© by The Lavender Quill, 2003
Warning: the following story contains graphic descriptions of male/male sex between consenting adults. If that sort of thing bothers you, or you are a minor, or it is illegal for you to read this type of content under the laws of your area, dont read any further.
This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual people or events is purely coincidental.
Setting: Sacramento, California, 2002.
I thought I was going to go mad in the emergency room. The waiting was making me crazy.
When we arrived, I thought it was all going to be like the TV show, ER. The surgeons would surround Robby and patch him up in a flash.
A triage nurse did direct us to a room pretty quickly, but after a cursory look at Robbys nose and scalp wound, she determined that he was a low priority, despite being covered in blood. She asked what had happened, and Robby explained how his father had hit him, and how he fell against a bookcase. She didnt ask why his father had hit him, and Robby didnt volunteer a reason.
I should call Child Protective Services, she said.
Robbys twenty-one, I said.
Oh, she said. She turned back to him. Sorry, you look younger. Still, that aint right. You should press charges.
Robby looked down. Things are a little complicated, he said.
Well, you can decide later, I guess. Lets get you fixed up first.
She gave him a compress to hold over the wound, asked a bunch of insurance questions to fill out the intake forms, took his vital signs, and left, telling us a doctor would be in to see him shortly.
We waited. I fidgeted.
Yes, yes. I know there are other people having heart attacks and strokes, or suffering from more urgent diseases or wounds, but my Robby was bleeding and in pain. I wanted to make it better, and I couldnt do a thing.
Robby just sat there, mostly silently. I think he was taking the wait better than me, though he looked miserable.
I shot a couple more pictures of him with the cheep disposable camera Id purchased on the way to the hospital. I had taken several pictures earlier when wed gotten out of the van. Nice gruesome close-ups. My beautiful Robby was a mess, and it made me want to go back to the construction site and punch his father a few more times.
I wanted to hold Robby, but I was afraid to touch him for fear of making something hurt more. Plus I didnt know when a doctor or nurse would come barging back in to the room.
After what seemed like an eternity, a doctor came in to look at Robby. It was a woman who looked younger than the nurse whod brought us to the room. Dr. Kimnel, her nametag read. She examined his nose and his puffy eye. She pulled the compress away from the scalp wound. She poked and prodded. I could tell she was trying to be gentle, but blood started to ooze again, and tears formed in Robbys eyes. I gritted my teeth, trying not to interfere.
Can you give him something for the pain? I asked.
I cant give him anything much stronger than Acetaminophen until we x-ray him, she said, still examining Robby. I dont think his nose is broken, and I dont think theres a concussion, but I need to make sure. She turned at me and pointed at my chest. Are you hurt at all?
I looked down. My bare chest was spattered with Robbys blood, and my pants were caked in it from sitting in the bloody drivers seat of the van. Uh, no, this is all his blood.
Okay. She turned back to Robby. A nurse will be back in a few minutes to give you some Acetaminophen, and then theyll take you up to get x-rayed. If that goes as I expect, then we can stitch up this cut.
She left and we waited. Again I grew frustrated. How could it take so long to get a couple of Tylenols? I sat in a chair next to the examining table and fidgeted.
Does it hurt really bad? I asked.
Yes. Seems like my whole head hurts.
Oh. Um, is there anything I can do?
No, not really.
Great. I felt about as useless as I could possibly be. I fidgeted some more.
You outed us to the whole construction crew, said Robby. He didnt sound mad; just making conversation.
Yeah, I guess I did. I wasnt really thinking about them at the time.
You gonna get in trouble for that?
No, dont worry about that. My uncle already said he didnt care if I told anyone else. He thinks itll be cool. Hell stand up for me. He told me once before that hed fire anyone that gave me shit about being gay.
We sat silently for a few minutes. Robby looked morose.
What happened Robby? I asked at last. Did you come out to your parents?
No, Robby scoffed. If I ever planned to tell them, I would have at least waited till I was out of the house and living with you.
