PART 01 - CORY
Richard was a quiet man...a strong determined man. His 50 years wore well on him as he thought of his life, it's past and it's future. The office was closed for the day, but he continued looking out the window well after his employees had departed for parts unknown. As he watched the rain trail across the window of his office, he remembered that day just a few months ago. "God," he thought to himself. "What have we wrought. So much has happened. So many rules broken. When did it all start? That's the easy part. But how will it all end?" Richard don't know. It really started the day he met Cory.
His own business has done fairly well. He was in control of his destiny. However, the health of the business has caused him some of the problems he was feeling that day many months ago. The business had been growing over the years but now was at a point where he couldn't control every aspect of it anymore. There's a feeling of helplessness when something that you've controlled for years has now grown out of your control. It's like having children. Their entire growing up process is one of leaving the parents for their parts unknown. From the moment they are born...totally dependent...they start growing away from their parents. Parents try to hold on, and that causes pain when they hold on too much and fight the inevitable. He was at this point with his business. He was not in control anymore. The business was running itself. It had grown up.
It was a sullen black evening in October of 1996 when Richard left his office that night in a bad mood. It was dark out and had been raining for a couple of hours by then. It was somewhere around 10:00 pm when he drove out of the parking lot and headed for the interstate highway to take him home. He kept thinking about his life and at 50, where had he been and where was he going. Mid life crisis? Possibly...he didn't know. All he knew at that point was that he wasn't as happy as he should have been.
Just as the entrance to the interstate approached out of the rain and darkness, a dark figure under the street light came into his view. He couldn't tell if it was male or female, old or young. But just by the way this person was standing he felt that something was wrong. He was sure that his mood that night had something to do with the impression that he had about this person. He turned on the cars right turn indicator and slowed to make the turn onto the interstate. Again he looked up and just in that instant realized that this person had seen him and was putting it's hand out in the familiar sign of a hitch hiker. "I don't pick up hitch hikers....ever!" instantly filled his mind. As he started to turn he saw that it was a he, a young male. His shoulders were drooping, his head bowed, he looked like his pain was worse than his own that night. Who knows why we do some of the things we do? He had no reason for doing it, but he braked hard and spun the wheel to the right and stopped the car about 50 feet beyond the figure in the rain. He looked in the rear view mirror and saw him pick up a bag looking like a sports bag and start running toward the car. He stopped running about 20 feet from the car and approached the passenger side window. Richard lowered the window just as he stuck his head in and asked, "Which way are you headed?"
"I'm going south for about 20 miles and then I get off the interstate to go home"
"That's ok by me." He spoke softly with no emotion. "Can you take me as far as you're going?" he added.
"I suppose I can. Hop in and get out of the rain"
"Can I put my bag on the rear seat?"
"Sure." Richard unlocked the rear door and he threw his bag on the seat as it was too large to fit on the floor in front of the seat. They both noticed that the rain water began dripping from the bag onto the seat at about the same time. Richard looked up at him just as he said, "Sorry, I can put this in the truck if you'd like."
"No. That's ok." He didn't want to get out and open the trunk in the rain. "Just get in and out of the rain."
The boy slid onto the front seat and closed the door behind him. Richard looked over his left shoulder to see that the coast was clear and pulled the car onto the entrance ramp and headed south.
The boy didn't say anything. He sat there looking down at the floor without moving as water was dripping from his head into his lap. He looked cold and Richard had the feeling he was also afraid. "Probably of me or of life in general." Richard thought to himself.
"How far are you going" Richard asked in a calm tone.
There was a silence that followed. Something wasn't right. He was too quiet. Richard felt that if he tried to talk to this youth, he would be treading on some grief deep inside him. He just remained silent.
"I'm sorry" he said after about two minutes. "I'm not thinking too clearly right now. I didn't mean to be rude."
Richard didn't try to talk to him any more, and the boy didn't offer any words of conversation. He kept wondering why he picked him up in the first place. He appeared to be a teenager. As Richard was 50 years old, he knew that he had nothing in common with this youth so he kept my mouth shut, hoping that he would soon be leaving. But than the realization came to him that when he left him on the street, he would be out in the rain again.
"Do you know how far Toledo is from here" the boy suddenly asked.
"It's about an hour away from here. Any particular place in Toledo you're headed?"
"No. I just want to head south, maybe to Florida."
"Long way to be hitch hiking" Richard added.
"You don't happen to have a map do you."
"Yeah. There's one in the glove box."
The boy opened the glove box, and the light inside illuminated his face for the first time. He was indeed a teenager, about 15 years old Richard guessed. His hair was a deep slate black, but because it was wet, it probably was a lot lighter when dry.
He pulled out the map and opened it. It was a Michigan map that only showed the route to Toledo and than was cut off. Richard turned on the overhead light so he could better see the map.
"Thanks" he said.
He looked at the map for about two minutes and than put his hand to his face and held it there. He rubbed his eye and a quiet sniffle come out of him.
Then Richard looked over...and saw.
He was crying. That wasn't rain water on his cheeks. Those were tears. The boy looked toward Richard and saw that he had seen him crying. He turned out the overhead light in an attempt to hide his tears, turned and started looking out the side window. Nothing was said right away, but then the sound of a sniffle could be heard again. "Is everything all right?" Richard finally asked.
He didn't answer. He just starred out the window. Again, the question was asked. "Are you OK?"
The boy turned to Richard after another long silence and said, "It's OK, don't worry. I'll be all right."
That's when Richard saw the blood........
His right cheek, high up by his cheek bone, was cut open and a small amount of blood was still dripping down the right side of his face. He put his hand up to his cheek to hide the cut and turned away.
"What happened to your cheek?" Richard immediately knew he shouldn't have asked. This kid was obviously very embarrassed by his present condition. Richard kept a towel in the back seat to wipe up any spills in the car, so he reached over, grabbed the towel and held it out to the boy. The boy took the towel and held it to his face. After a moment like this, he lowered his head into the towel toward his lap and started to cry again. This went on for about another minute. As the sobs began to lessen, he looked at Richard and said, "Mister, I'm sorry. I just can't seem to help it."
Sorrow filled Richard. Just by the way he did or said things, by the words and voice inflections he used told Richard he was probably a good kid who was in trouble.
"Do you want me to take you home?"
"No......No, that's okay."
The boy shook his head slowly, and then said, "I can't go home."
"Is something wrong?"
"Does your mom or dad know where you are?"
"My mom died about three years ago."
"How about your dad?"
Suddenly he turned toward Richard and in a loud voice with more emotion than the boy had shown all night said, "I can't go home because my DAD is the one who hit me. He threw me out of the house tonight."
END OF PART 01
PART 02 - CORY
Anger began to fill his whole being. He was a father. "How can someone do this to his kid." "I've never been able to understand some people who have children and then forget them. What was it that this kid could have done?" Richard thought to himself. He was becoming furious.
The car was approaching Richard's exit, but he felt that he couldn't leave this kid on the street this late at night in the condition he was in. His anger began to subside and was being replaced with a real desire to help him. But, he wasn't sure what to say or what to do.
"Are you hungry? Have you had anything to eat?"
"It's ok. I had a big lunch."
"I think you might need to get some food in you. It'll at least make you feel better."
Richard pulled off the interstate in search of a MacDonalds. He didn't think the boy wanted to go into a restaurant and face other people right now. A "drive thru" would be better. He spotted a MacDonalds and pulled into the drive thru lane. "Welcome to MacDonalds. Can I take your order" came from the box outside the drivers window. Richard turned to him and said, "What's your pleasure?"
"Just a quarter pounder, small fries and a small sprite."
Richard gave the box his order and added a quarter pounder and a coffee for myself. They picked up their food, pulled into an open parking space and turned off the engine. They both ate slowly and Richard could tell that the boy was having trouble chewing his food. It was obvious that he was in pain as he tried to eat. He finished it all though which meant he was hungry.
"What's your name?"
"Cory. Cory Anderson"
"My name is Richard, but people just call me Rich. How old are you Cory?"
"15, but I'll be 16 in two months."
The subject was approached again. "Can I ask you what happened to you tonight?"
"Mister....Rich. Thanks for the food. I really was a little hungry." He didn't seem to want to tell Richard what had happened.
They sat in silence for another minute or so.
When the boy again spoke his voice was open and had lost any sign of defensivness. "Rich, I don't know what to do. My dad threw me out, and I just wanted to get as far away from here as possible."
"What did you do that was so terrible. Your dad is probably out looking for you. I'm sure he's sorry."
"No. You don't know him. I hate him. I always have. He's beat me most of my life."
"So, what happened tonight?"
"He had been drinking again today. He works from 3 in the morning till noon and is off the rest of the day. He drinks almost every day. When I got home from school, he was waiting for me. He wanted to know about this letter that I had written to a friend of mine. Mike was my best friend all through grade school, but he moved away last year. We write often and can talk to each other about anything. My dad was holding this letter that I was going to send to Mike but it wasn't finished yet."
"Was it something in the letter?"
"Yes. I told you that Mike and I can talk about anything to each other. Well.....I don't know how to say this and I hope that you don't get mad at me.........."
"Cory, I won't get mad at you. What is it?"
"I told Mike that I.......that I think I might ......might be gay."
"Your dad had a problem with that?"
"My dad was put in jail once for attacking a man that he thought was a fag. That's what he calls them....fags. I just couldn't tell him or talk to him about myself."
Rich's heart went out for this boy. He wanted to cry but held it back. Rich's eyes were starting to mist when he started the car.
"Do you have any place to go tonight?"
"I don't have any family here, but I do have an aunt living in Florida."
"Why don't you stay at my place tonight? We can get this mess straightened out tomorrow."
"Mister.....Rich, you don't have to do this. You've already helped me get out of the rain and thank you for dinner, but...."
"Cory, don't say anything more. I live alone and have a spare bedroom. You're not old enough to be doing this...trying to hitch hike to Florida....and you need a place to stay tonight."
"Thank you" was all he said.
Cory sat back on the car seat and rested his head. His eyes were open looking up, but he wasn't really seeing anything. He was deep in some thought, probably remembering his day.......and what a day it's been.
Rich guided the car into the garage and closed the garage door with the remote. Cory got out of the car and was looking around when Rich said, "Come on, this way." They walked into the mud room at the back of the house. It's a two story house with family room, kitchen, living room and dining room downstairs. Upstairs are a bathroom and three bedrooms, but one of the bedrooms has been turned into an office. "My daughter uses the other bedroom, but now she has an apartment up at college. I suspect that she won't be back as she's engaged to be married when she graduates in a couple of months." Out back is a large deck with a gazebo and hot tub. Rich spends a lot of summer time out there. It's secluded because of the hedges that shield the yard from the neighbors.
"Would you like to take a shower before going to bed?"
"Ya....I think I need one."
