SUMMARY: Past, present and future are mixed together and served up in this loose retelling of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. You can find a longer synopsis of the entire story here. Please note that italics are typically used within the story to indicate what a character is thinking or saying to himself.
WARNING: This story is a work of adult fiction and intended for mature audiences only. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. The story may describe, depict or otherwise include graphic portrayals of relationships between men and/or adolescent boys that are homosexual in nature. If you do not like or approve of such discussions or it is illegal for you to read such material, please take note and consider yourself warned. If you continue to read this story, you are asserting that you are fully capable of understanding and legally consenting to reading a work of adult fiction.
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AUTHOR NOTES: This is my holiday gift to you. It's undoubtedly been done before and better, but every generation of writers has a new take on the tale and this is mine. I hope it will haunt your house as pleasantly as the original. As Dickens noted, I have endeavored not to "put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me." Read, enjoy, and feel free to participate in the creative process, either directly below if you are reading this story at the web site where I post my stories or by sending me an e-mail if reading it elsewhere. You can find my e-mail address at either my web site or my my blog. I would appreciate hearing from you even if only to let me know about any spelling or other errors you find since I would like to correct those wherever possible.
THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER: In Chapter 3 Brian volunteers to drive the receptionist in the office where he works to the bus station in downtown Washington. Because the station is located in a bad part of town, he stays with her until her bus arrives. While the two of them wait, he spots a drug dealer making the rounds of the place. Later he buys some marijuana from the dealer. Stepping outside he notices the Café Palermo across the street and decides to go in for a drink. As he approaches the door, however, a young boy emerges from the shadows, shivering and cold. Brian gives the boy all the money he has and then walks back to his car and drives home. He smokes a joint and that brings on memories of a time when he was thirteen and struggling to come to grips with being gay. Encouraged to go to confession by a young priest at his parish who he likes and admires, Brian reveals he has been looking at magazines featuring men and boys having sex. He is surprised when the priest doesn't condemn him. Instead, he indicates that Brian may just be curious and going through a phase; and that if he is homosexual, there is nothing wrong with that because God doesn't make mistakes.
WITH APOLOGIES MR. DICKENS
A Tale of Sin and Redemption
I remember leaving the rectory that morning feeling totally drained. I had never been through an emotional wringer like that; and yet I also recall feeling better than when I had entered the rectory.
God made you perfect exactly the way you are, Father Richard had said.
It had come as a shock. I had been expecting him to be disappointed or mad at me and to tell me what I already knew, that I was sinner headed straight for Hell. Instead, he had given me hope and a whole different way of looking at things. Maybe I was just curious after all; curious about my body and how it compared to others, curious about sex itself.
Maybe I wasn’t queer after all; maybe I was just going through some kind of phase and was normal like the rest of the boys.
I mean, yeah, sure, I still had my doubts about that. But what if I was queer after all? It wouldn’t be great. I understood that. I didn’t want to be queer, but maybe it wasn’t the worst thing that could ever happen to me.
God does not make mistakes, Brian, he had told me. If you’re a homosexual, it’s because God decided you should be.
It made me feel a little better about myself, just like it made me feel better knowing that maybe I wasn’t going to Hell, that God loved me and had a plan for me, and maybe He didn’t even mind all that much if I was queer.
Not that I was completely relieved, of course. Every boy I knew at school hated queers with a passion. They were constantly checking up on you to make sure there weren’t any queers hiding among us; and I was right there with them, checking up on everyone else. Father Richard had been right about that. If I was a homosexual, it was going to be hard. I mean, who wants to be different after all?
I didn’t want to. I wanted to be normal like everyone else. I wanted to blend in. But if I was being totally honest about it, I wasn’t sure that I was.
I had seen pictures of naked girls, of men and women having sex. I had even looked at some of those with my friends. Unlike my friends, however, I wasn’t really attracted to the boobs girls had. I don’t know why not, but I could never get excited like they did when we looked at pictures of boobs; and when we looked at the pictures of men and women having sex, it wasn’t the woman’s vagina that excited me. I got aroused and excited looking at something else.
I found myself wanting to touch it, just like I touched my own in the evening. And I wanted to do other things with it, things I was too ashamed or embarrassed to even talk about. Like I said, I was hoping the whole thing was some kind of phase I was going through and maybe it was, at least if Father Richard was right. And yet, if it was some kind of phase, it had been going on for a very long time now.
Truth be told, my interest in boys seemed to be growing stronger.
