"Just hold it, Hank. Just hold it one cotton-pickin' fuckin' minute," I shouted at the top of my lungs. Hank was so shocked he just stood in the middle of the floor, staring, his mouth hanging open. I pointed my shaking finger at him and continued in a tightly controlled voice, "Sit down, just sit your ass down! Now! Hank, put it on the floor!"
Both Hank and Jason were caught off-guard by my outburst, since it was so out of character.
The three musketeers may be be one for all and all for one, but the Alpha male--maybe the first among equals--is generally Jason. He is older, more experienced, has seen a lot more of the raw side of life than either Hank or I. Occasionally Hank rises to the Alpha male position--not often, but he does. I can't really think of a time when I had the dominant role. Whoa, there was the time Jason got very upset when he found out I had not been taking piano lessons in Clarksville two days a week, but that's it. A part of that is my age, I suspect, since I am the baby of the three, but a major part is just the difference in our personalities. I think that explains what happened next.
I guess Hank was so thunderstruck by my shouting and tone of voice that he quickly dropped to the floor and sat staring at me. I reached out and zipped Jason's coveralls and, still in charge, said, "I guess when and how we tell Hank about us has just been decided, Jason. You sit down too." Jason sat, facing Hank.
"Hank, all I'm asking, all we're asking, is that you hear us out before you decide anything. Or, maybe, make a decision you'll come to regret. If you can't do it for the present, do it for old times' sake. Will you do that?" I asked as I joined Hank and Jason in the middle of the kitchen floor. Hank was still so stunned he just nodded. Jason was literally sitting with his mouth gaping open.
"Hank, I have known I was different as long as I can remember. As I entered puberty, that difference became very well defined, very clear to me. Do you remember when you started being attracted to girls? I mean in a sexual way? Remember when you hit puberty you started thinking about what you'd like to do with a girl?"
"Well, I was the same way except I liked boys, not girls. Well, that's not true. I like girls. I like Janie the way Jason likes Sandra, but the way I like her is more the way you like us than the way you like Beth. At least the way you did like us--as friends, good friends."
"You asked why Jason and I didn't make out with the girls. I guess it would make sense if you thought about it as why you don't make out with one of us. Guys don't turn you on. They do me. I just don't get turned on by girls."
"Same with me, Hank," Jason said. "I have known I was into men, not women, since before I was in my teens. I thought I was mistaken when my old lady's boyfriend tried to fuck me. Then I was every bit as angry as you would be in the same situation. But I realized I was angry not because he was a man, but because he was trying to rape me, to take something very precious from me."
"I knew I was into men and I was ashamed of it, I guess," Jason continued. "I know I was afraid because of it. Maybe I shouldn't but, regardless of what else may go on, I do trust you, Hank. What I have to tell you cannot go outside this room, at least for now. I think you can understand the fear if you think about Jonathan."
"Jonathan's queer? A cocksucker? That's why he was almost beaten to death?"
"Yeah, and you reacted to seeing us the same way his father reacted when he found out Jonathan might be gay--is gay. Let's take it one step at a time," Jason responded. "Jonathan did something very foolish, especially since his family is part of the Circle of God's Chosen."
Jason then told Hank about the note and reminded him of what happened because of it. "You can understand our fear if you think about Jonathan. All he did was write a mush note to another guy, a note he had no intention of delivering, yet he was beaten and left to die--by his own father. Can you imagine hating your own son so much, because he is attracted to another boy, that you rather he be dead. Can you imagine that? Surely, since you saw what happened to Jonathan, you can understand our fear."
"That's one reason you got the surprise you did when you walked in. We were and are frightened about being beaten, harmed, by someone--even someone who might be close to us. But that wasn't the reason we didn't tell you, Hank. We did not fear your harming us, ever."
"Both Doug and I were afraid to tell you because you are too important to us, your friendship means far too much to us. It wasn't because we were ashamed of our love. It wasn't because we think love--any love, our love--is wicked or evil. No, we were afraid to tell you because we feared your reaction would be exactly what it was," Jason said.
