Castle Roland

Ten Steps Down

by Owen Hudson


Chapter 12

Posted: 27 Nov 14

"James, get out of my room," I said louder than I intended one chilly late fall day during our school's fall break. "Can't you see that I'm busy doing homework?"

"I'm bored," James moaned.

"I don't give a fuck," I barked.

"Craig, I heard that," Mom yelled from the laundry room. "Watch your mouth."

"I'm sorry Mom," I apologized. "James is bored and bothering me. Can you find something for him to do?"

"Both of you strip your beds and bring me your dirty linens," Mom said.

"Mom, could Craig drive Kenny and me to the movie this afternoon?" James asked as he handed Mom his dirty linens.

"Who said I would drive you anyway?" I asked. "Didn't you see that I was doing homework?"

"How much homework do you have left to do?" Mom asked.

"Three or four more geometry problems," I admitted.

"You can drive them to the movie and then finish your homework before you go back to pick them up," Mom said with authority. "Besides, it is fall break and you have plenty of time to do your homework."

"Fucker," I said as I gave James a playful tap on the shoulder as we drove away.

"It's a good thing Mom can't hear you," James giggled. "Anyway, thanks big brother."

"You're welcome," I said. "But, if I flunk my geometry test I'll have to kick your butt."

"You've never flunked a test in your life," James countered.

Kenny came out of the house with a big grin as he was putting on a jacket that I recognized as one that James gave him. "Thanks for the ride," he said as he buckled in. "It's good to finally have money to do things again."

"I'm glad to hear that your family is doing well again," I said.

"Yeah, I even earn some money by helping feed the bucket calves," Kenny said.

"What is a bucket calf?" James asked.

"A cow is allowed to nurse her calf for just a week on our dairy farm," Kenny explained. After the cow goes back into milk production she isn't allowed to nurse it. We have to feed it with a bucket that has a nipple on it."

Kenny seemed to enjoy explaining the process of removing calves from the cow and then being nursed from a bucket. "We have to make sure the calf doesn't get scours," he explained.

"What is scours?" James asked.

"Diarrhea," Kenny said. "The calf needs the colostrum that the cow produces soon after she gives birth. Mr. Mulkey said that the colostrum has antibiotics that the calf needs. That's why it is allowed to nurse from the cow the first few days."

"Okay you turkeys, we're here," I said as I stopped in front of the theater. "I looked online and the movie is over at 4:15. I'll be here to pick you up then."

I must have needed a break from my homework because it didn't take long to work the problems when I returned. I quickly finished the problems and then I found Dad in the den reading his National Hog Farmer magazine. "Dad, I'm going to go out and start doing the chores before I go pick up James and Kenny," I said.

"Alright Son," Dad said. "We may as well get it done now. But, there isn't much to do. We filled the feeders yesterday."

"Finish reading your magazine and I'll do it," I offered.

"Thanks Son," Dad said. "Thanks for giving the old man a day off."

Dad was right that there wasn't much to do. After checking that the automatic feeders were working, I then checked that the automatic heated hog waterers were all working properly. Satisfied that everything was done, I went back shivering into the warm house. "It's getting colder out there," I said to Mom and Dad.

"You probably should go pick up James and Kenny so they don't have to wait in the cold," Mom said. "I don't know about Kenny, but James was only wearing a light jacket."

I arrived a few minutes before the movie was over and parked where James and Kenny could see me when they came out of the theater. I was surprised to see them emerge from the theater with two girls. One I recognized as Chelsea, the girl that had been in foster care with James, but I didn't recognize the other girl.

I made the mistake of asking James and Kenny how they liked the movie. They spent the entire drive to Kenny's telling all about Diary of a Wimpy Kid, a movie that I had absolutely no interest in.

"So, is Chelsea your girlfriend?" I teased James as we drove home after dropping Kenny off.

"What if she is," James said. "At least I like girls."

"What do you mean by that?" I asked.