Knowing how they felt about queers, I was too scared to say anything about that to any of my friends. I remember thinking I needed to keep doing what I had always done, to keep the whole thing to myself. I mean, there was a part of me that was glad Father Richard knew and didn’t hate me. But I couldn’t be sure how anyone else would react if they knew.
Best to keep it to yourself, Brian, I recall thinking.
Best to keep your mouth shut.
It’s kind of funny in a way. When you’ve been through what I had just gone through, you expect everything to be different somehow. Later I learned the word for it is catharsis. Whatever it was, I expected things to change in a big way after I went to confession. I didn’t know how exactly, but it seemed like everything should change after something like that.
Yet, in the weeks that followed, nothing much changed in my life. I still went to Mass every Sunday. I served on the altar every Tuesday. Father Richard was as friendly as ever; and since nobody else seemed to have any suspicions about me, life seemed pretty much the same.
I remember spending a lot of time thinking about what Father Richard had told me and began to wonder how I would ever know whether I was queer or just curious. I mean, it wasn’t like God was going to send me a letter explaining the whole thing. He had more important things to worry about than stuff like that.
So how would I ever know?
I remember thinking I needed to ask Father Richard about that. But he seemed to be busier than ever with church business as the summer wore on and there never seemed to be a good opportunity to raise it with him.
And then one evening in August my mother told me Father Richard had spoken to her and my father. He had decided to take some of the boys from our parish on a trip to Boston to see the Red Sox play as a reward for serving on the altar that summer; and since I had been doing that, he wondered whether I would be interested in going and whether they would permit me to go to the game with him and the rest of the boys who had served?
As far as being interested goes, my parents already knew the answer to that without having to ask me. I was into the Red Sox big time back then. I watched their games whenever they were broadcast on the local television station in our town and listened to the rest of them on the radio, even the ones that went late into the night. I had my favorites among the players and knew the stats for all of the starters.
The Sox may not have been having the greatest season that year. It wasn’t like 1967 when they won the pennant. But there was still a chance they could win it all; at least you had to believe there was a chance if you were a real fan like I was.
I definitely wanted to go.
But my parents, especially my Mom, were less certain whether they should let me go.
“Your father thinks you’re mature enough to do something like this,” my mother said. “But frankly I have my doubts, Brian. For one thing, you would have to stay overnight in Boston because the game is in the evening. Father Richard said he would be getting enough rooms for you and the other boys to each have your own bed, but I’m worried you’ll cause problems being alone like that in a room with other young boys, especially Sam Miller and those Olsen twins. They’re always getting into some kind of trouble.”
“I guess the issue is whether you’re responsible enough to do something like this. Your father and I are fine with you going to the game provided you can act like an adult and not create problems for Father Richard. It’s very generous of him to offer to take you boys, but you need to behave appropriately if we let you go. Do you think you can do that?”
“I can, Mom, absolutely,” I responded immediately. “I know I can. I won’t make any trouble at all. I promise. You can ground me forever if Father Richard tells you I made trouble, any trouble at all. I won’t.”
I mean, I wanted to go to that game really bad. I had only been to Fenway Park once before with my father and that had been a long time ago when I was real little. I had tried to persuade him to go again on many occasions, but he had to work to support us and I knew it wasn’t easy for him to take a day off, even on the weekends. And between the gas, the tolls, the parking, the tickets and all the rest of it, I knew it cost a lot of money too and we didn’t have that much.
But this was different. It wouldn’t cost very much because Father Richard was going to treat me, Sam Miller and the Olsen twins.
I wouldn’t cause any problems I assured them again.
They could count on it.
So with that assurance my parents gave their permission and eventually the appointed day arrived.
As with other trips we had taken around town in his car, I ended up in the front with Father Richard. That was important to me, especially after I had made my confession. It reaffirmed I was still his favorite in spite of everything he knew about me.
It was a beautiful day, warm but not humid, and the drive down to Boston from Maine was uneventful. The Olsen brothers and Sam were going crazy in the back seat fooling around, but I was on my best behavior the whole way as I tried as hard as I could to keep my promise. I didn’t want to distract Father while he was driving so I tried to be quiet and helpful, keeping an eye out for signs and helping him find parking near the hotel we were going to stay at before we took the T over to Fenway Park.
We got to Fenway well before the start of the game that evening and the seats Father Richard had gotten for the five of us were perfect. We were close to the field along the third base line. I couldn’t believe it. The whole thing was incredible.
