Today is my first day back in school since I was attacked and almost died. So much has happened since that day. It is hard to believe that it has been only a few weeks. I'm afraid of the questions I'll get asked. I rode with Angela today. I sat in back with Mark, and Anthony sat up front. As we arrived, I saw a few people heading over. Great, that is just what I wanted! "Let's just get this over with." I said to everyone in the car. Pushing my way through the people gathering, I make my way to the office to check in, and head to homeroom with Mark and my sister, then on to our classes. We all meet at lunch. Looking at the others at the table and what they're eating, I'm glad we started packing our lunches. Today, they are serving tuna surprise. Personally, I would not like to know what the surprise is. As I sit down I say, "I'm getting really sick of all the looks. Like I don't have enough going on in my life right now, I really don't want to deal with what people are thinking, nor all the staring."
"Just ignore them man. Your real friends could care less about all the shit," Matt says. I'm feeling oddly grateful for my small but intimate group of friends.
"Thanks. That means more to me right now than you know. So what kind of shit is going around about me now?"
This time it is Cody that speaks up, "Well Nicole is still spreading her venom around." Speaking of the town slut, like a trained dog she passes right by our table, just as her name is mentioned.
"Ahh, look it's the fags and their friends. So is it true that your dad is running some kind of fag shelter out of your house. I wonder what kind of unnatural things he's doing to all of you. You're gay; he brings in that fag Derrek; Mark is here for a whole month, and he turns gay. From what I hear from Megan, John is well on his way to boarding the fag express as well. Seems he would rather suck your dick, than let her suck his," She says.
"I have no idea what you're talking about, Nicole. John broke up with Megan because she is a prejudiced bitch. You, well, you're just mad because I won't fuck you," I say.
"Yeah, well I know all about your new foster brother being a fag and getting kicked from his parent's house." My face goes pale. There is no way she should know about Derrek, or what he has been through. "It seems like I hit a nerve, fag boy. Yeah, his dad beat the shit out of him and fucked his ass to show him how a fag should act. Then, he tossed his faggot ass out the door. I have a friend that knows his family." What? I did not know he was raped too. Derrek never told us that part.
"Keep your slutty ass out of my family's lives. You got that whore?" I look over, my mouth hanging open because it is John who just said that. I can see Miss Barkley making her way over now; Nicole must be oblivious to her.
"All you homos are going to hell. Pastor Phelps says the nation is going to hell because of all you fags."
"That will be enough Miss Ross. We don't tolerate that kind of talk in this school. We have zero tolerance for hate speeches and hate motivated bullying," Miss Barkley says.
"Yeah, that's right. I should have expected the dyke to stand up for the fags. You freak shows have to stick together don't you. You're all going to hell, and I will look down at you from heaven and laugh as you get tortured." She has this wild fanatic look in her eyes.
"Well I think you just earned yourself a suspension, and pending how the board rules, an expulsion as well. Would the Daniels family please come and see me after school today?" With that she walks off pushing a proud looking Nicole in front of her. No one could have deserved to get expelled more than her.
I look over at the rest of my table.
"So do any of you have a problem with my new brother potentially being gay," I ask. They all shake their heads no. I think about it for a bit and decide it is not the right time to come out yet myself. "Do you all want to come over tonight and meet Derrek? He will be starting here on Monday, so it would be good for him to get to know the rest of our friends." They all say they will come by for a bit, but they can't do a party. I say that's cool because I don't want a party.
Tim speaks up. "You know, Alex, I heard from a friend on Derrek's old swim team the things Nicole was saying." I glare at him and he quickly says, "I have no problem with it. I'm just saying I don't think it's just a possibility. I think he really is gay. I feel bad for his little brother though. His parents sent him off to some place that makes sure you're not gay, and they claim to fix people who are, or kill them trying. I think it's the one that Phelps runs." Shit. More news I did not know. I need to tell Dad about Derrek's little brother. I excuse myself from the table and go to the bathroom. I call Dad.
"Dad, did you know that Derrek has a little brother? They sent him off to some reprogramming camp to make sure he does not turn gay like Derrek. The camp is run by the Phelps family."
"No, I don't know much about his family yet. How do you know this?"
"Nicole started yelling about it at lunch; she goes to the same church as Derrek's family. Then Tim confirmed it all; he has a friend on Derrek's old swim team."
"Well, if what they say is true then I will let Nancy know. I will try to get his brother out as well."
