I started the slide show which focused on the clinic -- its
environment, people it served and Kathryn and Richard. There were pictures
of the garden, the trickle of water the canyon depended on, and the horses.
There were no pictures of me which Levi pointed out and Jeremy did as well.
“Maybe later,” I said quietly, hoping they wouldn't mention it again.
“No cell phone and no TV,” Patsy whined, “I'd be bored.”
“Remember Poor Richard's Almanac, 'Early to bed early
to rise'? Took a while to get used to, but since the only electricity
available was from our gasoline-powered generator and gasoline had to be
hauled fifteen miles to get to the canyon, it made sense to go to bed at
dark and get up at sunrise. I think I saw more sunrises this summer than in
the rest of my life. I took a photo of each sunrise and sunset for a week.
They make an interesting group of photographs. There was no time to get
bored during the day. Most days we left the canyon by 6:30 or 7:00 and
weren't back until 5:30 or 6:00. If we were there, we were working in the
garden where we grew much of the food we ate, or doing household chores or
working at the clinic. Food had to be preserved for winter. You learn to
enjoy the solitude or I guess you'd go nuts.”
“What about sex?” Patsy asked. “I didn't see any girls, just
that old woman. Bet you weren't thinking of her when you jacked off. Who did
you think of when you jacked off?” I tried to ignore her, but she really was
getting under my skin. That was at least the fifth or sixth such question
the airhead had asked.
When I showed the pictures of the twins, there was a lot of
oohing and ahing. “I had been at the clinic for about three weeks when the
mother's husband brought her to the clinic. They were headed to a midwife,
but knew she couldn't make it and came to the clinic. I was there alone as
Kathryn and Richard were out making rounds. I had seen Kathryn deliver a few
babies, but I realized I hadn’t thought about doing it on my own. I had the
husband use the radio and called Richard, but lost contact, but he got
Kathryn to call me. From what I had been able to tell Richard, Kathryn said
she thought the woman was having twins. She said that complicated things,
but to keep calm. 'Women have been having babies for years,' she said. So, I
helped deliver them and there they are, healthy and happy and growing like
“Good reason to make sure you take your pills, girls.” It was
“Here's a photo of a man who we found at the clinic door when
we came back from a weekend away. He had been bitten by a rattlesnake. He
would probably have lived had he not made it to the clinic, but would have
lost a leg. As it was, he had been bitten long enough before we found him
that some tissue died and his leg will be disfigured, but he will be able to
do what he had done before. Here are just some photos of people the clinic
serves.” I just let the slide show run.
Patsy said she needed to piss and someone told her where the
bathroom was since we were in the living room.
“Okay, Derek, we need to hear about your big adventure,” said
Evans who was in one of last year's study groups. “I know that Brother
Fitzsimmons was involved in kiddie porn and my aunt who lives in Phoenix
said an OCU student named Derek Wilson had helped take him out.”
“Yeah, Derek, tell them what you brought home from the
desert.” Levi grinned.
I had photos of Jayden beginning with him lying in the desert
to his standing in the trickle of water. As the photos played, I realized
that there was no way I could avoid the whole story since many of them had
at least read about Brother Fitzsimmons. I started by telling them how
Jayden had been beaten and put on the street by his own father miles from
anything and anyone he knew. I said he had been picked up and forced into
kiddie porn and prostitution just as Patsy came back, “Well, I know who you
were fucking now.” The photo of Jayden standing under the water trickle was
on the screen. “Hell yeah, that's who he was fucking. You should see the
I was livid. There were very few rules at my place, but one
of them which had always been respected was that my bedroom was off limits.
No-one was ever to enter it unless I invited them. Besides, this slut had
just made a claim that was not only untrue, but insulting to me and Jayden
as well as implying he was a slut. I had tried ignoring her and Casey should
have had sense to take her away before, but now I was beyond angry. Before
Arizona, I might have been polite and pretended nothing had been said, but
this was after Arizona and what she had said was filth I would not let
“Patsy, I have watched you play with Casey's cock all night
in a restaurant and here with twenty or more people present. Jayden would
never do that. I think I am safe in saying you are not a virgin because if
you are, you set a new standard for prick teasing. Jayden had sex with men
and did kiddie porn to stay alive. First, simply to have something to eat
and a place to sleep, then because -- well, if you saw the rest of the
photos and heard the whole story, you would know what else. Instead of that
you have abused my hospitality by invading my privacy. Jayden Fulton has
more dignity, more moral integrity, more humanness and more respect for
other people in his big toe than you have in your whole being. I have never
fucked him and he has never fucked me. He is one of the finest human beings
I have ever met and he is, at this moment, starting a year-long program to
heal the damage done to him. I don't know what Casey wants to do, but I want
you out of my house now and you are never to show up here again. Get the
“Well, get on your high horse, but you are still a fucking
That did it. Casey had started to get up, but didn't make it
before Levi and Telvin had her by her shoulders and ankles and carried her
downstairs and dropped her on the curb. I was shaking all over. Why were
people so cruel?
