Disclaimer: The following may contain scenes of sexual activity between males. If you find this offensive or if it is illegal for you to read this in your locality, please do not do so. The author does not advocate nor condone the violation of any laws.
Several songs are quoted in this story. The copyrights to these are held by the artists or their publishers and not be FreeThinker. They are quoted as a tribute to the artist and the piece.
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"I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan:
very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to
me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
II Samuel 1:26 KJV
The afternoon and evening of
Monday, March 15, 1982
The chamber of the State House of Representatives reverberated with a raucous cacophony as the various members and their staff entered to begin the afternoon's business. As Jonathan and Kevin entered the rear of the chamber, several members of the Democratic leadership entered from the front. Jonathan saw the Majority Leader, a wrinkled old Democrat from Hanleyville, give him an evil look before taking his seat in the front. Jonathan raised a facetious eyebrow at his friend, who muttered, "I don't think he likes you very much."
"I am dreadfully grieved," Jonathan responded.
The Speaker of the House, who had first run for the legislature as a way of avoiding service in the Second World War, heaved his corpulence up the steps in the front and collapsed into his chair beneath the color portrait of the Democratic Governor and the black and white portrait of the Republican President. He gazed malevolently around the chamber and belched. He appeared to be chewing.
"Looks like McCoy had a rough night," Kevin chuckled.
"Ah, the joys of dypsomania."
The Speaker turned to his left and looked at the brass spittoon at the top of the steps.
"Bet ya a buck he misses," said Kevin.
The Speaker pursed his mouth and fired.
"Ooooooh, God! That's disgusting!" Jonathan declared as he handed his friend a dollar.
Jonathan turned toward the youthful voice on his left and found Toby Greenfield, his page for the week, standing beside him with a manila folder.
"Ah, Toby! So how's the page business, so far?"
"It's fascinating, sir!" the replied with enthusiasm. "They took us on a tour of the Capitol this morning and we met the Governor and they showed us the State Library and the original Constitution!"
Jonathan grinned at the boy's excitement.
"Well, I'm glad you're enjoying the experience. You know, I got my start in politics as a page, too."
"Uh huh. My sponsor sat at that desk up there. Who knows, ten years from now you could be one us.
The boy grinned broadly.
"That's my plan! Maybe, you'll be Governor then!"
Kevin snorted and Jonathan smiled.
"Oh, by the way, here's that file you asked for, HSJR 12 from 1979."
"Ah, excellent. Thank you very much, Toby."
The boy then ran to the couches in the back of the chamber as Kevin handed Jonathan the Metro section of the Scottsburg Morning Journal.
"Here you go, Governor. Check it out."
But, just as Jonathan was about to, the Speaker banged his gavel and then desperately clutched his temples as his face took on a dreadful look of pain. He mumbled, "The House will be in order. The Chair recognizes the Chaplain, Brother Billy Ray Hatfield of the Twin Oak Pentecostal Church."
All the members rose and the Chaplain for the day, enjoying his thirty seconds in the limelight, began a ponderous prayer asking the Almighty to protect the state and guide the members of the House to act in Godly and righteous ways, etc., etc. But, when he finished the prayer with, "We ask this in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Aye-men," Jonathan glanced to his left at Sol Wineberg, a liberal Democrat from University City and the only Jewish member of the House. He shook his head slightly, as did Mary Elizabeth Unterman, as Unitarian sitting next to him. Recognizing religious pluralism and tolerance was not something normally encouraged in either his state or this legislature, Jonathan, too, shook his head as he sat down.
The usual opening business commenced and Jonathan picked up the Journal. To his chagrin, the headline under the fold, accompanied by a picture of Jonathan speaking the previous fall at the University, read, "Holbrook Sets Eyes on Gov's Mansion."
"Oh, no!" he muttered. He looked around as he heard several of his colleagues chuckling.
"Republican State Rep. Jon Holbrook isn't afraid to admit he's ambitious. The twenty-four year-old freshman legislator from Scottsburg, who astounded pundits and Democrats alike in 1980 by defeating a twenty-year veteran of the House, told the Journal that ambition is a good thing and that he wouldn't mind sitting in the Governor's Mansion someday."
"That's not what I said!" Jonathan whispered vehemently to Kevin, who simply grinned.
And, he may just get his wish. Passionate, articulate, and photogenic, Holbrook is the rising star of the state GOP and may very well ride his blond-haired, blue-eyed Boy Scout looks and his war against the entrenched Good Ol' Boys in the Legislature all the way."