I was going to ask him how they found out, but was interrupted when a nurse came in. A different one than the triage nurse. A guy. He pushed a wheelchair in front of him when he entered. He looked to be in his thirties, and had a trendy haircut and three earrings in his right ear. He had a small red AIDS ribbon pinned to his hospital greens next to his nametag, which read Jim Randle. He couldnt be more obvious if he had homo tattooed on his forehead.
I hovered as he gave Robby a couple of tablets to swallow with a cup of water.
Lets clean you up a bit real quick, Jim said. Then well take you to get x-rayed. He busied himself getting a tray and a bunch of sterile swabs. We need to get you out of those bloody clothes and into a gown, too.
He set a hospital gown next to Robby and started to dab at his face. Robby flinched. So did I.
Here, I said, snatching the swab away from Jim. Let me do that.
Im no nurse, but I didnt figure wiping someones face required any special medical knowledge. Besides, this was Robby. I carefully started to wipe some of the blood from Robbys face. Some of it was starting to dry and cake. I started near his neck and worked on the part of his face that looked the least painful first. I was especially gentle and careful when I got closer to his nose and swollen eye. Robby looked at me the whole time. I could tell he was trying not to cry. It was breaking my heart.
Im not sure if Jim was annoyed with me or not for taking over the job of cleaning up Robby. If he was, he hid it well, and didnt say a thing.
Thats fine for now, said Jim. We can clean you up better after we get you stitched up. Itll probably hurt if you try to pull that tee shirt over your head. Do you want me to cut it off?
Robby looked down at the shirt. It was a mess, and didnt seem worth trying to salvage. He nodded yes. Jim got a pair of sterile scissors out of a paper wrap. Robby and I looked at each other, and Jim noticed.
Uh, you want me to do it, or him? Jim asked.
Kevin, please, said Robby quietly, if thats okay.
Jim handed me the scissors. I cut up the front of the shirt, starting at the bottom, careful not to let the cold steel touch Robbys skin at all. Then we peeled the remains of the shirt off him. It was kind of gross. It was warm from his body heat and sticky with his blood. I took another swab and cleaned some of the blood off his torso. While I was doing that, I noticed Jim looking him over for any other possible injuries.
Robby stood and dropped his pants, which were also sticky with blood. Standing there in his underwear, he looked questioningly at Jim.
Its okay, you can leave those on. He handed Robby the gown. He gave Robby an appreciative once-up-and-down glance, which I couldnt really blame him for. He didnt say or do anything inappropriate, so I let it pass. Even banged up, Robby still looked pretty hot standing there in his underwear.
I wiped some of the blood off my chest while Robby put the gown on. Then Jim helped him ease into the wheelchair.
Theres nothing wrong with my legs, Robby complained.
Its a hospital thing, said Jim. Just go with it. It was obvious hed had this complaint a hundred times before. Is Kevin here your friend?
Robby nodded, not really paying much attention.
He your special friend? This time the implications were more clear.
Robby looked up at me, smiled wanly, and nodded again. I guess the way I took over cleaning him up made it clear I was more than a casual acquaintance.
Okay, then, he can come to x-ray and wait with you.
He wheeled Robby out and pushed him through a maze of corridors. I was turned around and lost in no time. He pushed Robby into a small waiting area next to a desk that said Radiology.
Ill be back to pick you up after theyre done here, said Jim. Then he left.
There was an old guy with greyish looking skin, breathing through a tube hooked to a green tank, and a kid with his arm in a sling sitting with his mother. So we would have to wait again.
I pushed Robby to a corner away from the others and sat next to him in a chair.
So howd your dad find out? I asked quietly. I thought weve been really careful.
Alex told him.
What! I exclaimed. The kid and his mother stared at me. The old guy seemed too out of it. I hunched closer to Robby. What? I asked more quietly.
