Castle Roland

A Special Place

by Sequoyah


Chapter 14

Posted: N/A

**** A Special Place--Part Fourteen Luke

The next day started as usual with a run. I jogged to Matt's, climbed the trellis and when I looked through the window, his bed was empty. I climbed through and heard him brushing his teeth. He was already dressed in sweats and when he turned and saw me, a radiant smile spread across his face. He came across the hall, took me in his arms and planted a great good morning kiss on me. "Love you, Luke, love you" he said as he looked into my eyes. His black, black almond eyes were shining.

"Love you too, Matt. Let's run."

Michael was waiting for us at the end of the front walk. "Morning, guys."

"Morning, Michael. Ready to run?"

"Let's fly."

Today Michael led the way and we really did some serious running. We passed David's pasture without slowing down and ran another mile. Michael peeled off when we got back to his place and Matt and I ran about half a mile more, then slowed down to a fast walk, but slow enough to hold hands.

When we reached Matt's place, we went inside and I had orange juice while the Greywolfs ate. We talked about last night's meeting with Mom. Yong Jin and Greywolf were pleased it had gone so well.

"I'll admit I was a bit anxious, but I was sure Gabrielle would do nothing other than love her son, even if she didn't approve," Yong Jin commented. "Now Jens is another question."

"She loves your son as well, Yong Jin. In fact, she said if I was going to love another man, she thought I was blessed in being loved by Matt."

"And he you," Yong Jin said.

"Well, I've got to run so I can be ready when Matt comes by. School may be a bit interesting today if Mr. Gray hasn't gotten the permission thing straightened out." Little did any of us know just how interesting the school day would prove to be!

By lunch, we had heard nothing about the permission or anything else related to the chorus and ensemble participating in Matt's recital. The girls were all excited because Mary Kathryn had talked to her mother and Yong Jin about Paula's need of a prom dress and Yong Jin was hatching up something. It seemed that it was all a big secret. Other than that, lunch was the usual affair other than the fact that Paula had asked Eugene and Larry to join the Select Few. We spent some time getting to know them. Just about the same time as yesterday, Mr. Gray came on the intercom and announced there would be a short assembly program immediately following lunch. "All students are to report to the auditorium immediately after the bell rings," he demanded.

"I wonder what that's all about," I said.

When the students were all in the auditorium, Mr. Gary walked to a podium and announced that a group of students had taken it upon themselves to offer to perform at St. Mary's Church. "While I had no objection to Matthew Greywolf's including a religious service as a part of his personal recital, I am very concerned that when school groups take part in a religious service some would see this as implying the school endorses a particular religion. Accordingly, when Mr. Smith asked that I approve a permission letter to be sent to parents of those in the participating groups, namely the Mixed Chorus and the Symphonic Brass and Percussion, I had some very serious questions. After checking with the superintendent and president of the school board, I have decided to allow members of those groups who obtain parental permission to participate. However, there is still the implication that this is a school-sponsored event. For this reason...."

Mr. Gray was interrupted by his Miss Grimes, his secretary, who handed him a note. "Excuse me," he said and read the message she had handed him. "Well, it seems there has been a change. Rev. Thomas Moore of St. Mary's has just called and left the following message and I quote, 'Mr. Gray, there seems to be some concern about the inclusion of The Order for Evening Prayer as a part of Matthew Greywolf's recital and the participation by the Independence High School Mixed Chorus and Symphonic Brass and Percussion. Neither St. Mary's nor the Episcopal Church approves any endorsement of a religion or religious organization by a public school. Therefore, to avoid any semblance of endorsement of St. Mary's or the Episcopal Church The Order for Evening Prayer will not be included in the recital to be performed by Matthew Greywolf. St. Mary's is delighted to serve as host to the recital and the young performers in the Mixed Chorus and the Symphonic Brass and Percussion. Further, St. Mary's will insist, as I am sure the school system will, that students in those organizations have permission from their parents to participate in the recital/concert. Again, St. Mary's is delighted to host this event and to support the cultural activities of Independence High School.' Well, in light of this message, my reason for calling for this assembly...."

Miss Grimes walked across the stage again and handed Mr. Gray another message. He read it then looked up and said, "I have very sad announcement to make. The office has received notice that Gregory Burnette, a former student at Independence, has taken his own life. His uncle found him this morning hanging from a rope in his room. I am extremely sorry to learn of this young man's death as I am sure you are. While I in no way condone the violence committed upon him while he was a student here, all of you need to take that violence and his suicide as a warning. You must realize that if you choose to be a pervert and live the lifestyle of a pervert, normal society can and will exact a price from you. So I urge you who may be considering being a pervert and living the life of a faggot...."

Suddenly I head a sound from behind me I had not heard in years. It was a Lakota war whoop! As it continued to echo through the auditorium, Greywolf, who is well known as a soft spoken man, was racing down the aisle toward the stage. Michael, who was sitting with the sophomores, was right behind him also giving a Lakota war whoop. We had all been taught the somewhat complex whoop when we were young and had been running around the house whooping like movie Indians when Greywolf came home from somewhere. He sat us all down and told us about the warrior tradition and taught us the proper war whoop. Not to leave Mary Kathryn out, he taught her the call Lakota women used to encourage their warriors. While I was thinking this, Matt joined in the war whooping as Greywolf mounted the stairs to the stage three steps at a time. He was followed by Michael, both continuing war whoops. Without realizing it, I had joined in. The students were either chanting 'Greywolf, Greywolf' or attempting to do war whoops.

When Greywolf reached the stage, he took the microphone from Mr. Gray and said, "Miss Grimes, call the superintendent and Mrs. Millicent Willingham and tell them they are needed at Independence immediately." Miss Grimes looked at Mr. Gray, not moving. In a deadly tone of voice, Greywolf said, "Miss Grimes, that was not a request, that was an order. Now do it!" Miss Grimes ran from the stage as fast as she could on her four inch heels.

Greywolf then turned to face the students and held up his hand for silence. "This high school is named for a document called the Declaration of Independence. That document, which laid the foundations for this country we enjoy, states that all have rights which cannot be taken from them: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Mr. Gray, you have effectively told this group of young Americans that those rights do not apply to ten percent of our population who are not perverts, but gay. I am sure that Ms. Boynton and the other biology teachers will tell you that those who are gay do not choose a lifestyle. They do not choose to be gay. Why would anyone choose to be gay when there are people such as some students sitting in this very auditorium who believe that they have the right to beat, abuse, and yes, rape someone who is gay?