"Hank, the first time I saw Jason across the park, I felt drawn to him, I felt. I don't know how to talk about it. I can't even explain it to myself, I just know what it felt like, what it seemed like. I guess it was like I saw in him something I was missing, something which would make me whole. I know that sounds screwy, crazy, but it's the best I can do. It wasn't lust, rather I wanted him in my life. But that would have been it, my wanting something and knowing it wasn't to be. I didn't even know who he was."
"Then, that first day of school, I met him in the flesh and before I knew it, I was in love with him--deeply in love with him. But my being in love with Jason posed problems, serious problems, problems your being in love with Beth will never bring. Don't get me wrong, I think our being in love with each other is exactly like you being in love with Beth. The problems come in how we can express our love, how we can respond to loving and being loved."
"I know this is getting all crazy and I am making a big assumption, assuming you are in love with Beth. Let's just say you are as much in love with her as I am with Jason, ok? You can be very open with your expressions of love. You can tell her you love her any place, anytime you want to. It doesn't matter who is around, who hears you--well maybe her dad would be a bit upset--but you know what I mean."
"Look, you can even wrestle with her on the cafeteria floor, then kiss her in front of the whole school. Oh, you do have to put up with Mrs. Tightass Fox, but you can do it. You did it, kissed her in front of God and everybody I mean. No-one even thinks about beating the shit out of you because you love her. In love or not, you two can make out in the movies, in the back seat of the car, just about anywhere."
"But I can't tell Jason how I feel about him at school or anywhere I might be overheard. I am not really free to tell or show him how much I love him just anywhere. There's entirely too much at stake."
"Think about it. If you are attracted to a girl, you can tell her so. She may tell you to get lost but, if she's a good friend, she'll not tell you to go to hell and get the fuck out of her life. It would be highly unlikely she'd beat the shit out of you even if she could. If I told Jason how I felt about him, I not only ran the risk of losing him as a friend, but you also."
"Even as tight as I thought our friendship was, I was afraid of Jason's reaction if I told him I was gay. And you? You are obviously into girls. And remember your reaction when Jason joked about my ass at the river? Think about how much greater the risk of losing your friendship would have been if I told you I was in love with... not Jason but you. That's exactly the risk I had to face with Jason and letting him know how I felt. And he faced the same risk if he told me of his feelings. If you don't think there's a risk involved, think about your reaction when you walked in minutes ago."
"Yeah, and think about Jonathan again," Jason started. "I wasn't aware of Doug's feeling in the park the day he saw me, but I sure was aware of my reaction to him. As I said, I have known I was gay since forever, but kept telling myself I was straight. I didn't want to be like that asshole boyfriend of my old lady's, but I finally had to come to grips with who and what I am."
"After I saw Doug in the park, I was walking in the woods when I saw him sitting atop a rock ledge jutting out of the mountain. I learned he spent a great deal of time there, I now know he was trying to deal with the loss of his family." Jason then laughed and said, "And with his hormones." I smacked him one on the arm as he continued, "I spied on him as he sat on a rock, sometimes just sitting there and at other times taking care of business."
"I fell more and more in love with the guy, but what chance did I have? I didn't know him, I didn't even know his name. And, truth be told, Doug had a lot going for him and I had nothing. He was hot looking and I was ordinary but, even more than that, I had a whore for a mother, a murderer for a father and a drunk for a grandma."
"Yeah, a good-looking dude was going to notice me? Not likely. But he did. I ended up living in the same house with him, loving him more and more."
"Come to think of it, Hank, it was you who broke the ice for us. Yeah, you. You commented on our not making out with Janie and Sandra and both Doug and I had nightmares about our situation. The next day we went to the woods, climbed on our rock and talked about that and finally told each other we were in love."
"So that's it," I said. "Ok, you did make a comment about our sucking dick and fucking ass. Don't know that we will ever call it that since we'd really be making love, maybe so. But that's not important, at least for you. What you really are asking is if we are having sex. By the way, that's not a question, I think, we would ask about you and Beth. But then, again, our love is different isn't it, at least in the eyes of most people? Your eyes?"
