ASP--The Concord Five--Chapter Eight--Danny
Chris and I had talked about the party in Ohio after Michael announced it at the picnic, and I told him I didn't think I could go. I had missed work at the hospice and while I was caught up at school, I'd still be missing classes Friday through Wednesday. I guess Millie heard me talking to Chris, because she called shortly after I returned from the picnic. She said she thought I should go. I told her my hospital supervisor had given me an easy assignment while I was sick after helping Chris and I couldn't let her down. She asked if it was ok for her to try to work something out, and I said I didn't mind and thanked her for her interest. Half a hour later, she called back and said everything was set for me to go if I could take care of school. I didn't ask how she did it, I just thanked her.
I called Chris then--it was a nightly habit for us by now anyway--and told him I was going and could leave Thursday if a group was leaving then. He got so excited he could hardly talk. I wasn't sure what was going on with him.
I completed my assignments for the next day and walked to the hospice. I had the night shift and it' was usually very quiet. In fact, I often got to sleep most of the night. If someone rang, I'd take care of it but if nothing was needed, it was ok for me to sleep on the sofa in the office as long as I made a round every hour or so. I had learned to drop off to sleep, bingo. At least I thought I had but, when I lay down that night, all sorts of things were racing through my mind. I thought about how close I had come to Chris and tried to sort out the feelings associated with that.
I knew a lot of my feelings toward him were related to us both having been abused. I guess there's a kind of ready-made understanding there. We didn't have to talk about it, we knew. But that didn't explain everything. Buddy's and my experiences were closer than Chris's and mine, but I felt closer to Chris than Buddy even though I had known him only a short time. There was something just outside my consciousness which haunted me. I felt that if it were conscious it would explain everything--maybe not everything, but a lot. But I just couldn't bring it in focus.
I wondered what would happen to Chris in therapy. Sometimes things got worse before they got better. I laughed to myself when I thought that. How could things have gotten worse than they were when I started therapy? They couldn't.
Finally I realized that there was something going on with me that I just didn't understand, and no amount of staying awake over it was going to change that--so I went to sleep.
I had been asleep about an hour when a bell rang. It was Mrs. Cromwell--a beautiful person in a body devastated by cancer. She had to be in great pain most of the time, pain that even her morphine drip couldn't completely alleviate, but she never complained. She always apologized when she had me come in the night, and never failed to thank anyone for the least little thing.
When I got to her room, she said, "Danny, I really hate to disturb you. I know you've been sick and work like a dog, and what I want isn't necessary, but would you sit with me for a while?"
"Sure, Mrs. Cromwell. Anytime."
"There are times, Danny, when you know you are really alone, but still want someone with you. Don't try to make sense out of that now, just talk to me. What's on your mind these days? I know you're in school--that going well?"
"It's going very well, Mrs. Cromwell. I had to miss some when I was sick, but I did my assignments right along and am caught up. Yes, school is going well."
"How's the hospital? Do you like working there?"
"I do. I was surprised that I would think about working in a hospital, but working here has made me really appreciate what medicine can and cannot do. I'm convinced the people working in a hospital have as much to do with how well the medicine works as the medicine."
"You are very right, Danny. And this place would be terrible without the loving people who are here. Don't know that I could work with dying people day in and day out."
"Wasn't sure I could, Mrs. Cromwell, until I came to realize that we are all dying and all are living. Some of you here are living life to a much greater depth than a lot of teenagers I know."
"You're a teenager, aren't you, Danny?" she said with a small chuckle.
I laughed and said, "Yes, ma'am, for another year."
"Danny, I was lying here thinking about you. Somehow or other, I thought I needed to talk but, now that you're here, I was wrong. I need to listen. Tell me about yourself, Danny."
"There's not a lot to tell that hasn't been in the newspapers."
"Danny, I know all about that shit and I expect to look down into hell one of these days and see that bastard McBride roasting there." I was shocked, not only at Mrs. Cromwell's language--she was such a lady--but also at the vehemence in her voice. She was just a wasted body, but she sounded as if she could tackle an army.
"Why, Mrs. Cromwell, such language from a lady!" I laughed.