"Gregory Burnette did not choose to be gay, he was gay. But even at that, he harmed no one. In fact, he was harmed, first by someone who claimed to love him then betrayed him. He was harmed when five males who were and are students in this school choose to prove their manhood by beating, abusing and raping him. He didn't have sex with them, they forced sex upon him. His right to liberty and pursuit of happiness was not only denied, it was taken from him. Now he is dead. His right to life was cut short when his family, his fellow students, and his society made living worse than death."

"And you, Mr. Gray, while you say you do not condone what happened to Gregory, say anyone who is gay should expect to be treated as he was. You are wrong, Mr. Gray. Your very words contradict your statement that you do not condone the violence visited on Gregory."

"But there are others here who are equally guilty. There are students who have made heroes out of those who abused, beat and raped Gregory. They are young and we are supposed to be guiding them into responsible citizenship. There are teachers here who actively encourage the use of derogatory terms for people who are different such as the one you used: faggot. But perhaps worse than those who actively support prejudice and hatred are those of us who stand silent when students and faculty actively encourage it."

"Mr. Gray, aside from the lack of moral and ethical leadership you have shown in your statements regarding Gregory, you stand in direct violation of the school board policy on bigotry and prejudice. In light of that, and as a senior teacher on this faculty, I am ordering you to your office until such time as the president of the school board and superintendent arrive and can decide what is to be done about your outrageous conduct. I suggest you go now after appointing your assistant principal Ms. Jones acting principal."

"Mr. Greywolf, you are over-reacting. I certainly feel sorry about the death of Gregory, but he should have known the lifestyle he chose could only lead to active condemnation by society."

"Mr. Gray, I suggest you leave now. Any further hesitation on your part will only increase what I sense is the anger of this student body."

"Greywolf, you are going to be sorry for this."

"No, I may suffer serious consequences. We will see about that, but I will never be sorry. Now go!" Mr. Gray turned and walked off the stage, obviously angry. By this time the students had just about grasped the Lakota war whoop and the auditorium was resounding with it.

Ms. Jones took the microphone from Greywolf and said, "Students...." There was almost instant silence, something I had never seen in all my school years. "Students, I am deeply ashamed and humiliated that you had to hear the words which came from your principal's mouth. Maybe it is insubordination, but I cannot support someone who, as Greywolf has said, even hints that some group does not have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I am deeply saddened by the death of Gregory. Few of you and few faculty, I suspect, knew Gregory. I knew him well since, for whatever reason, he chose me as someone to whom he could talk. He was a gentle, kind, loving young man. He was gay. That was who he was. And we all failed him to the point that death seemed better than life. At this time, I would offer the microphone to any faculty member who would like to address this assembly."

Mr. Allan, a member of the PE department walked up the aisle slowly, took the microphone and, with tears in his eyes, said, "There is no doubt that the cesspool of prejudice and hatred toward anyone who is gay or suspected of being gay or who is simply different is the PE department. Those who raped--did you hear that? Those who RAPED Gregory are considered heroes when they are in the men's locker room. Members of the PE faculty have often encouraged that while I have sat back and kept my mouth shut. Well, it is not shut any more. Two of the real jocks in this school--if we mean a real man when we say jock--are standing here on this stage with me: Greywolf who is fearless in his defense of justice and fairness and Michael Andrews who has more balls--if you'll excuse that expression--than any ten of you who yell 'faggot' in the hall, or who laugh when someone else does, or who simply says nothing. I beg your forgiveness Greywolf and Michael for not being a real man as you are."

The auditorium exploded with chants of 'Greywolf and Michael' punctuated by Lakota war whoops.

When Mr. Allan stepped from the microphone, Michael looked at Ms. Jones and she nodded. Michael took the microphone and said, "It is neither a matter of pride or choice, it's simply the way God put me together. I am heterosexual. I am in love with a wonderful, beautiful woman. But that gives me no special rights, no privileges, no freedoms; I have neither more nor less than I would have if I were homosexual and in love with a man. This school faculty, students and administration has failed in its responsibility to Gregory Burnette. Who knows what the world has lost because he could no longer live in it? Think, if you dare, what the world would be like without some of the most brilliant artists, musicians, poets, architects, scientists, doctors, writers, religious thinkers and leaders and thinkers who we know were gay. Different is different, it is not wrong. Rape is rape, abuse is abuse, violence is violence regardless of the intended victim. I say intended victim because we are all victims when one of us is a victim. I know and appreciate the care which the school board and superintendent took to make sure no one's religious beliefs or non-belief were violated in regard to the recital, concert and exhibition at St. Mary's. Nevertheless, while I am not a member of St. Mary's and cannot make the final decision, I am announcing a memorial service for Gregory Burnette this evening at 7:00 at St. Mary's. I will check with Fr. Tom to make sure that is possible and have an announcement for you before school ends. Now I hope we will all observe silence in commemoration of the life of Gregory Burnette after which I suggest you file out of the auditorium in silence and go to the class you have immediately after lunch. Let there be silence."

I have been a student at Independence High School for four years. There have been assemblies in which silence was observed in commemoration of two or three faculty members who had died and for several students killed in auto accidents, but I have never heard a silence like the one which descended upon the students. Slowly students started drifting out of the auditorium and still the silence was as absolute as it could be with almost a thousand people walking. As I stood, I realized tears had been steaming from my eyes and when I looked around, I was not the only one crying. I thought I was throwing caution to the wind as I turned and embraced Matt but, as I did, I noticed that students all over the auditorium were hugging each other and, most amazing of all, men were hugging men.

A Special Place--Part Fourteen Matt

As Luke and I walked in silence to physics class, I felt as though I and the students at Independence had started being cleansed of filth we had all carried because of the treatment Gregory had received when he was in our midst. I also was so proud of my father and my brother Michael. Coach Allan was right, the kid--the MAN--had balls.

I noticed that students remained silent until they reached their classroom doors--most walking arm in arm regardless of sex--and as they went into classrooms, felt free to talk. I was surprised when Luke asked me, "Matt, what is Greywolf's name, I mean other than Greywolf. I have never known."

I smiled and wondered just why Luke thought to ask that question at that moment. It seemed so much a part of what was going on. "Dad's full name is Patanka St. Michael Greywolf. It would be great if you could prevail upon him to tell the class where he got his name because it is the perfect name for someone who has done what he just did. I won't spoil it and if he won't tell you its history, Mom or I will later."

By the time Luke and I were seated, most students were in their classrooms. A few minutes later the intercom came on. It was Michael. "Students of Independence High School, I have contacted Fr. Tom at St. Mary's and he has agreed to a memorial service at St. Mary's this evening at seven. He will give us help in designing the service so if you want to work on it, please meet me in the commons area after school. St. Mary's is relatively small and will not hold all the student body, but those who cannot be in the church itself may go to the parish hall where audio and video will make the service available. Thank you."