"You're seventeen and never date," James said. "I think you and Seth are both gay."

I froze for a moment. "What in the hell are you talking about?" I angrily barked.

"Craig, I don't care if you are or you're not gay," James said. "You're my brother and I'll always love you."

I was at a loss of words as I pulled into the drive at the house. I got out of the car without responding to James' comments and went straight to my room. I collapsed on my bed with the words "I think you and Seth are both gay," still ringing in my ears. James was right that I had never been on a date, but did that mean that I was gay? I remembered how turned on I had been when I saw Uncle Jason and Uncle Ryan kissing. But that didn't mean I was gay did it?

There was a tentative tap on my door that interrupted my thoughts. "Yeah," I answered.

James came into my room and sat quietly on the side of my bed. "I'm sorry," he said finally.

"Forget about it," I answered not knowing what else to say.

"You don't have to explain anything to me," James said. "I really didn't mean to upset you. You know that I wouldn't care if you are gay. I love our gay uncles, and if you're gay or not I love you too. If it weren't for you I'd still be stuck in foster care at Mrs. Powell's. Please don't be mad at me."

"I'm not mad at you," I admitted. "I was just wondering what made you make such a statement."

"When I was in the hospital Uncle Ryan sat with me one day while Mom went to their house to rest and shower," James began. "I asked him about being gay, and he said that he was a teenager before he admitted to himself that he was gay. I told him that you never dated, and he said that he never dated as a teenager either. He said that it didn't necessarily mean that you were gay but it was a good possibility. But, really it doesn't matter to me. Forget I even said anything."

"You're a great little brother," I said as I ruffled his hair. "You're a pain in the ass, but you're still a great brother."

After breakfast the next day I was in my room reading when James came in and said, "Mom said that I could go over to Kenny's if you would drive me there. Will you?"

"Let me finish this chapter and I will," I said. "I've only got a few pages left."

After dropping James off at Kenny's I decided to give Seth a call. I felt a need to talk to him to understand more about when he realized that he was gay. I pulled over to the side of the road and called his cell phone. There was no answer and I assumed that he was at work since he wasn't allowed to use his phone while at work.

Not ready to go back home, I drove on past the house. I stopped in town and filled the gas tank and then called home. "Dad, I' going to hang out for a while before I come home," I said when Dad answered the phone.

"That's fine, Son," Dad said.

I began driving with no particular destination in mind. I had been driving for about an hour when I realized I was in Topeka. I pulled into a convenience store and bought a cup of coffee. My mind was still in turmoil so I decided to give Uncle Jason and Uncle Ryan a call. "Uncle Jason, could I come by for a visit?" I asked when Uncle Jason answered.

"Of course! You know you're always welcome," Uncle Jason said.

"I just wanted to make sure you were home and didn't have plans."

"We have no plans. We'll be looking out for you."

After about fifteen minutes I rang the doorbell at my uncles' house. "That was fast," Uncle Ryan said when he answered the door. "Where were you when you called?"

"Here in Topeka," I said.

"Well come on in," he said as he gave me a hug. "It's cold out here."

"Well, look who is here," Uncle Jason said as he was in the kitchen making sandwiches. "You're just in time for some soup and a sandwich."

After lunch Uncle Jason asked, "So, what brings you for this unexpected visit?"

"I wanted to visit with you guys about something," I said.

"OK. Let's go and sit down in the living room." Uncle Jason responded.

"When did you know that you were gay?" I asked when we'd made ourselves comfortable.

"I think I always knew," Uncle Jason said. "I guess I was about thirteen or fourteen when I realized what it was though. I knew I was different much earlier than that."

"I was about eighteen," Uncle Ryan said. "I guess I knew I was different too, but didn't know how to classify it." He paused and asked shrewdly, "Are you wondering if you might be gay?"

"Yes, no...Oh, I don't know," I said. "It's all confusing right now."