There was Yaz in left field. He was struggling at the plate that year, but was still one of my favorites. I had been mad when they traded Tony to the Angels, but there was his brother, Billy, still holding down center field. After acquiring Luis to play shortstop, they had moved Rico to third base. He was having a lot of difficulties at the plate as well. They all were. But he made up for it with his glove.
I remember shouting encouragement to all of my favorites during the pre-game warm-ups and begging them to toss a ball our way. None of them did, but eventually this backup rookie catcher named Carleton Fisk wandered over and autographed my glove for me. It was unbelievable. Talk about being happy!
After that the rest of the evening was perfect. Jim was on the mound and he had command of his stuff that night. The Spaceman and Sparky cleaned up late in the game and the Sox won in a blow-out. Best of all, Father Richard insisted on paying for the hot dogs, sodas and treats that were our meal for the evening. That allowed me to use the money my parents had given me to buy a genuine Red Sox cap instead.
By the time we got back to the hotel that night I was in seventh heaven. It was only then that a problem arose. Father Richard had reserved three rooms so that everyone would have their own bed. But the hotel said there must have been a mistake, that only two rooms were reserved. One had two twin beds plus a rollaway bed in the couch. The other just had a double and a couch.
After some discussion it was decided Sam and the Olsen twins would stay in the room with the two twin beds. Sam would have one and the Olsen twins would either sleep in the other together or one of them would sleep on the rollaway bed in the couch. Father Richard and I would occupy the other room, still another sign I was his favorite. It wasn’t going to be a problem after all.
By the time we finally got to our room it was late and I was anxious to get to bed. I hadn’t brought any pajamas along. Expecting to have my own bed and to end up in a room with Sam Miller, I had been planning to sleep naked, thinking maybe that would encourage Sam to do likewise. I kind of had a crush on him back then and was hoping to catch a glimpse of him naked.
But it wouldn’t be a problem sleeping in my briefs and t-shirt either. I had done that before.
The problem was that, unlike the other room, the couch didn’t have a rollaway bed. But that didn’t faze me.
“I can sleep on the couch, Father,” I offered. “It won’t be a problem.”
The couch was small and my legs would hang over one end, but I knew I could do it. And I figure it was important to let Father Richard get a good night’s sleep what with all the driving he was doing.
“Don’t be silly, Brian,” he responded. “It’ll be a little tight, but there’s certainly enough room for both of us in that double bed. Now get yourself cleaned up, say your prayers, and go to sleep.”
I figured that would be okay. I mean, I usually slept on the side of my bed at home in any event so I wouldn’t take up that much room. I went to the bathroom and brushed my teeth. Then I knelt down next to the bed and said my prayers.
I thanked God for sending Father Richard to our parish and the outcome of the game and for the perfect day I had just enjoyed. I prayed for my Mom and Dad, my brothers and sister, and then I hopped into bed. Looking over, I could see Father Richard saying his office. I was tired and soon enough my eyes began to feel drowsy.
I was almost asleep when he climbed into bed. He was totally naked and I guess that shocked me. It had never occurred to me a priest might sleep naked like that. I had always figured they probably wore their collar and clerical garb to bed.
I pretended to be asleep, but I guess he knew that I wasn’t.
“I’ve been meaning to ask how you’re doing, Brian?” he said softly. “It’s been a while since we talked about you and your situation. Are you feeling better about things? Have you come to any conclusions or do you have any questions? I apologize for not asking sooner. I’ve just been so stressed out with work.”
“I understand, Father. I know you’ve been busy and I didn’t want to bother you. I mean, the thing is, I’ve been thinking about what we discussed a lot and I remember you saying you couldn’t be a hundred percent certain I was a homosexual. Do you think maybe there’s a chance I’m not, that I’m just curious instead?”
“There’s a chance, Brian,” he responded.
“Um, well, the question I keep having is this, Father. How will I know? How will I know if it’s just curiosity or whether I’m a homosexual?”
“That’s a very good question, Brian, but not an easy one to answer,” he replied. “I suppose there’s only one way to know for sure. But other than that I think you’ll just have to wait and see. It could take several years, maybe more, before you know for sure.”
To be honest about it, the thought of having to wait several years to find out wasn’t real appealing to me. I had been struggling with this for a long time now and I wanted to know one way or the other.
“Well, then, you said there’s one way to know for sure, Father; how?”
“You could have sex with a man and see whether you liked it,” he responded. “If you’re not a homosexual, you wouldn’t like having sex with a man. On the other hand, if you experienced any pleasure, any pleasure at all, then you would know for sure you are.”
“I see,” I replied.
I mean, it was shocking how he had said it so casually like that, but by now I was getting used to Father being different from other priests and what he said seemed to make sense.