"I guess I better be thinking of music for tonight. Here's Dad. Ask him about his name."

While AP physics is a small class--9 men and 6 women--when Dad walked into the room it rocked as the men burst into Lakota war whoops and the women did their call for warriors. Greywolf was obviously speechless. As the students grew silent, Luke stood up and said, "Mr. Greywolf, I think I speak for the entire class when I say you made us proud of being a part of this school today and deeply honored to have you as our teacher." The room again sounded like a Lakota camp. "I realized," Luke continued, "as I was walking from the auditorium that I have known you for my entire life and look upon you as a father, but I have never known or heard your name, I mean other than Greywolf. When I asked Matt, he told me your name and said it fit perfectly with what was going on and suggested you tell the class the story of your name."

"Luke, I am very proud of my name, but I am not sure I can talk about it without appearing to be bragging and taking credit for something that belongs to the students in this school."

"Mr. Greywolf, everyone in this classroom has known you for at least four years. We know you are not a braggart--I learned that word from Mrs. Greywolf by the way. If you would, please tell us the story of your name."

"As perhaps few of you know, I was born on Rosebud Reservation to a Lakota woman. My grandfather delivered me and when I was born, the moon was full and as I came from my mother's womb, the moon came from behind a cloud and bathed my face. My grandfather immediately gave me my child's name: Moon-in-the-Face...." Greywolf then told the whole sordid story of his birth, abandonment by his mother, and his abuse by his uncle.

"When I was perhaps nine or ten, an Episcopal priest who had a deep understanding of the way of the Lakota and appreciation of our traditions took me into his home. Through his and his wife's love and understanding, I was gradually being healed. But when I was thirteen I still had nightmares and was still deeply disturbed. In his wisdom, the priest took me to visit a Lakota elder--you'd call him a medicine man. I lived with him through the spring and summer. I learned much and much healing took place. Finally he suggested I do a vision quest to allow Wakan Tanka--the Great Spirit--to guide me to seeing who I was and give me my adult name."

"I did a sweat to cleanse my body and spirit then I was led to a place far removed from anyone. I went into a small opening to a hole in the ground only slightly larger than I. The opening was covered and I was there seven days. During that time I had many dreams and visions, but none revealed to me who and what I was. Then, near the end of the last day, I fell into a trance and a buffalo appeared in the space with me and then I became the buffalo. When the elder came and opened my quest place, I came out bent and lowing like a buffalo. As I came out, he gave me my adult name Patanka. It's a word which, in one sense, means buffalo, but to bear that name means your purpose in life is to be as a buffalo to your people to give that they may be protected, especially the weak and downtrodden--those who are unable to protect themselves. When I returned to Fr. Mack, I told him my new name."

"Since my birth had never been registered and I had never been baptized, he gave me a Christian name which held much the same meaning as Patanka, St. Michael. Thus my full name, with which I was baptized, is Patanka St. Michael Greywolf and I have tried very much to live who I am." Once again I was in a room that was absolutely silent. Slowly first one then another student started applauding until all fifteen were standing and applauding.

A strange mood pervaded the school for the rest of the day, a mood very difficult to describe. On the one hand, the mood was a very somber one as, I was sure, students thought about Gregory and his death. On the other hand, there was a sense of pride and of being cleansed. I knew I would need to meet with Michael and the students planning the memorial service, but I also felt I needed to spend time with Luke who, I knew, had been affected by Gregory's death more than even he realized. As soon as the bell rang, I told Luke I would meet him at the Jeep since I needed to see Michael. When I found Michael, I told him I would come back after school to meet with the planning group because I felt I needed to be with Luke. "Matt, I was worried that you might not stay with Luke. He needs you right now; he really does and don't worry about coming back. Meet us at St. Mary's. I've made arrangements for those interested in working on the service to get there so I'll see you then. Now go to Luke."

When I reached the Jeep, Luke was sitting, glassy-eyed. As I got in and started the Jeep, I placed a hand on his thigh and he looked at me with a weak smile, then turned and stared out the window. Something was definitely wrong and Luke was not telling me. I left my hand on his thigh and drove toward home. As we neared the river bridge, Luke spoke for the first time, "Matt, could we go to the falls?"

"Of course." I pulled to the side of the road, parked, and the two of us started across the meadow. I didn't know what to do so I just walked beside Luke. Finally he reached out and took my hand and we continued to the falls. He crossed the canes and we walked to the sandy bank of the falls' basin and sat down. Luke still had not said a word since he asked that we come to the falls. Suddenly he grabbed me and started crying, sobbing. He continued sobbing like a child, completely out of control. All I knew to do was hold him tightly, his head resting in my shoulder as I stroked his hair. Gradually his sobbing slowed as he clung to me. I still held him, at a complete loss as to what was going on.

When Luke's sobs had stopped, he looked up at me with a tear-stained face and red, swollen eyes, placed his hands on the sides of my head and pulled my face to his and gave me a hard, passionate, desperate kiss. As his kiss continued it became harder and harder, almost brutal in its intensity. "Matt, I love you, I love you, I love you," Luke said as he broke the kiss, but only momentarily. Once again his lips were crushing mine.

Luke broke his kiss and he looked into my eyes. "Matt, I love you so much and I have hurt you so much. Today the assembly was torture for me. I was filled with emotions which were racing around, clashing with each other. I thought about how terrible life had been to Gregory and yet he kept going for so long. I thought about what a coward I had been because I had not suffered at all as he had, yet I tried to kill myself. I also understood the feelings Mary Kathryn expressed when she said she both hated and loved me: loved me as her beloved brother and yet hated me because I had tried to kill him. I felt the same way about myself. I loved me because you loved me and hated myself because I tried to kill the one you loved. I felt like a coward because I didn't get up on the stage as say, 'I ask nothing more of you and nothing less than Michael asks and deserves and I am in love with a beautiful, wonderful man. I am gay. At the same time, I hated myself because I even thought of exposing you to the hatred and abuse that you would undergo because it is you I loved and everyone would soon know that. Matt, I just didn't know what to do or why I was having all those feelings and others I can't describe or explain."

As I held Luke close and stroked his hair, he once again placed his head on my shoulder as a baby rests its head on its mother. "Luke, my beloved, you have gone through a very difficult time. Maybe you need to see a counselor or maybe you just need to talk. I don't know and I can't tell you what you need to do. Both of us have been cowards because we should have trusted our friendship enough to know that confessing our love to the other would not destroy it. We should have known, both of us, that our hearts would not allow us to hate the other. But we did not. If we had it to live over, would it be different? I would like to think that it would, but in my heart of hearts I know it would not. The past is the past; what has been done and left undone cannot be changed. Maybe, I hope, I pray that the tears you have shed here washed all the past, not away, but into the past. I love you, Luke. I have loved you for a long time and I expect to love you as long as I live and after if that is possible. If my love is enough, then so be it, but if you need to seek other help, please do. I want you to love Luke as I love Luke."