"Oh, this is bullshit."
Kevin looked at his friend in shock.
"Jon! I've never heard you use profanity before!"
"So, this is why everyone's teasing me today."
"Look, it's a tradition. Inevitably, a first termer always slips in front of a reporter and says something about being Governor or Senator or, God forbid, even President, and, inevitably, some schmuck in the press prints it. So we have to dump on them. It's a tradition."
Jonathan rolled his eyes.
"You look so cute when you do that, with your blond-haired, blue-eyed Boy Scout looks!"
Jonathan gave his friend an obscene gesture as the Clerk announced, "Third Reading, HB-918 by Sherman, an act to amend the state criminal code as regards the punishment for rape."
There were moans and chuckles as Fred Sherman's annual bill to require mandatory castration of rapists was brought up for a vote.
Jon leaned over and asked, "How many times has Sherman introduced this bill?"
"He does it every year," Kevin replied. "It gets voted out of the Judiciary committee every year because the members are afraid of publicly voting against it. But, it always gets killed on the floor in a voice vote so the members aren't on record as having opposed it. That way they can go back to Raccoon Hollow and Beaver Bend and tell their constituents they hate perverts without making the state the laughingstock of the country."
"As if it isn't already."
And, just as Kevin described, one of the members stood and called for a voice vote.
The Speaker looked out at the House through half-closed lids and mumbled into the microphone, "Allinfavorsayaye, allopposedsaynay. The nays have it and measure is not approved."
And, before Fred Sherman could protest, the clerk was reading, "HB-742 by Hardcastle, et. al, an act to create a Southeastern Commercial Development Authority."
Representative Hardcastle then stood and regaled the House with tales of woe and depredation from the southeastern portion of the state and declaring that those woes could only be addressed by the creation of the Southeastern Commercial Development Authority. When he was finished, Jonathan jumped up.
Speaker McCoy clutched his head and painfully intoned, "Mr. Holbrook."
"Mr. Speaker, I do not rise to dispute the facts that my colleague, Representative Hardcastle, has presented before us. We are all aware that the southeastern area of the state has the highest unemployment, the highest drop-out rate, the highest teen-pregnancy rate, and the highest family assistance rate in the state. What I do challenge, however, is the need for the Southeastern Commercial Development Authority."
Jonathan picked up the manila folder Toby had brought him earlier and pulled out a document.
"Mr. Speaker, the previous legislature, in HSJR-12 in 1979 created the Southeastern Industrial Development Authority. The previous legislature in 1977 created the Southeastern Business Development Authority. And, the Legislature before that, in 1975, created the Southeastern Economic Development Authority. And, we still, after three other development authorities, we still have the same problems. However, we were able to provide Representative Hardcastle's brother-in-law with a job as Director of the SIDA, the Majority Leader's grandson as Director of the SBDA, and the son of a major Democratic contributor as Director of the SEDA. Mr. Speaker, I submit that the only jobs we have created have been for the otherwise unemployable relatives and friends of Democratic lawmakers. Mr. Speaker, we don't need another Development Authority. We need better schools and a tax code that encourages business growth. Let's vote this down."
Seeing the public exposure of what was happening, one representative stood and moved to table consideration, which was approved by voice vote.
"Cheer up," Kevin said. "At least we delayed it."
"For what its worth."
After half an hour of mundane matters, what many called nap time, the clerk finally announced, "A motion by Holbrook to discharge HR-1218 from the Committee on Rules for Third Reading."
The Speaker mumbled, "Oh, God. Now what?" loudly enough for the microphone to transmit it across the chamber, causing chuckles from both sides of the aisle, though for different reasons.
"Mr. Holbrook, please remind me what 1218 does," the Speaker asked wearily.
As Jonathan rose, he saw the dark look he was receiving from Daniel Webster Franklin, in whose district the Pushitaw State Boys Home was located. Jonathan was taken aback momentarily by the intensity of the look. It was as if the man were trying to send him some kind of message. Jonathan looked away and scanned the membership.
"I'll be happy to refresh your memory, Mr. Speaker, and that of any other member of the House, as well. It is not surprising that members might not remember 1218 as it has been bottled up in the Rules committee since last year, denied a fair and open hearing. 1218, Mr. Speaker, calls on the legislature to set up an independent commission to investigate complaints of corruption, embezzlement, and abuse in the largest governmental agency in the state, the Department of Human Services.
