Those Golden Eyes
Lloyd showed up at a high school gymnasium that was on the address on the list his wife had left for him. His mother-in-law had called earlier to tell him she would meet him there.
He sat in his pickup and watched the people arriving. He was mildly shocked to recognize Arnie Johnson and his wife. They owned one of the nicer restaurants on this side of town. He wondered why they were there. They only had one son and he was the star of the football team. Well, he thought to himself, if Arnie was man enough to attend one of these meeting he wouldn't be out done. He open the door and slid out.
He heard his name called as he stepped onto the sidewalk. He turned and saw his mother- in law, Jean, hurrying toward him.
"Oh, Lloyd, I'm so glad that you've decided to do this."
Her enthusiasm made him feel guilty. He just nodded in response.
When they enter the auditorium there were about sixty people standing or sitting in groups around the room. Jean smiled waved and said hi to several people.
"That's George Brown, he's a widower and his daughter Emily is a lesbian. He had a hard time accepting it."
Jean approached a woman younger than Mary. She was sitting by herself. Jean bent down and gave her a hug.
"How is Tommy doing, Lina?" She asked.
"He's coming along wonderfully now. He took his first steps without crutches this week."
"I'm so glad to hear that, dear. I'll stop up and visit him tomorrow." Jean volunteered as a candy striper at the hospital.
She and Lloyd moved on with her filling him in.
"When Tommy, he's fifteen, told his dad he was gay, his dad went ballistic. Tommy ended up with both arms and one leg
broken, a bad concussion and some serious internal damage, to say nothing of broken ribs and bruises. His dad is in jail
without bail. The judge is probably going to throw the book at him, attacking a little boy like that. Lina arrived home in
time to keep him from killing Tommy. She hit him in the head with a two by four. Knocked him out cold."
Lloyd thought about how he'd feel if one of his sons told him he was Queer--Gay, he corrected himself. He couldn't imagine attacking one of them, but he got a hard lump in his throat thinking that one of them could be that way. His eyes got a bit blurry. He thought about Max who wasn't good at any sports, who would rather read given the choice. His heart ached for the kid, he tried so hard to emulate his older brother. If it was possible to love one of his sons more than another it was Max that he loved more.
The sharp crack of a gavel had everyone finding seats. Lloyd looked around him at the array of people. They all looked like ordinary folk. Arnie and his wife were seated down the same row as Lloyd. Arnie caught his look and nodded to him. Lloyd watched him turn to his wife and say something. She leaned forward and waved with a smile. Lloyd was embarrassed thinking that they thought he was here because one of his boys was gay, as he assumed that was why they were here.
"Good evening, friends. My name is Chuck Nelson. I've been picked to lead this meeting. Two of my three children are gay." He looked around the room. Some people were nodding, others just looked at him. "At first, after learning this, I blamed myself. I thought that I must have done something wrong for this to happen to my boys. I called a psychologist. He advised me to save my money and come here. I am thankful he did. Through sharing my experiences with you. I learned that I was not at fault. There is not a thing I could have done to change my sons' sexual orientation. With your help and advise I realized that I had to give my boys all the love and guidance I could. Their lives are going to be hard enough without my adding to their difficulties.
"I am grateful to you all and I would like to say to any and all new comers I want to help you like I have been helped."
Through out the evening different people spoke of their experiences with gay relatives or friends. One theme stood out in Lloyd's mind. The people spoken of were basically normal with just a different sexual alignment. He started realizing that his prejudice had really affected all of the lives of his family including Jean, whom he loved as his own mother. He knew that she was aware of the reason that Dave kept his distance from his family. Yet she had never rebuked him. He put his arm around her shoulder and gave her a hug. She smiled and gave his hand a pat. Dave became aware that Arnie was at the podium.
He cleared his throat and looked around the room.
"This is the fourth meeting I have attended. I didn't come here to share in dealing with a loved one. I came because the court ordered me to. I am guilty of having abusively ejected a gay couple from my restaurant. They had done nothing more than hold hands for a moment. They brought charges of discrimination against me. They agreed that if I would attend these meetings for six months they would drop the charges.
"It was one of the kindest acts anyone has ever done for me. I have come to realize that my warped ignorant prejudice was completely uncalled for. I want to apologize to the two men, who, by the way, are here this evening, and try to make amends for publicly humiliating and embarrassing them. I was wrong in what I did.