“Folks, I think we all need to leave,” Casey said. “Derek, I
am so sorry. No excuse, but the little head was in control.”
“Casey, sit down,” Jeremy said. “If you want to leave later,
you can, but I'd like a few minutes. First off, I want to thank Derek for
what he has given us, not just tonight, but most of you have benefited from
knowing Derek Wilson over the past year. But beyond that, one of the things
Derek has said he learned over the summer is about friendship. Derek, Levi,
stop me if you need to, but
otherwise I want to talk about the man we
I had no idea where this was going, but I trusted Jeremy. I
guess Levi did as well, because he nodded, giving Jeremy the go-ahead.
Jeremy proceeded to lay it out in plain English. He talked about our
relationships, mine and Levi's and mine and Wolf's. “For some slut -- sorry
Casey, but some of us tried to tell you -- to call Derek a faggot and
suggest -- no, state -- he was fucking someone is more than slander. Derek
Wilson is a friend. I have never met Jayden, but because Derek calls him
friend, that makes him more than alright in my book.”
“For all of you ready to run with the gossip, Derek is a
virgin and likely to remain so until he knows he is in love with a friend, a
lesson we might all take to heart even though we are not virgins.”
There was as close to absolute silence in the room as was
possible with so many people packed in. Finally, Casey said. “Derek, we'd
like to know the whole story behind Jayden. I know some of it, enough to
know he is a brave man as are you. Again, I apologize for Patsy.”
“Nothing for you to apologize for,” I said. “This will take a
while, so if you need to go, I guess now is the time.” No-one stirred.
“Well, Patsy and I have one thing in common. I need to piss. Levi, if you'd
direct traffic for the guest bathroom, there’s a bathroom through that door
where Patsy went and some of you can follow me to the restroom off the
library, but I'm first!” There was a quiet chuckle through the room, and I
sensed a lightening of the mood which had become pretty heavy.
For another hour I talked about the whole episode surrounding
finding Jayden. When I finished, a woman reminded me I’d said he was in a
year-long program and asked about it so I described it briefly. I guess if
your culture was the dominant one the idea on which the Pueblo was based
didn't make a lot of sense.
When everyone except Jeremy had left, he asked about spending
the night and I said I wished he would. He said he had to get his toiletries
and clean clothes and would be back. “I have calls to make so just lock up
and come on up when you return.” When he left, I realized the difference
between alone and solitude was really becoming clear to me.
I sat down in the library, welcoming the quiet after
the crowd in the living room and I remembered I was going to
call Wolf earlier. On the off-chance he was still home, I called. “Hi,
Derek. When did you get back?”
“Hard to believe, but I left Arizona yesterday morning. Where
“In the Big Apple. I came last week. Well, I had been here,
but was home for a week and came back. I'll be living here and going to
Columbia. I’m getting a small stipend from CNN, and with my college fund Dad
and Mom think we can swing it. I started classes today. You at OCU?”
“Yeah, back in the house, by myself. Auntie spent the summer
with a friend in New Mexico and won't be back until later. Got my schedule
today and it is going to work my buns off. How did your internship go?”
Wolf said nothing for several minutes and finally said,
“Derek, you could have told me how it would go. When you called me and we
said goodbye, I was on a road to hell. Fortunately, one of the CNN anchors
saw what was happening and we had a ‘come-to-Jesus’ session. He did
everything but physically kick my ass. He told me I was the most
self-centered, selfish asshole he had met in a long time and read me chapter
and verse. He gave me two weeks to shape up or he'd talk to the head of the
interns. The same day, two of the three I was running with got sent home. I
turned myself around with a lot of help and am still struggling, but making
progress.” He was quiet,
I’m sure, thinking back on the summer. I waited.
“Hey,” he said suddenly, “I ran across the story of you and
your boy lost in the desert. I want to hear the whole thing. I'll see what
we have in the archives, but maybe we can get together for a Coke and you
can tell me about it. I did see Brother Fitzsimmons was involved in it.”