He called my parents on the phone. He talked to my dad for a long time. Must have told him everything; maybe even made shit up. I dont know exactly what he said. I didnt even realize he was talking to Alex till he got off the phone.
Robby looked at me and I could see tears forming. He looked down. He didnt speak for a minute. I saw a couple of tears drop onto his hospital gown.
It was awful, Robby said, barely a whisper. H-he said he said... Robby sniffed and his shoulders shook as he cried silently.
Its okay, I said. You dont gotta repeat everything he said. I think I got the idea. Given what his father had said to me, I could imagine all too well what he said to Robby.
And then he he hit me. I cant believe he hit me. Hes never hit me before. I mean, yeah, hes pretty strict, but he never hit me before.
And if he ever hits you again Im gonna break his fucking neck. My anger was returning.
You cant break my dads neck, Kevin. Thats not gonna solve anything.
Yeah, maybe not. It just makes me so mad, Robby.
A lab tech came and fetched the old guy and led him off. I took a deep breath and tried to calm down. I thought I was perfectly justified in my anger, but it seemed to upset Robby, so I tried to pull myself together for his benefit, if for no other reason.
Im sorry Robby, I said.
I thought about what Id done. I thought I was protecting Robby from Alex, and my macho posturing had simply made him mad enough to call Robbys father. I worried that nailing his father to the wall of the building and threatening him might have unintended consequences too.
I hope I didnt fuck things up too bad, I said.
Another lab tech came in then and called for Robby. I had to stay and wait while they x-rayed him. I fidgeted some more, and watched a nurse bring in a woman with a bandaged up ankle and then lead the kid and his mother away. Robbys x-rays didnt take all that long, and Jim came to bring us back a few minutes later.
The doctor should be back to see you in a few minutes, just as soon as she gets a look at these, he said, waving a folder that presumably contained the x-rays. Then he left.
I dont know why they say a few minutes. Why dont they just tell you a half hour or so. Then I wouldnt get so damned impatient.
Again, I thought back to my incident with Robbys father. And I thought about Alex. I berated myself for losing control. Im not a fighter, and almost always seek ways to avoid confrontation, but when Robby was threatened, I seemed to turn into a different person. Id never felt protective of someone like that before. Maybe overprotective.
I probably made things worse between you and your dad, didnt I? I asked.
Robby shrugged. His eyes looked dead. Im not sure it makes much difference. They hate me now. What you did wont change that one way or another. I cant go back there.
I know. You can stay with me.
I dont want to be a bother.
What? Where did that come from, I wondered. Robby, I love you. Were gonna move in together anyway. This is just sooner than we planned. Itll be a little cramped, but well manage.
He just sat there. My words did not appear to comfort him at all. I didnt know what else to say. This situation sucked, but I thought wed be able to get past it.
The doctor came back in then. She made some notes on his chart.
Just as I thought, she said. No fractures. Your nose isnt broken. There is no sign of concussion. Well get you stitched up and give you some stronger pain medication, and youll be able to go home shortly. She produced a syringe and held it up. Im going to give you an injection to numb the area around the scalp wound. Then Im going to have to shave a small area so I can stitch it properly, okay?
Again, Robby just shrugged his consent. The doctor aimed the needle at his scalp and I blanched and had to turn away.
* * * * *
An hour later I had him back at my apartment. He was a little groggy from the pain medication, and not in a talkative mood. I put him to bed.
I changed clothes, and took both of our bloody garments down to the laundry room. Then I called my uncle to ask how best to clean blood off the seats in Robbys van.
After Id cleaned the van and our clothes, Robby woke up. He looked rested a little, and feeling no pain, but he still looked pretty morose. I made us some sandwiches. I was starving, but Robby barely ate.
What do you say to a guy whos entire relationship with his parents has been shattered? I dont know. Everything I thought of just sounded lame, so I didnt say much of anything, and neither did Robby.
That night, for the first time, we slept together but did not have sex. I tried to console him, but he was more depressed than Id ever seen him. I held him, but he was almost lifeless in my arms. I lay awake worrying long after he drifted off to sleep.