"I may be a lady, Danny, but there are sons of bitches in this world that make even a lady cuss," she said, and then gave another little chuckle. "But I don't want to talk about that, tell me about yourself."
"Well, I could tell you that it took me a long time to go to sleep tonight. Usually I just drop off to sleep when I want to, and have time, but not tonight. There's something that I almost know, but just can't quite get a hold on it. You know that feeling?"
"Like there's something that puzzles you and you almost know the answer, but when you try to get it, it slips away? Is that the kind of thing you mean?"
"That's it, Mrs. Cromwell." Then, for some reason I still don't understand, I started talking about Chris. "I met Christopher Cicellis--do you know Demetri Cicellis who runs the Greek restaurant?" Mrs. Cromwell nodded. "Chris is his grandson. I met him in the hospital," I said, but didn't elaborate on that. Instead, I just started talking and told her all about Chris's background and how he came to be in Concord. Then when I told her about his hospital stay and healing, she asked a lot of questions.
When I finished, she was very quiet. Then she asked, "You still talk to him?".
"At least once a day. We spent yesterday afternoon in the country--at the falls on the Larsens' place. I think it is on the Larsens' place. You know, he puts on macho airs but is terrified of heights. Earlier, a friend got him to the top of the falls by leading him up while his eyes were closed. I guess he got over his fear because he went up with me every time yesterday."
"He's a changed boy? I mean really changed?"
"He sure is. He's fragile right now, I suspect, but he's got good stuff in him. He had to have, to live through what he's been through." I continued talking about Chris for what seemed like a long time. I finally stopped, thinking I shouldn't be tiring the lady.
When I fell silent, she looked at me, smiled and said, "Danny, what you almost know will soon be very clear. Don't worry about it. It will make you happy. Now get some sleep." I fluffed Mrs. Cromwell's pillow, gave her a drink from her cooler, patted her hand, and went back and lay down. When I made my next round checking on everyone, she was dead. As I stood, looking at her still body, I knew she had seen something that was escaping me, but I decided she had told me what to do: be patient. I covered her and went back and called Chelsea. She told me I would find instructions in Mrs. Cromwell's folder and to call back if I needed help.
I looked in the folder and found that she had no family, no-one to be notified. The instructions were to call the undertaker and he would have instructions for her cremation. The ashes were to be scattered in the hospice garden. I called and made arrangements and was told the ashes could be picked up any time after the following day.
When Chelsea came in the following morning, I told her I had handled everything and she said she would pick up the ashes and, since Mrs. Cromwell had no family, she would ask Fr. Tom when he could come for the committal. I went to school and then worked four hours at the hospital, getting home at 8:00. The first thing I did was call Chris. I told him about my talk with Mrs. Cromwell and he said, "She must have been some kind lady. She was dying, and maybe knew it, yet her concern was with you."
"Yea, I'll really miss her. I miss most of the people who come to the hospice when they die. I thought it would be depressing, but most of them are like Mrs. Cromwell. They make you think of your life and what you are doing with it. And I have been doing an awful lot of thinking lately, about what I told her, about something that keeps bugging me, but I don't know what it is."
"This is going to sound weird, Dan, but I have the same feeling. I feel like there is something great going on and I keep missing it. Guess we are just two weird dudes."
"Yea, I guess you're right."
ASP--The Concord Five--Chapter Eight--Keith
Every time I thought about the note someone had sent about Mr. Stevenson--I got one too--I grew livid! Mr. Stevenson was my favorite teacher. He always helped me with my art work--I wasn't very good, but I enjoyed his class and it sure beat the other classes I could have taken in its place. Dad was also very, very angry--not only because of what the note said about me, but also because it accused Mr. Stevenson.
My mom and dad had a rotten marriage for years, and the summer before my freshman year, it finally broke up completely. Mom moved back to Chicago to live with her parents until she could get a job and have her own place. They gave me a choice of where to live and there was no question but what I would stay in Concord.
