I closed the phone, then stuck my head out the window of the truck and waved Scooter over to the shoulder. When he stopped behind us, I hopped out and walked back to his car.
Scooter and Antwone had the kind of auto relationship Keith and I had; Scooter was the mechanic and Antwone the body man. They had classes different periods from Keith and me, so I hadn't known them in class, but had admired the car they were working on. Actually, it was a truck that Scooter souped up and Antwone, using a kit, converted to a Humvee!! The conversion complete, he gave it what he called ghetto camouflage. The patterns and colors were such that Keith said it could have been seen a mile away on a dark night.
Anyway, when I got to the Humvee, I told them to follow us to my place. "Call whoever you need to and let them know you are at my place. Oh, and plan to stay over for dinner."
"Sounds like a winner," Antwone said.
When we got home, I sent the crew to my room while I set out food to thaw for dinner and fixed glasses of juice and put cookies on a plate for a snack and went up.
“Food! Food! Wonderful food!” Antwone said as he reached for a cookie.
Scooter slapped his hand and said, “Have some manners, Boy. Elders first,” as he reached for a cookie. Turns out Scooter and Antwone, like Keith and me, were born just weeks apart and Scooter was the older of the two.
We were pretty relaxed talking about school, cars and, you guessed it, not girls.
Scooter asked me if my parents knew I was gay.
“Take a look around you,” I replied.
“Well, I guess that is a hint,” he laughed. All my pinups were hotties, male hotties.
We talked about that and Scooter asked Keith his reaction to all my pinups and he said it was the same as mine to his. “In fact, I forget they are here most of the time,” he replied.
After several minutes, I noticed Antwone had gotten very quiet and when I glanced at him, he was looking at a large picture of Derrick. I had taken it in North Carolina when we had been there alone and hadn't bothered with clothes. He was lying on the rock overhanging the river, propped on an elbow, smiling at the camera. His leg was drawn up just enough to hide his cock, but the rest of his body was there for all to see!
Scooter and Keith stopped talking and looked at Antwone. “You loved him very much didn't you?” Antwone asked, glancing at me.
“Very much,” I replied.
“How did you get over his death? I don't think I could ever get over it if Scooter died.”
“I don't think you ever really get over it,” I responded. “You learn to live with it. You learn to go on and not let grief destroy your life. To tell the truth, I'm not really sure I have reached that point yet. Sometimes I think I have and other times I know I haven't.”
Silence fell upon all of us until, several minutes later, Antwone said, “Yeah, I don't think I could go on living if Scooter died. I wouldn't want to. He's my very life.”
“Just hope you have a friend who won't let you do otherwise should it happen,” Keith said. He then told the two about LaTasha's death and his planning to blow his brains out. He added, “Like Tom said, you have to learn to live again. It's not easy, but I am sure glad Tom found that pistol.”
“But you asked if my parents knew if I were gay,” I said, “do yours, Antwone? Scooter?”
“Mine suspect, I'm sure,” Antwone said. “Actually, I'm sure they know, but both Mom and Dad are older--Dad was fifty-five when I was born and Mom tells everyone I was a miracle baby since she was over forty--I think forty-five is more like it. They really are old enough to be my grandparents. I am terribly spoiled and what they don't want to be true of me and my life, they just don't admit or talk about. Don't admit it or talk about it and it doesn't exist. Actually, not only is Scooter my love and my life, he's the real reason I am not a first class asshole.”
“Scooter, you accept that? You let him talk about your lover that way?” Keith laughed.
“You bet,” Scooter said. “We have been tight practically from the time we were born. Antwone spent as much time at my place as at his own and at my place, my Mama rules--at least so far as kids are concerned. Antwone's right, he is spoiled by his parents, but my mama kept him on the straight and narrow. He knew that unless he stayed on the path, he'd not play with me. True when we were two, true today and all the time in-between.”
“He's right, and we do like to play together, then and now! But, well, at least my parents are ignoring the fact that I am gay. Scooter's didn't.”
“No, well, I suppose all the signs were there, but not noticed or ignored. My old man was fond of saying to a family friend, whose son was gay, 'My son is a football player, not some candy ass nigger.' I guess it would have gone on that way, but near the end of my sophomore year, he came home unexpectedly . I didn't hear him, which was not unusual. What was unusual was the fact he didn't call me or knock on my door. He always had prior to that day. Instead he just opened my door and walked in. He catch Antwone and me going at it. I mean it's hard to deny your son is gay when you walk in on him and he's playing catcher to his best friend's pitching. The old man grabbed Antwone and literally kicked him out of the house, naked.“
“I drove home naked and went to my room and dressed. We had a garage apartment which had been rented out, but when I entered high school, I asked for it and the rents couldn't say no. So I went home and got dressed without them being the wiser. I wondered if Scooter's old man would call my parents, but he didn't.”