“Wouldn’t that be a sin?” I asked. “I mean, to have sex with a man just to find out whether I was a homosexual.”
“No, I don’t think so, Brian, at least not if you genuinely liked the man,” he responded. “I think God would understand you wanting to know whether being homosexual was part of His plan for you.”
I remember wondering whether he was right about that; not that it really mattered, of course, even if he was. I mean, hell, I was thirteen years old. I lived in a small town in Maine. If I was a homosexual, I was probably the only one in town. Who was I going to have sex with to find out the truth?
“Would you like to find out for sure tonight, Brian?” Father Richard asked.
“Um, well, how?” I replied.
“We could have sex and then you would know,” he responded.
I remember being completely flabbergasted when he said it. I never would have thought of something like that in a million years. And then he placed his hand on my thigh and I could feel myself going hard immediately at the touch of his hand. My heart started pounding and I seemed to be having trouble breathing. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to say, but finally the words came blurting out.
“Oh no, Father, I could never do that. You’re a priest. It would be wrong. I mean, it’s probably wrong doing it with anyone, but it would be especially wrong doing it with a priest.”
“What is a priest, Brian?” he replied. “A priest is a counselor and I’ve been very worried about your physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. I still am. God has made me your spiritual counselor and I love you very much; and as I’ve told you before, having sex with someone you love is never a sin. But it’s your choice entirely whether you’re mature enough to take this final step in your journey of self-discovery, whether you wish to remain a boy or you’re ready to become a man.”
Was I mature enough?
Did I want to remain a boy or was I ready to become a man?
No one had ever treated me like a man before. No one had ever told me it was my decision to make.
I remember wondering for a moment whether it was really my decision to make or whether the decision had already been made; whether what was happening was spontaneous or whether the whole day had been planned for this moment.
It was just a fleeting thought because by now I was totally aroused and my body was tingling with pleasure and too much else was happening for me to think about anything else.
And then he kissed me and I knew everything in my life was about to change.
The drive home to Maine the next day seemed to take a lot longer for some reason. Perhaps it was the rain that accompanied us up I-95 to Portland and then beyond to the town where we lived. Sam and the Olsen twins slept most of the way. From what they said at breakfast that morning, I gathered they had stayed up late the previous evening having fun together. I was sorry I had missed out on that.
Whatever the reason, they were much quieter than they had been on the way down to Boston.
I hadn’t slept very well the previous evening either so I was tired; and being tired was a good enough excuse for me to be quiet as well.
Father Richard had been friendly enough in the morning when we woke up. It was if nothing at all had happened. He had suggested I take a shower so I did. I remember closing the bathroom door behind me, then turning the lock.
Looking into the mirror, I remember wondering if I was a man now, if this is how being a man looked like, how it felt. Staring at the reflection in the mirror, it seemed to me nothing very much had changed. The reflection staring back at me was still the same one that always stared back.
It was only when I turned to head for the shower that I noticed my butt was throbbing a little. But it wasn’t that big a deal and even my butt seemed pretty much normal after I had taken my shower and cleaned myself up that morning.
We got home around lunch time that day. I told my mother I wasn’t hungry, just tired from being up late and the long drive back to Maine. I went upstairs to my room and fell asleep quickly. I remember sleeping a long time that day.
After that evening in Boston he insisted on seeing me daily for counseling. I can’t recall what we talked about very much. Mostly what I recall is being down on my hands and knees, naked, after the talking was finished. He would kneel down behind me and rub my back for a while. I liked that.
And then he would kiss my neck from behind, his little signal it was time for me to brace myself. There was always a moment of nothingness that followed after he stopped kissing my neck. Then I would feel him pushing inside me. Pressing my head to the floor, I would wait patiently for him to finish.
I never told my parents. I had told them I was old enough to behave like an adult. I had promised not to make trouble for Father Richard; and I was too ashamed and embarrassed about what was happening to tell them in any event.
And then one day in November my parents told me Father Richard had been transferred somewhere else. No one seemed to know where exactly. It was just one of those things that happened from time to time. One day a priest would be there. The next he would be somewhere else.
You got used to it happening because it happened on a regular basis.
I remember being confused at first after he was transferred. Part of me was glad he was gone, part of me sad, but mostly I was confused.
I remember trying to sort everything out in my mind, but it was hard. Was he genuinely helping me figure the whole thing out? Had it been planned in advance or was it just because the hotel had made a mistake? Did I like letting him do it to me or hate it?