In spite of what Dad and Mom said, I blamed myself for the break-up and at the same time wanted to get even with them for wrecking my life. My freshman year, I decided to do that by being a real trouble-maker at school. Dad didn't know what to do and most of my teachers gave up on me, but Mr. Stevenson didn't. He saw to it that I was in his class and really put the pressure on me to straighten out, while making sure I knew he thought I was worth something. If it hadn't been for him, I think I would have ended up in the juvenile court system.
Dad really appreciated what Mr. Stevenson had done for me, and when he was unjustly accused took it very personally. He said he would get a lawyer for me as soon as the persons responsible were identified. He was going to nail them big time. He kept asking who might have it in for me and Mr. Stevenson, and I couldn't think of anyone. It didn't make sense.
I was really surprised at lunch when, a couple weeks after the cross-burning at Mr. Stevenson's, Bill said that his friend Zack told him the fingerprint on the sign had been identified but the person's identity was being kept secret. He said the Chief of Police had told the officers he was keeping it secret from most of the department until there was proof positive of who was guilty. Zack did say the Chief had said not to take seriously the illiterate-seeming note or the claim to be God's Avenging Angel on the sign. Zack thinks it's someone well-placed and with a lot of clout in the community."
"But why all the nonsense then?" I asked.
"I guess to create a false trail," Bill replied. "I can't think of any other reason." Someone important out to get me and Mr. Stevenson? It still didn't make sense.
With the postponement of the teen club's opening, lunch conversation generally revolved around speculation about the note and cross-burning and talk about the party in Ohio. I was kinda surprised when I was invited to go. I liked being with these people, but they were involved in just about everything around the school and I wasn't. But they didn't seem to care. While they often worked on the same things, the group never questioned why one of its members wasn't involved in this or that. They appreciated my offer to help get the teen club going, and accepted me into the group. Easiest group I know to get into, you just have to be doing something constructive.
Monday, two weeks after the Sunday picnic, Bill came to lunch all excited with more news. "This is all unofficial, of course, but Linda and I saw Zack last night when we went out for a malted. He was getting ready to go on duty. He had overheard a conversation in the station. Two detectives were laughing and talking so loud he couldn't help but overhear them. One of them said, 'I hate to say this, but it does me good to see some high-and-mighty bastard get caught with his pants down. Can you imagine someone who has HIS education being fool enough to leave a fingerprint on a sign he put with a burning cross?' The other one was also laughing and said, 'I'm going to get a kick out of telling my ex that her ob-gyn is out burning crosses'. Zack said they never mentioned the name, but that kinda narrows the field doesn't it?"
I felt myself go white as Bill finished. I jumped up, quickly excused myself and ran out of the cafeteria.
ASP--The Concord Five--Chapter Eight--Michael
I was startled when Keith turned snow-white, excused himself and dashed out of the cafeteria after Bill told us what he had learned from Zack. He even left his tray on the table and his book bag on the floor. "Take care of Keith's things," I said. "Something's bad wrong here. Bill, why don't you come with me?" We ran out of the cafeteria just in time to see Keith going into the restroom almost at the end of the hall. Both Bill and I went flying down the hall and into the restroom. Keith was leaning over a toilet, throwing up his guts. I walked up behind him and put my arm on his shoulder. I thought he was going to pass out. Bill must have thought so as well, because he grabbed a handful of paper towels, wet them in cold water and handed them to me. I started bathing Keith's forehead as he started having the dry heaves, having thrown up everything in his stomach.
After a few minutes, he stopped heaving, took the wet towels and wiped his face. Bill had gone outside and came back with water from the cooler which he handed to Keith. Keith thanked him, swished out his mouth and then drank some of the water. "Keith, the bell is about to ring. Would you like to go to the first aid room and lie down?" Bill asked.
Keith shook his head. "Is there some place we can go and talk? I think I need to talk."
"Sure," I replied. "Peer counselors use the conference room in the counseling center. If it's in use, Ms. Norman lets us use her office." Keith was pretty unsteady on his feet, so Bill and I got on either side of him and we walked to the counselors' center. The conference room was in use and when we walked around the corner to Ms. Norman's office, she was on the phone. She took one look at us and spoke into the phone, "I have an emergency here. I'll put you on hold for a few minutes and be right back." She just nodded to us, got up and left the room, closing the door behind her.