“When my old man came back after throwing Antwone out, I was half dressed. He grabbed my shirt, which I was just putting on, and ripped it off of me. He then gave me a shove in the chest, throwing me to the floor. He bent over, grabbed my pants at my ankles and yanked them off. He kicked me and turned me over with his foot, grabbed the back of my briefs and twisted them, pulling them in my crack and crushing my cock and balls. I almost passed out from pain when he yanked me to my feet.”
“Still holding me by my briefs, he dragged me into the bathroom where he took off his belt and started beating me—not for the first time. He stopped briefly, grabbed my briefs again and handed me a razor. “Maybe you can shave off that gay nigger. I'd like to cut off your fucking gay cock, but to ill give you something to remind you that I still might cut your balls off. Shave your cock, balls and ass!” He forced me to shave my cock, balls and asshole--with no soap. In case you haven't tried it, shaving your balls is not easy and without soap, it's more like pulling the hair out, one at a time. And, Man, you don't know what itching is until your shaved balls and asshole starts growing hair.”
“Anyway, that done, he dragged me into the hall and started beating me with his belt again. I was strong enough to yank away from him, but he caught me and threw me to the floor. He beat me some more and when I tried to get up, he'd kick me back to the floor. He was in such a rage he was insane. He beat me until I could feel the blood running down my back. I finally passed out.”
“I came to in the hospital. Mom was there and I was terrified that my old man was too, but he wasn't. Mom had found him passed out, drunk, in the den. That, too, was not the first time. She called me and when I didn't answer, started to my room and found me lying unconscious in the hall outside the bathroom, called 911 and they took me to the hospital. I stayed a couple days before I was discharged. My old man never came to see me and when I got home he never spoke to me. In fact, he acted as if I was invisible.“
“The hospital, of course, reported my beating. Mom is a social worker so she knew that I would probably be taken from them and told me I could agree to go or refuse to say what happened. 'Maybe we can get this family together yet,' she said. To make a long story short, my old man stayed drunk most of the time and drunk or sober, berated Mom for standing up for me. She finally sent him packing a couple of years ago and the last I heard, he was serving time as a result of being caught driving drunk the umpteenth time. He was driving on a suspended license, leaving the scene of an accident and a dozen other offenses. He can rot in jail so far as I am concerned.“
“Mom and I get along ok. She knows I am gay, she knows that I am in love with Antwone and says that she's all for love and we should all take it any way it comes. I spend a lot of time in Antwone's apartment where we can have privacy and take all the time we want and need to make love. He spends a great deal of time at my place, but we seldom make love there. I know Mom would hear us and I don't think that's good.“
“She would hear us because lover boy here is a screamer!” Antwone said as he leaned over and kissed Scooter.
I think we had all forgotten why we were at my place when the phone rang. After Keith kept on me about taking forever to answer the phone, I finally got one for my room. I picked it up and said, “Tom here.”
“Tom, Joe. You wanted me to call?”
“Yeah, Joe Couple fellows from East River and Keith are here. We are concerned about a student who wasn't in school today. He was attacked by three students earlier this week and we're afraid something else might have happened to him. I thought you might help us out by telling us where he lives so we can check on him. We don't know if he lives in East Point or College Park.”
“He's in South Fulton hospital” Joe answered promptly. “A man found him wandering naked down Camp Creek Parkway this morning. When he stopped to see what was up, Shawn collapsed before he reached him. He called 911 and Shawn was brought here to the hospital. I have been working on the case since he was found around 10:00 this morning and just got back to the hospital a short time ago. I'm going off duty now. Why don't you guys drop by the house? You can probably help out my investigation.”
“Be there shortly,” I told him.
We decided to walk over since the day was nice. As we walked, Keith and I told Antwone and Scooter about Joe and Trey. “A gay friendly policeman? That's something,” Scooter said. “Our East Point police are not anything friendly. Since eighty percent of them are African-American you'd think they were black friendly, but they're not and they especially down on black teens. Gay friendly? You can forget that!“
When we reached Joe's place, introductions were made and he said, “We had a hard time identifying your friend. He was still unconscious when he was brought in and naked as the day he was born so there was no identification on him. He finally came around about 1:00 this afternoon and gave the nurse his name.”
“Is he going to be all right?” Antwone asked.
“I think so. Seems nothing was broken. He passed out from pain. EMS suspected he had been raped, but he hadn't. He was beaten and wire wrapped around and around his balls--like a huge cock ring except tight, very tight. Took a wire cutter to get it off. The wire was wrapped so tight it had to be crushing his balls. His cock and balls were both swollen badly. The EMS had a hard time getting the wire into the jaws of the wire cutters. Painful just to think about,“
“Yeah, my balls are in full retreat. I don't think they'll be out of hiding for a week!” Keith said.
