A Special Place--Part Twenty--Luke
Once again I sensed Matt's presence before I awoke. It was a feeling of security, of being loved and cared for. It was a feeling that said, "Matt's here; all is well." As I gradually emerged from the land of dreams, I opened my eyes to a real dream: Matt's sleeping body beside me, his long, long black lashes resting on his smooth, dark cheeks. My heart was so full of love for this man I felt it would burst. I leaned on an elbow and just looked at him sleeping, thanking God Almighty for giving me the love of this man. As I looked upon his sleeping face, his eyes slowly opened and a smile spread across his face as his eyes sparkled. "Good morning, love of my life."
"Good morning, my life," Matt replied.
I leaned over my love and gently kissed his eyes. There was little evidence remaining of his black eye. I knew his lip was also healing, but I still was not willing to risk a real kiss.
"Today's a big day at St. Mary's. It's Palm Sunday. I guess I need to get up and get ready because I need to be there a bit early. Are you going with me or do you want to wait and come with the family?"
"Sarang Hanun Pomul, I will always be with you whenever possible. That's forever." Matt looked up at me, smiled, brushed my lips with his and then bounded out of bed. I followed him into the bathroom. After the obligatory morning piss, Matt turned on the shower and we washed each other, with butterfly touches. As I washed his hair, I couldn't help stopping from time to time to nip an ear or kiss a nipple. Finally we realized that we needed to get moving. We dried each other, got dressed and went downstairs for breakfast.
Palm Sunday at St. Mary's was not significantly different from what I had known all my life except for the fact that I knew I was surrounded by people who loved me and loved Matt, people who respected our love for each other.
At the coffee hour following the service, Millie called across the parish hall, "Matt, I need to see you and Luke." We walked across the room and when we reached Millie she said, "I have some forms for you two, Eugene and Paula. Ms. Norman called me about Oberlin. I have some influence there and I'm calling in some chips. You two and those other kids involved in the concert are coming by this evening around 7? We'll have something to eat and talk about college a bit."
"Could Larry, Eugene's best friend, come? He's kinda being left out."
"Sure. I'd like to meet him. So, how's things going with the concert and exhibition? Are you making progress?" Millie asked.
"We both got tons of work accomplished yesterday. Matt's ready to start practice with the chorus and ensemble. I have to go to Lexington to get some tools and to take part of my project to be completed there. At least I hope I can afford to do both. I have a really great project going, but I may have to cut back because of costs. I'll know after Wednesday. I'm skipping school and going over if Mr. Stephenson has made all the arrangements."
"How much money are we talking about here?"
"I'm not sure. It may well be more than I can swing and I don't want to ask Dad for more since I know college is coming up."
"Think a thousand would cover what you need?"
"I'm hoping it will be a lot less. Maybe I can find some used equipment which would take care of this project."
"Consider your budget a thousand and buy the best equipment you can find so it will last. You aren't planning on giving up on art are you? You will use it again, right?"
"Of course I'm not giving up my art and would use the equipment again."
"I can't get that much cash today, but I'll have it tomorrow. Matt, are you practising at St. Mary's tomorrow?"
"Drop by the house and pick up money for Luke's stuff before you go home. And how is your work going?"
"I think it's in good shape. Paula, Eugene and I worked yesterday until after lunch and think we have the music completed. We also set the program. I had most of the program notes ready so they just need polishing.
"When can I get them? I need to get them to the printer as soon as possible so it won't be a rush job. If the printer has time, the program should be a work of art."
"I can get them to you by Wednesday. But you have to promise to keep it under wraps. I want the two original compositions to be a secret--if that's possible--until the performance."
"I can certainly keep them secret, but I wonder if you can since the members of the chorus and ensemble will have to know them."
"Well, Paula, Eugene and I are going to try."
"Luke, when can I have the notes for your exhibition and photographs of your work for the catalog?"
"That could pose a problem. Everything has to be ready before May 12 since I have to have photographs for my AP exam in art. That's only nine days before the exhibition. Of course, I could get you most of the photographs and text before then. I guess if all goes well, everything could be in your hands by May 5. And I, also, have two things which will not be unveiled until the exhibition."
"Get what you can to me as early as possible. We'll make the two special works the center of the catalog if necessary so everything can be printed except the catalog entries for those pieces. Gotta run. See you kids at 7." And, with those words, Millie was off and running.
I caught Margaret and David just before they left. The family Sunday dinner was at David's--something which hadn't happened in ages, but Margaret had insisted on being a "real" part of the family. "Margaret, do you think you have enough food for three more hungry teenagers?" I asked.
David laughed and said, "I think Margaret is trying to make up for several years Michael and I have been sponging off the family. There's enough food for a tribe of teenagers. Why?"
"I'd like for Paula, Eugene and Larry to join us if that's all right."
"Of course it's all right."
Before we left, Matt went to the church office and called Paula and Larry. Both were excited about Sunday dinner. Larry told Matt he guessed Eugene was still at church, but he knew he would be pleased to come to Michael's for dinner. Matt told Paula and Larry he thought we might go to the falls after Sunday dinner.
When Margaret heard that she said, "Sounds like fun to me. Think you might let the old folks join you at the falls?"
"Sure. Guess I need to tell the guys and Paula to bring something to swim in."