Rich led him upstairs to the bathroom and got out a towel. The bathroom has two doors, one to the hallway and the other to Rich's bedroom. "You can get out of your clothes in the bathroom and throw them out to me through that door when you're done. I'm going to put them in the washer. I don't know how to get out the blood stains, but the rest should be ok."
Cory closed the door and shortly afterwards the sound of water starting to hit the tub bottom could be heard. Shortly after, the door to Rich's bedroom opened just a crack and out came his pants, tee shirt and socks. Than the door closed. Rich assumed his tennis shoes were still in the bathroom. He thought he was in the shower when the door again opened. But this time it was opened all the way, He tossed out his underwear to the middle of the bedroom floor. For a moment he stood in front of Rich completely naked. Cory is a very good looking boy. About 5'-10" tall and about 160 lbs. His face is very smooth with deep blue eyes. His build is that of a swimmer, strong legs, narrow waist, well developed chest and strong shoulders. He looked better developed than any 15 year old Rich had seen before. His hair was indeed black with slate highligts and was matched in color by the mound of pubic hair just above his penis. Rich couldn't move. He must have been in a trance. He just stood there looking at Cory as he closed the door and got into the shower. Rich's heart was now pounding. "What is happening to me." he thought. "I'm not gay", but the sight of his body was triggering some kind of emotion within him. "I don't think I understand it, but maybe I really do." He kept the image of his penis in my mind...all 3 1/2" of it. He wondered how long it would be when he had a woody.
Rich's bisexuality had been hidden from not only his family, but himself as well. He had played the role so well taught him by society, that even he had a hard time knowing who or what he really was half of the time. But tonight, things were starting to change for Richard. This was the beginning of his emergance as a whole human being again.
Rich broke away from his thoughts and went to check on the bed. It needed clean sheets, so he got some out and proceeded to make his bed. Then he went down stairs to put his clothes in the washer. On the way he picked up his bag to see if Cory had any other clothes that needed washing. The bag was almost empty. The only things in the bag were a pair of worn sneakers, white (almost gray now) tube socks, white (gray again) tee shirt, gray flannel gym shorts and a jock strap (yellowed). They must have been in his gym locker at school. So he tossed the whole works in the washer and turned it on.
Upstairs, he heard the water shut off. Rich headed upstairs again, but on the way he grabbed an extra tooth brush. He knocked on the bathroom door and said, "I have an extra tooth brush here if you need."
"Thanks, man. I really had to leave home in a hurry and didn't really get to pack.
The door opened only a crack and he pushed the tooth brush in. Cory's hand closed on it. And as Rich felt the touch of Cory's hand. his heart jumped again at the touch. "What is it about this boy?" he thought. He was rather confused but again tried to put it out of my mind for now.
Rich realized that Cory had nothing to wear. All his clothes were in the washer and none of Rich's would fit him. He was 6'-0" and about 180 lbs. with a waist 33." "Cory's waist is probably about 29" or 30", Richard thought. Rich had a dark blue terry cloth robe that he put on when going from the hot tub to the house (He always skinny dipped in the hot tub), so he grabbed it for Cory. Cory came out of the bathroom wearing the towel wrapped around him as he stepped into Rich's bedroom. He looked good! His hair was now clean and sparkled. There was no fat on this boy. He was lean and smooth. What little hair he did have was on his forearms and legs. It was a soft brown color. Rich handed him the robe. Cory looked around, Rich could tell that the boy didn't want to remove the towel in front of him to put on the robe. Rich turned his back to him and walked across the hall to Cory's bedroom.
"You can sleep in here. I've put new sheets on the bed for you."
Rich looked around to see that Cory had followed him into the other bedroom. He was now wearing the robe. He walked over and sat on the bed. He looked up at Rich and just focused onto Rich's eyes. He didn't say anything, but Rich could see his blue eyes start to get cloudy. His eyes had a longing in them that told him that this boy was not all right. There was pain there. There is more than just his dad beating him and throwing him out. Rich felt he wanted to...no, needed to protect him from any more pain. He walked over toward him and sat next to him on the bed. As he sat down, Cory turned to him and said, "I don't know why you're doing this. Why you're being so good to someone you don't know yet, but all I can say is thank you."
Just then the tears welled up and his arms shot out and around Rich's neck. He pulled Rich toward him and started to cry. Rich held him like it was meant to be. He was crying along with Cory, he don't know why. This was a very emotional moment. Cory was opening up to him like he needed someone to love him....really love him and for someone he could love. Rich had known Cory for about 2 1/2 hours. "All I did was get him out of the rain, feed him, give him a place to clean up and a place to sleep." he thought to himself. There was more to this boy than Rich had thought. Something was missing in his life, and he wanted to find out what.
"I'm sorry Rich. I didn't mean to get blubbery. I guess I'm pretty strung out."
"Why don't you get some sleep Cory?"
Rich laid him back with his head on the pillow. He pulled a blanket over him and looked into his eyes again. "Get some sleep now. Let's talk in the morning." With that Cory closed his eyes. Rich stood looking at him for another moment then turned off the light and left the room.
He wasn't very sleepy after witnessing the outpour of emotion in his room. He went downstairs to think. As he walked through the kitchen he noticed Cory's wallet sitting on the counter. Rich had taken it out of his jeans just before he started to wash clothes. He opened it. Cory had no money and didn't have a drivers license yet, but there was a school ID and another identification card in the wallet. The second card had his address and telephone number on it. Rich wrote them down on another piece of paper and stuck it in his wallet. It was late, but he told myself that Cory's father had a right to know where his son was and that he was all right. He picked up the telephone and dialed the number hoping that he was home. He knew that Cory's dad went to work around 3 am and was probably sleeping now. The phone rang five times before it was picked up.
"Hello, is this Mr. Anderson?"
"Ya. What do you want?"
"My name is Richard Mathews."
A moment of silence followed.
"I picked up your son Cory this evening. He was hitch hiking along the road."
"Well I thought that you might want to know where he is."
"Listen, I don't care where the little shit is. He can be in hell for all I care."
This shocked Richard. He wasn't sure what he was hearing.
"Mr. Anderson, I wanted to tell you that he's all right. I'm letting him sleep at my place tonight and will bring him back tomorrow."
"You one of his faggot friends? Don't you dare bring him here. I don't want to see his faggy ass anywhere near me. Is that understood?"
With that the phone went dead. He stood holding the receiver for a few moments trying to comprehend what he had just heard. When he finally hung the phone up, he was convinced that he would never return Cory to that bigoted piece of white trash. He didn't know if what he was doing was legal. He was not his guardian, but he didn't want to send Cory home to someone that didn't want him.
He put Cory's clothes in the dryer, set the timer and went to bed.
END OF PART 02
PART 03 - CORY
The next morning the sun was already up when Rich awoke. He looked at the clock on the stand next to his bed and it told him that he was late for work. It was already 8:00. He laid back down to collect his thoughts about the day when it hit him. He jerked straight up in bed. He had remembered that there was someone else sleeping in the house. He got out of bed and looked out the door across the hall. Cory's door was still closed, and he assumed he was still sleeping. He would let him sleep because he probably needed it, he thought to himself.
Rich stepped into the bathroom to take his morning shower. As he showered and shaved, he decided to call his office and tell them he wouldn't be there for a day or two. "Nice to own the company so you can do this." he thought. He dressed in jeans, tee shirt and deck shoes. When he arrived down stairs to get himself some coffee, he found that Cory had already been there. Sitting on the counter was a hot cup of coffee, a spoon, the bottle of milk and some sugar.
"I didn't know if you took cream or sugar in your coffee so I got them both out just in case."
Rich turned to see Cory coming around the corner from the family room. "No, I just take my coffee black. How do you feel this morning? You were a little strung out last night."
"I feel great. I guess I really needed the sleep. I was out like a light and didn't wake up until I heard you get in the shower this morning."
"I called your dad last night."
Cory turned to Rich and just starred. The silence was so loud Rich's ears hurt. Tension in the air shot up.
"I thought that he had a right to know where you were and that you were all right."
"You shouldn't have done that."
"I had to."
"Look, you were nice to me, and I thought that you might care but guess I was wrong. I'll just be on my way."
"Cory, shut up and listen to me. I had to call your dad. I'm not your legal guardian, and you can't stay here without his permission."
"Well, did he give it?"
"You don't want to go back to him do you?"
"NO! I don't ever want to see him again."
"Last night you touched my heart. When I held you in my arms I was crying right along with you. I made a vow that I would try to help you if I could. I want you to stay here."
"I'm sorry.....(pause)..man, I keep saying that to you. I'm just one fucked up kid. I thought that you were going to bring me back to my dad. I got scarred and mad........Do you really mean it? I mean can I stay here?"
"Last night I was going to bring you back to your dad. But after I talked to him, I realized that that would be the wrong thing to do. That would only hurt you more. So I decided that you should stay here, if you want to. So the anwser is yes, but I need to work on this legally. I guess we don't want your dad coming in and trying to take you back now do we. I also have a set of rules that you have to follow just like any other parent would have."
He could see the tears returning to Cory's eyes. But this time there was no pain. Only pure joy and maybe a sense of freedom. The smile was a mile long across his face.
"First, no drugs. Second no alcohol, Third, you've got to go back to school, and I mean getting good grades in school too."
"I've seen what booze does to my dad. I'll probably never touch the stuff. I don't smoke regularly. I mean I've tried it a couple of times."
"What school did you go to?"
"Plymouth High. I actually like school, but my grades may not show it."
"Do you have many friends there?"
"Not anymore. Mike was my best friend...I told you about him last night...but he moved away. I guess I really don't have any close friends left."
"Do you have a girlfriend?"
Cory looked down at the floor. As he looked back up he said, "No, I don't have a girlfriend."That's why my dad beat me and threw me out...........he found out that I was thinking that I'm gay. I guess he wanted nothing to do with me. I don't want to be!. I want to be normal like everyone else! I guess I'm ashamed of myself for what I've become. Mike listened to me. He knew."
Rich could feel the hurt return to Cory's voice. Cory's emerging sexuality seemed to be a big part of his problems. Rich wasn't sure that he wanted to continue with this line too far until he knew more. There may be time later.
"Let's talk about that later, Cory. First thing, I want to get you to a doctor to look at your face."
"I don't have a regular doctor. Dad always thought they were a waste of money."
"We'll go to mine. Your clothes are still in the dryer, so I'm afraid they're not ironed yet. Hop down there and get them and get dressed. I'll call and see if we can get an appointment today." Cory headed down into the basement to get his clothes, and Rich picked up the phone.
He was able to get an appointment for 30 minutes from the time he placed the call. As they walked into the waiting room, the receptionist called out, "Mr. Mathews?"
"Dr. Stone is expecting you. Please come with me. Oh, and here, you can fill out this form while you wait for him."
She led Cory and Rich down a hall to an examining room. As she closed the door behind them, she looked over at Cory. Rich could tell that she had noticed the bruises on his cheeks and probably was wondering if Rich had anything to do with them. Rich just looked at her as she closed the door.