“Anyway, we've been unsuccessful in getting anything out of him other than his name since he is so heavily sedated. He'll be ok, but he's going to be in pain, and I suspect pretty much out of it for a day or so.”
“We suspect this is not the first time he's been attacked. Remember I told you about Secret Pals?” Keith asked and Joe nodded. “Well, we are pretty sure Shawn wrote Secret Pals. We couldn't swear to that in court, but I'd bet a year's allowance on it. If it was Shawn, he wrote he was attacked earlier this week.” Keith then told Joe about the e-mail.
“That means he probably knows his attackers. I hope he doesn't clam up and not give us their names. They need to pay for what they have done,” Joe said.
When we got back to my place, it was time to fix dinner. Antwone and Scooter were both surprised that Keith and I knew our way around the kitchen and could prepare dinner. “The only thing I can fix is a box of macaroni and cheese,” Scooter said, “and Antwone is worse.”
“You two are both spoiled,” Keith said.
Mom and Dad got home on time and after they had a drink and relaxed a few minutes, we had dinner. Keith and I told them about Shawn as soon as they arrived and there were questions at dinner as to what might be the outcome so far as school was concerned. “We are assuming Shawn had been the one who wrote Secret Pals and the attackers were the same football players,“ I added.
“Since, apparently, it happened before school and off the school grounds, there may be nothing the school can do. On the other hand if the young man was clearly walking to school or even waiting for a bus, then the incident will be treated as though it was on the school grounds,” Dad said.
“Further, if it goes to court and the attackers are found guilty of a felony, they will be automatically expelled,“ Mom added.
That was about the sum of the dinner conversation about the attack on Shawn. The rest of the conversation revolved around Antwone and Scooter and what they planned to do after high school. Both had already been scouted by several college football programs and were sure they would have a choice of several scholarships. “We will be going to the same college regardless of the one we choose. That's a given,” Scooter said and grinned at Antwone.
We talked about visiting Shawn in the hospital, but were reminded that he was heavily sedated. We also weren't sure how welcome we would be. He was bound to be embarrassed by his situation. So we talked about going to see him, but didn't.
Shawn was out of school the rest of the week. When Keith and I saw Joe at the park Saturday he said Shawn had named his attackers and told the police where the attack had occurred. The three were taken into custody by the College Park police. They, of course, denied everything. Their arraignment was Friday and they were out on bond by noon.
Joe told Keith and me he thought the forensics team found enough evidence at the crime scene to make the case against Shawn's attackers. There had been enough to get a search warrant for the car they were driving, their rooms and their school lockers. He didn't say what the police found when they exercised the search warrant beyond “I've never seen a tighter case” and added he thought they better be praying for a lenient judge.
The three were sent to a school tribunal and were suspended until such time as their court case had been decided. They were told they would definitely face the tribunal again as soon as the court case was finished. They tried to say they had nothing to do with the attack on Shawn, but even if they did, it was not on the school grounds and neither they, nor Shawn, were headed to school when it happened. That, of course, did not fly.
Shawn was in pretty bad shape Monday but he was functioning. He said he was surprised at how many people had told him they were sorry because he was attacked and welcomed him back to school.
“My father came to see me in the hospital and we had several long talks. I think my home life will be a lot better and maybe even my school life.”
We got into a discussion of hate crimes in Issues class and that lead to talking about bullies. The upshot of our discussions was a resolution to the school board on discrimination, use of derogatory names and bullying. The class chose Shawn to present it and Keith, Scooter, Antwone and I were to speak for it.
The resolution caused a major stir at the board meeting. Shawn had earned a lot of support by his impassioned plea for the resolution which included a lot of personal hurt he had experienced. Then, after he had spoken, the three of us spoke in support of the resolution.
When it was time for the Board to discuss the resolution, one member started on “A little harassment turns boys in to men.” Scooter leapt to his feet and asked to speak. The chairman reminded him the time for public comment was over, but several members of the board were hearing none of that. A man said, “Look, we claim we are here for the children of this county, but when they want to speak and address what appears to be a serious issue, we don't have time for them.” A goodly number of the board made their agreement with him obvious. The chairman finally got order and said, “Young man, it seems the board would like to hear more from you.”
Scooter started by saying he was a football player and no one questioned his manhood, but because Shawn's talents lay elsewhere, his manhood was questioned and three who called themselves men had beaten him until he was hospitalized for a week. “I don't think Shawn is any more or less a man than he was before he was beaten and I am sure none of us would think his attackers are role models for young men.”