"Is the water that warm?" David asked.
"If you're hot stuff it is," I laughed.
"How do you know?" Margaret asked.
"We all went in yesterday after we finished working."
"Can't Paula and the guys wear what they wore yesterday?"
"Not with the old folks around," David smiled. "We finally got the Gang of Four to stop skinny dipping when Gabrielle found out Mary Kathryn was still skinny dipping with the boys when she was almost eleven, but that didn't mean they did anything other than strip to underwear."
"Mary Kathryn too?"
"If the mood hits and that's all she has. Think her bra gives her fits, but it's not worth going home and coming back to get a swim suit," I said.
Margaret shook her head and said, "I sometimes wonder what I've gotten myself into."
"Admit it. You love it," David said and kissed her right there in front of God and everybody.
"Know you don't have your appointment book with you, Margaret, but Matt and I need to see you soon."
"Oh, I meant to tell you earlier. I made a time for you tomorrow at 2:30 if that's ok."
"Should be. I'll check with Matt. Later," I said as I saw Matt headed my way. "Matt, I think the whole family is going to the falls after Sunday dinner."
As we were leaving the office, Fr. Tom was headed for his study. "Hi, Luke. Haven't seen you in awhile. How's it going?"
"Pretty good actually. I guess you know Dad's reaction to learning I was gay."
"Yea. Couldn't help noticing the new look the organist was sporting. But things have worked themselves out?"
"Better than I expected. By the way, what do I need to do to become an official part of St. Mary's?"
"You just did. All you have to do right now is tell me and I'll enroll you as a communicant. When the bishop comes, he'll officially receive you, but that's just a formality. Do you want me to write Immaculate Conception and notify them? It won't make any difference since they don't officially recognize us, but I generally do as a courtesy."
"Sure, but just send it to Fr. O'Brian. He understands."
"Fine. See you guys next Saturday and Sunday and Sunday afternoon, right?"
"Right. I could ask at dinner today, but when is the Saturday afternoon event scheduled?"
"I had some things I had to do so it will be at 2. Maybe a little late for lunch, but that's the best I could do."
"That really suits my plans. I need to get to Lexington for a short while and if I leave early and get there when the doors open, I can be back by then. I was afraid I'd have to postpone that trip and it would really push me if it had to wait since I don't want to miss any more school than I have to."
"See you then if not before, or did you need something else?"
"No, Matt was just using the phone." As Matt walked up I asked, "Matt, did you tell the guys and Paula to bring swimsuits?"
"I forgot, but we can tell then when we get there. Let's jet."
We went to Paula's first. When we got inside, Paula introduced us to Mrs. Wright. She was a really nice looking lady. Like Paula, she was dark and had long black hair, not as long as Paula's, but longer than most women wear. 'Course, I am more than a little partial to dark skin and long black hair, so sue me!
"I'm really glad to meet you two guys. Paula has told me so much about you and what you are doing. I'm very pleased she has you as friends. Since Sheldon moved she had been pretty down until things started happening. I know she still misses him, but she has things which interest her to do and that sure makes it better for her."
I told Paula we were going to the falls after dinner and the whole family would be there so she'd need a swimsuit.
"Paula, I thought you went swimming yesterday."
All three of us blushed big time and Paula started stuttering as Matt and I started laughing. "I hope you don't mind, Mrs. Wright," Matt said, "but since we were allowed to go swimming by ourselves, we skinny dipped until Gabrielle--Mary Kathryn's mother--found out we were still doing it and Mary Kathryn was about ten or eleven. She laid down the law, now if we go to the falls by ourselves and decide to swim, it's just underwear."
"Matt! You need to learn to keep quiet sometimes," Paula said with a fresh blush.
"Sounds like fun, Paula, but a wet bra!!"
"Oh, when we finish, we strip and go home sans underwear," I said.
"Luke, you're making it worse!" Paula chided me.
"We turn our backs when we change, Mrs. Wright. I have seen nothing Paula didn't want to display," I added. Mrs. Wright laughed--I liked this woman--as Paula dashed out of the room, I supposed to get a swimsuit.
"Could I speak to you privately, Mrs. Wright?" Matt asked.
"Sure. Excuse us, Luke. Come in the kitchen Matt." I wondered what was going on, then remembered what Matt had up his sleeve and I was sure he was telling Mrs. Wright about Sheldon and making sure it was ok with her.
When she and Matt came back, both gave me the ok sign and smiled. I was very happy for Paula and was sure her mother was as well. "Paula, you're taking all day. Dinner is waiting."
Paula came back with a small bag and had changed into fresh shirt and shorts. "You're not wearing that outfit to Millie Willingham's, are you?" her mom asked.
"No, I have a dress in my bag. Didn't have room for a swimsuit so I guess I'll just have to go skinny dipping!"
"I suspect you could put your swimsuit in my shirt pocket," Matt kidded.
"Yea. Yea. Yea." Paula responded.
"Now children." Mrs. Wright laughed.
"We'll have her back before too late, unless she gets arrested for indecent exposure," Matt said.