"Are we having sex? I guess the answer is kinda yes and no. If doing a lot of very, very hot kissing is having sex, we've done a lot of that and, by the way, I can see why you go after kisses from Beth, why a jacket to cover your precum-soaked pants after a movie is a good idea. If getting each other off is having sex, we've stroked each other off and also just got so hot rubbing against each other in the shower we sprayed spunk half-way up the shower wall. Other than that, we've done nothing and probably won't until we get some things clear in our minds. So that's it, Hank."
"Faggot?" Jason asked, "Don't like the name! I hate it because it's used to put people down. Gay? I guess that's better. I guess it's better than faggot, but even that's not something I want pinned on me, especially here in the North Carolina mountains."
"I also want to say loud and clear that I'm not out to hop just any hot guy's bones any more than you are out to hop just any hot gal's. I am no more attracted to just any guy than you are attracted to just any woman.�
"I'm in love with Douglas McElrath so I guess that makes me gay, a faggot, queer, a pansy, a queen, a fruit--there are lot of names you can pin on me, but I feel toward them the same way you'd feel if someone pinned a derogatory name on you--ignorant hillbilly, redneck--you know the list."
"I guess that's it. I've had my say. Except I do want you to know your friendship is very important to me. It is so important I would sacrifice almost anything for it, but I cannot sacrifice my love for Doug. And, Hank, please realize that I'm the same Jason you have known since we met, the very same one. The only difference is that you know me better and I am a much happier Jason."
"You can double that for me, Hank, and yeah, I guess I've had my say as well."
Hank was silent, his head down, staring at the floor. Finally he said, without looking up, "And Jonathan's one of your kind?"
I thought--hoped--Jason's and my friendship with Hank was strong enough for him to take learning we were in love with each other in stride--well, after a bit of stumbling around on all our parts--but it appeared not. Man, I hated those words, "one of your kind," I really did, and they started me off again.
I knew I was about to explode again and that was not called for right now. I was silent for a minute, thinking about what Hank had said, and doing everything I could to calm myself. I appreciated Jason not speaking, giving me time to get control of my temper. Finally I said, "Yeah, I guess you're right. He's one of our kind. Let me see, he's male and we are. He's a student at Coldsprings and we are. He's part Indian ... I guess he's one of Jason's and
my kind and not one of yours on that score. He's a good student, an honors student so, yeah, he's one of our kind. Let's see, you have a dad at home, mine is dead and Jason's is in jail and Jonathan's has disowned him, guess he's none of our kind on that score. He's a freshmen, and we are juniors, so we are one kind and he's not one of our kind. Chrissake, he doesn't have someone loving him--a lover--so, no, he's not one of our kind that way, but you are, aren't you? Hank, seems like you are more our kind than Jonathan. What do you think? I'm confused. Are you one of our kind or not? Is Jonathan or not?"
Hank looked up and said, "Cut the shit. You know what I mean. He's a cocksucker like you two."
"Just hold it right there, Mr. Dennison," I said, in an icy voice, trying to keep a rein on my temper. "I'm not saying I won't, but I have never sucked a cock in my whole life."
"Never sucked one either," Jason said, in a voice with a definite smile in it, "but I did bite one big time to keep it out of my throat. Does that count?"
"I guess when it comes to cock sucking, Jason and I may be one of Beth's kind--not done it yet, but probably will. Maybe not. Guess whether she was, is, or will be a cock sucker--so to speak--is a question only you can answer." When I looked up at Hank I could see I had gone a little far--I guess--from the look on his face.
We were all silent for a few minutes then Jason said, "Hank, the point we're making is there are whole heaps of things which go to make up who we are. We share some things with some people and some things with others. Our sexual orientation--and I hate discussing who and how I love like it was a disease or some cold fact to be checked in the right box on a form--is only one of the many, many things that defines who we are. Don't get me wrong, it's a major one as I am sure you will agree. I probably daydream as much as you do about sex and, as you said, stay at least half hard most of the time, but that's only part of who I am."
"Gay or straight, I love you as a brother. Gay or straight, your friendship is very important to me, so important I kept my love for Doug a secret. If I was hitting on you it would be different, but I don't see why you shouldn't see me kissing the person I love without freaking out, the same as I see you kissing the person you love and don't go wacko."