Cory didn't say anything while they waited. Rich could tell he was nervous as he kept squirming. While Rich filled out the form, he'd walk around the room looking at the posters on the walls about not smoking and birth control. Within ten minutes Dr. Fred Stone walked in.
"Good to see you Rich. How's business been."
"It's actually been pretty good the last two years. My retirement looks pretty good too about now."
"Well what can I do for you? Is this Cory?"
"Cory, meet Dr. Stone. Dr. Stone, this is Cory Anderson."
"Have a seat on the bench here. Let's take a look." Rich had known Dr. Henry Stone for almost 20 years, and he had been his physician for almost all of that time. Dr. Stone liked practicing family medicine as opposed to specializing. He was a strong believer in families.
After a few minutes Henry looked up and said, "Cory, I think I'd like to get an x-ray of your jaw. There might be a small fracture that I want to check out." He led Cory out of the room and as he went through the door, he turned to Rich and said, "Please wait. I need to talk to you a little bit more."
He waited for Dr. Stone to return knowing exactly what he was going to say. He walked back into the room without Cory, closed the door rather slowly, obviously trying to put on his serious side.
"Who did this? That boy has been beaten by someone bigger and stronger than another teenager. God, I hope it wasn't you."
"No. It wasn't me. I think his father did it, but I only have Cory's side of the story."
"Did you see his back?"
"He still has welts on both sides of his back. Also some scarring tells me that this has been going on for some time."
"No, I only saw his face. How bad is it Doc?"
"Oh, Cory will heal. He'll get better, and probably with no physical damage if he keeps away from what caused this. I'm not too sure about any mental damage." After a short pause, Henry softly said, "You know I have to report this." as a statement rather than as a question.
"I know. But, how long can you hold off?"
"Where is Cory staying now? Is he going back to his father?"
"He stayed with me last night. I need some time to talk to Mark." Mark was Rich's attorney. Henry, Mark and he had played golf once a week for over five years now so Henry knew who Rich was talking about. "I want to find out about getting Cory away from his father."
"Well if he's staying with you, than I guess I can be sure that this won't happen again. But eventually, Cory has to go back to his father unless he's put away. You keep me informed of what's happening to Cory. If there's a chance that he's going back to that man, I have to step in."
"Thanks Henry. I'll let you know what Mark has to say."
Cory returned and Henry left them to wait for the x-ray to be developed. "What'd you talk about while I was gone?" Cory asked Rich as soon as Dr. Stone had closed the door.
"We talked about where you got your bruises. He also told me that this has been going on for awhile. Last night was not the first time that this happened to you, is it?"
Cory didn't answer, but just stood there looking at him.
Dr. Stone returned with an x-ray in his hand. He looked at it and said that there were no fractures and that Cory could go. He wrote a prescription for some pain killers in case Cory had trouble moving his jaw while eating or talking. Henry and Rich shook hands and made another date for golf next week. As they left the back office area and returned to the waiting room, the receptionist asked for the form back. Rich handed it to her and turned to leave. She called out after him and asked, "What's the name of the patient. You didn't put it down here." Rich turned back to her and said, "Cory.....Cory Mathews."
When Cory and Rich got back in the car to head out, Rich picked up the cell phone and called Mark to ask to see him. He told Cory that he wanted him to stay at home until he could get back from his meeting.
Cory was watching television when Rich returned from Mark's office. He walked into the family room and said, "How about some lunch. Let's go out and get a good meal and then I think we need to go shopping for some clothes for you. I didn't think you wanted to go back to your dad's to pick up anything. If you have anything that you really need back there, we can work on it. But for now, let's make a clean break from your past and look forward to your new future."
"Major cool. I was wondering how long this tee was going to last. Most of the clothes I have are getting worn out. I have a picture of my mom and one of Mike that I would like to have though. And yeah, I could eat a horse about now."
They headed toward the mall. Cory said he would like to eat after shopping, so they walked into Hudson's first. Cory was like a five year old in a candy shop. Rich let him pick out his own clothes as he was better acquainted with the styles today for a teenager than he was. Cory tried on shirts, pants, shoes, jackets and even a brightly colored pair of speedo swim trunks. He picked out two more pairs of pants other than jeans and headed for the changing room. After a few moments, he stuck his head out and asked for Rich to come in and have a look at the pants. He felt a little foolish going into the changing room with a 15 year old, but Cory wanted to show him. He had on a black pair of pants that seemed to be a little too tight in the waist.
"Think they're too small for me?" Cory asked.
"Looks like you could use a larger pair. How big is your waist?"
"I used to be a 29 but probably now 30. This pair is a 29, but I brought in this other pair. It's a 30."
Cory unzipped the front of his pants and started to take them off. Under the pants, he was wearing the speedos. The color of the speedos was mostly a bright orange with some blotches of purple and green. The colors were so bright Rich almost had to close his eyes. "Cory, why are you wearing those? You cant wear them out of the store without paying for them."
"Oh, I wasn't going to do that. It's just that I like the feel of speedos. I just kept them on while I was trying on the rest of the clothes. He reached for the waist band of the speedos and put his fingertips inside of the band. He started to lower the trunks right in front of Rich. He let them drop to the floor around his ankles. He stepped out of them with one foot and used to other foot to pick the speedos up and then grabbed them with his hand. Again Rich was awe struck at just how beautiful this boy was. Cory looked at Rich as Rich slowly turned around to give him a little privacy. "Hey, man. That's ok." he said out of nowhere. He must have sensed Rich's embarrassment at his pulling down the speedos. Cory put his underwear back on. They finished buying the clothes Cory needed and then headed for the Burger King located at the center of the mall.
It was probably around 3:00 when they finally sat down to eat. Most of the lunch crowd was gone by now, and they were seated by themselves at a window booth looking out on the mall's interior. Cory was watching Rich as they ate in silence. Every time Rich looked up he could see Cory's eyes move away from him. "Are you staring at me Cory?" he asked.
"I'm sorry...............It's just that..that you've done more for me in the last 18 hours than my dad ever did in the last three years. Where do people like you come from? I was starting to think that my teachers were full of crap and that there were no good people left."
"Cory. I don't know what you've been through, but I hope that I can make the bad part stop. Yes, your teachers are right. There are a lot of good people out there. Most people are naturally good people. Some a little different than others, but generally good inside."
"You sure are."
"Thanks. I like you very much. You're a neat kid. But Cory, can we talk about your father a little?"
"What do we need to talk about him for?"
"Because we need to. The meeting that I had with my attorney this morning gave me an idea. How would you like to move in permanently?"
"I thought I did."
"No, I mean legally binding so that I would become your guardian?"
"You'd do that for me?"
"If you want me to."
"Oh man, would I. You mean like you'd be my dad or something?"
"Not exactly your father, but your legal guardian. It would be like I was your foster father."
Cory's eyes started to mist again. His emotions seem to be just under the surface. "Rich......I...ah...I haven't had a real dad for a long time. If you would be my dad.....I mean foster dad or whatever......" A tear started to roll down his right cheek over the scar that was beginning to form. Cory took Rich's left hand into his own two hands and said, "I mean....mean yes....yes I would."
Cory needed a family so much. He had been without a family for the three years since his mother had died. Some say that his father had something to do with his mothers death.
"Cory, my attorney is going to be filing for an injunction today that will keep your father away from you. In the meantime, he is pursuing having civil charges brought against him. What he did to you is against the law. He deserves what he gets. Also he is working on having you placed in my care until Health and Human Services can have you properly placed as a foster child..... Get this, I'm calling a 15 year old almost adult a child." Cory chuckled a little at that. "Anyway, most kids need both a mother and a father. You've had neither for the last 3 years. After some discussion with the Health and Human Services people, they agreed that you probably need a father more than ever now that your 15. It looks like things might work out for us....son"
This did not go unnoticed. Cory's eyes shot up and looked straight at Rich. The warmest smile settled in on his face. "Thanks..........dad." Cory replied.
END OF PART 03
PART 04 - CORY
As Cory and Rich left the mall, Rich noticed a little more spring in Cory's walk. Cory seemed truly at peace with himself. However, the next thing Rich needed to talk to him about was school. He decided to open the conversation on the way home. As trey pulled out of the parking lot, Rich said, "Well Cory.....so what classes in school are your favorites?"
"I guess I like science and math the most."
"Well not really. I like most of the things I'm taking, but I'm a little behind."
"Not doing enough homework?"
"My dad....I mean my old dad....was usually asleep when I was home at night. I tried to finish my work, but sometimes I just didn't. Sometimes I just didn't want to do it. Sometimes I just forgot."
"Remember, one of my rules was that school work has to be more important than playing. You're big enough now to have seen that the people who matter in this world usually have a good education."
"What do you do?"
"I own a medium sized manufacturing company. We manufacture mostly small electronic components for the auto industry."
"Whoa.....you own your own company?
"Ya. Lots of hard work, but it's paying off."
"Did you go to college?"
"Had to. Only way to get the education I needed to be someone."
"So you got a degree in business or something?"
"Actually, I got my first degree, my Bachelor's Degree, in Electrical Engineering. I continued and got a Master's Degree in Business Administration."
"Must of taken forever."
"Well it seemed like it at the time. I was 24 years old when I got out of school with my MBA. But over the past 20 years since then, it doesn't seem so long. You've got to remember that after school, you've got a lot of time left to make up for your school time. It's better to live a good life for the 60 or so years that you have left than a poor one."
"That makes some sense. I never thought about it like that. I guess I've always known that an education is important, but I wanted to get it over with as soon as possible."
"Can I do what you did?" he added.
"No, you do what you want and are good at. Don't follow someone else's path."
Cory sat in the front seat of the car and thought about that. He looked up when he felt the car start to turn into another parking lot.
"Where are we? Hey, that's a school."
"Yup, It's called your new school. What do you think?"
"Looks weird. I don't see any kids out."
"Dah...that's because they're in class now dummy. Come on......We need to see the principal."
"Does he know we're coming?"
"When I was with Mark, my attorney, this morning, we also called the school."
They walked across the parking lot and approached the front door. The principal's office was easy to find as there was a sign pointing to it just as we entered the building. Carl Bettler was in his office, but was getting ready to go home when we got there. "Mr. Bettler?" Rich said and stuck out my hand.
"You must be Mr. Mathews. And this must be Cory. Please come in."
As They walked into the principals' office, Rich said, "I'm sorry we're late, but Cory needed a few things before he could start school." Rich turned to Cory, lowered his head and said to him, "like something to wear." emphasizing the work WEAR." Cory grinned as he understood the reference to speedo swim truncks. Cory had also bought some underwear so he wouldn't have to wear his speedos.
"Mr. Mathews, I've already contacted Plymouth High to get his records sent here. However, we can't officially accept him here until the foster family situation is also official. I took the liberty of calling your attorney back this afternoon. He says that it's only a matter of days. The weekend starts tomorrow, and he hopes that by Tuesday it should be all set."