"Matt, hold me; just hold me."

I pressed Luke's head down on my shoulder and gently rocked back and forth. Without realizing it, I started singing softly to my Yonghon Tongmu, "More than the greatest love...." Soon I felt Luke's body relax and he sighed. I realized that he was emotionally drained and had fallen asleep. I held him close as he slept. I became anxious about the time since I would soon need to be at St. Mary's, yet I dared not disturb Luke. I realized that he was sleeping peacefully and assumed that was the result of exhaustion from the emotional roller coaster he had found himself on today and, I dared hope and pray, the release he had found in his tears and his few words to me. I decided that the group planning the memorial service could pick the music and I could play it since it had to be familiar, so I relaxed and thought to myself, "I will stay here until Luke wakes up or I just have time to get to St. Mary's before the service."

Just as my thought was completed, Luke raised his head, looked into my eyes and smiled a pure Luke smile. "Sarang Hanun Pomul, I would love you if I were straight as an arrow because you have a wonderful, caring, loving heart. But I am not straight as an arrow and I love you because of your heart, but also because you are my beloved who loves me in return." With those words, Luke placed his lips against mine for the gentlest, most tender kiss he had ever given me. "Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf, will you pledge yourself to me forever as I pledge myself to you?"

"Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Larsen, I will." Our lips met once more in a tender, loving kiss.

"Matt, I know you don't expect it or require it, but please accept my thanks for allowing me to pour out the past, for holding me and giving me the courage and power to allow myself to be healed. Matt, I believe with all my heart the time we have spent in this place today has made me whole again and it would not have been possible without your arms around me."

"Luke, being whole is what our love is about. I can't think of a better way to describe it. Without you, I am incomplete and I know that you make me whole and we make each other whole."

"I could stay here forever, but you, especially, have to be a part of what I hope and believe will help make a lot of people whole again. We better get to St. Mary's because I don't know how, but I am going to be a part of the healing which I believe this memorial service will be."

"Luke... ah, never mind. Ah, Luke...."

"Matt, trust."

"Luke, you said you felt you should have joined Michael on the stage today. I.... "

"Are you afraid I will announce that I am gay? That we are lovers?"

"Afraid? Honestly I don't know. I think I am, but had you done it today, I think I would have rushed the stage and given you a kiss you'd never forget. But...."

"No, Matt. I do not intend to announce that I am gay or that we are lovers. That would take the focus off of where it belongs, on Gregory and the repentance that I hope this service requires of all of us. I don't know what I will do, but let's go see what shapes up." We got up, Luke went to the river and bathed his face in the still chilly water, making his eyes less red and swollen.

Arm in arm we walked across the meadow to the Jeep. As we drove into town, Luke freed my hair and placed his arm around me. I wondered if there would be other crises in the future and if Luke really needed to seek professional help. After all, since he left the hospital he had seemed ok, but the events of the day had overwhelmed him.

"Matt, do you realize that I proposed to you and you said yes," Luke asked out of the blue.

"I certainly do. We are now engaged."

Luke started laughing outrageously and said, "And we don't even know if we're sexually compatible!"

"The time is coming."

"And so will we," Luke laughed again.

When we reached St. Mary's, I turned into the side street leading to the parking lot. There two school activity buses were in the parking lot, along with a large number of cars I recognized as students'. Additionally I saw, parked down the side street, vans which I recognized as TV news remote units. Before I could say anything, Luke said, "Holy shit! Do you see what I see? Not only does the Lexington TV station have a remote here but also there's one from Jackson." Now just who gave them the word? They had to have been called just after the assembly."

"Kid, this may be more than we expected and I hope will accomplish more than we dared dream. Brother Michael will really make headlines!"

When we got to the parish hall, Michael and about a dozen students and Ms. Jones and Fr. Tom were sitting around tables arranged in a square looking a The Book of Common Prayer and hymnals from several different churches. Rabbi Feldstein, Dr. Rogers from the United Methodist Church and the Rev. Ms. McDougall of the First Presbyterian Church were also present. "Matt, good timing. Mr. Smith is here with the Symphonic Brass and Percussion and Paula is working with the Mixed Chorus. We're putting together a service. If you'll work with them on the music, we'll put it all together later. We need to get things ready so Gertie can do programs. She's volunteered to stay as late as necessary to get that done," Fr. Tom informed me.

"Were all the clergy invited?" I asked, because I wondered where the others were.

"Of course, but one had bought a piece of land, another a cow and a third had married a wife. I believe that's about the way it goes isn't it my Christian brethren?" Rabbi Feldstein smiled.

"Well, most weren't polite enough to offer an excuse," Dr. Rogers replied.

"Luke, would you call the family and let them know where we are? Of course, Greywolfs know, but Dad and your family does not," Michael said.

"Sure. I'll be right back."

I sat down at the table and immediately looked over what had been planned so far. The service had been divided into two parts. The first was a penitential section which seemed appropriate in light of student reaction this afternoon. The second was the memorial service proper. Three speakers had been confirmed: Ms. Jones, Greywolf and Michael. No doubt there would be others. "Do you know that both Lexington and Jackson have TV remote units outside?"

"No, we didn't. We have been so busy in here. Don't you all think we need to get an official spokesperson to deal with he media? Otherwise everyone will be hounded by them," Ms. Jones said. "Greywolf was here a while ago. I'll see if I can find him and get him to be spokesperson."

I went into the church to find out what as being done about the music. As I opened the door from the sacristy, the brass and percussion started Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man." How appropriate, I thought. We were celebrating the rights of the common man and recognizing in the memorial service what happens when those rights are denied.

"Matt, glad you got here. All we have so far is "Fanfare" and "Amazing Grace." Any input from you would be welcome," Mr. Smith said.

"First question is would you like organ with "Fanfare?" Don't think I have ever heard it that way and I know I don't have an organ transcription."

"I've heard rumors of some Millie Willingham state trumpets here. How about you just using those and play the trumpet part with the trumpets in the ensemble?"

I laughed, "One of these days you'll have to hear the whole story of the trumpets. Using them is a great idea on two counts. First, the state trumpets are great. I'll hold the volume down otherwise they would be all you would hear. Second, Millie gave them in thanksgiving for Jason, her son, and his companion/lover Anthony on the seventh year of their commitment to each other."

"And St. Mary's allowed that?" someone in the ensemble asked.