"Michael, Bill, thanks. Thanks very much. I need to talk to you and I hope we will still be friends when I finish, but it's not a very nice story." Neither Bill or I spoke.
"You know that I knew about the teen club in Lexington and that I insisted on ours being as open to everyone as it is. I knew about it because I went there pretty often last year. Of course you two know Rocky Rockford, Dr. Rockford's son?" We nodded. "Well," Keith paused and looked at us, "Guys, this is hard."
Bill and I were silent as Keith glanced at us with a pleading look. As he did, Bill said softly, "Keith, we're here for you regardless."
"Bill, Michael, I'm gay." I guess he might have been surprised when his statement got no reaction from us. After another pause he said, "I have known I was since I was twelve or thirteen. I never had a boyfriend and thought I probably never would. I was lonely and stayed to myself. I think I was kinda hating myself... No, I was hating the fact that I was gay and doomed to a lonely life. One fall afternoon, I took my bike to the lake and was just sitting there feeling sorry for myself when Rocky drove up and yelled at me, asking if I'd like to go for a ride. I decided, 'why not?' and we drove out into the country. I really enjoyed the drive and being with Rocky."
"He called that night and we talked for a long time about nothing really, but it was important to me. Someone knew I existed. He asked if I had been to the teen club in Lexington and I told him I knew nothing about it. 'How'd you like to go?' he asked and I said I would. We went and had a great time. That, by the way, was when I decided to be a DJ, and shortly afterward there was a spot for a Saturday morning teen show on the radio and I got the job. Anyway, the first night we were there, I saw some girls dancing together, but thought nothing of it."
"The next week, Rocky called me every night. At the time I thought we were just talking but later, looking back, I saw our talk wasn't as innocent as I had thought at the time. Anyway, the second weekend when we went to the club, two guys were dancing and, right in the middle of the floor, one kissed the other. I was thunderstruck. I said to Rocky, 'Did you see that?' He replied, 'Sure, want to try it?' and gave me a smile which would have melted the ice cap. I told him I'd like to try dancing with him, but would pass on a kiss in public. We danced until time to go. No kiss, but he sure held me close, and I was hard as a rock and so was he. I could feel him against me."
"When we were driving home, he reached over and pulled me across the seat, close to himself, and put his hand on my thigh. Gradually, he moved his hand up my thigh and finally started rubbing my cock. When we were several miles from town, he turned down a country lane and parked. As soon as the car was stopped, he pulled me to himself and said, 'We're not in public now,' and kissed me. I liked it. I liked it very much. Well I guess, gay or straight, you know about kissing and making out. Before I realized what he was doing, he had my zipper down and my cock in his hand. 'Babe, you could do me while I do you,' he said and I did."
"Things really got rolling after that. Every night there were phone calls which eventually became phone sex. At school, we found hiding places for quick kisses. We were having sex as often as we could, certainly every weekend when we went out. He beat me off, but I was always the one to get fucked and I did almost all the sucking. I know he was dominating me now, but at the time I was so crazy in love I would have done almost anything to please him."
"I was not only crazy in love, but also a damn fool. He wanted me to do things I didn't want to do. He insisted I swallow his cum when I sucked him off and I told him I didn't like it, but he said it was his gift to me. Every time I failed to swallow as fast as he shot, he told me I didn't appreciate him and that he didn't see why he loved someone who didn't like to give him pleasure. One thing I just absolutely refused to do was rim him. Every time he tried to force me, I got sick. I was such a fool. I had been so lonely and now someone wanted to be with me. I was so afraid he'd leave me, and he threatened to often."
"After Christmas, he started drinking. Well, he always had, but he was never drunk with me until then. When he got drunk he got abusive. A couple of times he burned me with a cigarette and once he tried to fuck me without lube and when I started screaming, he beat me. I was black and blue all over. Don't ask me why I put up with it because I don't know. Anyway, when Matt and Luke announced to the whole school that they were gay, I told Rocky we should join them. He laughed and said, 'They say they're in love. I'm not in love, you're just a good fuck. You are just my fucking bitch.' I told you I was a crazy fool."