"Thanks Dad. There is more thing. Nicole said that Derrek was raped by his father before he was thrown out." I hear silence on the other end, then the sound of glass breaking.
"Thank you for telling me that. I have some calls to make." His voice sound like he can barely control the anger he is feeling. He abruptly hangs up. I go back to the table and rejoin the conversations. I covertly nod to John, and he nods back.
I remember that this Thursday is Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for this year. I won't be able to spend this one with Mark, but I will for Christmas. Well, at least I hope his mother will be out of the way by then. Mark says everything is moving according to plan. "Hey, do you guys want to have an after Thanksgiving get together just us to celebrate as friends?" They all seem to like that idea, but say they need to check with their families.
After lunch Mark and I head to Ancient World History. This class has to be one of my favorites. Mr. Robinson has a way of teaching that seems to bring the subject alive. I know that sounds corny, but it's true. I chose a seat next to Mark; in this class, we had no assigned seats. I noticed that every time I looked up, others looked down. I had the distinct feeling that I was being watched by my classmates. Between the attack and the rumors that I'm gay, I seem to be getting a lot of undesired looks from people.
When the bell rings, Mark and I head to our lockers to swap out books. I open it and see a note in my locker. I unfold it and in big bold letters is written. "I'm going to finish what I started fag, then I'm coming after the rest of your family." I freeze. Mark comes up behind me and asks what is going on. I show him the note. He looks scared. I look over to Anthony and hand him the note. He starts looking around, and herds us to the Principal's office. We ask to see Mr. Carvalho and Ms. Barkley. The secretary asks us to sit down, and she goes to get them. When they come out of their offices, Anthony hands him the letter saying that only he and I held it.
He walks over to the phone and calls the police. I guess Lee's father did not kill him after all. I hear him on the school intercom asking Mr. Hilton and Mrs. Peacock to come to the office. When they arrive, he asks them to get any and all handwritten writing samples that Lee has turned in. They both leave, and arrive back about the same time that the police walk into the office asking what the problem is. The principal explains what happened to me and then shows him the note. The police officer places the note in a bag and asks who all handled the note. I tell him that as far as I know only Anthony, Mr. Carvalho, and myself have. He nods his head at that.
Ms. Barkley says that they have writing samples for Lee and hands him the files. The officer thanks her. The officer then says with the school's permission, he would like to have an officer stay at the school while classes are in session in case Lee comes back to school armed. Mr. Carvalho agrees with him, and the officer leaves saying something into his radio. Mr. Carvalho asks if we want to go back to class or not. I say that I would like to. So we head off, Ms Barkley reminding me of my after school meeting with her. I tell her I remember, then go to class.
The rest of the day seems to go slowly. I have a hard time concentrating on my classes. Finally the last bell rings and I head over to the office and meet my family. I bring Mark and Anthony along as well. For the first time, I am glad I have a body guard, but I'm worried about the rest of my family. Not to mention how my dad is going to react.
John, Angela, and I step into Ms. Barkley's office; she asks Mark and Anthony to wait outside. She asks us to sit and we do.
"I wanted to talk to you about a few things. First, I have to ask if Alex has informed you of the letter he received in his locker today." Ms. Barkley asks.
"No, I haven't told them yet." John and Angela look at me in a questioning way. "Someone dropped a note in my locker. They said there going to finish me off then, they are coming for the rest of my family." I say to them.
"Yes, well, after today's episode in the lunch room, I think it would be best if you all did not go places alone. Now, I need to know for legal reasons if Nicole acted out because one of you really is gay or if it was just her spouting hateful things. If she acted out because you are gay, then it falls under the school's zero tolerance policy. Even if the state does not have a hate crime bill that includes orientation, the school does." I start getting nervous. What do I? Should I tell her?
"Umm, would you mind if I talked to Mark for a moment, I need to ask him something." She says yes, it's OK, and I go out to talk to Mark.
"Mark she wants to know if I'm gay. I can't out myself without implicating you, also."
"Why does she want to know?"
"She said it is because of Nicole." He stops and thinks for a bit.
"I think you should tell her, but ask her if she can keep it between you and her."
"OK, come in with me then." I grab his hand and guide him into the office.
"Ms. Barkley, I have asked Mark about this since it involves him as well. Yes, we are gay. We would be grateful if you could keep this between us unless it is absolutely necessary to tell someone about it, especially our teachers and class mates."
"Well I think you would find a few of your teachers would be very supportive of you. However, if it is your wish, I will keep this to myself unless needed."