"Thanks Mr. Bettler. I find it hard to believe how fast things are working."
"I've been through this before Mr. Mathews. When it comes to the safety of a child, sometimes the system can move quickly. Not always, but we try. You want to see the school Cory?"
"I guess so. Do you have a swim team here?"
"Actually, our boys swim team made regionals last season. You swim?"
"I was on the team in Plymouth. I'd like to continue."
"I bet you'll find a place here." said the principal as we headed down the corridor. Mr. Bettler showed them where the gym was as well as the cafeteria, theater, swimming pool, locker areas, offices and some classrooms. He didn't know what classes Cory would be starting in as he hadn't seen his record yet. Actually he informed them that the staff councilors were the ones who were going to look at his record and try to place him.
It was now about 6:00 and they headed for home. As soon as they got in the house, Cory ran upstairs to his room. Rich was a little curious as to what he was up to. He followed him upstairs and peeked around the door. Cory was taking his new clothes out and putting them away in the empty dresser next to the bed. As Rich walked in he said, "Think it'll all fit in there?"
He looked at Rich and said, "We didn't buy that much.......dad."
It was strange to hear. Rich's daughter still calls him dad, but it wasn't the same. Than it hit him. Ya....it's not the same coming from a daughter as it is coming from a son. He never had a son. It appears that he does now .
"You know Cory, I think I like the sound of that."
After dinner Rich asked if he wanted to watch a movie. "No" Cory said. "Actually, I was hoping to climb in your hot tub. I saw it out there today when you were off with your attorney. It looks cool dude. You use it often?"
"Every night. OK, let's go"
Rich walked upstairs and turned into his bedroom. He started to get undressed to get ready. Cory followed him into his room and saw that Rich was starting to undress and quickly turned around and headed to his own room. Rich usually used the hot tub without any swim gear, and tonight would be no exception. He put on my robe and headed to the hallway. Rich peered into Cory's room as he was pulling the last part of his speedos up. Rich frowned. Hmmmm. He turned around and went back to his room. When he returned a few seconds later, he had his wife's old robe. It was a dark blue terry cloth robe just like his, but one size smaller. As he handed the robe to Cory, he said, "The back yard is pretty private and no one can see in the gazebo with it's smoked windows. I don't wear any swim trunks in the tub."
"Oh" he said a little quizzically as he put on the robe. Rich turned and walked out, but he heard him slipping off his speedos as he walked down the hall toward the stairs. Rich was filling a pitcher of water for them when Cory came down. Cory fell in line right behind Rich as he walked out the sliding glass doors in the family room and stepped out on the deck. It was now dark out, but the moon was almost full. It was a clear night and the stars filled the sky. The gazebo has a large Plexiglas skylight that covers almost the entire roof. When they closed the doors, moon light shown in through the skylight and filled the inside of the gazebo. Rich took a hold of the cover and folded it back on itself. Cory than grabbed the other end and they lifted it off. Steam began rising from the hot water and began warming the air.
"Oh. I almost forgot. I'm going back in to turn on some music." Last summer Rich had installed speakers in the gazebo and had connected them to his stereo. He turned around and went back into the house. He found a light piece of classical music that was soothing and popped it in the CD player, turned it on, pushed the button to turn on the gazebo speakers and went back outside. When he got back inside the gazebo, Cory was already in the water on the other side of the tub in one corner facing him. His legs were stretched out in front of him with his arms hanging back over the sides of the tub. His head was back looking at the stars. He hadn't turned on the air yet (maybe he didn't know how or where the switch was) so through the tranquil water Rich could see that magnificent form again. The color of his skin was a tanish gray from the moonlight. Cory lowered his head and looked right at Rich.
"Nice music. I've always liked classical music, but don't get a chance to hear much of it. It's really soothing....could sleep here forever man."
Rich turned to take his robe off and hang it next to Cory's on the wall. As he turned back around, he could see Cory's eyes looking at him. Rich stepped over the side of the tub and started to sit down in the water on the same side as Cory was on but the other corner. They could see each other but because the speakers were on the side opposite of them, it was the best place to listen to the music. It was Rich's usual corner anyway as the air controls were just over the side at his fingertips. He turned on the air and small bubbles began rising all around them. Some came out in jets along the sides. Cory jumped slightly as he wasn't expecting it.
"Man, that's cool. Sort of tingly all over me." he said. They both sat there, looking at each other, not saying anything for a while. Rich wanted to go over and give him a hug, but was afraid of what Cory would think.
Neither of them spoke for a long time as they got used to the hot water. Rich looked over at Cory, and he seemed to be somewhere else. Cory's eyes seemed to be focused in the center of the room.
"What are you thinking about Cory?"
"I was wondering how things were going to change for me."
"Want to talk about it?"
After a short silence, Cory said, "You, dad and Mike are the only people that know I'm gay. I'm afraid that someone else will find out."
"How do you know you're gay, Cory?"
"I just do. I've known for almost three years, since I was 13. I've always seemed to like boys better than girls. I could never talk to them without feeling stupid."
"Many guys who are straight also feel that way, you know. Not everyone is a Casanova."
"No...I don't mean that way...I mean...well...I get turned on by guys."
Rich didn't know how to ask what he wanted to know. He fumbled with the words for a while and then finally just asked, "Have you ever had sex with a guy before, Cory?"
Cory again didn't look at Rich, but off in the distance for a while. Then he slowly turned to him and said, "I knew you might ask me that. Not really...I mean...no I haven't really had sex with a guy. Mike let me touch him once, but that's all I ever did."
"What did it feel like...I mean inside of your heart? What did you feel?"
Cory paused for a minute as if really thinking about his answer. "This is kind of hard to talk about with anyone else but you. Rich, I feel so comfortable with you. The way I felt? With Mike, it was the sexiest thing that I've ever done. I had a boner that wouldn't quit. But after a few minutes though, Mike asked me to stop. He said that it just wasn't for him."
"What happened then? I mean, did he get mad?"
"No...No...That was the weird part. Mike asked *me* not to be mad at him. I was so embarrassed."
"But, you and Mike are still friends though?"
"Oh yeah. He told me that he would never tell anyone about me, and that he still wanted to be my friend no matter what. Until you, Mike was the only one I could talk to about me."
"Cory, you've got a friend here too. Any time you need to talk...about anything...I will be here for you."
Just then Cory slid over toward Rich so that their thighs and hips touched. Rich felt an electric shock to his system. Cory turned and put both arms around Rich's neck, drawing him toward himself. He lightly kissed Rich's neck. Instinctively Rich put his arms around him and held him close. As Rich's body turned to embrace him, he knew that their penises would be touching soon. Cory put one hand on Rich's chest and started to move it around. Cory looked at Rich and said, "Can I touch you?"
Rich really wanted that...more than he could admit. But...this was not right. Cory was only 15, and Rich an old man to him.
"Do you really think that that's wise Cory?" he asked.
Cory just held on to him without moving.
Rich was now afraid. What had he done? What had he allowed to happen? He was consumed by fear. Rich couldn't get the thought out of him mind that he had just ruined the relationship Cory and he were developing. How could he have been so selfish? Rich had pushed the conversation around his sexuality and Cory's excitement was being transfered to him.
"Dad?..........can I call you that?....please.....I need to call you that"
"What" Rich answered softly.
"I'm so sorry....I don't know what to say. I shouldn't have done that."
"Cory, It was my fault. It's I who should be apologizing to you."
"No, I wanted to touch you. I wanted you close to me. I wanted to do this for you as much as for me."
Rich put his arms around Cory and hugged him. He heard a sniffle...than another. Rich looked down at him and saw the tears rolling down his cheeks. Rich looked straight ahead and said, "Maybe we both wanted this to happen." Then he heard the words that will ring in his ears for the next five years. "I love you."
Rich waited before answering.
"Cory, I love you too. More than you know."
Cory slept in his own room until late morning. Rich had to call him to get him moving before the day was lost. At about 11:00 Cory came downstairs. He was dressed in the new jeans that Rich had bought and a new brightly colored red tee shirt. His feet were still bare, and his walk was full of confidence. He sat down across from Rich at the dining room table where Rich was having another cup of coffee and trying to read the newspaper.
"Have any more coffee?"
"Plenty left. Get a cup and pour yourself some."
Cory returned and sat back down. Rich continued to read the paper.
"About last night..", Cory said.
Before he could finish, Rich cut him off be saying, "You don't have to say anything if you don't want to."
"I want to say this to you. I probably need to say this more than anything. Thirty-six hours ago, I was alone, cold and really didn't know where to turn. My dad had kicked me out for being gay. I didn't think about becoming gay. I didn't all of a sudden make a decision to be gay. I just am." He added softly. "When I told Mike the first time, he just starred past me for the longest time. And then he just said 'I know.' Without getting mad or anything. Mike knew that I was gay but never told me he knew. He accepted me."
"Cory, you don't have to explain to me. I accept you. I accept you for who you are. It really is OK. Last night, you may have made me open my eyes a little. I have been straight all my life, or at least I thought I was. I think that maybe you are going to help me understand my sexuality a little more. Cory...you're turning out to be someone very special to me"
"You're not upset with me?"
"Good God. No."
"I love you for who you are. I love you for accepting me for who I am. You don't look down on me."
With that, Cory got up and walked around the table, threw his arms around Rich and gave him a loud kiss on the cheek. Rich turned and gave Cory a kiss on his cheek also. They just looked at each other for the longest time. No words were being spoken, but their eyes were screaming of the love that was building between them. Cory's smile told it all.
END OF PART 04
It was Thursday night when Rich had met Cory. In just a few short days, he had moved into his house and by Tuesday afternoon, he was placed officially in his care as a foster child. Wednesday Cory was to start school, and he had to ride the bus that morning. Rich was up like any good parent should be to get him breakfast. Rich could tell that Cory was a little apprehensive that morning. He didn't know anyone yet, but Rich figured that he would make some new friends easily.
Rich fried some bacon and eggs for breakfast along with orange juice and toast. He figured a hearty breakfast would be just what the doctor ordered for a good start at Cory's first day in a new school. But Cory didn't eat much. He played with most of his breakfast.
"Nervous?" Rich asked.
"Yeah, a little."
"Don't worry. You'll be fine. Would you rather I drove you to school this morning?" The school was just outside of walking distance.
"Would you mind? I'm just a little nervous."
"Well, hop to. Let's get going."
They put the dishes in the dishwasher and left the house. Cory was silent as they drove the three miles to the high school. As they approached the school, Cory was watching out the window at everything. Rich pulled the car into the parking lot and stopped in front of the main entrance, and Cory sat there for a minute. At last he moved over to Rich, gave him a kiss on the cheek, and opened the door to leave.
"Cory, it's just a school. Don't worry, you'll meet some kids you'll like"
"I hope so."