"Now, Mr. Speaker, I know the legislature has far more fun creating new and exotic forms of punishment for sex offenders and acting as an employment agency for friends and relatives, but every once in awhile, Mr. Speaker, there comes an issue of such importance that it cannot be brushed under the table, an issue that calls out for action, for justice, for decency. This is one of those issues and the legislature must do its duty to protect the most helpless members of our society: our children, our elderly, our infirm; people who are ill-served by an agency failing to do its duty. I will not list the allegations that must be investigated; it is more appropriate to address them before the commission. But, the Chairman of the Rules Committee has refused to allow a fair and open hearing or a fair and open vote. Mr. Speaker, the children of this state, the elderly, all those who depend on this state deserve to have this measure voted on openly and fairly."
There were mumbles of agreement from the Republican side, scowls from the Democratic side. One of the Democrats stood up.
"Mr. Speaker, does the gentleman yield?"
"I'll be happy to yield to the Chairman of the Rules Committee," Jonathan replied, as he saw Daniel Webster Franklin turn his gaze.
"Mr. Speaker, I can assure my young friend that there has been no sinister attempt to deny a fair hearing on 1218. In fact, I would have been more than happy to schedule a hearing if I thought it would be more than a mere waste of time. There have been rumors and innuendo about DHS and the old Welfare Department for years and nothing has ever been proved. However, Mr. Speaker, in light of the truly tragic events of this morning and to prevent some from seeking partisan advantage from these tragic events, I will be happy to schedule a hearing for tomorrow morning if Representative Holbrook would be so kind as to withdraw his motion."
Jonathan down at Kevin, who shrugged, and then at the Minority Leader, who nodded.
"Mr. Speaker, I can assure the Chairman of the Rules Committee that I have no intention of using this morning's tragedy for political gain. Indeed, I have never even mentioned it and I resent the gentleman's innuendo."
"Mr. Speaker, I can assure my young friend that it was not he to whom I referred. I have no reason to question my colleague's intentions or integrity. But, there are those in this chamber who may seek to exploit a child's senseless death for their own purposes and to avoid that, I think an open hearing is necessary. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I repeat my offer to Representative Holbrook."
Jonathan took a breath. "I thank the Chairman of the Rules Committee and withdraw my motion."
As Jonathan sat down, Daniel Webster Franklin turn his dark gaze slowly away toward the front, but not before looking Jonathan directly in the eye for a second. Jonathan turned to Kevin and whispered, "That was too easy."
"Something's up. I think by accusing us of exploiting the kid, they get to exploit the kid. It was smart. Are you going to be ready tomorrow?"
"I have a few people ready to testify. They're just waiting for the go-ahead."
The House then went on to its more mundane routine and was finally gaveled into recess a little after five. As Jonathan and Kevin exited the rear of the chamber, Toby ran up to them and gushed, "Man, Representative Holbrook, you were terrific in there. You really zinged them good!"
Jonathan smiled with delight.
"Well, thank you, Toby. I appreciate that. It really wasn't anything that impressive."
"Now don't sell yourself short there," Kevin said. "You're right, Toby. He really did zing `em!"
"Yeah, Toby continued. "You were awesome."
He then ran on with the other pages.
"I think you've got yourself a fan," Kevin said as Jonathan watched the blond head run around the corner. He stared for a moment as a ghost of a boy from ten years before made a similar comment to another representative.
"Don't let it go to your head, Governor."
The deep malevolence of the voice from behind him startled Jonathan. He and Kevin turned to find Daniel Webster Franklin, his black suit, his bushy eyebrows, his shiny black hair all giving him a distinctly unnerving look.
"I don't think that's going to be a problem, Franklin," Kevin said coldly. "Jon's not an egomaniac, like some people in the House."
Franklin said nothing for a moment, then softly replied, "No, he probably isn't. He's too much like his father."
Jonathan's eyes turned to ice.
"What about my father?"
Franklin paused again, apparently for effect.
"I knew your father. He was a good man. Very idealistic. Too idealistic for his own good. You remind me of him."
"My father was the finest man I've ever known."
Franklin attempted a smile as he patted Jonathan on the shoulder. Jonathan reflexively pulled away.
"Its good that a son should be proud of his father. Its also good that he should learn from the father's mistakes."