"What do you mean a few would be very supportive?"
"Well, I for one would be very hypocritical if I condemned you for the same life style I live." My mouth drops open. "I would like that to stay between us as well. The board and the principal know, as do a few teachers, but I would like to keep it from the student body as long as possible."
"No problem. Are there any others like us here?" I look over at my siblings and Mark they all seem to be just as shocked as I am.
"If you would like, I will inform others and see if it is OK for you to meet them. In the future, I think it would be better to avoid certain teacher's classes though. Mrs. Peacock for one. If she finds out, you will likely fail all her classes, as will your family and friends by association."
"OK, I think that would be good. It would be nice to know there are adults here we can talk to if things get bad." With that we get up to leave, and she tells us to be careful and to stay together.
The drive home was tense, no one spoke. We dropped Mark off first; I kissed him goodbye, and he got out. When we got home I saw the Sheriff's car in front. Great, so Dad already knows. We walk in and Anthony goes upstairs, the rest of us join my dad, Derrek, and the Sheriff in the great room. As we enter, my dad turns around. I can see worry in his eyes.
"The Sheriff has been telling me about what happened in school today." It may seem like an innocent statement, but coming from my dad it's layered with implications. I sit down as do John and Angela.
"I did not think it was important enough to call you right then and there. I'm sure with the police on site now, Lee won't be getting back into the school. That is assuming it was Lee who did it. It could have been a few other people as well." I look pointedly at John to see if he knows the people I am talking about.
"Care to add a few names to our list?" The Sheriff asks.
"Well Nicole Ross and Megan Masterson for starters. Then there are all of Lee's friends, and I would not hesitate to include anyone that goes to that joke of a church that Nicole, Megan, and Derrek's parents go to. That preacher studied under good old Fred Phelps; come to think about it, so did Mark's mom's pastor."
"I don't think Megan would actually do anything if it was her," John says. "I for one still think Lee's dad killed him." Angels brings up my old idea.
"Well, those are all good ideas, but do you mind telling me why you think the ideas of their church have anything to do with this?" I look at my dad and then Derrek. They both nod their head, giving me the go ahead. At this rate I'm going to be out before I come out.
"It matters because they all think Mark, Derrek, and I are gay and want us to die because of it."
"Are you all gay? Keep in mind that this state does not have a hate crime law that includes orientation. So me asking is more to limit or include suspects."
"Yes, we are gay. I would like it if you keep that to yourself for the time being. I think it is more likely to be someone else besides Lee. The note called me a fag. Lee was after me for other reasons. I suppose he could have heard the rumors, and decided to include that as a reason to hate me even more."
"Why don't you check out Lee's yard and see if he is buried there?" John asks. We all look at him.
"We would need a reason to suspect that in order to get the warrant."
"How about the fact that he father beat him for the last 12 years, and the last time his whole back was bruised and looked like he was whipped with a metal buckle." John says.
"You saw these injuries?"
"Yes, I did. He played on the football team with me. A lot of us saw them. I think that's the reason he attacked Alex."
"I will talk to the DA and the judge and see what they think."
"What if a private team scanned the area and then told you what they found so you would have more to go on. A private investigator is not limited the same way the police are." My dad asks. The sheriff starts to laugh.
"If you can find a private crime investigation team that can do it without him knowing, then yes, that would help, but good luck finding one." The sheriff says. My dad just smirks. I can see a phone call to Naudia in the near future.
"By the way, do you mind explaining why you have all the armed guards all over the place Isaac?"
"Well, they are here to keep unwanted people out. I figure if I have a crazy teenager out there with his father's hand gun running around trying to kill one or more of my kids, then I want to be able to stop him. If he or anyone else steps one foot into this compound armed, they will get shot." The Sheriff talks some more, then leaves.
"Hey, Dad. There are some rumors at school about Derrek. It seems everyone already knows he's gay. His parents made sure everyone knew about him at his old school. Then, his church told every one of its members as well. Also, I outed Mark and me to Ms. Barkley today as well," I say.
"Well, I should have known that I could not keep this a secret. At least I don't have to hide it," Derrek says.
"Also, we invited a few people over to meet Derrek so when he goes to school he will know a few people outside the family. They will be here after dinner. It is only the lunch table crew."
"What do you mean you outed yourself and Mark? What rumors are you talking about?" My dad asks.