"Know where you're going first?"
"Yeah. I'm prepared. See you tonight."
Cory then turned and walked into the building. He didn't look back and was soon inside and out of sight. For a moment it seemed that the school had swallowed him and was not going to give him back. Rich felt little pangs of remorse as being the the one that gave him up to the school.
Rich left work early that day to buy a special present for Cory. Cory didn't ride the bus at his old school, and really didn't want to ride one to his new school. Rich stopped in at a bike shop and bought him a new off road bike. It was sitting in the garage when Cory got home from school that afternoon.
The bus let him off two houses down from Rich's house, and as he got off the bus, he started to run toward the house. Rich was waiting for him on the front porch.
"How was school?"
"Well, I didn't make any new friends like you promised, but a few kids actually came up and talked to me."
"How was the bus ride home?"
"Busses suck, big time."
"Take a look in the garage. I think there's something in there you might like."
He looked at Rich with a quizzical look on his face and slowly turned and walked to the garage door. He opened it, stared inside, looked back at Rich, smiled and then ran into the garage.
"Is this for me? My old bike got wrecked last year. Wow!! This is so cool."
"I thought you might like this as a way to get to school instead of the school bus."
"Oh man, thanks a lot. I really mean it."
Cory ran over to Rich and threw is arms around me in a quick bear hug and then was out of the garage riding his new bike.
Cory and Rich would still go out to the hot tub every night after dinner. The second time that they went in the tub, Cory turned to Rich as they started to sit down in the water. But Rich put up his hand, as if to say "no." Cory was puzzled and confused. "Cory, it's not right."
"What do you mean?"
"Cory, I love you...very much...but I am so much older than you...this isn't right."
"Why should that make a difference?"
"Because Cory, you can't have a relationship with me, and I can't have one with you."
"But, I don't understand." Emotion was now entering into Cory's voice. "Is there something wrong with me?" Cory was now visibly distraught.
"Good God no, Cory...there's absolutely nothing wrong with you. There is so much that is right about you. But I want you to be able to find someone that you can love that's your own age. Someone that you can grow with together.
More to be written here
Need to resolve Cory's attachment to Rich as friend and respect not as lover.
END OF PART 05
PART 06 - CORY
One day as Rich arrived home from work, he couldn't find Cory. Rich assumed that he was out with one of his new friends. Cory had been in school for about three months now and had made two new friends. When Rich had a sixteenth birthday party for Cory last month, he invited his two new friends. Kevin was 16 years old and about the same height and build as Cory. His eyes were blue and he had very short yellow blond hair. Matt was only 15, but his birthday was coming up soon. He was about an inch shorted than Cory and had longer brown straight hair. He was heavier than Cory by about 15 or 20 pounds. He was muscular and didn't have too much fat on him...just stockier than Cory. Both boys were in many classes together with Cory and they soon became good friends. Matt, like Cory had just started school here. He had moved in from Southern California. Kevin had lived here all his life and really knew the ropes. Being the oldest he sort of took Matt and Cory under his wing to show them around. Both boys had both parents living at home and seemed to be well adjusted adolescents. Cory really seemed to like them (and thought that Kevin was quite cute).
Anyway, as Rich went to his room to change clothes, he noticed Cory's door was closed. As he walked past, he thought he heard a rustling sound. Rich knocked on the door and said, "Cory. Are you there?"
"You here Cory?"
Rish turned and went into his room to change, thinking that it was just his imagination. As he was pulling up and buttoning his 501's, he heard Cory's door open. Rich looked up to see Cory standing in my doorway. His hair was messed up, his eyes were swollen from crying, and his face was bruised.
"Cory! What happened to you?" Rich yelled as he rushed to him.
"I got beat up at school today."
Rich went over to him to look at his face. It was bruised pretty badly. "I think we may need old Doc Stone to look at you again. Come over and sit down. "
Rich sat down on the bed next to Cory, but he didn't say anything for awhile. Then he softly said, "Care to tell me what happened?"
By the expression on Cory's face and the look of his eyes, Rich could tell he was close to tears again.
"Please Cory, let me help."
Cory slowly began to speak. "Dad. It all started after I met Matt and Kevin. Kevin and I are in gym class together. A couple of weeks ago, after we changed into our shorts, we were talking about joining the swim team next year when practices start. I guess we forgot the time and stayed in the locker room too long. When we noticed that everyone was gone, we looked at each other and yelled, 'Oh shit" and ran out to the field. The rest of the class was choosing sides for a softball game when the coach noticed us running up there. The coach stopped us and gave us the riot act for being late. He said that we had to spend two days in after school detention for it."
"One of the other boys in my gym class is named Johnny. He's also the captain of the junior varsity football team. He thinks he's just about God's gift to all the girls in school. I'm sure he's had sex with about a dozen girls by the way he brags. Anyway, he starts giving Kevin and me a hard time about being late. He started saying that Kevin and I were just a couple of faggots playing with each other in the locker room, and that's why we were late."
"Does Kevin know about you or have you done anything with him?"
"Honest Dad. I've never touched Kevin. I do think he's cute and I like him a lot, but I haven't done anything with him. Kevin is straight."
"Just asking...go on son"
"Johnny kept it up on me and Kev for a long time. When we would go to the shower, I would try to be the first one in there because Johnny was always the last one in and the last one to leave. I just didn't' want to be in there with him."
"Dad, when you were in high school, did you have trouble with boners? I seem to get them almost anytime during the day."
"It's pretty common with young boys, you know?"
"I know Dad. Kevin and Mat and I have talked about it, and it seems that we're pretty normal. I just wanted to know if you had them too."
"Anyway, I was in the shower one day last week after gym class and in walks Johnny. I turned my back to him and he walked over to a free shower head on the other side of the shower room. As I was soaping up, I don't know what I was thinking, but I started to sprout a boner. I kept trying to think of something else, but my mind kept coming back to my boner. The more I tried to think about something else, the more I thought of what was happening to me. I really was scared that someone would see it, so I kept close to the wall with my back to the rest of the guys. Just then I heard Johnny yell out, 'Hey everybody. Look at Cory over there. He's got a boner. I always thought you were a faggot.' I was so embarrassed, I just wanted to leave. He was right. I was completely erect by then."
"What happened after that?"
"I was getting ready to run out when Johnny grabs my arm and spins me around. Now everyone can see me. And this is what really embarrassed me. He grabs my penis and pulls me out into the center of the shower. I almost stumbled and when he let me go, I fell to my knees. I just stayed there in the center of the shower with everyone looking at me. I was starting to cry cause I was so scared and embarrassed. Now I hear Johnny telling everyone that I'm a cocksucker and he starts pushing his penis at my face. I kept turning my head around, but he kept doing it. Then he pushes me away from him and I fell over. He tells me that the one thing he hates more than anything else in the world is queers."
"Dad. I was so scared I thought he was going to kick me right then when we heard the coach yell, 'All right. Break it up. Johnny, move over. Give Cory some room.' I got up and ran from the shower. I dressed even though I was still a little wet. I didn't wait for Kevin though I knew he was right behind me. I was too embarrassed to even talk to him."
"Remember when Kevin came over a week ago last Thursday to work on Geometry homework with me?"
"Yeah, I remember. I thought Kevin was a little nervous that night."
"He was. He wanted to talk to me about what happened in the shower at gym. When he came up to my room, he closed the door and sat on my bed. He didn't say anything for a while. Although Kevin and I hadn't spoken about it, I could tell that maybe he wanted to talk about it that night. Kevin asked me if I was too embarrassed to talk to him, and I said no, not any more. He wanted to apologize for not trying to help me. He felt bad for me, but was afraid to do anything. He felt really guilty that he didn't push Johnny away from me and stick up for me. I tried to tell him that there wasn't anything that he really could have done. Then something happened that really surprised me. Kevin put his arms around me and hugged me. He kept telling me that he was sorry for what happened to me. He was getting a little teary eyed too. Just then I realized what a good friend I had in Kevin. He really liked me."
"Kevin sounds like a good kid. I'm really glad that you met him."
Cory paused slightly than said, "But today, Matt, Kevin and I wanted to walk home from school. They live closer than I do, so they walk. So we started for Kevin's house. I was walking my bike. When we rounded the baseball field, there was Johnny standing with four of his friends. Kevin told me to not say anything and just walk by them. As we started to walk by, Johnny stepped out in front of us and his friends followed. Johnny just looked at me and then said, 'Cory, you little faggot, I'm going to kick your ass.' He stepped toward me, and I stepped back. Just then he pushes me. I stumbled backward, but I didn't fall. Kevin stepped forward and yelled at Johnny to leave me alone, and he pushes Johnny. Kevin steps between me and Johnny and just stands there. Johnny comes forward and punches Kevin in the face. Kevin fell down on his back and was holding his cheek. I think his nose was bleeding. I got really mad because Kevin was trying to stand up for me and got knocked down. I hit Johnny as hard as I could in the stomach. I swung again, but I missed him as he bent over. Then two of his friends grab each of my arms. I tried to get free, but they held me until Johnny caught his wind. Matt wasn't sure what to do, but he steps in to stop Johnny, but Johnny hits Matt in the cheek. Matt fell down when Johnny hit him the second time. Johnny started to come toward me, but Kevin laying on the ground was in the way, so Johnny kicks him as hard as he could in the ribs. Than Johnny hits me again and again. He's yelling at me and calling me names like queer and faggot. Matt eventually had gotten up and pushes Johnny out of the way. Matt and Johnny just stared at each other for a while. Matt was a little bigger than Johnny and said to him, 'If you make one more move, you're dead. Believe me Johnny. This is no joke.' I've never heard Matt so angry. Just then Johnny straightens up and his friends let go of me. I fell to the ground along side of Kevin. Blood was all over Kevin's face now. I was feeling really sick to my stomach. Johnny yells to me that if catches me again, he's going to kick my ass again, and every time he sees me. When they turn to walk away, Matt leans down and helps Kevin and me up. He tries to tell me not to worry, that he's all talk. I told Matt that this was some talk we just got."
"How is Kevin?"
"I took him home to his Mom. She was really scared when she saw him. The blood made it look much worse than it was. By the time he got home, his nose had stopped bleeding. So when he got cleaned up, he looked much better. His mom took him in the car to go to their doctor to see if his nose or ribs were broken or not."
Cory sat quiet for awhile as if trying to think about the words he was about to say.
"Dad, I really love Kevin for what he did....actually. dad, I think I really love Kevin."
Rich was thinking that when he heard those words, he was seeing his boy grow up and out of the house. Cory was the love of his life, and he was turning to someone else. But he realized that Cory needs friends of his own, his own age.
"Does Kevin know about you being gay yet?"
"No, I don't think so. I guess that I don't mind if he knows. But I don't want to ruin our relationship. What if he won't talk to me if he finds out?"
"Cory, it sounds to me that Kevin likes you more than just casually. He had the courage to stand up for you when a lot of people wouldn't."