"I took that and kept going back for more. Then all hell broke loose. We had gotten braver about having sex, but we never had in his place or mine. Spring break, his parents were going away and he wanted me to spend it with him at his place. Fool-like, I did. He stayed drunk most of the time and one night I suggested we go out since we had not left the house except to pick up some food or something. He said he didn't want to, but I started begging him. I really wanted to get out of the house. Finally he got really, really mad. He started cussing me and hit me a couple times. I told him I had had enough and was going. When I started to leave, he grabbed my arm. Before I knew what was going on, he knocked me down and I ended up tied spreadeagle on the bed. He passed out and I couldn't do anything about it. When he finally came around he climbed on the bed and started cramming his cock down my throat. I kept moving my head from side to side until he slapped me, then pissed in my face. I was crying and pleading with him. He laughed and started drinking glasses full of vodka. He finally passed out again. An hour or so later, I heard someone downstairs and started yelling. It was his parents."
"Dr. Rockford untied me and took me downstairs while Mrs. Rockford tried to get Rocky to his feet. Downstairs Dr. Rockford told me that if I said anything about what had happened, he would see that I regretted it. 'I'll see your queer ass in jail. Do I make myself clear? And don't think I can't do it!' I was so glad to get out and so frightened--I knew Dr. Rockford was a very powerful figure in Concord--I didn't say anything about it. I climbed back into my shell and every time I saw Luke and Matt I got sick. Their love for each other was so obvious, and all I had were memories of being abused, never really loved."
"Rocky called two or three weeks later and said he was sorry and tried to get me to go out with him. He started telling me how much he loved me. 'I miss you, Keith. I want you to fuck me,' he had said. I hung up a couple times and he called right back. He said he was going to keep calling until I went out with him or he'd tell my dad. I finally just let him talk so he'd stop calling. I knew I couldn't leave the phone off the hook or Dad would want to know what was up. I still refused to go out with him and he started screaming, threatening to tell about his fucking me. Fortunately, Dr. Rockford overheard him and knew he had to shut him up. If he exposed me, he would have to expose himself--and the town would know--something Dr. Rockford could not have. To shut him up and keep him from letting the town know what an asshole his son was, he bought him off with that fancy car he's driving."
"Rocky also tried to make up with me again, some weeks later, saying he had been drunk and didn't know what he was doing. 'You haven't always been drunk when you abused me,' I told him, but he kept threatening me. I finally told him to leave me alone or I'd tell the world he was a sick sex-pervert. I guess he knew I meant it because I suddenly became invisible."
"I thought I had just about put all that behind me when I got a call asking me to DJ at the club in Lexington. About the middle of the evening, Rocky came in with a freshman kid from Independence. He was all over the kid on the dance floor and, when they sat down, I could see Rocky fondling him. It made me sick. Monday when I saw the kid at school, I took him outside and told him my experience with Rocky. He didn't want to believe me, so there was nothing I could do. Then a couple weeks ago, he came to school with a black eye. He tried to hide it from me when we passed in the hall, but I stopped him and asked, 'Rocky?'. He nodded and said, 'You warned me, but I didn't want to believe it'."
"Later in the day, Rocky pinned me to the wall near the art room and said, 'I thought my dad warned you. You told Max about us, you bastard. Now you are in for it.' I never connected the letter and cross-burning to Rocky and his old man, but now..."
"Keith, you did the right thing. I'm sorry that you had that experience and suffered the way you did," I said.
"What makes it really hurt is I was such a fool to allow it to go on. Now this. Plus you know I'm queer."
"Don't like that word," Bill said. "You're gay and that makes no difference to me or the Fellowship."
"Keith, I think we need to go talk with Mr. Stevenson. I can't see how he's connected with this."
The three of us went to Mr. Stevenson's room and he took us into his office, which he called his fish bowl because it was glass on two sides. Keith told his story again in just about as much detail as he had told us. "But I don't see how you're involved," he said when he finished.