He cleared his throat again.
"I will continue attending these meetings and I will also urge anyone that objects to any couple expressing their affection for each other in my restaurant, to join me. Ron and Bob I apologize. You are welcome any time to dine in my place. And I won't object to a little intimacy. You have as much right as anyone else to show how you feel toward your partner."
Arnie bowed his head for a moment then curtly nodded as he stepped away from the podium.
Lloyd walked Jean to her car. She kissed him on the cheek and got in. He stood there bemused as she drove away. He got into his pickup and drove home deep in thought.
He had gone to this meeting not knowing what to expect. He came away with his mind in turmoil. He'd been raised to believe that gays were perverts; that they preyed on children and sought to find converts. In this meeting there had been gays present, well, at least the two that Arnie had apologized to. Lloyd had studied the crowd. He couldn't figure out who they were.
He thought back to the days that he had dated Mary. Dave was still in high school then. He hadn't been a football jock, but he had been into track and swimming. Lloyd recalled how he'd been amazed at how fast Dave could move for a little guy.
Lloyd thought about how he'd been quite fond of Dave back then. He'd looked forward to having him as his brother-in-law. Then his anger rose remembering Mary telling him that Dave had come out to his mother and her. He'd really liked Dave until he'd done that. Dave had been in college then.
Lloyd had made some off the wall comment about queers and Mary had set him straight. He still remembered her last words on the subject that night. "If you love me you will accept Dave." 'Well,' Lloyd thought, 'I had her convinced that I had accepted him. It was really careless of me to let her overhear the conversation with David."
David. That was another thing that had rankled, but that, too, he had hidden from Mary. Having to accept naming his oldest son after the faggot. And to make it worse, Mary had called the boy David from the day he was born. As he thought about it he figured that the boy was lucky. He had always disliked the name Lloyd. He was thankful that at least it wasn't Floyd.
That was his last thought as he cuddled his pillow in his lonesome bed and fell asleep.
Lloyd stepped into a vast room. He knew it was full of faggots. He tell most of them were because of their flamboyancy. The rest of them had to be too, because of their proximity to each other. A real flamer sidled up to him. "My aren't you the butch one." He cooed in Lloyd's ear. "I'm not a faggot." Lloyd spat back. "Oooh, how would we know? Your in this room with us. Aren't you, big boy?" He looked around in a panic and saw Dave. He stood in the midst of them with space separating him from all the others. "Tell them, Dave, I'm not one of them." Bill Way was standing close behind Dave. He looked angry. He stared bullets at Lloyd. Dave just looked at him with a hurt expression and didn't answer.
Lloyd awoke and sat up in a cold sweat. He didn't often dream. Or he didn't often remember them on waking. Here he was, awake in middle of the night with this dream vivid in his mind. He closed his eyes and Dave was still there just looking at him with a hurt expression. He opened his eyes and got up, afraid to go back to sleep. He wandered into the kitchen a got a drink of water. He looked at the clock. Shit! it was four a.m. He might as well stay up he'd be getting up in an hour anyway. He put on a pot of coffee and headed for the shower. He reviewed the dream. When he thought of his appeal to Dave to defend him, he realized that he subconsciously didn't classify Dave with obvious ones. He wondered if that had any significance.
Lloyd locked the door to his office. It had been a long slow day. The dream stayed vivid in his mind. He had an appointment to keep with a psychologist in two hours. He wondered if he had the courage to tell him about the dream.
At seven sharp he was knocking on Dr. Townsend's office door. A casually dressed man of about fifty-five years of age opened the door and invited Lloyd to enter. The doctor introduced himself and offered him a cup of coffee or a soft drink. Lloyd accepted a Coke.
"I'm sorry I don't have a glass of ice to offer."
"That's okay. The can is fine."
"Please. Have a seat." The doctor motioned to one of the high-backed wing chairs. Lloyd sat. He was not comfortable being here.
"Tonight will be a short session, Lloyd." He said seating himself opposite him. "I may call you Lloyd? Or would you prefer Mr. Brown?"
"Lloyd's fine, Doctor."
"Well, in that case you may call me Harry. What I want to do first is go over the information that your wife Mary gave me."