"I know. And that's what confuses me. What if he likes me like I like him and he's also too scared to tell me? And what if he couldn't handle it if he knew I was gay? Dad, Kevin really has me confused. I don't know what to tell or not to tell him."
"Why don't you tell him the truth?"
Cory paused for a moment, thinking about what Rich had just said.
"I guess you're right.....I really should."
Cory put his arms around Rich and gave me a hug. they walked out of Rich's room together and headed downstairs to see what was in the fridge for dinner. Rich told Cory that he would fix something and that Cory should probably start his homework. Cory headed back upstairs, and Rich started thinking about him in earnest. Rich needed to be a parent more.
Just then the telephone rang, and Rich picked it up.
"Hi Mr. Mathews. Is Cory there?"
"Is this Kevin?"
"Sorry Kevin. I didn't recognize your voice. I heard about what happened this afternoon."
"Did Cory tell you?"
"Yeah, he did. I want to thank you for trying to help him. That was very courageous of you."
"I felt that I had to help Cory. I had to do something"
"I'll call Cory and tell him you're on the phone."
Cory came down about five minutes after he got on the phone with Kevin.
"Dad. Kevin's coming over. He says he wants to do homework, but I think he just wants to talk about this afternoon."
"How is he? Is anything broken?"
"His nose is OK, but he has a cracked rib."
"Maybe he shouldn't be moving around tonight."
"Naw, the doctor taped him up pretty good and said it was ok to walk around."
"OK, I'll send him up when he gets here."
Cory ran back upstairs to wait for Kevin, and Rich started a meat loaf for dinner.
END OF PART 06
PART 07 - CORY
When the door bell rang, Rcih went to answer it, but Cory was flying down the stairs to the front door. Just as he got there, he stopped for a minute so it wouldn't seem that he was too anxious to open the door. But Rich could tell he was. Cory opened the door slowly, and sure enough, it was Kevin. As Kevin walked into the house, Rcih could tell he was in a little pain from the cracked rib. His nose looked fine, but his eye had a purple ring around it.
"Geez, Kev, you look awful." Cory blurted out.
Kevin looked down at the floor. He was a little embarrassed.
"Cory! That's not what you should be saying to Kevin. Don't worry Kevin. Sometimes Cory says things he really doesn't mean."
"That's ok Mr. Mathews. I know Cory pretty well."
"Come on Kev. Let's go up to my room."
"Kevin, you can stay for dinner if you want. But we're only having meat loaf." I said.
"I'll check with my mom to see if it's ok."
With that Cory bounded upstairs, but Kevin took it really slow.
When Kevin closed the door behind them, Cory asked, "Well what happened
"Well, mom was really freaking out. She didn't think I should be fighting for any reason. I think she thinks that you or I might have started it somehow."
"Did you tell her why Johnny started it?"
"Hell no! You think I'm crazy or something?"
"Your dad know about the fight yet?"
"No He's working late tonight, but no doubt my mom will tell him all about it when he gets home."
"Kevin, I love you for what you did. Thanks man."
"When I saw him hitting you, I just had to try to stop him."
"Kevin. You're just about the best friend anyone could have. I'm so lucky to have you as my best friend."
"All I know is that I'm glad we became friends."
"Kev......I want to tell you something......Something that I've never told anybody at school."
Kevin just looked at Cory.
"I hope this doesn't make you mad or anything at me, but I need to tell you."
"What is it buddy?"
"Kev....as you're my best friend..I....ah...I need to be totally honest with you."
"Cory, you know you can tell me anything. Whatever you say is only between us."
"Well....ah...I...ah." And then Cory just blurted out, "You need to know that I'm gay."
Kevin didn't say anything for a while, but his eyes were getting misty. He looked away from Cory for a moment.
"I knew it! I knew it. I knew you'd hate me for it!"
"No Cory. That's not it."
"I'm sorry Kevin."
"No...Cory...listen to me."
"I came over here tonight to...to...to tell you that I'm gay. I've had a crush on you from the first day you came to school. I felt that you needed to know that about me too. After I told you tonight, I was sure that you'd throw me out."
"You? You're gay too?"
"I always thought you were straight. I was also worried about our friendship if I kept it from you."
"I went through the same thing. I was afraid to tell you, but I somehow knew that I had to tell you. My mom knows I'm gay and accepts it. She wouldn't let me tell my dad yet because she said he needs a little more time. She also knows how I feel about you. My mom was the one that told me that I should be truthful with my best friend. That somehow you'd understand."
"That's what my dad told me tonight."
"Your dad knows?"
"Yeah he knows, but...well he's not really my dad."
"What do you mean?"
"He's really my step dad. My real father threw me out a few months ago cause he found out I was gay. Rich Mathews found me along side of the road and took me in. He is the greatest person that I've ever met. I love him so much. Once you get to know him, you're gonna love him too"
"I wish my dad would understand me."
"He will. Just give him time."
"Yeah. That's what mom says too."
"I guess I've had a crush on you too, ever since we started school."
"I always thought you were the cutest guy in my gym class. You don't know how many times I wooded up in the showers from looking at you. I was so very lucky to not get caught."
"Like me, huh?"
"I didn't mean it like that."
"I know. Just kidding. But do you remember when I first met you? You know...when I changed lockers?"
"Yeah. What about it?"
"Well, the coach really did make me change lockers because they were going to be painting the inside of the lockers in my aisle that week. But...he didn't tell me which locker to take."
"What do you mean?"
"Well...I wanted to get to know you, so I chose the locker next to yours."
"Geez man. I thought that it was just my good luck that they put you there."
"Well...I helped it along a little. I really thought you were the cutest guy in my class."
"I think I'm the luckiest boy in the world to have found you."
"No. I think I am"
Cory reached over and tried to hug Kevin, but he yelped in pain.
"I'm so sorry! I'm sorry! Oh God I'm sorry. I forgot all about your ribs."
"I wanted to give you a hug too, but maybe we had better wait for awhile, OK?"
Knock Knock "Dinners ready boys."
Both boys looked at each other but Kevin had terror in his eyes. Cory said, "Ok, be right out." as Kevin started to scramble to push away from their embrace. But the door never opened. Cory knew that his dad would probably understand, but he realized that Kevin knew nothing of the special and loving relationship that he and his foster dad had. This would need to be explained, but not now. Now was time for dinner.
END OF PART 07
PART 08 - CORY
Matt was terrified. He couldn't get Johnny Hicks out of his mind. Matt had realized that he was gay when he was 13 years old. He didn't want to be and was afraid to admit it to himself. But at 14 he finally realized that this is the way he was going to be. When he was in the eighth grade and had to start showering with the other boys, he came to an understanding about his sexuality and that he definitely liked boys. Matt Hubble was from Southern California. He grew up there and only recently had moved to Michigan. His dad had gotten a new job in Dearborn as a computer programmer for Ford, and so, the family moved right in the middle of Matt's sophomore year in high school. Back in Redondo Beach in California, Matt had played out his homosexual experimentation with three other boys in his freshman year. It was mostly mutual masterbation. As his sophomore year began, the prospect of his sexual experimentation looked really bright. When he found out about the upcoming family move, he was a little frightened about the new town and the prospects of finding someone else like him. He had heard that the Midwest was far behind Southern California in their acceptance of homosexuals.
When he had started in his new school, he was immediately attracted to Johnny Hicks. He also thought that Cory Mathews was a close second. He had hoped that Johnny would look at him like he had looked at Johnny, but no such luck. Johnny was a bully, but Matt was not afraid of him. Matt was a few pounds heavier than Johnny and a lot faster. The fight between Matt, Kevin, Cory and Johnny the other day drove home to Matt a realization that Johnny hated gays and would hate Matt if he knew. The thought of the idol of his dreams being forever out of his reach scared him. He kept thinking that most people in this part of the country would be like Johnny Hicks.
He thought that Cory was real cute, Kevin was cute and both of them were straight as the proverbial arrow. No luck there. He had tried to be friends with Johnny. He would talk to him, try to sit with him at lunch and he even invited him home with him after school a couple of times. But Johnny just stuck to his redneck troop.
Being gay in this country is extremely difficult. But being gay and a teenager is an absolute nightmare. Just when you are finding out about your sexuality, you have to hide it. You hear the name calling, and you go further into the closet. You can't find any role models, anyone to talk to. Your isolation seems to grow and grow.
For awhile in California, Matt had toyed with the idea of coming out. He was planning on doing it by the end of his sophomore year, and was getting a lot of support from his friends in school. But he wondered how the move would change all that. Now he didn't know. However, the more he thought about trying to live a life in a closet, the more he really wanted to come out, even if it meant he had to do it in Michigan. All he needed to do was get up the courage to do it.
Matt finally came out to one of his female friends. Kelly was extremely supportive of his bold move, and vowed to help Matt with the rest of his friends. Kelly was such a caring person. It's a shame, thought Matt, that he wouldn't have sex with her, but he could still love her. Matt and Kelly decided that he should try to come out to his new male friends, Cory and Kevin, next. They both seemed to be open minded and caring people that he felt that they could accept him for what he was. Kelly wanted to be there and help Matt when he brought up the subject to them, but Matt thought that he should try it alone. Matt thought about the perfect setting for this to happen, but the opportunity never seemed to present itself. He had thought about saying something to them the day the fight happened, but he really wanted to tell Cory first..... and alone.
After dinner that night, Matt decided to call Cory. When the telephone rang, Rich picked up the receiver.
"Hello Mr. Mathews. Is Cory there?"
"He is, but we just finished dinner, and he's cleaning up. Can he call you right back?"
"Yes. Just ask him to call Matt. I'm at home."
"Is this the Matt that helped Cory this afternoon?"
"Oh. You heard?"
"It seems to be all over town."
"Ah, well.....yes I was with them this afternoon." Matt didn't know what Rich knew or what he thought about Cory being in a fight. He was afraid that Rich would blame him. Rich sensed that hesitation on the other end of the phone line, and added, "Don't worry Matt. I don't blame you. And Cory did tell me exactly why the fight started. Seems that there's a bully at your school that should learn a thing or two.
"Thanks Mr. Mathews. I'll be waiting for Cory to call."
"Who was that, dad?" Cory asked as he came into the family room after cleaning the dishes.
"Oh,..yeah...Matt wants you to call him."
Cory looked at Kevin. They had almost forgotten about Matt. They were so wound up in their own new found love that they had almost forgotten about the one person who had stopped the fight.
Kevin said, "I gotta get home Cory. Tell Matt thanks for me. I'll talk to him tomorrow."
Kevin walked out the door as Cory picked up the phone and dialed Matt's number.
"Hello." It was Matt.
"Hi Matt. It's Cory."
"Cory, you busy right now?"
"What's up buddy?"
"I need to talk to you."
"Is it about this afternoon?"
"Not really, but I would like to talk to you."
"What's it about?"