When we got to Larry's, Eugene was not there. "Eugene usually gets home from church long before now. I'll call again." We went inside, spoke to Mrs. Watley and waited while Larry called. "Eugene's dad said Eugene wasn't available and I shouldn't call back. I'm afraid something is wrong. I have no idea what's going on. Well, I'm scared I might. Can we just wait awhile for him?" We all sat down on the front steps and were talking about nothing serious when we saw Eugene slouching down the street.
"You can just look at him and know he's not a happy camper," Paula said.
"Probably means another fight with his parents. Luke, at least your parents didn't make your life hell before they knew you were gay and only your dad did after--then for only a short time. Eugene lives in hell all the time he is home and his parents don't know. I finally decided a week ago I couldn't take it any more so I got my things and brought them home. I no longer stay over at Eugene's because I'm sure one day I would have had it and bust his dad one. And his mother is as bad--maybe worse. They keep telling him he is going to hell because he won't 'get right with God.' I don't even know what they mean. I do know that just about everything he does is wicked and evil in their eyes--the way he dresses, the music he enjoys, even the music he plays. He's only supposed to play gospel music at church. I know his dad mistreats him; I've seen bruises. He denies it or says, 'I don't want to talk about it.' Luke, I really worry at times about his trying to take your way out... suicide I mean. He can really be depressed."
When Eugene started up the walk, Matt called out "'sup Eugene?" Eugene immediately burst into great, body-shaking sobs, ran to Larry and grabbed him. When Larry embraced him, Eugene winced and Larry just held him loosely as Eugene continued to cry great sobs. When he was finally able to control his tears, he kissed Larry passionately, almost brutally, then put his head on Larry's shoulder. We all just sat there, not knowing what to do.
"Ok, Babe, what's the problem?" Larry asked as he lifted Eugene's head and looked into his eyes.
When Larry lifted his hand from Eugene's back, there was a bloody hand print on Eugene's shirt. "Eugene's back is bleeding, Larry!" I said, not believing what I saw. "Eugene, what happened?"
"We aren't allowed to watch TV in our house except for religious programs so Dad didn't know about the service for Gregory. This morning, the preacher had a TV and vcr set up for the adult class and showed part of the service. He made sure Dad saw me directing the ensemble and Michael's speech since Michael and his dad used to go to our church. When Dad saw that he blew up and then, when he saw Larry, he got livid. I didn't know all that until we got home and he called me into his room. 'I see you let that girly faced Andrews kid get you involved in Satan's work protecting homosexuals,' he said. When I started to answer him, he grabbed me, stripped off my shirt and started beating me with his belt. I started to tell him he was wrong about Michael and he hit harder. I almost told him I was gay, but remembered what you had said, Luke, and just took my beating. Otherwise, I think he might have literally beat me to death. He kept on and on saying he was going to beat the devil out of me so I would know that God hated queers and pansies. I yelled for Mama to help me and she said it was for my own good otherwise I might be tricked into becoming gay myself. 'The good book says spare the rod and spoil the child,' she said and stood and watched Dad beat me until he got tired and quit. When he quit, he dragged me to my room and locked me in. My sister slid a note under my door and told me she would keep Mom and Dad busy so I could climb out the window. What am I going to do?" Eugene started sobbing again and buried his face in Larry's shoulder. Larry started to put his arms around him and stopped.
"That's it! You are not going back there--ever!" Larry said. "Mom, come here, please." When Ms. Watley came, Larry gently took Eugene's shirt off and we all saw his back. His dad had beaten him so hard he had lacerations all over his back and they were still bleeding.
"That man ought to be jailed. Eugene, you need to go to the emergency room," Ms. Watley said.
"No, I can't do that," Eugene said, terrified.
"Larry, doesn't Eugene have clothes here," I asked and when Larry nodded, said, "Get him some for this afternoon and for dinner tonight, if he's able to go. We'll take him straight to David and Dr. Bailey."
Minutes later Larry can back with a bag. "I have clothes for both of us. Let's go. Call you later, Mom."
It was only a short trip to David's but it seemed to take forever because I knew Eugene was in pain. He tried to hold back the tears, but at times it was just too much. Matt skidded into David's drive and we all piled out. Larry was carrying Eugene who was in such pain he hardly stand. Matt ran ahead and yelled, "David, Margaret, we need you!" The whole family came running out of the house with David and Margaret in the lead.
As soon as David saw Eugene, he helped Larry get him inside. Margaret got her bag and David his. When they saw Eugene's back, David said though clinched teeth, "Who did this?"
Before anyone could answer, Margaret said, "Eugene, I'm going to give you a shot to ease the pain. I don't think it will be enough to put you out, but there is no need for you hurting any more than you have to." As soon as she had given him the shot, Margaret started stroking his hair. "Just relax all you can, Eugene, the shot will take a few minutes to take effect and then David and I will care for your back. Who did this?"
Eugene started to answer and started sobbing great sobs again. "His dad beat him," Larry said, "because of something that happened at church."
"Damn! Why did I stay in that place of hate," David asked himself. "Why didn't I take that preacher out? Is Eugene gay, Larry? Is that what caused this?"
All the kids kinda looked at each other, wondering what to say. Eugene finally solved the problem when he said, "Yes, I am and no, it's not the reason." The shot must have kicked in because he grinned and said, "It was your girly faced son's fault." David looked puzzled to say the least. Eugene started to talk, but was so groggy Larry finally told David what had happened.