Before Jonathan could reply, however, Franklin was walking away. Kevin squeezed his shoulder as they walked toward the balcony overlooking the rotunda.
"How did Franklin know your father?" he asked softly.
Jonathan sighed as he looked out across the cavernous rotunda.
"Daddy was the Assistant County Prosecutor in Pushitaw back in the sixties."
Kevin waited, then said, "You know, Jon, you never talk about your parents."
And, with that, Jonathan turned and walked away.
Mrs. Carlisle was just preparing to leave as Jonathan entered the office.
"I assume things went as planned on the floor?" she asked stiffly.
"Indeed, they did, Mrs. Carlisle. Have a good evening."
He dropped into his chair and spun it around to look out the window. The late afternoon traffic clogged North Capitol Boulevard. A traffic copter buzzed by as a cloud moved across the sun to the west. Any sense of accomplishment or satisfaction Jonathan may have felt over the afternoon's business had soured with Franklin's ugly conversation. Jonathan stared out the window, seeing nothing.
It was some time before Jonathan was awakened from his reverie by a knock on his open office door. An older gentleman with graying hair and the wrinkled face of a man accustomed to hard work out of doors stood to the side of the door, looking tentatively in.
"Can I come in?" he asked uncertainly.
Jonathan immediately stood and gestured him in.
"Of course! Of course, Bill! Come in! Have a seat. What may I do for you?"
"Bill" shook his head and mumbled, "I can't sit. I can't stay. I just wanted to ask a favor of you."
"Yes?" he asked curiously.
Bill took a deep breath.
"I would like you to schedule me to testify tomorrow morning."
Jonathan's eyes opened slightly in surprise. Bill continued.
"I know I'm a Democrat and you're a Republican and we've had our differences. But, this is very important. I can't tell you anything more than that. It's very important. I have to testify."
"Bill, I don't know what to say. Can't you give some indication of what you intend to say?"
"I have to ask you to trust me. I truly can't say anything until tomorrow morning. And, no one can know I'm going to do this until tomorrow morning. It has to be secret."
"Well, well, well. What have we here? Jon Holbrook and Bill Bransted"
Bill jumped in fear and turned behind him to find Kevin Berkeley entering the anteroom with a grin on his face. Jonathan tried to signal with his eyes that this was not a moment for Kevin's usual levity.
"Collaborating with the enemy! I always suspected you were a closet Democrat, Holbrook!"
Bill Bransted smiled wanly at Kevin and said softly, "You don't see me," to which Kevin raised his hands, palms up, and replied, "You'd be surprised what I don't see around here."
Bransted looked at him for a moment and then sighed before turning back to Jonathan.
"Do we have a deal?"
Jonathan reached out and the two shook hands.
"You can trust me," Jonathan said.
"I know." Bransted then turned to Kevin.
"I hope I can trust you."
Kevin raised and eyebrow and looked at Jonathan.
"Jonathan can trust me."
Bransted nodded and, muttering a worried, "Thank you," turned and left.
"Well, what was that about?" Kevin asked as he flopped into a fake leather chair beside Jonathan's desk.
"Believe it or not, he wants me to schedule him to testify tomorrow in Rules."
"What? He wants to testify on 1218?"
Jonathan nodded. Kevin looked on incredulously.
"Why doesn't he ask Caldwell? Why you?"
"Probably because he doesn't want Caldwell to know; or Franklin."
"He's one of Franklin's closest allies. He's opposed every reform effort we've tried. He's the `Good-Ol'-Boys' Good-Ol'-Boy. Why is he testifying?"
"Obviously, he knows something and it scares him."
"Do you trust him?"
"Do I have a choice?"
Kevin thought for a moment, then shrugged and stood up.
"Let's go to the Scandal for a beer. Some of the interns from Legislative Services are going over and I thought it might be a good chance to... you know..."
Jonathan rolled his eyes.
"Hey, I've got a reputation to keep up. Brother Eddie Stillman says I'm the kind of Republican who's leading the party straight to Hell. I can't let him down!"
"I have some calls to make before the hearing tomorrow. I'll meet you down there."
As Kevin walked out the door, he turned and whispered, "Interns. Seniors. Sorority girls!"