"I...I really don't want to talk about it on the phone....It's really important Cory."
"Ok...Sure. Come on over. I only have a little homework, but I can do it tomorrow."
"Thanks. I'll be over in about ten minutes."
"See ya then."
Cory was a little confused. The biggest thing that happened today was the fight, and Matt thought something else was more important to talk about???? Whatever it was, it was sure important to Matt. He sure sounded serious.
When the door bell rang, Cory opened the door to find Matt standing there. He invited him in. Rich said hello and ushered the boys upstairs so he could get some other work done.
Cory entered his room first, followed by Matt. Cory sat on the bed as Matt milled about the room. "So what's up dude?"
Matt didn't say anything for awhile.
"Come on, man. What's so all fired important with you tonight?"
Matt started to think that this was a bad idea to tell Cory now.
"Sorry Cory. I've had something on my mind, but maybe this isn't a good time."
"I'm sorry Matt. I guess I came off a little rude."
"Yeah, well you did a little."
"Something's really bugging you Matt. What is it? Maybe I can help."
"No Cory!....this is all wrong.....I don't need your help, Cory."
"Oh.....do you want to just tell me?"
"Cory, we've known each other for only a couple of months now, but I feel I can really trust you." Matt started to feel his insides open up and decided to just tell Cory. "What I'm saying is that you trust me by telling me the truth, and I want to trust you by telling you the truth."
Cory said nothing.
"We may not be 'best friends', but you're someone that I've somewhat looked up to. You seem to know where you're going."
"Well, that's not entirely true, Matt. I'm still just a kid."
"No Cory. You've got something about you that makes you special. That's why I want you to be the first male friend that I've told that I'm gay."
Cory couldn't believe his ears. Matt was so straight...or at least so he thought.
"I had to tell you. Can you understand?"
Cory still didn't say anything
"Cory, does this bother you?....I mean me being gay?"
Cory looked at Matt with a smile on his face and said, "Matt, you've got one hell of a lot of guts for a 15 year old."
"To come out to someone about being gay, especially in high school...well man that takes a lot of courage."
"So what do you think of me now?"
"How should I feel?"
"I still want your friendship Cory, even if this changes how we get along together."
Cory stood up, walked over to Matt and put his arms around him.
"Matt, how could I think anything differently about you when I'm gay myself."
Cory moved Matt away at arms length, but still held his upper arms in his hands.
"Kevin's my best friend, but did you know that I consider you my other best friend?"
"Well, I just came out to Kevin tonight."
"I didn't know, or even suspected that you might be gay."
"We hide ourselves good when we have to."
"Well, I just wanted your understanding about who I am."
"Matt, Kevin and I are going to be behind you 100 percent. If anyone gets you down, just call us. If you need anything, just call."
"What makes you so sure Kevin is behind you in this? He doesn't know about me yet."
"Well...I think he will be, because he came out to me tonight too."
Matt quickly sat down on the bed and looked up at Cory.
"This is too fucking much. My two best friends are fucking gay and I didn't even suspect. I guess this makes us three peas in a pod."
END OF PART 08
PART 09 - CORY
Over the next month, Matt, Kevin and Cory became even closer friends than before. The truth was out, at least between them. Matt understood that Cory and Kevin were not just gay but lovers. He wanted a lover too, but was still hesitant about finding one. Not too many other people knew yet. Matt's parents didn't know and Kevin's father still didn't know. A few other close friends at school knew, and the boys thought their secret was safe. However, dark clouds were forming over the horizon.
Matt had come out to five people in total. Cory, Kevin, Kelly, Shannon and Mark. He told his good friend Shannon, but as Shannon was dating Mark, it was obvious that Mark also knew. When Shannon told Mark, she also told him about Matt's crush on Johnny. They had a good laugh at that. Little did they know that Johnny was sitting around the corner and heard it all.
"That little pervert", thought Johnny. He had been taught by his dad that queers were bad people, sick and perverted. The country was going to hell in a hand basket because of these sick people. Johnny's hatred began to grow. How could that pervert do this to him? If anyone found out, than they might think he was one too. That he had egged Matt on. He just couldn't be labeled one of them. His whole life would be ruined. His loathing for Matt grew and grew until he thought that he was half crazy.
Matt could have cared less about Johnny now. He realized his mistake, but what the hey? He didn't know Johnny then. His world was starting to come together again after the move from California. He had four really great friends now who knew about his sexual preference and still whole heartedly accepted him as a person. Actually five if you counted Mark, but he was still a little standoffish. If the truth be known, almost 100 people at the school really knew about Matt...or suspected. Some didn't know him personally and didn't care. Some knew him personally and still didn't care. But many who did and many who didn't know him were not so caring. Fingers were pointed at Matt's direction with some giggles and some sneers. Most of the 100 or so kids just were a little afraid of Matt because they either didn't understand him or his way of life or were afraid to associate with him for fear of what might rub off on them. Kids can be so complex...and cruel. Cory knew most of the kids that knew about Matt, but he never told Matt. He didn't feel any love lost for them either. He just put them in a category with the rest of the homophobic population.
The three boys were walking home from school together one day when Cory got the bright idea of all three of them getting summer jobs together. Cory had started driving his bike to Kevin's house in the morning and leaving it there for the day. That way he could walk with Kevin and Matt to school. It was such a good day. Cory thought that the friendship he had with these two would last forever. They were just leaving the building areas and entering the back play fields. Lot's of kids were all about them heading in many different directions when they saw Johnny up ahead. He was standing still, feet slightly spread apart in that defiant tone just starring at the three some. Something didn't look right. Cory stopped first and then Kevin, but Matt hadn't seen Johnny yet and kept walking. Matt turned to his friends and said, "Hey, what's up?"
"Johnny's up ahead and I think he means trouble." said Cory. Matt stopped and turned around to look at Johnny. Johnny's eyes had been crying. The dust from the fields had outlined the tear streaks down his cheeks.
"MATT....YOU FUCKING PERVERT." Johnny screams. "What you been saying about me?" Everyone now stopped and watched the scene unfolding before them.
Matt just stood and watched Johnny.
"Answer me queer boy. What you been saying about me?"
"Ah...nothing...nothing really." Johnny was still about 50 feet away.
"Like hell you have."
Matt fell down just as everyone heard the sound of the shot. Disbelief shown on the faces of every kid and teacher present. 'What was happening?' Slowly the realization of Johnny standing alone holding a pistol in his right hand as Matt lay bleeding on the school playground came to focus in their minds.
But no one moved. It was like a picture out of a Life magazine - a moment of great action frozen in time.
The truth finally hit Cory. "Nooooooooooooooo!" he cried at the top of his lungs as he dropped to the ground to pick up his friend. The truth raced through him as he knew Matt was dead, but prayed it not be so. "Matt!...Matt!...don't be dead. Oh God, how did this happen? How?" He cried. Cory was crying openly, the tears streaming down his face as he held Matt close to his heart.
Cory looked up and saw Johnny still standing alone. No one was moving toward him to stop him. They were actually backing off. Hatred of Johnny, hatred of the school, hatred of his teachers, hatred of anyone in authority welled up in him and he bolted upright and started to run at Johnny with every once of energy that he could muster. Johnny saw Cory start to come at him and brought the gun up and took aim at Cory. Cory never saw the gun aimed at him. Johnny pulled the trigger. Misfire! Cory kept coming closer and closer, running toward him as fast as he could go. Johnny brought the gun down slightly and re-cocked the hammer. Just as he brought the pistol back to aim at Cory, Cory dove at Johnny and was inside of his arms as the shot erupted. The bullet went wild into the air as Johnny was knocked backward by the force of Cory's attack. The gun was knocked out of Johnny's hand.
Cory was in a rage. His rational being no longer existed. He hit Johnny again and again without realizing what he was doing. He realized that he was now being confined. His arms held....couldn't move anymore. His mind finally cleared as he began to calm down. He was being held by his gym coach and the school principle, Mr. Bettler. Johnny was being led away by some other teachers.
"Mr. Bettler....please...can I go see Matt?" pleaded Cory.
The coach let Cory's arm go and Mr. Bettler followed as Cory ran back to where Matt lay. Kevin was on his knees just behind Matt looking up in the sky. He was crying.
Cory knelt down next to his friend Kevin and put his arms around him and started to sob. They stayed that way for what seemed forever, not wanting to move, completely wrapped up in each others grief.
As Cory looked at Matt, someone spread a blanket over Matt's lifeless body. It was over. When he couldn't see Matt's body anymore, he knew it was over. He slowly got to his feet, extremely emotional and shaking like an old man trying to get up from the ground without his cane. The gravity of what had happened hit him like an on rushing train. Of all the people on that playground, Cory was the only one to realize the truth of how this could happen. He stood behind Kevin and screamed, "You are all to blame for this. Johnny only pulled the trigger. He was doing just what you all wanted. Everyone of you."
Mr. Bettler started to put his arm around Cory's shoulders, but Cory forcibly pushed his hand away. Cory just looked into Mr. Bettler's eyes with hatred for a moment and then turned away and started to run. Tears were still streaming down his face. He wanted to run forever, to get away from all of this, to not have had it happen.
Cory ran all the way home. When he got there, Rich was not home yet, and he sat on the curb in front of the house until he got home. When Rich drove up the street, he recognized Cory on the curb. His head was down between his knees, and he could tell something was not right. Cory never sat like this, alone on the street. Rich pulled into the driveway and stopped the car. As I stepped out of the car, Cory was running up to him crying "Dad. They killed him! They killed him!" as he threw his arms around him. He buried his head in Rich's shoulder and began sobbing.
Rich helped Cory into the house and they sat on the couch. Through sobs and starts and stops and more crying, Cory told Rich the whole story. This boy has seen too much, too much of this world. Rich didn't know how Cory was going to get through this. Prejudice and fear will be like and anvil around his neck for the rest of his life. Rich didn't know what to do. He wanted to lash out at the school, the town, our whole damn society for allowing this to happen.
Just then the telephone rang. Rich picked up the receiver on the side table without leaving Cory.
"This is Mr. Bettler. Is Cory there?"
"Yes, he's right here, but he's not going to be able to come to the phone."
"Mr. Mathews. One of Cory's friends was shot and killed on the school grounds today. Cory saw it happen. We're extremely worried about him."
"Cory told me what happened today. He's all right for now. I want him to rest a little."
"I would like to send a counselor over there to help him get through this."
"No!! Mr. Mathews. Right Now! After what Cory has been through, at his age he needs some professional help right now, not tomorrow."
"Is it that bad?"
"Mr. Mathews. I'm trying to help Cory. Please. Let me send someone over there."
"All right. Cory will be right here."
"Thanks. Some one will be there in about 15 minutes."
The counselor came and talked to Cory alone in his room for over an hour. When he was through, he came downstairs alone and said, "Cory's going to sleep now. Can I talk to you a little about Cory?"