"How old is Eugene, Larry?" Margaret asked as she started dressing his back.
"He's eighteen. Why?"
"If he was younger I would have to report this as child abuse. Since he's technically an adult, I don't have to report it. If I did it would be for assault. What do you think we ought to do, David?"
"I'm going to call Eugene's dad and tell him Eugene is here and is going to stay here. Luke can share Michael's room...."
"I'll go back to my own room. If I'm working late, I can sack out in the studio as I did Friday night."
"Ok, Eugene gets the guest room. I'll tell Joyce that Greywolf, Jens and I will be by this afternoon to pick up Eugene's things. I will also tell him that I am filing a report on this incident and if he causes any trouble or even contacts Eugene, I'll file assault charges against him. Larry, are you afraid to go with us so we can be sure we get everything?"
"With Greywolf, Jens and you? Hardly!"
"I've finished dressing his back and it looks as if Eugene has gone to sleep. I guess he was just exhausted and, when the shot relaxed him, he drifted off. He shouldn't sleep long and I don't think his back will be so painful he will need anything as heavy as the shot again."
"He almost told his dad he was gay. He would have killed him," Larry said as the whole situation finally hit him. He broke down in great wails and sobs. Yong Jin took him in her arms and gently rocked him. Since he towered over her, it was a kinda funny sight, but no one was laughing.
"I take it Eugene is more than just a good friend?" Greywolf asked.
"He's my very life," Larry replied.
Suddenly I realized that Dad was standing apart from the rest of the family and when I looked at him, he was crying. I walked over to him, put my arms around him and hugged him. "My God, what did I do? Luke, that could be you or Matt lying there bleeding. I am no better than Eugene's dad."
"Don't even think it! You acted in the heat of a moment's anger. You would never have beaten me or Matt the way Eugene has been beaten. His dad was cool and calculating to beat him that hard and long."
Matt came over and hugged Dad as well. "Jens, it's past. You're forgiven, but never, ever think you would have done what Eugene's dad did to him. Never."
Dad hugged us both and said, "I'm sorry. I am so sorry, Matt, Luke."
"We know that, Dad."
"I think Eugene will probably sleep for awhile now," David said. "I guess we really don't feel much like eating."
"I feel like celebrating," Larry said, as a huge smile brightened his face. He hugged Yong Jin and said, "The love of my life is out of the hellhole he's been living in ever since I've known him. He's among people who obviously will love and care for him and, in spite of his pain, I know he would want us to enjoy being here. Let's eat!"
The mood of the whole room immediately changed from one of gloom to one of happiness. Sure, we were all sorry for what Eugene had suffered, but we also realized it was worth it for him to have a chance at life in a loving family.
When we had finished eating--and it was a festive meal after all, and Margaret had demonstrated that she could keep up with Gabrielle and Yomg Jin in the cooking arena--we were still sitting at the table and talking about having planned to go to the falls, but Eugene was sleeping. Just when we had decided not to go, Eugene came staggering into the dining room. Larry ran to him and asked, "How are you, Babe?"
"I'm ok. Sorry I messed up your Sunday dinner."
"Think again, Mr. Joyce. We just finished."
"Eugene, would you like something to eat?"
"Eugene is always ready to eat," Larry said as he walked Eugene to the table. Margaret fixed him a plate of food and the adults went into the living room and we all stayed with Eugene. Larry told him his new living arrangements and Eugene started protesting that he was afraid of what his dad would do if he even knew he had left the house.
David overheard the conversation and came into the dining room. "He'll do absolutely nothing, Eugene. I called him and told him we would come for your things this afternoon and that if he did anything at all--even tried to contact you--I would have him arrested for assault. I will file a medical report and if he so much as says a word to you, he'll go to jail. I promise you that."
"But I'm afraid to even go back for my things."
"You won't. Greywolf, Jens and I will go for them and Larry will go with us to make sure we get everything. From the moment you walked in, this became your home.
Tears formed in Eugene's eyes and he said, "I don't know what I did to deserve being treated like a real human being."
"You're a real human being, that's all that is required or should be required to be treated as one," Michael said.
"Well," Eugene smiled, "are we real human beings going to the falls or not?"
"We decided not to since you were sleeping and you can't get in the water with your back in the shape it's in," I said.
"I don't have to get in the water to enjoy that place," Eugene replied. "Let's go, please."
"Then let's jet," Matt said. Soon the whole bunch was enjoying a place special for all of us.
When we did not go in the water, Eugene said, "Look, guys, just because I can't go in doesn't mean you have to stay out. Besides, I want to see Larry dive from the top." It didn't take any more encouragement, and soon everyone except Eugene and Margaret were in the water. It was still cold, of course, so it wasn't long before there were bodies all over the place soaking up sun. We stayed at the river until David reminded us we had to go to the Joyces' to get Eugene's things. I think we were all dreading that, not knowing what might happen.
David, Greywolf and Dad rode in David's van; Michael, Larry and I went with Matt in his Jeep. David reminded us to stay back until the three men had reached the Joyces'. We had just pulled up as the three men knocked on the front door. Mrs. Joyce came out and told them to get off their property before she called the police. In an icy voice I had never heard David use, he said, "Would you please do that, Mrs. Joyce. They are going to have to come anyway to haul your husband's ass off to jail."
