© 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.
We unloaded the trucks at the mini-storage. Then James and the rest of the guys left to return to the construction site. Things were piled up in a jumble, but everything fit, and the unit was cool and dryan ideal environment for storing electronic equipment.
We took the clothes and Robbys computer stuff back to my apartment. I made room in my closet. I dont have all that many clothes, so it wasnt difficult. The rest we put in boxes until we could come up with a more permanent solution.
I was kind of excited. I was thrilled that we would finally be living together. My enthusiasm, however, was banked by the forlorn expression on Robbys bruised face. Yes, we were together, but at what cost?
It was late in the afternoon by the time we got back to the condo site. The crew had knocked off for the day, and only my uncle remained. I needed to give his truck back, and both my truck and Robbys van remained where wed left them earlier in the day.
I heard you got all your stuff, said Uncle Don.
Yeah, said Robby sadly.
Im sorry things didnt go better with your parents, Robby.
Me too. He looked at my uncle, and then turned away. It looked like he was going to cry again. He sniffed and took a deep breath, but didnt turn back to us. Look, I should go. Im two days behind on my job. He turned to me but barely looked at me. Im gonna work late, okay? If I work hard, I can catch up in a few days, and maybe my reputation wont be totally trashed.
Sure, I said. Whatever you need to do.
Ill see you later then. He slumped off to his van.
I sighed and watched him go. After he drove off, my uncle and I loaded the toolbox back into his truck. Wed taken it out when I borrowed the truck. Then we lifted the cooler in. Uncle Don opened the cooler. There was one beer remaining.
I saved you one, he said, handing it to me. It looks like you could use it.
I sat on the tailgate and popped it open. I angrily gulped half of it down, paying no attention to the taste at all.
Easy now, said my uncle. Youre supposed to enjoy it, not get mad at it.
I looked at the half empty can. Then I threw it across the lot. It hit a curb, and its contents exploded in a gratifying spray.
Something bothering you? my uncle asked archly.
Why do they have to be like that? I spat. Theyre such assholes. Why cant they just love him like I do? Did you see how miserable he is? Its like someone died. Hes so sad all the time. He hardly smiles. I turned to my uncle. I love his smile, Uncle Don, and its like its gone Exasperated, I ran my hand through my hair. I dont know what to do. I cant seem to cheer him up. I I want to make him happy, but I dont know what to do.
Uncle Don rubbed my shoulder roughly for a moment and sighed. You said it was like someone died. In a way, thats true. Not physically, but emotionally. He is mourning the loss of his parents. The relationship he had with them has been destroyed. I dont think thats something hes gonna get over in a day, and I dont think theres anything you can do to fix it.
Thats so fucked up. He doesnt deserve that. Hes such a great guy. It it almost makes me cry just seeing him all depressed like that. I wish there was something I could do.
I know, Kevin, said my uncle, putting his arm around my shoulders. But you have to let him grieve. All you can really do is let him know how much you care for him, and give him the time he needs.
What he said made sense, and I calmed down a little. Thanks, Uncle Don. I will.
We sat silently for a couple of minutes, and I thought about what he said, and I got an idea.
Hey, I said. Can I take some of the scrap lumber?
On any construction job, there is scrap lumber: pieces that are cut off and too small to be used for anything. Much of that is useless, and is scrapped. Some of the larger pieces, while not useable on the job, can still be useful for other things. Sometimes there is a little extra unused lumber too. On a big job like this, it is ordered by the truckload, not by individual piece, and there are sometimes whole pieces left over. Uncle Don has a general policy that any of the crew can take anything they want from the official scrap pile.
Of course, he said. What do you have in mind?
Well, I can build some shelves for him in the mini-storage place, so hell have some place to put all his equipment. Right now, all his equipment is just laying all over the place. I was getting a little excited. I might not be able to cheer him up, but I could do something to make his life a little easier. And I could make him a desk. His computers on the floor in my bedroom, and I dont really have anywhere to put it.
Uncle Don smiled at me. Thats very considerate of you. You could make someone a nice husband some day.
Ha, ha, very funny.
Youre a good guy, Kevin, and I mean that, he said more seriously. You want some help?
I didnt really need any help, but I thought he would be nice company, and I would probably get it done faster.
Sure, I said.
I backed my truck to the scrap pile and loaded up with anything I thought I might be able to use. Then we drove to the storage unit.
With both of us working, it took very little time to build some shelves. We cut and assembled it outside, because I knew Robby wouldnt want to get sawdust in the electronics. Then we carried it inside. It wasnt fancy, but it was sturdy and would do the job, and I was pleased with our efforts. We carefully put all Robbys equipment on the shelves.