He was just as depressed the next morning. He looked terrible. His nose and part of his face were swollen and now all bruised. I offered to call in sick and stay home with him, but he wouldnt hear of it.
My uncle Don picked me up to drive me to the construction site since I had left my truck there when Robby and I went to the hospital in his van.
So what happened after I left yesterday? I asked.
You mean the guy you nailed to the wall? my uncle asked. By his tone, I could tell he was still a little pissed at me.
Um, yeah. I managed to sound chagrinned.
He was still pretty steamed when I let him go. He threatened to sue you, me, the construction company, and everyone else in sight.
Oh, shit! I said.
Dont worry. I pointed out that Robby could file criminal assault charges against him. Its sort of a stalemate. I doubt hed get much sympathy from a judge for beating his own kid, and Im sure he knows that.
Well call yesterday a half day sick time, so youll get paid. I think its important to take care of Robby. You can take more sick time if you need it. He glanced over at me and gave me a stern look. Today you get to patch up the wall you nailed his dad to yesterday. I aint payin you for that, though. I wont condone that kind of thing.
Yeah, well I guess I can understand you were pretty pissed off. Just try to control your temper, okay?
We drove in silence for a couple of minutes.
So I guess I kinda outed myself to the crew, I said. Did anyone say anything?
Kinda? he smiled.
I smiled too. Okay, so I totally outed myself to the crew.
He laughed then. Naw. Theyre all talking about you nailing Robbys dad to the wall. Thats the most exciting thing thats happened in months. Nobody is saying much about you being gay. Brians been listening to what they say when Im not around. He put in a word or two and nixed any fag jokes. They know youre my nephew, and they know who signs their paychecks. I dont think its gonna be a problem.
I dont want to be a problem.
I told you before I thought it was okay if you want to come out more. He turned to me and smiled. I just didnt expect you to be quite so dramatic about it. He turned back to his driving, and said more seriously, You shouldnt have to hide it if you dont want to, Kevin. Robbys dad is a dinosaur. Most guys arent like that any more. The crew should be glad youre gay.
I looked at him, perplexed. How come?
Cause then they dont have to worry about you stealing their girlfriends from them, said my uncle with a laugh and a punch to my shoulder.
When we got to the job site, I set to work repairing the damage Id caused to the wall. It really didnt take all that long. I just had to patch the small holes left by the nails, and repaint it.
Despite my uncles reassurances, I worried about what the rest of the crew thought about me. During the lunch break, Brian made a point of drawing me in to the gang.
Remind me not to get you mad when you got a nail gun, laughed one.
Fucking gringo deserved what he got, said one Hispanic guy. What an asshole.
There were a lot of Hispanics on the construction crew, especially guys who did the real scut work. With the new immigration laws from a few years ago, my uncle was supposed to verify that they were all either citizens or legal immigrants, but I dont think he checked their identification too carefully. He says it isnt his job to be the immigration police, and as long as they do their job, they deserve their pay.
All in all, it was pretty much like any other lunch break. Guys joked in their macho way pretty much like they always did, only today many of the jokes were about me nailing Robbys dad to the wall. Nobody said a word about me being gay.
I relaxed and worked the rest of the afternoon. My uncle put me officially back on the clock, my punishment over. As soon as the workday ended, I left as quickly as possible, skipping the traditional one beer. I wanted to get home to Robby.
When I got back to my apartment, I found Robby as depressed as hed been the night before. He was wearing a baseball cap to cover his scalp where theyd shaved and stitched him. The window blinds were all closed. He sat on the couch in the gloomy semi-darkness, watching MTV, a glazed-over look in his eyes.
I wasnt sure what to do. I sat down next to him.
Work went okay, I said. Uncle Don made me patch up the wall. Nobody gave me any shit about being gay.
Thats good, Robby said, still staring lifelessly at the television.