"For what?" she argued. "Since when can't a parent discipline a child?"
"A parent always has the right to discipline a child but no one has the right to assault anybody, and that includes his children. Right now your son is under medical care as a result of your husband's assault, not discipline. As I told him, I am filing a medical report and if there is any interference with our getting his things or if Joyce even tries to contact him, I will turn it over to the law and he will be jailed for assault. Now if you will just stand aside and let us get Eugene's things, we will go."
"David Andrews, it's that girly faced faggot son of yours who led Eugene astray! I will see that he gets right with God so just get off my property and get Eugene back here or you'll regret it," old man Joyce shouted from inside the house. David blanched snow white and clinched his fists. Greywolf put his hand on David's shoulder and held him back. Suddenly Michael rushed past me, headed for the door. Matt and I both went from a standing stop to supersonic speed and caught him just before he pushed past Mrs. Joyce.
Jens and Greywolf both had their hands on David's shoulders and Matt and I had been joined by Larry and all three were struggling to hold Michael back. It wasn't easy and, frankly, I think all three of us would have enjoyed seeing Michael take old man Joyce out. "Ok, David, Michael, just calm down. You're not going to do Eugene any good if you lose your cool," Greywolf said. It was clear he was the only one who had any cool left, but I remembered his outburst and didn't want to see what would happen if he were pushed another inch. "Mr. and Mrs. Joyce, it was clear to me that you didn't want Eugene when I saw what had been done to him. Mr. Joyce, you beat him until his back is a bloody pulp. Mrs. Joyce, you stood by and encouraged your husband to beat him. Eugene has a home now where he will be loved and cared for. He's not coming back here."
"He's not welcome here. He's not our son any more since he's given his soul to the devil," Mrs. Joyce said, bitterly.
"He's a disowned faggot-lover. The devil has used that faggot Michael to steal his soul," old man Joyce again shouted from inside the house. Matt and I had loosened our grip on Michael and just managed to tightened our grip on him as we felt him tighten up to spring.
Jens did David one better in the icy, cold voice department because he was so calm you knew that he would have cheerfully strangled both Joyces. "Joyce, you have lost a beautiful, talented and loving son. How you two managed to produce such a child given your hatred and bitterness, I will never understand. But you did. Now you are throwing him away like garbage. Well, he's not garbage. He's a great human being. Now we have simply come to get his things...."
"There's nothing here that is his. Everything he claims was paid for with my money," Joyce shouted--still hiding inside.
"Probably true, but it was given to him and it was his. Now we have come for it. Get out of our way and we'll get what is his and be on our way. You'll never have to think or worry about him again," Greywolf said.
"He'll always have something that is mine. He will drag the good name of Joyce through the mud--him and his faggot, queer-loving ways."
Almost in a single voice, David, Greywolf and Dad said, in one way or another, "He can have mine."
Jens surprised all of us when he said, "And I would be deeply honored if he chose to accept mine." When there was no answer, he continued, "Now get the hell out of our way so we can get away from this hellhole!"
Old man Joyce finally came out of the house, holding a gun. "I told you to get off my property and I meant it. Now git before I have to hurt somebody." Eugene's sister, Janice, appeared in the door behind him, moving quietly. She had a ball bat in her hand and used it well, dropping old man Joyce to his knees. When he fell, he dropped the gun. Janice grabbed the gun as her mother made a dive for it.
"Back off, Mama. Fellows, come on in and get Eugene's stuff. I have called the police already." Old man Joyce was struggling to his feet, holding his head.
"Just you wait, young lady. When your father gets hold of you, you'll wish he would stop with a beating like he gave Eugene."
"I won't be here. I've already called protective services as well as the police. They will see that I have a safe place away from this hellhole."
"Get Eugene what's his name's stuff and get out of here," Joyce said, "You, young lady, get back in the house."
"Janice, get your things together too. We'll stay here until protective services arrive," David said. "I've seen your handiwork on Eugene's back, Joyce. We're not going to leave Janice here for that or worse. Now if you'll get out of the way, we'll do what we came to do. Janice, get in the Jeep." Everyone who had ever known David knew he was kindness and gentleness itself, but there was no question he meant business and was not to be crossed right now.
Janice went to the Jeep and Larry, Matt, Michael and I went to Eugene's room and got his stuff together and started carrying it to the van. Dad, David and Greywolf all stood guard while the Joyces looked on, obviously very angry, but not attempting to stop us. We had just stowed the first load of stuff in the van when the police arrived. They, of course, knew David and asked him what was going on. He explained the situation and one of them asked if David was going to swear out a warrant against Joyce. David told him he just as soon not, but that he would file a medical report on Eugene signed by himself and Dr. Bailey. "If Joyce makes any attempt to harm Eugene--no, if he even attempts to contact him--I'll swear out a warrant. He absolutely brutalized his son. Now he is threatening to do worse to his daughter. She has called protective services and I think you guys need to stay here until they come and can assure her of a safe place. I don't know what Joyce might do after I saw what he did to Eugene."
