THE PHOENIX CENTER
a story series by K.L. Montgomery
© 2007 K.L. Montgomery, all rights reserved.
“When I was a young boy,
my father took me into the city
to see a marching band.
He said, 'Son, when you grow up,
will you be a savior to the broken,
the beaten and the damned?'”
Dr. Kevin Stockwell, known better as Dr. Kev, was in the employee's lounge having a cup of coffee when his pager went off. Grabbing his coffee, Dr. Kev walked down the hallway to the patient check-in kiosk to review the latest person to walk through the doors. Dr. Kev was the lead therapist for the men's ward at the Phoenix Center for Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation, or PC-Dar, as it was commonly called.
The middle-aged lady at the desk handed Dr. Kev a fax containing the medical records of the center's newest patient. After spending a few moments reviewing the info, Dr. Kev led the new patient into the interview room.
“Have a seat there, young man,” Dr. Kev said. The patient slumped down on an old beaten love seat and sharply exhaled.
“So, your name is Jeremy Cauldwell. You are 19 years old and your mother sent you here for treatment because you overdosed on ecstasy, correct?”
“Yeah.”, Jeremy mumbled.
“What made you decide to do that?”, the doctor asked.
“Well, I was pissed off at a lot of people.”
“Pissed off about what?”
“The fact that my stupid-ass stepfather refuses to accept me for who I am instead of conforming to his ideal type of being some arrogant jock like him.”
“And what do you mean when you say he refuses to accept you for who you are?”
“I'm gay, doc. Have been since I was 13. My stepfather has never accepted that. He still thinks I'm just saying I'm gay to grab attention. But I really am gay, I'm not making this shit up. I've had sex with guys about a dozen times in the past couple of years.”
“Well, why don't you tell me more about yourself, how you were raised and all of that.”
“Okay, doc. I was raised in a great home with a mother who loved me dearly. My biological father was a Marine and he was sent to the Persian Gulf back in '91. I was only 3 years old. He fought in the Gulf War and he came home in a body bag.”
“Was he killed in action?”
“Yes. Shot in the head by a sniper from the opposition.”
“How did you deal with that?”
“My mom was devastated. I was confused because I was too young to fully understand things.”
“And when did your stepfather come into the picture?”
“When I was 5. My mom had been friends with one of her co-workers, and they became attracted to each other, so they got married.”
“How was your relationship with your stepfather in the beginning?”
“I guess you could say it was average. He'd take me fishing on Saturdays and bowling on Sundays. He tried really hard to bond with me, and for the first few years I enjoyed hanging out with him.”
“When did things start to take a turn for the worse?”
“When I was 12. That's when I had my first gay crush on my friend Jeff. We'd sneak off to the basement in his house and we'd watch each other jerk off. That's about all we did.”
“So nothing sexual happened between you and Jeff?”
“Unfortunately, no. But God I wish something sexual did happen because I had a very big crush on him, even after he started dating girls.”
“So tell me about how you dealt with your intimate feelings towards guys.”
“I kept it a secret from everyone else in middle school. I didn't want the tough boys beating me up and calling me a faggot or a homo. It wasn't until I started high school when I had my first true sexual encounter.”
“And how was that for you?”
“Well, doc, it was like the whole world was lifted off my shoulders. I wasn't scared anymore about what other kids though of me being gay. There was a gay/straight alliance that had just been established, so I joined and quickly found friends and allies.”
“So how did your mom and stepfather find out about you being gay?”
“Well, I was 16 and was at school when my stepdad came in my room to pick up my load of dirty laundry to be washed. He stumbled upon my secret stash of gay porn magazines and videotapes. When I came home, he wouldn't say a word to me. My mom told me what happened, and that's when I spilled my guts.”
“How did she take it?”
“Well, surprisingly, she took it pretty good. We did have a long talk about safe sex and meeting guys, and by the evening, she understood and accepted me. My stepdad, on the other hand, refused to accept the fact that the young man he tried so hard to form a bond with was a sissy.”
“And you must've been very upset at him for not accepting you.”
“Hell, yeah, I was! After I graduated, I moved out and stayed with a couple of my buddies.”
“And I assume that's when you got into the rave scene, right?”
“Yep. When I went to a rave, it gave me the opportunity to let go of my inhibitions and just have fun for one night. I didn't start doing ecstasy until I met Kyle.”
“Was Kyle your boyfriend?”
“For a few months. We'd take a couple of pills of E and dance all night, then I'd go back to his apartment and we'd spend several hours fucking each other's brains out. The relationship ended when he fell in love with a bartender at the club.”
“So, once your boyfriend broke up with you to see someone else, that's when you started turning to designer drugs to deal with the emotions.”
“Yep. I started doing more E, did some cocaine and smoked marijuana. It was all just a temporary escape from my problems with my stepdad and how I was feeling inside.”
“So what led up to your overdose that brought you here?”
“When I was visiting my mom, and my stepdad finally had the balls to confront me about my sexuality. Me and him were in a shouting match, and he punched me in the face and called me a queer.”
“And that made you very angry, right?”
“Of course it did, doc. I was hurt. I left to go back to my apartment, and that's when I gathered up all of the pills I had hidden in the bathroom and swallowed every last pill. Then I laid down to sleep, and the next thing I know, I wake up in the ER and these nurses are pumping my stomach. My mom was in the waiting room, and she told the doctor to send me here to get help.”
“Are you willing to seek help while you're here?”
“If people will listen to me and understand what I have to say, then I'm sure I can get help.”
After Jeremy signed some papers and filled out a survey, Dr. Stockwell brought Jeremy into the Day Room and introduced him to the other patients. After Dr. Stockwell left, Jeremy took a seat in an empty chair. Many of the guys were watching a baseball game on the TV.
Jeremy looked around the room for someone to talk to. He saw a handsome-looking young man sitting at a table solving a crossword puzzle. Jeremy walked over to him and sat down.
The other young man looked at Jeremy and smiled. “So you must be the new guy, right?”, he asked.
“Yep, that's me. My name's Jeremy.”
“Mine's Damon. How old are you, Jeremy?”
“Cool. I'm 20. So what brings you here?”
“OD'd on pills after fighting with my stepdad. How about you?”
“Got drunk at a party and got into a fight.”
The two young men spent a whole hour talking about random things; what kind of music they liked listening to, what movies they liked seeing. The two found a lot in common and quickly hit it off.
“So, why did you and your stepdad fight about?”, Damon asked.
“Because I'm gay and he won't accept it.”
“That sucks. I'm gay, too, it's just that I've been in self-denial for a long time. I'm in a fraternity at college and I'm afraid to come out to any of my frat buddies. It's scary.”
“I know how you feel, dude. When I had my first gay crush, I had a million thoughts racing through my head. So have you come out to anybody yet?”
“No, Jeremy. I haven't mustered up enough courage to do so. I'm waiting for the right time to do it.”
Jeremy studied Damon as he talked more about college. Damon was a tall guy, with a swimmer's build. He had short black hair, and he had a tribal band tattooed on his right arm. When Damon smiled, Jeremy could see shiny brilliant white teeth. He saw that Damon's tongue was pierced, and he had his lip pierced, too.
As the two continued talking, a buzzer sounded on the intercom, and a female voice announced that it was time for support group.
Written Friday April 6, 2007. --KLM