"Not only allowed it, but there is a bronze plaque stating that affixed to the rear wall below the trumpets. The trumpets are those trumpet-shaped pipes extending over the rear door."

"Ok, let's get on with it. Matt, could you do a prelude?"

"Sure. How about the old standards I do when I haven't done adequate practice: Bach's 'Sheep May Safely Graze' and 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring?"

"Sounds good. We'll have 'Fanfare' and what other hymns?"

"The first part of the service is penitential and the memorial service proper is the second." We continued to talk about the music and finally got it together. I took the music list to the group working in the parish house and they had just about finished their work. "Here's the music," I said. "We can put it all together if you are ready." Fr. Tom finally had a copy for Gertie and took it to the office. Three or four students went with Fr. Tom to help Gertie.

As soon as Fr. Tom left, Luke said he had called his parents and David and we were all to go to the Larsens' for supper after the service at Gabrielle's invitation.

Fr. Tom walked back into the room and said, "If I know teenagers, you'll need something before the service is over. I have ordered pizza and drinks for everyone. Also, Greywolf is holding a news conference in the parish library so I guess that's under control."

When the pizza arrived, everyone gathered in the parish house and in spite of the fact that there were about a hundred high school students in the room, it was unnaturally quiet. About that time the students from the office and Gertie brought in the programs to be collated and folded. They had done an amazing job, especially in light of the time bind.

As soon as the programs were ready, students, under Gertie's direction, started setting up the parish hall in the event that there was an overflow from the church. The chorus and ensemble would be in the chancel and that took care of about seventy students. St. Mary's held 250 comfortably and almost 350 with added chairs

At 6:30 students started arriving. The first dozen were made ushers as soon as they stepped inside the church.

When I went into the church, I saw the TV crews setting up cameras and microphones. Fr. Tom was overseeing that. Michael was speaking to a small group of students in one corner of the church. "What's going on here?" I asked.

"These students are taking part in the service, reading, leading psalms and prayers. We're looking over the program and will make sure each person knows where to sit and where to go to do their part."

"Great." I went to the organ and looked over the program. The first speaker gave me a real shock. It was Luke! The program, in spite of being put together by a committee--mostly students--was impressive:

A Penitential Service for Independence High School

and a

Memorial Service for Gregory Burnette

Prelude: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring Bach Sheep May Safe Graze Bach Matthew Greywolf, organist

Psalm 6: The Psalm will be read from The Book of Common Prayer found in the pew. It is the red book. Psalm 6 is found on page 589. The reader will read the odd numbered verses, the congregation will read the even ones. Angile Ledbetter, reader

Hymn: "Forgive our sins as we forgive"

"Forgive our sins as we forgive" you taught us, Lord to pray; but you alone can grant us grace to live the word we say.

How can your pardon reach and bless the unforgiving heart that broods on wrongs and will not let old bitterness depart?

Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls and bid resentment cease; that reconciled to God and man, our lives will spread your peace. Mixed Chorus, Paula Wright, conductor

Exhortation to Repentance and Confession Luke Larsen, speaker

A Litany of Repentance: Students who wish may kneel. A period of silence will be observed before and after the litany.

Reader and Congregation:

Most holy and merciful Father: We confess to you and to one another, that we have sinned by our own fault in thought, word, and deed; by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.

R: We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.

C: Have mercy on us, Father.

R: We have been deaf to your call to serve others, loving them as we love ourselves.

C: Have mercy on us, Father.

R: We confess to you, Father, all our pride, hypocrisy, and intolerance,

C: We confess to you, Father.

R: We confess our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people,

C: We confess to you, Father.

R: We confess our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves,

C: We confess to you, Father.

R We confess our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work,

C: We confess to you, Father.

R: Accept our repentance, Father, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty,

C: Accept our repentance, Father.

R: Accept our repentance for all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us,

C: Accept our repentance, Father.

R: Most especially accept our repentance for the hurt and harm visited upon your child Gregory by our actions and inaction.

C: Accept our repentance, Father, may he rest in peace.

R: Accept our repentance, Father, and grant him peace. Alexander Johnson, reader

Hymn: Amazing Grace Hymn 671 in the blue hymnal in the pews.

Fanfare for the Common Man Copland Symphonic Brass and Percussion with Organ, Eugene Joyce, conductor

Gregory: A Gentle Spirit Constance Jones, speaker

The Rights of Every Human Being: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness Michael Andrews, speaker

America the Beautiful Hymn 719

Failed Obligations Patanka St. Michael Greywolf, speaker

Brother Love: If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. Whoever loves God must also love his brother. Larry Watley, speaker

Love divine verses 2 and 3 Hymn657

Who is a Man? Linda Lipinsky, speaker

Who IS a Man? Macon Allan, Speaker

Commendation Silence will be observed for a period.

R: Give rest, O Father, to your servant Gregory,

C: where sorrow and pain are no more.

R: You only are immortal, the creator and maker of mankind; and we are mortal, formed of the earth, and to earth shall we return. For so did you ordain when you created me, saying, "You are dust, and to dust you shall return." All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

C: Give rest, O Father, to your servant Gregory, where sorrow and pain are no more.

R: Into your hands, O merciful Father, we commend your servant Gregory. Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light.

Silence will be observed for a period.

R: Amen.

C: Amen. Mary Kathryn Larsen, reader

Amen (from "The Lilies of the Field) Mixed Chorus The Congregation is asked to join in.

God of Our Fathers Hymn 718

Postlude: Overture for Trumpets Purcell Symphonic Brass and Percussion with organ

As the Congregation leaves, please take a candle with you. Take light into the darkness.

By 6:45 the church was packed. Extra chairs had been brought in earlier and people were standing any place they could find. Gertie and the crew had to run off more bulletins and still people came. While the original intention was for this to be for Independence High School, parents and grandparents, friends and neighbors came. The parish hall was filled long before the time for the service to begin. The two remote units were able to set up monitors and sound systems outside so people stood in the street and on the lawn.

If there had ever been any doubt about the talent at Independence, it should have vanished. I knew that "Forgive Our Sins" needed to be a part of this service, but also knew it was not known by many people. In fact, no one in the mixed chorus had ever heard of it. You would never have known that from the performance Paula got out of them. The speeches were all excellent and all done without notes. Luke almost scared me to death when he opened with the statement, "I too, have attempted to take my life, but I was more fortunate than Gregory. I failed. My reason.... " My heart skipped a dozen beats in a half second. " unimportant." He then talked about the suicide rate among gay teens and how the cause was not their sexuality, but the treatment they received from peers, parents, teachers and society in general. He then addressed the treatment Gregory had received while a student at Independence. When Alexander took his place to begin the Litany of Repentance, every person in the church knelt. I learned later that those in the street and on the lawn did the same.