"Alright." Lloyd felt very apprehensive.
"You have three sons, David 17, Max 14 and Gary11."
Harry looked up at Lloyd for confirmation. Lloyd nodded.
"You're 47 and Mary is 44."
"Your parents are both deceased and you have an older sister that you haven't seen or heard from in about 20 years."
" Mary's mother lives near you. She has a son younger than Mary, Dave. He's 42."
"Dave is a homosexual and this is the crux of the reason you are here."
Harry looked up at Lloyd. Lloyd stared at him as though he were willing him to make something of it. Harry raised an eyebrow, but made no comment.
"Lloyd, I'm going to give you some home work. It's simply to read these articles and pamphlets before our next meeting, which is Friday evening. I understand that you are going to PFLAG meetings, too."
Lloyd cleared his throat. "Excuse me, yes, I went to one last night."
"Good. And you'll be going to another one on Friday night?
"Yes, I will."
"Okay, Lloyd, that will be all for tonight. I will see you at seven p.m. Tomorrow night."
The house was eerily quiet, as Lloyd sat down to read. He looked at the first one, "Common Misconceptions About Homosexuality." He opened and read the first paragraph. His first thought was this has to be propaganda put out by the gays. He looked at the title page and saw that it was put out by the American Association of Psychiatrists. The author was a prominent Doctor who even he had heard of before. He went back to reading.
He read until he couldn't hold his eyes open any more. He trudged into the kitchen downed a glass of OJ and went to bed.
Again he was surrounded by hundreds of men who he knew were gay. And again in there midst stood a seventeen year old Dave, looking sad and hurt. His hands were held out towards him, palms up. Behind him stood Bill looking very belligerent. He looked around. Every man was turned towards him. There were no words spoken but he knew they were all asking, "Why?"
Lloyd woke up in a cold sweat. He turned on the light and looked at the clock. It was barely 12:30. He groaned, got out of bed and peed. He sat on the edge of the bed wondering if he could go back to sleep. He lay back down and closed his eyes.
'Why were they asking why? Why what?' He wondered. Bill appeared. "Why have you treated Dave like you have? What did he do to deserve it?" Lloyds eyes popped open. "I am awake. What is going on?" He said out loud. He got out of bed. 'I can't sleep. I'll keep dreaming.'
He went into the den and turned on the tv. He found and old movie. He laid back in the lounger to watch it. The color chart was hissing on the tube and daylight was brightening the room when he woke with a stiff neck, feeling worse than when he had fallen asleep, but he hadn't dreamed. He took three Tylenol, got the coffee to brewing and got into the shower.
The day dragged by with many of his crew commenting on how bad he looked. At seven he was back at Dr. Townsend's office.
When the Doctor opened the door for Lloyd he raised an eyebrow but made no comment about how he looked. He motioned for him to sit down.
"Would you like a Coke?"
Lloyd nodded. He handed him a can and sat in the high backed wing chair opposite Lloyd.
"Trouble sleeping?" He asked.
"Yeah, I miss my wife. And I keep having these dreams."
"You want to tell me about them?"
"I guess I should. They're not going to go away it seems until I deal with this problem."
Lloyd described the dreams in detail to the doctor. When he finished he looked at the doctor for comment. The doctor chewed his lower lip for a moment as he studied Lloyd.
"Describe Dave for me."
"Yes. Describe how you perceive him as a man."
"Well, he's about five foot eight with light brown hair and brown eyes."
"No, no, not a physical description. How do you see Dave in your mind."
Lloyd blushed. He looked at the floor for a moment and than laid back into the wing chair and closed his eyes.
"Dave is the most handsome man I've ever seen. When I look at him my heart hurts. He kind and gentle. He's very loving. He's probably the most considerate man I've ever met.
"He could have said something to Mary that would probably ended our marriage, but he kept his distance and said nothing. He even insisted that his mother say nothing to Mary about my treatment of him."
"Do you love him, Lloyd?"
Lloyd sat up and glared at the doctor.
"What the hell kind of question is that? I'm a man for Christ Sake. I have a wife and three sons."
Dr. Townsend's expression didn't change.
"Do you love him?" He repeated.
Lloyd stared at him for a few moments then covered his face. His body shook as he wept.
"Yes. Yes, God Dammit. I love him."