A social worker showed up just as we put the last of Eugene's things in the van and had started getting Janice's ready. The social worker talked to Jens, Greywolf and David--she knew David from seeing him with the EMS team and Greywolf from school-- while we loaded the van. After hearing the whole story, she said, "I can take her into protective custody and put her in a shelter if there is nowhere else she can go."
"She can go with any of us," David said.
"I'm afraid she can't go with you David, since there's no woman in your house."
"She could stay with Dr. Bailey couldn't she?" David asked.
"Sure. That would be ideal, at least until we can find a place to get her settled. Would Dr. Bailey be willing to take on the responsibility?"
"Sure she would. I'll call and tell her." David used his cell phone and called Margaret. When he explained the situation, she talked with the social worker and she approved Margaret keeping Janice until some permanent solution could be found. By the time the arrangements had been made, we had all of Janice's things in the van. The police and social worker talked with the Joyces and explained that since Eugene was eighteen, he was free to make any decision he wanted about where he lived. Janice, on the other hand, was only seventeen, but was now in custody of the state. "If either of you attempt to harm or contact her before a court hearing can be held, you will be subject to jail. While Eugene lies outside the jurisdiction of protective services, I am suggesting he find a judge today to place a restraining order against you two. Should he do so, you will be restrained from contacting him or coming with five hundred yards of him. Additionally, David has the authority, as a medical officer, to report a case of assault against you. You might eventually beat the charge, but you will go to jail until bailed out or taken to court. Mrs. Joyce, you need to be aware you have made threats against your daughter which could also land you in jail. Since you obviously don't deserve to have control of your children, the best thing you can do is just to leave them alone."
"Come on, Ma," Joyce said, "I can't stand this wickedness any more. Our children have sold themselves to the devil. The best thing we could have done would have been to beat the devil out of them earlier. Now they're in the devil's camp. They are no longer our children--they belong to the devil and he is welcome to them, we don't want them!" With those words, both went into the house and closed the door.
As we drove back to David's, I noticed a puzzled look on Matt's face. Something was troubling him, but he was saying nothing. Finally I had had it. "Ok, Matt, spit it out."
"What are you talking about? I don't know what you are talking about."
"Yes you do. You've got something stuck in your craw. I know it and you know it."
"I know it too, Matt," Michael said. "So out with it."
"Well, I'm not sure I should. I mean...."
"Yea, Matt," Michael added.
"Michael, I guess I'm just thin-skinned, but why did you get so upset when old man Joyce called you a faggot?"
"Did you think that meant I had a problem with you or Luke or Eugene or Larry? Was that what got you upset?"
"I guess it was. I guess I am a little thin-skinned. I don't really know. I just know when it took three of us to hold you down because someone called you a faggot, I thought you must have...."
"Matt, I think I would have been just as angry had old man Joyce called any of you a faggot. What really made me mad was the idea that his son was so weak anyone could have have made him into something he wasn't. And I know what name calling can do and here was a man talking about his own son. To tell you the truth, I don't think I even thought about what he was saying about me. That wouldn't have made that much difference. He's just a bigot, but he was Eugene's father, for God's sake, and he was...." Michael is not one given to tears, but he broke down and started weeping. "God, Matt, I'm sorry if you thought... Man, I don't care about who you love--yes, I do too. I care a whole hell of a lot and I would die if I wasn't someone you loved."
Matt pulled off to the side of the road and crawled into the back and hugged Michael. "I'm even more sorry, Michael, for ever doubting you. Man, there's enough real shit around without me creating imaginary shit."
Well, that sure broke the mood. When Matt tries to get foul-mouthed, it's always funny. Michael finally dried his tears and laughed, "Matt, when you need to get foul-mouthed, you need to call on an expert--Luke or I will do. You just can't be foul-mouthed worth dog shit." Matt and Michael hugged each other again and Matt climbed back into the driver's seat.
As soon as we arrived at David's, we took Eugene's things into the guest room and loaded mine and took them back to my home. Since it was time for us to get ready to go to Millie's, Greywolf, David and Dad said they would get Janice settled at Margaret's. We forgot what the social worker said about getting a restraining order against the Joyces.
Michael, Matt and I all needed a shower, so Matt and I decided to go to his place and shower. As we left, Yong Jin called after us, "Show some ass, guys!" Both Matt and I blushed and Michael and Mary Kathryn just cracked up. Paula looked puzzled as we headed to the Jeep.
With all that had gone on, there was little time before we were due at Millie's, so Matt and I just lovingly washed each other's body with time out for a nip here and there--we couldn't be expected to do less could we?
A Special Place--Part Twenty--Matt
When Luke and I had finished with our shower and got dressed, we checked each other out and Luke said, "Great ass there, Lover."
I laughed, patted his butt and said, "No better than this one."
We went to David's to pick up Paula and Eugene. Paula looked stunning in a simple spring dress which accented her dark hair and skin. Eugene smiled as he turned around and said, "How's that for showing some ass?"
"I think it's hot stuff, myself," Larry said. "Unfortunately, there's not much I can do to help you with Millie," as he laughed and turned his rather flat behind to us. "I guess she'll just have to be charmed by my winning personality."
"Well, Gang, I guess we need to be on our way. Eugene, how are you doing?"