Ms. Jones showed all of us a side of Gregory that we had not allowed ourselves to get to know. And now it was too late.

Michael's speech was impassioned, direct, and hard hitting. He had really gotten a hold on the idea of the equality of everyone in regard to their rights.

Greywolf spoke of the failure of the faculty to curb--no, not tolerate--harassment, prejudice, and discrimination. He did not leave out parents or the community. He certainly made it clear that treating bigots as heroes or exempt from the law cannot be countenanced by a community, a school or a family.

Larry hit hard at the position churches take in regard to people who are different. I thought he came very close to outing himself he was so passionate about what he was saying. Obviously he was a very religious person who had suffered greatly at the hands of religious bigots but he managed to say all that without saying why. And, of course, I really didn't know why, but I too, had seen him look at Eugene and had noticed Eugene's glances at Larry and I was almost positive they were a couple.

The only real levity of the whole evening came when Linda attempted to answer the question "What is a man?" Her sarcasm was a welcome break, but also doubly strong for those of us who had heard her story only yesterday.

Well, it was over. Students were standing in small groups, holding candles and talking quietly. Gradually they started drifting off, many arm in arm, men as well as women, as they had been after the assembly.

"Gregory," I thought, "you have accomplished more by your death than many accomplish in a lifetime." My eyes filled with tears as I thought of how he suffered that some of us might become more fully human and uttered a prayer for him and thanksgiving for his life.

As I walked back into the church, I saw Eugene and Paula and assured them that I would have them at my recital if I had to fight the whole school board. As I was taking off my vestment, Luke came up behind me and put his arms around me and gave me a kiss. "Luke, you have scared me to death tonight, but I was so proud of you. You are a wonderful human being and I feel so very, very lucky that you love me."

He took me into his arms, kissed me again, and said, "No more lucky than I am that you love me, Sarang Hanun Pomul." As we walked out of the church, a TV reporter came up and asked if I had been the organist. When I told her I was, she said she had taken organ for many years and thought she was qualified to judge an organist. "You are really very, very good. And I want you and all the students who put together tonight's service to know that it was very powerful and moving to someone as hardened as I think I have become. And all this was done after school today?"

"Yes, it kinda followed a student rebellion over comments our principal made."

"That's what I understood from Mr. Greywolf. From your hair I wouldn't be surprised if he were your father."

"Yes, I am Matthew Greywolf."

"And you, young man?"

"Luke Larsen."

"Luke, what you said was very moving. Well, I've got to go. We're doing a long segment on today's events during the 10 o'clock news unless we can get the news director to let us start at 9:30. We have enough take to go for a full hour, but you never know what is and is not news until the news director tells you. Again, the students of Independence should be very proud of themselves in spite of the tragedy which brought out the concern and talent. Well, Good night."

"Good night." I knew it was dark, but I failed to realize just how late it was. It was almost 8:30 already. The buses had taken kids back to school and the parking lot was even empty. Luke and I continued walking arm in arm to the Jeep. As soon as we were inside, he immediately started letting down my hair as he pulled my body to his and we exchanged a deep, passionate kiss. "Luke, I love you, Man, I love you." He answered with another kiss.

I think we were both just about exhausted by the events of the day since we rode in silence, his arm around my shoulder, my hand on his thigh. Just before we reached his house he suddenly said, "Man, it is 8:30 already and all I have had since lunch was a slice of pizza. I'm starved."

"Gabrielle will have the cure for that in a few minutes," I laughed as we pulled into his drive.

Yong Jin was helping Gabrielle get supper ready. Jens was nowhere in sight. "Where's everybody?" Luke asked.

"Greywolf and Coach Allan had to drive the buses back to school. Michael and Mary Kathryn took the bus back to school and David and Margaret went to get them and Greywolf since I drove the car home to help Gabrielle. Jens called and said he would be late getting home since he got back from Jackson later than he planned and still had to take some things by the office. Everyone should be here soon," Gabrielle said.

"We're going to my room after we get washed up. Call when you're ready for us.

"Just what makes you think we'll ever be ready for you two," Gabrielle laughed.

"Because we're so darn cute," Luke quipped.

We went upstairs, washed up and went to Luke's room. He closed the door behind him and dragged me to his bed. "Babe, I have been thinking about you all day, even with all the excitement. He lay down on top of me, covered my lips with his and started deep kissing me, his tongue exploring my mouth. As the kiss became more and more passionate, I could feel his hardness pressing against my own. He started grinding into me as my hips rose to meet his. Before we knew it, we were dry humping each other like mad. "God, Matt, I want your body so bad."

"Babe, I want yours too. I need your body."

"Luke, Matt," Gabrielle called from downstairs.

"A mother's voice can be added to the means of keeping it slow and easy," I laughed. It took us a while to get presentable, otherwise our manhood would have announced our approach since we both had tents large enough for a family in our baggy pants.

When we got downstairs, everyone was seated around the table except Michael and Mary Kathryn who were in the den. When they came in they were excited. "The Lexington station just announced they were doing an hour and a half special report on Independence's protest and tonight's service. The announcer said it had originally been scheduled for 9:00, but due to technical difficulties it had been delayed until 10:00.

"I'm sure Greywolf and Yong Jin would also like to see the report," Gabrielle said.

Jens asked, "What's this about a protest and service? I've been out of town two days and haven't watched tv. Tonight as I went to the office I noticed TV equipment around St. Mary's, but didn't know what was going on. Then as I was driving home I heard an announcement on the radio that there would be news later about the events in Concord, but nothing more."

"This afternoon Mr. Gray announced that Gregory Burnette had committed suicide and made some very derogatory remarks about him. Greywolf protested...." Michael began.

"It must have really been bad for you to get bent out of shape, Greywolf," Jens laughed. "But let's finish dinner then we'll see what the news has to say about the whole thing."

I suspect those of us who had participated in the day's events were emotionally drained; Jens was obviously tired as was David. Nonetheless, Jens tried hard to play the cordial host, but got little response. He, of course, was the only one in the dark about what had been going on at school and St. Mary's. Come to think of it, he was the only one in the dark about me and Luke. I looked around the table and just knew that I was the last one to think about that since almost everyone was sneaking glances at me and Luke. Supper was over quickly and we cleared the table and went into the den. The TV was showing a teaser for a special report. After the usual used car ads and a couple for toilet bowl cleaner and deodorant ads, the opening credits began. A picture of the school was superimposed on the Declaration of Independence and as the picture of the school faded, pictures of people replaced it. The voice over said, "Today a small high school in a neighboring town took seriously words from the Declaration of Independence. Suddenly there was Michael speaking at St. Mary's saying, "We all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and we have witnessed what happened when they were taken away from a fellow student, Gregory Burnette."