I scooted closer to him and wrapped my arm around him. He stiffened, but I held him anyway. I took the remote control from his hand and clicked off the television. Robby sniffed and with agonizing slowness, melted into my side, as if trying to resist any comfort I might give him.
His resistance slowly broke down, and he let his head fall to my chest. He began to cry softly. My first impulse was to try to cheer him up, but I had heard it is good to just let someone cry. It is not very macho, I suppose, but apparently its good for you.
His hat was askew and the bill was poking me in the neck, but I just held him anyway. Eventually he stopped crying, and I continued to hold him for a few minutes more. Finally we disengaged.
Sorry, Robby sniffed.
Its okay, I said. Sounds like you needed that.
Ive been depressed all day. I just sat around moping, and I dont think that helped. I think Im gonna get back to work tomorrow. Keep busy, you know?
Are you sure its okay for you to work?
If anything, Robby looked worse than he did the day before. Large angry bruises had formed on the left side of his face and his nose.
Yeah, Robby said. It looks bad, but it doesnt actually hurt all that much. No reason I cant work.
I could think of no argument to that, so I shrugged my assent. If it made him feel better, I was all for it.
I took his hand and pulled him up off the couch. I need a shower, I said. I usually had one after working construction all day. I could tell that Robby hadnt had one all day either. Come and help me.
I dragged him to the bathroom with me. We stripped and climbed into the shower. Robby was still pretty lethargic, and was no more interested in sex than he had been the night before. I couldnt be naked in the shower with him without getting at least half hard, but I didnt press the issue.
I fixed some food. I tried to cheer him up over the next few hours, but was unsuccessful. He was distraught, and nothing I could think of to say or do seemed to help. It was like somebody had died, and I suppose in a way that is how he felt. Eventually we went to bed, and again I just held him. I was beginning to get frustrated with my inability to help him, and just hoped he would feel better over time.
* * * * *
The next morning I watched Robby getting ready for work. He moved like a zombie. It had been days since Id seen him smile. Maybe he was right. Maybe work would help him snap out of his depression.
I gave him a long hug before I left.
You got the number for the construction trailer, right? I asked. And my uncles cell phone?
Call if you need anything, okay? I said. He nodded again. I hugged him once more, and then went to work, hoping that he would have a better day than yesterday.
No such luck.
I was installing light fixtures in a unit on the second floor when I glanced out the window and saw Robby pulling up in his van an hour or so later. After the last time hed come here, I feared the worst. I quickly set the light fixture down and flew out of the unit. I was down the stairs and out the door in a flash. I ran to Robby as fast as I could with a tool belt clattering around my hips. I slowed when I got close enough to see that he wasnt hurt this time. At least not physically.
What up? I asked anxiously. I could tell something was wrong.
I cant work, said Robby. They wont let me have my stuff.
I could see Brian walking quickly toward us.
What do you mean? I asked.
My equipment. Some of its in the van, but most of its at home. I waited until I was sure my dad had left for work and then I went over there to get it. My mom wouldnt let me in. They changed the locks.
What? My anger was rising again, but Brian had arrived by then and he put a calming hand on my shoulder.
I tried to talk to her, but she wouldnt even open the door. She said Dad paid for the equipment, and I wasnt welcome in the house any more. I tried to talk sense to her, but she just ignored me. I didnt know what to do, so I just came over here.
If they dont open the fucking door, how bout if I just drive my truck right through their front window? I said angrily.
They both glared at me.
Okay. Not helpful, I said. I blew out an exasperated breath and threw out my arms. God this pisses me off, though. Why do they have to be such assholes?
Why dont we talk about this in the trailer? Brian suggested.
Some of the crew had started to come out of the building, and were loitering around to see if I was going to nail someone else to the wall.
The three of walked to the trailer that serves as a temporary office for my uncle at construction sites. My uncle was not there. Brian called him on his cellular phone.