"I do. Now things are beginning to make sense," Mr. Stevenson said. "Rocky is in one of my classes and the first of school, I gave an assignment and when he turned it in, I suspected he hadn't done the work, but had no proof. I challenged him and his dad came in and read me the riot act because I had dared suggest his son had cheated. Then, a week or so later, I gave my first major test. I noticed Rocky was acting strangely, so I walked over to where he was seated--without him noticing. He had a cheat sheet. I took it, his test and Rocky to Ms. Jones. She asked what I usually did when I caught someone cheating and I told her I gave a zero. 'Exactly right, Mr. Stevenson. Rocky, you have a zero on this test.' It wasn't a week later, when he had a drawing assignment due, that I saw him take a student's drawing--forcibly, I might add--and give the student his. I gave him a zero for that as well and reminded him that he probably had already lost enough points to fail unless he did exceptionally well for the rest of the semester. His dad came cussing and screaming--during a class--and demanded I give Rocky credit or allow him to make up the two grades. I refused."
"He went to Ms. Jones and she backed me. When he stormed out of her office, he was shouting that he was on the school board, had influence in Concord, and would see we all were fired. He knows I am gay, who in the town doesn't these days? He knew about you and Rocky, so he must have decided to get us both run out of town by accusing me of sexually molesting you. No question in my mind it would have worked had Gray still been here, but I'm pretty sure it won't work now. Keith, I'm sorry someone you loved abused you and your love. No-one who loves a person wants anything except the best for them. Don't let your experience keep you from loving and being loved. Nothing in the world is better. Now you three need to go to the office for passes and get back to class. I will speak to Ms. Jones and see if we can't get this settled."
ASP--The Concord Five--Chapter Eight--John
I was practically in tears as Keith told me about his relationship with Rocky. Keith is such a nice and talented young man, and could be scarred for life by that sadistic jerk.
I went to Ms. Jones' office as soon as I was free and told her what the guys and I had figured out. As soon as I said "Rocky" I could see the wheels turning in her head. When I finished, she called Millie and told her what we thought was going on.
"Millie says she will get the lawyer she has working for you to check things out. I'm sure you are on target--remembering what Dr. Rockford said the day I told him Rocky could not make up his zeros."
When I got home, I told Michael what had gone on at school and he exploded. He was ready to do major harm to Rocky and Dr. Rockford. He had just about calmed down when the police chief arrived with Mr. Chester, the lawyer Millie had working for me.
"Evening, Mr. Stevenson, Mr. Sanders," Mr. Chester, said as he came in. "Mr. Stevenson, I understand that you pieced some things together at school today."
"I sure did and while I have no absolute, stand-up-in-court proof, I'd bet a year's salary on it."
"You just might have an extra year's salary to bet. We do have absolute proof," the Chief said. "It took a while to get a fingerprint from Dr. Rockford. He wouldn't give us one and I can't say how we got it, but we did. We are ready to charge him on several counts. When we hauled him and junior in, both denied everything of course, but junior was careless as well as the good doctor. His fingerprints were lifted from the letter. Didn't use to be possible, but we have new methods. When we confronted them with the evidence, both started accusing the other. Junior said his dad made him do it and dad said junior painted the sign on a piece of metal he had left over from a project he was doing. We have both dead to rights."
"The question is whether or not you two want to charge them," Mr. Chester said. "Personally, I'd just as soon have them locked away, especially that rotten son, but their lawyer came over to try to cop a plea--seems things seldom get to court these days, but I guess it saves time and the state's money. Anyway, they had a proposal. I told their lawyer I'd speak to all involved. As for junior, he will be put on probation until he is twenty-one."
"I told both the good doctor and junior I thought junior was, if you will pardon the expression, a piece of worthless shit. I know he has abused several young men in town and it makes me sick," the Chief said.
"Anyway, they have agreed junior is to be placed on probation and leave town immediately. He is to go to a residential treatment center for not less than a year. Afterward, he is to go to private school--that's their choice," Mr. Chester said. "He can be in Concord holidays and two weeks in the summer if his dad is here--which is not likely."