"Wasn't Gregory that queer who was beaten up and abused by some school kids some time ago?" Jens asked.

"Gregory was a young man who was beaten, abused and raped by some of Independence's jocks, yes. And he was gay," Luke said.

"Well, why all the fuss this late in the game?" Jens asked.

"We were told today in assembly that he hanged himself in his bedroom where he was living with an uncle because his parents disowned him," Luke said. I could see Luke's clinched teeth and wanted to say, "Stay cool, Babe," but I wasn't even sitting close to him.

A Special Place--Part-- Fourteen Luke

The reporter Matt and I had met earlier then came on the screen, standing in front of St. Mary's. "This afternoon, Mr. Michael Gray was in a school assembly when he was given a message that a former student, Gregory Burnette, had committed suicide. Gregory, who was gay, was brutally abused, beaten and sodomized by five students from Independence a few months ago. When his parents learned he was gay, they disowned him. An uncle from another state took him in. We talked with the uncle by phone earlier and learned that Gregory had gone into deep depression but treatment seemed to have been making some progress until students in his school learned last week that he was gay. He was subjected to constant ridicule and verbal abuse and slipped into deeper depression. This morning when his uncle went to awaken him, he found him hanging from a rope in his bedroom."

I felt some of the same feeling and emotions I had experienced earlier rising in me. I needed Matt to hold me again, but that was not possible. I sat, hugging my knees to myself, wanting to leave the room, but also wanting to stay.

The reporter continued, "When Mr. Gray announced Gregory's death, he is reported to have said students should take Gregory's death as a warning not to choose to live as perverts. 'Those who make that choice,' he is reported to have said, 'should expect pay the high price normal people would demand of them'. Mr. Patanka St. Michael Greywolf, a senior faculty member and physics teacher at Independence, interrupted the assembly with Lakota war whoops and bounded on the stage demanding that Gray go to his office after appointing Ms. Constance Jones acting principal. Gray was reluctant to leave, but finally did so. Greywolf pointed out to this reporter that Gray was making statements which were not only in conflict with the Declaration of Independence, but also violated the policy of the school system regarding bigotry and use of derogatory words and names."

Dad looked at Greywolf and said, "Why don't you think what Gray said was right? Society does extract a high price of perverts and I think they should expect that."

"Greywolf simply said, "Jens, gays have the same rights as you and I. I guess we could count ourselves lucky that we were born heterosexual."

So far I was managing to hold onto my emotions and myself, but it was getting harder. I saw Matt looking at me with a very worried look on his face.

"Born heterosexual? Everyone is born heterosexual. Some just choose to be otherwise."

I opened my mouth to answer, but before I could, Mom spoke up, "Jens, even the church says that people are born gay. They do not choose to be gay or straight."

Dad didn't answer. The TV reporter had told about Michael's announcement of a service of repentance and memorial for Gregory while Dad was talking and he missed that. "The service was scheduled for 7:00 and by 6:45 St. Mary's church and parish hall were filled to overflowing. Our TV crew and one from Jackson set up monitors and sound equipment outside where at least an additional six or seven hundred people listened and watched. The service, which had been put together by students under the guidance of Fr. Thomas Moore of St. Mary's, Rabbi Irvin Feldstein of Temple Bethel, the Rev. Dr. Roger Whitfield of First United Methodist Church, and the Rev. Miriam McDougall of First Presbyterian Church, was entirely student led. Music was provided by the high school's brass and percussion ensemble and mixed chorus. Matthew Greywolf, who is the organist at St. Mary's and a student at Independence did an excellent job, and that comes from someone who took organ for years. With the exception of Ms. Constance Jones, who knew Gregory exceptionally well, Mr. Greywolf, and Coach Macon Allan, who apologized to the student body earlier for remaining silent when the men's locker room was, in his words, a 'cesspool of prejudice and hatred', the speakers were students."

"Our intention is to bring you the service without interruption. A reminder, the service is divided into two parts. The first part is a service of penitence which the students felt was needed since many felt they had, by action or inaction, contributed to Gregory's death. The second part of the service is a memorial service for Gregory. Before we start, there is one final note. Gregory's body was cremated and his ashes disposed of without a service. In a very real sense, tonight's service is the only service acknowledging the tragic life and death of this young man. Now we will go to St. Mary's Church in Concord for the service by students of Independence High School."

I knew I couldn't endure what was coming without support. When I looked up, I saw Matt looking at me. He had an even more troubled and worried look on his face. At this point I didn't care what anyone thought. I got up, walked over to Matt and sat between his legs. I felt his hand on my hair and was comforted. When I moved, Mary Kathryn got up and went and sat between Michael's legs. Dad seem oblivious to our move, thank goodness. I noticed, however, nothing escaped Mom--it never does--who looked at Michael and Mary Kathryn with a kind of 'aha' look on her face, then smiled.

The camera focused on Matt at the organ as the prelude began. When Angile stepped up and started the psalm the response was thunderous. I'm sure St. Mary's had never witnessed the responses to a psalm which shook the roof before. Anyone would be hard pressed to prove the chorus had never seen "Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive" two hours before they sang.

When I started speaking, Dad turned to me and said, "Luke, a lot of people know you tried to take your life and while I still don't know why, why did you have to announce it? In fact, why did you take part in this whole service? People will think you're a pervert." I felt Matt's hand pressing down on my head as if to say, "Luke, stay cool." But I was becoming less cool all the time. As my speech continued, Dad's face grew more and more disapproving, but at least he said nothing.

I looked around the room and saw tears in the eyes of everyone except Dad as my speech drew to a close. As Alexander led the litany of repentance, Dad commented that he didn't see why so many students felt the need to repent since only five boys had actually harmed Gregory. David finally spoke up and said, "Jens, sticks and stones only break bones, but words cut to the quick. They can kill." Dad did not respond.

Everyone was silent as the service went on until Mary Kathryn started the commendation. Before she had opened her mouth Dad said, "You too? I can't understand all this carrying on about a pervert who killed himself. It is sad, yes, but you all had nothing to do with it. His parents kicked him out, the judge didn't take his mistreatment very seriously and maybe he should have, but all this seems too much. He was a pervert."

"Jens, you have visited the concentration camps in Germany and you wept tears there. The Jews were not the only victims of German silence in the face of Hitler. Thousands of gay men were gassed as well because, as the students at Independence, Germans did nothing, said nothing. I wasn't born when that happened, but I still feel guilty because my parents supported Hitler and kept silent. Your children did the right thing. The students at Independence did the right thing, they repented for having helped bring about the death of a young man by keeping silent. I am very proud of all four of the children in this family for taking a major role in what I believe will be a new beginning for their school," Mom said.