Hey Don, its Brian. Im in the office with Kevin and Robby. No, no panic today, man. Kevin doesnt have any power tools on him, he grinned at me. But you probably want to head over hear anyway. He paused to listen. Okay. See you in a few.
He turned to us.
So, tell me whats going on. Whats this about your equipment?
I have a lot of electronic equipment for my business, Robby explained. Kevins seen most of it. Its expensive, so I cant just leave it out in my van. I store most of it at home, and load what I need for a job in the van when I need it. I didnt have enough money to buy it when I started, and dont have enough credit to borrow it from a bank, so my dad loaned me the money to buy the van and all my equipment to start my business.
My uncle walked into the trailer then. He knew most of this already, so Robby just continued.
Thats why Kevin and I havent moved in together yet. I was trying to get them paid off first, so wed have more money for a bigger apartment. My mom says it was their money that paid for it, so they dont have to let me have it. He looked at me. Im fucked if I cant get that stuff back.
Brian scrunched his eyebrows in thought for a minute. Then he turned to Robby.
Whose name is on the title to the van, yours or your parents?
Mine, said Robby.
Good. Did they buy the equipment, or did they give you the money and you bought the equipment?
The second. I bought it. They wouldnt have a clue what to get.
So you have the receipts, right? Youre writing it off on your taxes as business expenses and all that crap?
Yeah, but all the receipts are at home too.
Thats okay. Do you have anything in writing about the loan, or was it just informal?
No, nothing in writing. He just gave me the money.
But youve been paying it off regularly, right?
Yeah. Its actually mostly paid off. I only have a couple thousand more to go.
Hmm Brian pursed his lips in thought.
I looked at Brian curiously. He was acting in a very un-Brian like way. His whole manner of speech had changed from laid back hippy to clipped, almost police-like questioning.
Whats up? I asked.
I think I got an idea, said Brian. Robby, you say your dads at work? Just your mother at home?
From the way youve talked about her, Im guessing shes a traditional stay-at-home mom, right? Robby nodded acknowledgment. Is she very independent? Or does she pretty much go along with whatever your dad says?
Well, I guess she mostly goes along with whatever my dad says.
Did she go to college? Robby shook his head, no. She read the newspaper much?
Again, Robby shook his head, no. He looked as perplexed as I felt.
What are you getting at? asked my uncle.
Its probably better you dont ask that, Brian grinned. But Im pretty sure itll work. Can Kevin borrow your truck? Its bigger than his, and it has a canopy.
Sure, I guess, said my uncle.
Good. And I want to borrow James. Hes a big guy and hes got a full size truck too. He turned to Robby. How much stuff do you have? Were gonna have to do this quick, and get it all out in one trip. Everything. Your work equipment, and all your personal belongings too. We need enough trucks for all of it in one go. You shouldnt bring your van. I dont want your mother to see it until its too late. Is two trucks enough?
Robby thought for a moment before answering. Itd be better to get one more. Some of the electronic equipment is pretty sensitive. I cant just pile it all up like a load of lumber.
I remembered the custom built racks in Robbys van for his equipment.
Okay, said Brian, turning back to my uncle. Can we borrow one more guy with a truck? And maybe a couple other guys? Big guys.
Good, good. Brian looked like he was getting excited about his plan, whatever it was. He turned to me. Kevin, did you take pictures of Robby like I asked? I nodded, yes. Did you get it developed yet?
Yeah, I said. Id taken the disposable camera to a one-hour photo lab the day before. The pictures are in my truck. I hadnt wanted to bring them in to the apartment. Robby hadnt seen them yet.
Excellent. Go get them for me. Then I want you guys to empty all three trucks. Maybe find some carpet scraps or anything else you can use for padding for the equipment. His eyes sparkled with glee. Everyone meet me at my house in two hours. He looked at my uncle. Well, not you, but everyone else.
Youre not gonna get any of my guys in trouble, are you? my uncle asked.
No way, man, Brian grinned. Trust me.
(To be continued.)
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