The Chief laughed and said, "Both suggested only a week. Additionally, he is to surrender his driving license until he is twenty-one. He's a rotten apple all right, but a lot of the blame for that has to rest on the good doctor who has bailed him out of trouble ever since he was ten and caught shoplifting."
"As to the doctor, I checked with the medical establishment and all feel the town can manage without him. They also feel he's not a bad doctor, they just don't want him around after they heard what he had done. Through someone with influence, he has been offered a job at the state mental hospital where he will work for minimum state salary for five years. Additionally, he is to pay for all the damage done to your place, write a personal apology to Mr. Stevenson clearly stating that the letter was a tissue of lies; that letter to go in your file, Mr. Stevenson. Since he sought to get you fired, I suggested he owed you a year's salary, and he has agreed to that," Mr. Chester continued.
"That's all well and good, Mr. Chester," I said, "but what about Keith Lewis? Both father and son have done the boy damage which is possibly permanent."
"I know his dad was planning to sue for slander but, from your tone of voice, there must be more," Mr. Chester said.
"Chief, Mr. Chester, I'm not sure whether I should tell you this or not since it came through the school's peer counseling program and confidentiality is very important to that."
"I understand and wouldn't ask you to break confidentiality," the Chief said.
"Any possibility you could get permission from Mr. Lewis to discuss whatever it is with me?" Mr. Chester asked.
"I'll try. I'll call him. I'd really rather he tell you if he will."
"Give him a call and, if he's willing to talk, I'll send a car for him," the Chief said.
I called Keith and told him, briefly, what was going on and asked if he'd come and talk with the police chief and a lawyer. He was reluctant, but agreed to come. I asked about his dad coming with him and he said he didn't want that. "Dad doesn't know about me," he whispered into the phone.
When Keith arrived, he was very reluctant to talk. Mr. Chester finally said, "Mr. Lewis..."
"Keith, I am not officially your lawyer which makes this somewhat difficult. I understand your dad hired a lawyer in regard to all this."
"He was going to, he said he was, but decided to wait and see what developed. Until he knew who was involved, he said, there was no reason to hire a lawyer."
"How old are you, Keith?"
"Seventeen, almost eighteen."
"Seventeen is good enough, don't you think, Chief?"
"He's no longer a minor so far as criminal law is concerned. Not up on civil law."
"Keith, if you like you can appoint me your attorney and our conversation will be privileged."
"The cost?" Keith asked.
"There is a very practical side to the young man," I thought.
"I work for Millie Willingham. There will be no cost so far as I am concerned and I know she is so upset by this, she would say 'Go for it!' in a minute."
"Sounds good. Ok, Mr. Chester, you are my attorney."
"Good. Over to you, Chief."
"We have Dr. Rockford and Rocky dead to rights and they want to cop a plea. Mr. Stevenson said there was more to the story than just them slandering you. If there is, you can go ahead and charge them, sue them or we can work out something which will prevent you having to go to court. Son, it's up to you. I'd like to get junior put under the jail as it is and, if they have done damage to you, they should pay."
Keith sat staring at the floor saying nothing for a few minutes and then he said, "Chief, Mr. Chester, I'm gay." I knew he was testing the two, especially the Chief as he watched the policeman carefully to see how he would react. He didn't react at all. He didn't even answer. Keith looked up at the Chief and I guess saw that he wasn't knocked off his feet or anything, and he started pouring out his story for the third time in a day.
As he talked, Mr. Chester remained relatively calm but I could see he was growing angry. There was nothing subtle about the Chief's reaction. His face got redder and redder and the blood vessels in his neck were standing out. I expected him to explode any minute. When Keith finished, the Chief actually reached over and hugged the kid! "Son, I don't know about being gay. Not my bent, but I do know about abusers. Don't you ever let anyone abuse you again." He then looked at Michael and me and said, "I told you that junior was a worthless piece of shit and his old man helped him get that way."
"Keith, we can make sure junior isn't around to bother you." Mr. Chester then told Keith what had been agreed upon so far.
"I'll make sure wherever junior ends up in a treatment center, the staff knows about this and I will make sure that any school he attends does as well," the Chief said.
"What seems right to you in addition to that?" Mr. Chester asked Keith.