"I know, Craig," Uncle Ryan said. "I went through what you're going through. Maybe you're gay and maybe you're not. Regardless of what you are, we're both proud of you."

"Yes we are," Uncle Jason agreed. "But, as Ryan said, maybe you're not actually gay. Are you ever attracted to girls?"

"I think some are very attractive," I said.

"But, are you attracted to them?" Uncle Jason asked again.

"Not really," I admitted.

"Are you attracted to guys?" Uncle Ryan asked.

"Maybe," I admitted.

"What do you mean by maybe?" The lawyer in Uncle Jason asked.

"I don't know what I mean anymore," I admitted.

"Do you have more male friends or female friends?" Uncle Jason asked.

"About the same," I said after thinking about it.

"Which friends do you enjoy spending more time with?" Uncle Jason asked.

"All of them," I said. "Rachel is a good friend that I know I can depend on. She is funny and compassionate. I can see why her boyfriend, Jon, is dedicated to her. Seth is a really good friend, but as you know he is totally in the closet. Nick and Ashley are another couple that are friends that I can always depend on."

"Are you attracted to Seth?" Uncle Jason asked.

I thought about it for a few moments and in a small voice quietly admitted, "Yes, I am."

The dam suddenly broke and I burst into floods of tears with the realization that I had finally acknowledged I really was gay. Uncle Jason said nothing as he moved to sit beside me, put his arms round me and hugged me as I cried helplessly on his shoulder.

"Look at us," Uncle Ryan said as he sat on my other side and joined the hug. "We are a happy gay couple."

I then had a stream of questions to ask my uncles. They carefully attempted to answer each question truthfully regardless of how dumb the questions may have seemed. After talking for quite some time I looked at my watch and realized that I couldn't get back home in time to help with the chores. "Oh crap," I said. "I should already be home to help Dad and James with the chores."

"Maybe you should call or they will be worried about you," Uncle Ryan said.

"I should tell them as I didn't say to anyone I was coming here," I said. "I started driving and just ended up here."

"Do you want me to call?" Uncle Jason asked.

"If you would please," I said. I was feeling too emotionally exhausted to speak to Mom and Dad at that point.

After a few minutes Uncle Jason came back into the room and said, "That's all fine and you're spending the night here. Your mom doesn't want you driving that far at night."

"But I didn't bring a change of clothes," I said.

"You're about my size," Uncle Ryan said. "I'll find something for you to wear and I'll wash what you have on and you'll have clean clothes to wear to home."

"I'm surprised that you didn't invite him to go shopping for new clothes," Uncle Jason said.

"Good idea," Uncle Ryan said. "Craig, do you want to go shopping?"

"Sure, I'd love to go," I said.

"Then I'll have to go and make sure you two don't buy out the mall," Uncle Jason teased.

I ended up buying a two pairs of jeans and three shirts that I liked. I then decided to buy jeans and a shirt for James. The uncles bought both James and me a billabong deck jacket after they saw me looking at them.

"We enjoy doing things for our nephews," Uncle Jason said when I protested.

After we'd finished shopping we stopped at a nearby restaurant for dinner. It was a mom and pop type of restaurant that had really good food. "Are you still thinking about becoming a veterinarian?" Uncle Jason asked as we ate.

"I've been thinking more about becoming a medical doctor," I said. "After meeting the doctors that took care of James when he was injured I began to think about it. I haven't told Mom and Dad what I'm thinking. I think Dad really wants me to become a veterinarian though."

"Craig, I think your parents want you to be in a profession that you would be happy doing," Uncle Jason said.

"I think James would be a better veterinarian than I would," I admitted. "He loves animals and he loves the farm. I would like to see him inherit the farm too."

"I probably shouldn't tell you this but I did your parents' will and they are leaving the farm to both of you," Uncle Jason said. "There is also a substantial amount of money."

"I would just give my part of the farm to James," I said.

"I'll talk to Libby and Don about changing the will," Uncle Jason said. "It would save money in the long run. You do know that there are a lot more assets than the farm, don't you?"