There was so much pleasure when he did it, but then I would feel ashamed and guilty as I made my way home from the rectory. And yet, if I hated it, why did I keep going back and letting him do it to me over and over again?
I was never entirely certain back then. I had lots of questions, but answers were more elusive.
By December the confusion and disbelief had given way to anger and then the anger had given way to something else entirely, a kind of indifference I guess. But I could never really pull off indifference and slipped back into anger soon enough. I decided not to go to midnight Mass that Christmas Eve. We had been doing that ever since I stopped believing in Santa, but I didn’t want to do it that night for some reason. I didn’t want to go to Mass anymore.
It had caused a big fight. There had been lots of screaming and shouting in the house that evening. They said I was ruining Christmas and I just kept saying I didn’t want to go, over and over again. And finally after more screaming and shouting, I gave in and went like they wanted me to and seethed the whole time I was there. But I stopped going to Church entirely not long after that.
They didn’t like it. They kept asking me why. It caused a lot of problems at home because I couldn’t explain it to them when they asked and so they could never accept it. But they didn’t abandon me either and that was enough to get me through high school.
Years later I remember going back to Maine one time to visit my parents. I did it a couple of times a year back then. It was on one of those visits my mother brought it up.
A friend of a friend had a friend who had told her why Father Richard had been reassigned. Apparently there had been a problem. Some boy in town had told his parents that Father Richard had touched him improperly. A second boy had come forward as well and the Bishop had responded by removing him from our parish.
Hearing this had come as a shock to my parents; and so my mother had asked me whether anything like that had ever happened to me when I was younger.
I didn’t know what to tell her. It wasn’t like it would change anything if I told the truth. What good would it have done? It wasn’t as if anyone was planning to tell the authorities or that the authorities would do anything if they did. Things like that were hushed up back then.
I could see how much she was already upset by what she had learned and knew how devastated she would be if I told her the truth. So I didn’t tell her the truth. I just said no, that Father Richard had never done anything like that to me.
Seeing her face relax as all of her fears suddenly drained away, I was happy I never told her.
But it was as much of a shock to me to hear all of that as it was to my parents.
There had been others. I wasn’t the only one. I wasn’t his favorite after all. He didn’t have a favorite. All of us had been his favorites.
Like I said, all of that came much later.
In the beginning, there had been the pain that first night in Boston.
“Stop, Father, stop,” I recall pleading. “It hurts. Please, Father, stop. Please stop doing it.”
And yet, even as I pleaded with him to stop, somehow I knew he wouldn’t.
“Try to relax, Brian,” he responded. “You’ll enjoy this much more if you’ll just relax and accept this as my gift to you.”
Knowing I could deal with the pain, I had stopped pleading with him and then the only sound in our room was the rhythmic slapping of flesh upon flesh.
Later, as his strokes came faster, harder and deeper, there had been the pleasure.
Then there had been the explosion, so powerful, so intense, the culmination of all the pleasure.
That had brought on the shame and embarrassment as what he had planted inside me came dribbling out, hesitantly at first, then more and more insistently.
He had laughed as he watched it happen and I had told him how sorry I was for doing that. But he just laughed again and said not to worry about it.
Of the three, I think it was the pleasure that was hardest for me to deal with.
I had enjoyed it and I knew what that meant.
“You could have sex with a man and see whether you liked it,” he had said. “If you’re not a homosexual, you wouldn’t like having sex with a man. On the other hand, if you experienced any pleasure, any pleasure at all, then you would know for sure you are.”
All of my struggling was finished. There was no longer any doubt.
I was thirteen and I was queer and I had never felt so alone in my life.
I could hear a chiming sound in the background and remember being confused. I couldn’t recall ever hearing that chiming sound in Boston that evening.
“Stop, damn it, I want you to stop,” I remember screaming as I opened my eyes.
My arms were flailing wildly in every direction and I was punching the air as hard as I could.
And then I realized it was just the sound of the grandfather clock striking midnight.
I looked around and realized I was alone.
The room was dark now, the flames in the fireplace long since extinguished.
Jesus, what a trip, I recall thinking. That stuff I smoked must have been really powerful.
And yet it had seemed like the whole thing was happening all over again. It had seemed as real and powerful as it had been at the time it was happening and now here I was alone, sweating like crazy in the middle of December in a house that was already cold.
I got up, drank a glass of water, and went to the bathroom. Then I climbed the stairs, collapsed into bed, and tried to calm myself down.
He molested me, I remember thinking.
It was never about helping me. It was about him fucking my ass.
How could I have been stupid enough to trust him?