"Please. Sit here. I really want to know what's happening and what I can do."
"Mr. Mathews. Cory has witnessed the death of an extremely close friend. He's retreating into himself right now. He's questioning the whole world and his place in it. He needs your understanding and support now more than ever. Expect him to be sullen, not wanting to do much. That's ok for a while. Don't push him right now to do anything. Be with him if you can. Can you take a couple of days off of your work?"
"Yes. That's no problem."
"Good. He needs to feel wanted right now and that he still has a place in this world."
END OF PART 09
PART 10 - CORY
Cory slept the evening and the whole night without wakening. When he woke the next morning, it was almost 9:30 am. He didn't want to get out of bed. He felt safe here in his room, in his bed. Cory looked over at the window to see the sky. Outside was a world that he didn't want to be part of ever again. It had hurt him. He was missing Matt so much he started to cry again. He didn't want to be a part of it. He didn't want any more friends that would get killed. He wondered if his friendship with Matt was part of the reason Matt was killed. He just wanted Matt back. He wanted Matt to be around again. Cory laid back down and slept the whole day.
Over the next few days, Rich tried to talk to Cory, but he didn't seem to listen to him anymore. The radio would play, but he didn't seem to hear it. He would stare out the window for hours, not moving. Kevin came over and wanted to see Cory almost every day, but Cory wouldn't see him. Kevin would stand out in the front lawn shouting up to Cory's window for him to come out, but every time that Cory would see Kevin, Cory would turn away and go back into the room. It wasn't just Kevin that came around. All of Cory's friends would come around, but to no avail. Rich spoke about this many times to the counselors, but they weren't much help.
Matt was buried on the third day after the shooting. Rich didn't really ask Cory if he wanted to go; he just started getting ready by himself. They walked out the door in silence. The cemetary was about two miles from their house so it didn't take long to get there. Matt's family was there and a few others, but only a handful of school friends were there. The service was short as the minister didn't really know Matt very well and didn't have much to say. Cory stood through the service in silence. Rich stood in the rear watching as Cory moved up to the front to watch. Tears were running down his cheeks during the entire service. But Cory didn't seem to care. Except for the tears, his face was expressionless. The ride home was again in silence. When they arrived home, Cory went to his room, closed the door, undressed and sat in his chair looking out the window.
Rich didn't know what do do. Cory was withdrawing into himself so far that he didn't know if Cory would ever come back. Rich called the counselor and explained what happened at the funeral, about Cory's withdrawal, but he didn't really tell him what to do.
The day after the funeral, Rich was sitting in the living room looking out the front window, wondering what to do when he saw a car pull up in the driveway and stop. A man got out and walked to the front door and rang the doorbell. Rich opened the door without saying anything.
"Yes. Can I help you?"
"Mr. Mathews. My name is Todd Hubble."
Rich was still somewhat in another world and didn't recognize him or his name.
"I'm Matt's father."
"Oh God...Please come in."
"Can I get you anything?"
"No....No thank you."
"Todd. I'm really sorry about your son."
"I'm going to miss him so very much. But that's not why I'm here."
Rich had a very puzzled look on my face at his words.
"I'm here to see Cory."
"I've had quite a few conversations with the school counselors, Mr. Bettler and our own friends as well as friends of Cory's. I know that Cory has shut out the world, and I'd like to try to talk to him."
"Sure If you think it'll help, I'll get him."
"No....I'd like to see him alone, in his room if that's possible."
"Well, Ok. This way. I'll show you where his room is."
Rich knocked on Cory's door and opened it. Cory was sitting by the window and turned to look at us when we walked in. He immediately recognized Matt's father and turned away.
"Hi Cory." Matt's father said.
Todd Hubble picked up a chair and moved it to where Cory was sitting as Rich backed out of the room. He put the chair down in front of Cory and sat in the chair backwards with his hands on the back of the chair facing him.
"Do you miss him Cory?"
Cory did not say a word. He just listened to Matt's father talk to him as he stared out the window.
"I know you miss him. I miss him. His mother misses him. Mathew got caught in something that he had no control over. I think you know what that was. Of all his friends, I think you know more and understand more of what really happened than most people. I think your dad realizes some of it too, but not like you do."
Todd Hubble paused to let the words sink in.
"Take a look out the window Cory. Who do you see? Do you see Kevin standing down there? He's been trying to see you for the last four days. He's not going to go away because he's not going to let you go. He loves you too much. But I think you know that."
Todd Mathews shifted the chair closer to Cory and put his head on the backs of his hands resting on the back of the chair. He talked slowly and softly directly at Cory.
"Matt is still here. Did you know that?"
Cory for the first time turned to face Matt's father, but still said nothing.
"Look outside again Cory." Cory turned and looked through the window again.
"Down there, on the lawn. Don't you see him? It looks like Kevin, but Matt is there too. He's inside Kevin. He's a part of Kevin. He's a part of you too. You are who you are because Matt touched your life. He's a part of every person that he's touched. Look again Cory. Do you see Kelly across the street?" Kelly was standing across the street on the sidewalk looking up at Cory's window.
"Matt's a part of her too. I also know that Kelly loved him very much."
"I also know that Matt was gay and that's what killed him...not you."
"Cory. Maybe we won't see Matt every day, but he's still always here. We have our memories that can't be taken away. Don't loose them. I know I won't. Hold on to them"
Cory turned and flew into Todd Hubble's arms. He burst out crying uncontrollably.
"Oh God...I miss him so much. I feel so responsible."
"Cory. You're not responsible, and you really do know that. What you said in the school yard makes me understand that."
Cory just held on to Todd Hubble for a long time....crying. Slowly Cory stopped crying and then looked at Matt's dad.
"Something else that I have to say to you Cory. You meant the world to Matt. He loved both you and Kevin very much. I want to thank you for being his friend, for being there when he needed someone."
A small smile started it's way across Cory's face. He started to warm to the memories of his friend. Mr. Hubble got up from the chair and put the chair back where it had been. Cory followed him.
"Cory. Did you know they're having a memorial for Matt at the school tomorrow? I'd be honored if you could attend."
"I'd like that. Actually I wouldn't miss it for anything."
"Mr. Bettler asked me to ask you if you were up to saying a few words about Matt. You don't have to you know. We'll all understand."
"Mr. Hubble. I think I want to say a few things. I think I need to."
Rich watched the whole thing through the door opening with tears flowing down his face too. As Todd Hubble turned to go, Cory stopped him and hugged him for the longest time. As they broke their embrace, Cory said, "Thank you...Thank you for what you said about me and Matt and about Matt still being with me."
After Todd Hubble left, Cory came downstairs. Rich could see life pouring back into him. When he saw Kevin standing in the living room, he ran to him and threw his arms around him.
"Kevin...I'm sorry. I'm really sorry."
Kevin looked toward Rich, wondering what Rich was thinking about Cory's obvious effection for him. Kevin put his arms around Cory in that "I don't care anymore" stance.
"Cory...I need you...I need you so much right now."
Both boys started to cry in each others arms. Rich looked at this scene and was also overcome with emotion. Cory had been returned to us and Kevin. It was so obvious that they loved each other so much.
Cory turned to Rich and said, "Dad?"
"I'm going to say a few words at a memorial for Matt tomorrow."
"Yeah, I heard."
"Will you be there?"
"Well most of those things are for the students. I'm not sure if parents are invited."
"I'd like you to be there. Really, I want you there very much."
Cory was not quite his old self again. Something was different. There was a self confident determination in him that Rich hadn't seen before. He seemed to know where he was going. Rich walked into the school auditorium and stood at the back of the room, but couldn't help notice Cory sitting on the stage with this same determination on his face. He noticed Matt's parents sitting in the front row.
As the memorial service progressed, they heard a lot of nice things about Matt. They praised his school work. They remorsed about his unfulfilled future. The last speaker was to be Cory. When he was introduced, Cory got up and approached the podium.
"Hi. I'm Cory Mathews. I was a friend of Matt's. You've said some mighty nice things about him here today."
Cory looked down, and after a slight pause, looked up and said, "But you're probably not going to like what I have to tell you." Silence started to fall over the room. "Matt was a victim." He let those words sink in for a few moments. Matt's father smiled because he knew. Rich couldn't help his pride in his son well up within him as he listened.
"You all know what I'm talking about...you want to know what the word for it is?...Cory's voice was getting louder and resonant. You wanna know? Well...I'll TELL you....THE FUCKING WORD IS HOMOPHOBIA. It's a fear born from ignorance that runs rampant in this school.
"Johnny only acted out what he was supposed to do. He was following your orders. Yes, Matt was gay. So am I. So are a lot of you. You didn't choose to be gay. I didn't choose to be gay. I just am. You just are. That's the way it is folks, so get that through your heads and get used to it. But Matt was humiliated, teased and ridiculed for it. He couldn't change it any more than he could change the color of his skin or change the parents he was born with. But you all feared him. WHY?....Was he a threat to you? Yes he was. He was a threat to you because you didn't understand him. You don't understand anything about what it means to be gay in America or in this school for that matter. Try living with the fear in every day going to this school. Not just the ridicule for being found out, but the beatings. Why do you think that one third of all teen suicides are by gay or lesbian kids? The issue is not about a 'different' way of life; it is about life itself. I know that every teacher and every parent in this school fundamentally agrees that no young person -- gay or straight-- should have to live under that kind of fear. A school is supposed to be a safe place for us. A safe place to learn. But it's not for us. What happened here is a travesty. Your fear did this to Matt. And I don't know how I can forgive you for it. Every one of you were part of it."
Tears were streaming down Cory's face as he stood tall and addressed a silent audience. Just then, Kevin got out of his seat and walked down the aisle. He climbed the steps to the stage and walked over and stood nest to his friend Cory. He slowly put his hand on Cory's shoulder. By saying nothing, he gave his wholehearted support to Cory for what he was saying. Cory looked down to see Matt's parents in the front row. Todd Hubble slowly nodded his head to Cory.
Cory looked up and continued, "You put out a candle before it had a chance to burn and light up some small part of this world. But part of that light is still here. It's here within me and Kevin. Matt was....no is....a part of our lives because he was here. Because he was here, I've been changed. Because he was here, you've been changed. He's actually part of everyone of you. And you can't change that. Whatever you do... Please...Please....don't let this travesty of fear and ignorance put out his light."
Cory tried to speak, but no more words came out. He slowly wiped the tears from his eyes and turned from the podium. As he headed for the steps leading to the center aisle, Todd Hubble slowly stood up. Cory walked down the steps, and as he reached to bottom, a boy from the left side of the auditorium stood up and faced Cory. The silence was deafening. Another boy stood up in the middle of the auditorium. As Cory walked up the aisle, another boy stood up as Cory passed him. Noone was speaking. The silence was roaring in everyones ears with the sounds of a brass band. When Cory saw Rich, he stopped and came over to him and put his arms around him. The boy's school day was finished, and Rich and a man went home.