“Yeah, and by the way, the boy in the desert is not a boy. He
is a man in every sense of the word.”
“Never the latter and not the former yet, but I think that's
a definite maybe, but we are very, very close friends.”
“As close as Jeremy?”
“In a different way but, yeah, as close as Jeremy.”
“I was always jealous of you and Jeremy. You had something we
“Bingo,” I said. “I figured that out this summer. We were
taking things slow and easy, but that only applied to specific ways of
having sex. We never gave ourselves time to become friends. Wolf, friends
can become lovers. I'm not sure the other way around is possible and I know
it's not when you are together practically twenty-four/seven. I'm convinced
without a foundation of friendship a relationship cannot last.”
“Maybe you're right. Well, keep in touch.”
“You too.” As I closed the phone I knew that if I didn't
call, I'd not hear from Wolf again. That was okay now that I knew he hadn't
fallen down the rabbit hole the past summer because someone yanked him out.
I called my dads and we talked for almost an hour. Jeremy
came in while I was talking with them and yelled, “Hi Derek's dads.” I told
them it would probably be a couple or three weeks before I got down. I
hadn't looked at the aquatic meet schedule yet and I was still getting
acclimated. I told Mom the same thing when I called her.
When Jeremy and I went into the bedroom, he looked at the
posters of Jayden and said, “Derek, you keep those there and your willy will
be so sore from overuse it'll have to be bandaged. Babe, he is one
“Jeremy, he is ten times as beautiful inside as he is
outside. In spite of all he's been through, he is kind, gentle, caring,
loving. I'm sure there is resentment and bitterness somewhere in him, but I
have never seen it. He has a year to heal and I know he will.”
“You're in love with him,” Jeremy said simply.
“I think maybe you're right,” I said with a grin as I felt a
blush wash over my face. I then told Jeremy of our 'I think I love you'
confessions the night before I came home.
“It's going to be a long, rough year, Beloved Friend,” Jeremy
“I know, but if that's what it takes for Jayden to be whole,
I'll wait. I'll wait no matter how long it takes.”
“Yeah, Derek, you're in love.”
I decided I'd write Jayden ’most every day in a kind of
journal style, but only mail it once a week since, after all, he’d only
receive mail once a week. I knew one of the staff went into Chinle on
Saturday to pick up needed supplies and the mail. I mailed the week's letter
on Monday to make sure it arrived in time to be picked up Saturday. Jayden's
letter was mailed on Saturday and I was always eager to get home Thursdays
for lunch when his weekly letter would be waiting for me. We were both
afraid he’d not be able to write every week, but neither of us missed one.
I was dreading art history since it was well outside anything
I knew, but was told it was a crip course, just a lot of memorizing. When I
showed up the first day, I was told the course had changed and if we needed
art history for our major, the registrar's office would be open to us during
the class period. “If you signed up for art history as a humanities
elective, what is being offered qualifies. I will be teaching a hands-on art
appreciation course. Frankly, it's an experiment. We will do a survey of art
history, admittedly just skimming the surface. That will be half the class.
The second half will involve actually working with various media to explore
the characteristics of a medium and how the artist works with it. There will
be no final examination so you'll not be among those carrying a packet of
postcards memorizing the artist, piece's name, date, medium, all that.
Instead you will select a medium or media and create a piece of art for
exhibition. It’ll be pretty much pass or fail and I will take into account
your talent and skill level. Questions?” Professor Tredinik asked. There
were many, but none of consequence.
I loved the course and enjoyed playing with the various
media. Well, I only called it playing once and the professor corrected me
saying I was creating.
The biology class required a lot of memorizing, but the labs
could usually be accomplished in a little more extra time -- maybe an hour
-- than the two hours allotted to them. Chemistry was another question
altogether. The scheduled two-hour lab always took at least three and a half
and usually four. Math was a breeze, especially with our study group.
It was four weeks into the semester before I had a free
weekend. Jeremy was free as well and we packed Thursday night and loaded the
car Friday morning. I made sure Auntie had everything she needed and that
Louis and Caroline were staying at my place to be with her. She’d had a
wonderful summer, but I could tell she was not the woman she had been a year
ago. When I finally prevailed on her to get a thorough physical, the doctor
changed some of her medicine and she seemed more alert, but when I went by
to chat with the doctor, she said, “Derek, her body is wearing out. To be
honest, I hope she goes to bed one night and doesn’t wake up rather than
reaching the point where she can't do anything for herself.” I agreed.
Jeremy and I met at the car after our 10:00 class and hit the
road for Stanton.