The dining room of The Bohemian Scandal was almost full as David set up his stool, microphone, and amplifier in the corner. It was not an atypical crowd for a Monday night. The usual elderly clientele occupied the booths along the walls. The usual drunk and horny males were hanging out at the bar trying to pick up the usual drunk and horny females. And, the center tables were occupied with the usual yuppies relaxing after work before heading home to face the nightly chores. As he ordered a Moosehead from the bartender, he tried to gauge the crowd and determine what music would be most appropriate. In the front, he could see several tables scooted together and occupied by a group of what appeared to be college-age girls being hit on my some late- twenty-something lawyers, including one particularly cute one with curly dark hair and an intoxicating grin. Unfortunately, the intoxicating, (or rather, intoxicated), grin seemed to be lavished more upon a skinny blond girl in a Kappa Kappa Gamma sweater.
He sat down on the stool, placed a beer pitcher with three dollars on the table beside him and became to tune his acoustic guitar. Glancing over at the mirror behind the bar, he saw his reflection and felt relief. His long blow-dried hair hung softly down to his collar. His lightly freckled face and tie-dyed t-shirt gave him the image he sought, a carefree college-kid. He grinned. He wasn't David tonight.
"How y'all are!" he announced into the mike, getting the attention of a few people in the crowd. "I'm Dave Hathaway and its my job tonight to keep the guys at the end of the bar from puttin' Van Halen on the juke box!"
This earned some laughs from the dining room and some good-natured obscene gestures from the guys at the end of the bar.
"Welcome to The Bohemian Scandal. Don't forget your wait staff and bartenders. Don't forget that I'm here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; and don't forget that I don't do Freebird!"
This earned even more laughter and applause and motivated one of the drunks at the bar to yell, "Freebird!"
After more laughter, David grinned and raised his Moosehead in salute to his "heckler."
"I thought they raised the drinking age to 21!"
With the continued laughter, David knew he had the crowd.
"Well, let's get started with a little Jimmy Buffet," and as David played the first chords of Come Monday, nearly everyone was looking up at him. He felt great.
"Headin' out to San Francisco
For the Labor Day Weekend show.
I got my Hush Puppies on..."
and as he sang that last line, he raised his right foot to show that he did, indeed, have his Hush Puppies on. This was greeted with cheers and several raised glasses and bottles.
He decided to follow this with Peter, Paul, and Mary's Leavin' on a Jet Plane and, then, some John Denver. Toward the end of Sunshine on My Shoulders, he could tell he was losing the crowd, a sentiment reinforced when one of the barflies, at the end of the song, yelled out, "Redneck Mother!"
"Yeah," David replied. "Yo' mama's a redneck!"
As the laughter died down, David added, "Well, lets liven it up a bit, then. How about some Pure Prairie League?" And, as he played the first chords of Amy, he added, "And, y'all have to help me with the chorus!"
"I can see why you think you belong to me
I never tried to make you think
or let you see one thing for yourself.
But, now you're off with someone else and I'm alone.
You see, I thought that I might keep ya for my ooooown..."
And, then, David signaled for everyone to join in, which they did, singing, clapping, and hoisting their bear in the air, including the cute dark-haired guy and the object of his amours.
"Aiiimeeeee, what you wanna dooo
Aaaah think I could stay with you
for awhile, maybe longer if I doooo..."
David felt alive. The crowd was getting into his music. They liked him and it was better than any drug or drink.
But, as the song wound down and the crowd was applauding, he noticed a blond-haired man make his way over to the table with the lawyers and coeds. He took the empty chair to the right of the curly-haired guy, and David's heart stopped. Even after a decade, he could recognize that blond hair, those blue eyes, that happy, confident face.
One of the girls next to the blond poked him in the arm and pointed up at David, apparently noticing David staring at him. He quickly looked away and began the intro to the Eagles' Peaceful Easy Feeling. The crowd was still getting into his music, but it was starting to pay attention to themselves again and that was alright with David. He needed time to think, time to escape into his music.
And, then, as if on autopilot, he announced, "Let's take it down a notch or two with one of my all-time favorite songs," and as the crowd settled into their conversations, he began to play Killing Me Softly, by Roberta Flack.
"Strumming my face with his fingers,
Singing my life with his words,
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words,
Killing me softly with his song
David scanned the dining room, but few people seemed to be listening or watching; except him. The blond man's eyes were locked on him and a look of almost tragic pain had destroyed the peace and happiness he had seen on his face earlier. Their eyes met and the emotion was too much for David. He had to turn away.
"I heard he sang a good song,
I heard he had a style,
And, so, I came to see him,
To listen for awhile
And, there he was this young boy,
A stranger to my eyes,
Strumming my face...."