The chairman called for a vote and one member demanded the right to speak and poo-pooed the resolution and wanted the board to “get on with important business.” The chairman agreed they should get on with important business and suggested the most important business they had was protecting the physical, mental and emotional health of students.
The resolution passed on first reading by a vote of sixteen to one. A month later it passed a second reading by the same margin and became board policy.
Secret Pals rocked along with an increasing number of students making their sexual orientation and their names known. As a kind of parting gift to East River, I helped organize a Gay/Straight group which held real promise for the future.
Mom, Dad and I spent most weekends in North Carolina during the fall. Keith usually joined us. A couple weekends Scooter and Antwone made the trip with us, weekends when, for one reason or another, we didn't have too much work to do on the cabin. Shawn was finally convinced he would be safe from “tigers and bears” and joined us the last weekend in October. Trey and Joe only made it up one weekend, but had taken advantage of the place several times when they could get away during the week.
The cabin was finally finished the week before Thanksgiving and we had a house full for the holiday.
Our house in College Park never made it to the market. A teacher from East River heard we would be moving the end of first semester and asked about the house. She and Dad got together and she bought it with dad financing it.
Seems once we got started on the house and realized we were transforming it, not into a nice vacation house, but as our permanent home, things really started taking shape.
Dad got cable run from the main road to our place. It cost a bundle, since the company would not run the cable so far for only one account, so we had to pay for the cable and installation. The cable gave us TV and, more importantly, high speed internet access.
There were a lot of goodbyes the last day of school before semester break. I would miss friends I didn't have at the beginning of the year, but I was ready to go, to leave College Park, East River and their painful memories behind. I knew I would see Keith, Joe, Trey and Queen often since they were like part of the family--so much so that part of the loft was made into another bedroom closed off from my living space. Scooter and Antwone would likely show up occasionally, so it was with some sadness and much joy that I crawled into my car and headed for North Carolina the week before Christmas.
Mom and Dad had been going into Clarksville to Grace Church some Sundays when we were at the house, but I had not gotten in the habit. Christmas Eve they asked if I'd like to go with then and I decided I would. We sat behind a whole pew of good-looking young men--about my age I guessed. At the peace I thought the two directly in front of me were about to kiss, then didn't. Well, maybe I was just imaging things. Anyway, when I came back from communion, Dad and Mom were standing at the back of the church and Dad motioned for me. I grabbed my coat from the pew and headed for the back of the church wondering what was up. As soon as I reached them, Dad opened the door and I saw huge flakes of snow drifting down. The ground was already covered with a sprinkling of snow and I knew Dad wanted to get home before the roads became impassable.
A few days after Christmas, Keith arrived. He was in good spirits, but said he missed having me around. He was spending a lot of time with Scooter and Antwone, but said he'd like to have someone special in his life. When I asked why he didn't, he said he guessed his standards were too high.
“Have you thought about lowering them a bit?”
“As a matter of fact, I have given it a great deal of thought. Actually, I invited the daughter of one of Dad's friends to the Christmas dance. Dad and Mom said she was a nice girl. That usually meant an ugly girl, but Cherylynne was not ugly, not at all. We had a good time at the dance. Afterwards I thought she was more than a little forward, but I decided I was just too picky.
She invited me to a party Christmas night. A Christmas night party surprised me, but I had nothing better to do. When I arrived at her place, it was already jumping. When I got inside, she grabbed me and offered me some weed. 'Your parents allow you to smoke weed?' I asked her. She laughed and said her parents were in the Bahamas vacationing. The party got wilder and wilder. She dragged me upstairs to a bedroom and started undressing me. I was shit freaked. I really freaked when a guy came in and she said, “Jamie! Great! A threesome.' I didn't bother saying anything. I just got up, stuffed my shirttail in and left. Yeah, I guess I just too straight.”
We talked about that for awhile, both having conflicting feelings, but when push came to shove, we both admitted we kinda like being square and non-cool.
We played a little music and Keith said, “Look, you are here in the mountains. There has to be people around to play with.” I hadn't thought about that, but decided I'd check into it soon.
A day or two after Keith left, I did go in to Clarksville to a music store. When I explained what I was interested in, a young fellow--the owner's son it turns out--asked how I'd like a job. I hadn't thought about that, but by the time he had collected three of his “brothers” for lunch at Wendy's, I had a job and we had decided to see if we could play together.
At dinner, when I told Mom and Dad about Hank and his brothers and maybe getting a group together to play, Dad said, “Looks like you are making yourself a new home, Son.”
This is the end of MOON WATCHING. Tom is a character established in Mountain Magic. Whether or not there are more of Tom's story to be told elsewhere is unclear, but if there is more, it will be a new story because MOON WATCHING is finished.