The doctor let him cry it out. Lloyd finally sat back with a final hard shudder. He looked at the doctor.
"Yes, I love Dave. That's why I can't be around him. That's why I verbally abuse him whenever I'm alone with him. Just looking at him I feel dirty. I was willingly give up my wife and son if he would love me in return."
"And you told Dave this?"
"Yes, I told him."
"And his response was?"
"He held me and explained that I had a responsibility to Mary and my new born son. He said he loved me too. But that he was in love with his partner Bill. And that sharing our love could never be."
"How did you feel about that? How did you react?"
"It made me feel like a real low life. I was spurned. I reacted badly. I told him to keep his queer ass away from me. I made it his fault that I felt like I did .....like I do.
"Dave is a good man. He didn't deserve to be treated like that. But he seemed to understand where I was coming from and after that the only time we've ever seen each other is in the company of my mother-in-law and Mary."
Lloyd was laid back into the chair his head wedged against the wing. His eyes were closed. He breathed deeply and shuddered every once in a while.He hadn't bothered to wipe the tears that streaked his face. The doctor sat and watched him. Lloyd had just been through a catharsis that would probably change his whole out look. After a few minutes when he had finally calmed down the doctor leaned forward.
Lloyd opened his eyes.
"How do you feel now?"
He closed his eyes. It was almost a minute before he answered. He finally leaned forward resting his elbows on his knees and clasping his hands together. He studied the floor as he spoke.
"I feel cleaner than I felt in a very long time. I feel that I now need to seek forgiveness, not only from Dave for treating like I have, but Mary and my boys, too. Mary is right, I deprived them of a loving uncle and brother for all these years. I hope they can all find it in their hearts to forgive me."
"Do you think you can forgive yourself?"
Lloyd sat up and looked the doctor in the eye.
"Not right now, Harry. Not until I have rectified the damage I've done to the people I love. Maybe then, but not right now."
He went back to staring the floor. Doctor Townsend studied him for several seconds before speaking.
"I don't think I've ever had a patient that was so openly honest with them self as you have been. To be honest with you, Lloyd, I thought that it would take months to get to this point. I don't think that there's anything further that I can do for you. I hope you'll come back in a month's time and fill me in on how your life has progressed.
"Sure, Harry. Thanks for your help."
When Lloyd got home it was nearly eleven. He had to talk to Mary even if it woke the whole house.
"Hello, Dave, This is Lloyd."
"How are you, Lloyd?"
He could here the concern in Dave's voice. He knew he was asking more than what those three little words meant.
"I'm going to be okay. I need to speak to your sister, please."
"Of course. Let me go call here."
Dave got up, put on a robe and padded out to the guest room. He tapped on the door.
"Mary, Lloyd is on the phone. I'll hang up my end when you pick up."
Dave dropped the robe and scooted back up against Joe, who wrapped him snugly against his chest.
"I think he's going to be okay."
"What makes you think that?"
"He referred to Mary as my sister not his wife."
"Yeah, think about the significance of that.
"You're saying that he's coming around to accepting you being Gay?"
"That's never been the problem, Joe, even though he made it seem so. I think he's finally accepting his own feelings and taking responsibility for them."
"I don't understand."
"I'll tell you the whole story tomorrow after Mary leaves."
At that moment the was a light tapping on the door.
"Come on in, Sis."
Mary opened the door and stepped in to the room. Dave was still snuggled up against Joe. Joe had an arm wrapped around his chest. She raised her eyebrows.
"I've never thought about you two in bed. You look so natural, so right. You're beautiful together."
Both men smiled at her. Dave patted the bed. Mary move to sit on the edge of it.
"So how is Lloyd?"
"He's going to be just fine. You'll probably be hearing from him in a day or so."
"That would be so nice."
"You know he really is a good man, a wonderful husband and father."
"I've always loved him, you know that, Mary."
Mary took Dave's hand in both of hers.
"I love you, little brother. You've been so patient with him."
"I knew he'd come around someday."
"Well, we need to make up for lost time." She sighed. "I've a long drive in the morning. You two rest well."
"She's a sweet lady. She's kinda like her brother."
"I love you, too, Joe. Good night, Big Guy"
He turned of the lamp and wiggled a little closer.
End of Chapter 14