The three of us sat in the floor, silent, heads down. I could feel the hot tears running down my cheeks and when I raised my head a bit, saw streams of tears flowing down Jason's face as well. I didn't look at Hank. I couldn't. I was afraid of what I might see.
He caught me off guard when I heard a sob escape from him. I looked up in time to see him practically dive across the floor. He reached out, put his arms around Jason and me and whispered, in a choked voice, "One for all and all for one, friends forever." There were no longer silent tears as the three of us started bawling like babies.
We just thought we had talked ourselves out. Half an hour, forty-five minutes later, when we had finally wound down, Hank said he thought he needed to help us since we had spent time talking and hadn't gotten as much done as we should.
"Not that I think you two would've gotten much done after what I saw when I walked in," he said. After we got to work, we did some very practical talking about the situation in which we found ourselves--Hank knowing about Jason and me, his knowing about Jonathan and our pledge to find Jonathan a place to live.
Hank pointed out that since Jonathan was not sexually active--"Sexually active" he said, grinning shyly, "another box on that form you talked about."--the issue of his being gay shouldn't figure into immediate plans. "However," he continued, "I do think it would be best that he lived at our place since you two are gay. There could and probably would be some nasty and hurtful talk if he were living at your place when your being gay becomes common knowledge."
I started to object but, before I could say anything, Hank said, "Look, you two are going to be around at least another school year. You may be able to keep your relationship a secret but I suspect not, and certainly there is no need to add to Jonathan's problems."
Jason and I had to admit that having Jonathan live at our place wasn't worth the risk involved. "I suspect we'll be together most of the time anyway," Jason said.
When we had finished work for the evening, all three of us were suddenly shy when it came to showering. No-one said anything, but we kinda stood around, not getting undressed and certainly not looking at each other. Finally Jason said, "Shit! We have seen each other in the raw before. Hank, you've even given my cock a stroke or two, so what's changed? Who's different? I'm still me and have no designs on anyone except Doug and that only in private. So what's holding us up?"
"Yeah, it's still 'All for one and one for all, friends forever,'" Hank said as he started getting undressed. "But, please, don't refer to us as asshole buddies." Jason splashed Hank good as he and I cracked up. We knew in that wiseacre remark, Hank had said, "I can accept you two as you are, but don't push it."
Soon all three of us were in some stage of getting cleaned up--soaping up, washing each other's back, rinsing off.
Minutes later we were dressed and on our way home. We had all gotten very quiet--unlike most of the time we spent in the Jeep together. Jason, I don't know consciously or unconsciously, had rested his hand on my thigh. When he did, I turned and smiled at him, I guess calling Hank's attention to that small gesture. Sitting the back seat, Hank leaned forward and said, "I know you two are the same as before, but I am still having trouble thinking about you as--you know--lovers. I guess it will take time, ok?"
"Hank, truth be told, I'm having a hard time thinking about Doug and me too. 'Course, the way I think about him is pretty different from the way you think about him," Jason said.
"I sure hope so!" I laughed.
We got home so late Hank decided he would just go to his house and do his homework there. "I don't want you two to think that it's because of ... you know," he said.
"Hank, we are going to have to watch it or we'll get so uptight we'll be looking for something to get our nose out of joint about. You say you want to go home and do your homework, then that's what I think you mean, not something else."
"Thanks," Hank said as he got out of the Jeep. "See you in the morning."
As I backed out of the driveway, Jason said, "Doug, Hank noticed right away that I put my hand on your thigh. I wasn't even conscious of doing it. I mean I knew I was doing it, but didn't think anything about it. That kinda scares me. We are going to have to be careful 'most everywhere we are. We really are."
"Yeah, we really are," I agreed.
We talked about times when we were walking in the hall at school and one or the other had reached out to hold hands. "We do that without thinking, and we'll do other things as well unless we are very careful," Jason said as we pulled into the drive.
When I had stopped the Jeep, he leaned over, placed his hands on the sides of my face and gave me a wonderful kiss. "Yeah, we gotta be careful, but I'm going to have a hard time keeping my hands off of you," he smiled.
"It's going to be hard, all right," I laughed as I groped his crotch.