"You mentioned earlier that Mom and Dad had money," I said.

"Don's family owned land south of here that produced oil at one time," Uncle Jason said. "His dad invested it wisely and your dad did the same. It is a sizeable amount now."

"I wonder why Dad still works the farm with all of that money available," I said.

"The farm makes both of your parents happy," Uncle Jason said. "They both grew up on farms. Oh, I almost forgot to tell you that the probate court gave approval for Dan to rent the house. Dan said that he would move over Nicole's Christmas break. He will spend the time between now and then getting the house ready. The rent will go into an escrow account."

"When will I be able to sell the house?" I asked.

"Not until after probate," Uncle Jason said. "That should take about a year and then you'll have your money."

"What do you plan to do with the money?" Uncle Ryan asked.

"I guess I'll put it in the bank," I said.

"Why don't you let Don's financial advisor invest it for you," Uncle Jason said. "He has helped make your dad a rich man."

I went to bed with the day's events swirling around in my mind. I felt sure I would have difficulty getting to sleep, but surprisingly I quickly fell asleep and woke refreshed the next day from a good night's sleep.

Uncle Ryan was cooking breakfast and Uncle Jason reading the newspaper when I went to the kitchen for coffee after showering. "Nice garb," Uncle Jason said as he put his newspaper down.

"Thanks," I said.

"Pour yourself a cup of coffee," Uncle Ryan said. "Breakfast is almost ready. I'm making omelets."

"I love omelets," I said. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"Thanks, but I have everything under control." Uncle Ryan said.

"Are you going to talk to Libby and Don about why you came to see us?" Uncle Jason asked as he handed his cup to me for a refill.

"I will, but I'm not sure how," I admitted.

"Craig, I'm sure that they know more than you think they do," Uncle Jason said.

"Did you tell them?" I asked in surprise.

"No, but when I called and told Libby that you were here she said that she wasn't surprised," Uncle Jason said. "She said that she was going to suggest that you come and spend some time with us. Libby was the first one to figure out that I was gay. Talk to them. They love you and will be supportive of you."

"I'll talk to them, but I'm really not sure about being out at school or to my friends," I said.

"That's for you to decide," Uncle Jason said.

"Were either of you out in high school?" I asked.

"I hadn't figured out what I was in high school," Uncle Ryan said. "I really wasn't out until I met Jason."

"I wasn't out but I didn't hide it either," Uncle Jason admitted. "I'm sure every kid in the high school knew that I was gay. There will always be somebody that gives you a hard time about being gay. It still happens to us, but we are determined to live our lives as any other couple would."

"Some of the most homophobic groups are churches," Uncle Ryan pointed out. "They quote scripture out of context to prove their point. To quote Shakespeare, 'The devil can cite scripture for his purpose.' My own family disowned me when they found out I was gay."

"I wondered why you never mentioned your family," I said. "How did they find out?"

"I was in my last semester of college," Uncle Ryan began. "Jason and I were living together off campus. I had never been happier. I doubted that my family would accept my homosexuality, but I decided to take a chance and come out to them. I went home to tell them, but was having trouble finding the words to tell them. My dad was talking about a kid from church was asked to not come back because he was a fag."

"That doesn't sound Christian like," I said.

"That's what I told my dad," Uncle Ryan said. "He asked, 'Are you a queer lover'? I said, 'As a matter of fact I am gay.'"

"What happened then?" I asked.

"He exploded, and then started quoting Leviticus from the Bible," Uncle Ryan said. "'Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. You are a sinner and will burn in hell.' I then quoted Leviticus to him, 'And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be cloven footed, yet he chews not the cud; he is unclean to you.' I guess I'll burn there with you. You sit there eating your bacon and eggs and quote the part of the Bible that proves your point and you ignore the part that tells you that pork is unclean."

"What did he do then?" I asked.

"He told me to leave his house and never come back," Uncle Ryan said. "I've never gone back."