Ill be out in a minute, I said when we were done. My uncle left and I made a note from scrap paper and taped it to a shelf. On it I wrote I love you Robby. I knew he would see it when he unloaded his van before he came home.
We drove to my apartment and, again with my uncles help, we built a makeshift desk. Like the shelves, it was nothing fancy, but it would work. We put it in a corner of the living room area. I thanked my uncle. We hugged and he left. I sanded the edges of the plywood top smooth so Robby wouldnt scrape himself. Then I carried his computer equipment in. I didnt attempt to plug it all inI wasnt sure exactly how it all went together, and it was more complicated than my simple computer. But I placed all the components where they looked like they would go.
I called my parents and talked to my mother for quite a while. I filled her in on what had transpired over the last few days.
Oh, Kevin, thats awful, said my mother when I was done.
Tell me about it. Thats why I didnt think it was a good idea for you to talk to his mom. I kinda dont think shes the PFLAG type.
Im so sorry. Thats exactly the kind of thing the people at PFLAG try to prevent. Can we do anything to help?
I dont think so. I asked Uncle Don that. He said I just have to give Robby some time.
Why dont you come over for dinner. Just the two of you. Tomorrow, if you want, or Saturday. Maybe it would be good for him to see that not all parents are like that.
That sounds nice, mom. Ill ask him when he gets home.
We said our goodbyes and hung up.
I waited for Robby to get home. I wanted to greet him when he walked in, anticipating how he might react to the shelves and desk. But after a while, I grew bored waiting, and eventually fell asleep watching the television.
It was dark, and the nightly news was on when I woke up, so it must be shortly after eleven oclock, I reasoned. Robby was standing next to the sofa.
Hey sleepy, he said softly.
Hey, I smiled at him. I stretched, waking up. Howd it go? Are you catching up?
Mostly. Itll be okay. He held up a folded piece of paper, which I recognized as the scrap Id written my note on. Thanks for the shelves. He almost smiled.
I made you a desk, too, I pointed.
You were busy while I was gone.
Its nothing fancy, but its strong. Sort of like me, I joked.
I flexed my arm exaggeratedly and smiled a dopey smile at him. That got a half a smile from him.
He started to plug in the assortment of cables that connected the components of his computer together. I turned off the television and went to the kitchen to make him a sandwich. When I returned, he was nearly done putting his computer all back together. I watched him as he finished up. He pushed the power button and sat back. I handed him the sandwich and we watched the startup screen and virus checker scroll through their routines.
Looks like its working, I said.
He ran some kind of diagnostic to make sure the computer was talking to the assorted external components properly.
Yep. One less thing to worry about. I thought my dad might go through trying to find records, or deleting stuff, or maybe even wipe the drive.
Yow. That would be bad.
Yes and no. Ive got backup. Thats what this is. He pointed to one of the external boxes that I hadnt recognized. But it would have been a pain, and I would have lost some data. I usually only back it up once a week.
I had never backed up my computer. But then, I didnt keep any important records on it.
Assured that everything was working okay, he shut it all down and we went to bed. He was still sad, but didnt cry himself to sleep this time. Still no sex, but I was willing to be patient. After a long emotional day, and then working until very late, I figured he must be exhausted. He dropped off to sleep almost immediately.
* * * * *
I kept glancing out the windows of the condo the next day, afraid I would see Robbys van again. I didnt know what else could go wrong, but I was starting to get paranoid. On every break, I went to the trailer and called Robby on his cellular phone, wanting to make sure he was all right.
We talked a little longer during my lunch break. I told him Id talked to my parents and that theyd invited us for dinner.
I was going to work late again, he said. I still have some catching up to do.
How about if I come and help, I said. I dont know all that technical stuff, but I worked as your assistant here at the condo. If I help, can we catch up so we can go over tomorrow?
I dont want to be a bother.
He still sounded depressed.
Robby, you arent a bother. Youre the guy I fell in love with. My uncle is right. I cant do anything about your parents, but at least let me help where I can. I want to.
Well, okay. It always goes faster with an extra pair of hands. We can go over to your parents tomorrow if you want.
We worked out details of where and when Id meet him after I got done at the condo site. You call if your dad shows up or anything, okay?
Yeah, yeah. Stop worrying already.
Ill try, I said. I decided not to push it. The last thing he needed was for me to become a pest. I love you. Ill see you after work.
I skipped my one beer at the end of the day, and dashed off to help Robby. We worked together until nine oclock. It was late, but at least we had caught him up from his missed days.
We stopped for tacos on the way home. At the apartment we checked our emails, and then I dragged him into the shower with me. Again, I got sort of horny, but Robbys libido was well and truly buried. I sighed, and just held him, hoping his sorrow would pass.