As he began the chorus again, David dared to glance at the blond as a waitress brought him a plate of nachos and a Heineken. He nodded absent-mindedly at the waitress and then stared at his plate for a moment before looking back up at David. The curly-haired guy spoke to the blond and they both glanced up at David before resuming their conversation.
It was not until the end of the song, when the blond looked up at him again and their eyes locked, that David realized he hadn't changed the pronouns in the song. But, no one else seemed to have noticed. The clientele seemed oblivious again. David announced he was taking a break and hurried to the mens room.
He stood before the mirror and splashed cold water on his face. The blond hadn't recognized him. Jon had not recognized him. His sweet Jon, his wonderful Jon. He had been moved, he had known there was something special, something chemical. But, the only person he had ever loved since his parents had died had seen him and not recognized him.
"Man, you really have `em going tonight!"
David turned to his left. One of the waiters was walking past him to a urinal.
"Yeah, I guess."
"Say, did you hear about Matt?"
David froze. He realized in that moment that he hadn't seen the busboy.
"What about him?"
The waiter zipped up and walked to the sink.
"His foster mom called and said he went back to Pushitaw today."
David looked at the waiter for a moment. The waiter was drying his hands when he saw the stricken look on David's face.
"Dave, you OK?"
David didn't know what to say. The waiter's face suddenly turned scornful.
"Man, you weren't queer for the kid, were you?"
David wanted to slug the waiter. The feeling of outrage, the anger, the pain, all hit him and it was everything he could do to keep control of his emotions. He turned and left the restroom and strode to his stool. At the long table, the blond was gone, his plate of nachos untouched, some money sitting next to the half empty beer. David picked up the guitar and replaced it in its case, switched off the amp, pocketed his tips, and as he passed the untamed Shrew in the kitchen on his way out, muttered, "Go to Hell."
Matt sat down at the deserted end of the long table at the side of the dining hall. He was still wearing his faded black Journey concert shirt with the tight jeans and his ratty sneakers. He looked down at the chipped beef and felt no appetite.
The small auburn haired kid, dressed not too differently from Matt, sat down in front of him.
"Hey, Kyle. You still here?"
"Yeah, nobody wants me. I'm too stupid."
"Hey!" Matt said heatedly. "Don't ever say that! You're not stupid. Its just that you have dyslexia. That doesn't mean you're stupid."
Kyle shrugged as he began to cut the toast under the chipped beef.
"Yeah, I guess. Nobody else thinks that, though."
"I don't matter what other people think. You're smart. You just remember that!"
After a moment, Kyle looked up.
"So what happened?"
"Same old shit. They didn't want a fag foster son."
Kyle looked down at his plate.
"Yeah. And, you know what really sucks? I know what happened. They probably found out I did it with their precious son. The kid's a year younger than me, but he was the one who started it. Shit, you know how it is, man. It'd been so long man, and I just couldn't say no. I guess they found out. Cletus picked me up at school."
Kyle eyes teared up.
"Matt, I'm sorry about what happened, but, I'm glad you're back."
"Hey, I missed you, too, little buddy."
After another pause, Kyle said softly, "You think tonight, maybe, we could... you know?"
But, later that evening, as Matt entered the shower, several other older teens as well as one of the counselors were waiting for him. Matt sighed. He knew better than to struggle. He submitted. The pain was horrible. It had been several months since the last time and he wasn't quite expecting it to hurt as much as it did. And, when they were finished, they left him bruised and bleeding on the floor of the shower.
After he cleansed himself, he crawled into his shorts and stumbled to the dorm room he would share with five others, Kyle among them. Kyle had already crawled into Matt's bed and as the two cuddled closely, Kyle whispered, "Was it bad?"
"Naw, I can take it."
Matt could feel tears fall from Kyle's face onto his shoulder.
"You heard about Luke?"
"He couldn't take it. He hung himself."
"I don't know if I can take it anymore."
Matt took Kyle's face in his hands.
"Listen to me, little buddy. Its never gonna get that bad. OK? Promise me you won't ever do that. Please. Promise me."
Kyle sniffed and snuggled into Matt's embrace. Matt caressed the boy's hair and kissed him softly on the forehead.
Thus ends Chapter Two. I realize that some things may have started off rather slow, but that should pick up in Chapter Three next week. Thank you for reading my story and please write firstname.lastname@example.org .