"What about the rest of your family?" I asked.

"They are just as bad as my dad, even my mother turned on me," Uncle Ryan said.

"I can't imagine Mom or Dad turning on me," I said. "I don't know about Dan. He left me when I was eight and I got over that."

"I think Dan knows he failed you once," Uncle Jason said. "I can't see him screwing up like that again."

"I suppose I'll find out soon," I said. "I should be on my way home."

"Let me fix you a sandwich before you go," Uncle Ryan said.

"I couldn't eat a bite after that half a dozen egg omelet you made for my breakfast," I said.

"That wasn't half a dozen," Uncle Ryan said. "It was only four eggs. I figured a growing teenager like you would be able to handle it."

It would be difficult for me to describe the feelings I had as I was driving home. It wasn't so much that of a cloud lifted from over my head. But, it was more like being lost in the woods and suddenly seeing a familiar landmark. It was a landmark that was always there, but I couldn't see it for the trees. I knew that my family loved me and coming out to them wouldn't be a problem. However, I wasn't sure I wanted to be out at school. Maybe my family could help me decide.

James met me at the door when I arrived home, and gave me a hug saying, "I'm sorry."

"You have no reason to be sorry," I said.

"I upset you," James said.

"No James, you made me think," I admitted. "We'll talk about it later as a family."

"You went shopping," James said when he saw the bags I was carrying.

"Yeah, but I didn't forget you," I said. "Neither did Uncle Ryan and Uncle Jason."

"Look who made it home," Mom said when she and Grandma came from the kitchen to greet me with hugs.

"Where is Dad?" I asked.

"He went to the store for me," Mom said. "He should be back soon."

"I want to talk to everybody when he gets home," I said.

"I'm putting on a roast for dinner," Mom said. "We'll gather in the den when your dad gets home."

"Let me see what you got?" James said.

"Come to my room," I said.

"Wow!" James exclaimed when he saw the jeans, shirt and jacket. "I love these, thanks."

"Be sure to call Uncle Jason and Uncle Ryan and thank them too," I reminded him. "They bought the jacket."

"I will," James promised.

"I don't know how to begin," I said falteringly after Dad arrived home and we started our family meeting.

Dad smiled and said, "Son, just say what's on your mind. You know you're in a safe place here."

"I've..." I tailed off uncertain as to what to say. Dad moved from his recliner and sat beside me and put his arm around me saying, "Son, there is nothing that could make us not love you. Speak your mind without fear that we will be judging you. I assume that goes for Margaret too."

"Absolutely," Grandma said.

"I've done some serious soul searching," I began. "Thanks to James I've finally admitted to myself that I'm gay. I need to have my family round me and I hope you will all accept me as I am."

"Oh Honey, you need not worry about that," Mom said. "You're our son. We all love Jason and Ryan and we will always love you too."

"Your mom has said it all," Dad said as I felt an embrace.

"Craig, I've known you all of your life," Grandma began. "I know the type of person you are and I could never turn on you because you're gay. I'll admit it is easier for me after getting to know your uncles."

"I guess I'll have to be the one to give Mom and Dad grandchildren," James said. "I'd better get busy."

"Not until you finish your education," Mom laughed.

"And can earn a living," Dad added.

My family was amazing. I realized how fortunate I was that I had such a loving family. Nothing had changed after I told them that I was gay. However, telling my friends would be different. I wasn't sure how I would tell them, but I knew it was something I needed to do.

I decided that I would tell Seth that I was gay before telling my other friends. I called him the next day and asked him to come to the house when he had time.

"I'll be there in about an hour," he said.

James must have sensed that I wanted to talk to Seth in private when Seth arrived. He admired Seth and liked to hang out with us when Seth was around. However, this time he said hello and went to his room leaving us alone. Seth sat on the chair at my desk and I sat on my bed facing him.

There was an awkward moment of silence before I could gather my thoughts and began, "Seth, remember that day at the park when you told me you were gay?"