"I've been better, but I'm ok. Dr. Bailey gave me some pain medicine if I need it, but I don't want to take it until I have to." On the way to Millie's, Eugene asked that we not tell Millie about what had happened. "I'm too embarrassed. I mean I'd pretty much have to tell her what happened and why. I'm not ashamed of being gay and loving Larry, but it's not something you just announce. Besides, I have been disowned and that's not something I'm proud of."
"Eugene, I assure you none of that would make Millie dislike you, but if you don't want us to mention it, we won't."
When we reached Millie's, Larry said, "Damn, I never knew this place existed! This is some house. Millie Willingham I have heard of, but I didn't think anybody had enough money for a place like this!"
Luke laughed, "Millie Willingham could buy all of Concord if she wanted to. She's got so much money she doesn't know what to do with it. Actually, that's not true, she knows exactly what to do with it."
"Yea, like I'm to come by tomorrow and pick up a thousand dollars for Luke to buy stuff he needs for his exhibition. She and her husband gave the organ at St. Mary's and then she added the state trumpets."
"I remember you mentioning that the night of the service," Eugene said. "And she gave them in honor of her son and his lover, right?"
"Right. So being gay is not something she has trouble with."
When we went inside, Millie gave each of us a hug--and she is not a weak old lady. When you have been hugged by Millie, you know it. I guess that was the reason Eugene hung back, but there was no escaping Millie. When she grabbed Eugene, he tried to be brave, but finally cried out and started crying. "What's wrong, Eugene? you didn't get a sunburn today did you?"
Eugene actually had a way out if he wanted to lie and he knew we wouldn't say a word. Instead he looked at Millie and said, "Mrs. Willingham...."
"It's Millie, Eugene or it's Mr. Joyce."
"Eugene started laughing a bitter laugh, "I don't think so, Millie. I had my name taken away today. I guess I'm just Eugene Noname."
"Ok, the whole story. Does it have anything to do with Larry being your special friend as Luke is Matt's?"
Both Eugene and Larry blushed and stammered a bit.
"The woman's psychic, Eugene. She just out and asked us when I didn't think there was a hint."
"Well, then, it does, and it doesn't. I mean Dad calls Michael a girly faced faggot and thinks he has made me a faggot lover, but what's funny is that he's wrong about Michael, of course, and doesn't know about me and Larry. But how did you know?"
"There's not an awful lot which escapes Millie Willingham. When you cried out, I saw the look on Larry's face. It wasn't just the look of a good friend. So what's the story? Take off your shirt and let me see your back." When Eugene took off his shirt, all that could really be seen were bandages except where the skin was just badly bruised and not broken. "What Son of a Bitch did that to you? The bastard ought to be horsewhipped!" Millie was pissed and when Millie was pissed, angels ran for cover.
Nothing would do except for the whole story to be told. When we had all told what we knew, Millie had steam coming out of her ears. "Eugene, tomorrow we'll go to my lawyer--actually I pay several and they do very little for what they get paid. I hate wasting money on lawyers, but sometimes you need them. Anyway, tomorrow we'll go to see one of my lawyers and get a restraining order. But right now, let's eat. I know you all are starved. Teenagers are always starved.
Millie said grace when we got to a beautifully set table. She thanked God for all of us, for the pleasure we had given an old woman and asked God to comfort Eugene.
I had been to Millie's house for meals many times and I knew Luke had as well. She always had a beautifully set table. I guess if you have servants it's easy, but I never remember anything quite as beautifully done as tonight's table. "Ok, Millie," I said, "Luke and I have been here a lot of times in our 'most eighteen years. I have been here when the bishop was here. I was here for dinner when I was confirmed. I have been here on all sorts of occasions and you've outdone yourself for a bunch ot teens. What gives?"
"Well, for one thing, this is the first time you have been here when I did the table. I'll admit I didn't prepare the food--I was afraid one of you would be poisoned--but I did the table because this is a very special occasion. Paula, Eugene, Larry, you all know, I'm sure, that I have only one son. I love him to death and the only thing I regret about his being gay--you also knew that didn't you?--is that I don't have grandchildren. I long ago adopted Matt as a grandson, then after that service, there was a bit of a problem with Jens Larsen which made me realize I needed to adopt the other three of the kids out there on the farms. Today I got to thinking how it would be if I had a bunch of grandchildren and decided I'd have dinner at grandma's tonight and got a bit carried away. I loved every minute of it--What do you mean, Eugene, that you have no name? Guess I missed something." This was typical Millie. She not only changed horses in midstream, but was also well known for changing streams as well.
"Dad told the people who went to get my things that he didn't want his name dragged through the mud so he disowned me and told them he was taking his name back."
I could see wheels turning in Millie's head, but she simply said, "Well, we don't need last names here. So let's talk about something more pleasant. Larry, I don't know you at all and not much about you, Eugene and Paula, except you're damn good musicians. So tell me about yourselves." One at a time the three told Millie about their family--of course she knew all she wanted to know about Eugene's--what they wanted to do in the future, and a lot of other stuff. We all talked about school and how essentially it was over for seniors except for the AP exams and the concert and exhibition. "Larry, you seem pretty much let out of all the excitement. But you're interested in the technical side of audio and video, are you?"
"Yes, Ma'am, I am. We're trying to get Michael to run for student body president and, if he will, I plan to do a lot helping him win."
"Would you like to work on taping the concert and Luke's exhibition?"