My mom and dads would have spent the whole weekend looking at
photos and talking about the summer had I been willing. Mom left about ten.
She drove herself, something I never expected to see. Brad had insisted she
learn to drive and he and Sam helped her pick out a car.
After she left, Sam, Brad and I were sitting around the
kitchen table having a beer when I noticed my dads glancing at each other.
When they both got huge grins on their faces, I had had enough. “Okay, what
gives with you two jokers?” I asked.
They burst out laughing and Sam said, “You don't know, do
“What were you just talking about?”
“I was answering your questions about the clinic.”
“What do you think I was doing?”
The two were having a hard time controlling their laughter.
“Baby Boy,” Sam said, “you have been talking for the last five minutes and
haven't mentioned the clinic. You have a faraway look in your eyes. You
simply were not with us.”
“What do you mean? Of course I'm with you. I was answering
“Derek, you can't fool your old dads. I bet you can't tell us
the last thing we asked you or, more to the point, what you were talking
about,” Brad said.
“Of course I can. You asked... well, I was saying...” I
blushed. I could remember neither.
“Derek, Son, nothing seriously wrong with you. If we're
lucky, it happens to all of us. Baby Boy, you are in love.”
I was thunderstruck. “Sure, Jayden and I said we thought we
might be in love, but we never speak of it in our letters. We agreed what
was going to develop would develop and I just never stopped to ask myself if
I was in love with him,” I said. “I mean I have talked about it and the
possibility, but I mean I never really...”
“You didn't need to,” Sam said. “Your head hasn't kept up
with your heart. Your heart knows you’re head-over-heels in love with him,
but hasn't gotten around to telling your head.”
I looked at the two of them as if they had gone nuts then
felt a smile spreading across my face. I jumped up and waltzed around the
room and sang, “Yes! Yes! Yes! I am in love with Jayden Marshall Fulton the
When I finally came back to earth I asked, “How did you
“Son, when you talk about Jayden, you glow. You are sure this
time and it shows,” Brad said.
“What if he has decided he doesn't love me?” I asked in near
“First of all, don't start the ‘what if’ crap. You are in
love with him. That's what counts right now. Enjoy it.”
I went to bed and lulled myself to sleep with, ‘Jayden, I
love you. I love you, Jayden.’ I was happy.
To squeeze in as much as possible, Sam planned a dinner for
Saturday night. He invited Mr. Manning and Stu along with the Sergeant Major
-- Mrs. Willoughby was practically bed-ridden and couldn’t come -- Ms.
Bianchi and Mr. Malik.
DeAngelo, Joe and Jeremy would, of course, be
there. It seemed DeAngelo and Joe now came as a set which included Angelica
and Katrina. Mom and Sam spent most of Saturday in the kitchen.
Ms. Bianchi and Mr. Malik came early and they, Brad, Jeremy
and I went to the pond. Missing out on swimming and diving all summer showed
when I’d first started fall practice, but Jeremy and I thought I was back up
to speed. I was pleased when my high school coaches and Dad Brad agreed.
Sunday for the first time in months I was in church. I had
missed the Eucharist and vowed I'd get involved in a parish in Norfolk or
the campus Episcopal group. Jeremy agreed with me.
We left for Norfolk at 9:00 Sunday evening since we could
sleep-in Monday as neither of us had a class until 10:00. Thank God for
When we got back to Norfolk, Louis and Caroline were watching
TV, cuddled on the couch in the living room. “You two are welcome to spend
the night if you like. I have a letter to write then it's bed for me. There
are linens... well, you know where they are.”
“Thanks, we'll take you up on the offer,” Caroline said.
“Good weekend?” Louis asked.
“The best. Well, goodnight,” I said and went to the library
and, instead of sitting down at the computer, I found a sheet of nice paper
and wrote Jayden a letter, opening with, 'I'm sure. Derek Edward Wilson
loves his best friend Jayden Marshall Fulton, IV.' I signed the letter,
folded it, and put it in an envelope by itself. I then went to the computer
and wrote about the trip home, about diving for my former coaches and
Saturday's dinner. I described how the dads knew I was in love before my
head had gotten the message. I wrote about going to the Eucharist and how
much it meant to say thanks for him. I finished the week's letter, then
wrote across the bottom in pen, 'Derek Edward Wilson loves his best friend
Jayden Marshall Fulton, IV,' and put it in the envelope ready to mail in the
I slid into bed, looked at the poster of my beloved standing,
arms raised, under life-giving water. Soon afterward I was in dreamless