"Yes," he nervously answered.

"Well, it's my turn to tell you that I'm gay too," I confessed.

"Wow, no kidding!" Seth exclaimed.

Seth then surprised me with a kiss, not a passionate type, but a gentle sweet kiss. It was my first kiss.

"Who else knows?" Seth asked after the kiss.

"All of my family, except for Dan. I haven't seen him since I've realized that I was gay."

"Are you going to be out?"

"I plan on telling my friends. But, I'm not sure about anyone else."

"Craig, you can't do that," he said with panic in his voice.

"Why can't I?"

"Because people will think I'm gay too."

"Seth, you are gay."

"Yeah, but nobody but you and my aunt and uncle know."

"I spent seven years hiding from a man that tried to molest me. I refuse to spend the rest of my life hiding from who I am."

"Then I can't be seen with you any more," Seth said and he stormed out of my room and left the house.

"What's with him?" Mom asked after Seth stormed out.

"He doesn't want me to tell our friends that I'm gay," I said.

"Why is that?" Mom asked.

"Because they will think he is gay too," I answered.

"But, he is gay," James said.

"James, I'll never say that he is or isn't gay," I said. "It was my place to say that I was gay. It is up to Seth to confirm or deny if he is or isn't gay."

"Honey, that's very wise of you," Mom said. "I'm pleased that you're comfortable with who you are. I want you to be careful at school though. We do have that anti bullying policy, but some kids are going to test it. If anything happens I want you to report it."

"Oh Mom, Craig could kick their butts," James said.

"I know that you've both had martial arts training, but you know you're to use it only as a last resort," Mom said.

James gave a fake kung fu kick and began singing:

Everybody was kung-fu fighting

Those cats were fast as lightning

In fact it was a little bit frightning

But they fought with expert timing

Mom and I both laughed at his antics. I was surprised that he actually had a good singing voice.

"James, you have a good voice," I said. "You should join the school choir."

"I'm going out for football and basketball next year," James said. "I would have gone for football and basketball this year if we hadn't been in that wreck."

"If you work hard keeping your grades up you could do both," Mom suggested.

"But, I have to help Dad and Craig here on the farm," James protested.

"James, you know that we have a rule in this family that school activities come before working on the farm," Mom said.

"Dad and I can always manage," I said.

"But, I like helping," James again protested.

I then realized how much the farm really meant to James. I knew that he liked it, but not to the extent that he would give up extracurricular activities at school.

"I think you could handle both," Mom said. "We'll look at your schedule and see what we can do. If your grades drop we'll have to make adjustments. It doesn't matter if it is sports or choir, if your grades drop you'll have to drop that extracurricular activity. "

When I went back to school on Monday I saw Seth in the hall, but he quickly disappeared into his classroom. I couldn't say that he was avoiding me, but it sure seemed so. During the lunch period Seth came into the cafeteria, and after going through the food line he went to the opposite side of the room.

"What's with Seth?" Rachel asked.

I didn't know what to say, so I remained silent.

"Craig, he's your best friend, do you know?" Rachel pressed.

"I think I do," I admitted.

"What is it then?" Rachel pushed for an answer.

"If all of you will all come to my house after school I'll fill you in," I said.

On the way to class I called Mom to let her know that I invited my friends to the house after school, and that I planned to come out to them.

"Okay Honey," Mom said. "I'll have some snacks ready."

"Thanks Mom," I said.

"What's the occasion?" James asked when he saw the platters of fruit and cookies Mom had prepared.

"My friends are coming to the house and I plan to come out to them," I said.

"I'll disappear to my room," James said.

"No, you're my brother and I want you here," I said.

After my friends arrived James offered drinks to each one. I wasn't sure how or when to begin, but Rachel got the ball rolling by asking, "Well, what's the deal with Seth?

"I came out to him that I'm gay," I admitted. "He wasn't happy with it."