"I guess if it had to do with race or gender, even religion, I might understand it, but Gabrielle, this boy was a pervert. He is in hell right now because he chose to have sex with men."

I finally had enough and even though I could feel Matt trying to hold me down, I had to speak. "Dad, can't you understand? First of all, if Gregory had sex with another man, it was only one, not men. No one knew he was gay until his lover, for whatever reason, broke up with him and to make his life miserable, told everyone he was gay. The only other time he had sex with men was when he was raped. Can you understand that? He was RAPED! After being abused in every possible way, beaten almost to death, he was RAPED. Why? Because God, for whatever reason, created him gay. He didn't choose to be gay. Why would anyone choose a lifestyle which would subject him to such abuse as happened to Gregory? He was not insane. In fact, he was a brilliant kid. He did not choose!" I was standing, shouting and crying when I finished.

"Jens, I think you need to talk to your priest about your own church's understanding of homosexuality. Even the American Bishops have said people do not choose to be gay, they just are," Greywolf said in a very soothing voice. It had no effect. I had seen Dad this way before. He would either have to admit he was wrong or dig in his heels. There was no question in my mind what he would do.

"Well, you can say what you will. Perverts are a pest to society and so far as I am concerned, society owes them nothing and they have no right to expect other than what they receive. And Luke and Mary Kathryn, I am ashamed of you for having taken part in this whole mess. I will not have a pervert around me. I know the church may say a lot, but the bottom line is that perverts will burn in hell unless their life here is made so miserable they choose to live as God intended them to live. They are damned and I will have nothing to do with them and that is that!" shouted Dad.

As I once said, the one part of me that I hate most is that my anger can boil over as does Dad's. I lost all control. Matt was practically pulling me backwards, trying to get me to sit down. I might have been able to take what Dad was saying about me, but he was also talking about Matt and that was too much. I would not be like Dad. I would not shout. In an apparently calm and reasonable voice I said, "Then I guess you'll have nothing to do...."

"No, Luke, no!" Mom and Matt exclaimed together. I paid no heed.

"I guess you'll have nothing to do with me then because I am gay and I am deeply in love with Matt Greywolf who loves me in return."

Dad looked stunned for a few seconds then lunged at Matt, grabbed him by the hair and hit him in the face twice as he shouted, "You God damned queer. You have made my son into a pervert, a hell-bound faggot!" He drew back to hit Matt again, who was already covered with blood, but was restrained by Michael and David.

In her go-to-your-room-and-stay-until-I-tell-you-to-come-out voice, Mom said, "Jens, go to our room. I will deal with you later." Dad left the room without comment. Dad is lord and master of the house until Mom puts her foot down. When that happen--and it seldom does--we all know to obey without question!

I was crying my eyes out and trying to get to Matt, but Margaret and David were examining him. Greywolf had gone into the kitchen and returned with a plastic bag of ice. Yong Jin was hugging Michael and Mary Kathryn, both of whom were in tears. Mom came and held me tight as I sobbed and shook.

David had gone outside and returned with his first aid kit and he and Margaret started cleaning up Matt. "Well, Matt has a bloody nose, but it is not broken. He's got a small cut on the lower lip--no kissing for a day or two, Luke--and he had a cut on his other cheek which will probably match the one from the barbed wire. Oh, and he will have a major shiner tomorrow morning. Other than that he is physically ok. Right Matt?"

"As right as I can be, I guess, having just been put on a no-kiss diet! Well, Luke my Yonghon Tongmu, I guess that blows the 'never out yourself to your parents when you're angry' rule and gives you a free evening since I don't think you'll need to tell Jens you're gay tomorrow night."

We both started laughing like crazy. Partly it was pent-up emotions being vented and partly it was the fact that what we had dreaded and worried about was over. Luke was finally able to get through the medical profession--David and Margaret--and while he couldn't kiss me on the lips, he certainly covered my face and neck.

"I guess I'm not half as shocked as I thought I would be to see my sons showing their affection and love," Gabrielle said with a laugh. "Luke, Matt, I won't attempt to apologize for Jens. What he has done is inexcusable. I only hope and trust that his love for you two which I know he has, and think you know too, will win--maybe in the short run, maybe in the long run--but love will win out."

"Mom, it is hard to believe he loves either me or Matt right now. But if anyone believes in the power of love, it has to be Matt and me."

"And I can only say 'Amen' to that, Gabrielle," Matt said through swollen lips.

"After today, I know I want to work harder at having a forgiving spirit, Gabrielle, and I know that is true of the four kids. Things will work out, I know they will. They have to. Matt and Luke know that friendship is not something to be lost if there is any way to prevent it. We all love Jens, but I'll admit, right now I think he is a real grade-A son of a bitch and bigot," Greywolf said.

"Gabrielle, I think it would be best if Luke went with me tonight. He can stay as long as he needs," David said.

Matt looked at me and said "I see what I saw earlier in the day when we went to the falls, Luke. I know you do not need to be anywhere other than in my arms tonight. David, I think Luke can come to your place tomorrow, but tonight he's sleeping in my bed in my arms."

"Matt, I think you are absolutely right," Margaret said. "And I think it might be a good idea for Mary Kathryn to spend the night with David or the Greywolfs as well."

"And Mom, just to complete the revelations for the night, Michael and I are also a couple. We, as Matt and Luke, loved each other for a while, but Michael was too chicken to take me on until last Christmas. We have kept it a secret because we didn't want restrictions which would interfere with our friendship. And while it looks as if we will have to supply the grand-kids for the entire family, we are not going to get an early start on that so don't worry." Leave it to Mary Kathryn to find the light side of even a pretty terrible situation.

"Well, in the light of the latest revelation, what can I say? Luke is gay and in love with one of the most wonderful men I know. I might wish he weren't gay, but I could not wish for a more wonderful companion for him. And who, especially after what I saw tonight, could desire a better man for a daughter than Michael Andrews. Mary Kathryn and I hugged Mom and she kissed both of us, then hugged Matt and Michael and gave them a kiss as well. "It's time you all were on your way. I know it has been an exhausting day even without this latest episode. Now I'll deal with the Dane in the other room."

After our good nights, we all left. Mom and Dad drove their car, Luke drove my Jeep so I could keep the ice on my eye, and Michael and Mary Kathryn rode with us. On the way home it was decided that the Gang of Four really needed to be together tonight and when Yong Jin came upstairs in the morning, all four of us were in Matt's bed. She announced, as she came into the room, "I hope you three guys have on more than you usually wear". We laughed and didn't answer.

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