"I don't know."
Michael said, "Mr. Chester, the boy needs help getting over this experience and he needs an education. Dr. Rockford is a very wealthy man. Seems counseling until Keith decides it's no longer necessary, and a four-year college scholarship would be the least he could expect."
"Sounds reasonable to me," Mr. Chester said. "Reasonable to you, Keith?"
Keith nodded then said softly, "Thank you".
"Don't thank me, I am just trying to do my job. I'll take this back to their lawyer and, if it's agreed to, then we'll just notify the court as to what we have worked out and the judge can handle the details," Mr. Chester said.
"If they don't agree to these terms, I want all of you to throw the book at them in civil court while we do the same in criminal court. And to think that sucker was on the school board supposedly helping educate young minds," the Chief said, shaking his head.
"You'll all hear from me tomorrow," Mr. Chester said. "I'll call their lawyer tonight and give him until noon tomorrow to accept or reject our offer. Of course, part of it is in their plea bargain. They can't welsh on that."
"Thanks, Keith," the Chief said. "You are a brave young man and I hope one day you'll find real love." Mr. Chester and the Chief shook hands all around and the Chief asked Keith if he could drop him off.
I told him I would see he got home and they left.
As soon as the Chief was gone, Keith had a thousand questions for me and Michael about being gay and being in love, and how you know its love and ... and ... and...
On the way home he asked, "Do you think I should tell my dad?".
"Keith that is something you have to decide. I suspect he already knows, but maybe not. He needs to know sometime, but when is up to you. Also, you need to have some idea how he will react."
"Yea," was all he said.
ASP--The Concord Five--Chapter Eight--Michael
Mr. Stevenson called to thank me for helping Keith and told me about Mr. Chester's and the police chief's visit. He also told me about the proposal to keep the doctor and Rocky from going to jail. "I guess that's ok," I said, "but I think jail might have showed Rocky how Keith felt".
"You're probably right, but this way Keith gets help overcoming the abuse Rocky heaped on him, and college as well."
We talked a bit longer and, before I hung up, I said, "I think I'll give Keith a call".
I called Keith and told him I had talked to Mr. Stevenson, and asked him how he felt about the outcome.
"Actually, Michael, I feel pretty good. On the way home from Mr. Stevenson's I decided to talk to my dad and tell him everything. Mr. Stevenson said he wouldn't be surprised if my dad thought I was gay and he did. He said he wished it was different because of all I would have to put up with but, other than that, I am his son and nothing had changed about that. I decided to tell him the whole story..."
I laughed and said, "Next time make a recording so you don't have to repeat it every few hours."
"There won't be a next time, I can tell you that, but it would have been good to just push a button today," Keith laughed. "Anyway, when I told Dad, he was ready to go kill Rocky right away. I told him part of it was my fault for putting up with it, and if we went to court it would all be public knowledge and I didn't think I could stand that. He was still angry, but agreed that settling it without it becoming the gossip topic in Concord was a good idea. So I feel better about everything, including myself, than I have in a long time. And I am going to take advantage--full advantage--of the counseling they have to pay for." He then thanked me again for my help and, just as we said goodbye, I got a call-waiting alert.
When I pushed the button and said hello, Mary Kathryn said, "Michael, I've got to talk to you".
"No, not on the phone. I need to talk to you in person. Meet me at the old oak in half an hour."
"Sure, if it's important, Mary Kathryn."
"It's very important Michael, very," she said, and hung up.
I couldn't imagine what was so important it couldn't wait. I kept trying to imagine what it was as I waited until time to sneak out of the house and head for the old oak. I remembered one night when Mary Kathryn and I had stopped there. I smiled because I thought I was in heaven when she got me off then, but it was absolutely nothing to what we had at the falls a week or so ago.
It was finally time to go and I left the house quietly. As I drew near the oak, I saw Mary Kathryn standing in the shadows. I immediately started running and, when I reached her, took her into my arms and kissed her. As I did, I felt tears on her face. "What's the matter, Mary Kathryn, what's wrong?"
She looked into my eyes and said, "Michael, the moon didn't change this week and it should have".