"Man, would I ever!"
"I'll be in touch soon. I have some half-baked thoughts about that, but haven't done anything yet. And maybe you need to be included in tonight's discussion. Let's go to the library." When we were settled, Millie dropped a real bombshell. "I have some good friends at Oberlin College in Ohio--they ought to be good friends, my husband and I have poured enough money in there to buy a lot of friends," she laughed. "The deadline for applications is long past, but I'm working on something. Make no promises, but you four will need to complete applications. I want you to make sure Yong Jin goes over your application essays with a fine-tooth comb and I don't want you writing horse sh... manure. I want the very best you can do. Larry, I'm not sure whether Oberlin can offer what you want, but get Ms. Norman to copy an application and complete it. It won't hurt." Then it was horse changing time again.
"Do you have a special someone, Paula?" Millie asked.
Paula said "Yes, Ma'am."
"Tell me all about it--him."
Paula told Millie about Sheldon and how he had to move away. "His family's really struggling so he plans to go to the community college in his town next year. He wants to be an English teacher so the first year really doesn't matter."
"What do you fellows think of this Sheldon character? Sure glad you don't call him Shelley, Paula."
Eugene said he didn't know Sheldon beyond knowing who he was when he saw him, but Luke and I both assured Millie that Sheldon was a great guy. Then it was back to business for Millie.
"I'll get the Oberlin application forms and Larry, you'll just have to get Ms. Norman to make a copy for you. Get to work on them pronto. Matt, you're coming by tomorrow for Luke's money. Larry, I'll call you tomorrow night. Give me your number. Eugene, I'll pick you up at David's around 8:30. We have a lot of running around to do. Well, that takes care of business, I guess."
After Larry had given Millie his number, she hugged us all--being careful with Eugene's back. As she hugged him gently she muttered, "That Son of a Bitch!" then said, "Goodnight all" as we started out the door.
We drove Paula home then dropped Larry off at his place. He and Eugene were into kissing as Luke and I HAD been. Finally Luke said, "Ok, you two, break it up. We can't stay here all night." After one last long, passionate--I was ready to hit them I was so jealous!--kiss, Larry and Eugene said goodnight and we were on our way.
When we took Eugene to David's, I noticed Margaret's car was still there. I wondered if she was spending the night then remembered that she would probably take Janice to her place for the night. After dropping Eugene off, Luke and I drove to my place. When I stopped, he said, "Matt, I would love to spend the night in your bed in your arms; you know that, don't you?" I nodded. "And I know you'd like me there but, after today, I think I need to be at home with my family tonight. They may not think so, but I do. As bad as it was with Jens, I realized today it could have been much worse. I am really glad to learn that, even though I sure wish Eugene didn't have to pay the cost of my lesson."
"I had similar thoughts, Yonghon Tongmu. I want to spend every moment of my life in your arms, but there other things which are just as important; I know, even when I don't want to admit it." I backed out of the drive and drove to Luke's place. When we got there, we both walked to his front door. Even though the porch light was on, he took me in his arms and gave me a real kiss--even if a gentle one. His tongue found its way into my mouth and I tasted my Luke without blood for what seemed like ages. We held each other and stood looking into the eyes of the one we loved. "Yonghon Tongmu, why do you think love is so costly? Look at the price Eugene paid, simply because he loved enough to care about what had happened to Gregory. What would he have paid had his father known the whole truth?"
"I shudder to even think about it. And even his mom, who carried him for nine months, was just as bad-- maybe worse. She didn't defend him and even urged his dad on, letting him do her dirty work as well as his. And it was all out of hate for what? Eugene? Gregory? Us? Actually, it was just hate wearing the mask of religion. And it's almost funny. Michael, and you couldn't find anyone straighter, gets labeled as a girly faced boy faggot--definitely in old man Joyce's mind, he's gay. "Matt, Babe, I get scared when I realize just how much hate there is in this world against us and our love. It frightens me when I think about it and when I realize we could give ourselves away at any time.
"I know. So am I frightened at times. But that's the way it is and I would never give up loving you. And if we give ourselves away...."
"Then we'll just deal with the consequences without blaming ourselves or each other. Right?"
"Right," I said, and I pressed my lips to Luke's--taking care not to do them harm since they were nearly ready for the big time--snaked my tongue into his wonderful mouth and drank in the taste of my Luke. "God, Luke, I love you. I love you so much. I love you more and more and more."
"You know I love you, you know that, Sarang Hanun Pomul. I love you so much I want to cry with joy just thinking about it." Luke kissed me again, pressing his body to mine and I felt his hardness against mine. "Matt, Babe, I've got to go or we'll be here all night."
"I know that's right," I laughed, stole another kiss and said, "Goodnight, my light. Dream of me. I will of you."
"Goodnight my joyful darkness. I'll see you in my dreams."
When I got home, Mom and Dad were huddled on the love seat in the den. They wanted to know how things had gone at Millie's and then I just poured out all the feelings and emotions I had experienced during the day, trying to tell them how much they and their love meant to me. Not only did they make sure I understood that they knew that and appreciated my telling them, but also their own feeling for me and Luke and the other kids in the family. We talked for almost two hours and then I went upstairs to bed. And I did dream of my Luke.