* * * * *
I was looking forward to dinner with my parents. I hoped it might help cheer Robby. It wasnt so simple, however. He always seemed so careful about his appearance, and had much nicer clothes than I. But he seemed disinterested, and simply wore whatever he grabbed out of the closet almost at random. Not that I cared what he wore. And he still dressed better than me. But it worried me that he didnt seem to care.
He tried to put on a smile when we got to my parents house, but it was a lifeless smile that was transparent to everyone. My mother made a valiant attempt to be normal, and I noticed she didnt drink any alcohol, nor offer any to the rest of us. My father looked as awkward as I felt over the last few days. They both tried to ignore the bruises on Robbys face, and nobody said anything about him wearing a baseball cap in the house to cover his stitches.
When we had finished eating, I noticed my parents give each other meaningful glances. My father cleared his throat.
Robby, he said. How much do you still owe your parents?
Dad! What kind of question is that?
Uh, a little over three thousand dollars, Robby said at the same time. He looked at me and shrugged. He didnt seem to care.
Settle down, Kevin, said my father.
We want to help, said my mother.
I wasnt sure what she meant.
We want to pay them off for you. Then you can get a fresh start in a bigger apartment, like you wanted.
Robby looked down. I I cant accept your money. It isnt your fault.
This isnt about laying blame, said my mother.
Weve helped Kevins brothers out, said my father. We helped David and Kathy with the down payment on their house. And we help pay for Johns college.
We arent wealthy, but we have saved some money for Kevin, too, said my mother. He doesnt seem college bound. So this seems like a meaningful way to contribute to you boys.
I looked at Robby. He was still staring at his lap. He sniffed.
I I dont want to be a burden.
He sniffed again. I could tell he was about to cry, and I knew he didnt want to do that in front of my parents. I glared at my mother.
You dont have to decide right now. I know youre having a hard time. Just please think about it, okay? We want you to have the money.
Robby sniffed again, unable to answer. I glared harder at my mother and looked pointedly at the kitchen.
Brad, said my mother, why dont you help me with the dishes, okay?
I sighed with relief. Apparently she got the hint. My parents cleared the table and disappeared into the kitchen.
As soon as they were out of sight I went around to Robby. I helped him up and took him by the waist, directing him toward the family room. We dropped onto a couch and Robby sank his head into his hands. His shoulders shook as he broke down.
I dont want to be a charity case, he sobbed quietly. That moneys supposed to be for you. I cant take it.
I sighed and pulled him to me. Youre no more of a charity case than my brothers. You heard my parents. They saved the money, and I aint using it for anything. And if were together, then the money isnt for me, its for us.
But you could use it for a down payment on a house or something some day.
Or I could blow it on a weekend gambling in Vegas.
This got sort of an amused snort from him. He calmed a little bit.
They like you, Robby. They see how happy you make me. They dont like whats happening with your parents any more than we do. Theyre just trying to help.
Yeah, I know, he sighed.
Besides, three thousand dollars isnt going to get me very far for a down payment for a house. A down payment for a new truck, maybe, but not a house.
See, you could use it for yourself.
I groaned. That was supposed to be a joke. I dont need a new truck. Mine isnt as nice or new as Uncle Dons, but it works just fine. He looked at me skeptically. Its just a big toolbox with wheels and an engine. Really, its just for hauling shit. It doesnt need to be new or fancy.
He still wasnt convinced. I took his hand.
It got us up to Shasta Lake and back. That was a nice trip, wasnt it? I kissed him softly on the lips.
Yeah He kissed me back. A soft hesitant kiss.
It was the first sign of anything approaching romantic feelings from Robby in several days, and I immediately popped a bone. I was half tempted to push him back on the couch and make out with him right there. I had enough awareness to realize that this small sign of affection did not mean he was as horny as I was. More an indication that there was a small opening in the wall of depression that surrounded him. I took that as a good sign.
Just think about it, okay?
He nodded meekly. He looked drained.
You wanna go home?
If you dont mind. Im toast.
My parents came in then, and we got up to leave.
I appreciate your offer, said Robby politely. Ill think about it.
He reached to shake my fathers hand, but my father brushed it aside and embraced him in a warm hug instead. This surprised me a little. My father is not big on hugs. Then my mother hugged him too. I could see Robby was on the verge of tears again, so I said a hasty goodbye and we left.
* * * * *
Over the following days, I had hoped things would get better for Robby. I was wrong. Instead, he sank deeper and deeper into depression. It wasnt a constant. There were occasional signs of life. But overall I could see his emotional state slipping.
I started to feel panic. I feared that I was losing him. I tried to do as my uncle suggested: show him I loved him and give him time. But my hugs and my signs of affection seemed to cloy at him, and he began to grow stiff or pull away. He had stopped crying on my shoulder, but his distant, hollow silences were even worse. Like he refused to allow himself to receive any comfort from me.
