the police. He was attacked because of hate!" Dale had them listening. A couple had walked out, but the majority stopped. "I am the one who found Connor, beaten to a pulp," he said with a little anger. "All because of hate," he went on.
"And, as you know, he died several weeks later. Murdered. Not because of drugs, or a feud, but because someone thought he was gay. That's it. Simple as that. Hate." He was getting emotional. "The police believe it was a case of mistaken identity. And, yeah, so do I," He was getting riled up and his voice was rising.
"My friend...my best friend is gay. You have all heard about him. Josh Miller. The best fucking person I know...Sorry, dean," he apologized for his cuss. "Let me tell you what kind of man Josh Miller is. When I was ten years old I fell into a frozen lake. He jumped in and saved my life. For that, I have no doubt; he has always been a constant in my life. And, for that I am truly grateful." He smiled towards me and I had moisture in my eyes.
"Now, about a month ago, because of hate, Josh was kidnapped from this campus, and tortured. And the wounds he sustained..." and with this, Dale pointed to the big screen at the end of the stadium, and showed two large images of me, badly beaten. The photos showed all the cuts and welts on my torso, and one with me lying in the hospital bed with my face swollen. I was in tears at this point; Cal had his arm wrapped around my shoulder. There were many comments flying about the images on screen, along with a few gasps from the crowd, and quite a few 'holy shit's.' I now know why the dean was objecting, and why Todd and Dale stopped talking when I came in the room.
"That's what hate did to my best friend. And it has to stop. Does anyone here believe he deserved to have that done to him? The police believe the attackers of Connor are the same ones that did this," pointing again at the images on the screen before they were turned off. Todd had his arm wrapped around me also, as I was a wreck at this point.
"The reason I asked to speak tonight was because, despite the shit that Josh went through, some of you think it was justified. If you want to know what I mean by that, Josh went for some breakfast this morning and was called a faggot. I won't name the idiot here, but he knows who is. Hate, people. Is this a place for learning? Or for bigots? The hate has to stop, and it has to stop now...thank you." With that, he walked off stage and everyone—and I mean everyone—stood up and applauded him. I walked down before he got off the field and grabbed him into a hug. "Does that make up for me being a prick?" he asked me. With tears streaming down my face, I just hugged him and replied, "Dude, you, like Lucas, are my brother, and I forgave you that day months ago." he hugged me tight. "Now you know I have your back," he concluded, as we walked back to our seats. As we sat down the dean began to speak.
"Thank you, Mr Jackson. Very well spoken. And I must mention this. I was against showing Josh Miller's injuries on screen, but hindsight is a wonderful thing, and even though those images are both harrowing and well...let's face it people, it made a point. So, if anyone has any information regarding either attack, please contact my office," he concluded. The rally re-started, and we heard a few comments, and when we left a few guys came up and shook my hand as well as Dales. And to reiterate what Nick had said earlier, he came up and shook my hand and said, "Told you, dude," and I smiled.
"You okay, Josh?" asked Cal, as we headed out of stadium. "Yeah, Dale did good," I responded. "Dude, you okay?" asked Dale. "Yeah, that was fucking amazing, dude. How did you get the photos?" I responded. He just pointed towards the exit, and standing there was Detective Vera Valdez. I walked over and shook her hand, and she pulled me into a light hug. "Dale rang me this afternoon and told me what he was doing, and asked for some photos. Since those particular ones will not be used in the trial, I had no objection, so that's how he got them," she responded. "And Dale, well done," she said, before walking back to her car. "Wow. She's good," Cal responded, and hugged me as we walked back towards campus. I was not feeling apprehensive, and my friendship with Dale seemed surer than at any point in me knowing him. He truly is my brother and from this point on despite any disagreements we will have, I at least know that much.
The rest of the night consisted of the four of us guys, and the girls, sitting in our dorm eating pizza. The guys played some Xbox and we were surprised to find that Cal more than held his own. We were even more shocked when Lisa and Laura wiped the floor with Todd and Dale. I was useless as always, but my ineptitude was taken in good spirits. By the end of the night I went to Cal's just to sleep. The sleeping arrangements for the girls? Well, I didn't stop long enough to find out, but I think that the guys being beaten by the girls at Xbox may have been a ploy in their plan to get some...
To be continued...
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