Nick sprang to his feet and said angrily, "Ashley, we're going."

"Sit your butt back down," Rachel snapped. "We're going to hear Craig out, and then if you want to be an ass, do so."

Mom must have heard Rachel and came out of the kitchen to see what was going on. I hadn't realized that Dad was home until he came out of the den.

"Is something wrong?" Mom asked.

"I'm sorry Mrs. Turner," Rachel said. "I didn't intend to be so loud. But, you and Mr. Turner may as well join us while I try to talk some sense into this knucklehead."

"I just don't like fags," Nick muttered.

"You may use that word in your home or elsewhere, but you may not use it here," Mom said while hiding her anger. "I would advise you not to use it at school either. We have a strong school policy against that."

"Rachel, will you drive me home?" Ashley asked. "I refuse to be associated with this bigot."

"I was taught that being a was a sin," Nick said with much less confidence than earlier.

"Who in the hell taught you that?" Dad asked. "Was it your church?"

"Yeah," Nick admitted sheepishly.

"Nick, I've studied the Bible and venture to say that I probably know more about it than most so-called preachers," Dad said. "Most can quote scriptures to support their view. They simply ignore the parts that don't. Tell me Nick, do you masturbate?"

Nick turned scarlet.

"There's your answer," Rachel said as she laughed at Nick's embarrassment.

"Many church people preach that it is a sin, but there is not one reference in the Bible about it," Dad said. "Further, there is more proof that homophobia is more of a sin than homosexuality. The Bible was written more than 2,000 years ago. Have you ever tried to read old English?"

"We're studying Beowulf in school now," Nick timidly answered.

"Are there words that you don't understand?" Dad asked.

"Sure, there are lots of words," Nick admitted.

"Languages change and words get mistranslated," Dad said. "We have well over 2,000 Christian denominations. If we all interpreted the Bible the same there would only be one."

"I guess you're right," Nick acknowledged.

"Nick, one of my uncles is gay," Ashley said. "I love him dearly and I refuse to date a bigoted homophobe. If you were to really think about it and not take things out of context from the Bible you will see that you're wrong."

"I'm sorry," Nick said. "I've been taught all of my life that homosexuality was a sin. I guess I just believed everything that was preached without questioning. Craig, I'm sorry."

"Forget about it," I said.

"Hey, look at the time," Rachel said. "I have to get to work."

"James, we'd better get started on our chores," I said after everybody left.

"I did them already," Dad said. "Your mom said that you were meeting with your friends."

"Thanks Dad," I said. "Dad, how is it that you know so much about the Bible?"

"I have a theology degree from Concordia University," Dad said.

"I thought you had an agriculture degree from Kansas State," I said in surprise.

"I do," Dad said. "I earned a theology degree from Concordia, but I decided that I would much rather be a farmer."

"Dad, while we're talking about college, I've been moving away from my thinking about becoming a veterinarian," I said. "I've been thinking about becoming a medical doctor."

"Son, you need to be what you want to be," Dad said. "We want both of you boys to be happy. But, what made you change your mind?"

"I saw what the doctors were doing for James when he was in the hospital," I said. "I was inspired by the way they were helping him. Besides, I think James would be a better veterinarian than I would. I like animals, but James loves them."

"I'm not smart enough to be a veterinarian," James said.

"Oh, but you are," Mom said. "Look at how your grades have improved. You're now an honor student. Craig has good grades because he studies hard and is smart. You're smart too and have learned to study hard."

"Yes James," Dad said. "You can be whatever you put your mind to be."

"I'll get it," James said as a ringing phone interrupted our conversation.

"I'd better finish dinner," Mom said. "You guys get grouchy when you're hungry."

"Craig, it's Seth on the phone," James said.

"Hello Seth, I'm glad you called," I said when I picked up the phone.

"What in the hell gives you the right to tell people that I'm gay," Seth screamed just before he slammed the receiver down.

Edited by Paul Llanberis

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