By Wednesday morning it was almost a relief when I went to workmy work schedule was earlier than hisand then I felt guilty for feeling relieved. I tried to call Robby on his cellular phone during my lunch break, but he wouldnt answer, and that made me a little mad.
At the end of the day, I stayed behind to talk to my uncle again. I told him how I thought Robby was slipping away from me.
Geez, Kevin, he said. I dont know what to say. Sounds like hes taking this really bad.
Yeah. And it seems like its getting worse, not better.
Hmmm. Has he talked to a doctor or anything? Ive heard there are anti-depression medications. I dont really know how they work, but it sounds like this might be a time when he needs something like that. Or maybe some professional help.
Like a shrink?
Yeah, maybe. I dont know. It might be worth thinking about.
I thought about it. While I could understand his depression, I couldnt understand the depths to which he seemed to be sinking, and had no clue how to help him. And it seemed like he needed some kind of help that I was incapable of providing. Simply waiting didnt seem to be working.
Ill talk to him about it, I said.
I thanked my uncle for the talk, and left. I drove home, buoyed by the talk, and with something else I could try to do to help.
But that was not to be. When I walked into my apartment I was in for a shock.
Robby was not there. I didnt expect him to behe usually worked later than I. But all his stuff was gone too. The desk Id made him was empty. I ran into the bedroom. His clothes were all gone. The only thing that remained was his green blanket, neatly folded on my bed. On it was a note.
Im sorry for all Ive put you through. I cant stay. You deserve someone better than me. I can no longer be a burden to you or accept money from your family. I hope you find someone to make you happy, but Im afraid it wont be me. Keep the blanket. You like it and it will remind you of good times we had instead of what I have become. Im sorry. Goodbye.
I dropped the paper as if it burned me.
I spent a while storming around my apartment wailing and throwing things. Why was this happening to me? We were so perfect for each other. Now this. I cursed his rotten parents and their blind religious prejudices. I got angry with Robby for giving up.
Finally I calmed down enough to try to think. Robby had given up on me, but I wasnt ready to give up on him. Not yet, anyway. Where would he go? Not home to his parents. Where else? I didnt know. Hopefully not back to that stupid ex-gay ministry that had messed him up so much before.
Finally, I hit on an idea. I called Nirasha. Shed known him much longer than I did. She might know where hed gone.
Nirasha! Its Kevin. Robbys gone!
Gone where? What are you talking about?
I realized then that neither of us had talked to her in a couple of weeks. She had no idea what was going on.
I took a deep breath. Alex outed Robby to his parents. His dad hit him and I had to take him to the hospital. He couldnt go home so he moved in with me. But his stuff was still over at his parents. So Brian pretended to be his lawyer and we fooled his mom into giving his stuff back, but they were really horrible to him. Hes been depressed ever since. My parents tried to offer him some money so he could pay off his parents so we could get a bigger place, but that just seemed to make things worse. He just kept getting more and more depressed. And when I got home this afternoon, all his stuff was gone. All that was left was a note.
Slow down, white boy. Breath. I only got about half a that, but I get the idea.
I realized I had babbled that all out like one giant run-on sentence. Nirashas calm reasonableness soothed me a little.
Why dont you read me the note. What it say?
I walked over and picked it up from where Id dropped it. I read it to her.
What if he does something awful? I almost wailed, unable to say the word.
You mean suicide?
Oh, Nirasha. I cant handle that.
Calm down, Kevin. He self destructive, not suicidal.
I wasnt convinced.
You say he took all his stuff?
Yeah, its all gone.
Would he pack up all his stuff and take it away if he gonna kill his self?
Well I guess that doesnt make sense. I calmed down a little. What am I going to do, Nirasha? I gotta get him back. I dont want to lose him.
You got a big heart for a construction worker. Anybody ever tell you that? She didnt wait for an answer. Let me think a minute.
I was hoping you might know where he went.
She didnt say anything for a minute, then she said, Actually, I think I do.
You know he get self destructive some times when he down, right?
So who would he go to? Who abuse him the worse?
Bzzzt. Wrong answer. Guess again. Not abuse by his parents. Abuse sexually.
Yes, Alex. You pretty smart for a construction worker, once you calm down and think.
Do you know where Alex lives? I dont even know his last name.
I hunted around for a pencil. Tell me his address. Im going over there.
Not without me you aint. Come pick me up. We both goin.
You dont have to do that.
You wasting time, Kevin. I dont know what goin on over at Alexs, but I dont think it pretty.
Ill pick you up in ten minutes, I said, and quickly hung up.
(To be continued.)
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