"Well, after Nicole went all Bible thumper on us, Ms. Barkley told us all to stay after school and talk to her. She said that she needed to know if I was really gay because the school has a zero tolerance for hate crimes and comments being made. After I told her that I was gay, she came out to us; she is going to try to get any of the other gay teachers to talk to us so we have someone to go to at school if things ever get rough. As for Derrek and the rumors about him, a few people know his family and people from his old swim team or school. So they already heard and spread around that he is gay. What is worse is how they're saying he was thrown out." I turn to Derrek at his point. "Dude, why didn't you tell us that your dad raped you before he beat you and kicked you out? Also, how come you never told us you had a brother? Your parents sent him to some reprogramming camp to make sure you did not infect him." I told my dad most of this at lunch, but I can see that hearing it again is having an effect on him. "I know we have not known each other long, but there is stuff we could have helped you with. You're part of our family now, and 'til you choose to leave us, you're stuck with us."
"Most of the time I try not to think about it all. The only part of being home I miss is my brother. The idea that I will never see him again is eating away at me. Now you tell me they shipped him off to some camp to re-program him. That makes me feel even worse. As for every one knowing, I could care less. I wish they did not know how I got kicked out. I can handle them knowing I'm gay. I'm not sure what all you can do. If I pressed charges for the rape it would be my word against theirs," Derrek responds in a barely controlled voice.
My dad speaks up. "I am working on it for you Derrek. I don't know how much I can do about the rape. I can however try to get your brother. The accusation of rape coupled with the gay camp, gives me good grounds to file a complaint for removal. I can't promise anything, but I will try."
John puts his hand on Derrek's shoulder and sort of rubs it, while Angela curls up to his side hugging him. He can't seem to hold it in anymore, and starts crying. After Derrek seems to regain control, Dad sends us upstairs to get cleaned up and do some homework before dinner. After dinner is done, our guests show up. Tim, Rich, Dylan, Cody, Rachel, Matt, Grace, Gavin, Sasha, Christian, and Nathan all arrive right around seven o'clock. We spend a few hours just hanging out. They get to know Derrek, and it looks like no one has a problem with Derrek being gay. It makes me hopeful for when I come out. The only down side to this evening is that Mark could not come. I notice Jacob seems disappointed by Shawn not coming over, more so than Scott. I think there is more going on between Jake and Shawn then just messing around; I'm starting to think Jake is developing feelings for him. Boy, would that be ironic as hell; both brothers end up being gay, and fall for two brothers. I do notice that once again Cody and Dylan are closer than normal for 2 teenagers. I do see that Matt seems slightly uneasy around Derrek, but not in a 'gross he's gay, keep him away from me' way, more like how a guy would be around a girl. Or in my case a really hot guy. The light bulb goes off. I make my way over to Matt. I pull him into the kitchen for drinks.
"So, Matt what do you think of Derrek?"
"What? Oh, umm he's cool, I like him"
"He's hot too, isn't he?"
"Yeah, he is." His face goes white as he hears what he just said. He looks terrified as well.
"Matt, it's OK, really it is. I'm sorry for tricking you like that, Now, do you want me to set you up? Keep in mind he has baggage, so if you can't deal with that, then don't bother going after my brother." He looks like I just slapped him. He is that shocked at what I just said.
"Please don't say anything to anyone. I don't know how everyone would take it. It is different for Derrek. He is just meeting people, and they know ahead of time he is gay. I'm afraid they won't treat me the same after they find out."
"Well, I won't be treating you any different, in fact, no one in my family will. You don't have to worry about Mark either."
"Thanks Alex, and if you can figure out a way to drop hints for Derrek. I think I would give it try as long as I can stay in the closet."
"No problem. Just one question, why did you never try anything on me?"
"I never thought you were gay."
"Well, I am, but don't tell anyone. And Mark is my boyfriend."
"Does your family know?"
"Yup. They sure do, and they were all fine with it - better than fine actually. For the most part it was like telling them I liked mint ice cream instead of chocolate. Let's get back before they think we are up to something."
The rest of the night passes without note. We see our visitors out and head to bed. I call Mark and tell him about Matt, and my dad trying to help Derrek. Then I ask him what he thinks about Cody and Dylan. He says he thinks something is going on between them. I then ask him to help me set up Derrek and Matt, and to help me get Cody and Dylan to come out to us. He says that he will help. I tell him I love him and then say good night; he returns with, "I love you" and we hang up. I fall asleep shortly after that.